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Singing the Baklava Blues! May 25, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mom4health @ 3:36 am

There are some things that you just have to learn the hard way. And I have had two hard lessons. And the difficulties I have had with some of my latest recipes have to do with living at an altitude of 8600 plus. Most of what I prepare turn out fine.  Unless you have lived here a long time, and already know these things, you are bound to run into trouble once in awhile.

First of all, I had a great success as far as Jonathan was concerned. The recipe he loved was the Terra-Cotta Stock. The stocks call for a lot of vegetables and different ingredients but once it is cooked you strain all the solids and only have the broth remaining. This broth called for red onion, red pepper, a poblano chili (looks like a large flat green pepper), garlic, chili peppers, cumin, paprika, oregano, tomatoes and fresh cilantro. When Jonathan had his first taste, he let out a holler and said he loved it! It was so funny! My dramatic youngest was waving his arms and carrying on with every bite. He said it was a 10+! Caleb wasn’t as impressed but thought it was fine and gave it an 8. I added slices of avocado, cheddar cheese and tortilla chips which made the soup fabulous. Jonathan squawked about the avocado but decided he liked it in the soup after all! You have to be happy as a mom when your child likes your recipes this much!!

Tasty Terra-Cotta Stock

Jonathan giving the meal a 'thumbs up'!

Then the disaster. I was really looking forward to the next recipe, Mixed Nut and Flax Seed Baklava. This recipe called for filo bread which I had never heard of. I found it in the freezer section at Whole Foods and it is dough that is rolled paper thin. There are multiple layers in a pound and you actually butter each layer, one by one, to HOPEFULLY have a wonderful flaky wonder! The recipe also called for a lot of cashews, walnuts, pistachios and flax seeds. $$$$ It also called for a very  unusual ingredient, rosewater. You can wear it as a perfume or eat it! Natural food, the wonder of it all! The baklava turned out fine, looked great. The problem was the topping which was just lemon sugar water that was supposed to be boiled until a certain candy stage. That doesn’t happen in my altitude without some adjustments (which I was unaware of). I boiled it and boiled it and it turned brown and STILL was not at the right stage. I went ahead and poured it on the pastry hoping that by a miracle it would turn out fine. It was hard and terrible! It didn’t really taste all that bad, but it had too much of a burnt sugar flavor. Unfortunately, I had to toss it and I forgot to take a picture in my discouragement. I’m over it now!

Then Lesson #2! My next recipe was Smoky Maple Baked Beans. How difficult can baked beans be anyway? This recipe called for a pound of dried great northern beans along with the Honey Jalapeno Barbeque Sauce mentioned on a previous blog. It also called for onion, ginger, chipotle peppers, bacon bits, maple syrup, molasses, apple juice, and tomato puree. I soaked the beans and after the proper soaking time, I drained them and added all these wonderful ingredients in anticipation of some great beans! I expected them to be done around 7 p.m. At 7 they were still pretty crunchy. So, I continued to cook them. At 9 p.m. they were still pretty crunchy! At 11:00 p.m. they were still pretty crunchy!!! (I, of course, had to fix something else for supper!) So, in my despair I decided to cook them ALL night. At 8:00 a.m. they were still pretty crunchy!!! No way! So, I went to the internet and discovered a website that explained that if you live higher than 7300 ft. or so, forget dried beans!!!!! So, I drained the beans and kept the liquid, bought some canned northern beans and we finally had them the following night. I added slices of organic chicken hot dogs and Caleb really liked them! Jonathan is not real fond of beans but ate a few. Caleb gave it a 10, Jonathan a 6. I thought they were great and gave them a 10 as well.

Caleb FINALLY gets to try these tasty beans!

I had a little break from the recipes as it has been very busy and I haven’t had as much time to cook. So, today I was finally able to fix 2 new  recipes for lunch. The first one I prepared was another stock, Aromatic Broth. It is a broth that is great for you when you are sick with a cold or such. It called for onion, sweet potato, tomato, garlic, ginger, red chili flakes, lemongrass (new to me, cut my finger trying to mince it, it’s hard!), and parsley. This soup wasn’t real great for lunch. The boys described it as spicy water! It was a good thing it wasn’t a hit as I messed up! You drain the solids out of the broth, as I mentioned before. So, I drained most of the broth right down the sink before I realized I was keeping the broth and not the vegetables! Thankfully, we had a good portion to try. None of us wanted more than a few tastes. It would be a great detox broth though as it contains alot of parsley which is a strong detoxing veggie.

