I bought three pounds of fresh prunes.
I’ve never bought a single fresh prune, let alone three pounds of them.
What was I thinking?
Well, I was thinking “What a deal, three pounds of prunes for only $7!”
At Costco, among the pallets of 50-pound bags of dog food and cases of toilet paper bigger than my bathroom, three pounds of prunes and $7 purchases seem like nothing … until the cashier tells me the total sum of all my “little” purchases and I try to find room in my crisper, already filled with a 10-pound bag of organic carrots, for the case of prunes.
Technically, I think they are plums, Italian Prune Plums. They taste and look a lot like plums, just a little more tart. Jackson and I enjoyed snacking on them fresh out of the over-stuffed crisper drawer for awhile. I put them on a pizza, with caramalized onions, vegan applewood sausage, walnuts, spinach, broccoli, and grapes. Prune pizza, who knew it would taste like a little slice of sweet and savory heaven?
One night, I chopped them up and threw them in pot on the stove while I heated up some of another impulse Costco purchase, a huge box of spring rolls. Can you see I have a problem? Anyway, the prune plums reduced into this gorgeous sweet red sauce. With a dash of spicy chili paste, it made the perfect dip for a spring roll. Though I could eat egg rolls and pizza every night, I probably shouldn’t. So, I needed a recipe that would really make a dent in my prune inventory without putting unsightly dents on my thighs. Last night, I made the prune plum sauce again and served it with buttery roasted vegetables and tofu over brown rice. All the flavors were rich and deep and the colors were so beautiful.
I’m almost out of prunes now and I’m tempted to buy three more pounds.
Buttery Tofu and Vegetables with Spicy Plum Sauce
Buttery Tofu and Veggies
- 2 slices of tofu, lightly pressed with paper towel to absorb extra water
- 1 c. Cabbage sliced into thin long strips
- 1 c. Carrots, cut into thin long strips
- 1/2 c. Onions, sliced into thin long strips
- 1 c. Brussel sprouts, sliced in half
- 1 T. Earth Balance or prefered butter
- 1 T. Olive Oil
- 1 T. Braggs Amino Acid (or Low Sodium Soy Sauce)
- 1 t. Agave + a extra drizzle for tofu
- 1 t. Kosher Salt
- 1 t. Fresh Cracked Pepper
- sprinkle of dried parsley, optional for color
Spicy Prune Plum Sauce
- 2 c. Italian prune plums (or any variety of plums), chopped into small chunks
- 1 t. Chinese chili paste
- 1 t. Agave
- 1/4 t. salt
Serve with brown rice.
Buttery Veggies and Tofu
Preheat oven to 400. (My oven has a convection roast setting that works nicely for this, but you certainly don’t need it). Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray and spread out sliced veggies and tofu. Mix butter, oil, Bragg’s, agave, salt and pepper, and use a pastry brush to lightly coat the veggies and tofu. Drizzle tofu with a little extra agave and a pinch of parsley for color. Cook vegetables and tofu, stirring veggies after about 10 minutes. Roast until the carrots, onions, and cabbage are soft and the Brussel sprouts are golden brown, 20-30 minutes total.
Chop plums into small dices, heat on medium heat for five minutes, stirring often. Add agave, chili paste, and salt. Continue to cook and stir for about five more minutes or until the plums turn into a beautiful red chunky sauce. Delicious with a bite of buttery flaky tofu or with fried spring rolls.
My sister and my nieces, Whitney and Tori, age 9 and 11, are here this weekend and we are enjoying them so much! The youngest one, Whitney, is quite the food connoisseur, and has made me feel like the best cook on the planet with her over-the-top compliments. She describes the food on the end of her fork as one would describe a fine wine, “I can taste the layers of flavor! The hint of coconut, the tang of pineapple…”
As soon as she arrived from Texas she asked if we could make my sweet n’ spicy meatloaf again, together. She remembered it from three years ago, when they last came to Colorado! We did, and she said she loved squashing the meat and the seasonings together with her bare hands. When she took a bite of the cooked finished meatloaf she raised her hands, rolled her eyes heavenward and exclaimed, “This is even better than I dreamed it would be!”
Yesterday, I let the girls paint pictures outside under our tree and beach umbrella, and then made them each virgin cocktails. (Cranberry Sprite, OJ and slices of lemon, lime and orange on ice.) Whitney took one sip and said, “This is delicious! In fact, it is as good as meatloaf!” I wonder how many bartenders have had compliments like that. “This Long Island Tea is as tasty as meatloaf!” Gotta love kids.
