Monday, May 24, 2010

It's Blackberry Season!

Why is it we call them "black" berries when they stain everything purple?  I am guessing it has something to do with PurpleBerry not sounding as sweet?!?  Thoughts?

Blackberries are actually native to the US, and feed not only humans but many animals, too.  Similar to other berries they are packed with antioxidants, to include anthocyanin and quercitin.  They are loaded with fiber, 8 grams per 1 cup!  That's better (and more satisfying) than any bar or cereal.  If you combine 1 cup of Kashi's Go Lean and 1 cup of berries you will get 18 grams of fiber--that is more than 1/2 of my daily fiber needs.  Nice start to the day!

What is your favorite blackberry dish?  Blackberry cobbler, blackberry pie, or just plain blackberries? I love them all!  If they are sweet I can just sit and eat them.  I actually found myself in a painful predicament one time after eating far too many.  They were growing wild on a hiking path we were on and I just kept nibbling away...all day...painful morning followed! ;o)

This morning I found a delicious way to enjoy this berry:
1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp simply fruit orange marmalade
1 cup blackberries
Taste buds soared with delight!

Tonight, I am preparing Alton Brown's Blackberry Cobbler recipe! I can smell it already!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Dogs Love Their Veggies, too!

Meet my babies...H & J!  H is my veggie lover and J will nibble them when he wants to--if H has it, he wants it too.  However, when I say the word "carrot" H comes running into the kitchen and waits by the refrigerator--no kidding.  She loves her carrots!!  I have to actually buy the big bags from Costco just to have "treats" for them on hand at all times.  

Carrots are actually great for dogs and serve as healthy snack alternative to the high-calorie treats at the supermarket, plus they are much cheaper!  A giant bag of carrots costs pennies compared to Greenies!  My pooches also enjoy green beans, broccoli stalks, and asparagus spears.  Odd as it may seem they truly do love them!  You may have veg-fan of a dog, too! 

Just something fun to share!  Eat your veggies!!!  ;o)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

An Obsession & Biscuits!

It's time I come clean--I am a cookbook addict!  I love the pictures, the ideas, the colors, the possibilities...  Some say cookbooks are dying, but for those of us who love to cook cookbooks are cherished items in our households.  My absolute favorites aren't the most popular, nor from the Food Network stars, instead they are often the Junior Leagues and Southern classics.  Here are my most used Texas Cookbooks (another obsession of mine--home!):

Cookbooks are more for generating ideas instead of feeling restricted.  I truly love them. I will sit in my atrium and just look through them and create ideas for future meals.  Perhaps I am from a different generation--I don't know.  They bring me such joy and happiness---like a video game for my nephews or a history book for my husband. :o)  Just different.  

With my love of cookbooks comes my quest of the best biscuit recipe.  If you are from the South or had a Grandma (Gran-MAW) who made them well you know what I am saying when I say "Why in the HELL would you eat a canned biscuit?"  Whoops--was that too rough?  Sorry, but DARN!  They are SIMPLE and when made well they melt in your mouth!  I love savory biscuits, sweet biscuits (for shortcake--not really a cake at all), and my fave is with HONEY!  

One would think that with my biscuit obsession that I have settled on one recipe--nope.  I continue to explore new ones, and revisit ones from the past.  This morning I whipped up these 
and "HELLO FLUFFY & FLAKEY BITES OF LOVE!"  Silly as it seems, biscuits to me are a bit of nostalgia!  They bring back fabulous memories of my youth, they bring me home a bit!  I hope you decide to put away the can and try these next time you crave biscuits.  

Thank you, Terry Thompson-Anderson for writing Texas on the Plate and for this fabulous biscuit recipe
Makes 12-16 biscuits (depending on your biscuit cutter size or glass!)
3 cups flour
1/4 cup powdered milk
2 Tbsp baking powder
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cream of tarter
1/2 cup shortening (yep, crisco or Spectrum makes one that is trans fat free) COLD
1/2 cup butter--COLD
3/4 cup buttermilk (MUST USE!)

  1. If you have a food processor, break it out!  If not, get a pastry blender ready.  Preheat oven to 400*F. In a bowl (or your processor) mix together flour through cream of tarter--pulse.  
  2. Add in COLD fats (shortening and butter, cut into chunks), pulse for 30 seconds.  Should resemble pea size crumb, clusters.  Note: you never, ever over mix biscuit dough--they will be brick like!!! 
  3. Make a well in the center and pour the buttermilk in.  Mix with your hands or a large spoon until it comes together.
  4. Flour a cutting board or counter top and run your hands under COLD WATER.  Yep, it's a trick!  This keeps the heat of your hands from melting the butter when you knead it--trust me!!!
  5. Gently knead the dough, but no more than 5 times!!!  Roll out to 1 inch thickness and cut, roll and cut, roll and cut--you should be done and ready to bake now! Place on a cookie sheet and you can brush the tops with additional buttermilk if you'd like--I did not, but sometimes I do. :o)
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden. 
  7. Tasty the flakey goodness!!!!

    It might just be the ONE!!!  

    And the winner is...

    And the winner is...

    The Thiele Family!!

    Their favorite Dairy Recipe...
    From the Thiele Family: I tried this recipe at a friend's house in Misawa Japan and FELL IN LOVE! How do you make cheese better? Add delicious seasonings and olive oil to it and let it soak in!! It is so yummy on crackers, baguette slices, or just by itself. I make this at almost all my social functions. It puts an average cheese tray to shame!

    Marinated Cheese

    ½ cup olive oil
    ½ cup white wine vinegar
    1 2 oz jar diced pimentos drained
    3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
    3 tablespoons minced green onions
    3 cloves garlic minced
    1 teaspoon sugar
    ¾ teaspoon dried whole basil
    ½ teaspoon salt
    ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    1 8-oz block of sharp cheddar cheese

    1 8-oz package of cream cheese
    Combine first 10 ingredients in a jar. Cover tightly and shake. Set marinade mixture aside. Cut block of Cheddar and cream cheese into ¼ inch slices. Arrange cheese slices alternately in a shallow baking dish. Pour marinate over cheese and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

    Source: Jenn Edwards! Thanks girl!

    I LOVE the Cuisinart hand blender set (it would do wonders for my kiddos daily smoothie treat prep) and I LOVE this blog even more! When I am out of ideas for healthy dinners, this is my life saver!

    I have to thank all of the fabulous entries!!  Thanks to Jessica (Baked Mac & Cheese), Steve, Ash, & Cam (Enchiladas w/zucchini), Sarah (Grilled pizzas), and CGS (Mrs. Richard's Chicken Enchiladas).  YUM!  I cannot wait to try all of these recipes, and I hope you do, too!  

    I really liked the uniqueness of the cheese appetizer dish, and the fact that dairy was the main star!  Plus, who can resist fresh herbs in the summer?  Not me!  So, Thiele Family: Congrats and drop me an email at with your address (not to be shared with anyone other than the fabulous Midwest Dairy Council) to receive your giveaway.

    A big THANK YOU to the Midwest Dairy Council for the generosity and getting a positive message out about dairy!

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    A Couple Repeats & Special Request!

    For those who have been following my posts for awhile you'll remember this cake:
    The one with the "special ingredient."  Well, I was asked to bring this cake to the last day of class--I am telling you--it's good!  So, this morning I whipped it up, and since I have left over sauerkraut I decided to do a German favorite: Venison Brats and Sauerkraut.  This an all time favorite at my house--a piece of home.  I know many think sauerkraut stinks, and it does, but for me it brings back memories of my youth.  My mom & dad love sauerkraut!!!  Plus, it is a perfect supper for tonight, because I'll be in class until 9pm tonight!  It will be ready for me when I get home--yum!  

    Last night I made my mango salsa chicken!  Fabulous! I love the simplicity of this dish and the fact that it's healthy!  Two for one!  

    Hope you have a fabulous Tuesday, y'all! 

    Monday, May 10, 2010

    Dairy Makes Sense Giveaway!

    Back in March I was contacted by the Midwest Dairy Council asking if I'd be interested in posting on the health benefits of dairy.  Of course!  I love my dairy products!  So, why has it taken me so long?  You know! The little thing called my masters! I am nearly finished--so close I can begin to taste the sweet flavors of it! With my major papers done I am ready to write on dairy, and to give my readers a chance at a giveaway!!!  Are you interested in winning the following:

    The kit includes:

    o             One Cuisinart hand blender (valued at $55.00)
    o             Dairy Makes Sense recipe cards with new tasty recipes to try out with your family
    o             Dairy Makes Sense apron
    o             Hot pad
    o             Cheese knife
    o             Grocery pad
    o             Refrigerator magnet

    First, let's talk dairy.  I have long been known as a heavy consumer of milk.  My friends' parents used to jest that they needed to buy an entire cow if I was going to spend the night.  No kidding!  Yes, I have a love affair with milk.  

    As a dietitian I am a huge advocate of incorporating dairy into the diet (of course,  if you like it, are not a vegan vegetarian nor allergic to it).  Studies support the concept of a 4 to 1 ratio (4:1) of carbohydrates to protein for muscle recovery; thus, I often recommend a glass of chocolate milk or yogurt with cereal  to my athletes as a post-workout meal.   

    Additionally, milk is an excellent source of Calcium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B12. Calcium has been on the radar for well over a decade due to the high risk of osteoporosis, but recently Vitamin D has taken the main stage.  I have been paying close attention to the research coming out on Vitamin D and athletes.  Milk is one of the very few food sources of Vitamin D, and current research is leaning in the direction that athletes may need more.  Again, it's preliminary, so I am just paying attention to the recommendations.  
    My 5 favorite dairy products are:
    1. 1% low-fat milk (used in my daily latte)
    2. yogurt (all kinds, but especially the Greek non-fat variety)
    3. Butter (yes, I said it--I like butter and I use it to impart flavor as I finish sauces)
    4. More cheese, please (I love all varieties of cheese!)
    5. buttermilk (now, unlike my great grandma, Mammy, who drank it I prefer it in my baked goods)
    So, to win the giveaway here is what you need to do:
    • In the comments section of this post, write your favorite dairy recipe (including recipe & story behind it)
    • My readers enjoy quick & easy foods that are feasible to make, so if your recipe fits the bill you may be selected to win!
    • If you have a picture to share, please send it to and I may post your recipe--winner or not! 
    • I'll pick one winner on Friday, May 14th--so stay tuned!
    • The winner will need to provide me with his or her address to receive the giveaway from the Midwest Dairy Council, and I'd love a personal picture to post with your recipe, too!  (If available)
    So, what's my dairy recipe for the day:
    I am going to try the Panna Cotta recipe from David Lebovitz's website!!

    It's one of my favorite desserts that I get when eating out.  Right now I have blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries coming out of my ears, so these will be make a fabulous pairing with the Panna Cotta!  I'll let you know how it turns out!

    For more great dairy recipes check out: I am inspired to use my leftover venison/bean mix from my taco salad the other night in this great rice recipe. 

    Sunday, May 9, 2010

    Mother's Day Brunch

    Picture Source:

    Is your mom at risk for heart disease? 

    • Worldwide, 8.6 million women die from heart disease each year, accounting for a third of all deaths in women. Three million women die from stroke each year. Stroke accounts for more deaths among women than men (11% vs 8.4%) with additional risk for CHD unique to women related to oral contraceptive use in combination with smoking.
    • 8 million women in the US are currently living with heart disease; 35,000 are under age of 65. Four million suffer from angina.
    • 435,000 American women have heart attacks annually; 83,000 are under age 65; 35,000 are under 55. The average: 70.4.
    • 42% of women who have heart attacks die within 1 year, compared to 24% of men.
    • Under age 50, women’s heart attacks are twice as likely as men’s to be fatal.
    • 267,000 women die each year from heart attacks, which kill six times as many women as breast cancer. Another 31, 837 women die each year of congestive heart failure, representing 62.6% of all heart failure deaths.

    On this Mother's Day, show your mom how much you care by choosing to protect her heart! 
    Heart-Friendly Gift Ideas for Mom:
    • Something to calm her: massage, facial, or pedi/mani
    • Something to encourage movement: pilates or yoga classes
    • The gift that keeps giving--a compost, working in a garden is healing
    • Feed her feather friends--a hummingbird feeder or bird seed
    And if you wish to feed her, show her you care with a Heart-Friendly Menu:

    • Spinach & Feta Frittata or Blueberry Pancakes 
    • Fresh Fruit Salad sprinkled with flaxseed and honey (Strawberries, Blackberries, & Raspberries + 1tsp flax & honey)
    • Carrot/Ginger/Orange Mimosas (juice carrots, ginger, and an orange then serve w/ a splash of Champagne) 
    Picture Source:

    Enjoy and celebrate the health of your mother's heart for the years to come!  

