Well it’s here in full force, at least these past two weeks with the sizzling 90 plus temperatures. Unfortunately it wasn’t a very lazy one for me, because I had purchased all my annual herbs and last week was the only available free time to plant them. Ignoring the advice from my kids to not to go out in the garden because it was too hot, I made a container of ice water, put my sunscreen on and wore my big brim sun filtered garden hat and ventured outside and yes, it was HOT! However, I did heed the advice of the weatherman and stayed out for no more than 45 minutes, came in, had a drink of water an relaxed in the cool air conditioning. I followed this schedule all day an I am happy to say that all my plants are now in my garden and I am a Happy Camper or should I say Happy Gardener!
I must say, that if you are into cooking like I am, there is nothing better than having a little herb garden and being able to run outside and pick a fresh herb to use. Not only are fresh herbs very expensive at the market, but there isn’t much of a variety and picked herbs do not stay fresh very long. I will be showcasing individual herbs in my garden with recipes as they are ready to harvest, although I noticed today that my basil is ready for the first pickings and this week I will begin making my pestos.
I also have my container garden with my tomato plants. The six containers usually supply me with tomatoes for summer recipes and for my sauces until early October.
My perennial garden is slowly getting back to life, and today I noticed that two lily plants seemed to pop up overnight. That is the joy of a perennial garden, each year brings flowers that you never remember planting or that you haven’t seen for a while and this year for the first time, I had a very bad case of Poison Ivy and had to be treated with prescription meds for a week. My problem is, my garden is so dense with greenery that I can’t identify the Poison Ivy plants and I am petrified that I will get it again.
I know that I have been a little redundant and you probably are tired of hearing that my project this year had been to downsize and get rid of “THINGS” and my project last month was to sift through the many gadgets and small appliances that I have collected over the years-many were for business purposes and for myself and as gifts as well. “You name it, I got it.”
Now, I had to ask myself, “DO I NEED IT 0R DO I WANT IT” I have to admit it has been a very difficult task, because using them these past few weeks to prepare meals and then to critique them for this update and future updates has left me with mixed emotions and I now cannot makeup my mind wither “I Need IT OR I WANT IT!”
This is only the beginning of this project and it is going to be a daunting job testing the many, many items that I have neatly stored in the cabinets and on the shelving around the perimeter of my garage. Actually the garage to me is an extension of my kitchen, due to the lack of cabinet space for storage in what would be described as a small kitchen compared to today's massive kitchens with all the bells and whistles.
Actually we did design some units on the wall in the laundry room that stores my cooking staples, herbs and spices, cereals and baking needs and a few years later as a Christmas gift my youngest son designed a larger unit to store small appliances and cleaning supplies. I live by the motto “A place for everything and everything in its place”-actually I manage just fine in my small kitchen!
Honestly, I cannot imagine not having this additional storage space, which also includes my pot rack over my work counter and just in case you are wondering, all the utensils are throughly washed before using. You can see the narrow space that we had to work with for the pantry, but the narrow shelves actually make it easier to find items quickly. In the background you can see the wider cabinet that houses my most used small appliances and functions as a broom closet-I bet you havent heard that description in awhile!
The first small appliances that I used for this update was the George Foreman's Lean Mean Grilling Machine, that has been collecting dust for a very long time. Actually when it was first introduced, I just had to have it, which is like most of my purchases., Unfortunately in 2006 a new feature included removable dishwasher safe grill plates improved the grill and certainly made cleaning it easier.
The George Foreman’s Lean Mean Grilling Machine was introduced In 1994 when people were trying to eliminate high fat animal protein and empty simple carbs from their diets and concentrate on eating more complex carbohydrates, such as whole wheat or vegetable pastas, brown rice, legumes, and lots of vegetables and fresh fruits from God’s supermarket. Although I did use pork chops and ham in my recipes and because I believe that you can eat anything in moderation, unless you have an allergy or under a doctor’s advice. I have shared the fact that I do not eat beef, if it is my choice and not because I don’t like beef, but because beef doesn’t like me as I do not digest it well. Although I may include a small amount in a mixed blend of meat used in meatloaf and meatballs for added flavor and of course if I am invited to dinner and the hostess is serving beef, I certainly would eat a small amount.
Also because I get very confused when people say “I do not eat carbs” and it bothers me wondering how are they getting all the nutrients and vitamins that they need for optimum health. So bothered that I perused the internet to find a site that explains the good and the bad carbs. Please all you NO CARB PEOPLE check it out! Good Carbs.org
I prepared the following meals on the George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine.
Seasoned Grilled Boneless Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes and Pineapple Slices
Preheat grill for 5 minutes
Place a small amount of cooking oil in a plastic bag and add sweet potatoes to coat. Place on grill and close lid for approximately 5 minutes or until the sweet potatoes start to soften.
Season pork chops with pinch of salt and black pepper an a mixture of paprika, onion powder and garlic powder or to taste. Place on grill with sweet potatoes and close lid, and grill for 5 minutes add pineapple slices, close lid and grill for 3 to 4 minutes until grill marks appear on pineapple and sweet potatoes are soft and pork registers 170 degrees on a meat thermometer.
Grilled Ham Slice Served With Raisin Sauce with Cold Green Bean Salad and Pineapple Coleslaw
Preheat grill for 5 minutes. Place a 97% Fat Free Smithfield Ham Steak on grill, close lid and grill until grill marks appear and ham is heated through.
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup raisins
½ cup red wine vinegar
3 ¼ cups water
In a medium saucepan combine all ingredients and simmer on low heat until thickened.
Cold Green Bean Salad
This really isn’t a formal recipe, I simple gauge the amount of beans according to the servings and slowly add all the ingredients until I am pleased with the consistency and taste!
Steam fresh green beans or cook in the microwave until tender, but not too soft. Drain and rinse in cold water. In a medium bowl add beans, either whole or cut into smaller pieces-I like them whole- walnuts, crumbled feta or blue cheese, salt and pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Blend thoroughly.
1 small head of cabbage shredded or 1 bag of coleslaw mix
1 large carrot shredded
1 15 ounce can of crushed pineapple
½ cup light mayonnaise
½ cup greek yogurt
1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
I usually add raisins, but because I had raisins in the sauce I omitted them.
Blend all ingredients, cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled or overnight.
Requested Grilled Ham Slice Encore Served with Pineapple Sauce and Cauliflower Steak and Sweet Corn on the Cob
1 head of cauliflower, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Garlic powder, to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Line a sheet pan with foil
Place the cauliflower on your cutting board with the stem side up and slice vertically into steaks of even thickness. Brush steaks with olive oil and season with a sprinkling of garlic powder and salt and pepper.
Roast for 20 minutes, turn and roast for an additional 15 minutes or until centers are soft and edges are brown.
My granddaughter made Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from one of my homemade mixes that are always in the refrigerator and they were delicious. Unfortunately when I went to have one with my tea when they left, there were none to be found.
Actually because my youngest grandchildren are now older, I really do not get to see them that often. So when they do visit I do try to honor their request with food. Also, when I asked my granddaughter what she would like for breakfast, which actually would mean brunch for her, she suggested Eggs Benedict! Really! Hey I am not complaining, I LOVE IT!
Grilled Chicken Breast with Cucumber Sauce-Served with Vegetable Quinoa and Sauteed Apples and Pears
Preheat grill for 5 minutes. Rub a small amount of olive oil on skinless, bone in chicken breasts and sprinkle with a small amount of salt and black pepper. Place on grill and cook for approximately 6 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 70 degrees. The temperature will continue to rise as Chicken cools.
Prepare the sauce before hand so the sauce can be refrigerated at least 30 minutes and can come to room temperature-I like to serve the sauce at room temperature on warm chicken, however the sauce can be made an refrigerated overnight an used with cold chicken that is served as a toss vegetable salad topping. Top the salad with the cold cucumber sauce. This is so refreshing on a hot summer day and remember cucumbers contain a good amount of water and can keep you hydrated. Always remember to eat in season. Think about it, they grow in the season for a reason-Tomatoes, peppers and peaches all rich in Vitamin A that protects are skin, are largest organ that is most exposed in the summer-did you ever hear the saying “Her skin is like peaches and cream” now someone was at the head of the game. Also squash and watermelon that have a high water countent can help to keep us hydrated as well. Yes, I can go on and on just to try to prove a point!
1 cup plain Greek nonfat yogurt
1 cup cup nonfat sour cream
1 teaspoon white vinegar
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 medium cucumber, seeded and finely chopped-if you prefer, you can peel as well, I didn’t
¼ teaspoon onion powder or 1 green onion, chopped
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ to ½ cup feta cheese
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine ingredients in a bowl and blend well. Cover and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes to marry flavors.
Vegetable Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa)
Quinoa is a wonderful source of fiber and a complete protein and is very versatile and is used in recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts too! Quinoa is listed as an Ancient Grain.
2 bags !00% Boil-in-Bag Tri-Color Quinoa-each bag makes- 1 ½ cups-
1/2 cup each of the fresh, raw vegetables that you choose
I used the following diced vegetables
Corn-off the cob or you may use frozen
¼ cup of red onion, diced
1 ½ Tablespoon Cilantro, chopped
1 Tablespoon mint, chopped
Note, I did not include cucumber, however I would have, but I used it in the cucumber sauce
Toss and blend and add a few tablespoons of Balsamic Vinaigrette, one at a time until you are satisfied with the taste. Chill in refrigerator before serving. Of course other vinaigrettes may be used.
Sauteed Apples and Pears
Peel the fruit or leave the skins on and slice into medium slices. Add apple juice or water to a saucepan, add the fruit and season with cinnamon and ginger and cook on low heat until tender.
Do I Need It or Do I Want It-I was very impressed with how quickly I could prepare a complete meal in such a short time and how everything was cooked to perfection! Unfortunately mine does not have the removable plates and it was difficult to clean. I will have to think about this one!
Although I have used my Set It and Forget It Rotisserie many times through the years, I haven’t used it in awhile, and following the suggestion from my friend that I should try the supermarket rotisserie chicken, I bought one. Unfortunately, I guess I selected the wrong one, because when I cut into the chicken it really wasn’t cooked enough and appeared raw and near the carcass it was actually bloody. So that was the end of that experience-hey, I am not saying that they all are that way. But now I had the taste for a nice rotisserie chicken-so I dragged my Set it-and-forget it Rotisserie out!
Rotisserie Chicken, Seasoned Baby Yukon Gold Potatoes and Chop Chop Salad
Prepared the chicken, with some cooking twine, which was a little more difficult then using the heat proof bands that came with it-have to go on Google to find some! I melted some Smart Balance and added some paprika and a pinch of salt and a sprinkle of black pepper and brushed it all over the bird, even under the skin, while it was secured on the spit. I set it for 13 minutes per pound, following the directions and I was able to cook my baby Yukon gold potatoes in the steaming-roasting accessory that came with it-an I have to confess, I never used that before. To my surprise, when the bell went off everything was cooked to perfection again-it looks like I am going to need more storage space!
Using my trusty chopping gadget that I purchased at a Pampered Chef Party, I used a mixture of greens and vegetables that I had in the refrigerator and just chopped away and added some vinaigrette.
Pineapple/Chicken Kabobs Over Quinoa, Lettuce and Flat Beead
Rotisserie Chicken, cut into thick chunks
1 can of pineapple chunks, reserving juice
Reserved pineapple juice
Skewers for kabobs
Marinate chicken chunks in the reserved pineapple juice for several hours. Spray a grill pan with cooking spray, heat on a medium heat and add pineapple and chicken. Cook until grill marks appear on the pineapple and chicken chunks. Cool and thread pineapple and marinated chicken on skewers. Brush remaining juice on kabobs and sprinkle with grated coconut if desired.
I served the kabobs with vegetable quinoa, but added broccoli, cucumber and sunflower seeds and dried cranberries an omitted the peppers and onion and served with the following dressing.
White Balsamic Vinaigrette
In a small jar add the following ingredients:
⅓ cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon of mustard
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ cup Extra Virgin olive oil
Shake jar well to combine all the ingredients. Add 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette, one tablespoon at a time to the quinoa, blend well and taste test and add more if needed. This dressing is great on any salad.
Chicken Salad in lettuce cups with Watermelon Pizza
Almost everyone has their own favorite chicken salad. So feel free to substitute it for my version, which is only one version of many in my files.
2 cups chicken cut from the rotisserie chicken
1 stalk celery, diced
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup walnuts
½ cup greek yogurt
½ cup light mayonnaise
Salt and pepper, to taste
Add yogurt mixture slowly to ingredients-may not need a full cup. For a creamy salad pulse in processor until of desired consistency. For a chunky salad mix manually. Serve in a nicely shaped lettuce leaf.
1 medium round watermelon
1 container of low fat whipped cream cheese
1 container of fat free vanilla Greek yogurt
Assorted fresh fruit
Slice watermelon into 1 inch thick slices and cut into pizza shaped pieces.
Blend whipped cream cheese and yogurt and frost watermelon slices.
Add pieces of fruit to watermelon slice. Makes a great breakfast-served mine with my homemade oatmeal muffin. Great dessert too!
Do I Need It or Do I Want it-This one is a keeper!
In the CREATIVE CORNER today is little Lila from Boston, Massachusetts, who wants to remind us to take a break from our busy summer schedule to “TAKE TIME TO SMELL THE FLOWERS.” That is a great healthy idea Lila, thank you.
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Disclaimer-HealthyCookingForToday is to supply my readers with timely medical information and suggestions for healthier food choices and recipes and is not intended to give medical advice, which should be obtained from your personal physician.