Black Bean Salad

blackbean

Another flexible recipe that will adjust to whatever you have on hand, but as always, the more colorful, the better-looking (for your eyes) and the better for your health. This one had:

1 cup dried black beans, which I brought to a boil with water to cover in a saucepan, over high heat, then turned off and left overnight, then cooked a bit more the next day to just the right tenderness, which takes 15 minutes or so — this will amount to about 2 1/2 cooked beans
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, diced, tossed with 1 teaspoon olive oil and roasted in 400 degree oven 12-15 minutes or just until it has a touch of color (indicating a Maillard reaction has occurred — this brings out flavor)
1 cup frozen corn, toasted in a dry skillet until slightly colored
1 orange, peeled, cut into sections and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 handful cilantro, minced
1 red pepper, roasted in 400 degree oven ~20 minutes, then cooled, peeled under running water, and diced
the juice of 1 lime
3 scallions, trimmed and sliced
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, minced (I do this to taste because of the kids)
1 avocado, chopped and immediately tossed with some juice from the lime
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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After you’ve got all that up there done, the rest is easy. Just toss, adjust seasonings, and enjoy.

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Note: I try to use all organic ingredients whenever I can, so if you peruse the recipes here, there are many that will specify “organic this” and “organic that”. I’ve decided to stop doing that now since many people are more aware about the benefits and implications of opting for organic foods whenever and wherever possible. However, to make it easy for the reader who isn’t used yet to this kind of intentional shopping, here’s a handy guide that may help.

organicvsconventional
This is a graphic that appeared here but it seems they’ve taken the original down and I can’t find a new link. No copyright infringement intended.

Gluten-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Banana Bread

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This is the allergen-free version of Jazzed Up Banana Bread, as promised…. but first, a note on flours:

I keep a variety of gluten-free flours and starches and just mix and match when experimenting with recipes. My general rule is to dump small amounts of several different ones — trying to keep a ratio of 1 part starch : 1 part grain or other “flour” — in a large bowl, and then when everything’s in there, feeling the mixture with my hands and seeing if it’s “floury” enough, adjusting amounts as necessary. Too much starch means it might feel pasty in the mouth when baked, or simply will need to bake/cook longer. Too much of a particular grain and I get a dominant flavor or texture that isn’t pleasant, i.e., rice or amaranth. I’ve found that small amounts of different starches and flours up the yum-factor, because there isn’t ONE dominant flavor that the kids are likely to hate. The good news about experimentation is that because of the increased availability and affordability of alternative flours and starches in recent years, compared to 10 years ago — it’s not as cost-prohibitive to play with them and come up with decent substitute recipes. Most things we make these days are edible even if they might need some future tweaking and retweaking. Enjoy the process, that’s the key! 🙂

So that means, in this particular recipe, if you can’t find amaranth flour where you are, let’s say, feel free to substitute another gluten-free flour or increase amounts of other things, like teff (I <3 teff!!). 1/4 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk if you're avoiding nuts) 2 teaspoons white vinegar 2 tablespoons flax seed meal 1/4 cup sorghum flour (see note on flours above) 1/4 cup amaranth flour 1/4 cup arrowroot starch 1/4 cup teff flour 1/4 cup almond flour 1/4 cup potato starch 1/4 cup tapioca flour 1/4 cup coconut flour 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum 2/3 cup sugar (If you're avoiding processed sugar, sub with a healthy option like Sucanat. Helpful reading about sugar.)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips and/or cocoa nibs (any ratio will work)
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
3 bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

Cooking spray or additional coconut oil or other oil of your choice for prepping loaf pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl or glass measuring cup, add vinegar to almond milk. In another bowl, mix flax seed meal with some water (~3-4 tablespoons) until you have a thickish slurry — this will thicken as it sits.

In a large bowl, whisk together all the flours and starches, plus the xanthan gum, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips/cocoa nibs, chopped ginger and mashed bananas. Add vanilla extract to almond milk mixture and fold into the rest of the ingredients, along with the flax seed meal slurry. Fold in melted coconut oil last, making sure everything is nicely combined.

Transfer to lightly-greased loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes to an hour, turning pan halfway, until skewer comes out clean when inserted in center of loaf. Let cool in pan, on a rack, 5 minutes, then turn out and let cool completely before slicing. (Riiiiiight.)

