Sunday, April 29, 2012

Nutella filled Pumpkin Muffins - Hazardously Easy

I don't do a great deal of baking for various reasons.  The biggest of them is because I eat what I bake and baked goods really are not that great for my dietary lifestyle these days.  That said, there are always special days that need a special treat.  This weekend I treated the family to a special treat and decided to step my old Pumpkin Spice Muffins and kick them up a notch with a Nutella filling. 

Now these are some really difficult muffins/cupcakes to create. (Sarcasm warnings should be going off right now!)  The experiment was an extreme success.  It was so successful I agree to bake my bride's Monday night bible study group - The Beloved Beauties - a batch for their meeting.

The ingredient list on this is pretty detailed so be ready.


1 box Duncan Hines Spiced Cake Mix
1 can Libby's Pure Pumpkin (not Pumpkin pie filling!)
1/2 tsp. or so ground cloves
1/2 tsp. or so ground Allspice
1 tsp. or so ground Cinnamon
1/4 cup water

Pretty extensive huh?  Actually, you don't have the spices.  I just like to kick it up a notch as Emeril would say.

Add the cake mix to a bowl

Add the spices and the pumpkin 

Mix it all together adding the 1/4 cup of water

Spray your muffin tins with non-stick spray

Add a Tbsp. or so to each tin

Then add a dollop of nutella to each cup

Then add another Tbsp. or so to finish filling the tin.

I added a few smaller mini-muffins without the filling.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Healthy Chicken Quesadillas

Last night my bride was working out of town and had dinner with the eldest offspring, while the princess ate at church before her Spring Play rehearsal.  This left me home alone with leftovers in the fridge.  What to do?  What to do?

I hadn't taken the leftover  Chicken Burrito Mix to school for lunch yesterday, so I thought I might do something with that.  Although the burritos were good, I didn't want another one for supper.  I decided to make a quesadilla.

In a skillet I heated the leftover mix, adding just a bit more salsa as it seemed a little drier.

Then I sprayed my large skillet with non-stick spray and heated it to medium.  I placed my tortilla in the skillet and put a bit of the mixture on to one side of the tortilla.  I then added a 1/4 cup of fat free shredded cheese and a slice of Borden's Fat Free Pepperjack cheese.  Then I folded the other half over the mix and pressed it with the spatula.

After a minute or so on this side, I flipped it over to finish "browning" the other side. 

I still had some leftover lettuce and diced tomatoes too!  I sliced an avocado to go with it!  YUMMERS!

All of this was right around 430 calories. (That is with a 100+ from the avocado too!)

I would have another tonight, but since it's my 26th wedding anniversary .... I think we may have plans.   I don't know how I've been married 26 years!!  My wife only looks 28!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chicken Burritos


I was so in the mood for Mexican, but let's face it, going to a Mexican restaurant is not so great on the waist line.  I mean a basket of chips and salsa while you order is over a 1000 calories, and who doesn't order at least another basket?

If you want it done right, do it yourself my dad would always say.  This is what I did to bring some Mexican flare into my healthy eating fare.

2 Split chicken breasts, skin and excess fat removed
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 Tbsp. Cumin powder
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed
1 cup of prepared salsa (use more if you want it saucier)
5 low calorie tortillas.  (I use Tumaro's NY Deli Style 97% Fat Free- 80 calories)
shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, optional

How to:

Start by boiling the breasts.  When thoroughly cooked, cool, debone, and shred.  I actually boiled mine the day before then put them in the fridge for the next day.

Open and rinse the beans and corn (together is fine) in a collander in the sink. 

Heat a skillet with olive oil over medium heat.  Add the shredded chicken, salsa, and cumin powder.  Once heated, reduce to simmer.  Add beans and corn, stirring to mix and heat.

If you like it a little moister - add more salsa
 You meal is 'cooked' at this point.  It's time to wrap it up - literally.  The mix makes enough for five equally filled tortilla's. Warm your tortillas, and place the mix in the middle, add some lettuce and tomato.  Wrap it up.

Serve with some a few corn chips, cause some of that goodness is going to fall out!

Yes, I was so excited for Mexican I almost forgot the picture!

ENJOY!  The filling runs about 253 calories.

Nutritional Info for Filling(no wrap)
  • Servings Per Recipe: 5
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 253.2
  • Total Fat: 4.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 32.9 mg
  • Sodium: 1,699.8 mg
  • Total Carbs: 30.6 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 11.8 g
  • Protein: 19.4 g

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Meatless Monday: Asparagus Pasta

Spring time and asparagus - a perfect match.  We love aspargus whether it's roasted, sauteed, steamed, in fritattas, salads, as a side, or in the case of this meal with pasta. 


