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What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Balsamic Chicken with Rosemary (A South Beach recipe)

12 Jun
This was both simple and delicious!

This was both simple and delicious!

This is a recipe we tried and liked some time back. It’s a South Beach Diet recipe and it was simple, easy and delicious! At this time of year we need quick and easy with all of the end-of-year meetings and events, so I pulled this recipe out again. In this photo, ours is served with couscous and a sauteed vegetable medley of broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini.


From the South Beach Diet Book


6 Boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves, minced or 1/2 teaspoon dried

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 – 6 tablespoons white wine (optional)

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Refrigerate overnight.

Refrigerate overnight.


Rinse the chicken and pat dry.

Combine the rosemary, garlic, pepper and salt in a small bowl and mix well.

Place the chicken in a large bowl. Drizzle with the oil, and rub with the spice mixture.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Spray a heavy roasting pan or iron skillet with cooking spray. Place the chicken in the pan and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the chicken over.

If the drippings begin to stick to the pan, stir in 3-4 tablespoons water (or white wine if using).

Bake about ten minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the portion registers 160 degrees and the juices run clear. If the pan is dry, stir in another 1-2 tablespoons of water or white wine to loosen drippings.

Drizzle the vinegar over the chicken in the pan.

Transfer the chicken to plates. Stir the liquid in the pan and drizzle over chicken.

Serves six

Per serving: 183 calories, 26 g. protein, 4 g. carbohydrates, 6 g. fat, 1 g. saturated fat, 270 mg. sodium, 65 mg. cholesterol, 0 g. fiber

Can’t get to a cannoli? Try this dessert instead!

1 Feb
This picture of Jill's cannoli made my mouth water!

This picture of Jill’s cannoli made my mouth water!

One afternoon on Facebook, my friend Jill, of Jill’s Cakes and Bakes in Canton, Georgia, shared a mouth-watering photo of her bakery’s cannoli. I have shared the photo with you here, so that you too, can drool with longing, just as I did that day.

I wanted a cannoli right then and there. If you live anywhere near Jill’s bakery in Canton, I highly recommend you high tail it right over there. Right now.

Of course I couldn’t have a cannoli right then and there, and I do not live near Jill, but I had a backup plan.

I’d have my new favorite guilt-free dessert, one that I found in the South Beach Diet Cookbook in my quest for lowfat foods. As I was perusing the book in December, I noticed that in the Phase I plan of their diet they do a lot with ricotta cheese for dessert. They add in all different flavors like orange, vanilla and…..


Yup, I went right to the Mocha Ricotta dessert page as soon as I saw that because I have always loved ricotta cheese. I don’t know if that’s a typical thing to love, but I love it, and I always have.

The recipe was a simple one, and it makes one serving, just enough to satisfy my urge for a little something.

On that particular day, it satisfied my urge for three cannolis. In fact, the dessert itself is very similar to the inside of a cannoli.

Works for me.

Since I’m not actually ON a diet, I threw some fat free chocolate syrup on top, not a ton, just a little, and some fat free whipped cream on top also. It was like an ice cream sundae in the middle of the day, but much better than an ice cream sundae.

Now clearly, it’s not a cannoli, but if you can’t have one, maybe this is the next best thing!

Next time you’re having a craving for something sweet, give this dessert a try!

I've had this dessert at least six times since finding it in the South Beach Diet book.

I’ve had this dessert at least six times since finding it in the South Beach Diet book.

South Beach Diet’s



1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese (I use fat free)

1/2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1 pkg. sugar substitute (since I’m not dieting I just throw in about 1/4 tsp. of sugar)

Dash of expresso powder (I don’t have that so I use instant decaf granules, about 1/8 tsp.)

5 mini chocolate chips (again, I can use regular sized, a couple more than five but not a ton.)


Mix together the ricotta, cocoa powder, vanilla, and sugar substitute in a dessert bowl. Serve chilled with a dusting of expresso powder and sprinkled with mini chocolate chips.

