Monday, October 9, 2017

Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Tahini-Miso-Maple Syrup dressing

Dave and I had this salad at a local restaurant this weekend, so I decided I needed to make it at home. It turned out better than the overpriced one at the restaurant. I'm really digging tahini and maple syrup together in a salad dressing.

1 big bunch of kale (6-8 cups)
1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, rinsed and ends snipped off
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Cut kale into bite-sized pieces, removing the hard stem. Massage kale while rinsing under water and spin dry. Kale should turn bright green. Shave or thinly slice Brussels Sprouts and add to the kale. Salt and pepper salad.

Next, make dressing.

Tahini-Miso-Maple Syrup Dressing
1/4 cup tahini
2 Tbsp. white Miso
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp Maple syrup
Small garlic clove, pressed through garlic press
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1-2 Tbsp warm water (to thin)

Using an immersion blender, blend tahini, Miso, 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar and Maple syrup (cover with hand or use a deep dish to do this because it will splatter) until smooth. Check for sweetness -- if too sweet add another tablespoon of vinegar. With a spoon, add garlic, cayenne, black pepper and check for consistency. If too thick, add 1 Tbsp warm water and stir well. If still too thick, you can add more water. Taste for sweetness or tartness, depending upon your liking.

When ready to serve, add almonds, cranberries and dressing to the kale-Brussels sprouts salad. Serve immediately.

The dressing is so tasty -- I could eat it with a spoon! :)

Black Bean 7-layer Dip

This is a great appetizer or even works as a light meal on a Sunday night. We've been making this dip for years, but I finally decided to put it on here because it's just that good!

1 or 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2-4 Tbsp. salsa (add extra hot sauce to make it spicier)
1/2 cup - 1 cup sour cream
1-2 cups Guacamole (use homemade without tomato)
1 cup Mexican cheese blend, shredded
1/2 cup - 1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup black olives, sliced
3 green onions, sliced, including green tops

Mix salsa with black beans and spread on a large flat plate. Spread sour cream on top of black beans leaving a small edge of black beans showing. Next, layer on the guacamole, leaving a slight amount of sour cream showing.

Sprinkle on the cheese to cover everything below. Then top with tomatoes, olives and green onions in layers. 

Serve immediately with tortilla chips or you can cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. This tastes best when served the same day because the guacamole will turn brown. However, it still tastes good the next day (even though it might be a little watery).

This dip is so versatile and many substitutions (or additions) can be made to this. It's a great party dip and fun to bring to a party when asked to bring something to share.


Monday, September 25, 2017

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Scones with Spiced Glaze

I made these and they were very tasty -- not too sweet, but satisfied my hunger for a hearty harvest scone. I have never made scones before, so this was a first! There are a lot of recipes out there like this, but this one doesn't have the extra powdered sugar glaze which means it isn't overly sweet. I do recommend you eat them all up in one sitting or within a day or try one for dessert with pumpkin ice cream!

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup, plus 2 Tbsp. sugar (I use evaporated cane sugar)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (I freshly grate this)
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
6 Tbsp cold butter, cut into cubes about 1/2 inch each
1/2 cup canned organic pumpkin puree
3 Tbsp buttermilk or half and half (might need a smidgen more if your egg isn't big)
1 large (extra large is better) egg, beaten

Spiced Glaze
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp whole milk
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch ground cloves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and flour lightly with a small amount of whole wheat flour. Set aside

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices. Add butter and cost it with the flour mixture. With a pastry blender (or your hands) mix the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse corn meal. Butter should be no larger than a petite pea.

In another bowl, mix wet ingredients: pumpkin, buttermilk or half and half and the beaten egg Stir until well blended, then add to the dry ingredients to form a ball. It should resemble biscuit dough. If too wet, knead a little on a floured surface. If too dry, try adding a touch more of buttermilk. The key is not to over mix the dough or your scones won't be light and fluffy.

Pat the dough onto the floured parchment paper into a 1-inch thick rectangle approximately 4 inches wide by 12 inches long (use a ruler, I did!).

Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 3 equal portions (about 4X4 inch squares). Then cut each square into an "X" pattern so you end up with 12 triangular pieces of dough. Separate the triangles slightly or leave together if you want the scones to be less "crisp" around the edges.

Bake for 14-16 minutes or until lightly brown and when touched they spring back.

While the scones are baking, make the glaze.  Drizzle the glaze onto each scone in a zigzag pattern. Save about half of it to glaze again as the scones cool. You can cool the scones on a wire rack and wait to eat for an hour -- or serve warm with more of the glaze. Use up the glaze on the scones, but if you don't want them too sweet, you can allow the eaters to put more glaze on, depending upon personal preference.

Store any uneaten scone in a tightly sealed container. They taste best out of the oven or if eaten the same day they are baked. If you know you won't eat all of the scones, you can freeze the unbaked scones and then thaw and bake as directed above, maybe adding a few extra minutes if they are cold when you place them in the oven.

They are very filling and have a nice nutty flavor. Feel free to add pecans to the mix or put a few raw pumpkin seeds on top of them after you glaze them (that's what I will do the next time I make these).

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

5 ingredient 100% Whole Wheat Bread

I use a bread machine for this bread because I haven't a clue how to make bread without it. One thing you need to watch when it first mixes is that it is moist enough or it will turn out dry, so keep this in mind when making the bread in a bread machine. If you make it by hand, you can get a good feel for how moist it will be when you're kneading it.

