When our good buddy invited us to a Superbowl Party at their house, I knew I could make a decent bean dip, so I told her I’d bring it along.
We used to make this pretty killer recipe all the time; we actually used it to make about fifty or so burritos a day. Back in the eighties, when we were silly, we named it a “Mad Mex Burrito” (a play on the movie, “Mad Max”). We’d come up with goofy names for our sandwich labels, and pack up boxes of stuff for health food stores, delivering around the Bay Area.
Ah, those were the days! Our competitors (Wildwood Foods), had a taco named the “Solar Taco”. We didn’t want to take ourselves too seriously, so we named ours, “Nuclear Taco” (with a sub heading that said, “It’s a blast”). It was a little tongue-in-cheek. Maybe we went too far. After all, we were delivering to a fairly tree-hugging community. Someone decided perhaps it was in poor taste. Maybe, but poor taste tasted pretty good!
We re-named the taco.
If you want to know how to make this bean dip, you might look at the Black Bean Chili recipe. It’s basically the same idea, but you sub pinto beans for black beans, and sub chili powder for the other herbs. It can become bean dip, but it can also be used for burritos, or thinned out for a soup. Call it Mad Mex Beans, if you like. Or Nuclear. It is a blast!
There are many versions of the 7-layer salad recipe around, and many people probably have their own favorites. This one is my favorite; the combination of green peas and parmesan go so well together, and the flavors of the finely-chopped veggies layered under it permeate the whole salad.
As a newlywed (almost forty years ago) I’d take this to many get-togethers, where most everyone would be excited about it. Part of the appeal may be that it contains a lot of finely-chopped salad veggies, so you get all the flavor without having to chew forever. I suspect easy-to-chew food is an advantage at social gatherings, as you can spend more time talking, less time chewing! Serves 8.
Iceberg lettuce (1/2 head or more)(yes, you can use Romaine if preferred)
Half of one bunch celery
1-2 green or red peppers
One red onion
10 oz. package frozen peas
1-2 c. Mayonnaise (8-12oz.)
2/3 c. Parmesan cheese (3-4 oz.)
1/2 lb. bacon
1. Hand-slice into fine strips, or use food processor w/ 4mm slicing disc to slice: > Iceberg lettuce (1/2 head or more)
2. Layer lettuce in bottom of a deep glass bowl, preferably one with steep, straight-up sides. A trifle bowl (as shown) is perfect. Otherwise, other glass or pyrex-type dishes will work.
3. In processor, or by hand, fine-chop the following, layering on top of shredded lettuce: > Half of one bunch celery (for first layer) > 2 green or red peppers (for next layer) > One red onion (for next layer)
4. Last, layer on the following: > 10 oz. package frozen peas (they’ll thaw as salad sits) > 1-2 c. Mayonnaise (8-12oz.) dolloped over peas to cover > 2/3 c. Parmesan cheese (3-4 oz.)
5. Assemble ingredients in order given. Can make one day early–the flavors blend nicely this way. Before serving, top with: > 1/2 lb. bacon, fried crisp, drained, cooled and crumbled
6. The bacon can also be cooked the day before. It stays crisp and keeps just fine in the refrigerator overnight. No need to toss the salad before serving; guests can dig in and get salad and dressing all in one scoop.
Though this is a quite textured corn bread, it is gluten-free, which can be a plus. The flavors go well with roasted meats (see Stuffed Pork Loin Roast here).
Use whole grain, organic corn flour from the health food store if possible (as opposed to the standard “degerminated” corn meal). Coconut milk can even substitute for the buttermilk. Maple syrup and frozen apple juice concentrate eliminate the need for refined sugar, while adding extra flavor and moistness.
Serves 4 (if half is used for the stuffed pork dish), or serves 8 as a side dish.
Half of a medium onion (about 3/4 c.)
1/2 c. celery
1 med. apple
2 TBS. fresh chopped sage (or 2 tsp. dry
2 TBS. frozen apple juice concentrate
2 TBS. maple syrup
1/4 c. olive oil
3/4 c. buttermilk (or substitute regular milk w/lemon added, or coconut milk)
1/3 c. golden raisins (Optional)
1 1/2 c. corn flour, not degerminated (found at health food stores)
4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1. In a 12″ skillet, grill the following in a dash of olive oil, until translucent, about 10 min.: > Half of a medium onion (about 3/4 c.), chopped > 1/2 c. celery, minced
2. To the cooked onion and celery in pan, add: > 1 med. apple, peeled, cored, and diced (about 1 c.)
3. Cook the apple/onion mix just a minute or so. Turn off heat and add: > 2 TBS. fresh chopped sage (or 2 tsp. dry)
4. In a separate bowl, beat: > 2 eggs
5. Also add to the egg bowl: > 2 TBS. frozen apple juice concentrate > 2 TBS. maple syrup > 1/4 c. olive oil > 3/4 c. buttermilk (or substitute regular milk w/lemon added, or coconut milk) > 1/3 c. golden raisins (optional)
6. Mix the dry ingredients separately: > 1 1/2 c. corn flour, not degerminated (find at health food stores) > 4 tsp. baking powder > 1/4 tsp. salt
7. To the egg bowl, also add: > The grilled mix > The dry ingredients
8. Mix everything up, stirring just until smooth. Add a splash of olive oil to the iron skillet, and pour the batter into the skillet. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or so, until golden. Serve warm (or room temperature).
A whole pork loin (about 6-8 lb.) can be cut in half, making it easier to fit into a zip-lock bag for marinating. If starting with a smaller roast, cut down a bit on the marinade ingredients. It may still take up to 1 1/2 hours to cook; a meat thermometer stuck in the middle of the roast should read 155 degrees when it’s done.
There are many ways of cooking the pork loin (longer on low heat, or a shorter time on higher heat); roast it at a steady 325 degrees for a most tender roast. Even for a smaller group, cook up the whole roast (cut in half), and save half for meals later in the week. A 6-lb. pork loin roast will serve 10 or so.
6-8 lb. boneless pork loin roast
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
2 TBS. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. frozen apple juice concentrate
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. black pepper
handful of fresh sage (or sub less dried)
handful fresh rosemary (or sub less dried)
3-4 fresh apples (optional)
1. Warm in a small bowl in the microwave, 30-60 seconds, until sugar dissolves: > 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar > 2 TBS. sugar > 1 tsp. salt
2. Mix above ingredients until smooth. Add: > 1/4 c. olive oil > 1/4 c. frozen apple juice concentrate > 1/4 tsp. cloves > 1/2 tsp. black pepper > about 1/4 c. total of chopped fresh sage and rosemary (or sub a lesser quantity of dried herbs)
3. Into a zip-lock bag or two, add the meat and the above mixture: > 6-8 lb. boneless pork loin roast, cut in half (or leave whole if using smaller roast) > The marinade mixture
4. Let the pork roast marinate for a day or two. To serve, roast the meat in an iron pan (or other baking dish), with fat side up, at 325 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Remove from oven to add: > (Optional) 3-4 cored, sliced apples, peeled (if desired)
5. Finish roasting the meat and apples, still at 325 degrees, for 45-50 minutes longer, until meat thermometer reads 155 degrees. Remove from oven, letting meat rest for 15 minutes or so, to reabsorb its juices. Slice, arrange on a platter, and serve.
You don’t have to have a gluten-intolerance to enjoy these cupcakes, adapted from the “Quinoa 365” cookbook. A tasty, nutritious alternative to wheat-based recipes. I actually like these better than regular chocolate cake.
I’ve made these the hard way (creaming the butter, sugar and eggs first), but then found that I could add ingredients one at a time to the blender (or food processor) and save steps. The cocoa powder doesn’t even need sifting. Yay!
A simple “buttercream” frosting, flavored with almond extract, is optional. Makes 36 mini-cupcakes, or 12 standard-size, or two 8” layer cakes.
