Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Summer Baking

Even baking affectionadoes do not like to be stuck in the kitchen during a hot day. It's no fun to have the kitchen turn into a sauna as cakes or cookies bake in a hot oven. It's time to turn to summer goodies that only need the fridge and microwave.

One of the easiest, fun and delicious summer cakes is one made out of ice cream. Some, like myself, were daunted by it. Would it be as good as a DairyQueen or Friendly' s? There's no need to worry. The hardest part is crushing the crumbs and microwaving the butter to make the crust and middle.
.Start with a good hard cookie or snap. Many go for Oreos, mostly for the flavor. I prefer Nabisco's Famous Chocolate Wafers, They're a rich dark chocolate that have the perfect crumble. As for ice cream, here's where you can customize it to suit tastes. Try one layer of s fruit ice cream  like cherry ,or strawberry and the second  layer can be chocolate. Or go with vanilla. Coffee ice cream works well with both chocolate and vanilla.As for icing use a chocolate hard shell. Pour on top and let drip down the sides. Fancier decorations  come from a can of whipped cream and a spoonful of sprinkles.You can also make ice cream  cup cakes but when doing this , use a silicon mold. You could use a regular cupcake tin and papers, however the last may be hard to peel away when you want to eat them.

Layered  trifles, usually reserved for fall and winter can be interpreted for summer. This is the season  for a variety of fruits . Take advantage of the bounty. a fruit trifle is an easy make, Use store bought lady fingers for the base layer, and alternate the fruit with Cool Whip. If you're ambitious you can make your own whipped cream using whole cream, with either granulated or confectioner's sugar and a tiny splash of vanilla extract. As for fruit - go wild! Try strawberries and peaches or nectarines and blackberries. You can also create an all berry one using strawberries, blackberries , and blueberries. Ice box cakes are another hot weather favorite.One is the famed zebra cake made with Nabisco's chocolate wafers and Cool Whip.A variation of this is making a triangle shaped one ,instead of where you line up the wafers.There is also the graham cracker icebox variation where the crackers are layered in a cake pan with fruit, pudding and whipped cream.Vanilla pudding is the usual filler but to liven  it up - sub in pistachio or butterscotch pudding.If choosing the last, add a layer of salted caramel topping on top of the graham crackers for decadence.

It's summer. Don't heat up the kitchen by baking. Create tasty sweets that only require your fridge and microwave .

Monday, July 30, 2018

Hi Mountain Bacon Seasoning Making Bacon Better

Can bacon be improved? Are we not happy with the salty , smokey flavor? Surprisingly it seems we're not. That's where Hi Mountain Seasonings comes in with their latest creation  - flavor sprinkles for those strips in three exciting flavors.

Hi Mountain Seasonings is devoted to improving meat. They're more known for beef jerkies - which are amazing  - and marinades. Carnivores can also buy  the company's curing and smoking equipment such as aromatic cans to have highly flavored cuts. They came out with burger seasonings and it made sense that they should create one for bacon.I decided to try it, to amp up the flavor  of vegan soy bacon.
As you can see vegan bacon does leave a lot to be desired. The plus side is that's it not super soaked in its' own fat and  it is healthy for you. There are three flavors are Black Pepper & Brown Sugar, Sticky Bun and Pineapple Sriracha.
It's just liberally sprinkling on the flavorings and microwaving for two minutes.
The Sticky Bun flavor was sweet and full of vanilla. I can see it topping a French toast strata. As for the brown sugar and pepper, it would be great if you were serving pancakes or griddle cakes, with the strips on top. As for the pineapple blended with sriracha , think appetizers where the flavored bacon is wrapped around pineapple or mango chunks.If you're into snacking a bowl of bacon - as decadent as that sounds - then sprinkle the flavorings over it - or mix it with popcorn - for real movie time treat.

Can bacon be improved? Yes!Dash some Hi Mountain Bacon Seasonings on it for a new spin on a classic favorite.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Tasting The Trends

After writing about avocado toast yesterday, I had to try it.I had all the ingredients and it was an intriguing recipe. I was also curious about the taste,especially on toasted bread.

First I started with the bread.Toasted Italian drizzled with olive oil was the best bet for this this breakfast turned dinner.
IT was cut in half  and I drizzled the oil on top.It went into the toaster oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.Meanwhile I cut up the avocadoes.
Coarsely chop the avocadoes, add some olive oil to make it workable.
Then one sliced and diced tomato.
I used a potato masher to mash them together.Avocado topping has to be coarser and C hunker than guacamole.
It was spooned on the hot toast.
How was it. It's an interesting departure from guacamole which I like better.I think the mash  and the bread  were at war with each other flavorwise. It must be  intense when the avocado and an egg are combined. I think any toasted bread is better with tomato not a cousin of guacamole.Still it's what trending.

Friday, July 27, 2018

An Aussie Breakfast

The latest passion for New York foodies is breakfast - and not just any breakfast . what the Aussies eat down under to wake up is becoming an obsession, Why?Probably because there's more healthy ingredients as opposed to the usual Manhattanite breakfast.

Julia Moskin wrote about this latest trend in Wednesday's New York Times Food section., Let's face it our breakfasts are usually fast, brown, greasy and starchy. They're also not picture perfect - not good for this Instagram age.Australian cafes throughout the city. Australians prefer healthy starters made with fresh , all natural ingredients that do take a while to make and cook,  another reason is that their breakfasts can last up into the late afternoon. There's time to create elaborate dishes and then photograph them.One of the trendiest early morning recipes was avocado toast, made first in 1993 at the famed Bill's in Melbourne. It's now taken hold here in the city. It's an easy make., with toasted sourdough slices topped with slightly mashed avocado halves.Poached or fried eggs can top it, but home chefs can also use thinly sliced pickled red onions or pickled chiles.( to be honest it would make a good brunch or lunch dish too)You could also serve with another Down Under dish, folded eggs. According to Ms. Moskin they're folded eggs but is a hybrid between an omelet and scrambled.

It wasn't always this way. In the Eighties and Nineties Australia had the reputation of a culinary backwater, influenced  heavily by British . The typical diet consisted of meat pies. sausage rolls, canned veggies and chocolate bars.As with our revolution theirs upended a formal Eurocentric
fine dining scene. Locally  fresh home grown food was embraced and the country's immigrant food traditions.. People started to eat slow risen sourdough and whole grained breads. Mediterranean cheese such as feta, halloumi and pecorino.Multi talented chefs such as Tetsuya Wakada, Kylie Kwong and David Thompson brought Asian flavors to the forefront. The philosophy behind it is more eating than cooking.The flavors are natural; the ingredients fresh  which has a lot to do with the finished dish's flavor.It's evident in the other recipe given - a breakfast salad. It consists of marinated feta cheese, avocadoes, sliced hard boiled eggs.cucumbers  and alfalfa sprouts topping romaine lettuce. Herbs such as basil, chives, cilantro and mint are added. Everything is simply dressed with just olive oil. Again this would make a nice brunch or lunch plate.

