Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mushroom Stroganoff

Mushroom Stroganoff, is a great, speedy weeknight dinner, especially if you cook the noodles the night before (whole wheat egg noodles or bowties work well)

1 lb portabello mushrooms (either the large or baby bellas), cut in half and sliced
1/2 onion, diced
1 - 1 1/2 c sour cream (fat free plain Greek yogurt)
1/2 - 1 Tbsp Hungarian Paprika
salt & pepper to taste
olive oil or butter (or a little of each)
1/8 cup (or so) vegetable broth
Saute diced onions in olive oil or butter (your preference) until just soft and translucent. Add sliced mushrooms, saute until cooked through. This next step could also use a Tbs or so of white vinegar. Add broth/wine paprika and incorporate well. Turn down heat and add sour cream. Heat through, add salt & pepper to taste. Add more sour cream if the 1 cup doesn't cover everything well. Serve on top of egg noodles or rice. If you don't have enough sour cream, you can add cream cheese and it will still be very good! Mushrooms are a great source of protein as well as many other nutrients.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chocolate Pillows - best vegan cookie ever

Found these over at the ppk...

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows
makes 2 dozen cookies

Chocolate dough:

1/2 cup canola oil

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

3 tablespoons non-dairy milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened dutch processed cocoa powder

2 tablespoons black unsweetened cocoa or more dutch processed unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt


3/4 cup natural salted peanut butter, crunchy or creamy style

2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons soy creamer or non-dairy milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl combine oil, sugar, maple syrup, non-dairy milk and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Sift in flour, cocoa powder, black cocoa if using, baking soda and salt. Mix to form a moist dough.

Make the filling. In another mixing bowl beat together peanut butter, confectioner’s sugar, 2 tablespoons of soy creamer and vanilla extract to form a moist but firm dough. If peanut butter dough is too dry (as different natural peanut butters have different moisture content), stir in remaining tablespoon of non-dairy milk. If dough is too wet knead in a little extra powdered sugar.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Shape the cookies. Create the centers of the cookies by rolling the peanut butter dough into 24 balls. Scoop a generous tablespoon of chocolate dough, flatten into a disc and place a peanut butter ball in the center. Fold the sides of the chocolate dough up and around the peanut butter center and roll the chocolate ball into an smooth ball between your palms. Place on a sheet of waxed paper and repeat with remaining doughs. If desired gently flatten cookies a little, but this is not necessary.

Place dough balls on lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart and bake for 10 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and let cookies for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack to complete cooling. Store cookies in tightly covered container. If desired warm cookies in a microwave for 10 to 12 seconds before serving.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Buttermilk Pie!

Southern Buttermilk Pie

Crust Ingredients:

* 2 1/2 cups Flour (All Purpose Unbleached)
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon sugar
* 3 Tablespoons cold milk
* 2/3 cup oil (vegetable or canola–make sure it is fresh!)

Buttermilk Pie Ingredients:

* 1 1/4 cups sugar
* 3 tablespoons flour
* 4 eggs, whisked
* 1 cup buttermilk
* 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
* 1 stick butter, melted and cooled (1/2 cup of butter)
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
* 1 tablespoon lemon zest
* pinch of grated Nutmeg

Pat-in-the-Pan Crust Directions:

1. Whisk together dry ingredients in a bowl until blended
2. Add wet ingredients and stir gently until the dough forms a ball.( For a tender crust, do not over mix).
3. Put dough into pie pan and pat it thin and flat to conform to the shape of the pan.
4. Crimp the edges.
5. You are now ready for the filling.

A note about the oil: Make sure the oil is fresh because if it has begun to turn rancid, your crust will taste bitter and that’s no fun! (I learned the hard way!)

There are all kinds of recipes for Buttermilk Pie. Some are as gooey and sweet as a candy bar….this custard-y pie is just “sweet enough” and has a refreshing hint of fresh lemon for those sultry summer days that are hotter than a fritter-in-a-fryin’ pan. I guess y'all know now what I'm bringing to the next potluck :)

Buttermilk Pie Directions:

1. In your mixer, combine the flour and sugar.
2. Stir in the eggs, and buttermilk .
3. Add the cooled melted butter, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
4. Add a pinch or two of grated Nutmeg.
5. Pour into the unbaked pie shell.
6. Put the pie in the center of the oven and bake at 425 in a pre-heated oven for 15 minutes, then lower the temp to 350, and bake for 40 more minutes.
7. Cool then keep chilled.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Favorite Falafel

My Favorite Falafel

1 cup dried chickpeas
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. salt
1/2 to 1 tsp. dried hot red pepper
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. baking powder
4 to 6 Tbsp. flour
Soybean or vegetable oil for frying
Sliced tomato for garnish
Diced onion for garnish
Pita Bread or Garlic toasted sub buns

Tzatziki Sauce

2 (8 ounce) containers plain yogurt
2 cucumbers - peeled, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
3 cloves garlic, peeled

In a food processor or blender, combine yogurt, cucumber, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, dill and garlic. Process until well-combined. Transfer to a separate dish, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour for best flavor.

Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain. Or use canned chickpeas, drained.

Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onion in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic and cumin. Process until blended but not puréed.

Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 Tbsp. of flour, and pulse. You want to add enough flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.

Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts, or use a falafel scoop, available in Middle Eastern markets.

Heat 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees in a deep pot or wok and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Stuff half a pita with falafel balls, chopped tomatoes, and onion. Makes 5 servings.

Monday, July 20, 2009

8 Surprising Uses for Olive Oil

The Daily Green
Eight surprising uses for olive oil
By Brian Clark Howard

Olive oil is more than a cartoon character, a historic symbol of peace and glory, or a food staple of the much-vaunted Mediterranean diet.

It is actually tremendously useful stuff, finding applications in personal care, home improvement, green cleaning, natural remedies, and other areas.

The health benefits of olive oil have been frequently reported. Olive oil promotes "good" cholesterol (HDL), is known to be gentle on the digestive system, and even may help prevent gallstones and soothe ulcers. Good quality olive oil contains valuable vitamins and nutrients, and it is loaded with antioxidants, which many believe help protect the body from cancer.

These days there are an increasing array of organic and boutique olive oils offered for sale, some of them quite pricey. In general, the less processed an oil the more nutrients it contains, although the more expensive it tends to be. Buying organic is one way to protect the fragile environment of the Mediterranean and elsewhere.

It's true that you won't be consuming the olive oil in a number of the uses below, and part of the point of this post is to help you save money by suggesting alternative uses to things you already have, so you don't have to make a trip to the store and buy some additional products to get the job done.

Therefore, we understand if you prefer to use the cheapest, lowest-grade oils for some of these tips. You probably aren't going to crack open that vintage bottle of herb-infused oil your aunt brought you back from Tuscany in the event that you have a squeaky door. But since people seemed to find everyday alternative uses for vodka, vinegar and ketchup useful, we thought we'd look into olive oil:

Ease snoring

Taking a sip of olive oil before heading to bed can help lubricate your throat muscles, cutting down on snoring, according to the handy website AltUse. We won't tell if you drizzle some extra olive oil on Grandma's salad the next time she comes to visit!

Others have noted that downing a teaspoon of olive oil can help soothe a scratchy or ticklish throat.

Cure an earache

A number of folks swear by olive oil as a natural remedy for earaches. One suggestion is to "very carefully use a cotton swab to apply olive oil to the outside ear cavity to help with earaches and excess wax." One online tip suggests: Heat up some olive oil in a microwave for 30 seconds then apply it to the ear that hurts for relief.

Tame tangled and damaged hair

Olive oil also has benefits for hair. Comb a bit of the stuff through dry or frizzy hair to help tame and moisturize your locks, especially in winter or on humid days.

Olive oil can also provide some relief for damaged hair. In the book Clean Body, Michael de Jong suggests treating your tresses by kneading a few tablespoons of olive oil into your scalp and hair. "Swathe your oiled-up curls with a shower cap and take a 30-minute breather ... snooze, toss back a latté, whatever. Then just shampoo as usual to reveal a refurbished mane that even Fabio would envy," he writes.

Get healthy skin (and fight cancer!)

People have used olive oil for centuries for personal care. It is a great skin moisturizer, in part because it contains linoleic acid, a compound not made by the body, but which prevents water from evaporating.

According to Leslie Baumann, M.D., author of The Skin Type Solution, consuming olives and olive oil can promote healthy skin, as can applying it directly as a moisturizer. You can also add a bit of olive oil to a warm bath for a good healthy soak.

Some of the most exciting news, according to Baumann, is that olive oil also contains at least four different antioxidants, which can help "neutralize damaging free radicals that can lead to skin aging and skin cancer." Baumann writes that, in studies, mice that drank extra-virgin olive oil developed less skin cancer after exposure to UV light.

Olive oil can also provide a safe and natural lubricant for a close shave. As a soothing aftershave, rub in an extra teaspoon of the stuff after rinsing off. In fact, some products from The Art of Shaving are based on olive oil.

Similarly, olive oil can soothe chapped lips. Make your own balm by mixing olive oil and melted beeswax in a 1:1 ratio (add an essential oil if you want a nice fragrance).

According to AltUse, you can moisturize your cuticles by soaking in olive oil mixed with water, or apply olive oil directly to cuticles before applying polish or buffing nails.

Care for your cat

Just as humans can benefit from grooming with olive oil, so can cats Fluffy and Mittens. According to, add a teaspoon of olive oil to your cat’s food to help prevent hairballs, as well as promote a shiny, healthy coat. Olive oil is likely to be more gentle on a cat's system than petroleum-based anti-hairball lubricants. Plus, it has the benefit of coming from a renewable resource, as opposed to oil from the ground.

Free stuck zippers

There are few things more annoying than stuck zippers (remember that episode of Seinfeld when George visits his therapist?).

So if you are vexed by this particular problem, break out the olive oil. Swab some of the stuff on the teeth of the zipper, then try gently easing it unstuck. Good luck!

Polish furniture and metal (and condition leather)

Silverware, copper, and other metal items can be polished with ketchup or toothpaste. After you're done rub a bit of olive oil on to prevent streaks, corrosion, and tarnish.

To polish your wood desk according to Michael de Jong, use two parts olive oil mixed with one part lemon juice. Pour just a few drops on a soft cloth, wipe away the dust, scuffs, and fingerprints, and your desk will shine. This technique works well for a range of wooden furniture and objects.

You can also condition and revitalize leather goods, such as baseball mitts, by rubbing in olive oil. Let set for 30 minutes, then wipe away any excess.

Fix squeaky doors

Olive oil can be used as a lubricant in many applications. It's safe to keep around the house, so you don’t have to worry about children or pets getting into it. Try it out on squeaky doors, hinges, and anywhere else you might consider using WD-40 or another lubricant.

While WD-40 may work well, it's also based on hydrocarbons, so any time we can use less of those we're taking a step toward a cleaner world.

Other uses?

Some folks also swear by the alternative health treatment ozonated olive oil, which is made by bubbling ozone into the oil until it forms a paste. The result is said to be good for soothing skin and promoting healing. We haven't had a chance yet to try it for ourselves, but if anyone has any experience with it let us know!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bird's Nest Pudding

Bird's nest pudding

* 1 cup milk
* 4oz flour
* 3 eggs
* 4 apples, peeled and cored
* 1/2 tsp nutmeg
* 4oz brown sugar

Stuff the apples with the brown sugar and put them in an oven dish. Beat the milk, eggs, nutmeg and flour together and pour this over the apples. Bake in the oven at 175 degrees for half an hour.

Grilled Jam Cake?

For all you campers and tailgaters out there :)

Jam Cake

1/2 c milk
1 stick butter
1 c sugar
1 c jam
2 eggs
2 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t nutmeg or cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar. Beat eggs till lemon colored. Combine. Add flour mixed with baking powder and milk alternately. Beat after each addition. Use any kind of jam you like, adding it to the batter and swirling in a marbled pattern. Bake in 6" greased and floured tube pan at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes. You may also use a small loaf pan. If baking over coals, this cake cooks in about 15 minutes.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mexican Appetillas

My sister makes these for every family get together, and with her permission I am adapting the base recipe to Mexicanize and veggietize it. :)

Mexican Appetillas

1 pkg super size tortillas
1/3 c mayo
Taco seasoning to taste (cumin, lime juice, jalepeno, cayenne, etc)
1/4 c chopped black olives
2 8oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c chopped green onion
1/2 c chopped green chilies

Bring tortillas to room temperature. (If they are too cold they won't roll up nicely). Mix together all ingredients except tortillas. Lay tortilla flat and spread thin layer of mixture over the top. Tightly roll tortilla and wrap in plastic. Fridge 3 hrs or overnight. Cut into 3/4" slices before serving.

Of course part of me is dying to use Tofutti cream cheese and Nayonnaise and not tell anybody, but for the first batch I'm goin' with the good stuff ;) Of course the base recipe is just minus the seasoning and the chilies, and add a thin layer of deli shaved turkey. This being a method recipe, the options are endless. Peppers, tomatoes, spinach, herbs, different cheese, etc. Can't wait to see your suggestions.

What about doing a dessert version with pumpkin cream cheese with tiny apple bits mixed in?

Who knew?

Hummus has been a staple in our house for as long as I can remember. It's probably our favorite condiment. We use it for dip for veggies and bagel chips and crackers. We use it as a substitute for pizza sauce on my *Mediterranean pizza. We use it on sandwiches and wraps... When DD1 was 6 months old, she was eating it by the spoonful. It's just always been here. But yet, I've never made it.

So this weekend I had a cpl cans of garbanzos in the pantry and viola... it IS easy! And better than store-bought, for sure. I didn't measure anything, but I can tell you what I put in it.

2 cans garbanzos pureed til smooth. Whiz in olive oil and lemon juice, fresh garlic and chives and onion powder. Add a little salt and Garlic Herb Mrs Dash and that was it. I didn't have any tahini to add, don't usually keep that in the fridge. This was just simple and delicious as is. Simple and flavorful and done in a flash. Of course now I feel like a complete nut for not trying this 10 yrs ago, but.... c'est la vie.


* Mediterranean Pizza

Pizza crust warmed in the oven. Top with garlic hummus, fresh spinach, seasoned and thinly sliced heirloom tomatoes or olives, provolone or mozzerella cheese scattered across the top. Sprinkle with basil and oregano. So amazing!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Way Cool...

Way-Cool Fruit Pops

Frozen fruit on a stick makes an easy and healthful snack. Each 34-calorie pop provides almost a full serving of fruit!

In a blender, combine 1 cup guava nectar, pear nectar or orange juice with 1 cup pineapple juice and 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks. Cover and blend until smooth. Divide 1 cup coarsely chopped or sliced fresh fruit (such as strawberries, kiwifruit, papaya or melon) among 12 freezer-pop molds or 4- to 6-ounce paper cups. Pour blended mixture over fruit.

Add wood sticks, and cover the molds. Or cover each cup with foil; make a small hole in the foil with a knife, and insert sticks into cups through holes where the foil will hold the sticks upright. Freeze 4 hours or until the fruit pops are firm.
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