Monday, July 6, 2015

Meatless Monday; Corn Dogs with Baked Beans

It's Meatless Monday and here are two recipes traditions for the family table, grand picnic, trip to the amusement park, sporting event or holiday event.

Go Meatless Monday is recognized by cities and countries all around the world. It's a day people unite around food.

Corn dogs were sold “for the first time in 1942 at the State Fair of Texas.” The Fletcher’s Corny Dog concession continues to sell the original corn dog at the fair to this day, and it is still operated by the same family from their mobile kitchen.

State Fair, a brand owned by the Sara Lee Corporation, offers many different varieties of frozen corn dogs that you can enjoy at home from the ‘Classic’ to the ‘Mini’ corn dog, and even ‘bacon-wrapped.’

This version of the classic corn dog by Morningstar Farms® is meatless, and the baked beans go-with are from Simply Organic. A healthy combination of yum. The corn dog and kitchup recipe has been tested and endorsed by Kellogg and MorningStar Farms®.

Corn Dogs with Chicago-Style Ketchup

4 Morningstar Farms® Veggie Corn Dogs
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup chopped pepperoncini peppers, divided
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
2 tablespoons sliced green onion

Cook corn dogs according to package directions. In small bowl stir together ketchup, 1/4 cup of peppers, relish and onion. Place in small serving dish. Top with remaining peppers. Serve with corn dogs.

Corn Dogs Nutritional Information (amount per serving)
Calories 180; Carbohydrates 31g; Cholesterol 0mg; Fiber 4g; Fat 4; Sodium 1030mg; Protein 7g

Orange Ginger Baked Beans

Ginger is very good for you. Ir has been used as a natural remedy for many ailments for centuries. Researchers around the world report that ginger works wonders in the treatment of everything from cancer to migraines. It's tangy in taste and helps to reduce gas.

Cool, vivacious orange and warm, grounding ginger come together in a delightful pairing than enhances salads -- and provides adventure in marinades and vegetable dishes.
Cool, vivacious orange and warm, grounding ginger come together in a delightful pairing than enhances salads -- and provides adventure in marinades and vegetable dishes.

1 can (15 ounces) no salt added navy beans, drained
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 package Simply Organic Orange Ginger Vinaigrette Dressing Mix

Combine all ingredients in a 2-quart casserole dish. Stir until completely mixed. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. (Use 3/4 cup ketchup for thicker beans and stronger flavor.)

Can be prepared on stovetop or on the BBQ grill: Follow same directions, except simmer over low heat in large saucepan until thoroughly heated.

Baked Beans Nutritional Information (amount per serving)
Calories 120; Carbohydrates 0g; Cholesterol 27mg; Sodium: 61mg; Fat 12g; Protein 4g

Ginger Nutrition: One study showed that ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and is a powerful natural painkiller. Ginger has long been used as a natural heartburn remedy. It is most often taken in the form of tea for this purpose.Cold and Flu Prevention and Treatment Ginger has long been used as a natural treatment for colds and the flu.

Many people also find ginger to be helpful in the case of stomach flus or food poisoning, which is not surprising given the positive effects ginger has upon the digestive tract. Research has shown that ginger may provide migraine relief due to its ability to stop prostaglandins from causing pain and inflammation in blood vessels.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, about half your calories should come from carbohydrates, typically about 250 grams (g). For example, a person who eats approximately 2,000 calories per day should take in about 250 grams of carbohydrates (2,000 divided by half equals 1,000 -- and 1,000 calories divided by 4 grams = 250 grams). A teaspoon of sugar is 4 grams.

Carbs and diabetes: People with diabetes must always focus on carbohydrates. Depending on individual health challenges, reliable sources indicate that most people with diabetes should not consume more than about 130 grams of carbohydrate each day.

* Sources: Morningstar Farm, Simply Organic, Health Diaries, Driving Dining

Morningstar Farms is a division of the Kellogg Company that produces vegetarian food. Many of their offerings are meatless variations of traditionally meat-based products, including some that are vegan. Morningstar is currently the largest vegetarian food producer in the United States. From veggie burgers to meatless breakfast sausage, there are over 30 tasty ways to make feeling good deliciously uncomplicated.

Simply Organic®, a comprehensive 100% certified organic line of spices, seasoning mixes and baking flavors. Simply Organic continues to grow with innovative and affordable new products and an unrivaled selection of organic seasonings — just as Aura Cacia®, the third member of the Frontier family, has become America's favorite aromatherapy source. One percent of Simply Organic sales fund organic food and farm research.

Alexandria, the Yum Expert, brings you good food, meatless and decadent recipes, and kitchen basics from top chefs around the web, all in one place, for busy home kitchen cooks, empty nesters, diabetics and lovers of Mexican cuisine. ¡Olé!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

How to Wash Lettuce

It takes little time to wash your greens for a salad or sandwich. I love my salad spinner, but it's not necessary. Just convenient.

The important part of any food you consume is to make sure it's clean of dirt and insects and chemicals, and dry when you store it, right?

That varies with the type of lettuce you purchase. There are many varieties.

You need to wash your lettuce even if it says, "pre-washed." The good reason is that it helps to keep it fresh.

If you've ever taken out your lettuce and it sagged with a bit of black slime on the edges, you know what I mean.

First, cut the head of lettuce away from its root with a knife. You can give iceberg lettuce a pound against the counter and dig the root out with your fingers, or just use a paring knife. Separate the leaves.

You want to add the lettuce leaves to a large bowl of cold water. Soak and swish for a minute or two to clean. Gently lift from water, let drain, softly shake and dry on paper towels and blot dry.

If you have a salad spinner, the process is a bit different. It has three parts: the bowl, colander (bowl with holes) and the lid. Here's what to do.

The first part is the same. Cut off the root and separate the leaves. Next, place the leaves inside the salad spinner bowl. (It's the part that sits inside the spinner.)

Fill the spinner with cool water. Any sand or grit or guck should sink to the bottom of the salad spinner. Lift the "colander with the lettuce in it" out from the spinner. Pour out the water from the spinner. Replace the colander with lettuce inside, set the lid on, and spin to dry. The spinning should force the left-over water and help it dry. Remove to paper towels and pat to complete drying.

Store lettuce: Place in plastic bag or wrap in plastic wrap. If you have room, you can place the cleaned leaves in a container of water. Add a teaspoon of sugar. The "sugared water" keeps the lettuce crisp.

When lettuce is washed and stored properly, it stays fresh in the refrigerator for about 5 to 6 days,  even longer than pre-washed lettuce.

Here are a couple of good tips:

(1) A metal knife tends to brown up lettuce. Break the root out with your hands or a plastic knife.

(2) Some people report that lettuce may contain bacteria, such as E-coli. Not too sure about this claim for all lettuce, maybe imported lettuce. In any event,  it's said that washing lettuce in water with a tablespoon to two of salt helps to kill bacteria (and reduce possible episodes of diarrhea). Be sure to drain well and rinse, then proceed with the recommended steps.

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. Follow me on Twitter. Share your food stories. Click here to get the recipe and useful kitchen tips in your inbox. Forward to a friend.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

My Country Tis of Thee

Today isn't just about apple pie and hot dogs, is it?


Happy Independence to my family and friends and all my fellow Americans. Be safe.

Think Thin is my personal campaign to reduce the clutter in life, get back to the basic values of home, food and family. Get more ideas about how to reduce clutter. Forward to a friend. Follow me on Twitter.

Happy Fourth of July Recipe: Grilled Hamburger Steaks with Roasted Onions

Today isn't just about apple pie and hot dogs, is it? It's "love your country with two hugs" day. America usually celebrates its birthday with light shows  and fireworks, parades, barbecues and picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, political speeches and ceremonies.

Invite friends and family to celebrate Independence Day in your backyard with iced drinks, entrées hot off the grill, tasty sides, and festive red, white, and blue desserts.

What could be better to celebrate this happy birthday day than grilled burgs smothered in sweet onions on hot buttered buns. Traditional and awesome.

Grilled Hamburger Steaks with Roasted Onions

4 lean ground beef patties (4 to 6 ounces each)
2 tablespoons steak sauce
1 envelope (1 ounce) onion soup mix
2 large Bermuda or other sweet onions, cut in half, then thinly sliced and separated (6 cups)
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Heat coals or gas grill for direct heat. Spray two 18x12-inch sheets of heavy-duty foil with cooking spray.

Brush beef patties with steak sauce; sprinkle with half of the soup mix (dry). Place half of the onions on center of each foil piece. Sprinkle with remaining soup mix, the brown sugar and vinegar. Fold foil over onions so edges meet. Seal edges, making tight 1/2-inch fold; fold again. Allow space on sides for circulation and expansion.

Cover and grill packets and beef patties 4 to 6 inches from medium heat 10 to 15 minutes, turning patties and rotating packets 1/2 turn once or twice, until meat thermometer inserted in center of patties reads 160ºF. Place packets and patties on plates. Cut large X across top of each packet; fold back foil.

If you can't find the ground beef patties at your market, you can make your own with 1 pound lean ground beef. Shape into 4 patties, each about 1/2 inch thick.

Serve patties and onions on plain, sesame seed or poppy seed buns. Add your favorite condiments such as additional steak sauce, mayonnaise, mustard, pickles, tomatoes, shredded lettuce and cheese. Pass the salsa and chips.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving)
Calories 295; Carbohydrates 15g; Cholesterol 65mg; Sodium: 700mg; Fiber 2g; Fat 16g; Protein 22g; Sodium 700mg; Sugars 42g

* Source: Betty Crocker, General Mills, Independence Day, USA Government  

General Mills (Betty Crocker) very first product was a better flour that made better bread back in 1866 – and we’ve never lost that focus. Our Gold Medal flour is still the number one flour in America almost 150 years later. At General Mills, our approach to food is simple. We start with high-quality ingredients, we create the best-tasting recipes and then make every product to perfection.

Whether it’s the Gold Medal flour first created by our founders on the banks of the Mississippi River, America’s best-selling cereal Cheerios, or the world’s best super-premium ice cream Häagen-Dazs, with just five basic ingredients: milk, cream, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla.

Happy Birthday to the United States of America.

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 with me. Click here to get the next menu, meal plan and useful kitchen tips in your inbox. Forward to a friend.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Friday Side Dish: Garlic Tomato Pasta Salad

Pasta is a staple food of traditional Italian cuisine, with the first reference dating to 1154 in Sicily. Pasta is a noodle made from an unleavened dough of a durum wheat flour mixed with water and formed into sheets or various shapes, then cooked and served in any number of dishes. It can be made with flour from other cereals or grains, and eggs may be used instead of water.

Pasta is generally a simple dish, but comes in large varieties because it is a versatile food item. Some pasta dishes are served as a first course in Italy because the portion sizes are small and simple.

Pasta is also prepared in light lunches, such as salads or large portion sizes for dinner.

Pasta is generally a simple dish, but comes in large varieties because it is a versatile food item. Some pasta dishes are served as a first course in Italy because the portion sizes are small and simple. Pasta is also prepared in light lunches, such as salads or large portion sizes for dinner.

Pasta is mostly starch because it is made of flour. It also contains other minerals and vitamins either directly from wheat or from artificial enrichment. Whole wheat pasta contains considerable amounts of minerals such as magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, selenium and manganese. Pasta also contains a small amount of sodium, and has no cholesterol. Source

Roasted Garlic, Olive and Tomato Pasta Salad
Serves 6 as a side or 4 as a main

3 small heads garlic
Olive oil
1 pound medium pasta shells
15 ounces whole or skim milk ricotta
3/4 cup whole milk yogurt
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 small tomatoes (about 1 pound), roughly diced
1 cup black or green olives, sliced
1/3 cup firmly packed fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Heat the oven to 400°F. Slice the tops off the garlic heads. Drizzle with olive oil and place in the center of a large square of foil and fold to seal. Place the packet in a baking pan and roast for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the garlic is very soft. Remove, and let cool.

Cook the pasta according to directions. Drain and remove to a large bowl. Toss with a little olive oil, and let cool while making the dressing.

Whisk the ricotta and yogurt together until lightened and smooth, and add in all of the roasted garlic - squeezing the soft garlic out of each clove. Whisk vigorously, until the garlic is well-incorporated. Whisk in the salt and season generously with black pepper. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour the ricotta mixture over the pasta and add the tomatoes, olives, and basil. Toss to coat. Taste and season further if needed with salt and pepper.

Serve slightly warm or chilled. The texture is best when served immediately, but the garlic flavor improves overnight, so either way it's good.

Source: The Kitchn

The body needs more than 40 nutrients: vitamins, minerals and water, as well as energy-providing protein, carbohydrates and fats. No one food supplies all the essential nutrients in the amounts needed. Therefore, it is important to eat a variety of foods each day.

Coming this month: Mexican Chicken that's worth every finger-lickin' bite. Something about bagels, sifters, cucumbers, home picnics and more. Click here to get posts in your inbox.

Posted by Alexandria Marx, food blogger, writer and all around food lover. Find recipes, kitchen tips and reviews, menus and meal planning, entertaining ideas, information about health and fitness, diabetics and Being Grand.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Go Texan Dessert Recipe: Chocolate Pecan Bread Pudding

Feast on Dessert 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 Chocolate Pecan Bread Pudding dessert recipe today.

Chocolate Pecan Bread Pudding
Serves 6

Ingredients for Custard:
3/4 cup Whole milk
1-1/2 cups Heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
3/4 cups Sugar
1 Egg
5 Egg yolks

Ingredients for Bread Pudding:
6 Slices of toasted white bread
1 Recipe of custard
2/3 cup Chocolate sauce
3/4 cup Caramelized pecans

Ingredients for Chocolate Sauce
6 ounces Fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons Water
1/4 cup Heavy cream
3 tablespoons Sugar

Ingredients for Caramel Pecans
1 cup Pecans
1/2 cup Sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoons Water
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 325° F. To prepare the custard: Combine milk, cream, vanilla and sugar in a small pot or sauté pan and cook until sugar is dissolved. Place egg and yolks into a bowl and whisk. Slowly add in the warm cream mixture, while whisking the eggs to keep them from curdling.

To prepare the bread pudding: Soak bread in custard in a bowl and transfer to a baking dish. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until cooked thru. Remove from the oven and keep warm. While the bread pudding bakes, make chocolate sauce.

To prepare the chocolate sauce: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and place the bowl over a pot with simmering water and stir until chocolate is dissolved and mixed well. Transfer chocolate sauce into a small container and keep warm until ready to serve.

To prepare the caramelized pecans: Heat pecans in medium sauté pan in sugar, butter, water and salt mixture, and cook until water has evaporated. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake in 275° F. oven for 15 minutes or until very crunchy. Yields 1 cup.

Serve the bread pudding warm and top with the chocolate sauce and caramelized pecans.

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

Texas Pecans are top quality, fresh, and have a taste as big as Texas. Pecans are the only nut native to the U.S. grown on a commercial scale. A study on Pecans published in the January 2011 Journal of Nutrition shows again that Pecans are a healthy food and help prevent heart disease. Pecans contain antioxidant factors that are absorbed in the body and provide a protective effect against disease. But is chocolate bad for your blood, good or both?

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.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Eat Fruit Friday: Strawberry

It's Eat Fruit Friday. Strawberries are in season. It's appreciated worldwide for its aroma, bright red color, juicy texture and sweetness. It is consumed in large quantities, either fresh or in such prepared foods as preserves, fruit juice, pies, ice creams, milkshakes, and chocolates.

Artificial strawberry flavoring is also used in many products like hand sanitizers, lip gloss, perfume and many others.

Store fresh strawberries in the refrigerator.

Strawberries are a Superfood. You're gonna wanna make Food Network Kitchen's Classic Strawberry Shortcake.

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 strawberries 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.