I’ve been trying out a lot of Weight Watchers recipes, and although some, like the chicken chowder, have been very successful, others have been… less good. OK, they’ve been disasters. I made several vegetable-based dishes that I ended up throwing away, rather than have them take up precious room in my refrigerator. And I need to document those, as a reminder to myself of what not to do (after all, isn’t that at least half the point of experimentation in cooking?), but not today. Today, I’d rather document last night’s success.
I was a little hesitant about how things were going to turn out last night since the dishes were vegetable-heavy: the cause of my downfall in the dishes that ended up in the garbage disposal. But they turned out wonderfully, as good as Chinese take-out. They weren’t exactly the same as Chinese take-out, of course, but they weren’t a pale, flavorless imitation either.
I made three dishes: fried rice, moo shu chicken, and beef with broccoli. Each was based on a Weight Watcher’s recipe, but I made my typical modifications. The results were spicier than what the originals intended, but also lower in points. How cool is it when you modify a dish and it gets more healthful! That almost never happens.
I gathered up all my ingredients and made this at P.’s house. His kitchen is big and clean and has lots of countertop space. It took a good hour and a half to get everything chopped and cooked.
Fried rice is best made with cold, cooked rice. I didn’t have any, so I cooked some brown rice first, and then made the marinade for the chicken and beef for the other two dishes. Once, the rice was cooked, I put it in a container in the freezer and left it there while I made everything else. By that time, the rice was nice and cold, so I finished it up. I’ll describe what I did all at once though, rather than the crazy way I actually did things.
1 1/2 cups cold brown rice
1/4 cup beef broth (chicken or veggie would work too)
1 Tbl soy sauce
1 tsp hot chili oil
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp sesame oil
1 egg + 1/4 cup egg beaters, lightly beaten
2 shredded carrots
6 sliced green onions
1/2 cup frozen green peas, partially thawed
First, I combined the broth, soy sauce, chili oil, and ginger in a bowl. I heated a tsp of the sesame oil in a non-stick pan and stir-fried the eggs until they were cooked, but still moist. I added the eggs to the sauce. Then, I heated the second tsp of oil and stir-fried the carrots and green onions. After about five minutes, I added the rice and the peas and stir-fried them about 10 minutes, until the rice started to brown. Finally, I added the sauce and cooked several more minutes until all the liquid was absorbed/evaporated.
Moo Shu Chicken
The trouble with these was with the pancakes. They actually tasted pretty good, so I guess I just needed to have faith. And a rolling pin.
4 Tbl soy sauce
4 minced garlic cloves
3/4 pound chicken breast, cut into strips
1 tsp ground ginger
2 cups shredded napa cabbage
2 cups shredded bok choy
1 shredded carrot
1/2 cup canned straw mushrooms
4 chopped green onions
1 tsp hot chili oil
I made the marinade of 2 Tbl soy sauce and 2 minced garlic cloves and added the chicken (in a ziplock bag) and refrigerated that while I got to chopping. All was fine until I got to the boy choy. I don’t recall ever preparing bok choy before. Did I shred the leaves? The stalks? Both?
As always, I turned to the Internet and found that both are edible, but the stalks take longer to cook. They have somewhat of a creamy texture, while the leaves are somewhat like swiss chard. Well, my recipe had me add everything at once, and didn’t mention differing cooking times, so I thought I’d made it easy on myself and just shred the leaves. I saved the stalks for later.
I’d never used canned straw mushrooms either. The recipe said to thinly slice them, but they’re really soft. I just sort of chopped them up. I worried they’d be really mushy in the finished dish, but I barely noticed them.
I used cooking spray, and stir fried the chicken until cooked, then set it aside. I then stir-fried all the vegetables until the cabbage wilted, about five minutes. I added back the chicken and a sauce made of 2 Tbl soy sauce, 2 minced garlic cloves, and 1 tsp hot chili oil.
Then, I made the pancakes. I forgot that P. doesn’t have a rolling pin. The dough was easy enough. I combined 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour with 6 Tbl of cold water and mixed it until it formed a dough. Then, I made 8 little dough balls.
I had to roll each ball out into a very thin pancake. But with no rolling pin, I turned to Ste. Chapelle Ice Wine Riesling.
It worked out OK, but I’d still recommend going with a rolling pin. Once I had flat pancakes, I placed them one by one in a hot pan and flipped them back and forth until they were starting to brown.
(The original recipe recommends serving the moo shu chicken with a bit of hoisin sauce as well.)
Broccoli with Beef
2 Tbl dry sherry
2 Tbl soy sauce
1 Tbl grated gingerroot
6 minced garlic cloves
2 tsp sesame oil
several dried red peppers
1/2 lb beef tenderloin, cut into strips
1 tsp cornstarch
4 cups broccoli florets
3 sliced green onions
I made the marinade in a ziplock bag with the sherry, soy sauce, gingerroot, garlic, 1 tsp of the sesame oil, and the dried red peppers (I took a handful and crushed them). I added the beef and got everything else ready.
The recipe says to drain 1/3 cup of the marinade into a bowl and add the cornstarch and whisk to make the sauce. Mine ended up pretty dry at the end, so you might double the marinade and use all of it for the sauce.
I heated 1 tsp sesame oil in a non-stick pan and added the beef. Actually, it might be better to use an oil that can get hotter (vegetable oil maybe) and use really high heat. The beef could have been crispier. After a couple of minutes, I removed the beef and stir-fried the broccoli for a couple of minutes, then covered it for another minute to steam it. Then, I added the beef back in, along with the sauce, and tossed everything around. Then, I sprinkled the green onions over everything.
It was all really good. Much better than I expected. P. liked it too: “This is low-fat?” I know when he asks that, I’ve done OK. (As you might imagine, it’s much better than “This is low fat, isn’t it.”)The points tally? 4 points per serving for each dish. 1 point additional for each pancake.