Monday, April 30, 2012

Ham with Apricot Brown Sugar Glaze

I don't make spiral cut ham very often but when I do I always use my own recipe for the glaze.  There are two ways to use this glaze.
1. Use half the glaze on the ham. Cook.  Use remaining glaze.
2. Cook the ham then use entire glaze.

Personally, I like to leave the glaze until the end.  When I leave the glaze for last I combine the brown sugar, apricot jam and 5 tablespoons water in a small stock pot.  5 minutes before I serve the ham:
Bring to a boil and continue to stir.  Let simmer until ready to serve.  Take off heat and spoon onto sliced ham.

Ham with Apricot Brown Sugar Glaze

Ingredients
1 (10 pound) fully-cooked spiral cut ham
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup apricot jam

Directions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Place the ham cut side down onto a sheet of aluminum foil.  Mix together the brown sugar, and in a small bowl. Brush onto the ham using a pastry or barbeque brush. Reserve any leftover glaze.

Enclose the foil around the ham and place in a roasting pan.

Roast for 2 hours in the preheated oven, or if your ham is a different size, figure 14 minutes per pound. Apply the remaining glaze 20 minutes before the ham is done. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Delicious Asparagus Leek Quiche

Asparagus Leek and Gruyère Quiche
Serves 6

Ingredients
1 tablespoon butter
1 leek (white and light green parts only), halved and thinly sliced, then well washed
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 bunch (1 pound) asparagus, tough ends removed, thinly sliced on the diagonal
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups half-and-half
ground nutmeg
1 Pie Crust,  fitted into a 9-inch pie plate, well chilled
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (4 ounces)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with rack in lowest position. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium. Add leek and asparagus; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes; let cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, 1/2 teaspoon salt, teaspoon pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. Place pie crust on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with cheese; top with asparagus mixture. Pour egg mixture on top.

Bake until center of quiche is just set, 50 to 60 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Mexican Casserole

I make what I call Mexican Casserole.  I've made it so many times I don't really use a recipe.  Here's one that's similar from allrecipes.com .  My additions are Jalapenos, Cilantro, onions, bell peppers with cooked and shredded chicken.  I also use homemade black beans instead of refried beans.  For an even healthier alternative, try using low-carb tortillas or vegan tortillas.

Mexican Casserole

Ingredients
1 (16 ounce) can refried beans (or Homemade)
3/4 onion, diced
2 jalapenos, sliced
1 bell pepper, diced
Cilantro, chopped
5 (10 inch) flour tortillas
1 cup salsa
2 cups shredded Cheddar or Colby Jack cheese
*Optional* 1-2 cups cooked, shredded chicken

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Spray a 9-inch pie pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a saucepan, cook beans, bell peppers and onions (to soften them) on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes.

Place one tortilla in the bottom of the greased pan. Spread about 1/3 cup of the bean mixture over it. Layer a few tablespoons of salsa over this. Then, place another tortilla over the salsa, and add more of the bean mixture and a thin layer of cilantro*ADD chicken if you choose*. Follow the beans with a big handful of cheese, spreading evenly. repeat layers, spreading the ingredients evenly over the tortillas. On the top layer, add jalapeno slices, make sure to use lots of salsa and cheese!

Bake until the cheese is melted, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. 

I usually top this dish with a spoonful of sour cream but at the moment we are avoiding dairy.  Instead, I serve with Texas Caviar.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Spinach, Mushroom and Onion Quiche

Quiche is wonderful for a quick brunch or even a light dinner.  I've made this quiche recipe for Easter and Christmas.  It's great by itself or served with a side of ham or sausage.

Spinach, Mushroom and Onion Quiche

Ingredients
6 eggs, beaten
1 cup whole or skim milk
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
2 cups chopped fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 cup shredded Mozarella cheese
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 (9 inch) deep dish pie crust

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cook spinach. Drain and set aside.  Cook Mushrooms and Onions.  Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, whip together eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Sprinkle ½ cup of Mozarrela cheese in the bottom of the pie crust.  Cover with Spinach, Mushroom, and Onion.  Top with remaining cheese.  Pour Egg mixture over veggies in pie crust.

Bake uncovered in the preheated oven 35 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Healthy Mushroom Stroganoff

Meatless meals don't have to be boring.  Serve this Mushroom Stroganoff with a light spinach salad or Tangy and Sweet Broccoli salad.

Smokey Mushroom Stroganoff
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 -8.8 ounce package dried pappardelle (wide egg noodles)
1 1/2 pounds sliced mushrooms, such as button, cremini, and/or shiitake
2 cloves garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 -8 ounce carton light sour cream
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 cup vegetable broth
Snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley (optional)

Directions
1. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain; keep warm.
2. In extra-large skillet cook mushrooms and garlic in hot oil over medium-high heat 5 to 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. (Reduce heat if mushrooms brown quickly.) Remove with slotted spoon; cover to keep warm.
3. For sauce, in bowl combine sour cream, flour, paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir in broth until smooth. Add to skillet. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly; cook and stir 1 minute more. Serve mushroom mixture and sauce over noodles. Sprinkle with parsley.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Harvest Recipe: Zucchini

Not sure what to do with an abundance of Zucchini?  The versatile squash can be used in bread, pasta or even as the centerpiece of the meal. 

Stuffed Zucchini with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, 
Red Pepper, and Basil
(Makes 4 whole meal servings or 8 side dish servings, 
recipe created by Kalyn.)

2 large or 4 small round zucchini (or use regular shaped zucchini)
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 tsp. olive oil
1 lb. very lean ground beef (less than 10% fat)
1 tsp. Spike Seasoning
1 tsp. chopped garlic or garlic puree (from a jar)
1/2 tsp. ground fennel seed
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil
3/4 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chicken stock

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut stem and flower ends off zucchini, trimming off the smallest possible amount of the skin and taking care to cut it off evenly, since this will show. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise, then using a pointed teaspoon or melon baller, scoop out and discard most of the zucchini flesh and seeds, leaving an even 1/2 inch of flesh attached to the skin. If your zucchini are rolling around a lot, you can cut a thin slice on the bottom side of each to make them sit up. Microwave zucchini 3-4 minutes on high.

Heat olive oil in heavy frying pan and saute chopped onions and peppers until they are just starting to soften, about 5 minutes. (They will cook more in the oven, so they don't need to be fully cooked at this point.) Remove onions and peppers to large mixing bowl, then add ground beef to hot pan and cook until starting to brown. When meat is about half cooked, season with Spike Seasoning and ground fennel and add garlic, and continue to cook until meat is well browned, breaking it into small, pieces with the side of your turner. Remove cooked ground beef to mixing bowl.

Add cooked brown rice, chopped basil, Parmesan cheese, and chicken stock to meat and vegetable mixture, and gently combine.

Choose a roasting pan with slight sides, just big enough to hold the zucchini. Spray pan with nonstick spray or a light misting of olive oil. Stuff zucchini with stuffing mixture, packing in as much as you can into each zucchini, and mounding it up as high as you can, until all stuffing is used.

Put zucchini into roasting pan, putting them close together so they hold each other stuffing-side up. Roast uncovered 20-30 minutes, until zucchini is tender-crisp, and filling is hot and slightly browned. Serve hot.

**Variations: Use ground turkey or vegan alternative**

Monday, April 23, 2012

Harvest Recipe: Butternut Squash

Not everyone is a fan of this Cucurbita.  When I make these delightful dishes, sadly I am forced to freeze most of it as my husband will not eat it.  He had a bad experience.  Most of us can relate in one way or another.

Today is another 2 for 1: Butternut Squash Curry and Roasted Butternut Soup from Whole Living.

Butternut Squash Curry

Ingredients
2 medium butternut squashes (about 2 pounds), peeled, halved, and seeded
1 large onion, cut into large chunks
4 garlic cloves
3 cups plus 1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 two-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
2 cups cooked brown rice, for serving
Fresh cilantro, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving

Directions
Cut solid sections of squashes into large chunks and seed-pod sections into 3/4-inch-thick wedges. Puree onion, garlic, and 1 tablespoon water in a blender until smooth.

