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Archive for September 23, 2015

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Schmacon Beef Bacon

The producer calls Schmacon “beef’s answer to bacon.”

It looks like bacon and smells bacon; it cooks like bacon–preferably in the oven for maximum crispness, although it can be cooked in a frying pan.

The result, crisp strips of Schmacon, tastes of beef instead of pork, but with the smoky, sweet spirit of bacon.

  • A serving of Schmacon contains 30 calories, 2 g fat, and 60 mg sodium.
  • A serving of pork bacon averages 60-90 calories, 4.5-7 g fat, and 190-360 mg sodium.
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    Meatier, lower in sodium, calories and fat, Schmacon is a much healthier alternative, and you get more meat and less fat. More benefits:

  • Schmacon cooks in half the time of raw pork bacon.
  • It generates much less grease; and, as with bacon grease, you can use it to cook potatoes and eggs, make German potato salad, etc.
  • For everyone without a great kitchen exhaust fan: There’s no lingering smell of old bacon fat in the air.
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    Crisp, delicious Schmacon. Use it wherever you’d use bacon. Photo courtesy Schqmacon.

     
    We think it’s terrific, and so does the trade: The National Restaurant Association gave Schmacon its Food and Beverage Innovations Award.
     

    THREE YEARS IN DEVELOPMENT

    This is not the first beef bacon on the market, but but it’s head and shoulders above the rest. Most other beef bacon is manufactured with the same technique as pork bacon, but that made no sense to CEO Howard Bender. He started from scratch, testing different cuts of beef, spice blends and cooking processes until, three years later, he was satisfied.

    The result, Schmacon Smoked & Glazed Beef Slices, is an achievement, a delicious alternative for those who do not eat pork products, and a boon to those who’d like “healthier bacon.”

    Why isn’t it called bacon? Today, the USDA limits the use of “bacon” to pork. “Turkey bacon” got grandfathered in.

     

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    TOP: Schmacon and eggs. BOTTOM: Look for
    this package at your grocer’s. Photos courtesy Schmacon.

     

    WAYS TO USE SCHMACON

    Use it anywhere you’d use pork or turkey bacon, including to make:

  • Bacon cheeseburgers and hot dogs
  • Bacon quiche
  • Bean and lentil dishes
  • BLTs
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Chowder
  • Eggs, pancakes, waffles
  • Green salad, wedge salad with blue cheese dressing
  • Hot bacon vinaigrette
  • “Larded” filet mignon and turkey breast
  • Surf and turf: bacon-crusted salmon fillets (recipe)
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    WHERE TO GET SCHMACON

    Over the last year, Schmacon has rolled out to restaurants and foodservice. It is now rolling out to retailer stores.

    Look for a retailer near you. If you can’t find one, you can purchase a ten-pound package from the manufacturer. Extra Schmacon can be frozen; but we bet you’ll run through the bulk package pretty quickly.
     
    Discover more at Schmacon.com.

     

      

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    RECIPE: Carrot Pasta

    While we’re enjoying the warmth of Indian Summer, Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog suggests these raw, vegetable-based noodles made from carrots.

    Inspired by classic cold sesame noodles, delicate strands of carrots and cucumbers mingle together in crisp tangles of “pasta,” as vibrant as they are flavorful.

    Instead of peanut sauce based on peanut butter, Hannah substitutes cashew butter for a different take on the nutty, lightly spiced sauce.

    “Deceptively simple in composition,” says Hannah, “it doesn’t sound like anything particularly special on paper, but one taste and you’ll be hooked on the creamy cashew elixir. Lavish it over everything from salads to grilled tofu and beyond. Although you may end up with more than you need for this particular dish, trust me: It won’t be a struggle to polish off the excess in short order.”

    Note that this recipe comes together very quickly but needs to be eaten as soon as it’s made. The recipe makes 2-3 main dish servings or 4-5 side servings.

       

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    Cut the carbs and add the protein: carrot “pasta” in cashew sauce. Photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky.

     

    RECIPE: CARROT CASHEW NOODLES

    Ingredients For The Cashew Sauce

  • 6 tablespoons smooth cashew butter
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons light agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, finely minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon sriracha (or other hot sauce)
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    For The Carrot Pasta

  • 5 Large carrots, peeled and shredded with a julienne peeler or spiral grater
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled and shredded with a julienne peeler or spiral grater
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup toasted cashews, roughly chopped
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    spiral grater

    A spiral grater, also called a spiralizer. Photo
    courtesy Microplane.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the sauce. This can be done up to 2 weeks in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container. Place the cashew butter in a medium bowl and slowly add the vegetable broth, stirring constantly to loosen and smooth out the thick paste. Add the remaining ingredients, whisk thoroughly until homogeneous and set aside.

    2. MAKE the carrot and cucumber “noodles.” Toss them together with half of the sauce; for easier mixing, use your hands. Add more sauce as needed, toss in the scallions and move to a serving plate.

    3. TOP with chopped cashews and serve.

     

      

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    FOOD FUN: Pot Pies & A Chicken Pot Pie Baked Potato

    September 23rd is National Great American Pot Pie Day, celebrating a favorite American comfort food. Pot pie (also spelled potpie) is a misappropriated name. Originally, “pot pie” referred to a crustless mixture of meat pie ingredients and noodles, stewed in a pot on the stove top.

    Over time, the term became used to designate a meat pie with conventional crusts, baked in the oven in a deep pie plate or casserole dish.

    POT PIE HISTORY

    Meat pies likely date back to the milling of flour in ancient times, but before the invention of pie plates, which came many centuries later. Very thick crusts were used as baking vessels (but were not eaten, due to the high proportion of salt required to stiffen the crust). Meat pies in large vessels made of crust were popular banquet fare during the Roman Empire, as anyone who has seen Fellini Satyricon can attest.

    By the 16th century, the English gentry revived the ancient custom of meat pies. Venison was the meat of choice. The recipe crossed the pond to America, where it became as American as…pot pie!

       

    Beef Pot Pie

    Beef pot pie with a star-embellished crust. Get out your cookie cutter! Photo courtesy Betty Crocker.

     
    The pot pie can be baked without a bottom crust but with a conventional top crust or a biscuit topping (the dough is dropped onto the top), like a cobbler. Personally, we prefer a crisp biscuit to a crust.
     
    POT PIE VARIATIONS

    While most people immediately think of chicken pot pie, pot pies are made today from any type of meat, poultry, fish or seafood, as well as vegetarian varieties. If you have venison, by all means enjoy a historic venison pot pie.

    Some of our favorite spins on pot pie:

  • Biscuit Pot Pie (with a biscuit instead of crust—(recipe)
  • Meatball Pot Pie (recipe)
  • Polka Dot Pot Pie (recipe)
  • Star Crust Pot Pie (see photo above)
  • Turkey Leftovers Pot Pie (recipe)
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    And the recipe below, Baked Potato Pot Pie.

     

    Chicken Pot Pie Baked Potato

    Something new: pot pie in a baked potato! Photo courtesy Idaho Potato Commission.

     

    RECIPE: CHICKEN POT PIE BAKED POTATO

    For today’s special occasion, we’ve fused the pot pie with a baked potato. Or actually, blogger Carla Cardello of Chocolate Moosey did. She developed the recipe for the Idaho Potato Commission.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 Idaho baking potatoes
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup frozen vegetable medley (carrots, peas, corn, and
    green beans)
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet. Brush each with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and prick with the tines of a fork. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until they are fork tender. Meanwhile…

    2. HEAT the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken. Cook for 4 minutes, then flip and cook until no longer pink in the middle, another 3-5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a bowl and keep warm.

    3. ADD 1 tablespoon of butter to any meat drippings left in the skillet and melt. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5-8 minutes. Add the flour and stir to coat. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Whisk in the milk and salt and bring back to a boil. Add the vegetable medley and cooked chicken. Cook another 1-2 minutes or until hot.

    4. MELT the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet. Add the breadcrumbs and cook until brown, about 5-8 minutes. Stir in the parsley.

    5. CUT each baked potato in half. Top with pot pie mixture and breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Fall Fruits & Vegetables

    Have you seen a huckleberry up close and personal? The photo shows the fruit that gave Huckleberry Finn his nickname.

    It’s a fall fruit, a good choice for today, the first day of fall. As summer fades, so does the large assortment of fruits and vegetables. Rather than pay more for imported produce that is picked early for better travel (if not better flavor), look for the fruits and vegetables harvested in fall (the list is below).

    On a related note, October 6, 2015 marks the first National Fruit at Work Day, a celebration of the importance of healthy snacking in the workplace. In fact, more than 50% of one’s daily food intake is consumed at the office—and there’s too much temptation from foods that aren’t on the “good for you” list.

    This new annual holiday, observed on the first Tuesday in October, is devoted to honoring the food that successfully fuels a busy workday: fruit.

    The holiday was established by The FruitGuys, America’s first office fruit provider and part of the employee wellness movement since 1998. They use a large network of small local farmers to provide farm fresh fruit to workplaces nationwide.
     
    FALL PRODUCE

    Here’s what’s in season for fall. Not everything may be available in your area, but what is there should be domestic—not imported from overseas.

       

    huckleberries-wisegeek-230

    The huckleberry is in the same botanical family (Ericaceae) as blueberries and cranberries, and look similar appearance to blueberries. Their color may range instead from deep crimson to eggplant purple. Photo courtesy WiseGeek.com.

     
    Some of the items are harvested for only a few weeks; others are around for a while.

    So peruse the list, note what you don’t want to miss out on, and add it to your shopping list. To find the more exotic varieties, check international markets that specialize in Chinese, Latin American and other regional specialties. You can also look for online purveyors like Melissas.com.

    The produce list was created by Produce for Better Health Foundation. Take a look at their website, FruitsAndVeggiesMoreMatters.org, for tips on better meal planning with fresh produce.

    We’ve also featured their spring produce and summer produce recommendations, with the winter list coming in December.
     
    FALL FRUITS

  • Acerola/Barbados cherries
  • Asian pear
  • Black crowberries
  • Cactus pear (a.k.a. nopal, prickly pear, sabra)
  • Cape gooseberries
  • Crabapples
  • Cranberries
  • Date plum (a.k.a. Caucasian persimmon and lilac persimmon)
  • Feijoa (a.k.a. acca or pineapple guavas)
  • Huckleberries
  • Jujube (a.k.a. Chinese date, Indian date, Korean date or red date—see photo below)
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    TOP: In the U.S. Jujubes are a brand of hard gummy candies. In Australia and India the word is generic for a variety of confections. Here’s the real deal, cultivated in China for more than 4,000 years—and often eaten dried and candied. They may look like tiny dates, but are from an entirely difficult botanical family*. Photo by Frank C. Muller | Wikimedia. BOTTOM: Cardoons are wild artichokes. They look like celery, but with leaves that look like tarragon. Photo courtesy TurmericSaffronBlogspot.com.

     
  • Key limes
  • Kumquats
  • Muscadine grapes
  • Passionfruit
  • Pears
  • Persimmons
  • Pineapple
  • Pomegranate
  • Quince
  • Sapote
  • Sharon fruit (a variety of persimmon)
  • Sugar apple (a.k.a. sugar apple or sweetsop)
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    FALL VEGETABLES

  • Acorn squash
  • Black salsify
  • Belgian endive
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Butter lettuce
  • Buttercup squash
  • Butternut squash
  • Cardoon
  • Cauliflower
  • Chayote squash
  • Chinese long beans
  • Delicata squash
  • Daikon radish
  • Endive
  • Garlic
  • Hearts of palm
  • Jalapeño chiles
  • Jerusalem artichoke (sunchoke)
  • Kohlrabi
  • Mushrooms
  • Ong choy water spinach
  • Pumpkins
  • Radicchio
  • Sunflower kernels
  • Sweet dumpling squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnips
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    *Jujube, Ziziphus jujuba, is a member of the buckthorn family, Rhamnaceae. Dates, Phoenix dactylifera, are a member of the palm tree family, Arecaceae.

      

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