Monday, February 25, 2013

Snack Edition: 2-Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins

Hi everyone, welcome back to another SNACK edition of Mama Feta's Meals (Yay!).  This one I found many different variations on all over Pinterest, so I thought I'd try it out.  It's SUPER easy and low calorie, as well as only uses TWO ingredients!  I know, right??  Talk about easy-peasy!
So there isn't exactly much to discuss with this recipe, since it's so easy, so I'll get right to it!
All you need to do is empty a box of carrot cake mix into a bowl, along with a can of pumpkin and mix.  It can't be THAT easy, you're saying, but it is.  Once you have it mixed well, scoop into a muffin tin (I used both muffin cups and just the muffin tin sprayed with cooking spray because I ran out of muffin cups!) and put into a preheated oven (350 degrees) for about 20 minutes!  Now, for some reason, all of the recipes I perused stated to use "a can of pumpkin" and never actually specified which ounce can to use.  The photos made me think it was the larger one (the 20 ounce-r) so that's the one I used.  If you try the 15 ounce-r and it works better for you, maybe that's the one they intended, but I did really like it how I made it!  :)
The very best part (besides the best part of only having to use two ingredients) is that each muffin was only 80 calories and YUM-MY!  Also (are you ready for this??), with this recipe making 2 yummy muffins, the cost was only $0.11/muffin.  YES I'M SERIOUS!  These are very easy, light, low calorie, yummy snacks you can make for anything (breakfast, lunch, desserts, parties) and it's SO simple.  I really loved this and was able to make it after dinner on a weeknight.  I know, right?!?  All of my boys really love this one and it has spurred me on to try different mixtures to see what I get so stay tuned!  :)
Here's the 'recipe' again, and remember, try your own variation, or different size cans of pumpkin, and let me know how it goes!!

1 box carrot cake mix (I used the Betty Crocker Super Moist Carrot 15.25 oz mix)
1 can (again, I used the 29 oz can, but I don't remember the brand.  It wasn't Libby's, although I'm sure that one will work just as well.  I will find out and get back to you because it was really good!)

Happy snacking everyone!!!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Spicy Chinese Chicken Tacos

Hello friends!  So this recipe came from a couple of different sources that I spliced together.  The meal itself was originally from Pillsbury AND I baked my own taco shells, which I got from Eating Well.  I know this picture isn't the best but just DEAL with it.  :)  I'm kidding, I'm not entirely sure why these didn't photograph well but they were WAY delicious, I promise!
I made this meal on the weekend when I had more free time to actually make the shells.  I think if it was a weekday with work and school I'd probably use the store bought kind, or even bake the shells ahead, but you can choose to do what you like!
So the FIRST thing I did was make my taco shells.  This was actually kind of fun (clearly my idea of fun doesn't require much, right??).
Preheating the oven is a must, so I did that (yay me!) at 375 degrees and went about finishing the taco shell prep.  I got a dish towel and dampened it and then, with 6 white corn tortillas at a time, folded them into the towel and put them in the microwave for 30 seconds.  This is to steam it so it won't crack when you try to shape them (seriously, what is it about corn tortillas that they always crack?  Fight the sadness, Artex!).  ANYWAY, once those were steamed, I sprayed each of them individually (both sides) with cooking spray.  Then I draped each of the tortillas over two bars of my oven rack and cooked them all for 10 minutes (the recipe said 7-10 but I found the tortillas seemed a bit soft still with being cooked any other time besides 10 minutes).  If you like your taco shells super crispy, try cooking it a bit longer and let me know how it goes!
Once those were done, I set them aside on a plate and went to cooking the rest of the meal.  I took 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut them into thin strips and set those aside (wash hands before and after!!).  I grated 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger, minced 1 clove of garlic, sliced one green onion and chopped 1 1/2 cups of lettuce and set THOSE aside.  Then sprayed a skillet with cooking spray and heat it over medium-high heat.  Once heated, I added the sliced chicken, the fresh ginger and the garlic and let it cook for about 5 minutes, until everything was lightly browned,  Once that was done, I reduced the heat to low, added 2 tablespoons of soy sauce (my favorite brand is Aloha Shoyu because it's what I grew up on and tastes WAY less salty than all the other brands), 1 tablespoon of honey, the green onions and 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes.  I stirred and covered it and let it cook another 5 minutes.  Once that was all yummy and cooked, I put about 1/4 cup of the mixture into each taco shell and topped it with the lettuce and voila!!  Dinner was served!
The meal was only 180 calories/serving (a serving was TWO tacos!!) AND only $0.98/serving!!!  Seriously!  I'm pretty sure it had to do with buying the tortillas and making my taco shells, so if you have time to do that, I highly recommend it.
Here's the recipe!!

