Rice-cooker, step aside. There is more than one way to skin a cat (ew- sorry, PITA). What I mean is, there’s more than one way to cook rice!
Paella is a Spanish rice dish, typically made in a “paella pan”. (My iron skillet works just fine.) I add a bit of turmeric to this too- it’s got many benefits, including being anti inflammatory. Plus, when turmeric is coupled with black pepper, its healthy effects are squared to the tenth power! (Or something like that…)
Coax flavor out of a pinch of saffron threads by steeping it first (like a tea infusion). Also, use leftovers, if desired, in place of seafood in this dish. Makes around 6 servings.
Pinch of saffron (about 18 threads)
1 lb. uncooked sausage
1/2 c. onion
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 TBS. paprika
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary (or to taste)
1 c. tomato pieces (or sub red pepper)
1 1/2 c. rice (short grain or Aborio)
3 c. boiling water
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. green peas (or 1 TBS. parsley, for color)
1 lb. scallops, shrimp, or other favorite
Steep saffron in boiling water in small bowl; set aside. Use: > pinch saffron (about 18 threads) > 1/4 c. boiling water
Cut raw sausage into pieces and grill in iron skillet, setting aside when browned. Use: > 1 lb. uncooked sausage (of choice)
Cook the onion and olive oil in an iron skillet over medium heat until tender. Use: > 1/2 c. onion > 1/4 c. olive oil
Add to onions, heating until fragrant, stirring well: > 1/2 TBS. paprika > 1 tsp. oregano > 1/2 tsp. turmeric > 1/2 tsp. black pepper > 2 cloves garlic > 1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary (or to taste)
Add the tomatoes to the onion/seasoning mix and heat, stirring occasionally, until liquids are reduced and tomatoes caramelize some. Use: > 1 15-oz. can tomato pieces (or sub red peppers, diced)
Add the rice and stir well. Use: > 1 1/2 c. white rice (short grain or Aborio)
Add hot water, cover pan with foil, and simmer for 20 minutes. No need to stir, but shake the pan a bit, so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. Use: > 3 c. boiling water
Add to the pan last, burying the raw seafood under the rice, so it’ll cook. Also add the saffron water. Simmer without stirring for another 8 minutes or so, until rice is al dente. Use: > 1 lb. scallops or shrimp > the saffron water
After 8 minutes or so, stir in the salt, and add green peas for color (or some fresh-chopped parsley). Also add the reserved, cooked sausage. Use: > 1 1/2 tsp. salt > 1/2 c. green peas (or 1 TBS. parsley, for color) > reserved, cooked sausage
Let rice finish cooking, until fluffy and moist. When done, turn heat up for half a minute or so, to lightly toast the bottom layer of rice. Serve with a side of lemon wedges.
A favorite family memory has been enjoying a giant apple pancake at The Original Pancake House in Birmingham, Michigan (after standing in the very long line).
My sister was trying to duplicate this years ago, before the internet. More recently, I’ve scoured the web and tried countless variations, finally concluding that this particular recipe comes pretty close to the pancake house recipe. Whew! I wasn’t sure how many more of these we could eat! (We really suffer for our art, ha…)
A popover-type batter rises up as it bakes in the caramelizing apples. And it can be convenient to serve for company, since the batter can be prepared ahead of time.
3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. nutmeg (fresh-grated is nice)
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. milk, room temperature
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1. Make batter the night before, if possible. (Or let it rest at least 10 minutes.) For the batter, whisk milk into the flour and salt in a bowl (small lumps are OK). Use: > 3/4 c. flour > 1/2 tsp. nutmeg > 1/2 tsp. salt > 3/4 c. milk
2. Add eggs one at a time: > 4 eggs
3. Refrigerate the batter overnight, or let rest (up to several hours) at room temperature.
4. The cinnamon and sugar can also be mixed together ahead of time. Use: > 2 tsp. cinnamon > 2/3 c. sugar
5. To prepare the pancake, bring batter out of refrigerator. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
6. Peel, core, and slice the apples. Use: > 3 c. sliced, tart apples
7. Turn iron skillet* on medium high heat and add to the pan: > 1/3 c. butter > 3 c. sliced, tart apples > the cinnamon/sugar mix
8. Stir the butter, apples, and cinnamon sugar for 2-3 minutes, until apples have softened some and the mixture is bubbling.
9. Pour the pancake batter on top of the apple mixture.
10. Bake for 20 minutes or so, until lightly browned.
11. To serve, turn upside-down onto plate; sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar.
*If skillet isn’t available, use a Pyrex pan and heat the butter/apple/sugar mix in the oven for 10 minutes.
When I was a newlywed, we didn’t just eat Sunday dinners at Tom’s folks’ house. We lived there! So we ate dinner with them most every night. I got to hone my cooking skills on the family, since most evenings, no one else was too keen on preparing anything. I had bookmarked all the Betty Crocker recipes I was planning to try, and most of the meals I made were well-received.
But my in-laws were classic meat-and-potato folks. So the first time I made an ethnic dish with raisins and green olives, Tom’s dad looked pretty alarmed. He was very polite, but I knew I had gone beyond his threshold for culinary adventure.
I’ll admit, Betty Crocker’s version of “ethnic” didn’t seem totally authentic. Years later, I’ve discovered a Moroccan recipe we really enjoy. It’s exotic. It’s different. It’s delicious!
Enjoy the savory/sweet flavor combination of green olives, lemon peel, and raisins, with extra texture from the toasted, slivered almonds.
1 free-range chicken
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 bay leaves
2 TBS. fresh rosemary
2 TBS. olive oil
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. green olives, pitted
1/3 c. slivered, toasted almonds
Fresh parsley for garnish
2 TBS. fresh mint, chopped
A day ahead (or several hours earlier), prepare chicken by cutting whole fryer into pieces (or use 5 lbs. or so drumsticks, thighs, etc.). It helps to cut chicken breast pieces in half, as they will cook better that way.
Use potato peeler to get the peel off the lemons. Set aside several lemon peels to use later for garnish.
Prepare marinade. Add the following to a dish, to marinate chicken in: > Peel from 2 lemons (reserve some though) > juice of 2 lemons > 1 tsp. salt > 1 tsp. cinnamon > 4 bay leaves > 2 TBS. fresh rosemary > 2 TBS. olive oil
Coat the chicken pieces with the mixture and let marinate in refrigerator overnight, or at least several hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange marinated pieces of chicken in large pan for baking. Bake until done, about 25-35 minutes.
Set baked chicken aside to rest; deglaze pan by adding liquid: > 1/4 c. red wine or water
Add raisins and olives to pan, stirring on medium heat until heated through.
To serve, spoon pan juices over chicken, garnish with the chopped almonds, parsley, and mint.
This easy recipe can be multiplied, and can be used for meats too. The marinated mushrooms are delicious as is, or add to the grill for a real treat. We’ve been making batches of these mushrooms at the deli, for a pre-rush snack. So savory, so delicious…
1 lb. mushrooms
1/4 c. olive oil
1 tsp. fresh chopped garlic
1 tsp. crushed Italian herbs (or other favorite)
2 TBS. soy sauce
2 TBS. balsamic vinegar
Clean mushrooms, then add to plastic bag (or jar) with the oil, garlic, and herbs.
Use enough oil to coat the mushrooms. Let mushrooms sit 10 minutes or so to absorb the oil. Last, add the soy sauce and vinegar. Eat raw/marinated, or add to the grill.
High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is on our naughty list. At The New Deli, we started making this version of BBQ sauce, made with tomato paste. Ketchup can be a handy base, but it also contains HFCS. We love this recipe! Makes 2 quarts.
1/2 c. olive oil
2 c. chopped onion
3 cloves chopped garlic
2 c. brown sugar
1 c. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. chili blend or powder
1 TBS. salt
1 3/4 c. white vinegar
12 oz. can tomato paste
1/2 Tbs. “Liquid Smoke”
1 c. water (or thin as desired)
Sauté the following until soft in skillet: > 1/2 c. olive oil > 2 c. chopped onion > 3 cloves chopped garlic
When above is very soft, add the following, boiling 20 to 30 minutes: > 2 c. brown sugar > 1 c. Worcestershire sauce > 1/4 c. chili blend or powder > 3 c. white vinegar
To boiled mixture, stir in the following: > 12 oz. can tomato paste > 1/2 Tbs. “Liquid Smoke”
If I’m going to make homemade sourdough bread using freshly ground whole wheat flour, I definitely need a system. Otherwise, I won’t have time for this! Below is the streamlined recipe I use every few days (when we’re getting low on our daily bread).
Considering that the vitamin E (and other nutrients) in wheat can go rancid so quickly, it just never seemed worth it to make bread with store-bought whole wheat flour. But I finally got a VitaMix blender, which grinds wheat berries into flour. At last, fresh-ground flour!
The other reason I hadn’t bothered with bread-making was that it didn’t seem particularly healthy. (You know, “Wheat Belly” and all that.) But a friend told me how she’d heard that some Celiac-sufferers could actually enjoy bread again, as long as it was sour-dough fermented. Guess it makes it easier to digest. That sold me on the idea.
A few years later, I’ve learned something else too. Hand-kneading seems to produce the best bread. I thought I could save time at one point, and I began using the dough hook and my KitchenAid to knead the bread. It did not turn out as good! I researched and found that the style of kneading does affect the bread. The molecules in hand-kneaded bread are actually shaped differently, while the machine-kneaded molecules are more stretched out. Not that the reason matters that much… just know that there doesn’t seem to be a short-cut to excellent whole wheat bread, without hand-kneading it.
I’ve also discovered that kneading bread on a wooden board (as directed in most recipes) makes for messy cleanup. Kneading the dough on a Formica counter top was an improvement, as the dough didn’t stick as much. I didn’t have to add as much extra flour to keep it from sticking to the counter, so the bread was moister.
But then I found the best method! I started kneading the bread in an 8-cup glass measuring cup, set on a towel (so it didn’t move around too much), in the sink. It was at a good height for throwing some hearty dough punches. So, it was easier clean-up, and I got a good work-out too.
Oh, one other thing I found out: Hard Red Winter Wheat (or hard red spring wheat) seems the best. I tried Hard White Wheat berries for a season, but the bread didn’t seem as good. After researching, I discovered- no wonder. White wheat might have a milder flavor, but it doesn’t have as much gluten. So the bread doesn’t rise quite as well. So- why not use the red wheat?! It does have an excellent flavor too, when fresh-ground. (Perhaps because it isn’t rancid!)
I still add a bit of “ancient grains” now and then- “Einkorn” is nice for variety. It won’t rise quite as well as the Red wheat though.
Experiment with any or all of the additions (raisins, caraway seeds, millet, palm sugar, walnuts and such). Adding extras will dictate a larger bread pan though—a cast iron skillet works well in that case. Makes one loaf (without additions), about 2 1/2 lb.
1 1/2 c. warm, filtered water (non-chlorinated is best for the yeasts)
2 c. wheat berries, frozen (or 3 c. whole wheat flour) (about .88 lb.)
1 c. more of wheat berries, frozen (or about 2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour) (about .35 lb.)
1 TBS. salt
Optional: 1 c. raisins, 1/2 c. millet, 1/3 c. sunflower seeds, 1 TBS. caraway seeds, cinnamon, 1 c. walnuts, and/or 1/4 c. palm sugar or honey
In a medium bowl (or kitchen-aid bowl), add: > 1 scant quart of sourdough starter (about 3 1/2 c.)
Into the empty jar of sourdough starter, add water, shaking well. Then add that water to the sourdough starter in mixing bowl, mixing well: > 1 1/2 c. warm water (around 105 degrees is fine, or warm to the touch)
Grind flour in a VitaMix, KitchenAid (with attachment), or other mill. Use frozen wheat berries to keep the flour from getting too warm from grinding. Start with: > 2 c. frozen wheat berries (or 3 c. whole wheat flour)
Stir flour vigorously into the bowl of starter and water mixture, until smooth. Pour a scant quart of the mixture back into the sourdough starter jar, to refrigerate until next time.
