Archive for January, 2011
The quintessential Super Bowl food….chicken wings. You can find a ton of recipes for chicken wings – seems everyone has their own ‘secret’ recipe but one thing is certain – you can’t do a Super Bowl party without them. So here’s my ‘secret’ recipe for wings – ENJOY!
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 20 chicken wings (you can use with bone, boneless or even tenders)
- 1/4 cup olive oil or Garlic Gold Oil
- 4 oz bottle hot sauce (I used Tabasco brand)
- Line a baking sheet with non stick foil and set aside.
- In a plastic bag (or container) add flour, cayenne pepper, garlic and salt and shake to mix. Add chicken wings, seal and toss until well coated.
- Place the chicken wings on the baking sheet and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Mix together the oil and hot sauce in a small bowl. Dip the wings into the mixture and return to the baking sheet.
- Bake in the oven for 45 minutes (turning over half way through) or until crisp and no longer pink in the middle.
- Serve with a side of Homemade Ranch Dressing or Blue Cheese Dressing.
Nutritional info will vary depending on how many wings come in the package you purchase.
These chicken wings are great served hot or even cold! They keep well in the fridge (use an airtight container) for about 3 days. You can reheat them in the oven or even the microwave!
Many, many years ago I received a jar of Harry & David Sun Dried Tomato Pesto as a gift. Not being a fan of tomatoes I didn’t hold out much hope that I would like it. But my Mom convinced me to try it and thank goodness I did. I LOVED IT! I use it on sandwiches, with pasta, in spaghetti sauce and as a general dip. My most favorite way of eating it is on slices of toasted whole wheat baguettes and topped with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. These little pesto bruschetta are a perfect appetizer for your holiday party or special get together.
- 3/4 cup sun dried tomatoes (If packed in oil, drain first. If dried, place tomatoes in water and rehydrate for about 30 minutes before use. Drain water before using.)
- 1/4 cup roasted red peppers
- 1/4 cup walnut pieces
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp parsley
- 1 tbsp garlic, minced
- 4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Garlic Gold Oil
- In a food processor or blender add in the walnut pieces and pulse until they are a sand like consistency.
- Add in the remaining ingredients and pulse until tomatoes and peppers are finely chopped. If you want a smoother consistency, pulse a few more times.
Makes 24 servings.
Serving size 1 tbsp.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 33, Cal. from Fat: 26.5, Total Fat: 3g, Sat. Fat: <.5g, Carbs: 1g, Fiber: <.5g, Sugars: .5g, Protein: .5g, Sodium: 40.5mg, Chol: 0mg
Store your pesto in an airtight container in the fridge. Your pesto will keep for about a week.
My kids actually love this pesto. I make mini pizzas for them – just substitute traditional pizza sauce for the pesto and spread onto pizza dough or sliced bagettes. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake at 400 degrees for about 8-10 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.
Wait, stop, come back. Don’t stop reading because this recipe has Brussel Sprouts. Really, they are just like mini cabbages. Everyone likes mini things. Like those mini corn on the cob, or mini patty pan squash, or baby carrots. Besides, this peanutty dressing is so good that, as my sister would say, she would eat…..maybe I better not repeat what my sister would say. Anyway, you have got to try this and see for yourself how good this slaw really is.
- 1 cup (about 12) Brussel Sprouts, very thinly sliced
- 2 cups napa cabbage (about 1/2 a head), thinly sliced
- 1 carrot, shredded
- 2 tbsp no salt added organic peanut butter
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp raw honey or coconut nectar
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- sea salt to taste
- 2 tbsp raw peanuts, coarsely chopped and toasted
- Toss together the Brussel sprouts, cabbage and carrot in a large bowl.
- Whisk the peanut butter, oil, vinegar and honey until smooth.
- Toast the peanuts in a dry skillet on medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until just turning brown.
