Monday, October 31, 2011

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

I love toasting pumpkin seeds! And, it is so easy to do, kind of squishy and messy, but most definitely easy. I remember as a child that it was my dad's job to carve the pumpkin and my mom, my sister, and I would fish the seeds out of the pumpkin "guts". Such great memories of this activity that it still makes me smile today.

Pecan Sweet Potato Bake

This recipe is a cleaned up version of one of my husband's favorite holiday dishes. We made a trial run of a more nutritious version and it turned out fantastic! We traded out the canned sweet potatoes with fresh, the refined white sugar with coconut crystals and maple sugar, and made sure the dairy was all from organic, grass-fed sources.

For the filling:
3 cups sweet potatoes cut in pieces, cooked until softened
2 pasture eggs
1/2 cup coconut crystals, try Coconut Secret
1/4 cup organic milk from grass-fed cows
1/4 cup organic butter from grass-fed cows, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp sea salt

For the topping:
1/4 cup coconut crystals
1/4 cup maple sugar
2 tbsp almond flour
1/4 cup cold organic butter from grass-fed cows (chopped)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Cinnamon to taste (about 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp)

How To:
  1. Filling: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine all the filling ingredients and beat until fluffy. Transfer to an 9x9 cassarole dish (lightly greased with butter or coconut oil).
  2. Topping: In a small to medium sized bowl combine the sugar and flour. Mix in butter until crumbly. Pour onto the top of the filling and then sprinkle pecans and cinnamon. Bake uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes.

This was really delicious and serves about 8 to 10 as a side dish. There is no need to ever make it the "old" way again. I was thinking that you could easily substitue walnut flour or pecan flour (ground in a magic bullet or food processer) for the almond flour ingredient, depending on your taste preference. In the version in the picture, it didn't hold together very well, but tasted great. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Fall is the perfect time to break out the big guns-- the big pile of seasoned, baked meat. Men everywhere love to eat meatloaf, and when prepared nutritiously, women everywhere can be happy to serve it at their tables.

Breakfast Quiche

1 medium Russet potato, sliced very thinly (use a mandolin if you don't think you're up to the task)
2 cups corn (I use organic frozen because it's easy, but fresh off the ear would be awesome)
4 pasture eggs
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed (or 1 chopped fresh tomato or about 1/2 cup chopped grape or cherry tomatoes)
1/4 cup whole milk, try to find a good local source
About 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup grated cheese (I used a combination of Manchego and Cheddar, which I had in the house)
Butter (about 2 tbsp. divided) or ghee (try Organic Valley or Kerrygold)
Sea salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper or less)
3 dashes of tabasco sauce (or other similar type sauce)
1/4 tsp chili powder

How To:
1. Prep/ Make the Crust: Preheat oven to 350 and arrange potato slices in a deep dish pie plate that has been prepared using about 1 tbsp of the butter. Overlap the slices so there are no gaps. When done arranging, pour remaining butter (melted) over top and stick in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until the potatoes start to brown and are tender. You'll remove from the oven when done and set aside.

2. Prep/ Filling: While the crust is cooking, grate your cheese, dice your peppers and tomatoes as needed, and slice your onions. In a blender, combine the milk, corn, eggs, salt, tobasco, and chili powder. Blend until just mixed but don't over mix. You will still want to see chunks of corn in the mixture.

3. Put it all Together: Sprinkle half your cheese on the bottom of the pie pan (on top of the potato crust). Then pour your egg mixture and arrange the peppers, tomatoes, and green onions on top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and stick back into the oven. Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool ten minutes, then slice and serve.

This takes about 30 minutes leisurely prep time and then cook time. Definitely not something you would want to make when you were in a rush, but nice for the weekend and you can store in the refrigerator for about a week for quick breakfasts when you really need them. My husband ate half a quiche on his own, so I am not sure what to label the number of servings, but honestly, I think one to two slices for a regular person!

