Have Camera, Will Travel.

A travel photo journal.

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Location: Wassenberg, NRW, Germany

Photographer, mommy, wife, and friend. Visit my photo blog at http://www.photosparks.com/blog

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fried or Baked Sweet Potatoes Fries

Sounds weird right? It's very delicious though! I can't offer you exact measurements but I can give you some ideas and tips.

Wash, peel and, cut up the sweet potatoes into steak fry sized pieces. I used a cutting board and a large chopping knife for this because these taters are tougher to slice holding them in your hand. Dangerous too.

If baking, line a pan with foil, place your fries in a bowl and coat with your choice of oil and seasoning. I've used taco seasoning, seasoning salt, garlic salt, or salt and cinnamon. Bake on 350 til done.

If pan frying, put a good amount of oil in your pan and cook as normal fries. Season them afterward with your choice of seasonings.

These fries are not going to get crispy like regular ones. (If you cook them til the edges start burning, they'll get a little crispy there.) Good luck and bon appetite!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Salty Cake" (Breakfast or Brunch cake)

I'm not really sure if that if a good title for this recipe... It's another Turkish recipe and it was prepared for my by my friend Hulya. These measurements might need a bit of adjusting as well since she measures ingredients with her drinking glasses =) That's the Turkish way though!

I think this is great as a snack or to prepare the day before for a 'to-go breakfast the next day.

1 leek
1 carrot
1 potato
1/2 -3/4 c ground or chopped meat (turkey sausage, beef, pepperoni, turkey bacon, etc.)

Wash, peal, and chop into fingertip sized bits, mix together with with about 1 tsp of salt, and set aside.

3 eggs
3/4 c milk
3/4 c canola or sunflower oil
1 tsp salt
1 1/2- 2 c flour

Mix together and add just enough of the flour to make it like cake batter. The first time I made it I think I had too much flour then I had to compensate with more milk.. lost a bit of the flavor that way I believe..

Blend with a mixer for a couple of min. then add the raw, chopped veggies by spoon. Pour batter into an oiled baking pan. Optional is to top it with sesame seeds (and/or black sesame seeds). Perhaps towards the end of the baking cycle, you could top with cheese instead.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees til done. I believe it was about 45 or 1 hr. I will time it better next time and update the blog with that info. A knife should come out clean from the middle and it should be lightly browned on top.

Notes: I didn't have leek so I used a small onion and I also added in some mushrooms. The meat that I used, and that is called for in the original recipe is a Turkish hard beef and garlic sausage called sucuk. (pronounced sue-jueck)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hello Dolly Bars

I have fond memories of my Grandma Sparks making these around the holidays. They are so tasty and make a great homemade gift. Sorry I'm posting this after Christmas! Maybe you can make them for Valentine's Day =)

1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers (about 8 graham crackers)
2 cups of chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups of shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups of chopped pecans
1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup of butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Melt the butter in a saucepan or place in your pan and place in the heating oven to melt.
Pour melted butter into an 11x7 or 8x8 cake pan.
Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs into pan, and mix well with melted butter to form a crust.
Layer on top of graham-cracker crust chocolate chips, coconut and pecans.
Evenly pour sweetened condensed milk over everything.
Bake in oven for 25 to 30 minutes, top should be light brown.
Let cool in pan for at least half an hour, cut into bars and serve.

Some recipes use butterscotch and chocolate chips. You can also use walnuts or any other nut you like as well.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Çoban Salatası - Turkish Shepard's Salad

When we have visited our friends in Turkey, this salad was very common at the table. Many breakfasts are served with this salad, some fresh bread, and white goat cheese. It was very different from what we consider breakfast but what a great and healthy way to start the day!

The secret to this salad is to use the best, freshest, and ripest veggies.
  • 4 lg. tomatoes peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped ( 2 1/2 c)
  • 2 lg. cucumbers peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped (1 1/2 c)
  • 2 med. Italian green peppers seeded and coarsely chopped ( 3/4 c)
  • 1 small red onion diced ( 3/4 c)
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 Tab. chopped fresh mint leaves (optional)
  • 2 tsp. ground red pepper (optional)
  • Salt
  • 1/3 c EV olive oil
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
Put all the chopped veggies in a bowl then season with salt (to taste - I like mine with plenty) and drizzle with the olive oil and lemon juice. Toss well and refrigerate for at least 30 min.

I modify this by adding in some fresh ground pepper instead of the red pepper and use sweet onion instead of regular onion. I also don't normally put in the Italian peppers.

A tip for seeding the cucumber is to cut it in half lengthwise then take a fork and drag it through the middle a few times where the seeds are. It will loosen it up and then you can use your finger to scoop them out. I usually don't bother to peel my tomatoes and the last few times I've made the salad, I haven't even chopped up the veggies very much. I've just made wedges of the tomatoes and onions. The 'dressing' stays better when they're chopped though.

My first photo shows my 20 mo. old son stealing some from my bowl. He LOVES this stuff.

Cat's Spinach Sandwiches

Ok, there is more to these than just spinach but it's the star ingredient. I started eating these about 4 yrs ago and it's now my favorite lunch or bunch food.

