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Taste of Hawaii March 7-14

March 5, 2012

Sum-sum-summertime comes rushing in. We know it’s barely spring, but at Sunset Foods, we’ve got Island fever…how about you?

Year-round, we’re proud to offer the freshest Hawaiian seafood. But every March, we celebrate the flavors of the islands by air-expressing an amazing assortment of fish direct from Hawaii. This bounty is line-caught in the open ocean and deep waters surrounding Hawaii then shipped overnight to us, guaranteeing you the freshest catch you can find on the mainland.

Now’s the perfect time to treat yourself to a little Island escape. Say Aloha to Blue Marlin. It’s firm, hearty texture and sweet, mild flavor packs a healthy punch of Omega-3s, B vitamins, niacin and magnesium.

Why not make your own luau with Mahi Mahi? This delicately flavored fish is delectable stir-fried, sautéed, fried or grilled. Or pick up some Ahi Tuna. It’s hand-cut daily and goes great with our Seafood Glaze.

Whether you’re new to cooking fish or a seasoned pro, Sunset’s seafood experts can help you navigate the waters. They’ll not only help you choose your fish, they can offer cooking tips to make your meal memorable – and they’ll even show you how!

Selections available March 7-14 include; Ahi Tuna, Swordfish, Mahi Mahi, Onaga, Blue Marlin, Ono, Monchong and Opah (Moonfish). These fish are all line-caught in the open ocean off the Hawaiian Islands.


A-Z guide to proper handling and storage of every fruit and veggie

March 2, 2012

If you’re like many shoppers, you buy a bounty of beautiful produce each week only to have it go to waste in a matter of days. If you’re tired of tossing good food and money, there is a simple solution – and no, it doesn’t involve more frequent trips to the grocery store. The trick is to know how to properly store each individual item to maximize its freshness outside the store.

First you need to get to know the culprit – ethylene. Perhaps you’ve heard of it, but not really paid it much mind. This is a natural gas given off by fruits and vegetables. Some emit more ethylene than others, speeding up the ripening process of neighboring produce. You need to get to know your produce, so you have a better grasp of what can be stored with what – and what should be separated at all costs. Sunset Foods has done the homework for you, and compiled an A-Z guide to proper handling and storage of every fruit and veggie. See for yourself:

Apples – Do not wash until just before eating. Can be stored on the counter or in the refrigerator. But, they give off a lot of ethylene gas, so don’t store them next to anything else.

Asparagus – Cut off about a half inch from the ends. Put enough water in the bottom of a jar or wide drinking glass to cover the bottoms by about 3/4″. Loosely cover the tops of the stalks with a plastic bag to keep some of the moisture around them. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Avocados – Keep them at room temperature. If you need one to ripen quickly, put it in a brown paper bag with a banana. If it is ripe when you bought it and you need to slow the ripening process, put it in the refrigerator.

Bananas – Produce the most ethylene gas of any fruit. Keep them on the counter, away from other produce. Once they are ripe you can stop the ripening process by putting them in a sealed bag in the refrigerator. The skin will turn black, but the fruit will be fine.

Beans – Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Do not wash until just before eating.

Berries – Never wash berries until just before use. Throw away any berries that are bruised or molding. Store loosely in shallow containers, covered with plastic, in the refrigerator.

Broccoli & Cauliflower – Store in their original wrapping/packaging in the refrigerator. Do not wash until just before eating.

Cabbage – Keep in the refrigerator, in a plastic bag. Do not wash until just before using.

Carrots – Whole carrots need to be washed thoroughly. If they have green tops, cut off all but an inch. Wrap them in a damp paper towel, seal in a plastic bag and store in the crisper drawer. Baby carrots should be transferred to a plastic container, covered in water, and stored in the refrigerator. Be sure to change the water every few days.

Celery – Rinse, loosely wrap in a paper towel, tightly wrap the entire stalk in aluminum foil, and store in the crisper. It will keep fresh and crisp for weeks.

Cherries – Store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag. Do not wash until just before eating.

Citrus – Store in the refrigerator for about two weeks or on the counter for about one week.

