Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Applause for Gina!

One of the blogs I regularly follow is Gina's Skinny Recipes.  I love the things Gina cooks!  Recently she posted this recipe, which I adapted very slightly for us for this morning's breakfast. I think I could eat the whole pan!

Crème Brûlée French Toast
adapted from a recipe from Gina's Skinny Recipes

1 cup unpacked brown sugar
¼ cup Karo syrup
2 tablespoons butter
cooking spray
10 ounces Challah bread, sliced 1 inch thick (I used a Country Loaf from Panera)
6 eggs
1-½ cups 1% milk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided

In a small heavy saucepan melt brown sugar, syrup, and butter over moderate-low heat, stirring, until smooth and melted, about 1 minute, then pour into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit.
In a large bowl whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and salt until combined well and pour evenly over bread. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350° F. and bring bread to room temperature.
Bake uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden, 40 to 50 minutes.
Top with cinnamon and powdered sugar.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Nine months since my last post? Wow!!!

First of all, I can't believe it's been 9 months since I posted those pinto beans. I've really neglected this blog. Now that doesn't mean I haven't been cooking - I have - it just means that I've made things that I've already written about, or I've not been enthused about something new that I made.

Secondly, welcome to my followers!  I didn't even know you existed until I added the "Followers" gadget to the sidebar.  I have had this gadget on my other two blogs for a long time, and have kept up with the doings of my Wanderlust followers for about a year.  I'll have to go visit your sites now that I know you keep up with mine - and I'll add you to my Google Reader so I can see what's cooking.

All that being said, here's a very brief summary of what's happened in my life since that March post:
1. Don and I took a nice Memorial Day trip to June Lake in the Eastern Sierras.
2. Our summer trip was to Colorado - for 62 days. We stayed in Lake City, Taylor Park, Ridgway State Park, and Priest Gulch Campground on the Dolores River. It was a great fishing trip for Don, and a wonderful quilting-reading-relaxing-renewing trip for me.
3. I began my 25th year in education - and my 8th year as the president of our local teachers' union.
4. Don and I took a Thanksgiving trip to Lubbock, Texas, to see my mother. We were surprised by my sister and her husband showing up (they live in Mesquite), and enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving feast.
5. We made the very important decision to keep our house after I retire instead of going full-time on the road in our trailer. We love our trailer, and we love to travel, but we also love coming home. If you're going to have to live in southern California, you live in the mountains like we do.
6. We signed the papers to refinance the house and knock $400 of the monthly payment. (More money for travel!)
7. I turned in my papers for retirement - I'm taking advantage of an early retirement incentive. My last day of work will be June 2, 2011.
8. Kenny came home from Japan - he's here for the holidays while he's in transit to his next base. He'll be going to Holloman AFB in New Mexico.

So now we're suffering through one of the biggest rainstorms to hit southern California in a long time - it's been raining since Friday, and is not supposed to quit until Thursday. Luckily for us, it's been rain instead of snow, though the predictions are for it to turn to snow tomorrow night and dump about 2 feet on us.

I've been making other people's recipes lately.  Dinner tonight was Sweetnick's Lemon Parmigianno Chicken, and dessert is Joe's Butterscotch Brownies with Brown Sugar Butter Frosting (only I used half the frosting since it make so much). 

Last night, I adapted a recipe for pork tenderloin and used it with pork sirloin.  If you've never had pork sirloin, you should try it. It's much more tender than the pork in boneless pork chops, and is great for grilling as well. Here's the original recipe, which I think is from Taste of Home.

Maple-Glazed Pork Tenderloins

2 pork tenderloins, 3/4 lb. each
¾ teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon butter
¼ cup maple syrup
3 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1 ¾ teaspoons Dijon mustard

Rub pork with sage. In a large nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, brown pork in butter. Place in a foil-lined roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, at 425˚ for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the syrup, vinegar and mustard until smooth. Pour into the same skillet. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Brush pork with 1 T of glaze; bake for 5 minutes. Brush with another T of glaze; bake 3-5 minutes longer or until meat thermometer reads 160˚. Brush with remaining glaze. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.

With Kenny here, I've had to have some good snacks around, and this one is now a new favorite. I doubled the recipe, since you can buy almonds from Costco or Sam's in large jars.  If you do, then omit the salt in the recipe, since the almonds from Costco or Sam's are salted.

Candied Cinnamon and Sugar Almonds
from Melanie of My Kitchen Cafe

1 egg white
1 teaspoon cold water
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups unsalted almonds
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a large (11X17-inch) rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray. In a large bowl, beat the egg white until stiff peaks form. Add the water and vanilla and beat again until stiff. Add the almonds to the mixture and stir gently to coat the almonds with the egg white mixture. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Add this mixture to the almonds and stir gently to mix well. Pour the almonds out onto the prepared baking sheet and carefully spread them out into a somewhat even layer. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about an hour, stirring/flipping every 15 minutes, until the almonds look and feel dry.

Mel says: To check to see if the almonds were done, I carefully picked one up in my fingers and when I pressed around it, I didn’t get any wet sugar on my hands. The coating on the almond felt hard and crunchy. Cool completely before serving or packaging.

I can't promise I'll begin posting regularly again - but I'll try to post more often. Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Almost Meatless Monday

This used to be a monthly meal for Don and me back when we were really pinching our pennies. It'll make a return, but perhaps not monthly.

Pinto Beans

1. Put 2 cups of pinto beans in the crockpot, covered with water, to soak overnight.
2. Drain, rinse the beans, and put new water in - I used 1 quart.
3. Add 2 pieces of bacon, diced, and about 1/8 cup chopped onion. Do not salt the beans before cooking them as it will make them tough.
4. Cook on LOW 8-10 hours.

Serve with salad and cornbread.

Roasted Asparagus - a first for me

We finally had some warm weather here at home, and I asked Don to cook out on the grill. I made some pineapple salsa and curry rice, and then sprinkled the boneless chicken thighs with some jerk seasoning. While the chicken was cooking, I roasted the asparagus.

I have to admit that this was the first time I've EVER bought fresh asparagus. I've had it in restaurants and really enjoyed it; but I'd never bought it and cooked it at home. It was very, very simple:

1. Preheat the oven to 400˚.
2. Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet.
3. Break each asparagus spear at the "tenderness" point - it'll break naturally and you can discard the woody ends. Place the spears in the pan, and use your fingers to roll each one in the olive oil until coated.
4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roll again.
5. Roast for 10-12 minutes.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lots going on elsewhere

Go to my travel blog, Wanderlust, for more interesting reading.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Taking a Break From Food Blogging - Again

Life events are just a bit overwhelming these days - it really sucks to be a teacher leader (I'm president of our local union) in California right now. Billions - no exaggeration - BILLIONS have been cut from public education, without any change in what is expected; so much sadness and so much fear among the members of my association. I hate to add that I'm also dealing with several member discipline issues where it is clear that the administration is overly-heavy-handed in its punishment. So with negotiations, budget cuts, bullies at the district office, 60+ pending layoffs (we only have 430 members) and abysmal morale, it's hard to go home and think about blogging about food.

I'm sure I'll be back. But right now my escape needs to be to quilting and stamping, where I don't keep gaining weight. : )

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Update #3

The power came back on Wednesday the 27th.
We still have no phone - though Verizon promised they'd be working on it today. There happens to be a 12-foot high snowbank below the pole they need to work on; Don's not sure they're going to be able to reconnect the line without a big truck and cherry picker. And there's no place to park one. Are we going to have to wait until the snow melts in April to get a phone again?

Without a phone, I have no internet access at home...disaster!

Today I came to work without my cell phone - it's on the kitchen counter. I can't call Don to bring it to me, since we don't have a working phone. I feel bereft. Lost. Floundering.

I'm still having to park next door - my parking place is under 10 feet of snow, dumped there by the plow as it cleared the street. I'm glad Tom isn't interested in coming up to his house any time soon.

The snow on our deck has compressed and melted, and is now only 3 feet high. One of these days we'll get to it and clear it off before the deck collapses.

But it's nice to have power - and to be WARM.

Snow Update

This is a post from January 26

Today is day 5 with no power and day 4 with no phone. We have water - temporarily.

Here's what we know about the water: most of our town gets its water from a giant tank up in Snow Canyon above Spring Street. An avalanche took out the main line from the tank. We have a backup system, which we normally use during the summer if the previous winter wasn't wet enough. It utilizes a pump that draws water from an underground river. That pump needs electricity - there is none. So, we had no water while they searched for a mega-generator to run the pump. Last night around 9 pm we discovered we had water again. The pump is running. Now they need to fix the main line from the tank.

Our neighbor John came over around 8, excitedly telling us we had phone again - that is, until he remembered in mid-sentence that our phone line had been knocked down. So while most of the town has phone service again, Verizon says they won't come up to fix our line until February 2.

We still have no power, either. No telling how long that will take. No power means:
- eating your meals in the recliner so you can be close to the fireplace
- sleeping in sweatpants, sweatshirts, hats, and gloves (isn't that from a Dar Williams song? !)
- ice on the inside of the bathroom window
- making toast in a skillet

I'll be adding more as I think of them.

Post from Last week - Snow Report

This is a post from January 25.

Today is day 4 with no power. It's day 3 with no phone, and day 1 with no water.

It started snowing last Tuesday; it didn't stop until Friday evening. The first few days were no big deal - we'd shovel the pathways to the woodshed and the street, and I'd parked my Jeep under the carport next door (my friend's house - he lives in the valley). But Friday morning we woke up to several more feet of snow.

I got a call from the District at about 6:15 saying school in Yucaipa was cancelled due to snow - they got several inches and the roads were slick, so it was a safety issue. (Yucaipa is about 2600' - we're at 6000'). I was on the phone with my friend Patrick at 6:30 when the power went out.

Okay, we can deal with the power being out - we have 2 generators. One is now hooked up to the light in the kitchen, the lamp in the living room, the fan in the fireplace stove box, the regrigerator, and the tv/satellite. (We actually got to watch the playoff games yesterday.) The other, smaller generator is hooked up to the freezer downstairs in the basement. We run each one a few hours at a time in order to keep the food cold and the living room above 60˚. We've gone through tons of wood, and eat our meals in the recliners since they're next to the fireplace. We sleep under several comforters, and I"m wearing gloves to bed since it's so cold in there.

On Saturday morning, we woke up to no phone service. No land line, no cell. Then around noon, while we were outside with our neighbors, the next little disaster happened. Don and John were in the street - John was using the snow blower - we all heard a loud c-r-a-c-k, and a giant limb (1.5 feet in diameter) fell off the huge cedar in our front yard. The two men were directly underneath it, and they ran for their lives. It landed in a cloud of snow and branches right behind them. As it fell, it took out our power and phone lines - stripped them off the main pole. They're still connected to the house, so they're dead lines. Later Saturday afternoon, after the road was plowed and we'd cleared the tree branch from the road, we drove down the mountain for food and gasoline for the generators. I called Verizon - who gave us an estimate of February 2 for the phone line. I called Edison, and we're on their list - there are dozens of power lines down all over town - some they can't get to until the 15-foot-high berms are cleared. It's like those old-time Christmas tree lights - every single line has to be connected in order for all the power to be turned back on. We'll probably be without power at least another week if not more.

So, I'm okay with no power, and I'm okay with no phone, since I can come to the office now and use my cell and the office phone.

But this morning we woke up to no water. The initial guess from our neighbor is that an avalanche took out the main pipe from the tank above Spring Drive. When we had water, we could cook, and wash dishes, and even take showers - we have propane to heat it up - but now we have no water. We'll use our fresh water supply from our earthquake supplies to drink and cook, and we have a few hundred gallons in the spa we can use to flush the toilet - but we're going to have to call upon friends down the mountain for showers.

