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Sauces/ Weight Watchers

Huevos Rancheros with Cilantro Lime Potatoes

I hardly ever am hungry right when I get up.  I think its because I am used to eating breakfast at my desk a couple hours after I wake up.  But yesterday?  Hungry!  I ate half of this Premier Protein bar, and that hit the spot.  It’s 4 points for half and to me it tastes like a Snickers bar.  

As most of you know, I have an hour train ride to work every morning.  I had pretty much written my blog post yesterday the night before, so I put my laptop in  my bag 15 minutes into the train ride and proceeded to sleep the remaining 45 minutes to work.  The guy who sat behind me had to wake me up when we got into the station, otherwise who knows how long I could have kept sleeping?!

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Breakfast part 2:  I’ve seen variations of this on Instagram, but it’s basically a breakfast sundae.  A banana sliced down the middle, filled with a 5.3 container of Chobani (2), strawberries, PB2 (1), and a tablespoon of pecans (2).  For 5 points this was super filling, and had everything in a breakfast – sweet/tart/salty/crunchy.

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Even though I am not 100%, I still got my walk in with my twin sister.  It was windy!  We decided to head east on Randolph.  While I’ve driven by here before, I’ve never walked on foot this far east on Randolph.  As soon as we got close enough to read the sign, I think we both said out loud “Is that a Marianos?”  

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And a giant Mariano’s at that!  They are building a Mariano’s in the next town over where a Sears went out of business – right across the street from my regular grocery store, so it will be interesting to see where I shop once Mariano’s opens, because I puffy heart this store.

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I didn’t even notice our reflection until I downloaded this pic!  Ha!

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There is also a park outside, so when it does finally get nice and stay nice outside, we can have a picnic lunch.  This is probably a leisurely 10 minute walk from my office.  The Mariano’s has been there two years and my sister is kicking herself that she didn’t know it existed so close to her office as well. 

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I got back to my desk and quickly threw my lunch together.  A ham/spinach/cheese wrap (6), with carrots and ranch dressing (1) and an apple (I had to throw half away – boo!) with the rest of my PB2 from breakfast (0).

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Later on ate my chicken soup, except without noodles or chicken so it’s basically a zero point soup.  I love sipping on soup out of a coffee cup.  This was hot and delicious and I remember how my sister and I used zero point soups a lot on our last successful Weight Watchers run.  They are hot and filling.  I remember us sipping on these type of soups while making dinner – which prevented us from snacking while cooking.  

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I hit every single light on the way to the train station, and missed my train by a minute.  It’s not a big deal because since it’s rush hour, my next train was only 13 minutes later.  But that train was running 20 minutes late, so I didn’t get home until 7:15.   As soon as I walked in the back door Hannah said “the basement is flooded.”  Rat farts.  I have an old home (1922) and there is an external well outside my walkout basement door.  Many years ago Tony rigged up a sump pump in there because this time of year when we get a lot of rain, that well fills up and well, comes right under my door into the basement.  The only caviat is that you need to plug it in to drain it, and I forgot to tell her to do this.

So after 45 minutes of plugging in that sump pump, mopping up and running fans, I really just wanted to order a pizza and call it a night. 

But, I am participating in Weight Watchers #cincofoodsincinco – and had already prepped everything for dinner, so this was ready in a matter of 10 minutes, still on plan, and I didn’t cave to the stress.

I made Huevos rancheros – not sure how authentic these are because I saw so many variations online, but I love having these dried peppers on hand.  All you need to do is rehydrate them and they make amazing salsas.  

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As you can see, this made a ton.  However, I am going to try a baked version of this recipe over the weekend, I’ll let you know how it turns out.  I also think this would be an awesome marinade.

Colorado Sauce:

  • 4 dried New Mexico chili peppers
  • 2 dried Ancho chili peppers
  • 1 canned Chipotle pepper (or more if you want it really spicy!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8 cup grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup soaking liquid
  • 2 cups chicken stock

Boil some water.  Add the dried peppers, which the stems and seeds have been removed.  Let the peppers soak for 15 minutes or until soft.  Throw everything into a food processor and let it whirl until everything is completely pureed.  That’s it.  Store in a mason jar for up to two weeks.

I pan toasted my corn tortilla in Pam until it was slightly crunchy, then filled it with a bit of quesadilla cheese, one scrambled egg, baby spinach, drizzled with the Colorado sauce, and topped with sliced jalapeno and radish. 

On the side was cilantro lime potatoes. Um, why haven’t I thought to do that before, I mean I love cilantro lime rice?!  I baked some potatoes over the weekend, and just pan fried 4 ounces of potato in 1/2 a teaspoon of ghee, then tossed it with chopped cilantro, lime zest and a squeeze of lime juice.  A delicious 10 point dinner.  Or brinner. 😀

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I am counting the Colorado sauce as 1 point, because of the grapeseed oil.  It’s smoky, spicy and adds such a depth of flavor to this taco.  Let me know if you try it – I’d love to hear what you think of it!

Another dreary day in Chicago, feels more like October than May, but I know we’ll get spring one of these days. 

Make it a great day!

Soup/ Spicy/ Weight Watchers

Food, Health and Happiness

Tony used to make fun of me the way I “read” a cookbook like a great piece of fiction.  It’s true though.  I usually page through it from start to finish, with my little post-it notes flagging the recipes I’d like to try first.

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Oprah actually starts out the cookbook writing about her ups and downs over the years regarding her weight.   Nothing I hadn’t read before – the infamous liquid diet where she pulls out he big wagon of fat to show how much weight she lost, only to gain five pounds in a day after getting off the stage and out of the jeans she said felt like they were painted on.   But I remember thinking back then, that of course Oprah could lose weight – she had people cooking for her, she had personal trainers – she didn’t have to “think” about it – someone would tell her what to eat and how to work out – how simple?!

But it doesn’t matter how much money you make, or what conveniences you have in life, when it comes right down to it, you and only you can make the decision to lead a healthier lifestyle.  You can plan your meals.  You can decide what to eat.  You can decide what to say “no thank you” to.  

Oprah talks about how if Maya Angelou were here, she would ask her “Ok, if anyone knows better when it comes to dieting, it’s me.  So how do you explain my endless struggles with weight?  Why is it that with all this experience and information, I haven’t done better?”  She wrote “My guess is she’d probably smile, and in that commanding voice unlike any I’ve never heard, she’d say, ‘Well, my dear, when you’re truly ready to know, you will.’

“You can tell yourself to eat less and move more, you can cut down on carbs, and salty stacks, you can practice portion control and begin the day with a balance breakfast – at this point we all know the drill.  But it’s one thing to be able to recite the rules of dieting and quite another to fully internalize and know the truth of maintaining a healthy weight.  The reality is that for most of us, diets are a temporary solution at best.  They last as long as our willpower holds out.  But how long can any of us hold our breath before we need a gulp of air.” 

She goes on to say how when Weight Watchers reached out to her, for some reason at that point in time, she was ready to listen.  Something inside her shifted, and I feel the same way these last several weeks.  I’ve realized that I can’t trick the system by trying to play by my old “diet” rules (eat like a pig one day – hope to work it off in the gym the next six days) or feel guilty about eating a cheeseburger and fries when I had every intention of ordering a grilled chicken breast.   I now build my treats into my meal plan, so there is no guilt associated with the food I am eating.  I plan for it.  I balance out the other two meals to make it work.  I wake up the next day to a brand new day, and that’s exactly what it is.  No “falling off the wagon” for a few days (or weeks!) after an indulgent meal because I’ve convinced myself that I have no control over what I eat.

I am living.  I am eating really good food.  I am actually kind of glad that I got this cough because its made me focus on the food, when really that’s what it’s all about to get the scale move.  Yes, the exercise helps reshape your body, burn some extra calories – sure.  But you can never work out enough to overcome a crappy diet.  It’s just not going to happen.  Especially when you’d have to do an hour of high intensity cardio to burn off one chocolate coconut cake donut from Dunkin Donuts. 


So as I was thumbing through the cookbook, I was thrilled that the first 19 recipes are SOUP recipes!  You guys all know what a soup whore I am.  The first one that caught my eye was the tomato and guajillo chile soup.  Since Weight Watchers is promoting their #freshfoodsfeb, I thought this recipe would be a perfect addition to that challenge to use fresh ingredients.  Carrots, garlic, corn, ripe tomatoes – yes please! 

The only draw back I’ve noticed so far is that they don’t specify what a serving is.  The recipe says that it makes 4 servings at 4 smart points.  But how much is a serving?  Not that it’s that complicated, but I had to measure out one cup portions, to realize I had 8 cups of soup – so two cups was 4 smart points.  Well, that’s not enough for dinner, so I decided to add cheese tortellini and baby spinach to my bowl to make it more of a meal.

If you’ve never used dried guajillo peppers, they are really delicious.   You need to reconstitute them before using them in a recipe.  The seeds also hold the heat, so before soaking them, I tapped out all the seeds after cutting off the top.  They are cheap too – I got a bag of about a dozen for $1.69 at my local grocery store.  The cilantro I bought was bad, so I left that out, but feel free to add it to your soup!

