Wish Upon A Dish: June 2011

June 30, 2011

Turkey Thyme Meatballs with Lemony Cream Sauce - Joy Bauer Recipe #2

I have been trying to test this recipe from Joy Bauer's Slim & Scrumptious cookbook for about 2 weeks.

I feel bad, she was nice enough to send me 2 of her books, and I barely cracked them open. Now I have the perfect day to make this recipe. The Nudge is eating dinner out and I had nothing planned, soooooo....here goes.

This dish is made in one pot, vegetables and meat simmered in a broth and then a yogurt & lemon mixture is added at the end to flavor and thicken. Almost like a stroganoff but with turkey. I love the idea of a one pot meal but sometimes they have so many ingredients, they forget to let the important ones shine.

I believe that 5-6 well picked compatible ingredients is all you need to make a well composed dish.

It looks easy and kid friendly. I am tempted to add a pestata to the meatballs to add even more flavor and nutrients, but I will follow the recipe as written.

I have also been trying to cook up a new whole wheat egg noodle from Pennsylvania Dutch.
Flavored with a butter spread and lots of fresh parsley from my garden, it will go well with this dish.

I think I will make the meatballs as written, take half of the mixture, and add my touches to it. Remember, a diabetic's diet needs a tweak here and there and is never just about low carbs or low cal or no-fat, it is about pairing specific low GI ingredients with the higher ones to get a balance that controls our glucose.

I will list the original ingredients then list mine in red under them.

Turkey Thyme Meatballs with Lemony Cream Sauce
Adapted from Joy Bauer Slim & Scrumptious
serves 4
Joy: This French-inspired entree will please sophisticated palates with its rich, thyme-kissed flavor and piquant, creamy yogurt sauce. The meatballs are incredibly moist and tender and the sauce, spiked with lemon zest, adds a subtle zing to the dish.

* 1 1/4 pounds ground turkey (at least 90% lean)
I used 98% lean ground turkey
* 1/4 cup unseasoned whole wheat bread crumbs
I used 1/4 cup instant oats instead of bread and added a cup of mashed pinto beans
* 1 large egg, beaten
I used 1/4 cup egg substitute
* 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
I used 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme
* 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 used 1 large clove garlic, minced
* 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
* 3/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
I used 0% Greek yogurt because it is thicker
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
I always use more black pepper
* 2 cups low-fat unsalted or reduced-sodium chicken broth
* 2 cups green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
I used 1 cup frozen peas
* 2 cups shredded peeled carrots
I used 1 cup carrots and 1 cup roasted red peppers
* 1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
* Grated zest of 1 large lemon

1. In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, egg, thyme, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 cup of the yogurt, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper, taking care to not over work the mixture.
(In a food processor, add the beans, garlic, thyme, egg substitute, 1/4 cup yogurt and process until it forms a paste. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl, add the oats and turkey meat, stirring gently to just incorporate. Let sit while you get the broth heated, so the oats can moisten up.)

2. Form heaping teaspoons of the meat mixture into small meatballs. The mixture should make 30-35 meatballs.

3. In a large pot (wide enough to fit all the meatballs in, bring 1 3/4 cups broth to a boil.
(using a 1oz ice cream scoop, scoop meatballs into boiling broth)

4. Simmer for 10 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon. Cover to keep warm.

5. Add the green beans and carrots to the broth, cover and simmer about 3 minutes.
(add peas and carrots to simmering broth for about 3 minutes)

6. While the vegetables cook, whisk together the remaining broth, remaining yogurt, cornstarch, lemon zest and the remaining salt & pepper.

7. Stir the yogurt mixture into the vegetable-broth mixture and cook until it thickens. Add roasted peppers and meatballs back to the sauce. Heat through.

8. Taste for seasonings and add more lemon if desired.

Serve over No Yolk or Whole Wheat Egg Noodles.

Click on pic to view nutritionals.....

Just by adding a few choice ingredients to the same base recipe I increased the nutritional value 3-4x more.

Review of Joy's recipe: I would have preferred chicken over turkey. Too strong a taste for the delicate lemon and yogurt sauce. This dish reminded me of something my Mom would make with a can of cream of chicken, frozen peas & carrots and diced turkey meat leftover from Thanksgiving. I would never call it gourmet. A perfectly sauteed chicken breast, sliced and napped with the sauce and the vegetables served on the side would be more gourmet then turkey meatballs. I really quick meal for a busy week night that the kids will eat, does describe it well....and, it is a very healthy dish, unfortunately I don't think I will make this again.

Review of my adaptation: Even with the addition of the beans and fresh herbs to the meatballs, the turkey flavor still over powered the sauce. The meatballs were very tender and the kids would probably like the small size. I also think that if you roast the meatballs in the oven before simmering them in the broth, it would add great flavor to this dish.

June 29, 2011

No-Fail Blueberry Crumb Cake

I have an email devoted to coupons.....restaurants, groceries, culinary, pharmaceuticals, you name it.

If they say sign up for promos I use that email. Every Friday I open up all my mail and every once in a blue moon I get a nice little bonus.

This week, Chili's sent me a coupon for "2 feast for $35".

Share an appetizer, choose 2 entrees, enjoy 2 top shelf margaritas and share a dessert....all for $35.00.

The are introducing a Hatch Chile Cheeseburger (which is what I want) and they have also included the Classic bacon Cheeseburger (which is The Nudge's favorite).

This new burger is their signature Big Mouth® Burger with mild roasted Hatch green chile sauce, jalapeno Jack cheese, cilantro-lime mayo & house-made pico de gallo.
If it is any good, I will be making one soon at home.

Review: If I was to replicate this at home I would add more flavor to the toppings and put the cheese on the bottom of the burger. The picture shows the toppings split between the top and bottom, but this place put it all on the top.
The whole top of the burger with all those toppings of the chiles, mayo and cheese, slid right off the meat and was way too bland. It just needed some more pop, maybe more lime or spice but it might have just needed more salt. Would I order it again? Probably not. Will I make it at home, yes I will, but I will give it way more flavor.

Can you guess where we will be eating tonight??

I admit Chili's and Macaroni Grill (who are owned by the same corporation) are two of our few chain restaurants that we frequent on a regular basis, Chili's in the summer for their margarita's, especially the El Presidente and the Macaroni Grill for their "create your own pasta dish" options in the winter.

And yes, I also get coupons from Macaroni Grill.

So now that I do not have to cook dinner, I am making a Blueberry Crumb Cake. I used Ina's recipe because it has never failed me but used America's Test Kitchen's technique for forming the crumbs (we are so used to a New York Style Crumb).

Blueberry Crumb Cake
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten

For the streusel:
* 1/4 cup granulated sugar
* 1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
* 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

For the cake:
* 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (3/4 stick)
* 3/4 cup granulated sugar
* 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
* 2/3 cup sour cream
* 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 cup fresh blueberries (optional)
* Confectioners' sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.
For the streusel:
Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter and then the flour. Mix well and set aside.
For the cake:
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, lemon zest, and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Take 1 tablespoon flour and mix with the blueberries. This will stop them from sinking to the bottom of the cake.

Fold in the blueberries and stir with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out with a knife.

I grab a handful of crumb mixture, squeeze and pull off 1/2" balls and place evenly over the batter. You have more than enough struesel batter to cover the whole top plus extra for sprinkling down in between the balls, so you get total coverage.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Review: I did use the Splenda brown sugar blend for the crumbs but the rest of the ingredients were as originally written. The crumbs baked up slightly crunchier than if made with regular brown sugar, but The Nudge loves crunch so he thought these were perfect. The cake part was moist and the blueberries (from New Jersey of course) were large, plump and juicy.
Make this for the long weekend coming for eating with coffee in the AM, or bring it to your picnic for dessert. I keeps well simply covered with saran wrap.

June 28, 2011

BLT Buffalo Chicken Pizza

I know what a Buffalo Chicken Pizza is, I just haven't seen any recipe that has what I think should be on it.

