Saturday, December 1, 2012

Crazy Cake

When I have a craving for a homemade chocolate cake; this is my "go to" recipe.  This recipe has been around for many decades and has a "history" there are several variations, but this is the only way I have made it.  It may actually be the first "Vegan" recipe.  During World War I when rations were scarce an ingenious mom devised this recipe for her child's birthday cake.  It is one of the most moist and simplest cakes I know of.  I hope you enjoy it and share the recipe and making it with your children.  Enjoy  : )   -Noni

2      cups sugar
3      cups flour
2      teaspoons baking soda
1/2   cup cocoa
1      teaspoon salt
2      cups cold water (I use 1 cup cold water and 1 cup cold strong instant coffee)
2      tablespoons vinegar
2      teaspoons vanilla
3/4   cup oil

Preheat the oven to 350.
In a large mixing bowl, sift the dry ingredients together.  In a medium bowl; mix the remaining ingredients and add to the dry ingredients, stir with a wooden spoon until all lumps are gone, pour batter into a 9 X 13 baking dish and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the toothpick test comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

This cake is good served with a dollop of whipped cream, ice cream, frosting, or just plain.  It's still moist the following day (if it lasts that long).  Using coffee enhances the chocolate flavor.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Roasted Acorn Squash Rings

Last night was Wednesday night, usually dinner at my house with my son and his girl friend.  It's a wonderful time for me because they are my "testers" and are ardent fans of my cooking and baking.  Moving forward into my Autumn squash phase; I decided to make something venturesome with acorn squash.  I hadn't really planned a "dinner" so I asked them if they would like to have breakfast for dinner, they agreed with the plan. I had purchased bacon from the butcher for the first time in more years than I can remember and we planned on having bacon, the big apple pancake, and this recipe.  We all got excited as we began to discuss the dinner; or maybe it was just me who got excited, not sure about that (?)  Well, anyway we all participated in the preparation of dinner and fun was had by all.......So, for the recipe:

1         medium acorn squash
1/2      cup quinoa, cooked in 1 cup vegetable broth
1         tablespoon olive oil
1/2      large onion, diced
1         medium apple, diced
1/4      cup dried cranberries, chopped
2         tablespoons walnuts, chopped
1/3      cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1-2      teaspoons fresh sage, minced
1         egg, whisked
2         teaspoon butter, melted
2         teaspoons maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375.  Using olive oil mister; spray baking sheet.

Cut acorn squash in 2 inch rounds, remove seeds, and place on baking sheet.  Melt butter; mix with maple syrup and brush the top and sides of the squash, set aside.
Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat, add onion, cook for about 10 minutes or until it begins to brown, add apple, cook for about 5 minutes or until soft.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Combine quinoa, onion and apple mixture, cheese, walnuts, cranberries, egg, sage, and salt and pepper; mix well.  Fill each squash ring with as much mixture without overflowing.  Spray centers with cooking spray.  Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until tops are golden brown and squash is tender.  Enjoy   : )  -Noni

Monday, November 12, 2012

Quinoa Vegetable Mini Cups

I'm always on the look out for something to make that I can grab out of the freezer and quickly heat up when I run out of time and energy.  Since I rarely eat fast food and sometimes don't feel like eating what I had for dinner last night, it's good to have something in "reserve".  This recipe can have so many different variations; depending on what you have in your refrigerator and what type of grain,vegetables, spices, and cheeses you prefer.  So this is what I made today based on what I had.

2      cups Quinoa, cooked
2      eggs
2      egg whites
1      cup sweet potato, cooked (you could use any squash variety; uncooked)
2      green onions (you could use regular onions, shallots, garlic, or none)
1/4   cup parsley
1      tablespoon fresh basil
1/4   teaspoon sage
1/2   cup chicken sausage, cooked (any cooked meat can be used)
1/2   cup cheddar/mozzarella, shredded (any cheese can be used)
1/4   cup ricotta
2      tablespoons fresh Romano, grated
A dash of Cayenne and garlic salt.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350.  Generously See how I made the font bold and underlined there?  It's because what I'm about to type next is very important to follow.  Generously grease mini muffin tins with cooking spray.  Okay, the truth is......I wasn't generous enough and some of my cute little mini's stuck to the bottom of the tin, so be generous, okay?!!!

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Season to your liking.  Spoon into each cup of the muffin tin and bake 15 to 20 minutes.  If you use larger muffin tins; adjust the time accordingly.  Cool on a wire rack at least 5 minutes before removing from the muffin tin.  Enjoy!  : )  -Noni

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Persimmon Cookies

My mother liked lots of fruits that I really didn't care for, like persimmons, papayas, guavas, mangoes, I really thought they were "yucky" and I think a lot of it had to do with the texture of the fruit and maybe the "muskiness" as well.  When I went to the farmer's market last Sunday; many of the booths has persimmons, one of them was passing out samples; so I asked the woman for a taste, to my surprise, it was delightful!  I asked her to choose two that were ripe and purchased them to take home and eat.  Once I got them home; fear set in, what was I going to do with them?  When my son came over for dinner on Wednesday night, I asked him if he would like me to cut one open to have for dinner; he hesitated and then declared that he wasn't sure that he liked them.  lol!  This morning I got up and after researching on the internet; still feeling reluctant; I cut open the softest one, it was a beautiful color, and very soft, gooey, and slimy on the inside.  I freaked out!!!  I cut open the other one and it was firm and a different color; it tasted good and the soft one tasted sweet and good as well.  I went on line to search for a recipe to try; most recipes were for persimmon pudding, which is really like a bread, after some searching, I found a cookie recipe to try.  And if you have been reading this blog, you know that I'm going to "tweak" it and change it up to suit my dietary style; which I did.  I substituted honey for the sugar; using 1/2 the amount and used 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour and 1 cup Oat Flour for the 2 cups AP Flour (you can use any combination of flours that you wish), other than that, I followed the recipe.  I loved the outcome, the cookies remind me of the islands because of the spices they are very nice with tea in the afternoon to satisfy your sweet tooth!  Enjoy!  : )    -Noni

