Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner…and then some

In the kitchen at Di's House

Happy Easter

It’s a gloomy, rainy day, perfect for cinnamon rolls.  Here they are before frosting…

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I didn’t try too hard to make everything even, some rolls are big, some are small.  The small ones are good for “sneaking a bite.”  I made a cream cheese frosting, to go on top.

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I put a lot of cinnamon in the rolls, so there isn’t much cream cheese flavor, but it does kind of help the frosting not be overly sweet.

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With a cup of Peet’s coffee, it was a perfect Easter breakfast.

For dinner, I made a bean soup from a many-bean soup mix.  I followed the recipe on the back of the bag, adding onion, garlic, carrot, bay leaf, seasonings, diced tomatoes, to the pre-soaked beans.  Towards the end I added chopped cabbage.  I was going to make cornbread but when I was looking for the recipe, I flipped past a popover recipe and went with that instead.  I always forget how easy they are to make.

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The dry ingredients are flour and salt, the wet ingredients are milk, butter and egg.  I sprinkled in some parmesan cheese too.

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Tempeh Pate and Tagalong Cookie Parfaits

I finished off the last of the tempeh, making it into tempeh pate (from the Native Foods Restaurant Cookbook).  It’s basically chopped prepared tempeh, mayonnaise, green onions, salt and dill (but I didn’t add that since I don’t much care for it).  I put it into pita bread, along with grated carrots, avocado, tomato and lettuce.  I like grated carrots in sandwiches, just never think to do it.  I remembered because they were in the recipe for the Palm Springs Wrap (in the Native Foods book), plus I remembered the Scorpion Burger at the restaurant also has carrots.

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For dessert last night, I made parfaits with chopped Girl Scout Tagalong cookies.  I had wanted to make them ever since I saw this recipe.  I ended up combining that recipe, with the pie filling from the recipe for Celebration Cheese Pie.  It made kind of a mess, or rather, I made a mess, trying to layer it into small glasses.  Everyone liked it, though, that’s what counts.

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For Easter tomorrow, I’m making cinnamon rolls.  Here’s the dough I made in the bread machine.  I have it rising again in the refrigerator, and will roll it out and bake it tomorrow.

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The Last Supper – Sweet & Sour Tempeh

Tonight was my “last supper” before my first colonoscopy.  I made the sweet & sour tempeh that I’d wanted to make last night.  I did a hodge-podge of recipes, including the Basic Tempeh Prep from Tofurky’s website.  It involves marinating sliced tempeh in water, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil.  The recipe calls for 2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of soy sauce.  I scaled it down to 1/2 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.

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The strips are then either sauteed or broiled.  I opted for broiling.

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I winged the recipe for the sweet & sour sauce, mixing together about 2 tablespoons each ketchup and cider vinegar, a tablespoon each of sugar and cornstarch, in the leftover marinade, along with some pineapple juice (I had leftovers from the mini pineapple upside down cupcakes a little while back).

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I was feeling lazy as far as veggies or salad go, and sliced up some apples for the fruit/veg component.  I’m still not crazy about tempeh, but at the same time, want to play with recipes.  It doesn’t taste bad, it’s almost like it’s too bland.  I have some leftover strips that I’m going to try making tempeh pate from the Native Foods Cookbook.

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Meatless Monday – Plain Old Veggies and Udon Noodles

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I had planned on making something with tempeh today, but got lazy and just made a plain old veggie stir fry with udon noodles and peanut sauce.  I did like Rachael Ray and “eyeballed” everything for the sauce:  peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, hoisin and water to thin it out.

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Earlier in the day, I made homemade energy bites, from a recipe a friend gave me.  I had a hard time keeping the mixture stuck into a ball.  I ended up using a piece of plastic wrap, putting a bit of dough in the center, and twisting the top, squeezing the ball together.  I like that they are stored in the freezer, you just pull some out when you need them.  Next time, though, I think I’ll try toasting the oats and wheat germ, letting it cool first, so it doesn’t have such a “raw grain” taste.

