Posts from the ‘Dinner’ Category

Cheesy Lemon Thyme Millet Squares

I initially found this recipe on the back of an Arrowhead Mills puffed millet package I bought for my gingerbread marshmillets. Using the millet in a savory dish sounded interesting, and I was wondering how else I could use puffed milled beyond cereal and bird seed. The original recipe called for sharp cheddar cheese and wheat-based pastry flour, so I had to alter the recipe. Since I was making substitutions to the recipe anyway, I opted for a “chia egg” rather than the standard chicken variety and thyme rather than dill.

Cheesy Lemon Thyme Millet Squares-1

Honestly, replacing the sharp cheddar with cheddar-style shreds was a mistake. I have discovered I do not actually like Daiya’s cheddar; they taste is very strong and rather off. I do hope they change their recipe soon. The only recognizably cheddar-like property of these shreds is the color; otherwise, they taste like mildly cheesy peas. It was very hard to mask the pea flavor even after I added more spices. The only way I was able to mellow the flavor was to add sliced avocado on top; hummus or chicken salad might also work. I’m sure including real cheddar cheese would taste lovely. Maybe I will try Daiya’s Pepper Jack-Style Shreds in the future to improve my dairy-free version of the squares.

Cheesy Thyme Millet Squares
These can accompany entrees in lieu of bread or can be used as appetizers topped with various spreads, like hummus, tempenade, or bruschetta.

Yields 9 servings

Ingredients
1 C Daiya Cheese-Style Shreds
1 tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves
1 Pinch Fine Grain Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Fresh Minced Garlic
Dash Sweet California Paprika
1/4 tsp Smoked Spanish Paprika, more to taste
1/8 tsp Ground Mixed Peppercorns
3 T Earth Balance Spread, melted
1/2 C Fine Ground Buckwheat Flour
1 Chia Egg (1 T Ground Chia Seeds + 4-6 T Filtered Water)
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1 Lemon, juice of
2 C Puffed Millet Cereal
Topping (see description above), optional

Directions
Preheat oven to 375F. Grease an 8″ square baking dish.

In large mixing bowl, combine the cheese, thyme, seasonings, spread, flour and baking soda. Stir in the lemon juice. Fold in the millet. Bake for 25 or until the top starts to brown. Cut into squares. Decorate as desired. Serve warm.

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Italian Sausage & Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Spaghetti squash is a great option for people who want pasta without gluten or lots of carbohydrates. It readily absorbs flavors from sauce, herbs, and spices, so it blends very well with other ingredients. It is also easy to prepare; please see my Spaghetti Squash post for roasting directions. Spaghetti squash provides a lovely splash of color to any noodle dish, unlike bland beige wheat noodles.

Italian Sausage Spaghetti Squash Casserole 1A

This recipe is one of my favorite ways to prepare spaghetti squash. It is so colorful and flavorful, and it is easy to create various color and flavor combinations with different veggies. Additionally, you can use any protein you prefer, like veggie sausage, ground meat, cubed chicken, soy or hemp tofu, pine nuts, etc. You can also always dress your spaghetti squash with pasta sauces, too.

Keep in mind you are going to need a very large bowl to mix all of the components. It has been a while since, I used this recipe, so I quickly ran out of room as I added ingredients. I spit the recipe into two stages, mixing the squash, sausage, dried herbs, and cheese in one large Corning Ware dish and the fresh herbs and remaining vegetables in another. I used a third smaller bowl to help transfer half of the contents one bowl into the other, so I could incorporate all the ingredients together into each bowl and keep the right proportions. As a side note, even though I added the Daiya cheese to the sausage and squash while they were hot, it did not melt properly. Daiya’s shreds require higher temperatures to melt than dairy cheese, so I suggest reheating the casserole before it is served.

Italian Sausage Spaghetti Squash Casserole 2A

Italian Sausage & Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Yields 14 to 16 servings

Ingredients
1 Med Spaghetti Squash, roasted, skin removed
1 T Dried Ground Sage
1 T Dried Oregano
2-3 T Fresh Thyme
1 Bunch or 3 C Spinach or Kale, torn into bite-size pieces
1 Bunch or 1/2 C Fresh Sweet Basil, chopped
Olive or Grape Seed Oil for cooking
3/4 – 1 lbs Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage
3/4 – 1 lbs Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage
1 10-oz pkg Daiya Mozzarella-Style Shreds
1 Medium Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
3 T Fresh or Bottled Minced Garlic
1 lb String Beans, cut into 1″ lengths
3 Med Yellow or Orange Heirloom Tomatoes, chopped
4 oz Pea Spouts with long shoots, separated
Ground Peppercorns, to taste
Sea Salt, to taste

Directions
Be careful not to burn your fingers while handling the squash. In a large bowl, break up the squash into noodles with a fork. Mix the herbs and greens into the squash. Set aside to allow the dried herbs to absorb moisture from the noodles and the greens to wilt a bit.

Oil a large pan. If the sausage came in casings, remove them. Brown the sausage over medium heat. Mix the sausage and cheese-style shreds into the squash.

Saute the onion, garlic, and beans together in a large oiled pan. Add to the squash with the salt, pepper,  tomatoes, and sprouts. Serve and enjoy!

Kale Saag

Velvety Kale Saag

I love saag and palak dishes, especially since they are so nutritious. They are so tasty, and I love the texture and spices. Palak is made with spinach, whereas saag is made with dark winter greens in general, like kale, collards or mustard greens, which are all very rich in fiber, iron, potassium, calcium, and vitamins A and C. You can mix pretty much any kind of protein into the greens, like homemade cheese (like paneer), chicken, lamb, fish, chickpeas, lentils, tofu or nuts (like cashews). Alternatively, you can use the saag as a kind of sauce and pour it over hearty vegetables, like carrots, broccoli or cauliflower; grains , such as rice, barley or buckwheat; or grain-like seeds, like quinoa, millet or amaranth.

Winter Greens

Kale Saag
Adapted from Ambika’s Saag Paneer.
This recipe is vegan.

Yields 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients
6 – 7 C Kale with stems, trimmed
1 Medium – Large Sweet Yellow Onion, peeled, skinned
3 T Minced Garlic
1″ Ginger Root, peeled
1/4 tsp Ground Turmeric
Pinch Sea Salt
1 1/2 C Filtered Water
4 T Almond Meal
1 1/2 T Dried Fenugreek Leaves
1 tsp Smoked Spanish Hot Paprika
1 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
1 T Sambar Curry Powder
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/4 C Carrot Greens with stems, trimmed
1/4 C Cilantro Leaves with stems, trimmed*
1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 T Coriander Seeds
1 1/2 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1/2 T Grains of Paradise
16 – 24 oz Choice Protein, prepared

Kale

Directions
Chop the kale, onion and ginger in a Vitamix (high speed blender) or food processor. Set aside.

Soak the almond meal, fenugreek leaves, paprika, garam masala, curry powder, nutmeg in 1 cup of water for 15 to 20 minutes. Blend them in the Vitamix with the carrot tops and cilantro.

Toast the seeds over medium heat for 30 seconds in a dry pan, stirring constantly. At this point, I recommend grinding the seeds until fine in a spice grinder.

Saute the garlic over low heat for about a minute. Add the onions, kale, ginger, ground seeds, turmeric and salt and saute for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Mix in half a cup of water. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Add the spiced almonds, greens and herbs. Cover and stir occasionally for next 10 to 15 minutes. Stir and adjust the consistency by adding more water if necessary.

If you want a more velvety texture, puree half of the saag in the Vitamix until smooth and stir it back into the chunkier spiced greens. At this point, mix in your desired source of protein. Serve and enjoy.

Creamy Kale Saag

Optional Ingredients and Directions
You can chop a medium to large seeded heirloom yellow or orange tomato (about 1 cup) to cook with the other vegetables and fresh herbs.