- Pour the dressing over the vegetables. Garnish with the toasted peanuts and serve.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 250, Cal. from Fat: 176.5, Total Fat: 20g, Sat. Fat: 2.5g, Carbs: 15g, Fiber: 4.5g, Sugars: 5.5g, Protein: 6.5g, Sodium: 33.5mg, Chol: 0mg
Salad can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Salad dressing should be stored in a separate airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
There are so many ways to make beans and rice. Every area of the county seems to have their own take. Red beans or black beans, ham or sausage. Here is my vegetarian version . It’s a bit of a combination of several styles. First you make your sweet and smoky sauce and from there it’s just a matter of popping everything into the oven. The rice is baked along side the beans and mixed when ready to eat. I love beans and rice. You can top salad greens with it, add some crushed organic corn chips, wrap it in whole grain tortillas or my favorite spooned over Skillet Cornbread.
- 2 cans (15 ounces each) no salt added beans (kidney, aduki, pinto or black), rinsed and drained
- 1 can (15 ounces) no salt added fire roasted diced tomatoes, or regular diced tomatoes
- 1 cup Sweet Heat Chili Sauce
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- Pour 1 cup of the Sweet Heat Chili Sauce into a dutch oven or other large oven safe pot.
- Add the beans, rice and diced tomatoes.
- Place the bean mixture in the oven and cook, covered for 45 minutes to an hour. Uncover and cook an additional 15-20 minutes or until the desired consistency is reached.
- Serve hot or cold.
Makes approximately 8 cups.
Serving size 1 cup.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 153, Cal. from Fat: 28, Total Fat: 4g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Carbs: 26g, Fiber: 5g, Sugars: 4g, Protein: 5g, Sodium: 38mg, Chol: 0mg
Store leftovers in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
I think rice is probably one of my top 10 foods, but I hate cooking it. When cooked on the stove top there always seems to be some that sticks to the bottom of the pan or it splatters all over the place and anyone who knows me knows I hate getting my stove dirty (I know, it’s crazy but true). I’ve used rice cookers, but again you get that dry layer at the bottom or it’s soggy. I’ve even tried microwaving it which I admit worked when I ate white rice but not for brown rice. One day when watching my culinary hero Alton Brown he showed a method of cooking rice in the oven. It’s been rice bliss ever since.
- 1 cup rice (any variety of your choice – I used Wehani for this recipe)
- 2 1/4 cups water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place the rice, water and oil in an 8 x 8 glass baking dish.
- Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
- Bake for 1 hour.
- Remove from oven and carefully lift the foil to fluff the rice with a fork and serve.
Nutritional info will vary depending on the type of rice that is used.
You can replace the water with vegetable broth for more flavor.
It’s hard to find bottled sauces that don’t contain a lot of unnecessary ingredients. So many contain sugars, chemicals and preservatives. This chili sauce is so fantastic with just the right amount of hot backed up with a bit of sweet to balance it out. I use this sauce for many of my recipes so I usually make a large batch and then store the leftovers in the freezer.
- 1 large sweet onion, sliced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2-3 large dried ancho peppers, stemmed and seeded
- 1 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp worchestershire sauce (use a gluten free worchestershire sauce for a gluten free option)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 – 4 tbsp molasses (depending on how sweet you like your sauce)
- sea salt to taste
- Place the anchos and the vegetable stock in a small microwave safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and cook in the microwave 2-3 minutes, or just until the broth comes to a boil. This can also be done on the stove top in a small pan.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat add the olive oil. Add the onions and carrots and cook 8 – 10 minutes or until the onions are soft. Turn heat to low and add the garlic and continue cooking 2-3 minutes just until the onions start to turn a light caramel color.
- Stir in the worcestershire sauce and tomato paste, let simmer another 2 -3 minutes.
- Place the anchos with the stock into a food processor along with the onion mixture. Process until smooth. Add the molasses. Pulse once or twice to mix. Add salt to taste.
Makes 2 1/2 cups.
Serving size 1/4 cup.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 88.5, Cal. from Fat: 40, Total Fat: 4.5g, Sat. Fat: .5g, Carbs: 11g, Fiber: 1g, Sugars: 5.5g, Protein: .5g, Sodium: 46mg, Chol: 0mg
Chili sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. I like to freeze it in zip top freezer bags so I have it on hand all the time. Just measure 1/2 cup and pour it into the bag, zip and lay flat in the freezer or spoon into ice cubes trays (2 tbsp each), freeze and remove frozen cubes to a zip top bag and store in the freezer.
There are no words to describe how wonderful these truffles are. They melt in your mouth and are simply divine! Aside from being 100% clean they are so simple to make! I teach a cooking class for children and I will be using this recipe in our upcoming class. Yes, they are so easy a child can make them!
- 6 ounces chocolate chips (I use Sunspire Grain Sweetened Chocolate Chips)
- 6 ounces soft goat cheese, brought to room temperature
- 2 tbsp low fat buttermilk
- 2 tbsp brown rice syrup or coconut nectar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup walnuts, very finely chopped (optional)
- Start by making the ganache. In a microwave safe bowl add chocolate chips and buttermilk. Microwave on high for 20 second intervals until chocolate is completely melted. Stir well. (You can also use a double boiler on the stove if you prefer, to melt the chocolate.)
- Add goat cheese, vanilla and brown rice syrup to chocolate mixture and heat for 20 seconds more or until the cheese is completely melted. Stir well. The mixture should be smooth and silky.
- Let the ganache cool down before putting it in the fridge for at least an hour and a half. (You can also make this the night before and leave it covered, overnight in the fridge.)
- When you are ready to make your truffles, remove the ganache from the fridge and form into 1 inch balls.
- Roll the balls in either cocoa powder or walnuts and place on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper.
- Place the truffles back in the fridge for 30 more minutes or until completely firm.
Makes approximately 2 dozen truffles.
Serving size 1 truffle.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 56.5, Cal. from Fat: 29.5, Total Fat: 3g, Sat. Fat: 2g, Carbs: 4g, Fiber: .5g, Sugars: 1.5g, Protein: 3g, Sodium: 46.5mg, Chol: 5.5mg
I love chocolate and I love goat cheese but I NEVER thought I would like them together. Boy, did this recipe knock my socks off! The goat cheese makes the chocolate oh so creamy and gives it a great silky texture. You will not be disappointed with this recipe!
Leftover truffles can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
When I started my messy breakup with cheap chicken, one of the immediate complications I found was, well, how do you define “cheap chicken”? (And, by extension, what is “good” or “sustainable” chicken?) By cheap chicken, I meant some kind of admittedly vague combination of chicken that is treated poorly while it’s alive; that’s of questionable healthfulness, for both bird and man; that’s slaughtered cruelly; that’s produced in a way that damages the environment — all of which are endemic to an industry that prioritizes low price above all. But with buzzwords like “sustainability” and even “organic” thrown about all willy-nilly, it’s hard to know what we even mean by them. And it’s especially hard since marketers realized that more and more people are willing to pay more money for products with those words on them.
So, when you’re shopping for chicken, what do labels like “free range” or “pastured” really mean? Which chickens fall in line with everything you want, and which ones do you know you might make some kind of compromise for? I called two experts, Tom Schneller, who teaches meat identification and butchery at the Culinary Institute of America (and the man who taught me how to break down chicken), and Mark Kastel, co-founder of the Cornucopia Institute, an advocacy group for family farms and a fierce “organic” production watchdog.
The first thing Mr. Kastel said to me was kind of dispiriting: “Well, some of those labels just mean whatever the marketer happens to want them to mean.” Some terms, like “organic,” have legal definitions and actual enforcement. Others have definitions but not much enforcement infrastructure, and some, still, are utterly unmoored to the law. Here’s a breakdown.
Many consumers have a vague sense of the incredibly crowded factory-like conditions of industrial chicken production, if not outright horror at them, and so “free range” became a hot term to sell to those people, designed to calm their fears about the crowdedness of “grow-out houses” (and subsequent disease density, and, if you’re into this sort of thing, the unhappiness of the birds).
“Free range” does have an official definition: “Producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside.”
The definition of “outside,” though, is shaky; does that mean there’s a window chickens could theoretically squeeze through? Do the birds actually go through it? And outside could be a gorgeous rolling hill or it could be … a parking lot. Some producers include a fenced-in section of open concrete in their grow-out houses, with enough room for maybe 5 percent of the thousands of chickens in that house, and this may technically satisfy the term. (Although Mr. Kastel is seeing indications that the Obama administration may crack down on this.)
Chef Schneller noted, though, that not all operations are cynical. “The chickens might have more space, access to sunshine. They won’t be foraging, though, so it’s not a taste or nutrition issue. It might be more humane.”
What some producers and farmers call “pastured” chicken is much more in line what with many people think they’re getting with free range. This means that the birds are actually kept in coops at night, but are left to forage on grass, seeds, worms, etc., during the day. They might be fed grain as well, but they have access to a greater variety of food in their diet, and the result is much more richly flavored meat and eggs — and a much more humane life for the birds. It’s also much more expensive to raise chickens this way, because of the amount of space required and how that limits how many chickens you might be able to raise at a time. What’s more, chickens can quickly turn a field into a moonscape with their pecking, so true pastured chickens will often be moved around a very large pasture as areas they’ve torn up need time to regrow.
Unfortunately, “pastured” isn’t a legal term yet, so consumers have to do their own research on the brands that use this label.
This is one of the most classically misleading marketing terms in all of food. While it’s not entirely true that anything can be called “natural,” the term has nothing to do with how a chicken is raised. It simply means that nothing has been added to the bird after slaughter — no flavoring, no brines, no coloring, etc. In an effort to curb some of the confusion around this label, the USDA requires marketers to say specifically what they mean when they use the term, such as “no artificial flavors” or some such.
According to Chef Schneller, this is a term that gets into a gray area. The chicken might be pumped up with a broth made from the bones of that animal. But it could also mean that sugar is added, or “natural flavoring,” whatever that might mean.
No hormones; No antibiotics
Actually, by law, hormones are not allowed at all in chicken production, so labels saying “no hormones” are just pure marketing. Antibiotics are a little more tricky, since they are allowed in conventional chicken production (not organic), but theoretically so long before the birds are turned into food that there should be no antibiotic residue in the finished product.
This is a still-rare but increasingly popular technique. The vast majority of chicken is “water-processed,” meaning the meat is chilled in cold pools. But with that much meat going through these pools, the water has to be chlorinated to kill bacteria, so you might not really want that. (Realistically, you’ll get way more chlorine in you if you accidentally gulp down a little swimming pool water, but still.) Air chilling is a more time-consuming and more expensive process, but the chicken skips the chlorine dip. And many chefs report that air-chilled birds have better flavor and skin that gets crispier. Chef Schneller called it “a definite positive.”
What about slaughter?
Conventional chickens are slaughtered in a way that involves electrified water, which is there theoretically for the chickens’, er, “comfort.” (The idea is that an upside-down dip into the pool will shock and stun them immediately, before they go through the mechanized kill line.) But many report that it doesn’t always work that way; you can imagine the horror stories. Animal welfare superhero Temple Grandin is working with several companies to convert to a process that lulls the chickens to sleep before slaughter, and if that’s something you’re interested in, the brands are Bell & Evans and Mary’s Chickens.
But don’t expect labeling on this any time soon. One of the biggest problems with clarity on how your chicken was slaughtered is the fact that, well, no one wants to be reminded that the chicken he’s buying had to be killed. “Slaughtered without terrorizing or torturing the bird!” doesn’t quite have the marketing oomph that, say, “All natural” or “Clean as angel’s breath” has.
These terms only refer to Muslim and Jewish religious criteria, respectively, mostly governing the slaughter of the birds. The labels have to be granted by religious authorities, not the government.
That said, some people insist on the higher quality and more humane treatment of birds with these labels. Both Chef Schneller and Mr. Kastel said that these claims can be true. Schneller noted that the simple fact of adding another layer of supervision, and especially, a more time-consuming slaughter that is done by hand (as opposed to the machines big producers use), may slow down the process enough that producers may be able to notice more that’s going wrong. And Kastel noted that one of the principles of kosher meat production is being very careful that the animal isn’t sick. So having someone specifically look for lesions and signs of disease in the birds is very helpful. Even though he lives near the site of the biggest kosher chicken scandal in history — a packer who was charged with abusing animals, exploiting workers, and a host of other crimes — he’s confident that the label is still mostly worthy of trust.
Finally, Schneller also adds that kosher birds are typically washed with salt, so they in a sense come pre-seasoned, and can taste better that way.
Organic: The best label of them all?
Mr. Kastel is a firm believer that, at this point, “organic” is the best and most powerful label in chicken production (but not necessarily the signifier of the absolute best quality and most humane treatment; for that, he suggests you get to know a chicken farmer).
