Monday, February 23, 2015

Oatmeal Raisin Banana Cookies

My husband loves oatmeal cookies and when we gave up butter and wheat flour he thought cookies were off the table, so to speak. Much to both of our delight, I invented these cookies that use while rolled oats, raisins, walnuts, bananaand some flour to make the real deal! They are fast, easy, and forgiving!

Oatmeal raisin cookies - with banana

About 2-3 cups of oats (use gluten free if you need that)
1 ripe banana 
1/2-3/4 c flour - I use millet or sorghum or a combination
1/2 -2/3 cup raisins (your taste)
2/3-3/4 c walnuts (your taste)
1.5 Tablespoons maple syrup
1-2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tablespoons almond or soy milk if needed for moisture, but you might not need it if your banana mash to oat ratio is a good texture. You might use only a few drops. 

I add 1Tablespoon amaranth seeds
And 1 Tabkespoon nutritional yeast but neither is necessary

Put the dry ingredients together and mix well. You can mash the banana in a separate bowl with the syrup and almond milk - or mash the banana right into the oat mixture - as you would butter - adding the syrup and whatever milk you need to give that cookie dough texture! Add raisins and nuts and put Tablespoon sized dollops on a silicone baking sheet at 350 degrees F for 15-30 minutes depending on the size of your dollops and how crisp you want them to be. Makes 12-20 cookies. Let cool and crisp up. Outer surface delightfully crunchy with a softer inner texture. We love 'em!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Fresh cranberry relish

Couldn't be easier and goes with do many dishes - especially risotto or creamy style noodle casseroles, or millet loaf! Takes basically 10 minutes to put together and needs to chill for an hour or overnight, so it's great to make the day before. I have let this sit since Thanksgiving so even without a photo, I'm posting it! It's so easy and so good!

Fresh cranberry relish

1 bag of fresh cranberries
1 orange - preferably organic so you can use the peeling
1/2 c pecans or almonds

Use a food processor and grind the berries with quartered, seeded orange with peeling and the nuts until all chopped into a consistent texture. It will be fresh and crunchy. We didn't have the requisite orange so we used the inside of one orange and the peeling of an organic clementine - it was great!

Roasted red pepper tapenade

On a late Fall yoga retreat our cook offered up a side dish she was calling "red pepper walnut pate." I was considering side dishes for Thanksgiving that could accompany our mushroom risotto and remembered that rich roasted pepper flavor and color. It was a big hit alongside every part of dinner, and made our next day lunch tacos super special. Here's what I came up with to please the crowd. This needs to be in the fridge at least an hour or two or overnight. It really was great the second day. Sorry I didn't get any good photos of this -- but next time I make it, I will upload them.

Roasted Red Pepper Walnut Tapenade

3 Roasted Red Peppers - peeled & seeded
3/4 cup of water
2-3 sesame rye crackers or 2 toasted slices of bread
1 clove garlic
3/4 cup toasted walnuts
3/4 tsp cumin
1.5 tsp paprika
1-2 tsp olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3/4 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp Black pepper

Break the toast/crackers into the water in chunks. You will be squeezing the water out of it after it soaks to add substance.

Pulse the garlic and nuts until crumbly. Add the spices and peppers and squeezed bread/crackers. Add the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and pulse until consistent in texture. Put it in a bowl and drizzle oil on top. Chill and enjoy!

Garlic Leek Soup

Cold weather in November and too many hard frosts in a row made it necessary to pull out all the remaining leeks in our small garden. As it turned out, this was way too many leeks to use up fresh so I chopped and froze some for later. I did use a large number of them fresh, along with many heads of homegrown garlic to make this warming, healthy, easy soup. It freezes very well too, and for those who will eat croutons, that dresses things up indeed! We put chopped onion greens on top - or even a drizzle of olive oil if you eat that.

5-6 medium leeks, washed, chopped
4-5 heads of garlic (@25 cloves), peeled & smashed
1 zucchini- chopped
1-2 teaspoons summer savory
1-2tsp dry thyme
1tsp black pepper (add to taste)
1-2 tsp salt (can be added to taste)
3-4 creamy potatoes chopped - Yukon gold or chieftain or other variety 
6-8 cups water 

Prepare leeks - slicing lengthwise to rinse between the layers and get all the dirt out! Cut off the tough dark leaves and save for making some other broth. Chop the more tender white and pale green parts and toss in a large pot with all the peeled garlic, zucchini, potato, herbs, seasonings and water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 20-35 minutes until all is cooked thoroughly. Blenderize or use a wand blender until all is puréed smooth. That's it!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sushi Rice Balls

