Category Archives: Sides

Peanut Miso Kale Chips – A New Favorite!

kale miso 2

A couple of years back, I did a post on these Kale Chips, but I’m here to tell you today that I’ve vastly improved them! These are the most delectable Kale Chips ever, and if they were sold in a bag, I’m sure they would fetch the usual $5.00 or so price tag for just a mere handful! The flavor is as wonderful as ever, but I discovered that using Tuscan Kale, removing every single hint of stem, and a new cooking method takes these chips to a higher level.

Tuscan Kale is the kind of kale with flat leaves, unlike their curly leafed cousin.

kale trimmed

I trim each leaf with kitchen shears, and save the stems. I cut the stems into short pieces, or process in a food processor and steam for later usage.

kale with scissors

Kale in steamer -- steam for about 10-12 minutes depending on how chewy you like it.

Kale stems in steamer — steam for about 10-12 minutes depending on how chewy you like it.

I mix together the sauce ingredients in a bowl:

peanut sauce

Then coat the kale leaves completely. It is OK if there is just a hint of the sauce on the leaves — it packs a flavorful punch and a little goes a long way!

Spread kale out in a single layer on lined baking sheets. Put in a preheated 375 F degree oven. Turn off oven and let sit for 30-60 minutes, checking after 20 minutes.

The chips are perfectly crisp with no brown edges!

kale miso

If you want an even faster recipe, just make the kale chips without the sauce. Cooking time is 20 minutes. I like to spray with olive oil and season with kosher salt.

kale

Look how thin it is!

Look how thin it is!

These chips keep in an air tight container for about two days, and they stay crisp! I have also tried them with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast (parmesan would probably taste better, but if you want to go vegan…) and taco seasoning.

kale-chip-with-yeast

kale with yeast 2

My favorite is the peanut miso flavor though! ūüôā Have a try and let me know what you think. Which do you like best?

Peanut Butter and Miso Glazed Kale Chips

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 teaspoon miso paste

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon mirin (or rice wine vinegar if you don’t have it)

2 teaspoons water

A large bunch of Tuscan Kale

non-stick spray

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment or foil. Spray foil with non-stick spray. Set aside.

2.  Wash kale leaves and pat dry. Then cut away each side of the stem per leaf, reserving leaf parts. Save stems for later use (I like to chop mine and steam them).

3.  In a large bowl whisk together peanut butter, miso paste, soy sauce, and mirin with a whisk. Add water and whisk until smooth. Throw in kale leaves and coat and massage with clean hands to get the sauce on all of the leaves. Spread leaves in a single layer on lined baking sheets. Spray with non-stick spray. You will have extra. You can save these to bake for another time. Turn off oven.

4.  Place baking sheets in oven and let sit for one hour. Halfway through baking, stir the leaves and turn over.

5.  When chips are crisp, transfer to a plate and let cool completely.

Plain Kale Chips

1 bunch Tuscan Kale

non-stick spray

kosher salt to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment or foil. Spray foil with non-stick spray. Set aside.

2.  Wash kale leaves and pat dry. Then cut away each side of the stem per leaf, reserving leaf parts. Save stems for later use (I like to chop mine and steam them).

3.  Spread leaves in a single layer on lined baking sheets. Spray with non-stick spray. You will have extra. You can save these to bake for another time. Season with kosher salt. Turn off oven.

4.  Place baking sheets in oven and let sit for 20 minutes, checking after 12 minutes.

5.  When chips are crisp, transfer to a plate and let cool completely.

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Filed under Appetizers, Gluten Free, Sides

MATS A Course and Root Vegetables

Melissa Iwai 2014

Melissa Iwai 2014

So… I started taking an intense online design course, called Make Art That Sells, taught by Lilla Rogers. ¬†This, along with several book assignments and prep for a gallery show and an art auction makes for some busy (though good) times! ¬†For any artist wanted to broaden their range, I highly recommend this class. ¬†Every week focuses on a different market. ¬†Last week, it was Bolt Fabric. ¬†Our assignment was to create a fabric pattern that had the theme “vintage kitchen” that is inspired by root vegetables and vintage casserole dishes. ¬†So this is the pattern I designed. ¬†It was really difficult for me, but I won’t bore you with the gory details. If you want to read about my process, you can do so on my website blog.

For the warm up — or mini assignment, we were to explore vintage casserole dishes and root vegetables. ¬†So the first thing I did was buy a bunch of veggies and the local green market.

root vegetables

After several days of drawing and drawing and more  drawing and painting the vegetables in different media, they met their final destination:  The oven.

root vegetables to roast

This is three yams, one large parsnip, a bunch of carrots, one large turnip, and one beet (the beet is wrapped in foil). ¬†Unfortunately, my celery root had gone bad, and I couldn’t use it! ¬†Basically it’s about 5¬† cups of chopped vegetables. ¬†I coated them with olive oil, ¬†seasoned them with kosher salt and dried thyme, and roasted them at 400 for about 30 minutes, tossing them halfway.

cooked root veg

 

The vegetables really shrink!  But it was enough for a side dish at a pot luck dinner we went to that evening.

