Kale chip attempt 1

I seem to have a problem with burning things. On stoves. In ovens. In the dryer.

So it’s no surprise that my first attempt at kale chips, would result in some kale-flavored charcoal.

 

burnt kale chips.

so…. crispy.

I seasoned the kale with oil and salt, and broiled in the oven. Tips burned while bottoms were still mushy. Baking them seems to be a bit more successful…

I really like crispy kale, though.

 

::BK::

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kale and portobellos

I read that garlic, mushrooms, and kale makes a nice pizza topping with cheese. I had the ingredients minus the pizza, so I cooked ’em up in a saute to see what it’d be like. It cooked okay but the texture was wrong, so I spread out the mix on a baking sheet and broiled in the oven. As expected the kale turned crispy. It wasn’t exactly fork- or finger-friendly, but I gobbled it up with my fingers! Flavors went well together, tasted great. B/c I wilted the kale in the pan before baking it, it was a lot nicer in the eating than typical kale chips. All tender and crispy; no toughness at all.

Future ideas: make a mushroom-garlic sauce and coat the kale before baking, making snackable ‘chips’. Or, ignore stigmas, and be happy with my unconventional finger food. 😉

So tasty!

So tasty!

::BK::

Yams, I love them

Oh the simple joys of life: a baked sweet potato* will all the sugars oozing out and soft to perfection.

baked yam

Baked yams mmm

*the vegetable pictured is actually a ‘red garnet’ yam; however, ‘sweet potato’ sounded more poetic. 😉 Yams are deep orange inside and very sweet; sweet potatoes are lighter in color and taste more like potatoes. The two are often confused, but I prefer yams.

::BK::

Best Green Smoothie

This is my absolute favorite ‘green smoothie’ yet! Try it, you really might like it. 😀

Best Green Smoothie: Avocado/Kale
Makes 1-2 servings (almost 16oz)

Stuff:

2 large leaves frozen kale = a generous 1 cup packed
1/2 frozen avocado [see note below]
stevia (I use 1 tiny scoop of pure stevia powder, but other kinds would work)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup water or milk (unsweetened sunflower seed milk is the best!)
Optional: 1 TB wheatgrass powder for an added kick.

Blend kale first with just a little bit of water. It should shatter and grind up well. Then add avocado and blend till thick. Add water/milk and flavorings.

green smoothie in a glass.

Enjoy plain or add your favorite ‘kick’! (berries, wheatgrass, flax…)

That’s it! Super quick, and AMAZINGLY delicious.
If it tastes too ‘avocado-y’, add salt a 1/4 tsp at a time ’till it mellows out.

Frozen kale: wash fresh kales leaves, put in freezer bags, and freeze. Then pry off a frozen leaf when you need a smoothie. Frozen kale is great because it breaks apart easily (rather than being all stringy in the blender), and seems to be less bitter than the fresh kind.
Frozen avocado: I preserve hass avocados by blending 1 avocado with a few tsp of lemon juice and 1/2 tsp salt, and freezing the puree in an airtight container. I then break off chunks for smoothies. You could do this, or use fresh avocado.
If using fresh avocado:
-Only use perfectly ride ones.
-Add some ice cubes if you prefer a cold/slushy smoothie
-Add lemon juice and salt

This smoothie keeps surprisingly well: I’ll often save some in the fridge till the next day, with no problems. Avocado is a great replacement for banana in smoothies — I actually like it better!
I love this drink: the greens are energizing, and the natural fat of the avocado makes this a satisfying breakfast. Fresh fruit and a tall glass of green goodness is my favorite way to start the day. 🙂

Did you know? Wheatgrass is an amazing superfood! Whenever I have it for breakfast, my brain is  clearer and more focused for hours afterwards. I always have wheatgrass on exam days, to prevent brain-foggyness on the test. (seriously!)

Enjoy.

::BK::

Mini Pot Pies!

I wanted to make vegetable pot pie, but I didn’t have broth, peas, egg, or crust available. Was this possible? I turned to the Internet to find out.

