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My Daily Kitchen

Decadent Pesto Pâté

September 13, 2015

I could eat Pesto sauce all day long, but I tire of having it on wheaty, fattening pasta. So I am always trying to come up with other ways to give my food the delicious taste of pesto sauce, such as tossing it with vegetables (try cauliflower or zucchini) or using it as a sandwich spread on wraps or break. But as I said, this gets boring.

I am a hedonist; I do not do well with deprivation.  I wanted be able to eat something rich and smooth, something I could enjoy in the same way I used to savor a silky liver pâté, or dig a petite knife into a ripened, warm, gooey, pungent  Brie, but without the meat or dairy.  In other words, I want a low-carb Pesto decadence and I found a way to have it!

I came up with this delicious and satisfying Pesto Pâté, good enough to serve to company.

Here is how I prepare it.

Dedadent Pesto Pâté

In a food processor (mine is only a tine $10 food chopper) add:

  • 2 Cups fresh basil, tightly packed (or 3 cups loose leaves)
  • 1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil, best quality
  • 3 Garlic teeth/cloves (or 3, 1/2 tsp crushed garlic from the jar)
  • 1  Tsp freshly squeezed lemon or citrus
  • 1/4 Tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 Tsp salt

Process the above by pulsing until reduced … but not puréed!
Fancy food processors might mince too finely, so go bit by bit.  You do not want this to be soupy, but rather you want it chunky while still spreadable. Think about cutting hair; once cut, you can’t put it back,  but you can always cut more. So take your time and before you think your are there…
… This is when you want to add:

1 Cup whole, salted cashew nuts (if using unsalted, you’ll need to add more sale to the mix)
1 Cup grated Parmesan cheese (Vegan? Use a cheese substitute).

  • Process until the mixture is chunky but still spreadable. 
  • Taste it. If you want a tad more lemon, or cheese, or salt, just adjust until your taste buds are dancing.
  • Now, pack your mixture into any container and either freeze this…  or chill.

SERVING:
If frozen, just set the container on the counter for a few hours counter until you can tip it, intact, onto your platter.

If refrigerated, tip & scoop onto your serving platter. Don’t worry if the shape comes out goofy because this mix is malleable and easily sculpted after it is on the plate.
Keep refrigerated on the platter until you are ready to serve. Then place your crackers at the last minute.

TIPS:

  • If you are Vegan, omit the Parmesan and replace with a vegan option.
  • Gluten Free? Just find a good rice cracker in place of wheat.
  • Slice large pieces of tomato or zucchini and use these in place of crackers for spreading.

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My Daily Kitchen

So Easy… Dill Goat Cheese!

August 29, 2015

I purchased a quart of fresh goat’s milk at the market and decided to make my own flavored  cheese. It was astonishingly simple to do…a nearly effortless process, and the result was delicious, subtle flavored with dill and pepper. Plus, the process gave me control over the amount of salt I wanted to use.

DO NOT BE DAUNTED by the list below. I have outlined each step I took. It is easy, easy, easy. The entire process took me maybe 15 minutes.

Goat’s milk is generally considered to be beneficial in ways that cow’s milk is not. For a list of benefits CLICK.

Now you can make your own flavored cheese. I chose Dill because I had some, and it’s light and versatile.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN GOAT CHEESE

  • Pour  1 quart or liter of fresh Goat Milk into a saucepan. Add to this:
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of finely chopped, fresh Dill
  • 1 Teaspoon of good quality salt (or less, just to your taste).
  • Shake in about 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • Stirring, bring the mixture to near boiling. The surface will develop small, foamy bubbles and the pan will emit sweet smelling steam. Avoid a rolling boil.
  • Turn off the fire.
  • Now for the magic!  Right into your hot milk & herb mixture, add 1 Tablespoon of White Vinegar, or fresh citrus.
  • Stir a few times and walk away for a few minutes. (Your milk will curdle and the whey will separate.)
  • Find a nice bowl over which you can securely set a strainer.
  • Line your strainer with a large coffee filter
  • Spoon or pour all your mixture, liquid and all, over the filter.
  • Let sit & drain until all the liquid is gone and only the firm white cheese remains.
  • Scoop this dryer into a new, clean coffee filter & gently squeeze into a small ball.
  • Set the wrapped ball on a little dish, like the one below. Now set another dish on top, for weight.
  • Leave this in the refrigerator overnight or until chilled & firm
  • Voila! You have an easy, nice, tasty and firm cheese.

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TIPS:  Eat it sliced on crackers, or sprinkle it atop an omelette. Add it to sandwishes or garnish soups with it. Sprinkle it or arrange nice slices on your next healthy salad.

This is a super fun project to do with kids!

My Daily Kitchen

Delicious Power Salad…Hold the Dressing!

August 20, 2015

There are no rules to my salads except one: I never use store-bought dressing. In fact, I hardly use any oils at all, even the healthy ones.

You can throw anything you want into your salad, but the more super foods you can add, the more your salad becomes an energy-sustaining meal, instead of a light side dish or starter.

Denser food items will keep you feeling full longer and smooth out blood sugar levels longer. By the way, there is very little oil in this salad, making it heart-healthy.

2 STEPS TO PUTTING IT TOGETHER

  • First, I grab a  couple of handfuls of already washed, very dark, leafy lettuces.
    Generally speaking, the darker the green,  the higher the nutrient content.
    I added arugula, which I try to keep on hand. Also, you can sneak in your beet tops. See BEET NOTES, below.
  • Next, I tossed in just few shakes of my favorite seasoned salt (here, I used Lemon Pepper, but sometimes I use Cajun Seasoning, or Cavender’s, or Lawry’s.  Whether you have Dollar Store spices, or fancy mixes from boutique or organic vendors, surely you have some favorite seasonings. Use them. Sprinkle in a little at a time.)
  • Next, I squeezed in about a teaspoon of lemon juice, since I used only a few handfuls of lettuce.
  • Then, and here is the surprise, I added only two or three shakes of extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil.

With these ingredients in my large bowl, I use my favorite Dollar Store scissors to cut (right hand) and spin the bowl (left hand) which chops and incorporates the lettuces, lemon, oil and seasoning.

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Now,  cover a dinner plate with this tossed, seasoned and chopped lettuce mix.

Separately, chop and set aside these ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of loosely chopped, Roasted Walnuts
  • 1/4 cup ripe Avocado
  • 1/4 cup sliced, sweet Plantain
  • 1/4 cubed, ripe Tomato
  • 1/4 cup sliced, then cubed Artichoke hearts, from a can.
  • 1/4 cut fresh (boiled earlier) beets. *See note below on beets!
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced Onion, white or red.

Arrange these remaining ingredients around your lettuce in a way that appeals. Start with the darker items, like the beets, which will serve as a nice backdrop to offset the lighter items, such as plantain, avacado, tomato.
Onions and walnuts go on last.

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TIPS:  If you really can’t wrap your head around beets, or think you can trick your family into them,  think about adding steamed carrots or heart of palm.

If you need more protein, go ahead and add a boiled egg or some lovely turkey breast. Grapes, raisens, apples, olives … and a little flax seed could also add some tang and substance.

DRESSING TIPS: Rather than douse your greens with oils, in addition to lemon and seasonings, toss in a bit of your artichoke, olive, or pickle juice. Squeeze in a spritz of orange or mandarin juice. Or pineapple. All these liquids can add zing to a dressing without adding oils!

*BEET TIPS: People routinely make the comment: “I hate beets.”
Maybe they do. Or maybe the think they do.
Beets are very nutritious and I think, misunderstood. If served right, they are a surprisingly beautiful addition to dishes. And sometimes easy to disguise!  Here are my beet tips:

  • Boil your own beetroot but not until squishy. When you use them in a salad, they will still have a firm feel, even a crunch. And they really tend to take on the flavor of your dressing.
  • Keep them cold, in their boiling juice, until ready to use
  • Chop them small and mix them into dark lettuce. People hardly notice.
  • SAVE the beet tops. The leaves are even more nutritious than the root and, you can chop these into your lettuces! Who will know?
  • Beets can be processed raw and are lovely when combined with onion, mandarin, even a little citrus rind.  Try them in a bowl with onion and Blue Cheese! Dreamy….
  • You can save and use the beautiful magenta juice in dressings, or even drink it.
Comfort Food

Vegan-Ease …with Spice!

August 16, 2015

Taro Root has a surprisingly creamy, buttery taste on it’s own.
So when you do add some zip, it’s even better.
Taro is an interesting and different alternative to the white potato, plus, it’s easier on your blood sugar load.

To Prepare Creamy, Spicy Taro

  • Peel 4 good sized taro roots
  • Cut them into chunks
  • Cover with water, about an inch
  • Toss in a full tablespoon of fresh, or dried, rosemary
  • Add a teaspoon of hot red pepper flakes
  • Add a teaspoon of salt to the pot
  • Boil together as you would potatoes, about 20 minutes, or until you can pierce a chuck with a fork.
  • Drain away the water and don’t worry that much of the Rosemary and Pepper Flakes will wash away. Enough will remain.
  • Stir in a spoonful of Earth  Balance butter substitute

TIP: This would be easily just as yummy with Fresh Parsley, but tossed in at the end, after the boiling is done. I would use about 1/4 cup.

