Thursday, December 10, 2015

Best salad ever

I self-destruct at Christmas. Part of it is due to working retail. Part of it is complex.

But I refuse to shop in December. Even for groceries. I believe my quote was "I'll live off tuna and chocolate chip cookies until January. Or gnaw off my own flesh."

After one annoying mishap after another, I ended up in the grocery store trying to buy the ingredients for a salad. I didn't get my salad until 7 p.m. At that point, my blood sugar was dropping but I managed to do this:

I took some diced chicken, sesame seeds and cashews and sautéed them stir-fry style (high heat, quickly dashing across the pan) in a few drops sesame oil and about a teaspoon or two of teriyaki sauce.

For the salad base I used an iceberg lettuce mix with some endive added, and lots of carrot ribbons. I sprinkled this with Brianna's strawberry champagne vinaigrette dressing. 

Added mandarin oranges, water chestnuts and red raspberries.

Tossed. And topped with generous amounts of the chicken mix.

Ate from a bowl the size of my head.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tikka masala

I started with a recipe from Epicurious but as usual didn't have the ingredients. So I made something that could have easily turned out to be cream of tomato soup.

It plated beautifully.

Step one:
Prep chicken. 

I used a 2 1/2 pound family pack of chicken breasts, beat with the bottom of a Le Creuset saucepan.

I poked holes in them with a fork and marinated them in a sauce of approximately:

- 1/2 cup plain low fat yogurt
-  1 tablespoon oil
- garlic powder, about 1 tablespoon
- juice of one lemon

In a saucepan I sautéed:
- one tablespoon dehydrated garlic
- one tablespoon butter
- two tablespoons paprika 
- two teaspoons cumin
- one teaspoon cardamom
- one-half teaspoon nutmeg
- one pinch hot Indian paprika
- one tablespoon diced candied ginger
- black pepper 

I added:
- about one cup water
- about one cup half and half
- about one-half cup tomato sauce

I let that boil and reduced to a simmer while I cooked and diced the chicken.

Then I added three colors of peppers, cauliflower and peas to the sauce.

When that warmed I added it to the skillet:

It was very mild. I could have doubled the spices I think. But delightful on this cold day.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sweet potato lentil stew

This stew turned beyond delightful, hearty and mellow.

In the crock pot mix:
• one of those huge cans of Bruce's Yams, 2/3 of the liquid poured off
• one cup dry uncooked lentils 
• one cup water
• 4 cups beef broth
• 1.5 cups cooked black beans
• 1.5 cups garbanzo beans
• about 1 tablespoon garlic powder
• about 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
• about 1.5 tablespoons cumin
• about 1 tablespoon chili powder
• about 1 tablespoon ras el hanout 

Cook about 4-6 hours on high 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Nut fruit balls, version 2

These vegan snacks rely on a mix of dates & nuts. I made these to use up what was in my pantry.

Blend in food processor, then knead and shape into golf ball sized pieces.

- 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
- 3/4 cup pressed pitted dates
- 1/4 cup dried cherries

This yielded 8 balls for me, about 125 calories each.

Monday, September 7, 2015

My first attempt at cabbage and noodles

I made cabbage and noodles. With fresh green and red peppers and kielbasa.

I didn't cook my cabbage enough. But it was still very super tasty.

I also used too many egg noodles.

I fried three servings of kielbasa (cut fairly small) in one tablespoon butter. Added one red pepper and one green pepper, cut into strips, and half a head of cabbage. Added more butter. And 1/2 cup water. And covered for five minutes (and it should have been ten).

Made a bag of yolk free egg noodles. Should have used 1/2 a bag. 

Combined everything in a big serving bowl. A really big bowl. Sautéed some white mushrooms quick for my husband.

Delightful. Very delightful.

My mother-in-law always serves with Parmesan cheese. So that's what I did. My father-in-law likes his cabbage and noodles with apple cider vinegar. I might try that next time.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Fried baguette with fresh spinach

We have had some amazing meals but I have not blogged them. The last week has been a special kind of crazy. On a whim, I started grad school (first step toward an MA in European History). And I broke my ankle.

Between boredom and necessity, I started experimenting in the kitchen and developed these:

So good I had to plate them on my fancy Royal Doulton. 

The ingredients are all hunks of leftover things... A day-old baguette, a random chunk of mutilated cheddar, some fresh spinach that is trying so hard not to wilt and a partial stick of butter my eleven-year-old daughter removed from the wrapper so she could use the wrapper to grease a pan.

I sliced the day old baguette thinly, to increase the chances that a layer of butter smeared across it and heated in the cast iron skillet would restore its edible potential.

