Use the mushrooms in place of hamburger patties, for a “meaty” vegetarian alternative at dinner. Or let the mushrooms cool off a bit, slicing into strips. Toss a simple salad of greens, olive oil, vinegar, and salt (or your favorite dressing), dish up onto salad plates, topping with the mushroom strips. What a salad!
4 Portabella Mushrooms
1/2 c. or so olive oil
1 TBS. chopped fresh garlic
1/2 lb. mozzarella, provolone, or Jack cheese, sliced
1/3 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
1. Get enough Portabella mushrooms for the number of people you’re serving. Typically, it’s one burger-sized mushroom per person, or just a half mushroom per person for a salad. Remove stem and drizzle olive oil on the inside; rub more olive oil onto the outside. For four burgers, use: > 4 Portabella Mushrooms > about 1/2 c. or so olive oil
2. Next, spread some chopped garlic around the inside of the mushroom. Use: > 1 TBS. chopped fresh garlic
3. Add: > 1/2 lb. mozzarella, provolone, or Jack cheese, sliced (or grated)
4. Top with: > 1/3 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
5. Bake the cheese-mushrooms at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or so, until cheese is lightly golden. Serve on toasted hamburger buns, with all the fixings, if desired, or atop a salad.
6. If you’re short on time, you can speed things along using the microwave. Microwave the cheese-mushrooms (about 1-2 minutes per mushroom), then broil just a few minutes, until cheese is golden and mushrooms are soft.
It’s great to involve kids in cookie-baking projects, but attention can wane. This particular recipe is perfect for those with a limited time/attention spans, of all ages! A special rolling pin is required, which will emboss a design on the cookie. But the dough is easy to make- just a few ingredients. Other recipes may contain extra ingredients, but this simple recipe seems to work perfectly.
Although this festive cookie takes little effort, some waiting is involved. The dough refrigerates for several hours, and the cut-out cookies need to air dry on parchment for at least half a day before baking. This gives them their texture- perfect for dipping in tea and such. Makes about 4 ½ dozen cookies.
1 c. sugar
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. anise seed
Optional: 1/2 tsp. anise extract, if desired
1. Cream: > 2 eggs > 1 c. sugar
2. Stir in, until very stiff: > 2 1/4 c. flour > 1 tsp. anise seed > 1/2 tsp. anise extract, if desired
3. Place on plastic wrap, patting out into a rectangle shape, for easier rolling later. Refrigerate 3-4 hours or more.
4. Roll or pat out on floured board, into a piece (or two) that are about the width of the rolling pin. Roll out with a “springerle cookie rolling pin”, pressing down firmly to emboss. Cut into squares, let dry at least 10 hours on parchment paper.
5. Before baking, use a spatula to lift the cookies from the parchment (so they stick less). Bake on the parchment at 325 degrees, 12-15 minutes. They shouldn’t brown, although the edges can get slightly golden. Let cool on racks; store for 1-2 weeks (these actually keep quite well).
I had to post this recipe for the Christmas season- my aunt used to love this dessert, and it brings back such good memories… Another memory: several years back, we made huge batch of this (20 x recipe), to serve at our church’s annual Women’s Christmas Dinner. (Contact me if you need THAT recipe!)
I don’t typically want to save egg whites in the freezer- I just want a recipe that uses the whole egg! So I came up with this recipe, which uses the egg whites leftover from making Lemon Curd, in the cake. Heating the butter and lemon juice for the lemon curd before it adding to the egg yolks, speeds the process along. Serves 9 or so.
3. Mix the dry ingredients and the following in mixer on low, then 3 minutes on medium: > 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, soft > 1/2 c. olive oil > 5 egg whites > 1 1/2 c. molasses > the grated ginger
4. Oil and flour 9″ square pan (or 13 x 9″ pan, which will cook quicker). Bake 45-55 min. at 300 degrees. Cool; serve w/ lemon curd.
This will make about 1 pint, enough for the above cake.
1. Mix together until smooth: > 5 egg yolks > 1 cup sugar
2. Microwave or heat in pot, 1-2 minutes, until melted and bubbly: > 1 stick butter > 1/3 c. lemon juice > zest from 4 lemons
3. Slowly mix hot butter/lemon into yolk mixture. Microwave 30 seconds, then stir and repeat until thickened, or- warm gently on the stove just until thickened. This can store 2 weeks or more, refrigerated.
Stock is so easy to make! Yes, it’s easier to buy a carton or can of it, but I think some of the nutrition and flavor is lost. A good batch of stock is full of gelatin, congealing after refrigerating, so you know it’s rich. With homemade stock, you can also use minimal salt. I always like to add salt just as I’m finishing preparing a dish. Otherwise, I believe too much sodium soaks into the ingredients. Not that it makes the finished product taste that salty. But it IS loaded with sodium! The salt added to dishes last is more pronounced, so you can use less.
Some folks might add carrot, celery, herbs, and/or onion to the pan when roasting their meats, to add to the stock. It will add more flavor, but I prefer an unadulterated stock: other extras can be added in later, when using the stock in various soups and sauces.
I’m pretty excited about ginger right now. It fights inflammation and can help regulate blood sugar, serum cholesterol, and cortisol levels. Not that I’m chowing down on Gingerbread cookies for health reasons (although I am making some ginger tea). But for the holidays, these cookies are a fun, special treat, even for some gift-giving!
Using fruits and nuts to decorate allows for creative input from cookie-bakers of all ages- easier and less messy than frosting! Makes approx. 15 cookies.
1. Cream in mixer, several minutes on high: > 1 stick butter > 1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
2. Add the following, beating just until blended: > 1/2 c. molasses > 1/4 c. water > 2 1/2 c. flour > 1/2 tsp. salt > 1/2 tsp. baking soda > 1 TBS. (or more) fresh grated ginger > 1/2 tsp. nutmeg > 1/4 tsp. allspice
3. Refrigerate dough several hours, or longer. (Dough will keep in refrigerator for several weeks, wrapped in plastic.) Roll dough out to 1/4″ thickness (easily accomplished rolling it between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, floured some as needed). Cut into gingerbread people.
4. Decorate cookies before baking, using the following, or your own creations: > Cashew pieces (for smiles) > Dates & sweetened dried pineapple (for hair) > Pecans, almonds, and chocolate chips (for misc.)
5. Bake cookies at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.
Part of my enthusiasm for making my own skin care products is my love of essential oils, which I use regularly in face creams and bath salts for myself. Certain ones are perfect for skin, for mood; some have hormone-balancing and other benefits. I’ve shared my favorites at “Jen’s Shop“; if you’re interested in aromatherapy, take a look at the oils I suggest there (under the “Health, Beauty, & Lifestyle” section). I mention the qualities each is known for; also, I’ve chosen oils that are more therapeutic. Some “essential oils” may be a blend of an expensive variety (like, of lavender), but mixed with a carrier oil or even a sub-par plant variety. But I’ve picked out the best quality and value for you, at Jen’s Shop!
Oh, for another fun, homemade gift (that you can make with your kids), check out my “Cinnamon Ornament” post!
We had a lot of fun at a recent “Spa-rific” New Deli party, where we made up various creams, balms, and such to give as gifts. We made body butter, bath salts, lip balm… all using natural, top-quality ingredients. We didn’t have to bear with any shopping crowds- got all this stuff online! Below are some favorite recipes.
Just mix and store in cute mason jars. My husband says most people aren’t as into Epsom salts as I am, but if you’re concerned about chlorine, this recipe helps address that issue. (Read my article, “Turning Chlorinated Water into Liquid Gold“, for more info on the subject.)
Mix, then put up in 4oz.-size jars (like these) – a good size for most of us. I don’t recommend white sugar–it doesn’t mix well with the oil, and the granules are larger and harder on the skin, so it’s not really suited for the face. Also, although other oils are an option, I’ve found that olive oil is superior for a scrub. It will moisturize as dead skin cells are exfoliated, but excess oil will wipe off, so your pores can still breath. An alternative could be the pricier jojoba oil, but I figure that I’m rinsing this scrub off afterward, so I don’t really want to waste something like jojoba!
The combination of flavors here is perfect. Even without a party excuse, having these around will give reason to celebrate! I like using large scallops- they’re especially delicious. And this recipe is perfect for those Paleo folk looking for tasty gluten-free appetizers! Makes about 15 pieces, serves 5-8 people.
1. Bite-sized, medium large scallops will use about one slice of thin-sliced bacon per piece. Grill the needed amount of bacon until just golden but still quite soft.
2. Set bacon aside, drain off excess fat, and turn pan back on high. Sear the scallops briefly in the bacon pan. Don’t fill pan too full, or scallops will steam and not brown.
3. Arrange a piece of basil, parsley, or even spinach on top of each scallop, plus half a cherry tomato. Wrap a soft-but-grilled piece of bacon around each scallop, and broil 5-10 minutes until bacon has browned more. (Or bake in 475 degree oven 10 minutes or so.)
When we make a new batch of tomato sauce at the deli (with lots of sauteed, sweet onions, garlic, etc.), we like to make a batch of Lentil Vegetable Soup too, since it uses the tomato sauce, plus a few other goodies. A bit of sweetness (using brown sugar, or honey or palm sugar, if desired) seems to go well in this soup. That plus some “liquid smoke” makes it almost like a more natural, heartier version of baked beans. You know how overpoweringly sweet those can be, right? This soup just has a hint of sweetness. Like I said- a better version. Like, a healthier comfort food!
Below is the recipe, but in jpeg form, since I can’t actually publish the recipe directly onto this blog due to copyright hindrances (since my soup cookbook is already available on Amazon). You can find this recipe there, but I put a different copy below, in case you really want to make that soup now, and just aren’t ready to buy a digital copy of “SOUP’S ON!“. (Which, by the way, is just $6.99, and full of pictures and New Deli extra cooking tips!)
This is a simple eggplant recipe, but once you know how to cook eggplant this way, you can add it to a variety of dishes. Just change up the spices and seasonings, adding some kind of protein, for a great main dish. Another plus- eggplant’s not on the “dirty dozen” list, so I’m not as concerned about buying it organic.
We make a yummy sandwich with this eggplant (and some melted cheese, with or without bacon) at The New Deli. We also serve a salad with the grilled eggplant in it, tossed with Italian dressing, avocado, tomato, and Parmesan cheese. I love it in an omelet, or on pizza. A big batch of this will hold up for at least a week in the refrigerator; the reduced vinegar and soy sauce act to preserve the veggies. Serves 4 to 6.
1 large eggplant, or several Japanese eggplants
1 red pepper
1 medium onion
Olive oil, to drizzle on layers
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1. Add to a hot pan (preferably a 12″ iron pan, as it holds heat and distributes it well) and grill* : > 1 red pepper, sliced into strips > Drizzle of olive oil
2. Add and keep grilling on medium-high heat, stirring some: > 1 onion, sliced
3. Move grilled peppers and onion off to side, and add: > 1 eggplant, sliced into strips > Drizzle olive oil (2-4 TBS.)
4. Pile the grilled pepper mix back on top of the grilling eggplant, to help it to steam some. Turn the pan on low to finish cooking the eggplant until tender, stirring occasionally.
5. When eggplant’s cooked through (no longer white and spongy looking), turn pan back on high heat. Add: > 1/4 c. soy sauce > 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
6. Let the mix cook on high just a few minutes, stirring often, so the soy sauce and vinegar can boil off some. Remove from heat, and continue stirring occasionally, to let off steam so mixture won’t be too soggy.
7. Serve this dish hot or cold, by itself, over rice, with salad greens, or as a sandwich condiment.
*An alternative method is to use the oven; no stirring of veggies is necessary. Roast the vegetables at 350 for 40-60 minutes, in a clay pot( or in an iron pan), until tender. An alternate method is to microwave the veggies for 10-20 min., using the clay pot or a ceramic bowl with a plate over it.
My husband was a tad disappointed the first time I made this, since we’d bought a deluxe amaretto for it, and he felt like you couldn’t taste it enough when it was added to the cake. Good point- so much of it bakes away, and almond extract would produce the same results, for probably less money. So next batch, I added the amaretto to the candied orange peel. Whoa- THAT was good!
Here’s a cake recipe that’s quick and easy enough, but still delicious (& slightly healthier than average!)- a moist cake with a fresh orange flavor and slightly crunchy texture from the cornmeal. Traditional Italian recipes might add some Amaretto to the cake; to preserve more of the liqueur’s flavor, it can be added to the orange peel garnish. (Unless serving the under-aged, that is!) Serves 12.
3 large eggs
1 c. granulated sugar
1 1/2 c. milk (or yogurt or buttermilk)
1 c. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for coating the pan
3 oranges, for zest and garnish
1 TBS. orange zest
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
1/2 c. coarse-ground cornmeal (fine-ground works too)*
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
Optional: 2 TBS. each sugar and water, for orange peel garnish
Optional: 2 TBS. amaretto liqueur, added to orange peel garnish
Optional: (Instead of orange peel) Confectioner’s sugar to decorate top
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Press foil into a 9” spring form pan and coat with olive oil and flour. Or, use two 9-inch round cake pans, which won’t need a foil liner, but which should still be coated with olive oil and flour. (If using two pans, they’ll bake faster.) Tap out any excess flour.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whip until well blended and light in color: > 3 large eggs > 1 c. granulated sugar
3. Stir into whipped egg/sugar mix: > 1 1/2 c. milk (or yogurt or buttermilk) > 1 c. extra-virgin olive oil > 1 TBS. orange zest > 1/2 tsp. almond extract
4. In another bowl, stir dry ingredients together: > 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour > 1/2 c. cornmeal > 1/2 tsp. baking powder > 1/2 tsp. baking soda > 1/4 tsp. salt
5. Add egg mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until just blended (the batter should still be slightly lumpy). Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan(s). Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool, then run a knife around the edges of the pan and turn it out onto a serving plate.
6. To make a garnish of candied orange peel, carefully cut away the outer peel of one orange, slicing it into thin strips. Mix together in a microwavable bowl (or in a small saucepan): > Thin strips from 1-2 oranges > 2 TBS. sugar > 2 TBS. water
7. Microwave (or heat in pan) the sugar/orange/water mix for one minute. If using microwave, stir and repeat this three times, until peel has absorbed most of the sugar. (In saucepan, just keep simmering a few minutes until peel gets soft.) If desired, at this point, stir in: > 2 TBS. amaretto liqueur
8. Garnish the cake with the orange peel. Alternately, it can be decorated with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar instead
*I wasn’t thrilled with my experiment substituting masa flour (which I had) for the corn meal (which I didn’t have on hand). Most bloggers claim success with the switch, but I would say, approach that idea with caution!.