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Posts posted by MollyB

  1. For something very close to the blue box mac & cheese, but with higher quality ingredients, try the King Arthur Flour Cheddar Cheese Powder and the recipe on its container. It's quick and easy and a hit with the 6-7 yr old crowd. Plus the cheese powder is quite nice in bread, savory muffins, and on popcorn.


    I also second Thanks for the Crepes' suggestion above for the stovetop mac & cheese where you toss the cooked noodles with butter, milk, and torn up American cheese - a midwestern roommate taught me that in grad school, and it's really quite tasty.

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  2. For general info on different grains and how to cook them, I really like Lorna Sass's Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way. I've liked almost all the recipes I've tried (I've learned I am not a fan of buckwheat groats), and her instructions for cooking different grains seem to be spot on. Her advice to always make extra cooked grains and freeze them is really useful.


    If you have a rice cooker, I also recommend The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensberger and Julie Kaufman. It has recipes for cooking whole grains (barley, farro, wheat berries, etc.) in the rice cooker, as well as some recipes using them.


    I second the recommendation earlier in the thread for Bowls of Plenty - I've made a number of bowls from it and inspired by it. There's one tasty bowl with grilled vegetables that taught me that you can grill Romano beans - what a fabulous discovery! 

  3. Has anyone tried the Maple-Star Anise sandwich cookies? I'm thinking about making them as an non-pie option at Thanksgiving, and am wondering if they are worth the effort.


    The alternate choice would be the World Peace Cookies; they're great (I've made them several times) and they would be a lot easier. Any opinions or other suggestions? 

  4. One of my favorite sides for Thanksgiving (if I'm being forced to do a relatively traditional Thanksgiving dinner, which I usually try to avoid) is whipped chipotle sweet potatoes. I find many sweet potato dishes (i.e. the ones with marshmallows or added sugar) way too sweet, but the chipotle works nicely to offset the sweetness. 


    There's also a fabulous recipe I've made for ancho chiles stuffed with a pumpkin puree. (I can't find the recipe right now. It might have been from the L.A. Times a number of years ago?) The dried chiles are rehydrated in a sweet and sour marinade, then cut open and stuffed with the puree and baked to heat them through. These are way better than any turkey I've ever eaten.

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  5. One thing I especially hate on cooking websites is the slide show display for recipes, where you have to click again to view another recipe. So if, say, I'm searching for recipes for farro, and go to some site that promises recipes for salads using farro, I want to see a list of recipes, not 15 thumbnail images of dishes made with farro where I have to click on the slideshow 15 times to even see the names of the recipes.  I leave sites immediately when forced into this, and won't return to those sites. 

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  6. I guess I was so focused on finding small producers or farmers that it never occurred to me to try Amazon! I'm not familiar with many of the brands selling the (not cracked) freekeh on Amazon. Are there any you'd recommend? I was really disappointed in the cracked freekeh I got at a local grocery store (but I don't know if that was because it was cracked or the brand).



  7. Can anyone recommend a good online source (in the U.S.) for freekeh? I'm looking for whole grain freekeh, not cracked. Someone gave me a bag of it a while ago, and I loved it when I finally cooked it, but now I'm having trouble finding more. I'd appreciate any suggestions for reputable sources. 

  8. I recently discovered the Freezer-Friendly Frittata Breakfast Sandwiches from The Kitchn. I've made the frittata several times now with different kinds of sausage (and bacon, one time), and most recently I made it with leftover cooked link sausage that I diced. I don't make and freeze the whole sandwiches. I cool and cut out the frittata, then wrap the rounds individually with Glad Press N Seal, then freeze them. They can be quickly thawed in the microwave in the morning in the time it takes to toast an English muffin and make a good, filling weekday breakfast.

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  9. My current favorites are guided by a need for relatively quick, good recipes that fit in with a busy work schedule plus a five-yr-old and a puppy. These are the cookbooks I've been turning to a lot lately:


    Mexican Everyday, by Rick Bayless. We keep a jar of his green chile adobo in the fridge so we can make his skillet tacos recipe in about 15 min on a weeknight. We also love the risotto-style rice and beans with poblanos and the same green chile adobo.


