Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Tale of Two Stews

Yeah, I know it's not Winter - I like stews throughout the year because for me, throwing several really good ingredients in to a pot, stirring it all up and simmering it down is magic.  The smells that waft through the kitchen are amazing and watching the bubbling little concoctions evolve in to something that is so much more than the sum of its parts is where it's at.  One last thing is that I can always throw some in the canner and have some rockin' stuff to eat when it is Winter again.  First one is kind of like a thin oyster chowder som'n erother.  
How ever many live oysters you feel like shuckin' - I used 12 and wished I'd had a lot more cause they were small - you could use canned oysters
1 cup raw milk
2 cups water
1 cup fresh okra (or frozen) chopped
1 medium yellow onion diced
2 medium red potatoes cubed
Cayenne pepper
About 10 shrimp frozen thawed or fresh peeled and deveined
Off the cob fresh corn - about 2 ears or half a can 
4 stalks celery chopped to suit your own liking
OK, this is enough stuff to make a small pot of stew enough for two people to eat on for a couple of meals.  Get a stock pot and put your milk, water, potatoes, onion, okra, corn, and celery in and get the heat going medium to high.  While this is heatin' up chop your oysters and shrimp or leave 'em whole - whatever.  As the mixture comes to a low boil give it a stir and turn it down to simmer.  While it's simmering season it with a little salt and cayenne if you like - take some time to maybe try out some other spices. I kept this one simple.  Give the stew some time to simmer down and lose some of that water, stirring often.  When the potatoes are soft and you've got a really low simmer goin' on, throw those oysters and shrimp in until the shrimp turn pink and you've got stew number one - let it simmer for an hour or so and you've got super stew number one - put it in a glass container and in the fridge for a day and you've got the ultimate stew number one - I am so corny it is painful - let's move on to stew two after a nice pic of the first.

I won't say that this one is way different than the first one as far as ingredients go anyway, but the taste is way different.  This second stew is a sort of real comforting and thick type of stew with a critical last step big event that I'll keep you on the edge of your seat for the rest of this post and you'll be biting your fingernails and...OK that was stupid, the last step is just to add about 2 tbsp butter and stir it in to the simmering pot which just sets this stuff up and gives it some sort of special powers I think...anyway...
10 shrimp frozen thawed or fresh peeled and deveined
1/4 cup dry white Basmati rice
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 small to medium red potatoes cubed or diced
2 medium carrots diced
1/2 yellow or white onion chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
3-4 cups mixed baby greens or spinach whole (fresh)
2.5 cups water
2 tbsp butter 
Throw in the rice, taters, carrots, onion, celery, greens, garlic, and water in a small stock pot, give it all a good stir, throw on the lid and get the heat going medium to high.  Remember, there is rice in there so get it on up to boil.  While that is gettin' up to temp make sure your shrimp are prepped and ready, and have 2 tbsp butter on hand gettin' soft on the table top, but make sure that no one...or no dog sneaks by and grabs the fresh butter off the counter and swallows it down because I myself have been known to devour straight up butter and 2 tbsp ain't nothin'.  Some people tell me their dogs eat butter but I wouldn't know anything about that....OK, so when the stuff gets up to boil turn it down to low, get it all mixed up, season it with a little salt - maybe some oregano which I did and found it was a very nice addition, and put the lid back on and leave it alone for a little while.  Once the rice gets finished and the taters are soft, lay the shrimp in and put the lid back on.  When the shrimp are pink, you can pinch them and if they don't wake up then they are that's another thing - if you pinch them and they are slightly firm but not rubbery then they're perfect and now for the BIG EVENT!!!  Put the butter in and stir until it is all melted throughout - make sure you have enough salt and there you have stew 2!!

The Basmati rice sort of disintegrates in to little pearls on this one which gives the whole thing a really cool texture, and who can resist the taste of Basmati rice and shrimp anyway?  Not me. Please check out my facebook albums for current pics of the garden - there is a lot going on this Summer and Fall and hopefully I can get some good recipes going that include everything I grow. Enjoy!!

As always, gluten free

Sunday, February 13, 2011

5 Star Veggie Tacos

No no no, don't get confused - this ain't no tofu taco recipe where I tell you to go out and buy some firm little square pieces of fermented soybeans so you can slap it on a corn shell and call it a taco.  No way.  This recipe actually stems from a breakfast that Mandy and I currently enjoy of quinoa, millet, and amaranth grains done up just like grits or oatmeal...but so much better, but there's more...these three grains are three of the only ones consistently listed as alkalizing on many of the "alkalizing foods" lists that you can find in books, on the internet, wherever you can find acid/alkaline balance information on foods.  Yeah, I told you that I was on an alkalizing kick, and now I will be for life...not because of all of the breathtaking evidence for it, but for the way I feel - I've never been better.  I didn't tell you that I have started letting my former enemy (grains) slip back up and make their way back in to my digestive tract.  Well, in this case, we had a little talk over breakfast one morning, and while I was telling them how disgusted I was with the sorry excuse for food that they were, the quinoa, millet, and amaranth leapt out of the cabinet and just so happened to fall in to my mouth - along with a little bit of butter...and some salt...OK OK, I shouldn't have to make excuses - so if you're going to get some whole grains in your diet, here are two excellent and perfectly tasty ways to do it.  It all started with breakfast when Mandy noticed the unique texture of the quinoa.  That is when she said "You know what?  This stuff would make awesome tacos if you seasoned it up like chili!"  That was that, and after tonight - I don't think we ever have to worry about not having a freakin' awesome taco again - here they are. (Look, don't give me a hard time about the corn - everyone deserves a real taco every now and then...or maybe once a week or so.)