The weather people on TV say this is the most snow in over 50 years. It's definitely the most we've seen in 20. The Big Bear Valley, further up Highway 38, is closed. All 3 highways in and out are shut down; the gas stations are running out of gas, and the stores are running out of supplies. Apparently thousands of ski/snowboard yahoos from LA went running up there midweek, and when the last storm dumped 2 more feet on top of the 3 already there, everyone got stuck. There are avalanches on Highway 18 at the Arctic Circle, and stuck cars all over the place blocking other sections of the roads. (Flatlanders....)

Well, here are the best of the pics I've taken the past few days:

This is a red Chevy Blazer. Really. It's across the street from our house.

This is our street - I'm standing at the bottom, on Valley of the Falls Drive, looking up Snowdrift. This was taken Friday around noon, about 10 hours before the plows came. The snow is about thigh deep - this was Thursday night's snow, since the road was clear before that.

This was Saturday morning, after the plow had come the night before.

This is our house. See the snow on the deck to the left?

This is my husband's truck, before he started to dig it out.

Yeay! We found the front bumper!

This is the branch that came down and almost killed Don and John, and took out our power and phone lines. That's our neighbor Barbara.

Our phone and power lines.

Don and John getting ready to cut the branch up.

This is looking out our sliding glass doors to the deck. The snow is up to my nose.

Signing off for now - powerless, phoneless, and waterless.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Taste of Argentina: Empanadas Mendocinas & Chimichurri Sauce

I first heard about discos on Lydia's blog, The Perfect Pantry. The very next day (last week, as a matter of fact) I went to the Ranch Market in Redlands where I get my tortillas and tortilla chips, and found that they carried them. All you do is thaw them out, put a filling in the center, stretch them just a little while you fold them over, use an egg white wash to help seal the edges, and press the folded-over edges with the tines of a fork. Bake. Eat.

Oh, the possibilities! I have rhubarb and strawberries in the freezer - I'll roast them with a little sugar and make dessert turnovers. I have apples and raisins. I have blueberries and lemon curd. But first, I needed to make a main dish empanada, and I needed to make them with ingredients I had in the house. So, after a little exploration in blogland, I decided to make Empanadas Mendocinas, or Empanadas Mendoza. These were simple to make - took a little time because of the need to work each one, but well worth it.

Empanadas Mendocinas are traditionally Argentinian, and with the chimichurri sauce we had a nice sample of some flavors of Argentina.

Empanadas Mendocinas

1 package (10-count) Goya Discos
1/2 cup diced onion
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
3/4 lb. lean ground beef
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano flakes
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 green onions, thinly sliced (including green part)
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
5 green olives, halved
1 egg, divided (yolk in one bowl, white in another)

Preheat oven to 400˚. Sauté the onion in the oil over medium heat about 8 minutes or until tender. Add ground beef, smoked paprika, chile powder, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook and crumble meat until all is evenly browned. Cool slightly.

Place discos out on a large work surface 5 at a time (they dry quickly). Distribute meat filling evenly among each one, topping with some chopped hard-boiled egg and half of a green olive. Lightly whisk the egg white, and then brush the edges of the pastry. Pick up the pastry, stretching it lightly in each direction (you form sort of a bowl when you do this) and then fold it over. Press the edges together, and fold them over a second time to seal. Use a fork to crimp the edges. Lightly whisk the egg yolk, and brush the tops of each empanada. Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot or warm with chimichurri sauce (below).

I heard about chimichurri sauce a few years ago - it's often served over steak. This sauce makes barely enough for the 10 empanadas, so you may want to double it.

Chimichurri Sauce

1 small bunch fresh parsley, stems removed
4-5 fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano (I never have fresh!)
2 tablespoons white vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
salt and pepper

Blend all ingredients together in a blender until fine and it looks like the photo above.
Note: I tried this in my full-sized blender, but there wasn't enough of it to work down into the blades. It kept sticking to the sides. I transferred it to my little rocket blender, and it worked beautifully.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Word of Warning: Don't Throw Cooked Turnips in the Trash

We are still working on getting the stench to go away.

I cooked a turnip gratin on Saturday; put the leftovers in the fridge for Don to eat. By Tuesday, he still hadn't eaten it, so we dumped it in the trash in the kitchen. We don't have a garbage disposal. The kitchen trash can is covered, which might explain why we didn't notice a smell until yesterday.

By dinnertime yesterday, I told Don it smelled like cabbage in the house, but we didn't have any cabbage. After doing the dishes, the noxious smell had permeated the whole house, and both of us realized at about the same time that it was the turnips, who by now had gotten so rotten there in the bottom of the bag that the smell was just gross. Don took the trash out, sprayed the inside of the trash can, and then we lit three cinnamon-apple candles. If you went outside and then came back in, you noticed the smell immediately. Last night we slept with the bedroom door shut - and came out this morning to the smell - somewhat dimmed, but still there. Our next treatment was the linen-scented spray we use in the bathroom.

I think it's gone now - except for the little bit you catch as you walk in from the outside. Maybe tomorrow it will be totally gone.

Kitchen Stashbusting Update #2

I've been able to make good use of leftovers - there was more fried chicken left from Wednesday, so we had that as our main course Thursday night. I pulled a bag of cooked brown rice from the freezer, and spiced it up: I added a couple tablespoons of orange juice concentrate, a little water, a handful of raisins, and a teaspoon of curry powder. I heated that up, threw together a salad, and there was a nice dinner.

Friday night we had the next-to-last bag of calico bass that Don caught in September. I made Crispy Oven-Fried Fish, along with a few fried potatoes (yeah, I know, I shouldn't - but it was just a few).

Last night, Theresa was here for dinner, and requested pasta and salad. I was glad to oblige -- I had the ingredients for Spaghetti with Ham, Peas, and Swiss Cheese, using Dreamfields spaghetti. There went the last of the frozen peas.

I've made breakfast and lunch this weekend out of the freezer, since it's so full I can't really find anything or put anything else in it! I have a lot of what I call "condiments" in it - list below - and they take up a lot of room.

Here are what I call "condiments" that are in my freezer:
1. bag of chopped bell peppers
2. 4 bags of chopped celery
3. bag of chopped onion
4. 5 chipotle chilies, each in separate small bags
5. 5 lumps of tomato past, each in separate small bags
6. walnuts
7. almonds
8. pecans
9. pistachios
10. pine nuts
11. orange juice concentrate
12. lemon juice ice cubes
13. orange zest
14. lemon zest
15. basil cubes (from Trader Joe's)
16. flour tortillas
17. corn tortillas
18. discos (for making empanadas)
19. shredded cheddar
20. shredded pepper jack
21. shredded mozzarella
22. almond flour
23. mixed vegetables
24. blueberries
25. rhubarb
26. strawberries
27. raspberries
28. Cool Whip

And that's just the upstairs freezer, which is part of the refrigerator. The downstairs freezer is full of beef, chicken, pork, sausage, bacon, fish, bread, rolls, corn dogs, and Don's Klondike bars (they were on sale).

Now for an update on my Ten in 10 challenge. So far I've done fairly well on the eating front - with the exception of the fried potatoes Friday night. It's continuing to be a challenge to eat both low-carb and low-calorie at the same time - usually my low-carb go-to foods are high in fat. Take the almonds I got last weekend, for example. They're a great snack, but high-calorie. They do have the good kind of fat in them, so I'll continue to eat those when I want something savory (there are no potato chips in the house any more!).

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Kitchen Stashbusting Update #1

I really haven't used a whole lot out of my kitchen yet. The night I made the first post about this (Tuesday), I made Cheesy Broccoli-Potato Soup, and served it with some homemade wheat toast I'd made in the bread machine.

Cheesy Broccoli-Potato Soup

1 small head broccoli, stems removed
2 cups water
1 medium potato (the size of an orange), peeled and diced
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup cubed Velveeta (yes, Velveeta - I use it all the time)
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper (you can use black if you don't have the white)
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard powder

Cut the broccoli into small pieces, and bring to a boil in the water. Cook for 10 minutes, then mash with a potato masher. Do not drain. While the broccoli is cooking, sauté the potato and onion in the oil until potato is tender. It doesn't need to brown much. Add to broccoli and water. Put Velveeta, flour and milk in a blender, and pulse until the cheese is in small bits. Add to broccoli-potato mixture, along with the pepper and mustard powder. Simmer over low heat until cheese has melted and soup has thickened. Serves 4.