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cinnamon Vanilla French Toast

Have I mentioned how happy I am to have added butter back into my diet? This recipe is a perfect illustration of that happiness. Remember to only use organic butter from grass-fed cows and check out this brief excerpt highlighting some of the reasons why I make that recommendation (Nina Planck, from her book, Real Food):

"Compared to industrial milk, dairy foods from grass fed cows contain more omega 3 fats and more vitamin A and more beta-carotene and other antioxidants. Butter and cream from grass fed cows are a rare source of the unique and beneficial fat CLA. According to the Journal of Dairy Science, the CLA in grass fed butterfat is 500 percent greater than the butterfat of cows eating a typical dairy ration, which usually contains grain, corn silage, and soybeans. CLA is a polyunsaturated omega 6 fat [which is not the same at other omega 6 fats, and acts more like an omega 3], CLA prevents heart disease (probably by reducing atherosclerosis), fights cancer, and builds lean muscle. CLA aids weight loss in several ways: by decreasing the amount of fat stores after eating, increasing the rate by which fat cells are broken down, and reducing the number of fat cells. Most studies of CLA and cancer have been conducted on animals, and more research is needed, but findings are encouraging. CLA Inhibits growth of human breast cancer cells in vitro. A Finnish team round that a women eating dairy from pastured animals had a lower risk of breast cancer than those eating industrial dairy".

2 slices bread, try Ezekial or French Meadow Bakery brands
1 egg, I recommend free-range or, even better, farm fresh, pasture eggs
1 tsp organic vanilla
1/2 tsp organic cinnamon (or more to taste)
A splash of milk (about 1 tbsp), try Organic Valley
A little real maple syrup (optional), Grade B is just fine, about 1 tbsp
A little butter (about 2 tbsp), organic and from grass-fed cows, try Kerry Gold or Organic Valley Pasture butter

Beat egg with milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Dip bread slices into egg mixture. In the meantime, add 1 tbsp butter to a medium sized saute pan over medium heat and ensure the bottom is covered with butter when it melts. Add bread to pan and cook about 5 to 7 minutes per side. You may want to sprinkle with a little extra cinnamon when you first start cooking or at the end (I don't think you could ever use too much cinnamon).

Serve with remaining butter and a drizzle of maple syrup. YUM.

Comments: This is really fast to make, quick and easy preparation and so very good. Easy to double the recipe, but the current version makes one serving.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Spicy Potato Wedges

I know I say this a lot, but these are delicious!! Super easy side dish and you can adjust the heat.

3 medium to large Russet potatoes (you could use sweet potatoes too)
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp Italian seasonings
1/4 tsp cayenne (red) pepper - more or less to adjust heat level, this is probably a "medium"
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp maple sugar
About 1/2 cup olive oil

How To:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
1. Season: Measure out all seasonings and combine in a baggie or bowl. Wash potatoes really well and then cut into wedges (quarter potato and then cut each quarter into wedges (1/8ths). Add to baggie or bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and mix to coat.

2. Cook: Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or foil. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes until potatoes are done. Serves about four to six.

Comments: I think you could arrange these potatoes on a dish and then cover with chili and grated cheddar cheese and have a most excellent homemade chili cheese fries. This was my husband's idea, actually, and so I'm adding a "guy stuff" label to this post!

This recipe was featured on Busy Monday and Just Another Meatless Monday.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Grilled Ham and Cheese

About 8 slices of no-sugar added sliced bread, like French Meadow Bakery brand
About 4 ounces of organic cheddar cheese, sliced thinly (for 4 sandwiches), try Organic Valley
Butter (softened) try Organic Valley
Ham, four slices, I recommend organic and nitrate-free

Heat a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Melt a tablespoon of butter on the bottom and spread around. In the mean time, prepare your sandwiches by arranging the cheese and ham inside two slices of bread. Spread a thin layer of butter on one side of the bread. Then, add your sandwich to the saute pan, butter side down (I find two at a time works well). Spread a little butter on the top side and cook a few minutes, until browned. Flip and cook another few minutes, until that side is also browned and the cheese inside is melted. Serve warm.

