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Cooking Concoctions

For your reading convenients below you will find all the Cooking Concoctions published in 2017

January 2017

Yummy Yum Yum! I just made these a few weeks ago and they are delicious. Not only is this a vegetarian and healthy recipe, but also one with a lot of flavor. Enjoy! Spicy Black Bean Cakes Ingredients: 2T oil 4 green onions, chopped 6 cloves garlic, minced 2 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced 2 T cumin 2 14.5 can black beans, drained and rinsed 2 C grated sweet potatoes, squeeze out the juice 1 egg ½ c bread crumbs Directions: *Heat oil, cook onions for 1 minute *add garlic, cumin, & pepper, cook for 30 seconds, you will begin to smell the wonderful aroma *Remove from heat and put in a bowl, add beans and mash thoroughly *Mix potato, egg, and bread crumbs in a separate bowl *Add to bean mixture, and mix well *Shape into balls and flatten; I used the size of a large meatball, which made 12 Cook: *Place “cakes” on a lightly greased cookie sheet, I use two *Broil, 4 inches from top of oven *Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, turn over and cook additional 3- 5 minutes Tips: Slice plum tomatoes lengthwise and lightly brush with olive oil and broil as well Serve with rice

February 2017

Here is a slightly sweet treat to have after your Valentine’s Day dinner. And for those counting calories, one slice is about 300 calories. So indulge and put on some toppings too! Chocolate Pound Cake Ingredients: 1 cup butter 5 eggs 3 cups flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 3 cups sugar 1/2 cup cocoa 1 cup milk 1 teaspoon vanilla Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy add eggs, mix well Sift together dry ingredients and add alternately with milk, mixing well Add vanilla and blend together Pour into 10-inch tube pan Bake for 1 hour and 25 minutes Top with strawberries, raspberries, whipped cream, or ice cream if desired

March 2017

With Saint Patrick’s Day in 17 days, I thought I would share a couple of recipes from my dear, and longtime Irish friend. You will find the start and end of what could be a great Saint Patty’s Day dinner. You just have to include the corn beef and cabbage to make it complete!

Irish Potato Soup
Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 leeks, sliced
5 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3 (14.5ounce) cans chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Toppings: shredded Cheddar cheese, crumbled cooked bacon, chopped fresh chives

Directions:
Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat; stir in onion and leeks
Cover and cook 20 minutes
Stir in potato; cover and cook 15 minutes
Stir in broth, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil
Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until potato is tender
Remove from heat, and cool slightly

Process soup in batches in a blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. return to saucepan and cook over medium heat until thoroughly heated.
Serve with desired toppings

Note: You could also puree the soup directly in the pot (when cooled) with a hand or immersion blender
Tip: You could add another cooked potato that has been diced, for added texture.

Irish Lemon Pudding
For the Crust
Ingredients:
½ cup unsalted butter
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon table salt

Directions:
Place the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and melt
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt
Pour in the melted butter and pull everything together with a wooden spoon
Use your hands to completely incorporate all the bits and form a ball
The dough will be smooth, soft, and pliable
Press it into the bottom and up the sides of an 8 or 9" tart pan (a springform pan is fine)
Cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes
Preheat the oven to 350°F
Take the chilled dough out of the fridge and prick it all over with a fork
Bake for 10 minutes and then set aside while you prepare the filling

For the Irish Lemon Pudding
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, whites and yolks divided
2 large lemons, zested and juiced
½ cup all-purpose flour
1¼ cups milk
Whipped cream and sprinkles to top

Directions:
In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar
Add the egg yolks and beat until fluffy
Place the egg whites in a medium bowl (one large enough that you can get the beaters of a hand mixer in it)
To the butter, sugar, and yolks add the lemon zest and juice, beat until smooth
Add the flour and mix until just combined
Slowly pour in the milk and mix completely, the batter will be liquidy with bubbles appearing at the edges of the bowl
Using the whisk attachments for your hand mixer (or an incredible amount of elbow grease) beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, they will look like meringue
Fold the whites into the batter, you might not be able to fold it all in without it looking clumpy and lumpy; it's ok! You want those fluffy egg whites to stay that way.
Pour the batter into the crust and bake for 35-40 minutes
Top with whipped cream and sprinkles, if desired
Can be served warm or cold.

Note: The crust will come together quickly but does need to chill for about 30 minutes before baking. Be sure you allow yourself time for that or make the crust ahead of time.

April 2017

I have chosen to share two earthy recipes in honor of Earth Day, which will be on April 22. Did you know that there is an alliance of some 17,000 groups in 174 countries working to promote a healthy environment and a peaceful, just, sustainable world? How wonderful is that!

