Archive for ‘Recipes’

September 16, 2019

Watching Football Makes Us Hungry for Tailgate Food!

Watching football makes us hungry for tailgate food even though we’re at home! As the teams settle into conference play, we can easily spend a whole day in front of the TV. No one wants to cook, but we all want to eat. Taking the tailgate approach not only makes us feel more like we’re at the game in person, it means we have food ready so that all we have to do is watch and yell…a lot!
football
When we actually tailgate, we coordinate with our friends to decide who will bring what and then we do the prep in advance. This approach works well when friends or family gather in front of a big screen. Instead of the burden falling on whoever has the biggest screen, food prep can be treated the same way it would be if you were meeting at your favorite tailgate spot.

Sometimes, we ask that the contributions follow a certain theme. Other times, it’s a free for all. Next week, the theme is peanuts. Don’t worry. There are no peanut allergies within the circle of invitees.

This theme is a throwback to Sunday nights from my childhood. My parents had a group of friends who met after church every Sunday for snacks and conversation. At some point, multiple people brought desserts containing peanut butter for several weeks in a row. From then on, the group was known as the Peanut Butter Club.

As host, I like to provide a substantial central dish. To keep with the peanut theme, I’m considering chicken satay with peanut sauce or African peanut soup. I like the idea of chicken on a skewer, but I also like the idea of a soup I can cook in and serve from a slow cooker.

We’ll want to include some lighter foods. A Thai chopped salad filled with veggies and topped with a peanut drizzle fills the bill. This can be easily served build-your-own style. A fruit tray with peanut butter dip is also a great choice.

This theme makes it easy for those who don’t want to cook. Mixed nuts, trail mix, Reese’s Pieces, or peanut butter cups can all be grabbed on the way to a party. Peanut butter stuffed pretzels are also relatively easy to find. Jif® offers Chocolate Poppers-a bag filled with peanut butter-coated popcorn and chocolate flavored covered pretzels-for a crunchy, sweet variation.
cookies
Classic peanut butter cookies can be an easy gluten-free dessert. Our Cooking2Thrive recipe adds some jelly to become PB & J cookies. Here’s the recipe:
Cooking2Thrive PB&J Cookies
About 25 cookies

Ingredients
Baking parchment
1 cup sugar
1 cup natural crunchy peanut butter (peanuts & salt)
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 1/2 tbsp Concord grape jelly + 2 tbsp additional for topping
Water

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350º. Line cookie sheet with baking parchment.

In medium bowl, combine sugar, peanut butter, salt, and egg. Mix well, then stir in 1 1/2 tbsp jelly. Form dough into small balls approximately 1 inch in diameter. Place balls on cookie sheet about 2 1/2 inches apart.

Put water in a small cup. Dip a fork in the water and use it to press each ball flat, then press each ball with the fork a second time at a 90º angle to the first pressing.

Bake in 350º for 10-12 minutes. Remove parchment to cooling rack and cool for 5 minutes, then remove cookies from parchment directly onto rack. Once completely cool, top each cookie with 1/4 tsp grape jelly.

While I know we’ll enjoy this peanut theme, we’re not the Peanut Butter Tailgate Club. We like variety too much. The rest of the season may include burgers and brats, mac & cheese, pulled pork with vinegar coleslaw, nachos & cheese dip or enchiladas and guacamole. Whatever the theme, the food will be delicious.

Watching football makes us hungry for tailgate food, but the real focus this fall is on the game itself! Roll Tide, go Hogs, Tigers x 3, Gamecocks, Volunteers, Rebels, Bulldogs x 2, Wildcats, Commodores, Aggies, and Gators! Yes, I favor the SEC. I can’t help it. Those roots go deeper than the Peanut Butter Club!
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July 22, 2019

Braise then Graze

This year, I’ve been known to braise then graze. Most often, I bake fish; broil or bake beef and pork; and bake or boil chicken, but my favorite preparation may be to braise! Earlier this year, I braised some steak I dredged in gluten-free flour and cooked with a flavorful broth. The result inadvertently mimicked my grandmother’s beef and noodles. In fact, my sister, who thought this was a deliberate replication said, “You nailed it! You can fix this for my birthday,” when she sampled the dish. I confessed it was a happy accident.

One of the benefits of braising is the tenderness of the meat when it’s done. My grandmother used a pressure cooker to achieve this effect. Pressure cookers scare me. I always visualize food on the ceiling that has spewed through the valve at the top. I think I’ll stick with braising.
ribs
The other day, I had some country style pork ribs on hand and lots of rain outside. I wasn’t willing to fight the elements to use the grill so I decided to braise the ribs. I can’t say this was a well-thought plan. It is more aptly described as a few decisions based on convenience. I threw some balsamic vinegar, tamari, and a splash of olive oil in an enameled cast iron pot and added a little sugar. The mixture tasted pleasantly salty with a subtle tang.

I placed the pot over medium heat and allowed it to come to a boil while I stirred until the sugar melted. I then placed each rib, unseasoned, into the liquid and immediately turned it so that both sides were coated. Once all of the ribs were in place, I added a large stem of fresh mint leaves for an aromatic top note.

As I began the braising, I had the thought that the flavor profile would have been a good choice for lamb. I wasn’t sure how it would play with pork, but I always throw things together and hope for the best. Usually, it works out.

Braising can be done in the oven or on top of the stove. I used the top of the stove. The idea is to keep the heat low and cook for a long time. I placed the covered pot over a very low flame and set the timer for an hour. Once the hour had passed, I turned the ribs again, sprinkled in a little cayenne, mignonette pepper, and garlic powder for good measure, gave it a stir and continued to cook for another hour.

The results fall off the bone as expected with this cooking technique. The color is dark, almost black, and the flavor rich. There’s plenty of salt from the tamari. There’s no noticeable sweetness, but the sugar has helped create the illusion of caramelization that makes the burned edges of barbecue so appealing.

The flavor is not wholly familiar. It’s lacking any mustard or tomato base that would be typically associated with country style ribs. And of course there’s no smokiness. Nonetheless, the ribs are satisfying and delicious.

I’ll make these ribs again to nail down the actual measurements for a recipe, then we’ll test that recipe a few times to make any needed changes before it is approved for publication. All Cooking2Thrive original recipes are tested a minimum of three times. Some are tested many more.

Once the recipe is perfected, all you’ll have to do is follow the instructions to braise then graze!
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July 1, 2019

Eggcetera, Eggcetera, Eggcetera

Eggs are so versatile, you can make them part of breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack or picnic, eggcetera, eggcetera, eggcetera. High in protein, low in carbs and full of essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, eggs are an almost perfect food.

The concern that consuming eggs will raise blood cholesterol was diminished by studies a few years ago only to be resurrected this year. Perhaps that will mean you don’t want to eat eggs for every meal or even every day, but eating the occasional egg as part of a balanced, healthy diet leaves the risk factor most likely low.
quiche
If you were going to fill a day with eggs, you could begin with a breakfast of scrambled, fried, poached, or soft boiled eggs. Eggs Benedict, biscuits filled with eggs and sausage, and easily customized omelets along with French toast are longstanding favorites.

In my family, there’s a lot of enthusiasm for breakfast tacos. Scrambled eggs, cheese, and bacon topped with hot sauce and folded into a corn tortilla does make a filling and delicious combination. Alternatively, a gluten-free, dairy-free pancake filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, and a tiny bit of strawberry jelly makes a great dairy-free alternative taco.

That brings me to non-dairy scrambled eggs. When my oldest son was two, we discovered that giving him dairy resulted in significant congestion and irritability. My second son was so allergic I could not consume dairy when I was breastfeeding him without also medicating him. After a couple of days on medication that kept him awake, I opted for no dairy.

During that first phase without dairy, I began substituting water for milk in scrambled eggs. I discovered I preferred the fluffier result so I never reverted to the traditional addition of milk. Last year, I ran across a POPSUGAR post on the secret ingredient for fluffy scrambled eggs. They got it right – water!

If you’re not up early enough for breakfast, you can always have eggs for brunch. My mom had a recipe called Brunch Eggs. It’s a great option for special occasion brunches because you can make it in advance then bake just before serving. Here’s the recipe:

Brunch Eggs

8 slices white bread, crust removed
Butter, softened
5 eggs
1 pint half & half
Salt to taste
8 oz grated Old English cheese (can substitute a mixture of sharp & mild cheddar)

Preheat oven to 325. Spray 8 x 10 oven-safe baking dish with olive oil spray.

Butter each slice of bread on both sides. Tear into bite-size pieces and place in prepared dish.

In large bowl, whisk 5 eggs. Whisk in half & half. Add salt to taste and stir. Pour mixture over bread. Sprinkle cheese over the top. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

Bake at 325 for 45 minutes. Serve hot.

This recipe is easily made gluten-free by substituting gluten-free bread. It will take a little more determination and experimentation to make it dairy-free. There are many milk substitutes, but some work better than others when heated or as part of a specific flavor profile. Non-dairy cheeses also vary widely in flavor and meltability.

For lunch, I like egg salad. I make several different versions. Choosing one depends on the day and ingredients available. They’re all good on bread, crackers, or wrapped in lettuce. My other most common lunch egg option is tuna salad with boiled eggs included.

At snack time, I most often choose deviled eggs. I make a traditional mayo/mustard version unless I’m feeling fancy, then I upgrade to bleu cheese with tarragon. My mother made deviled eggs with butter, vinegar, salt & pepper.

When I’m flying, a boiled egg is my preferred snack. Because of the unpredictable timing of stops and availability of gluten-free food, I always want to have something on hand. A peeled, boiled egg is easy to carry through an airport and on a plane. If you prefer, pickled eggs would work as well.

At dinner time, I love a fritatta. I can fill it with leftover or newly sautéed vegetables; bacon, sausage, or salami; and cheese or cream cheese. Since there’s no crust, I don’t have to worry about creating a gluten-free version. If you prefer crust on your egg pies, you can always opt for quiche.

Eggs don’t have to be the main feature of the meal. Served atop steamed asparagus with a sprinkle of parmesan or as the crown on bibimbop, they bring a delightful finishing touch.

A day filled with eggs won’t leave you lacking for dessert. Custard or custard pie, meringue, soufflé, bread pudding, creme brûlée, cheesecake, and ice cream contain significant amounts of egg. Other desserts use eggs as a binder–cake, cookies, brownies, cream pies, and pudding.

It takes more than one day to exhaust the many ways you can prepare those little jewels with 70 calories, 6 grams of protein, 1 gram of carbohydrate, and 65 mg of sodium plus all 9 essential amino acids that cannot be made by your body in addition to iron, vitamins A,D,E, & B12, folate, selenium, lutein, zeaxanthin, and choline. The amount of nutrition packed in such a small package is impressive, but the usefulness of eggs doesn’t stop there.

Eggs bring the element of fun to Easter. They can be blown out of their shells to boggle the minds of children. The yolks can serve as the binder for tempera paint. Eggcetera, eggcetera, eggcetera.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6024687/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30874756

https://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-study-looking-at-eggs-cholesterol-and-heart-disease/

https://www.popsugar.com/food/Scrambled-Eggs-Water-43048421

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/get-know-breakfast-foods/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/easiest-egg-salad-ever/
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March 4, 2019

Let’s Go Green With Avocado!

Even if you don’t recycle, you can still go green with avocado! It’s time to bring the focus back to food for a minute. Spring hasn’t quite arrived, but I’m already craving salads made from fresh, tender spring greens. The farmers market in my neighborhood will open in April. In the meantime, I’m creating salads using red cabbage, baby arugula, and kale.

I’m not a big fan of most bottled dressing so I usually toss something together at home. I use a variety of vinegars-balsamic, apple cider, rice wine, and white wine-and pair them with extra virgin olive oil. Sometimes I’ll buy oil or vinegar infused with herbs, peppers, or fruit for some extra flavor dimension. For creamy dressings, I used to start with yogurt. Now I prefer avocado.

Avocados have a creamy texture and plenty of fat to serve as a base for dressing. They’re a great dairy alternative. And they provide lots of yummy nutrients.
avocado
One-third of a medium avocado has 1 gram of protein, .3mg of iron, 250mg of potassium, 11mcg of vitamin K, 45mcg folate, .7mg pantothenic acid, and .1mg copper plus iron, vitamins C,E,& B, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and manganese.

That same serving of avocado has 3g dietary fiber and no sodium, sugar, or cholesterol. The fiber content combined with unsaturated fat makes avocados filling, heart-healthy, and diabetes-friendly.

Here’s an avocado dressing recipe I’ve been using:

Spicy Avocado Dressing

One ripe avocado
1 tbsp COYO natural flavor coconut yogurt alternative
1/2 tsp Sriracha
1/4 tsp salt
4 grinds black pepper
1/2 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
Squeeze of lemon or lime juice (optional)

Place avocado, coconut yogurt, and Sriracha in food chopper and pulse until smooth and creamy. Place avocado mixture in medium bowl. Stir in salt, pepper, and orange juice. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Keep the avocado turning from turning brown by adding a squeeze of lemon or lime juice before refrigerating.

If you’re not in the mood for salad, you can always use avocados to make guacamole. In addition to the traditional dip or salad, I sometimes use guacamole instead of mayonnaise or mustard on a sandwich to give it a boost in flavor and moisture. It’s especially good with roasted or fajita chicken.

Don’t forget to add avocado to your poké bowl. It’s delicious with rice, tofu, cucumber, carrots, edamame, and salmon, tuna, shrimp, or chicken.

Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention avocado toast. If you don’t want to make it at home, it’s most likely served at a coffee shop near you although it may not be gluten-free.

I’ve seen recipes that call for adding avocado to salsa, margaritas, and even pudding. I can see using them in muffins or fruit breads in the place of butter although I have not tried this.

But that’s what going green with avocados is all about…using them more often and in more variety. Have fun going green and bon appétit!

https://www.californiaavocado.com/nutrition/nutrients

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270406.php

https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/40-avocado-recipes-so-you-can-eat-as-much-avocado-as-possible

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/bombarded-words-eat-healthy-really-mean/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/secret-always-kiss/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”