Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sometimes Experiments Work...

Last week I made this roast in the crock pot with tomato juice and wine and few herbs. I was left with a ton of broth. I put the broth out in the garage overnight. Due to the cold weather, the fat congealed at the top, making it easy to get rid of. I made black bean soup with the broth. It came out great. But thats not why I am writing. Its really only to say that sometimes I get lucky and my experimenting comes out good. Other times, well...

Take for example my falafel yesterday. This is probably the sixth time I have tried to make falafel. I am sorry to say that no matter what I do, deep fry or bake, egg or no egg, it always comes out terrible. It's funny because i have tried several recipes and a lot of them are similar yet I can not duplicate what we get in the restaurant. Not even close. so if anyone out there knows the best way to make falafel, I would love to know.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Squash Anyone?

This recipe may sound time consuming but it is really worth it. You can start the day before and roast the pumpkin and squash. I hope you enjoy it and would love to hear your comments.

Pumpkin and Butternut Manicotti

Big hit! Don’t let the ingredient list fool you, it’s easy. Many of the steps can be done in advance.

Make crepes:

1 C flour

1 C milk

¼ c water

2 eggs

pinch of salt

2 T butter

Whisk flour, milk, water, eggs and pinch of salt together. Once combined add melted butter. Pour by ¼ cup full onto a hot griddle. Swirl the batter around the pan to make a thin circle. Flip crepe when it becomes opaque.

Filling:

2 C roasted, mashed, butternut squash

2 C roasted, mashed, pumpkin

30 oz ricotta, part skim

¼ C chopped parsley, fresh

1 T chopped sage, fresh

1/8 t nutmeg

½ cup parmesan or pecorino romano

2 eggs

Sauce:

¼ cup of butter

¼ cup flour

2 cups milk

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped

Roast squash and pumpkin in a 425 oven until golden about ½ hour on one side. Turn with spatula and roast for about 20 to 30 minutes more. Let cool completely.

Combine all in squash, pumpkin, ricotta, eggs, cheese and herbs in a pan.

Make b├ęchamel sauce. Saute butter in pan until light brown. Add flour and mix with whisk. Whisk in 2 cups milk cook until thickened. Add salt and pepper and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and sage. Set aside to cool a little.

Pour about a ¼ inch of sauce in bottom of pan. Roll mixture into crepes, about ½ cup of squash/pumpkin mixture per crepe. Place crepes together tightly in pan. Pour remaining sauce over top.

Cook at 350 for about an hour, covered.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Virgin Blogger Begins

Hello!

I have been so inspired by all of you foodie bloggers out there that I thought I would share my experiences as well. I am a stay at home mom. Since we have a crimp in our financial budget I try to make meals that we might have if we could go out more. Of course my kids don't always appreciate tandoori chicken or sushi. They usually get some kind of kid meal just the same.

I have seen some really great sites out there and will put together my list of favorites soon. My recipes are my attempts to make healthy and flavorful meals. I really like ethnic food so you will find minimal American Fare here. I do enjoy making bread and am somewhat of a novice. I do make great Rosemary/Kalamata Bread and love to make pizza.

Hope you stop in and visit regularly. I look forward to your posts and getting to know you.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

KITCHEN TIPS

When nesting non stick frying pans, place a paper plate between each pan to safeguard against scratching.

According to Real Simple, "Let chopped fresh garlic sit at room temperature for ten minutes before cooking it. The extra time allows garlic's cancer fighting compounds to fortify themselves against heat... (American Institute for Cancer Research)."

To save some money on Drain cleaners, clean a clogged drain out as much as possible with a long plastic hook or plunger. Fill drain up with baking soda, as much as possible. Pour white vinegar into drain. It will bubble, let it sit for about a half of an hour. Pour boiling water into the drain. It will run much smoother. (My Mom).

Throw vegetable trimmings into a plastic container in the freezer. When you have filled it up, make vegetable stock. Add a bay leaf, fresh onion and peppercorns and even some white wine to the mix to peak the flavor.

