Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Praline Fruit Cookies, a recipe

These started out as something entirely different. Ever had one of those days when you are craving something and have pretty much none of the necessary ingredients? I had one of those days last weekend. And came up with this soft cookie recipe as a work around. I'm not the greatest at shaping drop cookies but no matter the shape, they taste wonderful.

Praline Fruit Cookies
Makes 2 dozen

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup pecan halves, chopped
1/2 cup various dried fruit (I used dried cherries, raisins, and chopped apricots), soaked for a while in brandy or liquid of your choice, then drained (you can add a few drops of the soaking liquid to the cookie dough if you like, but don't add too much or the dough will be too wet.)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
2 tablespoons oat or wheat bran



Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cream sugar into butter until completely incorporated. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well. Mix in nuts and drained fruits, then add flour and bran in half cup intervals, mixing well after each addition. Combine thoroughly but do not over-mix.

Spoon out dough in approximately one tablespoon sized mounds onto the baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes until golden and still slightly soft. Allow to cool on baking sheet for a minute or two before transferring the cookies to a cooling rack.

Enjoy, and if you try this let me know how you like it!

The following was calculated at http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp.

Nutrition Facts

User Entered Recipe
  24 Servings
Amount Per Serving
  Calories109.6
  Total Fat4.4 g
     Saturated Fat1.5 g
     Polyunsaturated Fat0.6 g
     Monounsaturated Fat1.6 g
  Cholesterol25.6 mg
  Sodium9.6 mg
  Potassium70.5 mg
  Total Carbohydrate19.0 g
     Dietary Fiber1.5 g
     Sugars10.8 g
  Protein2.3 g
  Vitamin A4.1 %
  Vitamin B-120.1 %
  Vitamin B-60.5 %
  Vitamin C0.1 %
  Vitamin D0.0 %
  Vitamin E0.9 %
  Calcium1.3 %
  Copper3.1 %
  Folate0.4 %
  Iron2.0 %
  Magnesium1.8 %
  Manganese8.8 %
  Niacin0.7 %
  Pantothenic Acid    0.5 %
  Phosphorus    1.7 %
  Riboflavin0.5 %
  Selenium1.9 %
  Thiamin1.5 %
  Zinc1.0 %


*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.





Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Beets beets beets beets beets

I love beets. Let's just get this out there from the beginning. They're sweet and earthy and no matter what I have with them they make me ever so happy.

Organics To You is in full winter mode now. My box yesterday had turnips, tangerines, broccoli, collards, beets, carrots, apples, pears, red onions, a squash that looks like a turban squash (but probably isn't one) and potatoes. Yesterday I made a fantastic Moroccan spiced vegetable medley with a turnip, some broccoli, carrots, onion, garlic, and a leek (leftover from my previous box.) I have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. It makes me happy.

The pears are remarkably underripe, though, and I needed to figure something creative to do with them. I'm not as anti-pear as I used to be, but underripe pears remain awful in my mind. I'm sure they'll ripen soon enough but I wanted to do something with the beets and it occurred to me I could use an underripe pear in the process. I poked around for a recipe I could adapt and found one that used jicama. I substituted the pear, and tweaked it a bit more (as I had no orange marmalade nor an actual orange and I don't like to use things like salt) and came up with this.

Beet and Pear Salad with Balsamic Tangerine Vinaigrette
Serves 2, or 4 if they're not sure about the beet

1 medium beet, roasted, cooled, and peeled
1 medium UNDERRIPE d'Anjou pear
half a small red onion
half a tangerine, zest and sections
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Juice from the other half of the tangerine

Slice beet into matchstick pieces. Put in bowl, then cut pear into thin wedges, having them if they are too thick. Slice the onion into thin strips. Combine in a bowl. Zest half the tangerine into the bowl. Add the oil and vinegars, and mix well. Add the tangerine juice, mix again, and then add the tangerine sections. Mix gently, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to combine. Bring to room temperature before serving.



If you like salt, this does taste a bit like it could use some. It might not suffer from some ground black pepper. But at heart, it's a YUM!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fishie, fishie, fishie

Back to crochet.

I have a friend (who I don't think reads this blog...if she does, CLAIRE, STOP NOW! DON'T LOOK AT THE PICTURE! (I'M SHOUTING SO SHE'LL HEAR IT BEFORE SHE SEES THE PICTURE.) She is not a cat person but she is spending a long time (I thought it was 5 months but it turns out to be more like 10 months) caring for the cat of a friend while that friend is in another province for college. I decided poor Kittums (the cat, I kid you not that's the name her human slave gave her) needs lots of toys. Claire has made friends with the cat; they bonded over sushi. But she still needs toys.

