• Stovetop Popcorn Recipe

    This is another ridiculously easy recipe, but I had to ask Chief how to do it awhile back when the craving struck.  Ever since I had a chance to try it, I am absolutely addicted to popcorn popped on the stovetop.

    For two people, a 3 to 4 quart pot for the stovetop works pretty well.  I guess that is assuming your serving is as large as mine, which is approximately one adult female homosapien’s head’s worth.  I really have a problem with popcorn.  When I eat it, I can’t help but think of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when Raoul Duke is like, “If I were you, I’d leave the Doctor alone until after he’s eaten his breakfast because he’s a very crude man.”  It’s not pretty when I eat it.  I’m okay with that.

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  • Clarified Butter Recipe

    I am posting this recipe for clarified butter because I will reference clarified butter as an ingredient a number of times in my recipes.  Using saturated fat for cooking at high heats is something I’m passionate about for health reasons based on biochemistry.  I have put something of an introduction to that subject at the end of this post.  Those of you who just want the recipe for clarified butter (also called drawn butter) don’t need to read on if you’re not interested.  I’ll expand that introduction in to a much more thorough post in the near future.

    Butter is made up of three components: butterfat, moisture (water) and milk solids.  It is essentially a highly concentrated form of milk made by churning cream or milk.  The milk can come from any mammal but we most commonly use the milk from cows.  Butter is generally used as a spread but can also be used for cooking to impart a rich flavor and irreplicable mouth-feel.  The only problem with using it for cooking is that butter has a very low smoke point (around 325F).  The smoke point is basically the point at which the fat begins to break down and no longer tastes or smells good and becomes unhealthy due to oxidation.  We don’t want that!  And so, we make clarified butter which removes the moisture and milk solids and leaves behind the pure butterfat.  It has a smoke point of nearly 500F.  Prepare for your kitchens to smell divine, people!

    To make clarified butter, you will need high quality, high butterfat content unsalted butter.  When you make the clarified butter, the total volume of butter is going to decrease by about 25% so keep that in mind.  It’s an animal product, so consider the welfare of the animal from which you are making it.  This is another reason to buy high quality butter from a reputable source.

     

     

     

     

     Cut the butter in to cubes and put it in to a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a very low heat until it’s melted.

     

     

     

     

     
    Let the butter simmer gently until foam begins to rise to the top.  The foam is the water content boiling off and the white residue is the milk solids in the butter. Read more

  • Fried Egg & Avocado Breakfast Sandwich

    This is true comfort food!  This recipe for a fried egg sandwich is so incredibly simple that I’m sure most people don’t need a recipe, per se, but it is more of a reminder that this perfect breakfast exists!  You will need the following for one sandwich:

    • 1 egg (Try to find eggs from a local, pastured source.)
    • 1 English muffin (Whole-grain is best.  Central Market in Houston makes some really good ones.)
    • ¼ avocado, thinly sliced
    • 1 slice white cheddar
    • Dash of hot sauce (I love Tejas Tears, but Cholula or whatever you like works)
    • 1 tablespoon caramelized onions (optional)

    Turn the oven to broil and begin toasting the English muffin.  Fry the egg slightly over-hard in a little bit of clarified butter.  Salt and pepper them.  Once the English muffin has popped up, place the fried egg on the base of the English muffin.  Add the caramelized onion.  Top with one slice of cheddar and broil in the oven until the cheese is melted and starting to bubble.  Remove from the oven and top with sliced avocado and hot sauce.  A little bit of very thinly sliced fresh jalapeno is also wonderful if  you have it. Read more

  • Caramelized Onions Recipe

    Caramelizing onions is one of the simplest and most inexpensive ways to dress up a meal.  Caramelized onions have a nutty, rich and savory flavor.  The act of caramelizing them removes any pungency and sharpness and instead provides a subtle sweetness.  You can transform a simple piece of grilled meat or a burger or sandwich really easily and give it gourmet flair.

    Often times I will buy a bunch of yellow onions and caramelize them all at once and then freeze a portion.  The one down side is that it does take a while, so it’s not the best thing to do when you’re trying to cook up a really quick meal.  It’s a really simple process, though, so it’s good to do when you’re hanging about the kitchen one day.  Then on the days you’re rushed, you can use your prepped onions.  It’s an easy thing to do when multi-tasking or just having a chat and glass of wine.  Lots of times, I will tend to them as I watch Chief cook our actual meal, ha.

    Caramelizing onions is something good to do if you have invited someone over for a meal.  Even if you are just grilling a piece of meat, it makes the house smell like you are cooking up a storm.  I will usually get about 4 medium-large size yellow onions to do this recipe.  The only other thing you need is clarified butter and/or olive oil.  I like to use a mixture of both.  I have probably been too in to butter these days after reading about all its health benefits in books such as Nourishing Traditions, but adjust the fat to whatever you think is best for your body.  So really, all you do is as follows:

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  • Granola Recipe

    Everyone is always calling me a hippie, so it’s only natural I provide a recipe for granola.  You are what you eat, I guess!  I love preparing a batch of granola on Sundays so I have it for the workweek and because it makes the house smell good.  It makes a great breakfast or works really well for a late afternoon sweet craving that will help power you through until dinner.  It’s also a nice pre-workout snack.  As you prepare the granola, preheat the oven to 350° FYou will need the following ingredients:

    Mix

    • 2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant)
    • 1 heaping cup of mixed nuts (sliced almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, pine, etc.)
    • ½ cup mixed seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower seeds, etc.)
    • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut (I like “Let’s Do Organic” brand)
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 tablespoon of wheat germ

    Add

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
    • 5 tablespoons maple syrup (use the pure kind)

     After baking

    • 1 cup dried fruit
    • ½ cup dark chocolate chips

    Mix the first ingredients together in a bowl and spread out on a baking sheet.  I like to use one with high sides so it’s easier to stir later.  Once you have it smoothed out, drizzle with the oils and maple syrup.  If you don’t have coconut oil, just use all olive oil.  Bake 25-30 minutes.  Every five minutes or so, pull the granola out of the oven and stir it with a wooden spatula and then return to the oven.  The granola tends to burn quickly if this step is missed.  Remove it from the oven when the granola is golden.

    After the granola has cooled down to room temperature, add roughly chopped dried fruit.  I like to use dried cherries and wild blueberries, but other ideas are raisins, mangos, and apples.  The dark chocolate chips are optional, or course, but I really like them in there to help satisfy sweet cravings.  These cravings usually strike when I am overly tired and this snack helps boost energy.  Store it in an airtight container.  I like to use a 1.5-liter screw top glass jar and just leave it sitting on the countertop.   Sur le Table makes some nice ones. It’s one of the weapons in my “hangry” prevention arsenal.  I get really mean when I get too hungry, as Chief can attest to.

    You can serve this with milk (cow, almond, soy, rice, oat, etc.) or yogurt.  Another idea is to layer the granola with yogurt and fresh berries like a yogurt parfait.  This looks really nice when done in one of the screw-top jars in a smaller size (.25 liter) and is a wonderful way to do breakfast on the go. 

    This granola is a great alternative to store-bought granola both for the novelty and because you can control the type of sweetener that is used, which is maple syrup in this case.  Maple syrup has the benefits of having iron, manganese, zinc and calcium and also contains antioxidants and polyphenols.  In addition to that, it has a more concentrated sweet taste for the same amount as cane sugar.  If you don’t like coconut, don’t be turned off by this recipe.  It only acts as a sweetener and doesn’t taste much at all like coconut.  Enjoy!

  • Skinny Bitch Breakfast Fruit Smoothie

    The book Skinny Bitch has some good nuggets of information, despite being a little too hardcore in its suggestions for me and seemingly shallow in its premise.  I don’t think all the science is quite right but they did give me some things to think about.

    One aspect I definitely agreed with the authors on was the ridiculousness of the carb avoidance fad, including avoiding fruit.  They conclude that fruit is one of nature’s most perfect foods, supplying all kinds of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.  And, of course, it’s loaded with fiber and antioxidants and everything else we’re supposed to eat.

    The part I really like is they suggest we eat it in the morning before we eat anything else because fruit is very simple and breaks down and passes through the digestive system quickly.  For that reason, it shouldn’t be stuck in there with other things that take more time to process, like fats, starches, and protein.  I absolutely agree with this and have an intuitive understanding because my belly never feels quite right when I consume fruit with a meal.  The simple fruit sugar will stay in the stomach too long if it is being digested with the other things that break down slowly, so it will begin to ferment and cause problems like bloating, gas, and heartburn.

    I’m not much of a fruit lover, so I like the idea of wolfing it all down in a fruit shake first thing when I wake up some mornings, and then continue with whole grains (chia seed pudding or granola) and protein (hard-boiled egg or yogurt) an hour or so later when I arrive at work.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to not like fruit, but I just don’t get excited and jazzed up for it the way I do about vegetables.  The other nice thing about this shake is that fruit provides quick energy to get you going in the morning.

    I have this recipe down to a science now and you’ll notice everything is already prepped so I can prepare it in a bleary-eyed morning condition.  I have been tweaking this shake, but lately I have settled on some variation of the following ingredients:

    • 1 small banana
    • ½ cup frozen organic mixed berries
    • 1/3 cup pre-cut pineapple (frozen works fine)
    • 1/3 cup pre-cut watermelon
    • Any other fresh or frozen fruit you enjoy or that is in season
    • ¼ cup pomegranate cherry juice
    • ¼ cup beet-carrot juice
    • 1 cup coconut water
    • Dash of cinnamon

    Bananas have so much good stuff in them but I’m not a big fan of eating them plain.  I like to freeze bananas as soon as they start to get overly ripe.  Having a frozen banana and/or the frozen mixed berries helps keep the shake cold.  The frozen berries are quite a bit less expensive than the fresh and maintain all their nutritional value.  If something is in-season and available at a good price, I will use the fresh.  Pineapple has an enzyme, bromelain, that aids in digestion.  I really like watermelon because it’s inexpensive and full of the antioxidant lycopene.  Pomegranate cherry juice is high in antioxidants and cherry helps with inflammation.  As far as the beet-carrot juice, any juice you have made or have on hand will do.  Central Market in Houston or Whole Foods make some great fresh juices.  Coconut water is very rich in potassium, provides tons of electrolytes for very few calories, and acts as a natural diuretic and mild laxative to keep the belly slim.  Coconut water is a great way to replenish the body after hot yoga or a hard workout.  It’s basically nature’s Gatorade.  I add in the cinnamon because it helps regulate insulin levels which helps control the sugar in the bloodstream after consuming these natural fruit sugars.

    I like to mix my smoothie in one of those handheld blenders and drink it out of the mixing cup.  It only takes a couple of minutes and then fruit is out of the way!  One trick my mom taught me is to do a round with the handblender with some water and a drop of soap to get it clean after you’re finished.

  • Dark Chocolate & Cherry Chia Seed Pudding

     

    Ch-ch-ch-CHIA!

    Chia seeds are a whole new craze this time around. You know the ones. We previously knew them better for their ability to grow fuzzy little grass creatures through terracotta shapes from the chia seed sprout contained within. It is these seeds that are one of the “newest” superfoods. In actuality, chia seeds have been around since pre-Columbian times but have only recently been re-discovered by health foodies. Most health food stores have them and they can be purchased in bulk for a relatively low cost.

    The Aztecs harvested them for their nutritional value. They have omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, protein, calcium, iron, zinc, fiber, and antioxidants. The protein in chia seeds is unique in that it contains all nine essential amino acids. Our body cannot produce these on its own and so they must be consumed. Normally, it is animal protein that provides these complete proteins. Chia seeds, therefore, are a very healthy addition to those of us who do not have a lot of meat in our diet or for those trying to add protein to bulk up or stay full.
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