Sunday, 1 February 2015
Busy, busy, busy...right?
It's time to do an annual review of a classic dish, with a spin. I am reminding you about both the simplicity and elegance of a quiche. This versatile dish can be served as breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or appetizer.
It can be as complicated as making a homemade crust in a specialized quiche pan, with imported cheses and multi-prep of additional fillings.
Or--you can use a premade, frozen 9" deep dish pie crust and scrounge the refrigerator and freezer and find great additions with minimal prep time.
My quiche today is the latter. I wanted a quiche available in the refrigerator, from which I could take slices and microwave as a substantive breakfast/brunch in between shoveling snow! And, all the ingredients were right in my refrigerator and freezer!
Spinach- Spicy Sausage-Cheddar Quiche
Defrost a 9" deep dish piecrust. Crimp up the pastry lip around the edge of the pan. (see photo). Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a 2 cup measuring cup, crack 4 eggs and measure milk to make 1 and 1/2 cup total volume. Put this into a mixing bowl and whisk thoroughly. ( you'll remember that this is basic quiche and you can now add any additions you'd like to)
Put the picresut on a baking pan with a layer of aluminum foil underneath, just in case it cooks over (it shouldn't, but "just in case")
Add 1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach to the egg mixture.
Cook 3 Spicy sausage patties in the microwave as directed. Cool and dice them up Add to the mixture.
Add 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese to the egg mixture.
Add 1 Tbsp. minced onion.
Add freshly ground pepper or dash of nutmeg to taste.
Pour this mixture into the piecrust.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, until eggs are fully set.
Posted by Karen
at 10:01 CST
Updated: Sunday, 1 February 2015 10:03 CST
Wednesday, 31 December 2014
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2015
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2015 !!!
I had to go into the recipe collection for this re-post from January 2013-- because I want to make Hoppin'John for tomorrow's Brunch.
It just isn't New Year's Day without blackeyed peas and ham somewhere on the menu. For years, I'd make a crockpot-full for the Emergency Department while we worked the day shift on New Year's Day. But then I was introduced to blackeyed peas and ham in the wonderful recipe for Hoppin' John and I was a convert.
And Joe Spake's recipe for Hoppin' John is the best one to repeat!
Of course, eating blackeyed peas-and-ham is a southern tradition...and I've seen recipes for this without ham for vegetarians...same seasonings but add liquid smoke. And I've done this recipe with lentils and basmati rice and Indian seasonings, so traditions can be bent! Seasonings can be adjusted, new traditions made--after all, it's a New Year!
Here's the re-post from January 2013:
My good buddy, Joe Spake “the finest realtor in Memphis”-- has always been very liberal about sharing his wonderful recipes. I am including his very Southern recipe for “Hoppin' John” below. This is a “must do” for January—start the new year off right!Joe will tell you to serve over rice with cornbread!
Joe’s Hoppin’ John
1 pound dry black eyed peas
1 medium onion
1 green bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
1 can minced tomatoes and peppers (like Rotel®)
2 tsp Dry Italian seasoning
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 Tbs minced Garlic
2 tsp (or more) powdered Cajun seasoning (I like Konriko)
Tabasco Sauce to taste
4-6 cups cooked rice.
Wash and sort peas and soak in 8 cups of water for 8 hours, and pour off soaking water. Boil hamhock for 20 minutes. In a stock pot add all ingredients, except rice; stir, and add enough water to cover the mixture. Bring to a slow boil and cook 45 minutes, then simmer for another 30 minutes. [Note: I was taught as a child to cook until the peas literally fell apart- if you like the texture of refried beans, cook it longer than instructed.] When peas are tender, check seasons for your taste. Serve over rice, or mix in rice just before serving.
Now,of course I had to make Hoppin' John after reading his recipe and reading the accolades on his blog and FB page.
But—as usually happens—I had to modify to accommodate what I had in my pantry—and adapt a tad to my taste profile. So, here's what I ACTUALLY used.
Karen' s Hoppin' John
½ lb. Black-eyed peas, soaked overnight—Rinse, drain and then simmer in 1 quart of chicken broth with 1 can of Rotel diced tomatoes and chilis and the juice. Simmer with the lid on for a total of 2 hours. Add the ingredients below as you get them prepped.
