Enough of winter!

I’m done with winter.  Like ending a bad relationship, I’m ready to pack my bags, take my lessons learned and move on.  I’m starting a rebound relationship with Spring and hopefully Summer will be kind and take me back again in a few months.  I can’t even explain the sheer joy I felt when i was at my favorite garden store last weekend and realized they had started selling spring veggies.  I have to give the hubs credit for managing not to laugh at me or roll his eyes when i packed up a cart full of plants, loaded them into the backseat of his car and yelled, “Jeeves, to the greenhouse!”

"Jeeves, to the greenhouse!"

And since last year was all about getting fruit trees all around the yard, this year, I’m focusing more on the food garden.  I’m thinking after all these years Square Foot Gardening hasn’t turned out to be a fad so now seems like a good time to try it.  I’ve been doing the traditional row planting every year up until now and figure it may be time to try the super intensive gardening style that has plants growing together in squares instead of rows.  I even got an app that helps you plan the whole thing out and was truly shocked that I actually need more plants than I ever needed before for just one 19′ x 3′ area.  Unlike my usual MO, I will not be doing the entire yard all at once this year.  I have actually “hired” the Hubs to use his skills as a Project Manager to manage my garden project this year.  Section by section seems to be the way to go. I suspect there is some secret joy there for the Hubs to have license to tell me to focus on one thing at a time (something a multi-tasker like me has no use for), but since I know it’s the smart way to go, I’ll give it a try this year.

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This spring is starting off the same way last spring did.  With me loading my 5 gallon buckets into the back of my SUV with my shovel.  It must have been fate that had me end up in a township that collects everyone’s leaves in the fall, composts them and piles it up in the Spring for free.  If not I think the added cost of dirt and amendments would have caused my husband to veto the amount of yard space I claimed for the garden.  (And the fact that it gets bigger every year). But sometimes a girl just gets lucky.  I did a few runs yesterday back and forth from the garden to the compost pile to get those shoveling muscles going again this year.  I was clearly a little too happy about shoveling compost.  I may or may not have said, “YES!” with a Tiger Woods style fist pump when I saw the compost pile was freshly filled. My poor car on the other hand is probably not thrilled at the prospect of being covered in compost again.  Thankfully it’s completely finished compost which doesn’t smell like anything and looks gorgeous and dark like that super expensive mulch I bought for a few years.  Live and learn…

Bokashi.jpg

And onto my next oddball adventure for this year.  I’m going to give bokashi composting a try.  My dear husband likes to say that if it were up to me we would only have a recycling bill and not a garbage bill since I seem to think  you can recycle or compost anything.  Well, we’re getting closer to my ideal now that i found you can dump meat, dairy, and bread into the bokashi without any off smells. So I ordered by bucket and powder and we’ll see how it goes. They claim two weeks with the bucket then I can feed it to my worm composter. We’ll see how this works out. But as long as winter is done I’m happy!!

In The Pantry — Coconut Flour

I made a recent visit to Wegmans to refill the (seemingly millions) of Pop containers I have with all sorts of whole grains and flours.  When my shopping reminder for Coconut Flour came up I figured I should find some way to use up what I had.  I love coconut.  Not that I’m hoping for this, but if I ever get stuck on a desert island, I’ll be ok as long as there are a few coconut trees around.  I checked the package information and it said you can substitute Coconut Flour for up to 1/3 of the flour in any recipe. So, morning muffins seemed like a perfect place to test it out.

To my surprise, the muffins didn’t taste overwhelmingly of coconut, but they had a great light texture.  They also didn’t brown up as much as muffins usually do, so I had to check on them with the cake tester (toothpick) to see that there was a crumb clinging to it before I took it out.

 

Blueberry-Orange Muffins (Makes 12 muffins)

Blueberry Muffins

 

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour or whole grain pastry flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup light flavored oil (safflower, grapeseed, etc)
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon finely shredded orange peel (NOTE: Wait until the liquid ingredients are mixed and grate the orange peel over the liquid ingredients)
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Add paper liners to a 12 cup muffin pan or spray the cups with an oil spray.
2. Stir together flour, coconut flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl. Make a well in the center of flour mixture.
3. Whisk eggs until fluffy.  (The volume will increase and there will be fine bubbles on top.)  Slowly pour in the oil while whisking the eggs again.  Add milk while continuing to whisk.  Grate the orange peel over the liquid ingredients to try and capture any extra orange oil.
4. Pour liquid ingredients into the well you made in the flour mixture.  Fold the dry ingredients over onto the liquid ingredients.  Stir just until moistened (batter will be lumpy). Fold in blueberries.
5. Use a large cookie scoop to get the  batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each almost full. If desired, sprinkle tops with coarse sugar.
6. Bake in preheated oven 20 minutes.
7. Cool in muffin cups on wire rack 5 minutes.
8. Remove from muffin cups.

