Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Cold Soup for Hot Days - Chilled Red Pepper Soup

It's too hot to cook.
Maybe too hot to even eat.
But, no, not really. 

Come dinner time and they’ll all be hungry.

It may be too hot to cook but it's never too hot to eat.

How about a chilled soup?
Refined.  Refreshing.  Yummy.

Keep a jar of roasted red peppers on your pantry shelf and some cream or evaporated milk in the fridge, and you can whip this up without breaking a sweat.

A wonderful starter for a grilled steak dinner.
Lovely for lunch.  
Perfect to pack for picnics, polo or the races.

Purists will want to roast their own red peppers which is always OK if you happen to have the grill going but turn on the oven?   In this heat?   No thank you.

You'd pay a small fortune for a tiny cup of this incredible tasting - so easy to make cold soup at any fancy restaurant or trendy bistro.  Once you see how easy (and inexpensive) it is to make, you won't want to waste your money!

All your gourmet pals will be whispering that you must have learned the recipe at a fancy cooking school.    

It's just panache in a flash!

Chilled Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Use a stationary or immersion blender to puree the soup.
The food processor does not get it smooth enough.
Can be made a day in advance.


Makes 4 (half cup) servings
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking not required


1 (12 oz.) jar roasted red peppers (water or brine 
packed - not vinegar packed – drained but not rinsed)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (room temperature)
3/4 cup light/coffee cream/half & half or 1 (12-14 oz) can evaporated milk (undiluted)

Puree everything together until very smooth.  Chill.

Optional garnish – Sprinkle with some finely minced fresh chives if you happen to have them on hand or in the garden.

Karla's tip: Roasted red peppers are sometimes called "fire roasted" red peppers. Whatever they're called, they're mild bell peppers and have a slight smoky taste.   Do not use hot peppers.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Healing Spices

Fill Your Life With Good Taste
And Good Health

Long ago, spices were brought to Europe from far off places on the backs of animals and in wagons. They were so important to the Europeans, that adventurers sailed the seas in search of shorter, cheaper spice trade routes.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Cinnamon and nutmeg laced
home made apple pie -
Now that's good medicine!
Today, modern transportation has made the treasures of long ago so much cheaper that we take spices for granted.  

We've forgotten that in addition to flavor, spices are also healing and medicinal.

The most familiar spice in American cuisine is cinnamon.  We love the taste in gooey breakfast buns, homemade apple pie and luscious coffee cakes but, in addition to good taste, cinnamon relieves allergies, eases pain, slows bacterial growth, controls blood sugar and helps you relax after a hectic day.  That's a pretty impressive. 

When we think of cayenne (red) pepper we think of spicy chili, jambalaya and bloody Marys but we rarely think that cayenne is lowering our cholesterol and triglycerides with every bite.  Cayenne is used topically, too, in warming ointments that are rubbed on the body to ease arthritis or sports injury pain.

Who know good health could taste this good!!
Ginger (as in ginger ale) is best known for settling upset stomachs and bringing down fevers but this healthful spice also helps prevent arterial plaque.   A favorite ingredient in pan Asian recipes, you can feel healthier for each bite of Thai, Chinese or Japanese food you enjoy.

Less common to American cuisine are cardamom (fights bronchitis), cloves (prevent clots), fennel (breaks up coughs), fenugreek (controls blood sugar) and turmeric (fights cancer and Alzheimer's disease) but they are none the less healing spices, worth their weight in gold.

Add some healing spices to your kitchen pantry to spice up your recipes and bring good health to your table.


Honey Cayenne Thai Salad Dressing
Especially good over a cold cellophane noodle salad.

Makes about 3/4 cup

1/3 cup lime juice (2 to 3 limes depending on size)
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)

Whisk everything together.  Refrigerate to blend flavors.

Karla's tip: Thai fish sauce is a bottled condiment available in the oriental food sections of most grocery stores.

Cardamom Coffee
Add a haunting lemon-lavender taste to your morning brew with a pinch of ground cardamom.  Sweeten to taste and add milk, if desired.

Spiced Up Veggies
Sprinkle cooked orange vegetables (like carrots, winter squash, pumpkin or sweet potatoes) with pumpkin pie spice for a healthy dose of cinnamon and cloves. Drizzle with a little melted butter, honey and or brown sugar, if desired. 

Spices add health and good taste
 to all your cooking
Ginger Lemon Tea 
Per cup: Put 1 (3 inch piece) of crystallized ginger into an 8 oz. cup of water and microwave till steaming. 

Add a thin slice of lemon and, if desired, sweeten with honey or raw sugar.

For an extra treat (and extra dose of good health) nibble on the ginger when you're done sipping.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Cool as a Cucumber - No Can Pickles!

Love the idea of canning but can't stand the thought of spending the day over a hot steaming kettle?

Then this recipe is just for you!
It's an oh so easy, no canning required, solution to home made pickles.

Just like Granny's but much, much easier.
Old fashioned comfort food that whips up a small, modern family, size batch in no time flat.

And, if you use a canning jar to store these pickles, they'll think you went to an awful lot of work and trouble.... just the kind of recipe I like!!

"Un-Canny" Quick Sweet Pickles
Real "Bread & Butter" pickle taste without canning!

Makes about 1-1/2 cups pickles

1 pound pickling cucumbers  (See Karla's tips below)
1 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

Wash cucumbers well under tepid running water.  Drain. 

Trim about 1/4 inch off each end of each cucumber removing both the stem and blossom ends. Discard trimmings. 

Slice cucumbers 1/4 inch thick.  Put slices into a heat safe bowl. Cover slices with boiling water.  Let sit, lightly covered, at room temperature 2 hours.

Drain cucumbers. Do not rinse. Pack slices into a canning jar or other heat safe container with a tight fitting lid.

Combine remaining ingredients in a pot. Cover. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, to dissolve sugar. 

Pour boiling liquid over cucumber slices. Cool slightly and cap. 

Refrigerate at least over night before eating to allow flavors to develop. 

Keeps several weeks in the refrigerator.  Do not store at room temperature.

Karla's Tips:

It is important too use "pickling cucumbers" when making pickles. If you use "salad cucumbers" the pickling brine will not penetrate the cucumber properly. 

Pickling cucumbers are not waxed.
Most grocery store cucumbers are called "salad" cucumbers.  

Salad cucumbers are waxed to prevent moisture loss.  
The wax on salad cucumbers may not always be visible.

Pickling cucumbers are small (about 4 inches in length or less) and stocky.
Their seeds are small and tightly connected to each other.

Salad cucumbers come in all sizes, shapes and lengths.

Upscale grocery stores sometimes stock or can order pickling cucumbers.  Ask if you do not see them.

Farmers' Markets are usually the best place to get pickling cucumbers.

Friday, July 7, 2017

8 Easy Ways To Dish Up Good Health

Don't scare them with good nutrition
Just put the food on the table .......

What they don't know will help them!

If you're in charge of the grocery shopping and the cooking then you're in charge of what the family eats.  It's time to dish up a little good health.   Here's how:

1.  Sneak in whole grains
Add a little wheat germ or whole wheat flour into quick breads, yeast breads, and pancakes. Serve whole wheat or part whole wheat pasta.  Add a little dry, old fashioned style oatmeal to meatloaf.  Crumble a slice or two of whole wheat toast to sprinkle over vegetables and casseroles.  Serve brown rice instead of white. They'll never know the difference.

2.  Keep dinner light
Your family doesn't need to eat a heavy meal at night then go to sleep. Soups, salads, eggs, vegetarian pasta even pancakes make delicious fare will let them (and you) sleep better.  Better sleep makes everyone happier and healthier.

3.  Serve raw fruits and vegetables every day
Salads, sprouts, lettuce and tomato on sandwiches, freshly squeezed juices, gazpacho from raw vegetables, fresh lemon juice spritzed on cooked fish - choose whatever you like. The important thing is to have some raw fruits and vegetables each day.  Raw produce provides enzymes that your body needs.  Cooking, processing, and packaging destroys enzymes.

4.  Get out of your rut
There's a whole world of delicious eating out there!  A good rule of thumb for meals is to serve a protein, a starch, two vegetables (one yellow or orange and one green) and a fruit.  Put them together in different ways.  Casseroles, crepes, soups, salads, pizza, dessert - have fun.

5.  Update and experiment
Reduce the amount of sugar, fat and salt in recipes.  Add new ingredients like dried fruit, nuts and seeds.  Start slowly and in small amounts.  See if you like the results then go from there.  Keep quiet about your healthy changes and your family won't notice a difference.

6.  Reduce sugar but don't use artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are poor substitutes for sugar, don't satisfy your sweet tooth and are linked to lots of health problems. 

Read labels and choose low sugar or no sugar foods.  There's tons of them out there right next to your usual brands. Breakfast cereals, pasta sauce, juice, canned or frozen vegetables, salad dressings  - everything.   Serve low sugar desserts like baked apples, unfrosted cakes and home baked pies with reduced amounts of sugar.

7.  Stock the house with healthy (or at least healthier) snacks
The world is full of junk food (and there's plenty of opportunities to eat it) so concentrate on good foods at home. Baked chips, whole grain crackers, low salt pretzels, salsa, fresh veggies, nuts, cheese, fruit, pudding, yogurt - you know what's good for them. All they really want is something quick to grab.

8.  Skip soda
Soda should never be served as a beverage - not even diet soda.  If you don't buy it, they won't be drinking it - at least not at home. 

And while you're at it, skip all those sweetened soft drinks including bottled iced tea and lemonade.  Home made iced tea and lemonade is better tasting, low (or no) sugar and you'll save a bundle on your grocery bill.