Friday, March 29, 2013

Mom's Chicken Salad

My mom makes FANTASTIC chicken salad.  Light, refreshing, sweet, yet savory.  It is so delicious, especially on top of a buttery, flaky croissant.  However, it is not so WW friendly, so she suggested, "hey, I'm making chicken salad, want me to separate out ingredients so that you can create your own?" SURE! Thanks Mom!!

Kyle and I arrived up in PA today, to find of course, my mothers wonderful chicken salad, and another bowl of ingredients minus the mayo for me to play around with. 

I am not claiming that this chicken salad is as delicious as hers, but it is a weight watchers friendly alternative!!

What you need:
-2 cups cooked & shredded  OR roughly chopped Chicken
-3/4 cup chopped celery
-3/4 cup fresh grapes (cut in half)
-1/2 cup rough chopped walnuts

-2 tbsp reduced fat mayo
-3 tbsp fat free sour cream
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp black pepper
-1/2 tbsp lemon juice

How to:
Combine ALL ingredients in a medium size bowl.  That's it!

WW Friends: This recipe yields 8 servings - each serving being 1/2 cup at 4 points plus points. (woo hoo!). 
Momma loves to serve this on croissants (buttery flaky goodness) so I split one in half.  1/2 a croissant yields 3 points - so there is a 7 point lunch! Yummies! Light & DE-LISH!

Thanks Mom!! =)
Enjoy - Jack

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Au Gratin Potatoes

There is nothing I love better as a side than cheese & cream & potatoes.  I've found several phenomenal recipes for au gratin potatoes and perfected them (since Kyle always requests them) but I unfortunately thought those days were over once WW started, seeing as they are loaded up with heavy cream, and heavy cream, and heavy cream... oh and cheese too. HOWEVER thank you WW for providing a substitute AND a delicious one at that!

Here is my adaptation of the WW au gratin potatoes!

What you need:
-2 lbs Florida Butter potatoes
-1 tbsp butter (salted)
-Onion Powder (1 tbsp)
-2 tbsp all purpose flour
-2 cups fat free skim milk
-1 cup low fat shredded cheddar cheese
-1/4 cup low fat shredded swiss cheese
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp black pepper

How to:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Coat a 2 qt oven safe baking dish with cooking spray.

Meanwhile, wash & cut potatoes into thin slices.

In a large saucepan, heat butter & onion powder.  Stir in flour and slowly add the milk and whisk together.  Add the potatoes and stir.  Let simmer for approx 5 minutes.  Stir in 3/4 cup of cheddar cheese & all swiss cheese.

Pour the mixture in the baking dish.  Bake uncovered for approx. 45 minutes in the middle of the oven.  Cover, and bake for another 15 minutes.  Uncover & add remaining cheese to the top.  Broil for approx. 5 minutes (or until melted & browning).

Cut into 8 servings.
WW Friends: This beautiful creation is yields 4 points plus per 1 serving.  They are SO YUMMY and SO SATISFYING.  This is one of my favorite WW sides so far! 


Monday, March 25, 2013

On-a-budget Easter Bark!

DE LISH Easter Bark!
By the time Easter rolls around every year, between Christmas and birthdays I feel like I am all out of any sort of money to purchase things for the ones I love.  Easter, luckily, is not all about gifts and presents - for us Coupe's? It's about being with family and celebrating Easter's true meaning.  However, it can still be fun to play Easter bunny and provide loved ones with a sweet snack!

Last year, I found a great recipe for Easter Bark, and this year I created my own!  I stuck to the same recipe for everyone last year, and this year I thought, why can't I break out and just make everybody bark with their favorite candy in it?

Overall, between baggies, ribbon & bark ingredients we skimmed $25, for about 6 people.. I'll take it!

Below is my recipe for the DE-LISH and not-so-healthy (I refuse to put it in weight watchers, and give it away so I won't eat it) Custom Easter Bunny Bark!

What you need:
(this recipe yields 1 serving of Easter Bark for approx. 2 people)
-mini stick pretzels
-12 oz bag white chocolate morsels
-12.6 oz bag M&Ms
These ingredients depend on what kind of bark you want to make!
I used:
-Mounds & coconut M&Ms vs regular M&Ms (for one serving)
-Peppermint Paddys (for one serving)
-Reeses Peanut Butter Eggs (for one serving)
-Rollos (for one serving)

How to:
Use a large cookie sheet and cover with Wax paper.

Use approx 1 cup of broken up stick pretzels & spread out on half of the baking sheet.  Then pick your favorite candy, let's start with Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs.  Break up the candy and spread over the pretzels.  Next add some M&M's scattered around.
1 side with pretzels - right side with pretzels & candy
The Mounds bark with pretzels, mound candy & coconut M&Ms 
Rollo Bark in the Process - I tried to pull the pieces apart
so that the caramel was stretched over a larger area
In a microwave safe dish, heat 1 cup of white chocolate, covered with saran (be sure to leave a small hole to vent).  I start with 1:40 on power 6.  Stir, and put in for 45 seconds at power 7, stirring halfway.  Put in for another 25 seconds at 7 (if it is still chunky). BE CAREFUL NOT TO BURN, or the chocolate will get harder and chunky (gross, trust me).

Pour the white chocolate overtop of the candy & pretzels.  Carefully spread with a spatula to make sure all areas are covered.  Sprinkle with M&Ms to finish off.  Refrigerate for approx 1 hour.  Once it is set and hardened, break into pieces (I prefer just breaking with my hands to make uneven pieces).
Freshly poured hot white chocolate with M&Ms on top 
Kyle helping decorate with M&Ms
Broken up pieces
Wrap up in cute baggies, and voila! You're finished!

For the other candy, just replace where I added the Reese's.  When I made the "mounds" bark, I used coconut M&Ms instead of regular M&Ms.

Now we have four delicious barks for six lovely people!

Happy Easter!!
enjoy - Jack =)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Rhythmic Easter Eggs

Yet another Kyle inspired great idea!  In light of the Easter season, well, more so the Easter week, seeing as it's so EARLY this year, I love to do a good Easter Egg hunt!  One of my co teachers did just an Easter Egg hunt last year, which is brilliant, and Kyle tried an Easter Egg hunt in addition to the musical symbols identification on the Easter Eggs.  Here is my take on those two fun activities for kiddos!

The Activity: (my interpretation with 1st Grade)
Start the class with an Easter Egg hunt.  If you do not have time in between classes, maybe let the class before help you hide the Easter Eggs.  Learn the song "Hunting Easter Eggs" from Music K8 and let the students sing along.  Next, let them sing the song while they hunt around the room for the Eggs.  Once they have found 1 they can return to their seat to wait for the rest of their classmates.  Next, talk about the rhythm symbols on their eggs.  Review quarter note, eighth notes & quarter rest.  Now let the students split their Easter Eggs in half.  Let them keep one half, and drop the other half in a basket or bag.  Let half the class close their eyes, and the other half hide one half of the eggs.  The "hunters" have to find the matching note or note name to their Easter Egg. When they have, they may return to their seat.  Now switch roles, students that hid the eggs now close their eyes & vice versa.

Kids LOVE hunting for eggs - it's a classic activity that will get them excited every time.

I used 30 plastic Easter Eggs.  Draw either a note on one half of the egg, and the note name on the other half of the egg.  Make sure you have enough for the kiddos in your class, and a variety of quarter note, quarter rest and eighth notes.  If you are using this activity for 2nd grade as well, you obviously can incorporate half note as well or even music symbols such as treble clef, staff, barline etc.

WW Linguini in White Wine Clam Sauce

Mmmm clams, clams, wonderful clams.

I feel like this weekend I have gotten out of my lovely habits that I have so religiously set for myself, so I told Kyle we NEEDED to make a WW recipe tonight.  He requested pasta since he is running a 10 mile race tomorrow (okay, you can have what you want... you'll be running far tomorrow).  So after weighing our options, with a slammin' looking bolognese sauce (thank you WW website), we settled on a Linguine in a White Wine Clam Sauce.. can we say YUMMO!?

After making this recipe tonight and making just a few MINOR tweaks, Kyle said, and I quote "This is like, Restaurant style cooking.. I feel like I could get this at Olive's in town". SCORE.

Linguini in White Wine Clam Sauce

What you need:
-1 lb linguini
-1 tbsp olive oil
-3 cloves garlic finely chopped
-1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
-2 tbsp dried basil (it called for fresh, but I only had the dried)
-1/4 cup fresh parsley finely chopped (or you could use 2 tbsp dried)
-1/2 cup white wine
-approx. 20 oz canned Clams, drain, reserve liquid
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp black pepper

*save 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water if you want to add to your sauce to thicken
How to:
Cook linguini according to box.

In large skillet, heat olive oil, garlic & red pepper flakes over medium heat.  Let it simmer for approx 60 seconds (do not let garlic brown).  Add basil & parsley and let simmer for another 60 seconds.  Add the white wine and clam liquid.  Bring to a simmer for approx. 5 minutes.  Stirring occasionally.

Add the Clams, salt and pepper to the sauce.  Keep on Medium-Low heat until the pasta is ready. Strain the linguine then add the sauce and mix well.  Let sit on low heat for approx 5 minutes.  Serve and Enjoy!

*I added more clams, more clam liquid and more white wine - it just yielded more sauce for the pasta overall since Kyle LOVES to have his pasta doused in sauce.

WW Friends: 1 1/3 Cups is 1 serving - it yields 10 WW points plus per serving.

Enjoy!! - Jack =)

PS WW Friends!  I LOVE the popcorn brand "Popcorn Indiana" (they make AMAZING Kettle Corn), and I saw this Sea Salt natural Popcorn in Giant today.  Brought it home and scanned it, and it yielded 4 WW points plus per 3 cup serving!  YUM can we say new snack?!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Coolest Family Ever

I just want to throw out there that I have the best family EVER in the world.  We're huge, and loud but so much fun.  We have great family get togethers, and we are always there for each other.

This past weekend, we celebrated Colonel Robert Coupe aka my awesome Uncle Rob, in his retirement from Colonel of the DSP.  Aside from the fact that this was a great event, and a huge party at that, we also got to enjoy some of the DSP Pipes & Drums that my Uncle Rob started in light of St. Patty's Day! Perfection.
My family reminds me every day how important family is, and that I am so lucky to have these people in my life forever.
Uncle Rob in his Finest

conquering life's milestones together 1 year at a time 
Raise a glass? nah, raise the Center Pieces with LED lights for "We Are Young" epic. 
Uncle  Rob & Ty breaking it down
Mom and dad goofing off with CenterPiece accessories
He's just the best

Homemade Marinara

What a rainy disgusting day... but really, what a rainy disgusting day.  If it's going to rain and sleet and randomly snow, you should at least get a delay right? Thanks weather, you're awful.

On that note - IT'S TIME FOR WARM COZY FOOD!  Meaning my homemade red wine marinara sauce (to accompany my chickey/turken balls of course).  I've been making this sauce since the fall, but I keep on making adjustments and modifications, and I think I have finally found the almost perfect marinara for us!

What you need:
-1 tbsp Olive Oil
-3 cloves fresh Garlic
-1 tbsp Onion Powder
-3 oz Red Wine (try to keep it dry vs. sweet - I used Cupcake Red Velvet because that's what I have open!)
-26 oz can Crushed Tomatoes in Italian Seasonings
-8 oz can Tomato Sauce
-2 tbsp Tomato Paste
-1 tbsp Basil
-1 tsp Parsley
-1 tsp Oregano
-1 tsp Sea Salt (or to taste)
-1 tsp Black Pepper (or to taste)
-1 tbsp Locatelli Parmesan Romano Cheese

How to:
In a medium/large skillet with walls & a lid, heat olive oil & chopped garlic over medium heat.  Once it simmers, add onion powder, stir and simmer for approx. 1 min.  Add the wine and mix well.

Add the tomato paste and whisk ingredients (be patient with the paste).  Simmer approx 1 minute.  Turn the heat down to medium low.  Add the tomato sauce and let sit for approx. 2 minutes (should still be simmering).
Add the crushed tomatoes and seasonings.  Mix ingredients well.  Now is the time to add any meatballs or sausage that you have so that the flavors can mingle (I added my Chickey Balls to the sauce).  Let simmer on medium low for about 10 more minutes.

When you are almost ready to serve, add the Locatelli cheese and mix well.

Serve over pasta and enjoy!

Yields approx. 8 servings.

I served mine over Barilla Veggie Pasta.  It was SO GOOD.  We were iffy because it was an orange-ish color, and was a combination of veggies, however it had a nice flavor to it, and Kyle said he even liked it better than the Whole Grain/Wheat Pasta.  Plus, it offers 1 serving of Veggies!

WW Friends: I estimated a serving to be approx 1/2 cup of sauce which yields 2 Points Plus points. (YAY! - way less than jarred pasta)
Also - in case you are interested - the Chickey balls are 2 points a piece, and the Barilla pasta worked out to 5 points for 1/6 of the pasta (i guesstimated how much I had)

Enjoy! - Jack

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Recorder Karate Belt Storage

Once again, Kyle has a bright idea.  I just keep my belts in some old tubs I used to use last year for something different, but hey it works.  Kyle had the genius idea to recycle all of his Gatorade containers and mason jars that we use during the week and turn them into Recorder Karate Belt storage!  A simple and easy way to keep track of belts, keep them organized, and not have them strewn all over your classroom floor.

He labeled the containers ahead of time by color.  He also took a lot of time on a weekend to cut the string ahead of time so that he can just reach in and grab a belt when the student is done testing.
all of the containers - the mason jars labeled, just have yet to be filled.
the great thing about gatorade containers is that you can also put a lid on the container
if you need to transpor them anywhere.

Enjoy! - Jack