Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Yummy Cupcakes!

Ok...for those of you that have been following me it would make sense that you'd be under the impression I've all but forgot about this blog...the truth is I have been experiencing  health issues over the past month that have left me a little under the weather to say the least! At this point the specialist I went to believes that I am protein deficient (a condition that has caused hair loss, involuntary shaking, passing out, hot flashes, etc) a blood panel will rule out the other contender, thyroid problems, but we are waiting to figure out an insurance solution before we any rate I have been feeling better over the past few days and wanting to get back into the kitchen! This first recipe is not really a recipe rather a commentary on some new Pillsbury products. I first heard about the new sugar-free line at my local WW meeting and waited until I saw the new goodies appear at my grocery. Currently there are only two choices of batter and two choices of frosting...but who cares when the options available taste heavenly! I tried out the sugar-free devil's food cake and topped it off with the sugar-free vanilla make things fall festive I added a bit of orange food coloring to my frosting to enhance the cute cupcake holders I found. I also added a bit of orange flavoring to enhance the vanilla and the end results are a wonderfully decadent cupcake that tastes absolutely as good as "the real thing!" These cupcakes will run you 3pts a piece but are well worth the points for a delicious dessert treat! For more information here's a link to the new products: Pillsbury

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hearty Harvest Beef Stew

Yesterday, as you are all aware, was the first day of Autumn! Fall is my favorite season; I am in awe each year looking at the colors of changing leaves, feeling the crisp hint of cool that enters the air, and of course the sight of pumpkins everywhere! In celebration of the season I decided to adapt (only in using the healthiest version of each ingredient) a WW Online recipe for Slow Cooker Beef and Vegetable Soup. This soup combines flavors I had never before seen in beef stew...cinnamon, honey, sweet potatoes and prunes! I unfortunately did not have any prunes and used golden raisins instead which not only added the texture of prunes, and a similar dried fruit essence, but came at a lower points cost. Cannot begin to tell you how great this thick, rich stew tastes...or how amazing your house will smell after having this savory concoction simmering away for 8 hours! Gotta try: Hearty Harvest Beef Stew

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shrimp Fried Rice with Edamame

Now that new year's feasting and Yom Kippur's fasting is over I will hopefully be making more new dishes for the fall season. The latest reason for no new posts...Repeat Cooking! There have been so many wonderful recipes that I've tried that it is really hard not to re-make things to savor again and any rate this dish is from a new cookbook that my mom sent me, "WW Annual Recipes for Success 2006." If I have never told you before W is a sucker for Chinese is my stepfather! This recipe will satisfy the Chinese food lover in your life, Shrimp Fried Rice with Edamame is a great and easy way to bring vegetables, protein and grain all together in a meal and have it actually taste good! The key ingredient in this dish is the sesame oil...for those thinking of skipping out, don't! The inclusion of sesame makes this rice meal resemble our greasy take-out favorites more than if you stick to just the rice. So for only 6pts per serving, gotta try: Shrimp Fried Rice with Edamame

Monday, September 13, 2010

Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash

This tasty treat comes from a recipe found in the October issue of "Country Living" magazine...the recipe practically begged to be made as the only change necessary was the exchange of olive oil for cooking spray! The use of barley for risotto would ordinarily not cross my mind but after tasting its sweet and nutty flavor and learning that it packs almost twice the amount of protein found in regular rice I will be looking to use it in future risotto dishes as a replacement. The butternut squash gets its own baking treatment prior to joining the risotto and I have to say the pieces that had a bit of burn to them had the best flavor; I think if I make this again I will let the squash go under the boiler for a few minutes to crisp burn the majority of pieces. The dish itself is a combination of sweet squash, nutty barely, fresh thyme, lemon, garlic, parmesan cheese, wine, onions and of course a subtle broth of rich stock. Perfect dish to make on nights when you are in the mood for something light yet filling, at only 5pts per serving gotta try: Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hunter's Stew

The first time I had hunter's stew (bigos) was at a Polish festival...for those of you that have never heard of or had this delightful dish it is basically a very meaty/thick stew. The popularity of this stew lies in its utility in using up all the "odds and ends" remaining in one's cupboard as well as any mixed meats remaining from hunting parities. So of course wanting to please my Polish love I began to make bigos at home following traditional recipes and ingredients and achieved excellent results; however when made in this manner bigos is more like heart attack stew rather than a heart healthy selection. The challenge then became adapting a traditional recipe into something WW accomplish this task I merged two separate bigos recipes from, "The Art of Polish Cooking"  into one health conscious concoction. The end results were a very flavorful combination of vegetables, fruits and meat that not only resembled bigos but got a W stamp of approval! The mixed textures of apples, sauerkraut, onion, mushrooms and carrots alongside the smoked turkey sausage simmered together in a hearty wine and tomato broth made this dish a new household favorite at only 5pts per serving! If you have never had bigos, now's the time to try! Hunter's Stew

p.s. If you have the points serve this up with a hunk of fresh, crusty bread to soak up all the juices!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lubiya and Cinnamon-Apple Cake with Honey Glaze