2      ripe persimmons, pureed
1      teaspoon baking soda
1     cup whole wheat flour
1     cup oat flour
1/2   teaspoon cinnamon
1/2   teaspoon cloves
1/2   teaspoon nutmeg
1/2   teaspoon salt
1      egg
1/2   cup butter
1/2   cup honey
1      cup raisins
1      cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350

Dissolve baking soda in pureed persimmons and set aside.
Sift flours, spices, and salt together, set aside.
Cream honey and butter together, beat in egg, add persimmon.  Stir in dry ingredients.  Stir in nuts and raisins.
Drop by teaspoon onto greased baking pan.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Banana Nut Bread (My Way)

Banana Nut Bread is probably a recipe in almost every American's recipe box.  My mother thought hers was the best ( and I did too until I began making my own), I had a friend who cooked and baked on her country home wood stove and she could make some pretty mean banana nut bread.  I went through a phase of my bread machine banana nut bread recipe (not because it was good, but because it was easy!), and now I have found one that I think to date is probably the best.  I roll my eyes when I read a recipe where "puffy" chested  cooks declare that they add chocolate chips to their batter.  What????  It's banana nut bread, do people really believe that chocolate chips need to be added to EVERY recipe????  Really????  Anyway......Here's what I do:

I gather all my ingredients and set them on the counter for about an hour so that they are at room temperature (someone told me to, I have no idea why, I just do it, it seems to work).

1/2       cup butter, softened
1/4       cup molasses
1/4       cup pure maple syrup
2          tablespoons honey
2          large eggs
2          medium bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1/4       cup milk
2          teaspoons vanilla
2          cups flour (I use a combination of whole wheat, kamut, spelt, and oat)
1          teaspoon baking soda
1/2       teaspoon kosher salt
1/2       cup nuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350, grease your pan of choice ( I use a loaf pan), you can use muffin tins as well.

Cream together butter, molasses, syrup, and honey on low speed of a mixer until well combined, increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time until fully incorporated.  Add the bananas and blend on low until combined.  Add the milk and vanilla and mix just until combined.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together and add to the banana mixture, mix on medium speed until the mixture has come together and is thick and creamy, scraping the bowl to make sure all the flour mixture is incorporated into the banana mixture.  Add the nuts and pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 50 to 60 minutes if using a loaf pan.  If using muffin tins; check your time at 20 minutes and at 10 minute intervals thereafter.

Remove the pan from the oven and place the pan on wire rack to cool.  After 20 minutes, lay pan on it's side to cool for another 10 to 20 minutes before attempting to remove it from the pan.  I know, I know, your home is filled with the aroma of the delicious banana nut bread and you have already waited almost 2 hours, however, it will be worth it to allow the bread to cool enough to come out of the pan as a whole loaf!!!

Sauteed Fillet of Sole

This is a fast and easy fish recipe to fix when you are having guests for dinner.  Serve with a grain and a green vegetable and or a fresh green salad.

11/2      pounds fresh sole fillets
2          tablespoons olive oil
3          tablespoons shallots, minced
1/4       cup white wine
2          tablespoons butter
Fresh herbs (lime-thyme, mint, oregano or any fresh herb to your liking)
Minced fresh chives
Lemon wedges
Salt to taste

Pat the fillets dry with paper towels, let sit for a while and repeat.  Lightly salt the fillets on both sides.  Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, when the oil is hot, carefully add the fillets to the pan and gently brown on each side.  This should take only a few minutes; the fish is done when it's flaky and is no longer translucent. Remove the fillets from the pan and place on a warm plate.  Add the shallots to the pan, saute` until soft, deglaze the pan with the white wine and scrape up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan.  Add the butter, gently swirl to make a sauce, add the herbs and squeeze a little lemon juice into the sauce.  Spoon over the fillets and garnish with the fresh chives and a lemon wedge and serve.  Enjoy   : ) Noni

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Creamy Pumpkin Tomato Bisque Soup

On Sunday morning at 5:00 the queen (Bella) woke me up, and even though I attempted (and that is the operative word here, attempted) to coax her to stay in bed, she began to dance and sing (well, bark) that she was happy and wanted to get up and eat!!  So I schlepped into the kitchen to prepare my coffee and her breakfast; this week it was a special "cake".  While my coffee is brewing I'm in my head  formulating the list for my trek to the Sunday Farmer's Market; farm fresh fertile eggs, green leafy vegetables, apples, maybe some peaches, and some mushrooms.  I decided to puree the pumpkin that I roasted yesterday so that I can make some soup today and some other "pumpkiney" things, yet to be determined prior to heading out to the market since I'm up so early.  As I'm perusing the shelves and the door of my refrigerator, I realize that I have a box of tomato bisque soup that I have had two bowls from and now I need to "re-purpose" the left over soup.  Since I'm still having my Autumn love affair with pumpkins; I decided these two would be a nice combination.  After some other additions, several taste tests, and a dash of this and a dash of that, this is the finished product I came up with, and by the time it was all over and done with I had eaten my breakfast as well!!!  As I'm licking the last drop from my spoon, I check the clock on the stove and wonder where has the time gone?  I dash into the living room to put my lap top to "sleep" so that I can shower and get to the market and the time on my lap top is different than the time on the stove, (do you know where I'm going with this?) ah, yes, daylight savings time, we gained an hour overnight, just like magic, and Bella forgot to set the clocks back!!!  You see, to her it doesn't matter what time the clocks register, she knows what time it is, so her 5:00 was really a sleep in 'till 6:00.  It was a laughable start to the day.

1      tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2   onion, finely chopped
2      tablespoons maple syrup
2      tablespoons tomato paste
11/2  cups vegetable broth (you could use chicken broth)
2      cups pumpkin puree
11/2   cups tomato cream bisque soup (or regular tomato soup would be fine)
1/2   cup applesauce, mashed (my homemade, see the recipe posted earlier)
1      tablespoon fresh lime-thyme
1      teaspoon ground roasted garlic
11/2   teaspoon sea salt
1/4   teaspoon celery salt
dash of: cayenne, paprika, and coriander

In a soup pot over medium heat; add vegetable oil, when oil is hot, add onion and saute until onion is translucent, add tomato paste and maple syrup, stir well, add the broth, stir well, add the pumpkin, tomato soup, apple sauce, and seasonings, stir, cover, and simmer until all the flavors are incorporated.  Adjust the seasonings to your taste, puree the soup in a blender or food processor and serve.  Enjoy!  : )   -Noni

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Jamaican Grandmother's Bread Puddin

Now, let me tell ya, darlin, she didn't exactly make it dis way, but she woulda liked it.  : )  I will include my version of the butter rum sauce that she put on it, however, I don't do rum, and I try not to do sugar...... and you know all the rest.  So, my friends, if there are any out there reading this, snif snif ....if you don't like custard y bread puddin, don't read any further, cause you will not like this!

1       loaf of bread (I use sprouted grain bread)
1/2    cup butter
12     eggs
3       tablespoons vanilla
5       cups 1/2 & 1/2   or 2 1/2 cups cream and 2 1/2 cups milk  : )
1/2-1  cup sweetener (I use a combo of two of the following: honey, agave, or maple syrup) you can use sugar if you prefer
1       tablespoon cinnamon
1       teaspoon nutmeg
sprinkle of cardamon for the top prior to baking
1/4    cup each of nuts and dried fruit (I use combos like; almonds and cherries, raisins and walnuts, cranberries and pecans)  make up your own family favorite, or don't add any at all.

 Begin by toasting each piece of bread and buttering one side, then stacking each piece on top of the other so that the buttered side is touching the side you didn't butter, cut the bread into bite sized pieces and put into a large bowl, stew pot, or pan.  Everyone with me?  Okay.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Beat the eggs with the vanilla, add the sweetener, the cinnamon, and the nutmeg mix well, pour the egg mixture over the bread, fold the mixture making sure all the bread pieces are covered with the egg mixture.  Add the 1/2 & 1/2 and mix well. Let stand a few minutes for the bread to absorb some of the mixture.  You can bake this in a 9 x 13 baking dish (it's really full, so put a baking sheet under the pan as the bread "puffs up" during the baking) or you can use several different casserole dishes (like I do!).  Sprinkle the top with cardamon.  Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes depending on the size of your baking dish.  It's best to begin checking at about 60 minutes.  I use different dishes so that I can use different combinations of fruit and nuts, I fill the baking dishes and then add the fruit and nuts then I sprinkle additional cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamon on top before baking.

Vanilla Sauce

1/4      cup (here we go again) honey, maple syrup, agave, brown sugar, or what suits you
1/4      cup butter
1/4      cup heavy whipping cream
1         teaspoon vanilla (or almond or rum extract, or???)

In a small sauce pot; cook over medium heat; sweetener, butter, and cream  stirring occasionally until it begins to boil, remove from heat, add vanilla and serve over the bread pudding.  Enjoy   : )     -Noni

Friday, November 2, 2012

Gypsy Soup

This soup is a hearty soup for a cold fall or winter day.  It is complimented with homemade whole grain brown bread slathered (that must be a word) with creamy butter.  For sure a second helping is a must have a second or third (who's counting) piece of bread with honey on it and call it desert!!!