For the tacos you will need:
Organic taco shells (Trader Joe's - be sure they are corn only)
1/3 cup whole quinoa
1/3 cup whole amaranth
1/3 cup whole millet
1.5 cups veggie broth
1.5 cups water
1 white onion chopped
4 garlic cloves chopped fine
1 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (leave it out if you don't like the kick)
Iceberg lettuce (Mandy said so)
Sour cream
1 can diced tomatos
2 tbsp raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1 tsp cilantro fresh (dried parsley works too)
And the usual extra virgin olive oil and some sea salt

Alright, sorry...I didn't realize that the list was so long - stay with me cause it's so worth it.  You can do this part way ahead of time, it's just the salsa.  It's tough to find a salsa made with apple cider vinegar (let alone raw unfiltered), so I just improvised my own that turned out pretty good.  Just saute half of your white onion with about 2 cloves garlic until soft, pour the tomatoes over that and add the apple cider vinegar and cilantro - let it get hot and bubbly and then take it off the heat and chill it in the fridge - that'll make a decent salsa for topping the tacos or with chips.  Now we can start on the "chili".  Start by sauteing the rest of the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft.  Then add the veggie stock, water, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, paprika, turmeric, a few good pinches of salt, and all the grains.  Stir it all up, bring it to a boil and then put a lid on it and turn it on low heat to simmer until the grains take up all of the liquid and spices - about 20-25 minutes.  While the chili is going, get your lettuce chopped up, get the taco shells toasty in the oven, and get a couple spoons out for sour cream and salsa.  When your chili is finished, slap some in a shell, put down a nice portion of sour cream on that, layer on the lettuce, and drizzle on the salsa.  What you have there is the best veggie taco can thank Mandy.

OK, so really quickly - if you like your whole grains in the morning, take that 1 cup mixture of whole grains from above and just do 2 cups water for 1 cup grains, bring it to a boil and then put a lid on it and turn the heat down and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.  This makes an awesome replacement for corn grits or oatmeal.  Just stir in some butter and salt, maybe some milk, maybe some honey - hell, whatever you put in your grits and oatmeal.  It's organic unsalted butter and some sea salt for me...perfect.  Enjoy!!

As always, gluten free  (that's breakfast up there)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Quinoa Breakfast Sliders

Inventing an interesting and tasty breakfast is not easy when you are gluten free, processed food free, sugars free (sugars free is not a typo, I say this to make a point that this is different from sugar free.  Sugars free means no sweetening sugars which right now even includes lactose - milk sugar) and blah, blah, blah free right?  Recently I have been on an acid alkaline balance kick, and it has become pretty obvious that many of us, including myself are mildly acidic or even severely acidic.  This stems from eating too many processed foods, sugar, meats, and grains.  However, not all grains are created equal, and although it seems ironic to be limiting grains to absolutely nothing in my diet and then come up with this breakfast, I challenge all to do a little research on Quinoa.  This grain goes way back and may be a smarter alternative to the beloved other grains that we all have been taught are so healthy these days.  But lets get on to the good stuff - breakfast!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Word makes me think of this....Roasted Garlic and Butternut Squash Puree Soup

After trying something new, have you ever wondered why you haven't been eating it all of your life?  I mean really, I'm sad because I ate the last little bit of this at lunch today.  I had never had butternut squash anything, ever, but if you ever watch any cooking shows or look through any winter recipe magazines, butternut squash seems to be a pretty popular ingredient and especially in soups.  Needless to say, I decided to give the butternut squash a spin.  I took a couple of different recipes, added my own ideas and twisted the others a little and came up with my own roasted garlic and butternut squash puree.  This one is at the top of my list for taste and ease of prep.

1 medium butternut squash
1 medium white onion
1 whole head of garlic
4 cups chicken stock
4 tbsp. organic butter
Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin, chili powder
Sour cream and chopped green onion for garnishing

Start out by chopping up the butternut in to large hunks, skins on but throw the seeds out. (Unless you want to toast them and sprinkle them on top of the soup - shoot! why didn't I think of that?)  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place the chunks in a large baking pan and add about 1.5 inches of water.  Wrap your garlic head up in tin foil and place that and the pan of squash in the oven for about an hour.  While that is roasting, saute the white onion in a pan with extra virgin olive oil or butter until the onion is soft.  Now, if you have any friends, call them up and tell them to stop by the store and grab some wine and come on over for soup, wine, and movie night. If you have kids you must send them off somewhere else at this point, but if you have dogs then you don't have to do anything.  If you don't have friends then open the oven every few minutes and have a conversation with the butternut squash about how wonderful it will be to have it all to yourself and.....OK, by now it has been an hour and you can take the squash and garlic out of the oven.  If you don't mind searing hot squash on your hands then don't let it cool for a few minutes.  Get out a soup pot and a food processor.  Puree the squash along with the liquid left in the pan, garlic (just remove each little clove from the little skin pouch and toss 'em in), and onion all together - and don't worry if you still have a few chunks of squash in your puree - it is good that way!!  Place the pureed mixture in the soup pot along with the chicken stock and butter and bring it up to medium heat.  Add about 1-2 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 tbsp cayenne (less if you don't like so much kick) and salt and pepper it all to taste.  Let it simmer for as long as you like and serve with a dollop or two of sour cream with some chopped green onion - wipe the drool off your keyboard now.  Enjoy!!

As always, gluten free

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cooking at Mom and Dad's House - a three course in the oven night...

My parents have done so much for me my entire life.  They stuck with me through the thick and the thin, and they still help me out no matter what - it's what family is all about.  I think the least I can do is prepare dinner once in a while.  I believe that if it wasn't for my mom desperately researching to find out what it was in my environment that was making me sick, stupid, and sad that I myself would never have become so interested in food, and what it does to our bodies good or bad.  Through the years I have really developed a love for food, and also a real passion for how food can heal or kill.  Just maybe I can partially repay my parents love by helping them to be healthy and to age gracefully through food, so that one day they may happily grow old without surrendering the last quarter of their life to detrimental illnesses that so often incapacitate the mind and the body.  So tonight represents one meal in that quest - roasted artichoke hearts, mushrooms, onion, and cauliflower, egg souffle with green onions and cilantro served with salsa, a nice salad, and finally (because I believe that my parents secretly cannot eat a dinner without having some sort of dessert - I will have to break them of this) baked apples and raisins with honey and pecans.  Sound good?  Yeah, it was.  Let's start with the roasted veggies:
2 cans artichoke hearts quartered
1 large head of organic cauliflower (chop off the florets)
1 large pack of baby Portobella mushrooms
1/2 large white onion or 1 small sliced
Dried basil and oregano
6 cloves garlic whole but crushed with a knife blade just to let oils out
Lemon Juice 
Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper 
Of course - a little cayenne!!

Let's be serious people - if this isn't the easiest but best tasting veggie dish ever then you don't like food - period.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Butter a large baking dish, throw the artichoke hearts, mushrooms, cauliflower, garlic cloves, and onions in the dish.  Sprinkle about 1 tbsp basil and 1 tbsp oregano all over it, hit it with a little lemon juice, 2-3 pinches of salt, pepper it a little and don't forget a couple pinches of cayenne, and lastly as if this sentence wasn't long enough already, pour about 1/3 cup melted butter all over it.  Now mix it all up so that all of the ingredients get a coat of everything, pack it down a little bit and pop it in the oven for about 45 minutes.  When it comes out, grate a little bit of fresh Parmesan cheese on top and that's it, and it is the best part of this meal - delicious!!

Now for the egg souffle.  This thing is light and fluffy and full of eggy tastiness with a little oniony bite.  I served it with some salsa on the side, but it really didn't even need it.  You will need:
10 eggs, whites separated from yolks to start (you will use both so don't discard anything - except the shell)
1.5 cups green onions chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

This is so easy.  The oven is already on for the roasted veggies.  With a beater, whisk the egg whites until they get very thick and creamy - like a stiff foam.  Beat the yolks and add a pinch of salt, green onions, and cilantro to them.  Butter an oven safe, deep dish pan like a large cast iron skillet.  Mix the yolks back in with the whites on low speed with the beaters.  Pour the mixture in the pan and stick her in the oven - just make sure and try to distribute the onions and cilantro evenly.  That will be done when the top turns a dark golden brown - about 30 minutes.  Serve it like it is or with some salsa!

I'll leave the salad ingredients and prep. to you guys.  Let's get it on with some baked apples.

3 Braeburn apples (cut in to boats, triangles? You know.)
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup raw honey
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup pecans 

Place your apples in a baking dish, sprinkle on the raisins and pecans, pour the butter over this, drizzle on the honey, mix it all up really well and bake it in the oven until the apples reach your desired softness - some like 'em crisp and some like 'em soft.  I actually took mine out after about 10 minutes and stirred it all up again just to make sure the apples on top didn't dry out, and then I put 'em back in for a while.  That's it, another three courser and all in the oven and all stupid simple.  Enjoy!!

As always, gluten free

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Today's Lunch

Today we have: Leftover lentil veggie soup, leftover tuna green bean casserole, wild arugula salad with a little homemade vinaigrette on the side, and some celery with peanut butter (peanuts and salt).

My vinaigrette is high quality extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, horseradish mustard, lemon juice, basil, smidge of salt. 

As always, gluten free.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ridiculous Good Quick and Easy Casserole!!

If you're dedicated to not eating fast food and take-out, and you cook most of your meals, then you probably know what it's like to come home after a long day and look in the cabinets and say, "What in the world am I gonna make tonight?"  It's one of those nights where all planning has escaped us and we're left, tempted to just call in something when that little voice says "NO!"  So you start sifting through all of the ingredients, trying to put a picture together of what dinner is going to consist of...yeah this looks good, that might work, don't want that really, ooooooh yeah I could do that!  That is what is going through your mind as you concoct the masterpiece that you will either regret later, or say dang, that was truly awesome.  Truly awesome is what happened the night Mandy and I were like - hell what about green beans and maybe ummmm Tuna, and get the picture.  This one came out so slammin' that I'm pretty sure Mandy said it was her favorite at that time (now it's the soup I just posted).  I have finally gotten around to making it again with a few here it is, a true throw it together treasure...tuna casserole with homemade cream of mushroom and green beans!!  That's a mouthful that you won't regret.  You will need...

24 oz. canned wild tuna - light or dark - I use dark
1 qt. jar green beans - mine were from my garden this past summer - equivalent canned or frozen is fine
3 cups homemade cream of mushroom or equivalent, but you will be hard pressed to find one that doesn't have 25 other stupid ingredients in it - MAKE YOUR OWN!! I will include that recipe at the end.
1.5 cups fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup sour cream
1.5 cups shredded grass fed cheddar cheese and extra for top of casserole
2 eggs beaten well
Salt and cayenne pepper 
Butter to grease pan

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Rainy nights make the best soups - and my wife makes the best cornbread...ever

It all starts with a really cold and rainy evening.  Just the sound of the rain droplets blowing against the windows allows a little glimpse of how miserable you would be if you ventured out the door, but there you are, inside and warm - a little bit of delightful jazz in the background, dogs curled up in no anticipation of having to venture out in the cold either.  Mandy knows this's soup time.  I owe a little credit where credit is due for this recipe.  I was perusing through this old plastic ring bound, vegetarian cookbook that my mom has handed down to me, and you know I love me some lentils, so I stopped on this lentil soup.  The book is The Meatless Gourmet Favorite Recipes From Around the World by Bobbie Hinman.  The recipe is Lentil Vegetable Soup and it is on page 43 if you ever find yourself holding a copy (I doubt it).  I will admit, even though I will readily go out on a limb, I wasn't so sure about this recipe - but Mandy said it would be fine and that was all I needed (basically her acknowledging that if it sucked it was OK).  I changed the recipe up a little bit for my tastes and preferences - I didn't keep this one vegetarian, yet it could easily be modified.  You have to try this one out - it is a hardy little soup that really warms you up, but leaves you feeling fabulous .  You will need the following:
3 tbsp organic butter
1 large white onion chopped
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
5 cloves rough chopped garlic
4 cups shredded cabbage
1 large head of Lacinato kale - YES!! chopped
about 5-6 red skinned potatoes chopped not peeled!!
2 cups chicken broth - we made homemade broth from free range, organic chicken drumsticks
6 cups water
1 large can crushed tomatoes
2-3 tbsp tomato paste concentrate
2 cups red lentils soaked for 8 hours in water and then drained - soaking is not necessary, but there is evidence to show that all legumes and grains contain phytic acid which can bind several nutrients during digestion - soaking neutralizes this acid.
1/2 cup rough chopped cilantro - I must admit - the cilantro sets this soup off

BTW - we have been trying to use all organic veggies, and free range meat and dairy products.  There was a time when I thought this was unnecessary and very expensive - but I would encourage anyone to do some research, one, so that you can see that there is a fundamental difference in organic products vs. commercially produced that may well be a large part of the frequency of disease in our culture today, and mostly, two, to understand that much of the organic produce and free range meat and dairy products are part of a sustainable movement for this country that will - if allowed - improve this world not just health wise, but in unlimited ways.  The quality of your food depends on the quality of your ingredients, and by quality I don't mean just taste - I mean quality and type of nutrients that your little body craves, but that our current commercial food conditions exclude.  Plus, not that these items cost that much more than normal, but the more you spend, the more you will savor your food - and truly enjoy it while taking more time to eat it, and therefore possibly skipping the extra portion that you might otherwise eat!  Maybe, maybe not right?  On to the prep - sorry about that...

Get all of your veggies all chopped and shredded and all that mess.  Get a large stock pot (12qt is good) and saute the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots in the butter until soft.  The butter can be replaced with high quality olive oil.  Make sure and hit these veggies with a couple pinches of salt during sauteing.  Go ahead and add your chopped potatoes at this point and roll them around with the veggies for a couple minutes.  After the veggies get soft and the taters are in there,  add the chicken stock (which could be replaced with veggie stock) and the water.  Salting a pinch after each addition of ingredients keeps you up to speed on salt and allows the salt to really get in there and penetrate each level of the soup.  Otherwise you will be stuck adding what you think is enormous amounts of salt in the end, so just a pinch or two after each addition should suffice because you can adjust in the end.  Now add your crushed tomatoes and tomato paste.  Let this return to heat, and now add the rest of your ingredients - cabbage, kale, LENTILS, and cilantro.  Get this all stirred up well, bring to a boil and then reduce heat, put a lid on it and let it simmer for an hour or so.  After this you can do a taste test and add salt or pepper if you like - whatever you think it needs - you're done with the soup, and now we can move on to what you really care about - yeah that's right, Russell cooks his ass off and all any of you care about is the cornbread that Mandy made - most of you probably won't even read this because you already scrolled down to see the cornbread - fine - I don't blame you cause it rocks!!

