Peanut Butter Vegetable Soup

Waaait, what did she say?  Did she say peanut butter soup?

Yeah.  Yeah she said peanut butter soup.  She said it.

She is me.

Peanut butter soup.

So, I’m actually not the biggest fan of soups.  I tend to think they’re not very filling and not very interesting.  But, a couple of years ago, a friend of mine made vegetable stew and just as I thought she was done, she dumped a few giant spoonfuls of peanut butter into it.

AND I WAS LIKE WUUUUTTTTT?!

Peanut butter does a couple things: it adds fullness and it adds flavor.  Adding peanut butter to your vegetable soup automatically thickens it and makes it richer and more fulfilling.  It also adds a little salt and a little fat, which is never a bad thing when cooking.

So without further ado, here is the recipe:

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp fresh ginger, minced

6 cups vegetable broth

2 tomatoes, diced

1 bunch collard greens, cut or torn into strips or small pieces

1/3 tsp cumin

dash cayenne pepper (optional)

1/3 tsp salt

1 cup peanut butter

2 tbsp lemon or lime juice

Sautee the onion and garlic in olive oil for about 5 minutes, or until onions start to turn clear and soft. Add the ginger and heat for about one more minute.

Add broth, tomatoes, collards, cumin, cayenne and salt and allow to cook for about 15 minutes.

Carefully add the peanut putter, and stir well to combine. Allow to cook until the peanut butter is melted and incorporated. Leave the soup on medium heat with the cover on for another ten minutes or so until all that peanut butter gets melty and delicious.

Drizzle with lime or lemon juice just before serving.

You’re done!  Hearty, delicious soup.  10 Weigh Watchers points per serving with 6 servings in this recipe.  Buen provecho!

Soba Noodles and Spinach Sautee

Seriously, I sincerely suggest someone sample these sensational savory soba noodles and spinach sautee.  Alliteration!

Soba noodles are really good and as far as past go, they’re good for you.  See, soba noodles are make with buckwheat, instead of just regular white flour, which makes them healthy carbs.  They are kind of testy, though, and need to be cooked with care.  First, I’ll explain the soba noodle cooking process, then the rest of the recipe.

First, boil a large pot of water.  Like, as large as you have.  And pretty full of water.  Once the water has reached a rolling boil, then sprinkle 8 oz. of soba noodles into the water and reduce heat so the water is at about a simmer.  From there, they only need 7 or 8 minutes in the water.  If the pot starts to boil over, add a cup of cold water to it.  After 7 or 8 minutes, drain the noodles and then rinse them thoroughly with cold water.  Set aside.

Now for the sauce and spinach!

Sauce:

2tbsp rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

1 shallot, finely chopped (I’ve used some red onion when I forgot to buy the shallot, which is always.)

Combine the ingredients and let it sit, refrigerated.

Spinach:

6 cups baby spinach

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

2 tbsp EVOO

Pour the olive oil and sesame oil into a large sauce pan at medium heat.  Add garlic and sautee until fragrant.  Add spinach and cover for 5 to 6 minutes, depending on how wilted you want the spinach to be.

Finally, stir the spinach and sauce into the noodles, and you’re done!

Disclaimer:  the noodles in the picture aren’t soba noodles.  Soba noodles are kind of grey-ish.  So, if you have grey-ish noodles, you’re on the right track.  I made mine with regular noodles this time because that’s the kind of noodles that were purchased.  Less healthy but still yummy.

With the soba noodles this dish makes 4 servings at 7 Weight Watchers points each.

Enjoy!

Chicken Salad Salad

Nope, it’s not a typo in the title.  It’s a chicken salad salad.  As in, chicken salad in salad!  Salad salad..salad…I’m losing my train of thought.  Moving on.

I love chicken salad, but it’s not exactly a meal in itself.  You can make a sandwich out of it, but that’s adding a bunch of starchy bread to an otherwise fairly healthy dish.  You can use it as a side dish but, again, that’s adding calories to something that doesn’t really need it.  So, the other day, I made chicken salad and I said to myself “Self,” I said “let’s figure out how to make this a meal.  Also, remember to buy cookies for the potluck.”

What I came up with was really easy.  I just dumped my chicken salad on a bed of greens and voila!  Chicken salad salad.  (Salad.)

