Category Archives: Food

Easy Simple Rice Patties or Rice Cakes

Rice is a staple of many diets around the world. Now, with many Americans becoming sensitive or intolerant to gluten, rice dishes are increasing in popularity in the West. In an effort to develop something simple, like a bread substitute to have with a meal, or a ready-to-go easy snack, I developed this simple, easy to make, rice patty. The following is a video showing how to make them. See below the video for the recipe!

To make the rice patties, you will need cooked short grain rice of your choice. Leftover rice that was refrigerated, or freshly cooked rice may be used…

Simple Rice Patties
Makes about 12

1 cup short grain rice of choice (uncooked)
2 cups water (or amount needed according to package directions)
Salt and butter to taste, optional

Cook the rice according to package directions, adding salt and butter if desired. Allow the rice to cool just a little so you can work with it with your hands.

Form the patties: Measure out 1/4 to 1/3 cup of cooked rice and place the rice in a ring about 2-1/2 to 2-3/4 inches in diameter. With a spoon, compress the rice into the ring, then lift the ring away from the formed patty.

If you don’t have a ring, you could use a small can with both top and bottom removed. Alternatively, you could form the patties with your hands placing the sticky rice between two sheets of plastic wrap (it may be too sticky to form the patties with your bare hands).

With a small spatula, remove the formed patty to the appropriate tray or sheet, according to how they will be cooked. Place the formed patties either on a plate or tray (if sauteing them on the stove), on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (if baking them in the oven), or on a fruit leather tray (if baking them in your dehydrator). Bake or saute according to directions below.

To cook them on the stove: Preheat a nonstick frying pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add a little oil of your choice and briefly allow the oil to heat up. With a small spatula, carefully place the patties into the frying pan in the hot oil. Allow them to cook until the first side is golden brown. Carefully turn them over and allow the second side to brown. Then remove them to a serving tray and enjoy! If desired, they may be placed on paper towels to soak up any excess oil.

To bake them in a dehydrator: Place the formed patties on the fruit leather trays of your dehydrator. Bake at 145F for one hour, or until dry to the touch. Turn the patties over and continue cooking for another hour at the same temperature, until dry to the touch. The goal is to have them dry to the touch and easy to handle, but still moist inside. They should not be completely dried out in the process.

To bake them in your oven: Preheat your oven to its lowest temperature. Place the baking sheet with the formed patties on parchment paper on a rack in the middle of your oven. Allow them to bake until dry to the touch. Flip the patties over and continue baking them until the second side is dry to the touch. They should not be completely dried out…there should be moisture inside. The baking time will vary according to the temperature of your oven, so they will need to be monitored closely when baking these for the first time to determine the baking time needed with your specific oven.

Store your cooked patties in a covered container in the refrigerator. Enjoy them within 4 days.

Enjoy them as a bread substitute with a meal or a simple snack. They can be topped with softened butter, and eaten like that or even sprinkled with some herbs, or topped with a little nut butter and some jam or jelly, a little hummus, or eaten just plain. Use your imagination!

See also my original videos on how to make these delicious rice patties…

EASY Way to Dry Fresh Herbs

Many times we can end up with a bunch of fresh herbs, whether we grew them or not. Maybe a neighbor shared them. Maybe we bought them at the grocery store as a needed ingredient for some new recipe. Then we find ourselves with extra herbs, not knowing quite what to do with them. Sound familiar?

Well, drying fresh herbs doesn’t need to be hard. Nor do you need special equipment. Yes, it may be nice to dry them in a dehydrator, but not everyone owns one and it certainly isn’t worth buying one just to dry a few herbs! Some people suggest tying them by the stems and hanging them upside down to dry. That’s a tried and true time-honored method of drying herbs. However, even THAT can present itself with issues. What if you have no place to hang them? What if you have a cat that loves to attack them? What if the leaves fall off and make a mess on the floor?

Well, there’s an even easier way to dry those extra herbs. Simply wash them and pat them dry (if they have not already been washed). Then place them in a clean paper bag, stems and all. Leave the bag “puffed out” and fold over the top a couple times to keep the contents inside. Lay it on its side in a non-humid environment (someplace other than the kitchen or bathroom…who would want to dry food in a bathroom??). Next, a couple times a day (morning and evening), give the bag a little shake and turn it over. In a matter of days, your herbs will be beautifully dried. To remove the leaves from the stems, simply lightly crush them in your hands and remove the stems from there. Store the dried leaves in an air-tight covered container and use as you would any dried herb. It’s THAT simple!

