Tag: cooking

Roasting Pumpkin Seeds

Add enough water to fully cover seeds (2 cups, in my case)

Add a tablespoon of salt for each cup of water. Stir and let sit for a few hours (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Boil seeds in the saltwater for ten minutes, then spread across a baking tray.

Bake for 15 minutes, stir to flip seeds over, and make for 5-10 more minutes.

Pressure Cooked Oat Groats

Add equal parts groats and water (i.e. 2c water with 2c groats) to pressure cooker. Add a teaspoon of oil to reduce foaming (butter, olive oil)

Bring to high pressure and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to release pressure naturally.

To serve – shred an apple, mix into hot groats. Add a teaspoon or two of brown sugar and sprinkle with cinnamon. Add 1/2 cup of almond milk.

Birthday Beef Stroganoff


  • flat iron steak
  • 4T butter
  • 3 cloves roasted garlic
  • 16 oz mushrooms
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 cups beef broth (pressure cooker: beef bones, carrot trimmings, onion trimmings, celery trimmings, potato peels)
  • 1-2T mustard spice blend
  • 2-5T porcini mushroom powder
  • 2T corn starch
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • package wide egg noodles cooked for lowest time on package directions

Mustard spice blend: mortar together 1c brown mustard seed, 1T salt, 3 bay leaves, 1t rosemary needles, 1/2t sage


  1. Slice beef across the grain into strips. Season with salt & pepper. Divide meat into small batches so pieces can be placed in pan with an inch between them. Divide 2T of butter into same number of pieces. Put pan on medium heat (6), melt a piece of butter then sear a batch of meat. Remove from pan and set aside. Repeat with remaining batches.
  2. Slice mushrooms. Divide into 4 batches and sprinkle with salt. Divide the remaining butter into four batches. Melt a piece of butter in pan, saute mushrooms until they become golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside. Repeat with remaining batches.
  3. Slice onion into thin pieces about 1″ long. Sauté for a few minutes.
  4. Add flour to onions & stir to coat them in flour. Remove from pan.
  5. Deglaze pan with 1/2c of beef broth. Add mushroom powder and spice blend. Stir to remove any lumps.
  6. Mush garlic cloves and stir in.
  7. Lower heat to simmer. Add remaining beef broth. Return onions to pan and stir to distribute flour.
  8. Put corn starch in a bowl or glass. Add *just* enough water to turn it into oobleck. Drizzle into pan, while stiring, to form a thick gravy.
  9. Return beef and mushrooms to pan and simmer until beef is cooked.
  10. Stir in sour cream.
  11. Serve over egg noodles.

Peanut butter and carob hummus


  • 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup carob powder
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt


Place everything in the bowl of a food processor and run until you’ve got a smooth paste.

To get really smooth hummus, I cook the garbanzo beans in a pressure cooker for about 35 minutes with at least 20 minute of natural depressurization.


Anya says these taste like peanut butter / chocolate / oat cookies. And it’s great for dipping anything that goes well with chocolate (strawberries, apples).

Quick and Easy Carrot Slaw


  • 2 cups shredded carrots (about half a pound)
  • 2T Dijon mustard
  • 2T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5T red wine vinegar
  • 1t fresh orange zest (or 1/2 t Penzey’s Mural of Flavor)


  1. Combine the Dijon and vinegar, whisk to combine
  2. Slowly drizzle olive oil into mixture, whisking constantly
  3. Stir in zest or spice blend
  4. Stir in carrot shreds, making sure to coat the shreds evenly
  5. Cover in clingfilm and place in refrigerator to marinate for at least an hour
This recipe is a version of the Dijon carrot salad I ate during trips to Lyon and Geneva. It’s got a lot of Dijon, so you might want to start with half the amount and taste as you add more.