2 tsp dried Italian seasoning blend, 1/4 (or more!) tsp cayenne pepper
½ onion, chopped, 4 cloves of garlic, minced, 1 bell green pepper, chopped, 3 stalks of celery and the leaves, chopped fine: Cook together in olive oil until soft Add to the pot.
Chop about 1 lb of precooked or leftover ham, add to pot.
When all this has simmered together, then serve over cooked, brown rice.
Posted by Karen
at 10:34 CST
Tuesday, 23 December 2014
Salute! To your Health!
Topic: Nutrition and food safety
This is what we're looking at this Holiday Season:
Widespread Influenza Activity
throughout most of the US.
It's up to you to protect yourself and your family.Likely everyone has gotten their flu shot, but it doesn't appear to be completely protective this year. So, don't let your guard down. Continue to practice good health habits and keep your immunity at peak performance. Simple things help!
Frequent Hand washing! 20 seconds with soap and water, before eating, before food prep, after using the restroom, whenever you think you've contacted a contaminated product or surface!
Cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze. Use a disposable tissue, when available, But we also teach coughing into the crook of your arm (inside elbow, avoiding the hands which will spread infective particles)
Keep those disposable tissues handy!
Don't share towels or drinks or food implements with family members who are ill
There are other commonsense things to keep you healthy:
Eat balanced diets, avoid carb-y, carryouts and excess holiday “treats”
Get enough sleep every night
Avoid self-medicating with antacids and acid-reducing over-the-counter drugs. If you are bloated, having gas, etc- it's more likely the result of a bad diet, not too much gastric acid.
I am stressing eating a balanced diet because we often neglect home food preparation when we are rushing around with holiday-related activities and shopping. We cheat ourselves by making easy choices for dinner, over-eating carbohydrates usually and missing balanced nutrtion.
Here's a couple of good ideas to stay on track between the holidays.
Keep cut up chicken available. You can quickly sprinkle a favorite pre-made herb rub on some drumsticks or chicken thighs and pop them in the oven. Baked chicken is always a winner.
Bake a little boneless turkey breast or turkey roast for dinner and have sliced turkey for sandwiches the next day.
Consider running into a supermarket for a rotisierrie chicken and salads from the deli if you are truly crunched for time—instead of going through the drive-in lane for dinner.
Think color—does your final plate have at least 3 of these: carrots, sweet potatoes, red and black beans, corn, green beans, zucchini, salad greens, cooked greens? Remember, we are fortunate to have access to these in the frozen food section of the store—AND—if you buy these frozen vegetable items without sauces or other preparations, they are very affordable. Add your own dried herb blends (sprinkle dill weed or Italian herb blend with a little butter) and save a bunch of money.
Some photos of “quick” dinners. These require no prep time, just heat, bake or microwave--or open the deli container:
Your Hot dog dinner has 3 different salads:
Your Veggie Burger (find in frozen food section)--add deli salads or frozen mixed vegetables and baked beans:
Your Ham slices and quick sides:
Your Baked chicken, stuffed mushrooms and salad from the deli:
Posted by Karen
at 12:42 CST
Updated: Tuesday, 23 December 2014 12:43 CST
Friday, 21 November 2014
Perfect Soup for a Wintry Day
Topic: Harvest Hills Farm activity
Once upon a wintery Autumn...
Unseasonably early, bitter, winter-style weather has hit most of the country. Jo Daviess County is no exception. Many autumnal plans and expectations have gone undone. We're feeding hay to the sheep, cattle and horses since the grass is frozen and under a snow cover. We might get a reprieve in the next week or two but, for the most part, Autumn is gone for the year.
The kale froze, I hoped for fresh kale from the garden for Thanksgiving, as well as other greens—that would have been a plan in the usual year. Thankfully, all the winter squash and pumpkins were pulled in before the deep freezing began. And I potted up a couple of Rosemary plants to keep going indoors for fresh cuttings, one of the few herbs that don't work as well when dried.
