Happy Thanksgiving

22 Nov

 Well I am hanging by a thread here not knowing what is working and what isn’t, but I am going to wing it an at least try and hope this update reaches you.  I just felt obligated to produce something for the holiday as I have for the last 20 years-eleven years for the paper and this will be my ninth year for my web site. 

 

This is going to be very brief, but I wanted to share some of my recipes from those past years, all which have been very popular and also very helpful in getting that Thanksgiving feast on the table.  All the recipes are made the day before, refrigerated and popped in the oven on Thanksgiving Day.  All are very easy to make and are all very delicious.  All the recipes take approximately 45 to 30 minutes in the oven.  After your turkey is ready, simple place all the dishes in the oven and while the turkey is resting and you make the gravy, every thing will be ready. 

 

Also make your desserts the day before too, most of the desserts that contain pumpkin are usually chilled anyway.  Most of you probably know how to make pumpkin pie and if not just follow that old standby Libby’s pumpkin pie recipe. I am still on that one-hour break routine because of my neck injury, so I will see you in a bit.  I’m back, and I just removed my mini sweet potato recipe from the oven and when it cools I will photograph it for this update.  I enjoyed the squash recipe for dinner as I prepared it yesterday and placed it in the refrigerator over night and baked it for 30 minutes.  Yum!  It is a good thing that the most enjoyable task for me is being in the kitchen cooking and because I didn’t have a photo-didn’t have digital at the time-and I had to eat, I made two mini recipes.  I will be doubling the recipes for Thanksgiving. Hopefully, you will be able to try 1 or 2 of them.  If not file them away for next year or use them for your vegetable dish during the year or at least in the winter.  Remember that healthy hint “Eat in season” and sweet potatoes and butternut squash are root vegetables and keep in a cool environment for a very long period. In earlier times vegetables for kept in a cold cellar or pickled and would sustain people through the cold winter.  It sure makes sense to me and as always “Mother Nature knows best.

 

Well, I am not going to waste any more time chatting and get right to sharing my recipes and from all the feed back I received when I introduced them I can guarantee that you guest will enjoy them.  Oh, I just received a call from my daughter asking me a question pertaining to the easy and never fail piecrust recipe that I shared some time ago.  She asked if she could make it today and refrigerate it overnight-of course, but let it sit for about 10 to 15 minutes before you attempt to roll it and for you who are piecrust making challenged you can omit the roiling step and just pat it in your pie plate. 

 

 Never Fail Pie Crust 

This recipe makes enough pastry for two one crust pies or one double crust pie or wrap unused pastry in foil and place in a freezer bag and store in the freezer for later use.

1-½ cups flour

1-teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons sugar-optional-omit the sugar when you make a savory pie like a quiche.

½ cup canola oil

2 tablespoons milk

 

In a measuring cup, stir together oil and milk.  In a medium bowl stir together flour, salt and sugar if using.  Add canola oil mixture and stir with fork until blended. With hand roll into a ball, separate and flatten into rounds.  Roll between wax paper into a 12-inch circle.  Peel off top paper and turn into pie plate and fit loosely.

 For a one crust pie like the pumpkin pie that I made last night pictured below-actually I have been eating my Thanksgiving dinner piece by piece making items for my food photo shoot for this update-of course it is. I did get a little carried away and cut leaf designs with a cookie cutter to decorate the pie. Follow the directions on the Libby’s can for the pumpkin pie.  For a one-crust pie that is baked without a filling you have to weigh it down.  This can be accomplished by lining the shell with foil and placing some dry beans on top or by purchasing clay pie weights.  Bake at 450 degrees F. or until golden brown.  For a double crust pie repeat directions for rolling and placing in pie plate, fill and repeat rolling and simpler place on top of filling. Cut four short slits spaced evenly on top and follow instructions in your recipe for oven temperature and baking time.

  

 

 

Sweet Potatoes In Orange Cups

3 large oranges-makes six

2 pounds sweet potatoes

1/3-cup light brown sugar

¼ cup butter of Smart Balance Margarine

Coconut, pecans or what ever else you can come up with

 

Cut oranges in half and squeeze out juice reserving ½ cup of juice.  Carefully remove pulp from shell-I use a grapefruit knife.  You can cut a scallop design on the edge with kitchen shears.

 

Cook potatoes in the microwave following manufactures directions. When cool enough to handle, scoop out inside of potato into a medium bowl.  Mash and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth; add orange juice, brown sugar and three tablespoons of butter or Smart Balance Margarine.  Spoon mixture in shells and swirl with a knife. Brush edges with and remaining butter or Smart Balance.  As an added treat you can decorate the tops with pecans or your choice of nuts or coconut. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate over night. Bake in a 350 degrees oven for approximately 30 minutes.

 

 

Butternut Apple Crisp

1 small butternut squash, pared, quartered, seeded, and sliced. To facilitate the slicing of the squash, I place it in the microwave for a few minutes until soft enough to slice into ¼ to ½ inch slices, if using fresh apples or into chunks if using pie filling.

½ cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1-teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

1 20-ounce can pie-sliced apples

 

Topping

½ cup all purpose flour

½ cup quick cooking rolled oats

¼ cup packed brown sugar

6 tablespoons butter or Smart Balance Margarine

 

In a mixing bowl combine ½ cup of the brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt.  Add sliced squash and undrained apple and toss to coat.  Turn apple mixture into a 10x6x2 inch-baking dish.  Combine flour, oats and ¼ cups of brown sugar; cut in butter or margarine until mixture resembles course crumbs. Sprinkle over squash apple mixture.   Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.  Bake covered in a 375 degrees oven for 30 minutes, un cover and reduce temperature to 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes until squash is tender and top is brown. Don’t forget to place the sweet potatoes in the oven with the squash and apple casserole after ten minutes.

  

 

  

I am making my pies tomorrow and putting them in the refrigerator as well as well as this overnight Gingerbread Pumpkin Trifle that everyone loves.  When I set it on the dessert table, it was gone in minutes.

 Gingerbread Pumpkin Trifle

1 ginger bread, homemade, purchased, or a gingerbread mix, baked as directed.

2 boxes instant pudding

2 cups skim milk

1 cup pumpkin pie filling

1 large container of whipping cream-I suppose you could use Cool Whip-hey, it’s a holiday

¼ to ½ cup of confectioner’s sugar

 

Make or purchase gingerbread.  Make pudding per directions on box and fold in the 1cup of pumpkin. Whip cream and add ¼ to ½ cup of confectioners sugar, depending how sweet you want the cream to be and continue whipping until stiff peaks form.  Crumble ginger bread and sprinkle a layer in a clear glass bowl-I do have a trifle bowl, but I have to make a very large bowl and use one of my punch bowls.  Add a layer of pudding/pumpkin mix and a layer of whipped cream. Continue until you reach the top of the bowl. Sprinkle with a powdered sugar. Cover and place in the refrigerator over night and until serving.  Very easy, but very elegant.

 I also make the Overnight Creamy Potato Casserole and for me that is best time saver because you put the casserole in the oven for thirty minutes just before serving dinner and the potatoes are piping hot.  When I first introduced the recipe, it was a novelty, but today there are so many variations that I am confident that you will have no problem finding a recipe.

 One more little hint-set your table the night before because there is never enough time in the morning to do a good job and you just know some guest always will arrive early.  Don’t go crazy, but put a little more effort then your every day setting.

 I always had to set a festive dining room table and several other tables scattered all over the house to accommodate all the grandkids. The food was set up all over the kitchen on my six-food work counter and on every empty space available, but the dining table had a Thanksgiving themed centerpiece and candles, the works. Each year I would try to make something different, the centerpiece is from Thanksgiving 2009.

 

It was a large wooden tray chocked with fresh fruit and nuts with a pineapple turkey made with pom poms wigglely eyes and large pipe cleaners.

 I feel good that I was able post an update for the holiday.  Sorry if it is too late for you to use for Thanksgiving.

Surprise

30 Aug

SURPRISE, yes, I am trying to be more consistent just like the article that I recently read entitled “How to create a successful website”-hey no guarantees, but I hope to bundle all the components needed to produce my website, which includes compiling all the research needed to actually report my findings, recipe development, cooking, writing my draft, proof reading, computer work, selecting my photos from my photo gallery-the photos are taken continuously though out the month and uploaded to my computer and finally publishing and sending out my e-mail blast to my members to notify them of a new update an announcing my update on Face Book.   I am setting aside 2 days a week and to treat these 2 days as a 9-5 job an just learn to say NO and SORRY I AM BUSY! 

