Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Low-Cal Eating: 3 Quick Tips and Recipes

I recently started a new workout plan with "NBC's Biggest Loser Workout" for Wii.  Forecasting even a small weight loss goal or trying different exercises has been less than exciting, as I have suffered from severe chronic back pain for more than a decade.  It's true that a body in motion stays in motion... so I picked up the Wii workout on a whim.  It has been fantastic thus far.  And I love that it's interactive.

One of the many features of the Biggest Loser Workout includes short video tips for exercising, lifestyle and diet.  I decided that I'd share some of the healthy eating tips with my devoted readers.  The lunch and dinner option came straight from the brain of this lady.  I cannot claim to be an expert on low-calorie diets, but I am working on gaining more knowledge.

Low Calorie Snack:
Cinnamon Apples - 70 calories
- 1 medium sweet apple (recommend Gala or Macintosh)
- 1/4 TBSP cinnamon
- 1/2 TBSP water
- 1 teaspoon sugar (or sweetener)

Chop the apple into bite size pieces and place into a microwavable bowl.  Add the water, cinnamon and very small amount of sugar or sweetener.  Stir.  Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes.  Delicious and nutritious!

Low Calorie Lunch:
Hummus and Turkey Sandwich - Approx. 230 Calories
- Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins (100 Calories)
- 3 pieces of turkey lunch meat
- Leafy greens or lettuce
- 2 TBSP of hummus (I have been enjoying the Sabra Spicy Hummus)

I'm not sure that this requires much instruction.  If you don't know how to assemble a sandwich... we have bigger problems.

Low Calorie Dinner:
Balsamic Dill Salad with Tuna - Approx. 300 Calories
- 1 can of tuna
- 1.5-2 cup of leafy greens or lettuce
- 1/4 medium sweet onion, julianed
- 1/2 fresh tomato, julianed
- 1 tsp of dried dill
- 1/2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper

Combine together in a bowl and enjoy!  It tastes great and was filling too.  Not satisfied yet?  Add a yogurt or the apple snack from above.

Thank you for taking the time to read some of my healthy eating tips and recipes.  If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to email them to me directly at  I wish you all happy, healthy eating!  Have a great week.

We could all use a hint of more time!
Copyright 2011 A Hint of Thyme.  All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Another Year of Turkey and Thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope that you all had a wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving dinner.  It's a day revolving around food, tradition and family.  We pass on old traditions and create new ones. 

Every year we spend Thanksgiving Day at my parents home.  My mom creates a fantastic dinner and others make their usual contributions to the meal.  My sister makes the green bean casserole, my aunt makes the sweet potatoes and fruit fluff, and my other aunt makes the pies. 

My mom plans to teach techniques and cooking ideas to my sister and I next year.  She is going to gradually pass the "Thanksgiving Dinner Torch" off to us.  And we are pretty excited to learn from a talented woman that has spent over 20 years making some awesome food on this holiday.

As I reflected on tradition and food... it made me wonder what other families do for this particular holiday.  So I have created a survey and will display results in a couple weeks.  This survey is intended to ONLY collect data and not for "selling email addresses" or spam.  It was created by me and is purely just for fun.  Please take 2 minutes to answer the 6 questions in my Thanksgiving Poll 2011.  I really appreciate your participation.

Have a great holiday season!

We could all use a hint of more time!
Copyright 2011 A Hint of Thyme.  All rights reserved.

*Free photo at top from

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cooking With Wine - Chicken Dumpling Soup

A couple weeks ago we attended a weekly church group gathering.  During the discussion about food, some of the women in our group had expressed their love for a local restaurants' "dumpling soup".  They said that it did not have chicken but was undoubtly delicious.  I was intrigued.

Several days later I decided to create my own "dumpling soup", but would definitely include chicken.  This recipe is the perfect winter meal.  I also created it as a thank you dinner for my dear friend, Danielle (read about the soup that she made for me).

The soup is inspired by Paula Deen's recipe.  I was a bit cautious at first - considering how much butter she uses.  With numerous changes... I am able to call this soup my own.  I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did.  My husband said it was a "home run".  In man terms, I'll take that as pretty-gosh-darn-good!

