Mandy's Marvelous Meals

Recipes, tips, tricks, and my journey into cooking fabulous food!

D.I.Y. Microwave Popcorn


Ok, so why am I just now finding out that you can make your own microwave popcorn?  When I saw this on the Dr. Oz Show I was so surprised that this wasn’t a well known fact (or maybe it is & I am just behind the times?). I immediately tried this out and now that I have, I will never buy microwave popcorn again.

After a little research I did come to learn that this is considered “air popped” popcorn and so if you don’t add any oil or butter it is an extremely healthy snack. In regards to Weight Watchers, this version of microwave popcorn is actually less points (well only 1 less, but every little bit counts when you’re trying to lose) than the 94% Fat Free microwave popcorn available in stores.

As for taste….I can honestly say it tastes freakin’ awesome!!  So much better than the chemical-laden kind I’m used to buying. I do actually like it completely plain, but for a little added flavor I sometimes add a little bit of salt and  some “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” Buttery Spray.

As for my recipe below (you really don’t need a recipe, but for those of you who feel better with one…which is ok, trust me I’ve been there….I’ve included it) it should make about 3 cups, but depending on your microwave and if all the kernels actually pop or not will make the difference, so you may need to adjust the amount of kernels you are using. I chose to only try to make 3 cups because 3 c. equals only 2 WW Points Plus. Which is a decent size snack for such a small points amount. If you use ¼ cup of kernels you’ll have about a regular size bag of microwave popcorn (5-6 cups).

One last note…this is an official “Hubby-Approved” snack! Made it for Hubby (with the salt and buttery spray) and he thoroughly enjoyed it. No more store bought, chemically altered, fattening microwave popcorn for this family!!

Microwave Popcorn (WW Points Plus = 2)

2 tbsp. popcorn kernels

1 brown paper lunch sack

Salt, to taste

10 sprays, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” Buttery Spray

  1. Add popcorn kernels to the brown paper bag and fold over 2-3 times.
  2. Place bag upright and set microwave for 3 minutes on high. Popcorn will probably be done within 2-2 ½ minutes, but it’s best to set it for longer and pay close attention to when the popping stops. When popping is down to 1-2 seconds between pops, remove from microwave. (If you leave it in too long it will burn, just like the store bought kind.)
  3. Add salt to bag and shake.
  4. Spray 5 sprays of the buttery spray on popcorn and shake. Spray 5 more times and shake.
  5. Pour in a bowl and serve.
3 Comments »

Time to Throw in the Kitchen Towel!?!?


Sometimes things just don’t turn out the way you thought they would.

Whoa! That is one big kitchen disaster!

Have you ever had one of those days in the kitchen where you think you’re doing such a great job and then the result is something like the picture above? I’ve always been a good baker, but I suppose that is because I’ve always been one to follow directions and follow them well. But now that I’ve been getting more adventurous and trying things on my own either by altering a recipe or attempting my own recipe I am finally seeing that it’s not as easy as I thought it would be.

Yesterday I was so motivated to try out some new stuff and serve Hubby a great Friday night dinner. I was actually excited that I had lots of extra time to spend in the kitchen. I started by attempting a new muffin recipe, but the result, as seen above, was quite scary. I didn’t let it get to me though…I tried again and this time the result looked pretty good.

Moving along to make dinner I  decided to try this recipe for Vinegar Braised Chicken which I came across in Food & Wine Magazine.  I made Hubby chicken thighs as stated in the recipe and followed it pretty much exact except that I did not add the Leeks. For mine I used boneless skinless chicken breast and substituted lighter ingredients (such as no butter, only 1 tsp. of olive oil and fat free sour cream instead of creme fraiche). It seemed like things were going along ok, but then as I began to cook and the kitchen started filling with a smoky haze it seemed like everything was beginning to go down hill. My attempt at making a side of pasta (which I’ve made before) tasted strange so I ended up throwing it away and just threw some Green Giant veggies & sauce in the microwave.