Cheddary Cheesy Buttermilk Biscuits


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons Northwoods seasoning
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or put 1 tablespoon of vinegar in measuring cup & fill to 1 cup with milk)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Optional add-ins like diced scallions, sautéed onions, diced spicy peppers


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  3. Combine buttermilk and melted butter, mix well.
  4. Pour milk/butter into dry ingredients and stir to form a sticky dough.
  5. Gently stir in cheddar cheese and any optional add-ins
  6. Divide into sixteen equal pieces, roll and flatten to form biscuit
  7. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown and puffy.

Pepperoni Pizza

Anya wants to eat pepperoni pizza, but without the meat. I’ve seen a few vegan pepperoni products for sale, but they all look quite unappetizing, they include all sorts of crazy ingredients, and they’re super expensive. So I set out to find a veggie pepperoni recipe online. Took a lot of searching, but I found a recipe that looked promising. I made it with half the lowest amount of red pepper flakes. It was so hot, the stuff was inedible. Great taste, but a total waste. Also, the recipe didn’t indicate what type of extra-firm tofu to use. I happened to have some of the not silken sort, so I used that. So we had an oddly textured burning hot pepperoni (and I had to add a good bit of liquid to form anything even approaching a paste). I’ve been wanting to make it again without the pepper flakes and try silk tofu instead.

I tried it again tonight, modifying the recipe

  • 10 ounces extra-firm silken tofu
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp Tellicherry peppercorn
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, split into two 1/2 teaspoon portions
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 star anise seeds

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a stone mortar, crush the garlic cloves. Add the sea salt, peppercorns, mustard seeds, one half teaspoon of fennel seeds, and anise seeds. Grind to form a powder. Add sugar and smoked paprika, and blend together.

In a food processor, blend the tofu until it is creamy. Add the spice mixture, one tablespoon at a time, and blend until combined. Once it has enough flavour for you, store the remaining spice mixture (I used about half of the spice blend).

Spread the tofu on a lined baking sheet. You can spread separate little sections, cut it like the linked recipe, or just make one big chunk that you break up before using. Either way, bake for 10-15 minutes. Mmmmm! This tastes good, the texture is great … we made vegetarian pepperoni!!!

Cheddar Cheese Biscuits


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon of vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced onion greens


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Melt butter and combine with buttermilk. Mash garlic cloves and mix into milk/butter.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cayenne.

Add cheddar cheese and onion greens, stir to combine.

Add buttermilk and stir until moistened.

Use 1/4 cup measuring cup to form biscuits and place onto silicon baking sheet lined tray.

Bake for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Quick Meals

Here are a lot of ways I’ve found to make “real food” without spending hours each day making dinner. I don’t always follow my very good advice, so I thought writing them out would keep these tips in my mind when I plan meals.

Planning meals in the first place is a great time saver – no time wasted trying to figure out what can be made from ingredients on hand, and less wasted food because you have a use for everything you buy. Plus grocery shopping is finding specific items and purchasing them, not wandering through the store picking anything that looks good.

I generally cook more than we need and have “left overs” for lunch the next day. That may mean exactly the same thing as dinner or it may mean dinner became a main ingredient in lunch. Quiche turns into egg salad for a sandwich, or chili is used in a taco salad.

Freezer meals are a big time saver for me – the basic idea is that you prep a dozen meals after picking up groceries (dicing, measuring) and put it all into glass freezer containers or freezer bags. It’s a lot of work one day (and a lot of shopping, but that’s a big money saver too since I buy stuff when it’s on sale) but a few hours one day make a lot of quick low-effort meals in the future. You toss everything into the crock pot, add some sort of liquid, and let it cook all day. Or you toss everything into a pressure cooker, add a little bit of liquid, and cook it for 20 minutes or so.

For things that don’t cook well in a pressure cooker or crock pot, make a big batch of stuff and freeze half (or more) of it. When I make a lasagna, I usually make three meals worth. Two for the freezer, one to eat that night. The frozen ones take a while to bake (let them thaw in the fridge that day), but it’s hands-off doing-something-else time. Homemade ravioli, vareniki, or piroshki are a time-consuming meal to make on a weekend afternoon/evening, but the ones that get frozen are a super quick weekday meal.

