Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Power Breakfast

Power Breakfast: Baked Sweet Potato, Topped with an Egg

Ok, this is my very own invention, and it has become Matt's favorite breakfast.  It has a ton of vitamins and protein and is very filling, so plan on a late lunch when you have this for breakfast.  We also like it for brunch, lunch, and dinner.

It does take about an hour to cook, so you might need to get up early to stick it in the oven.  Or bake the potatoes a day or two before, and just warm them before serving with the egg.  OR - newest method to me -- stick 'em in a crockpot overnight.  They'll be VERY cooked but it does the job.

This recipe is paleo-friendly, gluten free, and sort of vegetarian (if you consider eggs vegetarian).


Whole sweet potato
1/2 tbsp butter
Olive oil
Steak seasoning
Extra salt and pepper for eggs, if desired


Stab holes in the sweet potato(s) with a knife.  Try to get deep in there.  I try to put at least 8 deep holes to speed up the cooking process.

Wrap the sweet potatoes in foil and place directly on oven rack, in the middle of the oven.
Set oven temperature to 400 deg. F. and let them cook for about an hour.
When you can slide a knife into them easily, they are ready.

Towards the end of the hour, melt the butter in a small skillet and cook the desired number of eggs however you like.  Matt loves them over easy, I like them over medium, and my sister likes hers scrambled.

Unwrap the potatoes and put on plates.  Slice open wide.
Drizzle olive oil, and sprinkle steak seasoning on top.  Top with the egg(s) and more seasoning!

And eat up!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Vanilla Mint Ice Cream

I made ice cream a couple times earlier this summer - frozen custards that I cooked on the stove then had to cool for a couple hours before I could make them.  They were good...

But then I discovered something easier.

For the base: 1 cup whipping cream, 2 cups whole milk, 1/3 cup sugar
Then add whatever else you want.
Combine everything in a blender, and pour that stuff into an ice cream maker.  
Presto!  Ice cream.

(Note: if you are chopping or pureeing things in the mix, add the whipping cream only after everything is pureed.  Adding it sooner, bits of it turn into buttery chunks from all the blending.  Weird, but that's what we experienced.)

We have several herbs in our garden, so I thought it would be good to do a vanilla mint, using fresh spearmint from the pot.

In a blender, I combined:
2 cups whole milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed fresh spearmint leaves

Blend that together until the leaves are minced up.

Then add 1 cup of whipping cream.

Blend for a couple of seconds more.

Pour into ice cream maker, and chill according to the maker's directions.

Garnish with a sprig of mint for some charm!

Some people chill the ice cream afterwards for a couple of hours to let it become like store-bought.  I don't really like to let it get too hard.  When I made this ice cream, I put it into serving bowls and placed those in the freezer for about 20 minutes, just until we were ready to eat.  I like the softer texture.

Using the base in this recipe, I have also made Lemon Basil Ice Cream.  Just use lemon extract and fresh basil leaves, instead of the vanilla and mint.  It's pretty darn good!

Next up is Jalapeno Peach Ice Cream!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Wheat Pita Bread - from Mom!

After I made the other pita recipe, my mom gave me this wheat pita recipe that was SO MUCH BETTER.  Just as much work, but not as sticky and is somewhat healthier since almost half of the flour is whole wheat.


2 1/2 cups warm water
1 tsp dry yeast
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
approx 3 cups all-purpose flour


Mix the warm water and yeast, let it dissolve.
Add the whole wheat flour and stir 100 times, in the same direction.  The mixture should still be liquid-y when you get to 100.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside for at least 30 minutes.  It is safe to leave it for up to 5 hours at this point if you need to run errands or something.
When you come back to it, it will be bubbling (and should look like it might be alive).

Add the salt and olive oil, and gently stir in the same direction.
Add the 3 cups of all-purpose flour, all at once.  Then stir by folding (an under/over movement).  The mixture will then become a dough.

Flour a surface and knead for 10-15 minutes.  Add flour if needed to keep it smooth.
When you are finished, the dough should be smooth, with a nice sheen on the surface.

Coat the ball of dough with some olive oil, and place it in a bowl.  Cover with plastic and let it rise until it doubles (2-3 hours)
If you poke holes in it and they don't bounce back, it's done.

Knead it gently for a couple of minutes.  At this point you can refrigerate it overnight and make the bread the next day if you choose.  Mom said it does rise a little if you do this, though, so knead it a couple of minutes when you take it out of the fridge.

Preheat your oven with baking sheet or stone, on bottom of oven rack.   Mom said to preheat to 450 deg. F., but I think I set mine to 475.  Let it preheat for a while, since you want it to get very hot (Mom recommends 30 minutes)

Divide the dough evenly into balls - 16 large or 40 small (4 in. diameter for finished pitas)
I ended up with 32 medium-sized pitas.

Roll each one to make balls, flatten and roll out.

Let them rest 10 minutes, and roll them out again.

Rolling with my handy dandy 3-buck-chuck rolling pin.

Ready to go into the oven!

I then place them, four at a time, on my pizza peel.  The pizza peel was a good way to transfer the dough onto the hot baking stone in the oven.  A spatula would have been my next choice.

Put each grouping in the oven and cook 3-5 minutes.  Once you notice them puff up (I had to peek every so often), wait another 20-30 seconds, then pull them out (I used a metal spatula to pull them out).  Stack them and press down gently with a spatula when they come out of the oven.

