Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Word About Lentils

Lentils are native to SW Asia and are in the legume family. The lentils that we eat are actually the seeds of the fruit pods. Lentils are widely used in both Greek kitchens and Indian kitchens and commonly also called dhals. Lentils have a high protein content so are commonly used in vegetarian cooking. They are most often used in soups and stews. Lentils (and beans in general) are relatively inexpensive and easy to cook, hence they are a good staple to always have on hand at home.

There are several different types of lentils. If you are looking for a lentil that will cook down and almost disappear (great as a thickener), use red or yellow. For lentils that will hold their shape, use brown or green.

Unlike most other beans, lentils are generally cooked while the dish is made instead of pre-soaking and boiling in advance.

Lentil Sauce Over Pasta

This is a meal that can easily be cooked for lunch or dinner. It is not only kid-friendly, but hearty enough for company (not to mention just plain healthy!). If you don’t have fresh tomatoes on hand, you can substitute 2 lbs of canned tomatoes (whatever you have – crushed, whole, stewed, etc.). If you have some leeks or jicama, you can dice and toss in with the carrots.

I usually double this recipe. If you make it right after breakfast, it will be ready in plenty of time for lunch.

2 T extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 small onion, chopped
1 large carrot, diced (this adds great color to the dish)
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 T garlic powder)
10 large tomatoes, chopped
1-1/2 C water, separated
1-1/2 C green or brown lentils
1 t sea salt
1 t black pepper
1 lb uncooked pasta (not spaghetti or angel hair)
¼ C Parmesan cheese, grated

In a 2 qt. pot, heat the EVOO over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and cook until soft, but not yet browned. Add the carrots and garlic and cook about 10 or 15 more minutes, or until the onions and carrots are lightly browned.

Increase heat and add ½ C tomatoes and 1 C water. Make sure to use a spatula to stir in the caramelization that may be stuck to the bottom of the pot (for this reason you should NOT use a non-stick pot). Cook until the water is boiling.

Add the lentils, rest of the tomatoes, and ½ C water. Bring back to a boil, cover and reduce heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until the lentils are tender. DO NOT ADD the salt until the lentils are soft as this may slow down (or even stop) the softening process. Allow up to 1 hour for this process (the older the lentils are, the longer they take). Remove the lid and cook to desired thickness.

When the lentils are almost done, cook the pasta according to the directions and drain. Serve individual portions of pasta and ladle the lentils over the top. Sprinkle the grated cheese over each portion.

Timesaving Notes:

From time to time I will cook some pasta al dente, drain, then freeze it. When I want to use it I just pop it in a pot of boiling water for about 60 seconds and it is ready to go.

You may wish to cook the lentils in advance and then warm to serve. If you do this you may need to add a bit more water so it doesn’t become paste-like.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Indonesian Yellow Rice

This recipe is similar to what Indonesians call “Nasi Kuning

3 C basmati rice, uncooked
2 T turmeric powder
2 Coconut milk – fresh is great but you may have to settle for canned
3 cups water
1 bayleaf
2 kaffir lime leaves (this can easily be found in Asian markets)
1 T fresh lemongrass, crushed or 2 T dried
1 teaspoon sea salt

Put all ingredients in a heavy pot. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, stirring occasionally until the rice is done (about 20 - 25 minutes). If it seems too dry, add 1/2 cup water. Remove from heat and let sit, covered for 5 minutes. Stir well and put in serving dish.

Remove bayleaf and Kaffir lime leaves before serving.


If you have a rice cooker, put in all ingredients, and cook as per instructions (usually 20 – 25 minutes). Check at the end of the cooking time – you may need to add another 5 minutes or so as basmati rice sometimes takes longer to cook. If it seems too dry at the end of the cooking time, immediately add another ½ C water, cover and let sit for 5 minutes.

Spicy Hummus

I really enjoy eating hummus. For those of you who don't know what it is and think it might be something strange, just think of it as a type of bean dip (now that sounds normal, right?)

I make many combinations (usually depends on what I have in the house at any given time). This is a spicy version (but not hot pepper type spicy).

2 C garbanzo beans (chickpeas), canned or prepared dried
2 T cashews, soaked in water overnight
2 T sesame tahini
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/3 C extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1/4 C lemon juice
1 t black pepper
1 t coriander
1 t cumin
1 t fennel seed
1/4 t paprika
1/4 t cayenne pepper
3 T water

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until it tastes smooth (it looks smooth before it tastes smooth). If mixture appears to be too thick, add 1 teaspoon water at a time until the desired consistency is obtained.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Spiced Nuts (not sweet)

Here are a couple different recipes I use for spiced nuts. The preparation instructions are the same for both ingredient lists and you can choose to use EITHER the microwave instructions or the oven instructions.

I am allergic to almonds so I usually use pecans or walnuts, but you are free to use whatever whole nuts (or pecan/walnut halves) you wish.

Nuts that would work well include pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, and almonds. The nuts should be stored in an airtight container after they have cooled.

Ingredient list #1:

1/2 C butter
4 C nuts
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T soy sauce
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground allspice
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t garlic powder

Ingredient list #2:

1/2 C butter
4 C nuts
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t chili powder
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4 t cayenne pepper

Oven (my preferred method):

Preheat the oven to 300°. If you are unsure of the accuracy of your oven temperature, it is better to err on the side of a lower temperature than a higher temperature. You want the nuts toasted, but not too browned.