12 corn tortillas
cooking spray
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 large green onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups shredded lettuce

Happy cooking everyone!!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pizza Joes

Hello again!  Oh yeah, it's a Valentine's EXTRAVAGANZA!!!!  This was the meal I made the night before Valentine's day and wanted to make it a little festive, so I used my silicone cupcake liners as ketchup holders, as you can see!  Nifty, huh?
So this recipe I originally found on Betty Crocker and changed just a bit for our family!!  It stated it was for 8 servings but I cut the recipe in half to only do four, as there are only four of us!  :)
So first thing's first: I coarsely chopped 1/2 cup of onion as well as 1/2 of a green bell pepper and set that aside while I heat a skillet over medium-high heat.  Then I cooked 1/2 pound of extra-lean ground beef, along with the onion and bell pepper, about 7-9 minutes.
In the original recipe, it called for pizza sauce but, for me, to save money I just always use pasta sauce.  It's tastes the same, for me anyway, and is WAY cheaper.  So here I added in 1 cup of pasta sauce (the recipe also did NOT notate to drain the beef, so I didn't.  There wasn't much to drain anyway), reduced the heat to medium and let the mixture simmer for about 5 minutes, uncovered.  While that was heating through, I toasted 4 hamburger buns and then put the meat mixture on each bun, splitting 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese (Veggie Shreds for our youngest!) to top each sandwich and voila!!  Dinner was served!  Each sandwich was only 290 calories/sandwich so, as you can see, I also did a side of fries (the fries were 120 calories/serving, so total the meal was STILL under my 500 calorie limit!).  Minus the fries, it was also only $1.16/serving, $1.54 if you decided you wanted to add the fries!  I know, right?!  This is why I LOVE Winco!!
Here's the full serving recipe!

1 pound extra-lean (at least 90%) ground beef
1 large onion, coarsely chopped (1 cup)
1 medium green bell pepper, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cups pizza sauce
8 hamburger buns, split, toasted
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)

Happy cooking everyone!!

Valentine's Day Breakfast Edition: Strawberry-Chocolate Cheerios Parfaits

So listen, I know this blog is going to be SUPER EASY, but I wanted to post it because the kids really loved it and it's a fun thing to do for yourself, the kids, ANYONE really on Valentine's day or for a quick, yet low calorie, breakfast!
With that being said and out of the way, hello and welcome back to the very first BREAKFAST edition of Mama Feta's Meals!  I got this quick and yummy breakfast from the Pillsbury site.  It originally stated it makes 4 servings, however, I split the four servings into two different days, so this one is based on the two servings.
Now I have to admit, breakfast is the meal I hate dealing with the most because I'm still asleep and trying to get ready, trying to make sure our boys get ready, trying to get their lunches going, making sure they get their chores done and that everyone has everything before we head out to take them to school's just not my favorite!  Weekends are another story, but trying to get some kind of decent breakfast during the week?  It's not as frequent as I'd like, for certain, however, I've definitely started to work on that and this is simple enough for anyone to do.  Even the kids themselves could make these!
So first thing's first: I sliced 1 cup of fresh strawberries (this I actually did the night before and put it in Tupperware, just to prep even further so everything could still be done.within the small amount of time we all have in the morning!
Then the rest was really simple.  I didn't actually have parfait glasses so I just used what I had and layered half of the strawberries (between two cups it was actually 1/4 cup each), then half of a container of Yoplait Strawberry Yogurt (lactose free for our youngest!), and then 1/4 cup of the Chocolate Cheerios.  Then ONCE MORE WITH FEELING!  :)  Voila!  Breakfast was DONE.  So easy, so simple, but our boys absolutely LOVED it and the best part?  Only 190 calories and $1.37/serving!  Yup!!
Here's the recipe!!

1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
2 containers (6 ounces each) Yoplait Light Fat Free strawberry yogurt (one was lactose free for us!)
1 cup Chocolate Cheerios cereal

Happy layering breakfast peeps!  :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Crunchy Taco Burritos

Hi!  How's everyone this fine evening?  The weather?  I feel like Punxsutawney Phil lied to all of us, as one of my good friend's young son told her the other day when we continued to have cold weather.  Love my dose of Ty-ism's!  :)
So this meal I made in an enormous rush one night as my husband had taken himself and our boys to get some haircuts at our friends' house.  I actually ended up having a dead battery after work and my husband had to rush over right quick to give me a jump so even I was late coming home!  Luckily, rushing through this it still managed to be delicious, but I will definitely like to spend the time needed next time.  :)
So this recipe I originally got this recipe from Pillsbury (my new favorite place for looking up recipes!) and, as usual, changed it to suit my family!
First thing's first: I browned 1 pound of extra lean ground beef (I KNOW, did you guys notice we've started actually using ground beef??  I mean, it's still the extra-lean kind, but we're shying away from ground turkey a bit.  With my husband and I working out fairly consistently now, he especially requires a ton of protein!) over medium-high heat and then drained the little bit there was in there that needed to be drained.  Once I had done that, I added 1 cup (each) of water and milk (soy milk for the little guy!), as well as the sauce packet from a box of Crunchy Taco flavored Hamburger Helper, mixed and then heat that until it was boiling.  Once that started ti boil, I put in the package included of uncooked rice.
Now here is where I had to rush a bit, because I had gotten home later and my boys were all on their way.  It said to reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes, but I knew with everyone coming home soon, and starving from what I was told, I needed the food ready.  So I kept the heat high and uncovered and cooked it for a shorter amount of time (I don't suggest doing this!), about 15 minutes or so.  The rice, for the most part, still managed to be tender, but the slower cooking extra time, I'm sure, would've done wonders.  However, later when everyone was eating it, no one but me seemed to notice, they all really loved it, so I guess it was good.  :)  Considering my husband completely despises Hamburger Helper meals in general, I know it was good when he's 'mmm'ing at the meal.
While that was cooking on medium-high heat (and while I was occasionally stirring it), I took a small bowl and stirred another 1/3 cup of soy milk with the topping mix package from the Hamburger Helper for about 30 seconds and then set it aside.  I also slightly crushed the package of corn chips in its package and set that aside as well.
Once I was done cooking everything, I heat a package of 8-inch tortillas in the microwave for about 45 seconds and spooned 1/3 of the beef mixture down each of the tortillas (on the recipe, it states that it should be able to make 12 burritos, however, putting 1/3 of the mixture in each tortilla only allowed me to make 8 of them.  I'm not sure if it had anything to do with the fact that I hadn't cooked it the way the recipe called for, but it was short.  Luckily there are only 4 of us, so it worked out perfectly!), and then I drizzled the cheese sauce over all of them, topping each with some green onions, chopped tomatoes and the crushed corn chips.
I used my awesome Taco Bell skills from my teen years to professionally fold up those bad boy burritos and voila!!  Dinner was served!!  For TWO burritos (oh yeah, you get two of that awesomeness), the caloric value was 470/serving  (like last time, I'm sure using a leaner ground beef made the calories lower, but I didn't take the time to figure it out.  No biggie!).  As I stated earlier, it said it was a six serving meal but I had only managed to get 4 servings out of it.  Either way, it was still YUMMY, AND was only $1.62/serving!  WHAAAAAAAT!  Seriously, I know...
Here's the recipe!!!!!!!

1 pound lean (at least 80%) ground beef
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1 box Hamburger Helper Crunchy Taco
1/3 cup milk
12 flour tortillas (8 inch)
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1 large tomato, chopped

Happy cooking everyone!!!!!!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Burger 'n Fries Pot Pie