The Aussie breakfast is fast becoming the New York breakfast .It's healthy and delicious , full of good green ingredients.It ' not only perfect for Instagram, it;s perfect for the hungry New Yorker.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

My Own No Passport Required

It is hard not to like Chef Marcus Samuelsson ' s new show No Passport Required.  The hour long show features the famed chef cooking and eating exotic food in - various cities , US cities.He has tried sa moon in the heavily Arab Detroit, enjoyed a Cajun influenced Tet in the Vietnamese section of New Orleans and made mole and carnitas  in Chicago's Mexican Back of the Yards neighborhood.I decided to have my own No Passport Required  and we t to the Middle Eastern neighborhood in Paterson , New Jersey.It was a culinary v stay cation for me.

Paterson has always attracted immigrants.When Alexander Hamilton (yes, that Alexander Hamilton)founded this city, he modeled it after the English industrial town of Manchester. Factories sprang up , using the Great Paterson Falls as its' power source.The silk and weaving industries sprang up,attracting the first wave of Syrian weavers.Now South Main Street not only has them but also Turks,Lebanese,and Palestinians  .The area is known as Little Istanbul or Little Ramallah.Go there and you feel like you're on the strèets of Istanbul
I went to Star Pide on the Main Street.Pide means bread in Turkish and they bake what's known as a Turkish pizza
We started with a salad and it was probably the best I've ever tasted.It was diced cucumbers, tomatoes, and onion.It was a simple dressing.Parsley was sprinkled all through it giving it a sprightly green flavor.They also place a dish of small yellow peppers and a spicy paprika  mix.
The Turkish pizza ,as it's known was flavorful with a crispy crust and laden with a generous amount of mozzarella.I also tried the ground beef topped with bacon crispy  pastrami.This was delicious with a generous helping of spiced beef.
The pastry shop across the street beckoned.It was a blend of American butter cookies and Middle Eastern treats.N albus Pastry and Sweet a is run by incredibly generous bakers who let us try a sweet cheese and shredded wheat called kanafah.They even brewed us a complimentary kettle of tea.I also tried kadaif, a honey soaked shredded wheat nest filled with pistachios and almonds.That was wonderful and even not too sweet thanks to the nuts used.Next time I'm going for the baklava.
Visiting Little Ramallah in Paterson was my  No Passport Required meal.Be adventurous.Visit the Culinary rich hoods where you live.It's a fun stay cation away from the ordinary.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Pan Con Tomato My Way

One of the best combos of the summer season is tomatoes with bread,especially with French or Italian. It is the perfect marriage. ,enhanced with olive oil and garlic.One version of this is pan con to mate from the Catalina area of Spain.

It was the subject of David Tanis' City Kitchen in today's New York Times Food section.Mr.Tanis had me at bread and tomatoes.As soon as I saw the pictures tomatoes on toasted slices I was hooked.
The original recipe was to use up stale bread hence the crunch.Mr.Tanis recommend huge slices of toasted sourdough bread.I used toasted Italian bread ,first rubbed with garlic.
A second batch really browned I cell and got crispy and crunchy.
Then it was taking a grater (I used my Mom's old Chef's Club from Macy  

It's then slicing vine ripes(mine came from Stop &Shop, but feel free to use the first harvest of the summer)
I  also added a glue of olive oil and the garlic that was rubbed on the bread.The last didn't work out so well.Next time I'll try a sprinkle of garlic powder.

It,s then just spooned on the toasted bread 
Pan con tomato was delicious.I sprinkled a pinch of sea salt on it and gobbled it down.This is something I will make again. I might add tuna in olive oil or better yet anchovies! It is a perfect summery dinner  light enough for a hot night but sustaining  enough.
David Tanis, thanks for this new favorite.I will be making this tasty dish a lot  - as long as there are fresh tomatoes.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A Birthday Treat

It being my brother's birthday today,I decided to do the sisterly thing and make him a cake. (No, not the cookie above, that,s from the splendid Dixie Lee Bakery in Keansburg New Jersey) I had no desire of firing up the oven on a hot summer's day, so I went for the alternative a homemade ice cream cake.

I first bought a small silicone cake mold from Amazon. As for the ice cream my brother is a vegan so I bought Soy Good coconut milk ice cream in chocolate and mocha almond.
Non dairy ice cream doesn't melt as fast as regular dairy base so they were left out for twenty minues.The first layer was mocha. Then was the crunchy chocolate middle.

IT was grinding up Nabisco chocolate wafers
Then add in  a tablespoon of melted margarine e or butter.I went for I Can't Believe It's N not Butter.Mix quickly and spoon over the first layer.I should have given the crumb mix time to cool down.I didn,t.
Next came the chocolate layer and another layer of the crumbs.Again I used about ten crumbled wafers and more spread.It was then placed in the fridge overnight. 
The next day it was unmolded.

Hershey Hard Shell was poured over it to give it a glossy icing, then a crown of whipped cream.
This is the cross section.You can see the layers.

The chocolate was harder to work with yet both together worked.
Will I do this again. Yes. This was my recipe.It has to be adjusted and tweaked.
As for the taste - amazingly good!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Helping Food

Even though it's midsummer, you can still have bake sales and dinners to raise money. There are so many causes that need our financial backing and one of the best ways has to involve our culinary and baking skills.Even grilling expertise can come in handy aiding a cause that's dear to our hearts.

Homemade cookies and pies are still wanted during these steamy days. A great way of supporting any organization is homemade treats - but keep the recipes no fuss.There are several recipes for no bake cookies. Try the classic mix of quick cooked oats , cocoa and peanut butter. It's just boiling them along with milk, margarine , white sugar and vanilla for a few minutes,then dropping teaspoons full of the mix onto waxed paper. Sprinkles or chopped peanuts can be added for a more decorative look. Change up the peanut butter for coconut for a variation with a Mounds bar flavor. Slice and bake cookies are still cookies baked at home and again they can be the star of any summer sale. The same go for brownies too.A bigger seller with these is iced coffee, always needed on a hot, humid day.If a bake sale is too labor intensive then think about having an ice cream social. This can raise money for a cause or even a political candidate .It's not only a great way to raise money but also get to know who's running for local office or new neighbors.Set up a sundae bar with six or seven flavors of ice cream,along with a whole slew of toppings gs from fresh fruit to caramel and hot fudge.

