Liquid Dinner


-1 largeliquid dinner  beet
-2 medium carrots
-finger size section of fresh ginger
-1 orange
-handful bunch of spinach

Put these fabulous produce items in your juicer and voila! you have a healthy snack, light lunch, or light dinner….

So, as I’ve said before, I don’t like waste. ….This pulp is going to become some sort of breakfast muffin. Dare me. pulp

Fresh Juice

The other day I pulled out my very basic Oster juicer……and I don’t regret it.  The fabulous concoction that heightened my day, consisted of: refreshing juice



-fresh ginger


-sweet potato

Check out the lovely foam.  juicie juice

So after juicing, remains a bowl of pulp that perhaps you wonder what to do with.  pulpI personally don’t believe in waste, consequently, I have always tried to maintain that my pulp goes into my baking, such as in a quick bread or breakfast muffins. Unfortunately I don’t have images to prove it from the past, and lately I’ve been too busy to follow my own standards. Sorry.

Spring Asparagus and Broccolini Farro & Kale Pesto

This will be a dish I try in the very near future.


Farro is one of those whole grains that speaks volumes about comfort to me. It’s nutty and toothsome and just the thing to serve as a great base for any season’s fresh veggies. This dish takes all the best spring has to offer and ties it into perineal favorites like broccolini and lemon.

Spring Asparagus and Broccolini Farro with Kale Pesto

1/2 c. farro
1 c. vegetable broth
1 bunch broccolini
1 bunch asparagus
3/4 bulb fennel
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 c. water
1 Tbsp. garlic infused olive oil
1/2 c. kale pesto
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Big pinch red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper to taste

Bring the farro and stock up to a boil in a medium pot. Cover, and simmer 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and let sit with the lid on an additional 5 minutes.

On to the veg. Chop…

View original post 89 more words

Noodles and Fried Tofu

Some meals, I simply have to “make due” because I don’t always have all the ingredients to fulfill a recipe I find in a cookbook or on the world wide…

This is one of those meals, yet, I am posting it here because it IS a very complete meal, just not an authentic ramen dish.

Introducing the tofu…..

My 12 year old son has always loved tofu. When he was very young, around 3 or 4 years old, I taught him to cut the tofu because not only has it been important to me that my children know how to cook, but also cutting tofu is such a big task that requires little effort.

frying the tofu

I cut my tofu in 1/2 inch slices, no thinner and never much thicker.  Next I brush a thin coat of soy sauce on each side of the sliced tofu,  then fry them in a thin layer of vegetable oil (preferably NOT canola) in a cast iron skillet.

fried tofu

fried tofu

Now as I said in so many words previously, when I don’t always have all the ingredients to fulfill a recipe, I start digging through my refrigerator and cabinets and pull out what will suffice.

Welcoming the noodles…….


Noodles galore

I don’t usually use bouillon and so I rely on sautéed veggie juices for flavor in my broths.  This is what I did in this instance.

First, I sautéed bite size pieces of carrots and yellow onions until the onions were soft, then added some garlic (to taste) and portabella mushrooms. Next, I added water- probably about 4 cups to start, which I brought to a boil. (The quantity of water depends on first, how much noodles you use and then how brothy you want your final noodles to be.)  Finally, I brought the water to a boil, added some egg noodles I got from the Asian Market, let them get somewhat soft (but not done), then added one of my favorite spice blends Nanami Togarashi- assorted chili pepper (which can be found at Asian Markets) as well as fresh bok choy.  I add the bok choy last so as not to over cook it, as you do with most greens- kale is an exception. Overcooking bok choy, and any vegetable for that matter, depletes its nutrients and makes it nasty soggy.  And another fact I learned is that Parents overcooking vegetables is why most kids despise vegetables. Hmmmm.

So I don’t usually mix the tofu into the noodles, although that would be mighty tasty.  My son and I, who were eating alone this particular evening, prefer our tofu on the side. Thank you very much.

I am really sorry, I don’t have a specific itemized recipe here.  My experience in the kitchen has allowed me to gage measurements and know what spices to add per the flavors I want….so if you have any questions, comments, please, I welcome them.  With that, I will make my outro before a half eaten bowl of noodles.

half eaten noodles

half eaten bowl of noodles

Pecan (faux) Meatballs

This is a recipe I get asked for all the time, that’s why I’m sharing it “tried and true”. In fact, omnivores don’t believe me when I tell them these faux meatballs are  vegetarian all the way, because they taste like real meat.  Hmmmmm, might have something to do with the fact that these are made almost exactly like real meatballs, but with pecan meal instead of hamburger meat.  Knowing that, think of the many ways meat dishes can be made veggie without using that nasty texturized vegetable protein (TVP), yet another substance I don’t believe in.