L'Shanah Tovah! Happy New Year! Rosh Hashanah began last night as dusk settled and started off the High Holy Days for Jews around the celebrate I made a traditional black-eyed pea soup and a WW adaptation of a apple spice cake from the, "WW Healthy & Happy Celebrations" cookbook. The use of black-eyed peas as a celebratory new years feast dates back as far as ancient Egypt where the bean was served up in a turmeric colored broth to symbolize fertility...other cultures, including U.S. Southern culture, still use this legume as a hallmark of the season. The recipe I used makes a hearty soup called Lubiya; the richness of the beans along with the spice of hot chilies and the distinct flavor of fresh cilantro make this a warm and spicy soup to prepare us for the cool fall days ahead (assuming you don't live in Texas!) for a mere 3pts. And of course in keeping with the traditional idea of consuming apples and honey in anticipation of the sweetness of the year to come I made a Cinnamon-Apple Cake with Honey Glaze. The cake is a great way of upholding this tradition with nutmeg, cinnamon, fresh apples, cider and brown sugar to name a few. At only 4pts per serving this cake will add a great end to any fall menu. With the Gregorian New Year coming up and fall/winter holidays in abundance before hand now is as good as time as any to re-energize our efforts and continue our healthy living into the season ahead. Happy Cooking! Lubiya and Cinnamon-Apple Cake with Honey Glaze

Sweet and yummy goodness!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Eggplant Parmesan

This recipe was a suggestion by mom...she has been following another fellow WW lady that has been quite busy developing her own blog of recipes which sadly puts mine to laughable shame (I should mention however that she has been working on it for years, not months!) Anyhow, my mother made a recipe from her site last week and raved about the Italian/cheesy goodness of it all. Not being one to turn down a good recipe I decided to follow in her footsteps and make the same dish...the taste is wonderful! Every bite had a fresh from my Italian grandmother's garden type of feel...and the best part is that by sheer coincidence I followed the recipe using what I had in pantry and got the original recipe down from 6pts per serving to 3pts! I think the difference lies in using olive oil cooking spray rather than oil to coat eggplant, fat free mozzarella over reduced fat and egg substitute over real. The taste is amazing and so I think my accident is worthy of its own write up for those that want to recapture the 3pt model. The whole dish hangs on one thing however, the sauce! The sauce recipe she uses is from what she describes as her friend, a good Italian cook...I will describe her as genius! I never in a million years would have used carrots to make a tomato sauce but it added such a great flavor that I will be using this from now on. The sauce is an entirely different recipe and I will supply the link, note that it makes extra so despite the drudgery of making this from scratch version you will have multiple uses from your efforts. So there you have it...a dish so great that it comes taste test approved by three fellow WW ladies and very satisfied Wojtek! Happy Cooking: Eggplant Parmesan and the link for sauce: Filetto di Pomodoro

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tomato Soup

While musing with my mom on things to cook for a fall palate we both concluded how wonderful it would be if the "secret" family recipe could be adapted into a healthier version of itself....alas we have the world's best Tomato Soup! This soup recipe has been in our family for generations and though simple in ingredients it is surely the best tomato soup I have ever enjoyed. The really funny part was just how easy it was/could have been to make a healthier variety all along...replace the full stick of butter with a few tablespoons of faux butter, olive oil with olive oil cooking spray to saute...fat free evaporated milk vs. whole, etc etc...So the real test comes from how the taste was affected by all these changes, so here it's BETTER! I could hardly believe the taste! Whereas before the rich creaminess had a decadency that left you feeling gluttonous after a few bites this version retained nothing but the taste of the fresh tomatoes, thyme and basil. Another example of how great this conversion worked, before when served in a bowl the soup left a ring of fats/oils/tomato around the there is no waste of soup just more goodness to enjoy! So there you have it, an awesome fall favorite that in my family has made a starring role in all holiday meals at a mere 3pts per 1-1/2 cup serving! To retain the "secrecy" I have left one ingredient out of the final recipe (rest assured that I tried, Wojtek tried before adding said secret ingredient and the soup is still divine!) I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family has! Tomato Soup

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pad Thai with Tofu

I adore good Pad Thai...and since changing over into a healthier eating lifestyle I had neglected this treasured dish (amendment: I did try the Lean Cuisine version of Chicken Pad Thai and did NOT find it appealing at all, whatsoever!) imagine my delight at finding a recipe in the current issue of Weight Watcher's Magazine for "Peanut Noodles!" The recipe as listed in the magazine is served cold and is meant to be a lite summer dinner salad...wanting my Pad Thai goodness I followed the basic recipe listed but made a few changes, added lite tofu and voile a WW friendly serving of my favorite old friend at only 6pts per serving! So for those of you Asian food lovers out there you gotta try: Pad Thai with Tofu

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dilbert The Penguin

The past eight days have been hectic to say the least! Wojtek's mother willingly left the now crisp Canadian air to brave Houston for a week of celebratory birthday fun! That being said...despite all of the eating out trips I still managed to make "smart" choices for the most part and lost another 1.6lbs. I did cook for several of the nights but I relied on recipes I knew to be good and that I have already shared with you in the this post is the lone addition from the past few days of cooking. Let me begin by saying that this is NOT a WW recipe, rather it is a healthier adaptation of birthday goodness...I used healthy substitutes where possible and my only disappointment is that I could not find the Pillsbury Sugar Free cake mix and frosting at the time I prepared the cake. This creation, which I lovingly named Dilbert, is a fantastic treat to make for any upcoming birthday in your life...after seeing the joy on Wojtek's 25year old face I can only imagine how much a child would enjoy this surprise. The cake was a bit challenging to make since I have never done anything quite like this and I highly recommend having someone there to help you when the assembling of the body occurs...otherwise making Dilbert was purely fun and I highly suggest trying to make your own! Dilbert The Penguin

Friday, August 27, 2010

Linguine with Red Clam Sauce and Bruschetta

Yes, yes I do realize it's been a good while since my last in the spirit of re-energizing your cooking prowess with a show stopper, I bring you Linguine with Red Clam Sauce and Bruschetta! This fantastic meal comes from WW Online and serves up great flavor with gourmet flair for only 5pts! For those of you that are reluctant about cooking with clams let me assure you that it is super simple and easy to do; the combination of savory clams alongside spicy red pepper flakes, rich wine and tons of fresh herbs make this Italian staple a sure crowd pleaser for your next get together. The bruschetta I served alongside added to the decadence of the meal with tangy balsamic, fresh basil and garlic and fantastic rosemary and olive bread for only 1 additional point. This is a must try sensation: Linguine with Red Clam Sauce and Bruschetta

Monday, August 16, 2010

Peanut-Butter French Toast

Crossing fingers that the stomach bug has left the building! Hopefully our home will resume an normal cooking and more importantly eating schedule this week...feeling a hankering for something sweet I opted to make breakfast for dinner! This recipe comes from "Pure Comfort" and provides a fresh twist on the french toast classic by stuffing peanut butter in between layers of bread before dipping in the familiar vanilla egg french toast batter. The original recipe calls for the toast to be browned in butter but by replacing with cooking spray the total pts drop from 6pts per serving to 5pts! I served alongside scrambled eggs with cheese for an additional 2pts making an all around great breakfast/dinnertime meal! Do try: Peanut-Butter French Toast

Note: Wojtek caught me walking to the dining table and insisted on my posing in apron for this dish! I'm including the foodshot as well for those wanting the close-up!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Yesterday on a whim I decided to use some of our fresh blueberries stock in something sweet and found a great recipe for muffins in the, "WW New Complete Cookbook". The cookbook lists a recipe for basic muffins that is very concise and simple to follow and then adds variation recipes to the basic form...I chose to combine the Lemon Muffin and Berry Muffin takes for a lovely muffin hybrid. The resulting muffin hybrid has the sweetness of lemon bread with the unique flavor injection that only blueberries can provide. Super simple to make and at only 2pts per muffin a great snack to have around! Happy Cooking! Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Asian-Infused Stuffed Acorn Squash

Not gonna lie...we have been sick as dogs this past week! All vacation weight is history and then some...not the way you want to lose pounds. However, since eating has been a delicate issue the highlights of our palate have consisted of plain toast, mashed potatoes and one crazy night, applesauce! To maintain some sense of faithfulness for my Fantastic Followers...I decided to post something I made before vacation but never got the chance to post. The day I made this I looked online through various acorn squash recipes until I found one I could adapt from "Taste of Home". This meal is an innovative dish that combines the nutty flavor of pecans with the sweetness of raisins, honey, ginger and balsamic all together in Basmati rice stuffed against the rich flesh of acorn squash. This dish stands alone or could be paired nicely with a brothy soup. For only 6pts, gotta try: Asian-Infused Stuffed Acorn Squash

Friday, August 6, 2010

Meatball and Barley Soup

I failed to mention that along with gaining a few pounds on the trip we also acquired despite the 110F heat index yesterday, nothing treats a cold quite like soup! After the greatness of the Cheesy Tortilla Casserole, I picked another recipe to try from my new "Pure Comfort" cookbook. The recipe is easy to make but tedious in the sense that everything must be done in stages; however it is well worth the effort! The rich taste of leeks, barley and carrots marinating in a seasoned broth would be quite enough...but add in the hearty/basil-y meatballs and you have a soup that not only tastes great but is super filling at only 4pts for a 1-1/2 cup serving (4 meatballs per serving). This will definitely be a fall staple, if we get a fall in Texas that is! Happy Cooking! Meatball and Barley Soup

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cheesy Tortilla Casserole

Last night I tried out the first recipe from a new cookbook, "WW Pure Comfort 150 All-Time Feel-Good Favorites". The cheesy tortilla casserole is so good, so delicious and so easy to make that I feel a weekly repeater on the rise! The layers of crisp corn tortillas with smokey cumin seasoned onions and red peppers along with the corn, parsley/oregano, cayenne pepper and cheese mixture when stacked with eggs make for a divinely cheesy and filling Mexican treat! The original recipe weighs in at 5pts per serving but by replacing eggs with substitutes and using fat free cheese over reduced fat I've knocked it down to 4pts for a very generous serving. For a first night cooking after many nights of decadent eating I have to say this one made me feel as though I was still on vacation! Be sure to try: Cheesy Tortilla Casserole

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Home, Sweet Home!

 And we're back from the most amazing and exhausting summer trip yet! We spent ten days with family going all over from Savannah and Jykell Island, GA to Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, Mexico! We were able to experience once in a lifetime feats...swimming with stingrays, holding baby sea turtles, caving/spelunking through an underground river and lighthouse climbing just to name a few. All of this daily activity, including the endless stair climbing aboard ship, made me appreciate even more how much my body has changed in the past six months. I am not saying that I would not have done these things before; more that I realized whereas before the physicality of the trip would have left me drained each day now my body was filled with energy enough to still work out aboard ship. Do not get me wrong however I did not adhere to the WW doctrine while on board; rather I decided that vacation is a break entirely from the norm and if I don't allow myself to enjoy life's joys (be it food or otherwise) at least on special occaison then I would be robbing myself of the good stuff. So suffice to say that yes I gained, but it's not the end of the world...I'm looking at it as a souvenir from late night fancy dress dinners with my family, slices of cheesecake shared with my love in the middle of the day overlooking the ocean, and as a few drinks that led to dancing my butt off and laughing even harder. This week I will resume my cooking schedule with ease, I really missed cooking surprisingly, and will be patient as the pounds I regained disappear again.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bon Voyage!

I have two new recipes to post but they will have to wait because we are setting sail for vacation! In the morning we're off for 10 glorious days of cruising with family to the beautiful Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico. I went to a WW meeting this morning for last minute encouragement and was pleasantly rewarded by finally hitting my 50lb mark that's been plaguing me for two weeks. Hopefully my vacation eating will not get the best of me and I can remain true to my healthy lifestyle commitment! See you when we return, until then Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mushroom Stroganoff

Again with the rainy, stormy weather here in South Texas so another night for a nice hearty meal to warm the spirit! This recipe is an adaptation from, "The Complete Guide to Traditional Jewish Cooking," for those of you that love stroganoff this is a great version that will leave you with the same satisfied feeling as its caloric Russian namesake. The rich flavors of nutty mushroom with pressed garlic, chives, onions and wine over noodles make this a delicious comfort meal for only 4pts per serving! Best try: Mushroom Stroganoff

For those of you that have been skipping dessert to save on points I thought I would share my go-to summer delight. At a whopping, mere, 2pts this dessert has the look, smell, and feel of a much naughtier treat. Simply buy pre-made angel food cake at your local grocery (make sure to check the nutritional information, most serving sizes are 100 calories or less!), top with 2tbsp of fat free whipped topping (0pts), and then heap on any fresh summer fruit that you have lying around. All this goodness for only 2pts!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Artichoke and Pesto Pizza

Last night was another pizza night, this time of the artichoke pesto persuasion! I cannot stress enough how lovely it is to keep Sara Lee Pitas around for when your inner pizza craving monster emerges. This variation has a foundation of sweet basil pesto topped with baby portabellas, artichokes, black olives, crushed red pepper, freshly ground black pepper and tops off with mozzarella cheese. The whole sh-bang only totals 6pts and yet retains the tasty distinction of a gourmet pizza. Happy Cooking! Artichoke and Pesto Pizza

Monday, July 19, 2010

Feel Good Sweet Potato

Last night felt like a potato night; the last potato I tried was an adaptation of a Rachael Ray dish so why not try again? This time I searched for sweet potatoes and while I could not find a stuffed recipe to my liking I did find her recipe for "Feel Good Potato Skins". So I simply left the potato intact, added all the ingredients listed and then re-stuffed into one shell rather than into skins. To make it WW friendly I used all fat free ingredients in lieu of their full fat counterparts and substituted turkey bacon for the traditional fat back. The end results were a delightful mix of sweet potato with smokey bacon, sweet paprika, fresh onion-y chives and the sharp goodness of cheddar. For only 6pts you have a great, filling meal! Better try: Feel Good Sweet Potato

