I generally make a cheeseball for holidays and gatherings and I have posted some recipes on these pages. For Easter this year, I decided to go with a dip/spread, and I made it several days early so that the flavors would mellow.
You can vary it to suit the tastes and your dietary needs and of those around you. Nuts and seeds can be changed, or left out altogether. I’m making this one a little bland because I will be serving it with flavorful crackers and snacks.
Here is the recipe I made; variations in taste and vegan substitutions will be listed below:
7 oz of Neufchatel cheese (low-fat cream cheese)
1 Tbs cream
¼ -1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese,(or other moderate-to-mild white cheese)
A few drops sesame oil (no more than 1/8 tsp; sesame oil is very strong)
Mix the cream cheese and cream (or substitutes) together until smooth. Add the shredded cheese and mix. Add the sesame or other oil. Add 1 Tbsp. sesame or other seeds, (if using); mix well.
Add the lemon juice and minced garlic, the herb blend and blend well. Add the black olives. Mix well. Place in a small covered bowl or container, sprinkle seeds around the edges and garnish with added olive or ? Chill thoroughly or for several days before serving.
This can be served with any type of cracker. Since I need to go gluten-free for relatives, I like Trader Joe’s Three Seed Beet Crackers .I am also going to offer Harvest Snaps Red Lentil Tomato Basil snack crisps, available in many major markets.
Vegan “Cream Cheese” is made with cashews. I am told that it is easy to make one’s own, but it is fairly readily available in healthier-food stores and even supermarkets. With this, you can use 2 tsp. cashew, almond or other plant-based milk instead of cream. You may add vegan ‘cheese’, or leave it out.
Finely chopped nuts can be substituted for sesame seeds, or left out completely. Walnuts, cashews, pecans and hazelnuts, (filberts), are good choices; almonds are a bit bland to stand up in this recipe.
Other oils, such as walnut or almond, or even avocado, should be substituted for sesame oil if you aren’t using sesame seeds; use 1/8 tsp.
Avocado bits make a nice addition if you leave out nuts; fold in at the end.
Pimentos, green olives, or bits of mild chilies can be used in addition to, or instead of, black olives.
I hope that you try this for your friends and family.
A long-overdue overview of herbs and spices. This will be far from all-inclusive. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.
With the prices climbing drastically, I have been buying herbs and spices in bulk, and grabbing them on sale. Several teachings which came into vogue a few years back are false and most people pay them no heed now. One is that dried herbs are wrong to use. That is ridiculous. Fresh herbs have their place in some presentations and recipes, but for the most part, dried herbs are on easily kept hand and give you a great deal of flavor for the amount used. Too many fresh herbs ruin the texture of many dishes.
Another useless idea was that you should change out your dried herbs and spices every six-months-to-a-year. Harvesting for most is done once a year, so six months is foolish. Since the harvesting, drying, processing, packaging, shipping, warehousing, stocking and the like take many months, one year is also unreasonable. Kept in cool, dry places, most herbs and spices last for a number of years. And even if they degrade a bit after a while, you can use a bit more.
Avoid “dollar” any kind of herbs and spices in stores; they are the poorest quality. You can do better online and in bulk, or in smaller amounts from specialty shops.
Keeping herbs and spices cool and dry when buying them in bulk can be a challenge. Save large and small jars for these, use vacuum sealers, and/or share with family and friends to keep your supply usable. Some specialty stores, (ethnic or health food), sell repackaged herbs spices which they buy in bulk. Some have containers where you package your own in plastic or paper bags; discard any flimsy packaging these come in and repackage them yourself. Some stores sell in larger bags. Once opened, repackage and keep them closed.
I have purchased many herbs and spices online and for the most part, have been very pleased. Read the reviews, don’t just look at the number of stars. Many people have no idea how to rate items; great products can get one star from some people, some poor items get four-to-five stars. Read why the people gave the ratings to the items. You can save a lot, but if you get the poorest quality, you are wasting your money.
Price does not always reflect quality. Online prices for the same brand can differ greatly between companies and differ from store prices.
The only bulk problems I have had is with onion and tomato powders; they want to clump. I have some in vacuum sealed bags and some in jars on my kitchen shelves to use regularly. I have to use fork tines scrape enough to use the tomato powder, but the quality is still good. I have rectified the onion powder problem by never sprinkling it over cooking food to avoid steam entering the bottle and always using a dry spoon to carry it to the food.
A little onion powder does wonders for boiled/steamed vegetables, rice, grains and many foods, especially if you wish to avoid or cut back on salt. Sprinkle a small amount in the water of any that you boil or during cooking. A tiny amount in mashed potatoes is wonderful.
There is also another good reason for buying and mixing your own herb blends: you can adjust them to fit your own tastes, the needs of your family and to change things around a bit.
If you do not know a “Mrs. Dash”-type seasoning blend, they started out for low-salt/salt-free diets, however, I love it for many uses.
I use it on simple canned, frozen or freshly cooked vegetables. It does wonders for a side of green beans, peas, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, (together or separately), and good over any roasted vegetables, including potatoes. It is good in or on any type of potato dish and over grains,(rice, barley, quinoa, buckwheat, any and all).
It can be used on simple pieces of fried meat, (especially chicken or pork), fish, (baked or fried), and is great on quorn, fried tofu, tempeh, seitan or many plain, plant-based entrees.
It adds a nice element in tuna, chicken or potato salads.
I love it sprinkled on lite cream cheese or vegan substitute on a bagel, toast or an English muffin. Mix it with cream cheese, sour cream or vegan equivalents for easy dips and spreads. Try sprinkling it on garlic or cheese bread warmed in the oven. It makes cheese sauce a little more special.
Here is a good, basic recipe for a nice herb blend. If and when you are more comfortable with flavors, you subtract some herbs and add others:
BASIC NO-SALT HERB BLEND
2 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp. each:
¼ – ½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
1-2 tsp. Black Pepper
2 tsp dried Lemon Zest
2 tsp Savory
1 tsp Celery flakes or Celery Salt
Dehydrated Vegetables, [SEE BELOW]
Bend all well. If you have a small processor or grinder, (even a cleaned coffee grinder), use these, or you can place the mix in a plastic bag and pulverize it with a rolling pin, a heavy round bottle or a meat tenderizing mallet. Place is a sealed bottle.
Lemon zest is a nice addition to this. It is a good help when you don’t use salt and it is also very good sprinkled on fish before cooking, in or on muffins and cupcakes and in vegetable dishes. Consider having it on hand.
Savory can be hard to find. In fact, I could not find it anywhere locally or even in our next big city. I had not thought to check at the Penzey’s Spices store,(although it would have cost the amount of gas money to get back home. Again, I mail-ordered it.)
You can make your own Latin blends, too.
Basic Chili Powder Mix
2 Tbsp. ‘sweet’ paprika
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp. oregano
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 ½ Tbsp. onion powder
1 tsp salt-(Optional)
1 ½ tsp tomato powder (Optional)
½ tsp Cilantro (Optional)
Mix well. Keep closed tightly.
Options: Add flakes or powder of Ancho, Chipotle, or Mesquite. (It’s better not to mix these since they have good, distinct flavors.) Any one of these is particularly good as a rub for meat or vegetable-based protein with olive oil and then slow-cook them to be made into dishes, such as Cantina Bowls .(Recipes in upcoming posts.) These are also good on roasted corn, mixed with cheeses or sour cream, silken tofu, or any type of yogurt for dressings and sauces for rice, meat and vegetables.
Basic Italian Herb Blend
1 Tbsp. Parsley
1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp. Marjoram
1 Tbsp. Basil
½-1 tsp Ground Rosemary
1 tsp. Oregano ½ tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
(Grind or pulverize and store as above.)
Oregano is a Greek spice. It is used more in Southern Italian cooking than in Northern Italian dishes. It does have its place in Italian cuisine, but can be overused, as can Rosemary, which is also quite strong. Play around with the flavors for different applications. Add more Rosemary to chicken or beef. Add more Oregano to fish or vegetables.
Try different combinations with basic meatless tomato-based sauces, (what is commonly, though erroneously, called “marinara” sauce.)