Fill the Freezer — Blueberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

After wading through too many posts and news stories about all the recalls, hidden additives and preservatives in foods lately, I’ve embarked on an effort that I’m calling my Fill the Freezer campaign.  I decided to fill my large standing freezer with lots of food that is homemade, but can easily be heated up or cooked in the time it takes us to get delivery or drive out to grab takeout.  As part of the effort I decided that I also need to resume making my own ice cream.  I used to make my own ice cream, but there was a texture component that I just was not a fan of.  There were just too many ice crystals that got in the way of transferring the flavors.  I’m not a huge ice cream fan, but I love pudding.  There’s something about the way the flavors of a pudding develop on your taste buds in layers and leave a warming vanilla aftertaste.  I’ve read every ice cream recipe book (sometimes cover to cover) I could get my hands on to figure out how to get the right texture.  Then I found Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home and mystery solved, the texture was perfect.  All the creamy yummy texture of pudding that allowed my preference for big bold flavors to transfer perfectly.

Then, I had to ask The Hubs (my in-house ice cream expert) for ideas for flavors.  He turned to me and said, “You know what flavor you can never find in the store? Blueberry!”  I was stumped.  I’ve wandered freezer aisles everywhere and don’t remember ever seeing just a plain Blueberry Ice Cream.  There were lots of strawberry ice creams, but no blueberry.  So, I made a few changes to Jeni’s Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream and voila!  After 24 hours in the freezer, I asked The Hubs to try it out.  I took a spoonful and it was a gorgeous true blueberry flavor with a creamy vanilla finish that just tasted like summer.  The Hubs loved it  and gave me the “Now, when I ask you to make this again two months from now, don’t you tell me you forgot the recipe” look so I figured documentation was in order:

Blueberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

BlueberryIceCream

 

Blueberries:

1 quart blueberries

1 ½ cup sugar

Juice of half a lemon

Ice Cream Base:

4 tablespoons tapioca starch/flour

3 cups whole milk (reserve 4 tablespoons)

2 ½ cups heavy cream

1 ⅓ cup sugar

4 tablespoons tapioca syrup

½ cup buttermilk

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

¼ tsp fine sea salt

1 tbsp vanilla

 

  • Cook down blueberries in stock pot until temp reaches 220F.  Set aside to cool.

  • Make a slurry of 4 tablespoons of milk & 4 tablespoons tapioca starch.  Set aside. 

  • Add the milk, heavy cream, sugar, tapioca syrup & buttermilk to the stock pot.  Pour about ½ cup of blueberry syrup into the pot.

    NOTE: Use the same stock pot that you used to cook the blueberries (there should still be some blueberry syrup still sticking to the inside of the pot so use a wooden spoon and the warm milk to get the rest of it off the sides & bottom of the pan.)

  • Set the pot over medium-high heat and let it come to a boil.

  • In a 2 quart glass measuring cup, whisk sea salt into the softened cream cheese.

  • When the milk mixture starts boiling, set your timer for 4 minutes.

  • At the end of the 4 minutes, remove the stock pot from the heat and slowly whisk in the tapioca starch slurry.

  • Return the pot to the heat and stir with a wooden spoon while it boils for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat.

  • Ladle about 1 cup of the milk mixture into the cream cheese and whisk.  Add more ladles and whisk until no cream cheese lumps appear.

  • Add the rest of the milk mixture to the cream cream cheese mixture and whisk.

  • Set aside to cool.

  • When the steam subsides, add the vanilla, cover the measuring cup and refrigerate for 24 hours

  • Insert the frozen base into a 2 quart ice cream machine.

  • Whisk the ice cream base THOROUGHLY to homogenize it.  There will be some parts that are thicker than others.

  • Add the ice cream base to the ice cream machine.

  • Set two alarms: one for 30 minutes and one for 25 minutes.

  • At 25 minutes, Drain the blueberries and add them to the ice cream base.  If you have syrup left over you can add up to ¼ cup.

