Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tempeh Taco Salad

Tempeh is made from soybeans but the similarity to tofu stops there. Tofu is made from soy milk, has a curd-like texture, and is very mild in flavor. Tempeh is made from whole soybeans which have been pressed into a cake and lightly fermented. It has an assertive nutty flavor and a meaty texture. You can buy both tempeh and tofu right in the produce department of your regular grocery store.

I have cooked with both products for more years than I care to admit. We don't eat a lot of meat in this family and look for other ways to enjoy protein.  Do let me know when you are coming for dinner, however, and if you are opposed to eating tempeh and/or tofu, I'll not put them on the menu. ( Or if you want to try them, I will put them on the menu for you). 

At serving time, set out all the fixings for tacos and let everyone assemble their own. I like to combine fritos, cubed cheese, lettuce and catalina dressing (homemade, of course) then add the rest of the ingredients. Pritchard Parker thinks catalina dressing is creepy and uses salsa. Some people use both.

Come to think of it, I could probably combine fritos with cheese and catalina dressing and call that a salad. It is not one of my loftier ideas but I have seen people do worse with ranch dressing.

Tempeh for Taco Salad
1 8-ounce package tempeh
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel)
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. minced chipotle chili with adobo sauce
1 small onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Crumble tempeh into a large mixing bowl.  Add and combine well, the tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, lime juice, oregano, chipotle chili, onion and bell pepper.

Heat olive oil, in a heavy skillet over medium heat and when hot, add the contents of the mixing bowl. Fry and stir the tempeh mixture, until the tempeh is becoming crispy on the edges and the vegetables are tender.  Taste and adjust seasonings, including adding salt and pepper if needed.

For serving:
Chopped tomato
Chopped peppers
Radish slices
Jalapeno slices
Tortilla chips
Lime wedges
Salad dressing
Sour cream

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Red Flannel Hash

I have read several books in a series about a private investigator who lives in Boston. When he is at home, he prepares gourmet meals. Or you can find him in fine restaurants with his girlfriend. But when he is on assignment, he eats at diners a lot and he often orders Red Flannel Hash.
I always wondered what the heck Red Flannel Hash was and I loved the name. I finally got around to looking it up to learn it is corned beef hash with the addition of beets.
I had never made it until now for several reasons, one being that we don't eat a lot of meat. Another is that corned beef is expensive! The stores have them on sale for St. Patrick's day, so we get one then. It is Pritchard Parker's favorite meal of the year.
This year, I used the leftovers and made Red Flannel Hash. We were sold! We were in love. I love the way the beets turned the potatoes into such a pretty pink color. I'll have to figure a way to make this lovely and delicious dish more often.
The recipe I'm giving is loosely based on what I had on hand, but the proportions shouldn't matter at all.
Red Flannel Hash
1/2 stick butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups chopped leftover corned beef
2 cups cooked potatoes, diced
2 cups cooked beets, diced
Freshly ground black pepper
Melt butter in a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Add in the chopped onion, cooking and stirring until they are tender. Toss in the corned beef, potatoes, and beets. Mix everything together and continue cooking until everything is hot and beginning to brown. Top the freshly ground black pepper. There should be enough salt from the corned beef, but taste and add some if you like.
Serve with eggs and some of your leftover Irish Soda Bread.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Key Lime Pie

Lest you worry that I have turned my blog into a Smoothie Blog, I am here today to set your mind at rest. I am still enjoying daily smoothies and will be posting more of my medley, but I have also been cooking and baking.

I baked this pie for my husband. Although I wish he would, he doesn't make a lot meal suggestions. When he does, I always make his requests for him. He must have really been in the mood for Key Lime Pie--he found a recipe for me to try and he shopped for the ingredients.

Alice and her Nina linda were visiting for the day, so they both helped with the pie baking, namely by making the delicious graham cracker crust which added so much to this pie. Then later, at serving time, Nina linda helped make the whipped cream; she is quite fascinated by that process.

This pie was definitely a group effort, so it is really a stretch to say "I" made it. The four of us enjoyed eating it together too. The best part.

Key Lime Pie
3 large egg yolks
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1/2 cup key lime juice (approximately 20 key limes)
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
9 " graham cracker crust

Pour condensed milk into blender.  Add cream cheese gradually, in small portions and mix until smooth.  Add egg yolks and blend well.  Pour in key lime juice and continue blending until mixture is creamy. Pour into the prepared crust and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. After baking, let stand for 10 minutes before refrigerating to chill.

Serve with freshly whipped cream and lime zest.

Graham Cracker Crust
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 1 sleeve crackers, crushed)
1/3 c sugar
6 Tbsp. melted butter

Mix all ingredients together and press into bottom and up sides of 9" pie dish.

You can tell this is my serving of pie by the generous mound of freshly whipped cream. Love that stuff!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pink Smoothie

One of the ingredients I add to a lot of my smoothies is freshly grated ginger. I include it for its health giving qualities, great taste, and because it is very warming. 

