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Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi! My name is Andrea Fraser. I’m 21 years old, and a full time student. Also a full time mother of two really cute dogs, Winston and Dudley. I’m close to finishing my Associates Degree in Culinary Arts from Oakland Community College. Cooking and baking are my biggest passions, and when I’m not doing that- I’m reading about it! I love to travel. When I graduate, I hope to travel and pick up techniques they just can’t teach you in school!
What made you decide to pursue culinary arts?
When I was in grade school, my grandmother used to watch my sister and I until my parents got home from work. She wasn’t a very big cook, she actually only taught me how to make one thing (apple pie), but she was really great at the next best thing- eating! I loved putting pantry staples together without using recipes. I would usually make pasta or some sort of questionable casserole, and made use out of canned goods and spices. No matter how bad or good it was, she always told me she loved it. Fast forward six or seven years and I’ve moved out of my parents house and I started cooking (for real!) and I haven’t stopped since. I was one semester into a liberal arts degree when I knew it wasn’t for me, so I high-tailed it to the nearest culinary school accepting immediate enrollment!
How did you get involved in Cooking Matters?
I was experiencing huge feelings of uncertainty that day- “How am I going to turn this into a career!?” “Am I good enough at this?!”. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you don’t have a mentor in the industry. Alexa Eisenberg came into my class and introduced the program, and it couldn’t have been better timing. Cooking Matters encompasses everything that I’m passionate about. I’m honored to play a part in it.
What have you enjoyed most about the program so far?
I love how the program is set up. I think it strikes the perfect balance of being informative and fun. By far, the best moment for me was the last lesson with my first group. One of the participants surprised me with the fact that she had been a professional chef for 30 years!. She proceeded to tell myself and the rest of the coordinators how much NEW information and techniques she learned from us, seeing as healthy cooking was new to her. If a classically trained professional chef has something to learn from these classes, EVERYONE does!
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love being outside! I’m very active so you can usually find me running, biking, or golfing. I spend a ton of time cooking and entertaining friends and family as well.
Do you have a favorite recipe that you would like to share?
I love any recipe that I can give my own spin to. Lasagna is one of my go-to dishes for cleaning out the vegetable drawer in my refrigerator.
Veggie Lasagna- an adaptation from the “pinch of yum” blog. Enjoy!
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 50 mins
Total time: 1 hour
- 3 cups chopped veggies of your choice ( I usually use some combination of mushrooms, butternut squash, zucchini, red peppers, or spinach. Don’t forget that your freezer vegetables can come in handy here! Follow directions on package for defrosting)
- ½ chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
- 1 cup low fat ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- 12 uncooked oven-ready whole grain lasagna noodles
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese (part skim), shredded
- Chop the veggies. Saute the onion and garlic in the oil over medium high heat. Add veggies and saute until tender, reducing heat if necessary. Set aside and let cool.
- Whisk egg into ricotta cheese
- Pour a little sauce in the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan. Top with 4 lasagna noodles, 1/2 cup ricotta mixture, ½ of the veggies, and ¾ cup sauce. Repeat; top entire pan with noodles, remaining sauce, and mozzarella cheese.
- Cover and bake for 40 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove foil and bake for 10 minutes more or until cheese is bubbly.
*If I have zucchini or yellow squash on hand, I carefully slice it lengthwise- very thinly. I replace two layers of the whole grain lasagna noodles with the sliced zucchini.
*You can freeze this, too!
As Cooking Matters at the Store participants take tours at 22 Walmart locations throughout the state, it’s time to reveal the winner of our $10 Challenge competition.
It was a close competition and we had several fantastic entries. In the end, Vani Sohikian was our big winner with a total of $9.99 ! Congratulations, Vani!
Spending just one cent less, TJ Robinson is definitely knows how to maximize his food dollars. He bought a whole chicken to make whole wheat pasta with an alfredo-style cauliflower sauce and spinach, and created a banana-quinoa pudding for dessert. He even saved the chicken bones and vegetable scraps to make soup stock. What a thrify guy!
Thanks to everyone who participated and showed off their budgeting skills. Eating healthy definitely doesn’t have to break the bank!
Here’s how it works, folks:
Step 1: Find $10.
Step 2: Go to the store.
Step 3: Buy at least one HEALTHY item from each food group. When the items are combined, they should make at least one complete meal for four people.
- Go for whole grains
- Pro Tip: Check ingredient list to make sure a whole grain is listed first
- Fresh fruit on sale or in season
- Fruit canned in juice or light syrup
- Frozen fruit with no added sugar
- Fresh veggies on sale or in season
- Canned veggies that are low sodium or have no salt added
- Frozen veggies with no added fat or sodium
- Low-fat or non-fat
- Pro Tip: Watch that sugar content!
- Think lean!
- Pro Tip: Remember that vegetable protein sources can be both tasty and inexpensive
Step 4: Check out
Step 5: Email photos of your receipt and grocery haul to Rebecca at email@example.com by 11:59pm on Sunday, April 14, 2013.
Step 6: Enjoy your delicious bounty. If you want to let us know how you used your groceries, that’s cool too.
The person who meets all the criteria of the challenge and gets the closest to $10 without going over will be named Supreme Shopper and receive a fabulous prize. If there is a tie, other criteria will be considered. The winner will be announced via the blog and facebook.
The Cooking Matters team at Gleaners is excited welcome former Operation Frontline volunteer Mike Muysenberg back to the Detroit area. Chef Mike was one of our earliest go-to culinary instructors before he moved away several years ago. It is wonderful to have him back in the classroom!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I have over 36 years Professional Cooking experience. After a Chef’s Apprenticeship right out of high school, I traveled with Marriott, Omni and Westin hotels to Florida, Kentucky, and New York City. Back in the Detroit area, I gained lots of experience at Joe Muers Seafood, The St. Regis Hotel, and The Summit Restaurant at the top of the Renaissance Center. With a great love of cooking for others, I am looking forward to continuing my career in the Detroit Metro area.
More importantly, I am a proud father of 2 boys: Michael, 19, is enjoying his second year of college on the Dean’s List at Schoolcraft Community College, pursuing a criminal justice degree while working in the loss prevention department at Kroger. His younger brother Matthew, 16, is in his sophomore year in high school, and has aspirations of becoming a chef himself.
How did you first get involved in Operation Frontline?
I first got interested in volunteering while working as Executive Chef at the Hotel St. Regis. Enjoying some professional success made me want to share some of my skills with those that could benefit from them.
Do you have any good stories about your early volunteer days?
Just great memories of the nice people I’ve met along the way.
What do you look forward to the most now that you are volunteering with us again?
The next class!
Have you noticed any changes in the program?
Yes. Lots of streamlining and focus on the important points. Great improvements!
What do you think is the best part of Cooking Matters?
The hands-on, open and relaxed atmosphere of the program within which the participants are made to feel comfortable, and learning can easily take place.
Do you have a favorite recipe you would like to share with the other volunteers?
Although not really a specific recipe, this idea has proven successful with many class attendees and with my family too. I call it:
Almost Free Vegetable Soup
Leftover Vegetables (See Note) 1 Gal.
Butter or oil 4 Tbs.
Onion, diced 2 cups
(and any diced fresh root vegetables, like carrot, celery, turnip, etc.)
Diced Tomato 2 Cups
( fresh or canned)
Water 1 gal.
(or beef, chicken or vegetable stock, tomato juice, or any combination)
Salt/Pepper To Taste
Seasoning ideas: 2 Tbs.
( fresh or dried herbs, minced garlic, bullion cube, soy sauce, Worchestershire sauce, etc.)
Optional additions: 2 cups
(Cooked rice, beans, or pasta)
All quantities are very flexible, with great success. Sauté onions in butter or oil until brown. Add water (or other choices) and Leftover Vegetables, bring to boil, and simmer 15 min. Add any optional items, Simmer 5 min. Taste, adjust seasonings, Serve or chill.
Any vegetables, leftover from family meals,Saved in a gallon plastic bag in freezer until full. (You will be surprised how quickly your bag fills with what would normally be discarded.)
In the first step, the longer you cook the onions, the better your soup will be.
Made in larger quantities and frozen,(try qt. or gal. plastic bags frozen flat and stacked like cards in freezer) this soup is a quick and thrifty meal, and a great leftover magnet: add leftover proteins like cooked chicken, ground beef, or some shredded cheese and serve with crusty bread for a very satisfying meal. Enjoy!
What is your favorite thing about being involved with Cooking Matters?
I enjoy Cooking Matters because of the opportunities that it provides for people that otherwise would not have them. They are able to learn about nutrition and food budgeting, to better their lives and the lives of their familes. The fact that so many of the instructors are volunteers blows my mind. The information that class participants are recieving is professional advice and information. It doesn’t get better than that!
What do you do when you’re not busy helping us out with classes?
When I am not working with Cooking Matters, I am a full time student. I am pre-med and looking to become an OB with a focus on nutrition. I work part time as a server. I also spend time volunteering with a medical weight loss program as well as with Botsford Hospital’s ER.
What is your favorite vegetable?
Probably kale or spinach. I use them both almost daily in either shakes, salads, meals, or snacks!
Why do you think cooking matters?
I believe that it is an amazing program that more people should know about! In my opinion, nutrition is a topic that is not discussed in depth enough. I believe it should be involved in schools at a young age. I think that it is amazing that this program exists!!
Do you have a recipe you would like to share?
I tend to make a salsa pretty regularly. It isn’t my original recipe, however I will share it!
*lime juice! It’s delish
This season, Cooking Matters challenged participants via social media to makeover a typically unhealthy holiday-time favorite. The only rule: incorporate healthy ingredients and cooking techniques when recreating your dish! Bonus points were awarded for use of the secret ingredients.
The secret ingredients were:
1. Winter Squash
2. Peanut Butter
Cooking Matters staff voted for their favorites based on the following criteria:
1) Health Value (Incorporation of healthy ingredients and techniques)
2) Thoughtfulness (Incorporation of holiday theme/meaningfulness to its creator)
Best Overall: Peanut Butter Cookies with a Healthy Twist by David Moss
Why did David win best overall? Voters appreciated the simplicity of his recipe. With only 9 ingredients total, the 3 secret ingredients can really shine. This whole grain recipe is approachable even to baking beginners (such as participants in a Cooking Matters class). Cookies are undoubtedly a holiday indulgence, but this recipe gives them a healthy and unexpected twist!
Most Thoughtful: Winter Squash Peanut Butter Cheese Cake w/ Whipped Yogurt by Chef Mike
Why did Chef Mike win most thoughtful? He chose to recreate his mother’s traditional pumpkin pie recipe, but with a healthy twist. Chef Mike gave us the most background about his family’s holiday traditions (adding the whipped “cream” because his mother wouldn’t allow it otherwise!). Judges loved this recipe’s use of greek yogurt and low fat ricotta. We also loved the idea of using Chef TJ’s healthy cookie crumbs for the crust!
Best Presentation: Pumpkin Peanut Butter Mousse Tart by Chef TJ
Why did Chef TJ win best presentation? Well, in a recipe contest where we can’t try the foods, we eat with our eyes– this one blew us away! We appreciated this recipe’s use of nutritious ingredients like flax, chia seed, wheat germ and whole wheat flour. Using greek yogurt and egg whites give the mousse a healthier spin. If this dish tastes half as good as it looks I’d like some now, please.
Most Creative: Pumpkin Casserole by Dawn Claybrooks
Why did Dawn win most creative? Two words: homemade marshmallows. What an idea! Everyone has had sweet potatoes with marshmallows, but Dawn put a creative spin on this classic through the use of pumpkin. We also liked her use of natural peanut butter (meaning no hydrogenated oils) and use of unsaturated fats instead of butter!
A big thank you goes out to all the participants. Contests like this one help us promote healthier eating habits and demonstrate the array of ingredients and techniques that can be used to make any dish healthier. We couldn’t have a competition without competitors– thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to share your skills and creativity! We hope you had fun!
Winners should contact firstname.lastname@example.org to receive your prizes!!!
Happy and Healthy Holidays Everyone!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Billy Genterola. I came from the Philippines. I have management degree in the Philippines and worked with various multinational companies including retail and restaurant chains. I recently finished my Culinary Arts degree at OCC. I am actively volunteering in the dining room management classes. I love working in the restaurant especially in the dining room. I love talking with guest and suggesting wines to pair with their food. Last June 2012, I won the gold at SkillsUSA National Food and Beverage Competition held in Kansas City, MO.
