Sage Sweet Potatoes

And now, for the final recipe using homemade tortillas!  Baked sweet potatoes with brown butter and sage.  This will melt in your mouth and fill a light tortilla for a perfect lunch or dinner compliment.

The sage is understated, the browned butter makes it.  And the tortilla is an extra special way of getting the potatoes from the dish to your mouth. 

I tried this recipe, found in Williams-Sonoma’s Cooking From the Farmer’s Market, when my toddler and I needed a creative homemade lunch. 

(Whatchyoudoin’ taking my picture, Mama?)

We’re both fans of anything containing brown sugar; and if that’s you, too, you’ll love it!

(By the way, if you’re looking for a cookbook with drool-worthy photographs, this is it!  My in-laws gave me this treasure for my birthday, and I’m lovin’ it.  I keep it handy to flip through with Riley while I’m working in the kitchen.  Filled with large, boldly colored photographs of fresh local foods, this winner helps me cook, teach and salivate at the same time.  It even makes beets look appetizing.)

Baked Sage Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients

1/2 C + 2 TBS unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

4 lb of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

1/4 C chopped fresh sage (I had to use powdered, so I sort of eye-balled it)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

(I adjusted ingredient measurements as I went.  Obviously, the two of us were not going to eat 4 lb of potatoes alone.  At least we shouldn’t.)

Method

Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Butter a baking dish (I used a small ceramic gratin dish), and place the sweet potatoes in the dish. 

 

In a heavy frying pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the sage and salt and pepper to taste.  Continue to cook until the butter is deep golden brown, about 2 minutes more.

Pour the browned butter over the sweet potatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Cover the dish with aluminum foil.

Bake the sweet potatoes until tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes – just enough time to read a book to your kids, grab a shower, or take a snooze.  Transfer the potatoes to warmed tortillas…

roll the tortillas up any way you want to, and serve.

Sage Sweet Potatoes could easily be cut just like Elegant White Bean Spirals.  You can be unbelievably creative with a tortilla and a knife!

Result

Even fantastic in toddler presentation with apple slices:

This is one of those dishes that would make television chefs go “Mm.  MMM!  mmmm…” the way they love to after tasting anything they’ve made.  It’s so simple.  I think the best foods are.  It will warm you up right down to your toes.

For a picture-free, easy-to-print version of this recipe, please click on the following link:

https://thefullvine.wordpress.com/sage-sweet-potatoes/

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Decadent By Design

I love food.  Unabashedly, I state the truth.

People talk about evolving, about slowly becoming what we are versus what we were…  But why do I have taste buds?  Why do chocolate chips make me swoon?  Why does this photo make me want a tall glass of milk NOW?

I believe life is decadent by design.  Some may call that “hogwash.”  But how come I just typed “hog” and now I have the mysterious urge to wolf down a BLT?

Power of association, pure and simple?  I don’t think so.  I could be digesting sunlight like plants do; but I’m not.  I could be tearing apart raw fish – wait – some people do that voluntarily.  Raw antelope.  That’s better…  But I’m not. 

Believe what you will…  I give props to the Maker of Taste Buds.

Peanut Butter Cigars

I’ll let you in on a little secret:

6 month-old baby on a nap strike + Recipe Book Wednesday = SHORT RECIPE.  Having promised to post a few recipes which include homemade tortillas, I’ll just post the simplest one today.  Hopefully it will only take about 15-20 minutes to write, because I think that may be my window.  🙂 

These were our lunch at the zoo the other day, when it was unseasonably warm and impossible to stay in. 

Whether you need a quick, portable lunch, a snack, or a dessert (throw a few chocolate chips in there), I hope you enjoy.  There’s NOTHING this little recipe can’t do.

Peanut Butter Cigars

Ingredients

Peanut butter

Homemade tortillas

Method

Warm a tortilla.  I prefer to do so in one of three ways:

  • in the oven
  • in a cast iron pan over low heat (so it doesn’t get firm and crispy)
  • in the toaster oven on a low baking setting

Spread a nice, gooey layer of peanut butter on the tortilla, and wrap it up long ways. 

TA DAAAAA!  Done.

