Wish Upon A Dish: April 2013

April 30, 2013

Stuffed Cabbage Cannelloni

While I love stuffed cabbage, The Nudge will turn his nose up when I mention it. You know that look, "what, agaaaainnnn?"
I thought if I twisted it up a bit, I might get him to change his mind.

Traditional stuffed cabbage uses ground meat, rice and raisins and can be high in fat (the rice soaks up the fat from the meat).

I used a shoulder from the suckling pig I roasted on Easter and since all the fat melted away, it is as lean as the tenderloin. The only fat I used was 1 tablespoon of butter for 8 cannelloni. So far, so good.

No strange ingredients, besides the cabbage, I bet you have everything in your pantry to make this dish.
I hope you always have a box of no boil lasagna sheets and if you don't, you really should.
Normally I would roll them up starting from the short side, but this time I rolled them lengthwise to fit snug in the baking pan.

I was working on two separate recipes that both used the same aromatics, so I chopped once and split twice. I love when I can batch meals. If you don't want to use ground meat (like me), some pulled pork shoulder, smoked turkey legs, turkey kielbasa, andouille, a lean ham steak or for a vegetarian meal, no meat at all.

I had a small head of savoy cabbage but regular green coleslaw cabbage or napa is just as good.
A few carrots, an onion, a sweet n sour sauce, tomatoes and stock, done. This really was an easy recipe to make. I baked off the cannelloni with just the flavored juice from the sweet and sour tomato sauce the first time, wrapped them in foil and refrigerated. The next night I placed them in the same Corning Ware pan, added the rest of the tomato sauce, some 70% fat-free Cabot Jalapeno Cheddar, baked for 20 minutes to heat through, then under the broiler to bubble the cheese.

One cannelloni with sauce is a mere 216 calories so with a salad, it makes a very healthy meal. Yay for us!

Sweet 'n Sour Cabbage Cannelloni
makes 4 servings

* 8 Barilla No Boil Lasagna sheets

* 1 small onion, diced
* 1 carrot, minced
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 tablespoon butter spread
* Small head green cabbage (Napa, Savoy or Green)
* 4 ounces lean turkey or pork, chopped into small pieces (optional)
* Small can Petite Dice tomatoes
* 3 tablespoons sweet and sour sauce or/2 tablespoons Splenda brown sugar + white vinegar)
* 1 cup low salt, fat free chicken (vegetable) broth

1. Soak lasagna sheets in boiled water for 20 minutes. Meanwhile pulse the onion, carrot and garlic in a processor till a mince. Remove to a skillet and melt the butter. Add the aromatics, cover and cook while you shred the cabbage.
2. Add the cabbage to the veggie mixture and saute until softened. Add the meat (if using) and heat through.
3. Remove the mixture to a bowl and add the tomatoes with juice, the stock and the sweet and sour sauce into the same pan. Simmer on low for 20 minutes.
4. Place a pasta sheet on a work surface with the longer sides north and south. Scoop 1/4 cup filling onto the south side and spread evenly from side to side. Roll forward, tucking the filling in until it is totally rolled up and place, seam side down, in a large backing pan (large enough that they lay flat and next to each other.

If serving immediately, cover with any extra filling if left over and then spoon the tomatoes and the juice over the pasta and down the sides. Cover with foil and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Remove and sprinkle the cheese on top, turn the broiler on and broil for 5 minutes or until the cheese starts to bubble.

If serving another day, cover with any extra filling and spoon the juice over the pasta, reserving the tomatoes for final baking. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes, remove from the oven and cool to room temperature. Spoon the reserved tomatoes over the pasta, cover tightly and place in the fridge until ready to eat.
On serving day, remove pan from fridge, and place in a 350° oven for 15 minutes, uncover and add the cheese to the top and broil for 5 minutes until bubbly. Serve immediately.

Review: The Nudge told me they nuked well on high for 2 minutes. Lunch was served.

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April 29, 2013

Seafood Pasta with Dill-Cream Sauce

I found this recipe the other day from an old note card recipe file that I filled over 25 years ago. It's been fun going through the contents and gave me an insight into the dishes that intrigued me back then.

This dish is a loose translation of that recipe that apparently I made once to rave reviews and then never again (the story of my life).

Bay scallops are in season in November but due to cultivating there are times in the spring where they will release scallops for sale. When I can I always buy a pound or two, portion them off, and freeze them in small containers of water. This was the last of my stash and I am cooking them because I will be away on vacation and the 'use by' date falls while we are away.
Lucky for me. I am pairing the scallops with lobster surimi. Yes, the faux seafood. I like the taste of surimi, it's sweet and tender and the lobster version is a premium blend of wild caught, sustainable Alaska Pollock and real lobster meat. Certified by the American Heart Association, it is low in fat and cholesterol, a source of Omega-3 EPA and DHA, providing 100mg per 3 oz. serving. It's a good way to stretch a shellfish pasta dish which can be expensive certain times of the year, like now.

You can get a coupon here and combined with a sale in my market, I got a package for under $1.00.
No, I did not get a sample to post about, while researching the health benefits I got the link and thought I would share it with you. Any opinions about any foods I blog about are always mine, I am not for sale.

Let's get to the cooking. The most important part of this recipe is the court bouillon that the seafood will be poached in, and, is the whole flavor base for the sauce.

Instead of the onion, carrot, celery and water, you could use 2 cups of a good quality vegetable broth.
The original recipe called for an obscene amount of heavy cream (1 1/2 cups) and because this is supposed to be a heart healthy dish, I chose to omit the cream and used my secret weapon, pureed white beans to thicken the poaching liquid and fat-free evaporated skim milk & a touch of fat free half and half for the cream part. Was a marriage made in heaven.

This was quite yummy and you would never know it was a low fat, healthy, "creamy" seafood pasta.

Seafood on Pasta with Dill-Cream Sauce
makes 4 main course/6 appetizer servings

Court Bouillon
* 1 onion, sliced
* 1 carrot, chopped
* 2 stalks celery
* 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
* 1 tablespoon dill
* 1 bay leaf
* 4 whole peppercorn
* 2 cups cold water
* 1 cup white wine or clam juice or shrimp stock

* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
* 1 tablespoons minced shallots
* 1 large clove garlic, minced
* 1/2 cup court bouillon + extra if needed
* 1/4 cup evaporated skim milk
* 2 tablespoons fat free half and half
* 2 tablespoons white bean puree
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* Black pepper to taste
* 2 teaspoons fresh dill or 1/2 teaspoon dried
* 1 cup pasta water

* 1 pound long flat pasta
* 1 pound bay scallops
* 1 package Lobster or Crab Surimi

1. Place all the court bouillon ingredients into a stockpot and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Using a strainer or spider, lower seafood into court bouillon and let it sit for 2 minutes, remove to bowl.
3. Bring a large pot pf salted water to a boil.
4. In a large skillet, melt the butter and cook the shallots until softened, then add the garlic. When you smell the garlic, add the court bouillon and simmer till it reduces by half.
5. Add the white bean puree and whisk to blend. Add the milk and taste for seasoning.
6. Add the seafood back into the sauce and shut off the heat.
7. Drain the pasta reserving a cup of pasta water. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir to coat with the sauce.
8. Turn the heat back on and toss until everything is heated through. If it gets too thick use the pasta water to loosen it up and more is better than less in this dish.
9. Spoon the pasta into a large bowl and serve immediately.

Review: You would swear this dish was loaded with heavy cream. It is creamy and luxurious. The seafood is sweet and the dill adds a nice herbal note. I will be using this sauce over and over, and not just for pasta. This would make a good base for Sausage & Grits or for Biscuits and Gravy. Totally healthy, no one will know you used pureed beans.

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April 28, 2013

Elegant Ham and Cheese Sandwich

I would have to say that for a very simple dish of simple ingredients this was good enough for a company brunch, say, Mother's Day or even Father's Day. It can be assembled up to two days before the actual eating day and if you need too, it can be baked and reheated quite successfully.
There is enough butter in the croissants to keep the dish hydrated enough to handle two baking's.

When croissants are on sale I like to make French Toast but I always have more than enough leftover and I thought this dish would be a nice and different way to use them. I used both Swiss and Brie and the last minute addition of a sliced fruit was inspired from that all-loving, over abused appetizer, Baked Brie en Croute. What else is a croissant but a creation of puff pastry?

Toasted croissants layered with thin slices of lean smoked ham, thin slices of crunchy apples, Swiss and Brie cheeses and topped with toasted sliced almonds. This was one of those dishes that The Nudge looked at skeptically and once tasted gets this smile on his face that says "Hey, this isn't so bad, it's actually really good and he goes in for seconds." Light but filling, I would not think twice about making this again. Requires no special knife skills and except for slicing the croissants in half and slicing the apples, it is all about assembling bought ingredients.

Also a great quick weekday meal with a hundred different combinations. No croissants? Sandwich bread will work in a pinch and cinnamon & raisin bread, genius!

Elegant Ham and Cheese Sandwiches
makes 8 servings
* 4 croissants, sliced in half horizontally
* 16 thin slices of a lean smoked or country ham
* 1 wedge of Brie cheese, crust removed & sliced
* 8 slices of Lite Jarlsburg cheese
* 1 apple, cored, peeled and sliced thin on a mandoline
* 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1. Lay sliced croissants crust side down on a large sheet pan covered with parchment paper or foil.
2. Preheat oven to 350°. Toast bread for 5 minutes and remove.
3. Place ham, apple slices, Swiss, Brie and almonds in even layers over croissants.
4. Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese melts and bubbles.
5. Cut into squares and serve with mustard's and fruit jams.


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April 26, 2013

Chicken Ossobucco-Style

Going on vacation for two weeks poses a separate list of potential problems then just popping off for seven days. You need enough clothing and undies for 14 days. You have to make sure you hire a house/animal sitter because asking your neighbor for a 14 day favor just ain't gonna cut it, and you have to make sure you cook all the 'spoil-in-14-day' food from the fridge.

Last week I made a list for two weeks of meals, taking inventory of all the goodies in my freezer. Will get interesting as the food disappears and the choices get leaner. I am saving the ground meats till the end.
Meatballs, mini-meatloaves or burgers are always a good "no leftovers allowed" dinner.

Tonight I pulled out a package of skinless boneless chicken thighs I had originally slated for a chicken hominy stew and because I am trying to think spring and not make stew (how ridiculous is that really, we eat hot food in the summer) so I changed that to a one pot Osso Bucco preparation.

Yup, Osso Bucco it would be and chicken thighs are perfect for a long slow braise. If I had given it more thought, I would have bought the bone-in skin-on thighs, but I was tired of thinking, period.
I will be sauteing a bag of fresh spinach, garlic and EVOO with a side of Long Grain and Wild Rice (The Nudge is coco for that rice combo).

If you want a different way to serve chicken thighs, think about making this dish. It's healthy, low cab, low-fat, low-cal, very tasty and a one pot wonder. I imagine this would also cook well in a slow cooker on LOW for 6 hours.

Chicken Osso Bucco
makes 4 servings

* 1 cup onion, chopped fine
* 2/3 cup carrot, chopped fine
* 2/3 cup celery, chopped fine
* 4 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 tablespoon butter + vegetable oil
* 1 teaspoon minced garlic
* 2 strips lemon peel
* 6-8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (can use regular ones also)
* 1 cup dry white wine
* 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
* 1 1/2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with their juice
* 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
* 2 bay leaves
* 2-3 sprigs parsley
* Salt & black pepper  
* 1 serving gremolata (optional)
Gremolata: Lemon zest, minced garlic and parsley. Chopped together and added to the pot before serving so it cooks for minimum 2 minutes. I have seen it added as a garnish but that is not the traditional way.

1. Heat the butter and oil in a heavy bottom dutch oven and salt & pepper the thighs.
2. Saute the chicken for 4 minutes on both sides. Remove to a platter.
3. If using skin-on, wipe any chicken fat in the pan and add the olive oil
4. Saute the onions, carrots and celery until they soften. Add the garlic and the lemon peel. Saute for 1 minute. Add the wine and stir. Add the chicken broth, the tomatoes and their juices along with the thyme, bay leaves and parsley.
Bring to a simmer and add the chicken. Cover and simmer on low for 1 hour.
5. Add the gremolata (optional), simmer for 2 minutes and serve immediately.

Although Ossobucco is often served with risotto, if you are following a low carb diet,you could eat half a baked sweet potato which is slow to digest and a good potato for diabetics.

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April 24, 2013

Classic Cheese Soufflé

Rounding out our week of egg dishes, I made Julia Child's Classic Cheese Soufflé using Cheddar instead of the traditional Gruyere.

OK, this post is a very good lesson of what NOT to do and I want you to benefit from my mistake.
While the actual making of a soufflé is extremely easy, there can be a few areas where things can go wrong. Do not do what I did.

As you can see from the pic, my top hat was lopsided. I had a blow out. Everything was going so well and I thought I had it all contained when it continued to grow and just plopped over the side of the soufflé dish.

I did have the foresight to set the dish on a small ramekin, but it puffed so much even the ramekin could not contain the batter and a lava river of fluffy eggs just kept on growing and growing until I lost quite a bit to the bottom of the oven. Do you know what happens when souffled eggs hit a very hot surface?
Just don't overfill your dish and you will never have to worry.

The original recipe made enough to fit in a 1 1/2 quart souffle dish (4-6 dinner servings). Since it was just the two of us and I was also serving asparagus and a garden salad, I decided to halve the recipe.
I also only have one official souffle baking pan and it holds 2 cups of batter.

