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!  : )

I came to the realization why Fall is my favorite time of the year today…

It’s all about food of course.  Apples, pears, peaches, plums, squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkins (I hold them in a separate category from squash), beets, broccoli, and carrots just to name a few; all the good stuff we see on the Thanksgiving table in November.  It’s when I really think about candy and treat ideas for Halloween, pie and tart baking for Thanksgiving, and cookie making for the Christmas holiday season.  It’s the time of year when I miss my Mother and brothers, as well as my sons and granddaughters.  I realize that I have one son and true friends that love me in spite of myself and tolerate me constantly talking about food, filling the memory cards on their smart phones with endless photos of pre cooked or pre baked creations then the “finished” product, and shoving fork and spoonfuls of “new” accomplishments while I’m rattling off a list of ingredients or asking them if they can list the “secret” ingredient.  How do they put up with it???  God only knows.  Now, not only do I put them through that, but I hound them to “read” my blog… if they have an interest in my written ramblings as well as my verbal ones.  Dear Ones, if you are reading this, you can stop…I know you love me and you care, you don’t have to read this anymore.  Just come to this blog  when you want a particular recipe at an hour when you know that I am sleeping (and dreaming about food) or when you aren’t able to reach me.    Love, Mom/Susan         Kisses & Huggs

Frittata Got-ta Have-a

I cannot believe that I have lived a little over 50 years (well maybe more than "a little" over 50, but let's not go there now) and never cooked a Frittata much less eaten a Frittata.  What an amazing way to prepare eggs, so easy and the presentation is lovely.  This will become a "go to" dish for me.  One of the benefits is that once made, the leftovers last, so when a meal is needed at the last minute voila " le dîner est serve!"     :)
Choose 3-4 of the following: 
1 onion, diced
1 potato, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 roasted red pepper, diced
1-2 cups broccoli
1-2 cups cauliflower
1-2 leeks, diced
12 ounces mushrooms, diced or thinly sliced
1 cup leftover pasta
1 cup leftover rice
1-2 sausages, diced
1 cup shredded chicken, pork, or beef
1 cup tofu, diced
Any other leftovers you may have in the fridge
Seasoning Ingredients:
1-3 teaspoons spices, like oregano, basil, thyme, smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt
Frittata Ingredients:
1/2 - 1 cup shredded cheese (optional)
6 large eggs (I prefer to add a little milk to them)


10" - 12" skillet or dutch oven and spatula


Heat the oven to 400°F.
1. Sauté the Frittata Ingredients: If the meat is raw, cook that first and then remove it from the pan to add back in later. Cook the vegetables with a little oil over medium-high heat, starting with the longer-cooking veggies like onions and potatoes and ending with softer veggies like red peppers. Add any meat or tofu and cook just enough to warm through.
2. Season the Vegetables: Since the vegetables will be mixed with eggs, you want to over-season them a bit here. Add whatever seasonings you wish to use along with a half teaspoon of salt. Let this cook for a minute, then give it a taste. It should taste strong, but still good. Add more spices or salt if needed.
3. Add the Cheese: Spread the vegetables into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the cheese on top and let it just start to melt.
4. Add the Eggs: Whisk the eggs together and pour them over the vegetables and cheese. Tilt the pan to make sure the eggs settle evenly over all the vegetables. Cook for a minute or two until you see the eggs at the edges of the pan beginning to set.
5. Bake the Frittata: Put the entire pan in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the eggs are set. To check, cut a small slit in the center of the frittata. If raw eggs run into the cut, bake for another few minutes; if the eggs are set, pull the frittata from the oven. Cool for five minutes, then slice into wedges and serve. Leftovers will keep refrigerated for a week.
Additional Notes:
• For a crispy top, run the frittata under the broiler for a minute or two at the end of cooking.

Stick To Your Bones Stew

There are plenty of good recipes for stews out there, this one I made while on Phase III of the HCG Diet, therefore; no starch.  I sometimes like to make slow cooking dishes on the stove top rather than in the crock pot and this stew is one of them.  As usual, add or delete, any vegetable or spice you wish.

