Mini Cherry Pies – 10 Smart Points

Sweet cherry pie.

I typically do most of the cooking in our house. We have a great deal – one cooks and the other one cleans. However, there is one thing that my husband does that is far, far superior to my efforts. Pie – my husband makes incredible pies. We usually have a number of pie fillings (peach and apple) made up and frozen so all he has to do is make the crust and plop in the filling. However, recently, I thought it’d be fun to have a slight change from the normal. So, instead of the usual large pie, we made little individual cherry pies. They were amazing. It was really fun to have little individual pies that we could share with some ice cream for a sweet treat after dinner one night. The remainder can be easily frozen so that they’re ready to thaw, warm and serve. It’s a great way for me to practice portion control, since it’s always very tempting to have another piece.

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Strawberry Cake Roll – 7 Smart Points

Strawberry Cake Roll

Around the holidays last year I made a couple of Swiss cake rolls. I really enjoyed making the cake rolls. It turns out they’re not as difficult as I thought they were. The trick is to roll them while the cake is still warm, then they can be unrolled, filled and rerolled fairly easily. I used parchment paper to roll my cake and it worked perfectly. With some leftover fresh strawberries, I decided to try a strawberry cake roll – and it was fabulous. I started with my favorite frosting recipe – cool whip and low fat cream cheese. While I prefer to use real whipped cream, I can get almost the same flavor with cool whip, but without the fat! Then I added fresh chopped strawberries for my filling. I went the easy route and used a plain box mix for the cake. You can use any flavor you like – white, yellow, funfetti, chocolate – whatever you prefer or whatever you have on hand. The box mix makes this easy to make and really light and fluffy. It was fun, delicious and looks beautiful and elegant. Since my husband doesn’t like chocolate – it’s even better! It’s now one of my favorite non-chocolate desserts! [Read more…]

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Strawberry Blender Muffins – 5 Smart Points

Strawberry Muffins

Fresh strawberry muffins are one of my favorites. About a year ago, my mother-in-law gave me a recipe for fresh strawberry muffins that I fell in love with. They were so tender, delicious and moist. The fresh strawberries made them really tasty. My only problem with them was the fact that they were a little involved to make. The way to get them to turn out perfectly involved sifting dry ingredients, creaming butter and sugar, and so on. I’m someone who likes to toss baking recipes together all in one bowl, mix and be done. So I went on the search for a simple and delicious replacement for my favorite strawberry muffins. I found these blender muffins that were just perfect. Originally, they had bananas in the recipe, so I tried it without first and just added the strawberries. They’re OK that way, but the bananas add the extra moistness that they really needed to be tasty. Everything, except the fresh strawberries, gets tossed in the blender (or food processor), pureed and then fold in the strawberries. They’re ready to go in just a few minutes, and bake in a few more minutes. Fresh out of the oven they are just amazing. I’m really enjoying my new strawberry muffin recipe, especially since if I use gluten free oats, they’re gluten free, and have no need for me to adjust flours. They’re easy, tender, moist and really delicious. They’re perfect for breakfast or snack – whether they’re fresh and warm or leftover.

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Baked Lemon Chicken – 5 Smart Points

Lemon Baked Chicken

I love baked chicken. It’s so easy and simple, a great and healthy way to prepare chicken. As long as I don’t overbake it, then it’s juicy and moist. I like to check the local grocery ads, and stock up on chicken when it’s on sale (legs, thighs and breasts). That way I have some in the freezer and can just stick it in the oven for dinner that night. Citrus and chicken go so well together that I thought I would combine them with a little honey, some garlic and rosemary. I made a basting sauce with broth, lemon juice, honey, garlic and Italian seasoning. I added some extra cloves of garlic and sprigs of rosemary while baking the chicken. The end result was delicious. It was a little tart, garlicy and succulent. I will definitely be doing this again. Browning the chicken before baking it ensured the juices were sealed in during baking. The flavors of the lemon and garlic work so well with the juicy chicken. This is simple and delicious. Serve it with a salad or roasted vegetables to round out this fabulous chicken. [Read more…]

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Fresh Blueberry Muffins – 6 Smart Points

Blueberry Muffin

In addition to some projects we were working on last weekend, my in-laws also brought us some really delicious, fresh, ripe blueberries. I love blueberries. Growing up, my grandparents lived on the coast of Washington. Grandma had the most amazing blueberry patch ever. It was about 6 feet by 10 feet and completely encased in a large chicken wire cage, to keep the birds out. The only downside was the bugs, because we could go in there and have as many blueberries as we could eat. Each summer, I try to get some fresh blueberries so that I can freeze them to add to sauces, muffins and all sorts of other things the rest of the year. A few blueberries have to be saved to be eaten fresh, and a few have to be used in a special recipe. This years special recipe was fresh blueberry muffins.

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Peach Dumplings – 5 Smart Points

Peach Dumplings

I’ll admit I’m kind of addicted to Pinterest. As someone who not only write recipes and meal plans for a living, but also sews, quilts and knits, I can spend hours looking at projects and ideas. When I saw a recipe for peach dumplings, I just had to try it. I ended up combining several recipes, since I wanted to use fresh peaches, not canned peaches. I love how easy these were to make and they were so delicious! They’re a cute little dessert that goes so well with ice cream (at least for the family and friends). But they go just as well with a dab of fat free cool whip or a little non fat Greek yogurt. If you’re looking for a little twist, these can also be made with wonton wrappers, and be just as cute and delicious. Just be sure to keep an eye on them, since they may not take as long to bake. If using wonton wrappers, you should also brush them with a beaten egg white so they turn that beautiful golden brown. But no matter what you use for the wrapper, these are definitely keepers for my family, they’re so simple and elegant but incredibly delicious. [Read more…]