I got to try out my homemade cookie stamp today.  I had looked online to buy one, and they sell for like $10, not including shipping.  I thought I’d get crafty and make my own, by using oven bake clay from Hobby Lobby, imprinting a pattern with a rubber stamp, baking the clay, then using it for the cookie stamp.  It worked pretty well except the clay did not stay flat when I baked it.  It’s a little uneven on one side.  I covered it in “release” foil to keep the dough from sticking.  It worked like a charm.  The design is a paw print since these are dog treats.  I still have enough clay left to make 3 more stamps, maybe even one or two for human cookies.  (And the clay was only $1.27, and happened to be 30% off that week.)

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Food Club

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I had fun this afternoon being a sorter at my local food co-op.  A friend started it a few months ago and it has exploded into a huge venture.  The group does mass orders from various sources, and everyone picks up their goodies once a month.  This is what I got.  Lots of rolled oats, wheat germ, coconut, two kinds of tempeh, doggie cookie cutters, muffin liners and a reusable parchment paper (that I’d never seen before, it’s not rubbery like the silicon mats), organic broccoli, 10 pounds of Fuji apples ((they are so good), and natural inspect repellant (locally made).

This was my first time being outside for a long time.  I always forget when winter is over, to start wearing more sunscreen.  Pollen is ridiculous right now, and it figures, the guy across the street happened to be blowing while we were out.

Although it seems like a food desert here, some of these items can be found at grocery stores, but things like the tempeh are a lot cheaper, and the broccoli is “fresh off the truck” instead of sitting in the “rainforest” section at the grocery store.  We also have a local source for coffee.  I got some last month and am still working on it (it’s really good).  I like that I can order it freshly roasted, instead of hoarding pounds of it, like I had been doing.

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Meatless Monday – General Tso’s Tofu

I’ve just recently discovered “The Big Bang Theory” and have been watching old reruns.  After awhile, it made me crave Chinese food, since they eat take-out all the time.  Add to this, the crossword puzzles often have General Tso as one of the clues/answers, I thought I’d try General Tso’s Tofu.

Reading through the comments, some people suggested baking the tofu instead of frying it.  Another suggestion was to marinate it before coating it in egg and cornstarch.  I mixed up a little soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, ginger and sesame oil, put everything in a Ziploc bag, and let it marinate for the afternoon.  After dredging it in egg and cornstarch, it all went on a baking tray at 325 F for 30 minutes.

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I didn’t add as much sugar (1 T. instead of 4 T.) to the sauce mixture, and added more chili garlic sauce and a small amount of hoisin sauce and sesame oil.  For the veggies, I added carrots  snow peas, and mushrooms…thinking of Food Network’s Ellie Krieger and her advice to “eat the rainbow.”

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I like this so much, it’s going to be my regular “stir fry” sauce.  For the tofu, I might skip the dredging in the cornstarch.  Since it’s mixed in with the sauce, any crispiness disappears pretty quickly.

I had some of the egg left over, as an experiment, I put it in the microwave and scrambled it.  I used to do this all the time for Nuclear Medicine gastric emptying studies.  Basically you microwave the egg for about 30 seconds, stir, then microwave again until done.  This method works well for Nuclear Medicine procedures, since radioactive TcSC is added, and using something disposable like a styrofoam cup, it’s easier to store the “hot trash” vs. using a skillet (you can’t rinse out the skillet in the sink since it would contaminate the sink with radioactivity).  The egg turned out surprisingly fluffy.

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Bottom of the Jar Vinaigrette

Every so often, Rachael Ray will have a bottom of the jar recipe on her show.  I’ve always wanted to try them but never seem to remember, at least until today.  I took the scraped out dijon mustard bottle, added honey, red wine vinegar, olive oil, and a tiny bit of Penzey’s Italian salad dressing mix.

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Give it all a shake, and voila, honey mustard vinaigrette, already in a squirt bottle.

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If you go to her website (link above) and type in “bottom of the jar” recipe in the search bar, it will come up with lots of recipe ideas.  She has had them for such tidbits as apricot jam, maple syrup, peanut butter, chocolate sauce….

