Thursday, April 30, 2009

Veggie Stir Fry Sushi Rolls (yeah, no rice!)

Originally I had meant to create a stir fry over Pad Thai noodles (which I did), but then, wallah! This creation was born. I hope you enjoy as much as I did. Let me know if you try an alternative stir-fry center. I think some sliced steak would be delicious to add.

Printable Recipe

Healthy Factoids
is rich in iodine and iron and quite high in protein. It is also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, magnesium and riboflavin (B2).
Not only does it have all these nutritional riches, it is also a low-fat food.

No Rice, What?! I love sushi, but I don't like the amount of white sticky rice that comes with it. This recipe gives you a delicious, low-calorie way of eating sushi. Plus, whenever I think about making sushi I think it's going to be a big ordeal, taking out the rice step really makes this a quick-fix item. Really you can do any kind of vegetable and/or meat variety. This was just one example to show you how you can enjoy the benefits of Nori and sushi without all that rice!

Nori Sheets

Shallots or Small White Onion (I actually use dehydrated white onion)
Garlic, 2-4
Cloves sliced thin
Sweet Potatoes, cubed about 1/4"
Asparagus, broken into 1/2-1" pieces
Brussel Sprouts, quartered lengthwise (or halved if they are really tiny already)
Crimini Mushrooms, cubed about 1/4" (or Shitaki or other brown mushroom)
Cabbage, sliced thin lengthwise; feather-sliced (I used a small ruffly head - will update the name when I go back to the store. Any green will do though)
Lacinato kale, sliced small, about 1/2"

White Cooking Wine
Olive Oil for frying
Sea Salt

Toasted Sesame Seeds (I did a white/black mix)
Mung Bean Sprouts

Sushi grade Soy Sauce (or Tamari Sauce... any sushi sauce of your choice)

Special Items to help you out:
Sushi [Bamboo] Roller
Chop Sticks

Stir fry your filling (Start with the hardest vegetables first). I suggest the following order...
  1. Heat a splash of Olive Oil in your skillet. Add the Onion and Garlic Slices and saute until golden.
  2. Add Sweet Potatoes, Asparagus and Brussel Sprouts (only add the Asparagus if you are using a thick variety, if thin, wait until you add thinner vegetables).
  3. Toss these veggies with the sauteed Onion and Garlic. Add a splash of the White Cooking Wine, Cover and let it infuse/steam. Cook these until almost tender.
  4. Add the quick cooking veggies now; Crimini Mushrooms, Cabbage and Lacinato Kale. Continue to toss and cook everything until desirable doneness. I like all my veggies to be a little Al Dent.
  5. Add a sprinkle of Sea Salt to taste

  • Boil Some water in a kettle or a soup pot (you will only need it to be 1-2" deep). turn off after boiling if using a pot or pour into a dish almost as big as your Nori sheets.
  • Take your Nori sheets and either very lightly-quickly dip them into the hot water. You can try to steam them or dip quickly. Just don't let the sheet SIT in the hot water.
  • Make sure the sheet is not dripping wet, lay it out on your Sushi Roller like you would for regular Sushi making.
  • Place a generous amount of stir fry near the top end (closest to you).
  • Sprinkle Sesame Seeds and add a small amount of fresh Mung Beans on top of the stir fry filling.
  • Roll it like regular sushi rolling. It should go pretty easy as the wet Nori should adhere a bit to itself. Keep the roll tight as you don't have the advantage of using sticky rice for extra 'stick'.
  • Slice and Serve. I dipped mine in the Sushi Soy Sauce and then in the Sesame Seeds and it was just divine. Adding a little Wasabe to the soy sauce would have been yummy too.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Quick Fix Rice Noodle Soup

Are you a fan of Top Ramen? I am. I LOVE IT! Unfortunately, it is not a Gluten Free product. There are many alternatives though. What I like about Ramen is it that it's quick, easy and tasty (I am a fan of the saltyness).

I am working tonight. Around 2am I became hungry, as I do every night I work. My body is awake, burning more calories than if I was sleeping. My body and brain need fuel to keep pluging along. Unfortunately, I usually go grab something quick which results in toast or some kind of crunchy-munchy like crackers. Both not very good snacks, I I have changed that habit lately with deciding to be Gluten-Free / Wheat-Free.

I almost broke down and ate something with gluten/wheat in it! Bad. Because I couldn't find something quick and quiet to prepare. I didn't want to wake everyone with cooking, which is also time-consuming. Fortunately for me I found a treasure in the back of my pantry. Over a year ago I had bought these instant rice noodle bowls from Trader Joes on a visit to Eugene (OR). Sadly, the noodle bowls although flavorful, really only consist of just that, flavor and skinny rice noodles - which are not super filling.

To spruce up my noodle bowl and make it look more like the enticing photo on the packaging, I added some brown mushrooms (Crimini) and some Lacinato Kale. I decided to use a real, bigger bowl so that I didn't overflow the plastic bowl that came with the package.

It's a little high on the sodim (700mg) but the ingredients are clean.

Noodles: Rice Noodles
Season Mix: Sugar, Salt, Mushroom Powder, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Garlic Powder, Spring Onion Flake, Pepper, Fried Garlic Flavor.
Dried Vegetable Packet: Mushroom Flake, Cabbage Flake.
Oil Sachet: Rice Bran Oil, Garlic

note: Reading about the Autolyzed Yeast Extract seems to bring up some interesting information deriving from Monosodium glutamate (which is unhealthy by many standards). And seeminly to make this a non-gluten free meal, but I'm not sure how a big a deal it is for me as I am just looking to get away from the "bready" gluten/wheat at this point. Those with Celiac Disease would want to use caution.

I didn't say this was a super healthy alternative, just a super quick grab meal. It was pretty delicious..

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Craving Crepes

Breakfast is the first meal of the day and it always seem to revolve around bread. Who doesn't like something tasty in the morning. A bowl of cereal is quick and convenient, but our usual pick is mostly comprised of flour and sugar. Pancakes are wonderful, but they're just a yummy pillow of bread! So today, I made a fruit smoothie combo'd with some excellent Gluten Free Crepes. This was a complete experiment from the original recipe out of my Cooking Light Complete Cookbook: A Fresh New Way to Cook (Basic Crepes, page #150). I love this tabbed version of the Cooking Light cookbook series and this is an excellent quick and easy book to use.

Printable Recipe

Basic Crepes (Gluten Free/ Dairy Free)

1 Cup Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour
1 Tablespoon Light Agave Syrup (or 1 T. Sugar)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 Cups Soy Milk (soy milk, Milk or even water works fine)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Cooking Spray

  1. Combine dry ingredients (flour, salt and sugar if you used it). Stir with a whisk.
  2. Combine wet ingredients (milk/water, eggs and agave syrup). Beat the egg before adding the other wet ingredients. Stir with a whisk.
  3. Add wet ingredient to the dry while stirring with a whisk to avoid getting lumps. Stir until smooth (do not beat).
  4. The original recipe says to cover the batter and let it chill in the fridge for 15 minutes, I did not do this and they turned out fine.

  • Heat an 8-inch non-stick pan over medium-high heat. I use an old non-stick, nothing special and they turn out fine.
  • I use a 1/2 Cup measuring cup and fill it about half full (easier than using 1/4 Cup for sloppy purposes).
  • When the pan is heated enough, pour the measured batter in the center of the pan like making pancakes.
  • Immediately swirl and tilt the pan around so that your batter reaches all the edges, it's okay if it doesn't turn out perfectly round, but keep in mind you are NOT making pancakes, they need to be thin.
  • Keep in mind that your first crepe of any batch will probably be crap. Use this one to figure your heat adjustment, swirling motions and batter thickness. I usually heat the pan on med-high and then cook the rest on med-low heat or adjust to what works with your stove-top. I have a gas top range so mine probably heats hotter than electric.
  • Keep your crepes warm in between a folded towel or do like me and use a tortilla warmer (Styrofoam, 10-inch, lidded container you can find in most Mexican food sections at your local grocery store).


Instead of sprinkling unhealthy powdered sugar over your crepes, use agave syrup and some fresh fruit. I used some frozen blueberries (which thaw almost instantly). Crepes can also be eaten with other fillings such as sauteed mushrooms and asparagus or other veggies and meat combos. Eat them for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner by altering the ingredients and/or even removing the sugar as it isn't a necessary step. I am going to try them as a sort of burrito in place of a tortilla shell.

Blend the batter in a blender to reduce lumps.
Definitely use a spatula (the floppy, scrap-the-bowl kind) to turn these suckers. This makes the biggest difference in the entire world of flipping a crepe. Trust me on this one. The floppier the better.
Lift up around the edges delicately to get the crepe released from the pan before attempting to flip a crepe.
Definitely spray the pan between each new crepe.
Add different herbs to make savory rather than sweet crepes.
FREEZE FOR CONVENIENCE - Make extra so that you have some quick grab-and-go breakfasts. Freeze by layering each crepe individually between wax paper (freeze for up to 2 months).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I know this isn't something I actually made, but it was an exciting find for me.