  • At 30 minutes move the ice cream to a 2 quart container and freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.

 

 

Homemade Granola kind of morning

I’m on a granola kick now. This of course goes back to my yogurt making. I’ve stretched the yogurt making time from 12 hours to 15 so now its tart. Which I love, but it screams for granola. I considered buying some in the store. But the kid was sleeping, Hubs was running the Broad Street Run and so I rummaged.

Granola

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Preheat oven to 250F

In a large bowl:
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup sweetened coconut or shredded unsweetened
3 Tablespoons Maca Powder
1 cup raw hazelnuts
3/4 tsp salt

In another bowl/measuring cup:
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup honey

In a separate bowl:
1 cup roasted & salted pistachios
1/2 cup tart cherries
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

Add oil & honey mixture to oat mixture. Mix with your hands. Spread out on a sheet pan. And put in the oven.

Set a timer to go off every 15 minutes. You will need to turn the mixture so it bakes evenly.

Let it bake for an hour and a half. As soon as its done, take it out of the oven and pour the contents of the remaining bowl on top of the hot oats and turn with a spatula to mix it all together while its still warm.

Let cool completely on the sheet pan. Use spatula to loosen from the sheet pan (this is crumbly granola not bars) Store in an airtight container.

Serve with tart Greek-style yogurt & fruit.

Nuts for Biscotti….

Well, it seems my parents are hooked on biscotti again and this time it’s mine.  (Yeah!)  Ok, I’m hooked too…  So, now I’m on a kick to try out as many different kinds of biscotti as I can.  Since I once had a rather unusual breakfast obsession with Nutella on toast at one time in the past, it seemed logical (to me) that whenever I think of hazelnuts, I think of chocolate and coffee.  I should say that I like my biscotti big so I can just grab one and go, so if you prefer smaller biscotti, just make two logs instead of one.

 

 

Double Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

Double Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

2-2/3 cups flour
1/3 cups cocoa powder
2-1/4 tsp  baking powder
3/4 salt
1 Tbsp espresso powder
3 eggs
1-1/3 cup (9 oz) organic cane sugar
3/4 c safflower oil
1 tbsp vanilla
1-1/2 c hazelnuts
3/4 c dark chocolate chips

 

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Roast hazelnuts for 15 minutes or until fragrant.  After 8 minutes, shake pan to rotate hazelnuts.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder & salt.
  • Add vanilla to the oil.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar on medium for three minutes until pale and thick.
  • Beat in vanilla & oil mixture on low speed.
  • Using a wooden spoon, add the flour mixture.
  • Add the hazelnuts and chocolate chips.
  • Using a spatula, transfer dough (which should be quite sticky) to the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Shape into one long log (will be about the length of the baking sheet & 6 inches wide).
  • Wet fingertips and gently smooth the top of the logs.
  • Bake the logs for 25 minutes.  They should be crisp and golden on the outside.  They will still be soft on the inside.
  • Line another baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Cut the logs into 1-inch wide pieces.  Use a serrated steak knife if possible.  Cut slowly and wipe the knife off between cuts to ensure clean cuts each time.
  • Using a long icing knife or long spatula, lift the pieces to the new baking sheet.  Lay the cut pieces on their side.  Space them evenly about 1/2-inch or more apart.
  • Bake in the oven for 22 minutes or until they are crisp and brown on the outside.
  • Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 20 minutes or until cool to the touch.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  As the cookies cool they will become crisper.
  • Store in an airtight container.

My Not So Secret Food Obsession (Cabbage?!)

When I was growing up, I remember listening to conversations back and forth with school friends about how much they hated cabbage. They would tell horror stories of it cooking on the stove for hours and stinking up the entire house. If you even mentioned cabbage to one, she would claim to have fallen dramatically ill and would be unable to eat anything for the rest of the day (did I mention we were in elementary school). Well, I used to sit there listening to these conversations, completely and utterly confused. My dad made cabbage all the time and I never smelled anything. Instead of the boil all day cabbage that my friends would discuss with such disgust, I was treated to Stir-Fried Cabbage.

There are a few foods that I am oddly obsessed with and Stir Fry Cabbage is so high on that list, it may be embarrassing. When my dad made cabbage, my uncle and I would end up standing at the stove some nights and eating it straight out of the pot when I was supposed to be putting it away in the fridge. We both had infuriated stories of times when we went into the fridge for leftovers and either he or I had eaten the last of the cabbage leaving my dad no other option than to make more to avoid a war.