Enjoy!!

Autumn Breakfast Quinoa

autumnquinoa

Here’s a simple, flexible recipe for autumn-themed quinoa. I was out of breakfast ideas and saw pumpkin quinoa on Pinterest, and that was enough to set me experimenting on my own.

I’ve had horrible experiences with overcooked quinoa, so this was carefully watched.

Bring a pot

~4 cups water

to the boil over high heat.

When boiling, add

1 cup quinoa

and lower heat to medium. Let cook ~10 minutes or just until done.

While quinoa is cooking, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

When done, drain well (a large sieve works well for me). Transfer to a large bowl and toss with

3 tablespoons pureed pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

Spread evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake 30 minutes, giving it a good stir every 10 minutes or so. Don’t press too much on the grains, you don’t want them all smooshed together as to become pasty. After the first 10 minutes, keep stirring/tossing, but leave them in small flattish clumps, with spaces in between, so that some edges get exposed to air and get nice and toasty. You’re shooting for a nice combo of soft and grainy but with a teeny bit of crunch. What you’re really doing is drying it, kinda like how you would make granola. (If you have more time, you can extend the baking time so the quinoa does get crunchier and drier.)

Remove from oven and serve hot. I topped mine with a sprinkling of brown sugar, chopped pecans (which would be really yummy made into a praline first, but who’s got time for that, right?), and raspberries, after which I drizzled a bit of almond milk all throughout.

Walnuts would work too, roasted 5-7 minutes first in a 350 degree F oven
Raisins
Cranberries
Fresh chopped apples, or apples cooked in a bit of butter or Earth Balance, lemon juice and cinnamon
Hemp seeds, YUM!!
Butter! (if you’re not avoiding dairy), or maybe a little cream
Any other autumny fruit or nut topping you like
Maple syrup would be sensational

Happy Fall!!!

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Quinoa is grown in the Andean region, so this dish would be suitable for celebrating the feast days of any of the following saints. A simple variation of toppings — for instance, strawberries for the spring or summer saints, or an Andean-grown fruit, like dried papaya — will work here.

St. Narcisa de Jesus Martillo Moran, August 30
St. Teresa of the Andes, July 13
St. Francis Solano, July 14
St. Laura Montoya, May 13
St. Martin de Porres, November 3
St. Rose of Lima, August 23

Poulet Basquaise (Chicken Basque-Style) for St. Bernadette’s Feast Day, April 16

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When we visited Lourdes in 2008, we ate a chicken dish at this restaurant, but I don’t remember much about it except that it had a winey sauce with a bit of bite, and that it had peppers, which I disliked as a child but now love as an adult. So when I was looking for a chicken recipe to prepare for St. Bernadette’s Feast, I chanced upon this Poulet Basquaise, that does have the spicy winey sauce, and the peppers. Parfait!

It starts out with a classic chicken sauté, and then come the peppers, and finally the finishing sauce, with everything heated gently together at the end to allow flavors to blend more fully. Excellent over rice or potatoes, or accompany with some French bread.

I used organic boneless chicken thighs here, which we keep in stock in the freezer to make daily meal prep easier, but you can easily adapt the recipe to bone-in chicken parts; just cook the chicken a few minutes longer to make sure they’re cooked through. You can also use boneless chicken breasts, but watch that you don’t overcook 🙂 .

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 lbs. boneless chicken thighs, patted dry
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup sliced onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped Bayonne ham, or substitute prosciutto
1 bay leaf
2 red bell peppers, sliced into strips
1 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
2 pinches piment d’espelette, or substitute red pepper flakes
1 cup red wine (I used a combo of Rioja & some leftover French Merlot)
4 tablespoons tomato paste
4 tablespoons minced parsley

Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet, over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add chicken thighs in one layer, leaving enough space between chicken pieces to ensure that they sauté properly and not steam. (Cook the chicken in batches if you have to.) Cook until golden on one side, 7-8 minutes. Carefully turn and cook the other side, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go, another 7-8 minutes. Remove to a platter. Add onions and sauté until just becoming limp, then add garlic. Cook 2-3 minutes to release aroma, then add ham and bay leaf. Cook a few minutes to meld flavors. Add sliced peppers and cook, 5-6 minutes, stirring, until peppers are just limp. Do not overcook or they will turn to mush. Season with piment d’espelette and a bit of salt, stir and cook a couple minutes more, then remove to platter. Pour in wine, deglazing skillet to incorporate browned bits. Increase heat to medium-high and boil down to about 3/4 cup. Whisk in tomato paste. Taste and adjust seasoning, then return chicken and pepper mixture to skillet. Fold to coat everything with the sauce. Remove from heat, transfer to platter, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Note: French sauces are often enriched with a bit of butter at the end. Though truly delicious and gives the dish that extra OOMPH, I’ve omitted this step because of dairy allergies here. If you wish to add butter, swirl in 3 tablespoons of it, cut into small pieces, after adding the tomato paste and correcting for seasoning. Continue as above.

I’ve found different recipes for Poulet Basquaise; some call for white wine, others no wine at all, and still others use chicken stock. I’ve picked the red for this dish as the one I remember eating in Lourdes definitely had red wine and not white. 🙂

Salt Cod and Potato Salad for St. Bernadette’s Feast Day, April 16

saltcod-potato

Salt cod is one of those things that have always appealed to me. There are so many things you can do with it! You can put it in soups, flake and make fish balls/fritters with it, make into a brandade (my FAVORITE, except the family can’t have it), add to a stir fry, or some fried rice, put in a tomato-based stew, etc. It is used not only in France and parts of Europe, but also in Latin America, and my homeland, the Philippines, where it is called Bacalao and is a mainstay of the Lenten season. The only thing that has discouraged me from using it more often is the traditional long-term soak, as you have to leave it in the fridge, where it takes up space, and change the water it soaks in several times, for at least a couple of days. I finally found a way to quick-soak it, and it works perfectly. Strictly speaking, it isn’t a SOAK, but it is a fast way of getting rid of the salt, which means you can do it early in the morning, with enough time to serve it at lunch. Or start after lunch and have it ready for supper.

The other consideration when eating salt cod, besides the soaking process, is mercury. Cod does offer omega-3 fatty acids and other benefits, but it is also a moderate-mercury fish. Enjoy it once in a while, but know that there are other, better choices.

1 lb. salt cod, brought gently to a boil with water to cover — change the water 2-3 times until no longer salty and cod is tender and flakes easily
1 1/2 lbs. French fingerlings or other potato
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons white wine or apple cider vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Bring potatoes to a boil in a large pot with water to cover. Lower heat to a simmer and cook, approx. 20 minutes, or just until they can be pierced through with a fork or the tip of a knife. Peel potatoes (if desired; I left some unpeeled) and chop into bite-sized pieces.

Whisk oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add flaked salt cod and potatoes. Toss gently, adjust seasoning, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve immediately. Can be served warm or at room temperature.


Note on the potatoes: I love these French fingerlings, not just because of the name which matches today’s feast perfectly. French fingerlings have a somewhat rosy hue and a hint of sweetness to their flesh, a perfect partner to the salt cod. Of course, you can use whatever potatoes you have on hand, or your favorite.

Basque-Style Green Beans for the Feast of St. Bernadette

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4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped red peppers
1 1/2 lbs. green beans, trimmed
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup chopped Basque/Bayonne Ham, or Jamon Iberico or Serrano, or Prosciutto

Heat olive oil in skillet and sauté minced garlic over medium heat, just until garlic begins to turn color. Add in onions and sauté a few minutes, until onions are limp and beginning to color. Add red peppers, keep sautéing a few minutes more, then add green beans. Give a quick stir, cover and cook 5 minutes. Test for tenderness — you want the green beans still a very lively green and with a bit of resistance. Cook a few more minutes or to desired doneness. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and toss with chopped ham. Serve.

See also: Olive and Anchovy Pinchos/Pintxos for St. Bernadette’s Feast Day


Prayer of St. Bernadette Soubirous:

Let the crucifix be not only in my eyes and on my breast, but in my heart.
O Jesus! Release all my affections and draw them upwards.
Let my crucified heart sink forever into Thine and bury itself in the mysterious
wound made by the entry of the lance.”

Olive and Anchovy Pinchos/Pintxos for St. Bernadette’s Feast Day

A Basquaise appetizer that’s really easy to put together and takes no time at all. Plus, olives are soooo good for you. I inherited my mom’s love of both anchovies and olives 🙂 . The hot peppers add that needed ZING.

pinchos

To make these, you’ll need:

an assortment of olives (I got an assortment to represent the fact that St. Bernadette comes from the Basque region, which straddles the boundary between France and Spain.)
anchovies
hot peppers
toothpicks

Thread the hot peppers, anchovies, and olives onto the toothpicks. Arrange on a plate and serve.


A note on the olives:

Above are arbequinas, manzanillas, coquillos, picholines, gordals, sevillano con limon, and empeltre. The gordals are my favorite. 🙂

More ideas to celebrate here and here. We are watching The Song of Bernadette, since it’s free streaming from Amazon if you’re a Prime member. And also reading this Vision book.

Annunciation Waffles (Allergen-Free!!)

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Happy Feast of the Annunciation of our Lord!! We started the day with Mass, and hurried home anticipating breakfast, since Jenn tells us that the food most associated with this feast are WAFFLES. And I think our allergen-free formula’s finally good enough to share. This makes ~6 large Belgian waffles. They’re hefty and crunchy and will hold up to whipped cream and syrup and fruits. We used blueberries since it’s Mama Mary’s feast day. I was hoping to add flavored whipped coconut cream, but I forgot to chill the coconut milk and had to settle for maple syrup only. Next time.

2 cups brown rice flour
1 cup gluten-free oats
1 cup potato starch
1/2 cup tapioca starch
2 tablespoons protein powder
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
3 tablespoons Sucanat (or sugar)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder

2 cups almond milk (or other dairy-free milk if you can’t have almonds)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3 cup canola oil (or melted vegan butter, or coconut oil, or a mild-flavored olive oil)
3 tablespoons maple syrup (or agave nectar)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Note: If using a Vita-Mix or other high-powered blender, you can just use 2 cups brown rice and 1 cup oats, un-ground. Just dump all the ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.

In another bowl whisk together almond milk and lemon juice. Let stand a few minutes, then whisk in canola oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract.

Combine dry and wet ingredients and whisk until smooth. (Alternatively, run through blender.)

Bake in wafflemaker according to manufacturer’s directions.

Serve hot, topped with maple syrup, fresh fruit and an allergen-free whipped topping, if you like.

Variation: The same batter, thinned out a bit with more almond or other dairy-free milk, can be used to make pizzelles.


annunciation

Annunciation Prayer

Lord who came down from heaven
and stayed in the womb of St. Mary,
after making the annunciation
to her through his head of angels, is blessed.
The Lord is blessed whom the heaven and earth,
Angels and mankind are praising always.
Oh Lord let the intercession of your mother
be a fort for us all.

Peace be unto thee,
Mother of the Sun of righteousness.
Peace be unto thee, the palace of holiness,
Peace be unto thee the ship full of blessings,
the fruit of your virginity is blessed,
Holy Mother please pray for us,
so that we would also be holy like you in our lives.
Lord have mercy upon us.

Lord Jesus,
who was kind enough
to take the presence in humble virgin,
kindly live in us
and redeem us from the strong bondages of sins and death.
Lord make us good and worthy divine homes,
so that you could stay in us.

Lord who had been kind enough
to take the human body from the virgin,
unite us all in your peace.
Unite us all with your grace.
Fill your love in us
so that we could share the love
with you and among us all.
Make us worthy to praise thee
with your blessed Mother and all the saints.

Holy virgin Mother, you are blessed,
By thy prayers
let the Holy church and her children
be saved from all sorts of calamities
and let all the departed get forgiveness for their sins.
Amen.


Don’t miss this beautiful post on the Annunciation from Jenn Miller over at Catholic Culture.

Orecchiette with Mushrooms, Meat Sauce and Hot Pepper Oil (with Allergen-Free Version)

[Note: This dish can be used to celebrate St. Cornelius’ Feast Day on September 16. He’s the patron saint of ear ache sufferers.]

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This post is for my cousin Mariel who requested the recipe for this. I had prepared it for one of our dinners around Christmas, when we had our mini-family reunion at my brother’s in Reading, PA. It’s a simple dish, not too many ingredients. We first encountered it at the hypermarket Auchan in Pescara, where we lived for a time in 2009. They had a cafe of sorts right in the store, so people can grab a bite to eat before or after shopping. This pasta dish is served from a large vat (from want of a better word) about 3 feet wide, and the lady that serves you will ask if you want piccante with it, and I always said yes, as I think it’s the chili oil that really makes the dish. Enjoy, Mariel!

