Thursday, November 13, 2014

Don't Stew About It!!!

Is it really Fall? Is that cool air I'm feeling? It could just be that we might, just might, get a little cool weather here in sweltering California! Today I made a heart warming, sweater weather, gramma approved beef & mushroom stew! It was even more delicious that I thought it would be!!!! Break out your best soup pot and get cooking people! You can thank me later!!!

Mushroom & Beef Stew
Serves 4-6

1-2 tbsp. olive oil
1.5 lb. stewing beef
1 lg onion, diced
2 stalk celery, diced
1 lb. button mushrooms, quartered
2 portobello mushroom heads, rough chopped
1/2 c. cabernet sauvignon
4 lg carrots, peeled and sliced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. dried rosemary
pinch of saffron
4 c. beef broth
salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat 1 tbsp. oil over medium high heat in a large soup pot. Salt & pepper the beef and brown it on both sides. Remove from pan & set aside. Saute onions & celery in soup pot until tender. Remove from pan & set aside. Add a bit more oil and then cook the mushrooms all at once until reduced by about half the volume. Remove from pan (keep the juice too!!!) & set aside.
2. Pour wine into pan and deglaze but scrapping up all the delicious brown bits!
3. Add everything, including any drippings that have accumulated, back into the pot! Add in your beef broth, bay leaf, rosemary and saffron. Bring to a boil. Add carrots. Stir and bring to a boil once more. Reduce heat to simmer and simmer for at least an hour. I let mine simmer away all day and it was glorious! Taste for salt & pepper and add what you need.
4. Serve over a bed of warm grits or polenta or bake up a bunch of mile high biscuits! Enjoy!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

What's For Breakfast?

Since discovering my gluten allergy, I have avoided most flour based breakfast foods. That means no pancakes, waffles, crepes, biscuits and/or sad!!! A lot of the gluten free recipes are super gross...grainy consistency with weird gumminess going on from too much xanthan gum! I've been experimenting with gluten free breads and have discovered what works and what totally doesn't work!!! This morning I decided to whip up a little Dutch Baby, gluten free style, and it was amazing!!! Here's the recipe for all of you breakfast food fans!!!

My Dutch Baby right after taking it out of the oven!

Gluten Free Dutch Baby
4 Servings

2 tbsp butter
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 c milk
1/4 c tapioca flour*
1/4 c sweet white rice flour*
pinch of salt

Lemon wedges
Powdered sugar

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs and milk. Add the flours and salt and whisk the batter until it is smooth.
  3. Place butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet and place skillet in oven to melt the butter. Once the butter is melted (about 5 minutes), remove the skillet and swirl the butter around to make sure the pan is coated. Pour in the batter and place skillet back in the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until puffed up and browned on the edges. 
  4. Remove your Dutch Baby from the oven! It will deflate don't freak out! Cut it into 4 pieces and serve, squeezing lemon juice onto each serving and then sprinkling with powdered sugar! 
*You can also use 1/2 c. all-purpose gluten free flour instead of the combo I used...or regular all-purpose flour as far as that goes! 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Thai Tuesday!

True confessions: I have the constant urge to ditch all of life's responsibilities jump on the nearest plane or steamer ship and head off to a great adventure!!! Sadly my pocketbook does not allow for this kind of instead I took an afternoon to read through some of my more exotic cookbooks in the hopes of having the scent of a foreign land fill the air! As I cracked open The Original Thai Cookbook by Jennifer Brennan I had no idea what I was in for! It was like I was reading a letter from a dear friend who had invited me on their summer vacation and was enticing me with tales of far away places! It was a dream come true!!!! I was whisked away to a land of noodle vendors, where the sweet scent of lemongrass drifted through the evening air and I knew I needed to whip up a Thai feast! I concocted a menu, after liberally marking recipes I wanted to make, and decided on the following: Kao Dom Gai (Chicken & Rice Soup), Pra Ram Long Song (Braised Beef & Spinach), Pad Woon Sen (Fried Cellophane Noodles) and Kanom Kluk (Coconut Pancakes). Everything was delicious but the winner of the savory dishes was the Pad Woon Sen!!!! Salty, crispy, garlicky with a hint of fish...HOLY MOLY was it amazing!!! Below is the recipe for the Pad Woon Sen...but if you want the other recipes you'll have to hit up your local used book store to find a copy of this amazing cookbook!!!  Now go have an adventure!