The time it takes to dry your herbs will depend upon variables, such as the type of herb, the amount to be dried, the size of the bag, and the humidity in the environment. Nevertheless, they WILL dry, given a little time. AND this method involves no special equipment, no electricity, no mess to clean up during the process, no nails or hooks to hang them on. Just a paper bag! Note: Be sure it’s a paper bag, and not a plastic bag. The paper is needed for air flow in the drying process.

Below is a link to a video I produced showing how to do this. Enjoy!

I hope this helps 🙂
Judi

NEW Use for Juice Pulp…Salad Sprinkles

Many people are making fresh fruit and vegetable juice these days. And the trend is growing in popularity for good reason. It’s a GREAT way to add vital nutrients to your diet by increasing your consumption of those highly valued vegetables and fruit. But all that juicing leaves one with the question…What do I do with all this extracted pulp??

There are many websites, blog posts, and YouTube videos online showing the usual uses for the pulp: adding it to the compost pile, or make pulp crackers or vegetable broth. Those are all great ing suggestions and well worth trying. But I came up with yet another way to use the pulp that I haven’t seen before. Why not dehydrate it and use it for salad sprinkles?

Using the pulp for a salad sprinkle will not only add a little crunch to your salad and the flavored essence of the juiced vegetable or fruit, but it also adds the highly prized and much needed fiber that so many Western diets are lacking!

The pulp can be dehydrated and used just as it is…plain. OR, you could add any variety of herbs and spices that you want to flavor it your way according to your own liking. The flavoring options are limited only to your imagination.

Storing your salad sprinkles is simple. Just place them in an air-tight container and keep it somewhere where you won’t forget about it when it’s time to make a salad. Yes, placing an oxygen absorber in the container would also help to keep your sprinkles fresh, but if they’re used regularly, you’ll go through them quickly, so long-term storage probably won’t happen. Vacuum-sealing the container seems to be a waste of time and effort if you’ll be using the sprinkles regularly, so that shouldn’t be a concern. So, store them as you would homemade croutons and you should be good!

I created a video on making and storing dehydrated pulp to be used as salad sprinkles. Click the link below to view the video. Enjoy!

I hope this helps 🙂
Judi

Regrow Celery From the Stump

Want more celery for free? Don’t throw the end away after cutting off the stalks! Regrowing celery is very simple and a fun project for all, especially for children.

Simply remove the bottom end of a bunch of celery, cutting about one inch up from the bottom. Place the cut off piece, bottom side down, in a shallow tray with about 1/2 inch of water in it. Place the tray in a sunny location or under bright lights. It will begin to regrow from the center in very little time, usually ranging from overnight to up to two days.

After some time, your celery should sprout roots. With that, it will be very thirsty, so monitor the water level daily to be sure it doesn’t run dry. Also, wash the container now and then to prevent algae from growing, which would not be healthy for the plant.

After roots are established, many people will plant their new celery plant in their garden, allowing it to grow much larger. If you choose to keep it indoors and in water, it would be best to feed it with some plant food to support its growth. The celery can be harvested whenever you want.

It’s fun and rewarding to see food grow from a scrap item that would have been thrown away. This is a wonderful activity for children to help teach them where food comes from and hopefully inspire them to do a little gardening of their own sometime.

The following is a video demonstration of how to regrow celery

Enjoy!
Judi

Making Kombucha with Less Sugar

I have made fermented food products for many years, especially yogurt. I raised my children on homemade yogurt and the whole family ate it on a regular basis. So, I’m familiar with culturing foods.

I recently got introduced to kombucha and have realized the value in it for its probiotic qualities. I purchased a scoby and my kombucha has been thriving for a good while now and I’ve been drinking it everyday! Yum!

I’ve seen many posts online with the question about making kombucha with less sugar. Those questions are usually answered with scaled down recipes, but still calling for the same ratio of water to sugar to tea bags. To me, that’s not answering the question. Well…here’s your answer!

Since I drink it daily (maybe about a cup to 1-1/2 cups a day), I thought I’d try less sugar. It always seemed to me that 1 cup of sugar per gallon of water (the standard recipe) was more sugar than would be truly needed. NOTE that the standard recipe may be right IF your gallon batch of kombucha lasts a month or more, without fresh tea being added, as in a continual brew. 

So…to my continual brew of kombucha (this is plain kombucha, not the soda pop type with fruit juice added) I started using HALF the amount of sugar that the original recipe calls for. I’ve been doing this now for a couple weeks and my scobies (note that’s plural) are multiplying and thriving in my jar. Even the original scoby is still alive and thriving. They seem to be extremely happy, even though the sugar content of the brew has been reduced. My kombucha tastes perfectly fine to me and I feel good that it has less sugar in it.

