Wish Upon A Dish: January 2013

January 30, 2013

Healthy Crunchy Buffalo Chicken Bites

I had this idea the other day, while reading all the great posts on Super Bowl Party foods. I really don't do appetizers these days. I used to do The Nudge's friends party every year, from soup to nuts, since he opened his house.
He's in Iowa now and no one we know does a party. Let's face it, we don't enjoy the noise at our local bar on Super Bowl Sunday and The Nudge would rather eat in. I don't blame him, it's cheaper, it's comfortable and it's not driving after drinking. What's not to love about that?

My idea was to create a healthy but crunchy non-fried version of Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Sauce. I would use phyllo dough. At only 57 calories a sheet and all the crunch of fried, they are a great way to indulge and not feel guilty.
Since there is more phyllo in a package than one appetizer could use (for two of us), I also had leftover Asian Sloppy Joe mix that I would also roll.

There were many things wrong with my attempts and only a few that were good. Let's start with what I learned NOT to do if I make these again.

Cook the meat before wrapping in the phyllo dough. Plan on using a whole sheet, don't even try to cut them.
NEVER use water to moisten them.....lol (and that is a definite NO NO). Putting cheese of any kind will burst them no matter what you do (it melts and sinks to the bottom and it's just a mess).

Make sure you have plenty of landing pads because you will make plenty. Never make the dough wait for you. Always have everything right in front of you. Once you lift that towel the phyllo is under, do not let out the cat, answer the phone or go to potty.

The good.....
These were delicious and exactly what I was going for. After eating all the bad ones, I ate the final prep after taking their picture. Dipped into a Kefir Blue Cheese Dressing, I could make a meal out of them. They were still crunchy, even after 3 hours of baking, good at room temp (so they can be baked ahead) and relatively simple to make.
The Nudge thought they were excellent and when he ate them, they were 8 hours old and still crunchy. If you don't do what I did, once you get the rhythm going, they are easy to make and can even be frozen to portion out as needed. He insisted on taking them to work for lunch today.

Now for the recipe.

Buffalo Chicken Phyllo Bites
1 breast makes 12 bites

* 1 boneless chicken breast, cut into 2" fingers
* 1/4 cup Franks Wing Sauce
* Olive Oil or butter flavored spray
* 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
* 1 cup Kefir Blue Cheese Dressing
* 12 sheets phyllo dough, under a damp kitchen towel

1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.
2. Stir the chicken with the wing sauce.
3. Bake the chicken for 10 minutes.
4. Remove 1 sheet of dough, spray both sides and fold it in thirds.
5. Place one piece of chicken in the middle bottom on the dough.
6. Fold right and left sides over ends of chicken. Roll to the edge and seal with a touch of eggwash.
7. Place on a broiler rack and bake for 15 minutes.
8. Serve on a platter with small condiment containers of blue cheese dressing mixed with the crumbles.
(for a low fat version omit the crumbles)

I also rolled 12 sheets the same way but with a sloppy joe filling. Serve those with a guacamole sour cream and salsa.
You could also roll a slice of chicken sausage, little piggy or kielbasa in the dough and serve with a good mustard.

Enjoy your game!!

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BBQ Chicken and Refried Bean Quesadillas

Last night I made quesadillas. I was The Nudge's idea actually, which surprised the hell out of me. He doesn't usually ask for Tex-Mex but we do have a lot of leftover chicken to eat and it was an excellent idea.

These would taste better if I could have gotten to my grill but I probably won't uncover that baby until Easter time. My cast iron skillet did just fine, thank you.

We were bad kiddies and each ate a whole one, they were that good.
This was what was in each one.

A layer of refried beans, sprinkled with minced jalapenos, topped with shredded chicken, a drizzle of BBQ sauce, then a mixture of cheddar and jack cheeses. I made a lime yogurt crema and pico de gallo.

I should make these more often, I forgot how simple and good they can be. Nothing in these is bad for you. Low fat, low carb and low fat Cabot cheeses and totally Diabetic Friendly.

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January 29, 2013

Chinese Take-Out Orange Chicken

When I am in the mood for Orange Chicken, Chinese Take-Out Style, I go to this recipe from Cook's Illustrated. It never fails to deliver in taste, texture and technique (read 3x before starting and make sure ALL your ingredients are measured and ready.
Usually chicken thighs are the meat of choice but I am using a breast which is The Nudge's favorite chicken of choice. Aren't I a good wife?

While it is not the quickest gun in the East it is well worth all the prep involved. I suggest you put this on the back burner for when company is a comin', but in the meantime you should make a test run just to make sure I'm right.

I paired this up with sauteed sugar snap peas but any green vegetable would work.

Orange-Flavored Chicken
Serves 4-6

Marinade and Sauce
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut in 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup orange juice, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons grated zest, and 8 strips orange peel (each about 2 inches long by 1/2 inch wide) from 2 oranges
  • 6 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (about 1 inch), grated (1 tablespoon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, plus 2 teaspoons
  • 2 tablespoons water (cold)
  • 8 small whole dried red chiles (optional)  

Coating and Frying Medium 
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 cup cornstarch  
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups peanut oil
  1. FOR THE MARINADE AND SAUCE: Place chicken in 1-gallon zipper-lock bag; set aside. Combine chicken broth, orange juice, grated zest, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne in large saucepan (with at least 3-quart capacity); whisk until sugar is fully dissolved. Measure out 3/4 cup mixture and pour into bag with chicken; press out as much air as possible and seal bag, making sure that all pieces are coated with marinade. Refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes, but no longer.
  2. Bring remaining mixture in saucepan to boil over high heat. In small bowl, stir together cornstarch and cold water; whisk cornstarch mixture into sauce. Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, until thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Off heat, stir in orange peel and chiles (sauce should measure 1 1/2 cups); set sauce aside.
  3. FOR THE COATING: Place egg whites in pie plate; using fork, beat until frothy. In second pie plate, whisk cornstarch, cayenne, and baking soda until combined. Drain chicken in colander or large mesh strainer; thoroughly pat chicken dry with paper towels. Place half of chicken pieces in egg whites and turn to coat; transfer pieces to cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly. Place dredged chicken pieces on wire rack set over baking sheet; repeat with remaining chicken.
  4. TO FRY THE CHICKEN: Heat oil in 11- to 12-inch Dutch oven or straight-sided sauté pan with at least 3-quart capacity over high heat until oil registers 350 degrees on instant-read or deep-fry thermometer. Carefully place half of chicken in oil one piece at a time; fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning each piece with tongs halfway through cooking. Transfer chicken to large plate lined with paper towels. Return oil to 350 degrees and repeat with remaining chicken.
  5. TO SERVE: Reheat sauce over medium heat until simmering, about 2 minutes. Add chicken and gently toss until evenly coated and heated through. Serve immediately.

