Archive for the 'Fast & easy home made' Category

28
Jan
11

Triple Chocolate Threats

Evil temptress chocolate treat

 

Sometimes I question which is it that I am most addicted to, the consumption of sugary

goodness or the creation of such treats?  I enjoy both, but if I had to choose but one, I’m

pretty sure that creation would win.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I would have a really hard

time shaking the sugar monkey off my back.  He’s been with me for deep.  But, I know I could

do it.  I’m just not ready yet.

Now, the thought of never baking another cake, cookie or pie strikes fear into my very soul.

Severe depression would be inevitable if I could never bake again.  Ya’ know, let’s just

not go down that path.

Many posts ago I shared a recipe and pictures of Lemon Coconut Pixies.  The recipe came from

the Hershey Company.  I have a recipe tin that was given to me as a birthday gift in 2009

and it sat on our kitchen counter for 10 months  before I ever made anything from it.  That

post was 13 months ago, so it’s time for another recipe from the tin.

HERSHEY’S Triple Chocolate Cookies

48 Hershey’s Kisses Milk chocolate or Milk Chocolate with Almonds (that’s what I used)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened (I used butter, of course)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 tablespoon milk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Hershey’s cocoa (I used cocoa powder form that bulk bins at WinCo)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Hershey’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate chips ( I used Safeway brand)

1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees F. 

What else was I going to do with all this candy left over from Christmas? I did play poker with it the night before I baked the cookies!

 

Mmmmm.......chocolate!

Remove wrappers from chocolates.
2.  Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium

speed in a large bowl until well blended.  Add eggs and milk; beat well.
3.  Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into butter mixture,

beating until well blended.  Stir in chocolate chips. 

Make all the comments you want, it still tastes good

 Shape dough into 1 inch balls. 

Oven bound

Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Fresh out of the oven and hot

4.  Bake 10 – 11 minutes or until set. 

Press kisses into the center of each cookie while still hot

 Gently press a chocolate into center of each cookie.  Remove to wire rack and cool completely.

VARIATION:  For vanilla cookies, omit cocoa powder and add an additional 1/3 cup all-purpose flour.

I made the recipe verbatim, but I wanted to see how they would look with a little added sparkle.  I rolled the dough balls in granulated sugar before I baked another round.  Here is what that looked like.

Roll in granulated sugar for added sparkle

Both versions taste great. 

So good when they're still warm. The chocolate kiss in the center and the chocolate chips are all soft and gooey.

I can clearly state, with authority, that these are delicious.   After all, chocolate, chocolate AND chocolate?  How could they not be tasty?  These beauties will be added to my chorus line of confection.

Oh, great!  One more sweet memory to send packing with that monkey.

11
Jan
11

The world needs another Kale Salad recipe

The top selling salad at work is the Kale Carrot.  I made a batch of it yesterday.  It will all be sold out by the end of today.  How much kale is in a batch at a busy deli?  20 large bunches.  8 cups of toasted sunflower seeds and about 25 carrots. 

A few posts back I gave you the recipe for the kale salad we sell at work.  Kale is our new green at home.  I used to make dinner salad with romaine, but it has been replaced with kale.  I love it!  Plus, it has to be better for us than romaine or leafy green lettuce, right?

Lots of good nutrition in that bowl

According to Food Lover’s Companion, kale is a member of the cabbage family.  It is a cruciferous plant (having four-petaled flowers, suggestive of a cross) that provides ample amounts of vitamins A and C, folic acid, calcium and iron.  I knew it was better for us than romaine!

So, last night our salad consisted of kale, shredded carrot, red onion, thinly sliced, a handful of chopped walnuts and satsuma wedges.  The satsumas are in season now and are oh, so sweet and juicy.  Be sure to remove the stems from the kale and wash the leaves.  Slice the leaves into thin strips.

Pretty little citrusy dressing

The dressing is what really made this salad outstanding.   Here goes:

1 large spoonful (2 tablespoons) of vegenaise

1 heaping tablespoon of frozen orange juice conentrate

1 tablespoon of orange muscat vinegar (Trader Joe’s)

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons pure maple syrup

zest of one orange

Whisk it all together in a small bowl and dress salad.  Salad is best if the dressing has a chance to soak into the kale for about 30 minutes or more before serving.  I usually make the salad first and then prepare the rest of our meal.

