Monday, July 6, 2020

Miso Glazed Cauliflower

If I had to pick a favorite flavor, it would be a choice between Salty and Savory/Umami because I love them both. And some wonderful ingredients are both - like Miso. Besides making Miso into a delicious soup, I find it to be a wonderful glaze for roasted vegetables. I previously posted a recipe with Eggplant, but my son Stephen helped me create a more traditional Japanese style sauce. This sauce uses both Sake and Mirin, but if you only have Mirin, just reduce the amount of Sugar that you use. The little bit of Sugar is important though, as it what is needed for the sauce to caramelize a bit so don't leave it out. This is a very easy dish to make. All you have to do is roast the Cauliflower and while it is cooking, you whip up the sauce. Then for the last few minutes, you toss the Cauliflower in the sauce and put it back in the oven on the broiler setting until it is just beginning to char on the edges and even and the glaze is bubbly.  It's wonderful!

Miso Glazed Cauliflower

1 large head of Cauliflower
4 Tablespoons Miso Paste
2 Tablespoons Sake
2 Tablespoons Mirin (or double if not using Sake)
2 Tablespoons Sugar (use only 1 T if only using Mirin)
2 Tablespoons Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 425 degrees

Separate the Cauliflower into florets, cutting off the tough part of the stem. Rinse and drain. Place in a mixing bowl and toss with the Oil and sprinkle with Salt and Pepper. Pour onto a sheet pan and place the oven. Cook for 20 - 25 minutes or until the florets are just starting to turn brown.

In the meantime, put the Miso, Sake, Mirin and Sugar into a small pan. Stir and heat until the mixture just begins to bubble and the Sugar is melted. Take off the heat and cool.

Remove the Cauliflower from the oven. Turn the oven on to broil.  

Put the Cauliflower back into the mixing bowl and pour the glaze over. Toss lightly to coat. Put the Cauliflower back onto the sheet pan and put into the oven. Cook for about 3 minutes or more until the sauce is bubbly and the ends of the Cauliflower start to char. Serve hot or cold.

Five Element Analysis

Miso is a salty and savory condiment that belongs to both the Water and Metal Element. Cauliflower is one of the few Metal vegetables, so this is a mostly Metallic dish. However, the Fire Element shows up in the Sake and Mirin. And because the Mirin is also sweet along with the Sugar, it brings in the Earth Element too. Only the Wood Element is missing so be sure to serve this with another dish that incorporates Green Vegetables and whatever main dish you like to create a balanced meal!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Sunflower Seed and Brown Rice Veggie Burger

I've always had a fondness for Veggies Burgers (except when they contain Cheese) and I had one particular favorite - Sunshine Garden Burgers. I've been ordering them during the lockdown from my local Health Food Store, but in the last order, they were out. I thought maybe I could replicate them and I did!  I'm quite happy with the results so I may not be ordering them much anymore. I checked the website for the ingredients of their Veggie Burgers and I had the ingredients except for Chives, so I replaced them with Onions and I think I might even like them better. I made the Brown in a regular Rice Cooker which takes a long time, but you could also easily cook the Rice in an Instant Pot in about 20 minutes. If you use freshly cooked Rice, the extra Water may not be needed. But if you use Rice that has been stored in the refrigerator, you will probably need to use the extra Water since refrigerating Rice dries it up. Other than that, you just process it all in a food processor and it takes no time at all to come together.

I don't bother putting them in a bun as I like to eat them straight out of the oven or out of the pan and I don't even use any condiments  Both cooking methods work but the oven method makes them a bit drier and gives them a more even crispiness, while the pan fried method keeps the burger much softer with a harder, crisper crust. I did cook them both ways, just to test it out. And, personally prefer the oven method. I'm so happy with these Veggie Burgers!

Sunflower Seed and Brown Rice Veggie Burger

1 cup Raw Sunflower Seeds
1 cup cooked Brown Rice
3/4 cup of chopped Carrots
½ cup chopped Celery
½ cup chopped shallot or Onion (if using Chives use ¼ cup less)
1 teaspoon Salt or Seasoned Salt
1 – 2 Tablespoons Water if needed
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil divided
Optional:  1/4 cup minced Chives

Turn the oven to 375 degrees

Process the Sunflower Seeds into a meal in the food processor. Then add in the Brown Rice, the Carrots, Celery, Onion and Salt.  Pulse until the mixture is fairly smooth. Check the texture. It should be a bit soft but sticks together when you try to make a ball. If it is too dry, add in 1 Tablespoon of Water, stir and check again. Add the additional Tablespoon of Water if necessary.

Drizzle a baking sheet with 2 Tablespoon of Vegetable Oil. Using a 3 - 3 1/2 inch Ring mold, fill the ring mold to make 6 Veggie Burgers.  Brush the tops with the remaining Vegetable Oil and place in the oven.

Cook for 15 minutes and turn over. Cook for an additional 15 minutes. Serve with the condiments of your choice and in a bun if you want.

Or pan fry one or two at a time on medium high heat for about 5 - 6 minutes per side.

You can also freeze them, but place parchment on the baking sheet (don’t use the oil). When they are frozen solid, you can place them into freezer storage bags.  When you want to cook them, follow the directions above, but cook for another few 3 - 5 minutes.  

Five Element Analysis

White Rice belongs to the Metal Element, but Brown Rice adds in the Earth There is more Earth added from the Carrots. The Sunflower Seeds contribute the Water Element and the Onion brings in the Metal Element. The Celery makes sure that the Metal Element is also present. It’s a pretty balanced little Veggie Burger. Only Fire is missing, which can easily be added by serving this Veggie Burger with a side salad or a glass of Iced Tea.  

Friday, June 5, 2020

Rhubarb Compote

One of the things I look forward to in the Spring is Rhubarb. I hear it's quite easy to grow, but I've never tried. I just wait until it shows up a the grocery store and today I got some delivered. I got more than I needed - I ordered 4 stalks, thinking they would be small and they were very large. So, I cut them up and made them into a simple compote that has a number of ways it can be used. 

Remember never to eat Rhubarb leaves, so be sure to trim any of those off. Then just trim and cut the Rhubarb into chunks, add some Sugar and some Water and let it stew for about 10 - 15 minutes. If you like the Rhubarb in chunks, leave it as it is. Or, you can mash the Rhubarb to make it smoother. 

My German Grandmother once told me that for every pound of Rhubarb, you need 1 cup of Sugar. I have friends who like their Rhubarb very tart, but like my Grandmother, I like it sweet too. So you can play with the amount of Sugar to suit your own tastes. You can use this Compote in place of Lemon Curd to make Cookie Bars, you can layer the Rhubarb with Whipped Cream in pretty glasses, or use it to make a Trifle. I like to mash up the Rhubarb a lot and eat it just like it is, kind of like a pudding. - warm or cold. It's so good, so easy and so delicious!

Rhubarb Compote 

1 pound of Rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1" chunks
3/4 - 1 cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Water

Place the Sugar and Water in a pot and add the Rhubarb. Turn the stove on to medium heat. Cook, stirring until the Sugar melts. Then turn down the Heat and cook for 10 minutes. If you like the Compote to be smooth, mash it with a Potato Masher. Spoon into individual serving bowls and refrigerate or pour into a container and refrigerate to use later. 

Optional: Whipped Cream for serving

Five Element Analysis

Rhubarb is technically a vegetable, as it is the stalks of a big bush. It has a very tart flavor, which makes it part of the Wood Element, but the bright red color brings in some Fire too.  The Sugar adds in a lot of the Earth Element too. So, it's a good dessert to serve with Whipped Cream, which adds the Metal Element. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Simple Roasted Potatoes and Onions

Potatoes and Onions are one of those classic food combinations that I love. Of course, I put them together often in many dishes - stews, soups, hash, etc.  But one of the ways I like to make them most is to roast them. The problem with roasting them together is that Potatoes take a lot longer to cook and by the time they are done, the Onions are usually burnt. This recipe solves that problem. Just roast them on separate sheet pans, remove the Onions when they are nearly done and then add them back when the Potatoes are done and crips them up together under the broiler for the last few minutes. The Roasted Onions will flavor the Potatoes wonderfully with only the hint of char on a few pieces of Onion from broiling them to finish them off. This is the perfect side dish and it's so easy to make and is incredibly delicious too! 

Simple Roasted Potatoes and Onions

4 large Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 large Yellow Onion, trimmed, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil, separated
1/2 teaspoon, divided

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. 

Heat a pot of Water and add in the Potatoes when it is boiling. Cook for 10 minutes. Drain and place the Potato chunks onto a large sheet pan. Drizzle with 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil, sprinkle with most of the Salt, toss lightly and place in the oven. 

Place the Onion chunks on a smaller sheet pan and drizzle with the remaining Olive Oil and Salt. Please in the oven.

Cook the Onions until they are browned (but not charred), about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Continue to cook the Potatoes until they are browned and crisp. Then take them out, add in the Onions and toss together. 

Heat the oven to broil, put the Potatoes and Onions and cook for another 2 - 3 minutes or until late Potatoes get a bit more browned, but be careful not to burn the Onions. Serve immediately.

Five Element Analysis

Potatoes belong to the Earth Element and the browned, slightly caramelized Onions add in even more. The Onions also represent the Metal Element and the Olive Oil contributes the Metal Element. While this is not balanced by itself, it makes a really good side dish for a meal that contains both Fire and Water foods.  

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Butter Braised Kohlrabi

I got another surprise ingredient in my order the other day and it was great big purple Kohlrabi. I'm used to the small green bulbs of Kohlrabi that taste very much like Broccoli stalks. But these big purple ones tasted much more like Turnips to me. So, I braised it in Butter as a side dish and it was delicious! It was so big that it was enough for 2 people as we had another side too. 

The Kohlrabi was pretty easy to peel with a vegetable peeler, except for the ends and I had to pull out the paring knife. I cut the Kohlrabi into little chunks and sautéed them in Butter and then finished it with just a bit of Vegetable Broth, although you could use Chicken Broth instead. Next time I might add in some Garlic. The Kohlrabi was delicious! 

Butter Braised Kohlrabi

1 large or 2 smaller Kohlrabi
2 Tablespoons Butter
1/3 cup Vegetable or Chicken Broth
a pinch of fresh ground Pepper
Optional:  1 large Garlic Clove minced

Cut the stem ends off of the Kohlrabi and then peel with a vegetable peeler and/or a paring knife. Cut the Kohlrabi into small chunks.

Heat the Butter in a frying pan over medium high heat and add in the Kohlrabi pieces. Sauté for about 4 minutes or until they are just beginning to turn a very pale golden color. Add in the Broth and cook until the Broth disappears. Sprinkle with Pepper to serve.

Five Element Analysis

I usually classify Kohlrabi as a Wood Vegetable, but this one being Purple also brings in just a bit of the Water Element. The Vegetable Broth (I used Swanson's) brings in more of the Wood from the Celery and some Earth from the Carrots and Cabbage, and a bit of Fire from the Tomatoes/ Fire is also added from the Pepper in the recipe. The Metal Element is represented by the Onions in the Broth and the Garlic, if you use it. This is still mostly a Wood side dish but it has a bit more of other elements than I expected.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Easy 3 Ingredient GF Peanut Butter Cookies

You have no doubt seen this recipe if you've ever searched for Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies online. It comes from the manufacturers of JiF Peanut Butter and it's amazingly simple. It uses just three ingredients - Peanut Butter, an Egg and some Sugar. They come out soft, chewy and delicious. But, I thought the recipe called for too much Sugar - 1 cup. So, I have been making them for a long time with half as much Sugar. They still turn out great and I think they taste better. I'm posting this recipe because I was talking to a friend that also cooks them this way and she thought more people should know about this version. Now, I actually do use Jia Peanut Butter because I like it - it's a childhood thing. I also like to use the Extra Crunchy one because I like little bits of crunch in my cookie. But of course you can use the creamy one instead and I'm pretty sure you can use a different brand of Peanut Butter. But if it's unsalted, you may want to add a pinch of Salt as that savory note is important to balance the taste. Anyway, when I'm in the mood for a quick cookie, this is what I make and they are wonderful!

Easy 3 Ingredient GF Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup Jif Peanut Butter (Extra Crunchy or Creamy)
1/2 cup Sugar
1 Egg

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet. In a mixing bowl, whip the Egg slightly and add in the Peanut Butter and Sugar. Mix thoroughly. Shape into walnut sized balls and place on a baking sheet. You will make about 10. 

Press down lightly on each cookie with moistened hands and then take a fork and draw a crisscross pattern across the top.  Place in the oven and bake for 12 - 15 minutes or until the cookies are very lightly golden brown. 

Five Element Analysis

Peanut Butter is a very Earthy food. Not only do Peanuts grow underground, they also become very pasty when made into Peanut Butter. The Sugar adds even more Earth.  The Egg contributes the Water Element and baking is a Fire way of cooking. So, this cookie is by no means a balanced treat, but it can definitely add some Earth to the end of a meal!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Deconstructed Polish Stuffed Cabbage (Soup)

In my shopping delivery today, I was given a Savoy Cabbage instead of the regular head of Green Cabbage, so I decided to make Polish Stuffed Cabbage. But then I looked at the time and I realized that it would take way too long to make it and bake it. Since I had all the ingredients - Cabbage of course along with Ground Beef, Onion, Garlic, Canned Tomatoes. Beef Broth and cooked Rice -  I turned it into a Soup that took only 20 minutes!  

I learned how to make Polish Stuffed Cabbage many years ago from my then husband's Grandmother and I always loved it. My friend Barbara often takes dishes and deconstructs them and that's what happened with this Soup. I have to tell you that it was delicious and with our sudden turn back to cold weather, it was just what I needed. I cooked the Rice separately (and it would also be even easier to use leftover Rice). as it would get really mushy if cooked in the Soup. And it would also need a lot more broth. Since I'm not cooking for so many people any more, I made a relatively small amount but this recipe can easily be doubled. If you are a fun of Stuffed Cabbage, you will love this soup too!

Deconstructed Polish Stuffed Cabbage (Soup)

1/2 pound of Ground Beef
1 Tablespoon Oil
1 small Yellow Onion or 1/2 of a large Onion
1 large or 2 small Garlic Cloves
1/2 head Savoy Cabbage, core removed and chopped (about 2 cups)
1 can (14.5 oz) Diced Tomatoes
6 cups Beef Broth
1 Bay Leaf
1 teaspoons Salt (if needed)
fresh ground Pepper to taste

To Serve: add cooked Rice, about 1/3 - 1/2 cup per bowl

In a medium pot, heat the Oil over medium heat and cook the Onion and Garlic until you can smell the fragrance strongly. Add in the Ground Beef and use a spatula to break it into small pieces. Cook until it is no longer pink. Add in the Cabbage, Tomatoes, Beef Broth and Bay Leaves. Sprinkle with the Black Pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, taste and add Salt if needed. Cook for an additional 10 minutes and serve over cooked Rice.

Five Element Analysis

Cabbage belongs to the Earth Element as does Beef, so this is a mostly Earthy dish. The Tomatoes add the Fire Element, the Garlic, Onion and Rice bring in the Metal Element. As a soup, it naturally is part of the Water Element and the only thing missing is a Wood food but this is such a filling soup, you might want to eat a Wood dish , like some LGreens, at another meal.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Dressed Up Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

If you've ever had a Hawaiian Plate Lunch, you know that one of the accompaniments is Hawaiian Macaroni Salad. It's usually a simple salad added with Macaroni, of course, along with grated Carrot and Onion. That's about it. I know some recipes call for a bit of Vinegar and some Sugar added to the Mayonnaise, but then to me it tastes like Miracle Whip which I had way too much of in my childhood. Years ago, I had a Hawaiian friend at work and she made this all the time. She would bring it for lunch and often added Ham to it to make it a more complete meal. She was adamant that you should only use Best Foods Mayonnaise (Hellman's on the East Coast) and only a tiny bit of Sugar. So, that's the way I've been making it ever since. The only change I made to her recipe is the addition of some minced Green Onions for color and a little extra flavor. I also used a smaller Gluten Free Pasta - Le Veneziane Ditalini and I love how the size of the Pasta is the same as the minced Ham, Green Onions and Carrot - that's a Chinese thing. My son Stephen makes his Hawaiian Macaroni Salad with Japanese Kewpie Mayonnaise and that's delicious too and then you can leave out the Sugar. If you are serving this as a side dish, you can leave out the Ham and you can add in anything else you like. For example, Celery is a good addition as is Red Pepper. The recipe is for a small amount of Macaroni Salad, but you can easily double, triple or quadruple this recipe for crowd. This is a delicious Hawaiian Macaroni Salad any way you make it!

Dressed Up Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

1 cup small Pasta (Macaroni or Ditalini) 
½ large Carrot grated
1 Tablespoon grated Onion
1 Tablespoon Green Onion tops, minced
1/2 cup of Best Foods/Hellman’s or Kewpie Mayonnaise
½ teaspoon Sugar (don't use if using Kewpie)
small pinch fresh ground Black Pepper
Optional: ¼ cup minced Ham
Optional:  1/4 cup diced Celery or Red Pepper

Cook the Pasta in boiling, salted Water according to the package directions. Drain.

In a serving bowl, add in the Carrot, Onion, Green Onion and Ham, if using. Then add in the Mayonnaise, Sugar and Pepper along with the cooked Pasta. Stir to combine thoroughly and refrigerate until time to serve.

Five Element Analysis

It depends on what Pasta you use to make this Salad as that will determine the main ingredient. Wheat Pasta belongs to the Wood Element, while I used Corn Pasta, which is part of the Earth Element. The Carrot adds more Earth, while the Onion, Green Onion and Mayonnaise contributes the Metal Element. The Ham contributes the Water Element and there's just a hint of Fire with the Pepper. So, adding in some Celery (Wood) and Red Pepper (Fire) would make this Salad a bit more balanced, but it as a side salad, it adds some important Elements to a meal. 

Friday, May 8, 2020

Chicken Wings with Vietnamese Flavors

Like everyone else sheltering at home, I am getting food delivered from several of my favorite, local grocery stores. I let them substitute things if they can't find exactly what I've asked for and that has given me some unexpected products. Today, I got Chicken Wings instead of Chicken Thighs, but I'm not complaining because I really like them and I don't make them often enough. i decided to glaze them by making a rift on Vietnamese Caramel Sauce spiked with Lime Juice and they were absolutely delicious!

For those of you who don't know, Vietnamese Caramel Sauce is of course made with Sugar that is melted to a golden brown, but it also has Fish Sauce added to it. This ingredients smells pretty strong and a bit funky to if you are not used to it, but it tastes delicious. I use the Red Boat brand because it's a bit smoother and mellower. But all Fish Sauces are salty and deeply savory, so the Lime Juice gives that tart and tangy punch that makes the sauce taste so good. And I cooked Garlic and Shallot bits in the sauce too.

I cooked the Chicken Wings as I always do, broiled in the oven. Because I got a mix of the both the little meaty Drumettes and the bonier middle section of the Chicken Wings all cut up, I cooked them for slightly longer - 12 minutes on the first side and 10 minutes on the other. If you just have the middle section, you only need to cook them for about 9 - 10 minutes per side. Then you just toss them broiled Chicken Wings in the sauce and serve them with lots of Rice and a vegetablek and you have a perfect meal!

Chicken Wings with Vietnamese Flavors

2 pounds Chicken Wings
1/3 cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon Water
1/4 cup Fish Sauce
2 large Garlic Cloves, minced
1/3 - 1/2 cup minced Shallots
1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed Lime Juice

Heat the oven to broil. Place the Chicken Wings on a foil lined baking sheet with a wire rack on top. Place in the broiler and cook for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and using tongs, turn the Chicken Wings over. Return to the oven and cook for an additional 10 minutes. 

Put the Sugar and Water together in a high sided saute pan and stir to combine. Cook on medium heat until the Sugar turns syrupy and light golden brown. Add in the Fish Sauce, carefully and slowly and then the Garlic and Shallots. Stir to combine and continue to cook for 1-1/2 - 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the Black Pepper and Lime Juice and stir to blend. 

When the Chicken Wings are done, place in a bowl and drizzle the Caramel Sauce over them. Toss to coat and serve immediately.

Five Element Analysis

Chicken belongs to the Wood Element and the Lime Juice adds even more. Broiling is a Fire method of cooking and the Black Pepper brings in a tiny bit more. Sugar is always associated with the Earth Element and the Garlic and Onions contribute the Metal Element. The Water Element is found in the Fish Sauce. Who knew? This method of cooking Chicken Wings makes it a pretty balanced dish all by itself!

Monday, May 4, 2020


I'm trying to support my local restaurants by ordering takeout at least twice a week. Last night, I was really craving Mexican food, but our local restaurant is all closed up and our closest food trick moved away a while ago so I had to make some myself. I had an accumulation of leftover meat in the fridge - some Roast Chicken and Roast Pork. So, I decided to make Taquitos as I always have Corn Tortillas in my freezer. 

Taquitos are incredibly easy to make and I often forget to make them when I have leftovers in my fridge. I learned how to make them from a good friend who was from Mexico when I was pregnant, as I was craving Salsa all the time and needed more ways to eat it!  My favorite filling is leftover Pot Roast and I will sometimes use leftover Refried Beans or Mashed Potatoes in the Taquitos as well. Leftover Turkey from Thanksgiving is also great.

All you have to do is soften the Corn Tortillas either by, steaming them or cooking them for a very short time in the microwave with a damp paper towel on top. I use the microwave method and cook only about 3 - 4 at a time so they will stay soft. And, I only cook them for about 30 seconds. Then you put in a scant (not quite) 1/4 cup filling across the bottom one third and roll up tightly. The Corn Tortillas should be soft and pliable and easy to roll. Then you secure the Taquito with a toothpick (threaded like you are sewing) and pan fry them in a shallow amount of Oil until they are browned and crisp. Just remember to take out the toothpick before you bite into them. Serve them with lots of homemade Salsa (previous post) or bottled Salsa and Guacamole if you have it, and you will have made something wonderful!


3 cups filling of your choice - shredded cooked Chicken, Pork or Beef, Refried Beans or Mashed Potato
12 Corn Tortillas
3/4 cup Vegetable Oil (Safflower, Sunflower, Grapeseed or Avocado are all good)

Place 4 Corn Tortillas on a plate and cover with a wet paper towel that has been wrung out. Cook on High for 30 seconds. Repeat with remaining Tortillas as needed for rolling. 

Or, place all of the Tortillas on a heat proof plate in a steamer and steam for 5 minutes, turning over the stack and shuffling the Tortillas and then steam for an additional 5 minutes. Pull out 3 - 4 to roll at a time.

Place one Tortilla on a cutting board and put the Filling on the bottom one third of the Tortilla. Roll tightly around the filling away from you and then secure with a toothpick, threading the toothpick lengthwise to hold the Tortilla in place. Remove to a plate. Repeat with the remaining Tortillas and filling.

Heat 1/2 cup of the Oil in a 12 inch frying pan. When the Oil is shimmering, lower 6 Taquitos carefully into the Oil with tongs so that the Toothpick side is face down. Cook until the Tortilla is browned and crisp. Turn over and cook the other side until it is browned as well. Remove to a paper towel covered plate. Add in the remaining Oil and reheat. When the Oil is hot, put it the remaining Taquitos and cook turning once until they are all browned. Remove the Toothpicks and serve with lots of Salsa and Guacamole and if you want to make this dinner, add some Beans, Rice and Lettuce to the plate.

Five Element Analysis

Corn Tortillas belong to the Earth Element and frying is a Fire way of cooking. So those two Elements are covered. It depends on what kind of filling you use as that will determine the remaining Elements - Chicken is from the Wood Element, Beef and Potatoes are from the Earth Element, Pork is from the Water Element, as are Beans. Salsa made with Tomatoes and a Jalapeño Chili contributes the Fire Element, along with some Wood from the Lime Juice and some Metal from the Onion and Cilantro. Guacamole adds some Water and again more Wood from Lime Juice and Metal from the Onion. If you serve these Taquitos with Beans, Rice and some Lettuce, I think you pretty much have all of the Elements covered no matter what filling you use!

Friday, May 1, 2020

Chard Chips

This is a rift on the previous post about Collard Green Chips, but because Chard requires a different oven temperature and cooking time, I decided to make it a separate post. Most of those who know me know that I crave salty and crispy snacks. I also love green vegetables of all kinds, so making Chard into Chips is an obvious choice and it makes really good snack for me. Chard is a more delicate green than both Kale and Collard Greens and contains more moisture. so they take longer to cook. Interestingly, they need to cook at a higher temperature and for longer even though they are more delicate! Chard Chips are still made the same way; pulling the leaves off the stem, keeping them in big pieces. You can pickle the stems if you like, but I tend to chop them up and use them in stir-fries. You can use any number of seasonings, but I still tend to go for either just plain Salt or Salt with Garlic Powder along with the required Olive Oil. Chard Chips are crisp and delicate and light. It's easy to eat a whole bunch of Chard in one sitting all by yourself  The good news is that you know that your delicious snack is also very good for you!

Chard Chips

1 bunch of Chard, rinsed throughly and lightly shaken dry
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1/8 teaspoon Salt
Optional:  1/8 teaspoon of Garlic Powder

Heat oven to 275 degrees. 

Pull the leafy part of the Chard off of the stem and tear into large pieces.  Place a piece of Parchment Paper on a baking sheet. Put the Chard Leaves on the Parchment and sprinkle with the Olive Oil, Salt and Garlic Powder, if using. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and carefully turn over the Chard Leaves using tongs. Return to the oven and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Let cool and remove carefully to a bowl.

Five Element Analysis

Chard, like all Leafy Greens belongs to the Wood Element, but if you use Rainbow Chard, you gain a little Fire and Earth too. The Olive Oil contributes more of the Wood Element and the Garlic Powder contributes just a bit of Metal.  This is a good snack when you need more of the Wood Element in your diet.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Gluten Free Fresh Fruit Cake

I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but every once in a while I just want some Cake. My favorite Cakes almost always have some kind of fruit in them or at least a fruit jam layer. And today, I really wanted Cake!  I recently had some Strawberries delivered, so Strawberry Cake was the one I made. I've made this Cake with many fruits besides Strawberries - Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Nectarines and Peaches all work well. I thought I had already posted this recipe, but I checked and there was only a previous post for a Strawberry Orange Cake, but it's not the one I usually make - so here it is!  

It's a simple Cake made from the usual ingredients - Butter, Sugar, Egg, Vanilla, Milk, Baking Powder and a Gluten Free Flour Blend - I used Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1. Then place whatever fresh fruit you want to use on top. If you like your Cakes sweet, you can sprinkle more Sugar all over the top. About 40 - 45 minutes later, you have a delicious Cake that's not too sweet, so you can feel better about topping it with some Whipped Cream or Ice Cream if you want. I have to admit though, I like it just the way comes out of the oven and I eat it while it's still warm. Yum!

Gluten Free Fresh Fruit Cake

1 cup Gluten Free Flour Blend containing Xanthan Gum (or add 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
4 Tablespoons room temperature Butter
3/4 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Milk (I use Lactose Free)
1 Egg
12 Strawberries, trimmed and cut in half or about 1-1/2 cups fresh fruit
Optional:  1 Tablespoon of Sugar for sprinkling on top

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly oil a Springform Pan.

In a bowl, mix together the Gluten Free Flour, the Baking Powder and the Salt.

In another mixing bowl, cream together the Butter and Sugar until fluffy. Add in the Milk and Egg and stir to combine. Then add in the Flour Mixture and stir thoroughly. Pour into the Springform pan. Then place the Strawberries on the cake, cut side down. 

Bake  for 40 - 45 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown.

Five Element Analysis

A sweet dessert is always an Earth Element food. But, the Strawberries make it a Fiery food too. Other Fruits would bring in different elements. Raspberries are Fiery, whereas Nectarines and Peaches are Fire and Earth. Blueberries or Blackberries would be Water Fruits. The Rice Flour in the Gluten Free Flour Blend along with the Butter and Baking Powder contribute the Metal Element and the Tapioca Starch, Potato Starch and Sorghum Flour add more Earth. The Egg brings in the Water Element too. While you wouldn't expect a cake to be a balanced food, it contains more Elements that I thought it would!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Collard Green Chips

In my quest to make sure I eat enough vegetables during this Shelter at Home time period, I have found myself ordering a lot of greens from the grocery store, as I love them. However, I've ordered so much that I have had to think about ways to cook them so that they can be eaten a bit later. So, last night I took a big bunch of Collard Greens and made Chips!  Now a lot of you have probably made Kale Chips and these are very similar. But, Collard Greens have a slightly thicker texture, which makes them less likely to crumble.

They are quite easy to make and can be seasoned in so many ways. I kept it simple, using only Garlic Powder, Onion Powder and Salt, but other spices like Cumin, Chili Powder, Curry Powder, Cayenne Pepper and even Nutritional Yeast would all be good, but not together though. The only other things you need to make them is a bit of Olive Oil and a 275 degree oven. They cook in about 30 minutes and they keep well in a covered container. I think these Collar Green Chips are delicious and they didn't keep very long because I ate them up very quickly!

Collar Green Chips

1 bunch of Collard Greens, washed and shake dry
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Salt, divided
Seasonings of your choice: Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, ground Cumin, Chili Powder, Curry Powder, Cayenne Pepper and/or Nutritional Yeast.

Cover 2 baking pans with parchment paper.

Pull the Collard Greens off the stem and tear into large pieces. Put onto the baking pans. Drizzle each batch with 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil and 1/8 teaspoon of the Salt. Season with any other seasoning of your choice.

Place both trays in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn over each piece. Return to the oven (on different shelves) and cook for an additional 15 minutes or until the Chips are crisp but not burnt. Cool and eat or place in a covered container for later.

Five Element Analysis

Well since the main ingredient is a dark green leafy vegetable, you know that this snack is primarily a Wood food and the Olive Oil adds even more of the Wood Element. The spices bring in the Metal Element. So these Chips can help balance other meals of the day. 

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Maple Glazed Cashews

I was talking with my friend Liz this afternoon and she told me that she had just made some Maple Glazed Cashews that were so good that I just had to try them. So I made them and they were surprisingly good!  The recipe couldn't be simpler - there are just 3 ingredients - Cashews, Maple Syrup and Salt - that's it!  And they only cook for 10 minutes - what could be easier?

I'm not usually a fan of sweetened nuts, but these Cashews are so delicious cooked like this that I will be making this over and over again. The Cashews come out only lightly sweet and the Salt is the perfect counterpoint. I was so impressed that I had to share this recipe with you. This is a wonderful snack and these Maple Glazed Cashews would also be great on Yogurt or even in a salad. I think you'll be impressed too!

Maple Glazed Cashews

1 cup Raw Cashews
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
1/8 teaspoon Salt

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the Cashews in a bowl and drizzle with the Maple Syrup and Salt. Toss to mix. Put a piece of parchment on a baking sheet and pour the glazed Cashews onto it. Place in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Then, using a spoon, turn the Cashews over, scooping up some of the glaze to recoat the Cashews. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool before eating.

Five Element Analysis

Cashews, as a nut is part of the Water Element, but the texture and color also give it a bit of the Earth Element too. The Maple Syrup is a combination of Wood as it's made from tree sap and Earth, since it is boiled down to become very sweet. The Salt of course adds a bit more Water and I ate them with a cup of Tea, which added some Fire. 

Monday, April 6, 2020

Ajvar - Roasted Red Pepper Spread

I ordered a number of things from Costco and had them delivered. The only problem is that you get so much of everything. I had way too many Red Peppers so I decided to make a Red Pepper Spread called Ajvar. I often buy this in a jar and it frequently also has Eggplant in it too. Ajvar is a fairly mild condiment that's wonderful on Crackers. I usually serve it with Rice Crackers. It's quite simple to make and only requires the you roast the Peppers first and then puree them with Olive Oil, Garlic, Vinegar, Salt and a little bit of Red Pepper if you like heat. I think you will really enjoy Ajvar!

Ajvar - Roasted Red Pepper Spread

4 Red Peppers, cut in half, stem and seeds removed
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil for Cooking + 3 Tablespoons for Spread
2 larges Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar (I used White Balsamic)
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Optional: Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes - Aleppo or Cayenne
Optional: 2 Japanese Eggplants roasted with the Peppers, skin removed. 

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil over the Pan and place the Red Peppers, cut side down. Roast for 20 minutes. Then turn over and cook for about 10 minutes more or until the Red Peppers are blistered and blackened at the edges.  Remove from the oven and place in a bowl, covering with plastic wrap or foil for about 10 minutes. 

Using a small, serrated knife, peel off the skin of the Peppers and discard. Place the Roasted Peppers in a food processor or blender and add in the remaining Olive Oil, Garlic, White Vinegar, Red Pepper flakes and Eggplant (if using) and Salt. Puree until mostly smooth.  Pour into a bowl and serve with Crackers.

Five Element Analysis

Red Peppers belong to the Fire Element because of the color and also because they look like Hearts. The Red Pepper, if you use it adds even more Fire. The Olive Oil and Vinegar both contribute the Wood Element. The Garlic brings in the Metal Element and the Rice Crackers I served them with adds even more. The Water Element is present if you use the Eggplant and the Earth Element shows up if you use Almond Crackers (Simply Mills) like I did. Then this becomes a balanced snack. Otherwise, serve a Water and Earth food at a later meal.