Tag Archives: cooking spray

WW Chinese Pineapple Chicken

27 Sep

Weight Watchers Pineapple Chicken 015

How many wagons have you fallen off of? Have you fallen off of the sweets wagon? The alcohol wagon? The Friends reruns until 4 a.m. wagon? The “I’m tired of being treated like shit” wagon?

Eventually, we all find ourselves looking at the tread indentations of that friggin’ wagon trailing away from us while mud is kicked up into our faces. We’ve fallen off. A particularly erotic eclair spreads its legs like an elusive crush, or that box o’ See’s candies bares its nickel-shaped nipples like a shameless Brad Pitt seducing Geena Davis; or a bad day requires a friend named Martini and the rest is Absolut history; or a sleepless evening can only be comforted by Ross and Rachel and Phoebe and Janice; or perhaps you don’t know what being treated nicely feels like, so you’ll take shit over nothing.

The expression is an old one (early 1900’s, to be exact), yet we apply it to so many areas in our lives that require restraint, reflection, admission, and determination, at some point. Should you feel misery and self-loathing when you fall off? Fuck no. Get back on when you can and try not to make the same mistake twice, and if you do, get back on and try not to make the same mistake thrice, and if you do, get back on and don’t make the same mistake… get it. Keep tryin’, kid. You’ll get there.

I fall off of the Weight Watchers wagon regularly. Do I get pissed at myself? Yeah, but not enough to damage me permanently or make me wallow in a maelstrom of guilt. I’ve learned to enjoy dusting myself off, to be honest. It builds character.

I mention this because this Chinese Pineapple Chicken dish was the first Weight Watchers meal I ever made when finally, at 60 pounds above my “normal” weight, I got on the wagon and actually tried to help myself. I signed up for Weight Watchers, weighed in, went to meetings, stopped being a pussy, started walking a lot, and, fifty pounds later, was healthier.

And I’m glad this dish was the first because it’s excellent. If it sucked, I would have fallen off the wagon within a week. This dish gave me some hope, and it also made me realize that my “cooking” mind was way, way too narrow. There are plenty of ways to enjoy and indulge in good food without feeling after every meal like a goose being prepped for foie gras harvesting.

I got this recipe out of one of the first brochures that I received when I signed up for Weight Watchers. This recipe serves four, and each portion is a 6 on the old WW system (PointPlus and 360° can fuck off non-haltingly).

Note: Asian Black Bean Sauce favors vary, so find one that you dig, and go with it.

Chinese Pineapple Chicken

Serves 4


Cooking Spray

1 bunch of scallions (green onions), trimmed and sliced thinly

1 tbsp. chopped, fresh ginger (do not substitute for this)

1 tbsp. minced garlic

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes

2 cups crushed pineapple or pineapple chunks, packed in juice

1/4 cup Asian black bean sauce

2 cups cooked brown or white rice (I used brown rice in the pictures; it has more fiber, holmes.)

Makin’ It:

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and coat it with cooking spray. Add in the scallions, ginger, and garlic. Saute and stir this for about 4 minutes until it’s nice and pungent. Add in the chicken and saute it until it’s browned and almost cooked through, about 7-8 minutes, stirring regularly.

Add in the pineapple (juice and all) and the Asian black bean sauce. Stir it all together well. Get this to a simmer, lower the heat to medium, and cook it, stirring often, until the chicken is cooked through and tender, about 5 to 8 minutes more.

Put 1/2 cup of rice on each plate, and divide the Chinese Pineapple Chicken amongst the four plates. You might get this:

Weight Watchers Pineapple Chicken 010

I put sriracha on the rice because I like spice to kick me in the nuts a bit.

It’s easy, fantastically tasty, and a good place to learn how to stay on the wagon.

Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.

©Jon Marino 2013


Potatoes Lots o’ Ways: Roasted and Good for You

14 Dec

Mustard Potatoes #2

I love potatoes.  In the U.S., they’re the quintessential side dish for everything, whether they’re fried, mashed, baked, roasted, boiled, barbecued, made into chips, or made into salads. We put them with everything at any meal at any time of day.