I was certain that I was supposed to level off the top, which I did. The only thing I can think for the blowout is the ratio of whites to yolks being slightly off. All souffles use an egg yolk thickened bechamel sauce that is the flavoring, with the beaten whites as the lift. If my base to lift ratio was off, the whites could have puffed more than it should have. Yes, I'm going with that, too much lift.

So I could have done a few things to stop the explosion:
1. Filled the dish to at least 1" from the top.
2. Attached a collar of parchment paper around the rim.
3. Increased the cheese sauce to compensate for the extra egg whites.
4. Made the recipe as written and baked off two souffles.

Did my boo-boo effect the texture or taste? It was the perfectly puffed monument to the airiness that is a souffle, with just the right amount of cheddar goodness. Utterly ethereal.
I will post the recipe as written and if you do not have a souffle dish and want to bake individual ones, I would use 6 (1 cup) ramekins and fill 1/2" from the top.

I have to say, despite the blowout, it was excellent. We ate the whole thing and The Nudge gave me permission to make this again, soon.

Classic Cheese Soufflé
Adapted from Bon Appetit | May 2008
makes 4-6 dinner servings

2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup whole milk
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground nutmeg
4 large egg yolks
5 large egg whites
1 cup (packed) coarsely grated cheese (about 4 ounces)

1. Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 400 F. Butter 6-cup (1 1/2-quart) soufflé dish. Add Parmesan cheese and tilt dish, coating bottom and sides. Warm milk in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat until steaming.

2. Meanwhile, melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until mixture begins to foam and loses raw taste, about 3 minutes (do not allow mixture to brown). Remove saucepan from heat; let stand 1 minute. Pour in warm milk, whisking until smooth. Return to heat and cook, whisking constantly until very thick, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Remove from heat; whisk in paprika, salt, and nutmeg. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, whisking to blend after each addition. Scrape soufflé base into large bowl. Cool to lukewarm.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.

4. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of whites into lukewarm or room temperature soufflé base to lighten. Fold in remaining whites in 2 additions while gradually sprinkling in cheese. Transfer batter to prepared dish.

5. Place dish in oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 375 F. Bake until soufflé is puffed and golden brown on top and center moves only slightly when dish is shaken gently, about 25 minutes (do not open oven door during first 20 minutes). Serve immediately.

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April 22, 2013

Conchiglie Bolognese

I think shells have to be up there with wagon wheels as one of kids favorite pasta shapes. I was always a corkscrew kid but The Nudge, well, he loved his shells. I guess a shrink would say that just about described our marriage. I'm a screwball and he's a hugger.

I noticed that he's been requesting his fav for some time now but not a shell in the house. We aren't talking about stuffed shells, he likes those that are about 1" in size.
Shells and meat sauce. As simple as that.
I gave in. It's nice to let him have one every now and then.

When I think hearty meat sauce I immediately think Bolognese. Yummy!
Usually made with a meatloaf mix, all I had was sausage and ground beef. It would do.

Making a meat sauce is so easy and requires basic ingredients.... Good quality canned tomatoes, a food processor, four cloves of peeled garlic, half a white onion, a chopped carrot, two hot Italian sausages (skinned, of course) and a half pound of ground meat. Place the veggies into the bowl of a processor and pulse until it is chopped down to a mince. Remove the contents to a bowl and drop in the tomatoes.
Pour the puréed tomatoes into a strainer that is resting on a separate bowl and run a large spoon around the bottom, pressing on the tomatoes and pushing the puree into the bowl but trapping the seeds in the strainer. Reserve.

Note: Please try not to use pre-chopped tomatoes. Why? They often are processed in tomato sauce and we want a light tomato presence here, with the focus on the meat. Whole canned tomatoes are in a natural tomato jus, which is exactly the consistency we want here.

In a heavy saucepan, heat a good amount of olive oil (yes, basic olive oil is OK here) and cook the meat, breaking it into small chunks. Add the veggie mince and sauté on low heat for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the bottom of the pot forms a layer of dark brown flavor called a fond.

Pour in a small glass of white wine (yes, white with tomatoes), and stir until the bottom of the pot goes from brown to clean. Add the tomatoes, two bay leaves, a handful of dried oregano or marjoram and stir.
Simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes or until it is as thick as applesauce.

This whole recipe made enough for 4 cups of pasta. I have to say that I rarely see The Nudge dig in for seconds but he put a substantial dent in this bowl.
It was exactly what he wanted.

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April 20, 2013

Deviled Egg Salad

It's no secrest The Nudge adores eggs. I would say love but that word is so overused in relation to food ingredients and now that I think of it adore isn't all that great either.
So how do you describe a food you could eat every day for the rest of your life?

Smashingly good.
Extol, and my new favorite.....

Can you worship an egg?
Treasure a chicken?
Fancy a shrimp.
Praise the pig!

Imagine all this because I read an article that asked the question....can a diabetic eat three eggs every day?
It had to be a typo. I might eat 3 eggs a week but certainly not every day.The Nudge could, and would if his favorite go to pub near work served their omelet special each day.

We all know now-a-day eggs are laid by chickens that eat a much better diet then even 3 years ago, so now they have all sorts of minerals and omega's, but remember they still have the bad part, cholesterol.
If your cholesterol is normally below 200, eggs are a good source of protein and inexpensive enough to enjoy a few times a week. So, yes diabetics, relish those eggs and praise the hen!

When my market has a sale on eggs (Easter is a great time), I will  usually buy two dozen and make hardboiled eggs for a snack during the day and then a dinner omelet. I am, and always have been one to eat them scrambled but since mastering the perfect poached egg, I often will make something that I can top with an egg and once a month I make this favorite breakfast dish.

Today I made a Deviled Egg Salad. Probably the best egg salad I have ever eaten.
If you like heat this salad is for you.

Deviled Egg Salad
makes 2 sandwiches
* 4 hard boiled eggs, diced (I use an egg slicer both ways)
* 1/3 cup low fat mayonnaise
* 1 teaspoon horseradish mustard
* 1 teaspoon Sambal Oelek (rooster sauce)
* Salt & pepper to taste
* 2 teaspoons Mirin

Mix everything together and let rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour if possible. Overnight is the best.

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April 19, 2013

Cream of Cauliflower Soup - I Think?

There is no cream in this soup, if you don't count the butter (butter is made from cream and used here as a garnish).
I think it should be called Creamy Cauliflower Soup but this is not my recipe. I was testing it for Cook's Illustrated Magazine. We are asked nicely not to blog about the tests until the recipe makes it into the magazine but they never let you know if it does.
I suppose I will be in trouble.
I have to say that this recipe changed my whole mindset about technique vs. ingredients = great flavor.
Simple but the best ingredients you can afford and small tweaks with basic simple techniques is all you need to produce gourmet scrumptious dishes.

A few good examples would be roasting, caramelizing, reducing and braising.
I have been taken down a peg, so sure I could tell a good recipe from a blah one by the ingredient list. This recipe had me totally fooled because I had given it a death sentence before I took knife in hand.

Shame on me, how dare I? The Nudge inhaled it and proclaimed it delicious!
OK, I have to admit it was really good, but I deserve some credit. Without the complementary garnishes, this would be a very typical SPA soup, you know, healthy with some flavor but not good enough for company. I wasn't totally wrong in my initial assessment but in any other scenario, I would never have given it a thought, but because it was from professionals and I take my testing assignments seriously, I went into it with an open mind.

I can not recommend this soup to anyone who does not adore cauliflower because it is all about the cauliflower. No flavored broth or stock to mask the vegetable flavor and cauliflower can have a unique flavor for some, that's why roasting is usually recommended.

Would I make it again? Probably not as written. Not a fan of butter, and browning it and using as a finishing oil was not something I would think of doing again. While it was way too over the top for me, I would finish with a drizzle of a gourmet nut oil and replace the water with a vegetable stock.
Other than that it was a light creamy soup that had tons of cauliflower flavor.

Cream of Cauliflower Soup
Serves 6
Tested for Cook's Illustrated 
* 1 head cauliflower (2 pounds)
* 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
* 1 small onion, halved and sliced thin
* 1 leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced this and washed thoroughly
* Salt & pepper
* 4 1/2 cups water
* 1/4 teaspoon sherry vinegar
* 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives

1. Trim end of cauliflower core even with florets and discard. Cut core from inside cauliflower but do not discard that (this will be cooked separately, first before the florets are added). Trim off any green leaves and slice lengthwise and then across into thin half moons.
Transfer to medium bowl. Cut heaping 1 cup of 1/2" florets from head and set aside (this is the garnish).
Halve remaining head, then slice whole section into 1/2" thick slices. Place cut cauliflower in a separate bowl from sliced core.

2. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion, leek and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened but not browned, about 7 minutes.

3. Increase heat to medium-high, add 4 cups of the water and bowl of core pieces and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add remaining reserved cauliflower florets, return to simmer and continue to cook until cauliflower is tender and crumbles, 15-20 minutes longer.

4. While soup simmers, melt remaining 5 tablespoons butter in 8" skillet over medium heat. Add reserved florets and cook, stirring frequently, until floret are golden brown and butter is browned, 4-6 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and use slotted spoon to transfer to mall bowl. Toss florets with vinegar and season with salt to taste, Pour browned butter in skillet into a small pitcher and reserve for garnishing.

5. Process soup in blender until smooth, about 45 seconds. Return pureed soup to pot and place over medium heat. Return soup to simmer, adjusting consistency with up to remaining 1/2 cup water (soup should have velvety texture but settle into flat surface after being stirred) and season to taste with salt. Serve, garnishing individual bowls with browned florets, drizzle of brown butter, chives and pepper to taste.

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April 18, 2013

You Call It Salsa, I Call It Salsa Fresca

Couple month's ago I posted a recipe for these and the green pepper salsa was the clear winner of this dinner.
Last night I prepared chicken & pepper quesadillas and although I like quesadillas, I really wanted to make a batch of green pepper salsa again so I could snap a decent pic and post the salsa here and on my sister blog.

Traditional salsa is tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic, red peppers (or canned green chilies), onions, lime juice and oil. Some are made with canned tomatoes (gives it that steamed in a jar texture), roasted garlic and peppers and while they are all good versions, I like the ones that use all fresh veggies. Europeans would call this a salsa fresca or a relish. This is so healthy and vibrant, it would add something terrific on something plain Jane.

Difference with this is the amount of green peppers and the secret ingredient addition of ketchup. I love tart but I am from the B.Flay school of adding a touch of sweet to take that rough edge off the tart.
Now that low sugar ketchup is available, it makes the perfect sweet to the lime juice and gives the sauce a slight thickness to it.
The Nudge loves the green peppers, so since both of us loved this salsa, it will be our go to all summer. I might just have to buy a bag of tortilla chips.

Salsa Fresca
makes 2 cups
* 1 very large ripe tomato, seeded and diced
* 1/2 medium green pepper, diced
* 1 large jalapeno, seeded and ribs removed
* 1 tablespoon low sugar ketchup (Heinz makes a good one)
* 1 lime, juiced
* 1 tablespoon minced cilantro or parsley
* 1/4 small red onion, minced
* salt & pepper to taste
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 6 shakes of Tobasco
* 1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix everything on a small bowl and serve.

Ideas for using fresh salsa (besides Tex-Mex foods):
Spoon on top of steamed and cooled mussels.
Warm and spoon on top of grilled or roasted fish.
Add to rice and serve hot or cold.
Make a black bean salad.
Grill crostini and use as a bruschetta.
Add to macaroni and cheese.
Stuff into a chicken breast.
Bake it on bread for a change from calorie laden Garlic Bread.

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April 16, 2013

Millet Grits with BBQ Shrimp, NOLA Style

The last time I made Crescent City BBQ Shrimp (New Orleans style) I used Emeril's recipe and let's face it, it was loaded with butter. It was wonderful but there had to be a better way so I took a shot at creating a lighter version with all the taste but way low in fat.

I almost forgot about a container of Butter Buds in my pantry. Not a huge real butter user, except in baking, I admit I should have been using those sprinkles more. Trust me, it tastes like real butter and now they have premixed packets making it completely user friendly.

This recipe is going to blow your mind. Low fat, gluten free, low carb and low cal but with all the taste of real New Orleans BBQ Shrimp.

What brought this on? While looking for semolina flour in the Bob's Red Mill section of my market, I stumbled on something I did not ever see before.....Millet Grits.

A huge fan of whole millet, this grind of millet peaked my interest and would be a nice addition to my grits collection. With just 15 minutes of cooking, it's doable on nights when you want a quick grain to replace rice or potatoes. There are other great reasons for eating millet.

First up, what is millet?
Millet is actually a group of related plants that produce small pearl-like grains and not a single plant. Millet is low in essential amino acids and higher than most grains in fat content, 75 percent of which is heart-healthy polyunsaturated fat. Millet has been shown to be potentially beneficial in the management of diabetes.  

Why is it good for Type 2 Diabetics?
Millet may make a good substitute for rice for some diabetics. Millet's high fiber content slows digestion and releases sugar into the bloodstream at a more even pace. This helps diabetics avoid dangerous spikes in blood sugar that lead to glucose spilling over into the urine, known as glucosuria. Millet also contains high quantities of methionine, an amino acid that is deficient in most grains, giving millet a valuable place in a vegetarian diet. A high-fat diet containing 20 percent millet protein for three weeks significantly decreased glucose and triglyceride levels.
Millet also increased levels of high-density lipoprotein, HDL, the good form of cholesterol. Millet may potentially be useful at managing insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease in Type 2 diabetes. Millet is featured among a list of healthy foods for its ability to decrease insulin resistance in the book "The 200 SuperFoods That Will Save Your Life" by registered dietitian Deborah A. Klein, M.S.
Millet is also a good source of B vitamins your body uses to process carbohydrates and contains substantial quantities of several minerals, including calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium. Klein notes that preliminary research has produced promising results for the potential of millet in treating Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Millet produced the lowest post-prandial -- after a meal -- blood sugar levels in a study on the blood sugar and insulin effects of traditional Sudanese meals. Study participants with Type 2 diabetes ate meals of wheat, sorghum, millet and maize on six difference occasions with a 1-week interval. Two-hour postprandial blood sugar levels were lowest when participants ate a millet porridge. One more reason to introduce ourselves to old grains and seeds made available by new distributors. Enough of the schooling, let's get down to the food!