I prepared each slice with a thin layer of butter on each side, dropping them directly over the center of the skillet preheated on medium. This allowed them to heat quickly and brown nicely on the edges. I flipped the bread over, topped with a very small piece of cheddar, a spinach leaf or two and a second small piece of cheese.

The assembled discs I pushed to one side of the pan, farther from the heat, and covered. I wanted to melt the cheese but not burn the bread. Probably 60 seconds.

I sprinkled with the tiniest bit of garlic pepper and some crushed red pepper flakes. I will be expanding on the concept for dinner.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Summer Tartar Sauce and vegetarian fish sandwiches

My husband and I both came home from work exhausted so we made Gardein Fishless filets into sandwiches on Archer Farms take-and-bake baguettes with lettuce, cucumbers and homemade tartar sauce. I also added harissa to mine.

And I updated my tartar sauce recipe to be a tad lower fat, but just as tasty:

Mix, chill & serve...

• almost 3 tablespoons Hellman's light mayo
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• almost 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
• 2 tablespoons Bolthouse Farms cilantro avocado yogurt dressing
• a teaspoon and a half fresh chives
• 2 dill pickle spears, diced very fine

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Imitation Pumpkin Pancakes

My daughter, being eleven, is angry with me. I believe this is her natural, at rest state these days. 

Couple this with the sour milk lurking in the back of the fridge, and I decided to make pancakes.

Specifically pumpkin pancakes because they have lots of vitamin A. 

But I looked in the cupboard and had crazy amounts of yams in heavy syrup and one can of pumpkin purée. So it made sense to get rid of some of the yams.

- about 1 1/2 cups sour skim milk
- 2 cups organic flour
- about 3 tablespoons brown sugar, which I did not pack, I merely tossed it in the bowl
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, which I never measure only eyeball
- some ground cloves (about 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
- about 1/2 teaspoon ginger
-1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
- 2 eggs
- about 1 3/4 cups yams (with about 1/4 cup of the syrup)
- 2 tablespoons PB2 powdered peanut butter with chocolate 

Serve with real maple syrup and powdered sugar 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Pecan Crusted Scallops

We went to Aldi today and it strikes me as odd or perhaps apropos that I spent $60 on primarily cheese. And a binge purchase-- scallops.

I have been so hungry for scallops. I got twelve jumbo scallops for $10. 

I decided to crust them in pecans. Normally one would grind the pecans and mix them with good quality breadcrumbs but I went gluten free and just used pecans.

I found some recipes online but didn't like the sound of any of them so I used them as a base. I found one that served with orange butter (1/2 cup orange juice to 2 tablespoons butter). I wanted mango butter. So I took 2/3 cup of frozen mango chunks, thawed them in the microwave with water, and puréed them in the food processor. I added three tablespoons butter and processed it with the mango.

I put this mix on the stove so the heat would melt it partially but not reduce it to liquid completely.

Next I put 1 cup pecan halves into the food processor, figuring a touch of mango and butter wouldn't hurt. Ground those as much as I could.

To flavor my scallops and make them sticky for my pecans, I whisked together:
- three tablespoons honey
- about one and a half tablespoons Briana's Blush Vinaigrette 
- about one teaspoon ground ginger

(The inside of the scallops ended up tasting like maple syrup when they were done. Not sure why.)

I rolled each scallop into this sticky mess and pressed it into the ground pecans. I arranged them in a Pyrex dish, poured the extra goop on them and baked at 425 for twelve minutes.

I served with a nice dollop of the butter, put some extra butter on the plate for the Brussel sprouts and used my mother-in-law's leftover zucchini pie as a compliment. Really good stuff. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Turkey Meatloaf

LCombine and shape into a loaf. Bake at 350 degrees 50-55 minutes. Put meatloaf in bread pan. I greased mine with butter.

This is a test. I think it came out wet. But we shall see upon cooking.

- 1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- about 2 tablespoons fresh chives
- about 2 teaspoons fresh dill
- about 1/4 cup Caesar salad dressing

Before inserting into oven, I topped with less than 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan and a line of Harissa down the middle.

Half way through cooking I noticed it was swimming in its own juice. I poured the juice into a little saucepan, added two tablespoons flour and whisked on high until bubbly. Reduced heat to medium, added 3/4 cup skim milk, whisked more and added an equal amount water once bubbly. Wanted 1/2 cup milk & 1/2 cup water but the child did the measuring. Came out lovely.

Nutty Granola

I'm a big fan of making homemade granola. Today I deviated from my normal granola routine and tried a simpler one. And even then I didn't follow directions. As usual.

