Friday, July 30, 2010

110. Plum Pie, Crumb Top

The first thing I ever knew about plums was that they had something to do with a little boy sitting in a corner who, for some reason, stuck his thumb in a pie and pulled out one. It was a fun rhyme to say...but, did not make much sense.When I finally knew what a plum was, that rhyme still did not make much sense...I only ate plums fresh or dried, never in a pie and never in a corner.

The quality of plums are quite unlike the predictable banana; plums are either deliciously juicy and sweet or the opposite, sour and rather dry. As I have learned how to navigate the produce section of the grocery stores, I am more adept at picking the sweet, juicy ones.

On one plum-selecting day, I went a little overboard and bought too many. As they sat and softened, I decided it was time to search my cookbooks to see what could be done with all those plums. I found a recipe for plum pie and immediately thought of that kid in the corner. It was time to take the plunge...a pie would be baked and it would contain plums.

I do remember that I was not anticipating much in the way of flavor in the finished product as I had not even tasted the filling as it cooked. What a surprise; the plum pie was delicious and a wonderful way to use plums when they are in season and plentiful. It is a summertime family favorite.


Crumb Top Plum Pie




7 plums, pitted and quartered
1/3 C water

¾ - 1 C sugar
3 T cornstarch
 ¼ tsp salt

Topping:

1/3 C flour
1/3 C sugar
 ½ tsp cinnamon
3 T margarine

1 – 9 inch unbaked pie shell (pie crust recipe and secrets post #16)
Do not use graham cracker or cookie crusts.


Combine plums and water; bring to a boil. Cover and cook 3-4 min. Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir into plums. Cook slowly, stirring constantly until thick and clear…about 5 min. Remove pot from heat and cool. Turn into pastry shell. Combine topping ingredients with fork. Mix until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over pie.



Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30-35 min. Cool. Serve.

(Place a pan or piece of foil on rack under pan to catch any juice that bubbles over. Use crust shield if necessary).

Thursday, July 29, 2010

109. Bacon and Cheese French Bread, Side Dish

In my early-mom years, I was always on the alert for ways to save money, especially at the grocery store; I certainly clipped my share of coupons in the process. I now know that if I had had the use of the internet, my level of savings would have been increased significantly because of access to more coupons and also advice from other coupon-clipping mavens.

If couponing was one way to save money, so was the art of finding or inventing economical recipes, provident vegetable gardening and strategic meal planning. With four children and a limited budget, I was very happy when the meals I planned used home-grown produce and a thrifty recipe of my own design. An even better feeling was watching my family enjoy and even devour the food in front of them.

Bread used to be fairly economical and was a great meal stretcher, but today good bakery bread can cost upwards of four or five dollars a loaf. The only break in the price of better bread seems to be if and when it is available as day-old. Growing up, we would only use older bread for French toast or for feeding the ducks.

How times have changed; with today's high prices, I look for recipes that can make use of  yesterday's bread. The recipe below calls for a loaf of French bread; day-old is fine to use. This flavorful bread is wonderful as a side dish with spaghetti or soup, alongside a salad or could even make a light meal all by itself.

The spread for this bread can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for a week. Bread slices can be prepared for an individual or a crowd. (Prepared bread may also be baked in a grill on heavy duty foil; use same timing and watch for burning).

Bacon and Cheese French Bread




3 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 C sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 tsp dry mustard
2 T bacon bits
1 1/2 tsp milk
1-2 green onions, chopped
1 loaf French bread

Set oven on broil with a rack set at 5-6 inches from top. Combine softened cream cheese, cheddar cheese and mustard in a small bowl. Heat milk in a glass measuring cup for 15 seconds. Pour warm milk into cheese mixture, and beat until fluffy. Add bacon and chopped green onion and mix well. Cut bread into 1-inch slices. Divide cheese mixture among slices  and spread evenly and place them on a baking sheet. Broil for 2 1/2 minutes. Watch carefully!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

108. Open-faced Vegetable Sandwich, Fast Food

If the first kind of fast food was something running away as a hunter chased it, sandwiches had to be next kind. The ease with which one can be consumed without causing a mess is part of the delight of eating a sandwich...unless it is a BLT which always seems to fall apart with the first bite.

My dad made wonderful sandwiches on weekends, but during the week, my mother made them for us. She rarely actually ate sandwiches, as a rule, and when she made them for us, they were uninspired.

By 5th or 6th grade, I was the one in charge of making our school lunches. These lunches were bagged up the night before and refrigerated. My mother dictated what went into the bags and the lunch usually consisting of a sandwich with one piece of lunchmeat between two slices of buttered bread, a piece of fruit and two cookies. A paper napkin was wrapped around the cookies. We bought our milk from the school. I did not think too much about variety or presentation until the day my older brother came home and mentioned that one of his friend's sandwiches were always cut on the diagonal...well...after that...so were mine!

That casual remark also caused me to pay more attention to what went into the lunches...thereafter, I added cut up celery or carrots sticks...put more meat into the sandwiches and sometimes cheese; I asked my mother to buy better bread or rolls and more tasty cookies. Sometimes I added candy or chips...things that were not in our home very often. Olives and pickles were included as were pepperocini and other tasty things I found in the refrigerator.

I must admit, what we wrapped our food in had a lot to do with what we could actually take to school. At first, we had waxed paper, then plastic wrap. I seem to remember that plastic bags finally turned up  and were sold on a roll. It was one wonderful day when Baggies came into being...although today, environmentalists find fault with their existence.

My children were served truly artful lunches. Until they were in high school, they were sent off to school with special reusable bags and boxes which included cold packs; plastic containers held salads, tasty leftovers, or multi-layered sandwiches. I made homemade rolls or breads; fruit and vegetables were sometimes sent with dip or sauces and I was happy to include chips and crackers and juice boxes. Since I was also a compulsive baker, the lunches usually included homemade cookies, cake or pie. Even so, I know my kids eventually got sick of bagged food.

To this day, sandwiches remind me of all of those bygone school days. I don't mind an occasional sandwich, but it has to be layered, seasoned and totally great! If it is open-faced, it makes it even better, because it is definitely something that would probably not have been put in a paper bag.

I love the fresh vegetable taste and the mild cheese flavor of today's recipe with the brown mustard only. My husband loved the addition of mayonnaise. This meal was so easy to make, it was almost laughable and yet, it tasted like something totally complicated.

Diane's Open-Faced Vegetable Sandwich



Ingredient amounts are for 1 serving, (1 split English muffin), and are to be divided between both halves.

1 English muffin, split 

1-2 tsp brown mustard
1-2 tsp Hellmann's mayonnaise (optional)
1 T Broccoli, chopped
1 T Cauliflower, chopped
1/4 Banana pepper, chopped
1/2 T sweet onion, chopped
2 black olives, sliced
Monterey and jack cheese blend, shredded

Spread mustard on cut side of muffins, add mayo (optional). Top each with selection of vegetables and pile on as much cheese as will sit on top. Broil for 2 1/2 minutes, 4-6 inches from the heat (watch carefully), or until the cheese melts and browns slightly. Serve immediately.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

107. Grilled Corn on the Cob, Summer Meal

Roadside vegetable stands remind me of childhood summers in the Midwest. Those rural stands fairly bulged with fresh sweet corn with a season that began in July and stretched on until late August.
Sweet corn sales wound down just about the time the back-to-school shopping frenzy
started. As we ate our way through each tender ear of corn, thoughts about how to get the most out of the last days of summer preoccupied the minds most children. It was a short but wonderful season.

Having been raised in Iowa, which was and is definitely corn-country, my mother was quite particular about buying sweet corn. She would pick up an ear almost as if it was the enemy, quickly yank back the green husk layers and expose the top inch or so of the ear. If the kernels were not the right size or were shriveled, the ear would be thrown back on the pile with disdain. Mother would even take her fingernail and give one or two kernels the puncture test...if the kernel burst open, she knew the corn was fresh...but, if it simply oozed corn juice, we all knew the ear was old and it was promptly rejected.

Each and every ear was checked, and only those that passed inspection, were placed in our bag. Woe to the farmer who tried to pass off corn that was past-picking on my mother. If the seller was honest, though, we usually came away with two dozen ears. The cost of corn back then was a dollar for a dozen. If the vendor was in a generous mood, an extra ear was placed in the bag for free...Mother called that a 'baker's dozen'.

I can still remember that smell of the sweet corn as we gripped the full bags between out feet on the car floor when we drove away. The minute we got home, the corn was husked...usually, outdoors on sheets of spread-apart newspaper...this kept the mess and loose strands of silk from getting all over the house. If an ear of corn had a worm or two hanging on for dear life...they were quickly dispatched and the husking continued until all of the golden corn ears lay side by side.

Mother would heat up a huge pot of salted water to the boiling point and then, in went the ears. I don't remember how long she cooked them, but the kernels were usually wonderfully crisp when they came out. An occasional sneaky but unlucky green worm would float to the top of the water. We just spooned it out and tossed it aside.

For a time, plastic corn holders were things that we gamely tried to use by stabbing them into the ends of each ear. The holders, while cute, were more work than they were worth.

Regardless of whatever entrée was on our plates, fresh sweet corn took center stage and was usually consumed first. Mother mentioned from time to time that when she was growing up, her family would sometimes dine on a meal made up entirely of golden, summer corn picked from their own garden.

Today's recipe for grilled corn is a great way to enjoy a summer meal...no corn holders necessary.


Grilled Corn on the  Cob





4 ears fresh corn, unhusked
3 T butter or margarine, softened
1/4 tsp salt
1/8-1/4 tsp *Weber seasoning

*(the following website shows 15 wonderful seasonings, any of which may be used: http://www.spiceadvice.com/weber/seasonings.php



Mix butter and seasonings in a small bowl and set aside

Pull outer husks from top to base of each ear, leaving the husks attached to ear. Strip away the silk and discard. Keep a small strip of husk from each ear for tying.


Place corn in a larg bowl. Cover with cold water and soak for 30 minutes. Weight down the ears, if necessary, to keep them under the water.  Prepare grill. Remove corn from water and pat the kernels dry. Bring husks back up and secure at top with a reserved strip of husk. Tie in a knot at the top of each ear. 


Place corn on grill, cover - medium, hot. Grill 20-25 minutes or until corn is very hot...turn every 10 minutes with tongs. Some of the husk will scorch.  Remove ears from grill and carefully peel off and discard husks; brush hot ears with seasoned butter and serve immediately.
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Monday, July 26, 2010

106. Grilled Chicken, Spanish-Style (G)

Every season has its signature recipes.  Comfort food is perfect for the winter and fall, but in the spring and summer I tend to want less food and I want it faster. Bring out the grill!

Gas grills have made it easier to be have a successful grilled meal, but the chef still has to have the know-how; a good recipe doesn't hurt, either. Many people take the time to learn how to season grilled food perfectly, time with exactness and baste with a flair. Others use their grill without a clue. It is quite horrible to see fresh vegetables or an expensive piece of meat or fish become charred and coal-like in the hands of the unprepared.

Use of marinades is a grill staple. (The packaged marinade products, however, are often quite salty; use them with caution). This Spanish-style marinade goes well with grilled chicken. It is light and not overly seasoned -  perfect for a spring or summer, chicken dinner.

Chicken may be cooked from the frozen or thawed.
 

Spanish-Style Grilled Chicken



3 T soy sauce (use gluten-free if desired)
2 T water
1 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed
½ tsp dried oregano, crumbled
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ to ½ tsp ground red pepper (optional)

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves which are about the same thickness throughout

Frozen breasts: Blend all ingredients except chicken and pour over chicken in a large plastic food storage bag. Press air out of bag and close top securely. Place the bag in the refrigerator for several hours. The breasts will still be partially frozen even five or six hours later. Put the breasts on the pre-heated (med/hot), greased, grill for 10 minutes. Close lid.  Turn chicken over and grill for 10 minutes, lid closed. Check for doneness; slice the meat on the diagonal. Tender and juicy, wonderfully-flavored, grilled perfection should be the result.



Thawed Chicken Breasts: Blend all ingredients except chicken and pour over chicken in a large plastic food storage bag. Press air out of bag and close top securely. Refrigerate 1 hour, turning bag over occasionally. Remove chicken from marinade and place on preheated, greased grill (med/hot). Cook chicken on each side until no longer pink in center. Serve whole or cut on the diagonal into slices.

Side dishes: Sliced tomatoes with California dressing (post #79 ), grilled sweet corn (post #107  )
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Friday, July 23, 2010

105. Homemade Taco Seasoning, (G,V)

The flavor of freshly ground pepper is wonderful and fragrant, but I also love a delightlful, pre-ground pepper blend called 21 Seasoning Salute. It is sold under the Trader Joe's label. As its name suggests, this blend has 21 ingredients - many of which I would not ordinarily think to use.

