Gluten-Free Pierogies

OK, so they’re not actually pierogies. They’re more like cheese dumplings, but they’re quite tasty! The recipe is a modification of one that my husband’s family gave me.

With an electric mixer, mix 2 cups of Arrowhead Mills organic gluten-free baking mix, 2 eggs, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/3 cup of whole milk.

Take the dough out of the mixer and knead it on a piece of waxed paper. Once it has reached the consistency of pizza dough–well, it’ll never quite get there, because it’s gluten-free, but aim for it–tear off small pieces, flatten them, fill them with Georgic cheese, and pinch them closed. Be sure to seal them completely. Boil three or four pierogies at a time in a large pot of boiling, heavily salted water, for 10 minutes. After boiling the pierogies, fry them in butter (I like Kerrygold salted butter … mmmmm). Keep them warm in the oven or serve them immediately, plain or topped with maple syrup or sour cream. Enjoy!

Faux Mexican Dinner

I say “faux,” because I have no Latin heritage; however, I do enjoy rice and beans with Mexican-style seasonings! This is a basic recipe; feel free to spice it up by adding your own cumin, coriander, etc.

You’ll have to plan ahead just a bit for this one, as it involves black beans, which must be soaked for at least eight hours. I soak mine overnight in the refrigerator.

Place one cup of dried black beans into a large ceramic or glass bowl, or a Dutch oven. (Since virtually all canned goods are contaminated with BPA, a known endocrine disruptor, I never use canned goods. Dried beans work just fine for me.)

Inspect the beans and remove any foreign materials (stems, shells, etc.). Add three cups of water to the bowl, cover it, and place it in the refrigerator for the beans to soak for at least eight hours. (As I mentioned, I allow the beans to soak overnight.)

When you are ready to start cooking, drain the water from the beans, and place them in a Dutch oven (if they’re not already in one). Add three cups of fresh water and simmer the beans over medium-low heat with the lid of the Dutch oven tilted. You’ll want to cook the beans for 90 minutes to two hours to ensure that they’re soft enough. Keep an eye on them so they don’t boil over, and add more water if most of the water boils away.

In the interim, place one cup of white rice in a pot with two cups of water and a generous helping of butter. Bring the water to a boil on the stovetop, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 50 minutes with the pot lid tilted. Again, keep an eye on the rice to ensure that it doesn’t boil over, and add more water if most of it boils away before 50 minutes are up.

When the beans have cooked for the desired amount of time, drain any remaining water, then add one jar of salsa and stir it into the beans with a wooden spoon while heating the mixture gently.

I like to combine the rice with the salsa-fied beans and serve them directly from the Dutch oven, but you may prefer a more artful presentation of beans on top of a bed of rice. Feel free to brown some ground beef and add that, too. Some people like fresh, chopped cilantro on top of the whole thing. (Some people even like cheese on top… Mmmm…) Enjoy!

Sauteed Mushrooms

Here’s a nice recipe for shiitake or portobello mushrooms. It’s fairly quick to prepare, and adds a bit of Asian flair to a simple chicken or fish entree.

Before you do anything with the mushrooms, place 1 cup of whole raw cashews in a Pyrex dish in the oven at 400 degrees, uncovered. Make sure that the cashews are in a single layer in the dish.

Wash and dry 2 packages of mushrooms, taking particular care to get the mushrooms very dry with a paper towel. Cut the caps into chunks (three or four chunks per mushroom), and discard the stems. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over very low heat; then add the mushrooms. Make sure there is enough butter in the skillet so that the mushrooms are not touching bare metal. It’s OK to add more butter, but be sure not to add too much, because you don’t want the mushrooms to get greasy. When the butter starts to sizzle, add a splash of tamari. Saute the mushrooms for another minute; then scoop them out of the skillet with a slotted spoon and place them in a serving dish. Using a potholder 🙂 take the cashews out of the oven and add them to the mushrooms in the serving dish. Enjoy!

