Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Healthy Eating"

Transitioning again - this will be the last blog entry for a while. Was asked by the postmistress the other day about "healthy eating". So I came up with a few of the principles that might be useful. They may be of interest to some of my friends in twitterland as well.
  • Healthy eating very soon tastes better than "less healthy" eating. is the best site on the Internet to find good information and recipes.
  • Sugar + dairy (butter/cheese) should raise red flags. That doesn’t mean “never eat them”. Just means you understand that the human body is not made to process these substances without causing you undue stress. 
  • The body easily digests and thrives on legumes and brown rice. Lentils cook up quickly and can be stored in the fridge for a week to be used daily: mixed with herbs and scrambled with eggs for breakfast; or as the base of a tomato/onion/cucumber salad for lunch; or you can re-fry them in olive oil with your favorite herbs and seasonings combining them with brown rice. Lentils or black beans can also be used as a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour in a “brownie recipe” for dessert.
  • Olive oil can be substituted for Everything you would otherwise use butter for -- even in baking. It is a mono-saturated “good-for-you-fat” which the body utilizes fully for its health and repair. Butter simply CLOGS you up. Stop eating butter and any spider or varicose veins in your legs will disappear within 1 month! No doctor will tell you this. Unfortunately, cheese has the same “clogging” and congesting effect. It’s best to limit your intake of this food as much as you can. If you curtail your intake of yogurt and cheese, you can stop the build-up and actually dissolve any tartar on your teeth. No dentist will tell you this either.
  • All cruciferous vegetables are excellent sources of anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory nutrients: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts cooked up with olive oil and garlic are wonderfully flavorful. Lemon and olive oil drizzled on oven-roasted cauliflower florets, with a dusting of paprika, is heaven.
  • Funnily enough, the less expensive cuts of beef (in the form of steak) are better for you than the more marbled (actually fattier) ones. You can hardly beat London Broil on sale at $2.99/lb. It’s cheaper than hamburger (which, unless you buy organic, is without fail augmented by ammonia-treated fat content). Cook this lean meat in a hot cast iron pan for 4-5 minutes on each side. Allow it to rest for another 10 minutes. Slice it thin and serve with broccoli. Cook broccoli florets in a covered pot with very little water (2 TBS max) so they barely steam to perfection. Add minced garlic while cooking and then stir in some olive oil for extra flavor.
  • Eating healthy means learning to enjoy the tastes of simple foods. When a plum tomato is ripe, there is nothing like it in this world - especially when sliced thin with a sprinkling of sea salt in a cold steak sandwich!
  • Eating less meat does not mean eating no meat. You simply eat less at any one sitting and you eat it less frequently. Just remember to eat slowly, thoughtfully and enjoy the taste of your food.
Above all, enjoy the taste of Life!

Till I blog again,

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies …not for the kids

Unless you're educating your young ones in the pleasure of bitter or unsweetened chocolate… you might want to save this recipe for yourself…. or guests you hope to impress :D

The ingredients are simple, few, and rich. You don't have to shy away from the use of olive oil (of any kind). Extra Virgin adds dimension. This batter yields about 30 thick, chewy cookies (2-½" in diameter).

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1-½ cups Brown Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
½ cup Olive Oil
2 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate chopped pretty fine
2 beaten Eggs
¼ cup Water

2 cups Flour
½ tsp. Baking Soda
½ tsp. Sea Salt
3 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350℉

In a large bowl, mix sugar, vanilla, olive oil thoroughly. Add in chopped chocolate shards, beaten eggs and ¼ cup water.

In a large measuring glass, mix flour, salt and baking soda. Then incorporate dry ingredients thoroughly into the wet. Finally, add 3 oz. (or a half-bag) of semi-sweet real chocolate chips to the batter.

Roll into 1" balls and place about 1-½" apart on un-greased cookie sheets. Bake in the center of the oven for 12 minutes. They will spread out, plump up, and remain quite light in color. Allow to sit on baking sheets a few moments before removing cookies to a rack to cool. Pack in air-tight container.

Warm from the oven… they are "out of this world" - but am quite certain the ingredients will continue to meld and their taste will continue to intensify the next day - if there are any left.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Very Adult Black Bean Brownies

I refer to these brownies as "very adult" because they are sweet, but not overly so. Their taste is almost earthy due to the molasses of the brown sugar. And the unsweetened chocolate and cocoa content make them a potent stimulant with just a few bites. The substitution of black beans for flour means no gluten and a good dose of protein to counter-balance the sugar - so though you will experience the stimulating effects of caffeine from the chocolate, there is no unpleasant sugar crash after the act of enjoying them.

Black Bean Brownies

15-oz. can of black beans
1-½ squares of unsweetened Baker's chocolate (about 1-½ oz.)
scant 2 cups of brown sugar
⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of sea salt
½ cup olive oil
2 eggs

Pre-heat oven to 350℉

First drain and thoroughly rinse the black beans - then put them in the microwave for 2 minutes or bring them to a full steam on the stove (with a lid on) so beans are cooked through and easily mashed.

In a medium sized bowl mash the hot beans with a fork.
Chop unsweetened chocolate into fine shards.
Continue mashing chocolate shards and brown sugar into the black beans.
Add cocoa, salt, and vanilla and continue mixing.
Into a measuring cup pour ½ cup of oil and add 2 eggs - beat gently with a fork.
Fold egg mixture into batter. Mix thoroughly.

Pour thick batter into an oiled dish or pan and bake about 45 minutes till firm and a testing knife comes out clean. This is a fudgie and soft rather than cakey brownie. Allow them to cool and then cut into small pieces. If too "soft" exposing the pieces to air or putting them in the refrigerator will firm them up somewhat. Operative words: fudge, chocolate, delicious.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Philadelphia Cheese Steak - Fast Food

Not everyone may care for this next recipe. Those who enjoy an occasional cheese steak sandwich, however, (and I know you're out there….) might find surprising how easy this snack is to prepare. Thinking about it… to my mind, anyway, I realized the key ingredient is not the caramelized onions, the thinly sliced beef, or the melted cheese…, but the necessary inclusion of black pepper. If you happen to have the following ingredients, this dish comes together in a snap.

Leftover beefsteak
1 small onion
some fresh sliced green pepper (optional)
grated or sliced cheese (provolone, cheddar, whatever…)
olive oil
salt & pepper
bread or roll (with which to 'sandwich'  the cheese steak!)

It's best to prep all the ingredients first. Slice leftover beef into paper thin strips. A serrated knife works well. Coat the beef strips with a bit of olive oil, salt & pepper. Slice up a small onion into thin half-rounds (julienne green pepper as well, if desired). Grate enough cheese to cover the meat/onion combo in a pan. Have sufficient bread and or rolls at the ready.

In a hot skillet, caramelize (wilt and brown) the onion in a bit of olive oil. Turn the heat down to medium and add the seasoned beef. Once melded with onion and warmed through, sprinkle grated cheese over the top and place a lid on the skillet. Let it all sit just till cheese is melted. Then fill your favorite bread or roll with the steaming goodness and enjoy yourself :D

Both Giants and Patriots fans can eat this, I think.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Comfort Food ~ Tuna Pasta Melt

There are winter days that call for "special measures". In this case, a piping hot casserole of pasta twirls, melted cheddar cheese, and albacore tuna (fresh from the can!) served such a purpose. The fact that I'd purchased the 1-pound box of pasta for 99¢ and the tuna for 75¢-a-can warmed my heart even more. This dish flowed together quickly and efficiently.


2 cans tuna
dried parsley
sea salt & pepper
olive oil

½ box pasta twirls
bottled water (this house has metallic-tasting well water)

6 oz. or so cheddar cheese

While the water for pasta is coming to a boil, drain and fork apart canned tuna into a small bowl. Season liberally with dried parsley, salt & pepper. Drizzle olive oil over it. Mix well and let sit.

Once pasta is in the water, pre-heat the oven to 375℉.

While pasta is cooking to desired consistency, grate cheese and set aside. Lightly oil the bottom of a shallow baking dish.

Drain cooked pasta, spread into baking dish, add to it the grated cheese, then the seasoned tuna on top. Place uncovered in the oven for 10 minutes or so - till the cheese is perfectly melted.

By the time the melt is ready, you've cleaned everything up and are ready to enjoy your labors of love :)  It's no work at all.

Thought this would make two meals for me… Hah! Closer to one!!!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Onion Pie

Many of the best recipes are "born of necessity" ….or what happens to be left in the refrigerator. This onion pie came together because of a few (past peak) onions and some remaining green pepper slices I couldn't bear to waste. "Onion Pie" is just another name for quiche. The "crust" is also the result of Wasa Crispbread Rye Crackers that were lingering on a shelf, waiting for a more dramatic exit.


Enough crispbread crackers (or breadcrumbs) crushed to cover the bottom of casserole
Dried dill
Sea Salt
Olive oil

Several medium onions - sliced
Green pepper - julienned
6 medium eggs or more - beaten w/a little sea salt & pepper
8 oz. or so of shredded swiss (any cheese)
1 cup water (or milk, etc.)
¼ cup olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 375℉

To make the breadcrumb crust, place crackers w/in clingfilm or a plastic bag and bash them into crumbs. Season with an ample amount of dried dill, sea salt and pepper. In a heated skillet meld the crumbs with a good drizzle of olive oil. Then spread them onto the bottom of an oiled casserole or baking dish.

Slice several onions and place (artfully - lol!) on the crumbs along with the julienned peppers.

In a medium sized bowl, beat together several eggs with a little bit of salt and pepper. Add a cup of liquid, ¼ cup of olive oil, and 1 cup or so of grated cheese. Mix well and pour custard over vegetables in baking dish. It will look a bit sloppy and nothing like a quiche. Persevere. The custard will rise. Bake 45 minutes or so till top is golden brown and bubbly and firm to the touch. Let cool a bit before attempting to it eat :)

As usual, it's not so much the measurements as it is the manner in which delicious food is created. For me, cooking is always an adventure.

**note: this "crust" is not crisp - it is, however, a good compliment of carbohydrate to the protein and fat content of the dish

Saturday, January 28, 2012

American Chile Con Carne

I made this dish for the first time, accidentally, last weekend in the presence of my family who were visiting. Anticipating the possibility of being snowed in, they had brought with them enough provisions to feed us all for a week.  Ground meat, canned kidney beans, and stewed tomatoes were among them. They wanted "chile" and braved icy driving conditions into the village Saturday morning just to purchase chile powder. Thus I found myself trying my hand at something I'd never made before.

Today I experimented again with what was in the cupboard and a few more seasonings. The following 'recipe' is the result. 'Recipe' is a qualified term because I'm not offering any specific measurements. Had to put this one together by taste, and actually doing so is half the fun. So I'm not going to spoil it for you either :D

American Chile Con Carne


Chopped onions, celery, green pepper
Ground beef
Cooked kidney beans
Diced stewed tomatoes

Chile powder
Sea Salt

Garlic cloves

Wilt chopped vegetables over medium-high heat in deep skillet in some olive oil.
Add to it the ground meat.
Add spices to taste - keep tasting and keep adding these seasonings.
Put in rinsed beans.
Add tomatoes with their liquid - tomato juice should cover all ingredients.
Add several whole cloves of garlic.
Turn heat down to a simmer and cook at least until you recognize the warm aroma of spiced chile.

Factors involved in ingredient amounts:

1) Number of people to be fed
2) Price and amount of meat bought (!)
3) Size of skillet or pan in which you're cooking
4) Your taste for spicy - hot or not

This came together and was fully cooked in about an hour. Of course, the melding of flavors improves with time on the stove and in the refrigerator. Fantastic next day. Serve over rice or pasta or in a bowl on its own.