Now, I understand that for most people cabbage is an all day undertaking and ends up tasting horrific. If you’re willing to give it another try… try this version. Jamaican Stir-Fried Cabbage is crunchy and flavorful. You cook it just long enough to wilt the cabbage and it’s flavored with red pepper and garlic. It’s sweet and a little salty and pairs beautifully with any number of dishes. Fish, Corned Beef…. wow I could go on all day about this…

 

 

Stir Fried Cabbage

 

Stir Fry Cabbage

 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 red pepper, sliced thinly

1-3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly

!/2 head of cabbage, sliced thinly

1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

NOTE: Everything has to be cut and ready to go before the oil is hot in the pan

Set a dutch oven or 4 quart soup pot over medium-high heat. When droplets of water curl into balls and skate over the surface of the pan, add the olive oil and red pepper. Move the red pepper around the pan until it is coated in the oil, then drop in the garlic. Put all the cabbage in the pot at once with the salt and pepper. Move the cabbage around the pan until all the cabbage is coated in oil. Keep moving the cabbage around. So all the cabbage gets heated evenly. The cabbage will shrink in volume as you cook it. When all the cabbage is coated in oil, test a small bite. It should be crunchy. Move the cabbage to your serving dish. Keep in mind the cabbage will keep cooking in the serving dish so leave it open to maintain the crunch and serve as soon as you can.

So Many Apples…

Apple ButterSometimes it takes the right recipe to change your mind about a food. I could never understand why people got so hype over apple butter. It always tasted so one dimensional to me. Then, The Bestie gave me some of her mom’s apple butter. I had that eye popping moment of… “Whoa! It really does exist!” (from the M&M commercials with Santa) — There really is “good” apple butter! Her mom slow baked it with a lot of cloves so it was thick and had a ton of flavor. So, oddly enough my first thought was… This would be amazing in my yogurt! The yogurt took an extra tablespoon of honey per jar because she makes it with sweet apples and doesn’t add sugar, and it was amazing.  It would probably be amazing in ice cream too.

When it was done, I figured, I’m going to see if I can figure out how to make apple butter myself. I still had three half bushels of apples from my trip up to Weaver’s Orchard (my new favorite spot to get apples and other fruit) with The Bestie. So, I certainly had enough that if I messed it up I would still have enough to try again. Since I usually get tart apples, I knew I would need to add sugar. I laid out every cookbook I had that had an apple butter recipe in it and started trying to figure out how to get started. I couldn’t believe how many of the recipes called for just a teaspoon of cinnamon for the whole batch. I love spices so that wasn’t going to work for me. So, I opened up the spice drawer and pulled out everything that sounded interesting.

Apple Butter Yogurt

Apple Butter Yogurt

It took forever to bake, which was fine since I didn’t have to do anything but check it occasionally to make sure it reached the thick consistency I was looking for. When I was done I ended up with 5-1/2 quarts so I had to can it since the freezer had absolutely no space left. I used a huge bag of apples so you can adjust the recipe proportions down as needed. The apple butter ended up being perfect on my buttered bread with my Curried Cauliflower & Potato Soup. The tartness was fantastic with the earthy spices in the soup.

 

Apple Butter

16 pounds tart baking apples (I used courtland apples), cored and quartered (leave the skins on the apples)
16 cups apple juice/cider

Zest & Juice of 3 small lemons
2 cup sugar
2 cups maple syrup
2 Tbsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp cloves
1 Tbsp allspice
1 tsp ginger
1/2 t cardamom
1 cup port
2 star anise pods

In a large stock pot over medium-low heat, cover and simmer apples in apple juice/cider for 2 hours (from the time it starts to bubble). After 2 hours apples should be soft enough to process through a food mill to puree and remove the skins.

Preheat oven to 250F.

Put the pureed apples in a non-reactive large roasting pan (glass or stainless steel). Add lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, cardamom, port and star anise pods. Stir to combine. Leave to bake for 10 hours or until it reaches the desired consistency.  Remove the star anise pods before storing or serving.

Serve on warm biscuits.

 

Refrigerate the apple butter if using in the next few weeks.  Use a water-bath canner to can any apple butter you can’t use (or give away).

 

Cookies for everyone…

You know those days when you just can’t decide if you want an oatmeal raisin cookie or a chocolate chip?  Well, the Hubs prefers chocolate chip and  I prefer oatmeal raisin.  So, this is a constant battle for me of What to make, since I make a batch of cookies for the house almost every week.  The Kid on the other hand, hates cookies so he doesn’t need a vote yet.  Perhaps he will be a tie breaker in the future.  But until then, I finally came up with the solution…. everyone gets what they want…

 

Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

CherryChocolateOatmealCookies

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter (or coconut oil), room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped coarsely

 

Position oven rack in center of oven.  Preheat oven to 325F.

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift flour, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl for 3 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla. Beat in flour mixture. Mix in oats, then chocolate chips, cherries and walnuts.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake cookies 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Superstitions….

When I was a kid, my grandmother insisted that everyone eat Pork, Collard Greens & Black Eyed Peas for New Year’s Day Dinner.  There were no excuses allowed.  Not even the fact that I don’t like the taste/texture of cooked collard greens.  Hate may be a strong word, but sadly, it applies here.  I juice collard greens all the time because I know it’s nutrient dense, but if it’s cooked, I will pass any day but New Year’s Day (begrudgingly of course). Although I should say, soup is my only reasonable exception to the no cooked collards rule  so I usually do New Year’s Day Soup if I’m making dinner, but since I had limited time this year I went with the family’s easy fall back: The Big Salad.  Since we prefer salads that are a mix of hot and cold ingredients, I figured I could still say I “cooked” New Year’s Day dinner.

So, I set up three pots on the stove and went to work.  Of course you can make the parts days ahead and assemble at will like a salad bar so don’t let the big list fool you into believing this salad is a lot of work:

New Year’s Day Good Luck Salad

 New Years Day Salad

Pot 1: Saute Pan: Pork (Smoked Sausage):

  • 1-pound smoked pork sausage
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (raw if you can find it)

Slice 1-pound smoked pork sausage in 3/4-inch to 1-inch slices and set aside. Set a saute pan over medium heat.  The saute pan is ready when you can drop a few drops of water into the pan and the water forms a ball that skates over the surface of the pan.  Add  the sliced sausage to the pan and move the sausage around the pan for about a minute.  (You’re just trying to get some of the oil out of the sausage.  You know it’s right when there’s a bit of a sheen on the sausage.) You can walk away from the sausage now, but every minute or so, check on the sausage and move it around the pan so all sides get browned.  You want it to start browning, but not turn black and get some fond (browned bits) sticking to the bottom of the pot.  When the bottom surface of the pot is covered with fond, Add 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar and use a spatula or wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Toss the sausage in the browned bits so they are coated and leave the sausage and vinegar to cook together until all the vinegar is evaporated and it’s a bit sticky and bubbling in the pan.  Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside.

 

Pot 2: 2-quart Sauce Pan: Black Eyed Peas:

  • 3 cups black eyed peas
  • 1 spanish onion, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic or roasted garlic puree
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp italian seasoning herbs
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 cup stock (turkey/chicken/vegetable)

I used about 3 cups of black eyed peas that I cooked from dried peas and froze a while ago.  Some supermarkets have fresh black eyed peas in the vegetable section, but canned black eyed peas would work equally well here.  Set sauce pan over medium heat.  When water droplets curl into balls and skate over the top of the pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and minced spanish onion.  Move the onions around the pan with a wood spoon or spatula.   Add  (If you are using canned peas then only use 2 tsp of salt) 1 tbsp kosher salt, 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, 1 tbsp, italian seasoning herbs, 1 tbsp curry powder & 1 Tbsp smoked paprika .  When onions are translucent, add 1 tbsp minced garlic or roasted garlic puree.  When garlic is fragrant (about a minute), add the beans.  Toss to coat with the onion-garlic mixture.  Then add 1 cup turkey/chicken/vegetable stock. Use a wood spoon or spatula to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.  Cook on medium heat until the liquid has evaporated.  Remove the beans from the pan and set aside.

 

Pot 3: 1-quart Sauce Pan: Brown Rice:

  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 4-1/2 cups water or stock

Used my usual Brown Rice recipe, but added 1 tbsp curry powder & 1 Tbsp smoked paprika to the oil.

 

 

Big Bowl on the counter: Kale & Collard Greens (Raw):

  • 1 large head kale, cleaned & dry
  • 1 large head collard greens, cleaned & dry
  • olive oil

When I say “large head of kale” I mean you should have about a gallon of kale and collard greens when you’re done.  If you have a salad spinner, it should be filled to the brim.  Cut the stems off the kale and collard greens then cut the leaves to your desired size.  Save the stems for juicing.  I like them about 1/8-inch wide and 1-1/2 to 2-inches long, but this part is up to you.  You’re going to “massage” the olive oil into the kale/collard mix.  Really squeeze and toss the kale/collards as though you are trying to get water into a sponge.  When you are done all of the kale should be coated in a THIN sheen of oil.  I would say about a tablespoon per quart of greens so adjust up or down depending on how much you are going to eat.

 

The Salad Bowl…

OK…. so here’s where it gets kind of creative…. The salad can be all or some of the following ingredients adjusted to your taste/preferences.  Most of them I picked in order to stand up to the taste of kale/collards.  If you prefer really flavorful salads (ex. Spicy Chicken, Teriyaki Salmon, etc.), try using massaged kale/collards sometimes since they can provide an interesting contrast that’s a nice change from just lettuce.

  • Smoked Sausage (Pork, Chicken Apple, Beef)
  • Black Eyed Peas
  • Massaged Kale/Collards
  • Hot Brown Rice
  • Minced Red Pepper
  • Minced Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • Minced Shallots
  • MInced Hot Chili Peppers (jalapenos, serranos, long hots)
  • Corn Kernels (Steamed or Roasted)
  • Cucumbers (diced 1/2-inch)
  • Fresh Tomatoes (diced 1/2-inch)
  • Avocado (diced 1/2-inch)
  • Lemon/Lime Juice (or Salad Dressing of Choice)

Give this salad version a try when you’re absolutely tired of eating the same salad every day.  Since the Kale is more resilient than lettuce you can pack a couple lunches days ahead.  Just do hot stuff in one container and cold stuff in another.  I promise if you can finish the salad you’ll be stuffed!

The Gift That Money Can’t Buy

What do you get the people with everything?  The one thing they can’t find.  For my parents, that is (oddly enough…) biscotti.  They used to get cherry-pistachio biscotti at a spot near my house.  It was amazing and for a while I was hooked on it too.  It wasn’t as crisp as most biscotti so you didn’t need to dip it in coffee/tea in order to take a bite.  As a complete coffee addict, I need every drop of coffee.  When you dip biscotti in coffee, crumbs pool in the bottom of the cup.  I will not be robbed of my last sip, so I refuse to dip my biscotti.  So, as luck would have it, the spot stopped making the “biteable” biscotti and reverted to the standard biscotti that required dipping.  I kept going back to the spot over and over hoping I would find the biscotti but they never went back to the old formula.  So…. I figured I’d do what I do best and try and figure out a way to make it myself. My mother tested the biscotti and has deemed them as good if not better than the original.  Although, as I said, she is my mother so you may need to take this approval with a grain of salt….lol.

 

Cherry Pistachio Biscotti

 Cherry-Pistachio Biscotti 

3 cups (15 oz) flour
2-1/4 tsp  baking powder
3/4 salt
3 eggs
1-1/3 cup (9 oz) organic cane sugar
3/4 c safflower oil
2 tsp orange zest (zest of 2 medium oranges)
1 tbsp vanilla
1-1/2 c pistachios, roasted & salted
3/4 c dried tart cherries

 

  • Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Sift flour, baking powder & salt.
  • Zest orange into the oil.  Add vanilla.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar on medium for three minutes until pale and thick.
  • Beat in orange zest, vanilla & oil mixture on low speed.
  • Using a wooden spoon, add the flour mixture.
  • Add the pistachios and cherries.
  • Using a spatula, transfer dough (which should be quite sticky) to the parchment paper lined baking sheet. Shape into one long log (will be about the length of the baking sheet & 6 inches wide).
  • Wet fingertips and gently smooth the top of the logs.
  • Bake the logs for 25 minutes.  They should be crisp and golden on the outside.  They will still be soft on the inside.
  • Line another baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Cut the logs into 1-inch wide pieces.  Use a serrated steak knife if possible.  Cut slowly and wipe the knife off between cuts to ensure clean cuts each time.
  • Using a long icing knife or long spatula, lift the pieces to the new baking sheet.  Lay the cut pieces on their side.  Space them evenly about 1/2-inch or more apart.
  • Bake in the oven for 22 minutes or until they are crisp and brown on the outside.
  • Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 20 minutes or until cool to the touch.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  As the cookies cool they will become crisper.
  • Store in an airtight container.