Category Archives: vegan appetizers

Appetizer Finale/Cream cheese and Vegan Alternatives/Liver and Mock Liver Pâté

Hello all! Despite the order in the name of this blog, family comes first, hence the long hiatus since my last post.
I nearly simply ended my series on appetizers, but since the last was ready and the most simple, I decided to go with it.

I personally prefer to use Neufchatel, which is “light” cream cheese, but you can use any cream cheese or ‘vegan cream cheese’ made of tofu, “Go Veggie” and “Follow You Heart” which is a mix containing soy, “Daiya” brand non-dairy, non-soy alternative, (to name a few). Any of these can be easily used for any of these recipes, or in any ideas of your own to make vegan or gluten-free appetizers.

Commercial cream cheese spreads come in very many flavors. You can find sweet versions mixed with strawberry, honey, honey and nut, pineapple and even chocolate. Savory versions include chive, dill, garden vegetable and salmon, which is more versatile than you might imagine.

Along with prepared cream cheese, dips, such as spinach and bacon-and-horseradish, can be used sparingly in appetizers. These have a looser consistency and must be contained within an appetizer or spread thinly.
Of course, you can mix any flavors of your own preference into a plain base, or use the pre-made ones on their own. However, these are so simple, a little imagination added along with a few unusual flavor combinations will make a big hit with family and guests.

Cream cheese and vegan cream cheese based appetizers are so easy and versatile!

Cream cheese and vegan cream cheese based appetizers are so easy and versatile!

Pictured above are:
Salmon Cream cheese on toast round with sliced olive, dried cranberry and a pear wedge
[Dip white-fleshed fruit, such as pear and apple, in lemon or other citrus-based soda, or pineapple juice to slow discoloration]
Salmon cream cheese in mission figs topped with smoked almond, pear piece and dried cranberry
Chive cream cheese on crackers, topped with sliced, jarred sweet pepper and nut (A candied walnut is shown, but a pecan, hazelnut or almond, whether plain , spiced or candied would work)
Chive cream cheese in celery topped with black olive, cranberry, nuts
Pepperoni roll with chive cream cheese or spinach dip
Baby spinach leaves with spinach dip, with or without nuts,(plain almonds, walnuts or pecans)

A recipe that was requested but that I hesitated to add was for my Liver Pâté. I will also add my vegan Mock Liver Pâté recipe. These can be a nice addition to any appetizer plate, be they spread on crackers, (topped with sour cream, cheeses or vegan alternatives, put into fresh spinach or romaine leaves slices of apple or stuffed into mission figs! Try it!)

Liver Pâté/Mock Liver Pâté
8 oz chicken liver, sautéed until just done OR 10 oz walnuts simmered until tender, either cooked with ¼ cup sliced onion
2 Tbsp. dried parsley
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1/8 tsp turmeric (optional)
1/4 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp garlic granules or powder, (NOT garlic salt)
Adjust all flavorings to taste. Chill before use.

One final word on appetizers: remember to keep the few hot appetizers I mentioned in the series as warm as possible, on a hotplate or in an electric skillet if possible. Keep all cold appetizers as cool as possible. Place some out at a time while leaving other refrigerated, or place them on plates or trays on larger trays of ice.

I do so hope this series has whetted your appetite for appetizers and that you will serve them with confidence, whether they be some of the recipes or suggestions that I offered, or some that you were inspired to make on your own.

Do you have any questions?

Appetizers VIII; Custards,HUmmus, Couscous/Vegan

After too long of a break, we continue our series on appetizers. I have saved some of the most impressive ones for these last two post for the time being. I will give you a few unusual flavor combinations to try, or to spark your imagination for other combinations.

Although the next and,(for this series, the last), posts will feature possibly the easiest, the ones here today may take a little more time, but can be made ahead of time. In fact, it’s necessary.

We have already discussed making or buying hummus [December 13, 2014 Archive ] and polenta [January 4, 2015 Archive ], which are contained in the appetizers pictured. I have not discussed couscous, which is made of granules of semolina, (wheat), and can either be steamed or boiled to a softened-but-still-firm consistency. I often buy it made with vegetables, much like garden pasta, which makes a tasty and colorful alternative side dish to potatoes, rice and pasta. More couscous recipes will be in upcoming posts.

Some of the appetizers you see here today contain custard. Simple custard is made by a ratio of 1 large egg to 1 cup of milk (of any type, cow, almond, etc.), and baked in a slow/moderate oven, (325F), in glass or ceramic baking vessels. These need to be surrounded by water halfway up their sides , placed in a larger vessel of any oven-proof material.

Since simple custard is very “eggy”, other ingredients must be added. For a sweet custard, sugar, stevia, honey or other sweetener must be added, and can be made with many other flavorings. Most often, vanilla extract is added, but lemon or orange zest, coconut, nutmeg or almost any flavor that will not dilute the egg-milk ratio will work. Too much more liquid, and your custard will not “set”, which is to become firm. On the other hand, adding pre-cooked rice, (which is also good in the sweetened versions), will have little effect on the texture. Ground nuts, seed or coconut are also acceptable additives.

However, for savory recipes, you want your custard to noy

After too long of a break, we continue our series on appetizers. I have saved some of the most impressive ones for these last two post for the time being. I will give you a few unusual flavor combinations to try, or to spark your imagination for other combinations.

Although the next and,(for this series, the last), posts will feature possibly the easiest, the ones here today may take a little more time, but can be made ahead of time. In fact, it’s necessary.

We have already discussed making or buying hummus [ ] and polenta [ ], which are contained in the appetizers pictured. I have not discussed couscous, which is made of granules of semolina, (wheat), and can either be steamed or boiled to a softened-but-still-firm consistency. I often buy it made with vegetables, much like garden pasta, which makes a tasty and colorful alternative side dish to potatoes, rice and pasta. More couscous recipes will be in upcoming posts.

Some of the appetizers you see here today contain custard. Simple custard is made by a ratio of 1 large egg to 1 cup of milk (of any type, cow, almond, etc.), and baked in a slow/moderate oven, (325F), in glass or ceramic baking vessels. These need to be surrounded by water halfway up their sides , placed in a larger vessel of any oven-proof material.

Since simple custard is very “eggy”, other ingredients must be added. For a sweet custard, sugar, stevia, honey or other sweetener must be added, and can be made with many other flavorings. Most often, vanilla extract is added, but lemon or orange zest, coconut, nutmeg or almost any flavor that will not dilute the egg-milk ratio will work. Too much more liquid, and your custard will not “set”, which is to become firm. On the other hand, adding pre-cooked rice, (which is also good in the sweetened versions), will have little effect on the texture. Ground nuts, seed or coconut are also acceptable additives.

However, for savory recipes, you want your custard to not be sweet, so you will add salt and then, again, any herbs or dry, (or dry-ish), vegetables that strike your fancy. Sautéed onions or shallots are a good choice, or dehydrated peppers or tomatoes. Maybe you’d prefer herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary or thyme, (I don’t recommend them together!), or lemon zest. You can also add a little cheese before baking, but cut back just a bit on the milk.

