The Sunday Recipe: Pasta e Fagioli

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Pasta e Fagioli

Okay, so this is basically a cross between chili and soup. I refer to it as Italian Chili. It is perfect for cooler weather or to serve a crowd who needs nourishment.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 7 ounces carrots, sliced (couple dozen baby carrots, 2 large carrots)
  • 7 ounces celery, sliced (3 or 4 celery ribs)
  • 1 can cannellini beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 32 – 64 ounces beef broth, depending on how soupy you like it (Start with 32.)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • ½ – 28 ounce jar spaghetti sauce, or 1 can of pizza sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot sauce or cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ½ cup elbow macaroni. (Gluten free works well.)

Directions

  1. In a large pot, saute the onion, garlic, celery and carrots in olive oil until softened.
  2. Push veggies to edge of pot and add ground beef.
  3. Chop the ground beef every few minutes until browned.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the pasta.
  5. Simmer for 30 – 60 minutes to meld flavors.
  6. Add the pasta and simmer until soft, about another 20 minutes.
  7. Enjoy.

 

The Sunday Recipe: Maple Pecan Apple Crisp

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Maple Pecan Apple Crisp

This particular recipe is vegan – dairy free and gluten free. I know, what’s left? Lots of rich flavor, I promise. The topping is crisp instead of crumbly but the apples are juicy and it’s every bit as delicious as a traditional apple crisp.

Ingredients

  • 4 large or 6 medium tart baking apples, such as Granny Smith
  • ½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped
  • ½ cup brown rice flour (Most other types of flour work just fine.)
  • ½ cup oats, quick or old-fashioned
  • 1/3 cup light olive oil
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon nutmeg

Directions

  1. Toast the pecans and allow to cool. I do this by filling a toaster oven tin with pecans, one-layer, grooved side up, and toasting on medium setting. You may have to experiment to see what works best in your toaster oven, or full-size oven. Generally, just a few minutes on 350 degrees in a regular oven or in a hot skillet, stirring periodically.
  2. Preheat your oven to 375.
  3. Spray or grease a deep 9 by 9 glass pan or pie plate.
  4. Peel, core, quarter, and slice the apples into ¼ inch thick slices, dropping into the prepared dish as you work.
  5. Break or roughly chop up the toasted and cooled pecans.
  6. Mix together the dry ingredients then stir in the olive oil and maple syrup. (Hint, use a third cup measuring cup for the oil then just use it twice for the maple syrup and the maple syrup will pour out far easier than from a dry cup.)
  7. Stir the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and spoon over the apple slices.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool, at least a little, and enjoy!

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The Sunday Recipe: Simple Foccacia

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The Sunday Recipe: Foccacia

Imagine having warm and yummy bread to go with dinner in just over an hour, any day of the week. This is fast and super simple, based on a pizza dough I’ve been using for years. You can modify it to your tastes easily and it is perfect with soup. My daughter does not like to see herbs on anything, so this just had olive oil and Parmesan on it. I served it with buffalo chicken wing soup this week.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour (and a couple handfuls more for kneading)
  • 1 cup of very warm water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (and more for brushing or drizzling)
  • 1 packet or 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (instant is fine but not necessary)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • Optional: ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1 to 3 teaspoons Italian herbs (basil, oregano, garlic), fresh chopped garlic

Directions

  1. Measure the flour by weight on a kitchen scale (360 grams) or by fluffing with your measuring cup, dip the cup in, then level with the flat side of a knife, and pour into a bowl.
  2. Stir in the yeast, salt, and sugar. (I like to use a whisk for this.)
  3. Heat the cup of water until it is very warm, but you can still put your finger in for a few seconds.
  4. Make a well in the center of the flour mix, and pour in the warm water and olive oil.
  5. Use a rubber spatula to stir the wet and dry ingredients together.
  6. Prepare a bowl with a light coating of olive oil.
  7. Sprinkle a handful of flour on a clean counter or cutting board and turn out the dough.
  8. Knead the dough for five minutes, adding the other handful of flour halfway through.
  9. Place in the oiled bowl and turn over.
  10. Cover with a towel and set aside to rise for 30 minutes.
  11. After 30 minutes, punch down the dough and press into a tin, either a pizza tin or a jelly roll pan.
  12. Cover and let rise 15 more minutes while you preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  13. After 15 minutes, uncover the dough and make indents with the tip of your finger every inch or so over the dough.
  14. Brush the dough with olive oil, about a tablespoon or more.
  15. Add Parmesan cheese, chopped garlic, and/or other spices you like.
  16. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown all over.
  17. Enjoy!

