Sunday, May 21, 2017

Rainy Day Picnic at Ryerson Station

We enjoyed our Sunday afternoon picnic under a shelter, surrounded by sounds of a variety of birds and light rain.  Our menu today featured:

Pork Tenderloin with Spring Onion Sauce
Creamy Coleslaw
Cinnamon Apples
Chocolate Strawberry Cobbler

I've made the cobbler before.  Interesting that the juice from the berries combines with the dry cocoa to make a delightful sauce like chocolate syrup with less sugar! Since the onion sauce has a slight amount of sugar and the slaw as well, I eliminated any sugar in the apples and simply sauteed 2 apples in 2 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread with cinnamon and nutmeg.


Pork Tenderloin with Spring Onion Sauce

(Serves 4-6)

Press minced garlic into top of pork tenderloin.  Place in instant pot.  Surround with wine, juice, seasonings and vinegar.  Lock lid in place.  Place timer on 45 minutes.
1 (1 pound) pork tenderloin
6 cloves garlic, minced
1-6 ounce bottle White Zinfandel
1-6 ounce bottle apple juice
1 bay leaf
3/4 teaspoon low sodium beef base
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Slice thinly and store in refrigerator in cooking liquid.

Bring broth and onions to a simmer on stove top.  Cook until most of broth is evaporated.  Stir in vinegar and jelly.  Serve on top sliced pork loin.
1 bunch spring onions, diced (include green)
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 packet apple jelly
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Our picnic today was at Ryerson Station (Pa.) State Park near Wind Ridge.  There are hiking trails, fishing, camping and a beautiful (free) swimming pool.



Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mingo Mimosa

A perfect picnic day and Mothers Day calls for a toast!  I was happy to find Champagne in 6 ounce bottles-just the right amount to add to a 4 ounce orange juice to fill 2 champagne glasses.  

Our picnic today featured Shrimp-Rice Noodle Salad and Buckwheat Strawberry Shortcakes.  The mason jar salad, inspired by Rachael Ray , was layered in a pint size mason jar with the dressing on the bottom.  When shaken and poured onto the plate, the luncheon was ready to eat.

I layered each jar as follows:
  • Fresh parsley and mint leaves
  • Dressing
  • Sauteed shrimp in minced garlic and sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground roasted walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoon grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice noodles
  • 2 tablespoon diced grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red lettuce, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon grated radishes
Here is the dressing for 2 I put together:
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 teaspoon mirin
2 tablespoon soy sauce, reduced sodium
Juice from 2 limes
4 teaspoon rice vinegar 

The buckwheat shortcakes were inspired by Eating Well.  Mine are layered with fresh strawberries and a yogurt blend of strawberries, nonfat plain yogurt and 1 tablespoon brown rice syrup (makes 2 servings).  The picnic was at Mingo Creek Park, a Washington County Pa. park.

My serviceware today featured a serving tray my husband gave me for Mothers Day and champagne glasses from our WV Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Gala held earlier in the week.  Here's the the toast at the gala where we enjoyed Chocolate MOOtinis!


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Pesto & Puddles

The opening day of our local farmers market wasn't dampened by the cold and rainy weather.  Our farm fresh sampling of Spinach Pesto with Hard Cooked Eggs was a good one, with over 200 customers enjoying an egg half with the delicious pesto in just 2 1/2 hours.  Customers are already sold on the eggs from the free range cage free chickens from Working H Farms and we topped the egg half with fresh spinach and garlic pesto and aged cheese from the other farms. Here is the recipe:

Spinach Pesto

(2 cups)

Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil.  
Add spinach, basil and parsley.  Cook for 20 seconds.
Remove green mixture to a bowl filled with ice water.  Let stand
for 30 seconds.  Drain and pat dry with clean towels.
5 cups fresh spinach leaves, stems removed
2 1/2 cups fresh basil, stems removed
2/3 cup parsley leaves

Add spinach mixture, tomatoes, garlic, walnuts, lemon juice,
black pepper, cheese and olive oil to food processor.  
Process until finely chopped.
14 tablespoon grape tomatoes, diced
2 large cloves garlic
1 cup toasted walnuts
3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup Parmigiano cheese, shredded
1/4 cup olive oil

Our water today had blended fresh blueberries and watermelon, garnished with slices of oranges.  I don't usually have time to prepare the water in advance.  For this one I did, blending and straining the blueberries, then blending the watermelon to mix with the water overnight.  

