Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cranberry Port Gelee

I am not use to cooking with juniper berries.  Though I am sure use to drinking them in my day.  I use to love to have a gin and tonic when I was out with friends.  It was one of my favorite drinks.  Gin, if you don't know, is made from juniper berries.  Juniper comes from a type of pine tree called, Juniperus communis.  All juniper bushes grow juniper berries, however most are too bitter to eat.

I saw a recipe similar to this on Food 52, which is quite a stellar site.  Lots of great recipes from various sources.  I had a bit more cranberries than it called for and I had some Lingonberry Preserves that was not getting eaten. 

Cranberry Port Gelee
The jumping point for this recipe.

1 cup port
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 jar of Lingonberry Preserves
6 cups cranberries (fresh)
1 tablespoon juniper berries
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

Mix all except sugar together in a saucepan.  Cook until heated through.  Add sugar and cook until berries are popping. Mash with a potato masher and strain pushing some of solids through.  Pour and refrigerate.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Collection

Thanksgiving in the USA is quickly approaching.  You ready?  Much to get ready if you are preparing this massive dinner.   So many things can be done ahead and the internet is rich with how to's and ideas for making life easier on yourself.  Do your research, it will make it so much easier.

I just want to share a few things I have done for Thanksgiving in the past.

One of my all time favorite ways to prepare a turkey is Alton Brown's, brined turkey.  Some people swear by brining and some thing dry brining is sufficient.  Some don't know what it is and others are sold on other ways of preparing turkey such as deep frying or in a bag.  I personally like the brine method best.  It always gives me a moist turkey.  Of course one year, we had a lot of company and I used the dry brined method.  Really bad idea.  It just want as moist.

A nice appetizer recipe that we have nearly every year is cranberry salsa.

A nice side- sweet potato casserole.
As far as pumpkin pies go- my two favorites are the recipe on the can of Libby's Pumpkin and this one from Food Network.
In case you want to learn more about Thanksgiving, click here to go to The History Channels collection of videos about various aspects of Thanksgiving.  Its pretty interesting.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bean Burger Collection

One of the best bean burgers I ever made was this one.  A definite keeper.  Its made with barley.  A poor lonesome grain that really needs your attention.  It is very good for you.  Helps lower cholesterol in the same way as oatmeal.

Here are a few others that we enjoyed.  

While this one is not a bean burger- it does have lots of protein and surprisingly, it is made with beets.  But even more of a surprise is just how good it tastes.  My husband hates beets and truly loves this burger.

This not a stellar photo either.  Why do I also make these kind of burgers when there is not a lot of daylight to photograph?  It is a good one.  My daughter, the picky one, did like these as well.

Another seriously bad photo.  But a good burger.  It was green so the picky daughter did not eat these.  She has an aversion to all things green, yah know.

This is another favorite but beluga lentils are sometimes hard to find.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Pumpkin Ravioli

A little labor intensive but well worth it.  And, yeah, my ravioli is not going to win any beauty contests.  My stomach was none the wiser though.

Just some interesting facts about pumpkin for yah!

*49 calories per cup- whoa! nice!
*low glycemic index
*high in Vitamin A

"Vitamin A is important to vision and the growth of the bones. Night vision is extremely dependent on vitamin A. This vitamin helps form pigments that allow our eyes to adjust to changes in light. Vitamin A plays an important role in immune system by making white blood cells, which fight off viruses and bacteria." My Food Diary

*good source of potassium.

Pumpkin Ravioli
Adapted from this recipe at taste of Home

2-1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
5 eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small pie pumpkin (about 2-1/4 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 teaspoons chopped shallot
1/3 cup butter, cubed
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 small bay leaf
1 egg, lightly beaten

Place 2-1/2 cups flour in a large bowl; make a well in the center. Beat eggs and oil; pour into well. Stir together, forming a ball. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes, adding remaining flour if necessary to keep dough from sticking. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté pumpkin and shallot in butter until tender. Add the sage, salt and pepper. Transfer to a food processor; cover and process until blended. Return to the pan; stir in cream and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until thickened. Discard bay leaf.

