Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Roasted Curry Cauliflower with Quinoa & Cashews

This recipe for Roasted Curry Cauliflower with Quinoa & Cashews is part of a plan to wake myself up from a "bad habit" coma. Somewhere around September or October the health conscious part of me went into a deep dark sleep. When I woke up, I was standing in a poorly lit dressing room in Macy's, struggling to get a pair of new jeans over my wide ass. The trendy denims were a size I was convinced would be my new "fat" pants and yet they wouldn't even zip. As I sat down on the tiny bench and let the tears pour down my face (while cursing myself for being so shallow), I tried to put my proverbial positive spin on things.

1- This is a wake-up call (wish I could hit the snooze button, now.)

2- I should feel thankful. (I've got legs and arms...and eyes...and hair...and at least I HAVE an ass, right?)

3- I didn't need to spend money on new jeans anyway. I have a closet full of clothes that I'm not wearing (oh yeah, cause they don't fit anymore.)

4- I think designers are changing the size numbers on clothes these days (oh, but wouldn't they make them go the other way?)

5- Maybe this is just my best, and I should accept myself (except I'm also tired, not focused, and by the way, I'm crying in a friggin' department store dressing room. That is not a sign of a healthy body and healthy mind.)
I told the weepy mess of me (three of me, thanks to those stupid "see all of you" mirrors) that I had two choices. They're the same two choices I always have for everything. I can give-up, give-in and not give-a-crap or I can do something about it.

I've never believed in diets that cut out food groups, and I think our food industry is killing us with chemically enhanced, high sugared "low-fat, not real" foods. I believe in the science of burning more fuel than you take in, and balance in all things.

I love all foods. I love creating recipes, baking, cooking, and challenging myself to create specialty treats. I will not stop cooking and serving those things that make me happy (and some other folks around me, too.) I need balance, more conscious eating, and a return to my exercising/dancing/moving and energetic lifestyle.
One exciting way to get more greens into my day is by blending some of the top nutrient greens into a fruity smoothie for the morning. A local blogger friend, Erika, is working on her own plan for a healthier life and she posted about this recipe: The Green Smoothie.

Both my husband and I have been drinking these several times a week along with taking 4 mile walks, going to bed earlier (instead of 3am) and drinking more water.
Another way to add balance is by making sure I have good foods in the fridge to choose. I grew up thinking I didn't like Cauliflower (maybe you're the same) until I roasted it. The flavor mellows out, becomes naturally sweeter with a toasty base. When you add a little Curry, a few crunchy cashews, the ancient and perfect grain of Quinoa (Keen-Wha) and a tangy spritz of lemon juice you end up with a full flavored lunch/dinner/snack that keeps well when chilled.The next thing I make will probably be some kind of chocolate treat, or a cheesy casserole, but you can bet I'll be eating a regular portion and balance it with a heart pumping workout. I'm awake from the coma, and I'm going back into that dressing room in a few weeks and face those mirrors head-on.

Balance. It's always about balance, for me.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope your health is at its best and the mirror is always grinning back at you. :D

Recipe: Roasted Curry Cauliflower with Quinoa & Cashews

1 Medium Cauliflower (cut into bite-size florets)

2 Tbls. Olive Oil

1/2 cup unsalted Cashews

1 teaspoon Curry Powder

pinch of salt/pepper
1 cup Quinoa (I used Red Quinoa)

1 1/2 cup Vegetable Stock (or you could use water)

1/4 cup Scallions (chopped including some green)

1 small Lemon zest and juice

Preheat Oven 350F

1) Spread the Cauliflower florets onto a parchment lined baking sheet, drizzle with oil and roast in oven for 15 minutes.

2) Add the cashews to the baking sheet and sprinkle the curry powder over all of it. Toss to coat with a spatula and return the pan to the oven for another 10 minutes. Hold for later.

3) While the Cauliflower is cooking, add the vegetable stock to a sauce pan and pour in the Quinoa and a good pinch of salt. Heat on Med/High to boiling. Reduce heat to low, cover and allow to cook until all the liquid has been used and the Quinoa has sprouted (about 20 minutes.)

4) Fluff the Quinoa with a fork, and allow it to cool for a few minutes.

5) Add the Quinoa and the Cauliflower with cashews together and toss to combine.

6) Add the chopped scallions, salt and pepper to taste. Then lightly toss in the lemon zest and squeeze the juice over the whole dish. Toss and serve or refrigerate for later. The flavors combine and are even better the next day.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Cookies - 4 Ingredients - Simple Saturday and Gluten Free

My teen son named these "Pumpkin Pie Cookies" because they taste just like a slice of Pumpkin Pie (without the pastry.) They're spongy and light, just like the custard filling in a creamy Pumpkin Pie. They couldn't be easier to make and they pair really well with a cup of hot tea, cocoa or (for the adults) a quick shot of cozy brandy. This recipe uses only 4 ingredients: Pumpkin puree, brown sugar, eggs and pumpkin pie spice with salt.
They're naturally gluten free and packed with the vitamins of pure pumpkin and cage free eggs.
Feel free to try other spice blends with them, too. I loved them with a sprinkle of Garam Masala.
Because they're so light and small, they make easy "pop-in-your-mouth" Pumpkin Whoopie pies using Cinnamon Cream Cheese filling for the middle. It's like a slice of pumpkin pie, without the need of a pie shell, and in a take-along shape. They may remind you of my Easiest Nutella Cookies - 2 ingredients (here.)

I hope you enjoy baking and eating these Pumpkin Pie Cookies. Thanks for stopping by.

Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Cookies - 4 Ingredients

3/4 cup Organic Pumpkin Puree

2 eggs

1/3 cup Brown Sugar

1 Teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice and a Dash of Salt

(or make your own spice blend of 1/2 tsp Cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. ground cloves and a dash of salt)

1) Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together rapidly for about a minute to fully incorporate the eggs and pumpkin blend.

2) Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a silpat (or parchment paper) covered baking sheet.

3) Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 13-15 minutes. Turn the pan about half-way through the baking time for even heating. Let cool on the pan and remove with a spatula.

**Optional - garnish with cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar icing.

Recipe: Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling

3 oz. Cream Cheese (soft)
1-2 cups Powdered Sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon

1) In a small bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, cinnamon and 1 cup of powdered sugar.
2) Add more powdered sugar as needed for taste and spreading.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Beer Braised Brussel Sprouts with Apples for Food Network "Pull Up A Chair"

I'm bringing these Beer Braised Brussel Sprouts with Apples to the Food Network's Virtual Thanksgiving Meal. It's a Communal Table online, so Pull up a Chair. I mean I'd love to have you join in, and also that's the name of the event, "Pull Up A Chair". Then, check out the entire menu for Food Network's Communal Table (below.)(the secret is browning the Brussel Sprouts first)

Along with giving you the recipe for this smokey sweet way to serve these petite cabbages, you'll also find links to just about any recipe idea for Thanksgiving you could ever want.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday and I could eat Turkey and Dressing about 7 times a week any time of the year. One of my grandmothers used to raise turkeys on her farm. When November came around I imagine there was extra gobbling and throat swallowing in the pen as all the turkeys felt the extra long gazes during the regular feeding time.

My mom taught me how to roast a turkey and always made an extra pan of dressing just for the leftovers the next day. Her mom had a true talent for gravy and her tip was: brown the flour in a cast iron skillet before adding the fat and stock. Her gravy was toasty brown and she knew better than to tell me what giblets were until I was a little older.(The Apples add just the right amount of sweet to the caramelized greens)

Over the years with my children we made pine cone turkeys for place holders, and construction paper Pilgrim Hats, and Paper Mache Cornucopias. Now that my youngest is a teenager, our family of 6 plan other projects.

One year, we created a giant wall art that each person participated in (and it still hangs in my dining room.) Another year, we each brought items to fill boxes for sending to soldiers stationed far from home.One year had a music theme and each person brought a CD, a record (yeah, can you imagine?), a video or a DVD of 2 favorite songs. We sat around the room as each person explained why they picked this song and then we listened to it. The choices ranged from my husband's favorite comedy album, my son-in-law's music from being a teen in Germany, a southern gospel song from my past, and others ending with my teen's favorite rap song. It was enlightening, to say the least, and we laughed our selves into exhaustion.
Last year, each person participated in the making of the meal. When they arrived there was a recipe card, an apron and all their ingredients ready to create their dish. I stood by for guidance, but let them create and tweak the dish as much as they wanted. We took pics of the dishes and played music, gave each other a hard time and ended the meal the way we always wrap up Thanksgiving. One at a time we talk about what we are thankful for this past year and our hopes for the next one ahead. It gets emotional. It feels important. I love it so much.
I also love these Brussel Sprouts. I know, I know - not everyone does, but I still believe it's because not everyone has eaten them prepared well. It would be hard to find a side dish with more benefits than this and they add a nice balance to the rich gravy, dressing and pies to follow.

Recipe: Beer Braised Brussel Sprouts with Apple

1 Bunch Brussel Sprouts (cleaned, cut in half and dry)
1 Tbls. Butter
1 Tbls. Olive Oil
1 Shallot (minced)
1 Apple (peeled, cored and cubed)
1 Amber Ale, or other favorite Beer

1) Heat a skillet over med/high with butter and oil combined.
2) When the oil/butter is hot, add the brussel sprouts without crowding, cut side down. Allow to brown for a minute or so, then turn each one over to brown on other side.

3) Using tongs, remove the browned Brussel Sprouts to a dish for holding.
4) Reduce heat and add the minced shallot, stirring, for about 2 minutes or until tender.
5) Deglaze the pan, by pouring in 1/4 cup of the beer and stirring to release all the flavor.

6) Return the Brussel Sprouts to the pan, add the apple cubes and the rest of the beer.

7) Bring the heat to boil, then cover and turn down the heat to low. Braise for 12-15 minutes.
8) Remove the Brussel Sprouts and Apple with slotted spoon. You can serve like that, or drizzle with sauce, or continue heating the sauce on High for a couple minutes until it is reduced and thicker for serving over the greens.
A sincere Happy Thanksgiving to all who stop by here and my deep wishes for a peaceful year~

Here's the whole gang with a giant table's worth of recipes:

Cocktails, Appetizers, Soups and Salads:
Eat Be Mary: She’s Mulling It Over Wine
Cookistry: Bread With Ancient Grains
Celebrity Chefs and Their Gardens: The American Hotel Peconic Clam Chowder
Picky Eater Blog: Butternut Squash Soup With Thyme and Parmesan
Good Food Good Friends: Mushroom Soup

Mains: Grilled Quail with a Warm Beet, Frisée, and Pistachio Salad
She Wears Many Hats: Mayonnaise Roasted Turkey

Living Mostly Meatless: Vegan-Friendly Corn Casserole
Healthy Green Kitchen: Red Kuri Squash Pie
The Naptime Chef: Crispy Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes
Gluten-Free Blondie: Apple and Cranberry Studded Stuffing
Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat: Blue Cheese and Rosemary Celebration Potatoes
Burnt Lumpia: Turkey, Sweet Potato and Cranberry Empanadas
Panfusine: Pan Fried Polenta Seasoned With Cumin, Ginger & Black Pepper
Homemade Cravings: Warm Brussels Sprouts and Cranberry Slaw
Bakeaholic Mama: Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Crispy Prosciutto
Show Food Chef: Beer-Braised Brussels Sprouts
T’s Tasty Bits: Sweet Empanadas with Pumpkin and Lupini Beans Filling
The Amused Bouche Blog: Braised Kale
The Little Kitchen: How to Make the Perfect Mashed Potatoes

