Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cold Soba Noodles with Vietnamese Pork

Ok, this is another Cooking Light recipe that needed tweaking. The pork was delicious and cooked in a flash, but the rest of the dish needed something. I just went ahead added more dressing (vinegar, chile paste, etc.). I'm posting as written in the magazine, but next time I'm going to make the pork as called for and then use my Asian Chicken Salad dressing (see bottom of this page for the alternate dressing) for everything else.
I'm thinking the pork would be wonderful in a hot dish too.

Cold Soba Noodles with Vietnamese Pork:
(Cooking Light)

3 tablespoons chopped green onions, divided
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil, divided
4 teaspoons fish sauce, divided
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari
2 teaspoons brown sugar (I used amber agave nectar)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound boneless pork cutlets, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
8 ounces uncooked organic soba noodles
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chile paste with garlic (such as sambal oelek)
3 cups chopped napa (Chinese) cabbage (I probably used more to make more of a salad)
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
Cooking spray

Combine 1 tablespoon onions, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, and next 4 ingredients (through pork) in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 20 minutes (I marinated it longer).

Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.

Combine remaining 1 tablespoon oil, remaining 1 tablespoon fish sauce, vinegar, and chile paste in a large bowl, stirring well. Add noodles, cabbage, and bell pepper; toss to coat.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Remove pork from marinade. Add pork to pan; cook 1 1/2 minutes or until done. Arrange pork over noodle mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons onions.

Alternate dressing for next time:
Probably should bump up the amount of napa cabbage used in above recipe, since this makes quite a bit of dressing.

2 TBS extra olive oil
2 TBS soy sauce (I used a little less)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2-3 TBS agave nectar, or honey
pinch red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Coconut-Curry Chicken Soup

Alright, all these Christmas goodies are starting to get to me. I've been going on and on about what a sugar fiend my father is and was on his recent visit, when really, I'm just as much of one!!! Maybe I thought I could deflect some of the attention from my own sugar monster tendencies if I went on and on about how taking my sweet foddah to a store that just happened to have candy/cookies/ice cream there was like trying to drag a non-reasonable 4 year old through the most candy laden checkout line at a grocery store all the while saying "no, no, no". Alas, tis my cross to bear too. If it's in the house, I want it. This soup might help. Unfortunately, the original recipe from Cooking Light falls short in the flavor department. Not a problem if you're up for adding a pinch of this and a splash of that though! Only problem is that I don't have any amounts to list...just the extra ingredients.
All just as well in any regard, since we all like different levels of spice, sour, sweet, etc. anyway.
The monster really dug this one after said tweaking of the recipe had occured, so I'm posting it.
If only to be one of the few food blogs I read that doesn't have cookies, etc. posted AGAIN.
Plus it's been ages and my buddy James is way over seeing the teff pancakes post. :-)

Coconut-Curry Chicken Soup:
(Adapted from Cooking Light)

4 cups water
3 cups fresh spinach leaves (I used more than 3 cups)
1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed and cut in half crosswise
1 (5 3/4-ounce) package pad thai noodles; wide rice stick noodles (I use the equivalent weight of Tinkyada's Brown Rice Fettuccini noodles...they're just fabulous!)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 teaspoons red curry paste
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (13.5-ounce) can light coconut milk
2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 small hot red chiles, seeded and chopped, or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
7 lime wedges
I added some rice wine vinegar, more fish sauce, and some sirachi chili sauce, more lime, and probably more salt. Just keep adding and tasting til you're happy with it. :-) Oooh, add lemongrass if you've got it! That's what it was missing!

Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add spinach and peas to pan; cook for 30 seconds. Remove vegetables from pan with a slotted spoon; place in a large bowl. Add noodles to pan; cook 3 minutes (or if using the brown rice noodles as per package instructions). Drain; add noodles to spinach mixture in bowl.