What made you decide to pursue a culinary career?
I always love Cooking. My mom taught me how to cook when I was 7 years old. I came from a family of cooks too! My great grandfather was a cook during World War II. When I came to the US I decided to go back to school and pursue my first love.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love running. I read books (mostly cooking books). I carve fruits for display. I also like adventure and dining out with friends.
How did you find out about Cooking Matters?
I was talking to my friend about my volunteering activities and she told me about her volunteer job at Gleaners. So during an ACF convention I was able to talk to a CM coordinator and learned about the program.
Do you have a highlight from a Cooking Matters class that you’d like to share?
Nothing in particular. I taught seniors and teen classes. They were all great! They have lots of questions and always ask for my favorite foods.
Do you have a favorite recipe?
1/2 pound frozen shelled edamame (green soy beans), about 1 1/2 cups
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons), juiced
1 clove garlic, smashed
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Boil the beans in salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, or microwave, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes.
2. In a food processor, puree the edamame, tahini, water, lemon zest and juice, garlic, salt, cumin, and coriander until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and mix until absorbed.
3. Transfer to a small bowl, stir in the parsley and drizzle with remaining oil.
Serve with the pita or vegetables, or refrigerate, covered, up to 1 day.
Recipe adapted from foodnetwork.com
Let’s face it, some foods just taste better the next day. Foods like pasta, soups, and meaty stews taste better after the flavors have a chance to develop.
But what about those Thanksgiving Day leftovers? I am not sure about you, but my family ALWAYS cooks way too much and there are always tons of leftovers. If you are like me and get tired of just warming up Thanksgiving dinner all week ‘as-is’ – OR – what about those boring turkey sandwiches year after year?
I am going to show you some quick and easy ideas to liven up those Thanksgiving leftovers, including desserts! I think these are especially perfect if you are hosting family/friends for a few days after Thanksgiving and you don’t want to serve them the same thing day after day. Above all, you know what the best news is? You probably have most of the items in your pantry already to pull it altogether!
First let’s look at a traditional Thanksgiving menu:
Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner
- Roasted Turkey
- Mashed Potatoes
- Sauteed Green Beans
- Collard Greens
- Macaroni & Cheese – Chef’s note * try the recipe for the mac and cheese in the Cooking Matters curriculum. It’s low in fat and yet still cheesy and creamy
- Sweet Potatoes
- Cranberry Sauce
- Pumpkin Pie/Sweet Potato Pie
- Pound Cake
Thanksgiving Dinner Remastered - You can do a web search for these recipes or use some of your favorites!
- Roasted Turkey – Turkey Stromboli and Tortilla Soup
- Mashed Potatoes –Potato Cakes
- Sautéed French Green Beans – Baked Green Bean Fries *its important to note, this recipe will only work with sautéed or steamed green beans that still have some ‘snap’ to them. Here is a good visual – if you can ‘smash’ them with little to no pressure in between your fingers, they won’t work for this recipe
- Collard Greens – Collard Pesto
- Macaroni & Cheese – Broccoli & Cheese Bake
- Dressing/Stuffing – Stuffed Chicken Breast w/ Caramelized Onions
- Corn – Corn Fritters
- Cranberry Sauce-Cranberry Aioli
- Pound Cake/Sweet Potato Pie or Pumpkin Pie – Pumpkin Cake Pops
Pumpkin Cake Pops
- 1 cup of pound cake (prepared)
- 1 cup of pumpkin pie OR sweet potato pie w/ or w/o the crust (prepared)
- 2 tablespoons of maple syrup (optional)
- 2 cups of white chocolate (melted)
Mix all ingredients until it is the consistency of soft cookie dough – adding more pumpkin pie filling as needed. Form round balls about 1½ inches in diameter and place on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer until they are firm enough to work with (about 30 minutes).Dip the firm round balls in the white chocolate to completely cover. Use a fork to rotate and release the excess chocolate.
Place dipped cake balls on a cookie sheet lined w/ parchment paper and set in the refrigerator until the chocolate gets hard.
