Tabbouleh who?

Labeled Tabbouleh

Why bother with tabbouleh? There’s plenty of ways to mix grains, herbs, veggies, etc. without needing a translator. Here’s why. It’s good. It’s really good. It’s easily made gluten-free. It’s a great way to use up all that parsley you have leftover from the bunch you bought at the store but only needed a teaspoon.
I had the mint growing in my front yard. The tomatoes were getting wrinkled and begging to be eaten before becoming “sun-dried”. I always have olive oil, garlic, salt, and I happened to have a fresh lemon and scallions that also needed to be eaten before “turning”. The only purchases I made for this were quinoa and feta. The feta is optional. I really like feta so for me it’s not optional.

Here’s the recipe I used:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/tabbouleh-recipe.html

I didn’t have any cucumbers on hand and I chose not to buy one. Okay, I admit it. I forgot to buy one. That’s the beauty of recipes like this. You can skip an ingredient and it’s not ruined, just different.

Instead of following the instructions for the bulgar, I made a batch of quinoa (1 cup quinoa cooking in 2 cups water).
AFTER the quinoa was cooked, I added the lemon juice, olive oil and salt; and let it sit like the recipe says. If you don’t have a whole hour to let it sit, that’s fine because the quinoa is already cooked. You can let it sit for 10 minutes, or longer if you have the time. One of the reasons to do this is to let it cool before adding the herbs. That way the herbs don’t wilt. It’s not that kind of salad.

Gluten-free and protein-packed, here it is:

Cooked (rehydrated) quinoa.

Cooked (rehydrated) quinoa after mixing in the olive oil, lemon juice and salt.

Veggies and herbs ready for action.

Veggies and herbs ready for action.

Stirring in the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and scallions.

Stirring in scallions after quinoa cools.

Here comes the herbs.

Here comes the herbs.

Tomatoes are joining the party.

Tomatoes are joining the party.

The vibrant colors of this dish are what drew me to it in the first place.

The vibrant colors of this dish are what drew me to it in the first place.

The way this recipe uses simple, fresh ingredients keeps me coming back.

 

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Do this with your spinach, and love it.

spinach salad collage2

Spinach. Food of the gods. Popeye’s power boost. Buy it at the grocery store, farmer’s market, or grow it in your own back yard. It’s a dark, leafy green which puts it at the top of the priority list for foods to definitely eat, often. It works great in green smoothies, but that’s a blog post for a different day.

Today we are wilting it. Seems odd, doesn’t it? We go to great lengths to NOT let our greens get wilty. The cool thing about spinach is that it’s really good wilted. If it’s done properly, it’s tasty and easier to eat. Spinach has a high water content so it wilts quickly and reduces in volume, a lot. This makes it simple to get a day’s worth of veggies in one meal.  Spinach: the efficient green.

SALAD INGREDIENTS

1-1/2 to 2 pounds fresh spinach leaves, preferably baby spinach, rinsed and spun dry

1/2 pound bacon, cut into bite-size pieces and cooked
–It’s a time-saver to cut the bacon into bite-size pieces first. Put them into a COLD skillet, bring the heat up, and fry the bacon until it’s as crispy as you like. Starting the bacon in a cold pan causes less shrinkage.

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
–I like creminis (baby portobellos) because I’m not a big fan of mushrooms. It’s a texture thing. These are “meaty” tasting and look a bit like meat when chopped.

OPTIONAL:
2-4 chopped or sliced hard-boiled eggs (depending on how many people you’re feeding)
1-2 sliced avocado
1/2 – 1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup dried cranberries (Yum!)

Spinach salad prep

DRESSING INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (white or dark)
1-2 cloves crushed garlic
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

balsamic and olive oil

DIRECTIONS

1. Place clean spinach in a large bowl.
2. Get your bacon going as directed above. Once the bacon is as crispy as you like, remove it from the pan with a slotted spatula and place it on top of the spinach.
3. Place prepped mushrooms in the pan with the bacon fat and fry on medium heat. Allow the mushrooms to cook undisturbed a couple minutes before turning them over with a slotted spatula.
Frying mushrooms More

 

Once they’ve cooked a couple minutes on the other side, scrape them onto the spinach along with any remaining pan drippings.


While the mushrooms are cooking, make the dressing…
4. In a glass bowl or measuring cup, place all dressing ingredients except olive oil. Drizzle in olive oil while whisking constantly until it’s emulsified, about two minutes.
5. Place the pan back on the heat, about medium-low. Pour the dressing into the pan and let it warm up for about two minutes.
6. Drizzle the dressing from the pan directly onto the spinach, bacon and mushrooms.
7. Toss the salad well so everything is coated with the dressing.
Spinach salad tossed

The more you toss, the more wilted the spinach becomes. Stop tossing when it looks good enough to eat.

Serves about 4 as a side dish (or 2 hungry people as a main dish).

spinach salad w:egg Plated1

 

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Reduced-Guilt Quesadillas

This week I tried a new technique for making quesadillas. It was new to me anyway. I found this technique from one of my favorite food bloggers “Eat at Home”. Here’s the link to her fabulous quesadillas:
http://eatathomecooks.com/2015/05/15-minute-creamy-chicken-florentine-quesadillas.html

Not only was the filling unique, but her way of only filling half of the tortilla, then sliding it into the pan flat, THEN folding it over was totally new to me. I tried it, and I liked it ~ very much! Especially because I chose to use Ezekiel wraps. They are one of the healthiest tortillas you can use. However, because they are flourless and made with sprouted grains, they aren’t as flexible as regular tortillas. They tend to crack when you fold them. Actually, they always crack when you fold them. With this technique of sliding them into the pan while flat, the whole tortilla gets a chance to get warm and softened from the heat and oil in the pan. So when folded in half, they don’t crack. Hallelujah!

Ezekiel wraps

I made the “Eat at Home” recipe for dinner the first day, then the next day I made them for breakfast with eggs, tomatoes and spinach. Today was lunch with eggs, onion and bacon. We had quesadillas for 3 days in a row. Once for dinner, then breakfast, and finally lunch. Would you call that versatile? I do.

Using scrambled eggs for a filling item was my first thought. But scrambled eggs are bulky and don’t lend themselves to a nicely filled quesadilla.
Here’s what I did to make them with eggs:

I used my largest 12″ skillet.

12inch skillet and spatula

First, pre-heat the skillet on medium-high heat.
Then add 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and turn the heat down to medium.

Have your tortilla wraps ready with any other filling items on the side.

While your pan and oil are getting hot, whisk 2 eggs with one teaspoon water, a pinch of sea salt, and whatever seasoning mix you like, or even just a pinch of pepper is good. Whisk those eggs up good. When your oil is hot, but NOT smoking (that’s too hot), pour in the eggs and let them flow all over the bottom of your skillet. Turn the heat down again to medium-low.

You’ll need a large spatula to flip your big flat egg thingy when it’s set on the bottom. When you flip it, tilt your pan up to meet it. That helps. Do your best and don’t beat yourself up if it isn’t perfect. It’s all going into the tortilla anyway. The tortilla hides a multitude of food-prep sins. After flipping the eggs, turn off the heat. There’s enough residual heat in your pan to cook your eggs. Once they’re set on the second side, about one minute, use your spatula to slide your big flat egg thingy onto a tortilla.

Add one teaspoon of coconut oil to your pan and turn it back up to medium.

While your pan and oil are heating up, add your other filling items on top of the eggs but only on one half of the tortilla. Once your pan and oil are hot, slide the flat tortilla into the pan. Let it sit for about 10 seconds, then fold the “blank” side over the filled side and press down. The “blank” side isn’t totally empty because your big flat egg thingy is all over the tortilla. This is a great way to get egg in every bite while allowing the tortilla to be as compressed as possible so all the filling items get warmed up and melded together.

Let it cook for about 2-3 minutes until it gets golden brown on the bottom. Then it’s time to flip it. Use your big spatula and flip it as carefully as you can so not too many filling items go flying across your stove. If some do, just stuff ’em back in. Remember, the tortilla hides a multitude of sins. Let it cook on this side for about 2 minutes. Slide your quesadilla onto a cutting board and cut it into quarters or thirds. Slide it onto a plate and well, eat it!

 

I apologize that there aren’t more pictures of each step. I was moving pretty fast because I was hungry. I totally forgot to take pictures.

Quesadillas are such a great way to use leftovers. They are also easy to customize for picky eaters in your household without feeling like a short-order cook. Let each person fill their own tortilla. Then let them be amazed at your fantastic quesadilla skills!

If you have any questions about how this is done, ask me in the comment section. I’m happy to help you become a Quesadilla Master!

 

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Sunday Roast Chicken in a Whole New Way

IMG_8112

Sunday Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes in the slow-cooker PLUS homemade chicken stock!

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 large onion, loosely chopped (save the ends and bits for making stock)

3 large sweet potatoes (or whatever potatoes you like), washed, peeled and cut (save the ends and peels for making stock)

1 large whole chicken (5-6 lbs)

PREPARATION

Combine the dried spices in a small bowl.

Loosely chop the onion and place it in the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker.

Cut potatoes into wedges and place on top of onions.

IMG_8155

Remove any giblets from the chicken and then rub the spice mixture all over. You can even put spices inside the cavity and under the skin of the breasts. The dark spices like paprika and cayenne help give the chicken “roasted” color, as well as fantastic flavor.

Put prepared chicken on top of the veggies in slow-cooker and cover it. No need to add liquid.

IMG_8156

Cook for 5 hours on high, or 8 hours on low, until the chicken is falling off the bone or internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Don't let anyone tell you that raw chicken doesn't cook thoroughly in a slow-cooker. This is the result of 8 hours on low!

Don’t let anyone tell you that raw chicken doesn’t cook thoroughly in a slow-cooker. This is the result of 8 hours on low!

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Serve the chicken with the sweet potatoes (and the onions if you like) and tossed green salad.

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After dinner, and before making the stock, pull all remaining meat off the bones. Chop it into small bite-size pieces. This helps make sure you don’t get bones. Freeze this chicken in one- or two-cup containers, labeled with the date and amount.

