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Posts tagged “food

Chicken Cordon Bleu Scramble

We all need something to put the steam in our engine for the entire day, so I encourage everyone to try this to give you powerful protein-filled strength tomorrow morning.

The term “cordon bleu” refers to the highest rank of knights instituted by King Henri III of France in 1578.  These knights wore a sash of blue to distinguish themselves and this simple breakfast will bolster you with all the fortitude of which those cordon bleu knights ever dreamed.

In just five minutes you can strengthen you day with these few ingredients:

  • one egg, whisked
  • 2 oz. diced grilled chicken breast
  • 2 oz. diced cooked ham
  • 1 oz. diced or shredded Swiss cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish with fresh spinach

Get a small skillet and pour a whisper of olive oil in and get the heat going until little ripples can be seen in the oil.  Add your meats.  Get them good and warm. Add the egg and the cheese and scramble it all together until the eggs are set.  Shut the flame and let the heat of the pan gently melt the Swiss cheese.  Stir in a tiny pat of butter to finish and tumble it all onto your plate and season to taste.

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This is one of those dishes with that great idiot-proof factor.  No matter your cooking skills, this one can be done on the fly with nothing but the tastiest of results.  If ham, or meat for that matter, isn’t your thing, play around.  Use mushrooms and onions.  Try beef or veal.  You can’t go wrong.  Don’t like cheese?  Use roasted peppers and garlic. What ever you choose, you will have a blue ribbon winning breakfast and the energy of the highest appointed knight to fuel your morning.

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Paleo Pork Fried Rice

It is well known that when one combines carbs and fat regularly in the diet, one tends to gain girth.  Think of the delectable donut…flour and water, fried in grease then glazed with sugar.  Probably the worst food ever; bereft of nutrition but oh so tasty!

Think of pork fried rice.  It consists of a starch fried in grease like the donut without the sugar coating.  Instead, there is some meat and a little vegetation with the carrots, onion.  This is a better food than donuts but still that starch and grease combination is a recipe for putting on the pounds.

A friend told me recently you can purchase cauliflower in rice form today.  I have never seen it where I shop but I traditionally stick to the perimeter of the store where all the natural foods live.  Processed foods can be found by the tons up and down the the aisles.  In my friends description she said this  cauliflower rice is simply shredded.  Well, I happened to have a beautiful head of cauliflower on the counter and I shredded it myself and made a big mixing bowl full of what ended up looking like a fluffy bowl of rice.  No cooking, measuring, timing or turning the kitchen into a steam sauna was required.

Cauliflower is very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol, it is also a good source of Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Potassium and Manganese; a super food.  This is why it is such a great substitute in making a much healthier version of my favorite Chinese delectation.  Six ingredients simmered in a skillet about ten minutes and we’re there but without the carbolicious guilt.  Here’s what you need:

  • 1 head of shredded lightly salted cauliflower
  • 2 or so tbsp. Bacon grease
  • 1 medium shredded carrot
  • 3 fresh sprigs chopped chives
  • several strips of bacon, crumbled
  • soy sauce to taste

Truly, all  you do is heat the first five ingredients until everything is tender.  A little splash of water helps if the vegetables need the steam.  I add the soy sauce last for that hit of Asian zing.

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I hope you get the opportunity to try this healthy version of fried “rice” with tons more nutrition, way less of that horrible carb/fat combination and all the deliciousness you desire.  You could make any version you like, either plain or with beef or shrimp too.  Have fun!

 


Just Put It Out There

It’s the weekend, you’ve got to go places and get things done.  Wake up a little early and enjoy the peace of morning while you quietly prep this beautiful fruit salad.  100_1851

  • Peel and dice one ripe mango
  • Peel and supreme slice one orange with the juice
  • cut up 6 or 7 strawberries in chunks
  • cut 1 cup red grapes in halves
  • garnish with fresh sprigs of mint

It will be there in its colorful, healthy, fruity, sparkling splendor when everyone gets up. It goes great with home made yogurt if you happen to have some. Now go relax. Breakfast, done!


What! Low Carb Pancakes?

The hubby and I are on a diet because well, we got fat.  I have a sedentary job…admin type; and working in a church, the heavily carb  fat laden pot-lucks are endless.   Hubby is a cop and yes, donuts happen too (worst food ever).

It wasn’t until I went to give blood at a drive that I discovered my blood pressure to be quite high. High enough to be turned away.  The shame was unbearable.

I was agitated with my daughter’s tween angst about something when I left the house and had a huge flight of stairs to climb just before turning left into the blood drive place.  That may have made things worse but still, I had never had a blood pressure problem before.   I decided that day to do something about it.  Not in favor of being advised to go on medication, I turned to diet and exercise

I kept checking on my pressure as I made huge changes in my diet.  A very low carb plan got me results quickly without much sacrifice.  Turns out, fat in the diet is good!  Bread and sugar not so much.  It took a few days to detox the sugar/starch out of my body but once that happened, I lost the cravings for sweets, bread, starchy food like potatoes etc.

I have been able to eat bacon and eggs with butter, steak and many other natural meats, cream, lots of greens, mushrooms, olives, pickles, nuts and seeds and have lost 43 pounds since October. My pressure is currently back to my usual 110/70.

It was a fun affair with cheesecake, chips and chocolate but I wish to last long enough to see my youngest one graduate, marry and have kids.

I did find a way to enjoy a pancake breakfast with zero guilt and when ever I do get a sweet tooth this is what I do:

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 packet non-sugar sweetener (Equal works for me)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream

Combine the ingredients except the cream in a small bowl and mix until smooth.  A mini processor works great, but a fork and a bit of elbow grease can also get the job done.

Heat a griddle or cast iron pan and coat it with the oil. Pour the batter into the desired sized pancake and  wait for the edges to lose their glossiness, about a minute.  Take a peek with a spatula if you need.  When golden brown give them a flip, shut off the flame and let the griddle’s built-up heat brown the other side.

They don’t respond like traditional pancakes but if your spatula is wide enough they will turn without tearing.

When they are done, plate them up and splash a bit of heavy cream over them.  There is a traditional Mexican cake called “Tres Leches”  that really reminds me of how these pancakes taste…so decadent with only 4 grams of carbs per serving and this makes several 3″ diameter pancakes which could feed two.

Flour based pancakes net a whopping 30 grams of carbs per serving!  My sister diva Eva Gabor  might say, “Goodbye high carb  life, low carb pancakes are here!”  Bah da  ba dum  bum…bum bum!

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Go with Your Gut

These days there is a much concern about healthy gut bacteria.  It’s great when you can defend yourself  against certain food born bacteria and a good defense is eating fermented food to help balance the good and bad bacteria floating around in you.

Even if it’s not bugs of the holidays, with all the over processed food conveniently available our guts don’t stand a chance taking on a chemical warfare of flavor enhancers, anti caking agents, and colorants as well.  Time to hit the reset button!  We need to turn to the things Grandma and Grandpa used to do; that is to say, get back to the basics in our everyday food preparation.100_1493

There are a lot of products available at the supermarket and the drug store to help bolster that healthy gut bacteria; things like yogurt, kefir, kombucha and probiotic pills.  These things are expensive!  Except for the pills, 100_1506these things can be cultured at home but all one really needs to feed their gut the good stuff is a head of cabbage and some salt.

It is  a week long process to culture these healthy bacteria already living on your head of cabbage: Leuconostoc mesenteroides, Lactobacillus brevis, Pediococcus pentosaceus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus bavaricus.  All of this can be had for about forty cents.  You just have to like sour kraut.  Even if you don’t, you might like the fresh stuff because the taste and texture is far superior to anything store bought.

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First, you’ll need a good knife, a small mouthed quart Mason jar and a standard pickle jar that has been thoroughly cleaned. Next, chop a head of cabbage into thin strips, cutting lengthwise then cutting one half at a time into 1/8th inch shreds.  In a gallon size freezer bag sprinkle two teaspoons non-iodized salt over the shredded cabbage, seal it with as little air as possible and pound it with your fist or a can of soup or a heavy sauce pan..what ever you like to use.  Take out a measure of frustration on this cabbage until you notice it rendering some juice.

100_1515It will take a bit of time to stuff as much cabbage as possible into the mason jar from the bag but do so until you see the level of juice rise.  After releasing your frustration you will have the patience to persevere. Keep stuffing until the juice rises all the way to the top of the cabbage. 100_1518Stuff, stuff, stuff! Take a rest if the juice isn’t there yet.  After a few minutes the salt will help render enough to cover the cabbage.  If it’s not happening after ten minutes or so, a splash of non chlorinated water is all it should take to cover the cabbage.  Almost an entire average head of cabbage will fit in the jar.

Invert the clean pickle jar over the mason jar and you will have created the perfect fermenting vessel.  It will keep out dust and other unwanted air born stuff yet let carbon dioxide gas escape without blowing up on your counter.  That’s it!  All you have to do now is wait about a week, maybe more if you like a mushier product.  You can taste it along the way to check your progress.

100_1523From day two to about day four, if you keep your jar at around 72 °F, you will notice bubbles increasing on the surface each day then diminishing the rest of the week.  Those first four days the fermentation is in high gear.  It continues but the kraut becomes more mellow and a bit softer in the last four days.  You don’t want it to go so far as to get it too mushy or the good bacteria will have languished, thus, the product is less beneficial.

It is important for the cabbage to be covered in liquid and press out all air bubbles.  If air gets to the cabbage it may oxidize and turn brown.  Having a little brown does not mean a total fail.  Just remove the oxidized pieces, place a tight lid on and refrigerate after the 8 days.  It will still be perfectly edible.

Our grandparents and ancestors from all countries did these things to preserve food to survive harsh winters.  Want to be tough like them?  It takes guts!  So take care of yours with your own special recipe for sauerkraut.100_1531

 

 

 

 


Glam the Leftovers

There are usually some leftovers when I cook.  Not the meal very often but its components.  For example, today I have about 4 cups of cubed and cooked potatoes in a tub in the refrigerator left from last week. They are running out of time. This seems like a place to start so I look around for other additions that will turn into a pot of something good.

I always keep carrots, olive oil and spices around.  In my dehydrated stores, mushrooms are a wonderful umami booster to any dish. There has been a leek in the crisper for a while the tops looking a little shabby.   In the fridge also is some milk I must use up and a tub of sour cream with a couple of nice dollops that need to go away before it’s too late.  Not sounding very glamorous is it?

Well, here’s how we’ll put the glam to the pan:

100_1486Clean, slice and sauté  a leek (an onion will also do) in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until soft and slightly golden on some pieces.  Add the cooked potato cubes and go over them with a potato masher until coarsely but evenly mashed.  Stir in about 5 cups milk (I had whole milk),  add 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.  Also add spices you like.  I used parsley flakes for a hint of greenery and coriander for a hot and lemony hit. A pinch of red pepper flakes adds 100_1490nice heat if you like that.  I do!  

This needs to be simmered until it bubbles a bit and while we wait for that use a carrot peeler and slice a medium carrot with it to make ultra thin slices.  It whiles away the time it takes for the soup to bubble and adds beautiful color to the pot. Those dehydrated mushrooms I mentioned come into play here.  I grab a few slices and crush them in my hand and add the flakes to the pot.  You can’t see them much but you sure will taste the mellow earthy goodness they impart.

100_1482Once everything has a chance to simmer and blend flavors it’s time to add a bit more creaminess. It’s time to close off the flame so the dairy components won’t break and look grainy. Those dollops of sour cream are just the touch.  If you happen to have some regular cream, a shot of that will add more richness.  Just stir it and let it melt right in. As a final touch that adds that Je’ ne sais quoi (that’s how a diva says “I don’t know what”) a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese gives everything a sharper taste.  Don’t add too much or the secret will be revealed.  You want just enough to have people try to guess what that great (or grated) taste is.  Another ingredient that does that in tiny amounts is nutmeg.  Grate some fresh or go to your spice rack an add just a wee pinch.

In the end our leftovers have never looked and tasted better.  The refrigerator is slightly cleaner and the company at the dining room table are enjoying themselves better after raking leaves, working on the car and cleaning and cooking.  I think after all this work we’ll have to dress up for a date night tonight.  And that’s how we glam the leftovers.100_1483


Oven Fried Catfish with Homemade Tartar Sauce

I dread frying anything for two reasons.  One, the calories; even though back in my restaurant employment days the executive chef told me over and over, “Fat equals flavor.”  He wasn’t lying but I found a way around that conundrum in this recipe.

The second reason for my disinclination is the greasy mess to clean up in the end.  Why not contain the mess in a pan rather than wipe down a multitude of surfaces including the range hood.  I can do without all the acrobatics this late in the evening.

100_1468A while ago I found a super deal on catfish nuggets at the store.  It was locally caught and freshly frozen…I could tell, so I jumped on a five pound bag of those babies.  About one and a half pounds were gently thawed in the microwave then placed in a container of milk to soak.  In the food processor I pulsed about a cup of corn bread stuffing mix with a tablespoon of butter and a glug or two of olive oil.  I added another 2/3 cup of crispy panko 100_1469breadcrumbs into a large enough plastic bag where I combined all the crumbs.  The fish was dropped into the bag in batches and shook until well coated then laid out skin-side-down in a baking pan (and a pie plate because there was more than I thought).

With an oven preheated to 450°F, I let the fish bake for about 25 minutes.  Without the fuss of turning and possibly getting burned from popping grease, I removed the fish from the oven and let them cool down slightly.

While they cooled I quickly whipped up a tasty tartar sauce to accompany this crispy delight with the following:

  • 100_14784 round tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp tarragon, freshly chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely minced red onion
  • 1 tbsp sweet pickle relish
  • salt and pepper to taste

As I plated up dishes for the family the fish was very delicate and flaky, not over greasy.  Because of the butter and oil I added to the crumbs, they toasted up nicely and tasted like grandma’s deep south recipe; all the flavor of fried fish.  As a bonus this diva doesn’t have to worry about an extra 120 or so calories.  It’s been a good day.

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