Weight Watchers – Week 10

Easy Beef Stroganoff – 6 points (1/4 recipe, 1/2 lb beef, 3/4 cup light sour cream, reduced fat soup).  Serve over rice (3 points for 1/2 cup), noodles (3 points for 1/2 cup) or crusty bread (2 points per slice). Serve with a salad, fruit or veggie side dish.  Add-ons for family could include bread and/or dessert.

Pork ribs & sauerkraut – 6 points (4 oz of rib meat).  You can cook the potatoes in the slow cooker, cutting them in chunks and putting them in first, but I prefer to cook them separately. I like to put the sauerkraut over the potatoes, so you get a bite of combined potato and kraut.  If you don’t like sauerkraut, try this anyways.  During the cooking the kraut becomes much milder tasting and the meat picks up a great taste.

Chicken Fingers – 3 points (4 oz meat, 1/2 tablespoon oil per serving). Cut chicken breast into strips and coat with Louisiana Crispy Fish Fry  mix (no other seasoning needed).  The link is there to show you what the package looks like – it can be found in most grocery stores. Fry briefly in a small amount of oil (only takes a few minutes). You could also bake them with a spray of Pam. This is a sure-fire winner with both kids and adults. Add a salad or raw veggie tray with homemade Ranch dressing (2 tablespoons are 1 point), oven fries ( 6 points for medium potato + 1/2 tablespoon of oil), or rice (1/2 cup is 3 points). Family add-ons could include bread and/or dessert.



Easy Breaded Shrimp – 4 points (4 oz shrimp per serving).  I made this for Kayte and I, using some fairly small shrimp she had on hand and Panko bread crumbs.  We didn’t have the lemon called for so I used lemon pepper instead.  They were delicious, but would have been even better with larger shrimp.  I also used a good spray of Pam on both sides of the shrimp instead of olive oil, and turned the shrimp when the bottoms got brown.  We served it with a raw veggie selection with homemade Ranch dressing (1 point for 2 tablespoons). Family add-ons could be rice, potatoes, bread, potato salad, cole slaw, and/or dessert.  (This is low enough points you could choose to have something from this list, too.)

Chipotle Butternut Squash Chili – 6 points. (1/4 recipe without toppings).  Add avocado (2 points for 1/4), light sour cream (2 points for 2 tablespoons), cheese (2 points for 1/2 oz) or other toppings.  Rachael made this and her family loved it, including the leftovers.  Read the blog post for more information.  Add ons for family could be tortilla chips, crusty bread, and/or dessert.

Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup – 5 points (1/8 recipe).  This is one of the best soups ever (and I usually don’t like soup)!  I made it on top of the stove instead of in the slow cooker.  I substituted diced tomatoes and their juice for the tomato sauce and used broccoli rabe, but you could easily use other greens such as spinach or kale, and other veggies.  Add ons for family could be crackers, biscuits, bread, and/or dessert.

Chipotle Butternut Squash Chile

One of my greatest loves during the fall and winter months is soup. Not broth. but chunky, hearty, filling soup. It’s easy, comforting and warms you up down to your toes. Soup leaves the kitchen smelling homey. It is easy to double or triple a batch for company. Easy to store, reheat and freeze…and you can cook it so many ways. If you search our posts, we have no shortages of soup here. While I can’t complain about the winter being warmer this year, it has left me less in the mood for soup.

Last week, though, I found myself craving a bowl. I ransacked my fridge to see what I had. Last year I made a delicious butternut squash black bean and quinoa chili, but have since lost the recipe. In my search, I stumbled upon this Chipotle Butternut Squash Chili with Avocado from Cookie & Kate. I already knew that butternut squash and black beans were an excellent combination, and I felt that you can’t really go wrong with chipotle and avocado, especially since I had recently learned to pick a perfectly ripe avocado. So I gave it a go…

Look at this deliciousness —- just screaming eat me

The results were far better than I hoped. We ate it back to back meals, and leftovers. My hubby was quite disappointed when it was all gone. The recipe calls for about an hour of cooking time and a half hour of prep, but I cut this way down, by throwing everything in the pressure cooker for 20 minutes. To adapt it for the pressure cooker, I started by sauteing onions, bell peppers and squash in a pan with olive oil. (Costco sells pre-cut squash!). Once soft, add garlic, chili powder, chipotle, cumin and cinnamon and just enjoy the fragrance. Add the bay leaf, black beans, tomatoes, and broth, put the lid on and cook for 20 minutes. At this point I simmered my chili for about 10 minutes until it was reduced, in the future I will put less liquid… though truth be told, I think pureeing it in a blender for a hearty creamy soup would also be absolutely scrumptious

There are notes on the original recipe, that you may be able to cook this in the slow cooker also.

You can top the chili with corn tortilla strips/chips, avocado, cheese, sour cream, red pepper flakes, cilantro, hot sauce or whatever else you think would be good. I topped mine with cheese, sour cream and avocado. Find the recipe here; and let us know what you think!

Chipotle Butternut Squash Chile

One of my greatest loves during the fall and winter months is soup. Not broth. but chunky, hearty, filling soup. It’s easy, comforting and warms you up down to your toes. Soup leaves the kitchen smelling homey. It is easy to double or triple a batch for company. Easy to store, reheat and freeze…and you can cook it so many ways. If you search our posts, we have no shortages of soup here. While I can’t complain about the winter being warmer this year, it has left me less in the mood for soup.

Last week, though, I found myself craving a bowl. I ransacked my fridge to see what I had. Last year I made a delicious butternut squash black bean and quinoa chili, but have since lost the recipe. In my search, I stumbled upon this Chipotle Butternut Squash Chili with Avocado from Cookie & Kate. I already knew that butternut squash and black beans were an excellent combination, and I felt that you can’t really go wrong with chipotle and avocado, especially since I had recently learned to pick a perfectly ripe avocado. So I gave it a go…

The results were far better than I hoped. We ate it back to back meals, and leftovers. My hubby was quite disappointed when it was all gone. The recipe calls for about an hour of cooking time and a half hour of prep, but I cut this way down, by throwing everything in the pressure cooker for 20 minutes. To adapt it for the pressure cooker, I started by sauteing onions, bell peppers and squash in a pan with olive oil. (Costco sells pre-cut squash!). Once soft, add garlic, chili powder, chipotle, cumin and cinnamon and just enjoy the fragrance. Add the bay leaf, black beans, tomatoes, and broth, put the lid on and cook for 20 minutes. At this point I simmered my chili for about 10 minutes until it was reduced, in the future I will put less liquid… though truth be told, I think pureeing it in a blender for a hearty creamy soup would also be absolutely scrumptious

There are notes on the original recipe, that you may be able to cook this in the slow cooker also.

You can top the chili with corn tortilla strips/chips, avocado, cheese, sour cream, red pepper flakes, cilantro, hot sauce or whatever else you think would be good. I topped mine with cheese, sour cream and avocado. Find the recipe here; and let us know what you think!

Weight Watchers – Week 9

Our goal is to test each recipe before sharing it here, and this week we were able to try four out of the six.  All of them were winners! In real life, we don’t eat six new dishes a week, but I love coming up with lots of options for everyone.

Beef Stir-fry Noodles – 7 points. (1/4 recipe with 1/2 the amount of noodles and lots of added veggies, no oil). This is very good but to make it filling, add a generous amount of veggies.  I cut the recipe in half and added a small crown of broccoli, five large mushrooms (sliced), about a cup of leftover kale salad, and 6-7 baby carrots cut into thin matchsticks.  It would also be good with thinly sliced peppers, snow peas, shredded cabbage and just about any other veggie you might have on hand.  I used 2 oz. of ramen noodles from the Asian market, but spaghetti or other  pasta would certainly work, and it doesn’t  need much. Family add ons could be bread, biscuits, and/or dessert.

Blackberry Sage Pork Chops – 7 points (1/4 recipe, sugar free jam). This is really good and simple to make. If you use thicker chops, return the chops to the skillet with the sauce to finish cooking. Serve with 1/2 cup rice (3 points), cauliflower rice, green salad, roasted veggies, or other veggie side dish.  Add -ons for family could be crusty bread, rice, buttered noodles, potatoes, and/or dessert.

 


One Skillet Chicken & Broccoli – 3 points (4 oz of chicken per serving). Serve with rice (1/2 cup is 3 points). I made this for Kayte and I, adding more veggies (mushrooms, red peppers) and without the celery because we didn’t have any.  I also substituted Thai Sweet Chili Sauce for the Sriracha, and it gave it a great taste.  Kayte agreed but said she would probably double the amount next time. Family add-ons could be more rice, potatoes, crusty bread and/or dessert.