The first recipe is not only delicious with all its flavors, but healthy too!
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
1½ cup dry quinoa
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, pressed
½ teaspoon dry basil, minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme, crushed between your fingers
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups arugula
1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
1 cup roasted red bell pepper, drained and chopped
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup basil, thinly slivered

Directions:
*Cook the quinoa according to package directions with ½ teaspoon salt added to the water. Cool completely.
*Mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pressed garlic, basil and thyme. Whisk until well combined. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside.
*To a large serving bowl, add the quinoa, arugula, garbanzo beans, red bell pepper, kalamata olives and feta cheese.
*Drizzle with the dressing and garnish with basil.
*Season to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Happy Digestion Smoothie
This is a Vegan smoothie that is gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, oil-free, refined sugar-free, and soy-free. This smoothie combines the power of many digestion-friendly and immune-boosting foods:
* Pineapple: Digestive and anti-inflammatory benefits, immune support. One cup gives you 105% of your daily Vitamin C requirements. You can use frozen pineapple chunks in smoothies to save time.
*Fresh ginger: Soothes the intestinal tract and helps with digestion. Awesome for all kinds of gastrointestinal relief, such as morning sickness. Anti-inflammatory and immune boosting.
*Fresh parsley: Rich in vitamins K, C, A, folate, and antioxidants. It’s a natural diuretic which can help release water retention. Opt for flat-leaf parsley as it’s less bitter than curly parsley. Cilantro would be a nice swap here too!
*Avocado: Major anti-inflammatory benefits + heart-healthy fats. High in fiber which aids with digestion.
*Banana: Rich in B6, manganese, Vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. Interesting to note – while bananas are high in sugar, they have a low glycemic index score which means that they won’t spike blood sugar levels. It’s soothing to the digestive track and thought to regulate the bowels and enhance friendly gut bacteria.
*Lemon: Rich in vitamin C. Aids digestion and helps flush out toxins.
Source: The World’s Healthiest Foods

Ingredients:
1 heaping cup frozen pineapple chunks
1/2 large frozen banana
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup coconut water
1/4 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons avocado
1 teaspoon packed fresh grated ginger
lemon or lime slice, for garnish

Directions:
*Add all ingredients into a blender and blend on the highest speed until super smooth.
Tips:
*try to add a handful of baby spinach or kale to boost the nutrient power even more
*fresh mint also gives this smoothie a nice digestion boost (not to mention a delicious minty flavor
Note:
This smoothie also keeps well overnight. You can make a double batch and save the leftovers in a mason jar in the fridge overnight, and enjoy it the next morning.
Yields 2 1/4 cups

May 2017

This month I am sharing my all time favorite recipe! When I was a young girl, I remember going along with my dad on the 6 hour drive to my grandma’s house. As I climbed the stairs I could smell them cooking, I couldn’t wait. As I stepped into her kitchen, there they were waiting for me and my dad to eat, homemade pierogis!
My grandma taught me how to make these time consuming dumplings, but the time is well worth it. I have passed down this recipe to my daughters. And, a tradition of mine is to make a bunch of them for my dad on his birthday.

Pierogis: Potato & Onion
Dough Ingredients:
7 cups flour
2 cups warm water
4 eggs
½ tsp salt
2T cooking oil

Directions:
Mix flour and salt in a large bowl
Make a well in the center of the flour
Crack eggs in a separate bowl and beat well
Add water and oil to eggs and mix
Pour liquid mixture into the flour well
Using your hands, mix the dough until it forms a nice ball of dough
Place dough on a well-floured counter and knead for a couple of minutes

Filling
Onions:
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2T butter

Directions:
Melt butter in a saucepan
Add onions and cook on medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes
Set aside

Potatoes:
5pound bag of potatoes; peeled and coarsely chopped
½ tsp salt

Directions:
Place prepared potatoes in a large pot
Cover with water and add salt
Cook on high heat and bring to a boil
Reduce heat to low and cover
Cook for 15 – 20 minutes, until fork tender
Drain and mash, do not add milk
Stir in the cooked onions

Making the pierogis:
Divide dough into 4 pieces, making it easier to work with
Place on a lightly floured surface
Roll dough out to 1/8 thickness
Cut with a floured 3-inch biscuit cutter
Place about 2 teaspoons of filling in the center of the circles
Fold, seal, and pinch the edges together
Repeat with dough and filling

Cooking Instructions:
Bring a Dutch oven of water to a boil over high heat, add pierogis in batches
Reduce heat to a gentle simmer; cook for 1-2 minutes or until pierogis float to the top
Remove with a slotted spoon
You can eat them this way, with a bit of melted butter poured on them

Or after boiling:
In a large skillet, saute four - six pierogis and extra onions (if desired) in butter until pierogis are lightly browned and heated through

Yields: 50 - 60 pierogis
Filling Variations: sauerkraut, ground meat, and cheese
Toppings: melted butter, onions, and/or sour cream

Freeze Option: Place cooled pierogis on waxed paper-lined baking pan
Freeze until firm, then transfer to resealable plastic freezer bags
freeze up to 3 months
Take out when desired, thaw out, and use saute method to cook

June 2017

I have a friend who enjoys eating Risotto, and many different types. So, I thought I give it a try. I found out that there are in fact quite a variety of Risotto recipes out there. So, I experimented with some, and came up with the recipe below. I hope you like it!

Lemony Shrimp Risotto
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 large clove garlic, smashed, peeled, chopped
1 cup Arborio rice (about 6 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus extra as needed
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
Zest of 1 large lemon
3 cups arugula

Directions:
*Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat
*Add the shrimp and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Cook until the shrimp are just opaque in the center, about 3 minutes
*Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the shrimp and juices to a bowl to cool
*Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil to the pan
*Add the onions. Cook until tender, about 4 minutes
*Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, 30 seconds
*Add the rice and stir until well coated and translucent in spots, about 2 minutes
*Add the wine, cook until the wine is absorbed, stirring often, about 2 minutes
*Add the broth, lemon juice, zest, and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper
*Increase the heat and bring to a boil, stirring often
*Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the rice is just tender but still has some bite, and the risotto is creamy, stirring often, 13 to 14 minutes
*Mix in the arugula, and stir until the arugula wilts, about 30 seconds
*Add the shrimp. Mix in additional broth if needed, 1/4 cup at a time, until the risotto is creamy
*Spoon the risotto into 4 shallow soup bowls and serve!

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis, with some adaptations.

July 2017

I had the pleasure of going deep sea fishing with my dad and daughter last month. It was a beautiful day for fishing. We all caught fish, but I caught the most with 1 bass, 1 sea robin, and 14 flounders. The mate, nicknamed Elmo gave me this great recipe to make fish cakes, And I thought why not share it with all of you! Enjoy.

Fish Cakes
Ingredients:
1 lb. boneless fish fillets (white fish such as; cod, haddock, flounder, etc)
2 Bay leaves
2/3 cup milk
½ cup water
3 large potatoes (peeled and coarsely cut)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Canola oil for frying

Directions:
Boil the potatoes until fork tender.
Drain well and mash.
Add parsley, onion, garlic, and lemon zest, mix well and set aside.
Add fish fillets and bay leaves to frying pan, pour in the milk and water. cover and bring to a boil.
Then lower the heat and simmer for 4 minutes.
Take off the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes to gently finish cooking the fish.
Lift the fish out of the milk with a slotted spoon and put on a plate to cool.
Drain off liquid from the fish, grind some pepper over it, then flake it into big chunks into the pan of potatoes.
Using your hands, gently lift the fish and potatoes together so they just mix. You'll only need a couple of turns, or the fish will break up too much. Let cool.
Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl, lightly flour a board, and spread bread crumbs on a baking sheet.
With floured hands, form the fish/potato mixture in to cakes, like hamburger patties.
One by one, sit each cake into the beaten eggs and brush all over, including the sides.
Next, sit each cake onto the bread crumbs, turning it over to coat, and cover the sides.
Transfer to a plate, cover, and chill for at least 30 minutes. This can be done a day ahead.
Heat oil in large frying pan.
Fry the fish cakes over medium heat for about five minutes on each side, or until crisp and golden brown.
Serve with tartar sauce and lemon wedges if desired.

August 2017

When you have a craving for something sweet and you don’t have a lot of time, or don’t want to make an entire cake or batch of brownies, why not make a mug cake for one, in minutes? Here are two mug cake recipes for you to try. My kids like the first one, and I like the second one. Enjoy!

One Minute Chocolate Peanut Butter Mug Cake
Moist chocolate cake with a peanut butter center bakes up in a microwave mug in just one minute! The liquid batter rises and bakes into a rich, gooey chocolate cake with a molten peanut butter center.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and baking powder until thoroughly combined with no streaks of flour or cocoa powder remaining.
2. Blend in milk, butter, and vanilla until batter is smooth.
3. Pour batter into a 14-ounce (or larger) microwave-safe mug with straight sides.
4. Combine peanut butter and chocolate chips and dollop into the center of the mug, gently pressing down until even with the top of the batter.
5. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before serving.

Notes
A tall, cylindrical mug with straight (not angled) sides will ensure that the cake bakes evenly. I found a 14-ounce mug to be the perfect size to allow the cake to rise while baking without overflowing. (I filled my mug to the top with water and then transferred the water to a measuring cup to determine its capacity.) If you use a smaller mug, you may want to bake the cake on top of a plate or paper towel to catch any possible overflow.

The strength of individual microwaves can vary. The first time you make this recipe, be prepared to experiment a bit to make sure that 1 minute is the perfect length of baking time. The nice thing about this cake is that even if it is undercooked, you don't have to worry about raw eggs!

As an alternative to serving straight out of the mug, you may instead spray the mug with non-stick cooking spray before adding the batter, and then carefully overturn the cake onto a plate once baked.

Lemon Cloud Mug Cake
This lemon mug cake is so light, it’s like eating a cloud. It has just the right amount of lemon flavor and is paired with an airy whipped cream frosting and lemon peel curls

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fat-free milk
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

Directions:
1. Combine all cake ingredients except lemon zest in an oversized microwave-safe mug. Mix with a small whisk until batter is smooth.
2. Add lemon zest and mix until batter is smooth.
3. Cook in microwave for about 1 minute. If cake is not done, heat an additional 15 seconds.
Let cake cool a few minutes before eating. Cake is best consumed while still warm or within a few hours of it being cooked.

Frosting: Serves two (optional)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon peel curls or lemon zest

Directions:
Place the whipping cream and sugar in a mixing bowl of a stand mixer and mix on high speed until peaks form. Top cake with whipped cream and lemon peels. Cake is best consumed while still warm or within a few hours of being cooked.

Notes:
The frosting recipe makes enough for 2 because it is very hard to whip heavy cream for only one serving. You can save the rest, eat it, or make 2 cakes instead of one.

This mug cake will generally not rise to the rim of an oversized mug after it is finished cooking. Because microwaves vary greatly, I recommend using an oversized mug on your first try to avoid it bubbling over in the microwave. If it seems like your cake doesn't rise too high when cooking in the microwave, you can always switch out for a smaller mug if you want your cake to have the overflowing look. You can also 1.5 times the recipe as well for the bigger mugs, but it may be a bit much for one person.

September 2017

Readers, I have a request for you. I would love to get recipes from all over the world to share with others. If you have a favorite recipe, one that has been passed down through the ages, or one that is predominant to your area and culture I would love to try it out and publish in future editions. Please send your recipe, with any background to my email address above, and thanks!

Enchiladas rojas
Ingredients:
1 4ounce can green chilies, finely chopped
6 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped,
½ cup onions, diced
½ tsp garlic, finely chopped (I like more)
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp cilantro, finely chopped
½ tsp sugar
Pinch of salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
5 Tbs olive oil
2 eggs
1 cup cream OR half-and-half
6 chorizo sausages, skinned and chopped, OR3/4 lb. spiced pork, chicken or turkey sausage, skinned and chopped
1 cup mixture of Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese, shredded
12 tortillas
1/2 cup green onions, chopped

Directions
To make the sauce:
Mix chilies, tomatoes, onion, garlic, cumin, cilantro, sugar, salt, and pepper
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan
Add the mixture to the pan, and cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently
Remove from heat, and let cool down for a few minutes
In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the cream or half-and-half until well blended
Slowly pour the egg and cream into the pan with the sauce, stirring constantly
Cover and set aside

For the meat:
In another frying pan, fry the sausage meat over moderate heat for 5 minutes or so, until lightly browned
With a slotted spoon, remove the sausage from the skillet and drain on paper towels. Discard the fat from the frying pan
Place the sausage in a small bowl and stir in three tablespoons of sauce and ½ cup of the cheeses
Heat the oven to 350ºF

For the tortillas:
In a heavy frying pan, fry the tortillas, one at a time, in very hot olive oil as follows
Dip a tortilla in the tomato sauce
Fry for a minute on each side and remove to a warming plate
Place about ¼ cup of sausage mixture in the center of each tortilla
Roll up the tortilla with the filling inside

Baking:
Place tortillas in a baking dish, seam side down
Pour the rest of the tomato sauce over them
Sprinkle the top with the green onions and the remaining ½ cup of cheeses
Bake for about 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the top has browned lightly

Optional:
If you like beans, as I do, add 1 can of your favorite beans (rinsed and drained well) to the sausage when almost done cooking
You can also add black or green olives at the same point
Serve with Spanish rice (recipe in April 2016 issue)

THE END