Another idea is having a beefsteak. This is a fundraiser where nothing but beef tenderloin is served. It has changed over the years.It used to be men only with only one cut of beef served.Now women and kids can join in to enjoy a variety of filets and steaks..Beefsteak are usually held in church basements or halls however you could hold one in your church parking lot or park. Switch it up a bit by also serving hot dogs, hamburgers, and ribs. Add some home made potato salad or baked potatoes.Vegetarians can have their version or a tofu fest where veggie "meats" are served.This would be the perfect venue for animal rights groups and shelters. Throwing a beefsteak for veterans and their families is another great idea and welcoming them back into the fold.

Food can aid in fund raising and help in assisting our vets and shelters.It may be summer but you can have a fun bake sale , picnic or ice cream social. The weather doesn't matter.Good deeds are all year round.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Wild About Rosemary

One of the most used summer herbs is rosemary. It's a great addition to salads, sauces, marinades and even some desserts. One of the most ancient of ingredients is a warm weather must have, whether garden grown or market bought.

Rosemary has been used for centuries, starting in kitchens in old Rome and Athens.It is part of the mint family, first growing in the Mediterranean and Asia.The plant thrives in coastal areas and it's name means dew - ros- of the  sea - marinus. lady Elizabeth kent first mentioned it in her 1823 study Flora Domestica.The famed botanist , Carl Linnaeus solidified the name later on  in the Nineteenth Century. (although you don't have to live by the ocean to grow it. It can thrive in any backyard garden)Rosemary is an aromatic evergreen shrub.It is hardy surviving droughts and long rainless periods.It's a fuzzy kind of plant, with short, dense woolly hair. Its' flowers are white,pink, purple or deep blue.It 's notorious for flowering outside its' growing season. Blooms have been reported in December and February.If you are thinking of growing it, remember it does well in loamy soil. Don't over water it  which can water log it. It can be propagated from an existing plant by clipping a shoot and planting it directly into the soil.

Most know rosemary from homemade tomato sauce which it does play a vital role .With its' cousin, oregano, it tempers the sauce with a fresh , aromatic flavor. The herb can be used in focaccia where cut sprigs are added to the dough and then sprinkled on top for decoration.Think about using it when creating grissini or Italian breadsticks. A tablespoon of fresh , chopped leaves will definitely add to the recipe.To make more herby also add thyme, another herb rosemary shines with when blended together.Another idea is rosemary infused olive oil - a nice appetizer when paired with breadsticks or slices of Italian and French bread.It's just cooking a cup of oil and five to six sprigs over a medium low heat for five minutes. Transfer to a cruet where it will keep for a month. Rosemary is also very good in soups. Try it in a hearty veggie or a delicate onion one.One of the most famous dishes using it is rosemary chicken. Chicken meat is mild and the rosemary brings out its' subtle flavor. A great recipe is chicken breasts cooked in oil  with two sprigs along with garlic and lemon For the more daring home chef, there is rosemary ice cream , where it melds with honey and cream for a unique flavor.

Rosemary is an ancient herb  that can be used in any modern dish.It will add to any recipe from savory to sweet. Try it in your summer cooking for a nice boost of flavor.

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Anti Cookbook

What makes a good cookbook? One that not  only has recipes but helpful hints and advice. There's a new cookbook out with a rather off putting name. Yet, it is a must have for anyone just starting out on their own.

The book is The Anti-Cookbook: Easy Recipes For Food Smart Living, (Claws Out Press 2018) was written by two former college roommates and friends,Shelley Onderdonk and Rebecca Bloom. Despite the title , it really is a book about cooking and baking. surprisingly a coloring book, The Anti Coloring Book inspired them to create their book. They saw how this activity book encouraged their children to create pictures instead of just coloring pages.Use your imagination not the rules.It's this philosophy that Ms. Onderdonk and Ms. Bloom bring to their book.It's a template for thoughtfulness around the way people feed themselves. Anyone can use this book, even the most seasoned home chef. The pages are chock full of advice, not multi step recipes that may scare off novices. This is a great gift for college freshman and those grads embarking on a new career and home,far away from mom's kitchen.Yes , there are recipes, and a wide range of them but they're only take up three or four lines. The only involved ones are the energy bars,basic cobbler, muffin, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. None of them require fancy ingredients or expensive or complicated gadgets. The authors do include a list of must haves such as pasta pot, wooden spoons and oven mitts.

I really like this book. There are no traditional chapters labeled "Breakfast'" "Lunch" and "Dinner" with specific recipes assigned to them. Instead  they're titled "Real Answers, Real Questions" and "Fish And Coffee" (not what you think but  all about ethical shopping and eating). One of the best aspects of it is the spice cabinet must haves  such as basil , cinnamon  and garlic powder to name a few. There is also  a section about DIY or not DIY   and which foods are easier to make at home or buy premade at the grocery. Another plus is the diversity lists that lets you toggle between cheeses, oils, flours, salts ,grains,  and milks,. All come with the authors' opinions , but it's up for the reader to decide what works best for them.I also like how they list combined spices that make up certain cuisines such as turmeric and black pepper for Indian and ginger and garlic for Asian.Boosts are also included, from health and taste. A fun chapter is planning the week  and that includes a different cuisine for every dinner that includes Middle Eastern and South American. Yes, there is a chapter for sweet tooths with easy desserts such as strawberries and cream and a simple rice pudding. There is also a chapter on delicious foods where quiche and pecan pie share the same page. The book ends with a philosophical bent  -how cooking connects you to your family's past and present along with your places in the cosmos. What an interesting way to end.

The Anti-Cookbook is really a pro cookbook and a template for life. The recipes are easy and tasty. The advice is priceless and timeless.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Homemade Yogurt Tasty Goodness

Nowadays we're dazzled by the variety of yogurt in our supermarkets.It' whipped, sprinkled  with candy ,topped with nuts.It's French style Greek style , old school style. It's just too much. A simpler and much better version is the homemade kind - one made in your kitchen,

Melissa Clark knows this and wrote about it in an extensive column in yesterday's New York Times Food section.It's the easiest foods to make yet it does require some thought and good choices. You being with the starter - namely the good bacteria that will ferment the milk,Ms Clark suggests thinking of it like the sourdough starter that results in a crusty, tangy  bread.The two bacteria that are used the most are Lactobacillus delbruecki subspecies bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. The first turns laciose into lactic acid and  is what gives yogurt its' tangy or sour taste. The second breaks down lactose into a digestible fatty acid. Where can these be had? In any live plain yogurt. Remember to look for the words "live""living" or "alive" in the ingredients ass.It has to be without preservatives but with an enjoyable flavor.  This is what will flavor your finished product.Another option is heirloom yogurt starter usually found online and at some health food stores. For a nondairy yogurt,use a commercial yogurt probiotic powder or capsules . A vegan non dairy starter can be used as well.

What about the milk? There are several options, such as cow's milk.There are two types, one known as creamline or non homogenized milk and homogenized. Creamline will produce a yellow layer that will sit on top of the yogurt. Homogenized is smooth throughout and won't separate. Ms. Clark recommends choosing pasteurized milk for the best results.Don't use sterilized or ultrapasteurized (UHT).The pasteurized kind produces a better flavor and ferments more willingly. Another variable is the fat content. Fat adds creaminess and body. The less milk fat, the thinner the yogurt's  texture. For a really rich one add cream.If you're worried about calories,then just use the 2% kind. Keep in mind you can also use goat's, sheep and even buffalo milk.For the best non-dairy cashew milk works the best. Another one is soy which also produces a rich, creamy mouthfeel. As for making the yogurt itself, it just cooking the milk and cream until the liquid simmers - about 110 to 120 degrees F. Let it cool until ipleasantly warm ( Ms. Clark suggests just stick a pinkie in to test)Transfer half a cup of warm milk to a bowl and whisk in the yogurt starter. Stir this into the pot of remaining milk.Set it someplace warm, such as the top of your fridge;Let it sit for six to twelve hours or until it tastes tangy.

Nothing beats a cup of homemade yogurt. It's just plain and delicious, made in your kitchen. Best of all it's just a simple fermentation without all those commercial bells and whistles.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Squash Flowers A Family Classic

This is a sad day - it being my Mom's birthday and the first without her. I was just going to give  one of her great recipes and that was it. This morning I opened up the New York Times Food section as I always do,and was both shocked and surprised. Yottem Ottolenghi had written about squash flowers and there it was - a variation of our family's fried squash flowers.!!!It was the strangest case of coincidence. His call for the squash flowers to be stuffed with cheese and walnuts Our recipe is much simpler.

About the squash flowers if you're growing squash you will have them.They're a bright apricot -orange and kind of resemble orchids Pick them very early (around 7 AM) before they close for the day. Once they're picked wash them thoroughly to get rid of any dirt and bugs and split them open. Leave to dry on a paper towel. Do the same for the ones from your local farmer's market.

The batter
My Mom always said it was the "one"rule", one cup water to one cup flour mixed in with one egg.Just that simple.It's then just whisking everything together and seasoning with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Once that's done add olive or vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a skillet. You can add a knob of butter as we do for a buttery flavor.

Dip  flowers into the batter until they are completely coated Fry until golden and crispy on both sides. Drain and serve with a slice of lemon. The left over batter can be used for crepes which is what we ate after the flowers.

This was one of my Mom's favorite recipes, from her Piedmomtese grandmother. She would want everyone to enjoy eating them as she did.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Best Low Calorie Ice Creams

It's another hot summer and that means eating a lot of ice cream. Unfortunately it also means saying goodbye to that beach body. A steady diet of the chilled stuff can put on pounds  - not a good thing in this season of skimpy clothes and skimpier bathing suits. However you can have your scoop and eat it too if you go low calorie.

Years ago low fat ice ream was a bit of a unicorn.If you wanted something low in calories and high in chill, it was  the old stand by Italian ices. These are refreshing yet somehow lacking in satisfaction. Nowadays many companies produce a lighter , yet still tastier version of their regular flavors. One at the fore front of this is Breyers. They have a wide variety of different "healthier version". You could easily pick up their fat free vanilla and chocolate versions, pair it with a flavored seltzer for an indulgent yet guilt free soda.They also have CarbSmart cartons and bars  that have reduced carbohydrates.Like the fat free, it comes in chocolate and vanilla while the bars have such exciting flavors as vanilla almond,, mint and an old fashioned chocolate coated vanilla. There is also an old fashioned Fudgicle that's less than a hundred calories. They also have Breyers Delights, which comes in two sizes, a cute mini pint or cupcake size and a regular pint. The mini which have add in like sprinkles are only eighty calories a cup while the larger ones are between 260 and 330 calories. Again, there a wide gamut of tastes,from butter pecan to raspberry fudge to cookies and cream.

Another classic brand that weigh watchers will like is Edy's. Their slow churned variety is only 110 calories a cup. Their flavor selection is much wider including caramel , Neapolitan and coffee. They also sell a slow churned version that has cores such as fudge and caramel for an extra treat. Anyone who loves the healthy Greek yogurt will appreciate Yasso. The company first started out with bars and now have recently added pints. Both are 130 calories each and have all sorts of delicious flavors.They've expanded on the bars that now include S'Mores and Pistachio Brittle as well as their classics such as chocolate chip and vanilla bean. Their pints celebrate all the trends from salted caramel to coffee and brownies. Of course there is the dieter's go to Skinny Cow which has the most choices.Their pints have only ninety calories of fat with 370 in total.  The flavors are indulgent with a chocolate peanut butter along with a mocha one. Try their cones at only 170 calories each or their bars at 200 calories.The giant of the industry , Ben and Jerry's also has jumped on the diet bandwagon. Their cups, chock full of fun ingredients like fudge and peanut butter are only 140 calories a cup.

You can have your ice cream and eat it too. Don't deprive yourself of a cooling treat on a hot day,Indulge in the lower calorie ice creams. They can help you beat the heat and keep that beach body.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Salads With Spin

If you're in the Northern Hemisphere, chances are you're sweltering and uncomfortably hot right now. It's definitely the season for salads.They're easy to make , easy to eat and easy to put you to sleep. It's time to take this summer staple and give it a new spin.

 Home chefs and foodies have been avoiding romaine lettuce since the whole salmonella scare back in April. That's over and it's time to rediscover this tasty leaf.Romaine leaves are used mostly in Caesar salads which is a fine salad. Liven it up with un-traditional- add ins like seared scallops or crumbled bacon.Steak - always good on its' own adds an unami flavor to the mix and makes it more filling. If there's any leftover put it on a hero roll and turn it into a sandwich for the beach or the park.  Wedge salads are making a big  comeback, especially with romaine and iceburg heads. It's a nice alternative to a traditional mixed salad and makes for a filling lunch or dinner. It's quartering the heads and then pouring on the dressing. You want to use a lot of dressing so that it dribbles down into the nooks and crannies , sort of like butter seeping into an English muffin.Top with anything crumbled like bacon or soy bacon , almonds or sunflower seeds. Should any other veggie share the plate with it? Think sliced cherry or grape tomatoes for color and flavor. Another spin is roasting the wedges. Rub oil on them , season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and place on the barbecue, roasting for thirty seconds on each side.

