Fresh Pineapple Gives Your Health a Boost

Manoj.TV This plant is extremely tall.Image via Wikipedia

Pineapples grow in warm climates and are native to South America. In their natural form, they have rough, prickly exteriors.  Early tribal natives called this “anan” or “excellent fruit”. Later it was called “pineapple” for its resemblance to a pine cone. It is known for its intense sweetness. juiciness, and excellent flavor.

Historians tell us Christopher Columbus discovered pineapple on one of his journeys to new lands and brought it back to Europe. Here the people were largely without any common sweet foods. Most of the sweets came from fruits grown, but each had a limited growing season. Sugar refined from cane was imported from the Middle East and the Orient but this, too, was very expensive.

Later pineapple was introduced to the New World. It was still very rare and high priced. Only the upper class could afford to have this adorn their tables. The whole pineapple was as exquisite as was the inside ripe, yellow, juicy pulp.

Now we continue to prize this fruit for its excellent flavor and nutritional value, largely vitamin C and potassium. Many grocery stores have the pineapples cut up, although this can be done at home by an adult. The outside is very hard and rough but the flavor on the inside is well worth the trouble of cutting and slicing.

The pineapple can be cut into wedges or chunks. Then insert a toothpick into each. Now you are ready for an instant treat in the manner of the early nobility.

To your good health,

Chef Crombie

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Cooking at Home – The New Survival Tactic

Image via Wikipedia

Aren’t you glad you know your way around the kitchen and can prepare good food for yourself and others?  Hopefully the recipes in this blog have helped you come up with some tasty dishes to set before the king (I mean, friends or family).

The media tells us we are in a new era of thrift. There is a suggestion we may not be able to eat out as often as we would like. Perhaps the days are gone when everyone can go out for pizza or hamburger after a game.

This is not all bad. Think of the money you are saving. You can still invite your friends over for snacks. These late winter days continue to call for some popcorn popping time or quick and easy snacks like the following:

Bagel Pizzas

2 bagel halves
About 4 tablespoons or more
of tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 cup grated cheese
Toppings of your choice

Place bagel halves on a cookie sheet with cut side up. Spread with tomato sauce and oregano. Sprinkle grated cheese on top. Add any toppings such as pepperoni, cooked hamburger or sausage, olives, extra cheese, or what is available. You or an adult helper can put the pan in a hot oven (375 degrees) until cheese melts.

Should be yummy, especially eating with your friends or family.

Here’s to your happy “cooking at home” days,

Chef Crombie

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Making Cupcakes Using Your Baking Skills


OK, let’s practice some of your good baking skills by making something sweet today. These cupcakes are so light and fluffy you can see why they are called Fairy cakes in Britain! Cupcakes are great for taking to a friend’s house for tea, taking to your class bake sale, making for birthday parties or just baking for fun on the weekend.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can easily mix it all up in the food processor, so it is really quick to make. So it’s perfect for those times when you remember a school bake sale only just before bedtime the day before.

You can have fun with the frosting on these too. If there is some food coloring in the pantry, try experimenting with colors … you’ll find you don’t need very many drops of red color to get bright Barbie pink. Make one bowl of white frosting and one of pink and get creative with two tone patterns. If you don’t have any food coloring in the house you can add a tablespoon of cocoa to the powdered sugar to make chocolate frosting.

Light and Fluffy Cupcake Recipe

1 cup cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
½ cup / one stick soft butter
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Collect together these things: the food processor, 12 cup muffin tray, paper muffin cases, measuring cups.

Put all the ingredients except the milk into the food processor and blitz it.

Add 2 tablespoon of the milk and blitz again. It should be smooth and drop easily off a spoon when you tip it. If it is still too thick, add the last spoon of milk.

Put a paper muffin case in each cup of the muffin tin.

Use a dessert spoon to dollop the mixture into each of the cases.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes. Check after 15 minutes – they should be a light golden brown when cooked and if you gently touch the top of one it should be springy and not leave a dent in it.

Cool them on a rack.

When they are cool it is time to play with the frosting. The simplest frosting is just powdered sugar mixed with a little water. For this amount of cakes use 2 cups of powdered sugar and add 1 tablespoon of water at a time – you’ll be surprised how little water you need to make it into a thick but smooth paste. Add coloring a few drops at a time and mix well to see what color you’ve got to.

Put about one teaspoon of icing onto each cupcake, let it drizzle down the sides and then add sprinkles or make letters with silver balls.

If your Mom has a piping bag for frosting, ask her to let you experiment with it on your cupcakes. With the smallest nozzle fitted you can try drawing simple shapes and patterns with a contrasting color frosting, for totally cool personalized cupcakes!

Apple Expert Shares Favorite Recipe

I’ve invited my good friend, Lee Jackson, to share one of her favorite apple recipes with you. Lots of apples are now available at orchards and stores, so this recipe will help you know what to do with all those apples.

The recipe is from her newly revised apple cookbook, From the Apple Orchard – Recipes for Apple Lovers, which just won a first place cookbook award from Midwest Independent Publishers Association. Bookmark this recipe and serve it for Thanksgiving or any special time. You can see this recipe and many, many more at www.ImagesUnlimitedPub.com

Glazed Dutch Apple Cake

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups apples, unpeeled, but diced
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup nuts, chopped

1 cups apple juice

In mixing bowl, place diced apples and sugar. Let stand for 15 minutes for the apples to become moist. Then stir in eggs, oil, dry ingredients and vanilla. Blend in nuts. Pour into greased and floured angel food cake pan or Bundt pan.

Bake at 350 degree F. for 50-60 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for 15 minutes, then invert on serving plate. Prick cake with toothpick and pour Hot Glaze over cake. Serve warm or cold.

Hot Glaze: Boil 2 cups apple juice over medium heat until it is reduced to 1 cup. Have an adult pour while hot glaze over cake.

This will make about 24 servings, good for a large holiday gathering.

Lemonade Time

I hope you all had a good and safe 4th of July! My ears are still ringing from all the fireworks but we saw some really spectacular displays.

Typically, the weather is very hot for this holiday – and still is in the 90’s in our part of the country. Especially with this heat, it’s important to drink lots of water. Having some cool drinks on hand is also a nice treat.

Today I want to feature a sugar-less lemonade. I can see that you are getting all puckered up because you think it will really be sour. It does have a nice tang to it and gets you awake. Think of it as a sour candy.

Here is the recipe, from Amy Houts’ cookbook, “Cooking Around the Calendar with Kids: Holiday and Seasonal Food and Fun”. You can read more about this cookbook and others at www.FoodForKids.com

Sugar-Free Lemonade

3 cups water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup white grape juice

Measure and combine juices in a pitcher. Stir. Serve over ice. This is a refreshing alternative to sugary lemonade.

For a different twist, add:

raspberry juice and float some fresh raspberries.

peach or apricot nectar and float peach or apricot slices.

Sit under a tree, feel the warm breezes, and enjoy.

Food and An Evening in Tuscany

The invitation read: “You’re Invited to an Evening in Tuscany.” No, I did not go to Italy for dinner but enjoyed a glorious evening in the U.S.A. celebrating food from that country.  I believe it was the best Italian food this side of  the Mediterranean.

Tuscany is one of twenty regions in Italy. It is located north of Rome and south of Genoa. It has mountains to the north and east and is bordered by the Tyrrhenian Sea on the west.  Florence and Pisa are two of its major cities.

What kind of food comes to mind when you think of Italian dishes? Yes, we had pasta and more.

I want to give you just a small sampling of our menu:

Tray of assorted antipasti
Shrimp a la aglio

Sonoma Salad with Coriander
Rosemary Focaccia
Tuscan cod and mussels in light vegetable broth
Mediterranean stuffed chicken
Lemon Orzo
Zucchini with sweet peppers and Feta
Roasted asparagus parmesan
Puttanesca sauce with fresh pasta and cheese
Frozen fruit sorbet with biscotti

Enjoying wonderful food with good friends is a special treat to be cherished.

Perhaps the chefs will give me one of their recipes and then I will be happy to share this with you. In the meantime, think of coming into  a house filled with the smells of bread baking and sauces simmering on the stove. Then sitting down to a meal that has been cooked a long time. You are not hurrying through your meal but leisurely enjoying the food and the people around you. To me, that is really a happy meal.

Kids’ Party Ideas

An Easter Birthday
Image by Brian Finifter via Flickr

A lot of parents pay a fortune to have their children’s birthday parties hosted somewhere and hire entertainment. That’s why I was glad to see Kid Party Ideas for activities and projects for entertaining kids’ parties at home.

This is a games and craft resource for all age groups…toddlers to teens. It covers a broad range of both party themes and children’s crafts. There are craft ideas of any children’s party – Christmas, Halloween, Easter, birthdays, summer fun, and any party you want.

Clever party themes are easy to come up with but then, what are you going to do to keep the party entertaining and fun? You want your party to be memorable. This book helps kids and families plan together how to entertain their friends using easy to find, and inexpensive supplies.

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