Tuna Mushroom Cups

Tuna Mushroom CupsOf all the Blimpy Girl dishes that I have prepared over the last 8 months, this one remains a favorite for both myself and daughter. Every time I mention I’m making tuna cups, my daughter is thrilled.

Last night I made up a batch for lunch today. This works equally well for a dinner dish. Each cup is in the neighborhood of 95 calories and believe me, two of them paired with a salad will fill you up.

I usually use the seamless dough from Pillsbury, but I didn’t have any on hand. Instead, I substituted 2 cans of low-fat crescent rolls. It took a little more effort to squish them out and make them fit each muffin cup, but it worked.

This is a four ingredient dish and can be completed in 30 minutes. If your kids like tuna sandwiches chances are good they will gobble these up (they’ll never notice the mushrooms…I promise!) Grab the Recipe

Simple Simon Bacon & Beef Sandwich

Simple Simon Bacon & Beef Sandwich

I brought home a leftover beef tenderloin steak from dinner the other night. Hmmm….what to do with it? I wanted a no fuss meal without having to prepare veggies and tators. My solution: This beef & bacon sandwich on a low fat muffin layered with goodies and topped off with low fat cheddar cheese in all its melted gooeyness.

The side dish was artichoke hearts that I chopped into quarters. It was topped with a homemade dressing of fat-fat mayo and sour cream along with a few other ingredients. The artichoke hearts and dressing can also be used as a sandwich topper. Cut the muffin in half, spread the artichoke mixutre onto each half and toast in oven until heated through.

Chopped Artichoke Heart Salad

Chopped Artichoke Heart Salad

As for the bacon and beef sandwich, it was a hit. The blue cheese dressing added some punch. It was a great twist on using up leftover beef tenderloin. Grab the Recipe

On the Fly Pizza Dinner

On the Fly Pizza DinnerIt was one of those crazy, hectic Blimpy Girl days. I had the youngest grand kids overnight while my oldest grandson was taken to U of M hospital for a serious tooth infection. It was a Meal on the Fly night and pizza was the meal of choice.

What I love about homemade pizza is how it can be altered to fit everyone’s taste. This is especially importanat when feeding little people. In general, little people don’t like onions, mushrooms, green peppers and other assorted toppings. No problem-o! Just reserve a portion of the pizza for pepperoni and cheese (I actually added some ham and the kid’s never noticed).

Adding the Pizza Toppings

Dollops of low-fat ricotta cheese enhances the pizza's flavor.

I must admit this pizza was extremely tasty. My daughter walked in the door to drop the younger grandkids and snagged a couple of pieces. “Yuuummm” was the first word she uttered while sinking her teeth into a slice. Then, “This is awesome pizza, mom. Are you making this for my Blimpy Girl lunch tomorrow?” As you may remember, my daughter picks up a Blimpy Girl lunch every morning on her way to work.

Top with low-fat mozarella cheese

There’s no big secret about making a homemade pizza, but I will say that seasoning and low-fat ricotta cheese certainly enhanced the taste. I cut the pizza into 8 generous slices, however, it could easily serve 10. Pair this with a mixed green salad and low-fat dressing and you’ve got a winner. 

One slice (based on 8 slices) is just 175 calories. That’s a pretty generous slice. Compare that to one slice of Jet’s pizza with the same type of ingedients… you would be devouring 319 calories.  Grab the Recipe

The Osage Orange Fall Centerpiece…DONE!

Osage Orange Table Centerpiece

Just finished the Osage Orange Fall Centerpiece. Wowie!! It wasn’t as easy as I thought. Those dog-gone oranges are pretty hefty in weight and getting them to remain upright in the arrangement took some engineering skills. And, let’s not fool anyone, I’m not an engineer. I might be creative but, I’m absolutely certain there was a better way to make this whole arrangement work.

Sadly, the photo shown was taken late tonight. I’ll post a better picture with good lighting tomorrow. I haven’t really calculated pricing, but I’m fairly certain this arrangement was quite pricey for most individuals. The dish alone was $9 and even at 50% off the silk flower, I think I’m around $35. All in all, not too bad since ordering this from a floral store would be double that cost and I had the enjoyment of making it myself.

 I used wooden skewers to secure and seat the Osage Oranges. Take note: DO NOT stab yourself in the palm of the hand while trying to drive the skewer into the orange. NOT GOOD!

