Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Have You Ever Cut A Mango

Mango Salsas are popular during the summer and mango makes a nice addition to summer salads.  Have you purchased a mango?  Last year, I decide to dry some mangos for a workshop we were having.  This was the first time I purchased one from the store.  I had no idea about the large flat seed in the middle and struggled to cut it without cutting myself.  We also were not sure how to tell if they were ripe.  June is Mango month!  Even though it is almost over mangos are available year round.  This website shows how to select ripe mangos, how to cut them, and has recipes on using mangos.

All About Mangos

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Reduce Food Waste - Make a Salad!-

Making a main dish salad is a great idea for a summer lunch or supper.   Toss assorted bits and pieces of produce lingering in the refrigerator and on your kitchen counter into a salad.  You can cut your own lettuce or use a bag of greens.  Dried fruit, apples or oranges will make a sweet addition.   Pack your salad with nutrition by grating in some cabbage and carrots; while you’re at it, add some grated cheese. Mix in some leftover chicken chunks, bacon strips, or add a can of tuna, and you’ll have a bountiful main dish salad!  Is there a boiled egg add that and maybe some pecans too.  Make your own dressing from from Jelly or Jam you need to use.  

Jam Jar Vinaigrette
1 Tablespoon Jelly, Jam or Marmalade
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard or spicy brown mustard
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar or lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil

Honey Vinaigrette
Have some honey that is starting to crystallize?  Mix it with some malt vinegar.  Try 2 tablespoons of honey and 3 of vinegar, shake in a jar and taste.  If you want it sweeter, add honey.  I use Malt vinegar, but you may experiment with different vinegars or add other flavorings.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Remember Food Safety Rule Apply To Slow Cookers Too!

Slow cookers are a great way to prepare healthy food year round and there are many tasty recipes on the internet for you to try.  But some posted recipes can actually put your family in danger.  Those that are most discerning are the ones suggesting putting frozen food into the slow cooker without thawing first.  This excerpt from a blog post by Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University explains why.

The reality is that putting frozen food in a slow cooker provides an excellent opportunity for bacteria to grow as the food and the slow cooker make their way slowly through the temperature danger zone (TDZ) to a safe minimum internal temperature.   Thawing at room temperature and then putting on low temperature to cook is just asking for trouble with bacteria growth.

I really do love the idea of planning ahead and doing some “mass preparation” to save time and have food ready to go when needed. So, what would make these recipes a little more appealing and safer?
Check out the recipes you’d really like and start with only a few meals. Make sure your family likes the outcomes and that many slow cooked meals before you get a freezer full. This will also eliminate the possibility of overloading the freezer.

Then, freeze the vegetable/seasonings and meat in separate bags. This would allow you to brown the meat before putting it in the slow cooker in the morning. Taking the time to do this can provide better color and flavor to the final product and also it helps speed the meat through the temperature danger zone.

Most of the recipes say to take the bag from the freezer the night before and allow it to thaw in the refrigerator.  While thawing in the refrigerator is the best method, one overnight may not be enough, so you may need to plan ahead a little more.

Use the appropriate packaging materials and then use them for their intended purpose.  There’s no reason that you can’t use slow cooker liners for easy clean-up, they just aren’t intended for freezer storage.

As you’re getting ready in the morning, start the food off on high and then turn it to low before you leave the house. This helps jump start the temperature in the slow cooker and rushes the food through the TDZ.

To read the whole article click here Food Safety and the Slow Cooker

Taco One Skillet Meal

Try this tasty skillet meal when you need a quick dinner idea guaranteed to please your family.

1 pound of ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1 cup converted (quick cooking) brown rice
1 package taco seasoning
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend or cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded lettuce

Optional toppings:
sliced black olives
sour cream

Brown and stir ground beef and onion until the beef is browned, about 5 minutes.  Drain and rinse if desired.  Stir tomatoes, water, rice, and taco seasoning into beef mixture and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until rice is tender, about 25 minutes.  Top with Mexican cheese blend and lettuce before serving.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Reduce Food Waste - Make a Soup

A great way to use meat and vegetables before they spoil is to make a soup.  I often make one on the stove top in a big pot.  I cut up vegetables that need to be used.  Add some potatoes, browned meat and a can of crushed tomatoes and my favorite herbs (Basil, Italian, Chili and Bay).  Add water to cover the vegetables.  Sometimes for a meatier flavor I add a couple of bullion cubes, but if you are watching your salt don't do this.  I simmer about 30 minutes until the potatoes are done.  You can also put your ingredients in a slow cooker and let it cook all day.  This is a great option for our hot days, no need to turn on the stove and heat up the kitchen.  Here is a basic recipe can adapt to use ingredients in your fridge and pantry.  

