Monday, March 30, 2009

Popcorn Balls

I love teaching to my homeschooling group. And I think they love me teaching them. I mean who wouldn't want food as part of their class. So today we made the Corn-Olive Salad and then for dessert we made popcorn balls. Now tell me what kid would not want to make popcorn balls. these were simple stupid and actually healthy. I even convinced one mother to forgo her microwave popcorn for it takes only 2 more minutes than microwaved popcorn and much healthier. I wish my son and husband would let go of the microwave, I could use thee extra space.

I did inform the children that this would definitely be a messy dish to make, they were champing at the bit to dive in, and "Get down and dirty!" As my favorite little boy chef said in class today. This is also not a dish you want to let children do unsupervised. You are dealing with boiling sugars...always a dangerous combination. So this would be a great dish for parents and kids to do together. So look in your cupboards and see what you can find for your next party where there are children involved.

1/2 cup honey
2 T maple syrup
1/4 cup water
1 t vanilla
6 cups POPPED popcorn
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine honey, maple syrup and water. Bring to a boil and cook until mixture becomes thick enough to form a ball when you drop 1/4 t into a glass of VERY cold water.

Stir in vanilla, then pour syrup over popcorn.

When syrup mixture has cooled slightly, lightly oil your hands and toss popcorn to thoroughly coat with syrup. Form into 12 balls and serve immediately or wrap in wax paper to store.

** This recipe says to lightly oil your hands, but trust me when I say you will need to pretty much slather your hands in oil. I am not talking to the point where they are dripping in oil, but you do need a decent amount on your hands, or trust me they popcorn will stick to your hands**

Also, when you scoop up the popcorn to start forming a ball, you want to cup your hands together in an interlocking formation. For those who know what I am talking about, it is the way you hold your hands when you are rolling out dough in your hands for homemade biscuits. But in this instance, you want to have too much popcorn, for you are going to star squishing the popcorn down to make it smaller.

You will do this slowly and steadily. And you will have to use your muscles. The children thought I was kidding when I told them this tidbit of information. I mean how could forming popcorn balls be hard on the muscles....they learned to listen to the Cooking Lady. Once you have formed the balls into the shape you want, just put them on a platter and serve. Remember, the more you squish, the more compact they will become but the better for handling and eating they will be.

Corn Olive Salad

I am a homeschooling mom who teaches cooking to many of the students within our local group. I have been doing this for five years now and I still love it like the first day I started. But this week I was ill prepared for class and was scrambling for a dish or two to make. So, Last Minute Larry here, got our here Vegetarian Times recipe cards and scoured to find two vegan dishes. And what do you know, I found two that the kids would hopefully love. One I knew was a shoe in, but thee other was iffy at best.

I have told these children time and time again, that they will not like everything we make...that is life. So on to recipe number on. This one is great, especially with spring coming up, and all the lovely colors, try this one, it is a keeper for sure.

1 16 oz package corn kernels, thawed
1 medium red or green pepper (I would go with the red, only for the color effect)
1/4 cup black olives, chopped
1 celery stalk, diced
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 T olive oil
3 T apple cider vinegar
1 t honey (Or use your own liquid sweetner)
1/2 t dried dill (We skipped this one)
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Place in refrigerator until ready to serve.

**If those instructions were to difficult for you then you can always email me or call me** NOT!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Middle Eastern Rice With Lentils

It's either feast or famine with me. Two new dishes in as many days. This one is an odd dish, and only because we, as Americans would not combine these spices or flavors, but in the Mediterranean, they do it all the time. This dish is a tweaker, which means we need to play with it. But I liked it, and I myself am not use to this combination of spices and definitely would not try it on guests until I mastered it.

So get outside of your cooking boxes and give this one a try.

