Wish Upon A Dish: 2013

December 31, 2013

Buttermilk and Corn Popovers

When someone says you don't need a popover pan to make popovers, don't listen to them. If you want to try them first (like I did) before investing a few dollars in a popover pan, than that's all fine and dandy.

My first endeavor was a total disaster. Of course I did not start with Alton's Basic Popover recipe, I went straight for an expert baker's recipe. I am not an expert baker, as a matter of fact if I have baked muffins more than 4x in my life I would be surprised.

Popovers need the tall thin metal tin to rise to the occasion. Muffin tins are too squat.
So, if you want perfectly popped over, airy, ethereal specimens....buy the pan. Use the coupons BB&B sends to everyone, and buy the pan, man.

I did change the original recipe due to the problems with the first try. I pureed the corn with the buttermilk, which I reduced to 3/4 cup. To make the liquid thin like a popover batter should be to popover, I added 1/4 cup chicken broth to make the total liquid 1 cup. It was perfect.

These are not hollow like traditional basic popovers are known to be. They have substance but where still light and airy. They were perfect for tearing off a piece and dipping into the chile sauce.

Next time I make popovers I will try Romano cheese to serve with meatballs and sauce and maybe a mushroom, Marsala and thyme version to eat with a great beef stew.  Just remember that the liquid level should always be around 1 cup and any vegetables should be finely minced.

I know one thing, this is one pan that will be used constantly, unlike my muffin tin.

Buttermilk Corn Popovers
Lightly adapted from smittenkitchen.com

*3/4 cup buttermilk
* 1/2 cup corn kernels (defrosted frozen is fine)
* 3 large eggs
* 2 tablespoons melted butter, cooled, divided
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
* 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon table salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
1. Place buttermilk and corn in a blender together and blend till it is a puree with lumps in it, not totally smooth).
2. Add the eggs, one tablespoon of the melted butter and blend for one second more.
3. Add the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, a few grinds of black pepper (I used six).
4. Set the batter aside to rest while you preheat your oven to 400°, about 15 minutes. Brush your popover, muffin or ramekin cups with the remaining tablespoon of butter. Fill each cup slightly more than halfway with batter.
4. Bake popovers 30 to 35 minutes (see Note above about baking times in a muffin tin). Try not to open the oven door! Crack it just 1-inch to take a peak if absolutely necessary towards the end. Popovers are done when they’re tall and bronzed. Take a skewer or sharp knife and pop a hole into the top to release the steam.
5. Dump the popover on to a kitchen towel until they are cool enough to handle, then place in a bowl on the table.

Follow Me on Pinterest

December 27, 2013

Pork Chops with Green Chiles and Onions ♥ Cooking for Two

There are three foodie newsletters I subscribe too and Fine Cooking is one of them. Each day they send me a recipe. Sometimes I bookmark them, sometimes I don't.
This one showed up on December 4th.

How did they know I was looking for a tasty but different recipe for boneless loin chops I bought. Ideally I would find one that The Nudge could grill. I am teaching him how to cook and grilling is a great place to start. He's mastered steak, pork tenderloin and chops were next. Unfortunately the weather turned prohibitive for grilling, so pan sauteing it would have to be. He's not ready for that yet.

I had all the ingredients on hand and it just so happened, since I have had popovers on my mind and a new pan beckoning me to break it in, I stumbled on Smitten Kitchen's Corn, Buttermilk and Chive Popover recipe which will be perfect with these chops and I can get two posts from one meal. I hope. My first try at her popovers were not at all successful but I refuse to give up.
So, you will either see a post on popovers in a few days or a Merry Christmas greeting.

Cook's note: This was absolutely delicious, a true one pot wonder. The heat is perfectly balanced so even kids would like this and I used my cast iron pan from start to finish. I did not change a thing.

Pork Chops with Green Chiles and Onions
Adapted from finecooking.com

Serves 4
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1 teaspoon pure ancho chile powder or chili powder
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 4 center-cut boneless pork chops, preferably about 1 inch thick (about 1-1/2 lb. total)
* 3/4 cup lower-salt chicken broth; more as needed
* 1 4-oz. can chopped green chiles
* 3 Tbs. chopped jarred jalapeños (from about 12 slices)
* 1 Tbs. cider vinegar
* 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 3 Tbs. olive oil
* 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

In a small bowl, combine the cumin, chile powder, 1-1/4 tsp. salt and 3/4 tsp. pepper. Sprinkle on both sides of the pork and set aside. In a blender or food processor, purée the chicken broth, green chiles (with their liquid), jalapeños, and vinegar until smooth.

Put the flour in a pie plate and dredge the pork chops, shaking to remove any excess. Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Pour in 2 Tbs. of the oil and heat until shimmering hot, about 1 minute. Add the pork chops and cook, without moving, until they’re brown around the edges and release easily from the pan, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, flip, and cook the other side until browned, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a large plate.

Over medium-high heat, add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and the onion to the skillet. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted and golden, about 4 minutes. Add the green chile mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens slightly and the onions are completely tender, 2 to 3 minutes more; add a splash of chicken broth if the mixture seems dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Return the chops to the pan, nestling them into the onions. Cover and simmer gently until the pork is fairly firm to the touch with just a little give, 3 to 5 minutes. With a paring knife, make a nick in a thicker chop to make sure it’s only just a little pink.

Serve the pork chops topped with the sauce.

Nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 360; Fat (g): 18; Fat Calories (kcal): 160; Saturated Fat (g): 4; Protein (g): 39; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 11; Carbohydrates (g): 10; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): 810; Cholesterol (mg): 115; Fiber (g): 2

Follow Me on Pinterest 

December 21, 2013

Pigeon Peas and Rice ♥ Good Luck Foods - Recipe Redux Challenge December 2013

Our last of everything from the year, starts this month. Gee, I just got sad so I am going to rephrase that and start again.

In a few weeks we will get another chance to start new, all again. 

Now that's much better.

Over at the Recipe Redux, the elves are finishing up our year with a challenge to make a dish (healthy of course) considered to bring luck to it's recipients. You know, that bean dish your Mom always made New Years Day. 

I don't remember if my Mom made a good luck dish, so I asked my Dad. Clueless.

At least after I got married and started a small dinner party on New Years Eve, I started my own tradition.

Before I post my recipe, I would like to share this article I found at epicurious.com. You can skip to the recipe and come back later if you like to read interesting food facts, but they are pretty neat.

For many, January 1st offers an opportunity to forget the past and make a clean start. But instead of leaving everything up to fate, why not enjoy a meal to increase your good fortune? There are a variety of foods that are believed to be lucky and to improve the odds that next year will be a great one. Traditions vary from culture to culture, but there are striking similarities in what's consumed in different pockets of the world: The six major categories of auspicious foods are grapes, greens, fish, pork, legumes, and cakes. Whether you want to create a full menu of lucky foods or just supplement your meal, we have an assortment of recipes, guaranteed to make for a happy new year, or at the very least a happy belly.
- Grapes
New Year's revelers in Spain consume twelve grapes at midnight—one grape for each stroke of the clock. This dates back to 1909, when grape growers in the Alicante region of Spain initiated the practice to take care of a grape surplus. The idea stuck, spreading to Portugal as well as former Spanish and Portuguese colonies such as Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Ecuador, and Peru. Each grape represents a different month, so if for instance the third grape is a bit sour, March might be a rocky month. For most, the goal is to swallow all the grapes before the last stroke of midnight, but Peruvians insist on taking in a 13th grape for good measure.
- Cooked Greens Cooked greens, including cabbage, collards, kale, and chard, are consumed at New Year's in different countries for a simple reason — their green leaves look like folded money, and are thus symbolic of economic fortune. The Danish eat stewed kale sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, the Germans consume sauerkraut (cabbage) while in the southern United States, collards are the green of choice. It's widely believed that the more greens one eats the larger one's fortune next year.
- Legumes Legumes including beans, peas, and lentils are also symbolic of money. Their small, seedlike appearance resembles coins that swell when cooked so they are consumed with financial rewards in mind. In Italy, it's customary to eat cotechino con lenticchie or sausages and green lentils, just after midnight—a particularly propitious meal because pork has its own lucky associations. Germans also partner legumes and pork, usually lentil or split pea soup with sausage. In Brazil, the first meal of the New Year is usually lentil soup or lentils and rice, and in Japan, the osechi-ryori, a group of symbolic dishes eaten during the first three days of the new year, includes sweet black beans called kuro-mame.

In the Southern United States, it's traditional to eat black-eyed peas or cowpeas in a dish called hoppin' john. There are even those who believe in eating one pea for every day in the new year. This all traces back to the legend that during the Civil War, the town of Vicksburg, Mississippi, ran out of food while under attack. The residents fortunately discovered black-eyed peas and the legume was thereafter considered lucky.
- Pork The custom of eating pork on New Year's is based on the idea that pigs symbolize progress. The animal pushes forward, rooting itself in the ground before moving. Roast suckling pig is served for New Year's in Cuba, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, and Austria—Austrians are also known to decorate the table with miniature pigs made of marzipan. Different pork dishes such as pig's feet are enjoyed in Sweden while Germans feast on roast pork and sausages. Pork is also consumed in Italy and the United States, where thanks to its rich fat content, it signifies wealth and prosperity.
- Fish Fish is a very logical choice for the New Year's table. According to Mark Kurlansky, author of Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, cod has been a popular feast food since the Middle Ages. He compares it to turkey on Thanksgiving. The reason? Long before refrigeration and modern transportation, cod could be preserved and transported allowing it to reach the Mediterranean and even as far as North Africa and the Caribbean. Kurlansky also believes the Catholic Church's policy against red meat consumption on religious holidays helped make cod, as well as other fish, commonplace at feasts. The Danish eat boiled cod, while in Italy, baccalà, or dried salt cod, is enjoyed from Christmas through New Year's. Herring, another frequently preserved fish, is consumed at midnight in Poland and Germany—Germans also enjoy carp and have been known to place a few fish scales in their wallets for good luck. The Swedish New Year feast is usually a smorgasbord with a variety of fish dishes such as seafood salad. In Japan, herring roe is consumed for fertility, shrimp for long life, and dried sardines for a good harvest (sardines were once used to fertilize rice fields).
- Cakes, Etc. Cakes and other baked goods are commonly served from Christmas to New Year's around the world, with a special emphasis placed on round or ring-shaped items. Italy has chiacchiere, which are honey-drenched balls of pasta dough fried and dusted with powdered sugar. Poland, Hungary, and the Netherlands also eat donuts, and Holland has ollie bollen, puffy, donut-like pastries filled with apples, raisins, and currants.
In certain cultures, it's customary to hide a special trinket or coin inside the cake—the recipient will be lucky in the new year. Mexico's rosca de reyes is a ring-shaped cake decorated with candied fruit and baked with one or more surprises inside. In Greece, a special round cake called vasilopita is baked with a coin hidden inside. At midnight or after the New Year's Day meal, the cake is cut, with the first piece going to St. Basil and the rest being distributed to guests in order of age. Sweden and Norway have similar rituals in which they hide a whole almond in rice pudding—whoever gets the nut is guaranteed great fortune in the new year.
Cakes aren't always round. In Scotland, where New Year's is called Hogmanay, there is a tradition called "first footing," in which the first person to enter a home after the new year determines what kind of year the residents will have. The "first footer" often brings symbolic gifts like coal to keep the house warm or baked goods such as shortbread, oat cakes, and a fruit caked called black bun, to make sure the household always has food.
- What Not to Eat In addition to the aforementioned lucky foods, there are also a few to avoid. Lobster, for instance, is a bad idea because they move backwards and could therefore lead to setbacks. Chicken is also discouraged because the bird scratches backwards, which could cause regret or dwelling on the past. Another theory warns against eating any winged fowl because good luck could fly away.
Now that you know what to eat, there's one more superstition—that is, guideline—to keep in mind. In Germany, it's customary to leave a little bit of each food on your plate past midnight to guarantee a stocked pantry in the New Year. Likewise in the Philippines, it's important to have food on the table at midnight.

Now, back to my life.
While I have a perfectly respectable Italian Lentil with Shrimp recipe I used to make on New Years Eve, somewhere down the line I switched over to Shrimp Arroz con Gandules. Probably because I could not forget the Peas n' Rice they serve in Barbados with just about every meal. I fell in love with it on our honeymoon and back then when you wanted a recipe, you wrote a nice letter to Bon Appetit begging asking them for help.

Not only did they send me one recipe, they sent four.

I tried two of them and it wasn't what I remembered. I finally found a Puerto Rican version that was easy to make, I could find all the ingredients and the taste was out of this world good.
As a diabetic, this is one of a few dishes I allow myself to indulge in since I do need all the luck I can get. I substituted basmati rice for the long grain white, and if you can find brown basmati, the luck has already started for you.

Arroz con Gandules ♥ Rice and Pigeon Peas
Adapted from saveur.com


* 3 tbsp. canola oil
* 2 oz. bacon, cut into 14″ cubes
* ½ cup sofrito
* ½ small yellow onion, minced
* 2 cups long-grain white rice
* 2 tbsp. tomato paste
* 2 cups chicken stock
* 1 tsp. dried oregano
* ½ (7-oz.) jar mixed olives, capers, and pimientos
* Handful of grape tomatoes
* 1 (15-oz.) can pigeon peas, drained
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon; cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add sofrito and onion; cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Add rice and tomato paste; cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add stock, oregano, and olive mix; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until rice is tender, about 30 minutes; stir in peas. Cook for 10 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Follow Me on Pinterest

December 19, 2013

Individual Quiche Lorraines ♥ Cooking for Two

I have had this recipe bookmarked for the last 3 years, soon after I bought Thomas Keller's Bouchon.
If you thought you had a decent quiche recipe, you are wrong.
So simple but so decadent, this was not one of his famously 'attention to detail' recipes he is known for publishing.
I suppose this was why I chose this recipe for my second from this book. The first was the mustard sauce for a wonderful seafood tower that I replicated a few years back. Unfortunately we were not impressed with that sauce, so like most other cookbooks that have lived the same fate as his, I gave it not another go 'round, until today.

When I think of a great quiche, I think of classically trained French chefs and since my cookbook shelves have but only two of them (Julia and Keller), I pulled down the Father of all French cookbooks.

This time he did not disappoint. The first bite was met with a "omg, this is sooooo good". Something all of us cooks strive for with each attempt at perfection. I have to admit, the custard was light but creamy, the flavor components did not overwhelm the egg to cream ratio and the crust, while mine, was the perfect counterpart to the sweet cream interior.

Right after I fell in love with his version of quiche, I bought a 12" pastry ring but after serious contemplation, I tucked it away, never to make an appearance again. What was I thinking? A 4" thick quiche, 12" in diameter, for two?!?!

I pulled out my mini spring form pans, released the bottoms and, voila! A 4" pastry ring. Now that is something I could definitely live with.

I was given permission to make these again and for me, that's the best compliment I could ask for.