Comments: This makes four sandwiches. As far as the butter goes, try to use as little as possible and if the butter is soft, a small amount will go a long way. This is fairly quick to make and so extremely good. Grilled cheese is a real favorite in our house and you can make this a more nourishing option by using a high quality bread and high-quality, organic dairy. We serve with tomato soup.

Tomato Soup

With the weather turning colder, grilled cheese and tomato soup is the perfect quick dinner. Try this version of tomato soup, which is an even better choice when made with nourishing home made stock.

1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
4 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
5 1/2 to 6 cups diced or whole peeled tomatoes
About 6-8 fresh basil leaves (approx 1/8 cup if I had to guess), rough chopped
1 1/2 cups homemade stock or broth
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp maple sugar
1/2 cup milk
Olive oil to sauté

How To:
In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, cook onion and carrot in olive oil until soft, about ten minutes. Add garlic. Cook another 2 to 3 minutes until garlic smell is strong. Carefully add tomatoes, stock, salt, pepper, basil, and maple sugar. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

In a blender or food processor or using a food mill or immersion blender (whatever you prefer), blend all until smooth. If using a blender, be sure to remove center piece in lid so steam will escape and cover with a towel so there is no mess. Return to the pan, add the milk, and simmer on low for another 10 minutes or so.

Comments: Very good, perfect for a fall night. Both boys love this version of tomato soup, which I served with grilled cheese.

I bought a wonderful book, The Healing Spices, which offers simple guidance on how to use herbs, their benefits, and other interesting information. Regarding basil, the book indicates that it may help prevent or treat a variety of ailments such as acne, cancer, stress, ulcer, gout, type 2 diabets (and on and on), and it is a "revered plan in India, where the root is carved into prayer beads (Tulsi Beads)".

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Turkey and Green Beans

This is a great recipe for leftover turkey. It is reminscent of green bean cassarole and is a real comfort food-- perfect for cooler weather. It is also extremely easy (if you make it using up leftovers) and very delicious! You can serve over brown rice.

About 2 cups cooked turkey (or chicken)
About 1 to 2 cups home made cream of mushroom soup
About 1 cup green beans
About 1/3 cup stock or leftover gravy (optional)
About half one medium onion, sliced
1 tsp tarragon
Sea salt & pepper to taste (I like to go heavy on the pepper in this recipe)
Olive oil

In a large saute pan, saute the cooked turkey and green beans in a little olive oil for about five minutes (over medium heat). In the mean time, in a small saute pan, brown the onions in a little olive oil over medium heat. Add cream of mushroom soup and season with salt, pepper, and tarragon. If adding the stock or gravy, do so now.

Simmer on low about ten minutes or so until green beans are cooked through. Serve with onions on top. You can serve this over brown rice, delicious.

Comments: The "gravy" ingredient is included as optional because you may have leftover gravy from your original turkey dinner that you would like to use up, and it adds to the overall heartiness of this recipe. However, it is not necessary for a delicious dish, and can easily be excluded. My husband loves the traditional green bean cassarole from his childhood and I made this with those flavors in mind.

You should know that I agonized over a name for this recipe and could not come up with anything better than Turkey and Green Beans!

**By the way, I am so frustrated with how unappetizing this picture turned out, because this was so very good and the picture does not do it justice.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Stock (made from a Chicken or Turkey Carcass)

1 turkey or chicken carcass (farm raised, free-range is the best)
Various vegetables (an onion, 2-3 stalks celery, 2-3 carrots, leeks, garlic, parsley, etc.)***
About 2-3 tbsp vinegar
2 - 3 dried bay leaves, if you have it
1 tbsp peppercorns, if you have it
Water to cover, filtered is best

How To:
1. Place carcass in a large stock pot with any other ingredients. Fill pot with filtered water until the carcass is covered or mostly covered and add your vinegar. If it's sticking out a little, you'll be able to push it down into the pot after it's cooked a bit. You don't want to add too much water (ratio of 3-4 lbs bones per 4 quarts water).

2. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and then reduce heat to low and simmer. If the stock is simmered at too high of a heat, the heat will break down the collagen and your stock won't gel. You should not lose much water during this cooking process, so if you start to see that you're losing a lot of water, you have the heat too high.

3. Simmer for 6-24 hours, the longer the better. If scum or foam rises to the top, simply skim it off with a spoon. When done, strain or remove meat and bones with a slotted spoon. Refrigerate and cool until broth forms a gel, then freeze for future use.

***I like to use "trimmings" to fill my stock pot-- simply save carrot tops, celery tops, the green parts of leeks, etc. in the freezer and then when you are ready to make your stock, add these items to your pot with the carcass. You can pick through the meat you've strained away from the broth and use for any recipes requiring cooked meat (like this pot pie recipe from Mrs. Scratch.Love). Save in the refrigerator or use immediately. This meat is also perfect for Turkey and Green Beans, Fajitas, Tortilla Soup, Chicken and Stuffing Bake, and/ or Black Bean Enchilada Cassarole.

When I make a carcass stock, I can't help but think of my grandma who makes a carcass turkey soup after every Thanksgiving. So, I usually reserve at least a portion of my stock, most or all of the meat I've gotten off the carcass, and I add a few vegetables, small quinoa pasta, brown rice, etc. and make a hearty, nutritious soup (try this Turkey Noodle Soup).

Stock is one of the most rewarding things you can make because there is a wonderful satisfaction in using up every bit of the animal and the health benefits of stock are numerous. When picking through the meat, be careful to watch for little bones that you will not want to end up in your soup, or elsewhere.

Here is a great resource for troubleshooting tips from the Healthy Home Economist.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Buttered Carrots AKA "Kettle" Carrots

I have never been a fan of cooked carrots and then my aunt made carrots with tarragon for Thanksgiving one year and everything changed. I mean, these are great carrots, and my sister and I started making them every year for our holiday dinners when I was growing up. I still wasn't a fan of plain, cooked carrots but cover them in tarragon, garlic, and butter, and you had a convert!

I was so excited to share these carrots with my husband and the little one and was absolutely crushed when neither liked them. "Ew.. what's that funny seasoning? You know I don't like cilantro..." and me defending them, "it's not cilantro, it's tarragon!" ha! all for naught. They would not eat them. So, this recipe came out of a desire to make carrots we all liked. I couldn't eat them with simply butter and they couldn't eat them with garlic and tarrgon and so, why not try something sweet and salty.... like kettle corn....

5 or 6 carrots, peeled and sliced (about two cups)
About 2 tbsp organic butter from grass-fed cows or ghee
Sea salt and pepper to taste
A pinch of coconut sugar or maple sugar, seriously, just a pinch (less than 1/4 tsp)

How To:
1. Add carrots to a small saucepan and cover with water. Salt water and bring to a boil.

2. Boil about 10 minutes until done. Drain and return to saucepan.

3. Season with butter, salt, pepper, and sprinkling of sugar. Stir to mix and serve warm.

Comments: I am not a big cooked carrots fan, but these are delicious.

Mashed Potato Cassarole

I have been off my game when it comes to mashed potatoes for the last couple of years (yes, years!). So, I like to try various mashed potato recipes that I occassionally run across. This one is adapted from the November 2011 Cooking Light, a really excellent-looking issue.

3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt, divided
3/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup organic milk
1/2 cup grated parmesan/reggiano cheese
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
4 green onions (optional garnish)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook potatoes, garlic, and 1/2 the salt in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes (until tender). Drain.

Using a food mill, hand masher, or hand mixer combine potatoes, remaining salt, milk, and cream cheese. Spoon into an 11x7 glass dish coated with cooking spray (or butter), sprinkle the grated cheese and panko on top. Bake for 20-30 minutes until browned.

