Archive for the 'Baking and Cooking' Category

Watermelon Radish

watermelon radishes

I was searching all over for the White Balsamic Vinegar that I like – Bellino Italian White Vinegar. I went to Shop Rite, Whole Foods, Wegman’s, Stop & Shop, Trader Joe’s, and even, as a long shot, Walmart. I was prepared to find it online when Shop Rite returned it to the shelves. Yay!!! As is my wont, I did check out the fresh produce in many of those stores – you never know what will look appealing and special. I was in Whole Foods when I saw “Watermelon Radishes“. I LOVE radishes and snack on them all the time. I’ve found the large organic ones are almost sweet as well as tart and crunchy. I’d never heard of a watermelon radish. I did what you would do – pulled out my phone and did a search. 🙂 I bought 4 of them. They are indeed an absolutely gorgeous color inside. The ones I had were a bit firmer and perhaps less flavorful than some of the regular red-and-white radishes, but they were still very tasty. I munched on one as a snack, and tossed the others into a green (and now pink) salad. For your viewing pleasure, and as a suggestion for enjoyment if you encounter them in your store, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Watermelon Radishes!

Yet Another Summer Salad

garlic and zest cracked wheat salad

Mediterranean Cracked Wheat Salad from http://www.garlicandzest.com

The weather is definitely cooling. It’s still summer, but we hear and sense Fall approaching. I know this because my husband and I are both back in the kitchen cooking. 🙂 He wokked two meals last week and I made another summer salad. Once the humidity dropped last week I felt energized sufficiently to tackle a new recipe. I decided to make the Mediterranean Cracked Wheat Salad. I’ve made tabouli before, usually from a box mix. I’ve also bought it pre-made from the store. I’ve never done anything fancy with it. As I mentioned in my Wheatberry Salad post, I have always shied away from “things” in my food. I also mentioned that I seem to be overcoming that attitude, thank goodness!

This cracked wheat salad is the last of the recipes I saved at the start of the summer, when I was searching for tasty, healthy food that wouldn’t require heating up the kitchen. This recipe called for boiling some water, but that was it for ‘cooking’. The rest was chopping and combining. I wasn’t able to pull anything from my garden for this salad. I’d already snacked on all of the grape tomatoes and I discovered that caterpillars were embedded in my parsley. Given all my support for butterflies, I abandoned my parsley to the caterpillars and used dried parsley. (If I identified the caterpillar correctly, it will be a black swallowtail, which makes sense.)

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Black Swallowtail caterpillars are welcome to my parsley


I had to substitute on the peppers as well, since I did not find pepperoncini peppers at the farmers’ market. I used jalapeno peppers. I’d like to try again with the pepperoncinis because jalapeno is still a bit hot for my taste. My husband, however, loved it. My other change was to ditch the olives. I don’t like olives. I knew I’d just pick them out of the salad, I wouldn’t eat them, and if I didn’t tell my husband that they were missing he’d never know. 🙂 No olives. I loved the taste and look of the julienned radishes. That’s something that would have never occurred to me. See – learning new things. I followed the instructions to only pour some of the dressing on the wheat/vegetable mixture. When I decided it need more dressing, rather than pouring or spooning it on, I used a fork. That way I was getting mostly the ingredients in the dressing and not much of the oil and lemon juice. That kept the mixture from becoming soggy yet it all got some of the dressing. Next time I will probably reduce the olive oil and juice.

This passed our taste test! We are both enjoying it, it’s going fast. It was easy to make, very clear directions which anticipated things such as liquid remaining after the wheat had been absorbing the directed amount. Definitely another keeper for the kitchen files!

Thanks again to Lisa at Garlic & Zest for sharing the recipe!

Wheatberry Salad

Several weeks ago when it was too hot to cook and I was looking for cool salads, I saw a recipe for Wheat Berry Salad. Whole wheat, cracked wheat, bulgur wheat, tabouli, couscous – they are so similiar and it’s hard for me to figure out if they are the same thing or different. Wheat berries, on the other hand, triggered a pleasant memory. Many, many years ago our friend invited us to dinner in her sukkah. She’s an excellent cook. Her background is Iranian, and she often serves food that I would normally not eat if I were not a guest. *grin* My mother brought me up to be a well-behaved polite guest – you eat what you are served. 🙂 Our friend served a wheat berry salad. The reward for being a polite guest is that sometimes you learn to like something new, that you never thought you’d like. So when the wheat berry recipe popped up in my search, I decided to save it and try it.
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Following this recipe meant first I had to find wheat berries. After trying several local stores I ordered them (and some cracked wheat) online. (The cracked wheat is my next new venture – stay tuned.) The recipe also calls for things that in my past I would have told you I don’t eat, and would have been cause for tossing the recipe. That would include nuts and dried fruit. I don’t like “things” in my food. *grin* Or so I thought. Anyway, I made the linked recipe just as it stands. It is DELICIOUS. I love the texture and the flavors. I think it will work well in fall, too, because of its harvest colors. My husband and I both made large inroads into the bowl of wheat berry salad. Definitely a recipe to keep and repeat!

