I debated whether to include this on the blog, because it is not much of a recipe. But then I decided that that's precisely why I wanted and needed to share, since some of the best recipes are the simplest.
It all began with a routine trip to the grocery store to buy a bag of spinach and cat food (for different purposes, in case there's any confusion). I had the kitty food and had just snagged the bag of greens when I spotted them: blood oranges.
Such a sight may be de rigueur at Whole Foods Market, but at the University Street Kroger in Nacogdoches, Texas, it is extraordinary. Better still, they were 4 for a $1. Four for a dollar!!! I bagged two dozen and smiled all the way home.
And they were perfect. I wolfed down several plain, squeezed several more for gloriously sweet scarlet juice, attempted to feed several segment to Nick (which he promptly refused), and used the remaining bounty atop Greek yogurt.
The Greek yogurt-blood orange combination was utter bliss. I am already a yogurt fiend--I eat it everyday, throughout the day, and feel less than my best when I cannot eat my fill--but this was over the top good. I grated a teaspoon of zest--it is particularly floral--and stirred it into the yogurt (a generous ration of zest to yogurt, but it didn't overwhelm). I anticipated the need to add a bit of honey or agave nectar to the yogurt, but the oranges were so sweet, I saw no need. After segmenting the oranges, I squeezed the skins of any remain juice, then poured all over the yogurt. Simple, gorgeous, and sublime.
Greek yogurt is pricey, but worth the occasional splurge. But you can (and I often do, and did for this recipe) make your own from plain yogurt. Greek yogurt is strained yogurt; all you need to make it is regular plain yogurt (any level of fat), coffee filters, and some time (it takes a few hours to drain the water from the yogurt; overnight in the refrigerator is perfect). Here's my method: Homemade Greek Yogurt. The strained yogurt will keep for the same amount of time as the regular yogurt; save the container and spoon the strained yogurt back inside or place in another sealed plastic container. Cheap and easy!
The blood oranges disappeared as mysteriously as they arrived, but I am certain this will be every bit as delectable with navel oranges, tangerines, and ruby red grapefruits.
Greek Yogurt with Blood Oranges
Makes 1 serving
2 blood oranges
2/3 plain Greek yogurt (a 5.3-oz container, or make your own as indicated above)
Finely grated 1 tsp zest from the oranges; stir into the yogurt, then spoon yogurt into a glass or small bowl. Cut off all of the zest and pith from the oranges, then segment the oranges over a small bowl, catching the juices (alternatively, just slice the oranges into rounds). Squeeze any excess juice from the orange "carcasses." Spoon the oranges and their juices over the yogurt and enjoy!
As promised in my Whole Wheat Quinoa Muffin post, I'm sharing the energy bars I made this past Sunday. Apologies for the delay, I've been under the weather. Running errands in another surreal day of snow yesterday (it's not supposed to snow here!) exacerbated the situation. But it is gloriously sunny morning, and I'm feeling extra-energized after eating one of these yummy bars and slurping some hot masala chai.
I'll be up and running around the kitchen later, so more deliciousness to come. Stay tuned!
Isn't real food pretty?
Fruit, Nut & Seed Power Bars
Makes 8 bars
These bars are similar in texture to LARA bars (soft),but with a crunch from the greater proportion of nuts and addition of seeds. You can vary the dried fruits to your heart's content, but I recommend keeping the dates as they work so well to hold everything together.
1 cup whole raw almonds with skins
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup dates
1/2 cup prunes
1/4 cup orange juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
Preheat oven to 300°F. Line an 8x8-inch square pan with foil.
Place the almonds, apricots, dates, and prunes in a food processor; pulse a few times until coarsely chopped. Add orange juice and salt; pulse until mixture starts to stick together. Add pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, pulsing a few times just to incorporate.
Scoop mixture into prepared pan. Using a large square of wax paper or plastic wrap, evenly press mixture into pan, using your palms to flatten.
Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.. Use ends of foil to lift bars from pan. Cut into 8 bars. Wrap each bar in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator.
Nutritional Information Per Bar:
It's beginning to feel like spring in Texas, but I am holding on to winter--or, at least, winter baking--with all my might.
Today was the kind of gray, drizzly, SF bay area (home)-style weather that I love, so after church, Kevin headed off to his office to grade papers while Nick and I stayed home to savor our indoor day by baking and being silly, activities at which we both excel.