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Double Chocolate Banana Muffins – 7 Smart Points

Chocolate Banana Muffins

This banana muffin is probably my all time favorite banana recipe. It is moist, delicious and very easy to put together. I’ve made it about a dozen times and it has yet to fail me. The original recipe was for a banana bread, but I rather dislike making banana breads. They take so long to bake and a piece of banana bread isn’t nearly as convenient as a muffin. I almost always make my quick breads into muffins. In fact, I love to make these as mini muffins. The mini muffins are just perfect for a couple of bites of a snack without going overboard. As much as I love mini muffins, I left this one as regular sized muffins for this recipe. These regular muffins are great for me as a treat after a walk or bike ride, or as a mid afternoon snack with some fruit or veggies. I always make mine gluten free with a baking mix, but you can use regular all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour just as easily with no substitutions. Use up your leftover bananas with these delicious muffins. The moist, rich chocolate muffin won’t disappoint.

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Dutch Babies – 5 Smart Points

Dutch Babies

I have a few go-to breakfasts that I make on the weekend, and they’re usually a little more involved than my regular breakfasts. I love pancakes and hashbrowns with fried eggs. But probably my all time favorite breakfast is Dutch Babies. Growing up, I’m sure my mom made lots of different breakfasts on Saturday mornings, but the one I remember is Dutch Babies with fruit sauce. I loved it then, and I love it even more now. The part I really love about it now is how simple it is to put together. I like to set my oven to preheat itself about the time I know I need to get up. A hot oven is key to Dutch Babies, so this ensures that I don’t have to wait (and wait and wait) for my oven to finally get up to 400 degrees. I usually preheat it to about 425 or 450 degrees, so that when I open the door, there’s plenty of heat to ensure proper baking. Once your oven is preheated, they’re so easy to make! Just put everything in the blender, and you’re good to go! I typically serve mine with fruit sauce and some Greek yogurt.

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Sundried Tomato & Basil Clover Rolls – 5 Smart Points

Sundried Tomato & Basil Clover Rolls

I was recently asked to design a recipe with frozen basil in it. I decided to go with classic clover rolls, and then add sundried tomatoes and basil to it. They were delicious! They were light and fluffy (provided you don’t over bake them like I did with my first batch), and had just the right blend of tomato and basil flavor. I find the sundried tomato flavor is often too strong when just mixed into salads and pastas, but with this, the basil seemed to temper it a bit. They were perfect with some spaghetti and a side salad. My original recipe used all purpose flour, but you can substitute whole wheat and get a little more fiber and whole grain nutrition in them. I’ve also made them with gluten free flour. They didn’t rise quite as well, so they were a little denser, but were still delicious. Give these clover rolls a try – you won’t be disappointed with their elegant flavor. [Read more…]

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Ciabatta – 4 Smart Points

Whole Grain Ciabatta

Oprah has said what everyone else is thinking – it’s possible to lose weight without giving up anything. One of the keys to loosing weight and keeping it off is to find a way to compromise. To find a way to enjoy your favorite foods while not going overboard. For many people I know, one of those things you want to keep enjoying is bread. Baked goods are something that just about everyone loves. Whether you’re try to lose weight, diabetic and counting carbs or gluten intolerant, there is something about a chewy and delicious piece of bread that can’t be replaced. One way to make bread healthier is to use whole wheat flour. Just make sure that the flour is finely ground. If your flour isn’t finely ground, your bread could be grainy. Whole wheat flour adds a richer texture and flavor to these traditional Italian rolls. Ciabatta are rustic Italian rolls that are chewy with a crispy crust. They are made with a starter, biga, that is fermented overnight. The dough is very wet, almost more like batter than dough. Letting the dough sit before kneading allows the flour to absorb the water so the dough is the right consistency. These rolls do take longer than normal to make, but the delicious texture and flavor definitely make it worth while to make a batch of these for a special occasion.
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Classic French Macarons – 6 Smart Points

Classic French Macaron

I don’t typically have desserts around since I just want to eat them, but sometimes, it’s nice to have some desserts. I had some coconut macaroons recently, and they were delicious, but I wanted something a little lighter, so I went with these macarons. These are classic French meringue based cookies that are just delightful little things. They are light and just a little sweet, but not overpowering. You can serve them with frosting in the middle, which is traditionally how they’re served. Or, you can serve them with some frozen yogurt, pudding or some lemon curd instead. These cookies are naturally gluten free, and are really quite easy to make. I dyed my several colors (just separate the batter to do that), so I had a little more variety without making tons of cookies. Be careful not to over handle the batter though, or they might end up falling. Also make sure that you beat the egg whites in a glass or metal bowl. Plastic bowls tend to hold on to grease residue, and that will prevent the egg whites from becoming a meringue. But with those two tips, it’s easy and simple to make these delicious little cookies. [Read more…]

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Broccoli and Cheddar Crustless Quiche – 4 Smart Points

Broccoli and Cheddar Crustless Quiche

Serve up this Broccoli and Cheddar Crustless Quiche at your next Sunday brunch, and it’s sure to become a family favorite! Most quiche recipes are meant to be healthy and light, but the addition of a high fat crust can often overshadow all the positive nutritional elements of the dish. By ditching the crust, we keep this quiche light and nutritious. The key is to make sure that the eggs are enhanced with delicious flavor to makeup for the lack of crust. I highly recommend using an extra sharp cheddar if you can find it, as it really kicks up the flavor! At just 4 Smart Points for 1/6th of the quiche, this dish is the perfect addition to any brunch, dinner, or potluck.

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