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Sorry for the no post last week! It was a busy weekend at work, and I just didn’t feel like making a menu! I ended up improvising all week, which worked out fine (thank god for freezer meals!) and I stayed on plan all week! I was down 2.6 this and 2.4 last week! I seem to be losing really consistently (yeah!). Today I earned my first activity point! When you do above average exercise, you earn activity points (Sex in the City fans insert obvious jokes here!). I have been using the treadmill, but honestly haven’t been working very hard. I did my first Firm video, I have done these before and they really do work! But like all diet exercise programs, you have to do them :-)!

In blog news, I am working on a redesign! I am a web designer and my blog is incredibly boring. So I am working on customizing it to make it more my style. I am working on a couple of blogs for work right now, so this will be good practice figuring out the custom css work arounds. (ending techie speak now!)


Menu 2/22 – 2/27

Sunday
Breakfast: Pumpkin Muffins, Frittatta
Dinner: Quick Whole Wheat Bread, Spicy Lentil Chili

Monday
Turkey Mini-Meatloaves, Potatoes, Broccoli

Tuesday
Stir Fry and Rice

Wednesday
Pork Chops, Fingerling Potatoes, Salad

Thursday
Burger night!

Friday
Dinner Out!

For more menus visit: OrgJunkie.com

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OH! I made some super yummy pumpkin muffins this morning! Soo good! I am starting to really get a feel for how to make baking modifications to recipes to make them work for my point allotments. I am constantly amazed how many recipes from sites like Cooking Light that are supposed to be light that are still 7 – 8 points (300 calories+). These are 3 points, nice amount of spice with a tender crumb. It was such a rainy day today, it was nice to stay in and enjoy these!


Pumpkin Muffins

1 3/4 cup AP Flour
1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 cup Sugar
1 tbl Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tbl Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Ginger
1/4 tsp Allspice
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Pumpkin
3/4 Fat Free Greek Yogurt (FF Sour Cream would sub)
1/3 cup Fat Free Milk
1/4 cup Canola Oil
1 tsp Vanilla
1 Egg
1 Egg White
1 tbl Turbinado Sugar
1 tsp Brown Sugar

Whisk together dry ingredients and spices, make a well in the center. Combine wet ingredients (through eggs) with a whisk. Pour wet into dry mix until just combined (don’t over mix!). Spoon into 18 sprayed muffin cups. Combine turbinado sugar and brown sugar, sprinkle on top. Bake at 375 for 20 – 25 minutes. Approx 3 points.

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I love sweet flavors in the morning! Most weekdays I am satisfied with oatmeal, cereal or whole grain english muffins and fruit. But on the weekends we love to eat big breakfast/brunch. I made the apple waffles yesterday (will post recipe tomorrow) and they were wonderful. I also have made Ellie Kriegers whole grain pancakes with strawberry sauce which are excellent. But I really love muffins, breads and scones. I have found a few recipes and decided to play around with one this morning. This is not a buttery, biscuity type scone, it is almost a muffin top. Next time I might top it with a few toasted sliced almonds to give it a little more texture, but these are really good. Swapping out much of the butter, using buttermilk instead of cream and using half whole wheat flour cut these down to only 2.5 points per scone! If you don’t have a food processor you can cut the butter in with a dough blender thing or a fork. But this recipe takes 5 minutes to put together in the food processor, so I highly recommend it!

My son really liked these, even more than the delicious breakfast burrito sitting next to it!! Quickly after finishing his plate of food, he downed two more scones making happy mouth noises the whole time. (By the way the burrito is simply 3 egg whites, 2 eggs, half a chopped red bell, half a small chopped onion, chopped mushrooms, chopped canadian bacon and topped with a pinch of ww cheese, salsa and greek yogurt). This whole plate of food is 9.5 points. So good! I had a second scone with a cup of coffee for a snack later in the day and they are perfect as a tea time snack as well!

Blueberry Scones
1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 cup AP Flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup light butter cold and cut into pieces
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup blueberries (I used frozen, unsweetened – don’t thaw)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment.

Add dry ingredients through lemon zest into food processor. Blend for a few seconds until the dry ingredients are combined. Add butter and pulse about 10 times until it is a fine, grainy texture.

Add the wet ingredients and pulse until barely combined. Remove to another bowl. Fold in the blueberries.

