Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Paint the town GREEN

Wikimedia Commons-Greens for Sale by Gideon
Being the Queen of Convenience has its advantages. St. Patrick's Day, spring, Easter and Earth Day all feature green, fresh foods and themes, so why not combine them? Pretty soon, these recipes will be on rotation at home. By the time Memorial Day, Flag Day, summer, cookout, and Independence Day season rolls around, there will be a new crop of recipes that can take us right through back-to-school, apples, early fall, make dinner magically appear, pumpkin Halloween time.

When life gives you lemons, make shandy!

Shandy Town 

12 ounces/360 cl ginger beer or lemonade
12 ounces/360 cl white Belgian beer  (Blue Moon is a mass market example)
Twist of lime and orange (orange especially if using Blue Moon-type beer profile)

Combine ginger ale/lemonade and beer in a large pitcher over ice. Slice the lime into wedges and serve shandy with a wedge of lime.

For a gluten-free Belgian style beer, try New Planet Blonde 

Is that really a thing?

Shrub aka drinking vinegar -it's a thing now. A shrub is a sweetened drinking vinegar that is or will be all the rage. It's tasty and gut friendly. And trending! Why should you believe me? I've been drinking Moscato since 1995!
I highly recommend Elements Grapefruit Vanilla, simply made for elderflower syrup or liqueur à la St. Germain. Elements' lemon mint flavor is a crowd pleaser. Chai pear makes an excellent (excellent excellent) spiced syrup. Sold at Old Line Fine Beer, Wines and Spirits in Beltsville.


As the Queen of Convenience,  I suggest, nay, command you to mix cubed ripe avocados with your favorite salsa. 1 large avocado to 1/3 cup salsa should do it. Add a twist of lime or garlic or garlic salt if you care. Done in 5 minutes!

Tuscan Kale Chips My eldest practically begs for these. As the Queen of Convenience, I use a (wheat-free) Italian dressing mix for the salt and seasoning.

Sushi-Roll Rice Salad

Green potato salad 

Make your classic or favorite potato salad recipe and add a handful finely chopped fresh parsley. 

Asparagus: Celebrate Spring with Asparagus! In Germany, Spargelfest is a two-month springtime feast for asparagus. Celebrate the peak of this tasty vegetable right at home. Thanks, Treda, for telling me about this worthwhile celebration.

Asparagus with Prosciutto, Pecorino, and Poached Eggs

Epicurious | May 2007

32 large asparagus spears (about 3 pounds), trimmed and peeled
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 large eggs
4 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
8 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 medium lemon)
8 thin slices proscuitto (about 4 ounces total)
3 ounces Pecorino or parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Special equipment: nonstick muffin pan with 12 (1/3-cup) cups

Have ready large bowl ice water. In medium saucepan over high heat, bring salted water to boil. Add asparagus and boil, uncovered, until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain, then immediately plunge spears into ice water to stop cooking. Drain again and pat dry.

Preheat grill to moderate heat.

Transfer asparagus to large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 4 tablespoons olive oil. Toss to coat. Grill, in batches if necessary, until lightly charred, 8 to 10 minutes. Keep warm.

Arrange oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil muffin pan.

Crack one egg into each muffin cup (there will be 4 empty cups). Place muffin pan in large roasting pan and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of muffin pan. Bake until eggs are set but yolks are still runny, about 7 to 8 minutes.

While eggs cook, arrange 4 asparagus spears in fan pattern on each of 8 plates. Sprinkle each plate with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, then drizzle each with 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Drape 1 slice prosciutto atop asparagus on each plate.

Using small offset spatula, carefully remove eggs from pan and place 1 atop each slice prosciutto. Drizzle with remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with Pecorino
and parsley.

Cook's note: If you prefer, the asparagus can be baked instead of grilled. Skip the boiling step. Drizzle the raw asparagus with oil and bake it at 450°F on a large rimmed baking sheet until tender, about 10 minutes.

Asparagus with Hazelnut Vinaigrette

Serves 6
For Vinaigrette
1 large shallot, minced
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and chopped

1 hard-cooked large egg
2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and lower 2 inches of stalks peeled

Make vinaigrette:
In a bowl whisk together shallot, vinegar, mustard, sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Add oil in a stream, whisking, and whisk until emulsified. Whisk in hazelnuts.

