Saturday, December 31, 2011

Recipe - Lavender Heart Cookies

Lavender, its bushy hedges wafting a delicate scent in the winter sunshine, is one of my favourite herbs. It is hardy, smells wonderful, cleanses the air of viruses and repels insects. All these virtues and you can bake with it too! I was going through my recipe books yesterday, looking for something new to try in the biscuit baking line and saw a recipe for Lavender Heart Cookies. Every time I’d glanced through the book it had always intrigued me, but I'd never tried it before, as the idea of using lavender in baking seemed a little bizarre...interesting but probably getting results of 'yuk Mum, what are these bits?'

Anyway, in the spirit of culinary adventure, I thought I'd have a go. The ingredients were minimal - butter, sugar, flour and flowers! Lavender florets. So off I went to pick the lavender. Not much was required, just two tablespoons of fresh florets (the little purple flower bits off the main stalk), so I had a nice therapeutic moment selecting the best stalks from my lavender hedge, which is still producing new flowers despite it being the middle of winter here. Then came the mixing all the ingredients together into a crumbly dough, which is more crumb than dough, but eventually did all work together. After its rest in the fridge, I tentatively rolled out the dough, still crumbling madly, but it was eventually persuaded to stay together by an insistent rolling pin. I churlishly refused my youngest daughter’s offers of help in cutting out the hearts...mean of me, I know, but this was my journey of exploration not hers, this time!

They came out of the oven, fragrant and golden. The moment of reckoning drew near. Children, scenting new baking, gathered around. The girls uncritically tucked in, my son, the conservative connoisseur, turned away, but changed his mind at the appreciative noises around him. A cautious nibble and he was convinced – I was not trying to poison them...!

Here's the recipe in case you'd like a culinary adventure too!

Lavender Heart Cookies
115g/4oz butter
90ml/6 tablespoons caster sugar
175g/6oz plain flour
2 tablespoons fresh lavender florets

Cream together the butter and 60ml/4 tablespoons of the sugar till light and fluffy. Stir in the flour and lavender and work it in, kneading with your hands till it comes together into a soft ball of dough. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured surface. Stamp out the cookies with a heart shaped cutter (alternatively a fluted-edged round cutter). Makes about 18 with a 5cm/2inch cutter. Put carefully onto a lightly greased baking tray and sprinkle the remaining sugar onto the top of each shape. Bake at 200C/400F for about 10 minutes till golden. Leave the cookies on the tray for 5 minutes, before putting on to a cooling rack.

So my experiment was deemed a success. The adults, later that evening, also liked them. ''Elizabethan'' suggested my sister-in-law, and "packaged in a pretty box they'd make a great gift". I have to admit here that, given the choice of a chocolate biscuit or a lavender one, the children would unanimously vote for chocolate, but the fact that they considered them edible at all, when they knew they had flowers in, is pretty high praise for this recipe. I was the one who surreptitiously finished them off the next morning with my tea. That fragrant flavour on the palate, clean yet sweet, was irresistible!

Copyright 2006 Kit Heathcock

Friday, December 30, 2011

Olive Oils Explained

Olives and their oil are some of the oldest foods around today. Cultivation of the olive has been traced back as far as 5000 BC. It really is quite surprising, considering it has been around for so long, that many people are still only just discovering it. Not only is it delicious but being loaded with essential fatty acids and high in antioxidants, it is also incredibly healthy. Below is an explanation of some of the common types of olive oil and terms used to describe them.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Is the oil obtained from the first pressing of the olives. It is usually greener than other olive oils, and has very low acidity (it may not exceed .8%). It is ideal for use in dressings, dips and marinades.

Virgin Olive Oil: Is also obtained from the first pressing of the olives, although is slightly higher in acidity (it may not exceed 2.0%). It is very good oil but just not good enough to be designated extra virgin.

Olive Oil: Often consists of a blend of refined oil and virgin oil. The virgin oil gives it the flavour that the heat treated and refined oil lacks. A good all around oil, better suited to cooking as it has a slightly higher burning point than the virgins.

Light Olive Oil: Is refined oil obtained from the latter pressings. Each subsequent press of the olives, results in lighter and less flavourful oil. The term 'light' refers only to the colour and flavour and not the caloric content. It is again suitable for frying or saut'ing.

Pomace Olive Oil: Is oil obtained from the left over flesh and pits after being pressed. To release the remaining oil out of this (pomace) it is often treated with solvents and heat. The resulting oils are then refined to be fit for human consumption; because of this refining it can lack flavour. It is suitable for frying as it has quite a high burning point, but personally I hesitate to use it.

Early Harvest: Simply refers to the fact that the fruit was picked slightly under ripe. The under ripeness of the olive results in a sought after oil that is slightly bitter, peppery and very green. The smaller olives yield less oil and as such Early Harvest oils often sell for more.

Late Harvest: Is oil obtained from fully mature olives and results in a smooth oil that may be described as sweetish and fruity.

Cold Pressed: Refers to the fact that the olives were pressed without the use of heat. Olives that are pressed when heated yield more oil but the heat can destroy some of the delicate flavours that are retained when cold pressed.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Juicy Campari Tomatoes Available Year-Round. The vine-ripened flavor of Campari tomatoes make it just right for snacking or use in salad sor salsa.

Juicy Campari Tomatoes Available Year-Round. The vine-ripened flavor of Campari tomatoes make it just right for snacking or use in salad sor salsa.

Article Body:
Any way you slice it, nothing tastes as fresh as a juicy, ripe tomato. Now fresh-from-the-vine flavor is available year-round in Campari tomatoes, a new variety that is changing the way people think about tomatoes.

Perfectly round, about the size of a golf ball and deep red in color, the Campari is greenhouse-grown and is quickly becoming America's favorite tomato.

The tomatoes are sold in clusters on the vine to ensure peak freshness and flavor; their smaller size also make them an ideal snacking tomato.

To ensure maximum flavor, leave tomatoes on the vine after purchase and always store at room temperature; refrigeration permanently alters tomato flavor.

It's easy to add fresh flavor to your favorite foods. Toss diced Campari tomatoes with cubes of mozzarella, fresh basil and balsamic vinegar. Or finish an egg scramble with sliced Campari tomatoes for an extra burst of lycopene in the morning.

The following salad is perfect to bring to any casual gathering:

Campari Tomato Penne Salad with Gorgonzola

Preparation Time: 20 minutes Serves: 6

8 oz. penne pasta

1 pkg. (6 oz.) baby spinach leaves

6 Campari tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 pkg. (4 oz.) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

1. Cook and drain pasta according to package directions.

2. Place hot pasta, spinach, tomatoes, cheese, salt and pepper in large mixing bowl; drizzle with oil and vinegar.

3. Toss gently until combined; sprinkle with pine nuts just before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kabobs-Another Word For Dinner On A Stick

Cookout season is just around the corner and everyone is anxiously awaiting the smoky aroma that wafts throughout the neighborhood when families fire up their barbeque grills. Hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks and chicken – we all enjoy the traditional favorites of grilling, but how about spicing up your barbeque lineup with some fun and delicious Kabobs? Nothing is more convenient or festive than kabobs.

You can select from chunks of marinated beef or chicken with some yummy fresh veggies or fruit nicely seared over the coals. However you ‘stick it’, kabobs are a great choice for both family and entertaining.

Here’s a couple of delicious kabob recipes to try out this summer:

Steak and Veggie Kabobs

½ cup dry white wine
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ tsp salt
½ c vegetable oil or olive oil
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp chili sauce
1 tbsp vinegar
½ tsp dried whole oregano
½ tsp dried whole thyme
2 lbs boneless sirloin steak cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
½ lb fresh mushroom caps
2 large green peppers, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
1 pint cherry tomatoes
4 small yellow squash, cut into 1 inch thick pieces

Combine the first 9 ingredients. Add meat; cover and marinate at least 2 hours in the refrigerator, turning meat occasionally. Remove meat from marinade, reserving marinade. Alternate meat and veggies on skewers. Grill over medium coals 10-15 minutes or until desired degree of doneness, basting with marinade. Serves 5.

Marinated Lamb Kabobs

2 lbs boneless lamb
1 onion, diced
1/3 c diced green pepper
1/2 c dry red wine
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp sage
1/8 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp dried whole oregano

Remove fell (the tissue like covering) from lamb, if necessary; cut meat into 1 inch cubes and set aside. Combine the remaining 8 ingredients in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Add lamb; cover and marinate overnight in refrigerator. Remove meat from marinade, reserve liquid. Cook marinade in small saucepan until heated. Place meat on skewers. Grill about 6 inches from medium coals for 15 minutes or until done, turning and basting often with marinade. Serves 6.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Healthy Meals And Snacks From The Cool Aisles Of The Store. More than milk: Convenient, tasty and healthy foods can be found in the refrigerated dairy

The refrigerated dairy aisles of the grocery store are full of convenient, tasty, healthy foods-whether you're looking for thirst-quenching drinks, terrific meals and accompaniments or nutritious snacks.

Here are some ideas for nutritious anytime snacks:

• Cheese Kabob-Alternate slices of apples and cheddar cheese on skewers.

• Tropical Smoothie-Blend orange juice, frozen strawberries and vanilla yogurt.

• Morning Wake-up-Mix cup of skim milk with teaspoon of instant coffee and sweetened cocoa.

• Granola Delight-Layer granola and fresh fruit with favorite yogurt flavor.

• Ultimate Easy Snack-Keep the fridge full of individually packaged yogurts, jello, cheese sticks, vegetable dips and more for anytime, anywhere snacking.

While any time of year can be a great time to visit the Cool Aisles of the store, June is officially Dairy Month, sponsored by the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA). That means you can find special prices and promotions on many tasty cool favorites.

Here is a breakfast, lunch or dinner entrée that's easy to make, with key ingredients from the dairy aisle:

Vegetable Cheddar Quiche

1 cup chopped red, green or yellow bell peppers

3/4 cup sliced mushrooms

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 cup refrigerated egg substitute

1 cup refrigerated non-dairy creamer

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

1 oz shredded Cheddar Cheese

Heat 10" skillet; spray generously with nonstick cooking spray; sauté peppers, mushrooms and onions until tender-crisp. Combine egg substitute, creamer, salt and pepper; pour into skillet, cover and cook over medium-low heat until set, approx. 8-10 minutes. Sprinkle quiche with cheese and replace cover until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and let set for two minutes. Serves 4.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Indian Tandoori Cooking

Traditionally, tandoori dishes are cooked in a tandoor, an oval shaped clay oven with a small fire in the bottom. The heat rises gradually but ultimately reaches a much higher temperature than a barbeque.

A tandoor is normally used to cook naan bread, meats and kebabs (meat or paneer). The bread is stuck to the sides, the kebabs stood vertically and whole chickens rested on a grid over the fire.

For domestic cooking, a tandoor is not really convenient but the meat dishes can be reproduced on a barbeque or in the oven. The bright red appearance of tandoori meats which you may see in Indian restaurants is produced by a food dye which really isn’t necessary to enhance the look of your tandoori dishes.

I have a great fondness for tandoori style food. It has flavour, without being "hot" or high in calories or too filling. In fact it's an ideal dish summer or winter, if you fancy something a little different. As a bonus, it doesn't take hours to prepare. Of course you can take all the effort out of it and use a pre-prepared mix, but I think they have less flavour and you can’t use them for anything else, whereas if you use the individual spices, you can make other dishes as well.

You can easily make tandoori chicken (whole), tandoori lamb chops (pork would be more unusual, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use it, if you prefer) and lamb tikka (kebabs) but my personal favourite is chicken tikka because it’s so quick so here’s my own recipe.

This recipe serves two people - multiply it for as many people as you want.

  • 2 Chicken breasts
  • 1 small tub Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ginger powder
  • ½ tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Cut the chicken breasts into 1 inch cubes and set aside.
Mix the spice powders and garlic into the yogurt. You can use low fat yogurt if you prefer. You can also use fresh ginger or ginger paste from a jar rather than ginger powder but go easy on the quantity as it can be quite over-powering.

At this point you can also mix in the salt and lemon juice but if you do so, don’t leave the chicken to marinade for more than about 20 minutes or it will become very dry when cooked. If you want to marinade it for a longer time, add the salt and lemon juice just before you cook the dish or sprinkle on to serve.

Thread the chicken onto skewers and either barbeque or cook under a grill using medium heat until the chicken is slightly browned and cooked through.

For a light meal, serve with salad, pitta or naan bread and lemon wedges or for something more substantial with rice and dahl.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Better Brownies, Better Taste, Better Nutrition

Brownies just keep getting better and better. Moist, chewy and so easy, these Fudgy-Fig-Nut Brownies are made with rich dark chocolate, crunchy toasted walnuts and surprise-sweet, delicious figs. Taste and health have joined together with simple directions to deliver brownies fit for every day or special occasions such as Father's Day, Fourth of July and birthdays.

Amber-colored golden figs and dark purple Mission figs star as the special secret ingredients that make these brownies so unique and so delicious. The tiny crunchy seeds and sweet, chewy flavor of the figs complement the toasted walnuts and smooth dark chocolate. Health-conscious cooks are excited to learn that dark chocolate contributes health-promoting flavonol antioxidants; dried figs offer a unique array of essential vitamins and minerals and an excellent amount of dietary fiber; and walnuts deliver essential omega-3 fatty acids and "good" monounsaturated fats.

Figs are also great for snacking because they are so portable and convenient, along with being a nutrient-dense fruit. Three to four figs provide 6 percent daily value (DV) iron, 6 percent DV calcium, 6 percent DV magnesium, 6 percent DV vitamin B6 and 8 percent DV copper.

Fudgy Fig-Nut Brownies

3 large eggs

11/4 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup stemmed and chopped Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Golden or Mission Figs

1/3 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 325°. Coat 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray. In medium bowl, lightly beat eggs with wire whisk. Add sugar and whisk until well-blended. Whisk in oil and vanilla. Melt chocolate in small bowl in microwave oven on 50 percent power for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring every minute. Whisk chocolate into egg mixture. In small bowl, stir together flour, cocoa and salt. Stir flour mixture into chocolate mixture, blending until smooth; batter will be stiff. Stir in figs and walnuts. Spread batter in baking pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until pick inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs attached. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into 16 brownies.

Nutrients per serving (16): Calories 191; Protein 3g; Total Fat 7g; Carbohydrate 29g; Cholesterol 40mg; Dietary Fiber 2g; Sodium 65mg.

Figs, chocolate and walnuts--nutrition and taste come together in one delicious brownie.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Celebrating A Milestone With Semi-Homemade Chef Sandra Lee

Remember the smell of freshly baked raisin oatmeal cookies when you were little? Chances are, sitting on the counter while your mother was baking them was a red box with the memorable image of a woman in a red bonnet holding a tray of freshly picked grapes.

Since 1916, the Sun-Maid girl has been in the hearts and homes of families across the country and she is receiving a digital makeover for her 90th birthday. In honor of the new, more modern look, celebrity chef Sandra Lee, of "Semi-Homemade" fame, has done a contemporary take on the traditional oatmeal cookie recipe and has helpful tips to freshen up any dessert. "I've been baking raisin oatmeal cookies since I was 9 years old and can still remember the delicious smell and taste from my childhood years. That's why I feel honored to put my own unique spin on this timeless and personally treasured classic."

Using Lee's shortcuts and savory secrets, even the busiest person can deliver marvelous meals, scrumptious snacks and decadent desserts in minutes. Some helpful tips from Lee on making your dessert memorable include:

• Focus on desserts that are big on flavor and low on labor and make sure they go from baking sheet to plate in mere minutes, giving you time to linger with those you love.

• Incorporating raisins and dried fruit into desserts is a great way to get your children to consume some of their daily required helpings of fruit.

• Consider measuring out dry ingredients before preparing desserts. Ingredients such as flour, sugar and nuts can be measured and placed in their own separate sandwich bags beforehand, and when you are ready to start cooking all you'll have to do is simply pour them into a bowl and cook. This is a great way to include kids in the kitchen, too.

• Desserts can be decorative. Place them center stage as an eye-catching edible centerpiece. One idea is to place your raisin oatmeal cookie bars around the rim of a large colorful plate. Place scoops of your guests' favorite ice creams, frozen yogurts and other toppings in the center of the dish, allowing them to create their own scrumptious version of this dessert.

"I remember growing up and baking with my grandmother, who always had Sun-Maid raisins for any occasion from snacking to baking. I do the same today with my nieces and nephews," said Lee. "They love Sun-Maid raisins and I love that they help to make many of my semi-homemade dishes even more delicious."

Try these tempting Spice Raisin Oatmeal Cookie Bars with your family after a fun semi-homemade meal of your own.

Sun-Maid Spice Raisin

Oatmeal Cookie Bars

You Will Need:

9x13" baking pan

Cooking spray, butter-flavored

Large mixing bowl

Electric mixer


2 large eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 box (18.25 oz.) spice cake mix

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup oats

1 cup Sun-Maid Natural Raisins

1/2 cup pecan pieces (optional)

2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup decorative or coarse sugar (optional)


1. PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees. Spray baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.

2. COMBINE eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat on low, until combined.

3. ADD spice cake mix and brown sugar. Beat on low until dough comes together. (Dough will be dense.)

4. STIR in oats, raisins and pecans separately.

5. SPREAD dough into prepared pan.

6. BAKE for 20-25 minutes.

7. REMOVE from oven and let cool. Cut into bars to serve.

Optional: Sprinkle desired amount of coarse or decorative sugar over dough mixture for added decoration before baking.

Yield: 24 bars

Oatmeal cookie bars are an easy, healthy and delicious snack.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bake Up Some Cookies For Family Fun

There's lots of reasons parents are baking with their kids these days. The delicious result is of course on the list. But more importantly, baking with children is a great way to spend time with them and to teach them things at the same time you're all having fun.

Baking cookies with any or all of your children is a naturally fun activity. Cookies are portable, sweet and fun to make. They can be made in stages if time is tight-prepare the dough in the evening and bake them the next morning. Older children can read the recipe and direct adults on what steps to take. Small children can roll the dough into balls and flatten it with a fork, similar to making peanut butter cookies. There's enough fun to go around for everyone.

What makes your cookies even better is to add corn starch to the dough. In fact, many recipes for baked goods from the early 20th century used corn starch in conjunction with flour. Bakers found very early on that corn starch gave biscuits, muffins, cakes, shortcakes, pie crusts and most notably cookies a finer texture and more tender crumb when compared to recipes using flour alone. Recipe books produced then by the experts at Argo and Kingsford's Corn Starch bear this out. In fact, Argo, established in 1892, has offered their customers cookie recipes since its very early years.

Here's a recipe for Lemon Shortbread Cookies that's simple and delicious and should make for a batch of family fun.

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

11/3 cups Argo or Kingsford's Corn Starch

2 cups butter or margarine

2/3 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

Makes six dozen

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, beat butter until softened. Add powdered sugar, beat until well combined. Add lemon peel and vanilla; beat well. In a medium bowl, stir together flour and corn starch; add to mixture and beat well.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls (kids will love this). Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Press tines of a fork atop each ball to make subtle design. Bake about 15 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chicken Stock

The basis of a good soup is usually a good stock. Once you know how to make a good stock, you can use it for an almost endless variety of soups. This is a recipe I use for chicken stock that's easy to make, and tastes delicious. I usually make extra, and freeze what I don't use.

1 Whole Chicken, about 3 pounds

8 cups water

2 carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces

2 stalks of celery, cut into 2 inch pieces

1 medium onion, cut into large chunks

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2-3 sprigs of parsley

1-2 sprigs of sage

2 sprigs of rosemary

2 sprigs of thyme (please, no Simon and Garfunkel jokes)

2 tsp. salt

Cut the chicken up into pieces.

Put the chicken, and the rest of the ingredients into a large kettle, and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer for 3 hours.

Remove the chicken, and place in a bowl to cool.

Pour the stock through a colander lined with cheesecloth, and chill.

