Everything INCLUDING the Kitchen Sink…

My adventures in the kitchen

Remembering Favorites… April 11, 2010

Filed under: Recipe — Carey @ 4:01 pm

I was browsing through recipes last night and came across one for waffles. Now, we’re not big on breakfast, since neither of us is ready to eat before 10:00 am, and my daughter prefers a salty breakfast over sweet. So waffles, pancakes, etc, don’t show up on the table very often. And frankly, I’d forgotten the waffles…

I blogged about the basic recipe a while back. My dad came up with the recipe when I was a kid, and for years that was Sunday morning breakfast – Dad made waffles, and we’d have fresh figs, homemade apple or pear sauce, fruit syrup, persimmons…whatever was in season or we’d preserved.

Since I finally got a waffle iron, I’ve started making them, and of course each time is a little different. Today, I grabbed the rye and barley flakes. We’d gotten a batch of rather disappointing blueberries a couple of weeks ago that I had boiled down to syrup. And a bag of strawberries that was getting pretty badly freezer burned. Mmmm, the makings of breakfast…

The beauty of this waffle recipe is that it can easily be gluten-free. And it has so much flavor – I ate the first two squares just plain. And even though the basis of the sauce was homemade blueberry syrup, a store bought syrup will work just as well.

Growing up, eating at IHOP was a big treat as we never had anything remotely similar to eat at home. My favorites were the fruit and cheese blintzes. I’ve made them at home, but it takes a fair amount of work. I also really like potato pancakes with sour cream, which gave me the idea of a short cut – sour cream, berries and waffles. It makes an easy, tasty and healthier breakfast treat than the IHOP version – in fact, IHOPs are too sweet for me nowadays.

Waffles (Made 4 2-square waffles)

1/2 c cashews, almonds or walnuts
2/3 c rolled rye flakes
2/3 c rolled barley or oat flakes
1 TBS oil
1 TBS sorghum or molasses OR 2 TBS brown or raw sugar
1 tsp coarse sea salt
Water to cover, 1 – 1 1/2 c.

Put all ingredients in blender and blend until fairly smooth (add small amounts of water if necessary to keep the batter thin enough to blend).

Let sit while waffle iron heats up. Whiz batter briefly and pour into waffle iron. Bake a minute or two longer after “Done” light comes on.

Strawberry Sauce

2 c. Blueberry syrup (use commercial, or use recipe below)
1 pkg frozen strawberries
1/4 candied citron
2 TBS candied orange peel

Put syrup and strawberries in saucepan and simmer until berries are thawed. Use a potato masher and smash the strawberries up. Add the candied citron and orange peel and let sit 15-20 minutes.

To Serve:
Spread a tablespoon of fat-free sour cream over each waffle. Pour the syrup over and enjoy.

Blueberry Syrup
1 pint blueberries
1 c apple juice concentrate
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of ground cardamom
Pinch of salt
2 tsp cornstarch mixed with 2 TBS cold water

Put all ingredients except cornstarch into saucepan and simmer for at least 1 hour (blueberries should be very soft). Let cool for 15-20 minutes. Add cornstarch water and mix. Bring syrup back to a boil stirring constantly and boil until all milkiness has disappeared. Let cool at least 1 hour. Mash the blueberries (I used a large sieve and just mashed the blueberries in it while the juice ran through).


Pies, It’s All Pies, I Tell You… April 3, 2010

Filed under: Recipe — Carey @ 7:55 pm

So my daughters summer appetite this year seems to be for pies. Well, maybe that’s kind of my fault, since we were at the grocery store and I said I was in the mood for a fruit pie. Now mind you, we hadn’t had any pies since Christmas, and while I like pecan pie and tolerate pumpkin pie, I love a piece of fruit pie. It can be most any kind of fruit.

And it HAS to have milk on it. Well, fruit pies do. My grandfather always had something on his cake and pie – when he was younger it was cream. As he got older and more “health conscious” (I do use that term advisedly!) he used 1/2 & 1/2. When we were in Colorado for my grandmothers funeral last month, the whole family got into a big discussion about whether or not pie should have milk/1/2 & 1/2/cream on it, and there were only 3 of us that didn’t think that was gross – but they all like ice cream on their pie – go figure.

So where was I…oh yes, pies, pies, and more pies…Anyway, it’s still a little early for good fruit, so we got some frozen peaches and blueberries, with the intention of making a peach-blueberry pie. Then we went to the farmer’s market, and my daughter walked up to me with a bag of Key limes. The conversation went something like this:

Daughter: “These look nice”.
Mom: “What are we going to use that many for?”
Daughter: “Key Lime Pie??”

And so Key Lime pie it was, and the blueberry-peach pie got put off a week. I made my blueberry-peach pie last weekend, and thought I was done with pies for a while. Then last night my daughter brought home 4 pounds of strawberries. They were gorgeous, but have you seen 4 pounds of strawberries??? And the conversation went something like this:

Daughter: “Look what we had today.”
Me: “Those are gorgeous. How much is there?”
Daughter: “4 pounds.”
Me: “What are we going to do with that many strawberries.”
Daughter: “Pie??”

Ok, yeah, I got it. Next time she shows up with a boatload of anything, my response is going to be “Pie?”

So, strawberry pie. I’ve never made a pie with strawberries. The two options that came to mind were strawberry rhubarb and strawberry cream pie. My daughter nixed the strawberry rhubarb, so strawberry cream it was.

I started looking for recipes, and there seemed to be 3 main variations: Strawberry with a chilled cream cheese base; a pudding/whipped topping base; a baked “cheesecake” base. None of these really appealed to me, so it was time to improvise. The first option was the closest, since we wanted a nice, cool summery pie. But mixing some sugar and cream cheese just wasn’t cutting it. So I opted for a combination; cream cheese and pudding.

I also liked the idea of a “glaze”, but didn’t want to cook the living daylights out of those gorgeous strawberries. So instead of a “glaze”, the pie has a strawberry “sauce”. I wanted to “spark it up” a bit, but didn’t want to bury the flavor of the strawberries in spices, so I added the juice and zest of a couple of Key limes to the strawberries (we came home with another bag of Key limes today:D)

This is a pretty easy recipe, you just need to allow some time for the cooling stages.

Strawberry Cream Pie

Cookie Crust:
1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
5 TBS butter, melted

1 Prepared chocolate cookie crust

Cream Cheese Pudding:
4 oz. Neufchatel or fat-free cream cheese
1/2 pkg Instant Sugar-free Lemon Pudding mix
1/2 c. milk
1/8 tsp. salt

1+1 pints Strawberries
2 TBS. raw, turbinado or brown sugar, or Splenda brown sugar substitute
Juice and zest of 2 Key limes
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
pinch salt

Mix cookie crumbs and butter. Pour into pie plate and press out and up sides of pie plate. Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes, or until edges start to brown. Allow to cool completely.

Put ingredients in a bowl and mix with electric mixer until smooth. Pour into pie plate and spread out evenly across bottom of pie crust. Cover and put in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.


Wash and dry 1 pint of the strawberries. Hull and cut in half length-wise. Layer around edge of pie, wide side out. Continue until pudding surface is covered with sliced strawberries. If you have some left over, add them to the next step.

Wash and hull the remaining strawberries. Use a potato masher and smoosh the strawberries. Add the sugar, lime juice and zest, cornstarch and salt. Mix until cornstarch is fully dissolved. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Allow to cool for 1/2 and hour. Pour over strawberries and pie and spread evenly. Recover the pie and refrigerate until strawberries are thoroughly chilled.


Lots of Little Green Balls…. March 22, 2010

Filed under: Recipe — Carey @ 8:48 pm

I don’t know why, but balls seem to be a theme lately – and yes, you can take that anyway you want, because the references and inferences have included them all!! And Key Limes are – little green balls. I had a whole bag of them that we got at the Farmer’s Market because my daughter wanted Key Lime Pie. I’ve never made Key Lime pie – I love it, and just didn’t want to take on all the work of making one – I figured it was just about like making cheese cake. I wasn’t really looking forward to this.

Imagine my surprise to find out that, almost universally, the sites I looked up online had the same recipe. That almost never happens in the world of food. EVERYONE has a little twist on the written recipe, then they write their version down, and someone else puts a twist on that…not Key Lime pie. Which made me curious about what would happen if I DIDN’T follow the recipe exactly. I made the pie according the recipe this time, but I can guarantee that I’ll be playing with it in the future!

And it’s a simple recipe, both in ingredient list and composition. 2 ingredients for the crust, 3 for the filling. The “hardest” part of this recipe is squeezing the limes – they are really tiny, and it took about 25 to make the amount of juice I wanted. You can use bottled juice and just get a few fresh limes to zest, if you’re not in the mood for squeezing 25 little green balls 😀

My ADD had kicked into full swing, and I had everything going at the same time (and a couple extraneous projects), and left some things waiting that the recipe said to do first (yeah, like mixing the filling before I’d even mixed the crust…) The recipe held up well, so don’t stress about “doing things in order” here.

What set this Key Lime pie apart for me was the crust. I didn’t have any graham crackers, but I did have Trader Joe’s Butter Almond Cookies – and they made the BEST crust I’ve ever had! I am going to try it with gingersnaps too. I added some extra almonds, which gave the crust a really nice crunch.

Key Lime Pie

1 1/4 c. cookie crumbs
1/3 c. toasted almonds, ground (optional)
5 tbs. butter, melted

1-14 oz sweetened, condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 c. Key Lime juice
1-2 tbs. lime zest (depending on how “tangy” you like it – I used the zest from 5 limes)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix cookie crumbs, ground almonds and butter. Press into bottom and at least half way up the sides of a 9″ pie plate. Bake in center of oven for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool while preparing the filling.

Empty condensed milk into a bowl. Add egg yolks and mix well. Add lime juice and zest, and mix well again (filling will thicken slightly). Pour into pie crust, and bake for 15 minutes.

Let it cool at least enough not to burn your mouth 😀

The recipe said to let it cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 8 hours. I think mine cooled on the counter for about 2 hours before I HAD to try a piece!!

Some lightly sweetened whipped cream is a fabulous addition.


Using up Chocolate April 19, 2009

Filed under: Recipe — Carey @ 5:23 pm
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Now you’d think this wouldn’t be that difficult. HOWEVER….

For Christmas we made homemade drinking chocolate and biscotti for gifts for co-workers and friends. In the process of stocking up on chocolate, we got more than we ended up using. I’ve had several bars of chocolate sitting around since, and not wanting them to go rancid started trying to think of a way to use them.

Jess likes pudding – well, I do too. But it’s a dangerous thing to have around – FAR to easy to grab a spoonful or 10. And I’ve never really made puddings. My luck with them seems to be hit and miss. In fact yesterday I made Tapioca, which just didn’t quite thicken up like it should have. But with not working the last couple of months, I’ve had time to experiment. And today’s experiment was going to be chocolate pudding.

I had seen a couple of recipes so went looking for them. One called for 6 egg yolks. Now aside from the fact that that is just way more cholesterol than I want to put in my food, my penny-pinching side really hates to throw away 6 whites. And we’re not much for meringue. I went looking again and found one that was really quite reasonable – or at least relatively reasonable – in terms of it’s healthfulness.

I started gathering my ingredients, and it reminded me of our Christmas chocolate project. We had made three different versions of the drinking chocolate – Dark Chocolate, Dark Chocolate with Heat, and Dark Chocolate with Citrus. And my brain started running. Wouldn’t some cinnamon be good in it? Why not some chili (I LOVE a little spice with my chocolate). And so was born Mexican Dark Chocolate Pudding.

This was a relatively simple recipe as far as pudding recipes go. It does have you add some of the ingredients part way through the cooking, so I chopped up the chocolate and cut up the butter and put them in a small bowl, then beat the egg in another bowl and added the brandy to the egg. When I went to add the egg/brandy to the pudding, it looked like it had curdled the egg, but the pudding still turned out fine, nice and smooth. It did turn out a little thick, more like a pie filling, so I think I would decrease the cornstarch to 2 1/2 TBS. next time.

This was not a particularly sweet pudding, partly because I inadvertently decreased the amount of sugar to 1/3 cup. I also used Hershey’s 100% Cacao Dark Special Cocoa Powder, 6 oz. Ghirardelli 60% Cacao bittersweet chocolate (1 bar) and 2 oz. Unsweetened Belgian Baking Chocolate to round out the 8 oz. the recipe called for.

I used cinnamon, cardamom, mace and chipotle chili powder. I used 1/2 tsp. of the chili powder, which gave the pudding a definite heat, more than I would have probably done on purpose. I probably wouldn’t do that again. I taste tested the spiciness with the dry ingredients and 1/4 tsp chili powder and couldn’t even notice the chili. So I added another 1/4 tsp, and it seemed just right. However, the spiciness seems to have intensified with each step of the process. It was about perfect while the pudding was warm, it’s a bit spicier than I’d pick now that it’s cooled. But, that means it’s going to pair perfectly with some nice cool, mild, fresh whipped cream – or that tapioca pudding…. Oh, and the amount will also vary by the type of chili powder that you use. I have some Ancho chili powder that is more mild and “regular” chili powder is even more mild.

Mexican Dark Chocolate Pudding

3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutched)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8-1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp. mace

1 cup heavy cream
1½ cups whole milk (I used 1% and it worked fine)

1 egg, beaten (optional)
2 TBS. brandy (optional)
2 Tbsp. butter (optional)
8 oz. (about 1¼ cups) chopped semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips are fine)

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Put the cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, spices and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk the ingredients together thoroughly, making sure no cornstarch or cocoa-powder lumps remain. Whisk in the cream and milk, a little bit at a time until cocoa mixture is smoothly incorporated.
2. Heat over medium-low heat, whisking steadily and scraping the sides of the pan occasionally. When warm (but before the pudding comes to a boil), whisk in the egg, the brandy, the butter, and the chopped chocolate. Increase the heat to medium and continue cooking and stirring until the butter and chocolate have melted and dissolved into the mixture.
3. When the pudding has come to a low boil and begun to thicken, remove from the heat. Whisk in the vanilla extract and pour the pudding into dessert dishes or a single large bowl.
4. You can let the pudding cool slowly on the countertop and serve it soft and warm, if you like. If you prefer to serve it firm and chilled, cover the pudding with plastic wrap (stretched taut if you like skin on your pudding, or pressed gently into the surface of the pudding if you don’t) and refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes to an hour.
5. Serve garnished with freshly whipped cream and grated semisweet chocolate, if you like.



Red Pepper Curry Soup January 24, 2009

Filed under: Healthy,Recipe,Soups,Vegan — Carey @ 10:30 am

So last week, I promised y’all this experience.  During the week I had been perusing a favorite site, “Tastespotting”, and they had a recipe for Thai Curry Soup, which looked really tasty.   The recipe called for Thai Red Curry paste.  However, having had a BAD experience with this, and knowing how easily you can get too much (besides, I didn’t have any at home!), I opted to make this more of an Indian curry type soup.

In addition, the recipe called for just chopping the red peppers up, but I recently had lunch at a local Indian restaurant called “Copper” and they had served a red pepper coconut milk soup that was phenomenal.  So I blended the peppers up and then added them to the soup. The recipe also called for basil, which, can you believe this, the store didn’t have!!!  Fennel is abundantly available here and it has become a staple of our fresh herb supply now.  I substituted the fennel for the basil and I don’t think the soup suffered for it at all (I sure didn’t).  One thing I didn’t think about adding until later is canned baby corn – next time!

For some time saving, the grocery stores have started carrying firm tofu that is already cubed.  This is a new favorite in my cooking arsenal, since I can just open it, drain it and use it.  Also, the recipe calls for roasting the bell pepper first, but you can just blend it up and then simmer the soup a little longer.

It did end up being very tasty, and the leftovers are going to be turned into an actual curry (with some thickening!) and used on rice later this week.  So here it is!

Red Pepper Curry Soup

1 red bell pepper

1 6″ stalk of fennel, split, then diced

1 cup green beans, bite size pieces

1 pkg sliced baby portabellas

1 pkg firm or extra firm tofu, drained and cubed

2 cups vegetable broth

1 – 13.5 oz can lite coconut milk

1 TBS olive oil

1/2 tsp dry mustard powder

3/4 tsp coriander

1 tsp. cardamom

2 tsp curry powder

1 tsp salt (or to taste)

white pepper to taste (I used a generous pinch)

Remove the stem and seeds from the red pepper and cut into large chunks.  In a dry, non-stick pan, “roast” the peppers over high heat until they start to blister and blacken, on each side.  Add 1 cup of the vegetable broth and simmer just until they start to soften.  Pour peppers and stock into blender and blend until smooth.

In your soup pot, put the olive oil, fennel, green beans and salt.  Saute on medium-high or high heat for about 2 minutes, then add the mushrooms.  Continue sauteing until the mushrooms start to soften and darken.  Add remaining 1 cup of broth, red pepper puree, seasoning, coconut milk and tofu.  Simmer for at least 10 minutes.

We had it with homemade Belgian Molasses Bread and local butter from the Farmer's Market

We had it with homemade Belgian Molasses Bread and local butter from the Farmer's Market

Live Well, this week.