We’ve been waiting for Jen to get this recipe down in the right size for home cooks… here it is!
What a great way to enjoy caramel apples, but in an easier-to-make recipe. It keeps well too; the recipe can be made a day ahead and served at room temperature, or reheated. Also great- straight out of the oven! And it can be gluten-free if you grind your own oat flour in the blender. This will make more pieces for snacking size, or 8 or 10 servings for dessert, served with ice cream or whipped cream.
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. butter
Scant 1/2 tsp. baking soda
Scant 1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. oat flour (or 1 2/3 c. regular all-purpose flour)
2 c. quick-cooking oats
Make caramel first, so it can cool some. “Melt” in large iron pan until amber: > 1 c. sugar
Heat cream in microwave, then slowly add to melted sugar, stirring until mixed: > 1/2 c. heavy cream
Next, beat until creamy: > 3/4 c. brown sugar > 3/4 c. butter
Grind oat flour in the blender if desired, to make oat flour (or sub regular flour). Add to the creamed ingredients: > 2 c. oat flour (or 1 2/3 c. regular all-purpose flour) > 2 c. quick-cooking oats> scant > scant 1/2 tsp. baking soda > scant 1/2 tsp. salt
Butter 13 x 9″ pan. Press half the above into pan. Add apple layer, using: > 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, sliced thin (around 2 c. or so)
Pour caramel on next.
Sprinkle other half of oat mix on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
Thanksgiving’s just a week away! My Thanksgiving Checklist follows…
I’ve got some of the shopping done now- cranberries for chutney, yams, organic potatoes, Kabocha squash, pecans… We’ll make soup out of part of the squash, but the rest will be perfect for pumpkin pies. (I’ll just store it in the fridge for a few days.)
I grabbed some free-range chickens today; I’ll roast those, and make some stock ahead of time (for perfect gravy).
I’ll make some pie crusts too; they freeze so well, so I can do that ahead. I like to bake the pies fresh Thanksgiving morning, but it’s a breeze if the crusts are made already.
If there’s time to spare, we may make a cute veggie tray like the one to the left…
The following recipes are my faves for the holiday meal… maybe they’ll give you some ideas too!
(Don’t be misled by the above title… The New Deli does do Thanksgiving, but we do it at home. The deli closes for the long weekend, and the New Deli gang enjoys getting together with family and friends, and we all rest up before returning to our usual routine.)
Cranberry Chutney: This can be made days (even weeks) ahead, and keeps quite well. This recipe is similar to the cranberry sauce recipe on the bag of berries, but you can get away with calling it “chutney”, thanks to the addition of a dash of cayenne. (Chutneys usually contain some kind of peppers, and other spices.) A little orange and cinnamon go well in this chutney, too.
Cranberry Nut Bread: I usually prep the ingredients for this treat the day before, then just add the wet ingredients to the dry on Thanksgiving morning. Makes a great “breakfast”. No, it’s not exactly healthy-style or gluten-free, but it is made with all natural ingredients. So we splurge. It whets our appetite early in the day, priming us for the big meal!
Stuffing, New Deli Style: Get creative, add personal favorites: Apple, raisins, sausage, pecans, wild rice, and cornbread… But use a good quality bread (artisan-style or other favorites); packaged dry bread cubes often contain additives like dough conditioners and such. Also avoid real soft, generic, brand-name breads that lack texture- they can deflate into a gummy mass; not what you want. Or try this gluten-free stuffing recipe!
Sweet Potato Casserole: Yams have become the darlings of the paleo crowd; the preferred veggie to replace heavier starches like potatoes and grains. We like this recipe because the sweet potatoes turn out so moist and creamy; they have a bit more flavor baked in the oven or cooked in the slow-cooker, than when cooked in a pot of water. The nutty, streusel topping adds some texture. Make the whole dish ahead of time and rewarm in the oven. Delicious…
“Green Bean Casserole, Healthy Style”: No, this doesn’t have cans of onion rings and mushroom soup in it, but caramelized onion adds depth and sweetness. Topped with a few slivered almonds, this is one side dish that won’t stick to your sides!
