Archive | April, 2010

“Mashed Potatoes” made with Cauliflower

30 Apr

I have never been a huge mashed potato fan. I LOVE potatoes (despite a childhood fear that they looked like… well… we won’t go there).  I love them baked and fried and especially roasted.  But it takes a special mashed version to tickle my fancy.  I find most too bland.  So for me, the exchange from mashed potato to mashed cauliflower was a no brainer.  And I could add garlic and cheese?! Score!

First I roasted up some garlic (cut the top of a garlic bulb off, wrap in foil, put a bit of olive oil on the top, close the foil, toss in pre-heated 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes… so many uses!).

Then I steamed up some cauliflower and put it into a bowl with 3/4 cup of fat free cheddar cheese, a half cup of skim milk, 1 Tablespoon butter (probably could have gone without) and the garlic cloves and used my (awesome) immersion blender to start pureeing (can also be done with a blender when it’s cooler and in batches… but why do that when you can get an immersion blender for $25??).

Within moments I had a perfect looking mashed potato-like veggie!  I saved some of the garlic cloves from the puree so I could mix them in whole.  Mmmmmm Nom Nom Nom.

Not too shabby for 5 points for half the recipe!

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Houndstooth Pub

28 Apr

When Mike suggested we go to a Pub in our neighborhood, at first I thought I couldn’t do that.But I embrace the Weight Watchers philosophy that you can eat whatever you’d like to as long as you honestly track it (everything has a point value) and then balance it.  Sure, you can have a giant piece of cake, but it could cost you your entire point value for the day.  You do that once or twice and you realize you’d much rather have something filling and then a bite of chocolate cake. It’s all about trade offs and balancing your food, like a bank account. I’ve realized the more honest I am about what I eat, the better I do (psss… 11 and a half pounds down!)

Houndstooth Pub is an unassuming bar and restaurant on 8th Ave between 36th and 37th.  Turns out, a lot of people go there for drinks. I never knew it was so hopping, but it was quite LOUD on this weekday night.  Luckily, their tables are a bit set back from the bar, so it wasn’t too bad and I didn’t notice the noise much after we tried to squeeze through the crowd to our table.

Mike saw frog’s legs on the menu and decided that this was the place for him to try them for the first time. Now I’ve never been a fan, but seriously? At a pub?!  I tried not to make too many faces… but I thought he was pretty f-in crazy (sorry honey!)

I tried one… it was pretty bad. The frog meat was pretty greasy and rubbery (how I remember frog usually being) and the breading just tasted stale.  Bleh.  Mike tried a few… and then that was it.  Poor Kermy…

Mike chose the Grilled Marinated Chicken Breast, Homemade Mozzarella, Arugula & Onions, served on Toasted Rosemary Herb Bread with Mission Olive Mayo.  The menu says sweet potato fries, but clearly they were not.  The sandwich was good for pub food. Juicy and flavorful.

I went bold (perhaps inspired by Mike’s frogs leg choice) and went with a stew. I think it was lamb stew.  I had done well with points for most of the day, so I ate the stew and went without the bread. The stew was 1 cup for 5 points. Not terrible! I was actually glad the portion was a bit on the small side.

Overall, I thought the Houndstooth was actually quite good for pub fare.  I think it would probably be a good place to grab a drink and a bite, but it’s just a bit too crowded.  I’m not sure if I’ll be rushing back though.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

Honey Glazin

26 Apr

I had to use both a pork loin and shrimp by the same day and, unfortunately, I found myself on that day.  I’m always nervous about letting food go past expiration dates, but pork and seafood are on the top of my fearful list. I had a Weight Watchers recipe for a honey glazed pork loin so I figured I’d just double the sauce and use it for the shrimp.  It works great for both!  So much flavor for just 4 points.  We paired it with some garlicky spinach and quinoa. Nom Nom Nom.

Pork loin is so easy to cook and so tasty!

The shrimp in the same sauce was also sooooo tasty.

Full pot of raw spinach and garlic:

Reduces to tiny bit of cooked spinach and garlic in the same pot.

(I’m always so impressed with how the volume of raw spinach reduces to the volume of wilted spinach)

Full plate with quinoa.

The sauce was soooo good over the quinoa!

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RECIPES
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Honey Glazed Pork Tenderloin (Just use the same sauce for the shrimp!)
4 points!

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces Extra Lean Port Tenderloin
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce, low sodium
  • 2 cloves garlic — minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 

Instructions:

  1. Trim excess fat from pork. Tie it to make it even shape. Place in a heavy plastic bag.
  2. Mix the soy sauce, garlic, and ginger. Add to bag. Coat pork well. Marinade for 2 hours or over night in refrigerator.
  3. Remove pork from marinade. Pat dry.
  4. Combine honey and sugar. Brush over pork. Coat with sesame seeds.
  5. Roast for 20-30 minutes at 375 degrees F.
  6. Slice thinly and serve.

Gansevoort 69 by the Highline

23 Apr

My friend, Debbie and I were wandering around by the entrance to the Highline looking for a bite to eat one beautiful Saturday afternoon. We saw Gansevoort 69 and it looked like a nice diner, so we decided to try it.  I was actually pretty surprised by the inside. It was very modern and looked like an upscale restaurant inside.

Debbie was torn between a few dishes, including the Mac & Cheese.  The waiter mentioned that they were just written up in AM New York as one of the best Mac & Cheeses in town.  Strangely enough, I have read one AM New York in the past 3 years and this was the one I had read.  No brainer… Debbie went for the Mac & Cheese.  She was nice enough to give me a bite and it was good, but nothing spectacular.

I went with the “Not Your Mama’s Bennie” which included 2 poached eggs (healthier because there is no oil used to cook them) with Canadian Bacon (the healthier bacon) on a homemade hashbrown.  I asked for the hollandaise on the side (and didn’t even touch it!), went with whole wheat bread, and made sure to eat every bite of the salad.  Simple changes!

Here’s a zoom in.

And a further zoom in… 

See that under the egg there?  Does that look like a hashbrown to anyone?  I mean MAYBE if it were warm and soft… but it was like potato sticks made into a nest.  Not bad, really, but not what I’d consider a “hashbrown.” Made it easier not to eat and spare me the point though. 🙂

Luckily, the egg was cooked PERFECTLY.  This was definitely the highlight of the meal as a perfectly cooked poached egg is surprisingly hard to come by.

Total points for 2 poached eggs, salad, 1 slice of whole wheat bread, 2 bites of “hashbrowns,” and Canadian bacon? 8 points!  Not too bad for a very filling brunch.

In the end, Gansevoort 69 was good, but nothing special.

Total Nom Points: 6 out of 10

Weight Watchers Cooking Take 3: Sweet and Sour Chicken, Roasted Veggies, and Diet Potato Au Gratin

21 Apr

I’ve had a recipe for Sweet and Sour Low Carb chicken in my stash for years.  I was pleased to see that the point value was quite low and I could take one of my favorite recipes from the past and use it without alteration.  The key is diet orange soda (I’m a huge Diet Sunkist fan now anyway).  I have served this recipe to many who haven’t been any wiser that it’s a “healthy” version.  It has a ton of flavor.

It takes a good amount of time for the sauce to cook down to look like this…

We decided to pair it with broccoli and yellow cauliflower roasted with garlic.



(I have a new camera that I love… and this picture marks the point where I learned how to use it)

I also found a recipe for Weight Watchers au gratin potatoes sounded so good.

I was shocked that this was so low in points and tasted so good.  Next time I’ll make it in a larger, shallower dish so the top crisps more, but it was delish and definitely worth adding to the recipe stash… Weight Watchers or no Weight Watchers!



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RECIPES
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Low Carb Sweet & Sour Chicken

4 Servings
3 Points per Serving

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Brown chicken and onions in a non-stick pan sprayed with cooking spray.
  2. When chicken is brown, add the remaining ingredients.
  3. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the chicken is tender and thoroughly cooked.
  4. Uncover and reduce liquid until it makes a syrupy sauce (about 20-30 minutes- Keep an eye on it that it doesn’t burn).

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Weight Watchers Au Gratin Potato

3 Points per Serving
8 Servings

Instructions:

  • 1 spray cooking spray
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion(s), thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cup fat-free skim milk
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potato(es), thinly sliced
  • 1 cup low-fat shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Coat a 2-quart covered baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in flour; add milk slowly, stirring. Add potatoes and stir to mix. Bring to a boil.
  5. Stir in 3/4 cup of cheese, salt and pepper.
  6. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and level out surface.
  7. Bake for 1 hour, uncovered.
  8. Cover and bake until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes more.
  9. Change oven temperature to broil.
  10. Sprinkle remaining cheese over potatoes.
  11. Broil 6 inches from the heating element until the cheese is golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  12. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before slicing into 8 pieces.

