Sunday, June 11, 2006

Shepherd's Pie Make Over

Shepherd's Pie Makeover

My favourite shepherd's pie by Rachel Ray is a whopping 17 points per serving by my estimation. When you only get 20 points a day to eat, that is too many for one meal. I have managed to whittle the points down to 7 per serving. Hubby could not tell much difference between the taste of the old and new versions, and he takes his shepherd's pie very seriously. Even if you aren't on Weight Watchers, this new version is much healthier and lower in fat and calories.

2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 tablespoons light spreadable cream cheese (herb and garlic flavour adds a nice touch) or light sour cream

½ cup broth or reserved potato cooking water


1-1/4 pounds extra-lean ground beef

½ pound fresh mushrooms, any kind, finely diced

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 tablespoon light butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon beef broth, divided

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

½ cup frozen peas

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain the potatoes, reserving ½ cup water if needed. Pour into a bowl and mash with water or broth and cream cheese until almost smooth.

While potatoes are cooking, spray a large skillet with non-stick spray and preheat over medium high heat. Add beef and mushrooms to pan and season with salt and pepper. Brown mixture for 3-4 minutes. Drain off drippings , if necessary, and add carrots and onions. Cook veggies with meat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. In a second small skillet or saucepan cook butter with flour and 1 tablespoon beef broth for 2 minutes. Whisk in remaining broth and Worcestershire sauce. Thicken gravy 1 minute. Add gravy to meat and vegetables. Stir in peas.

Preheat broiler to high. Fill a small rectangular casserole with meat and vegetable mixture. Spoon potatoes over meat evenly. Top potatoes with paprika and broil 6 to 8 inches from heat until potatoes are evenly browned. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Estimated points per serving: 12 points in each of 4 very large servings, 7 points in each of 6 generous servings.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Rainy Day Fun

It's threatening to rain today. Time to get out the bean box and whip up a batch of playdough for when we run out of movies.

Smelly Play Dough

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup salt
1/4 oz package of unsweetened fruit flavoured drink mix (like Kool Aid)
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon cooking oil

Combine flour, salt, drink mix and cream of tartar in medium saucepan. Stir in water and cooking oil. Heat and stir until thickened (consistancy should resemble mashed potatoes) Remove from heat. Cool for 5 minutes. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Knead until dry but pliable. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container (lasts longer if kept in the fridge) Makes 2 cups.

Yummy Playdough
1-16oz container prepared white frosting
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
food colouring

Beat frosting and peanut butter in large bowl until blended. Gradually knead in icing sugar until very stiff. Knead in food colouring. Knead in additional icing sugar if dough is sticky. Makes 3 cups. Store in refrigerator up to 4 weeks.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Never-Fail Rice

This is the way my mom taught me to cook rice and is the only way I can make rice and not have it boil over and make a mess. Don't ask me why, I have tried every trick and I cannot do it. I hate cleaning up boiled-over rice.

1 part rice (1 cup is enough for four side-dish servings)
2 parts water (add a bit extra for brown and wild)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Grease a casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid. Boil the water. Add bouillon powder for extra flavour, or boil some broth. Add rice, salt to taste, a dab of butter and boiling liquid to the casserole dish. Cover and bake. Don't peek!

For white rice--30 to 40 minutes
For brown rice and wild blends--40 to 50 minutes

That is it! Easy and you get a tasty crispy crust around the edges of the pan. The rice simmers and never boils so there is no mess.

Tequila Shrimp

Anther old favourite from Cooking Light magazine. It is a light and summery treat that takes minutes and won't turn your kitchen into a sauna. Skip the rice and serve the shrimp over a salad. If you have the tequila out anyway, don't forget the margaritas!

Tequila Shrimp

1 (3 1/2-ounce) bag boil-in-bag long-grain rice (just make 4 servings of rice)
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic (two fat cloves, minced or use your microplane grater)
1/4 cup tequila
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Lime wedges (essential!)

Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.
While rice cooks, combine 1/4 teaspoon salt and next 4 ingredients (1/4 teaspoon salt through black pepper) in a large zip-top plastic bag; add shrimp. Seal and shake to coat.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp; cook 3 minutes, turning once. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add tequila and 1 tablespoon cilantro; cook 1 minute.

Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon cilantro, and lime juice; pour over rice, tossing to coat. Serve shrimp over rice mixture. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 4 ounces shrimp and 1/2 cup rice mixture)

CALORIES 419(22% from fat); FAT 10.1g (sat 1.6g,mono 2.1g,poly 5.2g); PROTEIN 37.5g; CHOLESTEROL 259mg; CALCIUM 104mg; SODIUM 548mg; FIBER 0.6g; IRON 4.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 31.5g