When the chicken has cooled enough to handle, remove the skin and the bones, and freeze or refrigerate the chicken for another use.

Skim the fat off of the stock, and refrigerate, freeze, or use immediately.

Yield: About 6 cups of stock, about 4 cups of chicken.

Don't feel constrained by the ingredients and amounts listed in this recipe. You can use other herbs for a different flavor. You could add ginger peels and lemongrass for an Asian flavor. Just let your imagination run wild.

You don't need to use a whole chicken either. You can buy the bone-in chicken breasts, and remove the bones before cooking. Then just put the bones in a plastic bag, and put them into the freezer. Then when you're ready to make the stock, just take the bones out and use them in the stock.

Once you've learned to make this chicken stock, you can use it as a basis for many different soups... chicken noodle soup, cream of chicken soup, peanut butter soup... again, just let your imagination run wild with it, and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Burger Tips for Barbecue Success

Summer and fall - and the long weekends in-between - are ideal times to fire up the grill and bring the family together for some outdoor fun.

Burgers, the quintessential barbecue fare, are among America's all-time favorite foods. For variety, top them with unconventional fixings, such as avocado slices, arugula, salsa and fresh basil.

For the best taste and optimum freshness, connoisseurs recommend organic ground beef.

"USDA-certified organic ground beef is made from animals that have not been injected with synthetic hormones or antibiotics, and that eat food free of animal byproducts and grown without pesticides," said Michael Levine, president of Organic Prairie Family of Farms, one of the nation's leading cooperatives of organic farmers and providers of organic meat.

Here are some burger-making tips from Organic Prairie.

* For best flavor, use 85 percent lean ground beef. If you choose leaner meat, add a splash of tomato juice or Worcestershire sauce to increase flavor and moisture.

* Finely mince any garlic, onions or other vegetables that will be mixed into the meat. Larger chunks will make the burger fall apart on the grill.

* Wet clean hands prior to making the patties. The patties should be formed loosely, not packed or pressed, and should be about one-half-inch thick and slightly wider than the bun.

Try this Mediterranean-inspired burger recipe at your next family barbecue.


(Makes 6 servings)

1 1/2 pounds Organic Prairie ground beef (thawed)

1 1/2 medium green onion (chopped)

1 cup fresh spinach (chopped)

1/4 cup tomato (chopped)

1/4 cup organic feta cheese

1/4 teaspoon dried dill

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper (ground)

In a large glass bowl, mix all ingredients. Cover and chill for 1 hour to allow flavors to mingle.

Form into 6 patties. Cook over medium-high heat for 6 minutes on each side for medium doneness. Serve over seasonal greens. - NU

Monday, December 19, 2011

3 Great Coconut Shrimp Recipes

3 Great Coconut Shrimp Recipes

If you love coconut shrimp, here are three different, but very good coconut shrimp recipes to try.

Coconut Beer Batter Fried Shrimp with Pineapple Salsa

2 eggs
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup beer
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
coconut oil
3 cups grated coconut

Seasoning mix:

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2-1/4 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1-1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1-1/4 teaspoons garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Thoroughly combine the ingredients for the seasoning mix in a small bowl and set aside.

Mix 1-1/4 cups of the flour, 2 teaspoons of the seasoning mix, baking powder, eggs, and beer together in a bowl, breaking up all lumps until it is smooth.

Combine the remaining flour with 1-1/2 teaspoons of the seasoning mix and set aside. Place the coconut in a separate bowl.

Sprinkle both sides of the shrimps with the remaining seasoning mix. Then hold each shrimp by the tail, dredge in the flour mixture, shake off excess, dip in batter and allow excess to drip off. Coat each shrimp with the coconut and place on a baking sheet.

Heat deep fryer to 350°F. Drop each shrimp into the hot oil and cook until golden brown, approximately 1/2 to 1 minute on each side. Do not crowd the fryer. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.

Lay shrimp on large lettuce leaves and serve with Pineapple Salsa dip. Garnish with lemon, orange, or lime wedges.

Pineapple Salsa

1 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
1/3 cup chopped red onion, 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup pineapple preserves (or apricot-pineapple preserves)
1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded fresh jalapeno chili
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine ingredients and gently toss.

Coconut Shrimp Kabobs with Island Coconut Salsa

1 lb. shell-on shrimp, uncooked
1/3 cup coconut milk, canned and sweetened
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon red chili peppers, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
12 to 18 fresh pineapple chunks

Island Coconut Salsa

1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup chopped green onion
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 to 2 teaspoons minced garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil or macadamia nut oil

Peel and devein shrimp retaining tails; set aside. Combine coconut milk, lime juice, garlic, red peppers, cumin, coriander and pepper; pour over shrimp. Marinate no more than 1 hour. Thread shrimp and pineapple chunks on skewers. Broil or grill, 3 minutes per side, or until shrimp are done. Arrange coconut shrimp on large lettuce leaves. Serve with Island Coconut Salsa on the side.

Caribbean Shrimp Run Down

1 lb shell-on shrimp, uncooked
3 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
3 cups coconut milk
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
Finely chopped hot pepper to taste
1 lb. tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1 t. fresh chopped thyme
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel and devein shrimp retaining tails. Pour the lime juice over the shrimp and set aside. Cook the coconut milk in a heavy frying pan until it is oily. Add the onion, garlic and cook until the onion is tender. Add the hot pepper, tomatoes, salt and pepper, thyme and vinegar. Stir and cook very gently for 10 minutes.

Drain the shrimp, add the other ingredients and cook until the shrimp is tender, about 10 minutes. Serve hot over rice. Preparation time: 30 minutes.

By Dianne Ronnow © 2006 Mohave Publishing. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sweet Vidalia® Onions Are The Pick Of The Season by Maria Walls, R.D., senior nutritionist, Weight Watchers International, Inc.

If you're in the mood for something sweet, consider an onion. Vidalia® Onions are packed with flavor, yet are mild and sweet enough to eat like fruit.

A good source of vitamin C, fat-free, cholesterol-free and sodium-free-no matter how you slice this onion, it's delicious. That is why it was chosen as the Weight Watchers® Pick of the Season this spring.

Vidalia® Onion, Mushroom & Pepperjack Quesadillas

Makes 4 servings

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 large Vidalia Onion, thinly sliced

2 cups sliced fresh white mushrooms

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup frozen or drained canned corn kernels

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

4 fat-free flour tortillas, 8" diameter each

3/4 cup shredded pepperjack cheese

1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over high heat. Add the onion, mushrooms, garlic, sugar and salt; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add corn; cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are tender and onions are lightly brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to a bowl; stir in cilantro.

2. Arrange tortillas on a work surface and spread the lower half of each with 1/4 of the onion mixture (about 1/2 cup). Sprinkle each with 3 tablespoons of the cheese. Fold top half of the tortilla over filling and press lightly to seal.

3. Wipe out skillet with a paper towel and return to high heat. Add 2 quesadillas to skillet and cook, turning once, until cheese melts and tortillas are lightly browned. Repeat with the 2 remaining quesadillas.

POINTS® value per serving: 6, 289 Calories, 8g Fat, 3g Fiber.

Full-flavored VidaliaÆ Onions are sweet enough to eat like fruit.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Shrimp Cheesecake

Time after time I wondered about making this particular cheesecake; will it be good or will it be a fly by night idea? After all, who ever heard of putting shrimp into cheesecake?! Well it turned out to be a fantastic idea and you just can't believe how good it really is...
1 pounds cream cheese(get a good solid cream cheese not one of those presoftened ones)
1/2 pound sour cream
1 1/2 pounds fresh medium shrimp
1/3 cup green bell peppers chopped fine
1/3 cup red bell peppers chopped fine
1 large clove garlic minced
2 ounces butter
3 medium eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup heavy cream
6 ounces shredded New York sState sharp Cheese pepper as you like it.

Lining For Pan:
10 ounces dried unflavored bread crumbs
6 ounces melted butter

Tomato Sauce:
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 medium bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons dried italian seasoning
1 clove minced garlic
2 tablespoon olive oil
28 ounces crushed tomatoes (canned)

Cook, clean, and chop your shrimp.

Saute peppers, garlic, onions, in 2 ounces melted butter for 6-7 minutes on medium heat, add your shrimp and cook for 2 more minutes, drain well and put aside.

Beat your cream cheese so it is smooth, then add your sour cream and mix until fairly fluffy, add your eggs one at a time mixing well after each one.

On low speed gradually add the heavy cream until blended. Stir in the shrimp and vegitable mixture and sharp cheese now add the pepper.

Prepair your 10 inch x 2 inch springform pan:

In a medium mixing bowl place your bread crumbs and your melted butter, blend them together well.

Using melted butter and a pastry brush butter the sides of your springform pan.

press the buttered bread crumbs to the sides of the pan and the remainder to the bottom of the pan.

Pour the cheesecake into the pan and place in a preheated 300 degree oven for 55 minutes or until jelled( it might be slightly wiggly in the center but thats OK, but not mutch ) after 55 minutes shut OFF the oven and let it remain in there for 3 hours, then remove it and let it cool, when cool, remove it from th pan.

Prepair your tomato sauce while your cheesecake is cooling:

Saute your onions, garlic,and italian seasoning,and bay leaf in hot oil until vegitables are tender, add your tomatoes, simmer about 30 minutes uncovered on low heat or until you reach your desired consistency, remove the bay leaf from your sauce.

Serve hot over room temperature cheesecake.

About The Author

Andrew Krause is a Chef and Pastry Chef for over 30 years, at persent I own a Gourmet Bakery called The Cheese Confectioner. You can visit my site at Free Gourmet Cheesecake Recipes

NOTE: You are welcome to reprint this article online as long as it remains complete and unaltered (including the about the author info at the end). Please a send a copy of your reprint to

Friday, December 16, 2011


Since the earliest of time and even before agriculture was used by the Greeks to have better food resources, `Nuts' were a stable food and nutritional source in the diet of manhood in the dark ages. During those times, nuts were plentiful, as there were much more forests as today, and well liked for their easy storage, which enabled people to keep them for times in which food was hard to find. (Winter, rainy season, etc).