The Sunday Recipe: Creamy Salsa & Chicken Pie

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I was going to make something special for dinner on Cinco de Mayo but forgot and had stuff ready for a chicken pot pie when I remembered. A new recipe was born – chicken pot pie filled with cooked chicken, salsa, cream cheese, and corn. It was delicious. Guacamole and sour cream on the side.

I’m not going to go into the recipe for the pie crust. If you don’t know how to make crust for a pie, talk to Betty. https://www.bettycrocker.com/how-to/tipslibrary/baking-tips/how-to-make-pie-crust

I will offer a few tips. For regular pie crust, the trick is really to be in a hurry – leave the fat content chunks big, like green peas, no over mixing, just enough to bring the dough together, and keep everything cold. Chill the dough ten minutes before rolling out.

I used Spectrum organic vegetable shortening (Spectrum’s shortening is fair trade palm fruit oil, certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).)

Now, with the vegetable shortening, I found it a bit trickier than regular crust so I did a search and found a recipe. I didn’t want to change up my recipe because I LIKED how it turned out when I did an apple pie recently, but it WAS a pain to deal with so I tried her tip of rolling it out on waxed paper then put the pie plate over it upside down and flipping them BOTH over.

It worked, sort of. It really stuck to the paper, maybe because I only had parchment paper. So, on the second crust, I floured the paper and it worked like a dream. I also did not refrigerate the crust before rolling out. It was much easier to work with warm.

Salsa and Cream Cheese Chicken Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 cup of salsa
  • 1 block cream cheese (8 ounces)
  • 1 cup of corn, canned or frozen
  • Crust for top and bottom on a pie.

Directions

Preheat oven to 425.

  1. Prepare bottom pie crust in deep dish pie plate.
  2. Melt the cream cheese in a pot over medium heat with the salsa and corn.
  3. Stir in the chicken.
  4. Pour into the pie crust.
  5. Cover with second crust, flute edge, and add air vents.
  6. Bake at 425 for 35 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!

*Bonus recipe – Super Fluffy Guacamole! The trick here is getting a really ripe avocado. If you hold it and squeeze really gently, there should be a slightly spongy give, not squishy and not hard. If it’s hard, put it in a paper bag for a couple days. You just can’t work with an avocado that is hard.

Super Fluffy Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 1 large, VERY ripe avocado
  • ¼ cup of your favorite salsa
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • A squirt of lime juice
  • A pinch of salt.

Directions

  1. Clean the outside of the avocado by soaping your hands, then washing the avocado and rinsing.
  2. Dry and cut around in a circle to the pit.
  3. Twist apart.
  4. I use a good knife to thunk into the pit and twist. It should come out easily if ripe.
  5. Peel the outside dragon skin of the avocado away with fingers or knife.
  6. Cut any black bits off and discard then chunk up the greenish yellow avocado. (I used to just mash everything together but my husband prefers it fluffy so I use a small food processor.)
  7. Dump in the avocado, squirt on the lime juice, add the salsa, salt and garlic powder.
  8. Process until smooth and fluffy.
  9. Enjoy!

Sunday Recipe: Chocolate Truffle Brownies

brownie

These are not low fat and they are not low sugar. What they are is the best brownies I have ever made. They also allow for a host of substitutions based on what you have in the house because, to be honest, half the ingredients in my version already are substitutions.

Chocolate Truffle Brownies

Ingredients (all substitutions in directions below)

  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • ¾ cup of maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 9 tablespoons of your favorite cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons of light olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 2 tablespoons of tapioca flour
  • ¼ teaspoon of baking powder
  • ½ cup toasted chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven, or toaster oven, to 350 degrees. Grease or spray a pan about 8 by 8 inches, more or less. You aren’t going to hurt the brownies if you have one of those 8 by 6 toaster oven tins, or if you use the bigger 9 x 9 glass baking dish. It’s all good.

