Sunday, February 7, 2016

Painting and Party

We painted the walls of the kitchen for a (necessary) finishing touch.  It looks so nice in the morning sunlight, with some forsythia branches that I picked up at Whole Foods.

We hosted a Mardi Gras party to play around cooking some of our New Orleans favorites.  It was a fun crowd!  I love how when you have a party with vinyl, everyone takes a turn picking a record, and the music never seems to stop. 

bourbon milk punch
satsuma champagne mimosas

Smoked Oyster Pate
Oysters Bienville (broiled with breadcrumbs, shallots, and butter)
muffaletta salad (chopped up muffaletta insides on toast)
garlic bread
Fresh Raw Oysters on ice
Baked Boudin Balls with Mustard Remoulade
TurkeyBacon-wrapped Shrimp-and-Grits Tarts with BBQ spices
Southern Shrimp Cocktail
Crab Imperial with Garlic- Chive Sauce 
Bananas Foster Bread Pudding
king cake bundt cake

We used the punch bowl and these adorable little mini plates that my sister-in-law gave us to assemble tiny individual serving shrimp cocktails and shrimp-and-grits tarts with roasted okra.

The Oysters Bienville were broiled in ceramic dishes oyster shell dishes that we picked up at Petite Amelie during this last trip to New Orleans.

And Ben shucked dozens of raw oysters over the course of the night.  We had to make a special order at the grocery store.  We served them with caviar and mignonette.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Homemade Low-Glycemic Chocolate for Midnight Snacks and Prettier Skin

I love a piece of chocolate as a midnight snack.  Since my skin has been improving so much after my ELISA/ACT testing done at Cornerstone Health, in reduced redness and in overall texture and "glow", I have been inspired to eat for my skin a little more.  I've been drinking cups of tea in the morning and finishing the day with hot water with lemon.  

This recipe uses coconut oil, ghee, honey, and cacao powder to create a fudgy, rich chocolate that won't spike your blood sugar and doesn't contain milk solids and dairy skin irritants like casein and lactose.  

For added flavor and some added fiber and vitamins, I added maca powder.  I love the flavor of maca; it tastes like old-fashioned malt powder (think "Malted Milk Balls" without the chocolate coating).  I also added ho shou wu powder for its antioxidant properties.  Also, both of these ingredients are rumoured to have aphrodisiac properties... soooooo Happy Valentines Day!   (Although many so-called aphrodisiacs are just vitamin-rich, energizing foods, it seems)

Low-Glycemic Chocolate

-1/4 cup ghee
-1/4 cup coconut oil*
-1/4 cup raw honey* or several drops stevia
-1 cup cacao powder
-2 tsps maca powder
-2 tsps ho shou wu powder
-chopped raw almonds

Prepare a 8x8 glass or metal baking dish by cutting a piece of wax paper to fit in the bottom.  Combine coconut oil and ghee in a glass bowl set over a simmering pot of water, and stir until completely melted. Add honey or stevia and stir until incorporated.  Remove from the heat and whisk in cacao and other powders. Pour into prepared baking dish, sprinkle with chopped almonds, and freeze for about 25 minutes, or until firm. When ready, pop the bark out of the dish with a butter knife, and break into pieces.

*My source for huge amounts of coconut oil and raw honey, at the very best price, is Costco.  I don't even have a membership, I just ask people to please take me once every 6 months.

Combine coconut oil and ghee in a glass bowl set over a simmering pot of water, and stir until completely melted.

Remove from the heat and whisk in cacao and other powders.
There you have it! It's very delicious and fudgy, you wouldn't even know that it's healthier for you! 

Nori Wrap with Quick Fermented Sea Vegetables

Nori Wrap with Quick Fermented Sea Vegetables
-1 24-oz jar sauerkraut
-1 carrot
-2 green onions
-2 Tbsp hijiki seaweed
-1 tsp sesame oil
-1 Tbsp rice vinegar
-2 sheets roasted nori
-1 avocado
-2 umeboshi (Japanese salt-pickled plums), chopped - or- umeboshi paste to taste

1. Remove half the sauerkraut from the jar and save to use in a different recipe.
2. Add the hijiki seaweed and 2 Tbsp hot water to a small bowl, allow to soak.
3. Run the carrot through a spiralizer, or use a vegetable peeler to get shredded carrots.
4. Finely dice the green onions.
5. Hijiki seaweed should be reconstituted by now.  Add carrot, green onions, hijiki seaweed, sesame oil, and rice vinegar to sauerkraut jar.  Shake to incorporate or stir with a clean spoon.
6. Slice the avocado and put half of the slices on each nori sheet.
7. Spread umeboshi paste or sprinkle umeboshi pieces, if using, onto nori and avocado.
8. Top avocado slices with a drained spoonful of sea vegetables, roll up like a taco, and enjoy. Temaki-style!