Comments: Terrible picture, but this got thumbs up from husband, dad, and six-year old. I thought it was good too. We used 1% organic milk. I did not garnish with green onions, but my panko breadcrumbs were "flavored" garlic and herb-- it was all I had on hand and they were good. However, I think this would have been equally good with home made breadcrumbs from your favorite bread. Also, I cooked mine in a 9x13 and extended the time to 30 minutes.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ranchero Sauce

You can make this in advance for the Enchilada casserole and suddenly this recipe is very easy to make since the hardest part is the ranchero sauce.

2 dried Ancho chili peppers, stems removed and seeded
1 medium onion, chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, rough chopped
2 cups broth (vegetable, chicken, beef, etc.)
1 1/2 tbsp. dried oregano
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. cumin
Oil (olive or coconut) or butter - enough to sauté onions

How To:
1. Prep Peppers: Bring four cups water with chili peppers to boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer about five minutes and then let sit about five more minutes. You will use about two cups of the liquid you've cooked them in and you can freeze the remainder for future uses (chilis, soups, etc.).

2. Cook Onion & Garlic: In the meantime, saute onion in another medium saucepan over medium heat in a little olive oil. When soft, about 5-10 minutes, add garlic and cook about 5 minutes more.

3. Combine & Blend: Add the following to a blender - the cooked chili peppers and two cups of the liquid you cooked them in, cooked onions and garlic, all seasonings, tomato paste, and the broth. Blend well and you're done!

Comments: I made two batches and divided them into three containers for three servings. Each batch made about 5 cups so it is about 3 1/3 cups per container and I thought I could get three servings out of this instead of two. The picture shows a little over four cups although the recipe makes five total.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Almond - Maple Sugar Cookies

We love fall and especially October. The little one was out of school so I decided to try to make a more nutritious version of "sugar" cookies that we could decorate this weekend.

1/2 cup butter softened - try to use only organic butter from grass-fed cows
1/2 cup honey, try to find local sources
2 tbsp maple sugar
1 pasture egg
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups almond flour, try this
2 cups spelt flour, try this

How To:
1. Get Started: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Make Dough: Cream the butter, honey, and maple sugar together with a hand mixer in a medium sized bowl. Add egg, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda and mix well. Add the flours and mix well.

3. Roll Dough: With about a handful of dough at a time, roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness. Sprinkle spelt flour on your work surface and the rolling pin to help keep the dough from sticking.

4. Cut and Bake: Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut shapes in the dough and transfer to a parchment or foil lined cookie sheet. The dough is very delicate so be very careful with it when transferring from surface to cookie sheet.

Bake 8-10 minutes. Let cool.

Comments: I cannot tell you how many cookies these make, but the picture below shows all the cookies (except a small moon shape that we ate pre-picture) from one batch. They worked out really well for decorating as you can see. Considering that we made a more nutritious option with regard to the cookies, we are totally going junk-food as far as decorating with the standard sugar candies from the store, but that was the only option I could find locally. If you are lucky enough to have a more healthful option - wonderful! Also, you could try India Tree (pre-order or purchase locally if you can).

We used a cream cheese frosting (honey and mascarpone cheese or honey and cream cheese), which was very easy to make. You could also try yogurt-cream cheese-maple sugar frosting or a buttercream. These little cookies were very good and you could probably sprinkle with cinnamon and a little maple sugar right when they come out of the oven and have a nice treat, instead of decorating. Or add chopped almonds or another kind of nut to the dough.... Yum! these are really great!

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Smoked Salmon on Rye Crackers

This is a quick and easy appetizer that makes a truly lovely presentation.

4-6 ounces lox, sliced in 1x1 inch squares (approximately)
4 ounces softened mascarpone cheese
2-3 tsp chopped fresh dill
2 tsp lime juice
About 16-20 rye crackers, or your favorite crackers
Finely diced red onion and/or bell pepper and/or jalepeno and/or cucumber, or capers, olives, pimento, etc. for optional garnish (about 2-4 tbsp)

How To:
Blend cheese, dill, and lime juice. Spread cheese mixture on crackers and top with smoked salmon as well as any garnishes used.