And here is my final submission to the class with more coordinating patterns (not so happy with these — it was a struggle!! ¬†But I’d like to do more and improve my craft…) ¬†If you don’t know already, there is a great site where you can upload your designs to be printed on fabric — Spoonflower.com. I’d love to use my pattern to make an apron or some tea towels. ūüôā

MELISSA_IWAI_ROOSTERPITCHER_4A_WK1

 

Roasted Root Vegetables

Non-stick spray

An assortment of root vegetables, such as potatoes, yams, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery root

about 1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil

kosher salt to taste

1 – 2 teaspoons dried thyme

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with foil and spray with non-stick spray.

2.  Chop vegetables into 1/2 inch cubes.  Try to make them all about the same size so they cook evenly.

3.  Pour onto baking sheets and spread out into a single layer.  Drizzle with olive oil (right onto baking sheets is OK) and mix with hands to make sure everything is nicely coated.  Season with salt and thyme.

4.  Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring and flipping halfway through.

Roasted Beet

1 or 2 beets

olive oil

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2.  Wash and dry beets.  Brush with some olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil.

3. ¬†Set on a baking sheet (sometimes the juices leak out, and it’s not pretty if it gets on your oven!) and bake for about 60 minutes until tender. ¬†You can test it with a knife. ¬†It should be soft like a cooked potato.

 

7 Comments

Filed under Art Related, Sides, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Red Quinoa and Cauliflower “Rice”

High protein low carb and full of nutrients!

High protein low carb and full of nutrients!

Have you ever tried Red Quinoa? ¬†They have it at Trader Joe’s, but I also buy it in bulk at our local store. ¬†Health food stores probably would carry it as well. ¬†It is nuttier and chewier than regular quinoa. ¬†It takes longer to cook, but it is minimal active time on your part. ¬†You just simmer it in a lot of liquid (I used broth to make it more flavorful) for about 45-50 minutes. ¬†Then you mix it with steamed “riced” cauliflower (process raw in food processor and then steam in microwave for 4 minutes).

You can process it until it has the consistency of rice.

You can process it until it has the consistency of rice.

I like to eat this as a side with veggies and meat.  It is really good with curry.  And it also good mixed with some real rice!  Either way, you are getting a nice dose of protein and wonderful nutrients and fiber.

 

This weekend is jam packed with various events. ¬†On Saturday (tomorrow, May 17, 2014), we will be in Hillsborough, NJ at the Hillsborough Library Children’s Book ¬†Festival. ¬†If you are in the area, come by! ¬†The event is from 10-3 at the Hillsborough Library (379 South Branch Road, Hillsborough, NJ 08844). ¬†There will be a number of authors and illustrators there signing books and giving presentations. ¬†Hopefully it will be nicer weather tomorrow, but regardless, it is indoors, so you don’t have to worry about standing out in the rain!

I’ll be signing Truck Stop, Soup Day, and we will both be signing Hush Little Monster, of course!

turck stop_cover

The recipe is at the end of the story.

=

hush_book

On Sunday through Tuesday, I will be at Surtex, one of the major licensing conventions in North America. ¬†I’ll be helping Victoria Johnson with her booth (#447!) and checking out all the amazing art at the rest of the show. ¬†It’s a great way to learn about the industry which is somewhat unfamiliar to me. ¬†Check out this amazing post at Print and Pattern where Victoria and other amazing artists are featured.

 

Red Quinoa and Cauliflower “Rice”

1/4 cup red quinoa

1 1/4 cup or so of liquid (water, vegetable broth, chicken broth or beef broth)

1/2 half head of cauliflower

1.  Simmer quinoa in liquid in a saucepan until quinoa is soft and chewy and most of liquid has been absorbed.  Keep an eye on it and stir every 15 minutes or so to make sure there is still liquid in the pan.

2.  Meanwhile, process 1/2 head of cauliflower in food processor until finely chopped.  Transfer to a large bowl, cover with saran, and cook in microwave for 4 minutes.  Let sit while quinoa cooks.

3.  Mix quinoa and cauliflower together.  Season to taste.

 

13 Comments

Filed under Gluten Free, Grains, Sides, Vegetables

Parsnip Chips

parsnip chips1


First off, thank you all for your support and voting for me in the Skillshare Valentine Challenge¬†! ¬†It turned out that my card and wrapping paper design was one of the two first place winners, which was decided in secret by the instructors, Faye Brown and Majo Bautista. ¬†The voting was for 2nd and 3rd…but I had no idea beforehand where I stood! ¬†So many friends voted for me–I’m pretty overwhelmed by the support and vote of confidence in me. ¬†Thank you so much again!!! ¬†To see the other winners and their designs, go here.

I’m immensely busy still, involved in many projects. ¬†I’m working on my book dummy for a picture book and in the middle of creating artwork for a mini one. ¬†I still have all my Skillshare classes (!) and I am participating in the Making Art That Sells Bootcamp. ¬†This class was designed by Lilla Rogers Studio and Beth Kempton of Do What You Love. ¬† It’s been an amazing experience. ¬†For one, it’s so inspiring to see everyone else’s work — there are so many talented artists in the class — over 400! ¬†Also, people are so generous and helpful with advice and support. ¬†I’ve made a lot of new friends there and reconnected with old ones! ¬†Our first assignment was to design a cell phone case that had to do with cuckoo clocks. ¬†I can honestly say I had never drawn so many cuckoo clocks in my life!

One of many sketches

One of many sketches

The clocks weren’t really calling to me, so I decided to focus on the cuckoo birds. Also because I can never seem to get away from food, I ended up with two designs having to do with eating and drinking. ha ha. ¬†Which one do you like the best?

!st two are the same design with a different color treatment and placement of coffee and clock icons.

!st two are the same design with a different color treatment and placement of coffee and clock icons.  Click to enlarge.

I decided to go with the girl one because it had more of a response on the class forum, and because I had way more fun creating it! ¬†I figured out a different way of working, and I’m really excited about that and plan to do my book illustrations this way. ¬†It even got me to get off my tush and start building a place to sell some artwork once and for all. ¬†I have been dragging my heels at the overwhelming thought of it. ¬†I only have two things available at the moment (lol) but it will grow! ¬†Check it out here: Society 6¬† I will also upload different sizes so the designs can be used on different things. ¬†Stay tuned!

All of these extra activities are great in that I’m creating double the work I normally would and learning lots of new ways of working and thinking about art making! ¬†But it curtails my ability to cook or bake anything that takes more than 30-40 minutes…. ¬†(An exception will be next week when I will bake a German Chocolate Cake¬†for Denis’ birthday!)

gc-cake-2

The other day I saw a bunch of parsnips for sale, so I grabbed them and made chips. ¬†I was craving something crunchy by healthy, and these fit the bill. ¬†You could probably make these out of other root vegetables, like carrots, yams, etc. but I haven’t tried it yet. ¬†I like the flavor of parsnips — they are a tad sweet, similar to sweet potatoes. ¬†While I was making them, Jamie and his friend thought I was baking cookies! ¬†Imagine their disappointment when I told them it was vegetables. ¬†They tasted the parsnip chips, though, and they liked them. ūüôā

You need a mandoline or a box grater with a slicer on the side to cut thin slices of the parsnip. ¬†I have one something like this. ¬†Then you just lay the slices on a foil lined baking sheet and pop in the oven. ¬†My friend, Alexandra, mentioned that she makes chips by putting them in a cold oven and then turning the oven on. ¬† The method works well because you don’t burn any chips, which are delicate when thinly sliced! ¬†Cooking them this way makes it easier to do this. ¬†Turn the oven on to 250 degrees F, set your timer for 30 minutes and walk away. ¬† Check them after 30 minutes. ¬†I remove the tan, crispy ones, and return the pan to the oven and for another 10-15 minutes or so. ¬†Easy, no? ¬†I think the chips are best eaten right away, which isn’t hard to do! If you save them and they lose their crunch, you could probably pop them in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes and let cool a bit to crisp them up.

_DSC0301

Parsnip Chips

Several parsnips, washed and trimmed and peeled

Non stick spray

kosher salt to taste

1.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray.

2.  Slice thin rounds of parsnips with a mandoline or other slicer and lay slices in one layer on prepared baking sheet.

3.  Place in oven and turn onto 250 degrees F.

4.  After 30 minutes or so, check parsnips.  Sprinkle with kosher salt if you like.   Remove tan, crisp chips to a plate.  Return baking sheet to oven.  Check chips after about 10-15 minutes.  They should all be crisp now.  If not, let cook a bit longer.  Remove to a plate and eat!

18 Comments

Filed under Art Related, Gluten Free, Sides, Snack, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Weight Watchers 50th Anniversary Cookbook

72 weight watchers

I’m embarrassed that I have had this cookbook and have been meaning to post a review of it FOREVER. ¬†The nice folks at Saint Martin’s Press sent it to me, and it’s a fantastic cookbook. ¬†The more I use it, the more I love it. I’ve never done Weight Watchers, but I know a lot of people who have with great success. ¬†Even if you are not dieting or involved in Weight Watchers, though, this this is a great cookbook to have in your library. ¬†The recipes are not all about using fat-free ingredients, and shunning food groups, etc. ¬†The focus is on fresh ingredients and healthy cooking tips.

Lemon Basil Three Bean Salad

Lemon Basil Three Bean Salad

There is a blurb about each recipe (a lot are favorites that have been updated).   Servings and portion sizes, and nutritional information with PointsPlus points (if you are following the Weight Watchers 360 program) are also included with the recipes.  Recipes that are vegetarian and/or under 20 minutes to prepare are noted. The recipes are very easy to follow, the photography beautiful, but best of all, the dishes are wonderful.  I have made the Lemon Basil Three Bean Salad about four or five times.  It is my new go to side dish for grilling or having a get together (see recipe below).

Pork Chops with Onion Gravy

Pork Chops with Onion Gravy

I made the Pork Chops with Onion Gravy last night, and it was AMAZING. ¬†The cool thing about it is that you cook the onions in chicken broth, rather than sauteing them in a lot of oil and butter (a la The Barefoot Contessa), but you don’t sacrifice flavor at all. ¬†So you are only using 1 teaspoon of olive oil for the whole dish. ¬†I will definitely make this again. ¬†It is key that you use bone-in pork chops so they stay moist, and this is noted in the recipe.

