Food to me is sacred. After all, we can’t live without it, right? Also, grocery prices have slowly gone up to the point that food runs are getting almost out of sight. It’s downright expensive. So with that, I can’t stand to waste anything! Nothing!! If I can find a use for some morsel of food, I try to save it if I possibly can.
I love to eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Bell peppers are on my “regular” list of groceries to buy. However, they’re pretty expensive considering how much you get out of one little pepper. So, it’s best not to waste any of it, if at all possible.
I found a way to easily cut bell peppers with NO waste and very little, if any mess from the seeds going all over the place. I demonstrated how to cut them in a YouTube video recently. It’s short and to the point. Anyone can cut a pepper this way and there TRULY is no waste of any edible part of the pepper. Give it a try when you can and let me know your comments!
Brussels sprouts are one of those vegetables that many people shy away from because of the bitterness that’s often associated with them. We usually have memories of mom or grandma overcooking them in a pot full of water. They came out mushy and bitter, and were served with a heavy layer of butter to disguise the taste. They just weren’t enjoyable. Yet, we were told how healthful they were to eat, so we suffered through the experience. I too have such memories. Well, we’re STILL told how healthful they are, yet it’s hard to get past those memories. I’m a nutritionist and I love to cook, so I decided to experiment to see if I could make them more palatable. I found a way to cook them without that awful bitterness.
The secret is simple…WATER. Water is what brings out the bitter compounds. Hence, cook with little to no water and yippee (!)…you have Brussels sprouts that actually taste good! I enjoy sauteing vegetables and prefer that method over roasting. First, it’s faster. Most people have little time today to spend in the kitchen waiting for food to cook. Secondly, there’s less chance of them burning since you’re cooking at a lower temperature, and you’re also likely to watch them more closely. Vegetable oils are more healthful the less they’re heated. So, for those reasons I’m sold on pan sauteing rather than roasting vegetables.
After working with fresh Brussels sprouts a number of times, I came up with a winning method that results in delicious sprouts without bitterness. The combination of seasonings tastes good and results in healthful Brussels sprouts that are fast and easy to prepare. I made a video to show you how simple it is. And…there’s NO bitterness! Check it out below. Enjoy! Judi
In my quest to expand my horizons into the gluten-free world, I developed this recipe for a gluten free/yeast free flatbread. I’m calling it “flatbread” for lack of a better term. Actually, it’s more like a cross between a flatbread and a focaccia bread. It’s not truly either, but somewhere in between. It’s a very low-rising bread that is baked in either an 8×8 pan (half recipe) or 9×13 pan (full recipe) and ends up about 1/2″ thick, almost like a slice of bread. Hence, after being sliced into whatever size square or rectangle you want, this bread makes a good sandwich bread or one on which to spread your favorite goo or sandwich filling and enjoy. It is even good plain! I’m enjoying it and my husband has even dared to try a slice. He did so without complaining, so it passed the “husband test.” Yippee! The recipe is in a .pdf downloadable form on my website at HandMadeInIowa.com. (Look for the “GF Flatbread” recipe.) Or, you can opt to view it below. I’ve also recorded a YouTube video to show how it comes out. See below.
Let me know if you give this a try! I’d love to read your comments. Enjoy, Judi
Flatbread (Gluten and Yeast Free) Makes One 9×13 Pan
292 grams gluten-free flour blend of your choice*
1 tsp psyllium husk powder*
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp warm water
1/4 cup vegetable oil of choice
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients; set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the liquid ingredients. Add liquid mix to the flour mixture. Stir well until smooth. Pour batter into a greased 9×13″ baking pan. Allow batter to rest as oven preheats, about 10 minutes. If needed, the top of the batter may be smoothed out with wet fingers.
Preheat oven to 375F. Bake about 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack. Slice and serve. Wrap leftover bread air-tight. May be stored in freezer for extended preservation.
*The flour blend used in developing this recipe consists of the following:
127 grams sorghum flour
60 grams millet flour
63 grams white rice flour
42 grams tapioca flour
Note that the flour blend does not have xanthan gum, nor any binder added. That is why the psyllium husk powder has been added to the recipe. If your flour blend has xanthan gum in it, you may omit the psyllium husk powder. If your blend does not have xanthan gum in it and you do not want to use the psyllium husk powder, feel free to use 1 teaspoon (or equivalent) of whatever binder you prefer to use.
Spaghetti Squash with Italian Vegetables and Herbs
I’ve always been intrigued by spaghetti squash. It’s such an interesting vegetable! In the raw state, except perhaps for the color, the flesh looks pretty much like any other type of hard squash. But when it’s cooked, it forms small spaghetti-like strands that can easily be flaked off with a fork. It’s remarkable and oh-so-versatile! It can be served in a number of ways, varying from spaghetti-type dishes to standard vegetable fare. What a veggie.
I felt the urge to make spaghetti squash with sauteed veggies, so hence, this new recipe! I bought a small one, since I’m only feeding myself and my husband. We DO certainly enjoy leftovers, but I don’t want to eat them for a week, so this recipe was built around a very small spaghetti squash. The other vegetables and herbs can easily be increased if you’re working with a larger squash. Feel free to cook the squash any way you want. I roasted it and made a video along the way (see below). Also, the full recipe can be downloaded in a .pdf file from my website HandMadeInIowa.com. Check it out! Let me know if you give this a try and send me comments below! Judi
Spaghetti Squash with Italian Vegetables and Herbs Makes About 4 Side Dish Servings
1 small spaghetti squash
Extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 large Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 cup frozen Italian vegetables, thawed and cut into bite-size pieces
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese, optional
Cook the spaghetti squash any way you prefer. To roast it, wash the squash, cut the stem end off, then cut it from end to end. Remove the seeds and cover each piece entirely with a light coating of olive oil. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and roast at 400F until fork tender, roughly 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before removing the strands with a fork. Set strands aside.
Warm a skillet over medium heat. Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and saute the garlic and onion until they start to get soft. Add the diced tomatoes, thawed vegetables and seasonings (except the cheese). Saute until vegetables are slightly fork-tender, then add the strands of squash and saute until the squash has reheated. Serve topped with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Delicious Moist Cinnamon Muffins Makes about 12 Muffins
5 oz (1 cup) whole wheat flour
5 oz (1 cup) all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped dried dates
1/4 cup water
1-1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil of choice
1/4 cup milk of choice
1 Tbsp flax meal
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 oz (1/2 Tbsp) melted butter
Prepare crumb topping: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix until it is the texture of sand; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground cinnamon; set aside.
Prepare liquid ingredients: In a medium bowl, cover the dates with 1/4 cup boiling water and allow them to rest until the water has been absorbed. OR use tap water and place the bowl in the microwave on high for about 1 minute, or until the dates are mushy and most or all of the water has been absorbed. Do not drain any excess water. Add the remaining liquid ingredients to the rehydrated dates and stir to combine. Add liquid ingredients to dry mix and mix until dry ingredients are moistened.
Portion batter into greased muffin tins. Sprinkle with topping mixture. Bake at 375F for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then remove from pan and enjoy or allow them to cool completely on a wire rack.
These muffins are truly delicious and impart far less “guilt” than the standard fare. Let me know if you try them! Check out the video below to see how they’re made. Judi
I recently had a request to make a video showing how to roast frozen vegetables. Interestingly, I hadn’t thought of doing that before, so the idea grabbed me and I quickly acted on it! I bought an assortment of frozen vegetables (yesterday), most of which will be subjects in soon-to-be-created videos. I started with showing the basics of roasting frozen vegetables. These basic principles can be applied to whatever frozen vegetable you want to roast.