4      tablespoons olive oil
2      cups diced onions
1/2   cup chopped celery
2-4   cloves garlic, minced
2      cups pealed, diced sweet potatoes
2      teaspoons paprika
1      teaspoon turmeric
1      teaspoon dried basil
1      teaspoon salt
1      pinch cinnamon
1      pinch cayenne pepper
1      bay leaf
3      cups chicken or vegetable stock
1      tablespoon Tamari sauce (or regular soy sauce will do)
1      cup chopped fresh tomatoes
11/2  cups cooked garbanzo beans
3/4   cup chopped bell peppers

Heat stock pot over medium heat, add olive oil, when the oil is hot, add onion, celery, sweet potato, and garlic, saute for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent, season with the seasonings and stir to blend.  Stir in chicken stock and Tamari, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Add tomatoes, beans, and bell peppers and simmer for about 10 more minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.  Adjust the salt and pepper to taste and serve.  Enjoy!!  : )  -Noni

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

As promised, here is the recipe.  Yesterday is the first time I have made these muffins and they are worthy of  posting on the blog.  I found this recipe on line and.......that's right, I "tweaked" it to my liking.  As I usually add; you have the option to do the same.  These muffins are so moist and delish I ate one before it had completely cooled!!!  There are many cooks that believe there is no difference between canned pumpkin and fresh pumpkin and I have to say that I strongly disagree.  I purchased some organic canned pumpkin (not squash) this year and tried it in a recipe and I must say it was sub-par.  So my belief about anything canned being inferior remains intact.  You, however, must be the judge for yourself.  Preparing fresh pumpkin does take some time, so my suggestion is to do it on a cool autumn day so you can heat your kitchen with your oven; roast your pumpkin, roast several pumpkins at a time, as the pumpkin will freeze, then you have some on hand later.

For the muffins:

2 3/4      cups flour (I used a combination of whole wheat, spelt, kamut, and oat flours)
1/2         cups oats
4            tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
2            teaspoons baking soda
1            teaspoon baking powder
1            teaspoon salt (I used Kosher)
2            cups pumpkin puree (I used homemade)
1/2         cup brown sugar
3            tablespoons molasses
2 to 3     tablespoons maple syrup (sweeten to your taste)
1/3         cup vegetable oil
1/2         cup apple sauce
3            eggs
1            teaspoon vanilla

Whisk the first 5 ingredients in a bowl.  Whisk the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl.  Stir the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture.

For the Streusel:

1/2         cup brown sugar
4            tablespoons butter
4            tablespoons oats
4            tablespoons flour

Beat sugar and butter until smooth and creamy, whisk oats and flour with a fork into butter mixture until topping is crumbly.

Pour batter into lined muffin tins, sprinkle with streusel (I recommend gently pressing it in a little), bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick test is clean.  If you would like more sweetness you could top with a cream cheese frosting.  See the butter cream cheese frosting recipe posted in October 2012.  Happy Autumn!!!!!  : )  -Noni

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Creamer

It's November 1st and I have been all about pumpkin for about 2 weeks now and I have a co-worker who feels the same way I do this time of year.  So I am making this for her tonight, I made some muffins earlier today....... recipe to follow.  I bought a really cool bottle to take this to her in; and if I know Rebecca she will bring it back when it's empty for more!  : )

2 cups 1/2 & 1/2
4 tablespoons pumpkin puree
3 to 5 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
Note:  You can use more or less syrup depending on how sweet you want your creamer.  You can add more spice if you want more of the spicy flavor.

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, whisk all the ingredients together.  Heat until mixture begins to steam, stirring occasionally, remove from heat.  Pour creamer through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth and let cool.  Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container.  So, so, so good!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Big Apple Pancake

This recipe has several variations; however, this one is my favorite, I love apples and maybe that's why.  This is a nice breakfast to serve when you have guests, or to your family on special occasions, or on those winter mornings when everyone has slept in.  You can grate some cheese on top during the last few minutes of baking if you're feeling a little guilty, or add a dollop of yogurt, whipped cream, ice cream, or lemon curd on top or sprinkle it with powdered sugar, or a mixture of cinnamon sugar or if you want it sweeter prior to serving, or you can serve it plain hot right out of the oven.  The recipe does sound more complicated to make than it is, so I encourage you to try it and have some fun for breakfast, an early lunch, or dinner.

2 large or 3 medium apples, preferable tart like Granny Smith
4 tablespoons white sugar, divided
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
5 eggs

Heat oven to 400.  Peel, core, and cut apples into 1/4 inch thick slices, then cut slices into 1/2's or 1/3's; you should end up with about 3 cups of chopped apples.

In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon and ginger and set aside.

Cut the butter into pieces and place them in a deep cast iron skillet or an 8 x 8 baking dish in the oven for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the butter is melted.  Take the pan out of the oven and sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter, carefully place the apples over the brown sugar, sprinkle the sugar and spice mixture over the apples and place the pan back into the oven to caramelize the apples and sugar.

Whisk the flour and the remaining tablespoon of sugar, salt, and nutmeg.  Gradually add the milk, while whisking constantly with a large wire whisk to beat out any lumps.  When flour mixture is smooth, add the vanilla then the eggs one at a time; incorporating each egg into the mixture.  Beat for 2 minutes by hand until the mixture is foamy.  Let the batter rest for 5 minutes, by now the sugar should be bubbling around the apples.

Take the pan out of the oven and pour the batter over the apples.  Bake for 20 more minutes or until the center is set and the sides are lightly browned.  The pancake will puff up dramatically then fall after a few minutes of being out of the oven.

You can top the pancake with your choice of toppings or serve.  Enjoy!   : )   Noni

Homemade Applesauce~nothing but apples and spice, Baby!

