Monday, October 3, 2011

Zuppa Toscano Soup

For those of you that follow The Pioneer Woman Cooks, I swear I did not steal her idea. I have been thinking and working on this recipe for a couple weeks. It just so happens that today was the day I planned to  make and post the final recipe. So no stealing here....I promise.

I take a mentally handicapped woman out to lunch every couple of weeks. Her favorite place to go? The Olive Garden. I don't love the OG....except for their soup, salad and breadsticks. I always get Zuppa Toscano, a delicious brothy/creamy spicy soup with Italian sausage, kale and potatoes. I usually have several bowls....nom.nom.nom....

My version is gluten and dairy free. I added a little non-hydrogenated butter substitute to give some of the rich flavor you would normally get from the cream or half and half. The result is a near-perfect copy of the OG's...a delicious, satisfying soup that the whole family will love.

Zuppa Toscano Soup (Sausage, Kale and Potato) - GF, DF
Serves 6-8

1 bunch kale (I used a combination of purple curly and Dinosaur), stems removed, washed and torn into bite-size pieces
5 medium red potatoes, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 lb spicy GF Italian Sausage (turkey sausage could be used)
4 cups almond milk (or regular dairy milk)
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup butter substitute (I used Earth Balance)
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Prepare kale and set aside. Boil the potatoes until tender, 15-20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. In a large dutch oven or pot heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and saute an additional 30 seconds.

3. Add the sausage and brown, breaking up the larger pieces (drain off fat, if desired). Add the milk, broth, butter, red pepper and smoked paprika. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Add the potatoes and kale. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Camping and Gluten Free Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler - GF, DF

I went camping with my family a couple weeks ago. I love camping and spending time in nature. I always feel so comfortable and peaceful as I spend time in God's beautiful creations. We spent the first night in Targhee National Forest (the backside of the Tetons). It was beautiful...the mosquitoes were not! They were murderous. We didn't spend much time outside because of them. I got a few bites on my face that swelled up huge!

We then spent a few night in Grand Teton National Park. Those mountains are so majestic! Our campground was right on Jackson Lake so we spent a lot of time there swimming and kayaking. It was heavenly. The perfect vacation!

Jackson Lake

Teton Mountains at Sunset

Kayaking on Jackson Lake

It's a tradition to make dutch oven cobblers when we camp, and I wanted to attempt another gluten free cobbler. I have been trying for a couple years to make a good gluten free Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler. I have failed many times, but this last time was a huge success! I had been trying to do it like we do our gluten-ful cobbler; dump the peaches in, sprinkle the tapioca pearls, then the dry cake mix, sprinkle with brown sugar and then dot with butter pats. This makes an incredible gluten-ful cobbler, but the gluten free one was always too grainy. The flours/cake mix never cooks or gets crispy like it should, it just stays dry and grainy.

This time I decided to make a wet batter and drop it on top. I chose a sweet biscuit-type topping instead of a cake. It turned out perfectly! So, so delicious. My dad and aunt said they like it better than the gluten-ful one we usually make. That is what I call success! :)

(I apologize for the bad quality of the photo. It was very dark!)

Gluten-free Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler
Serves 8-10 (12-14" dutch oven)

2 large (or 4 small) cans peaches in pear juice, quartered
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca pearls
1 cup gluten free flour blend (I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose)
2 TB coconut palm sugar (you can use brown sugar if you want)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup milk/dairy replacement
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1/2 cup cold butter/butter replacement, cut into small cubes

1. Pour one can of peaches with juice into the dutch oven. Drain the other can of peaches. Discard the juice and add the peaches to the dutch oven. Sprinkle the tapioca pearls over the peaches.

2. In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine. Whisk in the milk. Pour/drop this batter over the peaches. Sprinkle the sugar over the batter and then dot with butter. Cook with coals/briquettes on top and bottom for 25-30 minutes, or until the batter is set and golden brown on top. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. :)

*This recipe is linked to Gluten Free Wednesdays.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thai Red Curry Chicken- GF, DF

I have still been in a food funk lately. I haven't felt very creative...maybe it's the heat. :/ The other night I invited some of my siblings over for dinner. I was going to make Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta, my favorite recipe from The Pioneer Woman. Then I remembered that my sister had been craving Thai Red Curry for about a week. Our favorite local Thai restaurant is closed for several weeks and she has been going crazy. :)

So I decided to make Thai Red Curry, but I wanted it to be as authentic as possible. We have made red curry before that wasn't very good. I discovered a few things; a good, high quality red curry paste and using fresh Thai herbs makes all the difference...and if it's quick and easy red curry it won't be all that authentic or all that good.

This recipe takes about an hour from start to finish, but it is completely worth it. We all ate WAY more than we should have and were stuffed! It is some of the best Thai Red Curry I have had.

(Picture to follow. I need to make it again! :) )

Thai Red Curry Chicken
Serves 6

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1" cubes
3 cups chicken broth/stock
2-3 TB red curry paste (I used this one, purchased at Whole Foods. I have used Thai Kitchen brand before, it doesn't even remotely compare)
3 cans full-fat coconut milk (I like Thai Kitchen best)
3 TB coconut palm sugar (or 1 1/2 TB jaggery)
3 1/2 tsp fish sauce
1 large (or two small) red bell pepper, cored, seeds removed and cut into 1/4" slices
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4" sticks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 can bamboo shoots
2 large Kaffir lime leaves, use the end of a knife to pound the leaves to "bruise" them
1 cup fresh Thai basil, leaves and a few buds, discard stems
1 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

1 lb Thai Brown Basmati Rice, cooked

1. Bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the chicken and par-boil for 1-2 minutes. Remove the chicken from the stock and set aside. Reserve the chicken stock for later.

2. In a large pot combine 1 cup of the coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce and sugar. Whisk to combine well. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it becomes a thick paste. Add a couple tablespoons of the reserved chicken broth and reduce again for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid it sticking to the bottom and burning.

3. Add the remaining coconut milk and a 1/2 cup of the chicken broth. Bring back to a boil and then add the par-boiled chicken. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the red pepper, zucchini, carrots, bamboo shoots and lime leaves. Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are tender, but still slightly crisp. Remove the lime leaves and discard.

4. Remove from heat and stir in the Thai basil and cilantro. Serve immediately over Thai Brown Basmati Rice.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cherry Compote

I apologize that I don't have a picture for this recipe, but I have been sitting on it for awhile. I keep meaning to make it again so that I could snap a few pics....I figured since it is cherry season I better just get it on the blog! :)

This is great with grilled chicken or pork, and weird as it sound I think it would even be delicious on vanilla ice cream. I'll have to try that next! :) I even eat it straight out of the pot. It really is yummy!

Cherry Compote

2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 cup diced shallots or red onion, very finely diced
1 cup cherries, halved and pitted
1/3 cup concord grape juice
2 TB red-wine vinegar
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1. Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for 3 minutes, just until soft. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Cook until liquids have reduced by half and the cherries are soft, about 10 minutes.

Variation: Cherry Basil Compote - Add 1 TB fresh chopped basil when you add the cherries.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Peach Gobbler - GF, DF

I know I have been absent for a few weeks. I am still doing the Eat Fat, Lose Fat Diet. Things have been interesting. :) The first two weeks my weight basically stayed the same, but when I did a body composition test at the end of those two weeks I had lost 2.8% body fat!!! Yahoo!!!! The next week I decided to try adding dairy back in.....bad idea. I didn't weigh myself until the end of the week and I had gained 5 pounds. Obviously I cannot do dairy! For the last week and a half I have been slowly losing that 5 pounds.

I still have not done a lot of experimenting with adapting the recipe from EFLF. That is why I haven't posted many recipes...but don't worry, I'll get there. :) I have a few in the works.

I know that peaches aren't necessarily in season right now, but I bought some ripe ones at the store yesterday and decided to make something that has been on my mind since my sister mentioned it the other day. Peach Cobbler. Yummy, warm, peach cobbler. The only way I have ever had peach cobbler is in a dutch oven when we camp.....which is the best way to enjoy it. However, this is also pretty darn good! :0)

Peach Cobbler - Gluten and Dairy Free
Serves 6-8

6 Peaches, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup raw honey (or coconut palm sugar)
4 TB chia seeds (optional)
1 TB vanilla extract

1 cup gluten free flour blend (I used Bob's Red Mill)
2 TB coconut palm sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
3 TB non-hydrogenated butter replacement (I used Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl combine the filling ingredients and toss to coat the peaches. Pour into a prepared 8 x 8 dish. Set aside.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine. Cut in the butter until a course crumb forms. Add the milk and mix with a fork until just combined. Do not overmix.

3. Drop the dough by the spoonful on top of the peaches. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or Whipped Cream.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Blueberry Kefir Soda

Bear with me for a moment for a very technical, possibly boring, lesson. Don't worry, I'll get to the good stuff (the recipe) at the end! :)

A bit part of the Eat Fat, Lose Fat diet is repairing your gut and replenishing the friendly bacteria. Today most people take probiotic supplements containing these healthy bacteria for the digestive tract. Traditional cultures did not take probiotics. They obtained these healthy bacteria from lacto-fermented foods such sauerkraut and other pickled vegetables and fruits. Sauerkraut is familiar to most of us. Cabbage is pounded and mixed with salt to encourage the growth of lactobacilli, a bacteria that produces lactic acid, which also acts as a preservative. Fermented dairy products, such as yogurt and kefir (a sour, fermented milk beverage), and other lacto-fermented beverages, also act as probiotics. In addition to these awesome probiotics, fermented foods and beverages also have loads of enzymes, a higher vitamin content and minerals that are more readily absorbed.

In the Health and Recovery phase of the Eat Fat, Lose Fat diet (and strongly encouraged in the Quick and Easy Weight Loss phases) you drink three lacto-fermented drinks per day. Soaking grains is one way of making lacto-fermented beverages. Some traditional cultures used (and still use) soaked corn or sorghum. A popular modern-day soaked grain lacto-fermented drink is called Rejuvelac, which is made by soaking wheat. If you can tolerate wheat and gluten, this could be a great option for you.

Another method of making these healthy beverages is using kefir grains. Kefir grains are a not a "grain" like wheat or barley, but a grain, as in a grain of salt. These grains contain lactic acid bacteria and yeast, and when placed in a liquid at room temperature for a period of 12-48 hours create healthy lacto-fermented beverages. The grains use naturally occurring sugars in the liquids to feed off. Kefir grains cannot be produced from scratch, you will need to obtain grains from someone. If properly cared for, the grains last indefinitely and will grow, allowing you to share your grains with others. I will post Resources link where you can purchase your own grains at the end of this post.

There are two types of kefir grains; milk and water. As their name infers, milk kefir grains are used in milk. Traditionally cow or goat milk was used, but coconut and other nut milks can also be used. Water kefir grains are used in water (added sweetener needed), coconut water, or fruit juices.

My very happy, multiplying water kefir grains!

The finished product is a tart, effervescent liquid that can be used in so many ways. Milk kefir thickens and is the consistency of a thin yogurt, but with far more probiotics and health benefits than regular yogurt. I have been using my milk grains in coconut milk and my water grains in coconut water. They all seem very happy and are growing like crazy.

Okay, enough of this...let's get to the recipe. One of my favorite ways to enjoy kefir is using coconut milk kefir to make a smoothie in the morning. So addicting! No worries, recipes will be coming soon. :) My second favorite way to enjoy kefir is with Kefir Soda. This soda is a healthy alternative to the deadly (in my opinion) sugar/artificial sweetener, caffeine, carbonation laden sodas that most children and adults live off of. I had some fresh blueberries just begging to be used, so I threw them into some coconut water kefir and let it ferment for another 24 hours and....Tada! Blueberry Kefir Soda. It tastes very similar to IZZE Natural Soda. It is refreshing, delicious and sooooo very healthy.

See the bubbly soda goodness?!
*This recipe is linked to Simply Lives Thursday and Pennywise Platter Thursday.

Blueberry Kefir Soda
Makes approx. 2 quarts

Note: This recipe takes 2 days and requires some special equipment

Special Equipment:

- Glass soda bottles with wire-held caps (you can use mason jars with lids, it just won't be as bubbly)
- Non-metal strainer with small holes (wire mesh small)
- Plastic funnel


2 quarts coconut water or filtered water (if using water only, also add the 1/2 cup sugar from below instead of adding it with the blueberries)
3/4 cup water kefir grains

2 cups fresh blueberries, mashed with a fork
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar, Rapadura, or Sucanat


1. Place the grains in a large glass container and pour the coconut water over the them. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave at room temperature for 24 hours. Strain the liquid using a non-metal strainer into a large glass container, reserving the kefir grains to start another batch.

2. Using a funnel pour the water kefir into the soda bottle(s). Next add the blueberries and sugar. Close cap and shake the bottle a few times. Leave at room temperature for 24 hours, shaking occasionally.