 This is the first of seven Saturdays we'll be at the market with Farm Fresh Sampling.  ("sharing unique ways to combine healthy seasonal ingredients in foods made at home").

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Cast Iron Cookbook (Review) Does It All

It wasn't hard to pick out recipes from every chapter of Dutch Oven and Cast Iron Cooking to make at home.  I did that and tried 8 recipes in just over a week.  Since I'm cooking for two (petite) senior citizens, I made smaller batches of each recipe and cooked in 8 inch and individual cast iron skillets.  I was impressed that the whole recipe was cooked in the same skillet. Sauteing and baking, while in steps, all cooked from start to finish in the one pan! 

I liked the format of each recipe.  Ingredients, preparations, then cooking.  The cookbook featured both stove and grilling techniques.  Pictured above is the Apple Cranberry Puffed Pancake.  (I used dried cherries in place of cranberries)

Some recipes with accompanying picture gave me ideas for combining my own recipes to create a similar product.  Here's my version of the Pesto Rolls:

Fireside Lasagna was delicious.  When I discovered I was out of lasagna noodles, I used broken spaghetti-it worked just fine!  When cut, the layer of ricotta cheese and eggs creates delightful visual appeal.
Since I want to have handy this recipe for "Swiss" Crabmeat Bake, I'm including the specific measures I used at home for this simply delicious entree.

Crabmeat Bake

(Serves 4)

Combine flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl.  Stir in cheddar cheese.  Cut in buttery spread until mixture is crumbly.
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used aged white cheddar)
1 tablespoon 1 teaspoon buttery spread

In 8 inch skillet, saute onion and pepper in buttery spread until tender.  
1 tablespoon buttery spread
1 mini sweet pepper, diced
2 tablespoon onion, diced

Gradually blend in flour, dry mustard, milk and Parmigiano cheese.  Cook until cheese melts, stirring constantly.  
1 3/4 tablespoon whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used shredded Parmigiano)

Add crab and tomatoes.  Stir until mixture is hot.
8 ounce wild crabmeat
1/3 cup diced grape tomatoes
To reserved dough mixture, add remaining milk.  Stir until dough is formed.  Drop by spoonfuls over hot crab mixture, like a cobbler topping.
1/4 cup skim milk

Place skillet in a 400 F. oven and bake for 25 minutes.

I made the cheesy puffed potatoes (like Duchess potatoes) and Glazed Vegetables. Both were delicious.

Here is the Hot Fudge Cake-a very simple recipe!

The Berry Crumble was so good.  I used a mix of fresh strawberries and blackberries in ours.
Yes- we did add vanilla ice cream for dessert.  This morning, I mixed crumble with plain yogurt for a high quality protein breakfast.

Berry Crumble 

(Serves 8)

Mix oats, flour, nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Cut in buttery spread.
1 1/2 cups oats
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 tablespoon brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cub buttery spread

Mix berries, sugar and cornstarch together and place in bottom of 8 inch skillet.
3 cups mixed berries
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon flour or non GMO cornstarch

Top berries with crumble mix.
Bake at 400 F. for 30 minutes.

As in any recipe that I make, I try to use whole grains, less added sugar, skim milk and a good fat.  (I used Earth Balance Buttery Spread in the recipes made here)  Most everything I make is the scratch version, though the cookbook gives the option of some purchased products as well.

I also enjoyed the comparison chart for enamel and "bare" iron skillets.  After reviewing the book, I can say that I will be using my cast iron skillets more often.

  Thanks Fox Chapel Publishing for the review copy!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Lunch on the Rocks

Our picnic today was at Valley Falls (WV) State Park, where the large rocks near the falls provide up close viewing.  After the spring rains, the water was high and rushing and the kayaks were not to be seen.  

Our picnic today featured a scallop, olive and vegetable salad-based on a recipe in Food Network Magazine.  The recipe in the magazine was for a ceviche-featuring raw scallops.  Mine and most of the vegetables were sauteed prior to chilling. That's broccoli sprouts from our local farmers market on the side and a chocolate nutty cake with ricotta and strawberries for dessert.