With such an appreciative food critic in the house, it really spurred me on to bring out my inner chef. This is a very simple Asian salad that packs a powerful burst of flavor with very few ingredients, one the whole family loved! The key is the salt. Be sure to use sea salt, the best you can find. McCormicks now has a sea salt grinder, where you can grind fresh flakes of sea salt on to your food. It is quite good! You will be amazed how good fresh sea salt can be and the “layers of flavor” that come from using the finer, gourmet versions of it. This dish combines the smooth, richness of avocado with the crisp crunch of cucumber, the warmth of sesame oil and sesame seeds, and that final touch of freshly flaked sea salt. So easy, but so gourmet at the same time. I guarantee you, it is even as good as meatloaf!
Avocado Cucumber Sesame Salad
Serves two to three
1 ripe but still firm avocado, cut in bite sized pieces (we like a lot of avocado, so I sometimes double the avocado in this recipe)
1/2 English cucumber (or regular cucumber with seeds removed , but peel left on) cut in bite sized pieces
1 t. fresh lime juice
1 T. sesame oil
1 t. sesame seeds (toasted, white or black seeds –black seeds are actually quite pretty, but I did not have them on hand)
fresh sea salt to taste
Gently coat the sliced avocado and cucumber in a bowl with lime juice, pinch sugar, sesame oil and seeds. Sprinkle generously with sea salt. Serve in a low-rimmed edge blow or plate.
(Becky, the Mama.)
“Now, that’s a good meatball,” my husband said as he took a bite of these amazingly moist Asian meatballs.
Quick. Name the scene and the movie that came to my mind in that moment.
If you guessed the scene with Rosie and the meatballs from The Wedding Singer, well, you get this free recipe for meatballs in your inbox today!
And if you didn’t guess correctly, you not only get the recipe free, but here’s the dialogue from the movie that left me smiling.
Adam Sandler is teaching a darling little old lady singing lessons, so she can sing to her husband on their 50th wedding anniversary. As he turns to leave after the lessons Rosie says, “But your payment!” And Adam Sandler’s character Robbie says, “My payment. Can I get it to go?”
Rosie calls from the kitchen, emerging with a sauce pan. “You’re such a sweet boy…letting an old woman pay you with meatballs.”
Robbie dismisses her protest. “They taste so good, it’s like I’m ripping you off.”
“I don’t have any clean Tupperware.”
“All right, definitely next time.”
“Don’t be silly. Now hold out your hands.”
He obeys and she plops a giant messy meatball in each of his hands and encourages him to taste one on the spot. He sweetly obliges, in spite of the awkwardness and takes a bite, then looks up at her and smiles. “That’s a good meatball.”
Let me tell you, the recipe for these meatballs are so good you’ll have people begging to eat them out of their hands!
They are made from ground turkey, so it is a surprise how moist and savory they taste. The sauce is just to die for: thick and rich, sticky with hoison sauce balanced by the tang of lime and vinegar and chopped green onions. Serve over rice with assorted chopped veggies and you’ve got a one bowl wonder.
Unless, that is you prefer to skip the fork and bowls, and eat them with your hands, Wedding Singer style.
Sweet n’ Savory Asian Meatballs
Preheat over to 400 degrees.
Ingredients for Meatballs:
1 lb to 1.25 lb ground turkey
3 peeled cloves garlic
1/4 red onion
1/2 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 T. sesame oil
1 T. olive oil
1 1/2 pieces soft fresh bread, torn into small pieces
1 inch square, fresh peeled ginger
Directions for Meatballs:
Put all ingredients into food processor and process the above into a thick meatloaf like mixture. Add more oil or a little water if needed to keep the processor moving. Roll and pat this mixture into 1 1/2 inch meatballs. Mixture will be a little sticky so you may want to grease your hands with a little olive oil, to help the process. (They don’t have to be perfectly round either… ) Don’t worry, the meatballs firm up beautifully, but also stay moist, when cooked. )
Bake uncovered 400 degrees in an oblong Pyrex pan that has been sprinkled with olive oil, turning periodically, and baking until the meatballs are golden on the outside and cooked on the inside about 20 minutes. If they are cooked through but not browned, run them under the broiler to get the outsides nice and brown and crispy!
Ingredients for Sauce:
2/3 c. bottled hoison sauce
1/4 white or rice vinegar
1 grated garlic clove
1 t. grated fresh ginger
1 T. soy sauce
Juice from 1/2 fresh lime
1 T. sesame seeds
2 T. chopped green onion
Directions for Sauce and Putting it All Together:
Put first 5 ingredients into a big sauce pan, and simmer for about a minute, until good and hot. Add juice from lime and then, gently put cooked meatballs in sauce and cover them all with sauce, heating until the meatballs are nice and hot.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped green onion. .Serve over rice (jasmine is our favorite) with any steamed or sautéed vegetables that you like. (May also garnish with chopped peanuts and cilantro and additional lime or hot sauce, if you like.)
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