Eating Healthy Isn’t All THAT Bad!

My husband has some dietary concerns so I’ve spent my almost 34 years with him evolving our meal menus to keep him in good health. In the course of my research and new recipes, we have learned to enjoy a lot of vegetables, etc., we never thought we’d ever find in our kitchen.

When I was growing up, frozen vegetable started appearing in the markets. If you are of an age to have tasted the first attempts a frozen peas, you will understand why a lot of us grew up hating anything with the word ‘vegetable’ in it!

Fortunately, I had somewhat discerning children who usually ate their vegetables without TOO much complaint especially if said meal was followed by cake or ice cream. These days, it is a rush to serving yourself vegetables as my children will take the majority of them. It only took years of me experimenting and finding ways to make the dreaded vegetable portion of dinner tasty.

These days, everyone’s favorite cooking method for vegetables is cutting squash, cabbage, broccoli, etc., into chunks, tossing them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and any other herbs and spices that sound good to you. (Want a really good source of great herbs and spices? https://www.thespicehouse.com/). You lay the prepared vegetables out on a parchment paper line baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until there is a slight browning and they are JUST tender. You can have grated Parmesan on the table for a tasty addition.

I never ate Kale until about five years ago. Now it goes into salads, soups, stews, and often gets roasted for a fun, vegetable side dish. Easy, too! Just tear the leaves in large pieces from the woody stem and soak in a bowl of water with a fourth cup of vinegar for about five or ten minutes, rinse, and pat dry. You can do this ahead and roll the rinsed Kale in paper towel, cover in saran wrap, and refrigerate until needed. In a large bowl, toss the leaves with enough olive oil to give it a LIGHT shine. You don’t want to drown it. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, etc. So many choices to be had from the spice shelf! Arrange the leaves on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until the leaves are crisp to the touch.

Meatless Friday Favorite

Meatless Friday Favorite!

1 cup chopped onions
3 tablespoons butter
1 ½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons flour
Pepper and Paprika
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 cup shredded Swiss Cheese
5 cups thinly sliced potato

Saute onions in butter 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in flour and seasoning. Gradually add milk, stirring until sauce thickens. Add cheese and parsley. Mix well. Spray casserole with vegetable spray or butter well. Layer ½ of the potatoes, cover with ½ cheese sauce, repeat. If you like, you can sprinkle buttered Panko crumbs over the top.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Uncover & bake for 15-30 minutes more or until potatoes are tender.

Catfish Creole From My Friend, Ellen!

Summer will eventually simmer down and, hopefully, there will be some cold, rainy days that require a warm meal. This recipe is easy, different, and tasty. Also, a good one to earmark for Lent which always shows up way too soon!

Catfish Creole

Ingredients for Sauce:
½ c. butter
1½ c. chopped onions
1 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped bell pepper
¼ c. diced garlic
2-3 whole bay leaves
1 16-ounce can tomato sauce
1 28-ounce can peeled & diced tomatoes
½ c. water
½ c. green onions
1 tbs. sugar
1-2 tbs. dry thyme
1-2 tbs. dry basil
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Other ingredients:
1 pound catfish (or red fish) fillets, any white fish will work wonderfully.
6 cups cooked white rice

In a 2 quart heavy sauce pan (a cured heavy black iron pot is traditionally used if you have one), melt butter over medium-low fire. Saute onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic until vegetables are wilted, stirring occasionally for about 15-20 minutes. Add bay leaves, tomatoes, sauce, water, and green onions. Bring mixture to a low boil, reduce to simmer, and cook an additional 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add spices and fillets. (Salt may be reserved until the fish is cooked.) Cook until fish breaks apart easily, about 10-15 minutes. Serve over steaming white rice.

Meaty Chef’s Salad

Summertime salads are great but, sometimes, you want a little more protein in a salad that your spouse declares to be dinner because it is too hot outside for meat and potatoes! This one seems to fit the bill and has enough protein and greens to satisfy. AND, if that isn’t sufficient, consider it a prelude to a really big ice cream sundae because it is too hot outside for any more vegetables right now!