Divide pasta dough into fourths; roll one portion to 1/16-in. thickness. (Keep remaining dough covered until ready to use.) Working quickly, place rounded teaspoonfuls of filling 1 in. apart over half of pasta sheet. Brush around filling with egg. Fold sheet over; press down to seal. Cut into squares with a pastry wheel. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Bring a stock pot of salted water to a boil. Add ravioli. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer; cook for 1-2 minutes or until ravioli float to the top and are tender. Drain and keep warm.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Really bad picture, really good flavored bean burger.  Don't let its appearance fool you.

I had to make the name fun so my kids would think it was equally fun  to eat it.  They did.  They not only thought it was fun, they also thought it was delicious.  The kids both had two burgers and my husband had 3, leaving me with one to eat, since the recipe made 8.  I didn't mind.  The temptation for more calories was taken away.  Better in their bellies than on mine.

Secretly, while they were munching away I was thinking about how much nutrition they were getting.  I especially felt that way because my older daughter thought she would like to become a vegetarian about a month ago.  Getting protein into the girl has been a bit of a challenge.  Man can not live by cheese alone, or can he?  Cheese is pretty important to our family.  We do not buy deli meats as a general rule.  We eat a lot of vegetarian meals just because a couple years ago we decided it was more economical and better for the planet if we ate less meat.  So, bean burgers are no surprise in this family.

Inside these beauties and seriously it was one of the best bean burgers I have made, is quinoa, mung beans and eggs.  I definitely hit a high protein mark!

Yes, I know the name is silly but that is how I roll.  You can be all serious and call them Mung and Quinoa burgers if you like- but see if your kids get excited to eat them.

Mung Bung Bean Burgers

2 cups cooked green mung beans
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup panko crumbs
3 eggs
1 small onion, minced
4 ounces smoked cheddar cheese (this gives the burgers their big flavor-don't substitute)
1 generous teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 packet Goya Sazon (you can skip this but it gives the burgers some nice umami)

Once your quinoa is cooked and your mung beans are cooked you are good to go.  I had cooked the beans a few days before making it.  It is helpful to season the mung beans as they are cooking- a little bit of salt and garlic if you like.

Mix all the ingredients together and let it sit while you get out your pan, etc.  Its up to you if you want to fry these in oil.  I did- but you don't need a lot of oil to do it.

Form the bean mixture into patties.  Fry on a moderate heat, turning once they are browned.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Speculoos Cookie Butter

Traders Joe's. I love you.  I really do.  Fell in love with you in the 90's when I lived in Arizona.  When it comes to cookie butter, though, I had to go my own way.  Not that I don't love your freaking amazing cookie butter and so do my children.  I just could not part with that much money for a small jar of cookie butter.  Maybe cashew butter or something like that, but not for sugar products.  I have to draw the line somewhere.

I bought a package of Speculoos cookies from Aldi's and whirled it in my food processor, then I added enough oil to bring it together.  I also spooned in a couple round tablespoons of confectioners sugar.  Yes, very good.  Yes, very flavorful.  The one drawback, however, was that it was a bit grainy.  But no one complained - that is for sure. Gone!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash with Bacon

This pic taken without natural light but so creamy looking because it just made- piping hot!
My friend at the Farmers Market gave me this recipe.  It is from My Recipes.  It is very creamy and tastes like it is all butter and cream.  It is rich and delicious.  On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it a 7.  I say a 7 because I am not that crazy big into sweeter dishes with butternut squash or even red bell peppper.  These vegetables are so sweet that they make whatever dish a little too sweet for me.  I need to balance it out with something acidy or salty.  Here, the bacon helps a lot and I think the rosemary does too.  But I think a little tomato in there would be a better taste for me.

My husband gave it a 10 though.  Apparently, he is okay with that.  And my daughter, who would not usually touch butternut squash with a ten foot pole- ate it and liked it!  Wow! Thats cause to make it in and of itself.


