Whole30 and Happy New Year!!!!!!

Hi Everyone!

Yup, its been a seriously long time since I posted.  I honestly got so distracted and I apologize for my very long silence.  But let me first wish you all a very Happy New Year!  Hard to believe its 2014.  

Like many people wanting a fresh start for any number of reasons, I'm starting a new eating approach for the next 30 days. This came recommended by a doctor I enlisted who is a board certified MD but also into functional Medicine.  Functional what?  Right...I understand... this may or may not be new to your vocabulary and understanding.  I suggest you go here: http://www.functionalmedicine.org/about/whatisfm/ to learn more about this medical/wellness approach.  I found it to be pretty interesting and decided to find a practitioner here in my area.  I've met with this doctor and her health coach for my initial visit. This came after filling out a series of questionnaires so that we could engage in  a conversation related to my health and wellness history (dating back to when I was born).  The doctor has suspicions that I may have a variety of food related issues (lactose and gluten intolerances to name a few).  So......after a serious amount of information was gathered and recorded, it was decided that I go on an elimination diet called Whole30.  As a prep to start the Whole30 I was given a little homework - to read a really interesting and informative book by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig called "It Starts with Food".  Go here to check it out: http://www.amazon.com/Starts-Food-Discover-Whole30-Unexpected/dp/1936608898/ref=la_B007FMIHHO_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1388544698&sr=1-1

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Here is a link to give you more info on what the Whole30 eating plan is about.  It's a very quick read but will give you a clue to what I will be eating and drinking for the next 30 days.  http://www.whole9life.com/start/ . What I won't be eating is dairy of any kind, soy and related products, beans, legumes, wheat and anything like it (rice,corn, amaranth, quinoa...the list goes on), no sweeteners natural or artificial, no gum, candies etc......and I will be checking labels for all those hidden sugars as well as all the additives that have crazy names that often can't be  pronounce let alone know what they really are. 

After I conclude the 30 days, I'll bring a food type (gluten or lactose etc) back one at a time to see how I respond.  Hopefully much will be revealed as I go through this process. 

Now that you have a little preliminary background on my next 30 days of eating I was thinking I would share some of my recipes/meals as I travel down this path.  Not sure that I will post every day but I'd like to share some Whole30 compliant meals.  I figure some of them might be enjoyable to those of you who are just looking for some good recipes of some great food.  That's what Seasoned Terrain is all about! Right?!!

So with all that said I'll post again with a Whole30 compliant recipe.  I've already figured out some great stuff like cauliflower mashed potatoes (sans the potato), or a really wonderful chicken curry, a cauliflower humus and quite a few more.  There will be a serious amount of vegetable heavy dishes that are sure to please my vegetarian friends.  

I'm really excited to embark on this 30 day journey and even more excited to have you tag along.  Stick around...its gonna be fun! Here's to a fresh start in 2014!

Curried Quinoa Cakes

A savory appetizer or meal

About Quinoa 

Quinoa, pronounced "keen wha", is considered a grain by many and in general its used like one but its really a seed. Quinoa is grown high in the Andes Mountains of South America.  The ancient Incas thrived on this super food. Quinoa is a Super food? Well, indeed it is! - this seed contains so many nutritious elements that are necessary to life that yes, its a super food. It includes the 8 essential amino acids that our bodies need but can't make ourselves. So maybe we should call this a super seed which the more I think about is pretty amazing! Quinoa is also gluten and wheat free so its great for people who need or choose to eat this way. It has a seriously low glycemic load at something like 18 out of 250 when measured on the glycemic index scale. Awesome! It has so much magnesium per serving (30% of your daily requirement) that it is beneficial to people who have migraine headaches. Wow who knew! Can you sense my amazement and excitement about this seed?  There is more info on this amazing food so go here to learn some Quinoa Nutrition facts that I haven't included here.

Curried Quinoa Cakes

Curried Quinoa Cakes

Now on to the recipe. This recipe is so easy and quite special. I think you will really enjoy it.  I know how important it is in to be able to make flavorful and nutritious meals that take minimal time in our busy days.  This is a winner in all categories.  I'm sure you will agree if you give it a try.  Also, these lovely little morsels make great leftovers.

Ingredients for Quinoa Cakes

1  cup dried quinoa cooked in 2 cups water

4 large eggs

1/2 red bell pepper finely chopped or about 6 to 8 small mini peppers finely chopped

1  cup  shredded  mozzarella cheese

3/4 cup shredding parmesan cheese

1  to 2 Tbl curry powder or to taste

1 Tbl ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Curry Sauce 

1 can lite or regular Coconut Milk

1 Tbl. Yellow Curry paste or the equivalent in curry powder to taste

Salt and Pepper to taste

mix all ingredients for the sauce in a small saucepan and heat till reduced a bit

serve warmed

Directions

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and then spray your mini muffin pan with cooking spray - set aside till ready to use.  I also used a regular sized muffin pan and filled them halfway. Cook the quinoa utilizing 1 cup dried quinoa to 2 cups water (most packages advise you to use these increments). After the quinoa is cooked let it cool in a large mixing bowl for 10 minutes and fully drain. Then add all other ingredients to the quinoa mixing it throughout.  Spoon the mixture into both the mini muffin pan and the regular one and press so that each quinoa cake mixture is topped off and pressed flat.  Bake cakes for 20 minutes  or until they are nicely browned. I love the crustiness that happens towards the end of the cooking time.  Adds an incredible texture that makes these cakes so wonderful. You could add a little extra cheese on top for even more flavor and crustiness.  I included this step and I think its so worth it! Then, let the cakes cool for a few minutes before removing them from the trays.  Serve with the creamy curry sauce, chutney and any vegetable of choice as a side. I would go with cauliflower since its neutral in flavor and it won't conflict with the main feature.  I've also caramelized an onion and plated it with the quinoa cupcakes. As seen pictured, tomatoes are a nice addition and add a nice contrasting color.  Also, the curry sauce is a great complement to everything in this dish.

You could also use the quinoa cakes as an accompaniment to chicken or any protein source of your choice although its not necessary because the cakes have plenty of protein in them.  Be sure to keep it neutral and utilize the curry sauce to enhance the protein source in addition to the quinoa cakes.

As mentioned before, this recipe is super easy, fast and nutritious. Hope you find the time to make this.  It turns out being an easy week night meal.

Enjoy! 

Curried Quinoa Cakes

Curried Quinoa Cakes

Fresh Salmon Tagliolini

Hi! Yes I know...been a long time.  As you well know we went to Italy but I haven't had time to post while there or since our return to fill you in on our adventures.  Many of our experiences both culinary and otherwise are well worth sharing.  So to get back on track i want to share a new recipe that is absolutely of Italian origin and post a few images that I shot while away in Italy. 

Salmon Tagliolini

Salmon Tagliolini

Salmon and Pasta recipe – Fresh Salmon Tagliolini

Ingredients:
1 to 2 tbl butter
2 tbl olive oil
minced garlic – I use a jar variety and added a 1 and a half rounded teaspoons
½ to ¾ Cup Pecorino Romano cheese grated – or use parmesan
½ cup heavy cream or silk soy creamer. (I used half of each)
16 to 17 oz Salmon – broiled or baked
½ or 2/3 cup Italian Parsley chopped
Basil chiffonade – use part of a fresh 4 oz pack ( I think its that much)
Salt and white pepper to taste
1, 16 oz package of linguini – I use Whole Foods Whole Wheat linguini

To prepare:
Bake the salmon and when done, flake and debone it. Place in
a large bowl and set aside.
In a large pot, boil water and a splash of olive oil for the linguini.
Cook till al dente. Drain but reserve 1 ladle of the water and set aside.
In a large pan on medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil and add garlic. Add
half the cooked pasta, cream, pasta water and salt and pepper to the pan.
Continue to saute and add half of the salmon. Add the parsley and basil. Mix so
all ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the pasta.


This should give you a nice meal with leftovers. After the meal, I added the
remaining linguini to the already prepared dish and stored in the fridge.
Next day, I added the leftovers to the pan to more butter and oil and repeat with
all the other ingredients again. I omitted the pasta water this time around
because I didn’t save extra and used the equivalent of water. Wasn’t a big deal.
We topped the dish with a little extra parmesan cheese. Plated it and yum.
Enjoy!

Salmon Tagliolini

Salmon Tagliolini

Italy was amazing and I would go back in a heartbeat.  Here are a few images that speak to the wonderful food that is there.  Let's begin with a view in Della Palma Gelato di Roma. The Gelato in this establishment was amazing.  They had so many different flavors to choose from. 150 to be exact!!! 

Gelato in Rome

Gelato in Rome

And another one here of Zucchini flowers.  I had some in a simple pasta dish one eve.   

Zuchinnni flowers

Zuchinnni flowers

And lastly a photo of the Aqueducts.  We rode bicycles along side this majestic structure.  Really amazing to think how long ago these were constructed.   

Aqueducts

Aqueducts

Hope you've enjoyed a little taste of Italy.  Ciao! 

Italy

I know I've been silent and I apologize. The reason for the silence is that my family and I are going to Italy.  We will be visiting Rome, Florence and Venice.  A few other day trips have worked their way into our schedule as well.  My thought is to photograph and post from the trip.  I really hope that I'm able to work a little blogging into this time away. Not promising but I'd love to share in a simple way - mostly with photographs.

So with that said, come visit Seasoned Terrain and check in from time to time to see the news from Italy.  I won't be able to send out notices of new posts so just visit the site when you can. 

The Colosseum

The Colosseum

Here is a great photo I found on trip adviser.  I plan to take my own of course but wanted to get in the mood.  Since this blog is focused on food, recipes etc, I plan on posting about our culinary adventures as we explore this wonderful country. Of course what's food without a little architecture and art.  Expect a mix from our travels. I hope you enjoy!

Ciao!

A different kind of Bagel that is low-carb and gluten free!

Since the Carb-crunchers company no longer makes bagels or breads anymore I had no other choice than to come up with something of my own.  This was a really big disappointment as this company really seemed to have it down.  Not that these bagels were like the New York style bagels I grew up with but they were a really great second that had a flavor and character of their own.  So now, I bring to any of you gluten or carbohydrate conscious folks with a bagel that is baked and made of some grain-free goodness that you are sure to enjoy. 

Just think of these as an entity of their own and you are sure to like them. They make 6 small bagels and have a totally different texture.  They are terrific right out of the oven and I'd be surprised if you could resist one at that point.  After they cool, I store them in the fridge and toast them when I want one.  The toasting brings out the flavor and gives them additional texture.

Low-carb Bagels

Low-carb Bagels

Ingredients

1 cup Almond Meal or flour

1/2 cup flax seed meal

1/4 cup plus 1 Tbl quinoa flour

2 Tbl coconut flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

2 Tbl plain 0% greek yogurt

2 Tbl olive oil

3 Tbl water

1 Tbl honey

1/2 tsp salt

If you want toppings use: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, onion or garlic flakes, salt, etc.  Sprinkle them on top before baking. I keep mine plain so that I can eat them sweet or savory style.  I like spreading peanut butter on them and I also enjoy a good slice of smoked salmon with a little cream cheese.  

Flour free low carb bagels

Flour free low carb bagels

Directions

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a medium size bowl - mix thoroughly

Mix all the wet ingredients in a smaller sized bowl - mix thoroughly, then mix the wet ingredients into the dry and make sure its mixed well.

Then, I use a doughnut pan to make 6 bagels but you can roll out the dough (and beware its somewhat sticky) and punch a hole in the middle to create a bagel shape.  Put each bagel on a lightly sprayed baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. 

Hope you enjoy these!  They are worth the small effort since these bagels don't take more than 15 minutes to assemble and then 20 to bake. Easy!

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The nutritional facts above are for one bagel. 

Baked Gnocchi Verdi

This recipe comes to you via The Treasury of Creative Cooking by the Editors of Consumer Guide (which is a cook book that belongs to a good friend who shared the original recipe with me)........But, I've made a big modification which really does change things quite a bit.  In the original recipe you boil the gnocchi but the first time I made these I tried that method and everything fell apart.  So.... with the remaining mixture, I set it up to bake and it turned out so awesome I'm going to present it to you my way. I've done it this way here and even utilized some almond flour instead of the wheat flour.  Please use the wheat flour if using that ingredient works for you.  Its not that much and I think it worked quite well.

This recipe is pretty simple and very nutritious. Lots of spinach to keep you going strong!  Also, it makes about 24 to 30 Gnocchi depending on their size. You will get 4 to 6 servings depending on your appetites. Serve with marinara sauce drizzled on top.  Tastes really great that way!

Gnocchi Verdi

Gnocchi Verdi

Ingredients

2, 14 oz. packages of frozen spinach

1.5  to 2 cups ricotta cheese

2 large eggs

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup plus 3 Tbls. all-purpose flour (I used almond flour but whole wheat flour works great)

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

3 Tbls. butter or olive oil

Gnocchi Verdi

Gnocchi Verdi

Directions

Cook spinach according to the package directions and drain well.  I wrap the spinach in paper towels and squeeze til it becomes very dry and all moisture is gone.  Chop up the spinach and place in a medium bowl. 

Stir in the ricotta cheese, add eggs and mix well.  Add 2/3 cup of the Parmesan cheese, 3 tablespoons of the flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Stir everything and mix well. 

Put the remaining cup of flour in a small shallow dish.  Press a heaping tablespoonful of spinach mixture and form an oval gnocchi, then place each in the flour rolling till they are covered with the flour.  Then place each gnocchi in a sprayed baking dish or cookie sheet.  Arrange them so that they are in a single layer.  You can fit a lot in there depending on its size.

