Yummy Blueberry Dessert!

Here’s another recipe that I adapted to be gluten-free, and to use the ingredients I had on hand.  It’s from Cooks.com, and it’s a recipe for Blueberry Pie.

They used                                                           I used                               

8 oz. tofu                                                             1 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt

1 1/2 pkg. Knox gelatin                                    2 pkg. Knox gelatin

2 tsp. lite drink mix (dry)                                —

1 cup water                                                           1 small box of apple juice

2 tbsp. vanilla                                                     1 tsp. pure vanilla

1 tbsp. lite sweetener                                       2 tbsp. agave nectar

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries               2 c. partially thawed blueberries

Basically, I heated up the apple juice in a mixing bowl and dissolved the gelatin in it.  When it was about room temp., I added everything else except the berries.  Once that was all incorporated, I mixed in the berries, and boy did it set up FAST!  It was all I could do to smooth it out in a glass pie pan before it couldn’t be worked at all.  This is so delicious and delicate.  You have to try it!

Faux Rhubarb Crisp, or what to do with leftover beet stems

RhubarbNot too long ago, I had a hankering for some roasted beets.  Bill brought home a bunch of 3, including some really great greens.  I’ve had Swiss chard greens before, and know they’re basically beets without the root, so I was happy with his find.  The greens were such an amazing texture and taste, they were the star of the meal.

pieSo, last week, Bill’s first week of retirement (woo hoo!), we went to the store together and I grabbed a bunch of beets.  Only this time, the greens had been cut off.  Fortunately, there was Swiss chard to be had, so those were our greens for dinner.  As I was cleaning the beets and chard, I was left with a whole lot of really nice stems.  They really reminded me of rhubarb, so I cut them into short pieces, and bagged them up while I worked on dinner and an idea for their later use.

I told Bill I was thinking about making rhubarb pie with those chopped stems, and he looked at me kinda funny, but said, “okay”.  As I usually do when I have an idea, I went to the internet to see if anyone else had thought of it before.  I found a recipe on cooks.com for strawberry rhubarb pie, and went with that.  Besides the chart and beet stems, I also had some kiwi fruit from our vines that really needed to be used up.  So here’s what I did:

Cooks.com                                                        Kim’s Faux Recipe

1 qt. strawberries, each cut in half                     8-9 kiwi fruit, peeled and quartered

1 lb. rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch pieces                 Handful of chard and beet stems cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 1/4 c. sugar                                                     1 c. brown sugar plus 1/2 c. agave nectar

1/3 c. flour                                                          1/3 c. almond flour

Pastry for 2-crust pie                                          Brown sugar and corn flake crumbs for crumble topping

3 tbsp. tapioca                                                    3 tbsp. small tapioca pearls

1/2 tsp. vanilla                                                    1/2 tsp. vanilla

Combine fruits with sugar, flour and tapioca.  Add vanilla.  Let stand about 30 minutes to soften tapioca.  Stir occasionally.  (I didn’t do this: spoon filling into lower crust of pie pastry, dot with 1 tbsp. butter, top with crust.)  I did do this: bake mixture in 425 degree oven in an 8-inch square baking dish for 30 minutes, add topping and bake an additional 15 minutes until browned.  Cool about 2 hours.

I thought it was a little sweet, but that can be adjusted.  Bill LOVED it!  He was surprised how great it was.  I’m happy to have found a yummy way to use those lovely stems.  I just couldn’t see them going to waste!  Enjoy!

Patty Pancakes — or are they Pattypan Cakes?

I love a play on words. Remember the squash fritters from the last post? (They were delicious last night, along with chicken & red bell pepper skewers. I also made a nice tzatziki sauce and got a container of tasty cherry tomatoes.) Anyway, I made up a new name for the fritters, since I had used pattypan squash instead of zucchini: PattyPanCakes. Haha! In case you want the recipe, I found it on http://www.foodnetwork.com. Search for zucchini fritters. I added more flour (rice flour, actually) than the recipe called for, because my squash got really juicy, even though I drained it overnight, after I started mixing everything together.

What’s for dinner this week?

We were on our way home yesterday from a 4-day weekend in Oregon, after visiting relatives, and having some other fun touring around. We stopped for lunch, and Bill ordered a Prosciutto Caprese sandwich on ciabatta bread. I told him that a Caprese Salad consists of tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves. He said the sandwich was delicious, so I thought I’d like to make a Caprese Salad this week before all the basil in the garden goes away with the cooler weather. But I didn’t want to make it the same night as he had that sandwich, so I came up with another idea for last night.

We had bought a package of frozen “winter mix” vegetables (cauliflower and broccoli) on the trip, which we used in a small cooler pack to keep our water bottles cold. Clever, eh? So I knew we’d be having that with our dinner. What else should I cook, thinks I? Thick-cut pork chops came to mind, and jasmin rice. I thought I’d like to make a nice sear on the chops using a glaze of agave nectar and dijon mustard, and to cook the rice in some jasmin tea. Both of those turned out amazing, especially the chops. When you make your own glaze, start out with equal amounts of mustard and nectar (or honey), and then adjust to your taste. The dijon was plenty of salty taste for both of our palates, and the agave sugar really gave an excellent dark color to the chops. Mmmmm, great leftovers, too.

So tonight it’s going to be the Caprese Salad! I’ve already sliced up 3 tomatoes and a package of goat mozzarella. I picked some nice basil, rinsed it, and I have the stems in a cup of water waiting until the last minute. I’ll dress the salad with some nice balsamic vinegar and a bit of grape seed oil (my favorite). Bill is going to look for some salmon or swordfish steaks for me to herb-crust and grill on my Bobby Flay grill pan. Just thinking of a nice, rare, herbed and seared fresh fish steak and all those fresh salad ingredients has my mouth watering. I guess it’s lunch time – that might have something to do with it.

