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RECIPES FROM ALL OF US
5 INGREDIENTS (OR LESS) RECIPES FROM MY READERS
HOLIDAY RECIPES FROM MY READERS
RECIPES FROM MY KITCHEN
Iced Green Tea
Light and Yummy Summer Pasta
Caramel Apple Cake
Iced Pumpkin Bars
Pumpkin Bars Icing
Quick and Easy Halloween Cookies
Clint Harrigan's Kielbasa and Mashed Potato Soup
A Meaty Tofu Glaze
Tofu goes Mexican
Baked Potato Soup
Roasted Green Pepper Hummus
Baked Fudge Float
Carrie's Baked Spaghetti Squash Boats
Mini Spinach and Feta Pizza Pockets
Fruit Cocktail Cake
Ben Longtree's Vegetarian Pizza
Ben Longtree's Minestrone Soup
Darlene's Pat-A-Crust Pie Crust
Ben Longtree's Yellow Summer Squash
Tuna Cakes with Cucumber-Dill Sauce
Hank Coulter's Fried Chicken
If you've read "ALL ABOUT ME," you know that I used to be a strict vegetarian. At the present time, I am under doctors orders to eat fish and poultry because I became anemic. As a result, I sometimes cook two evening entrees, one with red meat for family, and the other not. But mostly we eat only poultry and fish.
I love to cook when I have the time, which equates to about once a year. The other 364 nights, I'm in a rush, with a grill and three skillets going at once, sometimes with the rice cooker thrown in for good measure because I also cook for my dogs. After-dinner togetherness in our kitchen is commonplace. All family members are cordially invited to do KP duty. Those who declinewell, I won't get graphic. The survivors and I have a lot of fun, dancing around each other as we work, and I'm not exhausted when the kitchen is finally put to rights.
My reasons for once being a vegetarian were twofold. I adore animals, for one. All kinds. Loving them as I do, it seemed best not to eat them, especially the ones with cute faces. Yet, I was never a purist. I always cooked meat for my family and friends. (Not everyone shares my passion for tofu!) My second reason for being a vegetarian was to benefit my health. Unfortunately, it didn't work out for me, but I still believe a meatless diet is very healthful for most people, and I still use many of my vegetarian recipes. Some of the following recipes and tips are quick. Others require more preparation. If there's a way to cut corners, I usually find it. I will include time and effort savers in the following tips and recipes. [top]
CARAMEL APPLE CAKE
1 1/3 cups oil
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1½ teaspoons apple pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
4 Granny Smith Apples
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt, and apple pie spice in a bowl. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, combine vegetable oil, sugar, eggs in a large mixing bowl.
Mix well. Gradually add the flour mixture, and mix on medium speed. Add apples and nuts to batter. Then add vanilla until all mixed well.
Pour into a greased tube pan.
Bake on 350 degrees for 80 to 90 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool slightly. Invert cake on a rack. Remove pan from cake.
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup butter
¼ cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Combine ingredients. Cook in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until thickened. Drizzle over cooled cake while icing still warm.
NOTE: This batter can be used for individual mini cakes, or even tarts.
The difference is that you would adjust the oven time, as to be careful to not over bake. [top]
ICED PUMPKIN BARS
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 cup oil
2 cups canned pumpkin
2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
Mix eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin in a bowl. Set aside. Combine all dry ingredients together and add gradually to the pumpkin mixture. Spread into a greased jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
3 oz. cream cheese
½ cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
Blend well. Spread evenly over cooled pumpkin bars.
Optional: Sprinkle with chopped pecans or walnuts on top for decoration. [top]
QUICK AND EASY HALLOWEEN COOKIES (No baking required!)
2 packages of Archway Soft Sugar Drop Cookies
1-2 tubs of cake frosting (vanilla, buttercream, orange, or lemon is preferred)
1 bag of candy corn.
Take cookies out of package. Spread frosting over each one.
You can use food coloring to change the color of the vanilla or buttercream icing on ½, if you can't locate orange or lemon (yellow) frosting.
Place two to three pieces of the candy corn on top of each cookie for decoration. Store in airtight container.
NOTE: This idea has bailed me out of many last minute pinches! Can be altered for other seasons Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, etc.
Just change the icing color and the candy decoration. You can use sprinkles, etc. to enhance the look. [top]
CLINT HARRIGAN'S KIELBASA AND MASHED POTATO SOUP
(Leftover mashed potatoes work great. A quick alternative is high-quality instant mashed potatoes.)
This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled for a big crowd.
SERVES 4-6 GENEROUS HELPINGS
4 Tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups chopped fresh mushrooms (or two 4 ounce cans mushroom pieces, drained)
2 14.5 ounce cans chicken broth (or equivalent in homemade stock)
1 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorns
1 Teaspoon ground paprika
4 Cups mashed potatoes
1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 scallions or 8 green onions, finely diced
4 individual-size Kielbasa sausages or one Kielbasa loop-style sausage, cut in thin rounds or diced (any other individual sausage of your choosing will also work nicely)
1/4th Cup sour cream (to cut calories, you can use light or fat-free sour cream)
1/4th Cup cream or half-and-half (to cut calories, you can use fat free half-and-half)
In an oversize non-stick skillet or stovetop Dutch oven, sauté Kielbasa pieces and onion in butter until the onions go soft.
Add mushrooms, sauté until tender and onions are starting to brown slightly
Add broth and seasonings, mix well
Stir in mashed potatoes, working with a large wooden spoon or spatula until there are no lumps
Bring mixture to a soft boil, stirring constantly, and then lower heat to a simmer or low medium heat, being careful not to scorch
If you want the cheddar to be completely melted into the soup, add cheese now, blending with wooden spoon until it is thoroughly melted and a part of the mixture.
If you want tiny bits of melted cheese to fleck the soup, wait and add the shredded cheese in the next step.
Mix in scallions, sour cream, cream or half-and-half, stirring constantly until heated completely without bringing to a boil. If you've chosen to add the cheese at this stage, work the shredded cheese in your fingers to separate and sprinkle over mixture, stirring between additions. When finished, heat through as above, but don't boil. You'll have flecks of melted cheese throughout your soup.
Serve in soup bowls and garnish with fresh sprigs of parsley. Great accompaniments are hot cornbread or warm sourdough slathered with sweet butter, or hearty sandwiches. As Quincy points out to Clint, this is a high-fat soup, but the fat content can be reduced by using fat-free sour cream and half-and-half. You could also use a low-fat cheddar and low-fat butter on the breads you serve with the soup.
Clint does not guarantee that your soup will taste as rich and wonderful if you use reduced-fat ingredients. [top]
TIPS ON FABULOUS TOFU
Tofu doesn't have much taste. Many dinner guests in my home react like vampires to sunlight when they learn that tofu may be part of the meal. In a way, I can understand. I didn't care for tofu myself until I discovered new ways to fix it. Nowadays, tasteless lumps of tofu are absolutely taboo in my dishes. As a result, I always end up with incredibly voracious tofu converts at my table. They try one itty-bitty taste, and the next thing I know, my vegetarian food is all gone. Rather than protect it with a butcher knife, I've taken to preparing large amounts so there will be enough left over for me! Note: If you are watching your weight, buy low-fat tofu and limit your portions.
The following tofu tips are just that, tips, not really recipes. If you don't enjoy tofu, I hope you'll get brave and try it again. You may not know what you're missing. If you're a family of one or two, cut back on the following amounts accordingly or you'll be dining on tofu for two days.
The first secret to creating fabulous tofu is to press it. This sounds like work. Trust me, it's simple. Grab a colandermetal, plastic, it doesn't matter. Line it with four layers of absorbent paper towels. (Two towels, folded in half to create four layers are sufficient. Save a tree.) Now I'm going to test my skill with descriptive phrases. You must cut the block of tofu in half lengthwise to create two blocks. Imagine the block as a layer cake. Cut it so you have two layers.
Lay the tofu on the towels inside the colander. Cover with a paper towel. Grab a large serving bowl with a wide, flat bottom that will fit inside the colander. Set the bowl on top of the tofu. Then add weight to the bowl. (I use plastic bags of beans, rice, lentils, or whatever else I have handy. Three or four are usually enough. Inside the bowl, they don't get wet.) Leave the tofu on the counter for at least ten minutes or up to thirty if you'd like to take a walk or soak in bubbles before dinner. (If you have time for the latter, lucky you!)
When the tofu has been pressed lay it on a cutting board. I cut it lengthwise three to four times and then cut it crosswise to make small rectangles. Sometimes I'll cut it into even smaller squares so bits of yummy tofu will be in every mouthful of the dish I plan to prepare.
Now the fun starts. Pressed tofu absorbs flavor. If I want to use it as a meat substitute in a stir-fry, for instance, I marinate it. You can use your favorite meat marinade or you can create your own marinade using whatever you likesoy sauce, Worcestershire, A-1, smoke flavoring, Balsamic vinegar, sorghum. Pick and choose. Don't be stingy with your favorite spices. Experiment with tastes. Be creative. Once you decide on a marinade, arrange the tofu on the bottom of a large baking dish (I use a long glass cake dish), drizzle the marinade over the tofu, turn to coat all sides, cover with wrap, and leave to sit, turning the pieces at least once more to maximize flavor absorption. The longer you let it marinate, the more flavorful it will be. (You can even cut tofu into thin strips and make tofu bacon. It's fabulous!)
When your tofu has marinated long enough to suit you (this is not an exact science. You can marinate for thirty minutes, for hours, or for days in the fridge) you are ready to cook it. In a large, flat-bottomed non-stick skillet, sauté the tofu to a golden brown in melted butter. (Two tablespoons for a whole block of tofu is more than enough. If you're dieting, measure, be your own judge, and consider trying a nonstick spray to cut down on the amount of butter you need. It is my experience that the overall fat content is low if you're cooking a very large stir-fry.) Depending on the marinade, salt and pepper to taste. Even low-sodium soy is salty, so use caution with additional salt if soy sauce was a marinade ingredient. (I taste the tofu as it's browning to check the saltiness. This is my favorite task, sneaking those nibbles. Yum! No wonder the scales are my worst enemy!)
I like to sauté tofu until it's slightly crisp on all sides. This gives it more texture in a dish. When the tofu is golden brown (and crispy on the outside if you want a more meaty consistency,) you can add your stir-fry veggies. Mix them in well with the tofu, cover them, and stir as needed to prevent scorching. Use stir-fry sauce judiciously or you'll have a meal that's a little too flavorful.
Because I'm always in a hurry, I buy fresh, ready-to-use vegetables in plastic bags, rinse them in a colander, and, voila, the meal is almost doneif I remembered to turn on the rice cooker. You can be as creative as you like with your meal. Sliced almonds, used sparingly, are lovely. Water chestnuts add a nice crunch.
Another delicious way to fix tofu is to press, cut, and sauté it, as directed above, and then add a wonderful glaze sauce. I don't marinate the tofu if I'm going to glaze it. This glaze adds flavor enough.[top]
One 6-oz can tomato paste
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1½ teaspoons sugar
Dash garlic powder
1 cup water
Whisk ingredients in a bowl, drizzle over the browned tofu squares, and cook in the same uncovered skillet on medium-low or medium (every stove is different) until the sauce glazes the tofu. (As the moisture cooks out, the tomato-flavored sauce sticks to the squares.) I cook it down until hardly any sauce remains apart from the tofu. Sometimes I then continue to cook the tofu until the glaze forms a bit of a crust. This keeps the glaze from mixing too freely with the vegetables if you wish to add a dash of stir-fry sauce or your vegetables aren't thoroughly drained.
If you're doing a stir-fry and feel you need steam to tenderize the vegetables, add a tiny bit of water. This tends to mingle the flavors, so don't use too much. Over a low heat, cover until the vegetables are crispy-tender, stirring as needed. If you choose to add stir-fry sauce, use it sparingly.
These glazed squares also make delicious appetizers. They're wonderful warm or at room temperature. People inhale them. Tofu haters can't believe they're eating tofu. [top]
A Meaty Tofu Glaze
2 Tablespoons bottled Chinese stir-fry sauce (choose one that isn't sweet)
2 Tablespoons prepared herb and garlic meat marinade
1 1/2--2 Tablespoons black bean sauce
Mix glaze ingredients together and use as a tofu glaze, as directed above. [top]
TOFU GOES MEXICAN
Again, this is creativity unleashed in the kitchen. I love Mexican/Spanish-type omelets, and I don't want to give them up merely because I no longer eat meat and regular eggs are bad for me. My son John, who eats vegetarian most of the time, shares that sentiment. One morning after church, we hit the kitchen starving. It was one of those "What can we eat?" moments. So we went to work. I intended to make a Mexican-type omelet with Eggbeaters. But with a hungry man in the kitchen, grabbing ingredients and adding his cravings to the lot, we ended up with a tostada creation. It was divine!
I used ½ block low-fat tofu, pressed and cut into tiny squares, and sautéed them in 1 tablespoon of butter until golden brown. While they were browning, I used the basic glaze sauce above and added spice to tastegranulated garlic, chili powder, and oregano. When the tofu was browned, I drizzled a third of the sauce over the chunks and cooked them until they were coated with the glaze. Meanwhile, we washed and sliced fresh vegetablesa green pepper, portabella mushrooms, and onion. I added one can of white northern beans, drained, to the remaining sauce. We tossed the vegetables and sauce into the skillet with the tofu. When the vegetables were crispy tender, we served them on warm, low-fat corn tortillas, topping the works with scrambled eggs (Eggbeaters) and fat-free sour cream. John added brown rice, left over from the night before, to his. We had enough in the skillet to feed an army, but we enjoy leftover vegetable dishes, so that was great. [top]
VEGETARIAN STEAK (You will need a colander and cheesecloth.)
Before I tell you how to make this, I have to share the story behind it. As a vegetarian, I find holidays difficult. I'm serving ham and prime rib or turkey. I'm so busy preparing things for others that it's hard to find time to think of myself. Last Christmas Eve, I decided to heck with that, and I took the time to prepare myself a rare treat, vegetarian steak. (This is rich and high in fat, so go easy on it.)
I served all the traditional dishes that evening. The meat-lovers dove in. Then someone tried my vegetarian steak, made blissful noises, and the next thing I knew, practically everyone was eating it. Always watching my intake because of my waistline, I indulged in one small piece, thinking I could have another the following day for Christmas dinner. Not! There were several pieces left over, but my kids got up Christmas morning and ate them all. I can almost guarantee that this will be a hit with family and friends. I've seen several versions. This is my favorite way to fix it.
1 gallon whole milk
1 quart buttermilk
1 cup Heavy Cream
In a large pot, bring the milk and cream to a boil over medium to medium-high heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Lower the heat and add the buttermilk. Stir the mixture until the milk curdles, the curd separates, and the liquid (whey) looks watery. (The curd will be chunky, the whey semi-clear.) If this doesn't happen, add a couple of teaspoons lemon juice. That should do the trick.
Remove from heat. Line the colander with cheesecloth (I use a double layer), leaving enough to drape over the sides of the colander. Put the colander in the sink (empty and clean the sink first), and then pour the curd and whey into the cloth-lined colander. Gather the edges of the cheesecloth, pulling snugly around the curd. Hold it fast at the top to form a ball, rinse under lukewarm water, and then squeeze to rid it of excess moisture.
Place the ball back in the colander. Leaving the extra cheesecloth folded over the curd, flatten slightly with your hands and then press it, using the same method used to press tofu. The curd should drain for about 10 minutes. Leave it in the sink while it's draining, or you'll have a mess.
Remove the curd from the cheesecloth onto a cutting board. Slice into 2" squares for steak, small cubes for appetizers.
Browning the Steaks
4 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons garlic powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
Equally divide the above ingredients between two large, flat-bottomed skillets. Over low heat, stir the butter mixture in each until melted. Add the chunks of curd, turning them often to cook all sides, and fry until golden brown.
Adding the Glaze
While frying the curd, mix the glaze in a bowl with a wire whisk.
¼ cup tomato paste
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon sugar
When the chunks of curd are golden brown, divide the glaze mixture between the two skillets. Increasing the heat slightly, turn the chunks of curd to coat all sides. Continue cooking for another 3 to 4 minutes until the glaze cooks down and coats the curd. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit while you prepare the rest of your meal. Return the skillets to the heat and warm before serving.
Cut into small pieces, the glazed curd is delicious served warm as an appetizer. People will also devour it cold, straight from the fridge. If you're hoping to enjoy another piece, hide it. [top]
BAKED POTATO SOUP
1 Tablespoon butter
One bunch green onions, washed, peeled, and diced (or a yellow onion, peeled
3 stalks celery, sliced
5 well-scrubbed, unpeeled baked potatoes, diced (I do mean pre-baked, not raw bakers)
1 quart nonfat milk
¼ cup flour
1 rounded teaspoon cream of tartar
Salt and pepper
1 pint nonfat sour cream
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
In a Dutch oven, sauté the onion and celery in butter. When the celery is translucent, lower heat to a simmer, and add the diced potatoes. Pour half the milk into a blender, add the flour and cream of tartar, and blend until smooth. Pour milk mixture and the remaining milk into the pot. Stir to blend. Increasing heat to medium, cook, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold in the sour cream and cheddar cheese. Serve piping hot. [top]
ROASTED GREEN PEPPER HUMMUS
1 16-oz can garbanzo beans, well-drained
½ roasted green bell pepper, in its skin, seeded
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons tahini (a paste made from sesame seeds, found in health-food stores)
2 Tablespoons parsley
¼ teaspoon salt
Add all ingredients to blender. Blend until smooth. If you have hummus fans in your household, double the ingredients to make plenty. Store covered in the refrigerator. Enjoy!
If you have a gas range, you can brown the green pepper with tongs over the flame.
This hummus is thick. To simplify blending, dab at the surface edges with a spatula held at an angle to create a surging motion.
If you're making a double batch, double all the ingredients, but hold off on adding the second can of drained garbanzo beans until you've blended the hummus until smooth. It makes it thinner and easier to work with. Then add the second can of beans, blending until smooth again. [top]
Baked Fudge Float
Stir together in a small bowl and set aside:
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup powdered cocoa
In a larger bowl, mix:
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons powdered cocoa
1-½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
After mixing well, add:
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup chopped nuts
Stir second mixture well and spread evenly in a buttered 2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle the cocoa/sugar mixture over the top. Pour over all ½ cup of boiling water. Bake immediately in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. [top]
Carrie's Baked Spaghetti Squash Boats
A reader named Carrie sent me this recipe. She assures me that it is essentially her creation, and she and her husband enjoy it so much that she has given me permission to share it with you. She says that even though they are not vegetarians, this is one of their favorite wintertime meals. Before I posted it here, I had to try it myself, of course, so I fixed it last night for family and friends. It was very easy, and even though it sounds a little different, I have to say that we all loved it just as much as Carrie said we would. The visual appeal is very nice as well. I put a serving spoon in each boat, and people helped themselves to the delicious filling. For a special "company" dinner, this recipe would be a great conversation starter.
Cut a spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Put approximately ½ to 1 cup of water in the bottom of a baking dish (9x13). Turn the squash upside down and bake for 30 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees F.
After you have cooked the squash, scoop out the squash meat. I then stir fry in cooking spray, the squash meat, diced carrots, snow peas, broccoli florets, almonds, one small onion and add fresh chopped garlic to taste. I also add salt and pepper and any other seasonings to taste. When everything is tender, I scoop some of the stir-fry veggies into each empty boat. Top with Parmesan cheese if you like and enjoy.
Carrie says water chestnuts and a variety of other vegetables can be used in the stir fry. In other words, if you have a spaghetti squash, you can get creative and come up with a great vegetable dish on the spur of the moment. I had no almonds, so I used raw cashews, which were delicious. On my personal serving, I also added a dash of low-sodium soy sauce. (A tip: The remainder of the meal wasn't quite done when my boats were finished. I had turned off the oven, so I set the boats on the middle rack to stay warm while I finished preparing the rest of the meal. They held up very nicely until it was time to serve.) [top]
The story: This recipe was given to me, along with sample dog biscuits, by the prior owner of our home in the valley. Like me, she is a dog lover, and she made these biscuits for her dogs regularly. They loved them! And so do my dogs. The benefits of making your own dog treats are many. You know that your dog is eating a wholesome snack, for one thing, and that the flavor is superb. (I have this on good authority. My taste testers give these biscuits a five-star rating.) Cost-wise, these healthful treats are less expensive than the ones you buy if you have most of the dry ingredients on hand. It's also nice to be able to cut these biscuits to a size suitable for your pet. If you have a very small dog, you can make tiny biscuits, or if you have a very large dog, you can make large ones. The treats can also be baked as you need them, assuring freshness and optimal flavor. There is also the added bonus and inescapable fact that you will be a very popular dog mom when you hand out these tasty morsels!
If you have a mixer with a dough hook, the kneading process is simple. I am planning to try making this dough in my bread machine to save on time and work. Given the fact that I haven't yet tried that and also bearing in mind that every machine is different, proceed with that idea at your own risk. It just sounds like a great time-saving scheme to me!
1 cup beef liver (approx. ½ pound)
(I'm going to try chicken liver next time because it's cheaper)
3 cloves minced fresh garlic
2 ½ cups water or low-sodium broth
1 teaspoon honey or sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast (one packet)
½ cup warm water
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups cornmeal
1 ¾ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup wheat germ
1 cup nonfat dry milk
½ cup brewer's yeast, optional (may control fleas but may also cause flatulence (gas)
4 teaspoons iodized salt (reduce by one-half if you use salted broth)
3 eggs, beaten
1 egg beaten with ¼ cup milk, for brushing tops of biscuits
Dough: Rinse and cut liver into small pieces. Combine with garlic and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover the pt and lower the temp to simmer. Cook 15 minutes and cool. When cool, grind or puree mixture, water included, and set aside.
Dissolve honey or sugar and yeast in the warm water and set aside. In a large bowl, blend the flours with the cornmeal, oats, wheat germ, dry milk, brewer's yeast and salt. Add cooled liver-garlic mixture, the dissolved yeast and the beaten eggs to the dry ingredients. Mix together well.
Kneading and resting: Turn the mixture onto a work surface, which you have dusted with flour. Knead as you would bread dough for four to five minutes.
Return dough to bowl, cover and let rest somewhere warm for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and grease as many cookie sheets as you'll need to bake biscuits for a week. Place whatever dough you don't use in an airtight plastic bag and either freeze or refrigerate for later use.
Shaping: Divide dough into three parts. Roll one part out at a time with a rolling pin to 1/8 to ¼ inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Brush egg-milk mixture over the top and bake for one hour. Turn oven off and leave biscuits in the oven overnight or for several hours until they are "dog biscuit" hard. [top]
6 Tablespoons each, cornmeal and flour
2 Tablespoons butter
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup grated parmesan
4 ocean perch fillets
On a plate, combine flour, cornmeal and seasoning. Roll fillets in meal. Melt butter in a baking dish large enough to hold all four fillets. Place fillets in the dish and coat with butter on both sides. Sprinkle with parmesan. Bake a 450 for 8-10 minutes. If you are on a low-fat diet, use cooking spray on the baking dish and drastically reduce the butter content by lightly brushing each fillet with only a bit of butter. You can also reduce the amount of cheese.
These fillets are delicious if you enjoy fish. Made according to the recipe, they are tasty and quick, a nice main course for when you have unexpected guests. [top]
MINI SPINACH AND FETA PIZZA POCKETS
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and patted dry
4 oz low-fat cream cheese
6 to 7 oz feta cheese, drained and crumbled
One (1) 14 or 16-oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
diced green onion, to taste
one medium tomato, deseeded and finely diced
2 Tablespoons grated fresh parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
Four (4) 10-oz rolls of ready-made refrigerated pizza dough
¼ cup milk
Mix the first 8 ingredients together in a large bowl. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pizza dough into a rectangular shape, approximately 12 X 15 inches. (I prefer to make the crust slightly thinner-less calories per appetizer that way, and the crust produces more pockets.) If you have a suitable small calzone or pot-sticker cutter, you can cut and press your pizza pockets that way. If not, use a knife and cut the dough into twenty or more three-inch squares. Put one rounded teaspoon of filling on each open pocket. Brush inside edges of dough with water. Fold together and press edges closed with a fork or your miniature calzone cutter. Prick tops with the fork or the sharp tip of a knife three times. Place pockets on a baking sheet, brush tops with milk, and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 to 10 minutes. Serve hot with a dip of your choice.