I am adding freshly made tea/sugar mixture to the jar as needed, maybe 4 cups every few days with the reduced sugar and I have noticed nothing negative happening in the jar. The taste is the same, the scobies are multiplying and thriving, and all is well.

SO…For those of you who want to subject yourself to less sugar in your kombucha, it appears that HALF the recommended amount of sugar is fine as long as you continue to add to the batch as you drink it. Note that this recommendation is for plain kombucha. It is not the brewed drink made with fruit juice and double fermented, yielding a soda pop-like beverage. I suspect it may work well with that recipe too since fruit juice has naturally occurring sugar in it, but I have not tried it, so I cannot guarantee it will work.

Here is the ratio of ingredients that I now use:

1 gallon (16 cups ) filtered water : 8 black tea bags : 1/2 cup sugar
8 cups filtered water : 4 black tea bags : 1/4 cup sugar
4 cups filtered water : 2 black tea bags : 2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups filtered water : 1 black tea bag : 1 tablespoon sugar

I am not including the complete directions here on how to make kombucha. I’m assuming the reader already knows how to brew it. If not, please just do an internet search for how to make kombucha and you’ll find countless sites with complete directions online. Simply cut the recommended amount of sugar in half and your brew should be just fine and you’ll consume less sugar along the way. YES, the sugar is needed for the culture, but the ratio of 1 cup per gallon is more than is needed for the culture to thrive.

Happy kombucha making!
Judi

Overcharged on Produce at Walmart in Carroll, Iowa

I don’t normally write such a post, but this one is warranted. We shopped at the Walmart store in Carroll, Iowa yesterday (October 29, 2016). We eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, so of course, I purchased a number of items that needed to be weighed at the register.

When checking out, I didn’t watch the prices as the cashier rang up our items (my mistake). It wasn’t until this morning that I actually looked at our receipt. What really caught my eye was the fact that I saw the price for the ONE honey crisp apple that I bought. I’ve never tried one and since they’re expensive, I just bought one to try. I noticed that the ONE apple cost $3.60. “What??” I yelped! I looked at the weight and according to the receipt that one apple weighed 1.35 lbs. I have an accurate digital kitchen scale. I weighed the apple and it weighed less than 8 ounces. Hence, I was charged more than double what I should have been for that one apple. (Note that at the store, I put the apple was in one of those produce lightweight plastic bags that you can grab from a dispenser, which I had removed after bringing the food home. So the “tare” weight was not added in, but there’s NO way that little plastic bag weighed over 8 ounces. I’m sure it weighed way less than an ounce.)

Then I got out the eggplant that I purchased and have not yet cut in any way. It too rang up for a lot more weight and cost than it should have. Then I checked other items that we had not used, and they ALL weighed more on the receipt than they actually did…way more…sometimes double the weight or more.

I called the store and spoke with someone in customer service. She said they check their register scales every other day. She got the register number from my receipt and said she would go check the scale right away.

This may be an innocent problem, but I’ve heard of such schemes in the past (where stores alter their scales to show items weighing more than they actually do) and I know from reading online that the law has cracked down on such things. I don’t know if this was deliberate or not, but knowing how Walmart does their best to make as much money as they can, any way they can, I suspect that they might deliberately calibrate their scales so they overcharge customers on items that must be weighed.

So…it’s time for all of us to check this out and make it known to any store that overcharges that you caught them in the act. We could go back to that store and easily prove our point by carrying the items back to have them reweighed. However, we live in a different town and that store is about 30 minutes drive from here (country driving, so we’re talking about 30 miles one way). If I lived closer, I’d carry the produce back and have customer service weigh them again and prove my point. I’m estimating I was overcharged $10 to $15 or more (total) on the assortment of produce I purchased that had to be weighed. Because of the cost in gasoline and time factor in going back to the store, I’m opting to make this event known to the public this way, and absorbing the loss rather than driving back to the store. I doubt I’ll ever purchase anything that must be weighed at that store again. AND I’ll watch prices on items as they’re rung up at any store I shop in from now on.

I hope this helps you as a reader in some way, if nothing more than making you aware that such things can and do happen and that we should ALL watch the monitor as items are being rung up at any cash register. As I’ve learned, it pays to watch.

Hot Cross Buns (Bakery Recipe)

Hot Cross Buns (Bakery Recipe)

There were a few holidays where I would literally stay up all night baking to meet orders due to be picked up the next day. Easter was one of those holidays. I had countless orders for hot cross buns. If you’ve never tried these rolls, you’re missing something! The recipe is below, followed by a video demonstrating how I make them.

