Tag Archive | flavors

A healthy, yet cheesy idea.

The other day while shopping for groceries, I had the idea to bake some vegetables with some cheese, similar to a casserole yet sans noodles. I knew what characters I’d cast, just not the exact script for this dish.

I googled broccoli casserole. Among several recipes, I found one that matched my idea of what I had in mind to do – put me on the right path. Broccoli Cheese Casserole from ‘add a pinch.com’, I simply used this recipe as a guide. I made it for our lunch today. Warm, cheesy goodness and healthy too.

In addition to the broccoli, I chopped and sauteed onion, celery, carrots and near the end added some chopped kale. I seasoned the veggies to our taste – a small amount of red chili flakes, salt and pepper. I let the saute rest on low heat while I made the cheese sauce according to the recipe (yummy). Then I spooned a layer of veggies in my pan, then a a layer of shredded cheese and the rest of the veggies. Now, for the cheese sauce. I topped it off with another layer of shredded cheese and some crushed buttery crackers.

I baked the casserole at 350 for 40 minutes. Makes a great side dish or a light meal.
And…. I just thought about another ingredient…. BACON… yes, this would be good with bacon. 🙂

sauteed veggies: broccoli, onions, carrots and celery. kale was added just before

sauteed veggies: broccoli, onions, carrots and celery. kale was added just before layering the casserole

making the cheese sauce

making the cheese sauce

ready to chop the fresh kale and add to the other veggies

ready to chop the fresh kale and add to the other veggies

first layer of veggies and cheese

first layer of veggies and cheese

behold... the cheese sauce

behold… the cheese sauce

top with more shredded cheese

top with more shredded cheese

cracker crumbs for a crunchy top

cracker crumbs for a crunchy top

turned out better than I had imagined... look at the bubbly cheesy goodness surrounding the healthy veggies

turned out better than I had imagined… look at the bubbly cheesy goodness surrounding the healthy veggies

Soup’s On

A cloudy, pre-Fall Saturday.

First soup of the season…..

Made with acorn squash (baked and pureed), chopped sweet onions, chopped celery.
Some heat (red chili flakes, a few dashes of ancho chili and some cayenne).
Herbs (basil and sage)
Sweet spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice)

All in an orange juice base with a bit of black pepper, some brown sugar, some butter to smooth is out and milk to thin it a bit near the end of cooking. YES… I forgot to add any granulated garlic and ginger… but it tastes great without it. YUM..

Won’t do any good to ask for a recipe… I just started cooking and tossed in things I thought would make it taste good.

I learned this cooking method from Mom. It worked well for her and usually does for me.

Replacing chicken stock with orange juice made for an interesting flavor, not to mention far less sodium. I just added ingredients, stirred and let the scent of the mixture guide the next step. Of course, I taste tested along the way.

Yes… another made up recipe.

I was taught to cook this way by the BEST…  My Mom.

I can hear her saying, “Soup’s On.”

Breakfast Experiment

My husband considers himself lucky…. some may consider him tortured.
To be subjected to my cooking experiments…. poor man.

I ‘dreamed up’ another recipe that I thought I’d try. I bet there are recipes like this somewhere out there on the internet, in some great cook’s blog; after all… that is how I learned of Baked Oatmeal. Here I had thought I had ‘dreamed it up’ and yet I found it later that morning in a blog.

This recipe is a cross between baked oatmeal and apple pie… sans sugar.
I don’t have a name for it just yet, may never. But here goes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place purchased pie shell on counter to warm up, to become flexible.
OR… make your own pie shell from your favorite recipe.
Place all ingredients as they come in a medium-sized mixing bowl – keep in mind, I made this up as I went.
2 medium apples – peeled, cored, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts – toasted and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup whole grain old fashioned oats
1 egg – beaten
1/2 cup milk – or cream or soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pinch sea salt – freshly ground
Stir well — let set for five minutes while you prep pie shell in your favorite pie pan
Add
1/2 cup blueberries – fresh or frozen
1/4 cup oat flour
Stir gently to combine
Place one half of the mixture in prepared pie shell
Dot with 1/2 tablespoon butter – not margarine – butter
Place the other half of the mixture on top
Dot with another 1/2 tablespoon of butter.

Fold up and in the sides of the pie shell for that rustic look.
Brush folds with milk and sprinkle on a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, amount to your liking. 
Keep in mind there is NO sugar in this recipe, merely the natural sugars of the apple and blueberries and the sweet spices.

Granted I have been trying to cut down on sugar, but truth be told, I actually FORGOT to add any. We’ll see how it turns out.