Corn – If the husks are still on, store loose and uncovered in the refrigerator. If the husks are off, wrap each corncob in foil and store in the crisper drawer. It will keep for one to two days.

Cucumber – Do not wash until just before eating. Store in the refrigerator.

Eggplant – Store in the refrigerator.

Garlic – Store at room temperature. Whole heads will last three to five weeks. Once cloves are separated, they will last about 10 days.

Grapes – Do not wash until just before eating. Store them in the refrigerator, in the plastic bags they come in, or poke holes in a plastic bag to allow for air circulation.

Jalapeno Peppers – Store in a plastic bag, in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.

Kiwi Fruit – Store at room temperature until ripe and ready to eat. Will keep for about one week.

Lettuces, Leafy Greens & Spinach – Wash, wrap loosely in paper towels, and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Melons – Store at room temperature until ripe and ready to eat. They will keep for about one week. NOTE: Cut melons can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Mushrooms – Do not wash until just before using. If pre-sliced, store in the refrigerator in their original packaging. They will last for about one week. If whole, store loosely in a brown paper bag in the refrigerator.

Onions – Store in a cool, dry place that has good air circulation. They will keep for two to three months. NOTE: Do NOT store onions with potatoes. If stored near one another, both will spoil faster.

Pears – If they aren’t ripe when purchased, store at room temperature. Once they ripen, store them in the refrigerator. They will keep for about one week.

Peaches, Plums, Nectarines & Apricots – Do not wash until ready to eat. Store at room temperature until ripe, then store in the refrigerator until ready to eat. They will keep from three to five days.

Pineapple – Store at room temperature until ripe and ready to eat. Cut pineapple can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes – Store in a cool, dry, dark place that has good air circulation. They will keep for two to three months. NOTE: Do NOT store onions with potatoes. If stored near one another, both will spoil faster.

Tomatoes – Store in a cool, dry place. Don’t store them in plastic bags as the trapped ethylene will make them ripen more quickly. Tomatoes should not be refrigerated as the cold temperature changes the texture of the flesh making it mushy and mealy, and impairs the flavor of the fruit.

Zucchini – Do not wash until just before eating. Store in the refrigerator.

Herbs help create nourishing and satisfying meals.

February 23, 2012

Infusing Flavor With Herbs

A wonderful transformation is taking place in kitchens across America as interest in authentic regional and ethnic cooking styles blossoms. Home chefs are giving their dishes a healthy twist with fresh herbs and discovering that less fat and sodium does not mean less flavor. Herbs can complete a dish with exotic and multidimensional flavors, while exciting a variety of our senses. With innovative chefs leading the way, herbs are helping us create nourishing, satisfying meals that are as delicious as they are healthful.

While it is not difficult to incorporate herbs into your cooking, most experts agree that doing it well is an art.  Seafood Department Coordinator Dan Humphrey says, “Milder fish like tilapia, sole or halibut don’t need a lot of seasoning. I recommend not to using too much seasoning because it’s easy to overwhelm the mild flavor of the fish.” Dan says that dill, tarragon, fennel, parsley, or basil are good herbs to use with fish. He also recommends the “Fish Blend” from Herbal Garden which is sold in the Produce Department.

An herb’s flavor comes from its aromatic oils. Chefs consider fresh herbs far superior to dried herbs for most purposes because these oils tend to rapidly breakdown and lose flavor. Understanding how to maximize the aromatic properties of herbs is an essential part of using them effectively. Deli Department Coordinator Chef Ken Chaffin advises, “Overcooking tends to dull the flavor of fresh herbs, so I generally recommend not exposing them to high heat. The best thing to do is add them during the last moments of cooking or right before serving,” While using herbs in cooking is not new, innovative chefs have recently begun exploring how the principles of aromatherapy can be used to maximize the full sensory benefits of herbs. Ken adds, “The vast majority of what we consider taste is really the aroma of the food.”