A microplane is a great tool for zesting

If you don’t have a microplane, you can use a cheese grater.  A microplane is just so much easier to use and you get a finer zest.

A lovely salad for any time of the year

I hope you give this one a try.  We really liked it.  What did I serve this with?  Butternut Squash Ravioli in a garlic veloute sauce topped with Parmesan cheese and sweet and spicy roasted Brussel sprouts.  But it would be good just on it’s own with perhaps a hunk of garlic bread.

20
Jun
10

Deli? We don’t need no stinkin’ deli!

And neither do you.  Here is an easy, quick deli style salad that you can whip up in the privacy of your own kitchen.  It features quinoa, one of my personal favorite grains.  If you are not yet familiar with quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) I strongly suggest that you two should get acquainted.  It cooks up like rice, is packed with protein and it looks pretty cute!

Colorful, tasty Quinoa Salad

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 bunch green onion, cleaned and thinly sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 orange bell pepper, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 jalapeno, diced (I prefer to use the whole pepper including the membrane and seeds, but if you are a light weight, you can ditch them)

2 tablespoons rough chopped cilantro

Bring 1 1/2 cups salted water to a boil.  Add quinoa, stir and lower heat to simmer.  Place lid on pot and simmer for 19 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir to fluff.  Spread cooked quinoa on a baking sheet and allow to cool.

Once quinoa has cooled, place in a large bowl and toss with remaining ingredients.  Make dressing:

1/4 cup lime juice

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 – 2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon of cayenne, if you want more kick to it

Whisk all together in a small bowl.  Pour over salad and toss to coat well.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Ready for it's close up, just to make you hungry

I think this is best after the ingredients have had a chance to mingle and marry.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.  This will last for about 3 days in the refrigerator, but it never lasts that long at our house!

24
May
10

The healthy eating will continue

It happens everyday

I can’t believe it’s May.  It’s difficult to believe that May is almost over.  Portland weather is always entertaining.  One minute the sun is shining, then it turns dark as dusk and the sky opens up and torrential rain is upon us.  Then it turns to icy hail. All at once, it comes to a screeching halt and there is that ol’ sun again.  I love Portland. 

Our garden continues to thrive because of, and in spite of, this weather pattern.  And it saves us an awful lot on our water bill.  I have high hopes that our garden will not only save us money by growing in our yard and not having to make constant trips to the market, but will keep us eating happy and healthy meals. 

We’ve been going strong on this healthy eating path.  We started making healthier choices in December, while Katie was recovering from a surgery.  She threatened to start making her own meals because she needed vegetables.  Well, any of you that read this and know me, know that I wasn’t havin’ any of it.  The kitchen is “ours” but I’m pretty territorial when it comes to food and the production of it.  Plus, I couldn’t have her getting slim and healthy and leaving me struggling along, huffing and puffing and being chubby in her skinny shadow.  No effin’ way! 

So I jumped right on that healthy merry-go-round and I have no intention of falling off.  We are slimming down naturally, without effort, and it feels and tastes so delicious.  I’ve lost 8 pounds since January!  No Weight Watchers, no meetings, no starving.  Common sense and a culinary knack are what I have going for me.  And it’s working. 

So, enough of my rambling.  I want to show you something easy and tasty.  Oh, and it’s healthy, too.  Here’s a picture of a typical dinner at Chez Tolbert: 

It may look like a lot of food, but it is so low in fat and calories

Green salad (lettuce from our garden), wheat berries with cannellini beans and Field Roast Smoked Applewood Veggie Sausage, and Zucchini Ribbon “Pasta” topped with Savory Mushroom Sauce.  Yum. 

I always dug in my heels when it came to eating zucchini.  I never liked it.  At least rarely did I like it.  It’s a texture thing.  People always  over cook it, in my humble opinion.  I discovered it’s not bad when you use thin strips of it as a pasta alternative. 

so simple, so quick

The first time I tried this method, I used my electric slicer.  It’s like the ones the deli’s use, only a lot smaller.  But for the sake of the blog, I decided to use a vegetable peeler this time.  It worked great!  I figured not everyone has a home slicer, but a vegetable peeler, even non cooks have those. 

Really, anyone can make this

See how simple that is? 

Looks kinda like pappardelle, yeah?

I used 2 zucchini for this meal.  Rule of thumb: use 1 zucchini per person. 

So, that’s it.  No cooking.  Set the zucchini ribbons aside and make the sauce. 

Let the sauce making begin!

Thinly slice 1 leek, mince 1 shallot and 2 cloves of garlic.  Add a small amount of olive oil to a hot  pan and gently saute until softened. 

Mmmm...smells so good

Next, add some sliced mushrooms.  I used creminis, because we like ’em. 

Looking good

You can use whatever mushrooms you prefer.  A combination is always good. 

Once again, I wish computer screens had scratch and sniff!

Continue sauteing until the mushrooms soften.  Add seasonings to taste:  salt, pepper, dried oregano and dried basil. 

Oh, mamma, these are smelling so good right now

Once the mushrooms have softened and browned a bit, move everything to the sides of the pan, making a circular opening in the center of the pan.  Add a bit more olive oil, about 1/2 tablespoon and then sprinkle in some flour, a couple of tablespoons. 

Does anyone else see a cartoon bear face in there?

Cook the flour for a minute or two, till it starts to brown slightly. 

Stir and brown flour

  I like to add some hot sauce at this point.  It’s optional. 

Squirt in some hot sauce of choice - this is Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce

Now I add some vegetable stock.  You can use home-made or store-bought stock.  I make it every week, so I always have it on hand. 

Add some stock and you have sauce

Add stock about 1/2 cup at a time.  I like to use a ladle for this step. Just add and cook until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. 

This looks, smells and tastes just right

Place zucchini ribbons in a large serving bowl or platter.  Top with hot sauce.  Finely chop some fresh Italian Parsley and sprinkle on top, for a pretty presentation. 

Dinner is served

Then toss gently to combine.  The heat of the sauce with cause the “noodles” to soften, but not get mushy.  It’s fast and easy and best of all, tastes great. 

Damn, that's a healthy looking dinner!

17
Mar
10

Enchilada casserole tutorial

 A few weeks ago we had  a party at our place  and I made a vegetarian “chicken” enchilada casserole.  Everyone loved it!  Some people were very confused, saying “I thought you guys were vegetarian; there’s chicken in here!”  Well, yeah, but no.  There wasn’t any dead yard bird in there, just good ol’ Trader Joe’s Chickenless Strips.  I’ve posted a picture of the box a few posts back.  I like using those things.  They are so handy when it comes to doing recipe reduxes involving chicken.  Trying to make mostly vegetable heavy meals now days, I like to indulge in some processed stuff once in a while.  Moderation in everything, right?

The night before last I decided to make the casserole for dinner.  Since it was such a hit at the party, I thought I should share it with my blog audience this time.  So here goes:

The first layer

This is made like a lasagna, in layers.  The first layer I spooned in some green enchilada sauce (yes, from a can!), two corn tortillas (or what ever fits in your dish), sprinkle a little grated cheese (I used pepper jack and cheddar), chopped onion, sliced olives, chopped jalapeno, and chopped Trader Joe’s Chickenless Strips (I sauted these first in a little olive oil, added garlic powder, cumin, salt and chili powder to taste).

Layer two more corn tortillas

Ladle more green enchilada sauce on top

Add a little grated cheese

Add the chickenless strip chunks, sliced olives, chopped jalapeno, chopped onions

Load the top up with cheese

And bake it until it looks like this!  Preheat your oven while you are building your casserole to 350 degrees.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until it is browned and bubbling.  The other night when this was baking I made Spicy Quinoa instead of rice and refried black beans.  I’ve shown you in past posts how I make refried beans so I’m not going to get into that this time.  I am, however, going to show you  a little step by step action with the quinoa.

Before you heat the pan, have a measuring cup with the liquid ready.  I have a 1 cup plastic measuring cup that has all of the cool markings on it.  I put 1 – 2 tablespoons of chili paste or salsa into the cup and add water or stock up to the 3/4 cup  marking.  Add a small amount of olive oil to a small sauce pan.  Heat over medium high heat, saute a couple tablespoons chopped onions, add some salt, cumin and chili powder to taste and 1/2 cup quinoa.  Stir often until quinoa starts to brown a little.