Drop by large spoonfuls onto baking sheet into 12 scones. I used an ice cream scooper that was about 3/4 full. Bake 18 minutes. Serve warm.

WW Points: 2.5

This recipe comes with a warning! Please be prepared if you make this recipe, that it is highly addictive! I have made this for several different brunches, and every time people practically lick the baking dish . . . even my mom, who is not a huge sweets person said that I shouldn’t be making this for people . . . it is so good that it is wrong. And if perhaps you make this for your family’s Sunday brunch this weekend, please be aware that you may find yourself constantly picking at the pan all day, until the leftovers are gone.

Why is it so good, you ask? Oh I don’t know, maybe because it tastes like a cross between a sticky bun and really good french toast. Perhaps it is because it takes 5 minutes to make after dinner and then all you have to do is pop it in the oven the next morning. All I know is that the food that really speaks to me always ends up in a dream . . . and I dream about this recipe a lot! It may not be the prettiest thing on your plate, but it will be the tastiest!!

Caramel Overnight French Toast
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter
10 slices of soft french bread (being a SF Bay Area girl, I use sourdough!)
2 1/2 cups milk
1 tbl flour
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 tbl sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Cook first 3 ingredients in a sauce pan for 5 minutes over medium heat until dissolved and bubbly. Pour into a 13×9 baking dish (I often will add a couple of handfuls of toasted, chopped pecans at this point). Arrange bread in a single layer (overlapping is fine). Whisk together milk, flour, vanilla, salt and eggs. Pour over bread. Cover dish and refrigerate overnight or approximately 8 hours. Combine cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over bread. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50 minutes.

Zucchini seems to be all the rage on food blogs this week. It was also popular in my fridge, as I seemed to have a whole pile of zucchinis without a plan. Sometimes I get a little excited about produce at the grocery store, and end up with a bunch of it and it is really not feasible for us to eat it all as a side dish. I had seen a recipe in some cookbook of mine that had a zucchini loaf with lemon glaze. However, I scoured books and magazines and couldn’t find the recipe. I was fairly certain it was a Cooking Light recipe, but even a search of their site didn’t turn it up. Hmmph!

In the meantime, I got an email from another site with a recipe for zucchini cupcakes with caramel frosting . .. yum!. However, last weekend my friend and I took a little field trip up the California coast to the Mendocino area. In a little town called Point Arena we discovered this amazing little french bakery called Franny’s cup and saucer. Amazing is all I can say! Holla Franny! There I enjoyed the yummiest cashew almond cookie with a thick brown butter frosting. I ate half the cookie the first day, and when I went to finish it the next day it was still moist and fantastic. I know I am going to dreaming about that cookie for a long time and wondering how to make it. . .

So a brown butter frosting was certainly in order for my zucchini cupcakes! Luckily I found one courtesy of Orangette (holla Orangette!) so I was set to make my cupcakes. Then, of course, I was looking in my complete Cooking Light book and wa la .. . there was the recipe! By the way, I have a bone to pick with the Cooking Light folks. I bought my “complete” book a year ago . . . and what is at my Costco right now the “new” complete book and it is in a great binder! Whatever!! They should at least wait a couple of years before releasing a new version . . . hmmph!

But now I have a dilemma, which recipe to make? One was a little bit more of a breakfast treat, the other a dessert . . . what to do, what to do?? I know! Make both and compare . . . aww my first duo!

First up the cupcakes! This is definitely a cakier batter with more eggs and more oil than the bread recipe. I also have some green little cupcake tulip liners . . . emphasizing their fabulous green zucchini flecks. Tasting them pre-frosting they have a good amount of spice and are nice and moist without being really sweet. Which is good, because they are about to get a sweet hat of frosting!


Brown Butter Frosting

Orangette’s recipe is simple and she does a meticulous job straining out the little brown flecks with cheesecloth. I was not that patient . . . although I did run it through the sieve to get out any big chunks. As I was mixing the frosting looked a little lumpy and scary! But I kept mixing and adding milk and sugar until it tasted right and smoothed out.

All I can say is yum! The frosting, to quote my boy, is “intense” but really, really worth it! It definitely complimented the not too sweet zucchini cupcake perfectly. The toasted nut is more than decoration, it is great with the frosting and the cake. I took these to work and everyone was very excited to try them! This is a great way to eat your vegetables!!!

Zucchini Cupcakes with Brown Butter Frosting
Courtesy of Taste of Home
For Brown Butter Frosting click here
Ingredients:
3 eggs
1-1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup orange juice (I substituted buttermilk)
1 teaspoon almond extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1-1/2 cups shredded zucchini

Directions:
In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, oil, orange juice (buttermilk) and extract. Combine dry ingredients; add to the egg mixture and mix well. Add zucchini and mix well.
Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

Zucchini Bread with Lemon Glaze
This was delicious and much more in the tradition of a breakfast bread. The lemon glaze definitely jazzes it up. The cupcakes were much more moist, but also had a lot more oil. For a lighter cake, the Cooking Light version is a great one for the calories!

Lemon Glazed Zucchini Quick Bread
Courtesy of Cooking Light
2 1/3 cups AP Flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup finely shredded zucchini
1/2 cup low fat milk
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tbl grated lemon rind
1 large egg
Cooking Spray
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
2 tbl fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350
Whisk together flour and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl, make a well in center of mixture. Combine zucchini, milk, oil, rind, and egg in a bowl, add to flour mixture. Stir just until moist.

Spoon batter into an 8×4 inch loaf pan coated with baking spray. Bake for 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool loaf 10 minutes in pan then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice with a whisk. Drizzle over the loaf. 14 servings

I am ready for winter

I am ready for winter

I think some of my earliest and fondest food memories come from my grandmother’s kitchen. My parent’s divorced when I was very young. And my Dad, I am sure, was a bit overwhelmed with caring for two young girls (me and my big sis) and he also worked many Saturdays. So we spent a lot of time with my grandparents who have a large house on a big lot (for San Francisco East Bay Area standards) and a large garden. Summer days were spent picking (well mostly eating on my part) vegetables and berries with my grandma in the garden. I have fond memories of picking warm raspberries from the bush, my grandma capturing many baskets and me with a tummy ache and about half a basket for my efforts.

My grandma also canned and dried everything from jams to the best pickled green beans you have ever seen. One of my favorite sweet treats was freezer jam! Even in the winter you could grab one of her square containers from the freezer and have what tasted like fresh berry puree on your toast or waffle. There was nothing like it!

For years I have thought fondly of my grandmother’s freezer jam. Even though she is still going strong well into her 80s, she no longer cans or makes jam. So to satisfy my childhood love, I decided this year, with all the abundant berries produced by our warm spring (otherwise known as the drought) to attempt my own freezer jam.

Quick chunky strawberry puree

Quick chunky strawberry puree

I read a few articles online and got the impression that I just needed to buy the pectin and follow the package instructions. There is even freezer jam version of pectin, which of course I found after I had loaded up my freezer. I of course bought two different kinds of pectin (why I don’t know) and they appear to be made by the same manufacturer (Sure-Jell) but were very different. The first one had you cook the pectin and mix it with the fruit puree and sugar. The recipe also produced a lot more jam. I did a coarse puree in my food processor, cooked the pectin and added sugar. Then you let it sit on the counter overnight and wa la! strawberry jam.

Potato masher allows you to leave the berries chunkier

Potato masher allows you to leave the berries chunkier

The second kind of pectin used less berries and sugar and made about half as much jam (thank god because my little apartment freezer got quite full). It also required no cooking! You simply mashed the berries (if you are anti seeds you could strain them, but I like them) and then added the pectin and sugar and stirred. Let it sit again overnight and then wa la more jam!

I think I like the no cook variety better. They are both delicious and reminiscent of my youth, but the strawberry is more gelatin-like and the raspberry is much more like a raspberry sauce. Next year I will definitely try the special freezer jam version of pectin to see if the results are any different. But as you can see, I have plenty of jam for winter (for perhaps several families). I see some linzer cookies or thumbprints in my future. But overall, even if you use store bought berries this is an easy and fabulous way to have a little bit of summer all year long!

Yummy raspberry jam on my morning toast

Yummy raspberry jam on my morning toast

The title for this blog may be a bit ambitious . . . is my life always sweet, no! But I believe in celebrating everyday, because we have one life (as far as I know) and it should be savored. So this blog is about me (I know shocking to find another self-involved blog) and my view of the world. There is so much in life that excites and inspires me, and perhaps if you are reading this you must share some of those same touchpoints. I love reading other food blogs (minor obsession) and I love to cook and create. And like all creative people I need a place to put all of it and share it with the world in my own voice. So here it is . . . with a little sugar on top!