Result

You have just created the building block of an incredibly flexible recipe.  Add jelly for a low-carb PB&J.  Slice a banana and tuck it in there for a protein punch.  Sprinkle on chocolate chips and coconut and squirt whipped cream all over the place (hit the tortilla with some – not just your mouth) and you’ve got a decadent dessert. 

The tortillas themselves take so little time and effort to make, I hope you’ll give them a try.  Save your body the effort of absorbing preservatives and needless ingredients, and make your own terrific tortillas!

For a picture-free, easy-to-print version of this recipe, please click on the following link:

https://thefullvine.wordpress.com/peanut-butter-cigars/

I Fired My Microwave

No, I didn’t fire up the microwave.

I fired it.  Gave it walking papers.  See ya.

(I hear Count Dracula organ music here, with a frizzy-haired woman shrieking in the background.  I’ll have to run that by my producers.  snort.)

It’s still around – just in the basement, relegated to a spot on the cold floor in the pantry.  Why, you ask?

  • There’s no space in the kitchen, so it had to take up space in the dining room.  And it was an eyesore.
  • It heats food uneavenly – some mouthfuls are burning hot, others are barely warm.
  • I found myself relying heavily on it, throwing things in there last minute, instead of thinking ahead and preparing somewhat meaningful, fresh meals.
  • It’s a giant pain in the batooka to clean.

I’m still using up leftovers as best as I can.  But they get reheated in a cast iron skillet.  And I know…  There’s probably no real health risk from heating up food in a microwave.  But it still makes me wonder.

(Leftover pasta, reheated in a cast iron skillet with leftover beef stew broth – you know, the stuff that gets left in the bottom of the pot when everyone’s done scooping out their portions.)

(It took all of 3 minutes to stand there and stir them together while the grilled cheese cooked.  This was such a yummy lunch, I may make beef stew just for that purpose some time.)

Food seems to be tastier when it’s reheated on the stovetop, too – or in the toaster oven, or the big oven.  Something about it.  Time?  Maybe.  Thought?  Perhaps.

Maybe it’s just very satisfying to do something that intentionally slows down the pace of life.  Something my ancestors did – heated up lunch without making anything go beep.

I don’t see anything wrong with microwave use.  From time to time, I still use ours.  But I thought I’d put this out there: Does anyone else scratch their head upon hearing that the most needed appliance these days in a North American home is a microwave?

Elegant White Bean Spirals

Last Wednesday, I promised to post recipes that include homemade tortillas.  I aims to be a woman of my word, so here you go:

I stumbled upon this beaut one day when there wasn’t much handy for lunch.  I’d made navy beans the day before for the scrumptious Savory Grain and Bean Pot.  I figured, if you can refry pinto and black beans, why not do the same with white beans and give it a twist?

Let me tell you, my toddler wolfed down this creation – and so did I, without much elegance, as the title would lead you to believe.  It’s too good not to lick your fingers.  Maybe it’s the subtle tang of the yogurt? 

Valentine’s Day is coming up.  If you’re making a special dinner, this is a great compliment as an appetizer or a side.  Think soup, fish, steak, or stew + spirals.  Use your imagination…or just whip it up on a busy weekday when you’re staring into the fridge, scratching your brain for ideas.

Elegant White Bean Spirals

Ingredients

Homemade tortillas

Cooked navy beans (or white beans, pink beans, something light-ish)

Sage, garlic powder, parsley

Butter and oil

Parmesan cheese

Plain yogurt (homemade is the best if you have it!)

Method

Melt butter in a hot skillet and sauté cooked beans.  Add oil (I used grapeseed oil) as needed to make the beans smooth and spreadable.  The butter is mostly for non-sticking purposes and for flavor.

As you sauté the beans, mash them with a fork or potato masher.  Add in the spices.  I use mostly sage with just a hint of garlic (if I feel like it) and a sprinkling of parsley for a little color.

The goal is to get the beans “refried” smooth and tasty, so don’t worry about cooking them for a long time.  Toward the end of their fry, add Parmesan cheese to taste.  Just before serving, stir in enough plain yogurt to make the beans nice and creamy.  I like the addition of yogurt for its tangy zip, and because it makes the beans creamy without using a bathtubful of butter.

Open a warmed tortilla.  Spread a thin layer of white beans over it to the edges.  Roll it up long-ways…

…and cut it into several slices. 

