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Friday, September 16, 2011

WhoNu?

WhoNu?
Recently introduced, this Oreo type cookie claims to have a much fiber as a bowl of oatmeal, as much vitamin C as a cup of blueberries, as much vitamin A as a cup of cottage cheese with fruit, as much vitamin E as two cups of carrot juice, as much iron as a cup of spinach, and as much calcium and vitamin D as an 8 oz glass of milk.

I had to buy these cookies and try them for myself.  Well, I thought that these cookies had to taste bad because they sound so healthy!  Wrong.  They are delicious. WhoNu? chocolate sandwich cookies taste just like Oreos.

Unfortunately, the advertisers neglect to inform you of the sugar content.

Three cookies is considered a serving (yeah, right and ice cream is 1/2 cup for a serving).
These three little morsels have 14 grams of sugar.

5 grams of sugar  equal ONE teaspoon of sugar, so do the math.  3 little cookies equal almost 3 full teaspoons of sugar.  I don't know about you, but WOW, that is a lot of sugar.  Also consider you are, if you are like me, going to eat at least 5 cookies, making the total sugar 5 teaspoons.

Oreo cookies have the same amount of sugar and calories, but only have 1 gram of fiber per serving as compared with WhoNU? which has 3 grams per serving.

Oreos have no vitamin C or vitamin A, only 2% calcium, and 10% iron where as WhoNu? has 25% vitamin C, 20% vitamin A, 30% calcium, and 20% iron, PLUS 20% vitamin E, 25% vitamin D and 20% B12.

I guess if you are going to eat a bunch of sugar, it's better to have lots of vitamins and minerals added then not.

Personally, I do not think this snack is worth the calories-160 calories and 3 teaspoons of sugar-for just THREE cookies, for both the Oreo brand and the WhoNu? brand.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011




This is my 10 year old son's dinner one night. I really believe if it looks interesting to children, they will try it more than not.  This is cheese tortellini in olive oil and garlic with parmigiana romano cheeses, steamed spinach lightly tossed in butter and salt and pepper, followed by mini kiwi balls.  I made the kiwi balls using my strawberry hauler!  My son ate every bit.  He does like spinach, asparagus, green beans and broccoli already, but hey, everybody likes a pretty plate.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

While working in restaurants, I found this is the best way to store lettuce, trust me, it really works.
Take your lettuce, soak entire head in cool water, shake off excess water, remove bruised leaves and cut two inches off the top, place upside down in plastic container and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

This will keep your lettuce fresher longer than if you left it in a bag, plus you take what you need and put back the rest.  It's already clean and will be so crunchy and fresh, you won't believe it.
My son, Bobby and my brother in law, Don.  We were having lunch at the Orlando, Florida airport before my son and I had our flight back to Philadelphia.  In this photo, from the top, lettuce wrap with chicken, potato chip nachos, and finally, pot stickers.  Wonderful, fabulous tasting food.  Cannot think of the name of this place, but it is a must if you need some food before your flight.
Ahhh delicious watermelon.  Yes, this is me in my early foodie days!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tons of cooking shows

I am a chef, I love to cook wonderful dishes for everybody I know.

Being a chef, you would think I would not want to watch Hell's Kitchen, Chopped, Master Chef, Top Chef, Next Food Network Star, Extreme Chef, Next Iron Chef, Kitchen Nightmares, Bar Rescue, Restaurant Impossible, Dinner Impossible, and Bitchin Kitchen, but I love them!

I will watch ANYTHING about cooking ANYTIME of the day or night, even after working a 10 hour shift as a head chef.

I guess it's my obsession, my love, my life.

Grilling time

Gosh, I cannot get enough of grilling when the temperature rises above 90.  Not wanting to heat my house during the summer, the grill does come in handy, plus the taste is great.

At least once a summer, I create a dry rub for my pork spare ribs ( on sale of course) and then grill away.

I use:
Salt
Fresh black pepper
garlic powder
onion powder
paprika
brown sugar

Make a paste and rub on several pork ribs.  Refrigerate for 2 hours.  Light the grill and over low-medium heat, cook ribs for about 15 minutes, turn and cook other side for 10-15 minutes.  Use a GOOD meat thermometer.  Ribs are done at 170 degrees. Slice along bone to separate, place on platter and serve with a good homemade BBQ sauce.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Basil tomato summer salad

I planted basil, Italian parsely, cilantro, and Thai basil.  Within two weeks, they are growing like weeds!

Whats good about growing herbs is that you can use them immediately and often through the entire summer and fall.

I chopped up fresh plum tomatoes and added Ken's Italian dressing along with cauliflower, carrots, olives and fresh basil. 
Chill for at least 2 hours before enjoying.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Rick's Italian Restaurant in Lambertville, NJ

When I go out to eat, I want it to be an amazing experience.  The food has to be fresh, tasty, and the service good to great.  I avoid chain restaurants at all costs.  There are so many independent restaurants out there, it would take forever to try them all.

In Lambertville, NJ I usually go to Siam.  Siam's looks like an abandoned building with seating for only 50 at full capacity.  Siam is Thai and it is always good.  It's a guaranteed amazing.

But, I am expanding my dining experience, so I looked up Italian food in that area.  Lambertville, NJ is right next to New Hope, PA and is an old beautiful town with houses dating back to the 1800's.  Walking around the town is part of the dining experience.

Rick's is a BYOB, and I am a huge fan of such places.  The markup on wine at restaurants is over 200%, so a quick stop at the wine store is fine by me.

Ricks menu is small, another indication of great food.  They have the usual parmigiana veal, chicken, and eggplant, but they also offer tofu parmigiana, that's unheard of!  They have meatballs, sausage, and lasagna as well.

The specials for the night included  baby octopus, crab cake parmigiana, and  antipasto for two.

My husband ordered the veal parmigiana,  his favorite Italian dish.  I wanted to order the crab cakes, but decided on the shrimp over linguine with olive oil and fresh garlic.

The reason I did not get the crab cakes was because it is an Italian restaurant and I wanted to order totally Italian.

We were asked if we wanted to sit inside or out and being a beautiful night, before it gets so humid you can't stand it, we opted for outside.  It was so cute, we were escorted through the indoor dining area and then through the kitchen to the outside patio.  The kitchen staff said hi to us when we passed through.  I thought it was another indication of good food as they had nothing to hide!

We were served a pitcher of ice water and a basket of bread with fresh butter, plus a small dish containing pureed white beans mixed with fresh garlic and olive oil so we could dip our bread.  It was so different and delicious, we ordered another basket of bread.

They offered to open our wine and supplied us with wine glasses.  The outside patio was small and quaint with a four top, two two tops, and an eight top.

We sat on white lawn chairs.

Our dinner arrived within 15 minutes of being seated.  My husband's veal was perfectly cooked and had fresh roasted tomatoes and mozzarella cheese melted on top, without being over whelming.  I tasted it and it was delicious.

My shrimp over linguine was amazing.  I received 5 jumbo shrimp that were cooked exactly they way shrimp should be cooked, chewy, not stringy.  I tasted fresh basil, garlic, and the olive oil was just enough without overbearing the pasta.

We also had a side of spaghetti with tomato sauce that had the same fabulous roasted fresh tomato sauce as the veal my husband ordered.

I will definitely be going back to Rick's to try all the other dishes they have to offer.

 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chicken nuggets made with Progresso Panko Italian Style bread crumbs

These little morsels of wonderfulness are a little bit of work, but well worth it.   Progresso bread crumbs are always so good, I have used them for years.  Now they have Italian style panko bread crumbs.  They are crunchy and the seasonings are spot on. 
 When my grocery store has skinless/boneless chicken breast on sale, I pick up about 3 pounds.  I freeze one or two breasts and with the remainder  make chicken two ways , grilled chicken Caesar salad and chicken nuggets 

I put about 1/2 cup regular flour, 1 beaten egg, and Progresso Italian  Panko bread crumbs in three separate plates.  I cut one or two boneless chicken breasts into nugget size pieces.

Dredge chicken into flour, dip in egg, roll in bread crumbs.  Place on a plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes-This helps crumbs adhere to the chicken better.

Heat up 3 tablespoons olive oil in saute pan over medium heat.
Brown chicken nuggets for 3 minutes each side.

Place chicken nuggets on baking sheet and continue to cook in 350 degree oven until internal temperature reaches 180 or about 10 minutes.  
I always use my thermometer on chicken. 
Dip into your favorite sauce or slice lengthwise and mix with romaine lettuce, croutons, and Caesar dressing.

Kandy Kakes

There really is nothing like a Tastykake, be it peanut butter kandy kakes or butterscotch krimpets.
They are always so fresh around this area.

Sometimes, I just have to have one.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Quakes Rice Snacks



These crunchy slightly sweet mini rice cakes are almost as good as Cracker Jack.  Only 110 calories per 13 cakes, it's a great alternative to the fat and calorie laden Cracker Jack, minus the peanuts.

They also have 1 gram of fiber, that's a plus.

Try these wonderful treats and not feel guilty afterwards.

Snack Attack-a healthy one

Nabisco has recently introduced a new snack cookie. Not your regular fig newton.
They are called Newtons Fruit Thins.  I saw a commercial and they looked very delicious, so I bought the Cranberry Citrus Oat ones and I must say they are fabulous.  Thin and crispy plus a little chewy from the cranberries.   It is a nice balance of sweetness of the cranberries, oats and a touch of citrus flavor.
 They are made with real fruit, are made with whole grains, and have no high fructose corn syrup.  They pack 8 grams of whole grain in 3 cookies.



Finally, a good for you crunchy cookie!
They come in other flavors too, which I will check out next week!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Asian Meatballs

I had ground beef in the freezer and wanted to try something new and different, so Asian came to mind.  I love the scent and taste of ginger.  This version has1/2 pound ground beef,1 diced green onion, 1  tablespoon fresh ginger, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste.  I then formed into one bite size meatballs, placed in 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  Serve with sweet and sour sauce.  Makes about 18.

These are great for appetizers.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

sorry I have been away

Just a quick note that I have been in the hospital with what I thought was major, but turned out to be minor, in a manner of speaking.  I have been putting in brutal hours at work and with the heat wave, it's been really hard.
I woke up with irregular heartbeat, dehydrated, exhausted and very light headed.  My hubby insisted I go to the emergency room, which I did.  My EKG was perfect, I was hooked up to fluids for my dehydration and given medicine for the vertigo I have been experiencing.  I need to be on bed rest for a few days and avoid any kind of   strenuous activity, which means my work.  I have to quit, it's the only option when it comes to my health.

I will take care of myself, for once!  I will be back posting here very soon.  Thanks for understanding

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mushroom soup




I know it's hot outside, but I can never get enough of soup.  I made this mushroom soup without adding a ton of fat.  I usually make this soup really creamy, but I wanted a lighter version.  It worked out great and my 10 year old son LOVED it as well.



I used 1 pound white mushrooms
           1/2 pound baby Bella mushrooms
            1/4 cup butter
            1/8 cup olive oil
            1/2 large onion, diced small
            3 gloves garlic, diced small
            1/8 cup flour
            2 cups vegetable stock
            fresh ground pepper
            1/4 tsp. dried thyme
             salt-use lightly as broth adds salt
             4 ounces heavy cream
             6 ounces milk-2% or whole
            fresh chopped parsley for garnish

Brush dirt off mushrooms and slice.  Heat dutch oven over medium heat and add butter, oil, onion, garlic, and mushrooms.  Cook until mushrooms are soft about 15 minutes.  Add flour and get to boiling and cook for 5 minutes.  Add stock, pepper, thyme, and salt.  Cook for 10 more minutes, stirring constantly until slightly thickened.  Lower heat to medium, add 4 ounces heavy cream and 6 ounces milk.  Mix well and heat through and garnish with fresh parsley.

Serve with fresh toasted bagel.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

ONE ingredient ice cream WITHOUT an ice cream maker?

Am I skeptical?  You bet I am. According to recent information, you can freeze banana slices for two hours, then put in a blender and scrape down the sides until, you have ice cream.  My wonderfully talented sister is trying this recipe tonight and will let me know how it turns out.  If all goes well, it will be an ice cream without sugar, fat, additives, etc.  Completely vegan.  Unfortunately for me, I really do not like bananas or the taste of bananas, like strawberry banana juice, etc.  I will eat bananas in cereal or a bread because let's face it, they are super good for you.  But I will not just pick up a banana and eat one.  No thanks.

Now if it was strawberry or mint chocolate chip ice cream, well, let's talk.

I'll keep you posted, ha, that's funny, I guess that's why they call it a Post.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Blue Cheese dip for celery and wings of course!

If you love, love, love blue cheese dressing or dip, you will LOVE this recipe.  Never being able to find a delicious blue cheese dip for my great chicken wings, I made one.

I take 2/3 cup light sour cream (less fat and still tons o flavor)
add:  1/4 cup mayonnaise
         1 tsp fresh lemon juice
         1 tsp white wine vinegar
          Salt and black pepper to taste
          4 ounces good quality blue cheese, broken up-you can use more or less if you desire.

Mix everything and chill in refrigerator at least two hours OR place in freezer for 30 minutes in a pinch.

I also only use Franks Hot Sauce, it adds the flavor and heat without killing your taste buds.  Food is not supposed to cause pain.

The new Franks Hot Sauce for Wings is one of the best sauces out there.  Try it, you will love it.
         
         

Stuff

Since beginning a new job in April, I have found less time to post here, but I will try to keep up!

My new job is extremely busy and I find myself working 13 to 15 hours on Saturdays alone with no break longer than 5 minutes at a time, so needless to say, I am quite exhausted when I get home.

It will be busy at my job like that for the entire Summer and Fall seasons.  If I put in 40 hours, it is not a 5 day, 8 hour long shift, it's 40 hours over 4 days.

Time does not exist during my stint in the seventh circle of hell, or as I call it, "Hell's Kitchen".

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ideas or Questions about food and cooking

Please post any questions, comments, or suggestions regarding food and cooking to me anytime, I would love it!

Thanks,
Chef Kit

Fresh crab cakes anyone?

I made lump crab cakes last night along with a dipping sauce.

They were so delicious and fresh.

First, I made fresh mayonnaise.  One egg yolk, fresh lemon juice, white pepper, salt and olive/corn oil. 
I think when most of us buy our Hellmans, we use a bit too much, and so we buy the lower fat version to be 'healthier'. 
Well, if you made mayo from scratch every 4 days or so, you would use less than HALF of regular mayo because the fresh is so rich, and don't forget--NO CHEMICALS, no processing, etc. 

Just yummy mayo.   I then added chopped capers, more fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper, and my own roasted whole cloves of garlic.

This was the dipping sauce for the crabcakes.

I placed 1 cup heavy cream and 4 slices un crusted bread, paprika, and garlic powder in a saucepan and reduced by half and brought down to room temperature before adding to the crab meat, along with one egg, lemon juice, salt, pepper, roasted green onions, and a speck of panko breadcrumbs.  I then formed them into patties (6 using 1 pound lump crab meat), dusted in flour, fried in 1 tsp. butter/2 tsp olive oil, for 3 minutes each side.  Place in preheated 375-400 degree oven for 10 minutes-this firms them up nicely.

I served a baby field green salad with tomatoes, almonds, seseame seeds, dried cranberries with a homemade basil balsamic vinegariette dressing.

Along with the crabcake, I took canned artichoke hearts, drained an rinsed, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic powder, and fresh parsley.  I marinated them for 4 hours and served nice and cold along with the hot crabcakes.

The crabcakes were subperb and delectible, the sauce fresh and creamy.  The salad was perfect because I used a great balsamic vinegar--invest in the good stuff, it makes a world of difference.

Note:  I have two crabcakes left.  Since it's raining out today, I look forward to lunch and eating leftovers.  Leftovers will never taste better!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter, fun and sun

Spring has passed us by and Summer has landed.  Sunburned and sweaty, I am not the happy camper I should be because it is, frankly, too hot!  80 degrees is too too warm, considering the temperature less than one week ago was in the low 40's.  My tulips are melting.

Easter was fun because we got to hang outside with the kids and play games.

We went from Winter to Summer and have completely stepped over the beautiful Spring weather that we sometimes enjoy.  I mean what the?  Global warming perhaps.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Good luck in your new career dinner

My daughter is going off to New York for her new career/job.  Since she will be over 5 hours away and we are going to miss her like crazy, I decided to surprise her with a fab farewell dinner.

On the menu for Tuesday, April 19, 2011:
  Shrimp cocktail with homemade cocktail sauce

  Prime rib roast marinated in red wine and garlic, served with homemade creamy horseradish sauce
  Grilled mushrooms and onions in a garlic/parsley olive oil and red wine sauce
  Mashed potatoes
   Fresh steamed asparagus spears in a light brown butter

Dessert:
Fudge Chocolate cake with ganache frosting and fresh sliced strawberries with whip cream.


Sounds pretty delicious to me!


Pics will be posted tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes, you don't.

The world has gone mad, Almond Joy flavored coffee creamer, Cinnabon flavored coffee creamer, and the best; chocolate covered potato chip ice cream.

I am convinced there is a higher power when I saw these items at my Shop Rite tonight.  I purchased all three of these products and I can say without a doubt, I cannot wait to try them!

I also purchased coffee called, Eye Opener, because it is a blend of Colombian, Central American with zesty French Roast beans.  It sounds and smells wonderful.  I have it ready to brew for tomorrow morning.

I love going to the supermarket by myself so I can explore and really look at the items, you know not just get what I  need and get out.