As I request in all the recipes I post- if you make these, let me know what you think- and also relay if you tweaked the recipe in any way to accommodate your pallet.

Until next time.



1 cup pecan meal (whole pecans run through food processor)
1 ¼ cups dry bread crumbs (preferably whole grain- I used gluten free in this batch)
1 ½ cups grated longhorn cheddar cheese (or colby jack…)
½ cup finely chopped onion
4 eggs (sometimes only 3 eggs)
½ tsp. each: salt, basil, garlic powder (I use fresh garlic most of the time)
¼ tsp. thyme

pecan balls uncooked


Pre-heat oven at 350 degrees.
-Mix all ingredients together.
–Form into approximately 1 Tablespoon size balls (or slightly larger).
—Fry/ sauté slowly in a shallow layer of high heat (vegetable) oil until brown.

added to fry fryin' up in the pan
—-Put meatballs in casserole dish, cover with your own desired amount of BBQ sauce,

ready to bake BBQ'ed up
—–and heat in oven approximately 30 minutes.


Gluten Free Mixes: Tried…and the Truth

I prefer to make all my baking foods from scratch, but lately I’ve been tempted to try some of those gluten free mixes that I’ve seen in the stores. So, today I am going to share with you my outcome and opinions of two particular gluten-free mixes I tried recently. The first being Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free Homemade Wonderful Bread Mix.

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Bread Mix

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Bread Mix

I don’t have a bread machine (and I don’t believe in them), so I followed the basic bread making directions on the package.  It was fairly   simple to make and I actually had a better outcome with this bread mix than when I have made it from scratch. My problem in the past has been getting the dough to rise. Really, it’s probably because my kitchen is too cold in the winter when I’ve tried to make it, or my water added to the yeast is too hot or not warm enough…. Oye vey, the trials and tribulations of baking yeast breads.

Overall, I give this bread mix two thumbs up, as it was easy to make and it cooked up soft, rather than dry like alot of gluten-free breads I’ve tried. Udi’s has been rated the best gluten-free bread on the market….and this one tops it by far.

gluten-free bread

The only thing I do not like about any of the gluten-free breads I’ve tried so far is the crust. I ended up with the same crust outcome as what I get from an Udi’s loaf.  I am not a regular crust hater, I do not usually cut my crust off bread-  but this one I do because it is too thick and dominant. Yeah, I think dominant is the right word. an internal view of gluten-free bread loaf

Anyway, this mix can be purchased on (along with other gluten-free products and flours) for a reasonable price. Shipping is a flat rate of $4.99. So be sure to shop around for beauty products, lotions, etc. and make the shopping worth your while.

The other gluten-free mix I tried was Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Brownie Mix for $3.99.  I thought this would be a wonderful Valentine’s Day goodie for my family, and boy I was wrong.

TJ's Gluten Free Brownie Mix

TJ’s Gluten Free Brownie Mix

It may have something to do with the fact that while it was baking I couldn’t tell if it  was done, so I may have over-baked it. But I promise- I did bake it for the recommended 30 minutes, and while it was baking the oil slightly rose to the surface giving it this consistently shiny appearance.

As you will notice in my final result pic, I added chocolate chips to the mix, per recipe recommendation.  Overall, I give this mix one thumb up, and one thumb down. They actually tasted really good, so I cannot give it two thumbs down…..and if you like crispy brownies then you will like these. My son loves them, but although I like a crispy outer edge on my brownie, I also like a gooey chewy center- and these are NOT that.

gluten-free brownies

final result of gluten-free brownies

So after these experiences, I will most likely continue to tweak basic recipes to partially gluten-free (half and half with the flours), and fully gluten-free rather than buy mixes…until the next time I am tempted of course. But no matter what, I will give you my truthful opinion, and always share with you my successes and failures; and if there’s a recipe for it, it will be here.