What's the best thing to serve over grits of any grain?
Shrimp, baby!

Lately I can get fresh, never been frozen jumbo shrimp at my store and when the price is right (under $10 per pound) I stock up and shrimp is what's for dinner tonight.

Lightened Up NOLA BBQ Shrimp over Millet Grits
makes 4 servings

* 1 pound XL shrimp, peeled and veined
* 1 tablespoon Creole seasonings

* 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
* 2 large cloves minced garlic
* 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
* 1 lemon, sliced into 4 slices, then zested and juiced
* 1/4 cup white wine
* 1/4 teaspoon rosemary
* 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
* 2 teaspoons Tobasco sauce
* 1/4 cup Butter Buds mixed with 1/4 cup hot water
* 1 tablespoon cream (optional)

* 1 teaspoon olive oil
* 1/4 cup minced onion
* 1/3 cup millet grits
* 1 1/4 cup water
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1 teaspoon lemon zest

* 1 tablespoon liquefied Butter Buds
* 1 teaspoon  Romano cheese, grated

1. Toss the shrimp with the seasonings.
2. Heat a heavy fry pan (cast iron or dutch oven) with oil and when sizzling hot, add the shrimp and cook 1 minute on each side. Remove and reserve.
3. Lower heat to medium and add the white wine, the rosemary, Worcestershire and Tobasco. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of the zest.
4. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the millet and saute with the onions for 1 minutes. Add the water, the salt and pepper, lemon zest to the millet. Lower the heat to gently simmer for 15-20 minutes, covered.
5. When the millet is soft and looks like mashed potatoes, add the liquefied Butter Buds and cheese and stir to combine.
6. If the grits get too thick just add 1 tablespoon of water to loosen them up.
7. Add the shrimp back into the sauce with the liquefied Butter Buds and optional cream. Stir till it bubbles and spoon over the grits. Add the lemon slices and bring to the table.

Review: This style of grits were creamier than normal corn grits and will make a fine addition to my collection. Next time I make a batch, they will be added to a waffle or pancake batter for a really tasty and healthy breakfast. Even The Nudge agreed those pancakes would be good. Yummy!

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April 13, 2013

Grand Prize Winning Salmon Meatballs in a Coconut Broth - Vita Coco Pure Coconut Water Recipe Contest Entry #3

Yes, I made salmon meatballs. No, I have never cooked a salmon meatball before, nor have I eaten one.

Well, let me tell you. These babies are delicious! They are light, not overly salmon-y (you know what I mean), spicy, flavorful and this whole dish takes less than an hour to prepare.

Refreshing, nutrient rich coconut water continues to be the fastest growing beverage in the United
States, and Vita Coco is the market leader. Packed in a Tetra Pak to maximum freshness and flavor, Vita
Coco already has a reputation as an outstanding natural beverage choice, but is also an excellent
cooking ingredient. In this Recipe Redux challenge, we were encouraged to use our imagination and create wholly new recipes, or update classic ones.

Now, there are a few things you need to know before getting started. I created this recipe using both coconut water and milk and I choose to make my own homemade coconut milk. I used Vita Coco Pure Coconut Water and dried flaked coconut. I don't think I will ever buy a can again but you can certainly use a can of light coconut milk. The homemade is so easy, so fast and so much better (and inexpensive), once you make your own, you will totally agree with me.

When presented with this contest, I had no idea where to start. I don't use canned coconut milk all that often because of the bad rap it has gotten about saturated fat, but the homemade milk is uber healthy and so far, I adore coconut water and everything about it. The more I read, the more I want to play with it. I have an idea for a dessert but that's another post.
For those of you who are interested in coconut water but would like ot know more, I can tell you this.....
  • Vita Coco Pure coconut water contains 45 calories per 8 oz serving (note flavored varieties have up to 60 calories per serving but only unflavored was used for this contest)
Other good qualities of coconut water are:
  • Vita Coco Pure coconut water contains key electrolytes and nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and calcium
  • One serving of Vita Coco Pure coconut water has more potassium per serving than a banana
  • Vita Coco coconut water is ‘never from concentrate’, offering the natural refreshment of electrolyte-rich water from younger coconuts
  • Vita Coco is a nutrient rich, yet calorie poor beverage

Knowing how to make your own coconut milk is a good thing but it's not needed for this recipe. A drop of whole milk (or any nut milk) will give the flavored coconut water broth that mouth feel it needed and tame the heat a bit. For us, we loved the spice.

If salmon is not your thing, you can substitute duck, pork, poultry, and any firm fish (shrimp, scallops, monk, tilapia, catfish, tuna or swordfish), but I have to beg you to try these at least once.
If you have a meat grinder or attachment, you could use that, but I used my food processor. Worked well, just make sure not to make a puree, you want the consistency of chop meat. A few larger pieces would be fine but too large will make it hard for the mixture to bind together.

I showed two excellent ways to serve this dish. Broth and vegetables topped with the meatballs either in Chinese soup spoons or in a bowl.

Salmon Meatballs in a Coconut Broth
makes approximately a dozen meatballs

* 1 pound salmon (I prefer wild caught) or, pork, poultry and any firm fish
* 3-4 spring onions, finely chopped
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* 2 1/2 ounce (1 1/2 cups or 75g) fresh bread crumbs
* 2-4 tablespoons coconut milk
* 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
* 1 tablespoon soy sauce
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 1 tablespoon coconut date honey

* 1 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
* 1/2 teaspoon tumeric
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* 1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed, smashed and cut into batons
* 2" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin
* 1 cup stock (fish, chicken or vegetable)
* 1 1/2 cups coconut water
* 1 lime, zested and juiced
* 1 zucchini & carrot, julienned
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

To make the meatballs:
1. Cut salmon into 1/2" pieces and freeze for 10 minutes. Place half in the bowl of a processor and pulse 10 times. If it does not look like ground meat, pulse 5 more time. Remove to a large work bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Gently mix and shape into a ball.
2. Using a medium scoop, scoop balls onto a plate. Using your hands, gently roll each mound into a meatball pressing just enough so the mixture stays together.
3. In a cast iron or heavy saute pan, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and heat till it starts to shimmer. Place the meatballs into the pan and saute on all sides until they brown, about 2 minutes on each side.
4. In the same pan with the meatballs, add the spices, the lemongrass and the ginger and saute for 1 minute until you can smell the spices. Add the stock and the coconut water and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Remove the meatballs so they don't over cook and simmer the broth until it reduces in half. Add the zucchini and carrot julienne, a drop of coconut milk or whole milk and stir to combine. The residual heat from the pan will cook the vegetables to perfection. Add the lime zest, lime juice and meatballs to the pan, turn off the heat and serve immediately with the hot broth.

“By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Vita Coco and am eligible to win
prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”

April 10, 2013

Asian Noodle Bowl - Recipe Redux Vita Coco Coconut Water Recipe Contest Entry #2

I love Asian food but The Nudge does not. He's traveling this week, which is wonderful because I am using all my cooking time, creating recipes for a Recipe Redux Sponsored Challenge.

I have to be honest about the fact I knew nothing about coconut water, as I am sure more than 75% of the American people would agree with me.

Coconut water is the liquid inside green coconuts. When The Nudge was in Indonesia, he was served coconut water with lunch. They drink coconut water the way we guzzle bottled water.
Nowadays we have flavored sports drinks but Vita Coco pure coconut water is the natural way to hydrate on a hot day or after a workout.
Mostly tauted for its high potassium and key electrolytes, it is also a huge source of magnesium.

The good people at Vita Coco are sponsoring a recipe contest to show consumers that pure coconut water is also an excellent ingredient to use in everyday meals. With only 45 calories per 8 oz serving, which is a good thing, the other exciting thing I found out about this liquid, is how it is beneficial for diabetics and people with heart conditions (like my Dad).

Magnesium plays an important role in carbohydrate metabolism. It may influence the release and activity of insulin, the hormone that helps control blood glucose levels. Low blood levels of magnesium are frequently seen in individuals with type 2 diabetes. For more in depth information on the benefits of magnesium in your diet, this site goes into everything you would ever need to know and more.

I know that Vita Coco shelf stable containers will be a regular in my pantry and you should consider doing the same.
While my smoothie was a good start, I think this soup is an excellent follow-up and good example of how easy it is to use coconut water in every day dishes, not just for drinking.

This noodle bowl recipe is MEGA healthy, has HUGE flavor, is EXTREMELY easy to make and not much prep work is involved. The leftovers stay fresh and it is easily transported. Kids will love the noodles, will even eat the vegetables and really, it's substitution friendly.

Nowadays you can buy pre-sliced packages of Asian vegetables and that makes it even easier.
The chicken and vegetables are poached in it, the noodles are cooked in it and the broth is made from it. You can't possibly get more from this powerhouse ingredient than in this dish.
I love finding new ingredients that will extend my life with no extra effort. A win-win for all.

This is how I did it:
Pull out a 3 quart stockpot and pour in a 16oz container of coconut water. Bring to a gentle simmer, add the ginger, shallot and lemongrass and a piece of chicken of choice.
Remove the chicken and strain out the solids. Place the dried mushrooms in the hot liquid and let it hydrate in the poaching water.

Meanwhile, remove the chicken from the bone and shred into bite-sized pieces.
Spoon out the mushrooms, and add the dried chicken broth packet, all the vegetables and the ramen noodles. Slice the mushrooms and add it to the pot.

In a separate bowl mix all the liquid ingredients and pour them into the pot. Bring the stockpot to a boil, add the chicken and simmer for 3 minutes.

You can exchange the chicken for shrimp or beef, the vegetables to ones you prefer and you have a customized Asian Noodle Bowl in under 45 minutes and in one pot. It just doesn't get any better than that.

Noodle Bowl
makes 4 lunch/2 dinner bowls

* 2 cups Vita Coco pure coconut water (unflavored)
* 1 chicken breast/leg quarter, bone-in
* 5 dried shiitake mushrooms
* 1/2 cup sliced pea pods
* 1/2 cup shredded Napa or Savoy cabbage
* 1 large carrot, julienned
* 1/4 cup julienned red pepper
* 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
* 1 green onion, sliced
* 5 slices of fresh ginger
* 1 small shallot, sliced
* 1 stem lemongrass, cut into 2" pieces and smash with the back of a knife (no lemongrass, use one slice of lemon peel)
* 2 cloves garlic, smashed
* 1 packet HerbOx sodium-free instant broth and seasoning bouillon (chicken or beef)
* 1 (3oz) package of ramen noodle soup (discard the flavor packet)
* 1 teaspoon each soy sauce, oyster sauce and agave nectar or honey
* 1/2 teaspoon each rice wine vinegar, garlic chili sauce, sesame oil and fish sauce
* 1 tablespoon chopped basil or parsley

1. Bring coconut water, chicken, slices of ginger, shallot & lemongrass, the garlic cloves, dried mushrooms and HerbOx to a simmer, cover and poach for 20 minutes.
2. Meantime in a small bowl mix soy and oyster sauces, agave, vinegar, sesame oil, fish sauce and chili sauce to taste.
3. Remove chicken and mushrooms to a plate, strain out the poaching liquid and return to the stockpot.
4. Add the pea pods, carrots, red pepper, cabbage, cilantro, scallions and noodles and simmer for 3 minutes while you slice the mushrooms and shred the chicken. Discard the chicken bone.
4. Add mushrooms, shredded chicken and basil or parsley to the noodle mixture and simmer for 2 minutes until hot.
5. Serve with extra chili sauce and adjust for salt & pepper.
Enjoy and good health!

“By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Vita Coco and am eligible to win
prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”

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April 9, 2013

Red Pepper Cream Sauce

When you cut carbs out of your meals, you need to make that plate more exciting or you will tire of your food and that ooey gooey Mac 'n Cheese starts to look really good.

I bookmarked this sauce after The Nudge told me about a red pepper soup he had while traveling.
He totally surprised me with that one. I'm the roasted red pepper lover and use them in everything. To me a Caprese Salad could be lunch every day. I wonder if he would go for a red pepper sauce.

We all know red peppers have more Vitamin C than oranges and although they are considered a starchy vegetable, small amounts pack a big punch.

This sauce packs a punch. I could see this with grilled shrimp, a wonderful lamb chop and it really brings a simple roasted chicken breast to another level. Brush an ear of corn before grilling and you have a unique corn dish.

It reminded me of a Romesco sauce I made years back but without the bread.
All the ingredients get dropped into a processor and then simmered on the stove till it thickens. Right before serving, a teaspoon of lemon juice is added just to brighten it up.

This sauce is gluten-free, low carb, diapropriate and if you use almond or soy milk, Vegan. 

I roasted boned-in chicken breasts very simply with olive oil, salt & pepper at 400° for 35 minutes.
It keeps the meat moist and the bones add flavor. Leftovers will make a terrific chicken salad for the weekend. 

Red Pepper Cream Sauce
Inspired by eatingwell.com

* 1 large roasted red pepper
* 1 cup finely chopped onion
* 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
* 1 teaspoon agave nectar
* 1-2 teaspoons chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
* 1 cup light cream
* 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasonings
* 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1. Place the pepper, onion, garlic, agave, chipotle and seasonings in a processor and puree.
2. Add to a small saucepan with the cream. Season with salt & pepper.
3. Simmer on low until the mixture reduces by half. Add the lemon juice, stir and serve.