Ken points to groundbreaking chef’s like Chicago’s own Grant Achatz who developed the salmon recipe below. “This salmon dish features a ‘ginger vapor’ which is created by pouring boiling water into a bowl of fresh cut ginger which is placed alongside the salmon when it is served. The resulting vapor perfumes the air which dramatically alters the experience of the meal.” Ken adds that the effect is easy to create, and if nothing else, adds a very unique element to a meal. In addition to ginger, Ken says the effect can be created with or without the water using a wide range of items including cinnamon sticks, garlic, or fresh mint. Since dining should appeal to all senses, why not use the delicious flavors and aromas of fresh herbs to create a complete aesthetic experience for the mind, body and soul?

Marinated Prime Rib

3/4  cup dry red wine
1/2  cup chopped onion
1/4  cup lemon juice
1  tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2  teaspoons snipped fresh rosemary
1/2  teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed
1/4  teaspoon garlic salt
1/4  cup water
1  4- to 6-pound beef rib roast
Fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish

For marinade, stir together wine, onion, water, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, marjoram, and garlic salt in a bowl.

Place meat in a plastic bag set in a shallow dish. Add marinade; close bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for 6 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.

Drain meat, discarding marinade. Place meat, fat side up, in a large roasting pan. Insert a meat thermometer into center, not touching bones.

Roast in a 325° F. oven to desired doneness, allowing 1-3/4 to 3 hours for rare (140° F.), 2-1/4 to 3-3/4 hours for medium (160° F.), or 2-3/4 to 4-1/4 hours for well-done (170° F.). Transfer meat to a cutting board. Cover with foil and let stand for 15 minutes before carving. If desired, garnish with fresh rosemary. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Salmon with Ginger Aroma

4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 piece (about 2 inches long) ginger root, peeled, chopped
1 tablespoon each: sweet rice wine, sake
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
4 fillets salmon, about 4 oz. each
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 heads baby bok choy, chopped, about 31/2 cups
1/4 teaspoon salt

Ginger vapor:

2 large unpeeled ginger roots, thinly sliced

Whisk together the garlic, chopped ginger, rice wine, sake, soy sauce and sesame oil in a small bowl. Pour all but 1/4 cup of the marinade over the fish fillets in a plastic food storage bag or shallow pan. Reserve remaining marinade. Refrigerate fish 2-3 hours.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bok choy; cook, stirring often, until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt; keep warm.

Prepare a grill or heat a grill pan or skillet. Remove the salmon from the marinade; discard that marinade. Cook salmon, turning once, until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, for the ginger vapor, heat water to a boil in a teapot or medium saucepan over high heat. Place the sliced ginger into four large bowls on the table. Divide the salmon and bok choy among four smaller bowls; drizzle with the reserved 1/4 cup of marinade. Place the smaller bowls inside the larger bowls with the ginger. Carefully pour the hot water into each large bowl to just cover the ginger.

Vibrant Herb Combos


• Rosemary and thyme
• Tarragon, marjoram, garlic [and onion]
• Cumin, bay leaf, and saffron (or turmeric)
• Ginger, cinnamon, and allspice
• Curry powder and thyme

Fish and Seafood 

• Cumin and oregano
• Tarragon, thyme, parsley, and garlic
• Thyme, fennel, saffron, and red pepper
• Ginger, sesame, and white pepper
• Parsley, cumin, and garlic


• Thyme, bay leaf & onion
• Ginger, dry mustard, and garlic
• Dill, nutmeg, and allspice
• Black pepper, bay leaf, and cloves
• Chili powder, cinnamon, and oregano

Embrace the spirit of the holiday.

February 17, 2012

Simply because we’re over 900 miles from the French Quarter doesn’t mean we can’t laissez les bons temps rouler this Mardi Gras! At Sunset Foods we have all the fixin’s to make your Fat Tuesday feast complete – whether you want to leave the cooking to us, or embrace the spirit of the holiday by whipping up something special in your own kitchen.

If you’re feeling chef-y, why not give these recipes a whirl?

