Monday, December 15, 2008

Old Favorite: Buttermilk Pancakes

This is not a Weight Watchers recipe, but I re-built it in the WW tool and did the calculations, and as long as you limit yourself to just a few pancakes, it's not too bad. The pancakes are so yummy, and now that we have a griddle we've revived the recipe. I don't normally like pancakes, but these are the ones my dad made when I was growing up, and they are delicious.

Buttermilk Pancakes: Makes 12 servings; 3 WW points per serving

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 ¼ cups buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.
  2. In another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter.
  3. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Let rest for a few hours, refrigerated. [My father always uses it immediately and I did the same.]
  4. Gently fold in any additional ingredients such as berries or chocolate chips.
  5. Heat a griddle over medium heat until a drop of water dances lightly across the surface and lightly grease it.
  6. Using ¼-cup measure for each pancake, pour the batter onto the griddle. Cook until bubbles form on the surface, the edges are dry and the bottoms are golden brown, 4 minutes. Turn once, cooking again until the bottoms are golden, 2 minutes.

The verdict: These are absolutely delicious, and not just because I ate them as a kid. They're just so fluffy and tasty and really good with maple syrup. The first few that I made came out very light-colored and not golden, even though they were fully cooked. I eventually figured out that it was because the griddle wasn't quite hot enough, but even the pale yellow ones were delicious. This is a great weekend breakfast--or dinner!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Old Favorite: Havarti Dill Smoked Salmon Risotto

This was one of our favorite recipes back when I first started Weight Watchers, and in the spirit of my post on my personal blog about wanting to get back into that mindset, I thought I'd post it here even though I don't have photos. And I think I'll make it again soon. After all, it is delicious.

Havarti Dill Smoked Salmon Risotto: Makes 2 servings; 7 WW points per serving

  • 5 1/4 oz milan-style risotto mix, with seasoning packet [Instead of risotto mix, I just use about a cup of risotto rice and cook it in low-sodium chicken broth instead of water, and add spices--lemon pepper, basil, oregano, a couple chili flakes, a bit of onion powder--and a splash of lemon juice to make it flavorful]
  • 2 cups water [or chicken broth--see above]
  • 2 tbsp dill, fresh, chopped
  • 2 oz smoked salmon, diced
  • 1 oz havarti cheese, about a 1/4 cup, grated
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tsp dill, or 2 small sprigs, for garnish
  • In a saucepan combine rice and seasoning mix [or, in my case, all the stuff I mentioned in my parenthetical aside above] with water [or, like I said, chicken broth]. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Stir in dill, salmon, pepper, and Havarti. Cover and let stand 5 minutes.
  • Serve in shallow bowls, garnished with dill sprigs.
The verdict: Well, I suppose this is obvious since it's an old favorite and all, but OMG yum. And plus, it's so easy to make! Seriously, you just dump a bunch of stuff in a pot, wait, and eat. And it is delicious, and the risotto is almost creamy, so it feels like it's much worse for you than it actually is. Bonus!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Old Favorite: Spinach Enchiladas

This is one of our favorite recipes, and I actually made and photographed it awhile ago and then never got around to posting it. But better late than never, right?

Spinach Enchiladas: Makes 4 servings; 6 WW points per serving

  • 10 oz chopped frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed to remove water
  • 15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 4 medium tortilla, flour, fat-free [I use low-fat, whole-wheat tortillas instead]
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat Mexican-style cheese [I was out of Mexican cheese last time I made these, so I used more mozzarella instead]
  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Coat a 7 X 11-inch baking dish with cooking spray. [I use a square dish instead.]
  2. Combine ricotta, spinach, mozzarella, oregano, onion powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl; mix well.
  3. Spoon 1/4 of spinach mixture onto center of each tortilla. Roll up tortillas, fold in ends and place side-by-side in prepared baking dish. Spoon salsa over tortillas and sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of Mexican cheese.
  4. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is golden brown, about 10 minutes more.

The verdict: This is so, so easy to make, and really yummy. I've made it with fresh spinach before instead of frozen, and it works just as well. I usually serve these with a side shrimp, either sauteed Veracruz style or baked in a lemony sauce. It makes for a fantastic and very healthy meal.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

New Recipe: Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Torsten and I were having dinner guests, so I decided to break away from the Weight Watchers thing for the night and bake an actually decadent dessert. Of course, I didn't decide this until we were actually at the grocery store, so I wound up making the recipe on the back of the cocoa can because that was the only way I could be sure to buy all the ingredients. Luckily, it turned out delicious. I don't know the Weight Watchers points, and I think that's really for the best. Also, my apologies for the small number of photos--my camera battery was on its last legs, and I only got a couple photos before it crapped out completely. But you get the idea.

New Recipe: Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting Cake Ingredients
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk [I used 2%]
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
Cake Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.
  3. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).
  5. Pour batter into pans. Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks and cool completely
Frosting Ingredients
  • 1 stick butter or margarine
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Frosting Instructions
  1. Melt butter.
  2. Stir in cocoa.
  3. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium speed to spreading consistency.
  4. Add more milk if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups.