Test for doneness as you would a cake. Insert a knife into the middle of the custard. When the knife blade comes out clean, your custard is done. The time depends on the size of your containers. One-cup capacity can be done in as little as 40 minutes; a large container can take up to an hour and a half. But never go by time alone.

I have not yet experimented with these myself, but I am assured that quite good vegan versions of custard can be made in several ways, at any level of cooking expertise.

Easy: Silken tofu or heavy, canned coconut milk * blended with a small amount of coconut oil, then chilled

Moderate: Almond or coconut milk blended with tapioca powder or arrowroot ,( plus flavorings), baked as above.

Nuts, (especially cashews), puréed with a little coconut oil or heavy, canned coconut milk*

Advanced: Pastry cream made of coconut or nut milks. This is cooked by whisking over a double boiler with water, salt, flour and cornstarch.

[* NOTE: Coconut milk in cartons is too thin for the quick custards which have this notation. Several types and brands of canned coconut milk are available. Although I generally choose the types that ‘slosh’ when I shake the cans, you want the ones that seem solid when you shake them. Do not use “Cream of Coconut”, as this is far too sweet.]

For the appetizers here, I used cooled custard, and put them together easily with purchased, premade filo cups and rye flatbread.

Filo custard cups, which are vegan, sometime come in grocery freezer cases, but if you will be using them quickly, refrigeration is not necessary as they are prebaked and ready-to-fill. Flatbread, which is also vegan, comes in packages in the cracker aisle. It comes in several flavors made from several types of grain. It also come in long pieces which I just snapped off with irregular edges. Since there is no way to cut them evenly, let’s say that it lends a certain handmade charm to the appetizers.(That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) You can use any type of non-sweet cracker, gluten-free cracker or even corn chips.

Appetizers featuring Hummus, Couscous and Custard make an imaginative and impressive array

Appetizers featuring Hummus, Couscous and Custard make an imaginative and impressive array

Pictured are :

Pepper-Jack cheese melted over polenta in filo cup, feel free to use vegan ‘cheese’

Pepper-Jack cheese melted over couscous in filo cup, topped with a slice of black olive

Herbed rice custard in filo cup topped with an herbed tomato slice

Hot Pepper custard in filo cups with salmon cream cheese, topped with apple and bacon; vegan “bacon” can easily be substituted.

Hummus in filo cup topped with sautéed mixed vegetables

Hummus with toasted coconut in filo cup topped with toasted sesame seeds

Hummus with pistachio on flatbread

Hummus with coconut on flatbread

Herbed custard rice with herbed tomato on flatbread

Salmon cream cheese with cashew and apple on rye flatbread
(More on using cream cheeses in the next post.)

Of course, you should know by now that none of these combinations are absolutes. Try mixing and matching textures and flavors, herbs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and anything that strikes your fancy. If you like it, try serving it!

Any comments?

be sweet, so you will add salt and then, again, any herbs or dry, (or dry-ish), vegetables that strike your fancy. Sautéed onions or shallots are a good choice, or dehydrated peppers or tomatoes. Maybe you’d prefer herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary OR thyme, (I don’t recommend them together!), or lemon zest. You can also add a little cheese before baking, but cut back just a bit on the milk.
Test for doneness as you would a cake. Insert a knife into the middle of the custard. When the knife blade comes out clean, your custard is done. The time depends on the size of your containers. One-cup capacity can be done in as little as 40 minutes; a large container can take up to an hour and a half. But never go by time alone.
I have not yet experimented with these myself, but I am assured that quite good vegan versions of custard can be made in several ways.
Easy: Silken tofu or heavy, canned coconut milk * blended with a small amount of coconut oil, then chilled
Moderate: Almond or coconut milk blended with tapioca powder or arrowroot ,( plus flavorings), baked as above.
Nuts, (especially cashews), puréed with a little coconut oil or heavy, canned coconut milk*
Advanced: Pastry cream made of coconut or nut milks. This is cooked by whisking over a double boiler with water, salt, flour and cornstarch.
[* Coconut milk in cartons is too thin for the quick custards which have this notation. Several types and brands of canned coconut milk are available. Although I generally choose the types that ‘slosh’ when I shake the cans, you want the ones that seem solid when you shake them. Do not use “Cream of Coconut”, as this is far too sweet.]
For the appetizers here, I used cooled custard, and put them together easily with purchased, premade filo cups and rye flatbread.
Filo custard cups, which are vegan, sometime come in grocery freezer cases, but if you will be using them quickly, refrigeration is not necessary as they are prebaked and ready-to-fill. Flatbread, which is also vegan, comes in packages in the cracker aisle. It comes in several flavors made from several types of grain. It also come in long pieces which I just snapped off with irregular edges. Since there is no way to cut them evenly, let’s say that it lends a certain handmade charm to the appetizers.(That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) You can use any type of non-sweet cracker, gluten-free cracker or even corn chips.
Pictured are :
Pepper-Jack cheese melted over polenta in filo cup, feel free to use vegan ‘cheese’
Pepper-Jack cheese melted over couscous in filo cup, topped with a slice of black olive.
Herbed rice custard in filo cup topped with an herbed tomato slice
Hot Pepper custard in filo cups with salmon cream cheese, topped with apple and bacon; vegan “bacon” can easily be substituted.
Hummus in filo cup topped with sautéed mixed vegetables
Hummus with toasted coconut in filo cup topped with toasted sesame seeds
Hummus with pistachio on flatbread
Hummus with coconut on flatbread
Herbed custard rice with herbed tomato on flatbread
Salmon cream cheese with cashew and apple on rye flatbread
(More on using cream cheeses in the next post.)
Of course, you should know by now that none of these combinations are absolutes. Try mixing and matching textures and flavors, herbs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and anything that strikes your fancy. If you like it, try serving it!
Any comments?

Appetizers VII-Potatoes and Rice/Leftovers

Easy potato-based appetizers

Easy potato-based appetizers

Appetizers from left-overs? It’s possible. What you need to start are mashed potatoes.
(If you don’t know how to make your own, please see You Can Do It, December 10, 2012 Archive)

Many are vegetarian, many can be made as vegan. All can be made gluten-free.

Sautée sweet peppers, (multicolored are nice but not necessary), and a little onion, green onion, leeks or shallots. Add paprika and parsley. If you have a favorite herb, you can use it sparingly. Add a little flour,(may use rice flour), and an egg, to help make them firm enough to be picked-up. But the egg is optional if you want to ‘go vegan’. A little more flour and a little longer cooking time will be necessary. Or you can place them on a cracker, a piece of fresh endive, romaine or spinach.

To make them hold their shape, form the potatoes into small, flat patties and fry them slowly on medium-low heat until they are lightly browned on each side and are very firm.

Top them with anything you’d  like.

Examples are :
Bacon or Tofurkey
Grape or cherry tomatoes
Herbed cream cheese, sour cream  or vegan sour cream; (may add nuts)
More sautéed or pickled peppers
Any left-over vegetable dish,(above has Spinach Bake

These are hearty, more party-food fare,but  they will keep your guests satisfied if the night is long or the meal delayed.

Spinach Bake

2 packages frozen spinach, thawed and well-drained  or
equivalent in fresh spinach which has been blanched,(Submerged in boiling water until limp)
4-6 eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Optional:
2Tbsp. sautéed onions
1 Tbsp Parsley

Mix well. Place in buttered casserole dish.

OPTIONAL TOPPING: [Omit if going Gulten-free or to avoid carbohydrates]
4 oz melted butter
1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs(I prefer half-Italian and half-plain mixed)
or
plain breadcrumbs with
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp. basil
1tsp marjoram
1 tsp. oregano (optional)

Mix butter and crumbs. Spread over the top of the spinach mix and bake at 375F  just until  set.(A knife inserted into the middle will come out clean)

I developed this recipe one day at my bakery/restaurant when we ran low on vegetable dishes during a Sunday dinner carry-out rush.I have had many requests for it.It was popular with my clients when I was a personal chef and is big with my family.  Served hot, it makes a great side dish, but cold and cubed, it makes a great appetizer.

Sampling of Spinach Bake and  Mixed Rice appetizers

Sampling of Spinach Bake and Mixed Rice appetizers

On the plate above, we have not only,chilled, cubed Spinach Bake topped with lightly herbed  mashed potatoes, but it is also stuffed into halved grape tomatoes.

Some of the gape tomatoes are filled with the mashed potato mixture recipe above, of course, without the eggs.

One of the white mixtures pictured is a quick chicken salad made with left over chicken breast,(baked, rotisserie or roasted).A little grated onion and celery,or just onion powder and celery salt with paprika. Mix into mayonnaise or veganaise and add to shredded chicken; it works beautifully .Add pecan pieces, hazelnuts, pistachios or walnuts and you have a truly special filling for tomatoes, olives or to be rolled into romaine leaves.

 

The other white mixture is cooked rice mixed with paprika, turmeric and celery salt. You can add parsley and, again, nuts,to add a spark. (Roasted or wasabi almonds add a bigger spark.) Mix with a slight amount of cream, coconut or almond milk enough to make it stick together somewhat.

You should always have a can or jar of black olives in your cabinet, and possibly some pre-made filo cups,(more with them next time), but they aren’t necessary. Tomatoes may not be in season or just not in your refrigerator . A slice of cucumber will work, as will an inch-and-a- half piece of celery or leaves of any lettuce or bok choy. And you can always use  bread or toast squares/triangles using any type: white, wheat, pumpernickel, rye, oat…whatever you have,
plus any type of cracker. You can even use chips, if they are big enough and curved enough to hold filling and be picked up.

Just be certain that your left-overs are fresh and your offerings kept cold.

Any questions? Just a few more posts to go in the series of appetizers.

I hope you have found some among them that you can use.

 

 

 

Appetizers VI/Polenta-based

I hope that everyone had a safe and wonderful holiday season and that the New Year finds all of you well and happy. Appetizers know no season.

As we continue with the appetizer theme, I will offer some that are all are gluten-free and can be made vegan. [By the way, did you know that Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies are vegan?]

Today our base is polenta:

Pictured below are:
Cooled stiff polenta with sautéed peppers , onions and parsley,  made into patties and lightly fried. They are topped with hummus,(see previous post),
Herbed mashed potatoes,
Herbed sour cream or cream cheese, (silken tofu or vegan sour cream can be substituted),or
Baby corn marinated ,and broccoli dipped, in Italian salad dressing
Pepperoni and provolone
I also show stiff polenta wrapped in turkey bacon,( you can use vegan bacon) and
Wrapped in cheese.

I also show the marinated baby corn and dipped , cooked broccoli wrapped in cheese, as well.

Polenta can make delicate to hearty appetizers

Polenta can make delicate to hearty appetizers

Polenta is basically cornmeal, not to be confused with grits, which are…grittier. Grits use a courser-grind of cornmeal.
Polenta can and has been confused, however, with ” mush“. which is cornmeal cooked in water and salt  alone,(basic polenta). In the southern parts of the U.S., it is usually cooked to full stiffness, cooled, then sliced and pan-fried; it is often served with syrup.

(Shortly after I moved to Kentucky, I left polenta and a pan of sausage sauce at a dinner at church.Before I could get back down to the kitchen, the women there had taken my sauce and added it to someone else’s barbequed cocktail wieners.They  misunderstood me as I had rushed out …they thought that I was bringing caramel sauce back for the “mush”.  What I made  was eaten very quickly by the Locals, who were glad to see ‘mush’ offered, but I was advised that I should have fried it before serving! My sons wondered who cooked like me when they ate the wieners.)

Polenta often has cheese or herbs added to it while cooking.One can even add well-cooked vegetables to the mix; common ones are onions, peppers, broccoli.

You can , in some areas, buy polenta mixes or pre-made polenta in tubes, which are often in the freezer case of your supermarket.

Making it from scratch is easy:

Basic Polenta

1 part corn meal (not self-rising!)
4 parts water

which means  use one-half cup of water to two cups of water; one cup of cornmeal to four cups,(one quart), of water;  two cups of cornmeal to  eight cups,( two quarts),  of water, etc.

Add at least 2 tsp. salt per cup of cornmeal

Bring the water to a boil and slowly add the cornmeal to keep it from lumping. (I advise using a wire whisk.)

You can add parsley, grated cheese,(I always add a little  grated Parmesan), plus onion or garlic powder, saffron , turmeric or any savory herb that you would like at this point; add any well-cooked vegetables at the end.

Stir continually over a medium high heat until your polenta is at a desired consistency…you want it very stiff to make appetizers.

You can leave the polenta for a few minutes if the heat is on low and you get right back and whisk it thoroughly. (Many Italian cooks would consider that last statement heresy, but it works.)

It’s a little more work but they should be made ahead of time and chilled. They could be made days ahead of time.

I have a few more samples to show you.I hope they inspire your own tatses.

 

Appetizers V/Stuffed Cold Cuts, Tofurkey/Marinated Mozzarella, Tofu

These heartier, filling "appetizers" should be used to fill a spot when a meal is missed.

These heartier, filling “appetizers” should be used to fill a spot when a meal is missed.

In Appetizers IV, I gave a few heartier version of what is a bit more than an actual “appetizer” should be, and here are a few more! These should be used more as a latter offering to take the place of a small meal, rather than as a pre-meal appetite-whetter.

Using Hummus as I spoke about in my last post, I added to it sautéed peppers in some cases, peppers and onions in others and sautéed mixed vegetables in others.

Simply take over-lapping layers of finely sliced deli turkey or chicken,( oven-roasted, mesquite or Cajun are best), roast beef,(add a little prepared horseradish sauce to the mix), or spiced ham. Add a dollop of prepared hummus and fold the ends of the meats over the top, close with a toothpick. If you can get Tofurkey, (soy-based meat substitute), or Seitan,(a wheat-based one), large enough and thin enough, it should work as well.
I used the same principle here with cooked Spinach leaves, You could substitute romaine or endive, instead.

I first blanched the Peapods, (plunge then into boiling water until just wilted),or you could steam them until tender. Slit the top without going through to the bottom and fill with humus prepared as you wish.

The Cheese Balls are fresh Mozzarella that I purchased at my local grocery store. I drained them,(they come in small tubs of brine), and marinated them in a mix of olive oil with a dash of balsamic vinegar,(you could use any type, but I suggest if not balsamic, then apple cider vinegar.
(Any nut oil would work well, too, instead of olive.) To the mix I added: garlic, salt, basil, marjoram, parsley, rosemary and black pepper. You could use “Italian Seasoning”, which is basically the same mix, and/or add oregano.(or use any combination of the above.) let them sit is a tightly –sealed container for at least days in your refrigerator. Turn the container twice a day. These will last for weeks in your refrigerator, so they are easy to make ahead. You can add black olives to the container as well. Drain to serve. (You can use the marinade to mix with Neufchatel or cream cheese to fill the olives, or use for other, upcoming appetizer recipes.

Use cubes of firm Tofu for a vegan-version.

I do hope his series is giving you ideas and courage to serve your guests and families.

 

Appetizers IV-Stuffed Mini-Peppers/Hummus/Fresh Fruit

Colorful Stuffed Mini-peppers are as delicious as they are cute

Colorful Stuffed Mini-peppers are as delicious as they are cute

 
Colorful Stuffed Mini-peppers are as delicious as they are cute
Mini-peppers are now readily available in most supermarkets in the U.S. I find them in bags of red, yellow and orange mixed. They have a very sweet and gentle flavor and are beautiful in salads or sautéed in butter or oil and added to any vegetable, pasta, grain or rice dish. Roasted gently in the oven, they can be slit and seeded, then stuffed and made into lovely, somewhat heartier, appetizers. Fresh fruit served with these is a bit of a respite from the heaviness of them.
[TIP: To keep non-citrus fruit fresh,dip them in citrus-fruit juice,(lemon or lime are very tart; I like to use pineapple or grapefruit juice), or any citrus-based soda, such as lemon-line (Sprite) or Mountain Dew.]

The peppers above are just a tiny example of what one can do with the darling vegetables.
Above I have some meat-filled with taco-ground beef and cheddar cheese. Others are filled with cream cheese with parsley chives, onion powder and topped with crumbled bacon.
One has spiced pork, (cooked pork ground with a hint of cloves and nutmeg, or you can do herbed pork with fennel, parsley and chives). You can use finely chopped beef mixed with prepared horseradish; top with a cherry tomato half.

Sauté tiny shrimp with leeks, (shallots or chives), thinly sliced celery and cooked spinach and use the mix to stuff some.

The others are stuffed with Roasted Chickpeas [Garbanzo beans], or hummus.
You may use canned, cooked chickpeas, (or to cook your own, see my August 24, 2012 post: You Know Beans.)

Place cooked beans on a baking sheet and roast in a 375F oven for approximately 10 minutes, stir to turn and cook for about 8 more. Crush these and mix with crushed pistachios, almonds, preferably smoked…or my new obsession, wasabi almonds. Fill the roasted peppers.

If you don’t know hummus, it is a food made from ground chickpeas and usually tahini, which is a roasted sesame-seed paste. You may use any of the prepared bands, as hummus has become quite common as a dip in the U.S., and much of the rest of the Western parts or the world, (the East always knew its glory.) There are many brands,(beware, one does not mix as well with other foods as it contains a great deal of chili powder in its ‘regular’ formula).Many types are to be found with roasted garlic, tomatoes, etc. You can use these, but I make my own with a slight change; I use sesame seeds instead of tahini. Feel free to try this using canned chickpeas.

My Hummus [Vegan, gluten-free]
½ pound of chickpeas cooked in a slow-cooker with
1 Tbsp. of Olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp. finely diced onion
½ tsp white pepper
3X water to cover the chickpeas
When the chickpeas are soft, reserve some water and drain the rest. I run them through a food processor, then add:
2 Tbsp olive oil,
salt to taste
2 tsp. crushed garlic
½-2/3 cup white sesame seeds
I process them again until completely smooth, and add more of the reserved cooking water if too dry.
For the peppers in the photo, I added chopped, sautéed vegetable mixed, as described in “Appetizers II”.

I do hope that you try any of the above combinations, or any of your own.

 

Appetizers III Savory Fruit/ Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Vegan-optional

“Savory” and “Fruit” may not come to mind as being compatible, but when it comes to appetizers,the combination is perfect. Sweet and spicy or tart, plus pairing of textures, give a surprise spark to the taste buds and leave  guests wanting to experience more.

Stuffed dates, figs  and grilled pineapple make wonderfully surprising  appetizers

Stuffed dates, figs and grilled pineapple make wonderfully surprising appetizers

The stuffed dates, figs, apricots and grilled fruits above are quite easy and quite eye-catching.

To start, the easiest:

Grilled fruit:
Heat butter in a frying pan until slightly brown. Add slices of firm fruit, such as pineapple, peach, pear, plum,  apple, apricot.

On high heat, brown quickly on each side.You may sprinkle with spices, such as nutmeg or cloves, or you can go  hot, with a little white pepper, ginger, Indian  hot pepper, (be careful!) or paprika. Sugar is unnecessary as the caramelization of the fruit sugar in the pan-frying makes them particularly sweet.

Skewer with a toothpick.

Stuffed Dried Mission figs: slit, filled with hazelnut-chocolate spread,(Nutella), a smoked or wasabi almond, glazed walnut or any of the suggestions below.

 Stuffed Dates and Apricots
With a short,sharp knife, slit the fruit and open the cavity gently with a dull knife, (or a clean finger!), and insert any of the following:

sweet coconut, with or without nuts, or dried fruit bits,(mango, pineapple, crasins, cherries,(dried or Maraschino),

or with sweet cheese [ricotta, mascarpone or Neufchatel mixed with honey, sugar, stevia or other sweetener, plain or with the options of  nuts and/or spices, such as nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, etc. Silken tofu or “vegan cream cheese” can be used as well.]

Top these with a piece of dried fruit or  nuts.

These will also have to be skewered or placed in candy paper cups, or , easier, mini cupcake papers.

 

Note: Pre-made sweet coconut can be used or prepared with stevia or other sweetener as I suggested in the NuNaturals promo post of September 11, 2014.  Although I developed those recipes with  the product  in mind, ANY stevia product or sweetener of choice can be used. (I found that wasabi almonds are a fantastic mix with sweet coconut…I can’t get enough of the combination!)

Please see all of the September 11 post for more (sugar free)  sweet appetizer ideas.
Again, please feel free to use
  ANY sweetener of your choice.

It’s crunch-time for the holidays.I will post again in a day or two to get in as many appetizers as I can before most of the holiday season.

 

 

Appetizers II

I am quickly going to get out the promised appetizers here for the holiday season, although they can be useful at any time. All of these are gluten-free,low-carb and all are vegetarian; they can be made dairy-free and vegan.

A selection of appetizers

A selection of appetizers

The selection pictured above go from a little preparation to pull-‘em-out-of-a-jar. I simply stuck toothpicks in jarred pimento-stuffed green olives and those are fine for an addition to a plate, but please, don’t just serve those!
The tomatoes I prepped with a melon baller:

A handy tool:the melon baller

A handy tool:the melon baller

(A famous TV chef recently described this item as a “mini ice cream scoop”!)

The tool is used to ‘ball’ melons, but they also make a useful tool to hollow-out grape and cherry tomatoes.

The grape tomatoes above to the right in the picture are miniature versions of my Italian Baked Tomatoes [ October 15, 2012 archive], served on fresh spinach leaves.

The cherry tomatoes in the middle and the black olives to the lower right in the photo are stuffed with herbed cream cheese. I use Neufchatel, (reduced fat cream cheese) and usually add a few drops of olive or any nut oil, then I add herbs. “Vegan cream cheese” or silken tofu can be substituted for the Neufchatel cheese.

Some suggestions to mix into the filling are:
Italian seasoning , or mix any of the following{ parsley, marjoram, basil, garlic, oregano
Thyme and cracked pepper
Ground rosemary and parsley
Chives, celery salt, turmeric,paprika
Onion and pepper flakes
Cilantro and ancho powder,(be careful!)
Mesquite
Celery seed and saffron
Dill weed
Or use flavored, spreadable cream cheese from your grocer. Kraft has everything from pineapple to smoked salmon and everything in between. You can do the stuffing!

The black olives to the left in the picture have marinated chick peas (garbanzo beans) in them. Prepare as directed,{ You Know Beans, August 24, 2012 archive),or use drained, canned chickpeas. Marinate in olive oil and your choice of herbs or in Italian salad dressing for at least 3 hours .Drain and push into pitted olives.

The grape tomatoes to the left in the picture are fresh and filled with a vegetable mix that is easy and very useful. I served them on pieces of Romaine lettuce.
Frankly, I am not sure what was in that particular mix! I often fully cook whatever vegetables I have in the house,(at least 5-7 of them) along with some herbs and spices.

Use any or all of these, chopped finely:
Onion, chives, leeks and/or shallots
Celery, swiss chard, Romaine or any type of lettuce
Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach,
Bok choy, Chinese, red and/or green cabbage
Carrots, turnips, parsnips
Sweet peppers
Yellow squash and or zucchini
Green and/or wax beans, (canned or fresh)
Garlic
Opt: Parsley, ginger, celery seed, turmeric, paprika, salsify, saffron, thyme

Cook in olive oil or nut oil, stirring often. This mixture is very useful and makes a wonderful spread when mixed with cream cheese, silken tofu or to mix into or top hummus or polenta. (Recipes for both upcoming.)

I hope the picture and the recipes inspire you to try them or branch out on your own.
I will be posting more in quick succession.
Any questions?

Guest: Author Patricia Kiyono /Antipasti

I promised appetizers and antipasti, but things have been hectic here at Casa di Familia, (The Family House), so when I saw that my friend and partner on another blog, Patricia Kiyono, posted a great recipe, I knew it would make wonderful antipasto. I asked her to do a guest spot to get  me up and running again and she has graciously obliged. Technically, these would be  the salada, not antipasti, but we’re not quibbling here!

So I will turn this over to my Friend, who will discuss Food and Family.

Thank you for lending me a hand,Patricia!

 

 

Although I read blogs of all kinds, the last place I ever expected to

write a guest post would be a food blog! I love to eat, but my time in the

kitchen is very limited. You see, my hubby and I have a rather unique

distribution of labor. Because of his work hours (3 AM to noon), he came

home long before I got done with my teaching job. And although I CAN

cook, it made more sense for him to prepare the meal and get it on the table

than wait for me to do it. So I’ve always done the cleanup.

Since he’s a mixture of Scottish, Dutch, and German, his idea of a

meal is meat and potatoes – and not much else. I need my veggies – for one

thing, my Japanese mom ALWAYS had lots of veggies on the table, and for

another thing, the heavy food did awful things to my waistline. So I learned

to prepare and keep a variety of veggies on hand that I can quickly assemble

when needed. Sometimes I make a bunch ahead of time. Tonette asked me to

share a few of my favorites. My go-to vegetables are cucumber and tomato,

so I’m sharing a few ways I serve them:

First, here’s a simple and delicious way to serve cucumbers. My mom

used to make this all the time. Cookbooks and online recipes call for

Japanese or Persian cucumbers (they’re skinnier and have fewer seeds), but

since specialty food stores weren’t around back when I grew up we used

regular ones, and it tastes just fine.

Sunomono:Japanese Cucumber Salad

Sunomono:Japanese Cucumber Salad

 

Sunomono (Japanese Cucumber Salad)

2 large cucumbers, sliced as thinly as possible

1 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons rice vinegar

1 Tablespoon sugar (or substitute)

¼ teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Sprinkle salt over cucumber slices and let sit for five minutes, then squeeze

out the water (I set them in a colander then cover with paper towel and push

down, but mom had a special veggie press like THIS ONE)

Mix rice vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce until sugar dissolves. Add to

cucumbers and top with sesame seeds. The picture here has wakame

seaweed added, which is also good – but I don’t always have wakame in the

house – it’s still good!

Doesn’t that sound easy? Another easy veggie that my kids love is

Caprese Salad, especially in the fall when our family and neighbors share

An Italian  Antipasti

An Italian Antipasti

their over-abundant gardens with us. I was first introduced to this delicious

and simple side dish when I went to Italy over 40 years ago.

Caprese Salad

1 large tomato cut in quarter-inch slices

4 to 6 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cut in quarter-inch slices

4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon olive oil

basil leaves

salt and pepper to taste

Arrange slices on a large plate or platter, alternating between tomato and

cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to

taste. Garnish with basil.

Really, nothing to it – and it’s delicious. I call it a non-recipe recipe.

So for a bigger challenge, try combining the tomato and cucumber in a

Greek salad. In 2008 my youngest daughter did a semester abroad while she

was in college, and she chose a program on the beautiful Greek island of

Paros. I brought a friend with me to visit (gotta make sure the kid is eating

right!), and we fell in love with the cuisine. And almost every day we had

one of these delicious, simple salads.

Patricia Kiyono's Greek  Salad

Patricia Kiyono’s Greek Salad

Greek Salad

(two large servings)

1 medium tomato, cut into cubes

1 small cucumber, peeled and cut into pieces similar to tomato

¼ medium red onion

¼ cup crumbled feta cheese

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

a bit of oregano

Most recipes call for kalamata olives, but since I don’t like those I leave

them out.

Combine veggies and cheese. Combine olive oil and vinegar and pour over

the top. Garnish with oregano.
I really hadn’t planned it this way, but I see that these recipes are from

three different countries I’ve visited and loved. And I noticed that the people

in these countries don’t suffer from obesity the way we do here. I’ve

skimmed through all sorts of articles about why Italy, Greece, and Japan

have fewer problems than Americans do, and I think it boils down to a

combination of diet and lifestyle. So now that I’ve adopted some of their

foods, all I have to do is copy the rest – as soon as I find some mountains to

climb, ruins to investigate, and canals to row through!

