Wish Upon A Dish: November 2013

November 28, 2013

Kasha, Ham & Cabbage Egg Rolls with a Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce {+ the Lowdown on Buckwheat Kasha}

I know these will be tough to sell, but if you are looking for a great way to serve healthy dishes to youngins' and skeptical adults, you have to make these.

First of all you can't taste the kasha and the cabbage is sweet, the ham, salty. The egg rolls are crunchy good and the dipping sauce makes it fun.

I love red cabbage but I seem to be the only one. Did not stop me from braising a ton the other day. I could graze for days on cooked red cabbage but I wanted to use them in something different.

Currently submerged knee deep in cooking with grains & seeds made me determined to show people that not only should they embrace the healthy diabetic friendly qualities of these foods, they should also know how delicious they are and we should think about replacing almost all the carbs that we would normally eat too many of.

I took the classic Russian Jewish dish of sautéed onions tossed with pasta and buckwheat groats, added ham and red cabbage, all wrapped up in egg roll wrappers to dip in a sweet and sour sauce. Use wonton wrappers and you have a novel appetizer (maybe even for Christmas this year) but use egg roll wrappers and you have dinner. Kids of all ages love to dip and chose the dip you think your family would like. I almost went with a honey mustard dip and thought about a ranch-style one but in the end, a sweet and sour was the man of the hour. The Nudge agreed with my choice.

I made 2 dozen rolls in the morning, froze them on a sheet pan, placed them in a large zip bag and pulled out 8 for dinner/lunch.

I heated 3" of vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed cast iron pan and fried them until they were browned an both sides, only about 3 minutes a side. Drain on a paper towel and place on a rack in a warm oven until ready to serve.

Let's get cooking......

Kasha Varnishkes Egg Rolls
uses 1 package of egg roll wrappers
* 1/2 cup Kasha
* 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
* 1 cups braised red cabbage
* 1 (1/4") slice ham steak
* 1 egg
* 1/2 cup small round pasta (acini di pepe or Israeli couscous)
* 3 cups chicken stock
* 8 ounces Swiss cheese, grated
* salt & pepper
* 3 garlic cloves

1. Beat egg and add kaska, stirring to coat. In a skillet, barely coated in vegetable oil, saute the kasha until it is dry and browned, breaking up clumps. Add the pasta and the stock, cover and simmer until the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes. Remove to a large bowl to cool.
2. Place the ham steak in the bowl of a processor and pulse until minced. Add to the cabbage and spoon this mixture into the large bowl containing the kasha.
3. In the same skillet you cooked the kasha in, add a tablespoon of oil and saute the onion and garlic. Add this mixture to the large bowl.

4. The bowl should now hold the kasha/pasta, the ham/cabbage and the onion/garlic mixtures.
5. Grate the Swiss cheese into the cooled mixture and set aside.
6. On a work surface, place the egg roll wrappers along with a bowl of water and a pastry brush.
5. Place a large ice scream scoop of the mixture on the bottom half of the wrapper. Brush the edges with water and roll as you would a burrito. Place, seam side down on a sheet pan and continue until all the wrappers are filled. Throw out any leftover stuffing.

Now for the nutritionals on kasha:

Kasha (or porridge) is one of the most common meals of East European and Russian cuisines.

So, what is kasha?
Opposite to misconception that kasha is made only from buckwheat (buckwheat kasha) - kasha historically is a meal prepared using any grain (buckwheat, oats, wheat, millet, barley, rice, etc) as a main ingredient. Kasha, if prepared using whole grains, can be a great addition to a long range of delicious whole grain foods and excellent way to enjoy the health benefits of whole grains.

Kasha as a Russian food has a very long history.. In Russia for hundreds of years it was considered the most common, second in importance to only bread, meal. Even now kasha is one of the basic elements of Russian food. It can be sweet or savory,  served at breakfast, as a side dish or even as a meal in itself. Kasha can be plain or cooked with other ingredients. It is difficult to imagine any simpler and easier cooked meal that in the same time has so many varieties and flavors.

Usually, kasha is very easy to cook. Dozens of easy kasha recipes exist, including quick recipes for kids, vegetarian, vegan recipes, whole grain foods and recipes, and even raw food diet recipes. All in all, kasha is great for children and adults - maany grains used to cook kasha contain dietary fiber, the wide range of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. It can be a part of any healthy diet. Kasha prepared from whole grains is especially nutritionally. Some recipes may be included in the list of heart-healthy and weigh loss choices.

Some research suggests that several grains may lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, lower high cholesterol, and contribute to improvement of some allergies and skin conditions. Some kasha recipes can be an an excellent addition to a non-gluten diet. Kasha is probably the easiest meal where you can experiment by creating your own recipes. Cooking kasha is never boring - you can try hundreds of new flavors and varieties of kasha by changing cooking techniques and by adding different ingredients. Just follow these simple kasha coking tips we have on this website. You can prepare low-fat and low-calorie meals, as well as delicious vegetarian and vegan meals. With hundreds ingredients to choose from,your family, including your kids, will never get bored even eating kasha every day.

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November 26, 2013

Turkey Pot Pie Pinwheels

The Nudge loves pot pies. What I really should say is he loves bread and crusts and what is a pot pie after all?
A turkey dinner wrapped in pastry. Right up his alley.

To me they are boring and unoriginal. No, I'm not saying they aren't good, just boring.  Yes, you can change up the rolled crust to puff pastry, drop biscuits or even lattice but they are still all "pies in a pot".
I decided to shake things up a bunch.
I thought I was the first with this original idea for a unique "leftover" dish, but as usual, someone thought about it before me, well sort of......

I wanted to make a bread dough using my leftover turkey stuffing, then make pinwheels filled with the pot pie filling, you know, carrots, peas, onions, etc......bake and serve them sitting in a pool of homemade gravy....oh, yum-yum-yummy!

A savory spiral of bread made using leftover stuffing. How can that not be anything but moist and flavorful. A bump-up of spices with the addition of grated Parmesan and this dish is sensational, over the top and money!!!

The good news is, the bakers at King Arthur worked out the kinks in the dough recipe so I did not have too. That in itself is a good enough a reason to share in the credit. That's right, they just made the bread, but I made the dish.

The Nudge is coming home from a road trip to below freezing temperatures and a hot homemade meal on the table. It just doesn't get any better than that.

Let's get cooking......

Turkey Pot Pie Pinwheel Rolls
Inspired from the King Arthur website

Yield: one dozen pinwheels
* 14 1/2 ounces AP flour
* 1 ounce soft butter
* 1- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
* 1/2 ounce sugar
* 2 1/2 ounces lukewarm milk
* 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
* 4 1/2 ounces prepared stuffing, room temperature
* 7 ounces instant potato flakes

* 2 cups minced turkey meat (white, dark or both)
* 2 cups roasted vegetables (carrots, mushrooms, onions, garlic and petite peas)
* Sweet Potato or mashed potatoes (optional)

* Gravy

1. Place all of the ingredients in a bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer; or a bread machine bucket); and mix and knead to make a smooth, elastic, and somewhat sticky dough. The dough will feel tacky, but should hold its shape nicely; you should be able to handle it easily with greased hands.

2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or 8-cup measure (for easiest tracking of the dough as it rises). Allow it to rise until it's quite puffy, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

3. Gently deflate the dough. Roll to a rectangle about 12x16-inch.

4. Spread the filling evenly over the dough leaving a 1" clean border. Roll as tightly as evenly as you can, sealing the edge by pinching the dough together.
Roll over with the seam side down and slice the roll into 12 even pieces.

5. Place each roll evenly spaced apart in a 9x13" baking pan and cover with a towel. Allow them to rise until noticeably puffy, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

6. Bake the rolls for 35 to 45 minutes, until it's golden brown on top, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers at least 190°F. 7. Remove the pan from the oven, and place it on a rack to cool.

To serve: Spoon a ladle of gravy into the bottom of a pasta bowl and place one roll on the gravy.

Cook's Notes: You could make bread bowls with this dough and fill it as you would a pot pie or, you could make a loaf, slice it for open-faced turkey and gravy sandwiches.
Either way, this is gonna get people talking.

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November 25, 2013

Old El Paso Chicken Enchiladas {Giveaway Winner Announced}

Congratulations to karin56381!!  Winner of the Old El Paso Frozen Gift Pack. 

Thank you to all who entered and I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving or Hannukah.

A month ago General Mills through MyBogSpark offered a gift pack that included a coupon for the new line of Old El Paso dinners, a gift card to purchase a few sides and a beautiful chip n dip platter.
I had to admit I was curious. I have seen the new commercials and those enchiladas look spectacular for a frozen entree.
I am always open to trying new products and I consider their brand to be of excellent quality, so I signed up and because General Mills was extremely generous, they are offering the same opportunity to either a family member or one of my blog readers (procedure below).

I have been unable to cook lately and although The Nudge is learning as fast as he can and is filling in when I physically can not, cooking from scratch has not been possible the last 5 weeks.

Back then I did not know how welcome that box in my freezer would turn out to be. The Nudge adores Chicken Enchiladas and since I always have a can of Old El Paso Refried Beans in my pantry along with a can of fiesta corn, dinner last Sunday was a breeze.

While I did add additional cheese, the package contained six full-size enchiladas and they emerged from the oven, bubbling with lots of flavor.

The Nudge gave it a thumbs up, and it was good enough for me to express an interest in trying their whole line of dinners, which includes fajitas, quesadillas and burritos in both chicken and beef.

Have you seen the new line of frozen dinners? Would you like to try one?

To enter the giveaway.......

Tell me which dinner you would choose in a comment at the end of this post and information where you can be reached.
Winner to be picked November 24, 2013 at 11:59 est and announced on the 25th.
Good luck to all.

Frozen VISA Kit includes:
* VIP coupon for a frozen dinner pack valued up to $7.99
* $10.00 VISA gift card
* Mexican Tile Chip & Dip

“Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.” All opinions are my own. 

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November 21, 2013

Black Bean Soup {Adding Merriment to Mixes - Recipe Redux Challenge November 2013

A few years ago I started a company to sell packaged seasonings in an envelope called On The Go Gourmet, each one for a complete gourmet meal and all that was needed was the meat and/or the liquid. Like most start-ups, the going was slow but the ones I did sell where followed by good reviews and potential.

Unfortunately that was not enough to make a go out of it, and after a year I moved on. I guess people just did not understand the concept and were afraid of spending the money.
I knew I had a good idea and from the many starter products that continue to grow on the shelves in my market, I might have given up too soon.

When The Recipe Redux unveiled their November challenge, I was happy to see that all those dried vegetables, spices, herbs and sauces would get a second chance to shine.
Oh, I use them when I cook for us, but for a blog, telling someone they have to buy dried sherry, freeze dried peppers or honey powder for one recipe just won't cut it. I sealed most of the jars and put them down the basement.

While there are a few bagged bean soups in the stores, mine has no preservatives, low sodium and can be made for pennies a jar. The last year or so you can find unique flavorings in small bags, making them easier to order exactly when you need. I had to buy a quart at a time.

I chose this soup for the ease of purchasing the ingredients.
All that's needed is a romance card with the directions. I don't know anyone who does not like black bean soup.

Black Bean Soup In a Jar
serves 4-6

* 2 tablespoons onion flakes
* 1 teaspoon celery leaf
* 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1 teaspoon dried mustard
* 1 1/4 cup dried black beans
* 1 packet Knorr Classic Brown gravy
* 1 teaspoon cilantro
* 1 teaspoon cumin
* 1 tablespoon Emerils Essence
* 1 tablespoon tomato powder
* 1 tablespoon freeze-dried soup greens
* 2 tablespoons dried green peppers
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle powder

* 1 1/2 tablespoon sherry (optional at the end)
* Dollops of sour cream

1. Put all in ingredients and 4 cups water in a large stock pot and simmer for 3-4 hours (slow cooker: 8 hours on LOW - 4 hours on HI).
2. Adjust the seasonings and serve with corn bread or tortilla chips.

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November 18, 2013

Apple Crostata with a Cream Cheese Almond Flour Crust {+ the Lowdown on Nut Flours}

We interrupt this normally savory food post to showcase my first apple pie, EVER!

Yup, you got it right.
FIRST baked apple dessert.

There are other reasons than a traditional crust can be a no-no for a diabetic.
Forget that it's foolproof, according to the masses.
Forget that it takes only 10 minutes to make.
Forget that homemade is 150% better than cardboard crusts.
Forget that my mother made THE BEST Apple Pie I ever ate.
Forget that my sister refuses to give me her recipe (she's such a jerk that way).

There can be only one reason.
I am scared to death of a crust. Yup, a ball of dough. Flour, butter, water, salt and sugar.
Simple, right? Depends.
I made it harder by choosing to make a cream cheese & almond flour dough.
What was I possibly thinking?

My mom made these Swedish cookies that were more a pastry than a cookie and that is the crust I want for my first apple pie.
Today is a good day to make a cream cheese crust. It's right at 40 degrees and that is the perfect temp for keeping this crust firm while I shape it. We can not have a weepy crust, can we?

My goal was to use the least amount of AP flour as possible without compromising the structural integrity of the crust, but that meant it would be extremely tender. Tender crusts will crack, so use a bench scraper to fold over the edges of the crostata, pressing gently with your fingers to close up any large rips and then let the egg wash be the glue. 

Remember, it's a rustic pie and flaws make it more attractive, plus I will be drizzling a glaze over the top as well as sprinkling toasted almonds on top soon as it cools. That should help hide most of the flaws.

I bought a glass cutting board on sale (20x24") and it really helped keep the dough cold, plus it didn't hurt that I was also working outside on my patio table.

Let's get cooking.......

Apple and Blueberry Crostata
make one 10-inch crostata
* 3/4 cup AP flour
* 1/4 cup almond flour
* 1 tablespoon vodka
* 1 tablespoon cold water
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 1 tablespoon Truvia
* 4 tablespoons frozen unsalted butter, grated
* 2 tablespoons cream cheese or mascarpone
* Pinch of salt

1. Process flours, sugars and cream cheese. Add butter and pulse until the dough just starts to combine.
2. Add vodka and half the water and pulse the dough till it makes a ball and cleans the sides of the bowl, adding more water if needed.
3. Remove from the processor, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

* 3 apples, peeled and sliced
* 1 cup blueberries
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 1 tablespoon apple or ginger brandy
* 1 tablespoon chia seeds
* 1 teaspoon lemon zest

* 1 egg + water, beaten
* 1 tablespoon finishing sugar
* sheet pan covered with parchment paper

1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2. Place all the filling ingredients in a large bowl to macerate.
3. Roll out the dough to a 14-15-inch circle.
4. Spoon the filling in the middle and fold over the edges, pressing the creases to stick together.
5. Carefully lift or slide the crostata onto the parchment paper, brush the beaten egg all over the crust and sprinkle the natural sugar evenly over. the whole top.
6. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.
7. Remove and cool.

Serve with ice cream, or make a powdered sugar glaze and top with toasted almonds or whipped cream.

About nut flours:
These flours are available for purchase at nuts.com. Even if you don't want to order nut flours, they have the best prices on everything they sell. Opinion is my own and you will understand if you visit their site.

Almond flour (sometimes referred to as almond meal) - made from raw skinless blanched almonds that have been finely ground. Almond flour can be used as a gluten-free substitute in baking products such as cookies, cakes and pastries, and in other recipes that call for wheat flour. Almond flour should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer for a longer shelf-life. Almond flour is nutrient rich and well-suited for carbohydrate-restricted diets.

Cashew flour - made from finely ground and raw cashews, and is perfect for gluten-free, low glycemic recipes. Cashew flour will bring a lovely, light flavor and aroma to your favorite dishes.
Cashew flour can be combined with other gluten-free flours like almond flour or coconut flour, or used on its own as a flour substitute. Cashew flour will have more fat, protein, and moisture than traditional all-purpose flour, and a light, nutty flavor. Cashew flour can be used in quick baking recipes like pancakes, some cookies, cakes and cupcakes. It can also lend an exotic and delicate flavor to savory dishes like currys, and will pair perfectly with coconut and lime flavors. Cashew flour can be used as a thickener for sauces, and can be un-baked into raw cookies, pies, or other desserts.

Chestnut flour - full of sweet, nutty flavor. The perfect ingredient for adding more flavor to all your baked goods. Substitute up to one-third of the recommended flour in your favorite recipes with chestnut flour. And unlike other nut flours, chestnut flour is remarkably low in fat and has a low glycemic index.

Coconut flour - consist of 14% coconut oil and 58% dietary fiber. The remaining 28% consists of water, protein, and carbohydrate. Ideal for baking, it has fewer digestible (net) carbs than other flours and it even has fewer digestible carbs than some vegetables. It is gluten-free and hypoallergenic with as much protein as wheat flour but 2x the fiber. Ideal for those who follow a low-carb eating plan, coconut flour works well as part of a weight loss program because it promotes a feeling of fullness.

Hazelnut flour - ideal natural addition to any baking adding a sweet and subtle nut flavour to enhance your cooking. Produced from cold-pressed hazelnuts following the removal of the oil. It is the ideal flour substitute to all baked goods from breads and muffins to cakes and cookies.  Hazelnut flour is usually ground including their skin, giving a rich dark colour and adding the extra benefit of the nutrition found in the skin.
Hazelnuts are proven to be high in protein, low in carbohydrates and a great source of dietary fiber.

Peanut flour - made from crushed, fully or partly defatted peanuts. Depending on the quantity of fat removed, is highly protein-dense, providing up to 31.32g per cup (60g). Culinary professionals use peanut flour as a thickener for soups, a flavor and aromatic enhancer in breads, pastries and main dishes.  Listed as being very nutritional and very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol, it is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Thiamin, Folate, Potassium and Zinc, and a very good source of Protein, Niacin, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Copper and Manganese.

Pecan flour - baking flour made from pecan nuts. It serves as a popular alternative to traditional wheat flour, as well as other varieties of grain-based flours.
Pecan flour can be substituted for wheat flour and serves as a tasty ingredient in bread and cake recipes. This flour can be used to bread fish or chicken in place of traditional bread crumbs for those looking for a slightly sweeter flavor. One of the primary advantages of pecan flour is that it is free of the glutens found in wheat flour and it offers many of the same nutritional benefits as other grain flours. It also provides added nutrients like selenium, Vitamin E, and healthy fats that are typically associated with nuts. It's known for its coarse texture and dark color, as well as its slightly sweet and nutty taste.

Pistachio flour - baking enthusiasts love the versatility and flavor of gluten-free pistachio flour/meal. Often cold-pressed, pistachio kernels create a fabulous flour. Gourmet chefs prize it for its rich flavor and nutritional value in baked goods, plus it makes a wonderful breading for chicken, fish, or tofu. Or sprinkle it on your breakfast cereal for an extra protein and flavor punch.
Pistachios are nutrient-dense, providing a good balance of nutritional value per calorie. Like all nuts, pistachios are relatively high in monounsaturated fats, which has been shown to lower blood cholesterol, possibly reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. What's more, pistachios are low in saturated fat.
Pistachios have no cholesterol making them an excellent heart-healthy snack! An excellent source of dietary fiber, one ounce contains 3.1 grams of fiber, potassium, protein, 5g carbs and significant amount of vitamins and minerals.

