Archive for August, 2010

August 31st, 2010

Tuesday’s Tip

Instead of throwing away the lint from your dryer, use it in your bon fires for an easy fire starter. It’s very dry and easily flammable, this is why you should make sure your dryer is clear of stuck lint. You’re also saving it from the landfill!

August 25th, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

August 23rd, 2010

Chocolate Truffle Cookie Bites

I adore days like today. It’s been a little bit overcast all day, a tiny bit humid, with a refreshing East breeze with a hint of cool. Today’s temperature is 77 degrees. I love it because it’s August. I always feel like right when I’m getting totally sick of Summer’s hot revenge, God blesses me with a day like today. It’s like a fall teaser. It should be hot and humid, but it’s just barely humid and cool, especially in the evening.

I love thinking about Fall and it’s magical transformations, cool, brisk evenings, and affectionate rendezvous with the outdoors, savoring the farewell to your time outside. It might just be me, but I want to jump the gun on feeling fall as soon as possible. I want to get in the kitchen and create an atmosphere, specific to fall memories.

There are all kinds of cookies I love, but there is something really special about a truffle cookie. I had the ingredients on hand, so I just started to create. It all worked out for me, one try! I think I might play around with it a little more, but these cookies were so addicting just the way they are. The crunch of the chocolate chips is the source of the addiction, I believe.

I used “Let’s Do Organic” coconut flour, and I must say, I’m not a fan. I got it because it was cheaper that Bob’s Red Mill, but it was the same weight so I thought why not. The reason why not is because it’s very grainy and not powdery like a flour. But regardless, it worked out. But next time I’m going to use Bob’s and it will probably provide a bit denser crumb.

Chocolate Truffle Cookies- Grain and Gluten free
8 oz butter room temp. (I used salted)
3/4 C sucanat sugar
1/4 C mesquite flour
1/2 C coconut flour (if you use BRM you may need a little less)
1/4 C almond meal
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt* (I like a salty bite but dismiss if you don’t want it salty)
1/4 C. coconut milk
2 squares (28 g) unsweetened baking chocolate- chopped
5 squares (63.3 g) semi sweet chocolate- chopped
1 t vanilla
1 T virgin coconut oil
3 eggs
1/2 C chocolate chips

Pre heat oven to 355 degrees
In a small sauce pan, boil the coconut milk and add the chocolates and stir until melted.
Add in the vanilla and coconut oil and set aside to cool slightly.
In the bowl of your mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time
combine flours and almond meal, salt and baking soda and add to the cookie batter.
Mix on medium until well combined and turn down to stir.
While the mixer is on the lowest speed, add in the melted chocolate mix and stir until fully incorporated.
Stir in the chocolate chips
on a parchment lined cookie sheet, use a small ice cream scoop to measure out the cookie batter.
press down to compound a little bit to push out trapped air.
Bake for 15 minutes.

August 20th, 2010

Saffron Maple Ice Cream Studded With Honey Roasted Sunflower Seeds

A few years ago I was watching one of those Rachel Ray traveling shows. This was when I was obsessed with Food Network. She was at Mount Rushmore, I think, and found a cute little ice cream shop with tons of flavors. She got one with honey roasted sunflower seeds (if I do recall correctly). It sounded so right, and I’ve been waiting on my favorite local ice cream shop to make this flavor after many hints. I’m still waiting!

So, I took the ice cream into my own hands. I wanted to make the ice cream interesting, even though the honey roasted sun flower seeds would be the star. I thought saffron would get the party started without being intrusive. Maple syrup would also do the same, without fighting with any other flavor and just adding harmony.

I used sucanat sugar and I think this was the dominent flavor of the ice cream. If you use regular sugar, you would probably be able to taste the saffron and maple a little better. But I liked the warm carmel notes the sugar provided. It married well with the sunflower seeds.

I was quite satisfied with my creation. The sunflower seeds are ridiculously addictive so you better make more to munch on. It’s a perfect finish to a light summer dinner.

Saffron maple ice cream

16 oz heavy cream organic
2 1/2 C whole organic milk (reserve 1/4 C for tapioca)
1/2 C sucanat sugar
1/4 C granulated sugar (regular)
1/4 t salt (I use fleur de sal)
1 T +1 t tapioca starch
1 T maple syrup
1 t vanilla bean paste
aprox. 5 threads of saffron

-add the milk and cream in a medium size sauce pan.
-on medium/high heat gently boil them together.
-add the sugars and stir until dissolved.
-continue to gently boil to reduce the liquid mixture by at least a 1/4. *this will foam quite a bit so do yourself a favor and take a set at the stove, or else you will be cleaning a burnt on, milky mess.
-add the maple syrup, saffron, vanilla bean paste and salt, stir and turn off the heat.
-cover the cream and let all the ingredients steep for at least one hour.
-strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer and add back into the pot.
-add the reserved (cold) milk to the tapioca starch and mix with your clean fingers until it dissolves and add to the cream.
stir until it thickens, about 3 minutes.
store in a lidded container and refrigerate over night. This is necessary so it is completely cool.
-prepare your ice cream maker according to the manufactures directions, ie freeze the container.
-add the cold custard to your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturers directions. It took me about 20 minutes. Once the ice cream is finished you can fold in the honey roasted sunflower seeds and store in a freezer safe container and freeze for at least 2-3 hours.

Honey roasted sunflower seeds

1/2 Raw sunflower seeds
1 T water
1T honey
1 t virgin coconut oil
1 T sugar
1 t fine sea salt

-spread out, on a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment, the sunflower seeds so they are in an even layer.
-roast at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes. After 8 minutes stir and roast for another 4- 8 minutes. Once they have a golden brown color take them out to cool.
-in a small sautee pan, add the honey, water and coconut oil and bring to a light boil.
-add the seeds and stir until all of the liquid is absorbed
-in a separate bowl stir together the sugar and salt
-immediately toss in the seeds and coat with the sugar and salt
-once coated, spread out on a parchment lined cookie sheet and cool completely.

August 19th, 2010

Upgrading the blender: Blendtec VS Vitamix

Like most couples, we registered for the best looking blender without spending hours researching the best. I never used our first blender. It failed miserably at anything involving ice. Isn’t that why most people buy a blender?! Anyways, I sold that blender, so it wasn’t a complete loss.

I went for 3 years just using an immersion blender that my mom had bought me before I got married. It was stashed away in my hope chest, just waiting for it’s debut. I love it. I use it all the time. But it cannot make a smoothie, or nut butters or make instant ice cream. However it can make smoothing a hot pot of soup a chinch.

For about a year and a half now, I have searched the internet high and low trying to pin down my decision on which “real” blender to by. Since I wanted to make sure I would make the right choice, I pacified myself with a nice blender from Kitchenaid. It’s the Architecht Series and it has, for the time being, filled the homemade frappe void. It’s loud, which I’m guessing is something that I’m going to have to get used, and it sounds like it’s going to take off to the moon if I don’t hold the base while blending. It’s doing a fine job, but I plan on selling it once September arrives. You see, I have a birthday in September. This means, someone has realized the desires of my heart for the past year and a half, and understands why a blender would cost more that $100!

I have to make my decision quick though. My birthday will be here before I know it. I have seen so many raw foodist with the Vitamix and a lot of restaurants do use them. You know you’re a blender nerd when you go by a Starbucks or smoothie shop and ask what brand their blender is!

I thought I had made my mind up on which was best for me, and then when I was taking my friend E (who works at SB) to the airport, I told her I finally found out what brand Starbucks used, and I said Blendtec. Then she quickly, with a smile said, “Oh, we just got all new ones and they’re Vitamixes, and their wonderful. They’re so smooth and a lot quieter.” Dang it! How can you not take someone’s opinion into account when they have used both?!

So, spent a couple hours watching videos, reading blogs, and sifting through the blender loyalist opinions. I think I have made my decision (again!). Based on what works for me, I plan on getting the Blendtec. It will fit in a cabinet or under one without problem. The Vitamix is a lot taller. I’ve read that people wished it was easier to clean the Vitamix, and they loose food at the bottom, under the blades. The blendtec is much wider at the base and does not have this problem. Also ,the kicker, the blendtec is said to be easier to clean. There it is folks, the real reason I would go with this one! It’s a square jar so there are no curves to get around, it doesn’t narrow too much and the base and the blade and pitcher are fused together, which means, by law (sanitary reasons), you don’t have to be able to remove the blade to clean it, since food bits won’t slip through any gaskets and grow bacteria. I also don’t mind the digital control panal, it seems easier to wipe clean.

I would be happy receiving either one of these great machines. I’ve looked at the Vitamix in person, and just can’t imagine that big of a machine in my kitchen. And it’s ugly. I don’t want to have to look at it all the time because it’s too big to put away. The Blendtec seems like a realistic choice. I can’t wait to see what a difference a real blender makes and to not smell that burning rubber smell of a cheap blender!

I still have a little bit of time left to change my mind, so if any of you, out there in the abysse, have used these machines, please share your experience!

August 18th, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

storm's a comin'

August 14th, 2010

Guests for breakfast

Black bean cakes topped with poached eggs with roasted jalapeno hollandaise sauce

I don’t know how she did it with such grace. My mom never dashed around the kitchen, but floated with intention and calm, when we had guests over for brunch. It must come with years of practice.

I, on the other hand, am a dasher, dropper, sweater, occasional cusser, rushed, wanna-be-Martha-Stewart type. I try to invite my guest in, make them feel like they are part of the cooking experience and hopefully present the food, on time, perfectly cooked and hot. I think that’s every hostess’ desire, right? It’s not unreasonable to think this can happen. Maybe I think that so I can strive for it.

