Tuesday, January 31, 2012

About Life and Healing

Fair warning: this is a lengthy post. I think it would be worth reading. But if you don't want lengthy, then you need not go on from here...or come back when you do have time to read it. :)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Orange Walnut Crumble Cakes - from Daily Bites

I just made 6 dozen of these muffins for a lovely women's gathering at my church this morning (I also made Lemon Poppyseed Muffins). I could probably do an entire post about how much I love the incredible, beautiful women at my church, but at this point, let's just say they are an amazing blessing to me! :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

It's Girl Scout Season again....

...And until yesterday, I didn't think anything of it.

Then, one of my co-workers started going door to door in the office, selling cookies for the troop she oversees. For the first time in my life, I had to say no to Thin Mints. My favorite Girl Scout cookie of all time.

Not 5 seconds later, I decided that I would just make my own.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Moroccan Cuisine....Take 1

The part of me that loves international food is starting to revive again. In this post, I eluded some to my love of Indian food...I also think that I could probably live on Mediterranean and (some) Thai food :)

How to Make Your Own Veggie Broth (a.k.a. Mirepoix)

Say what??...Mere, huh?
Shortly after my first stint at making vegetable broth with celery, carrots, and some leftover onion, I was told that this kind of broth is known to professional chefs (like on those cooking shows) as mirepoix (pronounced meer-pwah). So if you want to sound professional when you're at home cooking your veggie broth, and your family asks, "What are you making?" you can look up from the stove and say, "oh, it's just my mirepoix." That's got to make them impressed, at least for a couple of seconds!

Making veggie broth is extremely simple.
(And, by the way, if you want to make chicken broth, you can do the exact same thing, except use leftover pieces of your rotisserie chicken in pot)
1) Roughly chop leftover vegetables.
2) Put them in a large pot.
3) Cover the veggies with water.
4) Simmer on medium to med-low (depending on your stove), covered, for about an hour.

The veggies I used here were (as mentioned earlier), celery, carrots, and onions. I also added pepper and dried parsley just because.
When it's done, use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables and discard. Strain the rest of the broth into a heat-proof bowl, and allow broth to cool. Then you can use it for soups or other recipes, or put into containers and freeze for later.

How to Roast Your Own Garlic

Recently I discovered this site to an amazingly easy (and yummy!) way to roast your own garlic, by wrapping it up in aluminum foil. Also I have a book that teaches how to roast garlic a slightly different way, by putting it in a pan with olive oil. . So here I will be illustrating the two ways to roast garlic.

Technique #1 will be on the left, and will be the pan-roasted version.
Technique #2 is on the right, and is the aluminum foil version.

Take the whole bulb of garlic and cut the pointy tops off.
With #1, put in heat-proof pan, and pour 1 teaspoon of olive oil into the bulb.
With #2, wrap in aluminum foil.
Roast in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.
For #1 (pan-roasted): Use the prongs of a fork or a sharp knife to get the cloves out.
For #2: With this one, you're supposed to be able to squeeze the bulb with your hand, and the cloves come out. This works, except that they become a little more squished (which is fine if you're throwing the garlic into a soup or something anyway). So you can pick your method of choice. Here is one of the recipes I've made with the roasted garlic.

How to Cook Plantains

(I got this idea from this post at Life, Gluten Free. Also, for more on the do's and don't's of cooking plantains, click here.)
Introducing plantains:

What is a plantain, you may ask? They are similar to bananas, but are starchier, and are usually not eaten raw. The peeling of plantains is thicker than a banana's, so it's a little harder to peel. For this recipe, you have to wait till the plantain peeling is black. That's when it's perfect to cook. I tried frying it when it was still green, and it came out tasting like the consistency of french fries--which isn't horrible, but not exactly right when you're looking for caramel-ly sweet richness.

Slice the plantains thinly. (One reason for my "french fry"-like plantains the first time was because I sliced them too thickly) You can do this in rounds or longways.

I like to fry mine in coconut oil. Just put a blob in the skillet on medium high until it melts.

Fry on both sides, or until the slices turn a dark brown, and almost look burnt. That means they're perfect!

(Some people may not cook theirs this long. But my sister has been to Guatemala, and she says that they cook theirs like this--except sliced longways--and they melt in your mouth.)

I can't describe to you exactly what these taste like (maybe crunchy on the outside, sweet, rich fruitness on the inside), but you should definitely try them for yourself!
I would share some with you, but I already ate them all :)

How to Make Dried Cranberries (without added sugar)

Apparently, it is pretty easy to dry your own berries, especially if you don't want the added sugar that always comes in the packaged kind. Today I gave it a whirl. My method is adapted from this post from the Cranberry Moms blog that I found. For this post I will use cranberries as an example, but I've heard that you can do this same thing for almost any berries (blueberries, etc). 

Preheat oven to 150-200 degrees.
Boil 2 cups of water. Turn burner off.
Submerge 1 (12oz) package of cranberries in the water. You will hear something to the effect of "squishhhh....whoosh....pthh..." as the berries will begin to "pop" and split.

In a couple minutes, when the berries have stopped popping, drain the pan and spread the cranberries on a cookie sheet.

Bake at 150-200 degrees overnight (6-8 hours) until berries are completely dried and not sticky.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Yes, I must have that...!

Let me show you this neat book that I recently ordered:
There are numerous books out there that are similar to this, and maybe even better, but this is the one that I settled on. What I like about it is that it is a quick guide to all sorts of fresh fruits, veggies, and other foods--it gives an up-close look at what nutrients are in each food and how they help your body. It also gives tips on foods that may help you boost your immune system, fight disease, and lots of other things.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I finally did it!!! :)

After much trial and error, I have (at least for now) finally mastered my original recipe for gingerbread cookies!!
Yes, I know it's January, and gingerbread is typically a holiday food, but I am pumped about them nonetheless!

Monday, January 16, 2012


I don't know about you, but I drink water on a daily basis. I don't really care for carbonated beverages, but sometimes I do get tired of just plain water. And even in the winter time, we need water. Here's an idea to spruce up your routine for healthy liquid intake. I got this idea from my pastor's wife, who makes the most beautiful fruit water arrangements for several wedding showers that I've been to.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

I love the weekends, because I have time to cook. Of course, I also run my needed errands, go walk, or just laze around in general. But usually some sort of baking or cooking gets accomplished, in volumes that I can't manage during the week. It's the best time to try new recipes, too.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Runners' Bars, Version #2

I just created a new page (the tabs on top) for "how to" recipes that I will be adding to as I continue to experiment in the kitchen. Today I made dried cranberries...Go check it out!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mishaps and Mmm's....

The Do's and Don't's of Cooking a Plantain

Today I went to an Hispanic grocery store that opened up fairly recently in my town. Having never been there before, I spent a good part of my lunch break perusing the aisles and examining all the authentic cuisine that was available. I picked up some unsweetened (!) shredded coconut, sesame seeds, and a couple of lemons for some lemon poppyseed muffins I'm making later this week. Also, I found plantains (for more on plantains, click here).

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Vegetable Enchiladas

My sister made these last night for dinner, and they were amazing, so I had to share! The recipe comes directly from a website called Perry's Plate, so I'll just give you the link to it here. The only thing different was that we didn't add the corn.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Strawberry "Cheesecake"

It's time for another raw dessert recipe! This one is adapted from the tropical cheesecake recipe in this post. This dessert is probably not necessarily "healthy," and definitely not low-cal...But if you're not worrying about that this January, or you want a healthier version of strawberry cheesecake, then this is for you!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A little something different....

Thanks so much to everyone who viewed and/or commented on my Almond Coconut tea biscuits yesterday!! I so enjoyed reading everyone's comments, as well as looking at other people's biscuit recipes! This was my first time doing anything like that for my blog, so it's fun and very exciting for me to get to share, and get involved with other bloggers :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cilantro Chicken Tacos

I loooove fresh cilantro.

Though I don't actually get it very often, my sister recently bought some for a recipe she wanted to try. The fresh scent wafting from the grocery sack immediately drew me in. I like to put mine in a little cup of water in the fridge after I've washed it; that way it stays fresh longer, and it also brightens up the fridge a little :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

"Ice Cream" in Winter

OK, so I'm on a dessert kick...but this is one dessert (of many) that you can feel good about eating.
Because it's not really ice cream.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Experimenting Adventures :)

So, I can't deny it:
I have a sweet tooth.

However, since I have begun eating differently, I've figured out that my body can tolerate much less sugar than it used to. Even bittersweet chocolate (since it has a little bit of refined sugar added) doesn't sit very well with me. But that has not kept me from experimenting! In this process I have discovered something new: raw recipes.