Figgy Meat

This original recipe is the result of making a very nice recipe a few weeks ago, something with ground beef seasoned and made into meatballs, and then a sauce that – and this is all I remember for sure – included chopped figs and balsamic vinegar, simmered & reduced.  I don’t remember what else was in the fig-vinegar dressing/glaze, and I decided afterwards that making meatballs was an unnecessary step when cooking for one person, but I did like the flavor combination.

Then this weekend, I impulse-bought some more figs at the store, but when I got home, I couldn’t find/recall the recipe I used.

So I decided to improvise!  It turned out pretty well, in my opinion, so I want to keep some sort of record of what I did… but I was improvising, which meant I didn’t measure anything.  Soooo…. here we are, at this probably-not-very-helpful recipe.

  • some figs (I had about 10 oz)
  • balsamic vinegar
  • brown sugar
  • rosemary
  • ginger
  • mustard
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • handful finely chopped onions

Prepare figs – cut off the tip, then quarter vertically.  Cut each quarter in half or in thirds, depending on size.

In small saucepan, combine fig chunks and balsamic vinegar.  I emptied out what was left of my bottle, then added a little water until the figs were mostly submerged.  I would estimate 1/3 or 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar and 1/4 c. water.  Bring to a (very) low boil, then reduce heat and let simmer.

Add about Tbs brown sugar, Tbs rosemary, 1 or 2 tsp ginger, 1 or 2 tsp mustard, and any other spices you think would be complimentary.  Stir well, mashing the fig pieces slightly (they should be pretty soft after coming to a boil, but you don’t want to pulverize them, just mush), and leave at low heat.

In preferred pan (I always use a certain skillet when browning a pound of ground beef), begin cooking ground beef.  Stir in a handful of finely chopped onion and salt & pepper to taste.  (Feel free to incorporate other veggies that you need to use up; bell pepper was a nice inclusion, for example.)

By the time the meat is nearly finished cooking, the fig sauce should have reduced somewhat.  Empty fig-vinegar sauce into beef; stir well.

Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, or until sauce is reduced as much as you’d like.

…so you end up with, basically, just flavored ground beef – but it’s fantastically flavored ground beef!  I put a serving of it on salad, or serve with sautéed zucchini & carrots, or anything else that’s handy.  ¡Fantastico!


Mango, Macadamia, Avocado Salad

The source recipe calls for arugula, but I find it has a weird aftertaste, so I always substitute the best lettuce I can find at the farmer’s market or, if I can’t make it to the FM that week, one of the “living lettuce” roots-still-attached lettuces at the regular store.

  • 5 c. lettuce, ripped
  • 1 large mango, cubed
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • (optional meat to make into a main dish – leftover cold chicken, cubed; leftover ground turkey, crumbled and refrigerated; leftover bacon, if such a thing exists; cold deli meat, ripped into bite-size pieces, etc.)
  • (optional ingredients – it’s a salad, you can get creative! Try pineapple tidbits, apple slices, golden raisins, other things you have on-hand…)
  • 3/4 c. roasted, lightly salted Macadamia nuts (if necessary, rub with paper towels to remove excess salt)
    • If you’re too cheap/lazy for Macadamia nuts, unsalted slivered almonds are the 2nd-best option

Combine all ingredients; toss with vinaigrette (below).

  • 2 rounded tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 rounded tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 Tbs fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 c. white wine
  • 1/4 to 1/3 c. olive oil (to preference; I can’t deal with a whole 1/3 cup in mine)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients; toss with salad (above).


Manjula’s (modified) Vegetable Curry

Manjula’s Kitchen is a cooking blog that actually has video explanations explaining how to cook Indian food (all vegetarian).  Unfortunately, I’m an enormous wimp about spicy food, and I loathe cilantro (and I don’t always have her suggested ingredients on hand), so I end up not trying a lot of her recipes because they would need too much alteration.  But this is one that I definitely want to try, so I’m recording my intended recipe here… I’ll update when I try it and see how it turns out.

  • 2 c. cauliflower florets
  • 1 c. green peas (frozen)
  • 1 carrot, sliced in 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 zucchini cut into bite size pieces (with skin)
  • 1/2 c. brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (quartered if sprouts are gigantic)
  • 5 firm medium tomatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 2 Tbs oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (preferably whole seed)
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 Tbs coriander
  • 1 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp sugar (adjust to taste)
  • 1 Tbs corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala

(Begin cooking rice in the background if you want.)

Mix cornstarch with 1/4 c. water and set aside.

Cut tomatoes into large chunks, then blend with ginger to make a puree.

Chunk onion into large bite-size pieces.  Prepare other vegetables as well.

Heat oil in large saucepan.  (If you have whole cumin seed, test the heat by dropping one seed in the oil, and if it cracks right away, the oil is ready.)

Add cumin seeds, garlic, and onion to oil.  Once onion has begun to caramelize, add tomato puree, coriander, turmeric, sugar, and salt.  Cover pot and cook for ~5 min.

Add all the vegetables and 1/4 c. water.  Cover the pan and let cook for ~10 minutes over medium heat.  Stir occasionally.  Vegetables should end up tender, not mushy.

Add cornstarch mixture and let cook for 2 more minutes.  (If mixture is now too thick, adjust by adding hot water.)

Turn off heat and add garam masala.  Stir and cover the pan for a few minutes before serving.



I made several changes to this, so if you like spice, mushrooms, or cilantro, you should definitely check out the original recipe:

Source –

Caribbean Sweet Potato Cakes

This recipe is marked “untested” but when I make it, I’m going to try adding onions to caramelize with the garlic, and try to squeeze some pineapple tidbits in there (well-drained) just to see what happens.  I will update…. eventually.

  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 2 c. mashed, cooked sweet potato (~2 medium potatoes)
  • 1/2 c. instant mashed potato flakes, plus more for dredging
  • 1/4 c. peanut oil, for frying

Chop garlic finely, then roast in butter while chopping the green onions.  Throw those in with the garlic, stir.  Remove from heat.

In bowl of stand mixer, combine cooked sweet potato, garlic, green onions, brown sugar, allspice, salt & pepper, and the 1/2 c. instant mashed potato flakes.  Blend thoroughly.

Heat large skillet over medium-low heat for a minute or two.  When pan is warm, add peanut oil.  Set up a plate lined with paper towels nearby.

Use a Tbs to scoop the dough, then drop it into a bowl containing about a 1/2″ deep layer of mashed potato flakes.

Roll to coat, then press into a round “pancake” ~1/4″ thick.

Place potato cake in pan, and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes.  Turn over and cook until other side is golden and crisp.

Transfer to platter to drain briefly.  Sprinkle lightly with salt if desired.  Serve immediately.

Source: the King Arthur Flour website…even though there’s no flour in this recipe… *shrug*


Almond Cloud Cookies

I love almonds!  Almond anything… raw almonds, almond slivers in my yogurt, almond milk, marzipan, amaretto, all of it.   So these cookies already look good to me, plus I realized they’re gluten-free, so I had to put them on here! 🙂

  • 10 oz. almond paste (note: NOT the same as marzipan, which has more sugar added to it)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract (verify gluten-free)
  • 1/8 tsp “extra-strong bitter almond oil” (super-extra-strong almond extract… can I substitute more of regular-strength extract?)
    • if desired, exchange almond oil for orange or lemon extract for added zest
  • sugar for topping (“confectioner’s sugar” or “glazing sugar” recommended)
    • or 2/3 c. pine nuts – dip tops of unbaked cookies in the nuts, flatten them gently on the baking sheet, and cook normally
  • (optional) 1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 F.   Lightly grease, or line with parchment paper, two baking sheets.

In bowl of stand mixer, blend almond paste, sugar, and salt until mixture becomes slightly crumbly.

Add egg whites gradually, while mixing, to make a smooth paste.  (If including chocolate chips, fold them in now.)

Stir in the flavorings.

Scoop dough by heaping Tbs onto the prepared pans.

Sprinkle cookies heavily with sugar, then use three fingers to press an indentation into the center of each cookie.  (??? I’m not sure about the purpose or necessity of this step)
(Alternatively, dip tops of unbaked cookies in pine nuts, flatten them gently on the baking sheet, and cook normally… or could you use slivered almonds for this?)

Bake cookies 20-25 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges.  Remove from oven and allow to cool on pan.

Source: King Arthur Flour recipe –

Ginger Dressing

I was told, by the ever-reliable internet, that this is Benihana’s recipe, but I don’t actually know about that.  It takes a lot of ingredients, but it’s pretty easy to make if you have everything on hand.

  • 1/2 c. finely minced onion
  • 1/2 c. peanut oil
  • 1/3 c. rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbs water
  • 2 Tbs minced fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbs minced celery
  • 2 Tbs ketchup
  • 4 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Combine all ingredients in blender; blend on high for ~30 seconds, until all ginger is well-puréed.

Makes 1.75 cups.

Caramel Potatoes dot com

The signature dish from!  Go look at it and see if they have new good things. 🙂

  • 3 lbs red potatoes
  • 1 stick (real) butter
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 (small) red onion
  • 1.5 tsp dried rosemary
  • salt

Boil red potatoes with the skins on.  Allow to cool and then slice ~1/2″ thick rounds.

Thinly slice the onion on the mandolin.  Separately, crush the dried rosemary.

Melt stick of butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion slices and stir;  cook 10-12 minutes.  Add brown sugar and rosemary and a pinch of salt.  Continue cooking until the onions are translucent, ~10-15 minutes.

Add the potato slices; stir gently to coat and re-heat the potatoes.  Serve immediately.

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