Sunday, December 29, 2013

Emerald Mustard

I am a condiment gal. I dip. I dollop. I drizzle. I slather them on. In fact, I sometimes organize my entire meal around the condiment, especially if it is as special as this one. We've been eating this on burgers, in salad dressings and with grilled cheese sandwiches.  I served it at my Christmas Open House with a baked ham and everyone loved it. (Well, those who were brave enough to eat something this color!)

Jalapenos. Cilantro. Ginger. Garlic. Dijon. Agave. Try this. You will love it. Look at that color. 

From Vegetarian Times magazine.  Find the recipe here. (I cut way back on the garlic and added more agave syrup.) 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Raspberry and Pear Pie

My local health food store is smack-dab- in the middle between where I live and where I work, which is super convenient.  I find myself there a few times a week – anything I can do to avoid driving to our Walmart or Meijer for just those few forgotten things on the grocery list. Besides, I prefer spending my money in local establishments.

At the checkout counter I always grab a copy of “Delicious Living,” the free magazine on display; you know the type – heavy on the advertisements and light on the substance. Lots of suggestions for vitamin supplements and homeopathic recommendations. For example, here is what they published as 10 ways to “Survive the Holiday Stress.”

1.       Eat hard-boiled eggs
2.       Employ Chinese medicine
3.       Moisturize with aromatherapy
4.       Root for fresh ginger
5.       Prioritize meditation
6.       Shield with vitamin D
7.       Energize with herbals
8.       Shun sugar
9.       Take magnesium at night
10.   Schedule restoration

 My method of dealing with holiday stress? Eat another portion of whatever is being served. Seriously.

The BEST thing about this magazine is the recipes and this pie is an example of an excellent one. It comes from page 30 of the December 2013 edition. (I reduced the sugar. Changes are reflected below.)

Here’s what you need:
Two pie crusts
2-3 pounds ripe pears –peeled and cut in ¾ inch pieces
2 T honey
2 T white grape juice (you might also use orange or apple juice)
Pinch of salt
2 C frozen raspberries
½ t vanilla
¼ C flour
5 T natural cane sugar – divided
1 egg, beaten
1 T milk

Here’s what you do:
Prepare the bottom crust by fitting it in a 9-inch pie plate. Fold the extra edges under and crimp them decoratively. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until golden. Note: check the crust from time to time to see if any of the soft edges have slumped over. If they do, just take a wooden spoon and reshape the crust, kinda sticking the semi-raw dough back on to the pie plate.

Meanwhile: combine the pears, honey, juice and salt in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat for no longer than 5 minutes. You do not want mushy fruit! Just soften it a bit. Transfer pears to a bowl to cool a bit. Add the raspberries, vanilla, flour, and 4 T sugar. Blend gently. Pour fruit into warm pie crust. Roll out top crust and carefully place over fruit. Decoratively crimp the edges being careful because the pie plate is now hot. Create an egg wash by whisking the egg and milk together. Brush this over the top crust and then sprinkle the remaining 1 T sugar over.

Continue baking for another 60 minutes – covering the edges with foil after 30 minutes have passed. Crust should be brown and filling should be bubbly.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Moros y Cristianos

There must be as many recipes for beans and rice on this planet as there are abuelitas. I can picture her now, heading home down a narrow, unpaved road in a small pueblo, a dog running nearby; carrying groceries in a reused plastic bag. Scolding children along her way, perhaps. Greeting neighbors.  

She has just come from church where she has lit candles and prayed. This women is the backbone of her community. She holds her family together – through strength, prayer, presence and yes, through food.

I have met this woman and I love her. She defines ‘salt of the earth’ and epitomizes what it means to serve one another. She is modest; she is frugal; she is wise.  

Beans and rice. The most humble of foods.

Beans and rice. Served at every Cuban table and throughout the Latin world.

Beans and rice.  A dish whose name bears centuries of history and tradition.