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Tomato and Guajillo Chile Soup
Serves 4
A low point, spicy tomato soup that's perfect with a grilled cheese sandwich on the side, or add some cheese tortellini to make it more of a meal.
Write a review
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
303 calories
18 g
93 g
11 g
34 g
3 g
365 g
601 g
8 g
0 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 303
Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11g
Saturated Fat 3g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 93mg
Sodium 601mg
Total Carbohydrates 18g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 8g
Protein 34g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 2 dried guajillo chiles
  2. 8 sprigs of fresh cilantro
  3. 2 teaspoons olive oil
  4. 1 small carrot, chopped
  5. 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  6. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  8. 3/4 cup corn (from an ear of corn, or canned)
  9. 4 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
  10. 1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped*
  11. 1/2 cup cooked hominy **
  12. 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  13. 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  1. Here is how I made this a quick weeknight soup.  In a microwave safe measuring cup – add two cups of water and the dried guajillo peppers (stems chopped and seeds removed) and microwave for three minutes.  Meanwhile, in a stock pot, add the olive oil, carrots, garlic, and corn and cook for about 3-4 minutes, just until the carrots are tender.
  2. In a blender, remove the hot guajillo peppers with tongs and put them in the blender – toss the water.  Add the cooked carrot mixture to the blender, along with the salt, cumin, tomatoes, hominy and tomato paste.  Puree until smooth.  Pour that mixture into the stock pot, add the stock and simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Adjust salt seasoning at the end.  Using my method, this soup was ready in about 20 minutes.  And that included the time it took to cook my cheese tortellini to add to the soup.
  1. * I left the jalapeno out because I found the dried guajillo peppers to be spicy enough.
  2. ** The original recipe calls for "cooked hominy." I just used canned hominy (but can someone tell me why I can't find small cans of hominy?! 😀
  3. The soup by itself is 2 smart points per cup. I added 7 cheese tortellini (5) and baby spinach to my soup to make it more of a meal.
Adapted from Food Health and Happiness Cookbook
My Bizzy Kitchen
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My bowl would only fit one cup of the soup with the tortellini and baby spinach, and I thought I’d top it off with the second cup once I ate some of it, but I was really full.  The soup is flavorful spicy which I love!  And I like how the corn and hominy thickened up the soup.  Here is the perfect bite:

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I saved the leftover soup in one cup packages.  I can see having this as a late afternoon snack at work to tide me over until dinner before my long train ride home.  I’ve been eating a banana most afternoons, but this would be delicious too.

Because I love this cookbook so much, I am giving away a copy!  I’ll keep it simple.  You don’t have to tag five friends, tweet the giveaway, do twenty jumping jacks, just leave me a comment telling me what state you live in.  I haven’t done that one in a while and I always get a kick to see who is the farthest away (although Fran I already know that’s you – and Roz is a close second!).

I’ll pick a winner on Monday’s post.  Good luck – I know you’ll love this cookbook as much as I do!

Make it a great day!

Breakfast/ Healthy/ Weight Watchers

Breakfast Tostadas

Breakfast Tostadas

I love cast iron skillets.  Over the years I may have collected, um, let’s say 11 of them?  Here’s the deal though.  I bought all of them at garage sales because they were rusty and had $1 price tag on them.  Guys, if you ever find a cast iron skillet at a garage sale – buy it!  9 out of the 11 cast iron skillets that I’ve acquired are Lodge brand

So what do you do when you find a rusty skillet?  First:  Buy It.  Second:  Season It!   Buy some steel wool at Ace Hardware or any home improvement store.  I actually sprinkle coarse sea salt on the skillet, and using my steel wool, use some muscle and basically sand off all the rust.  Never use soap with cast iron – simply run some hot water over it and scrub until you’ve removed all the rust – from the inside, the handle on the bottom – the whole thing.  Next:  oil it up!  I use canola or vegetable oil.  Lather the whole thing up then bake for one hour at 350 degrees.  I then turn off the oven and let it sit there overnight.  The next morning, it’s ready to go and will be nonstick.  If your skillet ever starts to stick again, just repeat the baking process with the oil and you are back in business.

When you clean your skillet, make sure to completely dry it before putting it away.  I’ll actually put it on my stove on low heat and watch the water evaporate.  Let it cool and then I either spray it with Pam or rub a bit of canola oil on the skillet until I use it the next time.

