Monkey Bread French Dips


Arby’s French Dips with Swiss used to be a go-to diet fast food choice. You wouldn’t believe it has 540 calories, it is so big and tasty. But, I am off the fast food for a while. I came up with this when I was trying to figure what to do with all the shredded beef left over from the Taquitos. My Quiet Child loves One Rise Monkey Bread. She insists that it appear at every holiday. It seemed like such a fun way to satisfy my French Dip craving. So, I rolled the dough into a large rectangle and cut it into 24 squares. In the center of each square, I placed 1/2 ounce shredded beef and 4 grams shredded low-fat Swiss cheese. Then I wrapped the dough around the filling and pinched it into a ball. I then dipped each ball in canola oil and placed it in the greased bundt pan. (I sprinkled sesame seeds in the bottom for a pretty finish.) I decided not to sprinkle with dill.



I let the bread rise for an hour, then stuck it in the fridge until 25 minutes before dinner time. Each piece is about 125 calories, not including the au jus that I will make from a mix. So that would be 6 500-calorie servings.


These were very tasty.  But next time I would bake them in a single layer in a baking pan or muffin pans. The inner pieces didn’t quite get baked and the crusty outer shell is very desirable.


Beef Taquitos

I was 6 or 7 when I had my first taquito. It wasn’t from a Mexican restaurant, it was from an A & W Root Beer stand one mile from our house. They were among the best I have ever eaten and the avocado sauce that came with them was hard to beat. Taquitos, or rolled tacos are a lot more popular than they used to be so you can find them in a lot of fast food Mexican places, Mexican restaurants and in the frozen section of most grocery stores; but when I was a teen, we used to make our own. We would fork-shred a roast and then roll small amounts of beef  in corn tortillas and deep-fry them. Guacamole was made by smashing ripe avocado and stirring in mayonnaise.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Beef Taquitos

Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
——– ———— ——————————–
24 ounces roasted beef bottom round — shredded
1/2 cup canola oil
4 cups masa harina
3 cups water
3 ounces cheddar cheese, lowfat — shredded

Place masa harina in a medium bowl and add 2 1/2 cups water. Stir well and add the remaining water until you get dry but very soft dough. Divide into 24 equal parts and cook on a tortilla maker, smashing firmly right away. If the dough is too thick, dip the balls in water and work them until softer. The only thing to guard against is pressing until dough cracks. Immediately spoon 1 ounce of the beef into the center and roll. Set them aside as you cook and form the remaining taquitos. Heat 1 cup canola oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Fry in batches turning, until they are golden brown on each side. If you like, arrange in a baking dish and sprinkle with a little cheddar cheese and bake at 350 degrees F until cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, salsa and shredded lettuce.


Three of these is around 500 calories, so that is what I will have. I’ll post my plate after dinner. For lunch I had Thai Green Curry and loved it. And, I have reach 25 pounds lost.

Beef Taquitos.jpg

I forgot to snap a photo, this is the serving going into the freezer. It has low-fat sour cream and Herdez guacamole salsa on top. After reheating, I will throw some lettuce on top. This meal was universally well received.

Philly Cheese Steak Crunch Wraps

If you’ve ever had a Crunch Wrap from Taco Bell, you know how delicious they are. 530 calories makes them a bit on the dangerous side of a diet. I went through a phase of trying to invent new crunch wrap filling, Reuben, ham and cheese, cheese burger, and several more. The one I liked best was the Philly Cheese Steak. It had chopped rib eye steak, bell pepper strips and onion slices all stir fried and topped with mozzarella cheese, then wrapped in a flour tortilla and fried in a tiny bit of canola oil. The Carb Balance tortillas I usually use aren’t big enough for this so I went to the next best thing, Ole’s Xtreme Wellness Whole Wheat Tortillas. They are very soft and taste very good for having 90 calories and 6 grams of fiber. So here is the recipe for tonight’s dinner:

