Wish Upon A Dish: September 2012

September 26, 2012

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Last week I made a Catalan spinach recipe to use in a stuffing for bone-in chicken breasts.
The Nudge loves the chicken cooked with the bone and I don't blame him.

If you have trouble determining when chicken is cooked, I would suggest buying bone-in parts, not only are they tastier, they remain juicy even if you tend to overcook your poultry. It's a win-win for all.

It also is easier to stuff. Take a few tablespoons of stuffing, loosen the skin and push the stuffing under the skin and secure with a pick. An instant read thermometer right through the thickest part of the meat should register 160° (you can see where I speared this breast). I grilled mine while the weather is still cooperating and I can see what I'm grilling.

To make the stuffing you will need 1/2 recipe of this or you use plain sauteed spinach with garlic & olive oil.

These breasts were huge so we shared one. The skin stayed crisp and the meat was tender. A simple side of angel hair pasta with browned butter and herbs made The Nudge happy, it's his favorite.

I am making a chicken and spinach dumpling stew with my lovely leftovers. Stay tuned for that recipe.
Another healthy way to enjoy a tasty meal.

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September 25, 2012

14 Snacks Under 200 Calories

One very important thing I have learned about controlling diabetes, is the necessity to eat small meals all day.

Not eat all day, eat 5-6 small meals a day. I subscribe to three diabetic newsletters, attached to professional diabetic informational sites. Two are attached to diabetic magazines, the other is a medical site, written by medical professionals.
My favorite is Diabetic Living. I find this site easy to navigate, people friendly and easy on the eyes. They also have excellent information and great tips.
This is not a paid sponsored post, the opinions are strictly mine and they have no idea who I am (except a subscriber).

Every once in a while I read an article that I feel is not only pertinent to diabetics but to anyone fighting a weight problem and I like to share the information with as many people as I can.

This article is based on sound medical advice that most of us are aware of yet don't put into practical use. We are talking about snacks. Based on your daily calorie allotment, try to keep snacks between 100 and 200 calories each. To help slow the rise in your blood sugar and satisfy hunger longer, pair a protein-rich food with a nutritious complex-carbohydrate choice.

If you choose to snack once, twice, or three times a day, make your snacks healthy, and see that they help you fill in your nutrition gaps. Snack on cut-up or ready-to-go vegetables. Dip these in a low-fat salad dressing or yogurt with herbs. Try a piece of fruit or a no-sugar-added fruit snack pack. A handful of nuts or a piece of part-skim cheese with whole grain crackers might suit your fancy. Smart snacking requires you to plan ahead to have snacks on hand where and when you need them. Keep the portion size small. When PWD type 2 Patty Gilliam is on the road, she likes to take "snack bags of preportioned nuts or celery sticks filled with peanut butter."

Carb Choice + Protein Choice = Satisfying Snack

Download the PDF and print your own card pack of these 14 snack ideas plus many more. The cards print 4 per page on 8-1/2 x 11-inch paper (you will need 6 sheets). Print on cardstock or heavyweight paper for sturdier cards. Each card includes one snack recipe plus the nutrition information. With these cards on hand, you can cure your next snack attack with a healthful and tasty treat!

Pears & Cheese
Carb: 1/2 large pear
Protein: 1 ounce President Light Brie Cheese

130 calories, 4.5 g total fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 15 mg cholesterol, 230 mg sodium, 15 g carb, 3 g fiber, 7 g protein

Easy Veggies
Carb: 1 cup raw kohlrabi sticks
Protein: 1/2 cup Cascadian Farm Shelled Edamame, thawed

126 calories, 4 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 34 mg sodium, 15 g carb, 7 g fiber, 9 g protein

Raisins & Seeds
Carb: 1 mini box Sun-Maid Raisins
Protein: 2 tablespoons Eden Organic Dry Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

145 calories, 8 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 50 mg sodium, 14 g carb, 3.5 g fiber, 5 g protein

Quick & Easy Quesadilla
Carb: 2 Mission Extra Thin Yellow Corn Tortillas
Protein: 1/4 cup finely shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

Microwave to melt the cheese. Serve with 1/4 cup salsa, which counts as a free food (under 20 calories, and less than 5 grams of carbohydrate).

160 calories, 7 g total fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 20 mg cholesterol, 230 mg sodium, 16 g carb, 2 g fiber, 9 g protein

Open-Face Bagel Melt
Carb: 1/2 Thomas' 100 Percent Whole Wheat Bagel Thin, toasted
Protein: 1 slice Kraft Reduced-Fat Swiss Cheese + 1 slice Oscar Mayer Natural Oven Roasted Turkey Breast

145 calories, 5.5 g total fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 23 mg cholesterol, 267 mg sodium, 12 g carb, 2.5 g fiber, 13 g protein

Cheese Toast
Carb: 3 slices Old London Salt-Free Whole Grain Melba Toast
Protein: 1/4 cup low-fat ricotta cheese + freshly ground black pepper

120 calories, 3 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 20 mg cholesterol, 150 mg sodium, 15 g carb, 2 g fiber, 9 g protein

Apples & Peanut Butter
Carb: 1 small apple, cut into wedges
Protein: 2 tablespoons PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter

Dieters love this low-fat peanut butter powder. Just add water and stir.

105 calories, 1.5 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 95 mg sodium, 20 g carb, 4.5 g fiber, 5 g protein

Rice Thins with Sunflower Seed Butter
Carb: 2 slices Real Foods Whole Grain Rice Thins
Protein: 4 teaspoons MaraNatha Sunflower Seed Butter

Sunflower seed butter is a super source of the antioxidant vitamin E.

