Friday, August 26, 2011

Fig Marmalade Pie with Low-fat Crust and Lavender Sugar




With six cups of fresh figs in my fridge not getting any fresher, I needed to do something with them, fast.  I used the technique from Mini Cherry Pies, to make this simple fig deliciousness.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Non-dairy Gourmet "Tuna" Noodle Casserole (with vegan option)

My favorite compliment from my husband, "Can you make this again?" began with my son running in from the park asking, "Can we have pasta and tuna and frozen corn?"

Yes, my children would have been satisfied with pasta covered in ketchup, tuna salad, and frozen, literally still frozen, corn.  But, ew, really?

Though sardines are usually more expensive than canned tuna, I've been trying to steer my family toward these healthier and more ecological little fishies.  I even found a brand I love.  I call them "sardines for beginners."  No heads, tails, spines or scales, and no fish breath.  My husband was the last hold out, preferring the the dry mercury laden giants often called "the hot dog of fish" (canned tuna).  But even he couldn't resist sardines smothered in this flavorful creamy sauce in a familiar, noodle casserole format. 

For school lunch, try it cold, for a one-dish, energy packed, lunch to-go!

The sauce is so fast and easy to make, you can begin the prep at the same time you start the pasta water.  And like all my "non-recipes" the ingredients are flexible.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Knives: Choice, Care, Storage, PLUS Product Recommendations

I purchased some new knives at the beginning of the summer, and I have been dying to tell you all about it.

Purchasing or Registering for Knives 

When buying knives, I recommend two or three very good knives that will last your whole life, rather than a set that appears to have more value.  The knives in the set may be of lower quality and they are likely to take up valuable real estate in your kitchen.  Additionally, the knife blocks that come in sets tend to be very bulky, take up a lot of space on your counter, and only fit the knives with which they are sold.  However, if your family eats a lot of steak and you depend of a full set of quality steak knives, go for the set.

Restaurant discount stores can be a good place to find quality knives, but you may also see some of the top brands in mega-marts and grocery stores.  I did some price comparison and feel that I got a good deal on Amazon.com.  Stick to well known brands.  Knives made in Europe are generally higher quality.  Specifically, Germany has an excellent reputation for blades.  (I never buy a pencil sharpener without making sure the blade was made in Germany.)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Make Pre-mixed Bulgur Salad

The end of summer is a busy time.  Everyone I know seems to be moving, having a baby, taking a last minute vacation, or getting ready for school to begin.  Busy times can lead to poor food choices, so I want to take this post to remember an old favorite - instant bulgur pilaf.

Bulgur wheat is pre-boiled, dried, and cracked.  It cooks as easily as instant oatmeal, is faster and healthier than instant rice, and fit for lunch or dinner.  And, it's a whole lot cheaper than pre-packaged grain mixes.

You will need a clean container that closes tightly.  I'm using the jar from instant coffee.  Before you begin, check all your ingredients and spices for bugs.  (One wormy walnut will ruin your whole batch.  Ew.)

Fill about halfway with bulgur wheat, then add whatever you like.  The bulgur will double in size, so season accordingly.  Don't be shy!  Have fun, be creative, mix and close tightly.  Here is what went into my last batch:
  • bulgur
  • sun-dried tomatoes (not marinated) chopped small
  • dry shitake mushrooms, broken small  
  • pine nuts
  • dehydrated onions
  • whole mustard seeds 
  • dry thyme
  • dry basil
  • ground coriander seed
  • garlic powder
  • ground red pepper flakes
  • citric acid 
  • salt
For a single serving, poor 1/4 to 1/2 cup of mix into a bowl or hot cup, add twice as much boiling water, stir, cover, wait for grains to absorb all water.

Featured in Slightly Indulgent Tuesday; 8/16/11

Friday, August 12, 2011

Food Photography Video

Feast your eyes on these awesome photos from Modernist Cuisine.  Photographer and scientist Nathan Myhrvold talks about how they get those amazing images, and what happens after the camera flashes.  To see more, check out the Modernist Cuisine Blog.


