New Years Eve Dinner – Homemade “Chinese Food”

With New Years Eve the general consensus as far as traditions go is to order in Chinese food.  In years past (4 years ago) I would be one of those individuals jumping on that bandwagon and hauling in some take out.  But in the past few years I’ve actually opted on making homemade Chinese food for New Years Eve.  Since New Years isn’t one of those holidays/celebrations that I truthfully partake in, I rather stay home, relax, cook and enjoy the coming of a new year with my loved ones in the comfort of my own home.
This years menu I decided on a week prior.  I decided to take out a container of my homemade chicken chow mein and decided I’d make a batch of my quick vegetable fried rice, I’d steam up some broccoli and carrots and last minute decided to make some quick boneless pork “spareribs”.
The meal came out perfectly! I had 1 cup of vegetable fried rice (see here), 2/3 cups of chicken chow mein (see here), ¼ oz of chow mein noodles, 2 ounces of boneless “ribs” and a helping of fresh vegetables.
My boneless “spareribs” are actually made from boneless, lean, center cut pork loin chops, cut into strips and tossed with Ah-So sauce, 1 tsp of minced garlic and 1 tsp of Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute. I baked them off in the oven, then broiled them for a few minutes to crisp them up a tad. I felt they came out perfectly and gave me that flavor I was looking/hoping for.
My entire plate was only 13 points plus values!  Far more satisfying and filling when in comparison to what I could’ve gotten from my local Chinese restaurant.

Eating out … and getting exactly what you WANT!

I went out to eat at a local restaurant which is known for their seafood. I’m not a big seafood fan BUT I do enjoy fried seafood (primarily fish and clams) every once in a while. I knew the restaurant sold a staple grilled chicken dinner (which I have had in the past) but … I really wanted fried haddock.
Decisions, decisions. I had enough points in the day to have the fish and not feel guilty about it. Plus, since it’s what I really wanted, I knew if I didn’t have it, I wasn’t going to be satisfied with the chicken dish – so I decided to just order the fish. Although, I knew if I ordered the haddock basket I would eat every single French fry and the container of cole slaw … because I know me, I just would.
I noticed under the salads section on the menu there was an option to add ether chicken, steak, shrimp or baked fish to the salad for an additional cost.  I asked if I could substitute the baked fish for fried haddock and was told “of course, no problem!” So that’s exactly what I did.  I ordered a large garden salad – without croutons, with raspberry vinaigrette on the side (the waitress advised that this was the lowest calorie option they had available, so I went with it – using the “dip” method – dipping the end of my fork into the dressing before eating the salad).  And I ordered my fried haddock along with it.
My meal came out; I had my fish (and my tartars sauce!) and was completely satisfied and happy.  I took half my fish and salad home and ate it later on in the evening.
I estimated the haddock filet to be 13 points plus values, the tartar sauce to be 4 points plus values and the teeny tiny amount of dressing I may have used to be 2 points plus values.
Was it worth it? Every point, bite, lick and taste!  Why? Because I wanted it, I tracked it and it satisfied me.  And guess what?  I stepped on the scale the next day and was down 3 pounds!
QUESTION:
Are you comfortable going out to eat and having what you want but in a way you’re comfortable having it?

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.
QUESTION:
Have you tried Plated?

Asian Inspired Dinner!

This is an Asian inspired dinner I made a few weeks back for my boyfriend and I.  I knew we were going to have Bool Kogi so I decided to make rice (because it’s a staple – either rice or potato for us) and went with an oriental stir fry vegetable to give us some dimension and a flavorful side vegetable.
I had picked up a package of Bool Kogi Korean sesame marinated boneless beef ribs at Trader Joe’s and planned on grilling them up for us.  Since the weather wasn’t necessarily on our side that day, I decided to broil them in the oven and they turned out perfectly.  The flavor is good, but considering these are boneless beef ribs, the texture is a little funny.  I’ve always preferred pork ribs over beef (just a personal preference) but I did find this was pretty tasty.  I would repurchase, but only when we were looking for something “different” (just because I prefer pork ribs over beef).  Incase you are wondering, these are completely raw and are sold in the raw marinated meat section at Trader Joe’s. A serving is 3 ounces of meat and it is 6 points plus per serving.
I paired it with 1 cup of Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice.  This is the best tasting brown rice I have had!  3 minutes in the microwave and it’s perfect.  Nice, fluffy, filling and delicious.  I have a rice cooker, which can cook brown rice (which takes forever, BTW) so it’s crazy to me that you can have delicious tasting brown rice in 3 minutes.  Bravo Trader Joe’s – you never cease to amaze me.  A 1 cup serving is 5 points plus.
I then “stir fried” up Fusia’s brand of Oriental Stir Fry.  The package came with a mixture of frozen vegetables (broccoli, carrots, pea pods, peppers, onions, water chestnuts) along with a teriyaki style stir fry mixture.  I had 2 servings of vegetables, which calculated out to be 2 points plus.  The vegetables would be a great addition to add in precooked chicken and within minutes, you’d have an oriental stir fry on the table.
Dinner was literally done in 15 minutes and was quite yummy!  13 pointsplus total.
QUESTION:
What is your favorite Trader Joe’s and/or Aldi product for a quick and easy meal?