Tag Archives: cookbook

Weight Watchers 50th Anniversary Cookbook

72 weight watchers

I’m embarrassed that I have had this cookbook and have been meaning to post a review of it FOREVER.  The nice folks at Saint Martin’s Press sent it to me, and it’s a fantastic cookbook.  The more I use it, the more I love it. I’ve never done Weight Watchers, but I know a lot of people who have with great success.  Even if you are not dieting or involved in Weight Watchers, though, this this is a great cookbook to have in your library.  The recipes are not all about using fat-free ingredients, and shunning food groups, etc.  The focus is on fresh ingredients and healthy cooking tips.

Lemon Basil Three Bean Salad

Lemon Basil Three Bean Salad

There is a blurb about each recipe (a lot are favorites that have been updated).   Servings and portion sizes, and nutritional information with PointsPlus points (if you are following the Weight Watchers 360 program) are also included with the recipes.  Recipes that are vegetarian and/or under 20 minutes to prepare are noted. The recipes are very easy to follow, the photography beautiful, but best of all, the dishes are wonderful.  I have made the Lemon Basil Three Bean Salad about four or five times.  It is my new go to side dish for grilling or having a get together (see recipe below).

Pork Chops with Onion Gravy

Pork Chops with Onion Gravy

I made the Pork Chops with Onion Gravy last night, and it was AMAZING.  The cool thing about it is that you cook the onions in chicken broth, rather than sauteing them in a lot of oil and butter (a la The Barefoot Contessa), but you don’t sacrifice flavor at all.  So you are only using 1 teaspoon of olive oil for the whole dish.  I will definitely make this again.  It is key that you use bone-in pork chops so they stay moist, and this is noted in the recipe.

Huevos Rancheros in Tortilla Cups

Huevos Rancheros in Tortilla Cups

Another recipe I absolutely love is the Huevos Rancheros in Tortilla Cups.  I make this for myself all the time now. I’m the only one who likes spicy foods, so I just make a single portion using our toaster oven.  I love the idea of making the cups using an inverted ramekin or muffin tin.  It works like a charm. And I love baked eggs and Mexican food, so this is one of my favorites.

There are a lot of really simple recipes that I’ve tried out that I am not reviewing here, but that I use regularly and vary to my liking.  Omelettes for Two (you use 2 large eggs and 3 whites),  Canadian Bacon-Cheddar Frittata, Potato Leek Soup, Kale Chips,  Banana “Ice Cream”, Oven Fried Fish and Chips, Vegetable Quesadillas, to name a few.

I chose to highlight these three because they were all very good, and I learned something from them that I think is valuable and that I’ll incorporate into other recipes (e.g. Including edamame in bean salad, and using lemon juice and zest, rather than vinegar; making tortilla cups; and cooking a pile of onions and softening them in chicken broth).

And there are  TON of recipes I want to try out in the future, like:  Bubble Bread with Herbs and Sun Dried Tomatoes, Southwestern Chicken Vegetable Soup, Mexican Chicken Wraps, Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy, Individual Beef Wellingtons, Boston Cream Pie.  These are just a handful of them.  If I were to wait until I made everything, photographed the dishes, wrote about them, and posted about it, this review would take even longer than it has to get out!

Please enjoy these three dishes from Weight Watchers 50th Anniversary Cookbook, and buy the book for more great healthy and delicious recipes!

Lemon Basil Three-Bean Salad

From The Weight Watchers 50th Anniversary Cookbook

Serves 6

20 Min or Less


1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 (15-ounce) can small white, rinsed and drained

2/3 cup cooked shelled green soybeans (edamame)

1/3 sweet onion, finely diced

1/3 red bell pepper, finely diced

5 large basil leaves, thinly sliced

Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, salt, and ground pepper in a medium bowl.  Add the black beans, white beans, soybeans, onion, bell pepper, and basil; toss to coat evenly.  Serve at once, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Per Serving (3/4 cup):  160 Cal, 3 g Total Fat, 0 g Sat Fat, 0 mg Chol, 427 mg Sod, 26g Carb, 8 g Fib, 9g Prot, 94 mg Calc.
PointsPlus value: 4

bean salad

Skillet Pork Chops with Onion Gravy

From Weight Watchers 50th Anniversary Cookbook

Serves 6

4 (6-ounce) bone-in pork loin chops, trimmed

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 sweet onions, thinly sliced

1 ¼ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon whole-grain Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1        Sprinkle the chops with the salt and pepper.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. (I used a cast iron one).  Swirl in the oil, add the chops and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

2        Add the onions, ¼ cup of the broth, and the garlic to the skillet.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very tender, about 12-15 minutes.

3        Sprinkle the onions with the flour; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.  Add the remaining 1 cup broth, mustard, and thyme.  Bring to a boil, stirring until the sauce bubbles and thickens.  Return the chops and any accumulated juices to the skillet.  Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the chops are heated through, 2-3 minutes.

Per Serving (1 chop with ¼ cup sauce):

253 Cal, 11 g Total Fat, 4g Sat Fat, 76 mg Chol, 420 g Sod, 9 g Carb, 2 g Fiber, 29g Prot, 30 mg Calc.

PointsPlus value: 6

Huevos Rancheros in Tortilla Cups

Serves 4


4 (6-inch) corn tortillas

1 (14 ½-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green pepper, celery, and onion

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

½ cup canned diced mild green chiles, drained

2-3 tablespoons mild peepper sauce, such as Frank’s Red Hot

¾ teaspoon ground cumin

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

4 large eggs

¼ cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

  1. Place the oven rack in the center of the oven; preheat the oven to 425 F.  Lightly spray both sides of the tortillas with nonstick spray.  Place 4 inverted custard cups on a baking sheet, and drape a tortilla over each to give it a bowl shape.  (You may also use an inverted 12-cup muffin pan, placing the tortillas over alternate cups.)  Bake until the tortillas are crisped and lightly golden around the edges, 10 minutes.  Remove the tortillas and set them on a rack to cool.
  1. Combine the diced tomatoes, beans, chiles, pepper sauce, cumin, and 2 tablespoons of the cilantro in an ovenproof skillet.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the flavors are blended, 4 minutes.  Break the eggs one at a time, on top of the sauce, spacing them evenly apart.
  1. Immediately place the pan in the oven and bake until the eggs are almost set, 6-8 minutes.  Sprinkle the cheese on top of the eggs and bake until melted, 1 minute.  to serve, place the tortilla cups on serving plates and spoon the eggs and sauce into the tortilla cups.  Garnish with the remaining tablespoon of chopped cilantro and serve immediately.

Per Serving  (1 filled tortilla cup):  289 Cal, 8g Total fat, 3 g Sat Fat, 216 mg Chol, 840 Sod, 40g, Carb, 8 g fib, 17g Prot, 200 mg Calc.

PointsPlus value:  7


Filed under Breakfast, Eggs, Lunch, Pork, Sides

Mrs. Charles Darwin’s Recipe Book

book cover

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this “recipe book” of Emma Darwin awhile ago, before work got crazy.  It’s not just your average cookbook, it’s a documentation of family life in the Darwin household in the middle of the 19th century.  It is filled with reproductions of handwritten recipes and beautiful botanical illustrations, as well as interesting anecdotes and little details about daily life, such as what time the family ate lunch and dinner and how they were “lax” because they didn’t require the children’s nurse to wear the “right cap”.  Another bit of interesting trivia is that both Emma and Charles Darwin were grandchildren of Josiah Wedgewood.  Which is more intriguing — the fact that the father of evolutionary theory had a connection to the famous Wedgewood pottery or the fact that he and his wife were first cousins — I cannot say!

Wedgewood's Water Lily pattern which the Darwin's used

An example of  the Wedgewood Waterlily pattern used by the Darwin’s

The recipes, which have been tested by the authors, Dusha Bateson and Weslie Janeway, give us modern day folk a taste of Victorian England via one of its most esteemed families.   The historical notes are fascinating, and I found myself imagining what it must be like to live in Emma Darwin’s world.  The Darwin household must have been teeming with activity, what with their ten children and a dozen servants living with them as well as numerous visits from family and friends.  I imagine it was a full time job keeping track of the household accounts, the garden, and the livestock!

I hadn’t known that Charles Darwin had a rather delicate constitution and suffered from poor digestion.  The recipe book is filled with rich Victorian age food that is comforting and soothing,  such as puddings (apparently Emma’s original recipe book has more than sixty puddings!) and many other dishes with cream and butter.  Preserving and pickling was quite common at the time, and Emma’s notebook has instructions for preserving eggs, curing beef, pickling, etc.  There is a chapter in the recipe book on preserves that I am looking to make use of in the future (the Quince Jelly sounds wonderful).

custard up close

Since there is a whole chapter devoted to Charles Darwin’s beloved puddings, I knew I had to try one.  I made the Burnt Cream, which is basically Creme Brulee.  I don’t have a blow torch nor a salamander (an iron disc with a long handle that they used to heat the sugar), so I melted the sugar and poured on top. Unfortunately, I did not achieve a hardened layer.  I also tried broiling it to crisp up the sugar with no luck.  So, I served the puddings  turned over on a plate.  The caramelized sugar made a sweet sauce, making the dish more akin to Mexican Flan, which was delicious.

