Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Patriotic Ice Cream: Vanilla and Honey Ice Cream & Cardamom and Rose Water Ice Cream

It’s the last day of July…a month filled with American pride, starting with Independence Day celebrations and ending with the 2012 Summer Olympics, cheering on our U.S. athletes.

My family and I just returned from a trip to Washington D.C. this past weekend. Traveling to D.C. reminded us of the rich history of our nation and really boosted our pride in our great country. We learned details about past presidents, we were able to get up close and personal with the Declaration of Independence (and the President’s dog Bo!!), we saw monument after monument honoring the many brave individuals that sacrificed so much for us to have the freedoms that we all have now…

...and we learned that July is National Ice Cream Month. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed July to be National Ice Cream Month and he encouraged us all to celebrate the month with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

So on this last day of July, I complied with President Reagan’s proclomation and celebrated by making two very different but delicious frozen concoctions: Vanilla and Honey Ice Cream and Cardamom and Rosewater Ice Cream. Although ice cream may not be the healthiest food, making homemade ice cream with pure and wholesome ingredients (and local when available) is worth it.

Happy National Ice Cream Month to you all… and go Team U.S.A.!!

Vanilla and Honey Ice Cream
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup 2% milk
½ cup honey (Bekemeier’s)
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

1. Heat cream, milk and honey in a saucepan until hot but not boiling.
2. Whisk yolks in a bowl, then slowly whisk in 1 cup of the hot mixture to the yolks. Pour yolk mixture into hot cream mixture, stirring continuously until thickens, about 3 minutes.
3. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, then cool mixture until completely chilled.
4. Add to ice cream maker to freeze.

Cardamom and Rosewater Ice Cream
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. ground cardamom seeds
½ cup rose water
½ cup sugar

1. Heat cream, milk, cinnamon stick and cardamom in a saucepan until hot but not boiling, until mixture is reduced to a creamy color (takes about 30 min). Remove from heat, discard cinnamon stick and cool.
2. In another saucepan, heat rose water and sugar until reduced to a simple syrup. Remove from heat and cool.
3. Combine the two cooled mixtures, add to ice cream maker to freeze.

until next time...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

If you Can't Take the Heat...Stay in the Kitchen: Chicken Salad Stuffed Tomatoes

It's hot outside. I know it's summer and supposed to be hot, but really...this hot??
Over 100 degrees for this many days??? We hear the weather forecast calling for a
"cool front" in the nineties and we get excited.

During these hot days, it's tough to think about turning on the oven or stove when
you could literally bake cookies on the pavement. Instead of abandoning the kitchen
altogether, this dish is a complete no-cook meal using several veggies that are now
at the height of their season. A scooped out ripe tomato makes for a pretty
presentation for the chicken salad. Using store-bought rotisserie chicken is fast
and easy. Instead of using mayo, I like to use non-fat plain Greek yogurt as a
healthier sub. 

Chicken Salad Stuffed Tomatoes
4 large tomatoes (Miller Farms, Campbell Hill, IL)
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (Windcrest Dairy)
2 cups finely chopped rotisserie chicken
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch watercress (or arugula)

1. Core tomatoes, scoop out flesh.
2. Mix tomato flesh, Greek yogurt, chicken, corn, salt and pepper.
3. Spoon into tomato shells, top with watercress.

until next time...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Keen-What? Quinoa, Black Beans and Summer Veg Salad

Last week I volunteered to do a food demo and tasting at the Ellisville Farmers Market. In thinking about what to sample, I wanted to be sure to choose a dish that highlighted a variety of vegetables that are now in season and available from the growers at the farmers market. I decided this would be a great opportunity to serve up Quinoa, Black Bean and Summer Veg Salad. This is a recipe inspired by summer and by “Quinoa Combos for 250 Calories “ an article in the July issue of Cooking Light.

I first heard of quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) a while back when working as a supermarket dietitian in charge of ordering products for the gluten free section. People with celiac disease and gluten intolerance often use this grain as a substitute for wheat and other grains they can’t consume. 

Recently, quinoa has gained popularity among a broader audience and has become one of my favorite grains. Anything that is super healthy and cooks up in about 10 minutes is okay by me.  Quinoa is also super versatile, pairing well with innumerable ingredients creating several different flavor combos.

