Friday, August 5, 2011

Leftover Mashed Potatoes?

Came across this recipe in the mini magazine "Food." It was super easy and super perfect (even though I couldn't eat it. Scott had seconds!

Simple Potato Gnocchi

2 1/2 pounds potatoes (or roughly 3 -4 cups leftover mashed)
coarse salt
1 3/4 cups flour
1 large egg

Boil potatoes til soft, then run (peeled) through a ricer. [Note: I have no ricer, so I pushed the mashed potatoes through a colander; worked perfectly.] Sprinkle potatoes with flour and salt, then make a well and top with egg. With your hands, work it all together into a dough. Knead about 4 minutes, adding flour as needed (no pun intended). Divide into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope (about 1/2 inch thick) and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Place gently onto parchment paper. Boil a pot of water and place a few handfuls of gnocchi into water until they rise to the top, about 2 minutes. Place straight into sauce (or onto a rimmed baking sheet). Can be frozen on baking sheet then placed in a bag for up to a month (or whatever).


Monday, August 1, 2011

PB&J Smoothie!

Well, I didn't mean for it to be a peanut butter n jelly taste, but it works!

So breakfasts have been a little difficult for me lately. I've gone mostly off cheese, in addition to milk, yogurt, gluten, and oats (which I hear are gluten-free unless contaminated in the field. And they are almost always contaminated). This leaves my morning meal options pretty limited. Granted, I have some gluten-free bread that I could use for pbj, but I don't like having sandwiches too often. Kinda feels like cheating. Plus the bread is pretty processed, and I want to stay less so. So smoothies have been my go-to meal in the morning. It helps that Ness took all my soft white peaches that I had picked, and she sliced and froze them all. Thanks, Ness! I don't keep all that much frozen fruit on hand otherwise, but since I've had a small selection my smoothies have been, um, fun. Here's what I did this morning:

PBJ Smoothie

1 cup frozen peach slices
3/4 cup frozen strawberries
3/4 cup zucchini (it was available. what the heck.)
1/3 cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
juice (I used 100% black cherry)

I had to add a little water to mine while it was blending because it was so thick. I don't like putting too much juice in because of the sugars, even though it's all natural sugar. I realized halfway through my first glass (this makes 1 1/2 big ones) that it really does taste like peanut butter and jelly. I may have to do this again! Happy smoothieing.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Quinoa Tip

Heard this one from Ness, and it sure makes a lot of sense. Anytime you make rice, add 1/2 to 1 cup of quinoa. Sneaky way to get the kids eating something with super protein in it!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Poached Eggs and Pizza Dough

Not together, of course. First, the pizza dough.

Recipe first. Why, and what I did, after.
Pizza Dough
(makes 2 large, or 6 calzones)

4 cups flour (any)
1 tsp salt

1 1/2 c. warm water, divided
1/3 c. honey
1 package yeast

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Dissolve honey in 1/2 c. hot water. Once dissolved, add 1/4 c. cold water and yeast. Stir to dissolve yeast and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until yeast has become foamy. In standing mixer place flour and salt. Using dough mixer, turn on to stir. Add yeast water and olive oil. Increase speed to knead the dough once flour is mixed in. Knead in mixer for 5-10 minutes. Remove, form balls of dough to suit your recipe (i.e. 2 equal balls for 2 large pizzas). Let rise for 30 minutes to an hour. When ready to form your pizzas, shape the dough into flat rounds with your hands. Do NOT use a rolling pin.

Okay, so now for my secrets. I made some calzones a couple days ago using this recipe. I had to write down exactly what I did because my dough has never turned out so soft and pliable. It stretched easily but didn't tear, and it was like holding a pillow of squishy foam (but better tasting, I'm sure).

First, I had to double the original recipe, so I actually did the whole thing with only 3/4 cups of water before I realized I needed to add more water. At this point, I had turned the mixer on and the first 3/4 cups had already been incorporated into the flour. So I just measured out another 3/4 cups of cold water and poured it in. The dough became a ball pretty quickly and the mixer started the kneading process. I let it knead for 5 minutes and then removed it. It felt almost sticky, but not quite. Definitely not dry. I didn't add anymore flour for the shaping process. I just kneaded it by hand for another 20 seconds or so, then made a log and cut out 6 rolls. Placed them on a wooden cutting board and covered them with a kitchen towel for at least a half hour. It was probably closer to an hour, but they had doubled in size. They I shaped them, and like I said, the dough was unbelievably soft and pliable. There was no need to even toss it in the air. It stretched like it was designed to become a calzone.

Note on the flour: I usually grind my own wheatberries, but I ran out a while back and haven't gotten anymore. So I've been using the King Arthur's Bread Flour from the store. It's the least processed (I think) and the softest by far. It's the one in the white and blue bag. I'll definitely try this recipe with my own flour, though. I have a feeling it'll still turn out awesome.


I made some breakfast this morning using a potato/onion saute I made yesterday. I cooked up some yellow squash for about 10 minutes, then added half a diced tomato and a couple small green chiles with some italian seasoning and salt. Then I put the two together (potato and squash) and topped it with two poached eggs.

I've never cooked my own poached eggs before, so I checked out a couple youtube videos. I used the Australian guy's technique, and the eggs turned out great. He says they cook for about 10 minutes, but I made my with a wet yolk and only cooked them for about 1-2 minutes each. I have a feeling I'll be poaching eggs more often. How do you like your eggs?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Beloved Quinoa

I should do some kind of ode to quinoa (keen-wah), but I'm not feeling especially poetic right now. Just excited about this peach crumble that Shaenee and I have been working on. That girl is an amazing little chef!

Okay, so some of you know that I have taken myself off of all wheat flour. I was exclusively gluten-free until I found out that I could eat oats with minimal-to-no effect on my body. This is probably because oats do not actually contain gluten; they become contaminated by sharing crop space with wheat. Anyway, what wheat gluten does to my body is a little funky. Aside from causing exhaustion and shortness of breath, it does something with my mood. I still don't quite know how or why, but when I have even the smallest amount of it, I become short-tempered, angry, and unbelievably frustrated. It's not good. So my motivation to keep away from the thing is pretty high.

So my peaches are all very ripe. And I have a lot on my tree. I did a short search online and found a recipe for an oat-and-quinoa peach crumble. YUM! Here's the site: NY Times blog

I'm at Vanessa's house, so I cleaned out the flour mill and threw in some quinoa to grind. It made some terrific quinoa flour, which is part of the crumble topping. I won't write down the recipe because it's already in the link above. Shae and I just tasted the cooked crumble topping and OH-MY-GOODNESS it is yummy. Slightly nutty, buttery, oaty sweetness. Gonna cook the peach filling next, then add the crumble. I think we're having that for lunch. Oh, I would recommend doubling the topping recipe, tho. It didn't make nearly enough for how good it is.

So if you want to make the best peach crumble ever, I recommend this recipe....

Okay, okay, here it is, copied and pasted. (I didn't add blueberries)

2 1/2 pounds peaches or nectarines, sliced (about 2 quarts sliced fruit)

1 cup blueberries

2 tablespoons mild honey or dark agave nectar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 batch quinoa-oat crumble topping

1. In a large bowl, mix together the peaches or nectarines, blueberries, honey or agave nectar, cinnamon, vanilla and almond extract. Cover and let sit for one to two hours, in or out of the refrigerator.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a two-quart baking dish. Scrape the fruit and all of the juice in the bowl into the baking dish. Set the baking dish on a baking sheet for easier handling, and place in the oven. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until the fruit is bubbling and the liquid syrupy. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool if desired.

3. About 30 minutes before serving, spread the crumble topping over the fruit mixture in an even layer. Bake 20 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is nicely browned. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: Serves eight.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Food blog

I'm thinking about starting a food blog. Knowing that I don't like to follow typical protocols, this won't look much like the "normal" food blog. I just want to write about the weird stuff that comes out of my kitchen and is sometimes surprisingly good. This usually happens with my lunch items. Scott isn't too experimental with food, so he gets the run-o-the-mill meals like chicken marsala, steak, etc. etc. etc. Tonight was turkey and cranberry sandwiches on homemade bread. I just cooked up a turkey last night so I could use the meat for a couple meals this week. Scott saw the turkey and craved the sandwich. So be it. He's such a wonderful food critic. I'd say I get rave reviews between 90 and 95% of the time. Cool. Keeps me motivated.

I decided a couple days ago that I should try and calculate the amount of time I spend in the kitchen in a given day. Let's try. Okay, I wake up and go to the kitchen to make the girls something for breakfast. And clean up. And then I feed them and toss something around for myself to eat. Then there's a good 1 to 2 hours before Scott wakes up. So I make him breakfast and his cappuccino. Then I usually hang around in there processing some veggies or making bread or planning a lunch (cuz the girls are getting hungry again). And cleaning. Then I make lunch for the girls. The I feed them and make something for myself. Between all this kitchen time is the typical day stuff. And after lunch is naptime! I sleep too, once the house is presentable. After naptime, dinner begins. Whether it's planning out a meal or defrosting meat or marinading something, I'm in the kitchen. Plus, I'm a little hungry. Geez, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen! Dinner is ready, we eat, I clean. Then after the girls are in bed, dessert or popcorn or something. *sigh* Good think I love to cook.

K, so a couple of my sisters have asked me for my potato salad recipe. Must be the summer thing going on. Here's what I do:

Cook some little potatoes in boiling water, skin on, for about 15-20 minutes. Then drain in colander, place colander in bowl and cover with cloth. Let steam for another 15-20. This gives them a great consistency. Place in bowl, and add roughly 1/2-1 cup mayo, 1 tsp mustard (dijon works), salt and pepper to taste, and half a tsp semi-crushed dill seeds (I crush mine by hand). Mix it up, smash up some of the potatoes. Eat warm or chill. Yummy.

Gotta love it!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I'll be teaching in the Fall. First time ever. My mind is so full of details that I can't find rest during the day. I guess this is a good thing. I don't really need to rest during the day. I just have to write some things out or I'll go crazy.

So first of all, I can't believe I actually got this job. I mean, they hadn't even posted the part-time pool anywhere other than on their website, and it was mere chance that got me the interview. All I did was send in an inquiry with my resume, and they scheduled me to come in! Around the time of the interview all the stuff happened with Medi-Cal, so Scott started talking about changing jobs. He applied at the State Hospital in Atascadero, and we felt so sure that they would interview him and he would get the job. This meant our family would relocate; renting out our house; me finding some kind of employment on the coast, etc. etc. My mind wasn't on Merced. I almost skipped the interview. But I decided that it was a great opportunity for me to experience a Community College interview process, something I was nervous about anyway. So the day before, I threw together some materials and planned a 15 minute teaching demonstration. I also ran over to Goodwill to find an outfit for the interview on the day of! Talk about last-minute planning. Anyway, the interview came and went. I thought it went well for the most part, but I wasn't really stressing about it, because I figured that if they offered me the job I might have had to turn it down. That weekend we discovered that the hiring process at the State Hospital was going to take much longer than we had originally anticipated. On Tuesday, Merced College offered me a position in the part-time pool, with a fall class in Delhi (just north of Atwater by 15 minutes). I took it, not sure what in the world God was doing. Well, the opportunities have not stopped for me since then. Scott has settled into GHC a bit, not feeling like every day could be his last. And I'm now looking at teaching 2 classes, with an hour in the study hall for the fall. Holy cow! This is like one of those doors that I just happened to walk up to, knock on, and have it fly open. I guess God does that sometimes. Not a first for me. :o)

Okay, so the Monday/Wednesday class is English 1A, which is critical composition and reading. Cool. Just got my possible book list today to choose from, and I picked 4:

Lies My Teacher Told Me
The Latehomecomer
Holy Land

I'm so jazzed about these books, because they're designed to lead the students into some serious critical thinking about life and our habits as students. The assumptions we make based on our education. Things we're taught not to think about. So now my mind is racing with all kinds of teaching ideas. Lesson plans. Activities. Presentations. I almost feel sorry for my students because of all the work they're going to be doing, but I hope and pray that we're able to build an active community of trust. That's the pot that everything will cook in.

The second class is a Tuesday/Thursday, and it's a reading comprehension class. Sentence to paragraph writing stuff, and basic understanding of literature. Most of these students will be fresh out of ESL, so I have no idea what to anticipate with the curriculum. The closest I've come to teaching this kind of stuff is with the Cullinan Education Center where I was a tutor for ages 5-12. I have a teaching orientation for this class, but I don't know much about it yet.

All this, plus I still have to make sure my graduation clears at Stan State, and I have to go somewhere to have my TB test cleared. Ugh! And then there's tomorrow. Ness and kids are coming over (so glad!!), and I'm hanging with her three and my two tomorrow in 100+ weather in Atwater. Meanwhile, Chrissie will be having a baby in the morning while I'm home (aaahhh!!). Friday will be kinda mellow, Saturday a day trip to San Francisco, and Monday to Fresno to see the Millers at home!

I have to work on my syllabi, my course calendars, my materials, and summer stuff with the family. We go camping next weekend. I think that's the most crucial bit of planning I need to do. If I can just get up to the mountains, things will be sooooo much better. Fresh mountain air, chilly nights and mornings, messy hair and clothes, campfires and eating outside, hiking, picnic lunches, sitting by May Lake. Ooh, the May Lake hike sounds awesome. I think that's where I need to rest my mind.

BLT's for dinner tonight. I'll be having mine sans bread. And now I think I can slow it down a little bit.