Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pork Stir-Fry

Wok this Way, Devotees of Dainty Cooking!

This is such a terrific recipe, and it really takes about 10 -- 15 minutes to do, thanks to the miracle of frozen veggies. Also, I usually buy a more-standard 2-lb pork tenderloin, and then I freeze half to use for kebabs or cutlets. This stir fry bursts with flavor, though, and the crunchy veggies are just perfect in this warm, slightly sweet sauce.

Pork Stir-Fry

You'll need:

1 lb. lean pork tenderloin, chopped into small chunks or in long strips, to your preference
2 t. peanut or sesame oil
4 minced cloves of garlic
1 T. grated ginger (I like to grate it fresh, but you can use dried ginger, just use less since dried herbs/spices tend to be more intense)
1 t. red pepper flakes (optional)
1 lb. frozen stir-fry veggies (pick a big bag of your favorites!)
1 t. cornstarch
1/4 C. water
1 t. orange marmalade*
3 T. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 t. rice vinegar (you can totally use regular vinegar)
1 T. unsalted soy nuts (you can substitute pine nuts or sesame seeds if you like)

Get your wok or a big skillet all heated up, over medium-high heat. Add in 1 tsp of the oil and brown your pork until just done. Reserve and keep warm. Add in your other t. of oil and then the garlic, ginger and pepper flakes (if using). Let these get blended and fragrant, about 1 -- 2 minutes. Then toss in your frozen, un-thawed veggies. These will need to cook until thawed, about 6 -- 8 minutes. Stir occasionally, making sure they get good and coated with the ginger and garlic. Meanwhile, mix up your cornstarch and water. When your veggies are soft, add in the soy sauce, vinegar, marmalade and cornstarch mixture, and then bring it all to a boil. Finally stir in your pork and let it all get heated together. Top with soy nuts and serve over warm brown rice!

Also, I have found these wonderful egg rolls by Kahiki, in the frozen section of your grocery store! The vegetable egg rolls are only 70 calories each and they're really crunchy and good, so have those baking while you're whipping up this very easy stir-fry. It's only 5 pts on WW, so about 275 -- 325 calories.

* I ran out of orange marmalade and didn't realize when I started cooking last night! Story of my life... Anyway, I mixed up 1/2 t. of reduced fat peanut butter, 1/2 t. of honey and a splash of lemon juice and used that as a substitute, and HONEY, it was GOOD.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Beef Stroganoff

This is one of my husband's very favorite dishes, and who can blame him? It's creamy, rich and involves noodles! I always think of it as gourmet Hamburger Helper. This version is nice and lean, making it only 6 WW points per serving, about 375 -- 400 calories, and it makes 4 nice-sized helpings. This is also a recipe I'm particularly proud of, since he's never figured out that it's low calorie.

Beef Stroganoff, the Dainty Way

You'll need:

6 oz. egg noodles, cooked, drained and kept warm
10 oz. lean beef loin, cut in long strips.
1 thinly sliced, small onion
2 C. sliced mushrooms (I love to use baby bellas for this!)
1 T. unsalted butter
4 t. flour
1 C. low-sodium beef broth
1 t. Dijon mustard
1/2 t. each paprika, salt, fresh ground pepper
1/4 C. light sour cream

Brown your beef in a large skillet and transfer to a good-sized plate. Spray the skillet with Pam (or similar) and saute the onion and mushrooms until soft and fragrant. Transfer these to the beef plate. Keep that plate warm!

Next, melt your butter and gradually sprinkle in the flour. Cook, stirring, until bubbly. Slowly stir in the broth, then add mustard and seasonings. Cook, stirring, until nice and thick. Finally stir in the sour cream, and combine well into the sauce. Add in your beef plate, and let them get heated through.

You can either serve this over the noodles or stir the noodles into the skillet at the last minute and get everything nice and combined. I sprinkle each plate with freshly chopped parsley and serve with some whole wheat rolls and a big salad!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Easy Bread Spread

This is one of my very favorite Dainty tricks: I buy a nice loaf of "Take and Bake" bread (get the whole wheat kind for extra fiber!) from the bakery of my grocery story (the beloved Harris Teeter) and dress it up for company. This spread I created the other night is delicious and easy. You can make huge batches of it and refrigerate it -- as I used to do with the full-fattening version I once made. It's only 1 point on WW, and around 100 calories (estimated). Plus the whole Wheat bread, that makes an easy and delicious 3 points for 1/4 a slender loaf!

Bread Spread

Preheat your broiler to 500.

You'll need:

1 baked baguette, whole wheat, preferably
1/2 lemon: the zest and juice
1 -- 2 oz Feta cheese (you can use flavored or regular, depending on what flavor medley you want with the main dish)
1 triangle of "Laughing Cow" lite cheese -- any flavor!
1 -- 2 T. minced garlic (to taste)
freshly chopped basil, parsley or chives -- about 1 -- 2 T. each, or whatever you may be in the mood for.
1/4 C. fat-free butter spray (Parkay or I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, or you can substitute margarine of any brand, so long as it's softened before you toss it in the food processor)

This is a recipe full of variables, which you can use to your advantage. If you want to make a garlic bread, then use more garlic, and season it with chopped chives and parsley, plus use the garlic flavored Laughing Cow cheese. If you want a lighter, herbier taste, go with plain cheese, chopped basil and then add a little salt and pepper. Be creative! If I'm serving a heavy, flavorful dish, I go with a plainer bread, whereas if I'm serving a more bland pasta dish, I serve the garlic flavor.

First slice your baguette down its full-length so you've got two long, even halves of the loaf. Then gently score each half into 8 equal portions (so you can easily cut it into pieces later, and also to allow the spread to melt into these cracks). Now toss your lemon zest, juice, and cheese into the food processor and let them get good and blended. Finally blend in the butter substitute (or margarine) and get the spread nice and combined (using your spatula to smoosh down unruly ingredients if necessary in the blending process). Take the spread and divide it, spreading each half evenly over your baguette halves. Then broil the bread 5 inches from the heat, about 5 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

This is so good, my husband always goes back for seconds, and he's not even a bread freak like I am!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tiny-Waist Tacos

This is such a great, easy supper that really does not reveal in any way that it's super light. My husband loves these tacos, and I let him pile his high with his own condiments, though I stick to reduced-fat sour cream and light cheese -- with lots of shredded lettuce! Also, I usually make some brown rice and mix in a cup of fresh or frozen/thawed corn in the last minute or two of boiling, plus some salt, pepper and paprika for an easy Spanish rice to go with these delicious, fulfilling tacos.

Tacos for a Teeny-Tiny Waist
You'll need:

8 taco shells, any brand, heated
2 T. chili powder
1 T. cumin
2 tsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. minced garlic
1 small onion, diced
8 oz. lean ground beef (you can definitely substitute chicken or ground turkey with this!)
8 oz. tomato sauce
8 oz. drained, rinsed kidney beans (or any other bean you like! You can use corn or peas, also)

First heat your tacos in the oven, according to package directions. Then heat a skillet over medium and add the cumin and chili powder, letting them toast for just 30 seconds until fragrant. Then add the oil and stir together with the spices, into a paste. Toss in the onion and saute until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and let it get warm, about 1 minute. Finally add in your beef and brown it all over. Then pour in the tomato sauce and beans, stirring until combined, letting all the flavors mingle, about 5 minutes.

I know this is only 6 points on WW for two tacos (around 350 calories), each with 1/4 C. meat filling and 2 T. of reduced-fat sour cream. I usually mix parsley and chives into the sour cream before dolloping for a nice extra zing. These are so good and delicious, and my husband is always so happy to come home to them!