My son has had three ear infections since December, and subsequently was put on 10-day antibiotic cycles each time. The side effect of this is that it depletes the amount of "good" bacteria in his intestines. This bacteria comes in the form of live and active cultures in yogurt and is what gives yogurt its distinct taste. So, I needed to feed him yogurt to help build up the good bacteria. The problem with the yogurts I was finding were the high amount of sugar and unrecognizable ingredients.

I found YoBaby at Grocery Outlet for $1.50 per six-pack! It turns out to be the best deal around. I checked at Food 4 Less and it was something like $4.50 per six-pack. You can buy it in different flavors aside from plain if you so desire. YoBaby is made with whole milk, has only 3-4 ingredients and they are all things I am familiar with.
In this picture I mashed up bananas and mixed them in the yogurt. I have also used homemade jam to sweeten it up a little bit.

Alex loves it! And I feel better because it is so healthy for him.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What About Kale

I was first introduced to Kale by my friend, Christine Lynch of Live and Eat Better Holistic Health. This is her business, she is a holistic health counselor. She has tried to convince me over the years that kale is one of the best greens you can get and that I should ingest it daily. Well over the past year and a half I have made every effort to do just this and keep wasting at least 75% of what I purchase. I have tried it in stir fry, steam and sprinkle a bit of salt, put it in soups, hide it in a salad, you name it and I just can't stand it.

So until recently, I thought that I have finally written off kale. Deciding that it's just not for me. But then my mom discovered Lacinato Kale in the organic area at our grocery store of choice (Sherm's Food 4 Less) so I gave it a shot. It is quite a different thing than the average regular variety I had been buying.


Lacinato is also commonly referred to as Dinosaur Kale. It has a very thick, almost leathery feeling yet when cooked (like in the soup I just posted: Garbanzo Rice-Noodle Soup) it has such a nice bite and taste. Be careful not to overcook any type of green like this or you will never like it. Consider cooking it sort of like "al dente". It's almost what I would call, "meaty". The common variety, from what I can tell is only referred to as "Kale", just has no flavor and I disdain it's thin, rough frilly texture.

Try either or, but I felt I should post this because my experience with Kale made me think I would never like it when there are actually different varieties. With it being such a healthy green to have in my diet I wanted to like it.

Our store carries the generic Kale in the regular produce area and then 2-3 different varieties in the organic area. Price is pretty comparable too and in smaller bunches sometimes which is nice if you are the only one in the house that's going to eat it.

Let me know if you try it or both and tell me what you think of the difference.

Wikipedia Nutrition Facts

Cooking Light: Heirloom Beans

Why are time-honored varieties of beans finding fresh flavor in home kitchens? "I think heirlooms taste better,"says Steve Sando, whoese Ranco Gordo in Napa, California, grows and sells nearly 30 varieties of distinctive beans. "Runner beans tend to be buttery. Christmas limas have a distinct chestnut taste, and the bean broth is beefy. Some types are like potatoes in texture; others are creamy. They are not bred for uniform growth, uniform size, or disease resistance. They've been saved [from extinction] because they taste good."

What's more, Sando says his and other growers' methods are god for the soil. "The beans are initially cleaned right in the fields by the combines, and the pods go back into the soil as green manure," he says.

Rancho Gordo Blog

(This article was taken from the March 2009 edition of my Cooking Light magazine. pg 100.)

Garbonzo Rice Noodle Soup

This is a really easy recipe my mom and I made up. You can make it in about 30 minutes if you own a pressure cooker. If not, you can use canned Garbonzo Beans or do it the long way and cook stove top or in the slow cooker (crock pot).

Printable Version on my Google Docs

Garbanzo Rice-Noodle Soup

Gluten Free Noodle Soup
Flavor: Mild Asian base


6-8 Cups Water (I suggest 8 especially if you are doing 2 Cups Beans. The Noodles seem to soak up a lot of the water as well as the cooking of the beans do)
2 Cubes Vegetable Bouillon like Rapunzel (this bouillon has the most amazing flavor. You can use chicken broth or any vegetable broth you prefer too)
1-2 Cups Garbanzo Beans (or 1 can) (our Garbanzo Beans were from Rancho Gordo of course!)