I hope that you look into bulk herbs and spices. Dehydrated vegetables are also available and can be ground to add to your own blends. I keep green pepper, celery and carrot on hand to add to some of the herb mixes. There are mixes of flaked vegetables on the market, as well. Use these as toppers for potatoes and other vegetables, or to stews for extra flavor without added salt.
I hope that you try to keep herbs and spices on hand, and make combinations. They pack a great deal of flavor and if you have them ready, you can make great food in a short amount of time.
I find it hard to believe that after all this time I have never done a post of broths.
Broths are the basis of most good soups, sauces and gravies. You can make tastier rice and other grains, (like quinoa, barley, etc.), by cooking them in broth instead of water. Broths are extremely healthy and versatile, plus they are a wonderful way to stretch your food dollar. Frankly, I feel better making the most of the sacrifice of the meat that I eat.
I always trim meats and vegetables, put them away little by little, into freezer bags and when I have enough, I make broth. I may mix chicken and turkey, but I keep all others separated.
I am eating less and less pork and beef, but the way to make any meat-based broth is simple and the same:
Use scraps, no matter how fatty, and (hopefully) bones with meat, (at least 2 lbs-worth); bones add extra body, flavor and a good amount of calcium; the fat will come off later.
1 large onion (whole or cut into quarters)
2 large ribs of celery, cut into halves or quarters (preferably with leaves)
1 Tbs salt (to taste)
½ tsp pepper or 4 peppercorns
2 Tbsp. dried parsley (it makes a real difference in taste, and is a ‘superfood’ a powerhouse of nutrients)
(if using a slow-cooker, cook on high with less water; cook for 6-8hours). Add all to a large pot, (3 quart). Fill within 2 inches of the top with cold water. Put on a burner on high until it starts to boil, then turn down to a mild simmer; DO NOT BOIL. Allow 4-6 hours to simmer, (after 3 hours of cooking, you can taste for strength). Thoroughly cool and you can skim off all of the fat that will have risen to the surface. Strain and discard all meat and vegetables, which will be depleted of taste and most nutrients. (The one exception to this is when I make turkey/chicken broth and use giblets; I use extra meat to make the broth strong quickly and then chop the giblets for dressing.)
Now you can use this for the basis of sauce, gravies or any other types of soups, (many recipes are found in previous posts, with more to come.) Some ideas include: adding precooked meats, (meatballs), or sausages and vegetables. The meats can be barbequed, or spiced, (Asian, Mexican, Italian). You can add vegetables alone in any combination; let your imagination and personal tastes inspire you. You can add noodles, pastas, or barley, or go gluten-free with quinoa, rice, oats, buckwheat, corn, cooked beans and legumes and/or beaten eggs.
Today I have made Egg-Drop Soup with Fresh Spinach and Parmesan. I made it with chicken broth, but often make it with vegetable broth:
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1/8 cup minced onion
2 1/2 cups chopped , fresh spinach or 1 cup cooked/canned spinach
1/4 cup chopped Parmesan cheese -or-
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan
4 beaten eggs
salt and white pepper to taste
Heat the broth. Add spinach, cook. Add eggs; stir until just cooked. Add cheese; let it melt and serve hot.
Vegetable broth varies much more than my meat-broth recipes depending on the season. I cut the ends from tomatoes, spinach, carrots, green beans, the tops of celery and bok choy, over-ripe onions, garlic, weak leaves and cores of cabbage, and lettuces, the peelings of quashes, the inner core and pith of bell peppers, you name it. (I avoid outer peelings of onions, and don’t use red ones, shallots or red cabbage as it makes the broth dark purple and unappetizing.) I put them in zip-bags in the freezer and when I have enough, I add salt, white pepper and some dried parsley and, as above, bring it to a boil in large pot of cold water and simmer for 5-6 hours. If using a slow-cooker, I add less water and cook on high for 4-5 hours If you need ideas, here are pictures of some of my gatherings, ready to be simmered into nice vegetable stock:
Any of the additions listed in the recipe for meat broth can be used. To go low calcium, low cholesterol, vegan, you can use plant-based meat substitutes to give your soups more protein, make the substitutes tastier and get more for the money out of them, since they are still generally quite expensive.