I make homemade applesauce almost every week that apples are in season, and I freeze some so that I have it year round.  I would like to have an exact recipe for those of you that "need" to have precise recipes to follow, however, I do not have a precise recipe.  I encourage you to accept that you cannot in any way mess this up, please trust me on this!!!!  I use a variety of apples sometimes I mix the varieties, sometimes I use the variety that is most prevalent at the Farmer's market that week.  I do like to throw in some Granny Smith because I like to have some tart apples mixed in with the sweeter apples, like gala and pink ladies.  Some weeks; depending on time and energy I make large or small batches, so the number of apples I use may vary.  I like to peel my apples, however, you do not have to do so.  I use different spices; depending on my mood, you can use many or none depending on your taste.  As you can image; your options are endless!

6 to 20    apples; peeled, cored, sliced, and cut in inch sized pieces
1 to 2      teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 to 1   teaspoon ginger
1/2 to 1   teaspoon cloves
1/2 to 1   teaspoon allspice

Place apples in stock pot and cook over medium heat until the apples begin to sizzle, reduce to low and simmer until apples become soft, stirring occasionally.  Add spices and simmer another 10 to 20 minutes.  Using a potato masher gently mash apples, leaving some chunks and remove from heat.

A local "u-tuber" showed that she freezes her applesauce and uses a fork to "scrape" some of the applesauce off to sweeten her yogurt as a desert topping.  I mix my applesauce with my yogurt in the morning as part of my breakfast.  The applesauce will keep for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator (if it will last that long!).  I use the applesauce in baking, as many recipes call for applesauce in place of sweetener and oil.  I serve it as a desert when I don't have anything baked (which is rare, but it does happen).  Applesauce is a versatile staple to have.  I hope you enjoy this simple recipe.    : )   -MK  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tandoori Grilled Chicken Thighs

This is a dish that you want to plan ahead of time, as the chicken needs to marinate for at least 8 hours.  I love most of the flavors of Indian cuisine, and have been learning, well attempting to learn, to cook different cuisines the past few years.  East Indian foods have several of my favorite ingredients; chicken, lentils, yogurt (need I say it? yes, I use my homemade, because the "tang" just adds something special to this dish), and some of the nicest spices around the world.  The flavor of this chicken dish is no exception.  I serve it with lentils cooked in a vegetable stock with some green onions and greens thrown in, and sweet potatoes on the the side topped with butter and maple syrup.

16          chicken thighs (I use boneless and skinless, however, either way is okay)
6 to 12   ounces plain yogurt
1            teaspoon Kosher salt
1            teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2         teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
2            tablespoons freshly ground ginger
3            cloves garlic, minced
4            teaspoons paprika
2            teaspoons ground cumin
2            teaspoons cinnamon
2            teaspoons coriander
2            teaspoons garam masala

In a medium bowl stir together all the ingredients (except the chicken) until well blended. Rinse the chicken well under running cold water and pat dry with paper towels.  Put the chicken into a zip lock plastic bag and pour the mixture over the chicken, press the air out of the bag and seal.  Turn the bag over several times to ensure all the chicken is coated with the yogurt mixture, place in a dish in the refrigerator and marinate for at least 8 hours.  Throughout the time the chicken is marinating, turn the bag over to coat the chicken.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and wipe off any excess marinade with a paper towel.  Spray the chicken with oil and grill on each side for about 2 minutes or until golden brown.  Place a wire rack on a pan, remove the chicken from the grill and place on the wire rack, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the juices run clear.  Serve with whatever side dishes you choose to prepare and enjoy your meal.  BTW, this chicken is really good to eat cold the next day for lunch, or just a quick snack.  Enjoy      : )      Noni

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Peach Yogurt Cake

I know..........WHAT??????  First of all, let me start by saying that I don't live in Georgia, but if I did, it would be all about peaches and pecans!!!!  This cake is all about peaches and only a little about pecans.  : )  Let's talk about peaches.  I live in Northern California and shop for my fruits and nuts at my favorite local Sunday farmers market; it's the best, the growers come from at least a 50 mile radius and the crops are incredible!!!!  The peaches are rarely ripened, (how could they be???) they have to travel and they would be ruined by the time they arrived at market in the early morning after being picked the day before.  So even though I have been craving peaches all week; I know I will come home, put them in a paper bag, in a cool dark place for a few days while they ripen.  I will check them in maybe two days and possibly find one that I can eat and the rest will need a few more days to ripen!  I will take the ripened one out of the bag, hold it up to my nose and take in it's fresh sweet aroma, wash it gently in cool water, pat it dry, slice it thinly into a bowl, make some fresh whipping cream with vanilla and agave, and name it "breakfast". Two days later I check the bag, and "Lo and Behold!" at least 2 or 3 peaches have "bad" spots on them and they have over-ripened and now I must quickly decide what I'm to do with the remainder of the peaches.  Let's see.......hum......cobbler, crisp, freeze, tarts, pie, crumble, or ???????  So today I found this recipe for this cake and I thought why not, I guessed it, my homemade yogurt in the refrigerator, so why not combine the two.  And yes, I completely changed it up, from the flour, sugar, spices, well most of it, here's what I came up with and it was lovely.....  I was pleasantly surprised and delighted that the yogurt made the cake so light and fluffy, who knew?!!!  You could make a "drizzle" for the top of this cake and serve it warm, serve it with whipped cream, or frozen yogurt, or ice cream, or warm it for breakfast.   I mistakenly left in on the counter overnight and it was fine the next morning so it appears to not need refrigeration. Enjoy     : )

