Variations On Shortbread: Coconut and Tahini

I was telling a friend I was going to make Tahini shortbread cookies to use up the tahini I had leftover from the Tahini Walnut Rolls (recipe here). She asked if it was dairy free, because she’d like to make shortbread, but was avoiding dairy.

The original recipe wasn’t, but I thought I’d give it a try with just tahini. And then because I Iove coconut, I thought I’d do the same thing with coconut oil. So both of these are dairy free.  Continue reading

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Thanksgiving Files: Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed Mushroom AppetizersStuffed Mushrooms ready to go into the oven just before company arrives

Want something different for Thanksgiving?  Stuffed mushrooms might fit the bill. I searched around for recipes, but I had an idea that I wanted to use wild rice, so I just went from there. Who needs a recipe? I used large button mushrooms because they were appetizers, but I think it would work with portobello mushrooms for a main course or nice side.

Pop Quiz: Is wild rice actually rice? Answer: Nope, it’s a grass.

The best way to cook wild rice, is to bring a saucepan filled with water to a boil add salt and (well washed) wild rice, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 60 minutes, or until the rice is cooked. You’ll want it chewy, try not to overcook it, because then it just gets mushy. Drain as you would pasta, don’t rinse.

Wild Rice Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 12 large white mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup or more of cooked wild rice
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to .

Butter a shallow baking dish.

Snap stems off mushrooms and chop. Place the mushroom tops, bottom up, in the baking dish.

Melt butter in a medium size skillet. Add garlic and mushroom stems. Cook over medium heat, stirring, 3 minutes. Add rice and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat and add Parmesan cheese. Spoon wild rice mixture into the mushroom caps. Top each with two or three leaves of rosemary.

Bake in a 400°F oven for 10-15 minutes or until hot.  Serve warm.

You can put the mushrooms together ahead of time (I did it the night before), cover and refrigerate and bake just before company arrives.

 

Garden Fresh: Jalapeno Relish and Easy Salsa

My garden was hit with both hail and an infestation of earwigs. I managed to get a small crop of tomatoes, jalapenos and potatoes despite the destruction. The ducks have been great at keeping the rest of the pests at bay, but earwigs are nocturnal, so they managed to escape the duck patrol.

My dad and youngest brother sent home cucumbers and jalapenos on my last trip, so I decided it was time to put everything to good use before they went bad on my counter.

First up, Easy Salsa, recipe here.

I love pickled jalapenos, so I wanted to pickle some this summer. I have had plenty, but I thought if I was going to do that, it wouldn’t hurt to have extra from my brother. Add my dad’s huge English cucumbers and I got a fresh, spicy combo that is terrific on everything, especially grilled hot dogs. Yum.

Pickled Jalapeno-Cucumber Relish

  • 10 large jalapenos
  • 1 large cucumber (or two medium)
  • 2 tsp fresh dill (opt)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, quartered
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp sugar

jars, blender, saucepan

You can rough chop all the vegetables, since this will be run through either a food processor or blender. If you want to tone down the spice – remove the seeds and ribs from the jalapenos. I did not peel the cucumber because it was garden fresh.

I added just a touch of dill – because I thought the cucumbers would need it. It’s not overwhelming and it could easily be omitted.

In the saucepan combine water, vinegars, sugar and salt. Bring to a low boil

In the blender or food processor, add jalapenos, cucumbers, herbs and garlic and just enough water to cover. Pulse until all the ingredients are finely chopped. Add to boiling mixture, bring back to a boil, reduced heat and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool before adding to sterilized glass jars.

I did not can this recipe – jars will last about two weeks in the refrigerator. I froze several of the jars and they should last a good six months.

As a side note – those are grapes from my vines. I have one red vine and one concord vine. Last year they were barren, the year before they tasted like concord grapes, this year the vines are overflowing and taste sweet and are almost seedless. This fall I’m going to espalier them to create a screen and hopefully keep the dogs out of them. It’s been a challenge this year. Bixby loves to pick them off the vines and grapes are not good for dogs.



 

Multi-Pot Electric Pressure Cooker: 4-Minute Potato Salad

Photo of yummy potato salad by JeffreyW, of course

At the last-minute yesterday, I decided we needed potato salad at our cookout. Luckily, electric pressure cooker to the rescue.  Four minutes cooking time, about 10 minutes prep. I left potatoes and eggs in the fridge to cool while we ran around. Added mayo, mustard, some dill pickle juice just before dinner and served with grilled hamburgers and corn. Yum.

Perfect Picnic Potato Salad

  • 6 large potatoes, peeled, cubed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • mayo and yellow mustard to taste – I used less than a cup of mayo and about 1/4 cup mustard – but I know some people like a lot more. I added a 1/4 cup of dill pickle juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Add the steaming basket to the pressure cooker. Add cubed potatoes (and you don’t need to be too fancy with cutting the pieces – just relatively same size for uniform cooking). Place washed eggs on top of the potatoes. Close the unit, set to steam for 4 minutes. When finished, use the rapid release method to ensure eggs don’t over cook and potatoes stay firm.

