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