Monday, January 31, 2011

Rocky Mountain Organic Meats with a New England Twist

A quick look at my post archives will reveal that we love beef in the Good Cook Doris kitchen. But with the hubby’s genetically-caused high cholesterol and a desire to incorporate more variety into our meals, we have reduced the amount of red meat we eat at home. When we do buy beef we are conscious about purchasing high-quality meat. Our first preference is from the local vendors at the farmers market. That isn’t always the most convenient, so we look for grass-fed beef and/or local beef at the grocery store.

Last month I received a tweet from @Grassfedorganic that said, “Omnivore?” My reply was, “Yes, most definitely!” @Grassfedorganic is the twitter handle for Rocky Mountain Organic Meats. The CEO, Rod Morrison, generously offered to send me some of their grass-fed meat to try in my kitchen. They have a variety of products from ground meat to beef jerky to deli meats. I told him that I loved brisket, but looked forward to trying any of their beef products. Located in Wyoming, Rocky Mountain Organic Meats offers certified organic grass-fed beef and lamb through their website. According to the Rocky Mountain Organic Meats website:

“Each of our farmers and ranchers, as well as our processing plant has been inspected and certified organic. This means that our livestock have not been given antibiotics, growth hormones, genetically modified organisms or animal by-products and have eaten only organic feed such as certified organic pasture grasses.”

Confinement? What's that?
Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain Meats.

I’ll add my usual disclosure here. I did not receive any compensation for writing about Rocky Mountain Organic Meats. They generously sent over an assortment of products for me to taste (no obligation to review), and all opinions expressed are my honest opinion. Here’s a look at the assortment:

Beef Jerky, Hot Dogs, Brisket,
Beef Sticks, Ground Brisket, and Beef Pastrami

I love brisket. Smoked, braised, or stewed I will eat it. It’s a cut of meat that lends itself to creativity. Over the summer I smoked the brisket on the backyard grill and enjoyed it with pickled onions. With three feet of snow on the ground and more piling on every other day (that’s what it feels like!), we have to stick with indoor cooking for the time being. Rod sent a 2 pound grass-fed brisket for me to try. When our package first arrived, we opened the Styrofoam cooler and looked under the still-frozen solid ice packs to check out the goods. We put most of the products in the freezer, except for honey pepper beef jerky and the brisket. I can’t remember ever eating beef jerky and the hubby has never really liked jerky of any kind. But this he liked. It was because he felt confident that the ingredients were natural (not like the convenience store jerky). We gnawed on pieces of spicy sweet jerky for a few days for snacks and it was gone pretty quickly.

We also tried the organic beef hotdogs for a quick weeknight dinner with coleslaw and baked beans. The hot dog ingredient list is full of recognizable items: 100% USDA Certified Organic Grass Fed Beef, Water, Organic Black Pepper, Organic White Pepper, Organic Paprika, Organic Ground Mustard, Organic Ground Celery, Organic Granulated Garlic, Sea Salt and Celery Juice Power. I can’t even tell you the last time we ate hot dogs outside of a baseball game or cookout. These were smoky and beefy and if you are craving a hot dog will do the trick.

For the brisket, I wanted to keep it simple to make sure I could taste the flavor of the meat. Rod sent an email describing their meat:

“This beef has never ever seen a feedlot, and does know what corn looks like or taste like. I believe you’re going to taste flavors that you have never had before. Understand that when the cowboys from Texas drove cattle north the cattle got fatter. The high mountain grasses of the Rocky Mountains carry a lot more protein and mineral than always green grasses of the south”.

Using my grandmother’s basic brisket cooking method, I substituted my own flavors for a New England Winter Brisket. I also wanted to make barbecue sauce to top it off. With access to really great locally produced maple products this winter, I’ve been adding maple to a lot of my recipes. For the brisket I used granulated maple sugar, ground roast dark coffee and salt and pepper. While the brisket cooked for a few hours I made a homemade mustard-maple barbecue sauce to top it off. The sauce came out sweet & tangy and was made me think about summer (even with all the snow).

So how did the brisket stack up? The brisket was 2 pounds and had a thin layer of fat on one side. I usually trim off most of the fat, leaving just a few pieces. Grass-fed beef is generally leaner than conventional beef, so it isn’t necessary to trim all the fat away. It will help baste the meat as it cooks. Regular brisket can sometimes shrink in size almost by half after cooking. I weighed the Rocky Mountain brisket before and after cooking for comparison. Since I did trim off some fat, the brisket didn’t shrink very much. It was 1/2 pound lighter after cooking. That meant more to eat! Brisket holds up well to long cooking times, but in general it’s best to cook grass-fed beef for less time than regular beef. Because it is so lean, it will dry out and overcook faster.

New England Maple-Coffee Brisket
This is best prepared the day before you want to serve.

2 pound brisket, some fat trimmed
1/4 cup granulated maple sugar
1/4 cup ground dark roast coffee
1 tablespoon kosher salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper (to taste)
1/4 cup beef broth

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a small bowl mix together maple sugar, coffee, salt and pepper
Place brisket on a large piece of foil (large enough to wrap meat in)
Sprinkle 1/2 of the rub on top and massage into meat, turn the brisket over and repeat on the other side
Sprinkle beef broth on top and wrap tightly
Place wrapped meat in a large roasting pan
Roast for 2 hours
Remove the pan from oven and take brisket out of the foil, placing it on a large platter for about 30 minutes
Wrap in new foil and refrigerate
Drain any juices from the original foil and the platter into a container, refrigerate

On Serving Day:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Slice brisket into 1/8 inch slices, being sure to cut against the grain (short fibers = more tender meat)
Place meat into a roasting pan or casserole with either the gravy or barbecue sauce
Cook for 20-30 minutes before serving

Sweet & Tangy Maple BBQ Sauce
Warning: You may want to drink it…

Makes 3-4 cups of sauce, depending on how you measure

2 cups of tomato ketchup
3/4 cup Grade A Dark Amber Maple Syrup (or Grade B)
1/4 cup prepared Dijon mustard
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons mustard powder

In a large saucepan, heat ketchup over medium-high heat (wear an apron – it bubbles!)
Whisk in the remaining ingredients, bring to a bubble and then lower heat
Simmer for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally

I wrote down the recipe as I went, but I know I tweaked amounts while I cooked. I’m pretty sure I added extra maple and extra mustard powder, but no record of how much. Have fun and tweak it to your liking!

I served the brisket on toasted hot dog rolls with a generous serving of sauce (that's my Sunshine Soup on the side). The sauce is so delicious that I’ve been topping rice, chicken, couscous, really anything I can get my hands on with it. I hope that you enjoy!

For a fun take on barbecue and the taste of summer in winter, head over to my friend’s blog at The Food in My Beard for barbecue soup!

Thank you Rod and Rocky Mountain Organic Meats for sharing your delicious grass-fed beef. To learn more about them, visit their website at

Next on the list to make are burgers using the ground brisket.  What's your favorite beef cut to cook?

Organic Meats Tetonlogo
Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain Organic Meats

Friday, January 28, 2011

Food is Fun: A Weekend of Delicious Eating

Winter in Boston means fighting the desire to stay inside to cook, watch movies, and snuggle up under a warm blanket on the couch.  Last weekend I had two great events to motivate me to get dressed up and head into the city. Both events were at fabulous Boston hotels and filled with delicious food and delightful company!

My extravagant winter weekend started on Saturday at the 5th annual Gamma Phi Beta Boston Alumnae Chapter High Tea. A group of alumnae met at the Taj Boston for an afternoon of mini sandwiches, rich pastries, and great conversation.

Our group loves tea at the Taj. The service staff is fantastic and we always have a wonderful experience. The Taj Royale is a manageable amount of treats (if you didn’t eat lunch!). My absolute favorite is always the egg salad sandwich. Thankfully you don’t have to share anything as they give you one of each item. No worrying that you won’t get your favorite!

While the sandwiches are delicious and paired well with my vanilla earl grey, it’s the pastries that really steal the show. They are decadent and some are topped with gold leaf. The lemon curd is rich, tart, and creamy and it was hard to put down. On top of cherry scones it was even better! Renee could make a meal of scones, clotted cream, and strawberry jam alone. She talks about them for days before tea. You can see her setting up her photo shoot below.

Some of the ladies at the table didn’t polish off their pastries like me….and we took home delicious packages for a late night snack!

After an indulgent tea, I went to bed without dinner. The next morning I woke up excited for my second adventure of the weekend. I decided that a fabulous brunch deserved an equally fabulous outfit and got myself ready to head downtown. I skipped breakfast to leave more room for total food overload. My destination was The Langham Hotel for the City Brunch in Café Fleuri. I met up with 14 fellow food lovers, the Boston Brunchers to experience the extravagant Sunday brunch.

Thanks to the Langham, my brunch was complementary. I did splurge on a delicious grapefruit mimosa ($9) and made sure to leave a generous tip for our fantastic server, who asked us why we weren’t live blogging through the meal. Our answer? We were too focused on food to think about blogging or tweeting while eating! I was not required to ‘review’ brunch and the opinions below are my honest thoughts about my meal.

If there is one breakfast food I love more than eggs, it is smoked salmon. The City Brunch did not disappoint when it came to salmon offerings. I started with the house smoked maple cured salmon topped with finely diced eggs and red onions. My next stop for salmon was the rolled-to-order sushi station. The salmon nigiri was a beautiful shade of coral and melted in my mouth. Ask my table mates, I had at least 2 pieces of salmon on my plate at all times. Even for dessert (salmon nigiri and a chocolate chili brownie). Just look at the beautiful offerings:

One of the other unique offerings at brunch were the hot out of the fryer beignets. After one bite I can see why they pass these out one at a time. If they were on the buffet everyone would overdose on them! The sugary exterior enclosed a light, airy, steamy interior. I savored each bite with a cup of hot coffee making it last as long as possible.

I think I finished the meal having taken at least five trips to the buffet. Some trips resulted in just one or two items and I ended up not finishing all of my dessert. The chocolate croissant bread pudding with caramel sauce was a decadent end to the meal, but it was almost too rich for the amount of food I had already consumed.

More fun than the food was the company! The Boston Blogger scene is filled with friendly, unique, creative, and fun people! No matter who ends up at your table, the conversation is lively and enjoyable. It was great brunching with everyone!

