Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Bread

With Christmas getting closer I thought I would post some low calorie and low carb desserts.

Serves: 16 to 18 servings

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Bread

    Nonstick cooking spray
3/4     cupall-purpose flour
3/4     cupwhite whole wheat flour or whole wheat flour
2     teaspoonsbaking powder
1     teaspoonpumpkin pie spice
1/2     teaspoonbaking soda
1/4     teaspoonsalt
1/2     cuplight dairy sour cream
1/2     cuprefrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed, or 2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4     cupsugar or sugar substitute* equivalent to 1/4 cup sugar
1/4     cupfat-free milk
1/4     cupcanola oil
1-1/2     teaspoonsvanilla
1     cupmashed cooked peeled sweet potatoes
1/4     cupchopped pitted dates
1/4     cupchopped pecans, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly coat three 5-3/4x3-1/22-inch or one 8x4x2-inch loaf pan(s) with nonstick spray. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, egg, sugar, milk, oil, and vanilla. Stir in sweet potatoes. Add sour cream mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened. Fold in dates and nuts. Spoon batter into prepared pans, spreading evenly.

3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans. Cool completely.

To store: Wrap and store in refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

*Sugar Substitutes: Choose from Splenda® Granular or Sweet 'N Low® bulk or packets. Follow package directions to use product amount equivalent to 1/4 cup sugar.

PER SERVING WITH SUGAR SUBSTITUTE: Same as above, except 122 cal., 16 g carb.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving:

    * Servings: 16 to 18 servings
    * Total Fat (g)5
    * Saturated Fat (g)1
    * Monounsaturated Fat (g)3
    * Polyunsaturated Fat (g)1
    * Cholesterol (mg)2
    * Sodium (mg)132
    * Carbohydrate (g)19
    * Total Sugar (g)7
    * Fiber (g)2
    * Protein (g)3
    * Vitamin C (DV%)5
    * Calcium (DV%)4
    * Iron (DV%)4
      Diabetic Exchanges
    * Starch (d.e.)1
    * Fat (d.e.)1


Monday, November 29, 2010

Food Preparations - Pressure Cooking

Pressure cooking is a method of cooking in a sealed vessel that does not permit air or liquids to escape below a preset pressure. Because the boiling point of water increases as the pressure increases, the pressure built up inside the cooker allows the liquid in the pot to rise to a higher temperature before boiling.

Pressure cookers may be referred to by several other names. An early pressure cooker, called a steam digester, was invented by Denis Papin, a French physicist, in 1679. Large pressure cookers are often called pressure canners in the United States, due to their capacity to hold jars used in canning. A version of a pressure cooker used by laboratories and hospitals to sterilize materials is known as an autoclave. In the food industry, pressure cookers are often referred to as retorts.

Pressure cookers are generally made from aluminium or stainless steel. The former may be stamped and buffed or anodized, but this metal is unsuitable for the dishwasher. Higher quality stainless steel pressure cookers are made with heavy, three-ply, or copper-clad bottom (heat spreader) for uniform heating, since stainless steel has lower thermal conductivity. Most modern units are dishwasher safe, although some manufacturers may recommend washing by hand.

A gasket or sealing ring forms a gas-tight seal which does not allow air or steam to escape between the pot and the lid; normally, the only way the steam can escape is through a regulator on the lid when the pressure has built up. In case the regulator is blocked, a safety valve is provided as a backup escape route for steam. The simplest safety valve is a loose-fitting rubber plug in the lid, held in place by steam pressure. If the pressure exceeds design limits, the plug pops out of its seat.

To seal the gasket, some pressure cookers have a lid lock with flanges, similar to a bayonet-style lens mount, that works by placing the lid on the pot and twisting it about 30° to lock it in place. Contemporary designs of this style of cooker also have a pressure-activated interlock mechanism that prevents the lid from being removed while the cooker is pressurized.

Other cookers, particularly the larger types used for home canning, have oval, oversized lids. With these, since the lid is larger than the opening in the top of the pressure cooker, one inserts the lid at an angle, then turns the lid to align it with pot opening. A spring arrangement straddles the top of the cooker and holds the lid in place. When cooking, the pressurized steam inside keeps the lid tightly in place, preventing accidental removal.

Pressure cookers are usually heavy, because they need to be strong.

Foods are cooked much faster by pressure cooking than by other methods, (except for small quantities in microwave ovens) and with much less water used than boiling, so dishes can be ready sooner. Less energy is required than when boiling, steaming or oven cooking. Since less water is necessary, the foods come to cooking temperature faster.

Several foods can be cooked together in the pressure cooker, either for the same amount of time or added later and timed accordingly. Manufacturers provide steamer baskets to allow more food to be cooked together inside the pressure cooker. However, the pressure cooker should never be filled with more than 2/3 its height with solid food or 1/2 full for foods that foam and froth, e.g., rice, dried beans, pasta, etc. A tablespoon of cooking oil can be added to minimise foaming.

The food is cooked at a temperature above the normal boiling point of water, killing most microorganisms. The pressure cooker can also be used as an effective sterilizer, for jam pots and glass baby bottles for example, or for water while camping.

With pressure cooking, heat is very evenly, deeply, and quickly distributed.

It is not necessary to immerse food in water: The minimum quantity of water or liquid used in the recipe to keep the pressure cooker filled with steam is sufficient. Because of this, vitamins and minerals are not leached (dissolved) away by water, and thus it is healthier than other cooking methods. Using more liquid than necessary simply wastes energy and takes longer to reach boiling point, necessary to pressurise the cooker.

The pressure cooker speeds cooking considerably at high altitudes, where the low atmospheric pressure otherwise reduces the boiling point of water and hence reduces water's effectiveness for cooking or preparing hot drinks.

Spice of the Week - Capers

Caper is derived from the Latin word capra, which means “goat,” a name that reflects its strong smell. Thought to originate from the Near East or Central Asia, it has been used by Arabs for medicinal purposes. Other than Europe, caper is not well known in Asia or Latin America, though it is used in some Spanish style dishes in Mexico.

Origin and Varieties
Caper grows wild in the Mediterranean and is cultivated in Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Algeria, Cyprus, and Iran. There are some wild varieties that are used in northern regions of south Asia

Spice Description
Caper is the green, dried bud of an unopened flower. It is graded based on its size—the smaller, the higher the grade. Usually, it is cured with brine, vinegar, or oil. Caper has a sharp fermented bitter taste, and its characteristic taste is developed when placed in vinegar or brine. Pickled capers have an acrid, tart, and pungent taste with a lemony tang

Preparation and Culinary uses
Capers have been pickled by Southern Europeans for over 2000 years. Today, they are consumed abundantly in the Mediterranean regions of Sicily, Apulia (in Italy), France, Spain, and Greece. Sicilians add capers to tomato sauces and wines with onions, garlic, green olives, and fresh leafy spices (such as basil, oregano, and chervil), game, pizzas, chicken, caponata (a salad that includes eggplant and tomatoes), tartar sauce, and fish. Apulians in Italy use caper with meatballs, string beans, and other boiled vegetables. The Spanish crush it, combine it with almonds, garlic, and parsley which is then served over fried fish. Tapenade, a salty pungent spread with capers, black olives, garlic, anchovies, black pepper, mustard, and other ingredients, is a popular appetizer in Provence, France.

Capers pair well with fish, olives, chicken, basil, mustard, black pepper, garlic, oregano, and tarragon. Because heat easily destroys its aroma, caper is added to cold dishes of fish, meat, and vegetables. In the United States and northern Europe, it is served as a garnish for cold fish, roasts, and salads, as a spread, and added to pickles and relishes. Capers are also used to add tartness to the curried dishes of northern India.

Spice Blends: tapenade, pickling blend, caponata blend, and pizza sauce blend.

Attributed Medicinal Properties
Capers have been used to aid digestion, prevent diarrhea, and increase appetite. In India, they were used as a traditional treatment against scurvy.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Slow-Cooked Caribbean Pot Roast

Another good one from Taste of Home! The recipe calls for 1 Tablespoon of Brown Sugar, you could use Splenda Brown Sugar instead.

10 Servings Prep: 30 min. Cook: 6 hours


    * 2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
    * 2 large carrots, sliced
    * 1/4 cup chopped celery
    * 1 boneless beef chuck roast (2-1/2 pounds)
    * 1 tablespoon canola oil
    * 1 large onion, chopped
    * 2 garlic cloves, minced
    * 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    * 1 tablespoon sugar
    * 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    * 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    * 3/4 teaspoon salt
    * 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
    * 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
    * 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    * 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    * 3/4 teaspoon grated orange peel
    * 3/4 teaspoon HERSHEY®’S Cocoa
    * 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce


    * Place potatoes, carrots and celery in a 5-qt. slow cooker. In a large
    skillet, brown meat in oil on all sides. Transfer meat to slow cooker 
    * In the same skillet, saute onion in drippings until tender. Add
    * garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Combine the flour, sugar, brown sugar,
    * seasonings, orange peel and cocoa. Stir in tomato sauce; add to
    * skillet and heat through. Pour over beef.   
    * Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until beef and vegetables are
    * Yield: 10 servings.

Nutrition Facts: 3 ounces cooked beef with 1/2 cup vegetable mixture equals 278 calories, 12 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 74 mg cholesterol, 453 mg sodium, 16 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 25 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 lean meat, 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 1/2 fat.


Diabetes 2 Friendly Product Review - Sugar Free Russell Stover Candy

If you get that hankering for candy try Russell Stover Sugar Free Candy.                                                       
Just in time for the upcoming Christmas Holiday, Sugar Free Russell Stover Coconut Santa and Sugar Free Russell Stover Marshmallow Santa for a limited time only.

Marshmallow Santa
Nutrition Facts

    * Serving Size 1 piece (28g)
    * Servings Per Container 1
    * Total Calories 80
    *   Calories From Fat 30
    * Total Fat 3.5g
    *   Saturated Fat 2g
    *   Trans Fat 0g
    * Cholesterol 0mg
    * Sodium 50mg
    * Total Carbohydrates 20g*
    *   Dietary Fiber <1g*
    *   Sugars 0g
    *   Sugar Alcohols 20g*
    * Protein 1g

Ingredients: Maltitol syrup, chocolate candy (maltitol, chocolate, cocoa butter, sodium caseinate (milk), milk fat, soy lecithin, sucralose, natural and artificial flavor, and salt), sorbitol, gelatin, salt, sodium acetate, natural flavor, and phosphates.

Coconut Santa
Nutrition Facts

    * Serving Size 1 piece (28g)
    * Servings Per Container 1
    * Total Calories 100
    *   Calories From Fat 60
    * Total Fat 6g
    *   Saturated Fat 5g
    *   Trans Fat 0g
    * Cholesterol 0mg
    * Sodium 40mg
    * Total Carbohydrates 18g*
    *   Dietary Fiber 1g*
    *   Sugars 0g
    *   Sugar Alcohols 17g*
    * Protein 1g

Ingredients: Maltitol syrup, chocolate candy (maltitol, chocolate, cocoa butter, sodium caseinate (milk), milk fat, soy lecithin, sucralose, natural and artificial flavor, and salt), coconut with sodium metabisulfite, sorbitol, salt, and natural flavor.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
To cut carbs, this homey favorite features a trio of potato, turnip, and sweet potato slices instead of all potatoes.

SERVINGS: 6 servings


1/2     cupchopped onion
1-1/2     cupsfat-free milk
3     tablespoonsall-purpose flour
1/8     teaspoonground black pepper
1     teaspoonsnipped fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1     mediumround red potato, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1     mediumsweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1     mediumturnip, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/4     cupwater
8     ounceslow-fat, reduced-sodium cooked boneless ham, cut into thin strips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. For sauce: In a medium saucepan, cook onion in a small amount of boiling water over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Drain; return to pan. In a screw-top jar, combine milk, flour, and pepper; cover and shake until well mixed. Add milk mixture to saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Stir in rosemary.
2. Meanwhile, in a 2-quart microwave-safe baking dish, combine potatoes, turnip, and the 1/4 cup water. Cover with vented plastic wrap. Microwave on 100% power (high) about 8 minutes or just until vegetables are tender. Carefully drain in a colander.
3. In the same 2-quart baking dish, layer half of the ham, half of the potato mixture, and half of the sauce. Repeat layers. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake, uncovered, about 30 minutes or until heated through. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:

* Servings: 6 servings
* Calories120
* Total Fat (g)2
* Saturated Fat (g)1
* Cholesterol (mg)17
* Sodium (mg)466
* Carbohydrate (g)17
* Fiber (g)2
* Protein (g)10
Diabetic Exchanges
* Starch (d.e.)1
* Very Lean Meat (d.e.)1


Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hearty Vegetarian Chili

Hearty Vegetarian Chili

Keeping on that Veggie theme, Veggie Chili. Thank you Taste of Home!


    * 1-3/4 cups chopped baby portobello mushrooms
    * 1 medium onion, finely chopped
    * 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
    * 2 tablespoons olive oil
    * 2 garlic cloves, minced
    * 1 package (12 ounces) frozen vegetarian meat crumbles
    * 2 cans (16 ounces each) chili beans, undrained
    * 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) no-salt-added diced tomatoes
    * 1/2 cup water
    * 1/2 cup vegetable broth
    * 4-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
    * 2 teaspoons brown sugar
    * 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
    * 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    * 1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and finely chopped
    * 9 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream

    * In a Dutch oven, saute the mushrooms, onion, sun-dried tomatoes in
    * oil until vegetables are tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
    * Add meat crumbles; heat through.
    * Stir in the chili beans, tomatoes, water, broth, chili powder, brown
    * sugar, celery salt and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer,
    * uncovered, for 10 minutes. Ladle chili into bowls. Top each with
    * avocado and sour cream.
    * Yield: 9 servings (2-1/4 quarts).
Nutrition Facts: 1 serving equals 275 calories, 10 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 5 mg cholesterol, 768 mg sodium, 37 g carbohydrate, 12 g fiber, 17 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 lean meat, 2 vegetable, 1-1/2 starch, 1 fat.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sesame-Ginger Turkey Wraps

 Looking for ideas for that left over Turkey? Here's a tasty low carb and low calorie recipe. Another from Diabetic Living On Line web site.

Sesame-Ginger Turkey Wraps

SERVINGS: 12 servings

Sesame-Ginger Turkey Wraps

    Nonstick cooking spray
3     turkey thighs, skinned (3-1/2 to 4 pounds)
1     cupbottled sesame-ginger stir-fry sauce
1/4     cupwater
1     16-ounce packageshredded broccoli (broccoli slaw mix)
12     8-inchflour tortillas, warmed* or use Low Carb or Carb Free Tortilla's
3/4     cupsliced green onions (6)

1. Lightly coat the inside of a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Place turkey thighs in prepared cooker. In a small bowl stir together stir-fry sauce and water. Pour over turkey in cooker.

2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 7 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 3-1/2 hours.

3. Remove turkey from slow cooker; cool slightly. Remove turkey from bones; discard bones. Using two forks, shred turkey into bite-size pieces. Place broccoli slaw mix in sauce mixture in slow cooker. Stir to coat; cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Remove from cooker with a slotted spoon.

4. To assemble, place some of the turkey on each warmed tortilla. Top with some of the broccoli mixture and green onions. Spoon some of the sauce from cooker on top of onions. Roll up and serve immediately. Makes 12 servings.

*Note: To warm tortillas, stack tortillas and wrap tightly in foil. Heat in a 350 degree F oven about 10 minutes or until heated through.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving:

    * Servings: 12 servings
    * Calories207
    * Total Fat (g)5
    * Saturated Fat (g)1
    * Monounsaturated Fat (g)1
    * Polyunsaturated Fat (g)1
    * Cholesterol (mg)67
    * Sodium (mg)422
    * Carbohydrate (g)20
    * Total Sugar (g)4
    * Fiber (g)2
    * Protein (g)20
    * Vitamin A (DV%)0
    * Vitamin C (DV%)57
    * Calcium (DV%)6
    * Iron (DV%)15
      Diabetic Exchanges


Fresh Vegetable Omelet

Another great one from Taste of Home web site.
Healthy and simply delicious, this light and fluffy omelet is chock-full of fresh garden veggies, flavor and cheese.

  * 2 Servings
    * Prep: 30 min. Bake: 10 min.