In a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan, melt the butter and stir in the Worcestershire Sauce and then the nuts until well-coated. Bake the nut mixture until it is toasted, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Remove the nuts from the oven and sprinkle the mixture evenly with the dry ingredients. Toss until well mixed


In a 2-quart microwave safe dish (make sure it isn't too wide for your microwave), melt the butter and stir in nuts. Mix well and microwave on high for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce, and stir well to coat. Microwave for another 30 seconds. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the nuts and stir again.

Note: Because microwaves have different power levels, make sure that you are keeping an eye on the mixture. If your microwave is a high-powered one, you may wish to lower the temp to a lower power setting. You don't want your spiced nuts to be overcooked (or even burned).

After nuts have cooled:

Store in a tightly sealed container. I usually put a folded paper towel in the bottom to absorb any extra butter.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Homemade Baking Powder

Baking powder is an essential ingredient for many recipes but, unfortunately, most brands contain sodium aluminum sulfate. This is a quick and easy way to make your own aluminum-free baking powder.

1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon corn starch (optional, but recommended if you are going to store it)

Combine the ingredients well.

Yield: One tablespoon of baking powder.

To store baking powder: Add a teaspoon of corn starch to the mixture, and stir. This will absorb any moisture from the air, and prevent the baking powder from reacting before you need it. Store in an air-tight container.

Crockpot Taco Pasta Soup (Meat-free)

12/7/2008: Whoops - I forgot to add the pasta to the ingredient list! Recipe updated and comment added at end of recipe.

Crockpots are an awesome invention. When we have traveled out of town, I take one along to make meals in the hotel room (although you do need to choose meals that don't require sautéing, precooking of anything, or browning of meat).

This is a quick and easy (not to mention delicious) meal.

1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
3 C vegetable broth (can substitute beef broth)
2 C canned or prepared black beans
3 C tomatoes, diced (with liquid)
1 box (13 - 16 oz) pasta, uncooked
1/4 C vinegar
2 C water
1-1/2 C sweet corn kernels
2 T jalapeño peppers (remove seeds for less heat)
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 T cilantro (optional)
2 T chili powder
1 T ground cumin
1/2 C cheddar cheese, grated
sour cream (optional)

Sauté onions and garlic in oil . Combine all ingredients except cheese and sour cream. Cook on low 2-3 hours, or until pasta is cooked.

Serve in bowls, top with sprinkling of cheese, and add a dollop of sour cream.

Upate: 12/7/2008. One caution is that if you don't have a family big enough to eat it at one sitting you may have a problem with overcooked pasta. A modification to avoid this is to cook the pasta separately in the 4 C of the liquids (your choice) and add 1 cup of either broth or water to the total liquid. When draining the pasta, save the drained liquid and add to the soup. Serve the soup over the cooked pasta.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Green Bean with Wild Rice Casserole

I am not really a fan of green bean casserole but my kids love it. I do like rice and we always have some in the house. I made this casserole this weekend using things I had on hand. A little twist on the traditional, but I think it turned out great.

3 cans green beans, drained
1 can Cream of Celery soup
1 C wild rice
1-1/2 C chicken broth
1 T minced garlic
1/4 C dried milk
1 C Stuffing Mix

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Pour green beans in 2 quart casserole dish.

In a separate bowl mix together the soup, rice, chicken broth, minced garlic and dried milk. Add to the green beans and stir together.

Sprinkle the stuffing mix over the top and cover casserole with aluminum foil (or use cover of casserole dish if it has one).

Cook for 1 hour, removing the cover for the last 10 minutes to allow the stuffing mix to get slightly crispy. Let rest out of oven for 5 minutes before serving. Casserole will thicken slightly when cooling.


You may take out the dried milk but it does help add a creamy flavor as well as some calcium. If you want to use fresh milk or cream, substitute part of the chicken broth 1:1.

If you wanted to use fresh or frozen green beans, substitute 1-1/2 C beans for each can.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sweet / Spicy Basmati Rice

2 T extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 T mustard seed
1/2 C minced onion
1 T grated fresh ginger
1 small hot pepper, seeded and minced
2 C uncooked basmati rice (can substitute brown rice)
1 t sea salt
4 small, firm figs, diced
4 C water

Put EVOO in a skillet or pot over medium heat. Add mustard seed, onion, ginger, and hot pepper. Cook until onion softens and becomes slightly transluscent. Add rice and stir to keep rice from clumping. Add salt, figs, and 3-1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low. Stir, then cover and cook for 15 minutes. Turn heat off, remove from heat (keeping covered), and allow to finish cooking another 10 minutes.

Yield: 4-6 servings

If you use brown rice, use 1/4 C less water


Substitute butter for the EVOO.

Choose the variety of hot pepper according to your taste. Ex: Use a banana pepper for a more mild flavor, jalapeño for medium and habanero pepper for hot.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rice in Curry Sauce

1/2 cup basmati or brown rice
1/2 C Green Mung Beans (also known as Chinese Bean Sprouts), soaked overnight or sprouted
1 clove garlic grated or minced (or mashed with a mortar and pestle)
1/2 small onion, chopped in fine bits
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 T curry powder
1 lb. carrots
1/2 small beet
1 stalk celery
1/4 C flax seed, soaked overnight

1. Soak rice in a large bowl of water overnight (at least 12 hours). Drain. Mix in chopped mung beans and place in bowl for flavors to "meld" together.

2. In a small glass or ceramic bowl place onion and garlic. Drizzle olive oil just to over and let soak.

3. In a separate glass or ceramic bowl mix curry powder with just enough olive oil to make into a paste.

4. To make the curry sauce, juice the beet, carrots, celery and flax seed. Add curry paste from step 3 to juice and mix well. Pour curry sauce into a serving bowl.

    To serve take an empty bowl and place some rice in the center. Spoon some onion/garlic mixture on one side and spoon some curry sauce on the other. As you eat the rice you can decide how much of each flavor you want - you can enjoy 3 different flavors (each one separately and one "together" flavor).

    Take time to enjoy the flavors. It would be especially interesting to serve the sauces from small oriental bowls and the rice in a larger bowl.

    Makes 1 serving. Multiply recipe according to the number of servings you wish.


    If you have other seasoning greens that you would like to add, chop in small pieces and stir together with the onion and garlic in step 2.

    The flax seed is used as a thickening agent. You could substitute Ipomoea aquatica, amaranth leaves or Malabar spinach. Any of these may be marketed as "Chinese Spinach".

      Sunday, November 16, 2008

      Italian Seasoning Mix

      This mix is great to use to add not only for sauces, but for pizza dough, italian bread dough (or bread sticks), meatballs and meatloaf. If you have any other suggestions as to how you might use this combination, please feel free to post them!

      Again I mentioned in a previous post, if you are not using these ingredients immediately, you need to make sure the spices are all dried completely before closing in container.

      1/3 C oregano leaves
      1 T garlic powder
      2 t onion salt
      1/3 C basil leaves
      1 t crushed rosemary
      1/4 C thyme leaves

      Combine all ingredients and store in a tightly closed container. Store in a cool, dry place.

      Makes about 1 cup of seasoning mix

      Spaghetti Sauce Mix

      When I get onions, green peppers and garlic at the farmer's market for a good price, I try to take a bunch, chop them up small, and dehydrate them. I use my FoodSaver jars for the green pepper and garlic and FoodSaver bags for the onions (larger bag, cut opening and re-seal each time I need some). If you have an herb garden, you can dehydrate the spices or, in the alternative, purchase them already dried.

      NOTE: Any stored mix must use DRY ingredients. If there is moisture present it may allow mold to grow. . . of course, you can feel free to make this fresh and use it right away!

      This would also make a nice gift - I mean, who doesn't like and eat spaghetti sauce on and in "stuff"?! Prepare some and place in a decorated jar and add a hang tag with the preparation instructions.

      1/4 C minced onion
      1/4 C parsley flakes
      1/4 C cornstarch
      1 T. green pepper flakes
      1 T. sea salt
      1 t. minced garlic
      1/2 t. pepper (fresh ground yields the best flavor)
      1 T. dehydrated cane juice
      1 T rosemary (chopped or ground - whole leaves don't give as much flavor)
      1 T thyme
      1 T oregano
      1 T parsley

      Combine all ingredients together and store!. If you are not storing in an air tight container, use within 6 months for freshest taste (as with any other spices you might have).

      Makes almost 1-1/2 cups of mix.

      To make spaghetti sauce:

      Brown 1 lb. lean ground beef or ground turkey in a large skillet over medium heat and drain well. Add a 16 oz. can of tomato sauce, a 6 oz. can of tomato paste, 2-3/4 cups V-8 juice, tomato juice or water, and 1/3 cup seasoning mix. Reduce heat and simmer spaghetti sauce for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over your favorite pasta or use in mom's lasagna recipe (all mom's have one, don't they?).

      Makes 4 servings of spaghetti - perhaps 6 servings if you have young children. ;-)

      Friday, November 14, 2008

      Black Beans and Rice Casserole

      As I mentioned in a previous post, when I make rice I always make extra and freeze it. Since rice isn't generally a nutritious item, I usually try to make sure it is either brown rice or basmati rice.

      This is a quick and easy casserole dish that would be great to bring to a pot luck dinner.

      3 cups cooked rice
      1 medium onion, finely diced
      1 T extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
      4 garlic cloves, either smashed or put through garlic press (I put garlic in almost everything!)
      1 C water
      1 T chili powder
      1 T ground cumin
      3 pickled banana peppers or pickled jalapeño peppers, finely minced (add some fresh if you like it hotter)
      3 large tomatoes, chopped (or 1 can crushed tomatoes)
      3 C black beans (2 cans or soft-cooked)
      2 C shredded cheese (your choice)

      Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 2 quart casserole dish with non-stick spray.

      In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent and slightly caramelized. Add 1 C water and stir to remove the caramelized flavor from the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the spice and stir until well mixed.

      Add peppers and tomatoes and stir. Add the black beans and stir to incorporate all the seasonings together. Stir in the rice until everything is mixed evenly.

      Pour ingredients in casserole dish. Add cheese to top and bake for 35 minutes.

      Note: It is best NOT to use a non-stick pan because they inhibit the ability of the onions to properly caramelize on the bottom of the pan.

      • If you are looking for a shortcut, you can substitute the peppers and tomatoes with a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes and chilies. There are several different varieties - just choose a hotness that suits your family. Add the can WITH the juice
      • If you wish to add some beef or chopped chicken to this dish, add the cooked meat at the same time you add the peppers and tomatoes.
      • Kernel corn would be a nice addition to this casserole - add when you stir in the rice

      Thursday, November 13, 2008

      Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

      1 C hot tap water
      2 C dehydrated cane juice
      2 C dry milk powder
      6 T melted butter

      Pour hot water into a blender. Add the dehydrated cane juice, dry milk powder and butter. Blend for 1 minute on a medium=high setting. The mix starts out thin but thickens within an hour.

      Makes the equivalent of two cans or about 3 cups.

      This recipe will work in all your sweetened condensed milk recipes.

      Homemade Cool Whip

      1 t unflavored gelatin
      2 t cold water
      3 t boiling water
      1/2 C ice water
      1/2 C nonfat dry milk
      3 T dehydrated cane juice (buzz in blender for a few seconds)
      3 T vegetable oil (probably don't want to use EVOO because of the strong flavor)

      Chill a small mixing bowl (metal is probably best). In a separate small bowl, Soften gelatin with 2 teaspoons cold water, then add boiling water, stirring until gelatin is completely dissolved.

      Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes. Place ice water & dry milk in the chilled bowl. Beat at high speed until mixture forms stiff peaks. Add cane juice, still beating, then oil and gelatin. Place in freezer about 15 minutes then transfer to refrigerator until ready for use. Stir before using to retain creamy texture. Makes 2 cups.

      Note: If it is important to you that this be bright white, you might want to use organic sugar because dehydrated cane juice hasn't been bleached.

      For a chocolate version, melt 2 squares semisweet chocolate. Cool slightly. Mix in together with the oil and gelatin. A quick and easy alternative, although it is less healthy, is to add 2 T sweetened cocoa powder (the kind you stir in to make chocolate milk).

      Wednesday, November 12, 2008

      Poultry Seasoning Mix

      This seasoning mix is great to use for both turkey and chicken as well as to use in stuffing.

      3 T thyme
      2 T marjoram
      2 T rosemary
      1 T sage
      1 T savory (preferably winter savory)
      1 T celery seed
      1/2 t oregano
      1/2 t ground allspice
      1/4 t fresh ground pepper

      If you are using these as a mix, make sure that any fresh herbs have been dehydrated so they don't mold in the sealed container. You can, of course (and it's best), use the fresh herb/spice if you are using the seasoning immediately.'

      If I am going to use it for stuffing, I increase the amount of rosemary, celery seed, and sage (because I really like those flavors for stuffing).

      I usually triple this recipe and use FoodSaver bags to keep it fresh. I put it in a long rectangular pouch and cut off only a small amount each time I use it and reseal it in the same bag.

      Stuffing Mix

      I bake fresh bread and it gets stale in a relatively short period of time. In order not to waste the bread, I cut up some of the bread in cubes and toss in the freezer. It is great to use when you need bread crumbs (just toss in the VitaMix using the dry container). when you make stuffing, bread pudding or meatloaf.

      3 T celery flakes
      1 T parsley
      1 T dried minced onion
      2 t chicken bouillon granules (or 2 crumbled cubes)
      1/2 t poultry seasoning
      1/2 t sage

      If you are not using this immediately, make sure to use dried/dehydrated spices.

      Measure all ingredients into a zip bag or jar and seal. I use a FoodSaver bag (you can cut them down the middle and then seal) to make smaller bags.

      Make a tag to attach to jar/bag:

      Bring the following items to boil:

      1 cup water
      2 tablespoons butter

      Reduce heat and add 3-1/2 cups bread cubes (dry in low oven if using fresh, soft bread). Add spices and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Fluff with a fork before serving.

      If you want to make this as a mix to give (or to prepare ahead for yourself) you can dry the bread in a low oven and package it with the spices - just make sure to modify the instructions accordingly. Just make sure there is no moisture left because you don't want the bread to mold in the package.

      Cinnamon Muffins

      2 C Fresh milled Soft White Wheat Flour
      1 C powdered milk
      1 T baking powder
      3 T cinnamon
      2 eggs, slightly whisked in bowl
      1 t vanilla
      1-1/2 C water
      1/2 C softened butter
      1/2 C honey

      Spray muffin stone with non-stick spray. Preheat oven to 400° F oven.

      Add dry ingredients and mix together well. Add liquid ingredients and stir until fully moistened.

      Spoon into muffin cups. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes 12 large muffins.

      Optional: sprinkle a little dehydrated cane juice over the top before baking.

      Sunday, November 9, 2008

      Ezekiel Bread

      Note: This is NOT a sprouted bread like the type you see in the freezer section of some stores (although I'm still working on a recipe for one- just haven't found the right combination. . .yet).

      This recipe makes for a hearty and moist (but not crusty) bread. The flavor is wonderful - especially great when fresh from the oven - and is good as is, with a little butter or honey and/or toasted.

      Preparation requires either a grain mill or a VitaMix with a dry container.

      Grease 3 standard-size loaf pans or a standard-size loaf pan and a rectangular casserole dish.

