Friday, August 26, 2016

Snack Smart-Eat Healthy

Stock up on healthy ingredients so the right stuff is always available. Good snacks should come in around 200 calories each and contain:  
Since it is digested slowly, a protein rich snack gives you a steady stream of energy. Aim for a minimum of 3-5 grams of protein per serving.
Fiber helps slow the release of energy you get from carbohydrates. A healthy snack should have at least 3 grams per serving. Apples have healthy doses of fiber and good carbs. 
Good Carbs
Choose recipes that include  whole grains, whole oats or whole wheat flour. Fruits and vegetables  also count as healthy carbs.   

Some Suggested Healthy Snack Solutions
Pistachios are high in fiber, protein and antioxidants. 30 pistachios =100 calories. Most other nuts you only get half this amount for same calories.   
Snack Mixes
Check for these products at Target or Walmart and in some organic sections of the grocery store. 
All natural made with whole grain, high in fiber and only 120 calories per bag.

Saffron Road products come in 6 flavors  and are big on crunch, fiber and protein.
Nourish products choose among flavors, combos of granola bites. popcorn and nut mixes. 

Scrambled Egg Burrito with Avocado
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ red onion, diced
  • 4 flour or whole wheat tortillas 
  • ¼ cup salsa
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • Whisk eggs with 1 tablespoon of water to make the eggs light and fluffy. Set aside.
  • Drizzle olive oil into a skillet over medium heat, add peppers, garlic and onion and saute about 2-3 minutes until just tender. Whisk eggs one more time and pour into skillet with vegetables. Scramble eggs just until set. 
  • Divide scrambled eggs across the flour tortillas. Top with salsa and avocado slices.
  • Wrap and serve warm.
Check out this link to some of the best smoothie recipes ever from BHG

Cherry Almond Smoothie
Recipe serves 3-4 each serving 98 calories with 3 g. fiber, 5.5 grams protein
  • 2 cups unsweetened frozen dark cherries
  •  1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • one 6 oz. Greek plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 small banana peeled , cubed
  • Combine in a blender and blend until smooth
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Thursday, August 25, 2016

It's Thursday-Fire Up The Grill

Enjoy summer cookout time with these delicious sides. 

Balsamic Roasted Broccoli and Cherry Tomatoes
Recipe serves: 4

  • 2 bunches of broccoli, separated into florets,stems removed
  • 2 TB. Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Lemon Olive Oil 
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1- 1/2 TB. Balsamic vinegar 
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • fresh basil leaves, snipped
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  • In a bowl coat tomatoes and broccoli with oil.
  • Spread mixture on baking sheet.  Place diced garlic cloves among tomatoes and  broccoli. 
  • Sprinkle mixture with balsamic vinegar, pepper and oregano. Roast  about 14 minutes or until broccoli is lightly browned. Add in basil leaves last few minutes of baking time. 
Mediterranean Herb Potato Salad
Cook's notes: Potatoes that are infused with Mediterranean flavors of oregano and thyme. Toss the potatoes in the dressing while still warm so that they can absorb more of the aromatic flavor.
Recipe adapted from and serves 4. 
  • 1 pound small red potatoes, quartered
  • 2 TB. olive oil or Lemon Olive Oil
  • 1 TB. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. oregano leaves
  • 1 tsp. thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  •  2 TB. drained capers
  • Bring potatoes and water to cover to boil in medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low; simmer 10 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender. Drain well.
  • Mix oil, vinegar, oregano, parsley and thyme in large bowl until well blended. Add warm potatoes; toss to coat. Add tomatoes and capers; toss gently to coat.
  • Serve immediately.

Caramel Ice Cream Torte with Toasted Almonds
Recipes comes from
Cook's notes: I loved the ease of this recipe that uses only three ingredients-ice cream, caramel sauce and toasted almonds.  Be sure to use good quality ice cream.  
Cooking tip: For easier removal from pan, run a sharp knife under hot water and then in the inside of the springform pan before removing the outer pan edge.   
  • Press ½ gallon (4 pints) softened vanilla ice cream into a 9-inch springform pan. Freeze until slightly firm, one hour. Depending on the size of your pan you may need more ice cream. 
  • Top with 1 cup caramel sauce (slightly warmed, if too thick) and ½ cup toasted sliced almonds. Freeze until firm, several hours and up to 2 days. To serve, remove from pan and slice.
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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Turn the Heat Down- Cool Off with a Salsa Dish

Take advantage of seasonal produce, try on of these salsas.
Blueberry-Peach Salsa
Cook's notes: Peach Salsa is a versatile condiment that can be used in a variety of ways; served over pork or chicken, as an appetizer with goat cheese or warmed Brie. Recipe adapted from Southern Living July 2014

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 large peaches, peeled and diced
  • 3 Tb. minced shallots or red onion
  • 3 TB. fresh basil
  • 3 TB. fresh chives
  • 3 TB. hot pepper jelly
  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • Coarsely chop half of the blueberries and toss with whole blueberries.
  • Add remaining ingredients, salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Cover salsa and let set at room temperature 30 minutes for flavors to meld, serve or cover and chill up to 4 hours.
  • Use a slotted spoon to serve salsa.

Peach, Corn and Avocado Salsa

Peach and Watermelon Salsa
Cook's notes:For a change of pace, try a fresh fruit salsa with lightly sweetened tortilla chips at your next cookout. The no-cook salsa is also great as a refreshing topper for simply grilled fish or chicken.
Serves: Makes 4 servings (1/4 cup salsa and 8 chips each). Recipe adapted from McCormick

  • 2 cup chopped peeled peaches
  • 2 cup chopped seeded watermelon
  • 6 TB. orange juice
  • 1-2 TB. chopped fresh basil
  • 2 TB. finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme leaves 
  • 2 TB. sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 6 flour tortillas, (6-inch)
  • For the salsa, mix all peaches, watermelon, juice, basil, red onion and thyme in medium bowl until well blended. Cover. Refrigerate 30 minutes to blend flavors.
  • For the chips, preheat oven to 375 degrees and mix sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Spray tortillas lightly with no stick cooking spray. Cut each into 8 wedges. Place on baking sheet. Sprinkle wedges with cinnamon sugar mixture.
  • Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until crisp. Cool completely on wire rack. Serve with Peach Watermelon Salsa.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Early Autumn Salad

Wild Rice Salad with Apples, Celery and Cranberries 
Cook's notes: This salad comes from the General Store Cafe of Minnetonka, MN. It's a gluten free recipe featured in Eat and Explore Minnesota Cookbook and Travel Guide.  Use only enough dressing to moisten salad. Any extra dressing can be used the next day on left over salad.  Recipe serves four.
Cooking tip: 1 cup uncooked wild rice = 4 cups cooked wild rice  
Dressing Ingredients:
  • 6 TB. white balsamic vinegar or Cranberry Pear Balsamic
  • 4 TB. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lemon Olive Oil or Blood Orange Olive Oil  
  • 2 small garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 4 TB. honey 
  • 2 TB. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. grated orange or lemon peel  
  • Dash of salt
Salad Ingredients:
  • 4 cups cooked wild rice
  • 1-1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup red apple, diced  (with skin on) 
  • 1 cup green apple, diced (with skin on)
  • 3 TB. sunflower seeds or 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries or cran-raisins
  • optional adding red or green grapes
Dressing Directions:
  • Add all ingredients in a blender  and mix well. 
Salad Directions:
  • Pour 1 cup boiling water over dried cranberries,let sit 10 minutes and drain water. 
  • Mix cooked rice with celery, apples, nuts and cranberries.
  • Add enough dressing to moisten salad. Refrigerate 2-4 hours covered. Just before serving add more dressing if needed.  
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Monday, August 22, 2016

Deconstructing a Recipe

Food Term 'deconstruction'
When it comes to food, "deconstruction" — a riff on the term coined by French philosopher Jacques Derrida — it refers to the idea of breaking apart elements traditionally combined together to make a dish, and serving the items separately in a unique way.
An example would be

deconstructed beef stew where the beef, liquid, vegetables, and potato are isolated and served in an unconventional presentation.  Or it can be taking a dish apart and reforming it in a different way.