Heat your oven to 375 degrees. While the oven gets up to temp, melt the butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave.  If using olive oil that step is not necessary. Then, drizzle the butter or olive oil over the gnocchi and bake it for 30 minutes. After they have baked for the 30 minutes, take out of the oven and top each gnocchi with the remaining Parmesan cheese and bake for another 15 minutes or until the cheese melts and is lightly browned. 

Warm the marinara sauce in a small sauce pan.  You can saute' vegetables and add them to the sauce or just leave as is. Then when the gnocchi is out of the oven, let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes, plate it and top with the sauce.  Eat and enjoy! This is such a wonderful lower-carb and vegetarian friendly dish. It's so so good! 

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Made with Almond Meal - gluten and sugar free!

Chocolate Flourless Cake

Chocolate Flourless Cake

One of the best things about this flourless chocolate cake is how simple it is to make. You mix it all in two bowls or in a food processor and in about five minutes it goes in your spring-form pan. It can be made with sugar but as most of you know, I do my best to steer clear and find some good sugar substitute. It's especially nice with some sugar-free raspberry preserves and topped with additional plump raspberries.  You can go even further and top it off with whipped cream.  So yummy!
Prep Time: 5 minutes -  Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

3 cups almond meal (I use Trader Joe's variety)

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

4 eggs or I used the equivalent of Energy egg replacer

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter melted or a vegan friendly margarine

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 erythritol or sugar

1/2 cup granulated splenda or sugar

1 cup water or coffee

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease a 8 or 9" round pan or 1 spring-form pan. I spray my spring-form pan with a cooking spray.  

Add the dry ingredients together. You may want to blend it in a food processor but this isn't absolutely necessary.  I like some cakes with some texture so I didn't process and instead used 2 bowls for dry and wet ingredients before combining them together.

In a separate bowl, add the wet ingredients and sugar substitutes and mix until well-blended. Now combine both dry and wet ingredients and mix well. Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 30 minutes. The exact time will vary with the pan. Start checking at about 25 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. My oven was an exact 30 minutes in bake time.

Let the cake sit for about 30 minutes before trying to remove it from the pan. I did release the spring-form side after about 5 minutes and then left the cake to cool before I placed in on a plate. I waited a bit longer and then topped the cake with a sugar-free raspberry preserve and additional raspberries. You could go with strawberry or blackberry preserves and other fruits as well. If interested you could also serve with whipped cream or a chocolate sauce or top with some confectioners sugar or more powdered splenda.  This cake is so special and quite enjoyable for a pretty healthy treat.

Enjoy!

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad

It's spring time! Time to take care of those cravings for fresh crisp salads and veggies. I had this salad at a winter holiday party and it was fabulous.  In the version that I tried there were watermelon radishes in the salad.  A what? Yes go here to learn a little bit about the Watermelon Radish which is officially a Chinese Daikon radish - they are called shinrimei.  I've been trying to find them with no real luck but I'm going to try the Asian markets in town or another Whole Foods Market with hopes that I score! I used your regular variety of radish that are not even a close second to the Shinrimei although they are great and add a wonderful crunch.

The friend who shared this recipe adapted it from the Power Foods Cookbook, Whole Living Magazine.  They also have a website that you may want to explore for more healthy approaches to food and living.  Go here: http://www.wholeliving.com/

Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

Salad Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp whole grain mustard

3-4 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice plus zest of 1/2 lemon

Coarse sea salt

1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp Maple syrup or Honey - Wildflower or Orange blossom honey

2 Tbsp sunflower oil (I have also used grape seed oil and hemp oil for this recipe)

8 oz brussels sprouts, sliced very thinly, 3 cups (Trader Joe's sells them already shredded and packaged - I got these and you can check it out here too!)

4-6 leaves of kale (Lacinato is the best), center stem removed, sliced in thin strips...could also vary with Swiss chard, collard green, or red kale.

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds, toasted or roasted

Additional variations: watermelon radish, golden or red beet, cherry tomato, kohlrabi, orange or red bell peppers sliced thinly.  You can also add tart dried cherries or dried cranberries for a really wonderful contrasting flavor.  I think many different additions will be great.  If you try something new let us know!

Directions:

1. Stir together mustard, lemon juice and zest, 1/2-3/4 tsp salt and the maple syrup/honey, whisk in oil until emulsified.

2. In salad bowl, toss together brussels sprouts and greens (plus add-in other vegetables of choice). Add sunflower seeds and dressing and toss to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to a few hours and then re-toss leaves prior to serving to redistribute dressing. This salad keeps very well over night and is a great leftover.

This salad is a great side to many other dishes.  We had this with a variation on a lobster roll.  I used shrimp, avocado and lemon and watercress to dress the rolls.  It was perfect with this salad.  Sounds like another good recipe on the way!

Enjoy the salad! You're going to love this!!!!

Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

Cauliflower Flax Pizza Crust and Toppings

In efforts to keep the foods I make relatively gluten free and lower carbohydrate, I came up with this pizza crust utilizing cauliflower as its main ingredient.  It has some similarities to the Garlic Cauliflower bread sticks in an earlier Seasoned Terrain post but I assure you this is a bit different.  I do enjoy pizza because of its flavors, texture and aroma - actually I'm not sure I know anyone who doesn't love pizza do you? Keeping the carb count down is a mission of mine and getting a lot of veggies in my diet is top priority. This is such a fantastic way to address those issues. Even if you don't need to keep the carb count down, you may still find this a unique and refreshing approach to making pizza.  Cauliflower is so neutral and will take on whatever flavors you add to it.  I think its a great vegetable to use this way. In addition cauliflower  is rich in antioxidants, notably indole-3-carbinol (I-3-C), which research indicates may help protect against cancers and heart disease. It's a good source of vitamins C and K. It's rich with fiber and folic acid and is very low in calories.  In addition its inexpensive and really very versatile because its so neutral in flavor as mentioned before.

For my Vegan friends, there are many substitutes you can utilize for the egg and the cheeses.  Please experiment.  To learn more great info about Vegan substitutes go here to the Savvy Vegetarian. This site is thorough and clearly written and a terrific resource.

Plated Cauliflower Flax Pizza Crust and Toppings

Plated Cauliflower Flax Pizza Crust and Toppings

Ingredients

Cauliflower, raw, 1 head, medium (5-6" dia)

2 jumbo Eggs

1 1/4 cup Cheddar Cheese (can use a mix variety)

3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

4 tbsp Flax Seed Meal (ground flax)

1 tbsp Oregano, ground,

1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh Parsley

I use a variety of toppings such as: 

sauteed caramelized onion

sauteed mushrrooms

marinated artichokes

marinated grilled red peppers

low fat mozzarella cheese

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese more commonly known as parmesan

basil chopped (fresh)

After baking the toppings I slice avocado and put it on top. So great!

