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.