27 December 2012

Recipes XV: Hazelnut Cranberry Bars

Hazelnut Cranberry Bars

An unexpected treat!

Snack bars are great on the go but what is with those horrendous price tags? I don't get it. There's no gold or diamonds in them, so they should be cheaper. 
So I saw medjool dates at the food store and was really excited. I wanted to create something using them. Hark my unexpected semi nutella result.

1 bag (6oz) chopped hazelnuts
1 bag (12 oz) mini semi sweet chocolate chips 
10 large medjool dates 
1/3 cup of raw honey
1/2 cup steel cut oats
1/2 small bag of craisen/dried cranberries (~ 2 cups)

In a food processor chop the nuts as small as you can, then the chips, then the dates with the seeds removed and the cranberries. Pour in honey and oats. Mix together well all the items in a bowl. In a glass/pyrex 8x10 pan, line with parchment paper and scrape in the ingredients. If you feel inclined, can sprinkle more chopped chips over the top.  Heat oven to 350 degrees. Press the ingredients as hard as you can into the parchment line pan. Make sure its even surfaced and thickness. Then bake 15 mins. The chocolate will melt in between the nuts and fruits. Allow to cool in pan. Then cut into bars. You can get ~5 long bars or 10 4x3 mini bars. They are filling. The nuts hold off the hunger and dates & chocolate satisfy your sweet tooth. I like to wrap them individually in plastic wrap for quick grab and go. They are slightly crumbly, but awfully tasty. 

Oooy, Gooey.

Recipes XIV: Badass Buns

Badass Buns

For that frank or patty in your life.

I really despise going to the deli and either selecting puffy, substanceless buns or buying deli buns with mystery ingredients. I've been making bread for a while, but what the hell do they need dough enhancers and relaxers for? So I rooted around for a while trying to find a recipe that looks good and then change it. I always got in trouble for not following directions. And you see where it got me? Creativity land!

If you want the original recipe: The Stock Pot Blog

For delightful, freezable rolls:

1 cup warm water (115-117 degrees)

3 tbsp sugar of choice (except fake sugars and stevia)
1 package of yeast or 2 1/4 tbsp dry active yeast
1/2 whipping cream or whole cream
1/4 cup olive oil
1.5 tsp pink or sea salt
3 cups of bread /unbleached /white|wheat flour
1 cup of whole wheat flour
4 tsp vital wheat gluten

For the topping

1 egg white 
1-2 tsp poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or desired topping

Proof the yeast in a measuring cup with sugar dissolved in it first. In a large bowl,  add flours, salt, oil, cream, gluten . When the frothy head gets to a comfortable size, stir into bowl with ingredients. Mix together moderately well, then cover with plastic wrap or plate and let it sit for 10 mins. I use this time to clean up. The dough is developing the gluten strands to make it nice and springy when it bakes. Then kneed well. This is a moderate dough, not super soft or stiff, dust with flour if sticky. 

Clean the original bowl, and oil it with ~3 tbps olive oil. Put dough ball in bowl and slide it around to get oil cover. Moisturize your dough like you would your hands in winter. Side note: olive oil is an excellent moisturizer for skin because of similar ph level. I use the microwave proofing method. In a microwave, heat a small cup of water for 1.5 mins and leave in there, then very quickly and carefully, put the covered dough bowl in the microwave. Set timer for 35 mins. When timer goes off, remove bowl. Microwave water again, same amt of time. Replace dough in microwave again.Repeat this craziness cycle a total of 3 times. Dough should have doubled by then. Punch down, give another or two cycle in microwave proofing.

 Then take out and cut dough into 8 wedges. At this point you can make hot dog buns or patty buns. If you want hot dog, shape long and narrow. Patty- make circular shape in hand. Pretty straight forward. Put aside, cover with plastic wrap. Let rise into shape for 10-15 mins. Preheat oven 350 degrees during this time of rising. Whip of the topping, brush on with basting brush. On a sil pat or parchment paper line pan slide into oven. Then bake 15-20 mins at 350. Take out to cool. Buns!! When they are hot, I cut the slits in them for ease later. After cooled can be frozen. 

16 December 2012

Recipes XIII: Vegetable Barley Soup

Vegetable Barley Soup

Easy, healthy and inexpensive

Warm and Hearty

Makes 2.5 quarts
1 large carrot
3 large stalks of celery
1 red potato
2 quarts of vegetable stock
couple cranks on the peppermill
1/4 tsp pink salt ( if you purchased low sodium stock)
couple pinches of basil
3 large petals of garlic crushed
3/4 cup barley soaked for 1 hour and rinsed
Barley Soaking 

In a large pot at medium or medium high heat pour in the veggie stock, garlic and spices.Peel the carrot and chop into disks and then into quarters. Cut the celery and potato into small pieces. Dump into the simmering stock. Cook for 1 hour, pour in the rinsed and soaked barley, cook for another 30-45 minutes or until everything reaches the softness you desire. Serve with crusty bread. Can be poured into mason jars and frozen or canned. 