    Happy Mother's Day to my mom, mother-n-law, grandmothers, & sisters--I love you all and wish for a heart-friendly day for you! 

    Friday, May 7, 2010

    Quick Additions to the Garden & Taco Salad

    Whoops, I almost forgot zucchini & cucumber to my list!  And, I also picked up a pot of chives and marigolds, because they tend to ward off bugs for their neighbors. Now, I will be checking daily for signs of life!

    We put in drip irrigation straight from our hose spout.  I have 12 sprayers and 3 areas with soakers.  This was the first time I saw soaker attachments to the drip lines. I am wishing I would have marked my seed lines, but oh well!  They'll come!  Once they do I think I'll plant more lettuce.  We have been going through it rapidly.  If it is a shady spot lettuce can last awhile in San Diego summers, but is best in fall and early spring.

    On our dinner plate tonight...Venison Taco Salad & Margaritas!
    Taco Salad
    1 lb ground venison, browned
    1 chipotle, minced
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 onion, finely chopped
    1 tsp cumin
    1/4 tsp salt
    1 can pinto beans, drained (we like the Ranch-style)
    • Brown above ingredients together in a skillet, drain off excess fat
    4 cups lettuce, torn
    3 roma tomatoes, chopped
    1/2 cup cilantro (I love it, but you can change this to suit your tastes)
    1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
    • Mix together. 
    1/2 lime, juiced
    • Yes, that's it!  Squeeze lime over salad and season with salt.  Make a well in the center and add in meat mixture.  
    I opted away from chips (mainly because a bag will just go bad here and I have tortillas on hand from San Antonio, so I just whipped up quesadillas to serve on the side).


    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    Garden Hiatus

    What could possibly be more therapeutic than gardening?  Ahhh, the feel and smell of fresh dirt.  The knowing that soon cute sprouts will be popping up and making new life.  And the satisfaction that my produce will be far less pricey than the store-bought variety!  Pure pleasure!

    Tonight I decided to take a break from my writing and studies and RELAX!  I had prepped my garden spot a couple weeks ago, but have not been able to commit time to dig and sow my seeds.  I felt guilty just thinking about it.  One of my garden areas is already established (I got to it before the chaos began).  In that spot I have:

    • Beef Steak Tomatoes (they survived the winter!)
    • Roma & Grape Tomatoes (gifts from my compost)
    • Basil
    • Thai Basil
    • Parsley, curly & Italian (I enjoy both!)
    • Lemon Thyme
    • Romaine Lettuce
    • Rosemary
    • Mint (in a POT)
    • Lavendar
    • Bell Peppers
    • Jalapenos
    Tonight I planted the following (so excited!):
    • Purple Carrots
    • Beets
    • Mizuna (I have recipes for this great green, too) 
    • Pole Green Beans
    • Purple Lettuce
    • Golden Carrots
    • Cilantro
    • Fennel
    • Mammoth Dill
    • Varieties of Sunflowers (so pretty cut and they feed my finches!)
    We'll see how my garden grows!  Send me well wishes and love for my babies.  I'll be sure to whip you something up with my bounty if you come for a visit!   I hope you decide to plant your garden.  My book of choice is Mel Bartholomew's Square Food Gardening and my favorite helpful website is the classic Farmer's Almanac.  
    Cheers to Dirty Nails~
    Wendy Jo

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    End in Sight...

    Yes folks, after 9 years of playing the role of "habitual grad student" I am finally seeing an end in sight!  And darn it feels good!  I have my last presentation tonight and due to an agreement with my fabulous professor (Dr. Buono) I must make something for the entire class--for the last 3 classes.  Always an easy deal for me since I enjoy whipping up goodies for friends.

    Guess what was requested---my Orange-Cherry & Choco-Oat Cookies!  I made a double batch.  The verdict is out--they are a keeper!  I hope you make them, too!

    So, once I am done (May 18th) I'll be back to posting more frequently again!  Thanks for all the support and love from my friends and family!


    Wendy Jo