There were no instructions on the assembly part, and I struggled a little bit with this because both cakes were sort of rounded on top, but by the time they had cooled completely they'd flattened out a little bit, so it wound up being okay. I just frosted one cake, then stuck the other one on top and frosted it too. It definitely didn't look professional, and I'm sorry I don't have a photo, but it worked.

The verdict: Oh my god delicious. I mean, I know it's pretty hard to go wrong with chocolate cake, but I've never been much of a baker so I was particularly proud of myself for making a cake from scratch. And it was easy, too--basically a bunch of mixing. I know, I always say my recipes are easy. Maybe I don't challenge myself enough or something, but most of what I cook DOES seem to be easy, and this was no exception. I had been a little worried about whether the cakes would stick to the pans, because I've never greased and floured a pan before, but the cakes slid right out after they had cooled for about ten minutes.

The cake went over very well. I try not to make unhealthy desserts often, so I don't know if I'll make this again, but I will definitely keep the recipe in mind for the next time we have company.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Recipe: Ground Beef Noodles

So, for awhile I had this modified beef stroganoff recipe that I was using, but the thing is that even though it sounds really good with the pasta and the beef and the sour cream and all, something about beef stroganoff just doesn't sit right with me. I think it's the combo of spices. So I was thrilled when I found this recipe that sounds a lot like beef stroganoff, but without the stuff I don't like.

Ground Beef Noodles: Makes 4 servings; 9 WW points per serving

  • 6 ounces whole wheat egg noodles, uncooked
  • 1 lb ground beef, 93% lean
  • 1 (6 ounce) can mushroom stems and pieces
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 cups V-8 vegetable juice (or tomato juice) [I used the low-sodium kind]
  • 2 teaspoons salt [I used onion powder instead of salt]
  • 1 dash pepper
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt (optional) [I didn't use this, but I did add a dash of paprika]
  1. In a large frying pan or Dutch oven, saute the onions in butter until tender. [I don't have a Dutch oven and I didn't quite see how the noodles would all fit into the frying pan, so I used a pasta pot instead. Also, I added the mushrooms at this point instead of waiting until the end because I like cooked mushrooms.]
  2. Add meat and brown lightly.
  3. Place the noodles in a layer over meat.
  4. Combine the tomato juice with the seasonings, and pour over noodles.
  5. Bring to a boil, then cover.
  6. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes (or until the noodles are tender). [I was nervous that the noodles wouldn't all get cooked, because in the pasta pot they weren't all quite submerged in the liquid, so I went back a couple times during the 30 minutes and poked at them with a spoon to make sure they were covered with liquid.]
  7. Stir in the sour cream and mushrooms and bring to a boil.
  8. Serve hot.

The verdict: Wow, delicious! And even easier to make than most recipes, because there is almost no prep work--just chopping the onion. This is everything that I like about beef stroganoff without the stuff I don't like. We will definitely be making this again.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

New Recipe: Chicken Tetrazzini

I love chicken and Torsten isn't the biggest fan, so I'm always looking for ways to prepare it so that it will be moist and tender, preferably in a sauce that Torsten will enjoy. Chicken tetrazzini, with its thicker sauce than a lot of the broth-based sauces I like to make, seemed like it would fit the bill.

Chicken Tetrazzini: Makes 6 servings; 5 WW points per serving Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp reduced-calorie margarine [I used light butter instead.]
  • 1/2 cup scallions, chopped (about 5 scallions)
  • 8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup fat-free chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup fat-free skim milk
  • 1/2 pound chicken breast, cooked, skinless, cubed [I used more than 1/2 a pound, and I cooked it with the vegetables instead of doing it separately.]
  • 1/4 cup canned pimento, drained and sliced (about a 2 oz jar) [I didn't have pimentos, so I used red pepper flakes to add kick instead.]
  • 2 Tbsp sherry cooking wine
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 oz uncooked spaghetti, broken into thirds and cooked [I did not break up the spaghetti because I like it better in the long noodles.]
  1. Melt margarine in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add scallions and mushrooms; cook until tender, stirring, about 5 minutes. [I also cooked the chicken at this point.]
  3. Combine flour, garlic powder, pepper, broth and milk in a small bowl; mix until well blended.
  4. Add flour mixture to saucepan; cook until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes. [It didn't take the full ten minutes for this to thicken for me.]
  5. Add chicken [mine was already in because I cooked it with the vegetables], pimentos and sherry; cook until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in cheese and add cooked spaghetti; toss gently. Yields about 1 cup per serving.

The verdict: This was delicious! Torsten loved it and so did I. The thicker sauce was a nice change of pace, and the vegetables gave it a nice flavor. I added a few extra spices and it definitely made a difference; without them, this dish might have run the risk of being bland. However, as it was, it was great, and really easy to make. I will definitely be making it again.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

New Recipe: German-Style Bratwurst

One of the dishes that we'll be serving at our wedding is bratwurst cooked in beer, and our caterer has requested that we provide them with the recipe to ensure that they cook it exactly to our specifications. So last night when we had a friend over for dinner, Torsten took the opportunity to make the dish and create the recipe. It's so easy that it hardly qualifies as a recipe. Also, bratwurst is definitely NOT Weight Watchers-friendly. I don't even want to know how many points are in one of those little sausages.

Torsten made a side dish of mashed potatoes and sauerkraut, which I don't think we'll be serving at the wedding, but it was definitely yummy!

German-Style Bratwurst with Sauerkraut

  • 8 bratwurst links (or really, however many you want) [We get ours at Whole Foods, and it isn't even that expensive]
  • 1 bottle of beer (pale ale works best)
  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups sauerkraut (again, this is totally approximate)
  • 1 baguette
  1. Boil water and add the potatoes. Cook them for 20 minutes or until soft.
  2. In the meantime, pour most of the bottle of beer into a frying pan and place over medium-high heat.
  3. Make three incisions on both sides of each sausage. Add them to the pan once the beer is hot. Cook for 20 minutes, turning them occasionally so that they cook evenly.
  4. While the sausage is cooking, add the small remaining amount of beer to a second frying pan and place over medium-high heat.
  5. When the beer is warm, add the sauerkraut and saute for a few minutes until heated through.
  6. Once the potatoes are done, add the cream and mash them in a bowl. [We used a plastic potato masher for this.]
  7. To serve, place a sausage inside a piece of baguette and put on a plate with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. Traditional Germans will mix the potatoes and sauerkraut together as they eat, but this is up to you. Many people also like to eat their bratwurst with ketchup or mustard.

The verdict: This was not healthy, but totally delicious. It's very simple to make, so much so that writing a recipe for it almost seems silly. The idea is just to cook the sausage in beer until it's done. It's a very drippy, informal thing to eat, and lots of fun, too. Plus it makes you feel authentically ethnic, because the recipe is coming straight from my resident German. We will definitely be making this one again, but not too often because it doesn't really fit in with my whole healthy living plan.

Friday, August 1, 2008

New Recipe: Moo Shu Beef

I LOVE moo shu beef, but I was skeptical about being able to make it at home. But it seemed like it was worth a shot. And my apologies in advance, but I forgot to take photos. Still, the recipe is worth sharing.

Moo Shu Beef: Makes 6 servings; 6 WW points per serving

  • 8 oz lean sirloin beef
  • 3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 medium scallions, chopped
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp sherry cooking wine
  • 2 cup Chinese cabbage, or Napa cabbage, chopped [I used Napa.]
  • 1/3 cup canned bamboo shoots, drained and chopped
  • 1/3 cup canned straw mushrooms, drained and sliced
  • 1 large egg white, beaten
  • 12 medium tortilla, flour, fat-free, warmed [I used low-fat whole wheat tortillas, and we only used 8.]
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  1. Place beef in a medium bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and cornstarch; stir to coat.
  2. Heat oil in large skillet or wok [I used a skillet, since we don't own a wok]. Add scallions and garlic; sauté 1 minute.
  3. Add beef and cook until browned, about 2 minutes. Add remaining soy sauce and sherry; cook 1 minute more.
  4. Add cabbage, bamboo shoots and mushrooms. Sauté until vegetables are browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in egg white and cook 2 minutes more.
  5. To serve: Place a heated tortilla on a plate. Spread 2 teaspoons of hoisin sauce on tortilla and then place 3 tablespoons of beef filling on top of sauce. Roll up, folding in one end to seal in filling. Yields 2 filled tortillas per serving.
The verdict: DELICIOUS. Very similar to the moo shu I know and love in restaurants, but much healthier. The recipe is simple to make, and I didn't even alter it. I loved eating all those vegetables, too. It made me feel virtuous. We will definitely be making this one again.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New Recipe: Beef Fajitas

So a friend of mine came over for dinner last night, and we decided to make fajitas. We looked around online for a recipe, but basically decided to wing it, and wound up more or less using the recipe on the back of the seasoning packet. Gourmet, I know--but delicious, and easy to do. Not a Weight Watchers recipe, though, so I don't know the points.

New Recipe: Beef Fajitas

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided [We only used one.]
  • 1 pound chicken or lean beef, cut into strips
  • 1 medium bell pepper, cut into strips [We used three, all different colors.]
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 package fajita seasoning mix
  • 8 flour tortillas [We used six.]
  • Potential additions, to taste: Avocado/guacamole, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, Mexican cheese, salsa, and/or sour cream
  • Note: As you can see from the photos, we also cooked rice to go with this. It tasted fine, but totally wasn't necessary, and we hardly used any of it.
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. [We also combined the onion and pepper at this point.]
  2. Add meat; cook and stir three minutes or until no longer pink. Remove from skillet.
  3. In same skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil [we skipped the extra oil]. Add onion and pepper; cook and stir three to five minutes.
  4. Return meat to skillet. Stir in water and seasoning mix. Cook and stir three minutes or until heated through.
  5. Spoon into warm tortillas. Serve with toppings if desired.

