Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cranberry Nut Cake


I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas. We had a wonderful white Christmas, snowy but sunny, perfect for hiking. We spent the day walking in the snow, singing and whistling carols. We put a chicken along with lots of garlic, herbs, and veggies to roast while we were enjoying the great outdoors. For dessert I made Alfred a scrumptious, but not too sinful, cranberry nut cake. It's an excellent dessert option throughout the winter season, and it will stay nice and moist for several days at room temperature. Happy noshing and nibbling this New Year's!

Cranberry Nut Cake
2 Cups Flour (I use 1 Cup All Purpose, 1 Cup Whole Wheat)
1/4 Cup ground Flax Seed, aka Flax Seed Meal (or another 1/4 Cup Flour)
2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
2 teaspoon ground Ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground Cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Molasses
1/4 Cup Oil (as always, I used olive oil)
1/2 Cup Apple Juice (or cider or water or milk)
1 Cup Applesauce
1 Cup Fresh or Frozen Cranberries, chopped finely (a food processor is great for this)
1/2 Cup Chopped Nuts (I used black walnuts, but pecans or English walnuts would be good too)
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries
*Fresh Cranberries and Confectioner Sugar for Garnish (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a bundt pan with non-stick spray or a little oil and flour(if your pan has a very intricate pattern, take extra care in coating all the nooks and crannies).

2) In a medium sized bowl whisk together the flours, flax, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3) In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, molasses, oil, apple juice, apple sauce. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in the berries and nuts.

4) Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test!

5) Let cool in pan 5 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack or plate.

*If desired, dust cake with confectioner sugar and fill the center with fresh cranberries before serving.



As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays , Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Whatcha Makin' Wednesdays, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Great All-Purpose Peanut Sauce or Dip



This yummy concoction works well as a dip for veggies (I don't normally like radishes, but I really like them with this dip!) and grilled chicken or tofu, but it is equally good as a sauce for Asian flavored pasta or coleslaw. It also requires relatively few ingredients* and only takes a couple of minutes to whip up, making it is a great option for holiday parties. Happy Holiday Snacking!

Peanut Sauce or Dip
1/4 cup Peanut Butter (I used creamy and all-natural peanut butter, but you can use whatever you have on hand)
1/4 cup Coconut Milk (shake well before using and DO NOT use Light)
3-4 Garlic Cloves, pressed or finely minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh Ginger or 1/2 teaspoon dried Ginger
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce or Tamari
2 tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar (you can substitute lime juice if need be)
1 tablespoons Honey or Agave
1 teaspoon of Sriracha Chili Sauce or crushed red pepper (use more or less depending on how hot you like it)
Cilantro and/or Chopped Peanuts for garnish (optional)

Whisk together all the ingredients and then refrigerate the dip/sauce until you are ready to use it!

*While you may not be familiar with all of the ingredients, you should be able to find all of them in the Asian section of any grocery store.

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays , Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pomegranate and Cranberry Cream Tart


I LOVE this tart!!! It is delectable, pretty, and I can eat it without feeling horrible afterwards - that's right it is dairy free, gluten free, and refined sugar free! It is also quite easy to prepare, but festive enough for holiday parties. For those of you without dietary limitations - trust me you will not miss the gluten, dairy, or sugar!

Pomegranate Cranberry Cream Tart:

Crust:
2 Cups finely ground nuts or nut meal (I used almond meal from Trader Joe's)
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
5 Tablespoons melted coconut oil or olive oil (I used coconut 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

Pomegranate Cranberry Compote:
12oz. Fresh Cranberries (1 bag)
1 Large, Ripe Pear, peeled, cored and diced
2/3 Cup Pomegranate Juice
1/2 Cup Honey or Agave (plus more if needed)
1 Cinnamon Stick
1/4 teaspoon each Nutmeg, Cloves, and Ginger

Coconut Cream:
1 Can of Regular (NOT LIGHT) Coconut Milk, refrigerated overnight* (I like Thai Kitchen brand)
3 Tablespoons of Honey or Agave
*This step is essential, because it makes the coconut water and cream separate and allows the cream to get nice and firm

Pomegranate Seeds for Garnish (optional, but very pretty!)

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 Pomegranate Cranberry Compote:
Place all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, cover until the mixture comes to a boil. Then remove the lid and let simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally until the berries have burst open, the pears have broken down and the mixture is thickened - about 30 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick, and refrigerate until complete cool.

For the Coconut Cream:
Open the 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/agave. Use a hand mixer to whip the coconut cream until it is light and fluffy. Then, mix in the pomegranate cranberry compote.** At this point, you can taste the filling and add additional sweetener (honey or agave) if needed.

Assembling the tart:
Once the crust is completely cool, spread the pomegranate cranberry cream evenly over the tart shell. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over the top. Cover the tart with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it until you are ready to serve.



Happy Bellies and Holidays Everyone!

**I did encounter a bit of a snafu when making this. I originally intended to have a layer of coconut cream on the bottom of the tart and then the pomegranate cranberry compote on top of it - like in this blueberry cream tart. However, the cranberry mixture was quite thick, and when I tried to spread it on top of the cream, it started mixing with the cream, so I just gave in and mixed them together. It tasted wonderful, but I would like to try the two layer idea in the future. I think it might help to put the coconut cream in the tart and let it chill and get really nice and firm before putting the cranberry mixture on top - if anybody tries this, please let me know how it turns out!

Bonus fun fact - this is my 100th post!
As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays , Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Friday Foodie, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

I've also included this in a couple of special holiday recipe sharing events:
A Holly Bloggy Christmas Recipe Party
A Gluten Free Holiday: Holiday Desserts
Leafy Tree Top Spot's Holiday Recipe Link Party

*There are tons of great festive options to get your mouth watering on all of these sites - so definetly stop by if you get the chance!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Extra Creamy Hummus




I really really love hummus, and I've tried (and failed) many times to replicate the incredibly creamy dreamy hummus from one of our favorite little restaurants in Chicago's Irving Park neighborhood (Salam Restaurant on Kedzi - they have great falafels too!). In my quest for the perfect hummus I've used canned chickpeas, I've cooked my own, I've even laboriously peeled the "skin" off each individual bean! They were all good, but not great. A few months ago I came across a blog that proclaimed to have found the secret to creamy restaurant style hummus - you first combine the tahini and lemon juice until you have a thick white paste, then you puree in the chickpeas. The recipe called for more tahini than I usually use and an awful lot of lemon juice, but I went and gave it a shot. Long story short, it was inedibly sour! So, I started over, did a little tweaking and came up with a really tasty dip. I kept the extra tahini, scaled back the lemon juice, and added in some butternut squash puree.

To be honest, this is really nothing like the hummus from Salam restaurant, but it is yummy nonetheless! The squash adds a hint of sweetness and makes it really nice and creamy. Overall, it is a quick, easy, tasty, festive and healthy snack or appetizer - what more could one ask for? I like to eat it with an assortment of veggies for dipping - broccoli florets (I like to blanch these for just a few seconds), red pepper strips, carrot sticks, celery sticks, etc. Of course, for those who can eat wheat, pita bread would be a natural accompaniment too! Happy Holiday snacking!

Extra Creamy Hummus
1 (15oz.) Can Chickpeas, drained, but juice reserved - or 2 Cups Cooked Chickpeas
1/2 Cup Tahini
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup Butternut Squash puree - or pumpkin puree
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Cumin
Sea Salt to Taste (will depend on the saltiness of the beans you use)

In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients expect the chickpeas. Add in the chickpeas, pulse until thoroughly mixed in (it may be a little chunky still). Then, with food processor running, add in enough of the bean juice to achieve the desired consistency.
*This keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days.

As usual, I've also included this post as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays , Making Monday Marvelous, Just Something I Whipped Up, My Meatless Mondays, Just Another Meatless Monday, Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays , Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesdays, Friday Foodie, Family Food Fridays, and Friday Favorites. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!