Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Day #7

My doctor is either a total whack job, or a underground drug fairy.

Before filling my prescription for muscle relaxers for the new jaw clinching habit, I decided to research exactly what these muscle relaxers are. Come to find out, I was not prescribed muscle relaxers at all. Instead, my doctor tricked me with anti-anxiety drugs.

The jury is still out as to whether or not this was a good or bad thing.

So, in result of taking my new prescription today, I cannot stop thinking about how awesome the movie "Where the Wild Things Are" is going to be. How did they make those creatures look so damn real? Is it animation? I wonder if I could imagine up a world like this. I really hope I don't get stuck in this imaginary world. That would really suck. Hmm...I wonder if my creatures would look like P. Diddy...last night I had the most realistic dream about P. Diddy. And he was missing a LOT of teeth. Freaky.

This is why I stick to alcohol.

Oh and by the way, this cheesecake recipe below is damn good. I may not be great at making things look good (i.e the cheesecake is noticeable lopsided) but, I can make things taste good. Plus, I am really glad I wrote this recipe before my new drug experimentation, cause I might have accidentally given you a recipe for orange creature p. diddy cheesecake.

Benihana: Mandarin Orange Cheesecake


Cake -
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 tbsp I Can't Believe It's Not Butter - Light
4 tbsp splenda
2 tbsp Almond Breeze (unsweetened)
2 tbsp egg substitute
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Cream Cheese Layer -
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup splenda
1 cup boiling water
1/2 envelope Dream Whip
1/4 cup low fat milk
3 8-ounce pkgs low fat cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
5 drops yellow food coloring
1 drop red food coloring

Topping -
1 cup canned mandarin oranges, in light syrup
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

Nut Crust-
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp splenda
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts

Icing -
1/4 cup I Can't Believe It's Not Butter - Light
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp Almond Breeze
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. For the cake crust, combine the flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl. Mix. Add in butter and sugar. Mix. Add milk, vanilla, and egg substitute. Mix. Pour into greased (with pam) 9-inch cake pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for 12 -15 minutes or until lightly browned.
2. For cream cheese layer, combine gelatin with 1/3 cup splenda and 1/3 cup sugar. Add 1 cup boiling water. Mix well.
3. In another bowl, combine half envelope of Dream Whip with 1/4 cup low fat milk. Whip until it becomes stiff.
4. In a large bowl, whip cream cheese with vanilla, orange extract, lemon juice and food coloring. Add gelatin mixture and beat well. Add Dream Whip mix. Whip well.
5. Pour mixture over the cake layer and chill for 2 hours or until firm.
6. Drain liquid from mandarin orange cans. Heat 1/2 cup of liquid in microwave for 1 minute. Mix in 1 teaspoon of gelatin and 1 cup of mandarins. Mix well. Pour on top of cheese cake and chill for 2 more hours.
7. For nut crust, combine 1 tbsp of water, 2tbsp of splenda, and hazelnuts into small saucepan over medium heat. Stir often and let water dissolve. Let sugar caramelize the hazelnuts. Let cool down, then place into blender or food processor and chip them until it becomes crumbs.
8. In small bowl, mix all icing ingredients. Once cheesecake has firmed, remove from pan. *I flipped the cheesecake upside down into a plate, then repeated this again. May not be the best way to do this, but its the only thing I could come up with!*
9. Spread icing to the side of the cheesecake. Then press hazelnut crumbs into the icing to make a crust. Chill for another hour.

Serving Size: 12
Nutritional Info: 174 cals, 5g fat, 24g carbs, 12g protein
Benihana Original Nutritional Info: 429 cals, 30g fat, 35g carbs, 12g protein

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day #6

I went to the doctors today because I've had a headache and ear pains everyday for the last month and a half. I was prescribed anti-inflammatories to relieve the pressure in my ears, which will help the pain in my head, which is caused by my fun, new habit of clinching my jaw all day, which is caused by stress, in which the doctor prescribed me muscle relaxers for.

I thought I might be dying. But I guess I'm just stressed. So typical.

Admittedly I did not enjoy cooking last night. I was grumpy and wanted Denny's nachos. I'll even apologize for the pictures I took: boring, lackluster, lazy.

In the end I was quite happy with how everything turned out. However, I still want my Denny's nachos.

