Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pysanky Part 2

Pysanky from previous years

Happy Easter!  Below are some pysanky, Polish Easter eggs, I decorated this week for Easter.  It is a Polish Easter tradition to decorate eggs with bee's wax and dye.  However, I was disappointed that after laboring over these eggs the color did not stick. 

Today at church I spoke to other pysanky decorators and learned that: 1.) Dziadziu and I might need newer dye and 2.) we should wash the eggs with vinegar before applying the wax designs.  Next time I am willing to try farm-fresh eggs instead of store-bought ones because all the finished eggs had two-rings around them.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Mushroom and Kale Soup

M and I have been on a soup-kick this winter/early spring and this one was AMAZING!  We had leftover mushrooms from some previous dishes, like our chicken fried rice and Tom Kha Gai, so we included them in this one-pot meal.  I was inspired to make mushroom and kale soup after I sampled it at a recent yoga workshop and also from reading this blog

We included: straw mushrooms, dried mushrooms - which we re-hydrated, shiitake mushrooms, 2 bay leaves, a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, 1 can of beef broth, 1 beef bouillon cube, 1 can of water, butter, olive oil, chopped kale, onions, carrots, celery, and about a 1/4 cup of coconut milk at the end. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Beet and Pepita Seed Salad with a Grapefruit Dressing

Mill City Tavern Beet Salad

Last summer M and I had a layover in Minnesota; we ate at the Mill City Tavern at the airport.  I had their roasted beet salad which was my inspiration for this afternoon's salad.  Theirs included pepita or pumpkin seeds, cherries, winter squash, yogurt dressing, and microgreens.  I omitted the squash (see below) and substituted dried cranberries for the cherries, and made my own citrus dressing. 

My Beet and Pepita Seed Salad with a Grapefruit Dressing

Earlier this week I made pumpkin muffins and while the oven was on, I roasted four beets (chopped into bite-size pieces) for about an hour at 350 degrees.  Then I placed them in the fridge to cool.  Today I tossed one 10 ounce package of watercress (also known as microgreens), 1 ounce of pepita seeds, a few handfuls of dried cranberries, and of course the roasted beets in a large Polish pottery bowl with a homemade grapefruit dressing.  I crumbled some goat cheese on the side and let folks add their own cheese to the tossed beet salad.  I didn't want the soft cheese to stick to the bowl or turn pink from the beets.  I had hoped to include roasted butternut squash, like the Mill City recipe, but the squash was soggy when I removed it from the package. 

For the grapefruit dressing, I whisked the following ingredients together:
about 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

My family all seemed to enjoy this salad - even some of the finicky eaters. The dressing was super yummy - I will definitely make it again for this beet salad and use it for other tossed salads.  It was similar to this dressing.  Also I would like to make a yogurt dressing for this beet and pepita seed salad similar to the Mill City one.  My family thought baby spinach or arugula would work instead of the watercress and I concur. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ground Turkey Shepherd's Pie

I can't even tell you how long this post has been a draft on my blog.  We have made this recipe at least three times since Thanksgiving.  Each time we make it, we gobble it up BEFORE I get a chance to take a photograph.  Well this post is finally ready. 

It was originally a Rachael Ray recipe, which we tweaked.  We do not use the broth or the banana.  When we used the broth it was too watery, and in our opinion, the ripe banana makes this dish too sweet for dinner.  We add corn and peas, several dashes of hot sauce, and a handful of whatever cheese we have on hand to the potatoes.  M and I also add sour cream and cream cheese to the sweet potatoes, like in our party potatoes.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pysanky Part 1

Today Dziadziu and I began working on our pysanky, or Polish Easter eggs.  To design our eggs, we carefully dip the head of a sewing pin into hot bee's wax.  We let the wax dry and harden.  In the upcoming days we will dye the eggs in various colors and then put the eggs into a warm oven to remove the wax.  Finally we will wipe the eggs with an old towel to remove any excess wax. 

Dziadziu has been making pysanky for decades and I have only dabbled in it for the past few years.  It is unclear if Dziadziu's mother - my great grandmother - learned this Easter tradition in her village in Poland or here in the US. 

The above photo shows Dziadziu's eggs from previous years. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Yesterday, in honor of St. Patrick's Day, we boiled corned beef, potatoes, carrots, and cabbage.  It was super yummy with a side of Irish soda bread from our local market. 

We bought the corned beef - all ready seasoned from Trader Joe's - and boiled it in a large stock pot for about 3 hours and 35 minutes.  Around the 3 hour mark, we added the chopped potatoes and peeled carrots.  After about 20 minutes, we removed the potatoes and carrots and added the wedges of cabbage. The beef and cabbage cooked together for the last 15 minutes.  Before eating, we added butter and salt to the veggies.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Green Monster Juice

Who said you have to drink alcohol on St. Patrick's Day?  I was inspired by this Halloween treat months ago, which I never made, and thought I could transform the monster into an all fruit and veggie Green Monster Juice for St. Patrick's Day; it would also be perfect for Halloween. 