1 1/2 cups warm water (I usually end up adding another 1/4 cup more)
2 Tablespoons olive oil or butter
1/4 cup honey
4 1/4 cups organic whole-wheat flour
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp. yeast or 1 packet

Place in the order your bread machine usually calls for ingredients. Set on Whole Wheat setting. Mine calls for wet ingredients on the bottom and takes a little over 3 hours. Remove loaf immediately and watch it disappear.

Make one loaf (1.5 pounds)

Since this has no preservatives, eat it right away or store in refrigerator or freezer after 3 or 4 days, We keep a paper towel in the plastic baggie to keep moisture at bay.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Green Curry Chicken with Zucchini and Red Peppers

Thai food is so delicious and healthy. This is a meal I love to make when we need a little bit of spice and coconut oil in our diets. You can use almost any vegetable in this recipe. I used zucchini because it reminds me a little bit of Thai eggplant, but if you have access to Thai eggplant, by all means, buy them and use them instead! You can use regular eggplant, broccoli, green beans or even cauliflower instead of the zucchini. You can also make it much spicier by adding more hot chili peppers. I just love Thai basil too, but if you can't find that, use fresh Italian basil as it gives it a delicious fresh flavor that only basil can impart. It's a very quick meal -- maybe takes a half hour at most to prepare. I hope you enjoy it!
2 Tbsp good coconut oil
1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, cut into 1/2 inch squares
1 jalapeno, diced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
3 Tbsp green curry paste
1 can coconut cream
1 can light coconut milk (or you can use two can's coconut cream)
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1/2 lime, juiced (about 1-2 Tbsp)
2 zucchini, cut in half and then sliced into 1/2 inch slices
1 pound chicken breast, cut into thin strips
20 large basil leaves (Italian) or about 1/4 cup Thai basil
Optional: 2-3 Thai chilies (for extra heat)

Heat oil in a large stock pot. Add onions, red pepper and jalapeno and saute until tender crisp. Add ginger and curry paste and stir until fragrant and well mixed. Add coconut cream and coconut milk and stir well. Bring to a boil, then stir in the remainder of ingredients. Simmer until zucchini is tender and chicken is cooked.

Serve over Jasmine rice.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Best Cornbread in the World

Who doesn't love warm cornbread right out of the oven? It's easy to prepare and takes only a little time to make. Mix and bake it after you get that pot of chili (chicken or beef) simmering. Serve warm for optimal enjoyment. This will serve 4-8 people, but if you're like me, you could eat the entire pan in one sitting.

1/2 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 c. flour
2/3 c. sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c. vegetable oil (not olive oil)
3 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp honey
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 c. whole milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x9 inch glass baking dish.

Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Mix oil, butter, honey, eggs and whole milk in another bowl until well combined. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until well mixed (but don't over mix). Let it sit for a few minutes and the batter will thicken a bit.

Pour the batter into the greased dish and bake 35 minutes. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't over-cook. The top will be brown and crispy and a few cracks will appear on the top. Check with a toothpick, which should come out clean. Do not overbake!

Allow to cool a few minutes, cut and serve warm with butter and extra honey. Or just eat it without anything on it -- it tastes great with chili or with ham and beans.

This is the most moist, sweet, and fluffy cornbread you'll ever eat!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Yet Another Way to Make Pasta

I made this the other day and we loved it, but I forgot to take a photo of it! This recipe is simple, yet tasty. There are so many ways to make pasta and this is just another way to make it! If you're a computer "geek," you might get the joke.

12 oz Campanelle noodles
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup sweet onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1/2 c. white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)**
1/2 tsp-1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1 pint cherry tomatoes (I used the mixed variety)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
(pasta water -- up to 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade cut
Extra black pepper
Extra Parmesan Cheese

Cook noodles al dente, saving 1/2 cup of pasta water before draining it.

While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large frying pan with high sides. Saute' onion and garlic until soft and a little caramelized. Add wine, crushed red pepper, oregano, salt and pepper and simmer for about a minute. Add cherry tomatoes and cover. Turn heat to medium low and simmer until tomatoes are soft and skin begins to crack (about 10 minutes).

Once they are soft, you can smash the tomatoes (carefully) to pop them open. Stir until everything is mixed together. At this point, the sauce should be fairly thick, Add the warm pasta, cheese, and pasta water (start with a small amount of water and add up to 1/2 cup). The sauce should be a little thin, but creamy. Stir the pasta well to coat with the sauce.

You can add more cheese or pasta water to make the sauce as cheesy and creamy as you like. Simmer to thicken the sauce if you get too much water. The sauce should just coat the noodles with little sauce on the bottom of the pan. Top with fresh chiffonade basil, extra black pepper and adjust salt to taste. 

Serve with additional Parmesan cheese on top.

NOTE: To make this a whole meal, add grilled chicken, cut into strips You can also add mushrooms (slightly fried) and/or a fresh green vegetable like peas, zucchini, broccoli, (all pre-cooked or steamed slightly). You could also add spinach and let it wilt slightly just before adding the pasta and cheese.

**Variety: Add juice of 1/2 lemon with the wine and top with zest of one lemon just before serving.