Thursday, October 14, 2010

Shitake Mushrooms from Sharonview Farms

 Fresh Shitake Mushrooms Just Picked from the Log

Somebody brought logs to the Waxhaw Farmers' Market on Saturday. Not just any old logs, but four-foot long hardwood logs all propped up neatly in a row, and adorned with the most beautiful shitake mushrooms I've ever seen. Teri (the proprietress of the booth) invited me to pick the mushrooms, and I could barely contain my be the one to actually harvest these perfect mushrooms, and then TASTE them. Ohhhhh.....I barely made it to the car before tearing open the cute little mushroom-decorated brown paper bag and popping a tantalizing treasure into my mouth. Meaty, tender, sweet, earthy essence....everything store-bought mushrooms had ever promised but never delivered. I will never again be satisfied with harvesting from the grocery store.

Having a supply of mushrooms this fresh and to be able to pick them is a rare privilege, one that I just had to share with you before the harvest season is over. You can meet Teri or her fiance, Nasi, at the Waxhaw Farmers' Market on Saturday mornings, or call them at Sharonview Farm at 843-602-8593. The farm is at 4114 Crow Rd., Monroe, NC 28112, and if you'd rather use email, their address is Oh, and you don't have to pick the shitake if you don't want to, they will be happy to pick them for you. If you're a personal chef or want to order a larger quantity for your restaurant, they'll make arrangements for you to get what you need. If you live far away, check with them because maybe they'll even be able to ship them to you. Better get 'em before they're gone! (Recipe for Chicken with Shitakes &; Capers in the next post!)

Sharonview Farm
4114 Crow Rd.
Monroe, NC 28112

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fiesta Vegetable Soup

An end-of-the-garden soup!

Ever hear of nopalitos? They are the leaves of the prickly pear cactus, and I never in a million years would have known what to do with them until I visited friends in Mexico a few years ago and was introduced to them in soups, stews, salads, and even juices. Our Mexican friend said that according to folklore, napoles (the cactus leaves) help to prevent bladder cancer. I just think they are a tasty addition to many dishes. A bonus is that they are very low in calories and fat free.

I'm so glad that you can purchase nopalitos already cleaned and jarred, because I really don't think I'd take the time to find them fresh, remove the spines, and peel them. You can find them in jars (see above photo) in Wal-Mart and almost all the grocery stores, and all you have to do is dump them in a strainer and rinse the salty brine off, and they are recipe-ready. Today, I even diced some up and added them to tuna salad, and it was delicious. They don't have a strong flavor, just add that salty kind of bite that capers add to dishes. Oh, and in this soup they look like green beans. I doubt anyone will notice there are cactus leaves in your soup!

Fiesta Vegetable Soup

1 T. olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 medium green bell peppers
2 medium red bell peppers
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2-1 tsp. red pepper flakes
4 c. chicken or vegetable stock (this is a vegetarian dish if you use vegetable stock)
1 pound fresh tomatillos, husked, 1/2 inch dice
2 c. napolitos (from jar), rinsed well, drained, and coarsely chopped
28 oz. canned diced tomatoes, undrained
3 cans black beans, rinsed well and drained
2 tsp. salt
6 dashes liquid smoke flavoring (you can leave this out, but I think it adds something important)
Garnishes: shredded cheese, fresh cilantro leaves, sour cream or Greek yogurt

Coat the bottom of a 6-8 quart heavy bottomed stock pot with thin layer of olive oil. Heat to shimmering, then add onions, garlic, peppers, and herbs and spices. Saute, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom, till vegetables are tender.

Add two cups of stock and tomatillos; simmer for 5 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients; bring to simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes, until all vegetables are tender and soup has thickened a bit. Adjust seasoning if needed and serve. Garnish as desired. Serves 8
Freezes great!

(About 350 calories per serving without the garnishes.)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Margarita Jell-O Shots

I was at a parade a couple years ago where the revelers were passing out Jell-O shots in actual syringes, but this is just as much fun and not as scary!

Margarita Jell-O™ ShotsMakes 12 (2-ounce) shots

1 (3 ounce) box lime Jell-O™ sugar free gelatin powder (or other flavor of your choice)
1 cup water
¾ cup white tequila
¼ cup Triple Sec
12 (2 oz.) sample containers with lids (get these at P&J Sales in Lancaster on Memorial Park Rd.)

Place water in 2-cup glass measuring cup and microwave till boiling. Remove from microwave and stir in Jell-O™ powder till dissolved. Cool to room temperature and stir in tequila and Triple Sec. Pour into cups, seal, and refrigerate till set. Transport in large zippy bag on ice till ready to serve.

Note: To eat, run your finger around the edge and pop the shot into your mouth. Please eat responsibly! Make fruit-filled, non-alcoholic “shots” for children and others who don’t want the alcohol.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Foxy Chicken Chili for Tailgating

Here's a super easy and money-saving recipe for you to try and your friends and family to enjoy! Use all store-brand canned goods and there's no need to invest in a lot of bottles of spices, because you use pre-mixed seasoning packets. If you make your own chicken stock (as I do), that will save even more of your food budget dollars. If you buy stock, make sure that it is a good quality. That is one thing I don't skimp on. As an experiment, I've tried store brand stock and it doesn't have much flavor. Get Swanson or Kitchen Basics stock or broth.

Foxy Chicken Chile
(If you’re a Gamecock fan, just substitute turkey or lean ground beef.)
Makes 1 gallon & freezes well

2 pounds ground chicken, turkey, or 95% lean ground beef
1 cup chopped white onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped zucchini or yellow squash
2 envelopes original ranch dressing mix (the powder)
2 envelopes 40% reduced-sodium taco seasoning mix
1 can (14 ½ oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 ½ oz.) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 ½ oz.) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans (14 ½ oz. each) diced tomatoes with green chiles
2 cans (14 ½ oz. each) whole kernel corn, drained
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
Garnishes: shredded Cabot reduced fat cheddar cheese, Greek-style nonfat yogurt, sliced green onions, baked tortilla chips, pickled jalapeno slices

In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed stock pot, cook meat, onion, pepper, and squash, stirring frequently, until meat is cooked through with no pink remaining. Add remaining ingredients except for garnish. Cover and bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

Fill insulated containers with boiling water and allow to set for 15 minutes. Drain water from containers and fill with piping hot chili; seal and transport. Transfer any leftovers to smaller containers and place in ice-filled cooler to keep cold till you get home.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Spicy Veggie & Bean Quesadillas~Another healthful, easy, and inexpensive meal!

This sure doesn't taste like health food: a plate full of delicious quesadillas!
What do we do with all the tomatillos our two little garden plants are producing? I got in the kitchen yesterday to start figuring that out and ended up with a plate full of really delicious quesadillas. The recipe is at the end of this post, but I wanted you first to see how lovely fresh tomatillos are.

A close up of chopped tomatillos.

This is my "mise en place" for the quesadillas.
All these vegetables are so good for you!

Et Voila!!! (or maybe I should exclaim ¡Y AquĆ­!)

Spicy Veggie Quesadillas

Serves 6 as a main dish or 12 as a snack
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained (about 10 ounces of cooked beans)
1 cup chopped bell peppers, any color
1 cup chopped onion (yellow, white, purple, or Vidalia)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded, ribs removed, and minced (add more or less to suit your taste)
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Canola oil spray
1 c. chopped tomatoes (cut them in half first across the equator and gently squeeze out seeds before chopping)
1 c. chopped tomatillos
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
Juice of one lime
3 c. shredded cheese of choice (reduced fat Cabot's cheddar is delicious in this)
12 whole grain flour tortillas, about 8 inches (I used Harris Teeter brand, each is 100 cal. & 5 g. protein)

Spray nonstick skillet with canola spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add pinto beans, bell pepper, onion, jalapeno pepper, and garlic to pan. Saute until vegetables begin to soften. Stir in chile powder, cumin, and salt, and saute for 2 more minutes. The vegetables should be crisp/tender.Spoon vegetables into a bowl. Stir in tomatoes, tomatillos, cilantro, and lime juice.

Heat a dry skillet or griddle over medium heat and place tortillas on surface. Distribute 1/4 c. of the shredded cheddar cheese over the surface of each tortilla. Spoon 1/4 c. of the vegetable mixture on one half of each tortilla.
When the cheese begins to melt on the tortilla, gently fold that side over the vegetable side and lightly press down.
Continue to cook the tortilla till it is golden brown on the pan side, then turn it over to lightly brown the other side.
When golden brown on both sides, remove tortillas to a cutting board.
Cut each tortilla into 3 wedges and serve with a garnish of 1 teaspoon sour cream mixed with 3 tablespoons of tomatillo salsa (salsa verde). Salsa verde is very low calorie, and by combining the salsa with a tiny bit of sour cream, you get the satisfaction of both without the giant dollop of sour cream.

Nutrition (per two, as prepared here; your choices of cheese and tortillas will affect the nutrition content):
406 cal., 10g fat (23% cal from fat), 28g protein

Monday, July 12, 2010

Foxy Tomatillo Sauce

Add abundant flavor to grilled chicken breasts, lean pork tenderloin, and seafood, or use as a very healthy dip for tortilla chips.

Lovely fresh tomatillos in their husks. When peeled, they look like green tomatoes,
but they are not in the tomato family. They are easy to find in grocery stores.
They also are very easy to grow in the garden and are prolific producers.

Peel the husks back to reveal the fruit, then wash it in cool water to remove the
sticky residue
on its surface. There is no need to core these little beauties.

Tomatillo Sauce

1 pound tomatillos, husks removed, quartered
1 medium onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic
1/2 medium jalapeno pepper, seeds removed if desired (omit this entirely if you don't like the heat)
1 handful cilantro (I use the stems only since they are full of flavor and will be pureed anyway)
1/2 cup of filtered water (preferred over tap water)
1 rounded teaspoon of powdered chicken bouillon

Combine all of the above (except the lime juice) in a saucepan; cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the onions are soft. Allow to cool a bit and then puree in a blender. Cool and refrigerate or freeze till ready to use.

Use this as a dip, as a flavoring ingredient in soups and stews, or as a sauce for chicken, pork, seafood, and eggs. This entire quantity contains only about 200 calories, so enjoy all this guilt-free flavor!


Monday, July 5, 2010

Foxy Pimiento Cheese: The Perfect Condiment for Perfectly Ripe Tomatoes

Foxy Pimiento Cheese is a delicious blend of sharp cheddar and mild bleu....and a "secret" ingredient that nobody will ever guess!

Top perfectly ripe tomatoes or stuff cherry tomatoes with this delicious pimiento cheese
that is a quick, make-ahead dish for entertaining or every day sandwiches and snacks.

Foxy Pimiento Cheese
(Makes about 4 cups)

12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (may use a good brand of pre-shredded cheese)
4 ounces mild bleu cheese, grated (mild bleu cheese will not have many bleu veins, I use the Harris Teeter Fresh Foods Market Brie)
4 ounce jar of chopped pimientos, undrained (see tip below)
3/4-1 cup good quality mayonnaise (such as Hellman's)
1/4-1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper (restaurant grind, to taste)
1/2 teaspoon Texas Pete hot pepper sauce, or to taste
1 teaspon A-1 Steak Sauce (this is the secret ingredient!!)

-In a large bowl, combine cheeses and pimientos and stir till combined.
-In a small bowl, combine 3/4 cup mayo and remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
-Fold mayo mixture into the cheese until completely incorporated.
-Mixture should be very creamy and not dry. Add the remaining 1/4 cup mayo if necessary.
-Refrigerate overnight for best flavor. The cheese spread will tighten up with refrigeration. If you find that it is too
  thick because you didn't add the extra 1/4 cup of the mayo, just go ahead and stir it in.
Pimiento cheese and pickled okra are a tradition in the South.

Our favorite brand of pickled okra (next to our homemade) is Talk 'o Texas.

Find jarred pimiento cheese on the vegetable ailse in your grocery store, instead of the pickle aisle. You can substitute roasted red peppers if you can't find pimientos, but the flavor will be different.