Another spin on salads is adding the fruits of the season. Cherries are in season right now. Those ruby red, rich in flavor gems would be perfect in a salad that features chicken or steak, To emphasize the flavor, you can also make a cherry infused  vinaigrette. Use Bing cherries , mix them with oil and apple cider vinegar and pinches of rosemary, garlic and allspice. Strawberries, good on their own, add a sweetness to a grilled chicken salad. Combine the two with red onions and almonds with torn romaine leaves as the base. You can try a peach version subbing in mixed spring greens  for the romaine. A fun variation is combining the peaches with cut nectarines.Blueberries are chock full of antioxidants and flavor. Imagine adding them to any salad. Combine them with a creamy feta cheese to balance the fruity flavor. Greens don't have total domain over salad. A refreshing one is a Neopolitan bread salad which pairs cubes of Italian bread with sliced vine ripe tomatoes.Bathe in olive oil infused with mashed garlic and basil leaves. For more bite toss in sliced red tomatoes.Broccoli and string beans make for excellent salad bases Sliced ham and shredded cheddar pair well with the first, although just a plain broccoli salad with garlic is a nice lunch. Add chopped onions to the string beans for a refreshing break from the usual mixed greens. Corn salad is both fun and tasty. It can be combined with all sorts of ingredients for a cool meal.

Liven up salads with meats and fruits for a refreshing new spin. They give a summer classic more zing and flavor. Try them for a tasty hot weather lunch or dinner.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

My Big Focaccia Adventure

What do you do with a box of pancake mix?Turn it into a centuries old recipe. That's exactly what I did with my box of Trader Joe's Baking Mix.Pancakes aren't really our thing so I looked on the box , poring over the different recipes. Most called for flour  which I didn't want. One stood out - the focaccia .it looked easy enough and didn't have too many ingredients. What the hey - I decided to give it a shot.

First thing  - get a big bowl.I use the one, my Mom's  - the once I use to mix my frostings.
This was the perfect bowl to mix all of the below

Trader Joe's focaccia recipe calls for two cups of the mix, teaspoons of garlic powder and freshly cut rosemary along with yeast and olive oil. It does ask for basil which I omitted.Fresh basil can have a medicinal taste which can permeate bread.
This is the chopped rosemary
mixed with the garlic powder.
Added to  them is the mix and the yeast.
The wet ingredients are 3/4 cup of warm water and three tablespoons of good olive oil.
Using a wooden spoon, beat one hundred strokes.
The dough is really sticky and gooey.. 
Now it's time to rub olive oil in a cake pan which was too small.

Using the wooden spoon, spoon the dough into a nine inch (I used an eight and a half ) sized one and wrap in plastic wrap. The dough has to rise for half an hour in a warm place.  I used my range..
Except there was a slight problem. The dough threatened to rise over the edges. Quick change to a deep dish pie pan
Before baking I sprinkled more rosemary sprigs on top of the focaccia.
It was then baked for twenty minutes in a 425 degree F oven.
The beautiful finished product.
How was the texture and taste? The tetxure was very crumbly but the flavor was rich and redolent with rosemary.
I paired a slice with salami for a tasty and easy Saturday night dinner
Would I make it again? Maybe - but I'd cut down on the oil. and possibly add sliced olives.

It was a fun experiment , especially since I 've always wanted to make this classic Italian bread.Try it. It's a gateway recipe for more complex loaves.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Recipes For Your Toaster Oven

The toaster oven is one of the most used , yet least praised of all the kitchen appliances. Most home chefs usually relegate it to toasting garlic bread or reheating leftovers. Yet it can be used for so much more from cooking meals to baking cookies and cakes.A new cook book shines a light on this heavy hitter of home cooking.

Linda Stephens has created a comprehensive cookbook centered on the toaster oven. 150 Best Toaster Oven Recipes (Robert Rose Inc. 2018) is perfect for those home chefs, like myself, who enjoy using their toaster ovens, Chef Stephens, who had her own cooking school and also wrote cookbooks featuring convection ovens  is a big fan of this kitchen must have. The recipe book is a comprehensive one that includes reasons why a toaster oven  outshines traditional ovens. She does recommend a larger sized one that can do everything from reheating to defrosting along with buying a name brand, She also states that a toaster oven is also more energy efficient than a range and is perfect to use during the summer because it doesn't give off the large amount of heat  that a stove does. Another plus is that she explains the settings. There's also a section on what types of cookware to use along with vital safety tips. Chef Stephen also advocates buying a meat thermometer to check roasts internal temperatures. The book is divided into chapters starting with Basics for simple but delicious recipes. There is also a chapter on meatless main courses, perfect for vegetarians along with a chapter on breakfast and brunch dishes.

I love this book!! Toaster oven cooking is a lot easier and less stressful than oven cooking and I'd love to cook most of my meals in it. There is a delicious tuna melt zinged up with Greek yogurt and scallions. Nachos can also be made in a toaster oven which gives the chips a nice crunchiness. Seafood lovers will love Chef Stephen's chapter on fish. Her recipe for baked scallops is flavorful, They're dipped in herbed breadcrumbs and roasted to be served with an accompanying tartar sauce.Chicken and roast beef lovers will marvel at the many different ways their favorite meats can be prepared, Whole chickens aren't used, just chicken breasts which is good if you're only cooking for two .She recommends using small cuts of beef and pork for cooking.Another plus is that she also has a chapter featuring meatless recipes, perfect for my vegetarian household. I am going to try chickpeas in tomato sauce and an interesting zucchini and feta flan.Of course there are chapters on sweets and desserts. Fruit lovers will enjoy baking the peach cobbler  along with a sophisticated pears in honey and rosemary. There are cookie and muffin recipes, from shortbreads to banana oat muffins. You can even make a baked Alaska in a humble toaster oven!

150 Best Toaster Oven Recipes is the must have book for all toaster oven affectionados . It is a comprehensive book, full of delicious recipes for dinners, parties and brunchs. It is definitely a kitchen must have.!!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Chinese Ribs Homestyle

One of the standouts in Chinese cooking is a rack of ribs or cha sui.There's nothing like a succulent gleaming plate of them for a delicious dinner. The only problem is that they 're a specialty usually found at a Chinese restaurant  - until now.  Home chefs can recreate this dish with simple ingredients for the same flavor.

Julia Moskin is the one tho thank for this. Her article and accompanying recipe appeared in the New York Times Food section yesterday. Chinese ribs are part of a way of cooking meat called  siu mei or fork burned meat in Cantonese, and is a specialty of the city, Guangzhou. It is where  the first wave of Chinese immigrants came from, bringing the recipe with them/Its' origins come people wanting this oven roasted cut in a time when Chinese kitchens did not have ovens. They were made in shops by experts,bringing the recipe here to the States where they were one of the first take outs. For Ms. Moskin, it is nostalgia and passion combined. The taste is a combination of salty and sweet, tender but not falling off the bone. The exterior has to be crusted with a sticky exterior. Think candied meat. Cantonese ribs can be replicated in an American kitchen but there may be some hiccups. One is the use of ketchup which may make purists blanch. The ribs' usual red color comes from a creamy funky bean paste called nan ru. This is tofu that has been brined and fermented with rice. A deep red strain of mold has been added and this brings unami, the savory taste that makes plain foods pop in taste.

Ketchup can be used for this. It has unami in its' saltiness, and in its' cooked concentrated tomato flavor. This American standard for fast foods doesn't seem proper to use on Chinese ribs however, as Ms, Moskin points out that's wrong.The condiment  started out in Asia as a fish sauce called ke-jap. It went through a variety of incarnations , with ingredients such as oysters and plums. Yet the tomato version is perfect for the ribs.it has a definite stickiness and caramelizes when cooked.It's mixed with garlic, scallions and hoisin sauce. Rice wine is added but home chefs can also use vodka or any clear spirit..The strong alcohol enables the other flavors to penetrate the meat. As for the meat itself, use baby back or St Louis style ribs. The ribs also need a steam bath to get that tender texture along with a succulence The baths are made by placing baking racks  - those used for cooling off baked goods - in foil lined pans. Hot water is poured into them while the ribs are placed on the racks. The baths are them removed and the ribs are returned to a 450 degree F oven or grill to  roast for twenty to thirty minutes. This will give them a crispy, chewy crust, Ms Moskin serves the ribs with smashed cucumbers. and rice.

Rib lovers will love this recipe. It's easy to recreate  these Cantonese ribs for a tasty summer treat. All it takes is a dash of ketchup and a steam bath to get these delicious ribs.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Welcome To The Times

The New York Times Food section has a brand new writer and a  brand new column. Allison Roman is the newest member of the family.  Like her coworkers, she  will give readers and foodies
 good recipes and excellent information. Also like them, she knows food and will undoubtedly give us all good advice easy weekday and weekend cooking.

Who is Allison Roman and why is she worthy of writing for The Times?  She has contributed to the Food section in the past along with being the author of the cookbook, Dining In. Highly Cookable Recipes. which reflects American cooking and our changing tastes. She's also the former food editor at Bon Appetit and Buzzfeed magazines. She had also contributed to Cherry Bombe,Darling and the former Lucky Peach. - various  magazines catering to the trendy and hungry. Her first cookbook, Lemons was a mini book centering on just lemon recipes., her favorite ingredient. Her new column will be sort of like what Pierre Franey, the great Franco-American chef once wrote for the newspaper.. Every recipe will only take a home chef an hour to whip up. Her first article is a homage to her mother - a one pan affair that  pairs butterflied trout with  garlic laced broccolini.For Ms. Roman it's basically unfussy cooking with little effort and few ingredients.

Minimalist cooks will like this recipe.Butterflied trout can easily be bought at your local fishmonger's  (it's not fully deboned - only the spine and larger bones are removed). She points out that it's better to cook the whole fish than just fillets. Doing such will greatly reduce the risk of the fish from being overcooked. A larger piece also buys the home chef time in the oven. That means a side dish can also be cooked at the same time alongside the trout. For this sheet pan dinner, Ms. Roman uses broccolinii. because it crisps up nicely in the oven. Other veggies such as boiled and crushed potatoes, stripped leaves of kale,or halved cherry tomatoes  can also be used. She tells home chefs that they can make ir as simple or as complicated as they wish. Scatter a few slices of lemon over the trout, drizzle olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. The fish is placed in the center of the sheet , covered with lemon slices.The broccolini is then  placed around it and then drizzled with olive oil. Garlic gives it more flavor as do capers - which you can omit if you 're not into them.

No doubt that Alison Roman will leave her mark on The New York Times Food section. Home chefs will love her no fuss meals that can be made in less than an hour. She will definitely have a following.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Niche or National

What's the better choice for food shopping? The smaller niche shops that have either gourmet or fresher products or the national chains where you can pick up anything and everything?Or is it a combination of both?

Niche markets can be expensive. Ones such as Whole Foods (or Whole Paycheck as some consumers call it) which always touted organic food is over priced . Their wild sockeye smoked salmon is a whopping seventeen dollars, even too pricey to be considered for an occasional treat. A can of their organic beans is three bucks, You could buy three cans of those at Stop and Shop or eve four cans for that cost at Acme.,Granted some of their fresh baked cakes and cookies are worth the price - although ten dollars is a bit steep for apple pie.Another smaller yet just as popular grocery store is Trader Joe's. Their food tends to me more gourmet than Whole Foods and surprisingly better priced too. I went there recently and was awed by what ten dollars can buy. A home chef can shop frugally there and wind up with some tasty bargains. Their Italian  breadsticks or grissini  cost just as much as Stella Doro's and have a better flavor. They're more artesanal thanks to the addition of olive oil. The pancake mix is a bit more labor intensive to work with than Bisquick but the end result was delicious,You get a lot for the price which was around three dollars

As fun as these stores are to occasionally visit, I find them lacking  in many products. Trader Joe's does not have a big paper product section or soaps. A shopper would still have to go to Acme or Stop & Shop for more choices. Bigger supermarkets such as these have huge options for everything and there's more to choose from. One of the best aspects of Stop & Shop is that it caters to home bakers. You can find everything from rice flour to sanding sugar , and everything in between in their baking aisle. I love their herbs and spices section because there's so many different kinds. Another plus for it and Acme is that they have excellent deli counters.Again there's this vast array of meats and cheeses. that are perfect for a quick dinner or a picnic.Their cooked offerings are the same too, with main and side courses ranging from pot  roast and mashed potatoes to roast chicken and cooked Brussels sprout salad. One reason to absolutely love supermarkets is that they buy from local farms within the state. You can get just picked corn and tomatoes without the two hour long haul south .

So which is the better choice. Foodies will tell you the niche supermarkets. Those shopping for families and on a budget will swear by the larger chains. My advice is stick with works best for you.

Monday, July 9, 2018

A Cookie For Every Occasion

Cookies make any event or party even more special. They add fun and color, especially if they are themed.. What's best is that you can make them in your kitchen, thanks to a new cookie cookbook, You can create professional themed cookies like the pro bakers.

A Cookie To Celebrate (Mango Publishing 2018) was written by Jana Douglass, founder of Jana Lee's Bake Shop in Columbus Ohio.,Ms. Douglass has a famed cookie shop featuring baskets of themed sugar cookies. To buy a basket is a whopping sixty dollars, however  thanks to her new book, a home baker can create a festive basket of cookies, whether for a birthday, holiday , event or shower. They'll be perfect for this Instagram age, in which Ms. Douglass is a star.She has designed all sorts of cookies, from a salute of the famed children's literature heroine Eloise, to a nod to Meghan and Harry's Royal Wedding. Her Christmas cookies are whimsical, . There's one decorated as a baking sheet with little dots of unbaked cookies. The book features the basics and gives good advice. along what brands of dye and cutters to use. There is also a basic sugar cookie recipe that is easy to follow and perfect for cutting into shapes.Ms. Douglass even recommends variations with flavor, such as subbing in almond extract for vanilla. What's surprising is that she doesn't include a chocolate cookie recipe for those who want to bake a variety of treats.

Of course this book is all about the icing and decorating. She gives the recipe for royal icing which is a mix of powdered sugar, meringue powder, water and vanilla, This creates the best "paint" for the job. Another use for it? Homemade sprinkles!! Yes! They are very easy to whip up and you can make them in matching colors to the cookie designs. Home bakers will enjoy the how to chapters.. She'll teach you about outlining the cookies and flooding spaces with icing. There are recommendations on when to use decorating tips and when to graduate from them. It's then onto different and fun designs, that also involve sanding sugars and edible gold dust. Another plus is that Ms. Douglass gives a lot of tips. She believes in practice makes perfect, especially when writing on the cookies. There is the recommendation of practicing on parchment paper first. Since these cookies would be perfect for bake sales, there is a chapter on how to package  them. - wait eight to twelve hours -  before putting them in sandwich bags. Ms. Douglass encourages fellow bakers to put their creations on Instagram and a few proud bakers will.

A Cookie To Celebrate is the perfect how to book in this Instagram age. Create a phenomenal batch of  iced treats , celebrating everything from a new baby to a holiday cookie party.It's  easy and best of all, it's fun!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Just One Little Bake Sale

What's been happening along our borders has been on everyone's minds lately. Many of us feel helpless, wondering what we can do. A check sent here to the ACLU  - American Civil Liberties Union  or to church groups helps a little. yet we need to make a bigger impact. We need to have a bake sale.

The idea may sound trivial or even a bit cutesy - twee - as the British call it but a large bake sale with several home bakers participating can raise a substantial amount.Since the schools are closed for the summer, the best place to hold one is in your house of worship. Many churches, temples and mosques would be willing to help in setting one up.Then comes the meting out of who is going to bake what.Have as many different kinds of sweet and savory treats you can think of for it.No sweat if you're not a great baker. . You can whip up a batch of Rice Krispie treats using only your microwave. For extra money bake whole cakes, from crumb to Bundt and sell them along with cake slices. Savory bites such as pretzels and cheese twists are also big sellers. Bread bakers can show off their skills by contributing artesenal bread to the sale.The loaves will definitely bring in sales and more money because no one can resist homemade bread.

A bake sale can be expanded to include  refreshing drinks too. Homemade lemonade and lime ade are always popular and thirst quenching on a hot day. Now there are cold brewed teas that can be easily be made and served alongside cookies and cake. The same goes for cold brewed coffee. Make sure you have plenty of cups along with sugar and creamers, both non-dairy and regular for those who want them.This is also a good time to create brochures and literature explaining what is going on at our borders. Look, there may be opposition from the less enlightened. Ignore them. Explain that it's just a bake sale and not some kind of political or anti-government rally. If you know any immigration lawyers invite them to explain along with clergy and clerics. to calm down any tense situations. What matters is that you're helping in some way for  families  to reunite.

It's just a bake sale = but it's a bake sale with weight. Those chocolate chips and slices of devil's food will help in alleviating a horrible situation. It's a start - one filled with sweetness and hope

Friday, July 6, 2018

Blueberries New Jersey's Gems

New Jersey is known  for many culinary achievements, It have the most diners, the best pork roll and an amazing amount of diverse foods. It  also is the hub of blueberry industry. These deep blue gems proliferate not far from the Jersey shore where they're grown in abundance.

Rachel Wharton, food writer and editor for The New York Daily News covered the scene in Wednesday's New York Times Food section.  She visited several family owned farms in the Pinelands area. This is south Jersey where the land is  composed of  sugar sand , a finely grained soil, perfect for growing fruits and vegetables The area , also known as  Pine Barrens, covers seven counties is home to pitch pines, and white cedars. Yet the blueberries reign supreme here as they have for over a century. They've put the Garden State on the map. New Jersey is the fifth largest blueberry producer in the US, right behind Georgia and Washington State. Many of the farms have been family owned for decades. They grow the most popular varieties of Elizabeths, named for Elizabeth Coleman White, a cranberry farmer's daughter who worked with the government to establish the nation's blueberry's industry in 1916.Until then the berries  were foraged like morels and ramps. Her life was devoted to taming the Northern highbush berries,making American agricultural history  as well. She brought blueberries to America's table even having them advertised in the New York City subway system and putting them on the breakfast menu at the former and famed NY department store B. Altman's

These indigenous berries have many different varieties. Botanically speaking there are three different types according to Mark Ehlenfeldt, a blueberry breeding specialist with The United States Department of  Agriculture in Chatsworh, near the Pine Barrens. Many farms grow the highbush, which is grown for commercial use, the lowbush, a wild variety found mostly in Maine and the rabbit eye found in the American South. The last have an earthy flavor and used in cakes.. Most blueberry plants both here in Jersey and around the world. are the direct descendants of Elizabeth Coleman White's studies.Her namesake berry has an almost cult following and is perfect for filling pies There are also the Bluecrops, favored by Richard Stevens, scion of  Stevens Blueberries.. These have a flavor that swings from sweet to tart - perfect for pancakes.. Berry affectioados can visit and even pick blueberries at the various farms listed in the article. It is about a two hour trip south of Manhattan if you take the Garden State Parkway south.. Some farms have  extras such as Fred Plus III which also has guided Japanese style nature walks.and Emery 's Berry Farm which also sells pies and preserves.Haines berry farm also sells honey and blueberry jam along with blueberry honey, perfect for sweetening teas.\
This is blueberry season here in New Jersey. Take advantage and pick these beautiful gems with their sweet earthy flavor. It's a fun day out, full of rewards/

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Old Fashioned Way Of Grilling

Before charcoal there was wood.It stoked the home fires and cooked deliciously flavored meats.Now it's coming back thanks to a new generation of home grillers. They 're discovering that a few chips or sticks can make a big difference in a barbecue's success.

Steven Raichlen,  the host of the  shows Primal Grill and Project Smoke and  the guru on anything smoked wrote this in depth article for yesterday's New York Times Food section.As he points out this new trend is nothing new. Wolfgang Puck and Alice Waters have been using wood fuel for decades.This new generation of chefs are embracing it with an almost religious zeal. A growing number of home cooks are also making the switch. Grilling over wood is healthier and won't raise the  risk of getting cancer.The other plus is the taste.It comes from the high dry heat of a wood fire which caramelizes proteins in meat and the plants sugars in fruits and vegetables. Another plus is wood smoke contains more than a thousand flavor producing compounds., according to Dr. Nathan Myhrvold, once a Microsoft executive and now promotes modernist cooking. The list of chemicals include creosol which gives Scotch whiskey it's smoky peaty taste , syringol, responsible for the clovelike flavors and vanillin - the source of the vanilla sweetness in smoke. It's much more effective than charcoal in flavoring meats, However, he warns avoid evergreens like spruces and pines which emit a black, sooty smoke that has the repulsive taste of turpentine.

Before home chefs get on the wood bandwagon, there are a few things to keep in mind. According to another grilling expert, Aaron Franklin, use one kind of wood  When you mix wood, you really can't pinpoint the flavor. Keep in mind that different regions of this country use different woods that actually define then. Southerners use hickory, which is always associated with their outdoor cooking. The Southwest  along with Hawaii and Northern Mexico uses mesquite which not only gives grilled meat a distinctive flavor but also provides the added fun of pyrotechnic sparks. The Pacific Northwest has a fondness for cherry and alder. Any fruit tree will do. Home grillers should use split seasoned, appropriate logs (or hearty sticks). They should be between ten and twelve inches long and  two to three inches wide. Use seasoned, older wood instead of younger or green wood because it burns more effeciently. Also make sure it's split because it burns quicker. Grill affectionados may also want to get a parilla grill, This is a huge investment but worth it .It's basically building an outdoor kitchen in the backyard. You can also buy a smaller version from Home Depot or Lowe's.Wood grilling is also versatile. You can grill over flaming logs, like cooking on a campfire or over glowing embers like with a charcoal grill.

Wood grilling is a popular method for creating tasty barbecues. Try cooking over a fragrant wood for a delicious spin .It may be old school but it has a decidedly modern flavor.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy Fourth

Have a food filled and fun filled Fourth. Enjoy those burgers and dogs, along with the best of America's regional treats. Remember that immigrants brought us their best dishes.
Enjoy lobster cooked on a Maine beach, corn at an Iowa State Fair, Boardwalk goodies at our New Jersey beaches. Share with others who are new to our country.
Enjoy everything the USA  has to give  We are lucky that we have an abundance of food  - and a wide variety too.
America is amazing place - let's keep it that way,

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Burger Seasoning For Burger Season

Make no mistake . This is burger season.  Hi Mountain  Seasonings knows this and has come out with a new burger seasoning -chipotle.
It's a spicy, sweet seasoning that I decided to try with Gardein (my favorite) black bean burgers. It was a liberal dusting on the patties.
Of course I used my beloved grill seen here, with vegan butter for frying.

And the burgers which unfortunately were so frozen they were stuck together

This is the finished product served with my Mom's green bean salad. (Another easy recipe that's soo delicious). 
I liked the sesaoning.It did add more spike to the burgers .I plan on using it in my chili sauce too for extra heat. This is the perfect addition to zing up meat loaf along with homemade hamburgers. For both the meat loaf and burgers I would add a heaping teaspoon so that the flavor comes out. I would also recommend adding this to chicken and ground beef for tacos.

This season zest up your hamburgers with Hi Mountain chipotle burger seasonings. It's a fun and fiery way to amp up the burgers. They 'll be the highlight of any barbecue.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Leftovers Your Hot Weather Friends

Heat waves are unbearable. Eating is a chore. Cooking more so. What do you do when it's hot as Hades out there and you're hungry. Go the leftover route. It's easy to forage together something that can be easily microwaved.

The other day I made spaghetti con salsa crudo (see Saturday's pictorial) .It was an easy cook. Chop tomatoes, half an onion and some garlic cloves, mix with olive oil and spices - and voila - easy sauce. Boil some spaghetti  , pour the sauce over it and it's dinner. There was another reason I wanted to make it - leftovers  that can be repurposed into entirely new dishes. The salsa crudo, became bruschetta when it was spooned onto rounds of Italian bread. It proved to be a great Sunday supper , easy and delicious especially on a blazing day. There was a lot of leftover plain pasta.It was repurposed into a microwave pasta con burro. All it took was just a few knobs of vegan butter, pressed garlic and a generous sprinkling of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. One dish led to two easy to make meals.Make it with rotelli, or corkscrew pasta, then turn the leftover pasta into a salad, with the addition of a vinaigrette, chopped peppers, celery and grape tomatoes. As for the salsa crudo, it would go well over a grilled steak or chilled shrimp .

Other leftovers can be reused into new tasty and simple dishes. Grilled steaks can be cut up and added to a green salad for filling meal.They can also top a pizza  or be added to a sauce.The same is true for barbecued chicken. Shred and add to any kind of salad. Cold bean and pasta salads are always easy to whip up.Create a more nutritious leftover by adding a can of salmon or tuna. This a great lunch or dinner,  - flavorful and cold  - perfect for a sweltering day. Serve with grissini, the ultra thin Piedmontese bread sticks. Those leftover hot dog and hamburger buns can be stuffed with a variety of different fillings. Hard boil some eggs and mix with mayo and chopped celery  to create a summery version of the classic Stuff the rolls with these and serve with potato chips for an super easy dinner. Create a variation of a lobster roll with precooked crab meat from your grocery store.Mix it with mayo and scallions for a twist and serve on a toasted hot dog bun. You could also use hot dog and hamburger rolls for breakfast sandwiches, Layer, cheese easy to make scrambled eggs and microwavable sausage links and patties for an easy first meal.

Take it easy  during a heat wave.  Create simple meals  that can be turned into easier lunches and dinners. Don't sweat - literally - over what to make.