    * 4 egg whites
    * 1/4 cup water
    * 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
    * 2 eggs
    * 1/4 teaspoon salt
    * 1 teaspoon butter
    * 1 medium tomato, chopped
    * 1 small zucchini, chopped
    * 1 small onion, chopped
    * 1/4 cup chopped green pepper
    * 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
    * 1/3 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese


    * In a small bowl, beat the egg whites, water and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. In a large bowl, beat eggs and salt until thick and lemon-colored, about 5 minutes. Fold in the whites.
    * In a 10-in. ovenproof skillet coated with cooking spray, melt butter. Pour egg mixture into skillet. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat or until puffed and lightly browned on the bottom. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until a knife inserted 2 in. from edge comes out clean.
    * Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the tomato, zucchini, onion, green pepper and Italian seasoning until tender. Carefully run a knife around edge of ovenproof skillet to loosen. With a knife, score center of omelet. Place vegetables on one side and sprinkle with cheese; fold other side over filling. Slide onto a serving plate; cut in half. Yield: 2 servings.

Nutrition Facts: 1/2 omelet equals 222 calories, 11 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 231 mg cholesterol, 617 mg sodium, 12 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 20 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 lean meat, 2 vegetable, 1/2 fat.

Fresh Vegetable Omelet

Reasons to Season

New reasons to season

When you hear the word "antioxidants," what foods come to mind? Blueberries? Pomegranates? How about cinnamon?

That's right. When it comes to antioxidant prowess, cinnamon vies for top billing along with blueberries and pomegranate juice. You may be surprised that spices and herbs are extremely rich in antioxidants – with levels comparable to many fruits and vegetables, including today’s popular "super foods."

Spices and herbs make food taste great. You already know that. And you're probably aware of how they can help you eat healthier by cutting down on salt, fat and sugar when cooking. Now there's emerging evidence that these kitchen essentials may help protect your health. With each pinch, dash and spoonful, spices and herbs can help boost the antioxidant power of practically everything on your plate.

So what exactly are these things called antioxidants and why should you care? Antioxidants are extraordinary workhorses in our bodies. Studies suggest they provide a range of benefits, including giving our immune system a boost. They also appear to reduce inflammation, which is increasingly recognized as a first step in heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic disease.

Preliminary studies indicate that spices and herbs have anti-inflammatory properties that may hold tremendous potential in promoting good health. Other studies suggest spices and herbs may help curb your hunger and boost your metabolism – which might make it easier for you to manage your weight.

Now more than ever, there are new reasons to season.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Food Preparations - Marination

Marination is the process of soaking foods in a seasoned, often acidic, liquid before cooking. The origins of the word allude to the use of brine (aqua marina) in the pickling process, which led to the technique of adding flavor by immersion in liquid. The liquid in question, the 'marinade' can be acidic with ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice, or wine, or savory with soy sauce, brine or other prepared sauces. Along with these liquids, a marinade often contains oils, herbs, and spices to further flavor the food items.

It is commonly used to flavor foods and to tenderize tougher cuts of meat. The process may last seconds or days. Different marinades are used in different cuisines. For example, in Indian cuisine the marinade is usually prepared with mixture of spices.
A marinade is a sauce which is designed to flavor and tenderize meats. Marinades can also be used to flavor vegetables, especially harder vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, and mushrooms. Typically, food is soaked in a marinade for at least several hours and sometimes several days before it is cooked. As it soaks, the marinated food absorbs the flavors of the marinade, and when it is cooked, the food will be more flavorful and complex as a result. Many markets sell packaged marinades, and it is also easy to devise your own at home, especially with the assistance of a cookbook which provides options and suggestions.
The concept of marinating food is quite ancient, and many cultures have some tradition of marination. Meats have classically been marinated because they can be stringy and tough, and a marinade will tenderize the meat and improve the flavor. Many cultures have a tradition of eating meats from older animals, like mutton, which comes from adult sheep, and these meats would be rather unpleasant if they were not marinated and slowly cooked.

When a marinade is designed as a tenderizer, it includes an acid like vinegar or lemon juice. The acid attacks the fibrous connective tissue between the muscles, softening it so that the meat will be less stringy. As the acid penetrates the meat, it can also carry flavorings along with with it. Obviously, the longer the meat marinates, the softer it will be when cooked, although there is a point when the meat will turn to mush, making it useless.

Flavorings in marinades vary widely. They can be spicy, smoky, sweet, bitter, and sour. They can utilize herbs, spices, fruit juices, vegetables like garlic and onions, soy sauce, yogurt, wine, sugar, chocolate, and a wide assortment of other ingredients. A very basic marinade might include vinegar, olive oil, herbs, salt, and pepper, and this base can be endlessly revised and updated, replacing vinegar with orange juice, for example, and adding a hint of brown sugar or molasses for a sweet, dark flavor.
Once food has been marinated, it can be cooked in a variety of ways. Many people like to grill marinated foods, but they can also be baked, roasted, broiled, fried, or stewed. Older meats tend to benefit from a slow, gentle stewing which helps to break down the fibrous tissue of the meat even more, while cuts of chicken and steak can be quite excellent when they are cooked on a grill.

Spice of the Week - Saffron


Coming from the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus, it takes 75,000 blossoms or 225,000 hand-picked stigmas to make a single pound which explains why it is the world’s most expensive spice.

More saffron trivia
According to Greek myth, handsome mortal Crocos fell in love with the beautiful nymph Smilax. But his favors were rebuffed by Smilax, and he was turned into a beautiful purple crocus flower. A native of the Mediterranean, saffron is now imported primarily from Spain, where Moslems had introduced it in the 8th century along with rice and sugar. Valencia coup (coupé meaning “to cut” off the yellow parts from the stigmas) saffron is generally considered the best, though Kashmir now rivals this reputation. Saffron is also cultivated in India, Turkey, China and Iran. The name is from the Arabic word zafaran which means ‘yellow’. The French culinary term safrané means ‘colored using saffron’. Its colouring properties have been as prized as its unique flavor. In India its colour is considered the epitome of beauty and is the official colour of Buddhist robes. Saffron was used to scent the baths and public halls of Imperial Rome. Pliny wrote that saffron was the most frequently falsified commodity, which has been true throughout history. Low grade saffron has even been treated with urine to give it color, though it has most often been falsified with dried calendula or marigold. The Romans initially brought saffron to England, though it was lost to them in the Dark Ages. It is claimed that in the 14th century a pilgrim to the Holy Land, smuggled back one crocus bulb in a hollow staff from which all English saffron supposedly descends. It is grown in great quantities in Essex, especially in a town called Saffron Walden, whose coat of arms includes three saffron crocuses. Francis Bacon wrote “it maketh the English sprightly”.

Preparation and Storage
Because of its expense, intense flavour, and strong dying properties, very little saffron is required for culinary purposes and the key is to distribute it evenly throughout the dish being prepared. It can be crushed to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle. It is easier however, to steep the saffron in hot water— a pinch to a cup will create the desired flavor and color. Good saffron should expand on contact with the water and a cup should be sufficient for 0.5 kg (1 lb) of rice. Powdered saffron is added directly to the required ingredients of a dish, though we recommend against buying saffron powdered, as it is so frequently adulterated. Store in a cool dry place, out of the light.

Culinary Uses
Saffron appears in Moorish, Mediterranean and Asian cuisines. Its most common function is to color rice yellow, as in festive Indian pilaus and risotto Milanese, where its delicate flavor make it the most famous of Italian rice dishes. It combines well with fish and seafood, infamous as a key ingredient of Spanish paella as well as bouillabaisse. In England, saffron is probably best known for its use in Cornish saffron buns where it is paired with dried fruit in a yeast cake.

Attributed Medicinal Properties
Large dosages can be fatal. It has been recognized of value as an antispasmodic, diaphoretic, carminative, emmenagogic and sedative.

Plant Description and Cultivation
A fall-flowering ornamental crocus that does well in warm climates. It grows to 15 cm (6 in) with long thin leaves. The blue-violet flowers contain the precious protruding orange stigmas.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Big Tree Plantation Morrow,Ohio

November 26-December 22
Monday-Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
See Our Events and Specials!

A heads up to those of you living in the Southern Ohio area! A really one of a kind place. If this doesn't put you in the Christmas Sprite nothing will.

