When we go to potlucks, it's always a challenge. I want to make something that is shockingly good, especially when there are non-vegetarians present. And these days, it has to be easy finger food for toddlers. (And frankly, easy to prepare.) Plus, I like it to be good at room temperature. My parents happened to have been leaving town the weekend before the event to which I brought the falafel and had left us with lots of lettuce.
This reminds me of a lady having a spa day. Just hope she looks better than this when it's over with.
The curls are pinto beans with foil made of chips. Cucumber eye slices with dots of yogurt in the middle, and a warm neck pillow of mashed potatoes complete the relaxing environment. And luckily, after a hearty meal like this, Nora napped and I had an hour-long relaxing environment.
I made this for a lunch with friends last week, and since one of them called for the recipe yesterday, I thought I'd better make up the recipe and show the picture. The beauty of salads sometimes is that you can through anything into it and make it work. Moreover, it's very forgiving provided you have a great dressing. Also, I've loved having banana peppers on my patio because I can just cut the hot ones and add them to the salad instead of using crushed red pepper, which feels so "coarse" in what is mostly a soft and simple salad.
Recipe for Cucumber Couscous Salad
1 cup cooked whole wheat couscous
1 small-to-medium cucumber, thinly sliced (like on a mandolin)
2 banana peppers, sliced
1/4 cup sweet onion, diced (Green onions may work well, too.)
1 tomato diced
2 tablespoons dehydrated parsley
1 tablespoon fresh mint (or about 10 large leaves)
1/2 teaspoon herbed salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Drizzle olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder, optional
Combine ingredients in serving bowl. Stir carefully. Serve immediately or chill to marinate flavors
When I was working full time, we'd spend $5 a week at Costco for the Rosemary Olive Oil Bread. I'd have all kinds of sandwiches with it. Well, I don't have the slightest idea why I didn't figure it out before, but last week when Paul trimmed up the rosemary bush, I decided to try my hand at a rosemary bread recipe.
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.)
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!
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.
I'm late getting this posted today, but I think I have a very good reason. These are photos of Nora's birthday "cupcakes" a month ago. We chose to make homemade cupcakes instead of buying such things. Many people have allergies, and store bought ones can be so expensive and have such high sugar.
Just before New Year's Amazon.com had a great sale on some organic berry-flavored apple sauce. A couple of weeks ago, we got Plum Organics Peaches. While previously I was not interested in such convenience foods, even as a working mom, I've learned that Nora enjoys them because sucking solids is a new action for her mouth. The packaging intrigues her, and its shelf stable for when I'm on the go.
The black bean burger recipe from Parents Magazine was so fabulous, I figured the recommended switch to chickpeas or garbanzo beans would also be a success. After all, we love the falafel recipe from a previous issue of the magazine.
Recipe for Dilled Yogurt Dressing
2 (heaping) Tablespoons plain yogurt
3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/8 teaspoon herb salt
Whisk together ingredients. Pour over and have extra on the side of wraps and salads. I have been using an herb salt we acquired on one of our trips. I'm sure regular table salt would work just fine.
When I originally put this recipe on the menu, I thought I was crazy. This is a really busy week for our household, and I was unsure that I would have the time to make them. However, my parents ended up being at my house at 2 o'clock this afternoon (with none of us having had lunch), and I needed to get something prepared. I had nothing else in my head that worked for the four of us; so, I cracked open my September 2010 Parents Magazine and got started. I did the burger part while my mom dealt with the veggies.
Recipe for Black Bean Burgers
1 can black beans, drained
1 medium onion, quartered
1/2-3/4 cup oats (rolled, like "Old-Fashioned")
1 T chili powder
Salt, if necessary
Dash of Pepper, if desired
Combine all ingredients (starting with just 1/2 cup oats) in a food processor and pulse until chunky, but not pureed. (I did mine in batches as I have a mini one. If too wet, add more oats. If too dry, add water, broth, or my favorite--tomato juice!. Let rest about 20 minutes according to recipe. Think I only waited about 10. Mold into patties on a griddle set at 350. You can also do this on the stove. Grease the pan if necessary.
When you have foods, you naturally need to find a way to use them. I had an odd selection of items that led to the creation of this recipe. Luckily, my husband was rather impressed with it, and we both enjoyed it. A warning: It was very filling, and for a light Sunday afternoon snack, we were happy eating just half for each of us.
Recipe for Spinach Pesto Quesadilla
2 Large Flour Tortillas
1/2 cup Spinach Basil Pesto
1/2 large tomato, sliced
5 black olives, sliced in thirds
1/4 shredded Parm/Reg or Jarlsberg Cheese
Warm a large skillet over medium heat. Place one flour tortilla on the skillet. Spread basil evenly to the edges of the tortilla. Top evenly with tomato slices and olives. Sprinkle cheese on top and cover with second tortilla. Warm until light brown and crisped on one side. Flip over
and cook on the other side. Slice with a pizza slicer (on a cutting board so you don't mess up your skillet).
We're excited to be planning a shopping trip to Trader Joe's very soon. This weekend Paul and I decided to clean out our TJ's shelf in the pantry. Naturally, we're not completely done yet, but it's great to have a bare shelf to refill. One of the recipes we put together for using up our collection was a trail mix, which I was quite proud of.
Kraft sent me coupons to try out some products for free. Actually, it has nothing to do with my blog. Anyone can sign up for Kraft First Taste. Anyway, I decided to eat the individual deep dish pizza one day for lunch. I also have to share my opinions with Kraft. And I will be equally honest when I publish both reviews. I baked my pizza in the oven, and cannot imagine it coming out crispy in my office microwave, but might be acceptable in our more programmable microwave at home.
It was the end of the week. We were leaving the next day to see Paul's family. I hadn't bothered to grocery shop for the week knowing we would live on what we had since we would be away for a long weekend.
I was playing around with the concept of how much Paul loves roasted red pepper on Sunday. Being so near a cleaned-out kitchen food-wise, I came up with this little dish that would make for a nice appetizer or a "sampler platter" with other items for a light lunch.
This is one of those times when I feel like my iPhone photo app doesn't do the product justice. Course, it could be that I was just in too big of a hurry to get the pic taken before it melted and I needed to go deal with a child who has an increasingly louder scream when it comes to sudden onset of hunger.
Recipe for Upgraded Frozen Yogurt
1 cup strawberry yogurt, preferably frozen
3-4 Whole flash frozen strawberries
1/2 juice orange, like Tangelo, juiced
Whirl all ingredients until strawberries are chopped. Makes one serving.
No one is paying me to say that. Sure wish they would. I love these crackers. They are fabulous with hommus, tomatoes, and cucumbers. I've also used them with a Caprese salad. The easiest way to describe these? An everything bagel, only thinner. It has sesame seeds, poppy seeds, garlic, onion, and caraway seeds. So very good.
I've only seen them at Costco, and only once every 6 months or so at that. When I do see them, I stock up. So now that you have a picture in your mind, run out and stock up, too!
I'm so very sorry to be posting another failed recipe, but I hope it gives everyone encouragement that not all kitchen ventures are successful. Also, a little failure now-and-then does wonders for deflating the ego. But please don't quit reading my blog, I promise there's some good experiences to come.
Yesterday was such a nice day outside--finally warming up!--that I had to sit on the back porch for lunch with Baby Nora in my lap. I was also under orders from Paul to keep my feet up. So, I sent him this picture to prove I was obedient.
Recipe for Couscous Salad
1 cup cooked couscous
1 Campari tomato, diced
1/2 mini cucumber, diced
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Juice of 1 lemon
Handful dried parsley, ground in hand
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh crushed black pepper
Mix all ingredients and serve at room temperature.
Recipe for Peach Smoothie
In a blender add equal parts frozen peaches, yogurt, and orange juice. Last, add 1/2 Tablespoon honey. Blend until no longer chunky. Sip on the porch.
Saute onions in soup pot or sauce pan about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add sweet potatoes, carrots and celery. Stir. Mix seasoning in water and pour into pot. Cover pot and cook about 10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are soft. (The original recipe called for white potatoes. I think they sometimes take longer to cook. Sweet potatoes seem to cook faster to me.) When vegetables are soft, add milk then cheese. The key is to have small cubes of cheese and to add them gradually so they don't clump.
Ladle the soup into a blender. (Be really careful because the blender may splatter when you turn it on. I have a silicone trivet that I cover the blender with so the soup won't splatter and burn my fingers. A towel could work, too.) Reheat soup and serve garnished with fresh herbs as desired. I bet green onions or chives would have been yummy if we had had any. Also, ground red pepper seemed to be a nice addition, too.