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1 lb. orecchiette (Benedetto Cavalieri‘s, which I use here, is a little over a lb.) — substitute rice pasta if avoiding wheat/gluten (Tinkyada is our favorite brand)
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork (turkey will do as well)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic, about 10 cloves
1 medium onion, chopped
a bunch of mushrooms, at least 8 oz., trimmed and sliced — my family LOVES mushrooms so I usually put a lb or so, since they cook down so much anyway
1/2 cup red wine, whatever table wine you’re serving with this would be great!
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, more if you want it creamier (substitute almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk if avoiding dairy)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

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for the olio piccante:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
a pinch of sea salt

freshly grated Parmigiano, Pecorino or Grana Padano for serving

If your beef/pork is on the fatty side and you want to discard the fat, begin with cooking the meat in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking it up and giving everything a good stir every few minutes or so, until fat is rendered. The beef and pork I get is usually lean, so I start out with the oil.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, for the pasta. Cook pasta al dente, according to manufacturer’s instructions.

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Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the meat and cook, breaking it up and stirring often, until about halfway done, 10 minutes or so. Add garlic and sauté 2-3 minutes, until just beginning to color. Add onions and continue to sauté until limp, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms have given off some of their juice. Add red wine and cook down, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by about half. Add cream and lower heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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To make the salsa piccante: Heat oil over medium heat in a small skillet, until hot but not smoking. Add garlic, pepper flakes and salt. Remove from heat immediately. Let stand a few minutes then pour into a small bowl for serving.

Toss pasta with the meat sauce and serve hot, with the olio piccante and grated cheese on the side for diners to add as they wish.


For allergen-free version:

meat sauce, made with coconut milk instead of heavy whipping cream
meat sauce, made with coconut milk instead of heavy whipping cream

Prepare rice pasta according to manufacturer’s directions.
Cook sauce according to instructions above, except instead of adding heavy whipping cream after the red wine reduction, use coconut milk or your choice of non-dairy milk. Continue as instructed above.
Possible grated cheese substitutes, for sprinkling on top of pasta: either use veggie cheese alternatives, or toast some almond flour in a dry skillet, or use nutritional yeast.

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Cappuccino “Larabar” or “Jocalat” Recipe (DIY, Homemade, Yummy)

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Another “convenience food” that my family loves, except that most of the family is allergic to cashews and walnuts, star ingredients in many of Larabars’ products.

1 cup almonds
1 to 1 1/2 cups pitted dates (we’re currently using Deglet Noor, but for previous batches we used Medjool — both work well)
1 tablespoon espresso powder or finely ground coffee beans
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons dairy-free chocolate chips
1/4 cup dried cherries (optional)
water if needed

Pulse all ingredients (except water) in food processor, until everything is in uniform “crumbs”.
If mixture is too dry to hold together (depending on moisture content of your dates), dribble in water, a tablespoon at a time.
Process a few seconds and test again.
Stir and process further if you prefer finer-textured bars.

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Transfer to plastic-lined cutting board and press into a rectangle about 4″ x 6″ and about 1/2 inch thick.
Cut with a sharp knife into bars or squares.
Wrap individually in parchment if packing for snacks or lunches.

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Suggested Variations:

Almond-Coated Squares: — Cut into bite-sized squares and coat carefully in almond flour.

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For Adults Only Brandy Laraballs: Instead of adding water, dribble in 2-4 tablespoons brandy and process until mixture is fine and smooth. Take 1 1/2 teaspoons of the mixture and roll in your hands, then dust or coat with cocoa powder, cinnamon, or almond flour (or a combination of these), or drizzle with melted dark chocolate.

larabar5

Basic Basmati Rice Pilaf

Basic Basmati Rice Pilaf

Basic Basmati Rice Pilaf

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 3-in cinnamon stick, crushed gently into large pieces
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/2 cup sliced onion
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat coconut in large saucepan over high heat.
  2. Add crushed cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and cloves. Stir until fragrant (careful, cardamom may pop), about 8 seconds.
  3. Lower heat to medium and add onion. Cook, stirring, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add rice and stir well, then add the water and the salt. Cover and bring to a boil, about 5 minutes.
  5. You know what they say about a watched pot? Don't believe that. You WANT to watch this pot. 😀
  6. Once it reaches the boil, cover and lower heat to a simmer. Cook about 18 minutes or until water has been absorbed. Let stand about 10 minutes before serving. Pile high on a platter, fluff with a fork, and enjoy.
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Chocolate Chocolate “Luna Bars” (DIY, Homemade, Yummy)

Who doesn’t love Luna Bars, right? I would eat them everyday, but my family can’t. So I got to thinking — they’re really just rice krispies (TM) with a layer of chocolate or other creamy sticky sweet goodness. The sad thing is my allergy-sufferers can’t really enjoy them because these bars usually have stuff in them my people can’t/shouldn’t eat. Enter the DIY Luna Bar.

chocchoc

1/2 cup almond butter
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1/4 cup raw honey (can use less if you’re trying to cut down on sugar)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups chocolate-flavored crispy rice cereal — I used EnviroKidz but you can use Erewhon if you want a purer product made in a completely allergen-free facility
2 tablespoons soy protein shake mix (use another type of protein powder if you can’t have soy)
1/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (I used Kirkland’s)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
cooking spray, for your hands and for the pan

In a saucepan, combine almond butter, agave nectar, honey, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt. Stir over low heat until runny (it will still be very thick). (You can microwave instead, if you like — we got rid of our microwave a few years ago.)
In a large bowl, combine cereal and soy protein shake mix or other protein powder. Stir in the almond butter mixture and fold-fold-fold until well-combined, using sprayed hands if need be to make sure everything is incorporated well.
In a saucepan or microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and coconut oil together until smooth.

Line a small rectangular pan with parchment, making sure that it’s long enough so you’ve got it overhanging on both sides. I used one that’s roughly 5 x 7 as it’s the one that was most suited for this. If I had used a larger pan the bars would be too thin and I didn’t want that. So my bars came out thicker than I would have liked, but hey, who’s complaining. 😀

Spray pan and parchment with cooking spray, very lightly.
Pour in melted chocolate and spread evenly to edges. Pour in cereal mixture and press down with a spatula and/or your hands. Take a second piece of parchment or some waxed paper and put that on top. Press to smoosh everything just a bit even if you crush some of the cereal. Weigh down with a heavy something, like a marble mortar or a brick.

Chill in the fridge 30 minutes or so. Run a hot knife along edge of pan to loosen, and turn out onto a cutting board.

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Cut into bars or squares, whichever you prefer. Ours didn’t turn out as “pretty” as we would like, but with all that chocolatey crunch, no one cared.

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Prepare to be inundated with requests to make this again and again and again.

Habemus Papam!!

Well, that was a short conclave!! Thank You, Holy Spirit!

waiting with bated breath for the Pope's appearance, ready for screenshots
waiting with bated breath for the Pope’s appearance, ready for screenshots

I don’t know what we were expecting, but we sure didn’t expect the text from Pope Alarm telling us about the WHITE SMOKE!! We all rushed in front of the computer and forgot all about lunch. It was already a late lunch as I was teaching my 14-year-old how to make a spicy tofu stir-fry, and it was made even later because we found ourselves glued to EWTN online and couldn’t look away. Consequently, lunch wasn’t served ’til ~3:30 pm. But no matter. We were jumping up and down, hungry and teary and just joyful and thankful all around. What a beautiful day! We ended the day with a late dinner after the kids’ various activities.

Allergen-Free Dinner in honor of the Pope
Allergen-Free Dinner in honor of the Pope: Argentine “Fried Rice”, Roasted Shrimp with Chimichurri Sauce, Sauteed Spinach, a 2011 Malbec, and some Dulce de Batata con Chocolate

This is such an exciting time!!!


I am gathering here a collection of pictures and articles that caught my eye/our eyes yesterday and today.

Pope Francis the Liberal or Pope Francis the Conservative…

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Viva Il Papa from Teresa Tomeo

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Pope Francis’ first 24 hours: Doing it his way

awestruck

Francis offers his second blessing as Pope to pregnant woman

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Pope Francis pays his hotel bill, avoids pomp and visits chapel revered by Jesuits from Radio Vaticana

catholicmemes

“What is that banana peal doing on MY SIDEWALK?” from Fr. Zuhlsdorf

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The First American Pope from George Weigel

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Traditionalists and Pope Francis: Can We Take a Deep Breath and Please Calm Down?

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Pope Francis on Same-Sex Marriage: ‘A Move of the Father of Lies;’ ‘A Total Rejection of God’s Law’

dennisbrown1

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from L'Osservatore Romano on FB
from L’Osservatore Romano on FB

Pope Francis’ First Homily

The Waffle Adventures (Allergen-Free), Part 1

First attempt:  not enough batter, but excellent flavor and crunch.
First attempt: not enough batter, but excellent flavor and crunch.

Our whole family loves waffles. My personal love affair with the waffle started with the cheese-filled waffle-on-a-stick at our school cafeteria in high school. When Aisa was little I bought us one of those waffle iron – grilled sandwich combo makers, the kind that pressed the edges of bread together, creating a seal so the sandwich filling stays in. That got old after a while, as cleaning that machine proved to be too tedious, and eventually you couldn’t get every bit of batter off, so it developed an icky sort of sticky coating that tended to attract dust and… we got rid of it. Back to Eggo waffles we went, until in 2004 several family members were diagnosed with wheat, dairy and egg allergies. We missed waffles terribly so every now and then we’d just throw caution to the wind and eat them anyway, especially on the occasional trip to the Original Pancake House. More recently Van’s waffles became available in area supermarkets, so we’d give in to the waffle craving every now and then. Van’s waffles are okay but they are about as satisfying as eating filling-less wafers. :/ Since part of my Lenten resolution is to recommit to recipe development for my allergy-sufferers, we’ve started on a new series of experiments, and hopefully this time we’ll “get it”. Here’s part 1.

Attempt 2:  too much batter (3/4 cup as recommended) but spilled through the sides as iron was turned and while waffle was baking.
Attempt 2: too much batter (3/4 cup as recommended) but spilled through the sides as iron was turned and while waffle was baking.

The Waffle Adventures

3/4 cup brown rice flour (I used freshly-milled organic short-grain brown rice)
1/4 cup tapioca starch/flour
1 cup almond milk
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy protein shake mix (see note)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Whisk everything until smooth. Pour into preheated waffle iron and bake according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Excellent crunch, all spaces filled, but batter still too lacy and light, and burned too quickly.
Excellent crunch, all spaces filled, but batter still too lacy and light, and burned too quickly.

Note: I used soy protein shake mix because

a) I wanted to increase the protein content of the recipe, for better nutrition. I had my culinologist/chef daughter look over the ingredients. She didn’t find any questionable ones and told me they were mostly vitamins. I understand that many people are allergic to soy, so I’d recommend either whey protein powder if you’re not avoiding dairy, or rice protein powder (which I haven’t used but have been told that it’s interchangeable with other protein powders), or a tablespoon of some bean flour or starch such as garfava flour or quinoa or some other protein-rich source.
b) we had it and I wanted to use it up.

I also used a Belgian waffle maker because that’s our goal — not the square kinds — if you’re making a thinner waffle, this recipe may work for you as is.
I used the recommended setting of “4” on the Belgian waffle maker, baking the first side until the machine beeped, and then let it bake another 2 minutes after turning. This produced varied results depending on the amount of batter. When we used the recommended 3/4 cup, the batter spilled out the sides as we turned the iron and while it was baking. Maybe 2/3 cup will work better. If protein is added so that the batter is thicker, a setting of 3 and a longer baking time may be just right.

the waffle, off the iron
the waffle, off the iron

As you can see, the experiment wasn’t quite as successful as we were hoping it would be, but we’re hopeful because of several things:

a) we’ve got the crunch right.
b) the batter may need a bit more heft/thickness, which I think is easily achievable with the addition of some quinoa or amaranth or teff or garfava flour as mentioned above. In tiny amounts they shouldn’t affect the flavor/texture too much.
c) the batter may need a bit more heft/thickness so it fills up the waffle iron easily, but doesn’t flow too quickly out of the waffle iron sides as you turn it. I think (b) would solve that problem as well.
d) we’ve got the flavor right.
e) the kids ate every single one of this “failed experiment” — so in this respect, it’s already a success.

back to not enough batter, but at least we've still got the crunch right, and this time color is perfect.
back to not enough batter, but at least we’ve still got the crunch right, and this time color is perfect.