Recipes XII: Holiday Wassail


A holiday favorite. 

Drive the chills away with rum laced wassail. 

Makes 10 cups. 

1 gallon of apple cider
2 sticks of cinnamon
1 vanilla bean
2 oranges
2 apples
2 cups of dark spiced rum

In a large crockpot (6 quart) or large pot on the stove, pour in apple cider. Cut the apples and oranges into disks. Tap the apple seeds out. Carefully slice the vanilla bean lengthwise and into 1.5 inch sections. Combine fruits and spices into the cider. After 2 hours at medium heat (stovetop) or high (crockpot), pour in the 2 cups of dark rum. Stir gently. Keep the lid on tight (to prevent that precious alcohol from escaping). Simmer for 1 hour more. Then serve. Keep on low/warm heat. To store: strain off fruits & spices. Then pour into mason jars and frozen/refrigerated. 

29 September 2012

Recipes XI: Fried Spring Rolls

Vegetarian Fried Spring Rolls

So Easy to Make and Freeze!

Ever stop by the freezer section and drool over the tiny perfect little spring rolls with a fat price tag of $5+ ? It happens to me occasionally. Then I mentally slap myself and mutter why not make these from scratch for less than $2?
Makes approximately 22 rolls. 
1 cup tvp seasoned and cooked (I like to make it taste like sesame chicken!)
1/2 cup of manolined (thinnest setting) and then chopped carrots
1/2  cup of manolined (thinnest setting)and then chopped celery
1 cup of cabbage chopped very small
1/4 cup minced onions
3 cloves of pressed garlic
drizzle sesame seed oil
1 package of egg roll sheets (freezer section at the Asian store)

1 basting brush
1 small cup of water
Wax paper
Cooling racks

Prepare vegetables into the smallest and thinnest pieces. This will ensure even cooking inside and that you aren't dragging huge pieces of vegetables out with each bite. Stir well the vegetables, tvp, garlic, oil in large bowl. 
Lay out a long piece of wax paper on counter or table. Use one side for dry preparation and one for moist finishing. 
On the dry side, take a sheet out lay it like a diamond, scoop about 1.5 tablespoon of filling onto the egg roll sheet, closer to you, slightly off center. Gently, fold the right corner in, then the left corner. Then bottom corner, rolling. When complete should look similar to an envelope. 
On the wet side take a basting brush and gently seal the envelope flap shut with water. Place completed egg roll on cooling rack. Repeat until the sheets run out or the filling. Makes about 22 spring rolls. 

In a hot skillet of oil or deep fryer place 3-4 in. Allow 2-4 minutes for cooking, rotate. Don't burn them! :) When done cooking remove and place on paper towel lined plate to collect excess oil. 

They can be eaten right away with dumpling, duck or soy sauce, etc. Or you can cool them off and freeze them. Then whenever you get the craving for a tasty spring roll its ready to go! Feel free to get creative with inside. Consider: tofu, other vegetables, meat if inclined, sauces, etc. 

The Deviltry of Seitan: A Meat Alternative

Part of being vegetarian is not eating meat; well a big part. This leads to creativity and seeking out other sources of protein and nutrition. Instead of mindlessly reaching in the fridge for something to smash into my face, I have to be more aware. I have felt the little lazy voice in me urging me to eat chicken nuggets or shirk my commitment.

15 September 2012

On Becoming a Ovo/Lacto/Veg'n

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder of The Art of Living, said, "When you become subtle in your mind and go deeper in your heart, you turn vegetarian naturally.”

I went Veg/Ovo/Lacto/Pescatarian late July 2012. I honestly never had any inclination to ever become a "vegetarian" of sorts. I was pretty much sure I could never give up chicken in place of beans. ugh. Beans. I hate beans. I don't do the bean scene. Sorry daddy, beans are just plain nasty-ola.

Ironically, at a horrible festival, I ate at this veggie food stand a lot. I subconsciously started lessening my meat intake. I started really thinking about my craving for a fried chicken strip. Was it worth the horrid treatment, de-beaking, sick, starving chick's life for my selfish desire? Nah. I love animals. I don't support the chicken, beef or pork industries. They are horribly vile and un-necessarily cruel to animals. For what gain? A slab of steak? I could sail away to happiness on a fat bowl of pasta. I also had been experiencing meat side effects, shall we say. After eating beef, issues with ma' bowels and horrid arm pit odor. Ok, tmi but these are solid facts.  I was on the war on B.O. I gave up anti perspiration because I don't believe we should block our bodies natural response to heat: sweat. I've been using Jason's Tea Tree Oil Deodorant. So I had to do several deo-reloads (as I endearingly called them) a day.