Directions

Pizza Crust

Steam the cauliflower then finely chop it till it looks a lot like rice. Add the eggs, cheeses, flax seed meal and herbs. Feel free to use other herbs if you prefer something else. I usually add red pepper flakes for a little spice. This recipe makes 1 very thick pizza crust or 2 thinner ones. I prefer making 2 thin ones.  More pizza for the end result. In addition I use shallow casserole style dishes to bake them. Spray the dishes with olive oil cooking spray followed by spooning and pressing the mixture into the dishes. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes depending on whether you are making the thick or thin version and your particular oven.

After the crust has baked and is lightly browned, spread the sauce out in a thin layer  and then begin loading up the toppings.  Distribute the toppings evenly so that each bite has something different. Then add the mozzarella cheese. So YUM!

Enjoy!

Serving Size: Makes 8 -10 servings

Cauliflower flax Pizza Crust without toppings

Cauliflower flax Pizza Crust without toppings

Cauliflower Flax Pizza Crust and Toppings

Cauliflower Flax Pizza Crust and Toppings

Plated Cauliflower  Flax Pizza Crust  with avocado slices

Plated Cauliflower  Flax Pizza Crust  with avocado slices

Shrimp n Cheese Grit Cakes

Shrimp and Grits is a real favorite of mine.  A variation of this dish was introduced to me when I moved to North Carolina.  It was simple, just some cheesy grits, plain steamed or pan saute'd shrimp and lemon to drizzle on top.  Very easy.  This recipe is a revamp and is equally as simple yet it is a two-step process.  It has a bit more visual appeal and it has some additional ingredients that give it that extra dimension. 

Shrimp n Cheese Grit cakes

Shrimp n Cheese Grit cakes

To Make the Cheese Grit Cakes

Ingredients:

1 cup Corn grits or polenta

4 cups Water

1 tsp salt (can omit if watching your sodium intake)

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Follow the recipe on the container that come with the grits even though I give amounts above.  I actually used blue cornmeal from Bob's Red Mill.  This variety adds a nice light purple color to the overall display that in my opinion gives the dish an earthy appeal.  I also prefer the stove-top cooking method.  Just mix the grits, water and salt together in a sauce pan and stir constantly over a medium heat. It goes quite quickly and I enjoy the process of watching the grits get thick. I then add the cheese at the end of the cooking process.  Feel free to use more cheese if its your preference. Then place the cooked cheese grits in a large glass baking pan that has been lightly sprayed with cooking oil.  Let it cool and refrigerate for at least 2-4 hours. I recommend cooking the grits the night before and let it sit in the fridge.  It will be the perfect consistency and hardness to cut into smaller serving sized grit cakes. Once cut to the preferred size (I used a round biscuit cutter), put cheese grit cakes on a oil sprayed baking dish. Bake the cakes at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.  Turn each cake on its other side and put additional cheese on top.  Put the cakes back in the oven to cook for an additional 15 minutes.    

Note: This process can be replaced with buying the tubed polenta.  After slicing the polenta and cooking it on one side you can put cheese on top of each slice.  If you eat cheese this step is important and adds to the overall flavor but its not necessary.

To Make the Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs of peeled and deveined shrimp
  • juice from 2 large lemons
  • garlic to taste (use fresh)
  • 2 Tbl.  olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 caramelized onion chopped
  • 1 saute'd red bell pepper chopped

Directions:

In a frying pan sprayed with olive oil cooking spray saute' the onion till caramelized.  Do the same with the red bell pepper and set both aside in a medium sized bowl.  Add the thyme, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper and lemon. 

In the same frying pan, spray it again and cook the shrimp with the garlic till the shrimp is just firm and takes on a nice orange/white color.

For Plating:

Place a cheese grit cake on each plate and then put 5 to 7 shrimp on top. Then spoon  the vegetable and herb mixture on top of the shrimp for the finishing touch.  I think it looks beautiful! This meal can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I recently made this for some family members - we ate it for breakfast to celebrate two birthdays - Happy Birthday Elizabeth! and Georgia! 

Shrimp, veggies and cheese grit cake

Shrimp, veggies and cheese grit cake

Shrimp n Cheese Grit Cake

Shrimp n Cheese Grit Cake

Would love to hear from you and hope you give this a try.  Let me know how it goes. Thanks for tuning in. :-)

Tuna Tataki with Ponzu Sauce

Tuna Tataki - seared tuna with Ponzu sauce

Tuna Tataki

Tuna Tataki

Tuna Tataki is fresh, high grade Ahi tuna seared very briefly over a hot flame or in a pan. It's important to utilize fish that is very fresh or sashimi grade.  Go here to The Nibble to learn more about sushi and sashimi etc. In addition, l got some great info at the fish market at Whole Foods that the sashimi grade has a lot to do with the temperature of the fish.  For instance, sashimi grade Tuna has to be in the freezer till sold so that it is at a very very cold temperature when it is bought - its not about the quality of the fish so much.  I suspect though, that its equally as important that the fish is extremely high grade and quite worthy of eating raw at least that would be extremely important to me. The fish I bought for this meal is good enough to eat sashimi style (raw) or in the manner that you see here where it is lightly seared and only partially raw.  

This is a very quick and simple dish.  I serve it with a Japanese Ponzu sauce.  I am sure you could make your own but I prefer to buy this variety and we just started utilizing another variety made by a Japanese company named Moritakk. I got this at my local Japanese store called Toyoshokuhin.  This ponzu has a wonderful strong citrusy flavor. I think it is superior to the first but both are really quite good.

In addition, garnish with finely chopped scallion onions before serving.  It adds a really nice flavor and contrast to the dish. Looks nice too.

Serve with a nice Sake, with cooked short grain rice and any green vegetable.

Searing the Tuna

Searing the Tuna

Ingredients:

Sashimi grade Tuna steaks - very fresh

Ponzu sauce

chopped scallion onions for garnish

Ponzu Ingredients:  Ponzu sauce can be bought or made

2 Tbl soy sauce or seasoned soy sauce

1 Tbl lemon or lime juice

1 Tbl orange juice

Slicing the Tuna

Slicing the Tuna

Easy Galette

Savory Vegetable & Chicken Galette

Recipe makes 2 medium sized Galettes

Savory galette

Savory galette

I'm so excited to present this easy delicious dish originating from France.  Sounds like ga (baby gutteral sound) & let. So Easy! Galette is a French term that refers to a variety of flat, round pastries, usually made with a flaky pastry dough. When you fill the uncooked dough with ingredients such as saute'd or steamed vegetables, marinated tofu, chicken or sausage and cheese to name a few, you are turning a simple sheet of pastry dough into a wonderful main course that takes no time to prepare (which I equate with an awesome week night dinner). 

