Sunday, December 26, 2010

Hummus Among Us

My recent recipe for millet salad only used 1/2 a can of chickpeas, which meant I had some chickpeas leftover.  Hummus is the fastest way to use up chickpeas.  Here's my recipe, but the fun thing about hummus is you can add so many different  flavors: roasted peppers, onions, herbs--feel free to play!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Olive-Millet Grain Salad

Howdy! Time off means I'm let loose in the kitchen more often.  And I get munchy, and lazy, so about: home it's time to use up leftovers.  Today I had leftover millet in the fridge, so while I was at the store I got some olive mix, and made this millet salad.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reuben, Curried Butternut Squash Soup, Fruit

This is kind of a "fix it on the fly" kind of meal. But since it's what we had for supper one night last week, and took a nice picture, I thought I'd share. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Chocolate Pudding!

 (It is much more chocolate-y looking in "real life.")
This is based on Vanilla Pudding in The New Laurel's Kitchen, a great vegetarian cookbook I've had for years.  Since chocolate makes everything better, I made it a chocolate pudding, and worked around some things I was missing in the pantry.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lemon-Herb Chicken, Steamed Cabbage, and Mashed Potato Soup

I'm taking some time away from the blog while I get things retooled. Until then, here's a great recipe!
Lemon-Herb Chicken
A rare baked dish--I usually feel safer sauteing anything I eat so I can keep an eye on it.  No picture, because I forgot until after we ate.  Jim was bummed about "boring" chicken until it was served. . .and there were no leftovers!

Penne in Tomato Sauce

I've never been able to buy bottled or canned spaghetti sauce--it's over- or under- spiced, too sweet, or so expensive for something that doesn't have to take very long to make with fresh ingredients.  If I'm in a real hurry, all I have to have are some form of cooked tomato, fresh garlic, and basil to make a lovely sauce.  Here's more or less the basic sauce at our house, that we improvise freely:

Tomato Sauce: 
makes 2-4 servings, depending on how much sauce you like on your pasta, and how much pasta makes a serving.  this would be enough for about 4 servings at our house, with a little left to mix into veggies another day.
  • 1 can pureed or diced organic tomatoes
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeld and diced small or run through a garlic press
  • 1 t each dried basil and oregano, or several teaspoons total of any combination of fresh basil, oregano, chives, marjoram, or thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 cup wine, preferably red (merlot is usually good, but in a pinch I've even used rice cooking wine and adjusted the salt)
  • 4 oz. chopped mushrooms, or a small can of mushrooms, drained
  • up to 1 t salt (taste the sauce first to see if it needs any salt at all)
  • 1 t sugar, if you taste the sauce and it seems harsh at all
  • 3 T good Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated (or just use the grated Parmesan if it's what's in the fridge--the flavor is different, but still works)
  • 1 lb meat (usually ground beef or chopped chicken breast in our house.  If you use the ground beef, you can cook it separately to minimize the fat ) - optional
  • Extra Virgin olive oil for sauteing and to drizzle over sauce
  • Penne pasta, cooked just al dente (reserve the cooking water separated from the pasta in case the sauce is runny), enough for each serving (since a serving can be anything from 1/2 cup cooked pasta in a weight-watching household to a full cup or more per person in a munchie household, it's hard to say how much pasta to have here).
 Pour 1 T olive oil into a saucepan and add the onion and red pepper.  Saute on medium for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic.  Cook an additional 1 minute, then the ground beef or chicken if using, and cook another minute or two.  Add the tomato, red wine and dried spices, if using and simmer about 10 minutes.  Add any vegetables you want (see below) including the mushrooms, the sugar (if needed) and salt, and simmer another 20 minutes, uncovered.  Add the fresh spices if you are using them.  If the sauce seems too thin, add a ladle-full of the starchy pasta cooking water and simmer another 10 minutes.  Mix in the cooked pasta, and cook another 5 minutes. Sprinkle with grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil, and serve.

Optional add-ins: plan on thickening the sauce with the pasta water, or a little extra grated cheese if you use any raw veggies in the recipe. If the sauce just won't thicken (it's happened to me), mix 1 T of rice flour or cornstarch to 1/4 cup water, and add to the sauce to thicken.