My First Weight Watchers Oops: Ramen!

19 Apr

One day I had soup with some dumplings. I was impressed to see that the broth was “free” for points and the dumplings were surprisingly low in points.  The lunch was one of the best I found (points wise) in Chinatown.  So Ramen couldn’t be THAT bad, right? Oh so very wrong…

I saw the serving of the noodles was 5 points… so I thought maybe this whole thing (including half an egg and some grilled pork) couldn’t be more than 8 points.  Well… it was 5 points for a HALF cup.  I had about a cup and a half… 15 points on NOODLES.  That’s a mistake I won’t make again.  Nearly 20 points of my 24 for the day slurped up in one sitting.

Luckily there is a great alternative… SOBA! Buckwheat noodles are two points for one full cup.  That’s a no brainer right there!

So after all this I’m sure you’re wondering if my 20 point lunch was worth it? Absolutely not.  It was just… bland.  So bland that it’s not even worth looking up what random place we went for this bowl of flavorlessness. 

Mandarin Court Restaurant- Dim Sum

16 Apr

Another Chinatown meal while on Jury Duty: Dim Sum made me nervous… especially on Weight Watchers. I thought even if I could get away with eating there and not feeling sick (unfortunately, Chinatown dim sum and my belly don’t usually go well together), I could never do it for less than 1,000 points. Right? Wrong.  4 steamed dumplings = 4 points. So 8 dumplings = 8 points. Not too shabby.  I used UrbanSpoon to find a place close and it came up with Mandarin Court Restaurant on Mott (just below Canal).

The experience was hysterical.  A woman came down the row of tables with a cart of dim sum and starts yelling things. It wasn’t until she was next to my table, screaming at ME, that I realized she was asking “Pork? Chicken? Fresh Made Riiiiiiice?”  I asked her “is that shrimp” while pointing to a dish and she put it on my table.  I was still looking at the menu and thought she was maybe delivering an order since I had not placed one yet so I told her that I hadn’t ordered it. She protested that yes, I just did.  It was at this point that a bus boy stepped in and explained to her that I needed a few minutes (or something like that).  Thanks bus boy!

I decided on pork and shrimp.  The pork was good, but nothing special.

The shrimp was really a full shrimp wrapped in a wonton wrapper.  Good, but again, not great.

Tried to get a shot of the actual shrimp in the dumpling…

And guess what? It made me sick afterwards.  BOOOO

Total Nom Points: 4 out of 10

Bahn Mi from Paris Sandwich

14 Apr

Bravo me! Two Weight Watchers home cooked dinners down and you’re on a roll… then everything came to a screeching halt… I was on jury duty… downtown… in Chinatown. I hardly know where to eat down there to begin with, let alone on Weight Watchers. I had heard such great things about Paris Sandwich’sBanh Mi from FeistyFoodie. I was bummed that I was finally in the area and would have to forgo for this new diet.   I decided to go with the mindset, however, that you can eat anything as long as you track it and account for it with eating less at other times.  So I snuck open the iPhone app while hearing a slow case and calculated the points.  I was thrilled that it was only 10 points.  That left me with 12 still for dinner (after my 2 points used at breakfast on my yogurt).

Paris Sandwich (on Mott between Hester and Canal) was quintessentially Chinatown.  Women barking at patrons who were completely overwhelmed by a menu they could hardly read.  I tried to ask if there were any peppers in the sandwich or if it was spicy… and the answer wasn’t convincing. So I ordered and crossed my fingers.

They seem to have bread pre-made that they then put through a toaster and add the items.  I went with the grilled pork and it comes with cilantro, Japanese mayo (which looks more like butter and I’m not sure what it adds to the flavor… hmmm), carrots and daikon. (And you can add jalapenos to the sandwich I believe)

All of these flavors just combined to perfection. And the bread was delicious… though messy. Luckily I ate this outside as afterwards I was covered in crumbs! Wouldn’t have had it any other way.