Regarding the dough: I buy the pre-made kind that you unravel and press out into whatever shape is needed.  I bought Ready to Bake Pie Crusts from Immaculate Baking Company.  You could use any variety or if you are resourceful you could make your own. As already mentioned, I look to this dish as an easy week night meal that is hearty and delicious.  A galette can be either sweet or savory depending on what you fill it with.  The term galette actually refers to a free form tart that is made with a pastry dough crust.  You don't need a pie pan - all you need is a parchment-lined baking sheet.  

Take the pie crust and roll it out a bit thinner than in its original shape.  Place the pie crust on the prepared cookie sheet. Then, directly place the filling on top of the dough keeping it centered and in the middle with some room left on the edges.  Then fold the edges over, layering the little flap edges together till you have a nicely finished pie.  There should  be quite a bit of exposed filling.  I like putting a bit of parmesan cheese over the top for some added texture and flavor.  At the end of the baking cycle the galette becomes browned and flaky.  This is a lovely rustic approach to a hearty and filling meal that can be quite elegant depending on how you serve it. 

If interested in making a sweet galette you only need the pie crust, any fruit or variety of fruits and sugar (or substitute of your choice).  Fruits such as peaches, apples and berries are typically good choices to use. Some people like to take Nutella and spread it on the dough and then layer the fruit on top.  Yes, chocolate returns to add that extra special touch to a simple dessert.  You knew I couldn't resist to suggest that one! I actually haven't ever made the sweet variety but I will and when I do I'll share those results. 

Plated Galette

Plated Galette

Filling Ingredients:

I am not including amounts for this recipe as I think you can use just about anything in your fridge to add as the filling.  I also find that the additional left-over veggies not used in the galette's are good to add on top when serving for some extra fiber and protein.

I used:

chicken breast meat

shitake mushrooms

steamed broccoli crowns cut up into small pieces

broccoli slaw

shredded carrots

sweet onions

red bell pepper

vegetable or chicken flavor boost (Swanson variety)

1/4 cup water

olive oil or spray

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  

You can omit the chicken and just go veggie.  Adding tofu could work as could other meat varieties as mentioned above.  Anything you would put in a pot pie is going to work wonderfully. Experiment!  That's what I do.

I steamed the brocolli, slaw and carrots while I saute'd the others in a pan lightly seasoned with olive oil.  In addition I saute'd the chicken but didn't cook it completely leaving it a light pink on the inside.  When all the steaming and sauteing is done, I am sure to have all ingredients cut into small pieces and then mix everything together thoroughly. The following baking process at the end takes care of the necessary additional cooking for the chicken.  All other protein sources should be handled appropriately as well.

When the oven is up to temperature, place the galettes on the prepared cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Both should fit comfortably on one cookie sheet. I check the galettes after 15 minutes and every 5 minutes thereafter to be sure it doesn't over brown.  Once baked I let the galettes cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.  

If interested, serve with tomato sauce or any type of curry style gravy for some added flavor and moisture.  This step isn't necessary but adds a nice flavorful touch. I used some sauce from a Panang curry dish we had left over.

Bon Appetit!

Savory galette

Savory galette

Baked Bang Bang Shrimp or Tofu

Baked Bang Bang Shrimp or Baked Bang Bang Tofu

This dish is so easy to prepare and is really tasty.  Both versions come out very crispy and this adds a great quality to the dish.  Either way you do this you will love it.  The prep time on this takes less than a half hour.  What's not to like about that!?! Cook time is equally as fast and is a total of 20 minutes.  So what are you waiting for? Time to make some Bang Bang!

Baked Bang Bang Shrimp & Bang Bang Tofu

Baked Bang Bang Shrimp & Bang Bang Tofu

To prepare the Shrimp or Tofu you will need:

1.25 lbs shrimp, cleaned and deveined or......1 packs very firm tofu (14 oz packs) cut up in small pieces

1/4 cup 0% Greek yogurt (I use Fage brand and sounds like "fa yay")

1/4 cup Almond milk or any milk variety

1/4 cup soy creamer or heavy cream

1/4 cup flour (preferably whole wheat)

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 jumbo egg

2 tsp chopped and minced garlic

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp hot sauce - I use Texas Pete

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup Panko breadcrumbs -  I use a mix of whole wheat and regular style and you may need more than 1 cup.

Baked Bang Bang Tofu

Baked Bang Bang Tofu

For the Bang Bang Hot sauce

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tbsp uhg sauce (Vietnamese chili garlic sauce)

2 tbsp Texas Pete (more or less to taste)

1 packet splenda or sweetener of choice

Directions 

Preheat your oven to 400 F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. I might even spray the pan lightly and then place the paper on top.  Just a little extra to be sure that nothing sticks. In a medium bowl, mix flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, paprika and salt and pepper. Add the hot sauce, egg, yogurt and milks to the bowl and whisk until you have a smooth batter. Add the shrimp or tofu to the bowl, tossing to make sure each piece is coated in the batter and set it aside. In another bowl add the Panko breadcrumbs. 

Mix all ingredients for the sauce together and refrigerate until ready for serving. 

Coat each of the battered shrimp or tofu pieces with breadcrumbs, add more breadcrumbs as needed, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, then flip shrimp or tofu over and bake for another 10 minutes or until the breadcrumbs turn golden or lightly browned.

Baked Bang Bang Tofu and Brussel sprouts

Baked Bang Bang Tofu and Brussel sprouts

I guarantee you will love this.  It's so easy to make too! Serve with any green veggie of choice. I like roasted Brussels sprouts with this. When baked they get a really wonderful crunch which seems to be the theme for this post. Hope you Enjoy!

PDF for Baked Bang Bang Shrimp & Tofu

Asian inspired Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos inspired by Mame

Fish Tacos inspired by Mame

Fish Tacos are my new favorite dish.  I was really taken with some that were served to us in a sushi bar of all places. Can you believe it?! We were in Eugene, Oregon checking out the local spots and came upon this unassuming place. It didn't even have a sign on the outside of the establishment. Mame (sounds like mah may) is this incredible yet non-traditional sushi bar that I highly recommend if you are in Eugene, Oregon. To be honest, I've been trying to sort it out in my mind exactly how these fish tacos were made. The taco shell isn't a shell at all but a soft white pillow of goodness that you wrap around the fish and other ingredients. So, with some thought, it occurred to me that maybe the taco shell was made with rice flour. But, what I've come to discover (and no one has confirmed this I just think I figured it out!) is that the taco shell is more like the dough used to make manju a Japanese style steamed bun. Upon figuring this out I became elated that I could now attempt to recreate these wonderful little morsels.

OK...on to the Mame Asian style tacos. If you venture into making these, I'm sure you will agree that these tacos are quite unique and flavorful and you'll want to eat a bunch of them! You may want to double the recipe depending on how many people you are serving or if you want leftovers.  We love them and they turned out fantastic! Here's the recipe!

The soft taco dough

The soft taco dough

Ingredients for the dough: makes 15  taco buns.