 Well summer is finally here without a warming spring to ease us into the hot humid heat of summer.  Although last week we have had 3 days of on and off rain which was welcomed after the hot dry days of the previous week. Today it is 90 degrees and we are having a heat wave until Wednesday an the possibility of a brief shower or thunderstorm. Nix the thunderstorm, but I will welcome the shower so that I can skip watering the grass and gardens. Not complaining after viewing on television the terrible hardships people in other parts of the country are enduring. Hopefully all the nasty and dangerous storms throughout the country will finally subside.

 Both of my sons and I have been working very hard to bring back my front lawn. Ordered a load of top soil and the boys spread it and seeded and covered the seeds with hay and I was told to water it every day.  I watered and watered and nothing happened for weeks with the exception of my water bill being off the charts.  But finally I am happy to report that the grass is growing along with the weeds. Although as everyone knows summer is not the perfect time to grow grass and we will do better in the fall.  As of now, my allotment for home maintenance is just about depleted.

 We spruced up the grounds with some flowers and some simple landscaping and my son spread some fertilizer and it is looking A-OK, at least it is green.  So much so, that a neighbor driving by complimented me on it last week.  Isn’t that what the realtors call curb appeal.  Hey I’m trying!

 My sons steaming my porch and planting sod along my driveway.  I always said “Invest as much time and love in your kids and you will receive dividends for the rest of your life.” By the way that is without even asking.  I am blessed.

 

 Son dug out around the tree on the front lawn and utilized all the large rocks that he could find and circled the tree.  I purchased 6 hostas at the super market on sale for under $25.00 dollars, planted them and filled the mound with mulch on sale at Home Depot for 4 for $10.00.  It looks great and so much easier cutting the grass around the tree without hitting all the perturbing roots.

 In the back ground you can see the flag pole flower garden and my birdhouse, which by the way both floors are occupied and both have nests.  It is fascinating to watch how the birds guard their nest and how they supply food for their babies.  Nature is so wonderful-take a look around you some day and marvel in it.

 

 This is the stump from the tree that I had to have removed.  I use it as stage for seasonal displays.  I just love how it brighten up the yard.

To my surprise my perennial garden has perked up this year-readers will recall that I thought that it was completely destroyed when the one of the trees on the double trunk tree at the edge of the garden had to be removed and it landed smack on my garden that I have been tending for many years.  Last year it was very sparse, but this year it has flourished, although it is still a work in progress.  My herb garden is doing OK, although my basil doesn’t look that healthy.  I am going to pinch the tops today and make some pesto and as the saying goes, “The more you pinch it the better it will grow” The tomato plants which I planted in containers are coming along slowly.  Last year I was picking tomatoes until the last week in October.  Here’s hoping!

 

 

This is just the early stage of the garden and just in the last few days it seems like the garden just popped over night.


 I always broadcast hands full of seeds-actually I just throw them in the air and where they land is always a wonderful surprise. If you look closely you can see some zinnias coming through.  Also to my utmost amazement an Easter lily gift that I planted a few years back made its debut this year.

 

  That is the lily behind the pot.  Actually I wasn’t aware that is was there and I almost set the pot on top of it.  I enjoy my garden so much and now that the plants are mature, it is great.  NO WEEDING!  Unfortunately the herb garden takes up a good deal of time and has to be weeded continually or you can’t find the herbs.  However, I use every one of them and after all these years I just can’t give it up.

 

Most of the more difficult work has been accomplished, with most of it being done by the boys.  My job now is to try to maintain it and that isn’t as easy as it sounds.  Although my son comes every week to cut the grass, trim and edge and does a Yeoman job, I find that I still spend a good part of each day working in the yard.  I am longing to just sit on my bench and read a book and enjoy it and have some friends and family over for a yard party.

 July has always been known as the Grilling Month and I am anxious to start experimenting with some healthy recipes to compliment or to replace our old standby grilled hot dogs and hamburger.  Although many expect those delicious grilled hot dogs and hamburgers-and yes they are fine to eat in moderation and some times it is not a cookout without them. As a friend told me recently how she was invited to a yard party and she was excited to be having her first grilled hot dog of the year.  Unfortunately her host was serving catered food.  Bummer!

 Another old standby at summer parties is potato salad and over the years I am sure you have tasted many versions of potato salad.  It seems that every nationality has their take on potato salad.  Last week I perused my recipe collection and discovered so many different potato salad recipes that I have tried over the years and I thought that it would be fun to share them with you and perhaps someone would like to share their special recipe by e-mailing it to my contact number.

 It has always been said that there is no such thing as a bad potato salad.  Unfortunately, some cooks do not follow the 3 simple rules for a great potato salad.

Rule #1-choose the right potato-I like using red potatoes because they keep their shape and texture when cubed and a added bonus when the red skin is left on they add color to your salad and because many healthy nutrients are in the skin of the potato your body is getting nourished.  Also by using the mini red potatoes, which only need to be halved, it saves time in the preparation of the salad. Rule #2-do not over cook or undercook the potatoes and test often with a toothpick for doneness-cook potatoes in a saucepan covered with cold water.  Bring to a boil, than simmer until tender but firm. Rule #3-the potato is the star of this dish, so please do not drown it in dressing.  My hint is to pour a small potion of dressing at a time and gently combine with the potatoes; you will know when you have enough. 

 When my mom would make potato salad and after the potatoes were cooked, she would pour 2 or 3 tablespoons of cider vinegar over the potatoes and let them marinate for approximate 10 t0 15 minutes in the refrigerator while making the dressing.  Yes, and because mom did it that way, so do I.  I have substituted light Italian dressing as well for the vinegar and the results were very tasty.  Although the recipes that I am sharing are being copied exactly from the cards from my file, you can use the above method suggested for using the vinegar.  Also you can eliminate or add what ever you desire.

 

 Slovac Sour Cream Potato Salad

5 cups cooked and cubed potatoes

½- cup cucumber, sliced

1 small onion, minced or grated

4 ribs celery, diced

Salt and pepper, to taste

4 slices crisp bacon, diced

3 hard cooked eggs

 

¾ cup sour cream

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons vinegar

Paprika to garnish

 

Combine potatoes, cucumber, onion, celery, salt and pepper to taste.  Remove yolks from eggs and dice whites.  Add crisp bacon.  Mash yolks and combine with sour cream, mayonnaise and vinegar.  Mix well and pour over potato mixture.  Toss lightly.  Chill.  Sprinkle with paprika before serving.

 

Spicy Potato Salad with Ham

Dressing

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

¼ cup Dijon Mustard

½ -cup mayonnaise

1-teaspoon chili powder

1-teaspoon lime zest, grated

1-teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and black pepper to taste

 

2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes

8 ounces baked ham, cut into chunks

½ cup diced red onion, or to taste

Snipped fresh chives for garnish

 

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, and stir until smooth.  Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain and rinse under cold water and drain again. 

 In a large bowl, toss the potatoes, ham and red onion with the dressing and season with salt and pepper and sprinkle on chives, if using.

 Red Skinned Potato Salad

 6 medium red skinned potatoes, boiled in their skins and cubed

2 hard cooked eggs, chopped

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1-     Red or green pepper, chopped

2 scallions, minced

1 cucumber, chopped

Fresh parsley, chopped

½-cup toasted cashews, chopped

¼- cup toasted sunflower seeds

½-cup mayonnaise

½-cup Greek yogurt

`     ½ cup cider vinegar

1-teaspoon horseradish

½-teaspoon dry mustard

½-teaspoon dry tarragon

Dash of tamari

Reserve cooked potatoes in large bowl.  In a medium bowl combine remaining ingredients and gently add to potatoes.

 To toast the cashews and the sunflower seeds add them to a non-stick skillet on low to medium heat and toast, shaking pan so the nuts do not burn.

 

 Creamy Potato Salad

6 medium red potatoes

1/2 –cup light mayonnaise

¼- cup plain Greek yogurt

¼ cup low fat sour cream

1-Tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1-tablespoon white wine vinegar

½ teaspoon celery seeds

½ teaspoon onion powder

1/8- teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

 Prepare potatoes by peeling or leaving skin on and cutting into cubes. Place in saucepan. Combine remaining ingredients and toss gently to coat.  Cover and chill until serving.

 DRUM ROLL PLEASE-Now for the finale of my Potato Salad Extravaganza Recipes a special one for all those low carb-no carb people-actually I am not appeasing you and it actually upsets me when I think of all the nutrients that your body is being deprived of as many of you are not distinguishing the good carbs from the bad for you carbs.  Remember any diet that eliminates any food group is not beneficial to your health.

 Mock Cauliflower Potato Salad

 

 Actually you can use anyone of the above recipes for the dressing in this salad.  I made this last weekend an I must say, it was delicious, and so I will print it with the ingredients that I used.  The next time that I make it I will try a different dressing recipe.  Also, you can try a salad with ½ potatoes and ½ cauliflower.