Hello fellow cooking friends!  I hope everyone has had a productive week (I know I sure have and am EXHAUSTED :) but I will push forward for you all!).  This meal I made a few days ago was quick to prep and immediately became a favorite from all of my guys!  I mean, seriously, do you see the photos?!?  Who wouldn't love their dinner topped with fries?  Best part?  It still fit under my 500 calorie dinner rule.  How is that possible, you say?  Let me show you!
So I originally got this recipe from Betty Crocker but, of course, changed it just a bit to suit my family!
First thing's first, I preheat my oven to 425 degrees and then chopped up 1 cup of onions (the recipe said 1 large onion, but my onion was, apparently, EXTRA large, so I actually didn't need to use all of it in order to get the 1 cup measurement.  I'm pretty sure it was grown in the same area where the beanstalk leads Jack to the giants, because it was GINORMOUS!  Speaking of Jack and the Beanstalk, that new movie looks interesting; I'm kind of psyched to see it!  But, seriously, enough about this onion and my ranting, let's move on!).
Once I diced the onion, I cooked it in a skillet with 1 1/2 pounds of extra-lean ground beef over medium-high heat.  It took around 6-8 minutes for the beef to be cooked thoroughly, and then I drained it.  I put that meat awesomeness back into the skillet and added 2 tablespoons of flour to it, mixing it well and stirring it constantly for about a minute.  Once all of THAT was done, I then added one can of diced tomatoes to the mix and heat it until it was boiling, removing it from the heat immediately after.
Unfortunately for me, here in the recipe it states to put the beef mixture into a casserole dish but I DON'T HAVE A CASSEROLE DISH!  I know, right?  Hey, I work with what I've got!  :)  Anywho, I just ended up using a glass baking dish which, based on the outcome, probably worked just as well.  So as I mentioned, I put the beef mixture on the bottom and then topped it with 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (Veggie Shreds, of course, for our little dairy-allergy fella!), and THEN topped it with, you guessed it, FRENCH FRIES (cue clouds parting and angels singing softly).  Okay, so maybe the angels wouldn't sing for French fries, but my boys certainly did!  It was 2 cups of frozen French fries placed in a single layer on top of all of that meaty, cheesy goodness!
After that, I just popped the pot pie (WHY this meal is called a pot pie, I'm not exactly sure.  Based on my ideas of pot pies, they should have crusts around them entirely, but I digress!) into the preheated oven for only about 20 minutes, to allow the French fries to cook and the cheese to met.  Then?  You guessed it...VOILA!!!!!!  Dinner was served!
This meal was fun for everyone to look at for the few seconds before they ate it.  My boys even had fun getting some ketchup and dipping their fries into it like they normally would.  Sooooooo, like I said, the calories managed to only be 340/serving with this being a 6 serving meal.  What?!?  I know, right?  Plus, I'm sure using the extra-lean ground beef, as opposed to the ground beef it states on the recipe, made the meal even less.  For real!  Also, it was only $1.41/serving.  I don't make these things up people!
Here's the original recipe!!

1 1/2 pounds (at least 80%) ground beef
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
2 cups crispy French-friend potatoes (from 20 ounce bag)

Happy cooking everyone!!!!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Snack Edition: Baked Mini Churro Bites

Hello again!  What's that you say?  Two blogs in one day?!?  I know, right?  I told you guys I was busy baking and cooking all weekend!  :)
This one got a little messy (not sure if it was the recipe or me haha) so Give yourself some time!  My husband had some serious dishes to do after this!
So first thing's first: I preheated my oven to 350 degrees, sprayed a mini muffin pan with cooking spray and set it aside while I prepped everything else.
I whisked together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl and set that aside, as well.  Then, in my mixer bowl, I beat together some sugar and butter on medium speed for about 3 minutes, and then added an egg and some vanilla.  Once that was combined, I added the flour mixture slowly, alternating between the flour mix and milk.
Once that was all combined, I used two spoons to scoop the batter into the mini muffin pan and put it into the preheated oven for 17 1/2 minutes.  While that was cooking, I melted some butter in a bowl and combined sugar and cinnamon.
When they bites were done cooking, I put them immediately into the melted butter and then dipped it into the cinnamon/sugar mixture.  I also had to do two different batches as this recipe makes 30 bites and my pan only held 26, so I actually just had to cook four more.  They were delicious though!  The best part is they're only 85 calories per bite!  What a yummy snack and only $0.20/bite!  Whaaaaaaaat!
Here's the recipe!

for the churros bites:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 ground nutmeg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup milk (we used soy milk for our little lactose intolerant guy!)

for the cinnamon sugar topping:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Happy snacking everyone!!!!  :)

