Recipe makeover (now with photo!)

All I can say is…wow! Last night, my husband made supper. Oh, okay, no big surprise there, right? But what amazed me was what he made. Oh, okay, that should have been no surprise either as most of you know he is one heckuva cook…er…chef. (That’s what I like to call him!)

But here’s the deal, he had taken chicken breasts out of the freezer in the morning and had planned on grilling them with one of his usual marinades. But, when he went to the cupboard to get it, a can of artichokes hearts caught his eye. We love artichokes.

So, like he often does, he logged onto one of his favorite recipe websites, allrecipes.com, and typed in chicken and artichokes. One of the first recipes listed, cleverly named no doubt, was Artichoke Chicken. It had more than one thousand reviews on it, which my husband loves, so he decided to give it a shot. However, he knew that the recipe wasn’t all that healthy, so he took it upon himself to revise it.

That, my dear readers, is where the shock factor comes in. I entered the information for the original recipe into the recipe builder on the Weight Watchers website to find out how many pp values it had. I put the serving size as three because that is how many chicken breasts my husband used. Each serving had 21 pp values. TWENTY-ONE!!! Holy smokes. I only have 30 pp values to use in a day. To waste 21 pp values on one piece of chicken, not a chance. That is ridiculous. Absurd, really.

Well, my husband’s revised version of the chicken artichoke recipe, which I cleverly renamed Chicken A la Artichoke Al, was only 7 pp values per serving. SEVEN. Now that’s more like it. Seriously, to go from 21 to 7 pp values, that is absolutely crazy. Unbelievable almost.

You can find the original recipe here. The ingredients included 1 can of artichokes hearts, drained and chopped; 3/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese; 3/4 mayonnaise; 1 pinch of garlic pepper; and 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts. For instructions, click on the link.

The ingredients my husband used included 2 wedges of the Laughing Cow light original swiss cheese; 3 tablespoons of reduced-fat parmesan cheese; 1/4 cup of fat-free sour cream; 2 tablespoons of Hellman’s light mayonnaise; 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder; 1 can of artichokes hearts (not in oil), drained and chopped; 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped (tossed on top once it was done); and 20 ounces of chicken (this was one package, but it only had three chicken breasts).

He mixed together everything but the chicken breasts and the parsley. Then he sprayed a glass pan with Pam and put the chicken breasts in the pan. He took the mixture and spread it evenly over the three chicken breasts and baked it, uncovered, for about 45 minutes at 375 degrees. When he took it out of the oven, he sprinkled the fresh parsley on top.

So, I am sure all of you are wondering if the recipe my husband made was even any good and you know what, it was DELICIOUS! And I am not just saying that. It was creamy, cheesy, flavorful, tender and just plain good. We ate it with a side of mixed veggies and it was a wonderfully delicious meal.

And the best part? It was way more healthy for us!!!! It just goes to show you that you can tweak a recipe just a little and it can make a huge difference, as far as how healthy it is. And you can do it without sacrificing the taste.

Here’s a photo of the Chicken a la Artichoke Al!!

Yummy!

Running?

It seems like I have been doing lots of running these days, but yet I feel like I am going nowhere. But I guess that’s probably because the kind of running I’ve been doing isn’t the kind of running I SHOULD BE doing.

So, what type of running should I be doing? Well, the kind that is going to get me into shape for my first race of the season. A couple of months ago, I got the bright idea to sign my husband and I up for the Lucky 7 race in the Twin Cities. Runners can either compete in the Lucky 7K, which is a little more than 4 miles, or the Lucky Triple 7K, which is roughly a half-marathon or a little more than 13 miles.

Nope, I did not sign us up for the half marathon. Seriously? Did you really think I would? Not a chance. To be real honest with you all, I don’t ever have the intention of running a half or a full marathon. Neither of these races really trip my trigger. I am not knocking either of these distance races, but I just don’t have the desire to do more than a 10K.

For those half-marathoners and marathoners out there, I give you so much credit. You all deserve a big huge KUDOS! Seriously, you people amaze me. Especially those who keep doing these types of races over and over and over again. I commend you on your discipline, energy and drive. Give yourselves a pat on the back.

I am not sure what it is about the distance running for me, but it just doesn’t sound appealing. For me, the shorter distance races are much more manageable. Or at least I hope they will be this year. I will have to say, though, I am tremendously nervous about this first race. I haven’t done any type of running – inside or outside – since the beginning of November. I thought by signing us up that I would kick it into gear.

I haven’t. But I know I need to.

The countdown is on….I have just 67 more days until the race….that’s a little more than nine and a half weeks. YIKES! If only there were more than 24 hours in a day!

A trip to the grocery store

While grocery shopping the other day – on one of the many days we were in the midst of an awful snowstorm – my husband and I picked up some items that neither of us have ever tried before.

Our actual quest at the grocery store was to find some kind of fun seafood – like swordfish, halibut or mahi mahi – for our New Year’s Eve extravaganza. We decided that fish must have certain seasons – like fruits and veggies – because we could not find what we were looking for. However, we ended up with four different types of fish, just a piece or two of each because the storms ruined our plans of having our friends from Fargo join us for our New Year’s Eve celebration. Dang weather. (Side note: We decided that when the weather settles down, we are going to have a re-do and do New Year’s Eve all over again with our friends! Yeah! I can’t wait!)

So, besides buying the fish (I will get back to that later), we bought several other items that we have never purchased before, which included butternut squash, collard greens and polenta. I was looking for a persimmon because another Weight Watchers leader had tried it and said I should try it, too. I’m kind of adventurous when it comes to food so I thought what the heck, I will. But unfortunately, the store was all out.

The awesomely kind produce guy told me to come back later this week and they should have more. That same guy also helped me with the butternut squash. Because I am not a squash connoisseur – I have bought it once in my life – I actually had know idea what the heck a butternut squash looked like, so he had to help me pick one out. He also went and made a copy of information from a book he had on fruits and veggies about the butternut squash and what I am supposed to do with it. I was more than grateful for his helpfulness.

If you are wondering why I wanted butternut squash in the first place, it is because of a recipe I want to try from my new Weight Watchers cookbook (which by the way you can only purchase from a meeting…sorry). Anyway, I am so excited because now I can finally try that recipe. I hope to this week or maybe next Saturday for our date night!

As for the polenta, my husband and I tried it while on our first trip to Napa Valley, California. We were dining at the Boon Fly Cafe, which by the way is not really a cafe, but an awesomely good restaurant with very fun food! Anyway, since that time, I have been wanting to buy polenta and then find a cool recipe and make it. We will be doing that sometime this week and I can’t wait.

As for the collard greens, a member had talked about them in one of my WW meetings (or some other type of “weird” greens) and I thought, what the heck, I may as well give ‘em a try. I found a really cool recipe on the Weight Watchers website for braised Swiss chard with currants and pine nuts. I thought it would work with the collard greens so I made it. The recipe ended up being braised collard greens with dried cranberries and toasted slivered almonds. AND, it was delicious! Way better than I expected. Here is what it looked like:

Braised Collard Greens with Dried Cranberries and Toasted Slivered Almonds

So, what about the fish? Well, my husband made all four of the fish we bought for our New Year’s Eve extravaganza and they were ALL delicious. Here is what we had:

The fish sampler

Starting at the top, going clockwise – grilled yellowfin tuna with romaine and tropical fruit; grilled cod with banana-orange relish; Japanese-style grilled swai; and grilled red snapper in lemon-dijon sauce. Seriously delicious, but seriously filling!!!!

If anyone would like the recipes for anything mentioned in this blog, send me an email to confessionsofaformerfatgirl@gmail.com and I will email it back to you. And, as always, you can find Confessions of a [former] Fat Girl on Facebook by clicking here.