Monday, September 12, 2016

Whole Wheat Lentil Burrito Filling

I don't make this recipe often because it's easier just to use beans, but when I make it we all like it a lot and I wonder why I don't make it more.  Very healthy, cheap, easy, and delicious.  And it uses 2 things I always have on hand in my food storage: wheat and lentils.

Whole Wheat Lentil Burrito Filling

from Laurel's Kitchen

1 1/2 cup cooked whole wheat berries (see other post about cooking whole wheat berries)
1 cup dry lentils
1 quart tomatoes (or 28 oz. can) plus their water, diced
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1 cup water as needed

Mix all together and cook until lentils are tender, about 1 1/2 hours.   Use as a filling in flour tortillas.  You can top it with cheddar or jack cheese, olives, salsa, sour cream, lettuce, shredded cabbage, etc.

Mint Chocolate Brownies

Mmmmm.  So good.  I made these using my zucchini brownie recipe, but you can use your favorite brownie recipe.

Mint Icing Layer
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
2 Tbs. milk
1 1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
1 drop green food coloring

Mix together until smooth and well blended. Spread over cooled brownies.

Ganache Layer
1/3 c. butter
1 heaping cup chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli's 60% dark)

Microwave together in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until chocolate is melted.  Spread gently over mint icing.  Allow it to set before slicing.  For neater edges, wipe blade between cuts.


speeding up the cooling time with an ice-water bath
A few years ago I bought some lovely vanilla maple yogurt from an Amish woman at a farmer's market in western New York. It was so delicious that it inspired me to start making yogurt again, and to make some of it vanilla maple flavor.

I've found that if I get the temperatures just right, I can make a nice, mild and thick yogurt.  It's not as thick as, say, Yoplait, which to me has a gelatinous consistency, but it's thick enough to mound up on the spoon. I love to have it for breakfast stirred into some plain rolled oats and topped with a fruit salad (lately it has been strawberries, bananas, mango, blueberries...). Last time I flavored some with cardamom and honey, which was also quite lovely with the fruit. (How many times can I say lovely in one post? I'm not sure why that seems the right word to describe this yogurt). It's just so much better than the stuff I buy. This last time around I mixed a quart of the plain with passion fruit juice concentrate from the Asian store and made a fantastic passion fruit frozen yogurt and pretended that we were at Razzy Fresh and topped it with chopped mango and strawberries and bananas.  I also love to have plain yogurt as a dessert with fresh fruit., or for breakfast with homemade granola and fruit.  Or I make refrigerator oatmeal or smoothies with it.

I've been making it in half gallon batches, because that does four pint jars. which fit in my Instant Pot.  Sometimes I do single-serving sized jam jars. I can flavor each jar separately. Some with homemade peach jam, some with maple and vanilla, some plain, and some with cardamom and honey. It's all good! And it lasts at least 3 weeks as long as I leave the lids on tight.

For my starter I've been using greek yogurt lately because it has more types of bacteria and seems to make a slightly thicker yogurt.

When culturing the yogurt, it's important to keep the temperature within a specific range.  You want to keep the water around 115 degrees.  Over 122 it curdles, under 110 it doesn't set fast enough. (If the temperature is too low, it will take too long and get sour before it gets thick. If too high, it will get a curdled texture, and higher than that will kill the good bacteria and it won't work at all). There are lots of different methods for keeping it the right temperature.  I recently got an Instant Pot with a yogurt setting that keeps it warm enough to set if I start with the water at 120 and it's not too cold of a day.  My mom puts a pot filled with warm water (120) and a plastic container of yogurt in her "magic box", which is basically a cardboard box filled with newspaper  to insulate the pot.  She sometimes has to heat the water a little midway through the culturing time.  I have in the past wrapped a pot in towels and reheated the water periodically.   Depending on the temperature (lower temps set more slowly), it should be thickened in 5-6 hours.  The longer it takes, the more tart the yogurt will be.

So, here's the simple version of the recipe:

Homemade Yogurt

In a large pan, bring milk to 175 degrees, stirring frequently. Let it cool to 120 degrees. Stir in 1/4 cup plain yogurt  per quart of milk. (I've found that a 6 oz. container of greek yogurt works fine for 2 quarts.)  Pour it into clean jars. Screw on the lids (labeled if you're doing different flavors), and place gently into a big pot of water at 120 degrees.  Let the yogurt culture for about 5-6 hours until thickened.  Store in the refrigerator.

For flavors (enough to flavor 1 cup):
Vanilla Maple: 1/2 Tbs. maple syrup, 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
Jam: 1/4 cup of your favorite jam
Honey Cardamom: 1/2 Tbs. honey, 1/8 tsp. ground cardamom

sterilized jars with flavorings added, ready for yogurt

yogurt jars in pot of warm water ready to culture

Sour Cherry Pie

1 recipe double crust pastry
3/4 c. sugar
6 Tbs. flour or 3 Tbs. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 c. cherry juice
3 1/2 c. drained red sour pitted cherries
1 Tbs. butter
1/2 tsp. almond extract
red food coloring (opt)

Mix sugar with flour and salt in medium saucepan.  Stir in cherry juice and a couple drops of red food coloring if desired.  Add the cherries.  Cook and stir gently over medium heat until mixture has boiled one minute  and thickened.  Remove from heat, stir in butter and almond extract. Set aside to cool while you mix and roll the crust.  Pour filling into pastry-lined pie plate (9 inches).  Place top crust over filling, trim and seal.  Prick to allow steam to escape.  Bake at 400 for 30 min. until crust is golden.

Crumb-topped Apple Pie

This one is a recipe I've always loved.  My dad used to make it and I have a stained copy of the recipe in my 10 year old handwriting with the misspelling "cinimon".  He always made it without a bottom crust.

apple filling:
6 apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. quick tapioca

crumb topping:
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. flour
1/8 tsp. salt
6 Tbs. butter

1 bottom crust of your favorite pastry (opt).

Mix the filling and place in bottom pie crust.  Alternatively, just skip the bottom crust and place in a square glass baking dish or deep casserole dish.  Cut together the topping ingredients until crumbly.  Sprinkle over the apple filling and bake 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling.


 This is a delicious, healthy, budget recipe that I've adapted from several sources.  

Serves: 8
  • rice and lentil base:
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil 
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted 
  • 1 tsp allspice 
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves 
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cup brown lentils
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • salad:
  • 1 head lettuce
  • 1 bunch radishes
  • 1 cucumber
  • dressing:
  • 3 lemons, juiced
  • 1/8 tsp. paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
saute the onions until carmelized
carmelized onions
  1. Thinly slice the onions and add them to a large pot with the olive oil. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently until they are deeply golden brown, sticky, and caramelized. 
  2. Add the cumin, allspice, cloves and rice to the pot.  Toast the rice in the onion mixture, then add 4 1/2 cups water, and the lentils.  Stir the pot well to dissolve any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.
  3. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, until done, about 30 minutes.  
  4. While it's cooking, make a salad with the radishes, cucumber and lettuce.  Mix together the dressing ingredients. 
  5. Serve warm, topped with salad and lemon garlic dressing.

Cranberry Tuna Salad

A good friend shared some Whole Foods Cranberry Tuna Salad with me.  It was delicious, but I was shocked at the price.  Here is my version:

Cranberry Tuna Salad

2 cans chunk light tuna
1/4 cup mayonnaise (or more as desired)
zest from 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2-3  Tbs. dried cranberries, chopped smaller
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 Tbs. chopped red onion
1/4 tsp. celery seed
salt and lemon pepper to taste

Mix all together, chill.

Onion-Millet Bread Mix

 Onion-Millet Bread Mix

Measure  these dry ingredients into baggie and label with instructions for use.
   1 c. whole wheat flour
   2 c. white flour
   1/4 c. millet
   2/4 tsp. salt
   1 Tbs. dried onion flakes
   ¼ c. dry milk
   2 Tbs. brown sugar
   1/8 tsp. garlic powder
   1 Tbs. gluten

When ready to use, add mix to breadmaker with:
1 c. + 2 Tbs. water
1 Tbs. oil
1 tsp. yeast
Add more water or flour as needed.
Use regular cycle or dough cycle, shape dough and place in bread pan, let rise, bake at 350˚ until 185˚ in middle, about 25 min.

Black Bean Salad

This is a frequent summer recipe for us.  

Black Bean Salsa Salad

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed (about 3 cups)
1 c. frozen corn
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped
1/2 c. green onions, sliced
1/4 c. red onion, chopped
1/4 c. lime juice
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce
1 Tbs. canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large tomato, chopped

Mix all together in a large bowl.  If you feel like getting fancy, then mix all but the tomatoes, chill, and then add the tomatoes just before serving.  

Monday, July 4, 2016

Microwave Oatmeal

There's no need to spend money on instant oatmeal, when this takes only a few seconds longer and tastes SO MUCH BETTER!  If measuring 1/2 cup of oats in the morning is too much, then measure them out and put in baggies the day before - do enough for a couple of weeks at a time.  You could even add dried fruit, nuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon to your mixes.  Then just add water and microwave.  Lately I've been using some freeze-dried diced apples with a hint of cinnamon and brown sugar.

Microwave Oatmeal - Basic Recipe for 1

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. water

Put in a large cereal bowl (it needs room to boil) and microwave 2 minutes on high.  I've found that sometimes I need to adjust the time when I have different brands of oats - one needed 3 minutes to get soft enough and another only needed 1 1/2 minutes, so cook until it's the texture you like.  You also might prefer to add more water, but I like mine fairly dry since I top it with milk or almond milk.

I like to add toppings like 1/2 cup of frozen berries or chopped apples and cinnamon (microwave 30 seconds longer) or 1/4 cup pumpkin puree, chopped bananas, and pumpkin pie spice.  Also fresh fruit like berries or peaches are great, or some dried blueberries and walnuts.

Refrigerator Oats

I got this Refrigerator Oats recipe from someone on Pinterest.  It was a bit difficult to find the chia seeds (let me tell you I got some funny looks from Pittsburghers when I was asking in the different grocery stores).  I found some in bulk at Whole Foods for a good price, but when I went back, they only had packaged seeds.  I got the lb. bag of Bob's Red Mill because it was the best price.  I've since found them at Costco and the East End Food Coop.  Before I found the chia seeds, I just made it without, and I actually prefer it without, but the chia is a very healthful addition (high in fiber, protein, and omega-3), so I've gotten used to it.  If you make it without, you'll need to reduce the amount of milk to about 1/2 cup.

Refrigerator Oats - Basic Recipe for 1
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2/3 cup milk
1 Tbs. chia seeds

I like to put it in pint jars, and each one holds 1 serving.  It will need to sit overnight, or at least for an hour so the oats and chia can absorb the liquid.  I make about 4-6 at a time, and we eat them over the course of a few days.  You could do all kinds of different flavors.  I just add flavors when it's time to eat so that the fruit stays fresh.  My favorite right now is fresh cubed mango, a dash of almond extract, and slivered almonds.  We've also liked any combination of fresh strawberries, blueberries or peaches, bananas and maple syrup.  Flavors that haven't been requested for a repeat include peanut butter & chocolate and applesauce cinnamon.  I think cooked apple chunks would be better texture-wise.  I've been meaning to try pumpkin spice.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Chinese Egg Noodles with Five-Spice Pork (or Turkey)

We really like this recipe and it's pretty easy.
Serves four.
Adapted from recipe by Tony Rosenfeld, Fine Cooking, Issue 104

1/3 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts
1/3 cup precooked real bacon bits (I use the ones from Costco)
2 medium cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 2-inch piece ginger, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 lb. ground pork or turkey
1/2 tsp. five-spice powder
3 scallions, trimmed and sliced (white and green parts kept separate)
3 cups shredded cabbage and a bit of shredded carrot or a bag of coleslaw mix (no dressing)
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
1 tsp. white vinegar
1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
3/4 lb. fresh Chinese-style egg noodles

Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, coarsely chop the peanuts in a food processor. Transfer to a small bowl.

Heat the oil in a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and 
cook until the bacon crisps up a bit, about 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes.  Cook another minute.  Raise the heat to medium high and add the pork or turkey, five-spice powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until it loses all of its raw color, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the cabbage and cook a couple minutes until the cabbage begins to wilt. Stir in the scallion whites, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, and sugar. Keep warm over low heat.

Cook the noodles in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and put in a large bowl; toss in the pork or turkey mixture. Portion among 4 bowls, sprinkle with the peanuts and scallion greens, and serve

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 820, Fat (kcal): 50, Fat Calories (g): 450, Saturated Fat (g): 11, Protein (g): 32, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 24, Carbohydrates (mg): 61, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 10, Sodium (g): 1560, Cholesterol (g): 130, Fiber (g): 4,