Heat oil in a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Add mustard seeds, fennel seeds, and coriander, and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in onion paste and ginger. Cook, stirring often, until caramelized, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add tomato paste, scraping bottom of pot if needed. Stir in remaining 3 cups water, the salt, and crushed red-pepper flakes. Add squash, and cover partially. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, and simmer gently until squash is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve over brown rice with cilantro and lime wedges.

Roasted Winter Squash and Apple Soup

Ingredients
1 large winter squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), such as butternut or kabocha, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and quartered
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt
Chili powder, for seasoning (optional)
4 cups Vegetable Stock

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large roasting pan, toss squash, onions, garlic, and apples with oil to coat. Season well with salt and chile powder. Roast, stirring every 10 minutes, until vegetables are fork-tender and lightly browned, about 40 minutes.

Transfer half the vegetables and 2 cups stock to a food processor; puree until smooth.

Repeat with remaining vegetables and broth. Return pureed mixture to pot, thinning soup with stock, if necessary. Season with salt and chile powder; bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day Celebration Harvest Recipe: Basil

There are so many terrific recipes that include basil from sauces to salads and even bread.  I chose Basil for Earth Day because it is easy to grow, doesn't take up much space and is very versatile.  I'm including several recipes with Basil.

Basil Infused Oil

#1.  There are a variety of different methods to infusing oil with basil. Probably the easiest and most traditional method simply entails putting the oil in any kind of container, probably most easily in a clear bottle along with the basil herbs. From here the container should be kept in a room temperature environment for any period of time whether it be a few hours to a few weeks. The container can even be left out in the sun, as this accelerates the infusion process.

#2.  The technique for making infused oil is much the same whether the ingredient is basil, rosemary, oregano, garlic, chiles or citrus fruit. For every cup of olive oil, use two tightly packed cups of basil or any other soft-leaved green herb--chervil, chives, cilantro, mint. (Tarragon does not work well except early in the spring when it is very sweet, he writes. Otherwise it tends to taste bitter when infused.) Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the herbs, making sure that the leaves are submerged, and blanch for five seconds. Drain into a strainer and immediately plunge the herbs into a bowl of ice water. Drain well and squeeze out all liquid. Puree in a blender with olive oil. Strain puree immediately through a fine-mesh strainer. Strain again through four layers of cheesecloth. Put in a sterilized glass bottle, cover tightly and refrigerate. For optimum flavor, use within a week.

Basil Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
½ cup flat-leaf Italian parsley, packed (optional)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup pine nuts or walnuts
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and cracked black pepper to taste


1. Place ingredients in a food processor, starting with half of the ingredients if the processor bowl is small, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of container. Blend until pesto forms a thick, smooth paste.
2. Store in refrigerator in a tightly closed container for up to a week, or freeze for a few months. 

Pesto Vinaigrette

1 clove garlic, peeled
kosher salt, to taste
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
2 cups fresh basil leaves, stems removed
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
cracked black pepper, to taste

1. In the bowl of a food processor, purée garlic and salt until a paste is formed. Add pine nuts and basil and process until a fine paste formed. 
2. With motor running, add vinegar and then slowly add oil in a thin stream until the mixture is emulsified. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Tomato, Basil and Feta Salad

Ingredients
6 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
1 small cucumber - peeled, quartered lengthwise, and chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions
In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and feta cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Earth Day Celebration Harvest Recipe: Tomatoes

April 22, 2012 is Earth Day! 
According to earthday.org, "The idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda."  (continue reading)

I'll be celebrating Earth Day all weekend,  both in the kitchen and in the garden!  It's raining!!

Slow Oven-Roasted Roma Tomatoes

It is so easy to do, I feel a little silly offering instructions.
Wash, dry and slice the tomatoes in half.
Lay them out cut-side up on parchment-lined rimmed cookie sheets, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt.
Put in the oven and roast at 200 degrees (truly, no hotter than that) for 10-12 hours.
I realize that sounds like an inconveniently long time, but I tend to do this overnight, timing it so that they’re finished when I get up in the morning. Works perfectly.

