Archive for January, 2012

Peanut Butter Cookies!

I’ve been making a ridiculous amount of peanut butter cookies.  Which is funny, because until now, I’ve never made them.  They haven’t been my “favorite” before (like so many other cookies when I was working at Creekside Bakery.  But they have been really hitting the spot.


1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 egg

1 1/4 cup flour (“ve been using whole wheat and they are quite tasty)

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking owder

1/4 teaspoon salt

refrigerate at least 3 hours wrapped in plastic

Bake at 370 degrees for 9 to 10 minutes (My oven needed about 14 minutes, but thats just my oven)

Makes about two dozen cookies.




Easy Roasted Butternut Squash

This recipe comes from Sam Chesley.  It might have been from Thanksgiving, or just some tasty dinner.  Either way, it is now a regular guest at my house.

Get a nicely shaped butternut squash.  The fewer contours the better, since you are going to have to peel it.

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I cut it into discs before trying to hack off the skin with a big ol’ knife.  Scoop out the seeds.  Roast and eat them if you are Noel (probably, I’m just guessing, but she’s into that sort of thing).

Cube your peeled squash into about 1 inch chunks.

Toss in a bowl with minced garlic (as much as you like.  I like a lot of garlic), oregano, salt, freshly ground pepper if you are as cool as I am ;), and olive oil.  Or just mix it up in the casserole dish to save on washing.

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Put in a casserole dish and bake at 350 for about an hour.  Stir it all up about halfway through.  The pieces will be nice and soft and your house will smell great (like garlic).

Butternut Squash is pretty darn good for you.  Its full of anti-oxidants, Vitamin A, B-Complex Vitamins, and fiber, with no fat.  Its cheap at the grocery store or farmer’s market and if you really don’t want to cut it up, it is available in the freezer section of most stores already cubed for you.   You have no excuses to not eat this tasty, tasty squash.

How do you like your squash?  Do you have a favorite type of squash?  I’ll admit, I’ve never cooked spaghetti squash or acorn squash.  The former you can do a weird fork thing to split it into “noodles” and acorn squash is good cut in half and roasted with cinnamon and maybe raisins… its been awhile since I’ve had it and my memory is a bit vague on that one.  Any suggestions for me to try it?

Yummy Granola

I love granola in all of it’s sweet crunchy goodness, especially the clusters. Granola is really versatile, too. You can add in all sorts of tasty goodies to it to make it even better, such as fruit, seeds, nuts and chocolate chips. It’s good all year round. You can eat it as a hot or cold cereal, add it to trail mix, layer it in a yogurt parfait, top creamy frozen treat with it, use it as a sweet crumb topping, etc.

Try not to get too carried away though. Granola may be full of nutrients, but the calories can add up quick if you don’t watch out. I try measure out my portions of nuts, seeds and fruit into my granola. That way I’m not eating too much starch, sugar, protein and what-not. You can also do half portions of a certain fruits, seeds and nuts to add more variety.

Recently my morning granola mixture’s looked like this:
3 T Not Yer Momma’s Cinnamon Granola Base
1 T Pumpkin Seeds, soaked, dehydrated
1 T Pecans, soaked, dehydrated, ground
2 tsp Unsulphured Unsweetened Dried Coconut, desiccated
1 tsp Psyllium Husks*
2 tsp Cranberries, dehydrated
2 tsp Raisins, sun-dried
1/2 C So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk, warmed
1/8 tsp Ginger, ground
1/8 tsp Cloves, ground

*I only take psyllium on occasion as a supplement, and my dosage is prescribed by a nutritionist. Please be careful with how much you take. If you do take psyllium, drink at least 8 ounces of water with it.

There are so many different types of merchant booths at the local farmers markets that are just filled with amazing things! Many of them compete every autumn in the Sonoma County Harvest Fair within various food categories. Not Yer Momma’s Granola has won many awards (for all of their varieties!) several years in a row now. Their granola is amazingly delicious. You can sample everything!, and the ladies at the booth are always so nice. They are at the Santa Rosa farmers market weekly, and every time the nice ladies refill your granola bag, you get a free extra scoop. Not only do they have mixed granola cereals (Apple Cinnamon, Cardamom Apricot, Blueberry Ginger, Orange & Sour Cherry and Original with nuts), but you can also create your own combinations (so much fun!) at their booth out of their spiced granola oat bases (cinnamon, cardamom, original and organic original) and various add-ins, or you can keep it simple and just get one of their bases. I’m a big fan of their cardamom and cinnamon oats. Now if only they’d sell their ginger base, I’d buy that one, too. I know I’m not the only person to say so. I suppose I can always make my own ginger granola adapted from Rachel Schulman’s recipe over at Eat Drink Better.

Be careful with oats. Not all granola cereals are created equally. Oats, themselves are gluten free, but if your oatmeal granola does not specifically say that it’s gluten-free, then it’s safer to assume that it’s not. Often times oats are grown in fields next to barley, rye or wheat; dust or bits from the other grains can get into the oats during harvesting or processing. You might be able to get rid of the contamination by thoroughly rinsing and sprouting whole oats or soaked raw steel cut oats, but I have not tried this. If you are really worried about contaminated oats, you can just forgo the oats all together. Another way to avoid gluten in your granola is to make your own, substituting oats with buckwheat, which is a fruit seed and not a grain. (Here’s how to sprout buckwheat.) Gena’s raw buckwheat granola looks particularly good over at Choosing Raw; I’m going to have to try it out. If you’re just allergic to wheat and not gluten, you can add sprouted barley to your hot or cold cereal. (Here’s some more barley info.) Of course, you can always mix it up for a wider variety of nutrients, too.

Three Gravies

For Thanksgiving, I wanted to make a different type of gravy, something vegetarian, as I am not a fan of giblets. While looking up chestnut gravy recipes, I found a few mushroom ones, too.  Weekly the mushroom grower/specialist from Bohemian Well-Being mushroom farm of Occidental (out past Sebastopol) sells a wonderful selection of mushrooms at the Santa Rosa Saturday farmers market. (You can also check out the other local farmers markets for other mushroom merchants).

I often buy his enokitake mushrooms,Mushroom Grower which are my favorite (and the only variety I will actually prepare for myself). In an act of bravery, I decided to branch out and buy some of his other mushrooms to make another gravy.  I think it helped that I had recipes to follow, since I am rather mushroom ignorant and do not know how to use the other kinds, let alone how they taste. I’m afraid of buying different kinds, not liking or ruining them and then being stuck with lots of leftovers; I loathe wasting food.

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Chestnut Gravy  Adapted from a recipe on eHow.
2 T Earth Balance Canola & Olive Oil Spread or Olive Oil
2 Carrots, trimmed, peeled, diced
2 Stalks Celery, trimmed, chopped
1 Medium Sweet Yellow Onion, peeled, chopped
1 1/2 C Chestnuts, prepared, shelled, peeled
1 C Cabernet Sauvignon Wine
6 C Low Sodium Vegetable Broth

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In a 3-quart sauce pan over medium-high heat, saute oil, carrots, celery and onion for 15 minutes or until onions are clear. Mix in 1 1/4 cup of chestnuts, and cook the vegetables and nuts for one minute, stirring often. Pour in the wine. Scrape the sides and bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any stuck-on food bits. Stir in the broth, and simmer the mixture for 30 minutes. Puree the gravy in a food processor or blender until smooth. Chop the remaining chestnuts (if they aren’t already small bits), and stir them into the gravy. Serve the hot gravy in a gravy boat or pour directly onto your food.

Mushroom Gravy Adapted from two recipes (1 & 2)
2 T Earth Balance Canola & Olive Oil Spread
4 Large Cloves Garlic, trimmed, peeled, minced
1 Medium Sweet Yellow Onion, peeled, chopped fine
1 lb Mixed Crimini, Oyster (or Beech) and Shiitake Mushrooms (Shiitake stems removed), sliced
2 C Filtered Water or Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
1 T Gluten-Free Soy Sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1/2 C Cabernet Sauvignon Wine
1 T Balsamic Vinegar
2 tsp Arrowroot Starch* dissolved in 1 1/2 C Cold Filtered Water
2 T Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
Sea Salt, to taste
Mixed Peppercorns, fresh ground to taste

*You can substitute with one tablespoon cornstarch

In a heavy pan over medium-low heat, saute the garlic in the oil until the garlic becomes golden. Add in the onion, and stir and cook it until it softens. Mix in the mushrooms and soy sauce, and saute the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring often until the mushroom liquid evaporates and the mushrooms start to brown. Add the wine and vinegar, and then boil off all of the liquid. Stir the starch-water mixture, and add it to the mushrooms. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently, and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in seasonings. For a smooth texture, puree the gravy in a food processor or blender. Serve the gravy hot in a gravy boat or serving bowl.

We were running out of time, oven ranges and serving bowls, so we unfortunately had to mix the gravies. By the way, this is a lot of gravy. Only half of it fit into the food processor and serving bowl; I left the rest chunky and transferred it to a large sealed container. Store and chill them in covered containers. Add water to the gravies until you reach the desired thin or thickness.

