Tuesday, September 1, 2009

12 Recipe Reviews from Weight Watchers Comfort Classics Cookbook

A nod to the delightful flick Julie and Julia as well as to Mike's and my off-again/on-again allegiance to Weight Watchers. Mike will be doing most but not all of the cooking. Completion goal date for all 150 recipes: August 22, 2010. Here we go...

12. August 31, 2009, dinner (from Lunch section )
South of the Border Shrimp and Black Bean Salad, page 48, 4 points/1.33 cups, 4/5 stars
This flavorful, refreshing and summery salad is more appropriate for lunch than dinner if you're someone who saves your biggest meal till last like I usually do. The unique and delicious cider vinegar/olive oil/chili powder/salt dressing compliments and enhances the taste of the shrimp, black beans, corn and scallions. This dish is colorful and attractive. It would be a hit at a pot luck or lunch for friends.

11. August 30, 2009 dessert
Sinful Chocolate-Cappuccino Mousse Pie, page 201, 4 points/one tenth pie, 2/5 stars
OK, I'm beginning to feel a pattern with the desserts. Do you know how small one tenth of a pie is? It had better be sublime to pay 4 points for a sliver. And it wasn't. The flavor was quite good (if you like coffee). The consistency was a little creepy due to the gelatin. There may have been a cook's error around this as the instructions say to mix in the egg whites and Cool Whip once the chocolate/coffee gelatin has begun to set, about 30 minutes. Well, I did wait 30 minutes, but perhaps I should have waited an hour because after I mixed together the pie filling and let it set a few hours, it separated into striations a la Jello 1-2-3 (remember that from the early '70s?). So there was a jello-ish layer and a foamy-ish layer. Even if the consistency were nicer, it still has fake food (fat free Cool Whip) and costs too many points for a tiny portion. A half a cup of Breyer's ice cream for 2 points would have been more satisfying (and less work).

10. August 30, 2009 dinner
Thai Coconut Curry Vegetables and Tofu, page 87, 5 points/1 cup, 3/5 stars
I liked this one better than Mike did. We both felt ripped off by the lack of coconut taste. The half cup of reduced fat coconut milk just didn't carry through. We're not big fans of veggie broth so we used chicken. We also added cayenne, which I recommend. We used fresh veggies instead of the suggested frozen presumably giving the dish a less mushy, more satisfying mouth. The recipe as is does not generate extra sauce, so if you like your Thai food liquidy, you'll need to add more broth or water. I'd add more coconut milk if I didn't care about the points.

9. August 30, 2009, breakfast
Cinnamon Dutch Baby with Applesauce and Sour Cream, page 25, 5 points/.25 pan, 1.5/5 stars
Dang, what a disappointment. The edges were puffed and crispy but the entire middle was a lead cake. The culprit has to be the full cup of flour. The Joy of Cooking and other recipes I've seen use only a half cup of flour. The best part was the strawberry, blueberry, apple sauce and sour cream topping. I appreciated the Tbsp of real butter.

8. August 29, 2009, dessert
Best-Ever Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, page 210, 4 points/half cup, 2/5 stars
It's tasty enough but the consistency is closer to sorbet than ice cream and its main ingredient is a quart of the frankenfood fat free half n half. The kicker is that it is 4 points for a half cup, the same points value of a regular half cup of ice cream. Save yourself the trouble (and chemicals).

6. 7. August 29, 2009, dinner
Skillet Macaroni and Cheese, page 108, 1 cup/6 points, 3.5/5 stars
This mac and cheese tasted kind of earthy and healthy due to the whole wheat pasta and reasonable quantity of cheese (1 cup of grated for 8 oz wt of macaroni). Not that that's a terrible thing, just not as decadent as more classic recipes. But then again, this is WW friendly! The reduced fat sharp cheese is OK, ten zillion times better than fat free cheese. I thought about substituting multi grain pasta for whole wheat but the latter had more fiber so stuck to the recipe. By the way, there's real butter in the roux - yay! Generous, filling portion. Loved the breadcrumb and parmesan topping.