The Macaron Queen: Macaron Tower
Poet In The Pantry: Amaretto Apple Crisp
Farm Girl Gourmet: Pumpkin Coconut Panna Cotta
That’s Forking Good: Cinnamon Chip Pumpkin Blondies
Out of the Box Food: Out of the Box Food Maple Pumpkin Pie
Cake Baker 35: Orange Spiced Pumpkin Pie
Lisa Michele: Pumpkin, Pecan, Cheesecake Pie
Food For My Family: Buttermilk Custard Pear Pie
Simple Bites: Black-Bottom Maple Pumpkin Pie
A Cooks Nook: Swedish Apple Pie
Yakima Herald: Pretzel Jell-O Salad
How Does She: Three of Our Favorite Desserts
Dollhouse Bake Shoppe: Thanksgiving Candy Bar Name Plates
Sweet Fry: Pumpkin Latte
Tasty Trials: Spiced Apple Panna Cotta With Caramelized Apples and Caramel Sauce
An Uneducated Palate: Puff Pastry Apple Tart
Frugal Front Porch: Mini Cheaty Cheesecakes

Even more:
Kitchen Courses: Thanksgiving for Six People Under $60
A Curious Palate: The Communal Table

Friday, November 11, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Spicy Jelly - Rrrrrrr Rrrrrr

There is so much to love about this Roasted Red Pepper Jelly. It's just so versatile. It's sweet, like you'd expect from a jelly, but it also has a kick of spice, a tweak of tang and the earthiness of roasted bell peppers. And, just look at that color. Those sexy red velvet belles, comfortable and proud in every size and shape, come with their very own flirty curl top. They have a very seductive nature, which fits in well with the theme for today's Lets Lunch bunch (my online virtual lunch buddies.)This month's theme is Seduction and it just happens to fall on the date of 11/11/11. How powerful, passionate and perfect is that?
Blue Cheese Meat Balls
kissed with warm
Roasted Red Pepper Spicy Jelly

Today's theme was chosen as a celebration of a new book written by one of our Lets Lunch buddies, Mina Kahn. Check out her steamy romance novel - The Djinn's Dilemma. Then, have fun with all the links below (and also on twitter with #LetsLunch) to see all the great recipes with Seduction as the theme.

I roasted these fresh peppers in the oven on a sheet pan at 400F for about 20 minutes.
I covered them in plastic wrap, individually, for about 10 minutes. After that, I opened them up, seeded, chopped and pureed them in a blender.Sometimes these multi-lobed beauties are under-rated considering they contains tons of vitamin C, antioxidants and fiber. The red bell pepper does not contain the same ingredients as hot peppers, in fact it's usually a bit sweet and crunchy and blends well with many other vegetables, or just with a simple garnish.A luscious spoonful of Roasted Red Pepper Jelly (which is spiced up a bit with red pepper flakes) gives a nice little kick to a toasted goat cheese covered crostini, garnished with black sesame seeds. It makes a nice ruby accompaniment to chicken and can give a regular hamburger a reputation among your friends. Served with eggs, the whole plate looks like a party.Don't forget to check out these Lets Lunch Bunch Seduction themes:

Mina Kahn - Smokin' Seafood Soup (and a new book!)
Joe Yonan - Sword Fish Stew for Seduction
His With Hers - Seduce me Apple Cider Donuts
Hapa Mama - Spaghetti for Adults Only
Monday Morning Cooking Club - Seduction Food - Pavlova
Spicebox Travels - Way To A Man's Heart Stew

RECIPE: Roasted Red Pepper Jelly

1 1/2 cups (about 3-4 ) Roasted Peppers Puree
1 cup White Vinegar
1/2 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
2 cups Sugar
1 Pkt. liquid fruit pectin (3 oz.)

1) In a large deep pot: Heat Roasted Pepper Puree, vinegars, red pepper flakes and sugar over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.