Dry ingredients went into one large container:
- about 5 cups old fashioned oats
- about 1/2 to 3/4 cup Archer Farms deluxe mixed nuts, raw
- about 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts with sea salt
- about 1/2 cup raisins 
- about 1/4 cup craisins
- about 1/4 cup dried cherries
- about 1 tsp ground ginger
- about 2 tsp ground cinnamon 

Whisk in another bowl (or large liquid measuring cup):
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- about 1 tsp vanilla 
- about 3 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
- about 2 tablespoons honey 

Mix liquids into a dressing, pour over par mixture and combine until evenly wet. Spread on cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes at 400, stir, redistribute and bake about 10 more minutes careful not to burn the fruit and nuts.

We had ours for breakfast with plain Greek yogurt, honey and organic strawberries.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

My first attempt at lentils/dal

I noticed a five pound bag of jasmine rice on clearance at Target last week. After my discounts, I would end up paying $1 per pound for this delightful rice. Could not resist. 

Then on another visit, I passed the dried beans. They were on cartwheel and chickpeas were on clearance. So I bought black beans, four bags of chick peas and a bag of lentils.

My friends from India had fed me dal and this was one of my only experiences with lentils. I decided to be brave. I decided to be adventurous. 

Tonight I made lentils.

And my fancy rice.

I served with a mini Lebanese pita because I didn't have naan.

Delightful. But I have a mountain of rice, lentils and my dal veggie mix left.

I started one cup rice in the steamer.

I boiled four cups water as instructed by the bag of lentils. Tossed one cup lentils into water, turned heat down, covered them and forgot them for 15-20 minutes. 

In my huge Le Creuset skillet, I dumped:
- one can garbanzo beans
- about 1 cup butternut squash
- one steam-in-bag Market pantry frozen cauliflower (four servings), chopped
- peas, about three servings

I periodically added water to keep everything wet and make a sauce. To give the sauce some texture I added:
- 4 ounces coconut water/lemonade
- 1/2 cup skim milk
(The milk added nothing. Leave it out and make this dish vegan!)

Once that got cooking I started adding my spices. I just tossed stuff in the pan, so measurements are VERY approximate:
- one tablespoon fresh chives, diced
- one tablespoon crystallized ginger, diced very fine
- two teaspoons ground ginger 
- almost one tablespoon garlic powder 
- one tablespoon plus curry powder
- about 1/8 teaspoon hot Indian chili powder
- two teaspoons cumin
- two teaspoons paprika
- two teaspoons cardamom 

Once that got saucy and delicious I plopped about 2/3 of my cooked lentils into it (the rest wouldn't fit) and voilà!

Monday, July 6, 2015


My interest in cooking has been reignited by my daughter's pediatrician appointment. She's no longer as active as she once was and her BMI is up to 26.

So I have been doling out all food from the kitchen and decreed to my husband NO SECONDS. I am the most active person in our household and my research shows that my daughter's calorie needs should be pretty similar to mine. I count my calories since I weight lift... And walk... And work retail.

We're focusing on increasing our activity as a family, recognizing proper portion sizes and making better choices when we can. 

Normal weight management wisdom says to use smaller plates for meals. I traditionally use smaller plates and have switched to regular dinner plates. Why? For plating. A larger plate allows me to arrange the food prettier and you enjoy looking at it more.

For instance:
This is a breakfast of 1/2 serving Oikos Greek yogurt, vanilla flavor, topped with PB2; a half a banana, sliced; and 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter mixed with 1 teaspoon local raw blueberry honey. The plating makes it look like a lot, but you could mix it all into one heap.

Today's lunch was repackaged leftovers:
A bed of shredded iceberg lettuce with less than a half cup watermelon gazpacho; a few tablespoons of leftover chicken salad made with cucumbers and Bolthouse cilantro avocado yogurt dressing; a tablespoon of hummus scattered around the plate and a green olive on each drop; and Simply Balanced organic blue corn chips with flax. I call this fruity chicken nachos.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Turkey Zucchini Spinach Burgers

I'm baking these on my roaster pan at 350 degrees.

Made 7 burgers of about 100 calories/20 grams protein each.

- 20 ounces ground turkey
- about 2 cups shredded zucchini
- about 2 cups raw organic spinach

For spices:
- 1 tsp ras el hanout
- 1 tablespoons raw chives
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- 1 tsp curry powder 
- 1 tsp parsley 
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 TBS cheddar onion dip mix

Cantaloupe banana smoothie

My daughter got another "fat" lecture from her doctor.

The junk will be removed from our house. Part of this is my fault, as my daughter loves carrots, cucumbers & peppers yet I don't keep enough of these foods in the house.

