Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Best Banana Muffins

I have a grandson who loves Bananas in almost every form and his favorite way to eat them is as Banana Muffins. So, I've been making these often are his favorite Muffins. They are light and fluffy and full of delicious Banana flavor and they are Gluten Free too! I adapted a recipe from Dorie Greenspan for Banana Cake and substituted Gluten Free flour and Yogurt for the Sour Cream although you can certainly revert back to the original recipe if you like. I mix it all up in the Cuisinart so that the Banana is thoroughly incorporated but if you like Banana Chunks, mix it by hand. I also cut down the quantity so it makes an even dozen delicious Banana Muffins!

Best Banana Muffins 
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

1 ½ cups Cup4Cup flour (or other Gluten Free Flour Blend with Xanthan Gum)
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 stick unsalted Butter (4 ounces), softened
1 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Egg
2 ripe Bananas mashed
1/2 cup plain Yogurt

Heat oven to 350 degrees and fill a Muffin pan with paper liners.

Cream together the Butter and Sugar and then add in the Yogurt, Vanilla Extract, Egg and Bananas. Mix to combine thoroughly. Then add in the Gluten Free Flour, Baking Soda and Salt.  Mix thoroughly. 

Fill the Muffin tins evenly with the batter and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes or until the top of the Muffins spring back lightly and the Muffins are golden brown. 

Five Element Analysis

Bananas like all tropical fruit, belongs to the Earth Element and as this is a sweet treat made with Sugar, it is definitely mostly an Earth food. However, the Yogurt, which is sour contributes the Wood Element and the Butter adds the Metal Element. The Cup4Cup flour adds more Metal since it is mostly Rice Flours and the Vanilla Extract adds even more. Serve this with a cup of Tea or Coffee to bring in the Fire Element and make sure to add something from the Water Element too, we ate these for breakfast with Pork Sausages to create some balance

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Red Cabbage Slaw

I love serving some kind of Salad along with grilled Meats, but I shy away from ones that are too sweet or too sour. I had a small head of Red Cabbage in my refrigerator that needed to be used and I decided to experiment. What I came up with with is a Red Cabbage Slaw seasoned with Coconut Vinegar and Coconut Aminos. Coconut Vinegar is a bit less sour than many vinegars I use and Coconut Aminos are a substitute for Soy Sauce or Tamari.  The Slaw was so good!  I liked it even better the next day when the Cabbage softens. The flavor was complex and delicious. I will be making this all the time now!

Red Cabbage Slaw

1 small head Red Cabbage or 1/2 large
3 Green Onions, trimmed
1 large or 2 small Carrots, peeled and trimmed
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
2 Tablespoons Coconut Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Coconut Aminos
1 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Chinese Hot Mustard or Dijon
pinch of White Pepper

Cut off the core of the Cabbage and slice very thin. Then cut into about 2 inch lengths. Cut the Green Onions into thin shreds and then cut into about 2 inch lengths. Cut the Carrot into about 2 inch pieces and then slice and cut into julienned pieces. Place all the vegetables into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with Salt and let sit for 15 minutes.  

Squeeze out all the moisture from the vegetables with your hands (you can do this in a colander if you want) and put into a salad bowl.  

In a small bowl, mix together the Coconut Vinegar, Coconut Aminos, Sugar, Mustard and White Pepper. Stir to combine and pour over the vegetables. Toss to coat. Put into the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Five Element Analysis

Red Cabbage because of its color belongs partially to the Fire Element and partially to the Earth Element. The White Pepper adds a tiny bit more Fire and the Carrot adds even more Earth. The Coconut Vinegar, since it is sour contributes the Wood Element and the Coconut Aminos, since it is salty belongs to the Water Element. The Green Onions and Mustard contribute the Metal Element. Who would have guessed that this little Slaw would be balanced?

Monday, July 8, 2019


One of the things I miss in LA is my favorite Mexican Restaurant. I vary between ordering Carne Asada and Sopes. I don't have a go-to place here in Seattle that's close, so last night I decided to make my own Sopes. They really aren't hard to make and since I now own a little deep fryer and  they take only minutes to cook. What was more time consuming was to make a topping, but I had already made some Rope Viejas made (previous post) and I always have Rrefried Beans so it came together quickly. 

Sopes are fried Masa rounds, much like Tortillas but they are thicker and have pinched edges that hold in the toppings. I thought they were really fun to make. I got a hint from one of my Mexican friends about adding little Baking Powder to make them puff just a bit and they were delicious!  Now I'm thinking about all the other toppings that I can make to put on top like Green Chili Chicken, Carnitas and Chicken Tinga (all previous posts). Sopes are crisp, but still tender inside and I love them. I will be making them a lot now!


3 cups Masa Harina
2 - 2 1/4 cups Warm Water
1 Tablespoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
Vegetable Oil for Deep Frying

Put Masa Harina into a mixing bowl with the Salt and Baking Powder and stir to combine. Add in 2 cups of Water and stir to moisten the Masa and try to form a ball. Add additional water 1 Tablespoon at a time until the dough has reached the consistency of Playdough. Form the Masa into 2 inch balls. Then place wax paper or parchment on the counter and taking one ball of Masa at a time, flatten the ball with your palm and then push out with your fingers until you have about a 4 inch circle. Then push back the edges to form a rim and pinch to make the rim a little higher. Repeat with each Masa ball. Cover with damp paper towels to keep moist while you are cooking them.

Heat the Oil to 375 degrees. Drop in 1 Sope and cook about 1-1/2 minutes and then use a spider and turn over for an additional 1-1/2 minutes or until the Sope is golden brown. Remove and place on a paper-towel covered plate and repeat until all the Sopes are cooked. 

For traditional toppings, spread with a thin layer of Refried Beans and then add the topping of your choice - Meat, Cheese, Salsa, etc.

Five Element Analysis

Sopes are made of Corn so that automatically makes them an Earth Food, so the Elemental balance will depend on what toppings you choose. Refried Beans contribute the Water Element. I used Ropa Vieja, which is Beef - more Earth with Red Pepper - which is Fire and Onions, which is Metal.  Only the Wood Element is missing so a green vegetable would create a balanced meal. and a Tomatilla Salsa would be good choice.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Beet Chips

I am adding more Beets to my diet on the advice of a nutritionist I am working with, so I have been seeking different ways to prepare them. Since I always like Chips of any kind, you just know that I had to make them that way. Besides that, buying Beet Chips at the health food store is expensive and it costs very little to make them at home. They are easy to make and I think they taste better too! The trick to making Beet Chips is to cook them very slowly so that they crisp but don't burn. While they do shrink down a great deal, you still get a decent size bowl of them using 4 - 5 small Beets. I loved them and luckily I recently bought myself a mandolin that makes slicing a breeze. If you like Beets, you will love this recipe!

Beet Chips

5 small Beets, trimmed and peeled
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Slice the Beets with a Mandoline into thin slices. Place in a bowl and add the Vegetable Oil and Salt.  Leave the Beet Slices in the bowl until you are ready to cook them

Put a wire rack inside a Sheet Pan. Take the Beets and place them on the wire rack spacing them apart as much as you can - it's okay if they are touching or overlapping a little.  Place in the oven and bake for 45 - 50 minutes. Take out and let cool and then enjoy!

Five Element Analysis

Beets belong to the Earth Element with a little bit of Fire thrown in due to their vibrant red color. The Olive Oil brings in the Wood Element and of course Salt (although there isn't very much) belongs to the Water Element. While you would never expect a snack like this to be balanced, it can help balance out the rest of the food you eat in a day. This snack primarily adds more Earth. 

Friday, July 5, 2019

Deconstructed Chicken in Lettuce Wrap Salad

I'm so behind on posting as I have been finishing up the Cookbook - it's gone to layout and now we have to start taking photos. I'm hoping for a fall release date so I will keep you posted. I'm really excited to see it taking shape - my son Stephen and I have been working on it for 3 years!

In the meantime, I have been cooking, as I do most days, but I pretty much cook my old standards, most of which are posted here on this blog. So, I decided to give you a preview of one of the recipes in the cookbook that we have been working on.  

I was testing Chicken in Lettuce Wraps, but the Iceberg Lettuce I bought had leaves that were so tightly bound that it wouldn't let me get big enough pieces to make into wraps so I got fed up and chopped it up instead. Deconstructed Chicken in Lettuce Wrap Salad was born. It was so incredibly good that I may never try to make Chicken in Lettuce Wraps again the old fashioned way except maybe for a party and then I would use cute little Butter Lettuce leaves as they are so much better behaved!  

This Salad is very easy to make and can be made quickly.  The only downside is that you do have to eat it right away because it is a warm salad. If you feel like taking the time to make them, fried Bean Thread Noodles would make this even better.  Hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Deconstructed Chicken in Lettuce Wrap Salad

1/2 pound ground Chicken
1 Tablespoon Rice Wine
1 Tablespoons Tamari 
3 Dried Shitake Mushrooms, rehydrated in boiling water, stems trimmed and chopped into small pieces
½ cup chopped Water Chestnuts (from a can)
2 Tablespoons Oil
1/2 teaspoon peeled and grated Ginger
2 Green Onions, minced – white and green parts separated
3 Tablespoons Chicken Broth mixed with 1/2 Tablespoon Tamari
¼ teaspoon Sesame Oil
1 scant teaspoon of Cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons of Water
½ head of Iceberg Lettuce, core removed
Optional: 1/3 cup Pine Nuts for garnish
1/4 cup Gluten Free Hoisin Sauce mixed with enough Hot Water to make it pourable

Marinate the Chicken with the Rice Wine and Tamari for at least 15 minutes.

In a large frying pan or wok, heat the Oil and add in the Ginger and the white part of the Green Onions. Cook until you smell the fragrance. Then add in the Chicken, Mushrooms and Water Chestnuts and cook until the Chicken is opaque. Add in the Chicken Broth mixture and the remaining Green Onion pieces. Then add in the Cornstarch mixture and stir until thickened. 

Chop ½ head of Iceberg Lettuce and place in a bowl. Top the Lettuce with the Chicken Mixture and drizzle the thinned Hoisin Sauce over it. Then sprinkle with Pine Nuts. Toss before serving. 

Five Element Analysis

Chicken belongs to the Wood Element and Lettuce is part of the Fire Element and the Rice Wine adds just a bit more. The Water Element is represented by the Shitake Mushrooms, Tamari, Sesame Oil and Hoisin Sauce as well as the Pine Nuts.  The Green Onions make sure that the Metal Element is also present and the Ginger, which is partly Metallic adds a bit more, but also contributes the Earth Element. The Water Chestnuts are also a mixed Element food as they grow under Water, which brings in a bit of that Element, but have a brown exterior, which makes them also Earthy and the flavor is a bit sweet so it can be considered mostly Earth. The little bit of Cornstarch adds a tiny amount of more Earth. So, it looks like this Salad is a fairly balanced Five Element dish!