Huevos Rancheros in Tortilla Cups

Huevos Rancheros in Tortilla Cups

Another recipe I absolutely love is the Huevos Rancheros in Tortilla Cups. ¬†I make this for myself all the time now. I’m the only one who likes spicy foods, so I just make a single portion using our toaster oven. ¬†I love the idea of making the cups using an inverted ramekin or muffin tin. ¬†It works like a charm. And I love baked eggs and Mexican food, so this is one of my favorites.

There are a lot of really simple recipes that I’ve tried out that I am not reviewing here, but that I use regularly and vary to my liking. ¬†Omelettes for Two (you use 2 large eggs and 3 whites), ¬†Canadian Bacon-Cheddar Frittata, Potato Leek Soup, Kale Chips, ¬†Banana “Ice Cream”, Oven Fried Fish and Chips, Vegetable Quesadillas, to name a few.

I chose to highlight these three because they were all very good, and I learned something from them that I think is valuable and that I’ll incorporate into other recipes (e.g. Including edamame in bean salad, and using lemon juice and zest, rather than vinegar; making tortilla cups; and cooking a pile of onions and softening them in chicken broth).

And there are  TON of recipes I want to try out in the future, like:  Bubble Bread with Herbs and Sun Dried Tomatoes, Southwestern Chicken Vegetable Soup, Mexican Chicken Wraps, Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy, Individual Beef Wellingtons, Boston Cream Pie.  These are just a handful of them.  If I were to wait until I made everything, photographed the dishes, wrote about them, and posted about it, this review would take even longer than it has to get out!

Please enjoy these three dishes from Weight Watchers 50th Anniversary Cookbook, and buy the book for more great healthy and delicious recipes!

Lemon Basil Three-Bean Salad

From The Weight Watchers 50th Anniversary Cookbook

Serves 6

20 Min or Less

Vegetarian

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 ¬Ĺ tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

¬Ĺ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 (15-ounce) can small white, rinsed and drained

2/3 cup cooked shelled green soybeans (edamame)

1/3 sweet onion, finely diced

1/3 red bell pepper, finely diced

5 large basil leaves, thinly sliced

Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, salt, and ground pepper in a medium bowl.  Add the black beans, white beans, soybeans, onion, bell pepper, and basil; toss to coat evenly.  Serve at once, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Per Serving (3/4 cup):  160 Cal, 3 g Total Fat, 0 g Sat Fat, 0 mg Chol, 427 mg Sod, 26g Carb, 8 g Fib, 9g Prot, 94 mg Calc.
PointsPlus value: 4

bean salad

Skillet Pork Chops with Onion Gravy

From Weight Watchers 50th Anniversary Cookbook

Serves 6

4 (6-ounce) bone-in pork loin chops, trimmed

¬Ĺ teaspoon salt

¬ľ teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 sweet onions, thinly sliced

1 ¬ľ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon whole-grain Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1        Sprinkle the chops with the salt and pepper.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. (I used a cast iron one).  Swirl in the oil, add the chops and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

2¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Add the onions, ¬ľ cup of the broth, and the garlic to the skillet.¬† Bring to a boil.¬† Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very tender, about 12-15 minutes.

3        Sprinkle the onions with the flour; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute.  Add the remaining 1 cup broth, mustard, and thyme.  Bring to a boil, stirring until the sauce bubbles and thickens.  Return the chops and any accumulated juices to the skillet.  Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the chops are heated through, 2-3 minutes.

Per Serving (1 chop with ¬ľ cup sauce):

253 Cal, 11 g Total Fat, 4g Sat Fat, 76 mg Chol, 420 g Sod, 9 g Carb, 2 g Fiber, 29g Prot, 30 mg Calc.

PointsPlus value: 6

Huevos Rancheros in Tortilla Cups

Serves 4

Vegetarian

4 (6-inch) corn tortillas

1 (14 ¬Ĺ-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green pepper, celery, and onion

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

¬Ĺ cup canned diced mild green chiles, drained

2-3 tablespoons mild peepper sauce, such as Frank’s Red Hot

¬ĺ teaspoon ground cumin

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

4 large eggs

¬ľ cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

  1. Place the oven rack in the center of the oven; preheat the oven to 425 F.  Lightly spray both sides of the tortillas with nonstick spray.  Place 4 inverted custard cups on a baking sheet, and drape a tortilla over each to give it a bowl shape.  (You may also use an inverted 12-cup muffin pan, placing the tortillas over alternate cups.)  Bake until the tortillas are crisped and lightly golden around the edges, 10 minutes.  Remove the tortillas and set them on a rack to cool.
  1. Combine the diced tomatoes, beans, chiles, pepper sauce, cumin, and 2 tablespoons of the cilantro in an ovenproof skillet.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the flavors are blended, 4 minutes.  Break the eggs one at a time, on top of the sauce, spacing them evenly apart.
  1. Immediately place the pan in the oven and bake until the eggs are almost set, 6-8 minutes.  Sprinkle the cheese on top of the eggs and bake until melted, 1 minute.  to serve, place the tortilla cups on serving plates and spoon the eggs and sauce into the tortilla cups.  Garnish with the remaining tablespoon of chopped cilantro and serve immediately.