I'm happy that I chose to prep and freeze so many peppers when they were abundant. And that my sister decided one Summer afternoon to pick and prep, bread and fry, then freeze, some of our eggplant to make a future “eggplant parmesan,” with our homemade canned marinara sauce, along with some dried herbs from the garden.
We have two types of “refrigerator pickles” in the refrigerator from a couple of Summer afternoon quick and fun projects. Apple filling was made from our apples and frozen during one of those late Summer afternoons, too! Thinking about all of the food projects we accomplished during the Summer, you might think we anticipated this weather!
Now, this dismal, chilling weather calls for cooking. And a homey, humble --but protein- and vitamin-packed-- soup should be on the stove.
Why not plan a pot of Beef and Vegetable Soup that's quick and hearty?
Beef and Vegetable Soup
1 lb. Chuck, cut into bite sized pieces
(I had a 3 lb chuck pot roast, used 1 lb for the soup and rest as a pot roast)
Saute in 1-2 Tbsp olive oil with ½ tsp chopped garlic until browned.
Add: 1 large stalk celery, diced
3 medium carrots, sliced
1 cup deveined and chopped kale leaves
28 oz. can petite diced tomatoes and the juice
(you can also substitute a 14.5 oz. can of tomatoes and 16 oz. beef broth, if you prefer)
1 quart of water
1 tsp. each: salt, onion powder, dried basil (or Italian blend herbs), dried parsley, dried thyme
Several grinds of black pepper
Add: 1 bay leaf, but remember to remove from soup before serving.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to low simmer and cover. Simmer at least an hour until meat and vegetables are tender. Add additional water as needed. Adjust seasonings as desired.
Posted by Karen
at 13:26 CST
Updated: Friday, 21 November 2014 13:30 CST
Saturday, 8 November 2014
Lower Carb Baked Apple Pancakes
Topic: Nutrition and food safety
I want, I want, I want...
Go ahead--there are less than 25 grams of carbohydrates (and no faux sweeteners !) in this plate of Baked Apple Pancakes, your serving size. And if you add a couple of sausage links or bacon strips, you won't add any more carbohydrates.
How difficult it is to face cold weather and hard work and crave those carbohydrates! But, it's also the time of the year when we have to really work to FORCE ourselves to minimize weight gain and temptations.
That means it's time to remind ourselves of the need to minimize carbohydrates as much as possible.
What happens when you eat carbohydrates (which are sugars and starches)? They are quickly absorbed and immediately stimulate insulin release in order to reduce the high blood sugars and osmotic load in your blood stream. Insulin then causes the carbohydrates you are not immediately using for energy to be converted to fat for future use. And those fat stores can be used for energy in the future, if you ever decide you want to spend your extra time on a treadmill to burn those new fat stores up. Otherwise, if you do not break the cycle of eating more carbohydrates than you need, you continue to gain fat.
It gets worse, of course, the body becomes resistant to converting excess carbohydrates and storing giant amounts of fat, your body becomes "insulin resistant" over time and you are then at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, a national problem.
How to reverse? Stop the carbohydrate overload! Look seriously into the foods you eat. There's really no reason to consume more than 25 grams of carbohydrate at a meal and you probably don't need more than 40-50 grams of carbohydrate all day. You DO need fats and protein, fiber (non-absorbed is not counted as a carbohydrate), natural sources of vitamins and minerals, that can readily be supplied by eating non-sugar and starch-laden foods. These would be supplied in meats, fish, poultry, and plants, predominantly vegetables.
So, are you craving those Baked Apple Pancakes?
Try this recipe. If you notice, there is very little sugar and flour, yet it's nutritious and protein-rich because each serving has 2 eggs in it! It's a good way to start to cut out carbs. And, I promise to post more of our low carb favorite recipes this holiday season.
Baked Apple Pancakes
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prep a 6- muffin tin with spray oil.
Beat 4 eggs intil fluffy. Add 1/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup flour, a dash of salt and a couple drops of vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, combine 1 apple, diced with 1 teaspoon butter or butter and canola blend. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Allow a couple minutes to cool.
