Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Mini Chocolate Pudding Cookie Pie

Chocolate pudding Snak-Paks were a staple in my home growing up. Mom packed one in my lunch box almost every day. I had quite the sweet tooth back then, but now that I'm older, sweets just aren't something I want. But give me a bowl of chips and guac and I'll be at that all day. Anyway, just because I don't have the same sweet tooth doesn't mean I don't occasionally crave a little sugar. Pudding is surprisingly easy to make and paired with my Small Batch Chocolate Cookies, they're magical. 

Mini Chocolate Pudding Cookie Pie 

What you'll need

  •  chocolate cookie dough
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder (or use 4 tbsp and omit the FlavorGod)
  • 2 tbsp FlavorGod Chocolate Donut 
  • 2 tbsp maple sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp gelatin (I used Great Lakes Red can)

  • What to do:
    1. Preheat oven to 350F. Make the chocolate chip cookie pie crust. Make sure the dough is chilled as it will be easier to handle. Divide the batter evenly (using my small batch recipe, I was able to fill three) into a silicone muffin tin. Use your fingers to press down and up the sides slightly. Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and use a greased shot glass to make a well in the center of each cookie. Cool and set aside. 
    2. To make the pudding, combine the almond milk, cocoa powder, maple sugar, and vanilla in a small sauce pan. Heat over medium low. Whisk until combined. Then evenly sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Allow the gelatin to bloom and then whisk until combined. Heat the mixture until it starts to steam. Remove from heat and allow to cool in a container. Cover and let it set in the fridge overnight. 
    3. The following day, whisk the pudding. Then add to the cookie crust. Serve with more cookie crumbles and whipped coconut cream. 

    Monday, August 8, 2016

    Asian Braised Oxtail/Short Ribs


    Braises and stews are staples in my kitchen. They're easy to prep and I let my slow cooker do the rest. Occasionally I like to use my fancy pants dutch oven too. When it comes to using meaty bones, I like to brown the meat (either in a cast iron or broil in the oven) first. Those brown bits at the bottom of your pan are like gold. Here, I seasoned the meat with a little Chinese 5 spice and then pan seared them before adding the rest of the ingredients. If you've never tried Chinese 5 spice, it's an aromatic blend of star anise, cinnamon, cloves, sichuan peppercorns, and fennel. Some variants have ginger and cardamon. But it adds such amazingly complex flavors, it's definitely worth a try. In this recipe, I opted to use Oxtails and Short ribs, but you can go ahead and use any meaty bone.

    Asian Braised Oxtail/Short ribs

    What you'll need:
    • 2-3 lbs beef oxtail, ribs, or short ribs
    • 5 tbsp gluten free tamari or coconut aminos
    • 2 tbsp mirin
    • 1/2 tsp paprika
    • 1-2 tbsp chinese five spice + 1/2 tsp for sauce
    • 1.5 tsp FlavorGod Garlic Lovers (or use garlic powder)
    • 1/4 tsp white pepper
    • 1/4 tsp dried mustard
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 2 cups beef/chicken stock (I used homemade)
    • 1 tbsp honey
    • 6-8 oz dried shiitake mushrooms (fresh would be okay too)
    • 2-3 minced garlic cloves
    • 1 one inch piece of peeled ginger
    What to do:
    1. Preheat oven to 300F. Pat the beef dry. Season all sides with 1-2 tbsp chinese 5 spice, a couple large pinches of salt and fresh cracked black pepper. In a cast iron pot, heat 2 tbsp of fat of choice over medium high heat. Working in batches as to not overcrowd the pot, sear the beef on each side (about 1-2 minutes each side). Remove and set aside. 
    2. Add the ginger and garlic, scraping the bottom for the browned bits. Add the tarmari/coconut aminos, mirin, honey, paprika, 1/2 tsp chinese 5 spice, garlic powder, white pepper, and dried mushrooms to the pot. Stir. Place the beef back into the pot. Add the stock and the dried mushrooms
    3. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover with an oven proof lid and place in the oven to bake for 2.5-3 hours. After 3 hours, remove from the oven and place the pot on the stove. Remove the cover and bring the stew to a simmer over medium heat. Allow the sauce to thicken for 25-30 minutes over medium heat. 
    4. Serve with chopped green onions (optional) over rice or cauliflower rice (for low carb/paleo) and your favorite sauteed veggie (I served mine with bok choy). 