Bake. 40 minutes in a 400 degree oven.
Crust will be golden brown when done and you’ll hear bubbling coming from the filling. Apples will still have structure and not be mushed. (in other words… apples could be done a little more… depends on what you like)

This was an experiment and I may need to adjust it for another Sunday breakfast… but for now, We Eat!

two apples chopped

two apples chopped

toasted walnuts chopped

toasted walnuts chopped

add sweet spices

add sweet spices

add whole oats

add whole oats

add beaten egg and milk

add beaten egg and milk

stir to combine

stir to combine

add oat flour

add oat flour

place mixture in shell, dot with butter

place mixture in shell, dot with butter

fold in crust and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar

fold in crust and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar

bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes

bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes

cool

cool

get ready to enjoy

get ready to enjoy

Okay… we ate it… and lived…. Yes, it would have been better with a little bit of sugar… maybe even a bit more moisture… but it was pretty good and it looked great. Was good enough for Jeff to have seconds…. yet, he could have merely been starving. Hold the phone… he just admitted he had thirds… that’s what I get for blogging while he does the dishes.  🙂

I tried to create something healthy. It is somewhat healthy without the added sugar, the fiber of the apples and blueberries, the nuts and the oats – the omega3s of the walnuts and the benefits of the cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger are added bonuses. Next time, I may simply add more blueberries as they added the sweetness we wanted. I had also previously thought about cubing up some cheese to bake in it…. maybe we can add some cheese to it as we warm it up… but next time for sure (unless I forget).

a slice for Jeff

a slice for Jeff

the results

the results

a slice for me

a slice for me

Another Pancake Experiment

Well, I had another recipe floating ’round in my head… I am nearly sure MOM put it there. She’s like that.

This time, a pancake with some chai tea in it…. I could almost smell the ingredients. All those wonderful spices.

But what kind of pancake base?

This time I tried a creamier, nearly custard type of batter. (Mom always LOVED a good custard.) I am not sure I hit the mark, but the pancakes were good. And I am sure that any further ‘testing’ will be appreciated by my husband. 😉

To my basic pancake recipe, I added another whole egg, 1 tablespoon of vanilla and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Hindsight tells me I should have added some nutmeg… but I can do that next time. This time I was more concerned with the chai tea and how I was going to incorporate that into the batter.

MEANWHILE….
I wanted some berries for a topper for our pancakes. I grabbed the Marionberries from the freezer, put about 4 cups in a saucepan, 1/4 cup of sugar and a couple shakes of cinnamon. I heated them up real slow, while my other ingredients were coming together. When the berries were nearly finished heating I added 1 tablespoon of “Blackberry Cordial” that we purchased from “Stein Distillery” while on a mini-vacation in Joseph, Oregon

While the Marionberries were slowly heating up, I could get to work on other ingredients. First off, I toasted some almonds. One layer on a sheet of parchment, in a 375-degree oven for 13 minutes. After the almonds cooled, I put about a half cup in my Cuisinart food processor along with 2 heaping tablespoons of “5 Valley Chai” tea produced by “Mountain Tea Trading” that I bought from “Arrowhead Chocolates” while on our trip to Joseph. I ground the two ingredients to the course-side of a fine grind.

I used 3 tablespoons of the almond-chai tea grind in the batter of the pancakes. Cooked the pancakes, then assembled them. Pancake, Marionberries, Greek-style yogurt, a sprinkle of the almond-chai tea grind. Then my husband and I ate a creative breakfast at home.

Looking forward to refining this recipe and experimenting with yet another.

Mom would be pleased. 🙂

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Orange Zest and DARK Chocolate Chip Cookies

Orange Zest and Dark Chocolate Chip CookiesBesides the batch of rolls I had made on January 26th, I stirred up a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Yet, these were not your ordinary chocolate chip cookies. Yes, they started out as a basic recipe, but this time I tried something different.

I added orange zest, orange flavoring and DARK chocolate chips to my favorite basic chocolate chip cookie recipe.

As a little girl, I had little appreciation for the flavors of orange and chocolate together. I do remember that Mom liked the combination. I remember that I did not. However, as it so happened, my taste for flavors changed and I found myself liking the taste of chocolate and orange together. I REALLY like it. This combination must have to do with a woman’s maturity. I’ve spoken with friends about this and most have said they experienced the same. Mom already knew.

The combination of flavors in these cookies are so good, I’ll make them again. 🙂

Recipe for Orange Zest and DARK Chocolate Chip Cookies