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This Cruciferous Veggie = Great Taste + Great Health

Another cruciferous vegetable to try.  This is a refrain that will appear often in my posts.  They are way too healthy not to revisit.  I must admit that bok choy only appeared on our table, thinly sliced, in stir-fried dishes.  I’m branching out into unfamiliar but delicious territory with this recipe.

There are dozens of reasons to add this to your diet.  Bok choy is low in calories and has no fat.  It is a rich source of many vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, K and C.  Vitamin A is essential for the immune system and for healthy teeth and bones.  Vitamin K has an important role in blood coagulation and the absorption of calcium for bone density.  Vitamin C is well-known as an antioxidant which plays a part in fighting cancer.  It is a source of vitamin D which is also good for the health of bones and teeth.   A small serving supplies significant amounts of calcium, potassium, manganese, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.  The phytonutrients in bok choy promote healthy eyes and may reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. This super veggie is too good to save just for stir-fry.

Bok choy has long been a staple in Asian cooking, which may be where its familiarity ends.  The dark green, leafy tops are chock full of nutrients, so be sure to include them.  Bok choy is an excellent addition to soups and stews, and as you will see, should be served as a side dish too.

Tips

Handle bok choy with care to avoid bruising. To revive slightly wilted bok choy, plunge into ice water, drain, place in a plastic bag, and into the refrigerator.   I would use it within a day or two, but it can be kept up to a week.  Bok choy can be found all year at the market.  Look for it in the summer at your local farmers’ market for the freshest option. Look for firm stalks free of brown spots. Be sure not to overcook bok choy – it is best crisp-tender.

I tweaked this recipe from Simply Recipes a little.  It is quite delicious with the addition of prosciutto and dry sherry.

Baby Bok Choy with Sherry and Prosciutto

(serves 4)

  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 – 2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 6 heads baby bok choy, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry **
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with a tablespoon of cold water
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup of thinly sliced prosciutto cut into 1/4-inch strips, or finely chopped
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Mix the sherry, chicken broth, soy sauce, and sugar in a small bowl.
  2. Put the oil and garlic into a large sauté pan.  Heat to medium high heat.  Sauté very briefly, taking care not to burn the garlic.
  3. Add the bok choy halves. Use tongs to turn the pieces in the oil. Season with salt. When the bok choy leaves begin to wilt, add the sherry mixture.  Reduce the heat to medium. Cover and sauté until the stalks are crisp-tender.  Give the cornstarch a quick stir and add to pan.  The liquid will form a glaze.  Add the prosciutto and toss quickly.
  4.  Season to taste with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

** Try marsala wine instead of dry sherry for a different flavor.

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Hoof and Mouth?

“So, you are going to Hoof and Mouth today?”, my husband quizzes me.  That goofy sense of humor  always sends our daughters and me into giggles.  Well, yesterday was “Hoof and Mouth” day, or more correctly, “Hand and Foot”.  It’s actually a card game in the canasta family that I have recently come to learn with new and old friends.

Canasta evokes ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­cherished memories of countless hours spent “playing cards”with my grandmother.   Canasta transports me back to my childhood, to summers that seemed to last forever.  Now they seem to whiz by in the blink of an eye.   Sitting on the screened porch at the cottage, we perched in two captain’s chairs with the fabric slightly worn and sagging a bit for comfort, at a card table covered with some funny old, quilted plastic.   That was the birthplace of all the card games I have come to enjoy.  It seemed my grandmother knew every card game ever invented; I don’t think a game existed that she didn’t love.  Canasta, samba, cribbage, gin, bridge… It is a treasured gift from her because it is a way to make connections with others.  Anything from quiet to raucous conversations usually accompany card games, as we share daily or even life-changing moments.

Confidences from children that they may not otherwise have stopped long enough to tell.  Quiet moments with a spouse by the light of a propane lantern after the children are tucked into their sleeping bags.   A familiar game of cards with a parent who is in the thralls of Alzheimer’s, but still remembers that game.  A once-a-month bridge group that keeps those friendships alive.  Card games are not just games, but so much more.  If you haven’t thought of cards in this light, now is the time to start a tradition of your own with grandchildren or other important people in your life.

I encourage responses to my posts.  You will need to click on an individual post to find the reply box for that post.  Looking forward to hearing from you. ( Your email address will be requested, but will not be made public to anyone.)

Try These: Two Tasty Salads

We made these two tasty salads over the weekend.  I found both from bloggers who have such appealing sites.  I am following both of them because they feature such delicious recipes. Felicia has a wonderful blog, Felicia Sullivan, where I have found terrific recipes.   I also enjoy thisfrenchfarmhouse equally.  Check out these salads.  The photos on both sites made me want to make them right away, which I did.  I think you will enjoy these blogs as much as I do.  Both recipes are healthy and delicious, just as I promised.

Forbidden rice+Mango+Nectarine.  I hadn’t had black rice before but found it quite scrumptious – way more flavor than white rice.  We added a little poached chicken to please my husband.  We also used baby spinach leaves for the greens.

http://feliciasullivan.com/?p=12917

King Crab and Grapefruit Salad – yum!  We tweaked this recipe and substituted lobster for crab just because it was more economical here in the Midwest.  I know, that’s hard to believe, but true.

http://thisfrenchfarmhouse.com/page/3/

Try these and let me know what you think?

I encourage responses to my posts.  You will need to click on an individual post to find the reply box for that post.  Looking forward to hearing from you. ( Your email address will be requested, but will not be made public to anyone.)

Cauliflower Steaks?

Cauliflower rarely makes an appearance on my grocery list.  Cauliflower was the cruciferous vegetable that I was least excited about.  I politely partake of it when my husband prepares it.  I have mostly eaten it steamed, which has a rather bland and not pleasant flavor, or with a not-very-healthy creamed sauce.  My sister called the other day with a recipe to try.  Roasted cauliflower steaks!  It didn’t sound that enticing.  How could it be any better than steaming it?  Well, I had a second helping, and will include this in a frequently-eaten food.  Not only were they delicious, but also easy to prepare.  On top of all that, cauliflower is a very healthy food.  How could a white vegetable possibly be healthy?  Read on.

Cauliflower is a good source of vitamin K, which helps regulate the body’s response to inflammation.  This in turn may help to prevent cancer because inflammation increases the risk of cancers developing.  Cauliflower also supports the cardiovascular system; inflammation also has a negative affect on blood vessels and circulation.  It offers digestive support with fiber content and research shows it also protects the lining of your stomach.  It is an excellent source of vitamin C too, which is an antioxidant.

Tips

  • It is at its best fall through early spring when it is in season
  • It should be creamy-white without spots or yellowed leaves
  • You may store fresh cauliflower in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week, stem-side down, but use it within a day or two for best flavor.  A strong flavor develops with longer storage.

Roasted Cauliflower Steaks

This recipe couldn’t be easier!

  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2.  Remove leaves, stem, and part of core.
  3. Wash cauliflower with cold water.  Then slice the head into 1/2-inch “steaks”.
  4. Put “steaks” onto cookie sheet.  Brush both sides lightly with olive oil and salt and pepper the top side.
  5. Roast for 10 minutes and then flip steaks with a turner/spatula.  Roast another 10 minutes and serve.

** My sister also sprinkles smoky paprika on the steaks.

I encourage responses to my posts.  You will need to click on an individual post to find the reply box for that post.  Looking forward to hearing from you. ( Your email address will be requested, but will not be made public to anyone.)

A Minestrone for Spring

Here at  last!  May 16 and it is finally SPRING!  Spring, as in the weather itself, not the date on the calendar.  Several days in a row have been warm with those cool nights, so perfect for sleeping.  Chilly winter days usually come to mind when soup is on the table.  Not so this one.  Leeks, carrots, pasta, spinach, and mini meatballs float in a sea of light, flavorful broth.  The savory broth was a delightful surprise.  I tweaked this recipe a bit from the one I found in Bon Appétit.  I replaced the ground chicken with ground turkey, just because the butcher had some ready to go.  Next time I’ll try ground chicken.  Then, I baked the meatballs, rather than browning them in oil, as a healthier alternative.  The chives are already up in my herb garden, a few steps from my door.  This soup would be perfect for lunch or a light supper.  Just add a tossed salad to complete the meal.  Other spring vegetables could be added, such as sugar snap peas.  Try this recipe before those cool nights turn warm and humid, which may be just around the corner.  Try this one and tell me what you think.

Spring Minestrone

6 oz. ground chicken or turkey

1/2 cup dry bread crumbs

1/2  cup chicken broth

6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped finely

1 large egg, whisked well

3/4 teaspoon salt

freshly ground pepper

1 – 2 tablespoon olive oil

1 leek, white and pale green parts only

5 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

1 cup small pasta or 1 1/2  cups larger egg noodles

1 cup sliced carrot rounds

1 cup (packed) baby spinach

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2.  Add 1/2 cup broth to the bread crumbs.
  3. Cut leek in half, the long-way.  Rinse well between layers and slice thinly into half-moons
  4. Mix chicken, bread crumbs, minced garlic clove, chives, egg, salt and pepper to taste.  Form into 1/2-inch meatballs.  Grease a baking sheet lightly.  Place meatballs on baking sheet.  Bake for 14 minutes, turning half-way through. Remove from oven.
  5. Heat olive oil in soup pot and sauté leeks for about 3 minutes, until softened.
  6. Add broth and water to pot and bring to a boil.
  7. Add pasta and carrots and simmer about 8 minutes until the pasta is almost done.
  8. Add meatballs, spinach, and remaining Parmesan.  Stir until spinach is wilted and Parmesan is melted.  Season with salt and pepper, if needed.
  9. Garnish with shaved Parmesan, if desired.