There is evidence that as far back as the second century B.C., the Romans distributed sugar almonds on special occasions such as marriages and births.

Nuts have their place in all cultures and through almost all cuisine around the world. Nuts are liked by people of all ages for their subtle taste and high fat and carbohydrate content. It is this subtle taste that Chefs like when creating new dishes and variations.


Under the category nuts, we understand anything from a seed to a legume or tuber. The peanut, as an example, is a legume, the Brazil nut and macadamia nut are seeds and almonds are the seed of a fruit similar to a peach.

Botanically nuts are single seeded fruits with a hard or leathery shell that contain a edible kernel, which is enclosed in a soft inner skin.

Generally, all nut trees grow slowly but live long. Trees of walnut, chestnut or pecan continue to produce nuts, often more than hundred years after planting.

Nut trees of any species are found all over the world. Almonds for example are found in California, Spain, Morocco, Italy and even Australia, where as the walnut can be found anywhere from North America to the Andes and Persia to Australia. Asia also has a great variety of nuts. Ginkgo nuts in China, candle nuts in Indonesia and Malaysia, coconut in throughout southern Asia, cashew nuts in India and Malaysia and the Philippines, chestnuts in China and Japan, and the water chestnut which is found in China, Japan, Korea and the East Indies.



Scientist consider the almond as a stone fruit, much like cherries, peaches and prunes.

Because most people only know the seed (stone) of this fruit, it is generally accepted as a nut.

Almond on the tree, look like small green peaches. When ripe the shell will open and reveal the nut in its shell.

There are various varieties of almonds.

The bitter almond is in fact the kernel of the apricot, which was found growing wild in China as far back as the late Tang Dynasty (AD 619-907).

This same apricot was taken to Europe and became the apricot fruit, which is now enjoyed all over the world. The bitter almond kernel is toxic in its raw state and must be boiled quickly and poached in a oven before being further used. It is primarily used in Chinese desserts like the almond bean curd.

The sweet almond is generally confined for fresh consumption. In 1986, California alone produced 70,000 tons of almonds, which is half of the world's production. The almond has been cultivated around the Mediterranean since ancient times and can still be found wild in Algeria and around the black sea. Sweet almonds can be bought whole, shelled, cut in 1/2 with skin, without skin, flaked, blanched, slivered ground roasted or salted. they are used for snacks, marzipan, confectionery, and desserts as well as for the production of liqueur essence, oil and cosmetic products.


The bunya bunya tree is a member of the pine family and grows almost everywhere in Australia. Originally the trees originated in the area of Brisbane and Rockhampton in Queensland Australia. Only the female trees are producing a 2cm x 2.5cm nut in the pinecone.

In the old days, the bunya bunya pine nuts were stable food for the aborigines and also used in ceremonials. These days, the nuts gain in popularity through the trend of native food in Australia (bush food) in recent years.

The nut is rich is carbohydrate, similar to the chestnut, and therefore used more like a potato than a nut. the bunya bunya nuts can be eaten raw but are usually boiled for easy removing of the skin. Shelled nuts are then butter fried and flavored with pepper or sugar, or added to stews and soups.


The red bopple nuts are a relative of the macadamia nut, and native to the tropical rain forest of the East Coast of Australia.

The nut is about the same size as a hazelnut and has a thick (0.5cm 0 1cm), woody husk with a bright red outer skin, which only appears if the nut is fully ripe.

In contrary to most other nuts, the red bopple nut is very low on fat, but very high in calcium and potassium. the low fat content make this nut very easy digestible. The nuts are eaten raw or toasted.


"He who plants a coconut tree", the saying goes, "plants food and drink, vessels and clothing, a habitation for himself and a heritage for his children". Indeed every part of the coconut is used, but only the coconut milk and the coconut meat are foods. The shell is used as charcoal, the husk is used to make ropes, clothing and brushes, and the trunk of the tree and leaves are used for roofs of houses and building material respectively.

The fruit of the palm `cocos nucifera' has an edible kernel and therefore qualifies as a nut. The palm tree is native to the Philippines, Malaysia, Brazil and Indonesia, and can produce 50 - 100 nuts a year, over a life span of 70 years. Coconut palms grow best close to the seaside but have been proven to withstand high altitude, although the production rate is diminishing as further away from the sea the tree grows.

The large thick green pod encloses a brown fibrous husk around a brown shell , which contains a layer of soft white flesh and the clear water in the center. Sub-species found only on one island of the Seychelles, in the Indian Ocean, produces a nut often weighing more than 20 kg, which needs 10 years to ripen.

Coconuts are the worlds most commercially used nuts. Especially the meat, or copra, as it is called after sun drying, is vital for the export industries, in coconut growing countries. The coconut is a important food source especially in South East Asia, India, Brazil and the South Pacific Islands.

The copra can be brought shredded or desiccated and is used in confectioneries, ice creams and to coat chicken or fish for frying. However much of it is pressed for its oil also called coconut butter as it is white and fatty at room temperature. Not only is it used for cooking and to make margarine, but it also goes into soaps, detergents, shampoos, face cream, perfumes and candles.

It is also a major ingredient in glycerin, synthetic rubber, safety glass and hydraulic brake fluid. Coconut juice or milk is the natural juice of the nut, but not the water inside the coconut. It is won by shredding the raw coconut meat, then adding water and straining the mixture through a cotton cloth. The coconut milk has then the consistency and color of skim milk and is available canned or frozen.


The candle nut gets her name, from when threaded tightly on the midrib of a palm leaf it has been used a primitive candle. More recently, the nuts were grounded to a paste, mixed with copra (grated coconut meat) and ten formed into a candle.

Candlenuts are the seed of the candle berry tree native to Indonesia and Malaysia but widely spread throughout south East Asia, the South Pacific and Sri Lanka.

The nut has a very high content on fat and is valued for the extracted oil for lighting as well as cooking. The nut is colored gray to black, about 5cm in diameter, with a thin, papery husk containing one or two nuts.

Candlenut oil for lighting purposes is extracted by roasting the nuts when they are only half ripe as oil for cooking is extracted by roasting the nuts when they are fully ripe. For human consumption, the nuts have to be roasted as raw once have been causing sicknesses.

Ripe candle nuts are roasted, then pounded into a meal and mixed with salt, chilies or shrimp paste for usage in curries or as a spicy condiment to curries. Traditionally, the Javanese have roasted the nuts for eating in the whole.


The palmyra palm native to most South East Asian Countries produces a hard, shiny nut, from which a sweetish sap or gel is extracted. While this sap is used in the Indonesian cuisine for soups and desserts, it is on other well known product that is begin produced out of the palmyra palm - The Palm Sugar (gula melacca).

There are not reliable data available on the nutritional value of the palm nut, but it is widely known that the fat is saturated.


Native to Queensland and New South Wales in Australia, the macadamia nut takes its name from Dr John McAdam, a scientist and early promoter of the cultivation Australia.

The macadamia trees are evergreen and reach a height of up to 20 meters. The edible seed of the silk oat tree has a very hard, light brown shell, 2 - 3cm in diameter.

In 1888, macadamia trees have been planted in Hawaii where through careful cloning and hybridization, it became an important commercial product.

Today, macadamia nuts are also cultivated in South Africa, Zimbabwe, California and parts of South and Central America.

It is very difficult to crack the macadamia nut as it's shell is very hard and so tight to the kernel that when cracked the nut is smashed. In Hawaii, American scientist developed a way of separating the kernel from the shell by shrinking them in drying bins. They then developed the first commercial cracker. It was through these two developments that the macadamia nut could be formed to the commercial importance it has today.

This is also the reason why macadamia nuts are only available already de-shelled. Macadamia nuts also are valued for their oil and the macadamia nut butter.

They are available roasted and salted. When buying macadamia nuts, give care that they are packed in a air tight or vacuum bags, as they become easily rancid once opened.

Macadamia nuts are used for confectioneries or as snacks, but also gain in popularity in the kitchen as they have a very mild and subtle taste and add texture to salads, and hot dishes. It's oil makes excellent vinaigrette and cold sauces.


The name refers to a nut like tuber of a aquatic plant called Trapa. The plants are common to several parts of the world, but are mainly used in Japan, China and Thailand where it is also a sought after ingredient in it's cuisines.

The trapa plant roots in ponds and lakes and sends, its' leaves to the surface, similar to a water lily. The water chestnut grows on the roots underneath the water surface. Water chestnuts are flat and round with a diameter of 5 - 7cm. They have a soft black skin and white flesh similar to the flesh of a coconut. Once peeled, they can be eaten raw, or dried and are a well liked ingredient because its crunchy texture, and sweet subtle taste. Water chestnuts are also boiled and made into flour, which is used for thickening of sauces and dishes, much like cornstarch.


Chestnuts are thought to have originated in Southern Europe and Persia even though they are also found in China, Japan and Northern America.

The nuts of the chestnut tree have a brown shiny color and leathery shell. they can be eaten raw, but mostly are consume boiled, baked or roasted or as a chestnut puree sweetened or unsweetened. They are also sold in syrup as marron glaces.

Chestnuts are the only nuts, which are treated like a vegetable because they contain more starch (30%) and less fat 3%.

Chestnuts are also made into a flour high on fiber and starch.


Originating in the West Indies and native to the north of Brazil, Portuguese explorers introduced the nut to India and Malaysia as well as parts of Africa.

The hard-shelled nut grows inside the cashew apple. When mature the cashew nut appears at the end of the red or yellow apple. The cashew tree is a member of the poison ivy family and farmers must take great precautions when extracting the nuts. The hard shell contains an oil, which irritates the skin, so the nuts are heated to extract the kernel. The smoke and steam, which occurs however may still be harmful to skin and eyes. When heated the cashew nuts are harmless and may be extracted.


The ginkgo is the prehistoric maidenhair tree, which survives as a wild tree only in China.

The fruit looks like a tiny plum but has a foul and bitter shell. the Chinese wait for the smelly hull to full off, then paint the nuts and use them for festive decorations, before they crack them open to eat the nut. In Japan and Korea, ginkgo nuts are skewered and then grilled, which turns the nuts color from yellow to green. In China, the ginkgo nut is a popular ingredient to vegetarian dishes. The nuts can be obtained fresh or canned.