3. Place the bottle inside a large mixing bowl (the overflow catcher). Place a clean washcloth over the bottle and open the cap. CAUTION: Contents under pressure WILL explode. (I learned this the hard way. I had blueberry soda all over my kitchen.) Once the craziness has settled strain the liquid into a medium bowl and discard the blueberry pulp. Strain any liquid in the large overflow catcher mixing bowl into the medium bowl. Using a funnel pour the liquid back into the soda bottle(s). Serve immediately over ice or chilled for several hours. Store in refrigerator for several days.

Kefir Grains Resources

I ordered my grains from:
Organic Raw Milk Kefir Grains from One Great Place @ Etsy
Organic Water Kefir Grains from Keysands @ Etsy

Other sources:
Cultures For Health (if you sign up for their free newsletter you get a free Kefir Recipe e-book)
Kefir Lady

Friday, June 3, 2011

Eat Fat, Lose Fat - A Few Changes Coming

I have been a little absent the last week. I have been busy studying and preparing to do a new diet. If you have read my About Me page you know that I have lost a lot of weight over the last 2 1/2 years. It has been wonderful and has changed my life. Not only do I weigh less, but I am healthier and happier. Before I lost this weight and changed my diet I am certain I was pre-diabetic. I was so unhealthy and toxic. I ate out at least once a day, usually twice. I have come a long way since then. I still have 20-30 lbs to lose and in spite of all the changes I have made to eat healthier, I still have some health issues that haven't completely resolved.  I feel like I am 80% of the way to optimal health and I REALLY want to be at 100%. I still have hormone imbalances and have recently developed a rash on my hands and arms. I believe the rash is connected to a gluten and dairy allergy, but it could just as well be a simple inflammatory reaction as well.

As I started thinking about the different diets, cleanses and fasts I could do, I kept thinking about Eat Fat, Lose Fat. I have had the book for a couple of years, but have never incorporated any of the principles. This book has one of the most comprehensive explanation of good fats and why they are essential for optimal health. It also addresses the failed no fat/low fat diet, and debunks the theory that saturated fats are bad for you.

There are three "diets" in Eat Fat, Lose Fat:

1. Quick and Easy Weight Loss
2. Health Recovery
3. Everyday Gourmet (Maintenance)

It is not only about weight loss, but rebuilding the organs and healing at a cellular level. They call it a "diet" but it is far from the usual calorie restricted, deprivation diets. In Phase 1 of the Quick and Easy Weight Loss program you eat 2500 calories a day and in Phase 2 you eat deprivation or starvation there! :) It is a high fat, moderate carb diet using real, traditional foods. The majority of the fats comes from coconut; coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut flakes, etc. Coconut oil in particular has been proven to increase your metabolism and provide satiation. Hence this diet calls for eating coconut oil 20 minutes before each meal. The traditional foods help heal organs, provide essential nutrients and repair the digestive system.

I don't know if this diet will work for me. I know that every body is different and what works for one person may not work for another. Regardless of whether you do the diet outlined in this book, I recommend that you get the book and incorporate as many things are possible into your current lifestyle. I have already started taking the coconut oil before each meal and have noticed that I have been much more satisfied after my meals. In fact, I have to force myself to eat sometimes....and I have already lost a pound in a week.

You will be seeing a change in the recipes I post for the next month of so. I will be posting fewer desserts and more traditional food recipes, probably with a lot of coconut ingredients. I welcome any questions and will keep you updated on how things are progressing in this experiment!

Update 6/8/11: I have found the easiest way to get the coconut oil down before each meal is to add the coconut oil to 1/2 cup warm water and a little squeeze of lemon juice and then stir until the oil is melted. Then I drink it in a couple of gulps, stirring in between. With this method I have no problem's getting the coconut oil down.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Roasted Chile Hamburger with Chipotle Aoili

I  never post twice in one day, but I wanted to get this posted before the weekend. This hamburger is perfect for your holiday weekend. The inspiration came from a local place called Ruth's Diner. My sister ordered the Roasted Chile Hamburger. I sat there and watched as see ate and moaned and groaned about how it was the best burger she has ever had.

Later that night I decided to recreate it. My mom had bought some Udi's Gluten Free Hamburger Buns, so we were set! This really is the best burger I have ever had!

Roasted Chili Hamburger with Chipotle Aoili
Serves 4

You will need:
4 Hamburger Buns (I used Udi's GF Hamburger Buns
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup sliced roasted red peppers
1 can roasted green chiles
1 small purple onion, slices
1 large tomato, sliced
pickle slices
smoked gouda, optional
Chipotle Aoili, recipe follows

1. Prepare the Chipotle Aoili. Divide the ground beef into four patties. Season with salt and pepper. Prepare your favorite way; grill, bake, pan-fry, etc. Meanwhile in a small saucepan heat the green chiles over medium heat. Spread aoili over both sides of the bun. Assemble burgers and enjoy!

Chipotle Aoili
8 TB mayonnaise
4 garlic cloves, very finely minced
2 TB fresh lime juice
1 TB chopped cilantro
1/2 -3/4 tsp chipotle flakes
1/2 tsp cumin powder
salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine all ingredients and whisk until well combined. Set aside.

*This recipe is linked to Fresh Bites Friday and Allergy Friendly Friday.

Gingerbread Pudding - GF, DF

The other day I made a loaf of bread from Bob's Red Mill Wonderful GF Bread mix. I think I must have let it rise too long, it was huge! and misshapen. I made these tea sandwiches with it, so I had to cut off not only the crust, but a lot of the bread to make them square. I didn't want to waste all those scraps, so I saved them and made bread pudding last night

I don't know what got into me, but I made Gingerbread Pudding or Ginger Bread Pudding....or Gingerbread Bread Pudding. Ha! I am not quite sure how to title it. I know gingerbread is usually a holiday dessert, but it sounded good for some reason. :)

Gingerbread Pudding - Gluten and Dairy Free
Makes 1 - 8x8 pan

5 cups 1" cubed bread, best if left out to dry for 3-4 hours
2 cups coconut milk (about 1 1/4 cans)
2 whole eggs
5 egg yolks (Save the whites, I have a recipe coming soon using those!)
1 cup coconut palm sugar
1/4 cup molasses
3 tsp dried ginger
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp black pepper
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the bread in a 8 x 8 pan. In a medium bowl whisk the remaining ingredients until well combined. Pour over the bread and let sit for 10 minutes, pressing on the bread occasionally to help it soak up the custard.

2. Place the pan inside a larger one. Place on the middle rack of the oven. Fill the larger pan with 1" water. Tent the larger pan with aluminum foil with a few holes poked it it. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the custard has set. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Serve warm with whipped coconut cream, if desired. Most bread puddings are also good cold.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Radish Mint Tea Sandwiches - GF

When I found out that this month's Go Ahead Honey It's Gluten Free event was Garden Tea Parties I knew right away that I wanted to share this tea sandwich. It is not my recipe, and I do not know where the recipe originated, but I had to share it nonetheless.

