Category Archives: Recipes

Savory Cream of Mushroom Soup

After a fabulous buffet one night at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando (where Alan’s conference was held), Alan and I both agreed that our very favorite dish had been the creamy mushroom soup. “Shocking!” I thought to myself. How could something so simple be so delectable?  Well, after talking to the waiter, doing a little online research, and experimenting a bit, I’ve come up with a recipe that Alan and I think is at least a worthy competitor. Here it is:

Savory Cream of Mushroom Soup
(serves 2-4)

2 T. (Tablespoon) butter (Melt in an iron skillet.)
1 chopped onion (Choose your size depending on your love of onions.)
1 T. fresh garlic (or dried; saute with onions until starting to caramelize.)12 oz. sliced mushrooms (any type you prefer; saute until starting to brown.)
3 cups water
1 T. chicken bouillon powder
1 T. rosemary (fresh or crushed)
1/4 teaspoon basil
Pepper to taste
1 bay leaf  (Add all ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes.)3 T. flour (easiest if whisked together with cream first; I failed!)
1 cup light cream (Heat entire mixture until it’s simmering but not boiling.)                             Serve immediately, while it’s still piping hot.

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred.” (Proverbs 15:17, NKJV)

Lenten Special: Ahi Tuna with Super Simple Aioli Sauce

I first experienced how delicious Ahi tuna is while visiting my son Michael’s family in Hawaii. Hawaiians make what must be the world’s best Ahi tuna sandwiches, bursting with flavor and smothered with grilled onions, lettuce, and an amazing sauce, which they called “aioli.” I was determined to learn how to imitate this succulent dish after we returned to the mainland.However, I was disappointed to discover how expensive Ahi tuna can be here in the middle of America far from ocean shores. At  our downtown “World Market,” it costs $20 per pound. 😦  To my delight, I’ve now found a source for fresh-caught Ahi from Vietnam at my favorite store: Meijer, and I can get it on sale for $6 a pound, which isn’t bad if you consider that 4 oz. can make a reasonable serving.  I guess technically aioli sauce is defined by garlic and mayonnaise, but at our house we’ve improvised with a recipe that my son Stephen developed.  First, just a word on cooking the fish. Ahi tuna is a very meaty fish and tastes great seared on your grill just like a beef steak. In the winter, try searing it in a hot pan for 2-3 minutes on each side with some sauteed garlic, salt, and pepper. If you overcook it, the steak becomes tough, so stop while it’s pink inside.If you really want to “go healthy,” Ahi can be served over a salad, although I prefer topping it with aioli sauce to bring out the flavor and add moisture.

Simple but Scrumptious Aioli Sauce (serves 2-4)

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
(In honor of my research, you might want to add some garlic powder or fresh minced garlic. Experiment. I prefer grilling garlic cloves with the fish.)
      Stir everything together until it’s smooth. It takes just a minute to make!Use it to top your tuna, add a few fresh fruits and veggie sides, and you’ve got a Friday night Lenten Special dinner that’s very healthy and full of flavor. (Or, of course, you can always go out for a fish fry!  🙂 )

And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me,
and I will make you to become fishers of men
” (Mark 1:17).

