Saturday, July 28, 2012

Is It Chowder Yet? The Potluck Continues...

My Weight Watchers Meeting buddy, Carl has arrived and he brought us some soup. But, not just any soup. It is a "Surprise" Chowder. As in, "Surprise! This soup is full of random ingredients that have no business being mixed together!" I should mention that Carl is my go-to-guy for all foodie questions. Every Friday at our WW meeting, he gives me tips on roasting turkeys, grilling fish, and steaming artichokes. But can Carl cook up a Retro Weight Watchers dish that is Mimi-approved? It shouldn't surprise anyone that Carl could even turn this scary 1974 Weight Watchers recipe into a gourmet delight. Soup's on!  

Hi Mimi, Knock Knock, It's Carl and a Surprise Chowder at the door. Let me in - I need a beer to wash this chowder down...

As a longtime Weight Watcher (I go back as far as when the cards were given out at the meetings) I knew I had to be at the Potluck Party, and volunteered right away. Back in the Retro WW days, I was the only young guy at the meetings. Now I am one of a few older guys at the meetings.

Since Mimi knows I am a local fish monger, she gave me something right up my alley. My recipe is Surprise Chowder.  

The recipe was pretty easy although I did make it twice, because I changed one of the ingredients the second time. I thought it would turn out better. It was good both ways so my family got it twice for dinner. 

Guess which one is the "surprise" ingredient?

I used a nice thick cod filet for my fish and just chunked it up after baking it in the oven. I used lagostinos the first time but then I did use a larger shrimp the second time to give it better texture and it was much heartier. Mixing everything together was easy and it was a surprise on how good it tasted . This recipe would even stand up today. 

I would even think of giving it a try as a chowder special of the day at the local fish shop. Look for it, you might even like it!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Who Needs a Cocktail?

Here's where things start to get crazy at the Retro Mimi Potluck Party. My Blogger pal Brian is here, and he brought the drinks! NOW WE CAN PARTY LIKE IT'S 1972!  These cocktails are totally Retro WW "Legal" and totally out of this world.

Who's thirsty? Let's get tipsy...

Hello from Canada! And thank you for the invitation to the party. Mother was thrilled when I told her. It’s been a lifelong dream of hers that someone invites me to something.

Many of you might assume that Canada is mostly about canoes and seal blubber and Celine Dion museums – and you’re right. But we’re also about bad food. My blog, Caker Cooking, features some of the most nutritionless, fiberless and vegetableless cooking in all of Canada. Casseroles, Cool Whip, Cream of Whatever soup. You name it, cakers eat it.

Cakers also love alcohol, so when Mimi asked me to try out the WW-sanctioned “Legal Manhattan” and the “Legal Martini,” I was thrilled.

Then I read the recipes.

Look, I’m all for moderation, but each of these drinks called for a measly ½ teaspoon of alcohol. Divided between two drinks! Who are these drinks “legal” for? Kids?

Anyway, the “Legal Manhattan” wasn’t half-bad, so long as you’re one of the few people who can muster up a buzz from a ¼ teaspoon of booze. As for the “Legal Martini,” well, that was another story. Does a cold chicken broth martini sound appetizing to you? If it does, you’ve got more problems than watching your weight, my friend. Bottom line: there was nothing lawful about it.

"Legal" Manhattan (1974 WW Recipe Cards Snacks & Beverages #3)

3/4 cup chilled diet black cherry soda
1 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp bitters

Combine all ingredients. Stir. Divide evenly into 2 cocktail glasses. Makes 2 servings

Zero calories but zero buzz.

"Legal" Martini (1974 WW Recipe Cards Snacks & Beverages #3)

1 cup hot water
1 packet instant chicken broth & seasoning mix
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp bitters
2 canned button mushrooms

Combine water & broth mix; stir to dissolve. Chill at least 1 hour. Add lemon juice and bitters. Divide evenly into 2 cocktail glasses. Garnish each with a button mushroom. Makes 2 servings.
The buck-buck-buck stops here with this sad excuse for a drink.

If you ever come to visit me in Canada, I promise I won’t make these drinks. 

Points or no points, these drinks just didn’t cut it for me. In fact, as soon as I was done, I did the only sensible thing I could think of – made a 2-heavenly-ounces-of-rum Mojito. Now that’s what I call a party!

Come to Mama!
  Cheers from your neighbour (yes, we spell it with a “u”) to the north!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Main Dish #2 Has Arrived!

Ever come across someone in "Blogland" that you have never met in person, but you just know from their blog you would absolutely love them? My Homegirl, Emily (AKA Yinzerella) is one of those people. We have so much in common, it's creepy - we are both native Pittsburgh gals, we are both WW enthusiasts, and we both can whip up a mean gelatin mold like nobody's business. We like scary retro food, and we are proud of it. So it goes without saying that Emily simply had to come to my Retro WW Potluck Party, and she had to bring a main dish. Since Emily owns her own set of 1974 WW recipe cards - I let her choose her dish. My only rule was: it had to be MEATY.... 
Over at Dinner is Served 1972 I have challenged myself with a slew of retro dishes, but never one from the legendary 1970s Weight Watchers cards. These are mythic--Retro Mimi is the only gal I know of who is brave enough to take on these diet-friendly delights (demons). But I decided to step up to the plate, join her pot luck party, and make Meat Loaves with Horseradish.

This recipe was pretty standard--the ingredients one would expect in a meatloaf or meatball. And I followed the card's recipe to a T (well, I cut the amount of meat in half and upped the seasoning--I can't help it).

So what makes it worthy of inclusion in the card set? Ah, there it is! Non-fat dry milk!

This was my first foray into the wonders of non-fat dry milk and I will never understand its purpose or appeal. What makes it any different or better than plain ol' skim milk? I'm seriously asking. Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

No matter how long or fast one whisks, dry milk is never going to thicken. Not without some corn starch or flour. But I wasn't going to do that. I had already finagled with the meat seasonings--I wasn't gonna mess with the sauce, lest Jean Nidetch smite me down with a Snack on a Stick.

So here it is, my baked meatloaves topped with horseradish sauce and pimentos.

Man, that is a sad looking, watery sauce. Nothing like the card's photo. And I can only imagine how huge these would be if I had used a full 2 pounds of ground beef. How is a 1/2 lb serving of beef a diet dish? Points Plus would completely disapprove.

Anyhoo, dare I say that these little meatloaves weren't bad? I ate one for dinner, paired with some Caesar Salad. And one for another dinner. And the two others I had for work lunches on a bun. I hate to waste food, which was the impetus of my lunches, but with some ketchup and fat-free Kraft cheese slices, these were close to downright tasty.

Although I'm still questioning that sauce. The best way to eat this dish was eyes-closed because the horseradish sauce looks a little phlegmy.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Main Dish #1 has Arrived!

If there were a prize for the person who traveled the farthest to attend this Retro WW Potluck Party, Lexi would win by a landslide. She brings her dish to our table all the way from the land down under! You may recall my pal Lexi from the great Knoxapocalypse jell-o challenge from earlier this year. Well - As it turns out, this girl from Oz loves a good culinary challenge, and Lexi does not disappoint! Please take a plate and do enjoy this hearty Retro WW main dish! But save some room and maybe pop a Pepcid or two...

We still have soup, cookies, coffee, cocktails and two more main dishes coming your way!

Hello everyone!

My name is Lexi. It’s so nice to meet you all! I live in Melbourne, Australia with my little cat Quincy, and I blog over at after apple-picking. I write mostly about food, but the topics of cinema, sewing and my little puffball all get a bit of attention there too.  The rest of the time I’m working on my PhD in Film Studies or teaching kids at university about how wonderful and important cinema is. I don’t write about it so much, but I’m also obsessed with nutrition – and everything vintage. I have an ever-expanding collection of vintage cookbooks, so it’s no wonder I’d turn up at a potluck like this!

I’ve never been part of the Weight Watchers program, but like most of us, I’ve lost weight and put it on with varying degrees of success and failure. In honesty, I don’t feel I’m at my best at the moment; in fact, I’m about 10kg heavier than I was when I started my thesis. Yeah, it’s frustrating looking into my closet of late 50s and early 60s wiggle dresses that don’t fit right now – but you know, there’s truly so much awesomeness in my life that it never has me feeling down for very long. I’ll fit into them again – and pretty soon, too. I’ve done it before and I will do it again. I’m just not sure how much the dish Mimi picked for me to make will help…

Stuffed Hot Dogs 
(WW Hot Stuff Recipe Pamphlet 1978)

4 oz hot dogs
1/2 cup celery, chopped fine
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp poultry seasoning (I used Creole)
1 slice bread
1 oz. onion, chopped
1 tbsp imitation or diet margarine
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup skim milk
1 cup water

Make bread into crumbs in the blender. Combine with the onion, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, milk, celery and margarine. Mix well. Slit the hot dogs in half lengthwise (do not cut the whole way thru). Spoon the stuffing into franks, and place in a shallow baking dish. Pour the water over the franks, cover with foil, and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Makes one serving for the evening meal.

 On the upside, it’s a gloriously easy dish, this Stuffed Hot Dog caper. A stuffing of fresh breadcrumbs and finely diced celery and onion is bound with margarine and a bit of milk, before being amped up with ‘Poultry Seasoning’ and good ol’ S&P.  As I don’t know what ‘Poultry Seasoning’ is – and my pantry doesn’t contain many premixed seasonings at all – I used a good shake or two of my Zatarain’s Creole seasoning. Hope that’s ok, Mimi?

 Then comes the fun part! You slice almost all the way through down the length of each hotdog and stuff the little franks’ pockets with the celery/soggy breadcrumb mixture.

All that’s left to do now is pour over a cup of water, cover with foil and bake the little boys for about 30 minutes until piping hot, and kinda gross-looking.

