Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cracked Nut Butter Copcycat Recipes: Brownie Batter Nut Butter and Cinnamon Roll Nut Butter

I do not have pictures... but I felt that I needed to get these recipes out into the world!  I've never had Cracked Nut Butter, but people seem to love it!  When my friends placed a recent order for it, I decided to try making it myself, and although I've never had Cracked Nut Butter, I created two copycat versions that I think taste pretty darn good!  Try them and see if you agree!  I'd like to know what you think!

Brownie Batter Nut Butter

1 1/2 c raw almonds
1 1/2 c pecans
1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut

Process the above ingredients in a food processor until a smooth nut butter is formed.  Then add:

28 g chocolate whey protein powder (I used "Tera's Whey")
1 T cocoa powder
1 T coconut oil (melted)
1 T Ghee (melted)

Process again until uniform.

This tastes good straight out of the food processor but is even better after it has been refrigerated for at least a few hours!  I stored mine in a mason jar.

Cinnamon Roll Nut Butter

1 1/2 c raw almonds
1 1/2 c pecans
1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut

Process the above ingredients in a food processor until a smooth nut butter is formed.  Then add:

1 scoop (approx. 28 g) vanilla whey protein powder
1 T cinnamon
1 T coconut oil (melted)
1 T ghee (melted)

Process again until uniform.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cooking Class at Gervasi and Mole Recipe

Over the weekend, my mom, my sister and I took a cooking class at Gervasi Vineyards in Canton, Ohio.  It was an amazing experience... cooking in an industrial kitchen made me feel like I was on Top Chef, cooking in a quickfire challenge!  I had never taken a cooking class before and I was more than impressed by the facilities at Gervasi, the friendliness of the staff, and what a comfortable, fun atmosphere Chef Bob Sferra helped to create in the kitchen!  (Chef Bob owns a catering business in the Cleveland area, so if you live up there, check out his site by clicking on his name above!)  Based on the food we had 
today, his catering company has got to be phenomenal!

Chef Bob Sferra teaching us the ins and outs of cooking in a REAL kitchen!

At this point I think Kelli and I were scheming about which stations we wanted...

The class was called "Cooking with Chocolate."  With the help of Chef Bob Sferra and two assisstants from Gervasi, we were given the recipes for and learned how to make...

  • Bacon Wrapped Dates with Chocolate, Almonds, and Poblanos with Mole Sauce
  • Chocolate Stout Braised Beef
  • Parmesan French Toast with White Chocolate Sabayon
  • Pumpkin Sage Ravioli with  Milk Chocolate Sauce
  • White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Mousse

Chef Lori hard at work!  She's one of the best cooks I know!
We felt super cool in this kitchen!

Before we got started, Chef Bob explained what we would be making then let us choose our stations.  !My sister and I teamed up, and my mom joined up with another outgoing lady.  We were given the responsibility of making the white chocolate sabayon, and the white chocolate macadamia nut mousse, which I was pretty excited about because both required techniques I had never tried before.  I spent the last 20 minutes trying to figure out the names of the techniques we used but I can't for the life of me figure it out.  For the mousse, we mixed eggs with powdered sugar and Frangelico, placed it over a saucepan of barely simmering water, and whisked it until it became "frothy and warm", 160 degrees.  Then you whip the eggs, add a mixture of gelatin and whipping cream, add white chocolate melted with butter, and add already whipped cream.  Next you stir in chopped macadamia nuts.  Full disclosure: I tried everything we made, even the dishes with sugar and gluten.  GASP!  As my 2nd graders would tell me... YOLO (you only live once).  Don't ask me how second graders know of this saying or how a second grader could possibly understand the meaning of this phrase... I just don't know!  I digress...

For the sabayon, we used a similar technique to heat the eggs and sugar, but this time added a mixture of white chocolate, orange juice, and grand marnier, along with the whipping cream, to the egg and sugar mixture.  Man was it good...

So as we finished our two dishes, we got to see what everyone else was working on.  Watching the groups making the mole was awesome.  They got to char peppers, onions, and tomatoes over the grates of the stove, then simmer them with all kinds of herbs, spices, broth, nuts, dried fruit, and dried peppers.  The smell was heavenly, and the taste... well let's just say I could have eaten that mole sauce like soup.

We also got to try our hand at making homemade ravioli.  It was very therapeutic to send the dough through the pasta maker, fill the ravioli, wet the edges of the ravioli molds, and form the raviolis.  Labor intensive, but very therapeutic!  

White Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Mousse
Starting in top left corner, going clockwise: Chocolate Stout Braised Beef, Parmesan French Toast with White Chocolate Sabayon, Mole Sauce (we also made stuffed dates to eat with the mole, but those were appetizers and they went FAST!), Pumpkin Sage Ravioli with Chocolate Butter Sauce.

As everyone finished up making their dishes we all helped plate the food buffet style, and then could each get a plate with GENEROUS samples of everything we made that day.  Not only was the food amazing, but everyone in the class was very friendly and we enjoyed a relaxing and delicious meal with our new friends!  Chef Bob Sferra was an incredibly instructor, helping you with any question you had and making small talk like he's know you for years.  The kitchen became such a comfortable and friendly environment with him there to guide all of us.  His assistant were invaluable as well, always seeming to be right there when you had a question of needed help with anything.

I had such a great experience that I would highly recommend taking a cooking class at Gervasi.  Their new class offerings come out at the beginning of April (in a few short days!), so check their website to register for classes starting in the Fall (they take a break from classes over the summer, and the rest of the classes for April are already sold out!) http://www.gervasivineyard.com/Learn/Culinary-Classes

So I came home from the class and since I am on Spring Break this week, decided to recreate the mole we had in class.  I made a few changes to the original recipe but was very happy with how mine turned out!  Below I listed Bob's recipe as well as my own, with the changes.  I couldn't believe the depth of flavor in this sauce... I'm not sure I've ever made anything with so many "layers" of flavor.  On cooking shows, chefs always talk about those "layers" and I truly never knew what they meant until I tasted this mole.  The flavors come at you one by one, and it truly starts out herbacious from the cloves and star anise, then you get that hit of sweetness from the chocolate, and the heat from the peppers develops and lingers after you've taken a bite.  The multiple types of chili peppers, the spices, and the chocolate are apparently key characteristics of a Mexican mole.  To be honest, I don't think I had ever tried a mole before this class, but I'm sure glad I've had the experience and now have a solid recipe for it.  My life will never be the same...  No, but really, you've got to try this if you're a fan of spicy and have an even slightly adventurous palate.

I actually split the mole in half and only added chocolate to half of it.  I enjoyed the non-chocolate version just as much as the chocolate version.  Try both and see what you  think!

Yes, I know this is not the most appetizing picture but do not let it deter you from making the mole!  I should have taken a picture of all of the ingredients simmering in the pot.  But I didn't.... maybe next time.

Chef Bob Sferra's Chocolaty Red Mole

Makes about 3 cups of sauce

6 whole roma tomatoes
3 whole poblano peppers
2 whole onions, peeled (*I used sweet onions)
1 whole, fresh jalapeno pepper
1 T ground cinnamon
1 T star anise (*I used 5 stars)
3 whole dried red chili peppers (*I used 5 dried arbol chiles, found at Giant Eagle)
3 whole dried green chili peppers (*I used 1/4 c diced green chiles- I couldn't find dried green chili peppers)
2 whole dried chipotle peppers (*I used 2 dried ancho chiles, found at Giant Eagle)
1/4 c white sesame seeds
1/2 c canola oil (*I used grapeseed oil)
1/2 c sliced almonds
1/4 c golden raisins
2 cups vegetable stock/broth (*I used Kitchen Basics unsalted vegetable stock)
7 whole black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
1/4 c granulated sugar (*I omitted this)
2 T salt (*I used 1 T salt)
2 T fresh garlic, minced
1 c semisweet chocolate chips (*I used enjoy life chocolate chips)

*I altered the directions to what I did at home, adding some details that I learned in the class that were not written in the original recipe.  I also changed the directions for charring the vegetables since I don't have a gas stove that would allow me to char the vegetables over an open flame.

1. Heat your oven to 500 degrees.  Place tomatoes, poblano peppers, onions, and jalapeno on a foil lined baking sheet.  Roast for 10 minutes, then set your oven to BROIL and broil the veggies for 10 minutes, or until they they have a nice char on them.  

2. Meanwhile, mix together ALL of the other ingredients EXCEPT the chocolate in a large pot.  

3. Once the veggies are nicely charred, remove them from the oven, cut off the tops of the peppers and tomatoes, and cut the onions into quarters.  Add all of them to the pot.

4. Simmer everything over medium heat, covered, for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  You can take it off the heat once everything is softened (for me, the onions took the longest- so once your onions are soft, you're good to go).

5. Next, throw everything in the food processor and process until smooth OR (like I did) use an immersion blender to blend the ingredients until smooth. *My food processor is small, and I didn't feel like putting the mixture into the food processor in multiple batches.  
6. Finally, add the chocolate chips and stir in.  They will melt quickly because the rest of the sauce is so hot.

