Tidewater Kitchen: February 2006

Be Kind To Your Heart

Everyone loves dessert, but it may be one of the main sources of hidden calories in our diets. During the month of February, we celebrate National Heart Month and Valentine’s Day. Preparing heart-healthy recipes for your loved ones may be challenging, but it is certainly a worthwhile goal.
Remember to incorporate healthier desserts and good nutrition into your Valentine’s Day menu. Your sweeties ones will love it and you will love providing them with a nutritional healthy meal.
A healthy lifestyle not only includes good nutrition, but also physical fitness, stress reduction and medical management for prevention and treatment of health problems. You hold the key to determining the quality of your life and choosing good nutrition and exercise habits will help your body respond to your needs.

APPLES and APRICOTS with GRANOLA
This nutritious dish is so delicious that it seems like eating dessert for breakfast.

2/3 cup dried apricots, diced
1 cup water
4 cups tart apples, peeled and sliced
2 Tablespoons raisins
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup Granola
3/4 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt

Soak the apricots in the water for 1 hour. Pour the apricots and water into a small saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the apples, raisins, cinnamon and lemon juice and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes, or until the apples are tender.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Transfer the apple mixture to a quart baking dish or six ramekins. Top with the granola and bake for 10 minutes. Serve warm, with a dollop of vanilla yogurt. Serves 6.

GRANOLA
Delicious served with skim milk, nonfat yogurt and fresh fruit.

4 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1 ripe banana, chopped
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 Tablespoons canola oil
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Combine the oats, sesame seeds, almonds and coconut in a 9x13-inch baking dish.
Combine the banana, maple syrup, canola oil and cinnamon In a food processor and puree.
Drizzle the puree over the oats and mix until thoroughly coated. Bake for 35 minutes, stirring several times, until lightly toasted. Stir in the wheat germ and bake for another 8 minutes.
Remove the mixture from the oven and stir in the raisins. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

MINI VEGETABLE CHEESE BALLS
These are loaded with lots of flavor and are perfect alone or with toasted pita wedges.

1/2 cup bell pepper, any color
1 rib celery, about 1/2 cup, diced or minced
2 green onions, about 1/4 cup, thinly sliced
2 oz. fat-free cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons goat cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup finely snipped fresh parsley

Stir together all ingredients except the parsley in a medium bowl. Put parsley on a plate. Using a round tablespoon measure, scoop up 1 scant tablespoon of the cheese mixture. Roll into a ball. Roll the ball in the parsley, turning to coat. Shake off the excess parsley and repeat with the remaining cheese mixture. Serve or cover to refrigerate until ready to serve.

WILD RICE SALAD with CHICKEN
4 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast, poached and cut into cubes
13 oz. (2-3/4 cups) cooked wild rice
1½ cups green seedless grapes, sliced in half
1 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Dressing:
2 shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup tarragon vinegar
1 Tablespoon safflower oil
1 teaspoon low-salt soy sauce
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons minced fresh tarragon

2 heads butter lettuce
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
6 tarragon sprigs for garnish

Combine the chicken, wild rice, grapes, celery, parsley and chives in a large bowl and toss until blended.
Make the dressing the a food processor or blender. Combine the shallots, garlic, wine and vinegar and puree. With the machine running, slowly pour in the oil until blended. Stir in the soy sauce, pepper and minced tarragon.
Add the dressing tot he rice mixture and toss until well blended. Stir in the walnuts. Arrange 2 whole lettuce leaves on each of 6 plates, fill with a mound of shredded lettuce, and top with 1/6 of the rice mixture. Garnish with a tarragon sprig. Serves 6.
Notes: Since toasting intesifies the flavor of nuts, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, spread the nuts on a baking sheet for 5-10 minutes or until fragrant.

ASPARAGUS SALAD
with SHERRY VINAIGRETTE

2 bundles of asparagus
1 head romaine lettuce
2 heads radicchio
6 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
1 box alfalfa sprouts

Sherry Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon each of chopped fresh parsley, tarragon and chives
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Peel the butt ends of the asparagus with a vegetable peeler and place the asparagus in a steamer basket and steam over boiling water for 5 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Immediately remove the spears from the pan, run cold water over them and drain.
To make the vinaigrette, combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor while the machine is running.
Arrange the lettuce and radicchio leaves on each of 6 plates. Top with the asparagus spears, garnish with cherry tomatoes and sprouts and drizzle with the sherry vinaigrette. Serves 6.

EGGS with CURRIED TOFU
The curry powder gives the egg whites the yellow color of whole eggs.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 onion, finely diced
1/2 small zucchini, finely diced
1/4 small carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 small tomato, finely diced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh oregano, thyme and lavender
2 oz. firm tofu, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
Freshly ground pepper to taste
8 egg whites
4 corn tortillas, warmed

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and saute the onion, zucchini and carrot for 3 minutes over medium-high heat. Add the tomato, jalapeno, garlic, oregano, thyme and lavender and saute for 2 minutes. Sprinkle the tofu over the vegetables and sprinkle the curry powder and pepper on top.
Reduce heat to low and stir in the egg whites. Continue to cook and stir for 8-10 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Serve 1/4 of the eggs with a warm tortilla and pass the salsa. Serves 4.

TOMATILLO SALSA
This salsa is delicious over eggs, grilled chicken, fish or most Mexican dishes.

1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
Cayenne pepper to taste
2 ancho chilies (these are dried poblano chilies available in specialty food stores) - stemmed and seeded
10 fresh tomatillo, husked, rinsed and chopped
1/2 cup water
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Salt to taste

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil and saute the onion and chilies for about 2 minutes, or until the chilies are toasted. Remove the chilies and add the tomatillo, water and garlic. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Combine all ingredients together for fresh salsa.

GRILLED SWORDFISH
with KIWI SALSA

Make the salsa an hour before cooking the fish to blend the flavors.

3 kiwi, peeled and diced
2 Tablespoons minced green onion
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 drops hot pepper sauce
Four 4-oz. swordfish steaks or other firm white fish, cut 1/2-inch thick

Mix all the salsa ingredients together, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Meanwhile, light a fire in a charcoal grill or preheat the broiler. Coat the cooking rack with vegetable oil spray away from the flame and grill or broil the swordfish for about 3 minutes on each side, or until opaque throughout, turning the make diamond grill marks.
Serve the fish with the kiwi salsa on the side. Serves 4.

QUINOA with PARSLEY
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a mild-tasting alternative to rice or other grains. It is a good source of protein, calcium, and amino acid lysine.

1½ cups canned low-salt vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Add the salt, quinoa, and bay leaf. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Add the parsley and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Serve warm. Serves 4.

ALMOND TORTE
with KAHLUA SAUCE

1/3 cup blanched almonds
2 honey graham crackers, broken
2 egg yolks
15 oz. low-fat ricotta cheese
3 Tablespoons flour
1/3 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
4 egg whites
12 strawberries for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a quart souffle dish with vegetable oil spray. In a food processor, process the almonds until coarsely ground. Add the graham crackers and process until finely ground. Add the egg yolks, ricotta, flour, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla and almond extracts and process to mix thoroughly.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the ricotta mixture, then fold in the remaining whites until blended. Pour the batter into the prepared dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes. Unmold the torte and cut into wedges. Serve with a drizzle of cocoa-Kahlua sauce and garnish with strawberry. Serves 12.

COCOA-KAHLUA SAUCE
A delicious sauce that satisfies the craving of a chocolate lover.

1/2 cup of 1% milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons Kahlua
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly before serving. Makes 1 cup.

PEACH-BANANA SORBET
Peach and banana blend together to make a sweet, rich sorbet. Before serving let the sorbet sit at room temperature until slightly soft.

2 peaches, peeled pitted and chopped
1 banana, sliced
2½ cups fresh orange juice
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
2-3 Tablespoons honey

In a blender, combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions.
To serve, spoon the sorbet into chilled bowls. Serves 8.

CINNAMON APPLE BARS
These are a great snack to take to school or for after school.

Vegetable spray
2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup drained canned unsweetened apple slices
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup cranberry applesauce
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with vegetable spray.
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and baking soda. Then in another bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients. Slowly add the flour to the moistened batter. Pour into the baking pan.
Bake for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Let cool on cooling rack to 10 minutes, then cut them into bars.

GINGERBREAD MUFFINS
These are great on the run or for breakfast.

15 oz. box of gingerbread mix
1¼ cup orange juice
1 large egg
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 16 nonstick muffin cups with vegetable oil spray.
Put cake mix, orange juice and egg in a large mixing bowl. Mix using the package directions.
Stir in the pumpkin and 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups. I like to use an ice cream scooper to put the mixture into the pans.
Combine 2 Tablespoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on each muffin.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the muffin springs back when lightly touched in the center.