IMG_8172

 

Follow the instructions for homemade chicken stock.

Homemade Chicken Stock

Leave the bones and leftover onion in the crockpot. Fill it to the top with water. Add a dried bay leaf, 2 sticks of rough-chopped celery, a teaspoon of dried thyme, and the scraps from prepping the veggies (potato peels, onion ends). Add 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.

IMG_8179

Cook OVERNIGHT on low.
In the morning, strain it, tossing the bones and bits.

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Measure out stock into one- or two-cup containers labeled “chicken stock”, the amount, the date, and freeze for later use.

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You, my friend, are a kitchen rock star!

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Banana Bread, My Way

Banana bread. A classic quick bread most of us are familiar with. As I endeavor to reduce the amount of wheat flour in my daily food routine, I am unwilling to completely give up baking. I am a baker; one of those people who enjoys measuring. Ah, following rules and getting a good result, that’s me.

I have in my possession what I consider to be the best banana bread recipe. Ever. You’ll never believe where I got it. A grocery store, name long forgotten, had placed extra-ripe bananas into small handled paper bags, ready for customers to pick up and take home. How did they entice customers to purchase extra-ripe bananas besides having them pre-bagged? There was a recipe for banana bread PRINTED on the bag. Seriously smart marketing. I accepted the challenge, bought the bananas and baked them into bread using the recipe on the bag. Here’s a photo of the original recipe:

This is the original recipe cut out of the bag. See my handwritten notes? This is how ALL my recipes look :)

This is the original recipe cut out of the bag. See my handwritten notes? This is how ALL my recipes look 🙂

The first changes I made were to reduce the sugar and use all whole wheat flour. Then I experimented with toppings, especially when making muffins. Now I’m introducing coconut flour and almond meal into my baking.

Here's a few of the main ingredients.

Here’s a few of the main ingredients.

Here’s the new recipe:

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup 100% white whole wheat flour

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup almond meal (sometimes called almond flour)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt (I use sea salt)

3 large ripe bananas, mashed (about 2 cups)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Topping:

2 tablespoons raw almonds, chopped

2 tablespoons raw coconut flakes, chopped

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9x5x3 loaf pan with coconut oil.

2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. You may want to use a mixer. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. Mix flours, almond meal, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture and mix well.

4. Fold in bananas and vanilla.

5. Pour mixture into pan and sprinkle the chopped almonds and coconut over the top.

6. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick poked into center comes out clean.

7. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Makes one loaf or 12 muffins.

Tip: if making muffins, bake for about 40 minutes.

 

I absolutely love how the almond-coconut topping turned out.

I absolutely love how the almond-coconut topping turned out.

Posted in almond flour, almond meal, bake, banana, bread, coconut flour, Food, Healthy, Homemade, Ingredients, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Girl Who Loves BBQ Sauce

Stephen and Laura Rose

Stephen and Laura Rose

Last spring, we got to spend a couple days with my step-daughter, Laura Rose. I asked her what she’d like to make in the time we had together. Scones? Chicken strips? Surprisingly, she replied, “Is it hard to make BBQ sauce?”. Of course not! We made it right then to go with the chicken strips.

She liked it so much that I decided to make up a special BBQ spice mix as a birthday gift for her.

The original recipe is from Pampered Chef using their BBQ Spice Rub which is awesome. But if you’d like to make your own, here’s what I came up with.

BBQ SPICE

The beginning of spicy goodness

The beginning of spicy goodness

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon mustard powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon paprika (sweet or smoky, your choice)

1 tsp ground cumin

1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1-1/2 teaspoons black pepper

So pretty

So pretty

Whisk it all together

Whisk it all together

Put it in a fun-shaped jar

Put it in a fun-shaped jar

Give it to pretty girl for her birthday

Give it to pretty girl for her birthday

Do your best to keep it away from those who would steal it

Who’s birthday is it?

Then go ahead and make yourself some BBQ sauce with these simple, fabulous ingredients:

Trader Joe's is 5 minutes from my house

Trader Joe’s is 5 minutes from my house

Mix one cup ketchup, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons vinegar (I like red wine vinegar), and 2 tablespoons of BBQ spice rub (homemade or Pampered Chef) in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until heated through.

Smoky spicy yummy sauce = yes!

Smoky spicy yummy sauce = yes!

Remember to store any unused portion in the fridge.

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In Search of Fun : Part 2

Today I put together a jigsaw puzzle for the first time in a very long time.

My Aunt Patty gave me 5 wooden puzzles when I was about 10 years old. I decided it's time to put them together.

My Aunt Patty gave me 5 wooden puzzles when I was about 10 years old. I decided it’s time to put them together.

This puzzle is made of wood, real wood. It’s an antique. There was no picture to refer to which added to the challenge.

See if you can find these pieces in the photo of the finished puzzle.

See if you can find these pieces in the photo of the finished puzzle.

It took about 3 hours. That’s because I was also listening to an audio book and giving myself a manicure and making dinner at the same time. Someone else will be doing the dishes.

Title: "The Farm Team"

Title: “The Farm Team”

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