Monday, September 14, 2009

Green Smoothies? Count me in!

I consider myself a very adventurous eater. But for some reason I have always been afraid to try the "green smoothie" recipes I see floating around the net. Spinach and fruit smoothies? I'm not a HUGE smoothie fan to begin with (too fruity-sweet for me) so I figured spinach wouldn't really help things.

Plus the ONE time I thought I would be sly and add a handful of kale to the kids smoothie, it looked like salsa in a glass and the kids were not impressed.

SO, when I brought home the Enormous Bag O' Greens from Costco that would make Popeye feel like a girly sailor, I made a vow that I was going to WASTE NONE this time - hence round 2 of Green Smoothies.

And I'm a convert!


Follow a few simple rules (like NO red fruit - if you want it to look appetizing) and you too can be enjoying your very own chartreuse cocktail. Here is the recipe I got online, but altered. I started gaining confidence once all the kiddos were smiling and drinking. And for the non-smoothie lover (me) I REALLY like this type - I think because the spinach adds an earthy flavor that balances the sweetness. So go ahead and give it a try!

Plus now I'm down to 3/4 a bag of Enormous Bag O' Greens. More spinach recipes to follow!

p.s. The model in the photo shoot was wearing GREEN already so I grabbed her for a few shots - I just HAD too.


GREEN SMOOTHIES

Combine the following in your Vitamix, and blend for 1 minute. If you don't have one you are INSANE and should go here and buy one using this code 06-004169 for free shipping. Ok, now that is out of the way....

4 - 5 cups raw spinach (about) - kinda hard to measure leaves!
1 banana (frozen or not)
1 apple (peeled)
1 orange (peeled)
1 cup water
1 cup ice
a few tablespoons of sweetener (sugar, honey or agave etc.)

I subbed out the apple once for a few slices of honey dew and it was rad!! Just keep the fruit in the green/yellow family: green grapes, kiwi etc.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Kids are back in school. And so here I am taking a few minutes to blog. I am busier than usual lately so my posts may be sparse - but I will try!

Here is what I've been eating for lunch EVERYDAY for the past 4 days. It's been 90+ degrees and I haven't felt like cooking. I think I could eat this everyday. Forever.

Fresh Pita & Veggie Pockets
Fresh Pita
Your favorite hummus
Persian cukes and red bells


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Wowee! Instant Oatmeal

I have to give my friend Melissa props because she has an amazing knack for finding out how to make some really cool things. Like the watermelon mint julep she made me recently, and this yummy instant oatmeal recipe (that she emailed me 3 months ago.)

As I was planning meals for a camping trip we are taking later this month, I thought this oatmeal would be the perfect thing to bring along and have on hand for breakfast or snacks - my kids love the packaged kind (which I will usually bring on camp outs), but it is expensive and has a lot of unnecessary ingredients. I think the addition of the salt and other spices really adds that umph! Taking it from regular old oatmeal to the "mmmm...mom-can-you-make-this-everyday?" kind.

Instant Oatmeal

Mix together in a big bowl:
4 cups quick oats
2 cups quick oats (chopped until coarse in a blender)
1 cup brown sugar (or you can use less)
2 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
a couple dashes of mace

You can add flaxseed, wheatgerm, dried apples or other dried fruit, slices almonds or other nuts. I was thinking pumpkin pie spice would be super yummy too! Share your favorites with me!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

We Love You Grandma Clara!

Lately, I have been feeling so appreciative that I have lived long enough to finally appreciate the wisdom of my Italian Grandmother and her excessively frugal ways. I found this sweet series of YouTube videos today and had to share. This are the type of meals my Grandma would cook us. She would call them "Poverty Meals."

