Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Easiest Way to Shuck Corn

I feel like a farmer using the phrase 'shucking corn', but seriously, you know how hard it is to get each little string off of an ear of corn when you are peeling it?

Well prepare to be amazed by this dude Ken.

I like to buy several ears of corn at once when they are on sale, shuck and cut off the cob, then freeze for later use.  But that used to be a lot of work to do all at once.  Not anymore!

With some vegetables, you can boil them for just a couple minutes (par-boil), then submerge them in ice water, which releases the skin, and makes them easy to peel.

This seems along those same lines, except no ice bath needed!

You just throw the whole ear of corn, un-trimmed husk and all, into the microwave for 4 minutes.

Then, take it out with potholders (hello, it is really hot!), and with a sharp knife, cut the whole end (the fatter side, with no silk at the end) off, straight through the husk and corn.

Then, squeeze the opposite end, (again, keep the really attractive, dirty and burned sunflower pot holder on your hand!), and the perfectly clean corn slides right out! Zero silk attached!!

You have got to try this, it is so easy.

Check out Ken's video here for a full visual, and what feels like an adorable lesson from your grandfather.

So There.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Tropical Pancakes...Without Leaving Home

Fresh pineapple was on sale at Sprouts this week for $.99 each, so I jumped on that deal.  There is just something about the smell of fresh pineapple; so tropical and summery.

I saw the whole pineapple on my counter in the morning as I was making pancakes, and decided they must be friends immediately!

I had also just purchased this Earth Balance Organic Coconut Spread, which was a perfect match with these pancakes!

This coconut oil spread can be used just like butter; in fact it looks and reacts just like butter, and it is perfect for pancakes!

I mixed up some pancake batter:

1 1/2c  whole wheat pancake mix ( I use the just add water kind. Feel free to sub your favorite pancake recipe)
1/8c  almond meal (finely ground almonds)
1/8c  flax meal (finely ground flax seed)
1tsp  vanilla extract.  (As the Barefoot Contessa says every single time she bakes, in her fabulous, condescending tone:  "a good quality vanilla"
1/2tsp  almond extract (I love this stuff!!)
1/2tsp  coconut extract
3/4 to 1c  water 

1/2Tbsp - 3 Tbsp coconut spread
1/4 - 1/2 a fresh pineapple, chopped
Organic Pure (AWESOME) maple syrup
Unsweetened shredded coconut, if you have any on hand.

Mix all batter ingredients except water together, then gradually add in water, while whisking, until batter reaches proper consistency.  The flax and almond meal soak up quite a bit of water, and it also depends if you like thin or thick pancakes.

Heat a griddle or large skillet to medium heat, add a pat of the coconut spread into the pan and let melt.
Ladle pancake batter.........ok, you know how to make pancakes, right? 

And yes. I like making giant pancakes, and attempting to flip them like a professional!

But, it doesn't always go as planned... (BLOOPERS REEL!!) Pile-o-mess. Oops!

Once golden brown, remove from pan, and plate with some coconut spread, chopped fresh pineapple and maple syrup (plus shredded coconut if you have it) !

Brew yourself a mug of Hawaiian roast coffee, go sit outside on the patio, basking in the sunshine, and it is just about as good as being on a tropical island getaway! ...I said almost as good, okay?

So There.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Updated Blog URL!... a la Elle Woods

I finally bought my own domain for this little blog! 

You will be re-directed anyway, but I can now be found at: 


 Thanks for all your support! I appreciate everyone so much for reading!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Greek Turkey and Veggie Meatballs with Feta and Quinoa

... plus lots of Quinoa Tips!
(Longest Title Ever.)

I don't eat very much meat, but I had a package of 99% lean ground turkey in my freezer, taking up space, and I really wanted to use it somehow.
I always buy it when it is on a good sale, (which is barely ever for the 99% lean, as opposed to the 93% lean) and toss it in the freezer.
So, where did I go for recipe inspiration? Pinterest, of course.

These turkey quinoa zucchini meatballs, from Dara at Cookin' Canuck looked right up my alley.

Photo Credit: Dara at Cookin' Canuck

Then, this feta stuffed turkey meatloaf with tzatziki sauce from Carolyn at All Day I Dream About Food, looked amazing, too, and I liked the Greek twist instead of Italian.

Photo Credit: Carolyn at All Day I Dream About Food

For these meatballs, I kind of combined these 2 recipes above and made up my own, but I will try and give you a recipe!

OK, so the only thing that makes these "Greek" is the feta cheese, haha, and also that I served them drizzled with Tzatziki sauce.

In a large mixing bowl, to one package of raw ground turkey I added:

1 cup of Cooked Quinoa  *notes below  (I use this as a substitute for breadcrumbs)
1 cup grated raw zucchini
1/2 onion, chopped finely
1/2 a bag of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (probably 1 cup, or more)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (Use 1 cup if you'd like. Live it up!)
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce (skip, if you don't have it)
1 tsp garlic
salt, pepper, whatever spices you like. I added some fresh dill.

I found with the moisture of the veggies and quinoa I did not need an egg to bind these together. You could add if you'd like.

I mixed everything together (oh, go ahead and just use your hands!) and formed into balls.

I put a few into a skillet with olive oil at a time and browned both sides, then dumped them into an oven safe dish and baked them the rest of the way through, until fully cooked.
(They might brown enough in just the oven, or cook through in just the pan on the stove, but I did both)

To keep a Greek theme (with the feta cheese) I served with a Tzatziki sauce (yogurt, dill, cucumber...I bought mine at Trader Joe's, but it also is super easy to make), but you could also put them into a tomato sauce, bbq sauce, or however you like.

They stay really moist because of the quinoa and veggies. Sometimes just straight lean turkey meatballs get really dry.

You could also make this into a meatloaf instead.

Speaking of freezing things, I made a ton (for this party of 1), and actually froze these. Now I can take out 3 or 4, toss them in the microwave, and have a super quick dinner! And even with microwaving them to reheat, they still stay moist!

*Notes about quinoa:
-I bought one of those fine mesh strainers (much smaller than a pasta colander, and before you cook the quinoa, vigorously rinse it under water in the strainer. They say it rinses off a bitter flavor.
-Then, put it in a sauce pan with a bit of olive oil and turn the stove heat to medium. Let the quinoa brown a little bit, kind of toast it, and then add the recommended amount of water and follow the package directions. (Bring up to boil, cover with lid, reduce heat and cook until all liquid is absorbed. Fluff with fork) The toasting is supposed to add more flavor.
-You can also try cooking it in chicken, beef, or vegetable broth instead of water.

-Or for a different type of flavor, more Middle Eastern, or for a totally separate oatmeal-type breakfast dish tomorrow morning!, you can cook it in coconut milk instead, too. (add Indian spices, or cinnamon, etc.)

For those hesitant about not liking quinoa, this is a great way to sneak it, and get all the health benefits, like protein, into a meal - you don't notice it much at all!

I also like to add quinoa into dishes that bake for additional time, with the cooked quinoa added to it, like adding cooked quinoa into stuffed bell peppers, stuffed mushrooms, a baked mac n cheese, instead of the pasta, or another baked Italian type casserole dish. It absorbs more moisture and flavor from cooking longer like that with other ingredients, and then it tastes even better, or you don't notice it's there.

But the flavor has really grown on me, and I like quinoa now as a substitute for rice, or as part of a vegetarian main dish. Try it!

So There!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Healthier Carrot Cake

OK, so the Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cream Pies were pretty amazing, right?
And perfect for bringing to a special occasion brunch.

But we can't just go around eating cookie and frosting sandwiches every day!
We can't. Trust me. I've tried.

So, enter trusty Mama Pea's healthier version of carrot cake!

See Recipe here:  Spectacular Carrot Cake  

A more healthful, with vegan options, cake, that is almost as delicious!

I love that she has you steam and puree the carrots, instead of just grating. They seem to add more moisture, and you don't have any crunchy carrot bits in your cake!

This was my first time experimenting with the flax "egg".  Per Mama Pea's instructions, you mix 1 Tbsp of ground flax seed meal with 3 Tbsp of water and set aside for a bit. It turns somewhat gelatinous, and works as a substitute for the eggs in the cake recipe. This ratio is equal to 1 egg.  (So you would do 3 Tbsp Flax and 9 Tbsp water to replace all 3 eggs in this recipe)

It really did seem to work! I like this alternative for three reasons.

1. Flax is a super health food, and if I can throw a little into my cake, then why not?

2. I rarely actually have eggs in my fridge, and when the mood strikes to bake a cake, and it does, it is nice to have an alternative. (Keep your nuts and flax seed in the fridge so they last longer).

3. And finally, without raw eggs, you can eat more of the cake batter off the spoon! There's the real reason ;)

Now, I will say, this more healthful cake wasn't quite the same. And the almond and flax meal do give it a much heartier texture. But, it was NOT. BAD!!

It helped that I still used real butter and cream cheese for the frosting  ;) 
But, I did substitute 100% organic pure maple syrup for all the sugar, and you could go further by using coconut products instead of the dairy.

Side note, have you guys tried 100% pure organic maple syrup?
NOTHING like Aunt Jemima, let me tell ya.
It has a much thinner consistency, and such a light, clean, pure taste.
Wow! yum!

I loved trying it as a sugar replacement in this cake recipe.

I am having fun experimenting with healthier baking options, like the almond flour, flax "egg", maple syrup, etc!
You should try it sometime!

So there.

Monday, April 1, 2013

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