I had toyed with the idea of giving up sugar for Lent, but after giving the notion a two-day test run last weekend, I was ready to tear down the remaining wallpaper in an upstairs closet with my bare hands. Hence I modified the plan to (1) cut back on sugar (especially no leftover Valentine's candy :)) and opt for less refined sweeteners, such as honey, agave nectar, and maple syrup over sugar (without being fanatical); and (2) eat even more whole foods in general, everyday, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc.
So rather than a chocolate chip cookies and apple cake this afternoon, I opted for a batch of my Whole Wheat-Honey Quinoa Muffins and some dried fruit, nut and seeds bars (I'll share the bar recipe tomorrow).
I am crazy about quinoa, as I've mentioned in other posts--and it's a fantastic addition to muffins, both for its nutrition (high protein, in particular) and subtle, nutty flavor. It also adds a slightly nubby texture to the finished muffin, creating more nooks and crannies for a spread of all-fruit preserves. The recipe is based on the Martha Stewart Everyday Food Quinoa Muffins , but I've altered them in several ways.
The most significant changes are to the flour and sweetener. I've replaced the all-purpose flour with King Arthur white whole flour. You could also use whole wheat pastry flour (available in natural foods stores) or a blend of 1/2 all-purpose flour and 1/2 regular whole wheat flour. I replaced the brown sugar with honey, in part for the reasons mentioned above, but also because the added moisture keeps these muffins extra moist despite the switch to whole wheat flour.
These freeze really well; I wrap them (individually) in plastic wrap, then place in a freezer zipper bag. They defrost on the countertop in about 20 minutes. Happy baking (and eating).
Whole Wheat-Honey Quinoa Muffins
Preheat oven to 350F
1 standard 12-cup muffin tin, greased or sprayed with nonstick spray
Makes 12 muffins
1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a mesh sieve
2 cups white whole wheat flour (i.e. King Arthur brand)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup dried cranberries or any dried fruit you like
3/4 cup lowfat milk
2/3 cup honey (or agave nectar, brown rice syrup, or maple syrup)
1/4 cup light olive oil or other neutral cooking oil (e.g., canola, safflower)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Bring quinoa and 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer; cover, and cook 15-20 minutes until water has been absorbed and quinoa is tender. Cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cranberries, and the cooked quinoa.
In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, honey, oil, egg, and vanilla. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, and stir just until combined (do not overmix or muffins will be tough). Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups.
Bake 25-30 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool muffins in pan, 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 5 days.
I'm giddy with Olympic fever, and following the visions of snow-capped mountains night after night (oh, Canada...) I've had mad cravings for soup, hot chocolate, baked bread, and stacks of pancakes drenched in (Canadian) maple syrup.
This far, I've only accomplished the soup from my list, but it's a soup worth sharing: lentil soup with Italian sausage & Swiss chard. The preparation takes little patience; a bit of chopping, stirring, and simmering, and soup's on. The next day, leftovers can be re-warmed (like most every soup, this one is even better on day two) for a perfect lunch. I've been savoring a bowl computer-side in between editing. But given that the bowl is now scraped clean, it's time to get back to work--must finish before men's fee skate tonight!
Lentil Soup with Italian Sausage & Swiss Chard
1-2/3 cups lentils, rinsed well
6 cups water
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 Turkish or 1 California bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage links, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 pound Swiss chard or spinach, chopped (about 4 cups packed)
1 to 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
Simmer lentils, water, broth, bay leaf, and half of garlic in a 4-quart pot, uncovered, 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a wide heavy 5- to 6-quart pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown sausage, about 7 minutes. Transfer sausage with a slotted spoon to a bowl.
Reduce heat to medium and cook onion, carrots, celery, remaining garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add sausage and lentils with cooking liquid and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in Swiss chard and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in vinegar to taste and season with salt and pepper. Discard bay leaf and serve.
I meant it in my last post when I said I've been on a baked egg kick--and that I planned to share more of my quick fix options.
This is by far my favorite. How could it not be? It is so darn good, ridiculously easy, and variable. In its simplest form, it requires three ingredients: eggs, good-quality marinara sauce, and a touch of olive oil. My thinking is that toast is a must-have, for mopping up the sauce and egg, but it's sublime lapped up with fork or spoon alone (i may need to get this stainless steel spork, it would be ideal). A quick bake in the oven, and a fabulous breakfast is yours (or in the case of the egg above, prepared this morning, mine).
Because of my inability to leave any recipe alone, I usually add a little of this or that--leftover basil leaves, some chopped lean ham, grated Parmesan, leftover roasted potatoes, or sriracha if I need to spice up my morning. Here's to breakfast
Baked Eggs in Marinara
You can use whichever variety of marinara sauce you like, purchased or homemade. I'm partial to Amy's Organic Marinara Sauce and Muir Glen Organic Marinara Sauce. Remember, you can freeze leftover sauce if you are not going to eat baked eggs 5 days in a row--I place 1/2 cup in zipper-top bags and place flat on a cookie sheet; it's easier to store in the freezer when they freeze flat!
Makes 1 serving
Total Time: 20 minutes
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup good-quality, jarred organic marinara sauce
1 large egg
Salt & freshly cracked pepper
Optional: slice of crusty, toasted bread
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Set one large ramekin or other oven-proof bowl on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle olie oil into bottom of ramekin.
2. Spoon 1/2 cup sauce into the ramekin. Crack the egg into the ramekin; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Bake until egg white is just opaque (yolks should still be soft), 11 to 14 minutes until whites are set. Serve with the bread, if desired (you really should :))
Hooray for fall! After months of blazing heat, suffocating humidity, and malevolent mosquitoes, East Texas is, virtually overnight, a tranquil haven. Praise be! Post-church, Kevin, Nick and I spent most of the day outdoors, wandering through the woods, riding bikes, and blowing bubbles.
The cooler weather has reinvigorated my cooking, too. I've been meaning to do some experimenting with TVP (texturized vegetable protein), and today felt like the day to do it.
I bought several bags of TVP a few months ago, specifically because Kevin is so protein-oriented; I wanted to figure out some more high-protein, nutritious snacks for him, as well as me and Nicky, that do not involve artificially flavored protein powders and the like. Kevin looked less than thrilled when he unpacked it (I think the name has something to do with it--TVP and TP are a mere letter away), but conceded to give it a try. TVP is so inexpensive and has a fantastic nutrition profile: $2.49 per lb (that's about 4-2/3 cups) from the bulk food section, and 1/4 cup has 80 calories, 0g fat, 4 grams dietary fiber, 15% of daily intake iron, and a whopping 12 grams of protein.
But none of that spells delicious, so I set to work to add flavor and more flavor. Meatballs were a natural choice for a first-time TVP experiment. Who doesn't love a meatball? They are great for making ahead and freezing, too.
I looked up about half a dozen recipes for TVP meatballs for a starting point, but quickly decided to take things in my own direction, mostly because very recipe I found had raw flour added to it.
Yuck. Who wants a meatball of any variety with flour in it? Not I. Instead, I approached my TVP meatballs in much the same way as I would any meatball: lots of flavor from herbs and spices, a bit of say sauce for umami, a binder (eggs or flaxmeal "eggs" to make it vegan), and most importantly, salt (without it, both meat and TVP are terrible).
The first step is reconstituting the TVP. It's simple: just add hot water, stir, and let sit for about 10 minutes. The resulting texture is light and fluffy, and has a delicious, nutty aroma (I am so going to develop a power bar with TVP next).
Next, the aromatics. I used onion, garlic, oregano, and cumin, as well as a generous handful of fresh basil. You could use cilantro or flat leaf parsley to vary the flavor, but the fresh basil flavor is exceptional. I sauteed the aromatics in olive oil. Don;t cut back on the olive oil--you need it to help bind the balls (I will not google that phrase!), and the olive oil adds a lot of flavor.
Every recipe I found for TVP meatballs gave instruction to simply mix the TVP with the other ingredients and press together into balls. I cannot imagine this working, even with added flour, and I noted that reviewers for such recipes noted that their balls crumbled.
So I put everything in a food processor instead, processing until it started to come together. It still had plenty of texture, and it was a breeze to form into balls.
