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Brown Rice Pulp Chips (+ rice milk)

Brown Rice Pulp Chips

                                                               Brown Rice Pulp Chips

I occasionally want to use rice milk in cooking, but I really dislike all the commercial rice milks that I’ve tried. I find them thin and flavorless. But in trying to use up  some leftover rice, I discovered that by adjusting the amount of water (and using really good rice, I could make a thick, almost cream-like rice milk that worked pretty well in baking. I still don’t really like rice milk for drinking — there’s something sort of “dry” about the flavor. That’s odd, I know, but that’s the best description I can come up with.

Anyway, any time I’m making rice and think I’ll have time for rice milk later in the week, I make a cup or two extra. It doesn’t take that much longer in the rice cooker. I’ll take the leftover rice and let it soak in mason jars overnight, and then blend it up the next day. If you strain it, it’s nice and smooth (depending on what you want to use it for, consider not straining it. It seems to add some bulk to bread and cake unstrained, but none of those recipes are blog-ready, I’m still playing.) But I hate throwing out the pulp and wondered if I could season it and make crackers out of it.

It worked! But they really have more of a chip texture than a cracker, so I’m calling these chips. I did these in the dehydrator, but if you don’t have one, I’m guessing that doing this on low in the oven would work. The times I’ve given will be wrong, though. I didn’t try this because I’ve not made them yet this summer when it was cool enough to want to use the oven. You can also use whatever seasoning you like, but I don’t really recommend a salt-free one. Those turned out really bland. I tried a bunch of the seasonings in my kitchen, and I’ve listed what I liked best.

On rice: I use a brown jasmine rice I buy in large bags at the Asian market in Nashua. Brown jasmine is my “all-purpose” rice at this point in time. It’s likely that the brown rice adds to the leftover pulp, so I would suggest using brown rice for this. But if you try it with a white rice — or something else, please let us know in the comments. You do get rice cream (which is easily thinned down to rice milk) and crackers out of this, so it’s a 2-for-1 recipe.

I did not give an exact number of chips, as it’s come out a little different each time for me, despite all attempts to create stringent measurements. Since this is basically a way to use up something you’d throw out otherwise, maybe a little uncertainty is okay?

Brown Rice Pulp Chips up close

                                                                  Brown Rice Pulp Chips up close

Brown Rice Pulp Chips

Fill a quart mason jar with the rice, lightly packing it in. Fill the jar with water. Put it in the fridge overnight. I’m not 100% sure it needs to be refrigerated, but better safe than sorry. The rice will soak up a lot of this water, and I think it makes a smoother milk.

Empty the water and about half the rice from the jar into your blender. Add a cup of water and blend. If you need more water, add it, but your goal is to blend the smoothest rice milk with the least amount of water here. You will need more, but add it gradually

Repeat with the other half of the rice, but add about 1 1/2 cups of water to begin, as you don’t have leftover soaking water.

Now strain the rice milk through a fine sieve. Keep stirring the mush to drain as much milk as possible out of the rice pulp.

I usually get about a quart of rice cream out of this.

With the leftover pulp, drop in about 1 Tablespoon blobs onto the fruit roll trays of your dehydrator (or onto a cookie sheet if you’re trying the oven). Sprinkle generously with seasoning.

Run the dehydrator at 155ºF for 9 hours, and check to see if your chips are crispy. They may need a little more time when it’s humid out. Lock these up in an airtight container to keep.

Strawberry Mojito Fruit Leather (non-alcoholic!)

Strawberry Mojito Fruit Leather

Strawberry Mojito Fruit Leather

I have a dehydrator! One of Denise’s friends is clearing things out, I guess, and when she asked if I wanted a dehydrator, I jumped on it. I’ve tried some straight up fruit so far, but I was most excited about making jerky and home-made fruit rollups, as well as drying some of my herbs this summer.

I really like fruit leather as a snack. It’s almost as good as candy, and I had some ideas. First up: strawberry mojito. This is a super easy recipe — IF you have a dehydrator. If you don’t and want to try making these, ask around and see if you can borrow one. It takes about 8 hours to dehydrate these. You will need the liquid trays. This recipe is scaleable — I’m writing it for ONE dehydrator tray, but you’ll run it with four trays (at a minimum). Try other flavors, increase it by 4, or add other food to the other trays.

AGAIN: THIS MAKES ONE TRAY. Scale up as needed, or try your own flavors.

Strawberry Mojito Fruit Leather

Strawberry Mojito Fruit Leather

Strawberry Mojito Fruit Leather

  • 1 pound of strawberries, washed, with hulls and stems removed
  • 1/4 cup lime juice, fresh squeezed
  • 1 Tablespoon, packed, mint leaves, chopped finely

Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pour slowly into dehydrator tray and tilt, if needed to spread it out. Dehydrate at medium (140ºF) for 8-10 hours (it may take longer if it’s humid.)

Peel and eat. Will keep for about 2 weeks in airtight containers, maybe slightly longer. I wrapped mine in plastic wrap so that I’d get the experience of peeling them off the wrap — part of the remembered joys of fruit rollups.

My apologies for the rather dull photos. I didn’t check them this time around and by the time I noticed all my “pretty” photos were blurry, I’d eaten all the fruit leather. They tasted great.

Chopped Cobbish Salad in a Jar, gluten-free, allergy-friendly

Chopped Cobbish Salad in Jars

Chopped Cobbish Salad in Jars

This recipe comes from two sources. First, a salad I read about on a menu and was really excited to try — until I was informed by our knowledgeable server that all the sauces and dressings at the restaurant were unsafe for me. How is it possible that not a single sauce was allergy-friendly? I don’t know. I was grateful to be steered away from food that would make me ill, and I ate my boring but properly cooked plain food instead. But I was still thinking about it, and figured I could absolutely whip up an awesome chopped salad. Secondly, after all the ingredients were chopped, it was so gorgeous that I thought I could use the “salads in mason jars” technique that is all over the food internets to make a) better photos, and b) lunch.

Keeping salad in a mason jar allows you to put the dressing on the bottom and layer the ingredients so they do not get smushed or soggy. Layer something that won’t absorb the dressing and get soggy on the bottom — I put the chicken down there. Carrots, celery, corn, bacon on top of that. Avocado under tomato (so the acid would keep the avocado green), a sprinkle of Daiya cheddar shreds (absolutely optional), and some sprouts on top. Instead of croutons, I’ve used roasted fingerling potato slices. I served it all over spinach, but use whatever greens you prefer. The dressing in this case is a super simple cilantro-lime vinaigrette, using frozen chopped cilantro (but use fresh if you’ve got it!).

Chop everything up. Add or replace ingredients as you choose — go for color. Think about your layers a bit, but layer it into jars and go to town. Lunch for days, in the time for one meal prep. It’s color, freshness, and portable flavor. This recipe makes about 4 pint jar salads (with the greens kept separate). You will likely have leftover potatoes and chicken.

Plated salad over spinach

Plated salad over spinach

Chopped Cobbish Salad, in a jar, gluten-free, allergy-friendly

  • 4 teaspoons chopped cilantro (thawed, if previously frozen)
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 4 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 6 Tablespoons best-quality olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • olive oil to coat
  • seasoned salt or spice mix of your choice
  • fingerling or other small potatoes, sliced thin or chopped small
  • chicken breast
  • mixed herb seasoning of your choice
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped small, or shredded
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1 ear corn, cooked and removed from cob, or 1/2 cup defrosted
  • grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • sprouts
  • spinach or other greens
Can you see why this needed to be layered into a jar?

Can you see why this needed to be layered into a jar?

First, cook your cooked ingredients.

Roasted potatoes for “croutons”: Pre-heat oven to 425°F. Wash and slice. Toss potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoned salt or other spice of your choice. Bake 20 minutes or until crispy. I can’t tell you how many of these to make — I always make a full pan because they make great snacks.

Cook your chicken breasts. I prefer to grill them on my little electric grill, but you can always use this method.

Cook your bacon until crispy, drain and crumble.

Okay. Now on to the vegetables. You’re looking for about 1/2 a cup of each vegetable, divided up into 4 servings. Given that the corn and tomatoes are sort of pre-sized, aim to get everything else between those two sizes.

Now mix up your dressing — whisk or put all the ingredients in a jar and shake. Add about 1-2 Tablespoons of dressing to each jar, depending on how much dressing you like (and remember you’ll be putting this over additional greens). Then layer in the rest of the food. I put the sprouts on top so I could pack them in. Cap it, put it in the fridge, and look forward to your next meal. When ready to serve, I tipped the jars over and shook them a little. Put the greens down on a plate and pour over the rest of the goodies. I pulled the sprouts aside so that I could use them to swipe the rest of the dressing out of the jar.

The longest I’ve kept a jar salad around was 2 days — they might last a bit more, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Jars flipped upside down to let the dressing mix in

Jars flipped upside down to let the dressing mix in

Beef Satay – Gluten-free with Soy-free option

Beef Satay - Gluten-free with Soy-free option

Beef Satay – Gluten-free with Soy-free option

I used to order chicken satay all the time, before the chicken and corn allergies reared their ugly heads. Since I can’t have chicken, and I’ve been craving satay, I decided to try the beef version to see if that would get rid of the craving, which it did. It was so yummy. If you can have chicken, try it with chicken too and let me know how it was, so I can live through you vicariously. If you have a soy allergy (I don’t), try this with Mary Kate’s Soy-Free, gluten-free “Tamari Sauce” and let us know how it worked out for you.

Beef Satay – Gluten-free with Soy-free option

  • 1 to 2 pound flank steak

Beef Satay Marinade:

  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 small onion, peeled and diced roughly (it’s going in the blender or food processor, so don’t stress over it)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Sriracha (use a safe version for you, I ferment my own at home, since I don’t have a safe version)
  • 3 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce (I do well with San-J Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce, the alcohol is from cane sugar not corn, but if you can’t use soy, try Mary Kate’s recipe for a Soy-Free, gluten-free “Tamari Sauce” )
  • 4 Tablespoons of a safe oil for you (I used grape seed and olive oil because I ran out of grape seed in the middle)
  • 3 Tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of dried lemongrass (if you’ve got fresh, use it, but it’s often hard to get here)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons of ground coriander
  • 2 Tablespoons of ground turmeric

Equipment:

  • food processor or blender
  • a baking rack
  • a sheet pan safe for the broiler
  • bamboo skewers (optional)
  • food safe and safe for you food prep gloves – you’ll need them to put the beef on skewers or you’ll have really yellow fingers as turmeric stains, which is a vast understatement.

Place all the marinade ingredients in a food processor or blender, and puree them into oblivion. They should be the consistency of a smoothie when you’re finished.

Beef Satay marinade pureed into oblivion

Beef Satay marinade pureed into oblivion

Cut your flank steak across the grain into long strips about an inch and a half wide, as these will end up going onto skewers. Place the flank steak and the marinade into a zip top bag, making sure that the marinade covers all pieces of the flank, and squeezing out any air.

Beef Satay marinating in a zip top bag

Beef Satay marinating in a zip top bag

Marinate overnight, or at least 4-5 hours. When I made them, I marinated them in the morning for that evening’s dinner. I’d say that they marinated for about 10 to 11 hours and that worked fine.

If you’re using the bamboo skewers, it’d be a really good idea to soak them in water for an hour or two before cooking them. I soaked them for about 15 minutes and it was clearly not enough time, as some of the sticks charred and burned a bit (okay, a lot).

Once your flank steak is finished marinating, turn on your oven’s broiler and let it heat up. I put the oven rack in the top-most position, but you may need to move it down one depending on the height of your baking rack and baking sheet. Place the baking rack on the baking sheet, and put on your food safe prep gloves. Over a surface that won’t stain, or you don’t care if it stains (I used a cutting board), slide the strips of beef on to the skewers and put them on the rack.

Flank steak skewered but before cooking

Flank steak skewered but before cooking

When you have skewered all the beef strips, place the baking sheet in the oven and broil for 5 minutes, or until you see some crispy bits and then flip the skewers over, and broil on the other side for 5 minutes. It make take more or less time depending on how hot your oven is, or how thick your flank steak is, but you’re looking for an internal temperature of 135°F for medium rare if you’ve got a thermometer.

Beef Satay after broiling

Beef Satay after broiling

It make take more or less time depending on how hot your oven is, or how thick your flank steak is, but you’re looking for an internal temperature of 135°F for medium rare if you’ve got a thermometer.

Beef Satay - Gluten-free with Soy-free option

Beef Satay – Gluten-free with Soy-free option

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Hoisin Sauce – Gluten-free with Soy-free option

Hoisin Sauce - Gluten-free with Soy-free option

Hoisin Sauce – Gluten-free with Soy-free option

Hoisin sauce was just another well-loved condiment no longer within my grasp until I found a recipe and modified it to be safe for me. If you have a soy allergy (I don’t) try this with Mary Kate’s Soy-Free, gluten-free “Tamari Sauce” and let us know how it worked out for you.

Hoisin Sauce – Gluten-free with Soy-free option

Makes 3 cups.

  • 1/2 of a 15 ounce can of Black Beans, rinsed and drained (I use my home canned, but use what’s safe for you.)
  • 1 Tablespoon of either Sesame Oil, Chili Oil or other safe for you oil (I can’t use Sesame, so I made a homemade Chili oil with my safe oil.)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of minced Garlic
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of Molasses
  • 2 Tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar (Bragg’s is generally safest for those with corn allergies)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Rice Vinegar
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce (I do well with San-J Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce, the alcohol is from cane sugar not corn, but if you can’t use soy, try Mary Kate’s recipe for a Soy-Free, gluten-free “Tamari Sauce” )
  • 1 Tablespoon of water
  • 1/8 teaspoon of crushed red pepper

In a food processor, purée the black beans into a fine paste. If it is too thick and doesn’t process well, add a little bit of water (1 teaspoon at a time) until you can continue to pulse the black beans. They should be puréed into mush.

In a non-reactive pan (I used an enameled cast iron pan), heat the oil until it is hot, but not yet smoking. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes (don’t let it turn brown).

Once the garlic is cooked, add all ingredients to your pan and stir together really well. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. The sauce should coat and stick to the back of a wooden spoon when it is ready.

Remove from heat immediately and let it cool before placing it a container in the refrigerator. I put mine in a squeeze bottle so I can use it easily whenever I want.

Enjoy with all your favorite Asian and Asian-inspired dishes!

 

Amanda and Ken’s Smoky Sweet Potato Soup

Amanda & Ken's Smoky Sweet Potato Soup

Amanda & Ken’s Smoky Sweet Potato Soup

Note (note 1): This post seems to have a lot of notes.

My last year of grad school, my two roommates and I hosted somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 people for Thanksgiving.  We added all the leaves of my drop-leaf table (I’m the last of the grandkids to get it, and it seats 12), plus several desks and side tables and created this huge banquet table that took up our whole living room.  It was honestly possibly the best Thanksgiving dinner ever.  There was SO MUCH food, and it was all amazing — and all done on grad school food budgets.

[Vaguely related side-note (note 2): It did not hurt the situation that apparently, people don’t love pumpkin pie as much as I do, and leftovers consisted of an entire pie that no one else in my house wanted.  I ate it.  All of it.  To our lovely readers: if anyone knows of a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, SOY-free pumpkin pie recipe that works, please please please please share.  I will be forever in your debt.]

This amazing recipe was made by my friends Amanda and Ken (who also brought something else reasonably gourmet for grad school.  It involved fancy cheese and mushrooms, I think.)  Neither of them remembers where the recipe came from, and apparently neither one has a copy anymore.  This isn’t the original anyway, but it’s still perfect — thick and creamy, smoky and sweet, and possibly the most perfect welcome to fall soup ever.

Note about measurements (note 3): This is not a recipe in which all ingredients must be precisely measured.  It’s more about proportions.  If you get stuck buying a threesome of leeks (like I did) and can’t see where the left-out leek will get used in your weekly meals, add it and cut back the onion a bit.  Adjust the seasonings to your preferences (For example, I often double the amount of nutmeg in this soup, but when making it for other people, who find that overpowering, this is the recipe I use).

Amanda & Ken’s Smoky Sweet Potato Soup

In large sauce pan over medium heat, melt:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy-free Earth Balance

Add:

  • 1 ⅓ cup chopped sweet onion (about 1 medium onion)
  • 2 ¼ cup chopped leek, white and light green only (about 2)*
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

    Nutmegs

    Nutmegs

Cover and cook about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.

Translucent veg

Translucent veg

Add:

  • 2 ⅔ cups cubed sweet potatoes (about 2 smaller tubers)
  • 2 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth

Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, cover and cook until potatoes are tender (about 35 minutes)

Add:

  • Adobo sauce OR chipotle chili**

Puree the soup.  Best way to do this is with an immersion blender, but a blender or food processor, or even food mill, would work.

Serve hot, with chopped cilantro for topping (unless you hate cilantro.  You know who you are.  Just leave it off.)

Standard Recipe Format Ingredients List:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy-free Earth Balance
  • 1 ⅓ cup chopped sweet onion (about 1 medium onion)
  • 2 ¼ cup chopped leek, white and light green only (about 2)*
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 ⅔ cups cubed sweet potatoes (about 2 smaller tubers)
  • 2 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • Adobo sauce OR chipotle chili**

**(note 5): Leeks.  If you’ve used them before, skip this mini-tutorial.  If you’ve never used them before, I think you may love them.  But know before hand that they are dirty dirty vegetables, full of grittiness.  Here’s how I prep them.

Leeks 1

Leeks cut up.

Cut off the tops and bottoms.  Anything above the light green is really tough.

Leeks 2

Sliced lengthwise.

Slice them lengthwise.

Leeks 3

Washing leeks.

Soak them in the sink.  If you have any doubt if this is necessary, look at the grit left in the sink when you drain it.

Proceed by draining the leeks (or just shaking them over the sink if you have little patience) and slice thinly.

**Spice (note 4): chipotle peppers in adobo sauce come in a can, usually from the Mexican foods section of the grocery store.  Chipotle are smoked jalapeño peppers and adobo sauce is a smoky, spicy tomato and vinegar sauce.  This stuff has a good kick to it, so if you haven’t used it before, start conservatively and add more as needed.

What you add from this can will depend on your taste and dining companions, but if you like things a bit spicy (or more than a bit), add one chipotle chili from the can — the chilis vary in size, so root around in there and find one   that’s about your current level of courage.  If you like things a little less hot, add 1-2 tablespoons of just the adobo sauce.  If you have a mix of spice needs in your audience, serve the adobo sauce on the side.

Even if you like things crazy hot, you will have leftovers!  I often store the sauce and peppers separately — the sauce can go in the fridge for about 4 or 5 days (it’s got vinegar in it, but usually no other preservatives).  It also freezes well.  I lay the chilis themselves out on wax paper or parchment over a plate, and throw it in the freezer.  When the peppers are frozen, throw them in a plastic bag.

Easy Buffalo Wings (Two Versions, One Gluten Free)

Why buffalo wings?  Because I love them, and I can’t eat them out anymore. Buffalo wing sauce is generally made with butter or margarine, and therefore contains milk. And depending on the particular restaurant, the breading may contain milk and they might use an egg to coat the chicken before breading it. And many restaurants use wings that are delivered to them already breaded/coated so they have no clue what’s in them unless they still have a box kicking around with the label on it. You can imagine just how much fun this conversation with restaurant servers would be and why it’s not even worth the bother to try – Oh, can you make me a special sauce that doesn’t contain any milk or milk products, and by the way, margarine contains dairy.  And even though you get the wings pre-breaded, can you find some wings that aren’t coated and cook them for me? Yeah, right. Not happening in this universe. Secondly, although I learned how to deep fry with a stockpot and a candy/frying thermometer while we were working on one of our recipes, I’m not frying on a work night and cleaning that up. So the recipe had to be baked. I started with this recipe and modified it to be dairy free, and then did a gluten-free version too, even though Mary Kate doesn’t really care for buffalo wings. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can take the cooked chicken wings and make any sauce you want and then coat them with it. So if you don’t like buffalo wings, experiment. Tell us what you used for alternate sauces.

Easy Buffalo Wings (Dairy-free, BUT NOT gluten-free version)

Easy Buffalo Wings (Dairy-free, BUT NOT gluten-free version)

Wings and Coating:

  • 36 chicken wing pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt or spicy seasoned salt, such as Penzey’s Spicy 4/S Salt or Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of Penzey’s Forward Seasoning (If you don’t have this, mix some black pepper, onion powder, paprika, garlic powder, and turmeric together to equal 1 teaspoon)

Buffalo Wing Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot
  • 6 Tablespoons Earth Balance Soy Free Vegan margarine

Wings Coated on Baking Sheet

Cooked Wings on Baking Sheet

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  In a bowl toss the wings with the oil, and salt. Place flour and Forward seasoning into a gallon zip lock bag and seal closed.  Shake to evenly distribute flour and Forward seasoning.  Add a few wing pieces and shake to coat evenly. Remove wings from the bag, shaking off excess flour, and spread out evenly on oiled baking pan(s). Do not crowd. Repeat until all wings are coated. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, turn the wings over, and cook another 20-25 minutes, or until the wings are cooked through and browned.

Sauce Ingredients in Saucepan

Completed Buffalo Sauce

While the wings are baking, mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a pan, and over low heat bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and then turn off.

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Happy Layers Nacho Dip

Happy Layers Nacho Dip

Happy Layers Nacho Dip

This is that layered Mexican dip that someone always brings to a potluck.  I don’t recall being a huge fan of it in the pre-diagnosis days, but it was one of the random things I really missed when I suddenly couldn’t have it.  This version is only 4 layers (no sour cream and no olives), but feel free to add the olives if that’s your scene.  Neither Denise nor I have found a good substitute for sour cream if you’re dairy and soy free (I liked the Tofutti when I still was eating soy).

Two of the layers are adapted recipes — the nacho cheez is my final version of Joanne Stepaniak’s nacho cheese from  The Uncheese Cookbook.   Go check out the original and play around with it — it offers a lot of latitude in choice of flours and non-dairy milk.  This is one of my go-to comfort food recipes on work days now (the cheez alone, with chips, not this dip).  The red lentil “refried beans” are slightly adapted from Heather Van Vorous’ Eating for IBS.

This was one of my first experiments for allergen-free cooking for parties, and I’m pretty happy with it.  Make sure to plan ahead — you need perfectly ripe avocados for this recipe, a bit soft, but not yet squishy.  Leftovers will keep for 4-5 days, but they do get a little squishy and the avocado will brown a little.  Just a little though, because of the layering.

A note on formatting — this is how I write out recipes for myself, with ingredients grouped by step, not all at the beginning.  I find I’m less likely to get lost in the recipe this way.  I would love to know what you think of it.  I’ve put a full ingredient list at the bottom, for those of you who are traditionalists.

Happy Layers Nacho Dip

This is a four layer dip.  The recommended layer order is important to the structural integrity of the dish, as well as its freshness.

Grease a 11×8 glass pan.

Layer One: “Refried” Beans

In saucepan, mix:

red lentils

red lentils

  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and sorted
  • 2 ¾ cups water
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Bring to boil.  Reduce heat to simmer.  Whisk occasionally, cooking until smooth consistency, about 40 minutes.

"Refried" lentils

“refried” lentils

Let briefly cool, and then smooth into pan.  Let cool completely.  If you want to do this step the night before, go ahead.

Layer Two: Guacamole

Homemade Guacamole

homemade guacamole

Best to keep this one simple.  Smash together:

  • 2-3 ripe Haas avocados
  • large pinch of kosher salt
  • juice of ½ to 1 fresh lime (use your judgement — you want smooth, but not liquidy)

You can use a potato masher, a pastry cutter, or a fork to smash avocados.  I prefer a fork.  You could use the large Florida avocados, if you get them, but I find them too often bad up here.  Could just be the distance.  They are enough bigger that you’d likely only need one.  Smooth guac over top of the beans in the pan.

Layer Three: Nacho Cheeze

In medium saucepan, over medium heat, whisk together:

  • ½ cup garbanzo bean flour
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoky Spanish paprika (pimentón), or, if you do not have this, use regular paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you are Denise or just like it really hot)

Whisk together all dry ingredients first.  Then add

  • ¼ cup olive oil

    Nacho Cheez dip in its primordial state

    Nacho Cheez dip in its primordial state

Whisk together

  • Add 2 cups unsweetened rice milk

Cook over medium heat until mixture reaches a boil and starts to thicken.

  • Add either fresh chopped cilantro or about 2 teaspoons (two cubes) of frozen herbs.

Pour over the first two layers and smooth on carefully — getting sort of a seal of the cheez layer is what keeps the guacamole layer green.  Cover and chill.

Top with a final layer of salsa just before serving — tomatillo salsa (the green one) highly recommended for flavor, but traditional red salsa provides more color contrast. Or hey, get festive like I did in the top photo, and attempt stripes! Note: Salsa is not easily constrained to your decorative purposes.

Serve cold, with tortilla chips.

Dip on Chips

Happy Layer Nacho Dip on chips (with ominous camera shadow)

Full Ingredients List in Traditional Cookbook Order:

Refried Lentils
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and sorted
2 ¾ cups water
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Guacamole
2-3 ripe Haas avocados
large pinch of kosher salt
juice of ½ to 1 fresh lime (use your judgement — you want smooth, but not liquidy)

Nacho Cheez
½ cup garbanzo bean flour
½ cup nutritional yeast flakes
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon smoky Spanish paprika (pimentón), or, if you do not have this, use regular paprika
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon dried mustard
2 teaspoons dried oregano
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you are Denise or just like it really hot)
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups unsweetened rice milk
2 teaspoons chopped cilantro (I use the convenient frozen cubes). Add more if you like.

Jar of salsa for topping. Takes about 1/3 to 1/2 of a regular-sized jar.

Wine Smoothies

So, it’s Labor Day. If you have the day off, and if you imbibe alcohol, you might want to try some wine smoothies.  You might note that neither of these recipes contain bananas which many smoothies do.  That’s because I really, really HATE bananas.  I know, it’s a weird thing, but I don’t even want them in our apartment because I can still smell them, even though I’m not going to touch them with a ten foot pole and my husband likes them.  Also, Mary Kate is allergic to bananas, so really it’s all about her, and not my irrational hatred of them.  So feel free to use these recipes as a starting point and then experiment on your own, adding other fruits or ingredients that you might enjoy. I also use frozen fruit, because (a) if it’s frozen, it’s always on hand; (b) I don’t have to plan ahead; and (c) you don’t have to use it up before it goes bad or do any prep work.  Using the frozen fruit creates more of a daiquiri effect, but I’m cool with that.  But if you want to use fresh fruit that works great too.

Sangria Red Wine Smoothie

Sangria Red Wine Smoothie

Sangria Red Wine Smoothie

  • 2/3 cup of red wine (A Merlot or a Shiraz would be nice, but don’t get anything expensive, it’s going to be blended with fruit. It’s time for that $6.00 bottle from the grocery store to shine.)
  • 1/2 cup of fruit juice of your choice (I used Chiquita strawberry-kiwi because that’s what I had in the refrigerator on hand, but any fruit juice would work.  Orange juice would be really nice to continue the sangria theme.)
  • 1 Tablespoon of lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons of sugar, agave syrup, or honey, whatever sweetener you’d prefer.
  • 1 cup of frozen peaches
  • 1 cup of frozen mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries)

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Makes 2 servings.  Or one really big serving as shown above, if you don’t want to share, and you don’t need to go anywhere for a bit.  You may also want to strain out the seeds from the raspberries and blackberries, but I don’t bother.

Peachy Keen White Wine Smoothie

Peachy Keen White Wine Smoothie

Peachy Keen White Wine Smoothie

  • 2/3 cup of white wine (A Riesling or a Pinot Grigio would be nice. You could use Chardonnay, but I find it too oak-y for my taste. Again, don’t get anything expensive.)
  • 1/2 cup of fruit juice of your choice (I used Chiquita strawberry-kiwi because that’s what I had in the refrigerator on hand, but any fruit juice would work. Apple, Orange or White Cranberry would be lovely too.)
  • 2 Tablespoons of sugar, agave syrup, or honey, whatever sweetener you’d prefer.
  • 2 cups of frozen peaches

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Makes 2 servings.

Somewhat Germanic Potato Salad

Somewhat Germanic Potato Salad, Vegan

Somewhat Germanic Potato Salad, Vegan

I am not a religious person, but if there is one thing that makes me believe there might be some grand design to the world, it’s potatoes.  They are a wonderful, versatile, almost perfect food (only “almost” because they don’t greatly lend themselves to dessert, Grand Forks’ chocolate-covered potato chips notwithstanding).  I feel as though I could do a pretty good Irish potato-lover’s version of the Forest Gump shrimp monologue, and I’ve prepared potatoes about a hundred million different ways.

But for picnics, for the upcoming Labor Day festivities, for an end-of-summer celebration? Potato salad is where it’s at.  Potato salad is the one socially-acceptable way to eat cold potatoes; it’s perfect for a hot day, travels well, and in a mayo-free version, is both allergen-free and pretty temperature stable.  As an added bonus, this one fries up into amazing home fries if any makes it to the next morning.

I developed this recipe in my friend Cathy’s kitchen, adapting the random ideas in my head to what happened to be in her pantry at the time, and it turned out better than all my previous attempts.  This is definitely a tweakable recipe (ask my mother, who asked for the recipe and then proceeded to make it with nearly none of the same ingredients.  She’s like that sometimes).

Somewhat Germanic Potato Salad, Two Ways!

A note on notations — I use the “~” to indicate approximate measurements, indicating that exact measuring for these ingredients is not necessary.  Actually, exact measuring is not necessary for this recipe, but this is how I’ve made it.

Somewhat Germanic Potato Salad, Bacon Lover’s Edition
  • ~ 2 lbs.  potatoes, your choice, washed
  • Water to cover
  • ~1 Tablespoon of salt
  • 4-6 strips of bacon (whatever fits in your skillet, adjusted to how much bacon you like)
  • 1 Tablespoon of bacon fat, reserved
  • 2-4 Tablespoons onion, chopped
  • One bunch of scallions/green onions, chopped and separated (greens from whites)
  • 2 teaspoons dried mustard or 1 Tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 3 teaspoons dried dill or up to 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • Olive oil as needed
  • Salt and pepper as needed

Somewhat Germanic Potato Salad, Vegan Version

  • ~2 lbs.  potatoes, your choice, washed
  • Water to cover
  • ~1 Tablespoon of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon of vegan margarine (I’ve used Earth Balance soy-free)
  • 2-4 Tablespoons onion, chopped
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • One bunch of scallions/green onions, chopped and separated (greens from whites)
  • 2 teaspoons dried mustard or 1 Tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 3 teaspoons dried dill or up to 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • Olive oil as needed
  • Salt and pepper as needed

Step 1: Cook potatoes. This step is the same no matter which version you’re going to make.  Now there are many types of potatoes out there, and any one of them will work for this recipe.  Some will just work better than others.  I personally prefer a more waxy potato for salads, as I think they hold together better.  The local fingerlings that are coming in now are just about perfect.  Red potatoes are probably the best out of the “typical” finds in a grocery store.

Fingerling Potatoes

Fingerling Potatoes

Don’t peel your potatoes unless you really really hate potato skin or maybe are using the thick-skinned Idaho russet potatoes (baking potatoes).  There are lots of vitamins and fiber in the skin, plus it adds texture.  Just wash and scrub the potatoes and boil them in salted water.  I’ve never measured the water or salt I use for this step — cover the potatoes with water, plus about another inch.  For this batch of two pounds, I probably used a tablespoon of salt.

Cover and bring this to a boil on high heat, turn down to medium or low, depending on your stove, but make sure the water keeps boiling.  How long the potatoes will take to cook depends on the size of your potatoes.  Cooking them whole retains more nutrients, but it’s harder to give you a time.  Smaller potatoes take about 15 -20 minutes, larger baking potatoes could take 40 — you might want to cut those in half.

Drain and cool the potatoes, then chop them into bite-sized chunks.

Step 2: Here’s where things diverge into two tracks — the bacon lover’s edition, and the vegan version.  The final effect is mostly the same, but how you get there differs.

Bacon Lover’s Edition, step 2:
Cook bacon. Chop or crumble.  You could chop the bacon ahead of time, but I think it turns out crispier if I cook it in strips and then crumble it.
Dump out most of bacon grease, leaving about 1 T.

Vegan Version, step 2:
Melt about 1.5 T of Earth Balance (I use their soy-free version, but whatever works for you) in a skillet.  Wait until it gets a little sizzle to it.

Back together again, steps 3-6:

Step 3: Saute onion in your chosen fat.  If making the vegan version, add the salt and liquid smoke once the onion has started cooking.

Add white part of scallions when onion is translucent, cook another few minutes.

Potato Salad Vinaigrette Ingredients
Step 4: Sauce it up.
Turn off the heat but leave the skillet on the burner.
Add mustard and dill.  If using prepared mustard, add the vinegar before mixing (trust me).  If using just dry spice, mix before adding vinegar and let the mustard and dill soak up the oil.
Stir in the green parts of the scallions (1/2 cup or so, depending on your bunch).

Vinaigrette

Add a dash or two of olive oil if needed.  You want the end result to be a bit saucy, as the potatoes will soak up the vinaigrette.  I’ve added about 1 Tablespoon in the photo.

Add potatoes, stir, taste — add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm.  Or chill and serve, up to you.  Somewhat Germanic Potato Salad, Vegan
Eat.  Re-fry leftovers and call them “George.”  No, really, call them home fries.  They are awesome.

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