Individual Quiche Lorraine
makes 2

* 3 large eggs
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 1 cup milk
* 2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
* 2 ounces Comte cheese, shredded
* Salt & pepper to taste

* 4 ounces AP flour
* 2 ounces cream cheese
* 2 ounces unsalted butter

Pulse crust ingredients in a food processor until it starts to come together. Remove to a piece of plastic wrap, press into a disk and refrigerate until ready to use, at least 1 hour.

Divide into two pieces and roll each one out into an 8" circle.
Remove the bottom of the springform pan and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Gently press the dough evenly into and around the pan and line with foil or parchment. Pour pie weights or beans into each pan and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the beans and paper and bake another 10 minutes or until the edges are browned. Remove to cool completely.

In a blender or processor, thoroughly mix the custard. Add half the bacon and half the cheese to the bottom of each crust. Cover with the custard and repeat, ending with cheese.

Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until the mixture just jiggles slightly. Remove, cool and serve at room temperature.

I served a garden salad on the side, but roasted asparagus would be nice.

Follow Me on Pinterest

December 16, 2013

Stuffed Rigatoni Cakes ♥ Cooking for Two

I know it is hard to see, but under all that cheese is a beehive of stuffed rigatoni.
Why call it a cake then?

Well, I baked them in a cheesecake pan. I needed a pan whose sides were slightly higher than a piece of cooked rigatoni. Now I could have used a ramekin but I thought they were too small but as I ate the last bite, we both said the same thing. It was very filling. I was able to fit 20-21 stuffed cooked rigatoni into each pan and while it might seem skimpy, it was not.

Using a zip bag with a corner cut off, I stood the rigatoni in like little soldiers and squeezed the meat filling into each one. Was not hard, was not tedious and when the cheese crust is cracked open, there is a moment of "ohhhhh, sweet! This is cool" and then they dig their fork into the first rigatoni and find there is a meat sauce in each one and it then becomes "OMG, these are so good!"

Two things I should have done that I did not think about (but you will benefit from) is to add a spoonful of marinara sauce into each pan to help hold the pasta in place and to add additional tomato flavor to the pasta.
The meat sauce is the beef version of sausage and gravy but I used ground white meat turkey burgers that were on a Manager's Special and some veal stock for more meat flavor.

A spoonful or two of tomato sauce on top and two slices of melting mozzarella (from the deli) and into the oven for 20-25 minutes, then the broiler for a few minutes to brown the cheese, yummy!

Keeping with my pledge for no leftovers, these mini cheesecake pans have been getting a workout. I absolutely adore them and they have inspired a plan to cook up a whole new batch of two serving meals. You can easily double this recipe to make 4 servings.

Stuffed Rigatoni Cakes
makes 2 (4") cakes
* 45 large rigatoni (not a ziti) (I like Barilla)
* 1 cup good quality spaghetti sauce
* 2 turkey burgers (1/2 pound ground)
* 1/2 small white onion, chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/2 cup cream
* salt, pepper and nutmeg
* 4 slices deli cut melting mozzarella cheese
* 2 tablespoons grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Equipment needed:
(2) 1 cup ramekins or (2) mini cheesecake pans
1 quart-sized zip bag
potato masher

Preheat the oven to 350°.
1. Boil the pasta for 8 minutes. We want it firm so it stands straight.
2. Fry the meat in olive oil, mashing with the potato masher until it is minced. Remember, it has to fit into the opening of the pasta.
3. Add the onions and garlic to the meat and saute for a few minutes. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg and cream. Simmer, covered until the meat is tender and when you run a spoon through it, you can see a ribbon of bare metal. The sauce is done so remove to cool.
4. Drain the pasta, spoon an inch of tomato sauce in each pan and stand the rigatoni side-by-side into each pan, making sure it is snug.
5. Put the meat sauce into the bag and squeeze down to one corner. Snip the corner so that it is slightly smaller than the opening in the pasta. Place the corner into a piece of pasta and gently squeeze enough mixture until it is level with the top. Continue with each one until filled.
6. Spoon a layer of tomato sauce on top, using the back of the spoon to spread it into any crevices or spaces, making sure to totally cover the pasta. Sprinkle the tops with grated cheese and two slices of mozzarella. Place in the oven, on a sheet pan, for 25-30 minutes. Can be made ahead up to this point.
7. Right before serving, place the pans under the broiler the cheese is browned and crunchy along the edges.

Follow Me on Pinterest

December 12, 2013

Stuffed Pears

I know I haven't been posting much lately but this is the busy time for my personalized platter business. Soon, I rap up the last of my Christmas projects and have a chance for free time until we leave for DC on Christmas Day.

I have been cooking but nothing to brag about. As a matter of fact last night's dinner went into the trash and I love my husband too much to pack it in a lunch. It probably would have made the cut if I did not make it earlier in the day. I forgot how starchy pasta gets when it sits in a sauce for a few hours.

Note to self - bake the Turkey Tettrazini as soon as made, then store in the fridge. Not that it stops the pasta from soaking up the sauce but there would be less of it. Not an expensive mistake, the meat was from a free turkey and the sauce was from odds and ends of vegetables and cheeses that probably would have been dispensed when I give the fridge it's once over before leaving for the holidays.

So, rule of thumb is no leftovers allowed. I am truly cooking for two the next 15 days.

While dinner was a bust, dessert was exceptional and a perfect "For Two".
I bought my first pomegranate last week and when I saw this dessert I knew exactly what I was going to do with the seeds.

Not really a recipe but an idea and a great one at that. I mixed a few drops of honey into the goat cheese and with a scoop, filled the spot where the seeds used to be and drizzled more honey over the stuffed pear. A tablespoon of tart arils to offset the sweet of the honey and we have a new favorite and healthy dessert.

Buy Bartlett pears, they are firm and juicy, sweet and sit well on the counter for a few days. Please serve this at room temp. Enjoy!!

December 6, 2013

Upside-Down Pear Pancake ♥ Show Us Your Sweets - Monk Fruit In The Raw Baking Contest

Every Christmas morning my Mom would make us these pancakes.
Well, after we opened all the gifts under the tree, of course.
My Mom was an exceptional cook. She could make savory and sweet dishes with equal ease and had a natural curiosity about new ingredients. Things she wasn't familiar with never stopped her from clipping a recipe for her Wish List.

I know I inherited most of those qualities, along with her love of crafts, but the one thing I can not do well, is bake. I also inherited my father's lack of patience, which I understand, is a trait required to bake cookies and cakes and all kinds of beautiful and wonderful desserts.

When The Recipe Redux sent us our last sponsored recipe contest of 2013, I almost did not enter.
They challenged us to adapt one of my signature family baked goods recipe by reducing sugar with Monk Fruit In The Raw or create a new lower-calorie creation using the Monk Fruit In The Raw.

Presented with a dilemma, the only dish I make well is cheesecake and have published a few versions here on my blog using sugar substitutes. Previously published recipes can not be used and if I was going to do this right, I needed to find something that presented me with a challenge.

I grabbed my Mom's recipe box and seriously went through each one, hoping to find a dish that substituting granulated sugar with Monk Fruit In The Raw would produce a viable entry.

I omitted all the sugar in my Mom's Christmas Pancake recipe, and used natural fruit juice and Monk Fruit In The Raw as the only sweetener. Monk Fruit In The Raw has a natural taste and unlike those other subs that taste like chemicals, this sweetener was easy to use. I am very fussy about sugar subs, I can taste a bad one immediately, which is not a good thing when one is trying to cut out sugars.

These pancakes turned out to be better than my Mom's and can be made in 15 minutes. A perfect dish when your family would rather be playing with their new toys than sitting down to eat a breakfast. 
No syrup required but can be served on the side.

A non-stick skillet or a cast-iron pan is required because the pears poaching liquid is absorbed by the cake mix and would be almost impossible to remove if cooked in a stainless or aluminum frying pan.

"I received free samples from Cumberland Packing Corp., maker of Monk Fruit In The Raw. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Cumberland Packing Corp. and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time."

Upside-Down Pear Pancake
Servings: 1 large or 4 (6") pancakes
Can be halved or doubled successfully

* 2 Bartlett pears, cut in half, seeds and stems removed
* 8 ounces natural apple juice
* 2 cups packaged pancake mix (water added only style)
* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
* 1/2 teaspoon Five Spice powder
* 1/2 cup Monk Fruit In The Raw
* 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (almonds or pecans)
* Butter flavored or canola spray release agent
* Extra Monk Fruit In The Raw to dust the finished pancake

1. Preheat broiler to LOW and move the rack to 6-7" from the heat.
2. Thoroughly spray a non-stick pan with release agent (12" for one large pancake or 6" for 4 smaller pancakes).
3. In a small bowl, place Monk Fruit In The Raw, Five Spice powder and 1/2 cup apple juice, and whisk to mix.
4. Slice each pear half into 8 slices (total of 32 slices).

To make (4) 6" pancakes:
Lay 8 pear slices in a clock-wise, circular pattern with tips touching in the middle. Pour 1/4 of the Five Spice mixture over and around the pears. Simmer, on medium low, covered for 4 minutes. Remove the cover, flip the pears over and continue cooking while you place 1/4 of the nuts and the butter in and around the pears.
Pour 1/4 of the pancake mixture gently over the pears (so not to disturb them) and place in the broiler, at least 6-7" from the heating source until the mixture just jiggles slightly in the center (about 2 minutes).
Remove and let it rest for a few minutes, running a spatula around the edges. It will continue to cook from the residual heat. Over cooked pancake may stick to the skillet.
Place a plate on top of the skillet and flip over to release the pancake. Gently remove any food that might have remained in the skillet and place it back on the pancake.
Repeat for three more.

To make one large pancake:
Place all 32 pieces of pancake in pan and follow same instructions as above, using the measurements listed  above.
Simmer time is the same as well as the time under the broiler.
Flip the pancake onto a large platter or sheet pan and slice into quarters.

I have even made this recipe in a flame-proof casserole dish to slice into squares for a buffet table.

Follow Me on Pinterest

December 5, 2013

Wonton Dumpling Lasagna

I posted this recipe last year for a contest I thought I had entered, but did not make the deadline.
My boo-boo is your good fortune. I own this recipe and I want to share it with you, especially at this time of year.
Making dumplings and ravioli's may seem daunting when you have to make the dough, but by using store-bought won ton wrappers, you can have Asian dumplings and lasagna in the same dish.
The end result was this East meets West by the Appian Way dish, making dumplings and lasagna accessible on a weeknight.
It was my choice to make individual portions and one recipe makes 8 ramekins or 24 buffet bites.

The Nudge's first reaction (besides it was too hot to eat) was exactly the reaction I was going for, see, because the ingredients were not revealed. He tried to bribe me (maybe he thought I was going to poison him) but was not successful.

Super easy, it tastes just like those wonderful dumplings in take-out Won Ton Soup. This recipe is for all of you, from the novice college student to the experienced cook, if you have measuring spoons, won ton wrappers, and aluminum pans, you can make this.
I will tell you......if you love Asian and Italian food, dumplings and lasagna, you have to make this. If you have ever wanted to impress your family and friends, place this in front of them but don't reveal what they taste like and wait for the applause. It will come and then the request for the recipe will follow.

The beauty of this is you can add whatever Asian vegetables your family will eat but my first try was perfect with a layer of seasoned pork and Shiitake mushrooms. Feel free to sub lean ground poultry for a healthier version and bok choy, bamboo shoots or water chestnuts for crunch.
Oh yea, it's that versatile.

I got so excited I peed my pants wet my bloomers when I ate the final rendition and immediately took 4 of them next door for my neighbor to eat. If his child was like Mikey and liked it, I know I had a winner. What kid doesn't love their own little portion, doesn't love Chinese take-out or doesn't love lasagna?

To affirm all the ingredients and directions, I also made 24 mini lasagnas in a muffin tin. Besides being as cute as a kitten, they also came out great. Now you can knock their socks off at your next dinner or football party and be prepared to hand out many recipes.

It might seem like a lot of work, but it is easy work and very easy to make, the only cooking required is to saute mushrooms. Everything can be made ahead, prepared ahead and baked ahead. Easy peasy done!!

The mini versions are a great buffet item and will disappear in no time. They just pop in your mouth, no fork or knife needed.

Individual Wonton Lasagnas
makes (8) 6oz ramekin lasagnas or 24 mini lasagnas
  • 1 package (48) won ton wrappers 
  • 1 cup cooked mushrooms, minced
  • 1/2 pound ground pork, turkey or chicken
  • 1 teaspoon dry sherry
  • 1 scallion, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons grated peeled ginger root
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 packet Stir-Fry Seasonings (I used Kikkoman)
  • 1 1/2 cups College Inn chicken broth
  • 1 scallion, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 350°
  1. Place meat and next 7 ingredients (to garlic) in a bowl and mix well.
  2. In a small saucepan, simmer broth and seasoning packet until it boils. Remove and cool.
  3. Spray baking pans with release agent and place one wonton wrapper into bottom, gently pressing down on each point until it hits the bottom. Does not have to be in snug.
  4. Place 1 teaspoon meat mixture on top of wrapper and repeat, making 2 layers for the mini lasagnas and three layers for the ramekins, ending with a wrapper.
  5. Pour 1 tablespoon broth mixture down the side of each mini lasagna and up to the top in the ramekins.
  6. Cover muffin pans loosely with foil.
  7. Place ramekins into larger baking pan filled with water, halfway up the sides and cover with foil.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes and remove, uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes.
  9. Remove and sprinkle with grated cheese and then the sliced scallions. 
Can be assembled in advance up to 8 hours before baking, covered in the refrigerator.
Can be stored already cooked for 24 hours, covered in the refrigerator.
Reheat in a a 350° preheated oven for 10 minutes.

I also made a glaze that I drizzled on the mini lasagnas. It's Unami on steroids.

makes about 1/2 cup
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Thai Style Chile Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring all the ingredients to a simmer and lover the heat to medium-low. Cook until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. If it gets too thick just whisk in some water, off heat.
These are so easy to make, and easier to eat.
Come back Monday to see the details of my College Inn giveaway and the wonderful items included.

Follow Me on Pinterest

December 2, 2013

Chicken Paillard with Roasted Pears, Walnuts and Blue Cheese

My favorite way to cook a chicken breast is breaded and shallow fried. We call them cutlets. My favorite way to eat a chicken breast is a pounded and breaded cutlet served with a salad on top.
Now the The Nudge has his new favorite.

In Italy they top it with a lemony arugula and call it Milanese, in France, it has been largely replaced by the word escalope. In new Orleans they still use the old word paillard and in Germany they top it with a fried egg and call it Weiner Schnitzel.

Anyway you call it, it's a great way to eat chicken. If you have not yet tried this version with a salad on top, you must make it really soon. Good enough for company, Ina even served hers to Mel Brooks.

With the cooler months upon us and the holiday spirit slowly creeping into my bones, I decided to make a roasted pear, blue cheese and walnut salad to top my cutlets with.
Family coming for Christmas? Overnight guests need to eat. I guarantee your family will be talking about this meal more than the turkey.
I bread my chicken with both panko and Italian bread crumbs. The places on the chicken that the panko won't adhere to, the bread crumbs will, so it gets total coverage....yum

The salad makes the dish. What's not to love?
Roasted pears, chunks of bleu cheese and toasted walnuts with hearts of romaine lettuce. Oh My!!

I used a walnut oil to roast the pears with but any good quality oil would work.
I sprinkled the tops with sage, a dusting of sugar and a pinch of salt. Once the tops got some color, I flipped them over and roasted them 4 more minutes, repeating the sweet and the salt. You need to buy unripe pears and a few more than you need. Ripe ones will fall apart and turn to applesauce when roasted. If that happens just add them to the dressing and start over. No more pears, use apples.

Since the roasting depends on the ripeness, just roast until a knife slides in and out without raising the pear.
To serve, place a few romaine leaves on one side of the chicken. Slice the pears into lengthwise 1/4-inch slices and fan them out over the lettuce. Sprinkle with bleu cheese and the walnut pieces. Spoon the dressing over the salad and serve more on the side.

This was my best version to date. I made sure I had extra of everything so The Nudge would have lunch of this fabulous dish in sandwich form. The guys are gonna flip when they see that!!!

November 28, 2013

Kasha, Ham & Cabbage Egg Rolls with a Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce {+ the Lowdown on Buckwheat Kasha}

I know these will be tough to sell, but if you are looking for a great way to serve healthy dishes to youngins' and skeptical adults, you have to make these.

First of all you can't taste the kasha and the cabbage is sweet, the ham, salty. The egg rolls are crunchy good and the dipping sauce makes it fun.

I love red cabbage but I seem to be the only one. Did not stop me from braising a ton the other day. I could graze for days on cooked red cabbage but I wanted to use them in something different.

Currently submerged knee deep in cooking with grains & seeds made me determined to show people that not only should they embrace the healthy diabetic friendly qualities of these foods, they should also know how delicious they are and we should think about replacing almost all the carbs that we would normally eat too many of.

I took the classic Russian Jewish dish of sautéed onions tossed with pasta and buckwheat groats, added ham and red cabbage, all wrapped up in egg roll wrappers to dip in a sweet and sour sauce. Use wonton wrappers and you have a novel appetizer (maybe even for Christmas this year) but use egg roll wrappers and you have dinner. Kids of all ages love to dip and chose the dip you think your family would like. I almost went with a honey mustard dip and thought about a ranch-style one but in the end, a sweet and sour was the man of the hour. The Nudge agreed with my choice.

I made 2 dozen rolls in the morning, froze them on a sheet pan, placed them in a large zip bag and pulled out 8 for dinner/lunch.

I heated 3" of vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed cast iron pan and fried them until they were browned an both sides, only about 3 minutes a side. Drain on a paper towel and place on a rack in a warm oven until ready to serve.

Let's get cooking......

Kasha Varnishkes Egg Rolls
uses 1 package of egg roll wrappers
* 1/2 cup Kasha
* 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
* 1 cups braised red cabbage
* 1 (1/4") slice ham steak
* 1 egg
* 1/2 cup small round pasta (acini di pepe or Israeli couscous)
* 3 cups chicken stock
* 8 ounces Swiss cheese, grated
* salt & pepper
* 3 garlic cloves

1. Beat egg and add kaska, stirring to coat. In a skillet, barely coated in vegetable oil, saute the kasha until it is dry and browned, breaking up clumps. Add the pasta and the stock, cover and simmer until the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes. Remove to a large bowl to cool.
2. Place the ham steak in the bowl of a processor and pulse until minced. Add to the cabbage and spoon this mixture into the large bowl containing the kasha.
3. In the same skillet you cooked the kasha in, add a tablespoon of oil and saute the onion and garlic. Add this mixture to the large bowl.

4. The bowl should now hold the kasha/pasta, the ham/cabbage and the onion/garlic mixtures.
5. Grate the Swiss cheese into the cooled mixture and set aside.
6. On a work surface, place the egg roll wrappers along with a bowl of water and a pastry brush.
5. Place a large ice scream scoop of the mixture on the bottom half of the wrapper. Brush the edges with water and roll as you would a burrito. Place, seam side down on a sheet pan and continue until all the wrappers are filled. Throw out any leftover stuffing.

Now for the nutritionals on kasha:

Kasha (or porridge) is one of the most common meals of East European and Russian cuisines.

So, what is kasha?
Opposite to misconception that kasha is made only from buckwheat (buckwheat kasha) - kasha historically is a meal prepared using any grain (buckwheat, oats, wheat, millet, barley, rice, etc) as a main ingredient. Kasha, if prepared using whole grains, can be a great addition to a long range of delicious whole grain foods and excellent way to enjoy the health benefits of whole grains.

Kasha as a Russian food has a very long history.. In Russia for hundreds of years it was considered the most common, second in importance to only bread, meal. Even now kasha is one of the basic elements of Russian food. It can be sweet or savory,  served at breakfast, as a side dish or even as a meal in itself. Kasha can be plain or cooked with other ingredients. It is difficult to imagine any simpler and easier cooked meal that in the same time has so many varieties and flavors.

Usually, kasha is very easy to cook. Dozens of easy kasha recipes exist, including quick recipes for kids, vegetarian, vegan recipes, whole grain foods and recipes, and even raw food diet recipes. All in all, kasha is great for children and adults - maany grains used to cook kasha contain dietary fiber, the wide range of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. It can be a part of any healthy diet. Kasha prepared from whole grains is especially nutritionally. Some recipes may be included in the list of heart-healthy and weigh loss choices.

Some research suggests that several grains may lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, lower high cholesterol, and contribute to improvement of some allergies and skin conditions. Some kasha recipes can be an an excellent addition to a non-gluten diet. Kasha is probably the easiest meal where you can experiment by creating your own recipes. Cooking kasha is never boring - you can try hundreds of new flavors and varieties of kasha by changing cooking techniques and by adding different ingredients. Just follow these simple kasha coking tips we have on this website. You can prepare low-fat and low-calorie meals, as well as delicious vegetarian and vegan meals. With hundreds ingredients to choose from,your family, including your kids, will never get bored even eating kasha every day.

Follow Me on Pinterest

November 26, 2013

Turkey Pot Pie Pinwheels

The Nudge loves pot pies. What I really should say is he loves bread and crusts and what is a pot pie after all?
A turkey dinner wrapped in pastry. Right up his alley.

To me they are boring and unoriginal. No, I'm not saying they aren't good, just boring.  Yes, you can change up the rolled crust to puff pastry, drop biscuits or even lattice but they are still all "pies in a pot".
I decided to shake things up a bunch.
I thought I was the first with this original idea for a unique "leftover" dish, but as usual, someone thought about it before me, well sort of......

I wanted to make a bread dough using my leftover turkey stuffing, then make pinwheels filled with the pot pie filling, you know, carrots, peas, onions, etc......bake and serve them sitting in a pool of homemade gravy....oh, yum-yum-yummy!

A savory spiral of bread made using leftover stuffing. How can that not be anything but moist and flavorful. A bump-up of spices with the addition of grated Parmesan and this dish is sensational, over the top and money!!!

The good news is, the bakers at King Arthur worked out the kinks in the dough recipe so I did not have too. That in itself is a good enough a reason to share in the credit. That's right, they just made the bread, but I made the dish.

The Nudge is coming home from a road trip to below freezing temperatures and a hot homemade meal on the table. It just doesn't get any better than that.

Let's get cooking......

Turkey Pot Pie Pinwheel Rolls
Inspired from the King Arthur website

Yield: one dozen pinwheels
* 14 1/2 ounces AP flour
* 1 ounce soft butter
* 1- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
* 1/2 ounce sugar
* 2 1/2 ounces lukewarm milk
* 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
* 4 1/2 ounces prepared stuffing, room temperature
* 7 ounces instant potato flakes

* 2 cups minced turkey meat (white, dark or both)
* 2 cups roasted vegetables (carrots, mushrooms, onions, garlic and petite peas)
* Sweet Potato or mashed potatoes (optional)

* Gravy

1. Place all of the ingredients in a bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer; or a bread machine bucket); and mix and knead to make a smooth, elastic, and somewhat sticky dough. The dough will feel tacky, but should hold its shape nicely; you should be able to handle it easily with greased hands.

2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or 8-cup measure (for easiest tracking of the dough as it rises). Allow it to rise until it's quite puffy, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

3. Gently deflate the dough. Roll to a rectangle about 12x16-inch.

4. Spread the filling evenly over the dough leaving a 1" clean border. Roll as tightly as evenly as you can, sealing the edge by pinching the dough together.
Roll over with the seam side down and slice the roll into 12 even pieces.

5. Place each roll evenly spaced apart in a 9x13" baking pan and cover with a towel. Allow them to rise until noticeably puffy, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

6. Bake the rolls for 35 to 45 minutes, until it's golden brown on top, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers at least 190°F. 7. Remove the pan from the oven, and place it on a rack to cool.

To serve: Spoon a ladle of gravy into the bottom of a pasta bowl and place one roll on the gravy.

Cook's Notes: You could make bread bowls with this dough and fill it as you would a pot pie or, you could make a loaf, slice it for open-faced turkey and gravy sandwiches.
Either way, this is gonna get people talking.

Follow Me on Pinterest

November 25, 2013

Old El Paso Chicken Enchiladas {Giveaway Winner Announced}

Congratulations to karin56381!!  Winner of the Old El Paso Frozen Gift Pack. 

Thank you to all who entered and I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving or Hannukah.

A month ago General Mills through MyBogSpark offered a gift pack that included a coupon for the new line of Old El Paso dinners, a gift card to purchase a few sides and a beautiful chip n dip platter.
I had to admit I was curious. I have seen the new commercials and those enchiladas look spectacular for a frozen entree.
I am always open to trying new products and I consider their brand to be of excellent quality, so I signed up and because General Mills was extremely generous, they are offering the same opportunity to either a family member or one of my blog readers (procedure below).

I have been unable to cook lately and although The Nudge is learning as fast as he can and is filling in when I physically can not, cooking from scratch has not been possible the last 5 weeks.

Back then I did not know how welcome that box in my freezer would turn out to be. The Nudge adores Chicken Enchiladas and since I always have a can of Old El Paso Refried Beans in my pantry along with a can of fiesta corn, dinner last Sunday was a breeze.

While I did add additional cheese, the package contained six full-size enchiladas and they emerged from the oven, bubbling with lots of flavor.

The Nudge gave it a thumbs up, and it was good enough for me to express an interest in trying their whole line of dinners, which includes fajitas, quesadillas and burritos in both chicken and beef.

Have you seen the new line of frozen dinners? Would you like to try one?

To enter the giveaway.......

Tell me which dinner you would choose in a comment at the end of this post and information where you can be reached.
Winner to be picked November 24, 2013 at 11:59 est and announced on the 25th.
Good luck to all.

Frozen VISA Kit includes:
* VIP coupon for a frozen dinner pack valued up to $7.99
* $10.00 VISA gift card
* Mexican Tile Chip & Dip

“Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.” All opinions are my own. 

Follow Me on Pinterest

November 21, 2013

Black Bean Soup {Adding Merriment to Mixes - Recipe Redux Challenge November 2013

A few years ago I started a company to sell packaged seasonings in an envelope called On The Go Gourmet, each one for a complete gourmet meal and all that was needed was the meat and/or the liquid. Like most start-ups, the going was slow but the ones I did sell where followed by good reviews and potential.

Unfortunately that was not enough to make a go out of it, and after a year I moved on. I guess people just did not understand the concept and were afraid of spending the money.
I knew I had a good idea and from the many starter products that continue to grow on the shelves in my market, I might have given up too soon.

When The Recipe Redux unveiled their November challenge, I was happy to see that all those dried vegetables, spices, herbs and sauces would get a second chance to shine.
Oh, I use them when I cook for us, but for a blog, telling someone they have to buy dried sherry, freeze dried peppers or honey powder for one recipe just won't cut it. I sealed most of the jars and put them down the basement.

While there are a few bagged bean soups in the stores, mine has no preservatives, low sodium and can be made for pennies a jar. The last year or so you can find unique flavorings in small bags, making them easier to order exactly when you need. I had to buy a quart at a time.

I chose this soup for the ease of purchasing the ingredients.
All that's needed is a romance card with the directions. I don't know anyone who does not like black bean soup.

Black Bean Soup In a Jar
serves 4-6

* 2 tablespoons onion flakes
* 1 teaspoon celery leaf
* 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1 teaspoon dried mustard
* 1 1/4 cup dried black beans
* 1 packet Knorr Classic Brown gravy
* 1 teaspoon cilantro
* 1 teaspoon cumin
* 1 tablespoon Emerils Essence
* 1 tablespoon tomato powder
* 1 tablespoon freeze-dried soup greens
* 2 tablespoons dried green peppers
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle powder

* 1 1/2 tablespoon sherry (optional at the end)
* Dollops of sour cream

1. Put all in ingredients and 4 cups water in a large stock pot and simmer for 3-4 hours (slow cooker: 8 hours on LOW - 4 hours on HI).
2. Adjust the seasonings and serve with corn bread or tortilla chips.

Follow Me on Pinterest

November 18, 2013

Apple Crostata with a Cream Cheese Almond Flour Crust {+ the Lowdown on Nut Flours}

We interrupt this normally savory food post to showcase my first apple pie, EVER!

Yup, you got it right.
FIRST baked apple dessert.

There are other reasons than a traditional crust can be a no-no for a diabetic.
Forget that it's foolproof, according to the masses.
Forget that it takes only 10 minutes to make.
Forget that homemade is 150% better than cardboard crusts.
Forget that my mother made THE BEST Apple Pie I ever ate.
Forget that my sister refuses to give me her recipe (she's such a jerk that way).

There can be only one reason.
I am scared to death of a crust. Yup, a ball of dough. Flour, butter, water, salt and sugar.
Simple, right? Depends.
I made it harder by choosing to make a cream cheese & almond flour dough.
What was I possibly thinking?

My mom made these Swedish cookies that were more a pastry than a cookie and that is the crust I want for my first apple pie.
Today is a good day to make a cream cheese crust. It's right at 40 degrees and that is the perfect temp for keeping this crust firm while I shape it. We can not have a weepy crust, can we?

My goal was to use the least amount of AP flour as possible without compromising the structural integrity of the crust, but that meant it would be extremely tender. Tender crusts will crack, so use a bench scraper to fold over the edges of the crostata, pressing gently with your fingers to close up any large rips and then let the egg wash be the glue. 

Remember, it's a rustic pie and flaws make it more attractive, plus I will be drizzling a glaze over the top as well as sprinkling toasted almonds on top soon as it cools. That should help hide most of the flaws.

I bought a glass cutting board on sale (20x24") and it really helped keep the dough cold, plus it didn't hurt that I was also working outside on my patio table.

Let's get cooking.......

Apple and Blueberry Crostata
make one 10-inch crostata
* 3/4 cup AP flour
* 1/4 cup almond flour
* 1 tablespoon vodka
* 1 tablespoon cold water
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 1 tablespoon Truvia
* 4 tablespoons frozen unsalted butter, grated
* 2 tablespoons cream cheese or mascarpone
* Pinch of salt

1. Process flours, sugars and cream cheese. Add butter and pulse until the dough just starts to combine.
2. Add vodka and half the water and pulse the dough till it makes a ball and cleans the sides of the bowl, adding more water if needed.
3. Remove from the processor, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

* 3 apples, peeled and sliced
* 1 cup blueberries
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 1 tablespoon apple or ginger brandy
* 1 tablespoon chia seeds
* 1 teaspoon lemon zest

* 1 egg + water, beaten
* 1 tablespoon finishing sugar
* sheet pan covered with parchment paper

1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2. Place all the filling ingredients in a large bowl to macerate.
3. Roll out the dough to a 14-15-inch circle.
4. Spoon the filling in the middle and fold over the edges, pressing the creases to stick together.
5. Carefully lift or slide the crostata onto the parchment paper, brush the beaten egg all over the crust and sprinkle the natural sugar evenly over. the whole top.
6. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.
7. Remove and cool.

Serve with ice cream, or make a powdered sugar glaze and top with toasted almonds or whipped cream.

About nut flours:
These flours are available for purchase at nuts.com. Even if you don't want to order nut flours, they have the best prices on everything they sell. Opinion is my own and you will understand if you visit their site.

Almond flour (sometimes referred to as almond meal) - made from raw skinless blanched almonds that have been finely ground. Almond flour can be used as a gluten-free substitute in baking products such as cookies, cakes and pastries, and in other recipes that call for wheat flour. Almond flour should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer for a longer shelf-life. Almond flour is nutrient rich and well-suited for carbohydrate-restricted diets.

Cashew flour - made from finely ground and raw cashews, and is perfect for gluten-free, low glycemic recipes. Cashew flour will bring a lovely, light flavor and aroma to your favorite dishes.
Cashew flour can be combined with other gluten-free flours like almond flour or coconut flour, or used on its own as a flour substitute. Cashew flour will have more fat, protein, and moisture than traditional all-purpose flour, and a light, nutty flavor. Cashew flour can be used in quick baking recipes like pancakes, some cookies, cakes and cupcakes. It can also lend an exotic and delicate flavor to savory dishes like currys, and will pair perfectly with coconut and lime flavors. Cashew flour can be used as a thickener for sauces, and can be un-baked into raw cookies, pies, or other desserts.

Chestnut flour - full of sweet, nutty flavor. The perfect ingredient for adding more flavor to all your baked goods. Substitute up to one-third of the recommended flour in your favorite recipes with chestnut flour. And unlike other nut flours, chestnut flour is remarkably low in fat and has a low glycemic index.

Coconut flour - consist of 14% coconut oil and 58% dietary fiber. The remaining 28% consists of water, protein, and carbohydrate. Ideal for baking, it has fewer digestible (net) carbs than other flours and it even has fewer digestible carbs than some vegetables. It is gluten-free and hypoallergenic with as much protein as wheat flour but 2x the fiber. Ideal for those who follow a low-carb eating plan, coconut flour works well as part of a weight loss program because it promotes a feeling of fullness.

Hazelnut flour - ideal natural addition to any baking adding a sweet and subtle nut flavour to enhance your cooking. Produced from cold-pressed hazelnuts following the removal of the oil. It is the ideal flour substitute to all baked goods from breads and muffins to cakes and cookies.  Hazelnut flour is usually ground including their skin, giving a rich dark colour and adding the extra benefit of the nutrition found in the skin.
Hazelnuts are proven to be high in protein, low in carbohydrates and a great source of dietary fiber.

Peanut flour - made from crushed, fully or partly defatted peanuts. Depending on the quantity of fat removed, is highly protein-dense, providing up to 31.32g per cup (60g). Culinary professionals use peanut flour as a thickener for soups, a flavor and aromatic enhancer in breads, pastries and main dishes.  Listed as being very nutritional and very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol, it is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Thiamin, Folate, Potassium and Zinc, and a very good source of Protein, Niacin, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Copper and Manganese.

Pecan flour - baking flour made from pecan nuts. It serves as a popular alternative to traditional wheat flour, as well as other varieties of grain-based flours.
Pecan flour can be substituted for wheat flour and serves as a tasty ingredient in bread and cake recipes. This flour can be used to bread fish or chicken in place of traditional bread crumbs for those looking for a slightly sweeter flavor. One of the primary advantages of pecan flour is that it is free of the glutens found in wheat flour and it offers many of the same nutritional benefits as other grain flours. It also provides added nutrients like selenium, Vitamin E, and healthy fats that are typically associated with nuts. It's known for its coarse texture and dark color, as well as its slightly sweet and nutty taste.

Pistachio flour - baking enthusiasts love the versatility and flavor of gluten-free pistachio flour/meal. Often cold-pressed, pistachio kernels create a fabulous flour. Gourmet chefs prize it for its rich flavor and nutritional value in baked goods, plus it makes a wonderful breading for chicken, fish, or tofu. Or sprinkle it on your breakfast cereal for an extra protein and flavor punch.
Pistachios are nutrient-dense, providing a good balance of nutritional value per calorie. Like all nuts, pistachios are relatively high in monounsaturated fats, which has been shown to lower blood cholesterol, possibly reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. What's more, pistachios are low in saturated fat.
Pistachios have no cholesterol making them an excellent heart-healthy snack! An excellent source of dietary fiber, one ounce contains 3.1 grams of fiber, potassium, protein, 5g carbs and significant amount of vitamins and minerals.

Soy flour - made from dehulled, roasted soybeans that have been ground into a fine powder. Rich in high-quality protein, soy flour adds a pleasant texture and subtle, nutty flavor to a variety of products. Soy flour is available in full-fat, low-fat, and de-fatted varieties. Full-fat contains less oil; de-fatted contains none. All three are good protein sources, but de-fatted has the highest protein content. Use soy flour to thicken gravies and cream sauces, make homemade soymilk or coat fried foods. Soy flour also works well as a baking ingredient. Frying with soy flour reduces the amount of fat absorbed by the fried food. Soy flour also adds significant protein to home-baked goods and keeps them fresh longer. Other benefits of baking with soy flour include the golden color, fine texture, tenderness and moistness given to baked goods. Since soy flour is gluten-free, it can only partially replace the wheat flour in a bread recipe. Using about 15 percent soy flour creates a moist, dense bread with a nutty flavor. Place two tablespoons soy flour in a measuring cup before measuring the wheat flour called for in a bread recipe. In baked goods that are not yeast-raised (quick breads, muffins, scones, etc.) up to 30 percent of the wheat flour can be replaced with soy flour. Recipes specifically developed for soy flour often call for it in higher amounts.

Walnut flour - ideal natural addition to your baking, adding flavour and texture by replacing some of the flour quantity in your favorite recipe. Replace 1/4 of the flour quantity in your favorite cake and biscuit recipe for an enhanced nut flavor. A delicious addition to your favorite crumble topping over fruit.
Walnut Flour is highly recommended in baking Bread for a full nut flavor and texture.
This natural ingredient is produced from cold-pressed walnuts following the removal of the oil.
As walnuts have a high oil content, this flour has a slightly moist consistency.
Storage in the fridge or freezer is recommended.
Walnut flour is a valuable addition to the Gluten-Free diet and is packed with nutrition.

Follow Me on Pinterest

November 16, 2013

Thanksgiving Greetings and Pumpkin Pie {adapted from The Night Before Christmas}

In my town we have a bi-monthly publication (free) that sells advertising for all the business destinations in our county, and for that, readers submit jokes, pictures and editorials. The Nudge reads it from cover to cover and will, at times, read them to me.

When I heard this, I just had to share.

Thanksgiving Greetings and Pumpkin Pie
'Twas the Night of Thanksgiving,
But I just couldn't sleep,
I tried counting backwards
I tried counting sheep.

The leftovers beckoned -
The dark meat and white,
But I brought the Temptation
With all of my might.

Tossing and turning with anticipation,
The thought of a snack became infatuation.
So, I raced to the kitchen, flung open the door,
And gazed at the fridge, full of goodies galore.
Gobbled up turkey and buttered potatoes,
Pickles and carrots, beans and tomatoes

I felt myself swelling so plump and so round,
'Til all of a sudden, I rose off the ground.

I crashed through the ceiling, floating into the sky,
With a mouthful of pudding and a handful of pie.
But, I managed to yell as I soared past the trees....
Happy eating to all - Pass the cranberries, please.

May your stuffing be tasty.
May your turkey be plump.
May your potatoes 'n gravy have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious.
May your pies take the prize.
May your Thanksgiving Dinner stay off of your thighs!!

Follow Me on Pinterest

November 12, 2013

Beef Barley Mushroom Risotto {+ the Lowdown on Barley}

I usually make a Beef Barley Soup once a year and while I love it, I think The Nudge wishes it had more POP. I got 'that look' when I mentioned barley risotto so I am upping my game and he's going to enjoy this dish, I promise, or else!

First thing I have to do is to soak the barley. An hour will work, overnight is always better but it is not necessary, just extend the cooking time by about 10-15 minutes.
Now, we cook this dish exactly like you would a risotto but with barley, not rice.

The night before I slow cooked two small chuck steaks in beef broth for 4 hours on high, until it shredded easily (I use a timer to start and end by breakfast) and soaked the barley as you would dried beans. I always have cooked mushrooms in the freezer, measured in 1/2 cup bags. All I had to do was throw the onion, carrot and garlic in the processor and grate some cheese. This dish should take no longer than 40 minutes.

I will guarantee that you will make barley risotto all the time.
I have to say that after one bite The Nudge proclaimed his dinner as "wow! this is good!" and inhaled his portion. I knew it was good but this version was really, really good. That one spoonful of mascarpone made all the difference.

Let's get cooking.....

Beef-Barley Mushroom Risotto
makes 4-6 servings
* 1/2 cup pearl barley, soaked overnight
* 1/4 red onion, minced
* 2 large cloves garlic, minced
* 1 large carrot, diced
* 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
* 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
* 1 quart good beef stock
* 1 tablespoon Marsala wine
* 1 tablespoon both unsalted butter and olive oil
* 2 cups cubed chuck
* 1/2 cup peas (optional)
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1 ounce mascarpone cheese
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat butter and olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Saute the onions, garlic, carrot until they soften. Throw in the barley and saute until it starts to color, medium heat works here.
Add the mushrooms, the minced chuck meat, 2 ladles of beef broth, the rosemary and thyme. Lower the heat to simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the Marsala, simmer and then stir every 3-4 minutes, adding more broth as the liquid is absorbed by the barley. When the barley is soft (taste or squeeze) add one more ladle of broth, a spoonful of mascarpone cheese and the butter, stirring vigorously, making sure the barley gets airborne. You want to whip as much air in the mixture as possible, that's what they call mantecare. Add a handful of cheese, mix gently and spoon the mixture into bowls. Pass additional cheese at the table.
Dinner rolls would be great here, to clean the plate. That's called OH MY GOODNESS!!

Now for the nutritional information:
Barley is considered a low GI food.

Type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes affect over 80 million Americans.  Health and nutrition professionals remind us, however, that this disease can be controlled and even prevented.  It’s a matter of making some simple but important lifestyle choices including losing weight, increasing physical activity and including plenty of whole grain, high fiber foods such as barley in the daily diet.

Barley is an excellent food choice for those concerned about type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes because the grain contains essential vitamins and minerals and is an excellent source of dietary fiber, particularly beta-glucan soluble fiber.  Research shows that barley beta-glucan soluble fiber promotes healthy blood sugar by slowing glucose absorption.  For example, findings from a clinical trial published in the December 2006 edition of Nutrition Research showed that mildly insulin-resistant men who ate muffins containing barley beta-glucan soluble fiber experienced significant reductions in glucose and insulin responses, compared to responses after eating muffins made with corn starch.

In a clinical study reported in the August 2006 edition of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, data showed that subjects who ate cookies and crackers made with barley flour enriched with beta-glucan soluble fiber also experienced significant reductions in glucose and insulin responses compared to responses after eating the same products made with whole wheat flour.  A long-term study published in the August 2007 edition of the Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice journal reported a 30-percent decrease in HbA1c (average blood glucose level) in type 2 diabetics who consumed a healthy diet including pearl barley that supplied 18 grams of soluble fiber a day. Regardless of the form of the grain, there is always a ready source of beta-glucan soluble fiber in barley.

Unlike many grains which contain fiber only in the outer bran layer, barley contains fiber throughout the entire kernel.  So whether it’s whole grain or processed barley products, dietary fiber, including beta-glucan soluble fiber, is available in amounts that have a positive impact on improving blood glucose levels.

It’s easy to include barley in a healthful and delicious diet.  Choose barley flakes for a hardy cooked breakfast cereal.  Add pearl or whole grain barley kernels to your favorite soups, stews, casseroles and salads.  Or use cooked pearl or whole grain barley kernels as a fiber-rich addition to your favorite stir-fry or Chinese take-out entrees.

Follow Me on Pinterest

November 11, 2013

Veterans Day {Let's Celebrate All Who Serve}

Veterans Day is an official United States holiday which honors people who have served in armed service also known as veterans. It is a federal holiday that is observed on November 11. It coincides with other holidays such as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, which are celebrated in other parts of the world and also mark the anniversary of the end of World War I. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect.)

Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving.


U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day for November 11, 1919. In proclaiming the holiday, he said.....

"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."

The United States Congress passed a concurrent resolution seven years later on June 4, 1926, requesting that President Calvin Coolidge issue another proclamation to observe November 11 with appropriate ceremonies. A Congressional Act approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday: "a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day'."

In 1945, World War II veteran Raymond Weeks from Birmingham, Alabama, had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who died in World War I. Weeks led a delegation to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, who supported the idea of National Veterans Day. Weeks led the first national celebration in 1947 in Alabama and annually until his death in 1985. President Reagan honored Weeks at the White House with the Presidential Citizenship Medal in 1982 as the driving force for the national holiday. Elizabeth Dole, who prepared the briefing for President Reagan, determined Weeks as the "Father of Veterans Day."

Although originally scheduled for celebration on November 11 of every year, starting in 1971 in accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday of October. In 1978, it was moved back to its original celebration on November 11. While the legal holiday remains on November 11, if that date happens to be on a Saturday or Sunday, then organizations that formally observe the holiday will normally be closed on the adjacent Friday or Monday, respectively.

These are a few of the pictures we took in Washington DC.

Arlington Cemetery

Museum of American History

Vietnam Memorial

It was pouring that day, so this was the best I could capture.
While a beautiful monument, I would like to go back and see it lit up at night.


The newly dedicated 

World War II Memorial

There were dozens of buses with Veterans from all over the South there at the time we were and one of the pictures I missed was of about a dozen Veterans of Pearl Harbor standing in front of the dedication just for them. I know it brought a tear to my eye. The whole trip was very special.

The Korean War

This was the war my father enlisted for.
A very eerie and lifelike depiction of what it was like fighting "gorilla warfare".

If you see a Vet, go up and shake his/her hand and thank them. They will never not return your handshake or your smile.

To all my Veteran readers, 

Follow Me on Pinterest