Last, instead of frying the meatballs, I used the same method I do for meat meatballs: I baked them. 375F for 15 to 20 minutes and they were golden, firm, and, pardon me for bragging, absolutely, undeniably scrumptious!!!! Kevin has yet to taste them, but I served them to Nick for dinner, along with some warm marinara to coat and cut spaghetti on the side. As I walked back to the kitchen, Nick yelled, "Mommy, these are DELICIOUS!!!"
You will love these!
Homemade Meatless Meatballs
Preheat oven to 375F
Makes 3 dozen meatballs (Per meatball: 30 calories, 3.3 g protein, .28 g fat)
2-1/3 cup texturized vegetable protein (TVP)
1 3/4 cups boiling water
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 tbsp olive oil or other neutral vegetable oil
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic
2 tbsp soy sauce
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
1-1/4 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 eggs or 2 flax eggs (see below for flax egg)
1. In a large bowl, combine the TVP and boiling water. Let stand 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook and stir 5 to 6 minutes until onion is translucent. Add the soy sauce, cumin, oregano, salt, and black pepper and cook and stir 30 seconds longer.
3. Place the TVP mixture, onion mixture, basil, and eggs or flax eggs in bowl of food processor. Process until mixture just begins to hold together.
4. Mold into 1 inch size meatballs ( a small cookie scoop works perfectly).
5. Arrange balls on a large rimmed baking sheet. Optional, give balls a quick spritz with olive oil cooking spray (it promotes browning). Bake 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned.
Use as a replacement for meat meatballs in the favorite recipe of your choice, or just eat plain as a snack--yum!
Flax Egg: To make the equivalent of two eggs, process 1/2 cup water with 3 tbsp ground flaxseeds (flaxseed meal) in a blender for 1 minute or until thickened and frothy.
Storage: Cool meatballs completely then place in heavy duty zipper top bags. Store in refrigerator for 3 to 4 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.
In general, I am not a savory breakfast person. It's not that I eschew bacon and eggs when the opportunity arises (which it does, about every other Saturday morning, when my husband takes charge of breakfast). It's a simple matter of preference and habit. Yogurt makes me happy. So do fruit, muffins, toast with peanut butter and jelly, muffins, scones, and whole grain porridge of every variety (so long as it has a sprinkle of brown sugar or drizzle of honey).
But a woman needs her protein and vegetables, and sometimes a warm, savory breakfast beckons. Enter the indispensable egg. On those mornings when I'm so ravenous that I feel like I could eat my through all of the above-mentioned items and still feel hungry, I know that it's eggs that I need, so it's eggs that make.
A homey scramble has it's comforts, and fits the bill on most such mornings, but recently I've been on a baked egg kick. Part of it is due to my finally (4 -1/2 years to be precise) figured out the basic functions of the convection oven function of the built-in microwave that came with the house. I'm not going to trust a cake in it--yet--but so far the eggs are a cinch, and it's nice not having to turn on the big oven for my wee eggs.
The second reason for my newfound preference is that I cannot gobble a baked egg. It has a primness, a gentle sophistication, that forces me to set a spot at the table, use a linen napkin, and have a sip of hot tea before I dip my spoon into the golden yolk.
More baked egg recipes to come. Apparently February + me + morning = ravenous.
Baked Eggs with Mushrooms & Spinach
Makes 4 servings
Since there is one of me, but four of these eggs, I make all of the spinach mushroom mixture at once, then let half of it cool and chill until the next (makes an extra-quick option on day two). Also--who am I kidding--I usually eat two of the baked eggs, so this really makes 4 baked egg cups but 2 servings.
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
5 ounces baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup thinly sliced crimini or button mushrooms
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 large eggs
1-2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan
1. Position oven rack in upper third of oven. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Add spinach and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
3. Wipe skillet dry, then cook onion and garlic in remaining tbsp olive oil over medium heat, about 2 to 3 minutes until softened. Add mushrooms and increase heat to medium-high. Cook and stir 3 to 4 minutes until mushrooms are softened.
4. Stir in the milk, sea salt, pepper, nutmeg, and spinach. Bring to a simmer.
5. Spoon mixture into 4 buttered ramekins. Break an egg into each ramekin
6. Bake, uncovered, 8 to 10 minutes until egg whites are set but yolks are still slightly runny.
8. Season eggs with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with Parmesan.
There's still time to make some incredibly delicious, and good-for-you superbowl dishes--head over to GalTime for my article and recipes for:
Guacamole with Pomegranate Seeds
Smoky Superbowl Black Bean Chicken Chili
Touchdown Mocha Pudding Cups
Maple Chile-Lime Popcorn
Click Here for my article and recipes!
My husband is struggling over which team to root for: we lived in Indiana for many years, so he's a Colt's fan, but he is also a southern boy, loves New Orleans, plus we now live in the ArkLaTex (East Arkansas/ Louisiana/East Texas--I didn't make that up). But I think the scales are tipping towards the Saints. Should be a great game, even for someone like me (not a football fan, but I can get into the spirit for the superbowl).
Stay warm and have fun!
I do not fare well in cold weather. As soon as the weather drops to the mid-60s, I reach for my fleece, plug in the space heater beneath my desk, and brew and sip (or slug) tea from morning to night.
So when the temperature plummeted to the 20s this past Saturday, I was hoping to curl up in a ball with Nick, a blanket, and a pile of story books for most of the day. Nick had other plans. He cuddled until 9, but was running around like a madman by 10, so I gave Eralda a call to see if she and Jack (her son, and Nick's buddy; they are two months apart in age) wanted to go for a bike ride in the arboretum on campus. Hooray, she said yes!
The boys love the trails at the arboretum, which are mostly flat, perfect for budding bike riders, and there is plenty of flora along the way to hold every one's interest. But the cold, wet, windy grey proved too much for all of us; we reloaded the bikes and headed for the warmth of the library, following which Nick and I headed home for a long nap (for him) and bread-baking (for me).
I was still chilled from the outdoor romp, so the prospect of a warm oven and freshly-baked bread was tantalizing to my wimpy winter soul. No fancy focaccia or challah braids this time around; I turned to one of my favorite, pane all'olio.
It's such an easy bread to make; even more so if yo have stand mixer with a dough hook. It has a good crust--crust, but not tough, thanks to the olive oil--and jut the right amount of toothsome-ness to adapt to morning toast (with plenty of preserves, marmalade or nutella, lunctime panini, or dinner dipping (we had soup).
I've taken to substituting a little bit more than half of the bread flour with white whole wheat flour; you still need some of the bread flour (for gluten's sake). If you're feeling frugal, you can always use canola or other vegetable oil in place of the olive oil, but do splurge if you can; you really can detect fruity notes of the olive oil in each slice. Guaranteed, it will warm you through and through.
Whole Wheat Pane All'Olio (Olive Oil Bread)
I am not sure where I acquired the original recipe for this bread, but I think it was clipped from the San Francisco Chronicle food section back, circa 1996 or so (I've been making it that long). The pinch of sugar is my addition (to assist the bloom of the yeast), as is the whole wheat addition, and the preparation notes. It really is wonderful, and makes two generous loaves.
I've developed a trick for baing bread sans oven stone: let the shaped bread rise on parchment paper, then transfer (paper and all) to a hot baking sheet (let the latter heat while preheting the oven). This produces a perfect bottom to the loaves!
2-1/4 cups warm water
1/4 tsp granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp dry yeast
2-1/2 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
2-1/4 cups bread flour (I used King Arthur Organic, but any variety is fine)
2-1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup olive oil (preferably extra virgin)
Combine the warm water and sugar in a large bowl; sprinkle yeast over. Let stand 5 minutes to proof. When it softens and sinks, add remaining ingredients, mixing with wooden spoon (or use dough hook and low speed on KitchenAid mixer).
Scrape out of bowl and knead for 10 minutes on floured surface, adding more bread flour if necessary to keep from sticking (or knead with dough hook in KitchenAid).
Oil large bowl with olive oil and add dough, spreading a little oil on top. Cover with plastic wrap and then a clean tea towel. Let rise in warm place 1 hour.
Punch dough down and let sit on floured counter, covered with bowl, 10 minutes to relax gluten. Form 2 oblong loaves; roll each loaf slightly to taper the ends (torpedo shape). Place loaves on parchment paper(far apart), and slash lengthwise (about 1/2-inch deep) with a sharp knife. Cover lightly with clean towel and let rise 30 to 40 minutes.
Place a large baking sheet in oven; preheat oven to 375F (this allows sheet to heat). Remove towel and transfer parchment with loaves to sheet. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until loaves sound hollow when thumped. Makes 2 beautiful loaves.