Top photo, left to right: Justin, Katie, Meghan
Bottom photo, left to right: Emily, Athena, Renee, Brian, Bianca, Sarah

After a lavish brunch most people would head straight for the couch and spend the afternoon in a supine position. When it comes to food adventures, I am not like most people. I don’t regularly have the car in the city and wanted to take advantage of it. Renee nicely agreed (well, I was her ride home) to join me for a trip over to Central Bottle Wine and Provisions and Flour Bakery and Café. I love the Blue Room (same owners as Central Bottle) and chat with Central Bottle on twitter, so I knew we were in for a great experience. Of course you can’t visit a wine & cheese shop and not taste the cheese. There was house marinated goat cheese, aged gouda, creamy cow’s milk cheese and more. I chose a tangy little Bijou Goat Cheese from Vermont and Renee took home a wedge of mimolette and Cabot clothbound cheddar. It was impossible to leave without picking up wine also.

I spotted a red that looked interesting – Marche Rosso Fontezoppa. I chose it because I know that I like the grapes in the blend (50% sangiovese, 40% cabernet, 10% merlot). Another bonus, it was $11! When it came time to pick white, I had no idea what I wanted. Thankfully I was able to explain my likes/dislikes to the friendly staff who presented me with four different options in my desired price range. I haven’t opened that bottle yet, so I’ll save it for another post. I paired the red with a variety of dishes and it was dry, coated my tongue (which I love), and kept me going back for more. I paired it with a grilled goat cheese, fig, and lavender sandwich and a hearty bowl of lentils with a garlicky balsamic vinaigrette.The flavor paired well with the bold flavors in the food and was perfect for a cold wintery day.

And of course I should mention what delicious treats I got at Flour! I was so full from brunch it was hard to decide. Since the hubby didn't enjoy either of the meals (he did get the leftover tea pastries), I picked something I knew he would like. I took home two beautiful cornmeal lime cookies. They were the perfect combination of sweet and tart. The lime glaze on top was amazing - I need to try to make that at home!

Now you can see why Healthy Snacks Wednesdays are so important! When you know you have a lot of weekend eating on the schedule you have to be more healthy during the week. Don't forget to enter the giveaway for two vouchers for your choice of Veggie Patch products. You can enter through Tuesday night.

What fun food adventures do you have planned for this weekend? I hope they are delicious!

Taj Hotel (Bar, Cafe and Lounge) on UrbanspoonCafe Fleuri on UrbanspoonFlour Bakery + Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Healthy Snack Wednesdays: More than Snack Time

Planning is essential for fitting healthy eating into a busy schedule. Most of us eat on the go and it can be hard to resist the urge to eat unhealthy fast foods. Today’s healthy eating post is dedicated to a healthy breakfast that could also be a great lunch or late snack. You can make it on Sunday and be ready for the week.

Before I talk about the new recipe, congratulations to the winner of the Chobani yogurt giveaway! Using, the winner is Nicole of I am a honey bee, who said...

“I tend to use a lot of sour cream so I would swap that out and use plain Chobani on things like baked potatoes.”

Thank you to everyone to stopping by to enter! I really enjoyed reading the creative uses for Chobani! They included:
  • Yogurt in my baked potato soup
  • I would mix it with Frank's Red Hot - my favorite hot sauce! And I'd probably add garlic too, because I love garlic.
  • It's great on top of nachos, and in soups. I've made a wonderful spicy green tomato soup that needed a little cooling down so I mixed up some chopped cilantro and plain chobani and drizzled it over the soup
  • I use it mixed with herbs as a swap for mayo on sandwiches too.
  • Love mixing Greek yogurt and jam together...favorite snack and quick breakfast.
  • I just recently tried it in my corn pudding recipe instead of sour cream and it was fantastic!
  • It's great in a whole wheat pumpkin bread with cranberries
  • I would love to use Chobani in place of cream when making a Thai Curry!

Check the bottom of this post for another great giveaway! This week’s giveaway is from Veggie Patch for some delicious vegetarian food. Now on to this week’s creation!

If you are like me, breakfast before work is an on-the-go type of meal. I eat in the car on the way to getting dropped off at the commuter rail station. With an hour commute, it isn’t reasonable to wait until I get to work to eat breakfast. Some of my regular breakfasts include low-fat waffles with almond butter, toast and peanut butter, and a microwave egg on toast. These can all be made in about 2 minutes before heading out the door. But you’ll notice something is missing from all of these – fruits and vegetables! I do try to eat a piece of fruit for a morning snack at work, but that doesn’t always happen.

On Sunday I decided to come up with a new idea for this week’s healthy breakfast. It needed to be in individual serving sizes and easy to reheat before work. I decided on mini-muffin omelets and turkey bacon. For the omelets I used eggs, broccoli, and a little Monterey jack cheese. I also baked turkey bacon while the muffins were cooking. Turkey bacon has less fat and calories than regular bacon and adds additional protein to power up your morning. The turkey bacon I buy has 35 calories, 1.5 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein per slice.

A fun fact about broccoli - did you know that the peak season for broccoli is in the winter? It is available year round, but its peak season is between October and April. Broccoli is also a good source of iron and vitamins A and C.  The cheese adds some healthy dairy to the mix for a well-rounded breakfast!

This recipe makes 12 muffins, you could easily cut it in half to make 6. For a bite sized treat you could cook the muffins in a mini-muffin pan. If broccoli isn’t your favorite, throw in any leftover vegetables like diced peppers, chopped spinach, mushrooms, or tomatoes. To keep the muffins fresh for the week wrap 1-2 muffins in plastic wrap. If you plan to eat them the next day, place them in the fridge. If not, place them in the freezer. Take out a package the night before and put them in the refrigerator to thaw overnight.

To reheat, microwave for 45 seconds - 1 minute on high heat. You could also pack these for a light lunch or late afternoon snack if you are working late. If you want an easy way to make these even more portable, roll up a muffin and a piece of bacon in a tortilla for a breakfast burrito or between two slices of whole wheat bread!

I’ve noticed that this protein packed breakfast has kept me full until lunch this week. I throw a piece of fruit in my bag for a snack but often don’t eat it until the afternoon. I hope this inspires you to think about powering up your breakfast and starting the day right!

Weekday Mini-Omelets and Turkey Bacon
6 eggs
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used Monterey jack, you could use cheddar or Swiss)
Chopped veggies (I used 3-4 small pieces of broccoli per muffin tin)
Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Spray a non-stick muffin tin with cooking spray, making sure to coat well
Whisk together eggs and milk
Mix in shredded cheese
Pour about 1/4 cup of eggs into each muffin tin
Add broccoli pieces or chopped vegetables into each tin
Bake for 20 minutes until cooked through
Remove from oven and carefully remove muffins from the tin (a mini spatula helps loosen the edges)
Cool completely before putting in the refrigerator or freezer

Easy Turkey Bacon
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
Lay out the turkey bacon in a single layer
Bake in the oven along with the muffins
After 10 minutes carefully turn over the slices of bacon
When muffins are done (20 minutes), remove the bacon and cool on a paper towel
Wrap well in plastic wrap, then foil (you can either refrigerate or freeze)
To reheat, wrap in a paper towel and microwave for 30-45 seconds


Win 2 coupons for Veggie Patch Products!
This week the lovely folks over at Veggie Patch are giving one lucky winner 2 vouchers for Veggie Patch products of their choice. Veggie Patch makes a variety of vegetarian and soy products like broccoli and cheese bites, meatless meatballs, veggie dogs and falafel (just to name a few).

If you have a great recipe that sneaks vegetables into something delicious, check out the Veggie Patch Ultimate Sneak-Away Contest with best-selling author and culinary expert, Missy Chase Lapine—known as The Sneaky Chef—to give moms clever new tricks for sneaking real vegetables into some of America’s favorite foods. The Ultimate Sneak-Away Contest, hosted on Facebook invites you to share your “Sneak of the Week” – a favorite tip, trick or recipe designed to sneak veggies into a meal, snack or dessert. One lucky “Sneak of the Week” submission will win The Ultimate Sneak-Away grand prize, including an exclusive, in-person culinary consultation with Missy Chase Lapine, where she will share cooking tips and provide custom nutritional advice. In addition, Missy will prepare a delicious dinner for the family while you sneak out of the kitchen to enjoy a relaxing spa treatment. The contest will run through January 30 2011, with three recipes selected weekly by Veggie Patch and Missy Chase Lapine as the featured “Sneak of the Week.”

To enter to win 2 vouchers to try out their products, here’s what you have to do:

Required Entry: Comment below and let me know what your favorite vegetable is and how you like to eat it!

Bonus Entry #1: Follow GoodCookDoris on Facebook, subscribe to the RSS feed or add to Google Reader (see the Connect tab up top)

Bonus #2: Follow Veggie Patch on Facebook or Twitter

Please leave a separate comment for each action below. Entries will be accepted through 9:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, February 1, 2011. One winner will receive two vouchers for Veggie Patch products. The winner will be announced in next week’s healthy Wednesday post!  For an extra chance to win, and some more great healthy snack ideas, visit Renee over at Eat.Live.Blog!

Full Disclosure: Veggie Patch generously agreed to sponsor a giveaway as part of the Healthy Snack Wednesday series. Veggie Patch is responsible for fulfillment of the prize. I was not compensated for this post and do not have any personal tie-ins to the Sneak-Away contest, it just sounds like fun!

Happy snacking!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Back to School: Thinking about Food

Winter break is over and I've headed back to school for another semester. After taking a year of MBA classes, I decided to follow my passion for food (some might say obsession) and take classes in the Master of Liberal Arts (MLA) in Gastronomy program at Boston University. The Gastronomy program is not culinary school – it’s a program about the study of food – food business, marketing, culture, history, tourism, and more. My classmates came from many different backgrounds: food enthusiasts, career switchers, professionally trained chefs, and other food industry veterans.

Last semester I took an introductory course, Understanding Food: Theory and Methodology. Each week we explored ‘food’ through a different liberal arts discipline. These ranged from philosophy to art history to archaeology to sociology. With a little dose of theory thrown in the curriculum helped me to understand the different lenses through which you can study the broad subject of food. Going from thinking about accounting problems to contemplating the globalization of corn was quite a switch! While it was challenging, it was a thought-provoking and enjoyable semester. How can you be unhappy when your assignments include a cookbook analysis, observing farmers markets and writing a research paper about a topic of your choosing related to food?

Charles Square Farmers Market

I spent a lot of hours working on my final paper. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a great start for not having done a research paper in at least 10 years! I combined what I was already doing regularly, visiting farmers markets and interviewing vendors, with some academic research for a paper discussing female food entrepreneurs and the Boston farmers market scene. I typically visit a farmers market 1-2 times per week in the summer and biweekly in the winter. Through my observations I was intrigued that most of the non-farm food vendors were female owned and managed. I started thinking about why this was the case? Was it something about the Boston market scene? Something about the women? The nature of the food business? There were a lot of angles to consider. I reached out to a number of these women who graciously agreed to answer questions about how they got into business and their experience at Boston area farmers markets and in the food industry. I won’t bore you with all 30 pages of my paper and exhibits, but I will work on an edited version to share on the blog.

Chatting with Atlas Farm on the last day of the Copley Square Market

This semester I am enrolled in another class, Anthropology of Food. I am fascinated by how people think about food, how it defines cultures, and its role in society. Do you ever think about how much food likes/dislikes can tell you about someone? And how people readily share this information? You wouldn’t normally tell a casual acquaintance about health issues or personal secrets, but you’ll readily share your food preferences (which can reveal a lot about you, I think!). The class will look more broadly at what food can tell us about human culture and society. From food centered life history to globalization to social structures, the class will look at how anthropologists approach these topics along with the necessary methodological tools.

Some of the assignments include conducting an interview and writing an essay on a food centered life history, observing a food related environment and analyzing the experience, and researching, preparing, and presenting a dish based on one of the course themes for our final class.

It is going to be a lot of work, but it will be engaging, challenging, and I think enjoyable! My blog posting frequency will likely decrease with the increase in homework, but I will do my best to keep to a regular schedule. I’ll try to sprinkle in learnings from my class along with regular recipes and features.

Thanks for your continued support and readership. I’m looking forward to a great 2011!

P.S. Don't forget to enter for a chance to win Chobani Greek Yogurt! Winners will be announced on Healthy Snack Wednesday! Enter here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Healthy Snack Wednesdays: Endless Possibilities with Greek Yogurt

First, congratulations to the winners of last week’s Healthy Snack Giveaway! They are:

Case of pretzel crisps:  Jacki, one of the participants in the weight loss challenge
Tribe Hummus vouchers: Kathy of @KathyCanCook, and two new readers Kristy and Jeannine


Please email your name and mailing address to lara [at] goodcookdoris [dot] com and I’ll make sure your prize gets out to you! Now on to this week’s healthy snacking.

If you’ve been grocery shopping lately, you’ve seen the explosion of choices in the yogurt section. There is regular, low fat, fat free, fruit-on-the bottom, lactose free, rice yogurt, coconut milk yogurt, probiotic, organic, Greek, and the list goes on.  Everyone has their favorite, but lately I’ve been sticking with Greek yogurt.

Greek yogurt is thick, creamy, a little tangy, and full of nutrition. For this week’s healthy recipes I used Chobani low-fat plain yogurt.  I won a case of Chobani in an online giveaway (hosted by Chobani) and decided to put it to use for Healthy Snack Wednesday.  Here’s the rundown on one 6-ounce container of the plain yogurt:  130 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, and 17 grams of protein. That is some nutritional power! I checked Chobani’s website for a few other nutritional details. The plain low-fat yogurt is gluten-free, vegetarian (gelatin-free), and kosher certified. Pretty powerful for a small container! You could also choose non-fat if you would like to reduce your fat intake. See the end of the post for how you can win some Chobani for yourself!

This week I have a variety of recipes to share. Some are snacks, some are meals, but all of them are easy and full of flavor. I’ll include all of the recipes at the end.  For even more ideas, visit Renee's blog at Eat.Live.Blog.

First up a colorful and healthy soup. I had leftover carrots, parsnips, and white beans in the refrigerator along with my yogurt.  Homemade soups are not as difficult as you might think. With about a half an hour and either an immersion blender or blender you can make a healthy homemade soup.  You control the ingredients and most importantly the flavor and saltiness. Swap in plain Greek yogurt instead of blending in heavy cream, milk, or sour cream and you boost the nutritional power of your soup.  You can use this basic recipe and swap in different vegetables, herbs, and spices to put together your own soup creation.

Greek yogurt also makes a great base for dips and spreads. You can take any recipe that calls for sour cream or mayonnaise and swap in an equal amount of yogurt. It’s thick consistency and tangy flavor stands up to bold flavors like spicy hot sauce, refreshingly cool cucumber, or even sweet cinnamon and pumpkin.  Inspired by a tweet I saw from L’Espalier about a spicy cocktail tasting (one w/ sriracha & lime) I mixed up yogurt, sriracha sauce, lime juice and salt.  The dip would be great as a vegetable or chip dip, but I used it to top off a big bowl of quinoa and vegetables.

Greek yogurt can be as a base for a variety of mix-ins.  Stock a few containers of yogurt in your refrigerator at work and you’ll always have the beginning of a healthy snack.  You can start with plain yogurt, but my favorite flavors are honey and pineapple.  Just measure the proper serving size for the mix-ins to manage the fat and calories.  Some fun & healthy mix-ins:

-Fresh or dried fruit
-Granola or cereal like Kashi Go Lean Crunch
-Grapenuts (great way to drown out a noisy office!)
-Chocolate chips
-Fruit preserves
-Canned pumpkin (a great dip!)

Sunshine Soup ( you need a catchy name for a healthy recipe, right?)
Serves 4-6

4 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch coins
4-6 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch coins
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Kosher salt to taste (a pinch to start)
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
4 cups soaked white beans or 3-4 cans of white beans, drained (navy or cannellini beans)
4 cups stock (could be chicken, turkey, vegetable)
1 6-ounce cup of Chobani Plain low-fat Greek Yogurt
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil in a medium soup pan over medium heat
Add carrot and parsnip coins and toss to coat
Cook for 10-15 minutes until softened, but not mushy
Add minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn garlic
Add beans to pot and mix with vegetables
Add stock and stir to mix
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low
Cook for 10-15 minutes
Remove from heat
If you have an immersion blender: Blend carefully in pot
Blender: Transfer soup to blender and blend carefully. You may need to blend in batches
Once soup is blended to desired consistency, add yogurt and stir until smooth
Garnish with fresh herbs, salt, and pepper
Drizzle a little olive oil on top and serve

Prep Time: 10 minutes chopping and assembling
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
Cutting board, knife, soup pot, measuring cups and spoons, immersion blender/blender, spoon, ladle, serving dishes

Sriracha Lime Dip
Recipe for 1 container of yogurt
Add more hot sauce depending on your heat tolerance.  The amount below would be considered mild.

1 6-ounce container of plain Greek Yogurt
1 tablespoon of Sriracha hot pepper sauce (or  your favorite hot sauce)
Juice from half of a lime
Pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients well
Serve with vegetables, chips, or pretzel crisps
Or top vegetable stir-fry, rice, quinoa, or even grilled tofu or chicken

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Mixing bowl, measuring spoon, serving dish and spoon

Win a case of Chobani yogurt (12 6-oz containers) in your choice of flavor! You can enter up to three times. You can include all entries in one comment, just be sure to mention them all.  Entries due by midnight on Tuesday, January 25 and the winner will be chosen with and announced on Wednesday, January 25.

This contest is now closed. Thank you for stopping by to enter!

Full Disclosure: I won a case of Chobani yogurt through a Twitter giveaway. I was not asked to review or blog about the products. I did not receive any compensation for my post or recipe. I just love to create fun new dishes!  Chobani generously offered to provide a giveaway on the blog. Prize fulfillment is the responsibility of Chobani.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Daring Cooks Challenge: Vegetarian Cassoulet

This month's Daring Kitchen challenge was a dish perfect for the chilly winter temperatures.  Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.

I have heard about cassoulet, but have never made it at home. After checking out the recipe provided I know why! It is full of pork, duck, and sausage.  All three things that don't get cooked at our house.  Thankfully our Daring Cooks hostesses provided recipes and tips for the vegetarian and non-pork eaters.  However choosing a vegetarian version eliminates duck confit from the dish a technique that our hostesses wanted us to learn.  They also included recipes for leek and garlic confit to incorporate into the dish.

The vegetarian cassoulet recipe came from Gourmet Magazine, March 2008.  Glancing at the recipe it seemed pretty straightforward.  The meat version preparation can stretch over four days and I didn't want to feel left out.  I added extra steps to my vegetarian version to complete over three days of cooking.

First, I baked baguettes to be turned into the garlic breadcrumb topping.  I made this King Arthur Flour baguette recipe for the June Daring Cooks Challenge (pate and freshly baked bread).  The recipe is easy to follow and the results are great!

I also decided to buy dried beans in place of the canned beans the recipe called for.  The recipe lists 3 19-ounce cans of white beans.  In my head, I thought, "Okay, 3x19= 57 ounces".  I loaded up on dried navy beans in the bulk aisle and brought my beans home to soak.  About 3 hours into soaking, the beans were starting to expand out of their bowl.  I split them up into a few containers and let them to continue to soak.  About 12 hours in, I realized that I was soaking 3 times as many beans as I really needed.  Oops!  That's why last week's healthy snack ingredient was white beans. I parboiled the beans before using them in the cassoulet according to advice on the Rancho Gordo beans site.

The other component I made in advance was the garlic confit. The hostesses provided a recipe from Saveur. The most difficult part was peeling the garlic. I could have done the whack and peel, but I felt like the cloves should be whole for this dish.  The picture didn't come out very good, but the garlic and remaining garlic oil were amazing.  The recipe made enough garlic to spread on toast and oil to use in my white bean dip.

The last premade ingredient for the cassoulet was homemade turkey stock. I simmered leftover turkey bones with vegetables and herbs for a rich and flavorful stock.  The stock was a great swap for the water that was called for in the cassoulet recipe.

On cassoulet cooking day I assembled my prepared ingredients and chopped carrots and leeks. The first step was cooking down the vegetables and fresh parsley.

While the cassoulet cooked I toasted thin slices of the baguette for the breadcrumbs.  The slices dried out in a 200 degree oven for about a half an hour.  They were so crunchy that the food processor blades couldn't chop them.  I crumbled them by hand and added a few cloves and some oil from the garlic confit. They went back into the oven to toast for an additional 15 minutes before getting tossed with fresh parsley.  These were unbelievably good. I can't wait to make them again for salad, soups, or just a snack.

With everything cooked and prepared it was time to eat.  This cassoulet was amazing.  It was rich, hearty and tasted better each day.  We had enough for lunches and dinners for an entire week.  Thanks to the Daring Cooks for a fun and delicious challenge!

Did you enter to win prizes from Pretzel Crisps and Tribe Hummus yet? You have until Tuesday!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Healthy Snack Wednesdays: Heart Healthy Oatmeal

We made it through week one of our biggest loser style challenge! Renee and I didn't have a 'big number' on the scale at our second weigh-in, but we did have a successful first week. We stopped taking the elevator and walked up four flights of stairs instead. Lunch hour included healthy dishes and a 20 minute walk each day.  It's an 8-week challenge so what really counts is the long-term result.

Being at Boston University, there are a lot of resources available to faculty and staff. One great resource is access to the BU Nutrition and Fitness Center. They work hard to make healthy choices available on campus and to educate the University about healthier living.  One of their nutritionists came to give us a brief talk about healthy eating last week.  Inspired by their talk and some recipes they sent over, Renee and I decided to choose oats as our ingredient for this week's healthy snack.

Oats are a versatile, and healthy, ingredient! Part of the grains group on the food pyramid, they are heart healthy and rich in fiber. You can use them in every meal: oatmeal for breakfast, granola for snack, mixed into meatloaf for lunch and dinner, and as a topping for fruit crisps for dessert. There are many different choices for oats at the store. Be careful when selecting oatmeal - many of the flavored instant oatmeal packets have a lot of sugar.  Instead of getting the flavored packets you can pick up the original instant and make your own flavors. This allows you to control the amount of ingredients you add in.  A few of my favorite oatmeal mix-ins include:

-Brown sugar
-Maple syrup
-1 teaspoon of peanut butter
-Dried fruits like cranberries, cherries, or raisins
-Fruit preserves or jam
-Bananas and a few chocolate chips

For Healthy Snack Wednesday, I decided to try one of the oatmeal cookie recipes sent over from the women at Sargent Choice (at BU Nutrition and Fitness).  They are not no-calorie and no-fat cookies, but they are more nutritious and less-bad for you.  Unless of course you eat all 3-dozen at once!  The key to healthy eating is really moderation.  I find that I don't have to give up my favorite foods, I just need to eat the appropriate portion size.

These cookies have heart-healthy oats and flax seed. Flax seed adds a good dose of nutritional value to the cookies with omega-3 (good fat) and additional fiber.  I did add a little extra antioxidants to the original recipe with a few mini-dark chocolate chips. Using mini-chips gives you a little chocolate flavor in each cookie without adding too much additional sugar.  If you make 1 tablespoon sized cookies this recipe will yield 3-dozen heart healthy cookies to share with your family, friends, or co-workers.  Thanks again to Sargent Choice for the recipe and nutrition information. Please note, the nutrition information does not account for the mini-chocolate chips. I also swapped dried cherries for the raisins which might change the sugar content as well.

Heart Healthy Oatmeal Cookies
Yields 3 dozen cookies

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups Quick oats (NOT instant or regular)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick salted butter (equal to 1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1 cup dried cherries (or raisins)
1/4 cup mini-chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper
Add butter, oil, vanilla, granulated sugar and brown sugar to your mixer bowl (or large bowl)
Cream butter and sugars with a mixer until butter is smooth
Add eggs and mix until smooth
Add flour and baking soda and mix until incorporated
Add ground flax seed and mix until incorporated
Stir in oats, adding 1 cup at a time until combined
Stir in dried cherries and mini-chocolate chips

Using a greased tablespoon, drop cookie dough 2" apart onto parchment-lined baking sheet
Using your hand or the back of the spoon, press the balls of dough down, flattening them slightly
Bake for 8-11 minutes, until golden brown and the look slightly under-done
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire cooling rack, the cookies will harden after cooling

The dough will be dry and somewhat crumbly
Do not overcook the cookies. It is important to take them out of the oven when the center still seems slightly undercooked
You can also use unsalted butter and add in salt separately (I have not tried this yet for results)
The addition of orange zest would give the cookies a nice zing (Planning to try this for the next batch)
The cookies tasted better after they had cooled (and even better the second day)

Flax seeds might be something you have never bought before.  At Whole Foods you can find whole flax seeds in the bulk foods aisle.  You can also find them in the baking aisle near the flours.  Bob's Red Mill brand offers flax seed meal.  At the regular grocery store, you can look for them in the organic/natural foods aisle.  If you can only find whole flax seeds, you can grind them using your coffee grinder. The whole and ground seeds look like the photo below:

Cookie Nutrition:

How is your healthy snacking and eating going? Any tips or tricks that you use to be successful?

Now for some healthy snacking fun! Tribe Hummus and Pretzel Crisps have generously offered to giveaway healthy snacks to some lucky readers. Winners will be chosen at random using One winner will win a case (12 packs) of Pretzel Crisps in the flavor(s) of their choice. Three additional winners will win 2 vouchers for their choice of Tribe Origins Hummus. Entries due by midnight on Tuesday, January 18. Winners will be announced on Wednesday, January 19, 2011. 

You can enter up to three times (you can do any combination of the entries below):
Entry 1: Visit both of these snacks’ websites, and comment below on which flavor Pretzel Crisps and which flavor Tribe Origins Hummus you would like to try.
Entry 2: Become a fan of Pretzel Crisps and Tribe Hummus on Facebook, and leave me a comment below.
Entry 3: Tweet about the contest or mention on Facebook and leave a comment below (be sure to include @goodcookdoris, @pretzelcrisps and @tribehummus in your tweet)

Bonus entry: Leave a comment letting me know if you subscribe to the blog. If you would like to add the blog to your reader or subscribe, leave a note letting me know you did!

Full disclosure: Tribe Hummus and Pretzel Crisps are responsible for fulfillment of the contest prizes. I was not compensated for promoting this contest, except for a sample of crisps and hummus delivered by Pretzel Crisps (see last Wednesday's post for details).

Sunday, January 9, 2011

December in DC: Delicious Eats Part 2

Our third day in DC was our total overindulgence day.  With so many places to try in just four days it was inevitable.  When looking for close breakfast places, we were thrilled to see that Cowgirl Creamery DC was just around the corner.  We started our day at the only East Coast location of the famed California creamery.  They shop is small, but packed with treats.  They brew each cup of coffee individually for a fresh flavor.  To start my day, I chose the French roast to accompany a fresh chevre and cranberry sauce sandwich on a ciabatta roll.  The combination of tangy, sweet, and creamy was the perfect breakfast.  The guys picked caramel sticky buns but they were inhaled so quickly that I didn’t get a photo.  When in a cheese shop, you can’t leave without cheese.  Mara and I wandered back to the cheese counter to explore the selection.  The cheesemonger encouraged us to try as many cheeses as we’d like. I think we would have been sick if we tried to do that!  After sampling I picked up a beautiful orange mimolette that looked like a cantaloupe, a soft cheese with sweet and spicy peppers called Devil’s Gulch, and a nutty Californian cheese called Serena.

Our morning sightseeing was a tour of Ford’s Theater.  The tour guide was “the police chief on duty when Lincoln was shot.”  He gave an interesting perspective on the events that transpired in the theater that night.  We recently listened to Sarah Vowell’s “Assassination Vacation” on CD and many of the artifacts she mentioned were in the museum.  If you haven’t read, or listened, to her books I would highly recommend them.  They are entertaining, educating, and full of intricate historical details.

After leaving Ford’s Theater and nixing a visit to the Lincoln Waffle House across the street we headed up to the Capitol for the afternoon.  Our first stop was Good Stuff Eatery, the burger joint of Spike from Top Chef.  This was recommended by a few people.  Luckily we were late enough to miss the huge lunch rush and settled in for a greasy burger-fest. There was a fun dipping bar with assorted mayonnaise choices and sauces.  Along with ketchup we picked three flavored mayos: sriracha, chipotle, and mango.  We all ordered the basic cheeseburger, loaded with special sauce on a misshapen potato bun.  The ‘lunch bag’ came with a generous side of Sunny’s hand cut fries with sea salt. 

To wash it down the hubby ordered a toasted marshmallow milkshake (that’s a frappe to you Bostonians!).  Besides the toasty marshmallows on top there were also bits of marshmallows mixed into the vanilla shake.  If you are keeping track, this is ice cream #4.

We walked off our lunch with a tour of the Capitol.  We took the last tour of the day and couldn’t spend too much time exploring the exhibition hall.  Once we got outside the sun was starting to set, bathing the Capital in a buttery yellow light.  I love the way the building almost glows in the picture we took.

Our dinner reservation was still two hours away so we headed up to Dupont Circle to visit Kramer Books.  The independent books shop was recommended to Mara and Mark as an interesting place to browse.  I picked up a book that I’ve been looking at for a while, Mark Kurlansky’s Food of a Younger Land.  When you think about the documenting food bloggers do now about eating, it is interesting to think about what subjects food writers were covering in the 1930’s.

To cap off our day of eating we headed to the IMF building in the Foggy Bottom area for dinner at Founding Farmers.  FF had been recommended by both DC locals and visitors.  It is owned by the North Dakota Farming Union and they source their food from family farms.  FF also has an extensive cocktail menu with something for every taste, including non-alcoholic coolers.  We had a great meal, but perhaps one of the strangest service experiences any of us had every experienced!  Our server started with an enthusiastic welcome and a very easy to hear & understand rant about his disappointment that Santa had not delivered a Lexus to his living room on Christmas.  After he finished that story, he asked us if we’d like to hear about the menu.  He launched into his spiel, but he mumbled quietly through it and we had to lean in and ask to repeat every few words.  We ordered some creative cocktails and appetizers and spent a few more minutes studying the diverse choices on the menu. 

When the server came back, we had a few questions about the menu.  This is where things got really entertaining.  When asking which of two raviolis to order, he answered "neither - go with the short ribs".  When we asked about the rotisserie vs. the fried chicken, he said "don't bother with the rotisserie, it’s too salty."  And a question about a salad entrée?  “It’s good, if you like salad”.  He pretty much ruled out 50% of the items on the menu by the time he was done.  Regardless of the strange advice, we all really enjoyed our dinners.  Mark had a huge salad with roasted beets, fresh turkey, ham, beef, and assorted vegetables.  Josh rebelliously ordered a pasta dish.  Mara and I ordered the fried chicken and waffles served with rich macaroni and cheese and over-garlicky green beans.  The food was fresh, inventive, and flavorful. We would definitely go back when we are in DC again.

With the day of eating behind us we skipped dessert and headed for bed.  I will leave you with our favorite quote from our server:

Us: “What’s the popcorn of the day?”
Server: “Rosemary parmesan”
Us: Pause for contemplation
Server: “It’s only $2, so if it sucks what’s the big deal?”

Next up is another installment of Healthy Snack Wednesdays.  On Friday I’ll have Part 3 of the DC dining series.

Have you ever had a great laugh from a bizarre server comment?  The rest of the trip we kept saying, “It’s only [fill-in-the-blank], so if it sucks what’s the big deal?”

Founding Farmers on UrbanspoonGood Stuff Eatery on Urbanspoon


Related Posts with Thumbnails