Sunday, December 20, 2015

Last Minute Recipes

Food has been my life these past few weeks.  I injured my back a little over a week ago and had to take some time off from working out.  Instead of feeling lost without the gym, I went on a roll cooking and baking.  Add to that, I've been to numerous Christmas parties, received Christmas cookies, and celebrated my son's 21st birthday.

I've cooked or baked just about all the recipes I've shared with you so far:
My Favorite Recipes   
More Recipes
and Holiday Recipes, Third Edition

Almost all of these recipes are no corners cut, so they are full fat and full sugar.  As you are preparing for the holidays, plan your day so you have lots of fresh vegetables and lean protein, one light dessert option.  Allow yourself a couple of "off the chart" treats and eat them in moderation.  The key to long term success is to have an overall healthy nutrition plan and still be able to eat the things you enjoy in moderation.  You don't want your daily week to week menu to be full of this kind of "full fat and full sugar" food, save it for special occasions,  I follow flexible dieting, which allows you to eat what you want as long as it fits into your calories and macro-nutrients.  I count every calorie!  It has been very hard this season.  I won't lie.  But it is doable.

This post has a couple long time favorites and a couple new recipes I tried this season.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

2 chicken breasts*, cooked and shredded
1 8 oz. packages of cream cheese
1/2 C Ranch dressing
1/2 - 3/4 C Buffalo sauce (I used Frank's Red Hot Wings Buffalo sauce)
1 C Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
1 package (bag) Tostitos Scoop tortilla chips, crackers or carrots and celery sticks

Substitute Blue cheese dressing for Ranch dressing
If using Blue cheese dressing, substitute 4 oz. Blue cheese crumbles for the Jack cheese

*You can use canned chicken OR roasted / rotisserie chicken from Costco or your local grocers store.  It's up to you.  I put some chicken breasts into the oven.

Heat oven to 350F.  Mix cream cheese and Ranch dressing together.  Add Buffalo sauce.  Pour into a 1 quart baking dish (or pie plate), stir in chicken and Jack cheese.  Bake 30 minutes, or until bubbly.  Serve with tortilla chips, crackers or veggies.

Side Dish
Twice Baked Potatoes

This is an annual tradition.  I make these every year and serve them with our Christmas dinner.  They are a nice treat!  I make them ahead, freeze them and then bake them on Christmas day.
This is BEFORE baking a second time.  I won't be doing that until Christmas day.
5 baking potatoes*
1 lb. bacon
1 C sour cream
1/2 C butter (1 stick)
2 C shredded cheddar cheese (or Monterrey Jack)
salt & pepper to taste

1.  Bake your potatoes at 350F for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, however long it takes for them to be fully baked.  If you pierce them before cooking them, do it on the side of the potato.  You need 1/2 as many potatoes as the guests you expect to feed.  I always make more than I need and usually buy larger potatoes for this.
2.  Cook your bacon, pat excess fat from the bacon, cut up into crumbles.
3.  When your potatoes are fully baked, cut them in half length wise.  Scoop out the potato from the skin and place in a mixing bowl, set skins aside.
4.  Mix sour cream, butter and potatoes until well blended.  Add more sour cream or a splash of milk if necessary so the potatoes are a smooth consistency.
5.  Stir in bacon, cheese and salt & pepper.  Add more cheese if you like really cheesy potatoes.
6.  Take potato mixture and place inside potato skins.  You should be able to re-fill each skin.
7.  Place potatoes on a baking sheet and freeze.  Once frozen, place in a freezer bag and store until the day you plan to serve them.
8.  Before serving, bake potatoes at 350F for 30 - 45 minutes.

Banana Cream / Pudding Pie
This one really is a light recipe!!!  No baking required.

2 bananas, sliced
2 packages of sugar free pudding:  I like this with vanilla pudding, but you can use chocolate or banana pudding if you like
3 C. low fat milk (or skim)
1 graham cracker crust (6 oz.)*
1 8 oz. container of light Cool Whip (or non-dairy whipped topping), thawed in the refrigerator

*If you use the larger crust (9 oz), increase other ingredients proportionately.  (3 bananas, 3 pkg. pudding., 4 1/2 C milk)
Also, Keebler makes a low fat version of the crust if you like.

1.  Place sliced bananas in the bottom of the crust.
2.  Mix pudding and milk until blended and thick.  You MUST use less milk than the pudding recipe requires, or the pudding will be too soupy for the pie.
3.  Place pudding over the bananas in the crust.  Refrigerate until thoroughly set.
4.  Serve with a dollop of whipped topping.

Pumpkin Bread
I was on a baking binge this year with the pumpkin breads.  I can't even tell you how many I made.
I slightly modified this recipe from AllRecipes.

1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 C. coconut oil, melted
2/3 C. water
3 C. white sugar
3 1/2 C. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
2 C. raisins

1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray three 7x3" loaf pans with cooking spray.
2.  In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended.  In a separte bowl, whisk together remaining dry ingredients.  Stir flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture until just blended.  Stir in raisins.  Pour into loaf pans.
3.  Bake for 50 minutes in preheated oven.  Toothpick test the breads to make sure they are done.
4.  Cool on rack for 10 minutes, remove from pan.  Allow to cool thoroughly.

I love the Trans-Siberian Orchestra 
Christmas Canon by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
I really enjoy the children's choir singing.  Their voices are beautiful, accompanied by the stringed instruments.  Makes my heart flutter when I hear it.

Questions for you: 
(Answer in the comment section below.)
What did you do this weekend?  Did you see Star Wars yet?  How was it?  Do you plan to see it?  Have you seen any great Christmas movies this season?

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