But often the cooking term is applied to a dish reformed using scientific methods like emulsifiers and foams and 'airs' and all sorts of weird textures. They break a meal down to it's 'core' and twist it around and make it different so you look at it in a new light. So a cheese is no longer cheese – it is a foam or a crisp something strange like that. 

Today's post:Deconstructing a Recipe
Cook's notes: This is my take on deconstruction. I found this recipe on Pinterest Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake
The picture shows a luscious lemony, fluffy and creamy cake. In fact so good when I pinned it on my board recipes to try several people inquired if I had tried it. So always up for a cooking challenge I took up the task of deconstructing Sally's three pages of ingredients and directions to a manageable number to make this luscious looking cake.  In the process I found it necessary to streamline directions and make adaptations to cake but particularly for the frosting. While my efforts produced a lovely and very tasty cake (what's not to like about lemons and blueberries) it did not resemble the above Pinterest picture.  
I decreased the amount of lemon juice and zest used in the cake recipe and the amount of cream cheese and butter used in the frosting from original recipe. I have yet to figure out how adding lemon juice and lemon zest to batter would produce almost a lemon curd look in the Pinterest cake picture. The batter was just the right amount for two cake pans rather than suggested three cake pans. Cooking tip: do not over measure your flour as it will result in heavy, dense textured crumb. 
Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake
Cake Ingredients:
  • 1-1/2 sticks of butter and 1/2 stick of margarine (total 1 cup) softened to room temperature 
  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  •  1/2 cup brown sugar
  •  4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 TB. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. almond extract 
  • 3 cups sifted all purpose flour (spoon and leveled) or for a lighter crumb you can use 3 + 1/4 cups sifted cake flour instead
  • 1 TB. Saigon cinnamon or 1-1/2 tsp. regular cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (no substitution) 
  • zest and juice of 2 medium sized lemons
  • 1-1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not thaw)
  • 1 TB flour mixed with a sprinkle of cinnamon   
Frosting Ingredients:
  • 4 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 3 TB. butter, softened to room temperature 
  • 3 -1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 TB heavy cream or half and half
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
Cake Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use cooking spray to grease 2- 9 inch cake pans. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl beat butter and margarine until creamy about 1 minute. Add in sugars beat until creamed, then adding in eggs, vanilla and almond extract.  Beat mixture a full 2 minutes.
  • In another bowl toss together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Slowly add dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Beat on low speed for 5 seconds.  Add the buttermilk, lemon zest and juice. Stir lightly until everything is just combined. 
  • Toss blueberries with 1 TB. flour and cinnamon. Fold into batter. Batter is thick do not over mix.
  • Divide batter among 2 pans. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.    
Frosting Directions: 
  • Beat cream cheese, butter, lemon zest and vanilla extract for 2 minutes. Add in powdered sugar and cream. Use more cream if needed to get frosting the right spreading consistency.  
  • Frost cake and refrigerate until frosting sets about 1 hour. Then place a few toothpicks in cake and lightly cover with foil and refrigerate until serving.  
To substitute cake flour for all-purpose flour use 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour for every cup of all-purpose flour.
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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Weekend Round-Up

Best Fruit Salad of the Week
Mojito Fruit Salad
Cook's notes::Mojito Fruit Salad is a fresh fruit salad tossed with a minty sugar/lime mixture with a little rum for a kick.  It's versatile using any kind of fruits such as watermelon, cantaloupe, honey dew, red grapes, and blueberries. You could even leave the rum out and to make a non alcoholic fruit salad. 
5 Easy Salmon Recipes
Salmon Tacos with Mango Salsa
Best New Easy Apple Slab Pie Recipe
Apple Slab Pie with Maple Icing
Cook's notes: Make apple slab pie baking easier by substituting 2 refrigerated pie crust discs for homemade pie crust.
Best Weekend Meal 
Tomato Galette with Italian Sausage and Goat Cheese
Cook's notes: A savory dish that serves four. It's perfect for using summer produce. 
Best New Cookbook Travel Read

Eat and Explore Minnesota Cookbook and Travel Guide is one of the home state cookbook series from Great American Publishers. It explores the state of Minnesota's favorite festivals, celebrations, landmarks and unique destinations. Each page features a regional recipe. 

Follow this link to discover what other state books are included in the series. 
JoAnne found the perfect gift for me who enjoys discovering new destinations and trying regional recipes. I was pleasantly surprised Hyde-A-Way Bay Resort Hackensack, MN was featured in the book. They submitted a French Dip Sandwich recipe.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Cedar Planks 101

Cook's notes:
Plank grilling gives salmon the flavor imparted by a smoker with the convenience of a grill. It is a simple and elegant technique for cooking salmon.The fish steams gently in the heat of the grill, staying incredibly tender and moist. It also picks up smoky flavors from the grill and woodsy flavors from the cedar, along with whatever was used to soak the planks. You can find the planks at some grocery stores with well-stocked grill sections, cookware stores or your local hardware store. 
What You Need
A grill 
Several cedar planks

Plank Tips 101:
Be sure to prepare your wood properly to increase moisture for cooking and prevent burning. Take these steps to prepare your wooden grilling plank:
  • Rinse the plank with water to remove any dust.
  • Fill a sink or other large container with water.
  • Submerge the plank in the water, placing a weight on top of it. Soak the plank for 1 to 4 hours.
  • Enhance the plank's flavor by adding 1 tablespoon salt to the water. If desired, you may also stir in 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, wine, citrus or berry juice, or flavored liqueur to add more flavorI will admit when I read the wine part I quickly decided serving wine with dinner was a much better plan than soaking a plank in it! But just my opinion:)
Lemon and Dill Salmon
  • Salmon fillets, ideally with the skin on
  • Olive oil to coat
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lemon juice and zest
  • Minced fresh dill or a sprinkle of dried dill and dried parsley flakes
  • water, wine, flavored liqueur or cider for soaking planks
  • Soak the Cedar Planks in water, wine or cider for about two to four hours. Weight planks down in water and turn once or twice. 
  • Heat the grill to about 350°F or a medium heat-setting.
  • Lightly grease the planks with vegetable oil. 
  • Lay the salmon skin-side down on top of the cedar planks. Brush salmon with melted butter and sprinkle with dried dill and parsley flakes. 
  • Squirt salmon with a little lemon juice and place 2 or 3 lemon slices on top.
  • Cook for 12 - 15 minutes: Start checking the salmon for doneness after about 12 minutes. Small fillets will cook more quickly than larger cuts. The salmon is done when it is uniformly pink in the center.
  • Transfer the salmon on the planks to a cutting board or baking sheet. Use a thin spatula to gently separate the skin from the salmon. The skin should stick to the boards and separate easily.
Additional Notes:
  • Cedar planks can be re-used until they become overly charred, cracked, or impossible to clean. Just scrub off the skin as you would any other dish and allow them to dry until their next use.
  • If desired, you can run the cooked salmon under the broiler for a few minutes to give the top a burnished color.
  • Though salmon is commonly cooked on a wood plank you can also use meat, other fish or vegetables. It’s a good idea to keep the lid closed as much as possible to stabilize temperatures and maximize smoke. It is recommended to sear meats and some vegetables prior to placing it on the plank to caramelize the outside and lock in the flavor.
  • When cooking on a plank, food does not have to be turned during grilling. Keep a spray bottle of water handy to tame any flames that start to burn the plank.
Hot and Tangy Pan Roasted Corn
Cook's notes:  Make this now while corn and tomatoes are at their peak.  Pan roasted corn is the perfect side for salmon. And was this corn ever fresh! I bought it from a farmer at roadside stand. The recipe serves 2 but quantities can easily be increased. 
Recipe from Minneapolis Star Tribune Taste Section August 18, 2016 
  • 5-6 ears of fresh corn
  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • 1/4  cup sweet onions, diced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  •  1-2 TB. lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup diced cherry tomatoes
  • 2 TB. chopped fresh basil
  • Use a sharp paring knife to strip the kernels from the corn. A trick that works is using a bundt pan. Place corn cub in center hole of bundt pan and then remove kernels. 
  • Use a fry pan and heat olive oil. Place corn and diced onions in pan and saute for about 4 minutes on a medium heat. Sear the corn shaking the pan occassionally and stirring until lightly browned.
  • Add in pepper flakes, lemon juice, chopped tomatoes and basil. Heat through 1 minute.  


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