The verdict: Super, super easy and totally delicious. It was especially good with fresh avocado and tomatoes. We used whole wheat tortillas, too, which made us feel virtuous. We will definitely be making this dish again.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Old Favorite: Thai Coconut Chicken

I found this recipe months ago, on a Weight Watchers recipe blog that I've been following ever since. I'd link to it, but I just tried to go there and Blogger informed me that the blog had been removed. I'm not sure why, since it was there yesterday, but for now I'll just reproduce the recipe with my modifications, and if the recipe blog ever comes back, I'll add the link then.

Anyway, this recipe is one of our favorites, and one of the only ways that Torsten likes chicken. I modified the recipe to make it a bit lower-calorie, and the result is a slightly soupier version of the original recipe. I actually like it that way, and have also found that if you soak the rice in the sauce for a few minutes before serving, it becomes much less liquidy and much more like the original.

Thai Coconut Chicken: Makes 4 servings; 8 WW points per serving


  • 1 pound skinless chicken breast, sliced into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 (13 1/2 ounce) can light coconut milk [The original recipe called for regular coconut milk, which has about triple the fat and calories of light coconut milk. Light coconut milk is not as creamy as regular, but the trade-off is totally worth it. Also, the 8 points per serving is assuming you use light coconut milk; if you use regular, the points are much higher.]
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded
  • 1/2 cup frozen English peas [I don't like peas, so I leave this out.]
  • 1/2 cup canned water chestnuts
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fish stock
  • 1 to 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 limes, quartered (optional)
  • 3/4 cup uncooked white or jasmine rice [I only use this much to keep down points. If you aren't particularly worried about that, I'd use a bit more rice.]
  1. In the bottom of a pot, stir together the red curry paste and a little coconut milk to combine.
  2. Saute the chicken until cooked through.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients except the rice and simmer for about 10 minutes (or until the peas are cooked and the sauce has reduced and thickened to desired consistency).
  4. Serve over hot rice with lime wedges. [This is where I mix the rice and curry together and let it sit for five to ten minutes so that the rice will absorb some of the liquid--you can see the difference in the two photos I've linked to.]

The verdict: This is one of our absolute favorite dishes. We have it at least once every two weeks and we never seem to get sick of it. The flavor is delicious and could pass for coming out of a restaurant, in my humble opinion. The cooking method keeps the chicken tender and moist, and the coconut milk makes the sauce nice and creamy. Plus, it's super easy to make--you essentially just dump a bunch of ingredients in a pan and stir. I do not plan on removing this dish from our rotation any time soon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New Recipe: Garlic Cream Shrimp

Last night, we had some shrimp that we had to cook but neither of us was in the mood for the enchiladas I was going to make with it. So I decided to go out on a limb and attempt to modify a shrimp recipe that I had been eyeing in order to make it work with the limited ingredients we had on hand.

Bad. Idea. Rule number one of experimental cooking: Rice and pasta are not interchangeable. But I think the original recipe might have been tasty, so I'm going to post it here.

Garlic Cream Shrimp: Makes 4 servings; 10 WW points per serving

  • 12 oz uncooked rigatoni [We didn't have rigatoni so I used rice instead. DO NOT RECOMMEND. To get the amount, I calculated the equivalent WW points of 12 oz. of rigatoni and came up with 1 3/4 cups of uncooked rice.]
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large sweet red pepper, chopped [I skipped this because I don't like peppers.]
  • 4 Tbsp reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup wine, white, dry [We didn't have white wine so I used chicken broth instead, and added extra to try to keep the rice moist.]
  • 1 pound shrimp, medium, flesh only or 2 lbs, peeled and deveined [I used one pound of shrimp, weighed with the shells on. I guess that's less than the recipe actually calls for. Whoops.]
  • 4 medium scallions, chopped [We didn't have scallions so I just used a bunch of dried herbs and spices to add flavor.]
  • 2 Tbsp parsley, chopped [We didn't have this either, so I used fresh basil instead.]
  1. Cook rigatoni according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Coat a nonstick pan with cooking spray, heat and add onions, garlic and pepper.
  3. Cook for 2 minutes, lower heat and stir in sour cream and wine.
  4. Add shrimp and cook until pink. [I also added some seasoning, and then fresh basil, at this point.]
  5. Stir in rigatoni, scallions and parsley and warm through.

The verdict: Oh my god, sticky and mushy like risotto gone wrong, and super bland despite all the spices I added. Only copious amounts of shredded Parmesan and ground pepper salvaged this meal. But if I'd made it using the original recipe and put it over pasta, as directed, it could potentially have had merit. The white wine would have given it a bit more flavor, and the pasta wouldn't have absorbed all the sauce the way the rice did. Still, I don't think we'll be trying this recipe again. If anyone does try the original recipe, please let me know how it turns out!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

New Recipe: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last night, the lovely and charming Alice came over for a brief baking session. In her honor, I forewent my usual Weight Watchers recipes in favor of something totally, incredibly unhealthy. In fact, I have no idea what the Weight Watchers points are, and really I think that's probably for the best.