Per serving (as original recipe is written): 261 calories, 15 g. protein, 17 g. carbohydrates, 14 g. fat, 9 g. saturated fat,  166 mg. sodium, 42 mg. cholesterol, 0 g fiber

And last but not least, my gift: Smart Mug for my lunch

28 Jan
One mug has my morning coffee and one mug has my soup for lunch!

One mug has my morning coffee and one mug has my soup for lunch!

I got the coolest gift this year for Christmas!

I wanted a mug that I could plug into my car AC adapter in order to reheat my coffee during the day. Oftentimes, I’ll leave the house for work with a mug of hot coffee, get to my destination in just a couple of minutes, and then when I come out an hour or so later, my coffee is now ice cold. Then I drive around all day, wishing I had that hot coffee.

This year, this was one gift I really wanted, a mug that would warm up my coffee. There are lots of them out there, but this one says “Tech Tools” on it and its official name is the Princess International PI-4121 Red Retro Smart Mug. You can get it here on

I totally love my mug. This weekend I used it after church. Similar to a work day, I often leave the house to go to church, bringing my coffee in the car with me. Ten minutes later we get there and I sadly say goodbye to my coffee because I know that later when I come out, it’s going to be cold while we run our errands during the hour the kids are at CCD.

Not anymore. This Sunday, my coffee was still semi-warm when I got out to my car, but all I had to do was plug in my mug, flip the little switch on the cup and wait for it to hit about 100 degrees. I was golden. I enjoyed every sip of my coffee during our hour.

With every sip, I thought, “This is the coolest thing.”

But actually, it’s not even the coolest thing of all.

My friend Paula, of the blog My Soup For You, enlightened me to the fact that rather than keeping cookies in my purse and in my car for when I’ve missed lunch and am totally starving after being on the road all day, I could plan ahead just a little bit and make a soup that I could drink, such as her Creamy Lentil Soup, which I’ve linked over to just above. (If you remember, I don’t really love traditional lunches, such as sandwiches, so I never pack one. Plus, I’d rather eat cookies anyway.)

Paula said that now that I had this nifty mug, I could then put my soup into my mug, and flip the switch when I’m ready to eat.


And guess what: She was right!

A couple of weeks ago I did not have enough time to go home in between stories for lunch, so I packed our chicken and veggie chowder for the road. I had time to sit in my car and eat it though, so I took a spoon with me when I left the house.

I left one story and turned on my mug to heat up my soup, so that before I had to go into the next story I had time to eat my soup.  It made my day so much more enjoyable because I was not starving. I don’t like to go and buy food for lunch when I’m working unless I absolutely have to, so I was happy to have avoided that. I went from my second story to my third one with a full belly.

And then, I had my cookies for dessert.

This mug has gotten great reviews from others, and I hope that my experience continues to be as great as it already has been so far, because I really love being able to take soup on the road.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Oven Fried Chicken

9 Jan
This new chicken recipe got five thumbs up!

This new chicken recipe got five thumbs up!

As we’ve gone along in our search for delicious low-fat meals, we have been pretty happy with many of the ones we’ve found. Today’s is again from the South Beach Diet Cookbook, a cookbook that I’ve tabbed over and over again, since checking it out of the library last month.

This is listed as a Phase II meal, but we’re just eating from all over the book. We also tried a Phase I side dish, mashed cauliflower. I liked it, but it did not get the overwhelming thumbs ups that the chicken got. I liked the cauliflower so much that I made it again this week but I did not get any additional thumbs this time. I might be making it just for me.

Even Alex, who has chicken on her Do Not Like list, loved this chicken and asked when I would make it again. Most likely that’s because I let her have her favorite dipping sauces to go with it: ketchup and honey. It’s her own version of bbq sauce. Either way I was thrilled that she liked it, and even had two pieces.

Here is the recipe, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!


1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

1/4 cup (one ounce) grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup finely chopped almonds (You could probably leave this out if you don’t have them but I liked it in. I used a Pampered Chef food chopper to chop my slivered almonds from Aldis.)

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Pinch of ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2″ (I used chicken tenderloins.)

Sprig Italian parsley, for garnish


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs, cheese, almonds, parsley, garlic, salt, thyme, and pepper. Mix thoroughly.

Place the oil in a shallow dish. Dip the chicken first in the oil then dredge in the crumb mixture.

Place the chicken in a shallow baking pan.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the center of a piece registers 170 degrees F and the juices run clear.  (Do not turn the chicken during cooking.) Garnish with parsley.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Chicken and Veggie Chowder

2 Jan
This soup was hearty and delicious and everyone in our family gave it a thumbs up!

This soup was hearty and delicious and everyone in our family gave it a thumbs up!

Happy New Year!

If you read my New Year’s Eve post on Monday, then you’ll remember that I mentioned that some of my posts will be showing the new recipes we’ve been trying at our house during the month of December.

These recipes are helping us in our goal of eliminating as much of the “bad fats” from our diet and we’ve been using a variety of websites, blogs and cookbooks to guide us in finding some fun new meal options.

One thing our family loves is homemade soup. During the fall and winter months we have homemade soup all the time.

When I was looking through The South Beach Diet Cookbook last month, I saw this recipe for Chicken and Veggie Chowder and it seemed like we would all love it. We had everything for it at home already, so we gave it a go. If you were following the South Beach Diet itself, this recipe is recommended for Phase II. Since we are not, we could eat it any time we wanted to.

It was a cold day when we had it, and it was definitely a warm-your-belly kind of soup. Everyone loved it, which is one reason we love making soups. Very rarely does someone not like soup at our house.  This recipe was definitely a keeper, and of course, it was good for you.

CHICKEN AND VEGGIE CHOWDER (from the South Beach Diet Cookbook)

3 cups chicken broth

2 carrots, chopped

2 ribs of celery, chopped

2 ounces mushrooms

1 onion, chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 3/4″ strips

2 tablespoons trans-free margarine or butter (We’ve been trying out the Smart Balance Omega 3 sticks and the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter sticks)

3 tablespoons whole wheat flour

1 cup 1% milk

3 spears asparagus cut up into 1″ pieces or 1 cup broccoli florets (we like both but we went with the broccoli.)

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


In a large pot, combine the broth, carrots, celery, onion, mushrooms, garlic, thyme, and salt.

Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Using a slotted spoon, remove half of the vegetable mixture to a food processor and process until pureed. Return to the saucepan.

Stir in the chicken, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink.

Melt the margarine in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour until smooth and cook for one minute.

Gradually add the milk and cook, stirring constantly for three minutes, or until thickened.

Stir into the chicken mixture. Add the asparagus or broccoli, parsley, and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, or until heated through.

A new year, a new direction for The Whole Bag of Chips

31 Dec
Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

It’s New Year’s Eve!

It is the very last day of 2012!

You know what that means? It means that it’s New Year’s Resolution time for many. I know that last year I talked a little bit about the fact that because our entire family runs on a school year schedule, I’m kind of programmed to set my own personal goals and resolutions for the “year” in September, rather than January.

And that’s still true, but this new year is going to be a bit different, and you’ll be seeing it with some changes to The Whole Bag of Chips as well.

This blog is designed so that it often follows the twists and turns of our family’s life. As with any family, there are always lots of twists! We like to keep things exciting at our house.

Some of you may know that for years we have had a variety of stomach issues here. I know I’ve mentioned it in some of my posts. It’s one reason we don’t eat out often (besides the financial reason), it’s the reason I do my “sweets” after school rather than at night before bedtime, and it’s the reason why we work so hard to make our meals from scratch, and try to eat as healthy as we can.

That said, we still love our homemade desserts.

A lot.

However, in an interesting twist, it was recently suggested to us that eating a strict low fat/healthy fat/healthy carb diet might  be beneficial in helping us to fight the chronic belly aches here at our house. It was suggested that one of us may have something similar to an allergy to fats.

The first reaction I had was similar to the day I was told that one of my kids was allergic to dust.

She’s doomed.

But, in keeping with my overachiever, Type A personality, my next reaction was to take a deep breath and find out all that I could about cooking a low fat/healthy fat/healthy carb menu for my family.


We needed to see if this suggestion held any water.

And it did.

It was recommended that if we wanted to truly try this out and we were looking for recipes, that The South Beach Diet might be a good one to try for guidelines and new menu ideas. I checked one cookbook out of the library the very next day and read the entire thing cover to cover in about two days’ time, the first weekend of December.


Christmas month.

Cookies, desserts, parties.

Not the easiest time to make such a switch, but I was going to give it 100%.

And so, here it is, December 31, almost a full month into our experiment, and although the chronic stomach pain has not completely disappeared, we have seen an improvement, enough that we want to keep up with this new way of eating. Our family is not on the diet, per se, not following the strict Phase I, II and III plan, but rather using the facts in the beginning of the book about fats and carbs and sugars, along with the recipes throughout the book, to overhaul our menu.

Therefore, in keeping with many people’s top New Year’s Resolutions: losing weight, and staying fit and healthy, The Whole Bag of Chips recipes will be featuring the recipes that we have been using in our meals as of late. We have switched our entire family over to this “diet” so that we are all eating the same thing and all eating as healthy as possible, together.

I tried to keep my healthy versions as close to my regular versions as possible.

I tried to keep my healthy versions as close to my regular versions as possible.

When it came time for Christmas Cookie baking, I made two sets: a regular set of our favorites for our trays and a healthy set of our same favorites, using modified ingredients, for our family. We did not want to give up the things we loved but yet we needed to try to keep to as low fat a diet as possible, even at Christmas.

So today, in preparation for your New Year’s Day breakfast, I will post for you a breakfast recipe that you can use tomorrow morning if you would like to start your 2013 eating healthier too.  The recipe is a modified version of our homemade pancake recipe along with a delicious hot peach compote recipe to go on top. Neither is far off from what we normally would make (in fact this pancake recipe hardly differs from our own), but they both are in keeping with the low fat/healthy fat/healthy carb guidelines. One is a South Beach cookbook recipe and one is from the Farm Girl Gourmet blog that I found online.

Happy 2013 and enjoy!

PANCAKES (from the South Beach Diet Cookbook)

My entire family loved this compote and it was so easy! I'd double the recipe next time.

My entire family loved this compote and it was so easy! I’d double the recipe next time.


2 cups whole wheat or whole grain pastry flour (We have always had whole wheat flour at our house all the time and will often do half wheat, half white flour in our recipes.)

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 egg

1 egg white (we just did two eggs instead of one egg and one egg white)

2 cups buttermilk (to make buttermilk use 1 T. white vinegar to 1 cup milk, so two and two here)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons canola oil (I used plain nonfat yogurt instead of oil, which is a tip we learned a few months back. We love how fluffy it makes our pancakes and waffles.)


In a large bowl, whisk together the egg and egg white until very foamy. Whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla extract, and oil.

Stir into the flour mixture just until the batter is combined and pourable.

Heat a large, nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat.

Pour 1/3 cup batter into the skillet to form a 4″ pancake. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the bottom is browned.

Turn and cook for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown.

I had everything I needed for this recipe at home already.

I had everything I needed for this recipe at home already.

FRESH PEACH COMPOTE (from the Farm Girl Gourmet blog)


1 pound fresh peaches, skinned, pitted and sliced (or frozen)  *I used a bag of Aldi’s frozen peaches.
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon


In a medium saucepan, add the peaches, brown sugar, water and cinnamon, bring to a boil.

Turn heat down to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until mixture is thick and liquid is syrupy.