 1 large head of cauliflower

1-tablespoon cider vinegar or Light Italian Dressing

1/3 cup of light mayonnaise

1/3-cup Greek yogurt-I used Fage

2-tablespoons hot dog sweet pickle relish

1-tablespoon Dijon mustard

¾ teaspoon celery salt-the lonely piece of celery that I had looked very sad!

4 hard boiled eggs, chopped

1/3- cup scallions

Cut cauliflower head into bite-size florets.  I cooked mine in the microwave oven with about 2   tablespoon of water covered and micro waved approximately 12 minutes.  Check for tenderness-as time to cook will depend on he size and the age of the cauliflower. Stir once or twice for even cooking Rinse cooked cauliflower under cold water; and drain well.  Toss with the cider vinegar. Marinate  while you prepare trhe dressing.  Add to the cauliflower mixture and stir gently.               

 I do hope that you enjoyed this elongated Home Page as much as I enjoyed creating it. I am excited planning my new format for my site.  I ask you to be patient as it is more complicated then I imagined and I am not the only person who is busy. Also being a member is free and only means that you will get an e-mail Blast announcing when the site is updated and occasional ideas, food tips and recipes. Simply sign up at the bottom of the page.

 

Just a reminder, the members only and the regular blog have not been updated and I am eliminating both in the new format.

Here I Go Again

15 Jun

 

NO EXCUSES-Referring to why there was not a scheduled update posted. Actually I cannot think of any legitimate reason why, other than I finally said yes to every invitation I received and threw my To Do List in the trash-of course I am doing double time now trying to catch up. But I have to admit the change of pace was certainly enjoyable-although I do feel just a little bit guilty, but I will get over it!

It all began with a two-week plus stay with my son and his wife at their beautiful log cabin home in up state New York doing all the things that I love to do. Just hanging with the kids-son/wife. Checking out new foods at local restaurants, meeting some great people at their church and although it snowed all day on Easter Sunday-did I mention that we were kind of in the woods-but we made Easter Sunday service and had a wonderful Easter dinner with my Daughter-In-Laws sister and her family.

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Had a great time antiquing and found some antique rolling pins for my collection and a few old cookbooks. It was also fun traveling around in my son’s new truck checking out the beautiful old fashion country barns built by the Amish that my son is interested in and by the end of my stay I was a pro at shimming up to my seat in the truck and slowly sliding out of it and I didn’t feel the pain in my back until I arrived home and to make matters worse, I fell asleep on a heating pad and burned my back.

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A sample model of the type of barn that my son is interested in, however his will be a three bay with a lean to for his boat. I was amazed at the beautiful construction and the fact that the frames are delivered on a flat bed and the Amish builders travel with it and construct it on your property. Like I said my visit was very interesting and I loved it.

My daughter and my granddaughter had an appointment at Ithaca College on Monday. The college is not to far from the cabin, so they planned to stay the night. On Monday afternoon I would join them on the trip home. My daughter-in-laws sister and her family joined us for Sunday evening dinner that I was delighted to prepare.

Pork Tenderloin is one of my favorite go-to meats because there are so many ways to prepare it and it takes 30 to 45 minutes to cook. It is a great dinner to prepare for guest and every one seems to enjoy it. I prepared the following menu for Sunday’s dinner.

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin-with Apple, Raisin, Pecan Bread stuffing.

Apple Gravy

Green Bean Amandine 

Homemade Apple Sauce

Lemon Meringue Pie

A pork tenderloin serves 3-4-I usually cook 3 or 4 tenderloins when I am having a dinner party.

Stuffing

1 ½ to 2 cups of dried bread cubes

Season to taste with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and parsley

This amount is to be used for each tenderloin, how ever if using prepared stuffing mix such as Pepperidge Farms, which is already prepared with some seasoning I suggest that you do a taste test first before adding additional seasonings.

Sauté diced celery, onions, mushrooms and shredded carrots in a skillet that a small amount of butter or Smart Balance has been melted-the amount of ingredients to be determined by the number of tenderloins used an to your particular taste.

Add mixture to bread cubes with cubed apples and raisins and pecans (optional) and add 1 slightly beaten egg.   Add 2 tablespoons of butter or Smart Balance to 1-1 ½ cups of apple juice and heat in a saucepan until butter is melted. Cool to the touch and add to bread cube mixture and blend well.

Butterfly tenderloin by slicing down the center, but not cutting all the way through-I use my electric knife. Stuff tenderloin mounding on top and tie with cooking cord in three places or use metal pins-the type used at Thanksgiving for a turkey-to hold the stuffing.

Spray a large baking pan with cooking spray and place tenderloins side by side in pan.   Sprinkle left over stuffing in pan. Cover stuffing on tenderloins with a piece of foil and cook in a 350 degrees oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue cooking for 20 more minutes or until a meat thermometer registers the meat at 170 Degrees F. Slice and serve with gravy and the following sides.

Apple Gravy-heat the desired amount of apple juice. Add 3 tablespoons cornstarch in ½ cup of additional apple juice and bring to a slow boil. To thicken, add more cornstarchs to cold apple juice to thin add more apple juice. For a darker color you can add a few drops of Gravy Master usually displayed in the spice section of your super market.

 

Green Beans Amandine-cook the amount needed-1/2 cup per person of fresh green beans that have been trimmed-remove end stems-with a small amount of water in the microwave until crisp-do not over cook as this is to prepare the beans for the next step.

 

Heat equal amounts of olive oil and Smart Balance or butter in a skillet until blended. Add 1-2 teaspoons of chopped garlic and green beans and sauté turning often. Add a small amount of salt to retain color and pepper to taste. Add almonds. If desired you can toast almonds in a dry skillet before adding.

 

Homemade Applesauce-Put 6 to 8 apples and 1/3 cup of water or apple juice into a saucepan, cover and cook over moderate heat without stirring until apples are mushy.

Shake pan from time to time to prevent sticking. Add 1/3 cup of sugar-exact amount will depend on the taste and tartness of apples. Add a pinch of salt, stir just to blend and cook for a minute or two longer.   Remove from heat and whip with a spoon to a stiff sauce. A small amount of ground cinnamon may be added for a darker and spicy flavor.

Slow cooker/ Crock Pot method-add 6 to 8 apples quartered, pared, cored and coarsely chopped, ¾ to 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg and 1 cup or less of water or apple juice to Slow Cooker/Crock Pot, stir to combine all ingredients and cook on low 5-6 hours.

Note: It is a little tricky to write a recipe for applesauce, because the type of apple used makes a difference as does the age-older apples need more moisture. As always with all recipes, let your taste be the guide.

 

Lemon Meringue Pie 

¼ – cup cornstarch

2 tablespoons flour

1 ¼ cups sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

1-½ cups boiling water

3 eggs separated

1/3 cup strained lemon juice

2 tablespoons butter

½ teaspoon grated lemon rind

Baked 9-inch shell

1/3- cup sugar

Blend cornstarch and sugar, and salt into saucepan; add boiling water gradually and blend thoroughly. Cook over direct heat, stirring constantly, boiling until thick and clear, about 3 minutes. Beat egg yolks and stir in a little of the hot mixture; pour back into saucepan, stir to blend and cook 2 minutes longer with constant stirring. Remove from heat; add lemon juice slowly in small portions. Mixing well between each addition. Add butter and lemon rind, mixing well. Pour into cooled pie shell. Cool. Beat egg whites until stiff, add the 1/3-cup sugar gradually, and continue beating until thick and smooth.

Pile lightly and quickly over pie filling so as to touch edges of crust all around. Bake in 350 degrees F. oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on cake rack before cutting.

I hear you-yes it is easier to buy a Jell-O Lemon Meringue Pie Mix and sip up a pie in no time, but it will not taste like this pie.

 

 

Next a Mother’s day treat from my daughters a week-end at a great Bed and Breakfast in Newport Rhode Island. We had a wonderful time visiting all the beautiful shops and having dinner at some of the best restaurants.

The highlight was our stay at the Almondy Inn Bed and Breakfast, simply relaxing and enjoying the Victorian décor and delighting in the beautifully presented healthy breakfast each morning and the meet and greet wine and cheese at 5:00 P.M.

The Innkeepers Evelyne and Herber Valkenberg go above and beyond to make your stay comfortable and memorable. If you are planning a summer get-a-way I would certainly recommend the Almondy Inn in Newport Rhode Island. Another plus, the Inn is located a hop, skip and a jump-a short block from Thames Street and the harbor the hub of Newport attractions and the trolley tours to the famous Newport Mansions.Photoshoot 013.jpg

The foyer and the entrance to the living room is so unbelievable elegant and so welcoming.

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The elegant dining room where guest meet in the morning to start their day enjoying a beautifully served healthy breakfast.

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I am sure that I have enticed many of you with the wonderful photos of the Inn and I think it is worth sharing the following information:

Almondy Inn
25 Pelham Street
Newport, Rhode Island 02840
Toll Free 1-800 478-6155

I was like the Energizer Bunny because my activities didn’t end. I continued with a sleepover for my grandson’s 13th birthday. We always have fun playing all the Wii games that he brings. We have a long-standing tally sheet where we list the winner for each game and at the end of the year the loser has to do something extravagant for the winner. I am saving my pennies, because it is a no brainier who the winner will be.

Then it was show time and although my granddaughter attends a girl’s private school, she performed in a musical at a local boy’s private school. The musical was wonderful and so professional. Honestly, I am kind of a musical nut, which probably stems from my teenage years when in high school I belonged to the Drama Club and was a wannabe actress. It rubbed off on my daughter who was very active in high school and now my granddaughter who is actually very talented in that field and has appeared in many musicals and I bet you can guess who her biggest fan is.

It is amazing how talented kids are and how hard they work to produce these wonderful shows. Actually, this performance was much more entertaining than some of the professional productions that I have seen over the years, and I have seen many. I urge you to support your local schools’ productions. I guarantee you that you will be amazed.

 Fairfield College Preparatory School’s Presentation of

THE DROWSY CHAPERONE

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To round out the remainder of my lackadaisical but busy schedule I celebrated a belated Easter celebration with all the fixings, including an Easter egg hunt at my daughters, attended two family birthday parties and enjoyed a wonderful evening at the Schubert Theater in New Haven enjoying the Broadway show Matilda with my Theater Arts enthusiastic grand daughter.

 

CREATIVE CORNER-In the Creative Corner this update is Tracy from New York who shared a photo of her Chocolate Dipped Ritz Cracker and Peanut Butter Cookies.

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Simply sandwich peanut butter between 2 Ritz crackers and dip into melted chocolate-I use Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Chips because it contains 60% of Bittersweet Chocolate, the heart healthy kind. I heat chips in the microwave at 50% power for 30 seconds. The chips will retain their shape until stirred. Repeat process until all chips are melted. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable shortening for every 2 cups of chips.   Microwave an additional 30 seconds on 50% power. Stir until completely smooth. My go-to chocolate, I use it for every thing. I go through a few 3-pound bags every month that I purchase at BJ’s.

I have been over indulging on these cookies because dark chocolate seems to be very healthy and to make them a more healthier I use whole grain Ritz. Did you know that research shows that people that eat chocolate 3-times a week live a full year longer than people whom don’t. Also eating chocolate is like eating broccoli because they both have flavonoids, the most effective antioxidants in fighting heart disease. The most recent studies have shown that people who eat chocolate daily are happier than those who don’t eat chocolate, because chocolate contains theobromine a chemical that produces feelings of euphoria. OK Tracy from New York, I will take 2 tonight and call you in the morning!

If you have a creative recipe, craft or idea and would like to share it with our readers you can send a photo with or without a recipe to my E-mail contact listed on the left of the home page.

 

Notice: I am in the process of updating and redesigning my web site with a new and user friendly Home Page, which will include more recipes with, photos and hopefully more input from readers. I will continue to post personal photos pertaining to my home and garden and interesting subjects and the gallery will also feature my Creative Corner photos, many which have appeared on Google and Bing.

Seems like yesterday that I introduced my food column Cooking For Today to the local newspaper as a weekly in 1988 and after a short hiatus I continued with the column until 2008 when I introduced my web-site HealthyCookingForToday.com. Producing the site has been a very rewarding experience and the research that I do motivates me and makes me accountable for my own health. I do as the nutritional researchers say-“Eat an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, eat poultry and fish and eat red meat in moderation, choose whole grains for fiber, keep hydrated by drinking at least the equivalent of 8 glasses of water a day, exercise at least 30 minutes a day, get 6-8 hours of sleep and have at least 2-3 glasses of red wine a week. Also have a hobby, read to keep you mind active and be social. Sounds like a good plan, doesn’t it?

Snow, Snow, Beautiful Snow!

1 Mar

I’m Back, an unfortunately so was the SNOW! Yes, a few weeks ago we had an every other day snow event here in New England and although I always said I loved the snow, now I am afraid that my age has finally caught up with me and I have to take that statement back.

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More snow, which meant that there would be no mail again and as you can see, my neighbors mailbox is once again buried in the snow. The next day it warmed up during the day, but the temperature dipped below freezing during the night and then came the ice.

I guess now it is a love/hate situation-I love the memories of coming home from midnight mass on Christmas Eve and seeing all the Christmas lights and the snow falling softly and arriving home an immediately putting the Christmas tree lights on, lighting a fire in the fireplace and of course putting the Yule log station on the television to listen to the Christmas carols. The view outside always put us in a festive mood and my husband and I would have a glass of wine and a midnight snack-traditionally my special holiday nut and poppy seed rolls- and then we would be up all night completing the finishing touches on the Christmas family celebration.

Yes, our Christmas family get-together was not just dinner, but an all day affair, which began with the unwrapping of gifts, all sizes and shapes. I usually missed this part, because I took time to oversee the food set-up and preparation. The dinner was set up buffet style in the kitchen consuming every space that was available and to accommodate our guest we used the dining room with tables set up in the living room. Always trying to satisfy every ones taste buds there were many dishes to choose from. With all the eating, talking joking and laughing the dinner lasted for many hours.

After dinner we would have our family grab bag, with everyone bringing a gift worth a set price. We use the usual rules-everyone receives a number that indicates their turn in selecting a wrapped gift that is displayed on a table. Others can take the gift three times only, and then the person holding it keeps it. Honestly it is so much fun and it can get a little violent (only kidding, just a lot of shouting.)

The dessert buffet is an array of goodies including special holiday treats from our guest-there is no calorie counting. After we finish dessert we are ready for the big event CHRISTMAS BINGO. I would purchase gift items during the year and make special food gift baskets for prizes. All kinds of winning bingo combinations were played and this would go on for a while, until all the prizes were won.

One year we had a special grab bag and to participate you had to make a donation to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. We told the family that we would match whatever amount was donated. We were shocked when we saw what was in the basket and although it was much more than expected we kept our promise.

Some of my readers are probably saying, “Now what does all this have to do with cooking?” Actually nothing, but it does have to do with cooking up ideas and food for thought and that has always been the premise of all my columns and this web site. Also, I can’t tell you how therapeutic it is to have such comforting memories.

I want you to know that I just didn’t go on an extended vacation and forget all about you. Actually, I took a short hiatus from producing my website due to a string of pulled muscles on my right side-neck-shoulder-arm-which made it almost impossible to work on my computer. In the future I will heed the advice from everyone and choose to do tasks that are more age appropriate and leave the ladder climbing and heavy lifting to someone else.

The good news is that with a little help, I was able to put a few decorations outside to make the house look somewhat festive. The bad news is that because of all the snow, ice and freezing temperatures the decorations are still outside. Gosh you just feel like wrapping yourself up in your snuggle wrap and hold on to a hot cup of soup.

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My Christmas decorations just began to thaw out last week!

Actually the best that we can do is to think spring, so I stopped to pick up some spring flowers and put up some spring decorations and to my amazement I feel as if I have a little bit of spring to my step. Or is it my new pair of Merrell Air Cushion shoes that I am wearing?

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THINK SPRING

Actually, I love a hot cup of soup and did you know that a cup or a bowl of soup is a healthy way to get all the nutrients that you need without all the calories. The best thing is that you can make a healthy meal for pennies by using ingredients that you have in you refrigerator, pantry or freezer. No recipe needed as long as you have a few Basic ingredients on hand such as a source of protein, vegetables, seasonings, and water and if needed flavored salt free stock or broth. My pantry always has a variety of spices and purchased and homegrown dried herbs and chicken, beef, vegetable and seafood no sodium stock to supplement my slow simmered (bone) stock, except when I am making a vegetarian soup. My go too commercial stock is Kitchen Basics No Sodium Stock.

Last week I was having a conversation with a friend about making soup and when asked how I made soup, I was quickly to suggest that for a non-vegetarian soup, it is a must to use bones from the protein source you are using, because that is where most of the nutrients are derived from. For instance when making chicken soup I prefer using a chicken carcass-do not ever dispose of a store bought rotisserie chicken carcass, because they make wonderful stock and always have enough meat on them to add to the soup. As a matter of fact, my daughters always give me the left over chicken parts and ham bones and I will be sharing two great soup ideas them today.

Actually, I didn’t learn this from a cookbook, but remembered it from my youth when it was obvious that I was in my comfort zone when I was in the kitchen watching my mom cook. On the subject of soup, mom always said to always use a fowl when making soup because it was the bones that made the soup healthy. I remember going to the market for mom, which was a little mom and pop store about a block away and asking the owner for a fowl and he knew exactly what I wanted and he would say “Mommy must be making soup today.” Not to long ago I went to the butcher department in my super market and asked the butcher if he had a fowl. I think he thought I was being nasty and said with a strange look “I never heard of it.” REALLY! They probably just call it plain old chicken today, but I think the fowl mom referred to was a domestic raised hen bigger boned and had more fat. I could be wrong.

Anyway this is so strange, because yesterday I was reading a magazine and I came across an article about a eatery in New York that is very popular with health conscience New Yorkers that sells soup like mom and grandma made and they call it Bone Soup and it cost $4.00 a cup. Today having my lunch, I was watching “The Chew” and this same restaurant was mentioned and it is called Brodo and it is a big hit. By the way, I think that I discovered another comfort zone, writing HealthyCookingForToday and I realized just how much I missed writing it. Also, I apologize for getting a little bit carried away.

DUMP SOUP

(A silly take on the “What is Old is New craze “Dump Cakes and Dinners)

I am not using a traditional format for this Dump Soup, I am just going to walk, no talk you through it.

On snowy Monday, I made a Chicken Vegetable, Rice Dump Soup. I began by using the carcass from a roasted crock-pot chicken that I made a few days ago. I first picked the carcass of excess chicken to add later to the broth. I placed the carcass in my soup pot, an covered it with cool water and brought the contents to a boil, then lowered the heat to simmer for a least an hour or until your taste buds indicate that the broth has taken on a distinctive flavor. This next step may seem tedious, but it is essential to remove any bone particles. Remove the carcass and drain the broth into a large bowl and return it to the pot. Add flavored broth if needed.

Now this is when you become creative-check out your refrigerator for left over vegetables and your freezer for any frozen vegetables you would like to add and your pantry for chicken stock, rice or noodles or my favorite bow tie pasta and perhaps some canned tomatoes-or if you prefer some fresh grape or cherry tomatoes, halved.

Add some diced celery and carrot and a whole onion that has been slashed criss crossed on top so has to release the juices. Season to suit your taste with salt and pepper. Slice or dice the remaining ingredients and add to pot. Simmer until all vegetables are barely tender. Add chicken, rice or noodles or pasta-my favorite-bow tie pasta-and simmer until tender. Enjoy!

This next soup recipe is adapted from one that my friend shared that was her mom’s favorite. The base of the soup is a ham bone, and with Easter only a few weeks away that ham bone and the left over ham pieces will come in handy.

FLASH-I just heard on the noon weather report that there is a snowstorm predicted for Friday-the first day of spring-that may produce as much as four inches of snow. WHAT!

Mary’s Barley Soup

1 ham bone with meat on it

1-cup pearl barley

1-cup carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 small can tomatoes

1-cup potatoes, diced

1 onion

Season to taste with the following: Ketchup, salt, pepper, paprika, caraway seeds and 1 bay leaf or seasonings of choice.

Cut the meat from the ham bone into small pieces and set aside. Wash ham bone and put in pot with enough water to cover. Add one cup barley and bring to boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Fill pot with water and add carrots, celery, onion-which has been slashed cress cross on top to release juices-tomatoes and seasonings. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour.

Add the reserved meat and potatoes and simmer for another hour or until potatoes are tender. Delicious!

CREATIVE CORNER

My creative corner features recipes and photos of reader’s creative ideas for food, crafts, decorating ideas or for any creative endeavor you would like to share. Simply e-mail to my contact e-mail CookingForToday@aol.com.

Guess who is featured in the Creative Corner today? Me! I am sharing a photo of the diaper center piece I made for my grandsons wives baby shower. Our new baby was a beautiful baby girl.

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Well if you are still hankering-hey where did that come from-for more soup recipes, you will find a great and easy recipe, which is especially great for the working mom who wants to serve a healthy hearty soup to her family without much effort, check out my blog. Also you will find a wonderful Crock-pot Creamy Potato Soup on my Members Only Blog.

PREPARING TO SAY GOODBYE TO SUMMER

14 Sep

Although August will be behind us, summer isn’t officially over until the first day of autumn on the 23 of September. But, I have been harvesting my garden for the last few weeks, it still has a long way to go until complete fruition. I certainly have been delighted with all the wonderful tomatoes and peppers and herbs that it has produced and I have been very busy in my kitchen experimenting with some great tasting recipes using my tomatoes plus a huge basket from my son-in-laws garden-you have not tasted a tomato until you tried one of his-actually my seedlings are grown by him from the previous years tomato seeds.  I also have been creating all kinds of delectable recipes from the zucchini from my friends garden and that is what my update is all about today, using summers bounty to fortify our bodies with all those nutrients to sustain us this winter, which according to the new Farmer’s Almanac is going to be a very cold and snowy one.

 But before I get into sharing my recipes, I want to take a minute to acknowledge the fact that HealthyCookingForToday.com was 6 years old on August 8 and this update begins the first one to kick off year 7.  When I first began writing my cooking column in our local newspaper way back in 1988 my dream was to produce a column that would be interesting reading for cooks and non-cooks alike.  I wanted the column to feature food for the mind, as well as the body with researched information about health, nutrition and food preparation sprinkled with a little bit of humor, personal stories about myself and family and timely topics.  When the newspaper decided to shut down in 2008, my family suggested that I get a website and today although the site doesn’t draw the thousand plus hits as better known sites do, I am very happy with what I am doing.  Unfortunately, like everything else, to get your site out there, it takes money.  My feelings are if someone enjoys it and benefits by it in some way, they will tell someone else and in my book that is the best advertising.

 Back to my garden an all those beautiful tomatoes, which are doing so well this year-I can’t say that about my basil, as it is the saddest looking plant in the garden.  Tonight I am going to make tomato puree in my Vita Mix machine-you will find information about my Vita Mix in my Word Press Archives by clicking Classics on my home page and using the Search Bar enter Vita Mix or tomatoes.  I simply quarter the tomatoes and place them in the machine, skin, seeds and all.  I puree them and strain them to remove the seeds; the skins are incorporated into the puree.  I pour the puree in to freezer safe containers and place them in the refrigerator over night to settle so as to pour off the extra liquid that rises to the top.  I then label them and place them in the freezer or you can make your tomato sauce and freeze it for a quick Italian dinner, which I will be doing tomorrow using the Crock-Pot Tomato Sauce recipe that I am sharing today-as always add or eliminate any ingredient to suit your taste.

 All set to Vita Mix the tomatoes for my tomato sauce.

     Perhaps you would like to try my favorite Crock-Pot Slow Cooker Italian tomato sauce-so easy to prepare, no stirring or watching the pot and dinner can be on the table in no time.  Cooking in a Crock-Pot is like having your own Personal Chef.

  Crock-Pot Italian Tomato Sauce

 ¼ cup olive oil

½ cup onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

(For busy cooks, frozen chopped onion and bottled minced garlic in water is available at your Super Market)

 2 small cans tomato paste

2 tomato paste cans of water

3 teaspoons dry oregano, crushed-or to taste

2 teaspoons dried basil-or to taste

1 bay leaf

1 table spoon (or to taste) Parmesan cheese

1-tablespoon sugar (to neutralize the acid of the tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste 

2 large cans Italian tomatoes with juice

For a chunky sauce use whole tomatoes and for a smoother sauce use chopped or diced

Or

Use 1 can of tomatoes and 1 can tomato puree-I will be using my fresh tomato puree

In a large skillet heat the olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic lightly.  Add two cans of tomato paste and two tomato paste cans of water.  Blend well and add the oregano, basil, bay leaf and sugar.  Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring often.

 Place mixture in the Crock-Pot and add remaining ingredients.  Cook on high for 1 hour, turn to low and forget about it for 7 or 8 hours-or if necessary, you set on low until you arrive home and set on high for approximately 15 minutes.  Stir sauce; remove bay leaf and put the water on to boil for the pasta, get out some nice crusty Italian bread, some grated cheese and presto, dinner is served.  For a meat sauce, brown 1-1/2 pounds of ground meat and drain and add to the Crock-Pot with the tomatoes.  Brown Italian sausage and add to the Crock-Pot with the tomatoes.  You can make you favorite meatball recipe and brown them or bake them and add to the Crock-Pot during the last hour of cooking to heat.

 M friend shared some beautiful large zucchini with me and instead of Eggplant Parmesan I made Zucchini Parmesan using my Crock-Pot Tomato Sauce.  I made my tomato puree from the first basket of tomatoes from my garden and a few days latter the bush was over loaded with tomatoes again.  I am delighted because although tomatoes were at first thought to be the forbidden fruits of Eden an were actually called “love apples” and were thought to be inedible. Today, however are herald as being extremely healthy and contain 10 vitamins, the for runner being Vitamin A.  Tomatoes also contain 9 minerals with Potassium with 239 mg. being on top of the list.  Lycopene-the bright red carotene an carotenoid and photochemical- that is found in tomatoes and other red fruit and vegetables has proven to be a powerful antioxidant used to fight many forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease. It has been noted because of the high rates of prostate cancer, men should consume cooked tomatoes (sauce) often because cooking the tomatoes makes the Lycopene easier to absorb.

 Zucchini Parmesan

1 or 2 large zucchini

2 eggs slightly beaten

1-Tablespoon water

1- cup flour (more depending on the amount of zucchini to be breaded)

Panko Italian breadcrumbs

Canola Oil

  Cut zucchini rounds fairly thin and coat with flour; dip in egg and coat with crumbs.  Heat oil in skillet and brown zucchini a few minutes on each side.  Line a tray with paper towels and drain zucchini.  In a baking pan large enough to accommodate the zucchini pour a layer of tomato sauce and add a layer of zucchini, cover with sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and a layer of mozzarella cheese.  Continue to layer, ending with the layer of mozzarella cheese.  Bake in a 350 degrees F. oven for approximately 30 minutes. This can be prepared a day before and simply placed in oven to heat and to melt the cheese.  Eggplant is made the same way.

 My zucchini Parmesan ready to be served one evening on my sun porch.

 

Last weekend I had guest for dinner an of course I wanted to make something healthy and in season.  So what else?  Zucchini of course, but not just a side vegetable serving, I wanted it to represent the main course.  I worked up what I thought was a very tasty stuffed zucchini with several diced vegetables from my garden and served it with my version of bruschetta Oh, and for the appetizer I served a Banana Blueberry Creamy Sorbet.  Yep! That is all that it was made of and it was scrumptious.  You can’t get any healthier then that.  I made the sorbet in my Yonanas-love it!  This morning I made a breakfast parfait for my granddaughter and myself-banana, strawberry and peach creamy sorbet with a granola topping.  Soooo Good!  It taste like soft serve ice cream, but it is only fruit. Check it out on Yonanas.com.  Hey, I don’t get compensated for this; I just want to share this healthy suggestion with you.  Also, I buy ripened bananas for pennies and peel them wrap them in foil and freeze them to use in the machine. as any fruit that you use must be frozen.

 My delicious stuffed zucchini 

 

 I made 4 because I had several zucchinis and a few days latter for the second time around I served the zucchini topped with my fresh tomatoes and fresh shredded mozzarella cheese melted under the broiler for a few minutes and instead of bread I served freshly picked corn from the farm up the street. I just felt healthier just looking at the plate.

 

Actually you really do not need a standard recipe to make the stuffed zucchini because there are so many variations, although the steps to make it are similar.  As always, I suggest that you do your own thing and try different ingredients.

 Step 1

Scrap out the seeds and make a shell, not to thin.

 Step 2

Prepare all the ingredients and add to a large bowl-I used sweet Italian sausage with caseins removed and used my processor to finely chop the sausage and sautéed the sausage until lightly browned 

Step 3

I used shredded carrots, diced red peppers, onion, garlic, and zucchini from the scraping and mushrooms.  Added a small amount of olive oil to pan that the sausage was cooked in and sautéed the vegetable lightly and added to the bowl with the sausage.

 Step 4

Mix seasoned dry breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese (optional) and 1 egg slightly beaten to the bowl. Thoroughly combine and stuff the zucchini. 

Step 5

Bake in a 350 degrees oven for approximately 30 minutes.  All the ingredients except for the zucchini are already cooked and the zucchini should be cooked until tender.

 Your can sprinkle the top with shredded Mozzarella cheese and cook until melted.

 My tomato bushes keep producing handfuls of tomatoes, coupled with all the beautiful tomatoes from my daughters and friends-they all know that I will use them before they go bad and yes I did.  I enjoyed the delicious caprese salad ( I love this with a balsamic reduction, but equally as good with a sprinkle of Italian seasoning and a splash of olive oil) with all my Italian dishes and during the month I tried several versions of stuffed tomatoes, which for me are a meal in them self.  Also we all enjoyed the bruschetta that I served with every thing.

 A few days ago I checked my garden and this is what I found.  Today I was shocked to see the number of tomatoes on the bush and how healthy and strong the stems were.  Honestly, I was so busy this summer; I am embarrassed to say that I only fertilized the plants once.

  

Today when I went out to water the garden this is what I found. Both plants are loaded so heavily with fruit that I had to add more stakes to support them.  I am just amazed at the amount of tomatoes that they have produced.  Actually I only have 2 tomato plants that are planted in containers along with 4 pepper plants and 2 containers of parsley and 1 eggplant plant. Included in my garden are my herbs-Egyptian onion, tarragon, rosemary basil, lemon basil, oregano, thyme, lemon thyme, marjoram, variegated sage, purple sage, lovage, chives, garlic chives, spearmint, peppermint, pineapple mint, orange mint, apple mint and a small patch of mesclun. There is nothing quite like watching your garden growing and actually it is quite amazing.

 

CAPRESE SALAD:  fresh large juicy tomatoes sliced in rounds, fresh mozzarella, sliced in rounds, basil and a drizzle of olive oil, balsamic reduction or Italian dressing.

 BRUSCHETTA:  a simple mixture of chopped fresh tomatoes, chopped olives, basil and chopped garlic over olive oiled brushed slices of a baguette or rustic bread.  I like to sprinkle shredded mozzarella on top and broil until melted.  I don’t toast the bread first, but some do.

I have so many wonderful tasty stuffed tomato recipes to share, so it was very difficult for me to decide which to use for today’s update.  However, always one of my favorite no cook easy recipe is tomato cups stuffed with tuna salad.  Simply cut tomato in half and hollow out.  Prepare a tasty tuna salad-I usually add diced pickles or sweet pickle relish, sprinkle of onion powder and ground black pepper.  To bind together I mix light mayonnaise and non-fat sour cream or yogurt. I stuff the tomato and chill until serving.

 For the kids you can stuff he tomato with macaroni and cheese.  You can use your own or simple use boxed varieties like Kraft or Annie’s. Actually they are acceptable food and contain real cheese and let’s face it “The kids love it.”

As long as we are talking tuna, and why not, because tuna can count as one of our two fish a week dinners suggested by health experts, you may want to try this next recipe.

 Tuna Topped Tomatoes

 4 large tomatoes cut horizontally in halves

½ cup Heart Smart Bisquick baking mix

½ cup of shredded cheese-I have used cheddar, Swiss, American

¼ cup light mayonnaise

1 whole egg and 2 egg whites

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 package frozen broccoli, thawed and drained Spray a square pan that will accommodate the tomatoes and place them cup side up in pan.  Mix remaining ingredients and spread evenly on cut side of each tomato half.  Bake in a 350 degrees F. oven uncovered untitopping is puffed and golden brown about 25 minutes.

 Last evening after writing about my garden and some of the tasty dishes that I made during the week using all of the fresh vegetables I actually was craving one of my Mesclun salads. Although we were experiencing a sudden downpour, which we desperately needed, I donned my hooded rain jacket and boots and with a flash light in hand went outside in my garden and picked a hand full of Mesclun (field lettuce) and a few plum tomatoes for the salad I would make.  I added sliced apple, mandarin oranges, walnuts, feta cheese and raisins and dressed it with a raspberry vinaigrette and topped it with a freshly picked Nasturium from my garden-Nasturiums are edible flowers that have a peppery taste. The salad was so delicious and went great with the Manhattan clam chowder that a friend made.

 

 My yummy mesclun salad 

Always check my blog and Members Only Blog for additional healthy recipes. Not a member simply sign up below, it is free and only means that you will receive an e-mail when HealthyCookingForToday.com is updated and you will have access to the Members Only Blog.  IT IS FREE.

 Also readers of HealthyCookingForToday.com can share photos of their cooking and baking creation or craft and decorating ideas-along with their recipes or directions if they want to share-  send using my contact information and they will be featured in my Creative Corner and will also be featured on Google for non-readers searches.

CHANGE OF SCENERY

12 Jul

Summer is moving right along and a little too quickly for me. June came and went like a welcomed Summer Breeze. Fortunately, I did attend my grandson’s graduation from High School and his fabulous graduation party at a lovely country inn, and spent 10 days visiting my son and daughter-in-law and their boys-actually one of the boys is interning in California, and I did miss not seeing him. I had a wonderful time and like summer the time went to quickly.

My grandson occupied me home on Amtrak departing from Washington. It was a fun experience and I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute if I had to do it again. The ride was very comfortable with reclining seats. It was very relaxing and an added perk, the train has Wi Fi . The coach was very quiet, no load chatter, because everyone was busy with their various electronic do-dads.

It was great to spend quality time with my son and daughter-in-law. On my son’s day we drove through some beautiful country and visited the historical Civil War Battlefields-this resonated with me because I enjoy reading novels baste around the old south and the Civil War. One of my old time favorites of course was “Gone With The Wind” by Margaret Mitchell, so you can imagine how excited I was when “ Scarlet “ by

Alexandra Ripley, the sequel to Gone With The Wind was published in September 1991                             and several years later “ Brett Butler’s People” the authorized novel based on Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind was published in November 2007. It felt like Scarlet and Brett were people I actually knew and I was anxious to know how their lives turned out. Standing on the grounds where so many died was chilling. We stopped for lunch in a quaint Historical Tavern on our way to West Virginia to spend some time at a casino-a plus, I came back with a few more dollars in my pocket.

What did my daughter-in-law and I do on our “Girls day out?” Shopped of course, and had our favorite salad at the same restaurant that we ate in last year during my visit, and would you believe we had the same waitress and she remembered us. We also spent a day visiting Hidden Brook Winery, one of the beautiful wineries that Virginia has to offer for some wine tasting and absorbing all the great information pertaining to wine. We had lunch, which included a selected wine on the cozy porch that overlooked the beautiful landscaping, and enjoyed the live entertainment and the wine of course.

battlefield canon

Battlefield

As the map depicts, the battlefields extend for miles and miles and is untouched land (sacred ground), a living memorial to the men who lost their lives in the Civil War.

Our wonderful afternoon at the Hidden Brook Winery.
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During the week when everyone was working Tassy (pet cat) who developed an attachment to me wouldn’t leave my side, so she and I hung out and just enjoyed doing nothing all day. I did make three dinners for the family, he made me feel useful and it was very well appreciated. We did however dine out several times an honestly I was afraid to get on the scale when I got home and too my surprise, I lost three pounds.

I really was amazed; especially after the delightful dinner my daughter-in-law cooked the night before I left. She wanted to try a new recipe for lamb meatballs with yogurt cucumber sauce and shish kebabs. She included a medley of fresh vegetables and a delicious cucumber sauce. The best part was that she cooked every thing on the grill in no time at all. Now if I call her tell her how much that I enjoyed her dinner, I think that she may share the recipe with us.

Daughter-in-law grilling her fabulous dinner
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Since I have been home, I am slowly getting back in the swing of things and the first thing that I did was restock my fresh vegetables because I just can’t bring myself to eat anything but fresh vegetables in season. Thank goodness that our Farmers Market has move to what we call Paradise Green, which is just down the street from me-well it is a long street. I bought so much, but I delighted my taste buds and used every thing that I purchased. I FEEL SO HEALTHY!

I do try to eat fish twice a week and what could be more refreshing than a Cod Cob Salad on a hot summer day. Also I used a left over chicken carcass from a rotisserie chicken that I made in my Set It and Forget It Rotisserie, I am sure that you have seen their Infomercial on TV-well I have had mine for years and I love it. I used the carcass to make a wonderful stock for my chicken soup with my carrots, zucchini and yellow squash noodles, which were made with my newest gadget the Veggetti.

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My grilled chicken salad contained just about all my left over pieces of this and that in my refrigerator, fruits, vegetables, nuts and Feta cheese. I also served the salad with marinated grilled chicken tenders and a strawberry and raspberry vinaigrette. Delicious!

WHO NEEDS A RECIPE FOR A SALAD? Actually that was a comment on Face Book when someone posted a recipe for a salad. So instead of recipes, I am just going to throw out SOME IDEAS.

For the Cod Cob Salad, I used chopped boiled egg, chopped fresh tomatoes, and oven baked panko breaded Cod cut into one inch pieces, cucumber chopped and crumbled bacon. I served it with a ranch dressing with added sweet pickle relish and crumbled blue cheese.

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For the Grilled Chicken Salad, I used chicken tenders marinated in an Italian Dressing-oil, vinegar, Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese. I grilled the chicken inside on my handy, dandy cast iron grill pan. I tossed my fruit (strawberries, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries) nuts and Feta cheese gently with mesclun (mixed baby greens) and served with a homemade strawberry and raspberry vinaigrette by placing the berries, a tablespoon of Sorrel Raspberry All Fruit Spread, a splash of olive oil and vinegar in a processor and pulsing until of desired consistency.

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The chicken vegetable soup was a no-brainer. I picked some of the chicken off the carcass and reserve it.   Placed carcass in a large soup pot and covered the chicken carcass with cold water and let it simmer for at least a half hour. I strained the stock in another pot and removed the carcass and bone remnants and returned it to the original pot. I added a peeled onion, celery and parsley tied in a bunch and seasoned to taste. I simmered the stock on a very low heat for approximately 45 minutes. To add additional flavor I added 1 to 2 cups of unsalted boxed chicken stock (I use unsalted Kitchen Basics) and added the vegetable noodles and any pieces of chicken picked from the carcass. Cooking until vegetables are tender. I served my soup with a Whole Wheat bagel sprinkled with a small amount of shredded mozzarella cheese and topped with a fresh large tomato a splash of Italian dressing, a sprinkle of Italian seasoning and a thin layer of mozzarella cheese and broiled on low until the cheese was melted.

SEE- NO RECIPES, JUST SUGGESTIONS!

I Certainly had a veggie explosion this week eating through my farmer market’s purchases of zucchini, yellow squash, green beans that I prepared in my Ziploc Steaming Bags with a pat of Smart Balance, Herbal Seasoning-I make my own no-salt seasoning, but try Mrs. Dash Salt-Free which is readily available in most Super Markets-you just microwave for a few minutes-directions on the bag. They are great and everyone that I recommended them too just loved them. I also bought corn, blueberries and lettuce and

Cherries.

Cherries are in season and they are so delicious and oh so good for you especially if you suffer from arthritis or gout. Excess uric acid in the blood is what causes pain, swelling, tenderness and inflammation. It seems that uric acid can be considerable reduced by eating cherries. Cherries can also fight cancer because the deep red color of cherries comes from flavonoids, the powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body and helps keep cancer cells from growing out of control and the deeper the color the more beneficial they are. Also drinking a glass of tart cherry juice before bedtime will induce restful sleep.   Cherry juice contains melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy. At one time I would have to go to a health food store to purchase my cherry juice, but to my delight, I have been able to find it in most Super Markets.

Kara from Connecticut is in my CREATIVE CORNER today with her healthy patriotic delectable fruit tray centerpiece for her 4th of July buffet- yummmmm! You can join us in our CREATIVE CORNER by sharing your creative endeavors with our readers-cooking, crafts, decorating ideas or whatever you think would be of interest. It is fun and as one participant shared in an e-mail “ I told all my friends and I felt like a celebrity” well I wouldn’t go that far!

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Don’t miss my blog for a great Yogurt Blueberry Muffin recipe and my member’s only blog for a great zucchini bread recipe that makes two loaves. Not a member? Just follow the directions on the bottom of the page. It is free and only means that you receive an e-mail blast when the site is updated and as a member you have access to my members only blog.

It’s Here!

8 Jun

SPRING-Well I thought it was, but today the wind is strong and the air is cold and this daily change in the weather is doing me in.  The pollen count is high and reports indicate that allergy sufferers are going to have a difficult spring and early summer, especially people who are allergic to mold (ME) because the ground was so saturated with all the snow this winter. This misery has been going on for two weeks already and today it feels like day one.

 We were blessed with a few warm sunny days a few weeks ago, but last week when I awoke and pulled up the shades in my bedroom the sun was shining brightly, like a typical spring day, but the roof of my family room was covered with a coating of you guessed it that four letter word SNOW

 The day before my grand daughter and I were sitting on my sun porch having lunch and couldn’t help but notice how pretty my perennial garden looked with the early spring ground cover.  My grand daughter was anxious to try out my new camera-a birthday gift from my kids.  Actually she was instructing me how to use all the bells and whistles on my Nikon 3100 and asked if she could take a picture of the flowers. It sure looked like spring that day.

 

    My grown cover in my perennial garden

 I honestly thought that we had the last of winter, but although the sun is shining and it looks like a warm spring day, you can hear the wind howling and it is chilly out side. Honestly, my heart goes out to all the people in various parts of the country who suffered such hardships because of the weather this winter.

 Although I had planned to post this update before Easter, I was unable to because I was coping with my allergies and when I felt well enough I had to prepare some traditional Easter food that I planned to bring to my oldest daughter and her husbands home, who were hosting Easter for the family.

 Easter was always a very special holiday for our family.  After attending Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday evening I would work until wee hours in the morning preparing the food for my holiday brunch buffet.  Awake very early after just a few hours of sleep to prepare the ham for the oven and ready all the other dishes and believe me there were many as to please everyone’s taste buds. Things have changed for me somewhat and this will be the second year that I haven’t celebrated the holiday at my home.  Last year I spent the holiday with my son and his family at their beautiful log cabin home in upstate New York and traveled to their home in Virginia for a two-week stay.  This year I will also bring along the Easter lamb cake center piece that my mother made every Easter when I was a child and that I continued with the tradition for my family to my daughter and her husbands home.

 I was pleased that my planning was good and everything turned out well.  I even had time to visit with my grand daughter and her husband and their adorable 9 month old son, as well as my grandson and his girlfriend who delivered the ham from his mom that I offered to cook because her oven was going to be in use for the many delicious vegetables dishes that she was making.  They always have wonderful healthy whole food dishes, as she and her husband are both excellent cooks.

 The only problem that I could for see was timing the baking of the ham with the timing of the mass that I could attend.  It all worked out, my daughter was having dinner at 3:00, I attended the 10:30 mass and put the ham in at 12:00, the ham was done at 2:30, my grandson picked me up and we were at my daughters at 3:00. The dinner was wonderful, the company was great, except for the fact that my great grand daughter was unable to come because she was sick.  However daddy attended and brought Easter dinner home to her and mommy, along with bags and bags of Easter gifts.  It was a wonderful day and a true walk down memory lane viewing all the Easter crafts my daughter and I made over the years.

 

 My very special lamb cake for Easter

 

Last month I was surprised when my grandson from Virginia called to ask if my Bed and Breakfast room would be available for a few days because he and his girlfriend would be in New York City and wanted to visit-first, let me explain, my Bread and Breakfast is a family thing and is available for my visiting grandchildren or for any family member who wants a special night or weekend.  Included in the package (ha ha) is your Victorian decorated room, a delightful country breakfast, a healthy lunch and a hearty dinner that features your favorite recipe of Nana’s. The cost of their stay is a thank you and a kiss on Nana’s cheek.  Oh and a complimentary massage-not by me, but from the massage chair in the bedroom. This is great for me doing what I love, and seeing my family more. Actually the light bulb went off in my head when I found a plaque that one of the kids gave me a few years ago that read.

 

 MOM’S BED & BREAKFAST

 

 GOOD HOME COOKED FOOD

FRESHLY MADE BEDS

DELIGHTFUL CONVERSATION

HOT COCOA  & HOMEMADE COOKIES 

LOTS OF LOVE & HUGS

 

NO RESERVATIONS NEEDED 

 

 

 So I thought to myself, why not it will be a lot of fun and yes it has been and the kids love it. As matter of fact my daughter-in-law who lives near by said “I want to stay.” 

My grandson’s visit with his beautiful girlfriend was wonderful.  Both are students at Virginia Tech and were on Spring Break.  They are both so interesting and entertaining and an added plus for me, his girlfriend loves to cook and shared some delightful recipes with me.  We had a very enjoyable dinner with a few of their Aunts and Uncles that I invited to join us.  My only regret was that they had to cut their stay short because the only train to Virginia was leaving from New York very late in the evening the next day.  Although I have made a few changes to the room, if you would like to view it, you can find a photo taken a few years ago at Christmas time in my photo gallery. Simply click gallery on the left hand side of this page.

 My beautiful, smart and talented guest shared the following recipe, which would make a wonderful dessert for any holiday. I really think that you and your family will enjoy it because it is a recipe that you can be very creative with.

 

Cheesecake

 2- 8 ounce packages of cream cheese

2 eggs

1-tablespoon pure vanilla extract

½ cup sugar

Lemon zest-from 1 small lemon

1 homemade or Ready Made Crust-can also use graham cracker crust

 With electric mixer blend cream cheese well.  Add eggs one at a time while mixing and when blended well add remaining ingredients.

 Chocolate Cheesecake

 

Add ½ cup nutella and mix until blended.  Pour mixture into an Oreo crust.  Bake in a 375-degree F. oven for 40 minutes.  Cool to room temperature and refrigerate for 3 hours.  For a double chocolate cheesecake add mini chocolate chips to top.

 Raspberry Cheesecake

 Add ½ cup of raspberries and mix well.  Continue as above.

By adding a different fruit to the cheese mixture and adding a creative topping you can make a variety of delicious cheesecakes to please your family.  For a southern flair try adding peaches with a pecan praline topping. The kids would love a peanut butter cheesecake with a crushed peanut topping.  That is if they are free of a peanut allergy.

I am on a roll an I could go on forever-love to hear about your creations.

 

I always like to make special breads for Easter and the next recipe was always a lifesaver for me because I make it with Egg Beaters-egg substitute-instead of eggs.  With all he cooking and baking and dying the eggs, I always discovered, that I did not have enough eggs, so I always purchased a few cartons of Egg Beaters to have on hand and I still do because I used them often in my recipes.

 This recipe makes two good size loafs and although it looks intimidating, it actually is very easy and very impressive. The next day it makes wonderful toast and French toast.

 

Easter Bread

 1-cup warm water

1-package Active Dry Yeast

2 Tablespoons sugar

½ cup Smart Balance Margarine, melted and cooled

¼ cup Egg Beaters at room temperature

 5 ¼ to 5 ¾ cups King Arthur Bread Flour or King Arthur all-purpose flour*

Additional 2 teaspoons of Egg Beaters

Poppy seed (optional)

 Measure warm water into a large warm bowl-I rinse the bowl with hot water and wipe it dry

Sprinkle in yeast.  Stir until dissolved.  Stir in sugar and Smart Balance. Blend in 1 cup Egg Beaters.  Add 3 cups flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough flour to form a stiff dough and knead until smooth and elastic, approximately 10 minutes.

Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease top.  Cover and let rise in a warm-draft free place until double in size.

 

Punch down dough; divide in half.  Divide each half into 2 pieces, one 1/3 of the dough and one 2/3 of dough.  Divide the larger pieces into 3 pieces and roll each piece into a 12- inch rope. Braid the pieces together and pinch ends to seal. Divide smaller pieces into 3 pieces and roll each into a 10-inch rope.  Braid the ropes together; Place on top of large braids.  Seal braids together at ends.  Place on greased or parchment lined baking sheet.

Brush braids with the 2 teaspoons of Egg Beaters.  Sprinkle with poppy seed if using.  Cover and let rise in a warm draft-free place until double in size, about 1 hour.

 Bake at 375 degrees F. for 20 to 25 minutes or until done.  Bread will sound hollow when tapped.  All ovens are different so check often.  Remove from baking sheets and cool completely on wire racks.

 

Of course you can use any brand of flour that you like, I just prefer King Arthur above all the others. You can use all-purpose flour if you prefer.   I also suggest that you read through the recipe a few times to completely understand it. You will be amazed at the results.

 

 

 

CAITLIN FROM BOSTON is in the CREATIVE CORNER today and it seems her feelings are the same about all the snow that we had this winter.

  Nice going Caitlin, very creative.  Thank you for sharing and I hope to hear from you again soon.

 

 SUZIE FROM BOSTON is back in the CREATIVE CORNER with her annual boyfriend’s Justin’s birthday cake.  Although Justin is an alumnus of Boston College she honored UConn in the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

 

 

My Boston friends are really clever

  A few weeks ago my daughter-in-law hosted a baby shower for her youngest daughter. It was fabulous she did a wonderful job. The color scheme was yellow from the array of beautiful baby outfits strung across the windows around the room to the clever table decorations that included yellow pedestals, each displaying an old retro toy.  It was like going down memory lane and seeing all the wonderful clever decorations that she and my son made.  My contribution was making the cookie trays that included an assortment of various types of cookies. One variety included several kinds of drop cookies, which looked like I must have worked all day making them. Actually about a month ago, while cleaning out my recipes files, I found a recipe that I used years ago when the kids were small and I was involved with so many school functions, that I had written across the top, A LOT OF COOKIES.  I don’t remember where it came from, so I can’t give anyone credit, but it sure came in handy.  So don’t forget to check out my blog for the recipe. It is so easy and it makes a lot of cookies and they freeze well too.

 If you are a member check out the Members Only Blog where I will be sharing some recipes for left over Easter ham.  Not a member?  It is simple just click Members Exclusive on the left side of rhe home page.  It is free and only means that you will receive an e-mail blast announcing when the site has been updated and you have access to the member’s only blog.  Also if you enjoy my site tell your friends and mention it on Twitter and Face Book-I like to say thanks to those that have.  Social networking is the best advertising today. All you creative people out there  how about sending some  photos of your ideas to be featured in the Creative Corner.

 

I DO HOPE THAT YOU ENJOYED EASTER WITH YOUR FAMILY