Big Tree Plantation Christmas trees are a Christmas tradition for many families in our community, and with our wide selection of evergreen trees and knowledgeable and helpful staff, we want to make our tree farm part of your tradition as well!
Come join us on the farm for a cut your own Christmas tree experience that will create wonderful family memories for years to come. We’ll provide the saw, wagon ride, and hot chocolate, and you find the perfect tree for your home.

Start your own family tradition to pick your own Christmas trees at Big Tree Plantation, Morrow, Ohio, NE of Cincinnati Currently on the farm we have approximately 50,000 Christmas trees for harvest, and we continue to plant more each year with more than 60 acres of growing trees. We grow an extensive variety of Christmas trees, including Canaan Fir, Colorado Blue Spruce, Scotch and White Pines, with live trees from 2 feet to 22 feet tall! In addition, our fresh, pre-cut tree lot includes Fraser Fir, Canaan Fir, Noble Fir, Douglas Fir, Scotch Pine, and White Pine.

Huge selection of Christmas ornaments and decorations, as well as pick your own Christmas trees at Big Tree Plantation, Morrow, Ohio, NE of Cincinnati Come shop in our beautiful, Big Tree Plantation Gift Barn for all your holiday needs—tree stands, custom wreaths, greenery and a great selection of decorations. The rustic ambiance of our gift barn twinkles with sparkling memories of Christmas. We have a kids shop just for the little ones with all sorts of Christmas items from smiling frosty snowmen to jolly ole’ Saint Nicks. We also have a life size Nativity and a room full of choices for Fontinini collectors. Come explore the medley of holiday decorations in the Big Tree Plantation Gift Barn.

Coming to Big Tree Plantation Tree Farm will be a fun Build family memories you will cherish for a lifetime when you pick your own Christmas trees at Big Tree Plantation, Morrow, Ohio, NE of Cincinnati. experience for the whole family, so allow plenty of time for your visit. We have a wide variety of foods to enjoy while you play. We sell our delicious corn dogs, chili, pizza, baked goods and our new signature Big Tree BBQ sandwich. Big Tree Plantation is a great place for your next group outing or campfire!
New to this year is our children’s area, with face painting, crafts, and farm animals! Your family may also visit on weekends with Mary and Joseph with their burro, as well as Santa Claus with live Beautiful landscape trees-maples, spruce, firs, hemlocks, pines, and more at Big Tree Plantion, Morrow, Ohio, near Lebanon. reindeer!

Landscape Trees
Each Spring and Fall, Big Tree Plantation also offers a quality selection of evergreens and deciduous trees for landscaping, including Cleveland Select Pear, Canada Red Choke Cherry, Autumn Blaze Maples, Norway Spruce, Blue Spruce, firs, hemlocks, pines and more.


Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pecans

Ran across this one earlier and it looked and sounded so good I had to pass it along!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pecans

Recipe courtesy of Harvard University Dining Services

Serves 4

    * 4 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into bite size pieces
    * 2 tablespoons olive oil
    * ¼ cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
    * Salt (optional) and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Toss the sweet potato pieces with the olive oil, salt (optional) and pepper, and place in a baking dish.

Roast for 10 minutes, stir, then remove from oven and toss the sweet potatoes with a spatula or tongs so that they will brown evenly. Return the sweet potatoes to the oven and roast until they are fork tender, about another 10 minutes.

Remove sweet potatoes from the oven and toss with the pecans. Return to the oven and roast another 7 to 10 minutes.

Remove the sweet potato mixture to a warm platter and serve immediately.

Calories: 220 ⁄ Protein: 3 g ⁄ Carbohydrate: 33 g ⁄ Fiber: 5 g ⁄ Sodium: 20 mg*
Saturated fat: 1 g ⁄ Polyunsaturated fat: 2 g ⁄ Monounsaturated fat: 6 g
Trans fat: 0 g ⁄ Cholesterol: 0 mg

Friday, November 19, 2010

Hot Soft Pretzels

Hot Soft Pretzels

What better than a hot soft pretzel while watching a movie lounging out on the couch!

* 1 1/2 cup(s) water, warmed to 110 degrees F
* 2 1/4 teaspoon(s) (1 packet) dry active yeast
* 1 teaspoon(s) brown sugar
* 4 cup(s) bread flour
* 4 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter, melted
* 1 tablespoon(s) molasses
* 2 1/8 teaspoon(s) salt
* 1 large egg white
* 1/4 cup(s) baking soda
* 2 tablespoon(s) coarse salt

1. Make the dough: Coat a large bowl with vegetable oil and set aside. Combine the water, yeast, and sugar in a large mixing bowl, stir until yeast dissolves, and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, butter, molasses, and 2 teaspoons salt. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead — incorporating additional flour as necessary — until dough is smooth and elastic — about 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to the prepared bowl, turning to coat all sides with oil. Cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel and set aside to rise in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in volume — about 1 hour.
2. Shape the pretzels: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Punch down dough, turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for 5 minutes. Divide into 15 two-ounce pieces. Form each piece into a ball, roll each ball out to a 1/2-inch-thick “rope,” and twist each rope into a pretzel shape. Cover and let rise for 15 minutes. Whisk together the egg white, 1 tablespoon water, and the remaining salt in a small bowl and set aside. Bring 4 cups of water and baking soda to a boil. Poach pretzels 2 at a time for 30 seconds on each side. Transfer pretzels to a parchment-lined baking pan, brush lightly with the egg-white mixture, and sprinkle with the coarse salt. Bake until golden — about 15 minutes. Serve warm with Cheese and Mustard Dipping Sauce.

Nutritional Information
(per serving)
Calories    140
Total Fat    3.5g
Saturated Fat    –
Cholesterol    8.3mg
Sodium    733mg
Total Carbohydrate    23g
Dietary Fiber    .9g
Sugars    –
Protein    4.3g
Calcium    -

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's not the Holidays without.......

 .....the Chex Party Mix! I can't remember a Thanksgiving or Christmas without the Chex Mix.

3    cups Corn Chex® cereal
3    cups Rice Chex® cereal
3    cups Wheat Chex® cereal
1    cup mixed nuts
1    cup bite-size pretzels, reduced fat.
1    cup garlic-flavor bite-size bagel chips or regular-size bagel chips, broken into 1-inch pieces
6    tablespoons butter or margarine or I Can't Believe It's Not Butter
2    tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2    teaspoons seasoned salt
3/4    teaspoon garlic powder
1/2    teaspoon onion powder

Did You Know?
The original recipe includes Corn Chex®, Rice Chex® and Wheat Chex®. You can mix and match to suit your taste—just use a total of 9 cups of cereal.
Health Focus
To reduce the fat to 2 grams and the calories to 80 per serving, use 3 tablespoons margarine instead of the 6 tablespoons butter, omit mixed nuts and use fat-free bagel chips.
Special Touch
Make enough of this favorite mix to package up as gifts for special friends—it’s so good and always a welcome surprise! Need clever gift wrapping ideas for this 15-minute recipe? Check out Mix & Mingle with Chex® Party Mix.

Preparation Directions
1.    In large microwavable bowl, mix cereals, nuts, pretzels and bagel chips; set aside. In small microwavable bowl, microwave butter uncovered on High about 40 seconds or until melted. Stir in seasonings. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until evenly coated.
2.    Microwave uncovered on High 5 to 6 minutes, thoroughly stirring every 2 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.
Oven Directions Heat oven to 250°F. In large bowl, mix cereals, nuts, pretzels and bagel chips; set aside. In ungreased large roasting pan, melt butter in oven. Stir in seasonings. Gradually stir in cereal mixture until evenly coated. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes. Store in airtight container.

Nutritional Information
1 Serving: Calories 140 (Calories from Fat 60); Total Fat 7g (Saturated Fat 2 1/2g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 10mg; Sodium 280mg; Total Carbohydrate 16g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 2g); Protein 3g % Daily Value*: Vitamin A 6%; Vitamin C 2%; Calcium 6%; Iron 30% Exchanges: 1 Starch; 0 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fat Carbohydrate Choices: 1 MyPyramid Servings: 1 tsp Fats & Oils
*% Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chicken and Spiced Apples

Chicken and Spiced Apples

From EatingWell.com
The buttery apples suit these chicken breasts, which are pounded thin so they cook evenly and quickly. You could also serve this compote with any roasted meat or vegetable.

*Note* I'm going to try this recipe later this week but I'm going to use Center Cut Pork Chops instead of the Chicken.


    * 2  apples, preferably Braeburn, peeled and thinly sliced
    * 1 tablespoon(s) lemon juice
    * 1/4 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
    * 3 teaspoon(s) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    * 3 teaspoon(s) unsalted butter, divided
    * 1 1/8 teaspoon(s) herbes de Provence (see Tips & Techniques), divided
    * 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
    * 1/4 teaspoon(s) freshly ground pepper
    * 1 1/2 pound(s) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
    * 1 cup(s) reduced-sodium chicken broth
    * 1 teaspoon(s) freshly grated lemon zest


   1. Toss apple slices with lemon juice and cinnamon in a small bowl. Heat 1 teaspoon oil and 1 teaspoon butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Keep warm.
   2. Mix 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper. Place chicken between sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet or the bottom of a small saucepan to a 1/2-inch thickness. Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with the seasoning mixture.
   3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil and 1 teaspoon butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add half the chicken and cook until no longer pink in the center, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove to a platter and keep warm. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and 1 teaspoon butter to the pan; heat over high heat. Cook the remaining chicken in the same manner.
   4. Add broth, lemon zest, the remaining 1/8 teaspoon herbes and any accumulated juices from the chicken to the pan. Cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits, until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve with the sautéed apples.
Nutritional Information
(per serving)
Calories    191
Total Fat    6g
Saturated Fat    2g
Cholesterol    72mg
Sodium    292mg
Total Carbohydrate    6g


Diabetes 2 Friendly Product Review -Low Carb Cupcake and Frosting Mix by Dixie Carb Counters

Low Carb Cupcake and Frosting Mix by Dixie Carb Counters

From carbsmart.com:

We hear about cupcakes everywhere! Whether you are in Los Angeles or Tulsa, cupcakes have become a superstar snack treat. If you go to a specialty cupcake bakery or get one of those mixes at the grocery store, they're full of SUGAR or High Fructose Corn Syrup! YUCK!

Leave it to Dixie Diner to come out with their Low Carb Cupcake and Frosting Mix. This very easy-to-make cupcake mix will let you have a great low carb treat. Just add sour cream and eggs and bake for 15 minutes. Makes 12 deliciously rich vanilla or chocolate cupcakes. Chocolate or vanilla frosting packet included. Just add butter to make real butter cream frosting. See label for fat free version. 4 or 5 net carbs per frosted cupcake.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Frosting
Nutrition Facts

    * Serving Size 1 Frosted Cupcake (23g dry)
    * Servings Per Container 12
    * Calories 56
    *   Calories from Fat 10
    * Total Fat 1g
    *   Saturated Fat 1g
    *   Trans Fat 0g
    * Cholesterol 0mg
    * Sodium 170mg
    * Total Carbohydrate 14g*
    *   Dietary Fiber 9g*
    *   Sugars 3g
    * Protein 3g

Ingredients: Hard wheat white flour, soy isolate, cereal fiber, dehulled soy beans, cocoa powder, baking powder (calcium acid phosphate, bicarbonate of soda, cornstarch), vegetable fiber, dried egg whites, carageenan, low glycemic monosaccharide, soy lecithin, sea salt, cream of tarter, low glycemic fruit concentrate, vanilla powder, sucralose.

*Net carbs as listed by the manufacturer on the package = 5g per cupcake.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Frosting
Nutrition Facts

    * Serving Size 1 Frosted Cupcake (18g dry)
    * Servings Per Container 12
    * Calories 40
    *   Calories from Fat 2
    * Total Fat 0g
    *   Saturated Fat 0g
    *   Trans Fat 0g
    * Cholesterol 0mg
    * Sodium 170mg
    * Total Carbohydrate 12g*
    *   Dietary Fiber 8g*
    *   Sugars 2g
    * Protein 3g

Ingredients: Hard wheat white flour, soy isolate, cereal fiber, dehulled soy beans, cocoa powder, baking powder (calcium acid phosphate, bicarbonate of soda, cornstarch), vegetable fiber, dried egg whites, carageenan, low glycemic monosaccharide, soy lecithin, sea salt, cream of tarter, low glycemic fruit concentrate, vanilla powder, sucralose.

*Net carbs as listed by the manufacturer on the package = 4g per cupcake.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Acorn Squash with Apple Stuffing

Saw this on the Kraft Recipes website. A tasty low carb and low calorie recipe, nice side for those watching carbs and calories.

Acorn Squash with Apple Stuffing
prep time
15 min
total time
32 min
8 servings
2 acorn squash, cut lengthwise in half, seeded
1-1/4 cups  water
2 Tbsp. butter
1 pkg.  (6 oz.) STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Chicken
1 cup chopped peeled apples
1 cup  KRAFT Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

*CUT each squash piece lengthwise in half; place, cut-sides down, on microwaveable plate. Microwave on HIGH 12 to15 min. or until tender.

*MEANWHILE, bring water and butter to boil in medium saucepan. Add stuffing mix and apples; stir. Cover. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 min.; stir in cheese.

*TURN squash over; top with stuffing. Microwave on HIGH 2 min. or until heated through.

Kraft Kitchens Tips

How to Prepare in Oven
Place squash wedges, cut-sides down, in shallow pan. Bake in 375ºF oven 40 min. or until squash is tender. Meanwhile, prepare stuffing mixture as directed. Top squash with stuffing mixture; bake 5 min. or until heated through.
Serving Suggestion
Serve this irresistible vegetable side dish along with your favorite grilled lean meat at your next family get-together.
nutritional information
per serving

Total fat
 8 g
Saturated fat
 5 g
 20 mg
 440 mg
 29 g
Dietary fiber
 3 g
 7 g


Monday, November 15, 2010

Food Preparations - Microwave

A microwave oven, or simply a microwave, is a kitchen appliance that cooks or heats food by dielectric heating. This is accomplished by using microwave radiation to heat polarized molecules within the food. This excitation is fairly uniform, leading to food being more evenly heated throughout (except in dense objects) than generally occurs in other cooking techniques.

Basic microwave ovens heat foods quickly and efficiently, but do not brown or bake food in the way conventional ovens do. This makes them unsuitable for cooking certain foods, or to achieve certain culinary effects. Additional kinds of heat sources can be added to microwave packaging, or into combination microwave ovens, to add these additional effects.
A variant of the conventional microwave is the convection microwave. A convection microwave oven is a combination of a standard microwave and a convection oven. It allows food to be cooked quickly, yet come out browned or crisped, as from a convection oven. Convection microwaves are more expensive than conventional microwave ovens. Some convection microwaves—those with exposed heating elements—can produce smoke and burning odors as food spatter from previous microwave-only use is burned off the heating elements.

More recently, some manufacturers have added high power quartz halogen bulbs to their convection microwave models, marketing them under names such as "Speedcook", "Advantium" and "Optimawave" to emphasize their ability to cook food rapidly and with good browning. The bulbs heat the food's surface with infrared (IR) radiation, browning surfaces as in a conventional oven. The food browns while also being heated by the microwave radiation and heated through conduction through contact with heated air. The IR energy which is delivered to the outer surface of food by the lamps is sufficient to initiate browning caramelization in foods primarily made up of carbohydrates and Maillard reactions in foods primarily made up of protein. These reactions in food produce a texture and taste similar to that typically expected of conventional oven cooking rather than the bland boiled and steamed taste that microwave-only cooking tends to create.

In order to aid browning, sometimes an accessory browning tray is used, usually composed of glass or porcelain. It makes food crisp by oxidising the top layer until it turns brown. Ordinary plastic cookware is unsuitable for this purpose because it could melt.

Frozen dinners, pies, and microwave popcorn bags often contain a thin scepter made from aluminium film in the packaging or included on a small paper tray. The metal film absorbs microwave energy efficiently and consequently becomes extremely hot and radiates in the infrared, concentrating the heating of oil for popcorn or even browning surfaces of frozen foods. Heating packages or trays containing scepters are designed for single use and are discarded as waste.


Portable or Desktop

    This is the smallest size of microwave oven in the market. The common models measure around 28 centimetres (11 in) tall, 38 centimetres (15 in) wide and 25 centimetres (9.8 in) deep. Some of the experimental models on trial are as small as 19 centimetres (7.5 in) tall, 6 centimetres (2.4 in) wide and 15 centimetres (5.9 in) deep. Some of these use 12 V DC power supplies.


    A compact microwave oven, also called small, is the smallest type typically available. Compacts are the most popular size of microwave oven, dominating the market. A typical model is no more than 50 centimetres (20 in) wide, 35 centimetres (14 in) deep and 30 centimetres (12 in) tall. These ovens are rated between 500 and 1000 watts and have less than 28 litres (0.99 cu ft) in capacity. These ovens are primarily used for reheating food and making microwave meals and popcorn. The largest models can accommodate 2 litres (1.8 imp qt) round casserole dishes and are suitable for light cooking. These ovens are not made to cook large amounts of food. Typically these models cost less than USD$100 (around £50).


    These models' heights and depths are only marginally larger than compacts, but they are typically more than 50 centimetres (20 in) wide. Their interiors are typically between 30 and 45 litres (1.1 and 1.6 cu ft), and power ratings are 1000–1500 W. These are the common "family sized" microwave ovens. They tend to have a few more "auto-cook" features, and some incorporate grills or even conventional-oven heating elements.
    These are designed for cooking large meals. Large-capacity ovens can handle 25 by 35 centimetres (9.8 by 14 in) casserole dishes and cook tall items like roasts or turkey breasts, with a large number of "auto-cook" and precise temperature control measures. Large-capacity ovens normally use over 2000 W and have over 60 litres (2.1 cu ft) of capacity. These ovens are normally well over 50 centimetres (20 in) wide, as much as 50 centimetres (20 in) deep, and at least 30 centimetres (12 in) high.


    These are built into cabinetry and are typically more expensive than similar sized counter top models. Some models include exhaust fans to allow installation above cook tops.

Spice of the Week - Pepper

The history of the spice trade is, above all, the history of pepper, the ‘King of Spices’. Pepper has been moving westward from India for 4,000 years. It has been used in trading as an exchange medium like money and, at times, has been valued so highly that a single peppercorn dropped on the floor would be hunted like a lost pearl. In classical times ‘tributes’ were paid in pepper, and both Attila the Hun and Alaric I the Visigoth demanded pepper as a substantial part of Rome’s ransom. Since the Middle Ages, pepper was the core of the European spice trade, with Genoa and Venice dominating the market. The Italian ‘pepperers’ monopoly of overland trade routes was the major determining factor in driving the search for an eastern sea route. For more historical information, read Pepper: King of Spices.

Spice Description
Pepper comes from several species of a vinous plant, the spice being the fruit, called peppercorns. Black pepper is the dried, unripe berry. The corns are wrinkled and spherical, about 5 mm (1/8 in) in diameter. Malabar and Tellicherry pepper are both considered top quality due to size and maturity, with only 10% of the largest corns being graded as Tellicherry. White pepper starts out the same as the black, but are allowed to ripen more fully on the vine. The outer shell is then removed by soaking the berries in water until the shell falls off, or are held under flowing spring water, yielding a whiter, cleaner pepper. Green pepper is from the same fruit but is harvested before they mature. Pink pepper, which is not a vinous pepper, comes from the French island of Reunion. Pink peppercorns have a brittle, papery pink skin enclosing a hard, irregular seed, much smaller than the whole fruit.
Culinary Uses
Pepper is best ground directly on to food. With hot food it is best to add pepper well towards the end of the cooking process, to preserve its aroma. White pepper is used in white sauces rather than black pepper, which would give the sauce a speckled appearance. Green peppercorns can be mashed with garlic, cinnamon or to make a spiced butter or with cream to make a fresh and attractive sauce for fish. Pink peppercorns are called for in a variety of dishes, from poultry to vegetables and fish.
Attributed Medicinal Properties
Stomachic; carminative; aromatic stimulant; antibacterial; diaphoretic. Stimulates the taste-buds causing reflex stimulation of gastric secretions, improving digestion and treating gastro-intestinal upsets and flatulence. Pepper calms nausea and raises body temperature, making it valuable for treating fevers and chills.

Plant Description and Cultivation
A tropical, perennial climbing vine with aerial roots. The vine can grow to over 30 feet (10m) but is commercially maintained at about 12 feet (4m). It has wide, glossy, green leaves and bears dense spikes of whte flowers containing 50 blossoms each. The berries are green when unripe and turn red as they mature.

Pepper needs well-drained humus-rich soil and a hot wet tropical climate. Plants can yield for up to forty years. Pepper is grown from cuttings in partial shade and run up trees or poles to support the vines.

Black pepper

Black pepper is produced from the still-green unripe drupes of the pepper plant. The drupes are cooked briefly in hot water, both to clean them and to prepare them for drying. The heat ruptures cell walls in the pepper, speeding the work of browning enzymes during drying. The drupes are dried in the sun or by machine for several days, during which the pepper around the seed shrinks and darkens into a thin, wrinkled black layer. Once dried, the spice is called black peppercorn. Black peppercorn is considered spicier than white peppercorn.

 White pepper

White pepper consists of the seed of the pepper plant alone, with the darker colored skin of the pepper fruit removed. This is usually accomplished by a process known as retting, where fully ripe peppers are soaked in water for about a week, during which the flesh of the pepper softens and decomposes. Rubbing then removes what remains of the fruit, and the naked seed is dried. Alternative processes are used for removing the outer pepper from the seed, including decortication, the removal of the outer layer from black pepper from small peppers through mechanical, chemical or biological methods.
White pepper is sometimes used in dishes like light-coloured sauces or mashed potatoes, where ground black pepper would visibly stand out. They have differing flavor due to the presence of certain compounds in the outer fruit layer of the drupe that are not found in the seed.

 Green pepper

Green pepper, like black, is made from the unripe drupes. Dried green peppercorns are treated in a way that retains the green colour, such as treatment with sulfur dioxide or freeze-drying. Pickled peppercorns, also green, are unripe drupes preserved in brine or vinegar. Fresh, unpreserved green pepper drupes, largely unknown in the West, are used in some Asian cuisines, particularly Thai cuisine. Their flavor has been described as piquant and fresh, with a bright aroma. They decay quickly if not dried or preserved.

 Orange pepper and red pepper

A product called orange pepper or red pepper consists of ripe red pepper drupes preserved in brine and vinegar. Ripe red peppercorns can also be dried using the same colour-preserving techniques used to produce green pepper. Pink pepper from Piper nigrum is distinct from the more-common dried "pink peppercorns", which are the fruits of a plant from a different family, the Peruvian pepper tree, Schinus molle, and its relative the Brazilian pepper tree, Schinus terebinthifolius. In years past there was debate as to the health safety of pink peppercorns, which is mostly no longer an issue.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Blue Corn Tamale with Feta

For the vegetarians out there. A Blue Corn Tamale with Feta.  Another from the diabetic - recipes web site.

Blue corn tamales! It dates back over a thousand years with the Anasazi Indians. The Hopi, Navajo, and Zuni Indians of New Mexico feasted on blue corn for over 300 years and believe that the special blue gave them long life and strength. Blue corn is more than 20% higher in protein, plus higher in zinc and iron than their other corn cousins. If blue corn is not treated with alkaline, it will turn pink when cooked. The Pueblo Indians use the ash from the juniper berries to solve this problem. But you knew that anyway, didn't you? Enjoy!

Prep time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

8     Anaheim chiles
1     onion, julienned
4     garlic cloves, minced
1     jalapeño chile, seeded and minced
1     carrot, julienned
1/2     pound mushrooms, sliced
2     tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
1     zucchini, julienned
2     cups nonfat plain yogurt
6     large egg whites
1     tablespoon cumin powder
3     cups corn kernels, removed from the cob
1     cup blue corn meal
1     teaspoon black pepper
4     ounces part skim milk mozzarella cheese, grated
3     ounces feta cheese, grated
1     recipes Shiitake Tomatillo Salsa (recipe follows)
6     tablespoons cilantro, chopped

   1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
   2. Roast the Anaheim chiles over a grill, open flame, or broiler. Place in a paper or plastic bag for 10 minutes to sweat. Clean the peppers under running cool water to remove the charred skin and seeds. Set aside.
   3. In a saute pan over medium high heat, saute onion until golden, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, jalapeño, and carrot. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring. Add mushrooms, oregano, and zucchini; cook 2 minutes longer. Place in a separate bowl and set aside.
   4. Place the yogurt, egg whites, cumin, and corn in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Add to the bowl with the sauteed veggies. Add the blue corn meal, pepper, and cheeses. Mix to combine very well.
   5. Lightly spray a large casserole with cooking spray. Line the bottom with the roasted chiles and pour the veggie/yogurt mixture gently into the casserole, smoothing to even the top. Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a tester inserted near the center comes out almost clean. Uncover and continue to bake for another 5 to 10 minutes to toast the top and casserole is done.
   6. Remove from oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes before dividing into 8 equal portions.
   7. Serve with Shiitake Tomatillo Salsa (recipe follows) and chopped cilantro.

