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What’s Cooking

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  • vegan lasagna

    Posted on Wednesday, January 28, 2009

    Happy Wednesday everyone!  I promised to show you how I put together a dairy free lasagna.  It's not really all that difficult. Really, what it takes is a little savvy in shopping more than anything else.  

    I start by using the very typical 9×13 Pyrex pan.  I spray it with pam.  As with most pasta casseroles, this is also better the day after you first bake it.  Now I am a veggie nut (as you've probably noticed), so I enjoy using various types of added layers of whatever looks nice in the produce section.  Sometimes this is thin layers of zucchini or yellow squash, sometimes I love to use portabellas, grilled radicchio or bok choy, just to name a few!

    I use 2 jars of pasta sauce for this and a 12-16 oz box of regular lasagna noodles.   Being a "less is more" cook, I do not pre-cook them.  I like to use a bit of extra water that I've essentially rinsed out the jars with and I pour that into the lasagna before baking.

    Now, get out your favorite recipe and make these exchanges:

    Switch out the ricotta for either soft of medium tofu.  Drain the tofu for about a half hour in a fine mesh sieve.  I use the same one I sift my flour in.  Mix in the eggs, salt, pepper and mash.  Put aside

    If you like using hamburger (turkey, chicken or beef.  Even ground pork or sausage is good.  I've even mixed turkey and sausage), sauté it with a small onion and garlic and salt/pepper.  Drain off fat.  Put aside

    Switch out the mozzarella for the same exact measurements using either a tofu or rice based cheese.  Sometimes you get lucky and are still able to find this already shredded!  Many supermarkets keep these products in their vegetarian sections and have many different flavors to try.  Many melt better than others, so if your first choice isn't to your liking, try another.

    Start by putting ½-3/4 C of the sauce on the bottom of the pan.  I usually use 3 dry noodles on the bottom of pan.  Start layering:  meat, tofu mix, any veggies, sauce, and cheese substitute.  Use 1/3 of each ending with the sauce.  Using about one cup of water-shake around empty jars of sauce and pour into the pan, just until it appears full.  Cover with foil and bake for 45-to an hour.  Uncover and bake another 15 minutes.  Let rest before cutting for 15 minutes.

    This might sound a bit confusing-so don't be afraid to e-mail me with any questions!


    4 Replies
  • Challenges with Cooking

    Posted on Monday, January 26, 2009

    What are your challenges with cooking? Is it ideas on what to serve? Dietary problems or allergies? Our dear Yana cannot have gluten. She tries to stay away from most meats. At our "Girls Get-together" she regaled a story about having bought 20 pounds of lentils and not being able to bear to eat them after a while. The said lentils became a beautiful piece of artwork for one of her daughter's boyfriends-a birthday gift.

    I myself cannot eat dairy.  I have a true allergy, not just an intolerance.  I itch, eyes have swollen shut, and lips look as if I have been repeatedly stung by bees.  You get the picture-UGLY AND SICK!  My sister keeps an epi-pen with her in case someone gives her something with walnuts in it.  One of her brothers-in-law does the same due to shell fish.  

    So I'm asking-what are your challenges?  How do you handle them?  I was going home from an errand the other day and on the back of a mini-van was this link: [Link Removed] 

    It said they had cupcakes that were:  dairy free, nut free, gluten free and a couple of other "free" things.  Being interested, I went on the site.  As I suspected, the CEO was a mom of a child who had several life threatening food allergies.  She decided her child and others like her child (adults included) deserved to be able to have a cupcake that looked like every other cupcake, tasted good and be "safe".  She only had 2 flavors-but hey, I'm sure it isn't easy to formulate any recipe with so many requirements.

    There are probably many other sites that also have arisen with the same basic needs and people in mind.  Vegan sites may be fine for some of these allergies, but not all.  

    What I would love to do is address some of these issues.   And not just for desserts!  I know when I go into any restaurant (with the exception of the already mentioned vegan-orientated venues); I start with letting everyone else order first.  Then I do the obvious-I inform my server of my allergies and ask for my "safe options".  Sometimes I'm lucky-there are easy choices on the menu or I just have to ask them to leave off any items that I can't eat.

    If you have ways to work around your personal food issues, let's share them!  Let me know if you've found a good website that will ship a tasty product that you can't find in local stores.  If you've discovered switch outs on ingredients that don't affect the outcome of something that you like to eat-share with all of us!

    On Wednesday, my way of eating lasagna!


    Whatscooking, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.


    4 Replies
  • Challenges

    Posted on Monday, January 26, 2009

    What are your challenges with cooking?  Is it ideas on what to serve?  Dietary problems or allergies?  Our dear Yana cannot have gluten.  She tries to stay away from most meats.  At our "Girls Get-together" she regaled a story about having bought 20 pounds of lentils and not being able to bear to eat them after a while.  The said lentils became a beautiful piece of artwork for one of her daughter's boyfriends-a birthday gift.

    I myself cannot eat dairy.  I have a true allergy, not just an intolerance.  I itch, eyes have swollen shut, and lips look as if I have been repeatedly stung by bees.  You get the picture-UGLY AND SICK!  My sister keeps an epi-pen with her in case someone gives her something with walnuts in it.  One of her brothers-in-law does the same due to shell fish.  

    So I'm asking-what are your challenges?  How do you handle them?  I was going home from an errand the other day and on the back of a mini-van was this link: www.greencupcakes.com.
    It said they had cupcakes that were:  dairy free, nut free, gluten free and a couple of other "free" things.  Being interested, I went on the site.  As I suspected, the CEO was a mom of a child who had several life threatening food allergies.  She decided her child and others like her child (adults included) deserved to be able to have a cupcake that looked like every other cupcake, tasted good and be "safe".  She only had 2 flavors-but hey, I'm sure it isn't easy to formulate any recipe with so many requirements.

    There are probably many other sites that also have arisen with the same basic needs and people in mind.  Vegan sites may be fine for some of these allergies, but not all.  

    What I would love to do is address some of these issues.   And not just for desserts!  I know when I go into any restaurant (with the exception of the already mentioned vegan-orientated venues); I start with letting everyone else order first.  Then I do the obvious-I inform my server of my allergies and ask for my "safe options".  Sometimes I'm lucky-there are easy choices on the menu or I just have to ask them to leave off any items that I can't eat.

    If you have ways to work around your personal food issues, let's share them!  Let me know if you've found a good website that will ship a tasty product that you can't find in local stores.  If you've discovered switch outs on ingredients that don't affect the outcome of something that you like to eat-share with all of us!

    On Wednesday, my way of eating lasagna!


    4 Replies
  • More Salads

    Posted on Wednesday, January 21, 2009

    I absolutely love raw spinach.  When I went TO a day job-I would pack this following salad up almost everyday of the week for lunch!  Sometimes I would add a bit of leftover chicken or salmon, but usually this was it  (it was also a contest winning, published recipe in Taste of Home's Simple and Delicious magazine and cookbook last year):

    Raspberry Greek Salad
    Ingredients-amounts vary depending on how many people and if you are serving it as a side or a meal!

    Baby spinach, thoroughly washed and dried
    Sliced mushrooms
    Peeled, seeded and sliced cucumbers
    Cherry tomatoes or sliced roma tomatoes
    Dried cranberries (I figure about 1 tbsp a person Is really plenty)
    ¼ C sheep's or goat's milk feta, per person, crumbled.
    Options: grilled chicken or salmon, either chunked or shredded, toasted walnuts or pecans
    Non-fat or low-fat raspberry vinaigrette (I like the non-fat Raspberry-pecan from Ken's)

    Toss all but the dressing together.  Before serving add dressing and toss to coat.  Serve with warmed fresh pita bread.

    Enjoy!  There, now doesn't this help make up for last week's cookies?


    11 Replies
  • Remorse

    Posted on Sunday, January 18, 2009

    After last week's foray into cookies-I thought I'd now talk about something lighter:  salads

    I love salads.  They are easy to throw together, easy to adapt to your own particular diet and likes and, if you use low/non fat ingredients, they are extremely figure friendly.  

    Remember the days of salad bars?  I sure do.  My friends and I would head for one at the Sizzler or Marie Callendar's close to our Cal State Fullerton campus after our dance classes.  In those days, we were able-bodied women who spent most of our college careers running in high heels, leotards and wraparound skirts from one academic class to a dance class and back.  So if we went to the said salad bars and piled on the pasta or potato salad and the marinated 3 bean salad and used the croutons and bacon bits-we still claimed it low cal and ate it all with gusto!  

    WE WERE FOOLS!  Not only was this conglomeration high in fat and calories, we were all lucky we didn't give ourselves high cholesterol and heart conditions.  Okay-I don't have those things, despite family history, yet.  I haven't actually gotten an answer out of my two classmates.  One is still teaching dance.  The other has health issues, but not these.  I myself, have chronic problems, just none of them having to do with food or food related illnesses.  

    Let's talk about what not to do when deciding to eat a salad.
    If you want to truly eat healthy consider these hints (I'm sure most of you know them, but reviewing is not necessarily a bad thing):

    DO NOT:
    Add mayonnaise based salads (i.e. pasta, potato, cole slaw).  Obviously, unless you have personally made them and used non-fat mayo-you are adding a whole lot of fat and calories to your plate.

    Add marinated salads.  Again, like the mayo-these might look light and healthy, but half (or more) of all marinades are fat.  Even if you have a slotted spoon, the oil does get into the rest of the food.

    Add croutons, bacon bits, fried noodles or if they are offered-fried tortilla shell.  These might taste fabulous, but ladies, they are not healthy; they're loaded with fat and literally hundreds of calories.

    WHAT TO ENJOY:

    Besides all the USUAL fresh veggies-try to add something you have never tried before!  For the crunch you usually get from the fried goodies, try jicama.  It is a South American root vegetable.  Tasting like a cross between an apple and a potato, it's both sweet and crunchy.  I love to carve this one up and dip it into hummus!  Tastes better than celery.  Try different color peppers.  Yes they all taste the same,  

    Think about adding some fruit.  Dried cranberries, raisins or other dried fruits.   Watch it though, a few go a long way and like most dried fruit that calorie content goes up pretty darn fast!
    Strawberries, pears, apples or mandarin oranges are always great!  Adding some halved grapes to your chicken salads (sans the mayo) is really a nice change of pace.  

    Try some different greens-used to only iceberg?  Go for spinach, wild field greens, romaine or butter.  Try a cabbage salad with a vinegar based dressing.  My family's favorite slaw is one made with rice wine vinegar and soy sauce with a little vegetable oil and a couple of teaspoons of sesame oil.

    Wednesday, my favorite spinach salad!


    1 Replies
  • Cookie Monster #2

    Posted on Sunday, January 11, 2009

    As promised, today is a totally different form  of Cbocolate chip peanut butter oatmeal cookie.  This time prep those cookie sheets the same, but lower the oven temp to 350.

    Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

    Ingredients:

    1 C butter flavored shortening
    1 C EACH brown and white sugar
    3/4 C chunky peanut butter
    2 large eggs
    1 tsp vanilla extract (or almond is really good too)
    1 C flour
    1 C whole wheat flour
    2 tsps powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 C cocoa powder
    2 C 60% chocolate chips
    1-1/2 C old fashioned oats
    1 C chopped and toasted nuts of your choice (optional)

    Cream the shortening, sugars and peanut butter.  Add the eggs and extract.  Before adding to creamed mix, combine the flours, salt, powder and cocoa.  Stir in until just blended.  Then stir in the chips, oats and nuts.

    Drop by rounded 2 tbsp portions and leave 3” between cookies.  Flatten to 1/2“.  If you like crisscross patterns, use a floured fork (or cocoa powder).  Bake for about 12-14 minutes and let rest on pans for 5 minutes before cooling on rack.

    Enjoy!


    0 Replies