  Add your liquid and reduce heat to low and cover pan with lid.  Cook until all of the liquid has evaported, about 19 minutes.  Fluff with fork when done.

And this is what it looks like when it is done!  My lighting is a little strange here, so don’t freak if you make this and it isn’t this color, okay?

Add a  green salad and you’ve got yourself a nice balanced meal.  This is better than any Mexican restaurant and a lot lower in fat.  The whole thing takes less than an hour from start to finish.  And, yeah, we really eat meals like this almost every day.  Just ask Katie!

13
Oct
09

Fried Green Tomato Tacos aka Vegetarian Fish Tacos

I am determined to use all of those green tomatoes in our garden!  Last night’s dinner consisted of fried green tomato tacos, spicy Mexican style basmati rice and black beans.  The tacos are a vegetarian version of a fish taco.  I added  dulse flakes to my fried green tomato coating and whipped up a habanero tartar sauce.  Yummy!  The dulse flakes add the fishy taste without the fish.  Dulse is an edible, coarse textured red seaweed with a pungent, briny flavor.  It can be purchased it in dried, flaked form.  You can find the recipe and directions on how to make the fried green tomatoes on my post entitled Fried Green Tomato Gratin.  Instead of using sliced rounds of tomato, I cut the slices into strips.

Strips of green tomato, waiting to be breaded

After frying, place on paper towel to soak up any excess oil.  They smell so good.

Looking good, smelling good

Looking good, smelling good

I made the habanero tartar sauce by combining Veganaise, finely chopped dill pickle, finely chopped fresh habanero pepper and a small amount of pickle juice, about 2 teaspoons.  Stir until blended.

Fry up some corn tortillas, add a bit of grated cheese ( I used habanero jack and cheddar).  Place three pieces of the tomato “fish” in there.   Top with the tartar sauce.   Add some chunks of avocado and some shredded cabbage.  That’s it!  Serve with beans and rice for a complete meal.

So good!

So good!

I’m hungry again after writing this post.  Wow!  You must try this.  Really.

P.S.  You can make a vegan version by dipping the tomatoes in soy milk instead of the beaten egg.

11
Oct
09

Yet another recipe using green tomatoes…..

 

Cream of Green Tomato Fall Harvest Soup

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, including leaves, finely chopped

1/3 cup Wondra or all purpose flour

2 pounds green tomatoes, chopped

1 fresh habanero, minced

1 fresh jalapeno, minced

2 tbsp oregano

2 tbsp basil

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 quart “no chicken” chicken broth (for vegan and vegetarian soups)

2 cloves garlic, crushed through garlic press

½ cup heavy cream (omit this if you are making a vegan soup or substitute soy creamer or soy milk)

4 medium red potatoes

2 carrots, peeled and diced

½ cup peas, fresh or frozen

 

Heat oil and butter in large pot over medium high heat.  Saute onions and celery until soft and the onion just starts turning golden.  Whisk in Wondra or flour and cook about 30 seconds.  Add chopped green tomatoes, peppers and spices.  Cook until tomatoes soften.  Add stock and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes.

While soup in simmering, place whole red potatoes in a separate pan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and then lower to medium.  Cook until potatoes pierce easily with a sharp knife, about 10 – 12 minutes.  About 7 minutes before the potatoes are done, add diced carrots to the potato pot.

Using an emersion blender, puree green tomato soup in pot, leaving it a little chunky.  Add the crushed garlic.  Add heavy cream, if desired.  You can use a blender or food processor if you don’t have an emersion blender.

When potatoes and carrots are done, drain in colander.  Add carrots to the soup pot.  When potatoes are cool enough to handle, dice in bite size pieces and add to the soup pot.  Add fresh or frozen peas.  If using frozen peas, rinse well before adding to the pot.  Heat through and serve.

I like to garnish my soups.  You can keep it simple and just add a bit of grated cheese, any type you prefer.  Or you can make a pico de gallo.  I used fresh garden ripe tomatoes, yellow tear drop tomatoes, red onion, and jalapeno finely chopped the day I made the soup pictured in this post.  I really like the contrast of the crunchy fresh veggies with the creamy, hot, spicy soup.  Serve this soup with some fast, homemade beer batter bread for a perfect fall meal.




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