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Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’ Category

There’s nothing like fresh tomatoes. Straight from your garden or a real farmer’s market, fresh tomatoes are one of life’s amazing gifts. Sadly, this seasonal fruit (yes, fruit) has but a brief few months before they’re gone and you find yourself in the middle of February with some canned tomato paste and a sad face.

Now, no canned tomato is going to hold a candle to that summer Beefsteak. But here we are in (hopefully) the tail end of winter and our choices are limited. However, we do have some good choices! My favorite canned tomato is Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes. They actually do taste fire roasted, they’re organic, the cans are BPA free and they are the best tasting canned tomato I’ve tried thus far.

You can actally get them at a decent price from Amazon. If you do subscribe and save it’s $1.86 per can for 12-pack and you get them delivered to your door. If you’re an Amazon Prime member you can get them through the Prime Pantry program for $1.38 per can. If you’re a Costco member you can get them right now for $6.89 for a 6-pack which is only $1.15 per can – not bad at all.

Here’s some of the things I like to do with these ‘maters:

Bruchetta

Mix a can of fire roasted tomatoes with three cloves of minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Slice a loaf of French bread on the diagonal and toast in a 400 degree oven for a few minutes, then top with the tomato mix. Broil for 4-5 minutes. Top with shreds of basil and freshly grated parmesan.

Lazy Pasta

Cook 8 ounces of the pasta of your choice (I find small shaped pasta best for this purpose – fusilli, rotini, large shells, etc.) according to package directions. Drain and return to the pan and put on low heat. Stir in a can of fire roasted tomatoes, about two tablespoons of basil paste or a handful of shredded fresh basil to taste, a cup of shredded cheese (any good melting cheese will do) and about a half a cup of heavy cream. Heat through and salt and pepper to taste.

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ppatties
Ah, yes, the commercials tell you eating these will make you think you’re skiing in the Alps, it’s brisk, it’s clean, it’s…corn syrup. Yeah. The ingredients of a York Peppermint Patty according to the Hershey’s website are: SUGAR; CORN SYRUP; SEMISWEET CHOCOLATE ( CHOCOLATE; SUGAR; COCOA; MILK FAT; COCOA BUTTER; SOY LECITHIN; PGPR, EMULSIFIER; VANILLIN, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR) ; INVERT SUGAR; EGG WHITES; OIL OF PEPPERMINT; MI LK

There are worse things, but I’ll pass. Good thing they are easy to make at home!

Hats off to This Chick Cooks for her peppermint patty recipe. Find it here.I followed her recipe to the letter and these are delicious. Only technique I changed a bit was that after putting the chocolate on the top and sides, I stuck them back in the freezer for a few minutes, flipped them and applied the chocolate to the bottom.

These treats are easy, delicious, and filled with the great health benefits of coconut oil. Get the facts here!

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Dehydrated Tomato Goodness

Dehydrated Tomato Goodness

For my birthday I finally bought myself something I’d been kicking around for several years but couldn’t bring myself to lay out the cash. A dehydrator. More on that to come in another post, but the giant metal monstrosity arrived and I couldn’t wait to try it out. I looked around my kitchen like a mad scientist thinking “what can I shrink??”

Those plump roma tomatoes caught my eye. Within moments they were sliced about 1/8 inch think and spread out on one of my racks. At 125 degrees and about 6 hours later, we had dehydrated tomatoes.

Test subject Bill was the first one to take a bit. He nodded approvingly and said, “It’s like candy!”

Tomato candy?

I took a bite. Indeed, the sweetness of the tomato had condensed into these slightly chewy little rounds of goodness. And now I know how to turn the world’s undercover fruit into a sweet snack!

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In one of my favorite movies, So I Married An Axe Murderer , the main character, Charlie, visits his parents to discover that his mom has purchased a Juice Tiger and “juices everything now” ala the Weekly World News Garth Brooks Juice Diet. While Charlie’s Mom did refer to a tabloid as “the paper” she may have been onto something with the juice…

Juice Fountain, Juice Tiger. Whatever you call it, it juices stuff at a prodigious rate.

Juicing fans believe that by juicing vegetables your body is better able to absorb the vitamins. They are not damaged by cooking, and you can consume a lot more vegetable nutrients in a glass of juice than you could eat in a sitting (or a day, or a week for some people!) Dr. Mercola has an excellent article on juicing here. If you want more reasons to juice, watch Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead or The Beautiful Truth: The World’s Simplest Cure for Cancer or Hungry For Change. (These are all great documentaries, by the way, regardless of if you want to start juicing or not!)

So I went out and bought myself a Juice Tiger. Ok, it’s actually a Breville BJE200XL 700-Watt Compact Juice Fountain . And let me tell you, I’ve been having more fun with this thing than should be permitted! Sticking stuff in and watching it tear it apart never fails to make me feel better. It generates so much lift that if you take your hand off the plunger when it’s running, it almost pushes it back out. Now that’s entertainment.

KKF Green Juice ingredients.

I made fresh orange juice this morning. 5 oranges for two people was perfect. And amazingly delicious. But more fruit (and the sugar therein) is not my primary goal for this new gadget. It’s veggies. I’ve discovered that for the most part, just throwing stuff in there (say, carrots, celery, parsley, ginger and a cucumber) and letting it rip results in a brownish juice that does not taste terrible. And that’s fine in a pinch, but I recommend going with some tried and true recipes. Generally, a bunch of veggies and a piece of fruit will do the trick. The little bit of sweet helps offset any bitterness in the veggies. Of course, some carrot juice is sweet all on its own…

Here’s a juice recipe I adapted from the cookbook that came with my copy of Hungry for Change.

KKF Green Juice

1 cucumber

1 small green apple

1 kiwi

2 inch piece of ginger, peeled

3 stalks of celery

bunch of parsley

bunch of cilantro

large handful of kale

1/4 head of fennel

Juice according to your juicer’s instructions. Makes one large serving.

You can't even taste the kale!

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Shallot butter medallions, ready for duty.

What’s better than butter? Not much. But here’s a way to make butter better.

In a couple of my recent cooking classes we steamed fish in parchment paper. For one of them, we made this amazing shallot butter that steamed in with the fish and made it really flavorful. Lucky for everyone, it’s super easy to make this:

2 sticks (8 oz) of unsalted butter at room temperature

shallots (I used 4 medium shallots)

2 cups white wine (I used sauvignon blanc)

1/2 t sea salt

fresh ground pepper to taste

handful of minced fresh herbs (recipe called for parsley, but I had cilantro so I used cilantro)

Simmer the shallots and wine together in a saucepan until reduced to about a 1/4 cup or so and allow it to cool. (I stuck it in the fridge for a few minutes.) Mix your salt, pepper, herbs and shallot reduction into your butter.

Shallot butter log

To make a log out of it, spread the butter in long row on some plastic wrap, then fold the wrap over the top of it so the butter is surrounded with the wrap. Squeeze and form into a log. Twist the ends, then pick it up by the ends with both hands and spin it. That will squeeze it into a tight log and you’ll be left with twisted sealed ends on the wrap. Chill thoroughly before attempting to unwrap or cut.

To use, just pull back the wrap and cut medallions. Delicious on just about anything.

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It was a normal Friday. I did my work thing, test subject Bill did his work thing, we went out for sushi, we came home. Then it happened. SNACK ATTACK. I was just sitting at my computer Facebooking when all of a suddent I HAD to have something sweet or I was going to turn into a DRAGON.

Midori

Toothless

My cat Midori may bear a striking resemblance to Toothless, but the kitties really do not dig fire-breathing in the house. So something had to be done.

As luck would have it, I’d been out and about today and picked up ingredients for these Cocoa and Coconut Balls I found over at Mark’s Daily Apple. This would be my speedy fix – nuts to keep me from turning into a dragon. A quick zip of a multitude of nuts, dates, coconutiness and cocoa. Heavenly!

I followed Mark’s recipe very closely. I used 5 dates (I noticed he likes to use dates for sweeteners. Who can blame him? I sort of have a crush on dates after the Moroccan salad.) and about 3 tablespoons of coconut oil. I used 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 1/3 cup shredded coconut and no ground coffee. After a squeeze and a taste, I added about 2 tablespoons of my favorite sweetener, Grade B maple syrup.

The recipe said to form them into balls. Yeah, right. Maybe you could do it, but it would take the patience of Job and I’m just not there yet. So I pressed the nutty, sweet mix into the bottom of a square glass pan and stuck it in the fridge while I cleaned up my mess, then cut them into 9 squares.

Cocoa and Coconut Not Balls (AKA Dragon Nuts)

Despite my sub-par walnuts (they were a little old. I’m ashamed.) these little treats turned out really well. They are very crumbly, but that’s why God made forks. (Ok, God probably didn’t make forks. But he gave us brains that invented forks. And cute scarves.) The dates offer a really sophisticated sweetness that granular sugar in it’s overpowering way could never duplicate. Dates and maple syrup are Wushu. White sugar is WWE.

Anyway, I ended up not turning into a dragon so the evening is ending well. I recommend playing with this recipe and making it your own. It’s nutritious, fast, delicious and it could save your life.

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Pilaf on a Tangent

In all my culinary adventures, I’ve never made rice pilaf. Sounds dumb, right? I’ve made steamed rice, fried rice, Spanish rice, risotto…but never plain old rice pilaf. Inspired by a Food Network show I watched this morning, I decided I needed it to survive the day. And once I get it in my head…well….

Leek and Green Onion Pilaf with pork shnitzel

I knew the basics of creating a pilaf, so I went through the fridge to see what I had and the recipe below is what I came up with. I used up scraps of CSA veggies and herbs, which are running low since the next delivery isn’t until Wednesday. It was some sort of flash of inspiration, because this turned out better than any pilaf I’ve had in a restaurant. And even better, it’s filled with things that are actually good for you! Test subject Bill approves of this pilaf – another hit!

Leek & Green Onion Pilaf

1 large leek, quartered and sliced

5 large green onions, sliced with the green tops reserved

4 large cloves of garlic, minced

sprig of fresh rosemary

1 bay leaf

2 T coconut oil

1 t salt

1 c uncooked rice (I used basmati)

1 c homemade chicken stock

1 c water

In a dutch oven or heavy sauce pan (I used my Le Creuset Dutch Oven) heat coconut oil until it melts. Add leeks, white parts of onion and garlic and salt and sautee until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir until you start to see browned spots start appearing on the bottom of the dish. Lay rosemary and bay leaf on top and pour the chicken stock and water over everything. Cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes, then turn off the heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and sprinkle the green onion tops over the pilaf. I served mine with some shredded parmesan and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Now, when I say large green onions I mean LARGE. Not the tiny paltry ones you find at the grocery store. The white parts of the onion were as long and as big around as my thumb, maybe even slightly bigger. So if you use grocery store green onions (organic, please) you will need probably four times as many as I used.

Try and enjoy!

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