Friday, July 29, 2016

Blushing Brunch

After a few days of needed rain, the sun came out and I took my brunch outside.  Cherry Tartine and Watermelon Gazpacho comprised my platter.  I used small cans of low sodium V8 juice in the chilled soup, which proved to make it thicker and tasty.

Watermelon Gazpacho

(2-1 cup servings)

Blend all ingredients in an electric mixer.
1 cup watermelon chunks
2 mini sweet peppers, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon Mrs. Dash
2 tablespoon lime juice
2-6 ounces cans low sodium V8 juice

The recipe for the Tartine was inspired by Eating Well magazine.
Mine is made with my delicious Onion Rye Bread.

Cherry & Ricotta Tartine 

(Serves 1)

Mix cherries with honey and lemon juice.  Roast on a parchment lined tray in 400F. oven for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
3/4 cup pitted cherries, halved
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Spread ricotta on rye bread slices (these are about the size of cocktail rye bread-a little thicker)
1/3 cup ricotta cheese, part-skim
6-1/4 inch slices onion-rye baguette

Garnish with zest and thyme.
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Grain Bowls Made Easy

My cupboards are stocked with a large variety of grains, beans, flours, nuts and dried fruit just as my refrigerator is stocked with many colorful fresh vegetables.  My husband and I are petite senior citizens-while active, we're not joggers.  We only need small servings and I want as much variety in my weeks menu as possible.  That's why I love my counter-top pressure cooker that allows me to cook 1/2 cup of a grain or bean at a time.  While I still have to add 2 cups of liquid, with dried beans and grains that liquid can be drained if needed.  This counter top cooker also has a browning function!  So here's tonight's dinner, which cooked in less than an hour with very little preparation time:

Wild Rice & Lentil Bowl with Scallops

(Serves 3)

Brown celery, carrots, onions and garlic in olive oil for about 4 minutes.
1/3 cup celery diced
1/3 cup carrots, peeled and diced
1/4 cup onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon olive oil

Stir in wild rice, lentils and water.  Change function to cook.  Set timer for 30 minutes.  Secure lid on pressure cooker with steam valve closed.  Allow timer to run its course-this will take about 35 minutes.  Release steam valve, then remove lid.
6 tablespoon wild rice
2 tablespoon green lentils
2 cups water

Stir in spinach, herbs and mustard.  Cooker automatically reverts to warming function when the timer goes off.  Allow to warm for about 5 minutes.
1 1/2 cups fresh spinach
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup snipped fresh herbs (I used an oregano, chive, basil and thyme mix)
Remove rice, bean and vegetable mix from cooker.  Drain off any excess liquid, as preferred.

Turn cooker function to brown. 
Stir in fennel, peppers and buttery spread.  Add scallops.  Brown on both sides about 2 minutes each.

1/3 cup sliced fennel bulb
2 mini sweet peppers, sliced
1 tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery Spread
9 jumbo scallops (I sliced ours in half horizontally)

Serve scallop-fennel-pepper mix over rice, beans and vegetables.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Overnight Fruit Cobbler

Even though I used to think preparing your oats the night before was a silly idea. . . the more I do it, the more I like it.  This recipe, inspired by Clean Eating Magazine, has whole grains, good fat, fresh fruit, and just a small amount of added sugar.  Mine has dairy and probiotics in the yogurt.  The 100% cacao in the non-alkalized cocoa has flanonoids that may promote extra health benefits.   

I did look forward to my breakfast.  It was not so sweet and very filling.  The protein and nutrient density was perfect preparation for my early morning water aerobics class!

Overnight Fruit Cobbler 

(Serves 1)

Toast grain and nuts in 375F. oven for 12 minutes.
1/2 cup dry oats or barley flakes
1/4 cup unsalted nuts

Mix milk, yogurt, seeds, cocoa, syrup and extract.
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt, plain, nonfat
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa, non-alkalized
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Layer yogurt mix, grain mix and fruit in a 1 pint jar.
1/2 cup wild black raspberries (or other fruit)
2 dried dates, chopped
I repeated the layers twice.
Cover and refrigerate overnight. 

When ready to eat, microwave the jar 30 seconds.
Garnish with additional fruit or cherries.  
Fresh cherry (garnish)


Monday, July 25, 2016

Getting the Most From Summer Produce

Fresh from the market summer produce is best prepared close to purchase.  Extend the life of these tasty bulbs, fruit, steams and leaves by following these tips:

  • Remove greens from bulbs and roots as soon as you get home.  While the leaves of most vegetables make tasty ingredients, they rob the bulbs of moisture if left intact.  Cut the greenery from fennel, beets, carrots and kohlrabi to use as a garnish or cut for soups and salads.  Do not eat the leaves on rhubarb stalks.  
  • Don't wash produce until ready to use.  Wash thoroughly.  Scrub the outside of melons and root vegetables prior to cutting.
  • Discard moldy and shriveled berries and vegetables.
  • Leave the stems on cherries until ready to eat.
  • Cut produce just before using.  Eggplant, apples and pears will brown quickly after cutting.
  • Never soak lettuce.
  • Store mushrooms with cold air circulating around them.  The mushroom farmer at our market puts mushrooms in a brown bag upon purchase.
  • Allow melons to ripen at room temperature.  Once cut, store melons in the refrigerator.
  • Keep ripe and cut vegetables tightly wrapped in the refrigerator.
Plan meals to include the produce you bring home.  Increase the variety and amount of vegetables in recipe.  These nutrient and fiber rich vegetables are often low in calories-fill 1/2 to 3/4 of the plate with the summer finds.

The picnic fare displayed in the photo features a grilled vegetable and steak salad with a mini farmers market melon.  Here is the recipe:


Grilled Vegetable Steak Salad

(Serves 2)

Marinate steak in olive oil, garlic and thyme mix for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
2 teaspoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 sprigs thyme
6 ounce sirloin tip steak, cut carne asada style (thin)
Grill steak on stove-top iron grill about 4 minutes per side.  Slice with the grain in 4 inch strips, then slice across the grain in 2 inch strips.

Marinade for vegetables
Mix oil, vinegar, garlic and clove. 
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon basil leaves

Grill vegetables, one layer at a time, on stove-top iron grill.  Brush each side of vegetable strips with marinade before grilling.  Grill 5 minutes on each side.
1 red pepper, seeded and cut in strips
Yellow summer squash, cut diagonally 1/2 inch thick, 8 slices
Zucchini squash, cut diagonally 1/2 inch thick, 6 slices
Add corn to grill with last of the vegetables, cooking and turning until lightly browned.
1 ear of corn, cooked and cut off the cob
Refrigerate vegetables with steak strips overnight.

Add the tomatoes the morning of the picnic.
2/3 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (quarter larger tomatoes)
When ready to serve, garnish with cheese and mozzarella cheese.
Fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Red Lentil Tomato Soup (Meatless Monday)

This recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine was just so good and very easy.  The Indian spices added that the perfect flavoring.    

Red Lentil Tomato Soup

(Serves 4)

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until lightly brown.
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/4 cup onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced

Add spices and pepper.  Cook and stir 45 seconds.
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
2 mini red peppers, diced

Pour in tomatoes and broth.  Add lentils.
1 16 ounce can petite tomatoes, diced, no-added salt
1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup red lentils
Turn heat to low.  Cover and stir occasionally, until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
Remove center piece on lid of electric mixer.  Carefully add mixture to the blender.  Cover lid with a clean cloth and blend until smooth. 

Garnish with yogurt and fresh vegetables.
1/2 cup Greek yogurt, plain, nonfat


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Husk Wrapped Chicken with Corn Picnic

Our picnic platter today with Chili Chicken and Corn-Mango Relish, finished with Wild Raspberry Yogurt Cake was delicious.  The platter was just fine cold on this very hot and humid day.

The recipe was inspired by Better Homes and Gardens.   

Chili Chicken and Corn-Mango Relish

(Serves 2-Chicken)

(Serves 3-Corn Relish)

Husk Wrapped Chicken
Spinkle chicken thighs with seasonings.
Wrap each in 1 husk leaf, trimmed.  Secure with a narrow piece of husk (tie).  Bake at 350 F. for 20 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165F.  Refrigerate in a single layer. 
3 Chicken Thighs, boneless, skinless
1 1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash
2 tablespoon oregano, fresh, snipped
Husks from 1 ear of corn

Corn Mango Relish
Trim silk and loose husk piece from 1 ear of corn.  Wrap a soaking wet piece of paper towel around the ear of corn with husk intact.  Microwave on high 2 minutes.  Turn over and microwave for 2 more minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately remove husk and discard silk.  (Use a clean cloth to do so-corn is very hot).  Reserve husk pieces.  Cut corn off the cob.  Discard cob.

Combine cooked corn kernels with vinegar, oil, mango and pepper.  Chill. 
1 ear of corn, cooked and cut off the cob
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 mini sweet peppers, diced

This is what the chicken looked like when I removed the husks at table side.  I garnished with cucumber slices and coffee sprinkled cherry tomatoes from my container garden.  Yum!

Bob actually picked the mango out of his relish to garnish the moist berry yogurt cake I made with wild black raspberries picked on our hillside.  Since I poked many holes in the cake after baking, then poured lime syrup on top-the cake is delicious alone.  The recipe was inspired by Fine Cooking.

Lime Coconut Raspberry Yogurt Cake 

(Serves 14)

Beat eggs and sugar in bowl of electric mixer.
2 eggs
3 tablespoon sugar

Mix dry ingredients:  flours, baking powder and soda, salt, coconut and zest.  Stir in raspberries.
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 talbespoon finely grated lime zest
1 cup wild raspberries, washed and drained

Soften buttery spread.  Mix with yogurt and juice.
5 1/2 ounce Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1 cup plain yogurt, nonfat
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice

Alternately add dry ingredients, then liquid, to egg-sugar mix in bowl.  Stir only till combines.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan, line with aluminum foil, greased with olive oil spray.
Bake at 350F. 55 minutes. 

To make syrup, bring water and sugar to a boil.  Boil 1 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in lime juice.  Cool.
3 tablespoon water
3 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice

After removing cake loaf from oven, poke many holes in the cake with a metal skewer.  Brush lime syrup over cake, allowing to soak in before applying more syrup.

Cool in pan for 15 minutes.  Remove from pan, removing foil, to cool on wire rack.

Our picnic today was at Tygart Lake State Park near Grafton, West Virginia.



Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday Picnic with Scallop, Corn & Sausage Salad

I always prepare on Saturday for our Sunday picnic.  Though Bob was "called out" for an escort today, I packed the bag and went with him.  We ate a snack (mine was a nut blend) and drank a cup of coffee to hold us over for an afternoon picnic.  Our menu featured:

Scallop with Corn & Sausage Salad
Fresh Picked Cucumber & Cherry Tomatoes
Sunday Morning Muffins
Fresh Melon & Blueberry Cup

The salad recipe was inspired by Family Circle Magazine.

Scallop, Corn & Sausage Salad

(Serves 3)

Saute shallots, garlic, celery and fennel in olive oil.
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoon shallots, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoon celery, minced
2 tablespoon fennel, minced

Stir in cooked corn and spinach.  Saute 1 minute until corn wilts.  Remove from pan.
1 ear of corn, steamed, and cut off the cob
2 cups spinach

Add sausage.  Break up and cook until browned and crumbled.  Add to corn mix.
3 ounce Italian sausage, raw

Brown scallops in pan for 2 minutes on each side.  Season with Mrs. Dash.
6 large jumbo scallops
1/4 teaspoon Mrs. Dash

Store scallops, corn & sausage mix in the refrigerator in a shallow container.  Transport in an insulated container, preferably in a shallow glass container, with ice blocks surrounding.

Garnish with pepper rings.
2 mini sweet peppers, sliced in rings

The muffin recipe is from "Picnic" by Dee Dee Stovel from Story Publishing.
The neat thing about this recipe is that you can add any preferred vegetables, nuts or dried fruit in place of the carrot-zucchini mix, pecans and raisins.  I cleaned out the refrigerator prior to our trip to Holly River and had luscious muffins to take with me and freeze some for later.  I even added eggplant in place of some of the carrot-squash mix!

Sunday Morning Muffins

(14 Muffins)

Beat sugar and eggs in bowl of an electric mixer.
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs 

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

Mix liquid ingredients.
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce

Alternately add dry and liquid ingredients to egg-sugar mix.  Do not over mix.

Lay grated vegetables on a clean cloth.  Roll and squeeze out excess moisture.
2 cups grated carrots, squash or other vegetables (I even added shredded eggplant)

Stir vegetables, coconut, nuts, pineapple and dried fruit into the muffin mix.
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used an assortment)
1/2 cup undrained crushed pineapple
1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit combination, diced 

Portion 1/4 cup batter into each muffin tin, greased with an olive oil spray.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Despite Bob being called out to work-I was ready.  We enjoyed our meal at Chestnut Ridge Park (near home) on our way home from the escort.




Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Shaken, Not Stirred

Packing foods in jars for a picnic makes it easy to transport and to keep the food cold.  Packing a salad in a jar with the dressing on the bottom was the perfect way to dispense a beautiful lunch portion! 
Our menu for today features:

BBQ Chicken
Veggie Salad in a Jar
Blackberry Cobbler with Pecan-Ginger Biscuit

The salad recipe is from Cooking Light

Veggie Salad in a Jar

(Serves 2)

Mix oil, vinegar, mustard and seasoning.  Divide into 2-1 pint jars.
2 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash

Layer herbs, garbanzos, carrots, quinoa, tomatoes and spinach.
1/4 cup fresh herbs, snipped (mine has cilantro, basil, thyme and oregano)
1/2 cup cooked garbanzo beans
1/2 cup shredded carrot
2/3 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup diced cherry tomatoes
2/3 cup fresh spinach, chopped 

Top with crumbled cheese.
2 ounce goat cheese, crumbled

The BBQ sauce recipe is also from Cooking Light

BBQ Chicken

(Serves 2)

Mix sauce in bowl.  Add chicken and turn to coat.  Bake at 325 F. until internal temperature reaches 165 F.
2 tablespoon ketchup, no high fructose corn syrup
2 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon honey
3/4 teaspoon vinegar
1/3 teaspoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon Mrs. Dash
1-6 ounce chicken breast half, boneless, skinless


Our picnic today was at Watters Smith Memorial State Park near Lost Creek, West Virginia.  It is an immaculate park, with shelters, trails, historical buildings and more.  The lawns are perfectly landscaped.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Tomato Basil Tart with Yogurt Custard

The recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine with cheese and basil in the crust and a tomato olive layer on the bottom of the custard is simply delicious.  This recipe is a keeper.  Mine is made in individual tart pans with the ingredients I have on hand.

Tomato Basil Tart with Yogurt Custard

(4 individual tarts)

In a food processor, mix flours, cheese, basil and Mrs. Dash.  Cut in buttery spread.  With motor running, gradually add cold water.
Form dough into a ball.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 20 minutes. 
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated
3/4 teaspoon fresh basil, snipped
1/4 teaspoon Mrs. Dash
4 tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery spread
1 1/2 tablespoon cold water
Remove from refrigerator and divide in quarters.  Pat each dough piece into a circle.  Place in tart pans.  Remove overhang.

Tomato Olive Layer
Over low heat, cook olives, garlic, pepper flakes and tomatoes until most of liquid from tomatoes has evaporated.
2 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups diced red tomatoes
1/4 cup diced Kalamata olives

Custard Filling
Beat eggs, yogurt and Mrs. Dash.
2 eggs
3/4 cup plain yogurt, nonfat
1/8 teaspoon Mrs. Dash

Tart Assembly
Place grated cheese on bottom of tart shell.
3 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated
Add tomato-olive mix.
Cover with custard filling.
Bake at 425 F. for 15 minutes. 

Without removing tarts from oven, add grated cheese.  Bake an additional 10 minutes until browned.
3 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated 

Happy "Meatless" Monday!