Friday, June 29, 2012

Vegetables in the sun, feeling good all day long...

Another day is upon us and I have so many different ideas going through my head that it is hard to keep them organized!! I have been meaning to write about the importance of fresh vegetables for over a week. So today as I am sitting down to write, I promise to not get distracted by ANYTHING else!!
mmmm, look it is a cupcake from Cupcake Mojo...see what I mean, so easy to get distracted by the things around me. It is also yet another reason why I love what I am doing. The world of food is so fascinating and vast it is hard to stay on task with so much to talk about. Vegetables make up a good sized portion of that world. You can write books on what the differences are between fruits and veggies. Try these out and see if you know which is a fruit, a vegetable or maybe neither one..ready, set, go!!

Bell Pepper

These are the kind of things that are great trivia when you are out having drinks with a group of friends. When it comes to dinner at home, the information may not be as valuable...although it does make you think about what you may be able to trick your kids into eating!!

We have plenty of reasons to eat vegetables. Fresher is always better. Vegetables, just like fruit are low in fat but contain a vast array of vitamins and minerals that are healthy for us. Green, yellow and orange vegetables are full of calcium, iron, and magnesium along with vitamins A, C, K and B-complex. All of which are essential to maintaning a healthy body and providing energy to get through our days. For all of the calorie conscious people who are reading, did you know that vegetables are a great source of what is known as negative calorie foods? The body spends energy to digest foods, however when you eat vegetables, the low calorie counts actually cause you to lose even more weight. The body still works hard to digest the foods, the same as it would to digest higher calorie food...We all know that a cupcake has more calories then those carrot sticks, however your body spends energy the same way to digest them. So when you consume those carrot sticks with the lower calorie count, you gain a boost because your body is still spending the same amount of energy.

Take these baby carrots, coat with some olive oil,
salt, pepper & garlic. Toss them into the oven at
400 degrees for about 20 to 30 minutes!
Speaking of carrots, they are an amazing source of Vitamin A and the compounds in carrots help fight certain types of skin and lung cancers. Carrots also have a negligible amount of fat and zero cholesterol. A close friend of the carrot, asparagus is another great idea for the plate. A great source of antioxidants, which help remove free radicals from our bodies, asparagus can help prevent possible cancers, neuro-degenerative diseases and viral infections. It is also a good source of the minerals copper and iron. Copper is a staple for producing red blood cells and iron helps with cellular respiration. Just like carrots, you end up burning more calories eating it then there actually are in the asparagus.

Fresh vegetables can be combined into some amazing recipes as well. This is one of my favorites and allows for adding items into the mix to suit your own tastes. It can also be a full meal instead of just a snack with the addition of some quick oven baked pita chips.

Roasted Red Pepper Salsa

2  Red Peppers, roasted and skinned
2  Vine Ripened Tomatoes
1/2 Sweet Onion, Vidalia
1  Green Pepper
2  Jalapenos
1 1/2 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Tbs Garlic
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
3 Tbs Fresh Basil

This is a super easy recipe and is full of vitamins, minerals and other great stuff. First off roast the red peppers over an open flame. This is done by simply placing a whole pepper on a grill and turning it as each side begins to blacken. Depending on the size of the pepper it will only take a few minutes for each side. You can also buy the peppers at the supermarket already prepared for you. If you do get the ones in the jar, then eliminate the olive oil in the recipe. In a glass or plastic bowl you are going to add all the ingredients. The red and green peppers are going to be chopped into bite sized pieces. Add to this the onion, tomato and jalapenos, these should also be chopped into bite sized pieces. The garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper go right into the same bowl. Take the basil and cut it into thin strips. Now place the basil into the bowl. Stir it all together and the salsa is done. Do not use a food processor on the salsa, leave the bite sized pieces just the way they are. For some added fun, separate pita bread and cut into triangle wedges. Baste the wedges with a mix of garlic and olive oil. Toast them in a 375 degree oven for about 5 minutes, making instant and flavorful chips that will support the weight of all that salsa goodness.

Starting this weekend is a 3 part series on Mind and Mood Foods. Need some brain energy, boost the metabolism or feeling come some quick and simple solutions along with recipe ideas to help out. I am also going to take everyone on a field trip to the deck outside of my home to chat about planting fresh herbs in containers. Summer is a great time for growing herbs and these containers make quick and easy solutions without spending a fortune.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A place at the table with a lesson in history

 As the rain continued to come down, I decided to do some cleaning in the house. I began to dust off my massive collection of cookbooks and after just a few minutes...I got distracted and began reading. It never fails to amaze me how many books are on the shelves here at home or the number of different topics that they cover, from grilling to eating healthy circa 1947!!It may not be the largest collection in the world, however it is mine and I love the feeling of being lost inside of time when leafing through them. I started with a true classic in every sense of the word, Cooking With Soup, A Campbell Cookbook. From what I am able to piece together this book came out sometime in the early to mid 1960's and can still be found in various used bookstores both online and off. Here is what makes this book special though, it was handed down from generation to generation. The person who gave it to me received it from her mother who had in turn received it from her mom. The book was given to the daughters on their wedding day, part joke and part serious, because as I was told nobody could cook anything!! As I turned the pages of the book, I could see fingerprints on some of the pages, hand-written notes on ingredients and best of all was the sense of family and love that came from it. I love what I am able to do. Teaching people to cook is more than a job or hobby. It is a part of me. Feeling the history and family coming from this book brings up memories of my own grandmother teaching me how to enjoy food and dining out. She also told me how she stole the sugar packets when nobody was looking. Years later when I would come home from college and see her...there were always a handful of sugar packets in the purse. Memories..... the simplest of things and always making me smile. I have not tried this next pair of recipes out but as soon as I get the chance...the review will be epic!!

Frankfurter Skillet Barbecue
The hand written notes on this page of the book changed some of the original measurments. I went ahead and made those changes here. If you take the time to prepare this before I can get to it, please send me along some feedback and let me know how it turns out!!

Couldn't find a picture of this dish anywhere!
1/2 Cup Chopped Onion
1 1/2 Pounds of Frankfurters (Hot Dogs, if you are uncertain)
2 1/2 Tbs Butter
1 Can Each, Condensed Tomato Rice Soup
1/2 Empty Soup Can Water
1 Tbs Molasses
1 tsp Mustard
1/2 tsp Red Wine Vinegar
3/4 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp Tabasco Sauce

Cook onion and frankfurters in butter in a large skillet, until the onions and frankfurters are browned. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer over medium heat for the next 15 minutes. Stirring often. Serve alone or over a roll.
Hawaiian Chicken Velvet Salad

1 Envelope of Unflavored Gelatine
1/4 Cup Cold Water
1 Can Each Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
3 oz Softened Cream Cheese
2 Tbs Lemon Juice
1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
1 Cup Diced Cooked Chicken
1/2 Cup Drained Pineapple Chunks
1/4 Cup Chopped Celery
1/4 Cup Chopped Green Pepper
3 Cups Chopped Romain
In a small sauce pot sprinkle gelatin into the cold water. Place over low heat and stir gelatin until it dissolves. Remove from heat. In a seperate bowl blend the soup and cream cheese, stir in the gelatin, lemon juice and ginger. Add the chicken, pineapple, celery & green pepper. Pour the mixture into a mold and chill until firm. Unmold, serving on a bed of lettuce.

While taking this stroll down memory lane, I came across a pair of books that had me smiling and they brought back a particular and favorite memory of a chef who has inspired me for many years. Now, there are several Chefs that I have had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with. Over these years, one in particular has made a lasting impression...Chef Martin Yan. I used to watch the now famous series on Public Television known as Yan Can Cook. I was always facinated with the easy style and energy that he cooked with, the personality and mostly the genuine enthusiasm he put into everything. While in college studying to become a chef, I had the chance to spend a few minutes with him while he was visting the school. I became an amazing fan boy and have been ever since. This next recipe is from his book, Martin Yan's Culinary Journal Through China. I will often talk about a recipe or a moment in time where food has given me a reason to smile. It is perhaps my greatest goal that Kitchen Time treats everyone just like family. You will never see an article or hear me speak with the elegance of a literary master, however you will always get a sense of energy and a love for what I do. Chef Yan speaks from the heart and this book delivers all that and more. He relates his own experiences, speaks about different regions, and helps you to understand the culture from a world that has a rich tradition of culinary masterpieces.

Triple Pepper Steak

1 Pound of Flank Steak, thinly sliced diagonally

Beef Marinade
2 Tbs Oyster Sauce (available in the 'specialty' food aisle of any supermarket)
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp Black Pepper

Combine the marinade ingredients into a plastic or glass bowl. Add the beef and stir, coating all the pieces. Set aside.

1/2 each of a red, green and yellow pepper. Cut into strips. (Save the other half of the peppers for a salsa dish that is coming over the weekend!!)

Beef Sauce
1/3 Cup Beef Broth
2 Tbs Rice Wine or Cooking Sherry
2 Tbs Soy Sauce
1 tsp Cornstarch
1 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
Combine all sauce ingredients into a bowl and set aside

3 Tbs Cooking Oil
2 Tbs Water
1 tsp Garlic
1/2 tsp Fresh Garlic

Place a skillet or wok pan over high heat. Add 1 Tbs of oil, swirling to coat the sides. Add peppers and cook for about 1 minute. Add water and cook until peppers are crisp and tender, about another 3 minutes. Remove peppers to a serving plate. Add remaining oil into the pan, swirling to coat. Add in the beef. Allow to cook until it browns on both sides, but is still pink in the middle. This should take about 2 minutes on each side. Remove beef from the pan, leaving a small amount of oil. Add garlic and ginger into the pan for about 10 seconds, return the beef and add sauce. Cook until sauce boils and thickens. Serve over the peppers and enjoy!!
It is an honor to me that so many people come online to view my blog and to comment. The emails I receive and the positive feedback mean everything. Thank you, to everyone who supports and encourages this process. Our new Kitchen Time website is up and running. Please check us out!! we are also on Facebook and on Twitter @ChefSeanPike

This Friday I will be sharing a fresh salsa recipe along with some tips to turn pita bread into tasty chips!! I am also going to begin a three part series about eating foods to improve your mood, increase brain activity and help keep your energy up during the day.