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Roasted Beets

Not until I came across Pam Anderson’s wonderful cookbook, The Perfect Recipe for Eating Great and Losing Weight( see my Granola recipe for the link), did I ever consider roasting vegetables. Sure I’d had eaten a righteous roasted vegetable salad in my life but the concept of doing this myself was ludicrous. Until I learned that all it takes is a baking sheet, oil, a 425 degree Farenheit (220 degree Celsius) oven , and 20 – 25 minutes to roast uniformly medium cut veggies to perfection. beets and a ramp on Shalavee.com

Vegetables that I’d previously written off as not a part of my eating or cooking vocabulary suddenly became exotic. Beets? I don’t make borscht and I like an occasional dose of sweet and sour beets in my salad bar trough. But roasting them renders them a delicacy and sort of unrecognizable. Roasted beets, who knew?

Cut them to a quarter-inch thick, toss them in oil and sea salt if desired, and lay them out on a baking sheet. The sugars bubble to the surface and they are tender and meaty and become a vegetable candy they’re so sweet. Carrots do a similar thing and they make a happy combination on any salad. Today I put them in with salmon, feta, and a raspberry walnut vinaigrette. I could have added apple and walnuts or substituted chicken and it would have been equally yummy.Roast beets on salad with salmon on Shalavee.com

Another vegetable that took me by surprise when roasted was green beans. I detest the squeak of a crispy green bean but when roasted, they have a meaty nutty texture. Then marinade these to put back on top of a salad and you are eating “out”suddenly. Roasted cauliflower is immensely popular these days. When roasted in cubes, sweet potatoes are a great potato salad base with craisins and apples and celery for crunch with a little Tumeric. And we always roast red potato cubes as a french fry substitute. Higher sugar content will make any veggie yummier with the roasting method.

onions in a bowl on Shalavee.com

If you have the oven on for a chosen meat already, consider being proactive and cooking up a sheet of veggies to eat on the rest of the week. Cut everything uniformly in half-inch widths and at 425 for 20 minutes, you will wonder like me, how you hadn’t started this practice a long time ago. Happy Veggie Roasting !

Minestrone Soup

When I was about to have Fiona two years ago, I did something I considered quite daring: I asked for help for my meal making in that last month. I was as huge as a heifer, my right leg perpetually swollen, everyone telling me to have a seat, but I still needed my family fed. Someone told me about Mealbaby and this is the post I wrote about this wonderful site created to help people in need when babies or sicknesses or a death in the family disrupts their life routine.

shalagh and newborn  Fiona on Shalavee.com

Although it requires you to ask for help which is very hard for some of us, suddenly you have people who you never realized cared so much signing up and showing up. People who aren’t caterers bringing you wonderful balanced meals and you feel oh so grateful.

One of these meals was this minestrone soup. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a high opinion of this soup. But this version is almost like a tomato vegetable stew with seashell pasta. Lovely fresh basil notes, a little wine, and Eamon was immediately a huge fan. So I was too.

Another minestrone soup makings on Shalavee.com

Jamie’s Minestrone Soup  (Jamie’s Minestrone Recipe – Allrecipes.com via Shalavee.com)

Ingredients

Original recipe makes 8 servings
3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 onions, chopped

2 cups chopped celery

5 carrots, sliced

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

4 cups tomato sauce

1/2 cup red wine 

1 cup canned light kidney beans, drained (but you could use a white bean like a cannelini bean too)

1 (15 ounce) can green beans (but I always use frozen or fresh)

2 cups baby spinach, rinsed

3 zucchinis, quartered and sliced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (dried is fine if you have the fresh basil)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or a good dollop of the basil paste in a tube from the produce section)

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup small seashell pasta (but we prefer to cook the box and then add what we want to the bowl)

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for topping

1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large stock pot, over medium-low heat, heat olive oil and saute garlic for 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion and saute for 4 to 5 minutes. Add celery and carrots, saute for 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add chicken broth, water and tomato sauce, bring to boil, stirring frequently. If desired add red wine at this point. Reduce heat to low and add kidney beans, green beans, spinach leaves, zucchini, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, the longer the better.
  3. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until tender. Drain water and set aside.
  4. Once pasta is cooked and soup is heated through place 2 tablespoons cooked pasta into individual serving bowls. Ladle soup on top of pasta and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and serve.

Seriously, this soup and chili are the only two opportunities I have to urge large quantities of vegetables plus the dreaded “bean” down my kids throat. And if you made it with veggie stock, it would be vegetarian so keep it in mind for the fall I suppose. I promise the seldom recipes I do share will be the best I’ve got.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Homemade Granola

These days, watching our food means 90% of the time, I’m abstaining from sugar and white flour. Most store-bought cereals (save shredded wheat) aren’t really a good choice then. Granola is great but store brands are either sugar loaded or too expensive. I have found a fabulous recipe for homemade granola and make this recipe sugar-free by substituting sugar-free syrup for the called for maple syrup. Accompanied by a half cup of yogurt and fruit feels good to eat. That “Yay Me” feeling of eating something good for you.

This versatile recipe comes from a cookbook that changed the way I saw living a lifestyle of wellness and cooking and eating this way daily. Written by Pam Anderson of Cooks Illustrated fame, The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Feeling Great is my go to for this granola recipe, as well as pita and tortilla chips, the multi-grain buttermilk pancakes we had for breakfast, fruit salsa, roasted vegetables, and salad dressings. She’s a wealth of knowledge and I would never have had the confidence to make soup were it not for the template recipe she provides. Another post perhaps.

Granola recipe from Shalavee.com

Great Granola

Makes 1 Quart

2 cups old-fashioned oats

½ cup wheat germ

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup Extra Ingredients (fruit, nuts, coconut flakes)

¼ maple syrup (sugar-free syrup)

3 TBS flavorless oil

2 TBS warm water

other flavorings

  • Set oven rack to middle and set oven at 275 degrees Fahrenheit or 135 Celsius

  • Spray 13-x-9-inch (metal) pan with veg cooking spray (or just wipe oil in it).

  • Mix oats, wheat germ, salt, and extra ingredients, except the fruit, in a medium bowl.

  • Quickly heat syrup, oil, water, and flavoring ( extracts, cinnamon, or ginger) to simmer in saucepan over medium heat.

  • Drizzle over oat mixture and stir up.

  • Pour mixture into prepared pan and work the granola in your hands to create small clumps.

  • Bake for 30 minutes.

  • Stir in dried fruit.

  • Continue to bake for another 25 minutes until golden brown.

  • Let cool and serve and store in airtight tin for a month.

The original granola recipe’s extra ingredients calls for 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, 1/3 cup sweetened or unsweetened coconut, and 1/3 cup golden raisins plus 1/2 tsp cinnamon. The cherry and almond version has 1/3 cup sliced almonds, 1/3 cup coconut, and 1/3 chopped dried cherries with 3/4 tsp almond extract. There are a few more luscious combos but I end up doing almonds or cashews and craisins or raisins, maybe cherries with vanilla and cinnamon.

Granola recipe from Shalavee.com

According to her recipe, it’s 121 calories for a ¼ cup. But since I use sugar-free syrup, it’s much less. And it’s satisfying with ½ cup vanilla yogurt and some fruit as a snack. Perhaps around 225 calories. And her tip on the sidebar of this page? Don’t skip breakfast. I usually eat this for my 3 pm snack and Eamon has it after school. Alas, Fiona doesn’t care for chunks in her yogurt but she’s never met a peach fruit cup she didn’t like. Bon Appetite.

If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Baked Bacon Hack

I definitely have a thing for pork breakfast products. And where I can eat me some sausage with gravy and biscuits, I enjoy a good piece of simple bacon. But here’s my twist, I do not want the bacon that’s cooked crispy and nearly burned bacon you get from a frying pan. I want my bacon roasted in the oven until the fat solidifies into that melt-in-your-mouth goodness and the ham part retains a little chewiness. I am a bacon snob.

When I used to work in restaurants, the wait staff would get in immense trouble when caught snitching bacon off those great big baking trays as they were prepped for lunch’s BLTs. It was like candy waiting for a passersby. And these was done in the oven. Hmmm.

Here’s how my bacon hack is done.

raw bacon

A hot oven, maybe 400 – 425 degrees.

Line a baking sheet in parchment paper and fold the edges so that the grease doesn’t necessarily have to seep all over the pan.

raw bacon stovetop on Shalavee.com

Line up your bacon on the paper and put on the middle rack of the oven.

Start checking for doneness at 10 minutes.

cooked bacon stovetop on Shalavee.com

It needs to be dark enough and cooked solid enough to hold straight when drained. If you take it out and drain it and it seems too limp, stick it back in for another couple of minutes.

Simple, no spatters, and it melts in your mouth.

Baked bacon on Shalavee.com

 

Baked bacon, it’s what’s for breakfast.

 

Homemade Tacos

There was a long standing tradition of making homemade tacos in my house. My Mom brought the technique with her when we moved to the East Coast from California when I was 6 months old. And although I do sometimes use the cardboard boxed tacos for a quick dinner for a 9 year old, I also am capable of pulling the real deal out of my sleeve.

Tacos are a special occasion when guests come to visit kinda endeavor. Because it’s a lot of impressive work that results in some of the most tender delectable yummy food ever. And a couple of weeks ago, our girl Caitlin came to visit and I decided that I was in the taco making mood. No better excuse for the effort than company.

My girls hanging in the kitchen

Masa Harina for Homemeade tacos on Shalavee.com

The process begins with making the dough and forming balls. I use wax paper to smash the tortilla dough on the tortilla press.

Then I take a rolling pin to it to make it a little thinner. Cooking once on the griddle, the dough hardens into a tortilla ready for frying.

tortilla PRESS FOR Homemeade tacos on Shalavee.com

Rolling the corn tortillas a little thinner for Homemeade tacos on Shalavee.com

Not pictured here, the wax paper that is hanging off the griddle catching fire while you transfer them. Once the tortilla gets transferred to the hot oil, it puffs up as you bend it into the ‘U’ shape ready for filling with taco meat, cheese, shredded romaine,avocadoes, sour cream, and siracha sauce. The house fills with smoke from the hot oil. So there’s a smoke alarms turning off and windows opening thing that makes this a real culinary adventure.

deep frying the Homemeade tacos on Shalavee.com

Homemade tacos on Shalavee.com

I made some homemade salsa fresca from our tomatoes, cilantro, onions, and dashes of sushi vinegar and cider vinegar as I had no lime.

Homemade salsa fresca with the homemade tacos on Shalavee.com

As with fresh pasta, freshly made tacos are such a different beast than anything you’ve ever had. And worth every firey bit of wax paper and smoke burning your eyes with the smoke alarm scaring the cats moment.

Homemade tacos from Shalavee.com

I must admit that this finished shot is from a previous batch of tacos. Because in the frenzy of making and eating them this time, there were no more pictures to be taken. The filling this time was a pork. It’s the most easy and satisfying. A pork picnic/shoulder roast cooked at a low temperature for a long time then falls off the bone and is easily shredded. I added chicken stock, cumin, sauteed onions and peppers, and maybe some chili , onion, and garlic powders. But ground beef or poached shredded chicken or even rockfish are all good choices especially with salsa fresca. And a secret sauce tip? Use sour cream mixed with the adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers. Creamy and smoky and spicy and you are a genius.

I don’t expect anyone to run out and try this. It’s not for the faint of heart. But if you ever get a chance to try the real thing anywhere, do yourself a favor and eat a freshly made masa harina flour taco. Divine. 

 

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