      Combine the following fresh milled whole grains and beans:

      2-1/2 cups hard red or hard white wheat
      1-1/2 cups spelt
      1/2 cup barley
      1/4 cup millet
      1/4 cup lentils
      2 Tbs. great northern beans
      2 Tbs. kidney beans
      2 Tbs. pinto beans

      Place flour in large mixer bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, stir together the following until the butter is liquid:

      4 cups very warm (not hot) water
      1-1/4 cup honey
      1/2 cup softened butter

      Add liquids to the dry ingredients in the large bowl and add the following:

      2 t sea salt
      2 T yeast

      Stir until well mixed, about 10 minutes. This is a batter type bread and will not form a smooth ball. I use an Electrolux DLX (Assistent) mixer with the roller and set it at 10 minutes on medium-low speed.

      Pour dough into greased pans. Let rise in a warm place for one hour or until the dough is almost to the top of the pan. If it rises too much it will overflow the pan while baking.

      Bake at 350° F pre-heated oven for 45 minutes if loaf pans and 35 minutes for casserole dish.

      You can substitute rye instead of spelt, but Biblically spelt was used (see Ezekiel 4:9)

      Saturday, November 8, 2008

      Homemade Corn Chips

      I grew up in northern Illinois and not only were there corn fields everywhere, we grew sweet corn in a full acre of our garden. When I went to college at Northern Illinois University, I was surrounded by Dekalb Ag cornfields. I enjoy corn so much there have been many times I chose to have nothing but corn to eat for a meal. Unfortunately I live in Florida now and the fresh sweet corn here is akin what we used to feed animals - and not very tasty. I guess you could say that I was spoiled by the "good stuff". A sub-tropical climate isn't very conducive for producing very good sweet corn!

      I'm not a big fan of snacks, but these are tasty and easy to make. I usually have the large food-service size cans on hand, but these probably taste a little better when you are using fresh or frozen corn.

      4 c. sweet corn kernels
      1/2 t. garlic powder

      Chop corn in food processor until finely chopped. Add garlic powder (and other ingredients if you wish) and process until well combined.

      Spread about 1/8" thick on dehydrator tray. If you wish, you can sprinkle small amount of sea salt over mixture. Score in small rectangular pieces (or preferred shape).

      Dehydrate about 5 hours, or to desired crispness. Store in an air tight container.

      Options to add to mixture:

      • 1 teaspoon tomato powder
      • 1 t chili powder
      • 1 T fresh lime juice

      These also make a great option to serve with soup instead of using crackers.

      Note: If you are using frozen corn, make sure that it is thawed and well-drained.

      I will post a recipe here later using cornmeal, but this is a fresher, living foods version.

      Friday, November 7, 2008

      Substitutions for Alcoholic Beverages in Recipes

      When making substitutions, make sure to consider the sweetness of the dish and find something comparable.

      White Wine
      Apple juice or carrot juice.
      Vegetable stock or Chicken stock straight or with a little white wine vinegar
      1/2 cup rice vinegar and 1 tablespoon white grape juice.

      Red Wine
      1/2 cup of grape juice with 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar.
      1/2 cup water and 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.
      Beef stock or chicken stock straight or with a little red wine vinegar.

      Ginger ale, sparkling grape juice.

      Apple juice, peach juice, white grape juice, pear juice.

      Orange, peach or pear juice.

      Orange Liqueur
      Frozen orange juice concentrate.

      Chicken broth, beef broth, ginger ale.

      Monday, November 3, 2008

      Quinoa Salad

      For the last couple of years I have wanted to try Quinoa, but never had (not really sure why). I had been reading about the nutritional value of Quinoa and thought that it would make a nice addition to our diet. I finally bought a 38 lb (6 gallon) bucket of organic Quinoa in my last grain order.

      I have found that Quinoa is a tasty alternative to rice, but since it is far more nutritious, I think I will be experimenting with it more and more.

      2 C quinoa
      1/2 C toasted pine nuts (just put in the oven at a low temp for about 10 min) and finely chopped
      1/4 C minced scallions (could substitute onion, but the green is a visually pleasing choice)
      1/4 C craisins, soaked in warm water then drained (could use raisins, dates or currants)
      1/4 C apple cider vinegar (a raspberry or other fruit vinegar would also work well)
      1/4 C Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

      Boil 4 cups of water, add Quinoa and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Drain in a strainer (Quinoa is smaller than rice so it can't have large holes) without rinsing. Put in bowl and let cool slightly. If you are making a double or larger batch, you may wish to spread out on a baking sheet to cool so that it doesn't continue to cook.

      Add the rest of the ingredients and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (don't need much - just adjust for your taste).

      This can be served as a side dish or under a chicken/fish entrée. It would probably also make a fairly healthy evening snack!

      Sunday, November 2, 2008

      Garlic is Good!

      A diet rich in onions, garlic, and other alliums may lower risk of several kinds of cancer.

      American Journal of Clinical Nutrition research review

      Sunday, October 26, 2008

      Orange Jicama Salad

      Just made this for a Whole Foods Meetup I went to last night. It appears that it was liked by all (except the person who didn't like cilantro).

