Diet Changes & Weight Loss Can Help Reduce Hot Flashes

A new study from the Kaiser Permante Women’s Health Initiative has shown that dietary changes and modest weight loss helped significantly ease the occurrence of hot flashes and night sweats in study participants. Of the over 17,000 post-menopausal women studied, those who ate a low-fat diet high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables and also lost weight during the year-long study experienced the highest reduction of their symptoms.

While previous studies had shown that weight gain and high body weight were most associated with increased symptoms like hot flashes, this was the largest survey to date that attempted to answer the question of whether eating a healthier diet could help women reduce the level of symptoms they experienced.

“Since most women tend to gain weight with age, weight loss or weight gain prevention may offer a viable strategy to help eliminate hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause,” said Bette Caan, DrPH, a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research and the senior author of the study.

“Weight loss, especially loss of fat mass but not lean mass, might also help alleviate hot flashes and night sweats,” according to the study’s authors.

Other studies have shown similar symptom reductions in breast cancer patients when weight gain is prevented after their initial diagnosis.

 

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Pesto

Heirloom tomatoes are my obsession!

There is nothing better on a hot  summer day than a lunch or dinner with a great tomato salad. This particular picture was an entry for a fundraiser cooking contest. The salad was an honorable mention, and is featured in the Rockville Bank 150th anniversary charity cookbook.

White, striped, pink, & green tomatoes are all represented on this plate. Markets  such as Trader Joe’s and Wholefoods carry heirlooms year round. If you are unable to find in your local market, try summer time farmers markets. Not only will you find colorful tomatoes, but purple potatoes, fresh herbs, local melons, unusual squashes and delicious native corn. The flavors of local summer veggies is outstanding compared to super market fare. A red perfect tomato from the supermarket is grown for beauty and durability for transport, The taste and nutrition had been bred out! Scientific American had a recent report on how taste has become diminished.

What you need

  • 1 lb or more various tomatoes, cherry to beefsteak, caution do not refridgerate
  • Fresh log of mozzarella cheese like BelGioioso cut into 1/8″ slices
  • A Bunch of fresh basil about 4 cups of leaves, washed and all stems removed, you can combine Sweet Italian, purple or Thai depending on taste preference. Save  some leaves for garnish.
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup Olive oil or other neutral preferred oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional squeeze of lemon to preserve Basil’s color
  • Garlic  cloves optional
  • Pine (pignoli) nuts optional or Walnuts if pine nuts are unavailable
  • Aged balsamic vinegar

Combine fresh basil and optional garlic and nuts with 1/2 of the olive oil and pulse in a food processor. Add oil as needed to create a paste. If leaves do not grind it is an indication you may need more oil, you may need to use a spatula to move all leaves into the blade. If paste is runny add more basil. The paste should be green and smooth. I do not add salt until after adding cheese. When pesto is smooth add Parmesan and pulse gently.  over processing can COOK the cheese. The ratio should be 8:1, Basil to oil.

Slice  Beefsteaks, slice or quarter all your medium tomatoes, leave cherry tomatoes whole or halve. Remember do not refrigerate fresh tomatoes if it can be avoided.

Just before serving, assemble your platter with larger tomato slices at the base, separate slices with mozzarella. I tiered my salad with 3 layers of  beefsteaks and decorated the platter with  alternating colors and sizes. Garnish with basil leaves.

Drizzle pesto on salad or serve on the size. Serve Balsamic as a side as well.

This salad does not need to be dressed, the olive oil in the basil  combined with balsamic to taste, is the perfect dressing.

This is my Favorite summer time meal!

 

What to do with Squash Blossoms?

All those huge beautiful male squash blossoms go to waste on the plant. Only the female blossoms that already have a squash started on the base will develop into a squash.  Summer or Winter,  both are tasty treats if you think outside of the box.

Pick them either at night before they open or first thing in the morning. Picking them at night prevents  surprise guests from your snack, like bees, spiders and other crawlies.

You can store unopened blossoms for several days if stored gently,  I wrap in paper towel in a sandwich bag or plastic container.

My favorite recipes includes

  • Goat cheese, sundried tomatoes & basil
  • Feta, mint & pine nuts or olives
  • Low fat spreadable herb cheese
  • Ricotta, Parmesan, basil and sundried tomato

Pre-mix the cheese with minced additives

Closed Squash blossoms can be gently blown open to fill, check for critters, some prefer to snip the stamen before filling

Fill each blossom with a tablespoon of cheese, and close by running fingers up from the base of flower. you may fix ahead and cook  later in the day

Preheat oven to 325, make a wash of egg or egg substitute , gently coat with  your favorite breadcrumbs, we use gluten free. Spray a baking dish with Pam, bake 15-20 minutes.