Big salads – if you’re making freezer meals anyway, more dicing and chopping isn’t a big deal. Store chopped foods in glass containers in the fridge. There are recipes for pre-made salads in a jar that stay fresh all week too. You can get a lot of different flavours by using different ingredients and spice blends. I’ll throw in tinned corn, artichoke hearts, olives. Add some pickled green beans or banana peppers. For people who eat meat, I’ll add some diced ham, shredded chicken, grilled steak (basically whatever meat is left over previous meals). For those who don’t, I’ll add black beans or garbanzo beans (another great use for the pressure cooker – I buy super cheap dry beans and cook enough for the week). Add sliced almonds, dried cranberries, walnuts, diced apple, or pomegranate seeds to add some extra crunch. If you have bread going stale, you can cube it up and toast it for homemade croutons.

Fresh bread takes hours to make, but the dough can be frozen. Frozen dough and pre-chopped foods turns pizza into a quick weeknight meal. Pizza is a single rise dough. Mix it up, freeze it. When you’re ready to use it, take it out and put the frozen lump in a large bowl & cover with clingfilm. Let it sit on the counter all day to thaw and rise. When you get home, everyone spreads their dough out on a small pizza stone (yeah, I know that’s not the right way to use a pizza stone), spreads some sauce (I freeze tomato sauces in the autumn when we’re harvesting tomatoes, so a container of that thaws in the fridge all day too), adds their toppings and cheese. Then I bake them for eight to ten minutes @ 550F (highest oven temp I’ve got).

Bread dough I freeze without shaping it. You *can* shape the dough first, but my thawed & risen loaves never turn out right. They’re all funky, misshapen, and partially collapsed. So I thaw & rise my dough lump during the day, shape the loaf when I get home, and then have to wait an hour to bake it. Perfect if you want a fresh loaf to make sandwiches for lunch the next day, fine if it’s going to take an hour and a half to cook dinner anyway, but not so useful for a quick dinner after soccer practice.

Quick breads work for dinner rolls though – I make a lot of my own mixes. Take all of the dry ingredients, measure them out, and mix them together. I store them in canning jars & have a tag with the liquid ingredients needed as well as the cooking time/temp. Making dinner rolls means preheating the oven, dumping a jar of biscuit mix into a bowl, adding some amount of water (I’ve got buttermilk powder from King Arthur Flour that’s great for making buttermilk biscuits) or milk, adding some oil, mixing, maybe some extra add-in like shredded cheddar or diced onion greens, shaping, and baking for about 20 minutes. About 30 minutes to have fresh bread, 20 of which is spent setting the table and getting the crock pot meal into bowls and on the table while they cook.

Sandwiches are a quick meal – egg salad, tuna salad – sometimes I make them with avocado or yogurt instead of mayo. Add some sweet curry powder to the yogurt/mayo for a different flavor. You can use large romaine leaves instead of bread for a salad instead of a sandwich. Use tortillas to turn sandwiches into wraps. Use pitas for pocket sandwiches. Grilled cheese – all sorts of different cheeses, I go with whatever is on sale in the fancy cheese section. That spinach artichoke dip that was everywhere for a while makes an interesting sandwich filling too – I about triple the veggie component so we aren’t eating a pound of cream cheese with a speck of spinach in it. Add a little sausage for the meat eater, the rest of us eat just fresh warm French bread with reheated dip.

And one of my favorite summertime meals – grilled everything 🙂 Marinade whatever protein in a glass container overnight, marinade veggies overnight in foil packets, wrap some yams or potatoes in foil. Veggie marinade: oil/vinegar mixture infused with various herbs (think oil/vinegar type salad dressings), garlic infused olive oil, soy & honey, honey & lemon, balsamic vinegar, brown butter & vinegar. In a foil packet, veggies steam in their own water so sometimes I’ll just sprinkle on some spices (I get different spice blends from Penzey’s – sweet curry, zatar, mural of flavor, northwoods, southwest). Yams and potatoes can be partially sliced and spiced. Or thinly slice apples and insert them between the slices in a yam.