7. Store sauce in refrigerator for up to 1 month or freezer for up to 6 months or so.  (These are guesses- Chef Bob said they should store very well in the fridge or freezer!)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Indian Chicken and Vegetable Stew

Rem and I discovered the original recipe for this stew when we started experimenting with Indian recipes at home a few years ago.  Indian is one of our favorite cuisines and we love to try new Indian recipes!  If you're not the adventurous type or think you don't like Indian cuisine, this stew might be a good stepping stone for you because the flavors are sweet and warming but not too overpowering.  

The original recipe is a vegetarian stew, but we like meat in all of our meals, so we added chicken to the mix.  We also subbed chicken stock for some of the water, replaced the red potatoes with sweet potatoes, and added peas.  I can imagine many other meat/vegetable substitutions would be great as well! Just keep that onion, garlic, and spice mixture! 

This is a great recipe to make for a big group OR if you want to have a lot of leftovers because it makes a LOT.  We never have enough leftover to freeze, but it would freeze well!  

Indian Chicken and Vegetable Stew

(Makes 10-12 generous servings)
Adapted from Eating Well

2 lbs. chicken thighs, baked with cumin, coriander, garlic powder, salt, pepper

2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
3 large onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
10 good grinds black pepper

2 c unsalted chicken stock (I used Kitchen Basics brand)
2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 cups baby carrots, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 cups frozen peas
2 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 15 oz. cans fire roasted diced tomatoes

3/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped

whole milk, plain Greek yogurt for topping

The day before (or earlier in the day): bake chicken thighs then cut into bite-sized pieces.  Save for later use in the soup.  (You could also just use any kind of leftover chicken).  

To prep: Cut the onions (place in dutch oven), cut the sweet potatoes (leave on cutting board), and mix together the spices in a small bowl.  

Saute onions in large dutch oven or stockpot over medium high heat.  Cook until the onions begin to brown just a little.  Add garlic and saute 1-2 minutes.  Add all of the spices and saute 1 min longer.  

Next add the sweet potatoes, 2 c chicken stock and 2 c water.  Cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes.

Then add the carrots, frozen peas, garbanzo beans, and tomatoes.  The pot will be very full at this point.  Cover the pot again and turn the heat down to medium-low.  Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, or until the carrots and sweet potatoes are cooked through.  

When ready to serve, stir in the cilantro.  This is great served with plain Greek yogurt on top too!  

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Paleo Moussaka

When I studied abroad in Greece, I discovered an amazing dish called Moussaka. Traditionally, this casserole is made with spiced ground lamb, eggplant, potatoes, and a creamy milk and flour based bechamel sauce on top.  It is hearty and homey like a good lasagna but with a more "exotic" flavor set.  A few weeks ago, Rem discovered a recipe for a paleo moussaka on the blog Real Food Forager.  We adapted it slightly to make a LOT more and to use ingredients we had on hand.  We've actually made it twice in the past few weeks and it turned out fantastic both times.  The bechamel sauce is unreal. As you can see in the pictures, broiling the moussaka for the last few minutes gives the bechamel that crusty, delicious brown on top which is reminiscent of broiled cheese.  There is still some in the fridge that I may need to go eat right now...  By the way, this tastes great cold as well as piping hot.  Is it weird that I tend to eat all of my leftovers cold?  Does anyone else do that?

Before baking.

After baking.  Mmmm....

Paleo Moussaka

Slightly adapted from Grassfed Girl via Real Food Forager

2 T coconut oil
2 small onions of 1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt and pepper
2 lb. antibiotic and hormone-free ground turkey
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 6 oz. can organic tomato paste
1 15 oz. can organic no salt added tomato sauce
2 medium eggplants, skin peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces

2 cans full fat coconut milk
1/2 c arrowroot powder (I buy Bob'd Red Mill brand, which I have found at Kroger, Earth Fare, and Meijer)
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Melt coconut oil in large saute pan.  Add onions and garlic, saute 5 minutes. Add the ground turkey, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Cook, breaking up turkey, until ground turkey is cooked through. Add tomato paste, tomato sauce, and 1/2 can of water.  Stir and cook this for about 5 minutes more.
Meanwhile, grease 2 13x9 inch pans with coconut oil.  Peel and chop the eggplant into bite-sized pieces.  Place 1/2 of the eggplant pieces into each pan.  Then pour the meat mixture on top of the eggplant in each pan, splitting the amount evenly between the 2 pans.  

