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Archive for March, 2009

Monday – Spicy Calamari over Spring Greens with Grape Tomatoes and Remoulade Sauce

Tuesday – Navy Bean and Spinach Soup, Silver Dollar Corncakes

Wednesday – Black Bean and Brown Rice Burritos, Carrots

Thursday – Oven-fried Chicken Tenders, Green Beans, Macaroni Salad

Friday – out to a Fish Fry

Saturday – Bison Burgers, Spinach, Avocado, and Citrus Salad, Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Sunday – dinner at a friend’s house

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Whole Wheat Banana Bread

Makes one 9 x 5-inch loaf 

As part of my ongoing efforts to keep you in the kitchen, I offer this recipe for banana bread.  I can’t shed too much new light on banana bread except to say this recipe combines the whole-grain goodness of whole wheat flour with some all-purpose flour. This flour combination keeps the bread from becoming too heavy and dense. If desired, 1/2 cup golden raisins can be substituted for the nuts, and if you don’t want any white flour you can always experiment and use all whole wheat flour.

2 cups whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and whisk together to blend ingredients. In another bowl mix together the eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, mashed bananas, and walnuts. Make a hole in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the liquid mixture. Stir to blend ingredients well. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes until the crust is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool on a rack.

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Monday – Whole-Wheat Rotini with Broccoli and Italian Sausage, Spinach Salad with Craisins and Blue Cheese

Tuesday – Corned Beef, Cabbage, Potatoes, Carrots, Irish Soda Bread, Leprechaun Cake, Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Wednesday – Grouper Fingers, Guinness Tartar Sauce, Cinnamon Applesauce, Barbecue Beans (what a strange combination)

Thursday – Bison Burgers, Sauteed Spinach

Friday – Out of Town for Georgetown Junior Music Festival

Saturday – Baked Ravioli, Mixed Green Salad

Sunday – Grilled Chicken Breasts, Macaroni Salad, Fresh Broccoli with Lemon,  Confetti Birthday Cake

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Favorites! Favorites!

Homegrown Kentucky ProduceI have many new readers and for that I’m grateful. If you haven’t already, please subscribe and visit on a regular basis. For those of you who’ve been faithful since the very beginning, I’m grateful for you as well. Thanks for your comments, questions, and taking time out of your day to learn more about good health through food and cooking.  My goal is to share tasty recipes, helpful tips, and good food for thought to help transform your kitchen. I truly believe in the power of a kitchen to nourish our bodies and make us more physically, emotionally, socially, and yes, even spiritually, fit. To commemorate my 6 month anniversary, I share a summary of all time favorite posts:

Your Favorite Recipes 

Oven Baked Chex Mix 
(what a surprise, I never expected this oven-baked recipe to drive so much traffic to my blog.)

Winter Wheat Berry Salad
(I can breath a sigh of relief. A “healthier” recipe is popular!)

One Pan Brownies 
(ahh….the healing power of chocolate)

Flat Iron Steak with Brown Sugar Rub
(so simple, so delicious)

Nina’s Coca-Cola Cake
(yes, more chocolate, and this time with thick, fudgy frosting) 

Your Favorite Lists 

10 Money-Saving Menu Ideas
(thanks to econobusters.com  for the link)

10 Ways to Feel Edgy, Irritable, and Just Plain Tired
(try it,  you won’t like it)

25 Random Acts of (mostly food) Kindness
(try it, you’ll like it)

My Favorite Recipes

Quick Vegetarian Vegetable Soup
(healthy, tasty, and filling)

Smoky Chili Non Carne
(love the smoked paprika)

Winter Chopped Salad
(just the right amount of crunch and freshness)

Arugula Pesto
(brought to you by “I can’t buy fresh basil in the wintertime”)

Tasty Lentil Soup
(a perennial favorite)

My Favorite Dog

Maggie, the animal shelter dog

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Serves 6 to 8

Judging from the popularity of Winter Wheat Berry Salad, I am offering a recipe for another whole-grain salad. This delicious dish has been part of my repertoire for over 20 years and I’ve made it many, many times. It travels well to a potluck and tastes best served at room temperature – and that’s a bonus if the weather is warm.

3 cups cooked brown rice

1  1/2 cups cooked light red kidney beans, or one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed

1  1/2 cups cooked dark red kidney beans, or one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed

1  1/2 cups frozen or canned corn kernels

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup chopped green onion, mostly green part

1/3 cup canola oil

1  1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1  1/2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste

 

In a large bowl combine the rice, beans, corn, red bell pepper and green onion. Toss to mix. In a small bowl combine the oil, vinegar, brown sugar, chili powder, cumin and salt. Whisk until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is well blended. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature, tossing occasionally for up to 4 hours before serving, or cover and refrigerate up to 3 days.

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10 Money-Saving Menu Ideas

kentucky-burgoo-2Perhaps I’m getting old, but I’m starting to feel a “pocket book” (don’t you love that word) pinch when I do my weekly grocery shopping. Last Thursday, during said trip, I reached for a jar of roasted tomato salsa that’s one of my favorites. I promptly put the jar back on the shelf when I read the price on the shelf tag. Sure, I’d pay $4.99 a jar for salsa made locally and sold at a farmer’s market, but I couldn’t bring myself to pay $4.99 for a jar of commercial salsa at Kroger that one year ago cost $2.99.  While I realize everyone from the producer, to the distributor, to the grocer is trying to make their profit, I decided to make another choice. I spent two dollars on avocados and made guacamole instead.

According to the USDA, a family of four spends approximately $80.00 more each month on groceries than 2 years ago. For most families, this increase in grocery cost does not coincide with an increase in family income.  It’s also quite possible this cost increase has occurred on the heels of  no growth in income, a decrease in income, or even job-downsizing.  I know I can’t personally control food prices, but what I can control is our family’s food costs – how much we spend on food. Here are some menu ideas for saving money without sacrificing nutrition:

1. Eat meatless more often. Meat can be the most costly item on our menus. Skillet red beans, curried chick peas, lentil soup, quick vegetarian vegetable soup, or smoky black beans appear quite a bit around here. On the nights we do eat meat, I serve a large salad, some vegetables, and bread and butter. This variety takes the focus off the expensive item and helps fill us up on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

2.  Cook breakfast for dinner AND cook from scratch for breakfast. Eggs, but not designer eggs, can be very inexpensive. Omelets, egg casseroles, or a fritattas make for a tasty, inexpensive meal. Made from scratch pancakes, French toast, or waffles can be very inexpensive as well. Boxed breakfast items are generally more expensive than their from-scratch counterparts and check out those ingredient lists on the boxes. Whoo-wee.  I can’t even pronounce half the stuff, much less do I want to eat it. No time to cook on week-mornings? Cook and freeze French toast, pancakes, or waffles on the weekend and pop them in the toaster to warm and serve. Silver Dollar Corncakes with a drizzle of syrup make a tasty alternative to traditional pancakes.

3.  Eat greens and beans . When fresh greens are not available, frozen turnip greens or frozen chopped spinach work well in most recipes. Dried beans or legumes (see #7) can be very inexpensive and quite filling.

4.  Eat homemade soup. Serve with a loaf of hearty whole-grain bread and maybe some fruit or a salad. In warmer weather consider preparing a cold, homemade soup such as gazpacho.

5.  Cook with a slow-cooker and prepare inexpensive cuts of beef such as a chuck roast. Slow-cooked pork shoulder makes tasty barbecue and leftover pork freezes beautifully for use in another meal.

6.  Eat from the freezer. You’d be surprised at how many meals are buried in your freezer just waiting to be thrown together.  Recently I used a half-bag of frozen shrimp, some frozen greens, and pasta (from the pantry – see #9) for a quick pasta and shrimp dish. It didn’t cost any additional money. I had everything I needed, even the box of pasta.

7.  Buy dried beans and cook them yourself instead of buying canned beans. Instructions for how to cook the beans are usually on the bag, or if you buy the beans in bulk, the store probably has a little card or paper with cooking instructions. Incidentally, when I cook beans I employ the quick-soak method, otherwise, the beans do need to soak in water overnight before they are cooked. I know this is not a “quick-cooking” tip, but remember, we’re talking about saving money on your menus.

8.  Make your own chicken broth from leftover roast chicken. Put the chicken carcass in a large pot along with a roughly chopped onion, 2 carrots, peeled and chopped, and a few ribs of celery chopped. Cover with cold water and simmer for about two hours.  Strain and package in 1- to 2-cup containers. Date and freeze until needed, or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

9.  Eat from your pantry. Even with menu planning on most weeks, I end up with extra food in the pantry, or maybe I went “off menu” one night and ended up not using the ingredients I purchased at the store. Use the ingredients before they expire, the cans swell, or the grain moths invade, and then you’re forced to throw the food stuff out anyway.

10. Bake brownies from scratch and make your own Chex snack mix. Ingredients such as flour, sugar, and cereal may seem like they cost more, but in the long run you’ll save money with baking from scratch because you don’t have to buy the flour, sugar, chocolate, or cereal every time. And trust me – everyone loves homemade brownies and Chex mix. And, guess what else – no strange ingredients on a mile-long ingredient list. It’s all good.

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Good Dog! Maggie

If last week I seemed strangely absent, you are correct. I was absent. But not for reasons you might expect. I wasn’t caught up in my kitchen baking and cooking away. I wasn’t furiously testing recipes for my clients. I wasn’t nose to the grindstone, reading cookbook manuscripts. I was distracted. Meet Maggie.

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Now for the back story. For about the past 6 months we have been discussing adopting a dog. We visited the local animal shelter, on a semi-regular basis, knowing when the right dog found us I would be open to adopting, and bringing home, the pooch.

Find me she did. For some strange reason I followed promptings in my head, and in my heart, and drove to the shelter alone last Monday. I arrived around 11:00 a.m. and spent time with a black and white furry dog name Nicco. He was a bouncy, large-pawed puppy. Cute, playful, and not full grown, Nicco was a little too active for my lifestyle. The dog that finds me needs to sit by my side while I write my blog and work at my computer. I returned Nicco to his pen and made my way down the row of cages where silver chain-link fence seperated me from the barking dogs. Sitting quitely in a pen, almost near the end of the row, I spied Maggie, a small blonde and white dog, who wasn’t barking. Her hair curled over her big brown eyes and her wet black nose investigated my outstretched hand. We went on a walk, I petted her belly, and it didn’t take long before I was attached to this sweet little doggie. She won my heart. Because she was already spayed, all I had to do was fill out the application, pay the fee, and Maggie was mine. 

So you see, last week, I was here doing my work, cooking for the family, playing with and walking my dog. So far, we’re adjusting to each other pretty well. She’s learning the ropes and I’m busy figuring out her routine. Right now she’s asleep in a chair across from where I’m sitting. So I apologize for my absence last week. It’s all Maggie’s fault. And, yes, we share the same name. No one around here calls me Maggie anyway. And if you call on the phone and ask for Maggie, I’ll assume you want to talk to me.

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