Weight Watchers – Week Six

Here is this week’s pick for suggested Weight Watchers friendly entrees.  If you aren’t a part of the Weight Watcher program, these meals should also work well for you, being relatively low in calories, fat and sugar.  I want to start featuring only recipes that one of us have made, although I can’t guarantee that will be the case.  I have gone back and tried some of the recipes I have featured after the fact, and although most of them are winners, there are several that were disappointing.  Please give me feedback if you try any of them, especially if you modify them.
Hamburger Gravy – 7 points (add 2 cups frozen mixed veggies, use fat free soup, serving size is 1/4 recipe). Be sure and cook long enough for the frozen veggies to get done, and you may need to add a little water.  Serve over 1/2 cup of rice or egg noodles, 3/4 cup of boiled potatoes (3 points each), or a slice of bread (2 points).  Add-ons for family could be bread, additional veggies and/or dessert.
Baked Ham -2 points (3 oz serving).  Lean ham is very low in points and can add lots of flavor to an omelet, scrambled eggs, a sandwich, etc.  I bought a shank portion half a ham yesterday for $1.79 a pound.  Some of that weight is bone, but I like to use that for cooking beans or as a soup base.  If you don’t want to buy the larger amount, get a ham steak and heat it in a skillet with a little Pam.  Serve with a baked sweet potato (3 points for one small one) and roasted veggies prepared with a quick spray of Pam instead of added oil ( add 2 tsp. of olive oil per serving for 3 added points and more taste). I slice the leftover ham and package in about 6 oz. packages, then put them all in a large freezer-safe container and freeze.  Makes it really easy to grab what you need for a quick meal. Add-ons for family could be potato salad, cole slaw, bread and/or dessert.

Roasted Chicken – 3 points (3 oz of mixed dark and white meat without skin).  All white meat would be slightly less and all dark meat would be slightly more.  Roast your own, cook in a slow cooker, or buy one already cooked (Costco has the best and least expensive).  Serve with a salad with a reduced fat dressing (2 points), and Stovetop prepared stuffing mix (3 points for 1/4 pouch) or a  baked or boiled potato (4 points for one small) with 1 teaspoon butter or 2 tablespoons reduced fat sour cream or feta cheese (2 points). The leftover chicken is also useful as a base for a number of other meals, and don’t throw away the bones and scraps.  Use them to make your own chicken broth. Add-ons for family could be biscuits, dinner rolls or other bread, and/or dessert.
Salmon Patties – 4 points (1/8 recipe).  Beat 2 eggs well, and add chopped onions. chopped green pepper (optional), 1 cup bread crumbs, salt and pepper and mix well.  Drain an 8-oz can of salmon and add to the mixture, mixing well.  Form into 8 patties (if the patties won’t stay together, add more bread crumbs.  It also helps to let the mixture sit for a few minutes to let the crumbs absorb the liquid.  Fry in 2 tablespoons of oil until brown on both sides and set in the middle.  Subtract one point if you fry with only a little Pam.  Serve with 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes (4 points), and a salad or side veggie dish. (These patties are also good cold in sandwiches.) Add-ons for family could be bread and/or dessert.
Southwestern Stuffed Peppers – 8 points (1 whole pepper). To get this point count, use only 4 teaspoons oil in recipe and sprinkle 1/4 oz of sharp cheddar on each pepper half.  If you have never tried quinoa, you should.  It is a good source of protein and can pretty much be used interchangeably with rice. Add-ons for family could be a side dish of meat, bread and/or dessert.
Pasta e Fagioli –  8 points (1/8 recipe, use 1/2 amount of pasta).  This recipe calls for it to be cooked on the stove top, but it could easily be made in a slow cooker. To make in slow cooker, saute the garlic as specified and then add everything to slow cooker except pasta and cook on low 6-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours.  Add 1/2 oz Parmesan cheese to your serving for an additional 2 points.  Add-ons for family could be crusty bread and/or dessert.

Meatballs Galore

Earlier this week we talked about freezing anything.  I make these meatballs from Budget Bytes on a regular basis. In the past, I have made a double or triple batch, cooking them, and freezing the cooked meatballs in smaller portions. But honestly, cooking all those meatballs is a pain and sometimes I think they come out a bit drier that way too, so I’ve been searching for a new way to cook all those meatballs (see below) .

Most often we use them to make spaghetti and meatballs, but I’ve used them for several different dishes, including meatball subs and Salisbury steak meatballs. This recipe calls for ground beef and Italian sausage, but I have used Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage, and substitute tiny diced mushrooms for some of the meat. You could also substitute ground turkey for the beef. If you cook according to the meatballs according to the recipes, there are 9 Weight Watcher Smart Points for a serving of 4 meatballs, but if you substitute ground turkey and turkey Italian sausage and skip frying the meatballs before baking,which I often do for convenience anyway, it is only 6 points per serving of 4 meatballs. (This is assuming you get 40 meatballs per recipe as called for in the recipe.)  Frying the meatballs helps provide more texture, but doesn’t really change the flavor. There is literally no difference in taste when using turkey and, of course, the point count would be even lower if you substitute  mushrooms for some of the meat. 