Heat canola oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and the next 5 ingredients (through garlic) to pan; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add chicken broth to pan, and bring to a boil. Add coconut milk to pan; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Add chicken, onions, sugar, and fish sauce to pan; cook for 2 minutes. Pour chicken mixture over noodle mixture in bowl. Stir in cilantro and chiles. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve with lime wedges (I added some lime juice into the soup before even serving).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Teff Pancakes

These were an effort one, to change up the Sunday morning routine of making (delicious) oatmeal pancakes, and two to make something I might be able to feed a non-gluten eating Marenka!
I'm not jumping up and down about the recipe as I made it, but it has definite possibilities. Normally, when I'm approaching an as yet untested recipe with an ingredient that's fairly new to me I take the time to find a number of similar recipes, picking and choosing elements of several to come up with something that might best suit our tastes. This time I just opened up a cookbook and made the recipe inside, for better or worse.
The flavor was really nice, but they were a little on the dense side. The batter thickened considerably as it sat and even though the recipe said to add more water if this happened, I didn't. Changes I'll make next time are whizzing the milk/water, teff, and a couple eggs in a blender first. I also found several recipes that called for adding 2 Tbs of flaxmeal too, so I might throw that in. One recipe I found added a banana to the blender, another just folded in banana slices to the batter. All in all, a lot of little tweaks.

I tried using teff flour before to make a passable injera a few weeks back. I think it just hadn't sat on the counter long enough. I went almost 2 days, but that really wasn't enough to get a good sourdough going. It was edible, but not really worth posting. Attempting an all-teff recipe did open my eyes to the reason most injera recipes often add a glutenous wheat flour to the teff, as our injera had a tendency to crack like a seared desert floor when they cooked. I might try again sometime, but in the meantime we'll continue to appreciate the ones we get at Aster's, our favorite Ethiopian joint. :-)

The below recipe comes out of Bob's Red Mill Baking Book, and I've altered it by adding cinnamon, vanilla, and using soymilk in lieu of regular milk. There aren't any eggs in it, and you could easily veganize this by swapping out the butter for oil. I'll type as written, but I only made 3/4 of the recipe.

I ate mine topped with Fage Greek yogurt, agave nectar, bananas and walnuts.

Teff Pancakes:
(Bob's Redmill Baking Book)

2 cups teff flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
(1/2 tsp cinnamon)
2 Tbs sugar (I used Sucanat)
2 cups of water, or 1 cup water and 1 cup milk (I used half soy milk and half water...add more liquid if it thickens too much when sitting.)
2 Tbs cooled melted butter, or canola oil
1 tsp vanilla

Whisk or sift together dry ingredients.
Whisk melted butter or oil into water/milk (and vanilla if you like).
Continue to mix in the dry ingredients into the wet.
The batter may thicken upon sitting at which point you can add a bit more water.
Laddle 1/4-1/3 cup of batter for each cake and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until bubbles appear.
Flip and cook on other side til done.

For of the Meyer Special lemons from one of Monster's co-workers tree. Who knew you could grow this kind of goodness right here in Austin?? It's sitting next to what was billed as a large Naval for size comp. Believe it or not, it's all lemon, not taken up by 1/2 pith on the inside. :-)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lemon-Herb Tofu

I've been all gimped up with a wracked lower shouldn't be sitting here too long. But, I'm getting tired of this messy desktop full of icons. Pictures of recipes to be posted. So here goes. Getting rid of two at least! We ate this a few nights ago after I found the recipe on one of the vegan blogs I read. Very good and definitely falls into the easy peasy category.
Serve it over whatever you like. I was out of brown rice, so we made do with some buckwheat noodles. I'll publish as I found the recipe, but I went lighter on the herbs than she did. Also used a Greek oregano, which I find to be much more palatable.

Lemon-Herb Tofu:
(from Dreena's Vegan Recipes)

31⁄2 - 4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used more...just because I had a monster meyer lemon that in no way was going to waste)
2 tbsp tamari (I used soy)
2 - 21⁄2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
11⁄2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1⁄2 tsp dried basil
1⁄2 tsp honey alternative (I used agave nectar)
few pinches freshly ground black pepper
1 350-g pkg (12-oz) extra-firm tofu, cut into squares about 1⁄4" - 1⁄2" thick,
and patted gently to remove excess moisture

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). In an 8"x12" baking dish, combine the lemon juice, tamari, olive oil, oregano, thyme, basil, honey alternative, and pepper, and stir through until well incorporated. Add the tofu and coat each side. Bake covered for 15 minutes. Turn the tofu over, and continue to bake uncovered for another 13-15 minutes, turning again when there are just a few minutes of cooking time remaining. At this time, the tofu should have soaked up most of the marinade. Remove from oven and let cool a little before serving; pour any remaining herbs and oil over the tofu.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Heidi's Cornmeal Crunch

I made Heidi's (101 Cookbooks) recipe for cornmeal crunch the other night as a side/starch to I can't even remember what. We got a lot of mileage out of it as it was eaten over the next few days alongside salads, torn up into chicken soup, and just generally snacked upon. I'd planned on making it with some leftover caramelized onions (which would have made it a lot quicker to prepare), but I didn't trust that they were any good after 10 days in the fridge.
I didn't have any onions, but did have a whole slew of shallots which got used instead.
I went ahead and caramelized the shallots as I would onions in any of my other recipes. This means I added some balsamic vinegar and a little agave nectar to what would have otherwise been plain caramelized shallots. I also have a nice pot of lemon thyme, so I decided to add some to Heidi's recipe. This was a great side dish that would be made even better if I'd had some caramelized onions already in the fridge! Wouldn't hesitate to make it again, even having to make it from scratch. You might want to leave it in the oven for a bit longer than called for...just to get it a little crispier.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pulled Pork Sammies!

I made these for book club last Friday and they were ok that night. But! The next night I jazzed 'em up with more vinegar and alder smoked salt (from Whole Foods bulk section), making them infinitely better. I think the initial problem might have been that I used a roast that was over 4 lbs., when the recipe had called for a 3 pounder. Less sauce to be had for more meat. I didn't cook this on the stove top as the original directions called for. I marinated the meat in the sauce overnight, then put everything in my crock pot, using less water than called for, and cooked for ~8-9 hours on low. I just added enough water to take the liquid level up to the rim of my pot. Next time I might add more than one pickled jalapeno in, and maybe even a little more vinegar? Cider vinegar next time instead of white vinegar.
When you boil the sauce down on the stove top, skim as much of the fat off as possible before mixing the shredded meat back in.
And with that, I'm going to link to the original recipe from Simply Recipes and you can tweak it however you'd like.
I served the sammies on hamburger buns with coleslaw (something like that recipe anyway!) and sweet-hot pickles. The pickles made the sandwich! I made up a pile of collards with black-eyed peas to go with when the Monster and I ate these on Sat.

Thanks for smiling Cheryl!! Every other picture I took of people on Friday featured a frowny-plllleeeease-don't-take-my-picture grimace. ;-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Roasted Beets in Vinaigrette

I never would have thought to post about roasted beets until a conversation with Joelle at lunch the other day.
We split a salad with roasted beets that she'd been craving...said beets being a newfound favorite of hers. Says I, "You know, they're really easy to make." Says she, "You mean they don't have to come out of a jar?" 'Nuff's my easy- peasy recipe for roasted beets.