I made this out of an unidentified furry type yarn. I am assuming it's bulky (5) weight because most such yarns are. This isn't the kind of project that requires a gauge swatch so I didn't even consider doing one. I used a size G crochet hook. If you want a large fishie, use a larger hook. Smaller, use a smaller hook. You can also adjust based on the type of yarn you use. I make no promises that your yarn will give the same results but no cat would criticize for that reason alone.



Make 2:

Chain 7
SC in second ch from hook, continue until end of row (6 stitches), ch 1, turn
SC in each stitch up to the last stitch, skip last stitch (5 stiches), ch 1, turn
Continue as above, skipping last stitch, until 2 stitches remain, ch 1, turn
SC twice in each stitch, ch 1, turn
SC twice in first stitch, SC up to last stitch, SC twice in last stitch, ch 1,. turn
Repeat until there are 8 stitches, ch 1 turn
Work one row straight (8 stitches)
SC in each stitch in each stitch up to the last stitch (7 stitches), ch 1, turn
Continue as above until 2 stitches remain
Tie off, leaving a long tail.

Put the two pieces together and sew, keeping the long tail on the outside, leaving an opening with enough room to add stuffing. Stuff to the size you desire. Finish sewing seams. Feel free to add catnip, but don't  blame me if the cat goes nuts.

I'm waiting for the paint on a wooden chopstick (*UNUSED* chopstick) to attach the fishie with the yarn left dangling, and it's a bouncy toy.

Enjoy!

.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Getting paid to work for a charity...is it counter intuitive or not? I say not.

This is for my approximately 1.1 readers who do not also read Copperbadge's blog. He has a really good post up there today, about the how and why of non profit agencies' paying decent salaries to their Executive Directors. I urge you to go forth and read it.

I've worked for non-profit agencies, on and off, for over fifteen years. I also took a few classes in non-profit management and fundraising. I admit I'm not an expert, but I do know a few things.

At the lower echelons, many non-profit agencies pay their employees a little less than what the employees could expect to earn in the for-profit world. It is easy to take that fact and interpret it to mean that non-profit employees are there because they love the work and they are willing to make less in order to further the good works of the agency. You might be right. But you'd also be overlooking a few other facts that influence many employees' decisions about working in the non-profit world. 

To compensate for those lower salaries, the vacation and sick leave policies at most non-profits are much more liberal than the policies at comparable profit making companies. Additionally, bereavement leave, bad weather absences, and things like that are treated much more leniently. When my father died, I was given up to two weeks to fly across country, attend his memorial, and hang out with my mother and sister until we were all on an even keel. (Mind you, I didn't take all that time, but they told me I could have that much, and after that it would be coming out of my considerable accumulation of sick leave.)  Many health insurance companies give favorable rates to non-profit agencies. So for most employees of non-profit agencies, they have vastly superior insurance, at a lower cost if they pay any of it at all, than they would have had with employment in the private, for-profit, sector.

Add it up, and non-profit employees are frequently paid AT A MINIMUM on par with their for-profit counterparts. Why should the chief executive of a non-profit agency be treated any differently?

A non-profit expects its Executive Director not only to work full time for the agency, it expects hir to work between 80 and 160 hours a week for your agency. Additionally, the ED is expected to donate money to the agency AND hir spouse is frequently called upon to donate money and/or volunteer to help out with events. If there are children, they will be expected to volunteer if old enough or look cute in pictures if too young to volunteer. The return on investment on the Executive Director's salary is pretty impressive.

For a while I was the volunteer development officer of a start up non-profit. It went to pieces because the founder and executive director was a flake. But he put his heart and soul into that agency. He put almost all of his own money into it. None of the staff got pay I would eventually find just the right grant opportunity, the right words to write, and the right eyes to see those words, that we would be funded to pay a decent wage to all of us. Including the flaky ED.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New Recipe: Chili Spiced Squash Soup for One

I wrote this post last night, but fell asleep before I could post it. Lack of leftovers is making me frown, although leftover Cristianos y Moros made for a lovely lunch.

I had a half a roasted delicata squash left from the weekend. It’s particularly chilly today and as I keep my heat as low as I can tolerate without pain, the thought of soup was appealing. 