Serve on a bed of field greens as an appetizer, or  as the main ingredient of a salad

You can pan fry or deep fry. When calorie counting baking is best.

 

 

 

Tabouli Style Quinoa Cold Salad

Love love love. Quinoa replaces couscous from the traditional recipe. Wheat allergies  can restrict  many from enjoying this delicious cold salad which is usually  made with wheat berries and/or couscous. Those requiring  a Gluten-free lifestyle can enjoy and be satisfied. Quinoa is easy to cook and versatile, it adapts to flavors readily. Quinoa  is great served hot or cold and packs a protein punch. Quinoa is an ancient grain, that is being rediscovered by chefs and home-cooks looking for healthier options.

Like any good salad there is no wrong way to make this dish, its all about your favorite flavors. Experimentation is allowed in cooking. Steffie makes it a little different every time. We often add  tuna to leftover quinoa salad, for a quick heartier lunch.

What you need

  • 1 Cup of uncooked Quinoa, available with rice, ethnic food sections, and specialty food aisles
  • 1 Cup of your favorite stock or bullion cube, chicken or vegetable work best
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice or Real lemon concentrate
  • 1/4 cup of minced mint
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, use enough to desired consistency
  • 1 cup of peeled, seeded, 1/4″ diced cucumber
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional add ins: Olives, capers, minced sun-dried tomatoes, Feta cheese, shallots,  or garlic.
  • Substitutions  or additional herbs to add to the mint are parsley for a milder flavor, or oregano for a Mediterranean flair. Basil in combo with sun-dried tomatoes and grated parm can make it Italian!

Prepare Quinoa as directed on package with broth, lemon and water

Fluff with fork when done, thoroughly chill.

Add remaining ingredients to chilled quinoa. Using olive oil serves two purposes, it dresses the salad in combo with the acid of the lemon, and also keeps the salad from caking.

Salt to taste, occasionally sun-dried tomatoes may be salty when not packed in oil. Capers and Kalamata olives also are naturally salty. If sun-dried tomatoes are oil packed, reduce the amount of olive oil

Chill and enjoy, the taste improves daily. Makes 4 or more servings

Nutrition Data, 1 cup cooked quinoa: 155 cal, 30g carb, 3g fat, 5.5g protein, 3g fiber, estimated glycemic load 18

 

 

Chicken Piccata Meatballs-Gluten Free

I love Chicken Piccata,  Lemony, Salty with Capers, Yummy. With a side of pasta even better. This recipe is Wheat Free, served with my favorite Orecchiette gluten free pasta.

Packed with a double hit of Protein packed Quinoa. You don’t need to be Gluten free to  enjoy this. Quinoa is the binder instead of Breadcrumbs. You can sub breadcrumbs, gluten free or not. You favorite pasta will do too. Serves 4-8 depending upon portion control. Meatballs can be served as an appetizer.

  • 1 lb of ground Chicken, Turkey or Ground Turkey Breast can be substituted
  • 1 cup Quinoa, cooked with lemon and  broth
  • 4 Bullion cubes made with 4 cup water or 4 cups broth divided for Quinoa prep and sauce
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice, or Real lemon
  • 1/2 cup capers or chopped salty olives(kalamata type), divided
  • 1 shallot ir 2 cloves garlic
  • 1  fresh green or colored pepper, diced fine
  • 1 tsp Oregano or Italian seasoning
  • 1 egg well beaten optional, or 1/4 Eggbeaters
  • 2 tablespoons Corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons butter or oil optional
  • 1 lb of your favorite pasta prepared at serving time
  • Favorite grated cheese

Spray non-stick pan. Saute shallot, peppers with 1/4 cup of broth until tender. Set aside and cool. Remove veggies which will be mixed into the meat, retain liquid in the saute pan for the sauce.

Prepare 1 Cup quinoa, with 1 3/4 cup Broth, and 1/4 cup lemon, allow to cool. It can be used as you would couscous.  Makes 3 cups.  You can serve it with the meatballs, or save the other 2 cups at another time.

In mixing bowl,  break apart Chicken, add half the capers, cooled veggies and ONE cup of cooled quinoa. Add optional well beaten egg or 1/4 cup eggbeaters. Get down and dirty, mix thoroughly with your hands. Preheat oven to 350 degees. Spray a cookie sheet with gluten free spray. Form walnut sized  meatballs, and place on cookie sheet without touching.

Bake for 25 minutes, 1/2 way thru carefully turn with tongs.

While the meatballs are baking,  add 2 tablespoons of broth or butter into the saute pan on low that the peppers and shallot were cooked in. Sift the cornstarch in slowly while whisking on low heat. As mixture thickens, continually add broth to the desired consistency.

Finally add meatballs and remaining capers and simmer for an additional 20 minutes (very low). Some prefer this sauce to be a thinner broth for a more rustic style. Steffie prefers a clingy thicker sauce, that sticks to your pasta.

Prepare pasta, and serve, sprinkle with your favorite cheese.

Meatballs can be served as an appetizer,  put into soups, or even a meatball grinder.

Weight Watcher and Gluten-free friendly

 

 

Low Calorie-Meat Chili -Super Bowl Perfect

This is made for my gluten free, nitrate free, nearly vegetarian  best guy!!! It’s on the stove right now. Ground Turkey, Chicken or Buffalo can be used to maintain the lo-cal theme.

Ingredients for six servings

  • 1lb ground meat
  • 1 large pepper or 3/4 cup mixed peppers including hot pepper, diced small
  • 1 medium onion chopped fine
  • 1 clove  garlic or more to preferred taste, finely minced
  • 1 carrot chopped fine
  • 1 can  favorite beans, black, pinto, red kidney, you get the idea
  • 1 small can or 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock. 2 cubes bouillon and 2 cups water as a substitute
  • 1 cup kitchen ready crushed tomatoes or 1 cup finely diced fresh tomatoes
  • Chili, taco or fajita spice (watch for wheat ingredients if  need is glutenfree, or homemade spice mix
  • salt, pepper to taste

Saute in a non stick pan, onions, carrots and pepper until onions start to caramelize,   add ground meat. Chop into small bits as you saute,  thoroughly cook and brown, add clove garlic finely chopped, add a few tablespoons at a time of broth if mixture is too dry. Add spice mixture to taste.

Remove from heat.Allow to cool, enough to add to a food processor. I use my Magic Bullet Grinder for processing and do in small batches, add tomatoes and blend, to a rough smoothness. My last batch I did extra smooth.

Place mixture in a crockpot or  2 qt sauce pan, add your favorite beans. Add broth to desired thickness, simmer on low for 1 hour, or crockpot on low for two hours or more. Add more broth if  mixture becomes to thick. the broth will cook off and also be absorbed while cooking.

Serve as entree with rice, as tacos or in rolls. Gluten free eating?  Try Udi’s new line of hotdog and hamburger rolls, they are  the best find! How about Gluten-free Corn bread.

Weight Watcher points is 5 for Ground Chicken. 6 for Buffalo, the lowest is Ground 99% Turkey Breast a 4 points. Regular Ground Turkey  93% is 5 points.  If you are a beef lover and can’t go without it ranges from 4-8 depending on leanness of the meat. Weight Watcher recipe is 8 points posted on twitter  1/29

 

Super Bowl Dishes- Pulled Pork

There are so many ways to build a yummy pulled pork meal or sandwich.This recipe will serve about 10,  reduce the ingredients for smaller portions, or freeze cooked batches into serving size.

You need a big hunk of pork, apple cider vinegar,spices & time and patience, a minimum of 4 hours.  It’s yum. You need 1 pork shoulder about 8 lbs, pork butt or pork roast. Center cut pork roast is too lean. For quicker cooking you can use  pre-cut ‘country style’ ribs.Country style ribs are the blade end of a pork loin, halved crosswise then sawed into 1″ or greater strips. They will appear 1″ x 6″ long and have a good lean to fat ratio to create tenderness.  A piece of pork with a  fatty appearance will make  tender, moist pulled pork. If you can get your butcher to butterfly or bone, a bone in piece is preferred. The first stage of cooking is roasting and caramelizing bone in meats that will develop a richer taste.

  • Pork, bone in preferred, cut into large 6″ chunks or Butterflied
  • 1-2 quarts Chicken Stock or bouillon made from  cubes or powder
  • 2-3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup each mirapoix- diced Carrots, Onions & Celery
  • 2 tablespoons  vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Green, or Variety Peppers cut into strips.  Jalapeno optional
  • 2 tablespoons Salt, 1 tablespoon Pepper & these spices: 2 tablespoons Chili Powder, 1 tablespoon each Cumin, Oregano, Garlic powder-optional, Pepper flakes-optional.  OR if You have Adobo Brand Spice Mix, Use 4 tablespoons plus Cumin and Chili powder Only
  • 1/3 cup Brown Sugar
  • Condiments optional, BBQ sauce, Bread & Butter Pickles, Spicy mustard.
  • Slider Rolls or Corn Bread

Mix Thoroughly all dry ingredients, Sugar, Salt, pepper and spices. I do taste mixture to see if it needs a little something. DO NOT add extra salt at this time, you can always salt later, chicken broth will also add salt.

Rub mixture into all surfaces of the meat,  The more surface areas exposed and spiced the better the depth of flavor. Let set for an hour or more as a dry marinade in the fridge. Overnight is better.

Preheat oven to 350, If you have a convection use the fan feature. You can also grill in a BBQ on indirect heat. In large open pan roast or indirect BBQ for at least 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Turn frequently to allow all sides to brown. If you want to omit the sugar due to dietary concerns, the fat will still allow the meat to caramelize without it. The roasting and then simmering method with spices and vinegar produces, the savory, sweet, spicy, yummy taste they call Umami.

While meat is roasting saute the mirapoix mixture in the vegetable oil,  allowing a light caramelization,  the vegetables do not need to be cooked until soft.

In a large dutch oven, stock pot or crock pot, place cooked vegetables. Add 3 cups of stock and one cup of cider vinegar. Remove meat from oven, place cooked meat into stock pot. Deglaze the pan (add 1 cup of stock to pan), scrape all bits of browned pieces and spices into the liquid, pour all of the liquid into the pot with the meat. Add Green pepper mixture.

Add a combination of Vinegar &  remaining stock to completely cover the meat. Ratio should be 1 part vinegar to 3 parts stock. 1/4 cup to 3/4 cup ratio.

Stove-top, simmer meat on low for 2-3 hours until fork tender. Set crock pot on low for about 6 hours. You can use a pressure cooker for 30-45 minutes to accomplish the same. Do not completely submerge in liquid. Fill liquid to 1/3 full only. When pressure cooking check  half way through to make sure all liquid has not been dissipated.

After meat is tender, it should shred when touched with a fork. Remove all pork to a platter. Strain leftover liquid, and reserve, this will be your liquid to keep your pork moist. Liquid can also be used on the side as a mopping sauce. The liquid may be fatty, skim fat from top as it rises.

Pull pork apart with two forks to shred. Remove all bones and fat and discard. Place shredded pork into a foil tray for warming or back into crock pot. When pork is finished, add only enough of the reserved liquid to moisten the pork. It should not be soupy. Keep heated until serving, or refrigerate and reheat before serving.  Cooked meat can also be frozen.

Serve as a main meat with cornbread or as sandwich/sliders. Reserved liquid can also be used southern-style as a side mopping sauce. Add your favorite BBQ sauce or spicy mustard as condiments.  Butter pickles also adds a nice twist. For those with needing a gluten free option, serve with Gluten Free Cornbread, or Breads. Udi’s make a great selection of bread and rolls. Homemade Cornbread or muffins is pretty easy.

You can cook with an oven only method without  liquids if you prefer. LEAVE WHOLE. Roast or indirect BBQ for 3 1/2-4  hours as a whole pork shoulder or butt @ 275 degrees. Remove, wrap completely with foil for 1 hour after cooking. Set on counter to cool. After an hour the meat will still be warm to hot, shred and remove all fat and bone before serving. De-glazing the pan with chicken stock and little vingar will give you a bit of liquid to keep the meat moist. It will be a bit drier, but tasty.

 

Super Bowl Event Dishes-Taco Bar

Lets make a Taco Bar. You can prepare and precook all the day before, Gluten Free options are included

Premade taco shells will save you time but you can use fresh toasted corn tortillas to be authentic and to save money. Provide soft flour tortillas for those  that would prefer less of a crunch. Use your favorite salsa, or make a fresh one. Left over shredded pork, chicken of beef or a combo or traditional ground taco meat. You can lighten with Turkey, Buffalo or Ground Chicken instead of Beef. All sorts of fun condiments will make it a hit.

This recipe is for 4 full servings, double for 8, triple for 12 and so on for more.

  • 12 taco shells, pre-made or fresh/toasted, or 6″ flour for soft tacos(non gluten free)
  • 1lb of ground meat, Turkey, Chicken, Beef, pork or Buffalo*** any shredded leftover meat or fish can be used for a refined touch
  • 1 envelope of Seasoning or homemade  seasoning to taste
  • Salsa of fresh made from ingredients below
  • 1lb ripe tomatoes, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1/2 cup red onion small 1/4″ dice
  • 1  seeded jalapeno optional, minced fine
  • 2  tablespoons fresh Cilantro or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1 lime or lime 2 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 1/2 head of your favorite lettuce, Iceberg, romaine or ‘field’ greens for a gourmet touch
  • Shredded Cheese, Mexican Blend, Mozzarella, Monterrey Jack, Cheddar,  or a real treat a Mexican Cheese suitable for crumbling, Ranchero® Queso Fresco, yummy
  • Condiments: sour cream, chopped black olives, jalapenos-fresh or canned, Guacamole or Avocado Slices

Day before, make the salsa. In large nonmetallic bowl, add all the following ingredients together