Look, I love franks and links. I’ve totally got my hand up when someone calls out, ‘Any Link Lovers in the house?!’.  So, I actually thought that these were ok. I’m not saying I’d make them again, but I’m not saying I didn’t eat them for lunch, either, if you know what I mean. I’ve got a bit of a soggy bread phobia that stems from reading a Poppy Z Brite novel as a teenager (there is a connection there, but trust: you don’t want me to illuminate), so I thought I’d be in trouble here, but the bouncy-tender texture of the franks balanced it out enough for me to get through. I found a little French’s Classic Yellow Mustard on the side added that touch of je ne sais quoi that is so important to party food.

 Anyway, I hope you all love them! I’m looking forward to trying everyone else’s dishes before the drunken dancing starts.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Potluck Salad #2 - Pink Fluff

The doorbell is ringing. Who could it be?

Lynn is here!!! Lynn is here!!! Everyone take a look at the fabulous salad she brought! And she gets extra points for presenting it in a Pyrex bowl. Have a slice of Lynn's Pink Fluff Jell-o Salad, then go check out her inspirational blog - Hill Warning.

Mimi’s challenge was there staring me in the face on her blog; another recipe challenge and she was looking for guinea pigs, oops volunteers, to make a dish from the 1970’s and blog about it. I was a very willing participant in her experiment the last time she tried this so I could not resist helping out again this year.

My name is Lynn and I am a Weight Watchers success story. I was a member of Weight Watchers in the late ‘70s and lost about 30 lbs but I did not reach my goal weight. I did, however, feel great and look pretty good and so it was my husband and I soon were expecting our first child! I rejoined and quit numerous times until finally reaching my goal weight and earning Lifetime status in September 2010. I have lost 196.4 lbs! I am now a Weight Watchers leader in South Carolina. I recently won the Rookie Leader of the Year award for my territory.

I made Chicken Cacciatore for Mimi’s last challenge. I had actually requested she send me a chicken recipe thinking it would not be too scary. I was right. It prompted this review when my husband tasted it, “This tastes like something you made in the ‘70’s. Not my favorite.” This time I decided to be very brave and sent Mimi an email suggesting she surprise me. I waited for her reply and prayed. Here is my recipe challenge:

(1978 Hot Stuff WW Recipe Pamphlet Vol. 10) 
1 pkg unflavored gelatin 
dash of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg 
1/2 medium apple diced 
1/4 cup chopped celery 
12 oz. diet red soda 
1 tbsp lemon juice 
1/4 cup chopped cabbage 
4 tsp artificial sweetener 
lettuce leaves 

Pour 1/4 cup beverage in pan. Sprinkle gelatin over beverage. Stir over heat until dissolved. Add remaining beverage and spices. Pour in pan and refrigerate until almost firm. Place gelatin in blender with sweetener and process until fluffy. Sprinkle lemon juice over apples. Mix gelatin, apples, cabbage, and celery. Refrigerate until firm. Serve on lettuce leaves. Makes 1 serving.

On first reading, I found myself thinking this does not seem too bad, it might even taste ok and so I got to work looking for diet red soda. I emailed Mimi asking her if I could fudge the recipe a bit since all of the diet red sodas I could find were sweetened with Aspartame and I had read that was not a sweetener that should be heated. Mimi told me to go for it and so I chose to substitute sugar free cherry Jell-O for the diet red soda. I omitted the package of unflavored gelatin and the 4 tsp of artificial sweetener knowing the Jell-O would be sweet enough without it. I also removed 4 ounces of the Jell-O after mixing it so I had the 12 ounces of liquid the recipe called for.

The recipe went together quickly and easily with the only concern being how long does Jell-O chill before becoming “almost firm” but I set the timer several times and checked on it until it had reached the consistency I considered, “almost firm”. I put the almost firm Jell-O into the blender as instructed, turned it on low, and it quickly became a fluffy foamy consistency. Apples, cabbage and celery were then stirred into and the mixture and I returned it to the refrigerator to firm up. (Had I been Mimi I would have poured it into a Jell-O mold but I had to resort to a Pyrex dish, which was a wedding gift in 1975.) I waited!

At last, the Jell-O was firm and I was faced with how to serve the salad. I prepared my salad plate with the lettuce leaves, ran a knife around the edge of the dish, inverted the plate on the Pyrex dish and crossed my fingers. The Pink Fluff Salad fared pretty well coming out of the dish. I stood back and admired the salad. That is a huge serving for one person! The Jell-O had layered. The bottom was a nice pink “fluff “with the fruit and vegetables rising to the top and settling into the more traditional Jell-O appearance.

 I sat down at the table with my Pink Fluff Salad and took a bite. I liked it!! The ‘fluff” was wonderful, light, smooth, and cherry flavored. The more traditional Jell-O layer was crunchy. I didn’t mind the cabbage at all but would decrease the celery if I ever made it again. Sugar free Jell-O saved time and most likely improved the flavor. As I type this, my husband has not arrived home so I don’t know how he will review the salad but I will post his review as a comment so if you are curious, look for it. Oh, and the leftovers, well I am serving this salad for dinner; after all on the current Weight Watcher plan this is a 0 Points Plus dish!