Friday, March 29, 2013

Warmed Lemongrass & Ginger Potato Salad

Lemongrass is one of my favorite ingredients to cook with. Not only does it add an interesting flavor to recipes, it is also awesomely healthy. Lemongrass has been used for centuries to help alleviate many ailments including stomach upset, and tension. Lemongrass is a germ fighter: a mild antiseptic, antifungal and antibacterial, it helps lessen symptoms of the common cold and coughs. Some studies suggest that lemongrass may help lower high blood pressure and could play a role in cancer prevention. Nutritionally, it is high in folate, iron, potassium and magnesium.

Adding lemongrass to dishes adds a light, refreshing, citrus accent without the sourness of lemon. Not all grocery markets carry lemongrass but it is worth seeking out. I happened to find grated lemongrass in the frozen section at a local global supermarket in the Lou. Anytime a recipe calls for lemongrass, I can break off a hunk, thaw out, and rock-and-roll.

If you are not able to find lemongrass, Cooking Light offers a good substitution: try using 1 ½ teaspoons grated lemon rind plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice to equal 4 teaspoons lemongrass. Not exactly the same flavor, but a pretty good option in a pinch.
This Warmed Lemongrass and Ginger Potato Salad combines lemongrass with fresh ginger, an award-winning combo with an Asian flair. You may recall this dynamic duo in another recipe, Succulent Blueberry Turkey Burgers, a literal award winner- a $1000 grand prize recipe contest winner! I bet it was the lemongrass that swayed the judges.

I'd sure love to hear how you use lemongrass! Leave a comment at the end of this post, or connect on Eating Local in the Lou's Facebook page. 
until next time...
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Warmed Lemongrass and Ginger Potato Salad
(recipe adapted from Cooking Light)

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds red potatoes, cut into small pieces
  • 3 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemongrass, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh ginger minced finely
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1/3 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
Cooking Directions
  1. In a medium saucepan, place potatoes and cover with cold water; bring to boil, reduce heat and cook until tender, about 10 minutes, drain.
  2. In a large bowl, combine vinegar, oil, lemongrass, ginger, salt and jalapeno. Add cooked potatoes to vinegar mixture, toss gently.
  3. Sprinkle with green onions and cilantro and serve immediately warm or chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Break for Spring with Black Bean, Kale and Avocado Tacos


Vegan and Gluten Free: Black Bean and Avocado Tacos
This past week, the Cowie Clan enjoyed a fun-filled week in Orlando Florida with Nana and Grandpa J. A spring break in the true sense: a few days of fresh warm spring air, a welcome break from the late winter we’ve been having (and continue to have) in the Midwest.

As with most vacations, our week was full of indulgence and vacation-food overload. Our day at Epcot was no exception. I was in heaven at Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival Garden Marketplace. The World Showcase had kiosks with spring-inspired small plates of nibbles from around the world. In front of each kiosk there was a small garden featuring fresh edibles from the menu. Of course I had to try something from just about every kiosk! My favorite had to be the Cottage in the United Kingdom. They served Waterkist Farms Heirloom Tomatoes with house-made Mozzarella, Minus 8 Vinegar and Basil and a Trio of tiny Trifles: Chocolate, Berry, and Ginger and Tea flavors.

By the end of the trip, it was time to get back on track and back to reality. Black Bean, Kale and Avocado Tacos were a perfect finish to a magical week. With south-of-the-border flavors and ingredients, these tacos are light, yet filling. Kale, avocado, black beans and sunflower seeds are the main ingredients, all super duper healthy. Although completely vegan and gluten-free, the tacos are satisfying and didn’t leave us feeling like we were missing out on anything.

Now back in the Lou, the kids are delighted to have an unexpected additional day of Spring Break with weather that in no way resembles spring. Our awesome memories of flip flops, sunscreen and sunglasses will have to get us through the ten inches of snow piled up on the porch. And the hope that the warm spring air will soon be here as well.

Vegan and Gluten Free: Black Bean, Kale and Avocado Tacos (recipe adapted from wholeliving.com)

Ingredients
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 taco shells (certainly tortilla chips or corn tortillas would work well too)
  • 3 cups fresh kale, chopped
  • 2 cups black beans (Bellews Creek Farm, Hillsboro, MO) or 1 can rinsed black beans would be a super fast option
  • 1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. finishing salt (we used Cyprus black lava sea salt purchased in Downtown Disney but any course salt would do just fine)
Cooking Directions
  1. Mash avocado in a medium bowl. Mix in garlic, lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper.
  2. Bake taco shells according to box directions.
  3. Divide avocado mixture among shells, top with kale, black beans and sunflower seeds. Season with a course finishing salt.
until next time...
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Celebrate Pi Day: Apple and Toffee-Peanut Hand Pies


We have a small obsession with pi and pie in our house. My son has been fascinated with the number pi for as long as I can remember. Few things in life are forever. I think the fact that this number goes on forever in some ways offers him an unmet challenge to memorize as many of the numbers as he can. Last year on a family vacation he memorized pi to fifty numbers, past the 3.14 most of us know. Ask him today and he will still be able to recite them back to you.

The pie obsession is my hubby’s. He was so fortunate to grow up with a mother that loved to bake and was gifted with stellar baking skills. Her particular talent was making beautiful pies with from-scratch crusts.

Then the poor guy met and married me, who couldn’t make a successful pie crust from scratch even if my life depended on it. Plus, being a dietitian and always trying to make healthy foods, I seldom get the notion to bake a pie. Needless to say, he gets jipped out of homemade pie most days of the year.

So in order to celebrate one of my son’s favorite numbers with one of my husband’s favorite desserts, I made pie for Pi Day: Apple and Toffee-Peanut Hand Pies. I can justify that these pies are healthy-ish in that they are filled with apples, lemon juice, cinnamon and peanuts, and are serving  size appropriate. 

I used refrigerated pie dough to avoid risking a baking flop. Rather than adding toffee chips and sugar as the original recipe suggests (Cooking Light), I used crushed toffee-covered peanuts purchased from the farmers market. Also, the recipe calls for fresh apples but I thought this would be a great recipe to use frozen apples from last fall’s harvest.  

(To freeze apples for later use: slice or chop fresh apples, toss with lemon juice to coat and freeze in a single layer on a cooking sheet. Then transfer to a plastic freezer bag until ready to use.)

So this March 14th, I wish each of you a Happy Pi Day!  
What is your favorite type of pie?

Apple and Toffee-Peanut Hand Pies

Ingredients
  • 1 cup finely chopped Gala apples (frozen apples picked at Thierbach Orchards, Marthasville, MO)
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice (if using fresh apples)
  • 1/3 cup chopped toffee covered peanuts (or crushed peanuts and toffee candy)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 package (15 ounce) refrigerated pie dough (both pie crusts needed)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten with 1 Tbsp. water (Sparks Farm, Warrenton, MO)
  • 1 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into 9 cubes
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the apples, toffee-peanuts, lemon juice (if using fresh apples) and cinnamon.
  3. Roll out both of the pie dough portions. Using a drinking glass or 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut about 9-10 small dough circles. Save remaining dough scraps for another use or discard.
  4. Place half of the small dough circles on prepared baking sheet. Lightly brush with egg wash (egg and water mixed).
  5. Spoon about 1 Tbsp. of apple mixture onto each round, leaving about a 1/4 inch border around edges. Top each round with a small dab of butter, then with remaining round of dough. Seal edges with a fork.
  6. Brush egg wash over top of each round; bake at 375 for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
until next time...
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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pumpkin Becomes More than a One-Hit-Wonder with Vegetarian Tex-Mex Patties


Poor pumpkin. Often underestimated and under appreciated, this winter squash usually makes a short debut each year. In October, it sits on a porch, gutted and glowing, only to be oogled, not to be eaten. Then in November, pumpkin gets a promotion and takes center stage on tables in the unrivaled meal of all meals: Thanksgiving.

It is the star performer in the climatic ending to the feast, leaving many of us holding up our lighters begging for an encore! And then, like a one-hit-wonder it is soon forgotten becoming a distant memory until the following year.

It is truly a shame to enjoy this edible orange orb only once or twice a year. Pumpkin is an incredibly nutritious vegetable, loaded with vitamin A (in the form of beta carotene), known to protect against certain cancers, heart disease and early signs of aging.  Pumpkin is also filled with fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamins C and E.  Despite its rather high carbohydrate content, it has an incredibly low glycemic index load. And when plentiful in the fall, it can be canned or frozen and stored for later use.

In these Vegetarian Tex-Mex Patties pumpkin acts more like a back up singer, not really taking front stage with flavor but certainly adding incredible moisture and texture to the dish. These patties are kid-friendly and a terrific option for a fast meal. You can place uncooked patties in the freezer in a zip-top bag. When ready to prepare, grab a few out of the freezer and pop straight into a skillet to brown and serve. Enjoy these Vegetarian Tex-Mex Patties over a bed of lettuce for a satisfying vegetarian meal or serve as a side dish.

Vegetarian Tex-Mex Patties

Ingredients
  • 2 slices leftover bread (I used bread from Breadsmith Bakery, St. Louis, MO)
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped (or yellow or orange if you want to disguise in patty)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels (hopefully saved from the summer harvest from your local grower)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (I got mine at Maude's Market, St. Louis, MO)
  • 1 tsp. each chili powder and cumin
  • 1 egg (Spark's Farm, Warrenton, MO)
  • 1/2 cup pureed or canned pumpkin (Hilty's Bee Yards, Bowling Green, MO)
  • 1/2 cup low-fat ricotta
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 pat butter
Cooking Directions
  1. Crumble bread slices by pulsing in a food processor until course bread crumbs form.
  2. In a medium sized skillet, heat oil and saute onion, pepper and corn until soft, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic, chili powder and cumin and cook for one more minute; remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile in a medium bowl, mix together the bread, parsley and cheese. In a large bowl mix together egg, pumpkin and ricotta. Add in the bread mixture, salt and pepper.
  4. Carefully shape about 1/3 cup of mixture into six-seven patties. Dredge patties in breadcrumbs and refrigerate for at least one hour (or freeze for later use with wax paper between patties to separate).
  5. When ready to enjoy, melt butter in large skillet and fry patties until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side (or 4 minutes each side if frozen).
until next time...
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