What to Cook When You Can’t Leave the House and All the Meat Is Gone

Ah, yes: the joys of parenting. This week, my daughter and I had a nasty upper respiratory virus. Neither of us wanted to do much except watch movies, play board games, and color. Further complicating the situation was an unfortunate stock-out at our farmers’ market delivery service, which meant that we ran out of meat on Wednesday and had only six eggs left after lunch today.

What to do for dinner tonight? I made like a fifties housewife and casseroled it:

Set 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese out to soften.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Steam fresh broccoli florets by placing in rice cooker’s steamer basket, which is resting on top of a pot with one inch of water in it; boil the water until the florets turn bright green. Place the steamed florets in a Pyrex dish; cover it to keep them warm.

Make pasta. I like Mrs. Leeper’s organic corn spaghetti; I made half of the package.

Drain the pasta; then stir in both packages of cream cheese over low heat. Add 1/2 bottle of honey mustard. Stir until thoroughly mixed, then add steamed broccoli. Stir the whole thing together, transfer it from the pot to the Pyrex dish, and bake it (uncovered) for 15 to 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Delightful Chocolate Icing

I mentioned earlier that I made a variation (using Living Intentions Original Sprouted Super Flour instead of wheat flour and grapefruit marmalade instead of strawberry puree) of Martha Stewart’s Sprinkles cupcakes for my mom’s birthday.

You might be curious to know what I used to ice the cupcakes. I didn’t make a fruit-flavored icing, in part because I thought these cupcakes demanded something a bit richer. The icing I made is simple, in the sense that it only has three ingredients, but a little bit tricky, because it involves frequent taste-testing to ensure that it has just the right level of chocolate flavor and sweetness.

Here it is: Soften 2 bars of cream cheese and whip them in a mixer while gradually adding cacao powder. Use a spoon to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl and to scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure complete mixing of the cream cheese and the cacao powder. When the mixture is the same color as a milk chocolate bar (or when it tastes chocolatey enough for your liking), stop adding cacao. Now it’s time to sweeten the icing. While the mixer is still going, fluffing up that icing nicely, gradually add agave nectar until the icing is sweet enough for you. I don’t like my chocolate incredibly sweet, particularly when it’s going on top of a cupcake that’s already sweetened, but everybody’s taste is different, so just add the agave nectar slowly and keep tasting it. This may be the best-tasting chocolate icing you’ll ever eat. I dare you not to lick the bowl after you’ve iced your cupcakes.

My New Oven Is Here!!

Oh, yes, it is. I couldn’t be happier with the job the delivery guys did. They were polite, quick, and left my kitchen looking as clean as it was before they arrived–which was right on schedule, by the way, about an hour into the delivery window.

So how did I celebrate? I made Rob’s famous coleslaw using the stovetop while baking ham steaks in the oven (90 minutes, uncovered, at 350 degrees; flip the steaks after 45 minutes). Amazing. Delightful. No more fried sausages–until I feel like frying them, that is 😉

Broken Ovens and Omelettes

We’re on Day Two of the dead oven, and lunch was fried breakfast sausages with leftover mashed potatoes. (The last of the mashed potatoes might be reheated in the toaster oven in a tiny Pyrex dish tomorrow. Mmmm!)

Dinner tonight was omelettes and carrots. A nice way to prepare carrots is to simmer them slowly with butter. I used salted butter, so I didn’t use honey, as I sometimes do. I peeled and sliced a pound of carrots, put them into a pot with 6 tablespoons of salted butter, and poured enough water into the pot to rise about 1/2 inch above the tops of the carrots. Then I covered the pot with a tilted lid, put the heat on medium, and simmered the carrots for about 45 minutes, by which point the water had almost completely evaporated / soaked into the carrots.

I made the omelettes in my wonderful De Buyer cast-iron crepe pan. First, I melted a couple of tablespoons of salted butter in the pan. Then I lightly beat two eggs and some tiny slices of leftover fried ham and fried pork sausage in a bowl. Then I let the omelette pan do its magic: cook the omelette over very low heat until the top is nearly dry, then fold the omelette in half with a wooden spoon and let it cook another 45 seconds. Fantastic!