If you are ever in Chinatown and not so keen on dim sum, definitely try the Banh Mi from Paris. It’s delish!

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Family Passover

12 Apr

(Bumping this entry up for timeliness, so apologies for the lack of order lately!)

Want to know one of the worst weeks to be on a diet? On a holiday that is completely surrounding food.  I decided that I would try to keep my weight even this week rather than trying to lose anything… knowing it would be VERY difficult to make it through 2 Seders without going over my point allowance. I still tracked everything, however, and managed to gain less than 1 pound that week.  So I call that even and a success!

Passover has what you eat and eating your meal actually written into the prayer book.  It’s meant to be shared with family and at the meal, the story of the Jews leaving Egypt is read aloud.  Now that you have had your little lesson in Passover, onto the food!

Passover has been hosted at my Aunt and Uncle’s house for a few years now, and you can always count on some standards.  A new addition, this year, was matzo pizza.  Unfortunately, I was trying to be good and I skipped this. Only to learn too late that it was fantastic.  Bummer!  But there is always next year.

Charoset is a traditional part of the meal.  It is made of apples, nuts, wine, and cinnamon (mostly).  It is meant to symbolize the mortar that the Jews put between the bricks while building as slaves for Pharaoh.  It’s DELICIOUS and one of my favorite parts of the Seder.

It makes matzo quite delectable.

Not quite part of the Seder, yet still traditionally served at every Seder I know of, is gefilte fish.  I didn’t eat this for years.  Partly because it was typically embedded in horse radish jell-o at my Grandmother’s Seder (and I hate horse radish) and partly because it has the name fish and partly because it just doesn’t look particularly appetizing.  It has grown on me, however, and I now each it happily (though only this once per year)

Another tradition that isn’t written but always stands is matzo ball soup.  Always delicious.  I love a good, fluffy, buttery matzo ball.

Then we go buffet style.  Lots of goodies… most of which I cannot remember.  A highlight for me this year was the “make your own salad” portion  of the meal.  Base lettuce was there and then there were add-ons like kidney beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc.  It made it a LITTLE easier to fill my plate with items that wouldn’t kill my points for the week.  I was still doing pretty well with dinner.  Just took a little bit of everything else to sample.  There were so many things, however, that it filled my plate.  I managed to keep it mostly under control, however, until…

Dessert!  I should have known better.  Everything was good, but I managed to take only a nibble here and there.  Until…

I stupidly stood in front of the chocolate, peanut butter, and peanut butter & chocolate matzo.  I had SO much of this.  WAY too much.  This was where the points went overboard. 

The peanut butter + chocolate version is just fantastic.  It’s a little extra sweet and the peanut butter is like candy on top.  My favorite part of the meal. 

‘Til next year!

City Crab & Seafood Co.

9 Apr

 

Going a bit out of order here… this was pre- Weight Watchers.

****

Thanks to Groupon, I had a $100 coupon for City Crab (on Park Ave at 19th Street) that I bought for $50.  It was nearly expired, so Mike and I went after work one day.  I’ll spare the suspense here, as my drink was certainly my favorite thing that evening.  It was a toasted coconut martini with pineapple juice, coconut rum, something else, and shavings of toasted coconut on top.  It was SOOO good.

Mike and I split the crab, spinach, and artichoke dip.  It was good but not much more than good.  It wasn’t quite crabby or artichokey enough.  I wanted more.  Bigger chunks of the good stuff.

Mike chose the baked stuffed shrimp imperial.  I couldn’t try them because of the peppers, but he seemed to enjoy them, though without much enthusiasm.

I chose the Down East Lobster Bake which had mussels, clams, corn, and steamed new potatoes.  I guess the best I could say is that it was good, but bland.  I can honestly count just two times I’ve had lobster that was really GOOD outside of Maine.  I guess I was just spoiled in that respect.  I’m used to my lobsters being pulled right out of the ocean for me.   The mussels and the clams weren’t all that better, and even the corn just didn’t have the great sweetness I expected.  It was disappointing, but not bad.  Just… nothing special.

 

Blurry zoom-in:

For dessert, we split an oreo mousse cake of some sort… it was good, but… again… bland. 

Overall, City Crab was just wholly under-whelming.  Nothing was bad, per se, but nothing was even noteworthy enough to make me come back, besides the drink. 

Total Nom Points: 5 out of 10