Low-fat, low-cal crunchy cucumber salsa recipe

chopped-cucumbersWe are fortunate to have an abundance of local farmers markets in our area. Plus, our tomatoes and peppers are finally coming in and we’re enjoying homegrown produce at home. We didn’t grow any cucumbers this year, though, so I need to hit the farmers market for some! I ran across this on Facebook and tried to pin it on Pinterest, but it limits descriptions to 500 characters. Also, the poster on Facebook linked to some spammy weight loss products site, so I don’t want to point anything in that direction. My guess is she copied it from somewhere else, too.

So, I’m putting it here for myself and for you readers. This sounds delicious!

Crunchy Cucumber Salsa

Only 16 calories per 1/4 cup.

First Combine:

2 cups finely chopped, seeded peeled cucumber
1/2 cup finely chopped, seeded tomato
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
4-1/2 tsp minced fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed

 

Then combine:

1/4 c reduced-fat sour cream
1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
1-1/2 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp seasoned salt

In a bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients. In another bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour over cucumber mixture, toss gently to coat. Serve immediately with chips.

Easy peasy! Don’t be intimidated by cooking. It’s really not difficult to make healthy, delicious salsas. If you’re unsure of how to chop or mince ingredients, check out YouTube and search for how to chop vegetables. For instance, this series featuring Norman Weinstein is great!

Make sure your knives are sharp – that’s the biggie. A sharper knife is a safer knife, plus it will do its job better.

If you have a food processor, here’s some help on how to chop veggies in a food processor:

If you have some tips or techniques to share, post them in the comments below!

Makin’ bacon, the first BLT sandwiches of the season

There is nothing like the first BLT of the season made with homegrown tomatoes. Among the veggies in our garden this year, the Early Girl, Mr. Stripey, Cherokee Purple, Beefmaster and Roma tomatoes are the most welcome. Our spring and summer have been unseasonably cool, and tomatoes like hot days and warm nights. They do their magic during those warm nights. We’ve had an abundance of rain this season, though, so much that I’ve only watered our veggies and flowers a handful of times the whole season! This week, the tomatoes finally began to ripen.

Last night and today, BLT’s have been dinner, along with chunks of a particularly succulent and sweet seedless watermelon.The results were, well…Just take Emma’s word for it.

Picture of dog panting and drooling for BLT sandwich

Yeah, baby! It is time for fresh tomatoes plain or with Tzatziki Sauce (we get ours from GFS, Gordon Food Services), a splash of balsamic vinegar, light Italian dressing, or served up on sandwiches. Miracle Whip is our condiment of choice for the latter.

I cooked the bacon in the microwave the second time around, because it is less messy and the grease is absorbed as it cooks. Just layer a few paper towels on a plate, arrange slices of bacon side-by-side on the plate (no overlapping) and cover with another few sheets of paper towels. Cook on high for 4-6 minutes and let cool a bit. If your microwave doesn’t have a turntable, you will probably need to turn the plate part way through to make sure it cooks evenly.

There are also some great microwave bacon cooker kitchen gadgets if you want to save on paper towels and lessen the amount of bacon grease you consume. Nordic Ware makes one that’s both a bacon cooker and meat grill. There’s also The Original Makin’ Bacon Microwave Bacon Rack, which suspends the bacon during cooking, letting the grease drip down into a reservoir below. I’d like that one myself, since it lets you cook more pieces at a time, certainly more than I could using a plate and paper towels.

What’s your favorite thing to do with an abundance of fresh garden produce, especially tomatoes? We are going to have a BUNCH of Roma tomatoes coming ripe at once and I want to use them up. I don’t know if I want to bother with canning, but I might try it. It would be good to make some tomato sauces for later. Hmmmmmm. At least it’s been a cooler summer so canning wouldn’t be so doggoned hot. I thought about setting up a hotplate out under our gazebo and putting my big Ball 21-quart waterbath canner out there so it won’t heat up the house.

Zojirushi bread machine bonanza, plus DAK Turbo Baker II owner’s manual

I had another bit of great luck about a month ago. At a veteran’s group garage sale, I found a Zojirushi BBCC-N15 breadmaker for $10. Zojirushi products are awesome and their bread machines are Cadillacs of the appliances. Even an older model like this was something I’d never turn down for that price. Even if it hadn’t powered on, I could have parted it out and still turned a great profit. However, it DID power on and it bakes a mean loaf of bread.

Some day, I’d love to get the double-paddled Zojirushi BB-CEC20WB Home Bakery Supreme, but I like my latest find a lot…And I only paid $10. 🙂

On the subject of bread machines, I’ve had several people ask if I have the manual for the DAK Turbo Baker II (FAB-200) bread machine I wrote about a while back. It so happened I had the printout, but couldn’t find my original file. However, I did a little sleuthing (gotta love the Goog) and hunted it down so I could offer it for my readers here.

DAK Turbo Baker II FAB-200-User’s Manual

Let me know if you have any questions!

Oh, the difference a hyphen can make

I received recipe newsletter from the Just A Pinch yesterday, the subject of which said Man Catching Fried Chicken. The recipe’s here.

Man Catching Fried Chicken Recipe

What the recipe was called: Man Catching Fried Chicken

When I read the subject line, I knew what the recipe’s submitter was trying to say when she titled it. This is a place where one tiny hyphen would have made a difference in the literal interpretation of the phrase. This is what immediately popped into my mind:

Doodle of man catching a bucket of KFC fried chicken.

What I saw in my mind: Man catching fried chicken.

Actually, my mental image was better, but I don’t have the drawing skills to reproduce what’s in my mind’s eye!

When two or more words modify the noun that come after them, there should be a hyphen in between them (see Compound Modifiers).

Man-catching fried chicken implies, “This fried chicken is so good, it’s sure to catch you a man”. However, without that hyphen, the phrase means this: (The) man (is) catching fried chicken. The words in parentheses are assumed.

The DAK Turbo Bake II, AKA R2-D2

DAK Turbo Bake II and Oster 5838 breadmakers

Right now, my DAK Turbo Baker II, which I affectionately dubbed R2-D2 for obvious reasons, and my Oster 5838 are filling the house with a wonderful aroma.

DAK Turbo Bake II and Oster 5838 breadmakers

DAK Turbo Bake II and Oster 5838 breadmakers

That DAK breadmaker was a GREAT thrift store find. I love this thing!

It’s different than other breadmakers. First, you put the ingredients in the opposite order from most bread machines: dry ingredients first, then liquids on top. It has temperature sensor in the post on which the paddle sits’ the sensor gauges the dough ball or loaf’s internal temperatures and adjusts the baking cycle accordingly. It has a turbo bake setting that uses heat to expedite the rising process. It is a convection element to it as well, with a fan coming on periodically during its cycle. And, it has a cool-down at the end that keeps the bread from getting overcooked and/or soggy if you don’t remove it from the pan right away.

Though it doesn’t have a dedicated wheat bread cycle, I make 100% whole wheat recipes in it frequently and they turn out just fine. That might be owing to the above-mentioned smart technology.

It’s a shame the DAK company went defunct, because this machine really is a wonder, works great. There are many other fans out there, and plenty of videos on YouTube.

Here’s a DAK Turbo Baker IV model, making a heavy, low-carb bread. That gives any machine a workout, and this owner is happy with his DAK.

Here’s someone’s video of the same model I have:

I do have the manual for this machine, and as soon as I have a little time, I’ll upload it to my website. I know there’s a lot of people looking for it, along with a thriving parts market. As far as recipes go, just about any bread machine recipes will work in it. I just reverse the usual order of ingredients so the liquids are added last.

I need to make some videos, too. Right now, though, my walnut-wheat bread’s ready and I need to take it out of the pan! 🙂

Yogurt cookies recipe fail

United we stand – Divided we fall.

Any American knows this saying. However, tonight division would have been my friend, had I heeded the word. My cookies fell (or failed) because I didn’t divide. Yes, that little word “divided” is very important in recipes. It means to reserve a portion of the full measure set aside for another purpose.

I made this yogurt cookie recipe tonight and missed that little word when it came to the nutmeg. Instead of putting 1 teaspoon in the cookie batter, I put 2 in.

I’ve been on a quest to find the yogurt cookie recipe my grandma made. Grandpa threw out many of her recipes in the years following her death, so that recipe was lost to us. I thought I might have found it with this one. I still wouldn’t know, though, because these turned out, shall we say, less than appetizing. Nasty, unless you’re a real nutmeg fiend.

There’s plenty of dough left over, too, because I made a double batch in anticipation of a get-together tomorrow. I stopped after making a few dozen of the things and the remainder of the dough’s headed for the garbage. It was a double disappointment since I still don’t know whether these will approach grandma’s recipe. Another time!

Here’s the recipe, only I modified it so no one else will miss the divided part!

YOGURT SUGAR COOKIES

Ingredients:
– 1/2 cup butter ( softened)
– 2 cup sugar
– 3 eggs, beaten
– 1/2 cup plain yogurt*
– 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg, >divided
– 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 3 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 tablespoon sugar

Directions:
Cream butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, yogurt, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, vanilla, salt, flour, and soda. Beat until smooth. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet.

Combine 1 teaspoon nutmeg and 1 tablespoon sugar; sprinkle over each cookie. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Cookies will look soft. Remove from cookie sheet immediately. Makes 8 dozen.

SOURCE: Southern Living Magazine, May 1974.

*I used Sonyfield Farm Plain Whole Milk Yogurt. I read you can make this recipe using fruit yogurt as long as it is a smooth yogurt like lemon with no chunks of fruit in it. I’ll likely use fat-free yogurt next time, though with so much sugar and butter, I don’t see what shaving a little fat off for the yogurt would benefit us! I will not use sugar-free if I try a flavored one, though.

Crock-Pot Create-A-Crock great idea, but missed an opportunity

I recently saw Crock-Pot’s latest product offering via their Facebook page. The Create-A-Crock is a great idea! Customers can now choose from nine different stock designs, then upload four of their own pictures.

You have to click the green “Create Mine Now” button on the page to get to the design app. The app is a little clunky, but fairly intuitive. I experimented with it tonight, uploading some retro kitchen advertisements for fun.

Crock Pot Create-A-Crock design

It’s great fun to be able to customize an appliance. I participated in a market research focus group several years ago where participants were asked if they would pay extra to have the ability to somewhat personalize their major appliances with custom inserts and knobs. I’ve not seen it happen, unless I’ve missed it. Still, people are all about personalization now. Skins are in, for everything from cell phones to iPods to laptops and tablets.

But back to the app. Once a user’s designed her dream Crock-Pot and clicks to add it to her cart, a message comes up warning the user, “This is the final time you will be able to view your customized Create-A-Crock™ Slow Cooker.”

When I saw this, I realized the flaw in the campaign.

Kudos to Crock-Pot for putting this idea out there. However, they missed a huge opportunity when they didn’t also provide a means for users to share their designs with others. I’m not talking about sharing as in buying a Crock-Pot to give as a gift, though that is the company’s goal. I’m talking about letting users share pictures of their creations with friends and family via social networks, mobile MMS, and e-mail. Users might have created profiles in order to save their designs, providing Crock-Pot with fresh prospective customers’ information for their database.

Viral marketing involving personalization pops up everywhere (think OfficeMax and ElfYourself) and yet it’s nowhere to be found with this product. It’s a shame, because I think it could have driven a lot of traffic to their site. People like to play with apps like that. The longer a user stays on your site, the more they buy in to what you’re selling. These users might have created their own designs or, if allowed, ordered duplicates of their friends’ creations.