Scallop, Olive and Vegetable Chutney

(Serves 2)

Saute vegetables in olive oil over medium high heat, until soft, about 5 minutes.
2 tablespoon onion, diced
2 tablespoon fennel, diced
2 tablespoon celery with leaves, diced
2 tablespoon yellow sweet pepper, diced
1 green garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon olive oil
Add scallops.  Saute 2 minutes on each side.  Sprinkle with pepper.
2 ounce bay scallops, cut in half lengthwise
Fresh ground pepper

Remove from heat.  Add juice, sugar, olives, tomatoes and parsley.
1/2 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoon green olives, diced
1/4 cup grape tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoon fresh parsley, snipped

Refrigerate overnight.  Keep cold for transport and service.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Presto Pesto

Pesto rolls, pork tenderloin, and a "forbidden" salad comprised our picnic meal today.  The salad was an assortment of black rice, cherries, white bean, orange and pistachio salad.  I combined ingredients from two recipes and added a little balsamic dressing to the rice.  Everything was good!  The recipe I wanted to share is the pesto mix for the bread roll.  I made the spelt dough, then rolled it into a rectangle, spread with pesto, brushed with 4 ounce tomato sauce and sprinkled with 1/2 cup Parmigiano cheese prior to rolling, cutting and rising the third time.

Here is the pesto recipe (needed 1 cup for 20 pesto rolls):

Spinach Pesto

(2 cups)

Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil.  
Add spinach, basil and parsley.  Cook for 20 seconds.
Remove green mixture to a bowl filled with ice water.  Let stand
for 30 seconds.  Drain and pat dry with clean towels.
5 cups fresh spinach leaves, stems removed
2 1/2 cups fresh basil, stems removed
2/3 cup parsley leaves

Add spinach mixture, tomatoes, garlic, walnuts, lemon juice,
black pepper, cheese and olive oil to food processor.  
Process until finely chopped.
14 tablespoon grape tomatoes, diced
2 large cloves garlic
1 cup toasted walnuts
3 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup Parmigiano cheese, shredded
1/4 cup olive oil

Spread dough into a rectangle, approximately 9 X 14.  Pat pesto mix on top of dough to within 1/2 inch edge of rectangle.  Brush with 4 ounce marinara sauce.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmigiano cheese.  Roll dough.  Cut in 1 inch pieces.  Place dough cut side up in pans greased with olive oil spray.  Let rise 40 minutes.

Bake at 350 F. for 40 minutes.

Our picnic today was at Oglebay Park in Wheeling, West Virginia.  The tulip beds were a little past peak, but pretty just the same.




Friday, April 21, 2017

Sharing Talents at the Farmers Market

The summer farmers market is a place where many community members gather.  RDNs can promote health and wellness by providing farm fresh sampling at the market.

First open your toolbox of ideas for combining healthy seasonal ingredients in meals served at home.  Ask your school or place of employment if you can prepare food samples in the food service kitchen and utilize their commercial equipment.  Contact the health department and market manager to inquire about a temporary permit.  Space and temporary permits may be available at a minimal or no cost to a non profit.  Find local sources for foods.

Suggestions for sampling:
  • Fresh fruit smoothies made in a commercial smoothie maker.
  • Fruit crumble served in covered and labelled souffle cups.
  • Glazed peaches or applesauce warmed on a griddle.
  • Meatballs, autumn vegetable soup, chili con carne or sundried tomato hummus served from a commercial soup crock. 
The benefits are many.  RDNs at the farmers market promote:
  • Improving the health of the people of the state.
  • Advancing the education of the community.
  • Empowering members to be food and nutrition leaders.
  • Supports the farmer.
  • Increases the farmers sales.
  • Builds positive relationships with community members.
  • Learning and enjoyment for the RDN.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Time Honored Tradition of Pasta Making

You're never to old to learn, right?  This year I've tackled dumplings, won-tons, lasagna and noodles from scratch.  It's been fun-and very tasty.  This month's Rachael Ray Everyday Magazine has a page devoted to steps in pasta making, which was very helpful.

I made 2 meals with the noodles I prepared.  The first is a mushroom soup bowl topped with a poached egg.  I sauteed an assortment of vegetables, carrots, sweet peppers, fennel, celery, onion, garlic and mushrooms in sesame oil, then added a vegetable broth and a tablespoon of Mirin.  The noodles were added the last 3 minutes of cooking.

Tonight's dinner was a pesto shrimp and vegetables with homemade noodles.  That recipe is from Cooking Light.  I made extra pesto to eat with hard cooked eggs.

Homemade Noodles

4 Servings

1 cup semolina flour
Pinch of salt
2 eggs

1/4 cup water  
Flour for kneading and rolling.

Mound the flour on a floured surface. Sprinkle with salt.  Make a well in the center of the flour.  Add eggs.  Whisk eggs slightly, then mix by hand with the flour until a ball is formed.  Add water as needed to keep dough from drying.  Form dough into a ball and knead for 8 minutes.  Cover and let rest 30 minutes.

Divide dough in half.  Shape into an oval.  Starting with the widest setting on the pasta maker, run the dough through the maker.  Then set the machine to the next setting and run through again and again until reaching the narrowest setting.  Cut the dough in 12 inch noodles, about 3/4 inch wide.  Transfer to small piles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Let rest covered for 30 minutes.

Cook in boiling water 2-3 minutes.



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Sunshine Noodles

Whole grains, dried fruit, nuts and low fat dairy made for a delicious breakfast as well as a dinner dessert.  The recipe for Noodle Rice is from Food and Wine Magazine.  My method and amounts were modified.  I cooked a little extra noodles earlier in the week, which were ready to mix with the other ingredients when I needed them.

Whole Grain Noodles & Red Rice

(Serves 5)

3/4 cup cooked whole wheat egg noodles

Cook rice in stove top pressure cooker for 45 minutes.  
1/4 cup red rice
2 cups water

Soak saffron in 2 ounce drained rice water.
Pinch of saffron 

Drain remaining rice.

On stove top, melt buttery spread in a small saucepan.  Stir in dates, raisins and orange juice.  Simmer until thick, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat. 
1 tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery Spread
2 ounce dates, diced
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon orange juice

Mix noodles, rice, date mix and pistachios.
2 tablespoon ground pistachios

Place 1/2 of noodle-rice mix in a 3 cup baking dish greased with olive oil spray.
Sprinkle with 1/2 of coriander and cardamom.  Place remaining noodle-rice mix in dish and sprinkle with remaining coriander and cardamom.  Pour saffron water over top.
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/8 teaspoon cardamom 
Bake at 350 F. for 30 minutes.

Garnish with rose petals.

For dinner, we enjoyed this dish as dessert with a little ice cream.  For breakfast, I enjoyed this with part skim ricotta cheese and a glass of skim milk.

We enjoyed another dish from Food and Wine Magazine for dinner as well-Red Wine BBQ Chicken.  Also on the platter were fresh green beans and twice baked red potatoes. I cut up chicken thighs for the entree.

I welcome the spring weather and love working outside in the morning then preparing a delicious dinner in the afternoon.  We'll have to make these again!



Sunday, April 9, 2017

Park 'n Pasta

Our spring picnic menu features a pesto pasta dish, asparagus and olive oil cake with strawberries and ricotta.  The pasta dish is based on a recipe from Rachael Ray.  I added my homemade marinara to keep it hot in the thermos for transport.  It was a delightful meal.

Pesto Pasta with Sausage & Marinara

(Serves 2)

Pulse nuts, greens, cheese, garlic, oil and lemon juice in a mini food processor. 
2 tablespoon shelled pistachios
3/4 cup cut greens (I used local bok choy and cilantro)
1/4 cup Parmigiano cheese, grated
1 large garlic clove
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced

In a non stick skillet sprayed with olive oil spray, brown and crumble sauce with pepper and onion.  Drain well on paper towels.
4 ounce sweet Italian sausage
1 mini sweet pepper
2 tablespoon onion, diced

Cook noodles in boiling water for 12 minutes.  Drain (reserving liquid).  Mix liquid with 1 low sodium bouillon cube (gluten and GMO free). 
4 ounce whole wheat egg noodles
1 cup low sodium chicken stock

Stir pesto and sausage mix into noodles.  Add chicken stock and cool in refrigerator overnight.

1/2 hour prior to leaving for picnic, fill thermos with boiling water to preheat.  Empty pasta mix into a stove top pan.  Add marinara.  Heat to 165 F.  Empty water in thermos.  Fill with pasta.  Tighten lid to transport.
8 ounce no added salt marinara

The olive oil cake recipe I used was from Parade Magazine.  I used fresh ground whole wheat flour and only 1/4 cup sugar.   The strawberries were diced small and 1/2 of the mix pureed with 1 pack of strawberry jam.  I added a teaspoon of sugar to the part skim ricotta cheese.  We kept the cheese cold in an insulated container with ice packs and assembled the dessert at tableside.

Our picnic today was at Tygart Lake West Virginia State Park.  The water was high next to the dam.

The docks are not yet in the water, but in a few weeks, there will be many boats and fisherman.  This is one of a few historic spots in Grafton, West Virginia.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Life Long Learners Sample Whole Grains

The participants in the life long learning class at West Virginia University know how to cook, yet love to sample new things. On this Whole Grains Sampling Day, we sampled grains A-W with the purpose of finding a new grain to enjoy.

As the instructor for this class, I was one who learned many things about grains-where they're grown, where to find them and what to do with them.  On day trips, I stopped at bulk food, gourmet food and farmers markets in hopes of finding another grain.  Recipe sources were endless-on packages, in the current magazines and on the internet.  Seems what's old-as in ancient grains-have become new again.

In the classroom, we previewed whole grains A-W. with a PowerPoint of meals I made at home.  Samples of most of the grains were passed , displaying the grain in it's dry state.  For 6 of the featured grains- I gave everyone a recipe and enough of the dry grain to prepare a recipe at home.  


At break. a whole grain soup, flatbread cracker and dessert were set up in a buffet in the office for participants to try.  For the Butternut Squash, Millet and Teff Soup, I used the recipe on the Whole Grains Council website, Curried Sweet Potato and Millet Soup, and substituted local Butternut Squash for the sweet potatoes.  The recipe for the Double Chocolate Cupcakes was inspired by Forks Over Knives, for which I added a touch of ground black beans to the whole grains in the dry mix.  I love the date, fig and cocoa icing in this recipe.

I'm fairly certain the enthusiastic "students" will not have to wait until next year to sample a whole grain!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Rollin' Ramen

Picnic weather has returned and this spring meal features brisket ramen, using some of the some of the wine-braised brisket and broth I made Thursday.  The recipes are from Rachael Ray's "Shortcut Suppers".  I slow cooked the brisket, then froze 2/3 of it to pull and plug into many more meals to come.  I refrigerated the broth, skimmed the fat, and will freeze some of it as well.

The meal is served with sliced grape tomatoes, Crusty Irish Soda Bread and Apple Pear Pecan Crumble.

Wine Braised Brisket

(Serves 12-15)

Mix wine, stock, paste and thyme in slow cooker.
2 cups dry red wine
2 cups low sodium beef stock
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Heat oil in skillet on stove top.  Add brisket.  Season and brown 6 minutes on each side.
2 teaspoon olive oil
1 (2.7 #) brisket
1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash

Place brisket in slow cooker.  Add vegetables.  Cook on low heat 8 hours.
1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped

On cutting board, divide beef into thirds.  Slice one piece with electric knife across the grain and serve with dinner.  Cool and refrigerate sliced meat and broth.  Cool and freeze pieces of brisket.

Brisket Ramen

(Serves 3)

On stove top, heat stock, soy sauce, pan juice and ginger.
2 cups beef stock, low sodium
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup pan juice, skimmed of fat
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

Add noodles and cook as recommended on package.
2 ounce whole grain noodles

Stir in vegetables and beef.  Heat through out.
1/3 cup butter browned mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup fresh peas, previously cooked
1 cup fresh chopped spinach

1/2 cup wine-braised brisket, chopped  

Place soup in thermos, preheated with steeping boiling water.

Add hard cooked egg at table-side. 
1 hard cooked egg, halved

I love the green eggs I bought this week at my local farm store.

Our picnic today was at Watters Smith State Park near West Milford, WV.  There were lots of hikers and bikers at the park today.