Tag Archives: alice henneman

How Long Can You Store Commercially Canned Food?

Image courtesy of USDA Image Library

Image courtesy of USDA Image Library

Commercially canned foods are convenient as they require no refrigeration to keep their contents safe. Their nutritional value is comparable to other forms of food such as frozen and fresh. In some cases, it may be higher.

The question that people often our Nebraska Extension office, is “how long can you keep canned food”? This article on “Shelf-Stable” Food Safety,” from the U.S. Department of Agriculture answers this question and more. For example:

  • Is it safe to use rusted cans?
  • Is it safe to use food from dented cans?
  • Is it safe to use cans that freeze accidentally?

So … the next time you wonder if you “can” use the food from that can, check out Shelf-Stable” Food Safety!

Versatile Coleslaw

slaw-final

This recipe will help you make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Cabbage can be steamed, baked, or stuffed, as well as eaten raw.
Makes: 6 servings (approximately 1 cup, each)

Ingredients

  • 6 cups cabbage (shredded)
  • 1 carrot (cleaned, peeled, and shredded)
  • 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mustard (or dry mustard seed)
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed (if you like)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

Directions

  1. Place the shredded cabbage and carrots in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl add mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, mustard, and salt. If using celery seed, add that too.
  3. Mix the cabbage and carrots well with the dressing.
  4. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.

Source: Available at www.usda.gov/whatscooking and adapted from food.com

Alice’s Notes: This is a very basic coleslaw recipe that can be made from ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen, especially the dressing ingredients. Possible alternative purchased salad dressings include: classic coleslaw dressing, ranch dressing and poppy seed dressing. Other ingredients you could add include:

  • Sliced or diced apples
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Diced green pepper
  • Raisins or dried cranberries
  • Green onions
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Peanuts
  • Pineapple

 

Secrets of Success when Cooking with 5 Ingredients

5-Ingredient Waldorf Salad (link to download the recipe)

5-Ingredient Waldorf Salad (link to download the recipe)

Five seems to be the magic number for the number of ingredients we want in a recipe. This excludes such common ingredients as salt, pepper and water. While researching recipes for a workshop on 5-ingredient cooking, I found the recipes I chose had at least one of the following qualities. See if these criteria help you find quick, easy, tasty recipes too!

  1. Use the best-tasting ingredients whenever possible. It’s hard to hide a poor quality ingredient when there are only five of them. For example, freshly ground black pepper tastes much better than pre-ground.
  2. Try to include at least one high intense flavor ingredient. Examples include:
    • Mustard (consider Dijon)
    • “Sharp” cheeses (you can use less because the flavor is more potent)
    • Lemon juice or lemon zest
    • Onions, garlic, celery
    • Olives
    • Capers
    • Vinegar
    • Nuts
    • Pickle relish
  3. Use some pre-prepared foods that can take the place of several ingredients. Compare the labels on the various brands and varieties as the sodium level can vary significantly. Examples include:
    • Salsa
    • Sauces: spaghetti, pizza, marinara, enchilada
    • Commercial salad dressings (flavorful, lower-fat varieties)
    • Low-fat granola
    • Pie dough, graham cracker crust, pizza dough
  4. Consider seasoning blends. Examples include:
    • Italian seasoning
    • Salt-free blends – sample in the smallest container-size the first time.
  5. Keep on hand ingredients that can be used several ways. Some of my favorites are:
    • Vanilla and plain Greek Yogurt
    • Diced tomatoes (no-added-salt)
    • Canned beans (no-added salt)
  6. Refrigerate some mixed foods (like dips) at least an hour, to allow flavors to blend.
  7. Roast meats and vegetables until “caramelized” or browned. This brings out the flavor.
  8. Thickening a soup without making a white sauce:
    • Remove some of the soup solids and liquid and puree in a blender. Cooking Light magazine (March 2003) warns when blending hot liquids to use caution because steam can increase the pressure inside the blender and blow the lid off. They advise filling the blender no more than half full and blending in batches, if necessary. And, while blending, hold a potholder or towel over the lid.
    • Sprinkle on some instant mashed potato flakes at the end and stir. Add more until you get the consistency you want.

Crushed Red Potatoes

smashed-potatoes-final

The first thing that attracted me to this recipe was the name and the fact I didn’t  have to peel the potatoes! Plus, while the potatoes were boiling, I could gather the other ingredients and clean up my preparation dishes and utensils.

