Book Review: 3 New Takes on Asian Cookery

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The Everything Stir-Fry Cookbook: The Everything Series are solid cookbooks – minimalist, with no photos, but thick with recipes. I often use them for inspiration – to get my mind wandering. Stir-fry’s are easy, fast and fun for dinner.

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The Everything Thai Cookbook: And…here is another one. Thai food is something I love but with Alistaire’s allergies, has become something I can’t have very often (just too high risk of peanuts and allergies in the food). With a guide, I can recreate dishes but use sunflowers and sesame instead. I worked for a Thai importer for a few years, and developed a real love of spicy meals ;-) And don’t forget, many Thai meals are naturally gluten-free as well!

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Banh Mi: 75 Banh Mi Recipes for Authentic and Delicious Vietnamese Sandwiches: Bahn Mi should be everywhere! That weirdly comforting blend of French and Vietnamese foods makes a sandwich unlike anything else. Here in the PNW, finding a good Vietnamese joint is easy, for the rest of the States? Probably not so much. Learn how to make these crunchy and delicious sandwiches, springrolls, Vietnamese Coffee and so much more as well.

FTC Disclaimer: We received advance copies.

Slow-Cooker Vegetable Chili

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It has been a very busy month, with a lot of work for me to get through. Which has led me to using my slow cooker (Crock-Pot SCV401TR 4-Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker, Red) more in the past few weeks than I think it has in its whole time of being in my house….

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Flipping through The Healthy Slow Cooker: 135 Gluten-Free Recipes for Health and Wellness, I went through the Vegetarian Mains section and decided to try out Judith’s Vegetable Chili, on page 251. I doubled the beans and served it over spaghetti (kinda Cincinnati style…OK, maybe not). Your pasta can be gluten-free or regular. It would also be great over baked potatoes!

Slocookerchili

Slow-Cooker Vegetable Chili (As adapted from page 251)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp cracker black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 15 ounce cans pinto beans, drained
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups corn kernels (if frozen, thaw first)
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 1 Jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • Sour cream & grated cheese, if desired.

Directions:

In a skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onions, celery and carrots, cook for about 7 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, peppercorns and cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, with juice, and bring to a boil.

Transfer to the stoneware crock. Stir in beans. Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or on High for 3 hours.

Stir chili powder into lemon juice, then into chili. Add in corn, bell peppers and jalapeño and stir well. Cover and cook on High for 30 minutes, until peppers are tender.

Top chili with sour cream and chili, if desired. For a carb boost, serve over hot pasta (I cooked up a pound of gluten-free spaghetti).

With pasta it serves 6 to 8.

Notes:

For more spice, leave in some, or all of the jalapeño seeds.

FTC Disclaimer: We received a review copy of the book.

Book Review: Rosehips on the Kitchen Table

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Wether you choose to forage (which I love doing on trails and in town) or you find oddities at a local farmers market,Rosehips on the Kitchen Table is a wonderful and very pretty cookbook. While it is a British book, it covers nearly everything one can find in many parts of the Unites States.

I chose this tasty one pot pasta simply for the color and variety it offered. There is something that is so good when you combine pasta and potatoes. I made the portions bigger than the book called for, but that was the beauty of it – since it was only a guide, it was easily scaled up. Enough for dinner AND lunch the next day that way ;-)

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Beans with New Potatoes, Pesto and Spaghetti (Adapted from page 91)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound green beans
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 pound spaghetti, broken in half
  • 1 batch prepared pesto (see below)
  • Half of a can black olives, sliced
  • Ground black pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Top and tail the beans. Cut potatoes into bite size pieces.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add in green beans, cook for about 5 minutes, until just fork tender. Scoop out beans with a strainer, setting aside. Chop beans into bite size pieces, stash in a large mixing bowl, cover to keep warm.

Bring water back to a boil, add in potatoes, cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until also for tender. Scoop out with a strainer, add into bowl with beans.

