Friday, May 22, 2020

Cherry Turtle Bean Brownies

When I first saw a recipe for bean brownies I remember thinking that was a heck of a lot of work to cook and puree beans in baked foods. Yes-it would have been much easier to use canned beans. Yet my cabinets are full of dry beans and grains-and these black beans are locally grown. My friend Julie Mallow of the Vegetable Garden & Davis Brothers in Masontown, West Virginia grows and harvests these tiny black beans. Black beans are full of fiber and minerals and help to keep one full, so what can be better than adding these to brownies? 

This recipe is based on one from Kat Detter.  The sweet cherries were on sale at the grocery store this week-and what goes better with chocolate than cherries?  

Cherry Turtle Bean Brownies

(8 or 12 Servings)

Cook beans in a counter top pressure cooker for 30 minutes.  Allow to naturally release.  Drain beans.
1/2 cup dry beans
2 cups water

Add beans to a food processor.  Add oats, applesauce, dates, eggs, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt and chocolate. Puree until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
10 pitted dates
2 eggs
1/4 cup 100% cacao cocoa (not the Dutch processed kind)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup 48% cacao chocolate, ground
Spread mixture into bottom of a 7-inch springtime pan, greased with olive oil spray. Cover bottom of pan with aluminum foil.

Spread chopped cherries over top of batter.
1/2 cup pitted fresh cherries, chopped fine

Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes.

Cool on wire rack.  

1 wedge, cut in 8 servings has approximately 150 calories, 6 grams of fiber and 7 grams of added sugar.  I enjoyed my first piece for breakfast with a glass of milk!



Sunday, May 17, 2020

Leftover Soups Make a Perfect Picnic Meal

Savor homemade soups any season of the year. The leftovers are perfect for a quick picnic meal. This soup made yesterday develops full flavors overnight as it blends and mellows in the refrigerator.
Follow these steps to transport a soup meant to be served hot:

  • Heat water to boiling on stove top or microwave. Fill the thermos with water and close lid.
  • Heat the leftover soup on stove top. This one is not a cream based soup, so I heated it to boiling. (Cream based soups can curdle when too hot.)
  • Empty the thermos of boiling water.
  • Fill with hot soup.
This soup will remain hot for about 2 hours. 

Field Pea & Squash Soup

(Serves 5)

Turn on programmable pressure cooker and set to brown or saute. Add oil and allow to heat 3 minutes. Add onion and garlic and heat for 3 minutes. 
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minces
1 tablespoon olive oil

Stir in seasonings.
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon coriander
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon fresh, grated ginger

Add water, pulses, squash, apples and cinnamon stick.
6 cups water
1 cup dried pulses (mine has yellow split peas, red field peas and green lentils)
2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 cup apples, peeled and cubed
1 cinnamon stick
Tighten lid of pot and close the pressure valve. Cook at medium pressure for 30 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally, about 15 minutes. Switch pressure valve to open. When the steam is completely released, remove the lid.

Stir in tomatoes, juice and soy sauce.
3/4 cup diced fresh tomatoes
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Blend ingredients in high speed blender until smooth, taking care to cover lid with a dry cloth to prevent burning.

This soup is full of protein from the pulses and complemented with even more vitamins in the vegetables and fruit.

To round out the meal, serve with a good bread.  This bread is made with my sourdough starter discard.

Sourdough Whole Wheat & Paprika Buns

(Serves 8)

 In bowl of electric mixer with dough hook in place, add 1 cup flour, yeast, sugar and sourdough starter.  Slowly add warm water to bowl.  Beat at medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl down.
1/2 cup sourdough starter
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
5 ounces water, heated to 125 F

Add egg, oil, salt and 1/2 cup flour to bowl. Beat at medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl down.
1 egg
3 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour

Turn speed to low and add remaining flour over the next 5-7 minutes. Scrape bowl down and knead until dough ball leaves the side of the bowl.
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Place dough into a covered dish greased with olive oil spray. Allow to rise until double, about 1 hour.

On a floured surface, roll dough into a rectangle, about 10 X 7 inches long. Brush with melted butter mixed with paprika. 
1 tablespoon melted buttery spread
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Beginning at long end, roll dough into a log. Cut into 8 pieces. Arrange buns into a 8 or 9 inch cake pan, greased with olive oil spray. Brush top of dough with remaining paprika seasoned butter. Allow to rise about 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes.

While this pre-Memorial Day picnic turned into a hot 80 degree day, the picnic under the trees kept us cool enough to enjoy the meal and surroundings.


Saturday, May 9, 2020

Gingerly with Sugar-Generous with Goodness

The hummingbirds are back and my household sugar usage increases six fold. Unlike the hummingbirds, I don't need added sugar. My homemade muesli I ate for breakfast has some (in the form of honey). That glass of wine I may enjoy on a weekend has some added sugar. The bread I make requires sugar to feed the yeast. So the sweet desserts I make are infrequent and small.

In the Healthy Cafe I once managed, all of our desserts had less than 12 grams of added sugar. That goal corresponded to the American Heart Association guidelines that recommend no more than 25 grams daily of added sugar for women and children and no more than 36 grams for men.

One teaspoon of sugar (white, brown or powdered) has 4 grams of sugar. The same goes for any form of sugar such as in syrups (honey, agave nectar or molasses). In dessert recipes, the grams of added sugar in one portion can exceed the daily recommended amount.

So where do I begin? First I scale down the recipe to make fewer portions in a smaller pan. We're two senior citizens who can't eat a whole cake. I make one layer cakes instead of two and allow for smaller portions. Then I reduce the sugar amount listed in the recipe. In many recipes (depending on the source) sugar can be reduced by one third. 

Vanilla, cinnamon and dried fruit adds sweetness to recipes. This recipe has all of those and is a good source of fiber which allows the sugar to be absorbed much slower.

Carrot Cake with Mascarpone Icing

(Serves 5)

Beat sugar and egg in bowl of electric mixer.
3 tablespoon sugar
1 egg

In a separate bowl, mix together applesauce, oil, vanilla and raisins. 
3 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
4 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup raisins, chopped

In another bowl, mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoon whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
Add carrots and walnuts to dry flour mix.
3 1/3 cup carrots, grated by hand
1/3 cup walnuts, ground

To mixing bowl, alternately add flour mix to oil mix, beginning and ending with flour mix. Stir only until combined.

Scrape batter into a 7 inch pan greased with olive oil spray. Bake in 375 degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F and bake 20-25 minutes more, until pick inserted into center comes our clean. May need to cover the last 5 minutes of baking.

Allow to cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes.  

Whip together mascarpone with powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and salt.
Frost top of cake.  Sprinkle with grated ginger.  Mascarpone cheese requires refrigeration. I refrigerated the frosting and iced each portion of cake when eating.
5 ounce mascarpone
2 tablespoon confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon evaporated skim milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Dash salt
2 teaspoon ginger, grated

1 serving of cake has 12 grams of added sugar and 4 grams of fiber. Sugar adds tenderness to a cake. Recommended baking ratios allow 1/2 cup sugar per 1 cup flour. That ratio is met in this recipe.

As a bonus, here is a recipe for hummingbird food: 

Hummingbird Food

(Fills 2 feeders)

In a large saucepan, stir sugar into water.
1 quart water
1 cup sugar
Bring to a boil for 2 minutes.

it is not necessary to add red food coloring- just place food in a red feeder.  
Empty any old food, rinse and fill feeders. Refrigerate any leftovers. 
Replace mixture once a week.


Friday, May 1, 2020

In Defense of Pride in Work and Innovation

While my heart goes out to community members unable to work during the health crisis, my mood is lifted when I learn of citizens who use their creativity to make products to combat the void.

During the last 5 weeks during the school shut down, my spouse and I packed and delivered school child meal kits. (We are retired and our income is steady)  I witnessed the worry in the young dad and mom faces in the meal kit pick up lines.

In my working career as a food service manager for a major hospital, I hired many people.  The length of service for the 25 staff members in our kitchen exceeded 500 (combined) years. Some staff transferred to other departments in the hospital where they too could achieve.

Taking pride in work creates happiness, contentment, gratitude and a passion for life.

Packing the "meal kits" for school meal delivery, it's apparent that most of the food is processed convenience foods. Pop Tarts, Hot Pockets, "Crustable" Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches  and Corn "Dogs" (sausage filled pancakes) are weekly features. Nothing is homemade.  What a shame, the school cooks missed their chance to shine.

Innovation in meal service allows cooks to use their creativity to make better products. Doing it better is important in the bigger picture. The food is healthier, the presentation improves and the reputation increases. Staff is more engaged in the workplace. 

Here's the catch: it has to be their idea! Back to work in the fall is a good time to make improvements everyday.

Here's my contribution for a meal that could be prepared and frozen individually in packaged containers for a backpack meal or health crisis such as this. The meal could be adjusted to fill 3 components of the child nutrition meal plan.

Beef Enchiladas with Homemade Sauce

(4 enchiladas)

Enchilada Sauce
Heat tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin and oregano in saucepan.
1 tablespoon & 1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup tomato sauce, no added salt

Whisk flour into stock.  Add to tomato sauce and heat, stirring, until thick.
1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock 
1 tablespoon flour

Beef-Vegetable Filling
Saute onion and garlic in olive oil for 3 minutes.
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed

Brown and crumble beef in onion-garlic mix.
6 ounce lean ground beef

Stir in spinach leaves and wilt.  Add corn.
1 cup fresh spinach leaves, stemmed removed
1/2 cup corn

Enchilada Assembly
Grease 8 X 5 inch baking dish with an olive oil spray.
Place 1/2 cup sauce in bottom. 
Fill tortillas with beef-vegetable mix.
4 corn tortillas
Lay enchiladas on sauce.
Top with remaining sauce. 
Sprinkle with cheese.
2 ounce reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded

Bake at 375 F. for 15-20 minutes.


Monday, April 27, 2020

Flavor Matching Cardamom

When I worked in retail food service, cardamom wasn't a spice carried by our primary vendor. I had to buy it at the grocery store and was surprised that the price was more than most other spices. I learned that a little can go a long way.

Cardamom is widely used in Scandinavian and Indian Cooking. It can be purchased in the pod or ground seed form.  Once ground, the seeds loose their essential oils and full flavor. The warm and sweet flavor pairs with desserts, rice and seafood. My meal tonight features two recipes with cardamom.

Steelhead Trout with Cardamom Drizzle

(Serves 3-4)

Place trout on a baking dish greased with olive oil spray.
12 ounce steelhead trout
Mix the liquids and cardamom. Pour over seafood. Bake at 350 F. for 20 minutes. 
2 tablespoon coffee
2 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

For this recipe, I used the pod form of the spice. I broke the pod, peeling it from the seeds and ground the seeds in my seed grinder. There are about 15 seeds in every pod.

Hot Cross Buns

(20 Servings)

Raisin, date and spice mixture
Grind raisins and dates in mini food processor. Soak in hot water and rum for 20 minutes.
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dates
1/4 cup hot water
2 tablespoon rum
Drain raisins and dates. Mix in orange zest, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.  Set aside.
2 teaspoon orange zest
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
Combine whole wheat flour, dry yeast (active dry or bread machine) and sugar in bowl of electric mixer with dough hook in place.

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon yeast

2 teaspoon sugar

Slowly add warm milk to the bowl and beat for 2 minutes on medium speed.

1 cup skim milk, heated to 125F.

Add  raisin, date and spice mixture, flour, oil, egg and salt to bowl.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl down.

Dried fruit and spice mixture 
½ cup whole wheat flour

½ cup olive oil

1 egg (warmed to room temperature)

1 teaspoon salt

Gradually add additional flour to the mix, beating on low speed after each addition until the dough forms a ball and leaves the side of the mixer.  Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula throughout the process to combine the flour.

1 cup whole wheat flour

Mist a large bowl (twice the size of the dough ball) with an olive oil spray.  Turn the dough ball so that all sides are greased.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Grease a 13 X 9 inch baking dish with olive oil spray. Punch dough down. Using a 2 tablespoon scoop, portion dough balls and place in pan, 4 wide X 5 deep. Cover and let rise until double.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Mix egg and water. Brush tops of rolls with egg wash using pastry brush.
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon water
Bake 20 minutes.

Cool on wire rack.

Mix sugar, vanilla and juice.  Pipe icing cross on each roll.
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 teaspoon orange juice

The above meal was served with corn pudding.





Tuesday, April 21, 2020

A Salute to Local Farmers on Earth Day

I have never seen people work harder in my life than the farmers. A small family with big hearts, dreams and the strongest of work ethics reach an even bigger community through the animals they raise and the foods that they sell. In many ways, it can be said that the farmers help others to enjoy the fruits of their labor.  

Customers seem happy and support wellness in the community.  The farmers can feel a great sense of accomplishment when folks line up for their home grown products. That's easy to see viewing the line of cars lined up for weekly curb side pickup during the COVID-19 closings. 

I'm already a believer in local foods, the freshness of the products and safety in knowing the grower.  "Real food is food we trust to nourish our bodies our farmers and our planet."  This was the theme of Kimbal Musk's keynote address at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo 2017.  In many communities, the local farmers market is the place to find real food. Farmers markets may be the best venue to unite folks wanting fresh, local, whole foods to nurture their families. 

What I value most from the Farmers Market are the friends I have made.  Everyone smiles, thanks you and remembers your name.  I'm lucky to have connected with individuals that I can talk, (even if it's electronic), learn and shop.

I'm so encouraged by the sustainable meat and array of vegetables that our local farmers grown and sell.  I applaud the few local farmers who are expanding their fields to include whole grains.

So on this Earth Day 2020, here are tips for merging health, agriculture and wellness.
  • Act locally.  As much as possible, buy sustainable meat, produce and whole grains grown or purchased locally.
  • Prepare healthy foods at home. Choose recipes based on the season with ingredients that use whole foods.
  • Emphasize nutrient rich foods.   "The food we feed America should make people healthy."  Choose recipes rich in nutrients for the number of calories contained. 
  • Feature animal protein. "Animal agriculture is part of a sustainable diet." Locally raised animals are treated with tender loving care by our farm family friends.
  • Minimize food waste.   43% of Americas food waste is in the home. Utilize leftovers when planning meals.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Chicken Tortilla Casserole-Good Today or Make Ahead

Tonight this recipe was enjoyed fresh out of the oven by two senior citizens. Before retiring, we served this in the health sciences cafeteria I managed. In the past month, my husband and I helped pack and deliver meal kits for the couple thousand school students not in school due to the COVID-19 virus. Due to the circumstances, the kits are full of ultra-processed packaged and frozen foods. While the families are so appreciative. . . they would have been just as appreciative of a made-from scratch healthy meal.  This one should fit the bill.

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

(Serves 3)

Bake chicken in a 325F oven for 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165F. Dice.
9 ounce chicken breast, boneless, skinless

On stove-top, heat tomatoes, spices, peppers and onion.
2/3 cup canned diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon cumin
2/3 teaspoon chili powder
Dash oregano
1/3 cup sweet peppers, diced
2 tablespoon onion, diced

Add corn and cooked diced chicken breast to pot.
1/2 cup corn
Cooked, diced chicken breast

Mix cornstarch into milk. Add milk to pot.  Heat over medium low heat until mixture begins to thicken, about 15 minutes.
2/3 teaspoon cornstarch, non GMO
1/2 cup skim milk

Cut each tortilla into quarters.  Arrange 1/2 of tortillas in bottom of baking dish, greased with olive oil spray
3 corn tortillas
Add 1/2 of vegetable-chicken mix.
Top with 1/2 of cheese.
3/4 cup shredded cheese

Repeat layers.

Bake in 325 F for 1/2 hour.

Each serving contains 1/2 cup vegetables, 3 ounce meat, and 1 whole grain bread equivalent.

When we prepared this in the cafeteria we arranged 12 servings in a half size steam table pan and cut 3 X 4 to serve.