In the blender

For 2

- 3 slices cantaloupe
- 2 bananas 
- 1 cup milk
- 1 serving green vegan protein powder
- 1 serving EAS vanilla whey 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Birthday brownies

I used to have a reputation for my "from scratch" brownies. It has been four years since I made brownies so my daughter has no recollection of my awesomeness.

For her birthday today, we made brownies.

We started with a trip to Target to get the necessary supplies: applesauce, butter, chocolate, heavy whipping cream.

Because I'm planning on making homemade whipped cream.

Imagine my delight when I found the following on clearance: Ghiradelli 60% cocoa baking chocolate ($1.60 for four ounces); Toll House stuffed morsels ($2.30 for the following stuffed chocolate chips: caramel, cherry or mint).

We preheated the oven to 350 degrees.

In a saucepan we melted:
1.5 sticks unsalted butter
6 ounces of the Ghiradelli chocolate

In a separate bowl we mixed:
1.75 cups sugar
3 individual serving cups no sugar added applesauce (replaces the egg, they didn't have a full sized bottle)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract.

We added the fudgy mix and then a heaping cup of organic white flour.

Then we stirred in about half a bag if the caramel morsels.

We poured into into a greased jelly roll pan. It's a travesty I don't own a brownie pan these days.

I wove a thread of Justin's maple almond butter, another of Justin's vanilla almond butter and a third of Nutella across the top.

Bake for 40 minutes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Strawberry Protein Smoothie

I slapped all this (plus a last minute addition of mango) in the blender today:

- 1 cup frozen strawberry banana blend
- 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
- vanilla cream protein powder 
- 1 serving Oikos vanilla coconut Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup skim milk

Funny part is that it looks like the blender wasn't put together correctly and most of the milk ran out the bottom.

It was my favorite smoothie ever but it was so thick I had to eat it with a spoon!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Somali style stew with chicken on the side

I wanted a Somali style stew and thought I could toss something in the crock pot to cook for the day. And I thought I'd use chicken thighs, even though they aren't common in Somali cuisine.

But all I had were drumsticks.

For the stew (toss in crockpot):
- one cup white/great northern beans (no salt)
- one can garbanzo beans, rinsed
- about 1.5 cups frozen butternut squash
- about 2/3 cup frozen zucchini
- one cup homemade chicken stock (no salt)
- one cup water
- paprika
- garlic powder
- black pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped chives
- 3 whole cloves
- cumin
- a pinch cinnamon

I think.

Now the drumsticks:
I marinated six drumsticks in spiced apple cider, smearing them with a small amount of orange marmalade and sprinkling them with a 1/2 teaspoon or so (each) of brown sugar. Left them in the fridge all afternoon.

Cooked them for 20 minutes at 350, basted thoroughly with the juice from the pan and then increased temp to 425 for an additional 45 minutes.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Chicken and Brussel sprout sandwich

I made a dozen or so chicken breasts I bought on clearance yesterday at Target. I baked them in the oven in homemade chicken stock and water.

So for lunch I sliced up two hunks of chicken and sautéed them quickly in extra virgin olive oil and ras el hanout. I sliced about 20 leftover Brussel sprouts in half and tossed them in too.

I made mine into a sandwich with jalapeño mozzarella cheese.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Design your own ravioli with vodka sauce

Today we went to Sky Zone trampoline park as a premature celebration of my upcoming 40th birthday. It was incredible. Highly recommended.

When we got home, I thawed a frozen container of vodka sauce, cooked some plain chicken, and had husband make peas. He also whipped up some cheese ravioli.

We set out the shredded Parmesan and let everyone compile their own mix. After all that jumping, I had a chicken breast, a serving of ravioli, the cheese and a heap of peas.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Only Oatmeal (Raisin) Protein muffins

This is another of my experiments. The family is complaining there is nothing for breakfast. Well, I researched oatmeal protein muffins and developed this. Should have 7-8 grams protein per muffin, low fat, about 150 calories. I haven't finished baking them yet but they smell delightful.

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare muffin pans for about two dozen muffins.

In a small bowl, combine about 1 cup grape nuts and one-half cup skim milk. Stir and set aside.

In a large bowl mix:
- 1 cup homemade unsweetened applesauce, now I used pear sauce because that's what I had
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses 
- 5 cups old fashioned oats
- at least 1 tablespoon cinnamon 
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 3 scoops protein powder (I used vanilla whey)
- 3 cups skim milk
- 1 cup raisins (I don't pack them as raisins are super dense in sugar)
- add the grape nuts
- mix and add 1 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt

Bake about 30 minutes for small muffins, 40 for large

The flavor is more plain than I expected and the mouth feel is a tad chewy. Not bad but the kid may require jelly on them.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Chicken with vodka sauce

Tonight is my last night home. I cheated.

Got chicken breasts on clearance at Target, had husband get vodka sauce from George's Pizzeria and I added frozen spinach and broccoli. I'm serving over rice cooked in my homemade chicken stock.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Fig marmalade

Bear with me here...

Yesterday I got a much needed haircut. I had a little more than a half hour before I needed to retrieve my husband from the office for lunch.

I stopped at the Mediterranean Deli because it was Friday and Friday is lamb shawarma day and I never manage to get there before they sell out.

I did yesterday. Talk about a great start to the weekend.

While I was waiting for my sandwiches, I bought yogurt, zaatar bread, hummus, medjool dates and pita. 

Then I grabbed a jar of fig marmalade.

Delicious. If I may state the obvious, it's like eating fig newtons without the cake. But what surprised me was the nutritional info:
1 tablespoon =
• 10 g sugar (5% RDA)
• 40 % RDA vitamin C
• 2 % RDA calcium
• 25 % RDA iron

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Steak and pepper egg sandwich

My husband suggested cheese steaks for dinner except we didn't have rolls or much cheese...

So we brainstormed and came up with chip steak and three colors of peppers made into an omelette and served on half a bagel with salsa.

We were low on bagels too. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sweet potato chili

Preliminary tastes have suggested this will be a blend of sweet and spicy.

- About 1/2 large can peeled italian plum tomatoes mashed
- garlic powder
- cumin
- tons of chili powder
- paprika
- about 1/4 cup lemon juice

Bring to boil

- 40 ounces sweet potatoes in syrup, mashed
- about one cup no salt white great northern beans
- two 15.5 ounce cans reduced sodium black beans

Simmer until dinner

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Somali style chicken and eggs

I came across suqaar with eggs and loolah on a somali cooking blog this morning and couldn't let it go.

Except suqaar= beef cubes.

So I used chicken.

And I didn't have the right spices.

But not following directions is a specialty of mine.

I started by chopping three chicken breasts and browning them. Then I added a couple tablespoons oil with parsley, garlic powder, cumin and paprika. 

Next I separated peeled plum tomatoes from a can with my fingers. Four. Poured in some extra juice. When that cooked, I added the eggs.


If you've read the early posts of this blog, you'll know that at one point I made, from scratch, 90% of my family's bread products.

Today, I went to google the name of a specific flatbread and I stumbled upon lohah, the Djiboutian/Somali/Yemeni bread that is a cross between a pita and a pancake.

I felt inspired. I scanned some recipes from the Internet and decided to have at it.

Phase one: the dough
• about 2 teaspoons yeast
• about four cups warm water
• a hearty squirt of honey (about two teaspoons sugar of whatever form-- you want to feed the yeast)
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• about 1/2 teaspoon salt (I got fancy and used my pink Himalayan salt)
• about four cups flour (I used organic, unbleached Gold Medal that I found on clearance at Target for $2.94 for a five pound bag; I read this should be made with sourgum flour which I have worked with in the past. My friend said it requires millet.)

Now, this is a fermented dough. You stir it up and leave it sit. At least 30 minutes. I'm aiming for 2 hours. I covered it with a dish towel, dampened with warm water and set it near the cracked oven door. The oven had been 350 degrees previously. I'm trying to mimic the warmth and humidity of East Africa.

I let it rise two hours, and it presented with some fabulous volume.

At this point, the directions said to stir as a form of kneading. I did so, pleased to find a great blobby, elastic texture. Volume fell by about 1/3 at this point.

The next rise will be about an hour. I'm winging it. 

Mine got really stringy-- fry until bubbly and mostly dry on one side and cover the pan for a little bit more to finish.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Vacation via food

We visited two local restaurants for the first time. Posted on my web site,
George's Pizzeria, penne with vodka sauce

Full of Crêpe, Triple S

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lemon Poppyseed Chia muffins

I made muffins this morning. At least I hope I did. It's not even 6:45 am and they are in the oven. I am hoping to avoid the preteen girl drama of "What's for breakfast?"

I *think* these are the ingredients:
• about 3/4 cup homemade applesauce
• 1 cup organic flour
• 1 cup corn meal
• 1 cup oats
• 1 cup mixed poppyseeds and chia, probably 2/3 poppyseeds
• 1/3 cup oil
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 cup skim milk
• lemon extract
• 1 heaping tablespoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt

I got about 15 muffins... I don't quite remember. Bake at 350 about 15-20 minutes.