I am constantly amazed at how animated and talkative people get when you mention food. The mere aroma of certain foods can evoke memories that transport us back to a special place and time. Food can bridge the gap between all ages, races and ethnicities.
Let's face it, the only thing that should ever come between people is a table and some serving bowls.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Seven Wonders of Soup

There is an old Italian saying that states; La Zuppa fa sette cose which in English translates to Soup does seven things". It is said to; quench your thirst, satisfy your hunger, fill your stomach, aid in your digestion, make your teeth sparkle, color your cheeks, and help you sleep. I cannot honestly say that soup has managed to do all those things for me but I can say, that soup truly is one of the most comforting and without a doubt most satisfying foods that I have always taken great pleasure in eating.

Italian Sausage and Lentil Soup

2-3 lg. cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 c. or less olive oil
2 c. or less diced Italian sausage (sweet or hot, or mixed), sautéed & fat removed
1 med. onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
3 c. chicken stock
3 c. water
2 c. lentils (dry), picked over & rinsed to remove any stones (almost 1 lb.)
Salt and pepper to taste

In large, heavy saucepan, sauté the garlic in the oil, over medium heat, for few minutes, careful not to let it brown. Add sausages, stock and water, onions and lentils. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat, cover the pan and simmer the soup for 1-1 1/2 hours, or until lentils are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Pike and Puppies

The fish were always biting when we were up at our cabin on the lake in Canada. It was nothing for us to catch a dozen or more a day. The bulk of our catch was Northern Pike, wicked little teeth on those suckers let me tell you. My father would clean them by scaling them removing the head and insides and leaving the body and tail in tact. My mother would take all the fish and place them in a big tupperware container pouring an entire bottle of Italian salad dressing on them. My mother would then place the lid on the tupperware and stick the fish in the refrigerator to marinate for a few hours. When dinner time started to roll around my father would fire up the grill to get it nice and hot to cook and char the fish. The Italian dressing not only flavors the fish beautifully but all the little bits of seasoning in the dressing create a wonderful little crust on the skin. While my father was tending to the fish my mother would be in the kitchen preparing one of the many side dishes that would accompany our meal including our absolute must have favorite; Jalapeno hush puppies. They were always crisp on the outside and tender in the middle and that little kick from the jalapeno peppers always added a nice contrast and balance to the sweetness of the fish.

Jalapeno Hush Puppies

1 c. flour
1 c. cornmeal
1 lg. onion, chopped
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 (17 oz.) can cream corn
2 or 3 chopped jalapenos

Mix as you would for cornbread; if too thick add a little water. Drop into hot deep fat. Dip spoon into hot fat and batter will slide right off. This batter keeps well in refrigerator for several days.

If you would like a more uniform ball shape use melon baller or small ice cream scoop to form the batter.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Beat Your Way To A Tasty Meal

With all the posts that I have written I always surprise myself that there are some very simple yet well loved foods that I fail to write about. While pondering what food to write about next, out of nowhere I just started thinking about omelets. Beyond it being one of our most popular breakfast choices it's also been that last minute; 'Oh my gosh, I forgot to take something out of the freezer" rescue meal. In my grandmother's case it's become an easy satisfying meal to prepare if you are eating alone. An omelet is a blank canvas totally accepting of whatever foods your imagination can throw at it or better yet in it! My grandmother's favorite omelet is made with chicken livers, my mother loved a good Spanish omelet, I love any omelet that has a lot of melted cheese and then there is my cousin from France who prefers her omelet simply with a sprinkling of herbs and nothing else.
So beat a few eggs, chop up some of last nights leftovers, grab a couple slices of cheese and have a simple yet satisfying meal in a matter of minutes. Food doesn't always have to be fancy in order to taste just fine.

Simple Cheese Omelet Recipe - use this as the base recipe for whatever ingredients you choose (meat, veggie, fish, fruit, cheese). Increase number of eggs and amounts depending on how many omelets and people you are serving.

3 eggs
1 tbsp. milk
1/4 tsp. salt
Dash of pepper
2 tsp. butter
1/4 c. cheese (American, Swiss, feta, cream cheese, cheddar) use whatever you like.

In small bowl, beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper with fork until well blended. In skillet melt butter, tilt pan to coat sides. Add egg mixture and cook on medium heat without stirring.
When omelet is set sprinkle the cheese over half of omelet let sit a few seconds to melt the cheese then slide omelet out of pan and fold in half.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

You Don't Have To Be Diabetic To Love This Cookbook...A Review

250 Amazing Dishes for People With Diabetes and Their Families and Friends

There was a time when the enjoyment of food accompanied by a diagnosis of diabetes meant a future of the bland and the tasteless. That is what Tom Valenti thought as well upon his diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes. Like with most of us Tom's best memories of childhood, family and friendships have always been centrally rooted around the pleasure of great food. Food has always been such an important aspect of Tom's life that it carried over into his professional life as well, Tom is a chef.
This cookbook reminds me of the old saying; "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade". Well when life handed Tom a diagnosis of diabetes he made a feast, a feast for all of us to partake in. The title of this book could not be more perfect; "You Don't Have to Be Diabetic to Love This Cookbook"! This cookbook covers everything from breakfasts, snacks, soups, pasta (yes, I said pasta) and how about some nice creamy risotto. It seems like these days whether you are diabetic or not "Carbs" become the enemy. This cookbook will rekindle your friendship with "Carbs" in the most healthy and satisfying way. You'll be able to look desserts straight in the eye again with no pang of guilt whatsoever. How about "Mocha Pots de crème" with shaved bittersweet chocolate, heavy cream and strong brewed coffee, sounds heavenly.
The focus in this book is not on what you can't have but rather on all that you can have in the healthiest most pleasurable way possible for you and your body. Each recipe is broken down nutritionally per serving by calories, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, cholesterol, sugars and sodium.
The most important thing to all people when it comes to eating is flavor and I truly believe that with this cook book Tom has truly saved the best for last. Many of us don't realize while trying to add much needed flavor to our foods through the use of condiments; dressings, sauces, relishes and such the staggering amount of sugar, fat and sodium that is hidden in every little tablespoon that we use. In the last section of this book titled Condiments and Basics Tom covers a wide array of flavoring mediums that are not only concentrated with flavor but also low in fat, sugar and sodium. You will find everything from pesto's to salad dressings, herb purees, broths, relishes and some amazing salsa recipes. More than ever cooking to meet the dietary needs of our family and friends is essential. There was a time when you had to prepare different foods for different people all sitting around the same table a very frustrating and time consuming task. With this cookbook everyone with or without diabetes can partake in the same delicious foods with delight and the comfort of knowing that they have eaten good food that was good for them.
To all my readers out there who love great recipes this book is a must add to your every day use cookbook collection.

Here is just a taste of what you could be serving for dinner tonight:

Angel Hair Pasta
with shrimp scampi sauce

8 ounces of dried angel hair pasta
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of olive oil
8 large cloves of garlic very thinly sliced
1/8 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of dry white wine
1 pound large shrimp (about a dozen) peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the angel hair pasta and let boil until al dente, about 5 minutes.

While the angel hair is cooking, heat the olive oil in a wide deep heavy bottomed pan over medium low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook to gently infuse the olive oil with flavor but not brown the garlic, about 4 minutes. Add the white wine and cook until almost evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook, stirring, until firm and pink, about 3 minutes. Swirl in the butter to thicken and enrich the sauce.

Set aside a few tablespoons of the angel hair cooking water then drain the angel hair. Stir the angel hair cooking water into the pan with the shrimp to bind the sauce, then add the angel hair and toss to coat. Divide the angel hair among 6 bowls or plates. Scatter some parsley over each portion and serve.

This recipe serves 6

Calories per serving 389
Fat 19g
Saturated fat 5g
Trans Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrates 30g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 20g
Cholesterol 130mg
Sodium 115mg

Friday, July 3, 2009

Have Fun, Just Remember

Happy Birthday America

Every year it comes around No individual party but one big bash Cook outs, time at the beach or lakes Fireworks to light up the sky Parades are held with buntings of Red White and Blue Men and women in uniform march in perfect lock step. Clowns and horses are all abound Children smile and wave the small flags given to them. This is a birthday for our Nation For on July fourth, Seventeen Seventy Six. We proclaimed our freedom to the small world then, that we wanted to become an independent and sovereign nation
Yet, this year we find that Freedom is not free. That our citizens will be far away so another country can be free for they will put their lives on the line for our ideals But they know they will be thought of by those at home For this is the Fourth of July for all to see
A land that knows its freedoms are not free
A land that does not forget our hard kept ideals
A land rich in historyHappy Birthday America

By Merrill Vaughan, Ret. USAF MSgt.
Copyright 2006

Reese's Peanut Butter Bars - an easy pass around dessert

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. smooth peanut butter
4 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
6 plain chocolate Hershey bars

Blend butter and peanut butter in a large bowl. Work in the powdered sugar and cracker crumbs with a wooden spoon until combined thoroughly. Press into a 9 x 13 inch pan. Set aside. Melt Hershey bars (10-15 seconds in microwave), spread over peanut butter mixture. Chill until set but don't let get too cold or they will be too hard to cut. Cut into small squares.

Delicious! Tastes just like a peanut butter cup.