Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sumptuous Swirls

Swirling plates and swirling waters surrounded our sumptuous picnic meal today.  The menu included a delicious salad of shrimp and farmers market vegetables.  The dessert was a blueberry upside-down cake.  Here's a closer look:

The salad ingredients work together to provide a perfect seasoning and moistness without an added dressing. 

Shrimp and Spring Vegetable Salad

(2 Servings)

Saute onions, garlic and peppers in olive oil.  Add shrimp and 1/2 teaspoon oregano.  Brown shrimp on 1 side for 3 minutes.  Turn.  Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon oregano.  Brown on second side for 2 minutes.
1/4 cup diced onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 mini sweet peppers, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
10 jumbo shrimp, peeled deveined and tail removed
1 teaspoon oregano

Add potatoes, cut side down to hot pan.  Add wine.  Heat for 1-2 minutes.
1/4 cup white wine
4 new potatoes, cooked and halved

Remove from heat.  Mix in asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes and olives.  Refrigerate overnight.
4 fresh asparagus spears, microwaved for 2 minutes.
4 broccolini spears, microwaved for 2 minutes
1 roma tomato, diced
1/4 cup black olives, chopped

Blueberry Upside Down Cake

(Serves 6)

Grease a 7 inch springform pan with olive oil spray.  Wrap foil around bottom of pan and place it on another baking sheet.  Add berries, sugar, lemon juice and buttery spread.  Bake in 400F. oven for 35 minutes.  Remove from oven to cooling rack and reduce oven temperature to 350F.
1 pint fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon 1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon 1 teaspoon buttery spread

In a separate bowl, mix flours, baking powder, salt, baking soda and lemon zest. 
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/3 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

In bowl of electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar.
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar

Alternately add dry ingredients with yogurt and buttery spread.  Mix until flour is incorporated.
2/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt
3 tablespoon 1 teaspoon melted buttery spread

Spoon batter over blueberries in springform pan.  Smooth surface.  Bake for 35 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes on rack.  Release pan sides from cake and remove.  Turn cake onto a cooling rack with piece of foil on bottom to catch the dripping juices.  Remove bottom cake pan and cool.  Garnish with mascarpone cream.

Our picnic today was at Valley Falls State Park near Fairmont, West Virginia.  The falls were the highest we've ever seen.  The friendly maintenance workers gave us a ride on their all terrain vehicle to show us the hollowed out tree and took our picture.  It was a beautiful Sunday.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Real Life Dinners (Book Review)

Author Rachel Hollis sets one bar for her family meals-that they are "made with love" by this Mom of four.  Her recipes are simple yet made with whole foods and wholesome ingredients.  Rachel displays a desire to share with the people she cares most about-her husband and children.  She knows that memories often occur around food.

Planning a variety of dinners for the week with this book is easy.  Rachel includes a nice variety of proteins to choose from.  There's seafood, poultry and eggs:

 Foil Wrapped Fish

Lemon Pesto Chicken

 Twice Baked Potatoes with Eggs

Vegetables surround the protein.  The foil wrapped fish has corn and potatoes.  The lemon pesto chicken includes green beans and covered with pesto (mine is spinach pesto).  The recipes includes sides of vegetables, as in the Lemon Grilled Zucchini in the photo above.
Rachel mixes the vegetables and fruit in with some entrees.

 Meatloaf Meatballs

 Turkey Burgers

The meatballs has carrots and zucchini mixed with the ground beef.  The turkey burgers has a tasty mix of apple and mango with the ground poultry.
Cauliflower Stir Fry

The vegetarian meals include the addition of nuts.
Dried beans are included in several dishes, like in the Enchilada Soup.

There are some whole grains, as in the corn tortillas on the soup.  Quinoa, brown rice, whole grain tortilla are specified in a few recipes.

Rachel includes one page of her spice mix recipes that are she uses in many recipes.  

This Chili Rubbed Salmon is covered with the "Fiesta Blend" made with lemon zest, cumin, onion and garlic powders.

I particularly enjoyed the "breakfast for dinner" chapter and the section on table manners.  ("Napkins on the lap are required").

As the busy working professional, she uses some pre-made condiments, as in the pesto and chutney.  While some recipes can be made ahead, the recipes can be put together in 30 minutes or less.

Thank you St. Martin's Press for the complimentary review copy.  The above post and pictures are my own.  I received no other compensation for this review, other than the pleasure of creating meals and eating!

About Rachel Hollis’s new cookbook REAL LIFE DINNERS: Fun, Fresh, Fast Dinners from the Creator of The Chic Site (St. Martin’s Press; June 5, 2018):
Rachel is a mom of four, creator of The Chic Site, author and wife. Dinner has always played a pivotal role in Rachel's life while growing up and today, she loves to cook. But real life and real life commitments can often get in the way and cooking dinner can’t take hours.
Real life means there may not be the time to marinate or prep a day in advance, but that’s okay! That doesn't mean she and her family, or you and yours, can't enjoy wholesome, delicious and healthy meals.
In REAL LIFE DINNERS, Rachel takes readers inside her kitchen showcasing the fun, fresh and fast recipes she cooks for her family. Featuring over 80 recipes and photos, including: 
·         Breakfast Quesadillas
·         Toast Nine Ways
·         Freeze-Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches
·         Taco Tuesday
·         Crispy Sweet Potato Bake
·         Lemon-Pesto Chicken
·         Slow Cooker Loaded Potato Soup
·         Rach's Spice Blends

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mom Loves a Picnic

The Mothers Day message read "This day is all about you."-and a picnic with my spouse is one of my favorite things.  The environment is as important as the menu, and a trip to a nearby state park provides a beautiful outside environment, with trees and the sounds of nature surrounding the picnic tables.  This park-West Virginia's Tygart Lake Park-has water to include a dam, lake and running water in public bathrooms.  The park is a 30-45 minute drive from home, so it's easy to transport cold foods in ice and after dinner coffee in a thermus.  

Many foods that we normally eat hot are equally good cold.  Today's meal, with salmon and green bean succatash is tasty served cold, and did not require a lot of prep (since I cook it the day before).  The zucchini and carrot muffins were more involved, but I cooked a batch which will last for several days.  This was a plate I'd love to see on any restaurant menu.

Seasoning for Chili Rubbed Salmon

(2 servings)

1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon cumin
Mix spices together in a medium bowl.  Pat both sides of 2 salmon fillets into the fish.  Bake at 450 F. for 15 minutes.

Honey Zucchini Carrot Muffins   

(10 muffins)

Mix flour, cinnmon, baking soda, powder, salt and coconut together in a bowl.
1 1/2 cups spelt flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup shredded coconut
Pinch of salt

Grate squash and carrots in a food processor.
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup grated carrots

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together eggs and honey.
3 eggs
1/4 cup honey

Add vegetables to the bowl.  Alternately add dry flour mix with the olive oil vanilla mix.  Mix just until combined.
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla 

Scoop 3 tablespoons each batter into muffin tin greased with olive oil spray.  Bake at 350 F. for 20 minutes.  Cool in pan 5 minutes, then on wire rack.  Store in the refrigerator. 


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Value Added Farm Fresh Sampling

I'm already a believer in local foods, the freshness of the products and safety in knowing the grower. Our local farmers market has built a community of growers, processors and consumers.  As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I've especially enjoyed working with a local farm family to provide one "farm fresh sampling" each month of the outdoor season.  Their grass fed meats and cage free eggs provide that center of the plate protein that exemplifies taste and nutrition.  

In supporting the other members of the farmers market association, we always include produce and other local products in our sampling.  This Italian Beef Sandwich Puff has fresh spring spinach added to the simmered beef and Italian sauce filling.  Many of the vendors sold bags of fresh spinach the this market.  The sandwiches were garnished with an aged cheddar cow cheese sold by the local creamery.

I was especially delighted when the market baker agreed to make the 3-bite size wheat puffs for the sandwiches. She ground the local wheat berries in her flour mill.

Thin sliced round steak, fresh spinach, cheddar cheese, wheat berries and eggs-all local and grown or produced by a community of artisans and growers. The value of this is close to priceless!

We gave away 220 samples of these sandwiches, made with 14# of the thin sliced round steak.  Here is the consumer size recipe:


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Wild Crab Meals that Trim Cost and Sodium

Our local grocery store chain offers sales on wild lump crab periodically featuring a cost about 1/3 less than normal.  When I open that can-I divide it into 4 ounce packets and freeze 3/4ths of it.  That allows a 2 ounce portion for each of the 2 of us.  For a crab cake recipe- that's plenty to make a nice sandwich.

My Mom taught me to use the recipe on the side of the Old Bay Seasoning for crab cakes. It's a classic.  The sodium in Old Bay is high, and my can of Old Bay was older than I cared to admit.  So I made my own seasoning.  The result is every bit as good:

Seafood Seasoning 

(Makes 2/3 cup:  One serving is 1/4 teaspoon)

4 tablespoon celery seed
3 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 1/3 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

The dish pictured at top is made with fresh cut corn off the cob, wild lump crab meat,  sauteed onion, garlic and sweet pepper. Sprinkle with seafood seasoning and serve over a bed of spaghetti squash. Garnish with grated Parmegiano cheese, fresh parsley and fresh ground pepper.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Apple Blossoms

These soft spelt rolls with an apricot and apple filling may not have been the center of the plate, but the whole grain with fruity garnish completed the dinner plate along with roasted chicken and vegetables. The dough and method is based on a recipe in Fine Cooking Magazine.

Spelt Dinner Rolls

(18 Rolls)

Mix flour, yeast and sugar in mixing bowl with dough hook in place.
1 cup spelt flour
1 tablespoon dry yeast
2 teaspoon sugar

Add warmed milk.  Beat at medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl down.
1 cup skim milk, heated to 120 F.

Add flour, egg, oil and salt.  Beat at medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl down.
1/2 cup spelt flour
1 egg, soaked in warm water for 5 minutes
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Slowly add flour, 1/2 cup at a time.  Knead on low speed for 8-10 minutes, until dough leaves the side of the bowl.  
2 cups spelt flour
Remove dough from mixing bowl.  Place in another bowl greased with olive oil spray.  Cover and let rise 1 hour.

Apple Apricot Filling
Heat sugar and water in saucepan over medium heat for 10 minutes.  Add apples and apricots.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.  Remove from heat.
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoon water
2 pounds apples, peeled and diced
1/3 cup diced dried apricots

Punch dough down.  Divide into 16 pieces.  Form piece into a ball.
On floured surface,  pat dough into flat round.  Make flour evenly spaced slits to within 1 inch of center.  

Place heaping tablespoon full apple filling in center of dough.

Roll 1 petal toward filling overlapping slightly.

Continue rolling other petals toward center, overlapping each and pinching dough to seal.

Place on parchment lined baking sheet.  Brush with egg, mixed with milk.  Sprinkle with fresh grated nutmeg.  Cover and let rise about 30 minutes.  Bake at 350 F. for 25 minutes.

1 egg
1 teaspoon evaporated skim milk
Nutmeg, grated fresh

Friday, April 13, 2018

Season Opener with Chocolate "Daffodils"

Spring weather, dining with a loved one and exercise is a winning prescription for wellness.  While the West Virginia weather has been slow to warm, today was a perfect day to journey to Oglebay Park in Wheeling, West Virginia to view the spring gardens, wildlife and picnic.  Oglebay is just 1 1/2 hours from home, so I packed in ice blocks our cold meal featuring blackened flounder, summer succotash and chocolate-coconut pies.

The summer succotash recipe is from Sharon Palmer's Plant-Powered for Life cookbook. I baked the flounder yesterday with this seasoning:

Blackened Seafood Seasoning

(Serves 2)

1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the tiny pies, I combined several recipes and lowered the added sugar in all to get a satisfying and simply yummy treat.  I loved these tiny dishes I found at a local Michael's craft store.

Chocolate Daffodil Pies in Coconut Nests

(Serves 6)

Process crackers, coconut and buttery spread in a mini food processor.  Press crumb mixture into mini baking dishes.  Bake at 350 F. for 5 minutes.
6 graham cracker squares
6 tablespoons unsweetened coconut
3 tablespoons vegan buttery spread

In the bottom of each pie shell, place 7 grams baking chips.  (7 or 8).  Place back in oven for about 30 seconds to melt.  Spread chocolate across bottom of shell.
45 grams 60% cacao baking chips

In small saucepan, combine sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, coffee and salt.  Whisk in milk.
2 tablespoon 2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon 2 1/4 teaspoon cocoa (not the Dutch process kind)
1 tablespoon 1 teaspoon cornstarch (GMO free)
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
Dash Salt
2/3 cup skim milk

Over medium heat, whisk in egg yolk and rest of milk.  Bring to a boil, stirring continually for 1 minute.
1 egg yolk 
1 1/2 tablespoon skim milk

Remove from heat.  Stir in buttery spread and vanilla.  Pour into pie crusts. Refrigerate overnight.
1 tablespoon 1 teaspoon vegan buttery spread
1/3 teaspoon vanilla

Garnish with 1 tablespoon each Mascarpone Frosting.

The tulips were not yet blooming at Oglebay, but the daffodils were.  The deer are shedding the winter hair.  What a great way to spend quality time with my spouse!