    The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Feeling Great, by Pam Anderson. A silly title but a great cookbook for quick, healthy, tasty recipes. We make the crustless quiche in one of its variants pretty regularly, The dinner packets - you choose a protein, vegetables, and a simple sauce and can cook them quickly on a gas grill - are also a regular weeknight meal for us. 


    Soup Makes the Meal: 150 Soul-Satisfying Recipes for Soups, Salads, and Breads, by Ken Haedrich. Lots of great soup recipes, arranged by season of the year. There's a fabulous (not healthy) cauliflower and cheese soup, and a spinach and rice soup that we make all the time. (I actually have it in my lunch today.) We haven't tried many of the breads, but the salads are really good. There's one with radishes, apple, and celery



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  10. Thanks for the feedback! Another variable in our choice is that we're hoping to do a continuous floor through the kitchen and family room (and maybe into the adjoining dining room), as the space is really open. I'd probably go with tile if it were just the kitchen, but I don't really want tile in the family room. 

  11. I'm buying a new house, and we are renovating the kitchen before we move in. We're working with a kitchen designer, and she is suggesting laminate (from Eternity Flooring). She says that this flooring is fairly moisture resistant and durable, and says clients she's worked with have been happy with it. While I would prefer solid hardwood, we're considering going with laminate because:


    • Durability: It's supposed to be really durable. The kitchen has the door out to back yard, and will get a lot of traffic, and we have a 4-yr-old and a dog. 
    • Resistance to fading: The side of the house with the kitchen faces south, and here in Nevada it's going to get a lot of really direct sun. The current floor is engineered wood (fairly low quality, I think), and shows serious fading where the sun has been hitting it for the 15 years it's been in place; it has also worn through the veneer in spots. This laminate is supposed to hold up well to sunlight, and real wood is susceptible to fading.
    • Cost: It's a lot more cost-effective and would let us replace more of the floor (including the cream colored carpet in the dining room). We also might be able to do more in the kitchen--like installing a downdraft vent or getting an induction cooktop plus new pots--if we go with a cheaper floor. 


    Searching various flooring threads, I'm not seeing a lot of fans of laminate. Are there people who are happy with it? Does anyone have experience with Eternity floors? Some of their flooring lines have a moisture barrier and come with a 50 year residential warranty.


    Should we be considering this, or would it be a mistake? 


    Thanks for any advice you might be able to offer!








  12. I got the book from my local library, and liked it enough to buy it. I think I'll probably be turning to it more frequently than some of my other more authentic but more labor intensive cookbooks. I've tried two recipes, a claypot chicken and a beef and celery dish, that were both really good and recipes that could be cooked on a weeknight. It has a good section on Asian ingredients, with both descriptions and photos with some info on recommended brands. 

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  13. One of the first recipes I made from the book is the Cliff Old Fashioned, from Dave Arnold, and it's fabulous. It's an old fashioned made with a coriander & red pepper simple syrup. I've had a bottle of the coriander syrup regularly in my fridge since I first made the drink over the summer.. We like it made with Bulleit rye. 


    I recently tried the Chicken Thighs with Lemon, from Canal House, and wasn't quite as excited by that recipe. We made it exactly as written, with just preserved lemon in the sauce, not adding any of the suggested additions. It was very good and easy, but I'm not sure I'd go out of my way to make it again. It's possible that really good chicken would make a difference; we used grocery store chicken thighs. 

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  14. I've got a 4 yr old who's been using the Planetbox Rover for about a year, and we really like it. I tend to do things that don't take a lot of prep, which works out since he doesn't like things mixed together. I usually do some fruit (just about anything cut into small pieces), a vegetable (edamame, seaweed snacks, corn, peas), some grain-based item (crackers, rice cakes), and some protein. For protein, small pieces of cold cuts or prosciutto work well, or cubed leftover meat. You can also cut cheese into fun shapes with mini cookie cutters. Getting some decorative toothpicks (here's one example) can make basic things a little more fun to eat. For a while he really liked hard-boiled eggs shaped with egg molds. (Be aware that you can buy a lot of bento accessories and have them take over your kitchen!)


    My son is a big fan of freeze-dried strawberries and raspberries (Trader Joe's has them at a good price), which are nice to have on hand for when you don't have fresh fruit on hand. 


    I've tried doing fancier things like mini crustless quiches (use mini muffin tins) or savory muffins, but they have not been a success. But they might work for you. 


    One tip I learned about the Planetbox lunchbox: Since the compartments aren't watertight, moisture will migrate. I put really wet or liquidy things in sealed containers in the lunchbox, but I didn't initially realize that just moist things can cause problems. It took quite a few uneaten crackers and rice cakes for me to realize this.  So if you put something crunchy/crispy in one (such as crackers or rice cakes) and something really moist in another another, the crispy things will no longer be crispy after a few hours. Even edamame or corn can have an effect. 


    I've found the Wendolonia blog a good source of simple, practical bento ideas, in contrast to a lot of bento blogs where people document their elaborate bento masterpieces. I also need to be out the door at 7:30, so the super-elaborate bentos are out. She has a good lunch box idea list, along with lots of photos of bento lunches. 


    I also have and like the Yumbox 6-compartment lunchbox, if you get tempted into buying another lunchbox.

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  15. If your buckwheat noodles were truly wheat-free and you really couldn't tell the difference between them and the typically available ones--which are made partly from wheat--anyone who avoids wheat would like to know what brand they are. For a period of time I was not eating wheat, and I could never find 100% buckwheat noodles. I eat modest amounts of wheat now, and I'm very happy about that, but there was a period of time during which $2.50 per serving would have been a bargain for a noodle that actually tasted like a noodle. (For those who don't know this, buckwheat is not a close relative of wheat and is usually okay for those who are gluten-free.)


    I, too, was not eating wheat for a while and finally found that Eden Organics makes 100% buckwheat soba noodles that I found at my local co-op. But it turns out that there's a reason wheat flour is usually added to soba noodles. The texture wasn't nice at all, almost crumbly, without the wheat. They were OK warm when I first made them, but after refrigeration they really were not very good. I can now eat some wheat and am very happy to be able to eat regular soba noodles again.. 


    As for recipes, SobaAddict70 pointed me on another thread (on low-FODMAP cooking) to this list of soba noodle recipes that I liked a lot: http://www.101cookbooks.com/ingredient/soba%20noodle I especially enjoyed the recipe at that link for Otsu, which was good both warm and cold. 

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  16. Here are some things that my (fairly picky) 3-yr-old likes. (The seaweed and edamame are about the only vegetables we can get into him.)


    • seaweed snacks (Franci mentioned this, too), especially the ones cut into little small pieces
    • freeze-dried fruit (especially strawberries and raspberries)
    • fresh fruit
    • small sandwiches made with sandwich thins
    • steamed buns (Trader Joe's has some decent frozen ones that cook quickly in the microwave)
    • hummus (with pita or flour tortillas)
    • pretzel sticks
    • edamame in the pod (he likes getting them out)


    I also find that different kinds of cookie cutters are really useful tools for making shapes out of just about anything - sandwiches, cheese, tortillas, vegetables (not to mention cookies). You can also use vegetable peelers to make thin, curly strips of carrot or cucumber. Food shaped like animals or trucks or dinosaurs seems to go down a lot more easily  than plain old carrots or slices of cheese. There are also some pretty entertaining sandwich cutters you can get - I really like a puzzle-piece shaped cutter I have that will cut a sandwich into 4 interlocking puzzle pieces. 


    If you're going the less-healthy route, he thinks Cheetos are the best thing ever. We get them occasionally and he will start jumping up and down with excitement when we have them. 

  17. Here's an update 10 days in on the diet:

    • I'm adjusting to no onions or garlic. Garlic-infused oil helps with the flavor of garlic, but there's really no substitute for onions. 
    • It's also been pretty easy to adjust to which vegetables and fruit I can eat. (Although I miss good apples.)
    • I miss bread. Gluten-free bread just isn't very good. My husband made some pretty good flatbread without wheat, but I'm still trying to figure out how to do sandwiches. 
    • The Blue Diamond Almond Nut Thins are pretty tasty crackers, and I also like the Glutino gluten-free sesame pretzels
    • I'm realizing I really don't like to eat big hunks of meat - my diet has changed over the past few years to more and more whole grains and vegetables along with little bits of meat, and I don't want to go back to eating whole steaks or pork chops with any frequency. 
    • I have lost 4 lbs (that I could definitely afford to lose)

    What's especially challenging is having to cut out pretty much all prepared food products (due primarily to onion, garlic, milk products, and prohibited sweeteners like honey.) If I want chicken broth or vegetable broth, I have to make my own no-onion, no-garlic version. Same with salad dressing, ketchup, curry paste, etc. While these are all things I sometimes made anyway, it's hard to have to always make them. And now there's really no option to order a pizza or have a frozen Trader Joe's dinner as a late-week emergency meal anymore. With a full-time job and a toddler, it's hard to find the time to cook anything interesting - it was hard enough before the restrictive diet, but now it's really hard.


    I'm eating lots of eggs and salads! Frittatas, omelets, Cobb salads, etc. 


    Successful meals (i.e. low-FODMAP but things I would have eaten before going on the diet - I'm not including all my unexciting salads);

    • Chard cakes with sorrel sauce (I just had a teeny bit of the sauce, which has yogurt in it. Used home-made gluten-free breadcrumbs and garlic-infused oil in place of garlic) from Plenty
    • Grilled chicken thighs with roasted kale & potatoes on the side
    • Seared scallops with white wine pan sauce, with sauteed zucchini and carrots
    • Blueberry buckwheat pancakes with maple syrup

    I've been trying to figure out how to do a tortilla espanola without onions. (Sorry - can't figure out how to enter a tilde here.)  I've always make a fairly traditional one with potatoes, onion, and egg. Any thoughts on what I could add in place of onions? I feel like I need a little more than just potato and onion in it. 


    I'm planning to try some soba noodle dishes as soon as I can make it to the Asian market here to get soba noodles. 

  18. Thanks for all the ideas! I clearly need to explore more with cornmeal. I'd thought of polenta and corn tortillas, but that cornmeal pancake recipe Plantes linked to looks great. Tonight for dinner I had chicken breast rolled up with pancetta and fresh herbs (a lovely recipe from Giuliano Hazan's Every Night Italian), along with mashed potatoes and a salad. Last night I made a ham and Gruyere quiche with an amaranth and oat crust (the grains ground and mixed with melted butter and a bit of water), and the crust was not a success.


    Any suggestions on good things to do with soba noodles? I've only ever used them in cold dishes with a peanut sauce.

  19. NancyH, that brown rice idea sounds good. 


    And SobaAddict70, "no alliums" is exactly right. But infusing them in oil is OK, so I've been using garlic-infused olive oil. (The sugars the diet avoids are water-soluble, so you can't do things like put pearl onions or whole garlic in a soup or stew for flavor and then just avoid them when eating.)

  20. My doctor has put me on a low-FODMAP diet, and trying to cook good food under this diet is a challenge. (Here is a pretty good summary of the diet, if you're curious.) In brief, it eliminates wheat, lactose, beans, and a fair number of fruits and vegetables, including garlic and onions. 


    Has anyone else out there cooked for this diet and found some good recipes? The no garlic or onions piece is what's really hard, as I've always eaten a lot of garlic and onions in almost everything. I hadn't realized how omni-present they were in all my favorite recipes until I had to stop using them. Ginger is allowed, and scallion greens (just not any of the bulb). I'm also very sad about cutting out wheat, as my husband and I have always baked a lot of sourdough bread. After only one week, I'm getting pretty tired of salad with cooked protein on top, with oatmeal for breakfast and hard-boiled eggs for snacks.


    If anyone has ideas, I'd love to hear them!  Rice, potatoes, and tofu are OK, as well as hard cheeses. 



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