Return water to a boil, add in spaghetti, cook as directed on package. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, drain spaghetti.

Add in pesto to hot pasta pot and half the reserved water, stir smooth. Toss with spaghetti, adding as much water as needed to coat (I used all of the water). Gently fold in green beans, potatoes and olives. Season to taste and serve with Parmesan cheese.

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Pesto is simple enough to make. For most people. Fresh basil, pine nuts, olive oil and a few other things. But lets take on two things: fresh basil is very, very expensive in the PNW out of season (and by “in season”, well that only occurs in June-August at Farmers Markets!). To make fresh basil, the basil would be around $4. Yes, $4. Ouch. That is not affordable. And then the nuts. I have never been a fan of pine nuts, and while one can use most any nut in pesto, once you start talking allergies, then you had best start making your own!

Dried basil gets sneered at, yet it has a lot of potential. If you have bulk bins of spices nearby, the dried basil, even in organic, will only cost you 50 to 75 cents. Dried herbs are often treated as second class citizens, yet there is potential to them if they are cooked with properly. Oil allows the flavor to release. As well, this pesto is nowhere as oily as commercial pesto is. It can be as smooth as you wish, or leave some texture in, which coats the pasta in a wonderful green way.

Dried Basil & Sunflower Pesto

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup dried basil (will fill a 4 ounce spice jar tightly)
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • 3 tsp granulated garlic
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Add basil, sunflower seeds, garlic and Parmesan cheese in a food processor. Process until seeds are ground finely, scrape sides.

With processor on low, slowly pour in olive oil, scraping sides as needed, until blended.

Let rest for at least 30 minutes before using, for basil to hydrate.

Store in refrigerator tightly sealed.

Makes about ¾ cup pesto.

FTC Disclaimer: We received a review copy.

Starting From Scratch: Quick and Simple Pasta Sauce

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Starting From Scratch: What You Should Know about Food and Cooking is a food manifesto that helps young readers relate to what they eat, inspiring both budding chefs and budding food lovers in the process. Beginning with an exploration of taste and how it works, author and food activist Sarah Elton explains how ingredients have been on the move for centuries, resulting in the unique fusion of flavors we love today. She breaks down the science of food and cooking into bite-sized and easily digestible pieces of information that cover the chemistry of heat versus cold, fat versus acid, and salt versus sweet. Both practical and philosophical in its approach, Starting from Scratch demystifies food and cooking by boiling it down to the basics. Young chefs learn to make sense of recipes, measure and substitute ingredients, and stock a pantry, and discover that food is more than just a prepackaged meal. Using simple and universal examples, Starting from Scratch inspires children to eat better, try new flavors, and understand what’s on their plate. Even reluctant chefs will gain an improved sense of where food comes from and be able to join in on a conversation that continues from snack time to dinnertime.

After reading through the book, and sharing it with Walker (who has become my helper in the kitchen), we decided to try the Quick and Simple Pasta Sauce recipe, and adapt it to our taste. Fun, easy and yes, it tasted great! Even at 3 or 4 years old, children can be in the kitchen learning from us.

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Quick and Simple Pasta Sauce (As adapted from page 90)

Ingredients:

 

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 28-ounce can whole or diced tomatoes (used unsalted with basil)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning blend
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
  • Pinch sugar, to taste
  • Fine sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

 

Directions:

Finely chop the onion and garlic. Heat a large saucepan over medium, add oil, onions and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes (with any liquid) to the pan. Add Italian seasoning, vinegar, capers and pinch of salt. Break up tomatoes with a potato masher. Cook over medium-low, on a low simmer, for 20 or so minutes, stirring often. Season to taste with sugar (to cut the bite of the acid in tomatoes), salt and pepper, to taste.

Dresses 16 ounces of cooked spaghetti.

FTC Disclosure: We received a review copy.