 Want to jazz up this recipe? Use basil or garlic infused oil.  Sprinkle with dried basil before roasting. Use your imagination!

Store finished product in a jar or airtight container or freeze and use later in soups, sauce and dips.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Harvest Recipe: Beets

This is definitely not my Moms recipe!  I was going to post a recipe for smoked beets but I don't have a smoker.  For now, I'll stick to the super easy harvest recipes until I'm ready to get a bit more creative.
Today I'm giving you 2 Harvest Recipes: Ginger Pickled Beets and Roasted Beet Salad from Whole Living.

Ginger Pickled Beets

Ingredients
Makes 1 quart
5 or 6 medium red beets (about 1 1/2 pounds without greens), tails and about 1 inch of stems left intact
1/2 cup thinly sliced, peeled fresh ginger (about 1 1/2 ounces)
1 1/2 cups rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt

Directions
Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. Cover beets with cold water by 2 inches in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer beets until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 30 minutes. Transfer beets with a slotted spoon to ice-water bath.

Discard cooking liquid. Trim beets and rub off skins with paper towels, or peel beets with a paring knife. Cut beets into very thin rounds; transfer to a large bowl.

Bring ginger, vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour liquid over beets; stir. Let stand until completely cool, at least 1 hour. Transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate up to 1 month. 

Roasted Beet Salad

Ingredients
8 small beets, cleaned and trimmed (about 2 pounds)
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups red oak leaf lettuce

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Wrap the beets in parchment paper, place on a small baking sheet, and roast in the oven until they yield to a paring knife, about 35 to 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a dry skillet over medium-low heat, toast the caraway seeds until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk together the oil and vinegar, add the toasted caraway seeds, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

When the beets have cooled, peel and cut them into eighths. Toss the beets in the dressing. Divide the lettuce among 4 salad plates and arrange the beets on top.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Harvest Recipe: Onions, Cilantro and Jalapeno

Another easy recipe from Back to the Basics: Texas Caviar.

I'm not really sure why it's "Texas,"  it just is!  This recipe seems to get better if it sits in the fridge for a day.  The flavor is fresh and spicy.

Texas Caviar (My version)
While the recipe calls for canned items I try to use homemade items that I have either frozen or canned myself.


1 can Black Beans, OR 2 cups black beans from scratch
1 can Whole Kernel Corn
1/2 a Red Onion, chopped
1 Red or Green Bell Pepper, chopped

2 Jalapenos, chopped
1/2 bunch Cilantro, chopped
2 Limes, squeezed.  Add only the juice.

Mix all ingredients and refrigerate. Serve over rice or eggs, with chips or in tacos.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Harvest Recipe: Jalapeno Hummus

Not sure what to do with all those Jalapenos?  Can em, freeze em, blend em!  Looking for a good canning recipe?  Check out Food in Jars and stop back here at Mary's Kitchen in June for a few of my favorite recipes.

Jalapeno Hummus

Ingredients
1/3 cup canned jalapeno pepper slices, juice reserved
3 tablespoons tahini
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
crushed red pepper to taste

Directions
In a blender or food processor, mix the garbanzo beans, jalapeno peppers and reserved juice, tahini, garlic, and lemon juice. Season with cumin, curry powder, and crushed red pepper. Blend until smooth.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Harvest Recipe: Eggplant

This is one of the most simple recipes I will ever post.  Seriously!  I've never written down a real recipe for this so bear with me and beware...the pictures do not do this dish justice.

Grilled Eggplant
Note:  I cook this recipe on the stove, not on an actual grill.

Ingredients:
Eggplant
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Cheese:  goat or mozzarella

Directions:
Slice the top and bottom off the eggplant and throw into the compost.  Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Drizzle olive oil in your skillet and heat on high.  Place eggplant rounds spiced side down in olive oil and gook for 3 minutes.  Turn down the stove, flip eggplant over and cook for an additional 3 minutes.  Turn off heat and sprinkle with your choice of cheese.  Let sit for 2 minutes then serve.
1 Eggplant will serve 2-3 people.  If you don't like cheese, serve topped with fresh salsa.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Harvest Recipe: Cabbage and Brussels Sprout Slaw


What's cruciferous?  Brussels Sprouts...They are a cruciferous vegetable.  I found this recipe over at Farm Girl Fare.  I almost want to stop what I'm doing and go make something every time I read her recipes.  Below is a recipe for Napa Cabbage with Brussels Sprouts and Creamy Dijon Dressing.  