Pink Smoothie
1 ripe mango
1/2 cup strawberries
Juice from 1 red grapefruit
1-2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
2 Tbsp. honey
1/4 cup pomegranate juice
1 serving protein powder, optional

Place all ingredients in blender and buzz until smooth and creamy. Use a little milk (cow, soy, rice, almond, coconut) to thin out a little if needed.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Avocado Smoothie

So far, this has been my favorite smoothie. It was so creamy and delicious and I never imagined it would taste so good, based on the ingredients.

Avocado Smoothie
1 ripe avocado
1 banana
Fresh orange juice, squeezed from 3 oranges
1 cup almond milk, or other milk, or yogurt
2 Tbsp. honey, optional
1 serving protein powder, optional

Blend together until smooth and creamy.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Blueberry Strawberry Smoothie

I loved the pretty orchid color of this smoothie. Nothing really innovative here, but the taste is terrific.

Blueberry Strawberry Smoothie
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup strawberries
1 banana
1/4 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup yogurt
1 serving protein powder, optional

Blend all in electric blender until smooth and creamy.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sweet Potato Smoothie

I have been drinking a smoothie everyday. The more of them I make, the more ideas I get about what will work and taste great while providing much needed healing power for my body.

One thing I add to almost every smoothie is protein powder, which has become very popular and is sold in almost every store. The popularity and variety of protein powders is due largely to body builders. My nutritional needs are obviously different than those of a 27 year old male body builder so I did my homework.

You may not want or need a protein powder supplement. I know, from blood tests, that my protein is low and that is why I am using it. But there are other reasons to add protein to your diet. Protein provides energy, promotes muscle function, optimizes healthy skin, boosts the immune system providing defense against infections, and helps regulate metabolism. 

There are also other things to add to smoothies which provide protein--peanut butter and other nut butters, cottage cheese, yogurt, milk, tofu to name a few.

I also want to mention the differing quality and pricing of protein powders. Some contain fillers and ingredients I don't want to consume. Some are very expensive. Some taste bad. It has been my experience that you don't have to commit to one of those big jars without trying it first. Every powder I have wanted to use, provided a free or low cost sample to try out first. 

Oh yeah, and I don't have any fancy smoothie-making equipment with a catchy name. I use my 30 year old blender and it works just fine.

Sweet Potato Smoothie
1 small baked sweet potato
1 peach (frozen is fine)
1 tsp. (to taste) freshly grated ginger
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup carrot juice
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 serving protein powder, optional

Buzz in blender, adding more carrot juice, milk (cow, soy, almond, coconut) to desired consistency. Tastes like sweet potato pie. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Blueberries, Granola and Yogurt (and news)

I was very happy when I walked into the Natural Foods Market and saw these, the first blueberries of the year. They were not locally grown--we won't have local berries until summer, but they were organic and I think the juiciest and most delicious blueberries I have ever tasted. 

We had just come from the Oncologist's office where we learned that my lymphoma is in remission! No wonder those berries tasted so sweet. 

Now I am on a quest to restore my health to pre-treatment status. One of the things I have been doing, to that end, is using protein powders and making smoothies.  I'll be sharing some of my concoctions next week.

And on a sad note, our little dog died yesterday. I will surely miss her--already do. She has been my constant buddy throughout my convalescence and the only companionship I had on the many days I could not leave home and while my husband was working. It is very still here without her.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Farro with Roasted Carrots and Feta

According to the package of Farro Pritchard Parker recently brought home, it is "one of the oldest grains cultivated by humans, which was originally found in the fertile crescent of the Middle East and is now grown primarily in Italy".

I don't know if that is true or if that is just marketing. I tried to do some research on this grain and all I came away with is the fact that it is a type of wheat. It may or may not be emmer and it may or may not be spelt.

This is my first experience cooking farro. It looks and tastes to me like wheat berries, which I quite like, and can be bought much cheaper from the bulk bins at the Natural Foods Store.  But wheat berries are an old hippie standard and have not been elevated in status by trendy chefs.

We did enjoy this dish very much. The addition of  roasted carrots, golden raisins, toasted cashews, fresh lemon juice, feta cheese along with a generous amount of freshly chopped parsley and the scent of cinnamon made for a delicious light supper. I served it at room temperature which really brought out all the flavors.

Farro with Roasted Carrots and Feta
1 cup faro
3 cups water
1 small cinnamon stick
Salt to taste
6 - 8 medium carrots, scrubbed and peeled
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup cashews, toasted and chopped
8 oz. feta cheese, cubed

Combine faro, water, cinnamon stick, and salt to taste in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until most of the water is absorbed and farro is tender, 30 - 40 minutes. Drain farro, discard cinnamon stick, and transfer to a large bowl.

While the farro is cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle the carrots with 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil and toss with salt to taste. Roast on a baking sheet until fork tender, about 20 - 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the another Tbsp. olive oil, and saute the onions over medium heat until tender and translucent.

When the carrots and onions are done add them to the bowl with the farro.  Stir in the lemon juice, golden raisins, parsley, and cashews. Toss in the feta cheese and mix gently. Add the remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil.  Taste, adding more salt and additional olive oil if desired.