The nut of the hazel bush is native to Europe and North America and was mentioned in writings as far back as 2838 B.C., and was credited of currying many human ills as well as being considered excellent for Boldness and use as a hair tonic. Some say that the name filbert comes from Saint Philibert, a French abbot whose feast day on 22 August coincides with the ripening of the first nuts in the Northern hemisphere.

Hazelnuts have a very hard shell, which has to be cracked by a nutcracker before getting to the kernel. Hazelnuts are available, raw, blanched, or toasted, chopped, ground, cooking as well as hazelnut liquor.


The peanut is not a true nut. It is the seed of a leguminous plant with a soft, brownish colored brittle shell and belong to the Botanical family of beans and peas. But they are usually considered along with the nuts because of they're physical characteristics and nutritional value. The nuts grow on the long roots of the plant and below the ground. The peanut is native to Brazil and has been found there ever since the first recording in 950 B.C..

Today, peanuts are cultivated throughout the tropics all over the world (India, China, West Africa, Australia and the USA are the largest peanut growing countries). Peanuts produce excellent oil, which is used for salads and cold dishes as well as for frying. Peanuts also produce peanut butter, margarine, and also used in canning of sardines. Peanuts are available whole, de-shelled and de-skinned and raw or toasted. Peanuts are used in all different varieties in everything from salads to main courses and desserts.


These are the edible seed of the pine tree and grow in the cone. Pine trees are found in the Southern USA, Mexico and around the Mediterranean sea. It is very difficult to establish a pinenut industry as the trees are growing very slow and don't carry a lot of fruits until they're 75 years old.

Pine nuts are mostly obtained raw and then toasted, fried or grilled. Pine nut oil is used for the cosmetic industry. Pine nut flour is used in confectionery.


The pistachio nut is a small green kernel, which grows on the pistachio tree originating in Syria, Palestine and Persia.

The natural color of the shell is grayish white, but some times the nuts are dyed red to cover up some of the staining.

The pistachio nut is now cultivated in India, Europe, North Africa, Mexico, the USA and the Far East. Pistachios are usually sold in their shell or shelled and blanched.

The greenish seed is used as flavoring in cooking, candies and ice cream.


The walnut is related to the hickory and pecan tree and grows anywhere from North America to the Andes and Europe to China. English walnuts, butternuts and hickory nuts are all walnuts, botanical speaking. All those walnuts have different shells and kernels but the English walnut with it's rough, rippled shell and yellow brown kernel is the most popular and popularly referred to as `The Walnut'.

Walnuts are bought in the shell or de-shelled and are sought after for their oil, which is used for cooking as well as for salads and dressing.


Macadamia Nuts )
Bunya Bunya Pine Nuts ) Australia
Red Bobble Nut )

Candle Nut ) Malaysia
Palm Nut ) Philippines, Brazil

Coconut ) Indonesia,China
Water Chestnut )

Brazil Nuts ) South America

Beech Nuts ) USA
Pecan Nuts ) North America


Nuts are rich in fat (40-60%) and dietary fiber (5-15%) with moderate amount of protein (2-25%) and small amounts of starch (up to 10%). As mentioned above chestnuts are an exemption to this general rule.

The fats in nuts are mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated and contain no cholesterol as nuts are harvested from plants. Only the coconut and palm nut contain saturated fats.

Significant amounts of minerals can be found in nuts, including zinc, calcium, iron, phosphorus and magnesium.

They also contain some provitamins and vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin E & C.

Nuts contain very little natural sodium and have a high amount of potassium, which in this constellation is recommended for the control of blood pressure.

Unfortunately nuts are often sold salted as snacks, which upsets this natural balance, and by a over consummation of salted nuts people take in a lot of fat and salt.

Nuts are also a great source of energy and often used in diets for athletes.

Used in moderate amounts, nuts in unsalted forms are nutritionally valuable food.


One does not know where to start where to compile information about the usage of nuts and nut related product in today's hospitality. In the kitchens, there is no limit on the amount of dishes and creations a Chef can use nuts or nut products for. From appetizers to salads, soups and desserts, with cheese, fish, pasta, meats and vegetables, nuts are very versatile and do not have a over powering flavor, and its subtle taste and crunchy texture adopt early to almost all given products as a supplement.

Nut oils are also widely used for dressings, frying and flavoring of hot and cold dishes. Nut liqueurs can be a welcome supplement to savory sauces as well as pastry sauces and creams, marzipan and other nut pastes are often used to produced chocolates and confectionery items. In the Indian cuisine, a cashew nut paste is often used for the thickening of curries and sauces. Through the wide spread of different nuts around the world, nuts are used in almost all cuisines known and its nutritional value make it an asset to so many diets since the ancient days.

In the beverage outlets, nuts are used in form of lacquers (Hazelnut, Almond) and liquid (coconut Milk), and as snacks served with drinks (Salted Nuts)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Make it Meatless

The latest food guide at is still based on grain foods, but now it recommends from nine to thirteen servings of fruits and veggies a day along with more servings of legumes -; dried beans and peas, lentils and the like. It's not an impossible task, not if you combine several items in a single dish.

For dinner, it's easy to make a nutritious casserole with a grain and assorted vegetables. With the exception of soy foods, though, the protein of plant foods is incomplete. So, for good nutritional balance, many casseroles also include an animal protein food, such as eggs. In addition to providing the highest quality protein next to mother's milk, eggs are nutrient-dense -; their nutrient total is high compared to their calorie count.

In Rice, Bean & Veggie Custard Bake, eggs bind together a short list of have-on-hand ingredients. You can layer the minimal-prep casserole in almost no time one evening, refrigerate it and pop it into the oven when you arrive home the next day. For the rice base, cook the instant variety or make good use of what's left over from take-out. With handy bottled salsa -; any hotness level your family prefers -; and cans of beans and corn, all you need to do from scratch is chop some colorful peppers and simply beat the eggs with shredded cheese. To round out a no-fuss meal, add only a tossed green salad to the flavorful, hearty entree.

Rice, Bean & Veggie Custard Bake

6 servings

Cooking spray

6 eggs

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese

3 cups cooked rice (1 cup raw)

1 jar (16 oz.) thick and chunky red salsa, divided

1 can (15 oz.) red kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup whole kernel corn (about 3 oz.)

1 cup chopped green, yellow and/or sweet red pepper (about 5 oz. or 1 medium)

Evenly coat 11 x 7 x 2-inch baking pan with spray. Set aside. In medium bowl, beat together eggs and cheese. Stir in rice. Pour into prepared pan. Smooth with back of spoon or gently shake pan to spread rice mixture evenly in pan. Gently spread 1 cup of the salsa over rice mixture. In medium bowl, stir together beans, corn and pepper. Evenly spoon bean mixture over salsa. Drizzle remaining 1 cup salsa over bean mixture.

Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven until custard is puffed and begins to pull away from sides of pan and knife inserted near center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes.

Nutritional information per serving of 1/6 recipe using kidney beans and red pepper: 334 calories, 10 gm total fat, 226 mg cholesterol, 815 mg sodium, 346 mg potassium, 42 gm carbohydrate, 19 gm protein and 10% or more of the RDI for vitamins A, B12 and C, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, dietary fiber.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Homemade Beef Jerky

Even though our forefathers didn't know it, lean fresh meat jerky is low in cholesterol and fat and very high in protein, making jerky a nutritious and wholesome snack. Jerky is an excellent energy food when camping, biking, skiing, or anytime you want a light snack.

3 lbs. meat (not ground meat)
2/3 cups Worcestershire Sauce
2/3 cups Soy Sauce
1 tsp. Black Pepper
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 tsp. Onion Powder
1 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. smoke flavoring
2 tsp. Tabasco Sauce

Mix all marinade ingredients together in a large (gallon size) plastic zipper bag. Add sliced meat (cut about ¼ inch) and refrigerate, mixing and turning about every hour. You should marinade it over night.

When you're ready to begin drying, place a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven. Drain meat in a colander and pat dry with a paper towel (the drier the meat now, the better). Set oven at about 150 degrees and place the meat strips on the ovenracks. Leave the oven door open to allow the moisture to escape.

The drying time may vary due to ovens and the size of the meat. The meat should be firm and dry, and not spongy at all. But if the jerky is so dry that it snaps in two easily, than it's over dried.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Healthy Summer Snacking

Your air conditioner isn't the only thing that uses energy in the hot weather-your kids do, too.

Warm months usually means children are playing outside more. All that running, jumping and swimming uses up plenty of energy, so it's important to keep your kids well-fueled. Here's a recipe that can do just that. It's a fun, portable snack mix made with California raisins, so it has a sweet taste and supplies lots of energy.

Sunshine Snack Mix


2 cups California raisins

2 cups low-fat granola cereal

1 cup candy-coated chocolate pieces

1/2 cup sunflower kernels


In large bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well.

Yields: 51/2 cups

Serves: 11

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Fun Fuel

The potassium in California raisins helps lower blood pressure, which has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease. In addition to adding fiber to the diet, raisins rank among the top antioxidant foods and even contain phytochemicals that contribute to oral health.

The Taste Of Health

Of course, nutrition facts probably don't matter much to your children. Kids tend to focus on taste, and California raisins hold up well there, too. They make sweet, plump treats, which means they can be an easy way to help your children maintain a healthful diet-and to keep their energy levels up throughout the day.

Cool Ideas

Looking for more summertime snack ideas? The California Raisin Marketing Board offers a host of tasty, easy-to-make recipes that require little to no time spent in the kitchen, giving you more time to spend with your kids. Try making Raisin Peanut Butter Balls for a quick snack or Spiced Apple Pie Party Mix for a good dose of dried fruits, nuts, cinnamon and nutmeg. Raisin Nachos with Cinnamon Dipping Sauce is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, and try Raisin Delights for bite-size balls of cream cheese and sunflower seeds rolled in coconut. Or just snack on California raisins straight from the box.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Put Comfort on Your Picnic Menu

Warm weather is the time for outdoor fun and good food to satisfy appetites sharpened by open-air activities. Whether you're planning a barbecue, patio party or picnic, potato salad is a classic comfort food that can take the edge off hunger pangs brought on by fresh air and exercise.

For toting to away-from-home locales -- perhaps a neighborhood park or an outlying band-shell or forest preserve -- a cold potato salad is best. Prepare the ingredients several hours or the night before, combine or layer them in a covered container and let the finished salad chill in the fridge until you're ready to roll. Transport the salad in your cooler with plenty of ice or commercial coolant. For backyard, deck or patio get-togethers, though, you can add a unique twist by serving your salad hot. Potato salad takes on a whole new personality when it's heated in the oven just before serving.

Hot or Cold Layered Potato Salad is just as hearty when served hot or cold and is simple to compose. Just layer a rainbow of fresh veggies with sunny hard-cooked eggs and pour on your choice of bottled salad dressing, even a reduced-fat variety, if you like. What could be more convenient?

Hot or Cold Layered Potato Salad

4 servings

4 hard-cooked eggs*, sliced

4 medium red potatoes, cooked, peeled and thinly sliced

2 cups shredded carrots (about 8 oz.)

1 cup chopped zucchini (about 3 small)

1 cup chopped tomato (about 1 large)

1/3 cup bottled creamy salad dressing (any variety)

Parsley sprigs, optional

Reserve a few center egg slices for garnish. In 10 x 6 x 1 1/2-inch baking dish or casserole (ovenproof for heated version), evenly layer 1/3 of the potatoes, the carrots, another 1/3 of the potatoes, the zucchini, the remaining 1/3 of the potatoes, the unreserved egg slices and the tomatoes. Evenly drizzle with dressing.

To serve cold: cover and chill to blend flavors, several hours or overnight.

To serve hot: bake, covered, in preheated 350 degree F oven until heated through, about 20 minutes.

Garnish with reserved egg slices and parsley, if desired. For each serving, serve a portion of all layers.

*To hard-cook, place eggs in single layer in saucepan. Add enough tap water to come at least 1 inch above eggs. Cover and quickly bring just to boiling. Turn off the heat. If necessary, remove pan from the burner to prevent further boiling. Let eggs stand, covered, in the hot water about 15 minutes for Large eggs. (12 minutes for Medium, 18 for Extra Large.) Immediately run cold water over eggs or put them in ice water until completely cooled.

To remove shell, crackle it by tapping gently all over. Roll egg between hands to loosen shell. Peel, starting at large end. Hold egg under running cold water or dip in bowl of water to help ease off shell.

Nutrition information per serving of 1/4 recipe using bottled creamy garlic salad dressing: 288 calories, 12 gm total fat, 226 mg cholesterol, 318 mg sodium, 836 mg potassium, 36 gm carbohydrate, 10 gm protein and 10% or more of the RDI for vitamins A and C, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, iron, phosphorus.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lobster Bisque Soup Recipe

The lobster bisque is very rich, so a small serving (about two-thirds cup per person) is plenty. At the restaurant, this is baked in individual crocks, with puff pastry on top.

2 lb boiled lobsters, medium sized
2 1/2 c fish or chicken stock
1 onion, sliced
4 celery stalks, with leaves
2 cloves, whole
1 bay leaf
1/4 c soft butter
1/4 c flour
3 c milk; heated
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 c cream; hot but not boiling
2 tablespoons sherry
1/8 teaspoon parsley; minced
1/8 teaspoon paprika

Remove the meat from boiled lobsters. Dice and reserve the body meat and mince the tail and claw meat. Crush the shells and add them to the stock along with the onion, celery, cloves and bay leaf. Simmer these ingredients for about 30 minutes and strain the stock.

Combine the flour and soft butter in a small saucepan and cook for about 5 minutes, but do not let flour begin to color. Gradually pour the heated milk into this mixture. Whisk to combine thoroughly then add nutmeg. If there is coral roe, force it through a fine sieve into the mixture. Stir in the strained stock.

When the soup is smooth and boiling, add the lobster and simmer the bisque, adding the sherry and cover for 5 min. turning off the heat after that. Stir in the cream and season to taste. Serve at once with minced parsley and paprika, if desired.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fair Dinkum (Honest)! An Aussie Barby In Singapore

Put another shrimp on the barby. That's something you may expect to hear in Australia, but now visitors to Singapore will be hearing it.

The reason? The Singapore Marriott Hotel has unveiled the new Pool Grill restaurant-a chic and stylish new eatery serving fresh, contemporary cuisine prepared by Chef Harry Callinan, the hotel's newest import from Hunter Valley in New South Wales, Australia.

Chef Harry's epicurean passion is evident in the enthusiastic manner in which he talks about his gourmet pursuits and how he magically translates that into wholesome creations in the kitchen.

The Pool Grill menus are styled to mirror the look and feel of the pool terrace concept at the Singapore Marriott-that of a resort oasis in the heart of the city. The menu combines lightness with freshness and guests can look forward to an invigorating gazpacho, a succulent John Dory fillet, or a simple pasta, pizza or sandwich to enjoy amidst the relaxing setting. Must-tries include the Oriental Seafood Salad with palm hearts & lychee, Classic Bouillabaisse, Grilled Swordfish Fillet and the Baked Rock Lobster tail with melted lemon butter.

Here's one of Chef Harry's recipes:

Barbecued Snapper Parcels With Tomato, Red Onion

And Basil Butter

1 snapper fillet

1 red onion

1 tomato

Juice of 1 lemon

1 bunch fresh basil (or store-bought pesto will work)

7 Tbsp. butter

Sea salt

Black pepper

Aluminum foil

Lay one sheet of aluminum foil on the bench and rub with a little butter, place snapper fillet on top and season with salt and pepper. Slice tomato and red onion in thin slices and place on top of fish. Take remaining butter and fresh-picked basil and pound together in a mortar and pestle (pulsing in a blender will give the same result) till blended well. Add pats of the flavored butter on top of the fish and vegetables, squeeze on half a lemon. Bring sides of the foil around to make a parcel, leaving space at the top for steam to circulate. Place par-cels onto hot part of the BBQ for 5 minutes and then move to the side where it is cooler and let sit another 5 minutes to cook through. Serve straight onto plate but be careful of the steam when you open it and enjoy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Double Decker Pastry

This recipe is an experience for anyone, it’s kind of unique and very different from today’s baking, today all you need to do is go to the market and pick something off of the shelf, put it in the microwave and you have it.
Well I’m old fashion when it is something I’m going to eat and enjoy, I need to have hands on and do it the old way.

OK enough jabber let’s get on with the recipe so we can enjoy it, remember your ingredients should be room temperature or close to it.

Ingredients for dough:

5 cups unsifted flour
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baing powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
pinch of salt
½ pound butter softened
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
4 egg yolks
½ pint sour cream
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

Ingredients for filling:

2 ½ cups ground walnuts
½ cup sugar for nuts
jam or lekvar or whatever you like

Sift together 5 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 4 teaspoons baking powder, 2 teaspoons baking soda.

Add the butter, shortening, 4 egg yolks, ½ pint sour cream, 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla and of course the pinch of salt.

Combine all of these ingredients in your processor or mixer.

Divide dough into 3 parts, roll out the first piece and place it onto a 10 ½ inch x 15 ½ inch cookie sheet.

Mix together:

2 ½ cups ground walnuts
½ cup sugar for nuts
jam or lekvar or whatever you like

Spread some of this mixture onto the first layer of dough, then roll out another piece of dough and place it on top of the filling, put some more of the filling on top of the second layer of dough, now with the third piece of dough roll it out and create a lattice top on your creation.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes, cool and cut.

Now enjoy what you have made.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Recipes: Delicious Christmas Puddings

Christmas Recipes: Delicious Christmas Puddings

Pudding Recipes given here are easy to cook and absolutely delicious. Properly made Christmas puddings will be extremely tasty and make your Christmas celebrations a memorable experience. Enjoy these Puddings with your loved ones during this Christmas.

Christmas Pudding (1).

Ingredients of Christmas Pudding:-

1 lb. raisins (stoned), 1 lb. chopped apples, 1 lb. currants, 1 lb. breadcrumbs, 1/2 lb. mixed peel, chopped fine, 1 lb. shelled and ground Brazil nuts, 1/2 lb. chopped sweet almonds, 1 oz. bitter almonds (ground), 1 lb. sugar, 1/2 lb. butter, 1/2 oz. mixed spice and 6 eggs.


Wash, pick, and dry the fruit, rub the butter into the breadcrumbs, beat up the eggs, and mix all the ingredients together; if the mixture is too dry, add a little milk. Fill some greased basins with the mixture, and boil the puddings from 3 to 4 hours.

Christmas Pudding (2).


12 oz. breadcrumbs, 1/2 lb. currants, 1/2 lb. raisins, 1/2 lb. sweet almonds, 1 doz. bitter almonds, 3/4 lb. moist sugar, 3 oz. of butter, 2 oz. candied peel, 8 eggs, 1 teaspoonful of spice and 1 teacupful of apple sauce.


Rub the butter into the breadcrumbs, wash, pick, and dry the fruit, stone the raisins, chop or grind the almonds, beat up the eggs, mixing all well together, at the last stir in the apple sauce. Boil the pudding in a buttered mould for 4 hours, and serve with white sauce.

Christmas Pudding (3).


1 lb. each of raisins, currants, sultanas, chopped apples, and Brazil nut kernels; 1/2 lb. each of moist sugar, wholemeal breadcrumbs, wheatmeal, and sweet almonds and butter; 1/4 lb. of mixed peel, 1/2 oz. of mixed spice, 6 eggs, and some milk.


Wash and pick the currants and sultanas; wash and stone the raisins; chop fine the nut kernels, blanch and chop fine the almonds, and cut up fine the mixed peel. Rub the butter into the meal and breadcrumbs. First mix all the dry ingredients, then beat well the eggs and add them. Pour as much milk as is necessary to moisten the mixture sufficiently to work
it with a wooden spoon. Have ready buttered pudding basins, nearly fill them with the mixture, cover with pieces of buttered paper, tie pudding cloths over the basins, and boil for 4 hours.

Christmas Plum Pudding (1)

Ingredients of Christmas Plum Pudding:-

One cupful of finely-chopped beef suet, two cupfuls of fine bread crumbs, one heaping cupful of sugar, one cupful of seeded raisins, one cupful of well-washed currants, one cupful of chopped blanched almonds, half a cupful of citron, sliced thin, a teaspoonful of salt,
one of cloves, two of cinnamon, half a grated nutmeg and four well-beaten eggs.

Making of Christmas Plum Pudding:-

Dissolve a level teaspoonful of soda in a tablespoonful of warm water. Flour the fruit thoroughly from a pint of flour; then mix the remainder as follows: In a large bowl put the
well-beaten eggs, sugar, spices and salt in one cupful of milk. Stir in the fruit, chopped nuts, bread crumbs and suet, one after the other, until all are used, putting in the dissolved soda last and adding enough flour to make the fruit stick together, which will take all the pint. Boil or steam three to four hours. Serve with wine or any well-flavored sauce.

Christmas Plum Pudding (2)


2 cups ground suet, 2 cups bread crumbs, 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons Baking Powder, 2 cups sugar. 2 cups seeded raisins. 2 cups currants, 1 cup finely cut citron, 1 cup finely cut figs, 1 tablespoon finely cut orange peel, 1 tablespoon finely cut lemon peel, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground mace, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 cup water or prune juice and 1 cup grape or other fruit juice


Mix thoroughly all dry ingredients and add fruit; stir in water and fruit juice and mix thoroughly. Add more water if necessary to make stiff dough. Fill greased molds 2/3 full, and steam two or three hours. This pudding should be prepared and cooked a week or more before used. Before serving steam one hour and serve with hard, lemon or foamy sauce.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Delicious Way To Eat Heart Smart. Canola oil, which contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids, makes a great vinaigrette for this tasty bean salad.

You don't have to sacrifice great taste to be good to your heart. There are plenty of flavorful, nutritious foods-fresh vegetables, beans and some tasty oils-that offer a satisfyingly natural way to boost heart health.

A healthier diet doesn't require that you give up fats entirely. You just need to limit some of the "bad" fats, particularly saturated and trans fats. Trans fats, found in most commercial baked goods and fast food, raise cholesterol levels, while other kinds of fat may actually be good for your heart because they raise "good" cholesterol.

A good example is canola oil, which is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and omega-3 polyunsaturated fats. Omega-3 fats protect against heart attacks and stroke. Canola oil contains the least cholesterol-raising saturated fats of all the culinary oils-canola oil has half the saturated fat of olive oil.

Canola oil contains zero trans fats and is high in vitamin E. Its low smoke point makes it a smart choice for sautéing and its mild flavor allows the taste of other ingredients to shine through. The oil also works well in marinades, keeping food moist and juicy, and is great in vinaigrettes.


1 can green beans

1 can yellow beans

1 can black beans

1 can corn

1 white onion, sliced into rings

1 green pepper, seeded and sliced into rings

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp dried mustard

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp dried tarragon

1 tsp dried basil, crumbled

Strain and rinse green beans, yellow beans, black beans and corn. Mix in a large bowl.

To prepare vinaigrette, whisk together canola oil, vinegar, sugar, mustard, garlic, tarragon and basil. Pour onto bean mixture prior to serving. Garnish with onion and green pepper rings.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Add Tropical Flavor To Sunday Brunch

There are some mornings when savoring the warm gooey goodness of a sticky bun provides an escape from routine. What better way to give this American classic fresh new flavors than adding the tropical tones of mangos and macadamia nuts.

The world's most popular fruit, mangos' naturally sweet and lively flavors make them incredibly versatile and complement everything from breakfast to lunch. Because of their year-round availability, mangos are perfect for any occasion.

Looking for an easy yet irresistible treat for your next brunch? Try these mouth watering Mango Macadamia Caramel Rolls.

Mango Macadamia

Caramel Rolls

11/4 cups brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 cup softened butter, divided

1 large, ripe mango, peeled, pitted and chopped

1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts

1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed

Stir together brown sugar, cinnamon and allspice in a small bowl. Place 1 cup mixture in a medium saucepan with 6 tablespoons butter. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in mango and cook for a few minutes more until brown sugar is dissolved. Spread in the bottom of a 13 X 9-inch baking pan and sprinkle with nuts; set aside. Roll thawed dough into a 12 X 12-inch square on a lightly floured board and spread with remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Spread remaining brown sugar mixture over butter and press into dough. Roll up tightly and pinch seams to seal. Cut dough into 1-inch slices. Place in prepared baking dish; cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then invert onto a serving platter. Makes 12 rolls.

Make ahead tip: Cover uncooked rolls and place in the refrigerator overnight. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before baking.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Chef John Folse On How To Cook Delicious Shrimp

Famous Louisiana Chef John Folse is a man with a deep, warm voice. And when he speaks about Louisiana food, there's no doubt where his heart is.

"Eating in Louisiana is a religion; it's not just about nutrition," Chef Folse says. "It's an in-gathering; it's celebratory; it's a prayer of thanks for all we've been blessed with from the swamp."

John Folse grew up just east of the Atchafalaya Swamp and lost his mother as a young boy. His father raised six boys and two girls as a single parent. One of the things Mr. Folse felt he needed to teach his children was to be good cooks.

And their first lesson was that only the freshest foods yield their true flavors. "He really taught us to refuse anything less than great taste," Chef says.

To serve the freshest foods, you need to know what's in season. "When it's brown shrimp season, you eat brown shrimp. When it's white shrimp season, you eat white shrimp. When it's strawberry season, you eat strawberries," Chef chuckles.

Locals call brown shrimp season Bonne Crevette-translation, good shrimp! The season begins in May and runs until fall. Even during Bonne Crevette, you need to know how to select the very best quality.

Well-taught cooks only purchase whole, in-shell, raw shrimp when they're displayed on a thick bed of fresh ice-not melting-under a cover. The shrimp meats must be firm to the touch, not soft. The shells must be translucent and moist, not dull or dry.

Learning to capture the legendary taste of brown shrimp also means learning a sense of timing. "A lot of people are worried they will undercook shrimp," Chef says, "but the real crime would be to overcook it and boil out all of the flavor and texture."

Follow these tips and your shrimp are sure to yield their true Louisiana flavors.

So, celebrate Bonne Crevette with Chef Folse's Shrimp Scampi. "Try this dish. It's an easy, traditional shrimp recipe. And it's one of my favorites."

Chef explains that although scampi is a term used elsewhere to describe a species of shrimp, in America it refers to an Italian dish. This simple recipe is magnificent when served over pasta, fish or chicken.

For an excellent wine pairing, enjoy Shrimp Scampi with a glass of lovely Alice White Chardonnay.

Chef John Folse's Shrimp Scampi

11/2 pounds (20-25 count) Louisiana shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 cup flour

Salt & cracked black pepper to taste

Tabasco Pepper Sauce to taste

1/2 cup olive oil

6 cloves garlic, sliced

1/4 cup shallots, chopped

2 tbsp fresh basil

2 tbsp fresh oregano

1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup parsley, minced

1/2 cup dry white wine

In a mixing bowl, blend flour, salt and peppers. Dust shrimp lightly in seasoned flour and set aside. In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, sauté 1-2 minutes or until edges turn golden. Blend in shrimp, shallots, basil and oregano. Using a slotted spoon, turn shrimp occasionally until pink and curled. Add mushrooms and parsley, then deglaze with white wine. Serves 4.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Grilled Mushrooms And Shrimp A La Grecque. Lemony grilled mushrooms and shrimp make a quick, delicious meal.

You can pretend you're vacationing in Greece with this grilled lemon-and-garlic-flavored shrimp and mushroom dish served on warm pita bread.

Anytime you're grilling, remember that fresh mushrooms are perfect partners for all sorts of grilling favorites, including beef, seafood and vegetables. In addition to flavor, mushrooms pack a surprising amount of nutrition, contributing to our daily intake of riboflavin, niacin and selenium, with only 20 calories per serving and almost no fat.

Grilled Lemon Shrimp

And Mushrooms

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 pound large peeled and deveined shrimp

12 ounces fresh white mushrooms

2 medium-sized zucchini, sliced 1 inch thick (about 21/2 cups)

1 medium-sized red onion cut in 8 wedges

4 pitas, warmed

Preheat outdoor grill or broiler. In a large bowl, stir together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt and black pepper. Add shrimp, mushrooms, zucchini and red onion; gently toss until coated. Marinate for 10 minutes. Place vegetables and shrimp on a vegetable grilling rack or a rack in a broiler pan. Grill or broil no more than 6 inches from heat source until vegetables and shrimp are just cooked, about 8 minutes, stirring and brushing occasionally with remaining marinade. Serve on pita bread with plain yogurt and chopped cucumber, if desired.

Yield: 4 portions

Per portion: 430 calories; 28 g protein; 16 g fat; 45 g carbohydrates

Friday, December 2, 2011

Healthy Food And Lifestyle Choices Alleviate Digestive Health Problems. Nutrient-Packed And Flavorful California Dried Plums Are A Smart Snack

Healthy Food And Lifestyle Choices Alleviate Digestive Health Problems. Nutrient-Packed And Flavorful California Dried Plums Are A Smart Snack

Word Count:

Digetive problems are on the rise and affecting Americans' lifestyles. The good news is that people may not have to skip work or miss out on leisure activities because of poor digestive health.

Healthy Food And Lifestyle Choices Alleviate Digestive Health Problems. Nutrient-Packed And Flavorful California Dried Plums Are A Smart Snack And Tasty Addition To Any Meal

Article Body:
Digestive problems are on the rise and affecting Americans' lifestyles. According to the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), Americans report more than 81 million cases of chronic digestive problems each year.

The good news is that people may not have to skip work or miss out on leisure activities because of poor digestive health.

"Eating a wide variety of nutrient-rich and colorful fruits and vegetables, which are beneficial to your digestive tract, is the first step. This includes dried fruits, like California dried plums, as well as fresh berries and apples," says Leo Treyzon, M.D., from the divisions of Digestive Diseases and Clinical Nutrition at the University of California, Los Angeles. "These types of foods are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals that provide a broad array of health benefits. Other foods containing fiber, protein, calcium and vitamin D are also good choices for enhancing your digestive health."

Treyzon says California dried plums are particularly good for digestive health because they have a unique combination of nutrients, such as soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, potassium and magnesium. They are also high in plant substances called polyphenols, which are strong antioxidants that protect DNA against damage, decrease inflammation and prevent cancer.

Treyzon emphasizes that as people learn more about which types of food improve their digestive health they'll also realize the positive impact nutrition has on lifestyle and overall health. He added that good digestive health improves one's immune system and may reduce the risk for some chronic diseases, such as heart disease and some forms of cancer.

"As you make positive food choices, remember that it's important to eat adequate amounts of protein, especially vegetable protein," notes Treyzon. "I would also choose fats wisely, avoid concentrated sweets, drink plenty of fluids and engage in enjoyable physical activities for at least 30 minutes a day."

California dried plums are a convenient, healthy snack that fits into today's busy lifestyle. They also are a tasty addition to any meal. Here's a healthful and delicious recipe idea:

Chicken Sauté With Balsamic-Dried Plum Sauce

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 11/2 pounds)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup finely chopped shallots

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) coarsely chopped California pitted dried plums

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed

In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken in skillet; cook 10 minutes or until browned and centers are no longer pink, turning once. Transfer to serving platter; keep warm. Add shallots and garlic to same skillet; cook and stir 3 to 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in broth, dried plums, vinegar, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat slightly; cook until sauce is reduced to about 1 cup. Spoon over chicken.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 345 calories; 24% calories from fat; 9 g fat; 139 mg sodium; 22 g carbohydrate; 42 g protein; 99 mg cholesterol; 1 g fiber

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gearing Up For Seafood Fridays

As we enter the Lenten season, millions of people will be looking for great seafood recipes as their alternative to meat. Not knowing where to look, many will opt for basic dishes that might not satisfy their craving for a bona fide good meal. With a little creativity and help from shelf-stable seafood, the Lenten season can be filled with a variety of palate-pleasing alternatives.

"People often do not know what to cook during Lent, so they turn to 'tried-and-true' favorites such as veggie sandwiches, pastas and salads," said Culinary Expert Lena Cutler.

"Shelf-stable seafood is very affordable and easy to substitute in your favorite meat-based dishes," said Cutler.

"Canned and pouched seafood are available in many varieties, including tuna, salmon, crab, shrimp, clams and oysters," said Cutler. "You can use tuna or salmon instead of beef for burgers, tacos, stir-fry and more."

Shelf-stable seafood also has many health benefits.

"In addition to being conve-nient, shelf-stable seafood is low in fat and calories," said Registered Dietician Sharon McNerney. "Albacore tuna and salmon are major sources of protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids."

The American Heart Association's dietary guidelines recommend eating at least two servings of fish per week, because omega-3 has been proven to help reduce the chance of getting heart disease.

Here's a delightful stir-fry to get your creative cooking juices flowing:

Teriyaki Cashew Tuna


1/3 cup teriyaki sauce or stir-fry sauce

2 (6-oz.) cans drained Chicken of the Sea® Solid White Albacore Tuna in Spring Water

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

1/2 cup green onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 cup each: sliced celery and sliced red bell peppers

1 (10-oz.) package of frozen pea pods, thawed

1 (6-oz.) can sliced water chestnuts, drained

1/2 cup cashews

Hot cooked rice


In medium bowl, gently combine the sauce with Chicken of the Sea® Albacore Tuna; set aside. In a large skillet, heat oil until hot; sauté garlic. Add onion, celery, peppers, pea pods, cashews and water chestnuts; cook until celery is crisp and tender. Add tuna mixture and continue cooking until hot. Serve over hot cooked rice. Makes 4 servings.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Turn Back The Clock – Antioxidant Best Food That Slow The Aging Process

As we grow older, we often wish we could turn back the clock and have the vitality of your younger days. In this article you will learn what is the best food that slows down the aging process, but first you have to learn what happens to your body when you grow older. Free radicals pose one of the greatest threats to our health, as we grow older. Free radicals are renegade, unstable oxygen molecules that collide with other particles and tissues in our bodies. When there are too many free radicals in your body, they run wild attacking not only unhealthy but also healthy parts of the body. This causes such diseases as heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants have been found to be a successful shield against these free radicals. They alter cancer growth and act as anticarcinogens. Antioxidants are chemical substances that donate an electron to a free radical and convert it to a molecule that is harmless. Antioxidants intercept free radicals to keep them from damaging blood vessel membranes. This helps the flow of blood to the heart and brain and can against cancer causing damage. Now to the good news - the best antioxidant food is normally consumed for enjoying life. So why not get started today with a healthier eating lifestyle. There are various types of antioxidants. So it is important to balance all the following foods to reap the healthy rewards as part of your everyday diet. Two glasses of red wine a day provides a great source of antioxidant. If you don’t drink vine you need to drink 7 glasses of orange juice to get the same effect. Dark chocolate provides one of the richest sources of antioxidants. What you must not forget is that chocolate is high in fat and if you are on a diet – bee careful. Apple juice is rich on antioxidants and has some pleasant side effects. Apple juice helps prevent against heart disease, as it helps stop fat turning into cholesterol. Many people eat carrots. What they don’t know is that carrots are a valuable antioxidant. Five or more servings on a week is recommended to take the strain of the immune system. Green tea is a much healthier choice than black tea. Drinking green tea is can cut hypertension by 65% or more. You have in this article learned about some of the best antioxidant food that slows the aging process. You have no excuse not to start today. Make smart food choices while still enjoying your life and your family.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

When I Fell In Love With Caramel (And Other Things)

I am one of those people for whom decision making and life direction has always come a little slower. One of the biggest decisions that took me a while to figure out was what I wanted to be "when I grew up." Keep in mind that I had been grown up for quite some time when I finally figured out how I wanted to spend my days and hence my life. I was nearing my thirties when I finally decided to go to culinary school with the hopes of becoming a pastry chef. So I entered a two year culinary program having no idea that I'd learn to love caramel and many other things as well. In some ways, deciding to go to culinary school was a very random decision for me and in other ways it made total sense based on what I wanted to do. I have always loved food and I helped my mother in the kitchen from the time I was able to be of any help (and perhaps long before then). My jobs in the kitchen were usually something glamorous like washing the potatoes or stirring the soup. But I loved it. I loved every moment that I got to be in the kitchen helping my mother prepare good meals that people would enjoy. I especially loved helping my mom prepare desserts for our family and guests after we finished with dinner. I loved helping her make her now-famous caramel apple pies especially. For me, culinary school was a time when I fell in love with foods like caramel, fruits and certain vegetables even more than I had before. I guess I just became more and more fascinated by everything that could be done with food the more I worked with food. I did well throughout the program, but I began to excel around the time that we began focusing on desserts and pastries. I'm not sure what it is about preparing desserts for people that excites me, but it does. My dream quickly became to be the head dessert and pastry chef for an upscale restaurant in my town. By the time the second year of culinary school began, I focused all of my efforts on specialty desserts and pastries. I loved the freedom my professors gave me to work independently on recipes of my own. I was busy coming up with an even better caramel glazed pastry and with perfecting my late mother's famous caramel apple pie. I loved it. I truly learned to love caramel and other foods in culinary school. If you have any amount of fascination with good food like I did, then I suggest you head off to culinary school as soon as possible.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Whisky UDV

One of the Scotch whisky industry's greatest secrets sits at the foot of the Ochil Hills. You may notice some warehouses close to the road as you drive past, but it's more likely that your eyes will be drawn to Dumyat's crags or the phallic thrust of the Wallace Monument on the near horizon. UDV's Blackgrange site does not draw attention to itself, there's nothing to indicate that there's close to 3 million casks of whisky quietly maturing in 49 blocks of warehouses. The scale is awesome. You are dwarfed by the massive black warehouses, your imagination struggles to picture what a billion bottles of whisky looks like. Whisky is big, we know that but you onfcr realise how big when you drive down the avenues of Blackgrange. In the disgorging plant they are emptying up to 10,000 casks a week, at times the components for five different blends may be going out the same day. Now imagine being in charge not just of all this maturing stock, but also in charge of the new make coming out of UDV's 27 malt and 2 grain distilleries. That's Turnbdi Hutton's job. If you want to understand how a major blend is put together, ask Turnbull (UDV's operations director) and UDV's inventory and supply director, Christine Wright. For Turnbull, putting together a blend doesn't start with assembling components in the lab or the disgorging hall, it begins when he gets the sales projections from UDV's sales force. Every salesman expects brand to grow, he's staking his career prospects on it. Thankfully, the production side have seen it before and temper their enthusiasm, 'fuelled by many years of cynicism' as Turnbull puts it. No wonder he has a reputation for irascibility. His job is to balance the sales forecasts, set production levels to supply the fillings fa all the blends and work out the demand in terms of stock requirements. The whisky trade is always flying blind to a certain extent. The whisky you make today can't be used until it's three years old, you may be storing some to be used in 18 to 25 years time, as blends contain whiskies from a large range of ages. The aim is to get as close to a balance between supply and demand as possible. Get it too short and you have to Johnnie Walker Red Label The nose mixes light toffee peat smoke and fresh wood notes. Fresh and vivacious, it packs a crunchy, lightly peaty punch on the palate. ***(*) Black Label 12-year-old Gorgeously complex: perfume, peat and peaches in honey, soft grain and leather all in harmony. Silky and multi-layered on the palate, it balances a huge range of seductive flavours beautifully. * * * * * Gold Label 18-year-old 43%ABV Another stunner: richer than Black, with a hint of sea air and honey/beeswax. A complex palate of iced biscuits, ozone and rich malt. * * * * * Blue Label Peat fires smoulder in the glass and lead to a slowly unfolding palate, with all manner of dark truffle flavours: smoke, orange and bitter chocolate. Deep and profound - but is it worth the money? * * * *