Per Serving  (1 filled tortilla cup):  289 Cal, 8g Total fat, 3 g Sat Fat, 216 mg Chol, 840 Sod, 40g, Carb, 8 g fib, 17g Prot, 200 mg Calc.

PointsPlus value:  7

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Filed under Breakfast, Eggs, Lunch, Pork, Sides

Asian Quinoa Salad

quinoa salad


Though it’s been oppressively hot and humid in NYC recently, we’ve still found opportunities to grill.  Well, Denis does the grilling.  ūüôā  I just do the prep!

Along with the requisite hamburgers and hotdogs, we often make our Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken — an old favorite.

focus-on-the-chicken

French Potato Salad is also always a crowd pleaser.

potato-saladLast week I came up with a new recipe to add to the summer barbecue line up:  Asian Quinoa Salad.

I bought this bag of red quinoa awhile ago at Trader Joe’s and wanted to make something with it.

quinoaAny quinoa would work though.  This salad is simple:  Just cook the quinoa in liquid (I like using homemade chicken stock for the rich flavor).  Then add seasonings.  Voila! You have a refreshing summer salad side dish!  This recipe could easily be doubled.

Stay cool and enjoy!

Asian Quinoa Salad

3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed

1 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

Kosher salt to taste

1 scallion, minced

1/4 to 1/3 cooked edamame

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

1.  Place quinoa in stock in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer, covered for about 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is cooked (try tasting a bit).

2.  Whisk sesame oil and vinegar together.  Toss with quinoa and other ingredients.

Makes about 6 small side servings.

5 Comments

Filed under chicken, Dinner, Grains, Sides

Low Carb Mashed “Potatoes”

We’ve been traveling a lot recently (hence the sporadic posting here!) visiting family in Illinois and Long Island.  In Illinois we celebrated my nephew and sister-in-law’s graduations.  So proud of them!  My sister-in-law decided to go back to school to finish her college degree when my niece was two (she will be 21 this year).  She really stuck with it and kept working towards her goal,  while raising three children, and working full-time as a teacher’s aide for several years.  Sometimes she could only take one class a semester.  For several years, she had to take a break from it.  But in the end, she did it! And she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.A. in Early Childhood Education this summer.

So proud of this woman!!

So proud of this woman!!

***************************************************************************************************************************************

Before all of our travels and family events, I had meant to post a couple of simple veggie recipes that I make daily.  The cauliflower ones are low carb and make a good substitute for starchier vegetables like potatoes.  I tried once to sneak in some cauliflower into my husband’s plate but he wasn’t having it.  He barely tolerates me cooking it, complaining about the smell.  I usually light a scented candle and continue with my cooking.  

I made a hearty meal of meatloaf, green beans, and mashed potatoes, but for myself, I made mashed cauliflower.  You basically make it the same way as mashed potatoes.  Just added heated milk/cream, butter and seasonings.

cauliflower

I love the versatility of cauliflower.  I have also used it in place of rice sometimes, but processing it in a food processor and microwaving for about 4 minutes.  

You can process it until it has the consistency of rice.

You process it until it has the consistency of rice.

 

Another great way to prepare it is roasting at a high temperature — around 400F for 20 minutes, flipping and roasting for another 10 minutes.   I can seriously it a whole half of a head this way in one sitting.

roasted 2

For my guys, though, I made mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and parmesan cheese.  It also was quite yummy.

Silky smooth

Silky smooth

With gravy...

With gravy…

They like it with absolutely no lumps or grainy texture, so I whip the whole batch up with an immersion blender.  It makes it silky smooth!  When Jamie was a baby, I used to make all of his food like this (sans seasonings).  I’d just steam or boil the vegetable and then puree with a blender with some liquid, like milk, water, or broth.  It’s a really easy way to make a lot of baby food.  I used to freeze extra too in ice cube trays.  I’d transfer the cubes to freezer bags, and I’d always have a portion on hand to serve.  Apparently, though, there are some foods, I learned later that you should not make for babies.  Check it out here.

Which do you prefer?  Potatoes or cauliflower?  Do you prefer your potatoes smashed with texture or completely smooth?

Mashed Cauliflower

1/2 head to 1 whole cauliflower, washed and broken into florets

butter to taste

about 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup warm milk or cream to taste

salt and pepper to taste

1.  Steam or boil a half or whole head of cauliflower

2.  Process in a food processor.  While processor is on, add some butter, warmed milk or cream to the desired consistency.

3.  Season with salt and pepper.

Cauliflower “Rice”

1/2 to 1 whole head of cauliflower, washed and broken into florets

1.  Process raw cauliflower in food processor until it has the texture of small grain rice or couscous

2.  Transfer to a large bowl, cover with saran and microwave for about 4 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and serve.

Cauliflower couscous with butter, roasted sliced almonds, and dried cranberries

Cauliflower couscous:  I added butter, roasted sliced almonds, and dried cranberries to the cauliflower “rice”

Roasted Cauliflower

1/2 to 1 whole head of cauliflower washed, and cut into quarters, then eighths

olive oil

kosher salt

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2.  Slice pieces of cauliflower into 1/4 -inch slices.  Toss in large bowl with olive oil.