I hope that you give these recipes a try. You will find that canned broth or those in aseptic containers pale by far in comparison.
Thanksgiving is here in America and with all of the holidays coming up, I find it hard to believe that I have never posted recipes for stuffing/dressing. Call it what you will, even if you need to go gluten-free or are vegan, you can enjoy this traditional side dish.
My family traditional dressing is made with bread cubes and turkey broth, often with giblets. I make a vegan version without the giblets, and with vegetable broth. Although you can use bread cubes, I go gluten-free and use quinoa.
Stuffing/Dressing, Baked or Stovetop
3 cups of bread cubes – OR- 1 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa, (prepared with ½ of the recommended amount of water);
¾ stick of butter or margarine
1 ½ cups minced celery
1 cup minced yellow onion
3 Tbs marjoram
3 Tbs. sage (rubbed)
½ tsp celery salt
(Or the equivalent in poultry seasoning of the last 3 ingredients)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper (any color)
2 Tbs milk, (cow or plain nut)
1 ½ + cups broth
In a heavy, large pan melt the butter or margarine
Add the celery and onion
Add the seasonings
sauté until the onions and celery are soft;
Simmer for 15 minutes until the milk is absorbed.
Add the broth, (and giblets if using), and simmer for ½ hour
Place the bread cubes or quinoa in a large bowl. Pour the cooked dressing mix over while it is still hot, and stir until it is mostly absorbed into the bread. (If the bread seems too dry, add more broth; the quinoa will not absorb the mix until it is baked or cooked)
At this point, you can:
place in a well-buttered casserole dish and bake uncovered at 325F for an hour or until it is browned at the edges and fairly dry in the middle
cook on the stovetop, in a large, heavy-gauge pan, (preferably with ceramic or other non-stick coating), stirring often, until fairly dry
stuff dressing made with bread into a chicken; double the recipe to stuff a turkey
I hope that you find this helpful, especially for those of you who find yourselves with family or friends who cannot enjoy traditional dressing.
Unfortunately, the camera did not do a good job and no, the right side of the pie‘s crust was not white; it was from a reflection of the flash.
I used homemade oat flour and almond meal. Homemade grain/seed/nut meals are easier to make than you think. You can find them in stores, and generally, they cost an arm and a leg. Oatmeal is inexpensive and if you grind your own almonds/nuts/seeds, (plus buy on sale or in bulk,) it’s much less expensive than bagged flours and meals. All nuts and seeds, in any form, can be frozen, (in as little air as possible).
The finished, unbaked pie crust can be frozen, as well.
To grind your own flours and meals takes little effort. You can do it in bigger batches in a strong food processor, but many leave bigger pieces in the bottom corners or on the top. You either end up with underground pieces or have the rest of your meal ground to powder/paste while trying to get the others ground down. I have three grinders from which to choose, but you only need one:
You may recognize the Mr. Coffee grinder; which is just about perfect. The Salton grinder is at least 40 years old; it was my aunt’s. The mini-processor is really convenient for grinding small batches and for whipping cream.( Mix any berry type into the cream or to coconut cream and you have a luscious, quick dessert, with or without other fruit or cake!)
I used old-fashioned oats and just turned on the grinder, dumping batch-by-batch into a bowl to measure out later.
The almond meal came out wetter, as would that of many nuts and seeds, but this isn’t a problem, since it helps with the cohesion of the crust. You can adjust up the amount of wetness by adding a little more water slowly, if needed.
For this Gluten-Free Pie Crust w/ Vegan /Tree nut-free Alternatives I used:
2 ¼ cups oat flour
1 ½ cup almond meal (or alternative nut/seed meal)
1 ¼ cup vegetable shortening (see note in the link above in reference to vegetable shortenings)
3 tsp sugar (any type), or less, if using a granulated stevia mix
1 ½ Tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. water
[OPT: 1/4 tsp vanilla or almond extract]
1 egg* or
1-2 Tbsp. flegg**
Mix the flours and sweetener. Cut in the shortening , (as directed in the ‘No-Fail’ recipe). Mix the water, (opt. flavor), egg/ flegg and vinegar together; mix into the meals.
This will not roll-out as the ‘No-Fail’ recipe. Gluten is what makes the crust pliable. You will need to press this into whatever pie plate you choose, as you would with a graham cracker crust. Press in gently but firmly; make sure that you have enough on the bottom and up the sides to hold the filling, but press out any excess that tends to build-up at the bottom edges. Since this will not cut-up or crimp, you will have to get creative with any attempts at decorations, as I did with sprinkles.
[Unlike graham cracker crust made with, well, graham cracker crumbs and butter or margarine, this cannot be used for refrigerator pies; it must be baked.]
*NOTE: To make a half-batch, use 1/2 egg. Crack a large egg and mix it. Use half in this recipe; cook the rest in other in any way, as in: add to an omelet, scrambled eggs, add to a cake recipe, (It will give more ‘lift’). It will keep covered in the refrigerator for several days. **NOTE: “Flegg” is an egg substitute made (usually) with flaxseed or Chia seeds. You can make your own by adding around 2 Tbsp. of seed ,(grind the flaxseed for better results), to a quarter cup of very hot, (not boiling), water.*
After a short time, you should have a sticky, gelatinous mixture that will add to the cohesion of your crust in the same way an egg would. The stickiness is ‘mucilage’ and if you are a certain age, you know that we used a type of this for glue, so you can imagine the help it gives to binding the crust. You can use flegg for many alternatives, but not when you need a ‘rise’, as in a cake. (Flegg also adds nutritional value, fiber and omega-3s)
[*NOTE: Please heat water on the stove or in the microwave. Water out of a water heater should never be ingested. Heavy metals from the heater can leach into the water and any impurities and/or contaminants that may have slipped passed your water authority, (or is considered within their acceptable parameters for tap water), will be condensed in the continual ‘cooking’ of the water.]
Here is a healthier, G-F /Tree nut-free+Vegan alternative to pie:
3 cups (approx) sliced fruit or berries
1 cup whole, raw oatmeal*
2/3 Chopped walnuts, other nuts, or non-tree nuts/seeds
4 Tbsp. sugar (beet, cane, turbinado, date, coconut, stevia mix), DIVIDED
(OPT: a little spice that you like, for instance: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice)
6-8 Tbsp. Butter or margarine, DIVIDED
Use 1 Tbsp.+ butter or margarine to butter the bottom and sides of a deep baking or casserole dish.
Slice apples, peaches, pears, etc., or add berries to nearly fill the dish. If desired, sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar/alternative. Dot with 2 Tbsp. of the butter or margarine.
Melt the remaining butter or margarine. Add the sugar (and spice, if using). Mix in the oatmeal, and walnuts/alternative. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit and bake at 350F for about 40 minutes, until the top is slightly browned.
Serve warm or cold, plain or with whipped cream, (or whipped canned, chilled coconut milk), or ice cream or frozen alternatives. *NOTE: I used old-fashioned oats in the crisp below, but they came out a little stiff. I will use quick-cook oatmeal to top it the next time. If you wish to layer the fruit and toppings, or will be using ice cream or frozen alternatives afterward, use old-fashioned oats, so that they will not become too soft.
I do hope that you try and enjoy the recipes above. Please let me know if you tried any other nut alternatives and how they worked for you.
Yes, it’s me. I have not forgotten you. I had my promised series on antipasti ready and my computer crashed taking all of the recipes with it…and that was just the beginning!
I have pix of most of what I created and will try to sort out what was what, but in the meantime, here is a recipe I have been asked for by a few people.
The best way to make this is with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Done right, they will not be dry. You can use boneless, skinless thighs, if you really prefer dark meat. There is no reason why one could not use thick slices of Tofurkey, (any brand of like product), or Quorn roasts to make a vegan or vegetarian version. I will add directions for alternatives below. I also, as usual, have short-cuts to make the recipe simpler.
The recipe will serve two big eaters. Simply multiply the ingredients to serve more.
2+1 Tbsp Butter or margarine
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped,(or 1 Tbsp dried, minced garlic)
1 ½ Tbsp paprika,(regular or half can be smoked)
1 ½ lbs of boneless chicken breasts or thighs
1 ½ cups strong chicken broth…(if you are using canned or from a carton, cook over high heat to reduce and strengthen. If you want to use bullion, make it double-strength)
1 cup crème fraiche, or sour cream
1 Tbsp plain flour , 1 ½ tsp corn starch or rice flour
Melt the 2 Tbsp butter or margarine. Quickly brown the chicken on both sides, (it will raw in the middle). Remove from the pan. Lower the heat, add the extra butter, onion, garlic , paprika and salt to the pan and cook just until the onion is wilted. Add the broth and the chicken, and cook on low heat just until the chicken is cooked in the middle. Again, remove the chicken and keep it warm. Mix the flour into the crème fraiche or sour cream and mix until smooth. Add slowly to the broth, (a whisk is helpful here). Raise the temperature and stir until the mixture is thickened. Lower the heat to warm. Add the chicken, turning once, until the chicken is rewarmed throughout and has absorbed some of the sauce. Serve over rice, couscous, boiled or mashed potatoes. Be generous with the sauce.
Tofurkey or Quorn Paprika
2+1 Tbsp margarine
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped,(or 1 Tbsp dried, minced garlic)
1 ½ Tbsp paprika,(regular or half can be smoked)
1 ½ lbs of thickly sliced Tofurkey or Quorn roast
1 ½ cups strong vegetable broth…(if you are using canned or from a carton, cook over high heat to reduce and strengthen. If you want to use bullion, make it double-strength)
1 cup vegan sour cream or silken tofu
1 Tbsp plain flour , 1 ½ tsp corn starch or rice flour
Melt the 2 Tbsp margarine. Quickly brown the meat substitute on both sides. Remove from the pan. Lower the heat, add the extra margarine, the onion, garlic, paprika and salt to the pan and cook just until the onion is wilted. Add the vegetable broth and heat to boiling. Mix the vegan sour cream or silken tofu with the flour until smooth and add slowly to the broth, (a whisk is helpful here). Raise the temperature and stir until the mixture is thickened. Lower the heat to warm. Add the Tofurkey or Quorn turning once, until it is rewarmed throughout and has absorbed some of the sauce. Serve over rice, couscous, boiled or mashed potatoes. Be generous with the sauce.
I hope 2016 is a great year for all of you! And as the first post for the new year, I have a prize to give away: An audio cookbook!
Dump Dinners Cookbook, by Daniel Cook, read by Diane Davis
Dump Dinners Cookbook:30 Most Delicious Dump Dinners Recipes For Busy People, by Daniel Cook,(apt name!). This is a perfect book for those who are insecure in their ability to cook, for those who are just plain busy and fun for those who cook often.
It’s a good time of year here in North America for slow-cooker stews and soups, but I have found that in the Summertime,(for those of you in the southern hemisphere), slow cookers are indispensable as an alternative to heating up the house with your oven or and more comfortable than standing over a hot stove.
The recipes contained in this audio book are so simple, yet so complete! This is real food, real cooking, real easy! It is perfect for the theme of this blog, which strives to let you know that anyone can cook and entertain without a great deal of effort.
After the introduction, the recipes only last a few minutes each They are completely uncomplicated, and often contain suggested garnishes and a few other options,(of which any reader of my blog know I am very fond of sharing!) However easy, the recipes have often sophisticated flavors and are not only wonderful for yourself and your family, you would be proud to serve them to any guests you may want, or need, to feed. There is something for every taste, All-American, Latin, Asian, Italian and others, (including Hungarian and Russian.)
Although most are heavy on meat, it does contain vegetarian recipes. Anyone used to eating and working with recipes that include Quorn, tofu, seitan, ‘Tofurkey’ or vegetable-based meat substitutes can adjust most of the recipes by cutting back the cooking times, (usually by1/2- 3/4), and adding the meat substitutes near the end.(Dairy substitutes can be used for cheeses).