  • 1-2 handfuls fresh chopped spinach
  • 1 cup cooked greens of any kind, squeezed dry and chopped
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli or cauliflower
  • 1/2-1 cooked zucchini or yellow squash, cut small if necessary
  • 1-2 raw tomatoes, cut small
  • a handful of pitted olives, chopped
Other additions:
  • Grated mozzerella, crumbled feta or other cheese
  •  chopped beef or turkey bacon--cook bacon first, then drain almost all fat and begin recipe as usual

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Carrot Soup

This was a surprise hit in my continuing effort to make vegetables interesting to the Man of the House (it's not that he doesn't eat them, he just usually doesn't like them as he eats them).  We had some carrots dying of old age in the fridge because Jim doesn't like to cook them, so I decided to make soup.

Sweet Carrot Soup
makes about 3 cups
6-8 small/medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 2-in pieces, or about a half pound of "baby carrots"
1 cup Trader Joe's Organic Tomato Smoked Red Pepper Soup (if you don't have that, you can use 1/2 cup purreed tomatoes, 1/2 cup purreed pumpkin, or 1/2 cup of cream and 1/4 cup water or chicken broth--it won't taste the same, but it will be yummy!)
1/2 cup sweet white wine (I used Dr. Beckermann "Liebfraumilch"-which means "Mother's Milk" from good ole Trader Joes.  If your wine isn't really sweet, add more maple syrup).
1/2-2/3 cup milk, half and half, or heavy cream
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
1/2-1 T powdered ginger
1 T ground cinnamon
1/2 or less teaspoon salt
2T Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream (optional)

Steam the carrots in a little water 15-20 minutes or until soft.  Put the carrots, any remaining steaming liquid, and all ingredients except yogurt or sour cream into a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until heated through.   Stir in yogurt or sour cream, or add to each serving as pictured.  The soup is really rich, so I serve it in small ramekins of no more than 1/2 cup at a time.

Lamb again, and leftover pilaf

Yep, that's right, making the Husband eat lamb again.  And sneaking kale into rice (kale is another of Jim's not-favorites).  So far he hasn't run away, so I guess it's ok.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Greek-style Lamb, Rice Pilaf, Green Beans

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), lamb, onion, and garlic are good for building yang; rice and green beans are good for Spleen qi, or digestive energy, and herbs are good for moving qi.  This meal is great for autumn, especially when you have fresh herbs handy! 


Omelets have saved our mealtimes more often than you'd think, considering how little Jim likes eggs.  As long as I can cover their taste with omelet ingredients, though, he'll eat them and even enjoy them (a little bit).  Here's yesterday work:

  • 6-8 eggs (I'm lucky enough to have occasional access to a friend's chickens, so my eggs come in all different sizes--say 6 large and 8 small, or just use 7)
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, half and half, or cream
  • 2/3 cup cooked kale, chopped finely (or spinach)
  • at least 3 cloves of garlic--some days I hate peeling them. . .if I'm energetic I'd probably use 6
  • 1/3 of a large onion, cut as finely as you can without stress
  • 1 cup feta cheese (other cheese can be substituted; adjust the quantity on the flavor of the cheese)
  • 1-3 T whatever chopped fresh herbs you have (or a few tablespoons pesto)
Allow a skillet to heat for a minute or so.  Heat the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil mixed with a tablespoon of butter over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until translucent, then add the kale and the garlic.  Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the milk, then stir in the feta cheese.  Add to the pan of kale, onion, and garlic and immediately sprinkle the herbs evenly over the egg mixture.  If you're good at it, fold the omelet over once the bottom has set; otherwise, just slowly push the omelet's edges toward the center so it doesn't stick or get too brown (unless, of course, you like it brown. . .).  Grind some pepper over everything, and salt to taste.  I like my eggs a little runny, so I usually take my half out as soon as there's no obvious liquid but a kind of creamy look to them.  Jim wants them very solid, so I let his cook until they look rubbery to me.  If I'm sticking to my attempt to avoid starches, I'll serve this with hot tea and a side veggie; if not, I'll make toast or pester Jim into making biscuits to go with it.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Guest Post - Abondigas and a Scary Rich Link

    Howdy, everyone.  Jim and I haven't made anything really interesting lately (Trader Joe's made a few interesting things for us), but I've read about some interesting things I want to make.  First, a link to a scarily rich pie called Banofee Danger Pie , which is evidently very popular in Brit and Brit-derived countries other than the US.

    The recipe says to boil unopened cans of condensed milk, which is weird and frightening, but the promise is instant toffee sauce.  So if you try it and don't end up in the hospital, let me know--I love hearing about other people's experiences before risking my own life!