Honey Sriracha Salmon – 8 points (1/4 recipe). Serve with roasted veggies, a green salad or the Cold Sesame Cucumber Noodle Salad (1 point for 1/4 recipe including all the optional ingredients) talked about in the blog post. Family add-ons could be sweet or white potato fries, rice, bread and/or dessert.

Taco Torte – 8 points (1/6 recipe, substituting 1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, corn tortillas, 3 cups of beans). If you eat 1/4 recipe, it would be 12 points. A green salad, some raw veggies or fruit on the side could make it more filling. We haven’t had a chance to try this one, yet, but it is bound to be good. Add ons for family could be Spanish rice, tortilla chips, a side of refried beans, and/or dessert.

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup – 5 points (1/8 recipe). We haven’t had a chance to try this one but it looks like it would be good.  If you make it, let us know how it turned out.  Unfortunately, I do not like butternut squash (gasp!) so I am leaning on Kayte or Rachael to try it out.  Rachael just made Butternut Squash Chili (recipe coming next week), so  this week they were both eating that. Add ons for family could be bread and/or dessert.

Weight Watchers – Week Eight


Hamburger Hash – 9 points. My mother used to make this, and it is quick and easy when you are out of inspiration and time.  Crumble and brown 1/4 lb ground beef for each serving, along with a generous amount of chopped onions (about 1/2 cup for 4 servings).  While meat is browning, peel and cut one medium potato per serving into thin slices.  When meat is brown, drain any extra grease, add potatoes, mix well, and add 1/2 cup of water.  Cover pan and simmer until water is gone and potatoes are tender. Serve with green or fruit salad or veggie side dish.  Add ons for family could be bread, biscuits, and/or dessert.
Bubble & Squeak – 8 points (2 links turkey breakfast sausage). This is an old English recipe I have been making for years.  Put link sausages in a skillet with about 1/4 cup of water, cover and cook until water is gone and sausage is done. Peel and quarter a small potato (138 grams) for each serving.  Cut a cabbage into wedges.  Boil potatoes and cabbage until just tender and drain.  Remove sausage from skillet and add potatoes and cabbage (spray skillet with Pam if needed) and continue to cook briefly, turning as they start to brown. Add sausage back to skillet, cover and remove from heat.  Let set for a minute or two (it loosens the brown bits on the bottom of the skillet). I like to sprinkle a little apple cider vinegar on my serving before eating.  Add ons for family could be bread and/or dessert.


Thai Sauteed Chicken with Basil – 4 points (1/4 recipe). Serve over 1/2 cup of rice (3 points). This recipe calls for both fish sauce and oyster sauce, which can be found at most grocery stores.  However, if you have access to an Asian store, get it there for a fraction of the price. Asparagus would be even better than green beans, but I only buy it when it is in season (early spring).  I used red pepper flakes instead of the Thai chili, and dried basil instead of fresh (about a tablespoon). Add ons for family could be extra rice, bread, and/or dessert.

Tuna salad sandwiches – 4 points (1/2 recipe).  Drain one 5 oz can water-packed tuna. Add one chopped hard-boiled egg, 2 tablespoons finely chopped onions, 2 tablespoons dill relish or chopped dill pickles, 4 tablespoons light mayo and 1 teaspoon of mustard.  Mix well and serve over shredded lettuce or as a sandwich filling.  I also like to add about a tablespoon of sunflower seeds (1 point) for some crunch. Add-ons for family could be chips, bread, French fries, and/or dessert.

Weeknight Enchiladas – 9 points (2 enchiladas).  If you cut the cheese in half, it would bring the points down to 7.  Use fat-free refried beans, or better yet, make your own – they are easy and much tastier. For a more authentic Mexican taste, use crumbled feta instead of pepper jack cheese, waiting to add the cheese on top until after baking.  Serve with salad.  Add ons for family could be Spanish rice, tortilla chips, and/or dessert.
Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup – 5 points (1/8 of recipe, includes 1/4 ozs parmesan sprinkled on top). This is a real keeper, and the point count is low enough you can easily add a slice of crusty bread or some crackers.  The recipe calls for it to be made in a slow cooker, but I did it on top of the stove, simmering it for several hours to fully develop the flavors.  However, it could be made in about 30 minutes if you are short on time. Add ons for family could be garlic bread, crackers, and/or dessert.

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.