Monday, May 30, 2011

Pineapple Bliss Cake

Original Recipe from Gina's Skinny Recipes (

I made these cupcakes for coworkers a few weeks ago and everyone really enjoyed them. I thought I would try making this recipe as a cake for the memorial day weekend and it turned out delicious. The original recipe on Gina's website is delicious, but I made some changes and I like my version better. The cake is super moist and very light, and it just tastes like a cake you should eat in the summer. If that even makes sense to you. If you enjoy pineapple, this cake is definitely something you should try.

Serves 12

1 box Pillsbury Sugar Free Classic Yellow Cake Mix
1 20 ounce can crushed pineapple
1 large tub Cool-Whip (I use the lite cool whip or the no sugar added cool whip)
1 large box of Sugar Free Vanilla Pudding Mix
1 20 ounce can crushed pineapple - completely drained

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, combine cake mix and 1 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple, with the juice, and mix together for 2 minutes.
Pour cake mix in a 13x9 baking pan (use nonstick cooking spray before pouring in the mix)
Bake cake according to directions on the cake box.
Cool cake completely before icing.

For the icing:
Slightly thaw tub of cool whip.
In a bowl, combine the entire tub of cool whip, 1 box of vanilla pudding mix, and 1 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple, completely drained, and mix well.
Ice the entire 13x9 dish of cake.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*There are several ways you can make these different:
-make this recipe as cupcakes or as a cake
-add crushed pecans or coconut to the icing
-you can use marshmellow creme instead of cool whip, but it is less healthier that way

Enjoy! :)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

2 recipes: Spiced Sweet Potato Fries and Jalapeno Stuffed Burgers

With it being a 3 day holiday weekend, I made it a point to try out tons of new recipes. Hopefully no one minds that I am going to be adding lots of recipes in the next few days. Time off work means more experiment time in the kitchen. Here are 2 that I have done so far this weekend.

Jalapeno Stuffed Burgers
Serves 4

1 pound Lean Ground Beef
1/3 cup bbq sauce
pepper for seasoning
1/2 yellow onion - diced finely
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 large jalapeno pepper - diced finely
Cheese slices - if you prefer
Whole Wheat Hamburger buns
Toppings you desire: lettuce, tomato, mustard, ketchup, mayo, etc...

In a large bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients until well blended.
Divide the beef mixture into 4 equal parts.
Take each of the 4 equal parts and divide those in half. You should have 8 small sections of the ground beef mixture.
Make beef patties with each of the 8 sections.
In the center of 4 of the patties, add some of the diced jalapeno and put a chunk of cheese on top.
Place the other 4 patties on top of each of these and press the edges together so that nothing falls out during the cooking process.
Grill until cooked to the temperature you desire.
Enjoy your stuffed burger. :)

*We used very lean grass-fed beef
*Use whatever bbq sauce you like or have in your refrigerator.
*We used Sargento Reduced Fat Swiss Cheese Slices and I divided each slice into 4 pieces. This way we had a little cheesy goodness, but not overindulge.
*Feel free to use whatever buns you prefer. We just like Whole Wheat buns.
*Feel free to add extra jalapeno if you like it spicier.
*These were very filling burgers, so we just had a small salad with them and some fresh, sliced fruit.

Nutritional Information:
(does not include the hamburger buns)

1 pound Lean Ground Beef - 680 calories
1/3 cup bbq sauce - 70 calories
pepper for seasoning - 0 calories
1/2 yellow onion - diced finely - approx 35 calories
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic = 5 calories
1 tsp worcestershire sauce - 5 calories
1 large jalapeno pepper - diced finely - 5 calories
Cheese slices - if you prefer - 1 piece (divided in 4 pieces) = 60 calories

= 860 divided by 4 servings = 215 calories per burger

Spiced Sweet Potato Fries
Serves 4

Vegetables are so important in one's diet, yet most Americans don't get enough in their daily diets. Here is a delicious recipe that your family will enjoy and still allows them to get veggies. I have a current obsession with using sweet potatoes in our household. They are very nutritious and there are countless ways you can add them to your dinner dishes. Luckily, my husband is okay with me cooking these so much lately.  This particular recipe is very delicious, but there are so many ways you can season them to make them a little different each time you make them. I strongly encourage you to give these a try. They are a healthy indulgence.

