Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers- The Recipe

Lauren hosted a Cinco de Mayo party yesterday and I was in charge of bringing an appetizer. I wanted something delicious and different than guacamole, salsa or 7-layer dip. I also wanted to keep the cost down as much as possible because I just paid rent! When I stumbled upon this recipe, I knew I had to try it. The thing that caught my eye immediately was there are only 3 ingredients! I only changed a few things so here’s how I did it:

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

10 medium fresh jalapeno peppers

4 ounces light cream cheese, softened (original recipe calls for full-fat cream cheese)

10 bacon strips, halved

Directions

Cut peppers in half lengthwise

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Remove seeds, stems and center membrane

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Stuff each half with about 2 teaspoons of cream cheese

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Wrap with bacon and secure with toothpick

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Place on a broiler rack that has been coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until bacon is crisp (I put them under the broiler for an additional 2 minutes to get the bacon extra crispy). Remove toothpicks. Serve immediately. 

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Yields 20 appetizers

WW Points: 1 point per popper (whole recipe is 22 points)

Recipe: Watermelon Gazpacho

I posted this picture yesterday and promised a recipe. This is more of a recommendation that you should take with a grain of salt. Feel free to experiment with the flavors and make it your own! My mom and I had this at Europa in Richmond, Virginia a few years ago when she was visiting me at college. This great tapas spot became a favorite of mine of the years and this gazpacho was a highlight. My mom asked the chef for the recipe. He said he didn’t have a recipe, per se, because he kind of winged it but he was able to give us a list of ingredients. From their, my mom has tweeked it as needed and here’s what she has come up with! I might try roasting the poblanos down the road but there is something to be said about the fresh, raw flavors these ingredients add the dish.

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Watermelon Gazpacho

1 Sugar Baby Watermelon

1/2 English Cucumber

1/2  Poblano Pepper

1/2 cup of Cilantro

1 lime (about 2 tbsp)

Salt to taste (about 1/2 tbsp)

Instructions

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Cut the watermelon in half and scoop the watermelon “meat” from one half and put it in your food processor. Pulse until you have a smooth puree/juice. Put aside in a bowl or pitcher.

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Cut up the rest of the watermelon and put it in the food processor. Add cilantro (no need to chop).

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Peel cucumber and cut lengthwise. Using a small spoon, scrap the seeds out of the center of the cucumber. Chop roughly and add to the food processor. Cut the top off of the poblano, scrap out the seeds and remove the membrane (this helps remove some heat). Chop the poblano roughly and add to the food processor.

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Add fresh lime juice and pulse until it looks like the picture above.

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In a large bowl, combine the reserved watermelon puree/juice and the mixture of watermelon, cilantro, cucumber, poblano pepper and lime juice. Season with salt to taste. Start with a small amount and taste of each addition of salt until you are happy with the flavor.

The gazpacho should be served chilled. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. Leaving it over night is best- it will be thoroughly chilled and it will give the flavors a chance to meld together. Serve as an appetizer or entree by adding some croutons!

WW Points: 0 points

Tessemae’s All Natural Salad Dressings

I’m not sure about everyone else but I have an odd aversion to making salads at home. They just never taste as good as one I can get at a bodega, deli or restaurant. There are two problems with those options: I have no idea where the lettuce, veggies and meat came from and a simple salad always ends up costing at least $8. I always try to get over this and buy salad fixings but they never taste right or I’ll have one salad and the rest of the food goes bad.

One solution was to start making my own salad dressings. Salad dressing is so easy to make but I always end up making some sort of vinaigrette with oil, balsamic and dijon mustard and then I can never decide what to put on the salad. The issue here is that it makes about a half cup of dressing which I store in left over mason jars but I always forget about it in the back of my fridge. The dressing will separate and then it is really annoying to clean out the mason jar. Basically, its a mess I like to avoid unless I am making a huge salad for a ton of friends.

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So when I stumbled upon this product at Whole Foods, I decided to give it a try. I am really picky when it comes to salad dressings because, if it is like most store-bought dressings, most of the ingredients are artificial and I can taste that. This dressing caught my eye because it was separated (fat solids were separated from the rest of the dressing) which means there is no artificial ingredient holding it all together (much like hydrogenated fat in peanut butter). I also noticed that the ingredient list was short and sweet: olive oil, organic lemons, organic garlic, mustard and sea salt. I also loved that it is advertised as a salad dressing, marinade and dip and it was only $5.49!

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I grabbed the Lemonette dressing and I have loved it! For some reason, I keep grabbing for it in my fridge (I have actually surprised myself that it hasn’t just sat in the back the way most of my homemade dressings do). First, I was using it more for a marinade for chicken or fish but then I threw it on a salad I made with marinated olives, feta and cherry tomatoes and it completely transformed the salad. Just make sure you take it out of the fridge about 10 minutes before you need to use it and shake it well once it’s room temp! I can’t wait to go back to Whole Foods and trying some of the other flavors!

Weight Watchers Asian-Inspired Vegetable Soup

Anyone who has done WW has probably tried their 1 point vegetable soup. I remember my mom making it when we decided to do WW together when I was in the 8th grade. It was the perfect afternoon snack to get me through until dinner- chalk full of veggies (fiber) and it didn’t break the (WW point) bank. That was about 12 years ago and WW has changed. The program is no longer using calories as part of the point calculation (anyone else remember those point sliders where you had to match the calories with the fiber and fat?) and now almost all fruits and veggies are ZERO POINTS!

Since joining WW in July, I have seen a lot of changes on their website including some revamping of old WW favorites. I stumbled upon this Asian-inspired veggie soup and knew I had to try it. I lived in Southeast Asia for 5 months in college and I fell in love with the way the Vietnamese used veggies for extra texture and flavor so I knew this soup would be delicious! I was hesitant to make it at first because some of the vegetables in the recipe can be hard to find and I didn’t want to travel all over NYC or all the way down to Chinatown to find everything. Also, the whole “fresh herbs” debacle- is it really worth buying the fresh herbs when you only use 1/2 cup?

So I used my Fresh Direct account and everything was delivered the next day. Using this method might not have been the cheapest way to find everything but it was so convenient that I didn’t care that I spent about $35 on everything. For a $6 delivery, it was SO worth it. The soup is not labor intensive and it cooks up so quickly so, once it was finished, I simply put two cup portions of the finished soup into tupperware and threw it all in the freezer. It has been feeding me since mid-February! The only change I made to the recipe was adding in about 2 extra cups of Napa cabbage (Fresh Direct sent me a 4-lb cabbage…) and 1-2 tbsp of Sriracha for some extra heat! This recipe is so worth it! It has saved me on those days where I know it will be hard to stay on track. I just grab a tupperware from the freezer, throw it in my bag and have it for lunch while I’m babysitting or at the restaurant before family meal (helps fill me up so I eat less of the food made by the kitchen at work- I swear they add at least a cup of butter to anything they make!!)

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Asian-Inspired Vegetable Soup

2 cup(s) uncooked bok choy, chopped

2 cup(s) uncooked Chinese cabbage, chopped

3 clove(s) (medium) garlic clove(s), minced

1/4 cup(s) ginger root, thinly sliced and julienned

4 small uncooked oyster mushroom(s), chopped

2 cup(s) uncooked scallion(s), chopped

1 cup(s) canned water chestnut(s), sliced (8 oz can)

1/2 cup(s) sweet red pepper(s), thinly sliced

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

6 cup(s) vegetable broth

2 cup(s) snow peas, stringed

2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce

1/2 cup(s) cilantro, finely chopped

Instructions

Put bok choy, Chinese cabbage, garlic, ginger root, mushrooms, scallions, water chestnuts, red pepper, red pepper flakes and broth into a large soup pot; stir to combine. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partly covered, for about 10 minutes. Toss in snow peas during the last 3 to 4 minutes of simmering.

Stir in soy sauce and cilantro (and Sriracha, if you’re using it). Yields about 1 cup per serving.

WW Points: 1 point per cup