    Monday, August 1, 2016

    Cherry Clafoutis

    In the summer, I crave cherries. I freaking love cherries. But I hate those pits! I finally got myself a cherry/olive pitter and wow, why didn't I get one sooner?! It's probably my favorite kitchen accessory, second to my waffle maker (duh!). When summer rolls around, it's cherries all day, every day. Anyway, clafoutis, sounds funny, right? This classic French dessert combines juicy cherries and a rich, but light textured custard. All it takes is a blender, about 40 minutes of bake time, and BAM you've got a funny named but delicious treat, even perfect for breakfast! You can even substitute the cherries for another fruit, like peaches or berries.

    Cherry Clafoutis
    What you'll need:

    • 1 cup coconut or almond milk
    • 1/3 cup maple syrup + 2 tsp honey
    • 3 whole eggs
    • 2 tsp vanilla
    • 1/2 cup almond flour
    • 1.5 tsp tapioca flour
    • 2 tbsp melted grassfed butter
    • pinch of salt
    • 2-3 cups pitted cherries or other fruit
    What to do:
    1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a cast iron skillet or baking dish with soften butter or non-stick spray (I used Chosen Foods coconut oil spray, no propellants or fillers just pure coconut oil!). 
    2. Add all the ingredients, except the fruit to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Pour about 1/4 of the batter into the greased skillet/dish and bake at 350F for 7-10 minutes. This helps to keep your fruit from all sinking to the bottom. 
    3. Remove from the oven and top with the fruit, arranging in a pattern, if preferred. Pour over the remaining batter. Return the skillet/dish back to the oven and bake at 350F for an additional 35-40 minutes until the top is set and golden brown. 
    4. Remove from oven and cool slightly, sprinkle with powdered sugar if preferred. Serve warm. 

    Tuesday, July 26, 2016

    Small Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Sometimes, you just want a chocolate chip cookie. But you don't want to go to the store to buy those pre-portioned ones just to make 1 or 2 cookies when you've got all the ingredients at home. But how difficult would it be to pull out a dozen plus fresh baked cookies from the oven and not eat them all in one sitting?! This recipe only makes two cookies, perfect for an after dinner treat when you just want a little sweetness. I've played around with this recipe and depending on whether or not you chill the dough will give you two different textures. Baking the cookies right away will give you crispy edges and a soft center. Chilling the dough for at least 5 minutes, will give you a soft baked cookie all the way through. The choice is yours, now lets get baking!

     Small Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies

    What you'll need:

    • 2 tbsp grassfed butter (like Kerrygold), soften at room temperature
    • 2 tbsp maple sugar
    • 1/4 tsp vanilla
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 2 tbsp tapioca
    • 4 tbsp almond flour
    • 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • pinch of salt
    • 3 tbsp chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
    What to do:
    1. Preheat the oven to 350F. In a bowl, beat the soften butter and maple sugar together until combined. Add the vanilla and egg yolk and beat until just combined. 
    2. Add the tapioca, almond flour, baking soda and salt. Beat until just combined, it's okay if there are small streaks. Fold in the chocolate chips. 
    3. Chill dough for at least 5 minutes for soft baked cookies. Divide the batter using an ice cream scoop onto a parchment paper or silicone lined baking sheet, about 3 inches apart. 
    4. Bake the cookies at 350F for 8-10 minutes. Cool slightly before enjoying!


    Wednesday, July 20, 2016

    Ratatouille Lasagna

    Traditionally, Ratatouille is a stewed vegetable side dish usually composed of tomatoes, onions, garlic, zucchini, eggplant and bell peppers. Here I've combined all those flavors into lasagna! Eggplant makes great "lasagna" noodles for those that like to keep it glutenfree or low carb. And with a little char, they're delicious. I like to make my own marinara sauce, which I've included the recipe for below, but feel free to use your favorite recipe or store bought sauce.