Start with 1 stick of butter, melted. (Or you can use a half cup of light flavor olive oil, or other oil, if you really feel the need to.) I melt the butter by cutting it into tablespoons and microwaving for 2 minutes on 50% power.

Whisk in ¾ cup of maple syrup until you have a nice uniform toffee color. (You can use a cup of sugar instead but it has been my experience that maple syrup has less of an immediate effect on blood sugar. Kids get less crazy.)

Beat in 2 large eggs. (I know there are egg substitutes out there like soaked chia seeds, use what you’ve got.)

If you didn’t use the maple syrup, add in 1 teaspoon of vanilla. (It really isn’t necessary if you use the maple syrup.)

Whisk in 9 tablespoons of your favorite cocoa powder and 3 tablespoons of light olive oil. (This takes the place of 3 ounces of unsweetened chocolate melted and stirred in. I always have cocoa powder and it tastes just as good.)

Now, you need a ½ cup flour total but it can be any flour you like. I have used wheat flour, rice flour, almond flour, coconut flour . . .  for this batch I used 3 tablespoons each almond and coconut flours plus 2 tablespoons of tapioca flour. It makes a rich and satisfying gluten free brownie.

Also, ¼ teaspoon of baking powder is nice, especially if you are using alternative flours, but not essential.

Blend the flour (and baking powder, if using) in with a spatula until just combined.

You don’t want to introduce too much air with the flours or the brownies will not be as dense and moist.

Optional: 1 teaspoon of instant coffee or espresso powder, added in with the liquids. I also like to add ¼ to ½ cup toasted chopped pecans.

Tip for toasting pecans: I like to do these in my toaster oven. Spread pecan halves right side up on a toaster oven tin and toast on light. Wait for them to cool before chopping.

Okay, pour your batter out into the tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. 20 minutes gets you something fudgier, but I like mine on the cakier side these days so I go for 25 minutes.

Enjoy!

(They won’t last long.)

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The Sunday Recipe: Garlic Carrots

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This is a recipe that I forget about from time to time but remembered recently because my local farm stand had lots of carrots and garlic. I’m not sure where I first got the idea, but it’s simple and delicious.

Garlic Carrots

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
  • 1 pound of carrots, cut into disks

Directions

  1. Heat the oil over medium heat for a minute or two.
  2. Add the garlic and saute for 1 to 3 minutes until it starts to sizzle.
  3. Add the carrots and stir to coat with the garlic oil.
  4. Cover but stir periodically.
  5. Turn the heat down to medium low after about five minutes.
  6. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until carrots are soft enough to eat.
  7. Enjoy!

The Sunday Recipe: Open-faced Tomato & Cheddar

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Open-faced Tomato and Cheddar

Hi Folks –

Right now we work with what we have but we also want some comfort foods, right? I recently went to the grocery store and they had a crazy amount of tomato 4 packs. It’s a little early in the season for tomatoes but if you cook them with sharp cheddar cheese, they still taste good.

I grew up with open-faced broiled tomato and cheddar cheese sandwiches. I refined the recipe to my tastes and started feeding them to my daughter when she was little. My husband professed to hate cooked tomatoes, unless they were cooked down into sauce, but watching our little bird open her mouth, begging for bite after bite, convinced him to give it a try. Now everyone in the house looks forward to them.

Note: a steak knife works well for this, serrated for cutting through the tomato skin without mushing it, and with a sharp point.

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Ingredients (per serving, or two slices)

  • 1 medium tomato (more or less, depending on what you like and how meaty the tomatoes are.)
  • 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (The sharper, the better.)
  • 2 slices of bread (I like 100% whole wheat, but use what you like.)

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Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray or grease a tin big enough to hold your slices of bread.
  3. Gently clean your tomato.
  4. Cut off both ends, going in at the stem to get rid of any hard, white pieces.
  5. Cut the tomato in half and use the tip of your knife to seed the tomato by cutting out the segment the seeds are attached to.
  6. Dice the tomato and put half on each slice of bread.
  7. Cut the cheese into 8 slices, placing four on each piece of bread and tomato.
  8. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until cheese starts to bubble a little and brown.
  9. Cool for 10 minutes and enjoy.

