Dinner: Bangers and Mashed

Having full fat sausage is a treat because I usually eat chicken or turkey sausage just because pork sausage is heavy and can make me have a bit of a stomach ache.  The only exception to that rule is when having English sausage – Bangers.  I have an English market in town where bangers are made in house and are authentic to the bangers sold and served in England.
Last time I picked up some bangers, I opted for the thinner cased pork sausage. They’re also sold in the classic large banger form, but I find these are easier to cook and they can go further because you get more sausages in a pound package than you do with the regular sized sausages.
Growing up we always had bangers with macaroni and cheese – but since my boyfriend is not a fan of mac & cheese I opted to make garlic mashed potatoes to pair with peas. Considering this is the first time I’ve had bangers with mashed I was quite pleased with the dish. Delicious, simple and overall tasty.
The whole meal was 12 points plus. Definitely worth it!

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Bahn Mi

I have a local Vietnamese grocery store that gets in fresh cooked foods every Saturday morning. I had to pop into the store to pick up some vegetables and seasonings to help make eggrolls. Since there I decided to pick up one of my favorite sandwiches – a Bahn Mi.
Incase you don’t know what a bahn mi is, it’s a Vietnamese sandwich which is made on a Vietnamese style French baguette – the bread itself is softer and chewier and not as “bready” and is comparable to a hoagie roll.  Every place tends to make them slightly different, but they all tend to follow the same line of ingredients.  This particular sandwich has seasoned seared beef as the protein and it’s loaded with fresh and pickled vegetables – cucumber, parsley (or cilantro, but this particular sandwich has parsley on it), and pickled daikon radish and carrots.  It’s brought together by a bit of mayonnaise and spicy chili sauce (or in some instances jalapenos).  The sandwich itself is delicious and so different from anything sandwich I’ve ever had. The ingredients are relatively simple but when together it makes a fabulous and delicious meal.
Since I did not make this, I had to guestimate at the points plus values. I looked up what bahn mi’s were points wise on the E-tools app and tried to guestimate as close as possible to the true value – 12 points plus. I did take the meat out of my sandwich and weigh it (it was 2 ounces), so that gave me a good estimate, plus an estimate for the bread and then the mayonnaise.  I do enjoy these and I do have them from time to time as a nice different meal.
Have you ever had a bahn mi?

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Dinner: Shake & Bake Pork, Potato, Corn & Apple Sauce

This was a delicious and filling dinner I whipped together one night for dinner. It was honestly the quickest and easiest meal to put together and I forgot how yummy Shake & Bake was!  This was truly a “walk in the door, assemble, set it and forget it” type of meal. Dinner was done in 40 minutes – which was the amount of time it took for the pork to cook through.
I started off the meal by trimming the fat off my pork chops. Rinsed them under water then dropped them into the plastic bag that comes with the shake and bake.  I shook each pork chop up individually and put them onto a baking sheet.  Into the oven they went with the timer set.
I peeled and husked some corn, put it in a pot with a splash of milk and set it on to boil.  I then took my potatoes, rinsed them and popped them into the microwave for 8 minutes.  Yes – did you know you can have a baked potato straight out of the microwave? It’s my go to method when I want a potato because it makes it simple and I don’t have to wait 40+ minutes for it.
When everything was done, I measured out my serving and dinner was ready to rock and roll!  What I had was 4 ounces of pork with shake and bake on it (6 points plus), a 7 oz potato (4 points plus), a corn on the cob (2 points plus) and ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce (0 points plus).  Overall 12 points plus – filling and delicious!
What is a quick and easy meal you haven’t had in a while?

Easy Chinese at home w/ Trader Joe’s and InnovAsian

For moments where I’m in the mood for Chinese food I like to keep some items I’d normally order from my local Chinese restaurant on hand incase a random craving for dinner were to arise.  Many of my favorites at my local Chinese restaurant just simply are not worth the points plus values to me.  Now, don’t get me wrong – I do order out Chinese once in a while, but for the most part I’d rather make it at home – homemade or frozen.  This time around we went with frozen since I didn’t have any cold rice on hand to make homemade fried rice.
For this particular meal I used two Trader Joe’s items, an InnovAsian meal and a bag of frozen green beans.  Talk about clearing out some freezer space!  My whole plate was 12 points plus, which I feel was very justifiable for the assortment of food and the volume of food I had on my plate.  Yummy!
Trader Joe’s Lemongrass Chicken Stix. These are a crunchy, Thai spring roll.  Spring rolls (and egg rolls) are some of my favorite appetizers.  These lemongrass chicken stix are delicious – they’re about a finger length, crispy on the outside with a chicken filling that’s flavored with lemongrass.  They’re yummy, slightly lemony but not overwhelmingly lemony.  They were super easy to heat up – either in the microwave or in a deep fryer.  I opted for the oven and within 11 minutes they were ready to serve.  A serving is 2 for 3 points plus values.

Trader Joe’s Chicken Fried Rice.  This has to be one of the best frozen chicken fried rice dishes I have tried.  It’s flavorful, packed with veggies, chicken bits and egg bits.  You can heat it up in two ways – using olive oil to fry it (to get a crispier, crunchier exterior) or you can use water to cook it through. I went with the water method and found it was perfect. I don’t generally like harder fried rice, so this was perfect.  A 1 cup serving is 5 points plus values.

InnovAsian Black Pepper Chicken. I admit the picture on the box looked far more appealing than the meal that it truly was, but it tasted up to par.  The box described it as a chicken breast chunks with green beans, red bell peppers, water chestnuts, onions and a savory black pepper sauce.  That is exactly what I got.  This also can be cooked in two ways – on a stove top or in a microwave.  I opted for the microwave option since it was quick and easy.  All I had to do was pour off some of the water that came from the food cooking in the microwave – whereas if I cooked it on the stovetop it would’ve evaporated.  A 1 cup serving is 4 points plus values.
All in all it was a great, filling meal.  Sometimes you just want something that taste good, but does not involve a lot of effort and/or thought.  This was a far better choice for me than say, going to Burger King.
Have you tried any of these frozen dishes?

Plated: Seared Skirt Steak with Corn Salsa and Lime Potato Salad & Hoison Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Rice Noodles

I decided to try out Plated for a second time after receiving my initial box.  There were 3 dishes that seemed really interesting to me this time around, but I eliminated one solely on the fact I guestimated the points plus values would be astronomical.  I talked about the Plated membership during my first review of the subscription service (see here: http://shannonslifestyle.blogspot.com/2013/06/plated-membership-ft-chicken-tacos-w.html).  As mentioned previously Plated is offering a free monthly subscription and 4-plates to anyone who signs up during the month of June using the promo code: junefreegift.
I was weighing my options between the two dishes I chose and a paella dish.  Figuring the paella would translate into far too many points plus values that I’d be comfortable with I decided to order the Seared Skirt Steak with Corn Salsa and Lime Potato Salad and the Hoison Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Rice Noodles.
The first dish I put together was the Seared Skirt Steak with Corn Salsa and Lime Potato Salad.  It took about 30 minutes to put together, which was quite simple since there was very minimal chopping and mixing involved.  The only thing I altered was I eliminated a tablespoon of olive oil, seasoned my steak in McCormick steak seasoning and when my skirt steak was finished searing, I let it rest, sliced it up and then returned it back to the pan because I prefer my steak dead and buried.
The one thing I will point out is the vinaigrette which went over both the corn salsa and the potato salad was rather spicy. The chili powder was a little overwhelming, but regardless of the heat from the spice it was a pretty tasty meal.  I was able to make 2 ½ meals out of all I was provided, so points plus wise my dish was 12 points plus values.  I had 2.5 oz steak, 5.5 oz potato and 1/3 the corn salsa.
Now onto the most delicious lettuce wrap I have ever had in my life that I will undoubtedly be making again and again and again.  Hoison Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Rice Noodles probably one of the most delicious and relatively simple meals I’ve whipped together that wasn’t one of my own creations. 
The only difference from the recipe provided was I eliminated 1 tablespoon of sesame oil.  Otherwise the recipe is exactly as stated.  With this meal I was able to make 3 dinners out of the entire box provided and 1/3 of this was 13 points plus values.  This dish was the most delicious and refreshing meal.  The lettuce wraps totally lightened up the dish, but still allowed it to be filling and delicious.  My boyfriend mentioned that it should be a staple on our food menu – which I think it may very well become.
Have you tried Plated?

