Monday, October 5, 2009

How to Tame the Hubbard Beast (Squash)

This one is relatively small, compared to the average size for a hubbard squash. I placed it in the sink, washed it off and decided to tackle its demise in the sink, because it seemed more stable in the sink than on the counter.

I used my sturdiest knife and was able to pierce the surface with relative ease, but I could not continue sawing with only the strength of my arms. So I got my household hammer and hammered near the handle on the dull side of the knife blade. I left most of the blade plunged inside the squash, and hammered it all the way around the squash.

It was a very tough job, but I got it open, however roughly. I used this dipper to scoop the seeds out.

You can throw the guts away, or you can clean the seeds, wash them and then dry them with a paper towel.
Toss them in olive oil, sprinkle them with some sea salt and toast them at 350 degrees farenheit until golden brown and crunchy. They are great for snacking.

This is what the tamed beast (cleaned squash) looks like.

Wrap them each in two or three layers of foil, you may like to place them on baking dishes or pans to catch potential drips. Bake them at 350 degrees farenheit until soft. I baked mine about 2 hours.

Then I scooped the pulp out and mashed it some more. I measured it into freezer bags, 2 cups per bag and froze it until I want to use it. It is excellent as a soup base, to thicken and flavor the broth. I also use it in muffins, waffles, cheeseless macaroni and cheese, pumpkin custard. It gets very creamy if you puree it in the food processor. I have even been known to eat pureed winter squash with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray and maple syrup or brown sugar.

Apple Cider Waffles

Dry ingredients:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon, or to your taste

Measure all dry ingredients, except cornstarch, into the bowl.
Fluff them by whisking them all together.

1 cup Blue Diamond Original Almond milk
1 cup apple cider or apple juice
1 pre-measured serving cup of applesauce, or 1/2 cup of apple sauce from a larger container

Dissolve the cornstarch in the almond milk before adding it to the dry ingredients. Add the cider and the apple sauce.
Just blend it all with a wooden spoon.
Be careful not to over-mix the batter.
Cook them according to the cooking instructions from your waffle maker's manufacterer.

Serve it with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray and pure maple syrup, or caramel sauce would even be nice, since it is an apple flavored waffle. A cup of black coffee is a fabulous companion to wash the sweetness down.
Note: applesauce replaces oil, and cornstarch replaces eggs in any recipe.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoon baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups Sugar in the Raw
1 cup crushed pecans (optional)
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup Blue Diamond original almond milk
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 can pureed pumpkin (15 oz.)

I crush my nuts in this cute pestle and mortar I got at an Arabic store and I grate my nutmeg with this little rasp I got at the Dollar Tree. I never pay top dollar for kitchen items, because when they break I just toss it out and buy another. Most of the things I get from the Dollar Tree last as long as things I buy elsewhere, for more bucks. What's the point in spending more? I ask you.

1. Use a wire whisk to fluff the dry ingredients until well blended, in a large bowl.
2. Add pecans now, if they are desired.
3. Pour the almond milk into a separate bowl and add the cornstarch and vinegar
4. Add the pumpkin and whisk it gently into the milk mixture.

5. Now gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with your wooden spoon.
6. Let the batter rest on the counter, while you preheat the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

7. Spray the inside of your muffin tin with alcohol free cooking spray and divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups.

8. Bake them until a tooth pick comes out clean, about 20 or 25 minutes.

9. Can you tell what I am thinking? Mmmmmmm, that healthy, light, fat-free, yet tall, sweet, yummy, and fluffy muffin with some plain black coffee is perfect for a light autumn lunch.
Added bonus, muffins are always a winner with my husband and kids, and they do not know they are eating healthy. Mama truely knows best. Heehee.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Spicy Chicken Wings

1 package halal chicken wings, about 2 pounds or 25 to 30 wings. If they are frozen, thaw them in cold tap water. Cut them in sections, using a sharp knife, seperate the wings at each joint. Discard the gristly tips.
Broil one side at about 450 degrees farenheit until they are golden brown, then turn them over and brown the other side.

For the sauce, combine:
1 cup vegetable juice like V-8,
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce,
2 teaspoons vinegar,
1/4 cup hot sauce,
1 Tablespoon prepared horse radish (if you like it, it is delicious without this too)
Stir it all together and simmer it until it gets just a little bit thicker. It should coat the back of your spoon, when you dip your spoon in it and pull it out again.

Now add your broiled wing sections and simmer it a little longer, maybe 10 minutes. A wooden spoon is sufficient to turn the wings over just until they are well coated with the sauce.

Finally they are done, spicy and succulent.

Serving suggestion. Shown with Roasted 'Tatoes and Vegan Homemade Biscuits.
This is too spicy for toddlers, and the bones are also a bad idea for toddler fingers. However, my husband is a happy man when he sees this on his plate.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Vegan Homemade Buscuits

1 1/2 cups very cold Blue Diamond almond milk
2 tsp vinegar
Put the vinegar and cold almond milk together in a bowl and set it aside, in the fridge even.

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups Stone Ground whole-wheat flour
5 Tablespoons vegetable shortening or cold organic, unrefined coconut oil

4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Put all dry ingredients into a bowl. Whisk them together with a wire whisk. Now use a fork to mash in the shortening you choose to use. It should be something that is hard already, and if it isn't, refridgerate it until it is hard enough to cut into the flour with a fork. Runny shortening or oils will make your biscuits hard and dense instead of fluffy and flaky, so I would advise against using them. The mixture should appear coarse and lumpy.

Now add the cold, thickened almond milk. Use your fork and just combine the dough. It should still be very lumpy.

Press the dough into a rough ball, don't smash it together too much. If it looks smooth, you have over-mixed it, and your biscuits will not come out light and flaky. Cover it with plastic and put it in the fridge until you are ready to bake them. You can even leave them in the fridge over night.

When ready to bake your biscuits, preheat your oven at 400 degrees fahrenheit. Sprinkle flour on a smooth surface, and on top of the dough. Now you are ready to roll. The flatter you roll them, the thinner they will be. I roll ours fairly flat because we prefer less fluff in the middle, and more crispy outside.

You may use a biscuit cutter, if you have one. If not, no worries, a drinking glass will do the job just as well.

Place your biscuits on and ungreased baking sheet. Bake them at 400 degrees until golden brown. That will take about ten to fifteen minutes, depending on your oven.

Golden brown and warm, ready to be devoured.

Serving suggestion. Shown with Roasted 'Tatoes and Spicy Chicken Wings.
The babies love these biscuits.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Red Chicken Stew

The veggies and spices for this dish.
1 large onion, diced
4 large garlic cloves, smashed
3 large sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup raisins (I'm using craisins because I ran out of raisins)
1 dry lime/lemon, pierced, or 1 tsp. ground dry lime/lemon;
you could also use 3 bay leaves if you can't find the dry limes/lemons, lemon grass would work too, whichever you choose, remember to take it out before serving the stew.
1 Tablespoon Curry powder
salt to taste.

1 whole chicken, thawed in cold water.

Cut into eight pieces.

Cover the chicken in water. Boil for about ten minutes. Drain the chicken, carefully, because the water is boiling hot. Wash the pot with soap and water, to get rid of the nasty gray scum on the insides of the pot. It would not be appetizing to have that scum floating in your stew.

Lay the partially cooked chicken on a plate until you've washed the pot.

Put a little oil, about 1/4 cup, in the bottom of the clean pot. Brown the partially cooked chicken with the diced onion. Throw in the smashed garlic cloves when the chicken is browned to your liking, just to release the aroma of the garlic. Then just cover the chicken with water.

Add about 2 cups of V-8 juice, 1 Tablespoon of curry powder and salt to taste.

Add your 1/2 cup of raisins, your chunks of peeled sweet potatoes and your pierced dry lime. Cover your pot and simmer it over medium heat until the sweet potatoes are soft. At least a half hour or a little longer.

Smash the sweet potatoes into the broth with the back of your spoon and simmer about 10 minutes longer. To serve, ladel the stew over the rice in the previous recipe.
*This meal is a fairly typical combination of sweet and savory flavors found in standard Iraqi cuisine.

Basic Iraqi Biryani

Excuse the pics, I used my phone camera for these.

This is the rice and the spice for the most basic version of Iraqi Biryani.

2 cups uncooked basmati rice. Rinse it well, with warm water, to get rid of the excess starch/dust, and drain it.

A strainer such as this one is useful for draining the water out of the rice.

1/2 cup short vermicelli (orzo works great tooBold).
1/3 cup olive oil
Pour about 1/3 cup olive oil or cooking oil in the bottom of the pot, toast the pasta until golden brown and a nutty aroma escapes it. Immediately pour in the rice and stir it together really well to prevent the pasta from getting too dark.

2 Tablespoons of Arabic seven spice (If you can't find Arabic seven spice, use 1 tsp. each of ground cinnamon, cardamom, black or white pepper, nutmeg, coriandar, and dry mustard)
salt to taste
4 cups water (for softer rice, use up to 6 cups water)
Add the spices and the water to the rice and stir everything together very well.

Heat everything just to a strong boil.

Now cover it and reduce the heat to the lowest level. Leave the rice covered and on a warm burner for at least 25 minutes, then turn it off, remove the lid and fluff it with a fork. Serve with soup that has a lot of broth, and spoon it over the rice to serve it.

*Accompanying Red Chicken Stew recipe coming soon.