Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Non-cooking activites

It's Spring and there are things to plant so we'll be busy doing non-cooking activities, but I'll be back well, be happy, and go do something fun.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Jalapeño bacon cheese ball

Need a quick cheese ball to take to a BBQ? Here it is.

What you need and what to do:

8 oz softened cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or Mexican cheese blend
6 pieces of sliced cooked and crumbled bacon
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely diced
2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbls chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp lime juice
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp ground cumin

Reserve 1/2 jalapeños and bacon to cover your cheese ball. Take remaining ingredients, mix well, form into ball, cover with jalapeños and bacon and refrigerate at least one hour before serving. Serve with pita chips or crackers.

Leftovers? Mix it together well incorporating the outer sprinkles and spread on a cooked burger, wow.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Vegan coconut cheesecake with ginger crust

Oh dear, this is so good.

What you need and what to do:

Cookie Crust:
15oz Mi-Del gingersnaps (the regular ones are vegan the gluten-free ones are not) or other vegan ginger snap cookie
6 Tbls melted coconut oil
Put cookies into food processor and grind til fine crumbs and while it is running add your coconut oil until combined. Press firmly and evenly into a 9" spring form pan lightly greased, place in frig while you make the innards.

Kefir Cheesecake Filling:
1 6oz plain or vanilla coconut yogurt (I used plain)
2 cups plain coconut kefir
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 Tbls Agar Agar powder
1/2 organic granulated sugar
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1 Tbls vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut yogurt, coconut kefir, and coconut milk.
Separately, mix together the agar, sugar, and arrowroot in a small dish, being careful to evenly distribute all of the dry ingredients. This will help to prevent lumps from forming.
Slowly sprinkle this dry mixture into the saucepan while vigorously whisking, until you’re certain that it’s all been incorporated, and there are no clumps lurking on the bottom of the pan.
Turn on the stove to medium heat, and whisk occasionally (but don’t walk away!) as it comes up to temperature, until bubbles break on the surface and it feels significantly thickened, this will take a little while, 15 minutes or so.
Turn off the heat, whisk in the vanilla, and retrieve your chilled crust.
Pour the cooked filling into your springform pan, and tap it a few times on the counter to release any air bubbles and to even out the top.
Let cool COMPLETELY at room temperature before moving the cheesecake into your fridge to chill; Hastening this process will weaken the gel, and lead to syneresis.

Chill for at least 3 hours before serving. Adapted from

Note: I will try a flavor next time, maybe lemon and sprinkle with fresh blueberries.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Chicken fiesta chowder

We have been moving and arranging stuff and yesterday it was hot and windy and we were hot and tired, so I made chowder. It was good and hit the spot for some reason, maybe it's the comfort of soup.

What you need and what to do:

2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
10 oz bag frozen corn kernels
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% milk
2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
3/4 cup shredded white aged cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, red pepper and garlic and cook until the vegetables are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the green chiles and cook for 1 minute.
Pour in the chicken broth, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the corn and simmer for 3 minutes.
Place the flour in a medium bowl and slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth.
Slowly whisk the milk mixture into the soup, along with the salt and pepper. Cook, whisking frequently, until the soup is thickened, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the chicken, cheese and cayenne pepper. Stir until the cheese is melted.
Adapted from

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sweet static discharge

I was skeptical...I admit it, but when one of our customers (thanks Jan) suggested using foil balls for static cling in the dryer, I thought cheap, I tried it! Wow, I was amazed. I washed the sheets and a polar fleece blanket that typically holds a lot of static out of the dryer. No static! Word has it they're good for about a year (we'll see on that one), but the best part? Environmentally friendly, and completely recyclable. PERFECT!

What you need and what to do:
Take a couple of feet of foil for each ball (I have two going in my dryer) and wad them up like in the picture at the left. They will quickly end up looking like the ball on the right. Done. Oh, put them in the dryer. 

Here's the science:
The heat, moving air and lack of moisture in a clothes dryer can fill clothes with static electricity, priming them to cling to your body awkwardly the next time you wear them. Adding dryer sheets can reduce static cling, but you can save the money you would spend on them by using tinfoil instead. The foil discharges the building electricity every time it touches the metal surfaces of the dryer. This cheat can also reduce your need for fabric softener, which can contain environmentally unfriendly fragrances and dyes. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Zucchini cakes

I haven't been blogging much; we have so many Spring projects going on, that I am not cooking many new things. We were lucky to get some fresh, organic whole chickens in at the store so last night I roasted one (delish), added non GMO corn on the cob and these zucchini cakes. What a great Sunday dinner for a couple of tired souls.

What you need and what to do:

2 medium zucchini, grated (let sit in a colander about 10 minutes sprinkled lightly with salt and patted dry)

In a bowl, add the following, then add the zucchini:
2 large beaten eggs
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion

Heat your skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Spoon on the mixture and press into little pancakes, cook a couple of minutes til brown, flip and cook the other side, serve hot. This makes about 8-10 cakes. Adapted from Damn Delicious

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The dirty dozen and the clean fifteen

Over the years I have become more of a fanatic about what fruits and veggies I will eat, frankly I try not to cheat at all on organic produce, it's all I want to eat. Of course not everyone wants to do that, and we understand so here's a list to follow from

This information was gleaned originally from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies that protect global and individual health. Specifically, I help EWG spread the word about one of its most valuable pieces of research - a Shoppers' Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The 2014 version is based on the results of pesticide tests performed on produce and collected by federal agencies from the past nine years.

Nearly all of the data used took into account how people typically wash and prepare produce - for example, apples were washed and bananas peeled before testing. The following "Dirty Dozen Plus" had the highest pesticide load, making them the most important to buy organic versions - or to grow them organically yourself:

Sweet bell peppers
Nectarines (imported)
Cherry tomatoes
Snap peas (imported)

Plus these which may contain organophosphate insecticides, which EWG characterizes as "highly toxic" and of special concern:
Hot peppers
Blueberries (domestic)

Why should you care about pesticides? The EWG points out that there is a growing consensus in the scientific community that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can have adverse effects on health, especially during vulnerable periods such as fetal development and childhood. 

Also keep in mind that maintaining your family's health is not the only reason to choose organic food. Pesticide and herbicide use contaminates groundwater, ruins soil structures and promotes erosion, and may be a contributor to "colony collapse disorder," the sudden and mysterious die-off of pollinating honeybees that threatens the American food supply. Buying or growing organic food is good for the health of the planet.

Nearly all of the data used took into account how people typically wash and prepare produce - for example, apples were washed and bananas peeled before testing. Of the fruit and vegetable categories tested, the following "Clean 15" foods had the lowest pesticide load, and consequently are the safest conventionally grown crops to consume from the standpoint of pesticide contamination:

Sweet corn
Sweet peas (frozen)
Cantaloupe (domestic)
Sweet potatoes