To the remaining mixture in the bowl, add more flour, plus any optional grains or seeds. (The extra fermenting makes millet and seeds more digestible.). Use: > 1 scant c. more of frozen wheat berries, ground into flour (or use 1 1/2 or so whole wheat flour) > optional- millet, sunflower seeds, caraway seeds
Stir some of second batch of flour in, leaving some out if it’s too thick.The dough won’t be totally stiff, but it shouldn’t be so moist that it sticks to the hands, either. I usually gently hand-knead the second batch of flour in, until it’s mixed in.
Cover the dough bowl with a damp towel or with oiled plastic wrap. Let dough rise until doubled. This will take 4-6 hours in a cool kitchen, or quicker in a warm place.
After dough’s doubled in size, add salt and knead for 9 minutes or so. Optional items can be added, but will make a larger loaf (which will need a larger pan!).
Use coconut oil (or butter) to oil a loaf pan or skillet. Shape the dough into a loaf, rolling it in some organic corn flour or other favorite, to coat the outside. Set in well-oiled pan.
Let rise another few hours, until doubled again. Bake in a preheated, 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes per loaf (or in skillet). For larger loaves, when goodies like raisins, millet and such have been added, let bake 40-50 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes, then remove from pan to cool on a rack.
Maybe we’re getting used to the drill: More Omega 3 fats, grass-fed meat, wild-caught salmon, free-range chicken, organic produce, etc. Less bread, less processed, less sugar, etc.
But still… Sometimes I just need chocolate! And I need it now. If I have some special chocolate in the house, it disappears pretty fast. Too fast. I may even eat more of it than I should. And then it’s gone. And then I don’t have a chocolate fix to run to!
The recipe below has actually cured me of needing store-bought chocolate. It does satisfy my cravings, and I don’t overeat it!
I’m not saying I don’t overeat it because it isn’t good. I think that all the nutritious supplements in this mix can satisfy cravings in a healthy way. The body gets nutrients it needs!
You can customize your recipe- it does not require “yucca powder”, “astragalus”, or whatever you’re in the mood to add. But it’s easier to incorporate such foods into our diet if they’re in something we might routinely want to fix for ourselves. (If you’re wondering what’s so great about these natural herb powders, look ’em up at “Jen’s Shop“- I mention what they’re good for there.)
Oh, and if you’re shooting for even less carbs, you can sub VitaFiber for at least half of the honey. Also, if you want something like a protein bar with gelatin instead of whey protein, see the asterisk, bottom of page.
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 :
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.
I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t NOT put a little starch in the frittata I was making for a bridal shower this weekend. Because… I love how adding some kind of starch (typically, flour) makes it so much easier to cut. It holds up and is much more manageable. I originally thought I’d make the frittata spontaneous-style, but I ran out of time. “Spontaneous” as in like an open-faced omelet, topped with pretty veggies and cheese, broiled to a golden hue. I didn’t have time for that- I wanted to visit too!
I also knew a few of us were gluten-free, so I opted to try potato starch instead of flour. It worked! And we all really enjoyed it. Recipe below 🙂
The beauty of this dish for a brunch, tea, or other festive party occasion is that it is easy to make, bakes nicely at the last minute, AND is easy to serve! A little potato starch in the mix helps it to stick together so that slicing into serving pieces is easy. Trader Joe’s makes it easy too, since they have frozen artichoke hearts with nothing else on ’em. (Some of us would rather skip those weird ingredients found in marinated artichoke hearts. Plus, TJ’s are a better value!)
Makes one 13 x 9″ dish, to serve 15 or so.
1 lb. grated jack cheese, divided
4 oz. goat cheese, ricotta, or other creamy cheese
1-12 oz. package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
1-2 TBS. Italian dressing
1/2 c. potato starch
3 slices tomatoes, if desired
1. Stir eggs well. Use: > 12 eggs
2. Add half the grated cheese, plus all but the tomato slices. Stir well, using: > Half of grated Jack cheese > 4 oz. goat cheese (or other) > 1 package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed > 1-2 TBS. Italian dressing > 1/2 c. potato starch
3. Pour into buttered 13 x 9” dish, topping with: > 3 tomatoes, sliced
4. Top with: > The other half of Jack cheese
5. Bake at 375 degrees 30 minutes until golden on top. Let cool a few minutes before slicing.