This recipe is from the Vital Choice website. Really delicious snack that we all enjoyed. Ok, well, to be perfectly honest the six-year old only liked the lox and cream cheese and said the crackers were "disgusting". I thought the crackers were great though! You'll have to try for yourself.

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This post was shared on Busy Monday and Wednesday Extravaganza!

Rye Crackers

This is a cheater recipe... Like, shoot, I don't have time to make fancy crackers and I really need something to serve with my Mushroom and Walnut Pate or Smoked Salmon. Very quick and a great recipe in a pinch.

3 slices traditional, dense rye bread cut in 9 squares per piece, try French Meadow Bakery Rye with Flaxseed
Olive oil
Italian seasonings (or any seasonings of your choice)

How To:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place bread squares on "greased" cookie sheet, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with Italian Seasonings. Cook for about 15-20 minutes.

I love this rye bread. It is the same rye I use when making rye toast with nut butter and bananas. This recipe results in hard rye crackers and you could season any way you like.

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Steel Cut Cinnamon Apple Oats with Flax and Nuts

This is a recipe modified only slightly from Dr. Hyman's amazing book, Ultrametabolism. His original recipe is one of the first recipes I tried when I changed to a whole foods, unprocessed life-style and I had never had steel cut oats before. And now, nearly ten years later, this is still one of my favorites. I encourage you to give it a try - it is really quick and easy.

1 cup water
Sea salt to taste (a small pinch), optional
1/4 cup steel cut oats, try Bob's Red Mill
1 apple with skin, diced (you will only need about half the apple to cook into the oats, reserve the other half to sprinkle on top or eat, sliced rather than diced, on the side) ** I use Gala apples because they are high in antioxidants and very tasty.
1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, reserve some to sprinkle on top
1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
A handful of chopped nuts, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, etc. I typically use walnuts, but the picture below shows pecans and this version was equally good.

How To:
1. Boil Water & Add Oats - Bring the water and salt, if using, to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in the oats and boil until the oats begin to thicken, about five minutes.
2. Simmer & Add Apples - Reduce the heat to low (slow simmer), stir in apples and cinnamon and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until you have a desired consistency.
3. Garnish & Eat - After transferring to a serving bowl, sprinkle with cinnamon, ground flaxseeds, remaining chopped apples, and nuts.

This is one-fourth the original recipe (a single serving), so you could easily double and quadruple. I've always made the single serving, but I think if you are making a larger amount your oat cooking time will be longer, up to about 40 minutes maximum based on the instructions in the original recipe. This is one of my favorite breakfast recipes, really filling and delicious and so good for you.

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Simple Mascarpone Icing

This is a really simple and quick frosting. Add a little cacao powder to make a chocolate version or add a little mint extract for a mint version, but it is fabulous on its own too!

Apple Cake II - Victory!

So I finally revisited apple cake after the first fiasco. There were a few reasons for this... First of all, it's fall now and apples are everywhere and I can't help but want to buy and cook with apples as much as I can. Secondly, since my first try, I have found an interesting sugar alternative. So anyway, here is Take II and a much better cake than the first.

Potato Cheese Dumpling Buttons

This is not really a quick recipe at all, but these little dumplings are so tasty, I think it's worth the effort from time to time. In addition, if you like pierogi or are looking for a cute appetizer or really like mashed potatoes, or just have plenty of time to kill, you will really enjoy this recipe. I find myself craving these little dumplings a few times a year and I plan a little time on the weekend to make them, and the whole family is very, very happy when I do.

So anyway, that's my disclosure statement on the time involved and now on to the recipe.....