    Now for the recipe.  Brought to us by Kathy Shafer, who is one of the most creative women I know.  She gardens, she cooks, she crafts, she's musically gifted. . .and recently told everyone on Facebook she was making Abondigas, which I had never heard of.  It's a meatball soup.  Judging by the comments of those who have eaten it, it is at least as well-liked as Banofee Danger Pie, without boiling cans of milk.  She recommends varying the amounts based on the likes of your family, so play with the ratios of veggies to meat to seasoning as you like.  Here is the recipe she gave me, which I hope to try very soon:

    1 Soup pot

    1 onion (diced, or sliced)
    3 fresh garlic cloves
    1 bag of carrots
    4 branches of fresh cilantro (or whatever one desires)
    Bullion squares (Kosher in the International section of store)
    Follow instructions on packaging.
    Wash and prepare your veggies and place into pot with prepared bullion squares.

    1 lb ground (beef, chicken or turkey)
    1 egg for each lb of meat
    1 cup of uncooked rice for each lb of meat. (I use white long grain)
    Season with salt (I use kosher sea salt)
    Black pepper
    Now take all these ingredients and knead them together in a large mixing bowl. Mix well. Then make your meatballs.
    Carefully place the meatballs on top of veggies and prepared bullion broth. Add water and seasoning if needing more. Cover.
    Bring to a roaring bowl and skim the top of water to remove fat and egg deposits. Reduce hit to medium high heat. After carrots are soft, serve hot. We us lemon wedges to cut the excess fat in the soup. Optional: fresh corn tortillas warmed up and rolled in hand as a substitute for bread or biscuits.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    One Layer Tropical Upside Down Cake

    It's a rainy, cold day here at Chez Green.  Something cozy seemed in order, something to serve with hot tea.  I started out with a simple yellow cake from Mark Bittman's wonderful book How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food, but Jim started yelling ideas in from the den, and then I added to those.  The cake is still based on "Golden Layer Cake" from Bittman's book, and was limited by what I had in the pantry (if I had planned the cake, I would have added coconut, used pecans instead of walnuts, and mixed the pineapple into the batter and frosted it with a cream cheese frosting).  I only made one layer because there's only 2 of us in the house, and my layer cakes always look tired and a little drunk.  It's not out of the oven yet, so I'll give you taste details and a picture then.  If it looks awful, it will probably become a trifle!

    •  5 T softened butter
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
    • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling on the pineapple (I always find cake recipes come out too sweet.  If you don't find that, add up to another 1/3 cup sugar)
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 t baking powder
    • 1/4 t baking soda
    • 1/8 t salt
    • 1/4 c milk (I use half and half because that's all we had in the house)
    • 1/4 cup passion fruit juice
    • 1/2-1 c walnuts
    • most of a 20-oz can of pineapple tidbits (if I'd had rings, I would have used them)
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Butter a 9-in cake pan, then put a piece of waxed paper on it and butter that as well.  Too late, I realized Bittman's recipe also said to flour said pan, so you might want to do that also.  Drain the pineapple, and arrange the pineapple on the bottom of the cake pan.  Sprinkle a tiny amount of sugar on the pineapple in hopes of making it caramelize real pretty.

    Beat the butter, then add the sugar and mix until creamy.  Add the eggs.  In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.  Don't do what I did in my enthusiasm and add the walnuts now.  Save them until the end.  Add to the egg mixture alternating first with the passion fruit juice, then with the milk, until blended.  Don't mix the juice and the milk together, or the juice will curdle the milk.  Add them to the batter separately.  Add the walnuts and stir everything just until mixed.

    Gently pour the cake batter into the cake pan.  If by some weird chance you have batter leftover, pour into a small loaf pan or cupcake pan, or give it to an enthusiastic spoon licker.  Tap the cake on the counter a little to settle it, and bake it for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

    I'll pop pictures in, no matter how terrifying, when it's out of the oven.  The batter tasted great.

    Sunday, October 17, 2010


    Pesto can be the base of all kinds of tasty meals.  A few spoonfuls thinned with pasta cooking water makes a simple spaghetti.  Rub some on chicken breasts and bake for a great chicken dish.  Add a few spoonfuls to spaghetti sauce for an instant upgrade in flavor.  Spread some on Italian bread and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese for an impromptu pizza.  Or just put some in a bowl and lay some bread straws or crackers beside it for a quick hors d'oeuvre.  Here's the on-the-fly recipe I used for my pesto, with a few ways to change it in parentheses: