Friday, February 25, 2011

Mexican Night Tradition:Green Chili Stew, Enchiladas and Beans

Today is my mother's eighty-ninth birthday.  Happy Birthday Mom.

My mother  cultivated my  taste for New Mexican food at an early age.  I would  help her in the kitchen as she prepared food for our weekly "Mexican Night" meal.  The standard menu consisted of guacamole, enchiladas, beans,  tacos, flour tortillas, and spumoni ice cream.  The menu evolved over time to include  Green Chili Stew, nachos, papitas, and sopapillas.

I would help my mother doing various cooking tasks.  My favorite when I was little was sprinkling the grated cheese over the enchiladas.  More cheese went in my mouth then on the enchiladas.  My mother would just smile and grate more delicious cheese.

I loved the smell of the food cooking,  The aromas would filter through the house and tease the taste buds with the deliciousness yet to come.  To this day whenever I smell the intoxicating aroma of green chili roasting, I think of those days in the kitchen with my mother.

The years have passed and  I am now cooking with my kids like my mom did with me.  The  kids still like sprinkling the cheese and like me more cheese is eaten than sprinkled.

Tonight, for my mother's birthday dinner, I am going cook our traditional "Mexican Night" meal.

Below is  my recipe for Green Chili  Stew.  To save time I use prepared Green Chili Sauce but it doesn't sacrifice flavor.

Green Chili Stew

1 pound of ground beef browned
1-quart beef broth
2 medium potatoes peeled and diced
1 cup frozen corn
1-16 can or jar of Green Chili sauce
1–15 ounce pinto beans rinsed and drained
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Put all of the ingredients in a 4-½ quart stock pan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and cook for 25 minutes.
2. Remove from heat.  Adjust seasoning to your taste.

Makes 8 servings

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Heart Healthy Bites To Go

We all get in a hurry and feel there is no time to eat healthy.  Our answer at times like this is to go to the nearest fast food place or look in the frozen food aisle for something quick and maybe not so healthy.  I am here to tell you healthy food can be quick and easy.  Some of the healthy staples you'll need are nuts - especially walnuts and almonds, dried fruits - blueberries, cranberries, yogurt, bananas, oats, tuna, salmon, olives, fresh berries, papaya, cantaloupe.

Here are some ideas I use when I need a quick healthy bite.

Fruit and Nuts:  Dried fruits and nuts make a very quick snack to go.  I grab a handful of nuts and a handful of dried fruits put them in a Ziploc bag and they are ready to go.

Yogurt:  Grab a carton of yogurt and if desired take some granola and/or fruit to eat with your yogurt.

Olives: Instead of having a pickle with your sandwich try some olives.  Or just put some olives in a Ziploc bag for  quick pick me up.

Fresh Berries:  Strawberries,blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, are great for your heart.  You can eat them as is, or top with yogurt, granola or sprinkle them with some ground flax seed .

Bananas: You just peel and eat.  What could be easier.

Soy:  I pack a small carton of soy milk for lunches or as a quick refreshing beverage when I am running errands.  I particularly like the vanilla while my kids like the chocolate.

Tuna or Salmon Salad:  Instead of using a gob of mayonnaise for my favorite sandwich I use about 1 tablespoon low fat mayonnaise and some mustard - enough to hold the mixture together.   At times I add some relish.  You can also use as a spread on multi grain crackers.

Fresh Salmon:  Salmon is quick and easy to grill or bake.  Add a steamed vegetable and you have a quick and easy healthy meal.

Fruit, Fruit , Fruit:   Just slice, dice, and eat.

Oatmeal:  Don't have time to make a steaming bowl of oatmeal.  Grab some Quaker oat squares and add some dried fruits and nuts for your own gorp mix.

These are just a few ideas for healthy heart bites to go.

Enjoy and here's to your good health.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Healthy Bites: Oatmeal

As I stated in an earlier blog, February is National Heart Month.   I am going to blog about different foods that are heart healthy.  Today, I going to talk about oatmeal.  I know it doesn't sound  interesting, but I was amazed at all the health benefits  of oatmeal has.   Even if you don't like sitting down and having a bowl of oatmeal, you can add oatmeal to cakes, cookies,  and breads and still receive  health benefits.

Health Benefits:
1.  Numerous studies have shown oatmeal may help lower your cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
2.  Oatmeal can help you control your weight.
3.  Oatmeal may reduce the risk for Type 2 diabetes.
4. Oatmeal may help reduce high blood pressure.
5.  Oatmeal contains a wide array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  It is a good source of protein, complex carbohydrates and iron.
6.  The fiber and other nutrients in oatmeal may reduce the risk for certain cancers.
7.   Oatmeal gives you energy.
8.  Oatmeal helps your memory.  Oatmeal contains Vitamin B which is important for the brain and nervous system to function properly.

Who would have guessed oats are such healthy bites.    You can find  Instant Oatmeal, Old Fashioned Oatmeal, Steel Cut Oatmeal, Oatmeal Squares, Granola, just to name a few.

Today, instead of just making a regular bowl of oatmeal, I made Baked Oatmeal.  It was delicious.  It had a nice chewy nutty  texture.  Best of all - it was a healthy bite.

