Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Italian Pasta In A Spicy Tomato, Portobello, Golden Bell Pepper Sauce

Pretty to look at and a treat for the tummy, this pasta dish was eye-popping good, flavorful, packed with fresh ingredients and, hyperbole aside, truly delicious.

The pasta, available here, is hand made in Italy. The colorings are all natural, made from tomato or red peppers, beets, spinach or nettle and turmeric. I mean, wow!, what's not to like here?

Compulsive readers (should I have any) will know that I don't normally "do" carbs like pasta. But this particular one changed my mind. Rich with vegetable goodness, high in protein (a 2-ounce serving had 9 grams), and low in fat with zero saturated fat, this is the kind of pasta into which I can stick my fork every once in a while.

Aren't they beautiful?

Italian Pasta in a Spicy Tomato, Portobello, Golden Bell Pepper Sauce
Christine's original recipe
1 medium sweet onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 golden bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 medium portobello mushrooms, stem and gills removed, cut into 1/2-inch dice
5 medium organic tomatoes, coarsely diced, juice and pulp reserved
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping teaspoon organic, dried thyme leaves
1 very small, hot dried red pepper (or 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes)
Kosher salt
freshly ground pepper medley
1/3 cup dry white wine
juice of 1/2 of an orange
good olive oil
1 teaspoon Earth Balance (or a few spritzes cooking spray)

Prepare all of your vegetables and keep separate.
If using a dried chile pepper, place it and a pinch of salt in a mortar and grind it with the pestle until it's in small flakes. If you like your chile hot, leave in the seeds. Otherwise remove them. Set aside.

Set a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil.
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente.
Drain the water from the pot by pouring the pasta into a colander. When drained, place the pasta back into the pot, drizzle with about 2 teaspoons olive oil, toss gently until coated, cover and place at the back of the stove to keep warm.

In a large skillet over medium heat, place about 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon Earth Balance (or, spray the skillet with cooking spray then add 2 teaspoons olive oil).
When oils are hot add the diced onion and gently saute until the onion is beginning to soften. Do not brown.
Add the thyme, crushing it between your fingers, and stir the pan.
Smell the good smells wafting from the pan.
It gets better.
Add the portobellos and saute until they begin to soften and release their juices.
Add the garlic, stirring until it becomes aromatic. Take care to not let it burn.
Add the bell peppers and saute until they begin to soften.
Up to this point, you should be sauteeing, adding ingredients and sauteeing some more for a total of 10 to 12 minutes. In other words, do this quickly. You don't want your pasta getting gummy on you.
Now, pour in the diced tomatoes with their juices and turn the heat up to medium high. Give a few stirs.
Pour in the white wine, orange juice and red pepper flakes, stir and continue to cook until the sauce thickens, about 4 minutes.
Off heat, season to taste with kosher salt and pepper.
Divide pasta among warm plates and top with the sauce.
If you're serving your vegan son, do not add grated parmesan.
Serve with a salad of spring greens and walnut pieces drizzled with a tasty vinaigrette.

Copyright © 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Heart Healthy Mini Pancakes

Not only are they heart healthy, they're low-carb. A win-win little pancake. I made an earlier version of these here, when I was low-carbing a la George's book, and hadn't made them since.

Been thinking about it though, especially after reading
Ilva and Joanna's new blog, The Heart of the Matter - Eating for Life, the other day.
I had seen this cute little image on Kalyn's blog and scooted over to there to take a look for myself.

This is compelling reading, people. I'm sure there are not many of us who've not been touch, in some way, by heart disease. Ilva and Joanna have joined forces to bring heart-healthy eating to the forefront of our minds and eating habits with a series of intriguing round-ups. Ilva's first round-up, featuring heart-healthy finger foods, can be seen here.

It's too bad I didn't get myself off the dime and get this post entered, as these mini pancakes, wrapped around a slice of strawberry, would have been perfect for the occasion. But that's okay because the next round up features low fat desserts and I've got a few of those up my sleeve.

Even before discovering this new blog, I'd been re-assessing the things I cook and eat. Too much reading about what's good for you and what's bad for you will do that. It may be why I've not been blogging much. We've been eating mostly vegetables and salads in my kitchen; either food I've already put on this blog, or dishes that are just too simple, repetitious, and, therefore, not blog-worthy enough for my taste.

What makes these pancakes so healthy for you is the use of flax seed meal. Flax seeds are high is omega-3 fatty acids and have been found to lower bad cholesterol, reduce inflamation, and lower blood pressure, among other health-related results. All this in one little seed.

Because flax seed meal is perishable, I keep mine in the fridge and try to use it within 6 months of purchase. I put it in fruit smoothies and on my morning oatmeal.

Two years ago my blood pressure hovered around 150/86. Now it's at a steady 115/62. A very healthy and respectable range. Do I owe it all to flax seeds? Of course not. But it hasn't hurt one bit to include it in my diet along with lowering my consumption of animal fats and meats in general.

Hearth Healthy Mini Pancakes
Adapted by Christine from Eating Stella Style
Makes 8 large or 16 small pancakes

1/2 cup egg substitute (or you could use 2 whole eggs, beaten slightly)
1/4 cup reduced fat milk
1 teaspoon good vanilla extract (no added sugars)
1/2 cup
almond meal (ground almonds)
1/4 cup
organic golden flax seed meal
2 teaspoons white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon Splenda granualr (or you could use sugar. Or you could use honey. See Cook's Notes below)
1/2 teaspoon each, baking soda and baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch salt
1 teaspoon
Earth Balance Buttery Sticks for the skillet (or you could use cooking spray)

Mix the wet ingredients together until well blended.
Combine the dry ingredients together in a bowl then mix them into the wet ingredients. Stir to combine.
Let sit for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat and add the teaspoon of Earth Balance.
For mini pancakes, use a 1/8 cup measure and drop the batter in small rounds into the skillet. Be sure the rounds are not touching each other - unlike in my photo.
The cakes are ready to turn when bubbles form and pop on the surface of the batter.
Cook until they spring back when gently touched.
Remove to a warm plate and repeat with the rest of the batter.
Serve with sliced strawberries, a small pat of whipped Earth Balance, and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

The uber-healthy Mr CC, who couldn't help himself and drizzled his with a little pure maple syrup, pronounced these delicious.

Cook's Notes:
If you decide to use honey in place of granular sweetener, reduce the amount of milk by the same amount.

Copyright © 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved. No content from this site, including text and photos, may be copied, re-located or otherwise reproduced, in part or in full, for personal or monetary gain, without the express permission of the author.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Pomegranate Gelee

Straight from the back of the Knox Gelatin box, this jello, or gelatin to be more generic, if made with good, unsweetened, low to medium glycemic fruit juices, can be a healthy boon to those of us who have the unfortunate dilemma of sugar intolerance combined with an incorrigible sweet tooth.

Pomegranate has been shown to have many health attributes as well as being in the medium range on the Glycemic Index.

Now, this is not to say that pomegranate juice is low in calories. The kind I used, Knudsen's Just Pomegranate, has 150 calories per 8-ounce serving and 36 grams of fruit sugar carbs. As in, no sugar was added to the juice; those 36 grams are in the juice. But, as can be seen by clicking on the above links, pomegranate juice has great antioxident health properties and is much, much better for you than, say, a can of soda.

And by making this juice into gelatin, you can stop by the fridge, pop a few into your mouth to satisfy a sweet craving, and then be on your way.

To eat one of these jiggly little cubes is delightful. They're tartly sweet, richly satisfying, taste of pure pomegranate, and they're RED!