Prepare time = 30 minutes
Cook time = 2 hours

Chicken Vino Dumpling Soup

- 6 cups of chicken stock
- 4 cups of white wine (I recommend Sauvignon Blanc. Note: I only spent $3 on the wine)
- 1 TBSP of butter

- 2 cups of shredded chicken (Tip: I used a store-bought rotisserie chicken and still had some left over)
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 3 peeled carrots, diced
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup of frozen peas or corn
- 1/4 cups fresh parsley, chopped

- 1/2 TSP ground nutmeg
- 2 TBSP tarragon
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 TBSP thyme
- Ground pepper to taste
- Kosher salt - approx. 1 1/2 TBSP

- 2 TBSP butter
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 TSP ground nutmeg
- 1 cup of milk
- Salt and pepper

Prepare all vegetables and meat before adding liquids to a large cooking pot.  Add the liquids to the cooking pot.  Gradually begin to add the chicken and all vegetables.  Season with salt and pepper.  Taste.  Then add all the spices.  Cook on medium-low heat for 1.5 hours, stir occasionally. 

In a medium sauce pan, heat the butter and milk to a slow simmer.  When it begins to slowly bubble, add the flour.  Remove from heat and add the eggs.  Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Whisk until dough is thick.  Use a tablespoon to from small to medium sized balls of dough.  Gradually drop dough into the heated soup broth.  Stir gently.  Cook on medium-low heat for another 30 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!


I can shamelessly admit that creating the dumplings made me a bit nervous.  Everything turned out very well though.  We used a french bread for dipping.  If you choose to make your own bread... I would recommend a dill bread or fresh dinner roll.  Pair with a crisp glass of your favorite Riesling.

This recipe will make enough for 6-8 servings.  I hope you enjoy it! 

Please leave a comment and let me know if you try it.  Have a fantastic weekend!

We could all use a hint of more time!
Copyright 2011 A Hint of Thyme.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Other Meat - Slow Cooker White Chili

I have to be honest... I've never thought about making white chili.  As a food lover, I have subscribed to numerous food magazines and emails.  It helps to revive creativity and brainstorm new recipe ideas.

An email from highlighted a fantastic White Chili recipe.  I thought it would be great for our food budget and a 4-day meal plan.  So I researched different white chili recipes and here is what I came up with...

Mara's Slow Cooker White Chili

- 1/2 lb of ground pork
- 1/2 lb of lean ground beef (You may substitute with 2 chicken breasts or ground chicken)

- 3 cups of chicken stock
- 3 cups of beef stock (you may substitute with vegetable stock... but this does give great flavor)
- 2 cups of water

- 2 cans of Pinto Beans
- 2 cans of Northern Beans
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 cup corn starch

- 2 bell peppers, roughly chopped (any color of your choosing... I suggest going for a color variety)
- 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
- 3 to 4 stalks of celery, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced

- 1 TBSP dried oregano
- 1 TBSP ground cumin
- 1/2 TBSP chili powder
- 1/2 TBSP chili 3000 from Penzey's (try smoked paprika as a substitute)
- 1/3 TBSP dried tarragon
- 1/3 TBSP dried or fresh rosemary
- 1/4 TBSP freshly grated nutmeg
- Crushed red pepper (Optional: Season to taste)
- Salt and pepper to taste

Optional side
- 1 or 2 cups white rice

Phew!!  I know this seems like a lot of ingredients but putting them all together is relatively quick and easy.  Just combine and let the slow cooker do the rest!

Add the beef stock, chicken stock and water to the slow cooker. Heat on high for 10 minutes.  When the liquids become warmer, begin browning the meat.

Brown the meat in a skillet.  Season with salt and pepper.  When the meat is brown, add the flour and corn starch.  The stock and water should be hot, but not boiling, by this point.  Combine the meat with the hot liquid and continue stirring. 

Gradually begin to add the vegetables - onions, peppers, celery and garlic.  Continue stirring.  Add the seasoning little by little.  Be sure to taste the chili - you can always add more seasoning but you cannot take it away. 

When all ingredients have been combined, set the slow cooker to low and walk away.  Stir occasionally for 2 hours.  Turn to warm when it becomes thick.  While the chili is on warm, boil 1 cup of rice with 2 cups of water.  Fluff with a fork and set aside.

Add the rice to the bottom of a bowl and ladle chili on top.  The best topping for this particular chili is Asiago cheese and red onion.  You can also try Colby Jack and chives. 

For those of you outside of Wisconsin, we like to mix our chili with a form of starch.  Regular red chili is typically combined with pasta here.  We wanted to change it up and try rice instead.  It is a very pleasing combination.

I made the white chili on a Saturday afternoon and it fed 2 of us for 4 more days.  Although it's a slow-cooked meal... a slow-cooker is not needed.  This can also be cooked in a large pot on low heat for the same amount of time.  Perfect for cooking on weekends!

We hope that you enjoy this as much as we did.  Have a great week!

We could all use a hint of more time!
Copyright 2011 A Hint of Thyme.  All rights reserved.