  • Core tomatoes, chop into a 1/4 inch dice, strain off  excess tomato liquid,  preserve liquid
  • add chopped red onion to bowl
  • seed jalapeno and minced/or chop into an extra fine dice, or use 1 table spoon canned chilies as a substitute, Jalapeno may be too hot for children and others and is optional
  • Finely mince cilantro removing tough stems, substitute  dry cilantro leaves, parsley can be substituted if cilantro is unavailable
  • squeeze entire lime into the mixture
  • *****for a different twist add fresh kernels of corn, a few table spoons of cooked,black beans, fresh crushed clove of garlic or finely minced cucumber, anything  different can make it your own unique recipe
  • Mix well and store in a glass or plastic bowl, refrigerate for at least 12 hours for best flavor

Saute meat in a nonstick pan, brown well, after draining fat, add preserved tomato water, add taco spice or homemade taco spice blend. For an extra kick, add minced garlic,  onions, shallots while browning.  If meat is cooked day before, reheat just before serving. See homemade spice instructions.

Time to Serve- assemble a counter space with Taco Fixins

Tacos, Warm Taco Meat, fish or shredded meats,  Various Cheeses, Lettuce, Condiments and Salsa,  there is no wrong way to assemble a taco-ENJOY

This recipe is Gluten Free friendlily when you omit flour tortillas and premade taco seasoning and make your own. See make your own

Shepards Pie

When I was a kid, Shepard’s pie was a basic, burger and mash concoction with a can of corn. I loved it, comfort food. Gram or mom would mash the potatoes, add them to the top of the cooked  crumbled burger, smooth out the potatoes and score lines on the top, sprinkle with paprika and bake.  Plain simple and Homey.

Basic Shepard’s pie. , I bake in a  Shallow baking dish, or pie plate

  • 1lb  ground meat
  • 1 small onion or shallot
  • 1 lb of cooked vegetables, corn, peas, mixed etc
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • 2lbs potatoes, cut into cubes, boiled and mashed
  • 1 cup milk, preferably low fat or skim
  • 2 tablespoons butter for mashed, optional

Initial cooking and assembly should take less than a half hour, Baking will be another 25 minutes

  • Brown meat  and diced onion in nonstick pan, crumble fine, Meat should brown without becoming crisp and over cooked. Remove extra fat before moving to baking dish
  • Cube, boil to fork tender and mash potatoes, for a rustic look leave skins on, add salt, pepper, milk and optional butter while mashing
  • vegetables should be precooked if frozen or fresh, canned can be used as is
  • preheat oven to 325 degrees, layer vegetables first, well drained,  ground meat, and then mashed, The potatoes are your crust. Spread potatoes smoothly until they cover meat uniformly. With tines of fork, run lines across the top to decorate. You can make a smiley face for the kids. If  using butter in the mash the top lines will brown on their own,  you can add a spray of cooking spray on top for the same effect, to cut calories and omit butter.
  • bake for 25 minutes, a few extra for a browner top
  • Serve with a side salad for a balanced meal, serves 6-8

Tips to cut the calories & make gourmet

  • Use Ground Turkey Breast, Turkey, Chicken or Buffalo
  • To add Flavor, Saute ground meat with savory herbs, Sage, Tarragon, Rosemary or Oregano
  • Add garlic, Mushrooms,  pearl onions, Spinach or other vegetables to meat during the browning
  • Top with any combination of Sweet Potatoes, Winter Squash or mashed Cauliflower in substitution of potatoes.
  • This is a Gluten free recipe, Made with Ground Turkey Breast, Mashed potatoes with skim milk and mixed vegetables is is Weight Watcher Friendly at 4.5 points for 8 servings, 6.1 points for 6 servings, If you’re real hungry  9 points for 4 servings. No guilt.
  • Recipe made with Beef, Butter, Whole milk, would be 8-15 points depending on serving size.

 

Pesto Extravaganza

I love Pesto, that basil,sweet, savory, clingy topping to pasta.  The Hungry Girl, just perked up my appetite with her new Guilt free option, Gluten-free as well. It’s easy to grow your own Basil in the garden or a kitchen herb planter box. Freeze pesto for quick meals. Pesto is a NO-COOK sauce, really convenient, the addition of warm pasta or spaghetti squash releases the yummy savory aroma.

Hungry Girl‘s savory concoction omits most of the oil with Fat free Ricotta Cheese Pesto recipe,  maybe i”ll  try it tonight.

Steffie’s Basic Pesto for Pasta, or Spaghetti squash

  • 2 cups fresh Green Sweet Basil, thoroughly washed, stems removed. towel dried or spun
  • 1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil, preferred
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano, or Romano
  • nuts are optional 1/4 cup Pignola(pine), Walnuts or almonds, pulsed or chopped fine
  • 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice, or juice from fresh squeezed. To preserve color
  • 1/2 teaspoon  salt optional
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, optional for a twist use a shallot

In a food processor, process basil, garlic, salt and 2 teaspoons of juice into a paste. Add oil and thoroughly blend, it should be thick and smooth. Add nuts and blend, add cheese last, the cheese can heat and melt if it is over processed. For thinner sauce add extra oil.