Potatoes have gotten a bad rep as being “fattening” – however as you
can see from the nutritional information, potatoes can make a delicious side dish that is reasonable in calories, low in cholesterol and high in potassium.

Recipe courtesy of United States Potato Board at http://www.potatogoodness.com

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Ready Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes

The combination of reduced-fat sour cream and olive oil might seem unusual but it yields a delicious taste and texture in these crushed potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed and halved or quartered if large
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots (see my note at end)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Cook potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine sour cream, shallots, parsley, milk, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Stir until smooth and set aside.
  3. Drain the potatoes and crush — but do not completely mash — potatoes with a potato masher or the back of a large spoon. Stir in the sour-cream mixture. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

Nutrition Facts: Calories: 122 Fat: 4g Cholesterol: 6mg Sodium: 54mg Vitamin C: 19.8% Fiber: 2g Protein: 3g Potassium: 562mg

Alice’s Notes:

  • If you want slightly creamier potatoes, slowly stir in extra milk at the end until desired consistency.
  • I substituted 2 tablespoons of chopped sweet onion for the shallots.

More ways to connect with me:

Microwave Omelets and Scrambled Eggs

Omelet Mmade in a Microwave

Omelet Made in a Microwave

My omelets end up looking like scrambled eggs. So … I was very pleasantly surprised when I tried this recipe for “Microwave Mexican Omelet” from the American Egg Board. It takes 1 minute to prepare and 2-1/2 minutes to cook.You cook it in a pie plate.

Definitely a keeper! Check the American Egg Board website for the recipe.

I’ve always liked eggs — they’re an inexpensive source of high quality protein and a source of Vitamin D and choline. Plus, they weigh in at only 70 calories per egg.

After my successful experience making an omelet in the microwave, I decided to try a recipe for scrambled eggs. As the photo shows, these turn out great, also. Plus, they take just a few minutes to make. This is now my go-to method for scrambling eggs for myself. Use this American Egg Board recipe for Basic Microwave Scrambled Eggs.

Scrambled Eggs Made in the Microwave

Scrambled Eggs Made in the Microwave

Clean Out the Fridge Potato Salad

Clean Out the Fridge Potato Salad

Have you ever looked in your fridge and found a little bit of this and a little bit of that? And … it should all be used … SOON!

When that happens, I often make potato salad! (Note: Potatoes should be stored in a cool dry place in your house for best quality … not in the refrigerator.)

Follow these quick  “1 … 2 … 3” steps!

  1. After my cooked* potatoes had cooled slightly, I cubed them and  sprinkled them with a bit of apple cider vinegar — for added flavor — while they were still warm.  (Tip: You can leave the skins on young, tender potatoes and Yukon Gold potatoes).
  2. While the potatoes were cooking, I cleaned and prepared the following ingredients from my fridge. Use your own preference as to amounts of ingredients.
    • Red peppers
    • Peas
    • Onions (part of an already cut onion in the fridge)
    • Carrots
    • Radishes
    • Dill
    • Pickle relish
  3. The last step was combining the potatoes and veggies with mayonnaise. Or, use your favorite homemade or purchased potato salad dressing. Then, chill your potato salad for about an hour before serving, to let the flavors meld.

Some other foods you can add to potato salads include:

  • Hard-cooked eggs
  • Celery
  • Cheese
  • Parsley
  • Green pepper
  • Grape or cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • Capers
  • Olives (pitted and sliced)
  • Chives.

* If you’re unsure of how to cook potatoes, use these directions from the Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Program:

  1. Scrub the potatoes, and peel them.
  2. Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes.
  3.  Put the potatoes into a saucepan. Cover with water.
  4. Bring the potatoes to a boil on medium heat.
  5. Let the potatoes simmer for 15 minutes until they’re soft.
  6. Drain the hot water, and let the potatoes cool.

Fresh Fruit and Veggie Recipes and Tips

Fruit and Veggie Tips and Recipes

Five co-workers and I are all providing fresh-tasting recipes and tips from July through October in our newsletters and blogs. For those of you on Pinterest, we have created a Fresh Fruits and Recipes Board where you can repin your favorites to your own boards. Here’s a glimpse of some of the things we are pinning (NOTE: You may need to read this article online to see this sample of our Pinterest Board).

Check out my friends’ blogs at:

  • Nutrition Know How
    Practical tips from 4 women  and moms who know nutrition!
  • Discover Foods
    Midwest foods with a southern flair from a food scientist / foodie

Hear! Hear! for Fresh Herbs

Basil

Basil growing outside my front door … ahhh!

“An herb is the friend of  physicians and the praise of cooks.” ~Charlemagne

If you’d like to “garden” but feel you don’t have room, try planting herbs. They’re  like mini-vegetables, easily grown in a pot, and very forgiving if you occasionally neglect them.

Best yet, they add flavor and color to foods without adding sugar and fat calories or salt. Here’s a potato I “nuked” in the microwave and topped with yogurt, presented with and without chopped chives. That little sprinkle of green makes all the difference in appearance and flavor!

baked potato with and without chives

A sprinkling of herbs adds color and flavor.

Looking for a spot for growing herbs? They need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. No place to plant? Put them in a pot.

Thyme growing in a pot

Thyme is a hardy perennial herb and looks beautiful grown in a pot.

Add a little extra color by combining herbs with a flower that requires the same amount of sunlight, type of soil, and watering schedule. Check with your local Cooperative Extension office or garden store for more information about plants that go together well in your area. Find your local Extension office at this link: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/

parsley and straw flowers

Italian (flat-leaf) parsley and straw flowers combined in a pot.

Cooking with Fresh Herbs

For best quality, fresh herbs can be stored in a perforated plastic bag in your refrigerator crisper drawer for about a week. Perforated plastic bags (bags with small holes in them) allow some air to move in and out of the bag yet retain most of the moisture in the bag. This helps prevent condensation within the bag and reduces shriveling. Either purchase perforated bags or follow these directions from University of Wisconsin Extension to make  a perforated bag:

“You can make holes using a standard paper punch or a sharp object such as a pen, pencil, or knife. Punch holes approximately every 6 inches through both sides of the bag. If using a knife to create the openings, make two cuts — in an ‘X’ shape — for each hole to ensure good air circulation.”

Wash herbs in a clean colander under running water, tossing them around so all surfaces are rinsed well. Consumer Reports recommends, “If greens are particularly dirty, loosen dirt and sand by swishing them in a clean bowl of water (not the sink), then rinsing.” I like to use the removable strainer basket from my salad spinner for washing herbs. And, then use the basket to spin my herbs dry in my salad spinner.

Wash herbs under running water

Wash herbs under running water just before using them.

Pat herbs dry with paper towels or use a salad spinner. Before buying a salad spinner, give it a spin at the store to test if it spins easily.

Drying herbs in a salad spinner

Drying herbs in a salad spinner.

A quick way to cut herbs is with a kitchen scissors. For some dishes, you can cut the herb directly over the food itself.

snipping chives

Snipping chives with a kitchen scissors.

Some general guidelines for cooking with fresh herbs are:

  •  Use three times as much as of a dried herb. For example, if a recipe called for 1 teaspoon of a dried herb, use about 3 teaspoons of a fresh herb. The drying process reduces the size of dried herbs, making their flavor more concentrated.
  • Add more delicate herbs a minute or two before the end of cooking or sprinkle on food just before it is served. Examples include basil, chives, dill leaves, parsley, and mint.
  • Less delicate herbs can be added about the last 20 minutes of cooking. Examples include oregano, rosemary, thyme, and sage.
Basil added to a cooked food

Add more delicate herbs, such as basil, a minute or two before the end of cooking or sprinkle on the food just before serving.

For many recipes, it’s not important to be exact with the amount of an herb. Just sprinkle in a little for color and flavor.  Popular herb and food combinations include:

  • Basil: A natural snipped in with tomatoes; terrific in fresh pesto; other possibilities include pasta sauce, peas, zucchini
  • Chives: Dips, potatoes, tomatoes
  • Mint: Carrots, fruit salads, parsley, peas, tabbouleh, tea
  • Oregano: Peppers, tomatoes
  • Parsley: The curly leaf is the most common, but the flat-leaf or Italian parsley is more strongly flavored and often preferred for cooking. Naturals for parsley include potato salad, tabbouleh, egg salad sandwiches
  • Rosemary: Chicken, fish, lamb, pork, roasted potatoes, soups, stews, tomatoes
  • Thyme: Eggs, lima beans, potatoes, poultry, summer squash, tomatoes
melon and mint

Add a pop of mint to dress up a fruit salad.

“If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal- that is your success.” ~Henry David Thoreau

sage and coneflowers

Sage and coneflowers grace the table at an outdoor meal.

(For a printer-friendly copy of this information, use the “Print & PDF” button in the “Share this” section below this post. You can choose to remove images and parts of the post and also determine print size.)

