Saturday, August 30, 2008

Stuffed peppers & guacamole

Sorry it's been so quiet around here! Other things are more important right now. I'm considering just adding this blog to my old one (that I post on more often) and somehow make labels to keep it separate? We'll see. For now though, here's what we ate for dinner the other day ... stuffed peppers and chips with guacamole ... yum!

It all started when I was dicing green peppers from the garden to go in the freezer. I had quite a few and thought, "Hmmm, I think I'll try to make stuffed peppers for dinner." Sounded like a good idea, however I have only made them ONE other time in my life. So, I grabbed a cookbook to give me a general idea. The recipes I found all had meat and other things I was not interested in using. So I did what I do best in the kitchen ... improvised and 'guesstimated'. I had left-over sorghum grain (cooked) and raw cheese in the fridge, fresh tomatoes on the counter, and of course an abundance of seasonings. I steamed the peppers (tops off, guts out) in a little water, covered, for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, I mixed about 2c of sorghum, a few medium chopped tomatoes, a little bit of raw cheese (1/4c shredded?), salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried onion flakes, basil, oregano, and about 8 crushed saltine crackers. Scooped it all into the waiting peppers. Baked at 350 for 30 minutes. That was it.

This did not make enough for us to be full, so we also had guacamole and chips. I know, what an odd combination! It was good though. For guacamole, I just mash up 2 avocados and add the following: 2 romas diced small, juice of half a lemon, 1t salt and ~1t onion flakes. That's it. Simple and tasty.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Our garden is doing fairly well so far. See a few new pictures of it HERE.

Processing tomatoes for the freezer (or canning) is really easy. First, start a large pot of water to boil, and gather up all your ripe tomatoes; wash the dirt off them. Fill your sink with cold water. Blanch the tomatoes in the boiling water for about a minute (some tomatoes may take longer, you'll get the hang of it through trial and error). To get mine into the water, I lower them down [carefully] in a small colander:
Scoop the tomatoes out of the water and plunge into the waiting cold water. If your kitchen is like mine, the stove is opposite the sink! I hold the colander in one hand and the pan lid under it with the other hand to catch the drips. Allow them to cool. The water will get warm as time goes by; at some point you may need to drain and re-fill if your tomatoes are not cooling off fast enough to handle.
Now remove the tops (I use a nifty thing I got from pampered chef, however a paring knife will work too) and slide the skin off. If the skin does not slide off, you probably need to blanch it a bit longer. If the skin is still totally stuck, your tomato might not be ripe enough.
I mix all my tomatoes for variety. Once you have a big bowl, you can freeze or can them as they are, or dice up and then freeze or can. I like to dice and freeze them - I use a large cutting board with a gutter to catch the juice. I have to drain it often; I dump the juice in with the tomatoes. I then give the diced bunch to my children who scoop it out by cupfuls into quart sized freezer bags.
I prefer Roma tomatoes over all - they seem the easiest to process ... their skins come of quickly and they are more dry than other tomatoes, thus making them easier to dice and handle. Also, I think they are 'pretty' and they taste really good! All tomatoes are good though and we try to grow a variety each year.

We have 26 quarts in the freezer so far ... I pray we get a lot more! Really, I would like to have one bag for every day of the year; we like to use these tomatoes for soups, spaghetti sauce, and stews.

In Christ,

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pictures of my last post

Here are a few pictures to go along with my last post - veggie pizza and focaccia bread .. YUM!

First, the pizza. I just made a basic wheat crust with dried onion and italian seasonings thrown in, a quick pizza sauce (tomato paste, water, salt, sweetener, oregano, garlic), and topped it with veggies I had on hand (carrots, zucchini, lightly steamed broccoli, green peppers and black olives). We put a little parmesan cheese on top when it was done.

Mmmm. Good for growing boys :)
The focaccia bread ... I basically made wheat bread but added olive oil and italian seasonings to the dough.
Roll out the dough onto a baking sheet and let it rise for a bit. When it's done, poke it with your fingers all around the top to make dents. Drizzle olive oil on top.
Get your topping ingredients ready. I like fresh roma tomatoes (sliced) and fresh basil (chopped). Not pictured here is kalamata olives (chopped). I also like sauteed, sliced onions and garlic.I like to saute the onions in olive oil. When it's almost done, I add pressed garlic and some salt.
Top your bread ... and bake till done.
We enjoyed our focaccia bread with a sprout salad - YUMMY!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Rice biscuits and pizza variations

A commenter asked for my rice biscuits recipe. Really, there is not secret. I just use a basic biscuit recipe that could appear in any cookbook but use rice flour instead of wheat. It helps to use butter or shortening (we use palm shortening from Spectrum) instead of a liquid fat. They turn out a little crumbly, which does not bother us, however to alleviate some of the crumbly-ness, you can add a teaspoon of xanthan gum or even an egg white (which I've yet to try, but maybe I will some time?!)

Here's what I use:
2c brown rice flour
1T baking powder
~1/2t salt
1/4-1/2c fat (depending on how I feel that day!)
liquid (start with 3/4c; use water, 'milk', juice, stock - depending on what you are serving with the biscuits)

Sometimes I'll add other seasons to suit the meal. For example:
- garlic, dehydrated onions bits and parmesan cheese to make 'garlic cheese biscuits'.
- italian seasons and olive oil for the fat
- cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom and stevia for a sweet biscuit (put on top of fruit in crock pot like 'dumplings' or put fruit over the biscuit like a 'cake')

We top our biscuits will all sorts of stuff ..
- veggies
- gravy
- fruit

Or just eat them plain!

The same commenter asked what we put on our veggie pizza. Simple! Whatever veggies we have on hand :) Sometimes I use a biscuit recipe for the crust ... this makes a real 'dough-y' crust, but we like it and it's quick. Other times I'll just make a batch of pizza dough (let the bread machine mix it for me). Pizza sauce is a can of tomato paste with pizza-sauce-type seasonings (oregano, salt, garlic, onion and a bit of sweetener ... and of course water to thin it out). We top it with whatever is on hand ... broccoli, carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, olives, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, pine nuts, etc.
Since we try our best to avoid dairy, I leave off the mozzarella cheese. Sometimes I'll sprinkle a little parmesan cheese over it. Other times I might make a creamy white sauce and drizzle that in a pretty pattern. Usually though ... we just leave it as it is.

A variation ... use garbanzo flour and make 'garbanzo pancakes'. Basically just flour, pizza-type seasons and water. Cook like pancakes in olive oil; they will be FLAT. Dip in pizza sauce. YUM! Sometimes I'll top one side with chopped tomatoes and black olives right after I put them on the pan; they get baked into the 'pancake'.

Another variation ... 'focaccia bread'. MMMM. I don't know if what we do is authentic or not, but who cares! I make a recipe or two of wheat bread dough, roll it out into desired shape, top with sauteed onions, fresh tomatoes, black olives and salt. Drizzle a little olive oil over all and bake till the bread is done. Maybe I'll make this today and put pictures on here ... it sounds really good.

That's all the time I have for now. Have a wonderful day.

In Christ,