1 medium onion, chopped (or some onion combo- I used half a medium and several green onion stalks)
2 - 3 tbsp olive oil or ghee plus more as needed to cook the dumplings
3-4 medium to small potatoes, chopped in one inch small pieces - I use Russett because they are high in antioxidants
3/4 cup grated cheese, like Muenster, Gouda, Jarlsburg, Cheddar
One package dumpling wrappers (I used Nasoya Round Wraps)
Sea salt to taste

How To:
1. Make Your Filling: Peel, chop, and add potatoes to a medium saucepan. Boil in salted water until tender, about ten minutes. In the meantime, cook onions in butter over medium heat until golden brown, about 15 minutes. When potatoes are done, drain and mash (just use a potato masher). Then add onions and grated cheese, mix well.

2. Make Your Buttons: Put a rounded tablespoon in the center of a wrapper and cover with another wrapper. Press and curl up the edges to seal. Form remaining dumplings in the same way. Make sure your fingers are a little damp to help with the sealing process.

3. Cook, and Cook, and Cook: Cook dumplings, seam side up, in oil/ ghee (covering bottom of a medium sized to large saute pan) over medium to medium low heat for about 2-3 minutes each, until golden brown. Then flip and press down gently with a spoon and cook another 5 minutes (approximately) until golden brown. Unless you have the largest saute pan I've ever seen, you will need to cook in batches. I did about four or five at a time and then allowed the finished ones to rest on a plate covered with a paper towel. You will probably need to add a little more oil or ghee here and there.
I believe this makes about 27-28 dumpling buttons. They taste like crispy pierogi so I cooked up a quick batch of carmelized onions and served mine with the onions on top. Very tasty. I also dipped a few in chili my husband was cooking and that was also good! I can hear my husband in the kitchen right now sneaking more of these.....
As a really good variation, I made a super quick marinara sauce (sauteed three cloves of chopped garlic in about 1/4 cup olive oil, maybe a little less, until just starting to brown - add a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes, or chop two or three fresh tomatoes, and about 1-2 tsp Italian seasonings and simmer five minutes). I had sauteed onions from the night before, so I threw them in as well. Sprinkled with grated parmesan. Delish.

These little pain-in-the-butt dumplings ended up going a long way and being a really nice treat. The six-year old only tried the leftovers but he loved them--said they were better than pasta.
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Friday, October 7, 2011

Corn Fritters

1/2 cup spelt flour, try this
1/2 cup stone ground cornmeal, I use medium or course grind (try Bob's Red Mill)
1/4 tsp baking powder, try this
1/2 tsp cumin
1 egg
1/2 tsp sea salt
Juice of half a lemon
2 cups frozen corn, thawed (or fresh corn, even better!)
1-2 green onions, diced (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 small red or white onion (about 1/4 cup)
A variety of seasonings totaling about 1 tbsp, try chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, crushed red pepper, and cumin
Olive oil, coconut oil, butter/ ghee, and/or lard for frying
About 1/4 cup water

How To:
1. Mix: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cumin. Add egg, lemon juice, and water and mix well. Add corn and all onions as well as seasonings and stir until combined. If the batter is too thick, add a little water at this time to mix, but be careful not to add too much.

2. Cook: In the meantime, heat a medium sized pan over medium heat with enough oil/ butter/ lard (your preference) to cover the bottom. When hot, add spoonfuls (2-3 tbsp of batter) to the pan to form a fritter, pressing down gently after adding. Be careful to use a splatter guard, if possible. Cook 2-3 minutes per side and allow to cool on a plate covered with a paper towel. You'll be working in "batches" about 4-5 at a time.

Comments: Yum! These are easy to prepare and delicious. We served with Mexican Style Dipping Sauce but you could also serve with hot sauce. We actually made these to go with chili and they were a perfect compliment! In fact, we all preferred dipping the fritters into chili versus the dipping sauce.

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This post was featured on Just Another Meatless Monday.

Mexican Style Dipping Sauce

1 small container plain, no-fat Greek yogurt
Mexican seasonings, such as....
2-3 tsp Mrs Dash Fiesta Lime
2-3 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
Juice of half a lime
1 tsp honey

Mix all together and serve immediately, or refrigerate. Picture below shows dip on the side.  Recipe for the corn fritters shown in the picture is found at this link.

