Category Archives: Grains

Frank’s RedHot Sunflower Seeds

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If you ever peeked into my refrigerator, chances are that I have a big bottle of Frank’s RedHot Sauce stowed away on the refrigerator door.  Actually, I have a whole door shelf dedicated to spicy hot sauce mixtures and blends.  I love hot sauce.  I love spicy food.  Bruce thinks that I am crazy because I love that lingering burn from hot peppers.  Little does he know, I’m perfectly fine…

My fondness for fiery food began when I was about 10 years old.  I did not want to eat the bland and boring dishes that the other kids in my family were eating, I wanted what the adults were putting on their plates.  Things have not changed.  Now when someone asks me how hot I want my food, my typical response is “make me cry”.

P7275298 (766x1024)

The other day while shopping at a wholesale food/restaurant supply store, I stumbled across a container of Frank’s RedHot Seasoning blend in the spice aisle.  I’ve never seen it in a regular grocery store before so I think it’s something that is meant to be sold to restaurants and commercial food establishments.  Frank’s RedHot Sauce is a delicious blend of an aged variety of red cayenne peppers, vinegar and garlic.  I use Frank’s RedHot Sauce in and on so many dishes that I prepare.  And, when I first discovered that spice blend, I knew I had something amazingly delicious in my hands.  I could not wait to get home and try it out!

Franks1

As soon as I got home, I opened the lid of the container, poked my finger into the spice mixture and tasted it.  It had that same Frank’s flavor that I knew and loved but it was in a dehydrated form perfect for sprinkling on french fries, homemade potato chips, popcorn, chicken or whatever my little heart desires.  I then put the spice blend in a shaker for an even better distribution of flavor on my dishes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My Frank’s RedHot Sunflower Seeds are a simple combination of three ingredients.  Raw shelled sunflower seeds, an egg white and Frank’s RedHot Seasoning blend.  That’s it.  Plus, it’s so easy to make, you can have a pound of these delicious little snacks knocked out in about 15 minutes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These little sunflower seeds are packed with serious cayenne flavor.  You can adjust the flavor level to suit your taste buds by adding or minimizing the amount of Frank’s RedHot Seasoning that you choose to use…  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a medium sized bowl whisk the egg white until frothy.  Add the raw sunflower seeds and Frank’s Seasoning blend.  Go easy on the seasoning the first time out…  You can always add more at the very end.  Toss and coat well.  Grab a large cookie sheet and spray with non stick spray.  Add the sunflower seed mixture to the cookie sheet spreading out the sunflower seeds evenly.

Place the cookie sheet on the highest rack in the oven.  Bake for about 7 to 10 minutes.  Stirring the sunflower seeds often.  Carefully taste a seed or two before removing from the oven to make sure you get the desired crunchiness and toasty color (they’re hot!).  Remove from the oven, shake more Frank’s Seasoning on the sunflower seeds if desired, let cool and place in an airtight container.  Lasts about 5 – 7 days.

Print Friendly

Wild Morel Mushroom Risotto

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMorel Mushroom Risotto

Every spring I look forward to our trips up to the Cascade Mountains of Southern Oregon to hunt mushrooms.  Usually during the month of May, for only a few short weeks, you can find wild morel mushrooms.   Morel mushrooms are one of my favorite fungi to prepare and what’s so cool about them is that we can find them close to our home in the mountains that surround the Rogue Valley.

