Retro Recipes and Traditional Fare
When I was a child I felt sorry for kids whose moms made "meat and potatoes" dinners. That was until I heard of moms who were vegetarians. I thought that was tragic.
I think I was about eleven when I discovered vegetarianism from a student teacher who was raising her children to be vegetarians. No hamburgers on the grill? No hot dogs at baseball games? No chicken parm sandwiches on Sunday night? What kind of a mother does that to her children? I wondered. If it weren't for my mom's meatball sandwiches, I don't think I would have made it through middle school.
Then one day several years later, I did the unthinkable. I became a vegetarian; not because I wanted to ruin my children's lives (I don't have children), but because of an unfortunate incident with some tainted chicken. I didn't eat meat for years after that.
I do eat meat now, but I still love vegetarian meals which I eat several times a week. For those of you who wonder whether or not a vegetable stew can be as satisfying as beef stew, I'm telling you, Yes, it can.
Many recipes for brown rice can require special equipment (like a rice cooker) or time consuming stovetop methods that are not always foolproof. This recipe for baked brown rice is perfect every time and eliminates the risk of poorly cooked rice.
While white rice many be more popular, brown rice clearly is the best choice in terms of health benefits. The process of creating white rice removes almost of all of its original nutrients, and according to the World’s Healthiest Foods website, “the complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids”.
Brown rice has been shown to help lower cholesterol, has a low glycemic rating which helps reduce insulin spikes, and is rich in anti-oxidants and high in fiber. This recipe is probably the most basic, but you can add flavor by substituting chicken or vegetable broth for the water. Once the rice is cooked, add fresh herbs like chopped parsley or basil, or sprinkle with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Making gumbo is a ritual in my family. We make it when the New Orleans Saints play their first game of the season. We make it after Thanksgiving. We make it Super Bowl Sunday. We make it for just about any occasion that falls between Friday and Sunday, since it gets better every time we heat it up and we want those three days to enjoy it. Gumbo is the reason for the big variety of hot sauces in my fridge. It's also one of the reasons I work out at least an hour every day. And it reminds me of when my family lived in Shreveport, Louisiana.
It's no accident that all of the food I'm passionate about leads back to family. It was Faith Ford, a born-and-raised Louisianan, though, who first introduced me to the food from the Creole State. She made an amazing gumbo, along with mind-blowing black-eyed peas that are a Southern tradition on New Year's Day. They're thought to bring good luck and wealth.
But it wasn't until my youngest brother, Pat, married his wife, Stacy, who is also from Louisiana, that we all became gumbo zealots. You get a good sense of the two of them as soon as you find out their recipe begins with a six-pack of beer---and those are for the cooks (they assume at least two cooks) to consume as they make the gumbo.
If you’re looking for a more sophisticated dessert to impress your friends at your next dinner party, try this Austrian classic. America’s Test Kitchen updated the recipe and it’s pretty easy to do.
I made it recently for a small dinner party and was able to prepare it in the morning and refrigerate it until we were ready for dessert. For the best flavor, it’s important to let it stand at room temperature about an hour before serving.
Use the best bittersweet chocolate you can find, Callebaut, Valrhona, or Ghiradelli.
Easy and impressive food...I love it. Another quick and easy appetizer to make your dinner party go as smooth as possible.
This is the perfect finger-food. It is a breeze to make and serves lots of hungry mouths. You can even make them up the day before and bake them off right before guests arrive. Since it makes enough for a couple sheet trays, you can either bake them all together, if all guests arrive at the same time. Or bake one sheet tray at a time, having some available for guests who arrive late.
Either way, these buttery-tasting puffs will have everyone grabbing for more...make sure you grab a couple when they get passed the first time. They will disappear!
It's well known that paprika is the famous spice of Hungary. What I think most people don't realize is that the red powder is made from ripened peppers also called paprika. The word paprika means pepper in Hungarian, and I don't mean peppercorns, but rather the fruit or vegetable, depending on how you look at it. Hungarian sweet peppers are typically pale yellow to pale green in color when they are fresh. They can be eaten raw or cooked into many recipes. But when they ripen to bright red, they are dried and ground into the fine red powder known as paprika or what I like to call Hungarian gold.
Hungarian paprika (pronounced puh-pri-ka) is available in sweet, hot, and everything in between, with eight varieties altogether. Sweet paprika has a deeper red color whereas hot paprika is more rusty in color. The signature dish most famous for using paprika is chicken paprikash, a stew of chicken with an onion sauce richly colored and flavored with paprika. I grew up on paprikás csirke, as it is known in Hungarian. It is my comfort food, and that's exactly what it is for so many Hungarians and Hungarian-Americans. I consider it my favorite home-cooked dish. And, of course, no recipe rivals my mother's.
I am looking forward to more good things happening this year. With that said, the aftermath of the holiday season keeps me as far away from the kitchen as possible.
My days are filled with very, very long walks, yoga classes, and seeing every movie that is up for any and all awards. With four mouths to feed and my end goal of getting something nutritious on the table, 15-minute meals are high on my list.
This is one of those meals. The key…simple ingredients. The original recipe from Bon Appetit, gets a little modification each time I make it. And never disappoints.
One of my goals as we progress further into 2014 is to continue on my journey of providing whole and unprocessed meals, using nutritious ingredients, to my family and friends.
This dish, consisting of a few herbs, spices, vegetables, and a protein is my latest go to on those nights when I am pressed for time. It is now in my arsenal and it should be in yours as well.
It's that time of year again when everyone is ready to jump onto the get-fit wagon. I could easily say that I should include myself in that group, but I believe it's best to start by taking small steps before diving into a plan that you might not keep up. My first step for the New Year is a healthy one, it's simply to eat more healthy foods, like whole grains and to limit my intake of sugar. I actually love whole grains, but I just don't eat them often enough. Luckily my only downfall sugar-wise is chocolate, so it's easy for me to exclude sweets and candies entirely. But I've recently found myself using agave syrup as my choice of sweetener. That was my first step, what's yours?
Eating whole grains doesn't just mean switching your morning toast from white to wheat. It means eating actual whole grains preferably in their minimally processed forms. In place of white rice try brown. Eat steel-cut oats rather than instant. Try some different whole grains, like amaranth, millet, buckwheat, barley, or bulgur. Bulgur is one of my favorites. If you've ever had Middle Eastern or Turkish food, you've probably already eaten bulgur without knowing. The salad tabbouleh and the meatballs called kofta or kefteh are made with bulgur. It's not an unrecognizable grain, bulgur is actually wheat.
Holidays can be treacherous times for anyone trying to shed weight…unless you’ve learned how to fill yourself up and fake yourself out with The Skinny versions of the foods you crave!
And if you’re craving mashed potatoes with your turkey dinner, or just want them as part of a simple supper, this is a recipe that delivers in taste and texture…but has only a fraction of the calories and none of the fat.
Mashed potatoes made with milk and butter can have as much as 200 calories a cup. But a cup of “mock mashed” made with nutrient rich cauliflower has less than 30!
I didn’t invent the brilliant substitution of cauliflower for spuds–that’s a trick I learned from The South Beach Diet years ago…
But by changing the cooking technique–microwaving the cauliflower rather than steaming it (which made it too wet!)–and using just a wee bit ofSmart Balance Light Butter Spread and fat-free half and half, the dish is now quicker, easier, requires much less clean-up AND has much better flavor and texture..which means I can serve it to the pickiest of eaters!
Ribs are undoubtedly a cornerstone of American summer barbecues, especially in the South where it's practically an art form. Die-hard 'cue masters will argue there's a difference between barbecue and grilling. And there is: Barbecue is a low and slow process of cooking meat in a smoky humid environment.
Grilling is about quick contact-cooking. Steaks and burgers are grilling. Ribs and pork shoulder are barbecue. Barbecue can be broken down further into wet and dry versions. It's pretty self-explanatory but the debate as to which is better is one that will never be decided upon. The secret is in the sauce—or is it the rub?
What most Americans know as barbecue is based on the wet barbecue technique that originated in Kansas City. Large food brands further popularized wet barbecue with their lines of sauces. Wet barbecue is all about the sauce whereas dry barbecue is all about the rub. No thick sauce is used to baste the meat except for a mop sauce (typically made with vinegar, which helps keep the meat moist). You'll find dry barbecue in Memphis, where they serve sauce on the side for dipping, but you will never see it slathered on the meat. Most at-home barbecue includes a combination of both dry and wet methods.