To make the bechamel sauce, mix 1 can of coconut milk with the 1/2 c arrowroot powder.  Pour of other can of coconut milk into a large sauce pan and heat until it starts to bubble (but not a full blown boil).  At this point, add the coconut milk/arrowroot powder mixture and whisk continuously until the sauce is very thick. Then remove the sauce from the heat, crack the 2 eggs into it, and whisk until the eggs are incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Pour the bechamel sauce over the meat mixture in each pan, splitting the amount evenly between the 2 pans.  

Bake both pans, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.  After 40 minutes, remove the pans from the oven, move the oven rack up one slot, and set the oven to BROIL.  Put the pans back in the oven and broil for 3-5 minutes or until the bechamel starts to brown (but not until it gets burnt).  Makes 8-12 servings.

Serve hot!  This also makes great leftovers.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Roasted Kabocha Squash

On this lovely Ohio snow day (Our 7th this year- what?!  At first I enjoyed these snow days but they're beginning to stress me out.  There is too much to teach and learn, and so little time!  Anyway, I digress...), as I was browsing through photos I've taken of recipes for this blog, I discovered some photos I had taken of kabocha squash and realized I never posted them!

A few years ago we were buying squash at Meijer when we discovered a type we had never seen before- kabocha.  It looks like a small, green pumpkin.  We took it home, looked up some ideas for preparing it online, and proceeded to make the BEST squash we had ever eaten.  When roasted in the way I will describe below, it is salty, rich, creamy, and downright addicting.  Be careful not to eat too much though... although the skin is perfectly edible, I have found out the hard way that eating too much of it is rather rough on the digestive system.  Just sayin'. 
Kabocha Squash

I've noticed that every kabocha squash I make has a slightly different flavor, and some turn out a bit drier than others, some creamier than others, and so on.  However, every time it has turned out DELICIOUS!

Roasted Kabocha Squash

1 kabocha squash (I can reliably find it at Meijer)
2 T coconut oil (or olive oil)
coarse salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with foil.  
Wash the squash.  Cut the stem end off.  Cut the squash in half down the middle.  Scoop out and discard the seeds and pulp.  Cut the squash into moon shaped pieces (approx. 1 in thick on the skin side, as pictured above).  
Melt the coconut oil on a heatproof plate (or just pour olive oil onto a plate). Rub one slice of squash in the oil, then rub another piece of squash onto the first to distribute the oil onto both pieces.  I know this sounds strange, but this is the method I've used since I starting make this squash and it works really well!  Really, just get some oil on the squash however you want!  
Place the squash slices onto the foil lined baking sheets and sprinkle with salt.  
Roast at 400 degrees for 20 min., then remove from oven, flip the squash, and bake for about 15 min. longer. When it's done, the squash should be soft enough to easily cut or pierce with a fork.  Enjoy!  Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  In my opinion, it's just as good cold as it is freshly roasted!  

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Baked Doughnuts For Everyone!

I hope those photos got you interested!  What you see above are almond joy doughnuts... some of the BEST doughnuts ever from a cookbook called Baked Doughnuts for Everyone.  I borrowed it from the library awhile ago because Rem requested doughnuts for his birthday in December.  That's when I made my first recipe from the cookbook: maple glazed doughnuts.  They were DELICIOUS!  After that I went on a doughnut hiatus, but I woke up today with a strong urge to make doughnuts again, and almond joy doughnuts sounded too good to resist.  I thought the maple glazed ones were good but these were even better.  Soft, pillowy, coconutty doughnuts with a sweet chocolate glaze.... and can you believe ALL of the doughnuts in this cookbook are gluten-free?  Ashley, the author of Baked Doughnuts for Everyone, also writes an incredible blog filled with gluten-free recipes called The Edible Perspective.  Check out the blog The Edible Perspective  for more great gluten-free recipes or buy/borrow the book Baked Doughnuts for Everyone.

Now if we have another snow day from school this week, I may or may not try to bake my way through the rest of the book...

P.S.  Thank you, dad, for the doughnut pan you got me for Christmas!  It is certainly coming in handy!  

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice

Although cauliflower rice is often considered a great paleo substitute for rice, it is also just a delicious side dish in it's own right!  We love eating this version with taco meat or grilled chicken, guacamole, and salad.  

Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice

1-2 T coconut oil
1 large head (or 2 small heads) cauliflower
1 small red onion or 1/2 large red onion, minced
1/2 c fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime

In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat the coconut oil on medium heat, then add the onion and saute until the onion begins to brown a bit.  Meanwhile, get out your food processor and use the grating attachment to "rice" the cauliflower.  It fills up the food processor pretty fast, so you'll need to do this in batches.  Once the onions are browned, add the riced cauliflower and cook 10-15 minutes or until soft.  Add lime juice, salt, pepper and cook 2 minutes more.  Then remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro.  Serve hot!