Saturday, January 26, 2008

Green Beans with Chickpeas

Good Gravy, Paula Deen! You must be readin' my blog! Here's a Paula Deen recipe from her delightful magazine, for some delicious beans and peas which are only 1.5 WW points or only about 170 calories per serving! The Deb doesn't have to tell you a) how much I love Paula Deen and/or b) how homey and delicious these are coming from her kitchen.

Green Beans with Chickpeas

You'll need a big old Dutch Oven (or the enormous Calphalon sauce pot, which is what I used) and also:

2 C. reduced sodium Chicken Broth
1 C. chopped onion
1 t. minced garlic
2 (16 oz) packages frozen green beans, thawed
1 16 oz can chickpeas (my mother dislikes chickpeas, so I suggested corn as a substitute, and I imagine any other bean you fancy would work nicely here, too)
2 t. lemon zest
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 t. garlic salt
1 t. fresh parsley
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ground white pepper (you can use regular pepper, but use about 1/2 t. since black pepper isn't as strong as the white)
3 T. butter (hurrah for real butter! In small amounts, I can really taste it and it's a big treat)

In the Dutch oven, combine broth, onion and garlic; bring to a boil over high heat. Boil 10 minutes. Stir in green beans and chickpeas, reduce heat, simmer for 6 minutes. Stir in lemon zest, juice and seasonings. Add butter, stirring until melted.

Mmm. These were so good. It makes 8 servings, but I just gobbled down the last helping with lunch -- they don't last long!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

More Seafood!

Well, loyal readers, if you like seafood, you're in a for a big, fat (but non-fattening!) treat today! I've several new recipes to share AND some news!

I have been inspired by fellow-bloggeur and food-watcher, Jelly Kean. Please go have a gander at her very funny site, and let it inspire you all to start your own weight-loss blogs! Anyway, what really inspires me about JellyKean is that she's brave. Oh, yes. Much braver than the Dainty Deb, who safely hides behind her massive picture collection of pin-up girls. JellyKean is actually going to post a picture of her hiney sans couture on her birthday if she's not raised a certain amount of money for a hunger charity. Hats (and, obviously, undergarments) off to JellyKean!

While I'd love to something similar, this is a family site (read: my mom reads this) and I'm frankly just not brave enough to bare my assets on the web. SO, what I WILL do, in honor of JellyKean's remarkable bravery and in thanks for her inspiring me to keep up with my own weight loss/maintenence, is post a picture of myself on my birthday, just not in my birthday suit -- in a bikini. Hey, I think that's fair. I'll have it taken just like one of my beloved pin-up girls, and my mom will still not have a heart attack. If I can lose 10 lbs and maintain that loss, you all will finally get a glimpse of the real Deb. August 10th, 2008. I promise.

That being said, here is some delicious seafood with low-calorie and low-fat counts!

Corn Chowder with Grilled Citrus Shellfish
Totally stole this from the February issue of Redbook! It's so delicious! And pretty! I had to take a picture!

You'll need:
8 large deveined/shelled shrimp
8 large sea scallops
1 vanilla bean, seeds well-scraped (if you can't get a a vanilla bean, use 1 tsp. of vanilla extract. It's not the same, but it works)
Zest and juice of 1 SMALL orange (don't use a big orange! It will make your seafood taste like orange segments that have shellfish inside!)
4 C. thawed frozen corn kernels
1 4 oz. can green chilis, diced, drained (Redbook called for 2 cans of this, but that just seemed a bit much. And it'll turn your chowder greenish gray. Blech.)
1 C. chopped onion
1 t. EACH Cumin, Oregano
2 t. minced garlic
3 C. reduced-fat chicken broth
1/2 C. Fat-free half-and-half
1/3 C. chopped cilantro
16 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained really well
salt, pepper to taste
cook spray

Place your shellfish in a shallow bowl and add vanilla, zest and juice, brushing to make sure they're well-coated on each side. Let this sit at room temp while you make the chowder.
Coat a large pot with cook spray and head over medium high. Add corn, chiles, onion, spices and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes, letting the onion get translucent.
Add in your chicken broth and bring to a boil. Simmer at low for 15 minutes. Once it's simmered, either use a stick/immersion blender to puree it, or do what I did -- throw it all in your food processor and process the hell out of it. This is a lot of fun. Especially if you laugh maniacally between pulses. Anyway. Return to the pot and stir in half-and-half and 2 T. of the cilantro. Toss the remaining cilantro with your drained tomatoes for the topping.
While the chowder is reheating in your pot, make sure you've heated a grill pan over medium heat (you can also do this in a skillet, but it's easier to use skewers with a grill pan). Season shellfish with a little salt and pepper and coat pan with cook spray. Grill or cook about 2 minutes per side (you could also broil them, come to think of it)or until cooked through. You can use skewers or just divvy up the shellfish onto 4 beds of rice on your plates. Ladle the chowder out into 4 bowls and top with the tomato mixture. This was so warm and filling! It tasted just citrusy enough for us to crave summer, but the soup was just perfect for a chilly NC night. At only 275 calories per serving, and 2 grams of fat, you cannot feel bad about this! 5 WW points! OH, AND! 17 grams of protein! So go to the gym after!

And now, Chef Jim (my pal from the local Teet) has kindly given me his KISS Method for seafood, which I love and use all the time, so I know my readers will get a lot of use from it!

