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Archive for the ‘Condiments & Other’ Category

And so it is finally here. The 2012 Olympics!!!!!!

I love watching the Olympic games. Unfortunately everything else around me has to take a backseat during these weeks of competitions. The routine and organization around the house and my time keeping go out the window. In the morning you can tell which people in the subway and at work has been up all night watching the games.

In my house we have three teams to route for; Sweden, USA & of course S:t Lucia. It is great to have “choices”. But ultimately of course, I will sit and cheer for the Swedes. Sorry, but I have to do it.

I think there will be lot’s of “take outs” and “sandwich or non-cooked” dinners going on around the world.

Or, you could do as I do, prepare multiple meals ahead of time. I cook weekly meals and just pop them in the micro wave or the oven. It is all about speed & simplicity during sports events, right??

And, to make sure we last through our days, here are some home-made “Olympic Power bars” and some Trail mix for all of us.

Just a little note. I have used a whole lot of different berries, fruits and nuts in both the power bars and the trail mix. You really don’t have to do that. It is just that I have so many different kinds in the house that I have the luxury of using such a variety. For example, for the power bars It is just as good to only use raisins, oats and almonds if that is what you have at home.

Enjoy the games!! May all your favorite (or all the Swedes) win!!!

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Home made Power bars.

Makes about 14-18 bars.

1 c. old fashion oats.

1 c. dried fruits & berries. I used a mix of dried cranberries, bananas, pineapples, figs, blueberries & mangoes.

1 c. of chopped nuts. I used a mix of hazelnuts, raw cashews, pecans & almonds.

1/2 c. dried coconut flakes or shredded coconut.

1 tbsp. ground cinnamon.

2 tbsp. chopped Gojji berries. (This is not necessary, but I always have it in my food pantry so I used it.)

1/2 c. low or non-fat greek yoghurt.

1 tsp. ground ginger. Fresh or dried. (optional).

1/2 -1 egg (optional).

1-3 tbsp. good tasting honey. 

Dark chocolate (optional).

Directions;

Chop up nuts, fruits & berries. Add to a bowl. Mix in the coconut, honey, yoghurt, and all the rest of the ingredients.

If you add the egg, they become more chewy and dense and a little bit more “baked”. But, the egg keeps the bars better together.

I have made both with and without the egg. I actually prefer without.

Add the mixture to a parchment paper lined large pan. Spray the paper with cooking spray so it is easier to get it out after baking. Make sure to press the mixture down and distribute it well into corners all around.

Bake in a 350 degree oven (fahrenheit) for about 25-30 minutes, or until you see it is drying up very slightly at edges.

Take out of the pan and put on a cutting board. Cut perfect squares. Add them to a drying rack. Let the bars cool down and dry out a little.

If you would like to, melt some dark chocolate and dip one end of the bars into it. It looks really good and professional.

Well, that is really it. These bars are great to keep around the house.

Store them in air tight containers.

Enjoy!!!

Trail mix.

To make your own trail mix, you just need to mix nuts, dried fruits/berries & seeds together.

It is healthier if you use “raw” nuts. Not toasted.

Use any amount you would like too. Just remember to balance it with somewhat equal parts nuts and fruits/berries.

I used;

Dried mangoes, bananas, cranberries, apricots & blueberries. Cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds & sunflower seeds.

Cut up the dried fruits & berries if needed. Mix all of it together. Portion it into small “snack bags” for easy access for when you are “on the run” or just a big air tight container.

Enjoy!!

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Many things can be pickled.

Sometimes I have an urge of something sour/sweet/pickled.

The most common pickling at home would be the quick pickle. Super fast, super easy and super yummy.

You can make it just a little before the dinner is served or days before. I always have a jar with quick pickled cucumbers in the fridge.

When you run out of cucumbers in the jar, keep the pickling liquid and just add more cucumbers.

Quick pickled cucumbers.

1 cucumber.

Dill

1/2 hot pepper. Optional.

3 parts (for ex. 1 1/2 cup)  water.

2 parts ( for ex. 1 cup) sugar. I prefer brown sugar.

1 part (for ex. 1/2 cup) white vinegar.

Directions:

Add water, sugar and white vinegar into a bowl. Let the sugar dissolve. Add chopped dill and pepper. Wash the cucumber. Slice it very thin. If you have a mandolin, cheese slicer or shredder, use that, otherwise, just slice by hand. Add the slices to a big glass jar. Pour over the liquid so that it covers the cucumbers.

Ready to eat a little after it is made. I prefer for it to sit a couple of hours. A trick I learned during my catering days was that when doing regular pickles one can add some ice cubes into the liquid and jar. This makes the cucumbers crunchy.

You can pickle cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, you name it. Try out new ideas. Think Korean. They pickle anything and everything. Actually, in many arabic countries, they serve pickled veggies before or to the meal.

Enjoy.

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Go for the hot sauce!!!

My mother in law taught me how to do the best hot sauce ever.  She just never told me to wear rubber gloves and preferably not to touch the suckers!!   The first time I made hot sauce, I touched the suckers.

I didn’t have a food processor or blender at the time, so I hand chopped a whole big bag full of Habanero & Scotch Bonnet peppers. Great, some of the hottest kinds known to mankind… Half way through chopping, my left hand that held on to the peppers (while the right hand kept chopping), started to go a little numb. After a while it felt as if it was dead. I couldn’t almost move it. Since I wasn’t done with the chopping, I had to suffered through it .

All well that ends well. My hand was numb for almost a week and  I seriously thought I had damaged some nerves in my hand forever. But it got all well again. Thank god for that. So please, don’t chop massive amounts of hot peppers by hand!! All is well now and  I have become a “mean hot sauce making machine.”

Hot sauce can be varied after your own mood and tolerance.

If you don’t like the hot sauce to be very hot, use mild peppers or season peppers. You can also “calm it down” by adding regular sweet peppers.If you really like it hot, use any kind. I actually use a medley of anything and everything. Both hot and mild peppers.

There is a fantastic website     http://www.chileplants.com/    (Cross country Nurseries)  where I now buy most of my pepper plants. You decide the delivery time in the spring and they all come nicely boxed up. Very convenient I must say. They also sell eggplant & tomato plants.

I have a backyard where I grow lot’s of things in the summer. But you don’t have to have a backyard to be a great gardener, plant some in a container or a pot. Outside in the summer or inside in the winter.

Hot sauce.

2 cups of hot peppers (Any kind of your own choice)

1/2 cup of white vinegar.

2 tbsp dry herbs. (Any of your favorite kinds.)

1 tsp mustard. Dry or powder.

(My mother in law puts a little turmeric into her sauce for the color, but I don’t.)

1 tsp  of oil (I use olive oil or whatever I have in the house.)

1/2 tsp  of salt.

Pour all ingredients into a blender. (The blender makes it more smooth. A food processor makes it a little corse, but is ok.)

Blend all together well. A little longer if you are not sure. if it is done.  Make  sure it is smooth.

Poor into bottles or jars.

Optional;

1 tsp ground cinnamon or 1/2 tsp ground cardamom or 1/2 green mango, well chopped. Not at the same time though. You can vary your hot sauce as you want. Anything goes.

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