In Grandma Clara's videos, she says that they ate tons of potatoes or pasta with veggies. It was cheap, filled the hungry tummies and was healthy. They ate meat very sparingly only on special occasions. No wonder she's lived to be a very spunky 93, and my Italian Grandmother is now 94! It's the rich, processed American diet that puts us in our graves early. Amen to grandmothers everywhere who are sharing their wisdom with us so we can pass it on to our children and grandchildren.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Quinoa Salad with Lime-Cilantro Dressing


Yesterday being Memorial Day, our family attended our church's annual Memorial Day Picnic. I decided to try this recipe that I got off the McDougall website because when I read down the list of ingredients it contained all my favorite things: fresh corn, colorful bell peppers, avocado, artichokes, etc. the list goes on...and on (literally, there are so many ingredients!) While each ingredient is appreciated for its unique role, ie. the sweet chewiness of the dried apricots, I don't think that leaving out a few for lack of accessibility would harm it much. I kept getting comments all day from people who really enjoyed it (and when you bring a healthy salad to a potluck, it better be able to hold it's own against its high fat competitors!)




I served it alone yesterday as a side salad. But today I had the urge to wrap it up in some of these buttery lettuce leaves that were waiting to be used in my garden. The variety is called Red Deer Tongue. It reminds me of butter lettuce - but you could also use iceberg or whatever you have. Great success. I loved the cool, crispy crunch this added to the salad - I will be making this many times this summer, I can already tell. It's a great make ahead dish too as it was very tasty the second day.



I did not have sun-dried tomatoes or quinoa. So I used 4 cups of pre-cooked Five Grain Pilaf that I had in my freezer and omitted the sun-dried tomatoes. The Lime-Cilantro dressing is SO delicious, I am excited to have yet another fat-free dressing that I love! Here is the recipe exactly how it appears on the McDougall website:

Quinoa Salad with Lime-Cilantro Dressing
By Roberta Joiner

Roberta made this delicious salad during our last 10-Day McDougall Live-In Program and when I sampled it, I immediately asked if I could print the recipe in the newsletter. She says you can also make this with 4 cups of any leftover grain that you have instead of the quinoa, if you wish.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Resting Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8

2 cups uncooked quinoa
4 cups water
8 dried apricots, finely diced
¼ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 ears of corn, cut off cob
6 small green onions, sliced in rounds
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, diced
½ cup finely diced colored bell peppers
1 can artichoke hearts or bottoms, drained and chopped (reserve 2 bottoms for the dressing recipe below)
¼ cup toasted slivered almonds
1 avocado, chopped

Toast the quinoa in a dry skillet for a few minutes. Add boiling water, apricots and sun-dried tomatoes. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Add the corn kernels and let rest for 10 minutes. Transfer to a fine mesh strainer and allow to rest for another 10 minutes so it is well drained. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Dressing:
2 artichoke hearts or bottoms, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, rinsed well, stems removed
4 stems basil, rinsed, stems removed (optional)
1 tablespoon honey or Agave nectar
½ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
juice of 3-4 limes

Place all dressing ingredients into a food processor or blender and process until well mixed. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired, adding salt to taste (optional). Toss with the quinoa mixture and serve. The grains will absorb some of the tartness of the dressing, and it will seem milder when served with the grains.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Baked Oatmeal

I'd like to introduce you to our newest favorite way to eat oatmeal. A friend of mine put this recipe on her blog. (Thanks Kristin!) Most baked oatmeal recipes call for eggs and butter - as does this one - but leaving it out omits 27 grams of fat and 272 mg. of cholesterol! I've never tasted the "original" but the "McDougallized" version is SO delicious, I don't even want to know what I'm missing. Even though this is technically breakfast no one's going to arrest me for having a 3 o'clock snack - This tastes better than ANY fat free oatmeal cookie! Mmmm! And all my kids like it...all except picky hubby who prefers most of his food very plain.
Without further ado, here it is:


Baked Oatmeal

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced or grated

2 cups regular or quick oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon ground flax seed meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt

2 cups soymilk ( I always dilute my soymilk, so I used 1 1/2 c. soymilk + 1/2 c. water)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup

In 8 X 8 square or round 2 quart dish, lay apples on bottom. Pile on oat mixture to cover. Carefully pour milk mixture over oats to cover. Sprinkle with course sugar. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. The last 5 minutes I like to broil the top so it gets real crispy -but we like crunchy over here. You can have fun trying other fruits, nuts, or spices as well. Please share your creations!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pineapple Salsa

I am obsessed with this stuff! I am dunking carrots in it, warmed corn tortillas, drizzling over my salad and even on my baked potato! If you have never tried to make homemade salsa, you have to now - and you will never go back to store bought.

Here is my favorite salsa recipe, to make the tomato version just sub out the can of pineapple for a can of diced tomatoes, juice included. Or you can click here for a print out version.


Pineapple Salsa

1 15 oz. can pineapple chunks, liquid included
1/2 bunch cilantro
3 green onions, use all of the white and 1/4 of the green
1/4 jalapeno - more for spicier but add it gradually, all peppers vary in heat!
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients in blender and blend until desired consistency. We like ours smooth with no chunks.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

3 - 2 - 1 Salad Dressing

I don't know about you, but finding a fat free salad dressing that tastes great can be a challenge. I usually end up making my own (which can consist of boiling and stirring to get it thick using cornstarch) or just drizzling a bit of good balsamic straight on the leaves. And if money were no object, I would have a bottle of 15 year aged balsamic in my cupboard at ALL times. Usually I settle for Trader Joes's aged balsamic and it's pretty good. (Although trying that 15 year aged one has forever left me a balsamic snob)

Here is a salad dressing that you can mix up in minutes. Made from ingredients you probably have on hand right now. That has NO fat, tastes great, and will even stick to the leaves of your lettuce with out doing the cornstarch thing.

I think I found this recipe on the McDougall Discussion Board but I can't be sure. It was a few weeks ago and I was surfing all over the www. looking for a new salad dressing. So if you know where I got this from please leave it in the comments so I can give props accordingly.

Here's what you do:

3 - 2 - 1 Salad Dressing

3 parts pure maple syrup
2 parts balsamic (or try any kind)
1 part Dijon mustard (or try other kinds)

Whisk together above ingredients and viola! there you have it!

I remember seeing a few variations, like 2 parts vinegar and 3 parts maple syrup. You can experiment to see what you like best. Leave your comments (and any other yummy fat free dressing recipes) so we can share ideas.

On a side note, stop by VEGAN DADs website and check out his Vegan Sausages. They are AWESOME!! Totally grill worthy, even amongst a crew of meat lovers! (Everyone loved them!) I will definitely be making these a lot this summer for barbeques. My family would have liked them if they were sausage lovers (which they're not!) Dang. But no worries, I will make them just for me...And maybe a few lucky neighbors. Oh yeah, they already got the recipe and made some themselves!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Potatoes, Potatoes, Potatoes.

One of the reasons this blog is named after potatoes is that they are extremely versatile, very nutritious, and they fill up hungry tummies quite nicely! One of my favorite ways to make a dollar (and a meal) stretch is to buy a 10# bag of Russet potatoes for $2.97 and try this during the course of a week:

Dinner #1 - Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Veggies, and Garlic Bread

I peel, chop and boil a 10 pound bag of russet potatoes. This will make enough potatoes for 3 different meals. You can add as many whole garlic cloves as you want - I use about 7-10. Then I use a hand beater to whip them up nice and creamy, using only soy milk, salt and pepper. No one ever complains there is no butter in them, they can't even tell!

We will also have corn on the cob, steamed broccoli, peas, asparagus, salad or whatever I have on hand as the "sides." Then I will make the kids some garlic bread and my hubby and I will have warmed bread. Viola! A dinner that makes everyone happy - and full.

Dinner # 2 Spud Tacos
My kids LOVE these! They usually have 2 - 4 each. I use a bit of oil to brown theirs, but I just use a tiny shot of spray oil for my hubby and I. Serve with rice and beans or salad & veggies. I got this idea from a favorite restaurant of mine called Mother's Kitchen.


Dinner #3 Homemade Gnoucci
I already posted recently about these. Again, another crowd pleaser!

One food. Three different ways. But there are a million more ways to eat a potato. What's your favorite way?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Grandma's Peasant Soup

Yesterday I was coming home from an activity with my four kids in the car. It was dinnertime already, and they were hungry. To top it off, I had no idea what I was going to make. We were approaching the familiar intersection near our home and my daughter called out, "Taco Bell! I'm staaaarving!" The thought crossed my mind.

Everyone fed for twelve dollars.
I could get a cheeseless bean burrito.
No preparation.
No dishes.

Car veers left...and....

"NO!" "You can whip up something." Insert devil on shoulder: "But I'm tired and I think I feel a cold coming on and..." "You can do it! Most people in the world don't have fast food!"

My concious won. And within 20 minutes I had a healthy, cheap, meal on the table that ALL the MEV's (meat-eating vegans) loved. It was nothing gourmet, nothing earth-shattering, just something I learned from my Italian Grandmother (who is now 91).

Grandma was born in 1917 and was 12 years old when the Depression hit. She remembers that she NEVER complained what was for dinner. They were lucky to have food at all. And when things got a little better, she remembers her father eating an apple every night before he went to bed. That was their "treat." So it is with fond memories, I share this recipe with you. Not to "WOW" you with my culinary skills - but to remind us all that we can make something out of almost nothing - and with the state of the economy, I think we can all be schooled a bit by Grandma about surviving hard times.


Grandma's Peasant Soup
Whether your poor on cash, or time, this soup will warm your soul and fill up hungry tummys.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups vegetable broth, or 6 cups water plus 6 teaspoons vegetable bouillon
  • 2 heads broccolli, or other veggie: spinach, zucchini, other squash
  • 2 cups cooked pasta (we like shells) or rice

Directions

I'll be honest, I completely guessed on the measurements for this soup. The truth is there IS no recipe. You use what you have on hand. Whether it's broccoli or yellow squash, brown rice or pasta shells. The idea is, a brothy soup with pasta or rice, and veggies.

Cook your pasta as indicated on package, or use leftover pasta or rice. Bring the vegetable broth to a boil. Once boiling, add the vegetable and cook for about 2 minutes. (If using spinach, just turn off the heat once you put it in.) Ladle soup over bowls of rice or pasta. For the kids, I cut up the broccoli into smaller pieces once in the bowl.

Garnish with soy parmesan, or if your at my house - the MEV's (mostly eating vegans or meat eating vegans ie. my kids and husband) use the real deal. Serve with crusty bread or toast.


Printable Version


Friday, March 6, 2009

Veggie California Rolls

I have been on a major California Roll kick lately. So I thought I would share how I do it, since the more I mention it, the more I find people love them, but never thought to make their own. They are very easy and inexpensive to make - you'll never pay for them again! Plus...brown rice & raw veggies?? It couldn't get any healthier. But some how your brain thinks it's way more special. And it is!


Veggie California Rolls

Before you begin, gather these items:

* short grain brown or white rice, hot cooked, or leftover
* seasoned rice vinegar
* Bamboo mat (you can purchase one at a regular grocery store - in the Asian section)
* Nori (Japanese seaweed, sold in sheets...buy same place as above)
* Assorted veggies (I like carrots, cucumber, spicy sprouts and sometimes avocado)
* small dish of water to dip fingers in
* soy sauce and wasabi (a green spicy paste used in Japanese cooking)
* sesame seeds (optional)
* pickled ginger (optional)


Cut up your veggies into thin strips. I used carrots, cucumbers, Daikon sprouts (which have a radish-like spiciness to them), and avocado. Make sure to scoop out the cucumber seeds before you slice. You can peel the cukes or leave unpeeled.



Lay your mat out on a flat surface or cutting board. Place 1 sheet of Nori on your mat shiny side down. (This is just so the pretty part is on the outside)

Heat up your rice by placing in micro, covered, so it gets hot and steamy.

Put 1 cup of rice per roll you want to make, in a big plastic bowl. Use 1 tablespoon rice vinegar per cup of rice. Stir rice with wooden or plastic spoon while it cools. This will get the starches going and create a very sticky rice - which you want in this case.

Spoon 1 cup of rice onto Nori and spread out, leaving an inch or so at the top so it can seal. Dip your fingers in the water to prevent them from sticking to rice. Press firmly making a nice thin rice patty on top of the Nori.

Place vegetables at the end closest to you. You will get to know how much you prefer - including more or less rice. The more fillings, the bigger the roll.





Dab the end of the roll (the part you left without rice) with some of the water from the dish (this will seal the roll together.) Without rolling the mat UP with the roll, use the mat to help you roll it tightly. For a video explanation, check out youtube!

Slice into 1" segments with a sharp knife. (I don't own a sharp knife -ahem- so I use a serrated bread knife)

Serve with pickled ginger, soy sauce, and wasabi. You can add some wasabi to the soy sauce for a spicier dipping sauce.

I could eat these every day! They store great in the fridge and are a quick healthy pick-me-up snack for a famished Mommy after school. Or a gourmet meal served with miso soup and terriyaki veggie bowls. Rock and Roll!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Groovy Granola Bars


I love packing lunches for my kids. Ok. That's a lie. But I do love sneaking healthy snacks into their lunches. I could say that they prefer nutritious salads and lots of veggies in their lunch, but that would be a lie as well. Come on, they're kids... and this is what I usually pack them:

* A sandwich, either peanut butter & honey, jelly, or banana OR a tasty muffin.
* Sliced apples or grapes.
* Something salty, like stick pretzels & peanuts or Sun Chips.
* And... something in the "goodie" category. This usually consists of some homemade "healthy" cookie or bar- which at times is not so healthy - because it contains a considerable amount of Earth Balance.
Side note: If I put carrot sticks in their lunch they don't eat them - so I feed them their veggies at home where I can make sure they don't wind up in the bottom of the trash can. (Which at times they do anyways!)

A friend of mine gave me this fun lunch box granola bar recipe. It originally called for 1 egg, 1/4 cup oil and 3/4 cup brown sugar. I adapted it by using 1 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer, 1/4 cup natural peanut butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar.

The result? Mmmm... you decide!!

This is a fun recipe to tweak and find your favorite variation. You can use coconut, different dried fruits and nuts, the combinations are endless. Substituting the peanut butter for the oil creates the perfect "glue" for all the little extras you add.

Groovy Granola Bars
  • ¼ cup natural peanut butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups crispy rice cereal
  • ½ cup golden raisins, or equivalent
In large bowl, combine peanut butter, brown sugar, honey, vanilla and egg replacer. Add flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Stir in oats, cereal, and raisins. Spray 9 X 13 inch pan with oil spray. Press mixture into pan. For chewy bars, bake 20 min -for crunchier bars bake 30 min, both at 350 degrees. Let cool and then slice into 16 bars.

You can reduce the sugar to your liking as well. Experiment to find your families favorite. My kids love them with chocolate chips, of course!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Spinach, Black Bean, & Rice Enchiladas with Authentic Red Sauce

I really wanted to enter Susan V's Vegetable Love contest this year. But with family staying with us from out of town, I forgot and now might be too late! 11 hours to be exact. I'm going to enter anyways but I don't think she'll put it in...we'll see. (Please, oh, please!) There. I thought a little begging might help.

Update: She did add my recipe to the bottom of the post. I'm not in the contest, but my recipe is there for all to see! (Thanks Susan!!)

This enchilada sauce recipe comes from my friend, G. Valdez' great grandmother. It is authentic baby!! So if you love enchilada sauce (which I do), then you will love this recipe. It is incredibly easy! This is what the chiles look like that you need to purchase. One bag makes one recipe.


Spinach, Black Bean & Rice Enchiladas with Authentic Red Sauce


Authentic Red Enchilada Sauce

1 bag of dried California Chiles (about 10 in bag)
cooking liquid from chiles (enough to equal 5 cups when all ingredients are added)
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cocoa
5 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon sugar (not in the original recipe, but added for good measure)

1. Break off the stems of the chiles and remove all seeds.
2. Place chiles in pot and fill the pot with water.
3. Bring water to boil and cook for 20 minutes, until chilies are tender.
4. Strain out chilies, but reserve the water.
5. Place chilies in blender (or Vitamix : )) along with the rest of the ingredients, then add enough cooking liquid to equal 5 cups total sauce.

Assembling Enchiladas:

1. Dip corn, low-fat flour or low-fat whole wheat tortillas in sauce -
2. Lay fresh spinach leaves down first. Followed by your favorite Mexican Rice (or use my recipe), then top with a spoonful of canned black beans (liquid drained)
3. Roll up and place in a 9 X 13 pan. You can cover and refrigerate at this point. Saving the last step until right before you eat.
4. Ladle additional sauce over enchiladas and bake at 350 degrees for 20 min.

Added Tip: Because you don't fry the tortillas in oil, they tend to soak up a lot of sauce when you bake them. Next time, I will bake them with very little sauce, reserving the rest. Then before I serve them, ladle the warm sauce over the enchiladas resulting in a moister enchilada with more sauce on top instead of baked in. They were still delicious, however - I just like it more saucy!



Jenn's Mexican Rice

1 yellow onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
2 cups short grain brown rice (or your favorite rice)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup salsa (fresh is fine)

1. Saute onion and garlic in a few teaspoons of water or a quick shot of non-stick spray - until golden.
2. Add the red bell pepper and saute till soft.
3. Add the rice and stir until rice begins to brown.
4. Add liquid, cumin, sugar, and salsa.
5. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook for 25 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.
6. Add corn and cilantro. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.




Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Instant Breakfast Rice

Lately, I'm a big fan of quick and easy. The spring cleaning bug is hitting me early this year (probably because of the summer-like weather we've been having - ugh!) and I just don't have the time or energy to be trying lots of new dishes when I'm trying to clean up the effects of a busy winter season. So...I've been eating lots of short grain brown rice (my absolute favorite grain - below) various different ways.



One of my favorite ways is in this recipe that I got from a friend (thanks KJ : ) and then "McDougallized" it. Using rice as a breakfast grain may sound strange to you , but actually it has been around for ages. We just aren't used to seeing rice on the breakfast table here on the west coast.


Instant Breakfast Rice
Try replacing your daily bowl of oatmeal with this warm and cozy comfort food. And if you get a sweet tooth after dinner - why not have another?

1/2 - 1 cup leftover short grain brown rice
sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon
add a dash of vanilla (or not)
Top with your favorite non-dairy milk (use a little; or more for creamier rice)

Optional:
fresh grated apples
dried raisins, cranberries, or cherries

Heat in microwave for 2 minutes.
Enjoy!




This is fast becoming my go to, even over cold cereal - which I love! Today I made some even without the milk; Just heated up some rice, added freshly grated apples, cinnamon & brown sugar...viola! It was simple, tasty and virtually mess free. Let me know what combinations you some up with!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Homemade Gnocchi

Have you ever tried to make Gnocchi?



I guess I'm into international cuisine this month, well, always. I love dishes from other countries, and in this case Italy. But actually, gnocchi are quite popular in our neck of the woods. Even Olive Garden now makes a Chicken Gnocchi soup.

We have always enjoyed these in our family. I loved them as a child (my grandmother is full Italian.) Also, my husband lived in Argentina for 2 years and fell in love with them while there. But I had never made them homemade, only store bought off the shelf or frozen. What took me so long?

Homemade gnocchis are tender, melt in your mouth, potato dumplings - sturdy enough to handle a red sauce or delicate enough for an addition to a brothy soup. I even attempted to make some for my husband on our first date. I bought the already prepared kind- all I had to do was boil water people! And I burned them to the bottom of the pan!!

I found this recipe online and adapted them to make them vegan. (All I had to do was omit the egg.) I happened to have some dehydrated potatoes, so I figured, why not? The result was so amazing that I will NEVER buy them from the store again. The whole family agreed.

Gnocchi are easy and fun to make with your kids or family. They freeze super well. (Just layer them between paper towels or wax paper) And they are very versatile! Don't let the little rolling out work scare you. Put on some music and go to work. I found the process very methodical and relaxing.

Homemade Gnocchi

1 1/2 cups dehydrated potato flakes (or 2 cups mashed potatoes, cold, leftover is perfect)
1 1/2 cups hot water (omit the water if using leftover mashed potatoes)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (omit the salt if mashed potatoes were already seasoned)

Mix together the potato flakes and the hot water in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the salt. Add the flour and kneed until combined. It will be crumbly at first, but will form a nice dough after about 1 minute of kneading. Roll into thin ropes (using a bit at a time) and cut each rope into one inch segments. Roll a fork over each one to make prong marks on the gnocchi.

note: I am planning to try using fresh mashed potatoes soon, and will report if it's worth the extra work!



To cook:
Boil a pot of water in a medium sized pot. When the water comes to a boil, add the gnocchi. Stir every few minutes. When gnocchi floats to the top, they are done. Strain and serve with favorite pasta sauce, or add to soups in place of noodles. Yummy!!


I made a batch of homemade marinara sauce for the kids & hubby
and just added some sauted mushrooms and olives to my own dish.


UPDATE: I just made them again tonight with leftover mashed potatoes (not dehydrated). I used 2 cups potatoes to 2 cups flour. I didn't think they could be better, but they were even MORE tender than before. If you have leftover mashed potatoes to use up, there is no time difference. Make these!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Ebelskivers

Have you ever had an Ebelskiver?

Some friends of ours introduced these to us a while back and as I was thinking of something yummy and special to make for New Year's Day Brunch, these popped into my mind. After a little research on the world wide web, I realized that I could just use my standard pancake batter recipe. I'm sure the Danish would cringe at my rendition - but really, I don't need anything better than this, it was an all around crowd pleaser!!

Vegan Ebelskivers
You'll need an Ebleskiver pan to make these. They taste like mini donuts!

1. Follow the recipe for The Best Fatfree Pancakes or Waffles Ever
2. Heat Ebelskiver pan over medium heat.
3. Spray with non-stick spray (may need to add a bit more oil if pan is new and unseasoned.)
4. Pour batter into "holes" filling to top, but not over flowing.
5. Cook until golden on one side, then flip over using a wooden skewer to continue cooking.
6. Serve with powdered sugar and/or a variety of jams.

These ones were made using only non-stick spray

These ones, I poured a bit of oil in each "hole" - ya know, for the non-McDougallers


What a fun, special treat - we will definitely be making these again!!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Hummus, Tabbouleh, and Phyllo

New Year's Eve turned out to be a yummy spread of Middle Eastern cuisine, none of which I had planned to make until about 2 hours before. We were just going to order pizza for the kids and another family that joined us. But after making a trip to our local Middle Eastern market and purchasing some fresh pita bread, I got the bug. The cooking bug.

I started out making some home made hummus and slicing up some veggies. I added smoked paprika, fresh garlic and lemon to the hummus. I add only 1 tablespoon of tahini per can of garbanzos to keep the hummus low-fat.

Then I made some Tabbouleh from a package (I've tried from scratch before and it was blah). The Tabbouleh was very tasty topping a pita triangle spread with hummus.

When I was at the market picking up the pita and veggies, I saw they had a big package of blackberries for $3.29! I got them thinking that at the very least I would use them to top a bowl of oatmeal.

After making the hummus and Tabbouleh, I remembered I had some phyllo dough in the freezer that I had always been afraid of using. Today was the day. I had seen a recipe on FatfreeVegan.com for Blackberry-Lime Tartletts which fit into my theme merely because they used phyllo dough and I had purchased the berries at the Middle Eastern market! The tartletts were divine!! Light, fruity-sweet, with a touch of tart - a perfect nibble (which I nibbled on all night) - never feeling that uncomfortable fullness of a rich holiday meal. Susan, you are a genius!! How can I ever thank you for all your yummy recipes?

Lastly, I had some left over phyllo dough from the tarletts that I wanted to use up, so my daughter helped me find a yummy filling. Again, on Susan's website. We used the Spinach and Artichoke Pie recipe and instead tucked them inside squares of phyllo we folded over to make into triangles. My daughter and I thought they needed a dipping sauce and after trying a few, settled on a honey-mustard (yellow mustard & brown sugar) sauce which went over very well.

Overall I loved working with phyllo dough! I don't know what I was so scared of. It is flakey and tender, but naturally super low in fat. Making it a perfect choice for subbing out rich pastry-type doughs in desserts, appetizers or more. A few tips on working with phyllo that I learned.
1. Keep it moist. If you have it out on the counter cover with a damp paper towel or cloth.
2. Use about 5 layers to make good "crust"
3. Spray lightly between layers with canola oil - every layer, or just the top and bottom. Have fun Experimenting.

I don't have pics of the Spinach and Artichoke Triangles, it was too dark when I made them, and they were gone that night.

Writing this post reminds me of the children's book entitled, "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" Of which my book should be called, "If You Give A Gal A Garbanzo"
 

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