To serve,  cook your favorite pasta, drain return to pot or serving dish,  stir in desired amount of pesto.  The heat of the pasta will release all the flavors and aroma in the pesto, serve immediately. Serve with Extra grated cheese on the side. For a decadent flair add  1/4 cup of cream to a lb. of hot pasta, before adding the pesto. Reduce cream amount for smaller portions.

Pesto freezes well, to freeze, drizzle lemon juice or oil on top to avoid darkening and freezer burn from exposure to the air. An Ice cube tray works great for single servings. Another great use, the cubes can be added to a pasta sauce, still frozen to give it great Basil flavor.

Options

  • Purple Basil pesto, sub. 1/2 cup of Purple Basil
  • Spicy kick, add spicy Thai basil and a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Sun-dried tomato pesto,  add 1/4 cup well chopped sun-dried tomatoes to the basil leaves when processing.
  • Mediterranean version, 2 cups  Fresh parsley instead of Basil, 2 tablespoons fresh  Mint and 1 teaspoon dried  oregano,  add 3 tablespoons of lime juice instead of lemon, Feta cheese instead of Grated Italian cheese. Add a few seedless black olives for a variation.

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Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets-adapted-lower calories

Betty Crocker has started developing a line of Gluten Free products,  The GF Chocolate chip cookies are one of the best.  but it’s still second best to my Steffie’s Version of  Bob’s Redmill Recipe made with their pancake mix, delicious, closest thing to Entenman’s.

This is a terrific recipe made with Corn Chex.Their recipe says 25 servings , they mean 25 nuggets@ 25 calories each. This is also great for a salad meal topper! This recipe should serve 4 or more. Rule of thumb 3-4 ounces of raw chicken is an adult serving. This recipe omits 300 calories of butter and 120 calories  from 1 cup of Chex® cereal . The addition of the yogurt is under 70 calories, but they are nonfat dairy,  protein loaded calories. Any WeightWatcher would love!

Steffie has adapted to reduce the calories and spice it up!

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, breasts or tenders, cut into 1×1-inch chunks
  • 2 Cups of Rice or Chex Corn Cereal® cereal
  • 1/2 single size container of Chobani Greek nonfat yogurt
  • 1/4 cup grated cheese, optional,
  • 2 tsp of chili, cumin or paprika powders and other savory/spicy herbs of preference divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or onion powder optional
  • pinch of salt and pepper each

In a nonmetallic bowl combine Chobani or other plain yogurt, 1 tablespoon of spice, salt and pepper.  Add cubes of chicken to marinate, coat well. Refrigerate at least one hour. You may marinate up to 24 hours, to enhance flavor and tenderize.  The active ingredients in the yogurt will tenderize the chicken.

Pulse or crush  the Chex® cereal, add grated cheese (optional) and the other teaspoon of spice or herbs. Mix well, store until Chicken has finished marinating.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pre-spray a shallow baking pan or cooking sheet with Nonstick Gluten free spray.

Place Chex® cereal crumb mixture on a plate, Dredge each marinated chunk in mixture, place on cooking tray.

Bake for approx  25 minutes, turn half way thru cooking time. I felt the 400 degree temp  for 17 minutes was a little too high & short in the Betty Crocker Recipe. Chicken should not be pink when cut. Ovens vary in correct readings, I would test at least one for doneness.

If you don’t like yogurt, you can sub two well fork beaten eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute and go right to the cooking process. Chicken Breasts  halves or thighs can be done the same way for a heartier meal, increase the time to 35 minutes. The herb combinations are endless, add oregano for Italian, mint for Mediterranean, Rosemary for savory……

You can also create a dipping/ranch like sauce from another Chobani, with the same herbs and add dehydrated onion or vegetable flakes combined the day before. Even the  Hungry Girl‘ would approve!

Gluten Free book Giveaway

Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s Contest for her VIP GiveAway, this article is pasted from Cheap.com

Facebook entry for getting a chance for her VIP Giveaway
If you don’t win it you can buy it, The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide. The Cheap household is nearly 100% gluten free, this will be a great addition to avoid the Monotony of  limited commercial options. Free recipes with Gluten free options are available @ Cookmethis.com

This is the last week to enter to win an autographed copy of Elisabeth’s new gluten-free cookbook “Deliciously G-Free”. Visit the “Deliciously G-Free Giveaway” tab on our Facebook page to enter . Be sure to share this with your friends on Facebook and be entered to win a free box of NoGii No Gluten High Protein Bars!

Free is cheap!

Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad has endless possibilities

Serve on a Salad or Greens. How about a Sandwich of  Flat Bread,  Flour Tortilla or a Roll. As an appetizer on a cracker.