Early one Sunday afternoon, Bruce and I hopped in the truck to visit some friends who live up on the Greensprings about 15 miles east of Ashland.  The Greensprings is right in the heart of morel mushroom country here in Southern Oregon.  That afternoon, Bruce and I were invited to a potluck barbecue with family and friends.  Before the barbecue dinner, the entire group of us planned on hunting for morel mushrooms deep in the forests of Southern Oregon.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A view on the way up to the summit of the Cascades.  Every time we drive up the mountains, I can’t help but look for the elk herds in the meadows above the road.  Spring and fall seem to be the best time of year to see them.  During the summer months they are found at higher elevations deep in the forests and during the winter, they prefer lower, warmer elevations.  Unfortunately, we did not see any elk today.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A view below the summit on Highway 66.  We are just a few miles away from the Pacific Crest Trail in the Southern Oregon Cascades and about 5 miles from some of the best mushroom picking spots that I know.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We finally reached our destination.  These mountain forests contain an abundance of wild mushrooms.  Today we focused only on Morels…  Morel mushrooms are an amazing delicacy that most people see only in fine restaurants or specialty markets.  When picking wild mushrooms, be so very careful to properly identify them before taking them home.  If you are not 100% positively sure of what you are looking at, DON”T PICK IT.  EVER… Some species of mushrooms look so very much alike and are difficult to identify.  I don’t want to frighten you but picking mushrooms is serious business.  It’s potentially dangerous if you pick the wrong one.  You pick the wrong one and you may run the risk of getting terribly sick, or losing your liver or worse, losing your life.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I found one!  Morels have a distinctive shape and color.  They look like little brown pine cones on the forest floor.  When hunting for morel mushrooms, be mindful of where you walk, you just might step on one!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A bowl of fresh picked morels…  I just now need to trim up the stems and briefly soak them in salt water to eliminate little bugs or debris.  I will dry or freeze what we will not use within the next few days.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With some of our fresh picked morels I made a lovely Wild Morel Mushroom Risotto. My Morel Mushroom Risotto is a deliciously creamy blend of arborio rice, morel mushrooms, onion, garlic, thyme, chicken stock, white wine and fresh shaved Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 to 5 cups chicken stock (hot)
  • 1 cup morel mushrooms (chopped)
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 – 3 cups morels (sliced)
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Begin by heating the olive oil in a thick bottomed pot on medium heat.  Saute the onion in the olive oil until cooked through or transparent.  Add arborio rice and cook for a few minutes.  Add white wine and stir constantly until wine has been absorbed by the rice.  Add 1 cup of the hot chicken stock stirring until the liquid has been absorbed.  Cook for at least 20 minutes adding remaining chicken stock one cup at a time.  Add chopped morel mushrooms after about 15 minutes of cooking. Remove from heat and add Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.  The goal is for the arborio rice to make a thick and creamy sauce.

In a separate pan, quickly saute the 2 – 3 cups of sliced morel mushrooms in 1 1/2 tsp olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for a few short minutes.  Remove from heat and ladle the sauteed morel mushrooms over the risotto mixture. Makes 4 servings.

Print Friendly

Wheat Berry Salad and a walk along Bear Creek

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wheat Berry Salad with Kalamata Olives and Feta Cheese

I’m not a big fan of making New Year’s resolutions.  All my resolutions such as losing weight and exercising more, historically have been destined for defeat.  So, since I despise failure, I don’t do resolutions anymore.  Nope, none, nada…  I look at it this way.  I make New Year’s expectations. Expectations for me are doable and achievable.  This year I expect to take smaller steps to improving my life and health.  I’m certainly not a perfect person but when I expect something out of myself, I do it.

One of the first things that Bruce and I did for the New Year was to take a long walk along Bear Creek here in the Rogue Valley.  Bear Creek is home to many species of birds, aquatic mammals and fish.  During the spring and fall months you may see large salmon or steelhead swimming up the creek on their way to their spawning grounds.  In the winter, the water in the creek is too turbid from the rain and snow to see much at all.  However, it is a great time to go birding.  So, I grabbed my camera and out the door we went.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A great egret hunting for fish in the marshy area near the creek.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A pair of mallard ducks on a log.  This is my favorite picture of the day.  The brightly colored drake is on the left and the plain colored hen is on the right.  It won’t be long before they start nesting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A closeup of a drake Mallard duck.  Notice the beautiful blue wing bar and bright orange legs?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When we got back home from our walk along the creek, I decided to make a bright and flavorful Wheat Berry Salad.  My Wheat Berry Salad is simple to make and tastes delicious! It’s made with tasty little wheat berries, red bell pepper, Kalamata olives, green onions, parsley, feta cheese and my favorite red wine vinaigrette.  In just a matter of hours, I’m already living up to my expectations.  A lovely walk and a healthful salad.  That was easy.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  •  3 cups cooked wheat berries (1 cup dried = 3 cups cooked)
  • 1/2 cup red bell (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinaigrette (click on link for recipe)
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives (pitted and chopped)
  • 1/4 cup green onions (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese (crumbled)
  •  4-  6 cups lettuce, watercress or your favorite leafy greens

Mix all ingredients (except lettuce or watercress) in a medium sized bowl adding the feta cheese last…  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Chill and serve on a bed of lettuce, watercress or other leafy greens.  Garnish with additional feta crumbles and chopped parsley.  Makes 6 servings.