Thanks to:
Wheat Berry Salad, Recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger, Posted on the Food Network website

What to Eat When It’s Just Too Hot

coleslawAt last, summer is here. In NJ that means the 3 Hs – Hazy, Hot, Humid. Hot is fine with me. Hazy is tolerable although not preferred. Humid is only good when the temperature is below 85. Above that – we all melt. I guess I am truly aging. There was a time when the humidity didn’t really bother me all that much. Now even I, child of the hot sunshine, find that hot & humid is uncomfortable.

I was working from home last week for several reasons. I had a lot of meetings and if I work from home, I don’t need to use a headset – I can use the laptop speakers instead. chickpea saladAfter a few hours, any headset is annoying. The company office is air-conditioned of course. And while many are perfectly comfortable with that, I am always freezing if the sun is not beating on the windows there. It was not – it was rainy and hazy on the non-rain days. There were some other good reasons to work from home as well, but those 2 top the list.

Working from home means that I can get up and walk about between calls. I can do chores during my usual commute time, and during lunch. I was possessed by the salad genie and for 2 days I created summer salads. Three of them could be made without any heat, and for the 2 that needed some cooking, I turned on the fans and dealt with it. 🙂 When I rested on the 3rd day I had a fresh green tossed salad, lentil salad, chickpea salad, coleslaw, and a pesto pasta with broccoli.

It’s always fun to watch the food creations come into being, but it was even better because I could walk out to the front garden and clip whatever herbs and lettuce I needed. pesto pasta salad My brother-in-law gave me the simplest most tasty recipe for coleslaw: shredded lettuce & carrots, mayonnaise, white balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, and basil. I like my coleslaw dry, not wet. I find that 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise mixed with the vinegar is enough sauce for me. I walked out to the garden and clipped 3 types of basil to add to the mix, instead of using dried basil. It was delicious. I know it was because my husband devoured nearly all of it within 2 days. 🙂 (He doesn’t seem to care for the lentils. That’s fine – I LOVE the lentils.)

I used the basil, dill, lettuce, lemon balm, and parsley fresh from the garden as well. Fresh herbs definitely make the flavors pop. Lentil saladWe have a farmers’ market every week in town, so we went up to the market and got fresh onions, fresh garlic, cucumbers, tomatoes, bread and pickles. I had a chance to use the salad bowls I’d made many, many years ago when I was still “doing pottery”. They seemed the perfect touch. Dinner was a delicious stuffed bread with fresh veggies and salads. A perfect summer meal when it’s just too humidly hot.

Tuna Stir Fry

tuna stir fry- shallots, bok choy, mushroomsWe used to eat a lot of fish. I’m not sure what changed, but that has not been the case lately. If we’re eating meat, it tends to be chicken, although we’ve had a lot of beef since Thanksgiving. Perhaps it was the winter weather, or maybe because the grocery store is on the wrong side of the road for me on my way home (and I don’t like that fish market very much), or because my husband no longer stops for fish on HIS way home – I don’t know. But I realized that I missed it and I did NOT want to be eating so much beef.

tuna stir-fry- add the thai peanut sauceWhen I did the grocery shopping this weekend I picked up some scrod and some tuna. My husband used to bring home sashimi-quality tuna from the fish market he passed on his way home. He would season it with a bit of oil, lemon and salt & pepper, and then sear it quickly. Fantastic. I knew the tuna I got at the grocery store was not that quality, so I spent a little time thinking on what to do with it.

tuna stir fry- add the zuchcinni noodlesThe scrod was an easy decision. My husband baked it with lemon juice and a little salt, and we had fish sandwiches made with the fresh bread I’d bought. I haven’t been baking much bread lately. I’ll need to get a few loaves in before it’s Passover and we’re eating matzah. Matzah is fine, but it is NOT bread. 🙂

I thought that I would take the tuna steak and slice it the way restaurants serve tuna – in strips, as opposed to one whole unit. My husband is not as enamored of raw tuna as I am, so I knew I had to cook it. I’m trying to get us back to a diet with a lot of vegetables – have to get ready for spring and all of those outfits that do NOT hide winter accumulation.tuna stir fry - add the tuna I also know that I have a tendency to throw LOTS of ingredients into the wok, so I wanted to rein in that temptation as well.

I decided on a Thai peanut sauce (a bottle I picked up at the Asian market). I knew that the sauce was fairly light and not over-powering. The ingredients for the stir fry would be bok choy, shallots, mushrooms and the tuna. I think the shallots have a lighter flavor than onions. We’d serve it with zucchini noodles (I cheated on that too and bought it fresh at the store). The beauty of cooking the tuna, and the limited number of ingredients, was the speed with which it cooked. I’d been doing chores and errands all day, and didn’t really feel like spending a lot of time cooking.

I thought it came out very well. It had a decent balance of color, no one flavor was overwhelming, and it was healthy. Zucchini noodles and riced cauliflower are great assistance in trying to be healthier in my food choices but still have something that feels like carbs!
tuna stir fry- ready to eat

Latticed Apple Pie

needs a topOr, Using up leftover pie crust and aging apples

Or, another way to put-off doing the taxes

It’s a gray rainy morning, we had to do that inane “spring forward” with the clocks last night so it’s already later than I feel, and my agenda for today includes preparing the tax information for the accountant and filing the remainder of the 2018 paperwork. What an awful start to a morning, right????

apple pie ready for the ovenI made a quiche last weekend and my crust recipe makes 2 crusts. Quiche only needs one crust so all week I’ve been imaging ways to use up the remaining crust. Most of the ideas revolved around a veggie & egg pie but I never got around to doing that. In the meantime I had 4 aging apples that soon would be fit for nothing but the deer or compost. And I really don’t want to deal with my paperwork. What’s a poor girl to do? Make a pie!!!

baked apple pieI still had cranberries and sugar-free orange marmalade, both of which needed to be used or tossed soon. I pureed those with a tiny bit of Splenda brown sugar to help the mixture gel instead of run. I sliced up my apples, removing all the really aged areas. I layered the apples with the puree and sprinkled cinnamon and nutmeg on each layer. I didn’t have enough crust to make a top and bottom crust so I thought I’d lattice the top with however much crust remained after filling the pie plate. I probably could have squeeeeeeeezed out 2 crusts, but I didn’t realize that until I was playing with the lattice. And yes, this is probably the worst lattice you will ever see on a pie. 🙂 I figured once it was baked and we were enjoying the pie, we wouldn’t mind the appearance.

It smelled heavenly while it baked, and it looks darn good to me now that it’s out of the oven. It tastes yummy, too. 🙂

yummy good apple pie

It’s Still Winter

Which means it’s WAY too cold for me. Waking up to 17 F degrees makes working from home much more appealing than going out in the cold to go to the office. I miss them, but not as much as I love being warm and controlling the thermostat. It looks as if my crazy-busy work schedule has eased up now. We got the product out the door, working, and no major updates or changes have been requested. YAY TEAM!!!! Between the cold and the work I haven’t really had much to say. 🙂 I know, hard to believe, right? *grin*

quicheIt snowed Friday evening into Saturday. The good news is our next-door-14-year-old got up and began clearing all the walks (4 houses in a row). The other good news was that my husband said he’d do the vacuuming for me. Oh yes!!! I decided that if he was going to be helpful that I would do something nice for him as well. So I made a cheese quiche. I used 3 cheeses: mostly swiss and provolone but I tossed in a little colby jack for some more color. I thought it looked beautiful and it tasted totally yummy. The pie crust was wonderfully flaky.

I had a very odd experience baking crusts for the New Year’s Day brunch. I NEVER have problems with crust, and for that party 2 of the crusts were in complete crumbles. I ended up using much more water than I like, and for the big quiche basically glued the pieces of crust together in the pan. It wasn’t the flour, because one of them used gluten free flour and one was my basic all purpose flour. Someone suggested that it was the butter, but I used the same butter I always do. Perhaps they changed the recipe. For this winter quiche I used my go-to recipe from The Settlement Cookbook (page 323 – my book opens right to it). driveway path thru snow I did play with the recipe a bit so I can’t verify if the butter was the culprit or not. I substituted coconut oil for the 1/4 cup of butter. I like the flavor the coconut oil adds and thought it would go well with the cheese and eggs.

I saw my young neighbor struggling to get my snow blower started in order to tackle the driveway. He wasn’t making progress and my husband was not home at that point. I said to not worry about clearing the whole driveway – just make 2 paths for the tires so that I could get the car out that evening without having to drive through the slush. He seemed quite relieved at that approach and set to work. I had to laugh, however, when I went out to see what he had done. *grin* Once he’d made me 2 beautiful tire paths, he’d done more than half the work – he should have just done it all. It was sunny, it was well above freezing, so I finished the job while the quiche baked.

I’m ready for spring and digging in the dirt.


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