Roasted Beets in Vinaigrette:

However many beets ya gots (preferably with nice green tops)

Set oven to 350.
Trim tops about 1" from beets...saving greens for another use.
Wash then dry beets.
Lightly oil each beet then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Wrap each beet individually in foil, place on a baking sheet and roast for ~1 hour or until softened somewhat.
Turn off the heat at this point and just leave them in the oven to cool. I usually forget about setting a timer for a couple hours could be in order! :-)
When cool enough to handle, unwrap and peel the skin off.
Slice beets in ~1/4" rounds and add to dressing.


canola oil
cider vinegar
whole grain mustard
salt and pepper
a smidge of agave nectar

Mix all ingredients together in whatever amounts make your mouth happy.
Marinate for a couple hours, or longer then eat. Either add to a salad, or eat alone as a great snack.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Creamy Chickpea Salad with Fresh Herbs

All I can say is WOW! This was so good! The perfect dinner to curl up on the sofa with to watch election results. I found the recipe on at Fatfree Vegan Kitchen's blog and knew upon seeing it, I had to make it. This salad did not disappoint. I have no idea why, but it kind of tastes like tuna salad?? Both the monster and I agreed that we'd take this any day over tuna salad. I served it up over a mix of shredded Romaine and green leaf lettuce (drizzled with a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper) and topped with sliced avo and tomatoes. Nom! Toasted up some whole wheat pita and dinner was complete. I'll definitely be doubling the recipe next time...

Creamy Chickpea Salad with Fresh Herbs:
(Susan from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen...check out her pic, it's much prettier. Plus there's a second chickpea salad recipe in the same entry!)

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (I used one can, drained and rinsed)
1/2 cup medium-firm tofu, mashed well (I used a little extra, since the can is more than 1.5 cups)
2 tablespoons Nayonaise (or other mayo if you're not Vegan)
1/2 tablespoon Creole mustard (I used spicy brown mustard)
1/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seafood seasoning* (or to taste)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 rib celery, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/4 tsp dried)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon paprika
generous grating of black pepper

Mash the chickpeas well with a potato masher. Add all remaining ingredients and taste, adding more seasonings if necessary. Refrigerate until chilled. Susan suggests this as a dip or sandwich filling too. So that's where I'll be going next time I make it.

*Susan notes: "The main ingredient of Old Bay is celery salt, so you can replace it with celery salt and a pinch or two of red pepper"...which is what I did.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Healthy Picadillo

I served this with a big salad of romaine topped with a black-eyed pea and roasted corn salsa. We've been eating less and less beef around here, but this was good. We had leftover rice from Sunday's meal and served the picadillo over that. Thanks Beth!! Will try it with ground turkey sometime too...and maybe add some chili powder next time to spice it up a bit. I only made half the recipe for just us 2 and there were plenty of leftovers for lunches.

Healthy Picadillo:
(a favored Cooking Light recipe of Beth's submitted in answer to my plea for help :-)

8 servings (serving size: 1 cup)
  • 2 pounds ground round
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups (1/4-inch-thick) slices yellow bell pepper, each slice cut in half
  • 1 1/2 cups (1/4-inch-thick) slices red bell pepper, each slice cut in half
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins (we're not huge fans of raisins, but I'll deal with the golden ones...the Monster, not so much. I'll have to use craisins next time)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup sliced pimento-stuffed manzanilla or green olives (about 15 olives)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I used more)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce

Cook beef in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned; stir to crumble. Remove from pan; drain well.

Add oil to pan. Add onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Add bell peppers and carrot; sauté 3 minutes. Return beef to pan. Stir in raisins and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaves.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


I posted before about Saag with Tofu , but it just isn't the same as real honest to goodness Saag Paneer. Here's the easier than you'd think method. Fun to try at least once. Although, this is at least my third! :-)

Paneer, or Homemade Cheese:

1 Gallon of whole milk
1/4 cup white vinegar
canola oil for frying

extra needs:
cheese cloth
oil thermometer

Line a strainer with several layers of cheese cloth and place over a bowl.
In a large stock pot, heat milk to boiling, stirring often to prevent scalding.

After milk boils, remove from heat and stir in vinegar. The curds should form immediately, separating from the whey.
Pour curds into strainer lined with cheese cloth and pour out whey (although I've heard your plants will like this, I've never tried it since I wasn't sure if the vinegar would be a problem).

Draw up the cheese cloth around the curds pressing more of the whey out.
Weight the cloth wrapped curds down with a pot full of heavy ramekins, etc. and leave to compress/drain for about 5-6 hours.

Remove from cloth, and cut into cubes.

Heat ~1-2" of oil in a pot or wok to 300 degrees.
Fry in several batches for 4-5 minutes each.

Drain on paper toweling then store in the fridge in a tightly covered container until ready to use.

Continue on and make a killer saag paneer with the recipe I posted earlier and this is what it will look like.

Quesadillas with Sweet Potato, Caramelized Onions and Gruyere

Recipe for making someone swoon:
Get out a skillet. Cut up a mass of onions. Melt butter and olive oil in said skillet. Add onions to buttery goodness. Cook for an hour on low heat, until caramelly and delicious.
I've caramelized onions twice in as many weeks now and both times people have come to the door and said..."Oooooh, it smells so good in there".
Our Halloween meal led to just one such comment from the parent of a trick or treater who was standing halfway across our yard! That said, you really should have this no-brainer in your repertoire.

We're still trying to work on using up our 1/2 box of sweet taters, so they made another appearance in last night's repast. These quesadillas were mighty tasty served with a quick green salad.

Quesadillas with Sweet Potato, Caramelized Onions and Gruyere:

sweet potato oven fries
caramelized onions (recipe follows)
grated cave-aged Gruyere
fresh (lemon) thyme
multi-grain tortillas

Optional sauce:
Fage Greek yogurt
balsamic vinegar
agave nectar

Heat skillet on med-low. Add a tortilla to the skillet. Sprinkle a little cheese on the tortilla, then build a layer of sweets, then onions, then more cheese and a shower of fresh thyme.

Cover with second tortilla and continue cooking until crisp on one side. Flip and continue cooking til done.
Cut into fourths and serve with a sauce of Greek yogurt mixed with a little balsamic vinegar, salt and agave nectar.

Caramelized Onions:

2 large red onions, sliced (bi-sected top to bottom, then sliced in ~1/4" slices in the other you'd cut onion rings)
1 Tbs butter
2 Tbs olive oil
salt to taste
a couple splashes of balsamic vinegar
a squirt of agave nectar

Melt butter and olive oil in a non-stick skillet on medium heat.
Add onion slices and a good pinch of kosher salt and toss to coat.

Cook for ~10 minutes on medium, until onions are translucent.
Turn heat down to low and continue cooking for ~40 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes.
Add balsamic, and agave nectar and continue cooking about 10 minutes more.
Adjust seasonings and set aside.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween! Ogre Toe anyone?

Originally found a recipe online a few years ago for some peaky looking witch finger cookies. Now they looked bad enough I suppose, but when have I ever been able to leave well enough alone? Over the last few years my toes and fingers have gotten ever gorier. All the better to freak the wee chillun's out I say. You can take these as far as you're willing to go. Either just bake 'em and leave it at that, or go whole hog and get out your paintbrushes!
For whatever reason, a recipe that used to work just great, holding the form/details I sculpt in, now has the tendency to flatten out and puff up in the oven. (UPDATE: see alternative recipe that I'll be using from now on below the first!)
They still look gnarly, no matter what condition they're in upon coming out of the oven...especially with cocoa mix "shading". I know I'm late in getting this particular post together, but look at it this way. Now you have a whole year to get your technique down. ;-)

Severed Ogre Toes (or ears, etc.!):
(Adapted from a recipe from Britta's awe inspiring site devoted to Halloween)

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup icing (confectioner's) sugar
1 egg
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
raspberry jam (if using an all-fruit no added sugar, add red food coloring)
whole blanched almonds
food coloring
Ghiradelli's cocoa mix
assorted paint brushes...a nice soft fan brush, and fine detail brushes

In a bowl, beat together butter, egg, almond extract and vanilla. Add food coloring at this point if you'd like to tint the dough.
I use a combo of red and blue with a touch of green to come out with a greyish purple dough.
Add flour and salt to mix.
Cover and refrigerate dough for about an hour. During this time, split some of the almonds and carve toe nails. You'll be using the fat end of the almond for the outside edge of the nail, so concentrate on making it creeptastic. Now, take whole almonds and cut off the butt end to create the bone shard that will stick out the back of the cookie.
Load a small Ziplock bag with some raspberry jam and make a small cut at one corner.
Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Working with small amounts of dough at a time, keeping the remainder in the fridge, roll a heaping teaspoon (my fingers/toes vary quite a lot in size honestly) into an oval shape then flatten. Pipe a bit of the jam down the center, then carefully close up the dough around it.