1 large sweet onion, sliced
10oz fresh asparagus, bottom ends trimmed then cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and sliced thin
2 green onions (or scallions/spring onions), sliced
4oz sliced mushrooms
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
8-10 grape tomatoes, halved
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp. dried thyme

How to:

Start with the sweet onion.  Slice it and heat a skillet over medium heat with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil. (salt & pepper to taste).  Once the skillet is hot add the onions and reduce the heat to simmer.  Stir occassionally and cook for about 30 minutes on simmer.  This will give you time to prep the other parts of the meal.  Cooking the onions slow will make them soft and sweet!

Slow cooking these will add to the flavor.

Prep these while the onions cook
 After prepping the rest of the ingredients, cook your pasta.  Drain it, rinse it with cold water, and leave it in the collander until needed.

Angel Hair Pasta is great for this delicate dish.
Once the onions are done I move them to a paper plate.  Then turn the heat up to medium high on the skillet and add the other Tbsp. of olive oil.  Add garlic and thyme first, cooking for 1 minute then add the asparagus and mushrooms.  Add the butter.  Continue to stir and cook for a couple more minutes.  

Add the pasta and onions back to the skillet, tossing to blend.  Reduce heat to simmer.

Add the grape tomatoes and turn off the heat.  Continue to toss the dish for another minute.

Plate your dish.

Refill your glass of chardonnay and ENJOY!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Strawberry Jam with Splenda

Spring time brings that glorious little red berry that I have loved since childhood – Strawberries!!  Strawberry pancakes, strawberry sundaes, strawberry ice cream, strawberry and cream scones, strawberry… anything, makes me smile!  My birthday was this past Friday and my bride made my favorite – strawberries with angel food cake with fat-free whipped topping.  YUM!  Strawberries also bring out the Ball and Mason jars!  It’s time to put some of these delicious globes away for those days when the berries have left us.

Strawberry Jam with Splenda as my sweetener of choice is frowned upon by many I know.  Yet, some health decisions have to be weighed and measured by each of us personally.  Right now, I need the sugarless and reduced calorie choice, so it is Splenda in with my delicious berries.

Harris Teeter has a great sale on strawberries right now, so my bride purchased five pounds for our needs this past weekend.  One pound was for the birthday party and the other four were for me to make into jam.

6 cups prepared strawberries (about four pounds of whole ripe berries)
1½ cups of reduced calorie apple juice
1 Tbs. lemon juice
6 Tbs. Ball Real Fruit Pectin for Low or No-Sugar
1¼ cups of Splenda

While prepping the jars for canning, I capped and cut the four pounds of strawberries.  The strawberries were then hand mashed (yes, I know there are easier ways, but sometimes you just gotta do it old school) and placed into my stainless steel pot.

Before turning on the heat, I added the apple juice, lemon juice, pectin, and a tablespoon of butter.  (The butter helps reduce surface tension and greatly reduces the amount of bubbling of the cooking mixture resulting in less to no skimming)

Bring the mixture to a full boil. (Note – stir continuously) That’s a boil that continues even when being stirred.  Boil for one minute while you stir the pot constantly.  Remove the pot from the heat source and stir in the Splenda.  Should any foam appear on the top skim it off and discard.

Using hot jars, ladle the hot strawberry mix into the jars to within an 1/8 of an inch from the top.  Make sure you rims and threads are wiped clean.  Place lid on and screw down band.

Place jars in hot water bath (boiling water) for 10 minutes.  Make sure the water is at least 1 – 2 inches above the lids.

After 10 minutes in the boiling water, remove to cooling racks or towels.  Make sure the jars stay upright.  Allow them to completely cool.  You may hear the lids “popping” as they seal.  That’s a good thing.

When they are cooled press the lids to check to make sure they sealed.  If a jar didn’t seal, then place it in the fridge and use it first!

This recipe yields about 8 cups or 16 pints of jam.  A Tbsps. of this jam is about 20 calories. 


Thursday, April 19, 2012

My First Quinoa attempt

Ok, so this is Thursday night and I am just now posting my Meatless Monday.  What do you expect?  I've been saying good bye to my 48th year.  Tomorrow I start my Farewell Forties Tour...

So any hoo, I have been reading about how quinoa is this great seed and it was the Inca's secret dietary item for their warriors that I had to try it. Well... I may never eat rice again!  This stuff is awesome!

Start off by cooking the quinoa.  It's cooked much like rice - 2:1 ratio of liquid to quinoa and cooked for 20 minutes.  I use chicken broth instead of water.

While the quinoa is cooking, I pan-fried my Bocca Burger patty and then chopped it.  ( I have found that I like chopped Bocca in these dishes.)

While chopping the patty, I added some olive oil, onion, fresh cut corn and mushrooms.  Once the patty was chopped and added, I some sliced grape tomatoes.

Once the quinoa was finished, I added it to the skillet and mixed with the other goodies, and then put my serving in the bowl.

The end result was a great, delicious meal.  It was so good, I made a chicken stir-fry with quinoa on Tuesday!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring Break '12

If you are hearing grumbling, and complaining, and so forth... well, it's because Spring Break 2012 is over and we are all back to regular routines.
Ahhh, but the end of last week was so delightful!  We endured the eighty minute long ride to North Myrtle Beach for some fun in the sun.  The weather was perfect for laying out by the pool or on the beach.  (the Atlantic was still a little to cool for swimming, but the heated pools were perfect!)  With the temps in the upper 70's, low humidity, and lots of sunshine... we didn't venture to far.  Well until the stomach started rumbling...
One of the places we ventured out to was one of our favorites, and quite possibly my favorite place in all of South Carolina to eat - Croissants Bistro and Bakery.  Croissants is located at 38th Avenue N. Myrtle Beach, SC near Broadway at the Beach.  Brad Daniels is the executive chef, and he does a fantastic job with fresh produce from local farms and fresh caught fish from the docks of Murrell's Inlet, SC.
This bistro has probably a dozen or so tables in the establishment.  The ambiance of the room is very conversation oriented,.  It is a great place for a date night meal with my lovely bride of twenty-five years.  We had reservations for 7:30, but reservations are not required although helpful at Croissants. 

We began our meal with their new seasonal appetizer - Crab Napolean with avocado.  It was very tasty and an excellent choice for the warm weather.

We both chose entrees from the new summer menu.  My lovely bride chose the pan-seared grouper with fresh, crisp greens and vegetable medley.

I chose the new grilled salmon over polenta with a bourbon glaze and collards and bacon.

We enjoyed a special evening together with some special food.  Oh, and usually we partake of the amazing desserts they serve here.  Remember it is a bakery as well!  They also have killer coffee my wife enjoys.

This is our special place at the beach.  If you've never been - you should!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Healthy Egg Salad Sandwich

With the abundance of eggs still around the house from Easter, I made yet another healthy meal of them for my lunch today.  I was hungry and needing some protein after my workout this morning, so what better than the protein rich egg?  This sandwich doesn't hurt the calorie count for the day either as it only has 139 calories for the Egg Salad and 100 for the Arnold Sandwich thin.  A total of 239 for a lunch sandwich!  I added some Special K Cracker Chips (15= 1/2 serving for 55 calories) to make the total lunch under 300 calories.  (I don't count the calories in the leaf of lettuce as I'll burn more chewing it than it will cost me!) 


3 hard-boiled eggs (two of the three yolks removed)
1 tsp whole grain mustard (or yellow mustard if you prefer)
2 Tbsp. Low Fat Mayo
(as a variation I occasionally add a tsp. of sugar free pickle relish too)

Chop the 3 whites and 1 yolk

Chop to your favorite consistency.  I like mine fine.

Add the MANY ingredients...

Stir and salt and pepper to taste.

Add the whole amount to your flatbread, or wrap.

Enjoy! And a special thanks to for their recipe calculator which gives these great Nutritional facts of the recipes you plug in.  The chart below is for the egg salad only.

Just a note - I've been blogging just over a year now, and this is my 100th post. ;-)

Nutrition Facts
1 Serving
Amount Per Serving
Calories 139.0
Total Fat 7.7 g
Saturated Fat 1.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.0 g
Cholesterol 185.0 mg
Sodium 515.0 mg
Potassium 178.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 5.3 g
Dietary Fiber 0.0 g
Sugars 2.0 g
Protein 16.2 g
Vitamin A 6.0 %
Vitamin B-12 8.0 %
Vitamin B-6 4.0 %
Vitamin C 0.0 %
Vitamin D 10.0 %
Vitamin E 0.0 %
Calcium 2.0 %
Copper 0.0 %
Folate 6.0 %
Iron 4.0 %
Magnesium 0.0 %
Manganese 0.0 %
Niacin 0.0 %
Pantothenic Acid 0.0 %
Phosphorus 10.0 %
Riboflavin 10.0 %
Selenium 0.0 %
Thiamin 0.0 %
Zinc 4.0 %