The process is really very simple and fast. In fact, much easier and faster than roasting fresh vegetables. Simply thaw the vegetables in a strainer under running water. Allow them to drain well. Place them on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Cut any large pieces so they’re relatively similar in size. Season them and lightly coat them with oil. Roast at 425F until they’re caramelized to your liking. The trick is not to over bake them! They will roast much faster than fresh veggies, so they should be checked often to prevent burning. The process is REALLY simple! To see how I roasted the cauliflower, watch my video below. Enjoy! Judi
Here’s a spin-off recipe from my Basic Gluten Free Muffins. These muffins have cinnamon added to the batter plus a cinnamon crumb topping. They’re absolutely delicious and really not hard to make. Like my basic muffins, they’re sweetened with dates and have little added oil, yet they’re moist and delicious. The crumb topping does have a little brown sugar in it, but very little compared to the usual fare. FYI…The GF flour blend used in developing this recipe was a mixture of equal parts of millet flour, brown rice flour and white rice flour. No xanthan gum was added to the mixture, nor the recipe. It truly isn’t needed. (ALL of my gluten free recipes will be developed without xanthan gum as it gives me wicked headaches!)
Well…I FINALLY did it! After about 15 trials (really!), I finally hit the right combination of ingredients for a delicious, moist, gluten free muffin that’s sweetened only with fruit and has little added oil. This was no small task, since this professional baker has always baked only with wheat flours in the past. Gluten free baking is an entirely different process and most of what was learned in traditional baking simply went out the window.
I wanted to develop a muffin sweetened only with fruit in response to the recent recommendations to cut our sugar intake. So…does this muffin contain sugar? Yes, but it’s from fruit. Does it contain refined sugar? No. I wanted to create a muffin without refined sugars, and with less oils, to make a lower calorie, more healthful baked treat. Of course, it had to be moist and tasty. I did it.
Also, this is a great foundation recipe that could easily be adapted into countless variations. Nuts, fresh, frozen or dried fruit, other flavorings, and even savory combinations could be added to alter this basic recipe. Use your imagination and try it!
Even better, this muffin was made without xanthan gum, guar gum or any other such additives. It simply doesn’t need it. The pectin in the fruits, the egg white, and flax meal all work together to bind the ingredients so the finished product isn’t crumbly. I learned along the way that xanthan gum and I don’t get along…it gives me serious headaches. Hence, any gluten free baked item I make from here on will be free of xanthan gum.
For your information, the gluten free flour blend I used was my own mixture of 1 part of sorghum flour, 1 part of millet flour, 1/2 part of potato starch, and 1/2 part of arrowroot powder (all by weight, not measure). I don’t think it’s mandatory that your flour blend be identical to mine, as long as it has roughly the same proportion of “heavy,” “light,” and “starchy” ingredients. It contains no xanthan gum, nor any other such ingredient.
Note! If YOUR gluten free flour blend DOES have xanthan gum, feel free to use it in this recipe. I believe it will turn out just fine, even though it really isn’t needed in this muffin.
Delicious Moist Muffin (sweetened w/fruit, less oil)
With the recent recommendations for lower sugar intake, I wanted to develop a muffin sweetened with just fruit. Well, it didn’t take long to get the right balance for great moisture, flavor and texture. The muffin has little added oil, is sweetened with fruit, and even contains whole wheat flour and a little flax! (No worries, everyone with wheat problems…I’m still working on a gluten-free version!) This muffin is sweetened with dates. So…yes, there IS sweetener in them, but it’s not refined sugar. There’s a lot of value in whole food, be it fruit, vegetable, or whole grain. So, this is a delicious, wholesome, yet yummy comfort food. What more could you want?
Years ago, I wanted to explore eating more vegetables with our pasta dishes. I wanted something other than a traditional marinara sauce. We’re not much for Alfredo sauces because most of them are so fat-laden. So, I started experimenting. I came up with this simple recipe that can EASILY be prepared during the time it takes to cook the pasta. You can’t get much faster other than opening a jar! The recipe is made with summer squash–yellow squash and/or zucchini, tomatoes and herbs. It’s very flexible and can easily be increased and adapted to how much squash you want to add. Also, this dish is loaded with herbs and no added salt. It’s VERY flavorful, so salt is not missed at all!