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Friday, August 30, 2013

Peach Ice Cream (made with coconut milk & just a little dairy)!

It becomes more like a sweet peach frozen treat after several hours in the freezer! Eat it soon after making if you
prefer a smoother and creamier ice cream. It's wonderful either way! 
Well it is almost the end of August and summer is coming to a close. I had off for a couple months during the summer because I work for the school system, and I have been back to work for two weeks - although it seems like 2 months! The summer went by in a flash and I'm sure happy I only have a 3-day work week next week. One thing I always get sad about around this time of year (besides going back to work) is saying goodbye to delicious summer produce. Luckily our garden has still been producing tomatoes, but we have only picked one zucchini in the past weeks. Pretty soon we will stop being able to find as many tasty cherries, berries, peaches, figs, melons, and other summer favorites at the grocery stores and our local farmers markets will close for the season. I wish that I would have made more seasonal dishes this summer. I enjoyed eating the fresh produce but I definitely was not as creative and adventurous as I had planned to be in the kitchen this summer. The other night I decided to try out a peach ice cream recipe because I was craving ice cream & because a couple of my peaches were on the verge of going bad. I didn't have any whole milk or cream on hand, so I went with a coconut milk base. I made a banana coconut ice cream with coconut milk earlier this summer & loved it - so I gave it a try with the peaches.  I thought the ice cream was super yummy and it was the perfect treat to reward myself to at the end of a full work week. It is not too rich or sinful, because it is make with coconut milk and just a small amount of sugar. When it first comes out of the ice cream maker, it is smooth and creamy. However, it gets pretty solid after it is in the freezer for a while and it becomes more like a sweet peach frozen treat. I love it either way. Greg said he likes it better when it is smoother and creamier - so if you are like Greg, make sure to eat it before it gets too frozen! Enjoy.

Recipe for Peach Ice Cream with Coconut Milk

INGREDIENTS:
1 13.5 ounce can of coconut milk
1/2 cup of half and half
1/3 cup of granulated sugar
 2 - 3 ripe to very ripe peaches
1/2 tsp. of pure vanilla extract
A pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS:
Put the coconut milk, half and half, sugar, 2 peaches, vanilla extract, and salt into a blender. Process until smooth. Taste, and add another peach to the mix if you want your ice cream to be peachier tasting. Pour the mixture into a bowl and cover with a lid. Place in the fridge for about an hour to chill.
Pour chilled mixture into the bowl of an automatic ice cream maker and then make according to manufacturer directions. It should be ready within 20 - 25 minutes. Serve immediately, or scoop into an airtight container and store in the freezer. This ice cream gets pretty solid if it is in the freezer for over a few hours, so if you like a smoother ice cream, serve soon after making.

Looking for other recipes that use peaches? I also love Peach KuchenHealthy Peach Smoothies.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Baked Chicken Taquitos

Mmm, baked chicken taquitos! This is one of my go-to meals when I'm not sure what to make for dinner. I have been making them for a couple years and they never disappoint. Baking taquitos is so much better than frying them - it is much healthier and there is barely any mess to clean up! These taquitos are filled with a slightly spicy and creamy chicken mixture. They are absolutely amazing. I usually serve them with some chips, salsa, sour cream, and avocado (or guacamole) on the side. If you don't have time to make the homemade salsa, just use a good jarred salsa in its place. This meal is fairly quick and easy - and absolutely delicious! Enjoy.

Recipe for Baked Chicken Taquitos

INGREDIENTS:
3.5 ounces of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
3 Tbsp. of super salsa (or your favorite jarred salsa)
1/2 Tbsp. of freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp. of chili powder
1/2 tsp. of cumin powder
A pinch of cayenne pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups of grated cheese (I usually use a blend of pepper jack & cheddar)
2 cups of cooked chicken, shredded
10 flour tortillas (6-inch)
Cooking spray or olive oil
Coarse sea salt
Avocado, salsa, sour cream (for serving)

DIRECTIONS:
In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese, super salsa, lime juice, chili powder, cumin powder, cayenne pepper, garlic, cheese, and chicken. Mix until ingredients are well incorporated.

Line a baking sheet with foil and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Heat the tortillas in a microwave for several seconds to allow them to soften so they are easy to work with. Spread 3 Tbsp. of the mixture down the middle of one tortilla, then roll the tortilla tightly. Continue filling tortillas until you have used all of the mixture. Place each one on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly oil or spray the tops of the taquitos with oil or cooking spray. Then sprinkle the tops of each one with just a tiny amount of coarse sea salt. Place in the oven and cook for 15 - 20 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Recipe Source: Annie's Eats

Looking for a vegetarian taquito recipe? These baked creamy vegetarian taquitos are totally amazing! 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fresh Fig Cheesecake

So, this isn't really made in a cheesecake pan and it does not use the typical oodles amounts of cream cheese (1 package compared to 4 packages) that is in cheesecake, but I'm not sure what else to call it. I know I can call it AMAZING! I found the recipe in a coupon catalogue for one of the grocery stores I shop at in Annapolis - the Fresh Market. I had been wanting to make it for quite some time, but I didn't have any figs. This past weekend we went to Costco with my parents, and my mom and I decided to split a container of fresh figs. Even with half the amount of figs, I still had close to 20! I ate a couple - and they were so good. I knew I wouldn't be able to eat them all before they went bad, so I made the recipe. Greg said the fresh fig cheesecake is a sophisticated and mature taste - and that it was really, really good. We served it for dessert the other night and our guests loved it. They said it was one of the most delicious and refreshing desserts they have ever had. This elegant dessert is super easy to make and it is the perfect late summer treat. Figs are in season right now (late summer through early Fall) & the dessert is also pretty light, since it doesn't have too much cream cheese or sugar.  Enjoy.

Recipe for Fresh Fig Cheesecake 

INGREDIENTS:
For the crust
1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tbsp. of granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. of salt
8 Tbsp. of very cold butter, cut into small cubes
2 - 4 Tbsp. of ice cold water
For the filling
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, slightly softened at room temperature
1 1/2 cups of part-skim ricotta cheese
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
8 - 10 fresh figs, sliced lengthwise
Honey (for topping each slice)

DIRECTIONS: 
For the crust
Put the flour, sugar, and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse a couple times to combine. Scatter the very cold butter pieces over the mixture. Pulse about 10 times, or until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs the size of peas. With the processor running, pour a tablespoon of the ice cold water through the feed tube. Let it run for a few seconds, then add another tablespoon of the water through the feed tube. The dough should form into a ball and leave the sides of the bowl. If it doesn't after about 10 seconds, add a little more of the water through the feed tube. Once it forms into a ball, turn off processor and gather the dough up with your hands and wrap it in plastic wrap or put it into a plastic bag and seal. Put into the fridge for 30 minutes. Wipe the food processor and blade clean, since you will be using again for the filling.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Take the dough out of the fridge and use your hands to evenly press it onto the bottom and up on the sides of a 9-inch pie pan.  Prick the dough all over with a fork (don't go all the way through the dough). Place in the oven and bake for 12 - 15 minutes, checking frequently to make sure the dough is not rising up. If it is, prick it down with the fork. Remove from oven and allow it to cool. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

For the filling
While the crust is cooling, make the filling. Put the sugar into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse a few times so that the sugar becomes a little finer, but not powdery. Add in the cream cheese, ricotta cheese, and beaten eggs. Turn on food processor and run for several seconds, until mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture into the cooled pie crust. If the pie crust is still warm, transfer the mixture to a container and store in the fridge until crust is cool enough. Then put pie with filling into the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Arrange the fig pieces on top. Place back in the oven and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the top is just starting to brown and just firm in the center. Remove from oven and allow it to cool completely. Then cover and place in the fridge for a couple hours before serving.

Slice the fresh fig cheesecake into 8 pieces. Top each serving with a couple drizzles of honey. Yum!

Recipe Adapted from: The Fresh Market Inspirations

Monday, August 12, 2013

CPK-Style Miso Salad


A good friend and I have been getting together at the California Pizza Kitchen for lunch twice a year to celebrate our birthdays. Last year when we got together, we found out that our favorite California Pizza Kitchen salad had been taken off the menu! We had been getting the Miso Salad for many years. At first the salad came with shrimp and crabmeat, and then it just came with shrimp...and then it didn't come at all. How devastating! The last time we went, I ordered something different and recreated it at home - that was the quinoa salad with arugula. My friend and I decided that we should try to recreate the Miso Salad too. We finally got around to getting together last Friday afternoon. We both found a couple recipes on the web, and we ended up adapting from this recipe. I couldn't find white miso paste, so I settled on brown miso paste. It did the trick! We used to always wonder why the salad was so expensive at the CPK, and now we know why - the ingredients are very pricey! But it was well worth it. We thoroughly enjoyed the salad. We left off the crabmeat too because we couldn't find a good price, but if you can find it cheap I'm sure it would be a nice addition to the salad. Backfin crabmeat would probably be best for the salad. The Miso salad is a beautiful salad full of crunch, yummy flavor, and health benefits. I can't wait to make it again! Enjoy.

Recipe for CPK-Style Miso Salad with Shrimp 

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups of frozen edamame (soybeans)
1 head of Napa cabbage
1/3 cup of cilantro leaves (stems removed)
1 Daikon radish (white radish), peeled
Me so hungry for Miso salad! 
2 medium carrots, peeled
1 very small red cabbage
2 medium cucumbers, peeled
2 avocados, cut into smallish cubes
Fried or baked noodles for topping
25 - 30 medium sized quick thaw & fully cooked frozen shrimp

For the Miso Dressing
1 Tbsp. of brown rice miso paste
2 Tbsp. of honey
1 Tbsp. of sesame oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. of rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. of canola oil
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)


DIRECTIONS:
Cook the edamame according to package directions to desired tenderness. Drain water and put into a small bowl. Allow to cool.

Wash the cabbages, carrots, cilantro, cucumbers, and radish thoroughly. Chop the Napa cabbage into desired sized pieces and then put into a large salad bowl. Add the cilantro to the bowl with the cabbage. Cut the radish into thirds and then put into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse a few times until it is chopped to desired size, then add to the salad bowl. Clean out the bowl with a paper towel to get any radish pieces out, and then slice the carrots in half and put into the processor. Pulse a few times until chopped to desired size, add to salad bowl, and clean out processor. Cut the tough end off of the red cabbage. Put it into the food processor (cutting down if necessary) and pulse until the cabbage is chopped to desired size (I like it chopped pretty small). Add the chopped red cabbage to the salad bowl. Clean out the food processor (you will be using it again for the dressing). Slice the cucumbers in half and then into quarters, and add to the salad bowl. Add the cooled edamame to the salad. Stir the salad so that all the veggies are incorporated.

Make the dressing. Add all the dressing ingredients to the bowl of the food processor. Pulse several times until the dressing is smooth. Taste and adjust ingredients as needed. This should make enough dressing for each serving of salad (1 Tbsp. of dressing per salad). If you want more dressing, double the recipe.

Thaw the frozen shrimp according to package directions (probably by running under ice cold water for several minutes).

Divide salad amongst plates. Top each salad with dressing and use a fork to toss. Then top each salad with avocado, noodles, and shrimp. Sprinkle each salad with a little salt and pepper, if desired. Although I like shrimp, this salad is still excellent without it. Leave if off if you are vegetarian or allergic to shellfish!

Salad serves 4 - 6. 

*If you want to do leftovers, you can save the salad for up to a couple days. Store in an airtight container in fridge. Do not save shrimp or cut avocado. Add fresh avocado slices and shrimp when you reserve. You can also save the dressing in an airtight container in the fridge.*

Recipe Adapted from: Tasty Kitchen

Thursday, August 8, 2013

How to Make Homemade Almond Butter

A few days ago I posted a recipe for zucchini brownies that do not have any flour, butter, sugar, oil, or egg. They are my favorite thing to make right now. On Monday night, we had three missionaries over for dinner. I made them Maryland crab cakes - a promise that I made to one of them a few weeks ago if he wasn't transferred to a different area. It was an expensive promise, but well worth it! For dessert, I wanted to keep it simple, so I decided on the zucchini brownies and some fresh berries. At the store, I couldn't find any almond butter. Seriously. I couldn't find anything at the store that I needed and I was so annoyed that I just didn't want to do any more grocery shopping. I remembered seeing a recipe for homemade almond butter, so instead of going to another store and buying the almond butter, I thought I'd try to make it. It worked out great & it was so exciting to see the almonds and other ingredients turn into almond butter. It's the little things in life. I used the homemade almond butter in the brownies instead, and I think it enhanced the flavor and they were even more amazing than usual. One of our dinner guests said they were seriously the best brownies he has ever had - I think he ate 5!

Making your own almond butter is a little cheaper than buying it. Plus, there is such satisfaction out of making it homemade! I think it tasted way better than almond butter that you can buy at the store. You'll love how your kitchen smells as the roasted almonds turn into the almond butter. Yum!

Recipe for Homemade Almond Butter

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups of whole almonds (you will roast them in the oven) - buy almonds at Sam's Club or Costco to save $$$!
1/3 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 tsp. of coarse sea salt

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the almonds on a baking sheet and spread them into a single layer. Put them into the oven and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow them to cool.
Then put the almonds, coconut flakes, and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Turn your food processor on and let it run for 7 - 10 minutes, depending on how creamy you want your almond butter. Scoop the almond butter into a container and let it cool slightly (it will get very warm in the processor). Then cover it with a lid and store in the fridge for up to a week. If you are making the almond butter to make the zucchini brownies, and you are making the brownies right away, there is no need to store the almond butter in the fridge.

Makes 1 cup of almond butter. 

Recipe Source: Delighted Momma

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Zucchini Brownies (No Flour, Butter, Sugar, Oil, or Egg)!



These brownies totally impressed me. I came across the recipe on Pinterest, and since I had a ton of zucchini from my garden, I decided to give them a try. They are incredible! Greg said they were a must for the blog. I think the brownies are just as good as any other brownie I have ever had, and if you are gluten-free or health conscious, these are a dream come true! The true test of the amazingness of the zucchini brownies came this past Friday night. After my sister-in-law and nephew picked up the girls (our nieces) from Camp Letts, they came for a visit. Camp Letts is just down the road from us and our nieces had spent two weeks there. We decided to go out for a sail together, but before we set out, the kids wanted a snack. Greg told me that I should give them the zucchini brownies, but that I couldn't mention to them that they were healthy and that they were filled with veggies (which definitely isn't one of their favorite things to eat). As they gobbled them down, I asked if they liked them, and they said yes - and asked if they could have more. After they ate their seconds, we spilled the beans to let them know that they ate brownies with zucchini! We had some more brownies last night after having my parents for dinner. They were also pretty impressed that they were made without all of the usual brownies ingredients. These brownies are my new favorite sweet treat to make. Because they have some chocolate in the batter, the brownies are not vegan. But they are gluten-free, healthy, and delicious! Make sure to put them into the fridge to harden before cutting and serving. Enjoy!

Recipe for Zucchini Brownies (No Flour, Butter, Sugar, Oil, or Egg)!

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 cups of grated zucchini
Zucchini brownies - healthy & delicious! I added decorative
sugar to celebrate how awesome they are. 
1 cup of store bought or homemade almond butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup of honey
1 Tbsp. of pure maple syrup
1/8 tsp. of pure vanilla extract
3/8 tsp. of baking powder
1/2 tsp. of baking soda
1 Tbsp. of cocoa powder (I used natural cocoa powder)
1/16 tsp. of salt
4.5 ounces of bittersweet chocolate (70%), chopped coarsely
1/2 cup of mini semisweet chocolate chips
Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease the bottom and sides of an 8 x 8 pan with butter or coconut oil (this will be the only butter or oil used in the entire recipe).

Combine the grated zucchini, almond butter, honey, and maple syrup in a large bowl. Use a mixing spoon and stir until ingredients are well incorporated. Add in the vanilla extract.

In a smallish bowl, combine the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Sift the ingredients together and then set aside.

Heat the bittersweet chocolate. Prepare a double boiler and heat the chocolate in a pan over simmering water. Stir constantly until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Set the melted chocolate aside and allow it to cool slightly (a few minutes). Spoon the melted chocolate into the zucchini mixture, and mix to incorporate well. Add in the cocoa powder mixture and stir well. Fold in the mini chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle desired amount of coarse sea salt over the batter (a little goes a long way - I used just a couple pinches). Put into the oven and bake for 35 - 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway during baking.

Remove from oven. Allow them to cool completely at room temperature. Cover with foil and put into the fridge to harden for a couple hours before cutting and serving.

*Makes about 16 brownies*

Recipe Adapted from: Delighted Momma, originally from Fast Paleo