Wrap them in a towel to keep them warm for serving, or store in airtight containers (large ziplock bags work great).

This recipe is from Julia Child's show "Baking with Julia," Apr. 14th of 2007.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Yogurt - Fresh, Homemade, and Tangy!

So I made yogurt the other day with every intention of taking pictures of the process, but didn't.  Then I decided that the pictures are pretty boring anyway - the entire process is very straightforward.  And very stage looks like a bowl of milk.  So here's the recipe with a picture of the bowl-of-milk stage mine is at right now.


1/2 gallon milk (I am using 2% now, but skim milk works, and whole milk is delicious)
4 tbsp yogurt, with live active cultures in it (check the label to make sure.  I usually use greek yogurt, full fat, but right now I'm trying out the nonfat Fit n Active brand from Aldi; we'll see if it works)

This makes 2 quarts of yogurt.


Heat (scald) the milk in a large saucepan or a pot on medium-low or low heat, stirring often (the higher the heat, the more frequently I recommend you stir, so as to prevent the milk from burning on the bottom of your pan).

Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature.  When it gets to 180 deg. F. (82 deg. C.), it is scalding.

Turn off the heat and let it sit until the temperature drops to 115 deg. F.

Transfer to a large glass bowl and whisk in the 4 tbsp of yogurt.  Sometimes I put the yogurt in the bowl first and whisk the milk into it.

Lightly cover the bowl and place in a warm place for 36-48 hours.  I have a gas oven that is always a little warm, so I keep mine there. My mother places it on top of her water heater, which also works very well.  My grandmother wraps hers with multiple towels when it is still warm from the cooking (It doesn't seem to me like that would keep it warm the whole 48 hours, but it works for her).

You can check it after 24 hours to see if it is solid.  Mine always takes longer than 24 hours, though.

Here is what mine looks like after 24 hours.  You can't really tell from the pics, but it's still pretty runny.  Tilting it a little to the side, some liquid slid from the top.  When it's done, it won't move if you tilt it a little.

After it has solidified, place a couple of paper towels on top to absorb moisture, and stick it in the fridge.  Eat it with honey, or mint and cucumber.  We eat it over eggs with salt and pepper sometimes.  Or in smoothies, it is fabulous.  Matt has suggested we should make "frozen yogurt" with it sometime, and I am definitely looking forward to that!

Now, if you forget about the yogurt, and you bolt up after 72 hours worried that you've ruined it, fear not.  It will just be super tangy, which I personally love. (Growing up, I literally cheered every time my mother forgot her yogurt, because then it got super good.  And putting tangy yogurt in fruit smoothies, oh wow...heaven.)  Once or twice, we have found a small spot of mold on the surface of the yogurt after leaving it too long.  But we just scooped it out and the rest was fabulous.

I advise immediately storing a few tablespoons of your new yogurt in a tupperware or glass airtight container so you have your "starter" yogurt for the next time you make it.  It will just get better and better.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fresh Tong Ho Salad

We just returned from a week with our families and friends.  By the end of it, we had eaten so much meat it was disgusting (deliciously disgusting, but disgusting nonetheless).  So dinner tonight had to be vegetable-y, meatless, and fresh, to help us recover.

I went to the Asian market and picked up some tang ho.  I had no idea what it was, but it looked kind of like arugula, so I figured we'd find something to do with it.  I spent some time online when I got home trying to figure out what it was and whether it would be good eaten fresh.  Then I came to my senses and just tasted a leaf.  Yum!!!  It is now my new favorite salad green.  It is an edible chrysanthemum plant and is popular in Chinese hot pot, as I later discovered.

The leaves and stalks are fresh and delicious, but also dense enough to be a good dinner salad.  The taste reminded me a little of celery leaves, but not nearly as bitter. 

(this photo was found at

Along with the tang ho (also spelled tong ho), I bought some enoki mushrooms and a large red bell pepper.  These are the perfect ingredients for a fresh, filling salad.

Matt suggested using a classic Syrian dressing with it.  Syrian dressing is basically oil, lemon, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Syrian salad has mint in the greens as well, and I figured the mint would accent the fresh flavor of the Tong Ho.  (I think it turned out beautifully).  So this is a Chinese-Syrian fusion salad.

I got fresh mint leaves from our potted herb garden (about 2 tbsp packed), and tore them into the salad. (During the winter time, I use powdered mint, or dried mint)

Then mixed together the dressing, poured it on top, and voila!  Salad.


1 lb. Tong Ho Greens (leaves and stalks)
1 package Enoki Mushrooms
1 large (or 2 small) Red Bell Pepper(s)
1 tbsp packed Fresh Mint Leaves (or one tsp mint powder or dried mint, crushed)

1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper (freshly ground is best)
2 cloves Garlic, minced


Chop the greens, mushrooms, and bell pepper into 1-2 inch pieces.  The enoki will look something like cheese.  Tear the mint leaves over the salad, or sprinkle the dry mint over the salad.
Mix the dressing ingredients.  Pour into the salad.  Toss and eat.

Note: This salad does not keep its flavor very well overnight, so I advise eating it all in one evening.  We had leftovers and I tasted them this morning.  Edible, but not preferable.

This recipe is vegan, paleo-friendly, and gluten-free.