Applebee's: Honey Grilled Salmon


Honey Pepper Sauce -
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup pineapple juice
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
pinch of salt
pinch of garlic

4 4oz salmon fillets

1. Mix all ingredients for the honey sauce in medium bowl. Cook over medium/low heat in saucepan for 15 - 20 minutes, or until sauce thickens.
2. While sauce cooks, add a small amount of salt and pepper to salmon and cook in oven on broil for 10 - 12 minutes, or until fully cooked. When ready to serve, pour honey sauce over salmon.

Servings: 4
Nutritional Info Per Serving: 301 cals, 6g fat, 32g carbs, 31g protein
Applebee's Original Nutritional Info Per Serving: 632 cals, 13g fat, 70g carbs, 60g protein

I am finally done with Applebees' recipes. Off to Benihana for a few days...

Benihana Ginger Salad Dressing:

1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp diced ginger
2 tbsp diced celery
1 tbsp ketchup (reduced sugar is best)
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
3 packets splenda
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch of salt
punch of pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until thoroughly pureed, approximately 20 - 20 seconds. Chill, then pour over iceberg lettuce.

Servings: 8
Nutritional Info Per Serving: 81cals, 7g fat, 5g carbs, 0g protein
Benihana's Original Nutritional Info Per Serving: 140 cals, 14g fat, 5g carbs, 0g protein

Benihana: Japanese Onion Soup


4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1/3 white onion
1/2 carrot, chopped
1/3 celery stalk, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
6 mushrooms, sliced
4 green onions
6 tbsp French's Fried Onion Pieces
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper


1. In large sauce pan, cook all ingredients (other than fried onions, mushrooms and green onions) on high heat. Bring to a boil. Then simmer over medium/low heat for 10 minutes.
2. Strain out all veggies from the broth. Ladle out broth into small serving bowls, then add 1 tbsp of fried onions, 2 tbsp of green onions, and several mushroom slices into to each bowl.

Servings: 6
Nutritional Info Per Serving: 31 cals, 1g fat, 6g carbs, 2g protein

Monday, September 28, 2009

Day #5

I work in entertainment. And my office is at a studio lot, i.e. ABC, Fox, Universal, etc. Apparently this means that my job is supposed to be glamorous. When people ask my job, they many times respond with "whoa, that's pretty cool".

I really wish I felt that way.

I'm really not sure when this feeling, or lack there of, came about. I loved working in entertainment for the first few years. It was something that I had wanted to do since I was a 13 year old chubby and awkward teen who adored N'Sync. I figured, "if I can work in entertainment, I can marry Justin Timberlake." I'm still waiting for my ring.

At my first real job, I had some creative control, worked with artistic and ambitious peers, and looked forward to tomorrow's tasks. Granted, it wasn't all peachy keen, but it was pretty cushy. Then the economy took a dip, and I lost my job. I spent the next six months taking classes, working for free, interning, and going whatever I could to make my next big step into the career I thought I wanted. I practically wrote the book on "How To Work In --- ----". ( --- ---- = my job).

When I was offered my current job, I was ecstatic. Seriously, the offered could not be much better. Awesome company, great title, amazing location, and decent pay (when you work in entertainment, decent pay means "I'm going to be able to pay my bills, therefore I am a success").

Then reality set in. I sat at my desk for 9 hours a day, staring blankly into a computer screen. Faxing, printing, typing, calling.

Bored. To. Death.

At night, I came home and cooked. Baked. Steamed. Broiled. Frosted. And ate. Soon, during the day I noticed that instead of reading entertainment news and websites at work, I read food blogs. I started to spend several hours a day researching recipes, calculating nutritional information, and trying to find the best way to make homemade tamales and low cal donuts.

Even as I write this post, I am also writing an email to a friend that is interested in getting into the same field as I. When I read what I write my first thought is "damn, this job sounds fun". Then my second thought screams "Don't do it!! It will suck your soul right out of your body".

I still have no idea what happened. When did my 12 + year old dream die and when was my new dream born? I'm hoping this blog is going to help me figure that all out.

Applebee's: Perfect Sunrise

1.5 oz silver tequila
1 oz sweet and sour mix
4 oz sugar free orangeade (Tropicana Brand used)
1 tsp grenadine
1 oz lime juice
1 oz lemon juice
1 splenda packet

1. Pour all ingredients into shaker, filled with one handful of ice.
2. Shake. Shake. Shake.
3. Pour into glass.
4. Get a buzz.

