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My new favorite (carbonated) drink

July 31, 2014

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I love water. It’s pretty much all I drink. I don’t like to waste my calories and I’m not a fan of fake sweeteners.

However, I was recently introduced to Dry Soda by my friend Sarah and it’s become a new favorite treat! While visiting Sarah on a recent trip to Michigan, we stopped at Oryana Natural Foods Market in Traverse City and the Dry Soda was on sale. I picked up a four-pack of the vanilla bean at her recommendation and throughly enjoyed it.

I looked for it at some other stores, but couldn’t find it. However, I was shopping at Sprouts Farmers Market in Tulsa last night and ran across it again. It was on sale so the only flavors left were cucumber and lavender. They apparently make 11 flavors including juniper berry and rhubarb…interesting!

When I popped off the top, it reminded me of being back at the beach in Michigan…so refreshing and summery! A nice treat without being too indulgent.

The soda is called “dry” because it’s not as sweet as other sodas. It only has four ingredients, no sodium, no caffeine, and is low in calories and carbs (they range from 11-19 grams of sugar per 12-ounce bottle). In fact, the cucumber soda only has one weight watchers point plus for the whole 12-ounce bottle!

For a trip to the beach in a bottle, definitely worth it!

Moqueca (Brazilian Seafood Stew)

June 17, 2014

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For Father’s Day I made Josue his favorite dish, moqueca, a Brazilian seafood stew. He grew up on the coastline of northeastern Brazil in the state of Bahia, where seafood is always on the menu. Even though I grew up on the coastline of Lake Michigan, we didn’t eat that much fish growing up. I’ve acquired more of a taste for it as an adult, but I still wouldn’t call it my favorite food. HOWEVER…I love moqueca!

Josue’s mom makes a mean moqueca, so here’s my version of her recipe–just in time for the World Cup! It’s a pretty quick and easy dish to make. The only drawback is that it calls for dendê oil, a red palm oil, which we bring with us from Brazil. I don’t think there are any good substitutes for it. You could make it without it, and it would probably still be good, but it wouldn’t be a true Bahian moqueca. If you want to try it, you’ll have to come over for dinner. I’m sure Josue won’t mind!

Ingredients:

- 1 1/2 pounds white fish, thawed*
– 2 pounds deveined, uncooked shrimp, thawed*
– Kosher salt
– 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 large yellow onions, sliced in rings
– 1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced in rings
– 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced in rings
– 2 medium tomatoes.
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 3 to 4 tablespoons dendê oil
– 14-ounce can coconut milk
– 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
– 1 1/2 cups dry white rice, prepared (for serving)

*A note about the fish and shrimp: I usually use tilapia because it’s easy to find in land-locked Oklahoma, but I’ve seen several recipes that call for cod. I think the cod would stand up better to cooking; the tilapia has a tendency to break apart, but you can really use any variety of white fish. Also, I use large shrimp with the shells still on. My husband says that the shells, though a pain to take off while you’re eating, help trap the flavor of the dendê oil in the shrimp.

Directions:

Place the fish and shrimp in a large dish. Sprinkle the shrimp and both sides of the fish fillets liberally with salt; pour in the vinegar and add the minced garlic. Mix gently to coat the fish and shrimp. Place the dish in the refrigerator and allow it to marinate for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the onions thin (about 3/8-inch-thick) rings. (Don’t break the rings apart.) Remove the stem and seeds from the bell peppers and slice them into 3/8-inch-thick rings. Chop the tomatoes into 1/3- to 1/2-inch pieces.

Add the olive oil to a large, heavy skillet (I used a 12-inch iron skillet) and swirl the pan to coat the bottom. Place the onions  on the bottom of the pan, next to one another, so that the bottom of the pan is covered with the slices of onions. Layer on the fish, the bell peppers and the chopped tomatoes. Place a lid on the skillet and cook over medium-low or medium for about 10 minutes, or until the fish is almost cooked. Add the shrimp, place the lid back on, and continue cooking for 4 or 5 more minutes, until the shrimp is cooked. Add the coconut milk and the dende oil. Allow the stew to simmer, uncovered, for 5 to 7 minutes. Add additional salt to taste. Sprinkle with the cilantro.

We eat moqueca over white rice, topped with farofa. Farofa is made of farinha de manioca, a coarse meal made from manioc (tapioca) root. The farinha is toasted in a skillet (I usually add salt and diced onions to mine). Eating it with moqueca helps to soak up the liquid from the stew.

moqueca

Apple Pecan Bran Muffins

January 24, 2012

For those still holding fast to new year’s resolutions to lose weight or just eat healthier in 2012 — you can do it! And you can enjoy these healthy apple bran muffins. Natalie and I made them yesterday and they are surprisingly good. Josue even liked them — a lot! I found the recipe on the Weight Watchers website. For those counting, they have 4 PointsPlus per muffin.

I made a few adaptations to the recipe. It calls for walnuts, but I had pecans on hand and I toasted the nuts first (something I always do to enhance their flavor). I didn’t have fat free buttermilk so I added a tablespoon of cider vinegar to a cup measure and filled the rest of the cup with skim milk. And I subbed olive oil for the canola oil which gave them a nice flavor. I used all-purpose flour, as the recipe called for. Next time, I will try replacing half of the all-purpose with whole white wheat flour (which has a milder flavor than the typical red whole wheat).

I hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

Apple Pecan Bran Muffins
Adapted from Weight Watchers website
Yields 12 muffins – 4 Weight Watchers PointsPlus each

  • 3 T pecans
  • 5 T brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.25 c. bran flakes
  • 1 c. fat free buttermilk
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T molasses
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. wheat germ
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 apple
Preheat the oven to 375. Grease a muffin pan.
Chop the pecans into small pieces and toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the skillet often so the nuts don’t burn. Carefully place 1 T. of the toasted nuts in a small bowl, along with 1 T of the brown sugar and set it aside.
In a large bowl, combine the remaining 4 T. of brown sugar, the eggs, bran flakes, buttermilk, oil and molasses. Allow the mixture to stand for about 5 minutes. In the meantime, in a medium bowl, mix the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Peel the apple and shred it into a small bowl, using a grater. Discard the core.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Add the shredded apple and the remaining 2 T of nuts and mix.
Spoon the mixture into the greased muffin pan and sprinkle the brown sugar and nut topping over the top. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Fall = Time For Homemade Applesauce!

October 3, 2011

One of my favorite things about fall is making applesauce. Canning homemade applesauce has been a family tradition as long as I can remember. Growing up with my grandparents, we had 50 acres of apple trees in our backyard. We didn’t maintain the orchard, so the apples weren’t always pretty, but they were perfect for cooking, baking and canning. Every fall we spent at least a day picking the apples, cooking them into sauce and canning enough for the year ahead.

To this day, I can’t bring myself to buy the bland, overly sweet, store-bought stuff because homemade applesauce tastes so much better. Try it and see for yourself! Homemade applesauce also has a pretty, pinkish color because you cook the apples with their peels on.

If you don’t have an apple orchard in your backyard, ask your local orchard for their seconds. They’ll be a lot cheaper and they’ll work great for applesauce.

No-Sugar-Added Homemade Applesauce
Yields approximately 1 quart

  •  6 pounds apples*
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)

Quarter the apples. It’s not necessary to peel or core them. (The seeds have a small amount of cyanide in them so you can remove them if you want. We never did and from what I’ve read, it’s not necessary.) Add enough water to a large pot to just cover the bottom. Add the cinnamon stick and the apples and cover the pot. Cook over medium-low heat for approximately 30 minutes, until the apples are very soft. Place a food mill over a large bowl. Run the apples through the mill. The mill will push the applesauce into the bowl and prevent the skins and seeds from getting into the sauce.

*The secret to a really good applesauce is to use a variety of apples. Use apples that are naturally sweet and you won’t need to add sugar. Some good choices include McIntosh, Gala, Fuji, Jonathan, Pink Lady and Winesap.

Recipes Inspired By The Farmer’s Market

August 17, 2011

I love going to the farmer’s market – being outside and seeing the colorful variety of fresh produce, bread, meats, eggs and spices. I can hardly wait to get home and cook. Plus, everything is grown in Oklahoma, so it tastes so good! One thing I enjoy about the Cherry Street Farmer’s Market in Tulsa in particular is the diversity of the vendors whose products reflect their cultures. Lemongrass, Thai basil, Thai eggplant … I can’t even find these items in the grocery store!

In early July, I was planning for my August Oklahoma Eats page and I decided I’d write recipes that feature farmer’s market ingredients. What better way to be inspired than to visit the farmer’s market?

When we arrived, the first thing we did was get a breakfast burrito. If you’re ever at the Cherry Street Farmer’s Market, you have to try the breakfast burrito from Pare (which is usually at the corner of Quaker and 15th). It’s a spinach wrap filled with eggs, veggies and turkey sausage – so good! Even Natalie loves it!

Here are some of the other sights from our trip the market:

After walking up and down the street to check out all of the produce, I decided tomatoes and garlic would be perfect early-August ingredients to feature. The result was this pasta dish, which relies on fresh garlic and tomatoes; as well as two types of bruschetta – one with fresh tomatoes, basil, onions and garlic and the other with fresh goat cheese, homemade pesto and toasted pine nuts (I’ll post the recipes soon!). The pasta dish was so good that I’ve made it four times in the last month and a half! Don’t let the anchovies scare you — it doesn’t taste fishy at all!

Linguine with Tomatoes, Anchovies and Capers

Serves 4-6

  • 4 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ounces anchovies
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup capers (drained)
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup toasted breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While it’s heating, add the sliced garlic and 4 tablespoons of the olive oil to a large skillet. Cook the garlic over medium heat for about a minute. Add the anchovies to the pan and cook until they melt into the olive oil. Add the red pepper flakes and capers and continue to cook. After a couple minutes, add 2 cups of the boiling water to the skillet. Next, add the tomatoes to the skillet and bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until it’s not quite done. Using tongs, carefully transfer the pasta into the skillet with the sauce. Add another cup of water to the skillet and increase heat to medium-high. Cook for a couple more minutes until the sauce reduces a bit. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive and toss the pasta with tongs. Serve immediately, topped with toasted breadcrumbs, parsley and grated cheese.

Ricotta Cheese – So Easy A Toddler Can Make It!

July 26, 2011

Ricotta cheese isn’t something I always keep on hand. When I want to make pasta, pizza, or a dessert with the cheese, it used to go on my grocery list. However, with a toddler in the house, I always have an abundant supply of whole milk. I recently discovered how easy it is to make fresh homemade ricotta with whole milk. It takes less than 10 minutes of work (plus an hour to drain the cheese) and I think the flavor is better than the store-bought stuff!

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup white vinegar or lemon juice
  • cheesecloth
  • 1 toddler (optional)

Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a bowl. Add all of the ingredients to a 4-cup liquid measure and stir. Heat in the microwave for about 4 minutes, until the milk is simmering but not boiling and the solids in the milk start to separate from the liquids.

Pour the mixture into the prepared colander and allow it to drain for about an hour. After an hour, the whey will have separated from the curds. What’s left in the cheesecloth is your ricotta.

Use it in lasagna, pizza, ice cream, cheesecake, or just grab a handful and enjoy!

The Easiest Blackberry Cobbler Ever

July 5, 2011

Easy Blackberry Cobbler

The other day I walked into the grocery store to quickly grab something – I don’t remember what. On my way to get whatever it was, I saw a sign for blackberries – $1/pint. At first I didn’t believe it, but I went and checked it out and it was for real. Then I assumed that they were probably rotten, but they weren’t. My lucky day! Even though I didn’t come for blackberries, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stock up on one of my favorite early summer fruits. With one of the pints, I made this very easy and delicious blackberry cobbler. Even Josue, who doesn’t normally like blackberries, loved it. The recipe can be adapted for any fruit; I’ve made it with peaches, pears, and blueberries. It’s also great for entertaining because you probably have all the ingredients on hand and it goes together quickly.

Blackberry Cobbler with Browned Butter

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ t. baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 pint blackberries

Preheat the oven to 350. Place a stick of butter into a 9 x 13 pan. Heat the butter in the oven until it’s melted and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. While the butter is melting, mix the flour, sugar and baking powder in a medium bowl. Whisk in the milk. Once you remove the pan from the oven, pour the batter into the pan, but don’t mix. Sprinkle the blackberries over top of the batter. Bake the cobbler for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick insert into the center comes out clean and the cobbler is lightly browned on top.

Cobbler with fresh blackberries

Blackberry cobbler

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