3.  Spread on one or two baking sheets in one layer.  Sprinkle with salt.

4.  Roast undisturbed for 20 minutes.  Flip and roast for 10 more minutes.

roasted cauliflower

Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Parmesan

1 head of garlic

Olive oil

2 lbs. Yukon potatoes, diced

1/2 cup to 1 cup warm milk or cream

kosher salt to taste

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2.  Cut off top of garlic.  Drizzle with oil, wrap head of garlic in foil.  Roast for about 30 minutes.  Unwrap and squeeze cloves out.  Set aside.

3.  Place potatoes in water to cover and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 10-15 minutes until potatoes are tender.  While potatoes are simmering, warm milk or cream (but do not let boil).

4.  Drain potatoes and transfer to a large bowl.  Season with warm milk, roasted garlic, parmesan cheese and salt, a bit at a time, tasting  along the way.  Stir with a spoon to incorporate.  When you are satisfied with the flavor, whip smooth with an immersion blender or mixer (if you want it perfectly smooth — some people prefer there’s mashed with more texture and feel the smooth way is too “gummy”,  so it’s up to you)!

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Mrs. Charles Darwin’s Recipe Book

book cover

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this “recipe book” of Emma Darwin awhile ago, before work got crazy. ¬†It’s not just your average cookbook, it’s a documentation of family life in the Darwin household in the middle of the 19th century. ¬†It is filled with reproductions of handwritten recipes and beautiful botanical illustrations, as well as interesting anecdotes and little details about daily life, such as what time the family ate lunch and dinner and how they were “lax” because they didn’t require the children’s nurse to wear the “right cap”. ¬†Another bit of interesting trivia is that both Emma and Charles Darwin were grandchildren of Josiah Wedgewood. ¬†Which is more intriguing — the fact that the father of evolutionary theory had a connection to the famous Wedgewood pottery or the fact that he and his wife were first cousins — I cannot say!

Wedgewood's Water Lily pattern which the Darwin's used

An example of ¬†the Wedgewood Waterlily pattern used by the Darwin’s

The recipes, which have been tested by the authors, Dusha Bateson and Weslie Janeway, give us modern day folk a taste of Victorian England via one of its most esteemed families. ¬† The historical notes are fascinating, and I found myself imagining what it must be like to live in Emma Darwin’s world. ¬†The Darwin household must have been teeming with activity, what with their ten children and a dozen servants living with them as well as numerous visits from family and friends. ¬†I imagine it was a full time job keeping track of the household accounts, the garden, and the livestock!

I hadn’t known that Charles Darwin had a rather delicate constitution and suffered from poor digestion. ¬†The recipe book is filled with rich Victorian age food that is comforting and soothing, ¬†such as puddings (apparently Emma’s original recipe book has more than sixty puddings!) and many other dishes with cream and butter. ¬†Preserving and pickling was quite common at the time, and Emma’s notebook has instructions for preserving eggs, curing beef, pickling, etc. ¬†There is a chapter in the recipe book on preserves that I am looking to make use of in the future (the Quince Jelly sounds wonderful).

custard up close

Since there is a whole chapter devoted to Charles Darwin’s beloved puddings, I knew I had to try one. ¬†I made the Burnt Cream, which is basically Creme Brulee. ¬†I don’t have a blow torch nor a salamander (an iron disc with a long handle that they used to heat the sugar), so I melted the sugar and poured on top. Unfortunately, I did not achieve a hardened layer. ¬†I also tried broiling it to crisp up the sugar with no luck. ¬†So, I served the puddings ¬†turned over on a plate. ¬†The caramelized sugar made a sweet sauce, making the dish more akin to Mexican Flan, which was delicious.

I also made Stewed Spinach because I knew Jamie would love it (and he did)! ¬†It is a simple side dish to throw together easily on a weeknight. ¬†It’s so comforting and good. ¬†And it always makes me happy to see my son eating green food.

spinach 1

The third recipe I tried out was the Gingerbread. ¬†The authors adapted this recipe and used half of Emma’s original amounts (2 1/2 lbs. of flour!) I went a step further and cut that in half and made a loaf of Gingerbread instead of a large square pan of it. ¬†It was also delicious — perfect with tea– and gobbled up by children and adults for a nice afternoon snack.

gingerbread vert

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we did. ¬†It also gave us an added sense of awareness knowing we were eating the same kind of food that was served over a hundred years ago and enjoyed by the Darwins in their cozy home in Down House on the North Downs of Kent, which added to the flavor. ūüôā

auburn custard

Recipes from “Mrs. Charles Darwin’s Recipe Book” ¬†by Dusha Bateson and Weslie Janeway, published by¬†Glitterati Incorporated, 2008

Burnt Cream

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream

2 eggs, separated

2 ounces (50g) superfine (caster) sugar, plus 1 teaspoon

1.  Mix the flour in a medium saucepan with a little milk or water before adding cream; this will prevent lumps. (Note:  I added 4 tablespoons of water and whisked it).  Bring to a boil and cook gently for 10 minutes to ensure flour is thoroughly cooked.

2.  Add the egg yolks and 1 teaspoon sugar.  (You can do without the sugar at this stage if you like, as the caramelized top will provide plenty in the finished dish.)

3.  Beat the egg whites only until they form a frothy liquid and add them to the pan.  (Note, I added 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.)

4.  Taste and, if you are satisfied that no hint of floury taste remains, pour the mixture into an ovenproof dish  and allow to cool.  Chill overnight.  (I used four small individual ramekins.)

Sprinkle an even layer of superfine sugar over custard.  If you have a blowtorch, heat the sugar until it browns.

Otherwise, as the authors suggest, “Far simpler is to put the superfine (caster) sugar in a small heavy saucepan and heat it gently until it melts. ¬†Do not stir. ¬†When it starts to color and bubble, tip the pain in a circular motion so the sugar is well mixed and dissolves completely. ¬†Watch it carefully — it can burn very quickly. ¬†What you want is a deep auburn color with that wonderful caramel smell. ¬†Then, holding the custard dish in one hand, pour the molten sugar onto the top, tipping the dish so it covers evenly. ¬†The sugar will bubble up, but do not worry, it will soon subside. With his method, a beautiful thin layer is achieved. ¬†Do this a couple of hours before you want to eat. ¬†As soon as the sugar has cooled, chill until needed.”

Stewed Spinach

3/4 pound (350 g) fresh spinach (I used one bunch)

2 tablespoons butter

Approximately 1/2 cup (250 ml) heavy cream

Salt and pepper

Pinch grated nutmeg (optional)

1.  Wash the spinach leaves well.  Give the handfuls of leaves a good shake and pack them into a saucepan. No need for any extra water.  Cover the pan and place over a medium heat.

2.  After 1-2 minutes, remove the lid and stir the leaves with a wooden spoon, turning the top leaves to the bottom, so they all cook.

3.  When the spinach is thoroughly wilted, let it bubble for another 1-2 minutes.  Taste  a small piece to make sure it is tender.

4.  Pour the contents of the pan into a colander and plunge the sieve into a sink of cold water.  This helps to keep the bright green color.  Do not submerge completely, but make sure the spinach is in the water.  Remove the colander from the water.  Using a wooden spoon or, even better, your fist, press the spinach down, removing as much water as possible.

5. When you have extracted as much liquid as possible, put the spinach back in the saucepan over moderate heat.  Add butter and with a wooden spoon mash or pound the spinach to break up the leaves.

6.  Add just enough cream to give a thick puree.  (You may not need to use the full amount.)  Season with salt and pepper and a little grated nutmeg, if using.  Serve at once.

gingerbread 2

Gingerbread

(I halved these amounts and baked in a loaf pan)

1 pound (450 g) flour  (about 3 1/3 cups)

1/2 ounce (15 g) ground ginger (4 teaspoons)

1 teaspoon baking soda

4 ounces (110 g) butter

4 ounces (110 g) brown sugar (about 2/3 cup)

12 fluid ounces (335 ml) dark molasses

1 teaspoon lemon extract

2 eggs, lightly beaten

In Preparation:  Preheat oven to 350 F

1.  Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.

2. Sift the flour into a large bowl.  Add the ground ginger and the baking soda.

3.  In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt the butter, brown sugar, and molasses together.  Add lemon extract.

4. Make a well in the flour and add the mixture from the saucepan.  Mix together thoroughly.

5.  Add the beaten eggs and mix well.

6.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes.  Test with a toothpick.  If it comes out clean, the cake is done.  If not, bake for a few minutes more.

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Fun Holiday Activites for Kids and Green Beans with Bacon and Shallots

J painting

It’s the holiday season, and we’ve been doing a lot of baking and crafts to give as gifts.  J is doing a “Grab Bag” (like Secret Santa but minus the Christmas slant) in his class that I’ve been helping him with all week.  I will post later when it’s not a secret anymore!  I really proud of him because he came up with the concept entirely on his own and designed everything. I just helped him execute it, which involved a lot of cutting. I’ll leave it at that for now!

Another fun holiday craft we do is make cake decorations with fondant or gum paste.  The gum paste is a lot harder in texture and you can make very thin, solid objects with it.  You can make both at home and color as you wish, or you can buy them.

Last year, we made decorations for a dual faith cake with gingerbread men and a Christmas tree and Chanukah dreidls.

luster dust

The fun thing about the gum paste decorations is that you can paint them with a clear alcohol (it will evaporate as it dries and you only use a scant amount) and decorate with luster dust.

Gum paste snowflakes and angels with brushes, alcohol and luster dust

Gum paste snowflakes and angels with brushes, alcohol and luster dust

Last year I made this beautiful snowflake cake that was featured on Chef Dennis’ blog, and we decorated it with these shimmery gum paste snowflakes using leftover paste from the aforementioned dual faith cake.

My bad photography isn't quite capturing the beautiful shiny quality of the luster dust -- sorry!

My bad photography isn’t quite capturing the beautiful shiny quality of the luster dust — sorry!

We’re very much looking forward to spending Christmas with Denis’ family in Long Island like we do every year.  We usually bring a dessert, a side dish, and snack-y things to munch on.  We all hang out in the kitchen, talking, nibbling, and having a good time.  This year, we’re hoping to introduce everyone on our New York side to our FAVORITE family game which we play every year during Thanksgiving at my brother’s house in Illinois.  My nephew introduced it to us I think during his first year of college several years back, and it’s become a family tradition to play every Thanksgiving.  It is AWESOME!  The more people the better too!  Later we saw a ripped off version that was a board game in Barnes and Noble, but trust me people, it is better when you make it yourself.

What it is called:  Teledraw

What you need:  A group of people, a stack of small plain paper (like post-its), writing utensils.  So if you have seven people, you need seven stacks of seven pieces of paper. If you have twelve people, you need twelve stacks of twelve pieces and paper, and so forth.

Ages:  6-100! (When J was younger, he used to play as a partner to Denis who would do the writing– for kids doing this on their own, they just need to be able to read, write, and draw)

Basically, the game is like Telephone, but instead of whispering a sentence to the person next to you, you write a sentence.  Then pass it to the person next to you — and you get a sentence passed to you from the person on your other side.  Then for the next round, you draw a picture of whatever sentence was passed to you.  Then you pass this on, then you get another picture, and you write whatever you like the picture is showing.  It is hilarious how much your original sentence changes after a few rounds!  When you get your original stack back to you, the game is over, and you take turns reading it to everyone.  When we played at Thanksgiving, we were crying, laughing so hard!

My brother and mom cracking up

My brother and mom cracking up

I scanned my stack (minus the last sheet — sorry Nick!  It was a great drawing too!  Somehow it got lost in transit…  ) which had twelve panels — but showing eleven here.  I typed out the written segments so it would be easier to read here:

1.  (My sentence)  “I ate some cake.”

2.  Which my mother drew:

For some reason, my mom decided to make it like a "rebus"!

For some reason, my mom decided to make it like a “rebus”!

3.   My brother described this as:  “I see a little 3 year old running to a birthday cake.”

4.  Which my sister-in-law drew:

4

5. Denis then described:  “A smiling unshaven man watches as a child rushes toward a rocking chair-shaped menorah perched on a fireplace mantle. ”

6. Which my nephew’s friend drew:

6

7.  Which my nephew described as:  “A little boy says the blessings over the menorah during Chanukah as Sirium Black watches.”

8.  Which Jamie drew:

8

9.  Which my niece described as:  “Harry Potter is putting a wand to his head.  In another room, Ron Weasley is begging him not to.”

10.  Which her boyfriend drew as:

1011.  Which my other nephew’s girlfriend described as:  “A man stabbed his head with a stick but ended up running happily away.”

12. Then my nephew drew an amazingly detailed picture of man stabbing himself in the head and then running away with a smile on his face (lost in transit!)

So that is how “I ate cake” evolved into something slightly dark.  I love that the Harry Potter theme was continued for awhile!

Writing and drawing!

Writing and drawing!

So if you have to time and energy– play this game with your family over the holidays!  It is guaranteed to make you howl (in a good way)!

******************************************************************

To end with a recipe….

Here is a quick recipe for a side dish we love that would be a perfect side at your holiday table if you have bacon eaters.

green beans

Holiday Green Beans with Bacon and Shallots

1 lb. green beans (I buy the frozen ones at Trader Joes, because I am lazy!)

2 slices of smoked, thick sliced bacon, chopped into pieces

1/2 large shallot, diced

salt and pepper to taste

chopped parsley for festive garnish (optional)

1.  Steam green beans in steamer until cooked but crispy.  For frozen, this is about 8 minutes. For fresh, I think 6 minutes would work, but test a bean and see.

2.  Meanwhile, saute bacon in skillet.  When it is cooked, remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate and let drain and crisp up.

3.  Add diced shallots to bacon fat in pan and saute until softened a bit, about 1 minute.  Then add steamed green beans and saute for about 2-3 minutes.  Add in reserved bacon and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish if desired with chopped parsley.  Serve.

Wishing everyone a Happy Holiday Season!

Melissa Iwai 2012

Melissa Iwai 2012

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Grandma Bebe’s Grand Marnier Cranberry Mold

Grandma Bebe’s Cranberry Mold

We’re in Illinois right now¬†having a great time eating tons of delicious home cooked meals (my nephew and I made a huge Japanese dinner last night and my brother is an amazing cook!), and generally laughing our heads off playing various games. ¬†Our favorite is Teledraw, which is a version of Telephone involving drawing pictures and writing descriptions of them instead of whispering stories. ¬†The end product ends up morphing into a completely different beast in the end.

This is a short and sweet post because I have to join the group again and more food and games are on the horizon!

Every year, my sister-in-law ¬†makes this cranberry mold that I’ve never seen anywhere else. ¬†The recipe has been in her family for years and was first made by her mother, Bebe. ¬†The Grand Marnier gives it a special kick, making it something more special than your average cranberry side dish.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year!

Grandma Bebe’s Grand Marnier Cranberry Mold

2 envelopes gelatin

2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
6 tablespoons Grand Marnier (or Triple Sec)
2 bags fresh cranberries, cleaned and picked over
Non-stick spray

1. Soak gelatin in 1/2 cup water.
2. Heat sugar in 1 1/2 cups water in pot on stove and bring to boil. Add cranberries and boil until they pop. Remmove from heat and add gelatin. Stir until it dissolves. Add extract and Grand Marnier. Stir to combine.
3. Spray cranberry mold (or bundt pan) with non-stick spray. Pour cranberry mixture into mold, cover, and chill over night.

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