Chris' Recipes

Bon Appetite!

Raspberry Pretzel Dessert, low sugar

Written By: Chris - Dec• 12•16

During the Holidays there are a lot of tempting treats and desserts around.  I was inspired to make this lower sugar, less “Weight Watcher point” dessert recently so that I had a healthier option at Thanksgiving.  I’ve made layered desserts similarly with full sugar and fat that included strawberries, but this year is different.  I love raspberries and happen to have some on hand in the freezer following a large fall pick!  Raspberries freeze just fine and are both delicious and low in calories and fats.  They are a rich source of dietary fiber, and antioxidants including vitamins like vitamin A, and vitamin E and I recently learned that Xylitol, which is a low-calorie sugar substitute is extracted from raspberries.

I’m including Weight Watchers *SmartPoints™ – 12 servings, *12 Weight Watchers *SmartPoints™ each.

2 Cups Pretzels, crushed (about 6 ounces) *18
3/4 Cup Butter, melted *61
3 Tablespoons Splenda Brown Sugar *10

Middle Layer:
1 Package Neufchâtel Cream Cheese, softened (8 ounces) *25
1 Cup Splenda
2 Cups Sugar-free Whipped Topping *23

2 packages Raspberry Sugar-free Jello (3 ounces each) *2
2 Cups Water, boiling
4 Cups Raspberries, thawed, frozen unsweetened 
Additional sugar-free whipped topping, optional

Break up the pretzels bit and combine them with the butter and splenda brown sugar. Press the mixture into an ungreased 13×9-inch baking dish and Bake at 350° for 10 minutes.  Place in the fridge to cool.

For the middle layer, combine the whipped topping, cream cheese and sugar until smooth.

Gently spread this over pretzel crust.


Refrigerate until chilled.

Meanwhile, for topping, dissolve the gelatin in boiling water.


Stir in the raspberries and chill until partially set.

Carefully spoon the jello mixture over the cream cheese layer.

Chill for at least four to six hours or until firm.

Cut into 12 squares and serve with a spoonful of whipped topping if desired.

These were the raspberries that I picked and froze back in early October at my friend Vonnie’s brother’s house.


Baked Apple & Pear Strudel

Written By: Chris - Nov• 02•16

So you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting as many recipes lately.  Trust me, I’ve still been cooking, but have had to reallocate some of my extra time to be the winemakers assistant!  Bill and I have been very busy with the progression of Wandering Cellars and have had a lot going on this past year!  Part of what has been on our agenda in addition to traveling, grapes and wine production has been eating lighter and adapting to a healthier lifestyle as we had both noticed that some extra weight had crept upon us!  He and I both began to follow the Weight Watcher program back in late March, the day after Easter.  We had eaten a huge holiday meal that tasted great but left both of us feeling like we had a carb overdose, so we hit the WW phone app that has been working well for us.  As a result of the easy to follow plan, we still enjoy our daily wine intake and manage to eat things we enjoy but in moderation.  Each of us feels better and our bodies have shrunk significantly so our next step is to get within the “normal” BMI readings on our fit bits and we’re almost there!

Part of the contribution and success of our weight loss has been to incorporate new low point and lighter dishes.  We’ve had an abundance of fresh pears because our grape grower gifted us a large box that came with the arrival of our fruit this harvest.  I’ve been roasting them for simple afternoon snacks, but decided to combine them with the seasonal apples to create this decadent treat.  We cut it into four generous servings that equated to only *3 to 4 SmartPoints™ each!



3 medium fresh Apples, peeled and cored *0
2 fresh Pears, peeled and cored *0
3 tsp Splenda Brown Sugar Blend *3
4 packets Truvia Calorie-free Sweetener *0
1 Tbsp ground Cinnamon *1
1⁄4 medium lemon juice, *0
Pillsbury™ Sugar-Free Cinnamon Swirl Flavored Quick Bread & Muffin Mix (portion used *6)
prepare the bread mix as package directs, but exchange the oil with unsweetened apple sauce (*0) and swap the eggs for eggbeaters (*1).  Package says 14 portions.


Make 12 muffins and use remaining mix for the topping to the strudel.


Cut and core the apples and pears.  Line them into a baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Sprinkle the layers with lemon juice, sweeteners, and cinnamon.  Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes.


Remove the foil and pour the remaining bread mix over the fruit and sprinkle the topping crumble mix directly on top of that.


Bake along with the muffins (enjoy them and count as about one or two points on another occasion!) according to the muffin directions.

Allow to sit for a few minutes before cutting.  Top with Sugar-free Cool Whipped topping if desired.


Szechuan Broccoli

Written By: Chris - May• 17•16

Not too long ago, Bill and I enjoyed a nice meal at Marin Restuarant & Bar in downtown Minneapolis.  We’ve dined there a couple of times and chose it this last time because we were hungry for fresh fish following a trade show we attended.  Marin is an elegant eatery offering high-quality New American main dishes, but they also offer items like flatbreads and have a happening cocktail lounge so it doesn’t have to be a special occasion to dine there!

They change up their menu, which is really nice and we really enjoyed the Szechuan Broccoli that we had.  I often try to duplicate dishes that I’ve eaten while dining out and this one turned out pretty good!  It wasn’t difficult to prepare either.



3 Cups Broccoli
1/4 Red Bell Pepper, sliced thin
3 Tablespoons Ginger, jarred sushi style
1 Garlic Clove, pressed
1 Jalapeno Pepper, small
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
2 teaspoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Sesame Seeds
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Chop broccoli and slice the peppers and ginger very thin.  Combine soy sauce, vinegar and sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

If you don’t have toasted sesame seeds, toast them in a dry skillet for about a minute over medium heat and then remove seeds and set aside.


Blanch the broccoli in boiling, salted water for about two minutes.  Drain well and set aside.


Add the olive oil, red pepper, ginger and garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add broccoli and cook for another minute.

ginger ginger 1

I love the sushi ginger, which adds a bit of sweetness.

Toss in the soy mixture and jalapenos and cook for an additional two to three minutes over high heat.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste and then sprinkle in the sesame seeds before serving.


This is the dish from the restaurant.  I think my version turned out pretty close!



Zesty Shrimp Salad

Written By: Chris - May• 12•16

Bill and I were feeling a bit sluggish following the holidays and started following the Weight Watchers Smart Point system via the phone app.  It’s an easy program to stick to because of the fact that you can eat anything you want – so long as you “count” it and keep track on your daily log.  I’ve done WW over the years, but their new program helps you eat healthier, get active at your own pace, and discover new ways to define success.  It focuses on you, not just a number on the scale.  It’s also more realistic than years past as you can eat all the fresh fruit and vegetables you want and not have them go against your daily “points”.  Basically, you’re issued an amount of recommended daily points based on your age and height.  You also are allotted “weekly” floaters, to be used in the event you’ve exceeded the daily points.  I think the other huge advantage is that the system syncs with my FitBit and I can actually “earn” additional FitPoints to be used if I choose, so I’m not really ever feeling deprived.

We started the day after Easter and are both down quite a bit in weight and we’ve picked up our exercise quite a bit and are no longer just trying to meet the daily step goals we used to have and as a result are feeling much better!

This is a refreshing and delicious salad that I came up with based on ingredients that I had on hand.  it’s really important for me to change things up while I’m trying to eat healthier and this was a tasty option!  It serves two and equates to 8 Weight Watchers *SmartPoints™ each.



2 Cups Lettuce, chopped
2 Cups Spinach, chopped
20 Shrimp, cooked and chilled, *1
4 baby cucumbers, sliced
12 grape tomatoes, sliced
Fresh herbs, parsley, dill, cilantro (about 1 cup total chopped fine)
8 Parmesan crisps (from Costco, see below) *2
1 Meyer Lemon, plus rind
2 Green Onions, sliced thin
1 Garlic Clove, pressed
2 Tablespoons Cocktail Sauce *2
2 Tablespoons Greek Yogurt 0
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil *8
Salt & Pepper to taste

Chop the salad items and whisk together the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl.  Toss the salad greens in about half of the salad dressing and then as more as you desire being sure not to overdress the greens.  Toss the shrimp in some of the remaining dressing and place them on top of salad.  (I had about a half a cup of remaining dressing) Top with crumbled Parmesan crisps!




Crispy Chicken Milanese, by Hello Fresh

Written By: Chris - Apr• 27•16

This is another great dish by Hello Fresh!  Milanese is an Italian dish that consists of a thin slice of beef, chicken, veal, or sometimes pork, and even eggplants or soy coated with flour or bread crumbs and browned in hot oil or butter.  Some people prefer to use very little oil and then bake them in the oven as a healthier alternative.  It was a common dish in South American countries where generic types of breaded meat fillet preparations are known as a Milanese.

“HelloFresh” is an international food company, with local branches in Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Belgium, and Austria. The company was founded in 2011 in Berlin by Dominik Richter, Thomas Griesel, and Jessica Nilsson.  I was turned onto it by a friend who had referred me when I received a free box!  (Yes, I’ll take $69 worth of free food anytime!) I was really excited when I heard that Jamie Oliver had partnered with HelloFresh and together are combining forces to get people cooking nutritious, tasty food from scratch!  Their common goal is to provide people with top-quality produce and quick & easy recipes.  They want to give people the guidance needed to create flavorsome, exciting home-cooked meals.

I particularly love the freshness of this dish and its generous portions.  I’m also including Weight Watchers *SmartPoints™



12 oz Chicken Breasts, cooked skinless boneless  *8
8 oz Grape Tomatoes, Heirloom if available
1 Shallot, slice very thin
1 Yellow Summer Squash, medium sliced thin
1 Zucchini Squash, medium sliced thin (optional) 
1 Lemon
1⁄3 Cup Panko Breadcrumbs, *4
1 oz Sour Cream, *3
2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
2 oz. Arugula (or more)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, *8
1 Tablespoon Sunflower oil, *4
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Prep the ingredients: Wash and dry all produce.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Halve the tomatoes.  Halve, peel, and finely chop 1 Tablespoon of the shallot.  Halve the lemon and cut one-half into wedges.


Slice the squash into 1/4-inch rounds (I used the mandoline for very thin).  Toss the squash on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray or a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Place in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, flipping halfway through the cooking, until they are golden brown.

IMG_8297 IMG_8298

Butterfly the chicken breasts: Place your hand on top of the chicken breast and slice into the middle of the meat, parallel to the cutting board.  Open the chicken up like a book.  Repeat with the second chicken breast and pound out so that the meat is even.  Coat the chicken: Coat each chicken breast with sour cream and sprinkle with panko to coat all sides.  Season with the Italian Seasoning, salt, and pepper, to taste.


Cook the chicken: Heat a drizzle of the sunflower oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken to the pan and cook for three to four minutes per side, until cooked through.

Toss the salad:  In a large bowl, combine the chopped shallot, the juice of half the lemon, (or more) and the remaining olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Toss in the arugula and tomatoes.


Plate and serve: Plate the arugula salad and top it with the roasted squash.  Thinly slice the chicken and serve on top with a lemon wedge for squeezing.  We paired this great meal with a lovely 2013 white from TOKARA, from South Africa and it was wonderful!!



Each dish comes with its own instruction card that includes a description, the ingredients, step by step instructions, portions, etc.

These nutritional facts are not including the Tablespoon of Sunflower Oil, but less EVOO.  This recipe served two people: Calories: 460, Fat: 19 g, Sat. Fat: 5 g, Protein: 45 g, Carbs: 30 g, Sugar: 10 g, Sodium: 170 mg, Fiber: 6 g 14 Weight Watchers SmartPoints™ per serving.