Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Caesar Salad and Beyond

Live long and prosper!

Hmmm, that doesn't go together. Well, maybe it does. Eat this fabulous salad and you just might live long and prosper!

So this salad was the bomb. Where the heck did that expression come from anyhow? It sure is a weird way to say this was a delicious, amazing, do over again salad!

I was inspired to create a Caesar Salad dressing after attending the Dinner and Movie Night at the Raw Intentions Kitchen recently. Caesar Salad was on the menu and it was one of my favorite courses of the night. So between having a list of ingredients from the chef (Denise Madeja), and having lots of Raw Food Recipe Books, my Caesar and Beyond salad was born.

Live Raw is one of my favorite books. Mimi Kirk is 70+ years old and is an inspiration. She can put lots of 50 year olds to shame. In her book, Live Raw, low and behold, a Caesar Salad recipe. From croutons to "Parmesan cheese" to the dressing, she had this recipe covered. So, I used this as a base to my salad.
First, Parmesan Cheese. Mimi calls it Cashew Parmesan. It was so easy to make, has a great texture and will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks. It is used in the dressing and then I also used it to sprinkle over the salad after it was plated. It could also be sprinkled in wraps or even on steamed veggies. It has lots of possibilities.

Combine in food processor and pulse.
Cashew Parmesan

Next, lets make croutons.  These are made out of jicama (I love saying this word - pronounced hic-a-ma.). It sounded like this could be a really cool addition to the salad. First you make a marinade. Cut jicama into squares and then marinade them, put them in the dehydrator and croutons would be created. Well, this was not so successful. But just because it does have such good possibilities, I will probably try this again when I can be home with my dehydrator.

Sliced and chopped jicama
Marinade for two hours
Place on dehydrator tray

 And the result was little chewy things that maybe resembled the look of a crouton, but was no way crunchy like a crouton. So I put them all in a zip lock bag and I am eating them as a snack. They were not salad worthy, but could be if they got crunchy! However, they do taste good! So I may try this again.

See how much they shrunk!!!
To have a great Caesar salad you need a great dressing. I was really happy with the dressing. I started out using Mimi's recipe and then tweaked it a bit. This is a dressing I will make again.

This is the bulk of the ingredients for the dressing: cloves, olive oil, tamari, capers, lemon, salt and pepper. In the bowl is some of the cashew Parmesan, and I also added Dijon mustard and Worcester sauce. I blended everything except the Cashew Parmesan, and then added it to the bowl with the Cashew Parmesan and mixed it well with a whisk. I love it! I filled a mason jar and put it in the refrigerator overnight (while the croutons were dehydrating) and all I had to do is shake it up when it was time to dress the salad.

The salad. This had to be a bit more substantial than your traditional Caesar Salad since it was our main dish and not a side salad. Of course, the first ingredient was the romaine lettuce.

I tossed the romaine and onions with the dressing and plated it. Then I took half of the yellow pepper, cucumber, tomatoes and olives and tossed it with a small amount of dressing and placed it on top of the romaine, and then repeated it with the other half. I had mung beans that just finished sprouting so I added a handful of those to each plate. In the refrigerator I had alphalfa sprouts and added a good pinch of those to the middle of the salad. And for good measure, I sprinkled it with Cashew Parmesan. And alas, my Caesar and Beyond Salad was born!

Live long and prosper!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday Therapy

Sunday afternoon I found myself all alone, and in the kitchen, which is one of my favorite places to be. I didn't put on the TV, or music, but instead enjoyed the sound of no sound! Other than when driving, it seems like there is always noise, so this was nice.

I decided to make veggie burgers and bean burgers that could be stored in the freezer. I had read several things on-line that gave me this idea, but I could not find a recipe that moved me. So I just made up my own. That took a little time!

My plug of the day goes to my Nutribullet. I absolutely love this little gem. I bought one for myself, then my Mom, and even one for work. It makes smoothies comparable to my Blendtec! My Mom was amazed at the difference in the smoothness of her smoothies after using a regular blender all this time.

Today I used it to make oat flour.

In a matter of seconds, powdery soft oat flour!! I also have used it to grind flax seed, and that works great too! I think it is just incredible how it works!

So, back to the burgers. This is the veggie burger batter. It is so full of good stuff, and will not be a processed burger . . . alas, the reason for this burger making afternoon!

The batch made 14 veggie burgers! I put them on parchment paper on cookie sheets and froze them. 

Then I packed them after they were frozen in zip lock bags. I read somewhere to use a straw to suck out the air, and then zip the bag shut really fast. It worked pretty good. Like a vacuum sealed bag. Hopefully this will help prevent freezer frost!

Now for the bean burger. I put some of the ingredients for this one in the blender and then added the blended portion to the dry ingredients, corn and beans. It worked out pretty good. I also made flax "eggs" for both of these recipes. Read that on-line somewhere too. It is just ground flax and warm water mixed together, wait 10 minutes, and then you have the consistency of eggs that have been whisked. It even was somewhat slimy like beaten eggs! When I added the flax "eggs," I had a flashback to making meat loaf!

Again, like the veggie burgers, I made the patties on parchment paper and then put them in the freezer. 

The bean burger batter made 12 burgers.

So now my freezer is full of burgers. The test will be how they come out when they are cooked. I plan to bake them in the oven. I like mine just on a dish with a salad and/or vegetables, and my husband will probably have his in a roll. I hope they have a little crisp edge to them from the oven, that they stay together, and of course taste good! If all of those things happen, I will post my recipe for each.

I am also pretty happy with my first batch of corn chips. I did more wrong things when making these chips than I did right, but by some stroke of luck, they are coming out great. Tomorrow they will be ready. Ready to dip in salsa or guacamole or . . . just eat them naked! (The chip would be naked, not me! What were you thinking!!!)

This is how they looked after dropping spoonfuls of batter on the dehydrator tray.

After a series of "slamming" the tray on the counter, they thin out and get "round." They almost look like little pancakes.

The recipe filled my dehydrator. It hummed all through the night. Early in the morning, after the top of the chip had dried, I flipped them over on to the screen.

By noon they were beginning to look like chips. Look how those edges are curling up. They remind me of the chips that come in a tube at the store . . . pringles?

I have my friend Denise, owner of the Raw Intentions Kitchen, and an amazing raw chef, to thank for the chips. I used her recipe to make these, and her how to instructions. However, I must admit, I didn't follow her directions like I was suppose to. But, miracles do happen, and it worked out!

This last week was too busy, too stressful, and too long, so this nice quiet afternoon of playing in the kitchen was just what I needed. I love working in the kitchen. It is very therapeutic for me. Plus it feels good to be organized when it comes to meal planning. The mountain of dishes, utensils, and appliances that have to get washed is the down side of all of this, but a small price to pay for therapy!!

Can you guess what we will be having for dinner tomorrow night???

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My Aunt got her wings today . . .

Aunt Mary and Mom
Today I stopped and thanked God for the gift of my Aunt Mary.  This morning, in the early hours, my aunt got her wings and peacefully left this life. A piece of you will always be in my heart Aunt Mary. From when I was a little girl and stayed with you in upper state New York - where I caught my first fireflies - to our rendezvous in Maine - to your visits in Oklahoma - they were always such special times. 

Aunt Mary was my favorite aunt, well, actually one of my most favorite people. She was my godmother too and I was always so proud of that. She had such strong faith, and a calm and gentle way that surrounded her and drew in others. I loved that about her. And she was just plain cool too! I loved that she did email and internet, traveled, fixed things, listened, and saw the best in people. Everyone should have an aunt like her!

God puts people in and out of our lives. Some just come and go and we don't even notice, and others, well, some of them are the ones we stop and thank God that He chose to touch our lives by gifting us with that person.  I think a little piece of those people becomes the fiber of who we are. I know that my aunt is part of the fiber of my life.

I bet there were lots of happy souls to greet you at those gates today. See you when I get there! I love you.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, 
and let perpetual light shine upon her. 
May the souls of the faithful departed, 
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Monday, August 6, 2012

I LOVE chips!

I have finally perfected sweet potato chips! Well, at least I just had a very successful batch! The main problem with these chips is they don't last long! And it is not due to their shelf life, but because we eat them so fast! I love sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are power-packed with all kinds of wonderful nutrients!


Sweet potato chips are really easy to make, once you get the mistakes out of the way. I have made these a number of times and have learned something each time. I think the biggest lesson I learned is to make sure to cut them almost paper thin. I was slicing them too thick, and marinating them too long. They just never got crispy no matter how long I dehydrated them.

So this is what I now do. Peel the sweet potato. Using a mandolin, make thin slices of the sweet potato. As thin as you can. 

Next decide what you want to put on the sweet potato. I use Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar as a base and then add a seasoning. (Thank you Raw Intentions for this tip!) I have added Himalayan salt and cayenne pepper, or cinnamon.  Put the vinegar in a zip lock bag and then add whatever seasoning you want. 

Add the sweet potatoes and shake them in the bag enough to just coat the potatoes. This is a quick in and out of the bag affair. Previously I was doing this stage in a bowl and letting the potatoes sit in the liquid for 30 minutes or so, and it just made them too wet and the dehydrating process took way too long and was not successful.

As soon as the potatoes are coated, begin placing them on the dehydrator screen. Put them as close to each other as you can to fit as many as possible on a tray. They will shrink 50% or more in size during the drying process.

I was dehydrating the potatoes at 105 degrees. This last batch - the first successful one - I dehydrated the potatoes at 115 degrees. I don't know if that was the key to success, or the fact that I sliced them thinner, or that I didn't soak them, or if it was a combination of all those things? Speaking of dehydrators, I use a 5 draw Excalibur. I love it! My next one will be a nine draw Excalibur!

The drying time will definitely vary. This batch took less than 24 hours to get to a nice crispy state.  I start checking them after 12 hours or so. I can always tell how many times I check them because half a tray might be gone before they are even ready!! 

Once they are ready, put them in a plastic container. I am not really sure what their shelf life would be because we have never had any left after a day or two!

So, if sweet potatoes work this well, I wonder if I can be as lucky with zucchini? As I write this, my zucchini experiment is in the dehydrator. I used my new favorite, golden zucchini from the Farmer's Market to make these chips. I did it the exact same way as the sweet potato method. I sliced the zucchini on my mandolin as thin as possible.

I used Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar in a plastic Zip Lock bag with Himalayan Salt, Oregano and Basil. 

I'll let you know how these turn out!!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Energy Bars . . . or are they?

I make my own energy bar. I haven't found one to buy that I like, and at least by making them myself, I am sure of what is in them! My bars are filled with great superfoods, tastes great and are so easy to make.

This is how easy it is to make them.

Here are the ingredients:
Coconut, goji berries, hemp seeds, cacao, chia seeds, maca, walnuts, and dates

Add the dates to a food processor

and pulse until there are large chunks.

Add the remaining ingredients

and pulse it until it sticks together when pinched.

Dump mixture onto parchment or wax paper and make a ball, then flatten the ball.

Place another piece of parchment or wax paper on top, and using a glass or rolling pin, flatten it to your desired thickness. Mine are about a half inch thick.

Using a large knife, square off the edges

and then cut into bars.

I like to top the bars off with coconut, nuts or hemp seeds.

Now just separate each bar

and wrap them individually. Store them in the freezer

and a quick energy bar, or treat, is ready when you are!

These bars are full of amazing ingredients. Superfoods. 

Check out the phenomenal properties of each one. 

There were lots of links to pick from when looking for the benefits and nutritional value of these foods. Do your own research. You might be surprised.

Yes, they are full of energizing nutrients, but they do taste so good! So that brings me back to the original question . . . 

                                  are they an energy bar, or a treat? What do you think?
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