Banana Bread Cobbler via Comfort Food Made Easy

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Love gorgeous full color photos? One for every recipe? Comfort food with a gourmet twist? While Southern Living Comfort Food Made Easy: Hearty homestyle dishes for busy cooks may be meat-centric, I still found plenty of recipes to tempt me.

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I’ll admit when I saw Banana Bread Cobbler, I paused. And had to make it. It was so different sounding. So that Alistaire could enjoy it with us, I swapped in LouAna Coconut Oil for the butter called, used unsweetened coconut milk beverage instead of dairy milk, but most of all, swapped roasted sunflower seeds for the pecans. Yes, it would have been better I am sure with pecans! I truly hope that someday he can enjoy a pecan!

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Banana Bread Cobbler (As adapted from pages 260-261)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (or dairy milk)
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted (or butter)
  • 4 medium ripe bananas, sliced
  • 1 batch streusel topping

Streusel Topping:

  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup self-rising flour
  • ½ cup coconut oil, room temperature (or softened butter)
  • 1 cup uncooked old-fashioned oats
  • ½ cup toasted sunflower seeds, finely chopped (or chopped pecans)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Whisk together flour, sugar and milk. Whisk in melted coconut oil. Lightly oil a 8×8″ glass baking dish (recipe called for a 11×7″, which I don’t have), spread batter in it, top with banana slices. Top with struesel evenly. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

To make streusel topping:

Stir together brown sugar and flour, add in coconut oil, work in with fingers until mixture is crumbly. Stir in oats and sunflower seeds.

FTC Disclosure: We received a review copy of the book and ingredients used in the recipe.

Toasted Cherry Oatmeal & Oats Gone Wild Is In Print

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To celebrate Oats Gone Wild coming out in print version, I have a delicious bulk oatmeal recipe for everyone to enjoy – full of filling oats, wheat germ and sunflower seeds.

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For me, there is nothing like a bowl of warm oats for breakfast!

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Toasted Cherry Oatmeal

Ingredients:

Directions:

Heat oven to 350°. Spread oats and sunflower seeds on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring twice, until oats are golden and smelling toasty. Let sit on counter until cool.

Meanwhile, mix the milk powder, wheat germ, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl, working the brown sugar in, until finely mixed. Add in the oat mixture. Store tightly sealed. (Store cherries separately)

Makes 4 cups dry mix, 8 servings prepared.

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To prepare:

Bring 2¼ cups water to boil in a medium saucepan, add in 1 cup dry mix, return to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low, cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add in ¼ cup of the cherries, let sit for 2 to 3 minutes, divide between 2 bowls and serve.

FTC Disclaimer: We received product used in this recipe.

Oats Gone Wild

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My first full-length at-home cookbook is out now! Oats Gone Wild has 75+ plant-based recipes, featuring a mix of stove-top and baked oatmeal. With an interactive front index, it is easy to click through to the recipe you want to try. It is in digital format, for $4.99, via Amazon (as always, Kindle books do not need a Kindle to read! You can use their many free apps for phones and tablets, or read on computers).

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In Oats Gone Wild, I used Gluten Free Rolled Oats in most of the recipes. We go through a lot of oats to put it lightly! We often buy 25 pound bags from Bob’s Red Mill. Sadly, oats have gotten a lot of bad press/hate in recent years due to the misconception that they are off-limits to gluten-free diets. If one buys the right brand, they can still have them. Bob’s Red Mill is the company to buy from IMO. Dare post an e-book of recipes (Oatmeal On The Go: 11 Gluten-free, Vegan & Plant-based-diet Recipes) with “gluten-free” in the title and you will get someone leaving you a 1-star review claiming the author doesn’t know anything. You can’t make everyone happy…..so while the majority of the cookbook is GF friendly, I didn’t need any more hate. Oats prepared right can be tasty, healthy for you and even downright delicious!

In celebration of my book being done, I went and tried something new, Bob’s Red Mill Organic Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats – from yes, Bob’s Red Mill. They are not gluten-free though, so beware of that. Our local Costco has them in stock as well. I have often shied from steel-cut oats due to the long cooking time. Just not my thing. But these cook in the same amount of time as old-fashion rolled oats. So we tried out a new recipe for baked oat cups.

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Baked Steel Cut Apple & Sunflower Oatmeal Cups

Ingredients:

Directions:

Add oats to a mixing bowl, cover with water and let rest for 4 to 5 hours, covered. Drain off water.

Preheat oven to 375°, liberally spray or oil a non-stick 12 count muffin tin.

Whisk Ener-G powder and warm water together, let rest for 5 minutes.

Stir oats, cranberries, sunflower seeds, flaxseed, half the cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in the bowl.

Whisk the Ener-G mix, coconut milk and Sunbutter together till smooth, pour over oats and stir well. Divide between the prepared muffin tin (it will fill the cups up).

Take the remaining cinnamon and toss with the apple, divide evenly over the top of the cups.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden and set. Let cool a bit before serving, or for breakfast in advance, pop out and stash tightly covered in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave for about a minute, serve with additional maple syrup over the top.

Makes 12 muffins, with 2 muffins for a serving.

PS: Thank you SO much for helping support me while I wrote the book. Kind words mean so much! This book is my 4th full-length cookbook and I hope to do so many more!

Betty Goes Vegan: Carrot Cupcakes

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Mommy’s Little Helper just loooves his IKEA kitchen and Melissa & Doug Chef Role Play Costume Set. Which is funny as we got it more for Walker, and instead Alistaire is over playing with it often! The IKEA kitchen is just way cute! So while he played happily, I read over a copy of that I found showcased in my local library.

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How did I miss their book? The Green Plaid book is a vegan/PBD answer to my childhood bible, the Red Plaid cookbook. Yes, they do use a lot of faux-meat in the main course recipes but I can overlook that. There is a lot to love. Heck, I even bought some Gardein faux-chicken so I could live it up ;-)

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And as usual, I picked a sweet treat to try first. I did adapt it. Instead of olive oil, I used sunflower. For cupcakes it has a milder flavor. I also used sunflower seeds instead of walnuts. That way Alistaire could have one to enjoy. Gluten-cheats he can handle once in a while, it just makes his eczema bad. Nuts…well, let’s not go there!

The end result was a very moist cupcake. Not exactly good for you, but really good!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes (As adapted from page 360)

Ingredients:

  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup sunflower oil
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp Ener-G Foods Egg Replacer
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 3 cups finely shredded carrots
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º, line 18 muffin spots with premium liners (Wilton or Reynolds, with foil interior).

Grind sunflower seeds in a mini food chopper, set aside. When grating the carrots, use the fine side on your box grater. This way the carrots melt into the cakes.

Add sugars and oil to a large mixing bowl. Beat until smooth with a hand mixer, add in dry Ener-g egg replacer and vanilla, beat in.

Add in flour through salt, beat smooth (batter will be thick). Add carrots and sunflower seeds, stir in by hand, really working it in.

Scoop out ¼ cup balls of batter, drop into liners. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the center (mine took 30). Let rest for 10 minutes, transfer to a cooling rack. Once fully cool, frost as desired.

Makes 18 cupcakes.

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The recipe for the cream cheese frosting was vegan. I didn’t make it vegan. Truthfully I have yet to find a faux cream cheese I like – and that Alistaire can eat. So for me I’d rather just use the real thing. So if you want vegan…by all means swap in vegan cream cheese and Earth Balance Buttery stick.

Cream Cheese Frosting (As adapted from page 393)

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

Let the cream cheese and butter come to room temperature. Add to a large mixing bowl, beat smooth with a hand mixer. Work in milk and vanilla.

Beat in on low 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time. Once worked in, beat until smooth on medium.

Makes enough to thickly frost 18 cupcakes. Refrigerate frosted cupcakes, once frosting is set, store in a container or plastic bag.

A Sweet Surprise & Coconut Bread

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I found a package waiting for me at the post office, from my Aunt Vikki, my Mom’s younger sister. Inside was a small steno-style notepad, that had belonged to my Nana. She passed away in 2003, so a neat look into my past. I flipped through the recipes recognizing some of the names of ladies who had shared them, noted by the recipes. I wandered through it, looking for a recipe to adapt and make vegan. I settled on the coconut bread. I wondered if it was right, that it had no fat added. Especially with my taking out the egg fat as well. I was right in that the coconut provided enough fat for a great texture. If you wanted it really decadent, use canned full-fat coconut milk, not the coconut milk beverage.

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Since we were going retro, using my favorite Fire King bowls were necessary, and of course, a Fire King bread pan. All of which came from my Mom and Nana’s estates.

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Yummy coconut bread!

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Also..why egg-free? I wanted Alistaire to be able to enjoy a bite as well. He was one happy toddler!

Coconut Bread

Ingredients:

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350, spray a 9x5x3″ loaf pan with oil.

Add dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl, whisk together.

Whisk coconut milk through vanilla together, pour over dry, stir until mixed.

Spread in prepared pan, bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Let rest for 10 minutes, flip out and cool on a rack.

Store in a plastic bag, use within a day or two for best texture.

Tip from Kirk:

Toast slices the next day, they will be crispy and warm on the outside, warm and soft inside.

Book Review: Livin’ Lean with Trader Joe’s

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It is hard to explain to others, when they don’t live near a Trader Joe’s store, just why the stores are so addictive. They are like crack to a foodie. So much. Food. The candy and cookie aisles require blinders on to avoid temptation. Considering that I can eat 99% of what is sold there, it is hard temptation (TJ’s doesn’t use artificial coloring in their branded products).

Now then, there is a light side, to help you eat well and still enjoy the bounty of what TJ’s sells: Livin’ Lean with Trader Joe’s. Authored by Jamie Davidson, M.S. of Healthy Trader Joe’s, she takes the store basics – the high-quality pantry staples, and incorporates them into meals that are easy to make, and tasty as well. While the book uses products from across the store, including meat and dairy, it has quite a few vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free recipes. And I found out something I didn’t know: the reduced fat mayonnaise is accidentally vegan. Normally I buy organic, short ingredient mayo…but what, egg free mayo? That Alistaire could have? Without any artificial coloring? How had I missed that in years of shopping there? So I did my monthly TJ’s visit with this in mind. An eggless egg salad filling: plant-based diet, vegan, gluten-free and my littlest could eat it!

PS: Jamie gives descriptions of the TJ ingredients so you can still make these recipes even without a Trader Joe’s nearby! Although I’d cry often if I wasn’t able to shop there! Where else would I find artificially colored free pickle relish? Dark chocolate syrup for mochas? Frozen Dim Sum? Oh, I’d be sad!

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This recipe is vegan, gluten-free as a filling and is easily adaptable to what one has on hand. Add the relish and mustard to taste (I used more than called for).

Eggless Egg Salad (As adapted from page 62)

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14 to 16 ounce) container Trader Joe’s Organic firm or extra firm tofu
  • ½ cup Trader Joe’s Reduced Fat Mayonnaise (used ¾ cup)
  • 2 red (used green) bell pepper, seeded and chopped finely
  • 4 scallions (green onions), white and green parts, chopped finely
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and finely shredded
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 4 tsp pickle relish (used 2 Tbsp)
  • 1½ tsp yellow or Dijon mustard (used 1 Tbsp)
  • 2 tsp dried dill weed
  • Ground black pepper and sea salt to taste

Directions:

Open tofu, drain off any liquid. Finely crumble into a large mixing bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk remaining ingredients, pour over tofu and stir to mix. Cover and refrigerate for the flavors to meld together, taste for salt before serving.

Delicious on a hearty bread. Makes enough to fill 4 sandwiches.

FTC Disclaimer: We received a review copy.

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