Steakhouse Chopped Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing, page 183, 2 pts/1.75 cups, 4.5/5 stars
This substantial salad is crunchy and tasty. The fabulous dressing of low fat mayo, fat free sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, pepper and real deal bleu cheese turned out to be more than I wanted in an ideal dressing to salad ratio and I omitted 1/4 of it. Saving points was just a bonus. The chopped salad plus the mac n cheese made for a satisfying 8 point dinner.

5. August 26, 2009, lunch
Apple Carrot Slaw, page 186, 2 points/.66 cup = 5/5 stars
Though basically an omnivore, Mike claims to dislike cold slaw. And yet he gobbled this one up. The secret is the Granny Smith apples. Combined with the shredded purple cabbage and carrots, it's sweet, tart and satisfyingly crunchy, not to mention pretty. A perfect summer dish. And definitely a WW "filling" food.

4. August 25, 2009, dinner
Bayou Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, page 82, 6 points/1.25 cups gumbo + .5 cups rice = 3/5 stars
The turkey kielbasa gave the dish a nice smoky undertone and improved the consistency. Our gumbo was long on veggies as the recipe calls for things like 1 onion, 1 bell pepper, 3 celery stalks with no measurement and our veggies happened to be large.

We used the left over chicken from the Rosemary Roasted of last night. We replaced the rice with left over polenta from the Presto Polenta of Aug 23. We omitted the frozen okra because we were too lazy to go get some plus I can live without it unless it's pickled or fried anyway. Also, it's optional in the recipe.

This dish is filling and satisfying and feels healthy. I was just a tad bored. Next time, I would kick it up with some cayenne or jalapenos.

3. August 24, 2009, dinner
Rosemary Roasted Chicken, page 128, 4 points for 1/6 chicken, star rating withheld
Garlic, rosemary, a good roast chicken (massaged under skin with butter) - who wouldn't like these? It seems so simple. Apply recipe to the chicken, throw it in the oven, remove, carve and eat. But what if dry chicken is unacceptable to you? What is you're an anti-over-cooked food freak like me? Then following the FDA's suggestion of reaching an internal temp of 180F in the thigh meat, a level sure to kill and rekill any cootie that even thought of living in that carcass, a level that will make every drop of moisture and chicken goodness a mere fantasy...well, it will make you very sad at the least and probably leave you hungry. Rebel that I am, I opted for 160 degrees in the inner breast. What did this get me? A moist breast - Yay. And thighs that had red in the juice - Boo.

An important ingredient in this recipe is Light Butter. Land O Lakes makes this product. The good news is that its first ingredient is indeed butter. Also, it has only 50 calories per Tbsp. The bad news is that there are 19 ingredients in this product. Some are kinda hard to say, many are hard to interpret.

The freshly picked rosemary and minced garlic were yummy of course. The recipe is light on salt but you can always catch up on that. We will try this recipe again. Mike will cook next time and he will butcher the chicken beforehand so he can remove the white meat before the dark.

Note: The recipe calls for you to discard the skin (no surprise, WW!). Still, I appreciate whatever flavor comes from it before it gets 86ed.

2. August 23, 2009, lunch
Fish Tacos with Crunchy Slaw, page 163 - 6 points/2 tacos = 4/5 stars
What a relief to finally eat some real corn tortillas (6"). Not that the multi grain have been killing me, but still. This dish is crunchy, spicy, savory and satisfying. Very summery. The minced chipotles en adobo brought a tear or two to my eye. The slaw did not suffer with the reduced fat dressing. The recipe calls for cod or haliut. We used the former and it was the worst part of the dish. Not bad, just boring. Extra lime squeeze and a tad of salt did the trick. We broiled the fish this time. Next time I might blacken it or grill it outside to get more of a crunchy tasty crust on it. Well worth the 6 points.

1. August 23, 2009, dinner
Presto Polenta with Goat Cheese, Corn, Tomatoes, and Basil, page 166 - 6 points/1.25 cup polenta, 1/2 cup tomato mixture, 2 Tbs goat cheese = 5/5 stars
Comforting and delicious! I would have used frozen corn but Mike went for the fresh and it made a difference consistency wise. It's hard to go wrong with grits n cheese! The recipe calls for cherry tomatoes, which we used and enjoyed, but I would recommend using whatever the most flavorful tomatoes you can lay your hands on. The fresh basil gave the dish that little bump into fanciness...if grits can ever be considered fancy. Generous portion, a bargain at 6 points.

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