Here’s what you need: (This make enough to feed a huge crowd! Cut the recipe in half to fill a huge bowl like the one pictured above.)
1 ½ C dried black beans
¼ C olive oil
2 ½ C chopped green pepper (or red pepper)
2 ½ C chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 t cumin
1 t oregano
2 bay leaves
3 T white vinegar
2 T tomato paste
2 t salt
 1 t black pepper
4 ½ C vegetable or chicken stock (the best quality)
3 C long grain white rice

Here’s what you do:
Cover the dry beans with 4 cups of water in a 2 quart pan. Do not add salt at this point. Bring to a full boil and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and allow to sit for one hour.

After an hour, drain and rinse the beans. Cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until tender – about 40 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a large pot or Dutch oven sauté the peppers and onions in the olive oil until tender. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the spices, tomato paste, vinegar and beans. Stir gently and cook for a few minutes. Do not add salt at this point.

Rinse the rice thoroughly until the water runs clear. Add the rice to the pot. Pour the stock over the beans and rice. Stir, bring to a simmer, cover and cook gently for about 20 minutes – or until the rice is fully cooked.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh limes, cilantro, avocado, tortillas and love. 

(printable recipe)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mushroom Poppers

Notice the Michigan State plate. 

Recently my brother-in-law and son came over for the weekend to watch the Michigan vs Michigan State football game. If you know anything about the state of Michigan, then you know we love college football. Half of us walk around wearing green and white and the other half of us walk around wearing maize and blue. One of the “You Know You Are from Michigan” signs is if you have a drawer full of sports jerseys, hats, socks, jammies, sweaters, jackets, and undies because we also don our Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Lions garb. I have been known to wear my Detroit Tigers jersey to school on dress-down day. Apparently this is not done in other states?  Don’t judge us – it’s fun!

We are a house divided: hubby is a proud graduate of MSU and kid number three is a student there (Go Green!) -- while kid number one is a proud graduate of U of M and kid number two is working his way through U of M (Go Blue!)  I, on the other hand, am a proud Central Michigan University graduate (Fire Up Chips!) But in honesty, none of this makes much difference to us, because we are pretty mild sports fans – except for my husband who can get pretty caught up in a football game. And basketball too – but that’s another topic.

Leftovers for dinner the next day. 

So anyway, the big game was a few weeks ago and I decided to make some fancy finger foods. My famous stuffed potato skins, Gardein Chicken Nuggets (LOVE those things!), and these Mushroom Poppers. The recipe comes from Colleen Patrick Goudreau’s “The Vegan Table.” The recipe seemed pretty basic, but in reality the end result was way, way too salty for my palate. This was my first attempt at stuffed mushrooms, but I want to try again using much less bacon and adding some bread crumbs and more herbs. Rounding out the heavy cream cheese taste and cutting back on the salty bacon flavor. 

Give it a try and let me know….. or better yet, send me your favorite stuffed mushroom recipe. I could use it.

Here’s what you need:
15 – 20 white or brown mushrooms, stems removed and wiped clean
5 oz veggie bacon – about 12 strips- heated and minced
8 oz non dairy cream cheese – room temperature
3 garlic cloves – minced or grated
Fresh pepper

Here’s what you do:
Mix the bacon, cheese, garlic and chives together. Fill each mushroom cap with about a teaspoonful. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mega Roasted Veg Fest

Some of you might recall that I am the kitchen lady during Vacation Bible Study every summer. I make dinner for 120 people for four nights all in the sweltering heat of a humid Michigan July.  Coming up with menus can be tricky because the food choices must be pleasing to both children and adults. Plus I try to keep it somewhat healthy, so I always include lots of fruits and veggies.

 When the week is over, the kitchen crew kinda splits up the leftovers – each of us taking what we will use at home. Last year there were two huge heads of iceberg lettuce that I was trying to pass off to a kitchen helper. Her comment? “We would never eat that much lettuce. It would go bad before we even ate half of it.”  So I took both heads of lettuce home and I ate them.

I don’t know about you, but we never fail to meet the daily recommended amount of vegetables.

Roast a tray of veg and serve it over pasta. Throw in some edamame or other type of bean for protein.  Add a splash of olive oil or white wine. Pine nuts or walnuts are good too. Parmesan cheese makes everything better.