Friday, December 31, 2010

Spicy Tuna Chirashizushi

This was a quick lunch-time riff on my daughter's favorite kind of sushi roll.  Not so much a recipe as a reminder that sushi isn't difficult!

Chirashizushi means scattered sushi- vinegared rice topped with fillings!  Super simple.

I didn't have any spicy chile sauce mixed up, and planned on putting quite a bit of toppings on my daughter's bowl and didn't want it too spicy, so I went with a mix of mayo and sweet chile sauce, mixed into a can of tuna fish.

I keep extra zumeshi, the highly seasoned rice vinegar, in my cupboard so that made this even easier.  (If you follow the link, I recommend cutting the salt way back.)

For Ernie's lunch, I served up a bowl of white rice and mixed in a few teaspoons of zumeshi.  I topped this with the spicy tuna mix, a generous sprinkle of sesame seeds, and torn up nori (this time it was actually Korean-style roasted seaweed, which is oily and salted and very brittle.)  Is it authentic?  No, probably not.  But nutritionally a step above the white-rice-and-teriyaki she loves so much, it was an easy lunch and a good reminder to keep some staples on hand!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Parmesan Puff Twists

These puffy twists taste like the best Cheez-It you've ever had.

They were a huge hit at our Christmas Eve dinner, especially with the guys- I sent a triple batch with my husband to a "family guys watching a bowl game" evening tonight, and I don't expect to get many back!

Super simple to make- lay out a square of puff pastry, season with kosher salt and pepper, and sprinkle with grated parmesan. I like to lightly roll it with a pin, to get the cheese good and stuck so it doesn't fall off!

Cut the sheet in half length-wise, then into strips, with a pizza cutter. Thin strips (1/4 to 1/2 inch) bake up crispy like a cracker, thicker strips are more tender and flaky.

Pick up each piece with two hands and twist 2 or 3 times before laying on a cookie sheet- you'll want to lightly smash down the edges so it stays stuck on the sheet. I did batches on silicone mats, and batches without- both cooked fine, but the batches without the mats wanted to stick to the trays and needed a spatula to pop them off.

Bake at 350 10-15 minutes, until puffy and golden! You can let them get a bit toasty and golden for a nuttier flavor, or pull them out when they're pale and mild. Your call, but they taste an awful lot like the best Cheez-its you've ever had!

Parmesan Puff Twists

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (follow the directions on the package, I used Pepperidge Farms)
a large pinch of kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
2 or 3 Tbsp grated parmesan

Lay out the puff pastry on a cutting board, and seal any cracks by pinching together with your fingers. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with cheese. Lightly roll with a rolling pin to push the seasonings into the dough, and then cut in half length-wise, then cut into strips. Twist each strip before arranging on a cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 10-15 minutes. Serve hot or room temperature.

(Original recipe came from a forum thread on that I can't find any more! I've modified slightly- they said to use an egg wash instead of a rolling pin.)

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Pasta with Mozzarella in a Spicy Cream Sauce

December 2010 019


I made this up for dinner a few nights ago when my husband was going out of town. I wanted enough to feed us for the rest of the week, so I used two pounds of pasta, but this recipe could easily be cut in half. Once you’ve mixed your pasta and sauce, everything else is just to taste. A cross between a stove-top lasagna and a risotto, this is a hearty meal, perfect for cold winter nights!


Aunt LoLo’s Creamy, Spicy Pasta


2 pounds spaghetti (broken in half) or your favorite pasta

1 jar of sauce, plus 1-3 jars of water (depending on pasta)

2 cups salsa

6 oz. heavy cream

2 cups mozzarella cheese


In a dutch oven, combine dry pasta, spaghetti sauce and enough water to cover the noodles. Cook over medium heat, adding water as necessary and stirring often, until the noodles are soft. (Approximately 20 minutes). Stir in salsa and a few glugs of cream. Stir to combine and cook a few more minutes to combine flavors. The sauce should be creamy and coat the noodles with very little liquid left over. The noodles will absorb a lot of water – you are cooking them almost like a risotto.

December 2010 023

When the noodles taste nice, smooth them out and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Put them in the oven under a high broiler and cook just until the cheese is toasty, bubbly, and brown in a few spots.


Enjoy with a nice salad!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Nutritional Bars (Barritas Nutrivas)

These are very, very similar to the survival bars but they don't have as long of a shelf life because of the additional goodies included, and they are baked instead of steamed.  They turn out more like cookies, but are not too sweet and are very filling and yummy.  (I'm thinking these are the perfect post-baby food to have on hand: nutritious, filling, and one-handed!)

Nutritive Bars
3 cups oats
2 1/2 cups powdered milk
1 cup brown sugar (not packed)
3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp plain gelatin (2 packets)
2 Tbsp warm water
1/2 cup liquid milk, warmed

Mix all ingredients by hand in a bowl, one at a time, softly.

Add mix ins like raisins, nuts, chocolate chips, peanuts, almonds, etc.  (In class we had coconut, chocolate chips, raisins, and walnuts!)

Form into cookies, and place on a foil-lined pan.  Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.

If you want to store these as emergency food, let cool 12 hours and wrap individually in tin foil.  Store in a cardboard box for 6 months.  1 bar can sustain a person 3 days.

Survival Bars

According to hermana Taylor, these will last 5 years, and in a desperate situation 1 bar is enough to sustain a person for 3 days.  It wouldn't be fun, though, since these are tiny!  Dense little guys though, and super tasty- they really taste like milk and honey bars, but not too sweet.  These are very filling!

She used brown paper that she found in the paint section at the hardware store, a roll of thin-ish brown paper about 8 inches high, like what a painter would tape up to block paint from splattering on the floor.  It wasn't exactly what she wanted, though.  I imagine parchment paper would work- this paper was thin but crisp, and she cut it into 8 inch squares.  And certainly cheaper than parchment, I would imagine.

Survival Bars
3 cups oats
2 1/2 cups powdered milk
1 cup brown sugar (not packed)
3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp plain gelatin
2 Tbsp warm water
1/2 cup liquid milk, warmed

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, using your hands if necessary, gently adding one ingredient after another.

Scoop out about 2 Tbsp balls, and form into bars.  Roll each in a paper square, and fold the ends in.  When all the dough is formed and wrapped, place in a large pot on a steamer basket, with boiling water underneath, and tuck a plastic grocery sack over the top of them, and cover the pot with a lid.  Steam for 30 minutes.

After they have steamed, remove the bars from the pot and unwrap- they are finished if they easily come off the paper.  They will be quite dense.

Let cool for two days on a plate covered with a towel.

Wrap each bar in a new square of paper, and then in aluminum foil.  Mark each bar with the date, and store in a cardboard box (like a shoe box.)

These will last for 5 years, and one bar can sustain a person for 3 days.  (But I imagine your children will be MUCH HAPPIER if you had three bars a day for them!!)

Survival Atole

A very nourishing whole-grain drink, served hot.  It's delicious and comforting, and perfect for a cold day!

The recipe here would make enough to serve probably a hundred!  USE THIS AS A RATIO GUIDE.  Our teacher was using Tablespoons of ground, toasted grains to make enough for everyone in the class to have a taste.

Survival Atole
4 pounds wheat
2 pounds rice
2 pounds garbanzo
2 pounds millet (or more wheat if not available)
2 pounds peanuts
2 pounds lentils

Toast each seed or grain separately in a skillet, and grind separately into powder in a blender.

Combine desired amounts of ground grain/beans/etc. in a pot with water and a cinnamon stick.  Add milk or condensed milk or powdered milk, and heat.

(I'm sorry this recipe is vague- I think it's just to taste.)

Meatball Soup (Albondigas de Trigo)

Spicy broth, and enormous meatballs.  This is a complex soup, and delicious.

Blend chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (available canned in the hispanic section of the grocery store) with 5 or 6 medium tomatoes, and some garlic.  Pour into pot with about 8 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Add salt to taste.

Mix 2 cups cooked wheat berries with:
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup oats
a little salt
a little cumin

Form meatballs around 1/4 pieces of hardboiled eggs, and drop into simmering soup.

Let cook until  meatballs are fully cooked.

Breaded Fried Steak (Milanesa de Trigo)

The recipe calls for 1 pound of ground beef, but I've sampled these prepared with just a handful of meat and with no meat at all- you just can't go wrong, either way.  Anything breaded and fried, with this many savory elements going on, is going to be amazing.  The entire class was kind of going nuts over these, they are amazing.

1 pound ground beef
2 cups cooked wheat berries
diced onion
diced parsley (about half a plateful)
salt and pepper
4 eggs
bread crumbs

Blend wheat with eggs, incorporate remaining ingredients in a bowl, and make into small balls.  Roll in the breadcrumbs, flatten very thin (1/4 inch), and fry in a skillet with oil.

These are good on their own, with pico de gallo or salsa, or wrapped up in a corn tortilla.

Wheat Hamburgers (Hamburguesa de Trigo)

These patties are completely meatless, and completely delicious.  I wouldn't say this tastes like a hamburger, but it IS amazingly yummy- you'd be hard pressed to find someone who would turn down one of these sandwiches down.

Wheat Hamburgers
2 cups cooked wheatberries
1 cup chopped mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 spoon mustard
2 eggs

Blend wheat and eggs.  Add remaining ingredients.  Form into hamburger patties and cook in a skillet.

Serve on buns with lettuce, tomato, and american cheese.

Pico de Gallo with Wheat (Pico de Gallo con Trigo)

The cooked wheat berries add a nice heft to this salad/topping.  And...because this class was taught to latinas, the point was more that you could add wheat, because everyone already knew how to make a basic pico de gallo, so no amounts are given in our handout!

Pico de Gallo
Serrano chile peppers
Cooked wheat berries
Lime Juice

Combine first five ingredients, then add the cooked wheat berries and add salt and lime juice to taste.

(To prepare wheat berries, soak overnight and let drain 24 hours.  Cook in boiling water 15 minutes.)

Oat Horchata (Agua de Avena)

A delicious oat and milk drink, flavored with cinnamon.  Be sure and serve over lots of ice, this is really refreshing!

Oat Horchata
2 cups oats, soaked
Half Gallon milk
sugar to taste

Blend soaked oats, with soaking water and a stick of cinnamon or about a teaspoon of ground cinnamon.  Combine with milk, sugar, and ice, and serve.  This makes a lot of horchata.

Wheat Jam (Marmalada de Trigo)

I learned this recipe at a cooking class held by the Relief Society in my Spanish Branch.  It doesn't taste like oranges, and it doesn't taste like wheat.  It kind of tastes like cinnamon apple sauce....impossible to describe, but  exceptionally delicious!

Wheat Jam
1 cup cooked wheat berries
1 cup sugar
Juice from 2 oranges (a glass full)
1 stick of cinnamon

In the blender, mix the wheat with the orange juice.  (It should still be fairly lumpy.)  Add cinnamon and sugar to taste, and blend.  Cook in sauce pan on stove over low heat until thick.

(To prepare wheat: Soak overnight, and let drain 24 hours.  Cook for 15 minutes in boiling water.)  

Friday, November 12, 2010

Low-Lactose Mushroom and Chicken White Sauce

The big girl requested macaroni and cheese for lunch today, which I agreed to on the condition that whatever I made, she ate! I didn't have to worry, because she LOVED this. (Who doesn't love white sauce?)

I made this low lactose, because my lactose-intolerant daughter currently has some wiggle room in her "I can handle that" lactose bucket. I included cream for a bit of richness, but you could easily take out the cream entirely, and replace the butter with something like bacon drippings, to make this completely lactose free. Soy milk has the same amount of fat as whole milk, so you'd still have a silky sauce I think. The soymilk I make for my daughter and use in my cooking is lightly sweetened and flavored, about 2 tablespoons of sugar for 2 quarts of milk, plus 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla. Unsweetened and unflavored is preferable, but harder to find as most plain soy milk isn't actually plain. I figured that the extra sugar would make this taste more like my kids' favorite packaged noodles, and I was right.  The mushrooms and extra browning steps, plus chicken base, added enough depth of flavor that she never noticed I didn't actually put cheese in.  Thus proving that macaroni and cheese from a box doesn't actually taste like cheese.  (I did let them sprinkle parmesan on top, though.)

Low-Lactose Mushroom and Chicken White Sauce

2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
soy milk, about 1 1/2 cups
cream, about 1/4 cup
1/2 teaspoon chicken stock base
1 can button mushrooms, undrained
pepper to taste

1/2 pound dry pasta, cooked
1 cup reserved pasta cooking water

Make a simple white sauce by melting the butter over medium heat in a saucepan. If you want a little extra flavor, let it cook just a bit longer to get some color. Whisk in the flour, and again if you'd like some extra flavor let this roux get some color. Start slowly adding soy milk, stirring to completely break up clumps of the roux, and gradually add all of the soy milk, plus a splash of cream. Add the mushrooms with their canning water (again, for a bit of extra flavor), and let the sauce simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Pepper to taste.

Stir into hot cooked pasta over low heat or just residual heat if the burner is still hot, and add 1/4 cup of pasta water at a time and let cook briefly until thickened and the noodles are coated with sauce. (I like to place my colander in my serving bowl to drain the noodles- the bowl catches the pasta water I need when I sauce the noodles, and the hot pasta water heats my serving bowl. Just dump out the water when your noodles are ready, and fill!)
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Monday, November 1, 2010

Pasta all Norma (Pasta with Red Sauce and Sautéed Eggplant)

pan friend eggplant

I found a new recipe to use up an eggplant in the crisper drawer.  Ernie helped me pick out the recipe, and was totally excited about it all day, and refused to take more than one bite.  Oh well, Daddy and I thought it was delicious!

The recipe is from here so I won't copy paste it, but basically you warm up your favorite red sauce, add an entire sauteed onion, and an egg plant that's been cubed, salted, left to drain, tossed with a bit of flour, and sauteed in garlic-infused olive oil until it's brown on the inside and melty soft on the inside.  Mix the whole sauce concoction with a bit of cheese, and stir it into a pound of pasta.

I loved the eggplant, I was eating it like popcorn!  Since I'd never cooked eggplant before, I wasn't sure what to watch for, but next time I will definitely let it get totally soft when I cook it, instead of leaving a little bite to it.  I'm looking forward to many more eggplant while they're in season, without any of this pasta razzmatazz!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Spaghetti Squash and Veggie Bake

I threw together a casserole-ish meal today before church, so all we had to do to get ready for our weekly Family Meal was throw it in the oven when we got home and wait for guests to bring the breads and dessert!  Quite the life, I tell you.  Plus, after dinner there was only one pan to wash.  (Well, two, because I made a pot of pasta as well.)  This looked alarmingly soupy when it came out of the oven, so much so that I made pasta so I could pretend that the entree was ACTUALLY a really big baked pan of sauce.  It solidified again after 5 or 10 minutes, making the pasta irrelevant for everyone except the kids, and everyone really enjoyed it.  Definitely a make-again!

As always, amounts are up to you, but I'm going to list what I did.  I had an "empty the fridge"type of vibe going on, so play around!  I had a large (Costco-sized) open bottle of sauce to use up too- if you'd rather make your own, that's great!  Diced tomatoes or canned tomatoes would be a really great substitute too, and not so soupy.  Just add them at the end of the saute process to the other vegetables, and skip everything that refers to the sauce.

1 spaghetti squash

1 large jar spaghetti sauce
white vinegar (optional)

1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic,chopped
1 ear of corn, cut off the cob
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced carrot rounds
a pinch of red pepper flakes
ground black pepper

4 cups grated mozzarella cheese

To prepare the spaghetti squash, cut in half and scoop out seeds. Rub the flesh with olive oil and place cut-side-down on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for 30-60 minutes until a sharp knife easily pierces the skin and flesh.  Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Heat spaghetti sauce (if using) over low heat.  Add white vinegar a tablespoon at a time if sauce is too sweet for your liking, until it tastes the way you want it to.

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet, and saute the onion and carrots until softened, then add the remaining ingredients and finish sauteeing.

In a large casserole pan (I used a dutch oven) spread a bit of sauce, half the spaghetti squash (scrape out of shell with a fork), and half the veggie mixture.  Top generously with shredded mozzarella, then repeat the four layers.  You can refrigerate this until you're ready to cook, which I recommend doing as it helps the flavors meld together.

Bake covered at 350 until hot and bubbly, then remove lid and let it brown a bit.  I let mine bake about an hour, straight from the fridge, and left it uncovered for an additional 20 minutes or so.  But mine was so saucy, there was no danger of it over-browning.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Make Your Own Drinkable Yogurt

Have you seen the drinkable yogurts at the store?  Perhaps in technicolored packaging, meant for kids?  Super simple to make!  They're only thinned-down yogurt, after all.  I hesitated to post this- it's so basic, but such a quick and easy and NUTRITIOUS snack.  (Probiotics, low fat, good's nutritious, right?)

I like to plop some yogurt into one of those plastic tupperware shakers- you know, the kind with a big ol' star insert and a flip top lid?  Pour in milk, and then whatever flavors look good that day.  Today it was honey and a bit of thin jam, I just used the liquid-ish portion of my favorite plum jam and left the fruit chunks behind for another day's sandwich. I make my own yogurt, and it's pretty tart, so that's why the double dose of sweet.  Plus, I'm pregnant.  I just really like sweets, OK?

This makes an easy and quick breakfast, or an afternoon snack.  A spoon and a big cup would probably work just as well, but you'd have to work a little harder to get the lumps out, and I don't like to work that hard!

I actually prefer my yogurt this way, it gets rid of any texture issues left over from my childhood.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pineapple-Sage and Green Onion Cheese Ball

Is there anyone that doesn’t love a good cheese ball? In my family, every New Years Eve found us with a counter full of chips, chocolates, Christmas cookies, pretzels, dips…and a cheese ball. Always a cheese ball. They were those yellow ones, covered in slivered almonds.


Those are tasty, of course, and will always hold a special place in my heart, but now that I have made my own a few times…I don’t think there’s any going back.


I started out in the garden, where I have a rather robust Pineapple Sage plant. I had never heard of Pineapple Sage before this year, but it’s exactly what it sounds like. A sage plant with emerald leaves…that taste like pineapple.


After that, I took a few hints from a recipe I found in a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Some cream cheese, some butter, handfuls of a shredded cheddar and Monterey mix, plus some green onions from my windowsill.


I wrapped the whole thing in plastic wrap and left it in a round bowl overnight to cure in the refrigerator.


In the morning, it got a good roll around in chopped toasted pecans and more chopped pineapple sage.


It was quite a hit!


Aunt LoLo’s Pineapple Sage and Green Onion Cheese Ball

Makes one large cheese ball, appropriate for a large party. Recipe can be adapted to your tastes, and the size of your group.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine:


16 oz. cream cheese, softened

4 oz. butter, softened

2 c. mixed shredded cheese

2 T. milk

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. cracked pepper

1/4 cup snipped green onions

1/4 cup chopped pineapple-sage


Mix with the paddle attachment until the ingredients are well combined.  Line a bowl with plastic wrap, letting it hang over the edges of the bowl, and press your cheese mixture in. Wrap your overhanging wrap over the cheese and press. Leave the cheese ball in the refrigerator overnight to cure.


On the day of the party, unmold your cheese ball and cover with:


Toasted, chopped pecans and extra pineapple sage


Serve with crackers.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Cold Marinated Artichoke Heart Dip


I made up this recipe for a baby shower recently. I wanted the flavor of marinated artichoke hearts, but didn’t have a way to conveniently fuss with a hot dip. All of the recipes I could find were for hot dip and, although it is one of my favorite things in the world, I just didn’t have a way to do it for this party.


Enter…the food processor. Enjoy!

Aunt LoLo’s Cold Marinated Artichoke Heart Dip

In the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a blade, combine:

2 cups mayonnaise

16 marinated artichoke heart quarters


Pulse or blend until the artichokes are finely chopped and the mixture looks dip-able. Season with salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste.


Remove the dip to a bowl with a lid (preferably a non-plastic one, so it doesn’t leave its scent behind) and refrigerate overnight for best flavor.


Best served ice cold. (It just tastes better. Go figure!)


Tastes great with veggies or crackers.

Best Sugar Cookies INTHEWORLD!

These are the best sugar cookies in the world, with a big bowl of cream cheese frosting. IMG_7425

The kidlets like them with sprinkles.


Or you can take the more classical approach.



These cookies are soft. They melt in your mouth. They’re delicious. I’m embarrassed to say it, but they taste just like the Lofthouse cookies that you can find in nearly any Pacific Northwest grocery store bakery. (Except, of course, that they aren’t full of preservatives and can’t be kept at room temperature for up to three weeks before they start to suffer.) That, to me, is the highest compliment I can give a sugar cookie. I adore Lofthouse cookies.

When I was in high school, one of my youth leaders at church made incredible cookies. They were so good, in fact, they could even lure my usually shy mother away from her home, and caring for my three younger siblings, and into various church functions.


As one particular function was approaching (Young Women in Excellence), this youth leader and I were given charge of organizing an edible favor for the other young women, and their parents. Since Karen, the leader, made such delicious cookies, my mother suggested (begged?) that I suggest those as favors. And that I ought to help with the prep. And take notes.


With Karen’s permission, I did take notes. Our baking day still stands out vividly in my mind. It was during our Christmas break, and we had quite a snowstorm. At 11 am, there was still a foot of snow on the ground, and a good six inches of slush in the roads. (If you know Seattle, you know that is odd.)  I carefully picked my way through the slippery slush, walking the four blocks to Karen’s house. I can still remember how impressed I was with her efficient kitchen. She had a pantry in the hall, just outside of the kitchen, with pre-cut sheets of parchment paper. It blew my mind, at the time, seeing a kitchen that was so specialized for one branch of the culinary arts. In fact, it might have been her that first gave me the notion that every kitchen should have  a cookie jar, and every week should find the cookie jar replenished.


I recently threw a baby shower for a friend at church, and made the cookies for the first time in nearly 15 years. I had never attempted to make them myself. Even though I had the recipe, I never found a reason to use it. These are not cookie-jar cookies, and most parties around here call for cupcakes, not decorated cookies.


My first attempt (a double batch) was tasty, but my technique was off. Obviously, my note-taking skills were a little off. I didn’t watch the order of the ingredients, or the mixing going on between adding ingredients to the bowl!


I tried again, another double batch, and made nearly perfect cookies. (The original cookies included almond flavoring, instead of vanilla. If I can get my hands on some good quality almond flavor, then I’ll be in business!)


One more note – most sugar cookie doughs are refrigerated before they can be rolled or cut. This dough does not need to be refrigerated. This is a major plus, since these cookies can go from cupboard to oven in about 15 minutes. They can be frosted as soon as the cookies are cool.

Best Sugar Cookies in the World

Adapted from Karen Palmer’s recipe

If rolled out 1/4” thick, this makes 14 large cookies. The recipe can be doubled, or tripled.



3/4 cup Crisco

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla or almond flavoring

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 1/2 cups flour, divided


Preheat the oven to 400 and prep two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.


Cream together:

3/4 cup Crisco

1 cup white sugar


With the mixer on medium low, add:

2 eggs, one at a time

1 tsp. vanilla or almond flavoring

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt


When everything is uniformly mixed in, add :

two cups of flour 

Mix just until flour is incorporated evenly.


Place a cup with 1/2 cup flour in it next to your workspace, and then sprinkle your workspace liberally. Turn out the dough and carefully roll it out. You want it thick, 1/4-1/2 inch.  Cut out your cookies and carefully remove to a prepared baking sheet. (I used a flat metal spatula for this, and cut out my cookies with a 3” biscuit cutter.)


Bake for 8-9 minutes, but check them often through the glass after 6. As soon as the bottom edges begin to turn golden, you want to take the cookies out of the oven.


While the cookies are baking, gently re-form and re-roll the remaining dough. Make sure you sprinkle your workspace with flour again. Cut out cookies and repeat above process. On your second cookie sheet. (It is important that you use at least two cookie sheets, since the sheets need to be COOL when the cookies are placed on them.)


(The original recipe indicates that dough should ONLY be rolled out twice. I rolled mine out three or four times. The third time was OK. The fourth time, and the cookie I made from patting together the resulting scraps, were perfect warm out of the oven. They didn’t make it further than that, but I imagine they’d be a bit tougher.)


Allow to cool on the baking sheet for one minute, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.


Icing: (makes enough to ice 4 dozen cookies)

In an electric mixer, combine:

6 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup corn syrup

3 T. butter, softened

1/2 cup water

1 tsp. vanilla


Beat until smooth, and add dye as desired.


This makes a thick icing, suitable for spreading with a spatula but perhaps not still enough for intricate piping. It stays quite soft, and so is not really appropriate for individually wrapped cookies, and the cookies should NOT be stacked without waxed paper between them.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Creamed Tuna with Peas


When I was a little girl, I adored something called Tuna Wiggle. (I think it could also be called Tuna Noodle Casserole, but I had my trusty little Klutz cookbook, and they called it Tuna Wiggle. So…Tuna Wiggle it is.)


Tuna Wiggle was one of the first things I learned to cook. It usually came in the form of Creamed Tuna on Toast. This was even easier to make, and the recipe went something like this: In a medium saucepan, combine one can cream of mushroom soup, one drained can of tuna, one 1 lb. bag of frozen peas. Add a little milk if it’s too thick. Serve it on toast, and eat with a knife and fork.


As tasty as that was, when I was craving something creamy and warm and tuna-ish the other day, I knew I could do better. (Besides, I had not one can of cream of anything in the pantry.)


And I think I’ve done it. It starts with a basic white sauce, using the recipe that my father taught me. He, in turn, learned it from his grandmother. Add to that a can of your favorite tuna, as many frozen peas as you like, and a few generous handfuls of cheese, and you have a delicious and grown-up version of a childhood favorite!


We served this over rice because I’d been craving some creamy, cheesy casserole-type rice, but it would be equally delicious over noodles, toast or quinoa!


(Ok, so nothing’s different from the original recipe except that I used a homemade cheese sauce instead of the canned cream of mushroom soup. Still, it’s something that I don’t keep in the pantry anymore. If you do…well, then, follow the recipe above.)


Creamed Tuna with Peas


2 T. butter

4 T.  flour

2 cup milk

2 cups grated cheese

1 pound frozen peas

1 can tuna, drained

salt and pepper, to taste


In a skillet, melt your butter. When it is good and melted, add your flour and stir it up. Cook this for 2-3 minutes to make sure your finished product doesn’t have a Raw Flour Taste. (Not good, my friends!) Pull out your milk jug and add milk, a little at a time, whisking as you go to make sure you don’t get any lumps. Continue to stir in milk, whisking like mad, until you get the consistency that you want. (2 cups is really an approximation. I usually just pull out the jug, and keep adding milk until it looks right.) As the sauce continues to cook, it will thicken, so this whole process will take a few minutes.


Once your sauce is to the consistency that you like, it’s time to add your peas and tuna. When the peas are cooked through, then it is time to add the cheese. Make sure it doesn’t boil after this point, because the sauce will revolt and leave you with…something not great. (I’m not sure what will happen. This fact was so drilled into me as a child, I’ve never let it boil! I think the cheese will cook and fall apart, leaving chunky, oily sauce.) Season with salt and pepper, and you’re golden!

Serve over rice, noodles, quinoa, boiled wheat or anything else that would benefit from a creamy, lovely sauce!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Made a quick tomato sauce for dinner tonight from our blemished tomatoes- it was done by the time the pasta was pulled out of the pot, and killed a big pile of ugly roma and early girl tomaters. PLUS, it was delicious, if a bit runny. My dried spices are getting a bit low- I would have added basil if it were available, but neither cupboard nor garden is abundant in basil right now!

The amounts are approximate.

2 pounds slicing tomatoes (10-15 small tomatoes)
2 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano

Heat oil in a skillet, and add minced garlic. Cook until fragrant, and add chopped tomatoes. Add remaining ingredients, cover, and let simmer. Taste for seasoning. Smash a bit if you like.
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Monday, September 13, 2010

A Birthday Carrot Cake!


I have been drawn to the kitchen nearly all my life. When I was 5, my mother (bed-ridden with a pregnancy) would send me downstairs to make her a sandwich for lunch. When I was 9, my father took my twin sister and I into the kitchen and taught us how to read a recipe.


There were several years following this momentous occasion where….Interesting Dinners resulted from our novice attempts at cooking. One particular meatloaf stands out in my mind. The recipe called for breadcrumbs, and dehydrated onions. The recipe helpfully suggested that if you did not have any breadcrumbs, you could toast bread and break it up. Having never seen breadcrumbs, per-say, I took the second option. And broke it up into one inch chunks. Then, tackling the onion problem…I looked through the spice cupboard, checking every ingredient label as I went. Finally, I found something that had onions in it – Onion Powder! So I put in three tablespoons of that.


The resulting meatloaf looked like brain (from the bread “crumbs”) and tasted like pure onion. It took me a long time to live down that onion loaf….


The other thing I could not get right was cake. I tried one, from the same cookbook, and it came out looking (and feeling) like a golden, buttery brick.


My father told me to chalk it up to experience…and that I had just re-invented the Pound Cake.


Needless to say, with the many other options available to me in the kitchen, it has taken me a long time to return to cake making. If I can get perfect results with Betty Crocker and an egg….who am I to mess with perfection!


My friends, it has taken me over 15 years…but I have finally found a few cakes that I can (successfully!) turn out for parties, celebrations and the like. The first is Pioneer Woman’s Chocolate Sheet Cake, with a few modifications. (I like to throw in a few dashes of Saigon Cinnamon now, to kick it up a bit. Mmm.)


The other cake I can successfully turn out?


Dorie Greenspan’s Carrot Cake. I first used it to cater a wedding luncheon this summer, and have since used it to celebrate two birthdays. It’s a hit. Nothing very unique about it…except that it turns out exactly how a carrot cake should be – not too sweet, not too spicy, and never dry. Just…perfect. 


Bill’s Big Carrot Cake

(adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan)


2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. ground cinnamon (I use Saigon cinnamon. It tastes like red-hots.)

3/4 tsp. salt

3 cups grated carrots (approximately 9 carrots) (a food processor makes this really quick!)

1/2 cup moist raisins, or dried cranberries (both are good!)

2 cups sugar

1 cup oil

4 large eggs

(The original recipe also includes nuts and coconut, but we don’t like nuts in cakes, and I never have coconut on hand. So…there ya go.)


Preheat your oven to 325 and prepare your pans. I like to use 2 9” pans, or make cupcakes. (Depending on the size of your cupcakes, this can make anywhere from 12-24.) You can also use 3 9” pans for more frosting-space, but I only have two. Spray well with cooking spray, or smear with butter, and flour liberally. Set aside.


In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the carrots and raisins or cranberries.


Using a stand mixer, with your paddle attachment, beat together the sugar and the oil, on medium speed, until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, and keep on beating until the batter is even more smooth. Take the speed down to low and add in the flour mixture until just mixed. Carefully mix in the chunky stuff, and divide the batter into your prepared pans.


Bake for 40 minutes, or until the cake just begins to pull back from the edges of the pan and a toothpick stuck into the middle comes out batter-free.


Cool the cakes for 5 minutes on a cooling rack, then run a small flexible rubber scraper around the outside and turn the cakes out onto racks to cool.


(The cakes can be wrapped up once they’re cool and kept at room temperature overnight, or in the freezer for two months.)



(This is a pretty generic Cream Cheese frosting, and easy to dress up)


8 oz. cream cheese

1 stick (8 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 pound (3 3/4 cup) powdered sugar, sifted

Flavoring (1 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. pure extract, 1 tsp. vanilla, etc.)


Beat the cream cheese and butter together, in a stand mixer (with the paddle attachment) until creamy. Carefully add the powdered sugar and mix until it is smooth. Gradually add in your flavoring, adjusting to taste.


Now go forth and build the Carrot Cake of your dreams! This really does make excellent little cupcakes, or a rather elegant (and easy!) birthday cake.


(Another excellent quality of this cake is that, if you were to leave a few cupcakes un-frosted, you now have an excellent dairy-free dessert for any lactose intolerant nieces that might be lurking around your kitchen!)

Review: Mallard Ice Cream, Bellingham WA


(Two scoops of Lavender Chocolate ice cream)

Oh, my friends. I have a problem. A few weeks ago, we took a (very tasty) trip to Richmond, BC. On the way home, my devious Sister in Law and I snatched the GPS away from my husband (the driver) and programmed in a short pit-stop. In Bellingham, WA.


Now, there’s nothing in Bellingham, except for Western Washington University…and Mallard Ice Cream.


This wouldn’t be a problem, except that now that I’ve tasted the best ice cream in the world…I can’t possibly be expected to ever buy a carton of ice cream from the grocery store again!


In a stroke of genius, I sent in the (now thoroughly disgruntled) driver and his sister to pick out two bowls of ice cream for the four adults in the car to share. I volunteered to stay behind with the sleeping babies. (The remaining adult, my Father in Law, quickly abandoned ship when he realized he would be stuck in a warm car with just sleeping babies to look at.)


My husband, Lo Gung, came back changed. He was ranting and raving like a man possessed. Basil Raspberry! Vanilla and Black Pepper! Lavender and Coconut!


Mallard Ice Cream, supposedly, has over 500 flavors under its belt, but only 30 (or so) are for sale on any given day. They will happily give you a spoonful of this, or of that, for as long as it takes you to make up your mind…and even have a special scoop for “undecideds” – Half this, and half that!

We ended up with two bowls. One Lavender and Chocolate Chunk and the other Coconut Chocolate Chunk.


Both? Were out of this world amazing.


Which is why I can’t bring myself to buy ice cream anymore. *sigh*


If you ever find yourself on I-5, in Northern Washington State, make sure to stop by Mallard Ice Cream! You’ll be glad you did!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Easy Mac n’ Cheese, LoLo Style

Not to be confused with Myrnie’s recipe for Easy Macaroni and Cheese.

This? Is my go-to macaroni and cheese recipe. I love it because it uses one pot, one colander, mug, whisk and a wooden spoon. Also? The sauce isn’t thickened with flour. Flour’s fine, but I always get the proportions wrong, and it has to cook for a good five minutes before you know if you got it right or not. And then it’s hard to fix.

This recipe is thickened with cornstarch, or tapioca starch. Hello, instant gratification! (Oh, and the kidlets all love it.

IMG_7095 IMG_7100


Easy Mac n’ Cheese, LoLo Style


Salted water

1 pound pasta (macaroni, rigatoni, Seattle Space Needle…whatever)

Cornstarch, or tapioca flour


Grated Cheddar cheese.



Soup pot

Wooden spoon




Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook one pound of pasta.  While the pasta is cooking. put a colander and a mug in the sink. When it’s cooked just right, head over to the sink. First pour the water over the mug to fill it, and then drain the rest of the pasta into the colander. Let it just chill out in the sink for a second.


Swing by the cupboard and grab the cornstarch (or tapioca starch). Stop by the refrigerator and grab the milk and a bag of shredded cheddar cheese.

Now you’re back at the stove, whisk in hand. Make sure your milk, cheese, starch and that mug of water from the sink are handy. Pour in enough milk to cover the bottom of the pot by about 1/2”. Then put in two heaping spoonfuls of your cornstarch. Turn the heat to medium, and whisk it up. It will be a little gloppy at first, but keep whisking until it’s smooth. When it’s smooth, start throwing in handfuls of cheese. You might want to switch back to the wooden spoon at this point. It takes quite a bit of cheese to make a tasty pasta…four of five handfuls. If it gets too thick, thin it down with the pasta water, or a little more milk.

Finally, dump your pasta back into the pot and stir to coat. Kill the heat, and VOILA! Easy, sheeny, cheesy yummy macaroni and cheese.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Krab Toast

I had a few sticks of mock crab left over from a recent sushi night, and came up with these rich toasts. They were great with a bowl of tomato soup. I had 2 sticks of mock crab, and it made three small toasts- you can modify this however you wish. Of course, this crab salad is also great in a pasta salad, or as part of a sushi roll! For pasta salad you could add celery and whatever else looked good that day.

Krab Toast
2 sticks mock crab, finely minced
about 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
about 1 Tbsp finely minced onion

grated cheese

Stir together first three ingredients and spread on pieces of bread (or toast if you'd like these firmer when you finish), and top with grated cheese. We used mozzarella and a bit of parmesan. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly.
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Garden Fresh Tomato Soup

The original recipe for this can be found here. I mostly followed the recipe, but upped the onion, omitteed cloves, changed up the cooking method, and never bothered to measure my tomatoes.

Garden Fresh Tomato Soup
Based on a Recipe from

About 4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (I used a mixture of yellow plum and roma)
1/4 of a small yellow onion, sliced
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups chicken broth
salt to taste
sugar to taste (up to 2 tsp)

In a medium pot cook tomatoes and onions on medium high heat to slightly wilt and roast. Stir in butter and flour to form a roux- let cook and bubble until thickened. Stir in 2 cups chicken broth, vigorously, scraping up bits from the bottom of the pan. Let simmer 20 minutes, and puree with a stick blender.

Pour soup through a wire mesh strainer into serving bowl (to strain out any large chunks of tomato skin) and season to taste with salt and suger. I didn't use any extra salt, as my broth was from bullion powder and already quite salty.
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Oatmeal Lemon Cranberry Muffins

Phew, now THERE is an unwieldy title. These muffins are based on the muffin recipe in Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) anniversary edition cookbook. Believe me when I say it is almost always my first stop for a "base" recipe.

I doubled the recipe and used the "oatmeal muffins" option (reduce the flour and add oatmeal) and then riffed from there. Here's my final recipe, it made 20 large muffins (about a 1/4 cup of batter each.) The nice thing about using these silicone muffin liners is that I could use them, free standing, on a baking sheet and didn't need to worry about filling empty spots with water. The water is one of my pet peeves- it wicks onto the oven mitts and burns me, sloshes, makes so much steam my smoke alarm goes off when I open the oven, and I can't just dump all the muffins onto a cooling rack. These are Le Creuset brand, I highly recommend!

The muffins came out nice and light, without the bitter baking soda flavor I often find in muffins. The lemon wasn't overpowering or bitter, which is nice too and hard to do with oils I've found. You could probably substitute a bit of lemon juice and rind for the same effect, and reduce the milk accordingly. One thing I'm not sure of is the effect of the lemon oil on the milk- I mix lemon juice and milk for a buttermilk substitute, and I didn't notice any thickening of the milk mixture before I stirred it in, but the "buttermilk effect" might account for why these turned out so light and airy.

Oatmeal Lemon Cranberry Muffins
Based on a recipe from BHG

a scant 2 2/3 cup AP flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
a few handfuls of dried cranberries

1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup cooking oil
2 eggs, beaten
a few drops of pure lemon oil (just a tiny dribble)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix dry ingredient and wet ingredients separately, then just barely stir together. Spoon into muffin tins or liners and bake 18-20 minutes at 400 degrees until they test done in the centers. Best served warm.

Notes: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cranberries, lemon oil, and vanilla were not included in the original recipe.
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Friday, August 6, 2010

LoLo Banana Bundt Cake

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking, From My Home to Yours” (Classic Banana Bundt Cake)

3 cups AP flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup olive oil
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
About 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about four medium bananas), very ripe
1 cup plain yogurt

Preheat your oven to 350, with a rack in the middle. Prepare your Bundt pan by greasing it well. (I used cooking spray.)
In a medium bowl, whisk or sift together flour, baking soda and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the olive oil and sugar until well-combined and smooth-ish. Add the vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time, beating for about one minute after each egg goes in to make sure it is well incorporated. Turn the mixer down to low, and add in your bananas. Finally (still on low), mix in half the flour mixture, then all of the yogurt, and then the rest of the flour mixture.  Remove all of the batter to your Bundt pan and smooth out the top.
Bake for 65-75 minutes, or until a toothpick in the deepest part of the cake comes out clean. (Check it at 30 minutes – if it’s getting too brown for your liking, cover it loosely with tin foil for the rest of the baking time.) Cool the cake pan on a rack for 10 minutes, and then take the cake out of the pan and let it finish cooling on the rack.
This is even better the next day!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Plum Mustard Dipping Sauce

I love to dip ham and cheese turnovers in this or sweet potato fries.  It's fantastic on ham sandwiches as well!  You can use any jam or mustard, but my favorite combo is plum jam from our italian prune tree in the backyard and honey mustard.  The first person that can give me a honey mustard recipe that tastes like French's honey mustard wins my gratitude!  It would probably be phenomenal with a good stone-ground, course mustard.

Fruit and Mustard Dipping Sauce

Stir to combine.  Yes, that's it!  I normally just mix it on my plate because NO ONE else in my family will eat mustard, and I don't eat meat often enough to make up a larger batch.  If anyone tries to store it in the fridge, let us know how that works?  I imagine it would be just fine.

Apricot Frozen Yogurt

Nectarine Frozen Yogurt
2 cups vanilla yogurt
8 apricots
Sugar to taste

Rinse, halve and pit apricots, and blend with yogurt and sugar in a bowl using a hand blender. Skins will either be blended up or will wrap around the blade of the immersion blender- you can clean them out when you're done. Taste for sweetness and add sugar as needed.

Pour into ice cube trays and freeze until solid. Working with half the batch at a time, "pulse" cubes in a food processor 20-30 times until finely blended and it's gathered into one or two "football shaped" balls. Serve it up! It will be a little on the soft side- you can refreeze if you like to "ripen." Because of the low fat content, this has a grainy/flaky consistency- if it's made with a proper ice cream custard base, it's quite creamy and perfect! (HT to Kenji Alt-Lopez for this technique)
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Glass Noodles with Cucumber and Shrimp

Serves 4
Glass Noodles with Shrimp and Cucumber
4 bundles glass noodles (mung bean thread noodles)
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, chopped a few times into large pieces
cucumber, halved, seeded, and sliced
5-10 shrimp, cooked
2-4 Tablespoons oil
basil leaves
Sauce (sweet chili sauce, soy, terriyaki, etc.)

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a wok over high heat until it smokes- add the onions and garlic, and stir for a few minutes until they smell good and are softened. Scrape into a bowl and set aside. Add more oil to the wok if you need to and let it heat. Add noodles and stir fry quickly until translucent, about 2 minutes- they want to stick together, so stir and separate and lift as best you can. Scrape noodles into a bowl and set aside.

Let everyone make their own noodle bowls, and top with sauce.
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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Creamy Lemon Pasta

Creamy Lemon Pasta
Paraphrased From Moosewood Restaurant: Simple Suppers

In a small skillet on low heat, melt 1/4 cup butter.  Add 1 cup of cream, and heat slowly.  Stir in 3 Tablespoons of lemon juice and set aside.

Stir sauce into 1 pound of cooked pasta, with a cup of grated parmesan cheese.  Thin with reserved pasta water if needed.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  (We didn't need any salt, but everyone peppered theirs lightly at the table.) 

Balsamic Parmesan Vinaigrette

Balsamic Parmesan Vinaigrette
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (white or red is good)
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon mustard (all I have is yellow, but dijon would be amazing)
2 garlic cloves, finely minced or smashed
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
3/4 cup olive oil

Dump everything into a screwtop jar and shake shake!  It's best if it gets to sit for a while.  This is exceptionally garlicy- dial it back if you don't want it so strong.

Oven Baked Salmon

Oven Baked Salmon
Sprinkle salmon fillets with your favorite seasoning salt liberally, and wrap individually in foil.  Place in a single layer in a baking pan and bake at 350 until flaky.  (Ours were frozen so it took about an hour.)  Our favorite seasoning salt is Cavendar's Greek Seasoning- it's amazing on green beans and eggs, too.

Dipped in yoshida sauce and topped with slices of sweet onion and pineapple is another family favorite, as is lemon slices, onions, and generous pepper.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Spicy Mayo Sauce

I mix this with canned tuna for a kid-friendly pantry version of "spicy tuna roll" sushi.

Spicy Mayo Sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 Tablespoons sriracha sauce (to taste- you'll be surprised how much you can use before this gets spicy)
2 or 3 Tablespoons rice vinegar

Mix mayonnaise and sriracha sauce in a bowl, and add enough vinegar to make a sauce.  It shouldn't be runny, but more like the consistency of salad dressing.  Decant leftovers into a squeeze bottle and use to garnish the top of your sushi rolls- this stores well in the refrigerator.

Skillet Croutons

Makes enough for 2 exceptionally large bowls of salad.

Skillet Croutons
2 thick slices of bread (I used 3-day-old french bread), sliced into cubes
3 or 4 Tablespoons olive oil
seasoning (I used Cavendar's greek seasoning)
2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese

Stir everything together and tip into a preheated skillet on medium high heat, in a single layer.  Let brown and flip.    If the heat is on the high side, the outside will brown while the inside will be chewy and spongy with the oil (delicious!)  If the heat is lower, you will get a crunchier crouton before it starts to burn.  Shake and stir skillet occasionally.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

LoLo Coconut Pumpkin Masala Chicken

IMG_6685 I’m not really sure what to call this. I don’t understand what the individual words mean, but as I understand it “tikka” means “pieces” and “masala” is…the gravy the Brittish added to Chicken Tikka because they like gravy! Heh. Either way, this is oh-so-tasty. To an American palate, this would be Chicken Coconut Pumpkin Tikka Masala…or something like that. Whatever. (Oh, and the pumpkin? It was a shot in the dark to get more veggies into my fruit n’ bread ONLY kid. It was a success!)


Aunt LoLo’s “Secret Ingredient” Chicken Coconut Tikka Masala


2 split chicken breasts (bone in, skin on) (You can substitute any chicken here. If your chicken is already cooked, add it at the end.)

1 tbsp. oil

1 medium onion

1 tbs. minced garlic

1 tsp. tikka masala paste

1 can (6 oz) tomato paste

2 cups pureed pumpkin (yes, really – it takes on an awesome earthy quality and really rounds out the sauce! Besides- SNEAKY VEG. Yes, please.)

1/2 cup water

1 tsp. chicken base

1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk


In a dutch oven, heat up your oil and throw in your diced onion and minced garlic. Cook until the onions are translucent, about five minutes. Add tikka masala paste, tomato paste, pumpkin, water, chicken base, and a few scoops of the thick stuff on the top of the can of coconut milk. (Don’t shake it before you open the can! Coconut milk naturally separates into the cream, and the water.) Stir to combine.

Add your chicken, splash the sauce over it to coat, cover the pan, and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

When the chicken is cooked, carefully remove it from the sauce, remove and discard the skin, and then use a fork to tear the rest of the chicken into pieces. Discard the bones, and return the cooked meat to the pot. Add the rest of the coconut milk, stir to combine, and allow to thicken over low heat. Season to taste with more tikka masala paste and chicken base or salt. A spoonful of sugar is nice as well. (I was making this for kids, so I went pretty light on the tikka masala paste!)

Serve with rice spiced with a pinch of cinnamon, a half pinch of cloves and a teaspoon of chicken base mixed in before cooking.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tofu Fruit Whip (Or Fruity Pudding)

Try this recipe if you don't like tofu.  Really.  The uproar, grimaces, groans that were heard when I announced the dessert were quickly replaced by..."Um.  I like it.  Can I have some more?"  I lost count, but I think most people had at least 3 servings.

A more common version of tofu "pudding" involves melting a measure of chocolate chips equal in weight to your tofu, mixing together in a blender, and letting set up in the fridge.  I've done that with extra-firm tofu, plus a little peanut butter, to great results.  (It was firm, like cheesecake, although a little grainy.)

This turned out more like a mild yogurt- not too sweet, but addicting and light.  Try it, you'll like it!  We used the last of a raspberry compote from the last of Mom's frozen raspberries, but thought that peach, banana, or strawberry would all be good ones to try next.  I'm not sure if it was the citric acid in the raspberries, or the extra liquids I added, but this never set up into pudding- it was definitely yogurt consistency.  (It was also pretty good with mint-chocolate sauce drizzled on top.  Yum.)

Tofu Fruit Whip
3 14-ounce boxes of silken tofu
3/4 cup mashed raspberries
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy milk (add if this won't blend)

Blend all together in a blender until smooth- decant into a bowl and refrigerate.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sweet Cherry Pie

cherry pie

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we grow sweet cherries.  Lots and lots and lots of sweet cherries.  I've never seen a sour cherry in the store, and wouldn't you know: most cherry pie recipes are for sour cherries!

Smitten Kitchen saved the day, again.  Summer 2009 was a bumper crop year for sweet cherries around here like I've never seen before- we picked up 13 pounds of gorgeous bings one day for a dollar a pound, and spent the evening washing, pitting, bagging, and freezing fruit.
Here is her recipe, excerpted from Smitten Kitchen.  I used my berries straight from the freezer- the pie took a little longer to bake.  There's enough corn starch here to thicken the juices admirably, but definitely let it cool and thicken, especially if you use frozen berries.  (The directions say to leave the juice behind...well, that wasn't possible.)  The tiny bit of almond extract adds an exceptional flavor- I definitely recommend it!  I left the butter out, and it was delicious still.  So delicious that I hid it after our family  meal, so no one would ask to take it home.  That was a bad thing...but this pie...well, it's just that good!

Sweet Cherry Pie
Dough for a double-crust pie
4 cups pitted fresh cherries (about 2 1/2 pounds unpitted)
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 to 3/4 cup sugar (adjust this according to the sweetness of your cherries)
1/8 teaspoon salt
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits
1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water
Coarse sugar, for decoration
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Stir together the cherries, cornstarch, sugar, salt, lemon and almond extract gently together in a large bowl.
Roll out half of chilled dough (use larger piece, if you’ve divided them unevenly) on a floured work surface to 13-inch round. Gently place it in 9-inch pie pan, either by rolling it around the rolling pin and unrolling it over the pan or by folding it into quarters and unfolding it in the pan. Trim edges to a half-inch overhang.
Spoon filling into pie crust, discarding the majority of the liquid that has pooled in the bowl. Dot the filling with the bits of cold butter.
Roll out the remaining dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface, drape it over the filling, and trim it, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Fold the overhang under the bottom crust, pressing the edge to seal it, and crimp the edge decoratively. Brush the egg wash over over pie crust, then sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Cut slits in the crust with a sharp knife, forming steam vents, and bake the pie in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F. and bake the pie for 25 to 30 minutes more, or until the crust is golden. Let the pie cool on a rack.

cherry pie

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

10 Minute Cookies

I'm not going to include a recipe, because the recipe isn't the important thing here.

The important thing is that you can go from frozen butter to an entire batch of cookies baking at 350 in about 10 minutes.

Yeah baby, let's do it!

Start with your butter. I'm making chocolate chip cookies- a nice dense cookie dough. And one that Ernie requests EVERY.SINGLE.WEEK. You know this is true.

Grab the butter out the freezer (or fridge) and nuke it till soft. Or melted. Doesn't really matter. These cookies won't be spreading, no way, no how. (Melted butter makes your cookies spread. You want tall and soft cookies, refrigerate the dough. Sugar cookies? That's the secret.)

Add your sugars and beat beat beat. Then add all the rest of the good stuff - the flour, the baking powder, the vanilla, the eggs, etc. (I was following the instructions on the back of the chocolate chip bag...all the way till "oats" I thought I was doing chocolate chip cookies. Turns out there's TWO recipes on there, who knew! Blogosphere, meet my chocolate oat bars.)

Take that whole bowl of batter and smash it into a 9x13 inch pyrex pan and toss it in the oven and walk away. Ten minutes in the kitchen, tops. (Oh, and if your kids want to help, meaure the ingredients into a bowl (or cup), and let them dump their bowl (or cup) into YOUR bowl. MUCH easier, trust me. My 18-month-old helped me make these today, while her sister my chocolate chips.)

Bake at 350 for about half an hour, till the edges are golden brown. (Start checking at 20 minutes.)
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Monday, April 19, 2010

Aunt LoLo's Sweet Beans

This recipe is dedicated to my friend, Sam. *mwah*

Ok, so I've been trying to phase my house over to more Real Food. This means, in general, that I'm trying to make whatever I can. From scratch.

This is my latest attempt. I wanted to make the classic canned baked beans...without the pork. (Because who keeps three square inches of pork belly around, just to make a serving of beans?! Not me - that's who.)

My method was to look at the back of my can of generic "beans and franks", mentally delete all of the ingredients that weren' go from there.

I thought they turned out really great! The beans were a little tough-skinned, but I think that's just because it was an older bag of beans. (Any bean gurus out there that can clue me in on a way to get softer skins?)

Aunt LoLo's Sweet Beans

2 cups dry pinto beans
1 tsp. dry onions (My Bean Master sister says dry onions taste better in beans than fresh. If using fresh, chop up about half of an onion, and saute before adding to your beans. Hat tip to Myrnie!)
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 oz. canned tomato paste

Prep your dry beans - cover them with water, and swirl them around a bit. Pull out anything that floats, or anything that isn't a good-looking bean. (Anything black, wrinkled, split...those are all trash.) To soften the beans, either soak them overnight in cold water, or cover with water and bring to a boil. Either way, drain the water off afterwards, replace it with fresh water (about 2" over the beans).

Into the water, add all of the remaining ingredients to your pot, except your tomato paste. (Myrnie told me once that tomato products seem to stunt the cooking of the beans...I've never tried to tempt fate!) (And yes, Myrnie taught me how to cook dry beans. I still call her nearly every time I try to mix up a pot!)

Simmer the beans until they are soft, and then add your tomato paste. (BTW, 3 oz. is about half a can. Eyeball it...or add the whole can. Just add to taste!)

After a few minutes more simmering, taste the beans. Add more salt, sugar, vinegar, ground pepper...whatever flavor you're missing, chuck it in there. Just be sure to use a light hand - once it's in there, you can't get it back! 
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