Serving Size: 1
Nutritional Info: 162 cals, 0g fat, 15g carbs, 0g protein
Original Applebee's Nutritional Info: 307 cals, 0g fat, 40g carbs, 1g protein

Applebee's: Onion Peels


Horseradish Dipping Sauce -
1/2 cup fat free mayo
1 1/2 tbsp horseradish
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ketchup
1/4 teaspoon pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of garlic powder
pinch of onion powder

1 large white onion
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup bread crumbs
pinch of salt
pinch of garlic powder
1 cup almond milk

1. In large bowl, combine flour, bread crumbs, salt and garlic. Mix well. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cut bottom and top off of onion. Then, while onion stands up on cutting board, cut in half 4 times. Creating onion wedges. Separate onions.
3. Dip onions into milk. Then dip into flour/bread crumb mix to coat onion with it's "batter".
4. On a nonstick cooking sheet, place all coated onions. Cook in oven for 25 minutes, or until onion peels are crispy and slightly brown.
5. While onions cook, mix all dipping ingredients into small bowl and place in refrigerator to chill until ready to serve with onions.

Serving Size: 6
Nutritional Info Per Serving: 114 cals, 2g fat, 16g carbs, 1g protein

Applebee's: Tequila Lime Chicken

Marinade -
1 cup water
1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 teaspoon liquid hickory smoke
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon tequila

Mex-Ranch Sauce -
1/4 cup fat free mayo
1/4 cup fat free sour cream
2 tbsp minced tomato
2 tbsp minced onion
1 tbsp minced jalapenos
2 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon tabasco sauce
pinch of salt
pinch of paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of cumin
pinch of chili powder

4 4oz chicken breasts
4 corn tortillas
1 cup reduced fat mexican blend shredded cheese

1. Combine ingredients for marinade in large bowl. Add chicken to bowl and marinate for a few hours in the fridge.
2. In medium bowl, mix all ingredients for the mexi-ranch sauce. Set aside.
3. Once chicken has been marinated, place on skillet or bbq grill for 4 - 6 minutes per side, or until chicken is fully cooked.
4. Place corn tortillas on cookie sheet, in oven on Broil. Cook for 3 -5 minutes or until tortillas are slightly brown.
5. Once tortillas are finished, cut into smaller slices. Distribute throughout the 4 plates. Then place 1 chicken breast on top of tortilla strips. Then top with mexi-ranch sauce and 1/4 cup of shredded cheese.
6. Microwave for 45 seconds, or until cheese melts.

Servings: 4
Nutritional Info Per Serving: 320 cals, 9g fat, 22g carbs, 36g protein
Applebee's Original Nutritional Info Per Serving: 627 cals, 39g fat, 44g carbs, 27g protein

Friday, September 25, 2009

Day #4

45 minutes to my freedom. 61 minutes to my first drink. Approximately 120 minutes until I eat take-out. Yup, you read it right. Good 'ole take-out food.

When I started on this Restaurant Recipe journey, I knew I would not survive it if I didn't allow some time off. So, I purposely scheduled to cook my dinners 5 nights a week, which allowed for Friday and Saturday nights to be my "take-out" nights.

The best thing so far about re-creating these restaurant recipes is that I don't feel deprived in the least bit. This whole week I have eaten restaurant quality foods with rich, bold flavors, but with "diet-friendly" nutritional stats. Which means, I have no desire to binge this weekend. And to someone who's ex-best friend was weekend binging, this feels amazing.

So why still get take-out? Well, because I am tired. The last thing I want to do it get burned out on cooking, the one of a handful of things I can always look forward to.

Thank you for sticking with me through my first week. I'd love any feedback, ideas, comments, etc.


Applebee's: Crispy Orange Chicken Bowl


1/2 cup orange juice
1 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp sugar free orange marmalade
3 tbsp splenda
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon minced parsley
1 tbsp rice vinegar
pinch of chili flakes
pinch of minced garlic
pinch of thyme

2 servings of Applebee's Almond Rice Pilaf (see Day #1)
12 Morningstar Farms Chik'n Nuggets (or 3 servings)
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup sliced red bell pepper
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup sugar snap peas
1/4 cup shredded carrots
2 tbsp slivered almonds

1. In medium size bowl, combine all ingredients for orange sauce. Mix well. Simmer over medium heat for 15 - 20 minutes in saucepan, until sauce thickens.
2. Bake your Chik'n Nuggets in 325 degrees oven for 15 minutes, or until crispy.
3. In large saucepan, steam all veggie in water for 10 minutes, or until all veggies soften.
4. Heat leftover Almond Rice Pilaf in microwave for 1 minute.
5. Split pilaf into two bowls. On top of rice, layer veggies, and chik'n nuggets. Pour orange sauce over chicken and veggies. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp of slivered almonds.

Servings: 2
Nutritional Info Per Serving: 644 cals, 25g fat, 87g carbs, 30g protein
Original Applebee's Nutritional Info Per Serving: 1515 cals, 58g fat, 203g carbs, 54g protein

* If you want to make this dish even more calorie friendly, use grilled skinless chicken instead of the nuggets, and swap the rice out for additional veggies. This can cut up to 300 more calories.

Applebee's: Perfect Apple Margarita

1 tbsp splenda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 oz white tequila
1/2 oz Sour Apple Pucker
1 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz lime juice
1 1/2 oz apple juice

1. In small plate, mix cinnamon and 1/2 tbsp of splenda. Moisten the rim of a martini glass, then dip rim into the cinnamon/splenda mix.
2. Fill a cocktail shaker half way with ice. Pour in tequila, sour apple, lemon juice, lime juice, apple juice and 1/2 tbsp of splenda. Shake well. Pour into martini glass.

Drink up. It's friday!

Servings: 1
Nutritional Info: 165 cals, 0g fat, 16g carbs, 0g protein
Original Applebee's Nutritional Info: 236 cals, 0g fat, 33g carbs, 0g protein

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Day #3

There's not much to say once you see the pictures of the White Chocolate Blondie I made last night.

I've never been good cooking at baking low calorie desserts, but this was a victory. My success was due to the fact that I only substituted some of the ingredients for healthier ones, not all of them. Granted, I know 329 calories is still a lot for a dessert, but compared to the 859 calories that it was originally, this was a drastic change. I could have changed a few more ingredients, but it would have really changed the taste. For me, if it tastes "too healthy", I ain't eating it.

Also, I've decided I need an electric whisk. My arms are sore.

Applebee's: Chicken Fajita Rollup


Marinade -
2 cups water
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 packets splenda
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tbsp hickory smoke flavoring
2 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon pepper

4 4oz chicken breast fillets

Mexi-Ranch Dipping Sauce -
1/2 cup fat free mayo
2 tbsp dived onion
2 tbsp diced tomato
1 tbsp reduced fat buttermilk
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp cilantro
1 tbsp canned diced green chilis
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon splenda
pinch of salt
pinch of cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper

Pico de Gallo-
2 medium diced onions
1/2 diced white onion
1 jalapeno, diced and seeded
2 teaspoon lime juice
1 tbsp cilantro
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

4 large La Tortilla Whole Wheat Tortillas (or any tortilla that's approx 100 cals)
1 cup low fat shredded mexican blend cheese
4 cups shredded iceberg lettuce

1. Marinade chicken breasts in marinade for a few hours before cooking.
2. While marinating chicken, combine all ingredients for both mexi-ranch dipping sauce and pico de gallo, in different bowls, and let sit in fridge.
3. Once chicken is marinated, cook on grill or skillet until thoroughly cooked (approx 6-9 minutes per side).
Once completed, cut into smaller slices.
4. Put 1/4 cup of cheese onto middle of each tortilla. Heat in microwave for 30 - 45 seconds, or until cheese melts.
5. Layer chicken, the pico de gallo, and then lettuce onto tortillas. Fold wrap into a burrito shape, bringing in both ends first. Serve with a side of mexi-ranch dipping sauce.

Serving: 4
Nutritional Info for Rollup Per Serving: 333cals, 12g fat, 23g carbs, 17g protein.
Original Applebee's Nutritional Info for Rollup Per Serving: 752 cals, 22g fat, 25g carbs, 35g protein.