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

Enjoy!
Judi

Hot Cross Buns
Makes 12 Buns

1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2 oz (4 Tbsp) butter

15 oz (3 cups) all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 oz (2-1/4 tsp) RapidRise yeast1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried lemon peel
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

2 large eggs
1/2 cup dried currants
1/4 cup sweetened dried pineapple, finely chopped

1 egg white, beaten
2 Tbsp water

Vanilla Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 to 1-1/2 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a saucepan, heat milk, water and butter to 120-130°F.

Meanwhile, place flour, sugar, yeast, salt, lemon peel and nutmeg in a mixer bowl; combine dry ingredients. Add warmed liquid mixture and eggs to flour mixture. Stir to combine ingredients. Add currants and chopped dried pineapple. Mix with stand mixer (or hand knead) on low to medium-low speed for 8 to 10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Scrape sides of bowl, coat dough with nonstick spray, cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

On a lightly floured board, with a knife, cut dough into 12 equal size pieces. Roll dough pieces into balls and place them in a greased 9×13″ baking pan. Place on the rack in the middle of an oven that was warmed by only the light bulb and a pan of boiling water placed on the bottom rack (or cover the pan and allow the buns to rise in a warm place of choice). Allow buns to rise for about 30 minutes, until doubled in size.

Brush rolls with a mixture of one beaten egg white and 2 tablespoons of water. Bake at 350°F for 15 to 18 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Pipe a cross on each bun with vanilla glaze.

To Make Vanilla Glaze
Combine glaze ingredients in a small bowl, adding only a small amount of milk at a time. Add enough milk to make it a piping consistency. Adjust consistency if needed by adding more milk (if too thick) or powdered sugar (if too thin). Place in a piping bag with a small round tip and pipe a cross (or other design, if desired) onto buns.

Build a Better Salad

Build A Better Salad

We love salads…BIG salads. Whole meal salads are what I’m referring to here. These are complete meals in a bowl and not just with a little lettuce, tomato and cheese. These salads are filled with assorted vegetables, protein sources, and fruit. What’s even better is the fact that they are totally flexible in what is put in them, so they can be tailored to individual likes and dislikes as well as what’s available at the moment. These salads are better (to us) than any salad we can get in a restaurant because they’re made the way WE like them, with ingredients WE prefer! You too can build a better salad, YOUR way. The following are the basics of how I build a better salad…

Start with a lettuce bed of mixed greens. Use a mixture of assorted greens as the foundation of your salad. Use whatever you can get and mix them up…iceberg, Romaine, green and/or red leaf lettuces, arugula, baby kale, spring mix, spinach, red or green cabbage, etc. Get creative!

Add a big assortment of fresh veggies. Again, get creative. Use what you have available to you and don’t be afraid to try something new. Suggestions include: cucumber, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini squash, celery, red, green, and/or yellow bell pepper, fresh broccoli and/or cauliflower, lightly steamed (and cooled) asparagus, jicama, red or yellow onion, scallions, chives, minced garlic, lightly steamed (and cooled) green beans, roasted (and cooled) Brussels sprouts… Explore the produce isle of your favorite grocery store and let your imagine run wild!

Add a protein source (or two…or three). I always add thawed frozen green peas to our salads. They make a nice addition to any green salad and are packed full of protein. They’re for starters. From there, I add garbanzo beans (to my salad), diced cheese, assorted nuts of choice, and sometimes sliced hard boiled egg. If you’re a fan of meats in your salads, thinly sliced grilled steak or chicken breast would be a flavorful addition. Grilled salmon would be a prized addition, too. Whether you add meat or not, there are plenty of options to choose from so that your salad will provide enough protein to meet anyone’s needs.

Build a Better Salad

Build a Better Salad

Add fruit for color, sweetness and eye candy. We started adding fruit to our meal salads after my husband returned from a trip to Hawaii with his college jazz band. He found that restaurants there added fruit to their salads and he really enjoyed it. Thanks Hawaii! Good fruits to include are fresh or canned pineapple, chopped fresh apple, blueberries, strawberries, tangerine (Clementine) sections, grapes (seedless would be preferred). Even diced pear would make a good addition! Try fresh raspberries for added sweet/tang!

Dress your salad…but don’t overdo it. Dressings are added to salads for flavor, moisture and binding properties. The problem with dressings is that many people simply add too much. This can make salads unhealthful to eat. The veggies and fruit are not the culprits. It’s the dressing. The above salad suggestions would go well with just about any dressing you choose. Just strive to go light on the dressing and still enjoy the wonderful flavors of the vegetables, fruits, and protein foods you used to construct your meal. If you can’t taste the other components, then you have too much dressing. Make it your goal to avoid using too much dressing. This will keep your salads healthful and calorie-controlled.

We usually use oil and vinegar as our salad dressing. The ratio will vary according to individual tastes, but a general rule of thumb is 2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. A lot of flavor variation can be obtained by using different vinegars at different times: red wine, apple cider, tarragon, raspberry, and rice vinegars all lend different flavors to a salad, so experiment. Added herbs can also bring a new flavor to your salad. Suggestions include: oregano, dill, parsley, and tarragon (used individually, not all in the same salad). Get creative!

Here’s a video showing the construction of the salads in the featured photo. Enjoy! Judi

 

Homemade Marinara Sauce

Homemade Marinara / Spaghetti / Tomato Sauce

My mother was a first generation American. Both of her parents were from Italy. Since I started cooking at a very early age, she taught me how to make homemade marinara / spaghetti / tomato sauce (whatever you want to call it) when I was in elementary school. Really! After all these years I had not put this recipe in a written form. I thought it was about time I did that, if for no other reason than to pass it along to my children. So, lucky you! You get to share in this recipe too!

Below is the recipe, followed by a video where I demonstrate making it. Of course, it’s very flexible with the seasonings. Feel free to adjust to your taste.

Enjoy!
Judi

Homemade Tomato / Marinara / Spaghetti Sauce
Makes About 2-1/2 Quarts
(No worries…freeze the extra in small containers)

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tsp dried garlic powder)
1/2 medium onion, chopped (or 1 to 2 Tbsp dried minced onion)
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, peeled, left whole or finely grated (recommended, but optional)
2 (28 oz) cans crushed or diced tomatoes
1 (12 oz) can tomato paste
1 (12 oz) can water (or more if needed)
1 tsp granulated sugar
1-1/2  to 2 tsp dried basil
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1 Bay leaf
1/4 tsp black pepper
Salt to taste

Preheat a large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and vegetables (garlic, onion, bell pepper, celery, and carrot). Stir and saute the vegetables until they start to soften. Add the remaining ingredients; stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low to low and cover the pot. Allow sauce to simmer gently for about 2 hours or more if you want a thicker sauce. Stir sauce occasionally as it cooks so it does not burn on the bottom. Taste after 30 minutes and adjust seasonings, if desired. Continue cooking until sauce is thick and flavors are blended well. Serve with pasta, stuffed cabbage or peppers, chicken cacciatore, Swiss steak, and use on pizza, or in any dish calling for a tomato-based sauce. Cool extra sauce and freeze in small containers, enough for one meal at a time.

Note: If you want to add ground beef or sausage to this sauce, brown the meat in the pan you plan to cook the sauce in. Drain excess fat and proceed as directed. If a little fat is left in the pan, you can omit the olive oil.

If you want to add meat balls to the sauce, it is best to prepare the meat balls and precook them before adding them to the sauce. This avoids having excessive fat in the sauce. Add them to the sauce after combining all ingredients. Allow the meat to simmer in the sauce as it cooks.

When time is short, this sauce cooks well in a slow cooker. Simply place all ingredients in the slow cooker early in the day, and cook on low until supper time. You’ll have homemade sauce, ready to go!

Traditional Apple Pie (Bakery Recipe)

Traditional Apple Pie (Bakery Recipe)

Pie season is here! Apples have fallen off the trees and the pumpkins have been picked. Snow will be falling soon, and ovens will be hot, filling homes with delightful aromas of fresh baked goods, casseroles, breads, and other delicious goodies.

So, it’s time to share the recipe I used at my bakery for a traditional apple pie. I sold literally hundreds of these pies over the years and had MANY orders for them at Thanksgiving. The recipe is below, followed by a video showing how I make the pie. Some extra tips are also included in the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

Traditional Apple Pie (My Bakery Recipe)
Makes 1 Pie

6 to 8 tart apples, peeled, cored, sliced
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp butter
Prepared pastry for one 9″ 2-crust pie

In a medium bowl, combine apples, sugar, cinnamon and flour. Pour into a crust-lined pie pan. Dot with butter. Place top crust over pie and cut slits in top crust. Flute edges. Bake at 375°F for 1 hour, until bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool 1 to 2 hours to set up before cutting. Refrigerate if pie will not be eaten right away.

*Note: If you prefer very tender fruit filling, the apples may be cooked briefly before being used in the pie filling.