On Wednesday, breakfast was a leftover Spinach-Artichoke Bread Soufflé, and lunch was leftover soup. My afternoon snack was a slice of the Breakfast Bundt Bread. I had a Rep Council meeting in the afternoon, and we had some fried chicken and vegetables - so that was dinner.

This morning was more of the Breakfast Bundt Bread, and lunch will be a canned pasta from my lunch stash here at the office. I haven't decided what to fix for dinner - I need to use up some lettuce, so there will be a salad, but I will decide on the main course later.

I took a little time yesterday to take an inventory, and I'm embarrassed about how much food I really do have. With the exception of milk, eggs, lettuce and tomatoes, I could probably feed us for 2 months. No kidding. Right now it's ridiculously easy since there's so much in the pantry, the fridge, and the freezer, but I know that eventually it will get a little more challenging. But stick with me.

Here are a few rules I've had to give myself for my challenge:
1. I can buy milk, eggs, and butter/margarine when I run out.
2. I can buy the significant condiments (ketchup, mustard, etc.) when I run out, unless it's something I can make from scratch. And no, I'm not going to make ketchup from scratch. : )
3. I can buy lettuce, tomatoes, and other salad-related produce when needed. But I need to use up a lot of frozen and canned veggies, so no immediate purchases of other vegetables.
4. When the side dishes get very slim, I can purchase FRESH vegetables only.
5. I get to make up my own rules as I go along, since this is my challenge.
6. I will try to make healthy foods. TRY.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

A Challenge: Stashbusting in my Kitchen

As many of my friends and family know, I'm a quilter, who used to be a cross-stitcher, who used to scrapbook and rubber stamp. In those crafty worlds, "stash" means all the supplies you have in order to create whatever it is you create. I often find "stashbusting" challenges going on in the quilting world, but have had no desire to participate since I like obtaining new fabric whenever I can.

But this evening I saw a piece on the local news about impulse shopping, and it focused on a mom who was challenged to go a whole week without ever going to the grocery store. I told Don that I'd often thought about doing something like that, because, honestly, I have an overstuffed pantry and freezer. He said, "So why don't you do it? You've got plenty already."

So here goes. I'm going to see how long it will take me to feed the two of us with only what I have in the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. I think if I have to "cheat" at all, it will be next week, and I'll be wanting some fresh produce. But until then, I have a LOT, as my post below shows.

Anyone want to join me?

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Fun Cooking Weekend (and back to work tomorrow!)

My Saturday morning started with picking up my organic produce share, along with 5 pounds of raw unpasteurized almonds. Our share this week, and what I have used it or will use it for:
fennel - roasted fennel
blueberries - flash frozen and will go in pancakes or waffles
collard greens - sautéed and served with pinto beans and cornbread
spinach - in spinach-artichoke bread soufflés (below)
celery - will be sliced and frozen
broccoli - we like this steamed and buttered
mushrooms - had these sautéed and served with some chicken last night
cucumbers - cucumber salad and chopped in romaine salad
granny smith apples - out of hand, in the breakfast bundt cake (below), in pancakes
bananas - out of hand
onions - in various recipes
leaf lettuce - salad
oranges - out of hand
parsley - in some spaghetti sauce, maybe
carrots - in the breakfast bundt cake (below)

I had gone to Costco earlier in the month, and got 20 pounds of Eagle Mills Ultragrain All-Purpose Flour. It's made with white wheat instead of red, and has twice as much fiber per serving as regular all-purpose flour. What I really like about it is that it can be used cup-for-cup in place of regular apf. The first thing I did was make a loaf of bread with it in the bread machine. Since I was using up a couple cups of whole wheat flour, I used the whole wheat flour recipe that came with the machine. When that was finished and cooled, I used a couple of slices to throw together some little soufflés - though they're not technically soufflés. They're like the little egg pastries you get at Panera Bread - and I made mine with spinach and artichokes.

Spinach Artichoke Bread Soufflés

3 large slices or 4 regular slices whole grain bread, cut in small cubes
2 cups (about 2 large handfuls) spinach leaves (about 1/2 a small bag, if you buy it at the store), finely chopped
1 14-oz can artichoke hearts (not the marinated ones), drained, chopped
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt

Spray the insides of six 6-ounce ramekins with nonstick cooking spray. Divide the cubed bread evenly among the ramekins. Divide the spinach and artichoke hearts evenly among the ramekins, placing on top of the bread. Sprinkle each ramekin with cheese. In a small bowl, mix together the egg, milk, dry mustard, and salt. Pour evenly over each ramekin. Cover ramekins and refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake at 350˚ for 25 minutes. Makes 6

In preparation for returning to work, I made Breakfast Bundt Bread, based on a recipe I saw on Being Cheap Never Tasted So Good. Moni had made hers with spelt flour, agave, carrots, and raisins. I made mine with the ultragrain flour, brown sugar and apple juice, carrots, dates, and apples. Since I used so much more fruit than Moni did, I increased the batter by half - resulting in a larger cake than hers. Don and I will have this for breakfast a few mornings this week.

Breakfast Bundt Bread
adapted from Being Cheap Never Tasted So Good

3 cups flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
3 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup apple juice
2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped dates
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (I used both)
1 medium apple, cored and chopped (no need to peel it)

Preheat oven to 350˚. Spray a bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray (for best results, use the kind mixed with flour). In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, oil, and apple juice. Fold in the dry ingredients. If the batter is dry, add a little more apple juice. Fold in the carrots, dates, nuts, and apple, and spread in bunt pan. Bake approximately 40 minutes. Cake is ready when the top springs back lightly when touched and toothpick tester comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan; cool another half hour before trying to slice it.

This next recipe is something I've had for years and never tried - and now I'm kicking myself for it since it's wonderful. You can use pecans or walnuts, too - they're all good for you.

Sugar and Spice Almonds

⅓ cup brown sugar
⅔ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pound almonds
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 300˚. In a medium bowl, mix together sugars, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon. Reserve. In a large bowl, beat egg white until frothy but not stiff; add water and stir until combined. Add almonds and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle nuts with sugar mixture and stir until evenly coated. Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet fitted with a Silpat nonstick liner or parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally as needed. Remove from the oven and separate nuts as they cool. Let cool for at least an hour before serving.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year

Note to self: make this again next year!

The soup above was made with the black-eye peas that we were going to just eat out of a can with our BLTs for dinner. (We always have black-eye peas on New Year's Day, don't you?) Kenny mentioned he wanted soup, so I came up with this.

Black-Eye Pea Soup

1 tablespoon bacon grease or oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 medium carrot, chopped (I used 5 baby carrots)
1 15-oz. can black-eye peas, UNdrained
3 cups chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon Spike seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup orzo

In a heavy saucepot, sauté the onion and carrot in the oil until onion is tender. Add black-eye peas, chicken broth, thyme, parsley, Spike, and black pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes (the carrot needs to get tender). Add the orzo, and bring heat up to medium-high. Cook until orzo is tender, about 8-10 minutes. Serves 3.

This is the whole wheat and rye bread we had our BLTs on. I made it in the bread machine with mostly whole wheat flour. I chose to leave the caraway seeds out since we had a bit with our breakfast and I'm just not into caraway seeds for breakfast.

Whole Wheat and Rye Bread
Bread Machine Recipe - makes a 2-pound loaf

1 2/3 cups lukewarm water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup molasses
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons dry milk powder
1 1/2 cups rye flour
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast *

Place ingredients in bread machine pan in the order listed. Use "whole wheat" cycle.

* I live at 6,000', so I use only 3 teaspoons yeast. Otherwise I get a "bowling ball."

And what's this? It's the 30-year-old spatter screen that I retired on Christmas day, since Don got me a new one.