The Basic mix

  • 2 cups Boneless Chicken, simmered and chilled, or leftovers from a store bought Roasted Chicken, White or dark meat based on preference
  • 1/2 cup of  mayonnaise. Lowfat, reduced fat or fat free are best for the waistline
  • 1/4 cup chopped, celery strings removed
  • Optional, 1/2 cup fresh grape halves or dried fruit such as Dried Cranberries, Golden Raisins, Raisins, plums, cherries etc.
  • Optional, unsalted nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, almonds or pignoli (pine) finely chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste,  fresh or dried herbs to taste, such as Sage, or Tarragon

To assemble

  • Roasted chicken should have all skin and bone remove and chilled before mixing. Home cooked chicken should also be cold before adding mayonnaise. If chicken is simmered in broth do not add salt to salad.

In a nonmetallic bowl mix well

  • Chicken -can be coarsely chopped for a rustic look, diced to 1/4 inch or ground for a smooth spreadable texture.
  • celery, and options of grape halves,dried fruit, nuts
  • Mayonnaise, add less for drier, more for wetter,  conventional ratio is 4:1
  • Salt, pepper and add herbs
  • Refrigerate,  the longer it is chilled the better the flavors are incorporated
  • makes 10 1/2 cup servings

Makes enough for ten sandwiches or salad toppers, used as a cracker spread makes approx. 40 or more.

Sage  mixed with Cranberry gives it a thanksgiving flair. Tarragon has a very savory earthy effect, and is luscious.  The combination of bread  or greens can make it basic or elegant.

Gluten Free Cornbread Stuffing or Croutons

Make recipe for Gluten Free Cornbread,

Two methods, Use Cornbread cubed evenly  in 1/2 cubes or less

  • Air dry on a cookie sheet, until desired dryness.Toss to dry all sides, this may take  a day or more.
  • Set oven on lowest setting in oven, most are 150-170 degrees, slow toast to dry thoroughly. Toss cubes frequently for even toasting or drying. Cubes are ready based on personal preference.
  • Croutons can be sprinkled with you favorite herbs before drying, for salads
  • For stuffing, Sprinkle with Sage or Poultry seasoning before drying.

Store in Sealed container or freeze for future use.

Basic Stuffing,

  • 6 cups cornbread cubes
  • 1/4 cup  butter optional
  • 1/2 cup celery
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1 1/2-2 cups broth
  • sage or poultry seasoning to taste

Place croutons in large mixing bowl

Saute  celery and onions in butter until softened, do not caramelize. If omitting butter, use nonstick spray and add several tablespoons of broth to cook.Remove from heat.

Add 1 cup of broth to saute pan, stir, add to mixing bowl, and mix gently with a soft spatula, do not over work or compress. Cover and let stuffing absorb liquid. After 10 minutes test for  moistness, if stuffing is to dry additional stock.

Use as a pan stuffing, bake for 25 minutes @325, or stuff inside fish, poultry or pork.

Savory Squash Soup

There are many twists on a squash soup, Herbs, Broth and  the natural sweetness of a winter squash is what gives it the Savory Umami goodness. Umami is word  coined by the Japanese for the flavor that is both savory and has hints of other sensations, a mix of tastes together with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Herbiness gives those sensations an oomph!

The staple in a Sqaush soup is generally Butternut squash, But any big meaty Winter Squash can be used including pumpkin. Canned pumpkin can be used as a substitution, if Squash isn’t readily availble. Frozen Butternut squash can be used.

Squash Soup

  • 1 large squash, peeled seeded and cubes into 1 inch pieces- 4-6 cups (large can of pumpkin as a substitute)
  • 1 Box Broth-Vegetable or Chicken, or 4 bullion cubes with 32 oz water
  • 2 Shallots or onion, diced
  • 1 large rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, optional, diced small
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil divided
  • 1 tbs, Rosemary/Thyme, and other savory herbs to taste
  • **** cloves garlic optional
  • equipment  needed: Large bowl, Shallow roasting pan,  blender or food processor, saute pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

To easy peel squash, make several pircings with a knife or fork,microwave squash for 2 minutes on high. Let set for several minutes, peeling should be much easier

Cube squash into 1″ pieces, uniformity is not important, Toss Squash pieces with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil to coat,  sprinkle  very sparingly with salt and pepper. You can always add salt later,   broth will also add salt. You can never ‘un-salt’ once its done.

Place a single layer of squash on the baking sheet, sprinkle with Dried Spices of choice, If fresh is avaible   use 3 stems of rosemary, 1 tsp of minced thyme. ***  Whole cloves of Fresh garlic can also be roasted with the squash as an option.

Bake squash until fork tender and edges are browned an caramelized, about 30 minutes, The caramelization will sweeten and add to the savoriness.

While the squash is roasting, Saute on low-medium heat, your mirapoix , of chopped celery, shallots, and carrot(optional) in the tsp of olive oil. You may omit the olive oil, and use a cooking spray. Do not allow the veggies to burn,  you may add broth  to the saute pan and cover to soften, it also de-glazes the pan.Once softened allow to cool before blending.

Remove the squash from the oven, and allow to cool before blending, remove the woody stems of rosemary.

In batches, blend the sauteed  vegetables and a cup of cubes at a time with a half cup of broth, add additional  broth if mixture is too thick. After blending pour each batch into a soup pot for further simmering. You will have extra broth leftover, you may need to add to the simmering soup if it is too thick. If  you have  made the soup to thin, you can simmer it longer, it will thicken.

Warm the soup on simmer, the longer it simmers the better it tastes. This is the time to add salt, pepper and additional herbs to taste. Steffie’s rule is, ‘Let the person eating do the salting’!

For a richer soup, add cream to finish and a tablespoon of butter.

Other options, you can add, raw or cooked vegetables, cooked meats, or potatoes to add texture and variety. The possibilities are endless. You can also add other root vegetables to the squash such as Carrot, Fennel Bulb, Parsnips, Celery root, the variations are endless.

You can freeze the finished soup.

Pass the Cranberry

Leftover Open-faced Hot Turkey Sandwiches:

  • 2 slices of a Hearty White or Sour Dough Bread per person
    Turkey cut in slices
  • Slices of cold stuffing
  • Cranberry sauce optional
  • Heated gravy
  • Lay slices of bread on oven proof tray, spread slices with cranberry sauce, optional
  • Layer  bread with turkey and stuffing
  • Heat at 325 for 10 minutes
  • Serve with reheated gravy
  • Dig in

Thanksgiving in a Roll-Hot or Cold

  • Favorite bread or roll
  • Layer Turkey, stuffing and cranberry on bread
  • Mayonnaise or Gravy optional

Turkey Pie

I just picked up a ‘Hotel Turkey Breast’, a Full breast with wings, no legs. Our family it’s the favorite part. I can even Stuff it, or bone and roll. But what to do with all the leftovers.

Turkey Pie:

  •  2 Frozen Pie Crusts, thawed or refrigerated ready to use.***See note for gluten free
  • 1 can of Cream of Chicken, Celery soup, or 1 cup of  leftover Gravy, made with cornstarch for Gluten Free
  • 2 cups of  rough chopped Turkey
  • 1 bag of defrosted Mixed Vegetables or leftover thanksgiving vegetables diced (potatoes, onions, squash etc.
  • In large bowl mix together all ingredients except Pie Crust
  • Fill bottom crust with mixture, top with second crust, pinch crusts together, make 2 inch knife slit in center top crust
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until golden brown
  • Let sit for 5 minutes
  • ****For Gluten Free- Omit crusts, Top with 4- cups of precooked mashed potatoes, sweet Potatoes or Squash as a top ‘Crust’
  • Go to Cheap.com for a full page of cheapskate Turkey dishes

Gobble Gobble! Turkey’s not just for Thanksgiving

Turkey breasts and parts are on sale all year round these days, A Sunday Dinner of a turkey breast is not uncommon. Let’s add some yummy recipes for leftover’s. The longer you simmer the better it tastes. Add your favorite spices and vegetables for your own twist.

Go To cheap.com’s page on Turkey leftovers for more recipes.

Turkey soup:

  • 8 cups Turkey or Chicken Broth, substitute 8 cups Water w/chicken bouillon if you’re really cheap. Or cheaper yet make your own broth.
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  •  4  stalks celery chopped
  • 4 carrots diced    *** substitute with 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • Simmer till tender.
  • Add 2 cups diced cooked turkey, bring back to simmer
  • Add 1 cup orzo or small pastina. (Cooked al dente)
    Turn off heat let sit for 1/2 or 1 Hour
  • Heat and Eat, Freeze or Share
  • Makes approx 12 cups

***To make Gluten free add Quinoa or Alternate Gluten Free Pasta

 

Stock The Kitchen, Day Two

If you’re not prepared, a 15 minute meal can take you hours to prepare. Most meals should take 10 minutes or less to prepare, and then you add cooking time. Also, timing is everything,. If the protein takes 25 minutes, pasta shouldn’t be started at the same time. Timing is essential, as well as multi-tasking. For example, you can whip up a salad, while the other ingredients heat in the oven.

Stock the cupboards with staples, your must haves, Use Steffie’s Pantry for a start.

Always have on hand, your favorite Pasta & Sauce, Frozen(steamable) bag vegetables, Rice, Potatoes, and Salad fixins. If you have all that, you can cook anything, and quick.