Nutritional Info for Mexi-Ranch Dipping Sauce Per Serving: 41 cals, 1g fat, 7g carbs, .5g protein
Original Applebee's Nutritional Info for Mexi-Ranch Sauce Per Serving: 126 cals, 10g fat, 9g carbs, .5g protein

Applebee's: White Chocolate & Walnut Blondie

4 egg whites
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup splenda
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened Almond Breeze (almond milk)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Sauce -
1/2 cup I Can't Believe It's Not Butter - Light
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup fat free cream cheese
2 tbsp sugar free maple syrup

12 1/2 cup scoops of light vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
2. Whip egg whites until they are stiff. Add applesauce, brown sugar, splenda and vanilla. Mix well.
3. In separate bowl, mix baking soda, baking powder, flour, salt. Then, add to your bowl of wet ingredients.
4. Mix in almond milk and white chocolate. Mix well. Pour into 9X13inch baking pan, greased with PAM. Bake for 30 minutes.
5. While blondies cooks, mix all sauce ingredients in bowl. Right before serving, heat in microwave for 30 - 45 seconds.
6. Once blondies are fully cooked and golden brown, let cool for 10 - 15 minutes before cutting into 12 squares.
7. Arrange plate with blondie, topped with 1/2 cup of ice cream, then sauce, then sprinkled with walnuts.

Servings: 12
Nutritional Info for Blondie Only: 167 cals, 3g fat, 29 carbs, 4g protein
Applebee's Nutritional Info for Blondie Only: 498 cals, 21g fat, 65g carbs, 6g protein

Nutritional Info for Sauce: 55 cals, 4g fat, 5 carbs, 2g protein
Applebee's Nutritional Info For Sauce: 164 cals, 14g fat, 10g carbs, 2g protein

Nutrional Info For Entire Blondie (with all toppings): 329 cals, 9g fat, 56g carbs, 10g protein
Applebee's Nutritional Info for Entire Blondie: 859 cals, 55g fat, 97g carbs, 13g protein

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Day #2

I did not set the kitchen on fire last night. I did not cry after I drop our new camera. I didn't even cry after I realized our new camera would not turn on.

I did cry this morning after I realized that the treadmill wasn't available at my apartment building's gym.

Hi, my name is Ashley and I am dramatic.

I'm going to keep this short today. My boss continues to yell my name between our offices. The longer I work here, the louder he yells. He thinks his hearing is going, in reality I'm just getting better at ignoring him.

Off to work on things that do not matter, while I day dream about tonight's cooking session.

Applebee's: Baked French Onion Soup

1 teaspoon Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 white onions, sliced
2 cups beef broth
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of garlic powder
pinch of pepper
2 slices of Oroweat (or Arnold's) Sandwich Thins (or any 50 cal bread)
2 sliced low fat provolone cheese
2 teaspoon low fat shredded parmesan cheese

1. Heat oil in large sauce pan on medium heat. Add onions and saute for for 20 minutes, until onions are soft.
2. Add beef broth, water, salt, garlic, and pepper. Once brought to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
3. While soup simmers, place a provolone cheese slice on each slice of bread. Place on baking sheet and cook in over for 10 minutes on 325 degrees (or until cheese melts).
4. Once soup is finished, place into soup bowl, then top with your cheesy "crouton". Sprinkle on parmesan cheese.

Serving Size: 2
Nutritional Info Per Serving: 159 cals, 6g fat, 20g carbs, 10g protein
*Original Applebee's Nutrional Info Per Serving: 219 cals, 8g fat, 19g carbs, 20g protein

*This is what I calculated based on the recipe, but many calorie counting websites state that this soup can be up towards 388 calories at the actual restaurant. Yikes!

Applebee's: Sante Fe Chicken Salad



2 cups water

1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp splenda

2 tbsp salt

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp cayenne pepper

2 teaspoon hickory smoke flavoring

2 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon pepper

4 4ounce chicken breast fillets

Mexi-Ranch Dressing -

1/2 cup fat free mayonnaise
2 tbsp diced onion

2 tbsp diced tomato

1 tbsp reduced fat buttermilk

1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp cilantro

1 tbsp canned diced green chiles

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon splenda

pinch salt
pinch cumin

pinch cayenne pepper

Pico De Gallo -

2 medium diced tomatoes

1/2 diced white onion
1 diced jalapeno, seeded

2 teaspoon lime juice
1 tbsp fresh cilantro

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Salad -

8 cups chopped iceberg lettuce

8 cups chopped romaine lettuce

1 cup chopped red cabbage

1 cup low fat shredded mexican blend cheese

4 small corn tortillas

1/2 avocado

1/2 cup fat free sour cream

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter - Spray

1. Combine marinade ingredients in bowl and marinate chicken in fridge for a few hours.

2. While chicken marinates, combine all ingredients for the mexi-ranch dressing and all ingredients for pico de gallo, in separate bowls, and let them sit in fridge while preparing rest of salad.
3. Once chicken is marinated for a few hours, put on grill or skillet and cook throughouhly, about 6 - 9 minutes per side.

