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)

fresh grated apples
dried raisins, cranberries, or cherries

Heat in microwave for 2 minutes.

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


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 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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