Tuesday, December 6, 2011

taiwanese steamed pumpkin buns

Our Taiwanese friends recently taught us how to make steamed pumpkin buns--from fresh pumpkin that she had roasted and pureed.

The ingredients were straightforward: flour, yeast, sugar (though not much), pumpkin, and half a cup of warm water, then you mix, let it rise, knead, roll it into a log shape, and cut into your desired size.

The next stage involves more rising (above some hot water)...

Then steaming on the stove...

She made an omelet to go with it, then sliced it into good sizes for putting into a bun...

The buns were delicious and it was such a fun treat to spend time cooking and chatting with our friends (they're now in Taiwan for a month and we will miss them!).

Happy travels, friends!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

dianasaur's pumpkin oatmeal choco-chip cookies

Diana is another food blogger in this area, south of Seattle, and I love her food and photos. She posted a recipe for these cookies the other day and I just had to try them out. I had some wonderful helper-beans in the kitchen--they measured, stirred, and ate (a lot)!

I went by her recipe and also added a pinch of salt, some powdered ginger, and molasses. The chocolate I used was over 60% (and darned delicious). I did find the dough really stiff for some reason and couldn't add all of the oatmeal called for.

A hit all round, and friends declared so, too.

persimmon pudding

These were luscious! More from Green Smoothie Revolution...

All these had were three persimmons, one banana, and a bunch of spinach, to which I also added a couple of splashes of apple cider.

Blend, eat with a spoon, and enjoy.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

bloody mary (smoothie, that is)

Still on a veggie-full green smoothie kick--this one had tons of flavor (though I did like the creaminess the avocado added in yesterday's--next time I do this one, I'll throw in an avocado as well).

As with yesterday's, this Bloody Mary was adapted from Green Smoothie Revolution.

You'll need:
  • kale
  • 1/2 lemon, peeled and seeded
  • chia seeds
  • flaxseed meal
  • garlic
  • fresh seaweed
  • 1/2 cuke
  • fresh parsley
  • 3 stalks celery
  • Roma tomatoes
  • water
  • cayenne pepper
Do this:

Blend and drink!

Monday, October 31, 2011

immunity energizer smoothie

I've made a kajillion fruity-green smoothies in my day, but I've had a hankering to just jump in and do some zingy, spicy, and mostly veggie ones.

This one fits the bill, and though the kiddiewinks chose not to indulge, Stephen and I really enjoyed our glasses.

Adapted from a recipe in Green Smoothie Revolution.

You'll need:
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 avocado
  • juice of one lemon
  • chunk of fresh ginger (you can leave the peel on)
  • one garlic clove
  • 1/4 leek
  • several kale leaves
  • fresh seaweed (I found this at my local international market in the produce section)
  • water, to desired consistency
  • chia seeds (a good deal from the Mexican spice section of my int'l market)
  • ground flax seeds
Do this:



And then don't be surprised at a sudden energy burst. No lie!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

algerian chicken stew and couscous

Comfort? Yeah. Heat? Cayenne, heck yeah. (But not overwhelming. Just enough to tickle your nose but not so much that you have to get out the box of tissues.) Chickpeas, squash, tender fall-off-your-fork chicken, tomatoes, carrots, green beans, onions? You betcha. Yummy spices plus a hint of garlic? For sure. Dished up over your favorite couscous? Mmmm hmmm.

Easy? Yup. Doable in the slow cooker? Uh-huh.

Adapted by moi from Extending the Table: A World Community Cookbook.

You'll need:
  • 3 c. (750 ml) chicken broth, or 3 c. water plus 2 or 3 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 lb. (5oo g) chopped chicken (I like boneless organic thighs)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 c. fresh or frozen green beans, chopped (I've used okra instead and that's great, too)
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 t. (5 ml) ground cumin
  • 1 t. (5 ml) dried basil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 t. (2 ml) dried parsley, or some fresh
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 small or 1 medium zucchini, sliced (or as I did last time, one yellow pattypan squash)
  • 16-oz. (500 g) can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/4 t. (1 ml) ground red pepper (I use a bit less)
Do this:

You can cook it all together in a pot on the stove, or throw it in your slow cooker/crock pot and leave it on low all day.