4. While chicken cooks, slice corn tortillas into thins strips and spray some butter on each side of tortilla strips. Place onto cookie sheet in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, or until tortillas are slightly browned.

5. Once lettuce and cabbage is cut, mix with mexi-ranch dressing in big bowl. Then portion lettuce into 4 bowls.

6. Top 1/4 cup of cheese to each salad, then add your baked tortilla strips. Slice chicken breast and add to each salad.

7. Mix the avocado with 2 tbsp of your pico de gallo to make your guacamole.

8. Add a spoonful of sour cream, pico de gallo, and guacamole to each salad.

Serving Size: 2
Nutritional Info Per Serving for Salad w/o dressing: 376 cals, 12g fat, 22g carbs, 31g protein
*Original Applebee's Nutrional Info Per Serving: 637 cals, 34g fat, 38g carbs, 46g protein

Serving Size: 2
Nutritional Info for Mexi-Ranch DressingPer Serving: 42 cals, 1g fat, 27g carbs, .5g protein
*Original Applebee's Nutrional Info Per Serving: 126 cals, 10g fat, 9g carbs, .5g protein

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Week #1 : Applebee's

I wanted to start each day of recipes off with the original nutritional information for each dish. Upon researching (or attempting to) the nutritional information for Applebee's, I was forced to contact their corporate office for their stats. This was their response:

"Thank you for contacting us regarding nutritional information. Like several other full service, sit-down restaurants, we do not make nutritional information available on a broad basis. Unlike fast-food restaurants that commonly provide this information, a greater percentage of our foods are hand-crafted, prepared on premise which can lead to variation.

We do value our guest's feedback and are reviewing opportunities of how we can make this information more broadly available. I will share your feedback with our Research and Development team.

Really? So your saying that the Weight Watcher items that you are offer do not fall under "hand-crafted" foods? Are they flown in directly from your corporate office where each meal is properly weighed and calculated? You can't just give us a ballpark number?

We should all be able to know what is going into our bodies. Hiding this information, probably due to unsightly caloric statistics, is ludicrous.

Instead of posting the actual nutritional information for each Applebee's Dish, I will give you the stats I came up with based on the recipes used in the Top Secrets Recipes

So screw you Applebee's, I'm making your "hand-crafted" menu at home.

Day #1

The first day should be simple. Exciting even.

Well that's how it started. And it ended with me imagining setting kitchen on fire. On purpose.

The cooking was straightforward. Almost, dare I say, easy. But presentation, photography, and making the food look as good as it tastes, is hard. So hard that it took me 5 times to "swirl chocolate syrup" in a damn wine glass (see Mud Slide recipe below). And it still didn't look good. I took over 100 pictures and I think maybe 5 are okay, the rest make me cringe. And really, how am I supposed to make steak and pilaf look good? All brown dish = disaster for the eyes.

Either way, here are my first day's results.

Remember, because Applebee's likes to keep secrets, the Original Applebee's Nutritional Information is based off the Top Secrets Recipe®.

Applebee's: Almond Rice Pilaf

2 tbsp Light I Can't Believe It's Not Butter
3/4 uncooked brown rice
2 1/4 cup chicken broth
pinch of salt
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup celery
1/4 cup onion
1 teaspoon dried parsley

1. Melt 1 tablespoon of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. Add rice to butter and brown over medium heat in saucepan.
2. Once lightly brown, add broth and salt to rice. Cover the pan and reduce heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes, or until most of the broth is absorbed.
3. In skillet, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter. Add almond and let brown for 1 - 2 minutes. Then add celery and onion.
4. Once celery and onion are softened and almonds are browned, add all to the rice. Add parsley. Cook for another 2 -3 minutes.

Serving Size: 4
Nutritional Information Per Serving: 196 calories, 6g fat, 21g carbs, and 5g protein
*Original Applebee's Nutritional Information Per Serving: 296 calories, 13g fat, 40g carbs, 6g protein

Applebee's Bourbon Street Steak:

2 4 ounce top sirloin steaks

Marinade -
2 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
4 teaspoon chili powder
4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon oregano
2 cups water

Garlic Butter:
2 teaspoon Light I Can't Believe Its Not Butter
pinch of garlic powder

1 teaspoon
Light I Can't Believe Its Not Butter
2 cups sliced white onion
2 cups sliced mushrooms 1tbsp water

pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

1.Combine all ingredients for marinade in bowl. Cover and store steak in marinate bowl overnight.
2. If you have a grill, grill steak on each side for 3 - 5 minutes. If not use large skillet.
3. In skillet, melt 1 teaspoon of light butter. Add mushrooms, onions, water, salt and pepper in skillet. Saute for 3 - 5 minutes on medium heat.
4. In small bowl, melt 2 teaspoons of light butter with garlic powder in microwave for 15 - 20 seconds.
5. Once steak is done, top with sauteed veggies and garlic butter.

Serving Size: 2
Nutritional Information Per Serving: 226calories, 9g fat, 8g carbs, and 28g protein
*Original Applebee's Nutritional Information Per Serving: 694 calories, 45g fat, 8g carbs, 68g protein

Applebee's Mud Slide


1/2 cup light vanilla ice cream
1 ounce Kahlua
2 tbsp fat free cool whip
2 tbsp sugar free chocolate syrup


1. In blender, blend ice cream and Kahlua.
2. In small wine class, swirl chocolate syrup around inside of glass. (damn this step)
3. Pour drink into blender. Top with cool whip and a bit more chocolate syrup.

Serving Size: 1
Nutritional Information Per Serving: 231calories, 0g fat, 44g carbs, and 3g protein
*Original Applebee's Nutritional Information Per Serving: 827 calories, 30g fat, 111g carbs,12g protein

The Plan

While I was on my mini hiatus, I started to think. Probably too much. When your boyfriend leaves for a month, you have a limited amount of good friends, and have 2 rambunctious puppies that need several long walks a day to avoid them eating a third (yup, third) $80 Mac Power start to think. This lead to my conclusion that I need to stop thinking, and actually start doing.

So I came up with something that not only will challenge me and my healthy transformation cooking skills, but it will also give me something to focus on. A goal perhaps. Something that will keep my mind off my shitty job that tends to submerge me into the deep waters of depression. Something that will keep me from freaking out that I am almost 25 and have absolutely no idea as to what the hell I am doing with my life. And possibly something that will break my month long habit of restaurant, fast food, and take out meals.

Recreate all 150 recipes in the very popular cookbook "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2
: Amazing Clones of Famous Dishes From America's Favorite Restaurant Chains" by Todd Wilbur into lower calorie, healthy, yet still tasty and filling dishes.

Whether it be switching out high-calorie ingredients for lower ones or re-portioning the size of dishes to the actual serving sizes that we should be eating, my goal is to create the foods I crave without sacrificing my waistline.

Finish Goal Date:
Dec 31th, 09.
(yes, my therapist approved. barely.)

Wish me luck, because honestly, I have no idea what I just committed myself to.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Either My Best Idea Yet or The Death Of Me

Back with a Vengeance and an Expanding Waistline

The skinny jeans have been pushed aside. And I now wear dresses. Everyday.

I forewarned you of my possible absence from the blog world. I also promised a blog re-haul after my move and travels. So here I am, actually fulfilling my promises. Did I also promise a 10-15 pound weight gain? No. But I thought I'd be nice and throw in a little extra gift.

The last month has been filled with long nights, stressful days, and was cushioned between pounds of restaurant foods and bottles of wine. and vodka
. and champagne. I am not surprised of this weight gain by the least bit. But it doesn't make it feel any better.

The one thing that has saved me this time around are my skinny jeans. Last fall when I was at my lowest weight ever (which lasted approximately 2 days), I tossed all my fat clothes. Every last pair of jeans that didn't fit into my "size criterion". This was the smartest thing I've probably ever done. So instead of weighing myself on that devil machine we refer to as the scale (which I haven't done since June), I determine my weight by how well my skinny jeans fit. And they are tight. As in, I'm afraid the button will pop off if I sit. So I wear dresses. Thankfully Los Angeles doesn't have seasons.

So what's my next step? Cook. Yes, I know dealing with my food issues with food is a bit contradicting, but it's the only way I know.