Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Coney Island Hot Dogs in Raleigh

I usually eat hot dogs just once a year at the State Fair, but after having my fill of turkey and all the trimmings over the Thanksgiving weekend I began hankering for a hot dog.  Our local TV Station WRAL had recently reviewed Five Best Places for Hot Dogs and one of the places, Cloos' Coney Island, had been featured on the  WRAL Tar Heel Traveler.

Cloos' Coney Island,  is close by over on Avent Ferry Road in the Mission Valley Shopping Center near the NC State campus.  Today friend Marcia and I decided to check out the place for lunch. Although this place offers a variety of sandwiches and great cheese fries, they are known primarily for their all beef hot dogs.  And this is what we chose.  The "dogs" are spectacular.  When you bite into the skin,  it "pops".  I understand they fly these hot dogs in from Detroit.  This is without a doubt one of the best "dogs" I ever ate.
The interior is reminiscent of the 50s and with red and black colors (NC State colors).
All beef hot dogs on the grill.
Marcia and I ready to enjoy our "dogs".
All beef hot dog with slaw and condiments.
French fries are great too.
Great service from these guys.  Thanks very much.

I think maybe I won't have to wait for the State Fair to enjoy my annual hot dog.  I've found a new place.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Southern Sweet Tea

We southerners like our sweet iced tea, and this is how to make really good sweet tea.  I usually make it by the half gallon.  All you need is a pot of boiling water, tea bags, and lots of sugar.  We like our tea sweet.

1/2 gallon water
8 regular tea bags or 4 family size tea bags
1 cup white granulated sugar (Yes I like it sweet.)

1.  I boil the water in our electric kettle. 
Boil the water.
 2.  Pour a quart of boiling water over 8 tea bags (or 4 family size tea bags).
Eight tea bags.
Cover and let steep for 5 to 7 minutes.

3.  Cover and let steep 5 to 7 minutes.  Longer than 7 minutes makes the tea bitter.

Place 1 cup of sugar in pitcher.

4.  While tea is steeping, place a cup of sugar in your pitcher and add some hot water to dissolve the sugar into a syrup. 

Add hot water to sugar to dissolve into a syrup.

5.  When tea has steeped, remove the tea bags (don't squeeze the tea bags) and add the tea to the pitcher.  Stir until the syrup is mixed with the tea. Add enough cold water to make a half gallon.  Let this sit until tea reaches room temperature.

I used Trader Joe's green tea for this pitcher of tea.  Green tea has more antioxidants.

6.   Serve cold with ice and a lemon wedge. 

Glass of sweet iced tea with lemon.

Dan and I drink more hot tea in the winter, but at family dinners, Thanksgiving and Christmas, I always make a pitcher or two of sweet tea.  

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Turkey Brown Rice Soup

The leftovers are actually what I like best about Thanksgiving dinner---especially the leftover turkey that makes a nice rich soup.  Here's my soup recipe for this year.  I always make the turkey soup a little different each year, and this year I used brown rice along with the usual veggies.

Turkey Rice Soup

1 turkey carcass
8 c water
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
2 medium stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted with no salt added.)

Break up turkey carcass to fit into large Dutch oven.  Add water, pepper and bay leaf.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for an hour and a half.

Remove bones from broth; cool and remove turkey from bones.  Cut turkey into bite-size
pieces.  Strain broth.  Add rice, celery, onions and carrots to broth.  Bring to boil and reduce to a simmer.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes until rice and vegetables are tender.  Stir in tomatoes and turkey and heat until hot.  Remove bay leaf and serve.

This freezes well and will come in handy on a cold winter evening for a quick supper.

Serves 8
Turkey broth.

Add veggies.

Add brown rice which gives the soup a nice nutty texture and flavor.

Add no salt added tomatoes.
Add turkey, heat and serve.
The soup served with a piece of toast with cream cheese spread.

We'll have several frozen servings for this winter.  The brown rice in this soup gives it a nice nutty taste and texture. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Low Sodium Oyster Dressing

Low sodium oyster dressing.

My biggest challenge for Thanksgiving dinner this year was making a low sodium dressing.  I usually use Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing mix which is extremely high in sodium.  I've discovered a whole wheat bread from Trader Joe's that has no salt, so I made my own bread crumbs and added my own salt-free seasonings. Penzey's has a number of salt-free seasonings including poultry seasoning, and they are located conveniently nearby in Cameron Village.  I made the bread crumbs a day in advance so they would dry out.  Here's the recipe.

2 teaspoons vegetable oil (I used Canola)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 cups dry bread crumbs
1 pint oysters, liquid reserved
2 eggs, beaten
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Penzey's salt free Poultry Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease a 2-quart casserole dish.
2.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add celery and onion; cook and stir until tender, about 5 minutes.  Mix in the bread crumbs and remove from heat. Add the oysters and eggs, and season with pepper, poultry seasoning and thyme.  Stir in enough reserved liquid from oysters to moisten and mix everything thoroughly.  Transfer to the casserole dish.
3.  Bake in the preheated oven until the top is toasted and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

6 to 8 servings
The main ingredients.
Four cups of dried bread crumbs using Trader Joe's salt-free whole wheat bread.

Remove sauteed celery and onion from heat and add bread crumbs.
Add oysters and slightly beaten eggs.
Add seasonings.
Mix well and transfer to casserole dish.
Ready to eat.
This was very good and a big hit at dinner.  If you're limiting the sodium in your diet you might like to try this recipe. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Stayman Winesap Apple Crisp

Stayman Winesap apples.

One of our favorite apples in the fall and winter is the Stayman Winesap.  It's very good for baking, and I was happy to get a bag of these at the Farmer's Market on Monday.  Instead of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, I've made an apple crisp. (Okay, I will make some pumpkin muffins and perhaps some pumpkin cookies too.)  Here's a simple recipe that can be made in about an hour--20 minutes prep time and 40 minutes cooking time. This is modified from a recipe from

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats (not the Quick Cook ones)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 cups apples--peeled, cored and chopped
1/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8-inch square pan with butter.
2.  In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, oats, flour, nutmeg, cardamom and butter.
Mix until crumbly.  Place half of the crumb mixture in pan.  Spread apples over the mixture.  Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and top with remaining crumb mixture.
3.  Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serves 8

Place half of crumb mixture in bottom of pan.
Spread apples over crumb mixture.

Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over apples.
Top with the remaining crumb mixture.

Well, I just had to try this, but there will still be plenty for Thanksgiving tomorrow.
Yes, I think this will be a nice change for Thanksgiving dessert. Now I'm off to make the pumpkin cookies.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Lamb Couscous with Vegetables

Lamb with vegetables over couscous.

I was looking for a one dish meal the other day so I thumbed through my recipes and found this recipe for Lamb Couscous.  I usually make the full recipe and freeze what we don't eat.  It freezes quite well.  It's easy to get a quick meal by grabbing a container from the freezer and heating it.  Couscous, which we almost always have on hand, can be prepared in about 5 minutes.

Lamb Couscous with Vegetables


2 tablespoons olive oil
¾ lb boneless lamb stew meat
2 cups cubed zucchini
1 cup cubed rutabaga (yellow turnip)
½ cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic minced
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons raisins
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
Fresh ground pepper to taste
2 (15 ounce) cans low sodium chick peas drained
1 (14.5 ounce) can no-salt-added tomatoes undrained
1 ½ cups water
1 cup uncooked couscous


Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large pot over medium heat.  Dredge lamb stew meats in flour to coat.  Brown meat and then set aside.
Brown lamb that has been dredged in flour.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to pot .  Add zucchini, onion, carrot, garlic and rutabaga.  Saute for 5 minutes.   
Vegetables ready to be sauteed.
Stir in chicken broth, lamb, spices, tomatoes, and chickpeas. 
Add chicken broth, spices, lamb, tomatoes, and chickpeas and simmer covered.
Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

While the lamb stew simmers, prepare couscous.  Bring water to a boil in saucepan; gradually stir in couscous.  Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.

Serve stew over couscous.  

Yields 6 servings.  (1 cup stew, ½ cup couscous)

We each had a serving, and there are four more servings in the freezer ready for a cold winter day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Super Easy Dill Green Beans

French style green beans are a favorite at our house, and we particularly like dill green beans.  This recipe can be whipped up in less than 10 minutes and the beans are delicious.

16oz bag of microwavable French Green Beans (trimmed, washed and ready to microwave).
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs dried dill weed (or 4 tbs fresh dill)
1 tbs butter
juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
fresh ground pepper to taste

Microwave beans according to instructions.  For the ones I used, I pierced a hole in the bag and microwaved for 5 minutes.  Don't overcook.  We like our beans al dente.
Dill weed and olive oil.

While the beans are microwaving, heat 2 tbs olive oil and 2 tbs dried dill weed in sauce pan.  When bean have cooked, empty the beans into the olive oil and dill weed and stir to coat well.  Place in serving bowl and add juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 tbs butter.  Add freshly ground pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.   5 servings.
Add butter and lemon juice.
Add fresh ground pepper to taste.

These are quite tasty and as I said a favorite at our house.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Low Sodium Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Low sodium grilled cheese sandwich.

I've had to adjust my cooking because I'm trying to limit my sodium intake to 2000 mg (preferably 1500 mg) daily, and it's difficult.  I find it especially hard to come up with low sodium snacks.  Grilled cheese sandwiches are a favorite of mine, and I have managed to make one that is low in sodium, thanks to Trader Joe's.

The only bread I have been able to find that has no sodium is Trader Joe's Sodium Free Whole Wheat Bread.  Each slice has 0 mg sodium.

Cheese on the other hand, and I love cheese, is loaded with sodium.  Trader Joe's has two cheeses that are fairly low in sodium.  Their raw milk Emmentaler Swiss Cheese has 50 mg sodium per one ounce serving and that is extremely low for cheese. And their Yogurt Cheese has 140 mg sodium per slice.  So it's possible to make a cheese sandwich limiting the sodium to 50 or 140 mg.  I must admit I like the Yogurt Cheese better even though it is a bit higher in sodium content.
Low sodium Swiss cheese at Trader Joe's,

Trader Joe's low sodium yogurt cheese.

I've made grilled cheese sandwiches with both of these cheeses, and I believe I can get accustomed to having these instead of sandwiches that are loaded with sodium.
Low sodium (50mg to 140 mg sodium) grilled cheese sandwich with bell peppers as a snack or to accompany soup for a meal.
 I had no idea how much sodium is in food until I started checking labels carefully. Consider that a typical 1-ounce slice of bread has between 100 and 200 milligrams, depending on the type and brand.  An ounce of cheddar cheese has about 180 mg of sodium.  So a typical grilled cheese sandwich could contain anywhere from 380 to 580 mg of sodium.  That would be about a third of my daily quota.  And I'm not about to use a third of my daily allowance on a grilled cheese sandwich, no matter how much I like them.

I'll be posting other low sodium recipes on my blog in the future from time to time.  I've found there are a lot of folks out there trying to limit their sodium intake.