Sunday, April 28, 2013

Interstitial Cystitis

An elderly family member living here with us has been diagnosed with this problem and is on a strict diet. The problem is that her doctor gave her a pamphlet with minimal menu information, and the information we’ve found online has been conflicting.

At this point she’s decided that there is very little she can eat. I do all the cooking for her, and the menu discussions have gotten us nowhere.

Are any of you familiar with this disease? If so, I’d appreciate some input as to what is allowed on this diet and/or where to go for further information.

Thanks for your help!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Administrative Professionals Day

Today is the day set aside to recognize the Administrative Professional - also known as administrative assistants, office assistants, office managers, etc. Going back a few years they were known as secretaries. Many years ago my first job out of high school was as an elementary school principal's secretary. Back then technology was so simple, and I had no idea of the changes and improvements that were on the horizon. I certainly understand the hard work and dedication these people provide their employers.

Those who keep the office running smoothly and take care of all the emergencies that may crop up certainly deserve a huge pat on the back, not just today but every day!

If you are an administrative professional, great job! And if you are an employer, please acknowledge that assistant's contributions to your business.

Have a great day!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A New Recipe

I hope you’ve all had a good week. It did seem to fly by, didn’t it? It was a very busy week, and the weekend will be busy as well with chores, grocery shopping and work.

On Thursday night our older son came for dinner. He’s a bachelor, and I enjoy feeding him a “Mom” meal every couple of weeks or so. He did say he was in a food rut and said it was pretty much pork chop, chicken, spaghetti, pork chop, chicken, spaghetti….

Since we all enjoy Mexican food, I prepared a Tex-Mex Lasagna, with sides of refried beans and yellow rice. Of course, there were the usual chips and cheese, salsa, etc. This recipe was very easy and got high marks from everyone, so it has been placed in my menu rotation.



1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 tsp. jarred minced garlic
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (8 oz.) package shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
1 (8 oz.) container sour cream
1 (16 oz.) bottle chunky salsa
6 (10-inch) flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cook beef and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until beef crumbles and is no longer pink; drain.

Combine beef mixture, beans, 1 cup cheese and next 5 ingredients. Line a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish with 2 tortillas. Spoon one third of beef mixture over tortillas. Repeat layers twice. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese melts.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe from Quick Fixes (with mixes) from Southern Living. Published in 2010 by Oxmoor House, this book has quick and easy recipes that use pre-packaged ingredients and many that are already in the pantry. There are lots of photos, as well as “Speed-Scratch Secrets” that give hints and tips for alterations or easier preparation of many of the recipes.

Notes: I added a couple of cups of frozen fire-roasted corn (thawed) to the recipe, and it added a little sweetness and pretty color. Instead of the sharp cheddar I used a blend of shredded Colby and Monterrey Jack cheeses. After removing from the oven I sprinkled the top with chopped tomatoes and sliced green onions for color.

This recipe was very tasty and filling, and recommended by my entire family – especially the bachelor son, who took home a heaping plate for the next day!

Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Summer Food Safety

This warm weather means that grilling season is upon us. Preparing and eating food outdoors is enjoyable, and we all want to do it safely. I know you are all aware of safety issues with meats and outdoor cooking, but sometimes it’s good to have a little refresher course.

I’ve been getting out a few grilling cookbooks to look over in the hopes of finding something new and exciting to cook this summer. It is just too easy to throw on a few hamburgers or hot dogs…..I want to experiment a bit more this year.

Of those I have out are Al Roker’s Big Bad Book of Barbecue, published by Scribner in 2002. This book has everything from appetizers to desserts, with quite a few sauce, marinade and rub recipes. It also includes grilling hints and tips.

The second book is Reynolds Cooking with Foil, a spiral-bound book published in 2006. It is full of grilling and packet-cooking recipes, as well as some that can be prepared in the oven. I have prepared one recipe from this book several times – Honey Glazed Salmon – and it’s delicious.

The third cookbook sitting here on my desk is an older one. It’s Better Homes & Gardens Barbecues and Picnics. When I say older – think 1963! There are quite a few good recipes here.

Here are a few hints and tips:

1) Wrap and refrigerate or freeze meats as soon as possible after bringing them home. If you won’t be using ground meats or poultry in a day or two, freeze them.

2) Thaw meats in the refrigerator or microwave – never on the counter.

3) Use separate cutting boards for meats and vegetables to avoid cross-contamination.

4) Always wash hands and utensils thoroughly after handling meat.

5) Cook meat to the proper temperature to avoid illness. These are temps given by the USDA:

Beef – 145 degrees
Ground Meats – 160 degrees
Pork – 145 degrees
Poultry – 185 degrees

Meats will continue to cook a few minutes after removing from the heat, which would increase the inner temperature.

6) Throw out that marinade – don’t reuse it. Make a fresh batch to serve with the cooked meat.

7) Let meats stand 10 to 20 minutes before cutting. This lets the juices redistribute throughout the meat, avoiding a dry piece of meat.

8) When grilling, do not pierce the meats with a fork. This allows juices to run out. Use a spatula or tongs to move the meat. And don’t move it too much. 

9) When removing cooked meat from the grill, be sure to put it on a clean dish or pan. Never put cooked meat on a dish that raw meat was in. 

Let’s all look forward to those cookouts, picnics and family reunions this summer. Have fun, but always think about safety, too.
Happy “National Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day”! Did any of you do it? I could have since I work at home, but was up and dressed before I realized I didn’t have to be.
“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart.”
Erma Bombeck
Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A New Recipe Experiment

This week’s new recipe was dessert – and a very flavorful one! It smelled delicious as it baked, and served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream it tasted just as good as it smelled.

The only problem I had was that I only needed half the original recipe. Some folks in the household don’t eat rhubarb, so the large dish would not be eaten. I also wanted to cut down the sugar content a bit. The original recipe is below, followed by my adjustments.

4 cups sliced fresh or frozen rhubarb
1 package (3 ounces) raspberry gelatin
1/3 cup sugar
1 package (18.25 ounces) yellow or white cake mix
1 cup water
1/3 cup butter, melted
Place rhubarb in greased 9 x 13” baking dish. Sprinkle with the gelatin, sugar and cake mix. Pour water evenly over dry ingredients. Drizzle with butter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until rhubarb is tender. Serve with ice cream if desired.
Makes 16 to 20 servings.
Note: If using frozen rhubarb, measure while still frozen. Thaw completely in colander; drain but do not press liquid out.
Recipe from Taste of Home Best Church Supper Recipes (published in 2009). This great paperback cookbook contains over 500 recipes, many with photos. These recipes would be perfect for potlucks, reunions or any sort of event.
My adjustments:
2 cups rhubarb
2 teaspoons sugar-free raspberry gelatin
2 tablespoons artificial sweetener
1 box Jiffy yellow cake mix
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
Prepared as above, but in an 8” square baking dish.
Give this one a try! It’s extremely easy and delicious. And maybe next time I'll make the full recipe....and eat it myself! Yum.
I’ll be back later in the week….watch for me!
Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tip Tuesday

We’ve all heard the old saying, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade”. That’s a pretty interesting statement, and one that could make life more pleasant for everyone. I’m not saying we should all be like Pollyana, but a positive attitude can make life and its minor problems more bearable.

Today we’ll talk a bit about lemons and some of their many uses. It is believed that lemons originated centuries ago in Asia (China, Burma and India), then were introduced to Europe and the Middle East. Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds to the Americas in 1493.


Here are a few uses for these tart fruits, as well as a couple of simple recipes:

1) Squeeze lemon juice on cut surfaces of apples, pears, avocado, etc. to retard browning.

2) Sanitize cutting boards by rubbing with cut lemon. Let set a few minutes, then wash and dry.

3) Throw lemon and orange peels into the garbage disposal about once a month. Run them through to freshen and sanitize the disposal.

4) Rub juice on hands to remove the odor after cutting onions.

5) If your recipe calls for vinegar and you have none in the pantry substitute lemon juice.

6) Add a spoonful of lemon juice when cooking rice to prevent sticking. Let rice cool a bit, then fluff with a fork.

7) Keep that chrome polished – simply rub with lemon rind, rinse and dry. Also, mix a bit of lemon juice and salt to make a paste then rub on metal surfaces to make them shine.

8) Add 1/2 cup juice to laundry to help brighten whites.

9) There are a couple of ways to get more juice out of lemons. One is to microwave the lemon for 15-20 seconds. The other is to roll the lemon on the counter – no need to be too gentle with this method!

10) Lemons make a pretty centerpiece. Put them in a glass bowl, vase or stemmed dish. Add greens for contrast.

11) I always put a cut-up lemon in the cavity of whole chickens or turkeys before roasting. It helps tenderize the meat, and gives a nice flavor.

12) Freeze lemon juice in ice cube trays to use in tea or water – or thaw cubes for cooking.

13) For a sore throat, drink a cup of warm lemonade. I remember doing this when I was growing up, and can still taste that delicious, soothing drink! It also works as an expectorant.

There are many more uses for lemons from ant/bug repellent to hair rinse and skin care. One of everyone's favorites, though, is in food. Here are a couple of quick recipes:

3 large eggs
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup butter, softened
Combine eggs, lemon rind and sugar in saucepan on medium-low heat. Stir with whisk until sugar dissolves (2 or 3 minutes). Add lemon juice and butter and continue to cook, whisking constantly, for about 8 to 10 minutes or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Cool. Keep in covered container in refrigerator up to a week.
This flavorful, creamy mixture is very versatile, and can be used in many ways from a topping  on gingerbread or pound cake to a filling for cakes. Or as a dip for cookies. Or just out of the jar with a spoon…
Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker Country Favorites.
1 cup sugar substitute
1 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup lime juice
2 quarts water
Mix sugar substitute into juices until dissolved. Add water. Serve over ice. (Bottled juices work fine for this.)
Recipe from and submitted by a cook in Bethany, OK.
Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!