1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 T vegetable oil (We used canola)
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 T tomato paste
2&1/2 cups of water
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/4 cup dry lentils
1 t salt
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted (We did not have these, but make sure you have them, Savanah and I think this was the part that would have truly sent this dish over the a good way)
Additional water if needed
In a large saucepan, cook thee onion in oil, stirring until soft, over medium heat. Add the rice and stir, for several minutes. Combine the tomato paste with the water and cinnamon. Add to the rice along with the lentils. Bring to a boil, cover and lower the heat. Simmer for 3o minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Stir the salt, raisins and pine nuts into the rice mixture. The mixture should be a little watery; add 1/4 cup if it is dry. Place the mixture in a greased 2&1/2 quart baking dish. Cover and bake for 20-30 minutes.

The times on all of this dish were dead on, at least for our stove and oven they were. Make this and open your palette to new flavors.

Key West Barbecue Sauce

This is to go with my previous post. But you can use this where ever you see fit. If it enhances your cornflakes then by all means go for it. You get my drift. I am also going to embed a link to the previous post once this one is up. enjoy, for me and my daughter did and oh so simple.

1/2 cup catsup
1/3-1/2 cup sugar or honey(We used 1/3 of honey)
2 T fresh lime juice (We had lemons on hand)
2 cloves garlic, minced (Ooops, I so forgot this ingredient, not next time, that is for sure)
1 small onion minced
4 T vegetarian Worcestershire sauce (Did not have this ingredient)
1 t hot sauce
In a heavy, medium saucepan, combine all thee ingredients. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer 20-30 minutes (That is when the tofu is draining). Serve over tofu.

I will use this sauce not only on the tofu dish, but also on any burgers I make, this is my new found love. I love BBQ sauces, and now especially this one.

Tofu With Key West Barbecue Sauce

This is s lovely gem from my new Vegetarian Times Cookbook. Some things are the simplest finds. this has turned out to be a real god-send. But, on to the recipe. I have always wanted to know what to do with tofu. It is one of the first questions I am asked after, "What do you eat", or, "How do you get your protein?" But I just don't have enough recipes to try out, and I would hate to waste an entire block of tofu if I did not like the dish. But in this instance, that was not the case. This was great from the get go. There is a BBQ sauce that comes with the recipe and I will post it as soon as I am finished with this one.

You can use this BBQ sauce on anything your little heart desires. It has a little bite, but not too much that you could not serve it to woosies...I mean wimps...I mean those with delicate tongues. So go grab your blocks of tofu and spark up the frying pan.

1 pound extra firm tofu (Extra firm is a must on this one)
2 T unbleached white flour
2 T corn meal
1&1/2 t poultry seasoning (We all know there is no poultry in this)
2 t nutritional yeast ( got to love the crunch this gives things)
1/2 t salt (It says optional, I didn't know salt was an option)
1/4 t ground pepper
2 t prepared mustard (We used plain ole yellow mustard, but will experiment with others next time)
4 T canola oil or peanut (We used canola)
Cut tofu on the short end into 1/4 inch slices. Drain on a dish cloth for 30 minutes (Beats the heck out of pressing it). On a plate (I used a plate bowl. If you have one you know what I am talking about), mix together the flour, cornmeal poultry seasoning, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Brush the drained tofu on both sides with mustard, then roll (more like dredge) in the cornmeal mixture. Set aside.

Heat 1 T oil in a heavy skillet (A heavy skillet is s must on this one, if not the possibility of burning is much greater) over a medium heat. Carefully place four slices of tofu in the skillet, without crowding, and cook, flipping once they are golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Keep warm in a slow oven while you cook the remaining tofu in the remaining oil. (We only used 2 T of oil). And there was no need for a slow oven. This dish went right to the table and was gobbled up.

P.S. Sauce in the next post.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Oatmeal Raisin Carrot Cookies

Well I think I have found a semi-healthy cookie. Yes, you heard right. I have been following this blog called Baking Bites every now and the, and they have some really good recipes and ideas as well. But I was looking for a good oatmeal cookie, and not one that was laden with butter. I don't have problem with better, I just don't want to keep wiping off my fingers because the cookie is drenched in the stuff. Well I think I found a happy medium to my dilemma. You have got to try these Oatmeal Cookies for they are to die for.