For the couscous, just boil 1 1/4 c. water on the stove, stir in 1 c. couscous, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let it sit for a couple of minutes till fluffy.

Ladle the stew over your couscous in a bowl, grab a seat, light some candles, wield your spoon, and contentedly rub your tum after.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

pumpkin gingerbread bundt cake

Shown here with British custard (made from Bird's custard powder) and pieces of crystallized ginger--I couldn't resist.

Anyway, this is a simple gingerbread recipe that I embellished by substituting brown sugar for white and pureed pumpkin for half of the molasses. I had some great kiddiewink helpers for making it and eating it, and the cake turned out delightfully. I poured the batter into a bundt pan for added fun! Moist and rich...perfect for warm custard, or just dusted with powdered sugar.

Elder Kiddiewink took this photo...

And can you guess who shot this one?

The original gingerbread recipe came from my Grandma's Circle Cookbook. But as you know, I can't fight the urge to fiddle.

You'll need:
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 c. flour (used all-purpose)
  • 1/2 c. pureed pumpkin
  • 1/2 c. molasses
  • 1/4 t. ground cloves
  • 1 t. ginger
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1 c. hot water
Do this:

Grease a 10-inch bundt pan (4 inches deep) and leave it to ruminate by itself for a few minutes. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy as a bunny. Add the egg (crack it first, honey) and beat it all up some more. Mix those dry ingredients together, then add them, plus the pumpkin and molasses, to the creamed mixture. Mix well and add in the hot water till it's all smooth like a glassy pond. (A dark brown pond that you probably wouldn't want to swim in.) Pour the batter into your prepared and musing bundt pan, then give those beaters to your kids to lick and get all over their countenances.

Bake in a 350 F (180 C) cavernous 1950s oven for approximately 40 minutes and hang out in the kitchen looking at this black walnut tree while you're enjoying the warmth from said oven.

feeling dehydrated

Recently I borrowed a friend's dehydrator...and I love it except for the huge chunk of counter space it requires.

It's easy to use and turns out some delectable dried persimmon and apples (let's not talk about the bananas, OK?)...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

salsa picante

Don't kick me, or feel sorry for me, but no, I'd never made my own salsa before (as far as I can remember, anyway). And I've made it twice in the last week.

So, so stinkin' easy, and so much cheaper and fresher than the storebought stuff, even the "fresh" tubs of it in the refrigerated section of your local supermarket.

Loosely based on a Mexican recipe from Extending the Table: A World Community Cookbook (Amazon tells me I purchased my copy on October 17, 2002, so it's appropriate that I would be posting a recipe from it almost exactly nine years later).

You'll need:
  • fresh tomatoes - I use organic multicolored heirloom variety cherry tomatoes
  • splosh of Sriracha hot sauce
  • clove or three of garlic
  • handful of fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh lime juice
  • plop of olive oil
  • 1/4 onion
Do this:

Throw it all in a food processor and pulse to desired chunkiness. Doesn't take long.

This is so yummy on pulled pork quesadillas, Mexican burgers, or mixed into your favorite guacamole. Whatever your little pea-pickin' heart desires.

Friday, October 14, 2011

pumpkin kale banana peanut-butter muffins

Think I could add any more ingredients than this, or make a longer title? (I'm working on it...) Anyway, these were good - really good!

Heavily adapted from a regular banana quickbread recipe from Cooking in Circles, a cookbook put together by women from my grandma's church, and given to me for Christmas in 1997. I first started cooking from that baby in college...don't start adding or subtracting years, please.

The original banana bread recipe was from Edna (Mrs. Charles) Limpus. (Would she like my pumpkin, kale, and peanut-butter chip additions? Not sure about that one.)

This made 8 regular-sized muffins and 24 mini ones, for the mini kiddies (though they ate 4 or 5 at a time, so I could've just stuck with my regular muffin pans!).

You'll need:
  • 1/2 c. butter, margarine, or shortening, softened (butter gives the best flavor!)
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 c. sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. sifted whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 c. sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
  • 1/4 c. molasses
  • 3 bananas
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 c. pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 c. kale puree (I just grabbed a bunch of multicolor kale, the kind with purple stems, cut the stems off and threw in my compost bucket, cooked the leaves in a little bit of water, and then pureed in my food processor--it made about 1 c. of puree so I froze the other half for future projects.)
  • 5 oz. peanut-butter chips, or approximately half a package (Read the package and make sure there's no high fructose corn syrup, please--let's not even talk about how that stuff is metabolized.)
Do this:

Preheat your oven to 350 F/180 C. Cream the butter, sugar, molasses, and pumpkin in one bowl, then add the salt and eggs. In a separate bowl, mash the banana with the baking soda. (Yes, you will create a load of dirty dishes for these muffinistas.) In (yet) another bowl, mix the flours and baking powder, then add to the creamed mixture. Add in the kale, then the peanut-butter chips.

Spoon into a greased bread pan or muffin tins. The bread should take about an hour but the baby muffins only took approximately 10 minutes, with the regular muffins taking another 5 minutes or so.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

perfect hard-boiled eggs

It seems that I've been on a quest to make easily peel-able hard-boiled eggs for years.

I've tried everything from putting a matchstick in the water to plunging the little eggy fellows into ice water as soon as they've cooked.

Anyway, my system is now down pat: I use my handy-dandy egg timer (bought on sale in a Japanese department store for 100 yen), add vinegar and salt to the water, rinse the eggs as soon as they reach the hard mark, leave them in tap water about ten minutes or so, tap them on the wider end where there's an air bubble (got that idea from Debbie Macomber in her Cedar Cove Cookbook), and peel them under a trickle of water.

Et voilà!

It's a good thing everything's ironed out now...my kiddiewinks are on a total and complete egg kick.

Monday, October 3, 2011

free loot and sweet-potato bacon waffles

In the space of about one week I won this great canvas lunch bag (I use it every day!) and coupons for the other things from Nature Moms Blog...

And also this super-duper West Bend rotating waffle iron from Burp! I'd been wanting one and the beans are enjoying it as well. Our first batch was yummy mixed berry waffles made with vanilla almond milk (those disappeared rather quickly!)...

And then this afternoon I made up a new recipe that we all adored: ten-grain waffle mix, eggs, rice milk, sweet-potato puree, grated extra sharp cheddar cheese, olive oil, flaxseed meal, chives from the garden (see pic below), and BACON! I fried the bacon first and crumbled it up into the batter--oh, boy! (I buy luscious no-nitrate, no-nitrite, uncured applewood-smoked bacon from my butcher down the road, and it's out of this world.)

Homemade applesauce to go with...

Our taste buds were chivin'...

You know, I don't usually win stuff and so that week was a fun surprise--the hubster even asked me why I didn't play the lottery.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

spinach quinoa muffins

Danke for the recipe, Red Tricycle! My suggestion for these babies: Double the ingredients, bake them, and freeze half. After you get through all the work of cooking the quinoa, pureeing the spinach, mashing the banana, measuring everything out, and washing all those dishes, you'll thank me.

Changes I made: I added some molasses, used lemon and lime peel, and topped them with pecans instead of the nuts they recommended.

These kinda reminded me of one of our green smoothies, in muffin form.

The verdict from the kiddiewinks? Well, the goodies are all gone.

That about sums it up.

Friday, September 16, 2011

roasted squash and beet bruschetta

Inspired by Kahakai Kitchen's "eggplant and mint bruschette" (and she used a Jamie Oliver recipe), I knew I had the eggplant, mint (from my garden), and seasonings, and already had parsley on my list. The kiddiewink-beans and I were headed to the grocery store anyway, so I just picked up a baguette and feta cheese while there. (Feta wasn't in the recipe but I wanted this to be a main dish.)

So when I got home I realized my eggplant had seen better days, but my yellow crookneck squash and beets were ready and willing to sacrifice themselves up for greatness.

I don't have a grill but just roasted the veggies with olive oil, then dipped them in the marinade of olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, parsley, mint, and garlic. I used a one-to-one ratio of oil to vinegar and we really enjoyed the spikiness of it. After a final quick toasting in the oven, everything was ready to be ooohed and ahhhed over.

The parsley and mint were superb and the feta added a nice creamy saltiness. With some roasted green beans (from a friend's garden), this was a filling and terribly tasty supper.

Too bad I forgot about the bottle of Pinot grigio in the fridge--it would've been perfect with this.

zucchini fritters

'Tis the season for zucchini, and even though my own zucchini plants are not happy this year, I've had a hankering for them and so my grocery store gets my zucchini business. Smitten Kitchen's zucchini fritters (with baking powder!) are great, as is her lemony garlicky sour cream (I used yogurt) topping.

And yes, I pulled the cast iron pans out of our rental basement (we're allowed to use any of the stuff that was here, which is nice) and scrubbed them with hot water and salt (don't use soap!) for this recipe, and yes, the cast iron made a lovely crust on these fritters. I'm keeping them in my kitchen now...all three sizes. I'm dreaming of cornbread in cast iron...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

peach-blueberry-ginger pie

I'd been hankering to make a two-crust pie for ages and after a very busy (but fun) Friday morning last week, decided to hit up Costco for some organic Washington peaches and (Canadian) blueberries. Friday afternoon was devoted to the pie (check out my able helpers below).

It was my first time ever to do a double crust and I know next time I'll be faster and more confident as well. Anyway, it was a super-fun experience.

If you've never worked much with pastry, check out Pam's pie tutorial over on The Pioneer Woman's stomping grounds. I loved her very practical method of using two sheets of parchment paper and rolling the crust between them.

I used Pam's recipe and went with all butter and only 1 teaspoon of sugar in the crust.

(Her suggestion to mix an egg with some water and brush on top did make a nice shiny glaze.)

For the filling, I just went with my intuition and mixed 3-4 peaches (can't be sure how much went into the pie because of those helpers I had!), a couple of cups of blueberries, 1/3 c. brown sugar, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, and powdered cinnamon and ginger. (I heart ginger and it gave it such a nice perky extra kick.)

After I added the filling, I also went with Pam's idea to squeeze half a lemon over the fruit and then dot with butter. Lovely.

Pam's tutorial does not need to be repeated here, but for posterity I will share my three biggest mistakes:

1. I let the butter warm up too much (again, I had small helpers who are very tactile). One website I used as a resource says that if you are using a food processor, you can even freeze the butter. (I also ran with their idea of mixing equal parts flour and sugar to sprinkle on the bottom crust before adding filling so it creates a non-soggy barrier, and I think that did work well.)

2. The crust got rolled too thin and the top crust tore in one spot as I placed it over the filling. As a result a bit of juices cooked through. No biggy but it wasn't exactly perfecto.

3. Pam suggested turning down the heat after the first part of baking, which I completely forgot to do. So even though I covered the pie with foil after that first segment of baking, the outside edge of the top crust browned too much for my liking.

And in spite of those foibles, the pie was deeeeeee-licious! Can't wait to try my next one. We'll be apple picking in October so I wonder what the next filling will be...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

sweet figgy green smoothie

So simple and so yummy. Just blend oh-so-sweet California figs that were a gift from your neighbor's fruitful tree, almond milk, orange juice, bananas, and a head of organic romaine lettuce.

(See how I used the same figs last year in a baked figgy ricotta honey almond treat.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

mac and "cheese"

Veg4Health's "cheese" sauce has us all over the moon--one of our kiddiewinks ate two helpings right off the bat and the rest of us ate sizable amounts as well and completely fell in love with this stuff. There's not an iota of dairy in it but what it does have is mega flavor, folks: cashews, garlic, potato, carrot, red sweet pepper, onion, lemon juice, dijon mustard. Nummers.

She said it took her 9 years to perfect this recipe and the yum factor makes it all worth the while and wait. I paired it with whole-grain rotini and some parsley--this is the new black. (What? Anyway, whatever it is, it's going to be rotating frequently on our menu. You betcha.)

You'll need:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • ½ red, orange or yellow sweet pepper, chopped (I used red)
  • 1 T fresh garlic or 1 tspn garlic powder (fresh was superb)
  • ½ C raw cashews
  • 1 ½ t lemon or lime juice (used lemon)
  • ½ - 1 t Dijon mustard (didn't have so opted for spicy brown Gulden's)
  • 2 T Earth Balance (butter or margarine)
  • 1 t salt
Do this:

Make sure you double the ingredients, to start with. You want as much of this as possible.

Then cook the potato, carrot, onion, and sweet pepper in water till tender. Place the remaining ingredients plus 1/2 C of the veggie cooking water into your blender and blitz till smooth. Add the cooked veggies (with no broth) and blend again. (Save that leftover veggie cooking water to use for soup later--I froze mine in an ice cube tray.)

I have absolutely no idea how this is possible, but this was the cheesiest non-dairy food I've ever had. The color was red-cheddar-ish and the consistency was oh, so creamy.

Try it NOW. Or you'll be orange with envy.

Midnight snack?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

carrot-almond pâté

I guess you could call this a poor man's pâté (who wants to splurge on geese livers?), but it's definitely not low on flavors--earthy from roasted almonds, bright with cilantro and fresh lemon juice, and the steamed carrots add a lovely sweet dimension. Not to mention all the spices: cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, and coriander. Yum on a bun. (Or bakery bread, as the case may be.)

And we added dates to go with.

The recipe comes from a free Delicious Living magazine I got at my local grocery store and I only tweaked it slightly.

You'll need:

  • 1/3 cup whole almonds (I used tamari-flavored ones so went easy on the salt)
  • 2 large carrots (8 oz. or 250 g), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1/4 t. salt (I used half of this)
  • 1 t. each ground cumin and ground coriander
  • 1/8 t. each ground turmeric and ground cinnamon
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 c. packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 t. fresh lemon juice
  • I also added coarse black pepper
This is easy but takes some prep stages--just do each step as you have time. You must cool the toasted almonds and steamed carrots, so either do this in advance or if you are pressed for time as I was, throw them in the freezer a few minutes to chill down to room temp.

Do this:

Preheat your oven to 350 F/180 C and toast the almonds on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes or so, until crunchy. Cool them down and in the meantime, steam your carrots until tender and then cool them as well.

Throw all the ingredients into your trusty food processor and mix until blended (it will still have some texture to it).

The magazine suggested serving the pâté on a bun with cheese, roasted red peppers, and cucumber, which would've been delish, but I had The Essential Baking Company sliced bread (our fave) and toasted it, spread with Earth Balance (like butter), and then topped with the pate, sliced tomatoes, sliced cukes, and spinach.

The only thing I'd do differently next time is to at least double or triple the amounts. I want MORE.

Pâté yourself on the back for this one, folks--it's that good.

(Pssssst. Even the kiddiewinks tried it and liked it!)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Yakisoba is not an okazu, not something you plop on rice, but with fried pork, veggies, and noodles, there's not a lot to complain about, eh!

And just like the gyudon, you add a wee bit of beni shoga (pink pickled ginger strips) and the taste just noodles its way into Japanese foodie nirvana. Reminds me so much of summer festivals (natsu matsuri) and the yakisoba food stalls. Taste of summer - yum.

Now all we need are the big ol' amazing Japanese fireworks!

Just grab a pack of yakisoba noodles from Costco (or your favorite Asian market), and in veggie oil, pan fry some thinly sliced pork (or chicken), onions, carrots, cabbage, and whatever other veggies you like (I also threw in some red pepper, green onions, garlic, and ginger). The Japanese packets of yakisoba that you buy in the grocery stores there come with a seasoning pack, but the kind I buy here in Seattle at Costco just have the noodles, so I also pour in some okonomiyaki sauce, which I tend to keep on hand. Add the noodles last and stir with your long cooking chopsticks till well combined. It's pretty yummy to let it all sit over high heat for a minute or two (after combining) so it gets a kind of deeply flavored darker crust.

Fireworks in a bowl!