Steak, Potatoes and Carrots — A Tasty Trio

My hunting companions and I rarely go hungry when we’re on a trip. On our most recent excursion to western North Dakota, we feasted on some pheasant soup with a Southwestern flair as well as a nice meal of elk sausage cooked in homemade sauerkraut and served with mashed potatoes.

We’re out again this weekend, and one of the items on the menu is elk steak that we’ll fry in onions and possibly some mushrooms. We’ll also have a bunch of cooked carrots from my garden and potatoes to go along with the meat.

Last fall, we discovered that steak cooked with onions, steamed carrots and mashed potatoes go together perfectly, so we decided to duplicate the meal again this year.

We didn’t really follow a recipe, but while I was doing a little research on the subject recently, the following recipe came to my attention. It’s contains a few more ingredients than we’ll have on hand at the hunting shack, but it might be worth looking at for a future meal at home.

Steaks with Potatoes and Carrots
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried minced onion
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 4- to 6-ounce tenderloin, or ribeye steaks, about 3 inches thick
4 small red potatoes, quartered
3 tablespoons butter
½ medium yellow onion, sliced thin
10 large mushrooms, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chicken stock
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 cups carrots
Salt and pepper to taste
Place potatoes in a medium pot with water and boil until tender.
While potatoes are cooking, combine steak rub ingredients. Rub over all sides of the steaks then set to the side.
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and garlic. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes more. Add chicken stock and cook until the stock has evaporated. Remove from heat and cover with foil to keep warm.
Check potatoes and drain once fork tender. Cover and set to the side. Prepare carrots to be steamed or boiled the last 2 minutes of the steaks being cooked.
Place a grill pan over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and when hot, place steaks in the pan. Cook for 5 minutes per side for medium rare. Remove from pan and let rest, covered with foil.
While steaks are resting, mash potatoes with 2 tablespoons of butter and splash of milk. Season with salt and pepper. Drain carrots and mix with remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Season with salt and pepper. Serve vegetables alongside steaks with mushrooms spooned over top.

Take-the-Chill-Off Stew

I’m off for another hunting trip out in western North Dakota, just missing out on the big snowstorm that blanketed much of the area. Fortunately, where we hunt near the Montana border town of Westby, snowfall amounts were considerably less than that of other areas.

One of the highlights of my trips to that locale is visiting with Al Ekness, who along with his son, Jeff, operate a little grocery store in Westby. Al, a butcher by trade, always has some of the finest pork I’ve tasted. He raises his own pigs, butchers them and sells the meat in the store. Some of it made into tasty breakfast sausage.

I’m hoping to pick up a couple of nice pork roasts on this trip, one of which will go in a stew recipe that caught my eye the other day. Other ingredients in the stew include several vegetables I have on hand that were grown in my garden such as carrots, onions, buttercup squash and Brussels sprouts. The recipe also includes an apple, of which we have plenty. It seems while I was on my last hunting trip, Therese and our grandson, Rakeem, picked a bushel of apples off a neighbor’s tree.

The following stew recipe also can be made in slow cooker, which can help save time in the kitchen and make it easy to have dinner ready by the time everyone gets home.

And with the weather getting a little colder and winter just around the corner, this is a hearty meal that surely will take the chill off, especially with the dash of Tabasco sauce it contains.

Cider-Braised Spicy Pork Stew
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder or pork butt, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup apple cider
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon dried or fresh chopped parsley
2½ teaspoons original Tabasco brand pepper sauce
3 carrots, sliced
3 cups buttercup squash chunks
2 cups Brussels sprouts, each cut in half
1 large apple, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
Combine flour and salt in a bowl; add pork pieces. Toss to coat well.
Heat oil in 12-inch skillet, over medium-high heat. Cook pork pieces in batches, until well browned on all sides. Repeat with remaining pork.
Remove pork to slow-cooker. Add onion, apple cider, chicken broth, parsley and Tabasco sauce. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours or cook on low for 4 hours. Stir in squash, Brussels sprouts and apple; cover and cook 2 hours longer, stirring occasionally.
Serve with crusty bread.
Yield: Serves 6.

A Soup Day for Sure

Today’s a soup day — with the cold, wind and rain — and I’m sure glad it is. The reason I’m so pleased is that we have a container of pheasant meat in the refrigerator, plenty of broth in the freezer and a couple of dozen ripe tomatoes on the table in our pantry/basement kitchen.

Actually, any day is a soup day for me. It would hard to convince me that soup isn’t the perfect choice for lunch since that’s what I had been eating three or four days a week on my lunch breaks from work the past several years. The reason I can eat so much soup and not get bored is that my repertoire is pretty vast. And I can make soup out of just about anything —and do.

I’ve seldom found a soup that hasn’t tickled my palate. And I’ve found a good-looking recipe — Chicken Tortilla Soup — to make today. As I mentioned above, we already have several of the ingredients on hand, and the rest can be purchased at our neighborhood supermarket.

And a big bowl of soup is just what the doctor ordered for Therese. She had a dental procedure yesterday and can’t eat hard foods, so soup should be perfect.

Here’s the recipe for the Chicken Tortilla Soup. I can’t wait to try it. I hope Therese shares my enthusiasm.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 garlic clove, peeled, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
¾ pound cooked, shredded chicken
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon favorite all-purpose seasoning or to taste
1 teaspoon cumin, optional
2 14½-ounce cans no-salt -added tomatoes
6 cups homemade chicken stock or canned, less-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
8 corn tortillas, cut into strips
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup of shredded Mexican-blend cheese
In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute or until fragrant; do not allow the garlic to brown. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the cooked chicken and sprinkle it with the chili powder, all-purpose seasoning and cumin. Stir and cook 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and the stock or broth. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the tortilla strips on a baking sheet with sides and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Place in the oven and bake 10 to 12 minutes or until the strips are crisp. Remove from the oven.
Taste and adjust seasonings for the soup if needed. Ladle into bowls and serve topped with the tortilla strips and sprinkling of shredded cheese.
Yield: 12 cups.
Approximate nutritional analysis per cup: 162 calories, 44 percent of calories from fat, 8 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 7 grams carbohydrates, 17 grams protein, 217 milligrams sodium, 35 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram fiber.

Tailgating with Tabasco

I like to cook with Tabasco sauce. It’s one of the ingredients I use in my homemade barbecue sauce. I also like to use a dash of it in my 10-Alarm Chili.

Tabasco is one those sauces that can be used to spice up just about any food. And who would know that more than tailgaters. I bet there will be a lot of recipes that are being contemplated for this weekend’s tailgating that will precede UND’s football game with Lamar.

Here are a couple of recipes that feature Tabasco sauce that you might consider whether you’re tailgating outside the Alerus Center or homegating with neighbors. The first is Smoky Steak Sandwiches with Chipotle-Pesto Sauce. This tasty sandwich is packed with thinly sliced steak, homemade chipotle-pesto sauce, sautéed onions
and tomatoes.

The second, Five-Alarm Pepper Slaw, is a colorful side dish that is served cold but packs heat. It combines green, red and yellow bell peppers with fresh-squeezed lemon juice, Dijon mustard and original Tabasco brand pepper sauce.

You’re sure to score big points with the crowd and be the MVP of the kitchen by serving these dishes.

Smoky Steak Sandwiches with Chipotle-Pesto Sauce
1 flank steak, about 1 pound
4 tablespoons Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce, divided
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
½ cup pignoli nuts or walnuts
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
4 hero rolls, each about 6 inches long
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
Brush steak on both sides with 2 tablespoons Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce;
cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare pesto sauce: In food processor or blender, combine basil,
nuts, Parmesan cheese, salt and 1 tablespoon Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce.
Gradually add olive oil until mixture is well blended.
Melt butter in 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add onion slices; cook until
tender and lightly browned, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Grill or broil steak until of desired doneness. When steak is cool enough to
handle, thinly slice. Toss slices with remaining tablespoon Tabasco chipotle
pepper sauce.
Cut rolls horizontally; spread bottom halves with chipotle pesto. Top with
sliced tomatoes, sliced steak and sauteed onions.
Yield: Serves 4.
Five-Alarm Pepper Slaw
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon original Tabasco brand pepper sauce
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 green bell pepper, cored and cut into julienne strips
1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into julienne strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and cut into julienne strips
1 orange bell pepper, cored and cut into julienne strips
2 tablespoons snipped chives
2 tablespoons snipped dill
Combine lemon juice, mustard, original Tabasco pepper sauce and salt in large
bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil until well blended.
Add peppers to bowl with Tabasco mixture; toss to mix well; stir in chives and
Cover and refrigerate at least 20 minutes to blend flavors.
Yield: Serves 6.

Posted in Uncategorized

Spicy Green Onion and Beef Soup

Forecasters are saying we could be in for a weather change next week. They’re saying that the northern Jet Stream is going to drop back down and that temperatures will do the same.

