Archive for the ‘Condiments’ Category

Wow!  What a great food week (and it is only Tuesday)!  I had some leftover whole wheat pitas I made and I though, pita chips!  So here I am with fresh baked pita chips wanting something to dip them in.  Kidney and black beans take too long for my immediate need!  Therefore, I turned to red lentils – quick cooking and delicious!  This was a happy accident and really, it turned out so yummy!

  • 1 c red lentils (you can use green lentils but not quite as pretty)
  • 2 1/4 c water
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Rinse the lentils well.  Add lentils, garlic and water to a medium pot.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until the lentils are tender.  Add a little water if needed.

Then add:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Simmer for 15 minutes.  Pour into a blender and add:

  • 1/2 c fat free Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro

Puree` until smooth.  Adjust for what you want to use this for.  At first, I thought, this is a great soup!  Then I reduced it a little and found it to be a fabulous dip for my pita chips.  After that, I had it as a topping/condiment for a Greek meatball (Keftedes) sandwich!  It is a little like a curry but, mild and just so good.  I cannot find the words to describe how yummy this turned out (except YUMMY!).


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We like tacos in my house.  I have tried all sorts, from authentic to unique.  But when it comes down to a quick meal, you always head to the spice cabinet for one of those little packages of “taco seasoning mix”.  I don’t know about you, but have you read the labels?  I checked three different brands – 370 mg sodium, 430 mg sodium and again 430 mg sodium!  Yikes!  Can you hear your blood pressure rising and your body retaining water???

This is my go to recipe for the basic tacos that most Americans know.  This mix is wonderful because it is salt free, meaning you control the sodium!  Plus, you know the ingredients that went into it and that is always a good thing!

  • 6 tsp chile or chili powder
  • 5 tsp paprika (skip the hot paprika because you have the chile powder)
  • 4 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Mix all together and store in an airtight jar.  You will get about something equal to about 3 of those store bought packages.  Use 7 tsp of your mix for a pound of ground meat.

I usually brown the ground meat with diced onions, drain fat (if there is any), add 7 tsp of the seasoning and 1/2 c water.  Stir to combine and simmer until desired consistency or most of the liquid has evaporated.

Not much of a recipe, I know.  I picked it up a few years ago browsing the internet.  I cannot even tell you where I found it.  I can tell you that I keep the piece of paper with this recipe rubber-banded to my storage jar so I can always make more when I run out!  Just thought I would share this little tip!

Gotta go, I have tacos to make!

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So, from the response I have received, everyone loves Mexican food, hates the canned sauces, and wants a recipe that they can make at home! I am with you on that aspect!  Here is the sauce you have been waiting for!

This one has a bit of hidden fiber, but your family will never be the wiser.  It looks about the same as the canned stuff but has added goodness of spinach!  Sneaky!  Anyway, I think this is a lovely sauce.  I do hope you enjoy this!

Seriously, I love the green sauce.  Still, so simple but so delicious!  I ran this by the hubby before posting it and he assured me that you could not taste the spinach.

  • 2 lb tomatillos (fresh or frozen)
  • 10 oz frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess moisture
  • 1/2 c diced onion
  • 2 TB canola oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/3 c green chiles (roasted, peeled and seeds removed) or 1 TB green chile powder
  • 1 jalapeno (seeded and minced)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 c fresh cilantro
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 c chicken stock
  • 1  to 2 c water

Heat oil in deep heavy sauucepan.  Add onion and chiles and spices and saute` until onion is translucent.  Add garlic and cook for about a minute.

Add spinach and liquid.   Simmer 10 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients.

Pour into blender.  Puree` until smooth.

Return to heat in sauce pan and add additional liquid (water or chicken sock) until desired consistency.

Mine was more like a thick salsa but by adding a  little water or stock, you can get the consistency you need for burritos or enchiladas.   A little sugar kind of accents the chiles, tomatillos and garlic.   Really, this is so much better than the canned sauces and you can be certain that you family will be getting some hidden veggies!

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Kumquat Marmalade

My wonderful Aunt sent me a box of kumquats from her kumquat tree in her yard for my birthday.  My Sis was also the lucky recipient of said box and the two of us had a lot of fun playing with the kumquats – adding to salads, etc.  However, mine were getting to the point were I absolutely had to do something to use them up.

I fondly remember having orange marmalade when I was a wee tot.  I actually have not had marmalade of any kind for many years.  So, I decided that kumquat marmalade it is!

Now, I have never made marmalade before so I consulted my very favorite preserving reference book, Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.  I am on my second copy of this wonderful reference book, I actually wore the first one out!  I started out with the intention of following the recipe from this reference guide, my intent was to follow it exactly. But as usual, I strayed from the recipe. I actually forgot the lemon juice it called for and I reduced the sugar.  Oh well!  I must say that mine really looks beautiful, the ribbons of kumquat and orange rind running all through the jar.  It has a delicious citrus flavor, sweet but tart from the kumquats.  I am going to send my wonderful Aunt a jar, as a thank you for that little treasure chest of golden kumquats!

  • 2 c thinly sliced kumquats
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped orange pulp (about 2 medium oranges)
  • Orange peel from 2 oranges, sliced thin
  • Sugar just shy of equal to the amount of fruit with juice (1 c fruit = 7/8 c fruit/juice)
  • 1 tsp butter

Combine the kumquats, orange pulp and orange peel in pot.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Cover and let sit until cooled.

Add sugar and stir until dissolved.  Add butter and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently, until it begins to thicken.  It takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

Pour hot marmalade into hot, sterilized half-pint jars. Leave 1/2 to 1/4 inch head space in the jars. I sanitized my jars in the dishwasher. Wipe the rims of the jar to remove any sticky residue.  Cover with hot, sterile canning lids, add rings, hand tightening.

Process jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.  Remove from water and let sit undisturbed on a clean towel until cool and the jars have sealed.

If one of your jars does not seal, just put it in your refrigerator and use that one first.

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I made a pot roast last night.  And I also made my weekly pot of beans (black beans this week).  When I was putting the leftovers away, they were just screaming “burritos”!  However, I really do not like to use canned sauces.  Interestingly, I searched a long time online for a red gravy for wet burritos and really, most people just use canned red enchilada sauce (which most brands, I find, contain MSG – ick!).  Therefore, I am on a mission for a home made version.  I think to myself, it has  to taste better than the canned stuff!

So after reading many, many recipes online and in cookbooks.  This is what I came up with.  I will not attest that this is authentic by any means, because, really I don’t think authentic Mexican burritos were served with gravy.  But, I like gravy on my burritos. It is what it is!

  • 3 TB chile powder (Note – this is chile not chili. Chile powder is only ground dried chile peppers, where chili powder has other stuff like oregano, cumin, etc.).
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 TB vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 8 oz diced, fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 c water

Place tomatoes on a baking sheet and place under broiler just until the skins start to char – this takes 5 to 10 minutes.  Alternately, you can roast them on a hot grill.  Peel, seed and dice.  If you do not want to go to this trouble, you can find fire roasted canned tomatoes at your grocer.

Toast oregano, cumin, chile powder and cocoa powder in a small, hot, dry skillet, just until the aromas release.

In a large, deep skillet, saute` onions in oil over medium low heat until translucent.  Add garlic and cook about a minute longer.

Add oregano, cumin, chile powder and cocoa powder. Add the tomato sauce, water and salt.  Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Transfer mixture to a blender and puree` until smooth.

This is one of those sauces that tastes much better the following day.  I suggest cooling the sauce to room temperature and refrigerating overnight.  Your patience will be rewarded!  This is nothing like the canned stuff ~ the cocoa subtly enhances the cumin and peppers.  It’s a little spicy in a good way.  And the the depth of flavors, wow!  A party in your mouth!

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I like Greek yogurt, any kind, any flavor.  I love plain with honey drizzled on top.  I was wandering through the grocery store one day and a new flavor caught my eye – pomegranate!  It is delicious!  Anyway, I was milling through the refrigerator and remembered I had some cucumbers.  Also, some pomegranate Greek yogurt…  Hmmm, I should mix it up!  The dressing is so simple, it can’t really even be called a recipe!

  • 2 TB pomegranate Greek yogurt
  • 2 TB chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 TB red onion, minced
  • 1 TB red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Mix well and let the flavors meld in the refrigerator.  I made a cucumber ribbon salad with mine.  It would be good on a tossed greens salad as well!

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