Monthly Archives: January 2013

Sauteed Cauliflower

Cauliflower comes in some interesting colors these days, and if you happen to come across any of these pretty strains, I highly recommend giving them a go. The purple strain is a little sweeter than the white and orange are. I haven’t tried the green yet, but will embrace the opportunity when it arises.

Ingredients:

1/2 head each: purple and orange cauliflower (or 1/4 head of each of the 4 different colors, or 1/3 head each of 3 of the colors, depending on what’s available)

Olive oil

Salt (optional)

2 fz (56.5 g) Hot water

 

 

Instructions:

Break up the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. Wash and pat dry.

Heat wide pan on med-high heat, drizzle a bit of olive oil into the pan. The amount will depend on your personal preference and the size of your pan. 2 good swirls around the pan is usually plenty for me, but I prefer a slight dryness, so you might want to use a little more.

Toss cauliflower in pan, making sure all the bits get a bit of oil.

Reduce heat to med-low setting. If the pan gets too hot, the color will fade to an un-tasty brownish tan, and it will taste bitter.

And salt to taste (I don’t use much, just a pinch).

Saute until cauliflower just starts to get soft.

Add hot water to pan. Cover tightly and remove from heat.

Let sit, covered, for 10 – 15 minutes before serving (this is the partial steam portion of the cooking process).

Enjoy as a side dish, or toss with seared tofu cubes for a vegan entree.

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Spiced Fruit Salad

When the weather is warm, I like to have a big batch fruit salad in the fridge so I can have a nice cold healthy snack in the heat of the day.

In the cold months, I love to serve this warm over coffee cake fresh out of the oven, but there are plenty of other ways to enjoy it as well. A few are listed after the recipe.

Ingredients:

6 large firm pears, peeled and quartered

6 large firm apples, peeled, quartered, and the quarters cut in half again

6 yellow peaches, pitted, peeled, and quartered

1 # (453.5 g) tart cherries, pitted, sliced in half

8 wz (227 g) granulated sugar (unwashed or raw is best, but white sugar is ok too)

2 wz (56.5 g) Spice Traders Pirate Chai loose tea in a linen or cheesecloth pouch (sachet)

1 large lidded pot deep enough to hold everything listed above, plus enough water to cover it all with an extra 2 inches (5 cm) to spare

8 wz seedless grapes  (doesn’t matter what type, just that they have no seeds – found out the hard way that grape seeds will make this bitter)

Instructions:

Gather your ingredients.

Use kitchen twine or cotton string to attach the tea pouch to the handle of your pot so that it hangs roughly halfway up from the bottom, or let it float free. Either way works fine, but tying it to the handle makes sure it doesn’t sink to the bottom and scorch.

Put everything but the grapes into the pot, put the lid on, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the peaches are fairly easy to poke with a fork, but not smooshy (this is called ‘fork-tender’).

Remove pot from heat and immediately strain liquid into a bowl, keeping fruit in the pot, and the tea pouch in the liquid. If you tied the pouch to the pot, this is the time to cut it free.

If you plan to eat it now, put the cooked fruit and fresh grapes into a storage container and cover with just enough of the liquid to keep it from drying out, let it cool, then store it in the fridge. It should last a week, but don’t quote me on that, as I usually make this during canning season, and what little goes in the fridge gets eaten quickly.

If you are a canner, fill each jar 3/4 of the way with cooked fruit, add grapes to your fill mark, then add the liquid to cover. Remove bubbles and top off as needed, and proceed as usual, depending on the process you use.

Notes:

The Pirate Chai can be found at http://www.spicetradersteas.com/store/home/42-pirate-chai.html and is the key to this recipe’s success.

Any remaining liquid can be frozen and used at a later date to poach fruit for tarts, pies, or candy-making. Oatmeal cooked in it tastes pretty darn good, too.

Properly canned fruit should last a year when correctly stored.

I promise to take and post pictures the next time I make this.

Some of the ways I’ve enjoyed this salad:

Straight out of the jar.

Strained onto a bed of lettuce, sprinkled with dried cranberries and toasted nuts, garnished with bite-size shortbread cookies.

“Dump Cake” Combine a large jar of fruit with a boxed cake mix and 2 wz (56 g) melted butter, then bake according to the directions on the box.

Strained, tossed with powdered (confectioners’) sugar, then baked in pie dough to make pocket pies.

Pureed and used  as a sauce over ice cream.

Mixed into muffin batter.

Cooked into waffles.

Poured over boneless skinless chicken breasts, then roasted. The chicken comes out so moist and tender!

Use your imagination – let your tastebuds run wild! Then, please, share your successes with us!

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Hoe Cakes

For the Celiac in your life, traditional Hoe Cakes are an easy ‘unbread’ to make. They can make a tasty alternative to pancakes when drizzled with honey or syrup. Or serve them plain with soup, chili, or sausage gravy for a change from crackers, bread, or biscuits.
  
Ingredients:
16 wz (453.5 g) Yellow Cornmeal (glutenfree, of course!)
1 pinch Salt
16 fz (473 mL) Boiling Water
2 wz (256.5 g) salad oil
Enough high heat cooking oil to fill the pan to frying depth (I prefer a 50/50 blend of peanut and sunflower oils, but you can use any mild-flavored cooking oil)
  
Instructions:
Gather your ingredients.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F (94 degrees C).
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat (or flame). Oil is ready when water droplets flicked over it ‘dance’ across the surface and evaporate.
Combine the first two ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Stir in the boiling water. Mix until well combined.
Cover and let rest for 3-5 minutes, or until cool enough to shape without burning your hands.
Coat your hands with salad oil. Shape cornmeal mixture into palm-sized patties and use a spatula to gently slide into hot oil.
Fry until golden brown on both sides, trying to flip them only once.
Drain over pan before placing on a warm plate or platter in the oven to keep warm until you are ready to serve them. 

VARIATIONS (This basic recipe can easily be modified to be sweet or savory, depending on your preference):

Add your favorite grated cheese to make ‘Cheesy Hoes’

Swap 1/4 of the boiling water with honey to make ‘Hot Sticky Hoes’

Add minced parsley or spinach, plus chopped Prosciutto to make ‘Green Hoes with Ham’

Add minced garlic to make ‘Stinky Hoes’

Use blue cornmeal flour instead of yellow for ‘Blue Suede Hoes’

As you can see, my family has fun with both the variations and the names we give them, but why bother to play with your food if it isn’t any fun?

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Honey Mint Tea

This recipe has gotten me through many late-night writing sessions without any harmful side effects.  I keep a pitcher in the fridge when I think I’ll need a boost.

Per 64 fz (1814g) Pitcher:

50 fz (1417.5 g) Room temperature water
14 fz (396.5 g) Hot honey
Stir 24 fz (680 g) of the water slowly into the hot honey.
Transfer the cooled honey mixture into a refrigerator-safe pitcher.
Mix in the rest of the water into the pitcher, then chill in the cooler until ready to use.To serve:
Fill a tall glass half-way with ice.
Add one torn mint-leaf.
Pour honey mixture over ice and mint.
Stir to infuse, and enjoy.Per single glass:
6 fz (170 g)  Room temperature water
2 fz (56.5 g)  Hot honey
Slowly stir all water into the honey, then pour over ice and mint.

This tastes good hot on a cold night, too:
Use 8 fz (227 g) hot water instead of 6 fz (170g) room temp water, and omit the ice.

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About This Blog

I am a house spouse with a Culinary degree. This mainly means that I can cook in more than one language, and am a lot nicer to my knives than I used to be.

It has also helped me learn how to feed my family well and healthy on my very tight budget, as I now know where I was wasting time, money and food without realizing it.

Whenever possible, pictures will be included. Some of them are a bit on the pink side, as it took me a year to figure out my camera. I’m definitely not going to win photographer of the year any time soon, so expect the odd fuzzy pink image of an otherwise delicious dish. Or three…

There are several categories set up to make finding what you are looking for a bit easier.

So far, they are:

Weekly Menus: This is the best way to stretch your dollars, and something most of us don’t think about. From the big Sunday Dinner with planned leftover parts, down to the Friday Chef-Mom’s Special combining fresh ingredients with the remaining leftovers, every dinner menu is planned for maximum flavor and nutrition while minimizing waste and those lost leftovers that seem to multiply in the back of the fridge.

Daily Menus: Another way to plan ahead, utilizing the already hot stove for dinner prep that can be done earlier in the day when you’re already in the kitchen making lunch or breakfast.

Tips and Tricks: Little things anyone can do to make their lives a little easier.

Techniques: Descriptions and pictures of some of the really cool stuff I learned at school.

Salads

Soups

Sides: What to serve with that beautiful entree.

Entrees: Main courses with and without meat.

Desserts: Not always sugary, but definitely a sweet finish to complement that healthy meal.

Bites: Hors d’oeuvres, snacks, and mini desserts can be found here.

Beverages: Inexpensive alternatives to Barista and Smoothie house fare, fun cocktails for those over and under the legal drinking age, summer beverages, winter warm-ups, and any other liquid refreshment that we have enjoyed over the years.

Parties: Menus and shopping plans to help ease your wallet while maximizing your ‘wow’ factor.

Gluten Free: For the celiacs out there.

Vegetablerian: Meatless munchies, not all of which will be completely devoid of animal products, such as butter. Vegan substitutions will be noted for those in need of them.

Grains: From amaranth to polenta to quinoa. Fun, tasty alternatives to the standard starchy carb heavy side dish.

Breads

Home Remedies: Recipes to feed your family for maximum health at the first signs of cold and flu sneason, plus other health-boosting recipes that have been useful in my family over the years.

All Recipes

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Cheesy Bread – Serves 10 to 12

QUANTITY US Standard Measure INGREDIENTS Metric Measure
1.00 Loaf Soft French Bread 1 Loaf
8.00 wz Mayonnaise (the cheaper the better) 227 g
2.00 fz Olive Oil 57 g
4.00 wz Grated Parmesan Cheese 113 g
1.00 wz Dried Italian Herbs 28.5 g
0.25 wz Ground White Pepper 7 g
8.00 wz Finely Shredded White Cheddar Cheese 227 g

Instructions:

Gather ingredients.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C)

Combine mayo, olive oil, parmesan cheese, herbs and pepper in a bowl until evenly mixed.

Slice bread in half lengthwise. Place cut side up on baking sheet.

Spread mayo mixture on the  cut side  of both halves of the bread.

Sprinkle cheddar cheese over mayo mixture.

Place in oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly, whichever comes first.

Remove from oven. Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing each half into 12 pieces.

Best served while still warm.

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