    Ratatouille Lasagna
    What you'll need:

    For the marinara sauce*
    • 1 large onion, diced small
    • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 5-6 sweet mini peppers, diced small
    • 32 oz tomato sauce
    • scant 1 cup water
    • 1 TBSP Herbes de Provence (or Italian seasoning if you can't find this)
    • 1 TBSP red chili flakes (use less for mild, or remove completely for non-spicy)
    • 1 TBSP garlic powder
    • 1 TBSP onion powder
    • 2 tsp dried basil
    • 1 tsp dried thyme
    • 1 tsp oregano/marjoram
    • 2-3 bay leaves
    • 2-3 TBSP coconut/maple sugar, adjust to taste (or omit all together for no sugar added)
    • 1/2 TBSP grassfed unsalted butter
    • fresh cracked black pepper and sea salt, to taste
    For the lasagna
    • 2 large eggplant, sliced ~ 1/8 inch thick length wise 
    • 3-4 medium zucchini, sliced length wise
    • 2 medium onions, sliced
    • 3 medium bell peppers
    • marinara sauce
    • 2 lbs ground beef
    • 1 cup diced onions
    • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
    • salt and pepper
    • cheese (optional)
    What to do:
    1. Make the marinara sauce. Heat a pot over medium heat and add about 1 TBSP of olive oil. Saute onions and mini peppers until fragrant. Add the garlic, chili flakes, and Herbes de Provence. Saute until fragrant. 
    2. Add tomato sauce and stir. Then add water and the remaining spices (garlic powder to the bay leaves). Stir to combine. Then stir in the coconut sugar. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
    3. Bring the sauce to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot with it's lid and simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Before removing from the heat, give it a little taste to see if it needs more seasoning or sugar, to your preference. 
    4. Remove from heat. Cool slightly before taking an immersion blender and blending the sauce together. Alternatively, the sauce could be cooled and poured in a blender/food processor and blended until smooth. Set aside to cool. 
    5. Prepare the eggplant, zucchini, onions and bell peppers for the lasagna. Using a mandolin, carefully slice the eggplant and zucchini evenly and thinly (about 1/4 in. thick). Place sliced veggies on a baking pan and season both sides with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. 
    6. Pre-heat the grill. Once the grill is up to temperature, grill the eggplant and zucchini slices on both sides. Remove grilled veggies and set aside for assembly.
    7. In a pan, heat a little olive oil over medium heat. Add sliced onions and peppers. Cook until fragrant and onions are translucent. Remove from pan and set aside for assembly.
    8. Make the meat sauce. In another pan, heat about 1 TBSP of olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until fragrant. Add garlic and stir. Then add the ground beef, breaking up any large chunks. Season the meat with salt and pepper, to taste. Once most of the beef has been cooked, working a 1/2 cup at a time, add the marinara sauce. Stir to combine the beef and sauce. Keep adding the sauce to your preference. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer for about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and get ready to assemble. 
    9. Pre-heat the oven to 350F. In a 9x13 baking dish, coat the bottom of the dish with about 2-3 TBSP of the marinara sauce (not the beef/marinara mixture). Layer the grilled eggplant on the bottom of the dish, followed by the zucchini, meat sauce, and onions+peppers.
    10. Repeat the layering until there are no more, or the dish is full. Try to make the last layer the grilled eggplant. Spread another 2-3 TBSP of marinara sauce over the eggplant. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmeasean cheese, if preferred. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until cheese and filling are nice and bubbly.
    11. Cool slightly before slicing. 

    Friday, July 1, 2016

    Dairy-Free Cherry Almond Fudge Ice Cream

    Dairy free ice cream is tricky. Because you're using non-fatty milks (unless you're using all coconut milk, but coconut milk can be overpowering in taste), it tends to ice over pretty quick. It also doesn't have that creamy mouth feel of traditional dairy ice creams. But there are tricks to achieving that creamy dreamy taste. 

    1. Up the fat since fat doesn't freeze. Use egg yolks to make a custard base. If you're using almond or other nut milk, try doing a 70/30 nut milk and coconut milk ratio. 
    2. Add gelatin. According to the master of ice cream, David Lebovitz, using 1 tsp gelatin per 1L/quart can help soften your ice cream. 
    3. Use honey or maple sugar. Sugars like these will lower the freezing point of your ice cream, and ultimately make your ice cream smoother and less-icy.  

    Here, I played around with the "science" of ice cream making for you! While, this recipe still might have a little more fine tuning before I can say this is the most creamiest dreamiest dairy free ice cream, it's still pretty dang good. 

    Diary Free Cherry Almond Fudge Ice Cream

    What you'll need:
    - 3-4 cups cherries, halved and pitted
    - 2.5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    - 2 tbsp water
    - 1 tsp vanilla
    - 6 egg yolks
    - 2 cups + 3/4 cup almond milk
    - 1 cup full fat coconut milk
    - 2-3 tbsp honey
    - 1 tsp gelatin (the one that makes jello, like this one)
    - 1 tsp vanilla
    - 1 cup toasted almonds, chopped
    - 2-3 tbsp Nikki's Dark Chocolate Fudge Coconut Butter

    What to do:

    1. In a sauce pan, combine the cherries, balsamic vinegar, and water. Cook over medium heat until cherries are soft and syrupy, stirring occasionally. About 8-10 minutes. Divide in half.  
    2. Had half the cherry compote to a blender along with the egg yolks, 2 cups almond milk, coconut milk, vanilla, and honey. Blend until smooth. Strain the mixture into a large sauce pan. Sprinkle the gelatin over the mixture and allow to bloom for a few minutes. 
    3. Heat the custard mixture over medium heat and cook for 10-12 minutes until custard thickens. Be sure to be stirring continuously. 
    4. Prepare a large bowl with ice water. Place another clean bowl into the ice water bowl. Add the remaining 3/4 cup almond milk. Strain the mixture into the clean bowl placed in the ice water bath. Stir and cover with plastic wrap. Push the plastic wrap on to the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. 
    5. Chill overnight in the fridge. 
    6. Add the chilled custard to the ice cream maker and prepare ice cream per manufacturer's instructions. Fold in toasted almonds and Nikki's Dark Chocolate Fudge. 
    7. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container. Before serving, allow the ice cream to soften at room temperature for a few minutes for easier "scoopability"

    Monday, June 13, 2016

    Salted Almond Coconut Chocolate Candy Bites

    I recently had the pleasure of finally meeting the face behind one of my favorite brands, Nikki of Nikki's Coconut Butter, at Paleo F(x) in Austin. She's one awesome boss lady and one of the sweetest people I've ever had the pleasure meeting! It certainly was a happy coincidence that I was just vacationing in Austin with my BFF and decided to stop by the expo at Paleo F(x). So glad we did! 

    Since changing my diet one that's Paleo/gluten free, I've found ways to satisfy my sweet tooth with Nikki's coconut butter. All the flavors are soy, dairy, egg, and gluten free. The newest flavor, Cashew Cookie Butter, is also sugar free, for those that are watching their sugar intake. It's also one of my personal favorites, next to the Mint Chocolate Chip (yum!). Being creative in the kitchen is a great outlet for me, when I'm stressing, I like to have fun in the kitchen whipping up something fun and delicious. So, when I'm in the mood for something a little sweet (I'm normally a salty, chips and dip, kinda girl), I like incorporating a little Nikki's coconut butter. It's got all the sweetness I need and the recipes I'm going to share with you include little to no added sugars (except for those already found in the coconut butter or fruits, YAY!). Coconut Butter has so many potential uses and I'm going to try to create all the recipes I can to show you just how versatile it can be!

    Now for the Salted Almond Coconut Chocolate Candy Bites. Think of these as a more "grown-up" version of Almond Joy Candies. The extra step of salting and roasting the almonds really take these to the next level. 

    Salted Almond Coconut Chocolate Candy Bites

    What you'll need:

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt + 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup Nikki's Vanilla Cake Batter, melted
  • 3 tbsp coconut cream (from canned coconut milk)
  • 1-2 tbsp honey, warmed 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 oz good quality dark chocolate + 1/4 cup Nikki's Dark Chocolate Fudge Coconut Butter

  • What to do:
    1. Preheat oven to 300F. In a bowl, add the raw almonds and 1 tbsp kosher salt, add the boiling water and allow the almonds to brine for at least 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, drain the almonds and pat dry. Bake at 300F for 20 minutes. 
    2. Remove and allow almonds to cool slightly. In a food processor, combine the almonds, shredded coconut, Vanilla Cake Batter, coconut cream, honey, vanilla, and kosher salt. Pulse until mixture starts to form a ball/or comes together but not enough to turn into a smooth puree. 
    3. Using a small cookie scoop, or your hands, form the coconut mixture into uniform shapes. Set aside and melt together the dark chocolate and Nikkis Dark Chocolate Fudge. Dip each coconut ball into the chocolate. Allow to harden in the fridge before consuming. Store in the fridge or freezer in an airtight container. 

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