Friday, July 31, 2015

Ice Cream Sundays

We sat around our outside table finishing dinner when I asked my kiddies if there was something that sticks out in their minds about this summer.  I wasn't surprised when the first two things that came to their minds were lemonade and homemade ice cream.

I decided at the beginning of the summer that I was going to try and make a new flavor of ice cream every week to eat on Sunday night.  We've had a couple times when we've had to eat our ice cream a day early or a day late because of a family vacation, but otherwise Sunday has become our designated ice cream day and one we all look forward to each week.

I love that food creates memories.  Homaro Cantu said, "Most of us have fond memories of food from our childhood. Whether it was our mom's homemade lasagna or a memorable chocolate birthday cake, food has a way of transporting us back to the past."

I hope that when my kiddies are grown and have families of their own they will remember that one summer when mom made homemade ice cream every week and my favorite flavor was...

Sour Cream Cherry Ice Cream                                                                                                           

1 pound pitted and quartered cherries
1 vanilla bean, seed scraped
6 ounces sugar (scant 1 cup)
Juice from 1 lemon
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (or 2 tablespoons Amaretto)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 16-ounce container sour cream
1 cup heavy cream

In a medium saucepan combine the cherries, vanilla seeds and pod, sugar, salt, and lemon juice.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat and let it gently boil for 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the almond extract (or Amaretto).  Remove the vanilla bean pod.  Let cool for to room temperature.

In a large bowl combine the sweetened condensed milk, sour cream, heavy cream, and cherry mixture.

Thoroughly chill the ice cream base before churning according the manufacturer’s instructions.  Once churned place the ice cream in the freezer for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Recipes adapted ever so slightly from Not Without Salt

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sweet Potato Wedges with Avocado Chimichurri

I have a portable filing cabinet that houses all the recipes that I've gathered over time and it's heavy, really heavy.  The recipes are separated into categories (breakfast/breads, sweet treats, main dishes etc.) and then split into two separate categories of "have made" and "haven't made, but want to."  Often a recipe that I find ends up in the "haven't made, but want to" category and stays there for quite some time.  Other times I find a recipe that I immediately know that I have to make very soon, like right now soon.  These sweet potato wedges with avocado chimchurri fell into the make me right now category.   

After a quick trip to the grocery store I found myself in a place where I feel most comfortable, the kitchen.  I don't have amazing knife skills, but my knife feels comfortable in my hand (sometimes too comfortable).  In no time at all I'm breathing in the smells of fresh lime juice, cilantro, jalapenos, vinegar, and garlic that fill my kitchen and I feel happy inside.  As I toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil and smoked paprika I watch my fingers turn a burnt red color from the paprika. 

Before I pull the sweet potatoes from the oven I quickly halve two avocados and take a moment to admire their lovely green color (it never gets old).  I quickly dice the avocados into a bowl and add a large spoonful (or two) of the chimichurri and give it a gentle mashing.  I take a bite and my heart skips a beat, I am in heaven.  The avocado chimichurri is creamy, bright, and fresh with a little heat.  I pile the sweet potatoes hot from the oven onto a plate and watch my finger quickly sprinkle them with cilantro.  I immediately knew I needed to share this deliciousness with someone and my husband just happened to be upstairs.      

He may have been a bit surprised when I handed him a plate of sweet potato wedges instead of a sandwich for lunch, but not that surprised because he knows me well and will happily share a plate of sweet potato wedges and avocado chimichurri with me for lunch.

Sweet Potato Wedges

3 medium sweet potatoes
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Avocado Chimichurri

1 large garlic clove
2 green onions, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 jalapeno, stemmed and roughly chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, lightly packed
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, lightly packed
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 ripe avocados

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Wash and dry the sweet potatoes and cut them into 1 1/2" wedges.  Place the sweet potato wedges and cornstarch into a large Ziploc bag and toss to coat.

Dump the wedges onto a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil, smoked paprika, and salt.  Toss everything to coat with your hands and spread wedges into a single layer.  Bake in the upper third of the oven for 30 minutes or until the edges are just browned.

While the sweet potatoes are roasting, prepare your sauce.  Place garlic, green onions, and salt into the bowl of a food processor and run until well chopped.  Add the jalapeno and pulse a few times to chop.  Add the cilantro, parsley, vinegar, lemon juice, and oil and pulse a few more times until roughly combined.  Dice the avocados and put them into a mixing bowl.  Add a few spoonfuls of the chimichurri and gently mash it into the avocados (I like to leave mine chunky), adding more chimichurri to taste.

Recipe barely adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Death By Chocolate Granola

Oh my! Oh my! I am in big trouble!  This chocolate granola is insanely good, insanely chocolatey, and I can't stop eating it!  I spied this recipe on Pinch of Yum last week and knew I had to make it and eat it soon.  I've made chocolate granola before and loved it, but the chocolate chips, coarse salt and sugar sprinkled on after baking in this recipe had me sold. (I'm a sucker for a sprinkling of good coarse salt.)  Be warned that this granola is extremely addicting!  (Tonight after my kids go to bed I'm going to fill one of my glass jars up with this granola and ice cold milk and plant myself on the couch and watch The Voice.)