It’s a term with legal weight and the USDA enforces it. What it means for a chicken is that 100 percent of its feed (except maybe mineral supplements) must be certified organic, which means in itself that it has been grown in a field that has not seen chemical fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides or genetically modified organisms for at least three years.
In addition to the feed, certain husbandry techniques are prohibited in organic production. Since antibiotics are not allowed at all, chickens can’t be contained in the literal wing-to-wing density that conventional producers use; with that cramming, it would be impossible to keep disease at bay without drugs.
By law, organic chicken also has to be “free range,” and while that term has its problems, the greater resources to inspect and certify organic producers means that this characteristic will at least be scrutinized to some degree in an organic bird.
“In general, you can trust the organic label, especially if you do the extra homework to look into the producer. It’s the only label that has legal bite,” Kastel says. That said, the really best way to know about the chicken you buy, he says, is to meet a farmer at a market and ask him or her to let you visit his or her chickens. “They are usually very enthusiastic about it. Good farmers are proud of what they do. They’re going to welcome visitors. And if they don’t, find a different farmer.”
Article written by Francis Lam. Francis Lam is a Senior Writer at Salon. Original article can be found here.
Both of my kids are fruit lovers. Getting them to eat their veggies can be a struggle. So I wasn’t holding out much hope when I gave them some “superhero and princess chips” that would give them special powers! They ate them all up! The hardest part was sharing – not them, ME! I LOVED these chips and wanted them all for myself!
- 1/4 cup Homemade Breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- heaping 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup cold milk (I used oat milk)
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 1/2 cups sliced zucchini (about 2 small zucchinis)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In a medium bowl combine breadcrumbs, cheese (if using) and black pepper.
- In separate bowl add flour, milk and vinegar. Gently stir until combined but do not over stir.
- Dip zucchini slices in flour mixture and then dredge in breadcrumb mixture.
- Place coated zucchini slices on a baking sheet (I line mine with non stick foil for easy clean up!) and bake for 30 minutes, flipping the slices over once halfway through cooking, or until browned and crisp.
Makes 2 servings.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 224.5, Cal. from Fat: 33.5, Total Fat: 3.5g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Carbs: 41.5g, Fiber: 6.5g, Sugars: 12g, Protein: 9g, Sodium: 459mg, Chol: 0mg
These chips are best eaten right out of the oven. They don’t save well.
If you follow this blog at all you know that I LOVE asparagus. There is never a time when I don’t have asparagus in my fridge. With the daily temperatures just hitting 20 degrees outside I figured it was time to put that asparagus to good use in a nice creamy hot soup. This soup totally hit the spot! The flavor is absolutely delicious and the hint of white wine takes this soup to the next level! Even if you don’t live in the frigid Midwest you’ll still enjoy this soup!
- 2 pounds asparagus, hard ends removed
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 5 cups low sodium chicken broth (you can also use vegetable broth for a vegetarian soup)
- 1/3 cup low fat buttermilk
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp dry white wine
- A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- Cut tips from 8 asparagus about 1 1/2 inches from top. Reserve for garnish. Cut the stalks and all remaining asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces.
- Heat a 6 quart soup pot over low heat, add olive oil and onions. Cook onion, stirring, until softened.
- Add asparagus pieces, add salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Add 5 cups broth and simmer, covered, until asparagus is very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- While soup simmers, cook reserved asparagus tips in boiling salted water until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then drain. You can also steam them in a steamer bag.
- Using an immersion blender purée soup until smooth. You can also use a regular blender by working in batches (return soup to the pot once smooth).
- If you want a very creamy texture, you can put the purée through a food mill or press it through a sieve.
- Stir in buttermilk, white wine and a squeeze of lemon juice. Cook for 10 more minutes on low heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. ENJOY!
Makes about 4 servings.
Serving size about 2 cups.
Nutrients per 1 cup serving: Calories: 114, Cal. from Fat: 45.5, Total Fat: 4.5g, Sat. Fat: .5g, Carbs: 12g, Fiber: 4.5g, Sugars: 6g, Protein: 6g, Sodium: 148mg, Chol: 7mg
This soup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also freeze the soup in freezer safe containers for up to 6 months.