Monday, August 28, 2017

Eat Your Heart Out, Mickey D's: Southwest Dressing

I use this blog as a place to store recipes, so here's a keeper.

I have been obsessed with McDonald's Southwest Salads with grilled chicken for quite some time. Though I work in a tourist area, there are few drive through places around here, but there is a McDonald's that I can get to, get my lunch, and still have enough time to eat it when I get back to work. And the Southwest Salads are pretty good, and fairly healthy. Because alas and alack, the dressing is pretty fatty.

I researched (I AM the Library Lady, after all) and found that the Newman's Own Southwest dressing is only available at McD's.  You can buy just about any other Newman's dressing in your supermarket, but for some reason, only the golden arches has this particular flavor.

So I researched some more, because there are lots of "copycat" sites. And sure enough, I found a version on a site called "Joe's Healthy Meals."

You can find the original recipe by Joe here.  But wanting to make this healthier, I tinkered with it a little. Sour cream? Nah, Greek yogurt. Light mayo too.  I also omitted the onion and garlic powders <I shudder to remember I used to use them> and the cayenne, because I find the chili seasoning makes this spicy enough. And no--yuck!--cilantro!

It took me about 5 minutes to throw a batch of this together. I had some grilled chicken breast to hand, tomatoes from my garden, some crushed tortilla chips, and a bag of salad greens. I also had 1/2 an ear of cooked sweet corn, and I cut it off the cob and threw it in. No black beans, maybe next time.

Anyway, it's delicious and flavorful and reasonably healthy. And a few minutes at home saved me a drive to McD's, and probably cost less too!

Lighter Southwest Dressing
2    Tbs  light mayo
1    Tbs plain non-fat Greek yogurt
2    tsp  honey
1/2 tsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp    chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp cumin

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Add 1 tsp water if needed.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Carrot Cake Frosting

It has become a tradition of mine to make carrot cake for the library staff on Halloween. After all, it's got all those orange carrots in it, and we can have pumpkin stuff in November too as part of Thanksgiving.

I've tried and liked several of the carrot cake recipes at the Baking Bites website. There's a one bowl carrot cake I made for home, lightening it for SC by replacing the fat with applesauce. I like the spicing on it, with the orange and orange zest added too, but I think it needed more carrots. And I decided that my go to recipe from there, the low fat carrot cake I bake in a 9x13 pan needed jazzing up, so it got a little nutmeg and allspice added to the usual cinnamon.

In both cases I use bagged matchstick cut carrots and chop them up well in my mini food processor.

The frosting recipe came from the Skinnytaste website, long before she started doing her cookbooks. I have mixed feelings about her stuff--I often find that they sound a lot better than they taste, and that I have to tweak them for best results. But this simple cream cheese frosting is tasty, and making it with reduced fat cream cheese (often called neufchatel) is just fine.

I throw myself on the mercy of the foodies, and admit that I frosted the cake for work today with the canned stuff. This is mainly because the cake sits out for hours, and the true cream cheese frosting melts quickly, and the Halloween sprinkles I add for fun melt along with it.  But for the home cake, I made the real thing. It took less than 5 minutes with a hand mixer.

And it tastes far, far, better!

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese  (reduced fat is fine)
1 cup confectioner's sugar 
1 tsp vanilla 

Beat the sugar and cream cheese together until creamy. Beat in the vanilla.

That's it!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Gingery Low Fat Goodness: Pepparkakor Cookies

When I last posted here, back in the fall of 2014, my daughter SC had just had a horrific gall bladder attack. She had to have surgery, but had to wait about 6 weeks until it could be scheduled, and for those 6 weeks she had to be on a drastically low fat diet.

It was a challenging time, especially since it was during the holidays, but we got through it. She had the surgery and recovered well. But having her gall bladder removed has meant that she has fat tolerance issues. Too much of a good thing, and well, it sends her running for the nearest bathroom.

She manages it nicely for the most part, and one more reason I am glad that she is living at home during college is that she avoids all the perils of bad dormitory food. And since she is at home, I like being able to make things that are delicious but low fat.

I discovered these cookies in that same fall of 2014. I was hoping to find a recipe for hermit cookies akin to the version Freihoffer's Bakeries in the Albany, NY area used to make. They were a favorite of mine in college.

I didn't find those, but I did find the recipe that follows, and I was thrilled to discover that despite the butter and eggs in the recipe, they are low fat!  That's because this recipe makes so many cookies, so you get only a tiny amount of fat in each. And unlike most recipes, not only does this recipe really make as many cookies as it says it does, I've made more. This week's baking yielded 6 dozen.

I recognized the name of these cookies from one of my favorite books: Pippi Longstocking:
"Pippi was baking pepperkakor, that's a kind of Swedish cookie."

Pippi rolls out and cuts her cookie dough into hearts, and apparently that's the traditional Swedish method, but several people reviewing this recipe said that these are even better. They are spicy but not overwhelmingly so, and if you put them in a closed container stay chewy but soft. 

They mix quickly in a stand mixer, and shaping them doesn't take much time once you know how.
And if you don't want to use the dough all at once, it can be refrigerated easily for several days. Or roll it into individual balls and freeze them for later baking.

Pepperkakor  (Swedish ginger and spice cookies)
Originally found HERE at

3/4 cup  butter, softened
2  cups sugar
1/2 cup molasses
4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbs ground ginger
2 tsp   baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Sugar (about 1/2 cup) for coating the cookies

Beat butter and 2 cups sugar in a mixer (or by hand) until creamed.
Beat in the eggs and molasses.

Combine the other ingredients in a separate bowl and add a little at a time to the liquids, beating continuously.

Roll the dough into teaspoon sized balls. Or use a cookie scoop/mini meatball maker to make small balls, split them in half, and roll each half into a small ball.

Put the 1/2 cup of sugar into a small bowl. Roll the cookies in the sugar and place them on
greased or parchment covered baking sheets.

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. When they are done, the cookies will have nice color and puff up,but still be pretty soft to the touch.

Let them cool on the sheet for a minute or two, then flip them over onto their backs.
Let them cool a bit more, then flip them back over and put them on a plate or in a container.
(They will shrink back down and may even have a few wrinkles. That's how they're supposed to look!)

If you want them to stay soft, store them in a closed container.
This will yield 5-6 dozen cookies.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Another Way to Eat All That Salmon

Last Sunday I cooked a 2 lb salmon fillet on my grill. It was marinated in Rosie's bourbon marinade, only I used rum because that's what we had on hand. And I cooked it on a cedar plank. Salmon heaven.

Only the Man went out on a bike trip that day, came home late, and didn't eat it. He didn't end up eating it over the next few days, and he's away this weekend. The girls don't really like salmon, and SC is away as well anyway,

So I've been eating some of the best salmon I've ever made, all by myself, and loving it. And the other night I remembered that long ago, pre-kids, I used to make a sort of pickled salmon, baked in a vinaigrette thing--a Jane Brody recipe. And that it had a simple yogurt sauce.

The original recipe calls for yogurt mixed with a little mustard, but I simple topped bow tie (farfelle) pasta with some plain yogurt, tossed it with salmon chunks, and sprinkled on a little dill. And it's lovely and creamy and healthy.

In fact, I'm having some for lunch right now and loving it.
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