Monday, July 26, 2010

Coconut Ice Cream with Caramelized Bananas

This Sunday was my 25th birthday. It was a very nice relaxing day – complete with great friends (including my best friend of all – my sweet husband) and fantastic food! Since it’s my birthday I got to decide what I wanted to eat. For dinner we had chipotle grilled chicken, with grilled corn, zucchini and guacamole with cucumber chips. For dessert I really didn’t want cake – I just wanted a special ice cream treat! I love bananas foster and this is really a modified (gluten, dairy, and refined sugar free) version of it. It’s super simple, and super yummy! So next time you want a special treat, don’t worry about turning on your oven and getting the house hot, just make this scrumptious ice cream dessert!

Coconut Ice Cream (recipe from here):
2 Cans Coconut Milk (regular, not light)
1/2 Cup Honey or Agave
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

Whisk together all the ingredients.

*From here you have two options - you can use an ice cream maker or not. If you are using an ice cream maker: chill the mixture for a couple hours, and then use the chilled mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

To make ice cream in my ice cream maker you have to freeze the bucket completely and although I put it in the freezer a full 24 hours before, it didn’t freeze completely so I went to plan B – making it without an ice cream maker. You simple pour the combined ice cream ingredients into a shallow pan, place the pan in the freezer, and use a wire whisk to stir it every 30-45 minutes until it is thick and creamy like a soft serve ice cream. Then transfer the soft ice cream to a container and let it freeze completely. It won’t be quite as smooth as ice cream made in an ice cream maker, but it will still taste great!

Caramelized Bananas (Enough for 4 servings)
2 Large Bananas, thickly sliced
3 Tablespoons Rum
2 teaspoons honey or agave
1/4teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Combine the rum, honey and spice. Next, coat the bananas with the rum mixture.

*Again you have two options - if you happen to be grilling your dinner (like we were) you can wrap the spiced bananas (along with the liquid) in foil and then let them cook/caramelize while you eat dinner (just be careful your grill isn’t too hot or they might burn).

If you are cooking inside, simple pour the spiced bananas and the liquid into a skillet and cook over medium heat, swirling the bananas around in the skillet to coat with the sauce, until the sauce is thick and caramely.
To serve simple scoop ice cream into bowls, top with warm bananas and toasted pecans. Dig in!

As usual, I've also included this recipe as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blueberry Cream Tart

I don’t want to sound like I’m tooting my own horn, but this tart was utterly delectable. It is the best dessert I’ve had in a really long time! A tender nutty crust and light creamy filling, topped with sweet but tangy, perfectly-ripe blueberries. All of that and it is gluten, dairy, and refined sugar free (if you use agave instead of honey it would also be vegan). I don’t want all the “free” labels to scare off anyone whose diet is not restricted. This recipe includes all easily accessible ingredients – meaning you can find everything you need at a regular supermarket! The list of ingredients is actually quite short, and the preparation is very simple!

2 Cups finely ground nuts or nut meal (pack the nuts firmly in the cups when measuring), I used almonds
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
5 Tablespoons melted coconut oil or olive oil
2 Tablespoons of Honey or Agave
*This makes a crust for a 12inch tart, my only tart pan is really big, you may have a little extra if you use a “normal” 9 or 10 inch tart pan

Whipped Cream Filling:
2 Cans of Coconut Milk, refrigerated overnight*
3 Tablespoons of Honey or Agave
2 teaspoons of rose water (optional)
*This step is essential, because it makes the coconut water and cream separate and allows the cream to get nice and firm

Blueberry Topping:
5 Cups Fresh Blueberries
¼ Cup Water (I used some of the coconut water that I drained off the coconut cream)
1 ½ Tablespoons Cornstarch (or Arrowroot)
3-5 Tablespoons of Honey or Agave, depending on the sweetness of your berries

For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly mix together all the crust ingredients. Press the crust into your tart pan. Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden. Let the crust cool completely.

For the Whipped Cream Filling:
Open the cans of coconut milk, drain off the liquid coconut water, reserve for another use. Place the solid coconut cream in a large bowl along with the honey and rosewater (if using). Use a hand mixer to whip the coconut cream until it is light and fluffy. Transfer the cream to a container, and refrigerate it until you are ready to assemble the tart.

For the Blueberry Topping:
Place 1 cup of berries, 1 tablespoon of water and honey in a saucepan. Let the mixture cook over medium-low heat until the berries burst. In a separate cup, whisk together the cornstarch and remaining 3 tablespoons of water. Add the cornstarch mixture to the berries, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens (about 1 minute). Turn off the heat, gently add the remaining berries, and coat them with the cooked berries sauce. Transfer the berries to a container, and refrigerate them until you are ready to assemble the tart.

Assembling the tart:
Once the crust is completely cool, spread the coconut cream evenly over the bottom of the crust, then evenly distribute the berry topping over the coconut cream. Cover the tart with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it until you are ready to serve it (the cream gets melty if it is left at room temperature for a long time).

I hope you enjoy this treat as much as I did!

Side Note: I made this to take to a dinner party with some of my best friends and fellow grad students. Two of my wonderful friends Vagisha and Erik are about to depart on major research trips to Sri Lanka and Kenya, so this dinner was the last time I’ll see them for a while. I love you both, please be careful!

As usual, I've also included this recipe as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Blueberry Heaven

We had a wonderful weekend – so wonderful I was really sad to see it come to an end. One of the highlights was visiting Garwood Orchard in LaPorte, Indiana to pick some fresh produce. We ended up picking 10 pounds of luscious blueberries.

It was such a peaceful and lovely morning – we got there bright and early, so we had the field all to ourselves, and of course we got to scout out the best berries!

We also picked a few pounds of green beans and purchased some heirloom tomatoes, kirby cucumbers, sweet corn, and new potatoes.

Alfred is ready to go back this weekend! While we probably won’t make it back that soon – we’re definitely going back in the fall when they’ll have over 2 dozen varieties of apples to choose from. The trees are already full of apples!

We froze most of the blueberries – though I’ve been enjoying some with my breakfast each morning. My favorite option is to mix together 1 small ripe banana mashed, 1/2 Cup of old fashioned oats, and enough milk (I use almond) to cover the oats. I let this soak overnight or for an hour in the morning while I workout. When I'm ready to eat, I microwave the oats for 3 minutes then stir in a handful of blueberries and a handful of toasted walnuts! It's a great way to start the day.

I also made my sweetie a loaf of blueberry bread this morning – it must be good because he’s eaten nearly half of it already!

Blueberry Oatmeal Streusel Bread

Dry Ingredients:
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
2 Tablespoons Flax Seed Meal (optional)
3 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:
2 eggs
¼ Cup Oil (I used Olive Oil)
¼ Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
¾ Cup Milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 Cup packed light brown sugar
1 ½ Cups Blueberries

2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil, softened (could sub butter)
½ teaspoon Cinnamon
¼ Cup Brown Sugar
¼ Cup Flour

1)Preheat oven to 350 degrees, lightly oil a loaf pan
2)Combine the streusel ingredients, set aside
3)Sift together dry ingredients
4)Thoroughly combine wet ingredients, except the blueberries
5)Gently, but thoroughly, combine the wet and dry ingredients
6)Fold in the blueberries
7)Pour the batter into the prepared pan
8)Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the batter
9)Bake 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
10)Allow the bread to cool in the pan 15 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool

Expect many more blueberry recipes in the near future. In the meantime, here’s a great gluten free cake featuring blueberries, and some lovely gluten-full blueberry banana muffins.

As usual, I've also included this recipe as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays ,Tuesdays at the Table, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Zucchini Bread and Oatmeal

This week Alfred requested I bake him some zucchini bread. I’m all for baking him things that include fruits and veggies, but zucchini bread often includes a massive amount of oil and way too much sugar. So, of course, I baked him a healthier version with less oil and sugar, and more whole grains. He said it was the best thing I’ve ever baked – he literally inhaled it, making sure to get every crumb off his plate – and he requested a loaf a week for the rest of zucchini season. That’s a pretty strong endorsement! (In case you're not familiar with zucchini bread, this sweet quick bread doesn't taste like zucchini. The zucchini makes the bread moist and tender.)

By the way – we ran out of zucchini the day before his request, but being the loving wife that I am, I rode my bike in the rain to the farmer’s market on my way home yesterday. It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time! Once I accepted that I was going to get wet, I embraced it fully, plowing through every puddle wearing a great big smile!

I purchased a really big zucchini – far more than I needed to make 1 loaf of zucchini bread - it was a whopper! So I decided to incorporate some of the zucchini into my breakfast this morning. A while back I came across a recipe for Zucchini Bread Oatmeal – the idea sounded intriguing because back in my gluten-ful days I loved zucchini bread, I still love oatmeal, and I’m always looking for ways to get more veggies into my breakfasts. I departed a fair amount from the original recipe, using a method for cooking oatmeal that is purely fruit sweetened, but oh so satisfying!

Healthier Zucchini Bread

Dry Ingredients:
¾ Cup All Purpose Flour
¾ Cup Whole Wheat Flour
2 Tablespoons Ground Flax Seeds
½ teaspoon Baking Soda
½ teaspoon Baking Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
¼ teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
¼ teaspoon Salt

Wet Ingredients:
2/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Egg
¼ Cup Oil (I always bake with olive oil)
¼ Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
½ Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 Cup grated Zucchini

½ Cup Chopped Nuts (I used pecans)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees, lightly oil or spray a loaf pan
2) Sift together the dry ingredients
3) Combine all the wet ingredients except the zucchini, and then stir in the zucchini
4) Use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to thoroughly, but gently, combine the wet and dry ingredients
5) Fold in the chopped nuts
6) Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
7) Let cool in pan 5-10 minutes, then remove from pan
8) Eat Up!

Zucchini Bread Oatmeal (makes 1 serving)

½ Cup old fashioned oats
½ Cup shredded zucchini (approximately)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
Milk of choice (I used almond milk)
3-4 large dates, finely minced
Handful of chopped nuts (I used pecans)

In a microwave safe bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the nuts. Use enough milk to just cover the other ingredients. Cover the bowl, refrigerate the mixture and allow it to sit overnight (optional – but it helps the dates release their sweetness into the milk and the oats get really nice and soft). When ready to eat, microwave the mixture for 3 minutes, stir, add more milk and cook longer if necessary. Top with chopped nuts. Get ready for a real treat!
*Of course, you could cook this on the stove top if you prefer. Plan for it to take about 10 extra minutes.

Not only was this yummy, it kept me full until lunch!

Other purely fruit sweetened oatmeal employing the same general method:
Banana Nut Bread oatmeal – combine 1 small ripe banana diced, oats, milk of choice, dash of vanilla extract, walnuts
Apple Pie oatmeal – ½ large or 1 small sweet apple (such as fuij) diced, oats, milk of choice, ground cinnamon and cloves to taste, pecans

**These aren't the most photogenic treats, but I guarantee you they are yummy!

As usual, I've also included this recipe as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fiesta Food for the 4th

Happy Independence Day everyone (though I heard on NPR today that we should really be celebrating our independence on July 2nd, not the 4th)! I must say we've had an absolutely wonderful weekend and I'm sad it has to come to an end. Lots of lovely walks, bike rides, a picnic, and shopping for some magnificent produce at the farmer's market. Of course, enjoying good food was a big part of our weekend - who am I kidding it is a big part of everyday for us! We live to eat :).

Alfred is typically the weekday chef (I know I'm such a lucky girl!) but on the weekends I love to get in the kitchen - both because I love to cook and because I like to treat him to something extra special. This weekend he requested chicken tacos. I happily obliged, putting a little twist on the "taco" part by pairing saucy chipotle seasoned chicken with sauteed onions and bell pepper, guacamole, lots of shredded lettuce and arepas. Needless to say we departed quite a bit from the traditional 4th of July BBQ, our meal was more of a multi-cultural celebration!

This was my first time making arepas, and I'm happy to report they were both very easy and very tasty! In case you aren't familiar with arepas, they are a Colombian dish perhaps best described as a thick cornmeal patty cooked on a griddle - kind of like an extra thick corn tortilla. They are crunchy/chewy on the outside, but soft on the inside. Because they are rather thick, they are often split open and stuffed with various fillings including cheese and black beans. We didn't split ours, we just piled on the toppings and stuffed our faces!

Arepas hot off the griddle - come and get um!

My inspiration for making arepas came the last time I visited a Hispanic grocery store and by chance came across a bag of masarepa - the key ingredient in making arepas. If you don't have a Hispanic grocer in your area, you could also use masa harina - the key ingredient in making corn tortillas. Masa harina is available near the hispanic foods in just about every grocery store.

Now on to the recipes (enough for 2 hungry people):

Spicy and Saucy Chicken
1 large bone-in chicken breast, cooked and meat shredded
3/4 of a large onion quartered and sliced (save the other 1/4 of the onion for your guacamole)
1 bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
From a can of chipotles in adobo: 1/4 Cup Adobo sauce plus 2-3 chipotle peppers finely minced
1/2 Can diced tomatoes with their juice
1 teaspoon Ancho Chilli Powder
11/2 teaspoons Ground Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Ground Oregano
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
(**These spice amounts are all approximations, taste and add more if you need to)
Salt to taste

1) Heat a medium-sized pot over medium heat, coat it with a little olive oil, add the onions and pepper, saute the veggies until the the onions are translucent
2) Add all the remaining ingredients to the pot, cover and let simmer over low heat while you prepare the arepas.

1 Cup Masarepa or Masa Harina
11/2 Cups Warm Water
1/2 teaspoon salt
*Sometimes cheese (up to 1 cup shredded) is mixed into the dough, since I don't eat dairy I skipped this

1) Combine all of the ingredients and let sit for 5 minutes (you can whip up the guacamole - recipe below - while you are waiting)
2) Form the dough into 8 patties about 1/2 inch thick.
3) Heat a non-stick griddle over medium heat, coat the griddle with a little olive oil (I used a pastry brush to just barely coat the pan - using butter would make these more authentic).
4) Working in batches, cook each of the patties 5-7 minutes per side, until they are golden brown.

1 Large Haas Avocado, flesh mashed
1/4 Onion, finely minced
2 Garlic Cloves, finely minced or pressed
Large handful of Cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 small lime
Salt and Crushed Red Pepper to Taste

Thoroughly combine all ingredients, cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Now put it all together:

Top the arepas with the chicken and/or guacamole, serve with plenty of crunchy shredded lettuce and enjoy the incredible yumminess of it all! This is meant to be enjoyed with your hands, so leave the forks in the kitchen and just dig in!

Enjoy the rest of your fourth! I'm pretty sure I'll be asleep before the fireworks start - I've become quite the old fuddy duddy :).

As usual, I've also included this recipe as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays and Tuesdays at the Table. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!