This was my first experience baking with oatmeal, and I was a little nervous, but Alice assured me that it was an easy ingredient, and it turned out she was right. The cookies were very easy to make (as most cookies seem to be), and they turned out absolutely delicious. We used this recipe, but substituted chocolate chips for butterscotch ones.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies: Makes 48 cookies (or, in our case, 18)

  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups quick-cooking or regular rolled oats, uncooked
  • 1-3/4 cups (11-oz. pkg.) HERSHEY'S Butterscotch Chips [We used about six ounces of chocolate chips instead.]
  1. Heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in large bowl until well blended.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.
  4. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended.
  5. Stir in oats and butterscotch chips; mix well. [We got confused and mixed the chips and oatmeal with the other dry ingredients before adding them to the butter mixture. No harm done. We were just mixed very gently when we combined the ingredients and everything turned out fine.]
  6. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. [Try multiple tablespoons per drop. What can I say? We like our cookies big. Also, we only had two cookie sheets at our disposal.]
  7. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

The verdict: Oh my god SO GOOD. For all the calories, they should be, and yes, yes they are. I could happily eat these forever. Too bad my waistline wouldn't agree.

Monday, June 30, 2008

New Recipe: Baked Beef Ziti

Torsten and I eat spaghetti a lot, and this recipe looked like a great way to add a twist to one of our regular meals. It called for quite a lot of pasta and not very much meat, though, so I wound up modifying the amounts a fair bit to achieve a bit more of a balance.

Baked Beef Ziti: Makes 8 servings; 5 WW points per serving


  • 12 oz uncooked ziti [I used 7 ounces of whole wheat rigatoni.]
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 pound raw lean ground beef [I used one pound of ground beef at 7% fat.]
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary [I didn't have rosemary, so I used dried basil instead.]
  • 1/2 tsp table salt [I didn't put in salt but I did add onion powder and garlic powder, as well as a few red pepper flakes for some bite.]
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded [I stuck to this amount for WW reasons, but if you aren't particularly calorie-conscious, I'd recommend using more, just to add to the cheesy goodness.]
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat; add garlic and sauté 2 minutes.
  4. Add beef and cook until browned, breaking up meat with a spoon as it cooks, about 3 to 5 minutes; drain off any fat and set pan back over medium heat.
  5. Add oregano, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper; stir to coat beef. Cook until herbs become fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add tomatoes and bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Spoon a small amount of beef-tomato mixture into bottom of a 4-quart casserole dish (just enough to cover surface) [I didn't have a four-quart casserole dish, so I used a flatter baking dish, which made the layers feel a bit sparse, but it was still delicious]; top with half of cooked ziti.
  8. Next, layer with half of remaining beef-tomato sauce and half of mozzarella cheese. Layer with remaining ziti and then top with remaining beef-tomato sauce; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.
  9. Bake until cheese is golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes.

The verdict: This was great, and also very simple to make. This version was definitely heavy on the beef, which I like personally, so I liked the proportions of beef and pasta; I think it worked a lot better than the initial amounts the recipe called for would have, and with the whole wheat pasta and very lean beef, the points work out to be about the same both ways. We will definitely be making this one again.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Old Favorite: Pork Lo Mein

The first time I made this recipe, we didn't like it that much. It was very bland, and neither of us is a big fan of pork. But I liked the concept, so I reworked it a little and it has since become one of our favorite dishes. We use ostrich instead of pork, but if you like pork, I imagine that's just as good, and definitely less expensive.

Pork Lo Mein: Makes 4 servings; 7 WW points per serving

  • 8 oz uncooked whole-wheat spaghetti, or buckwheat soba noodles [I use chuka soba chow mein noodles, which aren't quite as healthy but are well suited to the dish.]
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced [I press garlic instead of mincing it because it's much easier.]
  • 1 Tbsp ginger root, fresh, minced [I use pre-minced ginger from a jar. Fresh ginger is a huge pain to work with.]
  • 1 pound lean pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes [I use ostrich fillets instead.]
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots [I don't like carrots, so I skip these.]
  • 1/2 cup onions, diced [I just use one onion and don't measure exactly how much it is.]
  • 1 cup fat-free chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • [I also add a bit of Asian hot sauce, a bit of Thai fish oil, and a few other seasonings, such as onion powder, to spice this dish up a bit.]
  • 2 Tbsp scallions, chopped (for garnish) [I don't bother with this.]
  1. Cook noodles according to package directions; drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and ginger; cook 1 minute.
  3. Add pork [ostrich] and cook, stirring occasionally, until pork is golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. [When cooking with ostrich, the cooking time needs to be adjusted so that the meat doesn't wind up overcooked and chewy.]
  4. Add carrots and onion; cook until vegetables are soft, about 2 minutes. Add broth and soy sauce [this is when I add the other sauces and seasoning as well]; simmer until pork is cooked through, about 5 minutes more.
  5. Add noodles to pork mixture and cook 1 to 2 minutes to heat through. Garnish with freshly chopped scallions, if desired. Yields about 2 cups per serving.