I posted this picture of my breakfast tostadas on Instagram yesterday, and my friend Lauren wanted to know what kind of pan I was using.  I was at work and guessed that it was a 12 inch pan, but it’s actually a vintage Lodge skillet that is 10 inches.

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So while you won’t be able to purchase that exact skillet because it’s so old, Lodge does sell a similar pan – they call it a griddle pan because the slightly raised edges will hold pancakes, eggs, oil, etc.   And it’s only $24 bucks!  I use this pan for making hash browns, even frittatas because you can obviously go from stove to oven with these skillets.  Have I convinced you to buy cast iron skillets yet?! Open-mouthed smile

Breakfast Tostadas
Serves 1
A delicious way to start your day with these crunchy breakfast tostadas.
Write a review
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
968 calories
132 g
402 g
31 g
44 g
12 g
950 g
1525 g
1 g
0 g
16 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 968
Calories from Fat 273
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 31g
Saturated Fat 12g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 12g
Cholesterol 402mg
Sodium 1525mg
Total Carbohydrates 132g
Dietary Fiber 15g
Sugars 1g
Protein 44g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 2 extra thin mission tortillas (2)
  2. 2 eggs (4)
  3. 1/2 cup fat free refried beans (2)
  4. 3 small baby bell peppers, sliced and sautéed
  5. 1 ounce 50% reduced fat Cabot cheese (2)
  6. drizzle of taco bell fire sauce (0)
  7. drizzle of Trader Joe’s avocado salsa (0)
  8. cilantro for garnish
  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat and cook the peppers just until they start to brown but are still a bit crunchy.  About 3-4 minutes.  Reheat the refried beans in the microwave.  Remove the peppers and cook your eggs to your desired doneness.  You all know that I didn’t eat those runny eggs above, but they look so much better in pictures!  Anywho, place your cast iron skillet on medium high heat and spray with Pam.  Put 1/4 cup of the refried beans on each tortilla, then place in the hot pan.  Top with the fried eggs and cheese and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese starts to melt.  The bottom of the tortillas will get nice and crunchy.  Sprinkle on cilantro, taco sauce and avocado sauce and enjoy!
  1. You could reduce the points if you used scrambled egg beaters. 😀
My Bizzy Kitchen
That was a filling 10 point breakfast.  I wasn’t really all that hungry by the time I got to work, but I was about 30 minutes early and realized I should eat something, so I went a couple blocks from work and stopped and picked up panang curry from Pho’s Spicier Thai Cuisine.   It was a bit “hole in the wall” kind of place.

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When she asked me how spicy I wanted it, I blurted out “I like spicy!”  She said “okay – I make medium” and walked away.  It wasn’t until she walked away that I looked down and noticed this heat chart:

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So medium is described as “quite hot” but what I was really worried about was the disclaimer at the bottom that said “be careful if you never been here.” 

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This photo does not do this dish justice.  It was the perfect spicy flavorful that I always look for with a spicy dish.  I don’t want to just taste spice and nothing else.  This had layers of flavor, and a nice peanuty flavor at the end.  I will admit, there wasn’t a whole lot of beef, but I ate half of this dish for 10 smart points.  Next time I’d like to try their pho soups.

It was a demo class yesterday and it was unlike any class I’ve ever witnessed thus far at The Chopping Block.  We had two groups of four women, so we put them on each end so they could easily talk to each other, then had a couple in the middle.  Chef Dionna started going over the menu, talked about her favorite French seasoning salt (which is amazeballs!)  and before we knew it, both groups of ladies lost complete interest and Dionna basically had a personal chef show for the couple in the middle.  So it all worked out in the end, but I don’t know why I would pay $50 for a demo class, and not pay any amount of attention to it?

I will recreate this dish soon – it was a flank steak salad with a warm tomato vinaigrette.   I think I may add some toasted pumpkin seeds when I make it though.

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And the next dish was an Asian marinated salmon with a baby bok choy and carrot salad that is also going to go to the top of my list of things to make.

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We gave the best two pieces of salmon to the couple in the middle who paid attention.  Open-mouthed smile

I am working a private party today so that means I get to demo some dishes: 

· Frisée Salad with Roasted Beets, Toasted Pecans and Oranges

· Chocolate Crêpes with Mascarpone Cream and Homemade Caramel Sauce

Um, I’ve never worked with beets before or made crepes, so this should be interesting!  I may watch a couple youtube videos before I head to work today.  Chef Rachel is super nice though, so I know she’ll be a great resource for me. Open-mouthed smile

Alright, time to get this show on the road – I am working on another blog post for The Chopping Block that’s due tomorrow.  My topic?  Soup and Bread!

Make it a great day!