The book that started it all!  

Pad Woon Sen

The recipe:

3 tbsp vegetable oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped (I put in 10...but who's counting?!)
1 1/2 c. raw shrimp (can use chicken or beef)
8 oz. cellophane noodles (bean thread noodles), soaked in hot water until soft, drained and cut into 3" pieces
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp ground black pepper
4 tbsp roasted peanuts, coarsely pounded
1 c. bean sprouts
1 heart of celery (4 inches of the bottom of a stalk of celery works great!), finely chopped
1 tbsp cilantro leaves, chopped

In a wok, heat the oil and fry the garlic until golden. Add the shrimp and cook until just turned pink. Place in the noodles, stirring and tossing. Make a hole in the center of the mixture and pour in the eggs. Slowly stir the eggs until set and the break and mix them with the noodles. Season with fish sauce and pepper. Stir in peanuts, bean sprouts and celery and cook until heated through. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve. 

Additional ideas: you can also add in shredded carrots and sliced tomatoes for more vegetable goodness! This recipe lends itself to additions of deliciousness! 

Serves 4

Sunday, June 29, 2014

It's Always Baking Season!

I don't know about you, but my garden is overflowing with zucchini. I've had a giant one hanging out in my kitchen for a couple days now, as well as a couple of super ripe bananas, so I decided to put them to good use! Even though it's a million degrees outside I heated up the oven and busted out my favorite whisk (yes...I have a favorite one) and made some amazing gluten-free zucchini banana bread! It's heavenly!

Gluten-Free Zucchini Banana Bread
Makes 2 loaves

270 grams superfine white rice flour
93 grams arrowroot (or potato starch)
45 grams tapioca starch
12 grams xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 c granulated sugar
1 c packed dark brown sugar
2.5 c grated zucchini
3 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
2 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat your oven to 325F. Grease two standard 9-by-5-inch loaf pans and set them aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients (rice flour through brown sugar) and whisk to combine , working out any lumps. In a separate medium bowl, combine the zucchini, eggs, bananas, vegetable oil and vanilla, stirring well.  Create a well in the center of the flour mixture, and pour in the zucchini mixture. Mix with a spatula to combine.
  3. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans, smoothing the tops with a wet spatula (if you want to be fancy.) Place loaf pans in the center of the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of each load comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes in the pans. Remove from the pans and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Eat Your Greens: DIY Salad Table

Look works! 

The weather in California has been ridiculous this year! HOT, HOT, HOT, HOT, and more HOT! It has brought spring on super early and I had this idea to not only build a compost bin, but to make my very own salad table. One of my cool friends built one and it looked like a genius idea! I did some research, found one that I liked the most, and adapted the directions to meet my needs. Here is your very own DIY tutorial to build a delicious salad table. Happy building everyone!

1. Gather your supplies:
  • 7- 2x4x96 untreated lumber
  • 4- 1x7x60 boards for shelves
  • 4- 2in. locking swivel casters 
  • 1 box of 2 1/2-inch galvanized deck screws
  • Staple gun and 1/2-inch staples
  • 3-by-5-foot roll of aluminum window screening
  • 3-by-5-foot roll of 1/2-inch mesh hardware cloth (galvanized wire mesh, comes in a roll)
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Square (if you're feeling super exact!)
  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Circular saw
  • Scissors 
  • Tin snips
  • 1 pound of 1-inch roofing nails (totally optional...I didn't use any except for holding the cute labels on!)
  • Seeds for 12 rows of lettuces, about 8 packets
  • 1- 2.5 cu feet bag of potting soil
  • Paint stir stick or yard stick cut to 30 inches 
  • Cute tags to label your greens
2. Cut your wood:

From your 2x4s:
  • Cut 4- 36" pieces (these are the legs)
  • Cut 4- 58" pieces (these are the long sides of the frame)
  • Cut 7- 30" pieces (these are all of your cross pieces)
From the scraps you should have or be able to cut:
(these get attached to the legs and support your top and bottom shelves)
  • 4- 12" pieces
  • 4- 8" pieces
I was a genius and didn't measure before I went and cut my boards in half. There was NO NEED!!!! Leave your 1x7x60 boards whole and make your shelves with them...or get sassy and cut them however you want them! 