Breakfast

Low-carb potato substitute!

July 20, 2015

Two foods I love to eat with scrambled eggs are sliced, cold tomatoes and, of course, potatoes. Any style will do, but sliced thin and fried in bacon greese is tasty.

Ah, but I’m eating low carb these days. So instead of potatoes, I sliced up some Chayote from my garden.

Chayote, eaten cooked or raw, has about 1/4 the carbohydrates of potatoes, but offers up the same amount of fibre.

For the Chayote:

Peel 1 medium or 2 very small Chayotes under running water.

  1. Slice the entire piece into sticks, seed included, or in any shape you desire.

Now toss into a very hot pan laced with your choice of oil: olive oil, healthy butter, coconut oil, bacon grease.

  1. Toss in 1/2  thinly sliced  Onion. (set aside rest for later)
  2. Sprinkle with salt & pepper

Cook on medium heat until they begin to bown a bit.
Now flip then and leave to brown all over stirring occasionally.

NOTE: Chayote do not take long to soften.

For some Flavorful ScrambledEggs: (2 Servings)

While the Chayote is cooking, get your eggs ready to scramble. Into a favorite bowl, crack 4-5 large,  free-range eggs and to these add:

  • 1 Teaspoon water per whole egg
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 8 Drops Sriracha hot sauce (or fewer, but you will hardly notice the heat.)
  • Whisk this mixture up well
  • Chop 1 a cup of Broccoli into very small pieces.
  • Finely chop the other half of the onion
  • Toss broccoli & onion into a hot frying pan laced with hot oil or bacon grease or butter of choice and sautee for 1 minute.
  • Add your entire egg mixture right on top of you broccoli & onion, stir to incorporate, and wait until the layer begins to bubble. Then slowly draw the edges in toward the center to make a fluffy scramble. I like mine on the soft side, but plate up when they’re done your way.

Plate your eggs.
Garnish with Fresh Cilantro or Fresh Parsley or Chive.
Scoop on a healthy spoonful of your browned & seasoned Chayote sticks.
Crown your place with soe beautiful, sliced tomatoes & sprinkle with some seasoned salt.
Now dig in! You won’t miss the potatoes and your carb count will be low!

To you with Love & Butter, Elizabeth

 

 

 

Main Dishes

A new way to serve Veggie sides

June 4, 2015

Instead of serving the usual side of steamed cauliflower, why not serve your main vegetable side as a pancake!
Cauliflower
Cakes:

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You can toss all your ingredients, all at once, into a bowl, as in the photo.

  • 1 Cup of Cauliflower, processed into rice-size morsels
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 Cup Gluten-Free Baking Mix
  • 1/2 Cup of Pesto Sauce
  • 1/3 Cup milk, or enough to blend into pancake consistency
  • Salt & Pepper to taste.

Mix all ingredients together in the bowl until completely blended.
If your mix is too dry, add milk. If too wet, add some more Baking Mix.

Heat 1 Tablespoon of Clarified Butter OR Coconut Oil OR Olive Oil and then spoon into a hot frying pan.  Cover pan and immediately reduce heat to low.  When pancakes are solid enough to flip, turn them and cook the other side for about 1 minute, or until done.

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Tip: For a little zing, add about 5 drops of Sirracha or favorite hot sauce.

My Daily Kitchen

Jazz up Quinoa!

May 18, 2015
  1. I love, love, love white rice, but bleached, white rice is not the healthiest way to go, especially for those with nsulin resistance, or worse, diabetes.

Quinoa to the rescue!  (pronounced Keen-wah.) Oh, Quinoa … let me count the ways and the whys that I love thee!

Being technically a seed, Quinoa  is free of gluten. Not only that, it’s packed with 5 grams of fiber, which makes it a healthier carbohydrate choice for low-carb. eaters.  It also has a good amount of protein and it’s full of nutrients like manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, B-vitamins, and more. Quinoa is simply a super easy, super-food!

Preparing Basic Quinoa is as easy as… rice!

  1. Fill a pot with 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa (for example, 2 cups of water to 1 cup of rinsed Quinoa.  Most purchased quinoa s already rinsed for you, but if it does not specify rinsed on the packaging, then rinse).
  2. Bring water and quinoa to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.
  3. Cover with a good lid, and walk away for 15-20 minutes.  When the seeds “pop,” your quinoa is cooked!
  4. You may leave the lid on. You do not need to refrigerate right away.

Here are a few tricks I like to use for jazzing up my Quinoa side dishes.

  1. Adding a small portion of rice makes a big difference in the “fluff” factor and also make this more expensive food item last a bit longer.  This little tip is also  great for kid,s like mine, who have grown up where rice is a staple at most meals.  They can be used to the texture and resistant to eating the healthier seed.Here is what I do: I sneak in 1 part rice to 3 parts Quinoa. You can use more or less according to your liking & also your pocketbook, but I use about 1/4 cup white rice to 3/4 cup Quinoa. Because the two ingredients are cooked in the same manner, you don’t need to do anything special. Your Quinoa will come out fluffier, and you and your eaters will enjoy all the health benefits of a healthy carb. without the guilt!
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    3 parts quinoa to 1 part white rice.

    Note:  If you prefer to mix your Quinoa with whole-grain, brown rice, simply add the Quinoa to your pot 15 minutes before the brown rice is cooked to completion. Par boiled brown rice cooks up in about the same time as white rice, but whole grain, uncooked brown rice can take as long as 40 minutes! Quinoa never takes that long, so be aware of the timing.

  2. For Super Healthy Quinoa, chop a small head, or half of a large head, of cauliflower in a food processor until the cauliflower bits are the size of large bread crumbs.When your Quinoa/Rice is 3 – 5 minutes from completion, just add a cup or a cup and a half of chopped cauliflower right on top, replace the lid, and let the cauliflower steam up with the rice/quinoa mixure!  Once your stove is off, and your quinoa/rice has sat a few minutes, you can mix gently with a spoon to fully incorporate all the ingredients.
    Note: Your children will not notice the cauliflower, as you can see in the photo!

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    Quinoa w/1/4 rice & lots of cauliflower!

  3. Jazz up the flavor by cooking  your quinoa or quinoa/rice in stock. Use chicken for meat-
    eaters, or vegetable for the non-meat eaters!
  4. Add 1 or 2 whole teeth of garlic to your liquid, and remove when the dish is cooked.
  5. Go ahead and experiment, adding other, colorful chopped vegetables to your dish. When  using carrots or longer-cooking veggies, just add them 1o minutes into the cooking so they have enough time to steam up to a softer texture.
  6. Store your cooked Quinoa or Rice/Quinoa in the fridge. Then heat up when you need it. I like to warm it for breakfast and serve with a poached egg on top.
  7. Treat it as if it were rice. Below, Quinoa with 1/4 white rice & Cauliflower, Prawns in Ghee with garlic & lemon, on salad.

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    Quinoa w/1/4 rice, 1/3 cauliflower; Prawns sauteed in ghee w/garlic & lemon, atop a salad.

 

 

My Daily Kitchen

Zingy, Savory Zucchini Pancakes

May 2, 2015

imageThis recipe is not like my prior, Vegan Zucchini Cakes. This one is really a pancake.
These pancakes are without dairy, gluten and low in fat. They are also vegetarian and what I call “almost Vegan.” They have eggs and a little milk. I personally no qualms about eggs,  but only because I have access to really good backyard eggs where the hens roam and peck happily for hours.  Also, I know some of the dairy farms that supply the milk I purchase. 

For this recipe, I used a handy,Gluten-Free mix and a touch of Butter Substitute, pictured below.
Feel free to use your favorite products.

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Recipe

1 Cup Grated Zucchini (I shredded one large zucchini with a hand grater.)
1 Onion, finely diced
4 Eggs
1 Cup Gluten-Free Pancake Mix (you can add a little more later if the batter is too loose).
Salt & Pepper to taste
6 Small drops of Sriracha Sauce (hardly noticeable, even to kids, but adds a bit of zing).
1 Tsp.  lemon juice (no more ) .

Mix above ingredients together until well blended.
Now, slowly add some milk starting with a half cup. Go Slowly! Use only enough until you achieve the desired consistency of your batter for pouring or spooning a regular batter into a hot pan.
TIP: If you added too much, don’t worry — just sprinkle in a bit more flour mix!

  • Pour or ladle into a hot pan or griddle prepared with either a Butter Substitute or Olive Oil.
  • Immediately reduce heat to medium-low.
  • Cook several minutes on the first side, until the uncooked side is bubbling and you can flip the cake without the uncooked portion sliding or spilling.Top with a dab of Butter Substitute and devour!

 

 

 

 

Comfort Food

Easy Veggie Comfort

April 22, 2015

I often feel that if I eat vegetarian or vegan, I’m going to be left wanting. I have nothing against the raw food champions, but me? I like my food warm and creamy.

This dish not only fills the comfort-food bill, it fills you up and it does so without dairy or meat. It’s vegetarian healthy (vegan if you use a pesto that does not include Parmesian).

Serve up a large bowl for lunch, or serve it as a side dish to a main course.

Mushroom Comfort

Lace the bottom of a your favorite frying or sauté pan with 1-2 tbsp. coconut oil (or substitute cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil, or half & half, mixing the oils), and heat.

Add to the pan, and  in this order:
2 Teeth garlic, minced
1 Medium onion, thinly sliced
Sautee onion and garlic about a minute, then add in:
2 Cups sliced mushrooms (any kind)
2 Cups sliced zucchini (I cut half-moons to match the mushroom shapes).
Salt & Pepper to taste.

Sauté together until the mushrooms are soft, but not limp,  and the zuchini is softening, but not going clear. You want it to hold a little firmness.

Add 3 tbsp of your favorite home-made or jarred Pesto (vegans, you will want to use a pesto that huses a substitute for the Parmesian cheese or incorporates extra nuts and basil).

Stir together until hot and then… add the juice of 1/2 a lemon.
This is going to really give the dish some zing and bring out the flavors.

Vegetarians and meat-eaters, top with grated Parmesian.
Vegans, opt out of the cheese and top with toasted nuts.

 

Comfort Food

Pesto Pasta “Fake Out!”

April 13, 2015

This dis has it all: Gluten- and Grain-free, fits Paleo, Vegan & Veggie. But meat-lovers won’t be let down.

I adore Pesto. I could eat it with a spoon  (in my nightie, sneaking a late-night taste by the romantic light of the refrigerator…)

For those of us who are avoid carbohydratess such as  pasta, or all the “white” yummy things that keep the sugar up and those extra pounds clinging to our frames, there is salvation!

I don’t like moderation, so you can imagine how I  handle deprivation.
Ah… but there is a way to have your Pesto  with a pasta feel… sans the guilt and the carbs.  Zoodles! Or zuchini noodles, also known as zuchini spaghetti, or zuchini pasta/noodles.  Serve it up as a main dish, or a yummy side. It’s also a fun way to get some veggies into the kids.  (Kids love Pesto!)

For the Fake-Out Pasta
2 Cups zuchinni, sliced into thin slivers, or julienned (you can purchase a “spiralizer” or noodle maker online. I like the Zen feel of slicing.)
1 Pot of boiling water, enough to take the zuchinni
Have a saucepan ready on the stove. warmed & with a pad of butter or a shake of Olive Oil
Have a strainer handy, near your sink
Blanch your zuchinni for only about 2 minutes in the boiling water, till the strands are limp but still have a tad of firmness.
Drain & strain in the sink. You can store these in the refrigerator for later, or use them right away, as follows:

Simply plunk all those lovely, soft zuchinni “noodles”  straight into your warming saucepan, the butter or oil having already been melted.
Using a fork, gently toss as you stir in in 4 tablespoons of Pesto (recipe below, or use a good jarred brand).

Options:
I topped mine, seen in the photo, with some tarragon & tarragon flowers. I enjoy the licorice-like flavor combined with the basil from the Pesto. You might want to top yours with some toasted Pine Nuts or Walnuts?  Some chopped Tomatoes could be nice, don’t you think? And the cool mixed with the warm would be interesting.  If you are not Vegan or Paleo, you can sprinkle on some grated Parmesian.  Salt & Pepper to taste, and dig in.

Oh, and hey, it’s zuchinni, so have some more!

Pesto, My Way
In a food processor, blender, or using a hand-blender, process:

2 Cups packed, fresh basil leaves
3 Teeth garlic, smashed
1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 – 1/3 Cup Olive Oil (or drizzle in a little more if you see you need it when you start blending)
1/3 Cup Walnuts, lightly toasted (or Pine Nuts, which is traditional)
Juice 1/4 Lemon
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Tip: If you find you don’t have quite enough sauce, you can make it “stretch,” do this:  just before serving , add to your Pesto 1/2 cup boiling water and 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese (not you, Vegans!).

Tip: Break the rules: don’t be married to using only the traditional Pine Nuts. I have gotten quite used to Walnuts, and I think it would be interesting to experiment with other nuts you have handy, such as Brazil or Pecan.( But not peanuts.)