Sunday, February 20, 2011

Steamed Aromatic Chicken Recipe


The last couple weeks I've been steaming chicken breast in my pressure cooker.  I've taken chicken from frozen to juicy with great speed.  Even my kids love it.  The first week  I started with a layer of herbal scraps: leek greens, parsley, and wilted basil.  Then I added 1-2 cups of water, a lightly greased steamer basket, and chicken breast.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Apple Crisp - No sugar added

My son actually requested I make baked apples.  This was very easy and tasty.  You could even skip the topping for a simple weekday treat.

Core and slice apples.  Layer them in a dish with cinnamon and spices of your choice.  I like a little salt and fenugreek.

In a saucepan or in the microwave warm margarine, butter, and/or oil. Mix in oats, cinnamon, fenugreek, and (optional) agave syrup.

Spread over the top of the apples.

Bake until golden brown.

Happy 100th Post on Cooking Outside the Box!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Repeats Including Zucchini Muffins

I began writing this blog for myself.  I wanted to record what my family liked so I could make it again.  Today, I want to mention a couple things that I have been making again, and again, and again.

My kids don't care for soup.  But I love Roasted Butternut Squash soup so much, I've been making it almost every week.  I often add some beer or Irish stout.  It seems easier every time, and the peels taste great in soup stock.

I've also made whole wheat zucchini muffins several times.  My kids love eating them, and I love knowing they're healthier than pasta.

Last week my daughter was home with an ear infection.  I asked her if she wanted to make muffins.  "I can help, for real??  Not just watch? Really help!?" was her excited reply.

She did get to really help.  Its a lot easier to be patient with only one kid home.  She counted in the prunes,  sprinkled in the salt and cinnamon, added premeasured ingredients, and did some excellent mixing.

Below is the recipe I am currently using.  Makes 24 muffins. [UPDATE: Zucchini Carrot Muffins - No Sugar Added]
  1. Grate 3 zucchini and 2-3 carrots.  Put in a large bowl.
  2. Blend2 eggs, 1/2 cup olive oil, 8 prunes, and 1/2 cup brown sugar.
  3. Mix separately in a measuring cup:
    2 cups whole wheat four
    approx. 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    About 3/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
    approx 1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla sugar (alternatively you could add vanilla extract straight to the set of ingredients in step #2.)
    1 cup raisins
  4. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet by hand until the flour is just incorporated (don't blend smooth.)
  5. Pour into greased muffin tins or a pan.  I use a soup ladle.  Silicon muffin tins don't need to be greased.  Stainless steel or aluminum do best when lightly greased and floured.
  6. Bake at 350 F or 175 C for 14-25 minutes depending on the size of your muffins or loaf. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sweet and Sourdough Rolls

I tried to make bagels based on the Sourdough Oatmeal Bread recipe from Israeli Kitchen.  The dough fell apart in the boiling water, but I still got some very tasty rolls.  By substituting apple juice for water, I got a slightly sweeter dough, as well as what we call "mezonot rolls."  For observant Jews, that means instead of washing our hands in a ritual fashion and making the blessing on bread, then a full grace after meals, we say one blessing before eating the rolls and a short blessing afterward.  This can be preferable when you want a snack or when you have limited time, like at work.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Easy Brew Green Tea

I want to show you how to make quality tea without any fancy equipment.  No teapot required.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Barley Casserole with Mallows, Tomato, & Basil

Last week I made Stinging Nettle Soup with nettles I picked near my building.  This week I collected large, round mallow leaves on the way home from dropping my daughter off at kindergarten. 

If you don't have mallows available, one thing you can take from this post is that barley can be used in casseroles like you might use noodles.  This could have been a casserole with thin layers of barley, spinach, basil, tomato sauce and cheese.  Either way, barley is a very healthy alternative to pasta, and even white rice.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fruit Leather Flowers

 My kids and I made these flowers based on an idea I saw on Creative Jewish Mom.  Looking back at her post, I see how pretty CJM's roses look.  But without looking at her post, we made apricot poppies.  You can roll your fruit roll-ups into rose shapes by reading the link above.  Or cut circles out of the fruit leather and stick them on tooth picks with a piece of dried fruit on each side, like we did.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New Logo!

I am pleased to present the new Cooking Outside the Box logo, which will be printed on the aprons I am designing.  I want to thank my mother, Caren Hackman for working on this and trying to solidify my many ideas.  I even got to see her work via Skype screen share.  I also want to thank her friend, Susan Julien (@adpstudios), for working on the logo and giving us the whisk.  Most of all I want to thank my talented designer friend, Tzippy Lankin.  She worked with me to get from the many ideas my mom and Susan gave me to what I hope is our final design, above.  It was a real pleasure working with her and an honor to observe her skill and hear her process.  Tzippy is a professional graphic designer and jewelry artist.  You can see more of her work on Tzippy's Facebook page.

By the way, I've started tweeting.  You can follow me @nonrecipe

You can still subscribe by e-mail.  Just put your e-mail address in the box in the right-hand column, and make sure you click the link in the confirmation e-mail.  It may appear in your spam folder.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pressure Cooker Risotto with Roasted Leeks

I made this risotto in my pressure cooker loosely based on a recipe from Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass.   You can make it in a regular pot with more stirring and slowly adding hot broth, but this post is really about the pressure cooker.

1. Sauté a large handful of chopped leeks* in oil in the pressure cooker.  Add 1.5 cups short grain rice and continue cooking and stirring until the rice starts to turn golden.

2. Add 1/2 cup white wine, followed by 3.5 cups of stock/broth and a generous pinch of salt.  Bring pressure to high.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Stock Pile - or - What I Learned from My Snails

our pet snail, "Gal" eating a carrot peel
I temporarily adopted two snails for four weeks in January.  I found one in a driveway on my way home one morning.  I thought my daughter, who was home sick, and I would take care of him until my son came home.  We learned about caring for snails and the next day decided to buy a little tank, find him a friend, and keep him for a bit.  I found that while I was gathering food for our snails, I was learning about conservation.  I could give them peels of carrots and ends of veggies that might have otherwise been thrown away.

my stock pile with peels, stems, and greens
And that is how keeping snails led me to begin making chicken and vegetable stock from food scraps.

For some time I have been meaning to start saving vegetable scraps that could be used to make soup stock.  However, it wasn't until I started keeping snails that I really started paying attention to what was worth saving.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Kitchen Disasters

When I started my blog, I promised to document the bad with the good.  My husband suggested I post about kitchen disasters, of which I've have my fair share.  They usually end with the smoke alarm buzzing, all our windows open, and a pot of some burnt food airing out on the sidewalk.  And most of them involve incidents when I should have known better.

A few years ago I was carefully following the directions on a package of dry split pea soup mix.  The directions said it needed a few more minutes.  Within those few minutes I had a kitchen full of smoke and quickly discovered that the windows in my kitchen wouldn't open!  I called the management office and the meanest manager of them all picked up.  It was difficult to explain to her that I needed the handy man NOW, not when he had time at the end of the work day or tomorrow, without admitting to this bitter women my pea soup mishap.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Stinging Nettle Soup - Picking Edible Weeds

The second time I met Hannah K. of Cooking Manager, we were walking home from a class last winter and she started pointing out all these edible weeds along the side of the road.  I wasn't sure what to think.  Was she a new-age hippie?  Did everyone in Israel eat weeds?  Miriam Kresh of Israeli Kitchen had just taught Hannah about edible weeds and her eyes were peeled for the species she learned to pick.  Now I've known Hannah a little over a year and I've come to learn that she is quite balanced, most Israeli's buy their produce in a store, and weeds taste great!

For the last few weeks I've been noticing many edible-looking weeds as I walked around town, and I kept meaning to look at Hannah's old post on Green Prophet "Five Edible Wild Plants You Can Pick Yourself".  The last time she came by, I mentioned it to her, and she showed me lots of edible mallows, nettle, chick weed, and one "chamtzitz" flower, right around our building!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Ordering Inside the Box

This meal was way too deliciously indulgent not to immortalize on my blog.  And to get all this kosher Asian food for only 100 NIS, approximately $28, is a real treat for our family.  

These two platters could easily serve three people.  But you could stretch it even further.

If you feel a need to indulge in take-out Chinese or Pizza, consider adding a green salad or Islaeli salad.  (Israeli salad is generally chopped tomato and cucumber with lemon, olive oil, and salt.)

I can't keep my family away from greasy convenience foods once in a while.  However, there's no reason the whole meal has to be completely devoid of nutritional value.  When did bread sticks become the appropriate side dish for pizza or pasta?  Order one pizza and make a salad while you're waiting for the delivery guy to show up.  Since a super-cheap and delicious pizza store opened up near our house, we order pizza almost once a month.  My kids each chow down on their first slice, but don't get to have another half slice until they finish their salad.  It gives kids, and grown-ups alike, a chance to realize maybe they're not hungry anymore.  You can even serve a salad or vegetable soup before the greasy main course arrives.  This is also a great tip if one spouse is picking up dinner on the way home from work.  Give your kids a head start on their veggies.  Then they'll be washed and sitting pretty at the table when dad or mom walks in the door.
Now that I've given you the health food speech, I can tell you our dirty little secret.  My husband and I ate the whole thing!  FYI, its true what they say about limiting your late evening meals to avoid sleep trouble.  We both had trouble falling asleep after our little gorge-fest.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Homemade Pickle Tutorial

This is the sequel to Our Olive Adventure Part 3: Brine. It is a tutorial for making quick refrigerator pickles. For naturally fermented preserved cucumbers see "How to Make Kosher Dill Pickles."

Curing these pickles was super easy. There was no cooking necessary, only a few ingredients, and they are delicious and crunchy. I hope you'll try this at home and even add your own seasonings and special touch.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Homemade Flour Tortilla Wraps

My friend, Tzippy, made these amazing little tortilla wrap appetizers the last time my family was at her home.  I haven't been able to stop thinking about them.  Below is the recipe for the tortillas.  She filled them with avocado, alfalfa sprouts, and smoked salmon.  It was perfect.  She also suggested that it is fun to have lots of fillings out and have each guest fill their own.  Other fillings might include sautéed mushrooms, pesto, sun-dried tomato spread, tehina, omelet, sliced vegetables, avacado spread, chopped parsley, and even meat or cheese.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Make Arm Drip Guards

It drives me crazy when water drips all the way down/up my arms when I'm putting wet dishes on my dish rack or checking lettuce.  You can cut the top from old or mismatched socks to make little arm bands.  Wear them on you wrists when you do any tasks that involve lifting your wet hands over your elbows.


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