The verdict: Obviously, like I said, we love this dish. The meal is light and yummy and very easy to make. When we're in a recipe rut we often wind up eating this dish at least once a week.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New Recipe: Chicken, Scallion, and Artichoke Stir-Fry

So, when I came across this recipe I was eager to try it. I love artichokes and almost anything Asian, and the directions were very simple--there was little involved other than dumping a bunch of ingredients in a pan. It sounded perfect. Unfortunately, it wasn't. Although I think the recipe would be salvageable if it were done differently.

As usual, I've added the photos to my cooking set on Flickr.

Chicken, scallion, and artichoke stir-fry: Makes 6 servings; 6 WW points per serving

  • 1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, very thinly sliced
  • 1 pound scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces [I didn't have a full pound, so I just used one bunch.]
  • 27 1/2 oz canned artichoke hearts, without oil [I drained and rinsed them before cooking.]
  • 1/2 cup Asian stir-fry sauce
  • 4 cup cooked linguine [I used whole wheat linguine. Also, I think that there are about 2 ounces of uncooked pasta per one cup of cooked pasta. But I'm not sure.]
  • 4 medium radishes, thinly sliced [I skipped this.]
  • Cooking spray
  1. Warm a large, nonstick pan coated with cooking spray over high heat.
  2. Add chicken, scallions, and artichokes and stir-fry until chicken is firm and opaque, about 10 minutes. [It didn't take nearly ten minutes to cook the chicken over high heat.]
  3. Add sauce and cook until hot, about 2 minutes more. [Because the chicken cooked so much faster than the recipe said, I wound up adding the sauce and simmering it for more than two minutes.]
  4. Spoon chicken mixture over noodles and garnish with radishes. [As I said, I skipped the radishes.]

The verdict: One of the rare recipe disappointments we've had recently. The concept was really nice and the food looked and smelled great. But the dish was just way, way too salty. I think the culprit must have been the stir-fry sauce, which we hadn't tried before. I don't know if I used too much of it (though I followed the recipe exactly), or if I just picked the wrong sauce. But afterward, both of our tongues were totally coated with salt. If I were to make the dish again, I would choose a different sauce or make one myself. But considering how many other dishes we've had recently that we really enjoyed, I doubt we'll be trying this one again.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

New Recipe: Chicken Parmigiana

I had defrosted some chicken breasts to make Thai coconut chicken, one of our favorite dishes, on Friday night, but as I was sorting through my pile of recipes I came across a new one I hadn't tried yet, chicken parmigiana. It looked yummy and I had all the ingredients plus plenty of time, so I figured I'd try that one instead. It turned out to be a great idea. I even remembered to take photos. I've added them to my cooking set over on Flickr.

Chicken Parmigiana: Makes 4 servings; 5 WW points per serving

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly pounded (four 4-oz pieces) [I used thin-sliced chicken breasts instead of pounding them myself.]
  • 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs [I didn't measure--I just dumped a bunch in a bowl so that I'd have enough to coat the chicken.]
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning [Instead of using pre-mixed Italian seasoning, I added basil, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, and ground black pepper.]
  • 1/2 tsp table salt, or to taste [I skipped this.]
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup canned tomato sauce [The baking pan I was using was bigger than the one the recipe called for, so I used 2 cups of tomato sauce to make sure the whole thing was coated.]
  • 1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded [I used a bit more than this.]
  • 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray. [I didn't have a square dish so I used a slightly larger rectangular one.]
  • Place egg whites in a shallow bowl. Combine bread crumbs with Italian seasoning and salt; pour into another shallow bowl. Dip chicken in egg whites; turn to coat. Dip chicken in bread crumb mixture; turn to thoroughly coat.
  • Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and add oil; heat over medium-high heat. When hot, add chicken and cook until lightly browned and no longer pink in center, about 4 minutes per side.
  • Pour 1/2 cup of sauce [I used about a cup] into prepared baking dish; place chicken in dish and pour remaining sauce evenly over chicken. Sprinkle with cheeses and bake until chicken is cooked through and cheese is bubbly, about 25 minutes.
I served the chicken over whole wheat linguine; if you use six ounces (uncooked), it adds 3 WW points per serving.

The verdict: When Torsten got home, looking forward to the coconut chicken, and I told him I'd made something else instead, he was disappointed. But once he tasted it, he changed his mind. The recipe turned out to be delicious, and also very simple to make. We will definitely be making this one again--I'd say soon, but we've been saying that a lot this week, and there aren't enough days "soon" to fit everything in.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

New Recipe: Baked Fish and Chips

Torsten used to live in London and has fond memories of fish and chips, so he was excited about this recipe. Plus we actually both prefer baked French fries to fried ones. The grocery store didn't have cod when we were there, so I used catfish instead, even though that has more points. Also, I forgot to take photos. Sorry! Maybe I'll take some photos the next time I make this recipe and then update this post.