The market demo turned out terrific! I had people stopping by my booth saying that someone told them they had to come try the quinoa salad. That makes a gal feel good…and this salad will make you feel good too.

Quinoa, Black Bean & Summer Veg Salad
Combine the following ingredients, mix well and serve:

2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups cooked black beans, (mine came from Bellews Creek Farm)
2 cups cooked corn (cut from about 2 large ears)
2 cups diced cucumber (Lakewood Farms)
1 small red onion, finely minced
2 cups finely diced tomatoes (Eilerman Brothers Orchard)
3/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper (Healthy Harvest Gardens)
2 jalapeƱo chilies, seeded and minced (Pop Pop Produce)
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
5 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin (this time I used a Southwest spice blend from Adventures in Spice)
1/3 cup olive oil (Healthy Harvest Gardens)

until next time...

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Power of Prayer and Powerhouse Foods: Lemony Kale Salad with Homemade Herb Croutons

A friend of mine is sick. I’m talking knocked-on-your-butt kind of sick for a long time. And the worst part of this illness is that she has completely lost her appetite for food. It is difficult for me to imagine losing the desire to eat tasty food.

During these tough months, a great network of friends, family and neighbors have come together to take care of our friend by providing meals for the family. Even if she is not able to fully enjoy the meals, it is our hope that her husband and son will have the nourishment that will help them keep well through this difficult time.

This past week was my turn to provide a meal. For the main dish I made a good ol’ comfort food casserole that would hopefully sit well with her. For dessert I made Baked Peaches with Cheesecake Filling.

But for the side, I wanted to make a super healthy, get-you-back-on-yer-feet type of dish: Lemony Kale Salad with Homemade Herb Croutons.  Kale and tomatoes are currently in season and are plentiful at the local farmers markets. The bread for the homemade croutons was from Companion, a local St. Louis bakery. Making quick croutons is a perfect way to use up day-old bread and adding fresh herbs adds flavor and a nutritional boost.

This is a delicious and super healthy salad. Kale, walnuts, tomatoes and lemons are all rock star powerhouse foods. Kale- loaded with fiber, vitamins K, C, A and B6, calcium, magnesium, and known to help prevent loads of chronic diseases. Walnuts- contain lots of omega-3 fats and vitamin E; Tomatoes- loaded with lycopene that might help protect against some cancers; Lemons- contain limonoids which are strong antioxidants that might help some cancers.

The combination of Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and olive oil as the dressing added a creamy consistency. If you are not sure about kale, this is a salad to try. If you are sure about kale (as in you do not like it) that’s ok…most dark leafy greens would work well too.

I sure hope my friend and her family enjoyed the meal and she finds the joy in eating again very soon!

Lemony Kale Salad (adapted from BHG) and Homemade Herb Croutons
1 bunch kale, any type (Theis Farms, a local St. Louis farm)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (Hamra Farms in Sikeston, Missouri)
½ cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
juice of 3 fresh lemons, preferably with some pulp added
½ cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. rinse and dry kale, stack leaves and cut into thin strips
2. in a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients, toss well, top with homemade croutons:

Homemade Herby Croutons
Cut 4 cups bread cut into 1 inch cubes; toss with 3 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 Tbsp each chopped fresh rosemary and thyme, and 3 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, stirring once, until crunchy.
until next time...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Peachy Keen Dessert~ Baked Peaches with Cheesecake Filling

In our house we sincerely love peaches and are all smiles when they are in season! Peaches apparently grow quite well in our Midwest region and are plentiful at the farmers markets right now.

We love peaches so much we decided to name our Goldendoodle "Peaches". The kids get a giggle every time I talk about eating or serving peaches and say something like, “Mom! We can’t eat our dog!” Even the dog likes to eat peaches which really gets the kids silly by calling the dog a cannibal.

Kidding aside, this dessert is so easy to make, even a non-baker like me can’t mess it up. It takes less than 10 minutes to throw together. Then let it bake and watch your family become all smiles.

Baked Peaches with Cheesecake Filling (recipe adapted from BHG Aug 2011)
6 peaches halved and pits removed
¼ cup butter, melted
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
8 ounce package of light cream cheese, softened
½ cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Dip each peach half into melted butter, place in baking pan cut side up, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, yolks and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer until combined. Spoon cream cheese mixture into hollows of peaches.
3. Bake about 25 minutes until lightly browned. 
until next time...
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