Archive for March, 2009

Peanut Butter Veggies

   The range of comments you hear from people regarding peanut butter can be very surprising. A few grumpy curmudgeons dislike it. Most folks love it and are anxious to share with you their favorite ways to indulge. The passion for peanut butter almost reminds me of chocolate. Can you even imagine what it would be like if there was a recall on chocolate and all brands were suspect?
   Not everyone is into peanut butter sandwiches. Many folks prefer to spread on almost any kind of fruit and there are those who like it on crisp raw veggies. There are those (guilty here) who will eat a glob of it off a spoon. Some of us are beginning to share our various inspirations to use it in cooking as other cuisines edge their way into our food consciousness.
   This combination is quickly becoming one of my lunch favorites. It is fast, low-calorie, filling, and very nutritious.

Peanut Butter Veggies
16-oz bag frozen broccoli stir-fry vegetable combination (or other favorite)
1 tablespoon olive oil (pepper infused)
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons soy sauce (broth is OK, this is the salt component)
¼ cup natural peanut butter (smooth or chunky)

   Add the contents of the bag (still frozen) to the oil in about a 3-quart saucepan (you need plenty of room for stirring). Turn on medium heat and stir in the ground ginger and garlic powder as it begins to cook. Keep stirring as the ice melts and the water begins to evaporate; then add in the soy sauce. When the vegetables are cooked just as you like them, cut off the heat and stir in the peanut butter. It absorbs the water and really glues the veggies together. It is ready to serve unless you want to add a little more liquid.
   I divide the recipe into two containers and store in the refrigerator for lunches. Each has about 290 calories with the brands that I use.


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Pizza Sauce

   You need a really good pizza sauce for your homemade pizza and this one is easy, it tastes better than the one we bought in a jar from the store – and it was much less expensive!

1@ 12 inch pizza
1 8-oz can Hunt’s tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/8 tsp. basil
1/8 tsp. marjoram
1/8 tsp. rosemary
Pinch of thyme
Pinch of garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper infused olive oil

2@ 12 inch pizzas
1 16-oz can Hunt’s tomato sauce
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. marjoram
1/4 tsp. rosemary
1/8 tsp. thyme
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper infused olive oil

   Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan and place on the stove over low heat. When the sauce begins to simmer just turn off the heat and leave it alone for a couple of hours for the flavors to meld.
   You can use it immediately or store in the refrigerator until needed. It keeps very well for several days.


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Cinnamon Toasties

    There have been several articles on the internet about Erin McKenna’s bakery, Babycakes, NYC. While it is fairly easy to eat healthy, gluten free meals the Holy Grail of the gluten free community seems to be permissible, edible baked goods, especially dessert. Having read rave reviews about this bakery’s offerings I did a little research – OK, a lot.
    First, it is in New York City which is considerably out of driving distance even for Texans. You can order baked goods online, here and there is a cookbook coming out. Before committing to anything I wanted a taste! The second good thing was a web search turned up a couple of recipes and I decided to try the one for Cinnamon Toasties found on Martha Stewart’s website, here. The third good thing; how often is it that everything required for a new recipe is already in your pantry?
    So off to the kitchen, mix it up, and pop it in the oven. The whole house smelled wonderfully of cinnamon. It rose to the top of the pan, the timer went off, and per recipe instructions it sat on a rack to cool – and sank in the middle. Did I miss an ingredient? Back to Martha’s to revisit the recipe – oh look, there is a video too so I can see exactly what I did wrong (better late than never). By this time impatience had taken over and I was nibbling on an end slice – it was so good! As the video demonstration came to an end the sunken cinnamon ribbon was revealed as a feature. So this sunken loaf on the kitchen island is really a success!

Cinnamon Toasties Loaf

Cinnamon Toasties Loaf

    Try the recipe – buy the cookbook! I did and I will. Your entire posse/family/friends will love the results and you and/or your allergic one(s) will thank you many times over.
    WARNING: You do need to be aware that most of the recipes call for a flour blend that includes fava bean flour. That is a concern for a small segment of the population who can have a serious anemia reaction known as favism. Read about it here. A friend had that reaction and needed a transfusion to save his life. The source of the fava bean ingestion was never discovered. As a result there will never be any fava bean products in my kitchen.
    I used plain garbanzo flour for my experiment rather than the garbanzo/fava blend and the results could not have been better.


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Bread and Broth

   Rita has been visiting and it was a toss-up as to whether we cooked more or talked more. Once again we made pizza using Pizza Crust I and it was excellent. We baked bread using a recipe that was picked up on the web a couple of years ago and modified over time and I will continue to experiment; not because we don’t like it but because we want to make it simpler. Speaking of great bread inspiration, Carrie at Ginger Lemon Girl has fabulous detailed instructions for making great yeast bread on her blog. Her pictures make it look so easy and yummy that you want to bake (and eat) them all – such a temptation! I tried to leave her a comment but something technical got hung up and it never seemed to resolve.
   One of the requirements for Rita’s Hawthorne University nutrition class was the preparation of a vegetable broth. We shopped for the ingredients having to substitute for a couple of unfamiliar items. For example we couldn’t find kombu but used nori instead as both are highly nutritious types of sea vegetables. The recipe quantities far exceeded the capacity of my kitchen utensils and even half the recipe was barely manageable. It produced 4 ½ jars of broth plus some was frozen in a recycled one pound margarine tub – close to six quarts. We were very curious as to just what we had created so for breakfast we each had a bowl of leftover brown rice re-heated in a generous quantity of broth. We were happily surprised at the depth of flavor and how very good it was given the hodge-podge of ingredients that were washed but not peeled, thrown in and generally looking very brackish before all of the straining.
   Rita has promised to post her homework write-up once it is completed.


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