Add eggs to a cold water ice bath. Remove potatoes and drain excess water. Add to large serving bowl.  Peel eggs, wash and cube. Add to potatoes. Let cool completely before mixing so as not to turn the potatoes into mush.

Once cooled, add remaining ingredients and fold until well mixed.  Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6 easily



 

Pasta with Spinach Cheese Marinara

Pasta photo by JeffreyW

Pasta w/Spinach Cheese Marinara Sauce:

  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, washed & sliced
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • 2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste*
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp thyme, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ cup grated Romano cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 12 oz bow-tie pasta (farfalle)

2 saucepans

Bring water for pasta to a boil in large saucepan, add pasta and cook according to directions to al dente.

Meanwhile, heat oil in the other saucepan; sauté onions, mushrooms & peppers until onions are golden.  Add remaining ingredients (except pasta) bring to a low boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to med-low, cover and let simmer until pasta is done cooking. As the pasta finishes up, add a ladle or two of pasta water to the sauce.

Drain pasta well and toss together with sauce.  Serve with additional Parmesan & Romano cheeses if desired.

*you can freeze the remainder in an ice-cube tray and store in a freezer bag.



 

Tired of Winter Cooking: Some Fresh Ideas

I’m so very tired of winter cooking. Stews, soups (ok, I’m never really tired of soup), roasted meats and veggies. Time to freshen things up.

But with what? The produce section is often disappointing with flavorless items that haven’t seen the light of day. But there are some bright spots and with those I can wave away the winter cooking blues.

First up: Peppers and onions.

This is the time of year when you can find a variety of sweet peppers in all kinds of colors at a pretty reasonable price. My recipes are usually fairly simple. Heat up olive oil, add thinly sliced onions and peppers, season with a dash of salt and pepper. Sauté until they soften and onion are golden. Remove from heat and now you can cook up any number of things: chicken marinated in lemon juice and pepper, thin beef strips marinated in teriyaki and ponzu sauce, pork medallions marinated in apple juice and a bit of apple cider vinegar. The ideas are endless. Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, butter noodles, quinoa…

Or how about Fajitas? That recipe is here.

Next up: Fresh salads.

I found a nice jicama one day and realized I hadn’t made a batch of Jicama Slaw since last summer.  A big bowl of that in the refrigerator to munch on all week really lifted the flavor blahs. You can find the recipe here.

Two other summer favorites that are easy to make mid-winter: Potato Salads (recipes here) and Coleslaw (recipe here).

How about fruits?

Now is the time for Strawberries (recipes here and here)

Blood Oranges (recipes here)

 

And Grapes – one of my favorite grape recipes is Grapes and Sausagesrecipe here.

That should be enough help you get through a few more weeks of winter while dreaming of the fresh vegetables soon to come from gardens and farm stands.

There will be a puppeh update today or tomorrow. Until then…

Creamy Roasted Poblano Soup

Creamy Roasted Poblano Soup

  • 4-5 poblano peppers – roasted, peeled and seeded
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, rough chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water (I used water)
  • 1 cup milk or cream
  • salt and pepper
  • limejuice
  • cilantro
  • shredded sharp cheddar or Crema Mexicana

This is so easy. I had frozen, roasted poblano chiles, so all I had to do was thaw, skin and seed them. But if you have fresh chiles, heat them under the broiler for 5 minutes (watch carefully and turn as needed) until the skins are blackened on all sides. Cool and then slip off the skins. Slice open and use the knife to remove seeds and ribs (usually just be scraping with the knife). Rough chop.

In a saucepan, heat butter and add chopped onions. Saute until they are translucent, add chopped garlic and heat through before adding the chiles. Stir for a moment until everything is coated in butter. Remove from heat and add to blender, along with water or stock. Blend until smooth and creamy.

Add back to saucepan, along with milk, and bring to a very low boil, stirring constantly, reduce heat to low. Add salt and pepper to taste and let simmer for 8-10 minutes. Just before serving add the juice of 1/2 lime (more to taste). Garnish each bowl with cilantro and cheese.

Serves 4

 

 

Fall Menus: Sept Week 2

This is a little late, but I suppose better late than never. I’ve been crazy with work and glued to hurricane coverage, as I have Florida family (and friends).

Since we are moving into cooler weather, I’m bringing the meals in from the grill and into the kitchen. Although we do have a Grilled Steak on Monday – it’s in a soy/wine marinade that I love because you can use an inexpensive cut of beef and still get a great steak out of it.

One of my favorite meals, Red Beans and Rice, heads up Wednesday’s menu. And Friday is a slow-cooker BBQ Beef on Kaiser Rolls. 

All the PDF menus can be found here: September Week 2 Menus

The color-coded weekly shopping list is here: September Week 2 Shopping List The color coding allows you to eliminate any ingredients you won’t need if you skip a recipe.

Tonight’s bonus recipe is Creole Vegetables and Black Beans, which can be found here.

If you any questions, hit the comments and I’ll try and get you an answer. Have a great week!