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January 27, 2013

Beef Riggies

A while ago I bought a London Broil. Well, it's a top round sirloin but around here they call it a London Broil. My guess is, the cut is a London Broil from a top round steak.
Confused? I am.
I decided to slice it thin and saute it quickly for a Stroganoff.
It was horrible so there was no reason to expose you to that post. This is way better.

Since I still had half in the freezer, I decided to grind it and make a beef ragu.
For this recipe it was the perfect cut of meat. I will never buy another London Broil again, such a waste of money.

I made rigatoni to serve with the ragu. I wanted a pasta with an opening to hold all that luscious meet sauce and rigatoni's fit the bill.

About once a month The Nudge gets a visitor and they take him out to lunch. Usually he asks me what's on the menu for dinner so he doesn't eat the same thing. This morning he did not remember to do that.

Guess what he had for lunch? Oh, yeah.
Know what he said when he found out? "Wow, that's great, now I get to compare yours to theirs."

He's so lucky he was at work, nothing I could do but ask him if the sauce he had on his rigatoni was a meat sauce.
"Well, no."

Did you get a dollop of ricotta cheese on top?
"Well, no."

Did they serve it with homemade dinner rolls?
"Well, no, but they did have sliced bread."

So basically, smartazz, you will be comparing the pasta?
"I got a phone call, call you back when I'm in the car."

Never mess with a woman that spent the whole day making a Beef Ragu.
Riggie that, my dear.

Beef Ragu
makes 6 cups

* 8oz not so tender beef, cut into 1/2" cubes, partially frozen
* 1/2 large Spanish onion, chopped
* 1 large carrot
* 1 large parsnip
* 4 cloves garlic
* 1 (28oz) can whole plum tomatoes, chopped
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 tablespoon tomato paste
* 1 (14oz) can diced tomatoes with oregano, garlic and basil
* 1 cup white wine
* 1 cup water
* 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
* 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* salt & pepper

1. Make sure the meat is almost frozen so that it processes easily and does not get caught up in the blade.
Process until it resembles ground chuck. Remove to a bowl.
2. In the same processor bowl, pulse the onion, carrot, parsnip and garlic until they are minced but not pureed. Remove to bowl with meat.
3. In a heavy stockpot, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Add the meat mixture, turn the heat to medium high and saute until the meat and the vegetables are cooked and the bottom of the pan starts to take on color, about 20 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Saute for 5 minutes more.
4. Add the wine and stir, then the water and the tomatoes.
5. Season with the thyme, red pepper flakes and salt & pepper.
6. Cook, uncovered for 1 hour or until the bubbles are small, stirring every 10 minutes or so.
7. Taste for additional seasoning and adjust.

Two cups of sauce is enough for 2 cups of dry rigatoni and that is enough for two dinners and one lunch in this house.
Figure 1 cup sauce to 1 cup dried pasta for each serving.
A tablespoon of ricotta right before serving, and grated cheese if desired.
I never say no to either.

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January 26, 2013

Homemade Honey White Bread

I have had Ina's Honey Sandwich Loaf recipe bookmarked for over a year. God knows why I have not made this sooner. Yesterday I ran to Wally's World to pick up a few things and forgot to get a loaf of bread. The Nudge likes Martin's Potato Breads and Shoprite only carries it and I was not about to run into that store for one loaf of bread.
Perfect time to make Ina's bread recipe.

OMG, this was the best sandwich bread I ever made. Extremely easy if you have a stand mixer with a dough hook but I imagine you could use your bread machine to make this.
I halved the recipe (which divided perfectly) because I only have one good loaf pan but I am seriously thinking of actually buying a second pan just to make two loaves to freeze one.

The Nudge ate two PB&J sandwiches, it was that good. If I had known how foolproof this was, I would have been baking and saving on bread for over a year.

Unfortunately I did not take a pic of the whole loaf before The Nudge cut into it but I did manage to take a picture of the second batch of bread that I used for slider/dinner rolls.

I think that every Friday should be Loaf Day, this way we can have fresh toast on Sunday. I also love that I can slice it Texas-style for Grilled Cheese and the ends are perfect for croutons. Nothing will go to waste.

If you have never made bread before but want to start, this is the perfect recipe for you. Just make sure you have everything measured and in separate bowls and you will be rising your first loaf in 15 minutes.

Honey White Bread
Adapted from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa via Food Network

makes 2 loaves
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm whole milk (110 degrees)
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks
  • 5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
1. Place the water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. If the bowl is cold, be sure the water temperature doesn't drop below 110 degrees F. Add the yeast and sugar; stir and allow them to dissolve for 5 minutes.
2. Add the milk, butter, and honey. Mix on medium speed until blended. Add the egg yolks, 3 cups of the flour, and the salt. Mix on low speed for about 5 minutes. With the mixer still on low speed, add 2 more cups of flour. Raise the speed to medium and slowly add just enough of the remaining flour so the dough doesn't stick to the bowl. Add the flour slowly; you can always add more but you can't take it out. Knead on medium speed for about 8 minutes, adding flour as necessary.
3. Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for a minute, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Grease a bowl with butter, put the dough in the bowl, then turn it over so the top is lightly buttered. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow it to rise for one hour, until doubled in volume.
4. Grease two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans with butter. Divide the dough in half, roll each half into a loaf shape and place each in a prepared pan. Cover again with the damp towel, and allow to rise again for an hour, until doubled in volume.
5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. When the dough is ready, brush the tops with the egg white and bake the breads for 40 to 45 minutes, until they sound hollow when tapped. Turn them out of the pans and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Review: My first try being such a great success, I decided to make a second batch. I followed the same exact directions, after the first rise, the only difference being I weighed each piece into 2oz balls (I ended up with 14). I placed them, touching, in a square cake pan, allowed them to rise again and reduced the baking time to 20 minutes (which is the average for baking dinner rolls). Perfect the second time. The last two that did not fit, I baked in a 3/4 cup ramekin (roll on the right side of pic).

Half of them where put aside for my Asian Sloppy Joe Sliders and the others for a Riggie and Ragu dinner we had on Thursday (recipe posts for both in a few days).

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January 25, 2013

Flounder Francaise Almondine

I know I have probably posted about Flounder Francaise before but this time I am doing a combo Francaise and Almondine. After reading about how good almonds are for glucose control I have made a resolution to use as many nuts in cooking as I can get away with.
Plus, I JUST LOVE ALMONDS. They are so mellow, they stay crunchy and go with just about everything. Baked brie with almonds, Trout Almondine, Almond-Carrot Paté, Almond & Chocolate Ice Cream.....etc, etc.
Great with chicken, perfect with green beans, wonderful on desserts and a Mandarin Almond Salad is to die for.. I always keep a huge container in my freezer.

I bought green beans to pair with the almonds so why not make a Flounder Almondine. One pot wonder, 30 minute meal and healthy. I am using ICBINB instead of the butter and my favorite Francaise coating, straight from Rome.

Most dishes are made better by small tweaks and as Ina says, the volume turned up. I am turning up the volume big time tonight. This sauce is extreme lemon so if you are not like me a prefer something with just a hint of lemon, use chicken stock.

In a non-stick skillet, I melted some butter sub and tossed a handful of frozen French beans in. Once the moisture evaporated I threw in a tablespoon of Frangelica (a hazelnut liquor but you could use Amaretto) and cooked until the beans started to caramelize around the edges. Remove to a bowl. Wipe out the pan and add 1/3 cup sliced almonds. Toss over high heat until they brown. Remove to another bowl.

Make the fish coating, and just before you are ready to eat, melt a teaspoon butter sub and olive oil until it is rippling. Season the fillets with salt & pepper and coat the fillets on both sides with the egg mixture. Saute until the edges brown (about 2 minutes), flip over and repeat. Remove cooked fillets to a platter and repeat until all the fish is cooked.
Now we make the sauce. I add white wine and lemon juice to the skillet and simmer until it just starts to thicken then I add the almonds and a pat of unsalted butter. Butter subs are wonderful but they contain a lot of water and not what we want as an emulsifier.
Right before serving, I place the fillets back into the pan and simmer with the sauce to heat the fish.

Place a fillet on each plate, spoon the green beans over each fillet and then spoon the sauce.

You could serve this with rice or roasted potatoes but we prefer to do this carb free.
You could be neater with the green beans and serve them on the side but by spooning them over the fillets you will use less sauce and that's a good thing.

Flounder Francaise Almondine
makes 4 servings - 1 fillet per

* 4 (6oz) flounder fillets
* 1/2 batch egg coating
* 1/4 cup sliced almonds
* 3 teaspoons butter sub (I use ICBINB)
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 cup green beans
* 1/4 cup white wine
* 2 tablespoons (1 lemon) lemon juice
* 1 tablespoon nut liquor (Frangelica or Amaretto)
* Salt & pepper to taste
* 1 teaspoon unsalted butter

1. Melt 1 teaspoon butter sub in a non-stick skillet and saute the green beans until the edges start to crisp. Add the liquor and cook to evaporate. Remove beans to a bowl.
3. Wipe out skillet and toss in the almonds. Toast, stirring often, until they are lightly brown. Remove to bowl with green beans.
4. Dip fillet into egg coating and saute in a non-stick skillet that has 1 teaspoon both butter sub and olive oil.
5. Saute on both side until the edges brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a warmed platter and repeat with all the fillets adding another teaspoon of both butter sub and evoo.
6. In the same pan add the wine and lemon juice (and stock if using) and simmer till it starts to thicken (about 5 minutes). Add the almonds and fillets to the sauce and heat. Spoon the beans on top and serve one fillet per person. Add a pat of butter to the sauce right before spooning over the fillets.

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January 23, 2013

Baked Stuffed Mussels

I have only made this recipe once before and that had to be over 20 years ago. We never have leftover mussels in this house but for some reason I found myself freezing a pound the last time. That was OK, mussels freeze well.

I put this dish on the menu 5x and just never got around to it. Probably because when The Nudge asked me, as he does everyday, what's for dinner I told him baked mussels and he just did not sound enthusiastic about it.
Finally I did not care how he felt.
Guess what? He said (and I quote) "Never a better mussel have I had".
I knew he would love them but I agree, these were really good. Even better than I imagined them to be.

These were not a weeknight quickly but for today I had the time to make the different steps that all added up to the final preparation. Let me break it down for you..........

I pulled all the mussels from their shells, keeping the decent shells. I ended up with 24.
Make a stuffing of fresh bread crumbs, garlic, lemon zest, grated cheese, olive oil and a pinch of Italian Seasonings.
Chop the mussels and add them to the stuffing, moistening with the olive oil.
Spoon a teaspoon into each mussel half and place them on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with more olive oil and cover with foil, leaving one corner turned up.
Place the mussel pan in the oven and pour a little over a half cup of white wine into the opened corner, tap in place and bake for 40 minutes. Carefully take the foil off the pan and bake an additional 15 minutes.
Cook a handful of angel hair pasta which you have broken into thirds.
Place a mound of pasta into the middle of a pasta bowl, place the mussels around the edge and spoon some of the pan sauce over the mussels and pasta. Garnish with parsley and additional grated cheese (optional).

Enjoy! These were so good I might even buy extra mussels next time just to make these again. Would make a great appetizer for your next party without the pasta. Just treat them as you would baked clams.

Stuffed Baked Mussels
makes 32
* 1 whole wheat roll, processed into bread crumbs
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 large garlic clove, minced
* Zest of a half a lemon
* 1 teaspoon Italian Seasonings
* salt & pepper
* 1/4 cup grated cheese
* 2/3 cup white wine
* olive oil for drizzling
* Chopped parsley for garnish
* Buttered angel hair pasta (optional)

1. Remove the mussels from the shells, saving clean & intact shells.
2. Process roll with garlic, grated cheese, zest and olive oil until small crumbs.
3. Chop mussels and add to stuffing mixture. Add more olive oil if needed to moisten.
4. Spoon about a teaspoon of filling into each shell and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and cover with foil.
5. Preheat oven to 350° while you bring a gallon of salted water to a boil. Break pasta into thirds and cook according to package directions.
6. Place sheet pan in oven and pour wine into one corner. Cover tightly with foil and bake 40 minutes.
7. Uncover foil and bake an additional 15 minutes.
8. Strain pasta and melt a tablespoon of butter in the pasta.
9. Place baked mussels on top of pasta and spoon pan sauce over. Garnish with parsley.

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January 21, 2013

A Trend in Every Pot - Recipe Redux Challenge January 2013

Ah, the start of a new year. Everyone mentally makes lists of all the "new" things they promise to do or try in 2013 and it's not just in fashion, health or organizing. Food is a huge trend this year as more and more people are aware of its health benefits, it's importance to the family unit and a huge part of our social life.
I would not hesitate to state that food finally has made it back to the main stream. I am psyched.

Last year saw the insurgence of Vegan's and the awareness of Celiac and gluten-free diets. Tapas are bye bye as well as the tasting and kid's menus. Gone are the meatballs and the awful offal.

The gals over at The Recipe Redux have challenged us to pick a new trend and make a one pot meal that reflects that trend.
Already on my radar is one trend mentioned in every food news site.......eating more grains.

As a matter of fact about a year ago I bought every grain and flour there was, and then they sat there. The only thing I do make often is quinoa, but even that is getting old. I am totally intrigued with millet at the moment and that's the grain I choose for this challenge.

Pearl Millet is a principal source of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals for millions of the poorest people in the regions where it is cultivated. Pearl millet, like sorghum, is generally 9 to 13% protein, but large variations in protein content, from 6 to 21%, have been observed. Pearl millet grains are all very high in calories—precisely the reason they do wonders for growing children and pregnant women.
I have read about popping them like corn and using them as a coating for meats and fish (recipes are already in the works) and in making puddings. In South America they mix it with honey, molasses and chocolate for breakfast.

It will be expensive just like quinoa was before it became all the rage, but 1/2 cup of dry yielded 2 cups cooked so a little goes a long way. Most sites suggested pairing other grains with millet because it does have a strong flavor, but if you toast it first and then cook it, it makes it nutty and sweet. I like it, as well will you.

My first dish using this new seed is Stuffed Peppers. I wanted it to appeal to everyone (which isn't always easy to do) so I made it Vegan, Gluten-Free, Low Carb, Low Fat and totally through the roof tasty. Even kids will go for this.

After 30 minutes in the oven, the millet puffs up and looks like mini Bulgar wheat. It has a great nutty taste which works with the vegetables.
A sprinkling of Vegan Parmesan will give it a nice salty component and the pignoli, a crunch.

We ate these with a roasted chicken and declared them worthy of using again. A big deal here because The Nudge is skeptical of unique, weird foods he's never heard of before, especially when I told him it's most commonly used in bird seed. Yea, that really went over BIG.

Millet Stuffed Peppers
makes 4 peppers

* 4 red bell peppers
* 1/2 cup toasted millet
* 2 cups water
* 1 teaspoon olive oil
* 1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables
* 1/4 cup chopped white onion
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 small can fire roasted peppers

Preheat oven to 350°

1. In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, heat for 3 minutes and pour the millet in and cover. As soon as you hear popping, stir continuously until they start to brown.
2. Add the water, lower to a simmer, cover and cook for 25 minutes.
3. Remove to a bowl. Wipe out the pan and add the olive oil.
4. Saute the onions, garlic and vegetables until the onions soften.
5. Add the juice from the tomatoes, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
6. Cut the tops off the peppers, slice the bottom to level and clean out the seeds and membranes.
7. Fill each pepper with millet mixed with vegetables.
8. Place the peppers back into the same saucepan the vegetables were cooked in. Spoon the tomatoes around the peppers, cover tightly and bake for 40 minutes.

Carefully remove the peppers to a platter and puree the tomatoes. Toast the pignoli nuts and garnish with the sauce and nuts.

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January 20, 2013

Non-Starchy Vegetables

This post comes by way of an article I stumbled across while trying to find an App for diabetic foods and exchange list analysis. There was none out there for the computer, just PDF's that I already have on this site. Would be nice to download a recipe and push a button to get the exchanges for that recipe, then put that on a form to track your daily allotted exchanges (sort of what Richard Simmons designed with his DEALAMEAL).

Back to the subject of bad information out on the Internet.
On a food blog (and I will not mention the name), I read that broccoli was a starchy vegetable so therefore should be eaten in limited amounts.
What?????  Excuse me????

Anyone who ever started a low carb diet is very familiar with starchy vs. non-starchy vegetables. Yes, my dears not all vegetables are created equal.
Vegetables come in many shapes and sizes. Right now we will cover nonstarchy vegetables.
They contain only small amounts of carbohydrate and calories, but they pack an important nutritional punch.
One serving (exchange) of a nonstarchy vegetable usually contains 5 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of protein, no fat and only 25 calories. For the vegetables listed below, one exchange equals 1/2 cup cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, or 1 cup raw vegetables.
If you eat 1 1/2 cups or more of cooked vegetables or 3 cups or more of raw vegetables in a meal, count them as one carbohydrate exchange.

As you can see, there are plenty of them out there to enjoy and since you can eat over a cup of these, I would suggest adding many to your diet. Breakfast anyone? Yes, please. I will have an Egg Beaters omelet with mushrooms, leeks & spinach.
Here are some great examples for lunch and dinner and if you are craving a little something sweet after all that good food? How about some amaranth pudding.
  • Amaranth
  • Artichoke
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Asparagus
  • Baby corn
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Beans: green, Italian, wax
  • Bean sprouts
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage: bok choy, Chinese, green
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chayote
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Green onions or scallions
  • Greens: collard, kale, mustard, turnip
  • Jicama
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Mixed vegetables without corn, peas or pasta
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Oriental radish or daikon
  • Pea pods
  • Peppers, all varieties
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Sauerkraut
  • Soybean sprouts
  • Spinach
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Summer squash
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomato: raw, canned, sauce, juice
  • Turnips
  • Vegetable juice cocktail
  • Water chestnuts
  • Zucchini

Yes, I eat diabetic friendly meals all the time but because I have my Diabetes under control, I can splurge once in a while. To get you started, any recipes, that will follow strict ADA recommendations, will be posted under the page and label name "Diabetic Dish Busters".

This week I made Asian Stir-Fried Orange Chicken with Sugar Snap Peas (recipe to come). I try to serve at least one of these vegetables daily and most times there are a few in my soups that I have for lunch almost every day. If I have a small container of leftover vegetables from dinner, I do not throw them away, I add them to my soup. It is one of the best ways to add extra nutrition to your diet and a way to not throw money in the garbage.

I would post this list on your fridge or on a magnetic dry erase board (that's where I put all my Dad's lists so he sees them everyday).

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January 18, 2013

Turkey Enchilada Casserole

I bet there is not one household out there (or person) who has not eaten a enchilada casserole of some sort. Has to be hundreds of variations on this similar theme. Could be a lasagna with tortillas or cornmeal layers with turkey, beans, cheese and a chili sauce.

A good one can be great and, well, the bad ones are so in the garbage.
This is a good one.

I took my inspiration from this dish that was all the rage and is still served at many Super Bowl Party's but mine is baked like a torte. I also think mine is healthier, no sour cream (I used yogurt) or chopped meats but you could substitute any ingredient to one you would prefer.

Instead of tortillas, I made a mixture of corn muffin mix and a frozen bagged southwest vegetable mix.
I separate bowls I mixed refried beans with salsa, turkey meat with chili sauce and chopped green chilies, and a bowl of grated pepper jack cheese. Since I planned on inverting the loafs onto a plate, the first layer will eventually be the top, so I was careful to think the layering sequence.

I started with a very thin layer of the cornmeal mix and then I did a layer of the bean mix. Grated cheese and then more cornmeal. Next I spread the turkey mix and then grated cheese and the last of the cornmeal mix brought me right to the top (or the bottom) of the loaf pans. So I had a total of three layers of goodies. I plan on spooning some of my homemade ancho chili sauce down the center of the loaf, refried beans on the side and a small container of sour cream and hot sauce. I really hoped this would bake up exactly the way I envisioned it.    

The beauty of this dish is that I used a packaged muffin mix but added extra milk (to make it spreadable), and used leftover turkey. These could be made in a full sized loaf pan but if you are bringing it to a party I would use recyclable aluminum ones (easy to carry and dispose of).
I made ours in mini loaf pans so we each got our own serving.

You will need these ingredients:
* 1/4 cup salsa
* 1/2 cup cooked meat
* 1 package corn muffin mix (I like Betty Crocker)
* 1/2 cup frozen southwest corn mixture
* 1/2 cup refried beans
* 4 ounces grated pepper jack cheese
* 1 tablespoon chopped green chilis
* Homemade ancho chili or enchilada sauce
* 2 scallions, finely chopped

Mix scallions and green chilies with prepared cornmeal mixture. Add frozen corn.
1st layer of cornmeal mixture and top with cheese. Layer of refried beans.
2nd layer of cornmeal mixture topped with cheese. Layer of turkey and salsa.
Last layer of cornmeal mixture.
Bake at 350° for 40 minutes. Cool, slice and serve with enchilada sauce and yogurt.

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January 16, 2013

I'm Nuts for this Nut Paté

I am always on the lookout for unique recipes where the majority or the main ingredient is nuts. Doesn't matter to me what kind they are, I love them all.

I am sure you know by now that nuts are a great pick-me-up option for a snack.

Did you also know that eating about 2 ounces of nuts daily in place of carbohydrates may be beneficial to people with type 2 diabetes by lowering bad cholesterol levels and improving blood sugar control?

The best nuts consist of a mixture of unsalted, raw or dry-roasted almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts, cashews, and macadamias and have benefits for both blood glucose control and blood lipids and may be used to increase vegetable oil and protein intake in the diets of type 2 diabetic patients as part of a strategy to improve diabetes control without weight gain.

I eat 2 ounces of dry-roasted peanuts at three o'clock every afternoon. I find that at dinner I am full with less food, I eat slower and my constipation is gone (sorry about that but digestion is important for good health).

I am all for pesto's of any kind because they always include nuts, herbs and good fats.

This is not a pesto because it contains no oil or cheese. It is crumbly but spreadable and made an excellent "mayo" for a sandwich.
I used it as the spread on whole grain ciabatta bread, along with an addition of roasted peppers, cucumbers and pepper jack cheese. A great brown bag lunch that stays fresh from morning until noon.
Protein-rich, cholesterol free, high fiber and low carb, add a handful of grapes for dessert and you have the perfect lunch.
I did not have blanched whole almonds so the pate is brown because of the almond skins. I also added a squeeze (about 1 teaspoon) of agave nectar to offset the bitterness I thought the skins gave the pate.

I was hesitant to taste this but when I did, I was amazingly surprised. It was good, different, but really tasty.
I happily ate my sandwich sans meat but The Nudge asked for thinly sliced turkey breast on his.

I have enough left over to tuck under the skin of a split chicken breast or roll up in a flounder fillet, mix with couscous or add to a sauce for pasta. Oh, yes, I will have no trouble using this up.

Carrot-Almond Paté
makes 4 servings (1/2 sandwich)
* 1/3 cup whole almonds
* 2 large carrots (8oz), peeled and cut into 1/2" rounds
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1/8 teaspoon ground tumeric
* 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 clove garlic
* 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro
* 2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 ciabatta rolls, halved, or 4 slices whole-grain bread
6 roasted red pepper halves, sliced
4 sliced Monterey Jack Cheese
1 cucumber (6-8oz), thinly sliced
Roasted turkey breast, thinly sliced

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Scatter almonds on a baking sheet. Toast for 15 minutes, until fragrant. Cool completely.
2. Meanwhile, steam carrots 10-15 minutes, until very tender. Cool completely.
3. Put almonds, carrots, salt, cumin, coriander, tumeric, cinnamon, garlic and cilantro in a food processor. With motor running add lemon juice and agave. Contimue to prcess until mixture is spreadable, scraping down sides as needed. (Paté will be coarse, not completely smooth)
4. Spread paté on each bread piece. Top with peppers, cheese and cucumbers. Top with another bread piece, cut in half.

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January 14, 2013

Split Pea Soup with Thai Sherry Cream & Squash Seed Oil

Pease porridge hot,
Pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot
Nine days old.
I am going to tell you the story we were told behind that nursery rhyme by a tour guide at Fort Niagara.
Seems that Ft. Niagara was built and occupied by the French to keep watch over it's Canadian territories in the New World. At that time law and the French Army dictated that every man serve seven years in the militia. Even though Fort Niagara was a trading post, food was sparse and they had to grow what they could. Whatever was preserved, salted or dried got them through many a cold winter. The kitchen cooks would make huge pots of pea porridge and they would eat out of it everyday until after about 9 days of constant cooking. By that time the bottom made a thick crust, which was pounded out into chunks and those chunks was given to the soldiers scheduled for maneuvers around the outside of the fort. 

Cool, huh? Well, not really, but I bet the soup was good. Even back then they knew it was full of lifesaving nutrients.

Soup warms your tummy and your soul. If any one food could make me happy it's winter, it has to be soup. I have soup at least 4x in any given week during the months of September thru May, then the rest of the year, maybe 2x a week.
Oh, yes baby, I love soup, but not every soup. Not a fan of cold soups, you won't find me at the front of the line if even the Soup Nazi was serving cold ones.

I am guilty of not making Split Pea Soup more often and until I bring it up, The Nudge also stands right beside me. I forget how good it really can be.
While pea soup is easy to make, it can be quite pasty which is why I imagine kids don't like it (plus the fact that it is lacking in the beauty arena).

This version is my best to date. It was exceptionally flavorful but lacking somethin' somethin'. It needed texture, so I minced up a piece of country ham and held back a handful of dried peas to add towards the end of cooking to remain whole in the pureed soup. That helped slightly, but it still needed a bit of excitement to your tongue.
Since most pureed-style soups use a dollop of something to brighten up not only the appearance but to add that special mouth fee that only a fat can, a crema was in order. Sherry is usually added to pea soup before serving, so I added sherry to the crema and not to stop there, I grabbed my trusty bottle of Thai-style chili sauce and voila!! A final drizzle of butternut squash seed oil (you could use any nut flavored oil) turned this simple soup into a gourmet treat. The Nudge cleaned his bowl. Yup, best ever.

Let's discuss the nutritionals for one minute.
Homemade is always better but a good canned split pea soup is a good alternative as long as you are aware of the high sodium levels they use to preserve and up the flavor. The healthy ingredients in split pea soup yield a nutrient-dense meal, and consuming the soup has a number of health advantages. Besides the usual roundup of Vitamins and Minerals a 1-cup serving of canned split pea soup contains around 4.8 grams of dietary fiber, or approximately 17 percent of your daily recommended fiber intake and also helps you reach your daily recommended intake of potassium, an essential mineral.
Bet you did not even know about Vitamin K but a 1-cup serving of canned split pea soup contains 18 micrograms of vitamin K -- 20 or 15 percent of the recommended daily intake for women or men. (Vitamin K helps to activate enzymes responsible for triggering blood clot formation to protect you from blood loss). Something my Dad needs to know because he's on Plavix.

Split Pea Soup w/Thai-Sherry Crema and Nut Oil Drizzle
makes 2 servings (can be doubled)
* 1 cup dried split peas (green or yellow), divided 3/4 + 1/4
* 1 quart low sodium chicken broth
* 1 Goya Ham flavored concentrate
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 large carrot
* 1 stalk celery
* 1/2 white onion
* 1 leek, white part only
* 1 large clove garlic
* 1 bay leaf
* 6oz piece of country ham, diced into 1/4" cubes

* 2oz low fat cream cheese (can use fat-free)
* 2 tablespoons skim or 1% milk
* 1 tablespoon Thai-Style Chili Sauce
* salt & pepper
* 1 tablespoon dry sherry
* Squirt of agave or honey
* Butternut squash seed oil (or any nut oil of choice)

1. Rough chop the carrot, onion, leek, celery stalk and garlic and process until it is just shy of pureed. No processor? Grate the carrot, onion and celery stalk, mince the garlic and slice the leek into thin rounds. All this will be pureed in the end.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan until you can smell it and spoon all the processed vegetables into the oil.
3. Saute, covered, until the vegetable become browned and the bottom of the pot is crusted. Add 2 cups of the chicken broth, the packet of ham concentrate and 3/4 cup of peas. Lower heat to simmer, cover and set the timer to 45 minutes.
4. Add 1 cup more broth to peas and simmer 15 minutes more. Remove bay leaf.
5. Using an immersion or stand blender, carefully puree mixture until totally smooth.
6. Add ham, the last cup of broth and the remaining 1/4 cup dried peas. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the peas are tender but mot mush (about 30 minutes). Adjust salt & pepper.
7. In a small bowl, whisk together cream cheese, milk, chili sauce, agave, sherry and salt & pepper. Taste to adjust flavors adding more milk if too thick or more salt.
8. Serve with 3 dollops (about 3 teaspoons) of crema and a drizzle of the oil. Can use a good extra virgin olive oil if you don't have a nut oil.

Dietary Exchanges

Fat 1
Meat 3.3
Starch 2.5
Vegetable 0.7
Very Lean Meat 0.2 

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January 12, 2013

Chicken Lasagna Bolognese

I wanted a lasagna. I wanted a lasagna with a meat sauce. I had ground chicken in the freezer.
I never made a bolognese with chicken. I guess this was going to be the first time.

I usually make my lasagnas in aluminum loaf pans using the Barilla no cook pasta sheets. It's the perfect size for two dinners and a lunch. I had exactly 12 dried traditional curly edged lasagna sheets in my pantry earmarked for roll-ups. Oh well, maybe another time. I had another idea for those babies.

The rest of the ingredients were on a shelf, and I always have carrots, garlic and onions in my fridge.

I was getting my lasagna and it was gonna be a masterpiece, a HUGE masterpiece. I now am the proud owner of three lasagna dinners in my freezer. Whoopie for us!!

Chicken Bolognese Sauce
makes enough for a 9x13 lasagna

* 1 pound ground chicken (not all white meat please)
* 1/2 white onion, chopped
* 1 large carrot, chopped
* 4 gloves garlic, chopped
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 1 small can tomato paste
* 1/2 cup white wine
* 1 cup low sodium beef broth (I use College Inn)
* 1 quart water
* 2 bay leaves
* 1 tablespoon Italian Seasonings
* 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* Salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan (about 5 cups). When the oil is hot, add the chicken and break up the pieces with a potato masher or wooden spoon.
2. When the meat and the saucepan browns, remove to a bowl and add the carrot, onion and garlic to the saucepan.
3. Saute until the vegetables take on lots of brown coloring, add the wine to deglaze the pan. Scrape up all the browned bits and add the tomato paste. Cook the paste until the color changes from red to brown.
4. Stir the meat back into the pan, add all the seasonings (except the salt), the broth and only 1 cup of water.
5. Bring to a simmer, turn down the heat and cook, uncovered for about 20 minutes until all the liquid has evaporated, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Add another cup of water and continue to simmer until that water has cooked out. Add the last cup of water and taste for salt.
6. Remove from heat and cool while you prepare the filling and cook the pasta.

Lasagna Bolognese
makes one large lasagna

* 12 lasagna pasta sheets, cooked in boiling salted water and cooled in cold water.
* 1 recipe Bolognese Sauce
* 1/4 cup butter
* 1/4 cup flour
* 2 cups milk
* 1 cup low fat ricotta
* 1 cup grated cheese of choice (I use Romano)
* Freshly grated nutmeg
* Salt and pepper
* 1 cup low fat mozzarella and 1/4 cup grated cheese for topping

1. Spoon enough sauce into the bottom of a baking pan just to cover (1/4 of the sauce).
2. Lay 4 sheets of pasta evenly over the sauce.
3. Spoon 1/2 the cheese mixture over the pasta and spread evenly. Spoon another 1/4 of the sauce evenly over the filling and lay 4 more sheets of pasta down.
4. Repeat with another layer ending with a top of 4 more pasta sheets and the last of the sauce.
5. Top with the grated cheese, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 350°.
6. Uncover, add the mozzarella and bake until the cheese melts and browns.
7. Allow to rest at least 20 minutes before cutting or the filling will ooze all over your dish.

For a sauce made with chicken it was meaty and extremely flavorful. I would make this again, easily.

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January 10, 2013

Ravioli Carbonara

Whenever I get a trip to Whole Foods I always splurge on their fresh ravioli. This time I grabbed a package stuffed with Artichoke & Fontina Cheese. Yum, need I say more?

Soon as I get them home I park them in the freezer because with pasta this good, you have to plan the appropriate sauce.

Yes, I know it sort of defeats the buying of fresh when you eventually freeze it but, in my book, fresh is also fresh frozen.

Did I mention that my Shop-Rite had Prosciutto di Parma on sale for $9.99?
I think the Deli boy rolled his eyes at me when I asked for a whole pound.
Well, I know it's work to slice them thin, place them side by side in one layer on a sheet of butchers paper, but excuse me, it is your job young man. I ain't running for office.
He got back at me when he sliced my Mother Goose liverwurst.

After much deliberation I decided (with approval from the peanut gallery) on a light cream sauce with prosciutto and peas, except I didn't have any peas so I used a shallot and parsley for flavor and color. My peanut gallery is easy as long as there is prosciutto. What is it with men and meat?

I know I have been remiss with posting recipes but I promise to get better. I actually have a small backlog of them but the pics are poor or the recipe wasn't all that great and all the good leftovers where taken to work and eaten.

This was really good but what's not to love. Cream, pork, eggs, garlic and cheese.
We enjoyed these tremendously.
Carbonara has to be one of the great sauces of the world. It's easy, cheap and oh, so good!!

Ravioli Carbonara
makes 3 servings
* 1 package raviolis (usually 12-14)
* 2 teaspoons olive oil
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 6 slices prosciutto, sliced into strips
* 2 eggs, beaten with...
* 1 1/3 cup fat-free half and half
* 1 shallot minced
* 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
* Parsley for garnish

1. Bring a gallon of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of sea salt.
2. In a pan large enough to hold the ravioli, heat the olive oil and saute the garlic and shallots until they soften.
3. Add prosciutto and saute until that starts to brown. Add the cream/egg mixture and heat until it thickens.
4. With a spider, remove the ravioli right to the pan and stir to coat. Add extra pasta cooking water to thin the sauce out. Remember, the pasta will continue to absorb the sauce even with the heat off, so always start with a thinner consistency then you eventually desire.
5. Add the cheese, off the heat and stir to mix. Serve on a large platter and sprinkle with parsley.

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January 8, 2013

Louisiana BBQ Shrimp - Updated

Fifteen years ago, when in Las Vegas, we made it our mission to check out two of my favorite chef's restaurants. Emeril's Fish House and B.Flay's Mesa Grill. The first dish I ordered was the infamous BBQ shrimp (for which Emeril sold aprons imprinted with the recipe). Now Vegas plays host to hundreds of star chefs, but back then you could still count them on your fingers.

My main meal was a crawfish stuffed mignon. Needless to say I came home, bought his cookbook and made both those dishes with great success.

That was the last time. Not sure why I had a hankering to make these shrimp after all that time but they did not disappoint me.

If you have never eaten a Louisiana BBQ shrimp I implore you to make them. Louisiana "barbecued" shrimp never touch an actual barbecue. Created at Pascal's Manale restaurant in New Orleans in 1954, the recipe has become a Southern staple. The approach may vary, but it's certain to include ample amounts of shrimp, butter, and garlic. This version is almost always served with French bread for soaking up the rich sauce but I made a small batch of Basmati rice.

The inspiration for this version comes from tastingtable.com and a chef in Atlanta. While his recipe makes enough sauce to feed an army, I reduced mine to a third, but added an addition of 1 tablespoon more lemon and a tablespoon of cream (to mellow out the Worcerstershire). I only used 1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce and it was still too much (hence the cream) and in the end, hot sauce.

This is a very forgiving recipe so add and subtract as you feel compelled too. I do suggest tasting as you go.

Louisiana BBQ Shrimp
Makes 4 servings
Although there is a whole stick of butter in the sauce, serving rice allowed me to cut way back on the amount of that sauce I would actually eat if using bread.

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January 6, 2013

Baklava Cheesecake

My niece asked me if I had ever had Baklava. While it was always something I bookmarked (I bought rose water in anticipation), I really had no idea what it tasted like but I told her I imagined it was nutty, crunchy, honey sweetly sticky.
She said "Oh, boy!! Sounds yummy".

I did the only thing a good aunt would do, I told her for Christmas she will have her Baklava.
Since not everyone can eat a whole pan of baklava, when I found this recipe over at the Food Network, I had a recipe she & I could live with.

One box of filo cups consists of 15 shells and the recipe was written for two boxes, I halved the ingredients and got to work.
They were certainly exactly what I told her and she just smiled and said "Thanks, Aunt Sue".
Because I am a huge cheesecake baker, there is always a minimum of 4 bricks of low fat cream cheese in my fridge. They have a long shelf life so since I make tend to be a bad girl and bake 1 cheesecake a month, I had no excuse but to use the leftover filling on, you guessed it, a cheesecake.

One recipe on the Internet looked promising except for the filo crust. When something has to bake for an hour, tender parts will brown quickly (let's face it I was afraid I would burn the damn thing).
What I did do is make a crust from the crushed nuts in the recipe, along with honey and butter to bind. It was perfect, no, better than perfect. It was a crust to remember and I would be using that recipe again, and soon.

I sent a nice piece to work for my taste tester/single guy who doesn't cook person to let me know what he thought.
The Nudge said he asked the plant guys to get the forklift and get it into his car.....(he's such a smart-ass). Fred said he had three bites and went to bed (it seems the smart-ass doesn't fall far from the cubicle).

I thought it delicious and pegged it as remarkable re-makable.

If you want to wow someone with a very unique cheesecake, make this version. You will be happy my niece wanted to taste baklava.

Baklava Cheesecake
makes (1) 9" cheesecake

* 4 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
* 5 tablespoons almond flour
* 2 tablespoons hazelnut flour
* 2 tablespoons honey
* 2 tablespoons butter or sub

With a fork, mix everything in a bowl until well blended. With a spoon, spread the mixture evenly on the bottom of a 9" spring form pan.

* 18 ounces low fat cream cheese, room temperature
* 11 ounces Greek yogurt
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 3 eggs, room temperature
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Using a mixer, blender or processor, blend until creamy and smooth.

Nut Mixture:
* 1/4 cup pistachios
* 1/2 cup walnuts
* 1/2 cup almonds
* 1/2 lemon, zested
* 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1 tablespoon butter
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Arrange the pistachios, walnuts, and almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven (350°) until golden and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Let nuts cool slightly and add to a food processor along with the lemon zest, sugar, butter, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla and pulse to combine.

1. Bake the crust for 11 minutes in a 325°. Remove and cool while you prepare the nuts and filling. Lower the oven to 300°.
2. Pour the filling over the crust and sprinkle the nuts on the top of the filling.
3. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour. Remove and allow to cool completely then refrigerate for 8 hours, minimum 5 hours.

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January 3, 2013

Are we eating food trends for all the wrong reasons?

I think that information is a good thing but too much can be bad. Case in point.....over the holiday I ran into the daughter of a friend of a friend. Seems her daughter only eats gluten free foods. When I asked her when she was diagnosed, she informed me "Oh, she doesn't have Celiac's, she just thinks eating gluten free is healthier for you". What??????? It was time for some research.

I found this article over at The Huffington Post blog, written by Susan B. Dopart, M.S., R.D.,C.D.E.

"So, what's the real story? Will going on a gluten-free diet improve your health or help you lose weight? The answer is that it depends. Limiting your intake of gluten means you are cutting out many starchy, refined carbohydrates, and that in itself can help your weight and health. Eating gluten-free, however, is a must for those with celiac disease, who face real risks from ingesting gluten.