Baked Fish and Chips: Makes 4 servings; 5 WW points per serving

  • 4 sprays olive oil cooking spray
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 8 wedges each [I didn't peel the potatoes because we both like skin-on fries, and also potato skins have a lot of nutrients. Also, there were more than eight wedges per potato.]
  • 1/4 tsp table salt, or more to taste (enough for potatoes and fish)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, or to more taste (enough for potatoes and fish)
  • 1/4 cup fat-free skim milk
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 20 oz uncooked cod, four 5 oz fillets
  • 4 Tbsp red wine vinegar [This is for dipping, and we used ketchup instead.]


  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Coat 2 large baking sheets with cooking spray.
  2. Place potato wedges on one baking sheet and lightly coat with cooking spray; season to taste with salt and pepper. [I didn't use salt but I did use a few other spices, such as paprika and onion powder. In retrospect maybe I shouldn't have seasoned the fries with those things until they were already baked, because the spices got burnt in the oven and turned all black. But they were still tasty.] Bake until golden brown and tender, about 45 minutes.
  3. Whisk milk and mustard together in a shallow dish. Place bread crumbs in another shallow dish and put flour in a third shallow dish. [By the way, I didn't measure any of these ingredients exactly. I just put them in bowls for dredging the fish and added more when I ran out.]
  4. Season both sides of fish with salt and pepper. Place fish in flour and turn to coat. Place fish in milk mixture and turn to coat. Place fish in bread crumbs and turn to coat.
  5. Transfer fish to second prepared baking sheet and lightly coat with cooking spray. Bake fish until fork-tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Serve fish and potato wedges with vinegar on the side.

This dish was so easy to make! It was super fast (I think that's part of why I forgot to take pictures) to prepare, too. The only tough part was waiting for it to bake because the fries took so long and we were very hungry. Also, I'm not good at telling when things are done being baked, and I took the fries out too soon, then had to put them back in. (Impatience might have been a factor in that decision, too.) And it was delicious. The fries were really yummy, and the breading on the fish was flavorful and crispy--it was hard to tell it hadn't actually been fried!

Verdict: The meal was well worth the wait! Another one for the "make again soon" pile.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New recipes: Seared tuna and beggar's purses

So last night as I was cooking and photographing the process, I realized that this blog may have a fantastic but unintended side effect: it will force us to keep the kitchen clean. It's bad enough that the photo down below shows off our inability to take out old newspapers often enough, but if our kitchen were messy I simply would not be able to post pictures of it. So, here's motivation to clean it every single day, for REAL this time.

Anyway, last night I made two recipes: quick-seared tuna and mushroom and goat cheese beggar's purses. The two didn't really feel like they would go well together, but they were about the right amount of Weight Watchers points for a meal and we wanted to try both of them, so I figured we'd just make them anyway and ignore the fact that they didn't really fit. Except that bizarrely, they did wind up kind of fitting together.

So first, the beggar's purses, and keep in mind that this recipe as I'm publishing it makes two, but the way I cooked it I made three (one to bring to work for lunch tomorrow). Also, all links in the instructions go to Flickr photos of the step described. Or you can see the full set here.

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Beggar's Purses: Makes 2 servings; 6 WW points per serving

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped [I used a whole onion.]
  • 1 cup mushrooms, any kind, chopped [I used a pre-sliced assortment of shiitake, baby bella, and oyster mushrooms.]
  • 1/3 cup arugula [I didn't have arugula so I just used mixed greens, and I didn't measure--I just grabbed a handful.]
  • 4 sheets phyllo dough, at room temperature [I wound up using twelve for my three purses, but I think they were smaller than the ones this recipe was talking about.]
  • 2 oz soft-type goat cheese, or brie, divided [I used goat cheese, not brie, and three ounces, one per purse.]


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F; spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Sauté onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the arugula and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes.
  3. Place the sheets of phyllo on a work surface and cover them with a damp towel. Stack 2 sheets and spray with butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray. Stack the remaining 2 sheets directly on top and spray them. Cut the phyllo into two 12 x 8 1/2 inch rectangles. [I don't think my sheets of phyllo were the same size as the ones this recipe discusses. I didn't cut them. I just used four sheets per beggar's purse. Also, I didn't really understand the point of the damp towel. I just pulled sheets out of the package as I needed them.]
  4. Place goat cheese in the center of each phyllo; top with mushroom mixture. Pull up corners of phyllo and twist, forming packets that look like drawstring pouches; place on the baking sheet and spray the tops lightly with butter-flavored spray. [I used olive oil-flavored spray throughout this recipe, because it was all I had.]
  5. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. [Ours were golden brown after ten, at least on top, which was the barometer I was using. But I think our stove and oven are off, temperature-wise, because nothing ever takes as long to cook as the recipe says it will.]

I thought I might have trouble making this, because the recipe sounded a little daunting, but actually it was really easy. Just saute a few things, put them on the phyllo dough, scrunch up the dough, bake, and you're done! And they came out totally delicious.

Verdict: We added this recipe to our "make again soon" pile, and Torsten is already asking me when I'm going to make it again.

Now, onto the steaks. Here I only used a pound of tuna instead of a pound and a half, in order to make three servings.

Quick Seared Tuna Steaks: Makes 4 servings; 5 WW points per serving


  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice [I used one lime. I didn't measure exactly how much juice there was.]
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds raw tuna (four 6-oz steaks)
  • 1/4 tsp salt [I skipped the salt, which I usually do unless I'm baking.]
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, coarsely ground


  1. Combine sherry, soy sauce, and lime juice in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. [I didn't notice it said this until just now. I stirred with a regular spoon.] Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper; add steaks to pan. Cook 4 minutes on each side until steaks are medium-rare or desired degree of doneness. Transfer steaks to a serving dish, and keep warm.
  3. Pour sherry mixture into pan. Cook 1 to 11⁄2 minutes or until reduced to 2 tablespoons, stirring to deglaze pan; pour over steaks.

This recipe was super, super easy. Just mix a few liquids, toss some fish in a pan, wait a few minutes, and you're done. And tuna is really healthy. Plus, the glaze has a nice flavor.

Verdict: We will definitely be making this dish again.

And lastly, the finished meal:

Monday, June 16, 2008

New Recipe: Asian Beef Salad

So, although this was to be expected after a year on Weight Watchers, Torsten and I have found ourselves in kind of a recipe rut recently. To fix this, we spent quite a bit of time searching for new recipes last week, and unearthed quite a few. Then we booked a Zipcar for a solid two hours, enough time for leisurely trips to both Whole Foods and Giant, and purchased a whole bunch of ingredients to make these new meals.

That trip, incidentally, reminded me of how good it is to finally have a nicely stocked kitchen. We had many, many of the staple ingredients required for the new recipes. A lot of what we had to buy was produce, or different types of meat, or ingredients for a new sauce. Things that we didn't already have around. But we didn't have to buy flour, or pasta, or spices, or oil. Things that I used to buy on an as-needed basis, resulting in daily trips to the grocery store and an excess amount of money going toward groceries, especially when I inadvertently bought something we already had. Which is why we now have three jars of bay leaves in our cabinet.

Anyway! On with the point of this post, the recipe. This is one of the first recipes that we tried, and although I was not on the ball enough to take pictures as I was doing it, it was totally worth posting about because it was delicious. I will print the recipe as I found it, with my own commentary and adjustments in italics.

Asian Beef Salad: Makes 4 servings; 8 WW points per serving

  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar [Torsten doesn't like vinegar, so I didn't bother buying rice wine vinegar just for this. Instead I used some red wine vinegar we already had, and not nearly as much as the recipe called for.]
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp peanut oil [I couldn't find this at the store, so I substituted sesame oil we already had.]
  • 1 pound lean sirloin beef [I used three quarters of a pound because it was only for the two of us and it was a Friday night, meaning I couldn't bring the leftovers to work the next day for lunch.]
  • 8 cups mixed greens [I used as much as fit in the salad bowl I had, which was probably more like four cups.]
  • 1 cup canned unsweetened mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1/3 cup packaged chow mein noodles
  1. Combine garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, oil and hoisin sauce in a large bowl [I also added a splash of Asian hot sauce for a bit of extra bite.] Add steak. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours or overnight. Remove steak to plate; reserve marinade.
  2. Preheat grill or broiler. Grill or broil steak for 8 minutes on each side for medium or longer until desired doneness. Remove and slice steak into thin strips. [The piece of steak I had was very wide and thin, and I couldn't figure out how to get the whole thing into the liquid to marinate, so I chopped it ahead of time and reduced the amount of cooking time to make up for it. I broiled it for about six minutes without turning it and it came out very slightly overcooked.]
  3. Meanwhile, pour reserved marinade into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute more, stirring occasionally.
  4. To serve, place 2 cups greens on each of 4 plates. Top each with about 3 ounces of steak, 1/4 cup of oranges and 1 heaping tablespoon of noodles; drizzle each with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of cooked and cooled marinade. [I just mixed everything in the salad bowl ahead of time, except the chow mein noodles, which we each sprinkled individually on our own plates. Also, I like warm salad, and the beef was hot anyway, so I didn't bother waiting for the marinade to cool completely before I added it to the salad.]

And it came out delicious! The sauce was tangy and delicious and served as a great dressing, the beef was tender even though I probably should only have broiled it for five minutes, the oranges added a nice sweet aspect to the whole thing (and I'm not usually big on sweet/savory combinations), and the chow mein noodles were deliciously crunchy. Plus the whole thing was super easy and quick to make. It was a great meal for a summer evening; light, but also totally filling.

Verdict: This recipe has been added to the pile of recipes to use again. And we will likely do so soon.