Cajun Fried Okra

Emeril’s Big Easy Muffuletta Sandwich


Real New Orleans Prawleens



Cajun Fried Okra

Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen
6 c. oil, for frying
1/2 c. cornmeal
1 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp House Seasoning (recipe follows)
¼ tsp Cajun Spice
2 lbs fresh okra, sliced ½-inch thick
½ c. buttermilk

Creamy Chili Sauce, to serve (recipe follows)

Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch Oven to 350° F. (You may not need to use this much oil; do not fill the pan more than halfway up the sides with oil.)

In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, House Seasoning, and Cajun spice. Dip okra in buttermilk and then dredge in cornmeal-flour mixture to coat well. Carefully add okra to the hot oil and cook until golden brown. (It may be necessary to fry the okra in batches.) Remove from oil, drain on paper towels, and then serve immediately.

Yield: 6-10 servings

House Seasoning

Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen

1 c. salt
¼ c. black pepper
¼ c. garlic powder

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight ocntainer for up to 6 months.

Creamy Chili Sauce

Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen

1 c. mayonnaise
3 Tbs Thai sweet chili sauce
1 Tbs garlic chili pepper sauce
1/8 tsp ground red pepper

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients, stirring well. Cover and chill.

Emeril’s Big Easy Muffuletta Sandwich

Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

1 large sourdough bread round
¾ to 1 c. Creole Olive Salad (recipe below)
4 oz Mortadella, thinly sliced
4 oz Cappocolo, thinly sliced
4 oz Mozzarella, thinly sliced
4 oz Provolone, thinly sliced
Pickled pepperoncini, to garnish

Slice the bread in half horizontally, and remove enough of the doughy insides to make room for the fillings. Spread about 1/4 cup of the olive salad and its oil on the bottom and top pieces of bread, spreading to saturate the bread with oil. Alternately layer the bottom bread with the meat, cheese, and remaining olive salad to taste.

Cut into quarters and wrap tightly in butcher’s paper or plastic wrap. Let sit for 30 minutes for the flavors to marry and the oil to soak into the bread. Unwrap and place on a large serving plate with the pepperoncini. Serve.

Yield: 2-4 servings.

Creole Olive Salad

Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

½ c. pitted, brine-cured black olives, sliced
½ c. queen-size pimento-stuffed green olives, sliced
¼ c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbs minced Shallots
1 Tbs finely chopped celery
1 Tbs minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp minced garlic
¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir well to combine.


Recipe adapted from Jimmy Bannos

2 lbs chicken thigh meat, diced
2 lbs Andouille sausage, sliced
1 gallon chicken stock
1 c. green peppers, diced
1 c. celery, diced
1 c. onions, diced
32 oz clam juice
1 c. + 4 oz tomato paste
¼ c. Cajun seasoning
1/8 c. cayenne pepper
¼ c. cornstarch
2 c. cut okra
2 c. frozen shrimp – medium

Sauté diced chicken in sauce pan. Bring chicken stock to a boil. Add green pepper, onion, celery, cooked chicken, and sliced sausage.

Stir in cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper, and tomato paste. Let simmer, then add clam juice. Simmer while stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.

Add okra and shrimp. Cook for another 10 minutes.

Dilute cornstarch in a small bowl with water, whisking well to remove lumps. Add to gumbo and bring to a boil. Boil at least two minutes to remove starchy flavor.

Serve over rice with hot corn muffins.

Real New Orleans Prawleens

Recipe courtesy of Shirley Corriher

1 ¼ c. pecans, toasted
1 ½ c. almond slivers, toasted
2 Tbs + 2 Tbs butter
¼ tsp salt
1 c. packed light brown sugar
1 c. sugar
½ c. evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract or rum

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Line a baking sheet with foil. Generously butter foil.

Arrange nuts on a second sheet pan and toast in oven until fragrant – about 8 minutes. Stir 2 Tbs of butter into nuts while they are still warm, then sprinkle with salt.

Combine brown sugar, sugar, and evaporated milk in a pan and cook until a digital or candy thermometer registers 236° F. Remove from heat and allow to rest, undisturbed, for 4 minutes. Add buttered, salted nuts and vanilla or rum; beat with a wooden spoon until mixture starts to thicken. Drop spoonfuls of mixture onto buttered foil-lined baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart.

Allow to cool completely before serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Sunset’s Diamond Anniversary – How it all began

February 10, 2012

This year Sunset Foods celebrates its Diamond Anniversary – commemorating 75 years in the retail grocery business. To mark this important occasion, we look back at the history of Sunset Foods and tell the special story of how it all began.

The history of Sunset Foods demonstrates how the Cortesi family has balanced responsiveness to customers, exceptional quality and competitive prices to make “Sunset” synonymous with “superior grocery shopping” on the North Shore – and beyond.

In February, 1937, Sunset Foods opened for business in a 25 foot by 30 foot storefront rented by John J. Cortesi and his uncle, Adeodata Fontana. Sunset Park, adjacent to the original location at 635 Central Avenue in downtown Highland Park, inspired its name. At the start, customers phoned in orders for home delivery as self-service shopping did not yet exist.

At the time, Highland Park was in the process of transforming itself from a sleepy country village to a bustling suburb.  The nation was still in throes of the Great Depression, and while it was a difficult time for retailers, it soon became apparent that the Cortesi style of charm and service would be a formula for success.

John was soon joined in the business by his brother Otto.  Together they bought out the Fontana share and continued to gain attention in the area for their outstanding customer service and unique product offerings.

By 1948, Highland Park had grown to 16,000 residents and the city was considering how to handle the expected population growth of the coming decades.  Growth was also on the mind of the Cortesi family and two additional brothers, Willie and Hugo, became partners in the business.  The store relocated to a slightly larger facility ½ block east on Central Avenue and Sunset took a dramatic step forward by offering self-service shopping to its customers.  The innovation, rejected by many grocers, helped Sunset continue to prosper.

Business was brisk as Sunset’s popularity continued to grow and it wasn’t long before an even larger store was needed.  In a third significant expansion in 1954, Sunset moved “up the hill” to its current location on Green Bay Road. Here in the newly built facility, the Cortesis vowed that once Sunset customers selected their groceries and placed them in their carts, they would not have to handle them again – until they arrived home.  A unique checkout procedure began which continues to this day, and represents the fastest, most convenient supermarket checkout experience offered anywhere.

As the Cortesi family – and Sunset’s family of customers – continued to expand, a second location was added in downtown Northbrook in 1960 and a third store soon followed in West Lake Forest in 1965. Customer service remained Sunset’s highest priority, in keeping with the family’s philosophy, and the stores soon became informal gathering places where residents met for coffee and conversation.

The next three decades saw continued advancements for Sunset Foods.  A major remodeling was completed at the Highland Park store in 1983, and a completely new Lake Forest Sunset was built in 1990.

By 1992, the time had come for the Cortesi brothers to begin transferring responsibility of the business to the family’s next generation, involving Bill Cortesi, Richard Cortesi, and Ron Cizzon in management of the company.  Additional family members assumed greater roles at the store level while maintaining the family tradition of providing unique and unparalleled customer service – as well as the best in product selection – all at competitive prices.

As the next millennium approached and a new generation of shoppers became acquainted with the Cortesi style of courtesy, Sunset continued to balance its growth with the needs of its shoppers.  1995 saw the expansion of the Northbrook location to provide a larger selection of “natural foods” in response to increasing health consciousness.  Extensive remodeling of the Highland Park store was completed in 1996 and the opening of a fourth store in the thriving community of Libertyville occurred in 1998.

In 2006, Sunset transitioned leadership of the company to third-generation family member John E. Cortesi, naming him President and CEO. Under John’s leadership, Sunset soon unveiled its fifth and most ambitious store in the picturesque Village of Long Grove. This location features many cutting-edge green initiatives including a reflective solar roof membrane, recycled building products, high-efficiency heating, cooling, lighting, flooring and siding. Complete with an extensive organic and gluten-free selection, a commitment to buying locally, a complimentary coffee bar and a fresh sushi bar, the store showcases the best of what Sunset has to offer.

Sunset’s future remains as bright as its remarkable past and so it is with great pleasure that we share with our family and friends in the momentous occasion of celebrating 75 years in business.

Chili Recipes for the Big Game

February 3, 2012

Blustery winter days were made for chili. With Super Bowl Sunday fast approaching, we at Sunset Foods thought it was a perfect time to share some of our favorite recipes with you.

Chili is the perfect one-pot meal. And you can whip it up with minimal slaving over the stove-especially if you have a slow cooker. What? No slow cooker? Get thee to a store, stat! The perennial favorite registry item of brides-to-be proves its worth year after year. You can throw everything into the pot, set the heat level and timer and go about your day – the slow cooker will do almost all of the work for you!


Touchdown Beef Chili with Sour Cream and Cheddar Biscuits

White Bean Chicken Chili

Green Chili with Pork

Slow-Cooker Turkey Chili

Vegetarian Mole Chili



Touchdown Beef Chili with Sour Cream and Cheddar Biscuits

Recipe courtesy of Gourmet by way of Smitten Kitchen
2 large onions, chopped (about 3 cups)
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 Tbs minced garlic
2 carrots, sliced thin
3 lbs boneless beef chuck, ground coarse or 3 lbs ground beef
1/4 c. chili powder
1 Tbs ground cumin
2 Tbs paprika
1 Tbs crumbled dry oregano
Dried red pepper flakes, to taste
2 8-oz cans tomato sauce or 2 cups fresh tomato sauce or tomato puree
1 1/4 c. beef broth
3 Tbs cider vinegar
1 3/4 c. or 1 19-oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 green bell peppers, chopped
Sour Cream and Cheddar Biscuits, below
Sour cream and pickled jalapeños (optional, to finish)

In a large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat and cook the onions in it for 5 to 10 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and carrots and cook for one minute more. Raise the heat to medium and add the beef, stirring and breaking up any lumps until it is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, and pepper flakes and cook for another minute. Add the tomato sauce, broth and vinegar and simmer the chili, covered, for 35 to 40 minutes (if you used ground beef) or 50 to 60 minutes (if you used coarse chuck). Add the kidney beans, bell peppers, salt and pepper to taste and simmer for an additional 15 minutes, until the bell peppers are tender. Serve ladled over a split Sour Cream and Cheddar Biscuit, below, with additional sour cream and pickled jalapeños , if desired.

Yield: 6 servings

Sour Cream and Cheddar Biscuits

Recipe courtesy of Gourmet by way of Smitten Kitchen
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1/4 lb sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
Drained and chopped pickled jalapeños, to taste (I used about 2 tablespoons)
1 c. sour cream

Preheat oven to 425°F. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Either cut the butter pieces into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or rub them in with your fingertips until well-combined. Stir in the cheddar, jalapeños and sour cream until the mixture forms a sticky dough. Pat it out to a 1/2-inch thickness on a very well-floured counter and use a 3 1/2-inch biscuit cutter to cut six rounds. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 15 to 17 minutes, until golden on top.

White Bean Chicken Chili

Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home
¾ lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbs olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (15 oz each) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and
drained, divided
3 c. chicken broth, divided
1 ½ c. shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream and minced fresh cilantro (optional, to finish)

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the chicken, onion, jalapeno, oregano, and cumin in oil for 3-4 minutes or until chicken is browned and vegetables are crisp-tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Transfer to a 3-qt. slow cooker. In a small bowl, mash 1 cup of beans; add 1/2 cup broth and stir until blended. Add to the slow cooker with the remaining beans and broth. Cover and cook on low for 3 to 3-1/2 hours or until heated through. Stir before serving. Sprinkle with cheese. Garnish with sour cream and cilantro if desired.

Yield: 6 servings.


Green Chili with Pork

Recipe courtesy of

2 -3 lbs pork roast (pre-diced pork works well for a faster preparation. Just brown with onions)
2 Tbs cooking oil or 2 Tbs lard or 2 Tbs bacon grease
1 large chopped onion
1 head minced garlic
6 Tbs flour
1 (15 oz) can tomatoes , drained
2 c. diced green chilies
3 large tomatillos, husks removed and coarsely chopped (optional)
2 -4 tsp jalapeños (optional)
5 c. water or 5 c. chicken broth
2 Tbs ground cumin
2 Tbs ground chili powder
1 tsp salt

Simmer roast in a large pan until meat is tender and removes from the bone easily. (You can also use diced pork, or pork cube steaks, cut to bite size pieces, browned in the pot with the onion and garlic before adding the rest of the ingredients). Cool meat enough to handle. Cube cooked pork into bite size pieces. Process 1/2 of the green chilies until smooth. In the same large pan used to cook the pork, melt the lard or bacon grease (or heat oil). Add onions and garlic; sauté until tender but not brown. Stir flour into the onion, garlic, and fat until flour absorbs the oil or fat. Add broth or water. Cook and stir until mixture comes to boil and is slightly thickened. Add cubed meat, drained tomatoes, chopped tomatillos, all of the green chilies, and jalapeños if desired (taste first). Add the spices a little at a time until you get the taste you like, bringing to a simmer before each addition. Simmer for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. (At this point, you could transfer the mixture to a slow cooker and simmer on low for several hours.) If you want more of a stew type chili, add cubed potatoes 20 minutes before serving; serve with warm tortillas.

Yield: 15 servings


Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Recipe courtesy of Southern Living

1 1/4 lbs lean ground turkey
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (1.25-oz.) envelope chili seasoning mix
1 (12-oz.) can beer
1 1/2 c. frozen corn kernels
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
3/4 teaspoon salt

Shredded Cheddar cheese, finely chopped red onion, sliced fresh jalapeños (optional, to finish) Cook first 4 ingredients in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, 8 minutes or until turkey crumbles and is no longer pink. Stir in beer, and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon mixture into a 5 1/2-qt. slow cooker; stir in corn and next 6 ingredients until well blended. Cover and cook on LOW 6 hours. Serve with desired toppings.

Yield: 4-6 servings


Vegetarian Mole Chili

Recipe courtesy of Gourmet

2 medium dried ancho chiles, wiped clean
1 dried chipotle chile, wiped clean
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and cooled
1 tsp dried oregano, crumbled
Rounded 1/8 tsp cinnamon
2 medium onions, chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 medium zucchini and/or yellow squash, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 lb kale, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
1 tsp grated orange zest
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped (3 tablespoons)
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, reserving juice, and chopped
1 1/4 c. water
3 (15-oz) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Cooked rice, chopped cilantro, chopped scallions, sour cream (optional, to finish)

Slit chiles lengthwise, then stem and seed. Heat a dry heavy medium skillet over medium heat until hot, then toast chiles, opened flat, turning and pressing with tongs, until pliable and slightly changed in color, about 30 seconds. Tear into small pieces. Pulse cumin seeds and chiles in grinder until finely ground. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in oregano, cinnamon, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Cook onions in oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute, then add chile mixture and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Stir in zucchini and kale and cook, covered, 5 minutes. Add zest, sugar, chocolate, tomatoes with their juice, and water and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in beans and simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt.

Yield: 6 servings.

Satisfying Soy Recipes

January 27, 2012

In recent years, soy foods have surged in popularity among health-conscious Americans.  Scientists believe that soy foods, a food staple throughout Asia for centuries, may be responsible for the low rates of breast cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis in these countries. Today, a steady stream of innovative new products utilizing soy-based ingredients makes it easier than ever to enjoy the amazing benefits of this highly nutritious food.

The soybean, as well as all beans, lentils and peas, belongs to the legume family. While all legumes are rich in vitamins and minerals, the soybean’s nutrient profile is particularly noteworthy. The soybean is one of the few non-meat foods that contains all the nutrients necessary for good health, and is the only vegetable that contains all eight essential amino acids. The combination of being high in nutrients, low in saturated fat and cholesterol-free makes the soybean a uniquely healthy food.

Soy has always been considered highly nutritious, but recently scientists have discovered that soy may play a role in disease prevention. Soybeans, and most foods made from them, are rich in a group of phytochemicals called isoflavones, a family of chemicals that may help to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, heart disease and also improve bone health. The evidence of soy’s disease fighting qualities is so strong that the FDA has approved the health claim that including soy protein in a healthy diet reduces serum cholesterol and may reduce the chance of heart disease.

Although cooked soybeans can be eaten whole, they are normally transformed into a wide variety of versatile foods. Traditional Asian soy products include: tofu, a soft cheese-like curd; tempeh, a chunky, tender soybean cake; and miso, a smooth flavorful, fermented paste. American food manufacturers have also created a number of innovative soy foods including burgers, sausage links, milk, and cheese, all made without meat or dairy products, though closely resembling their originals in taste and texture.

It’s easy to incorporate soy into a wide range of traditional recipes and as little as one serving a day (1/2 cup) can yield positive health benefits. Though some of its forms may be unfamiliar, soy’s versatility lends itself well to dishes ranging from chili to luscious desserts. Served on their own, soy products like tofu or tempeh would seem strange to the average American, but incorporating them into everyday recipes like spaghetti sauce, meatballs, tacos, fajitas, dips, spreads, soups, and sandwiches can yield familiar, mouth-watering, low fat results.

While there is no such thing as a miracle food guaranteed to protect against disease, adopting a healthy diet and exercising regularly can reduce the risk of many illnesses.  Therefore, a low fat diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans is not only enjoyable but can improve the overall quality of one’s life as well. Here are a few recipes selected to demonstrate the amazing versatility of soy foods.

All-American Twice Baked Potatoes

6 large baking potatoes

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 package (10.5-ounce) light silken tofu

1/2 teaspoon seasoned pepper

1/4 cup green onions, chopped

3/4 cup sharp light cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup real bacon pieces, cooked

1/2 cup red and yellow sweet peppers, chopped

Clean potatoes and rub with oil. Bake in 350°F oven until tender (about an hour). Cut potatoes in half and scoop out potato meal. Set aside.

Combine potato meal and tofu and blend well with stand or hand mixer. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese, green onions and bacon pieces. Fill potato shells with mashed potato mixture.

Bake in 350°F oven for 20 minutes. Top with remaining peppers and cheese and serve.

Nutrition information per serving (1/2 potato): Calories, 155; Fat 3.2g; Cholesterol, 2.5mg; Sodium 65mg; Protein, 5.7g; Carbohydrate, 26.5g.

Recipes reprinted courtesy of

the Indiana Soybean Development Council

Chocolate Silk Dessert


1/4 cup butter, melted

1 l/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

3 tablespoons honey


1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 1/2 cups extra firm silken tofu

3 tablespoons honey

Mix together crust ingredients and press onto bottom, and 1-inch up the side of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake at 350°F. for 8 minutes. Let cool and then chill in refrigerator.

Heat chocolate chips over low heat (preferably in a double boiler), stirring often until melted. Set aside. In a food processor or blender, blend tofu until smooth. Add honey and blend until mixed. Add melted chocolate chips and blend until creamy. Pour filling into chilled pie crust. Place in refrigerator until firm. Serves 10.

Nutrition information per serving (1/2 cup slice): Calories, 351; Unsaturated Fat 9.3g; Saturated Fat, 6g; Cholesterol, 6.4mg; Sodium 175mg; Protein, 6.6g; Carbohydrate, 10.4g.

Blazing Saddles Chili

2 cups firm tofu, crumbled

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 cup onion, chopped

1 large green pepper, chopped

1 carrot, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup tomatoes, chopped

1 can (16 ounces) tomato sauce

In a mixing bowl, combine tofu, garlic, chili powder and Worcestershire sauce; set aside.

In a large skillet, sauté onion, green pepper and carrot in oil until onion becomes transparent (about 4-5 minutes). Add tofu mixture; cook and stir 3 minutes over medium heat.

Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney beans, basil, cumin, cayenne and, if desired, tomato paste. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Salt to taste. Serve on brown rice. Garnish with minced raw onion, grated cheddar cheese and avocado, as desired.

Nutrition information per serving (1 cup): Calories, 320; Fat 10.5g; Cholesterol, 0mg; Sodium 597mg; Protein, 17g; Carbohydrates, 43.8g.