166 calories, 8 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 63 mg sodium, 15 g carb, 3 g fiber, 7 g protein

Cottage Cheese & Carrots
Carb: 1 cup raw carrot chips
Protein: 4-ounce Breakstone's Snack Size Small Curd Lowfat Cottage Cheese

Get 100 percent of your daily vitamin A in one serving of carrot chips.

125 calories, 2.5 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 15 mg cholesterol, 455 mg sodium, 14 g carb, 2 g fiber, 12 g protein

Crackers & Cheese
Carb: 10 Reduced-Fat Wheat Thins crackers
Protein: 2 pieces Weight Watchers Natural Reduced-Fat Cheddar Cheese Snacks

171  calories, 8 g total fat (4 g saturated fat), 15 mg cholesterol, 344 mg sodium, 15 g carb, 1 g fiber, 8 g protein

Mini Tuna Sandwich
Carb: 3 slices Rubschlager 100 Percent Whole Grain Cocktail Rye Bread + 3 diced cherry tomatoes
Protein: 3-ounce pull-top can Chicken of the Sea Chunk Light Tuna in Water

Add 1/4 cup diced cucumbers -- a free food -- to keep the tuna moist.

165 calories, 2 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 40 mg cholesterol, 420 mg sodium, 17 g carb, 2 g fiber, 20 g protein

Fruit & Nuts
Carb: 1 bag (1/2 cup) Brothers-All-Natural Fuji Apple Fruit Crisps
Protein: 1 ounce (49 kernels) dry-roasted, salted shelled pistachios

200 calories, 13 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 115 mg sodium, 16.5 g carb, 5 g fiber, 6 g protein

Strawberries & Yogurt
Carb: 3/4 cup sliced strawberries
Protein: 6 ounces Chobani Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt

140 calories, 0 g total fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 81 mg sodium, 16 g carb, 2.5 g fiber, 18 g protein

Mini Pizza
Carb: 1/2 EarthGrains 100 Percent Whole Wheat Thin Bun, 1/2 cup thinly sliced veggies, and 1 tablespoon pizza sauce
Protein: 1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Assemble pizza and microwave about 30 seconds or until melted. Sprinkle with fresh basil or dried oregano, if desired.

141 calories, 6 g total fat (3 g saturated fat), 15 mg cholesterol, 293 mg sodium, 14 g carb, 3 g fiber, 9.5 g protein

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September 24, 2012

Fettuccine with Pancetta, Brie, Escarole and Pine Nut Bread Crumbs

I think it's official. My favorite pasta shape is fettuccine, dry or fresh. Doesn't matter with me. Make any fettuccine with any sauce and I will eat it. Not that I don't like all the other wonderful shapes out there, but if you ask me the desert island thingy I would say fettucine.
It's wonderful with a plain butter sauce, or a cream sauce. Great with tomato and meat sauces. It has a nice flat surface to hold any sauce and there is enough tooth feel so as to actually taste the pasta and yes, good pasta has taste.

When I saw a recipe at foodandwine.com that used brie with fettucine, I just had to put it on the menu. I started out planning to make the recipe as written but I ended up with adding goat's cheese and a crunchy Italian breadcrumb and pine nut topping.
While the escarole and brie were a wonderful creamy component, I thought it screamed at me to add crunch of some kind and I needed the goat's cheese to add to, what I thought was enough brie. Someone's been having late night snacks.

I probably could have added more escarole, but I was saving half the head for another recipe, and although I was cooking for one, I forgot that escarole is like spinach, it cooks down to nothing. I will post the correct amounts with my additions and don't be like me and skimp, it's one of those vegetables that remains inexpensive which is a good thing for us escarole lovers.
The other thing I have to let you in on....while most dried pastas are in 1 pound boxes, fettuccine can weigh in at 12oz. Determine if you need more and buy an extra box. In this house 3/4 pound would make 4 servings easily.

Fettuccine with Escarole and Brie
makes 4 servings
  •  3/4 pound fettuccine (I mixed whole wheat and regular)
  •  2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  •  2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta or bacon, coarsely chopped
  •  1 large garlic clove, minced
  •  1 shallot, minced 
  •  1 pound escarole, cut into 1-inch ribbons
  •  Salt and freshly ground pepper 
  •  1/2 pound Brie (preferably a wedge), rind removed  
  •  1/4 cup chicken broth
  •  1 serving Italian Bread Crumb and Pine Nut topping (recipe follows)
1. In a large pot of generously salted boiling water, cook the pasta until just al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 1/4 cups of the cooking water.
2. Meanwhile, in a very large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook over high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and shallot and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the escarole and broth, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, just until wilted.
3. Add the pasta to the skillet along with 1 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water. Cut the Brie into 1-inch pieces and add to the skillet. Cook the pasta over moderate heat, tossing, until the Brie is melted and the sauce is thick and creamy, about 4 minutes; add more of the pasta cooking water if the sauce is dry. Season the pasta with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta to bowls, top with bread crumbs and serve immediately.

Pine Nut and Bread Crumb Topping
makes 4 servings
  •  2 slices sturdy bread, torn into pieces
  •  1/4 cup pine nuts
  •  1/4 cup grated cheese (Romano or Parmesan)
  •  2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  •  1 teaspoon Italian Seasonings
Pulse bread in processor until the crumbs are the size of petite peas.
Add butter and seasonings and pulse until evenly distributed.
Remove to a baking pan and add the pine nuts and cheese.
Toast in a 350° oven for 8-10 minutes until the crumbs start to brown. (this can also be done in a non-stick skillet)

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September 21, 2012

Fermented Foods - The Recipe Dedux Challenge September 2012

This month The Recipe Redux has picked a theme near and dear to my heart, and stomach.
I am in LOVE with fermented foods. I can bet you are, too.

The word fermentation sounded confusing at first, I thought they were talking about sauerkraut or pickles.
I soon realized it was much more then simple pickling. It included breads, alcohol and cheese, oh yea.

The challenge was to ferment a food and then use it in a dish. Well, I don't make cheese, I certainly don't make wine, and I was leaning towards bread when luck intervened once again, I actually planned on making a stuffing for chicken using Catalan Spinach with Preserved Lemons. My market had boneless breasts at a huge discount and since I cleaned out much of my freezer this month, I have room for more goodies!!

If you have had the time to wander over to my other blog, Pass the Sauce, you can read how fermented ingredients and sauces (vinegar-based) can greatly effect your glucose readings, all for the good.

Preserved lemons are lemons which have been pickled in salt and their own juices. Also called pickled lemons, they add a salty, distinctive lemon flavor to Moroccan tagines, sauces and salads. In Morocco, they're referred to as l'hamd marakad or mssiyar.

Although they are essential to many Moroccan recipes, personal taste dictates how preserved lemons might be used. Some cooks always remove the flesh, for example, while others leave it on when adding preserved lemon to tagines and sauces. In salads, however, only the finely chopped rind is usually used.

Both the saltiness and pungency can be controlled by how much preserved lemon is used, and when the lemons are added to the dish. The longer the lemons simmer in the sauce, the more salt and lemon flavor that will be released.

Preserved lemons are very easy to make at home. It takes only a few minutes to pack the lemons with kosher salt and cover them in a jar, but you’ll need to allow about a month or more for the lemons to soften and pickle. Two ingredients, that's all.
Simply cut the lemons into quarters lengthwise, place two pieces in the bottom of a glass jar and pack salt (I use sea salt) on top of them. Repeat, forcing the lemon pieces down tightly. I used a chopstick. When the lemons are all snug, top with more salt, cover the jar tightly and store in a cool, dark, dry place.

If you can find spring thin skinned lemons, they work the best.

If you don't want to make them yourself, you can buy preserved lemons online from vendors such as Mustapha's, Zamouri Spices and Belazu. Locally, preserved lemons might be found in Middle Eastern or halal markets, or in larger grocery stores which stock imported and specialty products.

I happen to have the end of a batch I preserved using Meyer lemons.

I found a Catalan Spinach recipe that uses the juice and zest from one lemon so I am substituting that with minced preserved lemon rind.
Should make a nice, healthy stuffing for chicken but I would think it would also work well stuffed into peppers (with the addition of rice) or served over toasted bread and poached eggs.


Espinacas a la Catalana (Catalan Spinach)
Recipe adapted from Katie Brown, Curate, Asheville, NC
Makes 4 servings

* 1 cup water
* 1/4 cup raisins
* 1 tablespoon EVOO
* 1/2 medium Granny Smith apple, diced
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
* 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
* 1 tablespoon dry sherry
* 1 pound baby spinach
* 1 quarter preserved lemon rind, pulp removed and rind minced

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the raisins to the hot water. Set aside to rehydrate until plump, about 5 minutes. Strain the raisins and set aside on paper towels to drain.
2. In a large skillet set over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the apples and cook gently until they're soft but still retain their texture, about 3 minutes. Add the raisins, shallot and toasted pine nuts. Cook until the shallot is soft and translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the sherry, spinach and lemon rind, tossing to coat and removing from the heat before the spinach is completely wilted.
3. Taste for salt and pepper and remove the spinach mixture to a platter, leaving the liquid behind.

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September 20, 2012

How I Improved My Food Photography

This post is not about the food. Well, it is about food but the photography of food. I am talking about something I stumbled on, literally.

I have tried countless ways to improve my pictures, I knew my food was good but without a good picture the food looked unappealing. Can I erase two years off my blog and start over? Should I remake every recipe to take a better food shot?

I certainly am not a food stylist, but there is lots of room for improvement. What I needed to do first was find the sweet spot in my house. Took me two years to understand about the sweet spot and then The Pioneer Woman explained and the world was a better place.

Once I found that, I needed a work surface. While visiting a post on one of my favorite food blogs, Almost Bourdain (thank you Ellie for returning to us), the "Stumble On" gadget caught my eye. One of the segments was a picture of a white molded chair with the caption "Searching for a seamless white background....".
She used that chair for her food pictures in the early days. I think that post changed my blogging life. How come, in two years, I am now getting smart?

The only area in my whole house that has natural light is in front of my sliding doors that lead out to my deck. Unfortunately it's in the living room and there is not much room for a table that has to be moved after each shot so that chair of Ellie's made such good sense.

I finally went looking for that chair but my budget was $20.00 and a new one was out of my price range. Our Town Garage Sale was this weekend, I was hoping to get lucky and find a suitable substitution that was within my budget, but I guess plastic chairs never get old and need to be sold. Off to Target we went.

I bought two white wood and Formica side tables, reduced so both were perfectly priced, and took several pictures a wine glass in a few different camera settings to see which worked the best.

Now it's not perfect but it is way much better than using the flash when going outside is not feasible. I disliked all those very bad pictures taken at the dinner table and made excuses, but not any more.

Like Ellie's post has breathed new life into my food photos, I would love to pass on what I have learned. It only takes one good picture to inspire a whole blog's worth.

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September 16, 2012

Best Fast Convenience Food Choices - Popeyes

I can't believe I have done 11 of these so far (my list has the top 50, enough for a year).
While some of them do not exist in my area, I have heard about No. 12 - Popeyes.
Their commercials run constantly and they are in virtually every mall food court.

One of the most recent thing I have learned about these places is they actually have an industry all their own called QSR (Quick Serve Restaurants) or QSC (Quick Serve Carts). My SIL and BIL are in the QSC industry, Owner/Operators of Auntie Aunnie's in the North East. I always knew it was a HUGE business but when I read that their domestic sales would make companies like Nike, Whirlpool, and Progress Energy blush, I got a little scared. We really are a nation that lives in their cars.
On to our chosen QSR for the week......

After working the same sales strategy for more than a year, Popeyes is making some tweaks. “We now know what the vital few initiatives are that drive Popeyes results,” says Cheryl Bachelder, CEO of parent company AFC Enterprises. So what are they? The development of more Louisiana-themed products, improving operations by using surveys to verify that staffers hustle, and stepping up expansion.

As I did with the others, I am not showcasing the food that defined what they are today, but the recent alternatives that offer something other then all things battered and fried. I will start with sandwiches and wraps, move on to their "leaux" menu (lighter items) and then their signature sides, all, as usual, rated by Total Carbs.

SANDWICHES & WRAPS - rated by Total Carbs

No. 1
Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya
Calories 220 * Total Fat 11g * Total Carbs 20g * Sugars 0g

No. 2
Naked Chicken Wrap
Calories 200 * Total Fat 6g * Total Carbs 22g * Sugars 0g

No. 3
Loaded Chicken Wrap
Calories 310 * Total Fat 13g * Total Carbs 33g * Sugars og

No. 4
Naked BBQ Chicken Po'Boy
Calories 340 * Total Fat 7g * Total Carbs 49g * Sugars 11g

No. 5
Chicken Po'Boy
Calories 660 * Total Fat 34g * Total Carbs 61g * Sugars 3g

No. 6
Shrimp Po'Boy
Calories 690 * Total Fat 42g * Total Carbs 66g * Sugars 3g

No. 7
Chicken Livers
Calories 1190 * Total Fat 80g * Total Carbs 65g * Sugars 3g

LOUISIANA LEAUX - rated by Total Carbs

No. 1
Naked Tenders (3 pcs)
Calories 170 * Total Fat 2g * Total Carbs 2g * Sugars 0g

No. 2
Green Beans
Calories 40 8 Total Fat 1.5g * Total Carbs 6g * Sugars 1g

No. 3
Calories 90 * Total Fat 2g * Total Carbs 18g * Sugars 1g

No. 4
Large Green Beans
Calories 120 * Total Fat 4.5g * Total Carbs 18g * Sugars 3g

No. 5
Naked Chicken Wrap
Calories 200 * Total Fat 6g * Total Carbs 22g * Sugars 0g

No. 6
Get Up & Geaux Kids Meal (2 Naked Tenders/Applesauce/Toasted Baguette Roll/Zero Calorie Drink)
Calories 260 * Total Fat 5g * Total Carbs 32g * Sugars 10g

No. 7
Naked BBQ Chicken Po'Boy
Calories 340 * Total Fat 7g * Total Carbs 49g * Sugars 11g


No. 1
Mashed Potatoes
Calories 110 * Total Fat 4g * Total Carbs 18g 8 Sugars 1g

No. 2
Cole Slaw
Calories 220g * Total Fat 15g * Total Carbs 19g * Sugars 15g

No. 3
Cheddar Cheese Tortilla
Calories 140 * Total Fat 4.5g * Total Carbs 21g * Sugars 0g

No. 4
Red Beans & Rice
Calories 230 * Total Fat 14g * Total Carbs 23g * Sugars 0g

No. 5
Cajun Rice
Calories 170 * Total Fats 5g * Total Carbs 25g * Sugars 4g

No. 6
Onion Rings (6pc)
Calories 280 * Total Fat 19g * Total Carbs 25g * Sugars 2g

No. 7
Macaroni & Cheese
Calories 200 * Total Fat 7g * Total Carbs 26g * Sugars 3g

No. 8
Calories 260 * Total Fat 15g * Total Carbs 26g * Sugars 1g

No. 9
Cajun Fries
Calories 260 * Total Fat 2g * Total Carbs 30g * Sugars 0g

No. 10
Corn on the Cob
Calories 190 * Total Fat 2g * Total Carbs 37g * Sugars 0g

SIGNATURE SAUCES - rated by Total Carbs

No. 1
Tartar Sauce
Calories 140 * Total Fat 15g * Total Carbs 1g * Sugars 1g

No. 2
Blackened Ranch
Calories 120 * Total Fat 0g * Total Carbs 2g * Sugars 1g

No. 3
Calories 150 * Total Fat 15g * Total Carbs 3g * Sugars 1g

No. 4
Mardi Gras Mustard
Calories 100 * Total Fat 8g * Total Carbs 5g * Sugars 4g

No. 5
Calories 30 * Total Fat 0g * Total Carbs 6g * Sugars 6g

No. 6
Creamy Horseradish
Calories 130 * Total Fat 11g * Total Carbs 6g * Sugars 6g

No. 7
Calories 45 * Total Fat 0g * Total Carbs 10g * Sugars 8g

No. 8
Sweet Heat
Calories 70 * Total Fat 0g * Total Carbs 19g * Sugars 14g

For complete menu nutrition information, click here.

September 14, 2012

Homemade Scrapple without the Oink!

I have a secret. I watch Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives and I like that show.

I can't say the same for The Nudge. He constantly reminds me that he's making a sacrifice for ME, on Monday nights.

I keep telling him I don't watch it for Guy, but for the ideas I get for dishes and techniques that are done on this show and that I can make for HIM.