I guess that’s OK with me. I’m in the bird hunting mode, and it’s always easier on the dogs when the weather is a little cooler.

Another reason I like the cooler weather is that it’s more conducive to soup-making. Granted, I’m into soup year-round, but when the weather starts to get colder, it’s easier to ramp up production.

One soup that’s caught my eye recently is Korean Spicy Green Onion and Beef Soup (Yuk-Gae-Jahng). I was alerted to the recipe in an e-mail from New Asian Cuisine ( I get correspondence every week from the food Web site.

This week’s recipe is courtesy of Joanne Choi of WeekofMenus ( It is her mother-in-law’s signature dish. Choi says the soup freezes excellently.

Here the recipe for those of you who would like to try it.

Korean Spicy Green Onion and Beef Soup
1½ to 2 pounds beef brisket or flank steak (brisket is more tender)
20 cups of water (5 quarts)
15 cloves of garlic
1 whole onion, peeled
Soak meat in cold water to drain the blood, at least 45 minutes. Meat will lose its bright red color. Drain water and set aside meat.
In a large stock pot, bring 20 cups water to a rapid boil. Add beef, onions and garlic and reduce heat to a nice even simmer. Cover and let cook until a chopstick pokes easily into the meat, about 1 hour 20 minutes. (these times can vary based on the meat piece.) Using a slotted spoon, remove meat, onion and garlic. Set stock aside and set beef aside. Discard onion and garlic.
¾ cup sesame oil
½ cup of finely minced garlic
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons Korean chili powder
3 tablespoons soup soy sauce
2 teaspoon salt
Note: If you cannot get soup soy sauce, then use 1½ tablespoons regular soy sauce and 1 tablespoon salt.
In a small saucepan, over low heat, add sesame oil, garlic, chili powder, soup soy sauce, salt. Slowly stir the mixture over low heat, until the sesame oil is absorbed into the garlic and chili powder and the entire mixture is a fiery red, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Note: This mixture burns very easily, and if you burn it, don’t try and rescue it, just start over. When making this mixture, just focus on the stirring and don’t be tempted to do anything else. Set seasoning aside.
10 bunches of green onion
1-pound package of fernbrake (gosari, a Korean fiddlehead fern)
Carefully cut the root end of the green onions. Wash onions well in cold water. The white portion of the onion needs to be cut down the length, so as to separate the individual onion “leaves.” Cut each green onion into thirds.
In a large pot, add about 2 inches of water to the bottom. Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil. Add green onions to the boiling water to blanch them; immerse the green onion into the water and wilt them, about 90 seconds in boiling water. Using a slotted spoon, remove onions from the water and place in a bowl. Repeat in the same boiling water until all onions are blanched. (Do it in three sets.) Set the onion cooking water aside, in case you are short beef broth later.
Open the package of fernbrake (gosari) Soak in cold water for about 15 minutes. Rinse and drain and squeeze out all excess water from the gosari. Set aside.
Take the beef from the soup stock and using your hands shred it. If it is hot, it actually shreds more easily, but be careful not to you burn your fingers. Place in a bowl. Add 2 nice heaping spoonfuls of Chili Garlic Sesame Seasoning and using your hand (with a disposable glove) massage the meat with the seasoning mixture. Set aside.
Take washed rinsed fernbrake (gosari) and to it add 1 tablespoon sesame oil and 1½ teaspoons salt. Using your hand, massage the gossari very well, making sure to season every bit of the gosari. Spend time working the seasoning into the fernbrake (gosari).
To the blanched green onions, add the remaining Garlic Chili Sesame Seasoning. Wipe down the pan with the green onions, getting every little last bit. Don’t be shy about not wasting that precious seasoning because that is what is going to make your soup taste yummy. Using your hands carefully toss the green onion mixture with the garlic chili seasoning until it is all coated. To this add the seasoned meat and the seasoned gosari. Mix all the ingredients together.
Begin heating your soup again over high heat and carefully add handfuls of the vegetable mixture to the hot broth. It doesn’t need to be boiling, but you will eventually get this soup boiling. Add all the vegetables and bring soup to a boil. Allow the soup to boil until the green onions fully wilt and lose their bright color, about 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt if necessary.
Yield: 7 quarts.
Note: Cool soup and then you can freeze it. Freezes very well. Individual portions are nice to freeze so that whenever you have a craving, you can have a bowl of soup.

In Memory of a Grill Meister

We’re right in the middle of tailgating season. Just the other night, I came across a bunch of tailgaters outside the Eagles Arena in Grand Forks. I had been there watching my grandson’s hockey practice. The smell of the burgers and brats cooking on the grills really put me in the mood for grilling.

Coincidentally, I had made plans earlier in the day to cook some homemade, old-fashioned hot dogs on the grill along with some vegetables for supper. This may sound a little sappy, but I decided to prepare some food on the grill in memory of my next-door neighbor, Ray Stinar, who died early Monday morning from a heart attack.

Besides being the perfect neighbor (he always had a friendly word, the neatest yard in the summer, the cleanest sidewalk in the winter as well as having treats for my sometimes naughty dogs), Ray was a grill meister.

Next to his love of sports, especially baseball, cooking on the grill was one of Ray’s favorite things to do. I think he used to grill at least once or twice a week. Many times, we could smell the fragrant aroma of a steak or burger he was grilling as it wafted through our kitchen window.

Ray didn’t like to just cook on a gas grill, either. Just this past summer, I remember talking with him and his good friend, Mike Lundby, as he was preparing his Weber charcoal grill for a 10- to 15-pound turkey. He had it down to a science.

I’m going to miss Ray. But I’ll never forget him, especially when it’s time to fire up the grill.

Sliders with Chipotle Ketchup
½ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Tabasco brand chipotle pepper sauce
1 pound ground beef or bison
¼ cup chopped scallions
3 tablespoons Tabasco brand chipotle pepper sauce
½ teaspoon salt 8 small rolls, about 2-inches round
2 slices Colby Jack cheese
Green leaf lettuce
Prepare chipotle ketchup: In small bowl, combine ketchup and Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce; set aside.
Preheat grill to high. Meanwhile, combine ground meat, scallions, Tabasco chipotle pepper sauce and salt in bowl; mix well. Shape mixture into 8 2-inch round burgers.
Grill burgers about 5 minutes, or until of desired doneness, turning once. Cut each cheese slice into 4 pieces. Top burgers with cheese; cook 1 minute longer or until cheese is melted.
To serve, cut each roll horizontally in half. Place leaf lettuce and cooked burger on roll. Serve with chipotle ketchup.
Yield: Serves 4.

Buffalo Sliders
1 pound ground buffalo (bison) meat
1 egg white
1 clove garlic, finely minced
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced
2 teaspoons ketchup
1¼ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, divided
½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
¼ teaspoon cayenne
Salt, to taste
3 tablespoons reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles
3 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
8 whole-wheat slider buns, split and toasted
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
Spray grill grates with nonstick spray. Preheat grill to medium high or allow coals to burn down to white ash.
Combine buffalo, egg white, garlic, jalapeno, ketchup, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and cayenne. Mix lightly. Shape into 8 thin patties, about 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter. Season very lightly with salt.
Grill patties 2 to 3 minutes each side or until meat thermometer registers 155 degrees. Remove from heat, cover and allow to stand about 5 minutes while internal temperature rises to 160 degrees. (Do not overcook.)
Meanwhile, combine blue cheese and buttermilk in a small mixing bowl. Using the back of a fork, mash the blue cheese into the buttermilk. Add mayonnaise and mix well. Stir in celery and remaining 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.
Place a tomato slice on the bottom of each bun. Top with a buffalo patty, then dollop 2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons blue cheese sauce over the meat, then top with bun.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 215 calories, 26 percent of calories from fat, 6 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 47 milligrams cholesterol, 16 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams protein, 243 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.

Turkey and Sausage Gumbo

You can never have too many cookbooks. That’s one of my mottos. And you never can have too many cookbooks that are about making soup.

Recently, I became interested in a cookbook titled “New Orleans Classic Gumbos and Soup” (Pelican 2009). It’s the creation of Kit Wohl, an artist and author of seven cookbooks (soon to be eight) celebrating classic New Orleans cuisine, who has worked with chefs, restaurants and hotels across the United States. (Her second book, “New Orleans Classic Desserts,” is now in its fifth printing. The “P&J Oyster Cookbook” pays tribute to the city’s first family of oysters and their recipes.)

The cookbook highlights the spectacular versatility and comfort offered by New Orleans’ gumbos, soups, and bisques, drawing deserved attention to the Crescent City and its unique and inimitable culinary offerings.

“When you get right down to it,” Wohl writes in “Gumbos,” “there’s nothing more New Orleans than a terrific bowl of seafood gumbo.”

And with the holiday season just around the corner, “New Orleans Classic Gumbos and Soups” (a Gourmet magazine cookbook of the month) offers recipes suited for large group entertaining, not to mention a wide variety of heart-warming, hearty and comforting dishes as the chill of the fall starts to set in.

The following recipe for Turkey and Sausage Gumbo is contained in the cookbook and looks like it might be perfect for Thanksgiving leftovers.

It’s never too early to think ahead. That’s another of my mottos.

Turkey and Sausage Gumbo
1 whole turkey carcass
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups corn oil, to make roux
2 large yellow onions, chopped
3 green bell peppers, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 cans your favorite local beer or an equal amount of stock or water
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup Tabasco or Crystal hot sauce
1 tablespoon corn oil, to saute ausage
1 pound smoked sausage, thinly sliced and then cut crosswise into half-moons
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1½ gallons chicken and turkey broth, homemade or canned (This should include the liquid in which the turkey carcass was cooked.)
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Cooked rice, for serving
Cut the turkey carcass in half and, in a large pot, simmer the halves in water to cover until the remaining meat falls off the bones.
Drain and reserve the cooking water. Remove the meat from the bones and discard the bones. Shred the meat. (If this does not yield 2 to 3 cups of turkey, add any poultry meat.)
In a heavy saucepan, make the roux by heating the 2 cups of corn oil over medium heat, adding the flour and cooking, stirring frequently, until the roux reaches the color of milk chocolate. Be careful not to let it scorch. (Completing the roux will take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. Cooking slowly on low heat is the secret to succeeding with roux.)
Add the chopped onions, peppers and celery to the roux. (This will temporarily stop the cooking process.) Cook the roux until the vegetables are tender, stirring constantly. As the vegetables cook, their sugar will be released and the roux will darken even more as the liquid evaporates. Stir in the beer (or stock or water), the Worcestershire and the hot sauce.
In a large Dutch oven or the original soup pot, saute the sausage and garlic in 1 tablespoon of oil until the garlic is translucent and soft. Carefully add the roux mixture to the pot, stirring. (It will spit and sputter.)
Add the turkey broth and stir in the basil, oregano, thyme and cayenne pepper. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour, then add the shredded turkey and cook for 20 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as desired.
Yield: Serves 16 to 20.

Steak and Potatoes — A Match Made in Heaven

A lot of people put away their outdoor grills for the winter. And I’ll have to say, grilling is a fair-weather exercise for me.

But this fall, being blessed with beautiful weather, I haven’t given it much thought about sliding the grill into its spot behind the snow blower quite yet. In fact, we’ve grilled a couple of times in the past week or two.

Most recently, we had some old-fashioned hot dogs from B&E Meats in Crookston, and they sure were delicious. A week or so earlier, some Polish sausage from L&M Meats in Grand Forks really hit the spot. And my elk sausage has been a favorite, too.

One thing that goes well with meats from the grill is potatoes. I recently cooked some up in a tin-foil boat along with some onions, eggplant and green peppers. I seasoned the veggies with a little salt, coarsely ground pepper and some garlic powder along with a tablespoon or two butter and the same amount of olive oil.

Of course, if you run out of room on your grill, the oven always is an option for potatoes, and an especially nice one if there’s a little chill in the house.

And what would go better with potatoes than a nice steak on the grill. The following recipes for potato skin chips that are cooked in the oven and sirloin strip steak on the grill is a match made in heaven.