Here are the ingredients I use:
  • Crusty rolls or bread (ex. German Brötchen, ciabatta, or french)
  • Old Gouda or a vintage cheddar
  • EV olive oil
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground or coarse ground pepper
  • fresh spinach
  • sweet onion (I'm a wimp so feel free to use regular or hot onions)
I layer on the cheese, then sliced onion, and top it with a huge handful of spinach. Don't be shy just pile it on! It squishes down and its very good for you. On the top side of the sandwich I drizzle on the olive oil then sprinkle on the salt and pepper. Coarse ground pepper is almost as good as fresh ground and it's sooo much better than regular ground pepper.

A mountain of spinach!


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Zucchini Rice Gratin

This is one of my FAVORITE recipes. I have a subscription to Gourmet Magazine and this was in one of their Spring issues. It's very tasty and usually I just serve another veggie and some crusty garlic bread to complete the meal. I modify the recipe by replacing the white rice with brown and upping it to 1 cup instead of 1/3.

Make sure to use regular PURE olive oil and not extra virgin. Regular olive oil is yellow while ev oil is darker and greenish. The reason is because ev olive oil has a low smoking point. This means if you heat it much over 200 degrees, the oil starts to break down losing it's nutritional value and can also be harmful to your health. ( http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=56)

Photograph by Romulo Yanes

Zucchini Rice Gratin

Serves 4 to 6
  • Active time:25 min
  • Start to finish:1 1/4 hr
  • 1/3 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 1/2 lb zucchini (about 3 medium), sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 lb plum tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
  • Preheat oven to 450°F with racks in upper and lower thirds.
  • Cook rice according to package instructions.
  • While rice cooks, toss zucchini with 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a shallow baking pan. Toss tomatoes with 1/2 tablespoon oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt in another baking pan.
  • Roast zucchini in upper third of oven and tomatoes in lower third, turning vegetables once halfway through roasting, until tender and light golden, about 10 minutes for tomatoes; 20 minutes for zucchini. Leave oven on.
  • Meanwhile, cook onion and garlic with 1/2 teaspoon salt in 2 tablespoons oil in a large heavy skillet, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Stir together onion mixture, cooked rice, eggs, thyme, 1/4 cup cheese, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Spread half of rice mixture in a shallow 2-quart baking dish, then top with half of zucchini. Spread remaining rice mixture over zucchini, then top with remaining zucchini. Top with tomatoes and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, then sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.
  • Bake in upper third of oven until set and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

For a nice garlic bread buy a fresh loaf of french or ciabatta bread. Slice and place on a baking sheet. Brown under the broiler until golden.

While the bread is in the oven, mix together 1/4 - 1/2 extra virgin olive oil and 1 garlic clove crushed with a garlic press. You can also mix in some fresh or dried rosemary. When the bread is finished, brush on the oil generously and then sprinkle with some sea salt.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Yummy Blueberries

We had the wonderful opportunity to go pick our own blueberries last week. I think we ended up with around 11 lbs! So far I've made 2 pies and some freezer jam. This week I will be making some muffins and probably more jam.

I wanted to share my jam recipe because it was too simple and very yummy. I wanted to make a lower sugar jam and replaced some sugar with xylitol.

Low Sugar Freezer Jam
  • 3 cups prepared fruit. (squished or chopped. I ran my berries through a couple of spins in the food processor)
  • 1/2 c. natural sugar
  • 1/2 c. xylitol
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 c. warm water
  • 1 envelope of cook-less jam pectin
Mix sugar, xylitol, and lemon juice with the fruit and let stand for 10-15 min., stirring occasionally. In a seperate bowl, slowly add the pectin to the warm water and stir until well blended. Add pectin to the fruit and stir for 3 minutes. Place jam into small jars or plastic containers. Refrigerate for 18-24 hrs before using. Can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. In the freezer up to a year!

I'd also love to share my blueberry pie recipe. The pie filling recipe came from Randy's grandmother Sisco-Shive. The crust is something I came up with from reading several different recipes.

Cat's Healthier Pie Crust
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 c. unbleached white flour
  • 2 Tab. natural sugar or xylitol
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 Tab organic unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 Tab. soy milk (can also use milk or buttermilk)
  • 1 Tab. lemon juice
Mix together the flours, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and work together with your hands or a pastry blender until coarse and crumbly. Add the vanilla, milk, and lemon juice and mix slowly with your fingertips until the dough forms into a ball and it's no longer sticky. Add a bit more flour if necessary. Refrigerate about 20 min while you prepare the filling. Roll the dough out onto a well floured surface.

Double this recipe if you need a top crust or are making 2 pies.

Grandma Sisco's Blueberry Pie
  • 4 c. fresh blueberries
  • 3/4 c. natural sugar
  • 3 Tab. unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tab butter (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees then line a 9 in' pie plate with pastry. Combine berries with sugar, flour, salt, and zest. Stir until berries are well coated. Pour into the pie shell and sprinkle with lemon juice. Dot with butter and place top crust over the pie. Make a few slits in the top crust with a knife. Bake pie for 30 min and let pie cool a bit and 'set up' before serving.