I do actually keep a notepad on my night table for when I hear something I might want to expand upon. Then I can write down the dish or idea because most recipes in that show are not listed.

Anyone who reads this blog knows I have a love affair with corn in any shape, form or color. Married to a man who's family hails from Philadelphia PA, scrapple was a staple on his breakfast table.

Many years ago I watched the Frugal Gourmet make homemade scrapple and it looked good. I had never eaten scrapple and thought I should order it the next time I saw it on a menu. Back then I really had no idea what polenta was but because of 'The Frug' I did know that scrapple was made with cornmeal and bits of pork products, then fried and served with maple syrup. I later found out that the store bought kind had a reputation for using all the pig products (offal) even the hot dog manufacturers won't use.

I got my first taste of scrapple in Atlantic City, whose daily attendance consists of at least 80% PA residents, and I thought they would have decent scrapple. That one time was enough to never give it another thought.....until the other night, when I watched a diner make scrapple, not in PA but in CA, and Guy loved it. I tucked this dish away on my nightstand until the next day....there was a 50/50 chance this recipe was online.

I knew why this was not the type both me & Guy hid in our napkin. This was something I had to try. It was up-to-date, made with pork products I could easily buy in my local market and it was made with polenta. YAY!!

I even had pulled pork leftovers looking for a home. Once again, the leprechaun tossed me a coin, and I immediately put it on the menu.

The Nudge thought it would be like a sausage patty and although the taste was OK, he couldn't wrap his mouth around the consistency. I think the ratio of meat to cornmeal was off and although the outside was crisp, the inside was soft.
I loved it, but I know this is not something he would like to see on his plate again.
Seems the old-timey scrapple from his childhood was sliced thin, fried like a potato chip and smothered with lots of syrup. I don't think he really remembers what it tasted like. Put sugar on anything and a kid will eat it. It was cheap and available.

For those of you who would like a healthier alternative to sausage and toast with your eggs, you should try this. It really is just fried polenta cakes, flavored with pork, and with a an egg on top, is a great way to start your day.

I know I will eat this even without the egg, drizzled with Sugar-free syrup or topped with applesauce.

Recipe courtesy Bette Kroening, owner of Bette's Oceanview Diner, Berkeley, CA.
Makes 30 servings

* 1 whole pork butt, cut into 6 to 8 pieces
* 4 whole hocks, fresh
* 1 whole onion, peeled and cut in 1/2
* 3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
* 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
* 4 bay leaves
* Water
* 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
* 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
* 3 tablespoons kosher salt
* 1 tablespoon chopped sage leaves
* 3 cups white cornmeal
* 3 cups yellow cornmeal
* Clarified butter, for pan frying
* Applesauce or maple syrup, for serving

To a large stockpot, add the pork butt, hocks, onion, celery, peppercorns and bay leaves. Barely cover with water and simmer over low heat until the pork is tender and the meat falls off the bones, about 2 hours.

Drain and reserve the stock. Pour the solid contents onto a sheet pan so that you can easily discard the celery, onions, peppercorns, bay leaves and all of the bones. Make sure to pull the meat completely off the bones, being careful to remove all the small pieces of bone.

Add the meat to a food processor with blade attachment and pulse to coarsely chop. Don't over grind it.

Measure 1 gallon of stock and return it to the pot with the meat and cayenne, black pepper, salt, and sage. Bring to a simmer over low heat.

Add the cornmeal and stir, stir, stir. Simmer until smooth and thick, about 15 minutes or so. Add a little stock or water, if needed, to ensure a smooth texture.

Pour into 3 loaf pans and refrigerate until solid, preferably overnight.

Unmold, slice and fry in clarified butter until golden brown. Serve with applesauce or maple syrup.

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September 13, 2012

Mustard Barbecue Sauce

Anyone who knows me, knows I have a huge crush on Bobby Flay. Yes he's cute, yes, he kissed me on the cheek when I met him (such a gentleman) and have eaten in a few of his restaurants because, well, I also have a crush on his food.

I love, love, love his new show Grilling Addiction. I hope he writes a companion cookbook to the show. What I love the most about his foods is he uses fresh finishing sauces. Ones that require no cooking and have tons of flavor. I think if he did a book just on finishing sauces I would be his first sale.

Yes, I can print out all the recipes that are on foodnetwork.com but who has the time or the paper (and ink mind you) to print them out.

I am sorry that more of his recipes don't get batted about the blogosphere, he's really a genius in his simplicity and knows his herbs and spices.

All this is leading up to a BBQ sauce that I saw on an older show, Grill It!
He grilled these porterhouse lamb chops and finished it with a no cook Mustard Barbecue Sauce. When The Nudge picked my second personal Chopped Challenge ingredient, he choose bison burgers. While you can't mess with bison the way you can with poultry, I needed a WOW condiment if I have any chance of winning, instead of just boring cheese or tomato (sorry honey).

I also found a container of those French's Fried Onions while pulling the ingredients for the sauce. Hey, this is all about eating out of your pantry and I like those onions. Even Jacques uses them, so there!

I imagine The Nudge will top his with a slice of homegrown tomato but maybe I can entice him to try a dip. I divided the original recipe into an eighth of the full amount, making it just enough for two burgers (no waste here) but I will post the original amounts.

I doubled the amounts of honey, ketchup and molasses and at the last minute I added a squirt of my Shasha sauce, recipe here plus a whole minced Hungarian pepper for a little kick.

This sauce would work well with any sliced steak or cut of pork.

And the winner is......US!! I know I won this big time when The Nudge added extra sauce to his burger.

Last challenge ingredient is fluke fillets and this one is simple.

I am liking this challenge almost as much as The Nudge, maybe I will do one at the end of every month. My fridge has room, my pantry has shrunk and I found 20 items I forgot I bought. Go figure.

Mustard Barbecue Sauce
makes 4 servings

* 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
* 1/4 cup Sherry Vinegar
* 1/4 cup ketchup
* 1/4 cup molasses
* 1/4 cup honey
* 2 tablespoons maple syrup
* 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
* salt and pepper to taste
* hot sauce (optional)

Whisk together the ingredients and let it sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.

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September 9, 2012

Best Fast Convenience Food Choices - Burger King

Yes, I finally am down to one of the top 2 fast food establishments in America.
If I had to make a choice between the two, this would be it. I always did like their chicken sandwiches.

I will start with their salads and finish with their chicken, fish and veggie options. If you want a look at their burgers and breakfast offerings, click here.

GARDEN SALADS AND WRAPS - rated by Total Carbs

No. 1
Side Garden Fresh Salad and Ranch Dressing
Calories 240 * Total Fat 22g * Total Carbs 6g * Sugars 2g

No. 2
Garden Fresh Salad Chicken BLT with Tendercrisp and Dressing
Calories 510 * Total Fat 33g * Total Carbs 13g * Sugars 6g

No. 3
Garden Fresh Salad Chicken Caesar with Tendergrill and Dressing
Calories 490 * Total Fat 28g * Total Carbs 22g * Sugars 7g

No. 4
Ranch Grilled Chicken Wrap
Calories 350 * Total Fat 18g * Total Carbs 24g * Sugars 1g

No. 5
Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken Wrap
Calories 370 * Total Fat 19g * Total Carbs 29g * Sugars 6g

No. 6
Garden Fresh Salad Chicken BLT with Tendercrisp and dressing
Calories 690 * Total Fat 48g * Total Carbs 31g * Sugars 8g

No. 7
Ranch Crispy Chicken Wrap
Calories 370 * Total Fat 21g * Total Carbs 33g * Sugars 1g

No. 8
Grilled BLT Salad Wrap
Calories 400 * Total Fat 19g * Total Carbs 34g * Sugars 4g

No. 9
Caesar Grilled Chicken Wrap
Calories 370 * Total Fat 16g * Total Carbs 35g 8 Sugars 4g

No. 10
Garden Fresh Salad Chicken Apple & Cranberry and Tendergrill and dressing
Calories 520 * Total Fat 26g * Total Carbs 35g * Sugars 35g

No. 11
Honey Mustard Crispy Chicken Wrap
Calories 390 * Total Fat 21g * Total Carbs 37g * Sugars 6g

No. 12
Garden Fresh Salad Chicken Caesar with Tendercrisp and dressing
Calories 670 * Total Fat 43g * Total Carbs 40g * Sugars 8g

No. 14
Crispy BLT Salad Wrap
Calories 490 * Total Fat 27g * Total Carbs 43g * Sugars 4g

No. 15
Caesar Crispy Chicken Wrap
Calories 460 * Total Fat 23g * Total Carbs 44g * Sugars 4g

No. 16
Grilled Chicken Apple and Cranberry Wrap
Calories 410 * Total Fat 16g * Total Carbs 45g * Sugars 18g

No. 17
Crispy Chicken Apple and Cranberry Wrap
Calories 500 * Total Fat 24g * Total Carbs 54g * Sugars 19g

No. 18
Garden Fresh Salad Chicken Apple & Cranberry with Tendercrisp and dressing
Calories 700 * Total Fat 41g * Total Carbs 54g * Sugars 37g

CHICKEN, FISH, VEGGIE and KIDS - rated by Total Carbs

No. 1
Chicken Nuggets (4pc)
Calories 190 * Total Fat 11g * Total Carbs 10g * Sugars 0g

No. 2
Chicken Nuggets (6pc)
Calories 290 * Total Fat 17g * Total Carbs 15g * Sugars 0g

No. 3
Homestyle Chicken Strips - 2pc
Calories 240 * Total Fat 13g * Total Carbs 23g * Sugars 0g

No. 4
Chicken Nuggets (10pc)
Calories 480 * Total Fat 28g * Total Carbs 25g * Sugars 0g

No. 5
Homestyle Chicken Strips - 3pc
Calories 360 * Total Fat 19g * Total Carbs 34g * Sugars 0g

No. 6
Chick'N Crisp® - Classic
Calories 440 * Total Fat 28g * Total Carbs 37g * Sugars 5g

No. 7
Chick'N Crisp® - Spicy
Calories 400 * Total Fat 23g * Total Carbs 38g * Sugars 6g

No. 8
Tacos (2)
Calories 390 * Total Fat 16g * Total Carbs 39g * Sugars 3g

No. 9
TENDERGRILL® Chicken Sandwich w/o Mayo
Calories 360 * Total Fat 6g * Total Carbs 39g * Sugars 7g

No. 10
TENDERGRILL® Chicken Sandwich
Calories 470 * Total Fat 18g * Total Carbs 39g 8 Sugars 7g

No. 11
Veggie Burger w/o Mayo
Calories 320 * Total Fat 7g * Total Carbs 43g * Sugars 8g

No. 12
Veggie Burger
Calories 410 * Total Fat 16g * Total Carbs 44g * Sugars 8g

No. 13
Veggie Burger w/Cheese
Calories 450 * Total Fat 20g * Total Carbs 44g * Sugars 8g

No. 14
Original Chicken Sandwich w/o Mayo
Calories 420 * Total Fat 16g * Total Carbs 46g * Sugars 4g

No. 15
Original Chicken Sandwich
Calories 630 * Total Fat 39g * Total Carbs 46g * Sugars 4g

No. 16
Italian Original Chicken Sandwich
Calories 520 * Total Fat 22g * Total Carbs 50g * Sugars 5g

No. 17
Chicken Nuggets (20pc)
Calories 950 * Total Fat 55g * Total Carbs 50g * Sugars 0g

No. 18
Premium Alaskan Fish Sandwich w/o Tartar Sauce
Calories 360 * Total Fat 9g * Total Carbs 51g * Sugars 5g

No. 19
Club Original Chicken Sandwich
Calories 700 * Total Fat 44g * Total Carbs 52g * Sugars 7g

No. 20
Premium Alaskan Fish Sandwich
Calories 530 * Total Fat 28g * Total Carbs 54g * Sugars 7g

No. 21
Tendercrisp® Chicken Sandwich w/o Mayo
Calories 540 * Total Fat 21g * Total Carbs 57g * Sugars 8g

No. 22
Homestyle Chicken Strips - 5pc
Calories 610 * Total Fat 32g * Total Carbs 57g * Sugars 1g

No. 23
Tendercrisp® Chicken Sandwich
Calories 750 * Total Fat 45g * Total Carbs 58g * Sugars 8g

No. 23
Country Pork Sandwich
Calories 819 * Total Fat 42g * Total Carbs 78g * Sugars 10g

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September 7, 2012

Tomato Pie ♥ That "Other" Fruit Pie

I am a little bit embarrassed to admit that I have never eaten a slice of tomato pie.

How can that be when every food blog has at least one post devoted to the end of summer's favorite fruit pie?

Does anyone out there know why the tomato is sold as a vegetable when botanically, it is a fruit?

Until the late 1800's the tomato was classified as a fruit to avoid taxation, but this was changed after a Supreme Court ruling that the tomato is a vegetable and should be taxed accordingly, so our government, once again, managed to twist the laws of nature to make the laws of us, monetary.

When I finally decided to make my first pie, I needed to make sure the recipe was a good one. I didn't want one with goat cheese or with more spices than an award winning chili, or for that matter a revised, redone and reworked recipe. I wanted a Southern, old-timey, many generational perfected pie with traditional ingredients and delicious, simply with the taste of tomato. Is that too much to ask for?

I could have just turned to Natalie Dupree for a recipe but I got one that actually fell into my lap by way of email, and yes, from a good ole southern boy.

I just happen to have one gorgeous ripened tomato still on the vine with his name on it.

I made a few adjustments because I could. I used a ready made crust, I added some cheddar cheese, I used Romano instead of Parmesan, I used Vegenaise, and I cut the amount of basil in half.
I also processed the extra dough from the edge of the pan with butter to make a crumb topping. I thought it would add crunch.

When the tart came out of the oven the top wasn't as browned as I would have liked, so before serving I threw it under the broiler for 5 minutes to give it some color and the crunch I was looking for.

This was excellent and easy with the premade crust, but if you are adept at crust making, you should make it. If you make your own, you can make it thicker then a store bought one, although flaky and adequate, I would have preferred homemade.

This would make a perfect lunch or brunch dish, but for dinner I would serve this with a grilled piece of meat or a few slices of a nice roast.

Tomato-Basil Pie
Recipe adapted from Cole Ellis, Capitol Grille, Nashville Tennessee
Yield: One 10-inch pie

* All-purpose flour, 2½ cups, plus extra for rolling
* Kosher salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons
* Unsalted butter, 2 sticks, cut into 1/2" cubes
* Ice water, 1/4 cup
* Mayonnaise, 1 1/2 cups
* Buttermilk, 1/4 cup
* Large egg, 1
* Fresh basil leaves, 4 cups (stacked, rolled and thinly sliced crosswise)
* Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup, finely grated
* Scallions, 6 (finely chopped)
* Freshly ground black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon
* Medium tomato, 1 (halved and cut into 1/4" thick slices) or 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1. Make the dough: Using the food processor (or a large bowl and a whisk), pulse together 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
2. Add the unsalted butter cubes and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal (if using a mixing bowl, use your fingers to work the butter into the flour). While pulsing the machine, add the ice water. Pulse until the dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed in your hand, about 5 pulses (if using a mixing bowl, use a wooden spoon to stir the ice water into the flour).
3. Place a long piece of plastic wrap on a cutting board, turn the dough out onto the plastic wrap, flatten the dough with the heel of your hand into a 1-inch-thick disc, then wrap with the plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.

4. Adjust an oven rack to the bottom position and another rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the chilled dough on a lightly floured cutting board. Flour the top of the dough, then use the rolling pin to roll the dough into a 14-inch circle that is about 1/4" thick. Carefully roll the dough up and onto the rolling pin, and use the pin to transfer the dough to the tart pan, fitting it into the bottom and sides of the pan and pinching off any excess dough. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
5. Remove the tart pan from the refrigerator. Use the fork to prick the bottom of the dough all over, then place a 14-inch sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil into the tart pan. Add enough dried beans or pie weights to weigh the paper down and bake the tart crust on the bottom rack until the edges of the crust are firm and beginning to turn golden, about 15 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven and carefully remove the parchment paper or aluminum foil and pie weights. Return the tart to the bottom oven rack and continue to bake until the crust is golden, about 10 to 15 minutes longer.
6. Meanwhile, make the pie filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, large egg, fresh basil, 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, scallions, remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and pepper.
7. Pour one-quarter of the pie filling into the tart shell. In a circular, overlapping pattern, arrange the tomato slices. Cover with the rest of the filling and top with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Bake on the middle rack until the filling is set and the top of the tart is browned, about 30 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven and cool at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving warm or at room temperature.

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September 6, 2012

Sesame Chicken Noodle Bowl

I made this dish a few weeks ago when The Nudge was traveling. I know he's not into Noodle Bowls so it was easy to portion this for one serving.

I thought the broth could have had more umph, maybe by using dried shiitake and adding the soaking liquid, or use all broth instead of half water but something was missing.

I would recommend using homemade chicken stock if possible but a good stock in a box (I like Wolfgang's roasted one) would work instead of canned broth, which can be very light on flavor. Although the broth looks dark it was just the soy sauce that helped with that.

Cooking Light magazine is one of my Go To magazines when I am planning my weekly menu, and I have made plenty of their recipes over the years, but every once in a while one gets by the test kitchen and just doesn't rise to the level I know they strive for.

I hate to admit this was one of them, I had such high hopes for my first noodle bowl.
Now, I like things highly spiced and herby, so maybe it's me, but I think that when the main ingredient is the broth, it should be the star and it should shine. The chicken and noodles were the best part and although I wasn't happy with it as a main entree, this was not a waste, I did use the all the leftovers (even the broth) to make a very nice Chicken Lo Mien a few days later.

I doubt I would not make this for dinner again, but it would make an excellent lunch.

It's light, not filling (unless you eat all the noodles) and will reheat well.

Sesame Chicken and Noodles in Mushroom Broth
Adapted from Cooking Light AUGUST 2012
Yield: Serves 4

* 4 shiitake mushrooms
* 1 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
* 1 cup water
* 4 teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce
* 2 teaspoons fish sauce
* 2 garlic cloves, crushed
* 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, sliced
* 1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
* 2 cups uncooked fresh Chinese-style noodles
* 1 pound chicken cutlets
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds
* 2 teaspoons sesame oil
* 4 baby bok choy, cut in half lengthwise
* 1/2 cup (1/4-inch-thick) slices red bell pepper
* 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
* Julienned carrot (optional)

1. Remove mushroom stems. Thinly slice caps; set caps aside. Bring stems, broth, and next 6 ingredients to a boil in a saucepan. Remove pan from heat.
2. Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add noodles; cook 3 minutes or until done. Drain.
3. Sprinkle chicken with black pepper. Place seeds in a dish. Press seeds into both sides of chicken. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan. Add bok choy, cut sides down; cook 3 minutes or until browned. Add reserved mushroom slices and bell pepper. Strain broth mixture through a sieve into pan; cover and cook 2 minutes. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon.
4. Thinly slice chicken. Place 1/2 cup noodles, about 1/4 cup vegetables, and 4 ounces chicken into 4 shallow bowls. Spoon 1/4 cup broth mixture over each. Garnish each with two lime wedges.

Nutritional Information per serving
Calories: 338
Fat: 9.2g
Saturated fat: 1.5g
Monounsaturated fat: 3.2g
Polyunsaturated fat: 3.6g
Protein: 34g
Carbohydrate: 29.5g
Fiber: 4.2g
Cholesterol: 71mg
Iron: 3.6mg
Sodium: 795mg
Calcium: 65mg

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September 4, 2012

Grilled Talleggio Cheese Sandwich w/Pear and Bacon

When The Nudge tells me about a great grilled cheese sandwich he had while traveling, that had thinly sliced pears on it, I immediately put my rendition of that sandwich on the menu.

Doesn't happen often that he tells me he loved the addition of the fruit on his grilled cheese and, no, he did know it was on there when he placed his order, it was not a mistake (that's his story and he's stickin' to it).

Wow, I am impressed. The last time I put fruit and melted cheese together was an appetizer I made for Christmas one year. It was a crostini spread with apple butter and baked with apple slices and brie. They were gone in 10 minutes.

I know I am hard on my hubby about his choices in food, but he's not one to embrace unique ingredients in his grilled cheese sandwich. He likes things the way they were meant to be in their purest form but he will do bacon (who would object to that anyway?) and will entertain a slice of ham or tomato on a good day, but pears?!?!

You coulda knocked me over with a feather. I'm not totally sure the devil didn't pay him a visit.

This time 'round, I was the one who wanted some bacon added, especially because I had just been to the butcher and the bacon looked well marbled and fresh.

So this grilled cheese ended up being gourmet from all sides. The bread, a beautiful sourdough from Panera's (who makes their bagels out of sourdough), applewood smoked center cut bacon, Italian Talleggio cheese, and a Bartlett pear with smooth, juicy white flesh. I also decided on a schmear of horseradish mayonnaise for a little punch to cut through all that salty, creamy and sweet.

The perfect dish with all the 4 tastes....salty, sweet, spicy, sour.

This may turn out to be our favorite grilled cheese of all time and I got the idea from the most unlikely person.....

I think Hell just froze over!!

Grilled Tallegio Cheese Sandwich w/Pear & Bacon
makes 2 sandwiches (can be doubled easily)

* 1" thick slice Talleggio cheese (brie would also work well)
* 4 slices of applewood smoked bacon
* 1/2 bartlett pear, sliced thinly
* 2 tablespoons horseradish sauce
* 4 1" thick slices of Sourdough Bread or a Country Loaf
* 1/4 cup unsalted butter

I layered the ingredients in this order.

On one slice I smeared 1 tablespoon horseradish sauce, half the pear slices, the cheese and then the bacon.

Spread butter on both outsides of the sandwich and on a panini grill or a grill pan, place the sandwiches down and press with a lid.
Soon as the bread gets GB&D flip them over and repeat.

Let cool before slicing, but do it before it gets too cool.

Serve with a cold bottle of Rose wine from Provence and enjoy the last days of summer.

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