Thursday, October 13, 2016

Zucchini & Portabello Mushroom Stir Fry

Holy cow! This was such a great dish - my husband asked me when I was going to make it again, even though I just made it two days ago.
This takes a slightly Asian twist on zucchini and is so easy and healthy.
Truly a 15 minute dish.

2 medium zucchinis
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 portabello mushroom, sliced, coarsely chopped
1-2 T. soy sauce
1-2 T. grated fresh ginger
2 t. sesame seeds

Using a grater, thinly slice zucchinis. 
Place in cast iron pan, with a small amount of water (so they don't initially stick). Add onions and mushroom pieces and cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until ingredients become tender and translucent.  

Add soy sauce, and grated ginger, and cook down to reduce the liquid. Add sesame seeds, salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.  

Tadka Dal with Potatoes (Split Red Lentils)

We've entered a new realm - the realm of whole food, plant based diet, with no refined sugars or flours, or oils.

So...these next recipes are recipes have been altered to fit into the no anything (see above) category. We've been very surprised to find workable recipes that we've actually liked. The following posts include some of our favorites.

I was at Winco last week checking out their bulk dry options and found some red lentils that I thought might be fun to try out.  They were awesome in this recipe!

Tadka Dal With Potatoes (Split Red Lentils)
1 onion - finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 T. grated fresh ginger
1 jalapeno pepper - sliced into rings (with or without seeds)
2 cups red lentils, rinsed
4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 T. grated fresh turmeric or 1.5 t. ground tumeric
1 t. salt
6 cups water

1 quart tomatoes
1 T. yellow mustard seeds
1 T. coriander seeds
1 T. sesame seeds
2 t. green cardamon pods
2 T. cumin
1 t. allspice

Pre-heat a pressure cooker using the brown setting.
Add a small amount of water, then cook the onions, garlic, ginger and jalapeno until softened, stirring occasionally.
Add the lentils, potatoes, turmeric and salt. Then add the water, stir and lock the lid into place.
Pressure cook on high for 7 minutes.
Release the pressure using the quick release method.

While the dal is cooking, in a cast iron skillet, heat the spices, stirring occasionally - all except for the cumin and allspice.
Once they've begun to brown and are moving around and popping a bit, add 1 quart of canned tomatoes. Use a potato masher or similar tool to break tomatoes down, and boil and stir this mixture, Add the cumin and allspice, and boil and stir until it reduces and most of the liquid cooks off.

Remove from heat.

Serve in bowls, on top of rice or with naan bread, (or a homemade Maseca corn tortilla), with the tomato mixture on top of the dal.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Sandee's Super Amazing Green Chocolate Smoothie

My friend Sandee in Florida sponsors healthy living challenges periodically, and she is a health guru.  She recently shared this recipe on a blog. I've tweaked it just a bit to better work with what my family normally has on hand.

A little backstory - I've been making smoothies for YEARS, and my kids hate it when I "nutritionalize" everything (their words not mine).  If you ever come to visit they will share their favorite story of when I tried to add arugula to a smoothie. Yes, the results were a disaster, and now we know... Anyways..

I didn't get a photo of this smoothie because they inhaled it - I present the empty glass as evidence. My husband even asked for seconds and took it with him to work, and asked me to make sure that I let Sandee know how much he loved it and thank her for the recipe. That never happens. EVER. My daughter finished all of hers - with no complaints. Needless to say - this one is a keeper.

Power Greens - kale, chard, and beet greens (can be found at Costco)
5 medjool dates (for natural sweetening), pitted
3 T. cocoa powder
1 T. chia seeds
1 T. flax seeds
1 T. hemp hearts
2 cups almond milk or coconut milk 
1 c. ice

Stuff blender full of greens. 
Add additional ingredients. 
Blend and serve.

Serves 4

There you go - super healthy greens, cocoa powder, and those awesome omega 3 super food seeds that are all the rave - and it tastes good! 

Easy Almond Milk

This is another super simple recipe:  
Basically, you need almonds, water, a blender and a few hours. Yep. That's it. 

I tried a new recipe this am which added a cinnamon stick, a date, and a pinch of salt to the overnight soak, and so I tried it out - a couple of ways. Results are as follows: 

Combine the following in a quart jar:
1 c. raw almonds (not roasted or dried)
Water - fill the remainder of the quart jar
1 medjool date
1 cinnamon stick
pinch kosher salt

Let soak overnight. 
Drain off water, and place almonds in blender - they should be swollen. 
Add 4 cups of water for every 1 cup of almonds to the blender. 

Blend until very smooth - strain through a sieve, and chill. Water down if thinner consistency is desired.  

I blended one batch without the date and cinnamon stick and another batch with the date and cinnamon stick. Personally, I found the one without, a little on the bitter side.and prefer the one with the date and cinnamon stick. 

This is a great milk for morning smoothies! 

Super Simple Chicken

Last night, grilled chicken was on the menu, but when I stepped outside to grill, I found that my grill was out of order.
I was in a hurry, and so I threw this recipe together - just winging it with ingredients I had on hand.

I was surprised when my oldest daughter, followed by my second exclaimed how good this was! They both immediately asked me to post it here for posterity's sake (theirs). My husband got home a little later and he too really loved it. He and one of my kids took leftovers of this meal for their lunches today.

My jaw is still on the ground because it was so simple. I served it with roasted potatoes, and chimichurri sauce. 
Here's the recipe - for posterity's sake.

6-8 skinless, frozen chicken breasts
1 c. water
1/2 yellow onion - sliced
4 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c. chopped red bell pepper
3 garlic cloves, chopped

Place chicken in cast iron pan over medium high heat.
Spread onions, mushrooms, peppers, and garlic over the top of the chicken.  Add 1/2-1 c. water, and cover with a lid (I use my pizza stone as a lid).
Cook for approximately 20 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink in the middle.
Check halfway through to make sure water hasn't boiled away. If it has, add more water.

Serve with roasted potatoes and chimichurri sauce - serve everything with chimichurri sauce :)

Friday, March 18, 2016

Fresh Corn Tortillas

Hello! It's been a while. I moved from beautiful, humid Florida, to the desert climate in south central Washington, and have been getting settled - it has taken some time. So, I'm back and ready to experiment cooking in a new climate. 
On to the tortillas!

What could be better than fresh hot tortillas? With perhaps a little salt, butter, and key lime juice? Ummm for me, not much! 
When I lived in Guatemala, the family I lived with asked me if I liked tortillas, and my response was, "sure, I guess" - I didn't dislike them.  For the next couple of weeks, at breakfast and dinner I'd find 10-15 hot corn tortillas, freshly made, wrapped in banana leaves at the table. Finally, we had a discussion, and only one or two tortillas appeared at each meal :) In Guatemala, fresh tortillas are part of every meal. Women cook and sell tortillas three times a day, usually over an open fire on a big lid to a metal barrel/drum called a comal. 
Since I'm not equipped to cook these outside, over an open fire, here's the easier version.   

My children teenagers just happen to LOVE these babies, so this morning I whipped out a batch. While these aren't made from fresh hominy, many Guatemalans also use this "just add water" mix that can be found at many grocery stores, or Walmart - and it's dirt cheap, as in $3-$4 for this bag which makes a whole mess of tortillas.

While there is a recipe on the maseca bag, really, it is trial and error to get the right consistency. Pour some mix into a bowl, and add water. Mix a little, then add more water until it starts to form a ball. If it is too wet, then add more mix, if too dry, add water, a little at a time. Ultimately, it will be quickly apparent when you've got the right consistency. The dough will be soft and pliable, but won't really stick to your hands. Furthermore when you use the quick and easy plastic wrap to roll them out, if it sticks to the plastic and doesn't come off easily, then it needs a little more of the dry mixture.

Here I'm just beginning to mix in the water. It usually takes more water than you imagine!

I mix mine by hand so that I can govern the consistency.
Once you've got the water added in and your dough is the right consistency, scoop out a small amount - about the size of a ping pong ball.  Roll in the palm of your hand, then gently flatten into a small but thick disk - about 2 inches across.  Smooth any rough edges. 
Lay a large piece of plastic wrap onto a flat surface (counter top), and place the dough on half of the plastic wrap. Lightly wrap the other side of the plastic wrap over the dough. Using a cutting board, or similar flat object, press down from the top and center, applying even pressure. 
It should look something like this
(yes, I'm still using my red Christmas and Valentine's Day plastic wrap!)

Note: For the record, you can also just use your hands and "tortillear" these tortillas - the fine art of slapping the dough back and forth between the hands while turning it, turning in the edges and flattening it. I however, have very hot palms, and my hands always dry out the dough too quickly, and my tortillas come out too thick or break. So..the plastic wrap is a surefire method for pretty looking tortillas which cook much more quickly than my thick little hand made hockey puck tortillas (called pistonas).  

Gently peel off the plastic wrap that was folded over the dough. Lift the tortilla up so that the raw dough is in one hand, and use the other hand to gently peel the plastic wrap from the other side. 
If the dough is too sticky and won't peel off, then scrape it off, add it back to the dough in the bowl and work in a little more dry mix. 

Place tortilla onto a hot pan or griddle - no grease or cooking spray needed. 
Because Maseca is a little bland, I grind fresh salt onto the bottom of my pan, and then grind a bit over the top of the tortilla as it begins to cook.

Now for the exciting part - and I really don't know why this is so exciting for me. 
Once the tortilla sears on one side, flip it over. 
As it cooks, tap it. 
Yes, you heard right. Use your fingers (or a spatula if you can't take the heat) and lighty press your fingers over the tortilla. You'll see certain spots that will begin to slightly inflate. This is a great sign! Once you are seeing inflation in various areas of the tortilla, flip it again, and after 15-20 seconds, lightly press in the inflating areas again. 
The inflation means that your tortilla is steaming inside which means it's gonna be a great tortilla! 
Some just don't inflate, but it's like you won the lottery when you consistently get inflated tortillas. It's difficult to see, but below are two nicely inflated tortillas.


After the tortilla has cooked on both sides, and has inflated, remove from the pan, and wrap in a dish towel or tortilla warmer to retain the heat. And repeat until all of the dough has been used. 
These tortillas can accompany any meal (really ANY meal). My favorite is to butter them while hot, and add a splash of key lime juice to them. They are also a great quick snack with re-fried beans, honey, peanut butter, filled with rice and beans or eggs, or just as a general meal accompaniment.   

Store in the refrigerator in plastic wrap. To quickly reheat, wrap in a paper towel, and place in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, or pop into the toaster for a minute. 
Buen provecho!