Friday, August 23, 2019

Kitchen Logistics

"Mise en place" is a French culinary term for putting everything in place. This applies to kitchen equipment and ingredients that the well prepared cook needs to prepare a meal or recipe. Even in a small home kitchen, the layout of equipment eases the flow of the meal. Here are some tips and examples.

Arrange equipment storage in a organized fashion around the stove and preparation area. Use available cabinet, counter and wall space for storage.

A magnetic knife wall rack is sanitary and functional.  Multi-size flexible cutting boards store conveniently between the wall and microwave. 

Pots and pans are arranged in a pull-out shelf adjacent to the stove.

Under counter mixing bowls stored near the countertop mixer.

Oil, vinegar and spray in a pantry pull-out by the stove are easily retrieved.

This countertop mug tree is repurposed to hold measuring spoons. These are arranged by same size measure on each hook.

Hooks for measuring cups under above counter cabinets are arranged same size by volume.

This 3 drawer countertop spice organizer is arranged in alphabetical order. 

This step down bar for seating has under cabinet storage.

The pull out shelves for dishes, like the step down bar for seating provide ergonomic comfort.

Personal touches enhance the mood of the family and creativity of the cook. Enjoy your time even more in a organized kitchen. 


Saturday, August 10, 2019

Book Review: The Visual Guide to Easy Meal Prep

For busy people who like to prepare foods for the week on days that aren't as busy, this book has recipes for breakfasts, lunch, dinner and snacks that can be made ahead.  Even for retired seniors, these recipes are ones I too enjoy on other days of the week when time is of essence.  Most of the time I'm preparing meals for two with leftovers. This book gives instructions for reheating.

There is a nice variety of ingredients and recipes made with whole foods. There are many whole grains, seeds and fiber rich foods. The snacks and desserts have only a moderate amount of added sugars. The primary protein food is poultry, with a few beef dishes, canned beans and some processed bacon or turkey kielbasa.

Erin Romeo's book gives some meal-prep plans to get you started including low-carb, vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy free.  From the chapters, I prepared


Healthy Egg Cup

Chocolate Berry Breakfast Quinoa

 Broccoli, Chicken and Cheese-Stuffed Potato
(this recipe called for sweet potato, not currently in season-
so I used white potatoes)

Ginger-Soy Chicken Thighs

Turkey, Greens and Super Grains
I love the use of whole grains spelt and barley in this one!

 Chocolate Quinoa Bar
I did not have a square pan, so used a round spring form pan-yet my serving size is the same. Since I used 100% cacao chocolate, I enjoyed this one with yogurt heated for breakfast. The mix of oats, quinoa and flax made a fine hot cereal type breakfast.

Herb Greek Yogurt Dip
This was a good side with the chicken main.

Thank you Quarto Group 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 an enjoyable read and eating experience!    

Sunday, August 4, 2019

No Fuss Roasted Turkey Tenderloins

Replace the salty deli meat with home roasted turkey tenderloins.  These boneless, skinless white loins from the inside center of the turkey breast roast in less than 60 minutes. They taste just like the large roasted turkeys we eat at the holidays without the fuss.  In comparison to deli meat, there are no fillers and no additives.  Unlike processed deli meat, the turkey tenderloins are not a source of listeria.

Some of the chain grocery store carry packages of raw turkey tenderloins in the fresh meat area near the ground turkey and turkey sausage.  I look for the kind that is unseasoned.  I was very happy when my local farm store owners offered to save the loins for me when they processed their turkeys.

The loins were each perfect sizes for a meal-about 6 ounces of raw meat.  I was especially grateful to my local farm friends for these special cuts of grass fed free range turkey tenderloins.
Roasting Turkey Tenderloins
  • Rinse the raw tenderloin with cold water.  
  • Season with a no salt seasoning blend.  I use a lemon-pepper blend. 
  • Roast in a 325 F. oven until internal temperature reaches 165 F.  Using a thermometer, take the temperature of the loin after 30 minutes of roasting. Repeat every 15 minutes until the temperature reaches 165.
  • Slice thinly. I use an electric knife. 
For the game day platter pictured above, I cooked the tenderloin in the crock pot on low for 1 hour.  The turkey is accompanied with fresh raw vegetables, fresh pineapple and steamed asparagus.  The seeded artisan crackers on the side are whole grain.  

Roasted Turkey Tenderloin meals served hot are comparable to holiday turkey meals without the fuss.  That's Fig Glazed Turkey Tenderloin with Cornbread Stuffing above and Roasted Turkey Tenderloin with Pesto Baked Potato below.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Take Along Mason Jar Salad

Individual salads packed in mason jars are great for summer picnics or a packed lunch.  Start with the dressing in the bottom, then add toppings, vegetables, protein, whole grain, greens and herbs.  The toppings marinate in the dressing, then cover the salad when inverted onto a plate.  No need to toss! 

Our picnic menu today includes a teriyaki noodle salad with a rye crisp berry dessert. 

Teriyaki Noodle Salad

(2 servings-each portioned in a 2 pint jar)

Portion 1 tablespoon each soy sauce and vinegar in each jar.  Add 1 teaspoon each sugar and ginger, then 1/2 teaspoon garlic each and 1/2 onion.
2 tablespoon soy sauce, reduced sodium
2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 green onion, diced

Put 1/4 cup each blanched green beans, carrots and squash in each jar.  Add 1/4 cup each tomatoes and 1/2 sweet pepper.
1/2 cup each assorted blanched vegetables (cut green beans, carrot coins and diced yellow squash)
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
1 mini red sweet pepper, seeded and sliced

In a cast iron skillet, cook steak to medium rare.  Allow to rest 5 minutes on a cutting board.  Slice in bite size pieces and marinate in sesame oil.  Divide among the 2 jars.
1-6 ounce tenderloin fillet, grilled and cut in bite size pieces
2 teaspoon sesame oil

Add 1 teaspoon each ground sesame seeds.  Cook rice noodles according to package directions, separating noodles to keep from sticking. Run cool water over noodles.  Drain and mix with sesame oil.  Divide among the 2 jars.
2 teaspoon ground sesame seeds
2 ounce cooked and cooled brown rice noodles
2 teaspoon sesame oil 

Finish each jar with fresh greens and herbs.  Tighten lid for transport.
1/2 cup fresh spinach, cut in bite size pieces
1/4 cup fresh snipped herbs (basil, oregano, tarragon and parsley) 

To serve, invert jar onto plates.  

We have been picking the black raspberries on our hillside for a month.  They are seedy and a little sour, yet delightful! Much of the fun is in the picking. This one had a whole grain topping with rye flour and oats. The addition of ground toasted sesame seeds is another delightful touch. I made ours in individual au gratin dishes, ready to transport or warm and serve with ice cream.

Black Raspberry Rye Crisp

(10 servings)

In a deep bowl, combine oats, ground seeds, flour, sugar and salt.
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup ground and toasted sesame seeds
1 cup fresh ground rye berries
3 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Grate buttery spread into bowl Mix into topping with hands.
1/2 cup cold buttery spread, grated

In food processor mix berries, sugar, juice and spices.
1 quart black raspberries
3 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch salt

Divide filling among au gratin dishes, greased with olive oil spray. (about 3 tablespoon each) Top each with oat mixture (about 3 tablespoon each). Bake in 375 F oven for 30 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Our picnic today was at Valley Falls, a West Virginia State Park near Fairmont.


Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Perfect Picnic

We picked the perfect spot on a knob in a national forest. Though a 3 hour drive, we were rewarded with the tall spruce and mossy forest floor in what could accurately be described as "God's Country". I always wanted to come back here and asked my husband if he'd want to make the drive. No problem-and he'd fix the foods! The place, the day and the meal was perfect!

From an ice packed insulated bag we filled our plates with:

  • Fruits and vegetables. Cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, grapes and strawberries.
  • Protein and calcium rich aged cheddar cheese slices.
  • Lean protein turkey breast.
  • Whole grain rye crisp crackers.
For a beverage, I had a low sodium V-8, he a cranberry grape juice.  We also had our after meal coffee from a preheated thermos. In the car was plenty of water.

Our picnic today was at Gaudineer Knob on the Randolph-Pocohantas County lines of West Virginia.  Almost Heaven is an accurate description.

There are 4 picnic sites and a 1/2 mile loop with a view from this 4400 feet knob.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Bread Can Be the Highlight of the Menu

Our summer picnics all are fun, meeting the meal criteria for environment, menu and service. The environment-a beautiful state park on a shady table and a summer day is hard to beat. The service-between a loving couple is a bright and cheer setting. The platter, with cold salsas, roasted vegetables and chicken, garnished with aged cheddar cheese was good. The bread was the highlight.

Tomato Baguette with Olives, Pepper & Onions

(2 large baquettes-16 servings)

Saute onions and peppers in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes.
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup yellow onions, diced
1/4 cup sweet red pepper, diced

Add tomato paste, cayenne, olives and tomatoes.  Set aside to cool.
2 tablespoon tomato paste
Dash Cayenne
1/3 cup Kalamata Olives, diced
1/2 cup tomatoes, diced

In bowl of electric mixer with dough hook in place, mix flours, yeast, salt and pepper.
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoon 3/4 teaspoon rapid rise yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Slowly add warm water to bowl.  Beat at medium speed 2 minutes, stirring bowl down.
1 3/4 cup water (125 F)

Add flour and oil.  Beat 2 minutes at medium speed, stirring bowl down mid-way.
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoon olive oil

Add tomato-olive mixture with semolina flour and knead at low speed.  Then slowly add remaining whole wheat flour, kneading at low speed for about 6 minutes until dough leaves sides of the bowl.
Tomato olive mixture
3/4 cup semolina flour
1 cup whole wheat flour 

Turn dough into a bowl greased with olive oil spray.  Turn and cover.  Let rise for about 45 minutes.

Divide dough into half and place each piece in large baguette pan greased with olive oil spread.  Smooth and round edges of dough to within 2 inches from edges.  Bake at 450 F for 25-30 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

The roasted vegetables on the platter were assorted squashes, coated in olive oil and this seasoning:
Za'atar Seasoning
3 Tbsp. Dry Thyme
1 Tbsp. Toasted Sesame Seed
1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
2 Tbsp. Lemon Peel

The small roasted chicken was first spatchcocked (I removed the backbone) and soaked refrigerated in apple juice, peppercorns and thyme before roasting. We made several meals out of the vegetables and chicken. I threw in some cooked black beans, fresh sliced cucumbers and homemade salsa. (tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, green onion and garlic).

Our picnic today was at Cedar Creek, a West Virginia State Park near Glenville.  This was a  2 hour drive, some of it on country roads.

When leaving the park, Bob spotted a blue heron.

It was a great adventure!


Sunday, July 7, 2019

Star Spangled Picnic

The star of our picnic platter was the Crab Potato and Corn Salad. Farmers market red potatoes, jumbo white crab meat and corn formed the base of the salad with celery, red pepper, chives and my homemade bay spice mix providing the seasoning. It was so good and affordable (this recipe has 4 ounces of crab meat for 3 servings).

Crab Potato and Corn Salad

(Serves 3)

Scrub potatoes.  Cut in 1/2 inch cubes.  Cook in boiling water, covered, for 10-12 minutes until tender.
4 medium size red potatoes

Mix drained and cooled potatoes with crab, vegetables and seasoning.  Keep cold for transport.
4 ounces jumbo white crabmeat
1/2 cup corn
1/4 cup celery, diced
1 mini red pepper, diced
2 tablespoon snipped chives
3 tablespoon mayonnaise, made with olive oil
1 teaspoon bay seasoning

Seafood Seasoning 

(Makes 2/3 cup)

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

We stopped at the Bridgeport Farmers Market on our way to Deegan Hinkle Lake where purchased one white cupcake decorated with creamy white icing and a few red, white and blue sprinkles.  We shared this at the end of the meal. That's fresh pineapple tidbits and farmers market golden cherry tomatoes on the side with a whole grain roll.

We had a very nice view of the lake from our table and a path to walk: