Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Four Types of Chocolate Bark

This Christmas I wanted to make a treat for the four different homes that I was visiting. My husband loves my fudge but I didn't feel like making it. I had also made my famous pecan bars for a family celebration two weeks ago, so couldn't do a repeat. Then I was thinking about my candy bark. To make it you take every seasonal candy that is out there right now, mix it together, and pour white chocolate over the top. It tastes awesome and makes you feel like you are going to go into a sugar coma, but it takes some guts to try it if you are over the age of 15 and I figured people would look at it without trying. So I decided to make chocolate bark, candy bark's more sophisticated sibling.

The overall process is very similar for each recipe. Each type were scarfed down at each celebration, but my personal favorites are the Roasted Walnuts and Tart Cherries in Dark Chocolate and the Pecans in Salted Chocolate. Each recipe yields a whole cookie sheet of bark so be prepared to take it everywhere! I fed 4 different families and now still have enough to take to our friends for New Years Eve. Thank goodness because I am so tired I cant even make rice right now (recovering from the 24 hour stomach flu).

Roasted Walnuts and Tart Cherry Dark Chocolate Bark
Adapted From Food and Wine

2 1/2 cups of walnut halves
3 12 oz bags of bittersweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli)
1 1/2 cups of dried tart cherries (coarsely chopped)
4 Tbs of crystalized ginger (finely chopped)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the walnut halves on a cookie sheet and toast until golden and fragrant (usually around 8 minutes but keep an eye on them so they do not burn). Let cool then coarsely chop them.

When you have all your other ingredients ready, place the chocolate chips in a double boiler and stir constantly until melted. Take the double boiler off the heat and mix in the rest of your ingredients. Then pour onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper, wax paper or foil. Using a spatula, spread out until at desired thickness or until it reaches the sides of the pan.

Let cool by putting in fridge for around an hour (should be completely hard and set before you take it out). Then either with a sharp knife or with your hands (which I usually do) break the bark into pieces.

Pistachio and Cranberry White Chocolate Bark
Adapted From Brown Eyed Baker

3 12oz bags of white chocolate chips* (I use Ghirardelli)
3/4 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
3/4 cup of crasins (dried cranberries)

Place the chocolate chips in a double boiler and stir constantly until melted. Take the double boiler off the heat and mix in the rest of your ingredients. Then pour onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper, wax paper or foil. Using a spatula, spread out until at desired thickness or until it reaches the sides of the pan.

Let cool by putting in fridge for around an hour (should be completely hard and set before you take it out). Then either with a sharp knife or with your hands (which I usually do) break the bark into pieces.

*I didnt roast the pistachios but other recipes recommended it, so it is up to you whether or not you roast them

Roasted Pecans and Salted Chocolate Bark

2 cups of toasted pecans
2 12 oz bags of semi-sweet chocolate
2 12 oz bags of white chocolate
1 Tbs of coarse salt (I used coarse Kosher salt)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the pecans on a cookie sheet and toast until golden and fragrant (usually around 8 minutes but keep an eye on them so they do not burn). Let cool then coarsely chop them.

When you have all your other ingredients ready, place the semi-sweet chocolate chips in a double boiler and stir constantly until melted. Then take the bowl off of the double boiler and put the white chocolate chips on the double boiler and stir constantly until melted.

Pour the white and dark chocolate in a checkerboard pattern onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper, wax paper or foil. Then use a fork to swirl the semisweet and white chocolate together. Pour the roasted pecans on top, pushing them gently into the chocolate. Then sprinkle the salt on top of the chocolate.

Let cool by putting in fridge for around an hour (should be completely hard and set before you take it out). Then either with a sharp knife or with your hands (which I usually do) break the bark into pieces.

Candy Cane Bark

1 12 oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 12 oz bag of bittersweet chocolate chips
2 12 oz bags of white chocolate chips
12 oz (2 regular packages) of candy canes, crushed

Place the semisweet and bittersweet chocolate chips in a double boiler and stir constantly until melted. Pour onto cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper, wax paper or foil.
Place into fridge for around 10 - 15 minutes to harden and then take out when ready for white chocolate chips.*

Place the white chocolate chips in a double boiler and stir constantly until melted. Pour onto the dark chocolate layer. Spread carefully so the brown chocolate does not show up in the white. Then pour your crushed candy canes on top and press them into the chocolate.

Let cool by putting in fridge for around an hour (should be completely hard and set before you take it out). Then either with a sharp knife or with your hands (which I usually do) break the bark into pieces.

*Many people have had the two parts of the chocolate separate when breaking the bark into pieces. I felt it was a temperature problem (as the Brown Eyed Baker has you put it in the freezer for 30 minutes) and that pouring the white chocolate on something so cold would not let the dark chocolate melt to create a bond. I still did have a little on the edges separate but not much, so it is up to you on how long you want the dark chocolate to cool

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Radishes Three Ways

Christmas is over, hurrah! As I am getting older it just seems like more and more work. Im not totally "Bah Humbug," having the holidays at my parents house yesterday was great, but Im worn out from 2 days of driving and socializing. Plus my cats are super active right now and are having mini cat fights around the house and jumping from really tall heights. I think, with us traveling the last two days and dealing with the car crash this week, that they are feeling neglected.

On my quest to try new foods, I bought radishes. I already knew that I liked daikon radishes and have made different korean dishes with them but I don't remember the last time I actually tried regular radishes. After watching an episode of No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain in France, and watching how they so enjoyed radishes with salt and butter, I wanted to try.

In the end, I still like daikon radishes (the third recipe I don't have a picture for, as I made it over the summer for a picnic but it is a great recipe) and I think that the regular ones are good sauteed in butter when they are on top of garlic mashed potatoes, but on their own... I wouldn't eat a whole plate of them. Everyone says that they are great on a crusty french loaf, and I would agree... if I could eat a loaf of french bread (or if my dad was here to make me GF french bread).

Sauteed Radishes

2 Tbs of butter
1 - 2 bunches of rashes, cut into fourths (small ones in half)
1/4 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste*

Melt butter in saute pan and add water. Set over medium high heat. Add in radishes, shaking the pan every few minutes so they dont stick, and cook until tender and golden brown (around 7 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste.

*You can add any herb that you would like to this dish. I added 1/4 cup of fresh chives the second time I made these and they had a much more interesting flavor.

Pickled Diakon and Red Radishes With Ginger
Adapted from Gourmet

1 1/2 lb daikon radish, peeled
1 bunch of red radishes, trimmed and cut into 6 wedges each
1 Tbs kosher salt
1/2 cup of rice vinegar (not seasoned)
6 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs of very think matchsticks of peeled ginger

Cut the daikon radish lengthwise then cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices. Add in sliced red radishes in a large bowl and toss with kosher salt. Let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Drain in a colander without rinsing and put into bowl.

In a small bowl add vinegar and sugar. To get the sugar to dissolve you can keep stirring, as Gourmet suggests, or I find microwaving the vinegar and sugar for 30 sec to 1 min will give you a better solution (watch out, it smells!). Add the ginger. Pour on top of the radishes and put into an airtight container and chill. Shake every once and awhile. Should be ready after 12 hours and can last for up to 3 weeks in fridge. When you open, these do have a very strong smell which some people do not like, but taste great.

Korean Daikon Radish Salad

1- 1 1/2 - 2 pd white daikon radish
2 Tbs salt
1 small carrot
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbs sugar

Using a food processor shred the daikon radish and carrot, mixing them together. Place the shredded vegetables into a bowl and add the salt. Mix and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinsing well with cold water, and then drain throughly by squeezing as much liquid as you can get out of them.

Mix the vinegar and sugar together, either in a small sauce pan over medium low heat or in the microwave for 30 sec - 1 min until the sugar dissolves. Put the daikon/carrot mix in a bowl and pour the vinegar over the top. Chill for at least 6 hours, stirring occasionally.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

GF Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna

Well it is the day before Christmas Eve and I spent 7 hours cooking... even though I didn't have to. I made 4 different types of chocolate bark to take to 4 different Christmas parties that we have in the next two days. Then I made my wild rice with carmelized onions and cranberries for my Aunt's Christmas Eve Party tomorrow. Finally I made stuffed apples, curried swiss chard and a vegetarian tamale pie for my parents' Christmas tomorrow.

I just finished and was going to try to go swimming but collapsed instead. So now I'm eating my pho (from Bon Bon, its good!) and relaxing in front of the TV with a cat on my arm (who looks so funny because I shaved him last week). It feels nice to relax with the crazy week that I have had. On Saturday night my husband was in what could have been a fatal accident. Luckily my husband swerved (quick reaction which he attributes to playing video games) and the man only took out the left side of the car. My husband has a lot pain, but luckily nothing life threatening. I've spent the last 5 days driving him everywhere and taking care of him but tonight one of our friends is back from the Navy and he took him to dinner, so I get some time off. Back to craziness tomorrow.

I made this lasagna as a combination of different recipes. I wanted to make something different and haven't made lasagna before. I thought it would be fun but instead was a learning experience. I am not a fan of cheese so I only used a small amount of parmesan and mozzarella cheese. However, I'll put in what "normal" people would use for cheese in the recipe.

Gluten Free Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna

1 butternut squash (1 1/2 - 2 pounds)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp of dried sage
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbs brown sugar
15 oz ricotta cheese
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs of water
A box of gluten free rice lasagna noodles

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use a knife and prick a few holes in the squash. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour until soft. While your squash is roasting, cook your GF noodles according to specifications on the box.

After the squash has roasted and is cool enough to touch, remove the fibers and seeds and peel off the skin. Place the squash meat into a food processor and process until pureed. Mix in the sage, 1/2 tsp of black pepper, 1 tsp of salt and the brown sugar.

Mix the ricotta, 1/4 cup of parmesan, 1/2 tsp of black pepper and 1 tsp of salt together in a different bowl.