Whenever I make something new I always ask Hubby to rate it on a scale of 1-5.  I’m sure a lot of husbands out there would not dare tell their wives what they really thought about certain meals, but my Hubby has always been completely honest with me about it. I love this about him…even though I may get a chip on my shoulder for a minute or two I like to hear what he says and see how I can improve.  When we ate dinner last night, I could tell he really didn’t like it and this was confirmed when he said his rating was about a 2.8 (and I’m thinking he was just being generous rating that high). Disappointment overwhelmed me and I don’t know why….I never considered myself a perfectionist. I’ve never really excelled at anything…I was always just average and completely happy with that. But over the years when it comes to cooking I’ve started to become a little neurotic. I can’t even remember the last time Hubby gave me below a “3” rating and I always strive for at least a “4”. Nonetheless, I got over it.

Personally I thought the chicken was ok….it did have a unique flavor due to the tarragon and incase you didn’t know Tarragon tastes like black liccorice….so this dish may not be for everyone.

When we were all done I said to Hubby,  “well at least you’ll enjoy dessert.”

Or so I thought…

Hubby took one bite and made a face. I asked him what was wrong and he said he didn’t like it. He put a paper towel over it and pushed it away. Wow, really? That was a first and that was the point I became absolutely defeated.

You may be wondering why did I share this harrowing story of cooking disaster? I guess to reach those of you out there who have had “bad kitchen days” and to remind you and myself that when you fall off the horse you have to get back on. Don’t give up…there’s no need to go back to ordering pizza every other day…you can do it!

So today is a new day and I’m already thinking about what I will make to redeem myself. Remember…one bad day in the kitchen doesn’t mean you’re not a great cook…

Shake it off and try again.

4 Comments »

Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches


 

There is nothing like the smell of something wonderful cooking in the crockpot all day. There is also nothing like throwing some meat and ingredients into the crockpot and coming home to a cooked meal.

French Dip is probably one of my favorite foods to order at a diner. Since I’m trying to cut back on eating out I decided to try it at home. This recipe is great for cheap cuts of beef since it cooks all day. The meat comes out extremely tender and super flavorful. I picked up some round eye steak since a whole roast was a little too much for just me and Hubby (although I could’ve bought a small roast and cut it down, but quite frankly I didn’t feel like going through all that work of slicing it and freezing it into smaller portions). I used two steaks which weighed a total of just about 2 lbs. but I didn’t change any of the amounts of the ingredients for the rest of the recipe.  Make sure you use low-sodium soy sauce or your meat and juice will be way too salty. To me, Crockpot meals are all about being quick and convenient so I just used dried herbs and spices but you could always substitute fresh since fresh is always better; just remember that you will need to increase the amount (rule of thumb: use three times the amount of fresh for dried). You can slice the meat thin or shred it. I prefer to shred it…there’s no particular reason for this, I just like it that way. Use “Mandy’s Marvelous Sandwich Rolls”, cutting in half and adding some garlic butter to each side and toasting before adding the meat.

 

French Dip Sandwiches in the Crockpot (Makes 12 servings)

1 4 lb. boneless beef roast

½ cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 cup beef stock or low-sodium beef broth

1 bay leaf

¼ tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

1 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. garlic powder

12 Sandwich Rolls

12 slices provolone cheese (optional)

 

  1. Trim beef of all visible fat and place in Crockpot.
  2. In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, beef stock, bay leaf, black pepper, rosemary, thyme, and garlic powder.
  3. Pour mixture over beef and cook on Low Heat for 8-10 hours (cook longer for thicker cuts of meat).  If desired, in the last hour of cooking, take out the meat, shred and return to Crockpot to allow flavors to soak through.
  4. Remove meat from broth and reserve broth for dipping.
  5. Distribute meat on rolls and top with cheese, if desired. Serve with small individual dishes of broth for dipping.
2 Comments »

Celebrate Good Times with Slimmed Down Milkshakes


Today is a good day. “Why?” you ask. Well I’ve lost 10 pounds over the last four weeks! Only 30 more to go! Initially, when I weighed-in this morning, all I could focus on was that I only lost 1 pound this past week. I felt totally disappointed because I had been losing 2 to 2.5 per week. But then I told myself to get a grip and look at the big picture. I then realized I had lost 10 lbs. in one month, thus making me feel much much happier.

So to celebrate, today’s Slimmed Down Sensations are some easy and tasty milkshake recipes.

No celebration is complete without cake & ice cream, right?! I had been seeing cake batter this and cake batter that all over Pinterest and did an internet search on my own to find a cake batter milkshake. The one that looked the best to me was this one from Betty Crocker.