Optional: Once you dip the cake balls in chocolate, garnish w/ a pecan or a sprinkle of brown sugar
Don’t worry if you don’t get to all the recipes in one week. Simply freeze the leftovers and repurpose them at another time with these imaginative ideas
Of course, these are just my ideas – let your imagination run wild and give new life to those leftovers.
Rebecca is a regular volunteer for food pantries both in Hamtramck and her hometown of Grand Rapids. She used to visit her grandmother while she volunteered at food pantries, so it just came natural for Rebecca to help out, too. Through volunteering at Friendship House in Hamtramck, she was introduced to Gleaners Community Food Bank. This past summer, she joined us and volunteered with the Summer Food Service Program. Working with the rest of the summer food team, she helped distribute 140,000 nutritious lunches to low-income children in the region over a period of eleven weeks. Rebecca has now shifted over to join the Cooking Matters team, and is “thrilled” about the opportunity. Rebecca will be taking over as Volunteer Coordinator for Cooking Matters, and she will also help with other programs at Gleaners, such as Kids Helping Kids, Fresh Food Share, SNAP and Summer Food Service programs. Rebecca says she is looking forward to contributing “to a strong network of staff and volunteers so we can reach as many people as possible in the community,” and we are certainly excited to have her.
Rebecca graduated from Hope College where she studied French, Political Science, and Women’s Studies. She also studied and taught English in France for a year, and describes this experience as, “pretty fantastic.” She currently lives in Hamtramk with her 16 year old cat, Missy, and 10 year old turtle, Murtle.
Tell us about your family.
My husband and I have been married almost 30 years. We have 2 wonderful children who are in college now. My son is in his senior year studying engineering and my daughter is a freshman studying theater production. Since they have left for school, I now have a dog, 3 cats and a guinea pig. My husband works in business and has pursued wine certifications as a hobby.
How did you get involved in the culinary world?
I have always cooked. When I was a child my father, who was an attorney, did the cooking – my teacher mother has no interest and still finds scrambling eggs challenging. My father loves to cook and always was making all types of dishes from all over the world. Both my sister and I were his sous chefs. My father was well known for his cooking, but my sister and I were thrilled to go to friends’ homes and to eat “normal” food – I still love meatloaf and realize how approachable food must be. I also learned the beauty of comfort food. My father taught me to try different techniques and not to be afraid to try something new. The meal could be a disaster but most of the time it turned out surprisingly good. I think I’m a creative person and since I can’t paint or sing I can express my creativity through food.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
My husband and I travel a lot and food is at the center of our experience. We love going to restaurants, farmers’ markets, and grocery stores. I also enjoy doing the same thing at home. I guess I’m a little obsessed. I love to go to a restaurant and figure out the techniques and ingredients and then make it at home after I’ve gone all over town finding ingredients. Once I have mastered the techniques on my family, I moved on to our friends and my husband and I frequently host charity dinners where I prepare a meal and he is the “wine dude.”
How did you find out about Cooking Matters?
I found Cooking Matters through Volunteer Match. I wanted to contribute something to the community and Cooking Matters allows me to share what I love doing.
Do you have a highlight of a CM class that you’d like to share?
I don’t have a single highlight. I have numerous highlights. Every class I have been involved with I have seen “light bulb moments.” I love the look on someone’s face when they realize they can do it or they like a new vegetable, herb or spice. I love when the participants come into class and tell about how they made a recipe for their family or how they put their own spin on the dish. I think the best part of being involved with Cooking Matters is it is rewarding for everyone – volunteers and participants.
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion diced
1-2 cloves of garlic minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large can of whole tomatoes
1 can of canned tuna – drained (packed in water preferably)
¼ C chopped green olives
½ box whole-wheat spaghetti pasta
Optional: minced Italian Parsley and Parmesan cheese
Heat large skillet on medium heat. Add 2 Tbs. olive oil and sauté onion until lightly browned. When onion is almost done add garlic and pepper flakes. Pour liquid from tomatoes from the can into skillet and reduce heat to medium low. Take the whole tomatoes and crush in your hand into the skillet – looking for small chunks of tomato. Add the drained tuna and olives and mix into sauce and simmer while you make pasta.
When pasta is cooked, drain it and mix into sauce. Serve top with fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese (although Italians don’t generally service cheese with fish/seafood)