Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

When you vacation at over 7,000′ in the Big Horn Mountains, you don’t go out to dinner much.  The road to town isn’t paved with good intentions or anything else and the sign at the bottom recommends four-wheel drive vehicles only.  Our trusty Sienna takes us up and down easily, but if we hit 15 mph going up, we’re pushing it!  The Red Grade Road is steep and rocky and needs to be treated with respect.  This year it’s fairly “smooth” as things go, as the logging trucks have been using it.  When you go down, either shift into four-wheel drive if you have it or use your lowest gear and don’t ride your brakes.  Don’t want to burn them out!  Once you get off the mountain, you’re back on paved roads and you feel as though you’re going 100 when you’re only going 35.

Meals take planning as you can’t run to the store if you forget or run out of something. (See previous paragraph.)  I plan carefully, although this  year I forgot my chunk of Parmesan and had to change some meal plans around until after our day in town.

One of our go-to meals has always been pastitso, a hearty combination of pasta, meat and Mornay sauce.  If you’re vegetarian, you could probably put veggies where the meat layer goes;  if vegan, faux meat or some sort of beans/lentils might work as well.  I’ve made this with almond milk, too.  It’s good for a large group, leftovers are great and you can make it in advance if you like.

Bon appétit or, as the Greeks would say, “Kali orexi!”

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                                                            Pastitso

1 lb. ground beef
1 chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced

1 1/2 t. salt
2 dashes cinnamon
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce, preferably no-salt-added

3 T. butter
1/4 c. flour
2 c. milk
dash of white pepper
dash of ntmet
1/3 c. Parmessan

16-oz. small elbow macaroni
2 eggs
shredded cheese, enough to cover the top of the casserole

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute onion and garlic until soft.  Crumble in the meat and stir until mostly cooked but still a bit pink.  You may want to turn in a sieve and drain off some of the fat.  Stir in 1 t. salt, the cinnamon and tomato sauce.  Set aside.

in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 2 T. of butter, the whisk in flour.  Add milk and whisk until thickened.  (I often pre-heat the milk in the microwave.)  Add 1/2 t. salt, pepper, nutmeg, and Parmesan.  Set over very low heat to mellow.

Cook macaroni until al dente.  Drain well and return to pot. Break eggs into the macaroni and add 1 T. butter.  Mix well.

Oil or spray with Pam a shallow 2 1/2 qt. baking dish and put one thin layer of pasta on the bottom.  Cover with all the meat, then cover with the rest of the pasta.  Pour the sauce over the pasta, taking care to cover it all and stir a bit to distribute.  Cover with chees and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Bake uncovered at 375 F for 1 hour.  You may need to cover the cheese with tented foil near the end so it doesn’t get too risp.  You can also refrigerate the casserole and then bake 25-30 min. longer.

(The original recipe put half the pasta on the bottom, but we like the pasta with the sauce, so I’ve adapted it in this way.)

Quick breads are called “quick” for a reason.  This one not only goes together quickly but tastes great and makes either 2 loaves or 24 muffins, which can also be frozen.  The recipe came to me from a friend in Wyoming.  Here’s the original recipe with my changes included.

Zucchini-Date Muffins/Bread

3 eggs                                                                                                     1 can (8 1/2 oz.) drained, crushed pineapple
1 c. oil  (I use all applesauce.)                                                           3 c. flour (I often use 1 c. whole wheat.)
2 c. sugar  (I use 1 1/2 c.)                                                                   2 t. baking soda
2 t. vanilla                                                                                             1/4 t. nutmeg
1 1/2 t. cinnamon                                                                                1/4 t. baking powder
1 t. salt                                                                                                   1 c. each chopped nuts and dates  (I usually use walnuts.)
2 c. shredded zucchini

Beat eggs, oi/applesauce, sugar and vanilla together.  Stir in remaining ingredients and mix well.  Put into 2 sprayed 9 x 5″ loaf pans or 24 sprayed muffin tins.

Bake at 350 1 hour for bread or 20 min. or so for muffins.  They’re done when a toothpick comes out clean.  You may want to run a knife around the edges to loosen them.  Cool on wire racks.

Makes 2 9×5″ loaf pans or 24 muffins.

When I made this last batch, I forgot to add the zucchini.  Duh!  The muffins still taste good, though.  But just imagine them with flecks of green from the zucchini. 

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For many people, making pasta, especially ravioli, seems like something you can only do if you’re Italian.  Not true!  I took take a couple cooking classes to learn how to make ravioli, but you only need to read this post.  Once my family discovered I could make ravioli, our Thanksgiving dinner entree was set.

There are a variety of tasty fillings, but today I filled my Thanksgiving ravioli with an artichoke filling. When I use two fillings, I also make spinach ravioli in addition to the plain ones.  That way people can tell which ravioli has which filling.

One great thing is that you can make ravioli and freeze them.  And just today, I finally figured out the best way to freeze them without trying to dry them first.   So put on your apron.  Here we go.  (There’s still plenty time to make them for Thanksgiving or plan ahead for Christmas.)

Pasta

2 ¼ c. flour
3 large eggs
1 t. salt

Mound flour on clean countertop or table.  Make a well and add salt.  Carefully break in eggs.  Gently mix salt and eggs together with a fork.  Slowly incorporate in the flour until you get a paste.  Use your fingers to continue incorporating flour until the dough has absorbed as much as it can without becoming stiff and dry.  Keep getting rid of hard, crusty bits from hands/table/flour.  Knead dough for about 10 minutes until it’s smooth and elastic, adding in more flour if it becomes sticky.  Dough should spring back when poked gently with a finger. Let rest for 20 minutes, covered with a slightly damp dishtowel.

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My uncle Jerry, AKA Gerald F. Brommer,  is a well-known watercolor artist whose sense of artistry also shines in his granola recipe which I’ve been enjoying for years.  It’s simple and delicious and I know he wouldn’t mind if I passed it on to you, too.  It also makes great Christmas gifts.   I have friends and family members who hope each year to find a gift bag of it in their basket or stocking.

Enjoy!!

Jerry’s Granola

7 c. whole oats
1 generous c. each sunflower seeds, cashews, chopped almonds, chopped pecans
1 c. honey
1 stick butter  (1/2 c.)

Bring honey and butter to a boil.  Combine everything else in a large bowl.  Pour honey & butter over the rest and mix well.  Divide into 2 11 X 16 pans.  Bake at 325 until nicely browned.  Watch and stir every 10 minutes or so.  If you want to add raisins or other fruit, add only for a few minutes in the oven or after you take the granola out.

Notes:

  • I often use 8 or 9 cups of oats.
  • The recipe can be made vegan by using Earth Balance or a similar vegan butter but with no loss of taste.  If you’re a vegan who doesn’t eat honey, you’ll have to figure it out yourself.  🙂

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You say it’s your birthday
Well it’s my birthday too–yeah
You say it’s your birthday
We’re gonna have a good time
I’m glad it’s your birthday
Happy birthday to you.
–The Beatles

Friday was Bill’s birthday (and mine is coming up mid-month, making the song almost true), so we took time out of the day to have lunch together at Naf Naf, http://www.nafnafgrill.com/, a Mediterranean restaurant with the perfect mix of delicious food and fast service. Even with many people getting take-out, it can be difficult to find a table, but we managed. (more…)

The only thing better than a great candy recipe is a great candy recipe with only three ingredients, filled with things that are good for you and that is completely simple.  So, without further ado, I present to you…Sea-Salted Smoky Almond Chocolate Bark, the new star in your homemade candy firmament.  It has a place every year, along with my Peanut Butter Fudge and biscotti, on the plates I take to the librarians and people who work at other places I frequent, and is always a big hit.  Put that star power to work for you this year and just smile deprecatingly when people rave about how good it is.  (I gave out recipes to two of the painters just today.)  🙂 (more…)

When is a recipe not a recipe?  When two factors are present–it’s so simple that I can remember it and it can be adapted to whatever you like, whatever is seasonl, and whatever you have around the house.  Having said that, here’s a tasty, nutritious non-recipe from Jae Steele, author of Get It Ripe and Ripe From Around Here–Pesto Bean Bowl. (more…)