Of course, it had way too many calories for me to be able to enjoy and still stick to my diet, so I played around with it and came up with the version in this post.

And speaking of cake…has anyone tried the special edition Birthday Cake Oreo?

As soon as I saw them I knew I had to try them, but I put it off because I am trying to be a good girl and Oreo’s are not only one of my favorites but are one of my biggest weaknesses. To have a pack of Oreo’s in the house would not be pretty (could probably eat half the pack in one sitting, at least!). Today, however, I gave in and decided to pick up a pack anyway. These are 2 WW Points Plus per cookie, but soooo worth it!  Sooo goood!

I already make an Oreo milkshake, which is basically made the same as the Cake Batter Milkshake with a few minor modifications. Decided I would just substitute one birthday cake Oreo for the reduced fat one I normally would use. This bumped up the WW Points Plus from 4 to 5, but still not bad for such a yummy treat!

So here’s to shedding my first 10 lbs!  Yummmmmmmm!!!

Slimmed Down Cake Batter Milkshake (WW Points Plus = 4)

½ cup almond milk

1/3 cup fat free vanilla ice cream

2 tbsp. vanilla (yellow or white) cake mix

2 tbsp. sugar free vanilla syrup (i.e. Torani or DaVinci)

1 cup ice

1 tbsp. rainbow sprinkles

2 tbsp. fat free whipped cream (optional)

  1.  Combine all ingredients except for sprinkles in a blender and blend until smooth and ice is crushed.
  2. Pour into a glass and stir in half of the sprinkles.
  3. Top with whipped cream and remaining sprinkles.
  4. Enjoy!

Slimmed Down Oreo Milkshake (WW Points Plus = 4)

½ cup almond milk

½ cup fat free vanilla ice cream

2 tbsp. sugar free vanilla syrup (ex. Torani or DaVinci)

1 cup ice

1 Reduced Fat Oreo Cookie

2 tbsp. fat free whipped cream (optional)

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until ice is crushed and desired consistency is reached.
  2. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Slimmed Down Birthday Cake Oreo Milkshake (WW Points Plus = 5)

½ cup almond milk

½ cup fat free vanilla ice cream

2 tbsp. sugar free vanilla syrup (ex. Torani or DaVinci)

1 cup ice

1 Birthday Cake Oreo Cookie

2 tbsp. fat free whipped cream (optional)

  1.  Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until ice is crushed and desired consistency is reached.
  2. Top with whipped cream, if desired.
1 Comment »

Slimmed Down Sensation: Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla


This is a really quick, filling, and downright delicious low-cal dish! I often make this for dinner or make it at night and pack it in my lunch…it’s actually not so bad reheated in the microwave. I serve it with a salad or a very large side of seasoned steamed green beans. In the picture below, I used Mission 96% Fat Free wheat tortillas, but the low carb whole wheat tortillas are actually better in regards to calories and carbs and are less WW points.  I picked these up because they were on sale :).

Also pictured is my really old school kitchen scale (purchased at the Dollar Tree for $1!!). This scale has served me well for many years and I am sad to report that it just broke on Sunday! It has now been replaced by a more upscale digital version. I had to replace it quickly since a scale is one kitchen gadget I cannot live without.  If I have learned anything about eating healthy…even when you’re not trying to lose weight, but want to maintain that girlish figure…it is that you should always measure your food. Portion control is so important and especially crucial for losing weight. I know you have heard this before, but I am telling you as someone who has learned from experience. I didn’t always measure everything because I thought I had pretty good judgment of what the serving size of something should be…and with practice I actually do have good judgment, but nothing compares to actually measuring it out. I now even keep measuring cups and measuring spoons at work for times when I eat things that can be kept at the office (i.e. salad dressing, cereal, milk, etc.). Yes, my co-workers look at me like I’m weird, but I don’t care! This time around on WW I religiously measure and/or weigh everything! So far this seems to be working out quite well as I’ve been losing weight at an average of 2 lbs. per week.  Save using your “best judgement” for eating out.