                                                Baked Oatmeal
1-cup oatmeal
½ cup chopped walnuts
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup applesauce
1 egg
¼ cup canola oil
1-1/2 cup milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. In a large bowl combine the oatmeal, walnuts, brown sugar, and salt.
  2. In a smaller bowl, beat together the egg, canola oil, and milk.
  3. Add the egg mixture to the oat mixture then add the applesauce.  Stir well to combine.
  4. Pour in a greased 8x8 inch-baking dish.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Serve with low fat milk.

Makes 6 servings


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tea For The Heart

February is National Heart Month.  During this month, I will be blogging about foods for the heart.

Today, I am going to write about tea.  Tea has been around since about 2737BC.  In fact, tea was discovered by accident by Chinese Emperor Shin Nong.  Some dried camellia blew into the Emperor's pot of boiling water.  The Emperor drank the "tea" and found it had a delightful aroma and a pleasant taste.  He declared that tea gives vigor to the body.  The beverage tea was born.

Tea has come along way since the days of long ago.  One thing is still true, tea does have excellent health benefits.  According to the November 2010 issue of "Mayo  Clinic Women's Health Source" some of the benefits of tea are:

Cardiovascular:  Green tea may lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.  Both black and green tea can reduce the risk of a heart attack and stroke.

Cancer:  Green tea may prevent gastric, pancreatic, bladder and ovarian cancers.  Reason:  Tea contains catechins.

Cavities:  Green tea destroys bacteria that causes cavities.  It also helps prevent plaque formation.

Parkinson's Disease:  The caffeine in tea may help prevent or slow the development of Parkinson disease.

Other benefits are:

Bone Density: Regular tea drinking preserves your bone density.  There are various studies out that support this.
Alzheimer's:  Drinking green tea may  delay the onset of Alzheimer's.

High Blood Pressure:  Drinking 1/2 a cup of green tea or oolong tea can lower your blood pressure.

So how many cups of tea should you drink per day.  In doing some research I found the consensus to be three plus cups a day.

                                      Making  The Perfect Cup of Tea

1. Use bottled water if possible.  If not, tap water is fine - just be sure it is cold.  Hot tap water can carry sediments from the tap.  Also,  cold water has the ability to hold more oxygen gas than hot water does.
2.  Be sure to prepare the teapot or the tea mug.  Rinse them with hot water.
3.  Bring the water to a full boil.  Remove the tea kettle from the heat.
4.  If you are using leaf tea measure one teaspoon of loose tea for each serving of tea plus one for the pot.  If you are using a tea bag one teabag per cup of tea.
5. Pour the water over the tea.  Steep the tea according to the type of tea you are making.

                                     Tea Type                                      Steeping Time

                                      White                                                 1-3 minutes
                                      China Green                                         3 minutes
                                      Japanese Green                                2-3 minutes
                                      Black                                                  3-5 minutes
                                      Darjeeling                                              3 minutes
                                      Oolong                                               3-5 minutes

A Fun Thing:

If you want to have some fun with tea try a Flowering tea.  You can find them on the Web.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Superbowl Chili

Chili is a traditional dish I serve during the Super Bowl.  I serve it with garnishes like  - cheese, onions, crackers, cornbread, sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips.  I also cook some Orzo pasta so guests can add chili to their pasta.

                                                     Superbowl Chili
  • 1-1½ lbs ground beef
  • 1 package Taco seasoning
  • 2-15 oz cans tomatoes sauce
  • 1-14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1-4 oz can medium diced green chilies
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1-tablespoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamon
  • ¼ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1-teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups cooked red kidney beans (If using canned be sure to drain well)


  1.  In a large skillet brown the ground beef. Add the Taco seasoning and cook two more minutes.
    2. Put all ingredients in a Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for   50 minutes.
    3. Remove chili from heat.  Adjust seasoning and serve in bowls and let your guest top with garnishes. 

  • Yield: serves 8

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Going Nuts:Spicy Candied Pecans

I mentioned in an earlier post, I make lots of goodies for my Super Bowl party.  One of the food items I like to have is nuts.  I have a bowl of mixed nuts, peanuts,  and this year Spicy Candied pecans.
These nuts are sweet and  crunchy  with just a hint of heat.  I like to eat them by themselves, or chop them and sprinkle on my salad.  They are also great to use in you favorite trail mix recipe.

                                                Spicy Candied Pecans


1 egg white
1-tablespoon water
2 cups pecan halves
½ cup packed brown sugar
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl whisk together the egg white and water until frothy.
  3. Add pecans and stir to coat completely.
  4. In a strainer drain the pecans.
  5. Place the brown sugar, cinnamon, cumin and chipotle chili powder in a Ziploc bag.  Seal and shake.  Be sure all ingredients are well mixed.
  6. Add pecans to the Ziploc bag.  Seal and shake until the pecans are coated.
  7. Lightly spray with cooking spray a baking sheet (or line the baking sheet with parchment paper).  Arrange the nuts in a single layer.
  8. Bake for 16 minutes tuning halfway through the baking.
  9. Remove from oven and cool completely.   Store in an airtight container. 

Makes 2 cups.