Snack Edition: Homemade Fruit Snacks

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Hellooooooo friends!  Did everyone enjoy their super bowl festivities??  :)  Also, if anyone has any suggestions on something they'd like to see me cook, please comment and I'll be happy to take it on!!
So today is my first NON-dinner blog and I'm STOKED people....STOKED!  I worked ALL weekend cooking and baking, making a bunch of little snack items SPECIFICALLY for the change up that I had intended to make, so get ready for some craziness!
This first one I did I got, of course, from Pinterest (the actual site it linked to is linked to that Pinterest!).  Anything that would allow me to use my skull and crossbones ice trays was a recipe I was down for!
So first thing's first: I had both frozen and fresh strawberries, which the recipe stated either could be used, but I chose to use up my frozen strawberries!  I put 2 1/2 cups into a sauce pan, along with 1/2 cup of fresh-squeezed lemon juice (not sure if the lemon juice needed to be fresh-squeezed or not, it didn't say, so I chose to do fresh!) and heat it on medium-low until the frozen fruit started to soften.
Once that was done, I poured it into my blender and blended it, putting it aside after that to cool a bit (maybe 3 minutes or so, maybe longer depending on how warm the mixture was prior).
When it was cooled sufficiently, I put the liquid mixture back into the saucepan, added 2 tablespoons of honey and then slowly whisked in 1/2 cup of unflavored gelatin.  Be careful with this stuff, you will need to really whisk it while you're pouring it (a great arm workout for sure!) because it starts to thicken very quickly.  This particular time I noticed I probably didn't need all of the gelatin, as the original recipe said to 'pour' the mixture into the molds and I actually scooped it.  NOT TO FEAR MY FRIENDS, as it still worked, so just make sure to keep an eye on the thickness.
So as I said, once I was done whisking, I scooped the mixture into my rubber skull and crossbones ice molds (any molds you have will suffice, I'm sure!), and put them into the fridge for about an hour to an hour and a half and VOILA!  Homemade fruit snacks!  My husband said they tasted like the frozen fruit bars taste like, just not frozen!  :)  I say yums!
So, if I did the calculating correctly, these fruit snacks are about 9-12 calories per piece, depending on size, of course, and much better than buying the prepackaged ones!  It was also only $0.15/piece!  Yay!
Here's the recipe!

2 1/2 cups strawberries (fresh or frozen and you can use any type of fruit, probably more like any kind of berry)
1/2 cup lemon juice (fresh-squeezed is better but try it how you like!)
2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup unflavored gelatin

Happy snacking everyone!  See you back here for more snacking goodness soon!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Happy Groundhog Day everyone and let's all rejoice in the fact that spring is soon on its way!  Yay!!! Enough about Bill Murray and onto this meal!  :) meal was soooooo good!  So I've been stalking Pinterest fairly frequently again and found this absolutely amazing recipe for Buffalo Chicken Meatballs.  Buffalo chicken ANYTHING is a must in this household, and I've even recently printed out a whole stack of 'to do' buffalo chicken recipes, so be prepared for more!
I've also decided that I want to start doing more variety on this site, so be prepared for more than just low calorie dinners!  Whoop whoop!
So, first thing's first: I preheat my oven to 350 degrees and lined a cookie sheet with foil, spraying it with cooking spray.  Once those were prepped, I set that aside and took some carrots (the recipe called for 1 carrot but I only had baby carrots so I used 6), 1 stalk of celery and green onions, chopping them into large chunks and putting them into my food processor, letting it chop it to a slaw consistency.
I then added that mixture to 1 pound of ground chicken, 1 egg, 1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs (yum!), 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of blue cheese and 1/4 cup of Frank's Red Hot Sauce.  You can certainly use whichever buffalo sauce you prefer but, really, what other kind is there??  :)
I combine all of that together and formed the mixture into 28 small meatballs (I know right??) and put them on the prepared cookie sheet.  Once those were formed, I put the cookie sheet in the oven for 20 minutes.  As there were about 2 minutes left to cook, I put 1 tablespoon of butter and another 1/4 cup of Frank's Red Hot Sauce into a bowl and microwaved it for about 45 seconds, to ensure the butter was melted and the sauce was warm enough.
The calories were so low for this (157 calories for 4 meatballs), that I split the meatballs equally and served them over pasta with the additional butter/hot sauce mixture over it, like a pasta!  It was soooooooooo yummy!  So WITH the pasta and extra meatballs, it was still only 470 calories, which stayed under my 500 calories!  Woo!!  Also, including the pasta, this meal was only $2.02/serving!!!  Yay!  Voila!!!  Dinner was served with minimal work, calories and money!

Here's the recipe!

1 pound lean ground chicken
1 egg
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
2 green onions
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons blue cheese
1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce, divided
1 tablespoon butter

Happy cooking everyone!!