Some of you may wonder, “Should I measure fruits and vegetables?” I typically do not measure veggies because on WW you can basically eat as much as you want, but it is good to know what an actual “serving” of veggies is. For instance, did you know that a serving of asparagus is only about 6 stalks? I sure didn’t…I probably usually eat 20 in one sitting! But veggies have been my savior this time around in my weight loss quest. I fill up on a huge salad or a large side of veggies along with my other food at both lunch and dinner so that I am not hungry. As far as fruit goes, yes it is a better alternative to picking up that candy bar, but it still has sugar, so I do measure my fruit. Remember, the dietary guidelines for fruit is 2-4 servings per day and a serving is considered ½ cup or 1 whole apple, banana, orange, etc.

Ok, ok…that concludes my advice for this post….let’s get back to the good stuff! This amazingly large and yummy quesadilla!

Word of caution…this will be sloppy when eaten!

Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla (Makes 1 serving; 5 or 6 WW points plus, depending on type of tortilla used)

1 Whole Wheat Tortilla

1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Queso Fresco & Chipotle Cheese

2 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast cooked, shredded

½ cup fat-free salsa

1 tbsp. black beans, drained and rinsed

2 tbsp. fat free cheddar cheese, shredded

  1. In a bowl, combine the salsa, chicken and black beans. 
  2. Spread the Laughing Cow cheese over the tortilla. 
  3. Spread the salsa/chicken mixture on half of the tortilla and top with the cheddar cheese. 
  4. Fold over the other half of the tortilla and press down gently, being careful not to push out any of the filling. 
  5. Heat a skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Place the quesadilla in the pan and carefully turn over after 2-3 minutes, or until the bottom of the tortilla is browned and crisp. Cook on the other side for another 2-3 minutes until heated through and the bottom of the tortilla is brown and crisp. (Alternately you could bake this. I usually make mine in my Nu-Wave oven and it comes out just as crispy and delicious!)
  6. Remove from pan and using a pizza cutter, carefully cut the quesadilla into 4 pieces. 
  7. Serve with extra salsa and fat free sour cream on the side. Don’t forget plenty of paper towels!
2 Comments »

Slimmed Down Sensation: Sirloin Steak Salad (Friendly’s Copycat)


I am not ashamed to admit that I enjoy eating at Friendly’s once in a while. I know quite a few adults who LOATHE Friendly’s!

But sometimes you just crave some high fat high calorie fried comfort food…and of course you can’t eat there without getting ice cream. So if you’re trying to eat even a little bit healthy this is not the place to go. My current favorite dish is the Bleu Moon Sirloin Salad. Sometimes I just sit at home and crave it…I must have it!

Friendly's Bleu Moon Sirloin Salad

It’s actually one of their more “adult” meals with crispy romaine lettuce topped with Sirloin steak, pepper, carrots, cherry tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles and crispy onion strings. Served with a dijon vinaigrette….ok I am drooling just writing out the ingredients. Of course, like most “entrée salads” at chain restaurants, this yummy dish comes at a costly (including salad dressing) 860 calories, 40 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, and 83 carbohydrates (23 WW points plus). Sometimes I am willing to indulge in this as long as it is my “Faturday” and it won’t send me over my “Points” limit, but then I got to thinking…why don’t I save some money and some calories and make my own?

Of course, this does not taste as good as the original, but it is pretty darn tasty…and when I think of all the calories and fat I am saving, it makes it taste even better! I am still working on getting the dressing to taste like Friendly’s…can’t quite get that one down yet, but the Dijon Vinaigrette I’ve listed in the recipe is still really good on this salad or any salad, for that matter.  One word of caution, though, it is a bit on the thin side and so it’s a bit runny. The best way to use it is to put your salad in a container or bowl with a lid and shake it up. This way it will get distributed throughout and you’ll see that this small amount really goes far.

As far as the steak you can use whatever type you like, as long as it is a fairly lean cut and is trimmed of fat. I suggest sirloin strip, but the steak in the picture above was a filet mignon. Be sure to weigh your steak before cooking it to make sure you are following the appropriate portion size.

As far as Weight Watchers points, the great news is that my version is only 6 points!

Friendly’s = 23; Mandy’s  = 6!!!!!!

Holy Cow, that is a BIG difference!! It means, I can still have some light ice cream along with it and not feel so bad!