We had great friends, and their sweet baby girl, over for breakfast the other day. I had been talkin’ a big game about my breakfasts, so this was where I had to put my money where my mouth was! I had prepared some things the night before, thinking this would give me a head start. In the morning, I juiced the oranges, warmed the maple and hickory syrups, sauteed the black bean cakes warmed the hollandaise sauce, and then it was all down to the eggs. I had watched Julia Child make poached eggs for her “English Muffins Brunch” show and I was confident in my skills.

As I was chatting away and cutting some fresh peaches, brought by my friend E, my poached eggs, to my dismay, hard boiled. I tried again and finally got it as I burnt my fingers and dropped the hot pans, one after another. I had hungry guests, and I didn’t want to disappoint.

I think everyone enjoyed the black bean cakes. We were all satisfied, with full bellies, and continued with conversation at the dining room table.

I love big breakfasts because it seems like if you could have one meal all day, it fills you up and you don’t want to eat the rest of the day. People seem happier to see each other in the morning. There’s something about being with other people, over food, and hot coffee in the morning that brings on a good day.

I love these black bean cakes because they are a nice alternative to an English Muffin , for Eggs Benedict and they are filling with very little grain. These are flavorful and hearty and perfect, topped with a slice of fresh tomato, topped with a fresh poached egg and slathered in buttery hollandaise sauce. Yum!

black bean cakes
1 can rinsed and drained organic black beans
1 jalapeno diced
1 egg
1/2 t smoked paprika
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t garlic granules
chopped red onion (to your taste)
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
2 T organic corn meal
1 t seasoning salt

With the back of a fork, mash the beans until some are paste-y but you can still tell they are black beans. Add all the other ingredients and combine well. On a hot griddle (I had mine on high), coat with butter or evoo, and drop a spoon full of the mix and form a patty. The thicker they are the more wet and moist they will be. If they are too thin, they dry out fast. Cook both sides until golden brown. Top with a sliced tomato and poached egg, with the Jalapeno hollandaise sauce and sprinkle with more seasoning salt or paprika. Makes 4 patties.

roasted jalapeno hollandaise sauce
1 jalapeno
2 egg yolks
1/2 stick butter melted
juice of half a lemon
1/4 t seasoning salt
4 T hot water
pepper to taste

Roast the jalapeno, dry, over a flame until the skin is black. De-seed the jalapeno and add to a small food processor along with the yolks, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Pulse until well combined. Melt the butter and add this to the food processor and combine all ingredients until creamy and thick.

August 12th, 2010

Homemade Seasoning Salt

I remember vividly, sitting at the counter, eyes barely open, eating my breakfast. Most mornings it was soft boiled eggs, or eggs of some sort. Whatever egg it was, it was always accompanied by that red-ish orange and silver striped shaker with the shiny, curly “L”. That’s right, Lawry’s seasoning salt (see the jar in the photo?!).

I loved the stuff! I would sometimes put it in the center of my hand, wet the tip of my finger, and dip it into the salt to enjoy. I don’t know what it was about it. Maybe it’s because my mom put it on everything from veggies and eggs, to mac and cheese. I have fond memories of sprinkling seasoning salt on my hard boiled Easter eggs, (just the whites). I could have ate those all day, but only if I had seasoning salt. I just loved the spiced up salt flavor that got rounded out with a tiny hint of sweetness.

As I got older I found a different brand I liked but it was sort of hard to find. I once found it at a German grocer and nearly bought them out. I’m not really sure when it happened, but I stopped using the famous salt. It wasn’t because I didn’t like it anymore, but I think it’s because my mom switched to a cheaper brand and I just chose to for go the salt.

When I adopted the organic life style, I would have to actually ask for the seasoning salt to not be used on my food. Some contain MSG, nearly all contain flowing agents. Why did they have to add all this crap in it? I guess that’s part of why I liked it so much?

Anyways, I would look for something similar at my organic grocery store but I always came up short. I was determined to make my own when I had a sudden urge to add it to my new egg sandwich I had made up…it was missing just this one thing and I wasn’t going to go without it anymore!

I got it right on the first try. I’m so excited to now have this as my seasoning staple. It’s made with organic, pure ingredients. Nothing you have to question, no flowing agents, no msg. Just pure spices with a hit of sugar.

Seasoning Salt
1/4 C pink Himalayan salt (fine)
1T+1t organic granulated sugar
2 t smoked paprika
1 t garlic powder
1 t garlic granules
2 t onion granules

Add all ingredients in a jar and shake to combine. Be sure that all the spiced get mixed together and creative a pinkish mix.

August 11th, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

August 10th, 2010

Tuesday’s Tip

If you’re like me, and love making fresh salsa, you know how important the Jalapeno is to your recipe.

As an organic shopper, at least in my area, it’s impossible to find organic jalapenos in the winter.

Last year my brother gave me a ton of jalapenos and I couldn’t find a use for them all so, I froze them. I never thought frozen jalapenos would work so well. They are easy to de-seed, and chop (un like canned) and tasted great.

If your going to have a healthy harvest of Jalapenos this summer, try freezing a bunch and you’ll have jalapenos all year long.