I got a surprise gift from one of my cousins in the mail this Christmas: a cookbook of popcorn!! As a result, this recipe became the Food of Christmas this year. As soon as I saw this one in the cookbook, I knew I was going to make it. It called for sugar, but I knew that was an easy fix and I could make it work for me. And I did! I made massive amounts of this stuff. MASSIVE. I made a huge container to bring to our church’s children’s program Christmas party. I made some for all of my husband’s coworkers. I made baggies of it for neighbors and family members. We were drowning in it.
Yet, somehow, we never did get tired of it! That’s how yummy it is. It’s subtly sweet and salty – just slightly sweeter than Kettle Corn, but not as sweet as caramel corn. It’s buttery and maplely from the maple syrup. It’s addicting. Everyone who got this said that it didn’t last long. One of my husband’s coworkers said that it didn’t even make it home because once she tried it she couldn’t stop and ate all of it in the car!!
So, yeah. This is good stuff. However, it does have sweetener in it, so as always with my sweet stuff, if you’re particularly ill or experiencing symptoms of inflammation, be careful. If you’re maintaining or in good health, though, this is just fine because it uses all whole-food sweeteners!
Apple cider. And fresh cranberries. And fresh-squeezed lemon and orange juices. And spices. And honey. All together, hot and steaming and delicious, on my stove. This is one of my favorite wintertime drinks, and as soon as I start to see cranberries arrive in my grocery store I begin to think about it. “Yay!” I say to myself. “It’s Swizzle time of year!”
I have made this drink for many different groups of people over the years (because it’s a great sort of “special company” drink), and I have never yet encountered anyone who didn’t like it. People who say they don’t like hot cider like it. People who say they don’t like cranberries like it. I don’t know what it is, but it’s some sort of magical combination of ingredients that makes it universally loved. So odds are that you’ll love it too!
Most people have never eaten, or even considered eating, lamb shanks. Let me rephrase: Most AMERICANS have never considered it. Because, certainly, they’re common enough in the rest of the world – particularly the Mediterranean and Middle East. For some reason, though, lamb has an odd reputation in America and most Americans seem afraid of going anywhere near it.
My grandmother immigrated from Scotland, land of sheep, so my mother grew up eating plenty of lamb. And, therefore, I did too. But I’d never made shanks until about 10 years ago when my mother found this recipe and started making it. And I was instantly in love.
I love a good roasted leg of lamb as well as the next (non-American) person. But these shanks are now my favorite form of lamb. They are so tender – just falling off the bone, melting in your mouth, tender – and full of exquisite flavor. Probably because they’re so common in the middle east, this recipe has tons of spices.
Don’t be scared! It looks like a lot of flavor, but I promise you it’s PERFECT.
The thing with shanks is that they have to cook for a really long time to make them tender. There’s a pretty strong facia (or whatever) covering all the meat that needs to be cooked slowly to tenderize them. This is not a meal you can whip up in half an hour. So, this is a meal for a day off or a weekend. Or if, like me, you do your work at home it can be an any-day-of-the-week meal! But it’s especially good on cold, rainy, or blustery days. The perfect warm-your-bones sort of meal!
When I was very small, my mother worked at a restaurant owned by a German guy named Heinrich. Heinrich named the restaurant after himself. Or, rather, after the nickname for the name “Heinrich.”
Do you know the nickname for Heinrich?
Do you see where this is going?
Yes. Dear old Heinrich named his restaurant “Heinie’s.” I am not joking.
One would think that having a name that is the slang term for one’s butt would have turned people off from wanting to eat there, but he actually did pretty good business. And he apparently had pretty good food.
One of the dishes that he made was something called Tallerine. Until precisely 5 minutes ago, I’d always believed he invented this dish, because I’ve never met anyone else who knew about it. I searched online just to make sure, though – you know, so that I wouldn’t be wrong on the internet – and was surprised to find tons of pages about it. So, Heinie didn’t invent it. But he did give my family the idea for making it, and I’ve never in my life met anyone else who knew about it, so he still gets the credit as far as I’m concerned!
Tallerine (or my version of it, at any rate) is pasta, ground beef, tomatoes, corn, and spices mixed together and then baked with shredded cheddar cheese on top. It’s a simple and yet delicious combination of flavors, and is a staple in our house because it’s so easy and is an all-in-one dish. I’ll often make the meat part ahead of time and freeze it, so on busy days all I have to do is thaw it and make the pasta, and then stick it in the oven. This is a great recipe to have in your repertoire to pull out when you don’t know what else to make!
Have you ever had Mexican hot chocolate? It’s our favorite on cold snowy days, especially after coming in from playing in or shoveling snow. It’s basically hot chocolate with a sprinkle of cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Sound strange? Well, it’s delicious! And you can feel the slight heat of the hot pepper all the way down your throat, so that you’re warmed from the inside out. It’s perfect!
I’d never considered turning that into ice cream until I saw this recipe by Homemade Mommy. But as soon as I saw it I KNEW it was a great idea. So I decided to try it.
I used her recipe, but then changed it up to accommodate ingredients I had on hand and my personal preferences. The verdict?
A really sweet, creamy chocolate ice cream with a cinnamon twist and a surprising slight afterburn of heat from the cayenne. As soon as it was done, my husband and daughter descended on the kitchen with spoons to greedily scrape out every last bit from the canister. So, yeah, it was a hit!
And, if you leave out the eggs and tapioca starch/gelatin, this is a perfect recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate on those cold snowy days! (You can use all milk instead of half cream for hot chocolate.)
You can see the original recipe here, or you can print out my slightly altered version.
As with any sweet item, consume with caution if you’re particularly sensitive! This only has 1 cup of sweetener for 6 cups of dairy, though, so it’s not so bad.
I don’t like tomatoes. Raw, I mean. I never really have – though I’m able to tolerate them much more now than I did when I was younger.
So WHY do I love this so much?! I don’t know. Maybe there’s some sort of magical process that happens when balsamic vinegar and garlic meet raw tomatoes. Some sort of voodoo alchemy that turns something I otherwise can’t stand into something I can’t get enough of!
This, really, is all the endorsement you need about how amazing this recipe is. If even tomato-hating melikes it you know it’s good!! It’s good on top of buttery toast (like I’m about to show you.) It’s good on top of chicken for Bruschetta Chicken. It’s good with chunks of fresh mozzarella mixed in as a salad. You can take this as a starting point and use your imagination about it!
This is what you do.
Take some olive oil and drizzle it around a pan. Like 3 Tbsp or so.
And add in about 5 minced garlic cloves and cook them until they just start to turn golden.
Now pour the garlic together with EVERY SINGLE DROP of that garlicky olive oil in a bowl.
Chop up some red onion and tomatoes. This can be cherry tomatoes cut in half, or larger tomatoes cut into chunks. I found these gorgeous yellow and red babies at the farmer’s market, so that’s what I used. Dump them in the bowl and stir around.
Chop up plenty of fresh basil and stick it in. Mmmmm! Fresh basil is the bomb.
Sprinkle in some salt and pepper, and then drizzle in some balsamic vinegar.
Now you taste. Does it need more vinegar? More basil, salt, or pepper? Add it in!
As I said above, you can use this in lots of different ways, not just traditional bruschetta. Use your imagination! But if you’re wanting bruschetta, this is what you do to make it miraculous.
Get a loaf of bakery bread. For this diet it will have to be a whole grain bread. I haven’t had luck with finding 100% whole wheat breads at the bakery that I like, so I usually compromise and buy one that has whole wheat as the first ingredient, but also has white flour. This seems to work fine for me as long as I don’t overdo it. You have to be the judge of what works for your body!
Slice it up. Then melt several Tbsp of butter in a pan. Preferably the same pan you used to cook up the garlic so that you can take advantage of all that garlic goodness!
Then stick the bread in the pan and cook until nice and golden brown. Flip it over and toast the other side too. (Though the second side won’t be as golden since most of the butter was soaked up by the first side.)
Spoon the tomatoes on top and devour. It’s messy. I’d advise you not do this in front of people you’re trying to impress.
From very early on in this food journey, browned butter banana bread became a staple in my diet. I’d look forward to having it for breakfast almost every day, usually topped with chocolate nut butter. But now the place that banana bread used to have in my heart (or stomach?) has been supplanted. I’ve switched my loyalties to pancakes.
It happened over vacation, when I made an enormous batch of banana pancakes to take along, figuring they’d hold up better than banana bread would. They worked great! So great that I haven’t looked back. Now I make these enormous batches and freeze them so that I have ready pancakes for weeks.
(What it really comes down to is that I hate to have to think about food all the time, and it’s really so much easier to just have things on hand that I know I’m going to eat!)
But consuming these pancakes every day started getting me worried about all the grain, since there’s a lot more flour in these than in banana bread. I believe that grains are safer to consume when they’re prepared in traditional ways – by soaking, sprouting, or fermenting them. I’ve read the articles and they make perfect sense. (Here’s a good one that explains things well.) I just usually can’t be bothered. But now that I’m eating so many pancakes, I decided it was maybe time to think about it.
So, I fiddled with my standard recipe and easily converted it into a soaked version! The verdict? They’re spectacular. Everyone who’s had them likes these pancakes even better than the unsoaked version (and they really liked those!) They’re fluffier and lighter, and have spectacular flavor. So, not only are they better for you (because they’re soaked) but they happen to also be delicious! If you’re at all able to plan ahead for your pancakes and can remember to set the flour out to soak, I highly recommend giving these a try!