Print Friendly

Sunflower Seed Basil Pesto

Sunflower Seed Basil Pesto

Every year I plant several basil plants in my little garden.  I just love basil…  It’s fragrant, versatile and tastes so amazingly fresh.  I’m really happy because this has been a surprisingly good year for my basil.  The bugs have left most of the plants alone and the weather has been just perfect for the rest of the plants in the garden.   When I walked outside this morning, I noticed immediately that it was time to harvest some of those gorgeous green leaves.

Basil ready to be picked.  I don’t know what I like better…  The beautiful bright green leaves or the fresh herbaceous aroma.

Thyme.  One of my favorite herbs…  The tiny delicate leaves are packed with flavor.

Mammoth Dill.  This is the first time I have tried growing dill in my garden.  I just love the delicate little yellow flowers!

Basil blossoms.  I pinch the blossoms off to encourage additional growth on my basil plants.

The main ingredients for my Sunflower Seed Basil Pesto.

My Sunflower Seed Basil Pesto is easy to make, nut free and delightfully vegan.  I like to use my pesto on pasta, pizza and especially on a warm crusty baguette with fresh mozzarella and sliced heirloom tomatoes.  Makes about 1 cup.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves lightly packed
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (roasted and shelled)
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp lemon juice or to taste (to prevent browning of the pesto)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or more if necessary

Add all ingredients except olive oil to a food processor.  Pulse food processor while adding a steady stream of olive oil.  Scrap sides and pulse until well blended.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Use immediately or store (covered) in refrigerator up to 24 hours.  Makes about 1 cup.

Print Friendly

Red Quinoa Salad

Red Quinoa Salad

I love it when I make a dish that my husband Bruce has never tasted or even seen before in his life.  My Red Quinoa Salad is one of those dishes… Last night when I put a bowl of my Red Quinoa Salad next to the grilled chicken that I made him for dinner, he stopped what he was doing, looked down, looked at me and said in a stern voice “Okay, what is this Tess? And, wait, are those zucchinis?  You know I hate zucchini!”.   I looked at him with a big smirk and said, “No, it’s not zucchini silly, it’s cucumber, and before you ask any more questions, the salad is red quinoa with kalamata olives and feta.  You’ve had quinoa before, it’s good for you and I think you will like the salad”.  He looked back at me in silence….  As my sister would say, all you could hear was “crickets”.  And I gotta tell you that I was right.  Bruce liked it!  He ate the whole bowl and then he wanted more…

For those who do not know, quinoa is a type of edible seed that originated in the Andes of South America.  Quinoa is pronounced “keen-wah” and not “key-nowah” like I first thought…  It comes in a couple of varieties including red and black.  I enjoy making quinoa because it is so quick to prepare, easy and versatile.  You can serve it hot or cold and it can be ready in a matter of about 20 – 25 minutes.  Next time you see quinoa at the market, snag some.  I think you’ll like it.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red quinoa (rinsed well in cold water and drained)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup cucumber (diced)
  • 1 cup red tomato (diced)
  • 1/2 cup red onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinaigrette (make mine, you will love it!)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup crumbed feta cheese for garnish (optional)
  • parsley sprig for garnish

Begin by cooking the quinoa in a covered saucepan on medium heat until it boils.  Turn on low and let cook another 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Meanwhile chop all your vegetables and make the Red Wine Vinaigrette.  When quinoa is cool add all ingredients except feta cheese to a mixing bowl and toss well.  Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.   Taste and correct your seasonings.  When ready to serve, sprinkle top of salad with “optional” feta cheese and garnish with parsley.  Serves 4.

Print Friendly