1     pound veal or very lean beef seasoned, browned on all sides, and set aside
1     small yellow onion, diced
1     shallot, diced
1-2  cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
1/2  Portabella mushroom, chopped
2     stalks celery, chopped
2-3  cups various squash, diced (I used zucchini, crooked neck, baby squash, and butter           nut)
2     cups vegetable stock (and a glug glug of some red wine)
1-2  Tablespoon Kuzu (or any thickening agent) if needed
1      large fresh tomato
1      stalk fresh lime thyme (leaves only)
1      teaspoon freshly ground sea salt
1      teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1      bay leaf
1      teaspoon cumin
1      teaspoon coriander
1/2   teaspoon pepper flakes (or to taste)
Cayenne pepper to taste

In a dutch oven over medium heat; saute onions, shallot, and garlic in butter or oil until translucent, add mushrooms and celery cook for 5 minutes or until tender.  Add meat, tomatoes, and vegetable stock and seasonings to pan and simmer with a lid on for about an hour. Add squash and simmer with a lid on for an additional 30 minutes or until they continue to hold their shape and are not "mushy".  If the stew is too "watery" for your liking; put some liquid from the pot into a bowl with some Kuzu; mix well, add back into the pot and stir; allow to thicken, serve with your favorite bread, rolls, or biscuits.  If on Phase III of the HGC Diet; serve with the Almond Biscuit recipe seen on this blog.  Enjoy    : )

Almond Flour Biscuits

I made a beef stew one fall day while on Phase III of the HCG diet and was wondering how in the world how I could eat stew without potatoes much less bread, rolls, or biscuits!!!! For cryin' out loud!!! Then low and behold! A light bulb went off  (imagine it turning on over my head)!  Almond flour isn't a starch, it's actually a protein, and I had some in the pantry.  Now, I feel obligated to warn you, if you are on Phase III; please consider that this recipe makes 8 biscuits and uses 21/2 cups of flour......and imagine how many almonds are ground to make that 21/2 cups of flour............yeah.  These calculations didn't enter my mind until I ate 11/2 biscuits......needless to say that little miss configuration cost me a pound gain the next day (I lost it the following day).  I just wanted to for warn you, and that you may decide it is worth having one biscuit if you are like me and miss your grains as much as I did.  I must add my family loved the biscuits and asked that I make them again.

Preheat oven to 350.

21/2      cups almond flour
1/2        teaspoon sea salt
1/2        teaspoon baking soda
1/4        teasponn baking powder
1/3        cup butter; melted
3           eggs; whisked
2 -3       Tablespoons milk
1           Tablespoon Agave (I omitted on Phase III)

Whisk together the dry ingredients, whisk together the wet ingredients, then whisk them together!  Scoop an apricot sized ball into your hands and roll drop onto a parchment lined baking sheet and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until slightly browned.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Simply Put.......COD

1            Pound Cod Fillets
2            Tablespoons butter
1/3         cup mayonnaise
1/3         cup sour cream (yep, you guessed it; I use my homemade yogurt instead)     :)
1/4         cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1            teaspoons Dijon mustard
freshly ground sea salt and pepper to taste
fresh rosemary sprigs

Preheat oven to 350.

Place the cod fillets in an 8 X 8 baking dish.  Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over fish.  Sprinkle with fresh rosemary sprigs.  Bake 30 minutes or until fish flakes easily.

Moroccan-Style Stuffed Acorn Squash

'Tis the Season..........for squash.....I LOVE squash mainly because the options for preparing it are endless from savory to sweet.... this is one of my most favorite recipes.  Remember, most of the recipes I post I may not make the same EVER, I may be on the "I'm never going to eat sugar again.... ever.... kick", so I may substitute honey, agave, pure maple syrup, or molasses; so by all means.....allow yourself to do the same!

