Chai Butter Cookies

chai tea cookies

From April 8, 2005:  This is a recipe I got from my friend Donna in L.A.   I love chai tea and had to make these cookies.  They reminded me a little of gingersnaps, but better.  I’m sure the brand of chai tea mix used will slightly alter the taste of these cookies.  I was only able to find the Lipton Chai Latta mix (Original flavor), but there are several other brands of instant chai tea mix (Oregon Chai and Celestial Seasonings are two others).  I rolled my cookies in Florida Crystals Demerara natural sugar.  The large sugar crystals not only looked great, they also added crunch to the cookies and even caramelized a bit on the bottoms of the cookies.

Chai Butter Cookies

1 cup instant chai tea mix
2 eggs
1 cup butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
1 T. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
* extra sugar in bowl to roll cookies in.

In a large bowl cream butter, sugar, and chai tea mix until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time mixing well.  In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt and mix well  Blend flour mixture into the creamed mixture until all the dry ingredients have been absorbed.  Cover dough and refrigerate one hour for flavor to set.

Preheat over to 375 degrees.  Roll cookie dough into walnut sized balls and then roll into sugar.  Place cookies onto greased cookie sheets about 3 inches apart and flatten slightly using a fork or bottom of a glass.  Bake 10-12 minutes, just until the edges are brown.  Remove from sheets and cool on wire racks.

Chicken Rice Soup with Garbanzos and Green Chile

mexican chicken rice soup

From January 14, 2006:  This is a simple version of a Mexican soup called caldo tlalpeno.  There are numerous variations.  You may use leftover turkey instead of chicken.  1 cup of chopped zucchini (or other summer squash) added towards the end of cooking is a great addition.  The soup is traditionally served with many condiments, like shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, lime juice, chipotles, and avocado.  This recipe makes a pretty big batch.

Chicken Rice Soup with Garbanzos and Green Chile

1/4 cup butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup uncooked rice
8 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
15 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
3/4 cup chopped roasted mild green chile
1 cup cubed cooked chicken
1 tsp. ground cumin
salt and pepper

In a heavy sauce pan, warm the butter over low heat.  When melted, add the onion and garlic.  Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in the rice and saute it briefly until the grains become opaque.  Pour in the stock, add the remaining ingredients, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes until rice is very soft.  Serve hot.

Recipe source:  The Border Cookbook: Authentic Home Cooking of the American Southwest and Northern New Mexico by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison (The Harvard Common Press, 1995).

Asian-inspired Cucumber Salad

Cucumber Salad 2

From January 14, 2006:  This is a recipe I came up with this  past summer when I was overrun with cucumbers from the garden.  Let the salad sit for 30 minutes before serving to let the flavors combine.

Asian-inspired Cucumber Salad

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 chile, minced (optional)
1 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
3 T. sugar
3 T. fish sauce (you may substitute soy sauce)

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, rice wine vinegar, sugar and fish sauce.  In a larger bowl combine cucumber, red onion, cilantro, and minced chile.  Pour dressing over the salad and toss.

Fig Bread

fig breadFrom January 20, 2006:  Here’s another recipe from my friend Donna.  She got it from her Tassajara Cookbook.  I made 3 mini loaves instead of one big loaf and they baked for 30 to 35 minutes.  I also used white grape juice in the recipe (I didn’t have apple or orange juice) and all purpose flour (instead or pastry flour) and it all turned out well.

Fig Bread

1 cup apple or orange juice (both are good)
1 1/2 cups dried figs, de-stemmed but left whole (I cut in half)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon or orange rind, grated
1 3/4 cups pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Heat the juice almost to boiling and pour it over figs, salt and butter in a mixing bowl.  Stir to melt and set aside in the refrigerator to cool.  Beat eggs, then beat in the sugar, vanilla and fruit rind.  Stir this into well cooled (room temperature) fig mixture.  Sift the flour together with the baking powder and baking soda.  Mix into the wet ingredients with a minimum number of strokes.  Grease and flour medium sized loaf pan (I used 8.5 X 4.5 size) pour in the batter, and bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Spinach Mushroom Quiche

Spinach Mushroom Quiche

spinach mushroom quiche

From January 30, 2006:  I made this quiche for brunch on Sunday.  It was quite tasty, especially accompanied by Texas hashbrown potatoes and fruit.  The original recipe called for 1/2 cup of butter, 3 cups of cheese, and cream, but you won’t miss all that saturated fat in the healthier version.

Spinach Mushroom Quiche

2 T. butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 (10-oz) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (squeeze out as much liquid as possible)
5 white button mushrooms, sliced thin
1/2 – 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
1 (10-inch) unbaked deep-dish pie crust
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Saute garlic and onion in butter until lightly golden.  Add mushrooms and saute until they cook down.  Stir in spinach and season mixture with salt and pepper. Spoon mixture into pastry-lined pie pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour into the pastry shell, allowing egg mixture to thoroughly combine with spinach mixture.

Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until the top is golden, the quiche has set in center and a knife inserted an inch from the crust comes out clean.

Allow quiche to stand 10 minutes before serving.

Savory Pepper Biscotti with Pecans and Cheddar


From February 19, 2006:  I make this savory biscotti  to go with  soup.  They are perfect for dunking in soup.  They are also good spread with a little goat’s cheese.  Try making them with Parmesan cheese, walnuts, and 2 teaspoons of dried oregano (don’t leave out the black pepper though) for something different.

Savory Pepper Biscotti with Cheddar and Pecans

1/2 cup toasted pecans
6 T. olive oil
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat together the olive oil, cheddar, eggs, and milk.  In a separate bowl, mix the four, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pepper.  Add the liquid ingredients to the dry, stirring until the dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened.  Gently add the pecans.

Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Press out dough to form a narrow rectangle that runs the length of the baking sheet and is about 1/2 inch thick.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.  Remove the biscotti from the oven and slice into 1/2 inch wide slices.  Place slices on baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes.  Remove and turn each biscotti over.  Return to the oven and bake another 10 minutes.  They should be golden brown on both sides.

Let the biscotti cool.  Tightly wrapped, the biscotti stay fresh for a week.  Freeze them for up to 3 months.

Swiss Chard, Barley and Navy Bean Soup

Swiss Chard, Barley and Navy Bean Soup

swiss chard barley navy bean soup

From February 23, 2006:  I made this healthy soup last night and it was delicious!  I served it with a green salad and rustic whole wheat bread for a perfect meal.

Swiss Chard, Barley and Navy Bean Soup

1 bunch Swiss chard
2 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, with juices
8 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup pearled barley
1 can (15 oz.) navy beans, drained (you could also use Cannellini beans)
salt and pepper

Soak Swiss chard in cold water for 10 minutes, then drain and wash well.  Slice the stalks crosswise about 1/8-inch thick.  Cut the leaves into 1/4-inch strips.

Put the olive oil and chopped onion in a soup pot over medium heat and cook, stirring often until soft.  Add the garlic, carrot, and celery and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and their juices, the vegetable broth, the Swiss Chard, and the pearled barley.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to low.  Cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the navy beans and season with salt and pepper.  When beans are heated through, about 2 minutes, the soup is ready to serve.

Blueberry Granola

blueberry granola

From February 20, 2006:  Here’s another quick and easy granola.  It turns out crunchy and not too sweet.  The molasses is a nice change.

Blueberry Granola

2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2/3 cups unsalted cashew halves
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup honey
1 T. canola oil
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup dried blueberries

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Combine the oats, cashews, wheat germ, and sunflower seeds in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine the molasses, honey, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Pour molasses mixture over oat mixture and stir well to combine.  Spread evenly on prepared pan.   Bake 30 minutes or until golden, stirring after 15 minutes and frequently after that.  Remove from oven and cool completely.  Stir blueberries into granola mixture.

Vegetarian Taquitos

Vegetarian Taquitos

vegetarian taquitos

From September 17, 2005: When I first saw this recipe, I thought the combination of carrots and cheese was odd. I was intrigued and had to try them. So I made these tonight and they rocked. So simple and so good. I served them with sour cream (Tofutti Sour Supreme for me) and salsa.  Guacamole would also be very good. I used pepper jack for a kick. 

Vegetarian Taquitos

equal parts of shredded carrots and Monterrey jack cheese
fresh corn tortillas
oil to fry taquitos in

Combine carrots and cheese in a bowl. Warm corn tortillas (I place 3 or 4 on a plate, cover with a damp paper towel and microwave for about 30 seconds)to make them easier to work with and to keep them from cracking when rolled. Place about 1 tablespoon of filling on the lower portion of the warmed tortilla. Be careful not to overfill. Roll as tightly as possible without busting open the tortilla. Secure with a toothpick. Place taquito in hot oil and fry until golden and crispy. Serve (on lettuce is a nice touch) with salsa, sour cream, and/or guacamole.

Pickled Turnips

Pickled Turnips

I used to buy pickled turnips at a Middle Eastern market and deli in Fredericksburg, VA.  Unfortunately, the owners sold the market to some other people and it is now a Latin market….no more pickled turnips.  Luckily, I found this simple recipe and now make pickled turnips at home.  And honestly, I think these may taste better than the ones from the Middle Eastern market. 

The only changes I made with the recipe was that I used kosher salt instead of pickling salt, I cut the turnips and beet into slices and then into wedges, and i added a dried Thai dragon chile (or two) to each jar along with the turnips and beets.  They turned out fantastic and their color is absolutely beautiful!  The recipe makes about 3 full pint jars.

IMG_1224 (640x480)

My 3 year old LOVES the pickled turnips. He will eat an entire jar by himself if you let him. Pickled turnips are tasty on their own (and part of a mezze platter), but are also good with falafel and Pad Thai.

Pickled Turnips

2 cups water
1/4 cup pickling salt (I used kosher salt)
1 cup white vinegar

2 pounds white turnips
1 beet
3 cloves garlic

Peel turnips. Cut small turnips into sixths; larger turnips can be cut thick strips (about the size of a large French fry). Peel beet and cut into thick strips. Peel garlic cloves and cut each one into quarters. Layer turnips in a large sterilized glass jar, interspersing them with the beet strips and garlic. Bring water, vinegar, and salt to a boil, stirring to make sure all the salt is dissolved. Carefully pour the pickling solution over the turnips. Make sure no large air bubbles remain. Put the lids on the jars. Store pickles in a cool place for at least one week.  Refrigerate them after the first week. If you are uncomfortable leaving the turnips at room temperature for the first week, you can store them in the fridge. The turnips will turn a bright purplish pink. So pretty. Refrigerate after opening.