Thursday, September 20, 2012

Macadamia Nut

Macadamia nuts grow on trees. They have two hard shells. Squirrels must have sharp teeth because it took me a while to open one. This was the first time that picked them off the trees.

When you pick the nut from the tree, it has a hard, green shell. After a couple days, the green shell cracks open...

When the green shell opens, it is fairly easily to get to the inside nut. You have a brown shell that is more difficult to crack that the outer one.

I had to clamp the nut down so that I could hammer the inside shell open.

After several hits, the brown shell finally feels the impact.

Here is a close up of the macadamia nut:

Out of the shell!!!

All that time and effort for one nut!! I go outside to crack one nut. After a minute or two, I attempt to crack another nut. Never timed how long it takes to unshell five nuts. They have machines that can crack hundreds of nuts within the amount of time that I cracked a few.

Just thought I'd share!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lentil Bean Vegetable Soup

So you want a meal that is filling, flavorful, and nutritious?

Lentil Bean Vegetable 'Soup'
Prep Time: 20 min        Cook Time: 50 min
dried lentils + beans (I buy a mix of many different kinds)
1 diced onion
1-2 Tbsp minced garlic
3 small red potatoes (but use how many you want of whatever variety you choose)
8 mushrooms
1 large bell pepper
2 cups (1 can) chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
3 cups water

1 Tbsp italian seasoning
cayenne pepper (optional)

Soak the dried lentils and beans in water for an hour. Rinse them in a colander.

Chop all your vegetables and set aside. If you can't do it all at the same time, I recommend dicing the onion first. In a medium sauce pan, heat oil, onion, garlic like in the last post. After you have created your onion-garlic mixture, you may all the rest of the chopped vegetables.  Continue to stir with a wooden spoon on medium heat. Set aside when cooked (about 5 minutes).

Pour the chicken broth and water into a huge pot. Add the lentils, beans, onion-garlic-veggie mixture, and seasonings (italian and cayenne pepper) also. Give it a stir or two. Cook on medium heat with the lid for about half an hour.

This recipe can be modified depending on what you have on hand. If you do not have bell peppers or mushrooms, don't worry about it. Chop some celery and carrots in. If you don't want to use italian seasoning, you can add cumin or basil/parsley. You can experiment to taste. Let me know which seasonings and veggies you prefer in the 'soup'. I have soup in quotation marks since mine turned out to be quite hearty and chunky, not so soupy. You may add another 2 cups of chicken broth and 3 cups of water if you like, but I try my best to cut as much sodium as possible (which is why I only use 2 cups of chicken broth). You can add more or less soup but I just scooped out the veggies.



*Just dessert. Not a modified healthy version. heheh.*

My baby cousin was here visiting since she is going to start college soon. She told me that she liked sugar cookies and cinnamon. So I made a batch of snickerdoodles just for her!!

Many recipes use cream of tartar. It is quite expensive at the store. A tip that a grocery store employee gave me was to use cornstarch as a substitute since the texture/consistency was the same. I decided to do without it altogether. I went with good ole Martha!

Martha Stewart’s Snickerdoodles
makes about 1 1/2 dozen
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cups (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350F. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Put butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in eggs. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.
Stir together cinnamon and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl. Shape dough into 20 (1 3/4-inch) balls; roll in cinnamon sugar. Space 3 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

I used an ice cream scooper to make the balls of dough even. My cookies were all about the same size. Lined my pans with silpat (non-stick silicone). I love using silpat since you can remove them from the pan. It leads to quicker cooling time.

These snickerdoodles were perfect...chewy cookies that were not too sweet.