Beets, The Forgotten Vegetable

There are many great vegetables we enjoy during the winter months. While the foods we probably most think about during that time are the turkey, the ham, and the desserts, the vegetables really play an important role, both in that holiday meal and for the rest of the winter.

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Beets In The Garden

Everyone has their must have vegetable at the dinner table but rarely do you see beets on the family table. Beets are a great vegetable to enjoy all winter long. Fall to spring these are in season. They are sweet, especially when roasted, and make a great addition to any salad. So enjoy that garden salad all winter long with some fresh roasted or pickled beets on top.

Mixing beet tops in with your favorite salad greens is another way to get more vitamins and nutrition into your everyday dinner salad. They are packed with vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and C. Beets also contain Folic Acid, Iodine, Manganese, Potassium, Iron, Calcium, Copper and Phosphorus. All these things are needed for a healthy body.

You can eat beets that have been boiled, steamed, sauteed or roasted. Select beets that are firm to the touch. Older beets become spongy with age. Beets that are between 3 and 4 inches are best for roasting and cooking but smaller ones can be pickled for use in salads and relishes.

Store your fresh beets in the refrigerator until ready to use. Beets have an outer skin that needs to be removed before eating. If you roast the beets, their skin will slide off easily but if you are boiling or using them raw, peel them with a vegetable peeler first.

Beets go well with other root vegetables, can be added to soups but one of my favorite ways is to make chips that are healthier for you than the regular potato chips.

Beet Chips

3-4 Small Beets

Oil for frying

2-3 Tablespoons of flour

Sea Salt to taste

Peel the beets and slice into thin pieces, using a mandolin. Heat the oil on medium high heat. Add the beets to a ziploc plastic bag, sprinkle the flour over the beets and shake to cover. Add the beet slices to the hot oil, shaking off any access flour first and fry until slices are a golden brown, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle the salt over the top. Eat and enjoy while still warm.

 

Most of us are busy throughout the year but with the holidays coming we sometimes need a little extra help in keeping up with our duties.  These are a few of my favorite quick and easy dinners to do, just that.

Chicken Pizza Casserole:

Line an oven safe casserole dish or pizza pan with frozen chicken nuggets, get them as close as possible. Then pour a can of tomato sauce over the nuggets. Layer in about ¾ cup of mozzarella cheese and your favorite veggie toppings*. Cover tightly, with foil.

If you are going to use within 48 hours, place it your fridge until needed, then bake covered at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake until the cheese has melted and slightly browns.

*Cut your veggies into bit sizes for even cooking. A Jar of pizza sauce can be used instead of the tomato sauce for extra flavor.

Cheesy Mac and Beans Casserole:

Cook one or two packages of macaroni and cheese, depending on the size of your family, following box instructions. When done, place in oven safe large bowl or casserole dish. Make a dimple or path in the macaroni and cheese then pour in a can of drained dark kidney beans. Chop a large onion and do a quick fry with 1 tablespoon of oil, in a medium skillet until the onion is almost cooked. Spread the partially cooked onions over the cheese and bean mixture. Cover mixture with about 1 ½ cups of chopped chicken, ham or grilled beef, spreading it evenly. Cover with foil.

Cover your casserole dish with foil, then place in fridge until needed or freeze for later use. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the cover and sprinkle about ½ cup of shredded Cheddar cheese over the top and bake another 10 minutes until the cheese has melted and turned a light brown.

Serve with a tossed green salad for a nourishing quick meal. 

These two easy dinners, can be time savers for any night of the week.  They are delicious enough for company or just for family night.

More tips for easy dinners can be found at  http://hassieskitchentable.com/whats-dinner/

To me, there is nothing better, than opening my front door and smelling the aroma of my dinner cooking in my slow cooker or crock pot.
When I had five children at home, it was the most used cooking utensil in the kitchen, and still is. Although I am a single person now, I still use my tried and true friend, the crock pot.

Over the years, I have found, these few tips improve my crock pot cooking joy.

cold weather and hot food
[1] Using the right size crock pot, for the job.  I have three different size crock pot cookers, because I never want to over fill the cooking insert.  It would only cause spillage or under cooked food.
[2] Planning ahead by doing the chopping of your vegetables the night before and storing them in the refrigerator is the secret to quickly getting the meal together before leaving for work.  DO NOT, store the vegetables in the crock pot insert.  Starting with a cold insert will only add to the cooking time. So store the chopped veggies in an air tight container overnight, then place them in the cooker in the morning.
[3] You should prepare your meat before hand, too.  Remember you are cooking with low heat, so you do not want to have you meat to be too thick, as it may not reach a safe cooking temperature.  A piece of meat no more than 2 inches thick, should work great.  Keeping your whole chicken or chicken parts to about 2-3 pounds works well, also.  Do a spice rub on your meat of choice, cover or wrap, then place it in the refrigerator with your vegetables.
[4] DO NOT lift the lid on your crock pot, until you are within the last 30-45 minutes of the cooking time.  It will only release the heat and interupt the cooking process.
You can check for doneness or add spices in the last 30 minutes of so but at any other time, you are doing more harm than good.
[5] If time permits, add more flavor to your meal by searing your beef.  Heat a heavy skillet to hot, add a tablespoon of oil, then place the meat in the hot skillet, listen for the sizzle.  Cook on both sides about 1-3 minutes each, depending on the thickness of your meat.  Then place the piece of meat into your crock pot cooker and add any juices from the skillet before placing the lid on the slow cooker and starting your cooking time.  You will get a richer broth and fuller flavor from the beef by doing this extra step.

Fall is coming, we can feel the coolness in the air and see the leaves beginning to turn in color. Today I am passing along one of my Mother’s favorite cool weather recipes for Fried Green Tomatoes. Growing up I was never a big fan of this recipe but as it was one of mother’s favorites, I taught myself to make it when she came to live with me.

While it calls for green tomatoes, I always thought they were too tart, even after frying, so I use tomatoes that are just on the verge of turning pink but are still firm to the touch.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes

For this recipe you will need:

About ¾ cup yellow cornmeal

About ½ cup all purpose white flour

Salt and black pepper

About 1 teaspoon sugar, optional

About ½ teaspoon crumbled dried Italian oregano or sweet marjoram

1 extra-large egg or 2 medium

¼ cup of milk

3 to 4 green tomatoes, sliced about 1/2-inch thick

Oil for frying (I use vegetable or olive oil)


In a shallow bowl, mix the flour and cornmeal with the seasonings; season generously with salt and pepper. Beat the egg and milk, in another small shallow bowl.

Pour oil in a large skillet to about 1/2-inch deep then heat over medium heat. While the oil is heating place paper towels on a baking sheet.

One at a time, dip the tomato slices into the egg, and then dredge them, on both sides in the flour/cornmeal mixture. I use a fork or my hands, which ever you like, to handle the tomato slices, taking them from egg to dry ingredients, to skillet. Carefully drop them into the hot oil until the pan is full. Saute them in one layer, you might need to make them in a few batches. Turn them in about 3 to 5 minutes, when they are golden brown on the underside. Saute for another 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown and remove them from the oil, [use tongs for this move], then to the pan with the paper towels to drain, while you cook the rest.

Fried green tomatoes can be eaten, alone, as an appetizer or with a garlic aioli or corn salsa. They are often served as a side dish with supper, or they can also be served on a bed of greens with goat cheese rounds on top, as part of a salad. How ever you like them remember to serve them hot.