2 large sweet potatoes
1 1/2 tbsp canola oil or olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smokey paprika
sea salt and ground black pepper for seasoning
1/4 tsp red cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Peel and rinse sweet potatoes.
Slice the sweet potatoes in 1/4 inch thick slices, like julienne style french fries.
In a bowl, combine the oil, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder and mix together well.
Toss the mixture with the cut sweet potato fries.
Place fries on a non-stick baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. Make sure you toss the sweet potato fries a few times during the cooking process, so that they do not burn and cook all the way through.
Enjoy! :)

*I added extra cumin and paprika for added flavor.
*We prefer savory and spicy sweet potatoes, but if you prefer sweet, you could throw on sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg to these instead of the savory spices that are used in this recipe.
*We cooked these the full 30 minutes so that they got crispy.

Nutritional Information:
2 large sweet potatoes - approx 350 calories
1 1/2 tbsp canola oil or olive oil - 180 calories
1 tsp ground cumin - 11 calories
1 tsp smokey paprika - 6 calories
sea salt and ground black pepper for seasoning - 0 calories
1/4 tsp red cayenne pepper - 3 calories
1 tsp garlic powder - 9 calories

= 559 calories divided by 4 servings = 139.75 calories per serving

Friday, May 27, 2011

Wheat French Baguette

Original Recipe from the "For the Love of Cooking" blog (

Just in the past few months, I have been trying to make homemade breads rather than buy them from the store. I started noticing that the breads sold in stores still contain several ingredients that one can't pronounce or even begin to know what they are. While there are some very healthy choices in the bread aisle at the grocery store, there is nothing quite like fresh, homemade bread. If you want to start taking on the adventures of making your own bread, I highly recommend the book "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day". It was given to me by my dear friends, Jamie and Dave McHenry, and I love it. I've made homemade wheat pizza dough, homemade loafs of bread, and whole wheat dinner rolls with the book.

This was my first attempt at making a baguette, so the shape was a little off, but it tastes very good. We have been slicing small pieces and having it with dinner all week. It would also be good to use for bruschetta, panini's, or french toast. The choices are limitless.

Serves 4-6
*You will need a breadmaker for this recipe

1/2 cup of warm water + 2 tbsp
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp white sugar
1 1/4 cups of flour
3/4 tsp active dry yeast
Corn meal for dusting
1 egg + 2 tsp water, mixed

-Place the water, salt, white sugar, flour, and yeast into a bread machine pan in that order. Turn the bread machine to the dough setting and push start.
-Once the dough cycle has completed, deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle then fold in half and seal the seam firmly with the side of your hand. Roll up dough jelly roll style very tightly and pinch the seam closed really well. Place the loaf onto a silicone pastry mat that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover with a cloth and let rise, until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.
-Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the egg with the water and beat until thoroughly mixed. Brush the egg mixture on the top of the loaf. Carefully slice three diagonal slits across the loaf with a very sharp knife. Place the silicone pastry mat onto a baking sheet.
-Place into the oven and bake for 17-22 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it cool on a rack before slicing and serving.
-Enjoy your fresh bread.
*To make the baguette healthier, I used 1/2 cup all purpose flour and 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour. I thought about doing all whole wheat flour, but was afraid of how it would turn out. I am making this again for my parents this weekend and will be trying it with 100% whole wheat flour and will let you know how it turns out.
*I also used 2 egg whites, instead of 1 large egg, to lower the cholesterol in the recipe.
*To add flavor to the bread, I added some garlic powder (1/4 tsp) and some fresh diced herbs from my herb garden (just a pinch). Get creative and add your own additional spices for flavoring, but do not add any extra liquid ingredients.
*If you have more than 4 people in your family, you may want to make a double batch and make 2 baguettes.
Nutritional Information:
1/2 cup of warm water + 2 tbsp - 0 calories
1/2 tsp salt - 0 calories
1 1/2 tsp white sugar - 25 calories
1 1/4 cups of flour - 500 calories
3/4 tsp active dry yeast - approx 9 calories
Corn meal for dusting
1 egg + 2 tsp water, mixed - 70 calories

=604 calories/6 servings = 100.67 calories per serving

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Whole Grain Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins

I decided to make Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins so that we could have them for breakfast for the next several days. This was the first time I've made them with this particular recipe. Bryan and I were split on these. I really liked them and thought the flavor was great. Bryan was not so fond of them, but he doesn't like anything with oats in it, so I kind of figured he might not like them. I love any recipe that tries to encorporate whole grains. Most Americans eat way too many refined products and not enough whole grain foods. This recipe uses old fashioned oats, which are 100% whole grain, and I did half and half when it came to the flour, by using 1/2 all purpose flour and 1/2 whole wheat flour. Since Bryan didn't care for these, I brought a lot of them in for my coworkers and so far everyone really likes them. Oh yeah, did I mention that these are low-fat? These muffins are great for a quick breakfast or snack. I had one for breakfast and paired it with some fresh sliced strawberries and kiwis and egg whites scrambled.  Give these a try! :)

Original Recipe is from

Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins
Serves 12

1 cup Quaker™ Old Fashioned Oats (regular or quick oats, uncooked)
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1⁄4 cup liquid egg substitute (or 2 egg whites)
2 tbs. margarine, melted
1⁄2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbs sugar or sugar substitute
1 tsp. baking powder
1⁄2 tsp. baking soda
1⁄4 tsp. salt (optional)
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Heat oven to 400°. Lightly spray 12 medium
muffin cups with cooking spray. In a medium
bowl, combine oats and buttermilk; let stand
10 minutes. Add egg substitute, margarine and
lemon peel; mix well. In a large bowl, combine
remaining ingredients except berries; mix well.
Add wet ingredient to dry ingredients; stir just
until dry ingredient are moistened. Gently stir in
blueberries. Fill muffin cups almost full.Bake 20-
25minutes or until golden brown. Cool muffins
in pan on wire rack 5 minutes; remove from pan.

*I used eggbeaters instead of 2 egg whites
*I used light margarine
*I used 1/2 cup all purpose flour and 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
*I used Cascadian Farms Organic Frozen Blueberries
*I used regular sugar because I was out of sugar substitute but 3 tbsp is not that much!

Nutritional Information:
1 cup Quaker™ Old Fashioned Oats (regular or quick oats, uncooked) - 300 calories
1 cup low-fat buttermilk - 110 calories
1⁄4 cup liquid egg substitute (or 2 egg whites) - 60 calories
2 tbs. margarine, melted - 160 calories
1⁄2 tsp. grated lemon peel - 3 calories
1 cup all-purpose flour - 400 calories
3 tbs sugar or sugar substitute - 135 calories
1 tsp. baking powder - 8 calories
1⁄2 tsp. baking soda - 0 calories
1⁄4 tsp. salt (optional) - 0 calories
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries - 70 calories

= 1246 calories for entire recipe = approx. 103.83 calories per muffin

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin

This recipe comes from "For the Love of Cooking" blog.

I decided to try this recipe for the first time tonight. I didn't know if we would like it or not, but we both agree 100% that it is amazing and so delicious! It doesn't hurt that it is nutritious as well. :)  I served this with some steamed brown rice and steamed mixed vegetables. 

Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin
Serves 6

1/4 cup Italian seasoned panko crumbs
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1 ½ tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp fresh thyme, leaves only
1- 1 1/2 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
Sea salt and freshly cracked, pepper, to taste
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 clove of garlic, minced
Cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Coat a baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Pour the panko crumbs, parsley, cheese, and thyme onto a plate, mix until well combined. Rinse off pork tenderloin. Pat dry and then season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Mix the mustard, fennel seeds, and garlic together then rub evenly all over the pork tenderloin. Roll the pork tenderloin in the panko mixture until coated really well. Place the pork tenderloin on the baking sheet.

Bake in oven until temperature reads 165 degrees.

*The original recipe says to cook it for 20-25 minutes. It took about 35-40 minutes to finish in our oven.
*I made 3 changes to this recipe:
(1) I omitted the fennel seeds
(2) I used whole wheat italian breadcrumbs to make it a little healthier
(3) I used light grated parmesan cheese.

I think you will be very pleased with this recipe. Enjoy!

Nutritional Information:

1/4 cup Italian seasoned panko crumbs - 110 calories
2 tbsp fresh parsley - 1 calorie
1 ½ tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated - 40 calories
1 tsp fresh thyme, leaves only - 0 calories
1- 1 1/2 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed - 780 calories
Sea salt and freshly cracked, pepper, to taste - 0 calories
2 tbsp Dijon mustard - 30 calories
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 clove of garlic, minced - 4 calories
Cooking spray

Total calories: 965 calories =  approx. 160.83 calories per serving

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mexican Night at Casa de Sims (4 new recipes)

Tonight we are having some of our best friends over for dinner and are having Mexican food. Mexican food is quite possibly my favorite kind of food. The problem with it is that Mexican food tends to be very high in fat and calories, so I try to make it at home rather than going somewhere to eat it. For dinner, I am serving salad, homemade salsa with baked tortilla chips, and mexican lasagna. The homemade salsa recipe I use if from a friend, Paige Wilson. She brought it to a baby shower a while back and I fell in love with it. I make it a lot!

Homemade Salsa Recipe

3 cans, petite diced tomatoes
3 bunches green onions (all the white and a little bit of the green) - chopped finely
3 cloves garlic - chopped finely
2 jalapenos (remove the seeds before chopping) - chopped finely
1 bunch cilantro (mainly use the stems, and just a few of the leaves) - chopped finely
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp fresh cracked pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt to taste

I make this salsa the day before I am going to serve it because it tastes so much better after it sits in the refrigerator for a while.

*I don't change much from the original recipe. There are 3 things I alter in this recipe. I use 3 jalapenos, instead of 2, because we like it a little spicier. I add about 1 1/2 tsp cumin, because I love cumin. I only use about 1/2 a bunch of cilantro. I find that if you use the whole bunch, the cilantro sort of takes over the entire salsa flavor.
*You can use fresh tomatoes instead of canned. You would probably need 7 or 8 larger tomatoes. I have done this before and it tastes amazing.

Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips

corn tortillas (how many depends on how many tortilla chips you want to make) 1 corn tortilla makes 8 wedges or chips.
olive oil
chili powder
Fresh lime juice - 1 lime

Cut 8 wedges from corn tortillas
Combine 1 tbsp olive oil and juice of the lime in a bowl.
Use a pastry brush to brush the olive oil mixture on top of all the corn tortilla wedges.
Sprinkle chili powder and cumin on top of the tortilla wedges.
You can use the seasonings sparingly or add to your taste.

Use a nonstick pan with cooking spray on it.
Cook tortilla wedges at 350 degrees for about 7 minutes.
Make sure you watch closely. You do not want to overcook the tortilla wedges. You just want them a golden brown.

*While these don't taste like the original, fried tortilla chips most are used to, they are a healthier option and are quite tasty.
*I use extra thin yellow corn tortillas by Mission.

Mexican Lasagna
Makes 12 servings

1 pound lean ground beef
1 can black beans (low sodium kind) - drained (we buy organic)
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce (low sodium kind)
1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 yellow onion - diced
1 4-ounce can diced green chiles
1 packet of taco seasoning (low sodium kind) or you can make your own taco seasoning from scratch (see recipe below)

1/2 cup of light ricotta cheese
2 eggs, or 3 egg whites, or 1/2 cup of egg substitute

12 corn tortillas
2 cups of mexican blend shredded cheese (made with skim or 2% milk)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

For the meat mixture:
Season and brown hamburger meat in a large skillet.
Once the meat is fully cooked, drain and return to pan.
Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, green chiles, onion, black beans, and taco seasoning to the meat and stir together well.

Egg mixture:
Combine the ricotta cheese and eggs together and stir well.

In a 13x9 greased pan, spread 1/2 the meat mixture on the bottom of the pan.
Place 6 of the corn tortillas on top of the mixture.
Spread 1/2 of the egg mixture on top of the tortillas.
Sprinkle 1cup of cheese on top of that.
Repeat the process one more time.

Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes and enjoy! :)

*There are so many ways to make this dish your own. You can add or omit any of the mix ins with the ground beef. I have used pinto beans drained and I have also made the recipe with no beans. Beans are a very nutritious addition to your diet though, so I try to use them whenever possible.
*I use 3 egg whites to lower the cholesterol of this dish.
*I try to use fat free shredded cheese, as it is much healthier than your full fat cheeses.
*We use organic, grass-fed beef, which is lower in fat, calories, and cholesterol and has a higher omega count, but you can use any kind of ground beef.

Nutritional Information for mexican lasagna:
1 pound lean ground beef - approx 875 calories
1 can black beans (low sodium kind) - drained (we buy organic) - 350 calories
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce (low sodium kind) - 55 calories
1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes - 110 calories
1/2 yellow onion - diced - 35 calories
1 4-ounce can diced green chiles - 20 calories
1 packet of taco seasoning (low sodium kind) or you can make your own taco seasoning from scratch (see recipe below) - 120 calories
1/2 cup of light ricotta cheese - 120 calories
3 egg whites - 50 calories
12 corn tortillas - 400 calories
2 cups of fat free shredded cheese - 320 calories

= 2455 total calories divided by 12 servings =  204.58 calories per serving

Homemade Taco Seasoning

1 Tbsp. Chili Powder
1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 tsp. Dried Oregano
1/2 tsp. Paprika
1 1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
1 tsp. Sea Salt
1 tsp. Black Pepper

*homemade taco seasoning is so much better for you than the prepackaged kind at the store.  If you ever stop to look at the ingredients in the prepackaged seasoning packets, you would realize you probably can't pronounce some of the ingredients. This is not good! Homemade taco seasoning is simple to make and tastes great on many Mexican dishes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Whole Grain Cajun Chicken Pasta

The original recipe is from Pioneer Woman (

This was the first time I have ever made cajun chicken pasta. I found the recipe a few weeks ago and thought it sounded delicious. However, I didn't want to use a full fat cream sauce. Rather than use the method that the original recipe calls for, I opted for a light alfredo sauce by Classico. Bryan and I loved this recipe and hope you will love it as well. Since pasta is heavy, a fresh salad and a side of fresh fruit would compliment this meal perfectly.
Whole Grain Cajun Chicken Pasta:
Serves 4-5

3/4 box of Healthy Harvest Whole Grain Linguine (10 oz)
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1/2 red onion
2 roma tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tsp cajun seasoning
black pepper to season
1 jar Classico Light Alfredo Sauce (we only used about 3/4 jar)
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts thin sliced

Cook pasta according to the box.
Heat up alfredo sauce in a saucepan on low.
Wash and Slice up bell peppers, onion, tomatoes, and chop the cloves of garlic
Slice chicken breasts into small chunks
Season chicken with pepper and 1/2 of the cajun seasoning (1 1/2 tsp)
Heat large skillet (we used a cast iron skillet) with 1 tbsp olive oil and toss chicken chunks in.
Cook chicken until 165 degrees.
Once chicken is done, remove from pan. Add the additional tbsp of olive oil to the pan.
Add peppers, onions, tomatoes, and garlic to the pan, along with the remaining cajun seasoning and pepper, and saute for 3-5 minutes.
Once the pepper mixture has sauteed, add the chicken back to the pan and add the light alfredo sauce. Stir well.
Pour this entire mixture over the pasta and stir together. Serve with fresh parsley chopped on top.

*We always try to use the whole grain or whole wheat pasta. If your family won't eat whole wheat, try the whole grain. Most of the time you can't even tell the difference and it is much healthier for you.
*Add orange and yellow bell peppers to the mix if you would like. You could also add different veggies, like mushrooms, if you would like to change it up.

Nutritional Information:
3/4 box linguine - 900 calories
Red bell pepper - 51 calories
Green Bell pepper - 33 calories
1/2 Red Onion - 30 calories
2 roma tomatoes - 65 calories
2 cloves of garlic - 8 calories
2 tbsp olive oil - 240 calories
Light Alfredo Sauce (3/4 jar is 5 servings) - 300 calories
1 pound chicken breasts - 440 calories
= 413.40 calories per serving