The Sunday Recipe: Curried Hard-boiled Eggs

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Curried Egg Salad or Deviled Eggs

Oh boy, if there is one thing I’ve gone back to again and again this year, it is using curry with hard-boiled eggs. Since it’s Easter, you may find you have some extra hard-boiled eggs sitting around. #Leftovers for the win!

For a quick treat, there is not much I like better than a quick curry egg salad scooped up with potato chips. In fact, as I was making the one in the picture, my daughter showed up and asked to taste it. I now have competition for the chips and curry.

If you didn’t hard boil a mess of eggs for Easter, I’ll tell you my favorite way to do that.

  1. Get a half dozen eggs out and let them warm up, 1 to 2 hours before cooking. This is a pain but the closer to room temp, the better. (I like to use the eggs my husband has just brought in from the hen house and cleaned with vinegar water.)
  2. Bring a pot ¾ full with water to a rolling boil and use a slotted spoon to gently lower about 6 eggs in.
  3. Wait for re-boil and reduce to simmer. Time them for 12 minutes.
  4. I drain off the water then fill the pot with tepid water, throw that off then move to cooler water, then cold.
  5. Allow to cool before refrigerating.
  6. I’ve read you can dunk them in an ice water bath. (I’ve never done it that way so I don’t know if they tend to break from doing it.)

Curried Egg Salad

  1. Peel one hard-boiled egg.
  2. Mash with 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise or salad dressing. (I use Hellman’s canola oil mayo.)
  3. Mix in ¼ teaspoon of curry powder.
  4. Eat as is or scoop up with potato chips.

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If you want to get fancy, you can make deviled eggs. For a quick half dozen deviled egg halves –

Curried Deviled Eggs

  1. Peel three hard-boiled eggs.
  2. Rinse and roll dry on a paper towel.
  3. Cut each egg in half and dump the egg yolks in a bowl.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise or salad dressing.
  5. Add ¼ teaspoon of curry powder. (I don’t even add salt, the mayo has it.)
  6. Mash those egg yolks up with a fork.
  7. Spoon them back into the egg whites using a spoon and table knife.
  8. Again, if you want to be fancy, dump them in a sandwich bag with the corner cut off and pipe them back into the egg white.

Enjoy your new favorite treat!

An Extra Recipe: Toasted Oat & Cranberry Scones

Toasted Oat & Cranberry Scones – smell AMAZING, taste even better! Recipe @ (creationsbykara.com/toasted-oatmea) Add 1/2 cup dried cranberries, soaked in 1/2 cup warmed OJ, then drain. Stir oats every 3 minutes when toasting. Do NOT over mix batter, just enough to bring it together. Enjoy!

Scones

The Sunday Recipe: Easter Hot Cross Buns

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Mom’s Easter Buns a.k.a. Hot Cross Buns

These are traditional in our family for Easter so I wanted to make sure we had some ready. I made two tins so we could have one now and freeze one for Easter. The mashed potatoes and potato water make them incredibly soft and delicious. I used half whole wheat flour because that is what we had on hand, without changing the recipe, and they were delicious. I imagine plain water and instant mashed potatoes could work too. I’ve also seen raisins instead of currants used.

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Measure into a mixing bowl:

  • 2/3 cup flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast (or 2 packets)
  • 1/3 cup dried currants

Stir thoroughly with a whisk.

Beat in:

  • ½ cup warm potato water
  • ½ cup scalded and cooled whole milk
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm mashed potatoes
  • 5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon butter
  • 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

*To scald milk, heat gently until a skin forms on top. In my microwave, that’s 50 seconds on high for ½ cup milk.

  • Beat in 3 eggs.
  • Add about 3 2/3 cups flour.
  • Mix and turn out onto a floured surface.
  • Knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Place in an oiled bowl and cover loosely.
  • Allow to rise in a draft free place for 1 ½ hours, until doubled.
  • Punch down.
  • Divide into 2 portions.
  • Shape each portion into 16 buns and place in two greased square tins.
  • Let rise until double, about 30 minutes.
  • Brush with an egg yolk glaze. (Blend 1 yolk with 2 tablespoons water.
  • Bake 25 minutes at 375 degrees.
  • Cool thoroughly.
  • If desired, cross or glaze the top with powdered sugar mixed with a little lemon juice.

 

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