Here is the recipe, but scoot on over and give this blog the once over, you will not be sorry.

Oatmeal Raisin Carrot Cookies

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup grated carrots

1 cup quick-cooking (1 minute) oats

1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, vanilla and spices.

With the mixer on low speed, or working by hand, stir in flour mixture. Once no streaks of flour remain, stir in carrots, oats and raisins.Drop tablespoonfuls of batter onto prepared baking sheets and flatten slightly.Bake for 11-13 minutes, until cookies are set and lightly browned on the edges. Cool for 3 or 4 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
See my lovely creation? And boy are they fun to look at, and delicious as well. Enjoy folks!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hoppin' John

First recipe form new-found bargain cookbook (see previous post). I am from the South, and yes Florida is the south, I mean come on, has anyone looked at a map or globe lately? If we were any further south we would be in the Caribbean. So I grew up on Southern cuisine. But it was always loaded with bacon fat, ham hocks, salt back, pig knuckles, you name it, it when in the beans and greens (which were usually collards).

But as I got older and learned to cook and then became a vegetarian (the first time) I learned there were options out there and that I did not have to load up my beans and greens with animal fat for them to taste good.

I was/is still a big fan of black eyed peas. I could eat them every day of the week. So when I found out what Hoppin' John was, I was delighted to know that I had been eating that all of my life. My family ever referred to it as Hoppin' John, just plain 'ol black eyed peas, which was accompanied by rice (which my mother or grandmother never learned how to cook) and tomatoes (usually canned at home). Good eats. And I always topped it with a chopped onion and some hot vinegar, and banana peppers, or anything else that would kick it up a notch. Great memories.

So when I was skimming through this lovely little gem I recently picked up I came across Hoppin' John. I had all the ingredients (always a plus when trying a new recipe) and decided to give these black eyed peas a whirl. This recipe is slightly different from the ones I make. Mine are smokier, there are a cleaner taste with a bit of a bite. Still the bowl was empty by the end of dinner. Try this guys out and you will sigh y'all were buddies with Paula Deen.

1&1/4 cups dry black eyed peas
4 cups water
1&1/2 cups chopped onion
1 clove garlic (I think I used 2 , oooops)
1 bay leaf
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t cayenne pepper
8 ounces tempeh
1 T low-sodium soy sauce (We use tamari)
Salt to taste
Soak peas overnight (We don't do this, for this bean cooks up quite fast). Bring to a rolling boil then turn down to a high simmer and let cook. (But do not cook until the beans is mushy). Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf, black pepper and cayenne pepper.

Brush the tempeh on both sides with soy sauce; set aside for 5 minutes. Coarsely chop the tempeh and add to the peas. Simmer another hour (Check the firmness of your beans, for you may not need an extra hour) Remove and discard the bay leaf Mash the peas slightly to make a sauce.

We served this in an oblong casserole dish over a bed of rice and with a medium freshly chopped tomato on top. This was a complete meal for Savanah and I. Good eats!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Oy Vey...What A Bahgan

Who knew the treasure trove you could find at an Anime convention. Before we hooked up with my sister and her crew, my son and I went to the Museum part of the gardens. They had Japanese art, a outdoor cafe, theatre, souvenir shop and a library. The library had a wide variety of books, but it hung on the side of anything related to Japan...Duh!

So my son and I are browsing through some of the books as we always do everywhere we go and he spots a vegetarian cookbook. I go to where he is, pick it up and see that is one of the Vegetarian Times Cookbooks. Why, this thing was a beauty. Then something caught my eye, a tiny little sticker that had $.50 marked on it. This could not be happening to me, not today, could it be? So I asked. "Excuse me ma'am, but is this book for sale?" As I pointed to the tiny sticker on the front of the book. "Yes." she said, "Everything in here is for sale." Little did she know that I could give a rats hiney about everything else, I just wanted this particular book and be gone with it. So I dug in my fanny pouch and found a single dollar bill. "Here, and keep the change, for you have made me the happiest lady in the world right now." I told her as I glowed all the way out the door with my new cookbook.