Sirloin Strip with Grilled Vidalia Onions and Fresh Oregano Pistou
Oregano pistou (recipe follows)
4 top sirloin strip steaks (6 ounces each)
Salt and pepper
2 large Vidalia onions, sliced ¼-inch thick
Vegetable oil
Juice of 2 lemons
1 shallot, very finely minced
1 cup olive oil
16 ounces mixed salad greens
Prepare oregano pistou and refrigerate.
Preheat grill to high.
Season meat with salt and pepper. Season onions with salt and pepper and lightly sprinkle oil on onions before placing on the grill. Grill onions until translucent and lightly browned. Grill steaks to desired doneness. Let steaks rest at least 3 minutes before serving.
Meanwhile, combine lemon juice, shallot, oil and salt and pepper to taste and rapidly whisk. Toss with salad greens.
Pile greens on serving plates, top with 1 or 2 grilled onion slices and arrange slices of grilled steak over top. Drizzle on oregano pistou, or arrange pistou around rim of plates.
Yield: Serves 4.
6 ounces fresh spinach
1 bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley, stems trimmed
2 ounces fresh oregano leaves (no stems)
2 cloves garlic
2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or grape seed oil
Blanch spinach in pot of boiling water for 15 seconds. Remove spinach from boiling water and place immediately in ice water. Remove from ice water, drain and set aside.
Repeat this process for parsley.
Roughly chop oregano and garlic. Place garlic, oregano, spinach and parsley in blender and add oil just to cover. Puree until smooth. Add oil as needed to make pistou of drizzling consistency. Keep icy cold until needed.
Potato Skin Chips
5 large russet potatoes
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ easpoon paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
With a paring knife, remove skin and about 1/8 inch of the flesh from potatoes in long 1- to 2-inch-wide strips. (Reserve peeled potatoes for another use.) Toss the potato skins with oil, paprika, salt and cayenne. Place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet; sprinkle with Parmesan.
Bake until tender and golden, 25 to 30 minutes.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 196 calories, 2 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 2 milligrams cholesterol, 40 grams carbohydrate, 6 grams protein, 4 grams fiber, 202 milligrams sodium, 1,010 milligrams potassium.

Trick-or-Treat Chili

Halloween is just around the corner, so there’s bound to be a lot of sweet treats to tempt people. That’s OK because as far as I’m concerned, all food fit in a healthy diet. Especially foods such as chili.

But there will be some people who will find it a challenge to eat healthy with all of that candy at their fingertips. That doesn’t have to be the case.

The following chili recipe from Elizabeth Edelman, resident culinary expert and healthy eating guru at Diabetes Daily (, is a healthy adaptation of an old favorite.

I’m a chili aficionado and look forward to give the recipe a try. It contains ground beef, pork and turkey as well as lots of peppers, beans and tomatoes, three essentials for good chili.
Trick-or-Treat Chili
½ pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 1- ounce can stewed tomatoes
2 cans red kidney beans (or equivalent of cooked dried kidney beans)
2 cans cannellini beans (or equivalent of cooked dried cannellini beans)
1 jar Peppadews
2 jars Vlasic pickled cherry peppers
2 tablespoons good quality chili powder
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the ground beef, the ground pork, and the ground turkey and season to taste with the salt and pepper. Cook until all of the meat is cooked through.
Add the crushed tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, kidney beans, cannellini beans, the Peppadews with their juices, the cherry peppers only adding the juice of one of the jars), the chili powder and the crushed red pepper if using. Bring to a boil and lower the heat and simmer, cooking for about an hour or so, tasting for seasonings after about 30 minutes.
Yield: Serves 10.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 472 calories, 52 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams dietary fiber, 10 grams sugars, 16 grams fat (5 grams saturated), 604 milligrams sodium, 34 grams protein.

Black Bean Quesadillas

I love this age of computers and the Internet. Not only has it made my job easier the past 10 to 20 years, it’s also connected me with a lot of people who in the old days would have fallen off the radar.

One such person is Mary Gilmour Sorlie of Bemidji. I’ve known Mary since she was a kid. Her dad, the late Bob Gilmour, hired me at the Herald in 1974. I’ll always remember how he called those of us who wrote about athletics “sports porters.”

Mary is a friend of mine on Facebook, something that I’ve really taken a liking to the past year. Facebook is a nice way to keep in touch with people we’ve known over the years, even when we don’t get a chance to see them often.

Today, Mary had an interesting food posting. She recommended to friends a recipe for Black Bean Quesadillas from Mary said are “great.” The quesadillas take just 15 minutes to make and would be especially nice for busy people.

Here is the recipe, just in case you want to try them. Therese and I surely will.

Black Bean Quesadillas
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, preferably pepper Jack
½ cup prepared fresh salsa (see note), divided
4 8-inch whole-wheat tortillas
2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 ripe avocado, diced
Combine beans, cheese and ¼ cup salsa in a medium bowl. Place tortillas on a work surface. Spread ½ cup filling on half of each tortilla. Fold tortillas in half, pressing gently to flatten.
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 quesadillas and cook, turning once, until golden on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and quesadillas. Serve the quesadillas with avocado and the remaining salsa.
Yield: Serves 4.
Note: Look for prepared fresh salsa in the supermarket refrigerator section near other dips and spreads.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 377 calories, 16 grams fat (5 grams saturated, 8 grams monounsaturated), 13 milligrams cholesterol, 46 grams carbohydrates, 13 grams protein, 10 grams fiber, 679 milligrams sodium, 581 milligrams potassium.