Friday, November 22, 2013

Lime Rice and Salsa Beans

One more recipe from my last class. This is is really simple. You can serve it as a hearty side dish or as a meal in itself. We used the Salsa Fresca we had made during class, but you can use any salsa you have.

Lime Rice & Salsa Beans
(serves 8 as a side or 3-4 as an entree, costs $1.75)

Baked Lime Rice
1 cup rice
1 ½ cups water
juice of ½ a lime (or more if you like tart flavors)
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)

Salsa Beans
1 15 oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup salsa
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In an ovenproof medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add rice and stir. Cover and bake for 17 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. While the rice is resting, heat the beans in a small saucepan until hot. Add salsa, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. To serve, stir lime juice (and cilantro if using) into rice, and pour beans on top.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Though not traditional, guacamole tastes pretty good with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds
Once you have salsa, you need to move on to guacamole. Another recipe from my last class. Guacamole is a great dip with chips, or as a topping for the chicken-potato enchiladas we also prepared in the class.

Avocados are sold ripe and underripe. They always ripen off the tree, so you can buy them underripe. You can buy a lot of them and stick them in the refrigerator. They will happily sit there for weeks. I've heard, though I haven't tried this, that they freeze just as well if you want to keep them even longer. From the fridge, they will take about 3 days to ripen. Once they do get ripe, they will keep in the refrigerator for another week as long as you don't cut them. Once cut, they will darken quickly so plan to eat it within a day.

Here's a tip on avocados: they go on sale in early February for the Super Bowl parties (much guacamole is eaten that Sunday). Plan to make a big batch and share it with your friends.

(4 servings, costs $1.25 - $2, depending on the price of avocados)

1 medium avocado
2 Tablespoons small dice red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon or more minced jalapeño or serrano chile
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika or mild pure chile powder
juice of ½ a lime
1-2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro

Cut the avocado in half by running your knife down from the top to the bottom and back up to the top. Twist the halves in opposite directions. Pull out the pit. Scoop out the flesh into a medium bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mash to the desired consistency. Some like their guacamole chunky, some like it smooth. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, chile for more heat, and lime for more zip.

Friday, November 15, 2013


This week's class featured easy Mexican so we made some fresh salsa. Salsa is very popular. Salsa in the jar surpassed ketchup sales back 20 years (but by poundage, ketchup still wins, hands down). Salsa in a jar is tasty, and convenient, so I'm not knocking it. Fresh salsa is even tastier. It's a great way to turn so-so tomatoes into something delicious. This time of year, tomatoes need all the help they can get. Plum tomatoes are on sale 88¢ per pound in my local market, which makes homemade salsa fresca a darn good buy.

The amount of heat is up to you. Jalapeños are not that hot, but if you don't like your food spicy, start with a little bit, like a teaspoon. If you do like spicy, use a hotter serrano chile, rather than a jalapeño.

Salsa Fresca
(makes 6 servings, costs under $1)

4 plum tomatoes, diced
1-2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro (4 to 8 sprigs)
2 Tablespoons small-diced onion
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (more or less to taste)
juice of ½ a lime
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Combine everything in a medium bowl and toss to combine. Let sit 15 minutes. Taste and add more chile, lime, and salt if desired.

Will keep about 2 days in the refrigerator but definitely best fresh. If you have extra, stay tuned for a lime rice & beans recipe that gets its kick from salsa.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

National Diabetes Month

A representation of a molecule of insulin, critical for controlling blood sugar
November is National Diabetes Month. The goal: to raise diabetes awareness around the world. The International Diabetes Foundation puts the number of world-wide diabetes cases at 382 million. In the US, just under 26 million people have diabetes, about 8% of the population. Eight million people in the US have diabetes and don't even know it. The rate of growth in the disease is astounding, especially among children and adolescents. You probably don't have to look very far to find someone in your network of friends and family with diabetes. I know I don't: I have family members dealing with it everyday.

Though the exact causes are still not well-understood, nutrition has a big part to play, in preventing diabetes and in improving outcomes for people already diagnosed with diabetes. Given the number of people developing diabetes at a young age, no one should believe they are immune. Which means, we all need to work on eating a healthful diet, whether you are middle-aged like me, or just going out into the world like my 21 year old daughter.

The American Recall Center has a nice infographic that brings together the facts about diabetes. It was put together by top bloggers who write about diabetes. It succinctly gives some key facts about diabetes, the disease, and life with it. Thanks to Dr. Mario Trucillo, the medical editor at the American Recall Center for the pointer to this short, sweet, and very important message.

Though School of Eating Good doesn't specifically provide recipes for diabetics, I try to keep the focus on healthful recipes though not too obviously. It needs to taste good too. Food is about blending health with delicious. I hope you find our recipes do that for you. With some knowledge, a sharp knife, and healthful ingredients, I'm hoping we can turn around this epidemic of diabetes.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Chicken Potato Enchiladas

Another class tonight at CU. We're cooking easy Mexican. The menu is Guacamole, Salsa Fresca, Chicken-Potato Enchildadas, and Rice with Beans & Salsa. We made Cheesy Chicken Enchildadas during our first year of classes back in 2011. Since I am incapable of making the same recipe twice (just kidding, though it's very rare), I had to mix it up. This recipe has less cheese, potatoes, and the sauce is chunkier. I tested this recipe with frozen green chiles. In many places, there are no frozen green chiles, but here in Colorado we have a choice and I would pick frozen every time. Use what you can find and use the heat level that you prefer. I have found that the canned mild chiles are milder than the mild frozen. If you don't like spicy, stick to mild canned chiles.

Chicken-Potato Enchiladas
(serves 4)

Green Chile Sauce
2 Tablespoons oil
2 Tablespoons flour or masa harina (see Note)
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup thawed frozen green chiles or 8 oz. canned diced chiles
1 Tablespoons dried minced onion
1 cup water or chicken stock
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour or masa and stir. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add cumin, onion, and chiles, stir, and cook for another minute. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir. Bring to a boil, reduce to heat to low, and simmer for at least 10 minutes.

2 cups frozen O'Brien potatoes (cubed potatoes with onions and peppers)
½ teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
8 corn tortillas
rest of a 13 oz. container of frozen green chiles or 4 oz. canned diced chiles
1 ½ cup cooked chicken
1 cup shredded jack cheese (about 4 oz.)

Warm up tortillas so you can roll them: Heat oven to 250°F. Wrap tortillas in aluminum foil. Heat for 20 minutes. Keep wrapped until ready to roll enchiladas.

Increase oven temperature to 350°F. Place potatoes in a microwaveable bowl, cover, and cook on HIGH for 1 ½ minutes. Stir in oil and cumin. Cook for another minute. Transfer to a large bowl. Add salt, pepper, green chiles, cooked chicken, and ½ cup cheese. Mix to combine.

Spread ½ cup sauce in the bottom of a rectangular (8"x10" or 9"x11") baking dish. Lay a tortilla flat on a cutting board. Place about ½ cup of the filling on tortilla along the diameter. Roll up and place in baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with the rest of tortillas. Pour the rest of the sauce over enchiladas and sprinkle on remaining cheese. Bake until hot and bubbly, about 25 minutes. If you want the cheese to brown, increase temperature to 400°F at the end and bake until cheese has browned, another 5 minutes. You can also put it under the broiler for a minute or two to brown if you have used a baking dish that can go under the broiler.

Note: Masa harina is the corn flour used to make corn tortillas and tamales. If you are avoiding gluten, it makes a great thickener here. It also adds a special flavor because masa has a distinctive taste that is singularly Mexican.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Return of the Tofu

Peanut-sauced tofu, chard with garlic & ginger on rice. Yum.

When you test recipes, you have a lot of leftovers. I had a bit of the peanut-sauced tofu that went into the vegetarian spring rolls. I had some leftover rice and a big bunch of chard leaves. It became my lunch today. Super fast and delicious.

I love leftovers!

The tofu recipe is in with the Vegetarian Spring Rolls from my last class.

The chard is a simple greens sauté,  garlic, ginger, oil, salt, and pepper. Check out my post on kale for techniques and ideas for sautéing greens.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Italian Sausage Casserole

Another recipe for stretching a little meat to a hearty meal. Serve with a tossed green salad or a simple steamed green vegetable, like green beans or broccoli.

Italian Sausage Casserole
(serve 4-6)

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ pound Italian sausage (chicken or pork, mild or hot)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried oregano
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup 2% or whole milk
½ teaspoon + a little more black pepper
½ teaspoon + a little more salt
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 large russet potatoes (about 1 ½ lbs), peeled and thinly sliced
non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tablespoon oil, then add the sausage. Break up the sausage into small chunks. Cook until starting to brown. Remove to a small bowl, leaving any fat in the skillet. You want about 1 Tablespoon of fat left. If too little, add some more oil. If too much, pour off the extra and discard (chicken will have very little, pork a bit more). Add onion and sauté for a few minutes until translucent. Reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic. Cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add oregano and flour. Continue to stir for another minute. Add milk, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Scrape up any bits sticking to the pan and continue stirring until sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and mix to combine. Add sausage and garbanzos, and carefully mix into sauce. Layer on potato slices, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and spray with cooking spray. Cover (use foil in you don't have a cover) and bake for 1 hour. Remove the cover and bake another 10 minutes to lightly brown potatoes. Or if your skillet can take the heat, turn the oven to broil and broil to brown the potatoes.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Keeping Beasties at Bay: Part 2

Image from Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. Bureau of Special Services. (03/09/1943 - 09/15/1945)
Food poisoning is no joke. Though most people point to food eaten outside the home, there are plenty of ways to give yourself a visit to the hospital with food you mistreat in your very own home (including things you bring home as leftovers from restaurants).

I previously blogged about how to handle poultry. In this post, I'll discuss the ways you can prevent food poisoning nastiness from happening to you and your loved ones.

One of the biggest factors: personal hygiene. A large number of food-borne illnesses are carried by humans and distributed in a variety of ways. We won't get into the how's here. But, the best way to prevent them is to wash your hands. A lot. It's a great way to prevent a lot of disease, actually. When I started working in restaurants, where washing your hands a lot is routine, (or it should be!) I stopped getting colds.

When should you wash your hands when you are cooking?
  • After going to the bathroom
  • After sneezing and coughing into your hands (I'm really good at doing both of these into my upper sleeve)
  • After touching your face or hair, so get out of the habit of touching either when you are cooking. If you have long hair, tie it up so it doesn't fall into your face. Or the food. Blech!
  • After working with any food that can transmit a food-borne illness. This includes raw eggs, meat, seafood, or poultry.
  • After touching surfaces that others touch a lot, like a doorknob
  • After touching your pets or other people, particularly children
I know that seems like quite a list. If you find yourself or members of your family falling prey to that 24-hour "virus," hand washing can go a long way towards reducing that agony. It's worth it. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Microwave Scrambled Eggs

In my last class, one of my students was shocked to learn that you can make scrambled eggs in the microwave. Not really scrambled eggs but if you consider the eggs on most fast food breakfasts sandwiches "scrambled eggs," you won't be disappointed in these. They are more steamed than scrambled, light and puffy. For weekday breakfasts, these are great - fast and easy and sized for a bagel or English muffin.

Glass storage containers or measuring cups work as cooking containers. A 2-cup round one is the perfect size for the egg to fit on your bagel, but any tall round container that’s microwave safe will work. It puffs up quite a bit. A 2-cup measure may sound huge for one little egg, but any smaller and the egg is going to overflow.

Get your bagel toasting if you want it toasted, because the egg will take less time than the bagel. Just crack the egg into the glass container, add 1 Tablespoon milk or cream, and a little salt and pepper, and scramble it all up with a fork. Microwave the egg for about 1 minute. You’ll see it get really big, but it won’t overflow the container. If you want some melted cheese, sprinkle some grated cheese on top and put it back in for 10-15 seconds. Just scoop the egg with cheese on top onto your bagel.

That's it! No messing up a frying pan and it takes about 1 minute. For a quick breakfast, it's hard to beat.