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Posts Tagged ‘simple recipes’

For the last few months, I have been Quinoa crazy. Not only is it delicious, but it is high in nutritive value, as well as high in protein. Mix it up with some fresh stir-fried vegetables and a little Aminos for a satisfying and healthy meal. Mix it with fresh apples, raisins and walnuts for the ultimate comfort food breakfast.

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Pears have never been given their due in our culture. Pears are probably one of the most tasty and healthy fruits we can eat. They are incredibly versatile, not too sweet and theirs flavor never overpowers whatever you are serving them mixed into or alongside of…so why does it seem like pears have been greatly overlooked in our kitchens?

(Did you know a single pear gives us the complete amount of fiber we need for an entire day?)

Today I had the chance to make a recipe that was passed on to me by a friend. It was originally posted in Smitten Kitchen’s blog with photographs that made my mouth water. If you have a moment to browse this blog, it is likely you will find at least a few recipes that you will need to try in the near future. Wow.

There is really very little to do to make this dish. And, if you serve it to dinner guests, it is likely you will be thought to have the culinary skills of a great chef, instead of just someone who tweaks a simple recipe to suit her needs at the time.

I started with 5 bartlett pears. Any kind of pear would probably do very well. Smitten used Bosc and said they came out splendidly. Maybe next time I’ll try a foreign variety that is in season.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Peel and core the pears. Leaving the stems attached looks pretty, so I left them on if I had the chance.

Place the pears seed-side up in a shallow baking pan. I used glass, but ceramic coated or metal cookware would do just fine.  Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over them.

Smitten calls for a whole vanilla bean (split open, scrape seeds into 1/2 cup sugar), which I didn’t have, so, I opted to split the sugar into two equal portions and add vanilla extract in between sprinkles. Sprinkle 1/8 cup sugar over the pears, sprinkle pure vanilla extract in tiny drops over them, followed by the other 1/8 cup of sugar.

Using a cold stick of butter, cut two slices about 1/4 inch thick, divided into 5 thin slivers. Place a sliver into each pear’s belly.

I added a few sprinkles of brown sugar and added the lemon to the pan before cooking.

Add a couple of teaspoons of water to the base of the pan before placing in the oven.

Baste the pears with the caramel sauce once or twice while they bake for half an hour.

Then, turn the pears over, baste them again and slide them back into the over for an additional 25 minutes.

Finally, take them from the over and allow them to sit for about 5 minutes. The sauce, which has begun to caramelize, will thicken even more once it begins to cool.

Serve your pears with french vanilla ice cream. Drizzle a bit of the sauce over both the ice cream and the pear. The pear is so tender and will literally melt in your mouth.

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Mushroom Quiche

Copy of karen's_1st_quiche2Despite the rumours, quiche isn’t just for girls! It’s loaded with flavor, lots of protein and can have a variety of vegetables tossed in, depending on what you like. I like them all, so I’m easy to please.

On the other hand, keep in mind that quiche has a bit of cholesterol and (depending on the type and amount of cheese) can be rather fatty — so, to be kind to your heart — try flavoring with vegetables and herbs in place of some of the cheese, AND try trading half the eggyolks out for eggwhites. Simple exchanges like this will bring out all the flavors we want in our food, while still being mindful of our bodies.

Crimini (krəˈmini) mushrooms are in season and I’ve been dying to use them in something wonderful. They are loaded with selenium,  B2, copper and B3. Their flavor is very unique (woodsey? nutty?) and they possess a hearty solid texture. Crimini look a lot like the button mushroom, but they are the color of coffee.

I had made quiche before using a pre-made mixture from Publix, which surprisingly didn’t disappoint but I knew that homemade woud definitely be so much better. So, today, I made my first homemade mushroom quiche and am astounded at how simple it was.

The recipe called for Gruyere cheese, which I didn’t have on hand, so I substited a combination of Havarti and Baby Swiss. This splendid combination mixed perfectly with the Crimini mushrooms to produce a mouthful of flavor in every bite. My big cheat was the store-bought pie crust which I baked prior to filling. Not only is this a time-saver, the crust is actually quite tasty and flaky.

My recipe is here.

Served up with fresh fruit or steamed vegetables (I used strawberries and peaches, also in-season right now), quiche is a meal you can eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner. And, I guarantee that the women AND men will be coming back for more of this delicious, filling and satisfying dish.

Serve warm or room temperature with fresh fruit

Serve warm or room temperature with fresh fruit

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Copy of IMG_0076One of my favorite people in the world is Elsa. She’s funny, she’s loving, she’s smart, she’s one of the few people able to think clearly and, last but not least, she makes the best roasted red peppers that I’ve ever eaten!

I haven’t seen Elsa in over three years, which means I haven’t had any of her peppers for at least that long. Finally, I decided to try my hand at making a few of my own. They came out pretty good but I’m still going to have to get Elsa to tell me the combination of oil and herbs she keeps them in when she’s finished.

The meat of the red pepper is quite fleshy and the flavor is smoky and savory. I chose to roast them in the “quick” fashion — which means I used the broiler to char the skins. Simply wash the peppers, dry them thoroughly and place them directly on the oven rack about 6 inches beneath the broiler set on high. (To make this a no-clean-up recipe, place a sheet of foil at the bottom of  the oven for any juices that  drip down. ) The idea is to turn them around to each side and allow them to become black and charred. This roasts the meat beneath the skin and allows the skin to slid right off once they are cooled.  I had tongs at the ready, but found it worked better simply to don a kitchen mitt and turn them by hand. Total broiling time was about 15 minutes, at which time they come out of the oven and are placed in a brown paper bag. I’m unsure why the paper bag is necessary, but every recipe I found called for it, so I used it as directed and folded the top down to just above the peppers. After about 10 minutes they have cooled enough to remove them from the bag, slip the skins off to reveal the rich savory flesh, and finally to pull out the stems with seeds attached.  At this point, simply slice them however you wish, place them in a mixture of olive oil and whatever herbs and spices you like and place them in the refrigerator. They will keep for up to 3 weeks and can be used in sauces, on sandwiches, as an appetizer or as a side dish. Today I’ll be using them in a hummus and later, perhaps, in a soup base.

My peppers aren’t as good as Elsa’s, at least not yet, but I’ll try to get her to share her secrets with me and try roasting a few more while they are still in season. They certainly are delicious.

Charred from the oven

Charred from the oven

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