Karen Levin, March 2004.  Original recipe found here at My Recipes.

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
Cooking spray
6 sweet hickory-smoked bacon cooked and drained
1 cup chopped onion
8 ounces uncooked orechette
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded sharp provolone cheese
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. Bake bacon, turning after it has browned a little.  Place on paper towels and let drain.

Increase oven temp to 425°. Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, rosemary, and pepper. Place squash and onion on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with salt mixture. Bake at 425° for 45 minutes or until tender and lightly browned.

Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain well.

Combine flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add provolone, stirring until cheese melts. Add pasta to cheese mixture, tossing well to combine.

Spoon pasta mixture into an 9 x 12 inch baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray; top with squash mixture. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown.

Calories: 469
Calories from fat: 28%
Fat: 14.4g
Saturated fat: 7.3g
Monounsaturated fat: 4.4g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.9g
Protein: 22.1g
Carbohydrate: 66.6g
Fiber: 6.8g
Cholesterol: 40mg
Iron: 3.5mg
Sodium: 849mg
Calcium: 443mg
Next day- reheated- still good but better fresh.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pumpkin and Coconut Curry

Love this time of year with all the butternut squash, pumpkin, and all the other varieties of squash that are out there.  One of my favorites is the buttercup.

Today is the first day that we kinda had snow.  I say kinda because it was mixed with rain.  Not totally frozen.  Out at the store and running errands everyone was pooh-poohing the slush falling from the sky.  I know I am not the only one but I like snow.  I like winter.  I don't mind gray skies.  I know crazy me but honestly I have met a few kindred souls that don't mind it.  Years ago I wouldn't have said this.  I moved to Arizona.  Lived there for three years and that totally killed the need to have heat in my life all the time. 

Hutchinson Farm
It is a very nutty squash.

Pumpkin Coconut Curry
From Sunset October 2011

3 pounds of buttercup, butternut or pumpkin, skinned and chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 -2 green serrano chili
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vegetable or other unflavored oil
1 onion, chopped
1 cinnamon stick
20 curry leaves
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 can coconut milk
1 cup salted and raosted cashews

On parchment paper, place chopped squash.  Roast in the oven at 400F until golden.  This will take about 25 minutes. 

In a large, dry, frying pan toast the cumin seeds and curry leaves. Remove from pan and set aside.  Sauté onion in a tablespoon of oil.  Add the spices back and add coconut milk, cinnamon stick, chile and roasted squash.  Cook for about ten minutes.  Add cashews and lemon juice.  Serve over rice.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

School Lunch Idea

School lunch idea!

I am always looking for ideas for school lunches.  Don't my kids get sick of the same old thing all the time!

This one is easy.  In a bowl blend some cream cheese with green onions or chives.  Spread thinly on a piece of Krakow ham or Wegman's fat free ham, sliced a little thicker than their standard cut.  Roll it up, then slice into rounds.  Delicious!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Cowboy Cookies

Anything with a little coconut in it has a nice chew, with oatmeal- even better.  They are real delicious, lots of wonderful flavor.  You could add in nuts too but my one daughter is not so fond of nuts, so I left them out. 

I try to make things like this for my kids.  While it is a sweet, it also has some good qualities as well.  This way it is a bit of a step up from junk from the store.


I used a cookie scoop and ended up with 70 cookies.

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup ground flaxseed meal
2 sticks (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs
1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Whisk together flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Place butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed, until butter and sugars are blended, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Add flour mixture to the bowl, and blend on low speed until the flour is just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Gradually add oats, chocolate and coconut and mix on low speed until evenly combined. (Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and then use your hands to turn and gently massage dough, to ensure all flour and added ingredients are absorbed.) Chill dough for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days.  

Preheat to 350°F.  

Using a cookie scoop, plunk them down in rounds on the cookie sheet.  If you like slightly flatten each cookie.

Bake cookies for about 12 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through cooking time, until they are lightly browned on the edges. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 3 to 4 minutes, and then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

94 calories per cookie