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Tortellini PIzza

We had tortellini pizza tonight.  I’d seen penne pizza on TV before, and decided to try it with tortellini instead.  I had bought a giant box of mushrooms at Sam’s Club, and piled them on the pizza too, along with onions and turkey Italian sausage.

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It was one of those “best of both worlds” dishes, pizza and pasta all in one.  The only thing I would do differently is put the mushrooms on top, so the liquid would evaporate.

Today is my dog Percy’s 3rd birthday.  I spent all morning making pupcakes and cookies for him.  I think I went a little overboard this year.  The pupcakes were made with bananas and whole wheat flour, with less sugar than for humans.  I used the silicon mold I got at Target during Valentine’s season.  (It was only $3.)

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Three dogs tried them and nobody turned up their nose, so it must have been good.  I tried a bite too.  It was kind of dense from having all whole wheat flour.  As I said, though, no complaints from the dogs.

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I made peanut butter oatmeal dog too.  I thought it would be easier rolling out the dough then cutting it into squares.  The website I found the recipe on (I can’t remember right now, I’ll post it later) had made “paw” prints by making indentations with thumb and pinkies.  I found it easier using the blunt ends of a chopstick.  I want to find a spritz cookie recipe.  The last one I tried, the dough wouldn’t release from the cookie gun.

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New Toy – Cast Iron Grill Pan

I’ve been wanting a grill pan for awhile.  I have a George Foreman grill, which I like, but it doesn’t work well for thick sandwiches (like tortas), plus it’s hard to clean.  When I started looking, I saw Calphalon type pans running around $50.  I looked online and found that Lodge has a cast iron grill pan for less than $20.  I’m thinking it will practically forever, so I ordered one from Walmart, ship-to-store.  It works great for tortas, the bread gets toasty without being too smushed.  Last night I tried veggie burgers (Lightlife Backyard Grill’n burgers).

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First I cooked the burgers, then put everything together (sauteed mushrooms, tomato, pickles, etc.) and toasted the sandwich.  I love these veggie burgers!  I like Boca and Morningstar Farms too, but this is my new favorite.

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For book club earlier this week, I made mini pineapple upside down cakes.  I was afraid of making a big mess when unmolding them, so I lined the cupcake tin with liners.  The topping was kind of crunchy, either I didn’t cook down the butter & brown sugar mixture enough, or it couldn’t bubble away in the pan.  I was also disappointed that the cake part deflated after cooling.  It all tasted good, though.  It was even better the next day.  At first I had thought of this recipe as a “tweaker,” one I want to try again, but change a little, but now, the only changes I think I’ll make are to bake the cake directly in the pan, make sure the brown sugar is melted, and use pineapple chunks instead of crushed pineapple.  Oh, and maybe use a bigger muffin tin.

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On the left is the cupcake “right side up” and the left is “upside down.”  By the way, if you like Downton Abbey, you might like Sesame Street’s version, “Upside Downton Abbey.

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Meatless Monday – Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

This may sound fancy, but it was just spaghetti with jarred pasta sauce.  But not just any pasta sauce…Trader Joe’s puttanesca.  It has anchovies, olives and capers, and a bit of spice.  I had picked it up the last time I was in Dallas.  Since I never tried it, I only got one jar.  I wish I had a whole case.  It is so good.  Somewhere I read a review that said it tastes like the ingredients were just chopped.  It really does.  I made salad and cheese toast to go with it.

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For dessert is Paula Deen’s Peanut Butter Pie.  I’ve been wanting to try it, ever since one of my friends mentioned that it’s one thing that Paula won’t give up.  It’s got to be good, right?  The filling is just cream cheese, peanut butter, powdered sugar, evaporated milk (I used half and half), and Cool-Whip.  I made a chocolate graham cracker crust instead of regular graham, since I had some crumbs left over from something else I had made.  When I tasted the filling straight from the bowl, I thought it was kind of sweet, but it mellowed out after setting in the refrigerator for a few hours.  I might try using plain whipped cream instead of Cool Whip next time.  It’s one of those desserts that’s easy to throw together, that I want to keep ingredients stocked in my pantry for.

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Here’s the pie nestled in the Pyrex pie carrier that my brother gave me, many years ago.

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