I encourage responses to my posts.  You will need to click on an individual post to find the reply box for that post.  Looking forward to hearing from you. ( Your email address will be requested, but will not be made public to anyone.)

A Self-professed Photography Nut

I am a self-professed photography nut.  The great thing about photography these days – well, there are several great things.  The digital age with the ability to toss away photos that don’t meet one’s standards, without the expense of developing film, is certainly a plus.  Then, there are so many choices of cameras that do amazing things without great expense.  Finally, there are quite a few choices of photo-editing programs, from the one that comes with your computer to Photoshop CS5.  If you haven’t acquired a digital camera, it’s a good time to get one.  Prices have certainly come down since they were first introduced.  Reading  “Consumer Reports” or other reviews can be very helpful.

Once I found myself with the photography bug, additional photographic equipment almost seemed to appear magically on my doorstep.  As I developed interests in landscape, macro, and wildlife photography, I needed a tripod, a larger backpack, new lenses, a remote cord…  Actually, of all my interests, this is the one that rings my bell.  We have matted and framed some of my photos, which is immensely pleasing to me.  Whatever you take photos of – granchildren or landscapes or…, frame and display them around your home.  They will be a great talking point for friends and relatives; compliments will come your way too.

Look for photography classes in your area.  A good place to start is your local university for continuing education classes.  You will find classes for beginners through more advanced classes.   I have taken several classes, some of which have been excellent.  Look for a Rocky Mountain School of Photography weekend.  They offer classes around the country and may come to your area.  I learned more at one of their weekend seminars than all of the other classes combined.  To repeat myself, this is a great hobby.  Take your camera wherever you go, as photo opps often appear unexpectedly.  I’d love to hear from all of you shutterbugs.

 

Farmers’ markets are great places for photo opps.  Take your camera along next time.

I encourage responses to my posts.  You will need to click on an individual post to find the reply box for that post.  Looking forward to hearing from you. ( Your email address will be requested, but will not be made public to anyone.)

Not Just for St. Patrick’s Day

This bread is a requirement for St. Patrick’s day at our house.  No argument there.  However, it is too yummy to make just once a year.  I have been baking this bread for more years than I can remember.   The delicious smell that wafted from the oven brought the kids and husband on the run.  The kids are grown but my husband can’t resist this treat.  It’s best served warm and actually doesn’t need butter because it is moist all by itself.  Yes, there is some butter and and low fat buttermilk in the recipe.  However, it makes two good-sized loaves, so a piece or two will warm your heart (even if you are not Irish) and not add much fat to your diet.   Homemade bread has no additives as does store-bought bread.  Give a loaf to a friend, who will delight in munching on this treat.  It’s easy to make (no yeast) and takes just a little time to do.  If there are any left-overs, it makes great toast the next day.  If you haven’t tried dry buttermilk, pick some up for this recipe.  You will not end up wasting the liquid kind that is left over. Try it and let me know what you think!

Irish Soda Bread

4 C. flour

1/3 C. sugar

1 Tbl. baking powder

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

6 Tbl. butter, cold

1  1/4 C. raisins (if on the dry side and hard, soak in water a little while and drain)

1  1/2 tsp. caraway seed

2 eggs

1 1/2 C. low fat buttermilk ( I use dry because I never waste any – just follow directions on container)

  1.  Combine dry ingredients (dry buttermilk, if using)
  2. Cut in butter.
  3. Stir in raisins and caraway.
  4. Beat eggs and 1  1/2 C. water (or reg. buttermilk)
  5. Stir into dry ingredients just till moistened.
  6. Knead one minute on floured surface till it holds together.
  7. Cut in half with a sharp knife.
  8. Grease two cake pans.  Pat down dough in each pan till flat but not touching edges.
  9. Cut large crosses in each with a sharp knife, 1/2″ deep.
  10. Bake 375° 35 – 40 mins.  Remove from pans and let cool on a cake rack.

I encourage responses to my posts.  You will need to click on an individual post to find the reply box for that post.  Looking forward to hearing from you. ( Your email address will be requested, but will not be made public to anyone.)