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.