1/4-1/2 Package Pad Thai Rice noodles (or as much as you want)
1 Cup Quartered Baby Bellas (Costco carries these), Shitaki, Crimini or some sort of small-medium Brown-Top Mushroom (You can also use dehydrated versions. I originally used dehydrated Shitaki.)
2-3 Cups Lacinato or Dinosaur Kale

1/4 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper (or to your desire of "heat")
2-3 cloves Minced Garlic
1 Tablespoon Dehydrated, Minced White Onion (alternative: use a few shallots or one small onion)
1/8 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

Garnish with either chopped fresh Parsley, Cilantro or Thai Basil


  1. Combine Beans, Water and Bouillon and cook in the Pressure Cooker About 30 minutes or until the beans are done.
  2. Add the Rice Noodles using the pressure cooker pot is fine (1/4 - 1/2 package to your liking. Keep in mind they will soak up water and expand).
  3. Add the Mushrooms, Kale and all the seasonings and let it sit covered for about 10 minutes.
  4. We didn't find the need to add any salt to this version, but your bouillon might be different or alternative ingredients so add at the very last after tasting if you must add any.


Crock Pot: If you are doing this in the Crock Pot, just add everything together with the exception of the noodles, kale and garnish. Cook for 3hrs on HIGH and check the beans for tenderness/doneness. When they are done, add the noodles and kale, turn off the cooker and let it sit for 10 minutes. Add your garnish to the servings.

Stove Top: If you are using canned beans, add 1-2 cans (drained/rinsed) to 6-8 Cups water in a pot on the stove. Add everything with the exception of the noodles, kale and garnish. You never want to actually COOK rice noodles, you will kill their texture and they will turn to mush. Bring your pot to a boil, turn down and simmer for 10 minutes to infuse the flavors, turn off the heat, add the noodles and kale and let it sit for 10 minutes. Add your garnish to the servings.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Simple Greenhouse

I've been getting some requests on how I built my simple greenhouse.
Since this is where a lot of the vegies come from for my cooking I decided
to show some pics.
Cost: $60.oo for 3 4X16 feet cattle panels ($20.00 each)
$8.00 for plastic
Bend the cattle panels in half and wire together. Voila! Greenhouse!
I can grow year round here in my zone 8 garden with this simple invention.

I like to recycle when I can. I used old drawers from a dresser.
Cinder blocks from my brothers house found randomly outside.
Planters from my mom's house. I made the dirt with compost bought
at a local farm that makes it for $18.00 a yard, perlite, and peat moss.
We just finished eating the overwintered pac choi, spinach, and kale.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Serendipity Doo-Da Design

Hey everyone. I will slowly evolve Serendipity Kitchens into a fun custom design. I also have some recipes and cooking to include, but I have been swamped with work through MollyBean (check out my newest site design-in-progress). I have some great ideas for the blog design that I am really excited about.

We would like to add anyone in the fam that wants to post about what's going on in their food world so don't be shy, if you would like to be an author, please let us know.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What Does Grape Juice and Cream of Tartar Have In Common?

Have you ever wondered what the beautiful crystal that forms in the bottom of
homemade grape juice is?

Potassium bitartrate, also known as potassium hydrogen tartrate, has formula KC4H5O6. It is a byproduct of winemaking. In cooking it is known as cream of tartar. It is the potassium acid salt of tartaric acid.

In food

In food, potassium bitartrate is used for:

A similar acid salt, sodium acid pyrophosphate, is confused with cream of tartar due to their similar function in baking powder.

[edit]Household use

Can be used with white vinegar to make a paste-like cleaning agent. It is a common ingredient in Playdoh and gingerbread house icing.

(This concoction is sometimes mistakenly made with vinegar and sodium bicarbonate, which actually react to neutralise each other, creating carbon dioxide and salty water, plus any excess amount of either substance.)

You Can Read All About it HERE

Here's a RECIPE using Cream of Tartar:

Baking Powder Biscuits:

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

4 teasp. baking pwd.

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar

1 Tbl. sugar

1/2 cup shortening

2/3 cup milk (buttermilk is divine, water also works for dairy free)

Sift the dry ing together in a large bowl.

Mix shortening in with fingers until well blended into coarse crumbs.

Add the milk.

Stir until the dough just comes together. DO NOT BEAT! Be GENTLE.

Turn onto a lightly floured board. Gently knead a little turning dough over.

Roll out 1/2 inch thick.

Cut with biscuit cutters, cookie cutters, lids, whatever.

Bake on parchment paper or ungreased cookie sheet.

Oven 450

10-15 min

These Biscuits are DIVINE! So soft and delectable.

Now don't you feel smarter?