The combined gravies tasted good, but the mushrooms overpowered the delicate flavor of the chestnuts. Next time, I will definitely cook them separately. To save time, cook and peel the chestnuts the day before, and to save even more time, make the gravies the day before you need them. Since these gravies (especially mix together) have so many vegetables and seasonings in them, I used them as a great soup base and made tasty soups with them and other Thanksgiving leftovers. I just added in the stuffing, turkey, seeds and nuts, my vegetable side and hot water.

Although I did not make it this time, my family has a long tradition of making giblet gravy. I have no idea how old the recipe is, but I do know it goes back at least five generations (including to mine). My mom remembers her mother and grandmother using a meat grinder in my great-grandma’s kitchen to puree the organ meat and vegetables.

Giblet Gravy
Make the gravy while roasting your turkey.
Ingredients                                                                                                               Image Source
1 Turkey Neck
1 Turkey Heart
1 Turkey Gizzard
1 Turkey Liver
Filtered Water, as needed
2 tsp Sea Salt
1 Large Stalk Celery, chopped
1 Large Carrot, trimmed, chopped
1/2 Medium Onion, peeled, chopped
Fresh or Dried Parsley, to taste
Fresh or Dried Thyme, to taste
Turkey Roast Drippings
2-3 T Corn Starch, as necessary
1/4 C Cold Filtered Water

Put the turkey into a medium saucepan, and fill the pan up half way with water. Add in the salt and vegetables. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low to simmer the mixture for 3 hours. Test the gizzard with a fork after 1 1/2 hours. If it’s tender, use a slotted spoon to transfer the turkey meat and vegetables to a cutting board to cool. The neck meat should fall off the bone or at least tender enough to easily remove. Run the meat and vegetables through a meat grinder. Mix in the turkey roast drippings into the gravy, scraping the pan, too. Stir the puree back into the broth, and transfer the gravy to a gravy separator. Set the gravy aside for a 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape the puree mixture into a medium saucepan with a rubber spatula. In small bowl, combine the starch and water. Whisk the starch mixture into the gravy, adding a spoonful of at a time into the middle of the gravy. Thoroughly stir in more starch gradually if necessary, but avoid lumps. Boil the gravy, stirring constantly for 3 minutes over medium heat. This gravy is rather thick; add turkey stock or more water to thin it to your desired consistency.

Instead of a meat grinder, you can just use a food process or high-speed blender. You can use this recipe to make chicken giblet gravy if you are roasting chicken in lieu of turkey. You can also use more or different herbs if you like.

No offense to my ancestors, but I’m not sure how I feel about this recipe. Personally, I don’t like boiling my vegetables. I think I’d rather saute my meat and vegetables and then deglaze the pan. I think it would take much less time. I think I prefer the giblet gravy recipes of Simply Recipes’ Elise Bauer and Social Culinaire’s Jeffrey Nimer. Chef Nimer’s recipe is in the video below.

Wild Rice Stuffing & Green and Yellow Beans

To go along with the turkey and gravies for Thanksgiving, I really wanted a healthy meal with my family. For the sides I decided on a mixture of sting beans and wax beans (they looked great at the Santa Rosa farmers market) and a gluten-free stuffing of some sort. I can’t so anything with bread, so cut-up bread and breadcrumbs were out. We put potatoes in the bird, and I really didn’t want a yam or potato dish with the bird. My husbands’ not a fan of squash (except for pumpkin pies and zucchini bread). I like mixed grain rice dishes, a lot; besides, they are more flavorful and better for you than white rice.

I got all of my vegetables from the farmers market, garlic from Costco and other organic foods from Oliver’s Market and Community Market. I learned from Cuisine at Home to save time and money on garlic by buying the Christopher Ranch (I hope they start carrying the organic garlic soon) peeled cloves from Costco, mincing them in a food processor and storing them in jars. I dehydrated cranberries instead of using sweetened Craisins. I soaked and dehydrated sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and pecans as possible rice additions.

Wild Rice and Cranberry Stuffing Adapted from Wild Rice Stuffing
Ingredients                                                                                                      Image Source
1 1/2 C Lundberg Wild Rice Blend
3 C Filtered Water or No or Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
1 T Earth Balance Spread or Olive Oil, optional
Sea Salt of your choice, to taste
1 1/2 tsp – 1 T Savory Spice Shop Sage & Savory Stuffing Seasoning
3 Scallions, trimmed, sliced
1/4 – 1/2 C Pecans, chopped or processed
1/2 – 1 C Cranberries, dehydrated
2 Small Apple, cored, diced
1/2 C Golden Raisins, sun-dried, chopped, optional

Rinse the rice. In a tightly lidded pot, combine rice, water, oil, and salt. Bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer the rice for 30 minutes. Mix the seasonings, onions, nuts and fruit into the rice. Recover and cook the mixture for 20 more minutes. Do not remove the lid. Remove the rice from the stove. Let the rice rest for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork or rice paddle to get rid of any excess moisture.

I also found a tasty looking raw vegan version.

Green and Yellow Beans                                                                                           Image Source
1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lb Green String Beans, trimmed, broken into bite-size pieces
1 lb Yellow Wax Beans, trimmed, broken into bite-size pieces
1 tsp Sage and Savory Stuffing Seasoning
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Black Peppercorns, fresh ground to taste

In a large lidded braiser or saute pan, heat the oil. Add the beans, and place the lid on the pan. Reduce the heat to simmer the beans for about 4 minutes or until they are tender-crisp, stirring occasionally. Add the seasonings, stirring to coat the beans. Cook another 2 minutes or so if you like tender beans.

Note: Asparagus and carrots also go well with string and wax beans. Try to use a variety for more color and flavor.

Tangy Beef and Herb Khoresh (Khoreshe Ghormeh Sabzi)

On Monday evening, I had some of my best friends, Erik and Chelsie, over for dinner at my house. One thing that we’ve always had in common is a love of food and trying out new recipes that involve lots of different flavors and variety. They’re usually the ones that make food for all of us over at their house, and it’s always delicious! They’ve always been eager in the past to introduce me to dishes that they’ve made, and in turn, it’s inspired me to start exploring cooking a bit more on my own. Being that I’m half Iranian, I’ve grown up watching my mother make many dishes such as this, most of which she was taught by my grandmother, while she was living in Iran back in the 1980’s with my father. For this particular evening with my friends, I decided to make this dish, being that it’s currently the middle of winter. I was in the mood to make something hearty, warm, and delicious. If you’re new to trying Persian Food, this is a nice dish to start with– Lots of yummy flavors, and it’s a crowd pleaser. I personally love it best served over some Saffron Rice, or plain is just as good. It just soaks up all the juices and makes the experience that much better. Hope you enjoy!

Note: Lamb, beef or poultry stews combined with vegetables, fruit, herbs and spices, are called khoresh in Farsi and are among the most loved of Persian dishes.


Serves 4

3 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound lean stewing beef or lamb, cubed
1 tablespoon chopped fenugreek leaf
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 cups water
1 ounce fresh parsley, chopped
1 ounce fresh chives, chopped
15-ounce can red kidney beans
juice of 1 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
rice, to serve

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan or flameproof casserole and fry the onion for about 3-4 minutes until light golden. Add the beef and fry for another 5-10 minutes until browned, stirring so that the meat browns on all sides.

2. Add the fenugreek, turmeric and cinnamon and cook for about 1 minute, stirring, then add the water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over a low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Heat the remaining oil in a small frying pan and fry the parsley and chives over a moderate heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

4. Drain the kidney beans and stir them into the beef with the herbs and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer the stew for another 30-35 minutes, until the meat is tender. Serve on a bed of rice.

Things I Love Most in My Kitchen Right Now: Part 3

I love my Ninja Master Prep Food Processor!








This was another outstanding wedding present from my friends Jessie and Trish (as seen in this post about MacNCheese).  The Ninja Master Prep is awesome. I use this bad boy all the time.

I’ve never used the Magic Bullet   But the Diana at Culinary Therapy loves hers.  That’s guacamole in there, btw.

I’ve used a food processor like this one, but much, much older and clunkier.  I was not a fan of all the hard to store sharp bits.

I use my Ninja at least three times a week, if not three times a day.  Today I used it to chop pecans for banana bread and chop olives for pasta salad (mexican inspired pasta salad with corn, olives, fresh tomatoes, taco seasoning, mayo, and Frank Hot Sauce, for those interested).  I use my ninja for garlic all the time and it still doesn’t smell like garlic.  Onion is also great to chop in here, since I usually cry from chopping onions myself.  Its great for pureeing soup or making smoothies, too.  My next big projects for it are going to be hummus and pesto.  I think why I really like this so much more than my blender is I can get every little bit of my food out of it.  My blender has a section in the bottom under the non-removable blades that just holds stuff.

Do you have a food processor?  Is it collecting dust or whirling away?  What is your favorite use for a food processor?

(No, I am not getting any money for writing this, or any previous post in which I love something.)