Got the sniffles? Here's the broth for you!

Then I made Mediterranean Vegetable Wraps. Wow! Another great wrap! This is a crispy and crunchy Greek salad surrounded with creamy hummus. I oohed and awed all the way through my wrap. I will definitely make this again. With this wrap you begin with a flour tortilla and spread your favorite hummus (I made the Black Bean Hummus, love it!), fresh spinach leaves spread on the hummus, and then topped with sliced cucumber, tomato and red onion. This recipe also called for artichoke quarters, my first time to have these. They are very tasty and add a lot to a wrap! The last two ingredients I added were Kalamata olives and crumbled feta goat cheese.

Caleb was not anticipating this lunch once he saw all the veggies I placed in the wrap. But his first bite was surprising and he gave the wrap a 9! Jonathan just couldn’t get into it, though. He still ate most of it, but we had a near gagging incident part way through, again. But I am proud of him for eating most of it and being such a good sport! I gave the wrap a 10+!

One of my faves!

Well, that is all the recipes I have made so far. I have two recipes I am going to include with this post by request!

Couscous Cakes with Mint and Red Pepper

1 1/2 C dried couscous

1/8 C plus 1 TBLS olive oil

2 C water

1/2 cup minced red pepper

1/2 cup minced green pepper

1 medium onion, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. lemon pepper

1 tsp. dried Italian herbs

1/4 C minced fresh mint leaves

1/4 C unbleached all-purpose flour

2 large eggs

1 C crumbled feta cheese

1/2 C frozen peas, thawed

1 tsp. salt

1 C yellow cornmeal

Vegetable or olive oil for spraying pan

Place the couscous, 1 TBLS of the olive oil, and water in a large sauce pot, bring to a boil, stir well, and remove the pot from the heat. Cover the couscous tightly and allow it to reconstitute for at least 15 to 20 minutes.

Heat the rest of the olive oil in a large saute pan, add the peppers, onion, garlic, lemon pepper, and Italian herbs, and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, until tender and lightly browned. Place the mixture in a large bowl. Add the plumped couscous, mint, flour, and eggs; mix well. The mixture should stick together when pressed with the back of a spoon. Stir in the feta cheese and peas. Season with the salt.

Refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes before forming into cakes. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Using an 8-ounce scoop as a measure, form the mixture into 10 (1/2 inch thick) slightly flattened cakes. When ready to cook, lightly dust the cakes with the cornmeal. Spray the oil in a large nonstick saute pan. Lightly brown the cakes, about 2 minutes per side, and then transfer them to a large baking pan. Bake in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes.

Fettuccine with Garlic, Parsley, and Parmesan

1 pound fettuccine

1/4 C olive oil

12 cloves garlic

3/4 C grated Parmesan cheese

1 C minced fresh parsley

1 tsp. lemon pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine, and cook until the pasta is al dente, 6 to 8 minutes. When the pasta is cooked, rinse it in cold water, drain well, and reserve.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large nonstick saute pan. Add the garlic cloves and saute them very gently, turning often for 4 minutes, until light golden brown and softened. Remove the garlic cloves from the pan, and reserve. Add the drained pasta to the pan, and saute over medium heat for 2 minutes, until warmed through. Add the browned garlic cloves, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and lemon pepper, and toss the pasta well to combine.

Cooking healthy is so much fun!

Until the next recipe…

Calla says, "So long from Colorado!"


 

The Boys Like this Round! May 15, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mom4health @ 6:17 am

I have been busy as usual, cooking many, many different recipes. I had a total disaster, but I will talk about that the next post! But the recipes I am going to mention tonight were all a hit (well, mostly)!

The first is Imperial Orange Tofu. I have to admit I was a little disappointed with this recipe. I expected something a little different, but I have to say it was very flavorful. This meal consisted of two recipes: the Orange Tofu and the Orange Sauce. Jonathan tends to like the Asian meals and gave this a 9! Caleb wasn’t as thrilled and only gave it a 5 :(. It’s kind of interesting. Jonathan is seeming to develop a taste for all these different dishes and sometimes Caleb seems to be the most picky one. I actually bribed him to finish it by promising to make the next recipe which I knew they would love, Chocolate Peanut Butter Twist.  And yum! This was a frozen yogurt smoothie that called for chocolate chips and peanut butter! Of course, it’s sugar, so we all gave it a 10+!

Imperial Orange Tofu

Finishing it off in anticipation of dessert!

Jonathan enthusiastic about the Orange Tofu!

The dark chocolate flecks make this super yummy!

And then the next meal was one of my favorites!! Spicy Asian Flank Steak with a side of Emerald Sesame Kale. I actually used flap meat instead of flank steak as Whole Foods didn’t have enough of the flank. The guy working the meat counter at Whole Foods encouraged me to buy the flap meat. He said it is a very under-rated piece of meat, actually sirloin. And he was right!! I marinated the meat for 24 hours in a wonderful marinade consisting of Roasted Sesame-Honey Dressing, orange zest, 5-spice powder, green onions, molasses and star anise buds ( I know what they are now!). And as if those aren’t enough ingredients the Roasted-Honey Dressing called for garlic, tamari, ginger, pineapple juice, teriyaki sauce, sesame seeds and oil, Szechwan sauce and honey! The Szechwan sauce was new to me. I have no idea how to pronounce it. That is a lot of marinade. I broiled the meat for several minutes on each side and then placed the meat on a hoagie bun that is smeared in Creamy Peanut Sauce (another recipe). THEN on top of the meat I drizzled Szechwan Slaw dressing. Wow! What a sandwich! We all really liked it. Caleb gave it a 10 and Jonathan a 9! Garry and I gave it a 10.

This makes my mouth water! Amazing flavor!

Kale is a new vegetable for us. We liked it ok and decided that it just taste green. I don’t think I would ever crave it, but it made a nice side dish for the sandwiches. It makes a mom feel good to see her family eating something so GREEN! Of course, anything this green won’t get a high rating. Both boys gave it a 6. But you got to admit, that’s not bad for boys that not that long ago only wanted pizza, burgers or spaghetti!

Doesn't this look healthy and tasty!

I have made a couple more recipes I will blog about later. A REAL disaster and a REAL hit (at least with Jonathan)!

So, until the next recipe…

Hudson says "So long from Colorado!"

 

A Big Hit with the Boys! May 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mom4health @ 3:18 am

I haven’t been able to post for awhile as our family took a trip to Missouri to visit family. It was great! Now I am back home and ready to hit the recipes again!

Before we went on our trip, I was able to prepare Couscous Cakes with Mint and Red Pepper along with Fettuccine with Garlic, Parsley and Parmesan. There was a lot of preparation for this meal! The fettuccine was wonderful! This recipe called for 12 garlic cloves and 3/4 cup of parmesan! Caleb loved it and gave it a 10! Jonathan gave it a 9 if he ate it one strand of fettuccine at a time?? Otherwise it got a lower rating. Who knows?? Garry and I both gave it a 10!

Again, the boys did not anticipate liking the couscous cakes. Couscous is actually a staple of North Africa.  I used the Israeli couscous again as I like the bigger pieces. This recipe called for many ingredients and took some time to prepare! Red pepper, green pepper, onion, lemon pepper,  Italian herbs, mint leaves, feta cheese (I used goat cheese), frozen peas, etc. After all of this was formed into patties it was coated with cornmeal, then browned on each side and then baked in the oven for a short time. The boys were surprised at how tasty these cakes were! The cornmeal made a nice crunchy coating. It made too many for us to eat so I took the remaining cakes to Abby. I haven’t heard how she liked them yet.

Couscous Cakes and Fettuccine

I went to Whole Foods and shopped for about an hour and a half  last night to buy ingredients for my next round. There are some exciting recipes coming up and I am really looking forward to preparing them and eating them!! This will be Round # 7. Here are the recipes:

Imperial Orange Tofu

Smoky Maple Baked Beans

Emerald Sesame Kale (never ate this before) that I will prepare Spicy Asian Flank Steak (already got it marinating, looks fabulous!)

Jamaican Jerk Sauce

Chocolate Peanut Butter Twist (yum!)

Tomato Clouds (in the kid’s section of the cookbook, we’ll see how my kids like it)

Mixed Nut and Flax Seed Baklava (really looking forward to this!)

Tonight will be the Orange Tofu. I am pretty sure the boys will be pleased. But you never know!

Until the next recipe…

Hudson and Garry say, "So long from Colorado!" Hudson also says, "Grandma's cookin' is finger lickin' good!"

 

A Few Recipes plus “Never Fix That For Me Again!” May 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mom4health @ 8:52 pm

Well, I have prepared a few more recipes. Both of them disgusting to Caleb! The first one was Lemon Capellini Salad. Capellini is a very thin spaghetti-like pasta. And if you love lemon, you would like this recipe. Very lemony. Along with the pasta the recipe called for grated zest of one lemon, 1/4 cup plus 2 TBLS lemon juice and 1/3 cup lemon oil! That is a lot of lemon. Along with all this lemon I added fresh basil, garlic and a pound of plum tomatoes. It is a very pretty recipe and I would describe it as refreshing. Jonathan liked it and gave it an 8. I would give it a 7 and Caleb gave it a 4. Garry liked it quite a bit and gave it a 9.

Pasta with a pucker!

The other ‘Caleb disaster’ was the Thai Vegetable Wrap with Thai Dipping Sauce. I knew I would love these recipes as I am a big fan of Thai food. And what was fun for me were all the new ingredients these recipes called for. Let me see: hoison sauce (the boys and Garry were suspicious because it sounds so much like poison!), fish sauce and red chili paste with garlic. It has become fun for me to go to Whole Foods and look for these products. Kind of like a food treasure hunt! The wrap was delicious! The Thai Dipping Sauce coats fresh vegetables like red peppers, red onions, grated carrots, snow peas and bean sprouts. The hoison sauce is very tasty and is coated on the tortilla before the marinated tofu, vegetables and lettuce are added. Roll it up and dip it in some more hoison sauce and this is a great meal! BUT I wish I would have taken a picture of Caleb’s first bite. He was very disgusted and Jonathan had the same first reaction. I did get Caleb to eat half a wrap, big accomplishment. And Jonathan after taking a few smaller bites all the sudden decided it was good after all! A little later after the meal, Caleb came upstairs and told me to never fix that for him again because he was having a mild allergy reaction and his gums were tingling and his lips were swelling mildly. I have no idea what caused the reaction, but I don’t think I have to worry about Caleb eating it again anyway. But the rest of us loved it and Jonathan gave it an 8 and Garry and I gave it a 10!

Thai Vegetable Wrap (ready to have this again!)

By request from my daughter who loves to try new recipes as well, I am adding the recipe for the Tomatillo Sauce and for the Onion Chutney. Both of these recipes are wonderful and easy and worth giving a try! Jonathan has mentioned several times how much he wants to have the Tomatillo Sauce again.

ONION CHUTNEY

2 tsp. olive oil

1 medium red onion, minced

1/2 green pepper, minced

1/4 cup plus 2 TBLS ketchup

1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 tsp. paprika

pinch of cayenne pepper

In a medium skillet heat the olive oil and saute the onion and green pepper until the onion is translucent. Add the ketchup, hot pepper sauce, vinegar, paprika and cayenne pepper. Cook for 30 seconds more. Combine all the ingredients as well. Chill.

(The chutney is home on any dish and can be used as a sandwich topping as well)

TOMATILLO SAUCE

1 TBLS canola oil

1 medium yellow onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/8 cup seeded and minced jalapeno pepper

1 1/2 cup canned tomatillos or 1 cup finely minced husked and washed fresh tomatillos (about 6 medium)

1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro

1/2 tsp. salt

Heat the canola oil in medium pan and saute the onion, garlic, jalapenos for 2 to 3 minutes until onion is translucent. Add the tomatillos to the onion mixture and continue to saute for 2 to 3 minutes longer. Cool completely. Puree the mixture in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Place the salsa in a small bowl. Add the cilantro, season with the salt and mix well. NOTE If you can’t find fresh or canned tomatillos, use unripe tomatoes and add a little lime juice to obtain the acidity characteristic of tomatillos.

(The tomatillos sauce is for poultry, beef, pork, or seafood. Great brushed on an ear of griled corn. Use as a dip for chips and veggies or with any of your favorite mexican dish)

Well, tonight will be Couscous Cakes with Mint & Red Pepper along with the Fettucini with Garlic Parsley and Parmesan. Sounds yummy, but we will see!

Until the next recipe…

So long from Colorado!

 

A Whole Lotta Cookin’ May 1, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mom4health @ 2:57 am

I have been busy cooking away! I have several recipes to mention this time.

The first recipe is Orange Glazed Sweet Potato Oven Fries. This is another recipe that came out of the children’s section of the Whole Food’s Cookbook. It is similar to what I have made often, except the difference being that you spread each sweet potato slice with orange marmalade. It’s a great combination and the boys did like them. They recently discovered how much they like baked sweet potatoes when I sprinkle brown sugar and pecans on them. Caleb gave the fries a 9 and Jonathan gave them a 6. Garry and I both gave them a 10.

Orange Glazed Sweet Potato Oven Fries

The next recipe I really liked was Tomatillo Sauce. Except, I wouldn’t call it a sauce. It was thick and more like a salsa. This was such a great side to have with the chicken quesadillas. I had no idea what tomatillos were and found out they are a green tomato-type vegetable that has a green husk around it. You can see it on the plate in the picture below. Along with the tomatillos it called for fresh jalapeno, onion, garlic, and alot of fresh cilantro. This sauce was so fresh and tasty. Even though it contained jalapeno, it wasn’t all that hot. I plan on making this when I prepare anything Mexican. We all gave it a 10+, except for Caleb, he took one bite and did not like it. You never know!

Tomatillo Sauce

That actually was the end of Round # 5! And I already have started on Round #6! This round I will prepare:

Terra Cotta Stock

Lemon Capellini Salad

Thai Vegetable Wrap with Thai Dipping Sauce

Chickpeas Florentine with Roasted Peppers

Fettuccine with Garlic Parsley & Parmesan and with this Broiled Tuna Stuffed with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Couscous Cakes with Mint and Red Pepper

So, far I have only made the Chickpeas Florentine with the Broiled Tuna. I rarely buy fresh fish and have been told to make sure that I buy it from Whole Foods to guarantee good fish. So, I bought 2 pounds of Yellowfin Tuna from my favorite Whole Foods market. I hesitated to buy it as it is pretty pricey, especially 2 pounds! But, I really want to do the complete cookbook so I gulped really big and said go ahead and wrap it up for me. Because it was so expensive and also quite a bit of fish, I decided to have the Chou’s over for this meal. I enjoyed preparing both of the recipes. And Abby was there to help, which I love!

The Chickpeas Florentine is a Mediterranean dish that calls for red onion (notice how many chickpeas and onions I use?), garlic, roasted piquillo peppers, spinach, red chili flakes, etc. The chili flakes made it a little hot, which I like. The Broiled Tuna dish is also Mediterranean. The tuna was first marinated in white wine, olive oil, garlic, dijon mustard and pepper. Then the tuna was slit and stuffed with a spinach, sundried tomato mixture which also contained capers and pine nuts. I had never used capers before, another new food for me!

Broiled Tuna and Chickpea Florentine

I appreciate Abby and Eric coming and sharing these meals with me and being willing to risk eating who knows what. I am having a blast not really knowing how the recipe will actually turn out until it is done! This meal was very attractive and pretty good, though I think I would prefer this kind of tuna in sushi!!! I only gave it a 6. The Chickpea dish got a 9 from Caleb and 7 from Jonathan. The tuna got a 9 from Caleb and 8 from Jonathan. I think that was impressive from both boys as this was really a far cry from what they have always been used to eating! Abby and Eric both said they liked it. I am personally hoping the next dish they share is better!

Eric being brave for his mother-in-law!

Abby also being brave for me!

Hudson loves to eat and is easy to please!!

Today I think I will try Lemon Capellini Salad. I enjoy lemony recipes, so we will see!

Until the next recipe…

Grandpa Garry, Calla and Hudson say, "So long, from Colorado!"