Spinach and Pomegranate Salad

image
What to take for lunch? Since most of us here don’t get to go home and have a home cooked meal, and PB&J really isn’t a healthy option (I can hear you all scream right now), take out and fast food… well I don’t think I need to go into detail on that (no, salad from McDonald’s isn’t health food either). I got the idea to add pomegranate seed to a spinach salad from a local Mediterranean deli. But at a whopping $4 for a small container, what’s a girl on a tight budget supposed to do? You got it, try to make a similar concotion myself! And let me tell you, the flavor combination it amazing, it’s definitely a winner!

image
So here is a fun and yummy winter lunch box salad that would be a great side for the chicken with pepper and mushrooms, or add some fromage blanc¬†to make it a light lunch, like I did the other day. No good picture exists to proof that, was too good, didn’t stick around long enough ūüôā And, please, don’t use just any dressing, make your own it will be infinitely better, I will of course give you one that will fit this salad perfectly!

image
Spinach  and Pomegranate Salad with Pine Nuts

Serves 4

* to get the seeds out of a pomegranate, cut in half and gently pry the seeds out of the white flesh/lining using your fingertips. I usually do this over the sink in a colander. Careful with the splatters if you pop a seed, it’s highly staining. Totally worth the effort.

image

Copyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Lemon Olive Oil Dressing

Lemon Olive Oil Dressing

  • juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch white pepper (in a pinch you could use black pepper)
  • 1 tsp parsley, dry
  • 1 tsp thyme, dry
  • 1 tbsp finely minced shallots
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (about 1 1/2 to 2 time lemon juice amount)

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a lidded container and shake well then pour over your salad.

imageGreat on Spinach Salad or try over roasted Brussels sprouts!

Copyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Corn Free Baking Powder

 

If you are allergic or sensitive to corn, it can be quite a hassle eliminating all products containing corn or corn derivatives. It juts so seem since it is a heavily subsidized crop, it’s in everything or made into something that is in everything. Baby Carrots for example, are processed using citric acid, in this country made mostly from corn (ever notice how they are softer than regular carrots? Ever wonder why?) Somehow, besides adding substances that corn sensitive people react to, it seem to alter the GI (Glycemic Index, how fast carbohydrates in a particular food elevate your blood sugar), my guess is by breaking down some of the plant tissue by ‘cooking’ it with citric acid. I have heard from several diabetics that their blood sugar goes through the roof after snacking on baby carrots, but regular carrots are fine. Stay away from them.

But I’m going off on a tangent here. When I first started paying attention to the ‘corn in everything’ issue (my boss at work with is allergic to corn) I realized that baking powder is made with cornstarch, who would have thought?

So after some research, I have found this recipe that you can make yourself if you can’t find a corn free baking powder recipe (there are a couple out there I hear, but pretty hard to find)

Here’s what you need:

  • Baking Soda
  • Cream of Tartar
  • Rice, Tapioca or Potato starch (depending on quantity you’re planning on making)

From my research, I found many similar recipes and have compiled the info here for y’all. Basically you need an alkaline ingredient and an acid salt, and an inert ingredient to keep the two from reacting until you want them too.

More technical stuff, if you care, if not skip to the recipe, I won’t be offended ūüėČ

Cream of tartar is the common name for potassium hydrogen tartrate. Grapes are the only significant natural source of tartaric acid, and cream of tartar is obtained from sediment produced in the process of making wine. Cream of tartar is obtained when tartaric acid is half neutralized with potassium hydroxide, transforming it into a salt. Sodium bicarbonate reacts with the potassium hydrogen tartrate,  causing the release of carbon dioxide (the bubbles that make the cake rise)

I even found the chemical reaction, but let’s skip that and get on with the program.

And as per my research, if you don’t add the inert starch, it will become rock solid (haven’t tried that, if you do let me know if it really does, I am infinitely curious)

For just a small quantity:

If your recipe calls for:

  • 1 tsp baking powder: ¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬† ¬†use 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder: ¬†use 3/8 tsp baking soda, 3/4 tsp cream of tartar

Or to keep on hand:

  • 1/4 cup cram of tartar
  • 2 tbsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp potato, rice or tapioca starch

Store just like you would for store bought baking powder.

Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Chicken Liver Paté

image

I find it interesting how so many foods that back in the day were most likely eaten because people would not waste any part of an animal, are now either gourmet foods or at least they sell for a lot more at the store than you should reasonably be asking for them. Let’s take chicken wings for example. Definitely a ‘what are we going to do with this’ kinda food, but go check the price of wings on the meat section… As for me, I am not a fan of liver at all, in fact you could chase me with calf liver, but I love good Pat√© or Mousee Truf√©e, goose duck, chicken, it’s all good. But as with so many things, it is generally either out of budget or there are too many ingredients in it I am trying to avoid, or both, like in this case. I for one think that a chicken liver pat√©, does not need any pork in it, thank you very much. Or soy, or hydrolyzed plant protein or whey or even egg. Pat√© is,¬†I know, not everybody’s thing, but this spread is fantastic, even if you go with the basic version and omit the truffle paste. No need to like liver, I don’t.

image
When I first looked into making this, I had looked through my old recipe books, and all I found was seriously time consuming recipes, where you bake stuff in a water bath in the oven. Who has time for that, I ask? So off I went into the kitchen and after a little tinkering, came up with a version, maybe not 100 % traditional in its preparation and technique, but tasty? check, and quick? check. So if you like some good gourmet food on occasion, you’ll be happy to know that it is easy to make and very much every day affordable (although you might want to curb that habit just a bit, liver pat√© is a pretty rich food)

image

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 8 oz chicken liver
  • 3/4 tsp green pepper corns
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper corns
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp Cognac or Calvados*
  • (optional: 1 tsp truffle paste )

* Calvados is a French spirit distilled from apples, basically an apple brandy from a specific region

Directions

  1. Melt all but 1 tbsp of the butter over low heat in a heavy sauté pan.
  2. Add the peppercorns and turn heat up to medium.
  3. Chop the chicken livers into pieces and add to the pan, stirring occasionally. Cook until browned on the outside, but still slightly pink inside (unless you really like your meat well done, then go for it, cook it more)
  4. With a fork, pick out the cooked liver pieces, let cool slightly then put them into your food processor.
  5. Add 1 tbsp Cognac or Calvados to the pan and scrape up any browned bits, then remove most of the peppercorns from the pan and set aside.
  6. Crush the garlic into the same pan, roasting until golden, then tip the butter and garlic into the food processor with the chicken livers.
  7. Pulse a few times to combine, then add the remaining 1 tbsp Cognac or Calvados, and the salt, blend until smooth
  8. Add the truffle paste (if using) and the pepercorns and pulse a few times to combine
  9. Melt the remaining butter. Spread chicken liver mix from blender into several small ramekin forms and pour the molten butter over top.
  10. Refrigerate for at least a half hour before serving. Whatever you are not going to eat within 3-4 days, freeze for later.

Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Shallot Red Wine Finishing Butter

image

My Dad used to buy herb butter for grilled meats, it was intensely flavored, fresh herbs, some garlic and salt and would melt wonderfully when placed onto a chicken breast or steak, hot off the coals. In my quest to recreate that elusive aroma from the past, I have come up with quite a range of flavoring and finishing butters (some good, some nah, I will spare you those). This one works well on chicken, roasted potatoes or salmon. And I am sure once you make it, you will find some other creative uses for it as well. What is your favorite way of using finishing butters?

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 md Shallots, finely minced (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 cup red wine (such as a Cabernet Sauv or a C√īte du Rh√īne, don’t use anything sweet)
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

  1. In a small sauce pan, melt the table spoon of butter, add the shallots and cook over low until softened, not browned.
  2. Add the wine and salt, simmer until the liquid is reduced by more than half and starts to become thick and sauce like. Add the parsley, and cook for a further 2 minutes over low. Remove from heat, let cool slightly ( it can still be somewhat warm, but not hot for the next step)
  3. Add the saucepan content into the softened butter and stir to incorporate completely. Your goal is not melt the butter, but mix the flavorings into the softened, malleable butter.
  4. Press into silicon ice cube molds and freeze until firm or chill in the fridge for a little, then form into 1 1/2″ to 2″ rolls on wax paper, refrigerate until completely firm and slice into portion sized disks, store in the freezer.

Note: If you pre portion the flavoring butter, you will only need to remove what you use from the fridge and don’t have to worry about the rest warming up and re freezing each time you use it.

Note: In these pictures, I reduced the wine too much (the phone rang ūüôĀ ) and the shallots absorbed all of it, and the parsley became all but invisible¬†. The flavor is great, but it looks a tad different when you do it right, will post some updated pictures next time I make this. Usually the whole butter takes on the color

image
Home made, no nothing artificial (that’s why we store it in the freezer, no preservatives that make it stay ‘good’ for a ridiculous amount of time.

Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Simone’s Basting Oil

image

One of the local grocery stores, always has yummy samples. Often they cook stuff up right in front of you, and then, here is the part where they get you: To make the yummy stuff, you gotta get the ready made sauce, the basting oil, the finishing butter, the frozen this, the prepared that. Pffff, I am ¬†not buying all that stuff, not only because it can get quite pricey for a girl like me who likes to cook and eat good things :), but also because often times there are unwelcome additions in some of those prepared dishes. Let’s take for example the basting oil, which makes very yummy things. I have sampled at least three so far and have ideas for, like twenty¬†a hundred more!

The official ingredient list goes something like this: Grapeseed Oil, Canola Oil, Dried Thyme, Dried Parsley, Natural Garlic Flavor.

I see two problems with that. First, why ‘Natural Garlic Flavor’? How about some real old fashioned garlic? ¬†And Second, I personally don’t like to use Canola oil, it’s made from a plant called Rapeseed (part of the mustard family) that was genetically engineered in Canada (The name “canola” was derived from “Canadian¬†oil,¬†low¬†acid” in 1978). I am not a fan of GMO crops and avoid them, again, my personal choice.

imageHaha, see the window? ūüėČ

But that said, basting oil is a great thing ūüôā You can use it on veggies, to flavor meats, to add some kick to a sauce, you name it, it can do it, and then some, it even washes your dishes while you sleep. Ok, now I am exaggerating¬†just a little. So to avoid having to go without or having to go with a choice I am unhappy with, why don’t I just make that stuff? It’s cheaper and you get to control what goes in it, win and win!

Here’s my version:

  • 1 3/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 small to medium garlic clove, crushed

Directions

  1. Using a funnel, fill a glass bottle with half the grapeseed oil, then add the crushed garlic, dried thyme and parsley, stuffing it in using a chop stick, if necessary.
  2. Wash whatever got stuck in the funnel down into the bottle using the remainder of the grapeseed and olive oil.
  3. Store in a dark cool place for a week before using.
  4. Shake it up before using

image
The oil starts to turn green as it sits, and the flavors blend. Use 1-2 tbsp to baste meat and vegetables for grilling or roasting, or add to pan braised dishes. Refrigerate

Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved.

Greek Feta Dressing with Buttermilk

Honestly, the only reason I eat salad, is because I like dressing. There I said it. I do think salads are yummy when they contain more than just lettuce, but I guess I still have not grown out of my childhood, when my Dad used to say that the slugs in the garden ate more lettuce than we (my brother and me)!

image
I know raw foods and leafy greens are healthy, but don’t be fooled, stay away from Iceberg lettuce, there is nothing in there if nutritional value, nope nada, it’s just crunchy water.

In the spring and fall, when my garden is producing lots of lettuce, I have to get creative and not only use up the prolific stream of salad greens coming out of my garden  but also the various herbs I grow.

I like the fresh and asserting flavors of Greek dishes: lemon, thyme, Greek oregano, garlic and salty feta cheese (it makes you feel like a sunny vacation). So I decided to get working and turn that into something good. Using Buttermilk and Cottage cheese gives the dressing body and thickness without the added calories of mayonnaise.

image

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/2 lemon, zest only
  • 1 md clove garlic*
  • 1 slice Feta cheese ( about 1″x 1/2″x 4″ ) chopped
  • 2 tbsp chives, fresh, chopped, divided*
  • 1 tsp oregano (from 2 fresh sprigs, leaves only)*
  • 1/2 tsp Thyme*
  • 1 tsp black pepper corns, freshly ground in Mortar

* I used all fresh herbs and ingredients. If you are using dried herbs, adjust the quantity down

image

Directions

  1. Blend all ingredients except 1 tbsp chives, oil, vinegar and buttermilk in blender until smooth.
  2. Add buttermilk, oil and vinegar, pulse to combine. Remove from blender and stir in remaining chives. Ready to enjoy!

image

So far I have used it on various lettuce & vegetable salads (muuuch better than just lettuce). And the sprouted Quinoa White Bean Broccoli salad I had today. Thinking that using it as a marinade might be good as well…
If you’re in need of an idea,
try the warm Sprouted Quinoa Broccoli and White Bean Salad‘ I had today (recipe coming tomorrow)

image

Copyright © 2011 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved.