Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday’s Last Spoonful: Hansen’s Diet Soda

A cool drink to root for

The Mixed Stew Crew spotted this special soda, which is whimsically packaged, while strolling down the beverage aisle at Safeway. Hansen’s prides itself on making natural sodas, which have no caffeine, no preservatives, and artificial flavors. Look for unique and fun flavors, such as tangerine lime, grapefruit, and kiwi strawberry. There’s no aspartame sweetener in their sodas. Hansen’s uses Splenda. We bought a package of eight canned diet root beer sodas that were on sale for $2.98. We were pleasantly surprised by the strong and refreshing root beer flavors in every gulp.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thursday's Side Dish: Stuffed Cucumber Rounds

A cool treat that can be a meal

If you feel like something light and refreshing, try this appetizer as a light lunch. Cool cucumber rounds hold tuna spiked with fresh dill, minced onion, lime juice, and cilantro. We think that these will go fast at your next party. Here is our recipe:

What you will need:

1 wooden spoon
2 medium-sized bowls
1 (12 oz) can tuna, drained
1 cup ice-cold water
2 large cucumbers, peeled, cut, and cored
½ small yellow onion, minced
¼ cup lime juice
1 teaspoon fresh dill, minced
2 teaspoons, minced cilantro
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
Salt and black pepper

Cooking and Preparation:

Soak cucumber slices in ice-cold water that’s salted for ½ hour in bowl. Combine tuna, onion, lime juice, fresh dill, minced cilantro, mayonnaise, salt, and black pepper in bowl. Mix well. Fill cucumbers with tuna mix. Chill and cut into slices. Garnish with fresh dill or freshly chopped cilantro.

Helpful Hint: Add hot pepper flakes to tuna mixture if you wanna make this a spicier appetizer.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday’s Helping: Cucumbers

Say yes to cool cukes

We like our cucumbers to be crisp and cool — especially when they’re in season, which is now. Cucumbers are scientifically known as Cucumis sativus and are related to squashes and melons. Some types of cucumbers work well for pickling while others (aka slicing cucumbers) are best eaten raw and fresh. Different varieties of cucumbers include: Kirby, Japanese, lemon, and Armenian.

The average size of cucumbers on the market ranges between six to nine inches with a few varieties that are smaller or larger. Look for the typical cylinder-like shape with skin colors that vary between white, light green, and dark green. Still other kinds of cucumbers have outside ridges. Farmers have recently developed “burpless” and seedless cucumbers that are easier to digest. We suggest that you scrape out the watery seedy portion from the middle when preparing raw cucumbers for salads. Meanwhile, other cooks prefer to skin cucumbers before adding them to dishes

Historians believe that the plant originated in Asia many centuries ago and was later introduced to the Middle East and Europe by explorers. Furthermore, the Colonist brought cucumbers with them over to the Americas. The Spanish have been pickling cucumbers since Ancient times while the French cultivated them in greenhouses since the reign of Louis XIV.

Select cucumbers that are firm and lack blemishes. Avoid cucumbers that have water-soaked areas and wrinkled ends. If you aren't going to prepare and consumer them right away, keep cucumbers refrigerated. Cucumbers contain a lot of Vitamin C, dietery fiber, and caffeic acid, which promotes healthy skin and a clear complexion.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday’s Cupful: Worcestershire Sauce

Another brown sauce to add to your collection

What do you think of when someone mentions Worcestershire sauce? A dash of this condiment can jazz up sauces and dishes. Lea & Perrins began making and selling its Worcestershire sauce in 1835. Today, Worcestershire sauce is also the generic name — taken from the British county of its origin — for this popular condiment, which mainly contains water and vinegar with a few or all of the following: tamarind, anchovy sauce, soy sauce, onion, garlic, and molasses. Lea & Perrins ages its sauce for 18 months, in wooden barrels, while other generic brands age theirs for as little as two months. Consumers can also look for low-sodium and vegetarian varieties on grocery store shelves. Lea & Perrins is the only brand with a label that says, “Original and Genuine.”

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday’s Bread Bowl: Cucumber Macaroni Salad

A worthy fill-in for crunchy ingredients

Have you ever tried adding diced cucumber to your ordinary macaroni salad recipe? The Mixed Stew Crew suggests doing just that the next time you make macaroni salad, tuna salad, or chicken salad. We tweaked this Food Network recipe by substituting diced cucumber for celery and look at the yummy result. Just remember to scrape out the watery, seedy core of the cucumber before proceeding to dice. Try adding cucumber to guacamole or sliced cucumber to a Rueben sandwich. The possibilities are endless. The cucumber adds a crisp bite and crunch with more depth in flavors. There’s also an extra nutritional bonus since cucumbers are a source of dietary fiber and Vitamin C. Do you have other ideas on where to add cucumber?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday's Bread Bowl: A Week of Travel

On hiatus until next Monday

The Mixed Stew crew is traveling this week, looking for fresh new ideas to post. We're also enjoying the company of family from out of town. Check in next week for new posts. Thanks!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday’s Last Spoonful: Garden Variety

We’re finally seeing red

The Mixed Stew crew has picked the first ripe tomatoes from our garden. They’re not as big as store bought; however, they’re beautiful and we’re enjoying eating them. On a sad note, it appears that one of the wild bunnies, which we spot from time to time, nibbled on a few of the cucumber plants. No big deal. We’re now keeping a closer eye out for such—deceptively cute--vermin. Otherwise, the hot pepper plants also have green/ red fruits that we’re hoping to use in sauces and stir-frys.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday’s Side Dish: Zucchini and Red Onion Salad

Changing things up for summer

This colorful and refreshing salad is just right for the summer. We usually use cucumber in this kind of a recipe but decided to try something else. Zucchini provides a crisp and satisfying bite that’s a perfect accompaniment to tangy red onion and little cubes of flavorful feta cheese. We dressed all these ingredients up with a shot of red wine, vinegar, and a pinch of black pepper.
Here is our recipe:

What you will need:

1 medium-sized bowl
Plastic wrap
1 wooden spoon
2-3 medium sized zucchini squashes, roughly sliced into 2-inch spears
1 red onion, sliced
½ cup feta cheese, diced into bite-sized cubes
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup red wine (we used cabernet sauvignon)
6 mint leaves
Pinch of black pepper

Preparation and Directions:

Combine zucchini, red onion, feta cheese, and mint in bowl. Mix well. Add black pepper, red wine, and white vinegar. Toss well and cover with plastic wrap. Finally, place salad in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or even overnight and then serve.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday's Helping: Zucchini

Garden treasure that is totally tubular

We're talking about awesome zucchini. Picking one right off the plant means that it’s the hot summer time here on the U.S. East Coast. This summer squash is related to cucumber and is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family. Look for bottle-shaped fruits that can range in color from light to dark green, yellow, and others have yellow and green striations. The inside flesh, which contains many seeds, is off-white with a yellow tint.

Zucchini possesses slightly earthy and buttery flavors. The whole squash (seeds and all) is edible. The squash originated in the Americas with Christopher Columbus carrying some back to Europe. The most popular varieties called “zucchini” became popular and were developed in Italy in subsequent centuries. Zucchini started to grow in popularity in the U.S. during the 1920s. Today, most major grocery stores have zucchini year-around. Grocery stores import zucchini from Central and South America during the winter months.

Remember that this is a fruit that’s treated as a vegetable. Try substituting diced zucchini to a stir-fry instead of eggplant or mushrooms. We also suggest grilling this squash at your next outdoor barbecue. Select fresh zucchini that are heavy for their size and have unblemished skin. This fruit is a good source dietary fiber along with Vitamins A and C.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tuesday’s Cupful: Stove Top Mix

More than just stuffing

Do you use Stove Top stuffing mix only for Thanksgiving and other holiday dinners? We hope that our zucchini casserole has opened your mind to the possibilities. Kraft makes several different flavors: chicken, cornbread, turkey, and savory herb. Look for (6 oz) boxes and (8 or 12 oz) canisters of this popular stuffing mix. Try adding chopped fried potato cubes and other ingredients—like chopped chicken breast, pieces of cooked sausage, or diced apple-- to make a unique and fancier stuffing with a homemade touch.

Helpful Hint: Send boxes or canisters of this easy-to-make comfort food item to kids who are away at college.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday's Bread Bowl: Zucchini Casserole

Fill up with a zesty veggie dish

We like this zucchini casserole, which is yummy and hearty. A box of Stove Top stuffing mix is the key ingredient. The herbs in the stuffing mix provide a lot of flavor that enhances the taste of cooked zucchini. Meanwhile, the breadcrumbs end up fluffy and filling. Here is the recipe:

What you will need:

1 (9-inch x 13-inch) baking dish
1 wooden spoon
1 large bowl
Aluminum foil
1 box of Kraft Stove Top (Select your favorite flavor, we used Chicken), already prepared
Non-stick cooking spray
1 lb ground chicken, cooked and crumbled
2 medium zucchinis, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
½ small yellow onion, chopped
Pepper to taste

Cooking and Directions:

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Combine prepared stuffing, zucchini, bell pepper, garlic, onion, and ground chicken in large bowl. Mix well. Grease bottom and sides of baking dish with cooking spray. Pour stuffing mixture into greased baking dish. Cover baking dish with foil and place in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes. Remove foil cover 15 minutes before end of cooking time.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday's Last Spoonful: Hawaiian Portuguese Sausage

A meaty bite from the islands

The July 4th holiday means that the Mixed Stew crew is serving up some of our favorite "oldies but goodies" during this week. We hope everyone takes a break sometime this summer for some much needed rest and relaxation. 'Til next week -- enjoy!

Post from December 1, 2009

Hawaiian Portuguese sausage comes in large links that are prepared for breakfast in Hawaii and Guam. The big links are sliced into rounds that are pan-fried or grilled. The flavor is porky with a slight sweetness and hints of specific herbs and spices, such as paprika. Breakfast platters in Guam and Hawaii consist of 3 to 5 pieces of Hawaiian Portuguese sausage, fried eggs, and steamed rice. In the islands, McDonald’s restaurants include Hawaiian Portuguese sausage on the morning menu. Hawaiian Portuguese sausage may be considered a regional variant of the more widely known Portuguese linguica. Portuguese immigrants and sailors brought sausage to Hawaii in the early 1800s.

The flavor is less acidic, sweeter, and milder than linguica. The Mixed Stew crew orders Hawaiian Portuguese sausage. It's not easy to find on the East Coast, and after a search of retail outlets that might carry the product, we gave up. But thanks to a friend, we discovered an outfit in Maui that will ship the sausages at a reasonable price. We stock up in winter to allow the sausages to stay cool during shipping. So right about now is the time to consider placing an order. Try some Hawaiian Portuguese sausage for the holidays!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thursday's Side Dish: Field Trip

Benii: Upper Tumon, Guam

The July 4th holiday means that the Mixed Stew crew is serving up some of our favorite "oldies but goodies" during this week. We hope everyone takes a break sometime this summer for some much needed rest and relaxation. 'Til next week -- enjoy!

Post from October 30, 2009

As a change of pace, The Mixed Stew is starting a new feature. The crew will occasionally take readers on a field trip and talk about a dining destination that is interesting and worth checking out. Keeping with the Asian theme we started on Monday, we'll end this week by highlighting the and Asian fare served at Benii in Upper Tumon, Guam. We enjoyed the Korean-style BBQ short ribs (galbi or kalbi). The beef ribs are well-marinated (mostly in soy sauce) and nicely grilled to obtain a flavorful caramelization without drying out the meat. Look for a combination of sweet, tangy, and charbroiled flavors when it comes to these yummy short ribs. Side dishes are a fresh lettuce salad and a hefty portion of steamed rice. Benii also offers special Japanese Maki sushi rolls, Japanese-style curry, and Japanese-style fried chicken called karaage. We also ordered okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake) with shaved bonito, octopus, and seaweed. Items on the menu are priced starting at $5.00. The restaurant was packed at lunchtime during for a weekday. And now, we know why.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wednesday's Helping: Catonsville Farmers' Market

Farmers' market rave

The July 4th holiday means that the Mixed Stew crew is serving up some of our favorite "oldies but goodies" during this week. We hope everyone takes a break sometime this summer for some much needed rest and relaxation. 'Til next week -- enjoy!

Post from August 5, 2009

Farmers’ markets are hopping across the country. Nelly and I are big fans of farmers’ markets for their fresh produce. Last year, a vendor introduced Nelly to a type of heirloom tomato that has a pineapple flavor. Look for unique varieties of fruits and vegetables that don’t show up in big-chain grocery stores, such as white eggplant, white cucumbers, striped tomatoes and purple beans. We’ve found large red onions with leafy green stalks that are sweet and less acidic. Giant ears of corn sold from huge wooden crates by the dozens at our nearby market often attract customers.

Maple syrup, honey, and organic eggs are some other specialty food items available at farmers’ markets, depending on the region. Who knows? You just might find smoked salmon and different smoked cheeses at the market one day.

The outdoor weekend flea market on Guam has fresh produce year-round. Produce and their by-products are in abundance. On a recent trip, Mom bought some aromatic coconut oil -- a must-have at home as a soothing salve for stomach aches.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesday's Cupful: Mango Mania

A mango montage

The July 4th holiday means that the Mixed Stew crew is serving up some of our favorite "oldies but goodies" during this week. We hope everyone takes a break sometime this summer for some much needed rest and relaxation. 'Til next week -- enjoy!

Post from July 3, 2009

Here is a collection of images from the annual Mango Festival in Agat, Guam U.S.A. Can you believe the size of some of these babies? We will be back next week with more selections for you to enjoy.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Monday's Bread Bowl: Real Ramen

Salty pork ramen, an authentic dish

The July 4th holiday means that the Mixed Stew crew is serving up some of our favorite "oldies but goodies" during this week. We hope everyone takes a break sometime this summer for some much needed rest and relaxation. 'Til next week -- enjoy!

Post from June 15, 2009

This special Japanese ramen soup is a delicacy. Just the broth alone has a richness and taste that makes it 10 times more flavorful than the instant ramen at the supermarket. It’s carefully prepared at Santoka Ramen inside Mitsuwa Market Place in Edgewater, N.J. Bowls may come with all ingredients delicately mixed together or else the dish may be ordered "deconstructed" with an accompanying side dish of seaweed, pickled radish, and melt-in-your-mouth pork slices. Eat these separately or mix it in the piping-hot bowl yourself. The fresh noodles are also cooked to a perfect consistency so it's almost al dente and not near mush. This is authentic Japanese fast food. Here is more info on Santoka Ramen at Mitsuwa in N.J.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday’s Last Spoonful: Garden Variety

There’s finally fruit to smile about
The tomato plants have green fruit that’s growing larger by the day. Tomato plants love the sun and hot weather. The cucumber plants have us laughing with the unusual shapes of several growing fruits. We’re also happy to report that our habanero plant also has blossoms and maturing peppers. The eggplants are really slow; however, there are several blossoms and emerging fruits on each plant. How’s your vegetable garden holding up?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thursday’s Side Dish: Mint Sauce

Another saucy delight to smile about
The Mixed Stew crew found Gilway’s Fresh Garden Mint Sauce at Fresh Market. The contents look like a yummy and green mint pesto. We paid $6.49 for a 6.5 oz jar that will go a long way in the kitchen. Gilway suggests that consumers serve it with lamb or combine it with mayonnaise or yogurt in a crudités dip. We suggest going a step further -- make a rich and luxurious dip by adding a bit of this sauce to crème fraîche. Also, add this some of this sauce to your next batch of tuna salad or macaroni salad for refreshing and minty change in flavor. Do you have any other ideas on where this minty sauce can come in handy in the kitchen?