In addition to adding to my dinner menus, my travels have sparked

my imagination, resulting in some of my published romances. After visiting

Greece, I wrote Aegean Intrigue, published by Astraea Press in February

2012. And as a tribute to my Japanese heritage, I wrote The Samurai’s

Garden, published by Astraea Press in November 2012. I’d love it if you’d

click on the titles to learn more about them!

 

You  can learn more about Patricia and her work  at these sites:

Patricia Kiyono’s Author Website

Patricia Kiyono’s Author Blog

Patricia Kiyono’s Author Facebook

You can see more through Goodreads, Amazon, Astraea Press and she is with me at

Four Foxes, One Hound

(She’s the Monday Fox; I am the Friday Fox; we have a couple of other Foxes and a Hound there, as well! Please  drop in sometime.)

Again, thank you,Patricia Kiyono!

Back With New Recipes and A Give-Away!/NuNaturals Products

Dear Friends and Family,
I am so glad to be back with you and am touched by all of you who have kept in touch, commented or even to those of you who  took time to ‘like’ my posts. I send back the love!

I now find myself in need of revamping my diet to drastically reduce my carbohydrate intake. I have a couple of chronic health concerns that I have never let get me down,(and know that I have been extremely blessed not to have the complications many others experience), but my recent diagnosis of Type II Diabetes has thrown me for a loop.

I will continue to cook much of the way I had previously for others, and partake of most in modest portions. Let it be known that Diabetes is NOT caused by sugar consumption; I put mine down to genetics and possibly the fact that I became quite out-of-shape. It is not because I over-indulged in goodies or rich food, but the fact that I became sedentary because of the other health problems. That is the main reason why I took a long hiatus from this blog; I had many family concerns and a limited amount of energy  and, well… I thought of you, cooked and took pictures but even though the spirit was willing, the flesh was weak. Now, I have good care, more energy and am searching for more ways to enjoy food, friends and family.

This will not become a diabetic cooking blog. Nor will I often be touting products.
I have always stressed here the importance of being aware of people’s dietary needs and restrictions .I will continue to offer vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and other alternatives within many recipes, but I will continue to keep the blog ‘main-line’.

With new diagnoses and new medications, I am feeling very much better and am more active. Since I have a sweet tooth, cutting my sugar intake had been very hard on me. The American Diabetes Association suggests using sugar in moderation, I find that it takes up far too much of my carbohydrate ‘choices’. I missed my sweet teas and coffees most, since my carb allotments are better spent on good foods with carbs, such as fruit, grains, beans and legumes…(.and an occasional cookie or piece of cake!)

I’ve always believed that artificial sweeteners are detrimental to one’s health. Frankly, they give me headaches. Over the years I have searched for a natural sweetener for others who had problems with sugar, or who wanted to avoid white sugar, and for those who preferred more natural foods.

Many use honey, but that is not a wise choice for diabetics and also not for vegans. Many whole-food people use maple syrup. I cannot imagine having nearly everything taste of maple, and it, too, is a blood-sugar spiker.

Brown rice syrup was at one time touted as a good alternative for sugar in diabetic diets, but it was learned that it behaves in one’s system much like high-fructose corn syrup…again, not a good choice. Then everyone seemed to jump on the agave bandwagon, but it was found that it does spike blood-sugar and it can cause miscarriages . A time-tested natural sweetener that works so far for me is stevia.

Just as I feared I would be diagnosed with Type II diabetes, I entered a contest for NuNaturals on the blog “Bam’s Kitchen”  If you have not visited Bobbi Ann, please do yourself a favor. She is an American who lives in Hong Kong. Her recipes are wonderful, her stories are fun, her advice is sound and her pictures are beautiful. Go see her.BAM’S Kitchen

NuNaturals healthier alternatives

NuNaturals healthier alternatives

NuNaturals is a company of stevia-based products and they have been a blessing to me. This is the first contest I have ever offered and I would not do it if I had not won a generous amount of their products first, and tried them for myself. In their letter which arrived with my winnings, they offered me the opportunity to run a contest on my own blog. I immediately started trying the products and believe me, if I had not found them useful, I would not be offering them to you, and FOUR of you will win a package of four NuNatural products, plus a bonus gift. The contest is open to all,( world-wide), and everyone will get a 15% discount when ordering online with a discount code listed below. The discount is good until the end of the year,(2014).

NuNaturals stevia-based products are great! They are natural and free of artificial ingredients, including colors and flavors. The contain no Aspartame, Saccharine, Sucralose, High-fructose corn syrup, or sugar. They contain no soy, yeast, wheat, milk and gluten, so they are useable in almost every diet; diabetic, gluten-free, vegan, etc. It is made without preservatives and from no genetically-modified sources. The company prides itself on being “green”, which we can all feel good about.

Stevia is derived from the stevia plant and is highly sweet. It needs to be used sparingly and if you have experienced bitterness with it, you have probably used too much. If you resign yourself to a moderate, gentle sweetness, it is wonderful. However, it cannot always be substituted for granulated sugar in many recipes, since texture and volume are not the same. Still , I think that you will find the recipes I have developed using products from the NuNatural line will satisfy your need for sweetness without the carbs or calories of conventional sweeteners. NuNauturals has designed their products to reduce bitterness.

The contest is open world-wide and four winners will receive:
One 50-count box of NuStevia White Powder SteviaNuStevia 50 Packets Top Angle
One bottle of their New Cocoa SyrupNuStevia Cocoa Syrup
One bottle of their New Simple SyrupNuStevia Simple Syrup
One bottle of their incredible Cherry-Vanilla Stevia LiquidLiquid Cherry Vanilla
These four products have a full retail value of $54.00 plus, you will also receive
A Bonus Gift

The liquids and syrups are very concentrated and a small amount goes a very long way. Still, I asked Ron Redding , the “Sugar-Free Poppa” of NuNaturals, if they would be offering smaller sample bottles and he assures me that the idea is already in the works. I encourage you to look for them in the near future and experiment with their wonderful flavors.

I also have a bottle of their Mint Cocoa Syrup, Lemon Stevia Liquid, Mint Stevia Liquid, Orange Stevia Liquid and a jar of their NuStevia No-Carb Blend, and I love them all.
My NuNaturals arrived with a sheaf of recipes, too. In keeping with the theme of this blog, I will offer a number of easy no or lower-carb suggestions and recipes.(The NuNaturals stevia-based products are no-carb or have miniscule amounts which, when substituted for sugar and many other sweeteners, makes all of  the recipes ‘lower-carb’.)

One easy way to use NuNaturals is to substitute the Simple Syrup for honey or brown-sugar and water in my Chicken Wing Recipes,(January 2013 Archive).
I have every intention of substituting a little Stevia Powder in my Cranberry Relish (original recipe in the November 2012 Archives),
And I will be doing much more experimentation. In the meantime , I offer these mostly low-carb, simple recipes, including drinks, breakfast, snacks a main-dish, side dishes and dessert:

Easy Smoothie [Vegan; Gluten-free,Low Carb]

Banana Smoothie  with NuStevia

Banana Smoothie with NuStevia

I cup of Almond (or other) milk
½ banana, a peach, a plum, a ripe pear or apple
2-3 drops of Cherry Vanilla NuStevia Liquid
Blend. That’s it!
You would not believe how good this is!

Alternatives: Banana with NuStevia Chocolate or their Chocolate-Mint….mmmm!

Or simply mix a couple of drops of a NuStevia Liquid and a sprinkle of the White Powder Stevia to any unsweetened milk for a real treat.

A Ridiculously Easy Refreshments
A couple of drops of NuNaturals Cherry Vanilla, Lemon or Orange Liquid in ice water; delicious! Add a couple of drops to iced  tea or coffee. (Trust me; it’s delicious! The liquids blend and the powder dissolves instantly even in drinks with ice.)

A

Healthier Lite Yogurt [Gluten-free,Low-Carb]
I make my own, healthier version of ‘lit’ yogurt,(Greek-style and regular), by buying plain yogurt in bulk and adding a few drops of NuStevia liquid, sometimes with fresh or low-sugar fruit.(Water or juice-packed). No artificial ingredients and you control the flavor and carbs.

Easy Flavored Hot Cereal [Vegan and Gluten –free options,Lower Carb]
Cook Cream of Wheat or Oatmeal with milk of your choice and add a couple of drops of any NuStevia liquid in fruit flavor. Add fruit, fresh or dried, and/ or nuts, if desired.

A Very Quick Nut Snack [Vegan and Gluten-free,Lower Carb]

Delicious NuStevia -flavored Nut Snack

Delicious NuStevia -flavored Nut Snack

I took ½ cup each of almonds, pecans and walnuts. Add a couple of drops of NuStevia Orange Liquid and a slight sprinkle of NuStevia No-Carb Blend and tossed them. Fanstastic!
[ I imagine that an addition of low-carb cereal, (like an unsweetened Chex), or plain popcorn would make a nice addition to the mix, as well as making it a bit more filling.]
My 30 year-old firefighter son visited and asked, ”What do you have on these mixed nuts, Mom?!” He promptly ate half of them; it’s a good thing I had shot the picture just before he came in! He has no dietary restrictions but he does like to eat healthy foods. He was thrilled with them.

Dips [Gluten-free and Vegan options, Low-Carb]

Easy No-Carb/Low-Carb Dip

Quick and tasty low-carb/no-carb dip with NuNaturals

Quick and tasty low-carb/no-carb dip with NuNaturals

Use a few drops of NuStevia liquid in sour cream, plain or vanilla yogurt or vegan sour cream (Tofutti is one), to make a nice dip for fruit and vegetables.

Spread or Filling [Gluten-free, Vegan options,Low Carb]
A few drops of any NuStevia Liquid mixed into cream cheese or medium tofu to make a nice spread for crackers, toast, rice cakes or as a filling . BE SPARING, as the flavors are very concentrated .Start out with just 2-3 , blend and adjust to taste. You may thin it with any type of milk, (coconut is very good in this), and add a bit more sweetening with a few drops of the NuNaturals Simple Syrup. You can add pureed fruit if you’d like.
Adding the Chocolate Syrup with a couple of drops of Orange NuStevia liquid is divine! Use the fruit flavored ones to fill dates or dried apricots…try the chocolate-orange in mission figs.

Compote [Vegan; Gluten-free,Lower Carb]
A staple in the fancy boxed lunches I used to cater from my bakery/restaurant was a compote made in a slow-cooker for a short time,( or it can be cooked very slowly for a very short time on a stove-top). Here is the recipe, and the NuStevia alternatives:
2 sweet apples, cored and sliced in eights
1 pear, cored and sliced thinly
6 cherries, pitted and quartered
1 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine
1/8 tsp. white pepper
¼ tsp. ground ginger
½ cup walnut pieces
½ tsp. Vanilla plus 1-2 Tbsp sugar
OR
10 drops NuStevia vanilla or Cherry-Vanilla
Warm thoroughly and cook only if you apples are very firm; have them retain their shape
Serve warm or cold. Make a great presentation with a dried fruit,( stuffed as above), on top.

Whipped Cream /Flavored Butter [Gluten-free,Low Carb]

Sweeten and flavor cream with NuStevia

Sweeten and flavor cream with NuStevia

No-carb sweet flavored butter with NuStevia

No-carb sweet flavored butter with NuStevia

In a November 2012 post I told the story of making Caramel Whipped Cream for cookies which worked well, but then I re-whipped it and it made Caramel Butter, which was a fortuitous accident. I did the same with the NuStevia liquid. It made Tasty Whipped-Cream, but whatever I did wrong, it wept, so I beat it again and it became a lovely Fruit-flavored Butter ,(this one was Orange, but it could be any flavor.) Try it!
Simply add a couple of drops, (sparingly) of NuStevia Liquid and whip-away!(it is better if you let it sit until the chill is off the cream to make the butter.) You’ll have a wonderful, no-carb spread.

Coconut Balls [Vegan; Gluten-free, Lower Carb]

Sweet but refreshing Coconut  Balls with NuStevia

Sweet but refreshing Coconut Balls with NuStevia

1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
Opt: 2 oz. ground nuts,(Almonds are a good choice. Want to add a little zip? Use wasabi almonds!)
2+ Tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk, (NOT Cream of Coconut).More may be needed if using nuts.
1-2 packets NuStevia white Stevia powder , I packet +1/2 tsp. NuNaturals Simple Syrup, or use NuStevia No-Carb Blend
½ tsp. ground ginger
Place in a covered container and shake to moisten. Let sit refrigerated for several hours to several days. Roll into balls. Chill again.

Rice Balls [Vegan, Gluten-free,Lower Carb]
(A great way to use left-over rice)
1 cup cooked rice
¼ cup ground nuts
½ tsp. NuNaturals Simple Syrup
3 of drops of Lemon NuStevia liquid
Roll into balls and chill. These are not too sweet and quite refreshing!

For thirty years I have been making a version of this recipe for special dinners; carrots in a sweet, buttery-orange sauce. Now, I discovered a quick, lighter way to have a similar flavor to enjoy more often:

Sweet but refreshing Coconut Balls with NuStevia

Orange-Glazed Carrots [Vegan; Gluten-free,Lower Carb]

No-carb Orange Glazed Carrots with NuStevia

No-carb Orange Glazed Carrots with NuStevia

2 cups hot, cooked carrots, (baby carrots or sliced, boiled in salt water until tender or use canned)
2 tsp. NuNaturals Simple Syrup
5 drops NuStevia orange liquid
½ tsp ground ginger
2 tsp. melted butter or margarine,(optional)
2 tsp. brandy,(optional)
Place carrots in pan and warm. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients over them, fold gently,(be especially gentle if using canned carrots).Warm thoroughly. Serve hot, or can be served cold if using baby carrots alone or with additions as an appetizer.(More appetizer recipes to come.)
Another favorite in my bakery/restaurant or with family and friends has been my Cole Slaw. My original dressing uses granulated sugar, but I have been making a great deal of a stepped-up recipe:

Broccoli Slaw (Gluten-free; Vegan options,Lower Carb]

Carb-free sweet and creamy Broccoli Slaw made with NuStevia

Carb-free sweet and creamy Broccoli Slaw made with NuStevia

2 cups of shredded cabbage,(preferably red)
1 ½ cups of shredded carrots
1 cup of shredded broccoli (This is a great use of peeled broccoli stems. Use the florets in other dishes or steamed alone)
Dressing:
Mix separately; ( this will not be as much or as creamy as some versions of cole slaw. Double the recipe if you prefer a lot of dressing ). Toss over mixed shredded vegetables.
2/3 cup mayonnaise of Vegoniase
½ tsp. paprika

1Tbsp finely diced onion
1 ½ tsp. celery seed
1 Tbsp. vinegar,(any type. Cider vinegar makes it tastier than white; Balsamic makes white cabbage a bit dark but ,OH, the flavor! White Balsamic is also an excellent choice, as do pear or raspberry infused vinegars)
½ tsp Stevia powder (or to taste; I like mine sweet)
½ tsp. NuNaturals Simple Syrup

Coconut Chicken* [Gluten-free, Lower Carb]100_2549
(I have been meaning to post a recipe for coconut chicken , but I’m glad I waited, because I have improved the recipe. In the original I called for sweetened coconut)
Prepared coconut (as for coconut balls; may omit nuts)
2 lbs chicken breast strips
2 Tbsp. Olive or other light-flavored oil
“Bread” the chicken with the prepared coconut. Place in pan in hot oil and brown over medium heat, making sure the chicken is cooked through. If some of the coconut falls off, simply retrieve it from the pan and sprinkle it over the cooked chicken. (This may be baked. Spray the chicken with “Pam” or other olive-oil cooking spray.)

*Same recipe can also be applied to  making Coconut Shrimp (use large shrimp)

Optional Sauce: [Vegan;Gluten-free]
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk (Originally recipe called for sweetened)
½ tsp. ground ginger
Dash of salt
1/8 tsp any NuStevia powder
Simmer and reduce to thickened state. Spoon over chicken.
-OR-
Cut chicken strips into bite-sized pieces and pierce with picks. Add sauce on side as dipping sauce.

Turn low-carb Coconut Chicken into appetizers

Turn low-carb Coconut Chicken into appetizers

I have developed a lighter, sugar-free version of my Rice Pudding recipe (November 2012 Archives)
Rice Pudding [Vegan; Gluten-free,Lower Carb]

Enjoy lower-carb, vegan Rice Pudding with NuStevia

Enjoy lower-carb, vegan Rice Pudding with NuStevia

1 ¼ cups cooked rice
1 ¼ cups plain unsweetened almond milk, (rice milk or soy milk)
1 tsp. NuNaturals Simple Syrup
7 drops Lemon or Vanilla NuStevia liquid
Cook slowly and fold gently until the milk is thick and mostly absorbed into the rice, (do not make it dry).
Optional additions can be 1/3 cup currants, raisins, nuts, dried fruit. Pina colada version includes unsweetened pineapple tidbits,(drained) and unsweetened coconut.(You may need to adjust sweetness.)

Years ago I ran across a recipe for a Greek dish that a favorite restaurant served. I had left them half-way across the country and was thrilled to find it. The recipe called for vast amounts of sugar, milk, butter and eggs cooked with farina,(Cream of Wheat) and wrapped in filo leaves. It is technically a dessert, but hearty enough for a food. I have experimented and come up with a lighter, faster take on it that I love for breakfast.

Farina Custard [Vegan, Lower Carb]

Sweet Farina Custard made  with NuStevia

Sweet Farina Custard made with NuStevia

½ cup farina,(Cream of Wheat)
2 cups milk, (any kind, plain and unsweetened; I prefer almond)
[basically 1 part farina to 4 parts milk to adjust the recipe]
½ tsp (or to taste) Stevia powder
Opt: ¼ cup ground nuts
Cook slowly, stirring very often, until stiff.
Place in bowl to chill. Top with fruit. Sprinkle with NuNaturals Simple Syrup and or Stevia powder.
For a change of pace or for the gluten-free needs of some friends, I offer Polenta Custard, which can be made basically as above, but I’m posting a pineapple-coconut version:

Pina-Colada Polenta Custard [ Gluten-free; vegan options, Lower Carb)

Gluten-free , sweet Polenta Custard for breakfast or  dessert

Gluten-free , sweet Polenta Custard for breakfast or dessert

½ cup corn meal, (NOT self-rising)
2 cups coconut milk
1 tsp. NuNatural Simple Syrup
¼ tsp. NuStevia powder
Cook slowly, stirring almost constantly , until very thick. Chill.
Layer with pineapple tidbits , prepared coconut ,(see Coconut Ball recipe above) and

Sweet Dessert Cream [Vegan; Gluten-free,Low Carb]
Beat:
½ cup mascarpone, low-fat cream cheese or silken tofu,
coconut milk (1/4 cup? Test consistency),
and sweetened with NuNaturals Simple Syrup or Stevia powder to taste.
A few drops of Lemon or Orange NuStevia liquid, optional
You could also layer this with unsweetened apple sauce, dried fruit bits, fresh fruit or berries and/or nuts

This is far from a comprehensive list, but it’s a start.

Now, here’s what you need to do for the contest. Remember, it’s opened to everyone, world-wide.
I will leave the contest opened until October 1, 2014.
NuNaturals requested one requirement to enter:

(The links are being temperamental. If they  won’t work, please  cut and paste them to your browser)
Go to Facebook and “like” NuNaturals’ page:

https://www.facebook.com/NuNaturals    Requirement]

and while you’re there
“like” my Food, Friends, Family Facebook page

 https://www.facebook.com/TonetteJoycefoodfriendsfamily?ref=hl       [for an  Extra entry]

 If you don’t Follow this blog, please do so [for an Extra  entry]

Leave a message below, telling me what you have done  and please leave an email address so that I can contact you if you win.(If you don’t wish to leave an email address publicly, please leave a message here and message your email address to me privately through the “Food, Friends, Family” Facebook page.) I will contact the winners and give them 72 hours to get back to me with their home address or forfeit the prize to another entrant. Please note that NuNaturals needs an actual physical address for you to receive your prize;( the prizes cannot be delivered to P.O. Boxes).

Everyone is a winner, as NuNaturals has offered a 15% discount to all of us until December 31, 2014 if you order and enter this code: BLOG1214
It is very easy to use, just log-on to their site:www.nunaturals.com, or call 1-800-753-4372
International # 541-344-9785
Their staff is friendly and competent.

They have many, many products including other natural sweeteners. I just ordered a fair amount of Xylitol ,(another natural sugar replacement), from them and cannot wait to start experimenting with using it in cooking and baking.

Remember that their products are HIGHLY concentrated and to be used in minute amounts, usually by drops and fractions of teaspoons.

Please feel free to spread the word to  you friends,(and readers, if you’d like).

So, what are you waiting for?
(Any questions?)