3        cups roughly chopped peaches
11/2   cups full fat yogurt
1/2     cup olive oil
1/3     cup honey
3        eggs
1/1/2  teaspoon vanilla
21/2   cups flour
21/2   teaspoons baking soda
1/2     teaspoon salt
1/2     teaspoon ginger
1/4     teaspoon cloves
1/4     teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9 inch springform pan with cooking spray or oil.
Mix together the yogurt, oil, honey, eggs, and vanilla until well blended.  In a separate bowl whisk together the dry ingredients, add to the yogurt mixture and mix until no large lumps remain.  Fold in peaches.  Pour into prepared pan, bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick test comes out clean.  Check cake at 40 minutes, if top is brown, cover with foil to prevent further browning.  Remove from oven and place on rack to cool, let cool at least 30 minutes before removing from pan (unspring at 20 minutes).  I cut up and dry roasted pecans on stove top to sprinkle on top of each piece of cake before serving.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pumpkin Custard for Pie Filling

I tried using organic pumpkin filling from a can, and no matter what "they" say, there is a HUGE difference!!! So I will buy fresh organic pumpkin from the local farmer's market, cut it, deseed (is that a word?) it, wash it, oven roast it, peel it, and puree it, any day for the delicious flavor it has.  I tried my darnedest to remember how much of each of these ingredients I used to make this "custard" so here goes, and again, you can add, deduct, and change this up to make it suit you...... Please keep in mind that I don't like my pumpkin pie very sweet, probably because I grew up in the south on sweet potato pie which is a whole different thing (more on that later), so you may decide to make it sweeter, or may decide to use white or brown sugar, I also have mine with whipping cream on top, again not too sweet, and sweetened with maple syrup.  : )

3      cups fresh pumpkin puree
3/4   cup heavy whipping cream
2      large eggs
1      tablespoon honey
1      scant tablespoon molasses
2      teaspoons vanilla
2      teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Add ingredients to food processor and puree until well combined, taste to determine if sweet enough or spicy enough, adjust accordingly.  Fill prepared shell (see recipe below).  Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, cool on wire rack.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pie Crust

This is a simple and easy pie crust recipe from one of my favorite and witty chefs; Chef John.  I used this recipe for a pumpkin pie today using only 1/2 of the recipe since the recipe is for a double crust.  I used a mixture of whole grain flours:  whole wheat pastry flour, oat flour, amaranth flour, almond flour, and spelt flour.  You can experiment with different flours and learn that some absorb more liquid than others and some have nuttier or earthier flavors than others; however, for me it can be a pleasant surprise when I discover a wonderful combination that becomes a "go to" recipe.

21/2      cups flour
1           cup unsalted butter - chilled, cut into tablespoon sized pieces
1/2        teaspoon salt
7           tablespoons ice water
1           tablespoon cider vinegar

Combine flour, salt, and butter in food processor.  Pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 1-second pulses.
Stir the ice water and vinegar in a small bowl.
Pour half the water and vinegar mixture into the flour mixture.  Pulse to combine, about 3 1-second pulses.  Pour in remaining water and vinegar mixture.  Pulse until mixture just starts to come together, about 8 1-second pulses.
Turn dough out onto a wooden floured surface, pat into round shape and divide into half, form each half into a disc; about 5 inches in width.  Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Bake at 350 20 to 30 minutes

Note:  If you use salted butter you can omit the salt from the dry ingredients.  I roll my dough out about 2 inches larger than my pie dish so that I can form a "fluted" crust.

Pizza Sauce

Are you feeling the theme here?  After the pizza dinner last night and having all those cut up left over morsels in the refrigerator just taking up valuable space......what else could I do except make something with all the "stuff"?????  So I thought about if I were to keep the pizza to a five ingredient simple pizza why not have a bunch of ingredients in a sauce?Then you could just add a meat and cheese and it could be really simple for those impromptu meals.  So here is what I came up with.

2      large beefsteak tomatoes, diced
1/2   leek finely chopped green top as well
2      cloves of garlic minced
1      tablespoon chives finely chopped
1/8   cup red pepper
1/4   cup olives, green and black; from Whole Foods olive bar
1      teaspoon pepper flakes
1      teaspoon fresh lime thyme, finely chopped
1      teaspoon fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1      teaspoon fresh basil, finely chopped
1      teaspoon ground sea salt
1      teaspoon ground pepper
1      teaspoon ground roasted garlic
1/2   teaspoon blue agave
1      teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Put in a sauce pot over medium heat and bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about an hour.  Strain using a sieve; it will store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for about 3 months.  I froze the juice to use as a stock to cook with my beans or grains.

Spelt, Rosemary, Ricotta Crust Pizza with various toppings

Two years ago I began to start using whole wheat flour again and began to use oat, rice, and rye flour as well, This year I am trying ways to introduce different grains and flours and to continue using various sweeteners in my baking and cooking.  Yesterday was my first day off my Phase III on the HCG diet and I decided I wanted to introduce grains before sugars so this pizza was a dinner my son, his girlfriend, and I put together last night.  As we were eating it, we were planning the next combination of toppings were would consider using.  The first pizza we made, we ladened it with large amounts of the following: (are you ready?) fresh tomatoes, black and green olives (from the olive bar at Whole Foods), artichoke hearts, granny smith apples (sliced ultra thin), leeks, sausage, portobello mushrooms, homemade creamy basil dressing, homemade yogurt cheese, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, Romano cheese, minced garlic, red peppers, and olive oil.  I feel as though I'm leaving something out...........  It was good.  My son declared that he would make the second pizza, he began with the creamy basil dressing, and added a small amount of each of the following: sausage, peppers, olives, garlic, and cheese.  It by far was superior!!!  This is a case where less is more.  So as we are eating it we are discussing a 5 ingredient pizza and at least 2 of the must haves are the homemade yogurt cheese  : )      (I'm telling you it's good stuff!!!) and the homemade creamy basil dressing (test it for yourself)

The crust:

2      cups whole grain spelt flour
2      teaspoons baking powder
3/4   teaspoons fine sea salt
1/2   teaspoon chopped rosemary (or amount to your taste)
1/2   teaspoon sugar
1      cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4   cup whole milk
2      tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1      large egg
coarse cornmeal, if using a pizza peel

Place flour, baking powder, salt, rosemary, and sugar in food processor and process for about 10 seconds.  In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, milk, olive oil, and egg with a fork or whisk until smooth.  Pour the ricotta mixture across the top of the flour mixture and pulse in 1 second intervals, just until a ball forms, 5 to 10 pulses.  The dough will be fairly moist.  Meanwhile, place a baking stone on a rack on the bottom shelf of the oven and preheat the oven to 425.  Liberally sprinkle a pizza peel with coarse corn meal.  Transfer the dough to a well floured work surface.  Lightly flour your hands and briefly knead 5 to 7 turns to get a smooth yet slightly tacky dough.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let sit a room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes to allow the bran in the flour to soften.  While the dough is resting you can chop your pizza toppings or chat with your family and friends!  Unwrap the dough, transfer to a lightly floured surface and cut into 2 pieces.  Keep 1 piece covered with the plastic wrap.  Lightly flour your hands and briefly kneed until smooth, 7 to 10 turns.  Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into an elongated pizza, 11 by 8 inches and about 1/4 inch thick.  Do this in stages, occasionally turning the dough over and rolling it out further, lightly flouring your work surface and the rolling pin each time.  Place the dough on the pizza peel.  Spread half of the topping (creamy basil dressing, sour cream, tomato paste, or whatever you choose to use) across the top leaving a 1/2 inch border.  Cover the top with the remainder of your toppings.  Brush the border with olive oil.  Slide the pizza onto the pizza stone and bake 15 minutes or until edges or golden brown.

Notes:  The pizza bakes best if the stone is put in a cold oven and preheated with the oven, also if the oven is at the baking temperature of 425 for at least 30 minutes and up to 60 minutes prior to cooking the pizza.  This is a fun family recipe, get everyone involved and make it a family night!!!!  Enjoy....MK   : )

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Roasted Pumpkin Coconut Curry Soup

4 to 4 1/2 pounds squash
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter
4 cloves garlic
4 small shallots
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger, from a 3-inch long piece
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon curry powder (or more to taste)
1 dried red chili, about 2 inches long (or red chili flakes)
One 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Juice of 1 lime, about 2 tablespoons
For topping:
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 small shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
Heat the oven to 400°F. Use a heavy, sharp knife or cleaver to cut the squash into quarters. Place these quarters in a roasting pan and bake for 1 hour. Put the squash aside for 15 minutes or until it is cool enough to be easily handled. When cool, peel the skin away from the squash flesh. You should have about 3 packed cups of roasted squash.
In a 4-quart or larger pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil or butter over medium heat, when the oil is hot, add the garlic, shallots, and ginger, and fry in the oil for about a minute, add the tomato paste and fry for another minute, turn the heat down and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the shallots are beginning to really soften, add the curry powder and crumble in the red chili, fry for another minute, then add the squash. Turn the heat back up to medium and fry the squash with the aromatics for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the coconut milk and chicken broth and bring to a light simmer, lower the heat and cover the pot, simmer for 30 minutes, turn off the heat and puree the soup with a hand blender or pour the soup in batches into a blender and carefully puree it, holding the top down with a towel.  Add the salt in 1/2-teaspoon increments, tasting as you go, and stir in the juice of the lime.  Serve immediately, with the garnishes.
For the toppings:
Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add the coconut.  Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the coconut is lightly toasted and brown.  Immediately put the coconut on a plate.
Wipe the skillet out and return to medium heat. Add the oil, when the oil is quite hot, add the thinly sliced shallots, fry the shallots in the oil over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until their edges just begin to turn brown, turn off the heat and immediately take the shallots out of the oil with a slotted spoon, put on a plate to cool.  Garnish  each bowl of soup when you serve.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chicken Borscht (sorta)

I'm home from work today, my second day due to being sick and tired; please don't confuse that with sick and tired of being sick and tired.....just sick and tired.  I woke up this morning with a fever and knew that I needed something to eat other than eggs and what was already prepared in the fridge (which wasn't much).  The beauty and the problem about the way I eat is that your friends and family aren't able just to "pick up something" for you to eat when you are unable to cook.  So I got up this morning and prepared this dish in "shifts".  Normally Borscht would have beef or pork,carrots, potatoes, turnips, stewed tomatoes and sugar in it.  This is modified for what I have on hand and what I am allowed to eat in Phase III; since I'm still plugging away on the HCG diet.   : )