This began as a savory finger food idea for a celebration at the neighborhood yoga studio where I teach. What could I bring that would be real food, easy to handle without utensils, filling enough to sustain after a 90 minute yoga practice, and with the least likelihood to make dietary or health problems for people? So sushi rice seemed a good start and I wanted to put something yummy inside the rice, making it possible to pop in the mouth and enjoy the flavors as they reveal themselves. I made a terrible mess the first go, and tried again, plus rolled some in Nori sheets and cut them into more normal looking sushi rolls. Not everyone likes seaweed flavor though, so I tried again for rice balls. Here's a plan that will work, with the warning that it really makes sense to keep your hands slightly moist with a water dipping bowl as you form each ball. Give yourself an hour to make these even though the rice only takes 25 minutes, since the rice soaks first while you cut up veggies, and then has to cool as you set up your production line. Once you are making them, it goes fast!

   with edamame, shiitake mushrooms, avocado & pickled ginger (plus unsalted peanuts if you like)

1 3/4 c sushi rice
1.5 cup water
1 tsp sea salt
3 TBLSP natural brown sugar
4 TBLSP rice vinegar

INSIDE (whatever you want...)
1/4 cup shelled cooked edamame (you can buy these frozen and just microwave them for 1 minute)
2 thinly sliced and cut up shiitake mushrooms
1/2 not-to-ripe avocado sliced in little bits
pickled grated or sliced ginger (you can make this yourself or buy a jar of it)
Other Options: bits of peeled seeded cucumber; roasted unsalted peanuts; bits of scallion or carrot or spiced tofu -- anything you like!

1/4 c toasted sesame seeds (you can roast them yourself in a few minutes in a small saute pan)

SAUCE: (all can be adjusted to your taste)
1/3 cup low sodium Tamari
2 TBLSP sweet black vinegar (or regular black vinegar)
2 finely chopped cloves of garlic
1/4 cup water

Sauce Option: Mix up some dry Wasabi powder with water - either runny like a sauce, or thick like a paste - if you like this spicy-hot addition (like horseradish or mustard sauce, some people love it and some don't)

Measure your rice into a strainer that fits inside a BIG BOWL in the sink. Run cold water over the rice, gentle massaging the rice in the water, as the bowl fills enough to submerge the rice (turn off the running water at this point!). Softly turn the rice over in your hand under water, releasing some of the starch. The water will get cloudly. Pour out the water and do it again - at least two, usually three times - until the water stays mostly clear. Leave the submerged rice soaking at this point for 10-20 minutes as you get all the other ingredients ready. I've been told this helps keep each kernel whole and gives it a beautiful sheen.

Cut up all your little bits of things you want in your sushi rice balls. Keep it small and simple at first - a little bit of ginger, cuke, avocado and a couple edamame are PLENTY in one rice ball.


Drain the rice. Put it in a good sauce pot (heavy bottom - even heat - good lid) with the water. Bring to a boil and as soon as it boils, cover it and turn it down to LOW. Set the timer for 15 MINUTES COOKING. If you hear it crackling before that, turn it off. In either case, 15 minutes or once you hear it crackling, turn it off, put the lid on it, take it off the heat and set the timer for 10 MORE MINUTES just sitting.

Measure out the salt, sugar and vinegar in a cup and dissolve -- perhaps even microwaving for 20 seconds to help dissolve the sugar. This needs to be fully dissolved before you use it.

After the rice has sat 10 minutes, GENTLY SCRAPE IT OUT INTO THAT LARGE BOWL. You want to keep the kernels intact. With your bamboo paddle or wooden spoon you will gently cut into the rice again and again as you drizzle the sugar/salt/vinegar over the rice. You are not mixing/stirring. NOT STIRRING. You are cutting in various directions, turning and cutting until all the kernals are soaked by the vinegar mixture. Let this cool - gently cutting to give more surface area - and traditional would have you fanning it at the same time!

This is a good time to toast your sesame seeds and set them out on a plate for use in the construction stage.


Once cool enough to handle, get your finger bowl of water ready, have all your ingredients right there, and set out a cookie sheet with wax paper on it, or the plates upon which you might want to put the balls once made. I like to put the cookie sheet of balls into the fridge for a little while before serving, so that they harden just a little and hold together better. I've set them out at a party for a couple hours before serving though, so it isn't necessary to chill them. You can actually make them a day in advance and keep them in the fridge with a plastic bag over them.

Anyway, to begin making the balls, moisten your hands, take some rice in the palm of the left hand and spread it just a little. Put your inside ingredients in the middle, and with a moistened right hand, take a little dab more rice and put it over the left hand materials, squeeze gently into a ball form, gently dabbing each ball in the toasted sesame seeds and setting them on the prepared wax paper or plate. Continue doing this -- moistening your hands, figuring out how much rice goes in the first layer, how much filling to put in, how much on top, and how much to squeeze into the ball shape.

You can always decide to make sushi rolls with the same ingredients!! Taking sheets of nori (seaweed prepared in thin sheets that you can buy at many grocery stores) on a bamboo rolling mat, you spread a spare layer of rice over the sheet, put the filling materials in a line along the middle across the sheet. Then you roll from the edge closest to you, gently tucking the front edge in and under, using steady light pressure along the bamboo mat as you continue rolling to the opposite edge -- tucking and compressing to firm up the roll. Remove the mat and then slice however thick you want your rolls - using a VERY SHARP KNIFE or you will have a squashed mess.


Most people like a soy sauce type of dipping sauce for sushi or dumplings. You can make this up as you go along - I used low sodium Tamari to reduce the salt content and make sure there was no wheat gluten in it. Regular soy sauce has wheat gluten in it.  I use Chinese Black Vinegar and Sweet Black Vinegar, and lots of garlic. You can add fresh ginger, or even pepper flakes! I know some of my family and friends love wasabi - the Asian Horseradish - so I buy the powder and mix it with water to get a fairly thin but potent sauce. If I make these into sushi rolls, I would not use as much water and let it be a soft/loose paste that is easier to put on a sushi roll slice.

ENJOY!! Remember that you can change what you put inside - if you don't like avocado, or can't eat peanuts, use something else like cucumber, little radish bits, shiso leaves, kimchi, soaked tofu or even refried black beans! My goodness the possibilities are endless.

These keep well for a day or two in the fridge, but generally won't last that long if people know they are in there...

Friday, May 16, 2014

Hummus Taco

Using whatever is in the house is my way of operating. This taco is totally a product of that way of thinking. It made a lovely easy fresh lunch. This means that you, too, can make a fabulous taco lunch practically no matter what you have around for ingredients. This is what happened today and I do recommend it!

Hummus Taco

Corn tortillas (ready made or home made)
Tomatoes - cut into chunks (we used kumatoes, but cherry or grape tomatoes would work)
Avocado - cut into small cubes
Mushrooms sliced thinly and cut into rectangular bits (I used white button mushrooms)
Hummus - ready made or homemade (we used roasted red pepper hummus)
Red pepper chopped in small bits
Hot sauce - your favorite kind

 Put all the cut up ingredients on a large plate. Heat each tortilla about 30 seconds per side over a hot gas burner or in a small nonstick fry pan. Load your taco with the assortment of goodies and enjoy! So simple it almost seems crazy to write this down. It didn't occur to me that I would blog this, so the only picture I have is what was left I my hand when my husband said, "this was so good, you should blog it."

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Parsnip Quinoa with Enoki

Quinoa is a versatile material for absorbing flavor and the texture is also flexible enough to replace a risotto as a main course. This was a variation that invoked cooking chopped vegetables with the quinoa-- adding more flavor and textural elements at the very end. It went beautifully with a lemon-ume plum treated broccoli and a quick anything goes miso soup! Here's the plan:

Parsnip Enoki Quinoa

1.5 c white quinoa
4 c water 
2 small sweet parsnips chopped small
1 medium onion finely chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
1 poblano pepper finely chopped & set aside
1 package Enoki mushrooms (chopped & set aside)
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped or 1 tsp dry
.5 tsp white pepper or to taste (black pepper is on too but you will see it...)
.5-1 tsp sea salt

Put quinoa, parsnips, onion, garlic, salt & water in a good sized saucepan. Bring to boil uncovered and then turn way down to simmer with lid on for about 15-20 minutes.

Check on the absorption if water but don't stir. When water is all absorbed add the chopped poblano, white pepper, chopped enoki and stir in until the green flecks of pepper for the whole thing. Cover and let sit while you get everything else organized, and serve!

Lemon-Ume Plum Broccoli

Large bunch broccoli 
Half a lemon
Tsp ume plum vinegar
2 tsp Braggs liquid amino
5 cloves minced garlic 
2 tsp mirin

Steam the broccoli in medium sized branch pieces until just tender.
Put the lemon juice and garlic together and microwave 1-2 minutes or sauté just long enough to heat and soften the garlic.

Add all the other seasonings/sauces to lemon garlic and mix in with broccoli in a large bowl. 

Add seasoned tofu or mushrooms!