I started reading.

Apparently meat purifying in the gut causing this horrid aroma. I'd already nixed cow milk and seen unbelievable benefits. Skin cleared up, less phlegm, not feeling sick for hours, no hurricane feeling in the gut. Maybe giving up meat could benefit me too. 

09 September 2012

Recipes X: Water Kefir Recipe

Easy Water Kefir Recipe

Probiotics and Friendly Yeasts for Pennies

1 quart glass mason jar or old glass juice jar
2 tbsp dark brown sugar, light brown sugar, molasses, cane sugar, organic agave nectar (NEVER HONEY)
2 cups spring water or boiled and cooled water (NO TAP Water)
1 pinch baking soda
sliver of lemon or lime with skin removed, medjool date, piece of apple, or some kind of fruit
3 tbsp tibicos/kefir grains

Remember no metal contact with the kefir grains. This harms them. No honey either, as it is antibacterial and anti-fungal  (Honey makes a great sore throat relief). Honey will either significantly harm them or kill them. 
You can use white sugar, however, it doesn't feed the grains like unsulfured bootstrap molasses does. If you brew beer you'll agree that white sugar when fermented leaves a bad bitter apple taste. Undesirable. I prefer light brown sugar in winter time and large granular cane sugar in the summer. 

*Mix water, sugar and baking soda until all dissolved. 
*Pour into jar.
*Add the grains gently.
*Drop in sliver of fruit.
*Cover with cloth and rubber band on (fruit flies love love love to sneak in unless its covered)

Wait 24-36 hours for the sugar to be digested by the grains. Tiny bubbles may form on the surface. Its ok to give it an occasional shake or swishing.  The cloth allows oxygen to enter the brew. Sealing the jar shut  will create bitter kefir wine and deprive the grains of oxygen. The grains need oxygen to survive. 

Strain off the grains for the liquid. I personally enjoy making mine into fruit juice soda. I like to add 1 cup of juice (no high frutose corn syrup) to the 1 cup of water kefir. Then pour into swing top bottle. Let sit on the counter for 1-2 days in a flip top beer bottle or grolsh bottle. This allows the flavors to meld together and secondary fermentation to occur. The secondary fermentation builds the carbonation in the beverage. Then put in the fridge.Careful when opening the lid for the first time. 

You can drink it right after straining the grains but its kind of tangy and boring. I've made some water kefir juice fizzier than your average cola. The flavor possibilities are endless. Take care of your grains and they will grow. The grains are very forgiving which is good if you're like me and forget them for a week. :( If you have too many, I read you can dry them out and make them into powder. This gives you the ability to add to many dishes or pet food or drinks.

The best part about tibicos/bees/water kefir is it produces about 1 trillion probiotics and friendly yeasts within about a day. I was spending about $45/month on probiotic tablets. You can buy the grains on Amazon or look for blogs who are giving them away for free. These grains really do multiply quickly! Essentially they should never die, if you take decent care of them. This stuff really gets your digestive tract moving. I enjoy drinking about 4 oz first thing in the morning. I've even considered spiking it with rum...erg I know bad idea probably, but it tastes so good. 

For more info: http://www.yemoos.com/faqwahealth.html
Bacteria & Yeast species in Water Kefir: http://www.yemoos.com/waterkefirstrains.html

08 September 2012

Plants--the Original Sources of Protein and Amino Acids

By : Dr. John A. McDougall, M.D.

Plants--the Original Sources of Protein and Amino Acids

Proteins are made from chains of 20 different amino acids that connect together in varying sequences—similar to how all the words in a dictionary are made from the same 26 letters. Plants (and microorganisms) can synthesize all of the individual amino acids that are used to build proteins, but animals cannot. There are 8 amino acids that people cannot make and thus, these must be obtained from our diets—they are referred to as “essential.”

After we eat our foods, stomach acids and intestinal enzymes digest the proteins into individual amino acids. These components are then absorbed through the intestinal walls into the bloodstream. After entering the body’s cells, these amino acids are reassembled into proteins. Proteins function as structural materials which build the scaffoldings that maintain cell shapes, enzymes which catalyze biochemical reactions, and hormones which signal messages between cells—to name only a few of their vital roles.

Since plants are made up of structurally sound cells with enzymes and hormones, they are by nature rich sources of proteins. In fact, so rich are plants that they can meet the protein needs of the earth’s largest animals: elephants, hippopotamuses, giraffes, and cows. You would be correct to deduce that the protein needs of relatively small humans can easily be met by plants.

