So, several of my family members got dehydrators for Christmas. They’re having a great time figuring out what to dry. I thought I’d show how I dry banana chips, the easy way. So many of the recipes out there call for the banana slices to be soaked in lemon juice or some kind of citric acid solution before drying. I’m going to tell you that it’s not needed. Really, it’s not necessary. They dry just fine without that extra step.
This is a super easy way to make some healthy snacks for your family. So many of the supermarket brands of banana chips are covered in oil and sugar. We don’t need that. Naturally dried banana chips are sweet enough without all that extra stuff. This is also a great way to use up those spotted bananas. They’re just fully ripe and oh, so good!
What you’ll need – The dehydrator! I have the Nesco Snackmaster. It’s a great little machine. You’ll need some bananas, too.
Ready to go!
Additional equipment – See that metal thingy to the right of the banana? That’s my Grandma’s butter slicer. Let me tell you – this thing is the greatest thing for slicing bananas, since sliced bread! If you have one, use it instead of a mandoline or knife. If you don’t have one, get one!
Here come the complicated instructions. Peel banana.
Peel the banana.
Since bananas are usually curved and a bit longer than the butter slicer – cut that sucker in half!
Cut it in half
(you can just break in in half with your hands. I won’t tell) Then, you slice it up!
Here comes the complicated part. If there’s a bruise on your banana, just break that part off and stick in in a baggie and keep in the freezer for banana bread or this awesome smoothie.
Save this for bread or smoothies!
Now, get out your dehydrator trays and place the slices of banana on them.
Arrange the slices on the trays
Keep adding trays as you need them, until all the banana slices are gone.
ready to dry
Set the dehydrator to the fruit setting, recommended for your model of dehydrator. Mine is 135 degrees for fruit.
Fruit 135 degrees
Then follow the recommended times for you machine. Check them and decide if you like them chewy or crunchy. Mine took 16 hours to get to the slightly crunchy stage that I like.
Let them cool a bit, then pop the chips off the trays.
Store them in an air tight container or baggie. They will get a bit soft after about 10 days, but they shouldn’t last that long!
What I did – I took 4, 6 to 7 inch bananas, peeled them and sliced them about a quarter inch thick. I spread them out on my dehydrators trays and dried them for about 16 hours. I rotated the trays after 8 hours. You can use more or fewer bananas. My 4 bananas made about 2 cups of chips. Give it a try. With a dehydrator, you can control what goes into and onto the things that you dry. Less sugar, less salt, fewer additives, better flavor, the benefits are endless. Store in an airtight container. Refrigeration is not needed.
A couple of Sunday’s ago, I was flipping through the relish booklet that comes in my Sunday newspaper. In the recipes section, this word popped out at me. Potaffle. What the heck is a potaffle? It’s an ingenious way to use up leftover mashed potatoes, without it being obvious, that they’re leftovers. And, they’re waffles! That automatically makes them a fun food! Since Thanksgiving was just a few days away, I knew I’d have some leftover mashed potatoes. I was going to make potaffles!
You’ll need leftover, cold, mashed potatoes, of course! Some flour, an egg, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and chives (they are loaded after all) will make these awesome!
Get out your waffle iron and get it ready.
Get a large bowl out. Crack the egg into it and whisk it up.
Whisk in the sour cream, too.
add sour cream
Add the shredded cheddar cheese and minced chives.
add the cheese and chives
Fold in the flour. I used whole wheat.
fold in the flour
And finally, fold in the mashed potatoes.
add the mashed potatoes
Mix until it’s well combined.
mix i t up
Spray your waffle iron with some nonstick cooking spray and drop a pile of potato mix in the center of each waffle space.
1/4 cup full
Close it up and let the waffle iron work it’s magic!
magic happens here
My iron took a couple of minutes for each batch. They were cooked through when the little green light came on. Look – magic!
Tip: To keep them all nice, crisp and warm while you cook the rest. Heat your oven to 250º, then, put the cooked potaffles on a sheet pan and keep them in the oven till dinner (or lunch) is ready!
ready to keep warmed in the oven
Isn’t this an easy recipe? If you don’t have a waffle iron, just cook them in a skillet. Spray the pan with oil and fry the patties over a medium heat, flipping when one side is golden brown.
Garnish them with more sour cream and chives! Delicious!
Company is coming. It’s the holidays, company is always coming. Friends, family and loved ones from afar will pass through your doors. Some will stay just the day, some will stay awhile. You’ll stay up late talking, sharing memories and just, well, catching up! Then, morning comes all too early and you drag out of bed, head to the kitchen to get a pot of coffee going. After the first cup clears your cobwebs, you suddenly realize – you have to make breakfast for a dozen people! 12 hungry mouths to feed. OK, maybe you have more or maybe you have less, you still need to feed them! The thought of all those dirty pots and pans makes you want to crawl back into bed. Never fear, friends! The breakfast braid is here to rescue you. You can impress your family and still maintain a relatively clean kitchen.
The breakfast bunch –
You’ll need a 13 x 18 baking sheet, which is NOT the one you see pictured. That pan is too small. I got out the right pan, later. The rest of the ingredients are eggs, chopped fresh spinach, chopped mushrooms, roasted red peppers, cheese, a refrigerated tube of pizza dough and some sesame seeds to make it pretty. You’ll need some butter to cook the eggs, too.
Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit the baking sheet. This makes moving the breakfast braid much, much easier.
Preheat the oven to 425º.
Crack the eggs into a medium sized bowl.
If it’s your normal practice to add milk or water to your scrambled eggs, go ahead and do it. Sometimes I do, this time I didn’t. Give them a whisk.
Get out a skillet and melt some butter in it.
When it’s melted, swirl it around to cover. Then, pour in the eggs.
Add the eggs
As the eggs cook, push the solids towards the center, so they don’t cook all the way through.
push to the middle
You don’t want to cook the eggs all the way. You want them soft set. Runny. Yes, runny. They’ll continue to cook and they have to go into the oven.
soft scrambled eggs
While the eggs are cooking, time to get the dough ready. Get your half sheet pan with the parchment paper on it. ( I got out the right pan) Pop the roll of pizza dough and spread it out onto the pan.
spread out the dough
Gently stretch it to fit the pan. Pinch together any tears that happen. Get a knife and carefully make diagonal cuts about 2 inches apart, along both sides of the dough, leaving about 4 inches solid in the middle.
cut diagonally towards the center
Time to build the layers. Start with the chopped fresh spinach. Evenly spread the spinach down the center of the dough.
start with the spinach
Add a layer of mushrooms, keeping it all in the center.
Pile the eggs on next.
Add the egg layer
Let me share my latest find with you, a vegetarian cheese. A great tasting, vegetarian cheese.
This is Red Apple Naturally Good Kosher Cheese. It looks like all the cheeses in their Naturally Good Kosher and Screaming Dutchman line are vegetarian. And, look at that easy to read label! Check your markets for this cheese. If they don’t carry it, ask them to!
Back to the recipe. Get your vegetarian cheese out and grate a cup’s worth.
Sprinkle the cheese over the eggs.
Get a couple of red peppers out of the jar, pat dry and dice up.
diced roasted red pepper
Spread them over the top of the breakfast braid.
Roast red pepper layer
Now, fold one end of the dough up and over the filling. The end piece first, then the first piece on either side. Press the dough edges to seal it.
fold one end up and over the filling
Then, fold the next strip up and over the filling. Left, then right. Or right, then left. Just do one side, then the other. Leave gaps for the filling to show through.
Braiding the bread
When you get to the middle of the breakfast braid, turn it around and start at the other end.
Fold up the other end
Continue folding one side, then the other until you reach the middle. then seal the dough edges down.
We need an egg wash, so separate out an egg white to use, or pour some liquid egg whites into a small dish. Whisk it with a fork. Brush the breakfast braid with the beaten egg wash, then sprinkle the entire top with sesame seeds.
Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds
Bake the breakfast braid at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Let cool for 5 minutes, then slice and serve. This makes 6 good sized servings.
Breakfast is ready
This is so easy and so versatile. You can change up the fillings, even make them for lunch or dinner. If there’s a crown at your house, it’s no more trouble to make 2 or 3 at the same time. So, relax, enjoy your coffee. You’ve got this breakfast thing under control!
A refreshing change to ordinary breakfast sandwiches.
1 tube refrigerated pizza dough
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups lightly packed chopped spinach
1 cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup diced roast red peppers – jarred or fresh made
1 cup shredded cheese
1 egg white, lightly beaten.
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 425º.
Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a large baking tray. Unroll dough onto the parchment paper and pat into a 10 x 15 inch rectangle. With a sharp knife, make diagonal cuts about 2 inches apart along both long sides of the dough, leaving about a 4 inch solid center.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the beaten eggs and cook until soft scrambled, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Arrange the chopped spinach down the center of the dough. Add a layer of sliced mushrooms next. Spoon the soft set scrambled eggs evenly over the dough center for the next layer. Top with the shredded cheese. Sprinkle the roasted red peppers down the center, as the last layer.
Bring the end piece of dough, up and over the filling end and bring the top strip of dough over the filling. Press the edges to seal. Braid dough over top of filling by alternating strips from each side. Fold the bottom edge up and over the end, sealing it with the last two edge strips.
Brush the breakfast braid with a beaten egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 425º for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes, slice and serve.
Do you have one of those people at your house? You know the kind. The kind of people, that if the banana has a spot or two (or twenty) on it, it suddenly becomes inedible. Yeah, those people. Poor banana, it didn’t do anything to deserve such disrespect.
Unloved and unwanted
I say we respect the spotty banana! It’s just now coming into it’s full flavor! It’s just perfect for banana breads and muffins. It’s even better to just slice up and freeze. Use those frozen chunks of yummy banana for a fast, healthy, ice cream substitute after a quick trip in the food processor, or better yet, use them for this smoothie! We love you , spotty banana! So, take that banana and peel it.
peel the nana
Slice it up, put it on a plate and freeze it.
Now, we’re ready to make this awesome, decadent, smoothie.
Banana and Almond Butter Smoothie with Cacao Nibs
Cacao nibs. Let’s talk about them, ok? You heard on some Doctor’s show, that these are a super food! A power house of nutrition! Rush right out and buy some! I know I did. Then, I popped a handful into my mouth and discovered that these suckers are quite bitter. I guess you could get used to eating them, but I’d rather add them to some that already tastes good, so I can make it taste awesome! That, right there, is this, oh so, good smoothie. This is what I have almost every day for breakfast. It fills me up, and keeps me going until lunch, or later. It fills me up without making me feel full. You know what I mean? You get none of that bloat, that you get from whatever breakfast sandwich you gobble down. And, if you already have frozen bananas in the freezer, tucked away in a zip top baggie, this smoothie takes scant minutes to make. Take it on the road. The ultimate fast food!
You’ll need half a frozen banana, some silken tofu, unsweetened vanilla almond milk – or milk of your choice – cacao nibs, almond butter and a couple of ice cubes.
Measure out 1/2 cup of vanilla almond milk, 1/4 cup of silken tofu, 2 tablespoons of cacao nibs, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of almond butter.
measure out the ingredients
Get out your blender. Drop 5 ice cubes and 4 to 6 one inch slices of frozen banana into it.
add the ice and bananas in
Then, add in the rest of the ingredients.
add the rest into the blender
Then, cap that blender up and flip the switch!
Blend it until it’s as smooth as you like it. I wait until I no longer hear the ice cubes banging around. If it’s too thick, thin it out with a bit of water. Then pour it into a glass and enjoy. Easy-peasy!
A decadent, protein filled smoothie to start your day. Or, for anytime!
5 ice cubes, or as much as needed
½ peeled banana, sliced and frozen
¼ cup silken tofu
½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk or equivalent milk substitute.
1 ½ Tablespoons Almond butter
2 Tablespoons cacao nibs
Water, as needed to thin smoothie
Place 5 ice cubes in the bottom of your blender, along with the frozen banana slices.
Add the remaining ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.
Serve immediately. Garnish with additional cacao nibs and a sprig of fresh mint, if desired.
This tastes like, like – a nutty, chocolaty, nana milkshake. Like something that you shouldn’t have because it’s sooo good! Except! There’s nothing bad in here. Nope, nada. It’s all good for you. So, be good to yourself and have this. Trust me, you’ll love it! You don’t even have to have it for breakfast. This is an excellent, energizer for lunch.
We are lucky enough to have many different Latino/Hispanic/Cuban eateries around here. I am lucky enough to be able to eat at all of them! A few of them serve breakfast and since that’s my favorite meal of the day, we eat out on some mornings. It’s a treat. It rarely costs much and that makes me even happier. At one place, they had Habanero Eggs listed. I, being not too worldly, thought that was eggs with habanero peppers. Nope. It’s a reference to Havana, Cuba. Wiki explains. No super hot peppers were involved, so I ordered it. It was so good! Soft baked eggs, surrounded by sauteed onions, (not hot) peppers, tomatoes and garlic. It was so good, that in fact, I got to craving it late one evening. I was out of luck. I couldn’t go get it made for take-away. It wasn’t breakfast time! Oh my. What to do, what to do. I went to the kitchen, got out my pans, some peppers and whatnots, then went to work on making it myself. I think it turned out pretty good.
The egg-citing line up!
Cuban Habanero eggs ingredients
We’re going to make a sofrito, so you’ll need and onion, garlic and some peppers. I used a red bell, a jalapeno and a poblano. You can use all bell peppers, all japaleno, or any combination of peppers that make you happy! Heck, use one of those uber hot, habanero peppers! You will also need some tomatoes, a bit of cumin, some white wine, butter and of course, some eggs. You’ll need some oil to saute those veggies in, too.
Get out the cutting board, we’ve got chopping to do! Dice up the onion. You want at least a cups worth, better to have 2 cups worth. Use a big onion!
Dice the onion
Chop up the red pepper, discarding the seedy top.
Dice the red pepper
Do the same for the poblano –
Dice the poblano
I removed the veins and seeds from the jalapeno.
Devein the jalapeno
Then, it got diced up too.
dice the jalapeno
Now, add all those diced veggies to a big frying pan, that you’ve put a couple of tablespoons of oil in.
Need a big skillet!
Set it on the stove over a medium heat and let it start cooking.
Saute the peppers and onion.
Time to preheat the oven to 350º F. OK, back to the cutting board. It’s the tomatoes turn. I used roma tomatoes because they don’t have the high water content like the big, beef stake kind. We want tomato flavor, not tomato soup.
Dice the tomatoes
And, mince up the garlic.
mince the garlic
Measure out 2 tablespoons of white wine. The rest of the bottle can be used by the cook. We’ve got to keep the cook happy, you know!
2 tablespoons white wine
Cook the onion – pepper mixture until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes, then, add in the tomatoes, garlic, cumin, and white wine.
add the tomatoes, garlic, white wine and cumin.
Cover the skillet and let it cook for around 5 minutes, stirring frequently. After the tomatoes have softened, remove the pan from the heat, then add some salt and pepper.
Oil the inside of four, 12 ounce ramekins.
oil the ramekins
Divide the sauteed vegetables evenly among the ramekins.
divide the mix among the ramekins
Smooth it out and lightly pack it down. Crack 2 eggs into each veggie filled ramekin.
crack in 2 eggs
Top each dish with one tablespoon of melted butter.
top with melted butter
If you are not clumsy, slide the ramekins into the 350º F oven to bake. If you are clumsy (like me) put the ramekins on a baking sheet and place in the hot oven. Bake the eggs until they are soft set – the white is mostly done but the yolk is still soft – about 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate the ramekins halfway through the cooking time. They will continue to cook a bit after they are out of the oven. So, if you are unsure, pull them out. Better to have them underdone than over done. You can always bake them a minute or 2 more.
Baked, soft set eggs
Mmmm, mmm. So good. I garnished mine with some cilantro and smoked paprika. A breakfast that is fitting to start the day with! Serve these with a nice, light fruit salad and some toast points. Or, dollop up a spoonful of grits and a big ole biscuit! You can even add some cheese to the ramekins, either under or over the eggs. That would make it really pop! Enjoy breakfast. Either for breakfast or, go wild – even for dinner!
Delicious, baked eggs, nestled in a spicy tomato, sofrito blend.
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper. Chopped
1 poblano pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded, diced
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 Tablespoons white wine
½ teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
8 large eggs
4 Tablespoons melted butter, divided
Preheat oven to 350º F.
Pour the oil to a large skillet. Using low heat, cook the onion, red bell pepper, pobalno and jalapeno until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add in the garlic, tomatoes, wine and cumin, mixing well. Cover and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Divide mixture between four lightly greased ramekins. Gently break two eggs into each dish. Top each dish with one tablespoon of the melted butter.
Bake until the whites are set and the yolks are still soft, about 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate the ramekins halfway through the cooking time. Do not over bake. Garnish and serve on plate with toast points and a fruit salad.
Garnish with cilantro and smoked paprika, if desired.
I’m always looking for cool, delicious new salads to try. I like to experiment with things I’ve eaten or seen on restaurant menus. That’s what happened here. I picked this off a menu. We were in North Little Rock, visiting our son. He said that a local restaurant, the Casa Mexicana, had some good vegetarian options. So, we went there. On the menu was something called Mexican Cocktail. It was boiled shrimp served in a mixture of spicy tomato sauce, cilantro, avocado and pico de gallo. By the time we left, I was already thinking of a way to make it better. That’s how this recipe came about. Mix some up and have it for your July 4th celebrations. It’s cool and refreshing. And yummy. Oh so, yummy.
The ingredients –
You’ll need firm tofu, an onion, 2 tomatoes, 2 avocados, a jalapeno, lime, cilantro, tamari sauce and ketchup. Yes, ketchup. The secret to a great salsa!
Open the tofu and drain out the water. Sandwich the tofu between 2, paper towel lined plates and put a weight on top. Press it for at least 30 minutes. You gotta get that excess water out.
Get out a big bowl. This makes 8 cups of cocktail, so go large. Core and chop the tomatoes.
You want at least 2 cups. 3 cups is better. If you love tomatoes, that is. We love tomatoes!
Dump them into the bowl. Dice up 1/2 cup of onion and add it to the bowl.
half an onion
Chop up 1/4 cup of cilantro and dump it into the bowl.
1/4 cup of cilantro
Now, about the jalapeno, if you like it hot, just dice up the whole thing. If you like flavor without the burning tongue, seed and devein the jalapeno. Dice it up and add to the bowl.
Measure out a tablespoon of tamari sauce (or Bragg’s liquid aminos, or soy sauce) and dump it in, too.
tablespoon of tamari
Squeeze out 1 cup of ketchup and, guess what? Right, dump it in the bowl. We’re all about the excitement here.
1 cup of ketchup
This is where we’re at so far.
Now, because avocados are tricky – they like to turn brown on you – we waited to add them. So, dice up that avocado!
it’s avocado time!
And toss it in the bowl!
add the avocado
Add in some salt and pepper, too. We haven’t stirred the mess up yet, because now, were going to squeeze the lime juice over the avocado, to keep it from browning. It’s lime time.
Squeeze the juice over the avocado
Now, now, you can mix it up.
Mix it up!
Time for the block of tofu.
block of tofu
I know, I know, it doesn’t look like much, does it. But you just wait! It’s going to be amazing. OK, cut it in half, width-wise.
Then, cut each half into 1 inch cubes.
cube the tofu
And, add it to the bowl.
Here’s the tofu!
Mix it up, so that all the tofu is coated with the salsa cocktail mixture.
fold in the tofu
Cover it up and chill it in the fridge for at least an hour. Longer is just fine. Remember, you squeezed that lime juice over the avocado, so it won’t turn brown. When you’re ready to serve, put 1 1/2 cups into a pretty glass, top with a cilantro leaf and eat! I used these margarita glasses. So cute! And there you have it. Tofu Salsa Cocktail. Created from a listing in a restaurant menu. Inspiration comes from everywhere. Enjoy!
Last year, I was in the hardware store and decided to pick up some plants for the garden. It’s Florida, we garden year around. On a whim, I grabbed 2 kale plants. This, I thought would give me a head start, while I waited to plant seeds. It gave me such a head start, that I never planted those seeds! Eight months later, those two plants still produce a boat load of leaves. I bought Lacinato or Dinosaur kale.
Lacinato or Dinosaur Kale
Get your kids into gardening. Go buy some fun Dinosaur kale! Your kids may be more open to trying new things, if they are active in choosing and growing their own food. So anyways, the kale grew. And grew! We have all kinds of kale to eat and the plants show no signs of slowing down! That means it’s time to dig out all the kale recipes, because sauteed kale got old after the first 16 times we had it. Of course, we had scalloped potatoes and kale, all kinds of soups, kale chips and this dish with gnocchi. I’ve based my recipe on one I found at eatingwell.com.
What you’ll need –
You’ll need a 16 ounce package of gnocchi, a can of cannellini beans, a can of diced tomatoes, some dry Italian seasoning, garlic, onion, bell pepper, mozzarella cheese, and a bunch of kale. Enough to yield 8 cups of chopped leaves. I used about 20 leaves. The plant grew that many again, before I got to my front door.
Start by cleaning the kale. Pull off the stems and tear the leaves into smaller pieces.
Get the kale ready
Time to cut up the veggies.
Cut the bell pepper into about 1 inch square pieces.
chop chop, sniff sniff
Dice the onion into about 1/4 inch pieces.
Mince the heck out of the garlic. Tiny, tiny pieces. Now, time to cook.
This is a simple one pot dish, so get out a big skillet! A covered one, please. Over medium heat, put a tablespoon of oil in the skillet and add the gnocchi.
Let them cook, stirring them around.
Get some color going
When they’re all nice and toasty, remove them to a platter and set aside. (just between us – I wiped that plate off and used it for dinner. who needs more dirty dishes?)
Pour some more oil in the pan and dump in the bell pepper and onion.
Bell pepper and onion
Cook these for a couple of minutes, just until they start to soften. Add in the minced garlic and cook 2 more minutes.
the garlic is surrounded
Push the pepper mix to the side of the pan and pile the kale in.
add the kale
Cover it and cook for 2 minutes.
Cover it up
Open it up, give it a stir
it’s getting there
and then, cover it up and cook for 2 more minutes. While all the opening and covering is going on, drain and rinse the cannellini beans.
rinse the beans
Open the can of diced tomatoes and pour them into the skillet. Add in the white beans and the dry Italian seasoning. Sprinkle on some salt & pepper, too.
add the beans and tomatoes
Give it a good mixing. Cover it and bring to a simmer, about 2 to 4 minutes.
mix it up
Time to grab the plate of sauteed gnocchi and add it to the mix.
little pillows of pasta goodness
Combine all the skillet ingredients and return to simmering. After another couple of minutes, turn off the stove. Sprinkle the gnocchi mix with the shredded mozzarella.
top with cheese
Cover and let the cheesy goodness melt all over. That’s it! All done. Pretty it up with some chopped parsley and serve it right from the skillet.
Grab a spoon, it’s dinner!
We had ours with a simple salad featuring some green zebra tomatoes, fresh from the garden. Life’s simple pleasures.
A simple, delicious, one pot meal that uses ready made gnocchi, canned white beans and fresh kale in a chunky tomato sauce.
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided.
1 – 16 oz package of ready made gnocchi
1 – bunch of fresh kale, stems removed and chopped, about 8 cups of leaves.
1 cup diced white onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 – can diced tomatoes, 14 to 16oz.
1 – can of cannellini beans, 14 to 16oz. Drained and rinsed.
1 Tablespoon dried italian seasoning mix
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup shredded mozzarella
shredded parsley for garnish
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pour in 1 tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil. Add in the gnocchi. Saute for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often. When the gnocchi have browned, remove to a plate and set aside.
Add the remaining tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to skillet. Add in the red bell pepper and white onion. Cook, stirring, over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Move the garlic, onions and pepper mix to one side of the pan and add the kale, packing it in. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Remove lid and stir kale. Return lid and cook an additional 2 minutes. Remove lid and add the canned tomatoes, rinsed and drained white beans, the dry Italian seasoning mix and salt & pepper. Combine well. Cover and simmer for 2 to 4 minutes. Remove lid, stir in the cooked gnocchi, return to simmer and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and let melt. Garnish with shredded parsley. Serve directly from the skillet, family style.
My friend Kim introduced me to the Dandelion Communitea Cafe, a restaurant that calls itself ” your local, organic, eco-friendly eatery”. While not being too local to me, the rest fits them perfectly. They have the most delicious assortment of vegetarian, vegan, soy free or gluten free foods that I have seen. In addition to the healthful soups and wraps, the have yummy deserts. One of which, is, a vegan brownie. After eating one, I decided that my recipe collection needed this added to it. I already had a pretty good brownie recipe that I could start with. I just needed butter and egg replacements. I already new I could use applesauce to replace the oil and flax seeds to replace the eggs. However, that combo let me with some less than stellar brownies. That will not do, so back to the drawing board. After some reading, I decided to use chia seeds for the eggs and then, with much concern, I went with avocado for the butter replacement. You know what? This brownie rocks! It has a nice cake like texture without being too dense, too fudgy. If you didn’t already know that avocado was in it, you would never guess! This post is picture proof that you won’t end up with green brownies.
Pretend you see sugar and baking soda in here.
You’ll need 2 ripe avocados, whole wheat flour, chia seeds, cocoa powder, vegan chocolate chips, vanilla, sugar, baking soda and powder and some salt.
First, if your chia seeds are not already ground, you’ll have to grind them. I use a coffee grinder that I found at a thrift store. Put 2 tablespoons of chia in the grinder.
Put the seeds into the grinder.
Snap the cap on and grind.
ground chia seeds
Is it necessary to grind the seeds? No, not really. They’ll still gel up, but you’ll just have a little crunch in your brownies. Pour the ground chia in a little dish add 6 tablespoons of water, then mix it up.
Let them sit while you make the batter. They’ll set up into a nice, thick gel.
Preheat your oven to 350º. Get both ripe avocados. Cut them in half, remove the pits and scoop the pulp into your mixer bowl.
Place pulp here.
Get a fork and smash the heck out of them.
Scrape the pulp off the sides of the bowl and attach the beater to the mixer.
Scrape it down
Here’s that sugar that was missing from the ingredient photo. You’ll need 3/4 cup.
3/4 cup of sugar
Add the sugar, chia eggs and vanilla extract to the avocado in the mixer bowl.
There’s the chia seed eggs.
Mix this for about a minute. Then, add in the salt, baking soda and baking powder.
1/2 teaspoon of each
Add in the whole wheat flour and baking cocoa, too.
The dry ingredients.
Mix this until it’s well combined, about a minute.
add the vegan chips
Fold in the 1/3 cup of vegan chips. (nobody is looking, toss in another handful of chips. shhh, our secret.)
Line a 9 x 9 inch pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
Parchment lined pan
Spread the brownie batter out evenly in the pan.
Spread the batter out
Bake at 350º for 30 to 35 minutes. Test the brownie for doneness with a couple of toothpicks. Stick them in and if they come out clean, it’s done. If something gooey is stuck to the pick, test again in a different spot, just to make sure you haven’t hit a melted chocolate chip. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then lift the brownie out, using the parchment paper. Remove the outer paper and set the brownies on a wire rack to cool some more.
let cool some more
Remove the last paper and cool completely.
let cool completely
Remove to a cutting board and cut into 12 pieces. Or, if your a brownie nut, cut it into 9 honking big pieces. Yeah, that’s better. Put a spoon of powdered sugar into a small sieve and tap the sugar over the brownies.
We call this- Making it snow!
I take a little cocoa powder and sift it over them, too.
Vegan Double Chocolate Brownies
See, they’re not green from the avocado. They’re delicious from the avocado. Those little green things are packed with fiber, potassium, folate, magnesium, vitamins K and C. The chia seeds have omega 3’s and 6’s and calcium. Plus, theres all the fiber in the whole wheat flour (use whole wheat flour, please). This, my friends, is a healthy brownie. Yes, I said it – healthy! It’s delicious, too. Make these!
A delightful, chocolaty, healthy treat with a surprise ingredient!
For the egg replacement:
2 Tablespoons ground chia seeds
6 Tablespoons water
For the brownies:
2 whole ripe avocados
¾ cup natural sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅓ cup baking cocoa
1 cup whole wheat flour – I used a soft white.
½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup vegan chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 º
To make the egg replacement – place the 2 tablespoons of ground chia in a small dish. Add 6 tablespoons of water and stir to combine. Let mixture gel for 5 minutes before using.
Halve the avocados and remove the pit. Spoon the avocado pulp into a medium sized bowl. The work bowl of your mixer is perfect for this. Mash the avocado on the sides of the bowl, using a fork. Scrape the sides down. Add in the sugar, egg replacement and vanilla extract. Mix to combine.
Next, add in the baking cocoa, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix at medium speed for 2 minutes or well combined. Some green flecks will be visible. Fold in the vegan chocolate chips.
Line a 9 inch square baking pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking oil.
Spoon batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean and the brownie surface appears dry and not glossy. Test brownie for doneness in several places to ensure that the tester did not go through a melted chip. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Using the parchment paper as handles, remove brownie from pan to wire rack and cool completely. Remove parchment paper and cut into 12 regular sized brownies or 9 come to momma sized brownies. Dust with powdered sugar and cocoa before serving, if desired.
Funny thing happened during this photo shoot. I went to go let the cat out and came back to this. It’s not safe to leave these brownies out.
Spring has sprung. Although most of the country is still covered up with snow, the calender says that Spring is here. I know it has sprung here in Florida. Everything has a golden layer of pollen on it. Allergy season is here. Flowers are blooming, bees are buzzing, I’m sniffling and sneezing. Yup, it’s Spring.
To welcome the change in seasons, I made this light and refreshing salad. It’s been a particularly hot past couple of days and I wanted something easy. Something I could whip up and let chill in the fridge while I was out mowing the grass. That, is this bean and tomato salad. So, while I’m waiting for my allergy pills to kick in, I’ll teach you how to make it for yourselves.
Tomato and white bean salad
Here’s the fixings.
Let’s get started!
You’ll need 2 cans of cannellini beans, a pint of cherry type tomatoes, fresh basil, feta cheese, extra virgin olive oil, agave sweetener (or honey or any sweetener), some salt and pepper, and some white balsamic vinegar. If you don’t have any white balsamic vinegar, got ahead and get some. This stuff is so good. Sprinkle a little bit in with the yolk mix, the next time you make deviled eggs! You’ll be amazed at how good this stuff makes them. If you’re sure you don’t want to go out and buy the white balsamic vinegar, use a white wine vinegar, or rice vinegar. Stick with something clear. Regular balsamic vinegar will make the salad an unpleasant dark color. We don’t want that.
Start off by draining the cannellini beans. Rinse them off, if they have a lot of bean starch in the can.
Drain the beans
While they drip dry, get out your cutting board. Time to cut the tomatoes in half.
Slice the tomatoes in half
Get out a large bowl and dump the drained beans into it.
Put the beans into a bowl
Dump the tomato halves in there, too.
Add the tomatoes
Measure out a half cup of feta cheese and dump it in also!
Add in the feta
Stack up about 20 basil leaves, roll them up and slice them thinly. That’s called a chiffonade. I learned this from the television cooking shows. They love to chiffonade things!
Chiffonade the basil
You know what’s next, don’t you? That’s right, add them to the bowl.
Now, to make the dressing. You’ll need a small jar. I just reuse an old salad dressing jar. Measure out the white balsamic vinegar.
White balsamic vinegar
Then, pour it into the jar. Measure out the extra virgin olive oil. Oh, do yourself a favor. Find one of these tiny measuring cups. They make measuring multiple table/teaspoons so much easier. They’re easy to find. I found this one at my grocery store.
Pour it into the dressing jar, too. Measure out the agave sweetener.
Pour it into the dressing jar, too. Measure out the salt and pepper. I’m into Pink Himalayan salt right now. Why? It’s pretty to look at. That’s why. It’s supposed to have more minerals and be better for you than regular table salt, but, salt is salt, use it sparingly. Too much salt is a bad thing. I also use a four color peppercorn blend. It’s pretty, too.
pretend this picture is in focus
Add it to the dressing jar. It makes a cool glop in the bottom. Hey, I’m easily amused!
See the salt & pepper glop?
Close it up and shake it up!
Pour the dressing over the tomato & bean mix.
Mix in the dressing
Pour the salad into a pretty serving bowl. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Put into a serving bowl.
This mix travels well, if you have a covered dish dinner to go to. To serve, place a few lettuce leaves on a plate and add about a cup of tomato bean salad mix over it.
We like mushrooms. They have a wonderful, earthy flavor and they give you something that you can bite into. Their versatility is neverending. Just think of how many different dishes you’ve made, that start out with a can of cream of mushroom soup! By they way, you can make your own, much more flavorful, mushroom soup. But, that’s a post for another time. One of my favorite breakfasts is a simple sauteed mushroom and egg white omelette. Yum! These stuffed caps are made with easy to find ingredients and are a snap to make. The ingredient list –
portobello mushroom caps, spinach, onion, roma tomato, goat cheese (for creamy yumminess), panko crumbs, red pepper flakes (for a little kick) and some herbes de provence. I like using herbs de provence. It makes me feel swanky. Next thing you know, I’ll be putting truffle oil on everything. If you don’t have herbes de provence, plain old italian seasoning mix will work just fine. You can still feel swanky, too. First thing to do, is to scrape the gills off the mushrooms. You don’t have to, but you can pile in more stuffing if they’re gone, so get them out of there.
Snap off the stems and scrape out the gills.
Snap the stems off, too. I don’t use them in the stuffing. Save them for making a vegetable stock. After the caps are clean, set them aside.
Now, dice up half an onion. You want about 1/2 a cup.
choppity chop chop
Swirl about a tablespoon of olive oil into a large saute pan. Using a medium low heat, cook the onions til tender, about 2 to 3 minutes.
cooking the onion
Add in the chopped spinach so it can wilt down.
add the spinach to the pan
It will just take a couple of minutes for it to wilt.
Turn the heat off and set the pan to the side. Now, preheat your oven to 375º. Line a baking sheet with foil and set it by the mushroom caps. Time to make the stuffing. Give a roma tomato a rough dice.
diced roma tomato
I used a roma, because they are a meatier, less juicy, tomato. If you have to use a regular tomato, dice it, then, blot excess moisture up with a paper towel. Crumble the goat cheese into a medium sized bowl.
crumble with a fork
Combine with the diced tomato, panko crumbs, red pepper flakes and the herbes de provence. Add salt and pepper.
Add in the spinach onion mixture.
add the spinach onion mix
Mix it well.
Divide the mixture among the portobello caps.
Stuff the caps.
Drizzle the caps with a little olive oil. This adds an extra layer of flavor!
Drizzle caps with olive oil.
Bake for about 30 minutes. I roasted some carrots alongside of the mushrooms and served them both with a nice, creamy risotto. A delicious, easy dinner!
Flavorful portobello caps, stuffed with a savory blend of spinach, tomatoes and goat cheese.
4 portobello caps, stems and gills removed
4 cups raw spinach, coarsely chopped and lightly packed
½ cup diced onion
2 TBL olive oil - divided
1 diced roma tomato
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
½ cup panko crumbs
1 tsp herbes de provence
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375º. Line a baking sheet with foil.
Saute the diced onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes. Add spinach to wilt, another 2 minutes. Place the goat cheese in a medium bowl. To it, add in the diced tomato, panko crumbs, red pepper flakes and herbes de provence. Pour the spinach and onion mix over the tomato cheese mixture and combine. Divide mixture among 4 portobello caps. Drizzle remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
Place caps on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.