If you want to make these ahead, do not brush the pockets with milk and freeze them on foil-lined baking sheets for at least two hours. When completely frozen, gently transfer into freezer bags and take them out later for a quick and effortless appetizer to serve your guests. (I would use them within a couple of weeks. The delicacy of the dough makes it vulnerable to breakage over time.)
Not everyone is a fan of spinach and feta, but practically everyone loves pizza. Get creative if you like and experiment with fillings. Just make sure your mixture isn't runny and that you've included enough cheese to make these morsels moist and mouth-watering after they're baked.
Since I began working with a trainer, chicken and fish have been added back into my diet. (I still try to avoid eating anything with a cute face.) I stumbled upon a recipe during the holidays for chicken that's tasty, either as an appetizer or main dish. And it's incredibly easy.
Cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts into ½ strips. Mix ½ cup of your favorite creamy salad dressingblue cheese, ranch, etc., with hot sauce to taste, only using a dash if you don't care for spicy food, more if you do.
Coat the strips of chicken with the dressing. Then roll each strip in cornflake crumbs. Bake on a sheet, treated with non-stick spray, at 400 degrees for eighteen to twenty minutes until chicken loses all pinkness. Serve warm.
FRUIT COCKTAIL CAKE
(Very easy, quick, and lovely for last-minute guests)
2 cups flour
1-½ cups sugar
1 15-ounce can fruit cocktail
2 teaspoons soda
Cream together the eggs and sugar. Add the flour. Mix well. Add the fruit cocktail, undrained, and the soda. Mix thoroughly on high speed with mixer. Bake in an oiled 8 x 8 inch dish at 350 degrees for approximately 40 minutes or until center springs back at your touch. Allow to cool.
1 cup sugar
1 cube margarine or butter
1 small can evaporated milk
1 can coconut
½ cup chopped nuts
In a saucepan, bring sugar, evaporated milk, and margarine to a boil for two minutes. Remove from heat and add coconut and nuts. Frost cooled cake.
Enjoy. This is a moist, tasty cake. Guests won't believe you threw it together at the last second.
BEN LONGTREE'S VEGETARIAN PIZZA
2 small onions, sliced (about 2 cups)
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
10 ounces baby spinach, (remove stems,) rinse, and chop
5 artichoke hearts, cut into quarters (14 ounce can, drained)
½ teaspoon black pepper
pizza crust, homemade or ready-made
2 cups crumbled feta cheese (or your favorite cheese if you don't care for feta)
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
In a large skillet, add oil and sauté onions, garlic, dill, and salt on moderate heat until lightly browned. Add the spinach and simmer without a lid, stirring often, until almost wilted. Add the pepper and artichokes. Set aside to cool slightly. Spread onto crust. Top with cheese and tomatoes. Bake as directed for your pizza crust. Serve and enjoy.
The feta adds a delicious zing to this vegetarian pizza, but as mentioned above, you can use another kind of cheese if you prefer. Whole wheat crust, made in a bread machine, gives this pizza a hearty, healthy edge that's very satisfying. And get creative, adding other things that you loveolives, water chestnuts for crunch, or other small tidbits of vegetables. If you are not vegetarian, this pizza recipe can be paired with thinly sliced pieces of chicken breast. If you have a vegetarian in a family of meat eaters, make part of the pizza Ben's way and add meat to the rest!
BEN LONGTREE'S MINESTRONE SOUP
1 cup whole-wheat or regular pasta (shells or elbow)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
2 or 3 stalks celery, chopped
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed (more for a very hearty soup)
2 cans diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 small zucchini, cubed
1 can green beans, with liquid
1 can white navy beans or great white northern beans, with liquid
1 tsp. Pepper, or to taste
8 cups water
1 Tablespoon dried basil
1 clove garlic, whole
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
salt, to taste
To cook pasta: Bring to a boil 2 cups of water in a small saucepan, add a dash of salt and one teaspoon oil. Add pasta, bring back up to a full, roiling boil, put a lid on the pasta, turn off the heat. Let sit without removing the lid for twenty minutes. Drain and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large heavy pan. Add onion, garlic, carrots, and celery. Sauté until onion is translucent.
Add potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, pepper, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender. Add green beans, white beans, and pasta. If soup is too thick for your taste, add more water. Stir thoroughly. Salt to taste.
In a blender or food processor, process basil, 1 whole clove of garlic, and one or two cups of soup from the pot. Blend until smooth. Return this mixture to the soup, mix well, and serve hot. Top each serving with a little Parmesan.
This soup is a wonderful, hearty, low-fat meal when accompanied by hot cornbread. For large groups of people, it is easily doubled. You will need two large pots if you double the recipe.
DARLENE'S PAT-A-CRUST PIE CRUST
In an 8 or 9 inch pie plate, stir together 2 cups pre-sifted flour, 2 teaspoons sugar, and ½ teaspoon salt. In a small bowl, whip together 2/3 cup oil and 3 tablespoons milk. Pour over flour mixture. Mix until dampened.
For a single crust:
Press dough against bottom and sides of pie plate. Crimp edge. Prick with a fork. (If baked empty for a cream pie, it is especially important to prick the bottom and sides.) Bake at 350 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes, or as desired for brownness. Don't overbake. Fill with desired filling for a delicious single crust pie.
For a double crust:
Reserve 1/3 of the dough. Press remaining dough against bottom and sides of pie plate. Crimp edges. Prick bottom and sides with a fork. Add your filling. Crumble the reserved dough and sprinkle over top. Bake at 350 degrees to desired doneness.
Note: This pie crust is easier to press into the pie plate if 1/3 is not reserved for a top crust. You can double the recipe, if you wish, reserving half for a top crust, which you can roll out and cut into strips to form a lattice crust on top. If your family enjoys potpies and you seldom make them because making pie crust is too time consuming, this recipe can come to your rescue. Play around with it and serve up some fabulous pies to your family, as a main dish or as a dessert. If you use heart-friendly oil, it will also be much better for your family than conventional, shortening based pie crusts.
Get creative, have fun and enjoy!
BEN LONGTREE'S YELLOW SUMMER SQUASH
If the members of your family like yellow summer squash, or even if they don't, you will probably need as much yellow squash as they can eat. Ben's rule of thumb is to try it out on them first, being prepared not to have enough to go around. If it's a hit, you can make a lot more the next time. This is a fabulous side dish. Even people who don't usually care for summer squash seem to like it. Just be cautious to use no more olive oil than you absolutely need. I apologize for not getting this recipe to you earlier. Now most people's gardens have been put to bed for the winter. But at least you'll have it for next year.
Yellow summer squash, sliced into rounds, about 1/4th inch thick.
A cereal bowl of nonfat milk
A plate of white flour
Green peppers, diced
Olive oil, as needed.
Seasonings-garlic, salt, pepper-and, if you like a slight tang, lemon pepper.
Dip the rounds of squash in milk, roll in flour, and fry to a crisp golden brown on both sides in a large skillet with only as much olive oil as you absolutely need, seasoning to taste as you go. Remove the browned squash to a plate and brown more rounds until you have fried all the squash. Then layer the rounds into the skillet, adding sprinkles of onion and green pepper between each layer. When all the rounds and diced vegetables are in the skillet, cover with a lid and leave to simmer on a very low heat, barely high enough to keep the squash piping hot. Prepare your meal. Serve the squash as a fabulous vegetable side dish.
If you like fried green tomatoes, you'll LOVE the addition of lemon pepper. Sprinkle each layer of squash and vegetables with just enough lemon pepper to give it a tang. Fabulous!
Tuna Cakes with Cucumber-Dill Sauce
Yield: 4 servings
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 6-ounce cans white chunk tuna, canned in water, thoroughly drained
3/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
¼ to ½ teaspoon dried dill
1 cup whole wheat sourdough bread, torn into small chunks or chopped in the
2 tablespoons fat-free egg substitute or 1 egg white, beaten
2 tablespoons nonfat mayonnaise
Nonstick cooking spray
¼ cup nonfat mayonnaise
¼ cup nonfat sour cream
1 teaspoon dried dill
½ cup finely chopped cucumber.
Make your sauce first by blending all the sauce ingredients in a soup bowl
until thoroughly mixed. Let stand.
Then put the vegetables in a large nonstick skillet and sauté in water, about ¼ cup, until they are tender. Remove from heat and stir in all the other patty ingredients, putting in the egg substitute and mayonnaise last. Mix thoroughly. Divide evenly into four balls and shape into round patties.
Coat your skillet generously with nonstick spray, olive oil or butter flavored is recommended. Cook the patties until they are golden brown on the underside, then spray the un-browned side with cooking spray before you turn. Brown the other side. Serve hot with the cucumber sauce.
If your family loves fish cakes, make a double batch. These are very good and easy to make. Enjoy!
Hank Coulter's Fried Chicken
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
½ cup flour
One Tablespoon cooking oil
Non-fat cooking spray
Salt, pepper, and granulated garlic, to taste
Spray a large skillet with non-fat cooking spray. Add oil. While dusting each piece of chicken with flour, heat the skillet on a medium setting, then tip to spread the oil over the bottom. Add the pieces of chicken, fry until golden brown on both sides. Lower heat, cover the skillet, and cook the chicken until deliciously tender, turning occasionally.
1 pound cooked macaroni
1 medium onion, chopped
4 carrots, shredded
1 cucumber, sliced very thin
Several radishes, sliced very thin
1 bell pepper, sliced thin
Dressing for Salad
1 can Eagle Brand Condensed Milk
1/2 cup Vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste
3 cups Hellman's Real Mayonnaise
Mix in large bowl and let sit in refrigerator overnight. Makes a lot.
Ladonia, Texas USA
Light and Yummy Summer Pasta
1 box of tri-colored pasta (spinach, tomato, regular pasta)
1 large bottle KEN'S AGED ITALIAN dressing
1 cucumber, peeled and cut in small chunks
2 or 3 carrots, shredded (use fresh, they are softer)
1 jar mushrooms, drained (optional)
Handful of low-fat shredded cheese. (I use Sargento Reduced Fat Mexican)
Cook pasta until done, rinse and let cool. Then add cubed cucumber, shredded carrots, mushrooms, and shredded cheese. Mix. Then add about half the bottle of KEN's dressing. Add enough for your taste, and until coated. You can add practically any veggie you want. I add black olives for a friend and leave out the carrot. Here near Denver, it soaks up the dressing a lot so after being in the fridge for an hour or so, I have to add more dressing. This is a hit with my vegetarian friends at pot lucks. I like it cold. My husband however likes it at room temperature. It would last up to a week in the fridge...but it never does. It gets eaten too quickly.
* I also sometimes serve this with lettuce bed
Englewood, Colorado, USA
Making a green smoothie is pretty simple, the idea being to get your minimum daily requirement of fresh fruit and vegetables in the drink. I start with a flavored fat-free yogurt in the base of my blender. (You'll need a good blender to make a smoothie. Mine is a three-speed Kitchen Aid from Costco, and it does a fabulous job!) Then I add three vegetables. A serving of leafy green vegetables equals two cups. A solid vegetable serving, such as carrots or cucumbers equals one cup. A fruit serving equals one cup—or you can simply guess, using one medium banana, one peach, etc.
My favorite combination:
1 container flavored, fat-free yogurt
1 cup baby spinach and 1 cup fresh kale, which equals one vegetable serving
1 cup sliced carrot
1 cup sliced cucumber
Blend before adding fruit.
1 medium banana
1 ripe peach with pit removed
1 cup of another fruit, such as melon, mango, papaya, or pineapple
At least a cup of ice.
Blend until smooth. This yields around forty ounces of smoothie. I drink some before lunch and the remainder in the afternoon.
I read about one lady who has lost 150 pounds drinking green smoothies. They claim that getting all our nutrients, i.e., our raw and fresh fruits and vegetables, minimizes our craving for bad foods. It's pretty much true! I seldom yearn for anything because my body is happy. Green smoothies also beef up your immune system. Cold and flu season are coming. Start drinking green smoothies now! And try to get your kids into the act. Kate, my house manager, has her boys drinking them. I think they use only one vegetable with the fruit, but she is still delighted because one son isn't much of a fruit eater, and she worries that he needs to consume more. To her surprise, he loves tropical fruits like papaya and mango. Because those fruits are often seasonal here on the mainland, I researched how to freeze them. Did you know you can even freeze watermelon? Just cube it or make melon balls, freeze on a cookie sheet, and store in a freezer bag. You can have watermelon, mango, papaya, pears, and peaches all year round. Pears should be sprinkled with Fruit Fresh, a citric acid. As a safety measure, I sprinkle most of my fruit with Fruit Fresh before I freeze it. Freezing fruit does not minimize its nutritional value as canning fruit does. Green smoothies are fabulous for your skin, hair, and body.
You can get creative with your green smoothies. Instead of spinach and kale, you can use lettuce. Some people love to use broccoli or cauliflower. You can toss in some avocado so the smoothie will keep you full longer, or some tahini, a sesame seed butter used to make hummus, or some ground flax seed. Use your favorite fruits as well and have a variety! I often toss an orange into my smoothie. I've used watermelon, cantaloupe, nectarines, peaches, pears, mangos, papayas, pineapple, and bananas. If your smoothie isn't quite sweet enough to suit you, add a little honey or your sweetener of choice.
I've found that it's easier to drink my smoothie with a straw.
Iced Green Tea
My house manager, Kate, was telling me how healthful green tea is, so I did some online research. It's true. Green tea is very good for us. People in Japan and China who drink at least five cups of quality green tea a day are twenty-five percent less likely to develop heart trouble. It's full of antioxidants. It helps people with MS and nerve disorders. Green tea also has fabulous fat-burning properties, which may account for my thirteen pounds of effortless weight loss.
I buy a quality green tea from Costco, a Matcha blend. 100 silk tea bags costs around twelve dollars, and after some research, I'm convinced this is a very good green tea. Tea of a comparable quality can cost a small fortune, so why pay more? Costco has a website, so perhaps you can order their green tea on line. It comes in a rectangular green box with congee on the outside.
I fill a half-gallon pitcher with very hot water from the tap. I add eight tea bags and the juice of two limes because the citrus juice helps our bodies absorb the antioxidants. I use two artificial sweetener packets, which gives my tea a mild sweetness. I let the tea steep in the refrigerator. If I want some before it's cold, I put ice in my glass.
It's important to steep the tea in hot water. The caffeine in the tea bonds with another ingredient in green tea, making the caffeine non-active. As a result, you can drink a lot of green tea without getting jittery. In fact, green tea is a relaxant, a very soothing drink. I fill my water bottle with green tea and keep it on my nightstand while I sleep. By morning, my bottle is empty, and I sleep like a baby.