I also love some of the blended herbs and spices sold in divided containers with individual lids that open to expose the selected section. These can be found in most grocery stores. Some of the spices are to be mixed with olive oil and vinegar to create a dipping sauce. However, I find these the seasonings are especially wonderful sprinkled on meat, poultry or fish as well as on salads and egg dishes.

 Want to use up some of your pre-ground herbs? Here is a great recipe - taco seasoning.This seasoning is wonderful and the flavor much better than anything sold in those little 'bags'.


Homemade Taco Seasoning



2 T chili powder
5 tsp paprika
4 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 T onion powder
1-2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine the ingredients above in a lidded container. Put on the lid and shake to combine well. Store in a cool dry place for up to 6 months.

To use: Add 2/3 -3/4 C water to 1 lb ground beef which has been browned and drained of fat. Add 8 tsp of the seasoning mix. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered until the mixture is a good consistency for filling tacos. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

104. Easy Peach Pie, Tender and Sweet

You pick out a ripe, golden piece of fruit and bite into the fuzzy skin which exposes sweet, tender flesh; juice runs down your arm, but you don't care because you are enjoying, what else, a perfect peach.

The scene described is all about summer and some of its warm weather bounty. I especially remember peaches from my childhood because, at my mother's insistence, my dad bought a fruit tree for our yard. My mother said it was a peach-pear tree...I had never heard of that kind of tree before or since and I now know it was a white-peach tree sold under a false name to entice the novice backyard-orchardist.

After two or three years, that mis-named fruit tree finally produced a few large and wonderful peaches. The flesh was white while the skin looked like a normal peach; the flavor was amazing and we were thrilled.

The next summer, the tree produced a bumper crop! The peaches were smaller than the year before, but just as wonderful tasting. We could only eat so many peaches, however, no matter how great they were.

Mother had me load up bags of them in our wagon and made me to walk around the neighborhood to see if anyone wanted those peaches. Unfortunately, people seemed put off  by the name, peach-pear and I had a hard time even giving them away;  many peaches were, sadly, left to rot. My dad cut that tree down in the fall. He said Mother wanted to plant something else in its place.

While I would love to have a tree like the short-lived peach tree from my childhood, I do get to enjoy the golden fruit brought up by friends from the bootheel section of Missouri. They are sweet and luscious.


I have canned and frozen bushels of summer peaches. Canning them is a  messy, labor intensive job, but the result is worth the time and effort. Home-canned peaches taste much better than commercial-grade.



If you have a good vacuum sealer like a Food Saver brand, freezing peaches can be a time and labor saver; the frozen fruit will taste fresh even a year later.

Peach season would not be complete without at least one fresh peach pie. The pie in today's recipe was made with last year's vacuum-sealed, frozen peaches. I also added a few fresh blueberries because I had them on hand.



The pie was amazing. I served it ala mode and everyone thought it was the best peach pie they had ever tasted...maybe they were just humoring me, but I, too, thought the pie was wonderful.



Easy Peach Pie





2 pounds of fresh peaches (or frozen )
lemon juice
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
3 T cornstarch, diluted with 1/4 cup water
1/8 tsp salt

1/2 C fresh blueberries (optional)
3 T breadcrumbs

Place peaches in a colander and dip into boiling water for 1 minute. This will loosen the skins. When the peaches are cool enough to handle, remove the skins, slice the peach flesh about 1/2 inch thick and toss gently with lemon juice.

In a pot, mix sugar, water and diluted cornstarch. Cook on med. heat until the mixture becomes thick and clear. (Stir constantly). Cook for several minutes after it comes to a boiling point. Add salt and mix well. Pour hot glaze over sliced peaches; mix gently and allow to become cold. Pour the peach mixture into an *unbaked pie crust that has been sprinkled with bread crumbs.

(I did not defrost the frozen peaches...I just put them in a bowl and poured the hot glaze over them and stirred until the peaches separated).

*Post #16 contains the recipe for perfect pie crust and pie crust secrets.

(2-crust pie directions: Place pie in a  400 degree oven for 25 minutes; at this point place crust shield or foil strips over crust edges to prevent over-browning. Continue to bake 15-20 more minutes. Remove pie from oven and remove crust shield; carefully place pie on a rack to cool).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

103. Oatmeal Maple Granola, Hippie Food

The word granola was brought to everyone's attention in the late 60s - the hippy era. It is funny when you think about it; nutrition-conscious thoughts in the midst of the drug culture and its loose lifestyles! Thank goodness most of us were more mainstream and on the look out for healthy food choices.  As people experimented, granola evolved into bars and cereal, toppings for ice cream and yogurt and trail mixes.

 Most of us were led to believe granola was not only healthful, but also a lo-calorie way to eat. Unfortunately, a lot of commercial granolas were and are high in sugar and fat. Many do not have any real food value - they are fat and carbs. One small bar can have over 130 calories!

Homemade granola is not difficult to make and the ingredients can be selected for one's individual taste. This recipe is not high in sugar and fast; feel free to substitute seeds, nuts or dried fruit of your choice in this easy recipe.

Side note: Granola was around a long time before those tie-dyed, bell-bottomed, peace-lovers latched onto it and the true story can be found at the following website: http://www.foodreference.com/html/artgranola.html

Crunchy Oatmeal Pecan Granola




2 1/4 C oatmeal, (not instant)
3/4 C coarsely chopped pecans
1/4 C unsalted sunflower seeds
1/2 C firmly packed brown sugar
1 T dried orange peel or finely grated zest of 1 orange
1/4 C canola oil
2 T maple syrup
1/2 C dried, sweetened cranberries ( I used Trader Joe's Orange Flavored Cranberries)

Preheat oven 325 degrees. Place first 5 ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Place oil, syrup and 1/4 C water in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Pour oil mixture over the oat mixture and stir.
Spread the granola on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until it begins to brown, about 25 minutes. Stir well with a spatula. Continue to bake until golder, dry and fragrant or about 20-25 minutes longer. Stir at least once during the second baking process. Watch closely during the last minutes so it does not burn.

Cool granoal on a rack. After it is cooled, add cranberries. Transfer to an airtight container. It can be stored at room temperature for up to a month or frozen for up to 3 months. (Recipe may be doubled).

Note: The cranberries, orange peel, seeds and nuts are all nutrition-worthy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Recipe Index 1-100

Daily recipes are pulled from the following 5 groups. Each group is only used once/week.