FriedFishI picked two really large pattypan squash when I was out in the garden, too. We’re just about to the end of the squash season, but the pattypans are still putting out fruit. I thought I’d grate up the largest one, which must be at least 8 inches across, and make squash fritters. I’ll just mix the shreds with an egg, some rice flour and grated parmesan, scoop out dollops with an ice cream scoop into hot oil, and smash them down as they fry. I was mentioning this in the chat room of my favorite game at http://www.dkmgames.com and said I needed to think of a protein to go with the fritters. One of the nice gals suggested souvlaki. Great! I’m going to make it easy on myself and have Bill pick up a package of “chicken tenders”, pre-cut chicken strips, which I can skewer with some red bell pepper slices, and use that Bobby Flay grill pan again to grill the kebabs. I’ll also have him bring home a cucumber so I can make some tzatziki sauce for dipping.

Stay tuned – I might come up with Thursday and Friday’s menu before too long!

Stuffed and Rolled

I love anything stuffed or rolled, when it comes to making and eating food, that is.
CabbageStuffed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tomato

I had several tomatoes in the fridge that needed to be used up. So…. I stuffed them!
I’ve now done this twice, with different stuffing ingredients. The first time it was simply gluten-free bread crumbs, bacon bits, and finely-grated goat cheese (since goat cheese doesn’t melt very well, the finer you grate it, the better the result.) I cut the tops off the tomatoes and scooped out the innards, which I saved to use in soup the next day. Hubby has trouble with tomato skin being hard to chew, so my solution was to put the stuffed tomatoes into a baking dish with liquid (I chose white wine), and just pop them in the oven at 350 until the skins looked like they were going to fall off. They were super tender and very flavorful!

The next time I think I did chopped onion and chopped artichoke bottoms, with the bread crumbs and cheese. That was yummy, too. I’m getting hungry.

Another Fishy Recipe

I was in my Sudoku chat room when I mentioned I would be cooking Tilapia for dinner that evening. One of the chatters said he used to have a tilapia in his fish tank. Apparently they used to be just sold as pets, but someone made the discovery that they grow really fast and are tasty, so that’s why you see them in grocery stores now. Sort of makes you look at your goldfish a little differently, doesn’t it? Anyway…
I was trying to decide how I wanted to prepare it, when I noticed a half bag of shelled sunflower seeds in a basket in the corner of the kitchen. They had to be a couple of years old, and horribly stale. Well, I popped them into the Magic Bullet and made some “flour” out of them. And lo and behold, it made for a nice crust on that fish! I imagine you could just about use any seeds as a substitute for flour. Give it a try!

Gluten Free Onion Rings

I got this from the GlutenFreeCooking website. I’ll just give you the quickie version.
Equal parts gluten-free flour, cornstarch, and club soda. Season with salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika. Slice your onion and separate into rings. Dip into the coating mixture, and fry in deep oil. I found the mixture seized up unless I added more liquid (I used sparkling mineral water, maybe that’s why.) Also, they didn’t puff up quite like this picture, but they were so good. I hardly got to eat any of them – hubby was gobbling them up, and he’s not even a gluten-free eater! Enjoy!

Perfect Wine Pairing – Unexpected

My favorite wine is “old vine” Zinfandel. It’s just the richest of the rich red wines. You’d think about having it with some serious red meat, so imagine our surprise when it paired perfectly with the side-dish instead! What, oh what, was this amazing side-dish, you ask? Simple, steamed Delicata squash! Give it a try, and enjoy!!

Kiwi Chutney – A Savory Idea To Use Up Extra Kiwis

When we decided to start taking some of our bumper crop of kiwis in our lunches, we realized the ones we quartered and brought to eat were under-ripe (to say the least! You can’t even bite through the flesh!) We both brought our little container home that day, and just left them in the fridge to see if they’d ripen a little more.

After a week or so, no change, so I got my thinking cap on. Maybe there are some ideas for savory dishes with kiwi fruit on the internet. No real inspiration there. Sigh. Well, we also had a large crop of blueberries this year, and there were still 3 gallon bags of them in the freezer that needed to be used up. One of the bags had probably about a cup and a half left in it, so I brought that one out of the freezer and started thinking about chutney. I’ve made chutney with a lot of things. Why not kiwis?

Well, it turned out so very tasty, and I’ve had a lot of requests for the recipe, so here you go. I’m not a real measuring person, but I don’t think it really matters here. I’ll just do it as a narrative, and you can put your own creativity into yours. 🙂

I started off by chopping half of a large onion. I threw that into a sauce pan with about a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar and what was left in the bag of brown sugar, which was probably a half cup. I put the heat on and let the onions simmer for a good long time until they were soft. Meanwhile, I was quartering and peeling the kiwis. I think there were 6-8 medium to large ones altogether. I chopped up the flesh about the same size as the chopped onion pieces, and threw them into the pan. Again, I cooked them down for a while until soft. Near the end, I tossed in the frozen blueberries, which by that time were partly thawed. I left them in there long enough for them to finish thawing and heat through, but still keep their shape. At the end, I minced up a few leaves of mint and stirred it in.

We served it with pork chops and it was magnificent! I just had a taste of the leftovers, and it’s slightly sweet, lightly tangy, and a very meaty texture. I hope you enjoy it as we have!