When I was contacted to make up some recipes for Weight Watchers cheese a few weeks ago, I switched gears from what I normally post, and started with an obvious recipe—macaroni and cheese—and used whole grain pasta to make it healthier. Then last week, I posted hasselback potatoes covered in cheese. But after that, I really got stuck. Then I remembered nachos.
Now, I’m sure many of you will think that nachos are so easy, they aren’t worth posting, but sometimes it’s easy to forget the most basic dishes.
And I always forget about nachos. My kids love them, but most nights I forget all about them and complain about how my kids won’t eat what I make.
Granted, nachos aren’t necessarily that healthy, but if you use the right ingredients, they can actually be quite nutritious. And if it means the kids will eat something that isn’t loaded with sugar, then I’m happy.
Hasseback potatoes are all over the internet, and really, why shouldn’t they be? They’re made out of something almost everyone has in the cupboard, and then made absolutely gorgeous using a tool everyone owns.
When Weight Watcher’s sent me a sample of their Four Cheese Mexican Blend shredded cheese and asked me to make up some recipes, I thought about all the ways someone might want to eat cheese. Last week I posted a recipe for whole-grain macaroni and cheese, which was great, but then I wondered how I could use the cheese in a recipe for someone who doesn’t want a ton of cheese—just a little for flavor, and then I remembered how much I love Hasselback potatoes.
For the last few minutes of baking, I sprinkled them with some of the Weight Watchers’ 4 Cheese Mexican Blend. When they were ready to serve, I topped them with sour cream, but you can add anything you’d like.
For some reason, I was craving this on Saturday. Nothing else would do. All I wanted was a warm, gooey, chocolate chip cookie, straight out of an iron skillet. With just a little ice cream.
I flipped through a cookbook or two, and discovered you could make chocolate chip cookies with melted butter. One recipe (from The Weekend Baker by Abigail Dodge) even had you mix the entire dough in the saucepan where you melted the butter, and then scoop out the cookies from there. Since I was going to use the skillet to bake the cookie, I took their idea further and mixed the entire dough in the skillet and baked it just like that.
As this was a lazy Saturday, and my intent was only to satisfy my craving (not a den of Cub Scouts’ or a mob of preschoolers’), I exercised no financial caution and dumped an entire cup of chopped Valrhona chocolate into the mix. What resulted after baking was a cookie with a crispy outer shell on the top and bottom, and a soft center saturated with mini pools of flowing chocolate.
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Hmm, perhaps power food and macaroni and cheese don’t exactly go together. And maybe they don’t.
But let’s face it, the worst part about dieting is letting go of some of the warm comfort foods that we crave during the winter months. It’s kind of cruel when you think about it—that everyone should feel the need to diet in January—amongst raging blizzards and ice storms—and then feel guilty if they eat anything richer than a bowl of quinoa.
So I am here with a recipe to warm your soul and make you feel pretty good about your diet at the same time. The people at Weight Watchers sent me some of their cheese, and asked me to make up several recipes with it. Each week for the next few weeks, I’ll be posting a new recipe with the cheese, so stay tuned.
Though I was skeptical to use a reduced calorie cheese, I tried their Natural Mexican Four Cheese Blend (worth 2 points per serving), and found it to be much better than I thought.
I first tested it for taste. I found the cheese to be mild, and spot on for flavor compared to other full fat cheeses of the same variety.
Secondly, I tested it for meltiness. Twelve seconds in the microwave showed it melted just as nicely as regular cheese, lacking only in the grease film on the top. I’d say that’s a plus.
Once it checked out on those two points, I knew I could cook with it, so I put it right to work and made this whole grain macaroni and cheese.
Some artists say they keep to themselves, that they try not to look at other artists’ work for fear they will be influenced too heavily by what they see. Though I would love to be able to claim true originality for what I do—my designs, my recipes, my photographs—I can’t. For starters, I spent about a dozen years looking at food photography and beautiful cookbooks before ever deciding I wanted to do anything like it. So even if I threw all my Martha Stewart Living Magazines in the tag sale bin, never to look at them again, I would still have the impression of everything I had ever looked at.
So whether it makes me a hack or not, I look up to other artists, and am inspired by them.
Donna Hay probably influences me more than anyone else, or she’s at least in my top three.
Yesterday was my birthday, and today is my mom’s: 1/11/11. I am now the age she was when I was born, which means she is twice my age today.
I feel older. For the first time in my life, my birthday is making me feel older.
But not really any wiser.
I want to say a quick thank you to all my amazing friends who wished me a happy birthday or took me to dinner, or bought me presents, or babysat my kids. I love you all. You’re the best!
After eating all those cherry scones yesterday, I knew I couldn’t handle a whole cake, so that one there is a vanilla cupcake I had in the fridge. I peeled off the wrapper, cut it in thirds, and then spread cherry jam in between the layers. I just did a quick buttercream frosting and then drizzled some lemon glaze over the top that I had leftover from the scones.
While I was posting the Twelve Days of Christmas, I was ready for the holidays to be over. Not because I don’t love Christmas, but because I was on my way to gaining about thirty pounds.
But then I was asked to review the new cookbook Power Foods: 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients written by the people at Whole Living magazine, and I new I would be saved from my holiday diet of sugar and butter.