Weekly menu. December 6 – 12, 2021

My birthday is on Wednesday of this week. Like all birthdays in our household my birthday has a food component. Usually our daughter makes me some sort of wonderful baked good like Swedish tea ring or pretzel rolls. This year since I am still struggling with post-cruise weight I have asked her not to make me anything. I am happy with a card and a hug. John and I, however, will be going up to Wine Country to have dinner in a favorite restaurant.

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Null soup++. 12/4/21

Vegetables soup with chicken and chickpeas

Back in the day when the only things that were free on Weight Watchers were non-starchy vegetables, I used to make this soup with only chicken broth and vegetables. We affectionately called it null soup. Although not very exciting, it was a good way to take up space when I was hungry.

Today’s WW allows many more free foods and my soup now contains chicken broth, non-starchy vegetables, chickpeas, and shredded chicken breast. The addition of chicken and chickpeas makes my soup so much tastier and heartier. Vegetables soup is now a destination meal rather than just “I have to eat something” kind of dish.

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Shrimp tacos with spicy black beans. 12/3/21

Shrimp tacos with spicy black beans

So good and so easy! John defrosted some shrimp and seasoned them with salt, chili powder, Old Bay, garlic powder, and cumin. They were sautéed in olive oil spray. In the meantime I got the toppings together- shredded cabbage, cilantro, lime, diced onions, salsa, and a crema made from Greek 0% yogurt, salt, and cumin. I also whipped up spicy black beans which consisted of two cans of black beans, a can of Rotel original, onions, cumin, cilantro stems, red pepper flakes, and salt. I added a squirt of sriracha to give them a sweet spice. John heated the corn tortillas over an open flame.

Any kind of tacos are always a hit at our house. These days of healthy eating I usually have fish or shrimp as the protein but chicken as well as a lean beef like flank steak would also be great. No leftovers tonight!

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Lightened N.E. clam chowder. 12/2/21 Day 56 GBTG

For about 12 years of my adult life I lived in New England. Chowder is a big thing there. We used to occasionally go to Durgin Park in Boston where a bowl of clam chowder and a dessert of Indian Pudding with vanilla ice cream were transcendent.

Lightened New England clan chowder

With the exception of cleaning and cutting up the leeks, the rest of making this soup is pretty simple. No doubt I have posted this recipe on my blog several times. Onions, celery, potatoes, leeks, chop, chop, chop. Sauté until limp. Add clam juice and liquid from canned clams and simmer until potatoes are tender. Deglaze with white wine. Add minimal cream and chopped canned clams. Stir and serve with toasted crouton.

I have to admit I went a little overboard tonight. A cup of wine in the soup meant the bottle still contained a couple of glasses up for grabs,. Also I ate way too many slices of baguette. Mea culpa, I am only human.

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Chicken breast with rutabagas and B. sprouts 12/1/21 (GBTG Day 57)

Rotisserie chicken breast meat with McCormack packet gravy, Instant Pot rutabagas, and sautéed Brussels sprouts

This is what I call my classic chicken dinner. It consists of chicken breast meat, gravy, rutabagas or squash, and a green vegetable. It fits in well to my countdown to Getting Back To Goal (GBTG). Only about 4 PP if you are doing WW.

Although the vegetables take some time what with the peeling and cutting up the rutabaga and slicing the Brussels sprouts, the chicken which is in a pulled chicken breast meat package from Costco only needs to be heated up in the gravy.

I once posted the following picture in jest from The Rutabagan to illustrate how hard a large rutabaga is. I do not recommend using an axe but it is very handy to have someone strong to at least cut it in half.

Rutabagas are hard! But this method is a little over the top!!

I cook the rutabaga under high pressure for 15 minutes in my Instant Pot. After a 10 minute cool down, I release the steam and the rutabaga practically mashes itself. I add a little faux butter and plenty of salt.

I used the same method today as I did yesterday for the Brussels sprouts. I bought two stalks for Thanksgiving and that was a lot of sprouts! Having eaten them three times in the last week they are finally gone. I think we will have a little vacation from sprouts although everyone in the family loves them.

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Chilean sea bass with new potatoes and Brussels sprouts. 11/30/21 Day 58 GBTG

Today is the third day being on my Getting Back to Goal plan. I always say the third day is the hardest. You are all gung-ho for the first two days but by the third one you’d really like a piece of candy, a glass of wine, some chips, or whatever is your happy food. Chilean sea bass is a great choice for the third day because it is unctiously delicious that you feel you are cheating without doing so.

The first thing to work on are the new potatoes since they will take the longest to cook. I put them in a steamer basket with an inch or so of water.

Potatoes waiting to be cooked. Three larger ones for John and three smaller ones for me.

After the potatoes have been on for about 15 minutes I start the Brussels sprouts and John puts the fish in the oven.

Brussels sprouts have been cut in half and will cook in a half cup of water, some faux butter, salt, a sprinkle of sugar, and dry sherry.
John prepares the fish for a 400F oven. They are sprayed with olive oil spray and dusted with salt, garlic powder, paprika, and a dash of cayenne pepper. The herb is tarragon. They cook for about 15 minutes until the internal temperature is 120F.

The dinner is fabulous. Everything is cooked well and the delicious fish makes it seem like a festive occasion. Chilean sea bass is expensive but there is no waste and, if you buy the frozen product from Costco, it is much less pricy but still wonderful.

A plate full of yumminess – roasted Chilean sea bass, steamed new potatoes, and sauteed Brussels sprouts
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Orecchiette with broccolini and mushrooms. 11/29/21 (Day 59 Getting Back to Goal)

I am about to give up on these whole grain orecchiette imported from Italy that I bought through Amazon. There are no directions on how long to cook them and even at 16 minutes they still seemed doughy! Anyway, here is my process for making pasta with mushrooms and vegetables

First slice and sauté mushrooms. I use 1 teaspoon of oil per person. This pan holds mushrooms for the two of us.
When the mushrooms are browned, add the chopped up onions (1/2 large) and when those become translucent, add the garlic and broccolini stems. Spray with some olive oil spray if pan is too dry.
This is what broccolini looks like. Cook the chopped up stems first and add the tops shortly before you add the pasta.
Here’s my pan with the stems, mushrooms, onions, and garlic. Be sure to add salt along the way and I also have added some dried oregano and a dash of pepper flakes. The pasta is still cooking and at this point I add a quarter cup of pasta water to make sure the stems get cooked through.
When the pasta is al dente, reserve a cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta and add it to the vegetable pan. Over heat stir everything together and add 1/2 to 1 cup of the pasta water to create a little sauce. Serve in bowls with a drizzle of good olive oil. Parmesan cheese, optional.

Normally cooking our 6 oz. of pasta takes only about 8 minutes since you want it quite al dente when it goes into the vegetables because it will cook a bit more in the vegetable pan. So from the time you turn your salted water on to boil and start chopping vegetables, the whole process takes 15 or so minutes.

Today is Day 59 in my countdown to Getting Back to Goal. My WW points are 9 for this dinner. A vegetarian or vegan pasta dish is always on my menu once a week!

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Chana dal with egg. 11/28/21

Scrambled egg on Chana dal over greens and cauliflower/white rice mix

Day 60. Today was the first day of eating right again. I have decided that it will take me 60 days to get back to where I want to be weight-wise. John is on my team and my best friend is an ally to keep me on track. How can I not lose (weight)?

Tonight’s dinner is a replay of last night’s with the inclusion of a scrambled egg. On Saturday I took a second helping but on Sunday I only had exactly what you see on the plate. It was filling and delicious.

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Weekly Menu. Nov. 29 – Dec. 5, 2021

Since this is a back-to-basics, healthy eating week, I am recycling a number of old favorites. I have pledged to myself not to go down the slippery slope of weight gain.

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Instant Pot – Split chickpea stew with mixed greens. 11/27/21

Dried shackles stew (Chana dal) over mixed greens and a white rice/cauliflower rice mix

Time to get back to normal eating! If you are like me you probably overdid it a bit on Thanksgiving and the leftovers day. My scale is not happy and neither am I. What could be a better mind and body cleanser than a delicious vegan dinner.!?

After soaking the dried split chickpeas for a half an hour, they go into the Instant Pot with some spicy tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, and spices. And of course enough water for the chickpeas and the pot. We set the pressure on high for 15 minutes and then let it cool naturally for 10 minutes before releasing the steam.

John made some rice earlier in the day and I mix a half cup of it with about 3/4 cup of cauliflower rice. Making this mixture gives me some rice texture and goodly amount of rice/cauliflower rice. Since both the rice and the chickpeas are hot, the in between layer of raw greens wilt nicely. I just buy a prewashed bag of greens that I can use for salads and for dinners.

Now that I have had one reasonable meal and emptied the refrigerator of holiday food I can get started with my return to basics regimen.

Posted in Easy, Healthy tips, Indian, Instant Pot, Legumes, rice, stew, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian | Tagged , , | 1 Comment