Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Great Greens for New Years

Grilled salmon served
 on a bed of Quick Cooked Kale
Must have greens for New Years!
In the South, it's one of the foods you must eat to guarantee good health, good luck and prosperity in the coming year. 

But even Southerners raised on greens can find them un-appealing. Over cooked.  Limp. Overly salty.  It's no wonder they get a bad rap!

Greens, in case you're from the north and don't understand southern speak, is any leafy vegetable that's generally served cooked.  Collards, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens are a few.  There are more.

This recipe may change your mind about greens.
Kale gets a quick stir fry in a dash of soy sauce or liquid aminos.  Divine!  

Now, before you fat back and long cooking traditionalists roll your eyes at me, why not give it a try? It's healthy and it's surprisingly good!

Quick Cooked Kale
Remove the leave from
the stem by starting at
the top and pulling down. 
The number one, most important thing about this recipe is to have really fresh, young, tender kale.

Kale, by the way, is loaded with nutrients!

Serves 4 to 6 

3/4 pound fresh, young kale (a little more or less is OK)

1 tablespoon soy sauce or Liquid Aminos (see Karla's Tip below)

Optional garnish - Crispy sauted onions or canned, French fried onion rings

This much damp kale.....

Remove the stems from the kale.  Break or cut into bite size pieces.  Wash well.  Drain but do not dry.  

Put the soy sauce or liquid aminos into a large skillet.  Add damp kale. Cover.  

Cook on high till softened - about 2 to 3 minutes.   Remove cover.  Stir until most of the liquid has evaporated - a few minutes more.  Serve topped with optional garnish, if desired.

Karla's Tips
Like spinach, kale will cook way down so don't worry if your skillet seems too small.

Cooks down to this.
Liquid Aminos is like soy sauce without the additives. It has a softer taste, too.  Look for it in the health food section of your grocery store. 

Ring in the New Year without Breaking the Bank

Count Down to New Years

Pork and Black Eyed Peas......  
Got to have 'em at New Years to guarantee health, prosperity and good luck in the coming year!

And this menu pulls out all the stops without breaking the bank!

Ring in the New Year Menu 

Hors d'oeuvres
Virginia Peanut Butter and Black Eyed Pea Hummus
Chilled, Herb Crusted Roast Loin of Pork with Mustard and Marinated Vidalia Onions 

Spicy New Orleans Jambalaya
Crisp Green Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette
Virginia Red Wine 

Holiday Cookies

Top the jambalya with 
sour cream and cheese, if desired!

Virginia Peanut Butter Hummus
Not only is this divine but it includes that most important southern tradition for good luck and prosperity in the New Year - black eyed peas. Serve with raw veggies and chips or crackers for dipping.

Serves 10 to 12

1/3 cup natural peanut butter (unsweetened)
1 small, sweet or Vidalia onion (cut into random chunks)
2 cloves raw garlic (or 4 cloves roasted)
2 (15 oz) cans chick peas (drained, rinsed and drained again)
1 (15 oz) can black eyed peas (drained, rinsed and drained again)
Juice of 4 limes (about 1/3 cup - bottled is OK)
Handful of finely chopped parsley leaves (no stems - about 1/3 cup)
Optional - hot sauce to taste 
Optional - salt and pepper to taste

Put everything (except parsley) into the food processor. Pulse to chop then blend till smooth - about 2 minutes. Add a little more lime juice, if necessary, to make the consistency you like. Stir in the parsley and optional ingredients, if desired.  Refrigerate until serving time.

Chilled, Herb Crusted Roast Loin of Pork
A make-ahead hors d'oeuvre filled with good taste and good luck. Serve very thinly sliced with cocktail size rye bread, Dijon or brown mustard and marinated Vidalia onion along side so guests can make their own mini sandwiches.

Serves 10-12 for hors d'oeuvres

1 loin of pork (4 to 5 pounds)
1/4 cup sweet (mild) paprika
1 tablespoon dried mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
2 tablespoons dried thyme leaves (or 2 teaspoons ground)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
1/4 teaspoon ground, regular (fine) grind black pepper
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 cup apple butter (any type)
3 - 4 tablespoons bacon fat 

Coat a baking pan with cooking spray then line with aluminum foil. (Pan size is not important but a 10 X 15 X 1 inch pan works well.) Wash pork under running water. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Center pork in baking pan.

Stir everything (except bacon fat) together and spread over the entire pork loin (except bottom) as if you were frosting a cake. Drape a piece of plastic wrap over the frosted pork. Refrigerate 2-6 hours. 

When ready to cook, position oven rack so pork will roast in center. Preheat to 350 degrees. Roast pork, uncovered, in preheated oven for 45 minutes then melt the bacon fat and baste the pork. Continue cooking until done - about an hour more.

Remove cooked pork from oven. It will look awful - like a dark log - but don't worry. When it's sliced, it's beautiful. If any of the crust fell off, use a knife to pat it back. Do not use any herb mixture that stuck to the pan and burned.  Cool 1/2 hour then refrigerate, lightly covered, over night before slicing. 

Marinated Vidalia Onions
4 (3 inch in diameter)Vidalia or other sweet onions 
1 cup (approximately) of you favorite Italian dressing

Slice onion paper thin. Separate into rings. Put into a bowl and toss with dressing. Cover. Refrigerate overnight.

Spicy New Orleans Jambalaya
This make-ahead crowd pleaser is a delicious way to ring in the New Year. Easy on the budget and easy on the cook! 

Makes 10 to 12 (1 1/2 cup) servings

2 (8 ounce) boxes Zatarain’s New Orleans style jambalaya mix
2 cups raw rice (long grain brown or converted rice)
3 onions (chopped – about 2 cups)
6 cups tomato juice
6 cups water
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp (60-70 count with shells or without – raw)
1 (5 to 6) pound cooked chicken (cooled, removed from the bone and cut into large, bite sized pieces)
2 (16 ounce) rings kielbasa sausage (any type – cut into ¼ inch thick slices)
2 cups peas (fresh or frozen – canned not recommended)
2 cups corn (fresh, frozen or canned - drained)
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes (undrained)
Optional garnish for serving - sour cream and grated cheddar 

Put jambalaya mix, rice, onions, tomato juice and water into a large pot. Cover. Bring to a boil over high then reduce to simmer. Cook about 25-30 minutes or until rice is tender (all liquid will not be absorbed).

Add shrimp, chicken and kielbasa. Cover. Simmer on low 15 -20 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and heat through. Garnish for serving with sour cream and grated cheddar, if desired.

Good Luck Foods for New Years

By Karla Jones Seidita

Everyone has a good luck food to eat at the stroke of midnight.

They vary from culture to culture, region to region but they all have the same thing in common..... they promise good health, good luck and prosperity in the coming New Year.
Here's  the rundown:


For guaranteed wealth and prosperity in the coming year, just set a dish of cooked lentils on the table. It symbolizes a bowl of coins.  Who doesn't need a bowl-full of money on the table? 

Cabbage, kale and collards all count no matter how you serve them.  Green symbolizes money but these vegetables also symbolize good health which many believe is the only real wealth.
Sauerkraut counts as a green, too, even though it looks white, because it's made from cabbage which is green .... well, light green anyway.

Black Eyed Peas
Eating Hop'n John (black eyed peas) is the traditional Southern way to insure wealth and prosperity.  

Pork and Ham
Pigs dig forward with their snouts.  Digging forward means you're moving forward and that's good.  Pork and ham symbolize a prosperous New Year.
Fish swim forward and never look back.  That's good.  To have good luck, we should swim forward and not look back, either.  Plus, fish scales are said to resemble coins.  What's better than a fish swimming out to meet you covered in money? 

Anything fried or heavy on the butter is the key to health, good luck and prosperity - or so traditions go.  Fritters, doughnuts, cakes and sweet breads (with or without coins or rings inside).  Funny, the rest of the year fried and buttered goodies are taboo.  Oh well, guess you shouldn't mess with tradition.
Stay Away From Chicken & Lobster!!
Eating chicken and lobster at New Years bring poverty, disaster and poor health .... or so tradition warns us. 

When chickens scratch their claws on the ground, the dirt they scratch moves backwards.  Backwards is bad.  Lobsters, trying to walk on land, shuffle in a backwards motion.  Backwards is, again, bad.
Never mind that chicken breasts and lobster tails cost a fortune, steer clear of them at New Years.  You just can't take any chances..... especially if you had a rough year! 

No matter what the tradition, there's plenty of good luck, good health and prosperity foods to eat at the stoke of midnight at New Year's Eve.

But which one to choose?

Better not take any chances… have some of everything!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Savor the Season - The Animals of Christmas

By Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist

In Sunday school, we all learned that Christ was born in a manger.  

It was a symbol of humility but I like to think there's a little more to the story.

Perhaps the manger birth was also to show us that animals are not just here on earth to do our work and provide us food but to be companions in our shared life.

Had Christ been born in a house or hotel or hospital, animals would have not been present.  In a manger, animals are part of the natural way of things.

No other companions so willingly do our bidding or give up their lives so that we might eat.  

Look into their eyes and you'll see gentle souls who never ask for much. A kind word or pat on the head is usually all they need to feel content and loved.

The more urban we become, the more we move away from our connection to animals. 

When we loose this connection, we loose their grace and holiness. 

When we loose the grace and holiness of animals, we loose their energy and companionship. 

When we loose their energy and companionship, we loose a huge part of our humanity.

Animals are part of the Christmas message.
Christ was born to all of us.....the animals, too.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Vegetarian/Vegan Chopped Liver Pate Even Carnivores will Love!

Count Down to New Years

Party food used to be easy - just a couple of bowls of dip and some chips.  Cocktail meat balls from a chafing dish signaled that the party was a gourmet event.  Then someone invented crudités.  All that slicing and dicing meant more prep time in the kitchen.

Fast forward to 2017 and we have food restrictions and preferences to add to the party food mix.  It's enough to make you celebrate the holidays at someone else's house.

Adding a few vegetarian or vegan dishes to your party menu will cover most of the health, religious and/or moral food restriction bases.  And, since they're usually lower in salt, fat and calories, you've got the dieters covered, too.

Gorgeous, oh so yummy,
"chopped liver pate"
without a smidge of meat!

Vegetarian/Vegan Chopped Liver Pate

Gone are the days when we thought that vegetarian or vegan dishes were poor substitutes for "the real thing".

Serve with plain crackers - like saltines or water biscuits.
Mini bagels are great, too.
Good the day it's made but better the next!

And, as if good taste wasn't enough, walnuts are loaded with omega-3's.  
Even the meat eaters are going to love this!

Makes about 3 cups
Uses a plain, 3 cup bowl as a mold
For Vegan Pate - Use oil instead of butter. 

1 cup walnuts (halves and pieces)
1/2 stick butter or 1/4 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion (chopped - about 3/4 cup)
4 cloves garlic (minced - about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 pounds Portabella or Baby Bella mushrooms (other mushrooms not recommended)
3 tablespoons cream sherry or brandy (divided)
Juice of half a lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
Salt to taste ( I like about 3/4 teaspoon - optional)

Put the walnuts on an ungreased, rimmed baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes. Walnuts should be fragrant and richly browned.  Be careful not to burn them.  Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet.  Set aside.

Melt the butter (or heat the 1/4 cup olive oil) in a large skillet.  Add the onion.  Cook on medium/low, stirring occasionally, until very brown but not burned - about 20 minutes.  (The browner the onions, the darker the pate.)  Add the garlic and pepper.  Cook 3 minutes more to blend the flavors.

Stir in the mushrooms, thyme and 1 tablespoon of the sherry or brandy.  Cover and cook on low, stirring occasionally, until mushroom have softened - about 10 minutes.

Remove the cover.  Continue cooking until the mushrooms have release their juice & the juice had boiled away - about 25 minutes more. Remove pan from heat at let mushrooms cool in pan to room temperature - about 20 minutes.

Add the toasted walnuts, lemon juice, remaining 2 tablespoons sherry or brandy to the mushroom mixture.

Pulse the mixture (in batches, if necessary) in the food processor or blender until very smooth. (It takes a few minutes - a little longer than you think.) Add salt to taste, if desired.

Spoon pate into a bowl.  Chill until serving time.

Pack into bowl lined with plastic wrap
To serve pate as a mold:
Line an ungreased, 3 cup size, plain sided bowl with plastic wrap leaving about 3 inches of wrap over-hanging the rim.  Make sure the entire bowl interior is covered.  Over lap wrap if necessary.

Pack the finished pate into the plastic wrap lined bowl - pressing down lightly as you pack to remove any air pockets.  Smooth top to level.  Use wrap over hang to cover pate.  Refrigerate several hours (over night is better).

At serving time, fold back wrap from top of pate.  Place serving dish over top of bowl.  Invert bowl and serving dish together.  Remove bowl.  Remove plastic wrap.

Push back the wrap from the top of the pate and invert onto the serving plate then remove the bowl

Remove the plastic wrap
Decorate with plastic or silk 
poinsettias, pine or holly.

Decorate with plastic or silk poinsettias, pine or holly.  
Do not use fresh pine or holly.  They are poisonous.
Other garnish ideas - fresh herbs, chopped red onion.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Are Your Sabotaging Your Health? - Hydrogenated Fats

So, you you're eating pretty healthy.  
That's great!  

You've heard the term "you are what you eat"  but you also FEEL like what you eat.
So how are you feeling?

Tired and sluggish?   
Angry for no reason?   

Not on top of your game?

Does your mind wander and you never seem to get anything done?

Are you sad and depressed all the time?

Do pounds creep up not matter how little you eat?

A healthier diet doesn't have to be difficult.
You don't have to make major changes all at once.   
Small, easy to manage steps add up to huge results.

Some foods, even though we've thought them to be healthy, are really keeping us from feeling good and looking our best.
It maybe time to tweak your "healthy" habits.

Hydrogenated (and partially hydrogenated) fats and oils are the number 1 sabotage to an other wise healthy diet.  You can't feel great, look good or loose weight when you eat hydrogenated fats.   It just can't be done!

Hydrogenated fats and oils are manufactured to be solid at room temperature. (Think white vegetable shortening like Crisco.)  They were invented during World War ll as a substitute for butter because butter was rationed. 

Today, hydrogenated fats are widely used in commercial baked goods because they're cheap and help keep foods from getting stale.  

Home cooks often use hydrogenated fats to make pie crusts, grease pans and fry chicken.  These are habits passed down from grandmothers who became accustomed to using the stuff during the 1940's. Other fats like butter, oil and even lard are easily used today.  

When a fat is "partially hydrogenated" it's semi solid at room temperature instead of completely solid. 

It's marketing slight of hand to persuade you that it's healthier.

Snack foods, microwave pop corn, salad dressings, commercial pies, and donuts are just the beginning. Partially hydrogenated fats and oils are used everywhere and, in my opinion, are just as bad.

Here's how to minimize (and hopefully eliminate) hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats from your diet:

1.  Be a label reader  
Choose products that don't list hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats on the label. Can't find your favorite foods without them?  Learn to make what you can't buy.

2.  Eat less fast food
Fast food is notoriously loaded with hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats.... only there are no labels to read.

3.  Choose restaurant food with care  
You'll begin to get a sense of what does and does not contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats from your familiarity with grocery store labels.  Use your knowledge as a guide when eating out.

Get rid of hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats and you'll be amazed how quickly you'll feel so much better.... and look so much better!

Good changes to your diet can be fun, painless and delicious plus you'll be rewarded with good health!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Vegetarian “No Meat” Balls

This is one of my all time favorite recipes!
Quick.  Easy.  Healthy!!

Next to my apple pie made without any added sugar, honey or artificial sweetener, this is our most requested recipe!

These "No Meat" balls don't have much flavor on their own but add them to a sauce and they are divine!!  

They soak up the sauce like a sponge and even the most dedicated carnivores will not know they are not meat!

I've tasted a lot of faux meat recipes.... meat balls, burgers, hot dogs - you name it. I've purchased a lot, too.

Most faux meats are bean, lentil or soy based which is OK but this walnut based faux meat is so much better tasting.  

The secret is to grind the oatmeal and the walnuts very finely in the food processor.

Use them in Italian recipes like spaghetti & meat balls or meat ball sandwiches.

Try them in Oriental or Polynesian recipes like sweet & sour meat balls.

Top them with cream sauce for the best Swedish meat balls this side of heaven.

Good poached in chicken soup, too!

Not only do they taste good but they are loaded with omega-3's so they are good for you!

Make them gluten free by using gluten free bread crumbs!

Every so often, I make multiple batches at one time and, when they're cool, I pack them into meal size freezer bags to stash in the freezer.  Then, whenever I need them, I just warm them up in a sauce.  They thaw in an instant!!

Sometimes I pack them as meals ready to reheat in the microwave.  

Call them "no meat" balls or "neat" balls as in n-not/m-eat balls  or "faux" balls... it doesn't matter.  These are sooooo much better than anything you can buy .... and much cheaper, too!

Vegetarian “No Meat” Balls
Uses a food processor & cookie sheet
Baking time - 30 minutes
Can be made ahead and refrigerated up 3 days or frozen up to 6 months


Makes 12 to 15 – 1/14” in diameter (golf ball size)


½ cup oatmeal (old fashioned or quick cooking – not instant)
¾ cup walnuts
1 medium onion
½ cup Italian flavored bread crumbs (regular or gluten free)
1 egg (1/4 cup)

Position oven rack so pan will bake in center.  Preheat to 350 degrees.  

Line a cookie sheet with foil (shiny side up) or baking parchment or mist with cooking spray.

Pulse the oatmeal in the food processor until it’s a fine powder – about 1 minute.

Transfer from processor to medium size bowl.

Pulse the walnuts in the food processor until finely ground – about 1 minute.
Add to oatmeal.

Cut the onion into chunks.  Pulse in the food processor until finely ground and it has released some liquid – about 1 minute.  Add to the oatmeal and walnuts. 

Stir in the bread crumbs & egg. 

Form into balls and place on prepared cookie sheet.  They do not spread so they can be close together.

Bake in preheated oven until very slightly browned on bottom – about 30 minutes. Do not over bake.  

Cool on pan.  

They can be used as soon as they are cool enough to handle.