Monday, March 30, 2015

Small But Mighty (Lentils: Meatless Monday)

Turmeric, ginger, butternut squash, garbanzos, tomatoes and red lentils produced a fragrant stew that will be even better tomorrow.  The recipe is from Clean Eating.  

Moroccan Red Lentil Stew

(Serves 4)

Saute onion, garlic and carrots in oil.
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 carrots, sliced thin
1 teaspoon olive oil

Add spices.
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon fresh grated turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Saute a few minutes.
Add tomatoes, vegetable broth, squash, lentils and garbanzos.
1 16 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice, not added salt
1 cup red lentils
2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
2 cups water
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and sliced in 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup garbanzo beans (I use the cooked, frozen Hanover brand without sauce)

Simmer until squash and lentils are tender, about 40 minutes.

Add lemon juice and fresh parsley.
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons fresh parsley

I made delicious pecan-rye rolls, but burned the tops in a haste to brown them.  We cut off the bottoms and each ate 3 or 4.  They weren't hard to make, so I'll do those again soon and not burn the tops!

I'm off to West Virginia Academy of Nutrition annual meeting tomorrow.  Looking forward to seeing talented colleagues and friends!  


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Golden Adventure

Chicken Berebere and Hot Honey Pasta with Beets: not sure which I liked more, the food or the leafy placemats!

The recipe for the Ethiopian Chicken Dish was inspired by Food and Nutrition Magazine.  Since I'd already purchased a small amount of the berebere spice mix from the Mountain People's Co-op, I did not make my own doro.  I do think I'd like to purchase a spice mill so I can make my own spice mix with whole spices.

Chicken Berebere

(Serves 4)

Marinate chicken in lime juice.
4 chicken thighs
Juice from 1 lime
Discard juice just prior to cooking chicken. 

Saute onions and garlic in buttery spread.
1/3 cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread
Since I needed these for the side dish too, I removed 1/2 of the sauteed onion-garlic mixture for it.

Add ginger and spice mix.
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon berebere spice mix

Brown chicken things in pan on both sides.  Add a little water and simmer chicken, covered until internal temperature reaches 165 F.

The side dish was inspired by Better Homes and Gardens.

Hot Honey Pasta and Beets

(Serves 4)

Cook beets in water until tender.
4 golden beets, peeled and quartered

Add pasta.
I cooked jumbo shells I had left in a box and sliced them in smaller pieces after cooking.
Cook for 15 more minutes.

Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of liquid.

Return pasta and beets to pan.

Mix honey and lemon juice.
Add honey, lemon juice mixture and reserved liquid to pan. 
Add red peppers.
2 mini sweet peppers, sliced in rings
Sprinkle with dill.
1/2 teaspoon dill

Garnish with toasted walnuts.
2 tablespoons toasted walnuts



Friday, March 27, 2015

Creativity with Leftovers: Tortillas, Greens, Ricotta, Yogurt and Fruits

Couldn't waste those leftover homemade tortillas, so here's a breakfast with an egg in the hole and leftover toppings from Saturday nightFood Network Magazine has a fun issue on eggs this month.  In this one I cut a hole in the center of the tortilla.  Using an individual iron skillet, I heated the tortilla for 1-2 minutes on one side, flipped it, add the egg, cooked an additional 2 minutes, then put the entire skillet in a preheated 375F oven to finish cooking the egg.  I love these egg and iron skillet creations.

Still with more leftovers from our Beef Tortilla dish, I made my Chicken Tortilla Casserole , this one with the leftover beef in place of chicken.  I had to add a few corn tortillas along with the homemade tortillas.

From my colleague Sharon Maynard  (see the segment on St. Patrick's Day treats) , I learned this fun presentation tip on serving fruits.  This decorative muffin paper has various fresh fruits in my refrigerator:

This morning's smoothie is made with leftover yogurt topping from my carrot cake pancakes (I included the shaved carrots), leftover chopped almonds from last night's strawberry dessert and my own cranberry chutney. When fresh cranberries are available during the holidays, I buy a few extra bags and freeze them.  My Mom loves this chutney, and I made some for her for my visit this week.

Ricotta Cheese is tough for me to use the entire container-and the label says "use within 3 days of opening".  I needed ricotta for the turkey meatballs I made Tuesday.  So here's what I did with the ricotta:

Ricotta Stuffed Strawberries
 I hollowed out the strawberries (yes I save the centers) with a tomato destemmer, filled with ricotta (used a grapefruit spoon) and rolled in chopped almonds.

Ricotta Frittata

 This is a recipe from Rachael RayeSee my earlier post.  This is also a great way to use up any green leaves and herbs.  I do have a hard time using up entire packages of spinach, arugula, etc.  This morning I actually sat on the couch, watching the news and removed the stems from the greens prior to cooking.  I had spinach, arugula and fresh parsley to use.  My husbands friends at OSI love this pie too, so we'll send them some for lunch or dinner. 

The graphic titled US Farming 101 , sent by the Academy Foundation earlier this week is a good one.  I feel good when I'm able to use all those nutrient dense foods in my refrigerator!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Kathy's Carrots

Carrot Cake Pancakes for breakfast and Crock Pot Carrots and more for dinner. . . my farmers market carrots make any meal special.  Kathy Evans from Evans Knob Farm grows colorful carrots of many sizes and sells them by weight.  I'm always so happy when I can get these!  The pancake recipe is from Starbucks.

Carrot Cake Pancakes with Yogurt

(Makes 6)

Cook carrots in water over medium heat until tender.
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut in 1 inch chunks

Mix dry ingredients.
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash salt

Drain carrots.  Puree in blender with milk.
3/4 cup skim milk
2 teaspoon lemon juice

Add to blender and puree to incorporate.
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 egg
Orange zest from one orange (I used a small mandarin)
1/4 cup toasted walnuts

Stir wet ingredients into dry.  Drop batter by 1/4 cup measures onto preheated griddle.  Cook on each side under brown, about 2 minutes each.

Serve with yogurt topping.

Yogurt Topping

1 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
Orange zest from one mandarin

I have lots of vegetables that cook great in the crock pot.  For dinner, I put those in a crock pot with 10 ounces of sirloin steak and 2 cups low sodium beef broth.  3 hours on low and 1 hour on high made a great meal, with leftover vegetables for tomorrow.  

Vegetables included Yukon gold potatoes, carrots, celery, parsnips, turnips, parsley and cremini mushrooms.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spaghetti Takes Flight

A springy take on meatballs:  turkey breast, salad greens, cheese, lemon and a few other ingredients produced meatballs with a flair.  These were so good.

The recipe was inspired by Food Network Magazine's "50 Meatballs" issue.  I mistakenly combined 2 recipes, but the result was still good.  Here's my take:

Turkey Meatballs

(Serves 3)

Mix in food processor:
6 ounce raw turkey breast tenderloin
1 egg
1/2 cup spinach, arugula mix, cooked and squeezed
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dill
Lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons wheat germ
2 tablespoons part-skim ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons fresh grated mozzarella cheese
1 mini red sweet pepper, seeded
1/4 cup onion

Portion into balls, 1 tablespoons each.
Broil in a toaster oven for 15 minutes, then turn oven to "toast" and brown 5 more minutes.  Center of meatballs should be 165 F.  

My tomato sauce is from Vegetables Accidentally 

Simple Tomato Sauce

Saute onion in olive oil until soft:
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 teaspoon olive oil

1 can no-added salt diced tomatoes (I pulsed mine in a food processor for a few seconds to blend)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Simmer for 30 minutes, covered.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Dinner Boats (Meatless Monday)

Dinner tonight with farmers market finds:  Acorn squash, colorful carrots, pea shoots from the market with farro, honey, crushed pecans, tomatoes, cheese and peppers.  

Continuing my tips for converting a recipe (see last night's post "How to Cook from Scratch Without Gaining Weight"):

1)  Control the amount of oil used to roast the vegetables.  The carrot recipe called for oil, as did the squash recipe.  I used 1 teaspoon to saute the peppers for the carrots, 1 teaspoon in the marinade for the carrots and 1 teaspoon to brush the squash prior to roasting.  For cost purposes as well (olive oil is expensive), I always measure the oil to roast.

The recipe for the boat was inspired by Vegetarian Living and A Cozy Kitchen.  The carrot recipe was inspired by Food and Nutrition Magazine.

Acorn Squash Boats with Farro, Honey & Pecans

(Serves 2)

Cut acorn squash in half and remove the seeds.  Brush with oil.  Roast at 425F face down for 30 minutes.
1 teaspoon canola oil

Cook farro in water for 30 minutes.
1/4 cup farro
1 cup water

Mix in:
2 tablespoons toasted crushed pecans
1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1/3 cup fresh Mozzarella Cheese, grated
2 tablespoons parsley
1/3 cup fresh tomatoes, diced

Portion into squash boats.  Garnish with pea shoots.
1/3 cup pea shoots

Roasted Carrots

(Serves 2)

Saute peppers and garlic in oil.
2 mini sweet peppers, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced

Peel and slice colorful carrots uniformly.  Toss with seasonings in a ziploc bag.
3/4 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon corriander
Fresh ground pepper
Lemon juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon olive oil 
Pepper-garlic mixture

Roast at 425F for 20 minutes.  

This meal has colorful vegetables, whole grains, essential oils, dairy and nuts. 


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Stargazy Pie: How I Don't Gain Weight by Cooking the Stars' Recipes!

I love trying new recipes, and often try 4 or 5 new recipes a week.  While I don't watch Food TV, which was central to the Science Daily story that viewers who do and cook from scratch weigh more than those who don't. . . I flag recipes in current magazines and sometimes social media to try.  The magazines I love don't necessarily focus on healthy ingredients.  Here are my tips for converting a recipe:

1)  Use lots of vegetables.  The recipe I used tonight called for just onions.  I added potatoes, carrots and mushrooms.

2)  Cut back on the meat portions.  Use leaner cuts of meat.  Tonight's recipe called for 2-2 1/2 # rabbits and 12 oz crawfish meat. & 7 whole crawfish.  I used 4 skinless chicken thighs.  While I would have loved to find a crawfish, I substituted 9 tail on shrimp.

3)  Use 1/2 whole wheat for the flour.  For this pastry I used 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 all purpose flour.

4)  Use good fats and monitor the amount so that it averages 1 fat per serving.  Tonight's recipe called for beef suet, olive oil and butter.  The only suet I've seen is bird suet.  I used 5 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread and 1 teaspoon of olive oil.  The recipe called for heavy cream.  I used evaporated skim milk.

5)  Control the portions.  The recipe I used stated that it serves 4-6.  Ours served 8.

I also monitor the sugar per serving.  This recipe had no added sugar.  I did cut back on the salt by 1/2 and used low sodium chicken stock.

The delightful recipe is from Saveur Magazine from restaurateur Mark Hix.   Be sure and click the link to see the picture of his finished product.  It is simply fantastic!  I was tickled that I got to use my bunny cookie cutter for the center of my pastry!   Here's my adaptation:

Stargazy Pie

(Serves 8)


In food processor, mix dry ingredients:
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cut in buttery spread.
1/4 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread

Add egg.
1 egg

Add cold water.
3 tablespoon plus 1 teapoon

Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until ready to use.


In a large saucepan, brown chicken in olive oil on stovetop.
4 skinless chicken thighs, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 teaspoon olive oil

Season with Mrs. Dash and cook until browned.

Add onion and buttery spread.  Cook for 4-6 minutes.
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery Spread

Sprinkle in flour;  cook 2 minutes.
1/4 cup flour

Whisk in stock and cider.  Bring to a boil.
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup hard cider

Add cooked vegetables.
1 carrot, peeled and diced
3 small yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced

Add mushrooms.
4 cremini mushrooms, sliced 

Lower heat.  Stir in evaporated milk.
2 tablespoons evaporated skim milk
Cook until liquid is thick.

Place filling in deep dish pie pan sprayed with Pam.

Remove pastry from refrigerator.  On a floured surface, roll dough to a circle larger than the  pie pan.  Reserve a piece for center garnish.  Cover top of pie with pastry and crimp the edges.  Add decorative dough garnish.

With a knife, cut slots in pastry for shrimp.  Insert the shrimp, tail up and out.
9 raw shrimp, peeled with tail on

Brush pastry top and edges with beaten egg.
1 egg, beaten

Bake at 400 F. for 30 minutes. 



Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mexican Magic

Homemade tortillas, farmer's market pea shoots and my own taco seasoning brought our homemade tacos to a new level-top notch!  Bob cooked the ground beef while I made the tortillas.  I made the topping tray with corn, black beans, tomatoes, mini sweet peppers, cilantro and pea shoots while the tortilla dough "rested".  As state in the recipe from the current issue of Food and Nutrition Magazine, I kept the tortillas warm between clean dry dish cloths while cooking the rest. 

Flour Tortillas 

(Makes 7)

Mix flours and salt in a mixing bowl.
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Slowly add oils and water.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup warm (125F) water

With dough hook in place, mix until a ball is formed and dough leaves the side of the bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 15 minutes.

Roll dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper sprinkled with corn meal.  I cut mine with a 4 inch round English Muffin cutter, then rolled each to a 5 inch round.  Cook in individual (6 inch) iron skillets, 1 minute per side.

Taco Seasoning

2 cups Chili Powder
2/3 cup Ground Cumin
2/3 cup Garlic Powder
2 Tbsp. 2 tsp. Ground White Pepper
1 Tbsp. 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
Mix and store in closed container. 

I was thrilled with my purchases from the local farmer's market today.  My pea shoots were purchased from DeBerry Farm in Oakland, Md.  I found colorful carrots from Evans Knob Farm out of Bruceton, WV.    2 colors of beets, garlic, winter squash, turnips. . . I am a happy camper!

Tomorrow morning, I think I'll try an Egg in the Hole inside the remaining tortillas! 

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Heat is On

This aromatic tikka recipe was inspired by Chef & RD Zach Breeding's recipe in the current issue of Food and Nutrition Magazine.  Mine is served with a side of Farro.  While the recipe clearly states that cayenne was optional, I included the spice. . . and we loved it.  Bob did have to get a beverage to drink with his meal!

Chicken Tikka

(Serves 3)

Marinate chicken in lemon juice, yogurt and garlic mixture for 20 minutes.
1-6 ounce chicken breast, cut in 1 inch cubes
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
2 ounce Greek yogurt, plain, nonfat

Sear chicken in olive oil on stovetop.
1 teaspoon olive oil

Add spices to chicken and saute for 4 minutes.
1 teaspoon coriander
1 1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/3 teaspoon cardamom
1/3 teaspoon beribera spice mix (the recipe called for garam masala which I did not have)
2/3 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon fresh grated turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Add buttery spread, onion and ginger.
2 teaspoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1/3 cup onion, diced
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
Saute 4 minutes.

Add tomatoes, broth and milk.
3/4 cup no added salt diced tomatoes
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
Cook until sauce is thick.


(Serves 3)

Cook farro in stock until water is evaporated and farro is tender (about 25 minutes)
1/3 cup farro
1 1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth

 I loved the graphic sent last night by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation titled US Farming 101.  The part I'm so adamant about is reducing food waste.  60% comes from homes and food service-most is avoidable. I was so proud in my job as manager of the Healthy Cafe that our Salvation Army partners would pickup items we could not keep (such as pizzas) and take back to their soup kitchen to serve.  At home I try to plan small portions with little leftovers, plan my meal around what I have in stock and plan for use of leftovers.  Here's today's breakfast:

 The berry, yogurt and granola parfait utilized the little bit of blueberries I had on hand and the remaining granola from my quinoa pancake breakfast this week.  The vegetable souffle and Irish soda bread were made Tuesday.  I take care of my leftovers, cooling and storing promptly, and do not keep on hand for more than 4 days.

I am so excited for the Winter Blues Farmers Market tomorrow in our hometown.  Will wait until after that to plan my menu for the week!


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Enticing People to Eat Healthy (A Shout Out to the HRDC)

My first trip to the Tri Towns Senior Center with my Mom was a reaffirmation that being with loved ones entices one to eat.  Mom's tray was served, and when I returned to the table after picking up my own tray-she'd already eaten everything on her tray!  The food was delicious.  All of the ladies (6 in all) at the table finished the entire meal including their 1% white milk.  What a nice place!  My 89 year old Mother is pictured above with her long time friend. 

I recently retired from my job managing a Healthy Cafe at a major medical center where it was my mission to entice customers to choose healthy.  It wasn't just about the healthy menu items, but also the environment and the service.  Cleanliness, stocking, marketing, having attentive staff in place all play a role in encouraging customers to eat.

The same holds true at home.  In our home we always eat dinner together at the bar, face to face with a pretty setting along with the nutritious meal.  We did this when the kids were young too-with 4 stools instead of 2.  It was cozy, always healthy and a time to be together.  

Managing a staff of 25 and serving 1200 meals a day was challenging, but so worth it when customers showed their appreciation and wanted to eat healthy.  Managing a household also has its challenges but meals can also be fun and a creative outlet for the family.  

A big shout out to the Allegany County (Westernport, Md) Senior Center ! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Crossing the T's

Tea Cookies and Tartine for dinner.  The Matcha Tea Powder for the cookies was pricey, but I balanced an expensive dessert with less expensive main dish and inexpensive side dish.  

Here's dinner:
Tartine with Eggs & Asparagus on New Day Bakery Seven Grain Toast with ramekins of Au gratin Potatoes.   Aldis currently has terrific prices on asparagus.  I plan one of my dinners per week around eggs-a high quality and low price protein.  I have a basket full of potatoes on my counter. . . once I located the Matcha Tea Powder, the meal came together!

The tea cookie recipe is from Food and Wine Magazine.

Matcha Tea Cake Cookies

(Serves 14)

Sift together dry ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Dash salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

Beat sugar and eggs in mixing bowl:
2 eggs
6 tablespoons sugar

Add oil and extracts.
2/3 cup canola oil  
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Mix water and tea powder prior to adding to liquid ingredients.
2 tablespoons Matcha tea powder
2 tablespoons water

Fold in dry ingredients.

Using a 2 tablespoon ice cream scoop, drop onto parchment lined baking sheets.
Bake at 350 F. for 15 minutes.

When cool, sift sugar-tea powder mixture over eggs.
1 teaspoon Matcha tea powder
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar

Au Gratin Potatoes

(Serves 4)

Spray 4 ramekin dishes with Pam.

Combine cheeses, potatoes, flour and cayenne in a bowl.
4 small-medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1/4 teaspoon flour
Pinch of cayenne
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 reduced fat cheddar cheese stick, grated

Place 1/2 of potato mixture in each ramekin.  Add 1/2 of milk.
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated skim milk

Bake at 350 F. for 40 minutes.  Increase oven temperature to 425 and bake for 15 more minutes.

   In my job as the manager of the Healthy Cafe, I managed another snack bar on the student end of the Health Sciences Center.  I got lots of exercise walking between the two cafes during the busy meal periods.  Now that I've retired, I begin my day with upper arm exercises, followed by a 1 mile walk after breakfast.  2 or 3 times a week, I'm attending water aerobics at the rehabilitation hospital.  I kid that it's a class of "old ladies", but I'm using muscles I didn't use before.  The water feels great.  I'm crafting, organizing and cooking.  Today I read the entire Journal!  Tomorrow I'll travel to my Mom's to take her to the Senior Center.  I'm loving this healthy lifestyle free of work stress.  It's still good to have a routine.