2 cups all–purpose flour

1, 1/4 oz. packet instant active dry yeast

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon sugar (to help with starting the yeast)

Pinch or two of salt

1 tablespoon sesame oil, plus extra for rolling out dough

3/4 cup lukewarm water

To make the Dough:

Mix the flour, 2 tablespoons of sugar and baking powder in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl mix the yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar and the water together. Then, mix all ingredients together along with the oil. When the ingredients are combined knead the dough by hand or use a mixer if you have one. At our house we like to do this by hand. Once the dough is formed into a ball place it in a bowl coated with a small amount of oil and cover the dough with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm place and let the dough rise until its doubled in size (this should take about an hour). 

Forming and cooking the Buns:

After the dough has risen and doubled in volume punch it down and lightly knead it. Then after the kneading break the dough into 15 equal pieces. Then roll each piece into a ball, and place under a wet kitchen towel and allow them to rest for 10 minutes. They will most likely rise a bit more. Afterward, roll out each small dough ball into 4-inch diameter circles. Place the dough rounds in a bamboo steamer placing each piece on parchment paper so that they don't stick to each other or the bamboo steamer. Let the taco buns steam for about 1 & a 1/2 minutes each. You may need to let it go longer for the first few but afterward, 1 & a 1/2 minutes in a bamboo steamer will do it. They should expand in size and will be perfect for filling with the fish and additional toppings. One note: I suggest you broil the fish with the marinade below, cut up the vegetables and prepare everything before you start the steaming process.  Then when the soft taco buns are ready you can fill them and eat immediately. This is so you can enjoy it at its best. If you want, steaming the buns before hand would work extremely well too.  Then you can just sit and enjoy the food.

bamboo steamer extraordinair!

bamboo steamer extraordinair!

Ingredients for the fish:

1 to 2 lbs. White Fish

I'm using flounder but a thicker variety like Cod or Grouper could work well or 1 lb. Salmon filet depending on your preference.

Fish marinade includes: 

4 Tablespoons seasoned soy sauce or soy sauce will work too

1.5 teaspoons wasabi paste or to taste

1 packet splenda or sweetener of choice

1 tsp. hot or plain sesame oil 

You can add or subtract any amount to taste. Be sure to nicely coat the fish with this marinade before broiling or baking. I also sprinkled some Wasabi Fumi Furikake on top.  This is worth purchasing because it adds a nice little crunch and just tastes awesome. 

Ingredients for the filling:

cilantro

green onions chopped finely

baby spinach or lettuce

Ingredients for the final sauce:

Wasabi Cream: 

4 to 5 Tablespoons mayonnaise (light or full fat) or you can try the Japanese Kewpie style which is even higher in fat but really pretty awesome and amazing. 

1 to 2 teaspoons wasabi paste or to taste

1 packet splenda sweetener or the equivalent in sugar

lime or lemon juice to taste  

Mix all these ingredients together till you get a nice smooth consistency and flavor that you like. Add water to thin the consistency so its easy to drizzle

Assemble the Tacos!

Assemble all the ingredients in a soft taco bun just like you would with traditional taco ingredients.  Garnish with the greens and top with the wasabi cream and Wasabi Fumi Furikake.  Sugoi! which means Awesome! in Japanese. :-)

This recipe may seem a bit long but I promise you it really isn't.  I suggest you try this on a weekend at first to see.  The dough can be prepared earlier in the day and then the steaming of the taco buns and the broiling of the fish really come together quite quickly once you get your system down.  It is so so worth it!

Mame inspired fish tacos

Mame inspired fish tacos

❤ Chocolate chip Scones for Valentines day ❤

Chocolate Chip scones for My Funny Valentine 

Chocolate chip scones from Plums

Chocolate chip scones from Plums

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Here's a different spin on Valenine's day posts....let's start with some music that is a source for some valentine inspiration. First......if you didn't already know, I'm a real jazz fan and there are versions of the song "My Funny Valentine" that certainly inspire me.  For instance, I love this version because of its modern take on the old standard. This song is written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart and written for the broadway show Babes in Arms. But there is something about the soulful and amazing voice of Chaka Khan that really speaks to the quality and dimension of this piece. So take a minute to enjoy her dynamic voice!  In addition I'm sharing this great recipe for the best chocolate chip scones I have ever had!

The recipe is from a wonderful book by Elizabeth Alston. It's called Biscuits and Scones: 62 Recipes from Breakfast Biscuits to Homey Desserts. This book is fantastic and well worth getting if this sort of thing is interesting to you. For less than $8 its a cheap thrill and worth its weight in gold - no kidding!  I became very interested in baking scones after I visited Scotland years and years ago and this book without a doubt takes care of those needs.  There are so many different scone varieties to choose from. There are many that will satisfy both the sweet or the savory approach and they won't disappoint I promise! 

Why scones for Valentine's day? Well....because these scones are so amazing and decadent, and so incredibly awesome, that if you made these and shared them with someone you love well, I guarantee you will make their day! I mean that's the point right? I promise you though, this gesture will be so appreciated and because this recipe makes 12 scones you could spread the love and share a few with friends. These have been favorites at our house for years.  My family absolutely loves them and they are part of what I think my daughter Madison considers as comfort food. I think I do too! Everyone who has ever had these loves them.  One thing though, these are not in keeping with my attempt to keep things on the healthier side.  Sorry, I'm letting all boundaries down for this lovely recipe.  If you decide to make them you will see why.  I have figured out a lower-carb, lower-fat version of this recipe but in all honesty, it takes on a completely different quality and texture and I can't really equate them as the same.  They are really great though and maybe I'll share that recipe sometime.  Until then, here's the real deal! Please enjoy them with abandon (and maybe with a cup of coffee or tea). Happy Valentine's Day! 


Chocolate Chip Scones and PG tips tea

Chocolate Chip Scones and PG tips tea

Recipe for Chocolate-Chip Scones from Plums

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons

3 large eggs - I used jumbo

1/3 cup buttermilk or plain greek yogurt - I used 1/2 cup greek yogurt

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I used mini chocolate chips)

Mix flour and baking powder in a bowl. With an electric mixer, beat butter on high until creamy. Add sugar and beat for a few minutes until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each.  Just for the record, I chose not to use the electric mixer and mixed everything very evenly to make up for it. The scones turned out just fine.

Scrape sides of bowl; reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until only blended. Scrape sides; add buttermilk or yogurt and mix only until blended. Sprinkle chocolate cips over the batter and fold in.

Scoop 1/3 cupfuls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet, placing the mounds 2 inches apart. Refrigerate for about 45 minutes (or freeze, and when hard, remove and place in a plastic bag and freeze for up to 6 weeks). Or proceed to the next step.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake scones for 15 minutes. Turn heat down to 325 degrees and bake about 10 minutes longer, or until pale golden brown. Be very careful to check. Cool, uncovered, on a wire rack. Serve with coffee or tea or just eat and indulge. I hope you love them as much as we do!

Chocolate Chip Scones

Chocolate Chip Scones

Creamy Broccoli Soup and Parmesan Crisps

Soup with a secret ingredient!

Creamy Broccoli Soup

Creamy Broccoli Soup

During the colder months nothings better than some thick hearty soup.  What I love about this soup is that it is low fat, doesn't utilize any dairy but lives up to the "creamy" in its name.  Where things get interesting are in using rolled oats.  Yup! Surprise! That's the secret. Cooked rolled oats add a non-fat, dairy-free creaminess to this recipe and I promise, you won't miss the fat. I also used some brown rice flower and water to thicken this soup up a bit more but this is optional depending on how thick you want the soup. It will have a creaminess no matter what.  So back to those oats! It's amazing how well that works. You could also add some cashews if you want even more creaminess. This addition certainly adds to the fat content but I think a little goes a long way and its worth adding. Try it, or, just omit that ingredient and follow the rest of the recipe. Originally, I found a similar recipe at Vegetarian Times online.  Their recipe is certainly the basis of the recipe you see here and they deserve full credit for the inspiration.  I certainly diverted to add my own little twist to this wonderful warm soup.  It is extremely filling as well.  Eating this soup with a nice slice of warm bread is a great combination but I think the recipe for the Parmesan Crisps is the perfect accompaniment.

I want to add a note that this soup along with the crisps makes for a quick n easy weeknight dinner recipe that is very hearty.  The recipe is so simple that you'll spend only about 35 to 45 minutes preparing it all from beginning to end.  Perfect after a long day at work or after some fun cold weather sports activities!

Creamy Broccoli Soup

Creamy Broccoli Soup

Ingredients for the soup:

1 cup cooked rolled oats

1/2 cup finely ground cashews

3 cups Vegetable stock

1 tsp olive oil

1/4 cup white wine or apple juice

1 medium sized bag broccoli floretes 12 oz. or equivalent

1 large onion chopped and caramelized

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon thyme

5-6 basil leaves finely chopped

1/2 cup of brown rice flour

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup Almond Milk (I use this Silk variety) at the very end of cooking.

Directions for the soup:

First lightly steam the broccoli.  I use the Pampered Chef micro cooker.  This things is so awesome! Using it makes the steaming process so much easier and much less of an issue when cleaning up afterward. Once done, drain and set the broccoli aside. 

Next, in a medium to large pot, saute the onion till caramelized (spray the pan with olive oil cooking spray).  Add the garlic and continue cooking. Then add all the other ingredients except the herbs.  Include the lightly steamed broccoli and vegetable broth.  Let everything come to a boil for a few minutes and then turn off the heat.

If you are using the cashews, blend them till they are finely ground (I use my Vitamix) but you could use a magic bullet or other type of food processor. Then transfer all the ingredients minus the oats into the mixer and blend till smooth. Next, add the herbs and blend some more. Slowly add the oats until the mixture is creamy. Transfer the soup back to the pot and add any additional seasonings. The original recipe calls for cayenne pepper but I omit it.  I add a little salt and pepper to taste. Let the soup simmer while mixing the brown rice flour and water together. Pour that mixture into the soup and stir continuously till the soup thicken. This might take 5 minutes.

Then when I plate the soup, I use some Texas Pete for that extra little punch. We really like using Texas Pete because it adds a nice vinegary tang along with a little spice to enhance the soup. It really makes a difference and is that final added touch that gives this soup even more flavor. You could also sprinkle with some croutons on top if you like. 

Parmesan crisps

Parmesan crisps

Parmesan Crisps

Ingredients:

Parmesan, Asiago or Cheddar cheese grated

Parchment paper

olive oil spray

Directions for the Crisps:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take your favorite parmesan or asiago cheese and finely grate it. You could also use cheddar cheese if you prefer. You can also buy grated cheeses at the grocery. On a non-stick pan lined with lightly sprayed parchment paper, take a small handful of the cheese and spread it out so it is formed in a small circle. Repeat this step till you have as many crisps as you can fit on one pan. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes or until the crisps are lightly browned and be careful to keep an eye on them. The crisps should easily peal off the parchment and cook very quickly.  

Creamy Broccoli soup with Parmesan crisps

Creamy Broccoli soup with Parmesan crisps

Would love to hear what you think. Please feel free to comment! Enjoy!

pdf for Creamy Broccoli Soup and Parmesan Crisps

Food For Thought

And now for something completely different and unexpected!
Rene' Magritte's "La Tempete" (The Storm) 1927, Graphite.

Rene' Magritte's "La Tempete" (The Storm) 1927, Graphite.

Go here to the afanews.com article that inspired this post.

A friend at work (thank you Alice!) sent me this image. It's worthy of pondering don't you think?  I've always been a fan of surrealist art and Magritte's work is among the best. How does this relate to a food blog? Well, the imagery of course and the fact that working in the kitchen and creating inventive food relates to some (but not all) of the philosophical outlook that the surrealists embraced. They were always experimenting with conventional thought. I know I experiment in the kitchen all the time trying to reinvent the norm with some small yet unusual new twist. Surrealist work features the element of surprise and unexpected juxtapositions to name a few. I think we foodies love to play with those elements whether we realize it or not. I know I really enjoy using ingredients that surprise me. It's intriguing how well they work together even though they are unlikely compliments to one another. Do you have those experiences in the kitchen? Fill us in if you do!

I do want to comment that I choose to focus on particular elements within the Surrealistic viewpoint but not all.  There is a lot more that goes on within this genre and if interested you can learn a little more about it here at Art Story.org or its all over the web for you to glean.  I absolutely don't want to confuse anyone. I'm just having some fun finding a common bond between art and food. I'm just going "outside the box"! So, in saying that, I think from time to time I'll intermix a little Food for Thought throughout the blog in efforts to remind everyone to go outside your box if it strikes you to do so. You might be pleasantly surprised. Try it in your cooking experiments or in some other area of your life.  I hope this little inspiration of art and ideas is as fun for you as it is for me. 

Tofu chocolate pudding in fillo cups

Tofu chocolate pudding in fillo cups

Tofu chocolate pudding in fillo cups

Yes I'm back with something chocolate - Healthy Chocolate pudding. But in all honesty, if you have a chocolate craving and you want something really quick and easy this recipe is for you.  It's also lower in fat than traditional pudding and in my opinion no one will know the difference (not even your kids).  It's so easy and has so few ingredients. What's not to like about that?  

We'll be using cocoa powder in this recipe because it gives you that rich deep chocolate flavor without all the fat or carbs.  Cocoa powder is finely ground partially defatted cocoa solids. Pretty terrific in my opinion! Another thing that really makes me happy about it is that it is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids. Favonoids help fight inflammation, lower blood pressure and improve overall vascular function. See, you can have your chocolate and eat it too!

tofu chocolate pudding in fillo cups

tofu chocolate pudding in fillo cups

So here's the recipe. Please feel free to add anything you like to it.  As you see here, I've included berries because I just love them and its another really excellent food for you! You could add a variety of fruits such as mandarine oranges, raspberries and, if you feel you need more chocolate then add that too! I think a little sprinkling of cayenne pepper (but be very careful) might also be really great. It's your choice but you might want to give it a try!

Ingredients

1, 12oz. carton of mori-nu silken soft tofu

1/3 cup of honey or agave (I actually used 1/4 cup of Coconut nectar and some splenda) your choice as to which sweetener to use

1/3 cup of cocoa powder

mini fillo shells (Athens brand)

mori-nu soft silken tofu and Athens mini fillo shells

mori-nu soft silken tofu and Athens mini fillo shells

To Prepare

Place all the ingredients in a blender or food process and combine. Be sure to blend thoroughly to be sure that all ingredients are mixed well. Pour the ingredients in a container and chill for about a half hour if you can wait that long.  With a spoon, fill the shells with the pudding, top with fruit, cayenne, nuts or chocolate or add them all. You might even use some whipped cream on top too!  You will absolutely enjoy this!

tofu chocolate pudding in fillo cups

tofu chocolate pudding in fillo cups

tofu chocolate pudding in fillo cups with strawberry

tofu chocolate pudding in fillo cups with strawberry

Nari's Favorite Tamago or Japanese-style rolled omelet

Tamagoyaki or just simply Tamago, is an egg dish and preparation that is native to Japan and extremely popular there.  Tamagoyaki means "fried egg" and the short name Tamago just means "egg".  Tamago is a staple you would find in most homes and is standard fare for bento boxes. Bento is usually a single portion takeout or home-packed meal. I equate it with a boxed lunch in America although what's inside is really quite different. 

Tamagoyaki

Tamagoyaki

Our lovely female cat named Nari loves this stuff as much as we do and that's why I gave it this name. I think she knows when I'm making it because she is right there in the kitchen assisting me as I cook.  Nari is always happy to taste test too! If you decide to venture into making this dish I am sure you will come to love it like we do.

Our lovely cat Nari

Our lovely cat Nari

To Make Tamago

Ingredients

8 - 10 eggs

3 TBL seasoned soy sauce (more or less to taste)

3 TBL mirin (more or less to taste)

1 packet Splenda or a tablespoon of sugar

cooking spray

Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl whisking till everything is combined thoroughly.  Use a small to medium sized pan or use a Kotobuki Tamagoyaki Japanese Omelette Pan. Click here and Check this one out! The pan I use is an extremely seasoned pan and has a nice non-stick surface. It isn't a tradition tamago pan but I've gotten really used to using it and it produces great results. Having a tamago pan isn't absolutely necessary but might be a nice addition to your kitchen pans and utensils. 

The technique to make Tamago is one I encourage you to work at.  Persistence is quite worthy and so very worth it in the end. To begin with, pour a medium thin layer of egg in the pan allowing the mixture to cook so that the egg becomes somewhat firm and omelet-like. Now its rollable. To roll the omelette use a metal spatula at one end and fold over the edge. Continue folding it over so you create the beginning of a roll.

Rolling Tamago

Rolling Tamago

When you finish making this first roll, push it to one side of the pan near its edge, spray the exposed part of the pan and add more of the raw egg to continue layering more egg to the initial roll you started.  As the egg continues to cook and begins to get firm, continue rolling.  By doing this you are building up the egg roll so it becomes larger.

layering the Tamago

layering the Tamago

Keep doing this till the egg layering is about 2 inches thick.  Set it aside on a large plate to cool.  Begin the process again to make a new tamago roll.  Depending on how many eggs you use will make a difference in how many rolls get made.  I believe that two eggs can make one nicely sized tamago.  Once all rolls are prepared and cooled, you can take a bamboo mat roller to form them into rectangular shapes.  This is a traditional component to making tamago but I must admit that I don't do it.  Seems it works out just fine without that step although I'm sure my Japanese friends might think otherwise. Then, once the rolls have cooled some, cut them into 4 to 6 pieces. You now have Japanese style egg Kansai style. (which is the sweeter variety) In Tokyo, people make tamago without the sweetener. They enjoy a more savory style egg.  I suggest you go lightly on the sweetener because to me, a little goes a long way.

Tamago 

Tamago 

 

Garlic Cauliflower Bread sticks

These bread sticks have absolutely no wheat in them so they aren't officially a bread stick.  They are in keeping with a plant strong and lower carbohydrate lifestyle.  I think they emulate the real thing quite nicely especially if you are open-minded.  You can pick them up in your hand and dip them in marinara sauce just like a bread stick but you could also use a fork if you want.  Serve them with marinara sauce along with your favorite red wine. This dish is great as an appetizer or a light meal. You could serve with soup or a salad too. I think you will agree that they stand on their own really well and have great flavor. 

Cliff holding cauliflower_web.jpg


Ingredients:

2 cups cooked, riced cauliflower*

1 egg or the equivalent in egg whites 

1 TBL flax seed meal - I get Bob's Redmill from Whole Foods

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1 tsp oregano

4 Basil leaves chopped or chiffonade cut

2 tsp parsley

2 rounded tsp garlic (fresh or jarred variety)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then steam or microwave the cauliflower so that it is al dente in texture.  It will have a chance to cook further once its combined with all the other ingredients. Put cauliflower in a food processor and process till it takes on a rice-like consistency. Move the cauliflower to a large bowl. Then, lightly spray a casserole dish about 9 x 13 size and set aside. Combine the rest of the ingredients with the cauliflower rice to create a nice thick consistency that will be easy to press in the casserole dish. You don't want this to be runny but considering the ingredients I don't think this will pose a problem.  Press the cauliflower mixture to about 1-1/2 inches deep in the pan.  Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until you see some nice browning on the top. Let the dish cool for 15 minutes and then loosen the mixture with a spatula around the edges.  Be very careful because now you will need to transfer the cauliflower from the casserole dish to a cookie sheet for cutting and additional baking. The best approach minus any kitchen disaster is to flip the cauliflower mixture on to the cookie sheet. I'm happy to report that mine slipped nicely from the pan to the cookie sheet. This is what it should look like.

Garlicy Cauliflower1web.jpg

If you have a pizza cutter I recommend slicing through the cauliflower dough across its length to make normal looking breadsticks.  I got about 5 or 6 slices lengthwise. If you don't have a pizza cutter then use a serrated knife. Cut across the width in order to make bread sticks that are easy to handle.  Three cuts width-wise will do it.  Before slightly separating each stick for further browning add a little more mozzarella  or parmesan cheese if you want some extra cheesy goodness.  I did this and its worth it. Now, slightly separate each piece. You can then put your oven on broil and continue cooking till the top of the sticks are browned about 2 to 3 minutes.  Watch them as it won't take very long. Once they are done, plate them and serve with marinara sauce.  I use Newman's brand marinara but feel free to use your favorite or homemade variety.  

Garlicy Cauliflower bread sticks

Garlicy Cauliflower bread sticks