The Photography from Modernist Cuisine on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

All About Iron & Black Lentil Salad

I did pretty well in high school and college.  Multiple choice tests, essay tests, I could handle them all, with the exception of oral Spanish tests.  Now I'm in my third trimester of pregnancy and most of my tests involve my blood, not my brains.  My blood is in severe need of after-school enrichment in order to pass the hemoglobin portion of my retake-test.

Adult women need about 18 mg of iron per day and pregnant women need 27.  However, not all iron is absorbed equally.  The body absorbs iron from animal sources (heme iron) much better then iron from plant sources (non-heme iron).  For instance, 100 mg of egg has 2-3 mg of iron, all of which is absorbed by the body, 100 mg of boiled spinach has 4 mg, but only about 1.2 mg is absorbed.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mock Plantains / Banana Chip FAIL

First, some advice.  If you think about making something with green bananas, DO IT before your bananas ripen.  This might have worked with really starchy bananas, but instead I got a sweet mush.

My husband and I were reminiscing about how much we used to enjoy plantains.  My dad and I slice them, oil and salt them, and lay them out in the oven to bake.  We wait until the plantains are mostly brown.


I thought I might try the same thing with bananas, but they were too moist and just deflated into a wimpy goo, only fit for spreading on pound cake or putting on top of ice cream.

FYI, this idea isn't totally crazy.  Penniless Parenting had success with her Fried Green Bananas.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Save Time at the Grocery Store with a Pre-printed List

In my home growing up, my parents always had pre-printed shopping lists where we could put what we wanted in its appropriate aisle to make shopping easier.  Our local grocery store was recently turned into a small, decently priced mega-mart, and it seemed appropriate to finally make my own shopping list.

Next time you have an extra few minutes at your favorite grocery store, make a record of what is sold in each aisle.  You can zip around with a camera or camera phone and snap photos of the aisle signs as well as items you buy or things you want to remember in each aisle.  You could also go with a pad of paper, but I think taking a few pictures (flash off) in each aisle is fastest.  Remember how many aisles there are and think about the best way to represent them on paper. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Summer Salad Links & Asian Coleslaw

First, my coleslaw: 

Cabbage is easy, cheap, and has numerous health benefits.  I often make an Asian-inspired coleslaw as an alternative the to classic mayonnaise version.  It's easy, and I just add whatever I'm in the mood for like:
  • half a cabbage sliced, or a package of thinly sliced coleslaw mix
  • shredded or matchstick carrots (optional)
  • rice wine vinegar
  • sesame oil
  • soy sauce or tamari sauce
  • date syrup or molasses
  • lots of sesame seeds (toasting optional)
  • dried cranberries, preferably unsweetened
  • washed bean sprouts (optional)
  • Optional: Before serving crumble instant egg noodles/Raman noodles into the salad. 

Now, for the invaluable links:

I just came across one of the most comprehensive lists of mouthwatering salads I have seen on the web, in link form.  It is well organized and you are sure to find something to fit your occasion.  My problem was, where to start?  The list was compiled by Leora A of Here in HP.  Check out her great list of Simple Summer Salads!

Photo by Leora @ Here in HP
I was especially intrigued by some of the "Light Meal Salads," including
Ilana-Davita's Salade Ni├žoise – Carbohydrate-Free Recipe
Leora's Japanese Noodle Vegetable Salad with Peanut Sauce
Chanita Harel's Tuna,Red Cabbage and Caper Salad 

There are also several recipes for vegetarian pate / mock chopped liver, such as the two recipes posted by Laura of Pragmatic Attic in her post "Tastes Like the Real Thing Vegetarian Chopped Liver."

Hey, look, Leora included my Quinoa Tabbouleh!

While we're talking salad, have you heard of purslane?  I'm still intrigued by urban foraging, but the summer seems barren of edible weeds.  Not so!  Mimi of Israeli Kitchen introduces purslane and how to eat it in her post, "Purslane, Summer's Edible Weed."

For a compilation of my salad posts, CLICK HERE.  Some salads you'll find here:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

EASY Pickled Watermelon Rind

You may also enjoy last weeks post: Curried Watermelon Rind & Mango Salad.  Below are directions to make the easiest pickled melon rinds ever.  This is great for a small batch that you want to eat within the month, not for large batch preserving.
  1. Cut watermelon rind into workable sections.  Peel with sharp knife and remove pink fruit.
  2. Stuff small jars with slices.  Boil water in the microwave or kettle.
  3. Add to each small jar: 2 tsp salt, 2 tsp sugar, and 3 Tbs cider vinegar. (You can experiment with adding whole spices like cloves or mustard, crystallized ginger, more sugar, more vinegar or alcoholic beverages.)
  4. Top with boiling water.  
  5. Using an oven mitt or rag, shake to mix.
  6. Unless you use proper canning/preserving procedures*, refrigerate jars when cool.
  7. For best results let soak close to a week before enjoying. 
*If you want to preserve a large batch, you may want to use a proper recipe like these sweet Pickled Watermelon Rinds on allrecipes.com.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mini Cherry Pies (Reduced Fat)

"Guest Worthy Wednesday" (see top menu bar) is coming early this week, because I just can't wait to share this delicious treat with you and the participants of "Slightly Indulgent Tuesday."

I was inspired to make Cherry Pie by the mouthwatering pictures on Ari Cooks "Welcoming July with Sour Cherry Pie." However, I needed something a bit easier and with less fat than traditional pie crusts.  (We can pretend it was for health reasons, but I also was restrained by only having one spoonful of margarine left in the fridge.)

For the filling you will need:
  • 3-4 cups clean pitted cherries, halved, or other seasonal fruit cut in small pieces.  (I added three red plums.)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1-2 Tbs fresh lemon juice 
  • A small pot

Make a Protective Cookbook Cover

While you're helping your kids cover their textbooks, why not make a little something for yourself?  With a cookbook cover, you can have your favorite cookbook in the midst of flying oil and sauce and not have to worry about the pages.

  1. Find heavy clear plastic, like what they sell in rolls to cover tables, or to make shower curtain liners.
  2. Cut enough to cover your favorite cookbook while it is open.  Leave a little extra at the open end.
  3. Tape the edges, or sew using an extra wide stitch.  Don't forget to leave one side open!  You can use a clip to hold the plastic in place while you tape or sew.  You can even use decorative tape. 
  4. Optional - To hold the open end closed you can use stick-on Velcro, a large paper clip, or a chip-clip.

Now splatter away!  Pile ingredients on your cookbook!  Bring it right into the action!  Just wipe off after each use and store folded in half on your cookbook shelf.

Monday, August 1, 2011

What's in Season? August/Summer 2011

What’s In Season?I'm excited to host my first Link-up, and everyone is invited!  You can link any post relevant to what you are enjoying now.
  • What's growing, what's being sold, or what you like just because it's August.
  • Stories, love notes, pictures, and thoughts on August food and August cooking where ever you live.

AND if you don't have a post to link, you can still comment or e-mail me submissions!  Just include whatever biographical information you want to share, including a link to your blog, business, or online profile.  You don't have to be a blogger to join this party.  Send me pictures of what's growing in your backyard or what's on sale in your local market.


And the Winner Is...

Deb!  Congratulations, to Deb of Wise Old Owl Designs, the winner of my Apron Giveaway!  Deb entered just in the nick of time.  I look forward to hearing which apron she will choose.

I used the instructions on Random.org to choose a winner.  You can see the beginning of the number sequence in the images below.

I want to thank you all for your kind and encouraging comments about the aprons and my blog.  I love writing this blog and it's so nice to hear that someone is enjoying it!


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