Most of the recipes I found did call for eggs, or a fancy crust, but I got the general idea of what vegetables and spices go well in a pot pie. This recipe is an amalgamation of pot-pie formulas, with my own innovation for the crust.
It came out quite well! The crust was a bit weird in the making, but when baked tasted fine as an addition to the pie. I made these in brownie-pans, so they’re serving-size pies. 🙂 This is another freezer-food: one mini-pie, heated up, makes a great meal for one!

Note: I used butter to make the crust, which makes this recipe not vegan. You could use oil or other shortenings, but I don’t know if they’d work. The filling, however, is totally veg. 🙂

This recipe looks long and complicated, but it’s really easy and fairly quick, I swear!

The Pot-Pie Recipe:
Makes 6 mini-pies. Or pour into a regular pan for family dinner.

1-2 TB butter (or olive oil)
2 cloves garlic [crush/dice]
2 small leeks [slice]
1/2 onion [slice]
3 (small) or 2 (med/large) carrots [cube]
1 stalk celery [dice]
1/2 to 1 C of sweet potato [dice]
small handful green beans [dice]
1/2 a portobello mushroom (or button mushrooms) [dice]

1. Melt the butter/oil in a soup pot, then put everything above in pot and sauté, starting with the garlic and going down the list. When all veggies are satisfactorily sauteed, add:

1.5 C water (or more, it should not stick to the pan, but not be super-soupy.)

And bring to a simmer.
10 minutes in, add:

2-4 TB flour (I used amaranth flour)

Stir pot as necessary.
15-20 minutes in, add:

1/4 C fresh parsley [chop]
2 tsp thyme
pinch cumin
salt, pepper

Simmer 15-20min total, or until veggies are slightly tender (sweet potato and carrots should be about half-cooked when poked with a fork). It should be thickened up by now.

Turn off heat, and scoop mix into crust [see recipe below], using a slotted spoon (to prevent excessive soupy-ness).
For mini-pies: use brownie-bar pan, or muffin tins for itty-bitty-pies!

To eat now: Bake at 415 F, for 20+ minutes, or until all veggies are soft and crust is golden.
To eat later: Put uncooked pie straight in freezer overnight. Then carefully pry it out of the pan, pop the frozen pie in a freezer bag(if you need your baking dish back), and stick back in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat it: Bake straight from the freezer (in a baking dish of course) at 415 F for 30-40 minutes or until done.

individual size pot pies, made in a brownie-bar baking pan.

Mini-pies for supper!

Times:
-25 min chopping and cooking the vegetable on stove
-20 min prepping the crust
-30 min baking to eat them

Deliciousness:
Frankly, I was impressed! The flavors blended perfectly, and I got that mm-comfort-food feeling in my tummy. I’ve always loved pot pie.  ^_^ Crust didn’t seem to be a problem – flavors of individual grains disappeared, and it just added a nice texture.

Cost:
Haven’t calculated this one yet, but definitely reasonable. Most expensive item would be the mushrooms. (Could make that cheaper by using canned ones.)

 

=====

Crust is classic, but optional. If you want crust:
Crust Recipe:
(Requires basic pie-crust-making knowledge)
-about 1.5 – 2 C gluten-free flour mix. Recommended: golden quinoa (vs. red), amaranth, flax, and tapioca starch. Millet is bitter in flour and is not recommended.
-1/4 C cold/frozen butter [cut into little pieces]: work into flour like a regular pie crust.
-add oil as necessary for sufficient shortening (you can use all butter, but I like to do half/half to save money, and you can’t really tell the difference.)
-add a little ice water. The cold water and cold butter help the G.F. flours stick together better.
-salt

You’ll end up with a weird, wont-stick-together, un-rollable dough. That’s okay. Divide up (for mini-pies) into the baking tins. Using fingers, press the dough to the bottom and then up the sides. This is part is labor-intensive but not difficult. Pinch off extra dough. Fill crusts with filling. If you want a top crust, which is totally optional, then: press the remaining dough into a sheet against the side of a mixing bowl, and carefully slide it up into your hand, and then onto the face of the pie. (There’s no way to roll the dough, or pick up a sheet of it, so this was the best I could do. It could be a bit more practical to simply crumble the extra dough on top as a topping.)

-Then bake or freeze as per pie instructions.

 

Notes:
-Use sweet potato, not yams. Yam flavor is too strong, and the point of the sweet potatoes here is as a replacement for the regular kind (but without all the starch). (In the store, sweet potatoes are a lighter potato-color, whereas yams are a deep orange-red. They’re the same shape.)
-Mushrooms are what give it that nice creaminess of a true pot pie. I’m not a mushroom fan, so I put relatively little, but feel free to put twice as much, or different kinds of mushrooms.
-I’ve only cooked this pie from-the-freezer so far, so the ‘eat now’ baking times are only best-guess. Proceed with caution.
-Each pot-pie recipe that I came across had exactly one green vegetable. Instead of green beans, try substituting: broccoli, peas, or asparagus.
-No need to have both leeks and onions, either compliments the potatoes, but I really like leeks.

 

::BK::

Pizza! +cauliflower, -cheese

I saw this awesome Cauliflower Pizza Crust and suddenly knew I had to have pizza. So I made two types of crusts, went shopping for toppings, googled ‘vegan pizza toppings’ for ideas (because I can’t have cheese), and got to work! Here’s what I came up with:

Cauliflower Pizza Crust - thin

Cauliflower Pizza Crust – thin

 

First, I made a crust with cauliflower and a mix of GF flours (millet, amaranth, quinoa). The recipe (link above) made two whole baking sheets! Also, best GF-baked-good yet! The cauliflower makes the difference – I’m going to try using it in other baking projects, too.

 

 

 

 

square pizza crust

Fast cooking, good texture

 

I also made a quinoa crust according to this recipe. Deliciously Ella is a new addition to my food-blog faves – her food selection is close to mine, and I’ve learned a few things from her recipes. Definitely worth checking out.

 

 

 

 

Two combos!

Two combos!

 

Toppings!

Left side: squash (quick roasted, cubed), onions (fried/carmelized), and bell peppers.

Right side: squash, onions, spinach, and portobello mushroom. I ate one of these; it was quite good.

Added spices: basil, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, olive oil.

 

 

I also did a classic tomato-sauce-and-olives, And one with summer squash. I didn’t take pics before I froze them, but I might add some here later.

It was interesting to try out the portobellos: portobello are really the only kind of mushroom I don’t mind (I really dislike the texture and flavor of the smaller ones), so I thought I’d get one and experiment.

After adding the toppings, I stuck ’em back in the oven for 5min or so to make everything stick together as much as possible (a challenge w/o cheese or thick sauces), then cut and froze the slices. Now I have a whole bunch of fast-food meals in my freezer: grab a slice, stick it in a oven, toaster oven, or microwave, and it’s ready in 10min!

Serve with a nice green salad. Did I mention I’ve been craving green salad lately? I’m bringing lettuce back into my dinners.

Notes for next time: The flavor of the ones shown above is really good, but I did still want the texture of sauce. Tomato sauce would drown out the fine squash flavor, so I think perhaps a sauce of bell peppers would work (since they’re in there anyway). Or, alternately, make a creamy squash paste and then put the peppers and onions on top. If said sauce had the right spices, it could totally hold its own to cheese. Most cheeseless pizzas rely on pesto, but that’s out-of-season/expensive, so I’m trying to find alternatives. And of course I could just stick to tomatoes and spinach… but I want to put all kinds of fancy vegetables on my pizza! Like asparagus — I’m going to make one with asparagus sometime.

I still have a ways to go, but I’m pleased with my pizzas, and shall enjoy their eating greatly. 🙂

::BK::

Garden Carrots

Gifted this carrots from a friend – all colors! Garden carrots almost always taste better than the store-bought ones. 🙂

multi colored carrots

I love the bounty of fall!

I shall use some in the veggie-pot-pie I plan to make.

::BK::

Cracker fails, volume 1

So this week I attempted several sorts of non-crackers.The technique isn’t quite refined yet. Here are some of my cracker-iterations:

Sunflower crackers #1:

sun seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, oil, water, quinoa.

sun seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, oil, water, quinoa.

I ground up the seeds and added oil and water, and spread the mash out on a baking sheet. Lots of oil oozed out – the natural oil in the seeds plus the oil I added, was too much. I coarse-ground some quinoa and covered the unbaked cracker with it. During baking, quinoa soaked up much of the oil. I scraped it off to the side as you can see. Crackers tasted not-half-bad.

Buckwheat crackers #1

whole ground buckwheat, millet, quinoa, spices, butter, water

whole ground buckwheat, millet, quinoa, spices, butter, water

These burned, and tasted too gritty, anyway (main problem with unhulled buckwheat flour in general)

Seeds crackers #2

seed flours, coconut butter, quinoa, (tapioca flour?)

seed flours, coconut butter, quinoa, (tapioca flour?)

…Nope.

Buckwheat crackers #2:

buckwheat, millet, quinoa, tapioca, butter or cocobutter (don't remember which), water

buckwheat, millet, quinoa, tapioca, butter or cocobutter (don’t remember which), water

Used a mix of grains plus tapioca to hold it together. This was actually edible, though weird.

Seed crackers #3

ground seeds, quinoa, oil...

ground seeds, quinoa, oil…

The white/light stuff in the pic is the oil, which bubbled out during baking. Halfway through baking, I drained off a bunch of oil. Lots of oil, even though quinoa is in with the flour this time. Edible; close but no cigar.

Seed crackers #4

seed flours, tapioca, water

seed flours, tapioca, water

I finally tried out without any oil added. Tapioca flour gave it a bready texture, but taste is totally nutty seed flavor. Not crispy. Not palatable.

Ah well, I learned a bunch about what doesn’t make a good cracker, and gained some ideas of how to make them next time.

But to leave you on a less depressing note, here’s something that DOES taste good: coconut milk +dandy blend + stevia + nutmeg and cinnamon. Mmmm, I can practically forget about all the dirty baking pans I have to wash…

::BK::

Tumeric Sautée

A great late-summer dish with fresh veggies!

veggies in frying pan.

Cooking up some color.

Stuff:
1 large bell pepper [slice]
1 small or ½ large onion [slice]
2 small or 1 medium zucchini squash [slice]
Cilantro, about ⅔ cup worth [chop]
oil for pan

Spice:
½ tsp salt
½ tsp turmeric

It’s like a sauté but not quite. Cook up everything in a frying pan with olive oil, on medium-low heat. Add the onions first, then zucchini, peppers, and cilantro in succession. Time it so that each item is about ⅓ done cooking when you add the next one. (Bell peppers will end up being mostly raw; add them earlier if you want them soft.) When everything is done to your liking, season with turmeric and salt.
Eat!
Makes 2 servings.
Time: 15 minutes (on gas stove)

====
Notes:
Be careful with the turmeric. It stains all types of surfaces.
Goes with: limeade, fajita meat, guacamole, rice or millet
scalable: somewhat: can feed more if you have more vegetables.
Most spendy item: bell peppers. The organic ones are 5.99/lb (!), commercial ones around $1/each.
Cost of this recipe as I made it: ≈$4.00. Deliciousness-for-money rating: 3 of 5.

::BK::

When Pancakes Go Wrong

some highly unappetizing pancakes.

Craters of the Moon, anyone?

Here I learned a lesson in the difference between hulled and un-hulled buckwheat flour. The first produces a batter similar in texture and appearance to wheat, and makes nice pancakes with just a different flavor. Un-hulled buckwheat flour, on the other hand, makes a batter with the consistency of creek sediment, doesn’t stick together, and the end results are more like souvenirs from Craters of the Moon National Monument, than edible cakes. They didn’t taste that great, either.

::BK::