The original recipe calls for tossing the meatballs in flour, searing in oil on the stove, then baking in the oven. You can cook them this way. This removes much of the grease. My personal preference is to place them on drying racks, to keep them up out of the grease.

To freeze the uncooked meatballs, follow the recipe, coat in flour and put on baking pan in the freezer. Freeze for approx 4 hours, then remove and quickly place in a freezer safe container.

To cook, you can stack in a slow-cooker with sauce and cook on low for 6-8 hours until done. Unfortunately, this results in a really greasy sauce. I cook in half or a quarter of the amount of sauce I would serve it with. Once cooked, I remove the meatballs and put in some fresh sauce.

You can also bake from frozen. Bake at the same temperature, for approximately 1.5 the normal amount of time. (I baked mine for 1hr and 15min). I cooked them on a broiler pan. They were perfect! This pan drips off all the grease, and is super easy to clean.

Weight Watchers Meals, Week 1

Several of us who are doing Weight Watchers online have formed our own group to plan some weekly meals that are reasonably easy to fix and with points already figured.  I am going to try posting here each week as a central place to plan six main meals each week, add notes on what to add to make the meals family-friendly, and share links to the recipes when needed.

Asian Ground Beef & Cabbage – 10 points.  The recipe can be found here.  This is a very generous and filling portion (1 serving = 1/2 recipe).  Suggested add-ons for the family would be rice and/or dessert.

Fish & Shrimp Packets – 7 points.  The recipe can be found here.  Some easy add-ons to make it more filling and/or appealing to the family would be rice, potatoes, additional veggies, bread and/or dessert.
Homemade Fried Rice – 7 points.  More information can be found here.  This is a great way to use up any small amounts of leftovers. The point total is using one cup of rice and about 1 more cup of additional veggies (no meat), but it can easily be adapted to include any kind of vegetables or cooked meat.  If the veggies are raw, they need to be briefly sauteed before adding the rice, and if they are cooked, add them at the end and cook just until heated through.

Tuna Salad – 5 points.  Drain and mix a 4 oz. can of tuna with 1 tablespoon of mayo, some sweet or dill relish and finely chopped onion.  Serve with 6 whole-grain crackers (3 points) or over lettuce. Suggested add-ons to make it family friendly could be bread (to make it into a sandwich), chips,  and dessert.

Oven Baked Pork Chops – 4 points (3 oz of meat without bone). The instructions are here. Serve with a salad with 2 tablespoons light dressing (2 points).  Suggested add-ons for the family would be rice, potatoes, bread, and/or dessert.

White Bean Chicken Chili (Slow Cooker) – 7 points.  The recipe is here.  Suggested toppings are sharp cheddar (1/2 oz = 2 points), lite sour cream (2 tablespoons = 1 point) or chopped cilantro. Suggested add-ons would be crusty bread, cornbread, tortilla chips, and/or dessert.

Here is my first attempt at this.  I welcome any suggestions or constructive criticism!

Taco Casserole

As I was rummaging through my refrigerator and freezer, I came across the makings for a simple but tasty casserole.  I had a few corn tortillas that were past their prime, some cheddar cheese, salsa, leftover taco meat and some red beans that I had cooked from scratch.  That’s all I needed to put together a taco casserole.
Taco Casserole

  • 2 cups ground beef, browned (or leftover taco meat)
  • 2 cups cooked beans (pinto, red, black, white, or whatever you have on hand)
  • 6-8 corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover bottom of a 8″x8″ casserole dish with a thin layer of salsa. Cover that with a single layer of corn tortillas, tearing as necessary to fit. Add 1/2 the meat, beans and cheese, spreading it out evenly. Add another layer of tortillas, then meat, beans and cheese. Feel free to add more salsa on each layer if you like. It would also be good with cooked corn added to the layers if you have some. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Take foil off and bake for another 5-10 minutes until bubbly and starting to brown. Cut into squares and serve. It is good just as is, but adding any combination of chopped tomatoes, sour cream or feta cheese, shredded lettuce, chopped onions, or fresh chopped cilantro really takes it over the top.

#TBT – Fast & Easy Hamburger Gravy

Here is another easy summertime meal, and as a bonus, it is a great way to use up little bits of leftover vegetables that may be lurking in your refrigerator. It was also a favorite with my kids when they were growing up, and was simple for them to fix when they were old enough to be able to cook on their own.
For the original post, click here.

Easy Beef Stroganoff

Here is another quick and easy meal using homemade Cream of Mushroom soup.  I usually use ground beef since that is what I typically have on hand, but you can use beef tips or steak cut in thin strips across the grain.  I prefer to serve it over cooked noodles, but it is also good over rice, biscuits, mashed potatoes or even just a slice of bread.

Easy Beef Stroganoff

Brown the beef, saute the raw mushrooms until they release their liquid (if using raw), and then combine all the ingredients except the sour cream and heat until bubbling. If you add peas, use fresh or frozen. Remove from heat, stir in the sour cream and heat (do not boil). If you use canned peas, add them along with the sour cream, but they still tend to be very soft. Serve over noodles, rice, biscuits, etc.  This is great leftover, but do not freeze because the sour cream separates.