To make the dish more creamy, mix 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk, almond cream or cultured coconut or almond milk (like the “yogurts” by Almond Dream, Amande or So Delicious) with the cilantro, fenugreek, almonds and spices.

*if you are using dried cilantro leaves, measure 3 tablespoons, soak them with the spiced almond-fenugreek mixture.

Kale Saag and Eggs

Split Pea and Ham Soup

Split Pea and Ham

A bit ago my husband and I received Pea Soup Andersen’s dried split peas from the Saslows; the peas were packaged in a cute little cotton drawstring bag with the soup recipe printed on the back. What a wonderful winter gift! If you have not visited one of Pea Soup Andersen’s locations before, I highly recommend that you go. They have all sorts of tasty, tasty dishes beyond pea soup, ranging from sandwiches and salads to steak and chicken. I have visited both of the California restaurants, one in Santa Nella and the other in Buellton, while on roadtrips with family and friends. Each time I found it difficult to decide what I wanted to order (other than the famous soup, of course), since their menus are so big!

The split pea and ham soup provided several great satisfying meals; sometimes I even had a few small bowls as snacks on they days that the weather was particularly chilly. Making this soup also allowed the perfect opportunity to incorporate some of the leftover ham from my earlier post into yet another delicious dish. The meat and spices really added to the soup’s over all flavor, making it even more hearty.

Andersen's premium selected split peas

Andersen’s premium selected split peas

Split Pea and Ham Soup
Adapted from the Pea Soup Andersen’s “Soup-in-a-Bag” instructions.

Yields 12 Servings

Ingredients
3 C Dried Split Green Peas*
4 qt Filtered Water, divided
1 Large Stalk Celery, trimmed, coarsely chopped
1 Large Carrot, trimmed, Chopped
1 Large Sweet Yellow Onion, skinned, trimmed, chopped
2 – 3 T Minced Garlic Cloves
1 lb Ham, cubed
1 tsp Dried Thyme Leaves
2 Pinches Ground Cayenne Pepper
1 Large Bay Leaf
Sea Salt, to taste
Ground Mixed Peppercorns, to taste

Directions
Thoroughly rinse the peas under cool water in a fine mesh strainer. Pour into large stock pot. Cook at a rolling boil with two quarts water for 20 minutes or until peas are tender. Strain through fine mesh strainer.

Return peas to stock pot with two more quarts water. Add vegetables, herbs, ham. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 10 minutes or until ham is heated through and flavors are blended. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

*For a more colorful soup, you can use a mixture of split peas with half green and half yellow.

Glazed Clove-Studded Ham

Ham and String Beans

The other day at work, someone brought home-baked ham from lunch, which of course only made me crave it, so as soon as I clocked out for the day, I went to the store on a quest. A quest for ham! Well, the first store did not have what I wanted, and the second store did not either. As it was getting later though, I settled on a mostly unflavored precooked spiral-sliced hunk of ham, since that’s all the store carried. Honestly, I was too hungry to make dinner from scratch and bake the ham for several hours. I made sure to check the ingredients on the ham label first to make sure the meat did not contain any allergens or gross chemicals.

Once it was out of the packaging, I studded it with all of my whole cloves at about one-inch intervals. As per the directions, I placed the ham on a foil-lined baking sheet and then covered the ham tightly with more foil. I baked the ham at 350 degrees F for about an hour, which was about 8 minutes per pound.

During the last few minutes of the baking time, I prepared the glaze. To reduce the sugar, I opted to only use half of the sugary spiced glaze mixture, stirring it into 3 tablespoons of water in a sauce pan on low heat until the sugar crystals fully dissolved. I simmered the glaze on low for about two minutes and then brought the glaze up to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.