(meat/fish) (pasta/veg/fruit) (bread/pastry) (soup/salad/dessert) (eggs/easy)



1. Italian Beef
2. Chicken Artichoke Festiva
3. Tuna Potato Patties
4. Soup Au Pistou
5. Danish Potato Bread
6. Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner
7. White Chocolate Cookies
8. Banana Bread
9. Mussels
10. Fruit Slaw
11. Oven Barbecue Chicken
12. Carrots in Broth
13, Easy Pancake Syrup (2 recipes)
14. Chocolate-Pecan Crescent Puffs
15. Sweet Potato Pie
16. Pie Crust and Pie Crust Secrets
17. Fruit Dumplings
18. Hard Boiled Eggs and Easter Eggs, easy dye method, Cold Water
19. Bunnies on the Lawn
20. Crunchy Beef Turnovers
21. Italian Sausage with Tomato and herbs
22. Bacon Potato Patties
23. Butter Lamb
24. Easter Nest Coffee Cake
25. Lime Pineapple Salad
26. Zucchini Casserole (Italian style)
27. Shrimp Scampi
28. English Muffin Loaf
29. Broccoli Salad
30. Basmati Rice, how to cook perfect rice
31. Sloppy Joe
32. Back-Burner Beans
33. Chocolate Covered Strawberries
34. Pita Bread
35. Caramel Popcorn
36. Chicken Breast Strips
37. Pita Egg Sandwich
38. Spice and Sweet Potato Squares
39. Napa Cabbage Salad
40. Praline Cookie Bars
41. Spaghetti Pie and Spaghetti sauce
42. Sauteed-steamed Asparagus
43. Egg Drop Soup
44. Cocktail Sauce
45. Fruit Flower for Two
46. Golden Chicken
47. White bread, rolls, buns
48. Strawberry spinach salad
49. Fruit Crisp, microwavable
50. Hash browns
51. Chili Meat Cups
52. Green Onion Biscuits
53. Fruit Pizza
54. Potatoes in a Bag (Savory Microwaved)
55. Corn bread, microwaved
56. Ruben sandwich
56-B. Russian Dressing
57. Cream of Asparagus Soup
58. Whipped Sweet Potatoes
59. Easy Pizza
60. Chocolate-Striped Orange Slices
61. Mile-High Lasagna Pie
62. Artichokes
63. Chocolate Dessert Waffle
64. Ruby Whipped Cream Cheese Pie
65. Eggs Benedictive
66. Fruit Smoothie
67. California Rolls, Sushi Made Simple also Seaweed Free Rolls
68. Breakfast Sandwich
69. Frosty Pineapple Juice Pie, No-Bake
70. Huevos Rancheros
71. Delicious Turkey Burgers
72. Shrimp-Stuffed Green Peppers
73. (3) Baking Powder Biscuit Recipes
74. Deluxe White Chocolate Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies
75. Deviled Eggs
76. Chicken and Dumplings
77. Stuffed Mushrooms
78. Tortilla Fruit Shells
79. California French Dressing
80. Peanutty Ice cream Pie
81. Ham Roll With Pea and Olive Sauce
82. Lemon Mousse Cake
83. Blueberry Fruit Sauce
84. Danish Puff
85. Thousand Island Dressing
86. Red Beans and Rice
87. Creamed Asparagus on Toast
88. Cornbread Loaf with Buttermilk
89. Rum-Pineapple Fuff 'n Crunch
90. Bulls-Eye Eggs
91. Southwestern Chicken Salad
91-A Southwestern Salad Dressing
92. Zucchini Bread
93. Mock Pimentos
94. Potato Salad with Radish
95. Barbecued Pulled Chicken
96. Salmon with Cilantro and Lime
97. Hot German Potato Salad, microwaved
98. Zucchini Squares
99. Mini Pineapple Upside-down Cakes
100. Cinnamon Sugar Pecans



















































80. California French Dressing, American Red Dressing

102. Bread and Butter Pickles, No Canning (G, V)

Years ago, a friend gave me a jar of homemade bread and butter pickles. Even better, she gave me the recipe. My friend's pickles were tasty, crisp and wonderful. The recipe was easy to follow and it could be made in small batches - no canning required.

Hint: cucumbers used for pickling are a different variety than those sold for salads. Pickling cucumbers are generally smaller in size than slicing cucumbers and have a thicker, slightly bumpy skin which never has wax applied as a preservative.

Pickling cucumbers may be purchased in-season, or -even more fun - make pickles from one's own cucumber plants! Years ago, I grew an heirloom lemon cucumber, (pictured below) - they were round and yellowish, hence the name. They were great in salads and sandwiches and also made terrific bread and butter pickles.



My first lemon-cucumber-summer resulted in such a bumper-crop of fruit - so many cukes, I could have opened a farm stand. Every day, I tried to think of new ways to use the bounty:

I shared the pickles and fresh cukes with friends and family; one neighbor told me I caused a big problem in his home -  he and his wife fought over who got to eat those pickles - what a nice compliment!

(The lemon cucumber seeds are available from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds in MO.
http://www.rareseeds.com/store/vegetables/cucumbers/)

No matter which type of pickling cucumber used, the recipe from Elaine B., is the best one I have ever tasted.


Easy Bread and Butter Pickles




8 C sliced pickling cucumbers
2 C onion, sliced
2 C white vinegar
2 C sugar
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp celery seed
1 stick cinnamon, broken

Sprinkle cucumber slices with salt and let stand for one hour. Wash slices off well with cold water and drain. Combine vinegar, sugar and herbs in large kettle. Add 'cukes' and onions. Boil gently 3-5 minutes until slices are glossy and skin has lost its bright green color. Pack into hot, sterile jars. Refrigerate.  They store well this way for months.

Note: You may cut this recipe down or increase it. (These  pickles may be processed in a hot water bath for 5 minutes, but they will not be crisp).

If you look closely, you will see a jar of pickles with a blue ribbon attached...they are to the right of the potatoes...this photo also represents all of my entries in a 2008 Dent County, MO Fair...it was a blue-ribbon summer!

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Monday, July 19, 2010

101. Tuna Salad, So Simple

Every time one of my kids calls to say that they ordered a tuna salad sandwich and wished they hadn't, my culinary ego receives a boost...such a little thing to make a mother happy.

I, on the other hand, will never order tuna salad at a restaurant and probably will not taste anyone else's version either; too many people use light tuna...which is glorified cat food, if you ask me. Then, they compoud the damage by mixing in a certain sweet, horrid salad dressing that is not a true mayonnaise.