Chef Jim's KISS* Seafood

First select one pound of fish fillets from the following list:

Grouper, Halibut, Mahi Mahi, Salmon, Snapper, Tuna Steaks

Now, choose 2 T. of cooking oil from this list:

Butter (I use a fat free butter spray that cooks nicely on the stovetop), canola oil, flavored butter, Chef's Butter, Olive oil, Corn oil

Make sure you have some salt, pepper and Old Bay or 1 t. of blackening seasoning and 1/4 C. of whatever wine is on hand, that you already have open (I love a glass of wine while I cook!)

Sprinkle, salt, pepper and a little Old Bay (or, like Chef Jim does, use a blackening season) on flesh sides of fillets. Heat your oil/butter in a large skillet (make sure it's got a lid) over medium high. Place fillets seasoned side down and cook uncovered until a medium dark golden brown. Don't blacken! Who wants to eat something that looks like it's got tarred scales?! Turn fillets and then turn off heat for one minute, allowing the pan to cool (this makes for easy clean-up despite the wine you're going to add). Add wine and cover the pan. Cook on very VERY low heat for 3 minutes or until fish flakes when tested with a fork. This steams/poaches the fish for a little extra flavor!

I love this method and it really is easy. What I love is that it literally works with every fish I've ever tossed into my Calphalon. Thanks, Jim!

The second "s", Jim assures me, if for "sir" or "sweetie"... :)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Crab Cakes

This was one of the very first dishes Deb made on her own. Inspired by a photo in an old Weight Watcher's cookbook, and in a bizarre phase where she coated all of her main dish meat with crushed corn flakes, this is the best of the Deb's early years -- trust her. Not-so-good contributions from this same time period include a freakishly salthy onion beef stew in the crock pot which screwed up the Deb and her husband's tastebuds for a solid week.

Anyway. I've never served this dish to anyone who remotely likes seafood and had them either a) dislike it or b) guess that it's low calorie. The secret is getting a good quality crab meat. Wait until your local grocery store has special pricing on crab. Be sure to get only Jumbo Lump. It really makes a difference in how well the cakes hold up while cooking!

Calorie-Friendly Crab Cakes
You'll need:

1 lemon
1 lb. Jumbo Lump Crab meat, picked over (if you get the meat fresh, vs. from a can, the easy way to get the shell bits out is to spread the crab in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake on 350 for about 5 -- 10 minutes. It'll make the shell bits super easy to see and get rid of)
3 finely chopped scallions
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1/4 C. reduced calorie Mayo
3 drops tobasco sauce (optional)
1 T. Old Bay
1 t. dill
3 T. plain breadcrumbs
1 C. crushed corn flakes
2 T. canola oil

Grate about 1 T. of lemon zest off your lemon (only the yellow! Don't get down to the pith -- it's bitter as gall) and then squeeze said lemon into one big bowl. Add crabmeat, scallions, mustard, mayo, tobasco, Old Bay, dill, and breadcrumbs. Combine well and divide into 8 little crab balls. Shape each ball into a patty (be gentle but firm) and coat through corn flake crumbs. Cover your plate of crab cakes with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge to let get comfortable with their new condition for 15 minutes. This will really help when you get them in the hot pan -- they won't fall apart easily.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high and let it get good and hot. Then add in your crab cakes and cook about 7 minutes per side. The corn flakes should get nice and golden brown.

These are stupidly delicious and just the right texture for crabcakes. Not too crunchy, not too mushy. They pair well with brown rice and a simple spinach salad or any side vegetable. Only 6 WW points per cake, and about 300 calories.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Happy New Year, loyal readers! Hope you got everything you wanted for the holidays! I bet that a lot of you are renewing weight-related resolutions and thus literally tightening your belts in preparation for this Spring and Summer, which will undoubtedly bring warm weather and a hot new YOU in skimpier clothing!

So before we get to the delicious homefries recipe, a word about New Year's Resolutions. They aren't complete crap, no matter how much money gyms and diet pills make off of the New Year pressure to lose weight and get fit. I quit smoking four years ago thanks to a New Year's Resolution, and I lost the weight I promptly put on (I ate my own body weight in Chex Mix thanks to nicotine cravings) similarly with another New Year's Resolution. The key is to not forget it come February. Think of yourself a full year from January -- at your parents house with all your family and friends, or at home throwing a swank party with homemade Dainties, or in some fabulous exotic destination for the holidays... Doesn't matter where you'll be, just imagine yourself THERE and healthier, slimmer and probably happier. Let yourself imagine all the compliments you'll be getting from old friends and new acquaintances. That's what the Deb does when she wrestles with the temptation to devour an entire box of peanut brittle.

So. That being said, it should also be noted that the weather has gotten a bit chillier outside. You probably won't be in the mood to grill up some low-calorie scallops or make a refrigerated chicken salad. I'm going to try and provide you with Winter Warmth recipes that will satisfy the post-holiday blues AND keep you on-track for whatever your New Year's goals may be!

This is a great side item for the colder months!


You'll need:

2 --3 Yukon potatoes, cooked in the microwave and sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. minced garlic
1 t. paprika
salt, pepper and Old Bay to taste
Butter flavored cook spray (i.e. Pam)
1 t. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high and add potatoes, onion and garlic. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Spray with cooking spray once during the cooking. Remove from heat and stir in seasonings and cheese. Serves 2 -- 3 (though this is an easy recipe to increase -- just bump up the number of potatoes you want to use and add extra seasonings). Only 2 Weight Watcher's points, and just under 200 calories per serving. These are great with just about anything, especially as a companion to nice seasonal main dishes like roasts and casseroles.