I also made Stewed Spinach because I knew Jamie would love it (and he did)!  It is a simple side dish to throw together easily on a weeknight.  It’s so comforting and good.  And it always makes me happy to see my son eating green food.

spinach 1

The third recipe I tried out was the Gingerbread.  The authors adapted this recipe and used half of Emma’s original amounts (2 1/2 lbs. of flour!) I went a step further and cut that in half and made a loaf of Gingerbread instead of a large square pan of it.  It was also delicious — perfect with tea– and gobbled up by children and adults for a nice afternoon snack.

gingerbread vert

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we did.  It also gave us an added sense of awareness knowing we were eating the same kind of food that was served over a hundred years ago and enjoyed by the Darwins in their cozy home in Down House on the North Downs of Kent, which added to the flavor. 🙂

auburn custard

Recipes from “Mrs. Charles Darwin’s Recipe Book”  by Dusha Bateson and Weslie Janeway, published by Glitterati Incorporated, 2008

Burnt Cream

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream

2 eggs, separated

2 ounces (50g) superfine (caster) sugar, plus 1 teaspoon

1.  Mix the flour in a medium saucepan with a little milk or water before adding cream; this will prevent lumps. (Note:  I added 4 tablespoons of water and whisked it).  Bring to a boil and cook gently for 10 minutes to ensure flour is thoroughly cooked.

2.  Add the egg yolks and 1 teaspoon sugar.  (You can do without the sugar at this stage if you like, as the caramelized top will provide plenty in the finished dish.)

3.  Beat the egg whites only until they form a frothy liquid and add them to the pan.  (Note, I added 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.)

4.  Taste and, if you are satisfied that no hint of floury taste remains, pour the mixture into an ovenproof dish  and allow to cool.  Chill overnight.  (I used four small individual ramekins.)

Sprinkle an even layer of superfine sugar over custard.  If you have a blowtorch, heat the sugar until it browns.

Otherwise, as the authors suggest, “Far simpler is to put the superfine (caster) sugar in a small heavy saucepan and heat it gently until it melts.  Do not stir.  When it starts to color and bubble, tip the pain in a circular motion so the sugar is well mixed and dissolves completely.  Watch it carefully — it can burn very quickly.  What you want is a deep auburn color with that wonderful caramel smell.  Then, holding the custard dish in one hand, pour the molten sugar onto the top, tipping the dish so it covers evenly.  The sugar will bubble up, but do not worry, it will soon subside. With his method, a beautiful thin layer is achieved.  Do this a couple of hours before you want to eat.  As soon as the sugar has cooled, chill until needed.”

Stewed Spinach

3/4 pound (350 g) fresh spinach (I used one bunch)

2 tablespoons butter

Approximately 1/2 cup (250 ml) heavy cream

Salt and pepper

Pinch grated nutmeg (optional)

1.  Wash the spinach leaves well.  Give the handfuls of leaves a good shake and pack them into a saucepan. No need for any extra water.  Cover the pan and place over a medium heat.

2.  After 1-2 minutes, remove the lid and stir the leaves with a wooden spoon, turning the top leaves to the bottom, so they all cook.

3.  When the spinach is thoroughly wilted, let it bubble for another 1-2 minutes.  Taste  a small piece to make sure it is tender.

4.  Pour the contents of the pan into a colander and plunge the sieve into a sink of cold water.  This helps to keep the bright green color.  Do not submerge completely, but make sure the spinach is in the water.  Remove the colander from the water.  Using a wooden spoon or, even better, your fist, press the spinach down, removing as much water as possible.

5. When you have extracted as much liquid as possible, put the spinach back in the saucepan over moderate heat.  Add butter and with a wooden spoon mash or pound the spinach to break up the leaves.

6.  Add just enough cream to give a thick puree.  (You may not need to use the full amount.)  Season with salt and pepper and a little grated nutmeg, if using.  Serve at once.

gingerbread 2


(I halved these amounts and baked in a loaf pan)

1 pound (450 g) flour  (about 3 1/3 cups)

1/2 ounce (15 g) ground ginger (4 teaspoons)

1 teaspoon baking soda

4 ounces (110 g) butter

4 ounces (110 g) brown sugar (about 2/3 cup)

12 fluid ounces (335 ml) dark molasses

1 teaspoon lemon extract

2 eggs, lightly beaten

In Preparation:  Preheat oven to 350 F

1.  Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.

2. Sift the flour into a large bowl.  Add the ground ginger and the baking soda.

3.  In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt the butter, brown sugar, and molasses together.  Add lemon extract.

4. Make a well in the flour and add the mixture from the saucepan.  Mix together thoroughly.

5.  Add the beaten eggs and mix well.

6.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes.  Test with a toothpick.  If it comes out clean, the cake is done.  If not, bake for a few minutes more.


Filed under Books, Desserts, Sides, Vegetables