Friday, July 16, 2010

Quinoa (keen-wa) Pasta

I found a new health food store by my house the other day.  This is my new favorite store, not just because they are so close by, but because they offered to order and keep my favorite silken tofu in stock.  That is not a small thing for me.  I have had major difficulty finding silken tofu for smoothie making.  This is their site.

While I was there I happened upon this item:

I must say that I am very impressed with this pasta. It is made with quinoa flour and rice flour. It's good for those with celiac or other gluten aversions.  For me, it just tastes good and has a very healthy grain as it's base.

I decided to go old school and just do spaghetti and meatballs, even though this is really fettucini.  I love the texture and flavor.  The box describes it as nutty.  The sauce I used took precedent over the pasta's flavor, but I would not hesitate to try this pasta with a less powerful sauce.

I made a normal, nothing special sauce, and some simple meatballs.  I don't know why I am including this pic.  It does not do the meal justice.  I was being lazy and used my mobile phone to take the pic.  It blasphemes most of the food I cook.

I think my kid likes it.

Here is a link to the company that gifts people this amazing product.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Newest Members of My Kitchen Family

I have a friend who refuses to buy anything used, EVER.  I can appreciate the reasoning.  Who wants to inherit other people's potential germs? What if the item was abused by it's previous owner? And there are no guarantees or warranties on the item.  But, you know what I see???

Lots of saved money!

Case in point? This juice extractor cost me twelve dollars at a thrift store.

Waring JEX328 Health Juice Extractor

Obviously I got a good deal. And, it's a pretty good looking and productive little machine.

The next item I scavenged at the thrift store was this mandolin, which I only paid two dollars for.

Zyliss Easy Slice Mandolin, White

So, those are two of the newest members in my collection.

The third addition to my little gathering of appliances is my food dehydrator. Let's just say that my blender (boyfriend) is having a really hard time welcoming Mr. Dehydrator and my new infatuation with him (although his curviness would allude to him being female, but just let's not go there). Now, I didn't find this baby at a thrift store, I actually hit up amazon for it.

Nesco American Harvest FD-61P 500 Watt Food Dehydrator

So, here are the ways I have already utilized my new items.

I used my mandolin to make these amazing "chips". I found the recipe online, and it was referenced as coming from an old issue of Gourmet Magazine (R.I.P.).

Set your oven to 500 degrees.
Butter up some cookie sheets.
Mandolin some potatoes.
Lay them on the sheets. They can touch, but not overlap.
Butter the tops of the slices of potato.
Bake 15 Minutes.

I like to use red potatoes and fleur-de-lis salt.

As for my juicer... ahhh... carrot juice. If any of you readers out there (are there any readers out there?) like carrot juice, please take this opportunity to declare your love and endure the ridicule and distortion of the faces of all the normal people. That is what my experience has been when I tell people how much I love carrot juice. However, if you aren't a lover of the orange milk of the Gods, you can do orange juice, apple juice, grape juice. If you are really adventurous, you can even do celery juice. It's supposed to a natural gatorade.

Needless to say, I have juiced a lot of things, and I have enjoyed it. I pour the juices into ice cube trays, freeze them, pop out the cubes, bag them, and put them in the freezer for later.

That later time would be today. Today I grabbed a few of those cubes, mixed them with some fresh fruit and threw them into the dehydrator to make fruit leather.

This leather here is made with fresh oranges, frozen banana, frozen strawberry, frozen mango puree, and frozen pineapple.

Why not just use fresh fruit? Because, having homemade juice on hand, that doesn't spoil because it is not pasteurized, is wonderful.

So that is where Mr. Wonderful comes in.. you know, the dehydrator. I spent about 1.50 on some over-ripe bananas, threw them into the machine, and the next day had some pretty good banana chips. Now, these aren't the crappy ones that you get at the store. They are a little chewier, tens times sweeter, and much more flavorful. Or, as my son says, "YUM!".

I made peach leather, which ended up being totally too expensive for my liking. A word to the wise, pick cheap fruit because watching your pounds of fruit dehydrate into a thin layer of leather is rather irritating when you spent almost eight dollars on it. Go with the less expensive stuff on sale, and if you are really into saving the money, canned isn't a bad idea.

I read that applesauce is a good idea as well. So, tonight I put a bit of natural applesauce with some cinnamon in it in the tray to make more fruit leather. Tomorrow will reveal how accurate the article I read was.  I also did a tray of pureed cantaloupe and one of pureed green and red grapes.  My kitchen smells amazing right now!

Needless to say, my little family of appliances really worked together today to get the job done. The blender made the puree, and the extractor made the juice that went into the puree that made the leather. The mandolin sliced the potatoes that the oven baked. The extra puree that we had left over from making the fruit leather went into a smoothie which we enjoyed with the chips.

Good times!

The Anatomy of a Green Smoothie

I have been meaning to make this post for a while. My hesitation has been solely based on trying to find a way to explain that this is only my way of doing things without disqualifying the legitimacy of the method. Also, I am not interested in seeming like I think I invented something that I am sure has been done many times, in many ways, by many people. All disclaimers aside, here is a basic recipe for creating your own green smoothie.

1 C. of milk (skim milk, soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, cashew milk, etc.)
and/or 1 C. silken tofu or 1 C. of plain yogurt.
1 C. of juice (apple, grapes, pomegranate, cranberry, carrot, etc.)
1 C. of greens, or one frozen cube of greens (swiss chard, spinach, kale, mustard greens, red beet greens, etc.)
1 1/2 C. of frozen fruit (you can mix this up)
1 Frozen Banana
1/2 C. water
1/2 C. ice cubes

Here is the order you put them in the carafe if you are using a blender:

milk, juice, water, banana, fruit, greens, ice cubes.

Let me know how it works for you! I appreciate any, and all, input!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Alternatives to Chocolate Milk

A while back my husband decided that it was his duty as our son's father to introduce him to the wonderful world of chocolate syrup. My husband has a strange affinity for the stuff. Personally, I find it bitter and gross. The husband likes to pour it on cereal and marshmallows and milk and bananas in a big bowl. If I ate like that I would be the size of a house.

So, back to the chocolate milk issue. In an effort to keep my son from spontaneously combusting, I allow him one cup of chocolate milk a day. If he asks for more, he is reminded that he only gets one cup a day. I think that is a rather generous set up, but for some reason the two year old fails to see it that way. It's probably because the concept of "once a day" is as conceivable as the fact that eating sand is not a good idea, and that if you get under your overly low Ikea bed your head will get stuck.

So, here is the idea (which I am sure is not overly novel in any place on earth), put frozen fruit in the milk to sweeten it up. This is where having a high powered blender comes in handy. This is yet another plug for my Blendtec Blender, a.k.a., my boyfriend. By the way, I have had this blender less than a year and I have already used it over 350 times! It has a counter on it, so I am rather sure on the usage. It has already surpassed what I expected to get out of it to make it worth the big price tag.

Blendtec TB-631-20 The Professional's Choice 1560-Watt Total Blender, Red

Today we threw in about two and a half strawberries and a full banana, some milk and blended it. It was a thicker than the usual milk, a little cooler from the frozen elements and rather tasty!

It doesn't take too much thought to realize that other fruit could have been used. You could also add some extracts like almond (if your kid isn't allergic to nuts), vanilla or raspberry. The combinations are endless. AND, if you allow the kids to choose and count the ingredients as they go into the blender carafe, you make it more fun for them. And, it might help them forget about the nasty sugar filled syrup.

So there you go, my kid ate a nice serving of fruit and some dairy and we were all happy. Well, all of us but the lonely rejected chocolate syrup, who I swear I heard crying in the fridge.

Banana Processing

I love having a stopwatch on my wristwatch. First off, it works well for giving my kid a time out any time, any place. I had thought about using our strawberry shaped kitchen timer, but I'm not so sure how well that would fit in my pocket, let alone on my wrist.

Today I utilized my handy little watch with this posting in mind. I wanted to illustrate how little time it takes to process bananas for freezing.

It took me 12 minutes and 32 seconds from start to finish to do all the bananas you see above.

12 minutes and 32 seconds! Amazing huh?

The kicker? I bought these at the Farmer's store I posted about earlier. If you look around you can find places that are selling these super-ripe to over-ripe bananas on sale for 50-75% off.

That whole pile of bananas was 11 pounds! And it only cost me about $3.50!

So, $3.50 and 12 minutes and 32 seconds later, I have a huge lot of bananas ready to go into the freezer for future smoothies, bread, and more.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

"You could win something with this" Roasted Balsamic Chicken

Let me tell you about this chicken I roasted today. I combined a couple of recipes (Giada De Laurentiis and Mark Bittman) and then added my own flair. The end result of this process created one of the best roasted chickens I have ever had the pleasure of eating. And, I don't really like chicken.

The lemons that I stuffed the cavity with permeated the breast meat with a nice citrus flavor, which was accentuated perfectly by the "glaze" on the skin. The dark meat was... oh man...just succulent and heavenly.

It took a bit of work, but it was worth it!


One Five lb. Roasting Chicken
1/2 Stick of Butter (the real stuff people!)


2 Medium Sized Lemons (Quartered for stuffing, after zesting for marinade)
2 Sprigs of Lemon Thyme
6 Leaves of Lemon Basil
2 Sprigs of Rosemary


2 Tbsp. Good Olive Oil
Generous Amount of Freshly Ground Pepper
Kosher Salt (or what I use, Rosemary Infused Salt)


Zest From Two Medium Sized Lemons
1/2 C. Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 C. Agave Nectar (or honey if you like)
1/2 C. Brown Sugar
1/4 C. Good Soy Sauce
5 Sprigs of Rosemary
2 Tbsp. of Minced Garlic

Stuff the chicken with the above ingredients.

Rub: Put on the oil and then the seasoning (rub it on).

Pop the bird in the oven breast down in a roasting pan; or what I used, a simple glass cake pan.

Roast breast down for 20 minutes at high temp.

Take out, flip bird, brush/pour half the "glaze" onto the bird, take temp down to 325 degrees, cube your butter and surround the bird with it. Set timer to 8 minutes.

Baste the bird with the "glaze" when the timer goes off. Set timer for another 8 minutes.

Baste the bird again with the "glaze". Add the rest of the "glaze" to the pan.

Roast until bird is 170 degrees in the breast.

Baste at the end with the juices.

Take your bird out.

I squirted a little bit of agave on the top of the chicken, poured a bit (1/4 c.) of balsamic vinegar on top and then salted and peppered and dropped some dried rosemary on top for the pretty factor.

If you want to add more pretty to it, sprinkle with toasted sesame seed and chop up some fresh parsley and scatter it on the chicken.

Let it rest for a bit and then ENJOY!!!

Side Note: I served this with some blanched green beans warmed in a pan and seasoned with garlic, rosemary salt, ground black pepper, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar.

My husband decided that I could "win something with this recipe". That's a pretty big compliment coming from him. He usually says my food is "ok" or "good".

Mark Bittman's Book:
How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food

Giada's recipe: