Saturday, February 9, 2013

Baked Tilapia with Garlic and Dill

I'm not a big fan of fish - especially fishy tasting fish, but I recognize the health benefits and try to have it once or twice a week. My repertoire is limited - salmon, trout, pickerel and now tilapia!
Tilapia is a very mild, white fleshed fish. If you are not a fish lover, try this one!

 I chose to create a garlic dill topping and baked the tilapia in a 450° oven. This was easy to prepare and resulted in a tasty dish that I definitely will make again.
I would have preferred to use fresh dill but I was unable to buy any this week in the places that normally carry it. So I had to rely on frozen.  This recipe made enough sauce for 3 pieces of fish. Double for more or if you like a lot of sauce,

Garlic & Dill Topping for Tilapia

1 clove of crushed garlic
1  heaping tablespoon finely chopped  fresh or frozen dill

(Grind with a  mortar and pestle if you have)

Add 1-2 Tbsp. Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
Juice of 1/2 small lime
Pinch of salt (optional)

Mix together and spread on tilapia which has been rinsed and dried. I put it into pan lined with foil and sprayed with vegetable spray,

Bake at 450° for about 20 min. My tilapia had thick and thin parts, so I needed this much time for the thickest parts to cook thoroughly.

The topping kept the fish moist as it baked, and it resulted in a very tasty meal.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

TVP Stroganoff

In my attempt to prepare vegetarian meals a few times a week, I bought some TVP (Textured vegetable Protein) on impulse when I was in my local Bulk Barn. It is an incredibly cheap source of protein - I paid $1.19 for 3 cups worth. It is low in sodium and fat, high in fibre and protein. It is neutral in taste and takes on the flavours of the sauces in which it is cooked. It provides the texture of ground beef in dishes like chili, soups, stews, burgers and sauces. Dry product will keep up to a year in a sealed container in a cool location.  Once hydrated, it should be refrigerated and used within 2-3 days.

The origin of this recipe is from "The Good Cook Book" by Yves, the company who makes a variety of veggie cuisine. It is loosely based on their recipe for stroganoff which uses Yves Veg. Burger patties.

To rehydrate the TVP, pour 7/8 of a cup of boiling water over 1 cup of TVP granules. Stir it up and let it stand for 10 minutes. This makes approx. 2 cups of usable TVP in the following recipe.
I rehydrated it with Kitchen Basics Low Sodium Vegetable stock - thinking that it would result in a more flavourful dish.

TVP Stroganoff

2 cups hydrated TVP

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup red wine, white wine or veg.stock
2 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. prepared mustard
1 tsp. salt free seasoning -(eg. Mrs. Dash or 21 Seasoning Salute) 
1/2 tsp.salt
pinch black pepper
1-3/4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup light or regular sour cream
1 cup frozen green peas (optional)
4 cups cooked broad egg noodles or rice

  • Hydrate the TVP and set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, saute the onion and garlic over medium heat until the onion is soft.
  • Add the sliced mushrooms and saute until they start to brown. 
  • Add the 1/2 cup of wine or veg, stock and allow it to reduce by half.
  • Stir in the flour, tomato paste, mustard, salt and pepper and stir for a couple minutes to avoid scorching. 
  • Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the stock - slowly, stirring to avoid lumps.
  •  Return to heat and add the rest of the vegetable stock and the TVP. Cook gently at a lower temp. for 5 minutes.
  • Remove about 1/2 cup of the hot liquid from the pan and add it slowly to the sour cream. This is to prevent the sour cream from curdling when it gets added to the pot of hot ingredients.
  • Add the peas. (I just wanted the pop of colour...this is optional)
  • Stir this mixture into the saucepan.
  • Heat thoroughly - but do not boil.
  • Serve over cooked noodles.
Here's how it looks dry:

and how it looks when rehydrated: 

When I make it again, I will double the amount of mushrooms and omit the red wine and opt for some additional herbs and possibly double the tomato paste for flavour. I found it to be somewhat bland. I'll take some time to research and see what others use for spicing up a stroganoff and embellish the recipe. After all, I still have a couple cups of the TVP to use up.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Skinny Smoothie

I am a sucker for Infomercials and am often convinced that some of the "As seen on TV" items are must-haves. So I own a Magic Bullet! The device makes good single serving smoothies. I also have a blender which can do the same trick, but my Magic Bullet is accessible and easy to use.

My "Skinny Smoothie" was "invented" one day when I had no skim milk in the fridge and had already dumped the fruit ingredients and yogurt into the container. But I did have flavored Vitamin Water, bought on a whim on sale...seduced by the "Only 10 Calories" label. It worked....and my "Skinny Smoothie" was born!

Today's smoothie contains a banana and frozen raspberries, yogurt and vitamin water. Any fruit combination works. I usually pair a banana with some other fruit as the banana makes it nice and thick!

Now that fruit is "free" on the Weight Watcher point system, this refreshment is very Weight Watcher friendly!

Skinny Smoothie

Place in blender:

1 banana
1/2 cup frozen raspberries or any fruit
1 container yogurt (I used Iogo 35 calorie product)

Top up with flavoured vitamin water or skim (no fat) milk.

Option: add 1 tbsp. ground flax  (but be sure to clean your blender right away because it really sticks!)

Blend well and enjoy!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

My Kitchen Must Have's

My Top 3 Seasonings

I've taken a long hiatus from blogging and from WeightWatchers®! And of course, the inevitable happened....I put back on some of the weight that I lost when I diligently tracked my points and knocked of the pounds in a regulated fashion. The story of my life, it seems!
I've returned to Weight Watchers®...and I will resume blogging. It seems to work best for me when I am accountable and track my points even though it involves planning and careful preparation.  I find myself referring to my blog for recipes I've posted in the past - so blogging is a useful endeavor. I also found that the challenge of coming up with new recipes or altering existing recipes to lower the fat and sugar content and yet retain flavor is a way to keep me motivated.

I've decided to devote this blog to some of my kitchen "Must Haves"

For seasoning with an Asian slant, I like the Bragg's All Purpose Liquid Soy Seasoning®. It's all natural, low sodium and a great substitute for Soy Sauce. Among my husbands dietary restrictions are a salt restriction, so this works very well. It's available in Superstore® and health food stores.

Another favorite seasoning is a Trader Joe's® exclusive product called "21 Seasoning Salute®" which is only available in the US. It contains no salt and is a lovely blend of herbs. When I am in Trader Joe's® in US cities, I stock up since I can't get it in Canada. I have converted a number of friends to the seasoning so now I have to bring home enough to share and enough for my own use. I use it on meats, potatoes, in soups....everywhere that needs a flavor boost.

Another of my Must Have's is a Fajita Seasoning from Victorian Epicure®. A little goes a long way, and it is a very low sodium seasoning. It adds a nice kick and a Southwest flavor to many stir fry dishes.

Since I am trying to cut back on fat and salt, these seasonings are indispensable.

My #1 Food Prep Must Have

As a kitchen tool, I could not survive without my Salad Spinner. I use it every day and could not imagine food preparation without it.  I have worn out several over the years and have now graduated to one I consider the cream of the crop: my OXO® salad spinner. It carries a $30 price tag, so I waited until I saw it on sale!

Now I'd better get to work creating taste tempting recipes that will help keep me on my weight loss track!