2      Tablespoons brown sugar
1      Tablespoon butter, melted
2      large acorn squash, halved and seeded
2      Tablespoons olive oil
2      cloves garlic, chopped
2      stocks celery, chopped
2      carrots, chopped
1      cup garbanzo beans, drained
1/2   cup raisins
11/2 Tablespoons ground cumin
14    ounces chicken broth
1      cup uncooked couscous
freshly ground sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350, arrange squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet, bake 30 minutes, or until tender.  Dissolve the sugar in the melted butter, brush the squash with the butter mixture and keep warm while preparing the stuffing.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, stir in the garlic, celery, and carrots and cook 5 minutes.  Mix in the garbanzo beans and raisins.  Season with cumin, salt, and pepper, and continue to cook and stir until the vegetables are tender.

Pour the chicken broth into the skillet and mix in the couscous, cover the skillet, and turn off the heat.  Allow the couscous to absorb the liquid for 5 minutes.  Remove the cover from the skillet, with at fork; "fluff" the stuffing then stuff the squash halves with the mixture and serve.

Mushroom Stuffed Zucchini

3      large zucchini, trimmed (ends cut off)
2      Tablespoons butter
1      cup mushrooms, chopped
1/4   cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/4   teaspoon dried oregano, crushed (you can use Cayenne, basil, thyme, or any of    
        your favorite spices)
1      cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/4   cup Parmesan (or Romano) cheese, grated
2      Tablespoons flour (or any thickener you prefer)

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil, cook the whole zucchini until they begin to become tender; about 10 minutes.  Drain and run cold water over zucchini, set aside to cool.  Once completely cooled; cut length-wise and scoop out the center flesh, leaving 1/4 inch thick shell around the entire zucchini.  Chop the center flesh and reserve.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, cook the mushrooms and peppers until tender about 5 minutes, stir in flour and oregano (spices), add the reserved center flesh of the zucchini and the Monterey Jack cheese.  Heat the mixture until the cheese is melted and the filling is hot.  Stuff the filling into the hollowed-out zucchini; sprinkle each with Parmesan (or Romano) cheese.

Preheat the oven's broiler and set the oven rack about 6 inches from the heat source.  Broil the zucchini until the filling is bubbling and the cheese is browned, 3 to 5 minutes.

* Note:  You can add sausage or any vegetables to the mixture that you wish to make this dish suit you and your family's taste, enjoy.    : )

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pear/Apple Truly A Tart

1      pear; peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1      Asian pear; peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1      apple; peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1/4   cup fresh squeezed orange juice (is there any other kind of juice besides fresh?)
1/3   cup brown sugar (or use less honey, maple syrup, molasses, or agave)
1/2   teaspoon cinnamon
1/4   teaspoon nutmeg
1/4   teaspoon cardamon
11/2 Tablespoon Kuzu (a Japanese starch for thickening; you may use corn starch or
         tapioca starch)
1/2   cup warm apricot jam
1/2   cup chilled butter
1/2   cup cream cheese (I use my homemade yogurt cheese)
11/2 cups flour (I use oat flour for this recipe) if you use wheat; try whole wheat pastry
        flour : )

*You can also try: adding more fruit if needed, vanilla or almond extract, almond paste spread on the dough before filling with the fruit,a pinch of salt to the crust dough.......

For the crust:

Put the butter, cheese, and flour into your food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles crumbs or small peas, if you don't have a food processor, use a knife or pastry blender.  The mixture should form a ball when you squeeze it together.  Shape the dough into a round disk, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (not much longer)

Toss the sliced pears and apples with the juice.  Whisk the sweetener and spices and add to the fruit, set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375.  If making a free forming tart, lightly grease a baking sheet, otherwise set out an 8 inch tart pan.  Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface to form a 10 inch circle; transfer the dough to the tart pan or baking sheet.  Arrange the fruit in a decorative fashion.  If you are using the baking sheet; leave a 2 inch rim of dough and fold it up over the edge of the fruit.  Bake the tart about 30 minutes or until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbly.  Remove from the oven and brush with the apricot jam.


1      box manicotti shells
1      pint whole milk ricotta cheese
8      ounces whole milk mozzarella cheese
1      Tablespoon dry parsley
1-3   teaspoons garlic salt
        pepper to taste
1     jar spaghetti sauce (I like Classico mushroom and ripe olive)
1     pound ground sweet Italian sausage 

Cook the manicotti shells as directed on box, run under cold water, then place on waxed paper, be careful not to overcook, as the shells will break apart and will be difficult to stuff.  (Cooking them al dente`is okay)

Cook the sausage on medium heat until done, drain the excess fat and add the jar of sauce, remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350

In a bowl combine the cheeses and spices and mix well with a wooden spoon (or your hands work just as well).  

In a 9 X 14 pan spoon just enough sauce to cover the bottom.  Fill each shell with the cheese mixture and place in the pan.  All the shells will fill the pan.  Pour the remaining sauce over the filled shells.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of the dish.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until bubbly, remove the foil and bake until the cheese on top browns.  voi mangate!!!

*note:  if the shells break; you can still fill them and wrap them around the cheese they will hold together when they cook.* 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Grain Free Sugar Free no bake pie crust

I am currently on Phase III of the HCG diet; having completed Phase II; I lost 15 pounds in 30 days.  I tried the diet last spring lost 12 pounds then cheated and went from Phase II to eating anything I wanted.......guess what?  Yep, I gained the 12 back and almost 10 more!!!!  So this time I really was committed to losing the weight, completing Phase II, and Phase III, so that I can get to the maintenance phase.  So far, so good.  It is fall and I have been craving pie!!!!  Especially Pumpkin pie.  The issues are: no sugars except stevia (yuck) and sweet'n'low (really not good for you) and I like to use maple syrup and molasses with fresh pumpkins for my pie.  I can add pumpkin (starches) and sugars back into my diet in 2 1/2 weeks, so for now I'm going to make an apple pie. Because apples are so naturally sweet nothing will need to be added.  I searched on line and found this recipe.  After I began to soak (nuts don't sprout) the almonds; I realized that I could have used almond flour to make a conventional  crust for the pie, however, I'm excited about this recipe.

2      cups raw walnuts, almonds, or pecans
1/2   cup dried dates; soaked for a few hours to soften
3/4   teaspoon cinnamon
1/2   teaspoon cardamon
1/4   teaspoon nutmeg
Dash of sea salt

Begin by soaking the almonds in lightly salted water overnight.  Rinse nuts sprinkle with a little salt and toast in the oven.  Blend the nuts and dates in a food processor, then add the spices and dash of salt and blend well.  Distribute the mixture evenly in the bottom of a 8" to 10" pie plate.  Make sure to cover all areas of the plate are covered then press the "crust" into the plate, compacted it so that it will hold together well.  Just fill with what ever fruit or cream mixture you want.  If using a "wet" fruit or filling; the crust may get soggy.  : )

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Spooky Halloween Eyeballs

I decided that I probably should post this so that the Halloween treats could be together.  And while we're on the subject of Halloween, (we were on the subject, weren't we?) let me throw out some other ideas.  You can make witches fingers by cutting string cheese in half; length wise, cut out lines for the knuckles and cut an indentation at the "tip" of the finger to place a piece of green, orange, red, or yellow bell pepper; shiny side up.  If you are having a party; you can wash a latex glove thoroughly, fill with juice, freeze add to the punch bowl right before your guests arrive.

11/2      cups creamy peanut butter
1/2         cup butter, softened
21/2     cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1         Tablespoon vanilla extract
12       ounces white chocolate, chopped  (use a good quality chocolate)
2         Tablespoons shortening
blue and green frosting in a tube, red gel food coloring in a tube, mini chocolate chips, toothpicks

Beat the peanut butter and butter with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth.  Beat in the vanilla and sugar.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Roll chilled dough into small eyeball sized balls and place on baking sheets covered with waxed paper (you will need 2).  Refrigerate for another 30 minutes.  (You can also put in freezer)
Melt the white chocolate and shortening in a microwavable bowl at 30 second intervals, stirring at each melting, this will take 1 to 3 minutes depending on your microwave.  **Do Not Overheat**, or the chocolate will "scorch" and "seize".  Insert a toothpick into each eyeball and dip into the chocolate, transfer to waxed paper, gently take out toothpick and wait until the chocolate has set.  You can chill in the refrigerator when you have one of you baking sheets filled.  Use the blue and green frosting to make the iris of the eyeball, use the red gel food coloring to make the eyeball look bloodshot, press a mini chocolate chip into the center for the pupil of the eye.

This is a fun recipe to get the children involved in; they can have so much fun decorating the eyeballs.  : )

Witches Fingers

For me Halloween was never much of a holiday.  Since I'm spending more time in the kitchen now........I try to make really fun treats.  When my granddaughters saw these and the Spooky Halloween Eyeballs (soon to post) they started screaming and declared, "We can't eat those, Noni, they are too scary.  So, mission accomplished!!

1      cup butter
1      cup confectioners sugar
1      egg
1      teaspoon almond extract
1      teaspoon vanilla extract
22/3  cups flour
1      teaspoon baking powder
1      teaspoon salt
3/4   cup whole almonds
1      tube red food coloring gel
Optional:  1/4 cup dried currents, blueberries, or mini chocolate chips (for warts), green food coloring, green decorating sugar

Beat together butter, sugar, extracts, and food coloring.  Sift together the dry ingredients and gradually add to the butter mixture.  Refrigerate thirty minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 and lightly grease baking sheets

Blanch the almonds for about 1 minute for easy removal of the skin.

Remove dough from refrigerator in small amounts that you will be working with to shape. Scoop 1 heaping teaspoon at a time onto a piece of waxed paper.  Use the waxed paper to roll the dough into a thin finger-shaped cookie.  (Keep in mind that once cookies are baked; they will be doubled in size).  Squeeze cookie near the tip and again near the center of each to give the impression of knuckles, cut dough with a knife or fork (dip in hot water for easier lines) at the same points to give the finger a more real like appearance then press the blanched almond into the tip of the finger then place and push in your "wart".  You may choose to "paint" the top of the finger with egg white should you use the decorating sugar so that it will stick.  Arrange on baking sheets, bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden in color.  Cool on a wire rack.  Once cooled remove the almond from the end of each cookie and squeeze a small amount of red gel food coloring, press the almond into the gel so that it "oozes" around the almond to give the appearance of blood. Have fun!!   : )

Aloha Pina Colada Tarts

These are such a yummy treat.  I am not that fond of coconut, however, this recipe has just the right amount.

Preheat the oven to 350

For the Dough:
1      cup softened butter
1/2   cup softened cream cheese (I use my homemade yogurt cheese)
1      teaspoon vanilla
1/2   cup confectioners sugar
11/3  flour
2      Tablespoons Kuzu (a Japanese starch for thickening) You can also use corn or tapioca starch.
Mix together the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar until smooth.  Sift the flour and the Kuzu and add to the butter mixture by using a wooden spoon until a dough forms.  Form into 1" balls, cover and chill in the fridge while mixing the other ingredients.

1      cup pureed pineapple  (fresh is best but you can use canned)
1      teaspoon orange zest
1      teaspoon ginger
1/4   cup sugar  (many times I substitute with honey or agave
Mix together all the ingredients; set aside.

1      egg
1/4   cup sugar
11/2  cup unsweetened coconut
Mix the sugar and egg with a mixer, add the coconut and mix into the egg mixture with a spoon.

Place the balls of dough into a lightly greased  muffin tin cup (spray works best) and press to "line the cup" going up the sides as far as possible. Put in a teaspoon of the Pina mixture and a teaspoon of the Colada mixture into the dough shell.  Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes or until slightly golden.  Cool the tarts in the muffin tin for at least 15 minutes then transfer to a rack to completely cool.  Sprinkle with confectioners sugar and serve.