Saturday Recipe for Lent: How to Satisfy Your Hunger Cravings

mushrooms-onions-and-peppersUsually on Saturday I’ve been sharing recipes for food, but today I thought I’d rather share a recipe for satisfying hunger generally, which came to me from reflecting on a recent message referred to as “A Theology of Food.” sauteeing-veggiesThat sounded like a crazy title to me, but by the end of the message, I understood what our pastor meant. “Pastor Jim” is working his way through the book of Romans, and we’re on Romans 14 now, where the Apostle Paul discusses eating. basket-of-fruitIt had never occurred to me that man’s first prohibition concerned food, and that both Adam’s and Christ’s first temptations had to do with food. cauliflower-fresh-headAlthough Jesus taught in Matthew 15 that it’s not what goes into our mouth but out of our mouth that can defile us, still, eating food can be sinful if it’s done to please ourselves without respect to what God wants for us. chopping-up-cauliflowerGod intended food to be a blessing and to enable us to enjoy fellowship with one another and with Him, but we can make food into an idol when we allow eating to become an end in itself and use it for personal pleasure rather than for health and fellowship. spinach-salad-with-strawberries-and-pecansI am not making the ascetic suggestion that we shouldn’t enjoy food, or that we should only eat as little as necessary to survive, or that we should never enjoy the abundant array of foods that are available to us, but (as our pastor reminded us), overeating as a form of therapy or as a fattening reward we don’t need is just plain wrong. All too often (and I’m totally guilty of this), we eat because we’re bored or lonely or tired, or feel overworked or underappreciated, or because our friends are eating…the list goes on. steamed-cauliflowerWe train our brain to get an immediately gratifying buzz from the pleasurable sensations of hot chocolate or popcorn (or whatever), and we feel a little perk from the sugar or fat, with the net effect of feeling better in the moment but fatter in the morning…which is no different from any other addictive process! frying-steak-and-veggiesWhat we really need to do is train our brain to acknowledge need when we sense it, but to take that need straight to God, asking him to fill it with Himself or show us what He wants us to do to fill it. apple-pearInvite Him into the conversation: Why do I feel this way? What is it that I really need? What should I do? apple-pear-slicedI think if we all employed that strategy, and really listened for the still, small voice within our heart (God’s Holy Spirit), we’d quickly learn to let God fill us with just what we need…and probably most of the time (unless it’s actually meal time), it would not be more food!

steak-dinner-with-vegetables-and-fruits-2I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10).

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

 

Spaghetti from Squash? It’s Not Bad…and Really—It Tastes Just Fine!

bowl-of-spaghetti-squashDid you know that one cup of cooked spaghetti has 220 calories? How would you like to have a cup of spaghetti with only 42 calories instead? Ever try spaghetti squash as a replacement for the traditional types of pasta? Most pastas are made from semolina (which is wheat product—”wheat middlings of durum wheat”) or farina (made from milled wheat). spaghetti-squash I’ve served spaghetti squash for a long time but never really gotten up my courage to try it as a replacement for pasta until recently. Spaghetti made from squash has less protein than those made from wheat, but if weight loss (or control) is more in your view than adequate protein, then consider at least giving this tasty alternative a try! spaghetti-squash-prepared-to-roastTo cook the squash, split it in half, take out the inner seeds and pulp, and roast it (covered) in the oven for a couple of hours with one inch of water in the bottom to keep it  moist.  (Some people cook it cut-side down for more moisture.)strands-of-baked-spaghetti-squashLet it rest in the oven (still covered) with the heat turned off until time to serve. preparing-spaghetti-squash-after-bakingMake your favorite spaghetti sauce and whatever sides you want, and just before you serve everything up, carefully scoop out the strands of spaghetti into a bowl, top with a little butter and Parmesan cheese, and serve with salt and pepper shakers available. spaghetti-squash-dinnerAlan loves spaghetti, so I was afraid he’d hate it, but he said it tasted fine. Actually, covered with enough sauce, I almost preferred it, because I don’t normally like the noodles without lots of sauce, and this way, every bite seemed rich, savory, and “healthy.” If you try it, let me know what you think!

Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.  Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants.  So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days.  And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king’s meat. Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.” (Daniel 12:12-16)

P.S.—Someone asked if I am vegetarian or vegan. I am not, but I eat too much protein and too few vegetables, so I’ve been experimenting with ways to add more fruits and vegetables to my diet. Being overweight is a personal problem and is becoming one of the biggest health problems in our world, both in developed and developing countries at this point. Many of us would profit from eating less and sharing more with those who are undernourished. purple-clover-on-losing-weight

Chocolate-on-the-Face Mousse…Guaranteed to Please

chocolate-on-the-faceWhen our kids were little, we had a secret password. Whenever someone knocked on our bedroom door, Alan would call out, “What’s the password?” If the child answered, “Chocolate on the face,” Alan would tell them they could come in, on the theory that any kid with chocolate on his (or her) face probably belonged to us.enjoying-chocolate-mousse                     Now we’re on to our next generation of chocolate lovers! baby-eating-chocolate-mousseI know I should be passing along healthy recipes for  things that are super nutritious, but given that last Tuesday was Valentine’s Day and today is Alan and my 44th anniversary, I thought it might not be too off side to share my favorite recipe for chocolate mousse, which is actually fairly healthy as far as desserts go, not to mention so elegant that people think it’s difficult to make (although it’s not, at least not the way I do it), and so delicious that kids will definitely end up with chocolate on their faces!

creamy-chocolate-mousseChocolate-on-the-Face Mousse

Boil 1/4 cup white sugar in 1/2 cup water until sugar has dissolved into syrup

Add 18 oz. chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate, but dark works well too),
1 stick of butter
, and a pinch of salt. Heat and stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

Beat 4 eggs (yes, I use the whites and the yolks) with an electric mixer until frothy, then add  1 cup heavy whipping cream and whip until soft peaks form.

