Monday, October 6, 2014

Diane's Black-olive and Sausage Pasta, (G)

Every day I feel like I am surrounded by the intrusion of unwanted chemicals. They are in the air, the water supply and they certainly permeate most of today's foods.

Those who care about their health try to stay one step ahead of this enslaught by being informed and by making adjustments. Hand wipes and purification liquids are found in most grocery stores and  large bins of organic produce, free-range eggs and meat sans preservatives or other additives are more than a flavor-of-the day business - they are a big business.

I no longer eat processed meats unless they are nitrate, nitrite-free, hormone free and perservative free. Trader Joe's carries a variety of this chemical-free sausage and I love the Sweet Italian Style Chicken Sausage. It is delicious!

*(The recipe, Diane's Black-olive and Sausage Pasta (G), features gluten-free pasta).

Diane's Black-olive and Sausage Pasta (G) 
Gluten-free pasta spirals (wheat pasta may be substituted)
Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage links cut into 1-inch pieces (traditional Italian sausage may be subst.)
Sweet onion slices
Green pepper slices
Whole black olives
Tomato sauce
Parmesan cheese
Olive oil
Italian seasoning
Cook desired amount of pasta according to package directions. Drain, put hot pasta spirals in a bowl. Add enough olive oil to coat the pasta evenly, but lightly. Set aside and keep warm.
Slice sausage into pieces. Heat 1-2 Tbsp olive oil in a pan, med-high heat. Add sliced sausage and saute until meat is evenly browned. Cut sweet onion into wedges and slice the wedges thinly. Slice pepper and combine with the onion. Add this mixture to the browned sausage. Saute until onion is slightly transluscent. Do NOT burn. Turn heat down and add enough tomato sauce to evenly coat the meat mixture - this is a hint of flavor not a tomato sauce bath! Season to taste and add whole black olives. Toss gently to heat through.
Divide pasta onto each serving plate and spoon a portion of sausage mixture on top of sprirals. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Serve.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Diane's Ambrosia

The word ambrosia makes me think of Greek Mythology, ancient lands and an ancient people. History says this 'food of the gods' was looked upon with unfounded awe because the substances were supposed to confer immortality to those who ate or drank them.

With no thoughts toward immortality, I do love the dish I refer to as "Diane's Ambrosia". The flavors are wonderful and the dish looks beautiful. It would please even the most picky eater and it is very easy to make - only four ingredients and NO cooking!

Diane's Ambrosia

1 fresh, golden pineapple
1- 15 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 or more, shredded coconut
3-4 T honey powder*

Trim the pineapple rind from the fruit to expose the fruit. Cut away the flesh from the dense inner core. Discard rind and core. Cut pineapple into small chunks and put into a large bowl.
Add drained mandarin oranges and shredded coconut and blend gently. Sprinkle in the honey powder and mix gently. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

*Honey powder may be purchased from various on-line sources or specialty stores. My source is, Auguson Farms in UT -

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

One Muffin - Gluten-Free (G) (V)

There is much satisfaction when a recipe turns out and even more so when a great recipe is improved!

My recipe for the following muffin: , is a good product,  but with a little tinkering of ingredients, I have been able to create an even better GLUTEN-FREE muffin!

One Muffin has a delicate flavor and moist even texture. The muffin is made one-at-a-time and baked in the microwave. Mixing is done in the same cup used for the baking process.

In a real hurry? Assemble the dry ingredients ahead of time in a zip-lock bag. When you want a muffin, just add the rest of the ingredients, and, voila, a great breakfast or mid-day snack!

One Muffin - Gluten Free

1 large egg
3 T ground flaxseed (I prefer the golden seed)
1 T rice flour
1 T oil
1 tsp baking powder
1 T flavored balsamic vinegar
1 T Splenda (optional)
Optional ingredients:
1 T chopped pecans
1 T coconut
Fresh or dried berries to taste, (the pictured muffin had 3 fresh raspberries mixed into the batter)
Cinnamon - dash
Cream cheese (do not mix into the batter)
Break egg into a large cup (I use one meant for soup)
Add the ground flaxseed, rice flour, oil, baking powder, vinegar and other ingredients as desired.
(Flavored balsamic vinegars I have used are: white coconut, maple, espresso or black cherry).
Mix ingredients until evenly blended.
Place cup in microwave and cook on HIGH for one minute.
Remove cup from microwave and gently slide muffin onto a plate.
Slice the muffin evenly and place pats of cream cheese between layers. Add fruit on the side. Enjoy!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Lime-filled Chocolate Dessert Shells

Limes are beautiful inside and out - they remind me of summer sun, beaches in Florida and FOOD! I love lime juice on fish, in tomato juice and drizzled over certain Mexican dishes. I love the grated peel on salads, in special desserts and as an alternative to lemon in cookies.

I am happy to say - Duncan Hines sells a not-too-sweet canned, Key Lime Crème pie filling/topping.  I experimented with the crème filling and combined it with whipped topping. This combination was used to fill little dessert shells. What a happy way to end a meal!

Lime-filled Chocolate Dessert Shells

1 can Duncan Hines Key Lime Crème
1 small container Cool Whip
2-3 squares almond bark
1/2 C Wilton Candy melts (chocolate) or tempered chocolate
1 bag water balloons

Begin by blowing up desired qty. of water balloons - not too large. Blow up a few extra! Use a veg. spray to coat the bottom and an inch or so up the sides of each balloon. Set aside.

In a double boiler, carefully melt almond bark. DO NOT allow any water to touch the bark - it will seize up and be unusable. Set aside. In a second double boiler, melt the chocolate pieces. Be careful  not to burn them or splash with water. (The bark and melts may be melted in the microwave, very carefully - do not burn. Do this in 30 sec. increments at 50% power in a microwave-safe container). Stir.

You may combine the two colors to create a marbled effect, or you may keep them separate.

Line a large baking pan with wax paper or parchment. Lay down each balloon in warm chocolate and rock back and forth to create a petal effect part of the way up the sides of each balloon. Place coated balloon on lined pan. Continue. Place finished, coated balloons in refrigerator or freezer to harden coatings.

When the coating is hardened, bring pan to work area. Use a straight pin to puncture the balloons at the top and gently release the air. The balloon will pull away from the sides of the chocolate shell.
Put shells back into the refrigerator.

Mix the lime filling in 1/2 C batches with the same amount of whipped topping. Combine gently. Bring the shells back to the work area and carefully fill each one with lime mixture. Top with large chocolate chip or slice of lime. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Almond-Crusted Bass (G)

We are fortunate to have a neighbor who loves to fish. He presented us with fresh-caught bass. Even more wonderful, he filleted them for us.

I did not want anything to compete with the mild flavor of this fresh-water fish, and decided to coat the outside in almond meal. Sometimes the most simple methods are the best!

You might wonder what ingredients are in almond meal - I will tell you - finely ground almonds! If almond meal is not available in your area, buy whole almonds or almond pieces and put them in a food processor or Vita Mix and pulse until just finely ground, but not clumped together.

Almond meal will enhance the flavor of fish, pork, fruit or vegetables.

Almond-Crusted Bass
Bass Filets (or other fish of your choice)
Almond meal
Himalayan pink salt (or salt of your choice)
Griddle/grill for a outdoor grill
Vegetable spray
Rinse fish and blot lightly with a paper towel. Put almond meal in a plastic bag, (quantity will depend on the amount of fish, but 1-2 T per filet should be adequate). Shake bag gently to allow the almond meal to coat the outside of the fish. Remove coated fish pieces to a platter. Continue with remaining pieces of fish. Sprinkle coated fish with a pinch of pink salt.
Heat grill to med-hot. Place grill/griddle on surface and close the lid for 5 min. Lift lid, spray griddle surface. With tongs, gently lay fish filets on griddle. Close lid. Depending on the thickness of the fish pieces, cook for 4-5 minutes per side. Remove to a platter and serve.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Black and White Popcorn (G V)

While in college, I worked in a dormitory snack bar. Sometimes the place was so busy we student workers hardly had time to think.  Other times, however,  things were slow and we college students had too much time on our hands. This is when we would come up with creative food concoctions or experiments to fill the void.

 A great flavor combination I came up with was to drizzled fresh popcorn with hot fudge sauce. Wow, was it ever wonderful!

I still love the chocolate popcorn combination from those college days and have come up with a very easy way to satisfy my sweet tooth craving - Black and White Popcorn.

 Black and White Popcorn

1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips (divided)
2-3 squares almond bark (divided)
4 tsp shortening
6 C popped popcorn

Pop corn in a microwave and spread it evenly in two large baking pans - one layer each.
Melt 1/4 C chocolate chips with 1 tsp shortening over low heat. Combine. (do not burn chocolate).
Dip the tines of a fork into the chocolate mixture and drizzle evenly over popcorn.

Melt half the almond bark and 1 tsp shortening over low heat. Combine. (do not burn almond bark).
Dip the tines of a fork into the almond bark mixture and drizzle evenly over popcorn.

Allow chocolate and bark mixtures to harden. Gently toss coated popcorn to expose uncoated side.

Repeat melting procedure with the remaining  chocolate, bark and shortening and drizzle as above.
Allow chocolate and bark to harden.

Put coated popcorn in a container with an air-tight lid. Refrigerate. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Chicken Broth (G)

A good soup broth is an amazing ingredient. Today's canned broths vary in quality as do those made from scratch. I prefer to make my own broths as they will only contain the best ingredients.  I also like to make the most of the foods I purchase, and always make us of a chicken carcass, beef bones, left-over vegetables, or too many vegetables before they are 'past-usin'', as the saying goes.

It takes some knowledge of 'food-chemistry' to produce a great broth and most good cooks have either figured out the how-to or learned it from someone else.

Hints to get you started:

*Make your broth the same day you cook your chicken - then, you will have the broth on-hand to make a delicious soup at a moment's notice on the perfect 'soup' day.

*Always strip extra meat off of the chicken carcass prior to refrigeration. Otherwise, the bones will give the left-over meat an 'off' flavor.

*Too much liquid added to the vegetables or bones/meat will dilute the broth and reduce the flavor.

Chicken Broth


Chicken carcass or bones from breast, thigh, leg pieces. (Remove skin - discard)
                          (I only use free-range, hormone-free, antibiotic-free chicken meat)

Bay leaf

Cheesecloth, string for Bouquet Garni (optional)


Break up bones and put in a large pot. Add only enough liquid to barely cover the bones. Make the bouquet garni,  if desired, and place into the liquid.

BOUQUET GARNI - sounds fancy, but this is just a means to contain the herbs so they will not float in the liquid and be removed during the skimming process.

Put desired herbs in a little square of cheesecloth and tie up the ends with string to hold the herbs inside. Drop the bouquet into the liquid. Try to make the size of your bouquet fit the amount of liquid - 2 1/2 tsp. per four quarts of liquid.

Bring liquid up to a simmer. NO BOILING - high-heat will break down any fats. The dissolved fats will not float to the top of the broth when cooled. Not only will this make the broth less healthful, the fat particles will cause the broth to have an 'off' flavor.

Do not cover pot!

As the broth simmers, SKIM - skim off froth and other particles. Simmer bones and liquid for (3) hours.

Remove pot from heat. Strain liquid and discard bones and bouquet. Pour hot liquid into a glass container. Allow to cool. The fats will rise to the top and may be spooned out if broth is to be used immediately. Otherwise, refrigerate broth. The fat will harden and may be removed easily with a spoon or knife. Discard fat.

**Additional flavor hint: the carcass may be placed in a roasting pan, 425 degrees F, for 30 minutes. This will brown the carcass and create additional flavorful particles in the bottom of the roasting pan.
After the roasting process, place carcass in large pot. Add 1 C water to roasting pan and stir to loosen particles; add this liquid to soup pot. Continue as above.

Broth may be frozen in cubes or small containers as desired. Broth may also be refrigerated, then reheated every 5 days or so to a good simmer for 10 minutes, cooled and put back in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spelt-Flour Pineapple and Banana Crepes

For about thirty years I suffered with serious digestive issues and had, erroneously, put the blame on dairy products. Lactaid pills were purchased by the boxfuls, Imodium was always on hand and I had to know where the nearest rest room was at all times. In addition to the distress and stress of my 'condition', it was quite painful and, at times, limited my participation in family outings.

Fast forward to a day in December of 2011 when I read a disturbing article about today's wheat which actually contains an extra 14 chromosomes when compared to the wheat of my childhood! After I read all I could find about today's wheat, I decided to eliminate it from my diet for two weeks to see what would happen. This was no small thing! I am an expert baker and homemade breads, rolls, pastas, cakes and pies were often on my menu.

Almost immediately, my digestive issues and thirty years of suffering ceased and have not returned. I threw out my Lactaid pills and Imodium. I no longer even care where the nearest rest rooms are! I am not in pain nor have I had to miss out on any activities because of 'issues'.

Quite by accident, I discovered spelt flour - while it is not gluten-free, it is an old-grain product which has not been altered genetically. I tried it a few times and had no adverse reactions!

The crepe recipe I offer is not for those who have celiac's disease, but it might be for those who have had allergic reactions, intestinal issues, clouded thinking, increase in blood sugar and increases in appetite due to the ingestion of today's genetically-altered wheat products.

Spelt-Flour Pineapple and Banana Crepes
Filling (enough for six crepes)

1 banana, cut up
1 C fresh pineapple chunks
Grated orange rind
1 T butter
2 T brown sugar


1 C whole spelt flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (Himalayan - optional)
2 tsp sugar substitute
3 large eggs
1 C milk
1/2 C water
3 T coconut oil

Non-stick spray

Filling: in a small pan, melt butter over med-low heat. Add fruit and brown sugar. Mix gently. Heat fruit mixture together and keep warm.

Crepe: Combine all ingredients up to and  including coconut oil, in a blender or Vita Mix machine. Pulse to mix well. Allow to sit for ten minutes. Heat a medium pan or crepe pan on a temperature just above medium. Spray pan bottom with non-stick spray. Ladle out a scan 1/4 cup of batter into pan and tilt pan to cover the bottom to the pan evenly. Allow to cook until the top of the batter no longer appears runny.

Loosen the edges of crepe with a spatula and flip over gently. Cook for 10-15 seconds more.

Flip the finished crepe onto a dish by simply turning the pan upside down. Continue until all the batter has been used, stacking as you finish each crepe. Spray pan each time. Makes 16 crepes.

How to fill: Place a small amount of filling mixture down the center of a crepe and fold the sides toward the center and overlap slightly. Place attractively on a plate.

Optional: finish off with whipped topping and drizzled heated fudge sauce. Left-over crepes may be wrapped and refrigerated or frozen for later use.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Filet Mignon - perfectly EASY to prepare and how to not get ripped off! (G)

Filet Mignon - the ultimate piece of tender, juicy, flavorful beef! This is not always true, however, if you do not know how to purchase beef.

Only USDA Prime is qualified to be called the BEST! Many grocery stores misrepresent their meat with confusing labels. As stated in a previous post, filet mignon is cut from the tenderloin of beef. There are only two tenderloins per animal and is very expensive especially when trimmed properly.

Grocery stores may sell meat labeled: USDA chuck tenderloin - bacon wrapped - choice. These words would lead most consumers to think the meat will be high quality, tender and tasty. The opposite is true. Chuck is not tender. Choice is not the best and the bacon wrapping is just an unnecessary frill.

Another trick is to label the meat as a filet mignon, but if the price is in the $5 range for an 8oz. piece, you can bet it is not a true filet!

Also, please don't be fooled by the huge signs which say: Black Angus. They probably are black angus beef, but the meat is not different from any other quality steer. The difference in the taste of beef will come from how the animal was fed - grass or corn. A Black Angus label will cost the consumer more, but will not guarantee anything else!

Filet Mignon
Please don't ask for well-done beef - it will be tough and tasteless! The steaks I cook are pink inside (med-rare) and very flavorful. This tenderloin, Prime  USDA filet is a melt-in-your-mouth experience and worth the price.
USDA, Prime Filets - one per person
Pepper blend
Meat rub (prepare your own or purchase a rub) optional
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Preheat a cast iron pan over high heat.
Brush each side of the steak with oil and season each side with salt and a pepper blend. Apply one side of the beef with a rub if desired.
Cook the steak, rub side down until golden - depending on the thickness of the steak 2-4 min.
  Apply rub to second side, and braise for 1-2 minutes.
Put steaks on a baking sheet and cook in oven for 8-10 (less for thinner steaks), minutes. Remove and allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Beef - how it is graded. Filet Mignon - how to cut your own (G)

Meat markets are a mystery to most of us. We see words like choice, prime, select and probably think they will help us to make an educated meat purchase. Unfortunately, unless we are in-the-know, we don't know!

According to Prime Time Steak Houses, "...of all the beef produced in the US, less than 2% is certified as USDA Prime. Typically you will not find USDA Prime in the supermarkets since its limited supply is snapped up by fine meat buyers who sell it to upscale restaurants and wealthy consumers."

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)  grades beef we eat. Only inspected beef may carry the USDA stamp. The grading system measures the amount of marbling in the lean, ribeye portions and compares this with the age of the beef. The fat marbling determines tenderness, juiciness and flavor. The age of the beef determines the texture and flavor of the beef.  A younger beef will have finer texture and the meat will be more red. More marbling + younger beef = higher grade.
Only young, well-marbled beef will have the USDA Prime stamp. The package below was purchased at a Sam's Club. It contained a whole beef tenderloin and cost $125.00 in February 2014.

There are usually only three USDA grades of beef we would see in a supermarket, meat market or a restaurant. They are USDA Prime, Choice and Select.

Lower grades are "Cutter" and "Canner" which are the grades of beef typically found in hamburgers and processed foods. USDA Select is at the low end of the beef barrel. Be very careful: some major chain stores will try to make you believe that Select is tender and tasty - they will often market select with words like Manager's special or Special Select.

Another trick to fool customers is to use the words "prime" and "choice" without the USDA stamp or shield. And, to make matters worse, there are actually three grades of choice. So confusing!

At a recent culinary school seminar, the chef let us all in on another little secret: if a whole beef tenderloin is purchased in a vacuum wrap package, it may be held in the refrigerator for a few weeks and this will allow the natural enzymes to relax the meat fibers - even more tender meat!

There are only two whole tenderloin pieces per beef. No wonder it is so expensive! When purchased, whole, it will need to be trimmed substantially. Notice the photo below: the fat and silvery fibers will have to be removed.

  Use a very sharp knife to remove these undesirable parts and set aside. Also, trim off the large lobe of meat near the top of the tenderloin to leave a cylinder of meat which tapers at one end.

 Decide how thick you would like your filet mignon steaks to be and slice the cylinder of beef accordingly. I was able to create eleven filets from the tenderloin purchases.

 What to do with the meat/fat trimmings: I used a meat grinder and ground the trimmed meat. This gave me six nice-sized hamburgers.

*The lobe of meat trimmed from the cylinder was used to make Italian beef. This wonderful recipe will be featured at a later date as will the directions on how to cook the perfect Filet Mignon!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Diane's Butter Bean and Vegetable Soup (G)

Years ago, I made all my soups from scratch. I knew the vitamin and mineral values and the flavors were better than the canned varieties and it was an economical way to use up left over food items.

Unfortunately, most of the soups I concocted were horrible. They were often tasteless because they were overcooked. Other times, the soups were bitter or lacked any definitive flavor because I had not developed the broth or, again overcooked the vegetables.

I never threw the concoctions out, however. Instead, I would bulk them up with pastas, rice or potatoes. While these additions helped, I knew the soups were not what I had envisioned.

Fast forward to my empty-nester life and voila - the soups are flavorful, wonderful and unbelievably delicious. I am glad I did not give up my quest to master the art of soup-making!

Diane's Butter Bean and Vegetable Soup
1 qt. chicken broth
3 tsp. chicken base bouillon
Carrots, steamed and cut up
Cabbage, steamed, cut up
Sweet onion, steamed, chopped
Potatoes, red - boiled and cut up
1-2 cans butter beans, drained
Spinach, fresh
Mushrooms, sliced
Parsley flakes
White wine (optional)
If you notice, very few of the ingredients have measured amounts. This is because soup should be made with love! Measuring everything will cut down on its possibilities and "wonderfulness".
Heat the broth in a large pot. Add the bouillon base and stir well. Add the cut up, *steamed vegetables and the butter beans. Continue to heat the soup and add the mushrooms. When they are tender-crisp, drop in leaves of spinach or Swiss chard. Heat until the leaves are wilted. Add parsley flakes and about 1/4 C white wine. Stir and taste. If the soup needs salt, add it now. Turn off heat and ladle soup into bowls. Put a pat of real butter in the middle of each bowlful. Push it down under the broth as it melts. Serve and ENJOY!

*Hint: Vegetables may be steamed in a pot over water, but I like to use the microwave steamer bags available in most grocery stores. It only takes a few minutes to steam most vegetable perfectly. Carrots are the exception, they are better steamed with water.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Best Brussels Sprouts - Not Bitter

Much-love foods can stretch from the extremely complicated, like Mile High Lasagna Pie, to the very simple, like a piece of fresh fruit. Some flavors take some time to train one's palate to enjoy or even like. For me, it was Brussels sprouts.

My husband loves this small cabbage-like vegetable while I always hated their bitterness. The evil, lingering odor of  cooked Brussels sprouts only added another layer of something to dislike about them.

Sometimes, though, persistence pays off. Every time sprouts were served, I tried one or two. I wanted to like them, but it was not to be. Not until the day I discovered a wonderful and simple  preparation method. It not only eliminated the horrid odor, but also removed the bitter flavor.

My husband said they were the best Brussels sprouts he had even tasted!

The Best Brussels Sprouts

Select fresh or frozen Brussels sprouts. If fresh, rinse off sprouts and slice a thin layer off the cut end to remove the discolored part.

Place 1 cup of sprouts in a microwave-steamable bag. Zip the bag end closed,  Cook as directed. Immediately remove sprouts to a bowl, add butter, stir gently to combine. Enjoy.

You will not believe the sweetness - and - NO ODOR!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Bee-Bim Bop - easy version (G) (V if desired)

The Sunday magazine clipping from nine years ago is still in good shape. It is a photo of a wonderful dish and a recipe called Bee-Bim Bop*. While it is a familiar favorite in Korea, bee-bim bop, a decade ago, was new to me.

 *(Bi bim bap, bee-bim bop or bi bim bopBi bim means to mix and bap, pronounced bop, is the word for rice. If the words are strung together it roughly translates to “mix it up)

The recipe from the Sunday magazine is complicated. Meat is marinated and braised, eggs beaten and fried, vegetables, chopped and stir-fried with sauces and others blanched. Each set of ingredients is served in separate bowls and each diner is given a large bowl of hot rice and asked to help themselves to the prepared ingredients. The wonderful bowls of food are mixed - like crazy - and enjoyed, often with a side disk of kimchee.

There are many versions of Bi-bim , see Post # 246. They are enjoyed for their variety of textures and flavors, but the complicated process to get to the end product has kept me from making it often.

I wanted the dish, but not the work. Then, one day, a light bulb moment happened. I decided Bee-bim bop could be just as tasty with reduced preparation! The meal I devised was delicious; actually, it was better than delicious. It had just the right amount of crunchy texture from the vegetables, a slight saltiness from the sauce and pure comfort from the hot Basmati rice.

While I used braised turkey sausage links for the meat portion of the Bee-bim bop, chicken, pork or beef strips would be just as delicious. Omit meat for vegetarian version.

Diane's Bee-bim Bop - Easy Version
1/4 Green pepper, chopped
3 Green onions, chopped
1 Carrot, diced
3 Celery stalks, diced
1 Garlic clove, diced
2 C Spinach or spinach blend
1/4 C Carrots julienne
4 Turkey sausage links (your choice of meat or omit for vegetarian version)
2 Eggs, beaten
Sushi/sashimi sauce
Rice, Basmati, hot
Prepare desired amount of rice and set aside, keep warm.
Prepare vegetables as described above. Add 1-2 T oil to a hot, heavy pan or wok. Stir-fry first four ingredients together until tender crisp. Add garlic and braise while combining with other vegetables for 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl. Wipe out pan, add 1 T oil. Toss in spinach blend and sauté until wilted, transfer to a second bowl. Sprinkle pan with julienne carrots and stir quickly until slightly caramelized. Put in a small bowl. Wipe out pan, add oil, add beaten eggs. Lift edges to allow the runny egg to run under cooked egg. Flip egg over for 20 seconds, transfer to a cutting board. When slightly cool, roll egg into a cylinder and slice into thin ribbons. Cook sausage as directed. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
Place hot rice in the middle of two serving bowls. Arrange the cooked meat, egg and vegetables around the edge of each bowl attractively. Sprinkle the top of each with green onion and julienne carrots. Drizzle with sauce. (Be sure to mix-it-up when eating!) Serves 2.
(Recipe may be increased for more servings).

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Diane's Braised Barbecue Chicken (G)

Complicated recipes are often wonderful and may offer exotic flavor combinations and a variety of textures and visual sensations. However, most people do not have the time to create such masterpieces!

If a dish can be prepared quickly, have few ingredients and taste wonderful - it becomes one of my new favorites!

My "Braised Barbecue Chicken" fills the bill, as the saying goes. Every time I make it, I wish I had doubled the recipe so I can have leftovers! The flavors are just right, the meat is tender and makes a meal to LOVE!

Note: I only use free-range, hormone-free, antibiotic-free chicken. Not only is it a healthier alternative, but the chicken tastes like it used to when I was a child. Even the dark chicken meat has an outstanding, wonderful flavor.

Diane's Braised Barbecue Chicken

Chicken thighs (partially thawed)
Olive oil
Barbecue sauce

Heat a heavy pan on med-high heat. Add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Partially thaw thighs and spread open to maintain an even thickness. Add thighs to pan. Do not crowd.

 Braise both sides for 2 minutes each. Remove thighs to cutting board and slice crosswise. Larger pieces may be halved. Return meat to pan. Add a little more oil if necessary. Continue to braise. Use a spatula to move meat around until it is nicely browned. Do not over cook.