Note: you can substitute for the Anaheim chiles with canned whole Ortega chiles. At the Ranch we serve this with parsnip puree, steamed spinach, and spiced sweet potato puree. Enjoy!!
Per serving (tamale casserole only):     195 calories (25% calories from fat), 15 g protein, 6 g total fat (3.3 g saturated fat), 24 g carbohydrate, 3 g dietary fiber, 18 mg cholesterol, 358 mg sodium
Exchanges:     1 medium fat meat, 1 carbohydrate (1 bread/starch), 1 vegetable


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Diabetes 2 Friendly Product Review - Ocean Spray Diet Blueberry

Great tasting, low carb, low calorie!

Looking for all the great taste of fresh picked blueberries, but without all the calories? That’s a tall order, but we’ve got you covered! Our super refreshing Diet Blueberry Juice Drink has just 5 little calories per serving. Plus, it’s made with real fruit juice and has a daily dose of Vitamin C, so it’s good for you! Try a guilt-free glass today.

 You can choose Blueberry Juice Cocktail, Splenda-sweetened Diet Blueberry Juice Cocktail, Blueberry Pomegranate Juice, or Diet Blueberry Pomegranate Juice. Each variety is made from fresh blueberries and does not contain any artificial colors or flavoring agents.
Every eight ounce glass of this delicious beverage is packed with the full recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, making it a great beverage choice for children and adults alike.

The diet version has only five calories and two grams of carbohydrate per eight ounce serving, making it an excellent choice for diets. Whether you are counting calories or carbs, it's certainly possible to enjoy this tasty, fruity beverage on any weight loss or maintenance eating plan.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Healthier Chicken Parmesan

Too Good! Another from Ellie Krieger and the Cooking Channel. I had Chicken Parmesan and a tossed Salad with Kroger Harvest Grain Loaf Bread. At 410 Calories and only 31 Carbs this is a much healthier version of this classic meal.
Chicken Parmesan

    4 servings, serving size 1 piece chicken


    * 4 slices whole-wheat bread (1-ounce each)
    * 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    * 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    * 4 teaspoons paprika
    * 1/2 teaspoon salt
    * 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    * 2 egg whites
    * 1/2 cup skim milk
    * 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    * 4 (6 ounce) skinless boneless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
    * Olive oil cooking spray
    * 1 jar good-quality marinara sauce (about 3 1/2 cups)
    * 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
    * 2 tablespoons (1/2-ounce) shredded Parmesan

    * Per Serving


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the bread in the bowl of a food processor and process until fine crumbs are formed, about 25 to 30 seconds. Put the crumbs on a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes, until golden. (You will wind up with about 1 1/3 cups toasted crumbs.)

In a medium bowl, toss the crumbs with oregano, garlic powder, paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and milk together. In a third bowl stir together the flour, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Dip each piece of chicken, 1 piece at a time, in flour, shaking off excess, then egg, then bread crumbs, shaking off excess.

Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Place breaded breasts in a glass baking dish and spray on each side with cooking spray, about 5 seconds total per side. Bake breasts until cooked though and crumbs are browned, about 15 minutes. Top with marinara sauce, mozzarella and parmesan and return to oven for an additional 10 minutes, until cheese is bubbling.

(Serving size, 1 piece chicken with sauce and cheese)

Calories 410; Total Fat 11 g; (Sat Fat 4.5 g, Mono Fat 2.7 g, Poly Fat 1.2 g) ; Protein 50 g; Carb 31 g; Fiber 2 g; Cholesterol 110 mg; Sodium 1200 mg

Excellent source of: Protein, Vitamin A, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Phosphorus, Selenium

Good source of: Thiamin, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Iodine, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, Zinc


Monday, November 8, 2010

Food Preparations - Freeze/Chill


The ready-meals market has grown significantly in Europe over the past decade, with the chilled sector experiencing the most dynamic growth. Demand for ready-meals is expected to grow by 20% from current values to exceed E6.8 billion by 2005.

Chilled ready-meals have a relatively short shelf life and are perceived to be of better quality than frozen meals. Frozen ready-meals are bought more often, however, due to their long shelf life; they also offer better manufacturing and distribution flexibility and a higher level of food safety.

Two emerging technologies are freeze-chilling and sous vide/freezing. In the case of the former, the ready-meals have previously been frozen but are retailed from a chill cabinet. Sous vide cooking, while more traditionally applied to the catering sector, is increasingly being applied to the preparation of ready-meals.

The freeze-chilling of food involves freezing and frozen storage followed by thawing and then retailing at chill storage temperatures, and offers a number of logistical and other advantages. For example, foods can be prepared in bulk, then frozen and stored at deep-freeze temperatures until required. Some or all of the batch can then be thawed as necessary; freeze-chilling enables chilled foods to reach distant markets, in that product can be shipped deep frozen and then thawed when it reaches its destination prior to retail display; freeze-chilling can reduce the level of product recalls as it enables routine microbiological tests to be completed before the product is released from the factory. One of the main thrusts behind current research is the possibility that thawed food could be more conducive to microbial growth because of the presence of nutrients in the drip - the fluid produced during thawing - and also because freezing may open up the cell structure.

First and foremost foods must be suitable for freezing and thawing, i.e. they must not suffer significant structural damage and should give minimal drip on thawing. The cooked products under comparison at The National Food Centre (steamed salmon, a range of potato mashes, steamed carrots, green beans and broccoli, lasagne, starch-based sauces and breaded items) were compared as fresh, chilled, frozen and freeze-chilled. Frozen storage times varied from short (days) to long (months), and time in chill (4ºC) from one to seven days depending on the product. Each product sample was subjected to a wide range of physico-chemical and sensory tests post-treatment and storage.

Sensory scores awarded by a taste panel indicated no difference between freeze-chilling, freezing, chilling or preparing fresh for steamed salmon, broccoli, carrots, green beans, or lasagne, despite differences in shear values - the force required to shear, or 'chew' the product - and more major differences in centrifugal (forced) drip. For example, chilled salmon was the softest, while freeze-chilling or freezing gave softer carrots and potato mash than chilling or preparing fresh. Freeze-chilling and freezing gave much higher centrifugal drip values than chilling or preparing fresh for all products. These and the corresponding shear values are an indication of cell damage due to the freezing stage.

Freeze-chilled mashed potato received a lower sensory score than mashed potato from the other three treatments, a reflection of its soft texture and high centrifugal drip loss. This textural effect can be overcome by the inclusion of a small amount of hydrocolloid (e.g. xanthan gum) in the mashed potato. These laboratory trials have been paralleled by successful industrial freeze-chilling trials by a number of food companies.

Spice of the Week - Garlic


Garlic has been cultivated for so long that it is impossible to determine precisely its place of origin, though it is generally considered native to Asia. It is now grown in most warm lands, especially in Italy and southern France, California, and throughout the Mediterranean. Garlic is recorded in Egypt from the earliest times and was eaten by the builders of the Pyramids. Garlic is also known as "the stinking rose", the term going back to Greek and Roman times. Known in Europe as 'the noblest onion', garlic was used as a medicine and a charm in classical and medieval times. According to an Arab legend, garlic grew from the Devil's footprint as he left Eden. Culpeper, the herbalist, advises that stale garlic breath is freshened by chewing some cumin or green beans. We suggest that several glasses of red wine will sweeten garlicky breath, or at least reduce one's self consciousness about it. The most famous of all garlic folklore is its association with vampires, popularized in the West by Bram Stoker in the classic gothic novel Dracula. The name derives from Old English gar 'spear' and leac 'leek'.

Spice Description
Garlic is a bulb of a lily-like plant, belonging to the same family as onions, chives, leeks and scallions. It is similar in shape to an onion, but ridged. The bulb is compound, consisting of anything up to twenty segments, called 'cloves'. Usually there are about ten cloves to a bulb, packed side by side around a thin central core, separated by scaly membranes and enclosed by a brittle parchment-like skin. The flesh of the clove is ivorycoloured, and should be hard and firm though easily cut with a finger nail. The cloves should be tightly packed - loose cloves are a sign of deteriorating or inferior garlic. The skin is usually white, but may have a pale pink or purplish tinge. The peeled clove should be unblemished. Garlic is widely variable in size, some Continental bulbs are minute. Many varieties of garlic exist. In South East Asia a small variety with only four to six cloves grows and is similar to rocambole (Spanish garlic, A llium sativum ophioscorodon). A giant variety is grown in California. Garlic is best bought whole, but also available in the form of granules (minced), powder or garlic salt.

Preparation and Storage
When buying garlic, make sure the heads are dry with plenty of paper covering. If you can see green shoots then the garlic is probably too old or wasn't dried properly. Garlic that is too old will crumple under the slightest pressure from the fingers. Separate a clove from the bulb as necessary. Either peel like an onion, first slicing off the ends, or crush the clove with the flat of a knife when the skin will be much easier to remove. The garlic can then be chopped or mashed with the addition of a little salt - this will absorb the juice which would otherwise be lost and also prevent the pieces from slipping about. Although it is usually advised to use the point of a knife to mash garlic, a fork is even better. Wooden surfaces and utensils are best avoided - a stale garlic odour will cling to them. If using a garlic press, there is no need to peel the clove as the skin will remain in the press and is easily removed after use. When several cloves are to be crushed, use a pestle and mortar with a little salt. Keep heads of garlic in a cool dry atmosphere. Processed garlic must be kept in airtight containers. Also see Smashing Garlic for advise on when to slice or press and Garlic Gadgets for the latest in peelers, presses, slides, slicers, roasters and keepers

Culinary Uses
The uses of garlic are infinite and it is an important ingredient in the cuisine of most nations. A small amount will 'lift' dishes of meat, fish and vegetables and be virtually undetectable. Bouquets garnis sometimes include it. Garlic is essential in the robust cookery of the Mediterranean region. Garlic butters accompany snails, mussels and grills of fish or meat. Pasta dishes often call for sauces flavoured with garlic. French and Spanish aioli and Greek skordalia are powerful garlic sauces. Garlic appears frequently in soups, salad dressings, patés, terrines, salamis and smoked spiced sausages. It is usual to include garlic in dishes of game. Joints of lamb and beef roasts benefit greatly by spiking the skin with slivers of garlic before roasting, few or many, according to taste. For just a hint of garlic, rub the salad bowl or cooking pot with a cut clove. A bruised garlic clove can be used to effect in a bottle of vinegar or salad dressing. Garlic is indispensable to Indian cookery and is widely used in China and South East Asia.

Attributed Medicinal Properties
Garlic has been used since ancient times for innumerable complaints and amongst the properties attributed to it are: diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant and intestinally antispasmodic. Garlic is considered to be nature's very own antibiotic. Unlike most antibiotics, Garlic will not deplete the body of flora, and is considered to be the cure-all herb because of its effectiveness on the entire body. Popularly used as a digestive aid, garlic increases bile production while enhancing digestion and reducing stomach gases. Garlic has also been used for lowering cholesterol, reducing high blood pressure, and treating respiratory problems such as bronchitis and asthma. In modern times the constituents of garlic have been shown to be bacteriostatic - in World War I the juice was extensively used on wounds; a glycoside compound has been proved to be lethal to certain organisms. In Russia allicin is so much esteemed that it is known as 'Russian penicillin'. The Japanese also favour garlic as a cure-all, and one researcher has patented a garlic spray machine that is claimed to provide beneficial therapy for a multitude of ailments. Garlic is a source of selenium, which must be present in the body for proper immune response, and which acts as an antioxidant in combination with vitamin E. A host of epidemiological studies say garlic appears to work against prostate and stomach cancers, with some studies suggesting it may block breast, liver and colon cancer. Rich in potassium, zinc, selenium, and Vitamins A & C, garlic is commonly used to fight infection, increase circulation and help prevent cardiovascular disease. Garlic has been known to detoxify the body by cleansing the kidneys and increasing urine flow. Furthermore, garlic's healing properties make it an ideal agent for fighting colds and flu, bacteria, and fungi. Garlic oil is often administered in odorless gelatine capsules to obviate the unpleasantness of the smell. The aphrodisiac properties of garlic have been much praised; however, it is advisable that both partners take the recommended prescription.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Double Chocolate Brownies

If you have Diabetes or not these are sure to please! Only 113 Calories and 17 Carbs. Another great on from the Diabetic Living web site!

SERVINGS: 16 brownies

Double Chocolate Brownies
    Nonstick cooking spray
1/4     cup of butter or margarine
2/3     cup of granulated sugar
1/2     cup cold water
1     teaspoon vanilla
1     cup of all-purpose flour
1/4     cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1     teaspoon of baking powder
1/4     cup of miniature semisweet chocolate pieces
2     teaspoons of sifted powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat the bottom of a 9x9x2-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray, being careful not to coat sides of pan.

2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter; remove from heat. Stir in granulated sugar, the water, and vanilla. Stir in flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder until combined. Stir in chocolate pieces. Pour batter into prepared pan.

3. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Remove from pan. Cut into 16 bars. Sprinkle with the powdered sugar. Makes 16 brownies.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving:

    * Servings: 16 brownies
    * Calories113
    * Total Fat (g)4
    * Saturated Fat (g)2
    * Cholesterol (mg)8
    * Sodium (mg)37
    * Carbohydrate (g)17
    * Fiber (g)0
    * Protein (g)1
      Diabetic Exchanges
    * Other Carbohydrates (d.e.)1
    * Fat (d.e.)1


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Warm the Night Up with Gumbo!

It had been a while and when it's time, it's time! It's a cold and windy day here in Ohio so what better time than now for another batch of Shrimp and Scallop Gumbo! Made a side of Cornbread Ears with it. Can't wait for dinner tonight.

1 Pound of Shrimp and Sea Scallops

4 Slices of Turkey Bacon

2 Russet Potatoes (Diced)

6 Cups of Water

2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pepper, Sea Salt for seasoning

1 Box of Luzianne Gumbo Dinner Kit

*Dice the Russet Potatoes and microwave for 4 minutes to soften

*Fry Bacon and set aside when done.

*In a 4-5 Quart pot,bring water and Olive Oil to a boil

*Add Luzianne Gumbo while stirring

*Empty half of the Red Pepper Packet into the Gumbo. Put remainder aside.

*Reduce Heat , Cover and simmer for 18 minutes. Meanwhile quarter the Sea Scallops, peel the raw Shrimp, and crumble the Turkey Bacon.

*Taste, and if desired, add remaining Red Pepper from packet and Sea Salt. Add the Shrimp, Scallops, Crumbled Turkey Bacon, and Potatoes. Cover and continue to simmer for 7 more minutes.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Salmon with Sweet & Spicy Rub

Salmon with Sweet & Spicy Rub

Looking at the Cooking Channel web site this morning and ran across this recipe by Ellie Kriger, who has a ton of them! I’ll try this one next week.

Salmon with Sweet & Spicy Rub
6 servings, serving size: 1 salmon fillet
* Cooking Spray
* 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
* 1 tablespoon chili powder
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 6 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skin and any pin bones removed
* 1 tablespoon olive oil

Coat your grill or a grill pan with cooking spray and preheat over medium heat. While the grill is heating, combine the brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Brush each salmon fillet with 1/2 teaspoon of the oil, then rub each fillet with about 1/2 tablespoon of the spice mixture.
Grill the salmon, flesh side down, until charred, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the salmon and cook another 5 to 6 minutes for medium doneness. For well done fish, cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to a platter and serve immediately.

Calories 280; Total Fat 13 g; (Sat Fat 2 g, Mono Fat 5 g, Poly Fat 5 g) ; Protein 34 g;
Carb 5 g; Fiber 1 g; Cholesterol 95 mg; Sodium 135 mg
Excellent source of: Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Copper, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium

Good source of: Folate, Magnesium