Slowly add the hot chocolate syrup in a small stream to the whipped mixture, continuing to whip everything together until it’s of one gloriously frothy, consistent texture. Immediately spoon into individual serving dishes and chill thoroughly. You can garnish with more whipping cream and shaved chocolate or fruit, but it’s pretty yummy just by itself! Also, this can be divided into 6-8 servings, depending on how much room you think people will have for dessert.

Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.
(Psalm 145:16, speaking of God)

World’s Best (Only) Cheeseburger Meatloaf: And, You Can Eat It with One Hand Tied Behind Your Back!

kathi-and-alan-eating-cheeseburgers-in-paradise-lahaina-maui-hawaiiI love eating juicy cheeseburgers with all the trimmings, don’t you?  cheeseburger-in-paradise-lahaina-mauiHowever, sometimes they’re too big to eat, even with both hands.  tray-of-cheeseburgers-at-cheeseburger-in-paradise-lahaina-maui-hawaiiSometimes they’re even hard to carry, like this platter of specialty burgers…waiter-with-triple-cheeseburger-in-paradis-mauior this triple-decker monster they serve at Cheeseburger in Paradise on Maui. I’m certain I’d be sick if I ate their 1.5-pound glutton-stuffer, wouldn’t you?  huge-hamburger-africaOr, how about this amazing burger Alan and I ate (shared) in South Africa?

cheeseburger-in-paradise-bar-and-grill-lahaina-mauiAnyway, much as Alan and I love burgers, I’m always in pursuit of fewer calories per dining pleasure, and an extra 200+ calories for a big deli-style onion bun is something I’m willing to forego when we’re at home. Still, how do you eat a cheeseburger with all the good stuff and no bun? It was in that mindset that I developed my personalized recipe for one of the best meatloaves you’ll ever eat!

Your Favorite Cheeseburger Meatloaf:
(serves 4)

hamburger-and-egg1 pound ground burger
1 egg
1 cup bread crumbs (which you can leave out if you don’t mind the meatloaf crumbling a bit when you serve it; I leave them out, because I don’t mind). cheesburger-meatloaf-adding-veggiesNext, add everything you love to put on top of your burger (except lettuce)…like:
Pickles, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, tomato, pineapple…get creative, it’s your meatloaf!cheesburger-meatloaf-adding-condimentsAdd all your favorite condiments…no need to go easy, because they won’t be dripping down your arms! Relish, mustard, ketchup…?mayonnaise? etc?cheeseburger-meatloaf-adding-cheese-and-spicesMix thoroughly and then add a generous amount of salt, pepper, and your favorite seasonings. Top with your favorite cheese (or else whatever cheese you have around the house).cheeseburger-meatloaf-extra-ketchupMound into a pan and add more ketchup (if you like ketchup as much as we do),cheesburger-meatloaf-adding-cheese-on-topthen cap with an ample supply of cheese (if you like cheese as much as we do). cheesburger-meatloaf-after-bakingPop it in the oven for an hour at 350° (done when golden brown on top). Enjoy!

cheeseburger-meatloaf-1Actually, if you don’t have an hour to bake it as a meatloaf,
you can do the same thing in your frying pan cheeseburger-meatloaf-3and have it cooked in no longer than it would take
to grill the veggies and burgers.
You get all the flavor and save enough calories for dessert! (Did I say that??)

cheesburger-meatloaf-served-with-sidesFurthermore, you can eat it with just a fork and one hand tied behind your back. See?  What’d I tell you? No more embarrassing dates where you end up with ketchup on your nose and mustard juice running down your arm staining your new outfit! (Of course, you might still have an issue with the corn on the cob…)

I will praise the name of God with a song,
and will magnify him with thanksgiving
” (Psalm 69:30).