I know it sounds strange. Radish and Mint Sandwiches?!? Let me tell you; you have never tasted anything so truly addictive. The refreshing mint and crisp radish, with just a little bite, and a fresh lemon mayonnaise.....oh man! I promise you cannot stop at just one.

Radish Mint Tea Sandwiches
Make 24 tea sandwiches

1 cup mayonnaise
1 TB freshly grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons coarse-grained mustard
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste

24 very thin slices gluten free bread (I made Bob's Red Mill bread mix, cut them into 1/2" slices and then rolled them to about 1/4" so the bread was a little more compacted)

1 cup mint leaves (from about 1 large bunch)
16 radishes, trimmed and sliced paper thin (a mandolin come in handy here)

1. In a small bowl stir together mayonnaise, zest, mustard, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

2. Spread bread generously with lemon mayonnaise. Top half of slices with a layer of mint and top mint with overlapping rows of radish. Top radish with remaining bread and press together gently (pictured open-faced for aesthetics purposes).

3. Trim crusts and cut sandwiches in half diagonally. Sandwiches may be made 2 hours ahead, wrapped in plastic wrap, and chilled.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Darkly Decadent Chocolate Pudding

I LOVE pudding! It has been quite awhile since the last time I had any, so I decided it was time to change that. This pudding is thick and rich and decadent....and only for the dark chocolate lover.

This recipe is gluten, egg and dairy free....and you would never know it!

*This recipe is linked to Slightly Indulgent TuesdayReal Food Wednesday, Gluten Free WednesdaysPennywise Platter Thursday and Real Food Weekly. Go check out the other yummy recipes!

Darkly Decadent Chocolate Pudding
Serves 4-6

2 1/2 cups milk/dairy alternative (I used almond milk)
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1/2 cup unsweetened cacao powder
1 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 TB vanilla extract

1. In a medium saucepan whisk together the milk, arrowroot, cacao powder, palm sugar and salt.

2. Place on a burner over medium heat. Bring to a slight boil. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

3. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour into individual bowls and cover with plastic wrap. Serve warm or refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Garnish with fresh raspberries, if desired.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Savory Spinach, Mushroom and Bacon Crepes - GF

This post took me awhile to get written because I have been distracted by all the beautiful birds outside my window. They must be migrating because in the last two days we have seen some amazing birds that we don't normally see.

By now you know I made a lot of crepe shells the other day. :) I decided I better make a savory recipe to use up the last of them. I have had too many sweet treats lately. The challenge was making a gluten and dairy free sauce. I think I succeeded beautifully. The tarragon and thyme in the sauce adds just the perfect flavor!

Savory Spinach, Mushroom and Bacon Crepes

8 Crepe Shells (I used THIS gluten and dairy free recipe)

8 slices of  bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
5 oz fresh spinach
8 oz mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

Cream Sauce
2 TB butter or non-hydrogenated alternative
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk/dairy alternative (if desired, you can use more to thin the sauce)
1/2 tsp tarragon
1/2 tsp thyme
sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
4 TB arrowroot powder or cornstarch powder

1. In a large skillet cook the bacon until just crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan, leaving the drippings. Set the bacon aside. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute an additional minute. Add the spinach and mushrooms and cook until tender. Lower heat to medium-low.

2. Meanwhile prepare the sauce. In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the broth, milk and spices. Whisk in the arrowroot and simmer until the sauce thickens. Taste and adjust seasonings to taste. Add half of the sauce to the vegetables and stir to combine. Return the rest of the sauce to the burner. Turn off the heat.

3. Lay a crepe shell on a plate. Spread 1/4 cup filling on one side of the crepe (not in the middle). Fold that side over, rolling the crepe. Drizzle some of the reserved sauce over the top and serve immediately.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Strawberry Ginger Rhubarb Crisp - GF

I know, I know. You have been seeing strawberry and rhubarb recipes all over the place. There is a reason for that. Strawberry + Rhubard = Yumminess. :) I did want to throw a little twist in there to make my recipe different, so I added some ginger. Perfection!

*This recipe is linked to Real Food Weekly, Simple Lives Thursday, Full Plate ThursdayAllergy Friendly Friday and Seasonal Sunday. Check out the awesome recipes others have shared.

Gluten Free Strawberry Ginger Rhubarb Crisp

2 cups strawberries, stemmed and cut into 1" pieces
1 cup rhubarb, cut half lengthwise, and then into 1" pieces
2 TB turbanado or coconut palm sugar
2 TB chia seeds + 2 TB water (optional)
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp fresh grated ginger

For the Topping:

1 cup pecan and walnuts, chopped
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (GF certified if needed)
1/2 cup coconut flour (almond, quinoa or oat flour would also work)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup turbanado or coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup melted butter or coconut oil
1/2 tsp sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl combine all the ingredients for the fruit filling. Toss until well combined. Place a greased 8 x 8 dish.

2. In a medium bowl combine the topping ingredients and stir until well combined. Spread over the fruit filling. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the fruit is tender and the top is brown. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Banana CocoNutella Crepes - GF

Almost three years ago I spent a month in Europe. One of the most amazing adventures of my life. Full of fun, education and good food! In England we have Pasties (oddly enough Curry Pasties are everywhere). In Switzerland we had Muesli. In Italy we had Pizza and Gelato. In Spain we had Paella. In Paris we had CREPES. I ate so many crepes....I couldn't stop. Sweet ones and savory didn't matter. They were all amazing! My favorite was the Banana Nutella crepe. And I do not care what anyone says, the Nutella in Europe is better than the one in the U.S. It doesn't even compare.

Yesterday I made THESE whole grain gluten free crepes by Cafe Janae. Last night I had them for dinner with berries, bananas and whipped coconut cream. Indescribable! Today I had a hankering for a Banana Nutella Crepe. Nutella is not very healthy, nor is it dairy free, so I had to make my own version.

I didn't have any hazelnuts, or any other nut that would get "creamy" enough. What to do....what to do? Then it hit me! I have been meaning to make my own coconut butter. This is different than coconut oil because it has all the "meat" from the coconut as well as the oil. I haven't ever tried coconut butter before, but everyone raves about it. They describe it as a spread, so I thought "Hey, that might just work for the base of my Nutella." It turned out amazing! I haven't had Nutella in awhile, so I can't really remember the exact taste, but with this new CocoNutella I won't even miss the real thing.

*This recipe is linked to Real Food WednesdayGluten-Free WednesdaysPennywise Platter Thursday and Allergy Friendly Friday. Go peek at the other yummy recipes and helpful info.

Banana CocoNutella Crepes

You will need:

-Batter for 8 Crepes (You can find the gluten and dairy free crepe recipe I used HERE. This recipe makes 8  8" crepes)
-CocoNutella Spread
-4 ripes bananas, sliced

1. Prepare the CocoNutella Spread. Recipe follows. Set aside.

2. Prepare the crepes. The batter is really runny, so don't worry. After you flip the crepe spread the CocoNutella on half of the crepe and place banana slices on top. Fold the crepe in half, over the spread and bananas, and then in half again. Remove to a plate and serve warm. If desired top with additional CocoNutella, bananas and Whipped Cream (recipes follow).

CocoNutella Spread
3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
6 TB unsweetened cacao powder
4-6 TB milk/dairy alternative
4 TB raw honey
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp sea salt

1. In a high-speed blender process the shredded coconut for 5 minutes, or until it becomes liquid and there are no detectable coconut shreds left. It should not be gritty, but a smooth liquid. Alternatively you can use a food processor, but you will need to process for 10 or more minutes. Be sure not to overheat your processor.

*At this point you have plain coconut butter. It will set up after about an hour. You can spread it on your toast, waffles, pancakes, etc. It does not need to be refrigerated. In fact if you do, it becomes too hard to use.

2. Add the cacao powder, honey, vanilla and salt. Turn the blender on and slowly add the milk until it reaches your desired consistency.  Store in the fridge for up to a week.

Note: This would also make a great fudge sauce or dipping chocolate.

Agave Sweetened Whipped Cream
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup raw agave
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Beat the cream at high speed until soft peaks form. Add the agave and vanilla and beat until soft peaks form.

Agave Sweetened Whipped Coconut Cream (Dairy Free)
1 can full fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon raw agave
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Refrigerate the can of coconut milk for 1 hour. Do not shake or jostle the can, you do not want the cream to mix with the milk. Open the can from the bottom. Pour off the liquid "milk" and then the cream will be at the bottom. Put the cream in a medium bowl or stand mixer bowl. Reserve the coconut milk to use in your smoothies or shakes.

2. Whip the coconut cream at high speed until soft peaks form. Add the agave and vanilla and whip until just combined. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dairy Free Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing (or Death by Salad Dressing)

On Sunday my family got together at my Grandma's house with my aunt and her family. My mom made carne asade so we could make our own salads or burritos. She had forgotten to buy/make some sort of Southwestern dressing so she asked if I had anything. I didn't, but I just happened to be soaking some cashews so I decided to make something. When soaked cashews are blended they make a creamy sauce. I decided to use this as my base for the dressing. I threw a bunch of things in my blender and made a delicious Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing.

As my Grandma's house everyone dug in and were chomping away when about 2 minutes later my cousin started having problems. He told his mom that something he ate he was allergic to. His face started turning red and his throat starting closing off. Well come to find out, he is allergic to cashews! That's right. I almost killed my cousin! No, not really. They had some medications and after about half an hour he was fine, but it was scary. From now on, I know that if I use cashews (or watermelon, come to find out) I will announce it to everyone!

Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing - Dairy Free
Makes 3 cups

3/4 cup raw cashews (not roasted), soaked in filtered water for at least 6 hours
1 cup cilantro, washed
1/2 cup nut or rice milk
1/2 avocado, peel removed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 jalapeno, stemmed and cut in half (if you do not like spicy you can remove the seeds and membrane)
3 TB fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
2 garlic cloves, skin removed

1. Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Avocado Energy Shake

When I was in college I had a few friends that served church missions in Brazil. They always talked about avocado shakes and how delicious they were. I always thought they were crazy. Avocados in a sweet shake? Insanity! They insisted it was delicious. You see, in Brazil avocados are really considered a fruit. They do not eat them in savory dishes, always sweet.

Fast forward 10 years to Oahu, Hawaii. My siblings and I are walking through Chinatown and I see a vendor selling avocado shakes. Well, now was the time to prove them wrong about avocado shakes. I ordered one Avocado Shake with Black Pearls (HUGE black tapioca pearls). After my first sip I was hooked! They are creamy, vanilla-ey, goodness. I tried a few times to replicate it while in Hawaii, but didn't have too much success. I could never get it quite right, probably because I wasn't using ice cream.

Well I am happy to say that I not only perfected it, but I made a healthy avocado shake. The egg adds protein and good fats. The avocado and coconut cream add more good fats. The chia seeds add more protein, Omega 3 fats, and a whole list of other things. Don't let the idea of an avocado shake keep you from trying it for 10 years like me!

Avocado Energy Shake
Serves 1

1 cup milk/dairy free alternative
1/2 perfectly ripe avocado (firm, but give slightly when pressed)
1-2 raw whole pastured eggs (or a scoop of protein powder)
1 TB coconut cream or milk
1 TB chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla extract
stevia to taste
3 ice cubes

1. Combine all ingredients except ice and blend until smooth and creamy. Add the ice and blend until ice is crushed and shake is thick.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Baked BBQ Chicken

Last week I made this Baked Chicken with Peppers from Saveur magazine. I highly recommend it. I thought that this baked chicken idea could be a starting point for many variations. My first variation experiment was a Baked BBQ Chicken. It was so good! I am not really a fan of BBQ either. :)

Baked BBQ Chicken

*Adapted from Saveur Magazine

4-6 bone-in chicken thighs

salt, pepper and smoked paprika to taste

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2" thick slices

2 cups BBQ Sauce (I made my own based loosely on this recipe)

1 cup chicken broth

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pat chicken dry using paper towels. Season liberally with salt, pepper and paprika. Heat oil on the stove in a 4-5 quart cast-iron dutch oven. Place chicken skin side down and cook until skin is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook an additional 5 minutes. Remove the chicken and put on a plate. Set aside.

2. Add the onions to the oil and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in the barbeque sauce. Let cook 1 minute. Add the chicken broth. Scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan and mix in. Place the chicken back in the pot and using a large spoon, spoon some of the BBQ sauce over the chicken. Place the dutch-oven, uncovered, in the preheated oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the chicken is browned and cooked through.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pear Ginger Cake - GF

Years ago I bought this little cookbook from the craft store for $2.99. It is Cookshelf Italian by Penny Stephens. It has a lot of amazing looking recipes in it. The only recipe I have tried is the Pear Ginger Cake, and that I have made 4-5 times. It is beyond words! After I started eating healthier and eating gluten free I stopped making it. About a year ago I tried making it gluten free. That was a failure. Now that I know more about gluten free baking I decided to give it another shot. The result? Fantabulous Pear Ginger Cake. It is so moist! The ginger is surprising, but oh so perfect with the sweet warm pears.

* This recipe is linked to Allergy Friendly Friday and Slightly Indulgent Tuesday. Check out the other amazing allergen friendly recipes.

Gluten Free Pear Ginger Cake
Adapted from Cookshelf Italian by Penny Stephens
Makes 1 - 8" round cake

3/4 C oat flour (you can grind your own from old-fashioned rolled oats)
1/2 C brown rice flour
1/4 C almond flour
1 C + 1 TB coconut palm sugar
3 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
12 TB + 2 TB butter, softened (or non-hydrogenated dairy free substitute such as Earth Balance)
3 eggs, beaten
1 lb pear (2-3 pears), peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl whisk together flours, 1 cup sugar, ginger and xanthan gum. In a separate bowl whisk 12 tablespoons butter and eggs until well combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until well combined.

2. Pour the batter into a greased 8" round cake pan. Arrange the pear slices over the batter in a circular patter. Sprinkle with remaining sugar and dot with the remaining butter. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Serve the cake warm with ice cream or whipped cream, if you wish.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Horchata (Mexican Rice Drink)

I wanted to post this morning so you could all try this delicious beverage, but my internet was not working until now!

Today is Cinco de Mayo, a holiday only celebrated in the U.S. They don’t even celebrate this holiday in Mexico! I think it is just an excuse for us Americans to eat lots of yummy Mexican food. I love Mexican food…everything Mexican is delicious, unless it has tamarind in it. I DO NOT like tamarind. My favorite Mexican beverage is Horchata. A rice and cinnamon drink. Every time I go to a Mexican restaurant I order Horchata; most of the time I am disappointed, but every now and then I find a really good Horchata. In honor of Cindo de Mayo I decided to make homemade Horchata. It is so easy, but does take some time. It is refreshing and soooo good.

*This recipe is linked to Real Food Weekly.

Homemade Horchata (Mexican Rice Drink)

1 cup uncooked brown rice

½ cup raw almonds

2 cinnamon sticks

4 cups filtered water

1 vanilla bean (or alternatively 1 tsp vanilla extract)

2-3 TB raw agave

1. In a high-speed blender grind the rice and almonds until they become a fine meal. Add the cinnamon sticks and blend until the cinnamon is broken until large chunks. Add the water and vanilla bean. Let this mixture sit for at least 5 hours, overnight if possible, shaking occasionally.

2. Remove the vanilla bean pod and blend for 4-5 minutes until well combined. Using 3 layers of soaked cheesecloth, or a tightly woven cotton cloth, strain the liquid into a pitcher. Stir in the agave. Serve chilled or over ice.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Polenta Skillet Pizza - GF

This was amazing! I have been craving pizza lately. The gluten free crust isn't a problem, there are some great GF ready-made crusts and recipes out there. It is the cheese that I couldn't figure out how to replace. I have tried several of the cheese alternatives out there and my tummy does not like them. I decided I would just need to create some sort of thick, creamy sauce instead. Remember the gigantic red pepper I roasted yesterday? I still have half of it left. I whipped it up into a flavorful, creamy "cheese" sauce. It does not taste like cheese, but it replaces that gooey, creamy texture.

You can use any topping you would like. I did zucchini, spinach and red onion.

*This recipe is linked to Fresh Bites Friday and Gluten-Free Wednesdays. Check out the other real food recipes.

Gluten Free, Dairy Free Polenta Skillet Pizza

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
1/2 cup roasted red peppers
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup filtered water
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes

1. Combine all ingredients in food processor. Using the S blade process until smooth. This may take 2-3 minutes, just let it run for awhile. Adjust seasoning to taste. Set aside.

Polenta Pizza Crust
1/2 cup fine corn meal/polenta
1/4 cup all-purpose flour/GF flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp basil
1 egg, beaten (or chia seed gel replacer, recipe follows)
1/2 cup water

2 TB extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add the wet ingredients and whisk until just combined.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 10 inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Pour the batter into the pan. Spread to edges and smooth with a spatula. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the bottom is just brown. Place the skillet in the hot oven and bake for 5 minutes.

3. Remove the skillet and spread half of the red pepper sauce on the crust. Top with raw vegetables and add remaining sauce. Bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the skillet and using a wide spatula remove the pizza. Cut and serve immediately.

Chia Seed Gel Egg Replacer
Equals 1 Egg

3 TB filtered water
1 TB chia seed meal (grind chia seeds in coffee or spice grinder)

1. Whisk the chia seed meal into the water. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until is becomes a gooey gel.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

This is how my morning went. I look in the fridge and see I a gigantic organic red bell pepper in my fridge that needs to be used. What should I do with it? Roasted red peppers are easy and delicious. I roast the pepper. Okay, now what should I do with the roasted red pepper? Hmm....soup sounds good. I have never made soup with roasted red peppers before, but how hard can it be? I throw a bunch of things in my VitaMix blender and heat it up. Voila! I have delicious Roasted Red Pepper Soup for lunch today.

I would do a few things differently next time, which I have written into the recipe.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Makes 2-3 servings

2 large organic red bell peppers
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup milk or dairy alternative
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
pinch red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

1. Turn the oven to broil. Adjust the rack 6-8 inches from the top of the oven. Cut the red peppers in half and remove the seeds. Place the peppers, cut side down, on a baking sheet and place under the broiler. Broil for 15-20 minutes until the skins are BLACK and the peppers are soft. Place the hot peppers in a paper bag, or a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Once the peppers are cool, use your fingers to peel the blackened skins. Set aside. This can be done a day ahead of time.

2. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes until the onions are translucent.

3. In the blender combine the peppers, onions, garlic, broth, milk, thyme and red pepper flakes. Blend until smooth and silky. Pour this mixture into a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. If the soup is too thick for your taste, add more broth. Taste and adjust seasonings to taste. Serve immediately.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Vegan Strawberry Glazed Pie - GF

I got a great deal on fresh organic strawberries the other day. I also got a bee in my bonnet to make a strawberry glazed pie. I haven't had a strawberry glazed pie in years, but they used to be one of my favorites!

Since I have started eating healthier, I try to avoid gelatin and starches. Most strawberry glazed pie recipes call for one or both. I recently bought some agar agar flakes which are a sea vegetable, which means it is also vegan. When heated with liquids and then cooled, it acts just like gelatin. I have been mulling over the idea of using this agar to make a strawberry glazed pie. The results? Success! It worked perfectly.