I’ve seen countless recipes for curried squash soup, but I was having Nadia G’s recipe for Curried Chicken Pot Pie for lunch, I didn’t want to make a curried soup.  I like curry just fine but too much of a good thing is too much no matter how good it is.

Delicata squash has a number of nicknames and one of those is sweet potato squash. This is because the squash can be used as a substitute for sweet potato in a lot of recipes.  It tastes a bit like a sweet potato, and it has a similar consistency.  Sweet potato goes well with chili. Thus was born this soup, which I prepared in the slow cooker. 

This recipe serves one. If you want to make more than one serving, double, triple, gazzilionle, the recipe. It’s an easy, easy recipe and I’m almost embarrassed calling it one, but I really want to share the yumminess.

Chili Spiced Squash Soup for One

½ delicata squash, roasted and peeled
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth (I used vegetarian chicken flavored broth)
½ cup coconut milk*
2 tablespoons chili powder (I used Penzeys Arizona Dreaming, but your favorite chili powder will do) divided
I do not add salt to anything, and don't think this needed black pepper. You'll have to taste test for your own salt and black pepper decision.

Combine the squash, broth, coconut milk, and 1 tablespoon of chili powder in the slow cooker, and mix really well. Turn the cooker to low, cover, and cook ½ hour. Stir in remaining chili powder and recover. Cook for an additional ¼ hour, then check that it is completely blended. You can use a whisk, an immersion blender, or (if you’re brave) pour it into a blender. Serve immediately or refrigerate and reheat later. You may need to add a little more broth or water when you reheat it.

*I used coconut milk because I had some leftover from the aforementioned curry dish. It lent a very sweet layer to the flavor. If you don’t care for your chili to contrast sweet and spicy, you can use dairy milk or soy or almond milk instead. 

If you wish to, sprinkle some shredded cheddar cheese, a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, tortilla chips, or other appropriate topping. I briefly considered throwing in some salsa, but didn’t and I think that was the right decision. It would have been a jarring texture and the flavors wouldn’t have gone well.

I am adding a note because I know two people allergic to capsicum and thus they can't use most commercially prepared chili powders. I'm all with you on the lack of Mexican style seasoning without the nightshade family included. For you I found the following 

1 c minced dried onion
2/3 c beef bouillon
1/3 c chili powder
2 tb cumin
4 ts ground peppers
4 ts oregano
2 ts garlic powder
and I suggest the ground peppers be considered ground black peppers. If that is also a problem, substitute some horseradish or just accept that you're not going to get the heat. Sorry. 


Today I have a half portion of homemade spiced cranberry sauce going (I use 6 ounces of cranberries from a 12 ounce bag, add a half cup water, a third cup sugar, and a bouquet garni with cinnamon stick, allspice berries, cardamom pods, and mace pieces, all bruised and tied up in cheesecloth. (YES they're all from Penzeys! I buy almost all my spices from there, except my curry powder because I have yet to find any curry powder as good as what I get in my favorite Indian restaurants.) I'm going to make homemade green bean casserole with fresh mushrooms (frozen green beans, though) and canned fried onions from Trader Joe's. Once all that is done, I think I'll start sewing or knitting. I have a ton of holiday presents going  but can't show or discuss them until after the recipients get them. Which is a shame because some of them are just wonderful.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Newly Updated: My Little Slow Cooker (Experiment: Cristianos y Moros)










I have two slow cookers. One is a 1 1/2 quart, and the other a 3 quart. As you might imagine, I use the 1 1/2 quart more than I do the 3 quart.

In fact, I use the hell out of that 1 1/2 quart slow cooker. When my first one quit working (after eight years faithful service) I bought a new one and now I have two inserts, meaning I can use it twice as often.

Sometimes, I don't even know what I'm going to make when I first fire it up. And sometimes I end up with something I wouldn't even feed to the dog. But I'm never sorry I tried something.

At the moment, I have onion, garlic, and celery heating in a little olive oil in my slow cooker. Up until ten minutes ago, I didn't know what I was going to make. Then I decided I needed cheap protein. There is one can of black beans left in my cupboard. I have some frozen V-8 juice (more on that later.) I have some dehydrated green peppers that are taking up useful space on my spice rack. I have vinegar and rice.

Here's what I'm doing so far:

Heat up onions, garlic, and celery in slow cooker on high until it's all very fragrant. Add a cube of frozen V-8 juice (approx 3 tablespoons) and the dehydrated peppers (about 1/4 tablespoon.) Leave that to rehydrate and combine well. That should take about 7 or 8 minutes.

Turn it down to low. Add the can of black beans after rinsing really well. Then add 1/2 or so cup of broth or stock or (okay, I have powdered broth. I confess. Not good for me but convenient and the one I have isn't too, too salty.) Add a dash or so of unseasoned rice or white vinegar.

In about an hour, add cumin, oregano, a bay leaf, maybe a little chili powder. Five minutes or so after that, add 3 cups of water or broth, and a cup and a half of rice (I'm mixing brown and white.) Leave for at least an hour and a half, or put it on high and after a half hour turn it to low for a half hour. I'd rather have the time.

Now, traditionally, you'd make the rice separately and just mix in the beans after it's all done for more authentic Moros y Cristianos. But I'm lazy and don't want to have to hand wash my rice cooker. And I've found lots of recipe writers seem to feel the same way. So what if the rice takes on a slightly colorful hue? It's all good.

I'll let you know how it turns out.
(Important note: This is NOT a picture of my experiment. I'll post a picture when it's done, though.)

Update:




This isn't the best picture but it turned out excellent. It's tasty, the texture is perfect, and it's filling without being grossly so. I'm going to take some Greek yogurt and add some frozen fruit for dessert and act like I'm eating healthy today. (Forget the giant cinnamon raisin roll from Tulip Pastry I had for breakfast.)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Gypsy and the Very Healthy Cookies

I wanted cookies today. I looked around for ingredients and made a sad, sad, discovery. I had only one egg left. And it's raining. Not the usual always misty and occasional shower raining. This is downpour from hell raining. There was no way I was going to leave the house. Even Faraday doesn't want to go outside, and he loves to go outside to bark at the neighbors' cats and anyone he might hear passing by.

While looking through my pantry cupboard I found a small container of strained carrots. I think I bought that to make a carrot cake because I was too lazy to shred carrots, and then ended up making something entirely different.

I poked around a bit trying to find a carrot cookies recipe that didn't use eggs. The best I could find was vegan cookie recipes that use commercial egg replacers. And I haven't got any of those on hand, either.

What I do have, and in abundance, is flax meal (ground flax seed.) Flax meal is said to be a good substitute for egg. I took a chance and started throwing ingredients into a bowl until the consistency looked right.

The result is yummy. Once you read the recipe you'll realize how healthy this is. But do try these. They're very tender and won't ship well but they're worth having on hand.


Good For You Carrot Cookies
Makes 1 dozen

1 Tb flax meal
1/3 to 1/2 C water
3 TB neutral flavor oil
small (I'm thinking this was 2 oz) container strained carrot baby food
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 C each unbleached white and whole wheat flour
1/4 C wheat or oat bran
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
dash salt
1 Tb ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 C raisins

Combine flax meal and water and allow to stand a few minutes. Add the oil, the carrots, the sugar, and the vanilla extract and mix well. Sift together the flours and the baking powder. (Okay, you caught me. I don't do that. But it's what you're supposed to say in recipes) and add to the wet ingredients. Stir in all the dry ingredients except raisins. Adjust water or flour as needed to get a soft but stiff dough. Fold in raisins.

Drop by tablespoonful on greased baking sheet, or on a foil lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes or until baked through. They won't brown much due to low fat and sugar content. Allow to cool at least 5 minutes before tasting.

The following was calculated at http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp, where I substituted cooked carrot slices for the baby food because, for some reason, this site doesn't consider baby food an ingredient.


Nutrition Facts

User Entered Recipe

12 Servings

Amount Per Serving
Calories 84.2
Total Fat 3.9 g
Saturated Fat 0.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 78.8 mg
Potassium 87.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 13.2 g
Dietary Fiber 1.5 g
Sugars 10.0 g
Protein 0.6 g

Vitamin A 22.4 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 2.2 %
Vitamin C 1.0 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 4.2 %
Calcium 4.8 %
Copper 1.9 %
Folate 0.6 %
Iron 3.4 %
Magnesium 2.8 %
Manganese 13.5 %
Niacin 1.4 %
Pantothenic Acid 0.4 %
Phosphorus 3.4 %
Riboflavin 1.1 %
Selenium 1.5 %
Thiamin 1.5 %
Zinc 0.9 %



*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.


If you try the recipe, please let me know how you liked it.



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