2/3 c. black quinoa (or substitute red, beige, or mixed)*
1/3 c. yogurt (or substitute milk)
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
1/4 c. olive oil
3/4 c. lightly-packed brown sugar (or palm sugar)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1. Quinoa contains a bitter element which can be rinsed off. It should always be rinsed, although some recipes don’t mention that. One can also presoak the quinoa overnight. The night before, in quart-sized container, soak: > 2/3 c. quinoa (black or other) > cold water to cover
2. Prepare pans for baking. For cupcakes, use cupcake liners; if those aren’t available, butter the cupcake/tart pans. For cake, butter two round layer pans, adding wax paper rounds to bottom of pans; butter again.
3. After soaking overnight, drain quinoa and cook in saucepan. (*See note below recipe if not pre-soaking quinoa.) Start on high heat, but turn to simmer, cooking for 12-15 minutes: > 2/3 c. quinoa, soaked and drained > 2/3 c. boiling water
4. Let quinoa cool some, then process it until somewhat pureed, in food processor or blender. Add and process again with the yogurt: > The cooked, processed quinoa > 1/3 c. yogurt (or substitute milk)
5. To the processed quinoa/yogurt mixture, add and process until smooth: > 1/2 c. butter, room temperature > 1/4 c. olive oil > 3/4 c. brown sugar (or palm sugar) > 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
6. Add the eggs to the processor/blender, pulsing just until mixed: > 4 eggs
7. Last, add the dry ingredients to the mixture, again pulsing just until smooth: > 3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder > 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder > 1/2 tsp. baking soda > 1/4 tsp. salt
8. Divide the batter into one prepared standard-size cupcake tin (making 12), or into three tart-sized (making 36 mini cupcakes). (Or use 2 8” round pans.) Bake in preheated 350 degree oven. Standard-size cupcakes should take 22 minutes; bake minis for about 17 minutes or so (until a tester comes out clean.) (Alternatively, two 8” round layers should bake for 40 minutes or so.)
9. Let cool before unmolding.
1. For frosting, whip together for quite some time in the mixer, until light and fluffy: > 1 stick butter, room temperature > 1/2 tsp. almond extract > Scant 1 c. confectioner’s sugar
2. Frosting can be put into a quart-sized zip-lock bag until ready to frost. To decorate, snip the tip off one of the frosting bag’s corners, squeezing frosting in dollops onto each cupcake. Serve, or freeze for up to several weeks.
* Alternatively, quinoa can be rinsed instead of pre-soaking. In that case, cook in (almost) double the water—1 1/4 c. boiling water to 2/3 c. quinoa
** 2/3 c. uncooked equals 2 c. cooked quinoa, if using pre-cooked quinoa
One of the easiest ways to begin eating healthier is to stock the kitchen with the right things. I’ll admit to grabbing frozen, prepared foods on occasion when our family’s schedules were crazy. A bag of frozen pot stickers from Costco could come in pretty handy in a pinch…
But planning is key, if we’re determined to prepare healthier meals from scratch. We might not have time to run to the store to get fresh groceries, but we can often make a meal of what we’ve got on hand. If we plan for it!
If you’re not feeling up to the challenge, just imagine having your own private version of Master Chef: Today’s challenge is to throw together a tasty meal with “these items”. You can do it! There are no camera crews, no judges breathing down your neck, watching your every move. There are no audiences questioning the wisdom of your efforts.
Thankfully, a hungry family will most likely enjoy whatever you’ve prepared.
So here’s the list of things that help me throw something together when I’m in a pinch:
NINE KITCHEN INGREDIENTS TO STOCK
1. Beans: You can store dry beans in the pantry, and they’ll keep over a year. Some beans, like red lentils, only take 20 minutes to cook. Others take longer; you’ll need to get in the habit of cooking those beans ahead of time. But with their long shelf life, they’ll wait patiently for you, until you’re ready to put them to work in a meal. Make extra, and freeze ‘em! They can be seasoned Mexican Style (add some cumin), Italian style (add rosemary and oregano), Asian style (add curry powder). There are many possibilities.