Cherry-Almond Granola Bars

  • From Bon Appetit 2012

    I made these bars around the Winter Solstice holiday of 2012 and they were fabulous!!!!! The first time I made them I didn’t have sunflower seeds, yet I don’t think it affected my final product negatively. Also because the flavor of the flaxseeds was more prominent than I wanted, this second time around I only used 1 tablespoon of flax seeds rather than 2.  I also toasted the coconut a little, used dried cranberries instead of dried cherries, and because I love the crunch of nuts, I added 1/4 cup of pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds).  For some added flavors I added 1/4 teaspoon vanilla to the liquid ingredients, along with 1 teaspoon of crystalized ginger.  These can also be made vegan by replacing honey with agave nectar. To eliminate any confusion regarding my recipe tweaks, I will repeat these changes, highlighting them in bold, as I go into the recipe below……

    homemade granola bars

    Cherry-Almond Granola Bars: 

    2 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats

    3/4 cup whole raw almonds

    1/4 cup coconut oil plus more

    3/4 cup (4 ounces) coarsely chopped dried tart cherries (second time around I used dried cranberries instead)

    3/4 cup (3 ounces) unsweetened finely shredded coconut

    1/2 cup (3 ounces) roasted unsalted shelled sunflower seeds

    2 tablespoons flaxseeds, toasted (second time around I used 1 tablespoon)

    1/4 cup pepitas  (my addition)

    1/2 cup honey (vegan alterations, use agave nectar- maybe even experiment with date or rice syrup)

    1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar

    1/4 teaspoon vanilla (my addition)

    1 teaspoon crystalized ginger (my addition)

    1 teaspoon kosher salt

    Coconut oil, unsweetened finely shredded coconut, crystalized ginger, pepitas and flaxseeds can be found at natural foods stores and some supermarkets.

    crystalized ginger coconut oilpepitas

    Preheat oven to 400°. Mix oats and almonds on a large heavy rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring once, until just golden, about 10 minutes. If you want to toast the coconut as I did the second time around, bake almonds and oats for 8 minutes, then add coconut and toast for the remainder 2 minutes or so.) Transfer to a wire rack; let cool on sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

    almonds & oats
    Meanwhile, brush a 13 x 9 x 2-inch metal or glass baking dish with coconut oil. Line with parchment paper, allowing it to extend over long sides. Brush paper with coconut oil.

    lined pan brushed with oil
    Brush a large bowl generously with oil. Place oat mixture, cherries, coconut, sunflower seeds, and flaxseeds in bowl.

    dry ingredients mixed
    Bring 1/4 cup oil, honey, sugar, and salt to a boil in a medium heavy deep saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil for 1 minute.


    If adding the crystalized ginger, pulverize in a food processor- I use my mini food processor.

    ginger pulverized ginger

    Then add the ginger and vanilla to the honey/ brown sugar concoction.  Immediately pour over oat mixture in bowl. Using a heatproof spatula, stir until evenly coated. Transfer granola to prepared pan. Lightly press evenly into pan; smooth top. I coated my palms with coconut oil before pressing the mixture into the pan- prevents sticking. 

    pressed into pan

    Bake for 10 minutes. Turn pan; continue baking until golden brown with slightly darker edges, about 15 minutes longer.Transfer pan to a wire rack and let granola cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift granola from pan. Cut into 24 bars. DO AHEAD Bars can be made 4 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

    lifted out of pan with parchment paper homemade granola bars, pre cut cut in squares

    Per my usual request, if you make these: let me know what you think, whether or not you added your own tweaks, what they were if you did, and your outcome…….Enjoy!

Milking the Almond Cow

Although I am not vegan, I drink almond milk. I have never liked the taste of cow’s milk and in fact, have always found it very strange that adults and children, weened from their Mother’s breast (or bottle), continue to drink another mammal’s milk. Why? Because the Doctor’s make us think it’s the only route for calcium.  Bull-oney. Many vegetables have calcium. Don’t get me wrong though, I do use Shatto (locally farmed) whole milk in some of my baking, and I consume other dairy products as well.

Anyway, because I try as much as I can to avoid preservatives and other additives store bought brands may have, I decided to make my own almond milk. In the long run, it’s also a money saver- that is, once you endure the cost of buying the raw almonds themselves. But a little goes a long way.

I found my almond milk recipe amidst the pages of one of my favorite cookbooks “the gluten-free & dairy-free kitchen” on page 173.  Because many people have requested this recipe from me, I decided to share it here. Tried & True.

dairy milk alternative

the goods

Total prep time for this recipes between 6 and 12 hours, depending on how long the almonds are soaked. Then the total preparation time is 15 minutes.

Equipment needed:

* Soaking bowl

* Blender

* Cheesecloth

* Spoon

* Measuring cup

* Bowl for catching milk

* Container for milk


soaking bowl

* 1 cup raw almonds, soaked for 10-12 hours

* 4 cups water

* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

* 1 tablespoon date syrup (page 189), brown rice syrup, or maple syrup (optional)


1. Using a colander, drain the soaked almonds and rinse under cold water. (I sometimes mix the reserve water with my required 4 cups of water.)

2. In a blender, combine almonds, water (I recently cut my water down to 3 1/2 cups), and optional ingredients (if so desired).  Cover the blender and whirl the mixture at top speed until creamy, about 1 minute.      IMG_1642

3. Line a fine- mesh sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth, then place sieve over/ into a larger bowl.

strainer cheesecloth in strainer

4. Pour the almond mixture into the strainer (I only pour and work with half of the mixture at a time) and allow it to fully drain.

5. According to the recipe, it  says about 5 minutes, but I gage it, then gather up the corners of the cheesecloth and squeeze the mixture to extract  any remaining liquid.

milking almond cow

milking the almond cow

milking the almond cow

*Reserve the pulp for another use, such zucchini or banana bread, or the “flop” snicker doodles I made that have been degraded to snicker nibbles. (I will share my mistakes with images in a future post.)almond pulp

6. Transfer the milk to a glass container ( I use a canning jar) with a tight fitting lid, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Note: the almond milk will fast pungenty after about 3 days.


Useful tips, slightly edited, that I found online at Everyday Minerals:

* First, remember this will not taste like store bought almond milk since there are not any additives. (The Everyday Minerals author highly recommends to add a sweetener to taste. I however, never use sweetener to keep my options open for what I use the milk for.)

* To make creamier almond milk, add 1 teaspoon of walnut or almond oil. (I have not tried this yet.)

* Try experimenting with different flavors when blending the vanilla, water, and almonds. Some options might include: 1 banana and nutmeg, ½ cup pureed strawberries, ¼ cup of carob powder or melted chocolate. (Interesting, but this becomes more a smoothy with some of the ingredients.)

* You can make thicker almond milk by adding less water. Keep in mind that this will produce less milk and it will be harder to strain.

* If you do not have a cheesecloth, a strainer can be used instead. (I have done this, however your final product will be grittier.)

Some final words:

If you make this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback, along with any twists or turns you took to alter, refine, and personalize.

Oh and voila!, here is the smoothie I made  this morning with my home made almond milk, mixed frozen berries, a banana, 1 TBS flax meal, and Brown Cow brand Maple Yogurt.

mixed berry smoothie

Lunch in a Museum

Today, Friday, January 25, 2013 marks a fabulous lunch date with my longtime friend Jason at Cafe Sebastienne, a restaurant which nestles comfortably inside the Kemper Museum. I hadn’t seen Jason for a months, so we needed a space that offered not only good food, and a relaxing ambience- somewhere we could take our time.

a view of the cafe courtyard

Before I go on, I do have to admit to you that I work part-time at Cafe Sebastienne as a host, but this will never impair my critique of the restaruant or the food.  I am especially NOT biased in one way or another regarding the food, because anywhere I go, I like some things and I dislike other things- and either way, I will definitely say something about it, all while recognizing that everyone has a different palette than mine.

For lunch today though I had the fish of the day, grilled salmon, coated with a tangerine agrumato (citrus oil).  The salmon was served medium rare over a tomato barley stew, and sided with fresh green beans. When it arrived, the presentation was a lot better than the photo I captured. In fact, I had already started to dig it, before I realized that I needed to take a picture. Oye. The stew was a little creamier than I expected, and not quite as flavorful with savory spices as I had hoped, but the salmon was perfectly medium rare and green beans were not overcooked. I had planned to take half of my meal home, but I indulged and ate the whole thing. From my experience while eating many times at and working at  Cafe Sebastienne, one can never go wrong by ordering the fish, as it is always the fresh and of the best quality.

grilled salmon, served over tomato barley stew, sided with fresh green beans

After I scarfed down my food, paired with a glass of rose’ wine, I ordered dessert: a tasty apple rum raisin crisp with ginger ice cream. Jason has a slice of budino, a rich flourless chocolate cake. Sorry to say I did not get pictures, so you’ll just have to go in and taste test the desserts yourself.

Overall, my experience was good, with Charles as my server, my food was fabulous, but most importantly it was the great company I had at lunch that topped it all off to a marvelous day!

paintings inside the cafe