In the Ft Lauderdale airport is a Chili's Restaurant and they had this Buffalo Chicken Salad that was soooooo tasty and good.

This was what was in it:
BONELESS BUFFALO CHICKEN SALAD: With applewood smoked bacon, bleu cheese crumbles, tortilla strips, house-made pico de gallo and ranch dressing.

Even The Nudge liked it enough to ask me to replicate it when we got home.

I did a good job at it and now I want the same thing on a pizza. Instead of ranch dressing I will use a provolone sauce and for the pico de gallo, homemade canned stewed tomatoes. After the pizza grills I will top it with Gorgonzola crumbles, the bacon and shredded romaine lettuce. Yummy, eh?

Crunchy and cold, it would balance the spiciness of the chicken with the creaminess of the cheese, the sweetness of the tomatoes with the salty of the bacon?!?!?

OMG, what a great idea. Oh yeah, babeeeeeee, The Nudge laughed and just shook his head.....lol

There are just some things best bought already cooked. Like chicken nuggets during a hot summer week when frying isn't in the cards. Luckily Whole Foods had just want I wanted, so I bought 6 pieces. After I cut them into coins, I will toss them in Frank's Buffalo Sauce and then spread them on the pizza.

This pizza is going to be so good, it might just become our new addition to our Top 10 of 2011.

I only hope that the image in my mind is as good as the actual pizza itself.

I am using the other half of the dough I made for the tart later in the week. Will be interesting to use a yeast dough for a tart but more on that later in the week.

Now for the components........

Provolone Sauce
makes enough for 1/2 large pizza

* 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
* 1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
* 1 cup whole milk, heated
* 1/2 cup grated aged provolone cheese
* 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the warm milk, and cook, whisking constantly until thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and whisk in the provolone and Parmesan until combined; season with the salt and pepper.

makes 1 large pizza or tart
* 3/4 cup milk
* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for bowl
* 1/4 cup sugar
* Salt
* Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
* 3 large egg yolks
* 1 package active dry yeast
* 3 cups plus 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out dough and wrap
1. Place milk and 4 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan, and heat until butter has melted. Remove pan from heat, and let mixture cool until tepid.
2. Place milk mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. On low speed, add the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, lemon zest, egg yolks, and yeast. Gradually add 3 cups flour, creating a dough that is soft but not sticky.
3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead until it is smooth and elastic and springs back when you poke it with your finger, about 5 minutes. Place in a large buttered bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place until dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

After you make the dough and the provolone sauce the rest of the cast of characters are:
* Peppadew peppers, chopped
* Gorgonzola crumbles
* Mozzarella cheese, grated
* Bacon, browned and drained
* Olive Oil
* Romaine lettuce heart, shredded
* Sliced deli provolone for the first layer of cheese
* Fresh black pepper
* Frank's Buffalo Sauce & Original Hot Sauce

Raw dough that was stretched and pressed into an oval shape.

I set up a single row of hot coals in an oval shape to pre-grill the raw dough. I grilled both sides but shy of done.

Dressed pizza with all the ingredients except the Gorgonzola crumbles, the lettuce and the provolone sauce.

I will place the dressed pizza on the grill, on a section with no coals under it, for indirect baking, just like a brick oven. I will make a pile of coals on both sides of the grill and place the pizza in the middle. When I close the lid, I will be looking for a temp of 400F or more.

Grill until the cheese melts, remove, sprinkle the bleu cheese crumbles, any additional hot sauce you desire, the shredded lettuce and provolone sauce (which I will nuke to heat it ).

If you love bleu cheese, provolone, buffalo chicken and spice, this pizza will be one you will make over and over again, I can guarantee it.

We both agreed that extra Frank's Hot Sauce sprinkled before eating brought out the buffalo chicken flavors.

June 27, 2011

Coffee and Molasses Brined Pork Tenderloin with Baby Carrot Hobo Pack

I bought a package of already cleaned baby carrots yesterday. It feels like I am cheating, buying them already cleaned but....

I can never find 'real' baby carrots in any markets near me. They all carry the formed ones from large carrots, so when I saw a package of cleaned baby carrots, I snatched them as fast as I could.

I usually cook my carrots in onions and butter until they caramelize, so when I saw this recipe from Martha, it was a no-brainer for dinner tonight. The fact that it is cooked on the grill sealed the deal.

Baby Carrot Hobo Pack
adapted from marthastewart.com
Serves 4
* 8 ounces baby carrots, halved lengthwise if thick
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
* Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Place carrots and butter on a sheet of parchment-lined foil, and season with salt and pepper. Fold and crimp edges to seal. Cook pack set over a campfire or on a medium-high grill (or nestled near coals) until carrots are tender, about 18 minutes.

Coffee and Molasses-Brined Pork Tenderloin
Adapted from MyRecipes.com
Serves 4

* 2 cups water
* 1 1/2 cups chilled strong brewed coffee
* 1/4 cup kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
* 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons molasses
* 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
* 1 cup ice cubes
* 3/4 to 1 pound pork tenderloin, silver skin removed
* 1 cup hickory wood chips
* 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
* 8 teaspoons Pepper-Garlic Spice Rub (recipe below)
* Cooking spray


Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring until salt and sugar dissolve. Pour salt mixture into a large zip-top plastic bag. Add ice and pork; seal. Refrigerate for 3 hours, turning the bag occasionally.
Soak wood chips in water 1 hour. Drain well.
Prepare grill for indirect grilling, heating one side to medium-high and leaving one side with no heat.
Place wood chips on hot coals. Remove pork from bag; discard brine. Pat pork dry with paper towels. Sprinkle 1/8 teaspoon salt over pork. Rub 8 teaspoons Pepper-Garlic Spice Rub evenly over both sides of pork. Place pork on grill rack coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat; grill 2 minutes on each side. Place pork on unheated side of grill; grill 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Pepper-Garlic Spice Rub
makes about 1/2 cup (serving size: 1 teaspoon)

* 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
* 1 tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika
* 1 tablespoon chili powder
* 1 tablespoon garlic powder
* 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
* 2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
* 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
* 1 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1 teaspoon ground red pepper

Combine all ingredients.

The meat was moist, flavorful and extremely tender, and tenderloin is VERY tender without a brine. If you have problems cooking meat correctly, this brined pork is for you. I doubt I could have overcooked this. Would be a really good technique on chops also.

As for the carrots....The Nudge looked at me and said "so this is what a carrot really tastes like."

Make this soon, you will not be sorry.

Best part of this meal? Not one thing was cooked in my kitchen, I did not have to chop or mince anything and there were no pots and pans to clean....

YAY for me!!!!

June 26, 2011

Foods for Thought

Yes, some superfoods really ARE super.

Strawberries: Help control type 2 diabetes by reducing blood glucose levels after a starchy meal. An animal study found strawberries had a powerful anti-clotting effect.

Asparagus: A study reported in the British Journal of Medicine found that an extract of asparagus significantly increased the action of insulin, which helps mop up excess blood sugar.

Figs: Higher in fibre than any other fresh or dried fruit per serving, containing about five to six grams per portion of three figs. The type of fibre found in figs may reduce the risk of developing adult-onset diabetes (type 2) by slowing down the digestion and absorption of sugars in foods.

Guava: Diabetic mice who received guava juice for four weeks experienced a reduction in glucose of nearly 25 per cent. Guava has been shown to markedly reduce bad cholesterol and improve the good kind and reduce blood pressure as well.

I know I will be using more of these foods in my diet from now on.

June 24, 2011

At some time I eventually had to make dinner

Good thing I have leftovers in the fridge.
Last night it was time to finally make my turkey and corn enchiladas. I did have to make the sauce but the chili is leftover from our chili dogs last weekend. Somewhere in that refrigerator there is a container of Ancho Sauce but I have been neglecting to label the containers and I can't seem to find it. I wonder if I froze it? sigh

Drives The Nudge nuts when I send him downstairs to find something in the freezer for me and it's not labeled. I always thought you could just look at a package of frozen chicken and know it's chicken, but for him it isn't as easy as that.
So, even if he is already down there I still won't ask him for a favor unless I know it is something labeled.

Armed with a package of flour tortillas, a container of chili, a bag of frozen corn and a container of sauce all I have to do is grate a ton of Pepper Jack cheese, assemble the enchiladas and bake for 35-40 minutes in the toaster oven.

To make your own Ancho Chili Sauce (takes all of 15 mins of prep and 2 hours to simmer on the stove) click here for recipe.

Black Bean, Corn and Turkey Chili Enchiladas
makes 4 large ones
* 4 Tortilla Factory Low Carb, High Fiber Tortillas
* 1 cup Ancho Chili sauce
* 1 1/2 cup Pepper Jack cheese, grated
* 1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed
* 1/2 cup frozen corn
* 1 1/2 cup shredded turkey, rotisserie chicken or leftover chili

In a mixing bowl place 1/2 cup cheese, beans, corn and meat.
Spoon enough sauce to moisten.
Dip each tortilla in ancho sauce and spoon 1/3 cup meat mixture onto tortilla and roll up. Place in a 9x13" baking pan that was sprayed with a release agent and lightly coated with sauce.
Spoon more sauce over filled tortillas and spread remaining cup cheese on top and bake at 350F until cheese is bubbly and browned.
Remove and cool for 15 minutes before serving.

We each had a half an enchilada and a salad of sliced tomatoes, beets on lettuce with a lite bleu dressing. Very filling, healthy and economical.

Now I have 2 cups of chili sauce to play with next week and a cup of pinto beans. I think I see Huevos Rancheros on next week's menu.

June 23, 2011

Rainy Day Pictures of a Sunny Key West

If you are like me and you live anywhere in the US lately, you probably are depressed about all the dreary, unstoppable, flooding rains that have deluged us the last few months.

Days like this I put on the AC in my bedroom, drag out the ironing board and make a dent in that pile of all those clean cotton shorts and shirts you wore on vacation.

We have a warning every hour now about possible tornadoes in the area, I am certainly not venturing out. I have to hope I do not need to fire up the generator while I am home by myself. Days like today I wished I had let The Nudge show me how to do it.

In the meantime I will finish posting some of the pics from Duval Street in Key West.

Sometime in the middle of the week we were tired of the oppressive heat and didn't want to leave our room, I decided that we needed a day of just overly sweet, neon, cold blender drinks at the Hard Rock cafe and watch the traffic walk on by us on the street.

Here are most of the sites you will see in any 30 minute stretch of time.

You must rent an Electric Car for a day. You can see every section of the island, the places that the site seeing tours don't take you and get a real feel for the non tourist parts. It really is a complex little island.

There goes the Conch Train. We took that tour the first time we stopped here way back in 1992. Was a good thing to do when you only have 7 hours to hang.

If you are more adventurous, you can rent scooters. Easier to get around, but much easier to park than an electric car. If you were to go there for more than 3 days, I would suggest renting these for the time you are there.

If you are in the mood for a slow but steady trip up the mile and a quarter street, this is a nice way to go.

This is the trolley we bought a ticket for. You get 2 days of hoping on and off at any of the 10 regular stops they make around the island. For $29.00 each it's a great bargain if you are planning on going into town a few times a day. A one-way taxi trip will run you $10.00 so 4 tips in one day costs $40.00. Plus. the guys are funny, will answer any questions you have and it runs every 30 minutes all day till 5:30.

You will get a lot of bikers in Key West. It is a bohemian place and the local bars are packed with them. Lots of fun if you want a day of hard drinking in a local joint. Those days are way behind us now. We like it quiet and clean.

We have been to many Hard Rock Cafes while traveling for work and vacation, and this one is by far the nicest, newest and unique one we have been in.

We walked up the front stairs, picked out a table right on the street and ordered a drink.

YUP, this is exactly what the doctor ordered.

June 22, 2011

Life's Better on the Ranch Dressing

It's no secret, kids like Ranch dressing. They love to dip everything in it. Besides ketchup it is the 2nd most highly ordered dipping sauce at restaurants and the No.1 salad dressing, surpassing Italian.

Making your own at home is not only simple but something the kids can help you make.

I serve this, and a bleu cheese sauce, with my smoked BBQ chicken wings.

Homemade Ranch Dressing
makes about 1 cup
* 1/2 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
* 2 tablespoons buttermilk
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 tablespoon white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
* 1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
* 1 teaspoon finely chopped onion or 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
* 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped dill, chives or parsley

1. Put the yogurt and buttermilk in a mixing bowl and, using a fork or whisk, mix well until combined.
2. Drizzle in the oil and mix again.
3. Add everything else and mix again.
4. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour to let the flavors mingle.
Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Another batch of perfect BBQ Smoked Chicken Wings

Yesterday I made another batch of our newest addition to our Top 10 recipes for 2011.

If you are tired of all the standard grilling recipes for chicken wings, you have got to try these. If you want to practice your skills at slow smoked BBQ on your grill, this is the perfect place to start.

They are inexpensive, pretty forgiving and the right size for a quick slow smoke.

After mastering these (and you will after 2 tries) you can graduate to a brisket, a pork shoulder and even the all difficult BBQ ribs. The world of BBQ is now yours. Plan an authentic BBQ party and surprise your guests.

First you need a dry rub. You could mix your own, but why would you? A bottle of Emeril's Essence is all you need, well, that and brown sugar (I use a brown sugar sub).

Equal parts 1:1. Rub it all over the chicken wings and let it sit over night or at least 3 hours. I do mine in the morning. Wrap them tightly in either a sheet of foil or plop them in a large zip bag. The end result looks more like a wet marinade but that is just the sugar liquifying.

Since I allow no plastic near my grill (I have had a gust of wind blow it onto the grill and melted on the grate and the food, yuck). Place them in a bowl or a platter and bring to the grill. Save the remaining rub to make the mop.

Set the grill for indirect grilling and place a foil drip pan in the bottom of the grill over where you will be placing the chicken. Soak your wood chips in water while you light the coals, they will be both done at the same time. After you place the wings on the grate, add a good handful of applewood chips right onto the hot coals. You will start to smell the smoke. Close the lid and set the vents (top & bottom) to maintain a temperature of 275F.

Now for the mop. To the remaining rub, add a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and water. To that add a few drops of vegetable oil and stir to combine. Pour into a bowl big enough to hold your basting brush without tipping over. Bring that to the grill along with the chicken.

Every 30 minutes, open the cover, check the coals, add more if need be, add another handful of wood chips and baste your chicken with the mob.

After 1 hour, flip the wings over and repeat the mopping. After 2 hours they are done. Let them rest on your serving platter and set out blue cheese dressing, ranch dressing and a nice ginger and terriyaki salad dressing (I love Litehouse dressings, they also make wonderful dips).

Darina Allen is keeping it in the family

No. 38 of the top 50 Women Game-Changers in Food by Gourmet Live is Darina Allen.

Some of you younger foodies won't remember her PBS show but I do. She was around when the Frugal Gourmet and the Galloping Gourmet were popular.

I think of her as the Alice Waters of Ireland, showcasing local ingredients in all her recipes. I enjoyed her simply way of cooking. This was something I could do.

Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery School on a 100–acre organic farm in County Cork, Ireland, has reached far into food culture since it began in 1983. Everyone still wants to take classes there.

Rachel Allen did and was the next generation of cookery teachers at Ballymaloe and along with a few cookbooks under her belt, she has a PBS cooking show Rachel's Favorite Foods.

If you think it is a coincidence that her last name is the same as Darina, you would be wrong. She actually is related to Darina, and just happens to be married to her son. Rachel attended Ballymaloe at the young age of 18, graduated, left and then returned to teach.

She is carrying on the tradition of simple but using the best ingredients in her recipes.

The last time I saw her show she made a simple but delicious looking No Pastry Pear and Almond Tart which appealed to me because I hate making pastry dough. I do not have the counter space to roll them out so I stay away from them (unless they are a press-in).

I used Ideal sugar substitute, about 1/2 cup to the cup of soft white whole wheat flour, 4oz of almond flour, 5 egg whites and 1 1/2 sticks of melted butter. Could not be any easier than that.

I only needed 2 bosc pears (make sure they are very ripe) and 1 oz of shaved almonds.

No Pastry Pear And Almond Tart
Serves 4
* 175g (6oz) icing sugar (I used a sub)
* 50g (2oz) plain flour (I used soft whole wheat flour)
* 100g (4oz) ground almonds (I used almond flour)
* Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
* 5 egg whites
* 175g (6oz) butter, melted (I used a spread)
* 2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and quartered, then cut into long slices about 5mm (1/4 in) thick
* 25g (1oz) flaked almonds
* Icing sugar, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F), Gas Mark 6. Lightly grease the sides of a 23cm (9in) tart tin with a removable bottom and place a disc of greaseproof paper on the base. If you prefer, you can serve this tart on the tart tin base, in which case do not use a disc of paper.
2. Sieve the icing sugar and flour into a bowl and stir in the ground almonds and lemon zest. Whisk the egg whites for 30 seconds, until just frothy, and add to the dry ingredients with the warm melted butter. Mix until smooth.
3. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Arrange the pieces of pear on top and sprinkle with flaked almonds.
4. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 180C (350F), Gas Mark 4 and cook for a further 10 minutes or until risen and pale golden. The filling should fill firm to the touch in the center.
5. Allow to sit in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
I brushed some melted sugar-free apricot jam on top.

Dust with icing sugar to serve. This is delicious with softly whipped cream.

June 20, 2011

Turkey Chili Dogs

Happy Belated Father's Day to all Dad's. Although according to the weather channel, the middle half of the US is going to be wet, here today, it will be dry.

A day ago the local news channel had it raining today, so I planned a turkey meatball dish. We got lucky this time around but we will not be getting away with anything, it will rain here Wednesday & Thursday.

It seems that lately, the first thing I do when I get up, is to turn on the weather channel. The days are so unpredictable, I never know ahead of time exactly what to expect.

I hate changing plans for my day before it even starts, but for a no rain day, I will make an exception.

I leaned over and tapped The Nudge on his shoulder and asked him if it was OK to move up the Chili Dogs to today instead of Tuesday. I think he mumbled a yes.

I have to confess to getting a craving for Chili Dogs this time of year. Most likely because I see them showcased on TV specials about ball park or state fair foods.

Growing up in New Jersey, chili dogs were a standard choice at all the hot dog joints (and we have almost as many of them as Diner's in this state), especially Rut's Hut where that infamous "RIPPER" was conceived. For those unaware of what a ripper is, it's a deep fried natural casing hot dog that "rips open" in the frying process and the skin gets really crunchy good.

The Nudge loves his hot dog well browned on the grill because they get that crunch without the frying. So good...really.

One hot dog a month in the summer won't kill you and I suppose if you can find a decent chicken/turkey dog that really is good for you, you could use them. I find that reading the labels on chicken dog packages is very discouraging, they really are not as healthy as you would think.

Be very careful. Some digging into which chicken franks are the best of still a bad lot...Louis Rich's Chicken Dogs come in with a C- as compared to all others with a D- and F. They still are loaded with fat and sodium. Please try to limit your family to eating hot dogs only once a month if possible.

Since I only eat one, I want it to be the best beef dog I can find. For that we visited our butcher. They make the beat natural casing beef dogs I have ever eaten. Yes, better than Sabretts or Nathans.
Keeping it somewhat healthy, I will use ground white meat turkey for the chili.

I would buy whole wheat hot dog rolls, but I haven't seen them in the stores yet.

Any leftover chili will be part of the filling for our enchiladas later in the week.

This chili is easy to make, unlike a real slow-cooked chili con carne, it cooks in 30 minutes and there's only 1 step.

Brown the meat, add water, then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer, uncovered, until it thickens up. Depending on the type of ground turkey you buy (I try to get the all white meat kind) you might have to skim the fat off. Just drop a paper towel on top of the sauce and it will soak it all up. Now, remember, because it is turkey it will not have that dark brown color you have with ground beef. You might want to add a drop of Gravy Master.

There ya have it, done.

Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce
* 1 pound 99% fat free ground turkey
* 1 cup water
* 1/4 cup uncooked bulgur
* 1 onion, finely chopped
* 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
* 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
* 2 tablespoons Splenda or Truvia
* 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
* 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
* 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
* 1 teaspoon garlic salt
* 1/4 cup tomato sauce
* 1/4 cup low sugar ketchup

I tastes a lot like picadillo but without the green olives and raisins. Those would be a little TOO weird on a dog.

Great numbers, so load up that dog. If you added some bulgur to the mix it would actually be healthy.

I topped the chili with my newly pickled onions. Very, very good.
With the bulgur the fiber and protein goes up and that's a good thing. We want that fiber to off-set the bun and slow down the conversion of white flour to sugar.
I think it's time to investigate either finding a whole wheat hot dog bun or making my own. Will try this week. The Nudge likes to make PB&J sandwiches on them. Now that I discovered white whole wheat flour, he'll never know he's eating healthy....lol.

June 18, 2011

Caprese Bruschetta

This is by far my favorite salad or antipasto. You can't see but under the prosciutto is a line of roasted red peppers marinated in olive oil & garlic. Usually I will dress it with champagne vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, pepper and basil.

One day, making traditional tomato bruschetta, I thought I would shake it up a bit and make it more of a meal, then an antipasto.

I chopped the tomatoes and the red onion as usual but then added prosciutto, fresh mozzarella pearls, roasted red peppers and basil (all chopped to 1/4" dice), made a dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and salt & pepper, let it rest for an hour, grilled slices of a baguette, and served it with a cold bottle of Sauv Blanc.

I roasted a whole head of garlic to spread on the grilled bread and bought a wonderful, very good Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Spain.

The Nudge loved it so much it has become our annual ritual for the opening of our patio each summer. We actually have not had a good Saturday this year so far and today looks like we have a shot at it.

When you buy the prosciutto for this recipe ask for them to slice it 'slightly' thicker than the shaved slices we usually ask for.

If you can get the pearls of mozzarella, it is one less step and a time saver and the perfect size for a bruschetta topping.

I am lucky, I can order as much as I need at the appetizer counter in my market, so I am not stuck with leftovers...not that I wouldn't know what to do with them.
If you change the water every day, they last a nice long time in the fridge.

The next important tip is about sea salt. You want a salt that flakes not one that's chunky. I have Malden Sea Salt and a Smoked Sea Salt.

Those are finishing salts.
Finishing salts are considered the premier varieties in the world of specialty salts. They are harvested—generally by hand—in special areas around the world and are known for their unique textures. The various finishing salt textures—usually either moist crystals or delicate flakes—provide a strong crunch and dissolve quickly, giving you a burst of clean, mild salty flavor with each bite. These salts bring out the depth of natural flavors of any dish, and also add to a beautiful tableside presentation.

It just makes the dish. After finishing the bruschetta with that great olive oil, a sprinkling of sea salt wakes all your taste buds up and you experience the 5th taste...."umami".

Slice a good baguette in diagonal 1/2" slices and without oil, grill them till they develop a nice crust.

Spread the crostini with roasted garlic.

Top with a spoonful of the chopped caprese salad mix. See the red peppers, tomatoes, pearls of mozzarella, red onion, prosciutto and basil?
Double yum

Dribble a few drops of your really good EVOO and finish with that wonderful salt.
You will never taste anything better on a grilled slice of bread.

The Shop-Rite had turnovers on special so I picked up some cherry ones.
Cool Whip Free added a nice coolness to them. They really don't put a lot of filling in their pastries, but there was no way I was baking anything.