2. Whole Grains: Vary the family’s diet with other grains. Barley, “hulled” (the non-pearled kind from health food stores) has a meaty texture. Corn meal and corn flour (found in health food stores; not degerminated) can sub for wheat in making quick breads. Oatmeal, processed into a flour, makes a nice substitute for wheat and bread crumbs; great for dredging chicken. Rice, millet, and quinoa (high in complete protein) are also options. (Work up to quinoa—it’s perhaps not as “tasty” as other grains…)
3. Freezer Stock: Beef and pork roasts and whole fryers are handy to keep stocked. Thaw 2 days ahead in the refrigerator (for large chunks of meat); cook ‘em up and use leftovers to create other dishes throughout the week. Frozen, skinless, boneless chicken breast (or thigh meat) is also handy; you can take out just a few pieces at a time. Frozen fish is often available too, and can be a lot fresher than “fresh” fish.
4. Oils: Have various oils in your arsenal to add different flavors to simple dishes. Toasted sesame oil will lend an Asian flavor; extra Virgin olive oil can make a dish more Greek or Italian style. Virgin coconut oil is especially healthy and is good in Thai foods. And truffle oil (as a “finishing oil”, added after cooking) is a special treat- great in mashed potatoes or pasta.
5. Nuts, Seeds: Add texture with nuts and seeds. They’ll add healthy oils, and protein too—they can be meal-savers when there’s only a minimal amount of meat to work with. There are plenty of choices; consider almonds, avocados, cashews, coconut, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts… Wow- what a selection! Add a few, perhaps toasted, to garnish a dish. You can make nut milk by soaking cashews overnight; process the next day and use to add flavor and nutrients.
6. Vegetables (The Longer Lasting Ones): Use veggies to add variety and color to a base of some starch and meat. Beets, carrots, celery, garlic, onion, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and winter squashes are all veggies that will keep mercifully long in your refrigerator. You may forget to use them for a week or two, but when you’re desperate to make that last-minute-meal out of nothing, there they are!
7. Dried Fruits: Apples, apricots, dates, figs, pears, raisins—these can all be meal-savers. Maybe this is the last day to use that package of greens. So go for a salad theme. Pick some nuts for texture, add some chopped dried fruits and slices of whatever cheese or leftover meat is on hand… Pretend you’re at a gourmet restaurant, and give it a fancy title. (Like, “Spring Greens with cranberries, pecans, and chicken”.) Make a simple dressing using a favorite oil, some vinegar. Add salt and fresh ground pepper—delicious!
8. Dried Herbs/Spices: These will help keep things interesting. Favorites to keep on hand might include: Basil, bay leaf, black pepper, cayenne, cinnamon, cumin seed (and powder), curry, dill weed (and seed), ginger, oregano, paprika, rosemary, sage. The list can become long, but start with a few basics. And consider that it can be more inexpensive to buy small amounts of dried herbs in bulk from health food stores.
9. Vinegars: Apple Cider vinegar, Balsamic vinegar (look for a quality brand, no sugar added), red wine vinegar, rice vinegar, white vinegar—all these can add a dash of tang to so many dishes. Handy to have on hand!
I pulled this recipe out of the archives, since I’m planning ahead for summer barbeques. I’ve already got some homemade BBQ sauce on hand (easy, since we make this all the time at The New Deli). So–let’s get some charcoal!
This is one of my fave recipes for London Broil or Tri-Tip (AKA “bottom sirloin butt” or “triangle roast”). Either cut is economical AND so flavorful. (Did you know the expensive cuts are much more tender, but cheaper cuts have a more robust flavor?)
A bit of sugar helps the meat to brown; soy sauce adds savory flavor, and vinegar tenderizes. Easy!
Another plus: Tri-tip is also usually a decent size for a smaller family. This recipe serves 4-6.
One Tri-Tip Roast (2-3 lb.) (or London Broil)
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. soy sauce (divided)
1/4 c. plus 1 TBS. olive oil (divided)
2 TBS. sweet black rice vinegar (or 1 TBS. sugar)
10 oz. fresh mushrooms
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
Optional: fresh garlic and fresh herbs
1. One to several days earlier, marinate a Tri-Tip roast (or London Broil) in a zip-lock bag. Add to bag: > One 3 lb. roast > 1/4 c. red wine vinegar > 1/4 c. soy sauce > 1 TBS. olive oil > 2 TBS. sweet black rice vinegar (or 1 TBS. sugar)
2. Let marinate up to several days. Sear roast in smoking hot pan; turn only when browned on one side, to then brown the other. Put pan in 400 degree oven; roast for 30 minutes or so, until it reaches 120 degrees for medium rare. Let it stay in the oven longer, with the temperature lowered, for a more well-done roast. Remove and let rest at least 15 minutes before cutting; roast will reabsorb its juices.
3. Marinate some mushrooms for a day or so as well. To another Ziploc bag, add: > 10 oz. fresh mushrooms > 1/4 c. olive oil
4. Toss the mushrooms around in the bag until they’ve absorbed the oil.
5. Next, add to bag: > 1/4 c. soy sauce > 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar > Optional: fresh garlic and fresh herbs
6. If sauce is desired, drain the marinade from the mushrooms into a sauce pan, boiling until it reaches a thicker, sauce-like consistency. Serve the meat with the mushrooms, with sauce on the side.
To roast fresh Anaheim or Pasilla peppers at home, broil them or grill in very hot pan with a lid on it; turn the peppers as needed until all sides are blackened. Let cool, then peel off skin and remove core and seeds, trying to keep peppers as whole as possible. Canned peppers can also be used.
Paprika forms the base for this sauce- a “mole” of sorts, although it doesn’t have the cocoa powder that some chefs incorporate. It’s a nice change from tomato sauce!
Serves 5; enough for two chili rellenos per serving.
1 lb. Jack cheese, divided
1 1/2 to 2 lb. Pasilla or Anaheim Chilis (or 29 oz. can whole green chilis)
6 eggs, separated
Flour for dredging
1/3 c. flour (or substitute fine corn flour or other favorite)
Cooking oil (canola or coconut oil is good for this)
1/3 c. flour
1/3 c. olive oil
2 TBS. paprika
1/2 TBS. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
3 c. boiling water
1. Cut cheese into 1/2-inch thick rectangles, almost as long as the chili. Reserve some of the cheese for garnishing (grate the leftover and sprinkle on top). Use: > about half of the 1 lb. Jack cheese
2. To stuff the chilis, pat the drained chilis somewhat dry with paper towel. Place a slice of cheese into each chili, gently so as not to tear it. If the cheese is too large, trim it to fit. Make sure any open edges of the chili still come together. Dust the stuffed peppers lightly with flour, so batter will stick better.
3. Meanwhile, whip the egg whites until almost stiff peaks form. Use: > 6 egg whites
4. Gently fold in the egg yolks and flour: > 6 egg yolks > 1/3 c. flour
5. Preheat a large skillet, then add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan, adding more oil as needed, as cooking proceeds. One at a time, dip the stuffed chilis into the batter and then into the hot oil. Let one side firm up; flip to cook other side, until batter is a crisp golden brown. Remove chilis from the oil and drain on paper towels.
6. In sauce pan, make the Red Sauce to serve over the rellenos Make a roux of the following: > 1/3 c. oil > 1/3 c. flour > 2 TBS. paprika > 1/2 TBS. chili powder > 1 tsp. salt > 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
7. To the roux, slowly add: > 3 c. boiling water
8. Bring mixture to a boil; simmer 2 minutes until cooked.
9. Pour the red sauce over the chili rellenos; top with the remaining cheese (grated or crumbled), broiling until cheese is golden.