You can then shape the toe or finger. Create a knuckle, use a knife to make slashes across it.

If you have a jam "blowout" know that these end up being the best looking cookies in way of gore factor. So don't worry if some of the jam starts oozing out as you're shaping the cookies. :-)
Push in an almond nail, so that some of it is in the cookie...lessening the likelihood of it coming out after baking. Push in a "bone shard" end. Place cookie on parchment lined baking sheet and once you have the sheet loaded up with cookies, put them back in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven at this point to 325.
Bake cookies for about 20-25 minutes, depending on their size. I sometimes end up taking the smaller ones off first and popping the larger ones in for a little longer.
As soon as the cookies come out of the oven (they MUST be hot for this step!), dip a fan brush into the cocoa mix and tap/shade the cookies. I usually do this around the nail bed, at the severed end around the bone, and shade along the edges around the knuckle.

Now you're ready to paint! Get a small ramekin and make puddles of blue, green, and red.
Red and green make brown, red and blue make purple. Just play with different mixes or straight color. I paint around the nail, the bone end and in the knuckle slashes sometimes. Just have fun with it. Oh and I also keep a bowl of water to thin the color if needed.

You can get bold and start making other icky severed parts too. This year, I've branched out into severed waxy ears. Filled with caramel and fig preserves "wax". Complete with a carved almond skull earring. The q-tips are just pretzels dipped in melted white chocolate.

That's it! Now comes the tricky part. Seeing if you can get anyone to eat them!!! Easier said than done. ;-)

Happy Halloween everyone!! Chickpea sends her witchy-poo love!

(developed with Debbie's help in the quest for a better tasting and looking cookie)

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 TBS corn starch
1/8+ tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup confectioners sugar; sifted
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup almond flour (or hazelnut flour)
1 TBS fresh squeezed orange juice
1 TBS cocoa powder
optional: jam of your choice for filling...raspberry is nice for blooood but apricot is tasty too!

Preheat oven to 325.

Sift flour, cornstarch, salt and cocoa into a bowl.
Cream butter in a mixer, then sift in confectioners sugar and mix until fluffy.
Add vanilla, almond/hazelnut meal, and orange juice and blend well.
Slowly add flour mix to butter and combine until dough appears crumbly.
Roll between wax paper and pop it into the refrigerator for about an hour. Or alternatively you can put the wax paper wrapped dough into a freezer bag and freeze.
Make fingers/toes as in the prior recipe, then bake for ~22+ minutes. This might vary quite a bit depending on how large you make your fingers, so just do an initial test bake.
Decorate as in previous recipe.
Now gross out your friends with your new and improved tasting ogre fingers/toes! :-)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry and Raw Kale Salad

I went to Costco Sunday with a new friend so we could split a bunch of produce that we wouldn't normally be able to get through with only one of our households. Amongst our purchases, a box of sweet potatoes. Now, you'd think given we only have half a box we'd be able to use them up with no problem. Well, there were still an awful lot of potatoes for just 2 people. This is the first recipe (attempt) at whittling down that mere half box o' spuds. Served this up with a raw kale salad, which I'm reposting in hopes that it will give someone else the incentive to try it. :-) I'd never considered eating kale raw until coming across this recipe. It's so good! There were tons of curry leftovers...let's hope they thaw well, since into the freezer they went after I had some for lunch yesterday. (I can now report back that they thawed out beautifully, so definitely a freezeable dish.)

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry:
Nigella Lawson

2 medium red onions, peeled and roughly cut
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 birds eye chile or Thai chile or hot pepper (seeded or not seeded according to taste)
2 1/2 inches piece gingerroot, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
3 cardamom pods, light crushed or 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
(Garam masala...not in original recipe, but I added this at the end because I wanted a little more spice)
2 lbs sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces (about 3 medium)
1 3/4 cups light coconut milk
1 tablespoon tamarind paste (I use tamarind concentrate, so don't have to let it soak in hot broth...if you have that, just add the veg. broth with no heating required)
1 1/4 cups vegetable broth (hot)
2 cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
~2 tablespoons cilantro leaves
cooked rice (optional)

In food processor, combine onions, garlic, hot pepper and ginger. Pulse until finely chopped. I thought I'd over done the mincing, but it came out really great.

Pour oil into large saute pan over medium-low heat. Add chopped onion mixture and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add hot pepper flakes, ground ginger, ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir to mix. Add sweet potatoes and stir until well covered in spices. Stir in coconut milk.

Dissolve tamarind paste in hot vegetable broth and add to pan (or just add tamarind concentrate). Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until sweet potatoes are just tender, about 30 minutes or more. Taste potatoes to make sure they are cooked all the way and allow additional cooking time of necessary.

Add chickpeas and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. Adjust salt to taste. Transfer to bowl and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Serve with rice if desired, but this is very filling on it's own.

Raw Kale and Garlic Salad:
This recipe is from Erin at the Southern Dharma Retreat Center with a few additions.

1 lb kale (Just buy one large bunch)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2-2 cloves garlic, minced. Adjust to taste. (I used one clove for 1 bunch of kale)
1/2 teaspoon salt
~4 Tbs lemon juice (use less to begin with, but I like it perky)
avocado slices
1+ tomato(es), diced

Wash and dry kale after having striped the leaves from their ribs. Cut the leaves up fairly finely.
Mix in olive oil and massage with clean hands for ~2 minutes. I didn't cut the kale up as small the first time I made this and it took a lot longer to massage the leaves. In a smallish bowl mix together the garlic, lemon and salt, stirring until salt dissolves. Pour over your kale and toss to coat. Pop it into the fridge for a bit if you have the time to let it marinate a bit, then serve with avocado slices, tomatoes and a little fresh cracked black pepper.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chicken Stew with Lemon and Olives

This is a really wonderful new recipe that I'd printed out from Cooking Light ages ago and finally got around to making. It will go into our regular rotation of recipes for sure. Very comforting meal served with a simple arugula, orange and avocado salad.

Chicken Stew with Lemon and Olives:
(Cooking Light magazine)

1 pound boned, organic skinned chicken thighs, rinsed and patted dry
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I use brown rice flour or whole spelt flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons each salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon capers, drained and minced
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 pound organic Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 3/4-in. cubes
package (8 oz.) thawed frozen artichoke hearts, quartered if large (used one can of plain quartered artichoke hearts, drained)
1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 cup pitted medium green olives (I'd use less next time...too much of a good thing with the capers. Maybe measure out 1/2 a cup, then cut them in half)
Lemon wedges (was perky enough for our tastes without additional lemon)

Cut each chicken thigh into 2 or 3 chunks. In a resealable plastic bag, combine flour, salt, and pepper. Add chicken, seal, and shake to coat.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken (discard excess flour) in a single layer and cook, turning once, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic, capers, and lemon zest and stir just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine and simmer, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add broth, potatoes, and chicken and return to a simmer. Lower heat slightly to maintain simmer, cover, and cook 10 minutes.

Add artichokes to pot and stir. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender when pierced, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in parsley, lemon juice to taste, and olives.

If necessary, season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, with lemon wedges on the side.

Pear Cake with Streusel

Pears have been plentiful in the stores of late and this recipe caught my eye in one of the blog's I read. I added a streusel topping to her recipe and changed out the regular flour for whole wheat pastry flour. A few other changes here and there and I came out with a yummy not-too-sweet cake for us to snack on. Check out the original you might like to just make it as originally written.

Pear Cake:
(adapted from All Buttoned Up's blog)

6 Tbs rolled oats
3 Tbs whole wheat pastry flour (for some reason I'd halved the amount of flour from the fruit crisp recipe's struesel...I might use all 6 Tbs next time)
1/4 cup Sucanat
a good pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 -1 tsp ground ginger (honestly, I can't remember how much I used)
a couple rasps of nutmeg
4 tsp agave nectar
6-8 tsp canola oil (can't remember exactly how much I used for this either :-)

Mix all together then set aside.

Dry bowl:
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I'd like to try a combo of spelt flour and ww pastry flour next time)
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs Sucanat, brown sugar or reg. sugar
couple rasps of nutmeg
~1/2 tsp cinnamon

Wet bowl:
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbs canola oil
1 egg (or egg replacer or 1/4 cup applesauce to make it vegan)
1/2 cup yogurt (regular or soy)
1/3 cup liquid sweetener (I used agave nectar, but recipe said brown rice syrup, maple syrup, or barley malt would work out too)
1 tsp vanilla
1 or 2 pears chopped up (I used 1 1/2 largish Bartletts and didn't bother peeling them)

Mix wet and dry bowls together and pour into a greased 8" by 8" pan. Add streusel to top and bake for ~35-45 minutes at 350 degrees. Do the toothpick test to make sure it's done in the middle.

Let it cool for about 5 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a rack to cool.

Serve alone or with some agave sweetened Fage Greek yogurt. :-)

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Somebody send me a good tried and true recipe that's quasi-healthy already!! The last 2 new recipes I made I won't bother posting about. A vegan carmelized onion dip...way overseasoned and kind of off somehow. A butternut squash soup that's about to go down the disposal. I just can't afford to keep making stuff for the sink to eat! So this is a plea for anyone that has a recipe that never misses. Please for to send it! I'll make it and then rave about it in a post. Thanks!! :-)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pear, Fontina, and Prosciutto Panini

This is one freakin' awesome sammie, that I just can't believe has not found it's way onto my blog before now! The original recipe is from Cooking Light magazine, but from the very first time I made it I mistakenly bought Fontina cheese in lieu of the Pecornino called for. Let's just say it was a brilliant mistake. I'll link to the original recipe, but since it is after all just a sandwich, will write it up as I make it with no set amounts of anything. Serve a wedge (or two!) of this yummy beast with a simple salad or a small bowl of soup and your sweetie will drool his/her thanks.

Pear, Fontina and Prosciutto Panini:

1-2 firm, ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 wedges per pear (I used 1.5 large Bartlett pears and didn't bother peeling them)
a touch of butter
a smidge of agave nectar (or sugar)
1 fresh loaf of ciabatta bread or focaccia, cut in half horizontally
splashes of balsamic vinegar
baby arugula, or trimmed mature...calls for 1 cup, but i tend to use as much as I can get on the sandwich
slices of Fontina cheese
very thin slices prosciutto (about 4 ounces)
fresh ground black pepper

Melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pear to pan, and sprinkle with sugar or agave nectar. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden.

Sprinkle cut sides of bread with vinegar to your taste (orig. recipe calls for 4 tsp). Arrange pear slices, arugula, cheese, and prosciutto evenly over bottom half of bread. Add some freshly ground black pepper and cover with top half of bread. I ended up putting cheese on both sides.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat (I use a grill pan, or if you have a panini machine you can use that of course). Add stuffed loaf to pan. Place a cast-iron or heavy skillet on top of stuffed loaf; press gently to flatten. I use casserole dishes loaded up with all of our silverware. :-)

Cook 4 minutes on each side or until bread is toasted (leave cast-iron skillet on stuffed loaf while it cooks). Cut into nice big slices and mangia!