Category Archives: food

Recipes, diet, wheat-free, nutrition, cooking and a few guilty pleasures.

Lemon Coconut Tea Loaf

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20140303_131914Make this when there are other people in the house
s
o you won’t just eat the entire thing.

Preheat oven to 350.

BATTER:
2 eggs
1/2 c oil
1/2 milk
2 t lemon juice
1-1/2 c flour
1/2 t salt
1 t BP
1/2 c chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 c grated coconut

With a hand mixer gently beat the eggs, add oil and mix, add milk and mix, add lemon and mix.

I used an old-fashioned non-electric mixer for this. It keeps the batter from becoming too frothy.

Sift the dry ingredients together and stir into the liquids with a wooden paddle, then stir in the nuts and coconut.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

While loaf is baking, make glaze.

GLAZE:
1/2 to 3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 T lemon juice
milk if needed

Stir lemon juice into sugar and then add milk one T at a time until glaze is runny enough to pour.

Run a knife down the sides of the pan and punch holes in the loaf every 2-3 inches. Spoon glaze over top of loaf and let sit for 20 minutes or as long as you can stand it. Pop loaf out onto wax paper and close edges unless you plan to cut it right away.

*Note: wax paper is easier to unwrap than plastic wrap or foil. The acid from the lemon will also break down the foil and no one likes it when that happens.

You can store in a plastic bag or foil to keep it moist, but ours won’t last long enough to dry out.

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Asparagus Casserole

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My daughter and I gave up everything with MSG — I mean, it’s hard enough to stay awake after Thanksgiving dinner — so no more Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. This takes a little longer but is so much better.

2 cans asparagus spears
1 recipe white sauce (2 T butter, 2 T flour, 1 cup milk, salt)
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup grated cheese — your favorite
2 hard cooked eggs, chopped
1 cup crushed cracker crumbs
2 T melted butter

Drain the asparagus and spread evenly in a greased Pyrex dish. Make your white sauce and while still hot, stir in the mushrooms and cheese. When cheese has melted, pour sauce over asparagus. Top with chopped egg. Toss crumbs with melted butter and sprinkle over asparagus. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until casserole bubbles.

You cannot mess this up unless you accidentally use sugar instead of salt or you set the thing on fire.

You can substitute the asparagus liquid for part of the milk, you can omit the cheese, the eggs and/or the cracker crumbs. It really is just about the asparagus and the sauce.

I think the original recipe had pimento, but all the stores in Memphis are out of pimento and have been for a while. There must have been a pimento workers strike somewhere….

Fall Dinner

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So good I was afraid I’d forget what I did.  So I’m parking it here.

Preheat oven to 350.

Country-style pork ribs
Baked sweet potatoes
Yellow squash
Cranberry stuffing mix

Chicken broth
Buttermilk or sour cream

Olive oil
Worcestershire
Ms. Dash
Balsamic vinegar

Butter
Maple syrup
Cinnamon sugar
Vanilla

Brown ribs in olive oil in skillet and transfer to oiled baking dish. Sprinkle with Ms. Dash, Worcestershire and balsamic vinegar. Cover.

Peel sweet potatoes and mash.  Melt 3 T butter, 2 T maple syrup, 1 t vanilla and 1 t cinnamon sugar in small skillet.  Stir into potatoes.  Transfer to oiled baking dish and cover.

Prepare oiled baking dish. Empty stuffing mix into dish.  Chop squash and pile on top.  Pour 1 c chicken broth over top.

Put ribs in oven first.  After 15 minutes, put squash in oven and continue baking.  After another 10 minutes, take squash out and stir well.  Add sour cream or buttermilk.  Return to oven and put sweet potatoes in oven.  Let all three dishes continue to cook for another 15 minutes.

Serve with green beans if desired.

Crash-Free Oatmeal

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I’m going to start posting a series of recipes here just so I can keep up with them.  I like having a reference of things I can do in a hurry without having to rely on my brain to think something up.

 

It’s simple:

1/2 c. old-fashioned or quick oats

1 c. almond milk

 

Microwave for 3 minutes.  That’s it.  There’s enough sweetness to the almond milk that you don’t need to add sugar.  For a little zing, sprinkle with salt after cooking.  Just a pinch.  You’ll think you added margarine or butter.

MSG Free Onion Soup Mix

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ImageAt first we thought it was just great food making us feel sooooo good after eating at certain restaurants.  Then after meals there, we were seized with profound and uncontrollable napping.

Eventually, my daughter figured it out:  we were having a reaction to MSG.

So now when I want to make stuff that calls for onion soup mix, I have to improvise.  Today it occurred to me to search for a recipe.  Most of them call for both onion flakes and onion powder, which seems redundant, but maybe there’s a reason for it.  Maybe it’s what Ms. Lipton does to hers.

We now have an international farmers market in the neighborhood — yay for us! We can now go in and shop for exotic things like beef stock powder without paying the triple markup that our local chain grocery wants to exact.  I’m off to buy some now.

Thanks to towards-sustainability.com for this one.  I will probably change it up some and throw in my favorite herb blend instead of the salt, sugar and pepper.  But y’all can start here.

MSG Free Onion Soup Mix
8 tsp dried onion flakes
4 tsp beef stock powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp celery salt
pinch sugar
pinch white pepper

Mix ingredients together thoroughly and store in an airtight container or foil package.  Keeps for up to 6 months.  Equals 1 packet of soup mix.

Shoepeg Salad

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shoepeg

It’s amazing what a fresh vinaigrette can do for canned vegies.

Sometimes we forget to add the pimento.  Sometimes we use red onion instead of green.  Sometimes we throw in chickpeas or diced carrots or water chestnuts.  Use your imagination.  It’s all good.

Vegies
* 1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
* 1 (15 ounce) can baby green peas
* 1 cup green onion, chopped
* 1 (4 ounce) jar diced pimentos, drained
* 1 (11 ounce) can white shoepeg corn

Dressing
* 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
* 1 to 2 T sugar or Splenda (start small and add as needed)
* 1/4 cup canola oil
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon dried dill

Blend ingredients for dressing and toss with vegies. Simple, yummy and healthy.

This is not my recipe.  If anyone finds out who invented it, give them a prize and then tell me who they are.

 

Happy Kale Soup

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ImageI had a dream last night: I was talking to someone about how much I love kale. This morning is sort of gray and green, cloudy and rainy behind the lush foliage on the trees that look like June more than early April.

So I’m thinking it’s a day for my happy kale soup, which incidentally has sausage, beans and onion, but for me it’s all about the kale.  The other stuff is in there just to keep it happy.

For anyone that wants to play along, here’s what you’ll need:

Soup kettle or Dutch oven big enough to hold a mountain of kale
A big cooking spoon or paddle (mine is wood)
Extra virgin olive oil — 2 T, more or less
One large onion, coarsely chopped. (Vidalias are a favorite, but a nice red is pretty.)
One package of smoked sausage (turkey, beef or pork, depending on the moment), sliced or diced
One can of white beans (Great Northerns are my fave)
Chopped kale (fresh or bagged; can use can in a pinch, but it’s not the same)
One box or two cans of broth: chicken, beef or vegie — (no MSG, please).
Season-All or Mrs. Dash to your liking

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Heat about 2 T olive oil in your kettle. Add the onion and saute until soft. Throw in your sausage and continue to saute for 2-5 minutes, depending on how long you’re willing to stand there.  Add kale, in batches if necessary, and toss until it wilts.  Add beans and broth and bring to a simmer.  At this point, it’s ready to eat, but I like to simmer for at least an hour so all the flavors blend together and the beans and onion are really, really soft.

I can’t look at that first picture and not want to make cornbread to go with.  That particular bread is my jalapeno cheddar version, and you can find that recipe here.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

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bread My advice: read this post all the way through before starting.

Cornbread making is a true kitchen art, and even the best cooks have to practice it.  So don’t freak out if your first attempts are disappointing.  The secrets include a hot oven, a hot skillet, and a moist batter.

These ingredients are liable to vary widely: the dryness of the meal, the moisture content of the sour cream, the size of the eggs. So you have to be willing to guess a lot. Eventually you’ll do this without using measuring cups or spoons. You’ll just throw everything into a bowl and mix it up.

I’ve never used anything to make cornbread but a large, well-seasoned cast-iron skillet.  You can certainly adapt this recipe to your favorite technique.

And it’s easiest if you mix all the runny things first and then add the dry things. But you want to start with eggs, then oil, and then milk. If you add pickled jalapenos and/or sour cream to your eggs it might curdle them.

Ingredients

2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil: see my note at the bottom***.
Milk, half&half or cream — whatever is on hand.
1/2 c sour cream
Self-rising corn meal mix (yellow is best, but white is OK. If you can get the buttermilk kind, that’s even better.)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (sharp, medium or mild — your call)
Diced jalapeno pepper (I like the small cans already diced.  If you’re brave, you can dice your own fresh ones.)

Construction

Put 2 T oil in your skillet and put into the oven to heat at 400 degrees.  You want a hot oven and a hot oiled skillet to start with.

Crack the eggs into your mixing bowl and stir lightly with a fork.

Blend in 2 T canola oil and about 1/2 cup of milk. This isn’t precise and I’ll explain why in a minute.

Add in sour cream and a heaping cup of corn meal mix. Don’t be afraid.

Add cheese and jalapenos.  Start with 2 T of the peppers, unless they’re fresh or unless you’re new at this.

Finessecornbread-batter-l

Now here’s where the artistry comes in.  There’s almost no way to mess up this cornbread, especially if you have no preconceived idea of what it’s supposed to be when it’s done. But you do want it to be moist.

What you want is a batter that’s about like sour cream.  You want it to flow into your skillet with the help of a spoon, but you don’t want it to be too thick.  Nor do you want it as runny as pancake batter.  So here you’ll add a couple of tablespoons of milk to thin it down, or a couple of tablespoons of meal mix to thicken it up.

You can’t go wrong.  The worst thing that can happen is you’ll end up with too much batter, and that just means more cornbread.

When the oven has reached 400 degrees, remove the hot skillet.  Be very, very careful at this point.  Remove children, pets, and clumsy relatives from the area.

Gently spoon the batter into the skillet and bake for 10 minutes.  Then check the bread by jiggling the skillet handle.  If the top of the bread shivers, give it another 2 to 5 minutes.  The bread is ready when it pulls away from the sides of the skillet.

Finishing

If you’re happy with the way your bread looks when it comes out of the oven, or if the idea of flipping makes you nervous, you can just serve it straight from the skillet.  If you’ve used an aluminum pan for your baking or you’ve made muffins, you can just skip this part.

To finish the bread, you want to flip it out onto a ceramic plate, upflippedside down.  Then slide the bread back into the hot skillet, bottom side up, and leave it for a few minutes.  This gives the top a nice color.

Flip the bread back onto the plate right side up to serve.

Don’t forget to turn off the oven.

Serving

I always put butter and honey on the table.  But sometimes we just think they’re superfluous.

And if you’re easily distracted and tend to burn things, it’s a good idea to have a loaf of French bread on standby.

***A word on oils

Canola oil seems to be the food snobs’ latest whipping boy.  It comes from rapeseed, which gets people all aflutter.  Rape is the Latin word for “turnip” and is a plant from the mustard clan, which is high in erucic acid.  So somebody reengineered both the oil and the name to let folks know, hey, this is CANadianOilLow(erucic)Acid, abbreviated CANOLA.  My advice is to read both sides of the argument and shop carefully. A good organic canola oil is great in recipes where olive oil is just wrong.  Or you can pay more for something else if it makes you feel better.

 

walking the dog

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So I have a regular gig about four times a year, spending time with Gustavo. He is an Italian greyhound who thinks he is actually reincarnated 17th or 18th century royalty. I haven’t quite pinned down the family yet, and I believe his demise was quite violent.  Hence he has alarming separation anxiety in this life.

However, he must have laughed a lot with his friends and family.  Stav has a great sense of humor and is the life of the party.  He’s a little subdued right now, because he’s trying to remember where he’s seen me before.  But it’ll come to him eventually.

So far it has been a bittersweet reunion.  We are both grayer and calmer than the last time I was here.  We both take more supplements with our meals.  He is positively portly and waddles when he walks.  I have acquired a muffin top from excessive use of chocolate to get me through the recent breaking news and subsequent long hours with CNN.

But somehow the heavens and the Mother called a truce with the calendar and gave me a glorious first day with Stav.  The sun was brilliant on our walk and the breeze just right, free of impertinent insects and subwoofers.  The sidewalk felt like carpet and my feet seemed to skate along the few blocks of our route.

I wanted more. I wanted to abandon work and throw my phone into the bushes and walk with Stav until we could walk no longer. But his folks left crab cakes in the fridge and experience has taught me I will eventually want my phone back.  So we’re back in the living room, sitting in the quiet that’s as rich and thick as cream cheese frosting.

It is enough. I am content.

scandalous aging

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Tuesday and Wednesday I crash-watched two seasons of “Scandal” and I am lit up like a horny teenager. I was awake until 6 am — unheard of in the last three years.

There are all sorts of lights coming on and bells sounding and I’m not entirely happy about it. Life is so much easier when you have no sex drive.

Yesterday was full of hell and I went out on my own last night, drove to Collierville to the Mellow Mushroom and had pizza all by myself. Got exactly what I wanted and ate as much as I wanted and stayed until I was ready to go home.

Wondered where sober seniors go to hit on people. Figured at that time of night they were all in their recliners in front of the TV.

God, getting old really SUCKS.