2-4  cups vegetable or chicken stock
4-6  chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
1      large leek using the stalk as well
1/2   head red cabbage, chopped
1/4   head Napa cabbage, chopped
1/2   small onion, chopped
2     cloves garlic, minced
2     raw beets, peeled and grated
1/4  squash, raw, peeled, and cut
1     stalks celery, chopped
2     Tablespoons tomato paste
2     medium fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/4  cup apple cider vinegar
3-5 Tablespoons cooking wine
1     Tablespoon lime-thyme
1     teaspoon basil
1     teaspoon sea salt
1/2  teaspoon citrus pepper

In a large soup pot, bring the stock to boil over medium heat, add the chicken, and reduce to a simmer, cook for about 15 minutes or until tender, remove the chicken to add back in during the last 15 minutes of cooking.  Add the other ingredients to the stock; beginning with the heartiest cooking the longest and the softest cooking the shortest period of time and cook on simmer about 1 to 2 hours or until all the vegetables are cooked, season to taste and serve with a dollop of sour cream or......your guessed it.... yogurt; I use my homemade yogurt.  : )
(serve in a white bowl....beautiful!)

Keep in mind that each cook can make any recipe their own by using their favorite spices, herbs, vegetables, grains, and methods.  I am so thankful to all the other cooks that shared their family recipes with me so that I was able to "tweak" them to become mine and now I can share them with you!  I hope you enjoy them as much as my family, my friends, and I do.  Bon Appetite.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Homemade Creamy Basil Dressing

3 scallions white and green parts finely chopped, about 1/4 cup
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
1 scant teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup mayonnaise (I like Best Foods)
1 cup plain yogurt (wadda think, my homemade of course!)    : )
Be sure to chop the onions, basil and garlic extra fine.  Add all the ingredients together in a bowl and stir. Pour into a jar and refrigerate.  The flavors are best after a day's rest, so if you can, make this a day ahead of serving. It lasts about a week in the refrigerator.
makes about 2 cups

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Easy Butternut Squash Ravioli

I was always impressed when I would go to a friend's home and they would serve homemade Ravioli.  I would think Wow!!!! did they spend some time "slaving over the hot stove that day"! Then I watched a video of one of my favorite funny chefs; Chef John (you can watch his videos here on blogspot) illustrating how to make this simple and simply delish dish.  He warns "it is very rich so you may want to serve as an appetizer and just offer your guest 3 or 4 each.  My son asked when I put only 4 on his plate, "is this all I get?".  So much for Chef John's theory!!! 
1 cup mashed cooked butternut squash
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (uh huh, I use my homemade yogurt cheese….love the tang)
1 egg yolk
1 (16 ounce) package round wonton wrappers
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, unpeeled
Chopped fresh sage to taste
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese (I use Romano), or to taste

Place cooked squash into a mixing bowl. Add salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir in mascarpone cheese, egg yolk, and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, mixing until the filling is smoothly combined.

Place a wonton wrapper onto a working surface. Wet the tip of a finger in water, and run it all along the outer edge of the wonton skin to moisten. Place about 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of the wonton. Fold the wonton in half to make a half-moon shape, and press the edges to seal. Repeat with the remaining wonton wrappers.

Place a deep skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in butter and unpeeled clove of garlic. Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil.

Drop the filled raviolis into the boiling water, a few at a time, and cook until they float to the top, about 2 minutes. Drain the raviolis, and transfer them to the skillet. Turn the heat under the skillet up to medium-high, and cook just until the raviolis are infused with garlic flavor, about 2 or 3 more minutes. Sprinkle with chopped sage, more black pepper, and extra Parmesan cheese to taste.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Coconut Flour/Almond Butter/No Sugar Cookies

§  1/4 cup coconut flour
§  1/2 cup almond butter
§  6 pitted dates (soaked in warm water for 15 minutes)
§  3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
§  1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
§  2 eggs (beaten)
§  1 1/2 tsps cinnamon
§  1 tsp vanilla extract
§  1/4 tsp unrefined sea salt
§  1/2 tsp baking soda
§  2 tbsps dried cherries
§  2 tbsps chopped walnuts
§  3 tbsps currants

1.        Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2.       Combine the coconut flour, almond butter, and dates in a food processor or blender. Process until well    combined and the dates have broken up into really small pieces, about a minute.
3.       Add the shredded coconut, applesauce, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and baking soda and process for 30 seconds until a wet dough forms.
4.       Add in the remaining ingredients, and pulse once or twice until the fruit is incorporated into the dough but not chopped up.
5.        Using an ice cream scoop or large tablespoon, drop the dough in heaping spoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
6.       Dip a metal spatula in water, and use the bottom to lightly press down each ball of dough. These cookies will not spread or rise so make sure to make them the shape you want them prior to baking.
7.        Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until they are golden on top and slightly brown along the edges. Serve immediately or store in the freezer, thawing for 15 to 20 minutes before you plan to serve them.

        I found this recipe on a "no grain" recipe site.  I cannot tell you how impressed I am with it.  These will curb the sweet tooth of any Phase III'er out there!!!! I'm so happy right now (I'm eating one as I'm typing).  I will do some research to determine the calorie count on these to see how many I can have with my yogurt in the morning, after my salad at lunch, and with my ice cream after dinner!  : )