An Avocado Boat of Ideas, Especially Fantastic Guacamole with an Orange Twist

avocadosAvocados (also known as “alligator pears” because of their rough, green skin and elongated shape) have won their way up from southern Mexico to America, where their consumption rate has more than tripled in the last 15 years! salad-pine-nuts-guacamoleAlthough technically a fruit (and they are used in fruit smoothies and as flavored milkshakes in some countries), their most common use in America and Mexico is in guacamole, used as a dip with tortilla chips or as a flavorful topping on various dishes. Because of their high fat content, avocados are sometimes used as a meat replacement in vegetarian dishes, although they are not high in protein. (They are high in fiber, however: Half an avocado is about 130 calories and will provide 20% of your daily fiber need.) tossed-salad-with-avocadoAvocados are also used as a garnish, eaten plain as a healthy snack (way better for you than a doughnut!), and are a common additive in vegetable salads, where they are especially useful in providing necessary oil for proper vitamin absorption. If you’re not familiar with avocados, please try them! fruit-bowlChoose firm, green ones with no dents or dark spots but are the least bit giving if you touch them. Keep them on the counter until they are slightly soft (not dark), and then use them immediately or store them in the refrigerator (Ideally, no more than a week). avocado-pit-being-removedTo use, cut lengthwise, and then take the pit out by stabbing with a knife and twisting gently. The California Avocado Commission recommends the “nick and peel” method of slicing the avocado into length-wise, quarter-inch slices and peeling like a banana. avoocado-sliced-in-halfI prefer to use a spoon and scrape off the entire inside lining, which is richest in carotenoid antioxidants. (However, this doesn’t produce the best looking bites, so if you want fresh slices, use the CAC’s method). discoloration-of-avocado-exposed-to-airAvocado does discolor quickly when exposed to air, so either serve it immediately after cutting or protect it with a little citrus juice and plastic wrap. (The first time this happened to me, I thought I must have cut my finger…)avocado-boat-with-ahi-tunaOne clever, simple entrée is to fill half an avocado with shredded meat (chicken breast, tuna, etc.). ahi-tuna-and-avocado-boatI also enjoy them as a simple side dish, known as an avocado boat (best by far with salt and lime juice). Just for the record (studies funded by avocado growers, of course), it’s been found that people who eat avocados tend to be healthier and have less heart disease. (I sometimes wonder if such studies are confounded by the economic status/social class of those studied, as avocados aren’t exactly cheap. [I always wait and buy them on sale.])

At any rate, I want to pass along my all-time favorite recipe for guacamole. Alan and I first fell in love with guacamole when it was made table-side at a little Mexican restaurant along San Antonio’s River Walk, and then we fell in love again in San Diego’s Gaslamp District last year. However, once when we were out of limes, my son Joel altered my recipe (gathered from watching these “bests” being made), and I think his is actually better than the best!

Fantastic Guacamole with an Orange Twist

guacamole-01-17-171 entire orange, peeled and cubed (this is the difference; everybody else uses fresh, squeezed lime juice, which ends up with a thicker guacamole but doesn’t taste as amazing) garlic-cloves1 cup cherry tomatoes cubed
2 garlic cloves peeled and pressed (worth the bother, so don’t substitute garlic powder unless you can’t afford fresh, although you can substitute both garlic and onion powder as needed)
guacamole-with-orange-garlilc-onion-and-tomato1 onion finely chopped
2 avocados peeled and well mashed
Salt (preferably coarse-ground seasalt) and pepper to taste (start light and add)avocado-into-guacamoleThe result is so flavorful that I could eat a bowl for lunch (and have been known to do so). However you serve them, though, I hope you enjoy avocados!

 “Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.” (Daniel 1:11-16) (I’m not a vegetarian, but I do believe in the high value of a largely vegetable and fruit diet with less meat, diary, and grain products.)

P.S.—Although I sometimes add avocado to omelets (just enough to heat through at the end), I’ve read that cooking avocados not only destroys the vitamins but can actually be toxic for some people. Also, guacamole can be frozen, but slices don’t freeze well, so enjoy them fresh!

P.S.S.—Got a favorite way of using avocados? Please share with us!