For this juice you'll need:

1 cup frozen mango
1 red apple, chopped
1 banana, split in half
several handfuls of baby spinach
handful of flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cucumber, chopped with the skin on
2-3 tablespoons of chia seeds
1-2 cups of water (depending on desired consistency)
optional - few teaspoons of honey - if your banana is not ripe or extra ripe

4 clear plastic disposable cups and Sharpie to design your monster cups

1. Create monster faces on your clear plastic disposable cups with a Sharpie.  Set aside.

2. In a blender, add frozen mango, apple, banana, spinach, cucumber, parsley, chia seeds, and honey (optional).  Start by adding about 1 cup of water and liquify all ingredients.

3. Depending on the consistency, you may want to add more water. 

4. Pour Green Monster juice into your monster cups. 

Happy St. Patty's Day!  Cheers!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Looking for a smooth and creamy roasted red pepper hummus recipe? Stop here.  Earlier this week M made this hummus and everyone was RAVING about it!  It was well-blended, rich, and so much better than store-bought hummus. 

This recipe yields about 3 cups.

You'll need:
3 cloves of garlic, lightly sauteed or roasted 
2 roasted red peppers, skinned, seeded, and diced 
about 15 ounces of  tahini paste
3/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
2 cans of chickpeas
1 can of white kidney beans
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

1. In a food processor, blend the tahini and lemon juice until smooth and fluffy.  Add the cooled garlic and red pepper.  Blend lightly. 

2. Add a teaspoon of salt. 

3. Slowly add the beans into the food processor as you gradually drizzle in olive oil, water, and a bit more salt until the taste and consistent is to your liking.  Stop and check often. 

4. Place in a serving dish and chill in the fridge.  Before you are about to serve this dip, make an indent in the middle and fill with extra virgin olive oil.  Serve with pita bread and veggies.  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Beet Juice

What a beautiful drink!  This was not M's favorite juice.  He stated that it was not sweet enough and "too much like a garden."  However, I made enough for four servings and enjoyed this juice for a few days (I stored the remaining juice in the fridge in a stainless-steel mug because beets tend to stain things like plastic).  I especially like the red-purple color - I am also a borscht fan - and beets have so many wonderful healing properties.   Did you know that beets are high in fiber and vitamins A, B, and C, not to mention they cleanse the body, calm the mind, and help to lower your blood pressure? Read more beet benefits here.

Serving size 4

In our blender I added:
4 small beets, softened
beet juice (if any)*
a handful of the beet leaves, chopped
1 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 apples,chopped
small bunch of mint
1 to 1.5 cups of water
1 cup of orange juice

1. Remove the outer covering of the beets with a carrot peeler.  Using a fork, poke holes in the beets and place in a microwave-safe dish.  Steam for a few minutes in the microwave, or until tender.  I checked ours every 30 seconds. Carefully remove beets from the microwave. Once the beets are cooled, chop into smaller pieces. Save any beet juice. 

2. In a blender, add cooled beets, beet leaves, carrot, apple, mint, water, orange juice, and beet juice.*  Liquify in your blender and enjoy!

*NOTE - If there is any beet juice from microwaving the beets, you can add to your blender too. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Chicken Fried Rice

The Passion Pit song "Take A Walk" is playing in my head as I write the post because instead of taking a walk, yesterday M and I bought a wok.  "We bought a wok..."

M made a yummy chicken fried rice with fresh veggies in our new cooking vessel.  He found a tutorial here.

We gathered and prepped our fresh ingredients (the tutorial shows frozen veggies).  It took longer to prep everything than it did to cook our fried rice in our Anolon 12" Wok with a copper bottom. 

We used:
2 eggs
2 chicken breasts, chopped
1/2 orange pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
baby bok choy, a few ounces chopped
1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1/2 can straw mushrooms 
1 small can of water chestnuts
1 cup white rice, cooked
fish sauce
Hoisin sauce
soy sauce
corn starch


1. Marinate the chicken pieces in sugar, corn starch, fish sauce, and soy sauce.  Set aside.

2. Once all the ingredients are prepped, fry the eggs in the wok with a dash of sesame oil. Do not cook all the way through.  Remove from the wok and set aside for later.

3. Add a bit more sesame oil and cook the chicken.  Once cooked, remove from the wok and set aside for later.

4. Add more oil and cook the onion, garlic, and ginger until translucent.  Next add all other veggies, chicken, egg, and white rice.  Then add Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, and fish sauce to taste. Blend all the ingredients together.  Enjoy!

Note - next time we'll add green onions/scallions.  We made fresh white rice, but from what we read, day-old rice is best.