Saturday, December 28, 2013

OOOPS!!!! I posted in the wrong place.

I can't believe that I sent out a message announcing that I had a new post after all this time and I sent it to the wrong blog.  I had an old set-up and for some reason I put it there.  If anyone looked where I told them to go, they wouldn't have found anything new.  I just figured this out today when I posted something new.  Oh well, it isn't too late to prepare these new recipes.  In fact, it is never too late to use these recipes.  So here goes.....

Preparing Vegetables Ahead of Time
Eggplant/Zucchini/Squash/Cauliflower – Anyone ???
I occasionally fix an Italian style dish with pasta and veggies.  To make life easier I prepare some things ahead of time.  I use a lot of onions in recipes and I like them caramelized.  So, when I buy onions I cook as many as 6 to 10 pounds at a time and freeze them in appropriate sizes for recipes.  I use coconut oil.  I put them in small freezer bags, squeeze out the air and roll them up into a tube shape.  I do this by putting the cooled onions into the bag, about 1/3 full.  Push them down to the bottom of the bag, roll toward the top and then close up the zip lock.  Label them and freeze.  This takes a while but in the end, it shortens the cooking time for all other recipes.  I also make my own pesto and freeze it in small freezer bags (also rolled up).  I will post a pesto recipe later.
I buy zucchini, yellow squash,  Brussel Sprouts, and cauliflower, prepare them by slicing or cutting into bite-sized pieces, and steaming them in a small amount of water in the microwave.  I drain them and put them in the appropriate sized freezer bag and lay them flat in the freezer.  This way you can stack them up and take up much less room in the freezer than traditional containers.  When I want to fix a dish and don’t have a lot of time, I just take out whatever I want and decide on what recipe I want to make.  By having the onions, pesto, and veggie cooked part way, you cut the cooking time by more than half.
Most of the time I prepare the veggies, onions and pesto while cooking other recipes.  I make good use of my time by starting the meal I am cooking and while it is cooking, I slice onions or whatever and get them ready for the freezer.  I find that caramelizing the onions is easily done in a wok.  Use a medium-high heat being careful to not burn the onions.  You need to stir often.

Quick Home-Style Italian Dishes

These recipes are quick because you have already prepared some of your ingredients ahead of time and they are in your freezer.  One of the only veggies that I do not freeze is eggplant.  It cooks quickly and you can add it to the recipe last.
Quick Pesto
To make pesto you need only 5 ingredients.  Basil, Olive Oil, Garlic, Parmesan Cheese, and Walnuts (or Pecans)  Pecans are sweeter.  Your proportions will depend on your tastes.  I try to buy basil on sale.  At a specialty market you might find basil in larger bunches.  Wash and take the leaves off the stems.  In a blender or food processor, add your basil and a little olive oil.  Process on high for a few seconds.  Add garlic, and cheese. Pulsate on high quickly.  Add nuts and stream in a little olive oil at a time to get desired consistency.  I use a lot of garlic.  Some recipes call for pine nuts.  They are more expensive than other nuts and I find that the others work just as well.  All the recipes I create are subject to changes.  I might try something else just to see how it works.  You should do the same.
Italian Veggies and Pasta
       Caramelized Onions
       1 – Eggplant (peeled and cubed)
       2 – Small – Zucchinis (sliced)
       6 – Mushrooms (cleaned and sliced)
       2 – Cans – Fire-Roasted Tomatoes (diced)
       ½ - cup – Chicken Broth
       Parmesan Cheese (to taste)
       Pasta of your choice (I like whole grain)
Addition spices: Oregano, dried basil, Italian spices, sea salt and pepper. (to taste)
       Optional:  Italian Sausage (I use chicken sausage) (sliced)
1)  In a large skillet, thaw your onions and pesto on a medium heat.
2)  Add sausage at this time if you choose to use it.
3)  Add tomatoes and broth; simmer.
4)  Add cubed eggplant and sliced zucchini. Stir and simmer.
5)  Add mushrooms.
6)  Add any additional spices you may choose to add.
7)  Simmer.
8)  Cook your pasta according to package directions.
9)  Add cheese; stir.
10)      Pile pasta in a plate or bowl and top with veggies.
11)      You can add more cheese at this point, too.

As with any recipe, you can add more veggies, more or less cheese or whatever you choose to do.  The only rule is that there are no rules. ENJOY !!!

I hope to start posting again more often than I have.  Let me know if there any recipes that you want and I will send them to you or post them here. Thanks for following.....


Cake Anyone !!!

I did something yesterday that I haven't done in many years.  I baked a cake from scratch.  I have made more loaves of my chocolate chip bread than I can count.  I made a birthday cake for a friend.  She really loves chocolate and she really loves M & M's.  I went through my recipes and found a cake I made maybe 40 years ago.  But tastes change and people like to use a few more healthy ingredients.  Don't get me wrong, this cake is far from healthy.  In fact, it is pretty rich.  For you chocolate lovers out there, this is for you.  ENJOY !!!

 Spiced Chocolate -  Zucchini Cake

        2 1/2 cups -  (1 1/2 c -Whole Wheat Flour / 1 c. -Spelt Flour)
        1/2 cup -  Baking Cocoa (more if you want an extra chocolaty cake)
        1 T. - 5 - Spice Powder
        1 t. -  Sea Salt
        2 1/2 c. -  Sugar Equivalent / Stevia (half each)
        1 c -  Butter     (2 -  sticks)
        4 -  Eggs
        3 c. -  Shredded Zucchini (approximately -  2 to 3 zucchinis) (Finely shredded)
        3 t. -  Vanilla  (Artificial vanilla is fine)
        3/4 c. -  Almond Milk  (adjust as needed)
        3 t. -  Baking Powder (dissolve in 1/4 c. cold tap water)
        2 -  8 oz. -  Cream Cheese
        1 c. -  Butter (2 Stick)
        6 T. -  Cocoa Powder (Semi-sweet Baking Cocoa)
        2 - 3 c. -  Powder Sugar/Stevia - Baking mixture (half each)
        1/4 c. -  Almond Milk  (adjust as needed)
        1 T. -  Vanilla (Artificial vanilla is fine)
        (Use hand mixer to cream these together)
        1) Preheat oven to 350
        1) Grease and flour 3 - 9 inch -  Round Cake Pans.
        2) Mix dry ingredients, except for baking powder. (Sift together)
        3) Mix wet ingredients. (Mix the baking powder and water last)
            (Add baking powder mixture to wet ingredients)
        4) Put all ingredients together in large mixing bowl.  Mix well. (Scraping sides of bowl)
        5) Divide batter between 3 pans.
        6) Bake for approximately 30 minutes at 350 degrees. (Test with toothpicks)
        7) Cool cake on a rack.  Remove from pans. Ice cake, using about  1/4 of the icing for
               each layer and the side of the cake.
        Options:  Add semi-sweet chocolate chips. It makes the cake even richer.
                        Decorate with M & M‘s.  You can use your imagination.  

                     Measurements : (T. = Tablespoon / t. = teaspoon / c. = cup)

I will try to post more recipes soon.  I have developed a few recently that I want to share.  If anyone wants something special, just let me know.  Don't forget to go back to the beginning of my blog.  There is some helpful information about how to use spices and herbs.  Check it out.  Until next time.

It's Time for Soup

It’s Time for Soup
No matter where you live, it is probably a very good time to make soup.  I love soup.  There are many styles of soups and stews.  I thought it would be fun to give you a few examples of all the soups and stews you can serve to your family and friends.  While researching for this posting, I learned a lot about something I thought I knew a lot about already.  Over the years, while cooking in the many kitchens I worked in, I have made thousands of gallons of soups and stew.  Soups and stews are by far some of my favorite things to create.  In the postings at the beginning of my blog you can find all the seasonings you can use for just about any soup or stew you want to make.  One of them tells you what goes with each meat, fish, vegetable or any combination.  Also, if you have a favorite type of cuisine there are lists to tell you which spice or herb goes with each cuisine.  All of these tips can be used if you making soup, as well.  So, go forth and create.  Explore all the possibilities. Your taste buds will thank you.  Your family will thank you.  ENJOY !!!!
Note:  If you prefer what would be called a pot roast (a stew with larger pieces of meat and vegetables) just cook it longer in your oven or crock-pot to allow the juices to thicken and the meat to be more tender.  You can also make a roux (thickening agent of butter and flour) to create a thicker, richer sauce.  
Below is a glossary of soups and stews.  This is the info I found and I want to pass along to you all.  Have fun. Thank you all for letting me share with you. 

Glossary of Soups and Stews
Bisque – A thick, rich soup usually made up of pureed seafood and cream. New recipes may use poultry or vegetables instead of seafood.
Billy bi – French soup made with mussels, onions, wine, cream, and seasonings. Some recipes strain the mussels to have a smooth soup, but the mussels can be left in for extra flavor. (also called billi-bi).
Bird’s nest – Chinese soup made from the black or white nests of a small Asian bird.  They are difficult to harvest, thus expensive.
Borscht – Russian/Polish soup made with fresh beets, assorted vegetables, and sometimes with meat or meat stock; served with a dollop of sour cream; served hot or cold.
Bouillabaisse – French seafood stew made of fish, shellfish, onions, tomatoes, white wine, olive oil, garlic, saffron, and herbs.
Bouillon – Broth made from cooking vegetables, poultry, meat, or fish in water.
Bourride – Mediterranean fish broth made with garlic, onions, orange peel, and sometimes saffron, thickened with egg yolks and flavored with garlic mayonnaise.
Broth – Liquid resulting from cooking vegetables, meat, or fish in water (same as bouillon)
Brunswick Stew – Hearty squirrel meat and onions stew. Newer versions substitute chicken or rabbit and sometimes add other vegetables like okra, lima beans, tomatoes, and corn.
Burgoo – A thick stew made with a combinations of meats, including pork, veal, beef, lamb, and poultry with various vegetables, including potatoes, onions, cabbage, carrots, sweet green peppers, corn, okra, lima beans, and celery. (This was originally made with small game, such as, rabbit and squirrel.)
Callaloo – Caribbean soup made with callaloo leaves (from taro roots), coconut milk, okra, yams, and chiles.
Chowder – Thick, chunky seafood or other rich soup containing chunks of food.
Cioppino – Rich Italian fish stew made with tomatoes and a variety of fish and shellfish, usually highly spiced.
Consommé РClarified meat or fish broth.
Coulis – Juices from cooked meats. It can also be a thick pureed shellfish soup. (Also thick purees of vegetables and fruit mixtures)
Court-Bouillon – Broth made from cooking various vegetables and herbs, usually an onion studded with a few whole cloves, celery, carrots, and a bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, and bay leaf), perhaps with a little wine, lemon juice, or vinegar; used as a poaching base for fish, seafood, or vegetables.
Fumet – Concentrated stock made of fish or mushrooms, used to add flavor to less intensely-flavored stocks or sauces.
Gazpacho – Uncooked soup made of a pureed mixture of fresh tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, onions, celery, cucumber, bread crumbs, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and sometimes lemon juice which is served cold; also served chunky. (You may see it spelled “gazpacho”.
Menudo – Hearty, Spicy Mexican style soup made with tripe, calf’s feet, chiles, hominy, and seasonings reputed to be a hangover cure.
Minestrone – Thick Italian vegetable soup made with pasta, peas, beans and sometimes other vegetables.
Mulligan Stew – Stew made from “what’s on hand”, meat, potatoes, and vegetables in any combination.
Mulligatawny – Rich meat or vegetable broth highly seasoned with curry and other spices with bits of poultry or other meats; can include rice, eggs, coconut shreds and/or cream;  originally from India.
Irish Stew – Stew made of seasoned lamb or mutton chops, potatoes and onions, covered with water or broth and stewed for several hours.
Pepper Pot – Thick soup of tripe, meat, vegetables, pepper and seasonings also known as Philadelphia Pepper Pot.
Posole – Mexican thick, hearty soup made of pork or chicken meat and broth, hominy, onion, garlic, dried chiles, and cilantro.  It is served with chopped lettuce, radishes, and onions. Cheese can be added at the table.
Potage – French soup usually pureed; often thickened with cream or egg yolks.
Scotch Broth – Scottish soup made with lamb or mutton, barley, and vegetables.
Soup – Any combination of vegetables, fruit, meat, and/or fish cooked in a liquid. (water or broth)
Stew – A dish containing meat, vegetables, and a thick soup-like broth made from a combination of the stewing liquid and natural juices of the food being stewed.
Stock – Strained liquid that is the results of cooking vegetables, meat, or fish and other seasonings in water.
Vichyssoise – Rich, creamy potato and leek soup garnished with chives; served cold.
Won Ton – Chinese soup made of won tons (bite-size dumplings filled with minced mixture of meat, seafood and/or vegetables) cooked in and served in a clear broth (chicken or pork) flavored with scallions, celery, and soy sauce.

For a change of pace, I thought I would also post a couple of different recipes during the cold weather to warm you up.  One is a gingerbread recipe that is especially good this time of the year.  The other one is a little more for a warmer time but it is good any time.  It is Lime Pie.  Keep these recipes handy for whenever you decide to make them for family and friends.  ENJOY !!!

Whole Grain Gingerbread
      Ingredients: DRY
            ¾ cup – Whole Wheat Flour
            1 cup – Spelt Flour
            ½ cup – Brown Sugar (light is good too)
            ¼ teaspoon – Baking Soda
            ½ teaspoon – Sea Salt
            1 Tablespoon – Ginger (ground)
            ¼ cup – Crystallized Ginger (chopped)
            1 Tablespoon – Fresh Ginger (grated)
            ½ teaspoon – Cinnamon (ground)
            2 Tablespoon – Orange Zest (grated)
      Ingredients: Wet
            9 Tablespoons – Butter (separated)
            (8 T.-melted) (1T.-for greasing the pan)
            ½ cup – Molasses (black strap)
            3 Tablespoons – Honey
            ½ cups – Almond Milk (plain or vanilla)
            ¼ cup – Greek Yogurt (plain)
            1 – large – Egg (beaten)
1)  Preheat oven to 350°.
2)  Use 1 teaspoon (+ or -) to grease pan (9 inch square).  Put a little flour into pan and shake to coat it.
3)   In a large bowl, mix together the flours, sugar, salt, 3 kinds of ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and orange zest. Mix well.
4)  In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter.
5)   Add the molasses, and honey and heat until the mixture is warm, but not boiling.
6)   Pour into flour mixture. Stir to combine.
7)   Add milk, yogurt, and egg. Fold together until combined.
8)   In a small bowl, put add 2 Tablespoons cold water.  Add the baking soda. Mix with a fork. Add to other ingredients.
9)   Pour batter into treated (greased/floured) pan.
10)      Bake until edges pull away from the sides of the pan slightly. Or until a toothpick (inserted into center) comes out clean; about 35 to 40 minutes.
11)      Let gingerbread cool completely in the pan before slicing and serving.
Note: Left-overs can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 4 days, or wrapped tightly and frozen for future use.

Mexican Lime Pie
            7oz. – Graham Cracker Crumbs
            7 Tablespoons – Butter (unsalted-melted)
            14oz. – Condensed Milk (sweetened)
            12oz. – Evaporated Milk
1 teaspoon – Lime Zest (Mexican, Key or Standard Limes (grated)
1/3 cup – Lime Juice (freshly squeezed)
1)  Set aside 1 Tablespoon Graham Cracker Crumbs for topping.
2)  In a small bowl, add the rest of the crumbs.
3)   Pour the melted butter and stir with a fork until well mixed.
4)   Press the crust into the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie dish (pan). Let it chill in the refrigerator while preparing the filling.
5)   Pour condensed milk and evaporated milk into a blender; and mix on low for 2 minutes until tiny air bubbles can be seen along the edges.
6)   Add lime zest and blend briefly.
The next part is where the “magic” happens.
7)  With the running on medium-low, pour in the lime juice through the hole in the lid in a slowthin stream.
The acidity of the lime juice will cause the mixture to thicken about half-way through.
8)   Mix just until incorporated, increasing the blender speed if necessary.  Do not over-blend or it will thin out.
9)   Pour filling into crust. Sprinkle with extra crumbs. Freeze for 3 to 4 hours before serving.
Note:  You can use a prepared crust if you want.  You can use bottled juice but fresh-squeezed is better. The different limes are very different in size, so the amount of juice will vary.  Squeeze the juice into a measuring cup to assure the correct measurements. Use the same limes for zest and juice.
Extra note:  The type of pie will vary depending on which lime you use. (Mexican Limes – Mexican Lime Pie, Key Limes – Key Lime Pie, etc.)  There will be a slight taste variation as well.

Happy New Year to All !!!