A few years ago when we decided to go on Weight Watchers, the potatoes in this house, alas, had to get the fuck out of Dodge.  If you’re trying to lose weight (rather than maintain), substituting squash and veggies is the way to go.

Still, I make potatoes at least three times a week, and I still loosely (and this XMas season, I mean loooooooooosely, unlike my belt) follow some sort of weight control regimen.  This general directive is a sort of guiltless recipe for potatoes that has lots of options and still gives one that “potatoes on the side feeling” without sacrificing the potatoes themselves or the flavor and richness of them.

Roasting potatoes is easy.  The scheme upon which I elucidate below can be molded into whatever “theme” you’re cooking that evening.  The best part of this is the experimentation.  If it sounds good, go for it.  The basic method still applies.

Roasted Potatoes a Lot o’ Ways


2 to 3 lbs. of any type of potato you want or have, cut into 1″ to 1 1/2″ chunks (really…any potato works, peels on or off, for that matter)

a few teaspoons of olive oil, if you’re cool with the extra fat and calories


a bunch of cooking spray, the olive oil kind is best for it

salt and pepper to taste, a good dusting of each…but remember, as my mom always told me, you can always add later, but you can’t take it out!

Makin’ ‘Em:

Preheat the oven to 425°.  Spray a baking sheet or baking dish with cooking spray or just grease it somehow.

Whatever preparation you choose above or below, roast them in a single layer on the baking sheet for 40 minutes.  They look like this going in:

Mustard Potatoes before baking

(Mustard Crusted with Onions)

Turn them once or twice to brown them evenly.  They look like this coming out, in case you forgot:

Mustard Potatoes #2

(I might enter this picture in the county fair next year, now that I look at its beauty…)


Different Ideas Before Roasting

(Note: each variation expects that you will toss them with either a tablespoon or two of olive oil or a bunch of cooking spray.)

Salt ‘n’ Pepa:  a really bad ’80’s band, but a great classic way to roast potatoes. Toss with a good dusting of salt and pepper…a teaspoon or more of each.

Mustard Crusted (shown in the pictures):  Toss with salt, pepper, 2 tbsp. whole grain mustard, and some parsely, dried or fresh.  Add a quartered onion into this and you’ll have people offering you reach-arounds.

Smokey: Toss with salt, pepper, and a teaspoon or two of smoked paprika, which is very cheap at Costco.

Paprika-y: Toss with salt, pepper, and a teaspoon or two of regular paprika.

Indian:  Toss with salt, pepper, and a teaspoon or two of Garam Masala or curry powder.

Mexican:  Toss with a bit of salt and a packet of taco seasoning (or homemade taco seasoning, which is what I do:

Carribean:  Toss with salt, pepper, and a teaspoon or two of jerk seasoning.

Scandinavian:  Toss with salt, pepper, and a few teaspoons of dried dill (this is especially good if you roast carrots, parsnips, and onions with them, but up the dill to a tablespoon or two if you do it).

Herbed:  Toss with salt, pepper, and a few teaspoons of dried thyme or marjoram or something herb-y.

New Orleans:  Toss with salt, pepper, creole seasoning (like Tony Chachere’s), and some cayenne, depending on how spicy you want them.

In all cases, good, healthy additions are onions, carrots, parsnips, fennel bulb slices, etc.  Just make sure they will be done at approximately the same time as the potatoes.  Green Beans, for example, don’t work because they will get burnt before the potatoes are done.

The sky’s the limit with the variations  on roasted potatoes and, truth be told, I’m guessing most already know this.  But, this is Dinner with Jonny, and through the years, I have been amazed when people ask me, “How did you DO that?”  And when I tell them, they’re like, “You’re joking, right?”  Nope.  I’m serious.  ‘Tis easy.

Until later, east, drink and peace out.