A good marinade has a few simple elements: Vinegar or lemon for tenderizing, sugar to help the meat to brown well, soy sauce (or other salty additions) to add savory flavor, plus favorite herbs and spices. This recipe uses fresh ginger and garlic, mixed in with a basic soy sauce/vinegar/brown sugar mix. It’s a quick and easy recipe that tastes great!
Make this recipe for a group, or for a family meal, with extra for future meals. Bone what’s left and use it with the sauce from baking the chicken, in a simple stir-fry over rice. A quick meal at a later date!
Boneless chicken can be substituted; it doesn’t have as much flavor, but it will serve more people. Boneless, skinless thighs are a good choice, as breast meat can be a bit dry. Serves 15 or so.
2. Add and process all ingredients: > 2/3 c. brown sugar > 1 c. soy sauce > 1 c. white vinegar
3. Marinate chicken in the above mix for 1-4 days in a sturdy zip-lock plastic bag. Use: > 9 lb. fresh or frozen chicken pieces, w/ skin and bone in (thighs or other favorites)
4. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour, or barbecue on the grill. Serve right from oven, or at room-temperature, or chill to serve cold. Save the juices from baking the chicken in a bowl in the refrigerator. After chilling, remove the fat that hardens on top; this makes an excellent base for a great sauce later in the week.
The following recipe makes extra of the rice, which is nice—it makes a great side dish later in the week. It keeps well, and can even be frozen. And- it’s perfect for gluten-free folks!
To “stuff” the chicken, simply lift the skin up off the breast a bit, stuffing the rice underneath. (The trickiest part may be in locating chicken breast that still has the skin on it.) Use any amount of chicken breasts, according to how many servings are needed. This recipe will serve 7-8, plus extra wild rice stuffing.
3 1/2 c. water, plus 3 more c. water
1 c. wild rice
3-4 bay leaf
1 carrot, peeled, left whole to cook until tender
2 c. white rice (if brown rice, cook 40 min.)
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
hearty splash of olive oil
2 1/2 tsp. Vege-sal (found at Health Food Stores, or sub 1 1/2 tsp. salt)
1 1/2 c. walnuts (toast if desired)
1/3 c. frozen orange concentrate
1/2 tsp. thyme
7 or 8 chicken breasts with skin on (bone in, if desired)
8 oz. can of pitted black cherries
Chicken stock, water, or black cherry juice to make 1 1/2 c. liquid
3 TBS. brown sugar
1 TBS. corn starch
1. Prepare Wild Rice Stuffing ahead of time, even a day earlier. In pot with a lid, bring to boil: > 3 1/2 c. water
2. Add the following the pot, to precook the wild rice: > 1 c. wild rice > more: > 2 c. brown rice (if white rice, cook 15 minutes)
3. Grill in pan until tender: > 1 small onion, diced > 2 stalks celery, chopped > the pre-cooked, diced carrot > hearty splash of olive oil
4. To the pot of cooked rice, add: > The grilled celery, onion, carrot > 2 1/2 tsp. Vege-sal (found at Health Food Stores, or sub 1 1/2 tsp. salt) > 1 1/2 c. walnuts (toast if desired) > 1/3 c. frozen orange concentrate > 1/2 tsp. thyme
5. In 13 x 9 ” dish, use: > 7 or 8 chicken breasts with skin on (bone in, if desired)
6. Lift skin from the chicken and stuff with: > The cooked wild rice mixture
7. Bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes or so, until chicken is golden and cooked through. Meanwhile, make Black Cherry Sauce.
Black Cherry Sauce
1. Drain one 8 oz. can of pitted black cherries, set cherries aside, use juice in sauce. Mix together in sauce pan: > Juice of 8 oz. can black cherries, plus enough stock, water, or black cherry juice to make 1 1/2 c. liquid > 3 TBS. brown sugar > 1 TBS. corn starch
2. Turn pan on high, stirring until it comes to a boil. Lower heat, let sauce cook 1 minute more, then add reserved cherries. Serve over the chicken.