Another plus: the onions can be caramelized days ahead of time. They’ll hold up well and can be stirred into the cooked green beans to serve.
Pumpkin Pie: This is a traditional pumpkin pie recipe, but the crust gets baked some first, and the other ingredients (except the eggs) get heated before mixing the eggs in and pouring into the baked pie crust to finish baking. This helps the crust to hold up better (not so soggy!). Another idea to consider, if you’re feeling ambitious: Just before serving, sprinkle the top of the cooled pie with a generous layer of sugar and blow-torch it to carmelize it. This will top the pie with a crispy, brulee-style, sugary crust. But it has to be done last minute, or the caramelized sugar absorbs moisture and turns soft. Still tasty, but not quite brulee…
Pumpkin Streusel “Upside-Down Pie”: For those of us who don’t want to wrestle with rolling out a pie crust (or by one ready-made), this is a happpy solution. There is no bottom crust, just a nutty topping that is a delicious, crunchy contrast to the smooth pumpkin custard. A personal favorite of mine, especially since this particular recipe uses natural ingredients instead the box-cake mix suggested for other versions of this.
Pecan Pie: I might not eat corn syrup much the rest of the year, but I’ll break the rules for this pie! I make two at the same time, which is particularly handy since one bottle of Karo dark corn syrup measures out as the exact amount for two pies. If there is any left over pie, it keeps well. But it disappears fast in our house.
Last but not least is the Turkey Gravy recipe. If you’re cooking a turkey, you can make gravy. There are a few considerations, like if there are overly-done, charred chunks in the roasting pan. In that case, remove blackened parts. Other drippings in the pan should get mixed in with the flour though; they have loads of flavor.
After taking the turkey out of the roasting pan, some flour gets added to the drippings. For a larger group, increase the recipe as needed. If there is too much fat in the pan, set some aside. The ratio of flour to fat is equal; one knows it’s the right amount when the flour gets added and all the fat absorbs into it. If there is excess oil after adding flour, add more flour until the mix is smooth. But be warned: More flour means more gravy! (You will have to add more liquid as well.)
Homemade chicken stock, made ahead of time, is perfect for gravy. But a box of chicken stock will substitute.
Above all else, may you gather together together with loved ones. May we all reflect on the many wonderful blessings we have.
We had a “practice dinner”, in preparation for our church’s annual Women’s Christmas Dinner (feeding two-hundred and fifty or so). It got me to thinking about the Thanksgiving table.
To help keep the dinner organized, I figured out where everyone was sitting ahead of time. I used a sharpie pen to write each person’s name on a colorful autumn leaf, which sat on their napkin, on top of each person’s plate. The table looked festive and everyone knew where to sit!
Below is a picture of the table, decorated with fresh-picked produce from our yard. We are blessed to have pomegranates, persimmons, and avocados this time of year, which make a colorful arrangement. Some kiwi vines also added greenery, although they need to be picked day-of, or they’ll get limp laying in the arrangement.
Below are links to some desktop wallpaper I created (in full-size picture form). I like to add a seasonal picture plus verse to my own computer background now and then, so I offer it as free wallpaper for you too, if you want it! A perfect verse for Thanksgiving- “”Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.” 1 Timothy 4:4-5 (NLT)
To use for desktop wallpaper, left click on appropriate monitor size, then right click and choose “select :
Not all good things cost much money. Here are six simple things you can do to perk your body up first thing in the morning, practically for free. These routines can get your body prepared for the upcoming day, with body processes functioning better!
1) Drink warm lemon water- It gets digestive process going, among other things! I like to squeeze the juice into a cup of warm water, adding the lemon wedge too (even the peel has nutrients).
2) Wake up earlier- Circadian rhythms are more in tune.
3) Scrape your tongue with a tongue sweeper– A stainless steel “tongue sweeper” is one I’d recommend, though there are also cheaper plastic models available. It doesn’t take much effort, and it might seem like it’s not cleaning much, but it will stimulate the tongue to get rid of any weird stuff hanging around… ‘sposed to help make breath smell nicer too!