My recipe is simple...yet well defined by the ingredients. My mother taught me how to make tuna salad; I assume her mother taught her. The only difference in Mother's recipe and mine is that she used bottled lemon juice. Growing up in Emmetsburg, IA, in the 1930s, she probably did not have access to fresh lemons year round and decided it was an acceptable substitute. If a recipe calls for lemon juice, fresh is the way to go. The bottled kind is horrible in comparison.

Tuna salad is wonderful as a sandwich filling or mixed with cooked macaroni and shredded, sharp cheddar cheese. I also love tuna salad companioned with a buttery baked potato...the flavor combination is delicious and comforting. Tuna salad also makes a great snack with crackers or served on slices of crisp cucumber. It is an all around versatile recipe.



Tuna Salad






1 can white tuna (not light), drained and flaked apart
1 rib of celery, diced
2 dollops Hellman’s Real Mayonnaise ( use  heaping tableware spoons)  
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 T chopped green pepper (optional)
Pepper (to taste)


Mix ingredients well and adjust according to your taste preference. 

(Not adding enough lemon will make the salad mixture too bland. I also season the salad with Trader Joe's 51 Seasoning Salute...a pepper blend)



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Friday, July 16, 2010

100. Glazed Cinnamon Pecans, Bark

Cinnamon is a fascinating spice. I did not know it came from the bark of an evergreen tree until I bought two pieces of it in St. Lucia. I still have those 30-year old pieces.




Although, most often used as a spice in desserts or breads, cinnamon does have health benefits. Ten health benefits are listed on the following website: http://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/10-health-benefits-of-cinnamon.html

Cinnamon is a wonderfully fragrant spice and it can even be used as a room air freshener -  just sprinkle ground cinnamon into a small, dry pan and heat on low. The sweet aroma will fill the air.

The aroma of cinnamon is comforting, and as well all know, those glazed nuts often sold at theaters and shopping malls are very hard to resist. My husband, Tad, cannot pass them by!

Today's recipe will provide you with a large supply of tasty, crisp glazed pecans - as good as any sold at the mall and a lot less expensive, too!


Glazed Cinnamon Pecans




3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 large egg white
4 1/2 tsp cold water
3 1/2 C pecan halves

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Coat a baking sheet lightly with a non-stick spray. Put baking sheet in the oven while preparing pecans.
In a small bowl, mix spices and sugar. In a large bowl, beat egg white and water until foamy. Add pecans and stir to coat well. Add sugar/spice mixture and stir to coat evenly.

Remove baking pan from oven and spoon coated nuts evenly over bottom of pan. Bake nuts for 30 minutes. Stir with fork, but keep nuts evenly spread in pan. Bake for 30 minutes more until golden.

Remove pan from oven and allow nuts to cool for 5 minutes. Break apart any nuts that are stuck together. Store in an airtight container. Nuts may be stored for up to a month at room temperature.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

99. Tiny Pineapple Upside-down Cakes, Inverted

Warm pineapple upside-down cake was a favorite dessert in our home. Not only were the flavors delicate and comforting, but it was fun to make a cake which did not reveal its true self until it was inverted. One could be extra creative and place the pineapple in a beautiful design and also enhance the effect further with the addition of maraschino cherries. Most of the time, however, we simply drained canned pineapple rings and placed them around the cake pan in a predictable fashion; cherry halves were inverted and put in the center of each circular slice.

As a child, I always loved the buttery, brown sugar mixture which surrounded the pineapple and felt especially lucky if I was the one whose piece of cake contained a cherry half. I wish my mother had figured out how to make the individual upside down cakes featured in this recipe. There would have been no sad faces as each piece has its own cherry half!

Using an inexpensive Jiffy mix not only guarantees that this dessert will fit into the slimmest of budgets, but it also means that it will be easy to make.

(To read the interesting history of pineapple upside-down cake, go to the following link: )http://www.kitchenproject.com/history/PineappleUpsideDownCake/index.htm


Tiny Pineapple Upside-down Cakes





1 small can crushed pineapple
3 T Smart Balance margarine
½ C brown Sugar
4 maraschino Cherries, halved and drained

1 Jiffy – yellow cake mix (or 1 layer cake mix)

Drain pineapple – reserve liquid

Melt margarine; add 1 T of reserved pineapple liquid to margarine. Divide margarine mixture into * (8) custard cups. Add 1 T brown sugar to each cup. Add crushed pineapple – divide evenly. Center inverted cherry half in each cup.

*(I have successfully made this cake in a muffin pan; they are wider and less high).

Add enough water to reserved pineapple juice to equal liquid called for on Jiffy box directions. Prepare cake mix by hand. Stir well. Divide batter among cups.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 min. or until lightly browned and top springs back when pressed. Let stand 5 minutes; gently loosen sides of each cake with a knife, if necessary, before inverting. Serves 8

 (Scoop any pineapple that remains in the cups back onto each little cake top)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

98. Zucchini Squares, Starts With a Z

One of the things I love about zuccinini is that it can be added to hundreds of recipes and not overpower the other flavors while lending its interesting green color and nutrients. I also love the fact that the vegetable's name starts with a Z...harldy any words in our daily vocabulary begin with that letter; it certainly is fun to say...zucchini...instead of just plain, old squash.

Zucchini, most likely, has its ancestry in the Americas. However, many recipes using zucchini were developed in Italy, long  after its introduction in the Americas. Those recipes helped it become the popular American vegetable it is today. I guess the saying, what goes around, comes around, applies here, too.

In most markets, a zucchini is treated as a vegetable, however, botanically the zucchini is an immature fruit from the female flower. The female flower is is the golden blossom on the end of each beginning zucchini. The male flower grows on a stem of the zucchini plant on a long stalk, and is slightly smaller than the female flower. Both flowers are edible.

As mentioned in another post, zucchini is one of the easiest garden vegetables to grow. One way to not be overwhelmed with production is to harvest the flowers...think of them as an expensive deilicacy; the flowers do not store well and must be used immediately.

While easy to grow, all zucchini, require bees for pollination. If you live in an area where bees have declined,  you might experience a problem where the fruit begins to grow, then dries or rots because not enough pollen grains have been transferred to the female flower. Hand pollination is one way to correct this problem.

Zucchini is used in today's post dessert. The recipe makes delightful squares that are full of flavor and texture. You will notice that the recipe calls for freshly grated the nutmeg. While pre-ground nutmeg may be substituted, it will not be the same. (I have included a picture of whole, nutmeg nuts and my little hand grater). I would also recommend grinding the almonds used in this recipe in a blender to give them an even consistency. The almond flavoring in the frosting is a welcome change from the often overused, vanilla.


Zucchini Coconut-Almond Squares







¾ C butter or margarine                                            1 C firmly packed brown sugar
¼ C granulated sugar                                                2 eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla                                                          1 ¾ C flour
2 tsp baking powder                                                 1 C shredded coconut
2 C shredded unpared, small zucchini                      1 C finely chopped almonds

Glazing:

1 ½ C powdered sugar                                             2 T milk
¼ C margarine, softened                                          1/2 tsp almond extract
 ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a med. Bowl, beat margarine and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla; stir in flour and baking powder. Stir in zucchini, coconut and almonds.

Grease and flour a 15x10 inch baking pan. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake 35 minutes until the top is golden and springs back when pressed lightly. Set pan on wire rack to cool.



Combine glazing ingredients in order given and mix until smooth. Spread over cooled cake. Makes about 35, 2-inch squares

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

97. Hot German Potato Salad, Microwave (G)

For all of my growing-up years, I only knew of one kind of potato salad. It was the traditional kind my mother made with mayonnaise. It tasted wonderful and familiar and I did not feel the need to investigate further. Eventually, however, I did enjoy other potato salad recipes.

 One that always intrigued me was hot, German potato salad. I love the tang of the vinegar and the smoky bacon flavor. The fact that it is served while the potatoes are still warm is another plus because it eliminates the wait-time. Traditional potato salad seems to be made for summer and picnics, while the German kind could help warm up a cold night whether it is spring, fall or winter. German potato salad is a comfort food to love and, it is gluten-free!

The interesting history of German potato salad can be found at the following site: http://www.kitchenproject.com/german/recipes/GermanPotatoSalad/history.htm

The site also has a link to the Potato Museum in Munich. Be sure to select the language of choice at the top of the bar for the museum. Potato museums also exist in the US and information can be found on them by searching the internet.

While there are hundreds of recipes for German Potato Salad, the one I have chosen to post is made entirely in the microwave and has been enjoyed by my family for years. By using the microwave for all of the cooking, this potato salad just might be perfect for a summer day after all.


Hot German Potato Salad
Microwaved



3 Medium red potatoes
5 slices bacon, diced
½ C chopped onion
½ C chopped celery
1/3 C cider vinegar
2 T water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp caraway seeds
¼ tsp celery seeds
¼ tsp dried parsley flakes
Dash hot sauce

Rinse potatoes and pat dry. Wrap in paper towels and put in cloth potato sack, (post #54) and microwave individually for 5 min. or until tender when pressed. Cool potatoes, peel and slice. (Peeling is optional). Set aside.

Place bacon in a casserole. Microwave on HIGH for 5 m in. until crisp. Remove bacon using a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.

 Add onion and celery to bacon drippings. Cover casserole with heavy-duty plastic wrap, and vent. Microwave HIGH for 3-4 minutes. Stir. Place remaining ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 2 min. or until mixture boils. (Don't forget the dash of hot sauce).

Add potatoes, bacon and vinegar mixture to onion mixture; toss lightly.

Microwave HIGH for 2 min. or until thoroughly heated. Serve immediately. 4 servings.

Monday, July 12, 2010

96. Salmon with Cilantro and Lime, Lovely Fish

Most of my life, I have had a less-than-great relationship with salmon. Growing up, I only remember it coming out of a can, like tuna. Mother used it to make salmon-potato patties, similar to post #3 which uses flaked tuna. While I did not mind the salmon, it was not doing back-flips over the flavor, either.

I love the look of fresh salmon...it is such huge fish and the thick, meaty portions are a welcome relief from other small, bony fish. The taste, however, always reminded me of those salmon patties...I don't know why I thought the baked salmon would taste different or better...but, it still had that 'canned salmon' flavor.

My husband, on the other hand, loves salmon. In deference to this desire, I have fixed salmon and made myself eat it. It wasn't until I discovered today's recipe that I was finally able to enjoy this lovely fish. The salmon may be pan fried or grilled and I double the sauce recipe if it is to serve 4.


Salmon with Cilantro-lime Sauce






¾ C Hellmann’s Mayonnaise
1/2 C chopped fresh cilantro or ¼ C chopped fresh dill
2 T lime juice

1 med tomato, seeded and diced
4 Salmon steaks, ¾ ‘’ thick

*Cajun blackened seasoning (optional)

Non-stick spray

In a medium bowl combine first 3 ingredients. Transfer ½ C to a small bowl and stir in tomato; set aside. Brush fish steaks with remaining mayo mixture. Spray large skillet with cooking spray. Heat over med-high heat. Add fish. Cook, turning once, 8 minutes or until fish is firm but moist. Serve with cilantro-lime sauce. Makes 4 servings.

*(I have made this dish with the addition of a blakened seasoning sprinkled on the first side of the fish after it was braised...the taste was wonderful).

Grilling directions: Prepare sauce and fish as directed. Grill fish, turning once about 8 min. or until firm but moist.

Friday, July 9, 2010

95. Barbecued Pulled-Chicken, Dark Meat

My mother used to make the most wonderful barbecued ribs I have ever tasted. The flavor was not like anything I have had before or since. I did not realize how special it was until I was grown up and made  my own version of ribs. What a disappointment! Unfortunately, even with Mother's recipe, I have not been able to duplicate that memorable flavor.

While I have almost given up trying to make that special barbecue sauce for ribs, I have created a  barbecued pulled-chicken recipe that is delicious. The reason I even made up this recipe was so I could use up the dark meat which neither my husband nor I care for.

With hot summer weather dulling my desire to cook, I recently broke down and bought a broasted chicken at the grocery store. We gobbled up the white meat...the dark meat was pulled off of the bones and turned into pulled chicken and the bones and skin were simmered in water to make a savory broth.

I always enjoy making the most of any food and that chicken gave its all!

Diane's Pulled Barbecued Chicken



This recipe may be increased.

1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 T Smart Balance margarine

Meat from 2 chicken thighs and 2 drumsticks
1 1/2 C water
4 T ketchup
1-2 T Smoky barbecue sauce (I used Trader Joe's All Natural)
2 T brown sugar
1 T Worcestershire


In a medium-sized pot, melt margarine. Add chopped onion and cook on med heat, stirring occasionally until onion is slightly transparent. Add dark meat and stir with onion for 1-2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, stir well. Turn heat down to med-low and partly cover pot with lid. Simmer meat and sauce for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove lid; with two forks, pull and shred meat. Continue to simmer, partly covered, until meat and sauce are savory and slightly thickened.

Serve meat on sliced buns. (A wonderful bakery-style bun makes this sandwich even better).

Thursday, July 8, 2010

94. Potato Salad with Radish, Eye-catching Color.

 Little radish bunches make me smile. Not only are they beautiful, but their cute shape makes them a decorative addition to many recipes.

To tell the truth, I have not always been a fan of radishes. As a child, I did not like them and felt cheated - their red color certainly gave no indication the taste would be so intense and sharp and totally un-candy-like. 

The  Greek name for a radish means "quickly appearing" and refers to their rapid germination. Many varieties germinate in 3–7 days and can be ready to harvest in three to four weeks.
This fast-growth cycle makes them a popular choice for children's gardens. So, even if they are not so keen to eat radishes, children will love to grow them.

 Health facts: Radishes are rich in some nutrients like ascorbic and folic acids as well as potassium; one cup of sliced radishes contains a mere 20 calories. That pungent, peppery flavor in the crisp flesh, by the way, is caused by some of the same ingredients found in mustard, horseradish, and wasabi.

Most people slice radishes and add them to salads, but they can be served many more ways.
1.Try adding sliced radishes to a stir-fry meal
2. Sprinkle chopped radish into tuna, egg or chicken salads.
3. New England clam chowder can look more festive with a garnish of thinly sliced radishes.
4.You might try a tasty radish side dish by stirring quartered radishes in butter until crisp-tender for about two minutes; sprinkle with cracked black pepper before serving.
These are just a few ways to make the radish become a more popular vegetable in your life.

Today's potato salad recipe has been given a crunchy zip with the addition of sliced radishes. The red color makes the salad look delicious and festive. I love the crunch and the flavor - it is a welcome change from the more traditional celery and bell pepper additions.


Potato Salad with Radish




1 C Hellmann's Mayonnaise
2 T Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp dried dill weed (or 2 T chopped fresh dill)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper or pepper blend
1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, cooked and quartered (skins on)
1 C sliced radishes
1/2 C green onions, chopped

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in potatoes, radish slices and onions. Mix well, but gently. Cover and chill. Garnish with paprika if desired.  8 servings.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

93. Mock-Pimentos, Use Lavishly (G) (V)

Pimentos are widely known for their appearance in the middle of green olives. As a child, the stuffed green and red condiment was on my list of preferred foods.  I also had no problem with pimentos in other foods like tuna and chicken casseroles, vegetable and rice dishes and omelets, to name a few. Actually, I always loved the happy color pimentos imparted to the plate of food.

The only thing I have not liked about pimentos is the price.  True pimentos are made from a  a heart-shaped, cherry pepper. The flesh of the true pimento is sweet, succulent and more aromatic than that of the red bell pepper. On the other hand, a reasonable facsimile can be obtained from a red, bell pepper - it is easy to make mock pimentos and very inexpensive.

I make  mock-pimentos when red peppers are on sale and usually have small bags of  red strips waiting in my freezer. I can be lavish with my use of them and do not have to worry about the cost.



Mock Pimentos






Step 1 - Select one or more large, red peppers. Remove the stem end and clean out the seeds and any white fiber from the inside.
 
Step 2 - Heat a large pot of water to a simmer and immerse the cleaned peppers.






Step 3 - Simmer until the skin starts to crack and pulls away from the sides of the pepper. Remove peppers from water, drain and cool.

Step 4 - When peppers are cool enough to handle, carefully peel all the skin away from the  outside of each pepper. It may be necessary to use a sharp knife to help with this process.





Step 5 - Cut the skinless flesh into desired-sized strips. Use immediately or freeze in a single layer; seal the frozen strips for later use.












Tuesday, July 6, 2010

92. Zucchini Bread, The Best

The super-producing ability of the zucchini plant has helped it become a familiar ingredient in mainstream food. A current website actually features over 200 recipes that cooks all over the country have devised to use up that prolific garden vegetable. I have mentioned before in post #26, (Italian Zucchini Casserole), that my former garden produced so many zucchini that I felt like I was raising big and little baseball bats.

With all of that squash piling up, I was lucky to have a  neighbor come to my rescue...she gave me her recipe for zucchini bread. I have tasted others and knew, with the first bite, that my friend's recipe was superior. It has a tender, moist consistency. The cinnamon is proportioned just right and I love the addition of the raisins and nuts, although they are optional. While this bread bakes, the fragrance beckons all who are nearby to come in and have a taste.

(You do not have to have a garden to enjoy this bread...grocery store or farmers' market zucchini will do just fine).

 This special zucchini bread recipe makes 2 regular loaves or *6 miniature  loaves.


Dawn's Zucchini Bread



3 Eggs
2 C sugar
1 C oil
2 C grated, unpeeled raw zucchini
1 T vanilla extract
3 C flour
1 tsp each salt and soda
¼ tsp baking powder
1-4 tsp cinnamon
1 C nuts (optional)
1 C raisins (optional)

Beat eggs until foamy. Add sugar, oil, zucchini and vanilla. Mix lightly but well. Combine dry ingredients. Add to mixture. Stir until well blended.

Spray Pam lightly on the bottom of the pans. Pour into (2) 9x5 prepared pans. Sprinkle top of loaves with sugar, this will give the bread its sweet sugar crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. (Tent with a piece of foil if browing too quickly). Check with a toothpick for doneness. It should come away clean from testing in the center, top.

Let bread cool in pans for 15 min. before removing to rack. Loosen bread sides and lift bottom gently so it does not stick to the pan.

*Small loaves: use small pans...divide batter between 6 pans evenly. Bake as directed for 50 minutes or until done. Bread is done when a toothpick comes away cleanly from testing in the center, top.


Monday, July 5, 2010

91. Southwestern Chicken Salad - It's a Meal (G)

The most familiar salads of my childhood were the iceberg-lettuce-tossed kind.  My mother included a variety of vegetables like celery, radishes, green pepper, mushrooms, carrot curls, tomato wedges and green onion. Sometimes green or black olives would show up in the mix and, infrequently, a  hardboiled egg. Sometimes, Mother would try to sneak escarole lettuce into the tossed mixture - I tried it but never liked its bitterness.

Although iceburg is still the most popular lettuce, other wonderful lettuce varieties with more food value are available in groceries and farmer's markets. A salad no longer has to be the plain side-dish from the past - it can be an colorful and healthy mealtime side dish or, like today's recipe, the meal itself.

My Southwestern Chicken Salad includes a variety of flavors and textures. The tangy dressing is one  I made up when I could not find one I liked. The dressing ingredients are enough for 4 servings exactly. All quantities are 'to taste' or appetite.