Slimmed Down Sensation: Sirloin Steak Salad (Friendly’s Copycat)

(WW points = 6, this is for the whole salad including the onion crisps & dressing)

3 cups romaine lettuce, chopped

1 carrot, sliced or shredded

¼ of green pepper, sliced (more if you really like green peppers)

4-6 cherry tomatoes

3 oz. sirloin steak, trimmed of fat

salt & pepper to taste

2 tbsp. reduced fat blue cheese crumbles

¼ serving, Onion Crisps (recipe follows)

2 tbsp. Dijon Vinaigrette Salad Dressing (recipe follows.)

  1. Sprinkle both sides of steak with salt and pepper. Cook steak either on the grill or under the oven broiler to desired doneness. Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes. Slice into strips or cut into cubes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the salad by putting the lettuce, carrots, and pepper in a bowl or container with a lid. Add the dressing and shake well to coat all the vegetables.
  3. Transfer to large bowl or plate and top with steak, blue cheese crumbles, tomatoes and onion crisps.

 

Onion Crisps (WW points plus = 1)

1 small onion, sliced thin

¼ cup fiber one cereal, crushed

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

¼ cup refrigerated egg substitute (i.e. egg beaters)

  1. Slice onion in very thin pieces, preferably with a mandolin slicer.
  2. Crush the cereal by either placing in a plastic Ziploc bag and crushing with a rolling pin or use a blender/food processor.
  3. Put the cereal, salt & pepper in a Ziploc bag.
  4. Put the egg beaters in a bowl and dip the onions shaking off excess. Once you dip the onions place in the bag with the cereal. Once all pieces have been dipped in the egg beaters and added to the bag, shake to coat.
  5. On a non-stick baking sheet, spread out the coated onions and bake in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes until crispy.

 

Dijon Vinaigrette Salad Dressing (1 Serving = 2 tbsp.; 2 tbsp. = 1 WW points plus)

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

¼ cup chicken stock

1/8 tsp. onion powder

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

2 tbsp. olive oil

  1. Combine all ingredients, except for olive oil, in a blender and blend until well combined. Add the olive oil slowly into the running blender to emulsify.
3 Comments »

Fear of Baking Bread & Sandwich Roll Recipe


For some reason I always had this idea in my head that it was extremely difficult to make bread or rolls from scratch. Even though there is nothing better than homemade bread and rolls I stayed away from making them.

Then one day I planned to make sandwiches for dinner, but forgot to pick up some rolls. I guess I can thank my laziness for sending me on to the internet to look at some recipes for homemade sandwich rolls. There was no way I was getting back in the car and driving a whopping 2 minutes down the street to go to the store yet again. Somehow my warped mind thought driving back to the store would be much worse than the grueling task of making rolls from scratch. The fear was there that this may not be something I should get into, but I gave it a shot….and to my surprise it was pretty easy. Since then, I’ve tried all kinds of breads: sourdough, Italian, white bread, whole wheat, French bread, dinner rolls, garlic bread, etc. And each time I make them I am always impressed that it wasn’t too difficult to make and that they turned out really good!

This past weekend, while eating lunch at my mom’s house, I brought some of these yummy rolls for our sandwiches. I said to her, “how come you never told me it was so easy to make bread?” She just laughed and proceeded to tell me a story of how my Grandmother used to make such large batches of bread, my Grandfather would have to come and punch the dough down because it was too much for the women in the kitchen. Well, lucky for me I only cook for two people and I own a Kitchenaid Mixer! Which does all the kneading for you so this makes it even easier. But don’t worry even if you have to knead the dough by yourself (or maybe if you have some kids put them to work) it is not bad…I have done it before and lived to tell about it! (Of course, that was before I actually understood how all the features on my Kitchenaid worked :))

So what is the moral to this story? If you are like I used to be and think that it’s difficult to make bread or rolls….you should get over it and try it for yourself. You’ll never want to buy rolls or bread from the store or a bakery again!