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Egg Drop Soup

4 cups broth/stock (chicken, vegetable, beef, mushroom - all should work just fine)
About six to eight mushrooms, shitake preferred but any fresh type would be fine, sliced thinly (if using portobello, one would be more than enough)
2 stalks green onions, cut into half inch sections, and a little extra to garnish if you wish
2 eggs
2-3 tbsp naturally fermented soy sauce
Sea salt & ground pepper to taste
Optional ingredients (5-6 spinach leaves sliced thinly and 5-6 bamboo shoots sliced thinly)

How To:
1. Bring broth to a simmer and then add mushrooms, onions, soy sauce, salt and pepper and optional ingredients (if using). Simmer for about 3-5 minutes.

2. When just about ready to serve, add egg in a slow stream and use fork (or, if you are feeling extra talented, chop sticks) to shred into long ribbons. Cook another minute and then serve. Optional garnish with green onions.

Oh wow, this is so good and so good for you if you make it using your own home made stock. And so easy to make as well. I cannot say enough good things about this super easy recipe. This makes about 4-6 servings.  I couldn't really get a good photo so don't let my poor photography skills deter you from making this very good soup.

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Test Kitchen: Leek and Asparagus Bread Pudding

This is another recipe from the Clean Eating blog I have recently discovered. Click this link for the original recipe. I modified only slightly. I have to admit, I am not a big fan of asparagus. However, my husband really likes it and so I made this recipe in the hopes that I would find an asparagus recipe we all love. Unfortunately, this recipe did not do it for me. If you like asparagus, you will really like this recipe (my husband loved it).

Olive oil
1 large leek, lighter bottom part only, sliced thinly
2 bunches aspargus, cut into 1 inch pieces (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup white cooking wine (or dry white wine)
6-8 slices of whole grain, no-sugar added bread, like Ezekial, cut into cubes
1 cup shredded cheese (swiss, gruyere, cheddar, etc.)
5 eggs
3 cups lowfat milk
1 cup chopped fresh herbs (such as chives, parsley, chervil, sage, thyme, and/or marjoram, etc.)
Salt and Pepper to taste

How To:
1. Prep: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 3-4 quart (9x12) baking dish by misting with olive oil or greasing with butter.

2. Saute: Cook leeks and asparagus in oil over medium heat 1-2 minutes, then add wine and cook about 7-8 minutes. Remove from heat to cool.

3. Eggs, Bread Cubes & Combine: In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, then add cheese and herbs followed by the cooled leeks and asparagus. Then gently fold in the bread cubes. Mix until the bread is evenly coated but not falling apart.

4. Bake: Spread into baking dish and cook uncovered 50 minutes to 1 hour, when knife or toothpick comes out clean. Wait 5-10 minutes to serve.

This makes enough for about 10-12 side dish servings. According to the original recipe, about 192 calories per serving, 2.5 grams of fiber, and 11 grams of protein. Very nice!

Mushrooms and Onions

This is a favorite dish around the house--we like it so much, it is a regular at our Thanksgiving dinner. It is so simple and easy and so very good, I hope you'll give it a try.

2 packages of sliced mushrooms
1/2 medium onion, sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt & pepper to taste
About 3 to 4 tbsp organic butter (preferrably from grass-fed cows)
Optional seasonings - thyme, parsley, a splash of balsalmic or white wine vinegar

How To:
1. (optional step, see comments below) Boil mushrooms about 10 minutes until reduced in size.

2. In the meantime, saute garlic and onions in oil/butter over medium heat. When onions are tender, add mushrooms and saute another 5-15 minutes until done. The range is wide because I like my mushrooms cooked until a little crispy on the edges, but you may not. If you've boiled them, they are cooked and you only need the time in the pan to mix together.

3. Finish with salt and pepper to taste.

Alternatively, you could just add the uncooked mushrooms to the saute pan after the onions are done. Either way is fine. Sometimes I think they should be cooked first and other times I am fine just throwing them all in the pan.

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