Category Archives: Kitchen Sync

Foodies creating a better world from meager means. It all begins at home.

Saved Vegetable Beef Soup

vegetable-pixabay

One thing that my limited budget affected is meat in my diet. I’m a fan of non-GMO, organic soy products, free range poultry, fish and organic cheese, but now and then I crave beef. Toward the end of the month supplies dwindled, so I made a pot of vegetable beef soup.

Without beef bones I used boxes of bargain beef broth from the emergency stash. My fresh veggies tasted less than great and the Great Value  beef (alleged) broth tasted like anything but beef – it was just plain yuk. I’m glad to know not to buy the product again.

I got creative and was delighted to not have wasted the food or my efforts. The friends that dropped by admired the end result so, my secret is secure.

Following is the recipe and the save I concocted. I’ve made it a few more times since with homemade stock, good boxed broths, Knorr Homestyle Stock or Knorr bouillon cubes (which contains less sodium than many other brands). Better Than Bouillon is also good.

knorr-soup-base

Since then I also discovered a culinary jewel at my local restaurant supply: Knorr Professional liquid Concentrated Flavor Base. Available in my area in Beef, Chicken and Vegetable, a 32 oz (946 ml) bottle makes 6.25 gallons. They’re gluten free, no MSG, store on the shelf even after opening, and easily dissolve. With 760 mg sodium per cup it’s less salty than bouillon cubes and quite tasty.

Saved Vegetable Beef Soup

Fresh vegetables chopped into bite-sized pieces:
6 celery ribs
6 medium carrots
1 large onion
Bell peppers (I prefer red, orange or yellow)
1 large potato (or 1 1/2 cups cooked rice)
1/3 large head finely chopped cabbage
3 large garlic cloves finely minced
Bunch fresh minced parsley leaves (to taste)
Cover with beef broth (or stock). When homemade stock is not available, use 2 – 3 boxes or hydrated bouillon cubes (omit additional salt)
Salt and pepper to taste

Simmer till vegetables are almost tender (about 20 minutes).

Once veggies are tender add:
2 cups cooked (or canned) beans; black beans (rinsed). Navy, cannellini, great northern or ceci (chickpea or garbanzo) beans are good and the liquid is great in soup.
16 oz frozen corn
½ small can (6 oz/170 g) tomato paste (avoid lumps and thin with some warm broth before adding), or a large can chopped tomatoes.

Stir and cook on medium heat till blended and heated through.

The save:

1 envelope onion soup mix
1 jalapeno or poblano, pasilla, or Anaheim (California or Magdalena) Chile, halved (remove before serving or chop, according to your preference)
Bunch cilantro leaves finely chopped (to taste)
Juice ½ lime (or more to taste). For extra flavor drop rinds in, but remove before serving).

Stir and cook on medium heat till blended and heated through. Remove lime rinds and peppers if desired and serve with crusty bread.

 

“Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous…” 2 Corinthians 9:11 (NLT)

Vegetable image courtesy Pixabay

 

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Eggsact Timing

chicken-coop-pixabay

I get eggs from an obliging neighbor’s chicken coop whenever I can. We’re huge fans of hard-boiled eggs (yolks are rarely on for me), so eggs are a mainstay for fast, easy protein.

Knowing which are fresh can sometimes be tricky, especially with free eggs. We faithfully place eggs in water before cooking. Fresh eggs roll right to their sides. Good, but older eggs stand up or roll around. These are best for hard-boiling. If an egg rises to the top of the water or floats it goes away, preferably unbroken.

 

Yesterday I realized a carton had been in the ‘fridge for longer than I could remember. None lifted, so all were edible, but some moved faster than I like. Remembering Cole loves deviled eggs (okay, and inspired by the marvelous Victo’s post), as I went about other tasks, I boiled them and then deviled them.

Sprinkling them with paprika and finely minced parsley for a festive touch, they were so pretty at my kitchen coffee station, I thought to take a picture and went into the bedroom for my phone. Tickled because I rarely think to shoot a photo, I wanted to share the joy. First I texted Cole that they were there, to please eat them. I didn’t realize the time and the shop has been unusually busy so I didn’t think anyone would respond right away.

I’d already seen Cole earlier, and still hadn’t changed from my lounging flannels, when I heard the door open I delayed long enough to make the bed – I even set the pillows that usually stay on the arm chair in the corner unless I expect visitors. When I heard the door again…

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I returned to the kitchen. Instead of a plateful of eggs all dressed up for the photo, four halves remained. The guys were hungry and the eggs didn’t suck.

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Sometimes my plans go better than I expect. But hey, there’s still lunch, a snack and maybe even breakfast tomorrow.

Oh, and I still haven’t changed from my lounging flannels. Jus’ Sayin’.

To perfectly cook hard-boiled eggs that peel easily every time:

 

 

Cover room temp eggs under  2″ of water and bring to a full, rolling boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes then remove from heat. Let the pot stand (don’t lift the lid) for 10 – 20 minutes. Altitudes (or whatever) vary so you’ll have to figure out the best timing for perfect, yellow yolks. After ten minutes rinse one till it’s cool enough to peel and split. If the yolk’s done to your liking pour out most of the water, fill the pot with ice or ice water and let the eggs cool enough to handle – about 7 minutes.

Once cooled, crack the eggs and then roll them between flattened hands enough for air to get between the membrane and loosen the shell all around, then peel the shells off. Voila!

Quinn’s Deviled Eggs:

For 6 hard boiled eggs, 12 deviled eggs

Slice eggs in half placing yolks in bowl and arrange whites on a serving plate. Into yolks mix 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, with a splash of mustard. We like dijon, but brown or plain yellow prepared mustard is good. You may also like a little more mayonnaise. Be brave and experiment. Add salt and white pepper and mix thoroughly.

We like to grate a tablespoon of onion into the yolks, 1/2 teaspoon of sifted Coleman’s mustard, and a tiny splash of white balsamic vinegar or drops of lime juice. Be bold – find what you like best! Quinn also likes to add a hint of ground, prepared horseradish. Personally I think the horseradish is too many flavors for the pallet, but to each his own.

Pipe mixture into the whites (a zipper sandwich baggie with one corner cut off works) and sprinkle with paprika. I also add a tiny pinch of finely minced parsley during the holidays or chopped, fresh dill is delightful any time.

Advisory: Our family throws caution to the wind and typically prepares at least 3 dozen eggs for family gatherings – and they’re gone before we sit down to the table together.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)

Eggs Freshness Test, Water video courtesy YouTube and HappyEggDelivery.com
Chicken image courtesy Pixabay

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Bliends – Teased

My new friend Patricia at Tea and Tales has my attention. She not only shares reviews of noteworthy books and tea rooms, but her tea suggestions tease my taste buds. If you haven’t met, I highly recommend you pop by and acquaint yourself with some Tennessee charm.

dried pixabay

Last winter I nearly shorted out the old electric oven in our rental home. With too much time on my hands I started drying citrus for teas and potpourri, using the tastier results for the former. Evidently electric ovens at lowest settings create a moisture buildup in the most unfortunate places that can ruin the control panels. Once entirely dried the oven was restored.

However, my present home is equipped with an old gas oven, not a new model with electronic pilots. The oven stays between 115 – 125 degrees (f) whether I utilize it or not. Drying fruits, veggies and teas has become an obsession. On a broiler pan and parchment paper it takes a few days. Granted, a dehydrator is far more efficient, but uses electricity. In a pinch use it anyway (like, for Erin and grand girl’s birthdays, drying 10 pounds of apples into chips in three or four days). It’s also best for more moist items, like pineapple, banana, summer fruits and jerky.

fig rose steepsterA few years back while my daughter-in-love worked for Teavana, they introduced a fabulous Fig Rose tea – and then promptly discontinued it. Villains. I was hooked. I searched, but haven’t found it. I used the last traces of it last winter and have craved it since. I Googled the original blend, obtained the ingredients and filed it. Until this week.

At Sprouts, my favorite local store (within walking distance for me), I noticed dried figs in the bin section. I passed them by for a few weeks until I spotted a display of dried offerings in the vitamin section – dried hibiscus and rose petals including tiny rose hips. We don’t grow any roses or hibiscus. I’m ecstatic!

Fig Rose Tea Ingredients: Almonds, Apple, Beet Root Pieces, Figs, Hibiscus, Hibiscus Flowers, Pineapple, Rose Petals.

I’ve used sliced, raw almonds successfully and dehydrated the remaining ingredients before, so I got right on it.

The first mix of the main ingredients was only slightly disappointing. I missed the caramel and musky undertones, likely from dried jams. Next week I plan to work with brown sugar and see if I can’t come closer to the original flavor.

I assure you, it’s quite worth the effort! I’ll keep you posted.

Image courtesy Steepster.com

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Easy Home-Style Tomato Basil Soup

I practice fasting often, not just during the Lenten season. Recently I took up a liquids-only fast, overlooking our exceptionally scanty pantry. Determined to stay on course, I examined the ingredients on a can of tomato soup. Shoving the idea of a toasted cheese sandwich deep down, I quickly noticed the villainous high fructose corn syrup was the second ingredient listed. I put the can back on the shelf and drifted to the refrigerator.

I considered the marvelous turkey vegetable soup I’d made from frozen turkey stock. Chunky with fresh veggies, it was not exactly liquid, so I returned to the pantry. On a different can of tomato soup, I noticed the first ingredient: “Tomato puree (tomato paste and water).” I fast-forwarded from there.

Grabbing a small can of tomato paste and I was off and running with sudden inspiration for a healthier alternative. The result is so fantastic I made it again the next two days. I would have prepared the soup even if I had received the revelation I’d sought ;).

The soup can be dressed up with cheese; I like a finely grated Italian blend of Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan, Romano, Fontina and Asiago (available even at Walmart) and cheddar is also delicious. Also good to add are sweet corn, tuna or any white, flaked fish, a cup of milk, cream, or yogurt (and crumbled bacon is fabulous when one is not fasting from meat). Plain soup makes a delicious stand alone light meal (with croutons, toast or a sandwich) anytime – but the soup is especially good during a liquid fast!

Easy Home-Style Tomato Basil Soup
Makes 3 – 4 servings, 3 servings approximately 158 calories. 4 servings approx. 210 calories

Ingredients:

1  6 ounce can tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil, rubbed
salt to taste
a few twists of fresh ground pepper blend
6 ounces sweet, red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon. Pinon Noir or Moscato are also good)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 cups warm vegetable stock (bullion is acceptable, but don’t add extra salt)

Extra: finely grated cheese

Directions:

In a medium saucepan slowly brown tomato paste, basil, salt (if your not using bullion) and pepper, over medium heat. Stir constantly being careful not to scorch – you can’t over-brown the tomato paste and the darker, the better. As the paste thickens, gradually and slowly blend in wine in small increments. Continue browning paste and wine. Once the last of the wine is added also add the sugar.

Once all wine is stirred in, sugar dissolves and paste thickens again, slowly and gradually whisk in 3 cups vegetable stock.

Bring soup to a gentle boil and then remove from heat. Spoon into bowls, top with grated cheese and serve. Delicious!

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Black Eye Peas, Black Beans and Mixed Greens

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Snow in Dallas-Fort Worth! Two days ago we basked on the balcony in 70 degree sunshine! One thing I appreciate in North Texas is the unpredictable winter weather.

Maybe the open cabinet doors in the mornings (to prevent frozen pipes), had me wanting warm, rib-sticking and nutritious food.

With a little forethought (and a pantry stocked with dry goods), this recipe is easy to throw together and rounds off nicely with warm sourdough bread, cornbread or biscuits and some steamed spinach or mixed greens on the side (yum).

Black Beans and Black Eye Peas with Smoked Turkey

Cooking time 3 – 4 hours

Gather ingredients:

gather bk beans soup

1 ½ cups dry, black (turtle) beans

1 ½ cups dry, black eye peas

**1 smoked turkey wing, cut into sections or a smoked turkey leg**

1 large onion, chopped

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

 

sm turk onionPlace onion and turkey in stock pot (and red pepper if desired). Cover with 6 cups water.  Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover simmer till meat falls from bones (approximately 2 – 3 hours).

 

As turkey stock comes to a simmer, rinse beans well.  **In separate pots, cover under water 2″, salt to taste, bring to boil and then remove from heat.  Cover, allow to stand till water absorbs, about 1 – 1 ½ hours.  Drain.  Add black beans to stock continue to simmer 1 hour.  Add black eye peas to stock and simmer till all beans are tender, about another hour.

Remove turkey from stock.  Separate meat from bones, gristle, skin, etc.  Return meat to pot.

(**Note:  Though stock will be gray colored from the black beans (so think twice about serving to new guests ; ), this recipe is best with two wings or legs, and 12 cups water and adding washed beans to cook in the stock.  Add black beans an hour before black eye peas.  Again, stock will be gray colored from the black beans, but tastes great!)

For a well-balanced meal serve with steamed greens and garlic toast, corn bread or biscuits.

 

Mixed Greens

I like a mix of collard, mustard and turnip greens, at least one bunch of each (though some prefer one kind only – suit yourself).  It’s important to wash each leaf completely (even washed and prepared bags sometimes have a little sand).

