Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Culinary Curiosities #3

Apologies for the delay in posting, but with a hit and a miss last week, I felt we should combine the previous culinary escapade with this week's recipes.  Also this week, I'm celebrating a personal goal of having lost over 50 lbs!  Yay!  And Melissa is well on her way!

For this post, we tested four recipes in total, three from Lisa Lillien's 'Hungry Girl: 200 Under 200' recipe book, and one from Weight Watcher's 'Take-Out Tonight!'.

Sweet 'N Chunky Chicken Salad (Hungry Girl)

Sweet, creamy, and delicious!  This chicken salad is very easy to make, and it's great by itself or on a sandwich.  Thumbs up for versatility.

Ingredients: lean chicken breast, cucumber, red grapes, apples, fat-free yogurt, fat-free mayo, Splenda, lemon-pepper seasoning, salt
(yields 2 servings)

Easy as can be.  Chop up the ingredients and mix together.  You can, of course, eat it right away, but we let ours sit for a few hours to let all of the yummy flavors combine.  I'm not afraid to admit that I scarfed mine down at dinnertime and enjoyed every bite!

And half of the recipe, one serving, is only 145 calories.  Huzzah!


Fluffy Lemon Squares (Hungry Girl)

Unfortunately, these were not as successful.  The flavor was there, but the texture ended up being... a little odd.

Crust: Fiber One bran cereal, light butter, Splenda
Filling: Fat-free liquid egg substitute, white sugar, whole-wheat flour, lemon juice, lemon zest, and baking powder
(yields 9 servings)

Certainly easy enough to make.  Mix crust ingredients together and bake.  Mix filling, add to crust, and bake again.

Our verdict?  The filling was tasty - zesty and fresh, but the crust was just too soft, breadlike.  The whole-wheat also seemed to add a strange texture.  It had a lot of potential, but didn't live up to expectations.  Melissa and I think it may work better with a low-fat graham cracker crust instead.

Calories for one square: 121.  For the same amount of calories, you can get a real, though slightly smaller, lemon bar from Starbucks.


Shrimp-and-Pork Wontons (Weight Watchers)

These are sooo tasty and sooo fun to make!

Ingredients: pork, shrimp, low-sodium soy sauce, hoisin sauce, dark sesame oil, cornstarch, garlic, green onions, and wonton wraps
(yields 40 wontons)

Very straight-forward. Finely chop the pork and shrimp, probably the most difficult step, and mix in the other ingredients.  Add 1/2 tablespoon to one wonton wrapper, apply water to the edges, and fold-up into a little purse shape.  Repeat 40 times.

If you don't want to cook them right away, you just need to store them under a damp paper towel.  Make sure to put cornstarch on the pan, so they don't stick.  Once you're ready to eat them, boil them twenty at a time.  Once the dumplings float to the top, they're done.

We paired ours with a low-calorie dipping sauce made from left over green onions and low-sodium soy sauce. These were incredibly delicious from the first bite to the last.

And one wonton is only 35 calories, so it's very easy to count how many you need for your food budget.


104-Calorie Crème Brûlée (Hungry Girl)

Oh my goodness, you must try this!  Never in our lives did we think that crème brûlée could be this low-calorie and this sumptuous.  Wow, were we wrong!  The cookbook informed us that this recipe was developed with a crème brûlée expert... that must be why it tastes so out-of-this-world.

Ingredients: fat-free egg substitute, fat-free half&half, Splenda, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract, fat-free evaporated milk, sugar-free vanilla powdered creamer
(yields 4 servings)

We ended up doing a double-batch, because I knew I'd want to have left-overs for my family to try.  (The Moys are huge crème brûlée fans and also give their seal of approval to this recipe.)  

The preparation is the same as normal crème brûlée.  You prepare the custard mixture, then separate it into four ramekins, or eight in our case.  Fill the pans halfway with water, and bake the crème brûlées in the water bath.  

Next, they have to cool for a few hours. Once you're ready to eat them, sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar on top and break out the butane torch to carmelize!  (We used a broiler, but I highly recommend a torch - it's much faster and more effective.)

The result was heavenly: 104 calories of sweet, creamy bliss.  It doesn't get better than this.


Stay tuned for our next installment.  We'll include a re-vamped, low-cal shepherd's pie and some frozen s'more treats!

Thanks for reading!

*Dishes are rated out of five spoons on taste, creativity, and ease of preparation.

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