Monday, April 14, 2014

Food, good, bad, scary and otherwise. Today, just recipes.

Some fun stuff to start eating healthy this week.  And all in larger text size to please some friends that can't see as well as I, the old guy with cataracts.
Meatless Meatballs
In your food processor, chop up about 6 oz. pecans, or enough to make about a cup that is rather finely chopped.  In a bowl mix with 1 cup finely chopped Ritz crackers.  Or, alternatively use a cup of good whole wheat bread crumbs that you toasted until dark brown.  Then mix in two cups grated Mozzarella Cheese.  Stir in 1 teaspoon oregano,  1 teaspoon basil, ½ teaspoon sage and ½ teaspoon thyme.  Crush in a mortar, 1 teaspoon fennel seed and about 1 teaspoon black pepper.  In a separate bowl beat two eggs together and mix it all together and form small balls with the mixture.  Bake on a tray in the oven at high, 400 degrees for about 15 to 18 minutes.  Take the balls out and allow to cool slightly. 
WOW  20 minute Marinara
Take 6 cloves garlic and slice them thinly.  Finely dice a small onion and place both in a large sauce pan with a tablespoon of olive oil.  Heat slowly over medium low heat and cook the garlic until just beginning to brown, about 8 or 9 minutes.  Add a quarter cup of Italian Spice Mix, recipe below, and allow spices to cook a minute to release oils and become fragrant.  Pour a cup of good red wine on the mix and bring to a boil and reduce by half.  Add a 26 oz can petite diced tomatoes and a 26 oz can crushed tomatoes.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer and cook for about 4 or 5 minutes to marry the flavors.  Add some meatballs or meatless meatballs and heat through.  Serve over pasta. 
Italian seasoning - in a glass jar mix together 1 oz basil, 1 oz oregano, 1 oz parsley, 1/2 oz crushed red pepper, 1/2 oz lemon pepper, 1/2 oz fennel seeds(crushed), 1 tblspn savory, 1 tblspn marjoram, 1 tblspn sage, 1 tblspn thyme, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp crushed rosemary, 1/2 tsp onion powder.  Close tightly and store in freezer.  Way better than any mixes from the store, and great to use as a base for italian dressing, just mix with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  If you want, (and I always do, grind it fine in a clean coffee grinder)  Mix with tomato sauce for a pizza topping, with canned diced tomatoes for a spaghetti sauce, add some to some olive oil and allow to sit for an hour and use as a bread dipping oil.

Savory Cheesecakes
Savory Cheesecakes are succulent bits of heaven, creamy, rich yet low cal and herby with the bounty of summer.  Try these and concoct your own innovations.
Take two cups low fat Ricotta cheese and put into food processor.  Whiz briefly to break it up.  Add two eggs and a ½ cup sour cream.  Season generously with fresh ground pepper and a ½ teaspoon sea salt.  Add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, a few sprigs of thyme, 1 teaspoon rosemary, and 1 teaspoon fresh oregano.  Whiz it all together and then pour into ramekins. Cover each with foil and place on trivet in pressure cooker.  Add a cup of water and bring to a boil.  Place pressure lid on and bring to pressure.  Reduce heat to low and cook at pressure for 12 minutes for small ½ cup ramekins.  Increase time for larger ones.  Remove from heat and cool edge of cooker under running water.  Remove and allow to cool.  Serve with a great salad for a quick and cool summer lunch.  Try adding different combinations of herbs and other ingredients.  Dill and smoked salmon.  Chopped and seeded fire roasted jalapenos with cumin and fresh oregano.  Basil and tomato concasse with Parmesan. Use your imagination, this is just the basics.

Fab salads 
Who says salad is lettuce and a few other garden veggies?  Boring, and you are served the same stuff everywhere.  Break out of the mold and make something unique and TASTY!
Get a firm blemish free Jicama and cut it in half longitudinally.  Lay on the cut side and with sharp knife cut off the skin.  Slice into thick slices, stack them up and then cut into sticks.  Peel and cut into thick sticks a nice Rutabaga.  Cut in half some yellow and red grape tomatoes.  Add some slivered almonds and dress the salad with a mix of good olive oil, a bit of mustard, balsamic, fresh lime juice and some good Italian seasoning.  Some hot sauce is also good.  Top it all off with chopped cilantro. 
Cook some Canollini beans in your pressure cooker, use 1 teaspoon chopped crystallized ginger per cup of beans.  Pressure them for 15 minutes and allow to cool and release pressure naturally.  Take 4 strips of bacon and cook in a large skillet until crisp.  Remove from pan and chop.  Remove all but about 2 teaspoons of the bacon fat.  Cook a half of a red onion that you sliced in half and then into ¼ inch strips until translucent.  Add about 10 cloves garlic sliced thin.  Cook an additional two minutes.  Add 3 tablespoons good balsamic and then throw in the stalks from 8 big Swiss chard leaves and cook for another 2 minutes.  Chop the leaves coarsely and throw in the pan, and cover.  Remove from heat and let sit for 8 minutes.  Remove lid and toss with 2 cups of the cooked Canollini beans and the chopped bacon.  Serve warm
Carefully cut the core out of a head of cauliflower.  Steam it right side up for about 4 to 5 minutes.  Cut the florets off and then cut each floret in half.  In large skillet, cook on low heat ¼ cup olive oil and six cloves of garlic sliced thin.  Cook until the garlic is light brown.  Remove from the oil and set aside.  Place the florets in the oil cut side down. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until well browned, about 7 or 8 minutes.  Toss with 2 cups cooked Canollini beans, the juice of a lemon, some fresh basil or other herb and the garlic.   
Healthy Version of Arroz con Pollo
This classic dish is enhanced with the addition of black beans to make it more Cuban than Spanish.  Or, leave them out.  Either way making it all in the pressure cooker makes for a time saving nutritious dish.  To add black beans to the dish start with one pound of black beans, sort them and rinse them well.  Soak overnight to help break down the lectins.  Rinse again then add them to a pressure cooker and then add 8 cups water and 2 teaspoons crystallized ginger that you cut into small pieces.  (Ginger virtually removes the gassiness of all beans when they are cooked with it)  Bring to a boil and cover with the lid and when at 15 pounds pressure, reduce heat and cook 45 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  When cool, remove lid and take out 1 and ½ cups of the cooked beans.  Save the rest for other uses like refried beans, salads, pasta dishes etc.
Take 8 chicken thighs and wash and pat them dry.  Season well with a mixture of paprika, cumin, ground oregano, and chili powder.  Coat the chicken with the spices and then pour 4 tablespoons of good red wine vinegar (or balsamic) over the chicken, coat well and place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. 
Cut up a large bell pepper, a big onion, dice 3 big carrots into 3/8 inch dice.  In large pressure cooker heat 3 tablespoons olive oil.  Cook the chicken thighs in the oil and brown well on each side.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  If there is a lot of chicken fat in the pan, spoon out all but about 4 tablespoons.  Add and saute the vegetables over medium high heat about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add 2 cups organic long grain brown rice.  Saute and coat the grains with the oil.  Add 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 tablespoon oregano, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 2 teaspoons paprika and then add 4 cups water, or better, chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and add the pressure lid to pan.  Bring to pressure, reduce heat and cook 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow cool water to run over edges of pan to reduce pressure.  When released, remove lid.  Add the reserved black beans, about 8 ounces frozen peas, and the chicken pieces.  Replace the pressure lid, bring back to pressure and cook for another 8 minutes.  Remove from heat, allow pressure to reduce by itself.  Remove lid and stir in a cup of pimento stuffed olives and garnish with a ¼ cup chopped parsley.   

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