Serve spaghetti during cool autumn days
Can you make a quick spaghetti sauce worth eating without using onion or garlic?
For years I’ve been telling desperate cooks all over the country to grab a jar of spaghetti sauce and pump up the flavor with chopped onion, a good dose of garlic and a pound of extra lean ground beef. Even a budget brand is elevated by the additions.
A friend who can’t eat lots of onions and garlic challenged me to make a meat sauce that would be high on flavor but low on stomach upset, given her dietary restrictions. I started with a jar of vodka sauce because the garlic and onion are background flavors. Then I added both sweet Italian sausage and ground beef. For vegetable texture I added sliced carrots. Sweet basil adds the freshness I thought I’d miss without garlic.
The sauce is delicious. Even this onionand-garlic-loving girl wanted seconds. It’ll be tempting to not add onions and garlic -- even when I’m not cooking for my friend. Of course, I’ll remember how much I loved the unique flavor of this Carrot-Basil Spaghetti Meat Sauce and just enjoy!
Suggested menu: Carrot- basil spaghetti meat sauce, torn romaine with tomatoes, oil and vinegar, and Italian rolls Carrot-Basil Spaghetti
in Meat Sauce Start to finish: less than 30 minutes Yield: 4 servings 8 ounces spaghetti, cooked al dente
1/ 2- pound Italian sausage
sweet ground beef 1 cup sliced carrots 1 (28- to 32-ounce) jar prepared vodka sauce
2 tablespoons (lowsodium) tomato paste
1/ 2- cup julienned fresh basil
Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain well.
Meanwhile, brown both meats in a medium skillet. Add carrots and cook until the meat is finely crumbled and the carrots are crisptender. Add the sauce and tomato paste; stir and cook for 5 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the basil. Toss the sauce with the cooked spaghetti and serve.
Approximate values per serving: 532 calories, 17 g fat (6 g saturated), 109 mg cholesterol, 39 g protein, 55 g carbohydrates, 2 g dietary fiber, 1,046 mg sodium.
Holidays The holidays are near and you are probably planning in- between meal snacks for visitors.
How about Mini Ham and Cheese Biscuit Bites? They are perfect any time of day, even first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee or tea. These little biscuit bites are addictive. So make sure you prepare several batches for your hungry hordes.
There’s just a touch of Dijon with the buttery texture of a homemade biscuit -- not quite a cheese straw and not a bacon cheddar biscuit. Ham and Cheese Biscuit Bites are simply perfect for your nibbling pleasure. Ham and Cheese Biscuit Bites Start to finish: 20 minutes of preparation; 10 to 12 minutes of baking time
Yield: Makes 22 biscuits
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar 1/2-teaspoon salt 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 4 ounces ham, diced 2 ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar 1/3-cup milk 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking oil. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Stir to mix well. Add the butter pieces and, using your hands, pinch the butter into the flour mixture until it’s like coarse meal. Some butter pieces will be the size of a small peanut; this is fine. Toss in the ham and cheddar. Create a small well in the center of the mixture.
In a small bowl, combine the milk, Dijon and mayonnaise and whisk until well mixed. Pour the milk mixture in the center of the small well in the flour-ham. Working from the outside in, fold the flour mixture into the liquid ingredients. When the dough just begins to form a soft ball, turn out onto a floured surface and gently knead a couple of times to bring the dough together.
Roll out the dough to 3/4-inch to 1-inch thickness; cut with a small biscuit cutter or a small glass dusted with flour. Place each biscuit onto the prepared baking sheet and repeat until all the dough is rolled and cut. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until biscuits are light gold on top. Cool on a wire rack. Store in a metal tin or glass dish until ready to serve.
Approximate values per biscuit: 98 calories, 6 g fat (3.5 g saturated), 17 mg cholesterol, 2.7 g protein, 9 g carbohydrates, 0.4 g dietary fiber, 183 mg sodium.
Measles This past spring, a Washington state woman became the first person in the U.S. in 12 years to die from measles, a highly contagious disease marked by rash, fever, eye infections and a long-lasting, hacking cough. And according to the CDC, there were 667 measles cases in the U.S. in 2014, a more than 300 percent jump from the previous year.
Though we may see fewer total cases in 2015 (as of the end of July, 181 people in the U.S. had come down with measles), outbreaks at two Disney theme parks, accounting for 125 illnesses, are proof of how easily the disease can spread. Consumer Reports’ chief medical adviser, Dr. Marvin M. Lipman, says, “This is worrying news about a disease that officials declared eradicated in 2000, and one that is almost entirely vaccinepreventable.”
It doesn’t take much to protect you for life. “Virtually the only people who get measles in the U.S. today are not immunized,” Schaffner says. The CDC’s recommendations - two doses separated by at least 28 days -- are about 97 percent effective, making the measles shot one of the most reliable. Most people in the U.S. get measles protection from the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) shot in childhood, but around 5 percent of kindergartners were unvaccinated against measles during the 2013 to 2014 school year. Not sure whether you were ever vaccinated? “Go get a dose,” Schaffner says. “In 10 days to two weeks, you’ll have immunity.”
Shingles If you’ve had the chickenpox at any point, you’re at risk for shingles, which often causes an extremely painful blistering rash and nerve pain (called postherpetic neuralgia, or PHN) that can linger long after the rash disappears. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 people will develop shingles in his or her lifetime, when the long-dormant chickenpox virus in the body reactivates. To cut your chance of shingles by about 64 percent and the likelihood of persistent nerve pain by 67 percent, simply get the herpes zoster vaccine at age 60. “That’s when we’re most susceptible to the disease,” Lipman says.
Yet in 2013, only 24 percent of adults age 60 and older did so, in part because of the misconception that once you’ve had shingles, you can’t get it again. So unless you have a medical reason to skip the shingles shot (if you’re taking medication that weakens immunity, or if you have a disease or an allergy to vaccines), Consumer Reports says do it! You’ll avoid symptoms “so severe that many people can’t sleep and often miss work,” Lipman says.
For more information, check out the report online at ConsumerReports.org/ cro/3vaccines.