Polenta and Butternut Squash Sformata with Cabbage

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That is a picture of the outside, and this is a picture of the inside.

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A “sformata” is the Italian version of a souffle, but, like all recipes, you are going to find a bunch of variations.  There is no egg in this, so it can’t quite be called a souffle.

I just didn’t know what to call it, so I came up with the title.

This is what it looks like on the plate.

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It was made using leftover polenta taragna (polenta with buckwheat), and roasted butternut squash.

And it’s beautiful.  Like, heartbreakingly beautiful.  You could serve it with potatoes, or tomatoes, more cabbage, or even a great bread stuffing made with chestnuts.  As a main course, with a chestnut stuffing all around the perimeter it would be striking.

*tip* – if you add some sugar to the water when you cook vegetables, they get a vibrant hue.  I don’t remember the science behind it, (has something to do with the cell walls) but my Aunt gave me that tip, and it works.  That’s why the cabbage looks, and tastes, so phenomenal.

Polenta and Butternut Squash Sformata

2 cups leftover polenta taragna (firm)

1 C roasted butternut squash, pureed (viola) + more if needed

1/4 t hot pepper (powdered)

3 cabbage leaves, blanched in sugared water, shocked in ice water, and then drained (takes only about 3-4 minutes to cook in the boiling water)

Butter

Mix butternut squash, hot pepper, a bit of salt, and polenta in a food processor until fully incorporated.  It should not be crumbly, so add more squash if needed.  When you scoop it out you want it to hold it’s shape on the spoon.

Butter your forming bowl, then line it with oven paper.  Butter again.  I used melted butter.  Place your leaves in the bowl, and fill with the polenta squash mixture.

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Fold everything over the top.

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Let sit for a while in the bowl – it’s okay to refrigerate, but bring to room temp or almost room temp before you cook.

Invert your packet onto a buttered casserole dish and cook at 200 C (about 392 F) for 20 minutes.

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Let sit for a few minutes, then carefully remove the paper.

I sprinkled with the seeds from the squash.  I just added some seasoning and olive oil and toasted them in the oven.

 

Chicken Soup with Roasted Lemon

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When cold or flu hits, I reach for one of the best remedies known to mankind.

Jewish Penicillin.

That’s not the “real” name of course.  The “real” name is chicken soup.  When I was young, people would jokingly call it Jewish Penicillin, and over the years there has been a lot of discourse over and studies done on whether chicken soup DOES or DOES NOT have an effect on the cold or flu virus.

After reading several of the studies, I would have to say, that evidence points to the fact that chicken soup DOES NOT have an effect on cold or flu viruses.

And that is totally okay.  Apparently, deep freezing in ancient glaciers and being buried in pharaoh tombs also has little effect on the viability of viruses.  They are like zombies and can be reanimated under the right conditions.

So far, the only proven virus killer and eradicator is the immune system.

The flu (influenza) virus hijacks the protein manufacturing machinery of the cell to to use for its own protein manufacturing, and to create more virus particles.  From there, the mature virus is released and goes on to invade adjacent cells or terrorize an innocent bystander through a sneeze.

The symptoms of cold and flu are similar. but the fever and sometimes severe muscle pain and fatigue are usually associated with the influenza virus.  Many of the symptoms are not caused by the virus itself, but are a result of your own immune system attacking the invader.

In the case of muscle and joint aches and pains, researchers discovered that an influenza infection leads to an increase in the expression of muscle degrading genes, and a decrease in the expression of muscle building genes.  So it’s not the fever causing muscle aches and pains.

These viruses affect the neurological system, which is why you might have a problem thinking, or a problem regulating body temperature.  Sounds might be louder, and lights brighter.  You might be irritable.  Some of these things happen before you even know you are sick.  They are messages, telling you that your body is working hard to keep you healthy.

The ingredients in chicken soup may not affect the virus itself, but researchers have discovered that they DO affect, and are proven to strengthen not only the immune system, but also the cells.  They support your own body processes in eliminating toxins, bringing in nutrition, and making it easier for the immune system to do its job.

Most home, folk, and natural remedies from around the world work in the same way. There “might” be “something” in them that actually DOES kill viruses, but that’s not the beauty of a bowl of chicken soup.  The beauty of a bowl of chicken soup is its ability to make your own body stronger so it can eradicate the virus invader as quickly as possible.

It does this by putting together a bunch of ingredients that have some super cool scientific but beyond the scope of this blog post properties.  Things like micronutrients that strengthen cell walls in the lungs or increase communication between immune system cells so they can figure out a new invader.  Nutrients that repair holes in the lining of the gut so the cold virus can’t hang out there.  Antioxidants that repair cell damage and protect from cell damage.  Some factors not quite understood yet, but factors that drive those nutrients into your cells.

All of this happens without us thinking about it or controlling it.

Do me a favor and try a very unscientific experience for yourself.

Over and over I read that the reason chicken soup helps you feel better, is because it’s served hot, and the steam helps clear you of congestion.  Similar to a hot shower.

I call, DOES NOT.

The experiment is this.

Take one hot mug of plain tap water.

Wrap your feverish hands around the mug and inhale deeply.

Now do the same with this chicken soup.

How do you feel.  What are your thoughts.  What is your body doing.  Which one would you give your child.

This recipe is simple to make because you can use either store bought ingredients or homemade.  As always, organic, non-gmo is best but never beat yourself up if something is hard to find, unavailable in your area, or you don’t have time.  The only thing I would say has to be absolutely grown chemical free is the lemons because you’ll eat the rind and that’s really hard to clean the chemicals off of. Other than that, you’re good to go.

Much love, may you be blessed with good health, a sound mind, and joy.

Chicken Soup with Roasted Lemon

recipe based on 2 people, but how much one person needs for their body.  Simply increase the amounts for a family.

4 cups chicken broth (for 2 people)

1 cup chicken bone broth (for 2 people)  If you don’t have bone broth, don’t worry about it.  Just add 1/2 t apple cider vinegar to the pot

This now makes 5 cups broth that you add to the pot

1/4 C finely chopped celery

1/4 C finely chopped onion (a little less actually)

1/4 C finely chopped carrot

Lots of rosemary

a little bit of olive oil

Fresh lemon, 1/4 per person

Leftover roasted chicken.  Bones, cartilage, skin removed.  The amount of meat doesn’t matter – but if someone is healthy they can eat about 1/4 C of chopped meat. It’s the fat that is important.

Heat a stock pot to med low and add a bit of olive oil.  Pour in the onions, carrots, celery and rosemary.  Cook until onion is almost translucent and then add the stock and the chicken.

Simmer for a few hours, inhaling often.

Meanwhile, cut thin slices of lemon and place on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.  Drizzle olive oil over the top of the slices and roast at about 400 F for about 10 minutes.

Let soup cool and remove bones and any leftover cartilage or gross stuff from the broth.  Reheat when ready to serve.  Most of my broth has salt in it, so I don’t add any more, but taste it and see if it needs any salt or pepper.

Ladle into bowls and place the lemon slices on top.  Sprinkle with a bit more rosemary, fresh if you have it, and fresh parsley and thyme. Let everyone know they can eat the soft, cooked lemon slices.

I don’t put noodles in this, but I do serve bread on the side.  The very sick don’t eat the bread, and probably won’t eat the meat either.  If they are very sick, just the broth with a tiny bit of the vegetables are all they need.  Usually they don’t want to eat because the neurological effects hit the digestive process and hunger response.  But – part of the healing process is for the child or person to at least have a little and make themselves even if they don’t want to.  Bit by bit they will get stronger.

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Honey Scented Rosemary Mint Carrots

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Just a bit of seasoning for this side dish.  The barest hint of flavor, and the quiet scent of honey (miele) and herbs on a breeze.

Some side dishes shine as a main meal.  This delicate carrot recipe sounds like a supporting actor.  In my opinion, it’s no peas and carrots.  If you’ve never had a supper of peas and carrots by themselves, then it’s possible you’ve never had chocolate chip cookies for breakfast.

I’m just saying, and it’s all I have to say about that.

The first time we ate these carrots, they were served with roasted potatoes (sprinkled with Reishi mushroom powder and Maldon salt when they emerged from the oven).  The pic is here.  That’s a phenomenal, melt in your mouth halibut on top.  That is not allegory, the fish actually melted in your mouth.

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We couldn’t eat everything, so a day later we had potatoes and these carrots, with a little bit of the fish. By little bit, I mean, like hardly any fish. Completely different meal.

Without further adieu, here is the recipe (ricetta).

Honey Scented Rosemary Mint Carrots

4 cups thin sliced carrots

1 C water

4 inches fresh rosemary stalk with leaves

6-8 fresh mint leaves

1 t honey

Put all ingredients (except honey) in a tall narrow pot, cover, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 20 minutes.  Stir during this time, so the carrots are basically steamed in their own juices.

Remove from heat and stir in honey.

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Garlic Shrimp with Avocado Basil Salad

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It’s difficult to tell from the title, but basil is the inspiration for this dish.  If you live in an area with four distinct seasons, cooler weather means the end of outside basil plants.  It’s time to make a lot of recipes with this summer herb before the first frost kills it off.  It’s also time to start rooting new plants indoors, so you can enjoy it’s fresh, flowery aroma in the cold winter months.

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Rooting a basil plant is easy.  Cut a stem beneath a node (a node is a small bump that will grow leaves), and remove the leaves growing from the bottom of the stem.  Do you see the little bumps with leaves growing from it?  Those are the nodes.

Dip the stem in honey, and then place the little plant in a glass of water.

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Keep this cutting indoors, and out of direct sunlight.  Change the water every other day or so, and soon you’ll have long white roots growing along the stem.  At that point, go ahead and plant it in soil.

This entire meal was created for the basil.  I wanted to make something with it, but I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to make.  Tomatoes taste great with basil, and I had some tomatoes.  Corn tastes good with basil, and roasted hot peppers like jalapeño also taste good with corn.  I don’t know the name of this pepper, but it’s popular in Italy and is a fine substitute for a  jalapeño.

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Shrimp tastes good with corn, and it also tastes good with basil and garlic, rucola adds a great peppery taste to tomatoes, and since I had an avocado I figured that its rich and creamy texture would cool down the hot pepper.

I used a bit of Churrasco BBQ seasoning I had purchased on a whim.  The label listed ancho peppers and smoked salt amongst a lot of other tasty herbs and spices and those all sounded good to me.  Glad I picked it up!  It’s a great blend I can use for a lot of different things.

Just a little bit on the shrimp to bring out the flavors in the rest of the dish.

This really turned out nice, and tastes as great as it looks.  Two days later we had a guest over for supper, and we shared a lovely meal with a lovely wine. Twice in one week was just fine for this dish, and we’ll certainly be eating it again.

Garlic Shrimp with Avocado Basil Salad

Serves 3-4

1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 t Churrasco BBQ seasoning

1/4 t salt

1 C sweet corn

2 C chopped tomatoes

2 T roasted (or grilled) hot pepper, peeled, ribs and seeds taken out, minced

4 Cups Rucola (also known as Rocket or Arugula)

1/4 C basil, chiffonade

1/2 avocado per person, sliced

*tips* – If you char your your pepper on the grill, you may want to cut a small slit in it.  I had a pepper bomb go off and the sound was impressive.  Thankfully no one was hurt, but next time they’re all getting a ventilation hole cut in them.

If your tomatoes have a lot of liquid in them, simply let them drain in a colander for a little bit before mixing with the rest of the salad.

Combine all salad ingredients except the avocado. Slice the avocado at the end so it doesn’t oxidize.

Combine the shrimp, a drizzle of olive oil, garlic and spices in a glass dish, and stir well.  Heat about a quarter cup of olive oil in a saute pan set over low heat, and transfer the shrimp to the pan.  Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes per side.  Add more olive oil if you need it. Timing depends on the shrimp, but once it changes color and starts to curl you are ready to go.  It will continue to cook once you take the pan off the heat and serve it.

Slice the avocado, plate each dish, and serve with a nice wine!

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Dang Good Oatmeal Choco Chip Corn Nut Cookies

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“Hmmm…” Thought I.  “I bet these corn nuts (maize tostada) would taste good in a dessert.”

“And…”  Thought I, “those chocolate chip cookies with the pumpkin seeds (semi di zucca)  were really good.  I wonder how they made them?”

“Oh look!”  Thought I with an exclamation point! “Oat flour!”

And that is how these dang good cookies came to be.

My husband likes them with a caffè (coffee) for dessert or a snack, and with tea (tè) for breakfast.  I like them Americana style with a glass of cold, raw milk on the side.

This recipe makes 18 cookies as measured out with an ice cream scoop.  Make sure to leave some space between them so each cookie has some room to spread.

*note* I used 1 tsp Lievito Pane Degli Angeli as a substitute for 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 t vanilla extract because I couldn’t find any regular baking powder.  I like the rising power of the Paneangeli, but I don’t really care for the artificial vanilla taste it has.

Dang Good Oatmeal Choco Chip Corn Nut Cookies

1/2 C (113 g) butter, room temp

1/2 C brown raw sugar (can substitute regular light brown sugar, packed)

1/2 C raw sugar (can use regular sugar)

1 large pasture egg, room temp

3/4 C white flour

1/2 C oat flour

1 t lievito pane degli angeli

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 C rolled or quick cooking oats

1/4 C pumpkin seeds

1/4 C chopped corn nuts

1/4 C chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla extract (if using) and cream again.

In separate bowl whisk the flours, lievito pane degli angeli, and baking soda.

Add about 1/2 the flour mixture, mix well, and then add the remaining dry flour mixture, mixing well, and scraping the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated.

Add the oats, pumpkin seeds, corn nuts and chocolate chips.  Mix well with a wooden spoon.

Put into refrigerator and chill while you preheat the oven to 325 F.  Line a baking sheet with oven paper.  Once the oven has reached temperature, take out the cookie dough and measure out each cookie with an ice cream scoop.  Gently flatten the top of each cookie but don’t worry about a perfect shape.  The nooks and crannies help it to cook into crispy edges.

Cook for 10-12 minutes or until they are lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let cool down on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling grate.

IF, and I’m not saying you will, but IF you decide that you absolutely must have just a little taste after it comes out of the oven, you will notice that the cookie is ALMOST completely cooked in the inside, but not all the way.  That is perfectly okay.  The cookies will continue to finish cooking on the pan and as they cool down.

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Fresh Zucchini and Rucola Salad

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This beautiful, end of summer salad is just what you were looking for.

It’s simple – ingredients can be swapped out.

It’s malleable – side dish or a veggie main course.

It also counts as a pantry raid recipe because it was prepared with several ingredients that would have gone bad if we didn’t eat them NOW.

The potatoes, for example, were carried home from a meal I couldn’t finish at a restaurant.  The rucola, not rotten, was pretty wilted and dry.

The red onion was the last and smallest little guy, and the tomato had just a few slices taken off of it for a sandwich the previous day.

Tonight we are having a grilled sumac chicken, and this fresh salad is going to be superb.  There is a bit of heat on the chicken, and the char from the barbeque will pair for well with this fresh and light side.

Zucchini and Rucola Salad

1 C zucchini, chopped

1 small can sweet corn

1 clove garlic, minced

1 medium red tomato, chopped

handful rucola

1 C roasted potato, chopped

fresh squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, Maldon salt, fresh ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl.  Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top and drizzle olive oil.

Stir.

Add salt and pepper, stir, Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Carrot and Chickpea Soup

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Proud of this one.

Satisfying and easy to digest at the same time?  Check.

Nutritious?  Check.

Tastes really good so you don’t have to tell anyone it’s vegan, dairy free, or gluten free?  Check.

Plus, you can reduce the amount of broth to make it a puree to place underneath a charred cauliflower steak.

This recipe is for 2, when the only thing you are having is soup for supper.

Carrot and Chickpea Soup

6 good sized carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces, drizzled with olive oil and salt, and roasted for about an hour – I think this is about 1/2 kilo, or about an American pound

2 1/2 C vegetable stock

1/2 yellow onion minced

1 clove roasted garlic minced

2 medium tomato chopped

1 1/2 T Curry seasoning

Pinches of salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.

1 1/2 T curry seasoning

Rinse and drain a can of chickpeas.  Put on music, and take the membrane off the chickpea.  Put chickpeas in food processor.

Drizzle carrots with olive oil and salt,roast, and let cool.  I never peel them if I’m roasting.

In a small saucepan, with low heat, toast the curry seasoning. Add chopped onion and garlic clove with olive oil and cook on low heat until the onion is translucent but getting to be a bit brown but juicy.

Let everything cool, and then stick it in the processor with the beans.

Now you have chickpeas, carrots, onions, and garlic in olive oil, and the vegetable broth.

You need to do the chickpeas first, because they can get nice and fluffy, and that makes a difference.  Whir them up with some broth (better if the broth is COLD) and the oil of the carrot and garlic.  Add the carrots and the rest of the cooked items.  Put the oil from the carrot cooking in first, then do the cold broth.

Whip until fluffy and transfer to a pot..  Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for only about 30 minutes.