Stir into the apples: 1 tablespoon pure cane sugar and cinnamon to taste (1/4 tsp?).
Meanwhile, divide egg mixture into the 6 muffin tin. Then divide the apple mixture into the 6 Put it in the oven.
It will puff up like souffles do and separate from the edges. Also, like souffles, note that they will shrink upon cooling, so expect it.
Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. Then remove and plate, sprinkle with powdered sugar (this plate about 1 tsp. of powdered sugar)--add a mug of coffee or tea, maybe a couple of sausage links or bacon and this is one great Sunday breakfast!
And a great start for your LOWER CARB plan coming in at about 25 grams of carbohydrates in the 3 "puffcakes" that constitute 1 serving size, with the powdered sugar on. If it's your "big carb" meal of the day, you won't be disappointed.
Posted by Karen
at 09:12 CST
Updated: Saturday, 8 November 2014 09:18 CST
Saturday, 11 October 2014
Frosty Mornings and Hoppin' John
Did you wake up to a scene like this?
There's frost covering the grass, trees, lawn chairs and table. While this will be melted off in a couple of hours, the rest of the day will still be brisk. And you likely will be filling it with fall chores like raking leaves, chopping wood, cleaning gutters...Or maybe you'll be lucky and take a wonderful hike in the woods or just take an extended walk with the dog? You won't want to be inside with this brisk, clean and fresh day facing you.
But you'll likely have a big appetite for something hearty by the end of the day. This is soup and stew weather! And if you don't want to sit indoors all day cooking, then let your crockpot work while you play outside.
You might want to try my variation on “Hoppin' John”. The traditional Hoppin' John, which I've posted on for the last two years, is a dish made for January 1st, with ham and black-eyed peas and cajun-styled seasonings, cooked in a stew pot on the stove, and is served over long-grain rice.Today's equally hearty and spicy variation uses common lentils, and is served over brown Basmati rice. Better yet, it's made in the crockpot.
Crockpot Hoppin' John with Lentils
Saute together in olive oil, until softened:
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ Spanish onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 carrot, thinly sliced (optional)
In the crockpot, add:
1 (14.5 oz) can of Rotello diced tomatoes with chilis, and the juice
1 (14.5-16 oz) can of chicken broth
1- 1.5 lb ham steak chopped (or equiv. leftover ham) chop in larger pieces, not diced.
1/3 lb. dried lentils
1 cup frozen, fresh or canned corn (I had a frozen corn, black bean,chil blend that I used)
Add the above sauteed vegetables to the crockpot.
Stir in the following seasonings:
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning blend ( or equiv basil, oregano, thyme)
1 tsp. ground Cumin
Few to several shakes of Cayenne pepper. (This is essential but your taste preferences will have to determine how much heat you like)
1 bay leaf (place at the end so you know where to find it and pull out before serving)
Don't add salt until it's cooked and you can then decide if you need more.
Let this cook for at least 6 hours on “low” , or more if you're still out of the house.
Serve “as is” or make some basmati rice and ladle the stew over it.
I used Lundgren's brown basmati rice in my rice cooker. Note that this rice has both the USDA Organic label and, in the lower right corner, a separate “verified non-GMO” label. Since so much of our rice is now GMO, it's worth looking for these labels if you are concerned about the status of the rice you're buying.
Now, curl up in front of the fire with a bowl of this unconventional stew. (I think this may become my new “traditional” Hoppin' John.)
Posted by Karen
at 10:58 CDT
Saturday, 4 October 2014
Autumn "To Do" List
Topic: Home Environment
It's Autumn and that means it's time to change our home environment and coordinate with the season. It's also time to harvest our gardens and enjoy the next several weeks between harvest time and the next seasonal holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Make a pot of chili--this "chili mac" is a variation of Cincinnati chili and has a topping of Greek yogurt for extra probiotic nutrition!
Next, bring in those pumpkins and winter squash, you might even find a really cute baby pumpkin, like I did!
Now, dig up a few herbs and re-pot as houseplants for the winter.I'll be taking some cuttings of this rosemary for roast chicken Tuscan beef during the winter!
So, let's conclude the day of Autumn "to dos" by re-decorating our homes with flowers and plantings that can tolerate the cold temperatures.
No time?--then just place potted mums in the birdbath and make a statement.
And re-decorate that front door with a new fall wreath. That's an easy switch!
Posted by Karen
at 14:46 CDT
Monday, 29 September 2014
Dinner in a Bowl
Topic: Nutrition and food safety
Do you agree that the "Dinner-in-a-Bowl" picture looks yummy?
And that it would appeal to a number of picky eaters, too--whether a fussy child or temperamental senior!
Yet this simple "dinner-in-a-bowl" contains all sorts of protein and nutrients--five different vegetables!-- and it's even lower in carbs than you might think at first glance.
Allow me to deconstruct the photo:
First we have a beautiful, over-sized bowl with a raised edge. This allows you to put ingredients that have sauces that can move around the bowl without spilling. You can slide foods into each other and co-mingle the flavors. (I know some people don't like their foods touching, so might not like this idea, but most kids and gourmands love it!).
BTW- I found 4 of these great bowls on a clearance rack at Target!
Then we have a base of mashed "potatoes", but look closely--they are NOT typical because these mashed "potatoes" are really half mashed cauliflower, and then we have baby greens added besides. So, even your picky eaters will never object to eating this combination, presented this way. I cook equal portions of cut-up potatoes with fresh cauliflower florets together in the same pot until done, then drain and mash together with butter, salt and pepper. Extra milk isn't necessary because of the retained liquid in the cauliflower. Finally add a good handful or two of tender, fresh baby greens and stir in to blend. If using larger leaves, simply chop them into smaller pieces so the heat from the potatoes and cauliflower will wilt them and soften.
Next, we have a slow-cooked, grassfed beef roast--simply prepared in the crockpot, covered with 1 can of French onion soup or beef consomme (undiluted). Remove the roast to a serving dish, slice or rough cut into chunks, depending on the type of roast used. I have a pot roast above. Whisk about 1 rounded Tbsp of flour to thicken the reamining juices,using the High setting of the crockpot, cooking until just barely thickened.
Finally take the opportunity to add one more vegetable blend, maybe something simple like the peas and carrots shown in the picture.
You have now served your family meat and potatoes--but with such a nutritious twist that they have 5 different vegetables in that bowl with their delicious beef.
And I'll bet everyone's plates are empty when the table is cleared.
Posted by Karen
at 12:04 CDT
Updated: Monday, 29 September 2014 12:30 CDT
Thursday, 11 September 2014
Hungarian Mushroom Soup
Fall Is Showing Up Early
At least in northwestern Illinois, that is. It's brisk, cloudy, and chilly. Of course, the 46 degree morning temperature provides a great excuse to put the first fire in the fireplace.
And it's also an excuse to make a pot of soup, made all the better by including some Super-Foods. Mushrooms are a favorite because they are great sources of B vitamins and one of the highest natural sources of selenium and have that unique flavor property referred to as Unami.
This time I chose to make a pot of Hungarian Mushroom Soup. It has unexpected paprika and dillweed in its creamy broth, and is sure to be a favorite lunch on the chilly days we can all expect in the coming Fall season.
Hungarian Mushroom Soup
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ large onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
Saute together in a heavy soup pot until cooked and tender.
Then add 1 LB. Sliced fresh mushrooms and saute with above until cooked.
Add the following seasonings:
1 tsp. Spanish paprika
2 tsp. dried dillweed (or equiv. fresh)
1 tsp dried parsley (or equiv. fresh)
½ tsp dried thyme (or equiv. Fresh )
1 Tbsp. Soy sauce
several grinds of black pepper
Then add 2 & ½ cups chicken broth and heat through.
Whisk separately, 2 Tbsp. Flour in 1 cup of milk, then stir into soup.
Cook until thickened about 10 more minutes.
Add more chicken broth, if desired, for a thinner soup.
Taste and adjust seasonings, including adding salt if desired.
Finally, add 1 Tbsp. Lemon juice and stir in.
Ladle into soup bowls and top with a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream.
Posted by Karen
at 12:19 CDT
Friday, 5 September 2014
It's Time to get Pickled!
We are now post-Labor Day--meaning the hours are ticking away until there's no more fresh garden produce. And the days are already percceptively shorter with the clock now starting the countdown to final harvests.
Sure, there's more time for the final hay cuttings ...and apples ...and winter squash and potatoes and pumpkins. And woody herbs will be around for a bit longer.
But soon, there won't be any more cucumbers and peppers.
SO-- it's a great time to make the perfect homemade, straight-from-your-garden, crunchy condiment, a quick recipe that you can pull out of your refrigerator and put on that holiday buffet table …
Over the past couple weekends, my sister Chris, and I have been making Refrigerator Pickles, using variations of the many recipes found on the internet from other bloggers and even some famous chefs, who all have their take on these classic country condiments.
Chris prefers the sweet Bread and Butter pickles, with her own special twist of ZESTY and hot (jalapenos!) to put her own signature on it.
I made the classic and crunchy Garlic Dill Pickle (above)
What both of these recipes share are the following qualities:
they are refrigerator recipes, so the pickle retains the crunchiness of fresh cucumbers
they can be stored in the refrigerator for a few months but never in the pantry (they're not canned)
they use fresh cucumbers that you likely have in your garden now
the preparation time from beginning to end is an hour or less because you are not canning!
the seasonings in both recipes can be adapted to your taste preferences.
You can proportionally reduce the amounts for less than 9 pints, but THESE make great gifts!
Basic Rules for all Refrigerator Pickles:
Use throughly cleaned jars and lids. I prefer using the dishwasher to sanitize.
Use wide-mouth, pint jars (easier to fill and then later, to remove those pickles!)
Use only fresh cucumbers, after washing, from the garden or organic fresh market (No waxed fruit from the store)
Cut off the blossom and stem ends of the cucumbers and discard (the two ends or tips)
Use only filtered or distilled water
Use only kosher or pickling salt –no iodine or other product or elements in the salt you're using
Use only white vinegar or cider vinegar that is labeled 5% acetic acid
Use only pure cane sugar if the recipe calls for sugar
Chris' Zesty and Sweet Bread and Butter Pickles
9 pint jars
Cook the following together in a large pot:
6 cups white vinegar
2 cups cider vinegar
6 cups sugar
1 tsp tumeric
1 Tbsp. Yellow mustard seeds
½ tsp ground clove
½ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ cup chopped garlic
Simmer above together about 30 minutes.
In a separate large bowl, combine the following:
9 cucumbers, sliced into disks about 1/4” thick
1 large onion, thinly sliced and separated
2 large jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
½ cup of salt
Let this sit together about 30 minutes, then rinse and drain.
Next, fill 9 wide-mouthed pint jars with the cucumber mixture. Press down to compact as needed.
Ladle the hot vinegar solution into each jar, covering the mixture with liquid to within ¼ inch of the top rim.
Apply the lids and rims. (Chris likes to invert her jars while cooling, even though we're not doing traditional canning.)
Allow to cool on the counter, then refrigerate.
Wait one week before sampling!
My Garlic Dill Pickles
9 pint jars
Cook together in a large pot until a low boil:
7 cups of water
1 cup of white vinegar
½ cup salt
Prep 9 cucumbers by slicing each of 9 cucumbers in half, into roughly the height of your pint jars.
Then slice each half into about 6 wedge slices, to have the typical pickle wedges.
Put 6 whole black peppercorns and ¼ tsp. Yellow mustard seeds on the bottom of each of 9 jars.
Put 1 fresh dill head on the bottom of each jar ---OR--1 rounded tsp of dried dillweed in each jar.
Put 1 large, peeled clove of fresh garlic in each jar.
Next, hold your jar horizontally, and pack each jar with the cucumber slices. You should be able to get about 12 slices in each jar.
Finally, ladle the hot water, salt and vinegar solution over the pickles until it is ¼ inch from the top.
Apply the lids, allow to cool on the counter, then refrigerate.
Wait one week before sampling!
Posted by Karen
at 15:44 CDT
Updated: Saturday, 6 September 2014 07:34 CDT
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