Clean out the Refrigerator Soup 

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil or margarine in large pan, then add a chopped onion and cloves of garlic.  Saute a few minutes.  Add browned chicken or boneless meat, thinly sliced or finely chopped, and cook, stirring, until browned.  Add firm vegetables as they take the longest to cook.  Cook, stirring, until vegetables are just soft.  Add enough stock or other liquid to cover the vegetable mixture in pan.  Bring the stock to the boil.  Season with salt, pepper and desired flavorings.  Simmer uncovered until vegetables are done.  When grains and vegetables are almost tender, add quick-cooking green vegetables, such as chopped broccoli, spinach, beans, peas, onions, or canned vegetables.

For a tomato-based soup, add a can of undrained crushed tomatoes.  For a hearty soup, add pasta or rice before simmering

If you prefer a thicker, smooth soup, blend or process mixture to the desired consistency.  For a thicker soup with chunks of vegetables, blend only half of the soup until smooth.

A great protein source instead of meat is beans.  If using canned beans or lentils, drain, rinse, then add them.

Season soup with chopped fresh herbs (or a teaspoon of dried) to taste.

If soup needs a little more flavor, add ingredients such as Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, chili sauce, or tomato paste.

If using already cooked pasta or rice put them in at the end.  Just cook long enough to heat up so they do not get mushy. 

Leftovers may be frozen to eat later or refrigerated and heated in the microwave.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Reduce Foods Waste - Eggs

The general guideline is to use eggs within 3–5 weeks after purchasing them for best quality.  Check the sell by date on the carton before purchasing.  Be sure to store them in their container to allow air circulation.  Fresh eggs may be kept longer.   Eggs are versatile and can be used in many ways.  They are an excellent protein source and are low in fat. 

Breakfast for supper is always a taste treat when you have extra eggs to use.  Eggs also make excellent main dishes.   Consider eating them for supper as an omelet, frittata or in a quiche.   They can be made with a variety of meat, vegetables, and cheeses and help you use other leftovers in your refrigerator.

Here is a basic quiche recipe that we used when catering the Extension Association Meeting in May.

3/4 cup half n half, 4 eggs, 1 cup grated cheese beaten together.  In an unbaked pie shell place about 1 1/2 cups of your choice of cube meat and vegetables combination.  Saute the vegetables to soften them and reduce cooking time.  Pour the egg and cheese mixture over and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 1 hour or until set.

Gain extra storage time by boiling the eggs.  Hard-cooked eggs, will keep in their shell for 7 days in a clean covered container in the fridge. They make a quick high quality protein source for a meal such as in main dish salads and sandwiches.

Raw eggs can also be removed from their shells and beaten then frozen in ice cube trays and saved to use in baked goods.  Freeze one egg per cube, so you will not have to measure when you bake.

Canning Basics Workshop

Monday, June 13, 2016

Reduce Food Waste - Fruits

Look for creative ways to use ripe fruit so it does not go to waste.  Here are some suggestions
  • Chop and combine those last pieces of fruit into some oatmeal or cold cereal.
  • Add fruit to plain yogurt with a little honey and a splash of vanilla.
  • Blend fruit and yogurt to makes a tasty dressing. 
  • Freeze bananas and berries and use them to make smoothies.
  • Fruit can be baked into cookies or muffins for a sweet treat.
  • Make a fruit salad.
 Tasty Fruit Salad with Yogurt Dressing

1 1/2 cups seedless grapes or strawberries, halved
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 apple or pear, cored and chopped
1 orange, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup blackberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 (8 ounce) container vanilla yogurt
Mint for garnish
Mix grapes, celery, apple, orange slices, blackberries, and walnuts in a large bowl; add yogurt and stir to coat.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the salad is chilled, at least 30 minutes.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Reduce Food Waste - Cheese

Never waste cheese again.  Before it begins to mold.  Grate cheeses and place in labeled bags in the freezer for quick topping to salads and pasta dishes.

Use up those odds and ends of harder cheeses by shredding them with a grater or in a food processor. Check your refrigerator for other ingredients to include such as olives, pickles, pimientos, walnuts, red or green peppers, etc.; add low-fat mayonnaise to bind ingredients and use as a sandwich spread.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Clean out the Fridge Casserole


(Makes 6 servings)
Make your own casserole from what’s on-hand using these basic ingredients. Select food(s) from each category or use your own favorites.
Starch — select ONE:
  • 2 cups uncooked pasta (macaroni, penne, spiral, bow tie), COOKED
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white or brown rice, COOKED
  • 4 cups uncooked noodles, COOKED
Protein — select ONE:
  • 2 cups cooked ground beef 
  •  2 cups cooked and diced chicken, turkey, ham, beef or pork 
  • 2 cups chopped hard-cooked egg 
  • 2 cans (6–8 ounce) fish or seafood, flaked 
  • 2 cups cooked or canned dry beans (kidney, etc.) 
Vegetable — select ONE:
  • 1 package (10 ounce) thawed and drained frozen spinach, broccoli, green beans, green peas 
  • 1 can (16 ounce) green beans, peas, carrots, corn, drained 
  • 2 cups sliced fresh zucchini 
Sauce — select ONE:
  • 2 cups white sauce or 1 can sauce-type soup (mushroom, celery, cheese, tomato, etc.) mixed with milk to make 2 cups 
  • 1 can (16 ounce) diced tomatoes with juice 
Flavor — select ONE or MORE:
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1/4 cup chopped onion, 1/4 cup sliced black olives 
  • 1–2 teaspoons mixed dried leaf herbs (basil, thyme, marjoram, tarragon) 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
Topping — select ONE or MORE (if desired after heating, place on top):
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Swiss, Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup buttered bread crumbs
  • 1/4–1/2 cup canned fried onion rings 
  1. Combine in a buttered 2 to 2-1/2 quart casserole dish. 
  2. Cover and bake at 350°F for about 50 minutes to 1 hour or microwave using 50% power for about 15–30 minutes, rotating or stirring as necessary. 
  3. Heat until steaming hot (165°F) throughout. 
  4. Return casserole with topping(s), uncovered, to oven for about 10 minutes or to microwave for about 2 minutes.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Reduce Food Waste - Bread

Americans throw away hundreds of dollars of food each year.  During June we will look at ways to reduce the amount of wasted food and save money. 

Do you have some stale bread?  Before it molds or goes sour look for ways to repurpose from the usual sandwich or toast.  

Transform slightly dried-out bread into croutons: Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly brush top side of bread with olive oil or even margarine. If desired, sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes, leaving the crusts on. Spread in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake on middle shelf of the oven for 5–10 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. No need to turn croutons during baking.  Once dry you can store in a container or bag in the freezer.

Bread crumbs are handy for many dishes.  Pop your older bread into a bag in the freezer.  When you have several pieces stored up, process them in your food processor until they are fine crumbs similar to those you buy at the the store.  If you want to have seasoned crumbs, add some Italian Seasoning to the mix.  Store in a jar.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Roasted Cauliflower with Spiced Tomato Sauce

Here is a tasty low carb snack to take to your next cookout.
Gobi Manchurian is a popular Indian dish that calls for deep-frying heavily-spiced cauliflower. This healthy makeover keeps the spice and flavorful sauce, but bakes the veggies instead to keep their nutrition benefits intact. Cauliflower is a mild cruciferous vegetable; diets containing non-starchy veggies are linked to lower risk for certain cancers.

Roasted Cauliflower with Spiced Tomato Sauce
Makes 6 Servings
Per serving: 92 calories, 5 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 11 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 275 mg sodium
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp. ground pepper, preferably white
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil, divided
  • 7-8 cups medium cauliflower florets (from a 2¼ – 2½ lb. cauliflower head)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic
  • 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce, no salt added
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. raw sugar
  • 2 tsp. white distilled vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In large mixing bowl, combine cumin, coriander, cardamom, ground pepper and 1 tablespoon oil. Add cauliflower and with your hands, toss and rub to coat florets, 1 minute.

Line 11-inch x 15-inch jelly roll pan with foil. Coat foil with cooking spray. Arrange seasoned cauliflower in one layer on pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Stir, then bake 10 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, in small saucepan, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, vinegar, cloves, cayenne and salt and mix to combine. Cook until sauce bubbles vigorously around edges of pot.

Spoon tomato sauce over cauliflower on pan and mix with spatula until florets are well coated, 1 minute. Roast cauliflower 10 minutes. Stir, and bake until florets are tender, about 5 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Preventing Stomach Cancer

Summer is here and that often mean more sandwiches, picnics, and grilled meals which can add to your risk for stomach cancers.  The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) latest report on stomach cancer found three major factors contributing to cancer risk.  These are alcohol consumption, eating processed meats and obesity.

In the United States, if we did not have more than three alcoholic drinks a day, did not eat processed meat and were a healthy weight, an estimated one in seven stomach cancer cases could be prevented. That’s approximately 4,000 stomach cancer cases every year that would not happen.  As a side benefit, if they take these steps to reduce stomach cancer, they may also help prevent many others.

1. Get to and stay a healthy weight  
Evidence in the new report makes stomach cancer the 11th cancer linked to being overweight or obese. Other cancers linked to excess body fat include colorectal, post-menopausal breast and ovarian.

2. Cut your hot dogs, bacon and other processed meats
Stomach cancer is now the second cancer linked to eating processed meats regularly, even small amounts. Previous AICR research found convincing evidence that processed meat is a cause of colorectal caner, the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States.

There are several reason why processed meats could increase risk. One hypothesis is that the preservatives in these meats, such as nitrates and nitrites, lead to carcinogenic compounds, which damage the stomach lining in a way that could lead to cancer.

3. If you do enjoy alcohol, drink moderately
Drinking three alcoholic drinks or more per day increases the risk of stomach cancers, the report concluded. The risk is most apparent in men, as well as smokers and ex-smokers.

Stomach cancer joins a group of others linked to drinking alcohol, including cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, breast, liver and colorectal cancer. And, like stomach cancer, research shows that alcohol is particularly harmful when combined with smoking.

For cancer prevention, AICR recommends not to drink alcohol. Modest amounts of alcohol may play a protective role in heart disease. For those who do drink, AICR recommends that men have no more than two drinks a day and women no more than one a day.