Mandy’s Marvelous Sandwich Rolls

1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)

1 packet active dry yeast

2 tbsp. white sugar

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tsp. salt

4 1/2 cups flour

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand until creamy 5-10 minutes.
  2. To the yeast mixture, add the oil, salt and 2 cups of flour and combine until a dough forms.
  3. Stir in the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl.
  4. Knead the dough. Using the dough hook of your mixer, knead for about 6 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. If kneading by hand, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 8 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  5. Lightly oil a large bowl and add the dough, turning to coat all sides with the oil.
  6. Cover with a damp towel and place in a warm dark place and allow dough to rise for about 1 hour.
  7. After the dough has risen, deflate it by gently punching it down in the bowl.
  8. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and separate into 12 pieces, forming them into round balls.
  9. Place dough balls on a non-stick baking sheet at least two inches apart and cover with a damp cloth. Place in a warm dark place and allow to rise for about 40 more minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  11. After second rising, bake the rolls in the preheated oven for 14-18 minutes, or until golden brown.

A Few Tips & Suggestions:

  • If you divide the dough into 16 rounds, the Weight Watchers Points Plus will be 4. You’ll have a smaller roll, but this is more of an appropriate portion size.
  • If you do not want to make all 12 or 16 rolls at once, after the first rising, only make the amount you need and freeze the remaining dough. When you are ready to use the rest of dough thaw it and allow to rise for about 45 minutes and follow original baking instructions. It is best to freeze dough before the second rising.
  • You can also divide the roll into 24 balls and use as buns for “Sliders” or use just as a dinner roll.
3 Comments »

So Refreshing: Tropical Fruit Slush Slimmed Down


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The past few days have been warm & sunny and I’ve just been reveling in the glorious weather. Hence the reason I missed two days of posting! So in honor of this summer preview I bring you a quick & easy drink recipe. It is great for an afternoon treat or with the addition of a little vodka a great low-cal drink option for a party or barbecue. It is also a great base recipe so the possibilities are endless as to how you want to make it. Try out different types of fruit and different types of sugar free drink mixes and you’ll always have new & creative combinations. I originally tried this out when I saw a drink recipe on pinterest that called for frozen peaches, lemonade & sprite. I’ve tried lots of combos since then…but I’ve included my favorite for this post.
Can you guess the best part about this drink recipe? Aside from the natural sugar in the fruit, it is virtually sugar free….making it 0 WW points! Of course if you add alcohol you’ll end up with a 4-5 point cocktail, but it totally beats those high-calorie sugary drinks they serve in restaurants and bars. Plus, if you’re picky like me and you’re not a big fan of fruit, this is a good way to sneak it into your diet. 🙂

Tropical Fruit Slush
1 cup frozen mixed fruit (I use peaches, strawberries, pineapples & mangoes)
6-8 ice cubes
1 packet Kool-Aid Sugar Free drink mix, Lemon Berry
4 oz. water
4 oz. diet lemon-lime soda (Sprite Zero)
2 oz. Rum or Vodka (optional)

Mix the Kool-Aid drink mix with the water and add to blender. Add all other ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.

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Slimmed Down Sesame Chicken


So as I mentioned yesterday, I had a craving for Chinese food. Not exactly the best thing to be eating when you’re trying to lose weight! I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to try one of Hungry Girl’s recent recipes, “Sweet ‘n Sticky Sesame Chicken”. She has come up with some amazing recipes and I highly recommend you watch her show and pick up a few of her cookbooks! (Can you tell I’m a huge fan?!)

Anyway, I initially made the recipe exactly as written and it was pretty good but it was just a little bit on the bland side. I played around with it a little bit and came up with this modified version. For those Weight Watchers users out there this recipe is 7 points and makes one serving. Serve with ½ cup brown rice.

On a more personal note, I have successfully made it through three weeks of Weight Watchers…down 2.5 more pounds at today’s weigh-in. Thank goodness for all those other great bloggers out there dedicated to sharing tasty recipes that are low fat, low calorie, and healthy. I love finding great recipes that fit into my diet and I love sharing the ones I come up with as well! So, if you’ve been enjoying my posts please “Like” my Facebook Page.

I’m getting hungry….think I’ll make some more of this yummy chicken!