Spray a 9 x 5 baking dish with cooking spray and put 2 Tbs of water at the bottom of the dish. Then place a layer of noodles at the bottom of the dish, overlapping slightly. Spread 1/2 of the squash mixture over the noodles and then 1/2 of the ricotta mixture. Then repeat with noodles, squash, cheese, and noodles. Sprinkle the top noodle layer with 1/4 cups of parmesan cheese.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 10 - 15 minutes until the cheese begins to golden on top.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Eggplant Three Ways

So, yeah, I am sooooooo bored. I know that is a luxury, but with this new schedule I am still in work mode and then have nothing to do. I have already steam cleaned my parents carpet, fixed and cleaned our fridge, done all the laundry, created 3 DVDs (2 of wedding videos and 1 of the bachelor party), played video games, read 2 books, and I don't know what else, but now it has been a week and I am going stir crazy. I've got NPR going on in one ear for background noise because I am so used to having people around and am in the middle of roasting a whole butternut squash. I still have my National Board stuff to do and other things for work but it is hard for me to concentrate and write at my house unless it is on a deadline. It is almost impossible to go to a library around here and I miss the one by my parents house, which is an hour away from here. I don't feel like driving in the freezing cold (10 degrees right now) to go to a library to write, so I guess I'm stuck here knocking my head against the wall. I wish it was summer so I could at least go outside, but noooo, now I have to have my weeks in the freezing cold where there is nothing to do!!!!!

Here are three eggplant recipes. They aren't the most beautiful pictures but the meals are really good. I was actually wishing that I was having the eggplant caviar today while I was eating at Manny's. It is a famous deli, which we haven't gone to before, despite the fact that we have lived here for 10 years. Today we had nothing in our fridge because it broke down and my husband had 45 minutes before going to work, so he decided to go there. Honestly, a year ago I would have loved it- a huge pile of corned beef on rye with mustard, but now I could only eat the meat and it just was bland. It was kinda depressing because with the way my gastroparesis is going I have become the hardest person to take out to eat. There is nothing that I want to eat at restaurants... it seems like everything makes me sick, unless I make it on my own. Eating out has always been one of our hobbies and now I still go out but I don't enjoy it at all.

The second recipe may not look at good as it should, because I don't have a wok. My kitchen is small and there is absolutely no more room for any pots/pans/cooking utensils/anything! However it still works out well in a pan.

The eggplant recipe without a picture is a recipe that I made this summer. You may not be able to see the final product, but do not let that discourage you. It was an awesome side and had a unique flavor that was a fun addition to a family picnic at the beach.

Eggplant Caviar
Adapted from Color Me Vegan

1 purple Italian eggplant
1 tbs olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of quinoa (if you have black quinoa, looks even cooler)
2 cups of vegetable stock
3 Tbs of minced fresh cilantro
2 Tbs of minced thai basil
2 Tbs of gluten free soy sauce
2 Tbs of lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prick the eggplant with a knife all over and put on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Roast for 45 to one hour until soft.

Add the olive oil to a pan and cook the onion and garlic over medium heat until soft and slightly golden. Then add in the quinoa and stir constantly for 1 minute. Add in vegetable stock and bring to boil. Then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Then transfer quinoa to a mixing bowl, fluffing it, to cool.

Once eggplant is cool enough to touch, peel off the skin and put the flesh of the eggplant into a food processor. Add the cilantro, thai basil, soy sauce and lime juice. Puree to a paste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the eggplant mixture and quinoa together and add additional seasoning if needed.

Garlic Eggplant
Adapted from The Breath of a Wok

2 Italian eggplants (or 4 Asian eggplants if you've got them)
1/4 cup gluten free soy sauce
2 Tbs of balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs of sherry
1 Tbs of sugar
1 tsp of salt
2 tsp of red pepper flakes
2 Tbs of oil
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 Tbs of ginger, minced
2 tsp of sesame oil
1/4 cup of green onions, sliced

Peel the eggplant and cut into two inch sections. Then halve each lengthwise and then cut into thirds to make sticks. You then steam the eggplant for 5 -8 minutes until soft*.

Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sherry, and pepper in a bowl.

In a wok (or frying pan, like I did it) on high heat, add in oil and stir fry garlic and ginger for 10 seconds. Add in the steamed eggplant and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add in the sauce and cook for around a minute. Take off of heat and add sesame oil and scallions.

*When I made this I looked up a way of steaming without using a steamer rack, because I dont have one. If anyone knows how, please let me know. I remember it was putting the chunks in a pan and adding around a 1/4 cup of water... but I cant find the directions now anywhere online. Thanks

Honey Garlic Eggplant
Adapted from Beyond Salmon
2 eggplants
2 Tbs honey
2 Tbs olive Oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Salt and Pepper

Peel the eggplants so you have stripes of skin and no skin then cut into 1/2 inch circles. Toss eggplants with kosher salt (around one Tbs) and let sit in a colander for an hour. Rinse the eggplant to remove the salt and then squeeze it to draw out more moisture. Pat dry with paper towels.

Preheat grill (I used a grill pan) to high. In a large bowl mix all other ingredients. Dunk dried eggplant slices into the marinade.

Brush oil on grill. Place the eggplant slices on the grill, cover, and turn the heat to medium. Grill until marked, which is around 3 minutes. Then turn 90 degrees so you have tic tac toe marks. Grill for around 3 more minutes. Brush the slices again with the rest of the marinade and flip. Do the same thing on the other side. You want the eggplant to brown, but not burn. Take off of grill and put on a plate. Drizzle with olive oil.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Zucchini and Wild Rice

Well, my fridge is broken... Thats fun. The freezer is fine but the fridge is warm and I have already had to throw out my milk, butter and eggs. I just spent an hour vacuuming cat fur from under and behind the fridge, but I don't think it is going to help. This makes dinner difficult. I think I am going to pickle the radishes (daikon and regular) that I have and then just have mashed potatoes. Not exciting, but at least I am using some things from my fridge and reducing the food I may have to throw away. I am tempted to put the items (at this point, all sauces) in our common area outside my back door. I think with how cold it is outside right now, that this indoor area is probably colder than my fridge!

Here is one of the recipes from Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I enjoyed reading this book and it was much easier to get through than the Omnivore's Dilemma, which I am still working on (whenever I eat breakfast, the rest of the time I'm working on different novels- right now the Magicians by Lev Grossman). I feel like it preaches less and makes you want to try new things. One thing that it made me do while reading, was look up kits to make cheese at home. I only like parmesan (which takes a lot of work) and mozzarella cheese, but you can make mozzarella at home and sounds really cool. The book also had me try zucchini for the first time. My mom has always cooked with zucchini, but I would never try it. This dish turned out really tasty, but then I got really sick a few days later. When I pulled back out my food sensitivity test results, I found that it shows I am very sensitive to zucchini (very red) so I guess it is the first, and last, time I am trying it!

Zucchini and Wild Rice
Adapted from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

1 cup of cooked wild rice (book uses 3/4 lb of orzo pasta)
1 chopped onion
4 cloves of garlic
3 large zucchini
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs fresh thyme
1 Tbs fresh oregano
Parmesan cheese

Use a grater to shred the zucchini. Then saute the garlic, onion, and zucchini together in olive oil on medium heat. The zucchini mixture is supposed to turn lightly golden, but I sautéed until all the items were soft (couldn't get it to golden). Add thyme and oregano and remove from heat. Toss with wild rice and add cheese, salt, and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

French Onion and Egg Drop Soups

So I am on my three week holiday break from work. I know it is only teachers who can complain about having three weeks off, everyone else would relish it, I am just having a hard time with our new school year schedule. I need this week off during the summer where it is warm out and I can actually do something rather than now where I am sitting next to my space heater, even with the heat in the house on, because it is 10 degrees outside. The next three weeks are to organize..my house, my National Board stuff, my computer, etc. While I'm blogging I am waiting for movies to load into imovie so I can put together our dvd for this year. We just got a video camera in June to tape our wedding, but already I have enough for 4 different DVDs and have to start putting them together... what else is 3 weeks for? Relaxing? I dont know how!

One of the things that I am organizing, is my recipes. Today I am going through two of my soup recipes from the three weeks where I could only drink liquids and eat soft foods. Both turned out really good for being soup (not one of my favorite things, even though I have 3 huge books of soup recipes). These may not be the most exciting pictures, but keeping track of the recipes on my website allows me to print out them out later (important for this organizing binge Im on!)

French Onion Soup


2.5 lbs of onions (sliced into 1/2 moons then sliced in half again)
1/2 stick of butter (1/4 cup)
4 cups of beef broth
Black Pepper
Parmesan or Asiago Cheese

Put the pot (or saucepan) on medium heat. Cut the butter into small chunks and place in the pot. After the butter has melted and begins to foam, put in the onions. Stir the onions so they are covered in butter and add a teaspoon of salt. Turn heat to medium low and let the onions cook, stirring every once and awhile. Caramelizing the onions typically takes 45 minutes or more at this heat. Let them turn a mahogany color, but dont let them burn. Pour in your broth and turn the heat to high so that it boils. Then turn the heat down and let simmer for 1/2 an hour or more--you want the soup to reduce and look shiny. Season with salt and pepper, pour into bowls and add cheese and any other toppings you like.

Egg Drop Soup
Adapted from Gourmet


5 cups of chicken stock
1 tsp of soy sauce
2 Tbs cooking sherry
1 tsp of ginger powder or 1 two inch piece of fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves smashed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tsp sesame seed oil
Ground black pepper

Bring stock, soy sauce, sherry, ginger, garlic to boil in a pot. Simmer for 4 minutes, then remove garlic and fresh ginger (if added) with a slotted spoon. Stirring soup in a circle, add in eggs slowly. Simmer for around 1 minute until eggs are cooked. Take off of heat and add cut scallions and sesame seed oil along with salt and ground pepper to taste.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wild Rice with Caramelized Onions and Cranberries

This has to be one of my favorite dishes of all time. I think it is a perfect dish for Christmas to follow my sweet potato risotto for Thanksgiving. I thought it was soo good because of the butter which I rarely cook with but my dad said that it is the caramelized onions and my grandfather agreed saying that even putting them on top of ice cream would taste good (I don't know about that one).

I am making this dish again tomorrow for my husband's family's Christmas party. He doesn't think that they will like it, because they have very traditional tastes, but I think the situation is like the one that I had with my aunt and cousins. When I brought my sweet potato risotto and ginger cranberry sauce to Thanksgiving I really thought they wouldn't like it because they have traditional tastes and have eaten the same thing at Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember. My aunt revealed that she didn't know what risotto was and my cousin said she hadn't eaten sweet potatoes before (they've had it for Thanksgiving before but it is usually covered in marshmallows). However, after getting past the initial reluctance, my risotto was the first dish finished and they ate all of the cranberry sauce too. I think that many people don't try new foods because they are not comfortable in making something new. I think once they try it, and the ingredients are not too far from their comfort zone, that they will find that they like it, and I hope that is what happens tomorrow.

Wild Rice with Caramelized Onions and Cranberries
Adapted from Ocean Spray

2+ cups vegetable or chicken broth (depending on directions on bag/box)
1 cup of wild rice
3 Tbs of butter
3 medium onions sliced in thin wedges
1 cup of dried cranberries

Cook wild rice according to directions using chicken or vegetable broth. Melt butter in a medium skillet, add onions, and stir to coat onions with butter. Reduce heat to low and cook onions until caramelized (around 30 minutes). Stir in cranberries. Cover and cook for 10 minutes on low until cranberries start to swell then mix cranberry onion mixture into cooked wild rice.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Carrot Fries

Sometimes in special education, paperwork can get overwhelming. I just did my progress reports for 5 classes and then IEP goals for 4 kids (3 each) and now it is 9:00... argggg. This is also a hard time for me right now... with our new "year round" schedule (which I hate) we only have two weeks of school between Thanksgiving break and Winter break. Two weeks to try to do two video lesson for National Board (I did one today... first they tried to take my student teacher for a field trip, then my camera went out of batteries and the kids were totally off), raise money, collect money, buy items and teach 50 freshmen how to sew stockings so we can given stockings filled with necessary items to the homeless through Night Ministry, and finish our Donorschooose.org thank you project. Plus my husbands 30th birthday has this whole weekend filled with events. Also one of my good friends from work had her adult son murdered on Thanksgiving and I am sick to my stomach on all of the horrible things she has had to endure this year and amazed at how she can hold it all together, I don't know how she does it...I don't know if I could. I am going to his services tomorrow.

So with all of this going on, I am cooking but not posting. Today will be a quick post. I have discovered a new snack food. It is made from one of the vegetables I have previously hated... carrots. Well, I don't know if I really hated carrots but I would pick them out of most every dish that I ate that had them inside unless they were super soft. These carrot fries are awesome with catsup (and my cat Crookers went nuts over them but I only allowed him one with no salt). Have fun!

Carrot Fries

16 medium sized carrots
1 tbs of olive oil
salt and fresh pepper to taste

Turn the oven to 475 degrees. Peel the carrots and cut then into matchsticks 4 inches long. Put the carrots into the bowl and toss with the olive oil. Spread them out on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with pepper and salt. Bake until they start to get crisp. Toss them every 15 minutes. Mine usually finish in 45 minutes, but it depends on how thinly you cut the carrots.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sofrito Garbanzo Beans With Sweet Corn Cakes

So my quest to clean out my cabinets and freezer begins. It is hard to have extra ingredients around when you have a small kitchen, well at least in my mind a small kitchen. I have only a small amount of counter space and each of my cabinets are filled till they burst. I spent 4 hours on Veteran's Day rearranging my cabinets, putting food out to donate, and rearranging my counters. I got a little more space and since I like the layout now, I work harder to keep it clean. Today I got a lemon cyprus tree for our two-top table. Lets see if it lasts with Little Kitty rolling around on the top of the table! I just wanted a little holiday cheer and a big tree is not an option (no room in condo and cats would destroy it in seconds.)

So I went through my cabinets and saw my masa (from the tamales that I never made last year), corn meal, and the 2 bags of frozen corn in my freezer. I remembered the sweet corn cakes recipe that I had seen awhile back on Photograzing, so I made them. However, on their own they were pretty bland. Then I saw a can of Sofrito cooking base, a small can of salsa, and garbanzo beans. I made the Sofrito garbanzo beans that I love, put them on top of the corn cakes, and was addicted. Next time I have people over I am making these as an appetizer.

Sweet Corn Cake
Adapted from the Knead for Speed

2 15 oz bags of frozen corn (cooked)
1 cup of masa harina
6 Tbs of cornmeal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
7 Tbs butter melted
3/4 cup of honey
6 Tbs of water
4 Tbs of skim milk

Turn oven to 350. Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray. Place the cooked corn in a food processor and pulse until it is about 1/2 pureed (you still want whole kernels to stick out in the mix). In a bowl, combine dry ingredients. In another bowl, mix butter, honey, corn, water and milk. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Pour into pan, cover with foil, and bake 35 - 45 minutes. The resulting cake will be moist and firm.

Sofrito Garbanzo Beans
1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans
3 tablespoons of sofrito
3 tablespoons of salsa mexicana
1 packet of sazon seasoning

Combine ingredients into a saucepan. Stir and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes uncovered. Cut corn cakes into squares, top with Sofrito Garbanzo Beans

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cranberry Sauce With Crystalized Ginger

This weekend one of our friends had a Thanksgiving party. I was going to make the biscuits from Red Lobster (the only reason why people I know go there!) and this cool recipe for snickerdoodle bars with pumpkin (neither of which I could eat, oh well), but we didn't reply fast enough and people had already signed up for bread and dessert. I knew my sweet potato risotto would be a hit, and this time I made it with vegetable stock for the vegetarians, but the other thing that she said she needed was a cranberry dish. Great... I haven't cooked cranberries before. I went on a mad dash for cranberry recipes. I was going to do one of the ones from Bon Appetit with port wine and dried black mission figs (even though I didn't know where I would find the ingredients) but then I saw that smittenkitchen made them, and didn't like them, so I looked for another recipe.

I have never worked with fresh cranberries before, I don't even remember ever having handled one. I had health issues as a child that made me drink gallons of cranberry juice so I hated cranberries up until this year when I tried crasins and really liked them for their sweet/sour mix. My mom said that she made fresh ones when we were little, but I couldn't remember it. The dish turned out awesome and had a great underlying ginger flavor to mix in with the tartness (one of the people asked me at the gathering what I did to make them tart- they're cranberries!!). The sad part is that, although people enjoyed them, they were sentimental for the cranberries in the can.... So next time I am supposed to come with a few cans and be good? That is weird, fresh is always better in my opinion!

Cranberry Sauce With Crystalized Ginger

1 1/2 pounds of fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 cup of orange juice
1 cup of water
1 Tbs of grated orange peel
1 tsp of ground ginger
1/2 cup of minced crystalized ginger

Mix first 6 ingredients together in a saucepan. Bring to boil and stir while sugar is dissolving. Keep boiling until the cranberries pop open (you can tell when it is done visually) which takes around 5 minutes. Let cool then mix in the crystalized ginger.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pumpkin Rice Pudding

So I am trying to do something to get my brother off of my mind. Right now he is in Louisville, Kentucky on a job interview. He is graduating in May as a chemical engineer and has been very industrious on trying to find a job while his friends haven't even started looking. Right now you have to take any type of job you can get starting out and luckily it is a job that he would like, but it is 5 hours away. I am having empty nest syndrome and Im his sister! We are 8 years apart and I have always been his "second mom." My family is very close and we all live in a 30 minute radius so to think of his moving 5 hours away to a new job where he doesn't know anyone is sad. He is excited about the new adventure but I am having a hard time accepting it. We don't even know if he has the job, and am hoping he does, but it will be a big change in all of our lives.

I am still on a liquids and mashed potatoes diet, but here is one of the recipes I made before my stomach revolted. I was hungry for something sweet and since I'm gluten free, and making gluten free crust isn't that easy, so I made pumpkin rice pudding with the items around my house. Using the arborio rice makes the rice pudding creamy and would have been even better if I had a milk with a higher fat content.

Pumpkin Rice Pudding
Adapted from Worth The Whisk

4 cups of milk
3/4 cup of pumpkin puree (not spiced)
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of white sugar
1 cup of arborio rice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

In a sauce pan, stir together rice, milk, and sugar. Heat until about to boil and then lower and simmer for 25 minutes. Check at 25 minutes to see if it is at the texture you like. I usually take longer for softer rice. Stir continuously so it doesn't burn. In a bowl, mix pumpkin puree, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and salt. Then when the rice is cooked turn off the heat and mix in the pumpkin mix. This works both warm and cold.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Avgolemono Soup

Day #6 on protein shake, mashed potatoes and broth diet. Its so discouraging. I feel just fine when I don't eat any solid foods and to be honest, it almost feels even better than usual. However, I miss cooking. I miss trying new foods and recipes and being adventurous. I don't know when I should try something more solid, but I keep remembering last week when a bowl of rice had me in such pain for 3 hours. I don't want to feel like that, but at some point I am going to have to try.

Today was a good day because I saw that my sweet potato risotto recipe was on my favorite food site SeriousEat yesterday. I didn't even see it till today, and was so excited. I had to post another recipe, although the pictures aren't as nice. The funny thing is that picture was rejected by tastespotting.com and foodgawker.com but made it on a much bigger site!

The last thing that I made before I got really sick was avgolemono soup. I have seen different recipes for this soup online and in my soup books but never got around to making it. Then my husband got sick and I wanted to do something different than the traditional chicken noodle (which, unless I found gluten free soup noodles, I couldn't eat). I only got to eat a bowl full because of the lemon and my stomach, but it tasted really good.

Avgolemono Soup

7 cups of chicken broth
1 lb of chicken (I always use boneless, skinless breasts but legs or thighs would do also)
5 eggs
Juice for 4 lemons
1/2 cup of rice
Black pepper to taste

Put the chicken and broth into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Then turn to low and let simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or more until the chicken is cooked. Remove the chicken and skim off the surface scum. Ladle a 1 cup of the broth into a bowl on the side.

While cooking the chicken, cook the rice and put to the side.

Use a fork to pull the chicken and put back in the broth. Bring the broth back to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Then take the pot off of the burner.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs, lemon juice, and pepper. While whisking drizzle in the broth that you had put to the side while beating constantly. Then whisk the egg mixture into the pot of soup, beating constantly. Turn the heat back on to low and stir constantly for around 2 minutes until the soup thickens but do not let the mixture bubble. Add the rice, take off of heat, and it is done.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Spicy Quinoa Salad

I hate gastroparesis. If you have it, you know why. I have a relatively mild case, my stomach is completely paralyzed but somehow I do not have the severe symptoms and can eat whole foods. I am grateful for that. But every few months I get a flareup that is debilitating. Monday I had so much pain that I could barely stand up and have had to take the last two days off of work (which for me, a type A personality, brings a whole lot of guilt and stress). One of the worse things is I also cannot eat anything I like. Last May it wasn't too bad because I didn't feel like cooking, but right now I feel like cooking new things and instead can only make plain rice, eggs, and pasta. Maybe I can use a little soy sauce but that is it. I do have a lot of recipes that I haven't posted yet, so I am going to have to go through them and wish I could eat something with flavor.

I saw this recipe as a post on Seriouseats. I was in the middle of reading Barbara Kingsolver's local food book and The Omnivore's Dilemma so I felt a bit guilty buying tomatoes and cucumbers at the beginning of October from the grocery store, but I wanted something healthy and light. I really like Quinoa. It doesn't have a strong taste and it is a great substitute for couscous. I used to make a similar couscous salad (Moroccan Couscous Salad) from Epicurious but couscous has gluten. Oh well.

Spicy Quinoa Salad

1 cup of dry quinoa
2 medium cucumbers
2 cups of tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes)
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
3 Tbs of olive oil
1 small red onion, minced
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
1 tbs red wine vinegar
ground black pepper

Cook the quinoa according to directions on box. While cooking quinoa, mix the cucumber, tomato, olive oil and a pinch of salt together. In a separate bowl combine the onion, jalapeno, lime juice, and vinegar. Let sit while the quinoa is cooking. Combine the sauce and vegetables and toss. Then stir in the quinoa. Add more salt, oil, ground black pepper or lime juice to taste.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Long Beans with Peanuts and Korean Glazed Potatoes

It is so weird. I just noticed today (or finally thought about it) that my garden is still green and it is November... November! Usually everything is cut down, packed up, and I am starting to winterize my windows by now. However, I feel bad cutting down all my green plants. My parent's gardens were dead and I cut and bagged 350 lbs of plant material on Saturday but I don't know if I can do the same to mine. My Black Eyed Susans are at full bloom. I just don't want to wait until too late and do it in the freezing cold...

I did, however, cut my herbs this weekend. Again, fresh herbs in November is nuts. In the city we haven't even gotten a frost yet. I had tons and tons of chives along with thai basil and some oregano left at the end of this season. I worked late last night washing them then combining the chives and then the thai basil with olive oil in the food processor and made herb ice cubes. Then I made more oregano pesto that my brother, who likes very very few foods, really likes.

Earlier on in the day, I decided to cook Asian. I love this Asian market, that is around 20 miles away, because it had fun vegetables that I cant find any where else. Case in point, long beans. I really don't like green beans, but I love long beans. Does that make any sense? I don't know what the difference in the taste is. For me I feel like the long beans are dryer. I also found some more Korean corn syrup, which unlike all the clear corn syrups I find in the regular grocery store, does not contain vanilla flavoring. So, I decided to make these awesome potatoes that I experimented with on a picnic during the summer. Enjoy!

Spicy Stir Fried Long Beans With Peanuts
(Pa-O Long Beans)

  • 1 1/2 lb long beans
  • 1/2 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 to 3 small fresh Thai chiles or 1 Tbs chili paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbs oil
  • 1 Tbs chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup of green onions, chopped
  • 2 tsp lime juice

  • Cook the beans, untrimmed, in a pot of boiled salted water. Stir and remove when tender, around 4 minutes. Put in bowl of ice water to stop cooking then drain and pat dry. Trim the ends and cut into 3/4 inch pieces.

  • Use your food processor to grind 1/2 of the peanuts into small pieces, leaving the rest to be large.

  • Mix soy sauce, chiles or chili paste and salt together in small bowl.

  • If you have a wok (I don't, my kitchen can't fit anything more) make sure it is on high heat. Same thing for large pan. Oil the pan and add garlic until it turns pale golden. Then add the peanuts and stir fry until they are golden. Add the beans and stir fry until hot, around 2 minutes. Take off of the burner and combine in soy sauce and green onions. Add in lime juice and salt to taste.

  • Korean Glazed Potatoes (GamJa JoRim)

    2 cups of potatoes (I use small golden ones) diced in 1/2 inch cubes
    1/2 cup water
    2 Tbs oil
    2 1/2 Tbs soy sauce
    2 Tbs clear corn syrup
    1 1/2 Tbs sugar
    2 Tbs minced garlic
    1 tsp of toasted sesame seeds

    In pan on medium heat add in the oil and let heat. Then add in the potatoes. Fry the potatoes for until they are half cooked. Then add the water, soy sauce, sugar, corn syrup, and garlic. Cook for 5 more minutes on medium heat. Add salt to taste and continue to cook until the liquid is a paste (be careful, it can turn into paste quickly without you noticing it)
    Reduce the temperature and fry until the potatoes are cooked. Add sesame seeds and serve!

    Friday, October 29, 2010


    Sugar Attack! I don't know what it is about October that makes me crave sugar. Last year I had a candy corn obsession and ate about a bag every 3 days... seriously, it was bad. This year I have stayed far away from the candy aisle, but other sweets have just been invading my life. How about the fresh cider doughnuts sitting at the apple orchard on my way home from Effingham or the brownies that are sitting on the counter at my school.... they make me want to eat gluten, and get sick.

    So, this week I have had two things to help me through my sugar craze days. The first are Sprinkles cupcakes. I have always wanted to try these, and they finally came to Chicago. They only have one gluten free flavor, red velvet, but they were soooooo good! The cupcake part was really moist, different from many store/restaurant gluten free baked goods. The cream cheese frosting? Well, I could have eating a gallon if it on its own.

    The second thing was meringues. These are so dangerous to make. I probably ate 4 or 5 when they were hot and then a bunch more when they were dry (and was up till 3 in the morning on a sugar high). My dad was feeling sick and I wanted to make something that both he and I could eat. In 1 day 30 of them were gone between the two of us!



    2 large egg whites
    1/4 tsp cream of tartar
    pinch of salt
    1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
    1 tsp almond, vanilla, or lemon extract
    (lemon extract makes yummy meringues but they are much less stiff during mixing and flat when you bake)

    Preheat oven at 200 degrees. In a large bowl, put in the egg whites, cream of tartar and a pinch of salt. With a hand mixer, beat on medium speed for a minute or two until soft peaks form. Then gradually add the sugar, continuing to beat on high speed until the mixture is stiff and glossy.

    Put parchment paper on baking sheets and drop the meringues by large teaspoonfuls onto the sheet. Depending on how large you make the cookies, you should have around 3 dozen. Bake in the oven for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave in the oven for another hour to dry.

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Sweet Potato Risotto

    Right now I am in Effingham, IL at a transition conference and got to go to the most awesome restaurant. It is called the Firefly Grill. This is the second day I've been here and thought that I was stuck with the restaurants surrounding the Walmart (along with the convention center which seems as if it is in the Walmart parking lot). But, thanks to Yelp, I found the restaurant just behind some trees across the street. It has been named the 2nd best eco-friendly restaurant in the country by Bon Appetit. I didn't know about its accolades, or the fact that it is local food, until I walked in with my local food book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. I felt like a bit of a dork reading about local food and then eating it (the menu says where each dish came from) but the bangers and mash were awesome (expensive, but really good). Unfortunately most of the things I wanted to try had gluten and I had to turn away the bread that looked delectable, but it was great.

    Another thing that is great.... is sweet potato risotto! I had extra sweet potatoes and I was thinking of what I could do with them, and then thought of the idea of sweet potato rissoto. You would think there would be more recipes out there, but the best one I could find was from Betty Crocker. Now I usualy like stronger seasoned dishes, and not the kind that are usually in the Betty Crocker cookbook, but this dish was sooooooo good. The rosemary really stood out with the sweet potato and I am definitely making this for my Aunt's thanksgiving (with water instead of chicken broth) so that my mom can enjoy vegetarian fare and still feel festive.

    Sweet Potato Risotto


    1/4 cup of white wine
    1 Tbsp of olive oil
    1 medium onion
    3 cloves of garlic
    1 cup of uncooked Arborio rice
    3 small mashed roasted sweet potatoes (around 1/2 cup)
    4 cups or more of chicken broth
    Parmesan cheese to taste
    1/2 tsp of chopped fresh rosemary leaves
    1/4 tsp of ground nutmeg
    Salt to taste

    Roast your sweet potatoes. I put them in the oven at 450 degrees for around 35 to 45 minutes until they are soft. Take them out and mash them.

    Heat olive oil in saucepan and cook onion and garlic 3 to 4 minutes until tender. Stir in rice and stir constantly for 1 minute. Add in white wine and stir until soaked in. Stir in mashed sweet potatoes and 1/2 cup of the broth. (I know that people usually heat the broth on the side, and most of the time I do too, but it worked without using the extra pans so it is up to you). Cook and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding in broth 1/2 cup at a time, when the rice has soaked in the previous additions, and stop when the rice is just tender. Add in the cheese, rosemary, nutmeg and salt and enjoy!