      3 cloves garlic
      1/2 t sea salt
      Juice from 2 limes
      6 T extra virgin olive oil
      1/2 t dehydrated cane juice
      1/2 t cracked pepper
      1 small onion, minced

      8 naval oranges
      1 lb jicama
      1/2 c packed cilantro
      1/2 c sliced feta cheese or fresh goat's cheese
      1/3 c sunflower seeds

      Mince the garlic and mash with the salt. Whisk together rest of dressing ingredients. Let sit for at least 1 hr at room temperature to allow onion to take on flavor of ingredients.

      Cut oranges to make "chunks" of orange pieces (no pith). Cut jicama into small "matchbook" slices. Chill.

      Just before serving place all salad ingredients in bowl, whisk dressing final time and toss together.

      Wednesday, October 22, 2008

      Making Powdered Sugar

      If you have a blender, you never need to buy powdered sugar again. Just "buzz" regular sugar (or dehydrated cane juice) for a few seconds and "poof!" instant powdered sugar.

      Monday, October 20, 2008

      Veggie Burger Trials Begin

      I have ideas of many different recipes in my head - from desserts to main dishes to soups. One thing I will be experimenting on over the next few weeks are various veggie burgers. I not only want to come up with ones I like, I want to find ones my kids will like PLUS I want to find ones that will freeze well.

      I have been a big fan of bulk cooking and freezing so that ready made meals are waiting in the freezer. I figure that, based on the ingredients used, these will lend themselves very well to freezing.

      So. . .things I will be experimenting with include various types of beans (kidney, black, lentils, garbanzo), carrots, cornmeal, potatoes, onions and rolled oats. I probably will experiment with tofu too, but I don't think you can freeze tofu (can you?). None of us like mushrooms so I know I won't experiment with those. Only my daughter likes olives, but I don't think I'll experiment with them either.

      If you would like to put comments of what you like best - please do! I'm hoping to come up with 3 or 4 really good combinations when I'm done experimenting.

      Friday, October 17, 2008

      Black Bean, Corn and Chorizo Soup

      I haven't yet tried this recipe, but was trying to think of a combination of ingredients to put together for a soup that would work well with tacos. I may add a little chili powder - undecided about that yet. Instead of the tomato sauce, I will probably use some of the stewed tomatoes I canned earlier this summer. I will be making this for someone in a little over a week - I'll update how they liked it.

      Update 10/31/2008: Tried it and I think it came out great. Waiting to hear their feedback. I did add 2 T of chili powder (modifying the recipe now). Instead of the banana peppers I used 2 seeded fresh jalapenos (forgot to put on disposable gloves before I did and my fingers were burning all afternoon!) and a dozen or so slices of pickled jalapenos. I used 2 quart jars of stewed tomatoes I canned instead of the cans of tomato sauce.

      If you try this, please let me know it worked for you. I will be putting it in a crockpot instead of simmering for the last 30 minutes. This way the soup is ready when they are ready to eat - even if it is 3 or 4 hours later.

      1-1/2 lbs chorizo sausage
      2 large carrots, diced small
      1 large onion, diced small
      4 banana peppers, minced
      7 cups chicken or turkey broth, strained (can substitute canned broth)
      1 lb (dried weight) soft-cooked black beans or 3 cans
      2 lbs kernel corn
      2 15-oz can tomato sauce
      1 T ground cumin
      Juice of 2 limes

      In a frying pan, combine sausage with casings removed (the sausage I bought didn't have a casing), carrots, peppers, and onion. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until the sausage is browned and crumbled in small pieces. Drain excess grease from sausage (I blotted a couple of paper towels over the top to absorb the grease)..

      Put meat mixture in a pot and stir in broth, beans, corn, tomato sauce, ground cumin, and lime juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for a half hour, stirring from time to time.

      Garnish with sour cream and cheese.

      Optional: Garnish with diced scallions.

      If you prefer a little more heat, you may substitute the banana peppers with 2 or 3 seeded jalapeño peppers.

      Many times I cook chicken (and every time I cook turkey) I cook the bones with some meat on it together with some veggies to make my own broth. I strain it and freeze it for future use.

      Cooking Dried Black Beans

      Cooking with dried beans is easy and economical. Black beans can be used in so many recipes that it pays to always have them on hand. If you aren't successful with having tender beans, it may be because the dried beans you have aren't fresh. DO NOT ADD ANY SALT! Salt and tomatoes will cause the softening process to stop.

      This method can be also be used when cooking chickpeas/garbanzo beans and kidney beans.

      1 lb. dried black beans
      1 quart water

      Soak beans overnight. Rinse well. Put beans in a large pot or Dutch oven; cover with cold water and boil 1 hour. Skim any foam that may appear on the top. Rinse. They are now ready to use in your recipes.

      Note: If you are making black beans and rice you may wish to omit the last rinse and use that water.

      Thursday, October 16, 2008

      Fried Rice

      Whenever I cook rice, I always make a bunch extra and freeze it. Rice is very versatile to use in many recipes or to toss in soup. This is a great recipe to whip together if you want something quick and light. If you keep peas and carrots in the freezer it makes it that much quicker.

      4 T Extra virgin olive oil
      1/4 C finely chopped onion
      2 C basmati rice
      1 C peas
      1 C carrots, finely diced
      3 L eggs, beaten
      4 T soy sauce

      Heat oil over high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent and slightly browned. Add carrots and rice and cook until rice is golden, about 4 minutes. Add peas and toss to combine. Push to side. Add eggs and scramble well. Mix eggs into rice mixture. Stir in soy sauce.