How about Snickers candy bar flavored coffee creamer or Twix?  Yes, it's not the healthiest of products, but life is short enough without depriving yourself of goodies.

At my shopping trip tonight, I observed an elderly couple shopping, they were in front of me at various spots throughout the store, so I eavesdropped a little.  I love seeing what people are buying and what they are talking about to each other.  The elderly lady was talking to her husband about her losing weight and how it was working out for her.  This couple was about 80 years old and not at all overweight.
I just wanted to tell her, "Hey, forget about it, just enjoy yourself, and forget calorie counting!"  Then I thought, "Man I still have to worry about my weight when I am 80?"  What the?  Is there no justice in the world?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Haggis, fortune cookies, chop suey

Haggis is from Scotland and some people call it the Scottish equivalent  of scrapple.  Frankly, I say no. Scrapple is a mixture of ground pork shoulder, mixed with cornmeal and spices.


Haggis is a dish containing sheep's 'pluck' (heartliver and lungs), minced with onionoatmealsuetspices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally simmered in the animal's stomach for approximately three hours. Most modern commercial haggis is prepared in a casing rather than an actual stomach.


OK they both look kind of nasty, but at least scrapple doesn't have livers, lungs, and suet.   Do you know what suet is??


Fortune cookies were first made in California as an added sweet surprise at the end of a Chinese meal.


Chop Suey is leftover Chinese food.  In China, when there were lots of leftover meats, noodles, and vegetables, they would throw into a wok and TA DA-a meal.  In Chinatown in California, Americans people wanted Chop Suey as there mainstay of Chinese cuisine, not the traditional Chinese fare such as dumplings, won ton soup, etc. So Chop Suey was at that time the most sought after Chinese food by locals, not Chinese folk.  The other advantage of Chop Suey: very affordable take out!

Monday, April 4, 2011

FEEDBACK needed: Haggis, chop suey, and fortune cookies?

There is one great advantage to watching the Food Network show, Chopped, learning about foods you never heard of!

Haggis in a can.  The name brings gross thoughts to my mind.  Any kind of meat in a can is gross.

I found out what haggis was while watching the show, and I can assure you, I will NOT be purchasing, cooking, or eating that, unless it was the only food on earth.

One chef on the show thought it was from England, but the chef from England confirmed haggis was from Scotland.   Notice, haggis is NOT from America, which means it tastes nasty.

Any thoughts on what you think haggis is, without looking it up on the web?

What is chop suey and where did it come from?  How about fortune cookies?  Thoughts, comments welcome. 

I will post the answers and some pictures when I get some feedback.  Thank you.  This here is haggis:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

You too can make won ton soup


Yes you can!
Look at it's wonderful simpleness, a little pocket of flavor heaven. The subtle teasing of fresh ginger on your tongue along with the crunchiness of the green onion lend a perfect match to the pork surrounded by a dip of sesame oil.

Since Spring has yet to arrive here in the frosty cold northeast, I figured why not make some delicious warming soup.  I made meat loaf last week out of veal, beef, and pork.  I saved 1/3 pound of each of the meats and froze them for this week.  I made tacos out of the beef and veal, and of course I made won ton soup out of the leftover ground pork.
Seems like a daunting task to make homemade won tons, but no, I only lost one won ton.  I don't mean lost as in not found, but the stuffing came bursting out of the wrapper, still edible by my son, who loves the filling more than the wrapper.

  1. 1/3-1/2 pound ground lean pork
  2. Fresh ginger-I used ginger in the tube, about 2 tablespoons, or use fresh grated.
  3. 1 TBSP low sodium soy sauce
  4. 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  5. 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  6. 1 tsp. sugar
  7. 1 TBSP cornstarch
  8. 1 TBSP sesame oil
  9. Chopped extremely fine-3 TBSP green onions
  10. Won ton wrappers
  11. Chicken stock/broth-hot
  12. Green onions and sesame oil for garnish
Get a nice big pot 3/4 filled with water, put in a little oil, and boil.
I made about 12 won tons for three people to have four each in their soup.  I kept the leftover pork filling locked away tightly in my lock and lock wonder container for more fresh soup tomorrow.
I think this whole thing will make 20-24 won tons-you can make them all ahead, and yes, freeze for later use.

Mix pork, ginger, soy sauce, salt, pepper, sugar, cornstarch, oil, and onions by hand until completely blended.
Lay out one won ton wrapper and wet the edges with water, place 1 Tablespoon of pork in center, and fold over, crimp with a fork.  When you have the amount you want, place in boiling water. The won tons will sink to the bottom of the pan, when they float, they are done, about 5 minutes. (DON'T cook won tons in chicken stock/broth.  Have a separate pot of hot chicken broth ready to go.
Here's what I did to FINISH this dish:  I placed 4 won tons into a bowl, poured chicken broth over the won tons, garnished with thin slices of green onions and drizzled a speck of sesame oil on top
Super delicious.
Are you asking yourself, "How the heck can I make won tons like the ones at the great fusion restaurant?" I just experimented with different techniques.  If you need any pointers, let me know and I can post a tutorial on how to make won tons.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

UN stinking broccoli

When you make broccoli, it really smells up the joint, doesn't it?  I almost always use fresh broccoli crowns and steam them.
Well, I don't have to tell you that the waft of broccoli is not pleasant.

All you need is one or two pieces of bread, any kind will do.  You can use the ends or heels of the loaf if you want.

Whether you boil or steam or microwave (which I don't recommend because it burns the broccoli), place the bread on top of the broccoli while it cooks.

The bread absorbs with odor.  When done, toss bread away, unless you want two soggy pieces of bread that smell like broccoli for a sandwich.

Great Thai meal that's easy on fat and calories

Visiting Siam restaurant in Lambertville, NJ is an unbelievable culinary experience for the palate.

They have some of the best Thai food I've ever had.  The outside looks like a really old store from the 1940's that was left for dead.  It seats only 50 people.  The decorations on the wall are sparse and unusual, and haven't changed at all for years.

The menus are yellowed from age, and stained.

The wait staff is great and very friendly.
You don't need reservations, but it wouldn't hurt on Friday and Saturday nights. It is a BYOB which is great because ordering wine in a restaurant is one of the most marked up items on the menu.

Everything we (husband, daughter, friends, sisters) ordered from the pork fried rice to the homemade coconut ice cream was fabulous.

I really wanted to duplicate some of the items from there and cook them at my home.  I figured out the cucumber salad, the pork satay, and the simple white rice recipes.  I nailed it.  It's like sitting at Siam at our own homey table.

The best thing about doing this was I made all of the above items low fat.  That's the problem when you eat out, you have no idea at times how certain foods are prepared, of course, unless you ask.

The following meal will serve 2 adults and one child:
  Cucumber Salad:
1 regular cucumber, peeled and halved, seeds removed or seedless (English) cucumber.
3 to 4 teaspoons Splenda sweetener or regular sugar
Rice wine vinegar OR white vinegar
Water
2 tablespoons Texas onions or yellow onions, diced very fine.
1 jalapeƱo pepper, seeds removed, and sliced

Peel and cut lengthwise cucumber.  Scoop out seeds with spoon, discard seeds. Cut cucumbers into bite size pieces.
Place cucumbers, onions, and jalapeƱo pepper in small bowl, add sugar, place enough vinegar to cover ingredients completely, and add 2 tablespoons water. Mix well and chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.  This salad tastes better the longer it chills and marinates the flavors.

  Pork Satay:
1/2 pound pork loin, fat trimmed, sliced 1/2 inch thick, about 3-4 inches long
Salt and Pepper
Vegetable oil
Optional: 1 can coconut milk

After slicing pork, sprinkle with salt and pepper and put coconut milk on it, marinade for several hours or overnight (this will soften and moisturize the pork)
If you don't have coconut milk, just sprinkle with salt and pepper and slather with vegetable oil.

Grill or bake methods
Grill:  Thread pork onto skewers, grill each side for 6-8 minutes
Bake: Place pork on baking sheet and cook in 350 degree oven for 12-16 minutes, broil for 3 minutes.

Serve with peanut sauce (The one pictured is very creamy and very spicy), even my 10 year old son likes it!
Last, but not least:
Rice:
1 cup long grain white rice (the cheap store brand is great, I use Shop Rite brand)
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Place water, salt, and oil into saucepan and bring to a boil.
Add rice, stir and bring to a boil again.
Cover and put on low setting for 16 minutes.
Stir and eat immediately.  If you don't, place pan in sink full of rice to stop cooking process.  Heat up later.

This rice does not need anything else.  It is smooth, creamy, and delicious!!!

This whole meal is so satisfying and wonderful, you will get raves, I guarantee it.

Note:  Make sure you measure water for rice EXACTLY, this is key for perfect rice.

Hangover helper-Asparagus?

Chinese research has revealed that asparagus works with the liver to break down enzymes, which in turn will speed up the healing process of alcohol deposits TWICE as fast as normal.

What does this mean?  Well, in case you had a speck too much to drink, eat some asparagus and you will feel more like yourself twice as fast.

Why not?  Well, it's best not to drink too much in the first place, but hey we are human and we do make mistakes.

Hangover helper-Asparagus?

Chinese research has revealed that asparagus works with the liver to break down enzymes, which in turn will speed up the healing process of alcohol deposits TWICE as fast as normal.

What does this mean?  Well, in case you had a speck too much to drink, eat some asparagus and you will feel more like yourself twice as fast.

Why not?  Well, it's best not to drink too much in the first place, but hey we are human and we do make mistakes.  

Really cheap and natural window cleaner

I was sick and tired of buying expensive cleaners, plus the smell wasn't that good considering the chemicals they contained.  So I made my own concoction and tried it out, before I would post about it because I wanted to make sure they worked.

Take 1/2 teaspoon liquid soap (I used Gain liquid soap), 2 cups tap water, and 1 cup white vinegar.  Put in a clean spray bottle, shake it up, use.

I used this on a variety of surfaces such as:  sliding glass doors, brushed stainless steel trash bin, tiled table tops, flat cook top, and the fake wood surfaces.

It worked great on everything and the smell was clean and fresh.  This stuff is so cheap, it's insane!  Especially compared to the brand name so called "great window cleaner" out there on the market.

It didn't leave streaks on the glass either, what a wonderful thing.

I have an obsession with clean windows and doors.  I think I have tried everything on the market, and they would ALL streak.

Try this out and let me know how it worked for you.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Crock pot split pea soup

Green split pea soup is so delicious, filling, very economical, and naturally thickens itself!

I buy a shank ham with bone, cook it up, then save the bone with some meat still on, to use in the soup.

I have tried fat back, salt pork, bacon, and ham bone.  Not all at the same time!

The winner hands down, no comparison, is the ham bone.  The bone has marrow inside it and that flavors the soup like nothing else.

Also, I have tried cooking on stove top, and crock pot.

Again, the best is the crock pot.

I use really good quality chicken/vegetable stock (Better than Bouillon), 2 bags of the green split peas, 4 sliced carrots, 1/4 cup diced onions, water, and salt and pepper.  I cook in the crock pot on high for 5 or 6 hours.
The good thing is that you cannot over cook the soup.  The ham bone is high in salt, so be careful of the amount of salt you add.
Always use fresh ground black pepper.  As soon as the whole peppercorns are crushed, they release the wonderful fresh pepper aroma.  When you use already ground pepper, you have to use twice as much because who knows how long ago it was ground.  They even sell whole peppercorns in a ready to use grinder, in case you don't own your own.  And if you don't, please invest a small amount of money and buy one!

Remove the ham bone, skim fat off the top, and adjust seasonings.  I like to mash the soup with a potato masher, so it becomes more creamy. Like I said at the beginning, the split peas are a natural thickener, so you don't need to add any cornstarch or roux.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spring preview

Today is February 17 and the sun is shining bright.  The current temperature is 49, and going up to 60!!!

Tomorrow is going to be 65 degrees.  After that the temperature returns to it's usual 40ish during the day.

But, with the weather around here, it'best to enjoy the moment, as it will change, usually towards the nasty side, especially during the months of February and March.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

SCRAPPLE

Don't let anyone tell you that scrapple is not good, or that is made from all of the pig's parts that no one would ever eat, like pig eyes, pig snouts, and pig toenails!

Yes, it's true, the only thing left of a pig is the squeal.  But, those parts are used in the making of pet foods, etc., not in scrapple.

Last year, my family and I visited Scrapple Fest in Philadelphia.  The waft of scrapple frying filled the air.   I was amazed how crowded it was!  It was held at the Reading Terminal Market, which if you've never been, you MUST visit.  The array of scents are intoxicating.   They have every kind of food you could ever imagine.

I found an amazing balsamic vinegar that was far superior than the selection at my local supermarket. 
We indulged in free samples of scrapple, and ordered a giant fresh baked chocolate chip cookie that oozed melted chocolate goodness in our mouths.

They had excess samples of no meat scrapple.  What's the point again?  It was awful!  It was like having no chocolate chocolate!

When my sister visited from Florida a few years ago, we drove up to the Reading, PA outlets to visit a huge kitchen supply store.  It is a foodie dream come true.  I found a book that listed a homemade scrapple recipe.  It called for ground pork shoulder, corn meal, and spices. 
It was a good thing, too, because I really would not know where to look for pig noses.  I wouln't want to eat that anyway! 

It is difficult to find good scrapple East of the Mississippi, so when you visit, order a side of scrapple with your eggs and ask for ketchup, not for the eggs, but for the scrapple. 
If you love bacon and sausage, you will flip over scrapple.  It is amazing.
http://www.readingterminalmarket.org/

Thursday, February 10, 2011

All Natural Cleaning/Sanitizing Mixtures for your Kitchen

Garbage Disposal Cleaner and sharpener:

  Place several ice cubes into garbage disposal, run cold water, turn on and turn off when the garbage disposal has ground up all the ice.

For clean smelling garbage disposal:  Put in 1/4 cup baking soda and let sit for 10 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup white vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes.  Turn on disposal, with water running, for 30 seconds.

Lemon juice works great for a quick fresh smelling disposal.

Coffee Pot Cleaner:


I see they sell a coffee pot cleaner at the store.  Why?  More chemicals?  Enough!  Fill up your carafe or water reservoir with plain white vinegar, let sit for 30 minutes. Turn on coffee pot as if you are making a pot of coffee.  Once done, turn off, empty vinegar and put in fresh cold water and run through again TWO more times with cold water in order to remove all traces of sediment and vinegar residue.
This will keep your coffee maker running smoother and fresher.  Depending on how much you use your coffee pot, you can clean it this way every month or two months.
The great thing is, it is very affordable, no chemicals, and all natural, so if you use this method three times a month, it will be fine!

All Natural Cleaning for Microwave Oven

Buy cheap bottle of lemon juice.
Pour 1/2 cup lemon juice plus 1/2 cup water in Pyrex or oven-proof glassware.
Place in microwave.
Put in for 6 minutes on high setting.

Open microwave oven--CAREFUL-IT WILL BE VERY HOT-- and it will smell wonderful, plus it will loosen any baked on food so you can easily clean up with paper towels.
 
Also, some of the mixture will have boiled over onto the bottom of your oven, but that's fine, you just soak it up with paper towels.


All natural, very affordable, and it works great!

Seafood Toasts-Makes 12 appetizers

1 French baguette, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
2 Tbsp good-quality olive oil
2 Tbsp Mayonnaise
7 oz smoked salmon
3 Tbsp Vinaigrette-(oil and vinegar dressing-recipe to follow)
24 small shrimp-cooked and cooled


1.  Preheat oven to 375F.  
2.  Brush a little olive oil on the bread, place on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes or until golden brown.
3.  Spread the toasted bread slices with a little of the mayonnaise.
4.  Place smoked salmon on top of bread, dress with vinaigrette, arrange a couple of the shrimp, and top it all off with a little mayonnaise and fresh chopped parsley.


                VINAIGRETTE-Oil & Vinegar dressing
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
Salt, fresh ground pepper
1 Tbsp finely diced onion
1 Tbsp finely diced scallion
1 Tbsp finely diced garlic
2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley


1.  Whisk together the oil and vinegar in a bowl and season to taste.  Whisk in remaining seasonings.  Store in fridge up to two weeks.  Note:  Keep dice VERY fine.



Monday, February 7, 2011

Packers Win Super Bowl!!! I predicted it, oh yeah!, plus update on Chili Contest

I called it, the Packers will win.  I had a TON of opposition, believe me.  All the "experts" said, Steelers all the way!  All my friends, the male ones, said Steelers. Ha ha, I have the last laugh.  And believe me, I will rub it in their faces!

It's not that I am a Packers fan, on the contrary, I am a big Eagles fan, through and through.  Which is why I root  for the underdog, always.  It's great.

I think the Steelers mailed the game in, because I think they were so full of themselves, they actually thought they had won already without showing up.  That's when the underdog attacks, and wins.

In the playoffs, the Green Bay Packers beat the Eagles, so I had to root for the Packers.

Also, Michael Vick won Come back athlete, yeah, Go Vick!!!

Today is the day of the Chili Contest, keep your fingers crossed!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fun things for the kitchen.

I bought this rack for $8.00 at Columbus, NJ flea market this morning.
This plant is part clover and the tall greens are from a garlic bulb.  I had some garlic in my fridge that was starting to grow green stalks, so I planted it and it's growing like well, a weed. I'll try the greens in a salad, it should  have a mild garlic flavor, right?

And last, my favorite apron.  My wonderful, generous sister bought this for me and I love it! So cute, and functional.  The ice cream clock was also a find at Columbus flea market for $4.00.