Note: I often cook a few extra chicken breasts to save for another day. I used leftover chicken for this recipe.



Southwestern Chicken Salad





Salad:

Lettuce, shredded or torn
Black olives, sliced
Frozen corn, thawed
Canned black beans, rinsed and drained
2 chicken breasts, cooked, cubed
Cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)
Cilantro, chopped

Place enough torn lettuce on large individual plates to make a nice serving. Sprinkle the lettuce with black beans as desired. Add a little water to whatever corn is to be used for 30 sec. and then rinse with cold water and drain. Next, drain a can of pitted black olives and slice olives. Add as many olive slices to salad as desired. Cut cooked/refrigerated, (or hot grilled), chicken breast meat into cubes and add 1/2 breast per salad. Divide salad dressing evenly among the 4 salads, drizzling to cover lettuce and chicken. Sprinkle salads with shredded cheddar cheese and chopped cilantro to taste.


Diane's Southwestern Dressing

(Dressing quantity is for 4 salads; may be divided or doubled)

1/2 C Hellmann's mayonnaise
1/4 C Salsa
Juice from one lemon (lime)*
Cumin, to taste
Chili powder, to taste

Mix mayonnaise and salsa. Taste and adjust quantities if desired. Add lemon juice, mix well. Season with cumin and chili powder. Do not add too much...taste to decide the intensity of the flavors you like for your salad and add more if needed. *(Lime option: use two limes if they are small).

Friday, July 2, 2010

90. Bulls-Eye Egg, Fun Food

Kids love fun food, and as it turns out, sometimes I do too. Growing up, I only remember one recipe that was changed from its original appearance to specifically delight us children...pancakes. I was allowed to make them in the shape of our initials or other letters to spell out words when placed side by side on a plate. Since the first side down was the best side...I found out quickly how hard it was to pour the batter to make thin, backwards representation of most letters...

My own children had a few more kid-friendly creations besides pancake letters...ants on a log, frozen bananas on a stick, cookies with faces, and other things. The internet, however, is bulging with ideas for kid food...many of which are a little over the top and include excessive steps to create food choices that supposedly will get children to eat. We, on the other hand, ate because we had played hard outside and were hungry!

One little kid-friendly dish that I have to admit I still make for our big-kid breakfasts, on occasion, is Bull's Eye Eggs. Something about it is wonderfully tasty.

Hint: Use a good quality bread for a better tasting meal.


Bull's Eye Eggs



1 large egg
1 slice of good bread
Margarine or butter
McCormick Salad Supreme Seasoning (optional)
or Salt and Pepper

Spray hot griddle or frying pan with Pam. Butter one side of a slice of bread. Cut the center out of the bread with a biscuit cutter. Lay both pieces of bread, butter side down, on the hot griddle. Immediately, break egg into the center of the cutout. Sprinkle with seasoning.




When partially cooked, carefully flip the egg and bread slice over. Check the little cutout circle of bread for browning...set it aside when golden. Cook turned egg for 30-60 seconds or until the white is cooked.

Turn egg and bread over as it is placed on a plate. Serve with a side of fruit, bacon, sausage, etc. Recipe may be increased: 1 egg per slice of bread

Thursday, July 1, 2010

89. Rum-Pineapple Fluff 'n Crunch for Two, Fresh and Sweet


The word pineapple automatically makes me think of Hawaii and, for years, I erroneously thought most pineapple came from there; in fact, Southeast Asia dominates world production and Costa Rica leads in fresh pineapple exportation.

Thanks to the internet, I also found out that everything I had been told about selecting a good pineapple was wrong, wrong wrong. I thought that ripeness could be detected by pulling the center leaf out easily...and that leaving the pineapple on the countertop for a few days added to the ripening process. When I looked at a bin of pineapples, I thought that a less green shell was a way to detect a riper fruit...and I always passed up buying the smaller pineapples...

 According to the Dole website you should know the following when picking out a fresh pineapple:

1. Select a pineapple that is plump and fresh. The larger the pineapple the greater the proportion of edible fruit...but, a larger pineapple won't necessarily be better.

2. The color of the outer shell is not necessarily a sign of maturity or sweetness. In fact, a pineapple can be ripe when the shell is green.

3. Ease in pulling leaves from the crown is NOT a sign of ripeness.

 4. A pineapple gets it sweetness from the plant base. Once it is cut, it will not become any sweeter nor any more ripe.

5. They sooner pineapples are eaten after delivery, the better.

6. If you cannot eat it immediately, store the pineapple in the refrigerator...

Another story that surfaced during my childhood involved the Dole Pineapple plant and their drinking fountains...I emailed Dole about this story and here is their reply:

Aloha Diane and thank you for your recent inquiry.


The infamous pineapple juice fountain actually existed in the 1950’s and all the way through the 80’s. The fountain was shut down in the early 90’s due to some health issues. Unfortunately, there came a time when we just couldn’t control the amount of pineapple bugs and gnats that it attracted on a daily basis.

It was definitely something to have experienced and we truly miss being able to serve our visitors from the big pineapple faucets!


Mahalo again for your interest in Dole Plantation.
Kara Gorgonio
Operations Supervisor

If you like pineapple, you probably love the new super-sweet varieties found in most grocery stores today...a variety that was not available several years ago. This new strain, under names like Super Gold and Sweet Golden,  is sweeter and less tart than regular pineapples and has 3 times more of vitamin C.

Fresh pineapple is still a treat for my family and when pared and cut, it somehow finds its way into breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. Today's recipe is easy, quick and a great way to enjoy sweet pineapple goodness. You will love the unique blend of flavors.


Diane's Rum-Pineapple Fluff 'n Crunch for Two






8 slices fresh pineapple
Whipped topping, lite or regular
2 T water
1 tsp rum flavoring

Cut fresh pineapple into slices. Put 8 slices into a flat storage container or bag and pour water and rum flavoring over slices; toss gently. Make sure all slices have contact with flavored water. Cover and refrigerate until chlled.
Nut crunch:
2 tsp Smart Balance
1 T sugar
1/4 rounded cup chopped pecans
Cinnamon

In a skillet, melt margarine over med-lo heat; add sugar and nuts. Cook for 3 1/2 minutes, stirring constantly. Lightly sprinkle nut mixture with cinnamon. Mix and stir for 1/2 minute more. Remove to a piece of lightly greased aluminum foil until cool.

To serve, fan out four pineapple slices on a dessert plate. Put a dollop of whipped topping on the smaller fan end and sprinkle with coated nuts. Serve.