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"

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