Death By Chocolate Granola
3 cups rolled oats
1 1/4 cup sliced raw almonds
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
Coarse sea salt (Fleur de sel or Maldon are my favorites)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
In a medium bowl combine oats, almonds, coconut, cocoa powder, and espresso powder.
Whisk the coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla together.  Pour over the oat mixture and stir to combine.  Spread the granola on a large baking sheeting in an even layer.
Bake for 50 minutes without stirring (no stirring=better clusters).  Rotate the pan halfway through baking.  After 50 minutes, sprinkle the cup of chocolate chips over the top of the granola and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes until the chocolate chips are soft and melty. 
Remove granola from oven and sprinkle with turbinado sugar and coarse salt to taste.  The sugar and salt should stick to the melty chocolate chips. Mmmmm!
Let the granola cool for 1-2 hours (It was during this cooling process that I couldn't not stop snacking).  Gently scoop the granola into an air tight container and try not to consume in one day.
Recipe slightly adapted from Pinch of Yum 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Homemade Ginger Ale and Taco Bowls

About a month ago Todd and I went to dinner at Communal in Provo.  A neighbor friend highly recommended their homemade ginger ale and I can say without reservation that after my first swig I was officially obsessed.   

After a couple of weeks of ginger ale on the brain it was time to make my own version at home.  The recipe I found makes a ginger ale that is refreshing, light, and leaves a slight burn in the back of your throat; it's perfect and was the perfect thing to wash down our taco bowls inspired by Smitten Kitchen.

I love making a meal that has no meat, but is completely satisfying, delicious and leaves no one complaining (except for Noah who doesn't like rice. (Who doesn't like rice?)). 

I am also obsessed with anything I can top with sour cream, diced onions, pickled onions and jalapenos, cheese, avocado, and cilantro (oh and some crunched up tortilla chips).

This meal came together in a flash thanks to my handy, dandy pressure cooker that makes cooking brown rice a snap.  Without the pressure cooker it would still be a breeze it would just add a little extra cooking time for which ever grain fits your fancy. 

Homemade Ginger ale

1 1/2 cups peeled, diced ginger (7 ounces)
2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
Chilled club soda
Fresh lime juice

Cook ginger in water in a saucepan at a low simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.  After 45 minutes, turn off heat and let steep, covered, for 20 minutes.

Strain ginger/water mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing on ginger.  Discard ginger and return liquid to saucepan.  Add sugar and a pinch of salt.  Heat over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved.  Chill syrup in a covered jar until cold.

To assemble ginger ale, gently mix together 1/4 cup ginger syrup, 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, and 3/4-1 cup chilled club soda.  Pour into a cold glass jar with lots of crushed ice and a squeeze of fresh lime.

Recipe from Epicurious

Red Bean and Green Grain Taco Bowl

2 fresh poblano chile peppers
1 cup cilantro leaves (I just chopped off the leaves and a few stems from one bunch)
1/2 large white onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
*3 cups water (amount needed for wheat berries, adjust if needed)
*1 cup uncooked wheat berries
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 finely chopped chipotle from a can
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup water
2 15-ounce cans small red beans, drained and rinsed
Kosher salt to taste

Minced white onions
Pickled onions
Pickled jalapenos
Shredded Cheese
Sour cream
Sliced Avocado
Crunched up tortilla chips

In a blender, combine poblanos, cilantro, onion, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher with a splash of water and puree until smooth.  In a medium saucepan, combine wheat berries, 3 cups of water, 3/4 of green poblano puree and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 1 hour or until grains a chewy-tender.  Add remaining green puree and cook 5 minutes more.

In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until sizzling and fragrant.  Add chipotle, cumin, oregano, and tomato paste and cook together for one minute.  Add water, beans, salt to taste, and bring to a simmer.  Cook for 10 minutes on low.

To assemble, add a scoop (or two) of beans and grains side by side to a bowl.  Top with whichever topping float your boat (I say go big or go home, but my kiddies think otherwise).

*I used brown rice instead of wheat berries because it is what I had.  I cook my brown rice in a pressure cooker because it's faster and I use 2 1/2 cups water, 2 cups brown rice, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and for this recipe I added 3/4 of the green poblano puree.  Right before serving I added the remaining puree.

Recipe barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Lunch for Two

Todd works from home unless he is meeting with a client.  This gives us the chance to each lunch together every few days, it's pretty great.  Usually our lunch consists of turkey sandwiches with pickles, cheese, and mustard (extra mustard on the side for me please) and some sort of fruit (clementine’s) and vegetable (carrots and cucumbers).  Usually once a week I try to make something other than the standard turkey sandwich or leftovers (I eat a lot of leftover for lunch).  Last week I made Cookie and Kate's spicy kale and coconut stir fry and I'm obsessed.  Todd and I joked that this stir fry was like his bag of potato chips because I could not stop taking bites.  I ate the leftovers for lunch the next day and made it again yesterday to share with a neighbor.  Hurray for delicious healthy food!
Spicy Kale and Coconut Stir Fry
2 tablespoon coconut oil
2 eggs, beaten with a dash of salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 red bell pepper julienned
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
5 Brussels sprouts very thinly sliced
1 medium bunch kale, ribs removed and leaves finely shredded
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
2 cups cooked and chilled brown rice
2 teaspoons reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
2 teaspoons sriracha
1 lime halved
Fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Once the pan is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles on contact, add 1 teaspoon oil.  Pour in the eggs and cook until the eggs are scrambled and lightly set.  Transfer the eggs to an empty bowl.  Wipe out the pan with a paper towel.
Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the garlic, onions, and additional vegetables.  Cook, while stirring until the vegetables are just tender.  Add the kale and salt.  Continue to cook, stirring frequently until the kale is wilted and tender.  Transfer the vegetable mixture to the bowl with the eggs.
Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the pan.  Add the toasted coconut flakes and rice and cook,
stirring frequently, until the rice is hot.
Pour the vegetables and eggs back into the pan.  Add the tamari and sriracha.  Stir to combine and break up any large clumps of scrambled egg.  Squeeze the juice of half of a lime over the dish and stir to combine.  Pour the stir fry onto a serving plate and garnish with fresh cilantro.  Serve with lime wedges and extra sriracha for those who like it extra spicy.
Recipe slightly adapted from Cookie and Kate

Monday, February 2, 2015

Maple Spiced Whole Wheat Banana Bread

Monday and Friday mornings I'm up before the crack of dawn.  Noah has basketball practice at 5:45 am and because Todd is the assistant coach he goes with Noah.  I normally don't leave our house until 5:40 am, but because Preston is not in love with the idea of being home alone with just Stella in the wee hours of the morning my alarm goes off at 4:20 am on basketball practice mornings.  This gives me enough time to run and be back as Todd and Noah are leaving for practice.  4:20 am is early, really, really early, but I kind of have a love-hate relationship with being up at that time of day.  I'm tired, yes, but I really like being done and home from running by 5:45.  It's amazing what you can accomplish in the early hours of the morning.  The past couple of Friday mornings I've made this banana bread and my house smells heavenly by 7 am and no one except Preston complains when we get to have warm banana bread for breakfast.  (Noah usually grabs a thick slice with a great deal of butter on it (can you guess what books Stella and I have been reading...Mercy Watson) as he hustles out the door to catch the bus for school.)  

Maple Spiced Whole Wheat Banana Bread

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 eggs
1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 large bananas)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup hot water
1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan and line with parchment with parchment overhanging the edges of the pan.

In a large bowl, beat oil and maple syrup together.  Add eggs and beat well.  Stir in vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom.  Add bananas and mix until just combined.   

Add baking soda to hot water, stir to mix.  Add to the baking soda water to the banana mixture and mix to combine.  Next, stir in the flour until just combined. Stir chopped chocolate into batter.  Be careful to not over mix.  Spread batter into greased loaf pan and sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until the bread is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Let the bread cool for 5 minutes before removing it from the pan.  Let cool for 30 minutes before slicing if you can wait that long (we couldn't).

*This recipe is inspired by Cookie and Kate's whole wheat banana bread

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Chocolate-Mint Cashew Milk

My kiddies (husband) gave me a Vitamix for Christmas last year (2013) and it has been the gift that keeps on giving.  Oh I love my Vitamix!  It wasn't too long after I received it that I started trying my hand at making nut milks.  Cashew milk happens to be my favorite because of the whole not having to strain it ordeal.  Making cashew milk is quick (besides the soaking part) and easy and I love that all those soaked cashew pieces just blend right up into deliciousness that doesn't have to be strained in a nut milk bag.  (Did you know that a nut milk bag even existed because I didn't until I embarked on this nut milk adventure?)  Amen to no straining!  For the past few months I've been on a chocolate cashew milk kick that I just can't seem to quit.  I love having a jar of it tucked back in the coldest part of my fridge and sometimes when I get it out to take a swig, I have to stop myself from guzzling it down until it's gone.  Portion control right??  But sometimes it just tastes too good to stop!  Lately I've been adding a bit of mint extract to it and my kids seem to love it best this way and while I'm more of a straight up chocolate kind of gal, I do like the hint of mint to shake things up a bit.

Chocolate Mint Cashew Milk

1 cup raw cashew pieces
4 cups of water (plus more for soaking)
4 large pitted dates
3 tablespoons Dutch cocoa powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon mint extract (optional)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Soak cashews in water for at least 4 hours or overnight.  Drain cashews in fine mesh strainer and rinse well.  To a blender add the cashews, 2 cups of water, dates, cocoa powder, mint extract, and salt.  Start on a low setting and increase to high.  Blend until cashews are completely pulverized.  Blend in an additional 2 cups of water.  Pour into jars and refrigerate until cold.  Give a good shake before drinking. 

*This is the way I like it, but you can add more or less dates, chocolate, and/or salt to make it taste just how you want it to.
*I also like pouring the milk into 8-ounce jars with lids to make them the perfect individual sized portions for an afternoon snack or to grab and go if you're in a hurry, but still want a healthy and delicious snack.