*This recipe is linked to Seasonal Sunday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, Allergy Friendly Friday and Fight Back Friday. Go check out the amazing round-up of recipes.

Vegan Gluten Free Strawberry Glazed Pie
Makes 1 - 9" pie

"Graham Cracker" Crust
1 1/2 cup macadamia nuts (any nut will work, but macadamias are delicious)
1 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3 tablespoons raw agave
3 tablespoons almond flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1. Combine all ingredients and process in the food processor with the S blade until it resembles a crumbly, but moist dough. Press into the bottom and on the sides of a 9" pie pan. Set aside.

6 cups fresh whole strawberries, hulled and halved
1 cup filtered water
2 tablespoons raw agave
1 teaspoon agar powder or ground flakes (can be found in asian markets or the asian section of the health food store)

1. Mash 1 cup of the strawberries. In a small saucepan combine the mashed strawberries, water, agave and agar. Bring to a slow boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove 1/4 cup of the strawberry mixture and pour into the prepared pie pan. Arrange the remaining fresh strawberries in the pie pan. Pour the remaining strawberry mixture over the strawberries. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve with fresh whipped cream or whipped coconut cream, recipes follow. Pie is best served the day it's made.

Agave Sweetened Whipped Cream
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup raw agave
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Beat the cream at high speed until soft peaks form. Add the agave and vanilla and beat until soft peaks form.

Agave Sweetened Whipped Coconut Cream (Dairy Free)
1 can full fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon raw agave
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Refrigerate the can of coconut milk for 1 hour. Do not shake or jostle the can, you do not want the cream to mix with the milk. Carefully open the can and using a spoon skim off the cream. You should be able to get about 1/2 a can of cream. Be careful not to get any of the coconut milk into the cream. Put the cream in a medium bowl or stand mixer bowl. Reserve the coconut milk to use in your smoothies or shakes.

2. Whip the coconut cream at high speed until soft peaks form. Add the agave and vanilla and whip until just combined. Serve immediately.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Raw Cake Pop Challenge - Strawberry Shortcake - GF

I recently saw a post at Vegan Culinary Crusade about a Raw Cake Pop Challenge. Raw and vegan cake pops...raw, as in none of the ingredients are heated above 105 degrees. Not raw as in taking uncooked cake batter and trying to form balls out of it. True raw foodies do not eat anything that is heated above 105 degrees, preserving the nutrients and enzymes that support proper digestion and a healthy immune system.

I was intrigued by this challenge! I use raw recipes a lot. I try to eat a good amount of my fruits and vegetables raw. I follow a lot of raw food bloggers because the recipes are healthy and nutritious. And the desserts...oh my, raw desserts are stupendous! Have you seen my recipe for Raw Pineapple "Custard" Pie? Pure heaven. How about the Raw Strawberry Lemon Cheesecake. Lovely.

So, on to the Raw Cake Pop Challenge. I wanted to do something original. Raw chocolate recipes are everywhere, I decided not to do chocolate. My first attempt was key lime was okay, but not top-notch quality. My second attempt was carrot cake...still not amazing. Then I got frustrated and tried a chocolate recipe. I could have made it work, but as I mentioned I really didn't want to do chocolate. So those became Raw Cacao Snack Balls. :)

I then decided to do one of my favorite desserts: Strawberry Shortcake. My first two creations were disastrous. They tasted good, but were too mushy. I almost gave up, but I had the "candy" coating perfected. I wanted it to have that snap of a real candy coating. I just had to try one more time. I started wishing that I had it already done...then it hit me! I had some left-over crust from the Raw Pineapple "Custard" Pie in the freezer. It is divine! I can just eat it plain. In fact, I think I will start making them into little dessert balls. :)

This was a challenge, no doubt about it, but I am so happy with the results. It tastes just like strawberry shortcake!

Update 4/30/11: These should be eaten the same day. They get too mushy the next day.

Raw Strawberry Shortcake Pops
Makes 16 Pops


1/2 cup macadamia nuts (any nut will do, but macadamia is my favorite)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 tablespoons raw agave
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon raw almond meal
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, cut into small chunks
16 lollipop sticks

1. Place all ingredients, minus the strawberries, in a food processor until it resembles a crumbly, but moist dough. Transfer dough to a bowl and with a spatula mix in the strawberries, being careful to not mash them. Form the dough into 2" balls. Push a lollipop stick into each ball, about half way in (If the dough is too soft, freeze for 15 minutes). Place the lollipops standing upright in a block of foam and freeze for 30 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the Candy Coating.

Candy Coating

4 oz raw cocoa butter, grated
2 1/2 tablespoons coconut cream (1 can of coconut milk will be needed)
1 1/2 tablespoons raw agave
1 vanilla pod
2 tablespoons finely grated raw red beet (optional, for color)

1. Place the grated cocoa butter in a small bowl. Place this bowl in a larger bowl with hot tap water in it, about half way up the small bowl. Occasionally stir the cocoa butter until melted, changing the cooling water, if necessary. Transfer the melted cocoa butter to a medium bowl.

2. Open a can of coconut milk, do not shake it. You will find a thick layer of cream on top. Skim off the desired amount. You can mix the remaining cream into the milk and save for a future use.

3. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Using the blade of the knife scrape out the vanilla seeds. Add the coconut cream, agave and vanilla seeds to the cocoa butter. Beat at medium speed until well combined. Add the grated beets, stirring with a spatula until the mixture becomes slightly pink. If the mixture starts to solidify, place it over hot tap water to melt again. Using a fine wire mesh strainer, strain the beets from the liquid. If the oil from the cocoa butter has separated, whisk to combine.

4. Remove the lollipops from the freezer and spoon the coating over the pop. Place the pop back in the freezer for 5 minutes. If desired, add another layer of coating. Melt the coating again, if needed. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Voila! Raw Strawberry Shortcake Pops. Enjoy!

Kimchi Dumplings with Asian Cabbage Salad - GF

I was sooooooo excited to see THIS recipe for gluten free wonton wrappers over at Gluten Free on a Shoestring's blog. I used to make these scrumptious kimchi dumplings and I just happened to have everything I needed in the fridge to make them for dinner last night! :) Kimchi is a Korean fermented cabbage. Sounds strange, but it is yummy. Especially in these dumplings. They weren't quite the same as I remember them, but they were pretty dang good.

I used a different flour than she uses, which might account for why the dough seemed a little tough, but they were still delicious.