Turn heat down to med-low. Add a few tablespoons of barbecue sauce and one or two tablespoons of ketchup. Mix well and cook until meat is coated and glazed. Serve over rice or with steamed vegetable. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers, G, V

Even after a lifetime spent in the kitchen, I still love to say many food-related words : flambé, puree, sauté, al dente, fricassee, clarify, aperitif, coq au vin and arugula. All but the last two are preparation terms. Coq au vin is a chicken dish with French origins, while arugula is a type of leafy green from the Mediterranean.

Not long ago, I was introduced to a food new to me called quinoa. Quinoa - so fun to pronounce, ( keen-wa), and is it healthy! This little grain is one of the best sources of protein from a vegetable source. It also provides all the essential amino acids and is GLUTEN-FREE.

Quinoa is a rather unimpressive small, beige seed with South American origins. The grain, cooked much like rice, produces a fluffy, odd-looking mound of round things. The flavor of quinoa is mild and lends itself well to other vegetables and/or meat dishes.

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers is a delightful change from the traditional rice-mixture, stuffed pepper. The tomato base, which includes green chilies, has a wonderful zip and the slightly salty Parmesan adds to the texture and enhances the other flavors. I could eat this dish every week.

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers
1/2 Cup Quinoa
1 Cup water
2 large green bell peppers
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
1 T butter (low-fat Smart Balance may be substituted)
4-5 mushrooms, sliced
1, 10 oz. can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies. Drain, reserve liquid
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 C salsa
1 T red wine (optional)
1/2 C Parmesan cheese, grated
Cook quinoa according to package directions. Set aside.
Heat a pot of water to boiling. Cut the top off of the peppers and remove seeds. Submerge the peppers and cook gently until soft but not limp. Remove peppers from water and drain. Place peppers in a microwave-safe baking dish. Set aside. In a large skillet, sauté the onion and mushrooms in butter until golden. Add the drained, Rotel tomatoes, garlic and salsa. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the wine and cook for 10 more minutes. Lightly combine quinoa and Parmesan cheese.
Fill the peppers with mixture. Add reserved juice to remaining mixture and place around base of filled peppers. Sprinkle each pepper with a little Parmesan.
Cover dish and bake in the microwave for 15 minutes. Uncover, and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Plate and enjoy. Serves 2.
(Peppers may be baked, uncovered,  in a traditional oven at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes,

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Diane's Gluten-free Pancakes

A pancake is not always just a pancake! I have often experimented with tasty additions to the basic pancake formula. Some of my favorite add-ins have been berries, nuts, bacon bits, banana slices, citrus peel, flavorings/spices and mini chips.

Unfortunately, when I found out GLUTEN had caused me years of digestive suffering, my days of fluffy-wheat-based pancakes were over in an instant. I experimented with many made-from-scratch gluten-free pancake recipes and was very disappointed in the flavors and textures.

Happily, Bisquick came out with a gluten-free pancake mix. Warning: it is not inexpensive, but turns out a nice product.

 Not one to leave well-enough alone, I experimented and have perfected a pancake my husband raves about. It is fluffy, light, slightly crisp and does not have a strange aftertaste inherent in many gluten-free baked goods.

 My suggested additions not only enhance the taste and texture of the basic mix, they extend the servings per box. Happy eating!

1 C Bisquick gluten-free pancake mix
1/2 C golden flax meal
1tsp baking powder
1/4 C unsweetened coconut
1/4 C cinnamon mini-chips
1/4 C pecans, chopped
1tsp lemon or orange peel, grated
1 egg
1 T olive oil (or canola)
1 C milk (add more if needed)

Pre-heat griddle med. hot.

Add wet ingredients to a quart-sized pitcher. Add in dry ingredients. Mix well. Add more milk if mixture too thick.

Spray griddle with Pam. Pour batter onto griddle into desired-size pancakes. Flip over pancakes when the underside is golden and top is slightly set. Continue to cook until 2nd side is lightly browned. Remove pancakes to a plate and serve with desired toppings.
Make 7 large pancakes.

Wrap leftovers - if there are any - and refrigerate.