References

Storing Fruits and Vegetables from the Home Garden. Roper, T., Delahaut, K., and Ingham, B., University of Wisconsin Extension. Retrieved 8/5/2012 at http://learningstore.uwex.edu/assets/pdfs/A3823.pdf

ShopSmart Helps You Avoid Dangerous Food-Prep and Storage Mistakes. Consumer Reports. (6/12/2012) Retrieved 8/11/2012 at http://pressroom.consumerreports.org/pressroom/2012/06/my-entry-1.html

Related Links

Leave a Comment

Fresh Peaches – The Slice Is Right

“Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring and it has fresh peaches in it.” ~Alice Walker, author

It was love at first bite when I sampled the peaches at the farmers market.

After I brought them home, I started googling for peach recipes. Then … I thought, why try to improve on perfection. I simply peeled and sliced them. I added a little Fruit-Fresh (R) Produce Protector according to the directions on the container to keep them from browning. Mixing in a small amount of citrus juice (lemon juice, orange juice, etc.) would also help prevent browning.

Fresh sliced peaches – the slice is right!

Caring for Fresh Peaches

For the perfect peach:

  • Avoid buying green, brownish, or wrinkled peaches, or peaches that are very soft, or with large bruises or signs of decay. Hard, green peaches will never ripen properly.
  • Handle peaches gently to prevent bruising.
  • Determine if a peach is ripe by checking if it is firm but yields to gentle pressure and has a strong, sweet smell. A reddish “bloom” on the peach isn’t a sure sign the peach is ripe. Look for a deep yellow or creamy white under color.
  • Store peaches in a single layer at room temperature, out of sunlight.
  • Ripen peaches by putting them in a loosely closed paper bag at room temperature. Check daily. They should ripen in one to three days. Do NOT use plastic bags to ripen peaches.
  • Store ripe peaches in the refrigerator up to one week in a perforated plastic bag to prevent water from condensing on the inside of the bag and causing storage rot. The University of Wisconsin Extension gives the following directions for making your own perforated bags: “You can make holes using a standard paper punch or a sharp object such as a pen, pencil, or knife. Punch holes approximately every 6 inches through both sides of the bag. If using a knife to create the openings, make two cuts — in an ‘X’ shape — for each hole to ensure good air circulation.”
  • Wash peaches just before eating or cutting them. Washing peaches before storing may promote bacterial growth and speed up spoilage. Wash peaches under running water, rubbing the peach gently with your hands. Do not use use detergent as this may affect taste and safety.
  • Quickly skin several peaches by dipping a few peaches at a time in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds. Plunge into cold water and slip off the skins.Use immediately or toss with citrus juice or use a commercial ascorbic acid mixture, such as Fruit-Fresh (R) Produce Protector. Place in a covered bowl in the refrigerator and use that day.

(For a printer-friendly copy of this information, use the “Print & PDF” button in the “Share this” section below this post. You can choose to remove images and parts of the post and also determine print size.)

References

Related Links

Leave a Comment

Sweet and Simple Sweet Corn

Fresh-from-the-field sweet corn purchased at Old Cheney Road Farmers Market, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Sweet corn time is one of my favorite times of the year. Just shuck, boil, and eat for one of the tastiest foods on the planet.

Some people who grow sweet corn start the water boiling before they pick the corn to capture the best of its sweet flavor! While we don’t have sweet corn growing in our back yard, buying it from our local farmers market is the next best thing.

If you can’t eat sweet corn immediately when you get home, store it in the refrigerator and eat it as soon as possible, preferably that day. If you wait too long, its sugar turns to starch and that special sweetness is gone.

If you must store sweet corn … refrigerate it, still in the husk, in a perforated plastic bag. To make your own perforated bag, just punch holes into a plastic bag with a sharp object … for example, use a small paring knife to carefully poke holes (about 20 holes per medium-size bag).

Boiling Corn on the Cob

Boiling sweet corn

I boil my corn in a pasta pot and use my strainer insert for easy removal. A long-handled tongs also works well.

Start a large pot of unsalted water boiling while you remove the husks and silk. Use enough water to cover the corn. Place the corn in the boiling water, cover, and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3 – 5 minutes or until tender.

Testing corn tenderness with a sharp knife.

Testing corn tenderness by removing an ear and and poking it with a sharp knife.

How Sweet It Is!

Dinner on the deck along with something from the grill and a side salad was never sweeter … or simpler!

eating sweet corn

My husband and I enjoy brushing our sweet corn with a little olive oil. Perfect!

Related Link: