This week ends with a big holiday weekend. We love holidays even if summer is way ahead in Florida. That being said, we are in the heart of corn season and loving it. Much of this week will revolve around yummy corn.
Also, we'll be spending time with my grandmother. And some of my meals will have to be significantly softer for her to munch on. I enjoyed reading through a few cookbooks on Friday looking for inspiration. I hope my list won't disappoint any of us.
In my research and from the recipes I've tried, I've come to the conclusion that graham crackers seem to have a wide definition. I really don't see why you can't call these graham crackers. But if it bothers you, just call it honey-sesame crackers.
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. I recommend using a mixer or food processor to evenly distribute the honey and oil. Then, gradually add water and mix or hand kneed until dough forms a ball.
On lightly floured parchment paper or on a Roul-pat (or between two Silpats), roll the dough out. Mine became roughly 9 x 13 in size. Cut into shapes. Place on lined baking sheet close together, but not touching. Bake at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes per tray. (The original recipe says to do 15-20 and rotate the trays throughout the processes. It's easier on me as I chase Nora to just do one tray at a time.)
Ever since my nutrition class (that happened longer ago than I care to think about) told me how important sesame seeds were to the vegetarian diet because they are high in iron, I've liked them. Not that I didn't love sesame hamburger buns before. But I really had interest in them after that. Which is why this very recent recipe from the New York Times food blog got my attention.
I have to say it's very advised to find a hotel when you travel that includes breakfast, especially in foreign countries that don't often concentrate on breakfast as a meal. My parents skipped the hotel breakfast one day to go out with some friends. It cost €24 (about $36) for four Danish and two coffees.
Last week, we returned from a wonderful family vacation with not just one set, but both sets of Nora's grandparents, plus some friends and a second cousin. While I won't bore you with the details of a diary like I did in Paris, I would like to blog a good deal on the foods. Because Italy can be very inspirational! In fact, I'm even thinking of tweaking my garden in the very near future thanks to my observations of the Italian ways.
Well, I've sure missed menu planning. Starting tomorrow, I'll tell you where we've been vacationing. Meanwhile, has your area enjoyed a great bounty of fabulously fresh produce like ours? It's on sale, and it tastes great! Nora has, with little help from us, eaten two cantaloupes in two days. Somewhat in her defense, they had larger centers than I expected. But they still tasted really good, and she still ate them. In addition, we have some great harvesting from our garden that keeps us happy.
Disclaimer: The bread in the photos has rye and flax seed in it. It makes two smaller loaves instead of the one big loaf discussed below. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the big basic loaf. And since I have no idea what my mother-in-law paid for the rye and flax seed, I'm waiting until I go to the store again to calculate that total.So, the story goes that we bought my mother a Cuisinart bread machine for Christmas a number of years back. She never used it. She couldn't get it to work like her old Dak, which they don't make any more.
Wheat Bread Recipe
This recipe has been passed down and around. Unfortunately, I don't know the original source. Please feel free to tell me if you know.
Put ingredients in bread machine in order. Put salt in one corner and yeast in opposite corner. Turn machine on mix only setting (My machine goes through the first rise.) or on full bake, but I've learned with this recipe the crust gets too hard in the machine. When first rise is finished, remove dough onto floured surface. Need dough for about 30 seconds. Roll into oval shape with ends under the loaf and pinched together. Place dough in pan. Cover and keep in warm place for 45 minutes-1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 about 20-30 minutes before rising is completed to ensure it is the correct temperature. Bake 35-40 minutes. Bread should be a nice brown color and should give a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom of the loaf. Remove to cooling rack, cooling loaf on its side.
You can see a picture of the adorable rabbit-cut crackers I made. They were so cute, but they took so long. I figured I would save such energies until Nora really cares about the shape of her food. Meanwhile, I'll just make cheese sticks. And I've updated the recipe slightly, which has made a huge difference to me. Feel free to say otherwise.My big move was to add 1/2 a teaspoon paprika for nice color.
Adjusted Dilled Havarti Cracker Recipe
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons and 2 teaspoonsunsalted butter
6 oz. (3/4 block from Aldi or 1 1/2 cups coursly grated) Havarti cheese, grated
1 Tablespoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon herbed salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
I learned the last time that I don't have to pre-shred the cheese. I just throw it in the processor with the butter. Just cut them into a few cubes. Because I just have a mini food processor, I don't wait for the dough to form a ball, I just get two halves of the batch well mixed and then mold them together myself. I've learned that they cook far better when spread apart instead of in a full sheet like I originally made them.
Um, yeah, minor problem here. Can't exactly remember the recipe for the curried cauliflower. I kinda threw it together in a hurry and on my own cause I didn't like what my cookbooks said. What I remember was my complete shock when of all the meals my dad ate with us while my mom was out of town, this was the only one he deemed "good". . .or at least the only one he commented on. And when given the choice of leftovers for lunch, he chose this one.
Recipe for Curried Cauliflower with Quinoa
1 large tomato, diced
3 tablespoons cilantro, more or less to taste
1 cup uncooked quinoa
3/4 head cauliflower
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/4 cup onion, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 salt (more at table)
Raisins to taste (and if you're Paul, that's a lot!)
Cook Quinoa according to package directions. (Better yet, cook enough for the entire week at one time and just pull some out of the fridge for this recipe.)
In a large pan with a lid, saute onions in a touch of olive oil on medium heat until they become translucent. Add the cauliflower and stir. Season with salt and curry powder, add water and cover to steam the cauliflower so it softens a bit, about 5-7 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep vegetables from sticking. Add quinoa to rewarm if necessary; stir. Serve topped with fresh tomatoes, cilantro, and/or raisins--especially golden ones!
I love the potato quinoa pancake recipe from Vegetarian Ireland. And I wondered if I couldn't add lots more food value to them and make them great toddler finger food if I added some spinach that I stocked up on when it was on sale at Aldi. So I did.
Spinach Potato Quinoa Pancakes
1 cup onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups mashed potatoes
4 cups tight-packed spinach (Cut the pile in half if it's not baby spinach.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup cottage cheese (optional)
2 cups quinoa
2 eggs, beaten
Saute onions in a touch of olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and other seasonings, Add spinach and cook down. Stir in potatoes and quinoa, lastly cottage cheese and eggs.
Heat a griddle to 350 degrees. Use two soup spoons or whatever devices you prefer to spoon mixture onto griddle and shape into patties. Mine were about two inches in diameter.
I'm sorry to say I read another vegetarian blogger's negative Twitter comment about Extreme Couponing. And it made me think it was time I share my views, especially as a health-conscious newly-on-one-income family that's learning to feed a third stomach. I'd also like to point out that I have not actually seen the TV show because we don't have a TV. (That's a whole story all its own.) But I assure you I've heard many stories from people that do watch it.
Simple and quick, I loved this mint pesto recipe from The Thin Chef. I can imagine a few ways to use it. Even the original concept, on pizza, sounds quite yummy and unusual. But the busy day I served this, a good coat of pesto on orzo-shaped pasta made the most sense. Nora was just learning to grasp slippery pasta. Next time, I'd love to try this on whole wheat pasta because it isn't as delicate as a tomato sauce. It can handle the extra grain of the heavy pasta.
1 box Duncan Hines Devil's Food Cake Mix with necessary ingredients to bake
1 cup Kraft Cooking Cream, Original Flavor
2 cups Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Flavoring
Bake the cake according to package directions for two 8 or 9 inch round pans. Meanwhile, with mixer on lowest setting, blend together cooking cream and powdered sugar, adding sugar slowly. Add vanilla and mix completely. Keep glaze chilled until ready to assemble cake.
When cake is done and completely cooled, place bottom layer of cake on serving dish. Spread about 2 tablespoons of glaze gently over the top as the glue for the second layer of cake. Place the top layer over the glaze. Gently spread glaze over top of layer of cake. Keep cool in fridge until serving. Garnish just before serving.
1/8 cup red onions, diced just large enough to appreciate the color
1.5 teaspoons cumin
.5 1 teaspoon herbed salt
3 T Olive Oil
1 T lemon juice
Parsley or cilantro garnish
Slice carrots equal size and put in microwave safe bowl. Add the cube of frozen celery instead of additional water. Microwave on high 4-5 minutes until carrots are easily pierced with a fork. Remove bowl from microwave, add half the cumin and all the garlic. Stir. In serving bowl, put quinoa, add carrots scraping liquid and flavors out, too. Add olives, onions, and peppers. Stir. Drizzle olive oil, lemon, and sprinkled and remaining cumin salt over top. Stir. Serve room temp to warm. Garnish if desired.
Put beans, carrots, and garlic in a food processor and chop. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Grease a jelly roll or similar pan. Form falafel into half-dollar-sized patties and place on pan. Brush olive oil on top of falafel. Bake at 425 degrees 10-14 minutes, turning once. (I generally do 7 minutes on each side, but the original recipe says 10 minutes.)
Serve on pitas with vegetables and a yogurt dip of your choice.
I spent almost all of yesterday getting a meal together for 20 at our church. While I enjoy the opportunity, I often feel guilty because it requires lots of work. Still, it's a mission, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it. Thanks to my darling father for spending his day off running around with Nora and to my mother who came straight from the plane to make dinner for them both.
1 box pasta (Cookbook recommends Gemelli, but that isn't readily available here.)
1 bag green beans (divided)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 garlic clove
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil pasta according to directions. Meanwhile, microwave green beans in a covered glass dish until almost cooked. Puree 2/3 of green beans in blender with remaining ingredients. Pour sauce into a large pan with almost al dente pasta and remaining green beans. Add pasta water for additional thinning of the sauce. Cook together until al dente.
I'm really excited about our plan to try at least one new thing a month. I think we're even a little ahead of the game. And it's good for the spirit to be a little ahead. And it gives me a cushion in case I lose track of time or something. Below are the new foods we have tried so far this year. Please feel free to make recommendations. And remember, the goal is to buy and cook something I haven't eaten or might have eaten out in order to broaden our horizons.
Two weeks ago, we were away for a conference for Paul's work and visiting old (meaning known since high school) friends. Last week, I didn't get around to a meal plan. It was a rough week. I literally had no idea until the end of the day what I might prepare for dinner. Poor choice. Please learn from my mistakes. Make a menu plan.
Fancy dishwashers have child locks to keep them from pushing buttons. The dishwasher's buttons, not yours. New dishwashers have easy ways for locking the buttons. Naturally, I don't want Nora to think she can push them any time. But it's always a safety. Incidentally, for a Whirlpool, hold down "Heated Dry" until the light to the right illuminates.
Run your hot water one minute before turning on dishwasher. While your dishwasher can heat water hotter than your hot water heater, it takes forever to do so and can be less efficient. If you're pre-rinsing, rinse everything under hot water about a minute before you turn the dishwasher on. My new strategy is to wash whatever I'm going to wash by hand 1 minute before I turn the dishwasher on.
We--Paul and I--have been on a mission. We'd like to serve Nora crackers with a little less additives and that are a little healthier. Some people might call that "processed" but I hasten to clarify. After all, if I'm using a food processor, it seems like the recipe is rather processed. My goal is to have fewer ingredients, adding more whole wheat flour when possible. And hopefully creating a cheaper product while I'm at it.
Recipe for Dilled Havarti Whole Wheat Crackers
Based on Smitten Kitchen's Cheddar Cracker recipe.
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
6 oz. (3/4 block from Aldi or 1 1/2 cups coursly grated) Havarti cheese, grated
1-2 Tablespoons fresh dill
1/8 teaspoon herbed salt
Combine ingredients in a food processor. Run until a ball of dough forms. (The original recipe says 2 minutes. Mine was faster than that in two smaller batches.) If dough feels too soft or difficult to handle, wrap in parchment and freeze about 10 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut cracker shapes as desired. Bake about 1/2 inches apart on cookie sheet, preferably lined, at 350 for 12-17 minutes. You want the crackers to be slightly browned on the edges.