Soy flour - made from dehulled, roasted soybeans that have been ground into a fine powder. Rich in high-quality protein, soy flour adds a pleasant texture and subtle, nutty flavor to a variety of products. Soy flour is available in full-fat, low-fat, and de-fatted varieties. Full-fat contains less oil; de-fatted contains none. All three are good protein sources, but de-fatted has the highest protein content. Use soy flour to thicken gravies and cream sauces, make homemade soymilk or coat fried foods. Soy flour also works well as a baking ingredient. Frying with soy flour reduces the amount of fat absorbed by the fried food. Soy flour also adds significant protein to home-baked goods and keeps them fresh longer. Other benefits of baking with soy flour include the golden color, fine texture, tenderness and moistness given to baked goods. Since soy flour is gluten-free, it can only partially replace the wheat flour in a bread recipe. Using about 15 percent soy flour creates a moist, dense bread with a nutty flavor. Place two tablespoons soy flour in a measuring cup before measuring the wheat flour called for in a bread recipe. In baked goods that are not yeast-raised (quick breads, muffins, scones, etc.) up to 30 percent of the wheat flour can be replaced with soy flour. Recipes specifically developed for soy flour often call for it in higher amounts.

Walnut flour - ideal natural addition to your baking, adding flavour and texture by replacing some of the flour quantity in your favorite recipe. Replace 1/4 of the flour quantity in your favorite cake and biscuit recipe for an enhanced nut flavor. A delicious addition to your favorite crumble topping over fruit.
Walnut Flour is highly recommended in baking Bread for a full nut flavor and texture.
This natural ingredient is produced from cold-pressed walnuts following the removal of the oil.
As walnuts have a high oil content, this flour has a slightly moist consistency.
Storage in the fridge or freezer is recommended.
Walnut flour is a valuable addition to the Gluten-Free diet and is packed with nutrition.

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November 16, 2013

Thanksgiving Greetings and Pumpkin Pie {adapted from The Night Before Christmas}

In my town we have a bi-monthly publication (free) that sells advertising for all the business destinations in our county, and for that, readers submit jokes, pictures and editorials. The Nudge reads it from cover to cover and will, at times, read them to me.

When I heard this, I just had to share.

Thanksgiving Greetings and Pumpkin Pie
'Twas the Night of Thanksgiving,
But I just couldn't sleep,
I tried counting backwards
I tried counting sheep.

The leftovers beckoned -
The dark meat and white,
But I brought the Temptation
With all of my might.

Tossing and turning with anticipation,
The thought of a snack became infatuation.
So, I raced to the kitchen, flung open the door,
And gazed at the fridge, full of goodies galore.
Gobbled up turkey and buttered potatoes,
Pickles and carrots, beans and tomatoes

I felt myself swelling so plump and so round,
'Til all of a sudden, I rose off the ground.

I crashed through the ceiling, floating into the sky,
With a mouthful of pudding and a handful of pie.
But, I managed to yell as I soared past the trees....
Happy eating to all - Pass the cranberries, please.

May your stuffing be tasty.
May your turkey be plump.
May your potatoes 'n gravy have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious.
May your pies take the prize.
May your Thanksgiving Dinner stay off of your thighs!!

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November 12, 2013

Beef Barley Mushroom Risotto {+ the Lowdown on Barley}

I usually make a Beef Barley Soup once a year and while I love it, I think The Nudge wishes it had more POP. I got 'that look' when I mentioned barley risotto so I am upping my game and he's going to enjoy this dish, I promise, or else!

First thing I have to do is to soak the barley. An hour will work, overnight is always better but it is not necessary, just extend the cooking time by about 10-15 minutes.
Now, we cook this dish exactly like you would a risotto but with barley, not rice.

The night before I slow cooked two small chuck steaks in beef broth for 4 hours on high, until it shredded easily (I use a timer to start and end by breakfast) and soaked the barley as you would dried beans. I always have cooked mushrooms in the freezer, measured in 1/2 cup bags. All I had to do was throw the onion, carrot and garlic in the processor and grate some cheese. This dish should take no longer than 40 minutes.

I will guarantee that you will make barley risotto all the time.
I have to say that after one bite The Nudge proclaimed his dinner as "wow! this is good!" and inhaled his portion. I knew it was good but this version was really, really good. That one spoonful of mascarpone made all the difference.

Let's get cooking.....

Beef-Barley Mushroom Risotto
makes 4-6 servings
* 1/2 cup pearl barley, soaked overnight
* 1/4 red onion, minced
* 2 large cloves garlic, minced
* 1 large carrot, diced
* 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
* 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
* 1 quart good beef stock
* 1 tablespoon Marsala wine
* 1 tablespoon both unsalted butter and olive oil
* 2 cups cubed chuck
* 1/2 cup peas (optional)
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1 ounce mascarpone cheese
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat butter and olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Saute the onions, garlic, carrot until they soften. Throw in the barley and saute until it starts to color, medium heat works here.
Add the mushrooms, the minced chuck meat, 2 ladles of beef broth, the rosemary and thyme. Lower the heat to simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the Marsala, simmer and then stir every 3-4 minutes, adding more broth as the liquid is absorbed by the barley. When the barley is soft (taste or squeeze) add one more ladle of broth, a spoonful of mascarpone cheese and the butter, stirring vigorously, making sure the barley gets airborne. You want to whip as much air in the mixture as possible, that's what they call mantecare. Add a handful of cheese, mix gently and spoon the mixture into bowls. Pass additional cheese at the table.
Dinner rolls would be great here, to clean the plate. That's called OH MY GOODNESS!!

Now for the nutritional information:
Barley is considered a low GI food.

Type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes affect over 80 million Americans.  Health and nutrition professionals remind us, however, that this disease can be controlled and even prevented.  It’s a matter of making some simple but important lifestyle choices including losing weight, increasing physical activity and including plenty of whole grain, high fiber foods such as barley in the daily diet.

Barley is an excellent food choice for those concerned about type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes because the grain contains essential vitamins and minerals and is an excellent source of dietary fiber, particularly beta-glucan soluble fiber.  Research shows that barley beta-glucan soluble fiber promotes healthy blood sugar by slowing glucose absorption.  For example, findings from a clinical trial published in the December 2006 edition of Nutrition Research showed that mildly insulin-resistant men who ate muffins containing barley beta-glucan soluble fiber experienced significant reductions in glucose and insulin responses, compared to responses after eating muffins made with corn starch.

In a clinical study reported in the August 2006 edition of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, data showed that subjects who ate cookies and crackers made with barley flour enriched with beta-glucan soluble fiber also experienced significant reductions in glucose and insulin responses compared to responses after eating the same products made with whole wheat flour.  A long-term study published in the August 2007 edition of the Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice journal reported a 30-percent decrease in HbA1c (average blood glucose level) in type 2 diabetics who consumed a healthy diet including pearl barley that supplied 18 grams of soluble fiber a day. Regardless of the form of the grain, there is always a ready source of beta-glucan soluble fiber in barley.

Unlike many grains which contain fiber only in the outer bran layer, barley contains fiber throughout the entire kernel.  So whether it’s whole grain or processed barley products, dietary fiber, including beta-glucan soluble fiber, is available in amounts that have a positive impact on improving blood glucose levels.

It’s easy to include barley in a healthful and delicious diet.  Choose barley flakes for a hardy cooked breakfast cereal.  Add pearl or whole grain barley kernels to your favorite soups, stews, casseroles and salads.  Or use cooked pearl or whole grain barley kernels as a fiber-rich addition to your favorite stir-fry or Chinese take-out entrees.

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November 11, 2013

Veterans Day {Let's Celebrate All Who Serve}

Veterans Day is an official United States holiday which honors people who have served in armed service also known as veterans. It is a federal holiday that is observed on November 11. It coincides with other holidays such as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, which are celebrated in other parts of the world and also mark the anniversary of the end of World War I. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect.)

Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving.


U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day for November 11, 1919. In proclaiming the holiday, he said.....

"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."

The United States Congress passed a concurrent resolution seven years later on June 4, 1926, requesting that President Calvin Coolidge issue another proclamation to observe November 11 with appropriate ceremonies. A Congressional Act approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday: "a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day'."

In 1945, World War II veteran Raymond Weeks from Birmingham, Alabama, had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who died in World War I. Weeks led a delegation to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, who supported the idea of National Veterans Day. Weeks led the first national celebration in 1947 in Alabama and annually until his death in 1985. President Reagan honored Weeks at the White House with the Presidential Citizenship Medal in 1982 as the driving force for the national holiday. Elizabeth Dole, who prepared the briefing for President Reagan, determined Weeks as the "Father of Veterans Day."

Although originally scheduled for celebration on November 11 of every year, starting in 1971 in accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday of October. In 1978, it was moved back to its original celebration on November 11. While the legal holiday remains on November 11, if that date happens to be on a Saturday or Sunday, then organizations that formally observe the holiday will normally be closed on the adjacent Friday or Monday, respectively.

These are a few of the pictures we took in Washington DC.

Arlington Cemetery

Museum of American History

Vietnam Memorial

It was pouring that day, so this was the best I could capture.
While a beautiful monument, I would like to go back and see it lit up at night.


The newly dedicated 

World War II Memorial

There were dozens of buses with Veterans from all over the South there at the time we were and one of the pictures I missed was of about a dozen Veterans of Pearl Harbor standing in front of the dedication just for them. I know it brought a tear to my eye. The whole trip was very special.

The Korean War

This was the war my father enlisted for.
A very eerie and lifelike depiction of what it was like fighting "gorilla warfare".

If you see a Vet, go up and shake his/her hand and thank them. They will never not return your handshake or your smile.

To all my Veteran readers, 

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November 7, 2013

Homemade Sausage, Egg & Cheese Croissant Sandwiches

We all know that eating a good breakfast is the key to health, diet and more money in your pocket.
I would love nothing more than stopping at Java Joe's for one of these (they are the best in NJ, no really, they won the vote) but while on an occasional Saturday it's OK to splurge, there is no way I can justify one everyday. Yes, I confess. I could easily eat one of those everyday and never tire of them.
Hey, I was raised on Taylor Ham.

Since I can not afford the unhealthy nutrition or the daily expense, I bought a box of these and made them my go to breakfast. Yes, once in a while I would sneak in a yogurt but those sandwiches were guaranteed to be eaten. It was a win-win in a way, until they became popular and raised the price.

It was time I made my own and made them healthier and much cheaper.
Me making croissant dough is not gonna happen in this century so I bought a package of reduced fat crescent rolls. I tried a sausage roll, you know the kind you cook to make stuffing, but it was way too fatty and buying these patties wasn't gonna cut the cost none. I got me a coupon for these and bought some American-style soy cheese and a carton of large eggs (yes, I could have used these but I wanted the yolk in there).

After a few tries and tastes (the best part) I perfected my breakfast sandwich and now I make 8 at a time, freeze them in individual bags, nuke them (wrapped in a paper towel) while I make a cuppa Joe (60 seconds is perfect) and sit down to a pretty neat breakfast (if I say so myself). The Nudge will even grab one to go. If you buy your products at a warehouse club, you can make a month's worth at half the price. WooHoo!!

You can buy egg rings to shape the cooked egg and a burger maker for the sausage.

While not a real croissant, the tube crescents work the best for what I wanted, this time. You could make yours with tube or frozen premade biscuits, but I don't like the dry texture of a biscuit. It makes so much sense to buy the reduced fat in your bread product and the taste is the same.

Each time I make a new batch they get better as I learn what not to do again. Next time it's veggie patties and English Muffins.

I might not think I will tire of them, but there is no reason to shake things up a bit to keep it interesting.
They might not be the healthiest breakfast but it is one I know I will eat and that's a win-win anytime.

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