People Require Very Little Protein

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that men and women obtain 5% of their calories as protein. This would mean 38 grams of protein for a man burning 3000 calories a day and 29 grams for a woman using 2300 calories a day. This quantity of protein is impossible to avoid when daily calorie needs are met by unrefined starches and vegetables. For example, rice alone would provide 71 grams of highly useable protein and white potatoes would provide 64 grams of protein.

Our greatest time of growth—thus, the time of our greatest need for protein—is during our first 2 years of life—we double in size. At this vigorous developmental stage our ideal food is human milk, which is 5% protein. Compare this need to food choices that should be made as adults—when we are not growing. Rice is 8% protein, corn 11%, oatmeal 15%, and beans 27%. Thus protein deficiency is impossible when calorie needs are met by eating unprocessed starches and vegetables.

The healthy active lives of hundreds of millions of people laboring in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America on diets with less than half the amount of protein eaten by Americans and Europeans prove that the popular understanding of our protein needs is seriously flawed.


03 September 2012

Simple ones: Lusciously Divine Whipped Cream

Home-style Whipped Cream
Now without Petroleum!

Easiest recipe ever. You'll never go back to that tub of petroleum rubbish.

1 Pint whole whipping cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Pour the whole milk whipping cream into a tall walled bowl. Pour the powdered sugar on top. Turn on the mixer and whip the liquid. Keep mixing until thick like whipped cream. Keeps for 4-5 days in the fridge in a sealed container. Use in any recipe that calls for whipped cream. Delicious by itself, on crepes, in ambrosia; I could go on and on. 

12 August 2012

The Beauty of Water Kefir

Tibicos are a zoogloea cultivated and kept since long-ago. These miraculous mushrooms live in sweetened water with addition of dried fruit and prepare the unusually tasty and curative drink reminding kvass (Russian fermented non-alcoholic refresh drink) from this water.
Zoogloea is a special state of bacterial cells when their capsules become slimy and form gelatinous structures or films. There are a lot of Zoogloea types in nature, however, only three of them are domesticated and studied at most: Tibicos, Kombucha and Tibetan milk mushroom.Though many people think rather skeptically of curative properties of zoogloeas, scientists proved long ago that Tibicos are not only nutritious but also rather useful drink containing vinegar bacteria. They promote digestion and also protect an organism from a various sort of infectious diseases. http://www.ayahuasca-wasi.com/2010/water-kefir/

I always have a hard time explaining what Water Kefir grains really are. People ask me, "are they mushrooms", "are they bacteria" ? Ack. So here is a specific description per the bible of kefir- Yemoos.com

 The grains are a symbiotic relationship of many different strains of beneficial bacteria and yeast which produce lactic acid, carbon dioxide and ethanol when consuming the sugars. The bulk of the grain that you see is a matrix of insoluble polysaccharides (complex sugars), mostly due to the L. casei and L. Brevis in it. It does not produce the stringy kefiran that milk kefir's grains produce, which is a protective mucus that is predominately soluble polysaccharides.

They are these beautiful little gelataneous structures. They bounce too! Its interesting how the grains will take on the hue of the sugar you are using. I recommend giving them a shot. Its such a cheap alternative to standard probiotic tablets. You can buy them Amazon or independent blogs. Sometimes they're giving them away for free! 

For a recipe see entry: http://lushforest.blogspot.com/2012/09/recipes-string-of-pearls-x.html

21 July 2012

Recipes IX: Tofu-Cheeseless-Cake

Tofu -Cheeseless- Cake

This is a nice easy alternative to calorie loaded conventional cheesecake.

2 (12 ounce) packages extra firm tofu, drained
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1.5 cups of chopped blueberries (fresh)
2 cups powdered graham crackers (pulsed in food processor)
2 pats of butter
.5 cup of powdered walnuts (pulsed in food processor)
.5 cup of stevia

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain tofu and press for 1 hour to get excess water out.

In a medium bowl mix together the crumbed graham crackers, crushed walnuts, stevia and melted butter. Stir together well. Pour into cheesecake spring pan. Press crust in pan and then bake for 350 degrees for 7-9 minutes.

Depending on how awesome your blender is, determines this step. If you've an awesome blender put the 2 packages of tofu, sugar, vanilla, olive oil in the blender and mix until its custard consistency. If you've a crappy, piece of shit blender like I have, It helps to mix the ingredients in a bowl and in small amount at a time, pour into the blender or use an immersion blender.

The tofu custard mix is uniform and smooth. Chop/pulse fresh blueberries. Stir into the mixture but not too hard. Pour mix into the spring pan. Smooth off the top. Slide in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Take out let cool, refrigerate. Enjoy.

(How about that nice rotten banana in the back? ew)

09 July 2012

Who's Pyramid is Properly Built?

Below are some different food pyramids I've been inspecting. 

The Vegan Pyramid

The Vegetarian Pyramid

The Standard American Pyramid

The Canadian Pyramid

The Mediterranean Pyramid

04 July 2012

Simple Ones: Ginger Sesame Vinaigrette

Ginger Sesame Vinaigrette

3 tsp grated ginger root
1/3 cup Rice Vinegar
3 tbsp Toasted Sesame Seed Oil
2 tsp Honey (preferable raw honey)
Sprinkle Sesame seeds
1 cup Organic canola or organic neutral oil
3 tbsp Good quality soy sauce (ie: not food store brand)

Combine in bowl. Add canola/neutral oil last. Store in glass bottle. Shake before you.

Good on lettuce or seaweed salads or as a marinade.

(This recipe can be tailored to taste. Especially since rice vinegar has a strong taste.)

18 May 2012

Simple Ones: Refreshing Lemonade

Refreshing Lemonade

Without rotting your teeth

Naturally lemony, naturally beautiful

2 Ball Quart Jars or pitcher
3 lemons (scrubbed and washed with natural soap)
Stevia or Agave Nectar to taste
Filtered water

Cut 1 lemon into lemon discs like cucumber slices. Drop a few into the jars. The second lemon, cut in half. Juice both halves, 1/jar. The 3rd lemon, using a micro-plane or zester, zest the outside of the lemon into the jars. You can also use the 3rd lemon to juice the jars. Fill the jars with filtered water. I used 3.5 tablespoons of stevia or Agave Necatr but you can use more or less. Screw the lids on and shake.

Its really a light, summery, thirst quenching drink. It also makes a nice gift in the jar. Overnight it will take on a nice lemony hue.

15 May 2012

Recipes: Whys & Whats

Ingredients... What's in it?

Why do I always say use olive oil, himalayan salt, etc??

What you invest in your health will determine how you feel tomorrow, next month, 2 decades from now. Olive oil is far better for yourself than canola which comes from soybean. Over 90% of soybean in America is genetically tampered with. I mean they added a bacteria (e.coli), an animal gene and a healthy dose of antibiotics, and assorted chemicals. You really want to eat that? I don't do my food shopping at the pharma. 

Make sure, if you can, to check for this :

This ensures your food hasn't been tampered with genetically. Or if you want to really roll out right:

This ensures people received a fair wage and it wasn't genetically tampered, the animals were humanely treated, no chemicals, pesticides, herbicides were used. It means its the closest to homegrown safe you can get. 

If you can't do the organic deal on your dairy, at least check for this label:

This ensures the cows were not treated with bovine growth hormones. As a result, less puss in your milk, slightly healthier cows, less collaboration for creating a super virus/bacteria. 

Avoid things like: fortified, bleached, artificial flavors, colorants, low fat/no fat, hydrogenated, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives (if possible), bromate. 

Treat your body nice and it will reward you with many years of health. The rise of diabetes and cancers is astounding. One can only assume its the amount of chemicals in our food and world. Other than sex, what do you actually put inside your body?  Eating is such an intimate activity.  Its your food, and you have a right to know what you're consuming. 

Recipes VIII: Creamy Vegetable Orzo

Creamy Orzo with Asparagus & Tomato

A New Twist on a Old Favorite

1 cup orzo
2 splashes olive oil
1.5 tsp of crushed garlic
1.5 cups of chicken broth/ bullion or veg'n alternative
1 packet of Knorr Alfredo (i know, i know something processed)
1 cup of heavy whipping cream- or - 1.5 cups milk
Bunch of asparagus
1 tomato or 2 romas
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp sea salt or Himalayan salt
Several spins on the pepper grinder
2 dashes of garlic powder

In a deep pan heat up the oil on my favorite stove number, 4, with the garlic in it. Start a pot of the asparagus in the bullion liquid. When the garlic starts sizzlin' dump in the orzo. Stir around so it browns a little and absorbs the delicious garlic oil.

Then scoop some of the chicken bullion liquid off and pour into the pan with orzo. It will hiss and belch a great big sizzle steam cloud. That means you're doing it right. Keep slowly adding the chicken liquid to it. Stirring around.

While this is absorbing liquid, start the pot of alfredo. Heat the milk/cream and powder. Make sure to stir well because these sauces have the tendency to burn quickly to the bottom of the pot. You really need a third arm at this point.

Pour in the asparagus and chicken liquid. The orzo will keep cooking. If at any point the pan looks too liquidy, spoon off the liquid. When it has reduced down to your liking, pour the alfredo over the orzo & asparagus.Add the listed spices. Stir around well. Taste, if you want more salt or more pepper or spices-now's your chance. Reduce heat. Add the diced tomato. Stir gently, the tomato will become softer. At this point remove from heat and pour into a serving dish. Now pour yourself a nice beverage-you deserve it.

14 May 2012

Recipes: Whys & Whats

Yeast: You're Friendly Friend

Its tiny and there's bunches of them. You've invited them into your home, but how to you help them flourish? 
Yeast like warm, snuggly environments. They like to rest. The proofing is the reaction of the yeast while it munches the sugar. It farts out a bunch of CO2 making the frothy head. But yeastie wants to stay, he needs a home. Wheat gluten helps him build a strong home and gives you healthy vitamin E and protein. Yeastie will sicken and die if its cold in his new home. I like to microwave my flour home before I pour in the yeast mixture. After you pour the yeast into a warm flour-y home, mix around so the flour is moist. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes. This is an important phase and not laziness. This is where yeastie bonds and the gluten strands are created. This ensures a good texture, small crumb, high rise bad-ass loaf of bread. 

Kneading ensure proper mixing of the ingredients and lets you bond with the food you're making by hand for those you love. 

Microwave proofing-the best method if you've got a p.o.s oven like me. A mug of water in the microwave, fire it up for 1.5 or so. Open quickly stick bread in. Time for 35 minutes. Take bread out & punch it down, reheat the ol' mug of water again. Stick bread in. Time for 35 more minutes. Oh hello bread you're ready to be baked or rise 1 more time.

The baking 911.com page is excellent. Bread is really finicky. If its raining, it won't rise as high. If you look at it sideways, it'll fall.

Remember to not OVER-RISE. I know you want the high and mighty bread. But if it turn alcoholic smelling, you've either spilled your beer on it or its ethanol producing/yeast is exhausted. 


Recipes VII: Freezable Pizza Dough

Freezable Pizza Dough

Who Needs Pizza Hut or Boboli Anymore?

This is a excellent recipe to make up in advance and freeze or on the spot. A versatile crust for your food whims. Also goes pretty good with my homemade tomato sauce.

I set my husbandit to the task of shredding the cheese, while I prepare the crust.

1tbsp dry active yeast
1 cup of water 115-117 degrees with 1 tsp of sugar dissolved in it
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp of sea salt or himalayan salt
2.5 cups of corn meal, white/wheat, whole wheat, or unbleached flour combo

Proof the yeast until frothy and smells like a nice beery bread smell. While its proofing, put together the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Pour in the yeast mixture. Stir around well. Cover and set aside for 8-10 mins to allow the gluten strands to form. Come back and knead well. Allow to rise in warm, greased bowl for 30 mins. After done rising, punch down and form into a ball and put in ziplock. At this point you can freeze it or push into pizza pan. Give it 10mins to gain its breadly form. Decorate with your choice of marinara and toppings.

Simple Ones: Easy Tomato Sauce

Simple Recipes

Savory Tomato Sauce

No BPA is always a Plus!

Several Tomatoes: your choice- roma, hydroponic, organic, beefsteaks
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp himalayan salt or sea salt
1 tsp basil (fresh or dried)
1 tsp oregano (fresh or dried)
Couple spins of fresh ground black pepper

Wash tomatoes with all natural soap and water to remove residues and pesticides. Cut up tomatoes into slices. About the size you'd put on a sandwich. Put tomato slices into a pot with the water. Cover and reduce down on medium low heat (4 if you stove follows numbers) until soft like stewed tomatoes. Make sure the water was absorbed into the tomatoes or has evaporated off. Remove from heat. In a blender or via use of an immersion blender, blend & pulverize the tomatoes into a sloupy paste. Stack a colander or strainer over a bowl. Pour the liquidized tomatoes into the strainer/colander. The bowl will capture tomato juice. The strainer will capture the marinara. In a bowl, stir in seasonings and olive oil. Can be canned or poured into a glass container and frozen or refrigerated.

Simple Ones: Homemade Applesauce

Simple Recipes

Homemade Applesauce

You'll Never Go Back for Store-bought

Approx 45- 50 mins

5 apples
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp allspice
1/3 cup water
Stevia or honey optional

Peel the apples, cut and core them. Dice them into about 3 pieces per quarter apple. It doesn't have to be exact. Drop into pot on stove. Pour in 1/3 cup water and cover. The water prevents the chances of the apples burning to the bottom of the pot. Reduce apples down on medium low heat (4 if your stove goes by numbers) stirring occasionally. Take a potato masher or fork, mush around. It takes around 25-30mins to get nice soft mushy applesauce. If there is remaining water in the bottom, remove the lid to evaporate off the residual moisture. When it seems to be an appealing mushiness to you add the spices, blend well. 

This applesauce is naturally sweet and should a healthy tint. The texture is more thick and chunkier, unlike the uniform glop they sell you at the store. You can can it up or pour into a glass container and refrigerate. It does keep well. 

13 May 2012

Recipes VI: Tofu Nuggets

Non-Chicken Chicken Nuggets

Recipe by my lovely husbandit, Mr. B.

There are a couple ways you can make this depending on your dietary preferences/needs. 

Non-vegetarian Method

Approx 3.25 hours

1 pre-package container of extra firm organic tofu pressed for 2 hours
2 cups chicken broth or water w/ chicken bouillon
Couple dashes of poultry seasoning-fresh or dried
2.5 cups of chicken breader or flour with spices & salt in a ziplock

After pressing water from tofu. Boil chicken broth/bouillon with spices. Turn off heat and lower tofu square in. Let tofu sit in chicken liquid mix for 1 hr to absorb the chicken flavor. 

Slice tofu lengthwise then into cubes 3x3 inch.

Gently shake tofu cubes in ziplock bag of breader. Not too vigorously. 

In a bubbling hot skillet of oil on the stove (of can use deep fryer), gently place the cubes in the oil. Approx 2 mins/side. Or until golden brown. They cook quickly.

Vegetarian Method

Press tofu square for 2 hours.
Instead of using chicken bouillon stock, can use vegan or vegetable bouillon stock and desired seasonings. Or none at all, for a faster preparation. 

Gently shake tofu cubes in ziplock bag of breader.

Cook them the same way in a hot skillet of oil on the stove (of can use deep fryer), gently place the cubes in the oil. Approx 2 mins/side. Or until golden brown.

They're really tasty with dumpling sauce or by themselves. 

For a healthier approach: Can bake them in a toaster oven 25-30 minutes on a sil pat or silicon baking sheet. 

Recipes V: Old Fashion Cranberry Walnut Bread

Cranberry Walnut Bread

An Old Family Favorite

This recipe has been in my family for a long time. Its so delicious, moist and tart, who can say no? Its been used at family gatherings, fall festivals, holidays, and gifts. I've changed the recipe slightly to make it more health conscious.

1/3 cup olive oil
3/4 white sugar, brown sugar, or agave nectar
2 organic eggs
2 cups flour (1 white wheat/ 1 whole wheat or any combo you desire)
3/4 cup buttermilk (easily made by squeezing half a lemon into the milk)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon himalayan pink salt
1 cup chopped cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven 350. Mix the wet ingredients first with the mixer. Hold the cranberries and walnuts till last. Then add in the dry ingredients. Hand stir/fold in the walnuts and cranberries. Avoid over-stirring to prevent the batter from turning completely pink. Pour into 9x5 buttered and floured pan. Bake 50-55 mins. Makes 1 loaf.

This recipe can easily be doubled and tripled. I like to buy lots of bags of cranberries when they come out in stores around October and November. Its so ingrained in me now, I have to buy them and I always buy 2 at a time. Freeze them. Around spring or summer you can whip up a loaf and spread with melting butter and remember just why you love this recipe so much!


( Just look at those beautiful organic eggs...sigh)

12 May 2012

Recipes IV: Simple Homemade Bagels

The Best Homemade Bagels


The link above has the full illustrated recipe on how to make these awesome bagels.

As always I cannot follow a recipe. I see so many possibilities for subsitutions. I typically make my bagels predominantly whole wheat with wheat germ, ground flax seed, a dash of garlic powder and 1.5 tsp of crushed garlic. Sometimes cinnamon honey wheat bagels. I've even added in dried craisins and honey. This is a great foundational recipe for building on. So let your little heart take you where want to munch. These bagels take less than 2 hours to complete.

Yields 8

2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups warm water (115-117 degrees) with the sugar dissolve in it
3 1/2 cups spelt, unbleached, white/wheat or/and whole wheat
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1-3 tsp of vital wheat gluten (gives it good rise and texture)
Additional tasty bits

Proof the yeast well. Mix into dry ingredients. Put aside for 10 minutes for the wheat gluten strands to form. (A good time to clean up the intial mess) Knead the bread dough well. In a greased bowl, cover and let rise. After the first rise cycle cut into 8 slices. Shape into a ball. Punch your finger thru and make the bagel hole. Let rise for about 10 mins again or until your water starts boiling in the water pot. Then drop a bagel into the boiling (not a rigorous boil) and let float/cook for 1 minute for each side. Take out, put on a silpat on a cookie sheet. Bake 425 for 20-25 minutes.

Recipes III: Non Dairy Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Mint-Dark Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Good recipe if you're lactose intolerant

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Ice Cream Maker Time: Approximately 20-25 minutes
  • 2 cans of coconut milk
  • ½ cup agave nectar
  • ¼ cup fresh mint or 1tsp peppermint extract
  • ½ cup 62% dark chocolate chunks.
  • 1/4 cup powdered cocoa

Place coconut milk, agave, and mint in a blender. Blend for about 1 minute until the mint is fully incorporated into the mixture. Add chocolate chips and pulse for about 20 seconds.

Pour liquid into your ice cream machine bowl and churn for about 20-25 minutes or according to manufacturer's instructions

Recipes II: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

1/2 cup agave nectar
3 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch allspice
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 cups strawberries, hulled and cut into large chunks (can be frozen or fresh)
3 ½ cups rhubarb, cut into ½-inch slices (can be frozen or fresh)
Refer to crust recipe in Recipes: A String of Pearls I. Add little more flour of choice and 1 or 2 tbsp of butter. Add more water as needed.
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, allspice, salt and orange zest. Add the lemon juice and fruit, stirring gently to combine.
Make a solid bottom crust and cut off about a fist size, set aside. Then roll out in a circular form, large enough to drape over the pie plate. Fold in half, then half again. This makes the transfer to the pie plate easier. Lastly, put into pie plate. Take the remaining fist size dough and roll out into a long rectangle. Cut into 1.5 inch wide strips. Fill the pie with the strawberry-rhubarb mixture. Apply the strips of crust like a lattice across the top. Make the pie edge ripply using either a fork's edge or fingers. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. If crust is getting a little too "tan" cover with foil.

Recipes I: Chicken Handpies

Chicken Potpies in Hand Pie Form

In a deep skillet, heat 1 cup of chicken broth, 1/4 cup olive oil. Cut 2 chicken breast into 1 or 2 inch cubes. Drop into skillet set on medium low heat (4, if your stove goes by numbers). After the chicken if cooked add chopped celery, carrots, and frozen peas. You can control how many vegetables you want. Add 1tbsp parsley flakes, poultry seasoning, and sage. Feel free to use fresh herbs. Stir well, cover with lid. Now for the most tricky part-the damn crust. This recipe from Epicurean Mom's blog works very well.
Pie Crust

For Crust:

1 3/4 cups spelt, white/wheat, unbleached and/or wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
5 tbsp room temp butter
1/3-1/4 cup cold water

I do recommend putting down wax paper and rolling it out with wax paper on top. Flour it occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick. Then cut into 6x6 inch squares. Add some flour to the skillet, a little less than 1/4 cup to thicken the filling. Spoon 3-4 tbsps worth off-center on to the square crusts. Fold and fork-seal the seam (looks like the edge of a pie crust). Bake for 22-25 mins in oven on 350. Let cool and now you have beautiful homemade hot pocket-esque hand pies.

25 April 2012

Inexpensive Homemade Cleaners

Found some more solid info non-toxic home cleaning things. I was specifically looking for an oven cleaner that was non-toxic. I mean, honestly, who would spray their oven with catastrophic chemicals and then bake something in it?! I guess a lot/if not most people are expediting their untimely deaths. Don't let it be yours. 

Ganked from: Earth Easy Website!!

Oven Cleaner: Moisten oven surfaces with sponge and water. Use 3/4cup baking soda, 1/4cup salt and 1/4cup water to make a thick paste, and spread throughout oven interior. (avoid bare metal and any openings) Let sit overnight. Remove with spatula and wipe clean. Rub gently with fine steel wool for tough spots. Or use Arm & Hammer Oven Cleaner, declared nontoxic by Consumers Union.

Laundry Detergent: Mix 1 cup Ivory soap (or Fels Naptha soap), 1/2 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup borax. Use 1 tbsp for light loads; 2 tbsp for heavy loads. Commercial natural, biodegradable laundry detergents are also now available online and in select stores. 

 Plastic food storage containers - soak overnight in warm water and baking soda
• In-sink garbage disposal units - grind up lemon or orange peel in the unit
• Carpets - sprinkle baking soda several hours before vacuuming
• Garage, basements - set a sliced onion on a plate in center of room for 12 - 24 hours

Bathroom mold: Mold in bathroom tile grout is a common problem and can be a health concern. Mix one part hydrogen peroxide (3%) with two parts water in a spray bottle and spray on areas with mold. Wait at least one hour before rinsing or using shower.

Scouring Powder: For top of stove, refrigerator and other such surfaces that should not be scratched, use baking soda. Apply baking soda directly with a damp sponge.

Exchange Indoor Air
Many modern homes are so tight there's little new air coming in. Open the windows from time to time or run any installed exhaust fans. In cold weather, the most efficient way to exchange room air is to open the room wide - windows and doors, and let fresh air in quickly for about 5 minutes. The furnishings in the room, and the walls, act as 'heat sinks', and by exchanging air quickly, this heat is retained

Use Gentle Cleaning Products
Of the various commercial home cleaning products, drain cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners and oven cleaners are the most toxic. Use the formulas described above or purchase 'green' commercial alternatives
. Avoid products containing ammonia or chlorine, or petroleum-based chemicals; these contribute to respiratory irritation, headaches and other complaints.