Friday, July 16, 2010

Watermelon Salad with Cucumber, Scallion, and Feta

This amazing 1pt salad comes from, "WW Savoring Summer," and makes for a refreshing alternative to the more traditional summer side salads (potato, macaroni, etc). The ingredients may not strike you as belonging together: sweet watermelon, cool cucumber, and bright scallion set off by red wine vinegar and the distinct flavor of feta. The results, however, are a divinely fresh summer fruit salad. I served it up last night next to a simple Cajun roast beef and cheddar melt making my whole meal 6pts. Try serving it alongside your favorite sandwich or let it stand alone...either way a great way to spend 1pt: Watermelon Salad with Cucumber, Scallion, and Feta

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Caprese Pasta Salad

Those attending WW meetings know that the challenge this week was/is to incorporate fresh herbs into your meals; I use fresh herbs nightly from my very small patio garden but I thought I would find a recipe that truly placed all emphasis on fresh tasting herbs and veggies. This recipe comes from, "WW Savoring Summer," and is both easy to make as well as a big crowd-pleaser! The ingredients in this recipe are very simple making it essential to get the best quality ingredients that you can; very ripe fresh tomatoes, good olive oil and if possible try to purchase handmade orecchiette. The simple flavors of the freshly pressed garlic and sweet basil combined with the full flavor of ripe tomatoes and handmade pasta make this a stunning example of how herbs can make a meal. The original recipe totaled 6pts per serving but by exchanging reduced fat mozzarella with fat free the points drop to 5pts! Happy Cooking and be sure to try: Caprese Pasta Salad

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Turkey Tamale Pie served with Guacamole Salad

Last night's meal was inspired by my intense craving for Mexican...don't get me wrong I still go out to Mexican restaurants but now that I am on WW it's just not as fun when your order includes: no sour cream, no cheese, no meat, no sauce, etc etc. When cooking Mexican at home, however, all the fixings can be had when in moderation and no-fatness making this meal feel, taste and look like something very not WW indeed! The Turkey Tamale Pie begins with a layer of red pepper roasted refried black beans, moves up to spice-i-fied ground turkey mixed with black olives...goes higher with a layer of cornbread/jalapeno mix and tops off with caramelized red onion and cheddar cheese. Yum..yum...yum! This fantastic pie will only cost 5pts per slice and for a great accompaniment try serving with Guacamole Salad for an additional 4pts. I realize this is a pointsy meal but if you're like me you try to save points for your favorite meal each day. If you don't have the points try for a simpler approach by whipping up a salsa vinaigrette (2tbsp salsa + 1tbsp vinegar) to top off your shredded lettuce for a 0pts salad. Either way gotta try: Turkey Tamale Pie as well as Guacamole Salad

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cajun Shrimp with Succotash

When I think of summer I think of farm fresh veggies...what better dish to show off the season's finest than succotash? There are countless ways of making succotash but for the sake of brevity this simple version uses three classic summer staples: corn, zucchini and sweet red pepper. Mix in loads of Tabasco, Creole seasoning and a dash of freshly ground black pepper for a seriously spicy punch. Serve alongside Creole spiced shrimp grilled to order and top off with a squeeze of fresh lemon for an overall amazing meal on a hot summer night for only 5pts! Gotta try: Cajun Shrimp with Succotash

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Tomato-Pesto Ravioli

Last night's dinner is proof in itself that anyone with 10 minutes of time can make a WW friendly meal at home! As I keep mentioning we have been SO busy surprise then that around 7:40pm last night we realized our hunger and the need for an insanely fast meal. Several ideas came to mind but my penchant for Italian on Friday nights held true so pasta it was! The challenge to this dish is finding a store that sells pre-made light cheese ravioli...once you have secured the pasta add in fire roasted tomatoes and a bit of pesto and voile! Admittedly omitting the pesto will save you some points but for those of us that love the sweet nutty basil mixture an extra point or so is worth the trouble; top with fresh cut basil and parmesan (1pt extra) if desired and you have a great/fast Italian meal for 7pts. Happy Cooking! Tomato-Pesto Ravioli

Friday, July 9, 2010

Mushroom and Vegetable Moo Shu

Moo Shu! hehe...I just like the way that last night we dined in Chinese style for a vegetarian take on a classic Chinese dish. This recipe comes from, "WW From Pantry to Plate" and though originally listed as a 5pt meal I got it down to 3pts! This was accomplished by switching canola oil for cooking spray to saute and using egg substitute over real; the end results were a fantastically fragrant stir fry dish. The combined flavors of fresh ginger with the various toasted mushrooms and edamame make this a definite repeat. Traditionally this dish is served with thin pancakes...the book suggests using a tortilla replacement and while I thought it might taste odd it was actually quite good. If you use a La Tortilla Factory tortilla (find these if you have not already, Tortilla Link) then it costs 0pts to add. If you still have points leftover then you might want to also add rice to make the dish even heartier, I used basmati but any will work. An all around great recipe good for any of those Chinese take out cravings! Mushroom and Vegetable Moo Shu

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fire Roasted Chili Mac

Needless to say that this past holiday weekend combined with house hunting appointments has seriously thrown off my normal cooking routine. I did attempt to make something Tuesday night and the best that can be said for it is that my Clover bear enjoyed the addition to her kibble! What could be so bad you ask? The answer is a recipe for Spanish Tortilla found in the, "WW New Complete Cookbook." There was something about it that just did not go well with neither Wojtek or myself. So moving on to very, very good things...we have last night's comfort food of the week...chili mac! For those of you not in Southern Texas we are experiencing a bit of flooding with dark skies, thunder and the what better way to unwind at night than with a nice hot bowl of chili. This particular version is an adaptation from a WW online recipe that switches up Mexican flavor with fire roasted vegetables. The chili starts with caramelized onions, add in roasted red peppers, fire roasted tomatoes and the flavor is rich and smokey. The best thing about this dish is that chili only gets better tasting with time and you will definitely have leftovers on this one, so for only 4pts...gotta try Fire Roasted Chili Mac

p.s. If you have the extra points top chili with 1/4cup of fat free cheese for an additional 1 point!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Grecian Pizza

Friday night is pizza night! We all know this to be true, so why should life on WW be any different? The best thing about pizza made at home is that the options are endless! I will have to share with you some of my favorites as time goes on but last night we had a lovely Grecian Pizza for a mere 5pts! I used a round pita bread in lieu of crust and proceeded to top with an assortment of complimentary Greek staples: black olives, roasted red peppers, feta cheese, fresh tomatoes, basil, sauteed spinach, mushrooms, and of course artichokes. The only points come from the cheese, black olives and the amazing 1pt only pita. If you have been missing out on pizza night give this 5pointer a try! Grecian Pizza

Friday, July 2, 2010

Poutine with Mushroom Gravy and Garlic Cheese

First off this week has been crazy, not to mention that we still have two parties to attend over the weekend! So all apologies for the lack of cooking that has been occurring; I only hope that my exercise efforts are counter-acting said festivities. That aside...Happy Canada Day!!! or belated at least. So if you can't get Wojtek to Canada...bring Canada to him! Poutine, for those of you that don't know, is a food strongly associated with Canadian cuisine. Essentially it is all things terrible combined into one dish...fries, gravy and cheese curds! There are many variations but for this version I opted to go for flavor through herbs and veggies rather than using a fattier meat based gravy. The fries were freshly cut by hand and seasoned to make them carry a bit of flavor rather than fried crunch and oven baked until crisp. The mushroom gravy was accentuated by the addition of mushrooms and caramelized onions in sherry and the "cheese curds" were replaced by 100 Calorie Pack Mozzarella Garlic & Herb cheese bites. The end results according to W, " poutine I've ever had!" Clearly he is too sweet for words, but it really did turn out great and would make for a good introduction to this classic Canadian fare if you have never not bad when only 7pts, pair with asparagus and you've got a great meal. Poutine with Mushroom Gravy and Garlic Cheese

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Reuben-Stuffed Potato

Last night's meal can best be defined as, Yum-O! Or at least I believe that is a Rachael Ray-ism? Loving baked potatoes I am always on the look out for a new recipe to try and using a simple Google search I happened to find what RR considers to be the answer to St. Patty's Day leftovers. Love of potatoes aside, there are few better deli sandwiches than the Rebuen...with all that wonderful sauerkraut and corned beef and Russian dressing! So what better dish can there be than one which so perfectly combines these two ideas into one for a Reuben-Stuffed Potato? Taking her dish and making it WW friendly was not too difficult to achieve: reduce the potato size; fat free cheese, milk and sour cream; and lastly no butter or salt. The only minor complication is that despite having gone to two groceries I could not find corned beef, perhaps this is a once a year deal? At any rate I used spicy pastrami from Hillshire Farms instead and found that the taste was still amazing; if you can find corned beef make sure to double check the points value of the dish as it may be more! The Russian-ized sour cream topping combined with the familiar taste of the Reuben sandwich and the creaminess of a baked potato make this a must try for only 6pts! Reuben-Stuffed Potato

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Curried Shrimp over Garlic-Basil Coconut Rice

After a long weekend of eating away from home and having to tip-toe around portion selections and choices it was quite a delight to walk in from my weekly WW meeting last night to find dinner made! So while I lack cooking commentary on this one I can say that my grocery selections resulted in a point drop of 8 to 4pts per serving; I can only assume that the original creators were off? This very tasty treat comes from, "WW 101 Best Quick & Easy Recipes," and the taste is really amazing! The combination of tangy orange marmalade and spicy curry together with the coconut flavored rice makes this a wonderful treat on a hot summer I mentioned the recipe dropped drastically in point value and the only noticeable difference is that sugar-free marmalade was used instead of low-sugar and when I point valued the rice for the dish I used only the information for the 2 cups that were being used instead of the whole box, which is where I think the publisher's mistake comes from? At any rate, a very good dish that you (or your loved one) should make! For just 4pts you gotta try Curried Shrimp over Garlic-Basil Coconut Rice

p.s. After last night's weigh-in, I have one pound to lose before hitting 50, I better be good this week!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Polenta Lasagna with Beef and Ricotta Cheese

My approach to the weekend is to make a very large batch of something on Friday night and munch through it for the remainder of days; weekends are also the time when eating out occurs more since meal planning can become a bit cumbersome when combined with museum outings, beach visits and dog park duties. This weekend I opted for a dish from the, "WW From Pantry to Plate," that promised to deliver big flavor in a small point punch. I had never used polenta for lasagna before this recipe and the results were quite promising; in all honesty I think that my polenta failed to firm up due to my impatience in waiting for polenta set-up...that being said the dish was still a fantastic blend of creamy polenta and herbed lasagna ricotta mix. I used fresh basil from my little garden which added an extra bit of aromatic flavor and to top off the greatness of this Italian masterpiece, I reduced the meal from 5pts to 4pts by using 98% lean ground beef! You simply cannot go wrong with a 4pt lasagna that produces leftovers in abundance, do try Polenta Lasagna with Beef and Ricotta Cheese as I mentioned I did not wait the full 1 1/2 hours for my polenta to set up so once I cut into the dish the layers all blended together and while the taste is still phenomenal I will show you what the whole dish looked like to give you a better idea of what yours could look like if you have the patience to wait!

Pair with a simple side, such as fresh steamed asparagus, and you have a lovely Italian feast for 4pts! Happy Cooking!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pierogies with Creamy Mushroom and Sherry Sauce, Balsamic Spinach and Turtle Brownies

Perhaps my favorite recipe thus far into the WW cooking experience (beginning around March) has been what I deliciously whipped up for dinner last night. Growing up I had the occasional pierogie from the typical sources...Oktoberfest festivals, international cuisine events, etc. However, since meeting my sweet Polish love, pierogies have become somewhat of a staple. So imagine my surprise when I found a fantastic and super easy recipe from the, "WW Stir It Up! Super Skillet Cookbook." This recipe has a truly phenomenal taste combination of nutty mushrooms with caramelized onions in a sherry flavored sour cream sauce that when topped with chives is pretty perfect. The pierogies themselves require no effort as pre-made low fat store versions are used to keep the fat/calories in check. A generous 1 1/2cup serving is a great way to spend 5pts! Definitely try Pierogies with Creamy Mushroom and Sherry Sauce

To accompany the very rich tasting pierogies I usually opt for a side of steamed asparagus, but since local stores were out I went for another lovely green staple...spinach! To "fanci-fy" my side I quickly sauteed the spinach (one bag of pre-washed baby spinach) in 1tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Upon wilt I added a few quick seasonings: 1/4tsp salt, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp black pepper. And to really add some extra flavor I used 1oz or 2tbsp of fat free feta for a great tasting side with a .5pt value! Serving size may vary depending upon how wilted you allow your spinach to become...however mine measured a very full 1/3 cup scoop.

For dessert I tried making a new kind of brownie; I love brownies and since starting WW I have tried at least four recipes that have results ranging from "ok" to "I actually had a friend try it and she spat it out." So imagine my surprise when the Turtle Brownies from, "WW Ultimate Classics 101 Best-Loved Recipes," turned out so good that I double checked the points value certain that I would find a 6 in place of the 3. These are definitely worth the effort! I think the secret lies in pre-toasting the pecans for that extra nutty flavor or perhaps it is just the inclusion of Rolos (by the way, I could never find Mini Rolos so I ended up cutting up a role of the regular kind...I cut each piece into fours.) To make this recipe even better (if you were not already convinced) by using butter, sugar and egg substitute I was able to make the brownies drop from 3pts to 2pts per brownie! If you are a brownie or chocolate lover you have got to try Turtle Brownies

So there you have last night's feast for a whopping total of 7.5pts! Happy Cooking!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Grilled Pimiento Cheese Sandwich

Usually lunch consists of leftovers or WW Smart Ones but every now and then I make something that can only be defined as a "quintessentially lunch" dish. Today is such a day...I love pimiento cheese sandwiches! I first started eating them as a child and throughout college and grad school they were the quick go-to for a home sacked lunch. This version of pimiento is an adaptation from, "WW Ultimate Classics 101 Best-Loved Recipes." The only difference between their version and mine is that I use fat free mayo and I add a generous portion of dill (I actually use over a tbsp but only included 1/2tbsp in the recipe I posted), lastly I use cayenne pepper instead of red pepper. Grilling the sandwich until golden gives the cheese mixture a nice consistency of almost melted but still textured. Serve this up with Baked Lays for an easy 2pt side (I love the new Parmesean and Tuscan Herb flavor.) The recipe makes enough for four 1/4c servings, so serve a few or save for a later date. If served with chips: 6pts, without chips: 4pts! Yummy Grilled Pimiento Cheese Sandwich

Spicy Jack Cheese and Spinach Quesadillas with Refried Beans

Though not having picked this particular selection I was curious nonetheless to see what sort of flavor combination lime and spinach would produce; this recipe comes from the, "WW Stir It Up! Super Skillet Cookbook." The best thing I can say about this dinner is that it is very quick and very easy to make...I can also mention that the recipe makes four servings and Wojtek ate three of these four! Overall the taste just seemed like it needed something...perhaps a bit more salt to bring out the flavor of the spinach, or maybe even nutmeg? I don't know...honestly it was really not that bad, kind of good...great if you're a Wojtek, but for me I think not a repeat. I paired the quesadillas with a 1/2cup serving of lime and chili flavored fat free refried beans for a great 1pt side dish. Topped everything off with 1tbsp of salsa and 1tbsp of fat free sour cream to make things festive without adding points. Total for the meal: 5pts! Try it and tell me what you think Spicy Jack Cheese and Spinach Quesadillas

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cajun Red Beans and Rice

Today for lunch I am enjoying leftovers of a simple take on this classic dish found in the, "WW Ultimate Classics 101 Best-Loved Recipes." I have reduced their recipe by a point replacing fat free sour cream for reduced fat and by eliminating the need for olive oil by using cooking spray to saute. Use Tabasco freely to amplify the heat at zero point risk and you have a speedy, easy-to-make meal for only 6pts! Check it out Red Beans and Rice

Balkan Aubergines with Cheese, Salad with Fruit and Cherry Clafouti

I should first mention that I am on the second to last night of dinner rotation for the week; in an effort to make dinnertime mutually beneficial meal planning is accomplished by Wojtek and I sitting around a pile of cookbooks picking out random things to try. So for your very first peek into Weight Watchers cuisine here are last night's random pickings.

The main course is a recipe adaptation from Marlena Spieler's, "The Complete Guide To Traditional Jewish Cooking," and just so happens to be a frequent repeat. I love this dish! The official name of Balkan Aubergines with Cheese could just as easily be Eggplant Souffle. The rich taste of cheese combined with the nutmeg, cayenne pepper and toasted eggplant make for something entirely out of the realm of "diet" food yet only adds up to a mere 3 points per serving (for those of you not on WW, points are the calculation of fat, calories and fiber based on serving size.) I am still uncertain of how best to display recipes not found on WW so I'll wait until I hear feedback concerning preference, for now I am going to enter my recipes into the WW data-frame so that if you choose to make any of these dishes you will have quick access to a printer friendly recipe. The biggest changes in this dish were the use of fat free milk over whole; the use of fat free cheese over whole; and roasting the eggplant via oven broiler with only a sheen of cooking spray as opposed to the original recipe that calls for deep frying the slices in oil. So here is my version of Balkan Aubergines with Cheese

The salad I made for dinner has become a summer staple in this household; it just may be the most simple salad you have ever made that still retains a sense of being more than just your typical iceberg and ranch combo. Too simple to enter online I will just tell you what goes in it...

Salad with Fruit
1 Bag of Sweet Baby Lettuce (or any other preferred mixed green)
1 Cup of Sliced Strawberries
1/3 Cup Fresh Blueberries
2oz or 4tbsp Fat Free Feta Crumbles
2tbsp Maple Grove Farms of Vermont F.F. Balsamic Vinaigrette (0pts!)
Fresh Chives (optional) 

Toss everything together very well and serve it up! The only points in the salad come from the feta which is 2pts for the entire salad, so simply adjust your pts according to how much of the salad you eat!

For dessert think decadent, think French...I found this recipe on WW and given my love for cherries I knew it would be delicious. Apparently clafouti is a traditional French countryside dessert that is a distant cousin to Spanish Flan. First I should mention that not being a cognac drinker myself I found it quite amusing to stroll into the liquor store and head for the Courvoisier (flashback to college and Busta Rhymes I'm sure.) The results of this experiment were fantastic! The cherries were enveloped in a sweet custard that retained the smooth and distinct taste of the cognac (I feel pretty confident given the cook time that the alcohol cooks off, though I could be wrong.) The portion size is quite substantial and only 3pts per sure to try this one Cherry Clafouti
So there you have dinner last night, in three parts with a total points value of: 7! Happy Cooking!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Getting Started...Sort Of

The idea for blogging about WW cooking came from my sweet Wojtek (a typical 20-something male that can eat 2 large pizzas for dinner, a box of cookies for dessert and somehow still weigh down in the morning.) His idea was that if I am going through all this trouble to adapt recipes to WW friendly standards and cook through the good and bad WW recipes then I should be sharing my experiences with others. And hopefully receive ideas back in return!

A typical week includes cooking roughly six dinner meals, various on going snacks and of course desserts! As I sit here writing this I am already wishing that I would have been documenting my triumphs and failures along the way...but better late than never!

If anyone would like to find me on WW online you can search the user name: Bearshkin