Tag Archives: foodie

Dine-N-Dash Olive Spread

In our house we’re usually running on empty and not terribly picky when we finally get to the kitchen. Also not real big on cooking by then, quick and easy is typically the order of the day.

Then there are the times, usually when I’m working the kinks out of a project, I will start preparing one thing, and several rabbit trails later, wind up with at least one something else – often a few new concoctions. Making due with what was in the ‘fridge and the pantry, Opal and I developed the Dine-N-Dash Olive Spread.

This is great to have ready, especially during the festive year-end season. Slightly tedious with the mincing (in my humble opinion machines make mushy stuff – I’m not a fan of mushy), this is one of those great foods you wish you’d thought of an hour before you can almost taste it. It’s worth waiting for when you didn’t think ahead.

Rich and nutritious when spread on celery, peeled sliced jicama, whole grain crackers or baked pita chips, it’s remarkably satisfying, so a little goes a long way. It’s also good in fingertip sandwiches, on mini-rye as appetizer, topped with salmon, shrimp, maybe a sprig of fresh dill, chive or watercress – you get the idea? I think it’s also great in won ton wrappers, steamed, baked or fried too. But then, what isn’t?

appetizers olive spread salmonI typically make a double batch (especially when I have a lot of nervous energy or I must resist stabbing something). It disappears fast during tumultuous stretches, but during calmer times it’s kept well for as long as three days – so far ;). Really, it’s never gotten old at our house. I don’t have photos yet – it’s never around long enough, but I’m inserting some stock shots for now to help inspire you.

breads-on-dish-miyeonLike most everything else in our kitchen, the ingredients are items that are typically on hand. Except for the capers we found on clearance – and weren’t stale dated! Now we’ve developed a craving for them. Leave a comment if you do too!

 

Dine-N-Dash Olive Spread

8 oz softened cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese
2 tablespoons capers, smashed and minced
1 finely minced sweet cherry pepper
1 tablespoon finely minced sun dried tomato
6 oz (dry weight) pitted, minced black olives, (dried olives are great also)
1/2 teaspoon caper brine
1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sweet cherry pepper brine
1/4 teaspoon lime juice
red pepper flakes to taste (I use 1/4 teaspoon, but I like piquant)

First mince the olives, capers, cherry pepper and sun dried tomato. Set aside. In a bowl, blend softened cream cheese (about 20 seconds in the microwave at half power will do in cool months) with the liquids. Once smooth, add all remaining ingredients, mixing well with rubber spatula. Allow to sit. Best made a day ahead – but good luck with that! Don’t be afraid to play with the liquid ingredients – in a separate small dish, a little at a time :). To make a great dip for chips, thin with a splash of milk.

 

 

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Delicious No-Sugar Cranberry-Berry Sauce and Oats

It’s the season we crave stick-to-your-ribs, soul satisfying food. Because of the inclement weather it’s also harder to force ourselves outdoors so we naturally tend to put on Winter weight.

Don’t take it laying down (or curled up in the easy chair all winter). Start by reducing the processed sugars from your diet. Below are two recipes to help make that simple and I included groats (whole oat grain) to cook ahead and reheat.

No Sugar Cranberry-Berry Sauce

12 oz bag cranberries, rinsed
12 oz frozen apple juice concentrate thawed
6 – 8 oz flat blackberries or blueberries
dash salt
Grated peel of 1 small or med orange (tangerine, tangelo, 1/2 grapefruit peel are also good) or (1/4 t. lemon or lime juice)
1 1/2 -2″ piece finely minced crystallized ginger

Assemble in a saucepan, stir gently, bring to boil and then reduce heat immediately. Stir and continue to simmer until cranberries stop popping, about 10 – 15 minutes depending upon your altitude and range top.

Stir and let cool. Taste. Before adding any other sweetener, consider whether you are simply used to a sweeter (sugary) sauce. If desired you can add a tablespoon of agave syrup or honey. This will thin your sauce slightly and add more calories.

Use your imagination using this sauce. Aside from making fowl, ham and most any smoked meat even tastier, another delightful way to use it is in oats.

 

Cranberry-berry Oats

Serves 2

For Microwave combine in deep bowl:

1/2 cup cranberry-berry sauce
1/2 cup 4 oz. (snack cup) unsweetened applesauce
1 1/4 cup apple juice or water
1/2 cup old fashioned (rolled) oats
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Microwave: stir gently, microwave at high heat 3 1/2 mins, stir microwave another 2 1/2 mins
Range top: Combine ingredients in a deep, medium sauce pan, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes depending upon altitude.

Top with 1/4 cup diced walnuts,
1 teaspoon golden flax seed,
1 teaspoon chia seeds

Be creative with your favorite toppings, but watch out for saturated fats (butter, cream) and refined sugars. For example: vanilla powder, cocoa powder, coconut oil, grated unsweetened coconut, a splash of almond milk, cashew milk (and soy creamer is delightful). No added sugar is actually needed!

Frozen, chopped strawberries or blueberries are great during the winter months. I get a bag of frozen mango, pineapple strawberry mix from Aldi, soften in the microwave, chop and add to oatmeal and yogurt for a great energy boost that sticks with you all morning.

 

Groats (whole grain oats, hulls removed)

The healthiest form of oats is simple to cook, but it takes more time. The best advantage to groats is they reheat beautifully in the microwave or on the stove top. I make them ahead and freeze half the batch.

Simply put:

Use 1 part groat grains,
3 parts water,
1 small, grated apple (peels and all, omit seeds), and a
dash of salt.

That’s it!

In a large pan (grain will expand to 3 times it’s bulk), bring grain, water, salt and grated apple to a boil. Cover, remove from heat and let soak overnight (all day, whatever works for you). After 8 hours cook on low heat another 20 mins, add a dash of cinnamon if desired. Serve or store in serving sized bowls for convenience. Top as you like (cranberry-berry sauce and walnuts is especially good). Excellent re-heated for a delicious, satisfying breakfast in minutes.

For lots more information about the benefits of groats, click the links to these fine sites:

From the Culinate Kitchen collection by Carrie Floyd

Slow Cooker Groats by Martha Matheny

Spend less time cooking so you’ll have a little more time to exercise – “I like to move it!”

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Celery and Yogurt Soup

Toward the end of the week we get very creative about meals. Recently I remembered a head of celery that had been pushed to the back of the veggie drawer and needed to be used – fast. Not realizing we were out of cow’s milk until I was ready to add it, I had to think quick. The large tub of plain yogurt seems to always be the last to disappear from the ‘fridge. I remembered tasting a delightful yogurt-cucumber sauce over the summer, so I went for it.

The result was so good that Opal, who doesn’t especially care for celery ate half of the batch. If you aren’t fond of dill, be daring and try another herb that suits you. Take a spoonful to the side and try your alternate herb separately first and avoid risking a potful of soup you don’t like! ; )

celery-74333_640

Celery and Yogurt Soup
4-6 servings

1 large head celery, cleaned & chopped
1 small or ½ medium onion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons minced parsley
4 cups chicken stock (or 8 teaspoons soup base dissolved in 4 c hot water)

Bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer till celery is tender, about 20 minutes. Pour stock into bowl, celery into separate bowl.

Add to pan:

2 Tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons unbleached flour

On medium heat melt butter, add flour, stir with wire whip. Add stock gradually, stirring constantly till smooth & thickened but don’t boil.
Add:

¾ – 1 cup room temp plain unflavored yogurt,
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Blend together yogurt, dill, salt and pepper (to taste) until smooth. Add celery and onion to soup and stir. Garnish with a sprig of dill & serve.

 

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Turkey Medallions – Times of Feasting and Getting Famished

Have I mentioned how autumn is my favorite time of the year? In case the break in hot or hotter weather isn’t enough to inspire longer walks later in the morning, colorful vistas cause me to swoon. Unlike any other season, I’m actually excited about bargain shopping and exercising my mad couponing skills so that city traffic doesn’t even bother me.

Before (possibly during) the Avian Flu outbreak, discounted marinated turkey breasts reduced for quick sale became stars in our summer suppers. From the grill, oven or cut into medallions, they’ve not only delighted company served up with my From the Hip Mango Salsa (which is actually chutney **), but inspired other successful experiments.

Turkey Tenderloin Medallions

Turkey Tenderloin Medallions

One of the blessings is a taste delight I developed, first from leftovers, and then with the whole tenderloins fresh from the wrapper. Now with cooler weather coming on I’m contemplating how to make a twenty pound turkey disappear among three people. Since I alone actually like leftover turkey this is a hefty challenge.

The savvy shopper is ever watchful for clearance sales on wines that enhance many recipes with a broader flavor palette (alcohol cooks away leaving a thicker, more flavorful reduction instead of gravies). Cashing in those Catalina coupons from the grocers’ registers makes them more affordable.

With turkey one can bravely go where no cook has gone before. Worst case results, it’s still gonna taste like turkey (yet again) and can be livened up with sauce or gravy.

Back when I kept large breed dogs, my passion for good, natural food benefited the canids attached to my household as well. To make the food budget stretch, I’d roast turkeys, only I’d filet off, skins and tie together the breast, leg and thighs. I did likewise with chicken. The skins, spine, neck, giblets, etc. all went to the dogs, sometimes via the freezer. The people portions frozen raw in marinade made life simpler for delightful, quick meals.

Turkey Medallions in Chardonnay Reduction

Prepare ahead rice (steamed is good, pilaf is superb), risotto, quinoa, couscous, pasta or noodles. Enough to make a bed on platter.

Ingredients:

2# (Aldi’s) Rotissery flavor turkey breast tenderloin, sliced into 3/4″ medallions
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 large sweet onion chopped
3 or 4 fresh zucchini 1″ slices
1# fresh white mushrooms, sliced in 3rds
garlic (to preference)
branch of fresh rosemary (can be easily removed before serving)
1 pound, bag or 2 bunches (well cleaned) chopped spinach – preferably baby, or arugula
3 cups chardonnay (or any sweet, white wine)
1 cup water

Slice turkey in 3/4″ medallions (or slice into bite-sized strips if you prefer). Heat deep skillet, coat with evoo, stir fry turkey pieces on hi temp till browned but still raw in centers.

Reduce heat to medium-high, (remove from burner for a minute or two if necessary to prevent scorching). Add onion and saute 3 mins, till just tender. add mushrooms, saute till firm-tender, about 3 mins. Add rosemary sprig and stir another minute till aromatic.

Add 1 cup wine, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to boil again, stirring to scrape skillet bottom till smooth. Reduce heat, top with zucchini, cover, simmer gently 2 – 5 mins. Gently fold in spinach, cover, cook 3 more mins.

Remove meat & veggies from pan. Turn heat to high, stir in remaining wine. Cover meat and veggie platter with another plate and pour into pan the juices that have now collected at bottom of platter. Continue slowly stirring to prevent scorching until mixture begins to thicken* and reduction is thick enough to cling and cover spoon. If mixture reduces too much, add a little more wine until slightly thinner than desired consistency. Cover and remove mixture from heat. Let sit 3 – 5 minutes.

Cover a deep platter with a bed of noodles, pasta or grain (or plate individually). Arrange meat and veggies on top. With rubber spatula stir reduction, scraping bottom and sides. Ladle sauce over meat and veggies on platter. Serve with crusty, warm bread or rolls. Bon appetit!

Also delicious topped with a dollop of Greek style yogurt and sprinkled with chopped, fresh parsley.

* One can substitute turkey or chicken broth instead of (or in addition to) wine. Reducing broth or stock takes longer, so be patient and careful to stir often to prevent scorching.

** God willing, I will also share that recipe.

Copyright © 2015 Roo’s Ruse. All Rights Reserved. roosruse.wordpress.com mailto:ashalowm53@gmail.com

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Bomb Diggity Baked Spring Rolls

In our household, dietary restrictions from salt, oil, etc. aside, we can’t get enough Chinese food. Aside from pot stickers and that amazing green onioney-ginger-soy dipping sauces we also relish spring rolls. Neither are ideal on a low-fat diet. One late spring evening an on-going craving form something crispy-gooey-steamy got the best of me. I set about experimenting, pulling everything from the ‘fridge that was left over from a lumpia* party the weekend before.

As typically happens, Opal arrived home from work as I mixed and tasted. Between the two of us, we brainstormed through to some crispy, tasty satisfying rolls that are very forgiving of experimentation and well worth trying. It’s become a thing at our house.

Bomb-Baked Spring Rolls

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Ingredients:

Grate:
1 large carrot
1 Tablespoon fresh, peeled ginger root
Finely mince:
1/2 cup Cabbage
¼ cup Red, yellow or orange sweet peppers
¼ cup Celery
1 – 2 teaspoons teriyaki sauce
Approximately 12 Egg roll wrappers
Can of canola oil or coconut oil spray**

In mixing bowl mix 1 – 2 t. teriyaki sauce and grated ginger together well. Add and mix all remaining ingredients well, being sure to distribute ginger evenly (consider using ground, dry ginger according to taste).

Liberally spray a baking sheet with oil. Lay egg roll wrapper on sheet, fill with vegetable mixture, tuck ends in first and then roll. Set aside on tray setting rolls 1 inch apart until sheet is full. Lightly spray oil over all rolls.

Place in center of preheated oven, bake 8 minutes. Turn rolls. Bake another 4 minutes until wrappers are completely golden brown. Be careful to not let bottoms scorch.

Remove from oven, serve immediately with prepared hot Chinese mustard and duck sauce. Leftover packets from previous Chinese take-outs are never wasted in our house. Consider adding more ingredients according to your personal taste, like shrimp, crab, minced leftover chicken, etc. and more wrappers, of course.

*A Filipino spin on the asian classic

**Refillable aerosol or pump cans from a restaurant supply stretch the food budget farther and are well, worth the initial expense.

 

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Kitchen Sync

2015-02-06 19.27.02

Food is necessary for life. Good food is the spice of life. And creating new, great tasting, soul-satisfying food makes the whole world seem like a better place. The very best food seems to develop when hearts gather around the home fires. To date, I haven’t studied under great culinary masters, but nobody ever complained about food that vanished from my table.

My humble means makes this particularly interesting. I’ve never had a lot of money for long, but we’ve always eaten well. I learned early on how sharing a tasty, satisfying meal in good company is more about the company than it is about the elements or any training.

It’s more about the connection, developing relationships with some experience sprinkled in and the common bond – fueling the engines.

Most recently I’ve noticed how the best culinary creations developed in lean times – making do from the remnants of recent abundance. Spontaneously providing sustenance for unexpected crowds inspired more surprisingly great suppers than I can remember. Family, friends and I most often craftily compiled them from everything in the house BUT the kitchen sink.

This Category is more about intertwining stories than blending ingredients together. It’s all about family, friends, fun and food; making the most of whatever we have.

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