Here’s the recipe:

2 chicken breasts poached in stock, then cubed (it’s essential that you poach the chicken in something other than water to add flavor since poaching the chicken cooks it without adding any fat.  An average sized chicken breast needs to be poached for about 20 minutes.)

2 cups celery, chopped really tiny

1 cup red onion, chopped really tiny

1/2 cup mayo

1 lemon juiced

Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Mixed greens (they can be any kind you like!  This particular salad rests on butter lettuce.)

You poach the chicken first.  You can even do this a day ahead of time so the chicken is nice and cool when you add the other ingredients.  Combine all ingredients and stir thoroughly.  This dish is one that gets better after a day or so, when the stuff can all marinate together and get yummy.  Don’t add the mixed greens until you’re read to serve, just leave them separate, otherwise they’ll wilt.  It’s a really fresh, tasty lunch.  This recipe makes 4 hefty servings at 6 Weight Watchers points per serving.  Enjoy!

Simple Summery Side Salad

So, as we all know, it’s March.  But, apparently, California’s weather gods haven’t gotten the memo.  It’s been sunny and warm every day, recently, so I’ve been finding myself craving summery things.  Things like popsicles, swimming, doing nothing and yummy light salads.  This salad is a double whammy, because it’s a variation on one that my childhood best friend’s mom used to cook for us all the time.  It’s really simple and really yummy.

Ingredients:

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 cucumber, thinly sliced (we’re talking as thin as you can get.)

8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp EVOO

Salt and pepper to taste

Basically, you combine all the ingredients aaaaand that’s it.  I like to make this salad a day ahead of time, or at least a couple hours, because the onion soaks in the balsamic and it softens and sweetens it.  It is a really nice, crispy addition to a summertime meal, like a barbecue or…I mean does anyone eat anything but barbecue in the summer?  Maybe a sandwich.  Also you can eat this during the other seasons.  It makes 4 servings and each serving is 5 Weight Watchers points.  Enjoy!

Lean Italian Meatballs

Who doesn’t love a spicy meat-a ball-a?  I hope that’s not offensive.

Meatballs are really great and they are versatile.  You can serve them on their own as an appetizer, in spaghetti, or my favorite: in a meatball sub.  But, meatballs can be really fatty and greasy and all those things that make stuff taste really good but also cause heart disease and farts.  These meatballs are full of flavor but are very lean so you can get a lot of protein without all the grease.

Here’s what you need:

1 large onion, minced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 lb lean ground beef

2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley

1 egg, beaten

Red chile flakes

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup of white wine

1/4 cup of beef broth

Pasta sauce

Okay so first, you want to sautee the onion in the olive oil on medium heat until it begins to caramelize, about 8-10 minutes.  Then add the garlic and let it sautee for another 5-6 minutes.  Turn the heat off and let the mixture cool a bit.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the ground beef, parsley, pepper flakes, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the egg.  You can mix it with a fork or a spoon or something but I used my hands.  It’s kinda gross, but it’s the most effective way to mix it all up.   After the onions and garlic have cooled a bit, add them too.  After it’s all mixed in, roll the meatballs in your hand.  You should be able to make between 40-50 half-inch meatballs.

Next we want to add the white wine and beef broth to a large sautee pan along with the meatballs.  Cook them on medium-high for about 5 minutes on each side.  If you want to speed it up a bit you can cover the pan and steam the meatballs through that way.  If you make them as small as I suggest they don’t need long to cook at all.

Now, that’s it.   So, you have a choice to make.  Do you just, eat them?  Like popcorn?  Sure, you can.  Do you eat them with pasta?  Yes, you may.  Personally, I poured about 3/4 of a jar of pasta sauce over them and then ate them with bread as a sub.  Because, well.  Meatball subs are just great.  And this one is really not even so bad for you.  As always, the recipe is sugar free, and 4 meatballs = 2 Weight Watchers points.  A meatball sub with 6 meatballs, 1/2 cup of pasta sauce and a French roll is only 11 Weight Watchers points.  Can’t go wrong.

Marinated, Fried Tofu With Steamed Broccoli and Peanut Sauce

Sometimes, deliciousness just sneaks up on me.  I went to Whole Foods the other night and bought some tofu covered in peanut sauce and wanted to eat like five tons of it.  Peanut sauce is pretty awesome.  It’s one of my favorite additions to Asian food.  Or just to my mouth.  I had no idea how to make it, really.  I thought probably there was some soy sauce and sweet element involved, along with peanuts, of course, so I browsed various websites and came up with a recipe that is just fantastic.

