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Showing posts with label healthy eating. Show all posts
Showing posts with label healthy eating. Show all posts

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Easiest Ever Overnight Hummus


I cannot stress enough how much I love hummus. It's the ultimate snack dip, and a must-have in the fridge. I can't tell you why you should eat more hummus, but these guys can. Sure, you can buy it in the prepared foods section of the deli at your grocery store, but why do that when you can make it yourself? Here's how:

Easiest Ever Overnight Hummus

  • 2 cups dry chickpeas
    • You can find this in almost any bulk storage section at the grocery store, buy it in bulk, and store the dry stuff in jars until you're ready to use it!
  • 3 large or 5 small whole peeled cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup tahini paste
  • 1 1/2 to 2 c good olive oil, depending
  • Salt to taste
Add your chickpeas to a casserole dish. Yes, I said a casserole dish, ideally the kind with a lid. You're going to cover it with cold water up until it's covered with at least 2 inches of water, put the lid over it, and let it sit on the counter overnight. When you check it the next day, your chickpeas will have doubled in size! It's quite a sight to see, all plumped up and happy. 

Turn the oven on to 300 degrees F. Next, you're going to drain the soaked peas in a colander and rinse them well. Add them back into the casserole dish, add just enough water to cover the chickpeas, and put the lid back on. Put the casserole in the oven and bake for 3 hours, or until the chickpeas are unbelievably creamy and soft. While we're baking, let's do the annoying #foodblogger storytime thing!

I don't remember the first time I'd ever eaten hummus, but I do remember vividly the first time I was asked to make hummus from scratch. I was a fresh sprig of a girl in my second quarter of Culinary school. I'd passed Fundamentals of Cooking and Baking and Pastry 1 with flying colors, and we were entering World Cuisine. We began in Europe and were moving slowly East, so naturally, we were going to explore Moorish Spain, the Middle East, and more. 

Observe this nightmare, my idea of good plating, taken with a Samsung Galaxy circa 2011.

I don't really remember if we soaked the chickpeas overnight, but I do recall that we were meant to peel the chickpeas after they'd been cooked. I remember this because we had cooked them until it was soft, and then drain them, and then pinch the little monsters out of their tupperware-like 'skins' that covered them. I didn't even know that chickpeas had skins until that moment, so naturally, I went along with it. How was I to know that my one dish for that class that day - hummus - was going to be the most-time consuming monstrosity that I'd ever seen? I even recall Chef Martin coming over to me and peeling with me for a while. I then whined to him:

"Why do this? Who thought of this?"

He laughed. We then both made a little joke about "maybe this is what happens when you're trying to keep your women busy?" We both laughed at the time. I later learned that this is not necessarily the correct thing to think. After all, how can you summarize such a complex, nuanced, and historically interesting culture as the Middle East with just hummus and how you make it? It's true that, historically, women were kept out of places of power, but a lot of cool stuff was happening in the Iranian/Arabic/Central Asian societies as well. They invented calculus, the concept of the number zero, discovered coffee, had free universities, and other neat stuff...but I digress.

The point is that this dish took for-freaking-ever, and I still somehow don't think that it was as smooth as I could have made it. I can't even tell you how much salt I put in the stuff above, but I remember thinking that it was nowhere near enough. It turns out it was the pungent garlic I was missing, as the recipe I had didn't contain garlic. I think I might have unconsciously stayed away from hummus since then, if only for my disdain for how much work I had to do for it. If I'd only known that you were meant to soak the chickpeas overnight! 

Convenience Note: I do think it's also appropriate to note that you can use canned chickpeas since they're already cooked and very soft, but why not make something from scratch and save yourself the can? 

Furthermore, I remember thinking to myself that there were far more interesting things to have and eat that took far less effort on the cook's part. I then suddenly remembering myself going for the hummus at every party I'd been to since then, and then being able to brag that I knew how to make it from scratch. The usual response was: "You mean to tell me you can make hummus?"

