Saturday, October 20, 2018

Roasted Parsnips and Celery

I truly love my Sheet Pan and try to use them whenever I can. I also love roasted vegetables and tonight I roasted Parsnips and Celery together. Both of these vegetables don't often get enough credit for being delicious and they are! When you roast them together, the Parsnips get caramelized and chewy-crisp and the Celery gets soft, yet stays juicy. It's a wonderful combination!  I very simply drizzle them with Olive Oil and since I love to roast Celery when I roast a Chicken, I used Chicken Salt that I brought back from Australia to season them. But, you can use any Seasoned Salt or just Salt. The secret to this dish is to roast the vegetables for nearly an hour and then put them under the broiler for the last several minutes. They are a perfect combination for me!

Roasted Parsnips and Celery

4 Parsnips, ends trimmed, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
4 - 5 stalks of Celery, washed, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Chicken Salt or Seasoned Salt or Salt

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle a sheet pan with 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil and then put on the Parsnip and Celery pieces.  Drizzle with the remaining Olive Oil and sprinkle with Salt. Place in the oven and roast for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn over all the pieces with a spatula. Return to the oven and cook for an additional 25 minutes. Then turn the oven to broil and cook for an additional 3 - 4 minutes or until the Parsnips start to brown.  Serve hot or warm. 

Five Element Analysis

Parnsips are a combination of the Metal Element because they are a white food, but also grow in the ground so they embody the Earth Element too. Celery is part of the Wood Element as is the Olive OIl. Roasting these vegetables brings in the Fire Element. The Water Element is the only one missing so this would be a good side dish to Pork or Fish or another Water vegetable like Eggplant. 

Friday, October 19, 2018

Tomato Sauce with Chicken and Arugula

You know those days when you don't know what to cook and you need to cook something fast? That's when I check out what's hanging out in my refrigerator and my cupboards and then I throw something together. I'm almost always surprised when it turns out really well and this Sauce is a prime example. I had a bunch of Roma Tomatoes, a single Chicken Breast and some wilting Arugula, so I knew I could make a Pasta Sauce. And, I found Cauliflower Gnocchi (which is technically a dumpling) from Trader Joe's in the freezer that I had forgotten that I bought.  This Sauce turned out so wonderfully that I decided to share it here and so I remember how I made it!  The one thing that I did that was unusual was to puree the cooked Tomatoes with the Shallot and then I pushed it through a stainer so that it was a completely smooth sauce before I added the Chicken in. You can skip that step if you want or you can just peel the Tomatoes before chopping them up. If I hadn't found the Gnocchi, I would probably have served it with Fusilli. I discovered that I love cooked Arugula, maybe even more than in a salad so it may become a staple in my Pasta Sauces!

Tomato Sauce with Chicken and Arugula

1 boneless, skinless Chicken Breast half
1/2 teaspoon Salt
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
1 Shallot, minced
6 Roma Tomatoes, stem removed and chopped coarsely
1/2 cup dry White Wine
3 cups loosely packed Baby Arugula
1/2 teaspoon Sugar

Cut up the Chicken Breast into thin slices about 1 inch long.  Season with Salt.

Then heat 1 Tablespoon of the Olive Oil in a sauté pan and add the Shallots. Cook until softened. Then add in the Roma Tomatoes and cook until the Tomatoes start to get soft. Add in the wine and continue to cook until a sauce is formed. 

Puree the Sauce in a Food Processor or Blender and strain to make smooth, if desired.

Add the additional 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil to the sauté pan until hot and add in the Chicken. Cook until it is no longer pink. Then add the Sauce back in and bring to a boil.  add in the Arugula and take off the heat, stirring until the Arugula wilts. Serve with the Pasta of your choice or Gnocchi.

Five Element Analysis

Tomatoes are part of the Fire Element and so is the Wine. Chicken belongs to the Wood Element and the Olive Oil and Arugula add even more. The Metal Element is represented by the Shallot. I served it with Cauliflower Gnocchi, made of Cauliflower and PotatoThe Cauliflower brings in more Metal and the Potato adds the Earth. This then ends up being a family balanced meal!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Butternut Squash Muffins

I'm trying to incorporate more orange foods into my diet because they are so good for you. Orange foods belong to the Earth Element in Chinese Medicine and they support the Spleen, Stomach and Pancreas. They are considered very grounding and good for regulating blood sugar. I have to admit that Orange foods aren't my favorite foods in the ways that they are usually cooked. I'm quite fond of Sweet Potato Fries but mostly I like my orange foods to be desserts or sweet breads. I made some Roasted Butternut Squash the other night for a Salad and had enough left over to do something else with it. Luckily, I didn't season the Squash much when I roasted it - just a little Vegetable Oil and Salt. So, I decided to make Butternut Squash Muffins and lowered the Salt in the recipe to compensate. I also added Oats and used Pumpkin Pie Seasoning because it's that time of year and it works perfectly with Butternut Squash. The Muffins were wonderful - really delicious and not too sweet! They are just perfect for a quick breakfast on the go.

Butternut Squash Muffins

1 cup Gluten Free Flour Mix (I used Cup 4 Cup)
1/2 cup Rolled Oats
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 cup cooked Butternut Squash (steamed or roasted)
1/3 cup Almond Milk
1/4 cup melted Butter
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 large Egg
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with Oil (I used a Silicone Muffin Tin)

In a mixing bowl, combine the Gluten Free Flour Mix, Rolled Oats, Baking Powder, Salt and Pumpkin Pie Spice. Then add in the Butternut Squash, Almond Milk Oil, Brown Sugar, Egg and Vanilla Extract. Stir until blended.  

Fill Muffin cups 3/4 full - it should make 12 muffins. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes or until tops are brown and spring back lightly when touched or a toothpick comes out clean when poked. 

Five Element Analysis

Butternut Squash is part of the Earth Element and the Oats, Almond Milk and Brown Sugar add even more. The Egg contributes the Water Element. The Butter, Pumpkin Pie Spice and Vanilla Extract along with the Gluten Free Flour (that is mostly Rice Flour) bring in the Metal Element. The Fire Element is not present so be sure to serve these muffins with some Tea or Coffee and later have some of the Wood Element in another meal for balance. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Fennel Soup

I had a friend coming over tonight who is Vegan and I wanted to make a nourishing vegetable soup. I had two Fennel Bulbs in the refrigerator and decided to use them. I never think of using Fennel in Soup as I usually braise it or make it into a salad. But tonight I was craving soup and so I used it along with some Carrots, Green Beans and Onions. I also added a can of Tomatoes and some Vegetable Broth and ended up making a delightful soup - I was so pleased! The Fennel has a somewhat sweet flavor when cooked and the end result was a bit more like a vegetable stew. It was delicious, fast and easy too!  

Fennel Soup

2 Fennel Bulbs, trimmed and cut into small pieces
3 Large Carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut into small pieces
a large handful of Green Beans, ends trimmed and cut into small pieces
1 large Onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
8 cups Vegetable Broth
1 14 oz can chopped Tomatoes
2 teaspoons Salt
1 Bay Leaf

Put the Olive OIl in a large soup pot and add in the Onion and Fennel. Cook, stirring frequently until they are softened.  Then add in the Green Beans and Carrots, the Vegetable Broth, the Tomatoes and the Salt and Bay Leaf.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.  

Five Element Analysis

Soup by it's very nature is a Water Food, so that element is automatically involved in this dish. Fennel is one of the few Metal Vegetables, so that element is covered and the Onion adds even more.  The Carrots and Green Beans bring in the Earth Element. The Tomatoes contribute the Fire Element. The Olive Oil is the only representative of the Wood Element but the Vegetable Broth has Celery in it so the Wood Element is there too.  So, this Soup is more balanced than I expected!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Spaghetti with Poached Scallops in Fresh Tomato Sauce

Now that I've found a Gluten Free Pasta brand that I really love, La Veneziane, I've been making a lot more Pasta. It's made from Corn in Italy and the taste and texture is so much like regular pasta that everyone I serve it to has no idea that it's Gluten Free!  

So, was in the mood for Linguine with Clam Sauce, but I didn't have Linguine, but I did have Gluten Free Spaghetti and I didn't have Clams either, but I did have frozen Scallops from Trader Joe's.  And, best of all, I had fresh, ripe Tomatoes from my own backyard and the Farmer's Market. I decided to puree the Tomatoes along with a Shallot. I then sautéed some Zucchini in Olive Oil, added in the Tomato Puree and White Wine and I poached the defrosted Scallops (cut in half both ways) in the simmering sauce. If you don't have Scallops, I think that sliced white Fish or Chicken would also work well. Anyway, It was wonderful and I definitely plan on making this often.   

Spaghetti with Poached Scallops in Fresh Tomato Sauce

12 ounces Spaghetti Noodles 
12 Scallops, sliced vertically and then horizontally (to make thin half moons)
1 pound of fresh Tomatoes
1 Shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large or 2 small Zucchini, ends trimmed, cut in half and then sliced into 1/4" thick slices
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 cup White Wine
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Sugar

Heat salted Water in a large pot. When boiling, drop in the Tomatoes for 1 minute. Remove  with a slotted spoon to the cutting board.  Then add in the Spaghetti. Cook according to the package directions.

Peel the Tomatoes and add to the bowl of a Food Processor or Blender and add in the Shallot. Puree until smooth.

In a Saute Pan with a high side, heat the Olive Oil and add in the Zucchini. Cook until the Zucchini is just starting to brown. Add in the Wine, Salt, Sugar and the Tomato Puree. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Add in the Scallops and poached them until they turn opaque (this happens quickly. Add the Spaghetti and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Five Element Analysis

Scallops belong to the Water Element and the Tomatoes and Wine contribute the Fire Element.  The Zucchini and Corn Pasta bring in the Earth Element and the Fire Element is seen in the Shallot. Only the Wood Element is missing so be sure to serve some leafy green vegetables along with this pasta dish for a balanced meal.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Taiwanese Three Cup Chicken

Three Cup Chicken is a very popular Taiwanese dish. My Aunt once made it for me and I watched her carefully. At the time my question was Why is it called Three Cup Chicken - is it because it makes 3 cups of Chicken?  The answer was that the sauce was made up of 3 cups of Sesame Oil, Rice Wine and Soy Sauce. But she reminded me that she was talking about teacups - not measuring cups! The other flavoring include a bit of Sugar along with Thai Basil and some Scallions (Green Onion tops) that are added at the end to maintain the aromatic flavors. This dish is traditionally served over Rice.

I like to make it with the Chicken Things cut into small pieces and I use Low Sodium Tamari so the dish isn't too salty. I also use Taiwan Rice Wine, which is clear (and Gluten Free). This dish is really quick and easy to make and absolutely delicious!  

Taiwanese Three Cup Chicken

2 pounds boneless, skinless Chicken Thighs (about 6) cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup toasted Sesame Oil
8 Garlic Cloves, sliced thin
1 chunk of Ginger (about 1" square), peeled and sliced and then cut in half
1/3 cup Low Sodium Tamari
1/3 cup Taiwan Rice Wine
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 handful of Thai Basil Leaves
2 Green Onions, green tops only sliced into small pieces

Heat a sauce pan over medium high heat and add in the Sesame Oil.  Then add in the Garlic and Green Onion. Cook until you can smell the fragrance.  Then add in the Chicken and cook until the Chicken is no longer pink.  Pour in the Tamari, Rice Wine and Sugar. Stir until Sugar is absorbed and the sauce comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle with the Thai Basil and Green Onions. Toss to combine and serve with Rice.

Five Element Analysis

Chicken belongs to the Wood Element and the Tamari and Sesame Oil contribute the Water Element. The Metal Element is found in the Garlic, Thai Basil and Green Onions. The last two ingredients also bring in some more of the Wood Element. The Fire Element is found in the Rice Wine. Only the Earth Element is a bit deficient - it is found in the Sugar and Gingers so I served this dish with a Cucumber Salad to bring in more Earth and the White Rice contributes more Metal to make a balanced meal. 

Friday, August 31, 2018

Homemade Sloppy Joe's

I had some ground Beef that needed to be cooked and I wasn't sure what to make with it. My son suggested Sloppy Joe's. I haven't made then for a really long time. It's one of those sandwiches that I remember from my own childhood and it was usually made with a spice mix and some Tomato Paste. Tonight, though I decided to make it from scratch since I didn't have an of the mix. I looked up the ingredients on the McCormick website and the main ingredients were: Sugar, Onion, Salt, Corn Starch, Paprika, Chili Pepper, Red and Green Peppers, Garlic and Vinegar. I decided to use Dehydrated Onions and Garlic Salt so it would taste more like the mix. I used minced Red Pepper since I didn't have any Green. Peppers. I combined Tomato Paste with a little Ketchup and also added some Coconut Vinegar (a very mild Vinegar) and some Brown Sugar. I finally added some Worcestershire Sauce to give the sauce some depth and some Chili Powder and Paprika to make it just right. It was wonderful!  I served it over some Gluten Free Hamburger Buns and felt like a kid again! 

Homemade Sloppy Joe's

1 pound lean Ground Beef
1/4 teaspoon Garlic Salt
1/2 cup Dehydrated Onion (or minced Onion)
1/2 cup minced Red Pepper (or 1/4 cup Red and 1/4 cup Green Pepper)
1/2 cup Tomato Paste
1/3 cup Ketchup
1/4 cup Water
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder (or another mild vinegar like Apple Cider Vinegar)
1/4 cup Coconut Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

Cook the Ground Beef with the Dehydrated Onion and Red Pepper until the Beef is no longer pink. Sprinkle in the Salt and add the Tomato Paste, Ketchup and Water and mix thoroughly Then add in the Coconut Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Chili Powder, Paprika and Worcestershire Sauce. Heat until bubbling and mixed thoroughly. Serve over toasted Hamburger Buns.

Five Element Analysis

Beef belongs to the Earth Element and the Brown Sugar adds even more. The Red Pepper, Tomato Paste and Ketchup bring in the Fire Element as does the Paprika and Chili Powder. The Onion and Garlic Salt contribute some of the Metal Element and the Wood Element is represented by the Coconut Vinegar. The Water Element is seen only in the Worcestershire Sauce. All Elements are present but Wood, Metal and Water need some support. Serving this with Hamburger Buns - either regular or Gluten Free will add some more Elements - Wheat will bring in more Wood and Gluten Free Buns are made from Rice Flour, which is a Metal Food and Tapioca Starch and Corn Starch, which are more Earth ingredients. The best way to balance this meal is to bring in some more Wood, Metal and Water foods, perhaps in a vegetable salad to create an even better balance.