Serve!

Results

Even pretty when it’s chopped up in a toddler-proof wooden bowl…

Fast and easy for lunch…elegant and beautiful for a special dinner or brunch.  Enjoy!

For a picture-free, easy-to-print version of this recipe, please click on the following link:

https://thefullvine.wordpress.com/elegant-white-bean-spirals/

Make Your Own Terrific Tortillas

I’m NEVER going back to store-bought tortillas unless I’m incapacitated.  This recipe is so good!!! 

Today I’ll share the basic formula with you; and in coming weeks I’ll post some recipes I’ve made using these tortillas.

I have several requirements for good homemade tortillas – things I insist on, or else I will not make them:

  • Few ingredients, please, and keep it simple.  I’m busy.
  • They must be easy to roll out.
  • Once they’re rolled out, they have to STAY that way.
  • They have to be tough enough to handle without breaking, thin and flexible enough to become large food holders.
  • They have to taste great!
  • They have to last on the shelf at least a little while.

The following recipe has more than met my stuffy list of requirements and passes the Husband and Toddler tests with flying colors!

Note: This recipe is from More-With-Less.  I had another recipe I used to follow which did not contain shortening.  The darn things were so hard to roll out and kept springing back…it was too frustrating.  These are perfect.

Ingredients

(Makes about 8 large tortillas)

Flour = 2 C.

Salt = 1 tsp.

Lard or shortening = 1/4 C.

Lukewarm water = 1/2 C.

Method

Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.  Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender.  When the particles are fine, gradually add the water. 

Toss with a fork to make a stiff dough.  Form it into a ball and knead it thoroughly on a lightly floured board until smooth and flecked with air bubbles.

To make the dough easier to handle, grease the surface, cover it (wrapping it in plastic wrap or popping it in a food storage container works) and refrigerate it for 4-24 hours.  Let the dough return to room temperature before rolling it out.

I plan ahead: What will I have for lunch for the next few days?  Dinner?  If I need these, I whip them up the day before and usually make them in the morning before or right after breakfast.  They’re a breeze to make even for lunch that day!

Divide the dough into 8 balls.  Roll as thin as possible between lightly floured pieces of parchment/waxed paper (or on a lightly floured board – pick your preferred method).  These roll out easily for me with or without flour because of the shortening.

Drop carefully onto a very hot ungreased griddle (I use a cast iron skillet).  Bake until freckled on one side.  Takes only about 20-30 seconds. 

Lift the edge, flip, and bake on the other side.

Result

8 giant, mouth-watering tortillas ready to be filled, topped, cut up…you name it! 

These will freeze well or keep either in the fridge or at room temp.  I usually just stack them on top of each other, although some people separate them with parchment paper.  They reheat well in the oven.

Enjoy!

For a picture-free, easy-to-print version of this recipe, please click on the following link:

https://thefullvine.wordpress.com/terrific-tortillas/

Make Your Own Wheat Thins

Oatmeal cream pies.  Cheez-its.  Triscuits.  Wheat Thins.  Yodels.  Ring-dings.

I have a slight weakness for things I should not be buying at the store.  Or at all.

Not that Wheat Thins are all that bad for you, especially in comparison with the streusel coffee cakes I can’t help drooling on.  But there’s nothing like passing on a mouthful of preservatives and instead making a good ol’ favorite in the good ol’ home oven.

During this busy Christmas season, I thought I’d share a recipe for a very fast snack in the middle of the noise.  If you decide to make Wheat Thins as a gift or a party treat, make sure you give/serve them right away.  They don’t stay fresh as long as store-bought crackers. 

This hasn’t mattered in our house, since they don’t stay in existence outside our tummies very long.  Yum.

(Note: This is another outstanding recipe from the Mennonite cookbook “More With Less.”)

Wheat Thins

Ingredients

whole wheat flour = 2 C.

wheat germ = 2 TBS

salt = 1 tsp

baking powder = 1 tsp

brown sugar = 2 TBS

dry milk solids = 2 TBS

margarine = 6 TBS

water = 1/2 C.

molasses = 1 TBS

cornmeal and spices

Method

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine the first 6 ingredients.  Cut in the margarine.  Combine the water and molasses separately and then add them to the mix.

Knead it a little until it’s smooth.  Grease two cookie sheets or get two baking stones preheated.  Sprinkle either option lightly with cornmeal.

Divide the dough in half.  Roll out half of the dough dime-thin, directly onto the sheet or stone.  Repeat with the other half.  (Flouring the rolling pin should help.)  Sprinkle lightly with paprika, garlic, onion, or seasoned salt.  I use paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, coarse salt, and Butt Rub (a BBQ seasoning – isn’t that an appetizing name?).

Run the rolling pin over the dough one more time and then prick the dough here and there with a fork.  Cut into squares or triangles. 

Bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Result

If you can resist eating half the batch immediately, I salute you with a Wheat Thin!  What a great snack to hand off to your kiddos – or yourself!  Guilt-free, junk-free, and incredibly yummy.  Enjoy!

For a picture-free, easy-to-print version of this recipe, please click on the following link:

https://thefullvine.wordpress.com/wheat-thins/

Homemade Taco Seasoning

This post found me poking around my hand-written-favorites recipe book, a collection of all the things I’ve tried and loved the best.  Today I’ll share a recipe with you, straight from my faves-book, that is a staple in our diet – fast, healthy, cheap, and homemade. 

Homemade Taco Seasoning! 

I can’t bring myself to buy the little taco packets at the store anymore.  This version is so fresh and delightful, it’s too hard to resist making it – especially when I have garden-fresh herbs on hand. 

(I realize this is a photo of basil, and there’s no basil in this recipe, but it’s winter 🙂  Time to hit the photo archives.)

 

There will be no preservatives in your tacos this way, unless they come from another source, and you’ll be in complete control of the measurement of each spice.

The recipe has suggested amounts…  But really, it’s up to your tastebuds to decide.  This may require extensive taste-testing as the meat simmers.  Oh darn.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

(Note: You can easily make a large batch of this and keep it in a canning jar, empty spice jar, etc, to have ready at any time.  Also makes a great, unusual Christmas gift!) 

The following amounts work well for us when I’m cooking roughly 1lb of meat:

chili powder = 1+ TBS

onion powder = 2 tsp – 1 TBS

ground cumin = 2 tsp – 1 TBS, or go hog wild, like I do

garlic powder = 2 tsp

paprika = 2 tsp

oregano = 2 tsp

salt = 1/2 tsp

Method

Ready for this?

Mix.

Add to browned meat with a little water, and simmer til it’s done to your tastebuds’ liking.

Result

Meat seasoned this way can be used in any number of Mexican recipes, including BLTacos, a combination of taco meat, veggies, cheese, and bacon, in a homemade pita:

Yummy, zingy, terrific, healthy, flavorful, awesome.  Try it and add your own adjectives!

For a picture-free, easy-to-print version of this recipe, please click on the following link:

https://thefullvine.wordpress.com/homemade-taco-seasoning/

Roasted Chick Peas

WOW!  I’m a convert, along with my toddler and even my husband, who wouldn’t normally hover over a bowl of beans, licking his lips and fingers…

Recently I found a yummy-sounding recipe in More-With-Less for Roasted Soybeans.  Soybeans are hard to come by around here, so I used chick peas, or garbanzo beans.  

This recipe was so easy and so tasty, I can’t wait to try it again.  Talk about healthy, too!  Here’s just a few benefits of eating chick peas:

  • high in fiber, especially insoluble fiber, which is good for your colon
  • filling, making it easier to eat right and eat less
  • cheap, considering the healthy bang-for-your-buck – about $1.25/lb around here
  • 1 cup of cooked chick peas = nearly 30% of your daily protein needs

Roasted Chick Peas

Ingredients

1 lb. (16 oz) dry chick peas (or soybeans)

1 TBS margarine (don’t hesitate to try butter or your favorite oil – this is just the original recipe, and the margarine actually tasted amazing)

1/2 tsp salt

Method

Rinse the beans and soak them overnight.  Next morning, drain and rinse the beans again, and cook them on medium-low, covered by a few inches of water, for up to 3 hours.  You’re tasting for nice tender beans.  Check them from time to time to make sure there’s plenty of water and they’re not burning.

Put the beans in a towel and rub them to get the skins off.  Discard the skins.  Heat a heavy skillet (I use cast iron) and stir the beans in it until they are golden brown.  Let it take its time. 

Just before removing the beans from the skillet, stir in the margarine and salt.  Drain on paper.  These are best hot and fresh, although reheating them in a toaster oven yields good results too (just a little chewier).

Result

Roasted chick peas are habit-forming, and you don’t even have to feel guilty about that.

They’re fantastic on salads, too!  Num num num.

Eat up!

For a picture-free, easy-to-print version of this recipe, please click on the following link:

https://thefullvine.wordpress.com/roasted-chick-peas/

The Frugal Woman’s Toilette, Part 3: Her Skin

Oh NO!  I’m getting WRINKLES!  For cryin’ out loud – I’m only 30!

A sudden flash of advertisements blazes across my mind.  What will make the lines go away?  How can I lift?  Tighten?  Stay young and soft?

Smile.

I always forget that’s the easiest way…

Wrinkles and lines – laugh lines in particular – can hardly be helped when you’re living a full life and enjoying it too.  And I suppose there are some expensive creams that work, keeping a woman’s face, neck, and hands wrinkle-free a little longer…  But I can neither afford them nor spend the time right now sifting through them.

I always wonder, too, what the long-term effects are of using a lotion or cream with undisclosed ingredients – chemicals, perfumes, dyes – slathering it all over my skin, letting it absorb into my system day after day…

I suppose I could sleep sitting up and clothes-pin my face upward by means of a pulley system attached to the ceiling.  That would be “uplifting,” right?

Perhaps I’ll just stick with what I’ve been doing.  Remember this photo from Part 2?

One reader guessed olive oil.  It was a nice guess.  A little close for comfort, in fact.  My thoughts were: Whew!  Smart lady…  She’s on to me…

Not it, though.  Nothing against olive oil.  It’s good stuff.  But I don’t like the smell on my face, since I’m used to it in my bread bowl and salad dressing bottle.

My main squeeze is grapeseed oil! 

It has next to no smell at all, and is not greasy in any way.  It’s about $10 a liter, which made me cringe at first…  But then I realized that in order to cover my face and neck, all I need is one fingertip-full.  One dunk.  That’s it.  This stuff will last forever.

Oil does not last forever, though.  At the end of its shelf life, it can become rancid.  It’s a good thing this kind of oil can be used for your entire body and your entire menu too!  Give it a try.  I know my mother also uses it as a medicinal ointment for her horses.  Try that, Pond’s cold cream!

I found a good article comparing olive and grapeseed oils for cooking.  Check it out:

http://www.ehow.com/about_5397992_olive-vs-grape-seed-oil.html

Grapeseed oil will be getting a thorough tryout in our kitchen.  🙂

Between the baking soda face wash and grapeseed oil as a moisturizer, my skin has never looked or felt better.  To prove it, I have decided to bravely “face” the world wide web sans makeup.  Here I am:

AAAAAHHHHH!  I mean – oh.  How pretty.

I also found a good article on the benefits of grapeseed oil for your skin:

http://www.foreverlookingood.com/benefits-of-grape-seed-oil

I find it lighter than olive oil, and less “oily” and “smelly” – better for my face and my senses.

There’s no product that can really stave off aging.  We age.  It shows.  My hope is that the evidence will be in laugh lines more than anything.  That’s the trademark of a good life. 

Laugh at myself, not others.  Laugh when I’m the only one who finds a joke funny.  Laugh in a quiet room because someone’s sneakers sound like toots (I really, really am just like a 5 year-old).  Laugh when an ad promises youth forever or, better yet, happiness.

Grapeseed oil won’t keep me looking perfectly young when I’m 90 (although according to the above article, it might help).  But it will save me the trouble and money spent so often on products that promise what they can’t deliver.  This one only promises something completely natural and harmless.  I’ll take it!

Grapeseed oil won’t bring me happiness.  But peace with God, a husband whose maturity level is both far beyond mine and just as juvenile…

…a couple canned hams called Riley and Quinn… 

That sounds like happiness to me.

If you give grapeseed oil a try, let me know what you think.  I’ve used it on my infant’s skin as a massage rub too, and he hasn’t had a problem with it.  Gentle, frugal, natural, simple. 

Sold American, as Dad would say!