Monday, August 30, 2010

Vege Mix

Three good reasons to try this recipe:

1. Tomatoes, corn, and okra are still plentiful at the market;
2. Their flavors complement one another; and
3. This recipe is from my Southern Living cookbook (can't go wrong with Southern Living).

3 cups sliced okra
2 cups fresh cut corn
4-5 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Thoroughtly rinse and drain okra. Combine first six ingredients in a large skillet; cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with bacon and serve. It just doesn't get any easier than this!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Crunchalicious

Crunchalicious. That's the best way to describe this summer's pickling cucumbers, cukes as we like to call them. Although they are mostly used for pickling, they also add crunch to a salad or vege tray. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil vinaigrette or a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar over a sliced cuke for a delicious, low calorie side. Dill is a great herb to compliment the flavor of cukes.

When shopping for cukes look for firmness and a good green color. Don't be scared off by whitish or light green spots - that's normal. You don't want cukes that are withered or shriveled, dull or yellowed, or soft. That's a sign that they've been picked a while, or left on the vine too long. Cukes will stay fresh for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. So, head on out to the market and stock up for the week.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Red Pepper Follow Up

Well, I haven't had my stir fry, but I did dice some of the red pepper and added it to a salad. It IS sweet and has less of that "peppery-pepper" taste of green pepper. Delicious!

I've also taken-a-liking-to fried okra. (A true southerner will love anything fried.) Seriously, though, while I like the smell of okra, the texture has always been a bit too slimy for my taste. But I decided to give it another try and, lo and behold, after sitting in corn meal batter for about 15 minutes, and being fried to a golden brown, those little bits have become a new favorite.

I challenge you to try a new vegetable this week. I've heard it said (don't know how true it is, but I believe it) that your taste buds change about every 7 years. So, something that you might not have liked as a child you may enjoy now. Take a trip to the market and pick out something fresh and new, dig around on the internet (or my blog) for an easy recipe, and give it a try. Leave comments about your experience.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bell Pepper

It might surprise you to know that a green bell pepper is packed with more Vitamin C than an orange, and as it matures into a red pepper the Vitamin C increases by15%. Bell peppers are also loaded with antioxidants, and who doesn't want those powerful cancer-fighting agents swimming in his body!

North Carolina is one of the top five bell pepper producing states, and the farmer's market has a large supply now that it's prime pepper-picking season. Yesterday as I watched people shop I noticed that the red peppers are most popular, followed by the yellow, then the green. So, I did a little research (i.e. asking the customers) to determine why this was so (because personally I prefer the green). No one said anything about the health benefits of the peppers. No! Instead, it was all about taste. The red peppers won out for being the sweetest. So, I decided to give the red peppers a try. I'm planning a stir fry, and I'll blog to let you know if the red peppers win 1st place in my heart.

Ever wonder about why the peppers are different colors? All the peppers start out green. If left on the vine to mature, they will begin to turn yellow, then orange, and eventually red. Even after picking they will continue to ripen, but not as much as if left on the vine. Which is your favorite, and why? Any great pepper-stuffing recipes you'd like to share? Leave comments. I'm taking a poll.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mama's Fried Chicken

One of my best friends swears no one can fry chicken as good as my mom and me and has asked me to post our secrets for frying chicken. Here's what my mama taught me.

1. Always use fresh, never-been-frozen, chicken for frying.
2. Cut the fryer into two legs, two thighs, two breasts, two wings, and the back. Do not remove the skin, and fry all the pieces together. The juices from the skin and dark meat add to the flavor of the white meat.
3. Salt and pepper chicken; batter with self-rising flour.
4. Use an electric skillet. Pour cooking oil up to 3/4" depth. I prefer canola oil; mama uses vegetable.
5. Keep lid on skillet while frying. Start at a higher temperature (400) for about 7-10 minutes; then, lower the temperature to 350. It takes at least 30-40 minutes for chicken to cook completely.

Eat and enjoy southern fried chicken the way it's supposed to taste!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Subtle Change 7

I'm back from vacation, and I must admit eating healthy at restaurants can be rather tricky. While most places offer a main course of meat with baked potato, white rice or fries, and bread, I'm more than tempted to flavor the baked potato with butter, sour cream, cheese, and bacon bits; and white rice is...well...white because it has been stripped of all its nutritional value.

I have discovered that sweet potatoes yield a delicious flavor without adding calorie-laden toppings. Loaded with vitamins A and C and potassium, sweet potatoes are also high in fiber and beta-carotene, which has been linked to preventing heart disease and cancers. Brown rice is more flavorful than white and is an excellent source of fiber and certain minerals that reduce the risk of colon cancer.

So, my most recent subtle change, and challenge to you, is to eat more sweet potatoes and brown rice. Your body will thank you!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Proper Storage of Food

I just lost a perfectly good pint of peas simply because I didn't store them properly. Peas purchased at Wise Farms are presented to you in a plastic ziploc bag. When you get home immediately rinse beans and store in a bowl covered with water in the refrigerator until you cook them. They will stay fresh like this for a day or two. I neglected to take my peas out of the bag that I bought on Saturday, and tonight they had soured. What a waste!

If you have any questions or suggestions about proper storage of fresh vegetables leave a comment.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Easy Zucchini Bread

The hotter the weather the faster the zucchini grows. I remember picking the vines clean in the morning only to find the vines covered with zucchini ready for picking the next morning. What's a girl to do with all that fresh zucchini? Why bake easy zucchini bread, of course. This recipe yields 2 loaves.

1 package spice cake mix
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup chopped pecans

Beat cake mix, milk, oil, and eggs at low speed with electric mixer for 30 seconds. Then, increase to medium speed and beat 1 minute, scraping bottom and sides of bowl.

Stir in zucchini and 2/3 cup pecans. Pour batter into 2 (9"x5") lightly greased loaf pans. Sprinkle remaining pecans evenly over batter.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes until wooden pick comes out clean.

Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire rack and let cool another 15 minutes before slicing.