Skinnytaste’s Crock Pot Sesame Honey Chicken w/ White Rice & Stir Fried Vegetable Roll

This is a meal that took team work. By team work I mean my boyfriend prepped and started the chicken and when I got home from work I finished off the dish by steaming some rice (in the rice pot) and browning off some vegetable rolls in the oven.
I don’t enjoy getting caught into food ruts where I eat the same things all the time.  My body doesn’t like it and I truly notice a difference on the scale when I’m eating the same types of things.  When I notice a pattern forming, I tend to pre-plan meals, on paper, to get a better perspective as to what I’m going to be eating to switch it up and to stick to that plan.  One of the meals I decided to try was by Skinnytaste.  I have yet to make a Skinnytaste recipe that I did not like so I figured this one would not only be fool proof, but it’d also be delicious.
I left the printed recipe with my boyfriend, so he cleaned the chicken and measured out all the ingredients and got the crock pot starting while I was at work.  When I got home from work the chicken was ready to be shredded, so I started the rice pot, deposited some frozen vegetable rolls into the oven and dinner was going to happen in 30-minutes or less.
I have to say this was a delicious meal.  It had that “take out” vibe to it but it was completely healthy and filling. The shredded chicken was loaded with flavor, the Trader Joe’s Stir Fried Vegetable Roll (which happens to be vegan and I wasn’t aware of that until the past month) were also delicious.  I found they were packed with flavor and had a nice crunch to them.  You can see my review on these rolls here: http://shannonslifestyle.blogspot.com/2013/03/trader-joes-trader-mings-stir-fried.html. That crunch didn’t withstand a night in the refrigerator, but sitting down at dinner it was a homerun.
The whole plate was 12 points plus values. Definitely worth it and a LOT less points than if I was to order Chinese food in.
To see the Skinnytaste Crock Pot Sesame Honey Chicken recipe, click here: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2013/02/crock-pot-sesame-honey-chicken.html
Have you tried the Crock Pot Sesame Honey Chicken recipe or the Trader Joe’s Stir Fried Vegetable Rolls?

Homemade Steak & Cheese Pita Wraps

One of my Friday (or Saturday) night favorites pre-Weight Watchers was a steak and cheese with salad pita wrap from a local Lebanese restaurant. My uncle used to man the grill, so he always made sure they were on point with their deliciousness.  The sandwich came with steak and cheese, topped with tossed salad and the restaurants Lebanese dressing – it was then rolled up in the double layer of pita bread. It was undoubtedly delicious and completely filled with fat and unnecessary calories – especially to consume after 9pm at night (sometimes around midnight…)  We won’t even get into the side of steak fries I’d pick up to go ALONG with the sandwich.
I’ve decided that giving up some of my favorite foods just is not in the books for me.  BUT making them at home, in a healthier alternative totally IS in the books for me!  If I can make a dish at home – replicating a dish I enjoyed pre-Weight Watchers I do that as much as I can because it keeps me honest with my journey and it also allows me insight into what exactly I am consuming.
My local grocery store sells shaved steak. I typically pick up a couple packs when they go on sale (under $4/lb) and we make homemade steak and cheese (cheese on the side that is).  The meat is for the most part, relatively lean, but since there is some fat present (it typically renders off while cooking) I apply the points plus values of a t-bone sirloin to my serving of meat.
To cook the meat I spritz a little cooking spray in the bottom of the pan and the meat and then simply season it with a little black pepper and a pinch of salt.  The minimal seasoning is truly all you need because you want the natural flavor of the meat to shine through.
Typically, at home we always add peppers and onions to the meat mixture to bring in some moisture and an added level of flavoring.  The vegetables can be cooked stovetop OR they can be steamed in the microwave. Both ways work wonderfully. My vegetables I season – I like to add Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb to it with some black pepper and a pinch of salt.  When the vegetables are done, I add them in with the meat.  If you’re a mushroom fan I would suggest adding mushrooms to the vegetable mixture – it gives it a great flavor.  Since my boyfriend doesn’t like mushrooms if I want them, I cook them separately.
My sandwich consisted of 3 ounces of beef, 1 slice of fat free American cheese, large fresh pita bread and a handful of tossed salad.  The whole wrap was 12 points plus and TOTALLY worth it.  I’m a ketchup girl with steak sandwiches, so I added a little ketchup to my sandwich before rolling it shut.
Who knew one could make a guilt driven delightful sandwich at home for no guilt and added taste? This girl did!
What is one of your favorite dishes to make at home in homage of a dish you previously enjoyed?