Finely chop egg. In a deep 10- to 12-inch skillet bring 1 1/2 inches salted water to a boil and cook asparagus over high heat until crisp-tender, about 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer asparagus with tongs to a colander and drain.

Transfer asparagus to a serving dish. Spoon vinaigrette over asparagus and sprinkle with egg. Serve asparagus warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Asparagus with Goat Cheese and Bacon

Serves 6; double or triple the recipe if serving for a crowd.
6 bacon slices

2 pounds medium asparagus, tough ends trimmed
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
1 3 1/2- to 4-ounce log soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel 

Cook bacon in heavy large skillet over medium heat until brown and crisp. Transfer to paper towels and drain. Crumble bacon; set aside.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 500°F. Arrange asparagus on large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and turn asparagus to coat well. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast asparagus until crisp-tender when pierced with knife, about 7 minutes. Arrange asparagus in single layer on platter. Sprinkle with goat cheese, then bacon. Drizzle with lemon juice and remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Sprinkle grated lemon peel over. (Can be prepared 1 hour ahead. Cover with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature.) 

Mint Sauce for Asparagus

double this for 4-6 people

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
2 tablespoons fat-free chicken broth
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper 
Posted toWikimedia Commons by Nlitement

Leftover Herbs? Try pesto.

Parsleymintbasil and cilantro.

Frozen green grapes-sometimes easy is best! Freeze individually on a baking sheet. Great for kids old enough to eat grapes. Also makes for delicious edible "ice cubes"!

Green smoothie-- Pineapple-Basil Frosty

One 20-oz can crushed pineapple or one 12-16 oz bag frozen (plus 1/2 cup extra juice)
10 mint leaves or fresh basil leaves

Add 10 baby spinach leaves to intensify green color, if preferred2 cups ice (or 1 cup ice + 1/2 cup water if using frozen pineapple)
Blend at high speed until smooth.
Want to make the world's tastiest gluten-free gingerbread cake? Pretty much like this recipe but with with two Aldi baking mixes to get a higher protein content for the right quick bread texture. Used coconut oil instead of the vegetable oil. Oh, and I made ginger beer then used the pureed ginger and orange instead of the dried ginger and water. Hmm, I also used half cardamom and half cinnamon! See why it's hard for me when people ask for a recipe?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Falling Back into Blogging: Thanksgiving Recipes, Rants & Raves

It's been almost a year since I have carved out time to blog. Why? Raising two children is exponentially more time consuming than one, especially in the early years. Work has kept me very busy. Like "what is this elusive do-nothing government employee I keep hearing about?" busy. I come across wonderful recipes, tips, restaurants and ideas, yet time to send them back out has eluded me. Also, many of the cool internet finds go on my Facebook "Smelling and Tasting Life" page. It also occurred to me that our home office/guest bedroom now hosts a child by night, so my evening inspirations were leading me straight to the kitchen. Or I fell asleep when possible!

So, what's new? My wheat allergy continues. That has changed how our family eats. My recipes that used wheat flour are now with premade store-bought mixes, usually from Aldi. Or, sometimes I can use oats, corn flakes or a small amount of corn starch. The other day I used kosher gelatin to thicken my gravy. I mention this because I will often make and take roundabout recipe decisions and food choices that people who can and want to eat wheat would not do. These don't usually translate by weight or measurement to wheat flour or bread crumbs, so make adjustments on your own or use the ideas or recipes and look for tested recipes using wheat flour as guides. This also means that almost any sweet or baked good I consume is coming from home, not the mean wheat-filled streets.

And if all that isn't enough, a disclaimer: I have fully adopted a "cook like a grandma; don't look like a grandma" philosophy. That means I don't measure anything unless it's for some huge, major event or a couple times during the holidays. So, treat my recipes as guideposts and inspirations and consult sources that tend to test well like America's Test Kitchen/Cooks' Illustrated/Cooks' Country, Gourmet (found at, (often not my first choice, but they do test recipes).

Still here? Great! So much is going on in our kitchen.

Before I launch into cooking, I need to say this one more time: Aldi is your friend. Anyone out here on the grind knows wages are flat. Adjusted for inflation, they are down. Down, I say! Why do I mention this? Saving money feels best when one doesn't feel it. Aside from my pride being bruised when I realized I was losing cash money by not giving Aldi a chance, I am pain-free. Here is a smattering of my favorite Aldi things:

Pesto-Red AKA sun-dried tomato, and Green AKA basil pesto. These sell for $1.29-$1.69 and are now my base for tomato pasta sauce. I use 1/3 of each pesto along with a large can of crushed tomatoes, a small can of diced tomatoes, and a small can of...

Secret Agent Ingredient: canned carrots

I put canned carrots in smoothies, soups, marinara sauce and stews. They are a great thickener and sneak in veggies when my kids (or I) am picky and peckish. The carrots are 65 cents at Aldi all day every day and also get puréed into carrot ginger soup and even baked goods.

*Fried apples are a seasonal gift from the heavens. Use them. Most importantly stock up! Make a Dutch Baby!!

A pint of heavy cream is $1.69. Just wrap your head around that. It's cheaper than butter. WOW.

Related recipe that sets you back like $1 per person when shopping at Aldi:
"French" Tomato Soup
NOM! We had an inspiration at work. Why should French onion soup have all the fun? What if we started making tomato soup like French onion soup, with the equivalent of an open grilled cheese sandwich on top?? Why haven't we done this before?!?!?! Make some homemade tomato soup (Stewed tomatoes, large 26-ounce can, small handful of washed fresh basil (or a spoonful each of red pesto and green pesto), 1/2 of a 15-ounce can of carrots, a dash of butter or olive oil (if not using pesto). Add 1/2 cup cream and a cup of chicken or vegetable stock. Purée with an immersion blender or in a traditional blender. Top with croutons or potato bread. Then top with sharp Cheddar cheese and broil in the oven until melted and bubbly.
me favorite recipes, musings, and food combinations:

Dutch Baby with *Fried Apples

What is a Dutch Baby? As far as I can tell, it's a lazy-ass crêpe. Instead of painstakingly using this recipe to make wonderful semi-transparent crêpes, dump this mixture over some bubbling hot fried apples from a can, courtesy of Aldi, that you have transferred to your skillet. If your conscience doesn't allow for this "one and done" approach, make sure everyone sees and hears you chopping an apple or two, which will also give everyone more apples and cut down on the overall sugar per serving. Turn down the heat to low and cover about 3-4 minutes, checking until the mixture no longer jiggles. Sprinkle with cinnamon or cinnamon sugar if you did not use the sweet fried apples.

Another Dutch Baby option is to fry some ham or turkey ham, add a generous teaspoon of Dijon mustard to the sizzling ham and dump the batter over that. Turn down the heat to low and cover about 3-4 minutes, checking until the mixture no longer jiggles. Top with Swiss cheese and some cracked black pepper and serve with a salad.

Native American Fry Bread as inspiration

So, it can be rather depressing to be wheat free when you want bread dripping with oil or butter. Funny, when I could eat bread, I didn't often want this. One night I made Aldi's gluten-free pizza dough mix crossed with equal amounts of Aldi's baking mix (about 3 cups total), plus one egg and just under a cup of milk. I fried it in a sauté pan with a healthy dose of coconut oil, flipping it to brown both sides. It was some kind of good!!

To try: Feta-Stuffed Hush Puppies from Cava Mezze
I had (although I wasn't supposed to) some Feta hush puppies at Cava Mezze over a month ago. They were savory, crunchy and had a sweet orange marmalade butter served alongside. I will try this with gluten-free cornbread mix at Aldi and see how it turns out.
(Inspired by Emeril's Cheddar Hush Puppies)

1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup bleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 ounces crumbled Feta cheese (about 3/4 cup)
1/4 cup minced yellow onions
1 1/2 teaspoons minced jalapeños
1 1/2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
Vegetable oil for deep-frying

-Mix the cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
-Add the cheese, onions, jalapeños, and hot sauce and mix well.
-Add the eggs, buttermilk, and 1/2 cup water. Mix well. If using gluten-free flours, rest batter 10-20 minutes.
-Pour enough oil to come halfway up the sides of a large heavy pot or electric deep fryer and heat over high heat to 360°F. In batches, without crowding, drop tablespoons of the batter into the hot oil.
-Deep-fry on all sides until the hush puppies rise to the surface and are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
-Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.
--For the butter, mix equal parts orange marmalade and soft butter. Swoon!

Backyard Barbecue Beans From Cook's Country | June/July 2016

My kids and I eat this often on Saturdays after lessons, hopefully before our nap. I use turkey hot dogs instead of bratwurst and usually add--you guessed it--a can of carrots.

Be sure to use a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan or a roasting pan; the volume of the beans is too great for a 13 by 9-inch ceramic baking dish, and it will overflow. We found that Bush’s Original Recipe Baked Beans are the most consistent product

1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/4 pounds bratwurst, casings removed (we use 4 to 6 turkey hot dogs, sliced)
2 onions, chopped
2 (28-ounce) cans baked beans
2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, drained
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained
1 (10-ounce) can Ro-tel Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, drained
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

-Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk barbecue sauce, ketchup, water, mustard, vinegar, liquid smoke, granulated garlic, and cayenne together in large bowl; set aside.
-Cook bratwurst in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up into small pieces with spoon, until fat begins to render, about 5 minutes.
-Transfer bratwurst mixture/hot dogs to bowl with sauce. Stir in baked beans, pinto beans, cannellini beans, and tomatoes. Transfer bean mixture to 13 by 9-inch baking pan and place pan on rimmed baking sheet.
-Arrange bacon pieces in single layer over top of beans. Bake until beans are bubbling and bacon is rendered, about 1½ hours. Let cool for 15 minutes. Serve.

TO MAKE AHEAD: At end of step 3, beans can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Proceed with recipe from step 4, increasing baking time to 1¾ hours.

 Brownie Fudge Don't Know What This Good Thing Is
Half box (used Aldi gluten-free) brownie mix--1/2 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk--Dash cream--2 handfuls of chopped nuts of your choice--6 ounces (1/2 bag) semisweet chocolate chips. Mix in a glass 8-inch square pan or 9-inch round pie pan. Bake 350 for 30 minutes. OMG!! So good.

Thanksgiving Click on "Thanksgiving" to see all prior Smelling and Tasting blog recipes that reference Thanksgiving!

Creamy No-Boil Mac 'n' Cheese
This recipe works PERFECTLY with gluten-free pasta. It solves the mushy "this is not really pasta but shaped glue" problem. Plus, it's lazy and tastes great. I plan to coach my oldest to make her mac 'n' cheese this way so she can have another recipe under her belt. This one is great for kids since they won't need to touch a hot stove or hot water to make this.

Teff Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Haven't tried this gluten-free carrot cake yet, but it's on my list to make!! Many mistakes can be masked by delicious frosting, so willing to try.

Sweet Potato Goodness
This sweet potato goodness is so delicious. Add an egg white or a heaping teaspoon ground flaxseed or corn starch instead of flour. I make this in the food processor. Lazy step 1: Bake sweet potatoes for 30 minutes when something else is cooking. Lazy step 2: I blend the peeled sweet potato, spices, salt, candied ginger and cream along with 1/4 cup oats. I then put a little streusel topping on the bottom, add the sweet potato mixture, then add the rest of the oat-coconut topping. Delish!! Even better, it's easy to "veganize" and hard to mess up.

What to do with leftover Turkey? Turkey Nachos
Combine chopped turkey, cranberry sauce, bbq sauce and slow cook on low heat in a pan on the stove for 15 minutes. On a ceramic or glass plate or metal pan, layer tortilla chips, brie or Cheddar cheese, white beans, sour cream. Bake 7 minutes at 375°F. Top with mango or pineapple salsa. You could also make open-face sandwiches with the turkey mixture, cheese and leftover rolls or cornbread.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Happy Hanukkah: Blueberry Coconut Macaroons

Happy Hanukkah! In honor of my Kosher Dining Hall days, here is an easy, festive Parve dessert!

Blueberry Coconut Macaroons

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Yield: 24 macaroons


1 12-ounce bag shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or one teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ounce (or round up to one package) freeze-dried blueberries from Trader Joe’s or 2 ounces sweetened dried blueberries


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
In a large bowl, stir together coconut and sugar. Mix in the egg whites and vanilla.
Mix the blueberries into the coconut mixture.
Place 1 ½ to 2 inch mounds of the mixture onto the prepared pan, pressing each together as much as possible. You do not have to space the cookies far apart, as they will not spread.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top and mostly set. Allow to cool completely on pan before serving or storing. Cookies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for about an hour.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Courtship Lasagne-the way to a love's heart...

Lasagne recipe
I made this often during engagement and the early throes of marriage, along with plump meatballs, West-African chicken stews, homemade salad dressings, inspired punches and brownies with more added ingredients than the original boxed contents. 

This can also be adapted for other baked pasta dishes. Mix cooked pasta with cheese mixture and layer in a similar way. 
Makes 6-8 very large servings
1/2 kilo or 1 pound ground beef and pinch baking soda or sodium bicarbonate. Do not use baking powder. 
2 pinches salt, 1/4 teaspoon 
1 tablespoon or 30 ml olive oil, if using lean meat
Thyme, oregano, allspice, black pepper for meat seasoning

3 jars or cans of pasta tomato sauce, 28 ounces or 796 ml each or use cans of crushed tomatoes. Save at least 1/2 can or jar for topping. 

2 cloves minced garlic
Leaves from 8 fresh parsley sprigs, finely chopped. Save a little parsley for topping. 
2 eggs
2 ricotta cheese containers, totaling about 32 ounces or 950 ml or use 1/2 ricotta and 1/2 cottage cheese
1 bag shredded Parmesan cheese, 200g
2 bags shredded whole milk (if available) mozzarella cheese, 400g. Save 1 packet for layering and for topping. 

Fresh pasta sheets, enough for 3 layers, or one dry box lasagne noodles at least 1 pound, 454g. Cook noodles until firm, cool, and set aside in a little cold water. 

Cook ground meat in a large skillet with oil, if needed, herbs and spices, salt, and a pinch of baking soda to speed up meat browning. Cook until no longer pink and some meat and the pan get crusty brown. Add tomato sauce and set aside. 

Next, mix most of parsley, all garlic, both eggs and all cheeses except for 1 packet of mozzarella in a large mixing bowl until well combined. 

Set up a station of noodles, meat sauce and cheese mixture. 
Layer 1: 1/2 meat sauce
Layer 2: pasta
Layer 3: 1/2 cheese mixture 
Layer 4: a small sprinkle mozzarella cheese
Layer 5: pasta
Layer 6: 1/3 meat sauce
Layer 7: 1/2 cheese mixture 
Layer 8: a small sprinkle mozzarella cheese
Layer 9: pasta
Next, spread any remaining meat sauce plus tomato sauce on top of pasta. Top with parsley and the rest of mozzarella cheese. 
Bake, covered loosely with oiled aluminum foil at 350 degrees for one hour. If your oven runs hot, check after 45 minutes. When done, it should be bubbly and no longer watery. Turn off oven and remove foil. Leave in oven up to fifteen minutes. Then take out of oven and cover loosely with foil again for at least 20 minutes to allow lasagne to cool and set before serving. 

Friday, November 06, 2015

She Fan De Be!

Crispy Fried Omelette: Malian Street food at its' finest!


Who remembers enjoying a greasy, tasty omelette at the shefan tigi's? Here is a guide to prepare your own. Thanks to Anne for the great idea!

Beat 2 large eggs with some finely sliced spring onions or a handful of thinly sliced sweet onions, finely ground pepper and  a pinch of salt (or Maggi!) I advocate for smaller omelettes so they will get crispier and cooked faster. 

Preheat a heavy pan on medium heat with two tablespoons peanut oil or coconut oil (other oils are less healthy or will be too smoky), ideally 10-inch cast iron skillet or a wok if you have it. Pour well-beaten eggs into the cast-iron skillet or wok, scrambling the egg in the base of the pan until it’s nearly cooked, and then leaving it to turn golden on the base before flipping it over to fry the other side.

Serve with a thin baguette, lavishly spread with Calve or Hellman's mayonnaise.

Slow-Cooker Butter Chicken


Slow-Cooker Butter Chicken

Don't have a slow cooker? Try using a "dutch oven" also known as enameled cast iron cookware. Bake in the oven 30 minutes at 300F, then 3 hours at 200F.

4 tablespoons or half stick butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped 
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger or 2 teaspoons ginger powder
3 cloves finely chopped fresh garlic
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder or paprika for less "heat"
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 dried bay leaves
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 can (14 oz) light coconut milk
2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-size pieces 
1 container (6 oz) Greek plain yogurt or whole-milk yogurt or full-fat sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt

Spray 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In 10-inch skillet, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook about 5 minutes or until onion is softened.
Stir in cardamom, garam masala, cayenne or paprika and coriander. Cook 2 minutes longer, stirring frequently.
Stir in tomato paste and coconut milk. Heat until thoroughly blended. Pour mixture into slow cooker. Add chicken, yogurt and salt; stir to mix.
Cover an cook on Low heat setting 6 to 8 hours (or on High heat setting 4 hours). If using the oven method, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Bake in the oven 30 minutes at 300F, then 3 hours at 200F

Inspiration for this recipe is here

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

All for Fall: Autumnal Deliciousness

Fall in love with some new autumnal equinox recipes
Here is Ina Garten's Curried Butternut Squash-Apple Soup recipe, which tastes really good with my bacon fat enhancements
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used bacon fat)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 large)
2 tablespoons mild curry powder
5 pounds butternut squash (2 large)
1 1/2 pounds sweet apples, such as McIntosh (4 apples) or about 1 1/2 cups unsweetened chunky applesauce
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups water
2 cups good apple cider or juice

Warm the butter, olive oil, onions, and curry powder in a large stockpot uncovered over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the onions are tender. Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot.

Peel the squash, cut in half, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into chunks. Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Cut into chunks.

Add the squash, apples*, salt, pepper, and 2 cups of water to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until the squash and apple*s are very soft. Puree the mixture coarsely in the bowl of a food processor. (*I used chunky unsweetened applesauce. You're welcome.)

Pour the soup back into the pot. Add the apple cider or juice and enough water to make the soup the consistency you like; it should be slightly sweet and quite thick. Check the salt and pepper and serve hot.
My twist!
I added what I call "bacon-fat caramel"-2 teaspoons bacon grease, 1/4 cup maple syrup (or 1/4 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons water) and a pinch of salt (I used smoked salt). I cooked on high heat for about 4 minutes until big, thick bubbles appeared and the mixture just started turning a darker brown. It smoked just a little because bacon grease does that. I then drizzled the caramel on top of some pumpkin seeds sprinkled atop the soup. It made a pretty good soup pretty amazing! To veganize the recipe, substitute butter and/or bacon fat for coconut oil.
This caramel treatment is also fantastic on roasted Brussels sprouts!

Another Barefoot Contessa Recipe--pasta made with fall flavors. It has Fontina, mushrooms, sage, Gorgonzola, and radicchio. I would serve with arugula and hazelnuts or walnuts I made a similar recipe last night and had to use brown rice pasta for glutinous reasons, which tasted only mildly depressing. Make sure if you cook gluten-free pasta, you stop cooking about one minute before it's fully cooked. It continues to absorb a lot of water after cooking stops. Once I forgot to drain right away and I had a pot full of porridge. Or you could use cooked spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes, which is what I usually end up doing.

Cranberry-Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup rinsed and finely chopped fresh cranberries
1/4 cup corn starch
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate or white chips, optional
Dash salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whip the egg whites and salt on high speed using an electric mixer until you achieve medium-firm peaks. Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture. In a separate bowl, combine cranberries and corn starch. Add into coconut mixture. Add chocolate chips, if desired.

Drop the batter onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper or silicone liners using either a 1 3/4-inch diameter ice cream scoop, or 2 teaspoons to shape coconut mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and serve.
Here are some tips for flavoring pumpkin seeds. I like the shelled raw pumpkin seeds, which are an olive green. You can find them at Trader Joe's and at many health food supermarkets. Here are some delicious pepita aka pumpkin seed concoctions, like versatile pumpkin seed pesto. Pesto works on proteins, as a salad dressing block--just add some orange juice--or mixed into grains and cooked vegetables.