* Exported from MasterCook *

Philly Cheese Steak Crunch Wraps

Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
——– ———— ——————————–
420 grams beef rib eye, R-T-C — thinly sliced when partly frozen
250 grams bell pepper — sliced
150 grams onion — sliced
3 ounces mozzarella cheese, part skim milk — shredded
6 pieces Ole Xtreme Wellness Whole Wheat Flour Tortilla
2 tablespoons canola oil

Stir-fry meat, onions and peppers until meat is done. Sprinkle center of tortilla with 1/6th of the cheese. Spoon 1/6th of the meat mixture onto the center of the tortilla. Pleat the edges of the tortilla onto the filling all around until a bundle is formed. Fry in 1 teaspoon of the oil open side first. Turn and cook until both sides are golden. Serve open side down.


The cheese is under the meat mixture. Since this is only 310 calories, double the cheese might be desirable.  You could place a small corn tostada shell on the top to seal in the filling, or even a large tortilla chip. It is very hard to completely ‘seal’ the filling in. That is why I put the cheese down first.


And here is how the other side looks.


We’ll probably have this with a nice salad. I had Chicken Korma and 120g fresh pear for lunch.

Creamed Goan Meatloaf

I don’t know how widespread throwing meat into a white sauce and serving it on some starch is. I have eaten chopped eggs, chicken, turkey, tuna, sausage and chipped beef in that manner. It is a very easy, quick supper when served on toast. It is a special breakfast when served on hot homemade biscuits. When I was considering what to do with the remainder of the Goan Meatloaf I made, this popped into my mind. I was originally thinking of pouring it over baked potatoes, but then I remembered a treasure I had in the freezer. The last time we went to Popeye’s Chicken, we ordered a family meal that included 6 biscuits. I was watching my intake so I didn’t eat mine, nor did everyone but one person. So I packed them away in the freezer for after the diet. But, I looked them up on the internet and saw they were 200 calories each. Add that to the 221 of my sauce and add some frozen steamed vegetables and we have a luscious dinner under 500 calories!


This is how my recipes look in Mastercook. I thought I would share it with you. Todd Wilbur’s copycat version of Popeye’s Biscuits can be found in Top Secret Recipes Unlocked or can be bought singly here. I made them once and really liked them.


Steak Gordita Supreme

One of the best things from Taco Bell is the Steak Gordita (Chalupa if you can afford the deep-fried shell). But rather than trying to match the taste, I am going to try to improve upon it. I am starting with rib eye steak. I think it has the best flavor of all the steak I have eaten. I sprinkled a 1-pound steak with 1 tablespoon lime juice, then sprinkled with cumin, chili powder and pepper. Then flipped it and repeated with the other side. I let it marinate for 4 hours. In the meantime, I got the Gordita tortillas out of the freezer. I have this recipe for them and I recall really liking them, but I do have these in the freezer, so store-bought it is. (You could also use two flour tortillas together.)


I cooked the steak as I do chicken, in a skillet on high in 1 tablespoon canola oil for 1 minute. Flip and cover, turning to low for 8-10 minutes. I stopped at 8 minutes but the middle was just too rare. So after I caramelized 1 sliced onion in the pan, I chopped the steak and returned the rare pieces for a quick stir-fry. I liked how the drippings from the pan colored the steak so I threw them all in for a quick stir.


The final meal will be a large taco filled with steak, caramelized onion, low-fat cheddar jack cheese, then topped with lettuce, tomato and low-fat sour cream, salsa and guacamole as desired. I will post a photo of mine after dinner. (For lunch I had a Buffalo chicken calzone.)


Reuben Fries

Early in my blog-life I came across this recipe from Nandini and was determined to try it. But how would I use the meat? I do love a Reuben sandwich, but I wondered if I could top baked potatoes with a Reuben-like sauce. Then I found this recipe for Reuben Irish Nachos and remembered the frozen french fries I had in the freezer.


Mine isn’t pink like Nandini’s but it tastes like corn beef hash! Very nice outcome.