Kimchi Dumplings
Makes 24 Dumplings

Triple recipe of GF Wonton Wrappers, cut into 3" rounds, or if you do not need gluten free you can use store-bought Round Wonton Wrappers

1/2 lb ground beef or pork
2 green onions, white and light green part, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon soy sauce/GF Tamari
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup kimchi, drained (I use King's, it has no MSG and is gluten free)
1/4 cup firm tofu (organic, non-GMO)

1. In a medium bowl combine the meat, onions, garlic, soy sauce, ginger and salt.

2. Press the drained kimchi in between layers of paper towels to remove any remaining liquid. Chop finely. Add to the meat mixture.

3. Press the tofu between layers of paper towels to remove as much liquid as possible. Place drained tofu in small bowl and mash with a fork. Add to the meat mixture. Cover and refrigerate. (The dough should also be covered and refrigerated)

4. Prepare the Asian Cabbage Salad, recipe follows.

5. Prepare the dumpling dipping sauce, recipe follows.

6. Remove the dumpling filling and dough from the fridge. Place about 1/2 tablespoon of filling in the center of the dough. Fold the dumpling in half, pressing the edges together. If needed use water along the edges to help "glue" them together. (If you are a master dumpling maker, you can properly pleat the dough as you seal it. As you can see from the pictures, I am not a master dumpling maker!) The bottom should be flat so that they can sit upright in the pan.

7. Heat a skillet, just big enough for the amount of dumplings you want to cook, over high heat. Add a light layer of olive oil. Place the dumplings in the pan so that they are touching. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Turn the heat down if they are browning too quickly.

8. Pour water in the pan until it is 1/4 way up the dumplings. Be careful because it will splatter and steam. Adjust the heat so that the water is simmering. Cover and cook for an additional 7 minutes. If there is still water left, uncover and let it cook off. Remove the dumplings and serve immediately with the dipping sauce.

Note: This filling is good just cooked up and served over rice, or in a lettuce wrap with rice.

Asian Cabbage Salad
Serves 4-6

1 cup green cabbage, very thinly sliced
1 cup red cabbage, very thinly sliced
6 green onions, white and light green parts, chopped
3 tablespoons sesame seeds (if making the dumpling dipping sauce add an additional 2 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons raw agave or honey
1/2 cup sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup almond slivers or slices

1. Combine the cabbage and onion in a medium bowl. Set aside.

2. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Toast the sesame seeds, stirring occasionally, until the are browned, 3-5 minutes. Watch carefully, do not let them burn. Place them in a bowl and set aside. While the pan is still hot, toast the almonds for 2-3 minutes until just brown. Place them in a bowl and set aside.

3. In a small bowl combine 3 tablespoons of the sesame seeds, the vinegar and agave. While whisking slowly stream in the sesame oil. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the cabbage and toss to coat. Just before serving add the toasted almonds.

Dipping Sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce/GF Tamari
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
pinch of red pepper flakes

1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Raw Cacao Snack Balls

These were actually a flopped Raw Cake Pop trial. They were still so good, that I knew I had to do something with them. I have been snacking on them the last several days and have to restrain myself from eating all of them at once. :)

*This recipe is linked to Simple Lives Thursday and Real Food Weekly. Check out all the great recipes, info and tips.

Raw Cacao Snack Balls
Makes 8 balls

1 cup nuts, soaked 4 hours (I used almonds, pecans and walnuts)
6 dates, pitted
2 tablespoons nut butter (I used cashew butter)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cacao/cocoa powder
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/4 teaspoons salt (add more if your nut butter is not salted)

1. Drain and rinse the nuts. In a food processor, using the metal S blade, process the nuts until they are a fine meal.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until it becomes a smooth paste. Take a heaping tablespoon and form into balls. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (if you can stand to wait). Serve.

Note: If your dates are not soft, soak them for 4 hours as well.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Baked Eggs with Swiss Chard and Herbs

* This recipe is linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays and Real Food Wednesdays. If you are looking for some more great recipes go check out the recipe carnivals there.

I have never had baked eggs, but I have seen several recipes lately. I decided I would give it a try tonight for dinner. It was delicious! I can't have dairy, so I didn't do any cheese, but I can imagine that it would be even more wonderful with some good Parmesan, or even goat cheese, or gouda...Gouda is good. :) Any cheese would be yummy.

Sorry for the lack of pictures of the guts. I was in such a hurry to eat it that the pictures were unusable.

Baked Eggs with Swiss Chard and Herbs
Serves 4

8 eggs
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, and more for coating
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 cup swiss chard, center stem removed, washed and cut into thin strips (you could also use spinach)
1/2 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 cup shredded cheese (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat four 1-cup ramekins or gratin dishes with oil and place on a baking sheet.

2. Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a small saucepan, do not let it smoke. Saute the garlic and chard for 2-3 minutes. Do not let the garlic brown. Divide the oil, garlic and chard amongst the four dishes. If using cheese, mix the parsley and the basil with the cheese and set aside.

3. One at a time, break two eggs in a small bowl, being careful not to break the yolk. Place two eggs into each dish prepared dish. Sprinkle with the herb, cheese/herb mixture.

4. Bake until the eggs are set and the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Crazy Day

I had a crazy day yesterday and did not get a chance to get an amazing recipe with pictures ready for a post. Although I did get some work done in my garden before it snows today! Lovely Spring in Utah. :)

I have been working on the blog and I have some new pages for you to peruse. See those tabs up at the top; About Me, My Real Food Philosophy, etc.? That is what I have been working on. I want this blog to not only be about yummy, real food recipes, but also about educating people and providing resources. So....check them out and let me know what you think!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Massaged Kale and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

*This recipe is linked to Monday Mania. Go check out the other real food recipes, health info and tips.

I have been obsessed with kale and swiss chard lately. However, eating them raw is something I haven't been brave enough to venture into yet. They are pretty tough raw. I have seen some recipe for massaged kale lately, so I thought I would give it a try. It was delicious! The kale was flavorful and tender. The roasted butternut and leeks were the perfect accompaniment.

Massaged Kale and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad
Serves 3-4

1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2" cubes
1 leek, white and light green part, sliced thin, rinsed in a bowl of water
1 TB extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
4 slices of nitrite free bacon, sliced thin (optional)

1 bunch of kale, stems removed, leaves washed dried and cut into bite-size pieces
1 TB extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 C pumpkin seeds
1 TB balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the butternut squash, leeks, olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Place in a 8 x 8 dish, sprinkle the bacon over the top (if using). Cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes until the bacon is crispy.

2. Place the kale, olive oil and salt in a medium bowl and massage between fingers for 2-3 minutes.

3. Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Toast the pumpkin seeds, stirring occasionally, until they start to pop. Watch closely, this will happen very quickly.

4. Place the warm roasted vegetables over the kale. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and top with the toasted pumpkin seeds. Toss before serving.