So, obviously, you can’t just eat peanut sauce.  I mean, you can, but it’s not exactly a balanced meal.  So I was like, huh, well, I ate it with tofu, let’s just make it with tofu.  I know.  My creativity intimidates everyone.  Fried tofu is easy and yummy.  So, there’s that too.

And then I also noticed I had a bunch of broccoli in the fridge, which goes nicely with Asian dishes, and decided I’d steam it, which is basically the easiest and healthiest way to cook broccoli.  How did I do it all?  I’ll show you!

Ingredients

For the tofu:

16 oz. extra firm tofu (make sure it’s extra firm)

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp powdered ginger

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tbsp olive oil

Alright,  you want to let your tofu marinate a little while, so start with that.  Whisk the soy sauce and spices in a small bowl, then add the tofu cut into 1/2 inch “steaks.”  (If your tofu is too wet, lay it between two folded paper towels and lay something heavy on top to help the water eek out.)  Make sure the marinade coats the tofu, stirring occasionally.  You can marinated it anywhere from a few minutes to an hour.  You don’t want to marinate it much longer because then it will get soggy.

When you’re tofu is sufficiently marinated, heat up 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium-high heat in a cast-iron pan.  Fry the tofu about 4-5 minutes on each side or until it’s crispy and browned.

Moving on.

For the peanut sauce:

1/2 cup peanut butter (fresh ground if you can find it)

1/8 cup honey

1/8 cup soy sauce

2 tsp Sriracha chili sauce

2 limes, juiced

1/2 tsp garlic powder

Hot water to thin sauce (if needed)

Whisk together ingredients. Add hot water if you want to thin the sauce.  You can also used some crushed peanuts as a garnish.  Also, the sauce is way better if you use the fresh ground peanut butter that you can grind fresh yourself at the store.  It’s peanut-ier and more coarse and makes for a better sauce.  Plus, no sugar!

For the broccoli:

Broccoli

Water

Steaming broccoli, or any vegetables, is super easy and cooks them without adding any fat and without sucking out too many of the nutrients.  Get a large saucepan with a tight lid.  Add as much broccoli (cut into florets) as you want, I used around 4 cups.  Then add about a 1/4 cup of water to the pan.  Put the lid on the pan and turn up the heat.  The broccoli should steam for about 5 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want it.  Just check it every minute or so and see how it’s coming along.

And, that’s it!  When your done, plate the broccoli, then the tofu and top with the peanut sauce.  It’s a delicious, filling and healthy dish.  And, as always, sugar free!  This recipe makes 4 servings at 10 Weight Watcher’s points per serving.  Enjoy!

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Honey Glazed Carrots

Have you ever noticed that you can’t buy a small amount of carrots?  Even baby carrots come in bags of 100 or so.  It’s annoying, because usually a recipe only calls for a single carrot, and sometimes you can buy a single carrot, but usually you can’t and so to make one small pot of chicken stock you buy a pound of carrots and then you have all these carrots and it’s carrot madness!

Some people really like carrots.  I don’t really like them very much, so when I have an excess I like to think of ways I can make them tastier or just hide them from myself in whatever I’m cooking.

A friend of mine made honey glazed carrots for Thanksgiving this past year and they were so good!  I found myself thinking…hey, maybe I do like carrots.  I don’t.  But, if I like these then you can bet that they’re good.  The recipe is simple and easy (and sugar free.)

1 lb carrots (peeled and chopped regular carrots or you can just use baby carrots)

2 tbsp butter

3 tbsp honey

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Salt and fresh ground pepper

My photos are a little funky because I’m using my new Camera+ iPhone app and don’t really know how to exercise its full potential yet.

Okay, so, first prepare a large pot of boiling water with salt.  When the water reaches a rolling boil, add in your carrots and let them boil for about 6 minutes or until they’re tender.  Then you drain the carrots and add them back to the pot with the heat still on about medium.  Mix in the butter, honey and lemon juice.  Stir and cook the carrots for another 5 minutes.  Then add fresh ground black pepper and serve.  How easy was that?  It makes about 4 servings and if you’re doing Weight Watchers each serving is 3 points.  Enjoy!  And enjoy this weird picture of what may be carrots.