3. Make your salad holding shelf:
Just the frame
  • Take two of the 58" two-by-fours and attach them to two 30-inch two-by-fours with 3 galvanized screws. 
  • Attach the interior cross pieces 18 3/4-inches from each end of the long piece, making three equal sections. You now have your basic frame! 

The window mesh and hardware cloth
  • Decide which side of your frame is the prettiest and flip your frame so the pretty side is down. 
  • Pulling the window screen tight as you go, staple it to your frame. Trim excess off. 
  • Center the hardware cloth, pull it tight and staple it to the bottom of the frame. Trim off any extra with the tin snips (I totally wore gloves for this part because this stuff can rip your skin up!) Oh...and you may notice that my hardware cloth is smaller than my frame...that's because I used leftovers that were 2 feet wide, not 3 feet wide! This worked fine but your mini-farm will have more support if you get the 3 feet wide stuff! 
4. Make some legs:
  • Go get your rad leg pieces (36") and your shelf support pieces (12" and 8" pieces).
  • Attach the 8" pieces, matching the ends of the piece with the leg piece. I just used two screws to attach them. This is the bottom end of your leg and your bottom shelf is gonna sit nicely on top of this piece!

  • Next up your gonna attach the 12" pieces to the top end of the leg. I used a spare 2x4 to help me space it so that the salad shelf sits right on top of this piece. Once again, I used 2 screws to attach the two pieces together. Check it out! 

  • Next up...casters! Flip your legs so that you can attach the casters to the bottom end. You might want to use an extender on your drill because the dang caster kept getting in my way! 
  • Do this for all 4 legs!!!! And take a dance break!!!
Dancing legs! 

5. Attaching the legs:
You may need to recruit a second pair of hands at this point. I went out to my sidewalk and looked up and down the street. My neighbor was out in his yard and I recruited him to help with the cause! He just held stuff and I did all the hard stuff! 
  • Keeping your salad tray upside-down, attach each leg to each corner with 3 screws. Make sure that the legs are flush with the sides of the tray. 

  • Flip the table right side up and admire your handy work! 
  • Let your neighbor go home for a while and drink a glass of water! 
6. It's time to make the storage shelf! 
  • Grab the two remaining 58" 2x4's and and the three 30" 2x4's
  • Take the 58" two-by-fours and attach them to two 30-inch two-by-fours with 3 galvanized screws. Then attach the final 30" piece in the center of the frame. 
  • Attach your shelf wood onto the frame 
  • Go back out to your sidewalk and find a neighbor to help you lift the shelf onto your table. I nearly had a hernia trying to lift mine by myself! It was a great moment in time! 
  • Attach the shelf to the legs. You may need to have your neighbor help you push the legs to make it all square up...not saying that I had to do this...but...
By this point in time I was exhausted and sunburnt! I needed a full on craft break! I busted out my label supplies and made these cute tags to add to my table:
These are little wood pieces I bought from Joann's, black acrylic paint applied with a sponge brush and white paint pen. TADA...CUTE TAGS!!!!

8. Let the planting begin! 
  • Divide your potting soil equally between the three sections
  • Using either the paint stir stick or yard stick, create 4 furrows in each section
  • Sprinkle your seeds in each furrow. I used about a packet for each 1.5 rows 
  • Push the dirt over the seeds so that they are fully covered
  • Label your rows with whatever cute labels you decided to use
  • Using the mist or shower setting on your hose, gently water your seeds. Make sure that the dirt is thoroughly soaked but don't blast the dirt so that the seeds go flying out before they have a chance to grow! 
  • Water about every 3 days
  • Lettuce will be ready to trim in about 30 days! 

And now you are ready to eat your greens like a pro!!!! 

If you like videos...check this out Salad Table Video