"Well, sure. You can make anything."

"It doesn't have to come from the store? Or the factory?"

"What...factory was in the town in the Middle east that first invented it?"

I loved those little interactions of getting to be a combination of smug and stinky, especially when I was at a party I didn't especially want to be at, surrounded by people I had no business liking or interacting with. I'm much less cynical and clammed up than I used to be, and I'd like to think that I am able to have a conversation with anyone nowadays regardless of their background. My own version of maturity is being able to go into a room that I don't necessarily want to be in, full of people I don't necessarily want to know, and be able to find and make a friend, or - at very least - not make some other stranger's night more unpleasant than it would have otherwise been having not met me. You could say that I've grown, just like my liking of hummus. I daresay I'm addicted to the stuff now. 


Let the chickpeas cool on the counter until it's room temperature, and then drain into the colander again, rinsing well. Add in your peeled garlic, your olive oil, your tahini paste, and cooked chickpeas to either the bowl of a food processor or the pitcher of a blender, and blend on low until smooth. Simply season to taste. You can garnish with some good olive oil or sesame oil - if you like - and perhaps with some sesame seeds or paprika. There, isn't that simple?

Serve it with crackers, fresh-cut vegetables, stuff fish or chicken with it, use it to thicken sauces, or just have it in the fridge as a snack for whenever you would like it. Legally speaking, it keeps for 7 days, covered, in the fridge, but I want to be candid when I confess that I've had a big batch hang out in the fridge for two weeks while I slowly ate off of it, and nothing's happened to me yet.

Thanks so much for spending time with me! Happy cooking and happy eating!

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Maple Rosedale Pumpkin Pie


Maple Rosedale Pumpkin Pie

yields 1 9" pie

  • 15 oz roasted squash puree
    • Mine was from my special Rosedale pumpkin!
  • 4 oz (a generous half cup) granulated sugar
  • 3 oz (about 1/3 cup) grade A maple syrup
  • 3 eggs, ideally organic
  • 1/2 c almond milk
  • 10 coriander seeds or 1/2 tsp dried coriander
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 spicebush berries, dried
    • If you can't find these, use 2 allspice berries plus 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 Chinese long peppercorn 
  • 1/2 tsp good vanilla extract
    • Check out my Partners page for good resources!
  • A fat pinch of kosher salt
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and prepare a sheet pan lined with either aluminum foil or a Silpat mat. Roll out your favorite pie crust into a glass pie dish (I prefer glass because I can see the bottom and make sure it's all cooked) and decorate as you like. I have these adorable cookie cutters that resemble leaves, and one of them looks like a pine cone. Since I tragically couldn't find my maple leaf cutter, this was the perfect alternative! All I did was let them hang out on the cool marble slab until I was ready to use them. I didn't feel the need to refrigerate the pie piece cut-outs since this pie is so quick to put together. 

Combine your hard spices into a spice grinder and blitz until wholly powdered. You can also use a coffee grinder, in a pinch! I much prefer to use whole spices in this way, as they store much better.  Then add about 2 Tbsp of the sugar and blitz together with the spices. This really helps perfume the sugar with the spices and lends more flavor to your pie!

Whisk together the squash puree with the sugars, maple syrup, and spices until well-combined. Next, mix in the eggs, one at a time, until completely combined. Add in all the rest of the ingredients and taste. If it needs a bit more cinnamon or you'd like to add a dash of cardamom or clove, that's perfectly fine. This is your pie, after all!

Once everything is combined and well-mixed, pour your mixture into your prepared crust. If you've chosen to decorate your pie with leaf or pinecone cutouts, like me, now is the time to attach them with egg wash to the sides and let the other half float along the custard top. Please remember that this is, in fact, a custard pie so I don't recommend a lattice top to finish. Go and have some fun with the outer crust, instead!