I have not even had a chance to skim through it, I am still recovering form the Anime convention. Either I am old or out of shape, or a bit of both. I will let you all know as I begin to pull recipes from this delicious (pun completely intended) hunk of a book! Wish me luck.

Japanese Anime

Yesterday (3-21-2009), I took my son, daughter and her boyfriend to an anime convention down in Fort Lauderdale to a beautiful Japanese Garden called Morikami Museum . Now I know Jack Diddly about anime, in fact I think it is totally weird, but then again I am a Trekkie, and I know how we are perceived. With that said, I was a bit concerned with what our food choices were going to be when we got there.

So, we packed a lunch of sub sandwiches just in case our potions were limited. Well, we had soooo many choices. Usually there is cultural food at these events, whether it be Japanese or Mexican, or German, but there is always your good old vendor with a slice of pizza, or a hot dog or burger. Well this time the tables were turned. I went up just to check out some of the food and all the ethnic food vendors were lined up. You had vegetable tempura, Japanese cabbage salad, and a plethora of other items. So us vegetarians, and yes, even vegans could have survived for one meal.

My sister treated me to lunch, which was actually quite affordable for the amount you were given. So I opted for the eggplant and rice (which was white). Well well well, I no know what to do with Japanese eggplant. It is so cool when you eat somewhere and eat something and you have a good idea what ingredients are in there (Go River!). This dish was so delicious in its simplicity.

If I had to say, it was sauteed in a mixture of Hoisin and some soy sauce. But it was not too salty or too sweet, so it was the perfect blend of the two. It was a great day despite the downpours. Here in Florida we needed the rain, but it would have been nicer if the skies had waited until we left the Gardens. We are already planning our next years convention.

Friday, March 20, 2009

How Do You Like Your Pancakes?

Well I thought I liked mine with a bit of butter and maple syrup and maybe with some sliced fruit on top, maybe some homemade whipped cream, peanut butter and jelly perhaps, but never in a million years would I have thought to put garlic on my pancakes. Wait, this is so worth the telling.

We made pancakes this morning and everything was going along fine and dandy when all of a sudden I get this garlicky taste in my mouth, but it is not super over powering, just enough for you to wonder. But I keep on eating. See, here is the deal.

Last night Savanah made garlic bread, and there was a bit of butter left over in the butter dish. Well, me being the ever frugal mom, did not want even a tablespoon of butter to go to waste. So I gets me my spatula and scrape that butter plate like there was no tomorrow. Little did I know that that was the same bowl that Savanah had used for her garlic bread last night. Hence our pancakes having a tinge of garlic this morning.

Do not attempt this at home folks.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chopped Mock Liver

I am totally in love with my How it all Vegan cookbook.

I am not a mushroom lover. I cook with them, but then I pick them out. It is a texture thing. But I had run across this recipe in my cookbook and thought I would give it a whirl. All I need to do is get some crackers to put this lovely appetizer on. Make this stuff after you read this recipe, you will not regret it...I did not.

1 cup mushroom, roughly chopped
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 T olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper (we used freshly ground)
In a medium saucepan, saute the mushrooms and onions on medium heat until onions become translucent. In a blender or food processor, chop the walnuts and add the mushroom/onion mixture and salt and pepper. Blend together for 30 seconds. Serve chilled. Makes about 3/4 cup.

I did add about 1 t extra of olive oil to help it blend together, and I could not wait for it to cool down before trying.I am now a lover of mushrooms. And in my opinion, do not skimp on the pepper, it gives it a lovely kick.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Saving My Assetts

We have recently started composting, which I will eventually post about, one day soon in this century. But I have had cause to appreciate my composting, especially today.