And speaking of baking soda. You can go green with it, using it to scrub sinks and stove tops and some counter tops. It's a very mild abrasive. You can also use it in your laundry as a softener. Oh the list goes on.

When boiling eggs, save the calcium rich water for plants inside or out. Leafy plants love the calcium (Real Simple).

Save jam bottles and such for storing goods and spices. The glass containers will help keep their freshness and potency in. The jars also make great containers for gifts.

I always have a hard time making sure I get my water in. I now use a Mason jar. I can drink out of glass (I hate drinking out of plastic). I know exactly how much water I am drinking. Plus if I have to store it, I just put the lid on. Mason jars are also great storage receptacles.

Instead of using chemicals on your tile floor. Go natural, fill the bucket up with about a gallon of warm water and add about a 1/2 cup of white vinegar. No, your kitchen does not smell like a salad afterward. Matter of fact you will hardly even notice a smell. The white vinegar's acid level kills a lot of germs. Wipe down counters with it as well instead of bleach.

Have extra citrus? Make citrus cubes. Squeeze the juice and pour into ice cube trays. Once frozen remove from tray and put in plastic bags. You can use them for recipes, make lemonade, frozen drinks, the list goes on.

Celery will last longer in your fridge if you follow this simple step. After purchasing celery, gently wash outside of stalk and wrap in paper toweling. Then wrap it in aluminum foil. The foil will help celery last.

Also, paper toweling will help produce stay fresher longer. Wrap vegetable like cucumbers in paper toweling and then you can put it back in the plastic bag.

Don't know what to do with that excess fruit and it's about to go bad. You don't feel like making anything. Just puree it and freeze it. Puree can be used in a number of recipes. Or you can even just add a little sugar and use it on your pancakes.

For tarnished silver use toothpaste. Smear all around the piece you want polished, rub, then rinse off. Wipe with a towel.

Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store. If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster.

You can reuse cereal bags for a number of uses. I have used it for rolling up fruit leather, between hamburger patties when I freeze them and for pressing sticky stuff down in a pan such as rice crispy treats or granola.

Puree basil with a little olive oil and place in baggies to form a cigar like piece. Break off and use in soups in the winter for added flavor. Make sure you add it at the end because heating it too much will dissipate the flavor.

Hydrogen peroxide cleans up blood so easily. Pour some hyrdogen peroxide on blood stain. It will bubble (do not add any water). Wipe with dry rag. It will come right off.

After you have used the seeds from your vanilla pod, you can dry it out in the oven. Place in the oven after you have been baking and the oven has been turned off. When it is dry you can break it into pieces and place it in your tea for a delicious vanilla tea. You could grind it up and put it in with your coffee. Mix it into the whole can of coffee and it will flavor your ground beans.

Save your POM bottles and make snowmen out of them.

To get the mold smell out of a kitchen towel, place about a 1/4 cup of cleanser such as Ajax or Bon Ami in the wash with your detergeant. It also acts as a fabric softener.
WEIGHT LOSS TIPS
To boost your metabolism, enjoy some red pepper in your egg whtie omelette.

Cookies made with organic cane juice might sound like something your yoga teacher would eat, but they won't help her fit into her Lycra pants. Junk food by any other name is still junk. Ditto for lots of "health foods" in the granola aisle. "Natural" sweeteners like honey raise blood sugar just like the white stuff.

"If you're going to eat cookies, accept that you're deviating from your plan, and then revert to your diet afterward," Berkowitz says. Kidding yourself will only get you into trouble.
Womens Health

"Patrol your portions.
Learn how to eyeball the right serving sizes. For example, half a baseball is equivalent to a serving of pasta, a checkbook is 3 ounces of fish, and a CD is an ideal waffle." Prevention magazine

"Flatter Yourself. Women who see themselves as heavier than they are have a harder time maintaining weight loss after a year, a study in Eating and Weight Disorders notes. 'Everytime you catch yourself saying something negative about your body, write down a compliment and repeat it three times instead', says MArgo Maine, PhD."

Quote from Self Magazine