Slimmed Down Sesame Chicken (Makes 1 serving; 7 WW Pointsplus)

(Source: Hungry Girl)

1/8 tsp. onion powder

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce

1/2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 tbsp. fat free liquid egg substitute (i.e. Egg Beaters)

5 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed

2 tbsp. whole wheat flour

2 tbsp. chicken stock

1/2 tbsp. cornstarch

1 tbsp. sugar-free pancake syrup

1 tbsp. rice vinegar

1/2 tbsp. ketchup

1 tsp. low sodium soy sauce

1/4 tsp. sesame oil

1/4 tsp. crushed garlic

1/2 tsp. sesame seeds

1 scallion, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a bowl combine the onion powder, garlic powder, soy sauce, vinegar and egg substitute. Add the chicken and make sure all the pieces are covered. Refrigerate and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Add the flour in a shallow dish or bowl and dredge the chicken pieces in it, coating all sides. Place chicken on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.
  4. Meanwhile, make the sauce by combining chicken stock with cornstarch and whisk to dissolve. Heat over medium heat and add syrup, vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic. Stirring often, cook until the sauce becomes thick.
  5. Add chicken to sauce and toss to coat.
  6. Serve and top with sesame seeds and scallions.
1 Comment »

Craving Chinese: Sesame Chicken & Pork Fried Rice


Ever wonder why Chinese food tastes SOOOO good? And no matter how hard you try you just can’t make it yourself as good as they do at a Chinese Restaurant. I’m pretty sure it has to do with all the oil and MSG they put in everything. 😉 So, when I had a Chinese food craving I decided we’d have to settle for second best and I’d make it at home…ordering Chinese is just not diet friendly (stay tuned for the slimmed down version in tomorrow’s post!).When it comes to Chinese food, even items that seem like they might be “healthy” usually are not. Of course, some restaurants now offer healthy options, but let’s get real….if you’re going to order Chinese the last thing you’re thinking about is healthy….I mean if I wanted steamed broccoli, I’d just make it myself!

So here is a recipe that is pretty close to being as good as the real thing. I always bake the chicken, but the original recipe calls for you to deep fry it.  You definitely could fry it if you’re not being health-conscious, but personally I think baking it tastes much better. If you do want to fry it, be sure to add the flour with the first ingredients to make a wet badder, instead of dredging it in the flour, as is listed in my version.

As for the rice, you can substitute pretty much any meat for the pork, but since I had left over pork loin, I used that. Chicken, bacon, and ham are all good alternatives. Also, you can add more or less vegetables to your preference.  Fried rice is definitely the best way to use up leftover rice and if you have leftover meat it’s a double bonus. Of course if you don’t have leftovers and don’t feel like making the fried rice, this Sesame Chicken tastes great with plain white or brown rice, just pile the chicken and sauce on top!

Sesame Chicken (Serves 3-4)

(Modified from “Perfect Sesame Chicken” on Allrecipes.com)

1/4 cup flour

2 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 tbsp. water

1 tsp. vegetable oil

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed

½ cup chicken stock

½ cup sugar

1 tbsp. white vinegar

1 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp. sesame oil

½  – 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (more if you want it spicy)

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tbsp. cornstarch

¼ cup water

1-2 tbsp. sesame seeds

4 scallions, chopped

  1. In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, water and oil.
  2. Add the chicken to the bowl, making sure all the pieces are coated with the batter. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Place the flour in a shallow dish or bowl and dredge the chicken pieces coating all sides.
  4. Place chicken pieces on a baking sheet coated with non-stick cooking spray.
  5. Bake chicken at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.
  6. Meanwhile, make the sauce by bringing the chicken stock, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper flakes, and garlic to a boil.
  7. Dissolve the 2 tbsp. of cornstarch into ¼ cup of water, and stir into the boiling sauce. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce thickens and turns clear. Reduce heat to low and keep the sauce warm.
  8. Add the baked chicken pieces to the completed sauce and stir to coat.
  9. Serve chicken and sauce topped with the sesame seeds and scallions.


Pork Fried Rice (Serves 4)

1 tbsp. sesame or olive oil

½ cup pork loin, cooked and chopped into small pieces.

3 scallions, chopped

1 egg

½ cup frozen peas, partially thawed

2 cups cooked white rice, cold

2 tbsp. soy sauce

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat.
  2. Add the pork and stir fry for 2-3 minutes or until heated through.
  3. Add the scallions and stir fry for another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the egg and stir until completely scrambled/cooked.
  5. Add the peas and stir fry for about 2 minutes until heated through.
  6. Add the rice to the pan, breaking up any clumps, and cook for a few minutes until heated through.
  7. Add the soy sauce and stir until well combined. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  8. Serve & enjoy.

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