      For a little variety in taste, you might want to try peanut oil of instead of the EVOO.

      Makes 2-4 servings.

      Pumpkin Roll

      The fall is the perfect time to take advantage of the easy availability of pumpkins - they are both nutritious and tasty. I am experimenting with recipes using pumpkin pureé and grated pumpkin. Each year I try to cook up about 5 pumpkins (I use the regular large ones) and freeze some pureé to use over the next several months. Based on what I have done so far, I would estimate that I will probably do around 10 this year.

      3 eggs
      2/3 C honey
      1 C pumpkin pureé
      1 t lemon juice
      1-1/2 C soft white wheat flour (or 1/2 hard wheat and 1/2 oat)
      1 T baking powder
      2 t cinnamon
      1 t nutmeg
      1 t ginger
      1/2 t salt
      1/4 C Sucanat® w/ honey (to sprinkle on towel before rolling), buzz briefly in VitaMix for fine crystals (making powdered Sucanat)


      1/2 C honey
      4 T butter
      6 oz cream cheese, softened
      1 t vanilla

      Preheat oven to 375°F. Gently scramble eggs; gradually add the honey. Add pumpkin and lemon juice. Mix all dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Turn mixer to the slowest setting. Add the dry ingredients slowly. Spread evenly on a stone sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 15 minutes. Do not overcook! Turn out on a towel sprinkled with the powdered Sucanat. Roll the towel up from short end. Cool.

      Cream together the filling ingredients. Caution: don't overdo it! Chill the filling while the rolled cake is setting.

      Unroll cake and spread with filling. Roll again without the towel. Cover in plastic and chill.

      When completely chilled, serve by cutting in pinwheel slices.

      Makes about 10 slices.

      If you pureé your own pumpkin and cook it by steaming instead of baking the pumpkin, you may need to add a little bit more flour. If you are using frozen pumpkin pureé you also may need to add a bit more flour.

      Note: Above reflects modified recipe - 10/22/2008

      Wednesday, October 15, 2008

      Citrus, mango and cranberry relish

      Every fall I try something new with fresh cranberries since I'm always able to find them at a good price. I'm in Florida so I thought something with citrus and mangos would be appropriate.

      The Sucanat® (dehydrated cane juice) has a naturally high molasses content so I am going to try some Sucanat® with honey (dehydrated cane juice w/molasses pulled out and honey added) - I think the molasses flavor would be too strong to go solely with regular Sucanat®.

      I haven't yet tried this, but based on other recipes I have made several times using orange juice, I think this should work out great!

      3 C fresh cranberries
      1/2 C Sucanat®
      1/4 C Sucanat® w/honey
      1/2 C orange flesh (should be about 2 oranges - remove pithy part, need the zest - see below)
      1/4 C lemon flesh (should be about 1 lemon - remove pithy part, need the zest - see below)
      1 large mango, peeled and chopped
      3/4 C red onion, chopped small
      zest from 2 oranges, 1 lemon and 1 lime
      Juice from 1 lime

      In a heavy saucepan, cook the cranberries and cane juices, together with the flesh from the lemons and oranges, and stir until the mixture thickens and the cranberries begin to split open. Lower the heat and add the mango, onion and lime juice, and simmer occasionally for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in zest. Chill and serve.

      Note: The grain co-op I am in has switched from Sucanat® to Savannah Gold®. There shouldn't be any difference except that the Savannah Gold® Molasses Granules is the same as Sucanat® and the Savannah Gold® Honey Granules is the same as Sucanat® w/honey.

      Tuesday, October 14, 2008

      Chocolate Mint Sandwich Cookies

      I use dehydrated cane juice w/honey and "fluff" it in my VitaMix instead of buying powdered sugar. It isn't as white (but it isn't chemically processed or bleached).

      1 cup softened butter
      1 cup powdered sugar
      1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
      1 cup cocoa powder
      1 egg white
      3/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt (or you can toss regular sea salt in the VitaMix for a few seconds)
      1-1/2 cups hard white wheat flour (or combo of hard white wheat and oat flour)

      Cream filling

      2+ cups powdered sugar, sifted for silkiness
      10 - 15 drops peppermint extract
      1/4 cup water

      Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.

      Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and continue to cream, scraping the sides of the bowl a time or two. Stir in the vanilla extract, cocoa powder, egg white, and salt and mix until the batter is smooth and creamy and the consistency of a thick frosting. Add the flour and mix just until the batter is no longer dusty looking (it still might be somewhat crumbly).

      Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, form it into a ball, and knead it slightly - until smooth. Separate into two 1" thick patties and place, covered, in the freezer to chill.

      Remove one patty at a time from the freezer. On a well-floured surface roll it out very thin - about 1/8" thick. Stamp out cookies in whatever shape you like. Place on pre-heated baking sheets, sprayed with non-stick spray, and bake for 7-10 minutes, depending on the size of your cookie.

      Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.

      Filling: Using a mixer, whisk together the sugar and water until nice and fluffy. The filling should be thick, but not runny. Add small amounts of powdered sugar at a time to thicken and add a few drops of water at a time to thin. Whisk in the peppermint extract a bit at a time, until you are satisfied with the taste (don't make too strong).