Bake at 325 for 3(three) twenty-minute intervals in which the pie is rotated gently in the oven. The pie sets up beautifully when baked low-and-slow, so be sure to not try to rush it! Now that I have your attention, and while the pie bakes and cools, let's talk a bit about the brand new Rosedale Pumpkin and the complicated world of cross-pollination. 

Everyone, meet the Rosedale Pumpkin Squash!

When you grow your own produce, either in a small Victory garden or a decent-sized homestead, there's always the possibility of cross-pollination. While there are many ways to avoid it, there is a not-insignificant amount of us gardeners that simply allow the thing to happen and see what comes of it. I noticed this strange thing growing on one of my squash plants. I got several small butternut squashes from my vines this year, but nothing was quite as big as this weird little monster. It was clear that the butternut and acorn squash had cross-pollinated, and while I could have simply cut it off and let the plant continue to make more...I was frankly too curious to not let it grow. I began taking pictures of it and telling my friends about it. We racked our brains trying to come up with a name for the squash, and it never came...I settled on 'Rosedale" squash since I live in Rosedale and that's where it grew. When I harvested it on the morning of Halloween eve and told my husband about the mysterious squash, he groggily looked at the green monstrosity and said: "So, what, it's like a ... buttercorn?"


Oh, come on! We've been trying so hard to come up with a cool name and you just pull that out of the air?! Jerk. 

I actually did a live opening of this thing on Instagram. 

I've decided to call it a pumpkin because of the stem, which is woody and quite stiff once it was dried! I was so curious as to what this tasted like. I documented everything about its cooking. It had a gorgeous bright-orange flesh when cut into that quickly beaded up with drops of diamond-like dew. I roasted it slowly at 300 degrees for about 4 hours with some canola oil so it wouldn't dry out. I didn't add salt or sugar, since I wanted to taste the real thing. Sadly? It didn't taste like buttered corn, so I chose to not name it 'buttercorn.' It tasted incredibly mild, and had a texture almost akin to spaghetti squash. It had plenty of moisture in it, still, so I don't know if this wall of text is masking my disappointment well enough at the lack of distinct flavor of my little green monster. 

Oh well. I still stand by my decision to save all of the seeds for next year's planting! Who knows if the seed will be viable or not? I simply know that I'll be starting them all in seed trays and letting them hang out in the garage by the window to keep them warm and safe until they're ready to be transplanted outdoors. Maybe the second generation will be better? 

This method can be used to roast any winter squash for the sake of preserving the puree over the long winter. I highly recommend doing this, if you don't have access to a cellar (or basement) that's pest-free and is relatively climate-controlled. My deep freezer will likely see a good portion of many bags of winter squash puree this season, even though I have a good cellar that will keep all of my produce fresh over winter. These are the things you really need to think about with a global pandemic going on, and the numbers getting worse. 

I know we're all sick of hearing about Covid-19, but with everything escalating and with hospitals getting overwhelmed again, it would be irresponsible to ignore it and not talk about it. I encourage all of you to contact local farms and see what kind of winter squash they're growing and if they're willing to sell you any or do a trade for them for whatever you may be able and willing to give. I'm fortunate to have partnerships with awesome farmers here in Kansas City that have paid me in produce for doing PR work for them. There are also many farmers markets out there that are participating in a Covid relief program to get good seasonal produce to families that really need them. 


Squash - winter squash particularly - are incredibly nutrient-dense. Usually, quite high in fiber, they're a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C. Pumpkin and squash are oddly acidic, so that means they're great at encouraging white blood cells to get amped up and protect you against disease this fall and winter. Who doesn't need that? 

Most eastern medicine - seen specifically in Chinese and Ayurvedic principles - have what are known as warming and cooling foods. There's a lot that could be said about this, but all you need to know right this moment is that a "warming food" is based on the internal nature of the food product. You should have nothing but warming foods if you are recovering from an illness or surgery. Foods like chicken, chestnuts, fresh ginger, and - you guessed it - pumpkin or squash are quite warming. It's no wonder we like it in our baked goods, the most-warming kind of food you can usually have! So, really, eating a whole pumpkin pie could be good for you...

When your pie is set to room temperature, you can cut and serve immediately, but I think it's better to chill it for a couple of hours first, just to help set the custard. After that, I do suggest letting the pie come up to room temperature to serve it. This is because the squash and spices are quite fragrant, and cold temperature dulls the beautiful aromas. This is also because eating cold foods can suppress your immune system so it's better to just let stuff be at least room temperature before you eat it. 

If you're curious about more warming and cooling foods, I invite you to have some fun researching it on your own and making informed decisions on it, all with a grain of salt! My mom, a Filipinx woman, always made sure to put extra ginger in her chicken soup whenever I got sick, and I will say it seemed to kick whatever crud I was experiencing out of my lungs. 

I hope you've enjoyed this recipe! Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Quiche - Not Quickie (But Fairly Quick)

Personalized cutting board not included
I was promised a Snowpocalypse. I was promised an Ice-pocalypse. I was also promised a regular apocalypse back in 2012. It was supposed to be over already; but it's not. The world is still here and we're still in it. If you're reading this now, that means you made it, too. Lucky you!

I've already made my New Year's Resolution to be more impactful. What does this have to do with quiche? Not much, unless you count "learning a new recipe that's easily customized to suit many different tastes and easily made ahead and kept all week" being impactful. It'll have a great impact on your life to learn a simple dish like this, and I promise you that you'll not regret learning it.

For this easy quiche recipe, which can be a breakfast, lunch, or dinner item, you'll need a pie crust, ideally of the 8"/9" variety for your 8"/9" pie tin. Make your own? Of course. Can you do store-bought? Of course. Why is the "of course" included in either one? I'd rather you have a fake n' bake quiche than no quiche at all. Just in case, though, here's my basic pie recipe:

Basic Pie Crust
yields 3 8" pie crust

  • 10.5 oz All-purpose flour(2 cups and 1 Tablespoon)
  • 8 oz (2 sticks) butter OR organic lard(1 cup)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 egg 
  • Vodka A/N
  • Parchment paper 
  • Pan spray
  • Bench scraper/Dough scraper
In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine your flour and sugar. Cut your fat into small pieces and pop in your mixer. Using a paddle attachment, stir your mixture until it comes together in fatty sort of crumbles/pea-sized bits. Add the egg. If this egg is not enough moisture to bring it all together in a dry sort of ball, add a drop or two of vodka until it does.

Why vodka? Simple!

The enemy of pie crust is: gluten. Gluten is the reason your crust shrinks from overworking. Gluten happens when wheat meets water, and that's a bad thing for your pie crust! Another reason you want vodka instead of water? The low boiling point!

See, alcohol boils/evaporates at a measly 90 degrees F while it takes a whole 212 degrees F to get water to boil! This is why your pie crust remains with a soggy bottom with your fruit pie, which is likely already chock-full of water as it is! See? Science is cool. Use that vodka...or any spirit you have. I hear Wild Turkey is great for using a crust to make apple pie...

So, now that you've made your dough, turn it out on to a liberally sprayed parchment sheet and smear the dough all across the paper, folding it up and over again, and smearing again, until everything is nice and uniform. This technique is called "fraiser", and it's my absolute favorite to boot! 

It's a short video, but you get the idea of smearing with the heel of your hand...right? Totally.

So, for your pie dough, simply roll it out into a nice circle to overlap on your chosen vessel. Instead of pressing the dough into the shell, may I suggest simply laying it down and letting it settle for itself(about 5 minutes) in the pan, so any glutens that may have formed can relax a bit? This extra step will prevent shrinkage, and that is a good thing.

Now that you've trimmed your shell, you can decorate the crust ring. You can pinch, use a fork, or use a spoon to create scalloped edges, like this one here. No matter what you do, though, make sure that your crust goes immediately in to the freezer. You'll want your dough frozen(or near-frozen) for this application, if you can at all help it (which you can).

Now that we've discussed crusts, let's move on to filling. A basic quiche custard is simple, and this amount is perfect for a single 8"/9" pie. What you put in it is up to you! Try not to go overboard or too complex with your fillings, and choose lightly cooked items as well. For example, do not put raw bacon in these quiches, as the results will end up greasy and gritty. I also suggest lightly sauteeing any vegetables you may put in there, as you don't want to ruin the pretty, light custard when you cut into it by hacking a hard carrot or stiff pepper. Remember, this dish cooks in the oven for 30 minutes, and that's it. The custard is not going to suffer because you need to make sure that ham is hot. Understand?

Alright. Here's the filling.

Quiche Custard
adapted from Pies & Tarts 

  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten with a pinch of salt
  • 4.5 oz sour cream OR plain yogurt(just dear God not vanilla)
  • 1 1/3 cups whole milk(cashew milk works as a dairy-free alternative)

That's it. That's literally it. Beat your eggs with the salt, then whisk in the sour cream until it's thick and evenly all come together, and then whisk in your milk. Isn't that crazy? Add your fillings to the shell, then pour the custard over, and put it on a sheet tray(just in case it spills).

This one has Hen of the Woods mushrooms and gruyere cheese in it with fresh herbs!
Pop this into the bottom half of a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes. Do you read? 30 minutes. It should take at least this long, but don't pull it out if the middle isn't set, with just a hair of wobble.

Let this cool for at least 15 minutes before you cut into it. The bubbles in this are rather fragile, and if you poke them too soon, the quiche will rupture and a ridiculous amount of water from the eggs will all come spilling out and you'll be left with a gross, goopy mess by the end of it. So, for real, patience is a virtue.

I personally like quiches to be served at "body temperature"(about 90 degrees) with a nice rocket salad and a light vinaigrette, perhaps for lunch. Quiches are great for light dinners, too, when you don't feel like eating a whole plate of spaghetti and meatballs or an entire rotisserie chicken. They're cheap, they're relatively easy to put together, and they can feed a whole family, if need be.

Still need some guidance? Here are my favorite quiche flavor combinations:

This one was smoked gouda with lots of black pepper

  • Corn and white miso
  • Bacon and cheddar
  • Chorizo and green tomatoes
  • Sauteed leek (just by itself!)
  • Spinach with white cheddar and black forest ham(spinach down first, then ham, then cheese on top, all finished with the poured custard...this weighs the spinach down and allows for nice cooking!)
  • Dandelion leaves and havarti (No really. This was an experiment and it worked out NICELY.)
  • Leftover roast beef with bleu cheese

Go nuts with the flavor combinations and make sure you let me know if you come across any great ones on your travels... Happy cooking and happy eating!

Poached chicken and sauteed wild mushrooms filled this little beauty...

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Trip to Overland Park Farmer's Market, and How to Shop Locally

Howdy, class!

Today, we're going to learn about shopping at your local farmer's markets. Although the closest one to me is City Market in Downtown Kansas City, I have Wednesdays off so that means I can have a trip to the Overland Park Farmers' Market, which is only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays. (Special tips will be highlighted in bold.)

It's hot and humid...but, hey, it's summer! Now where's
that stall with the fruit smoothies...?
The trick to the Farmers' Market is that you should seldom go with an idea of what to buy in mind. Treat it like the grocery store; just wander aimlessly and figure out what you need on the way. 

(For those of you who actually go to the grocery store with lists in mind can throw them away. This ruins the idea of the Farmers' Market in my mind.)

When  I'm shopping for food, I try very hard to not go shopping hungry, because I end up buying a lot of what I don't actually need. When shopping, I highly recommend eating a protein bar beforehand, or stopping at a drive-thru to get an iced coffee. A health teacher told me once that if you're feeling peckish, have a glass of water before you reach for a snack; often, you were more thirsty than you were hungry, and you'll have stopped yourself from overeating by getting hydrated. There are many ways to curb overeating, and staying hydrated is one of them!

Also, bring your own bag. Although the farmers' market vendors will often have bags of their own, you should still bring your own. I have this neat treated canvas bag that I take with me when shopping; it also adds to the ambiance of the place. Plus, it's an excuse to color-coordinate an extra something with your totally cute farmers market outfit. You know what I'm talking about. *wink*

Always make a first pass, up and down, before deciding what you need. Take in absolutely everything. Farmers' markets should be savored; a lot of hard work went into making this delicious food for you, and you'll see those smiling faces of the happy vendors with their glorious produce shine. You should want to take in everything, listen to the buzz of the crowd, and really feel that humming energy. Things are alive around you; and the produce here is fresher than you'll ever get in the grocery store.

I remember that I had some sweet corn, freshly picked and grilled, at a Farmer's market in California once. It was so sweet, and so unbelievably delicious; when I asked what seasonings the man put on the corn, he said he didn't put anything on it. It was just the corn and some sweet cream butter from the dairy farm that was next to his(this was years ago, way before the California drought). Corn, he said, loses sugar in increments from the moment that it's picked. The sweeter it is, the more-recently it was picked. I've never forgotten that.

Oh, and let's remember, class: corn isn't a vegetable, it's a grain. You can use this as your starch for your meal, but pick something else for your vegetable.

Eating healthy is about getting variety in  your diet. Don't just eat the same thing over and over again, but eat a wide range of different fruits, vegetables, meats...etc. If you have children that are picky eaters, and they see you enjoying something new and different, they'll be more opt to try it. If you have kids, be that presence in their lives that shows them that food is nothing to be afraid of. I cannot stress this enough. Even if you don't know how to cook it, ask the vendors what they would do. Seriously, these people know their produce inside and out, so of course they'd have an idea or two of what to do with all of this gorgeous produce.

Another cool thing about my farmers' market(and many farmers' markets now) is that they sell meats from local vendors. You'll sometimes have to get there early in the day, but it'll be worth it. Many places will allow you to call ahead, too, and set aside certain items for you so long as you ask. I can't tell you the difference between fresh farmers' meats and the ones at the local grocers. It's seriously otherworldly, and I can only tell you to try it for yourself. Many farmers out here also run dairies, so they'll sell goats' cheese and whatnot.

See that? That's your non-side-effect-having-allergy relief right there...
The apiaries out here can't be beat, and they'll always have delicious honey for you to sample and buy. Buying and consuming local honey is an excellent and natural way to combat allergies during the summer. The bees in the local area gather pollen from local plants, flowers, trees, etc, and make it into honey. By administering yourself with local honey, it will help to combat your aversion to local plant life; but you don't have to take my word for it.

See what I'm pointing to? That's produce. Behind me are squash, heirloom tomatoes the size of your head, gorgeous cucumbers and wax beans, basically all of the summer bounty that you could be putting into your body but aren't. See how hot and sweaty I am? Of course you do. But is it worth it? Of course it is. If you don't want to get hot and sweaty shopping, consider that these hard-working women and men do every day to give you this bountiful harvest. Consider the beauty in their hard work, their toil, all so you can have some fresh and beautiful meat, vegetables, cheese, all on your plate tonight. Sure, the supermarket is air-conditioned, but you'll be supporting factories, poorly-paid laborers, a crap-ton of antibiotics. Consider organic; if nothing else, it tastes better.

There's a slight chance I went overboard...
And another thing; don't throw away your beet and carrot greens. Those greens are delicious, good for you, and create another dimension to your meal. I love beet greens sauteed with butter and salt, or braised in a stew. Carrot greens can be steamed, roasted, all while left on the carrot. You can butter the peeled carrots and just bake them with some potatoes. By leaving the carrots whole, you minimize prep time for yourself, and who doesn't like that?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a date with these beets. And basil. And garlic. And carrots. Okay, so it's less like a date and more like an orgy. Sue me.