I have been sick lately, and will cover that as well in an upcoming post, but suffice it to say I wanted to get as much cleaned with as little effort as possible. Insert children. My daughter took all veggies out of their perspective drawers and lay them upon the counter tops of the kitchen. The only item that was close to being lost was my 3 bunches of parsley. So I threw them into an ice bath and them puppies came back to life.

I ran them through the salad spinner and began chopping off the stems separating the parsley into 3 bowls, yes, 3 bowls. One was for tonight's tabbouleh which was about 85 %, the next bowl was for juice, meaning it was not up to par for the salad, and last but certainly not least was our composting bowl. Man, are we good or what?

See, nothing goes to waste any longer here in our home, or at least since we started composting.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Raw OMG Chocolate Pudding

For those of you who do not know, I am NOT a chocolate lover by any stretch of the means. But here I am posting about this chocolate dish I stumbled upon quite by accident. I went to our local health food store and dropped off a raw video I had gotten form the library to one of the workers there. Hi Kim! I went in to give her the DVD and she was in the middle of her weekly weight loss class. I apologized for interrupting her class, but then began to tell the ladies sitting there about this lovely little treasure I found quite by accident.

The first part of the DVD is about raw foodism. And the second half is all recipes. What I found most interesting about the recipes was that for the most part they were all normal ingredients (for us at least). So she was glad to see me and told some of the ladies there in her class the lovelies of eating raw food. There is a point to this story.

As soon as I sat down she pointed to the little card table that usually housed flyers and the such in regard to whatever class was going on at that time. I saw what looked like something chocolaty. And boy was I right. She had made, get this, raw chocolate mousse. Now you notice my title is pudding. For, to me at least, it has more of a consistency of pudding then mousse, but why quibble of things like this when we are speaking of chocolate.

I practically ran home and made it immediately, but I can tell you this. If there are any chocolate lover in your house, please double this recipe and if for a party, then quadruple. Trust me you will not be sorry. But in my own defense, I love chocolate pudding. So please make this and tell me what you think. I just hope there is still some around by the time Mr Cooking Lady gets home.

4-5 pitted medjool dates, soaked(this is a must)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup or agave nectar
1/2 t vanilla
2 avocados (we used haas)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup water (possibly more)
Place the dates, syrup and vanilla in a food processor until smooth. Add the avocado and cocoa powder and process until creamy. Stop occasionally to scrape down sides of the bowl. Add the water and process briefly. Store in sealed container (I have no idea what for, this dish will not last until supper time).

Extras: Add chocolate protein powder when ready to eat. You may have to add a little more water if needed.

*For more of a frosting consistency or for a substitution for frosting, omit the water.

* For chocolate sauce, increase the water to 1/2 cup

* For ice cream, freeze for at least 4 hours

For those who make this one, let me know what you think. This dish may convert even the stubbornest of non-chocolate lovers yet.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Everything In The Frig Egg Rolls

Well since our pot stickers episode, I have been on an Asian roll...get it...roll. Anyhow, on to the recipe. I picked up the egg roll wrappers and headed home form my weekly shopping trip. We had not gone produce shopping this week when I said to Savanah, "Let's make egg rolls." And she wanted to know with what. And I told her, "With anything we have in the frig that doe snot need to be thrown into the compost bin (Yeah, we are composting now, but that will be for another post). So rummage through the frig we did.

We came up with cabbage, carrots, onions, some green, and tofu, oh yeah, ginger and garlic. We sauteed them and began wrapping. We heated up our little deep fryer and off we went. Savanah had said that Alton Brown did not saute his veggies before wrapping them, but I am not ready for crispy insides to my egg rolls just yet.

Our saute juice was:
1T sesame oil
2-3 T tamari
1-2 t sweetener

We just poured that over the veggies as they sauteed and Viola, we had dinner. We heated some left over rice and had a salad and we were done. Darn it's good being a vegetarian. Who has time for meat to defrost if you forgot to pull out the meat. Woo Hoo to those of us who need not defrost meat. Sing it with me girls. Oooo Oooo!