While the soup is simmering - get your cornbread ingredients together - you will need:
2 cups Bob's Red Mill organic med. grind cornmeal
1 egg beaten
1 1/2 cups raw buttermilk
1/4 cup melted organic butter
1 1/2 cups organic cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder (aluminum free, no GMO )
Mix all ingredients in a bowl
Melt about 2 tbsp butter in an iron skillet in the oven at 425 degrees
Pour mixture in the skillet and bake at 425 until toothpick comes out clean and cornbread is golden brown - Enjoy!!

Now if that's not enough reason to gladly welcome any rainy, cold night then you just must not like soup - and that is a shame - but the cornbread?  Yeah, I thought so...bring on the rain!  One more thing - check out the cilantro I was able to decorate Mandy's omelet with this morning - that's just cool!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

All Kinds of Splurging - All on a Wednesday Night - Three Course, Gluten Free Meal

I am pretty poor, OK I'm really poor.  Business isn't great or even good, I am in school, and I just got the powerbill for the store today - holy crap.  However, sometimes you just need a good meal to get you back in to the right spirits so that you can begin to conquer the endless towering mountain called life.  After countless nights of eating on a budget and trying to make everything last, I needed one of those good meals last night.  I might not make it to school tomorrow beccause my gas money is gone, but I feel better.  So here it is - seared tuna steak with homemade hot mayo sauce and cabbage, nice baby green salad with dijon mustard vinaigrette, and spaghetti with clam sauce!!  I know, I know pasta is not on our menu, except for this night - and maybe again in another few months.  Anyway, all of this was really simple to make - just do better than me and don't over-sear the tuna, and get a really good sharp knife so that the tuna doesn't look like you cut it with a mini chainsaw. For the tuna, you will need about a half pound wild-caught tuna steak, salt, pepper, a grill or iron skillet, one organic or pasteurized in shell egg, a few tablespoons of expeller pressed canola oil, smidge of salt, hot sauce, and cayenne pepper.  I prefer the iron skillet for searing the tuna - so get it hot, between med. and high heat. While that is getting hot, rub salt and pepper all over the sides of the tuna steak until it has a nice lite coat on it.  Once the skillet is up to temp, sear each side of the steak for about 20-30 seconds and then take it off the heat and set it off to the side to cool.  Get a small bowl and place just the yolk of your egg in the bowl and whisk it up pretty good.  Add a small amount of canola and start whisking until it starts to get a little thicker.  Keep adding the oil in very small amounts, whisking feriously in between until the mayo gets a nice smoooth texture.  Add the smidge of salt, a few squirts of hot sauce, a little cayenne and whisk it all together and do your taste test.  Adjust and you are done.  You can keep that on the side or drizzle it all over your seared tuna and cabbage.  Next....we'll knock out the spaghetti with clam sauce.
I probably should have said this first, but you need to get this sauce going before you ever even think about the tuna.  Anyway, for the sauce you will need:
1 box Pomi brand strained tomatoes
1 box Pomi brand chopped tomatoes
3 small cans of chopped clams - make sure it's just clams, water, and salt
1/2 small package of baby portobella mushrooms
1 sm white onion chopped fine
1 sm green bell pepper chopped fine
4-5 cloves garlic minced
Onion and Garlic powder
Salt and Pepper

For the sauce, first saute the onions, bell pepper, and mushrooms in about 3 tbs butter on med. heat.  Be careful not to burn the butter.  When this mix gets soft, throw in the garlic and stir making sure the garlic doesn't burn.  In other words just stir it all around together for about 20-30 seconds so the garlic goodness can get incorporated without burning.  Add your two boxes of tomato.  I say boxes because Pomi's tomatoes are boxed, and they only contain tomatoes.  You may use whatever you want.  Add some salt and pepper - I always add a little cayenne to clam sauce to give it a special kick.  Add about 1 tbsp garlic powder and 1 tbsp onion powder.  The powders really give the sauce some spicy depth instead of tasting like just straight up tomatoes.  Get this all mixed together well, do a taste test, do a little adjustment and then put a lid on it and turn it on lower heat and let it simmer for a while.  Mandy hates Italian seasoning like Oregano, so I didn't put it in.  I would definitely recommend it, so you can put about 1-2 Tbsp in at this time depending on how much you like it.  Check on the sauce every now and then, doing taste tests and making sure the sauce is happy.  While the sauce is simmering away, it is a perfect time to cook our gluten free pasta.  We went with brown rice spaghetti.  Just get a pot of water going with a little pat of butter and about 1-2 tbsp salt - that's right - it really does make a difference in the noodles when you salt the water well.  Don't worry - you are not going to drink the water - you're just going to eat the pasta.  Get the water boiling and get that pasta in there.  Try not to make the pasta feel guilty for making you gain weight - after all, someone worked hard to make all of that brown rice in to noodles.  After our noodles were finished, we dumped our finished sauce in a large bowl and then tossed the pasta in with the sauce and mixed it all around - perfection!  We just made a simple baby green salad with a simple little dijon mustard vinaigrette.  The dressing consists of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, a bit of raw apple cider vinegar, organic dijon mustard, lemon juice, and pepper.  Just mix it all up and adjust it to your taste.  Here is the salad.

 I hope you try this meal - it was great.  Don't forget to take a look at today's lunch! Enjoy!!
I am on a quest to reduce my use of vegetable oils in my diet, even though I already use very minimal amounts.  So today, I made a tangy butter and vinegar sauce for my little salad.  It tasted really good, but we will have to see how it holds up after a half a day in the Bento.  I sauteed a few baby portobellas in butter, got a little turkey and finally some of that leftover quiche with my pesto. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Another Lunch Idea - Sauteed Curry Spinach and Onions and Spicy Slaw

Today's lunch is awesome - I just finished eating it.  This morning I sauteed fresh spinach with some onions.  I liberally hit it with some curry, cayenne pepper, a little oregano, salt, and turmeric.  At the last minute, I added one clove of rough chopped garlic and then topped it off with some walnuts.  It smelled so great coming out of the Bento that I almost ate it cold - but I found a nearby microwave instead.  Also, something I have been perfecting here for the last couple of weeks is spicy broccoli slaw.  We get that organic broccoli slaw mix in the package, and it only takes a minute to make a little spicy sauce to top it with.  I mix olive or canola oil with a little bit of raw apple cider vinegar, a half a pinch of salt, a squirt of organic Dijon mustard, lemon juice and cayenne pepper - stir it all up and mix the slaw in with it.  It is so tangy and fresh even after being in the Bento half the day.  Mom baked an antibiotic free, veggie fed turkey and she let me have some.  I mixed the turkey with the curry spinach and onions and it was fantastic.  I threw in some broccoli to complete the meal.  Try it out and let me know what you think.  Enjoy!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

What's for Breakfast?

I have been attempting to make omellettes now since I was about 14 years old.  Emphasis here is on the word attempting.  Sometimes we assume something so simple should be really self explanatory to prepare, and we then totally ignore alternate methods as to how to do something the right way.  Of course I understand that there really is no "right way" to do one thing, unless of course that one way is far superior to any other method.  This is the case with the omelette.  I would always beat the eggs, add a little milk, pour it in the pan and then try to get all of my ingredients on to the egg as it cooked, and then somehow fold it all up.  Or, I would just mix all of the filling up in the egg mixture and pour it in the pan, let it cook a bit and then fold it all up or flip it over.  I became very discouraged lately, because I just seemed to suck at making omelettes.  Usually they all ended up as a scrambled egg concoction of what started as an already failing attempt at a beautiful omelette, and usually the egg was way overdone and brown.  Along came Bobby Flay, no not to my house, but there he was on TV one night throwin' it down omelette style and I knew that I had to check this out.  Long story short, I was missing the whole point, and now after several mornings of pure omelette joy, I am an omelette professional, flip and all.  Here is my breakfast this morning - a fabulous southwestern omelette.
OK, first you need to get all of your ingredients out and ready.  You will need:
2 organic, free range eggs
About a palm full of frozen fajita veggie mix. (Peppers and onions)
About a palm full of free range white cheddar cheese (Trader Joe's)
About a palm full of frozen spinach - or 2 cups fresh to cook down with frozen mix
Sour cream
Mild Salsa
Cayenne Pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

To start, get all of your veggies out and saute them in just a little oil and a pinch of salt on medium heat until they get soft.  After they are soft, take them out of the pan and put them on a plate to the side.  Clean the pan out well and dry it. 

Alright, as you can see I have everything out and ready to go.  Sour cream with a spoon, salsa with a spoon, cayenne is out, salt is out, veggies and cheese are on a plate to the left and a little oil in the pan on medium heat getting hot and ready for some eggie good stuff.  So, take your two eggs and beat them up pretty bad until the mixture is completely yellow and homogeneous.  You want to incorporate a lot of air in to the eggs while beating them, so don't be shy.  This way your omelette will be nice and fluffy.  When the eggs are beat and the pan is hot, pour the eggs in the pan and get the spatula ready.  As soon as the eggs start to cook the slightest bit, start swirling the mixture around gently while scraping it from the sides back in to itself.  You can make holes, it's OK, just swirl the wet stuff on top in to the holes.  Do this until you have a sort of circle of scrambled eggs held together by the liquid.  Take the spatula and run it around the edges and towards the middle until you are sure that the whole thing is loose and moves around in the pan when you grab the handle and shake it.  It should look something like this....

Let this cook a bit, shaking it all the while until it slides around easily.  You can flip the edge up with a spatula to make sure the other side isn't getting to done.  It should only take about 10 more seconds after you get it loose.  Now it's time to get your flip on.  Of course if you are a conservative person and don't like the idea of your omelette traveling through the air in your kitchen for a brief period of time then you can go through the painstaking steps to try and flip your eggs over with a spatula - good luck with that.  For everyone else, get your shaking rhythm going back and forth and when you feel comfortable throw the pan forward with some good force and then drop it down.  With a little practice the egg should flip right over and fall back in the pan on the other side.  I realize this will be easier for some than for others - I have played tennis my whole life and I feel like I may have a slight advantage when it comes to flipping omelettes considering I nailed it the first time.  Anyway, enough gloating - give it time and you will have the flip down.  So now that you are looking at the other side of the egg, start putting your filling on one side immediately.  You don't want the egg to be too done so this part needs to be done as quickly as possible.  Spoon on the salsa and sour cream over the peppers and cheese, sprinkle a pinch of salt and cayenne on the mixture,  and use the spatula to gently fold one side over the filling and slide the whole thing out of the pan on to your plate.  The really cool thing is now you can use a towel to shape the omelette.  Just place the towel over the omelette and roll one side over the other and mold it like you want it.  When you take the towel away, you are left with a perfect little omelette - outstanding!!

This breakfast has lots of veggies, a lot of good fats including a generous portion of omega 3s in the free range organic eggs and in the spinach, good protein - and it has no sugar, no refined carbohydrates, no easily digestible starches, no preservatives....I could go on, but in the end this breakfast will keep you feeling full for half the day and it is the best omelette ever.  Enjoy!!!

By the way, omelette can be spelled like that or like this...omelet.  Who knew?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Broccoli and Spinach Quiche with Homemade Pesto

OK, so this is my second quiche in the span of a couple of months - can you tell that I like quiche?  There aren't a whole lot of simpler, more satisfying gluten free dishes than a crust less quiche, and this one is drizzled with a little homemade pesto sauce.  I just finished reading The Queen of Fats by Susan Allport, and with the sheer amount of green leafy veggies, free range eggs, walnuts, high quality canola oil, and free range cheese in this one, hopefully this is a meal that will at least replace a few of my omega 6 fats in my cell membranes with some omega 3s.  That may be a simple explanation, but the implications in this book cannot be ignored.  Although omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are both essential to our bodies, it is evident that we have grown deficient in omega 3 fats because of the lack of green leafy veggies, emphasis on overall polyunsaturated fats instead of omega 3s, processed foods that inevitably reduce omega 3s for shelf life, and sadly the incorporation of too many omega 6 fatty acids in to our food animals tissues because of the improper diets fed to them and their poor living conditions.  So let's start doing something about that and get back to the quiche. 
5 cage free vegetarian fed, or free range eggs.
1 cup milk of your choice (I use local raw milk)
1 cup chopped broccoli (frozen thawed)
2 cups fresh organic spinach chopped rough
1 cup fresh Portobella mushroom diced
1/2 white onion chopped
1 cup free range, grass fed white cheddar cheese (Trader Joe's) hand shredded from the block

Pesto Sauce
2 cups organic fresh basil leaves chopped rough
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup Parmesan cheese grated from block
1-2 cloves garlic
Pinch of salt
Canola Oil (expeller pressed, no solvents)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For the quiche, get all of your veggies chopped and cheese grated.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Beat the eggs well so that the whites and yolks are homogeneous and then whisk in the milk.  (You can use heavy cream in place of milk)  Butter a pie dish with some unsalted organic butter.  Put all of your veggies and cheese in the pie pan and sprinkle a pinch of salt on top.  Pour the egg mixture over the veggies and mix it all up well with a fork. Make sure the veggies are dispersed evenly throughout the mixture and pop that bad boy in the oven for about 30-40 minutes or until the top of the quiche gets nice and brown.

While the quiche is in the oven.  Roughly chop the basil leaves and put them in a food processor.  Add walnuts, garlic clove, pinch of salt, and Parmesan cheese.  A little squirt of lemon juice wouldn't hurt either.  Turn on the food processor and after everything is chopped fine, start dribbling olive oil in to the mixture until the consistency is liquid, but not too runny.Finish the mixture off with some canola oil.  Experiment with the pesto.  This sauce is going to liven up your quiche and make it irresistible, so taste the pesto at every step and make sure it is tasting the way you would eat it.  There are no rules except your own rules when it comes to the food you are cooking, so don't be afraid to add a little more cheese, a little more salt, a little less walnut, or whatever until you like the taste of your pesto sauce.  After you get the pesto just right, the quiche should be about done.  Take her out of the oven, drizzle (or plop) some pesto on top and you are done.  Store your pesto and quiche in the fridge (unlike Mandy who left our quiche out on the counter top all night long) for the next day and maybe even the next day if you don't eat it all before then.  Enjoy!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

GF, Vegetarian Onion and Shroom Soup with Portabella Pizzas!!

French onion soup is traditionally made with beef stock.  I love it, so I decided to try my hand at a vegetarian version using veggie stock.  It worked out surprisingly well and will become a staple soup in the house from now on.  Along with the soup, I made some portobella mushroom pizzas that were delicious.  Together they made a fantastic vegetarian meal that warms you up from the inside out. 

One small white onion cut in to half circles (long strands)
One cup of cooked mushrooms or canned
4 cups vegetable stock (be sure and get a brand that has no msg, natural flavor or other additives)
2 cups water
2 tsp cumin
2 cloves garlic chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large slice Swiss or Gruyere cheese
    Portobella Pizzas
4-5 large portobella mushrooms
1 can crushed tomatoes
1/2 pack frozen spinach
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1/2 fresh lemon for juice
extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 cups white cheddar cheese

To make the soup, get your veggie broth and water going in a large pot.  Throw in the cumin, and salt and pepper the broth to taste, but this is going to cook down a little so don't over salt it.  While that is warming up, saute garlic, onions, a pinch of salt and if you're using fresh shrooms, them too, in some olive oil.  Saute them on a lower temp so they can sit for a while and really cook down.  At this point, stem the portobellas and put them in the oven at 300 for about 10 minutes just to get them a little soft before we top them.  Put the crushed tomatoes, garlic powder, onion powder, and spinach all together in a sauce pot.  Turn the heat on med. and cover until hot.  Salt the tomato sauce mixture to taste, and if you want, throw a little cayenne in there to give it a slight kick.  Let the sauce sit, covered on low heat until you are ready to use it. By now your onions and mushrooms should be ready to throw in to the pot of veggie broth.  Dump them in and give them a stir.  If you are using canned mushrooms, just dump them in now.  Turn this on low heat and let simmer while you get the pizzas ready.  Take your portobellas out of the oven and drizzle just a bit of olive oil on each one, and squirt some fresh lemon juice on each one also.  Spread a generous portion of your tomato and spinach sauce on top and drop a hunk of shredded white cheddar on top of that and spread the cheese around.  Add a half pinch of salt to the top of each pizza and they're ready to go, but you have to wait on the soup first.  Ladle some of your soup in to bowls, and this is where you top each bowl with a large piece of Swiss or Gruyere cheese.  Don't worry if it doesn't float.  Place the soups on the tray with the pizzas and put the whole tray in the oven at about 450 until all the cheese on the pizza and soup is melty and hot.  Take it all out and serve it up.  How easy was that?  Enjoy!!

Did you really think you would get away without seeing today's lunch? 

 Canned salmon, cottage cheese and pineapple, 1 sm carrot w/ a little peanut butter, and today I am trying Brussels sprouts (well seasoned cause I am not very confident about liking these).

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sardines and a Quick Book Review - Please Read!!!

Today we're trying sardines for lunch.  I got some that didn't have soybean oil or any nasty additives (hard to find).  Also, my favorite, cottage cheese and pineapple, broccoli, and a few mixed nuts.  If you're looking for a cottage cheese without maltodextrin added among other things that still tastes great, I would recommend Daisy brand.  Most of this blog has been dedicated to mostly vegetarian foods for ethical reasons in Mandy's and my case.  It is very hard for us to think about animals having to die, usually in ways not considered humane, so that we can eat their flesh - but can dying before your time be considered humane in any form? Although we have continued to eat eggs, milk, and cheese - we have mostly relied on whole carbohydrates to make up the rest of our diets over the past several months.  It was after I had finished reading Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes that we have lately tried to start adding more fat and protein to our diets and less carbohydrates in general, especially easily digestible carbs or simple sugars.  The book is a tireless account of all major research done on weight loss and Western disease in the past 100 years.  The book simply walks us through every major research experiment conducted, reviews the results and then explains how the results were interpreted and what parts of the research were communicated to the public and what parts were not.  The implications are very clear, and frustration can quickly consume anyone reading this book when you start to realize that everything any major institution told us was healthy was in most cases totally opposite of what the results showed.  There is much to take from this wonderful book, and at first my translation was to start re-thinking my need for animal protein.  We decided to incorporate some grass fed beef, a lot more eggs and cheese, more fish and we started adopting a sort of really low carb diet.  Still the ethical implications of this diet are nagging, so for now it is fish and eggs and cheese - maybe a little red meat now and then but I will continue my research in a quest to become fully vegetarian if my body will allow it.  Whatever the case, it is perfectly clear that refined and easily digestible carbohydrates not only cause weight gain, but through insulin response to glucose and then to many other processes all of the Western diseases of civilization can be attributed to the addition of these foods also.  One other clear implication on the other end of the carb spectrum is that green vegetables should not be limited.  If you have any interest in research, food, health or really any interest in life then you must read Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes.  I have lost 30 lbs and have easily maintained this loss simply by removing refined carbs. from my diet.  On a final note, I am about a third of the way through The China Study by T. Colin Campbell.  This book so far may just be the antithesis of Good Calories, Bad Calories, and so I push on to find some common ground among all of this research.  In the meantime, if we know one thing that both books will agree upon it is that refined, processed foods are killing us - so throw them out today.