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April 8, 2013

Cake Mix Chocolate Chip Cookies

Being the non-baker that I am, I always have a boxed cake mix in my pantry.
Those days when I get a request to bake something on the fly, I can make flavored bundt or sheet cakes and even cupcakes (if I was one to actually make a cupcake).

Having eaten the ice cream sandwiches and the last of a piece of carrot cake from Easter, I pulled out my box of yellow cake mix and while I was pondering what flavoring to use, I saw a recipe on the side panel for Walnut & Chocolate Chip Cookies. Having eaten my share of walnuts this weekend, I did have chips and cocoa powder.


These were easy, fast and crispy, crunchy chocolaty good.
I used a #2 scoop and one batch made 20 cookies.

I was afraid they would turn out with a cakey texture but upon cooling they stayed crunchy thru to the middle. I would make these again using different ingredients and extracts.

I did not add any extra sugar to the batter but I sprinkled demerara crystals on the top before baking which gave them a nice crinkle.

Trust me, if you forgot to bake something for your kids bake sale, these are for you. Even I could not screw them up and they can be whipped up in under an hour, start to finish.

Chocolate Chip Boxed Cake Cookies
makes approx. 20 (3") cookies

* 1 yellow cake mix
* 2 large eggs
* 2/3 cup shortening
* 1/4 cup miniature chocolate chips
* 1/4 cup good quality cocoa powder

Using a stand or hand mixer, beat half the cake mix, the eggs and shortening until fluffy. Mix the cocoa powder with the remaining half cake mix and, on low speed, add to the mixer.
Scoop onto baking sheet leaving 1" between. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes.
Remove to a rack to cool. Store in a cake keeper or cookie jar.

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April 7, 2013

Vita Coco Recipe Redux Sponsored Contest - Smoothie

About a week before we were sent this Recipe Redux recipe contest sponsored by the Vita Coco Pure coconut water, I was Googling date honey. My interest was due to a Diabetic Cookbook using date honey as a natural sweetener to replace cane sugar. Although easy to order online, it is quite expensive and I choose to make my own using dates and coconut water (half the cost less shipping). Yes, that's right. When I read my email I had to laugh. I already had a recipe brewing in my fridge.

Best part was the healthy aspect of drinking pure coconut water. I didn't even know it existed. The possibilities were endless.
Since date honey wasn't one of the categories and did not totally qualify as a dessert, I got busy using my honey in each category of the contest.
This smoothie was the first.

Let's introduce you to the wonders of coconut water. Different than coconut milk or cream, coconut water is the liquid that resides in the interior of fresh green coconuts.
You have seen the travel shows were somewhere on an island a native climbs a tree, knocks down a coconut, cuts off the top, sticks a straw into it and the host drinks the liquid inside.
That is coconut water.

Now for the good part:
  • Vita Coco Pure coconut water contains 45 calories per 8 oz serving (note flavored varieties have up to 60 calories per serving)
  • Vita Coco Pure coconut water contains key electrolytes and nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and calcium
  • One serving of Vita Coco Pure coconut water has more potassium per serving than a banana
  • Vita Coco coconut water is ‘never from concentrate’, offering the natural refreshment of electrolyte-rich water from younger coconuts
  • Vita Coco is a nutrient rich, yet calorie poor beverage
  • Vita Coco can be found in over 60,000 retail outlets, Whole being one of them.

An excellent replacement for regular water in any recipe.
I used 12oz in this batch of a whole food smoothie. We have become huge fans of breakfast smoothies in this house and I make a large blender-full and The Nudge takes a travel coffee mug full to work every other day.

Coconut Date Honey
makes 8 ounces
* 10 Majool dated, pitted and quartered
* 1 cup coconut water

1. Place the dates in a glass container with the coconut water in the cooler for 1 week.
2. Puree the mixture and press through a fine mesh sieve. Reserve the pulp to use in cakes, cookies or anything you would use dried fruits for.
3. Keep cold, will last for months in the fridge but you will use it up faster than that.

Banana, Yogurt, Coconut Honey & Coconut Water Smoothie
makes 1 quart
* 4 ripe bananas, peeled
* 2 tablespoons coconut date honey
* 1 1/2 cups Vita Coco Pure unflavored coconut water
* 1 cup Greek yogurt

1. Place ingredients in the container of a blender and blend until smooth. Keep refrigerated.

“By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Vita Coco and am eligible to win
prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”

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April 6, 2013

Diabetes and Lessons Learned

Wow, did I get an eye opener yesterday. I felt as if someone blind-sided me with a sucker punch.
What upsets me the most is how I thought I was well educated in the world of diabetes and their diets and after spending three years pouring over sites like the Mayo Clinic, the American Diabetes Association and magazines like Eating Well, Cooking Light and Diabetes Forecast, etc.....in one day I came to realize, I have no clue how diabetics really eat.

I found out, quite quickly that my site fits into a very small niche in the overall world of diabetic eating. It fits into the lives of "people who are on the rim or are worried because diabetes runs in the family, can start now on learning how to eat to prevent them from sliding over that slippery slope into full blown diabetes".

Since it has been surmised that over 5 million people have diabetes and don't know it and 3x that many are like me, right on the verge of coming to grips with the insulin pen, you would think my small niche just grew into a huge part of the American public. You and me are so wrong. I really reach no one. If no one knows they have diabetes, how will they know how to eat healthy and be in control?

I am not Gluten Free, Weight Watchers, Paleo, South Beach, Atkins, Clean Living, Vegan, or Vegetarian.

I completely understand why diabetics world over constantly complain how convoluted the recipes and information out there can be. I used to think that recommending rice and pasta as a side dish went against everything I read.

It comes down to this....
Book smart does not make you life smart. Live a year in my shoes and then we'll talk.

I get it, I totally get it. I have been living with my head buried in the sand.
Diabetes is scary stuff. Scary because there is no exact formula. Sure, you could eat Vegan or follow a Paleo diet, but why give up foods if you don't have too.

My SIL eats potatoes, drinks wine, has a sandwich, pizza and dessert. She injects by calculating the amount of carbs she thinks she will be eating and tests before and 2 hours after. Once she gets a feel for how her body reacts to certain foods, she can control it, sometimes. There are days when 200 is a "wish" reading and she can't get below 400 without injecting more than she knows is not good. It is then that getting out and walking around the block would help, but when you have a house full of guests, it's something you just can't do. Why? Because people do not understand the logistics of diabetes.

When I post the food I eat, it is usually the meal I serve to The Nudge, not what I actually eat.
I did find out after talking about this newest revelation that The Nudge would not miss carbs in his diet. Yes, he loves bread but he can make a PB&J without me, and he does. When we go out to eat and I order the rack of dry rub ribs, he gets his meatball parmigiana sandwich.

If I expected this blog to be my career and business, I would have to specialize in one diet and commit to cooking with the foods from that diet. Maybe one day I will, but right now the whole purpose is to use this blog as a personal food diary and to document how far I have come to understand the world of diabetes and how it effects me.

While I do make lots of low carb dishes, I should not post a picture of what The Nudge eats for dinner unless I intend to change the blog to "Delish is the Dish".

Go hubby!!!!


April 5, 2013

Braided Sole with Basil-Butter Sauce

Flounder was on sale this week, so it was a good time to put this dish on the menu. I picked out the three longest fillets I could find because I need to braid them. Each fillet was cut into three equal lengths and braided as your would a pony tail. It made the dish look good enough for company.

A bed of sauteed greens (Swiss chard, spinach, beet greens or mustard greens) goes down the middle of the plate under a spoonful of WW couscous and then the fish on top of that. The sauce is spooned over the fish and it dribbles down. Simple but very flavorful.

I found a live potted basil plant in my Shop-Rite for the same price as the cut bunch (which was totaly wilted, yuck) last trip and until I can grow my usual large pots, this is perfect for now. Sometimes a cook just has to have fresh basil in the winter.

You may want to make a few extra servings, I could tell The Nudge wasn't satisfied with one piece of fish, I should have served him two. Next time. Learn from my mistake.

Those who do not want to ingest carbs, double the spinach and omit the couscous.

Braided Sole with Basil-Butter Sauce
makes 2 servings

* 2 sole fillets (1/4 pound each)
* 1/4 cup dry white wine
* 2 tablespoons minced shallots
* 1 garlic clove, crushed
* 1" strip lemon zest
* 2 tablespoons whipped butter
* 2 tablespoons water
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice
* 1 cup cooked spinach (hot)
* 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil leaves

1. Cut each fillet lengthwise into three equal strips, starting about 1" from the larger end. Starting from the center strip, lap the strips one over the other to braid the fillet, folding the end under or securing with a toothpick while baking (just remember to remove. I use colored ones so I can see them).
2. In a small saucepan combine wine, shallots, garlic and lemon peel and cook over high heat until liquid is reduced to 2 tablespoons (about half).
3. Pour through a strainer, discarding solids. Return liquid to pot and whisk in butter. Remove and keep warm.
4. Preheat broiler. Spray baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and drizzle with the water and lemon.Season with a pinch of salt and paprika.
5. Broil until fish flakes easily about 3-4 minutes.
6. Arrange spinach in a gratin pan and place fish on top. Add basil to butter sauce and spoon over fish.

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April 4, 2013

Carbonara Sauce

This is a post about the sauce. You can use any pasta your family likes.
I used four cheese tortellini. Not normally on the menu, my Shop-Rite had them at a managers special for $1.25 each. I bought two packages and placed them in the freezer.

I do know the correct way this dish should be prepared but I am slightly squeamish about undercooked egg whites. If I see them I will push my dish away. Every one has a food fetish, that is mine.

To make sure this does not happen I beat my eggs well, and then add in the cheese. This gets tossed with the hot pasta, bacon or pancetta, pasta water and lots of black pepper. Some people will add peas or even asparagus, we like ours simple. If I want a vegetable, I will serve spinach on the side and have been known to make that a salad.

Serve with extra grated cheese. This is one pasta presentation we never tire of and The Nudge thought it was worth an extra helping.

Carbonara Sauce
makes 4 servings

* 2 large eggs
* 1/2 cup grated cheese, divided
* 5 pieces of pancetta, diced or 4 strips bacon
* 1 tablespoon reserved pancetta fat
* 1/4 cup reserved pasta water
* Pinch of salt
* Generous amount of black pepper
* 12 ounces fresh pasta or 8 ounces dried spaghetti

1. Beat eggs, half the grated cheese (1/4c) and cooled bacon drippings. Set aside.
2. Boil pasta according to package directions.
3. Pour egg mixture into large pasta bowl.
4. Using a spider or large slotted spoon, add pasta to mixture in bowl. Toss quickly to coat.
5. Place bowl over pasta water pot and continue to toss until the sauce thickens and adheres to the pasta. Add the pancetta (bacon), black pepper and pasta water to loosen the sauce. Taste for salt.
6. Remove pasta bowl from pot, sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese and bring to the table.

Happy Eating!!

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April 3, 2013

Sloppy Joes

Like many dishes from the 30's, it is hard to pinpoint the history. Wars have many ways of leaving an imprint on people's daily lives, from the positive introduction of foreign foods to most of the American comfort foods of today. Sloppy Joe's was one of them. Some say the rationing of foods created many one pot meals we still eat today. Every mother learned how to stretch their pitiful allotment of meats and dairy.
Although one theory is, it was loosely based on the loose meat sandwiches they served in the middle of America and others will tell you that loose meat sandwich came from the meals that were fed to people during the depression where meat had to go a long way and feed many people.

What ever the origin of this dish is, I know this for sure, it's one easy, tasty dish. Well, this recipe is.
I admit I used to buy the powdered packet of spices and mix them with a can of tomato paste and water, but after making this recipe there really is no reason not to make it from scratch.
All that tomato paste is actually burning a whole in your intestinal tract, and we wouldn't want that would we, especially for the kids. Starting them on a daily diet of Tums is not the way to raise your family.

I always have a cup of homemade spaghetti sauce in my fridge but a good jarred one will work as well.
Try to find the ones with the least amount of fat and sugar (minimum 4g). Yes, they all have lots of sugar, not many manufacturers will want to simmer a sauce for hours when a bucketful of sugar does the same thing in 20 minutes.

I was surprised how easy this was to make and even though I doubled the recipe, I could have doubled that and it would have disappeared. I forgot how much The Nudge loves this kind of food and it has been a while since we had a good Sloppy Joe. His mom made this a lot and my mom did not but I can appreciate a classic, especially this healthy version.

While The Nudge had his on Martin's party rolls, I personally like the open-face concept. I guess I just don't like all the filling oozing out every time I take a bite and less bread is a good thing. The Nudge never seems to have that problem with the small slider rolls, he pops the whole thing into his mouth.

Make a double batch and freeze half for later. Next time you want Stuffed Peppers, defrost, add some chopped pimento stuffed olives and cooked rice. BINGO! Bake until soft and dinner is served.

Sloppy Joe's
serves 4 (4oz each)

* 1 pound 85% lean ground meat (all white meat turkey or chicken also)
* 1/2 cup each chopped onion & green bell pepper
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 cup marinara sauce or canned Italian chopped tomatoes
* 2 tablespoons low sugar ketchup
* 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon powdered mustard
* salt & pepper to taste
* Dozen slider rolls
* Grated Smoked Gouda (optional)

1. Saute ground meat with onions, peppers and garlic until the meat is browned.
2. Drain all the fat off and add the rest of the ingredients with 1/4 cup water.
3. Cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes.

Label nutritionals do not include the rolls.

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