Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Crunchy Asian Salad

Blog post updated December 2014

If you have any uncooked cabbage leftover from St. Patrick's Day, here is my version of this popular salad.

second preparation

 cup olive oil
 cup balsamic or rice vinegar - I had some white balsamic raspberry blush vinegar that I needed to use, so I used that in the first photo below. I used rice vinegar in the second photo above when I prepared this with the wheat noodles.
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute - I used 2 T. of sugar substitute. I was happy with the flavor, although it was a bit more tart than usual.
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 oz. (about 1 cup) whole-wheat ramen noodles, broken into 1" pieces - the original recipe called for 1 pkg. of Maruchan ramen noodles (noodle soup package), which is what I used when I prepared this in March (first photo below).  Since those are very unhealthy, I replaced that ingredient with wheat noodles.
2 to 2½ cups shredded cabbage
½ cup shredded carrots, if desired - I used carrots in my second photo.
½ cup sliced green onions - I used thinly sliced red onions, which were also good.
½ cup sliced or chopped unroasted almonds
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 x ” strips - I did not have any red pepper, so I made this batch without it.
15 oz. can no sugar added mandarin oranges, drained
2 cups baby spinach leaves - I did not have baby spinach, so I used the regular size leaves that I had, and I tore a few of the larger ones in half.

first preparation
salad ready to eat, and the balsamic vinegar I used 

In a large bowl, beat dressing ingredients with wire whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture is well blended.

Break ramen noodles into 1" pieces. Add noodles and all remaining salad ingredients except oranges and spinach to dressing; toss to mix well. Stir in oranges and spinach. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 8 hours. When I prepared the second batch, I added the first ingredients to the dressing and then let it sit for an hour or so. I added the spinach and oranges right before serving.

A few days after I posted this recipe in March, I found organic wheat ramen noodles in the store. The ingredients do not say, "whole" grain, and the fiber content is not very high, although the ingredients are healthier than the ramen noodle soup packages. 

I updated this post December 2014 with the information about how I substituted the organic noodles instead.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spicy Whole-Wheat Dumplings

This is a flavorful dumpling recipe that I altered to add in whole grains and to reduce the fat. This is the second time that I have made these, and after two tries and modifications, the result was even better this time. 


1 cup whole-wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar or sugar substitute
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
½ cup grated low-fat Parmesan cheese
1 egg
⅔ – ¾ cup buttermilk - I did not have buttermilk, so I used the following substitution measured into a measuring cup to begin with: about a tablespoon of low-fat yogurt (that was all I had!), 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, and enough milk to equal ⅔ cup. In the end, I added a bit more milk, about a tablespoon or so.
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons butter blend, melted

Overnight Whole-Wheat Pancakes

I have found that with most breakfast recipes, I can substitute 100% whole-grain flour for white flour with excellent results. I also usually try swapping out some of the butter in recipes for olive oil. For this recipe, I do not recall whether I swapped out the butter blend for olive oil 50/50 (I made these a couple of weeks ago, and I forgot to write it down), so I am listing the butter blend in the original quantity. I will update this post with the results the next time that I make pancakes with the olive oil substitute.

2 to 2¼ cups whole-wheat flour
3 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute
1½ teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1¾ cups fat-free milk
¼ cup butter blend
1 egg

Combine ¾ cup whole-wheat flour, sugar, and yeast.

Heat milk and butter blend to 120° – 130°F. Stir until butter blend is melted, and then gradually add to flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at high speed. Add egg and 1 cup whole-wheat flour. Beat 2 minutes at high speed, adding salt at end. Stir in remaining whole-wheat flour.

Cover; let rise 45 minutes or overnight in fridge before cooking on preheated pancake griddle.

I gently stirred in fresh blueberries (a bit too many!) to this batch of pancakes the next morning before cooking.

Even though I condense recipes down for just the two of us, I always have leftover pancakes and waffles. They freeze well, and easily heat up in the microwave or toaster, so this is never a problem for us. To freeze: Make sure remaining cakes are cooled and dry, then place in a freezer bag between sheets of wax or parchment paper, and store in the freezer. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Old Style Popcorn

No one seems to use the old style popcorn kernels anymore, since microwave popcorn has become available in pop-it-in-the-microwave packages. I remember cooking popcorn on the stove when I was young. We then advanced to electric poppers and air poppers. When packaged microwave popcorn became available, I started buying that.

I had a very old bag of popcorn kernels in the cupboard, and I wondered, "Are they still good?" It turns out, they are! Cooking popcorn kernels in a brown paper bag in the microwave, is not only healthier than pre-packaged products, the cost is also much less. This is not a new concept; it is merely a forgotten one as packaged microwave popcorn became more popular. This blog post is a reminder of a forgotten art ~ 

¼ cup popcorn kernels

Measure popcorn into a clean brown lunch bag. Fold the top over, and place it in the microwave for 1.5 to 3 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the popcorn, as it will burn very quickly. I cooked the popcorn in the photo less than 2 minutes. I pressed the popcorn setting on my microwave, and then stopped it when the popping started to slow down. There was about 20 seconds of time left.

The result is a product similar to what was produced in air poppers. Since the popcorn does not have any added flavor, I like to spray it lightly with butter flavored cooking spray, and then sprinkle it lightly with seasoned salt or another seasoning.

The ¼ cup of kernels made about 3 bowls of popped corn, and I had just a few un-popped kernels left.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Mexican Sloppy Joes with Cornbread

These dishes do not necessarily need to be served together, although I have found that the flavors compliment each other, and we love them this way!

Mexican Sloppy Joes

1 T. olive oil
1 c. each chopped scallions, yellow and orange bell peppers - I did not have any scallions on hand, so I used white onions this time. I also used red peppers instead of orange, since that is what I had.
1 crushed garlic clove
1 lb. ground turkey
14½ oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 chipotle chili in adobe sauce, chopped
½ t. salt
1 T. red wine vinegar
4 t. dried cilantro

 always load up my combination dishes with fresh vegetables. You can tell in this photo, that I actually only used about 1/2 to 3/4 lb. of ground turkey, so the vegetable portion is more abundant. 

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallions, bell peppers, garlic, and turkey. Stir and cook until turkey is no longer pink. Add tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, chipotle chili, and salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. I usually add about 1/2 tomato can of water when simmering.

Stir in red wine vinegar and cilantro. Serve on warm cornbread.

ready to bake
Country Cornbread Bake

1 can corn
Fat-free milk
¼ c. trans fat-free butter
1/3 c. whole-grain cornmeal
3 eggs, separated
½ t. baking powder
¼ t. salt
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
1/3 c. sliced green onions - I did not have green onion, so I used finely minced red onion.

Heat oven to 375°F. Drain corn, reserving liquid. Add enough milk to liquid to measure 1½ cups. 

In saucepan, combine milk mixture and butter; bring to a boil. Slowly stir in cornmeal; bring to a boil and cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in egg yolks and remaining ingredients except egg whites.

Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into corn mixture. Pour into a greased 1-quart baking dish. Bake until golden, about 30 minutes.

We serve the bread topped with the sloppy joe mixture. Delicious!