While the glaze was still hot, I removed the ham from the oven and increased the temperature to 400 degrees F. I carefully spooned the glaze onto the ham, making sure to glaze all whole cut of meat. I set the foil covering aside for post-dinner ham storage, as it was no longer needed for roasting. Once the oven reached the desired temperature, I popped the meat back in the oven to roast for another hour, when the center of the roast reached 120 degrees F. (Remember the ham was precooked, so I was just reheating it and allowing the flavors to meld.) It was nice that the ham was spiral-sliced, so all I had to do was cut the meat in sections from around the bone.

Glazed Clove-Studded Baked Ham

I was so relieved that preparing the ham was so easy. Although I wish I cooked the ham and made the glaze from scratch, this was a nice alternative. I am very glad that there was plenty of leftovers for my husband and I to incorporate into later dishes, such as soup, salad and sandwiches. Most importantly, it was rather healthy and delicious.

Pudgy Pies

I first tried out cooking hand pies with this method several years ago while car camping with Adriann and a bunch of other friends. I tested out hers to make a very yummy snack and have wanted a set ever since, especially now that we have a fire pit on our back patio. Unfortunately, other than on Amazon or other online stores, pie irons are rather challenging to find. So when I saw them in one of our local overstock stores, I bought two right away as an early Valentine’s Day gift for my husband. Pie irons are fantastic usually long-handled cast iron hand-pie makers (like a waffle irons) for cooking over an open flame or camp fire. You can either use dough or slices of bread to make the piecrust, but keep in mind that thinner crusts will allow more room for fillings. They are easy to make in these irons and are an incredibly simple comfort food. The outside is nice and toasty, while the fillings are warm and gooey on the inside. Since you get to choose your own toppings, you can make the pies meaty, cheesy, vegan, gluten free, healthy, or however you like.

Pie Irons

To make a hand pies, put a slice oil or butter-side down (to prevent it from sticking to the iron) onto the bottom half of the iron. Place your fillings, like fruit preserves, chocolate, nut butter, meat, eggs, cheese, etc., in the center of the bottom bread slice; make sure you include an ingredient that acts as a binding agent, otherwise the pie will not stay together as well. Lay a second slice of bread over the top of the fillings with the oiled side up. Close the the iron, so the top bread slice covers the filling. Clamp the iron closed. Trim off any excess bread sticking out from the sides of the iron. Place the cast iron over the fire, holding onto the wooden (or otherwise insulated) handles. Bake the hand pie for about four to six minutes rotating occasionally.

There are all sorts of recipes you can try. Richard O’Russa wrote a great looking cookbook and you can find even more recipes from Rome’s online shop, which features more information about the devices. I am sure you can find other hand pie recipes for baking with pie irons elsewhere on the the internet, as well, like here. You can also check out Pudgy Revolution’s Pudgy Pie Test Kitchen You Tube series, and if you really like their recipe ideas, you can support their pudgie pie cookbook Kickstarter.

Garlic Pepper Pork Nabe

I have intended to make another hot pot style soup for a long while now and actually have not made any since the time I cooked the shrimp & vegetable nabe for my folks during the summer of 2012. Recently, the pork tenderloins were on sale at our local grocery store, and I was trying to think of another way to cook the meat beyond sauteing, grilling or roasting. Why not cook it in a nabe dish? Though I love my cute donabe, which I was luckily able to buy at Shiki, Inc., an amazing pottery shop in San Francisco Japantown’s West Mall (I absolutely love that store) where I bought my mom’s. I actually had not used my hot pot in who-knows-how-long and was feeling quite guilty for letting it just collect dust. I was got the idea of cooking the pork in my glazed clay donabe at when my husband and I decided to have dinner at Honey BBQ in Rohnert Park (check out my review from last week). The pork bibimbop was very inspirational; I will have to try my hand at making it in my pot later.

Fishy Donabe

Whole Grain Red and Black Rice

Adapted from “Japanese Rice for Shime” from Japanese Hot Pots by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat.

Yields 2 cups of rice

Ingredients
2 C Filtered Water
1 tsp Gluten-Free Tamari Soy Sauce
OR 1 tsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1/2 C Himalayan or Bhutanese Red Rice, uncooked
1/2 C Wild or Chinese Black Rice, uncooked
1 C Hot Filtered Water

Directions
Rinse the rice in cool water. Strain the rice through a fine mesh and set it aside. Bring two cups of water to boil with the tamari in the donabe. Stir in the rice and cover. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 40 minutes. Add a cup of hot water to prevent the rice from burning to the bottom of the pot. Cook another 20 minutes or until tender. Remove from the heat. Drain off the excess liquid, reserving it for later. Set the rice aside in a covered dish.

First arrangement of the nabe.

Garlic Pepper Pork Nabe
Adapted from my Shrimp & Vegetable Nabe recipe. This recipe makes a lot of soup, so you may want to use a larger pot. Keep in mind that not everything may fit in the pot; add the vegetables, broth and rice in batches. Include more meat if desired; my husband wished there was a greater amount in the meat to vegetable ratio.

Yields About 25 Servings

Broth Ingredients
5 C Filtered Water
2 T Minced Garlic
1 tsp Black Peppercorns
1 – 2 tsp Grains of Paradise
1 T Dried White or Yellow Chopped Onion
Remaining Rice Water
Meat and Vegetable Ingredients
Marinated Garlic and Peppercorn Pork Tenderloin
2 C Coarsely Chopped Collard Greens
2 C Coarsely Chopped Mustard Greens
3 Scallions, trimmed, cut into 4″ lengths
6 Inner Leafy Celery Stalks, cut into 1/2″ thick 3″ lengths
2 Large Carrots, cut into 1/2″ thick 3″ lengths
2 Medium or 1 Large Head(s) Broccoli, cut into bite sizes
1 – 2 Broccoli Stalk(s), cut into 1/2″ thick 3″ lengths
1 Small Head Cauliflower, trimmed, cut into bite sizes
Cauliflower Leaves, stems cut into 1/2″ thick 3″ lengths
1 C String or Green Beans, trimmed, cut into 3″ lengths
Cooked Whole Grain Rice (See Above)
1 C Enoki Mushrooms, separated from roots, cut into 3″ lengths, optional
1 C Bean Sprouts, cut into 3″ lengths, optional

Directions
Bring the broth ingredients to a boil in the donabe for 5 minutes over medium high heat.

Meanwhile, drain the marinade from the pork, reserving up to half a cup, and set aside. Thinly slice the pork about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick rounds with a very sharp knife. Be careful not to cut yourself. Add the marinade and pork to the broth. Cook covered for about 5 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink. Transfer the broth and meat to another covered dish.

Arrange the cut vegetables on a large platter in groups in order to add them to the soup easily.

Inside the donabe, cover the bottom with the dark greens. On top of the greens, arrange about 1/3 of the vegetables in clustered groups around in a circle, leaving the middle open. Spoon about half of the rice into the center, piling the meat on top. Make sure not to stack it above the lower lip of the pot. Pour in the broth up to the lower lip of the donabe. Cover and cook the soup for 5 minutes on medium heat. The greens should wilt a bit, providing more room. Add more vegetables and meat into their designated sections, pushing them under the broth with a large wooden spoon. Cook another 5 minutes and repeat. When adding the last of the broth, I made sure to pour the grains of paradise and peppercorns onto the center on top of the meat instead of garnishing the each bowl of soup as I would with a shichimi togarashi or furikake. Do not over fill the pot; you do not want it to over flow during cooking.

Carefully bring the pot to the table with hot pan holders or oven mitts to rest it on a trivet set on top of a thick towel if you are serving the soup tableside. Serve the soup in bowls, making sure to get a bit of everything. Garnish if desired.

Remaining vegetables added to the nabe.

There is now more room in the donabe. Add leftover vegetables, meat, rice and or hot broth to the soup. Recover the pot to preserve the heat and allow the fresh ingredients to cook.