Pomegranate No-Added-Sugar Gelee
Recipe adapted by Christine from Knox Gelatin
1 32-ounce bottle of Knudsen's Just Pomegranate juice
4 packets Knox Gelatin (there are 4 packets in a small box)
4 packets Splenda
Sprinkle the gelatin over 1 cup of room temperature pomegranate juice and let sit for 1 minute to allow the gelatin to soften.
At the same time, pour the remaining 3 cups of the pomegranate juice into a 4-cup glass measuring cup and microwave on high for about 4 minutes or until the juice comes to just under a boil. The same may be achieved on a stove top if you prefer.
Pour the heated juice into the gelatin mixture and stir until all the gelatin has dissolved.
Pour into a mold of your choosing. I used a glass, 13x9-inch pan.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, cut into cubes and store in small containers so you're not tempted to eat all of them at once.

Copyright 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved. No content from this site, including text and photos, may be copied, re-located or otherwise reproduced, in part or in full, for personal or monetary gain, without the express permission of the administrator/owner.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Catfish Salad With Green Beans And Toasted Almonds With Champagne Raspberry Vinaigrette

Happy St. Patrick's Day, Irish. I hope your eyes are smilin'!

I am, indeed, a goodly amount Irish, with some Scots thrown in, and, we've been told, a smidgen of Osage, but that's never been proven. These are on my mother's side. Along patriarchal lines: warm French, cool English and a bit of Dutch round out my Heintz 57 lineage.

Still, when St. Patrick's Day rolls around, I'm Irish.

And while I haven't gone and whipped up a quintessentially Irish dish today, I did go for the green with this tasty catfish salad which matches my mood for lighter fare.

Sprinkled with organic celery salt and the crushed leaves of Claudia's Herbs Fantastic Fish Blend, the filets are quickly sauteed then placed atop a bed of crispy spring salad greens, followed by hot buttery green beans and a sprinkling of toasted, slivered almonds. A champagne and raspberry vinaigrette drizzled over and around finishes the dish.

The organic herb blend used here is a combination of lemon basil, chives, dill, thyme and celery leaves, but the flavor that comes to the forefront is the celery. Pair that with celery salt and celery really speaks out loud in this dish. Nicely so.

Where does this herbal blend come from?
Claudia's Organic Herbs is a local company run by Claudia Holzinger on her family farm in Orleans, a beautiful spot on the Klamath River about 35 miles as the crow flies from our coastline. She's famous for her green and dried garlic and her produce is widely sought after by local restaurant chefs. Fantastic Fish Blend is available locally year-round and Claudia doesn't have a web site. can now be ordered online their new web site.

Celery, which is rich in vitamin C, is recognized as a blood pressure reducer and may be helpful in reducing blood cholesterol levels. It was first used for medicinal purposes by the Romans and Greeks before it was used as a food.

One of three ingredients that serves as the flavor base for many French and Creole recipes, celery is found in the Holy Trinity - onions, bell peppers and celery - and is what every good jambalaya begins with, while a mirepoix, carrots, celery and onions, comprises the beginning of many a fabulous French stew.

Weekend Herb Blogging, which orginated with the wonderful Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen, is being hosted this week by Becky of Key Lime and Coconut. Click here to find out about this popular and fun weekly event.

The only thing left to do now is eat and enjoy!

Catfish Salad with Green Beans and Toasted Almonds
Drizzled with Champagne-Raspberry Vinaigrette
Christine's Original Recipes

for the vinaigrette:
1 ounce champagne vinegar
1 ounce raspberry vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon dijon mustard
pinch kosher salt
pinch sugar (or Splenda)
several grinds black pepper
3 ounces roasted walnut oil
3 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
In a glass jar or measuring cup, whisk together the vinegars, mustard, salt, sugar and pepper.
Slowly whisk in the walnut oil, then the olive oil, until the mixture is thickly emulsified.
Set aside and keep at room temperature.

For the Salad:
4 fresh catfish filets
1/2 teaspoon organic celery salt
1-2 tablespoons Claudia's Fantastic Fish Blend, crumbled
Freshly ground black pepper or a good pepper medley
1 teaspoon good olive oil
1 teaspoon unsalted butter (or Earth Balance)
Enough organic spring salad mix for 4 plates
1 - 1 pound package frozen, organic green beans
1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or Earth Balance)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
The green beans may be prepared by microwaving or steaming.
This is what I did:
Place the frozen beans in a glass dish, dot them with Earth Balance and some kosher salt, place a lid on top and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
Remove the lid, give the beans a stir, replace the lid and microwave an additional 4 minutes on high or until hot and tender-crisp.
Sprinkle with the toasted almonds and set aside.

While the beans are cooking, place a teaspoon each olive oil and butter in a skillet large enough to hold the fish filets and bring to medium high heat.
Pat the fish dry with a paper towel and sprinkle 1/2 of the celery salt and 1/2 of the herb blend and a few grinds of the pepper on one side of each filet.
Place the filets in the skillet, herb side down, and saute for about 4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.
Flip the fish over and sprinkle with the remainder of the seasonings. Cook until the fish is done, about 4 minutes more.
Arrange the salad mix on plates.
Lay a piece of sauteed catfish on top of each salad, followed by a generous portion of green beans.
Drizzle with dressing and serve.

Copyright 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved. No content from this site, including text and photos, may be copied, re-located or otherwise reproduced, in part or in full, for personal or monetary gain, without the express permission of the author.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Meyer Lemon Curd Throwdown

(3-18-07: I'd been working on this overworked and over-aggrandized post, unable to reach a satisfying conclusion, for some time when I realized the problem was that I was trying to compare apples to oranges, as it were. It just can't be done. What I was trying to posit is that a no-sugar, low-fat, no cholesterol lemon curd could be favorably compared in taste to a lemon curd made with sugar, eggs and butter. And what I did was prove myself wrong. There simply is no comparison. It's not that the faux curd is bad, it's just not great, and it doesn't stand up to the real thing. With that disclaimer right up front, I give you my silly little experiment as simply that - an experiment. Do with it what you will.)

When the
box of Meyer lemons arrived in the mail from Bill and Erika a while ago, I knew I would use some of them to make lemon curd.

If you read this blog with any regularity, you will know that when it comes to desserts, or sweets in general, much as I love the real thing, I often try to lower their glycemic impact on my body by reducing (or eliminating) the amount of sugar, white flour and fat.

Now, even I know that to mess with the traditional ingredients of lemon curd borders on the sacrilegious. There's simply nothing that compares to the bright, puckery, pure lemony deliciousness that "real" lemon curd imparts to tongue and scone.

Still, sure that I could fool an unsuspecting taster, I decided to try an experiment by making two batches of curd, employing no-sugar, good-fat, no-cholesterol ingredients in one batch, and full on sugar, butter and eggs in the other. The only constants were the recipe employed (from the lovely little book "
Having Tea", albeit an earlier version than is available on Amazon now, by Tricia Foley and Catherine Calvert), the measurements used, and the Meyer lemons themselves.

Mr. CC was my willing blind-taste-testing accomplice, who wasn't informed beforehand of the ingredients lists.

The 'Real Deal' Meyer Lemon Curd
Recipe adapted from
Having Tea by Tricia Foley and Catherine Calvert

3 eggs
5 tablespoon melted butter
1 cup superfine sugar
the juice and grated zest of 2 Meyer lemons

In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, gently whisk the eggs into the melted butter until fully combined then stir in the sugar.
Gradually stir in the lemon juice and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
Remove from the heat and stir in the zest. Cool completely.
Pour into small, clean jars and keep in the fridge for up to a week.

Low Glycemic Meyer Lemon Curd
Recipe adapted by Christine from
Having Tea

3/4 cup egg substitute (I used Lucerne's Best of the Egg)
5 tablespoons
Earth Balance Buttery Sticks

1 cup Splenda granular (for a more sugar-like taste, use 1/2 cup Splenda-Sugar Blend instead)
juice and zest from 2 Meyer lemons

Same method as above.

When the curds were cool enough to sample, I placed a small dish of each kind side by side and asked Mr CC to taste each one. He (unknowingly) tried the "faux" version first. He described it as creamy and sweet, a little tart, with a bit of a not-unpleasant-but-puzzling aftertaste he couldn't describe. Visually, he thought it looked different from the other curd; pale yellow and less translucent which masked the zest.

No sooner had he tried the second dish, his eyes literally popped open and a big grin settled on his face. "Tart" "Sweet" "Clean" "Outstanding!" "A long, lemony finish" were some of the ways he described this spoonful. Visually it was a clear lemon color that allowed the tiny flecks of zest to stand out.

Suffice it to say, he had no trouble picking the Real Deal Lemon Curd as his favorite. I thought he would have had a harder time choosing, which blew a hole in my experiment.

1. While the faux curd cooks up and firms up just like the real curd, the taste is decidedly different. One could probably mitigate that somewhat by using
Splenda-Sugar Blend which would impart a more sugar-like sweetness and allow the tartness of the lemon to shine through.
2. If you want your lemon curd to taste like real lemon curd, you should probably make real lemon curd.
3. Once again my culinary cockiness was lowered a few notches. And I was so sure...

Copyright 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved. No content from this site, including text and photos, may be copied, re-located or otherwise reproduced, in part or in full, for personal or monetary gain, without the express permission of the author.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Biscuit Baking Mix Day

My mother always baked from scratch.

And did she ever love to bake: cakes, pies, cobblers, fruit dumplings, drop biscuits, rolled biscuits, shortbread, gingerbread. You name it, she could, and did, bake it.

From scratch. Uless it was pancakes.

There always seemed to be a box of Bisquick in the cupboard as I was growing up and so far as I can remember, she always made pancakes with it. I haven't a clue why. Maybe my sisters can shed some light on the mystery.

At any rate, so did I, make pancakes from Bisquick, until, somewhere in my twenties, I found a recipe for scratch pancakes in a very old Better Homes and Gardens cook book and learned that they didn't have to be salty.

Since that light-bulb day, I've not used Bisquick or any pre-mixed biscuit mix. Ever. Not only because of the high salt content of the mix, but especially because of the load of trans-fats it packs.

So I've been faced with a bit of a dilemma: I wanted to participate in my blogger friend Mimi's Biscuit Baking Mix Day to show my support for her event and the reason behind it, but I HATE biscuit mixes, salty Bisquick in particular.

Well wouldn't you know, while shopping yesterday, with no intention whatsoever of picking up a box biscuit mix, I spied Bisquick Heart Smart Baking Mix. Intrigued, I found that no trans-fats lurk within this mix and the sodium content seems to be within reasonable limits.

You got it - into my cart, home to my kitchen and now, into what I think is a quite respectable (for having come out of a box) and tasty down home berry cobbler.


Going through my old yellow recipe box, I found a recipe card that my mother must have clipped from the back of a box of Bisquick (more mystery). So not only have I used Bisquick in my recipe, I adapted one of their own recipes to do it. What a hoot.

Now before you go thinking I'm going to start baking with biscuit mixes, think again. This is a one-time deal.
Wel l l l l, maybe I'll try some pancakes. Mr. CC would like that.

Mimi, my friend, this one's for you.

Blackberry Cobbler
Adapted by Christine from a General Mills Peach Cobble-up recipe
For the batter:
2 cups Heart Smart Bisquick baking mix
2/3 cups milk
1 tablespoon Splenda Brown Sugar Blend (or 2 tablespoons brown sugar)
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

For the fruit:
3 1/2 cups blackberries, frozen (Mine were from last Fall's harvest)
2 tablespoons Pomegranates au Merlot sauce
1/4 cup Splenda granular (or 1/4 cup regular sugar)
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

Place the berries in a large saucepan over medium low heat.
Stir in the pomegranate-merlot sauce, Splenda and lemon juice until fully blended.
Keep over low heat until the berries soften and juice forms in the pan. (I ended up with 2/3 cup of juice, 1 cup would be better.)
Remove from heat and set aside.

Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir with a spoon until fully mixed. The batter will be a bit on the stiff side.
Place batter in a buttered 8x8-inch dish.

Using a slotted spoon, place the berries on top of the batter.
Slowly pour the berry juice mixture over the top of it all and place the pan in a 400-degree oven for about 30 minutes, or a 350-degree oven for 40 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed with your finger. (The recipe said to bake it in a 400-degree oven for 40 minutes, but that was too long.)

When done, remove to a wire rack to cool slightly.
Serve warm or at room temperature. A scoop of good vanilla ice cream would be nice.

Did I like it?


Copyright 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved. No content from this site, including text and photos, may be copied, re-located or otherwise reproduced, in part or in full, for personal or monetary gain, without the express permission of the administrator/owner.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Breakfast Protein Smoothie That Packs An Anti-Oxident Punch

This morning the swallows arrived, bringing with them a stunningly beautiful, warm day, and announcing that Spring is here. I don't care that the calendars say that Spring doesn't start until March 20th, I believe the swallows. They're rarely wrong.

This is a breakfast shake I make when the weather turns from the cold, wet grayness of winter to the gentle sunshine and soft, warm breezes of spring.

It's packed with protein, is low in calories and sports low-glycemic ingredients.

I start with organic, frozen, no-sugar-added sliced peaches and strawberries.

Whey protein powder, organic flaxseed meal and cinnamon are next - all good anti-oxident ingredients.

A little Splenda, vanilla extract and, finally, a pinch of toasted slivered almonds add flavor and texture.

Add water and buzz it all up in a blender and you have a thick, rich, smooth, frosty, decadent-tasting, low calorie, filling, good for you breakfast.

Breakfast Protein Smoothie
Adapted from 40-30-30 Fat Burning Nutrition by Joyce and Gene Daoust
1 to 1 1/2 cups water
1 22-gram scoop (about 4 heaping tablespoons) whey protein powder
1 heaping teaspoon organic flaxseed meal
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon good vanilla extract (no sugar, no corn syrup)
1/2 cup organic, frozen peach slices (no sugar added)
1/2 cup organic, frozen whole strawberries (no sugar added)
1 packet Splenda (if you use granular, you may have to use more as it's not as sweet)
2 teaspoons toasted, slivered almonds
Place the water in the blender followed by the next 4 ingredients and buzz for a second or two to blend.
Add the fruits, Splenda and almonds and buzz on high speed until the mixture is fully blended and the consistency of an ice cold milk shake.
If you use 1 1/2 cups of water, this will make a 2-cup smoothie. I usually have 1 cup for breakfast and save the rest for a mid-morning snack. Or share it with someone you love.

Copyright 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved. No content from this site, including text and photos, may be copied, re-located or otherwise reproduced, in part or in full, for personal or monetary gain, without the express permission of the administrator/owner.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Vegan Lingonberry Shortbread Bars

We had a beach night at our house last night last Saturday night a week ago to welcome home two from our group who had been away for some time. I, of course, had to play host so I could show off the kitchen (who cares if the grout isn't in yet?) and the new walls.

But this isn't about beach night, wonderful as it was.

This is about the fact that the house had to be cleaned and put in order.

Which it was.

Allowing me to cook again.

Which I did.

(Insert big sigh of relief here.)

And today sunday last Sunday I celebrated my kitchen being returned to me - albeit groutless, but that's coming - by making up a batch of vegan shortbread bars topped with a layer of lingonberry preserves, then sprinkled with another layer of oat-almond-cinnamon-brown sugar crumble. I'd been noodling on devising this recipe for a vegan-friendly shortbread for several days.

Many, many moons ago when I had a house full of daycare children, I used to make shortbread bars (the kind with real butter and pure white sugar) as a special treat. It's been years since I've thought of them and I wasn't sure of the proportions, but once I got started, just like riding a bike, it all came back to me.

These were pretty good and Jeffrey's been eating them for the past few days Jeffrey really enjoyed them but see my Cook's Notes for what I would do differently if I were to make them again.

Vegan Lingonberry Shortbread Bars
Christine's original recipe
For the shortbread:
1 cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance Buttery Sticks (room temperature)
1 cup Splenda Granular
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup finely ground almonds (Also called almond flour. I get mine at Trader Joe's, but you can make your own)

For the topping:
4 tablespoons lingonberry preserves
1/2 cup rolled oats (I used Quaker)
1/2 cup slivered, toasted almonds, finely chopped
1/4 cup Splenda-Brown Sugar Blend
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Stick, cut into small pieces and kept cold
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
To make the topping, combine the oats, finely chopped almonds, Splenda-Brown Sugar blend and cinnamon in a bowl and stir well to blend.
Add the pieces of the 3 tablespoons Earth Balance and blend them into the oat mixture. Using your fingers, pinch the butter into the dry ingredients until they're the size of lima beans (see photo; this is hard to explain.) Set aside.

To make the shortbread, place the 1 cup Earth Balance and the Splenda granular in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
Add the flour, salt and ground almonds and continue to beat on low to medium until the mixture just begins to hold together. It will go from rather sandy to creamy very quickly so watch the bowl. This may take several minutes, depending on your mixer.

Bring the mass together with your fingers and place in an ungreased 8x8 baking pan or an 8 or 9-inch round cake pan.
Using your fingers, press the dough, from the center outward, until it covers the bottom of the pan in a uniform thickness.

Spread the lingonberry preserves over the dough and then top with the oat mixture.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 45 minutes.
Place the pan on a rack and allow to cool completely. The dough will firm up during the cooling time.

Cooks' Notes:
Earth Balance Buttery Sticks are made from oils not cream, and because of this the texture of the shortbread was just a wee bit on the oily side. Next time I would reduce the measurement to 3/4 cup.
For the toppings, I think I would increase the lingonberry preserves to 6 tablespoons. As the preserves cooked, they became chewy and added a nice sweet-tart dimension to the bars. More of this would be a good thing.
There was too much of the oat-almond topping. Next time I would reduce the oats and the almonds to 1/4 cup each and reduce the Earth Balance to 2 tablespoons. Otherwise, leave the rest of the topping as is.

You may have noticed that I haven't been blogging lately. It's true. I think it's because Mercury is in retrograde, or some such thing. I've been suffering from a bit of a writer's block I guess. (Of course that assumes I'm a writer.) It doesn't please me that my posting has dropped off but it has, and instead of stressing about it, I'm going to relax and see where all this goes. Sometimes you just gotta run with what you have. In my case, a bit of a downswing.

Copyright 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved. No content from this site, including text and photos, may be copied, re-located or otherwise reproduced, in part or in full, for personal or monetary gain, without the express permission of the administrator/owner.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

I Haven't Been Cooking Because ...

...My kitchen looks like a tornado hit it.

I've tried, as you can see from some recent vegan cooking
posts. But then it got too crazy. The water was off, buckets and tools were strewn all over the counters. And several times I could barely walk through the kitchen without having to step over (bump into) large, pointy and sharp objects.

So I quit trying to cook amidst all the chaos and let the time needed to my kitchen take its natural course.

It's almost done.

Then Jeff and Amy came and painted the wood trim along with doing other rooms in the downstairs for my birthday. Now there's more.

Notice the sunny yellow tiles going up with the deep cobalt trim. (Can you imagine trying to cook in this construction zone?)

The grout will be put in today tomorrow. Then I'll post a finished photo.Then I'll start cooking again.

Oooohhh!!! This is so cool!

Copyright 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved. No content, including text and photos, may be copied, re-located or reproduced, in full or in part, for personal or monetary gain without the express permission of the owner/administrator, Christine Hills.