Recipe for a Rich and Satisfying Walnut Cake

Recipe for a Rich and Satisfying Walnut Cake

Jun 16

Walnut cake is one of those recipes that tastes as rich and satisfying as it sounds. It’s great for breakfast, with coffee, dessert, or an after school snack. It keeps well for days covered in the refrigerator. The small amount of wheat flour included in the ingredients can be omitted and Pareve certified matzoh flour to be substituted for a family favorite Passover dessert, or rice flour for a gluten free option.

Almond flour is available in many groceries, Middle Eastern and natural food stores. It can be difficult to make your own nut flours without turning them into nut butters. The unbleached flour is added to the walnuts in the processor stage to help prevent this. Store any unused almond flour in the refrigerator or freezer.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter for preparing the pan

2 tablespoons sugar for preparing the pan

7 cups of walnut halves

3/4 cup unbleached flour

1 1/2 cups almond flour

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 whole vanilla bean

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tsp Kosher salt

6 eggs, separated and set out to bring to room temperature (about 30 minutes)

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup golden raisins

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish with butter or spray and sprinkle with the sugar. Using a food processor, pulse the walnuts a few times until coarsely chopped. Remove 2 cups of nuts and set aside. Add the unbleached flour and pulse until the mixture is a slightly gritty consistency similar to cornmeal. Add the almond flour and pulse a few times to mix.

In a large bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar until smooth. Add the cream, yogurt and egg yellows and mix well. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the mixture. Add the ground walnut and flour mixture, cinnamon and salt and beat until well mixed.

In a medium deep bowl, beat the egg whites with the lemon juice until stiff peaks form. Fold gently into the large bowl mixture until well incorporated. Fold the chopped walnuts and golden raisins into the mix. Bake about 50 to 55 minutes or until the cake tests done. Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Serving suggestions: This cake is delicious as is, can be iced with a cream cheese frosting, or topped with whipped cream. An easy streusel topping can be made by cutting 3/4 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup flour, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) until crumbly. Top the cake before baking.

Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

Jun 16

Although pies have been on the menu since at least 1303 (that’s the earliest the Oxford English Dictionary has traced the first use of the word), shepherd’s pie is a relative newcomer having graced tables only since around 1885.

Shepherd’s pie originated in the British Isles and usually contains lamb. A similar meal made with beef instead of lamb is called cottage pie. One cook insists that neither one ever contains cheese and another talks of blending cheese in with the hot mashed potatoes. If substituting one meat for another changes the name, then surely substituting beans for meat will also cause a change. So technically speaking, it’s not possible to make a vegetarian shepherd’s pie. However, now it seems the name ‘shepherd’s pie’ is applied to any casserole covered in mashed potatoes.

The rest of the ingredients are basically the same for either shepherd‘s pie or cottage pie: a mixture of vegetables, probably whatever was on hand, and depending on the season that could include onions, celery, or turnips. Some cooks add garlic or paprika and in Scotland they add bay leaves. The mashed potato topping usually includes salt, pepper, butter and cream or an egg. Cooks can exercise their creativity, but must include potatoes and lamb.

Cold weather and comfort food just naturally go together and coming home to the aroma of something good in the oven makes winter a little more pleasant. Although shepherd’s pie was traditionally made with meat, this vegetarian version is delicious and filling enough to satisfy even the most hardcore ‘meat and potato’ lover.

This recipe has been a family favorite for over twenty years.

Shepherd’s Pie

1 ½ cups black beans canned or ¾ cup dry pepper to taste
1 cup tomato sauce 1 pound potatoes, cooked and mashed
2 tablespoons tomato sauce ½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons tomato paste 2 tablespoons sour cream
1 cup chopped onion ¼ teaspoon oregano, crumbled
1 tablespoon butter

If you are using dry beans, it’s a good idea to start the night before by soaking the beans in twice as much water as beans. In the morning drain the beans, cover with fresh water, and cook until tender. If you are using canned beans, there are no prior preparations needed.

Saute’ onions. Mix beans, tomato sauce, tomato paste, onion, oregano, ¼ cup of water and pepper and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for twenty minutes. Spread mixture in 1 ½ quart casserole. Mix potatoes, cheese, sour cream, butter and pepper and spread over bean mixture. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Milk and Expiration Dates Milk and the Sellby Dates Proper Refridgerator Settings – Yes

Milk and Expiration Dates Milk and the Sellby Dates Proper Refridgerator Settings – Yes

May 20

Nowadays, consumers are pulling out those glasses and checking expiration dates more than ever. The recent outbreaks of E.Coli and salmonella have caused people to be much more conscientious than in previous years. However, milk has always been one of those products where people have been cautious. There is nothing like the surprise of pouring an innocent looking glass of milk and tuning up your taste buds for the flavor, only to recoil when bitterness hits the tip of your tongue. What’s even worse are the people who drink out of the cartoon and get the lumpy, curdled fuzz tickling the top lip once they tip the carton.

So is this what happens after the sell by date? The answer is no. The sell by date denotes the amount of time that the milk can be sold in stores, while a ”use by” date denotes the time when the flavor or quality would began to deteriorate. It doesn’t mean that the milk is going to automatically turn into a blob of nastiness on said date. 

On the contrary,  a lot of it depends on conditions of refrigeration and handling within your own home. Regardless of the date, if you leave the milk cartoon out for an extended period of time, even if the date is one week in the distance, it will expire. Refrigeration also plays a part and it is very important to set the temperature at a high enough temperature to conserve food but not freeze products that shouldn’t be frozen. The recommended temperature is between 35 and 38 degrees F (1.7 to 3.3 degrees C for you folks in Europe). However, there are some people who attempt to cut cost and set the temperature at a less than optimal rate and speed of the bacterial growth. Please note that the control settings on the fridge do not indicate the temperature in most cases. Usually the higher the number the colder the temperature, so remember that when your spendthrift hubby sets it on 1.

If you encounter some milk that is past the expiration date, the best thing to do is the SPOT method. Smell it- you can tell a lot about a cartoon of milk through scent alone. Milk should not have a putrid odor. If it smells like cheese, dump it. If it passes the smell test, then POUR a glass and OBSERVE it. if it appears to be separating, clumped or yellow in appearance, dump it. Finally, TASTE it. Sometimes milk can fool you, and that smooth white liquid can taste as rank as Limburger cheese.  If the milk passes the SPOT method, relax and drink up! You may even save yourself some money in the long run.

Reference:
1. Welcome to Forget-Me-Not Farms | Frequently Asked Questions
2. Is It Okay to Eat Foods Past Their Expiration Dates? – Len Penzo dot …

Metabolism Boosting Foods

Metabolism Boosting Foods

May 19

Capsaicin: Capsaicin is the active chemical in the capsicum family of peppers, or in other words – hot peppers. This interesting chemical has been found to do a number of things of the years. It can lower the neurotransmitter referred to as ‘substance P’. Substance P is, in a nut shell, a chemical that allows our nerves to register pain. The less substance P the more punishment you would be able to withstand before it became painful. For that reason Capsaicin is currently being researched and used in clinical trials as a pain killer. In fact, you can find it as the primary ingredient for many topical arthritis, and muscle ache creams in local drug stores.

It is also a mild natural euphoric chemical. The fact that it causes a burning sensation on every animal tissue it touches means we can use our bodies own defense mechanisms to have that ‘feel good’ experience. Researchers have discovered that when enough Capsaicin is consumed, the intense heat causes the brain to release endorphins causing the same feeling that runner’s call, ‘The Runner’s High’.

How does it effect our metabolism? Well that would have to do with Capsaisin’s ability to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system. This the same system involved in what we call the “Fight or Flight” response. When you eat a lot of hot peppers, your mouth isn’t the only thing heating up. Your body temperature goes up and literally start to swear. An easy way to give your metabolism a little boost. Obviously for some people this method just isn’t feasible as many can not stand the heat. But It Hurts So Good!

Grapefruit: Yes, I know – Grapefruit has been the center of many wacky diets. Even my own mother has tried a couple of them. I think it was to just eat grapefruit and bacon all day. Grapefruit doesn’t hold the hidden secrets of weight loss. What it does have is the ability to lower circulating levels of insulin and keep them stable. This is a big part of lowering overall body fat levels. Adding grapefruit to your eating regimen won’t knock off 10 pounds in a couple of weeks. However, being consistent with it will certainly help speed the overall process. Have a couple slices after your meals.

Protein: Hey, that Atkins guy was actually on to something. Years after he published his books, and even after his death, researchers are now starting to chime into Dr. Atkins’ tune. Protein has a powerful effect on metabolism. Your body has to do a lot of work to fully metabolize this nutrient, which of course has a high caloric cost. It is also difficult to store protein as fat. Yes, excess calorie intake will lead to fat accumulation. However, protein would go through a process called De Novo lipogenesis. This also requires a lot of energy and is something the human body would rather not do. Think for a minute if you had to make a soda can out of a piece of wood. It would require a lot of time effort and energy on your part, and you probably rather wait until a tin can just came your way, right?

Despite what many anti-protein advocates will try to push on you, an increased protein intake, for the apparently healthy individual does not cause kidney stones, gall stones, kidney disease, gout arthritis, or cause your liver to fail. For people who have certain metabolic defects or are afflicted with certain diseases, such as gout or kidney failure, yes high protein intake can make the problem worse. But for the healthy individual it will not cause the conditions to manifest. When you stop to think about it, the human body is just a big hair protein bag full of water. Why would such an essential nutrient like protein cause so many problems? So give your protein intake a little boost. But as with everything in life, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing – even water! Have some more egg whites with breakfast, chicken breast with lunch and try some fish with dinner. On a side note, Fatty fish – Tuna, salmon etc are a good source of those Omega-3’s.So Eat up!

High Fiber Vegetables: Mom was right – Eat your vegetables. But logic was a little different than what we are talking about here. Fiber is a part of plant material that humans can not completely digest. We do not have the right enzymes to break it down. It passes through your digestive track largely intact. Our bodies put up a pretty good fight to work it down as much as possible. Starting with Chewing. When was the last time you sat down to a bowl of raw broccoli and tried to finish it off dry? That is a lot of work! Your jaw is tired after 5 minutes. the chewing alone requires almost as much caloric energy as there is in the broccoli itself. Researchers have coined the phrase ‘Negative Calories’.

This pertains to a lot of the hard, crunchy, plain vegetables like celery and broccoli. The caloric cost of chewing, digesting and metabolizing the plant material is actually greater than the total calories in the food!. It is virtually impossible to eat to many vegetables when you are trying to lose weight. However, if you are not accustomed to eating large amounts of fiber ( 3 – 40 g/day ) then I would advise working your way up. Start by assessing your current fiber intake and work your way up slowly week by week. Trust my you’ll thank me later!

Water: Water seems to pop up in just about every topic relating to fitness and nutrition. You will from time to time see it in articles on fat loss and weight management. Usually the reasoning is a bit off. You will often see people talk about how if flushes loose body fat from the system or removes fat from the bloodstream so it can’t be deposited, removing toxins or something along those lines. Which all may very have some truth behind it, but that has nothing to do with actually losing body fat. No, water’s fat loss potential comes from it’s temperature. You see, a heavy portion of the estimated 1800 – 2000 calories humans expend on just living every day is a result of what is called thermoregulation. Your body’s ability to maintain an internal temperature of a toasty 98.6 degrees.

When you drink an ice cold glass of water, it will lower your body’s core temperature. Research has determined that a single 16oz bottle of water will increase your metabolic rate by about 30% within 10 minutes of drinking it. This effect tops out after about 40 minutes. Is that significant? You bet your bottled water it is! Drinking the recommended eight 8oz glasses of water would increase your resting energy expenditure by about 200 calories. And that my friends is how water aides in fat loss. In a not so logical way, water stokes the metabolic fires.

Calcium: You have probably seen the milk and yogurt ads recently about the benefits dairy products have on fat loss. A few recent research studies have reported that when obese people were put on isocaloric ( the same amount of calories ) diets, but some were given milk to fill some of those calories, they lost weight much faster than those with out milk. Researchers are saying that calcium has a direct effect on your metabolism. Meaning that the amount of calcium in your diet will play a big role in just how easy or difficult it is for you to gain / lose weight. The catch 22 here is that just adding some calcium supplements to the mix doesn’t seem to have the same effect. It appears that the calcium is best when obtained from dairy sources.

This fact alone has cause some suspicion to arise, and rightfully so. Many think it has been a ploy by the dairy industry to increase revenue. Health officials have demanded many companies to stop running their weight loss ads. However, there are many supplements based on research using whole foods that have never panned out due to the fact that whole foods have many nutrients that we just aren’t aware of yet which may play a role in a lot of their health benefits. There could be something to the whole dairy food thing. There hasn’t been a lot of research on the topic, but what research that is available is compelling. So for that reason I recommend to try to get a few servings of low fat dairy in to the mix. A cup of yogurt, a glass of milk and a 1/2 cup of cottage cheese on the day and you are set!

And there you have it folks. 6 sure fire ways to increase your metabolism today!

Reference:
1. Foods That Boost Your Metabolism Naturally – Health.com
2. 18 Metabolism-Boosting Foods – Prevention

Match the Cheese and Fruit

Match the Cheese and Fruit

May 19

When it comes to making a cheese and fruit platter, there are many options. Following are a few things to consider when putting together your platter.

How much cheese and fruit to buy   

Before you decide which cheeses and fruit to buy, you need to know about how many people you’ll be feeding. You should also know what else is on the menu. Is the cheese and fruit plate the only appetizer or one of many? Most experts recommend 1 to 2 ounces per person.

How many varieties

Deciding how many varieties is a purely personal thing. Some people like to offer just one special cheese, while others prefer three to five different types. Let your personal tastes and budget determine what you want to offer. A good rule of thumb is that if you are incorporating several different cheeses, it is wise to mix hard and soft varieties. Avoid cheese that is too pungent; it can overwhelm the more subtle varieties.

Types of fruit

Using fruit that is local and in season is a safe bet.  If it’s spring, add strawberries. Use watermelon in the summer and apples in the fall. You can always supplement with grapes, which are good in almost any season. Pears are also almost always available.

Try to choose fruits that won’t darken or that can hold up to being exposed to air for an hour or more.

The platter

While the platter itself isn’t as important as what you put on it, you will want one that is appropriate for the occasion. If the event has a theme, by all means match your platter to the theme or occasion. Some suggestions include using a melamine tray found at discount stores and available in colorful styles and shapes.

If the event is more formal, a silver or crystal tray may fit the bill. Or, use a cutting board, which actually is a great choice since it allows guests to slice the cheese easily.

Utensils

Be sure to have a cheese knife for every cheese, tongs, forks, cocktail picks and napkins available for guests to help themselves with.

What to include

You might pick one country and feature their cheeses. Or, you might introduce your guests to a variety of cheese from goat and sheep milk in addition to cow’s milk. A mix of hard and soft is always appropriate for every occasion.

Specific combinations

Cheeses of France: include a Brie, a Camembert and a Comte. This gives you a soft, a hard and a fragrant. Small slices of French bread, bright red strawberries and grapes will make a perfect presentation.

Cheddar platter: You can create an international cheddar platter with varieties from the United States mixed with those of England and Ireland. Cheddar goes perfectly with apples, which apple pie fans have recognized for a long time.

The possibilities are endless, let your tastes and imagination be your guide. The beauty of a cheese and fruit platter is that it requires little attention once it is put out. Just replenish anything that is popular and let the guests enjoy themselves. Cheese and fruit is safe on the counter for several hours unless it is very warm. If the weather is too warm, refrigerate until the last minute.

Reference:
1. Cheese Pairing – Ideas for Cheese and Wine, Beer, Fruit, Bread …
2. Favourite fruit and cheese pairing. – Chowhound

Low Fat Frozen Treats to Make at Home

Low Fat Frozen Treats to Make at Home

May 19

It’s almost summer time; time for BBQs, family fun, and events full of tempting treats.  You’ve worked hard all year watching your diet so you can look fit for and cute for these events.  Don’t fall victim to all those tempting foods.  Stand out from the crowd and serve low fat frozen healthy treats at your parties this summer.   Please enjoy the following 3 low fat frozen treats you can make at home.  

•  Bananas are low in saturated fat plus they are a good source of vitamins.  On hot summer family days try making banana popsicles.  This homemade treat is one that the kids will enjoy helping out with as well. 

You will need:

4 lg. bananas, halved
Popsicle sticks
Wax paper
Cookie sheet

Directions:

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Insert popsicle stick into each banana half and repeat.  Once all bananas have sticks place the cookie sheet into the freezer for 2-3 hours or until frozen. 

•  Your guest will be talking about this low fat tasty homemade treat for a long time.  At your next party set up a diet Icee station for your guest. 

You will need:

8 ozs of diet pepsi or diet coke (one per guest)
1/4 cup home made light whipped cream (per icee)
Straws
Cups
Ice (cubes)
Bowl (large enough to fit lots of ice)
Ice tongs (or someway for guest to get ice cubes out)

Directions:

Once your guest arrive to your party on a hot summer day, set a bowl of ice in the middle of the drink table surrounded with cups.  Place straws in each cup before guest arrive. You make the first icee so everyone can get the idea of how to make it.  Place a few ice cubes in your cup, then put about ¼ cup of your light whipped cream into your cup full of ice. Pour in your diet Pepsi or diet Coke.  As you are pouring the fizz will start dissolving, once your cup is full to your liking, stir with the straw.  Your guest will enjoy their low fat diet icee with homemade light whipped cream. 

•  Mocha Mousse is a delicious low fat homemade frozen treat that will be a big hit at your next party.  This treat is only 100 calories per serving, 0g fat per serving, and 0% calories from fat.   Mocha mouse is a low fat frozen treat that has to be made 2 hours before serving.  This recipe makes 4 servings-for more than 4 guests adjust the recipe as needed.  

You will need:

8 ounces light whipped cream
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

4 small cups
1 tablespoon of instant coffee with less than 5 calories per teaspoon Nescafe Taster’s Choice has great selections.

Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and whisk until blended well, or can use an electric beater on low.  Spoon your mixture into 4 small cups.  Cover with plastic wrap and freeze.  After two or more hours in the freezer your low fat frozen mocha mousse is ready to serve. 

Nutrition facts:

Diet Pepsi

Low fat whipped cream

Unsweetened cocoa

Reference:
1. Healthy Frozen Dessert Recipes Under 150 Calories | MyRecipes.com
2. Top 10 – Best Ever Simple and Easy Healthy Frozen Treats