What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye products. Most cereals and breads contain gluten. Examples of gluten-free grains include brown or wild rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat and amaranth.
What is not widely known about gluten-free products is that they still contain the same number of carbohydrates as their gluten-containing counterparts. In this regard, there is no health benefit to choosing the gluten-free versions.
For example, a typical slice of gluten-free bread contains 15 grams of total carbohydrate -- the same amount as a regular slice of bread. A snack of gluten-free crackers can contain 30 grams of carbohydrate per serving, the same as regular crackers.

The seriousness of celiac disease....
So why avoid gluten in the first place? For those with celiac disease, their health demands it. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease resulting in a true intolerance to gluten. If someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, it causes the villi, or little hair-like projections that move food through the gut, to atrophy. This atrophy can cause bleeding, malabsorption of nutrients and other health complications.
According to the National Institutes of Health, more than two million (or one in 133) people have celiac disease. However, only about 1 percent of the population has actually been diagnosed. To get an accurate diagnosis, you need a blood test and/or small bowel biopsy to determine if there is atrophy in your gut.

Gluten sensitivity -- difficult to diagnose.....
Research shows that another 39 percent of the population may be susceptible to having celiac or gluten intolerance/sensitivity. Some experts believe gluten sensitivity exists, but no research or tests to date are available for diagnosis. Symptoms of gluten sensitivity are diffuse, and can include headaches, fatigue or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
In addition, there is a small amount of research showing that gluten is associated with some forms of inflammation in the body for those with auto-immune diseases such as diabetes or Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Your body knows best....
Many who go on a gluten-free diet may lose weight and feel better, but it has nothing to do with avoiding gluten. Just cutting out starchy, processed forms of carbohydrate or limiting carbohydrate intake helps with lowering insulin resistance, which leads to weight loss and improved energy.
If you have celiac disease, eating gluten-free is your only option. If you believe you have gluten sensitivity, going on a gluten-free diet is worth exploring. For the rest of us, there's no need to follow the trends of what is currently in vogue with food manufacturers. Eating simple, unprocessed foods according to what your body can tolerate is the best way of eating."

I did some more research, this time on IBS. This is what I found out.....
It seems that IBS is caused by FODMAP's.
FODMAPs stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides And Polyols. They are known to cause GI discomfort in susceptible individuals and more and more research has been proving that a low FODMAP diet has widespread application for managing functional GI disorders such as IBS and IBD.

Unfortunately, FODMAPs are present in many plant based foods which means there are limited options for vegans and vegetarians who want to follow this plan.

Researchers from Australia have come up with a novel approach for IBS treatment, that of having patients follow a low FODMAP diet as a way to reduce IBS symptoms. They have coined the term FODMAPs to describe a collection of short-chain carbohydrates found in many common foods. FODMAPs stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides, and Polyols.

The FODMAP theory holds that consuming foods high in FODMAPs results in increased volume of liquid and gas in the small and large intestine, resulting in distention and symptoms such as abdominal pain and gas and bloating. The theory proposes that following a low FODMAP diet should result in a decrease in digestive symptoms. The theory further holds that there is a cumulative effect of these foods on symptoms. In other words, eating foods with varying FODMAP values at the same time will add up, resulting in symptoms that you might not experience if you ate the food in isolation. This might explain the mixed results of studies that have evaluated the effects of fructose and lactose, two types of carbohydrates, on IBS. Ongoing research is being conducted as to the accuracy of the FODMAP theory and the effectiveness of the diet for IBS.
 If you are interested in following a low FODMAP diet, it is essential to work individually with a licensed nutritionist. There are risks to devising your own diet. It is tempting to pick and choose certain items based on your personal preference which could result in continued symptoms due to a lack of strict compliance to a sanctioned low FODMAP diet. Working with a trained nutritionist will also help to ensure that you receive adequate and balanced nutrition including a healthy intake of dietary fiber.
Other things to consider before starting a low FODMAP diet: research into its effectiveness for IBS is at a very preliminary stage and it is unknown at this point if following such a diet would be safe for your health over the long term. As with any new treatment or dietary approach, it is always best to discuss the issue with your own personal physician.

How does this help a diabetic? Around 25% of diabetics do have Celiac's Disease. Only way to find out is to get tested but it is well known that wheat products are not good for your blood sugar, so it can't hurt to eat some gluten-free foods. Diabetics will experience gas while starting a diabetic friendly diet due to the intake of more beans. Gas does not mean you have IBS. The only way to check that out is by elimination of FODMAP's in your diet.

Yes, all this is way to much to process, and I don't think that you should eliminate any foods unless you have too due to medical reasons or personal choice. As always, I feel certain that portion control is the real way to eat. Totally cutting out foods you love for the sake of a diet, will often lead to binging and in the end, defeat.

That is something we all can chew on.

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January 2, 2013

iPad Mini and Me, Perfect Together

Santa gave me an iPad mini. Means one of two things, I must have been good last year or he really pitied me.
While all little good bloggers have been posting all the top reader recipes and their favorites from last year, I was playing with my new toy.
I should be tarred and feathered.
Or should I?

After the year we had, loosing myself in a techno world of miracles for a few days was exactly what I needed. This has to be the BEST toy of all time, this machine is awesome. The last time I spent 48 hours straight on a computer was the first day I got my Sony Vios system. I have been hooked ever since.

I like that I can hold it in my hand without it being too heavy and it comes to bed with me. It does all the things the new one does only it's smaller. It fits in my pocketbook and doesn't take up much counter space when I am using it to read a recipe (I have absolutely NO counter space).
It's just so damn cute and efficient. The Nudge is now officially jealous. He wants so much to play with it but not into techie things, he's decided to let me work out the bugs and figure out the Ins and Outs and then I can show him.

The first thing I did was to sign up for a free workshop. I want to know everything about this puppy so that I use it well.

I was able to sync my computer and tablet and now I can download all my pics.
My Dad finally got to see the pictures from our European cruise last year (he doesn't have a computer of his own) and finally met our cats.

It was frustrating at first because I don't have a smart phone and had to get used to touching everything. Now I move pretty fast through the basics. I have been getting a ton of iBook cookbooks and I have a new fun meal planner App, which will be wonderful as soon as I figure out how to use it. I am going to love that I no longer will have to carry a pad and pen to the grocer. iPad, get it?

If you want to get your kid a tablet, or just don't want to spend a fortune and need something lightweight, this is the way to go. From a Windows die hard.....I highly recommend this mini (I got the black).

I was not compensated for this post, the opinions are strictly all my own and me, myself and I are perfectly happy disappearing into oblivion. For just a few more day? Forgive me, please?

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