I will be curious to see how long the Osage Oranges will last in the arrangement. Hoping it makes it through the Thanksgiving holiday. What shocked me the most in my research of the Osage Orange was these are selling for $2 each on several web sites. Heck, I need to start selling Osage Oranges. And to think I’ve been letting strangers pick them up for free… UMMmmm… gonna have to rethink that!


Won Ton Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Won Ton Pot PieIf you’re looking for a filling meal that fulfills your carb craving, look no more. Blimpy Girl’s Won Ton Chicken Pot Pie is your fix.

Even with the chicken gravy, this meal is only 270 calories for (10) chicken filled won tons. Trust me, it will fill you up fast.

There are plenty of veggies in each won ton wrap and the chicken adds protein while the won ton wraps give you the “I feel full” carb high.

Each little chicken pot pies is only 27-30 calories!

The gravy is made from a paste which keeps the calories low. One word of caution (only because I made this mistake), don’t oversalt. I’m not a big salt person but somehow I managed to over salt this dish. Bad, bad, bad! It was edible and maybe others would have loved the additional salt, but not me. Next batch will be minus the salt and I’ll just wait to salt once the dish is plated.

Other than that, it was an awesome dish. Grab the Recipe

My Osage Orange Trees: Holiday Craft

The milky juice inside an Osage orange.

The juice inside an Osage orange is milky & sticky.

My daughter had a college scholarship to play softball and I owe it all to these Osage oranges. Years ago, Osage orange trees lined the property in front of my home.The property on which my home is situtated was an apple orchard at one time. The Osage trees had been closely planted and left unpruned to keep deer from gaining entrance to the orchard.

If you have never seen an Osage orange tree then you’re in for a surprise. The branches not only bear thorns (kind of like rose bushes) but also inedible fruit. Large yellow/green colored balls that looked like compacted worms drop from the trees in great abundance at summer’s end.

When my daughter lived at home her job was to pick up the Osage oranges from the ground so the lawnmower blades wouldn’t send them flying like bullets across the lawn. She was to put the oranges in the garden tractor trailer and drop them in the wooded area behind our house. I discovered, years later (via my neighbor), she instead opted to pitch the oranges across the road into a wooded lot owned by my neighbor.

It became perfectly clear how she acquired such great softball throwing and pitching skills during high school and college. Most of the trees have since been removed and it wasn’t until their removal did I realized the value of Osage wood. The wood is highly prized by bow makers. In the 19th century, a good Osage bow was worth a horse and a blanket. Heck, in today’s market, I could have auctioned off the entire tree line for a new car.

I left a few trees on the property (just because?) and once again it’s fruit bearing season. I use to let passing strangers pick them up roadside and generally ignored these unsightly lawn ornaments. This year, I’ve decided to make use of these strange looking balls and will be making holiday centerpieces for gifts. Below is a picture I found online that inspired me. I’m fairly certain I can do this.

Osage oranges last a very long time which means I can make these up early enough to last through the holiday season. My next venture is finding inexpensive bowls to use as the base of my arrangement. I do believe a trip to the dollar store may be in the near future. I’ll post once I have completed my first centerpiece. I’m currently formulating a plan.

Osage Orange Holiday Centerpiece

Baby Bok Choy: The Chinese Cabbage… what is it?

Bok Choy: The Chinese CabbageIf you haven’t heard of this Chinese cabbage, don’t feel like you’re alone. But I will say this, you need to know about Bok Choy because it’s good for you and full of plenty of nutrients. Oh, did I fail to mention, low in calories

Think of it as a Chinese chard. It has dark green rounded leaves on a white stalk. Make sure you pick fresh leaves that have no wilting or brown spots.

It can be used raw (as pictured), or cooked and added to stir fry or soup dishes. Today I will be adding to a Blimpy Girl pork fried rice dish. It will be lightly steamed and added as a topping to the fried rice.

Calorie intake is almost non-existent. Heck, one and 1/2 cup is 10 calories. The pork fried rice dish I will be posting about later is shown below. Just enough spice to say, “OH YAH!”. I’ll post the recipe in the next couple of days. Sorry, but it’s been crazy around here this weekend and I’m trying to catch up.

Baby Bok Choy with Spicy Pork Fried Rice

What is a Jicama?

What is a Jicama?

This was a question I posed to my husband last week? I needed a Jicama for a salad recipe I wanted to make for an upcoming dinner party. My husband is in a line of work that affords him opportunity to experience all food types; so, was able to answer. I placed Jicama on my grocery list and decided to learn more about this bulbous looking food. Here is what I discovered:

  • It is actually just that… a bulb and is part of the legume (bean) family.
  • It is primarily grown in Mexico and South America, though different varieties are grown throughout the world.
  • It has a crunchiness somewhat like a water chestnut.
  • Peeling it can be a pain. I learned that first hand as you will see in above picture. I tried to use a vegetable peeler. Not a good idea. The skin in tough and you will need a very sharp knife to peel away the outer skin.
  • It taste something like a cross between an apple and potato.
  • It is most commonly eaten raw though it can be cooked and eaten and prepared like you would potatoes.
  • It pairs well with salads and can be used as an appetizer for dipping. Just cut into strips and dip in a mango salsa. I noted that some suggest cutting and sprinkling with lime juice and chili powder. I even saw a picture where cookie cutters were used to cut out dipping shapes. Now that’s a fun idea.

So how did I end up using this peculiar looking bulb? Below is the tropical black bean salad that I served this weekend for a dinner party. It was a hit and I loved the crunchy texture that the jicama added to the salad. By the way, the “J” is pronounced as “H”… hicama. Grab the Recipe

Tropical Black Bean Salad with Jicama

Summer’s Last Hurrah: Dinner Date on the Deck

Bruschetta with fresh basil.

Nothing like a little pesto sauce on hard crusted bread. It gets even better when you top that off with grated Parmesan cheese, a slice of roasted red pepper and basil. Toast it in the oven and you have one of the tastiest appetizers ever. In fact, I could make a meal out of these. I limit myself to just two as the 120 calories per serving can really take a bite out of Blimpy Girl’s daily calorie allotment.

I’ve enjoyed fresh basil all summer long. Sadly, when I went outside to pick basil leaves for this dish I noted that the leaves were starting to turn brown. The colder nights were taking a toll on my precious plant and it was slowly dying. As I pinched off a few leaves, I knew I was saying good bye to my garden friend and this bruschetta was likely it’s farewell dinner to me.

Dinner on the deck.As I walked into the house the smell of Fall was in the air. It was one of those Indian Summer days, but you knew it was summer’s last hurrah here in Michigan. In that moment, I decided it was a perfect evening for dinner on the deck. I dressed the patio table and plated the food for a dinner date with my honey, the “wine guy”.

And what was for dinner? Leftover eggplant Parmesan with a side of pasta, fresh spinach cooked in olive oil & garlic powder, and the bruschetta pictured above. The sauce for the pasta was leftover from earlier this week when the wine guy cooked up a batch using Roma tomatoes.

And the wine? A 2002 Syrah from Australia. Very good indeed. At $40 a bottle, it better be! Being married to a guy in the wine biz does have its perks.

Fresh spinach in olive cook with turkey bacon bits.

Fresh spinach in olive cook with turkey bacon bits.

Anticipating Halloween- A Themed Dinner for Grand Kids

Themed Grand Kids Dinner: HalloweenHalloween is a big deal around my house, especially for the grand kids. They know that Blimpy Girl (also known as NeeNee) will be in bringing down all the Halloween decorations from the attic.

Yesterday was the big “attic” day. My grand kids are here every Wednesday night for dinner before heading off to Awana club. It’s a weekly ritual. I had two big boxes of Halloween decorations all ready for them to display both inside and outside. I also had a special Halloween table setting for dinner which included Halloween coloring pages. They love to color while the meal is being cooked and it’s a great time for them to share about their day. Grand Kids Decorate for Halloween

I am a firm believer in establishing traditions. It is the cement that often keeps families together. I don’t care if you just have one tradition a year, just make it happen. Throughout my lifetime, there have been changes. It’s inevitable. Life happens and there is an evolution of change we can’t control. However, it’s important you stay on course. Stick to your guns and make that family tradition happen, even if it means rescheduling, adjusting , and tweaking when needed.

Assembling the Bag of Bones Halloween decoration

I have plenty of history under my belt and one thing I know for sure, create an occasion that involves food and people are likely to show up. Of course, my grand kids have no choice at this age. They have to show up because Mommy and Daddy said so. But when you have a creative meal, make it fun, and put just a teencie-weencie bit of creativity into it, you will have people wanting to be part of your “entertaining inner circle (so to speak)”.

Try to do at least one fun food thing this Halloween. I will make it a point to post a couple of creative Halloween foods that are a bit out of the norm to inspire you.