4) Get physical- Stretch some, and rebound on a trampoline, or do another type of vigorous movement. I don’t have a trampoline handy, but find that doing over a hundred jumping jacks helps get the circulation going too.
5) Dry-brush– It improves circulation, sloughs off old dead skin cells. Brush your dry skin with the dry brush, towards the heart (so, like from hands, brushing up towards heart. On legs, from feet up towards heart, etc. Our skin is actually the largest organ of elimination, surprisingly. It works to get rid of toxic waste and such. Amazing, right?
6) Say a prayer- Best way I know of to start the day!
This Greek appetizer, often referred to as Dolmas, keeps well for a week or so. Around the holidays, bring them to potlucks, or serve when company drops in. They also come in handy as part of the meal on days when there’s no time to prepare anything, and are gluten-free–another plus!
For those whose gardens are graced with grape vines, the grape leaves themselves can be easily processed at home. Collect 36 or so large grape leaves during the summer months, wash the leaves, and roll up piles of twelve. Three rolls of twelve will fit in one quart jar. Just add a mixture of 3 c. water and 1 TBS. salt; weight the leaves down if necessary to keep them covered in brine. Let sit at room temperature for 3 days, then cover and refrigerate.
Makes approx. 30 pieces.
30 grape leaves (approx. one small jar, net dry weight 8 oz.)
2 c. brown rice
4 c. water
1/3 c. dried apricots
1/2 c. raisins
3 garlic cloves
1/2 c. fresh parsley
4 sprigs fresh spearmint (1/2 c. or so)
1 green apple, peeled and cored
1/2 of a medium onion
1 c. olive oil
2 tsp. salt
Earlier in day, or night before, bring to boil, then let simmer on low for 45 min. or so with the lid on: > 2 c. brown rice > 4 c. water
Refrigerate the cooked rice without stirring it, until cooled. Process the following in processor, or hand chop: > 1/3 c. dried apricots
To chopped apricots, also add and process/chop: > 1/2 c. raisins
Last of all, add to chopped dried fruits in processor, pulsing until finely chopped, but not pureed (or, again, hand chop): > 3 garlic cloves > 1/2 c. fresh parsley > 4 sprigs fresh spearmint > 1 green apple, peeled and cored > 1/2 of a medium onion
Finally, add all the above to the cooked, cooled rice, along with: > 1 c. olive oil > 2 tsp. salt
Bone broth has really helped improve my health. If there wasn’t time to make that, gelatin might do the trick.
Growing up in the sixties, a few friends had heard that packets of gelatin mixed in warm water might help with hair and nail growth. Even back then, I had some health concerns, and my nails were the pits. So… I tried it. Did my nails become awesome? Did my hair become luxurious? No! I hadn’t yet resigned myself to the fact that I did not genetically inherit the lushest of hair, or exceptional nails. So, like many other teen fads, that one faded. It didn’t solve all my problems, so I figured it bordered on useless. (Kids…)
But, as I got older, inflammation became an issue. Bone broth to the rescue! (A simple recipe for that here.) The gelatin in bone broth fills in the gaps to help make more complete proteins out of other foods. Did you know this?! Apparently, muscle meats (beef, chicken, etc.), when not balanced by other proteins (eggs, fish, dairy, organ meats, shellfish, bone broth) can contribute to inflammation. (Here’s the source for that info) Gelatin can help balance that protein out, helping us fight inflammation.
Oh, and gelatin’s got plenty of glycine, which might help suppress tumors linked with breast cancer. (See more info here.) One more great reason to add it to our diets.
The folks at Great Lakes use grass-fed cows, and good processing techniques to make this gelatin product. If I didn’t make my own bone broth, I’d get this stuff!. Or, another product of theirs: Collegen Hydrolysate. For that, the gelatin is processed a bit more, making it more digestible- perfect for those with weaker digestive issues. Another plus about this form of gelatin is that it will mix well with cold foods, unlike straight gelatin, which is best mixed into hot foods. So it’s great in smoothies!
I’m gonna have some of my bone broth for lunch today, now that I’ve reminded myself of how great this stuff is. Homemade is ideal, since it even has minerals too. But, if time is short, check Great Lakes’ gelatin out!
Find more of the wallpapers I’ve worked up, by clicking “Desktop Wallpapers“, under “Recipes” (at the bottom of the page).
Just when the last dahlias of summer were finished blooming, a few fall berries started ripening. I threw everything together in a vase and realized: there really IS a season for everything, and “a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Even when we grieve the ending of one thing, there is a a new thing to rejoice in.
Below is the desktop wallpaper I’ve put on my own computer for this season- a good reminder of Ecclesiastes 3:1- “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”!
If you want to use the picture for desktop wallpaper, you can click the links below, which are sized to fit wide or short monitors. Left click on the monitor size you want, which brings you to the actual picture, then right click and choose “select (or set) as desktop background”.
Like Tom and me, our nephew grew tired of Michigan’s weather and thought he’d venture to California. Ah, a millennial following in our footsteps! We had a place for him at The New Deli, and a spare room, so it’s worked out well.
It’s been especially fun to discover that our nephew Nolan is about as weirdly frugal as us. Back in 2013, when Nolan first moved in with us out here in California, he asked me if I could look into a product called “Vitafiber”. He was hoping to make his own Quest bars with the stuff, which would save him considerable money.
I’d never heard of Vitafiber. Or Quest bars. I don’t run with the crowd that works out at the gym and buys muscle-building supplements! But I do get a lot of exercise, and hitch a ride on the Paleo bandwagon often enough, so Nolan’s interests and mine do intersect at points. Not to mention the frugal quality- saving money can be a driving force for me!
So I looked into it. My nephew warned me- the product was fairly new and hadn’t quite hit the mainstream. I concluded that it seemed a bit pricey at that time. But it did just become available on Amazon this spring, so- I guess it’s mainstream now!
And while not everyone will want to spend the extra dollars on VitaFiber, some might want to check it out, to see if it works for them. It’s been known to improve sleep, glucose tolerance, to lower blood sugar, and aid digestion. I was glad I tried it!
Homemade Chocolate Quest Bars
Quest bars are the beloved snack of much of the muscle-building clan, and other paleo sorts trying to avoid an excess of carbs. Quest bars are super low-carb, since they’re only sweetened with a “prebiotic fiber” commonly known as VitaFiber. It’s also known as “ISO”, which stands for a long, scientific name (isomalto-oligosaccharide). Sounds man-made, but it’s basically just starch (from various starchy food sources) that has been fermented to yield this somewhat-sweet product.
I made the following small batch of bars, which will come in handy on an upcoming trip. Hey, far better than airplane food, and much more convenient than trying to make a smoothie while I’m on the road (or in the air)!
You might dip these in bittersweet chocolate and roll ‘em in some chopped nuts, which would no doubt increase their popularity. Makes 4 small bars.
1/4 C. VitaFiber Syrup
5 TBS. whey powder
2 tsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1. Oil measuring cup before measuring out syrup. Use: > 1/4 c. VitaFiber Syrup
2. Heat the syrup in a pan, bring it to a boil.
3. Remove the pan from heat; stir in the remaining ingredients, mixing heartily until smooth. Use: >5 TBS. whey powder > 2 tsp. cocoa powder > 1 tsp. cinnamon > 1/4 tsp. salt
4. Oil a small square loaf pan (4” long or so), or use silicon molds (available on Amazon). Add mixture to pan and refrigerate.
5. Cut into 4 bars. If desired, dip into melted bittersweet chocolate and roll in nuts. Other flavor ideas: Use mint extract instead of cinnamon. Or substitute Matcha green tea powder for the cocoa powder and cinnamon. Use vanilla or almond extracts too, depending on your personal tastes.
OK- I really wanted to believe those super-handy, packaged beets would rate about as good as fresh, even if they are a bit more costly. A lot of us won’t buy canned beets, but Trader Joe’s has some “steamed and peeled”, packaged beets in their fresh vegetable section. They’re perishable, so they must be pretty natural! No extra anything, just beets. And- they’d be so much easier to serve.
An 8-ounce package of Trader Joe’s steamed beets cost $1.49. Not baa-a-a-d… Of course the fresh beets were cheaper- $1.49 for a whole pound. But the fresh would be a lot more work. So… would the packaged ones taste all right?
They DID taste all right. The first time. But next time, I bought both fresh and packaged, to do a side-by-side taste test. The fresh ones had much better flavor, color and texture. Also, the juice of the fresh-cooked was intense, deep fushia colored; the packaged ones had a much wimpier, browner colored juice.
After home-cooking my fresh beets, the yield of “beet meat” was a third less. So, it cost $1.49/lb. for what ended up being 2/3 lb. Oh well. They were delicious. I suppose if you’d rather save time, and flavor/nutrition/texture isn’t your biggest concern, get the packaged ones. They are probably better for you that a bag o’ chips fried in PUFA oil!
I’ll be going back to steaming, roasting, or simmering my own. They’re just so much better.
More in my beet quest: I also experimented with fermenting beets. Naturally fermented raw beets, not like the canned pickled beets available. (I wanted my probiotics!) So I got my gloves on, prepped a big bunch of beets, added salt, and let ’em ferment. I added sauerkraut juice to the mix to speed things along. They still didn’t ferment as quickly as sauerkraut. But I finally ended up with a jar of “pickled beets”. They’re good! I’ve used them in an occasional batch of Borscht, and on salads. There was the initial time investment (peeling, slicing), but the fermented beets last a long time. I shouldn’t be needing anymore packaged beets. Ever.
Side Note About Beets: Maybe THAT’s why some Russians have lived long, healthy lives? Among other things, beets contain polyphenols and betalains (antioxidants); also- betaine, which encourages the liver to eliminate toxins. Oh. Plus, then taste good!
The deli girls were craving another batch of granola bars. I must admit, I welcomed the idea- after all, we don’t live on bread alone! Tom does rely on a nice chunk of whole wheat sourdough bread for snacking on almost every day, so this would be a nice change of pace. I opted to change up the ingredients in the energy bars I often make, since I wanted to do something with pistachios. I was thrilled to discover the bars tasted a lot like baklava!
A hint of almond extract, mixed with the honey and toasted pistachios, makes these energy bars taste almost like the buttery Greek confection, baklava. Only healthier! Makes 20 small bars.
3 1/2 c. oatmeal (1 lb.) (gluten-free if necessary)
2 c. toasted hazelnuts (or sub almonds, or cashews)
1/4 c. coconut oil
1/4 c. butter
2/3 c. honey
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. almond extract
4 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. toasted pistachios
1 rounded c. pitted Deglet Noor dates
In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the oatmeal until a bit golden, stirring constantly. Or, toast it in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or so, until golden.
Process approximately half the oatmeal into flour in a blender (or food processor). Use: > 1 1/2 c. oatmeal
Set toasted oat flour aside in separate bowl. Process the other half of oatmeal a bit coarser, to give the bars some texture. Use: > 2 c. oatmeal
Add coarse-chopped oatmeal to the bowl of oat flour. Process the toasted hazelnuts in a blender (or food processor) until it turns into nut butter. Use: > 2 c. toasted hazelnuts
To the hazelnut butter in blender/processor, add: > 1/4 c. coconut oil > > 1/4 c. butter > 2/3 c. honey > 1 tsp. salt > 2 tsp. almond extract > 4 tsp. cinnamon
Add the hazelnut butter mix to the oats in bowl. Lightly process to coarse-chop: > 1 c. toasted pistachios
Add chopped pistachios to bowl; coarse-chop dates in blender next. Use: > 1 rounded c. pitted dates
Add dates to bowl of other ingredients. Mix with hands until blended. Press into 9″ x 9″ pan or dish; chill until firm (about an hour) before cutting. If desired, slice and wrap in wax paper; store in jar in fridge.