Thursday, February 24, 2011

Google Rolls Out New Search Tool for Recipes

Google Rolls Out New Search Tool for Recipes

This is going to make searching for recipes easier. Typically, when I develop a new recipe I search through quite a few. I narrow it down to the top 3-4 and then develop a recipe from that. Since I'm trying to avoid some ingredients (e.g., dairy), I can simply check 'no.' I tried this with Chicken Biryani which is typically made with yogurt. By check 'no' for yogurt I was able to find recipes without. This makes search a lot easier. Of course google can really fine tune some advertising from this. If I continually check 'no' to dairy, I'll be more likely to find non dairy ads.  

You can also check 'yes' for some ingredients.  For example, I searched for french silk pie and I checked 'yes' for tofu.  So I got the non dairy versions.

This will really help with recipe search/development.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Love Italian Seitan, no exorcism needed

A quick white wine sauce pasta

Seitan is a wheat/soy based  ‘vegetarian meat.’  Often used by Buddhists (mock duck), Japan, and other Asian cuisines as well as with the macrobiotic movement in the U.S.  If you can’t have wheat in your diet, the other alternatives are of course the sausage or a really well prepared tofu (not straight out of the package).  Seitan is not fattening or artery clogging and it is a lot easier to prepare than sausage.  I think it will be one of my ‘convenience foods.’  I included the label at the end of this blog so you can see the nutrition information.  Italian Sausage style seitan is available at Whole Foods.  I don’t recall if it is available at Woodman’s or not. 

My diet is not vegetarian or vegan, but I’m beginning to like this Italian Sausage style seitan more than Italian sausage.  Italian sausage has great seasonings and texture.  For years I’ve made slowly simmered pasta sauces with it Italian sausage.  Usually, for Italian sausage, I would crumble it and fry out the fat and then add to whatever dish I was making.   I’m finding that I can get that great flavor (without the fat) in my sauces when I use this Italian Sausage Style Seitan.  I am actually beginning to like it more because its texture is more a la dente than the sausage texture.  It is also much faster to prepare than the sausage.  I don’t have to plan ahead (defrost or buy fresh) and I don’t need to spend time frying out the grease.  It is also a great substitute for people who chose not to eat meat or even pork.

Here is a quick pasta recipe that I threw together in no time.  I got a late start with dinner today and didn’t have time for a long preparation. 

For this dish I love the way the seitan works its way into the little shells


16 oz of Conchieglie –shell shaped (I prefer organic-seems to taste more robust-but not a requirement)
½ c. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. dried basil (if fresh is not available)
1.5 tsp. or dried oregano (if fresh is not available)
1 cup white wine (I used Gato Negro Sauvignon Blanc 2010 from Chile-reasonably priced for cooking)
½ cup soup stock (if not vegan, then chicken, if vegetarian-than vegetable, I use organic free range soup stock 9if fresh is not available)
6 cloves of garlic mashed (or chopped in a food processor)
2 yellow peppers diced
about a medium head of brocolli or 2/3 head of large on with flowerets chopped off
Note:  you can add or substitute other vegetables-this is what I had on hand today and given all the ice we have ,  I was not in the mood to go out grocery shop

Heat olive oil and start sautéing the broccoli flowerets on medium heat. 
Sauté for approximately 5 minutes
Add the diced yellow peppers-sauté for about 3-4 minutes
Add chopped garlic and sauté for another minute
Crumble the seitan and sauté for a couple of minutes
Add white wine and bring to a boil
Add stock
Simmer opened for about 5-8 minutes

Prepare the pasta in the meantime (this dish is easy , so I multitasked)

Stir pasta into the sautéed mixture.  Make sure it is blended well.  The seitan and sauce will work their way into the shells.

I mostly improvise my recipes, so if you want to vary this with other vegetables, it should work fine.

The sauce is very light and tasty (not oily).  I really like the flavor of this sauce and it combines nicely with the vegetables.  No flavor dominates.  I've had people insist that this dish has Italian sausage. They only believe me (sort of) when I show them the package of Italian Sausage seitan.

Our bodies can tell the difference between sausage and seitan

the sauce and seitan work their way into the shells

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Days and Hearts

Broken hearts like this are good

Although I like to go out for quiet dinners, I don’t ignore my children for this day.

Some say it’s a Hallmark holiday…some go all out for this.  I view it as another day to make others feel somewhat special.
This year I got to go out on Sunday and with Valentine’s Day being a Monday (work day) it seemed better to stay home and celebrate.
After a long day at work (along with my long commute), I decided to make sure that we have a cookie cake (heart shaped).  So with Jordan’s help I made the cookie dough into a heart shaped pan.  Because this has been a hectic year so far, I’ve had a few mishaps.  I couldn’t find my Wilton pastry bags for decorating.  So instead, I used a ziplock bags with the usual Wilton tips.  I also wasn’t in the mood for adding color (even natural…..boiled beets make the best Valentine’s Day colors), I just kept it white.   Various events of the evening led to a real late decorating session, so I rushed through the whole thing….but it still looks nice.  Even more important-the cake/frosting tastes phenomenal.  Cookies with frosting are the best.  Another great aspect of course-it is dairy free and is made with not the super processed ingredients.
The cookie recipe is the cookie dough recipe in an earlier blog

 and the frosting is similar to my mocha frosting.

Decorating Frosting

3 cups of powder sugar
1.5 cups Spectrum Organic shortening
1 tsp vanilla

(no soy milk or coconut milk-we need a drier frosting for decorating)

Slowly add the sugar to Spectrum and beat until whipped, add the vanilla.

Gifts, dinner and cookie cake done without any major mishaps.  For a long day, that sounds like an accomplishment.

Decided to be quick and keep it had to use some last minute pastry bags

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Well deserved brownies after shoveling out of the blizzard (and no artery clogging)

The essential ingredients-dairy and artery clog free
 After trying to shovel our way out of 20" of snow, I had a serious craving for brownies. Fortunately brownies of convenience are out of the question for me due to Jordan’s food allergies (dairy or made in a facility with nuts).  So I’ve been experimenting with some brownie recipes over the past few years.  Even pre EE and food allergy days, I really didn’t want to use a brownie mix.  Most recipes of course call for butter.  Not an option here anymore.  Even if Jordan wasn’t allergic to dairy, I would no longer use butter in my cooking.  Necessity is the mother of invention.  I learned how to get rich creamy flavor without butter.  I’ve sometimes referred to myself as the “Paula Dean of soy butter” (without the weight, wealth and the southern accent).  For some reason we all love a creamy texture.  So after shoveling, I decided to make some brownies.  My constraints were:  I will only make it with Droste cocoa powder (childhood favorite), will not use over processed sugar or over processed flour-and of course it needs to be dairy free.

I actually found a great Alton Brown recipe and converted it with my constraints/choices.

We ended up with delicious brownies and did not increase our chance of heart disease. 

Here are some interesting quotes on why even if you aren’t allergic to dairy, you would make these substitutions.

"...There's a lot of money in the Western diet. The more you process any food, the more profitable it becomes. The healthcare industry makes more money treating chronic diseases (which account for three quarters of the $2 trillion plus we spend each year on health care in this country) than preventing them. "

Whatever I make, I keep this in mind and use the least processed ingredients.  Also,

"You are what you eat eats."

And since I’m not a vegan at this time, I buy the cage free eggs (more nutritious…. because the chicken’s diet is reflected in the eggs nutrition value).  If you are a vegan, then you can use an egg substitution.  When we avoided eggs, I used Ener G egg replacer or the apple sauce mix that is substituted for like eggs.

These brownies are delicious and they will not make you feel guilty about all the processed flour and saturated fat you ingested.

Note: these brownies have a rich robust flavor.  As much as I LOVE chocolate and sweets, I no longer enjoy the flavor of processed brownies-they have a thin flavor.

As I’m writing this blog, I hear on a heart disease focused show that the #1 killer in the U.S. is heart disease, and half of us will die from it.  We cannot control everything (genetics, stress, jobs, etc.), but we can control what we eat and put in our bodies.


Soy butter to grease pan
Flour (organic whole wheat pastry) to dust the buttered pan
4 large eggs
1 cup organic cane sugar sifted
1 cup brown sugar sifted
8 ounces of melted soy stick
1 ¼ cups of cocoa sifted
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup of organic whole-wheat pastry flour
½ tsp. kosher salt


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Soy butter and flour an 8-inch square pan.

In a mixer, beat the eggs at medium speed until fluffy (sort of frothy) and light yellow.  Add both sugars (gradually.  Add the remaining ingredients (gradually) and mix to combine.

Pour the batter into the soy buttered and floured pan (I actually forgot to flour the no stick pan and it still worked) and bake for 45 minutes.  Use the toothpick method (insert and see if it’s clear) to make sure it’s done.  In my convection oven, it finished in about 40 minutes. 

Cool thoroughly.  I sifted powdered sugar on top while hot.  It could also be frosted with a Spectrum based frosting (after it cooled).  I was too tired with an impatient child to make frosting.  These were also delicious the next day…..the flavors combined perfectly.

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