      Take the cooled cookies, put on some filling and cover with a second cookie.

      Makes about 3 dozen 1-1/2" sandwich cookies.

      Black Bean Brownies

      These are so awesome! These are moist and chocolaty (is that a word?). You'd never know they were made with beans. To make a mint-chocolate version, replace the vanilla extract with peppermint extract.

      4 oz squares unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate
      1 C softened butter
      2 C canned or soft-cooked black beans
      2 T vanilla extract
      1-1/2 T instant coffee granules
      1/4 t sea salt
      3 eggs
      1½ C honey
      1 C mini chocolate chips (or small chopped chocolate pieces)

      Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and lightly spray with non-stick spray.

      Melt the chocolate with the butter in microwave-safe bowl, making sure not to scorch the chocolate, stirring every 20 seconds or so until melted. Place black beans, vanilla extract, and ONLY 2 T of the melted chocolate mixture in food processor until beans are a paste-like consistency.

      In a separate bowl stir the remaining melted chocolate mixture, instant coffee, and salt. Mix well and set aside. In a third bowl, beat the eggs almost until soft peaks form. Add the honey just until incorporated.

      Add the mixture from the food processor to the chocolate and coffee mixture and stir until blended well. Add the egg mixture and mix together well. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

      Bake for 35 minutes or until the brownies are set. Let cool in the pan completely before cutting into squares. They set up best (and taste best!) if refrigerated.

      Makes 3 dozen brownies

      You can replace the honey with agave nectar.
      You can add toffee pieces at the same time as (or in place of) the chocolate chips

      Wednesday, October 8, 2008

      Basic Homemade Crackers

      Be creative - top with freshly grated cheese, artisan salts, cornmeal, dusting of fav spice blend, seeds, or a wash of your favorite flavored or infused oil.

      Note: I'm working on a living foods variation that is "cooked" in a food dehydrator.

      1-1/2 C hard white wheat flour
      1 C Spelt or Kamut® Flour (or additional wheat flour)
      * ½ C Flax Seed
      * 1 t sea salt
      1 C warm water
      1/3 C extra virgin olive oil

      Whisk together the flours, flax seed, and salt. Add the water and olive oil. Using the roller attachment on the Electrolux DLX (or a mixer with a dough hook), mix the dough at medium speed for about 5 - 7 minutes. In the alternative, mix and knead by hand on a floured countertop. The dough should be just a bit tacky - not too dry, not too sticky to work with. Add a bit more flour or water until it is the right consistency.

      Shape the dough into a large ball then break into twelve equal-sized pieces. Gentry rub each piece with a bit of olive oil, shape into a small ball and place on a plate. Cover with a clean dishtowel or plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 - 60 minutes.

      While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 450° F. If using a stone, place in oven to heat.

      When dough is done resting, flatten one dough ball. Using a rolling pin, shape into a flat strip of dough. Cut into sizes that you would like using a pizza cutter - or for even more fun, use cookie cutters.

      Set dough on a floured or cornmeal dusted parchment-lined baking sheet, poke each cracker with the tines of a fork to prevent puffing, add any extra toppings, and slide parchment into the oven (onto the stone). Repeat the process for the remaining dough balls, baking in small batches. Bake until deeply golden, and let cool before eating.

      Makes a dozen extra large crackers, or any number of smaller ones.

      * Toss in the VitaMix for a few seconds, finely grind in coffee grinder, or crush with mortar and pestle

      Rosemary Garlic Toasts

      Super easy if you don't have time to make homemade crackers. . .

      (2) mini loaves of whole wheat bread, cut into thin slices
      4 cloves garlic, finely minced
      2 T sea salt
      2 T fresh rosemary, crushed
      1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

      Heat oven to 350°F.

      Mix garlic, sea salt, rosemary and EVOO together in a shallow bowl that is wide enough to accommodate the bread slices. Dip bread in mixture and spread the seasoning mixture over the bread with your fingers to distribute as evenly as possible. Spread ingredients on stone. Sprinkle the remaining seasoning mixture on top of the bread.

      Bake for 10-20 minutes until nicely browned.

      This is a great recipe to double, triple, or more and bring to your next gathering. Great with a hummus or lentil paté - or just as a snack!

      Lentil Walnut Paté

      I like hummus but from time to time I like a little change. . . sometimes I don't want the crunch of the walnuts so I leave them out.

      2 cups dried lentils (try red lentils for a change)
      1 2-inch piece of wakame (seaweed - a kind of kelp)
      4 cups water
      1 T tamari (a dark and rich type of soy sauce)
      1 tsp. sea salt
      1 T extra virgin olive oil
      1 onion, finely diced
      3 cloves garlic, minced
      1 t basil (fresh is best)
      1 1/2 cups walnut pieces, lightly roasted
      1/4 cup parsley, minced
      2 Tbl. umeboshi plum vinegar (a tangy, slightly salty vinegar)
      2 Tbl. balsamic vinegar

      Place lentils and wakame with water in a pot and boil for 10 minutes on medium heat, uncovered. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 10-20 minutes longer, or until lentils are creamy. Season with tamari and sea salt. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring, until soft, adding the basil during the last minute of cooking. Put all ingredients into food processor (or use immersion blender) and blend until smooth.

      Serve with homemade crackers .