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Nutrition and food safety
Saturday, 12 December 2015
Crazy Holday Season Requires Good Food
Topic: Home Environment

Happy Crazy Holiday Season !

This is unquestionably one of the most stressful times of the year—hard emotionally and physically. It's easy to look at your “to do” list and hit the panic button. Worse, it's the time of the year when we neglect our health while we run non-stop between full time jobs and full time shopping and party planning, trying to make everything perfect along the way.

How about a really easy crockpot recipe that you can prepare from good ingredients that are likely in your freezer and pantry right now?

Put this Italian Meatball Stew together, turn the crockpot on “low” and come back 8 hours later to make the polenta (which will take all of 5 miniutes)-- meanwhile, you'll have completed that full time job “to do” list for the day, without sacrificing a healthy dinner, one that's almost upscale-- in a rustic, Italian, pub-grub kind of way.



Italian Meatball Stew

serves 4 adults, very generously

Oil prep the crockpot

Mix together:

Cook all day -8 hours on low.

When your three simultaneous full time jobs are done, and you get back home, make the Polenta. It must be made right before you intend to eat or it will turn into a gummy coagulum.




Per serving: 1 cup of boiling water, stir 4 Tbsp polenta. --multiply according to number of servings needed.

Cook until thickened for 5 minutes.

When cooked, and just prior to serving,

Stir in about 1 Tbsp butter per serving,

Then turn the polenta right into the bottom of your chunky stew bowls.

You will quickly re-fortify yourself and happily so, ready to face the next day's holiday multi-tasking!

Posted by Karen at 17:50 CST
Updated: Sunday, 13 December 2015 14:33 CST
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Tuesday, 9 June 2015
Find a Spot for Fresh Herbs
Topic: Home Environment

Find your Spot for Fresh Herbs

I encourage everyone, wherever you live, to find a spot to grow something fresh for your family.

The easiest things to grow in a pot are fresh annual herbs. I keep my perennial herbs—like thyme, sage, oregano, assorted mints, etc. growing in beds in the garden. But annual herbs are often more fragile, so I have taken to growing these in pots, kept near the house, where watering is convenient and they can quickly be moved if weather is particularly harsh, like some of our intense thunderstorms can be.




 Using fresh herbs during the growing season is one of the classic culinary joys of Summer cooking. Plus- snipping them (and using immediately) assures that their health benefits are “alive and well.”

Some reported health benefits of fresh herbs include:

This is a short list—there are many resources available to consult regarding medicinal herbs and plants. However, even if they had no additional health benefits, fresh herbs contribute to increased savoriness of foods and culinary art and for “foodies” that makes fresh herbs essential!

Because annual herbs germinate and grow quickly, you'll have these herbs ready to snip daily in a few short weeks. You may even want to try some of the more exotic herbs, like the pots of Thai Basil seen in my picture above. Wait until that herb is combined with chicken in an Asian inspired chicken salad, or tucked into fresh Spring rolls.

You don't have to wait for your tomatoes to create a super Tomato-Cannellini Bean salad shown below.

I used a large can of petite diced tomatoes (drained, use that tomato juice in a soup or stew or ?) and 1 can of cannellini beans (rinsed and drained) with 2 chopped carrots and 1 small chopped onion. Then snip a large handful of basil and parsley, chop and add to salad. Dress with equal parts of lemon juice or red wine vinegar and olive oil, to which you've added salt and freshly ground pepper. As usual, toss thoroughly, then refrigerate until serving.

And doesn't that salad compliment the plate of Mushroom Lasagne and cooked Green Beans with butter and dill very nicely?



Posted by Karen at 09:45 CDT
Updated: Tuesday, 9 June 2015 12:45 CDT
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Monday, 1 June 2015
Coq au Vin--for the middle of the week!
Topic: Home Environment

Coq au Vin is a rustic French bistro dish that fills the house with insanely beautiful aromas. If you follow a classic recipe, you probably won't have enough prep time to make it for a weekday meal. But, here are some tricks to get the same effect, while working with ingredients you likely have in your larder.

You'll need a covered heavy skillet—like this:




Then the modified recipe as follows:

Coq au Vin

In a large heavy skillet, brown 3 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2-3/4 inch strips.

Add 1 yellow onion, chopped and carmelized with the bacon.

(Chopped fresh mushrooms may be added also, if desired)


Flour 6-8 chicken thighs (skin-on and bone in) with flour which has been seasoned with seasoned salt and pepper.

Brown the chicken on all sides in the bacon and onion pan. Add additional olive oil if there is not enough oil from the bacon.

When browned, remove the chicken to a plate and add 1 generous cup of dry red wine to the skillet, loosening and de-glazing the bits of bacon and onion in the pan with a wooden or non-metal, heat stable spoon. Add more wine if needed so the chicken thighs when returned will be partially immersed in the liquid.

Replace the chicken thighs into the skillet.

Sprinkle Herbs de Provence dried herb blend liberally over the chicken.

Cover and cook on a low simmer until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and tender- about 40 minutes.

Remove the cover from the skillet, and raise heat to "High" to boil and reduce the wine-based liquid by half or more, so that it is reduced to basically a glazing amount of liquid.

Plate with some petite potatoes and carrots, greens—and a little French bread to dip into the juices.



Posted by Karen at 18:44 CDT
Updated: Monday, 1 June 2015 21:22 CDT
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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
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