Next was a recipe for homemade sauerkraut. Now I know it is terrible to be unwilling to walk 1/4 mile to the store to buy a can of sauerkraut, but now I can make it. But what really pushed me into it was the fact that I had half a bag of Brussels sprouts left from the salad and that is almost cabbage. The real question is, does it taste like sauerkraut? It does indeed and I find that very amusing.


I will make the fries and then sprinkle with meat, shredded light mozzarella cheese and sauerkraut and bake until hot, then serve with store-bought fat-free Thousand Island dressing. I’ll add a picture after dinner. And I had Italian Fondue for lunch with 1/2 bell pepper and some sweet potato tortilla chips.


Someone thought these were great. The rest of us thought they were fine and filling so that makes a good meal for a dieter.

Corn Dogs

I remember getting corn dogs at the beach in my youth. They seem to be the best street food ever. I love them with a large squiggle of yellow mustard. I know you can buy frozen corn dogs and bake them in the oven. But I am not sure you can get pure beef corn dogs. The chicken ones can be a bit mushy. So I wanted to find the best possible batter and I wanted to shallow fry them. I found this recipe and decided to try it. The inclusion of bacon grease was the draw. After mixing the batter, I found it way too thin. It just dripped off the hot dogs. I added half again as much flour and it was much better.  Shallow frying was another challenge as the batter wants to peel away from the top so it has to be turned soon after putting it into the oil. They aren’t the prettiest corn dogs, but I didn’t waste a quart of oil and I tasted a bit of the crumbles and it was so good!


We’ll have some salad with this tonight. By my calculations, each corn dog is about 400 calories. A bit hefty, but it will be worth it.

Party Wedges

I saw a blog with crepes layered with some pumpkin cream filling and it reminded me of baumkuchen. I used to love it. I looked into making it but it seems way more difficult than stacking crepes. Not the same, I know. It also reminded me of something I used to make for parties. It originally came from Mabel Hoffman’s Crepe Cookery book, but I have made many tweaks to arrive at the following:

* Exported from MasterCook *

Party Stacks

Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
——– ———— ——————————–
1 large egg
1 tablespoon dried egg
1 tablespoon water (Or just use 2 eggs)
1 cup flour
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/8 Teaspoon salt
1/8 Cup Canola oil
8 ounces fat-free cream cheese
2/3 cup fat-free cottage cheese
1/2 cup minced red onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
65 grams dried beef slices — finely chopped
50 grams green bell pepper — finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
28 grams pecans — toasted and chopped

Mix crepe batter in a blender. Spoon about 3 Tablespoons of batter into skillet and swirl evenly. This should make 9-10 crepes. Combine all filling ingredients except beef and bell pepper in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Stir in beef and pepper. Spread filling over each crepe. Stack the crepes neatly. Sprinkle pecans around the edge.


The missing wedge represents two slices of about 100 calories each. They have been removed to protect our nut allergy sufferer. The two youngest girls in my life will be joining us for dinner, so the long-awaited tea party is called for. This is just one of several items on tonight’s menu.

Another quick one is 80g low fat cheddar-jack, 32 g chopped green onion, 3 tablespoons Avocado Oil Mayo mixed and spread on 3 Carb balance flour tortillas. Roll the tortillas and cut into 8 pieces each, resulting in 25 calories per bite.

Lunch today is chili size, yum!


I would eat almost anything barbecued! But what is better than steak? I found this marinade and it looked terrific. What’s more is it smells terrific! I only left out the lemons and used Marsala, of course. I cut up 700 grams of trimmed rib eye steak into cubes and let them marinade a good 8 hours. Then threaded them onto skewers along with baby bellas and onions cut into eighths.


We’ll grill these on the barbecue and then serve on pitas with a romaine and roma tomato salad with garlic-tomato vinaigrette and a sprinkling of Parmesan. Then pears! I will post a picture of mine after dinner.


This was very good, but the pears were so far above my expectations. Everyone really enjoyed tonight’s food.


Slime and Egg Sandwich

When I was a teen, I overheard someone’s lunch order to a nearby deli as a “Slime and Egg Sandwich”. It turned out to be a fried salami and egg sandwich. Years later I amused my children (or maybe that was just me) by making slime and egg sandwiches and that is what we are having for lunch today. I pan-fried 3 slices of hard salami until crispy on the edges, then fried an egg, over easy, in the pan juices and placed it on a warmed Papa Pita white pita bread with a touch of Dijon mustard. We have a tray of fresh veggies to eat with this, so a tasty lunch under 400 calories.


The salami tastes a bit like bacon and the pita, being so soft, was perfect for this.


German Rouladen

Okay, tonight for dinner we are having real German Rouladen. I found this recipe and have followed it pretty closely, my exact measurements are below:

1 7/8 pounds top round steak (four slices)
60 grams bacon (2 slices)
200 grams onion — sliced
80 grams dill pickles — sliced
2 tablespoons I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons corn starch

Here they are browning:

Rouladen Browning.jpg

I cut each of these into two portions that are about 250 calories each. We will have pickled red cabbage(35 calories) and canned new potatoes (50 calories) along with Apple Sauce for dessert. I just chopped 4 gala apples into chunks and sprinkled 1 teaspoon cinnamon then cooked them in a 1/4 cup of water until soft (20 min). I then added 1 teaspoon vanilla.


I had Thai Green Curry for lunch, followed by my usual 1/2 cup of Dreyer’s Slow Churn.

Now that I have eaten this, I have to say this recipe is a keeper. Top round is a favorite cut of beef, but I worried that it might not be tender cooked this way. I was so wrong. It was perfect. Also, I added a splash of Torani Sugar-free Brown Sugar Cinnamon Syrup to my apples and that made it just like eating an apple pie. But I am still going to have my ice cream since this meal was about 400 calories.



Soft Tacos

As I said yesterday, I am using the tortillas I made yesterday to make these. Here is what I used for filling:

* Exported from MasterCook *

Soft Tacos

Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
——– ———— ——————————–
9 ounces ground chuck
2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons water
4 ounces cheddar cheese, lowfat — shredded
2 medium Roma tomatoes — chopped
8 medium romaine lettuce leaves — chopped
1/4 medium red onion — chopped
4 Flour Tortillas

Brown the ground beef over medium heat. Add flour, spices and water and cook while stirring until thickened. Place a tortilla on a microwave-safe plate, sprinkle with cheese and spoon meat down the center (if you chilled it as I did). Microwave until cheese melts. Add other toppings along with a spoon of low-fat sour cream and a drizzle of salsa.

Taco fillings.jpg

I will add a picture of mine after dinner.


Schlotzsky’s Original

In college, we had a Schlotzsky’s on the corner of our campus. I fell in love with the Original and though I have tried other menu items, I never order anything else anymore. I have been making the copycat version for years, when we didn’t live near a Schlotzsky’s. The bread recipe was similar to, if not exactly this one. I always thought it was not quite right, not being sour dough, and have used ciabatta rolls as well. But in the comments to the above recipe someone recommended using vinegar and yogurt to give it the missing tang. So that is what I did. I omitted the 6 ounces of milk and used 2 T vinegar and 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt. I also replaced 1 cup of flour with whole wheat pastry flour. I got 8 little buns from it.


Top with what you want but I am following this guide and trying to make it look just like the picture except all the cheese and the ham are low fat varieties. (Their signature dressing might as well be avocado mayonnaise.) So, that is dinner.



Mexican Pizza

This is the other thing I always get at Taco Bell. I only eat half, but this lower fat version lets me eat the whole thing. I followed the directions exactly, except for using Carb Balance flour tortillas. I won’t assemble these until dinner time so I will post a picture then. I cooked the spiced ground beef, shredded the cheese and chopped the tomato and green onion. I also did the first bake of the oiled tortillas.


For some reason, these turned out better than they ever have. Everyone really liked them.