2) Increase heat and bring to a boil for about 10 minutes.

3) Add pectin, bring to a boil, stirring for only 1 minute and remove from heat.

4) Pour into sterilized jars 1/4 inch from the top, and seal. Boil in hot water bath for 10 minutes, remove and let cool for 24 hours. You may also pour into sterilized jars, seal, allow to cool and keep in refrigerator for several weeks, or freezer for several months.

Here's to the magic of 11.11.11 until the next 100 years~

Saturday, November 5, 2011

T.O.S.S. Salad Dressing - Never Buy It Again - Simple Saturday

I can't remember the last time I bought a bottle of Salad Dressing. It's so easy to whip up a tangy/sweet vinaigrette with everyday ingredients - I can't see paying those prices, and especially considering the processed junk some of them contain. Here's what I use for Salad Dressings or Vinaigrette: T.O.S.S.T- is for Tang ( acidic ingredients like cider vinegar, lemon juice, grapefruit, flavored vinegars, wine, balsamic, even buttermilk.)O - is for Oil (it goes in last and can be flavorful Olive, Grapeseed, Regular oil with a touch of flavored oil or even butter/oil.)S- is for Sweet (it can be honey, brown sugar, molasses, home-made jams or jellies, organic juices.) The "sweet" rounds out the "tang" and can bring the fruity taste alive, or accent a peppery flavor or balance the salt. S- is for seasoning (it can be fresh like garlic or scallion and it can be a paste like Harissa or Dijon mustard. It can also be dry, like spices and ground nuts, pepper flakes or flavored salts.) The combination is all up to you, or you can keep it to one major flavor note.The order of combining ingredients is not hard, it's simply: Whisk in everything one at a time, saving the oil to last. Always whisk while drizzling in the oil, so an emulsion is formed and the individual flavors become thick while creating and forming one unified tasty sauce.Now that you have your very own unique and fresh vinaigrette or salad dressing, don't forget it can be used for a marinade or a heated glaze for meats and vegetables, too.Look at you - developing your own recipes. You may discover something worth bottling and gifting to friends (so, don't forget to write it down before you forget what you used.)
Of course, keep any unused vinaigrette or salad dressing in the refrigerator and expect them to last for a few days. Because the oils were freshly whisked and you didn't use any processed stabilizers or chemicals, the oil may separate or harden when chilled. Just leave it out for a few minutes and then shake in the container or whisk back into drizzle worthy shape.RECIPE GUIDELINES: Salad Dressing and Vinaigrette
(portions given make enough to serve salad for 4-6)

2 Tbls.
Tang (Balsamic, Vinegars, Citrus, Wine)
6 Tbls. (1/4 cup)
Oil (remember to add this last)
1 Tsp
1/2-1 Tsp
Seasoning (s)
(add salt/pepper as needed)

This is definitely a "Put-n-Taste" recipe. Use the seasonings and the sweet according to your own taste and a tiny bit of common sense. If you use Chipotle Chili powder as a seasoning, maybe start small and whisk in more according to how much water you want to drink to squelch that fire.

An easy example of one of my husband's favorites at home:

Cherry Chipotle Vinaigrette

2 Tbls Balsamic Vinegar with Cherry
1/2 teaspoon Chipotle Powder
1 tsp. homemade cherry jam
6 Tbls. Olive Oil

This makes 1/3 cup of dressing and easily covers an Arugula Salad with Fuyu Persimmon for 4-6, finished with Pecorino = giant smiles and empty salad bowls.
An easy Buttermilk Green Onion Dressing uses:

1 Tbls. White Wine Vinegar
1 Tbls. Buttermilk
1 tsp. chopped green onion
1 tsp. honey
6 Tbls. Olive Oil

This makes a creamy tang dressing that balances the bite of an endive salad and the richness of a fried egg on top with crispy bacon garnish. Now, that makes a great salad, or a whole meal.
I'd love to hear about your creations. Whisk on!