Friday, August 28, 2015

Eat Fruit Friday: Peaches

It's Eat Fruit Friday. Peaches are in season. Peaches and nectarines are in the same family, although many view them differently. Peach blossoms are highly prized in Chinese culture.

The ancient Chinese believed the peach to possess more vitality than any other tree because their blossoms appear before leaves sprout. There are 300 varieties grown in North America, including clingstone and freestone.

Most cooks remove peach skins, cut the fruit in halves lengthwise, take out the stones, heap the centers with powdered sugar and serve the two halves on a small plate.

Removing the skin is not necessary. Each peaches raw, as a salsa, in desserts, breads and liquors.

Ripen fresh peaches on the countertop away from direct sunlight, and then move to the refrigerator.

Peaches are a Superfood. You're gonna wanna make Cin-ful Peach Cobbler courtesy of Food Network's Guy Fieri.

Eating fruit provides health benefits. Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. None have cholesterol, and are a source of essential nutrients such as potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid).

People who eat fruits are likely to reduce risk of some chronic diseases such as heart disease, including heart attack and stroke, certain types of cancers, obesity, type 2 diabetes, kidney stones, bone loss to name a few of the health benefits.

Fruits provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body.

Potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Fruit sources of potassium include bananas, prunes and prune juice, dried peaches and apricots, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and orange juice.

Dietary fiber from fruits, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. Fiber helps reduce constipation and diverticulosis. Fiber-rich fruits help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories. Whole or cut-up fruits are sources of dietary fiber. (Fruit juices contain little or no fiber.)

Vitamin C is important for growth and repair of all body tissues, helps heal cuts and wounds, and keeps teeth and gums healthy.

Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant should consume adequate folate from foods, fortified foods or supplements. This reduces the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly during fetal development.

Food that's good and healthy for diabetics is good for healthy bodies, too. Diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. It's Fruit Friday. Eat a peach today.

* Source: USDA. Food Network

Food Network ( is a unique lifestyle network, website and magazine that connects viewers to the power and joy of food. The network strives to be viewers’ best friend in food and is committed to leading by teaching, inspiring and empowering through its talent and expertise.

Posted by Alexandria Marx, the Yum Expert. Anyone can cook up a great meal that gets oohs and aahs from family and friends. Make noise about food. Contact me. Follow me. Share your ideas.. Click here now to get the next menu, meal plan and kitchen tips in your inbox. Forward to a friend.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sunday Dinner Recipes: Roast Rack of Pork

It's shop for Sunday Dinner recipes. In this Sunday dinner recipes, the main event is a Rack of Pork from Top Chef, Wolfgang Puck, served with a Pineapple Lettuce salad, Black Bean Brownies and suggestions for wines. You can certainly add more courses.

A special meal like this starts with a nicely decorated table with centerpiece, beautiful placemats or ironed tablecloth, polished silverware and gorgeous glassware, doesn't it? The most important ingredient is you, a welcoming host.

Here's how to set the table. Whether or not, you are a person who cultivates good food and wine, these dinner recipes are a whole lot of elegant. Put candles on the table, put on some soft music and relax at home with food and family.

Roast Rack of Pork with Caramelized Maple Onions
Serves 4

1 2-pound pork rack with 4 bones attached
3 yellow onions, sliced
2 ounce olive oil
1 inch fresh ginger, crushed
1/2 stick cinnamon
1 star anise
4 tablespoon maple sugar
3 tablespoon sweet butter
3 1/3 cup apple cider
Salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Season both sides of rack with salt and pepper 20 minutes before cooking. Sear in heavy saute pan with olive oil until rack is well caramelized. Set aside.

In same pan, add sliced onions, ginger, cinnamon, star anise and butter. Very slowly cook until onions are well caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add maple sugar and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove onion compote and set aside. Deglaze pan with cider, adjust salt and pepper to taste and reduce until a glaze forms. Return onion compote to pan.

Completely cover rack with half of onion compote. Transfer to roasting pan and place in oven. Cook at 20 minutes per pound or until internal temperature is 150 degrees F.

Halfway through cooking time, pour over remaining half of onion compote. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Deglaze: When a piece of meat [or other food] is roasted, pan fried or prepared in a pan with another form of dry heat, a deposit of browned sugars, carbohydrates, and/or proteins forms on the bottom of the pan, along with any rendered fat.

To deglaze means to loosen and dissolve browned food residue from bottom of pan with a liquid such as wine or vegetable stock and then use the "deglazed mixture" to flavor sauces, soups, and gravies.

This method is the cornerstone of many well known sauces and gravies. The resulting liquid can be seasoned and served on its own (sometimes called a jus), or with the addition of aromatic vegetables, such as onions or shallots, carrots and celery, or used as the base for a soup.

Salad, Pineapple lettuce Dessert Black bean brownies

Dinner Wine, White, Chardonnay, Blanc du Bois, Semillon
Dessert Wine, White, Orange Muscat

Dessert wines are typically chilled and served in a lovely wine glass. Keep the serving size at about half the usual pour, two to three ounces.

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) is proud to play a role in the continuing success of the Texas wine industry. Find these Texas wines at Kroger, HEB, Randall’s, Fiesta, Whole Foods Market and Central Market.

In recent studies, the U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) assigns a number of health benefits to regular, moderate wine consumption. The most widely reported benefit is The French Paradox, a theory that credits the drinking of red wine for the low incidence of heart disease in France – despite a famously high-fat, high-cholesterol diet.

Scientists note wine contains antioxidants and resveratrol, elements believed to be helpful in the prevention of certain diseases. Red wine consumption (and to a lesser degree, white wine) is linked to a number of health benefits, including: heart disease prevention; reduced risk of certain cancers; lowering bad cholesterol; weight loss; improved brain function; controlling glucose and insulin levels; and lowering blood pressure.

Most studies cited here recommend consumption of one or two glasses of wine a day with meals, noting the detrimental effects of over-consumption.

Shop for Sunday dinner today.

Recipes selected by Alexandria Marx, wife, mother, homemaker, home kitchen cook, diabetic, Super Food Critic and Yum Expert.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Sandwich Saturday: Italian Tuna

It's Sandwich Saturday. From Whole Foods, this Italian bite makes dreams feel real. It's so good on dressed up Italian dinner rolls that's easy to make.

These Mediterranean tuna sandwiches can be made as little silver dollar sandwiches or in a large loaf sliced into 2-inch thick pieces.

You may add a thin sliver of sharp provolone or mozzarella to each sandwich if you desire. You may make the tuna salad the day prior to assembling the sandwiches to save time.

Italian dinner rolls are a crusty, rustic, chewy white bread made with special 12-hour starter. Slightly sour in taste, it’s hearty enough to hold up to the thickest of sauces.

Italian Tuna Sandwich
Serves 6 to 8

3 (6-ounce) cans tuna, drained well
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
12 split small dinner rolls or 1 large loaf French bread, halved

Combine tuna, onions, peppers, parsley, oregano, oil and vinegar in a large bowl. Top each roll with tuna. (Alternately, spread half of the French bread with tuna, then top with remaining half and cut into thick slices.) Set sandwiches aside at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving to allow flavors to mingle.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving)
Calories 260; Carbohydrates 28g; Cholesterol 40mg; Fiber 2g; Sodium 470mg; Sugars 5g; Fat 5g; Protein 27g

Dressed Up Italian Dinner Rolls

15 frozen dinner rolls
Italian Seasoning
Parmesan Cheese
Cooking Spray

Spray a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray. Place your frozen rolls in the dish. Sprinkle with Italian Seasoning and Parmesan Cheese. Spray the tops of the rolls, and cover with plastic wrap. Follow the directions on the roll bag for rising. It took mine about 4 hours.

Bake as directed on the package. Brush with butter and sprinkle with more cheese if desired. Enjoy hot!

* Source: Whole Foods Market, Double Dipped Life

Whole Foods Market was founded in Austin, Texas, in 1980 and seeks out the finest natural and organic foods available, maintains the strictest quality standards in the industry, and has an unshakeable commitment to sustainable agriculture.

Posted by Alexandria Marx, the Yum Expert. Anyone can cook meals that get oohs and aahs from family and friends. Comment questions, requests and recipes. Share your ideas. Click here now to get the next recipe in your inbox. Forward to a friend.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Sweet and Savory Friday: Creame Burilee and Stuffed Peppers

Sweet and savory food sometimes go together, sometimes they don't. Today, it's a smooth and creamy Crème brûléethat finishes your savory stuffed roasted bell peppers.

Crème brûlée, also known as burnt cream, is a rich custard topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel served at room temperature.

The custard is flavored with vanilla, but can also be flavored with lemon or orange, rosemary, lavender, chocolate, Amaretto, Grand Marnier, cinnamon, coffee, liqueurs, green tea, pistachio, hazelnut or coconut.

Now, I was a scaredy-cat and thought Crème brûlée was too difficult for me, the everyday home kitchen cook. I was wrong. It's not difficult at all.

Sweet Crème Brûlée
Serves 6

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup light cream
4 large egg yolks, well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar, plus additional 2 tablespoons for sprinkling

In a large saucepan, bring cream to a boil, and allow to boil for approximately 30 seconds. Remove from heat and pour over egg yolks and vanilla extract, whisking rapidly.

When yolks and cream are fully incorporated, return to saucepan and cook over medium heat, until mixture is thick and coats a metal spoon. Do not bring mixture to a boil.

Pour equally into 6 ramekins and refrigerate overnight.

Before serving, sprinkle each ramekin with sugar; preheat oven broiler to highest temperature setting, placing ramekins under broiler to caramelize sugar on top. It is important to do this quickly so the custard remains cool and the sugar burns fast. You may also use a creme brulee torch, which can be purchased online or at your local ichen supply store.

Serve with your favorite seasonal berries and enjoy.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving)
Calories 324; Carbohydrates 211g; Cholesterol 211mg; Fat 29g; Sodium 39mg; Protein 2g

Difference between sweet and savory is that one reflects a sugar sensation and the other does not. A salad is savory, but it could include sweet slices of strawberries or a sweet salad dressing, which makes the salad both sweet and savory. For the home kitchen cook, you want to include a little sweet with savory flavors in the meal to satisfy the tastebud senses.

There will be looks of envy from the meat-eating crowd when you serve this colorful and delicious entrée of bell peppers stuffed with mushrooms, carrots, spinach, quinoa and cashews. For a beautiful presentation, choose a combination of green, red, orange and yellow bell peppers.

Savory Roasted Bell Peppers Stuffed Quinoa
Serves 4 to 7

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the pan
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped carrots
7 bell peppers, 1 cored, seeded and chopped; tops removed and reserved from remaining 6 then cored and seeded

1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 pound baby spinach
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and cooked according to package directions
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup roasted cashews

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until transparent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until softened, 4 to 5 minutes more.

Add carrots and chopped peppers, cook until just softened, then add parsley and spinach (in batches, if needed). Let spinach wilt then stir in cinnamon, cumin and cooked quinoa and toss gently to combine. Add salt, pepper and cashews and cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Set aside to let filling cool until just warm.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a 9x13-inch baking pan; set aside.

Divide quinoa mixture evenly among remaining 6 bell peppers, gently packing it down and making sure to fully fill each pepper. Top each pepper with its reserved top then arrange them upright in prepared pan. Cover snugly with foil and bake, checking halfway through, until peppers are tender and juicy and filling is hot throughout, about 1 hour. Transfer to plates and serve.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving)
Calories 260; Carbohydrates 36g; Cholesterol 0mg; Fiber 6g; Fat 10g; Sodium 150mg; Sugars 6g; Protein 9g

Sources: Egglands Best Sweet, Whole Foods Market Savory

When meal planning choose a portion from each food group. Typically, most adults need 6 to 11 servings of grain products per day; 3 to 5 servings of vegetables; 2 to 4 servings of fruit each day; 3 cups of dairy products every day; and 2 or 3 ounces per day of meat which equals 2 servings.

Sensible portion sizes and limited number of servings keep even the most decadent sweet and yummy desserts part of a balanced diet.

I'm Alexandria Marx, the Yum Expert and everyday home kitchen cook on family friendly food that's easy to make and tastes good. After feeding three kids for more than a couple of decades, living with diabetes and blogging over 500 posts, I evaluate everything food, and write about how to Think Thin. Forward to a friend.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Go Texan Snack Recipe: Texas Sweet Onion, Spinach and Gruyere Tart

Feast on snack recipes from Top Texas Chefs who are part of the GO TEXAN program that represents Texas agri-business on a state, national and international level.

The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) is proud to play a role in the continuing success of Texas growers, merchants and restauranteurs.

Whether it's grown, sewn or served up on a plate, more than 26 million Texans shop, travel and dine out in support of Texas agriculture.

Support Texas. Show your Texas pride. Look for the GO TEXAN icon at your local merchant shops.

Make this Texas Chef's Texas Sweet Onion, Spinach and Gruyere Tart recipe today.

Texas Sweet Onion, Spinach and Gruyere Tart
Serves 6

1 Pie crust to fit a 9-inch pie pan
5 T. Unsalted butter, divided
2 Pounds Texas sweet onions, peeled, and thinly sliced
8 Ounces Fresh Texas baby spinach, coarsely chopped
¾ Cup Heavy cream
2 Large Eggs, beaten
2 tsp. Thyme leaves (or ¾ tsp. dried)
1 T. Finely minced Texas flat-leaf Italian parsley
½ tsp. Ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper
5 Slices Bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled (or 1 Cup diced ham), optional
¾ Cup Grated Gruyere cheese
¼ Cup Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions: Preheat oven to 375°. Ease the pastry into pan, and flute the edges. In a large sauté pan, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add sliced onions, and sauté until they are richly caramelized, about 20 minutes. Stir frequently – especially as the onions begin to brown. In another skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add spinach.

Cook until the spinach is wilted, then drain thoroughly. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together heavy cream, eggs, thyme, parsley, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in onions, spinach, and bacon (if using). Spoon into the pie crust. Top with grated Gruyere cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until set (about 35 to 40 minutes), and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let rest 10 minutes, slice and serve warm. Serve with a salad for a complete meal.

Serve this snack recipe with a green salad for a nice lunch or brunch. Add a bowl of fresh fruit for dessert to balance the tart with a sweet taste.

Gruyère is sweet but slightly salty cheese, with a flavor that varies widely with age. It is often described as creamy and nutty when young, becoming with age more assertive, earthy and complex. When fully aged (five months to a year) it tends to have small cracks which impart a slightly grainy texture

GO TEXAN celebrates, promotes and supports the dedication and plainspoken grit of Texas agriculture, known for excellence throughout the world.

You want to save this Texas recipe.

Alexandria Marx, wife, mother, homemaker, home kitchen cook, diabetic, Super Food Critic and Yum Expert on recipes from top chefs around the web world.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Recipe with Folic Acid: Beef & Bean Chile Verde

Chile Verde includes folic-acid-rich ingredients. usually a slow-cooked stew of pork, jalapeños and tomatillos, becomes an easy weeknight meal with quick-cooking ground beef and store-bought green salsa. Make it a Meal: Serve with fresh cilantro, red onion and Monterey Jack. Add your favorite hot sauce.

Good Source of Folate Acid
One of the 13 essential vitamins needed for the body to function. You can find Folate in Asparagus, Broccoli, Beets, Brewer's yeast, Dried beans (cooked pinto, navy, kidney, and lima), Fortified cereals, Green, leafy vegetables (spinach and romaine lettuce), Lentils, Peanut butter, Wheat germ, Oranges and orange juice. Other fruits include cantaloupe, honeydew melon, oranges and orange and grapefruit juices, are also good sources of folate.

Beef & Bean Chile Verde
Serves 4

1 pound 93%-lean ground beef
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 jalapeño (stem and seeds removed)
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 16-ounce Las Palmas green chili enchilada sauce, mild
1/4 cup water
1 15-ounce can pinto, kidney or black beans, rinsed
Sour cream (optional)
Jalapeño corn bread (optional)
Tortillas or tortilla chips (optional)

Cook beef, bell pepper and onion in a large saucepan over medium heat, crumbling the meat with wooden spoon or potato masher until the meat is browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt; cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.

Stir in salsa (or sauce) and water; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in beans and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Serve with sliced jalapeños and sour cream; jalapeño corn bread, tortillas or tortilla chips. Garnish with red bell pepper strips and chives.

Nutritional Information
Calories 387; Carbohydrates 0g; Cholesterol 29mg; Sugars 0g; Fiber 6g; Sodium: 516mg; Fat 8g; Protein 27g; 641 Potassium

* Source: Medicine Plus, Eating Well, Las Palmas Company

Folic is found in food folate, food fortified with folate, as well as, vitamin dietary supplements. With vitamin B12, folate helps create normal red blood cells.

Las Palmas has given cooks a way to add true, homemade Mexican flavor to all their meals for over 75 years. We use only the finest ingredients, like quality chiles, real tomatillos, and other ingredients and spices that have been part of Mexican cooking for centuries. And our recipes are derived from those passed down for generations. From our renowned enchilada and chili sauces, to our peppers, beans and more, you can be sure that when you cook with Las Palmas, you’re cooking up some authentic Mexican meals.

Las Palmas is “el verdadero sabor Mexicano,” the true Mexican flavor. I ought to know. I've been using Las Palmas all my cooking life, and now my children choose Los Palmas, too. This recipe is incredible, awesome, fantabulous. A total must make.

Posted by Alexandria Marx, the Yum Expert. I welcome comments and questions, requests. Make noise about food. Contact me. Follow me. Share with me. Click here to get the next menu, meal plan and useful kitchen tips in your inbox. Forward to a friend.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Friday Features One-Dish Meal: Easy Beef Stew

It's Friday Features, and today it's green peas, the dutch oven, and easy beef stew served with watermelon lemonade.

Featured nutrient-rich food: Green Peas
It lowers blood pressure by 20 percent in studies. One cup of boiled green peas is so rich with nutrients, it's too long to list. Some are vitamins A, C, B1, B6, folate, protein, niacin, magnesium, iron and potassium.

Featured kitchen item: Dutch Oven
A Dutch oven is a thick-walled (usually cast iron, ceramic or clay) cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid.

Dutch Ovens have been used as cooking vessels for hundreds of years. Dutch Ovens are well suited for long, slow cooking, such as in making roasts, stews and casseroles.

Virtually any recipe that can be cooked in a conventional oven, crock pot or slow cooker can be cooked in a Dutch Oven.

Featured One Dish Meal: Easy Beef Stew
4 Servings; leftovers freeze well for another meal

3/4 pound beef top round steak, trimmed and cubed
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 medium unpeeled potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
5 medium carrots, cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks
1 celery rib, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) chunky stewed tomatoes
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1 teaspoon browning sauce
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup frozen peas

In a Dutch oven, brown the beef in oil. Add the next eight ingredients; cover and bake at 350° for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, stirring twice. Add peas, cover and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Featured Beverage: Watermelon Lemonade
12 servings
Classic lemonade meets freshly pureed watermelon in this refreshing cook drink. Light and refreshing summer drink. Garnish with watermelon slice.

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
4 cups cubed watermelon
3 cups cold water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
6 cups ice cubes

Place the watermelon into a blender. Cover, and puree until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh sieve.

Bring sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 3 cups of cold water and the lemon juice. Divide the ice into 12 glasses, and scoop 2 to 3 tablespoons of watermelon puree over the ice, then top with the lemonade. Gently stir before serving.

One-Dish Nutrition: 263 Calories; 38g Carbs; 33mg Cholesterol; 5g Fat; 5g Fiber; 17g Protein.

* Source:,

The right nutrient-rich food and drink make for healthy bodies, and the right kitchen utensils make cooking easier. Most kitchen cooks have the basics: Mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, pastry brush, peeler, kitchen shears, pans and skillets, thermometer, graters, tongs, can openers.

You want to add a Dutch Oven to your kitchen.

Beverages are important, too. The human body is made up of about 60 percent water. It's vital to drink plenty of water to nourish the body, joints, temperature, spinal cord and brain. It has no calories and is generally refreshing. It's difficult for many to drink an 8 ounce glass of water every hour, so try to drink a big drink in the morning, at lunch, before or after dinner and before bedtime.

Don't forget. You want to create meals with memories.

Posted by Alexandria Marx, writer, blogger, foodie, reviews food and food related products and services, recipes, menus and meal planning, entertaining, grocery, shopping and budgets. Click here to get Being Grand posts in your inbox. Forward to a friend.