Many recipes are Gluten-free or can be adjusted easily.
The many delightful and inspiring recipes in this book are read in a clear, delightful voice, that of my long-time friend, Diane Davis.
Diane is a woman of many talents. She is a singer-songwriter who can rock you with pop, rock, country and jazz. She is an actress who has been in several feature films and TV shows. She is frequently featured in ads that cross the U.S. and into other countries. She has had several radio shows that were not only popular in her market, but were broadcasted internationally over the internet. She continues to do podcasts and interviews, which I never miss. Her voice talents have been utilized a very short time ago in one major motion picture, and more recently, in audio books, such as this. I know you will find her easy to listen to and to follow in the directions.
The contest is open world-wide, so I hope that some of you from the other 50(!) countries who visited me here at Food, Friends, Family in 2015 will stop to comment. That’s all it takes. Leave a comment and an email address where I can reach you if your name is drawn. In two weeks, February 4, 2016, I will place your names in a hat and have a family member of mine draw one out.
[If you are uncomfortable leaving an email address opened on the blog, please leave a comment below and then private message me on the blog Facebook page : Tonette Joyce:Food, Friends, Family with your email address, where no one else will see it.]
I am sure any of you would truly enjoy this cookbook. I bought it, ($2.99-3.99USD), and I am ready to cook!
(Diane is also an expert in needlework and sells her creations. She recently recreated in crocheted form the ‘star’ of a popular mystery book series, a cat, for its author. If that isn’t enough, she is a computer expert, a realtor and blogs on casinos!n
When I went to my family reunion this Summer, my gentleman cousins treated me to dinners at a fine restaurant near where we stayed.(We also had a great lunch at a barbecue joint that looked like a barn, but I digress.)
At one of the meals I chose a dinner salad that came with glazed chicken and walnuts…it was wonderful. And when they offered me their raspberry vinaigrette for it, I was blown away! I had to go home and reproduce it as well as I could.
Since then I have been experimenting with glazes and meats, plus meat substitutes! I found that Tofurkey is amazing glazed and chilled and so is Quorm,( a vegetarian,but not vegan, meat substitute. Seitan can also be used and I have made it with Tempeh).
I don’t remember what they charged for the salad at the restaurant, but even using leftovers, you can recreate the taste at home for your own enjoyment, and even impress any guests you may have, for a fraction of the cost!
(If you are using raw boneless chicken, beef or pork, sear it at a high temperature on the stove with your glaze, then lower the heat, add a few Tablespoons of water and cover until they are fully cooked in the middle).
If using leftovers, Tofurkey or Quorn,(ground Quorn is good here) , simply sear on medium-high heat on the stove and turn as soon as it is seared on each side. Then chill. I have used slices of roast pork,(including commercially marinated pork roasts), chicken, (including rotisserie chicken), slice turkey and roast beef, (although the latter does not work as well, except for my leftover Sesame Beef…strips of beef dredged in salted corn meal and fried in a little sesame oil with sesame seeds.)
The glazes that I have used are honey with butter or margarine; Apricot, Plum, Blackberry and Raspberry preserves or ‘all-fruit’ spreads, or , if you can find it, Pomegranate Molasses.
Pomegranate molasses, ( or sauce), is not very sweet. It has a wonderful flavor, but I like to add a little honey, syrup or sweetener of some sort, even stevia. You can even mix it with any of the fruit spreads, or with a little sesame oil.
If you are daring, you can use commercial Asian Sweet Chili Sauce instead of a fruit glaze.
Toss in walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, or pumpkin, sunflower or sesame seeds with the meat or substitute. You might want to use a little sesame oil to fry the meat/meat substitutes if you are using sesame seeds, (it is strong and a little goes a long way). If you have any nut oils, you can also use a small amount of them to sear the meat/meat substitutes; it makes them even more special. See my post on Oils in the October 6, 2013 archive.
[Do you have someone with nut allergies or want to stretch out your budget? You can get a fantastic result from roasting chickpeas, (garbanzo beans). Use canned, left over or cook them until soft but firm, (see one of my first posts on beans in the August archives August 24, 2012), then roast them in your oven, turning them occasionally, until they are browned and dry. When cooled, crush them. You can place them in a closed container in the refrigerator or a zip-close bag in your freezer to use when needed. It adds a nut-like flavor and texture, and puts an extra protein punch, as do the nuts.]
Add a very little water to ‘degaze’ the pan in which you have cooked by heating it to boiling and scraping what remains in the pan into a container with your meat/meat substitute. What is comes from the pan will keep your meat moist and add extra flavor when added to the salad, along with the dressing.
There are some lovely commercial Raspberry vinaigrettes on the market and some beautiful infused vinegars to make your own dressing, ( I love pear-infused vinegar!). Again, you can use nut oils to make it extra special, but peanut, grapeseed or regular olive oil are really all you need.
I eat so much of this that I have prepared meat and meat substitutes in the freezer, ready to be thawed and used when I am hungry, or for guests. I often grab leftovers and glaze them before others can make a sandwich (Don’t worry; no one goes hungry here!)
I prefer to use green salad, with any combination of :
Fresh String/Sugar Snap beans /Snowpea pods
Feel free to add carrots, sliced peppers, cucumbers or
I generally add chow mein noodles or croutons to round out the meal and add a carbohydrate. I sometimes use prepared wild rice or even hash brown potatoes cooked very dry, and you may want to use these if you are wheat sensitive.
I hope you try this. It is healthy, easy, inexpensive, gourmet-quality food and you can even use up your leftovers making it! Impress yourself and your guests!
Another (not so funny) thing happened to me on the way to continuing my last series; my husband was hurt. It was not a life-threatening injury, but one that literally knocked him off of his feet for three months. Unlike many men who malinger, I had to basically hold him down so that he could recover. (He does hit the bed when he has the sniffles, however!) Much went neglected, including this blog.
We will revisit with more antipasti and on to more party foods, but since this is Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S.A., I thought I’d start talking about not only using, but improving, on leftovers.
Ham and turkey, and for some, “Tofurkey” and Quorn “roasts”, were what was on the table last Thursday. My family enjoys another plate like the basic one, but let’s face it, too much is too much! And when the leftovers are small, or chunks, or scraps, you just need something different to do with them.
Here is what I made today:
An easy casserole to update your leftovers!
It is made with leftover ham, mashed potatoes and vegetables, but it can be made with any combination of meat or meat substitutes and vegetables, or just vegetables. Substitute whatever you have that might fit and no one thing or measurement is absolute…this cooking, not rocket science. Gluten free, it can be adjusted to be vegan.
“Leftover Casserole” just doesn’t sound right to me. How about :
Pre-heat oven to 350F
1 +cup leftover ham, turkey or meat substitute
1 ½ cups mashed (or other) potatoes [Hash browns, (hash brown casserole),cubed and boiled with green beans, etc.]
½ cup sour cream or vegan sour cream [Do you have dip left over? Use onion, spinach or ranch]
1-2 cups leftover cooked vegetables, [I used broccoli and cauliflower. Green beans, (green bean casserole),Brussels sprouts, spinach,(spinach balls),carrots, etc. Increase the amount if you are only using vegetables]
Gravy,or sauce, optional [Did you make cheese sauce or a sauce for your Tofurkey or Quorm roast? Use what you have left]
Mix the potatoes with the sour cream or dip. Place half in the bottom of the casserole or baking dish. Add a layer of each vegetable you chose to use. If you have gravy or sauce, pour in about a 1/2 cup now. Cover with the rest of the potatoes and bake for approximately 30 minutes.
If you cool this completely and wrap well, it will keep in your freezer for at least 3 months. It will be either a nice break now from the regular leftovers, or a quick, warm, comforting meal on a cold night in the coming months.
I have been waiting to post an easy, very easy, upscale dinner salad recipe, but I think I will add it next, using leftovers as an option.
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.
2 packages frozen spinach, thawed and well-drained or
equivalent in fresh spinach which has been blanched,(Submerged in boiling water until limp)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
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)
plain breadcrumbs with
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp. basil
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
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.