March 31, 2009

Dehydrated Strawberries

I was at the grocery store when I noticed a display case of strawberries marked down to 75 cents per pound. I grabbed 4 and on the way home pondered what to do with my bounty. I decided to try dehydrating them.
It worked so well! I wish I would have been able to find my egg slicer, but I think I threw it out on my last kitchen purge, so I cut them up the slow way.
Here are the steps I followed
1. Spray strawberries with white vinegar and rinse.
2. Hull Strawberries (Remove the section with the leaves.)
3. Slice strawberries. I sliced them about 1/8 of an inch thick. I have read to do up to 1/4 inch. They dry a lot faster if they are thin, but they take up more room in your dehydrator.
4. Lay the strawberries out carefully but not touching.
5. Set dehydrator to 135 and let dehydrate for 4-5 hours. You can set it lower, they will just take longer. They are done when they are still slightly pliable, but no longer squishy. Some of the thinner ones were almost crisp.
6. Place all strawberries in a jar and put a lid on shake every few hours so the hydration of all strawberries evens out.
Use as a snack, in granola, cereal, or however you would like. In waffles, pancakes. Oh the possibilities are endless.
I also dehydrated some bananas that were about to move past their prime. Exact same steps, but add a soak in lemon juice or spray with lemon juice. I soaked mine and I can taste the lemon juice so next time I will just lightly spray them
Now that I can make strawberry season last all year, I can't wait for it to begin.

March 16, 2009

Whole Wheat Pasta

I was lucky enough to grow up in a home where my mom made homemade noodles on a fairly regular basis. My little brother liked to come home from school and make them for his afterschool meal. They are really easy, once you get the hang of it. I love them because I can make them whole wheat and add yummy things like spinach to them.


2 c Whole Wheat flour (can be made with white flour as well If possible when using white flour use 1/3-1/2 of the volume of flour as semolina flour)

3 lg eggs (I use 3 T powdered eggs and 6 t water)

2 c fresh spinach (I add a few handfuls of baby spinach, the more you use the darker they are)

Extra flour and water to adjust consistency

Food Processor (the easiest method)

Place four and spinach in bowl of food processor. Process until spinach is pulverized and mixed thoroughly with the flour.

Add eggs and process for about 1 minute. The mass should form one main ball, about the consistency of playdough. If it is just in little chunks add water 1-2 tsp at a time until it comes together. If it is too sticky, add flour 1 Tbsp at a time until it is manageable. 

If you don't have a food processor, blend the eggs and spinach up in a blender.  I don't know why but when I do it this way more the noodles loose more color (and I assume other goodies) when they are cooked, it doesn't happen when I pulverize the spinach with the flour.   Form the flour into a well and pour the egg and spinach mixture into the well. Mix the flour into the egg until a dough is formed Knead 5-10 minutes adding more flour or water if necessary.

Wrap in plastic wrap, or place in covered bowl and let sit 20 minutes. If using 100% whole wheat flour this is especially important to allow the flour to hydrate.

Then roll it out.  If you are especially strong, you can roll it out by hand.  I don't know anyone who can roll whole wheat thin enough by hand, but you can give it a try.  I run it through a pasta roller.  It is one of my favorite kitchen gadgets.  They are often found at thrift stores and garage sales, as well as most kitchen stores.   If you have a kitchenaid they make a roller attachement I have used, and I loved it.   You can also find motors for the regular machines but they can be pricey.  The motor (or Kitchenaid) makes it easy for one person to do by themselves.  Without the motor I would recommend 2 people. 1 to crank and 1 to feed the dough and catch it as it comes out.  For JR prom this was the "activity" we went to one young mans house and made pasta.  I think it upset he and his parents that I had actually done it before, but I was the only one out of a group of about 10 people.

Most pasta machines come with 2 attachements, one for making spaghetti and one for making fettucini noodles.  You can also just roll it onut in flat sheets for use in lasagna (no precooking necessary) or filled pastas.  I love to make ravioli's in bulk and freeze them for later meals.  

Once the pasta is rolled out you can add it to boiling water and cook 4-5 minutes, less if you roll it really thin.  

If you make more pasta than you can eat in one sitting, you can dry the leftover pasta.  I ALWAYS do this.  It only adds a few minutes of rolling out, but I will make enough for 4-5 meals all at once. I either hang it on wooden spoons or dowels to dry, and I recently started laying it out in my dehydrator to dry.  It only takes about 45 minutes in a dehydrator, and worked great.

You can also do variations adding fresh herbs or other vegetables.  The possibilities are endless.

Good Luck!

March 13, 2009

Not Necessarily Green Smoothie

In our attempt to get the recommended 7-9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily we have begun incorporating green smoothies into our breakfasts. I will admit, at first they are hardly palatable, but once we tried a few different recipes we found they were quite good. The one year old loves them and can't get enough (the two 1/2 year-old still needs some coaxing).
Dr. Fuhrman, who wrote the book "Eat to Live" suggests that each adult eat 1 lb of leafy greens a day. Knowing we can't eat an elephant all at once, we have been taking it one bite or one drink at a time.
I have read up on the fancy $400 blenders, but haven't been able to swallow it yet. So far our Kitchen-Aid blender has done great. Just don't get too impatient and let it blend for a while, sometimes you may need to add more liquid (water, fruit juice, rice milk).

Here are some of our favorite recipes so far.
This first one is what I like to call the beginner smoothie- once you think this one tastes good, it is time to move on to more advanced smoothies.
Beginner Smoothie:
2 cups of frozen mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries etc.)
1-2 cups frozen spinach
liquid as needed

In this smoothie the tartness of the berries overpower the spinach. Note: I buy a big bag of frozen berries at Sam's Club, as well as my frozen strawberries, mangos and tropical fruit.
Start with frozen spinach then move on to fresh. The fresh has a stronger flavor.

Idea #1
1/2 head of romaine lettuce
1 cup pineapple (I used canned with it's own juice)
1 large mango (I used frozen chunks)

Idea #2
1 cup pineapple (I used canned)
1 frozen banana
2 sticks of celery
1 handful of greens (whatever you like)

Idea #3
1 peeled orange with pith removed
1 apple cored
3 sticks celery
2 handfuls of fresh spinach
1 cup ice cubes

P.S. A good smoothie is said to be 60% fresh fruit and 40% greens- so go ahead and experiment.