Meaty Chef’s Salad
6 c. torn lettuce
1 c. shredded carrot
1 c. diced celery
1 c. cooked ham OR 4 oz.deli ham, cut thick, in strips
1 c. cooked chicken cut thick, in strips
2 tomatoes, diced
3 T. sliced green onions, greens also
2 c. shredded sharp American cheese
2/3 c. milk
1 small can chopped green chilies, drained
3 T. sliced, pitted ripe olives
2 c. corn chips
Cut ham and chicken into julienne strips, then measure. In a large salad bowl, combine lettuce, carrot and celery. Arrange ham, chicken, tomatoes and green onion on top. Just before serving, combine cheese and milk in saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat until cheese melts and is smooth.
Stir chilies and olives into cheese; pour over salad, toss lightly. Serve at once. Pass corn chips to sprinkle on top. Serves 6. Cheese sauce can be made ahead of time and served cold. Increase milk to 1 c. chill till serving time.

Chinese Noodles . . . A Gluten-Free Possibility?

The best part of a Chinese meal has always been the crunchy noodles for munching or dipping in the hot mustard or spicy tomato sauce. Have been on a gluten-free menu for almost five years now, that hasn’t been happening. I realized that Google can find just about anything in the world so ran this request through the search and about two links down . . . SUCCESS! The recipe was simple, the preparation very easy, and I now have a surprise for my hardworking husband when he gets home from work this evening.

OH? Uh, what? You said that YOU wanted the recipe?

http://www.food.com/recipe/gluten-free-crunchy-chinese-noodles-158973

Enjoy!

Secret Agent in the Kitchen

When my firstborn was getting to the age where he could try different foods, he instinctively knew the difference between broccoli and a crispy, deep-friend pork rind . . . he chose the pork rind! From that moment on, I became a secret agent in the kitchen for getting healthy food into my children without letting on that even one vitamin gave it’s life for the meal at hand.

Macaroni and cheese was pretty popular for Fridays as the children would eat it and the budget could afford it. However, the vegetable escorting the mac & cheese to the table was often ignored. Steamed cauliflower to the rescue! No, it wasn’t in plain sight otherwise I wouldn’t have a story to share here. Nope, I steamed it until tender, pureed it, and then mixed it in with the cheese sauce. A two-fold benefit as it reduced the amount (and expense!) of the cheese and added some nutrients and fiber to the dish. Cauliflower also goes nicely undercover mixed into mashed potatoes, too.

Finely-grated and steamed carrots found a home in my meatloaf. The children loved the brown, crusty exterior of the meatloaf and the juicy interior. This manner of vegetable subterfuge went on for a long time until my older son found a suspicious bit of bright orange in his serving and immediately set off the sibling alarm that Mom was trying to poison them with carrots! To this day, however, they never found out that I was browning finely-diced carrots and onions and mixing them into what I called hamburger pizza sauce topping for pizza dinners.

The older they got, the sneakier I had to be. The smoothie fad came to the rescue. They loved a thick, icy smoothie and with the bonus of a straw, they felt I was earning a good mother badge. We used lots of different fruits and, still unbeknownst to them to this day, a few vegetables fell into the mix. Their peach and citrus often included carrot! When I made a very berry strawberry smoothie, a tomato or two often found it’s way into the drink. They loved the idea of a smoothie that was bright green and never quite realized that kale or spinach had come into play.

Perhaps, the infusion of secret vegetables into their growing systems, gave them a grownup disposition towards vegetables. These days, we practically have to fight for a serving of vegetables for ourselves at the dinner table. Eggplant has even become a popular ingredient to the dinner meal. And if you really want to witness a confrontation, watch them descend upon a platter of oven-roasted Kale.

Fast Rice Fritata

I like to cook but I also like the evening where the cooking doesn’t keep me in the kitchen for TOO many hours! This was always a favorite growing up and it is a quick standby for those busy days. I like to cook extra rice just to have some on hand for something like this.

Fast Rice Fritata
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter
8 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon chili flakes
2 cups cooked rice
4-ounce can chopped green chilies, undrained
1 tomato, chopped
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese

In a large frying pan, brown the onions in the butter until tender.

Beat eggs with milk and seasonings. Stir in Rice, chilies and tomato. Pour into the frying pan with the onions. Turn the heat down low, cover and cook until top is almost set, about 12-15 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand about ten minutes before serving.