After washing well (till no grit or sand gathers in the sink after draining), cut thick stems away (I munch on them while I cook ;), and coarsely chop all leaves.  Important: rinse leaves in colander and immediately put into a large, covered pot.

Add one whole jalapeno pepper if desired (we like piquant, so I sprinkle with a little pepper brine as well).

For really good, but not necessarily as healthy as plain greens, stir in some pieces of thick sliced, smoked bacon.  Old school cooks used to toss in chunks of fat back, but I like the taste of smoked bacon.

Chunks of daikon radish are also wonderful.

Minimal or no salt required if adding bacon.  Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a slow simmer and cover till greens are entirely cooked down and tender.  Stir and watch carefully to prevent scorching, if pot cooks dry, add water down the side by ¼ cups.  Cook about an hour.  Serve and enjoy!

 

 

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Home Made Muffins – Just Not From Scratch

Among my favorite surprises are spontaneous visits from friends and other loved ones, especially during the holidays. I typically like a challenge, so when someone phones ahead to announce they’re on their way, I spring to action.

Those are also the times when I most appreciate the stash of couponing treasures and clearance items I’ve gleaned from town; the things I wouldn’t otherwise buy. Combined with my old, die-hard habit of up-cycling even food items all come in handy.

orange peel marabuFor example, I wash citrus fruits before peeling them. Then I’ll either peel carefully with a paring knife to dry for teas later on, or I grate the peels and either dry or freeze them.

cranberries odpicturesThis week the pouches of muffin mix that I’d bought just because they were on sale, combined with the fresh cranberries I got the day after Black Friday and tossed into the freezer, and the grated orange peel came into play.

Apples and especially frozen apple juice concentrate* are nearly always a staple in our kitchen and they added pop to the 2nd quick recipe instructions below. A little habitual practice and the sale items kept my secret that the fresh, home made muffins I took from the oven as unexpected visitors arrived weren’t actually made from scratch.

 

Best Quick Orange Cranberry Muffins

cranberry muffins terryb

Ingredients:

1 box or pouch of muffin mix; Cranberry Orange is delightful, but plain works.

3/4 cup frozen cranberries, covered with 1 Tablespoon of sugar, thawed in microwave. Let sit a few (5) minutes.

      OR 3/4 cup dried cranberries

1 Tablespoon dried grated orange peel or fresh grated peel of 1/2 an orange.

1 large or 2 small eggs

3/4 cup water – If orange peel is not available use one third water and tw0-thirds orange juice.

if desired 1/2 chopped walnuts or pecans are nice too.

 

Instructions:

Take a calming, deep breath. Now go!

  1. Preheat  oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Gather bowls, sifter, muffin pans, spoons, ingredients.
  3. If you have paper or foil muffin cups if on hand, great! If not, ‘grease’ those reusable muffin cups or go au naturale and ‘grease’ the pan with non-stick spray, butter, coconut oil or canola oil.
  4. Sift mix into a medium sized mixing bowl using rubber spatula, add cranberries from mix and the extra berries.
  5. In separate bowl slightly beat eggs. Mix in water (and/or juice if orange peel isn’t available), and orange peel.
  6. Make a well in dry ingredients, pour in wet mix and stir until blended, don’t over mix. Fold in nuts if desired.

muffin two thirds

7. Spoon into muffin pan 2/3 full. Bake large muffins 28 – 30 minutes; 9 – 12 muffins 24 – 28 minutes – toothpick inserted into center should come out clean :))

 

 

Quickest Apple Cinnamon Streusel Muffins

apple crumb muffins

Ingredients:

1 box or pouch apple cinnamon muffin mix, (or plain, you’ll add apple juice and grated apple)

1 large or 2 small eggs

3/4 c water  or apple juice if apple isn’t available

1 Small apple, grated (or apple juice :))

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans if desired

apples

If mix doesn’t come with a separate topping, no worries. This one adds the wow factor:

Topping Mix:

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

1/2 cup oats

1/2 cup almond flour (best) or unbleached flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

dash salt

2 dashes cinnamon

2 Tablespoons coconut oil or butter, melted

Instructions:

  1. Preheat  oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Gather bowls, sifter, muffin pans, spoons, ingredients.
  3. If you have paper or foil muffin cups if on hand, great! If not, grease reusable muffin cups or the pan with non-stick spray, butter, coconut oil or canola oil.
  4. Sift mix into a medium sized mixing bowl using rubber spatula – toss in any dried apple pieces from mix.
  5. In separate bowl combine all Topping ingredients except butter or coconut oil. Mix together. Drizzle and toss with melted oil with fork till crumbly and moist.
  6. In separate bowl slightly beat eggs. Mix in water (or juice if an apple isn’t handy) add grated apple.
  7. Make a well in dry ingredients, pour in wet mix and stir until blended, don’t over mix. Fold in nuts if desired.
  8. Spoon into muffin pan 2/3 full. Spoon on Topping mix, tapping each in slightly.
  9. Bake 6 large muffins 28 – 30 minutes, or 9 – 12 muffins 24 – 28 minutes. A toothpick inserted into center should come out clean :))

While muffins bake, whisk away the dishes and then start a pot of coffee or tea!

Answer the door!

Salud, Roo’s Muse!

 

*I often substitute frozen apple juice concentrate for sugar in many recipes ;).

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Dine-N-Dash Olive Spread

In our house we’re usually running on empty and not terribly picky when we finally get to the kitchen. Also not real big on cooking by then, quick and easy is typically the order of the day.

Then there are the times, usually when I’m working the kinks out of a project, I will start preparing one thing, and several rabbit trails later, wind up with at least one something else – often a few new concoctions. Making due with what was in the ‘fridge and the pantry, Opal and I developed the Dine-N-Dash Olive Spread.

This is great to have ready, especially during the festive year-end season. Slightly tedious with the mincing (in my humble opinion machines make mushy stuff – I’m not a fan of mushy), this is one of those great foods you wish you’d thought of an hour before you can almost taste it. It’s worth waiting for when you didn’t think ahead.

Rich and nutritious when spread on celery, peeled sliced jicama, whole grain crackers or baked pita chips, it’s remarkably satisfying, so a little goes a long way. It’s also good in fingertip sandwiches, on mini-rye as appetizer, topped with salmon, shrimp, maybe a sprig of fresh dill, chive or watercress – you get the idea? I think it’s also great in won ton wrappers, steamed, baked or fried too. But then, what isn’t?

appetizers olive spread salmonI typically make a double batch (especially when I have a lot of nervous energy or I must resist stabbing something). It disappears fast during tumultuous stretches, but during calmer times it’s kept well for as long as three days – so far ;). Really, it’s never gotten old at our house. I don’t have photos yet – it’s never around long enough, but I’m inserting some stock shots for now to help inspire you.

breads-on-dish-miyeonLike most everything else in our kitchen, the ingredients are items that are typically on hand. Except for the capers we found on clearance – and weren’t stale dated! Now we’ve developed a craving for them. Leave a comment if you do too!

 

Dine-N-Dash Olive Spread

8 oz softened cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese
2 tablespoons capers, smashed and minced
1 finely minced sweet cherry pepper
1 tablespoon finely minced sun dried tomato
6 oz (dry weight) pitted, minced black olives, (dried olives are great also)
1/2 teaspoon caper brine
1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sweet cherry pepper brine
1/4 teaspoon lime juice
red pepper flakes to taste (I use 1/4 teaspoon, but I like piquant)

First mince the olives, capers, cherry pepper and sun dried tomato. Set aside. In a bowl, blend softened cream cheese (about 20 seconds in the microwave at half power will do in cool months) with the liquids. Once smooth, add all remaining ingredients, mixing well with rubber spatula. Allow to sit. Best made a day ahead – but good luck with that! Don’t be afraid to play with the liquid ingredients – in a separate small dish, a little at a time :). To make a great dip for chips, thin with a splash of milk.

 

 

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Delicious No-Sugar Cranberry-Berry Sauce and Oats

It’s the season we crave stick-to-your-ribs, soul satisfying food. Because of the inclement weather it’s also harder to force ourselves outdoors so we naturally tend to put on Winter weight.

Don’t take it laying down (or curled up in the easy chair all winter). Start by reducing the processed sugars from your diet. Below are two recipes to help make that simple and I included groats (whole oat grain) to cook ahead and reheat.

No Sugar Cranberry-Berry Sauce

12 oz bag cranberries, rinsed
12 oz frozen apple juice concentrate thawed
6 – 8 oz flat blackberries or blueberries
dash salt
Grated peel of 1 small or med orange (tangerine, tangelo, 1/2 grapefruit peel are also good) or (1/4 t. lemon or lime juice)
1 1/2 -2″ piece finely minced crystallized ginger

Assemble in a saucepan, stir gently, bring to boil and then reduce heat immediately. Stir and continue to simmer until cranberries stop popping, about 10 – 15 minutes depending upon your altitude and range top.

Stir and let cool. Taste. Before adding any other sweetener, consider whether you are simply used to a sweeter (sugary) sauce. If desired you can add a tablespoon of agave syrup or honey. This will thin your sauce slightly and add more calories.

Use your imagination using this sauce. Aside from making fowl, ham and most any smoked meat even tastier, another delightful way to use it is in oats.

 

Cranberry-berry Oats

Serves 2

For Microwave combine in deep bowl:

1/2 cup cranberry-berry sauce
1/2 cup 4 oz. (snack cup) unsweetened applesauce
1 1/4 cup apple juice or water
1/2 cup old fashioned (rolled) oats
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Microwave: stir gently, microwave at high heat 3 1/2 mins, stir microwave another 2 1/2 mins
Range top: Combine ingredients in a deep, medium sauce pan, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes depending upon altitude.

Top with 1/4 cup diced walnuts,
1 teaspoon golden flax seed,
1 teaspoon chia seeds

Be creative with your favorite toppings, but watch out for saturated fats (butter, cream) and refined sugars. For example: vanilla powder, cocoa powder, coconut oil, grated unsweetened coconut, a splash of almond milk, cashew milk (and soy creamer is delightful). No added sugar is actually needed!

Frozen, chopped strawberries or blueberries are great during the winter months. I get a bag of frozen mango, pineapple strawberry mix from Aldi, soften in the microwave, chop and add to oatmeal and yogurt for a great energy boost that sticks with you all morning.

 

Groats (whole grain oats, hulls removed)

The healthiest form of oats is simple to cook, but it takes more time. The best advantage to groats is they reheat beautifully in the microwave or on the stove top. I make them ahead and freeze half the batch.

Simply put:

Use 1 part groat grains,
3 parts water,
1 small, grated apple (peels and all, omit seeds), and a
dash of salt.

That’s it!

In a large pan (grain will expand to 3 times it’s bulk), bring grain, water, salt and grated apple to a boil. Cover, remove from heat and let soak overnight (all day, whatever works for you). After 8 hours cook on low heat another 20 mins, add a dash of cinnamon if desired. Serve or store in serving sized bowls for convenience. Top as you like (cranberry-berry sauce and walnuts is especially good). Excellent re-heated for a delicious, satisfying breakfast in minutes.

For lots more information about the benefits of groats, click the links to these fine sites:

From the Culinate Kitchen collection by Carrie Floyd

Slow Cooker Groats by Martha Matheny

Spend less time cooking so you’ll have a little more time to exercise – “I like to move it!”

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Perfect Pasta

The wonderful people at Brand of Man posted the perfect article about cooking pasta at Simply Al Dente.

pasta Jonathan Pielmayer

Rather than re-key, I’m sharing it here. I only add oil to salted water when my pasta is going in a salad or casserole that contains oil or when I’ll eat it plain – okay, plainly drizzled with grated cheese like Parmesan or Romano and a little extra virgin olive oil. At any rate, “mangia!”

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Celery and Yogurt Soup

Toward the end of the week we get very creative about meals. Recently I remembered a head of celery that had been pushed to the back of the veggie drawer and needed to be used – fast. Not realizing we were out of cow’s milk until I was ready to add it, I had to think quick. The large tub of plain yogurt seems to always be the last to disappear from the ‘fridge. I remembered tasting a delightful yogurt-cucumber sauce over the summer, so I went for it.

The result was so good that Opal, who doesn’t especially care for celery ate half of the batch. If you aren’t fond of dill, be daring and try another herb that suits you. Take a spoonful to the side and try your alternate herb separately first and avoid risking a potful of soup you don’t like! ; )

celery-74333_640

Celery and Yogurt Soup
4-6 servings

1 large head celery, cleaned & chopped
1 small or ½ medium onion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons minced parsley
4 cups chicken stock (or 8 teaspoons soup base dissolved in 4 c hot water)

Bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer till celery is tender, about 20 minutes. Pour stock into bowl, celery into separate bowl.

Add to pan:

2 Tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons unbleached flour

On medium heat melt butter, add flour, stir with wire whip. Add stock gradually, stirring constantly till smooth & thickened but don’t boil.
Add:

¾ – 1 cup room temp plain unflavored yogurt,
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Blend together yogurt, dill, salt and pepper (to taste) until smooth. Add celery and onion to soup and stir. Garnish with a sprig of dill & serve.

 

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