Friday, November 17, 2017

Blueberry Flaxseed Muffins

There is a brand of Flaxseed Muffins that I used to pick up at PCC and the other night, I decided to replicate them. The muffins remind me a lot of the dense bran muffins I used to eat when I was eating gluten. I love a hearty muffin for breakfast and I also don't like them to be too sweet. The very first try yielded the perfect replica!  I combined Flaxseed Meal with Gluten Free Flour, added Applesauce along with Eggs and a bit of Almond Milk and Vanilla Extract. I was going to add Butter, but I forgot and they turned out so good that it was a lucky mistake. Flaxseed Meal has a lot of oil in it I guess so you don't need any extra oil. I ground my own in a little spice grinder although you can buy it already ground up. I used fresh frozen blueberries - I freeze them after a few days in the fridge if no one is using them. I like to use frozen Blueberries because they don't break down when you stir them in. I baked them until they were springy on the top when pushed down lightly. Of course I ate one right away and it was good, but the next morning, they were delicious!  I may be making these once a week as I have them three mornings in a row now. I love these muffins!

Blueberry Flaxseed Muffins

1 cup Apple Puree (I used Organic Applesauce or you can puree Apples in a food processor or blender)
1 ½ cups Gluten Free Flour Mix 
1 1//2 cups Flax Meal
1 cup Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
2 large Eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup Almond Milk (or Soy Milk or Regular Milk)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 cup Frozen Blueberries

Heat oven to 350 degrees and put liners in a muffin pan.

In a large mixing bowl, ix Together the GF Flour, Flax Meal, Sugar, Baking Soda and Salt.  In a smaller bowl, mix together the Milk, Eggs and Vanilla Extract.  Pour the Milk and Egg Mixture into the Flour Mixture and stir to combine (mixture will be very thick. Stir in the Blueberries and fill Muffins ¾ full.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until the top lightly springs back when touched and a toothpick comes out clean.  Repeat with remaining batter. Cool for at least 10 minutes. Muffins are even better the next day.

Five Element Analysis

Flaxseeds are part of the Water Element being seeds and also dark in color. and the Eggs and Blueberries add even more. The Applesauce contributes the Fire Element. The Brown Sugar adds in the Earth Element along with the Almond Milk. The Metal Element is represented by the Rice Flour in the Gluten Free Flour Mix along with the Baking Soda and Vanilla Extract. Only the Wood Element is missing, so I served them with Chicken Breakfast Sausages for a balanced breakfast!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Mushroom Pate with Almonds

I read an article the other day about how good mushrooms are for your health - particularly for anti-aging, which is good, because I love them! And, I had a big bunch of mushrooms in my refrigerator needing to be cooked. So, I made Mushroom Pate. I've made a version before with Sunflower Seeds (previous post) but I was out of them, so I went with Almonds instead. I toasted the Almonds and Sauteed the Mushrooms in Butter with Onion and Garlic and Thyme. I pureed it all together and refrigerated it to let the flavors meld. It was so delicious! I love snacks and spreads and this one is definitely elegant enough for a party. I might even make it again and bring it to our Friendsgiving next week!

Mushroom Pate with Almonds

1 cup Slivered Almonds 
1 clove Garlic
1 large Shallot, cut into chunks
1 pound of Button and/or Cremini Mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme
3 Tablespoons Butter (or Oil if you want to make it Vegan)
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Place Garlic and Shallots in a food processor and chop. Add Mushrooms and pulse into chopped into small pieces.  Melt the butter in a large frying pan and then add the Mushroom mixture, Salt and Thyme. Cook until soft and almost all of the liquid has been cooked off.  Remove from heat.  

In the same frying pan, toast the Almonds until lightly browned. Put into the food processor and pulse until ground. Scrape downy the sides and add in the cooked Mushroom mixture. Puree until smooth. Scrape into a serving bowl, smooth down the sides and top with a few extra almonds. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Serve with crackers.

Five Element Analysis

Mushrooms are very Earthy so this is a primarily Earth Appetizer. The Onions and Shallots and Thyme bring in the Metal Element and the Crackers you serve it with will add either Wood, if using Wheat Crackers, or Metal, if using Rice Crackers. So serve this Mushroom Pate with some other appetizers that include the Water and Fire Elements.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Quinoa Salad with Italian Flavors

Awhile back, a family member visited who is Vegan so I made a delicious Quinoa Salad with Italian flavors. I've been meaning to post it ever since, but life has been more eventful lately than I wanted it to be. That's gotten me really behind in posting and I plan on catching up this week. 

For this salad, you cook the Quinoa in Vegetable Broth and then toss it with a combination of chopped Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Basil. I used Black Quinoa.  Then you dress it with a small amount of Vinaigrette made with Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil and Garlic. I put it in the refrigerator for several hours to let the flavors blend and then I topped it with Pine Nuts as a garnish. it was a big hit and I loved it! This is a great Quinoa salad that will be added to my list of salads to keep making.

Quinoa Salad with Italian Flavors

1 cup Quinoa

1 1/2 cups Vegetable Broth
1/3 cup Chopped Cherry Tomatoes
1/3 cup Chopped Persian Cucumbers
5 Basil Leaves, cut up into small pieces
3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon of Sugar
1/4 cup toasted Pine Nuts for garnish 

Bring the Vegetable Broth to a boil. Add in Quinoa, stir and cover reducing heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.  Remove cover and cool.

In a small bowl, mix together the Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, Salt and Sugar. Stir to combine. 

Place cooled Quinoa in a serving bowl and add in the Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Basil. Pour over the Vinaigrette and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready to serve, sprinkle with Pine Nuts.

Five Element Analysis

Quinoa is a seed and the black color and the Pine Nuts makes it even more of a Water Food.The Olive Oil and Vinegar contribute the Wood Element and the Tomatoes bring in the Fire Element. The Cucumbers bring in the Earth Element and the Vegetable Broth contains Carrots, Cabbage and Potatoes that adds even more and supplements the Fire Element too with more Tomatoes. The Basil leaves add just a hint of the Metal Element, which could use some support in the meal. I served Tofu, which made it a more balanced meal.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Quick Cock-A-Leekie Soup

Cock=A=Leekie is a Scottish Soup made of Leeks and Chicken (traditionally an old Rooster), Bacon and either Rice or Barley. I used Rice to keep it Gluten Free. And, instead of cooking a whole chicken, I made it quick by using Chicken Broth and cut up Chicken Breast. It is believed that the original recipe for this soup came from France and used Onions, but the Scots substituted the more available leeks.

Cock-A-Leekie is a soup with a lovely combination of flavors and is always served on St. Andrew's Day, which is November 30th.  I'm a little early for that celebration, but it's delicious any time.  And, since my son is living in St. Andrew's, it makes me think of him when I make it. There are two secret ingredients - one is a splash of white wine, which makes it a more sophisticated soup and the other is sliced rehydrated Prunes which adds a sweet note. With so many soups in the world, this one is relatively unknown and it's definitely one I love to make!

Quick Cock-A-Leekie Soup

1 large Leek (or 2 small), root end and darker green part cut off, quartered and sliced into thin strips
6 cups Chicken Broth (preferably homemade)
1 Tablespoon Butter
4 slices of Bacon, cut into small pieces
1 small Chicken Breast cut into small pieces (at least one cup diced)
1 ounce (2 Tablespoons) White Wine
1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme
1 Bay Leaf
1 Tablespoon minced Parsley
1/4 cup Long Grain Rice
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Black Pepper to taste
Optional:  4 Prunes, rehydrated in water, seed removed and slice thin.

Wash the Leek pieces in a colander and shake to dry.  In a soup pot, melt the Butter and add in the Bacon pieces.  Cook until the Bacon is no longer pink, but no crispy.  Add in the Leeks and cook, stirring until the Leeks soften. Add in the Wine and then the Chicken Broth and add in the Thyme and Bay Leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Then add in the cut up Chicken, the Parsley the Rice and the Prunes if using.Turn heat up and bring back to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cooking for an additional 15 minutes. Serve immediately. If making ahead, cook only for the first 15 minutes. Cool and refrigerate. When ready to use, reheat to boiling and then add in the Chicken, Rice, Parsley and Prunes..Sprinkle with Black Pepper to serve.

Five Element Analysis

Soup is part of the Water Element and the Bacon adds even more Water.  The Chicken and Chicken Broth contribute the Wood Element. The Fire Element is represented by the Wine the Prunes and the Black Pepper. The Leeks, Rice, Bay Leaf, Thyme and Parsley bring in the Metal Element.  Only the Earth Element is missing so be sure to serve dessert!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Lemony Collard Greens


Well I certainly meant to post sooner but iI was in Europe and I'm sorry to say that most of the hotels I was staying at had very poor internet service so I decided until I got home and recovered from jet lag. Before I left, I made a lovely Pork Tenderloin Roast and I was cleaning out my fridge before leaving, I cooked every vegetable that was in there. I had a bunch of Collard Greens that I was going to make into soup but I sautéed it instead and made it wonderfully tart with lemon. It was so delicious!  It's a great side to serve with a fatty meat, like Pork and it was my favorite side. Like most vegetables, you don't have to do much to make it delicious. A quick sauté with Red Onions, a pinch of salt and sugar, a small amount of Chicken Broth and a squeeze of a fresh Lemon. That's it and it is wonderful. I will be making this version of Collard Greens more often!

Lemony Collard Greens

1 bunch Collard Greens, washed
1/2 Red Onion, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1/3 cup Chicken Broth
Juice of 1 small Lemon
1/4 teaspoon Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Pull the leaf part of the Collard Greens off of the stems. Roll up each leaf and slice (Chiffonade) finely into ribbons. Cut in half lengthwise if they are too long to manage 

n a large frying pan, heat the Oil and add the Red Onions. Cook until they become soft.  Add in the Collard Greens and sauté until soft. Sprinkle with the Salt and Sugar and add in the Chicken Broth. Cook, stirring until the Chicken Broth is mostly absorbed and sprinkle on the Lemon Juice. Serve immediately.

Five Element Analysis

As a leafy green. Collards belong to the Wood Element and the Chicken Broth and Lemon Juice adds even more  The only other major ingredient is the Red Onions which contribute the Metal Element so this is a good dish to serve with Pork or Fish, which are Water Foods. The meal should also have some Earth and Fire foods to create a balanced meal.  

Monday, October 9, 2017

Milk Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

I’ve been meaning to post more recipes for several weeks now, but life just got incredibly busy. I now have a backlog of recipes to start posting and today I will begin with the sweetest!

When I was a child, I rarely ate cake since I have a Chinese Mother and she didn’t like sweets. I remember her trying to bake cakes with recipes from her neighborhood friends but she never used frosting because she thought it was way too sweet.  I grew up thinking that cake was supposed to be served without frosting and my friend’s birthday cakes were strange with all that frosting on top.  That kind of frosting from a can made my teeth hurt!  That was before I had frosting made from scratch.  Whipped Cream frosting is still my favorite but a homemade Buttercream Frosting is really good too. 

Last month, it was my friend Kelly’s birthday and it occurred on the day of a class. So I made cupcakes for us all. I knew that her Mom used to make Yellow Cake with Chocolate frosting. I also know that her favorite kind of chocolate is Milk Chocolate so I made cupcakes from Gluten Free mix for Yellow Cake and surprised her with Milk Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.  It was delicious. And to satisfy the Dark Chocolate lovers, I grated Dark Chocolate over the frosted Cupcakes. I like to lightly frost cupcakes so there was plenty left to spoon into a bowl for those frosting lovers who spread it on the bottom half of their cupcakes. This recipe was a winner with Kelly and me!

Milk Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

4 – 5 ounces high quality Milk Chocolate
2 sticks unsalted Butter (8 ounces) at room temperature
2 ½ cups Powdered Sugar
¼ cup heavy Whipping Cream
½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Optional:  2 ounces Dark Chocolate grated or Chocolate Sprinkles

Place a heatproof bowl over a small pan of boiling water. Add in the Chocolate and stir with a spatula until melted.  Remove and set aside.

In a stand mixer or a large bowl with a hand mixer, put in the softened Butter and Powdered Sugar. Mix until light and fluffy.  Then add in the melted Chocolate, Whipping Cream and Vanilla Extract.  Mix until thoroughly combined. Use immediately or refrigerate and bring back to room temperature to frost cupcakes.

Once frosted, use a microplane grater and grate the Dark Chocolate on top of the frosted cupcakes.

Five Element Analysis

This is a very sweet dessert topping so you know that it belongs to the Earth Element and the Powdered Sugar and Milk Chocolate are the Earthy ingredients although the Chocolate also contributes some Fire.  The Butter, Whipped Cream and Vanilla Extract all belong to the Metal Element.  The Gluten Free Cake mix is primarily made of Rice Flour, which is also Metallic.  So be sure to serve these cupcakes after a meal that is composed of some Water and Wood foods and some Fire foods too.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Riced Cauliflower Pilaf

I hesitate to call this dish Cauliflower Rice because I don't think it tastes anything like Rice, but it is a very delicious way to cook chopped up Cauliflower that looks like Rice.  And, since ricing is considered a process of making things into small pieces about the size of rice, Riced Cauliflower just seems like a more authentic name. In any case, I was at Trader Joe's this week and I saw a bag of Riced Cauliflower and had to buy it. I considered making a salad out of it (previous post) but I wanted to make a side dish for a roast, so I cooked it Pilaf style, which means that I sautéed it in butter along with Green Onion and shredded Carrots. Then I steamed it very quickly with some Chicken Broth. It cooked so fast that I was astonished - a total of 5 minutes of steaming and it was done! It was wonderful and also beautiful. I have to admit I like the convenience of buying the Cauliflower already cut up, but if you do it yourself, start with one big Cauliflower and chop it up by hand or in a food processor. It's a very tasty way of serving Cauliflower!

Riced Cauliflower

1 16oz bag of Riced Cauliflower - or about 4 cups chopped florets
4 Green Onions, chopped into small pieces
1 small Carrot, shredded
3 Tablespoons of Butter or Ghee
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
scant 1/2 teaspoon Salt if desired (I used low salt Chicken Broth so needed more)

Melt the Butter in a large frying pan (with a lid) on medium high.  Add in the Green Onions, Carrots and Cauliflower and stir until you can smell the Green Onion fragrance. Then add in the Chicken Broth and Salt. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes or until the Cauliflower is barely soft.

Five Element Analysis

Cauliflower is one of the few Metal Vegetables and the Green Onions and Butter add even more so this is a very Metallic dish. The Chicken Broth brings in the Wood Element and the Carrot contributes some Earth. So this would be good side to a meal that has Fire foods (like a salad) and perhaps a Water Element main like Fish to create a balanced Five Element meal.