Wish Upon A Dish: 2017

September 21, 2017

Turkey Kielbasa, Broccoli/Carrots & Perogies 💜 Recipe ReDux September Challenge - Sheet Pan Dinners

Sheet pan dinners are popular because it's an easy no-brainer way to prepare a weeknight dinner with minimum prep and clean up.

I also get that the ingredients can be prepared in advance, covered with foil or cling wrap and as soon as the oven is up to heat, in 30 or more minutes, dinner is served.

I had a hard time picking the foods for this challenge and not sure which ones I would lean towards so I decided that I would make a monthly menu plan starting the day after last months challenge to keep track of which ones worked (flavor and ease of prep) and which did not.

Up till yesterday I did successfully cook 20 of the 29 planned recipes. The other 9 were meals prepared by others, family gathering or restaurant.
While hubby will pretty much eat anything I put in front of him, the ones that did not totally satisfy his taste buds ended up with more snacking or desserts afterward.

For the last year we have successfully lost a total of 90 pounds but last month we both gained a few of them back.
The only thing I could think of that was different was the elimination of grains.
I could serve the Nudge a hunk of meat for dinner and he would be happy....for a few days.

When I make my monthly meal plan, he gets to choose one dish he really wants per week. I have noticed that last month he asked for a hamburger or pizza or pasta.

I had to make a decision, add the grains to give up the empty calories or forbid my husband to eat the foods he loves.
Sort of defeats the sheet pan meal concept if you have foods that need to be cooked not on a sheet pan.

So, to keep with the challenge but to make it a meal that would be part of our monthly plan, I had to find a way to include carbs.

This was what I did.....

One of the top 10 most asked for is kielbasa & perogies with broccoli or carrots. How to cook the perogies on a sheet pan? I bought aluminum take-out containers with lids at the dollar store.

Defrost the perogies in the fridge if frozen or buy fresh ones and added 1/4 cup water to the aluminum pan. In the 20 minutes it took to bake the meat & vegetables it also steamed the perogies to perfection, with no liquid remaining.

Ta Dah!

It was cooked perfectly down to the dough of the perogies.
I would serve this with a good brown mustard and a dollop of lite sour cream. I would also offer individual containers of apple sauce.

Directions for a sheet pan dinner for one to two.
Slice 4oz of turkey kielbasa 3/4 the way through keeping the sausage intact. I actually can buy a 4oz kielbasa at Dollar Tree.
Toss 1 cup both broccoli and carrots with olive oil and seasonings of choice (I use Adobo with pepper) or salt & pepper.
Spray the sheet pan the take out pan & the perogies with a release agent, add the water & seal the take out pan and bake the sheet pan (uncovered) at 425­­° for 20 minutes.

For those that have no reason to resize the ingredients, I would use a large round or rectangular take out container for the perogies and add 1/2 cup of water. A large bag of prepared mixed vegetable that your family would eat and follow the directions as above baking the sheet pan in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 425°.


September 10, 2017

Sweet Ricotta & Pineapple Cornbread ♥ Celebrate with SPLENDA® Sweeteners #Sponsored

"I received free samples of SPLENDA® Naturals Sugar & Stevia Blend mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by SPLENDA® Sweeteners and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time."

Over the river and through the woods......
Holidays are celebrated across the Delaware in Pennsylvania. My SIL has the only dining room large enough to fit us all without the typical "kitty table".

Large gatherings include massive amounts of food and luckily in our posse, the woman folk are wonderful cooks (and they like it too).
It was long decided that my SIL by marriage does the appetizers, the host does the main meat and I make the vegetables.

A few years back a baked pineapple casserole joined the cast of characters. It contained pineapple, eggs, Ritz crackers and Cheddar cheese. Sounded strange but it all worked. It was the perfect side for that Baked Ham.
Not sure why that was the one & only appearance but I am sure that the 2 cups of sugar had something to do with it.
Out of favor but not out of mind.

This contest was incentive to find that original recipe and rework the ingredients to fit a healthier holiday table.
What did I do? I took the pineapple, eggs, and cheese and added cornmeal, peppers & Splenda® Naturals Sugar & Stevia Blend to make a totally healthy cornbread.

The new Splenda® Naturals Sugar & Stevia Blend accented the sweet pineapple and fit perfectly in with the savory.

I have always been a lover of cornmeal, whether it be a muffin or cornbread but sometimes it can be dry and flavorless and those gigantic muffins are loaded with butter and sugar. Bumping up the cast of characters changed the whole outcome. This cornbread was moist, savory, cheesy and perfectly sweet.
A one pan wonder, it came together in my stand mixer.

Using Splenda® Naturals Sugar & Stevia Blend product was a no-brainer. It provided a great taste with 50% fewer calories than sugar, and is made from only 2 non-GMO ingredients: stevia and cane sugar.

The best part is the taste. That's it......there is no discerning aftertaste.  I LOVE IT!
I would bet that when I bring this to our next football tailgate grillfest, I will need to bring printed recipe cards. It's that good.......

Want to know the best part?......Omit the savory and you have breakfast muffins from heaven, just as moist but without all that butter and sugar.

Sweet Ricotta & Pineapple Cornbread
makes 12 portions

* 1 (23.5oz) can crushed pineapple
* 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
* 1/4 cup Splenda® Naturals Sugar & Stevia Blend
* 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 small container part skim ricotta cheese
* 1 can Mexican-style chopped green peppers
* 1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil
* 2/3 cup grated low fat cheddar cheese
* 5 egg whites, whipped to stiff peaks

Preheat oven to 350°

1. Spray an 8x12" pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Drain pineapple & set aside.
2. In a stand mixer, or with a hand blender, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Remove to a separate bowl.
3. In the same mixer bowl, add the remaining ingredients and slowly mix until incorporated.
4. Carefully blend in egg whites using a spatula until there are no large white spots showing.

Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow pan to sit for 20 minutes before removing and cutting.

Can be made up to three days in advance and covered in the refrigerator.


September 9, 2017

Lemon Olive Oil Yogurt Cake ♥ Celebrate with SPLENDA® Sweeteners #Sponsored

"I received free samples of SPLENDA® Naturals Sugar & Stevia Blend mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by SPLENDA® Sweeteners and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time."

I have been using SPLENDA® products for as long as I can remember.
Over the years since I was diagnosed with Prediabetes, information pertaining to the pros and cons relating to alternative sweeteners has been all over the place.
At first I eliminated all sweets but that just made me crave them more. I needed to find a middle ground so I went to the store and purchased every sugar substitute. Over the weeks I tried each one until I found the one that I could live with and that one, was Splenda®.

I think I was one of the first Recipe ReDuxer, to sign-up for samples when the email for this contest hit my In Box. I had not seen Splenda® Naturals Sugar & Stevia Blend in my store and I was anxious to get baking.

I knew about the 50% fewer calories per serving than granulated sugar and that it had no bitter after taste but this blend would allow me to get back into the kitchen and bake my favorite goodies.

So what did I choose?

My family loves olive oil cakes and I am the 'Go To Girl' when it's time to celebrate.
I introduced them about 10 years ago and they quickly knocked my cheesecakes off the proverbial cake stand.
An already healthy olive oil cake is now enhanced with the Splenda® Naturals Sugar & Stevia Blend that is made from only 2 non-GMO ingredients: stevia & cane sugar.

Splenda® Naturals Sugar Stevia Sweetener is considered natural due the fact that the non-GMO ingredients are subjected to minimal processing with no added artificial flavors, no added colors and no artificial ingredients. For more information visit here.

Before I got started I wanted to be sure I had as much information on baking with Splenda®, so I did my homework. I am not a food scientist but I do understand there is a science to baking with sugar.

Sugar is crucial to not only the sweetness but to the structure. It adds moisture and stability to the components that make a cake or cookies rise. Splenda® recommends adding 1/2 cup of dry milk and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda for every cup of Splenda® used in a recipe.

Since I am a person who 'wears a belt and suspenders' I also whipped the egg whites and used self-rising flour (flour + baking powder + salt) that some believe is made with a summer wheat.

The finished cake was moist, tender and light, good things especially with an olive oil cake.
I was extremely happy with the crumb (the pattern of holes inside of a cake or bread) that meant good moisture.

This delicious lemon yogurt cake is so simple to make it and a healthier version minus the butter.
While I baked mine in an angel food pan, if you prefer a taller cake,  bake it in a 6" tube pan.

I opted to top my cake with roasted almonds but thinly sliced lemons would also look nice.

Lemon Olive Oil Yogurt Cake
makes 1- 8" cake

* 1/2 cup Splenda® Naturals Sugar & Stevia Blend
* 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
* 2 cups self-rising flour
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 1 tablespoon lemon zest
* 3/4 cup regular olive oil
* 1 cup 2% plain yogurt
* 2 eggs yolks
* 2 egg whites, whipped

Preheat oven to 350°.

1. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients except the egg whites.
2. Using a hand or stand mixer whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks.
3. Gently fold the whites into the rest of the batter using a large whisk with an under to over motion until there are no whites showing.
4. Spoon cake mixture into a greased ring tin and bake for 30 minutes.
5. Remove the cake and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Invert to a cake stand or platter until if falls to the platter. If it still sticks, gently run a thin spatula around the outside of the cake until it loosens.
6. Top with thin slices of lemon or toasted almond slices.


August 24, 2017

Cu-Balls ♥ Cubano meatballs served with rice & beans

This next sentence will make no sense after you clicked on a post written about stuffed meatballs.
I am not a fan of stuffed meatballs.

OK, porcupines are not in the same category as stuffed. Those I could eat once a week. Except I think I made them once in the 35 years of marriage to a meatball maniac.
I told you it made no sense.
The whole meatball subject is sorta taboo in this house.

I have been told on many occasions that I am "NOT" allowed to change my meatball recipe. Oh yea, not one thing. While most cooks will take that as a huge compliment, I am not most. I like to tinkle.
Now, I am not sure where that "compliment" stands after last nights dinner.

These meatballs were "da bomb". No really, they were so full of flavor, had a great texture and were proclaimed "wowwwww, these are good". Remember this recipe.
So much for changin' my meatballs.

No, I know what he means but I was pretty darn happy he was so happy with a different version. There is hope after all.
Not that I will go on a binge spending my days dreaming of meatball recipes.
I simply had an idea and wanted to see how it would taste.

If I did make these again, there are a few things I would change.
Instead of stuffing the balls, I would try combining the stuffing right into the ground meat mixture and just stuff a cheese cube in each.

The boss never knew I subbed out the traditional bread crumbs with oats but I like that texture and I needed a dense mixture that would form a solid wall around the stuffing.
I was afraid the cheese might blow a hole in the balls.

Cubano Meatballs
makes 8 meatballs

* 3/4 lb ground pork
* 1/3 cup quick oats
* 1 large egg
* 1/4 cup chopped onion
* 2 teaspoons Goya Adobo
* 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup minced Wickels or spicy/sweet pickles  
1/3 cup ground ham steak
1 tablespoon quick oats
8 cubes Jarlsberg cheese

1 can condensed onion soup + 1/2 can water
1 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons pickle juice
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup hardy beer (optional)

1. Thoroughly mix meatball ingredients. In another bowl mix the stuffing without the cheese cubes.
2. Using a large ice cream scoop, portion level scoops of meatball mix on a plate.
3. In the palm of your hand, place one meat mixture scoop and make an indent in the middle where the stuffing will go.
4. Place 1 tablespoon stuffing in indent, add a cheese cube and pull the meat up and around stuffing, and seal making the mixture into a meatball. If meat becomes crumbly slight moisten your fingers and meat with water. This will be the glue necessary to form a sealed meatball.
5. In a 3 quart saucepan add the gravy ingredients and bring to a simmer.
6. Heat a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Fry the meatballs and add to the gravy.
7. When meatballs are browned all over, add to the gravy, cover & simmer for 20 minutes. Remove lid and lower heat to a slow simmer and cook for another 20 minutes.

Serve meatballs and gravy with rice & beans (I used Goya boxed rice & bean mix)

August 21, 2017

Kentucky Hot Brown Stuffed Tomatoes ♥ Rise & Shine with a Savory Breakfast - RecipeReDux Challenge August 2017

Hi there,
Time for another Recipe Redux Challenge.

This month's challenge is a Rise and Shine with a Savory Breakfast
The trend of protein-packed breakfasts is catching on…and back-to-school time is looming. This month, show us new healthy takes on eating savory or dinner-inspired dishes for breakfast.

I knew this dish was the national dish of the Kentucky Derby. Wasn't until this year that I expressed an interest in making the Hot Brown.
What clinched the deal is a daily bumper crop of tomatoes that is on the verge of being unmanageable. For tomato lovers this is a year to brag about.

Anyone who grows tomatoes knows it is hit and miss from year to year. Last year it was so hot, I bought umbrellas to shade my crops but by August, the vines dried up and stopped producing.
This year I kept my produce choices to 4 vegetables. Swiss chard, Asian eggplants, cubanel peppers and tomatoes.

So where do I stand as of today? Bumper eggplants, decent amount of chard, absolutely NO peppers. Ahh but there are 6 kinds of tomatoes that just won't stop producing. I think the cooler weather this August has lots to do with that. Not complaining but I am not as big a lover of tomatoes as the Nudge is, so he gets a grape, cherry & teardrop tomatoes in a jar salad he eats weekdays.

Finally the large meaty tomatoes started to turn red and all at the same time. My San Marzano's have been appearing in sauces, salsas, and salads for a month but the Rutgers are finally sitting in the sun waiting for it's day in the spotlight.

The timing could not have been better for posting this recipe.
Anyone not familiar with a Hot Brown needs to know that it is as Southern as can be.
Bacon, tomatoes, egg toast (brioche), cheese sauce and poached eggs. What's not to love.

For a healthier version (and one that can be prepared the day before), I am taking those iconic ingredients and stuffing them into a tomato instead of on top.

Originally this dish is made with freshly roasted turkey breast and if you use your leftover Thanksgiving turkey for sandwiches why not make this instead.
Too hot to roast any bird, I bought a pound of deli Black Bear Green Hatch Pepper Chicken Breast (sliced 1/8" thick) & chopped that into bite sized pieces. I baked the egg bread and set the tomatoes on top, which will not only act as the sponge at the bottom of the tomatoes, it helps to keep them snugly straight. The rest was layering, baking and then topping with a poached egg. I am giving my Hot Brown a Texas spin by using pepper jack cheese and the hatch pepper chicken.

I have to say, while I lightened up this version there was no indication of lighter flavor.
This was good and different so come Thanksgiving, will make an appearance on my turkey day leftover buffet.
Next time I am going to place a grilled slice of artisan Italian bread to sop up all the tomato juices and the sauce.

Kentucky Hot Brown Stuffed Tomatoes
makes 2 tomatoes
* 2 large tomatoes, insides removed & salted
* 6 oz cheese (2oz Pepper Jack, 2oz 50% less fat sharp Cheddar, 1oz Asiago, 1oz Parmesan)
* 1/2 can evaporated skim milk
* 5 slices bacon, cooked
* 1 lb roasted turkey or chicken, chopped
* 2 large eggs, poached or fried, salted & peppered

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place the tomatoes upside down on a paper towel while you grate the cheeses.
Divide the cheeses in half.
Heat the evaporated milk and add half the grated cheeses.
Stir until sauce is smooth with no lumps. Remove from the heat.

Toast the bread and chop into crouton. Place croutons in bottom of baking dish.

Stuff the tomatoes starting with a quarter of the meat then the same with the cheese. Repeat.
Top the tomatoes with bacon strips.

Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. The tomatoes should be hot and tender but still hold their shape. Tent the tomatoes with the foil and reheat the cheese sauce.
Ladle a few spoon fulls of the sauce on each dinner plate and then place half the croutons on the sauce. Top that with one tomato.
Place poached egg on top of bacon and then spoon more of the cheese sauce over the egg.



August 19, 2017

Slow Cooker Beet, Goat Cheese & Walnut Salad ♥ a no-fail way to cook fresh beets

This salad was inspired by two ingredients I recently had the pleasure of being introduced too.
Fresh beets and Trader Joe's Honey Jalapeno Goat Cheese!!
Oh, my what a combo and by adding a few tomatoes from my garden with glazed walnut pieces I had the BEST salad the other day.

I love fresh beets but with all my culinary accomplishments, roasting/cooking fresh beets comes in dead last.
I can not count the times I bought fresh beets only to eventually throw them in the trash.

Funny stat. I eat jarred beets in every chop salad I eat weekday. How sad is that?
My success rating on making fresh ones is probably 3:20. I eventually got the hint, succumbed to my failures and bought good jarred salad beets.

Luckily the season & my success with cooking beets coincided, so while all my other ingredients moving forward will probably be hot house varieties, my beets with be the star.
If you have never eaten a fresh beet you have to try this food-proof preparation.

Did you ever have a "duh" moment in cooking?
Mine came the other day when I saw not one, but a few recipes for carrot vegan hot dogs.
Not sure I would make a hot dog with them but I would definitely use that technique for my usual veggie contribution to our Thanksgiving table this year.
As soon as I committed that to memory, I had my moment.

Why not cook my beets using the slow cooker technique on those carrots?
OMG, this was too easy (and boy, did I feel dumb).

I bought a beautiful bunch of beets (tops in great shape but that's for another post) at a local farm stand the other day and set my iPad to remind me to cook them no later than Friday.

I simply washed three baseball-sized beets and placed them in the slow cooker insert. No water, no seasonings, no nothing. I used my small 2 quart cooker and if you find your beets too big for the pot, just slice them in half. Yes, it's that easy. 
I set the cook selection to high, closed the lid and set my timer to 3 hours.

When I got back from my walk, I took a skewer and tested a beet. It was perfectly cook!!
Just the right resistance. I placed them in a bowl to cool to room temp and when they did, I peeled the halved beet for a salad tonight and the other two were wrapped in a paper towel and tucked into veggie bags.... I now have enough for about a dozen salads.

Slow Cooker Beet, Goat Cheese & Walnut Salad
makes 2 servings

* 1 cooked fresh beet, sliced into 1/4" pieces
* 1/4 package jalapeno-honey goat cheese, broken into small pieces
* handful of chopped plain or glazed walnuts
* Favorite vinaigrette (I like a Vidalia onion one)
* chopped fresh herbs (parsley, basil, lemon verbana)
* thinly sliced sweet or red onion, optional

Last minute I threw in a few grape and teardrop tomatoes from my garden (first harvest of the summer).

Besides the sweet sugary taste that cooked beets have, a 100 gram amount (3.4oz) has only 43 calories, 10% carbs, less than 1% fat but has 27% folate and 16% magnesium.
I like that they also have 3g of fiber. Yes, please.

July 27, 2017

Roasted Icelandic Creole Cod ♥ One pan - thirty minute fish for two

I had this can of smoked oysters in my pantry, part of a food basket won at a Christmas party years ago.
At least once a year I clean and reorganized my canned food rack and that can would move back & forth and reminded me I just have to find a recipe or throw that can out.

Today was the day. I bought a beautiful thick cut Icelandic cod fillet that would be perfect with a smoked oyster creamed sauce with roasted potatoes.
My inspiration? A sauce based on that iconic oyster chowder at the famous Grand Central Terminal Oyster Bar.
I couldn't wait to write up the ingredients and get cooking.....that is, until I could not find that can of oysters. Hell of a time for me to forget.....I hate when a plan falls apart.
Since I was hoping to post about the smoked oyster sauce, I thought I would share this one dish dinner.
So, here we have plan B.
A creole sauce instead.

I have made so many different creole dishes, each with a different sauce to pair with the protein.
I geared this one towards the neutral flavor of the cod. It never had to compete with assertive flavors so I made a lite version. Most creole sauces are thick with tomato sauce & paste. I made this one with the tomato juice leftover after I used the canned plum tomatoes to make a tomato jam.
A can of V-8 or basic tomato juice would also work.

I finely chopped about 1/2 cup of mixed colored peppers and one large shallot. The rest was spices, Worcestershire and liquid smoke. A splash of vermouth to tone down the acid in the tomato.

I roasted the cod on top of the sauce and before I served dinner and to finish the dish, I stirred a dollop of sour cream (or Greek yogurt) into the sauce.

While I am into whole foods, Creole dishes should be served over converted white rice. If a low glycemic index is of concern to you, converted rice has half the GI of regular long grain rice. I like to think that an old Cajun smiles each time I do.

1/2 cup minced bell peppers (red, orange, green, yellow or blend of all)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 small onion, or large shallot, minced
salt & pepper
olive oil
1 1/2 cups tomato juice from canned plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon creole seasoning
1 teaspoon Goya Adobo
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 cup vermouth
2 tablespoons light sour cream of Greek yogurt
1 pound Icelandic Cod

Heat a large skillet and add a tablespoon or two of EVOO. Set the oven to 425°.
Add the garlic, peppers and onion. Saute on medium low until they start to brown.
Add the Creole seasoning, Worcestershire, liquid smoke and 1/2 cup vermouth.
Simmer until reduced, then add the tomato juice and season with salt & pepper.
Continue to simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened.
Season cod with adobo and place in skillet.
Carefully add the hot skillet to the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, depending on how thick the cod is. Remember the rule for cooking fish "10 minutes an inch".
Place the cod on a plate. Stir the yogurt into the sauce and spoon over the cod.

Enjoy! This will become a favorite, I promise.


July 13, 2017

Greens Stuffed Corn Pudding ♥ Easy, peasy side for two

I happen to love polenta or anything made with cornmeal. Seems I am the only one (of two) in this house that does.

Now the Nudge tells another story. He will look me in the eye and say "I like polenta, just not as much as you do."
I saw these stuffed polenta cakes and just had to make them. When cooking for two (and the one of the "two" not a big cornmeal fan), I know enough to make a sample batch.
Just to test the waters, so to say.
If he takes a bite and I get good reaction, I pin the recipe and do the happy dance. Needless to say that list is small but this was big.

I think the key was making this with corn muffins. They tend to be on the sweeter side with a lighter consistency than corn bread, at least the oversized Puffin Muffins at my local supermarket. Damn those babies are way too good (meaning NOT good for a diet).

You could make homemade muffins but when cooking for two, a dozen muffins means 6 muffins each and I know (because of the "one" of the two being a cornmeal zealot) that I would end up eating 10 muffins.
Not good.

Buying one large muffin (picture Costco-size) makes more sense and is the perfect amount for two sides.

While I baked mine in 2-8oz ramekins, for a family a Texas muffin tin is perfect.

I successfully halved the original recipe. I also used canned mustard greens. You need a hearty green, like canned collards or fresh kale or arugula (will add an additional step) that won't disintegrate during the baking process.

Don't poo poo me for not making polenta, it would not work in this recipe. Trust me, I tried it the first time.
Could you make this recipe presentation in a casserole pan? No, and I will tell you why.
If you look at the first picture you will see that when cutting for picture purposes, the greens cut into the tender corn pudding. I would like the appearance of sharp clean sides, after all, that's why it is baked into ramekins. A nice neat package.

If you were OK serving this as you would a dressing or stuffing, making this in a baking pan is great.

I plan or taking this concept and running in all different directions, including Tex-Mex, Creole & Italian to name a few.

Greens Stuffed Corn Pudding
makes 2-8oz ramekins

adapted from NYT Cooking

For the greens:

  • 2 slices smoked bacon
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/3 cup canned mustard or collard greens
  • Salt to taste

For the pudding:

  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 1 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoons rubbed sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 large (or 4 small) cornmeal muffin, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 eggs
For the greens:
Cook the bacon and the onions. Drain on a paper towel and mix into the greens, reserving the fat. Taste for salt (you probably won't need any depending on your bacon).

For the pudding:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cook the onions & garlic in the bacon fat. Add the peppers & cream.
In a small bowl add the cooked to the muffin and then the eggs. Mix thoroughly.

Spoon 2/3 of the mixture evenly into the prepared ramekins. Add half the greens on top of the pudding and finish with the remaining pudding mixture.

Place the ramekins in a baking pan, covered with foil, and bake for 60 minutes. Remove ramekins & let them rest for 10 minutes.
Run a knife around the inside of each ramekin and revert onto a dinner plate.
Serve with a roast, steak or seafood.

July 3, 2017

Citrus Salts ♥ How to get more pucker from your citrus

How many times has this happened to you.....
Sign says "limes 10 for $2"?

Wow how could you possibly pass up that deal? In the bag and the basket and then you get home.
Now, a week later you open the fridge to the realization those limes don't quite look as good as they did when you brought them home.

Answer me this. What the heck are you going to make to use them up? Yes, you can freeze the juice in ice cube trays but I am talking about the zest. A vital part of citrus, the zest can be used in a myriad of ways but my favorite is to make citrus salts.

So easy to do, especially if you are using the juice. I have heard many chefs tell us to always zest the rind before squeezing the fruits and what do I do? Yup, you got it.

Did you know that the zest has, if not more, nutrition attributes than the juice.
Yes, the rinds seem to be more nutrient dense than the flesh. Citrus peels are packed with immune-boosting vitamin C, bone-building calcium and anti-inflammatory, antioxidant bioflavonoids. They also provide potassium, which helps keep blood pressure in check, and limonene, a phytochemical that may have anti-cancer effects.

To totally understand the benefits of bioflavonoids I have included a list of the top 8 benefits or having bioflavonoids in your daily diet:
Varicose veins
Cardiovascular health
Cold Sores
High blood pressure

While most people under 50 will probably think they don't need to worry about half the concerns on that list, but since this house is now occupied by senior citizens as are all our family and friends, this is pretty important information especially since citrus is easy to do in fresh form.

That said, let's get back to the business of zesting. You only need two ingredients to make citrus salt.
A microplane & a lemon, lime or even an orange.
I bought a microplane that comes with a plastic sheath. They can be purchased at any restaurant supply or houseware store for at or under $12.00. The cover traps the zest, allowing the user to scrape the zest into a bowl without it falling on to the counter.

I recommend either a flake sea salt or kosher salt for the best absorption of the zest and flavor. I do not think table salt will work as well and will form clumps adhering to the zest.

Ratio of zest to salt: I like 1 tablespoon zest (a small lime or half a large lemon) to 4 tablespoons of salt. Mix it well, cover it tightly, put it in a cabinet and forget about it....for about 1 week or two.
We need that time for the salt to pull out and absorb the moisture in the zest.
I find that those square small zippy containers are perfect for individual batches.

I use mine on fish, chicken, lamb, vegetables & of course, on the rim of a cocktail glass!!
After 1 week of storage, the lemon that hits your nose is stronger than fresh and dry preserved to last 'till the very last sprinkle. The longer it is stored the better it gets.

Don't throw out any unzested citrus & Enjoy!!


June 28, 2017

Sicilian Cod with Fresh Garlic Tomato Sauce ♥ a lite, flavorful & easy one pot meal for two

Right about this time of year I get into a food funk. I ask the Nudge for ideas for dinner and all he can come up with is sausage & pepper sandwiches, chicken parm, carbonara and hamburgers.


I think it was time to seriously hit my favorite food sites and blogs for inspiration.

Food & Wine often posts themed slideshows and I save them on my iPad for times such as this.
This recipe was posted in this batch of More Healthy Fish Recipes.

I made this dinner in one pan and it was on the table in less than 45 mins.
While I usually make slight adjustments this time I followed the recipe verbatim.
It was delicious, healthy and so easy.
I always worry that by halving the ingredients to make a dinner for two sometimes won't work, this time it was spot on.

While the recipe called for halibut fillets, they just did not look as fresh as I would have liked for the price so I went with cod steaks thinking the skin would keep the meat intact and once cooked would peel easily away.
It did.

Since I had arborio rice on hand, that's what I used but any rice would be fine, really.
This is the kind of dish that I usually make when the Nudge is traveling and I want something quick and healthy.

Cod with Fresh Tomato Sauce
makes 2 servings (can be doubled)

* 3 tablespoons EVOO
* 3 large cloves garlic, minced
* pinch red pepper flakes
* 1 1/2pound tomatoes, coarsely chopped (about 4 plums)
* pinch saffron threads
* 3 oregano sprigs, dried or fresh or, 1/4 teaspoon dried
* Salt & pepper to taste
* Zest of 1/2 an orange (1/2" strips), plus finely grated zest (for garnish)
* 2 large bay leaves
* 1 whole clove
* 1/2 cup arborio rice (or basmati and long grain)
* 2 4-ounce skinless cod or halibut fillets
* Chopped parsley, for garnish

1. In a large, deep skillet, bring 2 cups of unsalted water to a boil and add the zest, bay leaves, clove and rice. Cook for 15-18 minutes. Drain the rice, discarding the aromatics. Reserve in a bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil & salt & pepper to taste.
2. Wipe out skillet and heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is golden, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and saffron to the garlic and cook over moderate heat until the tomatoes begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the oregano and season with salt & pepper. Cook over low heat until the sauce is thickened and liquid is reduced, about 20 minutes. Discard the oregano.
3. Nestle the cod in the tomato sauce, cover and steam for 10 minutes, until fish starts to flake.
4. Divide rice into two bowls and place a piece of fish on top. Spoon the tomato mixture over the fish and garnish with the orange zest & parsley.

Serve & enjoy!

June 9, 2017

Steak & Potato Salad ♥ a cool version of a steakhouse dinner

Whenever I get back from vacation, I find that it is the best time to pull food from the freezer before filling up that empty fridge.
It so happened that when The Nudge grabbed a filet mignon to defrost, he did not realize there were two fillets in the same bag.
Not a problem, I would grill them both and use the second one to make a steak & potato salad for dinner during the week.

Potatoes made the vacation food purge as well as a half dozen eggs, blue cheese crumbles and a container of sour cream.
All I needed to purchase was lettuce, tomato and fresh horseradish.

I have to say that this was a pleasant delicious surprise after eating my daily garden salad for lunch everyday.
I kept it simple and the only thing I had to cook was the roasted potatoes and hard cooked eggs.
Next time I put steak on the menu I will remember to buy more than we normally eat so that I can make this salad again.

You are probably thinking that this salad doesn't sound all that impressive with the basic ingredients used, so why put this on my list of "must make again" meals?

It was the horseradish cream dressing that took it up a notch. I usually buy fresh horseradish root when we put fresh oysters and shrimp cocktail on the menu and I love it so but never get many other chances to cook with it. Probably why this salad made the cut.

If you do not eat much steak, I would suggest buying sliced roast beef from the deli man when it goes on sale. You can even by precooked hard boiled eggs, bagged salad & my supermarket sells roasted potato wedges. Really is an easy weeknight meal sure to impress.

Steak & Potato Salad with Horseradish Cream Dressing
makes 2 dinner & 1 lunch salad

* 1 (6oz) grilled filet mignon or 6oz deli roast beef
* 1 tomato, sliced
* 2 potatoes, 1" chunks
* vegetable oil
* 3 hard boiled eggs, sliced
* 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
* 2-3 cups chopped lettuce, your favorite
* chopped chives or lettuce or basil

Coat potatoes with oil and roast for 45 minutes at 400°. Season with salt & pepper.

Horseradish Dressing:
* 1/4 cup sour cream
* 3 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish root, or prepared horseradish
* 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
* 1 teaspoon honey
* 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
* 1 teaspoon milk (if sauce is too thick)
* Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

 Mix ingredients with hand blender or small processor. Thin with milk if needed.

May 21, 2017

Cocktails and Mocktails for May Celebrations ♥ #The Recipe ReDux May Challenge

Cocktails and Mocktails for May Celebrations
Showers and celebrations with friends abound this time of year. Show us your healthy, colorful drink concoctions for festivities like bridal showers and graduation celebrations.

I have been making this sangria for over 40 years. Even today, except for swapping the white wine with Prosecco, it's the same recipe and I would not change a thing.

For those of you lucky enough to have watched The Frugal Gourmet, you might remember this recipe. Could make this in my sleep.

The beauty is it can be a mocktail or a cocktail. The simple swap of a good white grape juice, orange syrup and club soda along with the fruits, make this the perfect non-alcoholic drink to cool you down in the middle of the summer.
For those of you who want a light, easy and fruity drink, this is for you.

White Sangria
inspiration from Jeff Smith (the Frugal Gourmet)

* 1 bottle Prosecco or 3 cups white grape juice & 1 cup club soda
* 1 tablespoon sugar
* 1/2 cup orange juice
* 1/4 cup triple sec (or orange syrup)
* 1 tablespoon brandy
* 1/2 orange, sliced
* 1/2 lime and lemon, sliced
* Handful grapes, optional

Mix all ingredients in a large pitcher and refrigerate for minimum 2 hours for optimal flavor.