These quick-fermented sea vegetables would make a fine nightshade-free kimchi.

Friday, January 1, 2016

First Floor Powder Room... Complete!

Our last big project is complete!  New floor, wallpaper, and sink vanity for the first floor bathroom!

We replaced the brown linoleum with herringbone marble, installed a new vanity with a Craigslist Rohl faucet, put up wallpaper leftover from our Main St apartment (hey, it's really hard to find wallpaper you want to keep for years), put up an old Venetian glass mirror from ebay, and bought a Turkish cotton shower curtain at Home Goods.  As a finishing touch, we also installed a solid wood door to match the other 1919 doors in the house.  We are working on phasing out the few hollow-core doors that were installed sometime in the 1980s or '90s, and this one had to go for the room to feel complete! 

Rohl faucet from Craigslist
New solid wood door and Martha Stewart "River Mist" paint, code MSL119

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Nightshade-Free Recipes

Sweet potatoes with bourbon and maple
butternut squash ribbons with arugula and hazelnut
Peppercorn roasted turkey with vermouth pan sauce
mustard kale salad with sweet potato
roast beef with horseradish
homemade chicken soup
chicken marbella with kumquats
blackberry-balsamic chicken
kale and sausage hand pies
moroccan wild rice butternut squash salad
chickpea pancackes with smoky roasted carrots
pumpkin creme fraiche spaghetti with fried onions and sage leaves
chicken meatballs with lemon and kale
cranberry walnut chickpea salad sandwich
vinegar braised chicken and onions
sweet, crispy chicken better than takeout
braised lamb with roasted squash and onion sauce
chicken with shallots prunes and armagnac
kale and mushrooms with creamy polenta
braised kale and turnips with smoked turkey
pumpkin and lentils with goat cheese
tahini cauliflower soup
winter soba
braised fennel and white beans
chicken and onion tagine
baked lemon and thyme mushrooms
duck breast with garam masala and grapes
choucroute soup
bo ssam
chicken and walnut stew
pumpkin stuffed with everything good
chicken apples and cream a la normande
duck breast with red wine sauce and candied kumquats
smoked whitefish brandade
beggars lingeuine
roasted squash and onions with yogurt
pumpkin chili
chicken with date and cilantro relish
coq au riesling
st tropez chicken with lavender and honey
chicken and pumpkin with soy and star anise
sweet potatoes with stilton and walnuts
kale rice bowl
sesame kale and kraut bowl
red lentil and sweet potato hummus
farro white bean and preserved lemon salad
squash and soba noodle soup
coconut lime chicken noodle soup
lentils with avocado and hummus
soba with salmon and asparagus
tangled thai salad
celeriac with mint and lentils
grape leaves
gomashio rice cakes with oyster mushrooms and cilantro chutney
roasted japanese sweet potatoes with miso spinach
pumpkin with white beans and sausage
chickpea kofta with yogurt soup
lentils with wine glazed vegetables
sweet potato black bean kale skillet
japanese chicken meatballs

Monday, October 26, 2015

20 Freezer Meals for $65

To get the best deals, I started at Aldi.  For reasons why, and a detailed list of which stores offer the cheapest pricing on specific grocery items, here's my grocery research.  Aldi tops the list and Costco is a not-so-close second, followed by Jewel, Trader Joe, and Walmart (but there are a few items that each store has the best deals on).

I was able to purchase about half my list at Aldi:
-Basic veggies (carrots, onions, potatoes), all on sale for 50 to 75-cents per bag
-All canned veggies, all at about 50-cents a can
-marmalade and applesauce, at $1.50 each
-ground turkey, stew meat, bacon, frozen chicken breasts, chicken drumsticks
Total: $53.70

If you haven't been to Aldi in a year or so, take a look.  They now offer grassfed meat, freerange chicken broth, healthier dry goods (no artificial color, hydrogenated oils, or MSG in any product sold), and their produce has improved in freshness (still check your bags of potatoes and onions to be sure they're all ok).

Once I was done at Aldi, I checked the ads to find the best deals on meat (since that was the most expensive part).  Pork roasts, which I was unable to find at Aldi, were on sale Buy One Get One Free at Jewel, so I went there.  Strategy.

I bought the remainder of my list there, which included a lot of produce.  In-season produce is usually comparable prices no matter where you get it.  And I'm unwilling to compromise on soy sauce, hot sauce, and mustard, so I got the brands that I like even though they weren't on sale.  For containers, Walgreens had a great deal on gallon freezer bags, 15 bags for only 99-cents, so Jenny made a quick stop there and picked up 3 boxes.  (Still running through Nov 1st if you're interested)

The total for both stores came to $131.64, for both stores.  This was enough ingredients for 40 meals, which Jenny and I were preparing together and then splitting, so the total was roughly $65 per person for 20 meals each.

Roast Pork with Cranberry and Ginger

Buffalo-Style Chicken
Modifications: As with all recipes that follow, thaw the frozen bag overnight and then follow the recipe's original heating instructions.  Obviously, you are freezing just the buffalo chicken drumsticks and making the optional celery salad the day you cook the chicken :)

Hot Pepper Pork with Butternut Squash
Modifications: I thought 8oz of jelly for 4 servings was too much sugar (that would mean 1/4 cup jelly in each individual serving!), so I did this weird thing where I substituted pickled jalapenos and some honey for hot pepper jelly.  Not sure if it will work out.  If you're less sugar-phobic, you can just follow the recipe.

Braised Short Ribs with Korean BBQ Sauce
I combined this recipe and substituted the hoisin sauce with Gwyneth Paltrow's "Korean BBQ Sauce" recipe

Pork with Red Cabbage and Smoked Apple Puree
Lots of modifications: Too big to all fit in one gallon bag, so I added the pork and apple puree to one bag, and all the other ingredients to another bag.  Cabbage only keeps in the freezer for a month (it keeps in the fridge at least that long), so this was maybe a silly recipe to freeze?  I plan on baking the pork roast and slow-cooking the cabbage.  I wouldn't make this recipe again as a freezer-to-crockpot recipe.

Nikujaga: Japanese meat-and-potato stew
Modifications: Do not add potatoes or water to freezer bag.  Add them when you are adding the stew to the slowcooker.

Gwyneth Paltrow's Posole Soup
Modifications: do not add can of hominy to freezer bag, replace 5 cups broth with 4 tsps bouillon* and add 5 cups water when you reheat on stovetop.  Add hominy near the end of cooking.


Modifications: omitted shrimp (I don't think shrimp belong in a slow-cooker), omitted broth (replace with 2 tsp bouillon*, add 3 cups water when you put it in the slow-cooker), rice (add rice when you add to slow cooker)

White Bean and Chicken Chili
Modifications: Do not add cans of tomatoes or beans to freezer bag.  Add them while you are heating the soup.  The beans would get too mushy.

*bouillon: I use "Better Than Bouillon" these days, which gives a more natural flavor and uses less salt.

My Grocery List:
-12 tomatillos
-4 jalapenos
-4 lbs red cabbage
-2 granny apples
-1 bok choy
-8" fresh ginger
-1 bag matchstick carrots
-1 bag carrots
-2 bags onions
-1 bag celery
-1 lemon
-2 cups cranberries (couldn't find ANY, had to use canned)

-2 28-oz cans hominy
-1 can tomato paste
-4 14-oz cans tomatoes
-4 14-oz cans cannelini beans

-soy sauce
-2 jars chopped garlic in water
-stoneground mustard
-orange marmalade
-2 jars applesauce
-8 oz hot sauce
-dried cranberries

-2 lbs frozen butternut squash
-wonton wrappers (found next to tofu in produce aisle)

-6 lbs beef short rib
-2 lbs pork tenderloin
-1 lb stew pork
-4 3-lb pork roasts
-1 package bacon
-5 lbs chicken drumsticks
-6 chicken breasts
-1 lb ground turkey
-2 lbs turkey sausage

Note: I started with a pretty substantial pantry that I was willing to share.  Some things that I had on hand that others might not: dashi granules, gochujang, sake, chicken bouillon, vinegars (rice, cider), olive oil, sesame oil,  honey, brown sugar, and a lot of dried spices.