Monday, August 23, 2010

Black Bean Corn Salsa

I think my stomach is subconsciously aware that summer is coming to an end and because of this, I have been craving fresh fruits and veggies more in the past week than I did all summer. You just can't beat sweet corn on the cob, juicy watermelon and tart grapes on a hot day.

We went out on Lake Austin over the weekend and I brought the corn-black salsa below and it was a huge hit. The recipe calls it a salad and I guess you could eat it plan but it's much better with baked tortilla chips.

It's refreshing and low fat but has lots of tummy-filling fiber from the beans. I added some fresh jalapenos but of course you don't have to. I also omitted the avocado because I made it a day before to let all the ingredients combine and I didn't want brown avocado.

I know this recipe has nothing to do with margarine but it has a lot to do with being heart healthy so I decided to post it anyways!

Black Bean and Corn Salad

1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 avocado - peeled, pitted and diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

1.Place lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper in a small jar. Cover with lid, and shake until ingredients are well mixed.
2.In a salad bowl, combine beans, corn, avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro. Shake lime dressing, and pour it over the salad. Stir salad to coat vegetables and beans with dressing, and serve.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Taking Advantage of Your Local Farmers Market

I'm loving this article!

Times changed, and we moved off the farm and away from big gardens.

Now times are changing back — sort of.

We’re no longer on the farm, but the farm seems quite willing to come to us.

The United States Department of Agriculture shows that the number of farmers markets nationwide has increased from 1,755 in 1994 to 6,132 in 2010 — a more than threefold increase.

So what to do with all that bounty? Try creating a meal prepared almost entirely with meat, produce, pasta and other items found at local markets.

It helps to have a plan, but the key to success is staying flexible. Go with the flow of what is available. Be willing to throw out some recipes in favor of others when the right ingredients suddenly become available.

And then there are those things that defy a recipe. They are just thrown together based on what the cook has on hand. Potatoes, green beans, onions, sweet corn and curry powder were combined in a slow cooker with some margarine and a little honey for sweetness.

Fresh Okra With Peanuts/Pecans
Adapted from “Betty Crocker’s Indian Home Cooking”
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 pound fresh okra, stem ends removed
¼ cup peanuts or pecans, ground or coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ cup fresh cilantro

Heat oil in wok or large pan over medium heat. Add cumin seed and allow it to sizzle for 10 to 15 seconds. Add remaining ingredients and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until okra is tender.

Chicken/Turkey Basil

Adapted from
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 to 7 Thai chile peppers (or substitute serrano peppers)
1 to 2 bunches of Thai basil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ pound ground chicken (or substitute ground turkey, whichever is available at the farmers market)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce

Mince garlic and peppers together. Clean and pick Thai basil leaves from the stem. It may look like a lot of leaves, but they will cook down.

Fry the garlic and peppers in oil over high heat. When garlic starts to turn brown, add the ground turkey. Stir constantly. Keep stirring until all the juice is gone. Add sugar and fish sauce. Then add Thai basil. Turn over a few times to mix the leaves with the meat and then remove from heat.

Serve with or without rice.

Blackberry Cobbler

Adapted from
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 cup all-purpose flour
1½ cups white sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold margarine
¼ cup boiling water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ cup cold water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 cups fresh blackberries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in margarine until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in ¼ cup of boiling water until the mixture is evenly moist.

In a separate bowl, dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup cold water. Mix in remaining 1 cup of sugar, lemon juice and blackberries. Transfer to skillet and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

The recipe calls for completion in the skillet. However, I transferred the berry mixture to a greased baking dish and dropped spoonfuls of dough onto the mixture.

Bake 25 minutes until dough is golden brown.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Happy National S'mores day!


Sometimes a few simple ingredients combine to make something amazing -- something that makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside, something that reminds us of childhood summers, something that makes us smile and ask for, well, "some more" of that good stuff. It's no surprise, then, that the humble-but-mighty s'more has its own day.

Tuesday marked National S'mores Day, but we think the classic treat deserves a week's worth of celebration. Afterall, the s'more -- which, for those who are truly deprived, consists of a roasted marshmallow sandwiched between two graham crackers and chocolate -- has been around for a while, though no one knows who concocted the first gooey goody (a genius, to be sure). The first s'mores recipe popped up in the 1927 Girl Scout Handbook.

So grab a roasting fork, wire hanger, tree branch -- whatever -- and enjoy our homage to America's favorite fireside treat. Not planning to fire up the grill or go camping? We've included ways to enjoy s'mores sans fire, too.

• The must-eat munchie: Roasting marshmallows around a fire to use for s'mores is among the most popular "good, clean, wholesome family fun" activities enjoyed at Hunting Island State Park, said Paula Berube, retail manager of Hunting Island State Park Camp Store.

Each week between March and September, Berube, who orders the store's merchandise, said it's a challenge to keep s'mores staples in stock. On any given week, the store sells about 100 plain Hershey bars, 50 bags of marshmallows and 20 boxes of graham crackers, she said.

If the store's out of plain chocolate bars, Berube and other store staffers suggest that their customers branch out. Hershey's Dark Chocolate Bars, Hershey's Cookies and Creme Bars, Snickers, Andes mints and Dove Dark Chocolate Bars are tasty substitutes.

"I've also tried to get the different flavored marshmallows -- strawberry and chocolate as well as the jumbo-sized marshmallows," said Berube, who prefers her s'mores "a little charred around the edges."

• A new take on an old favorite: Regular s'mores are fun enough, but try this different take on the campfire classic, courtesy of Oldfield naturalist Marvin Bouknight. This recipe requires a sandwich cooker, which can be found in the camping sections of most big-box retailers. Mix together graham cracker crumbs and margarine until the crumbs hold together. Press the mixture onto each side of the sandwich cooker to form a crust. Fill one side with chips and marshmallows. Cook over hot coals for 10-15 minutes, turning frequently to avoid burning.

• Thinking outside the graham cracker box: Want to take s'mores to the next level? Check out "S'mores: Gourmet Treats for Every Occasion" by Lisa Adams, a writer and camping enthusiast with a sweet tooth. The book is filled with inventive tips for roasting marshmallows and melting chocolate over a campfire, barbecue or gas stovetop. There are more than 60 recipes in her book, each one a variation on the s'mores theme. Some include fresh fruit, others show off warm caramel. Some have almonds, others peanut butter. The book is $16.95 and available at and bookstores.

• Kellogg's Pop-Tarts Frosted S'mores toaster pastries: Part of the fun of eating s'mores is making them -- building a fire, toasting the marshmallows, smearing your face with sticky sweetness. Unfortunately you'll get none of that experience using your toaster. But what you sacrifice in authenticity, you make up for in convenience. Cleanup here requires only a napkin, whereas at the campsite you might need a canteen's worth of water to wash off that marshmallow mess. And though making these Pop-Tarts might be pretty joyless, at least that signature s'mores flavor is there.

• Order up: S'mores aren't just relegated to the campfire anymore. Restaurants have been taking their own twists on the dessert, ranging from s'mores sundaes to s'mores fondue. Locally, Frankie Bones on Hilton Head Island features the gooey treat with a do-it-yourself component. Those who order the dessert are given the traditional ingredients, skewers and a miniature grill for roasting the marshmallows.

S'mores Brownies

1 box (1 pound 2.4 ounces) brownie mix

Water, vegetable oil and egg called for on brownie mix box

2 cups miniature marshmallows

4 graham crackers, broken into small pieces

2 milk chocolate candy bars (1.55 ounces each), cut into 1-inch squares

Heat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees for dark or nonstick pan).

Make brownies as directed. After removing pan from oven, set oven to broil.

Immediately sprinkle marshmallows and graham crackers over warm brownies. Broil about 4 to 5 inches from heat 30 to 60 seconds or until marshmallows are golden brown. (Watch carefully -- marshmallows and graham crackers will brown quickly.) Sprinkle with chocolate candy. To serve warm, first allow the brownies to sit for 30 minutes. Cut into 4-by-4-inch rows.

Recipe from

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Stress eating

My fiance and I are preparing for a somewhat unexpected, slighlt rushed move to the great city of Austin. With the pressure of my job ramping up, planning a wedding and this move, I can admit I've been more than a little stressed.

When Emma is stressed, Emma eats...and eats...and eats. I can't stop eating people! Foods I normally wouldn't give a second look have suddenly become as enticing as chocolate to me. What gives?

Do you stress eat? If not, how do you deal with stress?