The Winning-est CHILI Of All Time!!!

Well, there is one good thing about living in the northeast area of the country-that is being able to eat hearty, hot, soups, stews, and of course, Chili.  
Who wants to eat spicy chili in hot, humid weather? Ahhhhhh, no.


Now, the original chili does not have beans involved, but I love to add beans to my chili and this year, I will be bringing home 1st prize in a local annual chili cooking contest.


I have entered several contests through the years, and thus far, have always placed second or runner-up.


This year, I will pull out all stops and go crazy on making a chili that will blow the socks off the judges, literally! 
Previously, I have made ground beef and bean chili, white chili, and ground turkey chili.


Tomorrow will be a monumental day, please mark your calendars as this IS THE YEAR, I will win!


I am making it now, 3:00 pm EST. Let the competition begin!!!
Wish me luck (although luck has nothing to do with it!)


Recipe to follow................

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Try this for something different-Salmon, asparagus and artichoke tartlets-makes 12




Note:  Please allow 1/2 hour, plus 2 hours for preparation, directions to follow:

9 oz ready made puff pastry-in your freezer section at supermarket-follow thaw directions on package
Flour for dusting
9 oz salmon fillet, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, and  dill
 24 thin asparagus tips
1 can artichoke hearts, drained.
1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying

l.  Preheat oven to 375F
2.  Roll out thawed pastry out onto a floured board and use to line 12 tartlet molds or tart pan-(don't have molds?, use cupcake tins, you can use paper baking cups or flour the tins).
3.  Place in oven and cook for 5 minutes until pastry turns golden and starts to puff up.
4.  Remove from oven and let cool.
5.  Place salmon in freezer for 1/2 hour to make it easier to slice thinly.  Lay the slices out on a dish, sprinkle with sugar, salt, and the herbs, cover, and leave to marinate for 2 hours, turning twice.
6.  Brush salmon clean with a pastry brush and set aside.
7. Drop the asparagus into boiling salted water, bring back to a boil, and simmer for 2 minutes.  Refresh in iced water, drain, and set aside.
8.  Slice artichokes finely and fry them in the oil until crisp.
9.  Heat a heavy-based skillet and sear the salmon for 30 seconds on each side.
10.  Place a slice of the salmon, followed by 2 asparagus tips, then an artichoke slice into the tarlet, and serve.

Makes 12 tartlets.

Another must have for your kitchen

This is a MUST have for your kitchen.  I own the Maverick Roast Alert/3. It is worth the extra bucks compared to the traditional thermometers out there.  This one cost me $22.00.  The regular 'stick' thermometer cost about $3.00 or $4.00.

The difference is with the Maverick Alert you put the probe into your meat/poultry BEFORE you cook it in the oven. The probe is in the meat and the other plug is in the main unit. (See picture)  You leave the unit outside of the oven and the probe stays in the oven.  No need to open and close the oven door letting out valuable heat.  You set it and forget it!.

There are settings for: Ham, duck, ribs, beef, pork, chicken, turkey, veal, and lamb.
For Beef there are rare, medium rare, medium, and well to choose from.  For poultry, it will automatically read temperature as 180 F -that's the safe temperature for cooked poultry.
It also has separate settings for these GROUND meats:  Beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, and veal.

There is also one setting in which you can program manually what you need to cook that isn't listed or you want a particular temperature for some food.

It has a timer also and an Alert mode-this is where the unit will beep repeatedly when it is within 10 degrees of done temperature.

I have used this on chicken, turkey, ham, pork, and beef steaks.  The probe end is about 6 inches long to stick into your food, and the "cord" is 36 inches long.   Both probe and cord are safe for oven temperatures.  You just leave the unit out on the counter, or oven door since it has magnets on the back.

Pork is a funny thing, if you over cook it, it dries out.  When I started using this thermometer, I was very impressed , it was and is "Spot On".

Again, plus you DON'T open the oven door, get blasted with hot air in your face, letting the precious heat escape, just to stick in the regular thermometer and wait for the reading. Snooze time.

Any comments or questions, let me know and thanks for reading!

TAPAS or Small Snacks

Tapas are Spanish verb, Tapar, meaning "to cover", but let's call it something better:  Small Snacks.

Also called appetizers in our culture.  These yummy one or two bites are great to serve anytime.
How about the Super Bowl party?  You can make ahead of time, pop into oven for a few minutes, and plate!

If anyone has a request for a particular TAPA, such as chicken, shrimp, vegetable, etc., post a comment and I will post a recipe.  
I am going to post a few recipes for Super Bowl Party Eats today and tomorrow.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Don't deprive yourself from the goodies you love.

     I know I am blogging about healthy, simple foods, yet I post a creamy soup that is not necessarily the healthiest of soups.
     I am in the northeast and the winters here are brutal.  By the time February comes around, everyone around here is sick and tired of the snow, ice, and cold temperatures. 
     Therefore, I believe in nourishing your soul as well as your body.
     This baked potato soup is like having a warm, super soft blanket around you.

     Just don't go hog wild with the portion and also, eat lots of fresh fruit and salads throughout the rest of the day to balance.

     My nice husband made a decadent chocolate cake with chocolate icing last night. How can I resist, how can anyone resist that?  Not me. I don't have a sweet tooth, I have more of a salt tooth, but chocolate cake is another story. I had a small piece, and then walked a bit more this morning to help burn it off.

Never deprive yourself of something you love, just keep it minimal and remember, think before you eat, eat well, and find an exercise that YOU love!

Bon Appetit!

Recipe for Baked Potato Soup

This will yield about two quarts or six to seven servings:


4 medium baking potatoes
1 clove fresh garlic,minced fine
2 green onions, small dice
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil (or butter)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth(don't use the cubes-too much salt)
1 1/4 cups half and half OR 1 pint heavy cream plus 1/4 cup milk (any kind 2%, whole, etc.
6 ounces reduced fat sour cream(don't use no fat, the flavor is off)
8 ounces reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded.
4 slices cooked bacon, cooked, cooled, and diced small.
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley and fresh green onions for garnish.


1.  Scrub potatoes, wash and prick with fork, then bake in microwave on high about 15 minutes or until knife cuts through easily.  You can bake in regular oven at 400 F for 45 to 60 minutes.
2.  While potatoes are cooling down, put garlic, green onions,flour, and oil into a dutch oven (large pot) on medium heat and stir constantly for 5 to 6 minutes, or until garlic and onions are cooked through.  (don't let garlic burn, it turns very bitter-tasting)
3. Gradually add chicken broth while stirring with a whisk to incorporate all the ingredients.
4.Remove skins off potatoes (save skins for later-you can make potato skins filled with reduced fat cheeses, and onions!), mash half of the potatoes and dice the other half of potatoes and put in with the chicken broth.
5. Add salt and pepper, taste, adjust.
6.  Add half and half,sour cream and shredded cheese and mix completely through.
7.  Continue cooking for 15 minutes on low/medium heat--DO NOT LET BOIL- stirring occasionally.
8. Pour into bowls and garnish with green onions and fresh chopped parsley.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Need more fiber?

  No one wants to talk about the f word, but well, we are adults.  Well, most of us anyway.  Shockingly about 80% of all Americans do NOT get enough fiber.  As adults we all need 25 to 35 grams a day.  Children need their age plus 5.  Example:  10 year old Johnny would need 15 grams a day.
Twenty five to 35 gms a day means five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day! Not a week!


Thank goodness ketchup is considered a vegetable (or is it a fruit?) or my husband would be SOL.


What does this mean, we have to walk around with a bag full of broccoli, apples, and peaches?  I mean five is doable for sure, but nine?  That does seem excessive.  However, fruit and vegetable juices are a serving each.  So is one small banana, so get a giant banana and go to town.
I wonder where that town is?


Nowadays, you can get two servings of vegetables in Chef Boyardee Ravioli, YEAH!


I say eat some instant oatmeal sprinkled with wheat germ, bananas, and a berry and Voila!  Two servings of fiber from whole grains and two servings of fiber from fruits. You could easily get one half of the 25 grams at breakfast.  Plus don't forget Oats and blueberries are SUPER foods (wheat germ too), they contain lots of antioxidants.
80% of All Americans do NOT get enough fiber.


Eat an apple and orange a day, they are very seasonal now so they are affordable.  Eat a banana at breakfast. Eat a cup of greens for a salad, if you add peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes, you are doing quite well.


Don't forget eat beans, but please be aware of those around you (pee-yew).  Eat whole grain bread instead of white, eat the skin of the apple and the potato, the fiber is all in the skin on those!
Vegetable soup is great too.
This yucky winter weather is great for making and eating soups.


I made loaded baked potato soup and creamy lentil soup today.  Last week, I made split pea and escarole with little meatballs. 
If you want any of these recipes, let me know.  The lentil soup is low in fat and calories.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Must Haves for Your Kitchen



I have found an awesome bouillon alternative--you know those cubes or powder packs of chicken bouillon?


Yuck! Those are all loaded with sodium!  Who needs that?


Where you find soups and broths in your supermarket, you will find these treasured goodies for all your broth, stock, soup,and sauce needs.


Named:  Better Than Bouillon, with Chicken, Beef, Vegetable or Fish bases to choose from you will be saying, "What was I using before this?  Oh yeah, I know, crap!" 
 
There are 38 servings per jar which is  9.5 quarts.   It is a super concentrated base with 1 teaspoon equaling one cube or 8 oz can of broth.


Vegans: The Better Than Bouillon vegetable base is Certified Vegan (Vegan.org)


Read the ingredients in a cube.  The first listed ingredient on any product means it contains more of the first ingredient than all the other ingredients.  Example:  Salt/Sodium--that means there is a lot of salt in that product.


The first ingredient in the vegetable base is:  Vegetables and concentrated vegetables.


Not only lower in sodium, but much fresher and healthier, plus the taste is miles ahead of the "cube".


It is of course, more pricey, but it is worth every penny. Once you try it, you'll know what I mean.
It is awesome just as a quick broth on a cold, snowy day.


A cup of vegetable base, throw in some frozen vegetables, and viola!!!

You DO haveTIME for breakfast!

Good mornin, good mornin, it's great to stay up late, good morning, good morning to you!!!
Yes it's from the fabulous movie 'Singing In The Rain'
A must see movie.This was my breakfast today, Monday, January 31m 2011  Maple Brown Sugar Instant oatmeal with fresh blueberries....period.
Oatmeal is a great Super food, as are blueberries.  I wash off the blueberries real well, plop into a bowl with 2/3 cup water and of course, the oatmeal...Microwave for 2 minutes..sit for 2 minutes.......Eat It Up!!!
Everyone has time for breakfast...of course the oatmeal you have to cook is better for you, but..time restraints push us to instant!  This really fills up your belly.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Never, Ever Refridgerate TOMATOES

Never, ever, under ANY circumstances, put tomatoes in the fridge!


People, I cannot stress this enough.  As soon as the cool air penetrates the delicate skin of a tomato, it breaks down the flavor.  The deep rich redness becomes one note and bland tasting.


Buy tomatoes that are not fully ripe so you may put them out on a counter for a few days.  The result in two days is a delicious, rich, juicy, yummy tasting tomato!


Enjoy

Tip of the day

Attack your local produce place.  If you don't have one available, go to your food market and look for "Locally grown".  Try to buy as much local food as they have available, it helps your community!  In my neck of the woods, I am blessed with one of the best produce market, it's minutes from my house.
Eat at least 4 fruits a day.  Pick something that you love and is in season.  Treat yourself to blueberries, add them to your cereal, blend into plain greek yogurt, they are labeled "Super Food!"  because of their anti-oxidants.  Just wash real well right before you eat them.
Live, Love, and Eat
Peace out