I've tried this recipe with both the Creamy Dijon and Apple-Cider Vinaigrette (detox dressing) and they are equally delicious.

Napa Cabbage Broccoli Slaw with Brussels Sprouts, Radishes, and Creamy Dijon Dressing
Makes about 7 cups - Adapted from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef 

As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients whenever you can; they really do make a difference.

For the dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup yogurt (I use lowfat—homemade yogurt is wonderful)
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 Tablespoons rice vinegar (I use seasoned)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the slaw:
1 pound Napa cabbage (about 1/2 smallish head)
1 pound broccoli (about 1 medium head or 2 smallish crowns)
1/2 pound brussels sprouts (about 12 small), outer leaves removed, ends trimmed
1/2 pound radishes (about 7 large), ends trimmed

Optional additions:
A couple of shredded carrots
Chopped scallions (green onions)
Chopped roasted and salted almonds
Raisins or dried cranberries (craisins)

Make the dressing:
Combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, and rice wine vinegar in a small dish. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Make the slaw:
Cut the Napa cabbage and broccoli into pieces that will fit through your food processor's chute and process using the slicing disk, along with the brussels sprouts. Switch to the shredding disk and process the radishes (and carrots, if using). Alternatively, use a knife to thinly slice the cabbage, brussels sprouts, and radishes, and cut the broccoli into bite size pieces.

Place all the vegetables in a large bowl and toss with the dressing, along with any of the desired optional additions. Salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Harvest Recipe: Easy Greek Salad

This is the first post in the "Harvest Recipe" collection.  As you may know I have an abundant veggie and herb garden.  As I harvest these edible delights it's important to have a recipe on  hand.  The is no better tasting meal than one made from homegrown produce.

As the title states, this recipe is easy!  I make a few different types of Greek Salad.  This one in particular has no lettuce, just a mix of veggies.

Easy Greek Salad

Ingredients
3 vine ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, cut into bite-size chunks
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chunked
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chunked
1 cubanelle pepper, seeded and chunked
1 cup Kalamata black olives
Several sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, about 1/2 cup
2 (1/4 pound) slices Greek feta
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed in palm of your hand
Coarse salt and black pepper

Directions
Combine vegetables, olives, and parsley in a large bowl. Rest sliced feta on the top of salad. Combine oil, vinegar, and oregano in a small plastic container with a lid. Shake vigorously to combine oil and vinegar and pour over salad and cheese. Season with salt and pepper and let the salad marinate until ready to serve.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mache & Chicken Salad with Honey-Tahini Dressing

I found this delicious salad recipe from Eating Well.  The dressing is delicious and I plan to use it in a few other recipes.

Mache & Chicken Salad with Honey-Tahini Dressing
Ingredients:
Dressing
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup tahini,
2 tablespoons honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Salad
1 pound new or baby red potatoes
1 pound chicken tenders (I used grilled chicken)
1/4 teaspoon plus pinch of salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 small clove garlic
4 cups mâche, or baby spinach
1 cup shelled English peas, (about 1 1/2 pounds unshelled)
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot

Preparation
To prepare dressing: Combine lemon juice, 1/3 cup oil, tahini, honey and minced garlic in a blender, a jar with a tight-fitting lid or a medium bowl. Blend, shake or whisk until smooth. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper.

To prepare salad: Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan, add 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Put potatoes in the basket and steam until barely tender when pierced with a skewer, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on size. When cool enough to handle, slice or quarter.

Meanwhile, toss chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a clean cutting board to cool. Shred into bite-size pieces.

Season a wooden salad bowl by rubbing with 1/2 clove garlic and a pinch of salt. Chop the garlic and add to the bowl along with the potatoes and mâche (or spinach). Pour 1/2 cup dressing over the potatoes and greens; gently toss to coat. (Cover and refrigerate the remaining 3/4 cup dressing for up to 3 days.) Add peas, shallot and the shredded chicken; gently toss and serve.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese and Apple-Cider Vinaigrette

According to  How Stuff Works:  Spinach and other dark leafy greens like kale, collards, Swiss chard, turnip greens and bok choy are loaded with calcium, folic acid, vitamin K and iron.

Spinach is also rich in vitamin C, fiber and carotenoids. Add its lutein and bioflavanoids and spinach is a nutritional powerhouse. The calcium content in spinach and the other dark leafy greens mentioned above strengthens bones.

The A and C vitamins in spinach plus the fiber, folic acid, magnesium and other nutrients help control cancer, especially colon, lung and breast cancers. Folate also lowers the blood levels of something called homocysteine, a protein that damages arteries. So spinach also helps protect against heart disease.  The flavonoids in spinach help protect against age related memory loss.

Spinach's secret weapon, lutein, makes it one of the best foods in the world to prevent cataracts, as well as age related macular degeneration, the leading cause of preventable blindness in the elderly. Foods rich in lutein are also thought to help prevent cancer.

There are many variation of spinach salad but this is one of my favorites.

Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese

Ingredients:
8 cups baby spinach leaves, washed
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:
Place spinach in a large bowl and toss with vinaigrette to coat. Top with walnuts and goat cheese and serve.

Apple-Cider Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
1/2 cup organic Apple-Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed or minced

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons Italian Herbs (dried and pre-mixed)


Directions:
Mix all ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake.  This recipe does not have to be refrigerated.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sesame-Ginger Dressing

With all of the wonderful recipes out there, I have no need for bottled dressing.  Salad doesn't have to be boring and this recipe doubles as a delicious marinade.

Sesame-Ginger Dressing

Ingredients:
Sesame Oil
Rice wine vinegar
Low-sodium soy sauce
Ginger, grated
Garlic Powder

In another bowl, combine 2 tsp toasted sesame oil, 1 tsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce, 1/2 tsp grated ginger, 1/4 tsp garlic powder.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

5 Minute Artisan Bread

Another fabulous post from Back to the Basics:

I was speaking with a friend today about bread.  Although I am unable to eat bread during my detox, I feel that it is necessary to prepare for post-purification.  I plan to eliminate store bought bread completely.  Before, I always had an extra loaf on hand in the freezer for last minute meals.  No more!

Below is a recipe for 5 Minute Artisan Bread.  I first stumbled upon this recipe at Mother Earth News. 

By Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François


The Master Recipe: Boule

Makes 4 1-pound loaves
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1⁄2 tbsp granulated yeast (1 1⁄2 packets)
1 1⁄2 tbsp coarse kosher or sea salt
6 1⁄2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour
Cornmeal for pizza peel

The artisan free-form loaf called the French boule is the basic model for all the no-knead recipes. The round shape (boule in French means “ball”) is the easiest to master. You’ll learn how wet the dough needs to be (wet, but not so wet that the finished loaf won’t retain its form) and how to shape a loaf without kneading. And you’ll discover a truly revolutionary approach to baking: Take some dough from the fridge, shape it, leave it to rest, then let it bake while you’re preparing the rest of the meal.
Keep your dough wet — wetter doughs favor the development of sourdough character during storage. You should become familiar with the following recipe before going through any of the others.

Mixing and Storing the Dough

1. Heat the water to just a little warmer than body temperature (about 100 degrees Fahrenheit).

2. Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5-quart bowl or, preferably, in a resealable, lidded container (not airtight — use container with gasket or lift a corner). Don’t worry about getting it all to dissolve.

3. Mix in the flour by gently scooping it up, then leveling the top of the measuring cup with a knife; don’t pat down. Mix with a wooden spoon, a high-capacity food processor with dough attachment, or a heavy-duty stand mixer with dough hook, until uniformly moist. If hand-mixing becomes too difficult, use very wet hands to press it together. Don’t knead! This step is done in a matter of minutes, and yields a wet dough loose enough to conform to the container.

4. Cover loosely. Do not use screw-topped jars, which could explode from trapped gases. Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flatten on top), approximately two hours, depending on temperature. Longer rising times, up to about five hours, will not harm the result. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period. Refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and easier to work with than room-temperature dough. We recommend refrigerating the dough at least three hours before shaping a loaf. And relax! You don’t need to monitor doubling or tripling of volume as in traditional recipes.

On Baking Day

5. Prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent the loaf from sticking to it when you slide it into the oven.

Sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour, then cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-sized) piece with a serrated knife. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won’t stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on four “sides,” rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go, until the bottom is a collection of four bunched ends. Most of the dusting flour will fall off; it doesn’t need to be incorporated. The bottom of the loaf will flatten out during resting and baking.

6. Place the ball on the pizza peel. Let it rest uncovered for about 40 minutes. Depending on the dough’s age, you may see little rise during this period; more rising will occur during baking.

7. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450 degrees with a baking stone on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on another shelf.

8. Dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing, serrated knife to pass without sticking. Slash a 1⁄4-inch-deep cross, scallop or tick-tack-toe pattern into the top. (This helps the bread expand during baking.)

9. With a forward jerking motion of the wrist, slide the loaf off the pizza peel and onto the baking stone. Quickly but carefully pour about a cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is browned and firm to the touch. With wet dough, there’s little risk of drying out the interior, despite the dark crust. When you remove the loaf from the oven, it will audibly crackle, or “sing,” when initially exposed to room temperature air. Allow to cool completely, preferably on a wire rack, for best flavor, texture and slicing. The perfect crust may initially soften, but will firm up again when cooled.

10. Refrigerate the remaining dough in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next two weeks: You’ll find that even one day’s storage improves the flavor and texture of your bread. This maturation continues over the two-week period. Cut off and shape loaves as you need them. The dough can also be frozen in 1-pound portions in an airtight container and defrosted overnight in the refrigerator prior to baking day.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Cooking from Scratch: DIY Cream Cheese

This recipe isn't exactly from scratch but a much healthier version of store-bought cream cheese.  I posted the recipe over at Back to the Basics and I really enjoyed the outcome.  One of my readers suggested adding herbs.  YUM!

I found a wonderful recipe for Live-Cultured Cream Cheese over at Little City Farm.  If I ever get back to eating dairy again (now that I'm finished with the detox)  I'll be making this little gem for sure! 

Live Cultured Cream Cheese 

You will need:
2 cups live cultured yogurt
several layers of cheesecloth and one elastic band
wooden stick (e.g. a chopstick)
large pitcher or measuring cup


1) Pour the yogurt through the cheesecloth, into the large pitcher/measuring cup.  Secure the cheesecloth with the elastic band to hold it in place while the whey from the yogurt continues to drip through.

2) After about 2 hours (or when the yogurt stops dripping), wrap the cheesecloth tightly around the "ball" of yogurt and secure with elastic.  Hang this from the chopstick over top of the pitcher. 
3) After 24 hours you will have nice firm live cultured cream cheese that you can scrape out of the cheesecloth, plus about a cup of whey in your pitcher.  Use the whey in smoothies, baking, etc.
This would be great on homemade whole wheat bread!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Cooking from Scratch: Salad Dressing

Below is a recipe for salad dressing.  I found this recipe a few years ago when I started a nutritional detox program for the first time.  I continue to use this recipe even after the program because it is DELICIOUS!

Apple-Cider Vinaigrette (my version) 
1/2 cup organic Apple-Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed or minced

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons Italian Herbs (dried and pre-mixed)
 

Mix ingredients and refrigerate or let sit at room temperature.


Originally published at Back to the Basics.

Cooking from Scratch: Hummus

Another quick and easy recipe from Mary's Kitchen.  My husband has realized that he really likes hummus.  Buying hummus from the store can be very expensive and I'm always leery about what is actually in store-bought, prepared foods.

Hummus

Ingredients
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pinch paprika
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley

Directions
Place the garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, salt and garlic in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl.

Drizzle olive oil over the garbanzo bean mixture. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley. 

Want to spice up your Hummus?  
Try adding Pine Nuts, Sundried Tomatoes or Spinach!