Monthly Archives: October 2008

chai

Last night, I had a friend over for dinner that I haven’t seen in almost 20 years.  We had a hearty soup for dinner so I wanted something for dessert that was only mildly sweet  – and not too heavy. I came across this recipe for chai in the Culinary Institute of America’s Breakfast & Brunches.   I typically shy away from store-bought chai because it is most often overloaded with sugar. This was my first time making it, and it was delicious.  To be honest, I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I took my first sip….here’s my adaptation.

4 cups water
4 rooibos tea bags
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tblsp sliced fresh ginger
1 tblsp cardamom pods
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp whole cloves
1/8 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 vanilla bean, split down the middle
1/4 cup honey (4 tblsps)
3 cups non-dairy milk (I prefer almond milk here)

  1. Bring water to a boil in a larger size saucepan.
  2. Measure out spices and when water is at a rolling boil add them to the pot. Immediately reduce heat to low and let gently simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Set a fine mesh strainer over a large stainless steel bowl. Using some potholders strain chai mixture into bowl. You may have to do this twice to catch the fennel seeds. Pour back into cooking pot.
  4. Add the honey first then the milk. Bring to a boil, stirring so that it doesn’t burn. Turn off the heat and serve.  Makes about 6 adult servings.

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hazelnut cookies

I came across this cookie recipe in this months Eating Well Magazine. We eat a variety of nuts, but this is an awesome way to eat the less popular variety – hazelnuts.  They are nutritional power-houses:  a 1 ounce serving  contains almost 3 grams of fiber!  These heart healthy gems also contain potassium, magnesium, phosphorous and Vitamin E.  The batter is easy to prepare but they do require some attention during their baking time. The result is worth it though. They are soft and chewy – an uncommon feat for a gluten free, dairy free cookie.

2 cups hazelnuts
1/2 cup agave nectar
4 eggs whites
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp gluten free vanilla

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, baking racks as close to the center of the oven as possible.
  2. Pulse hazelnuts in a food processor fitted with an “s” blade until they form a dry coarse meal. 
  3. Add the agave nectar. Pulse a few more times so that the nectar is incorporated. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, place egg whites and salt. Using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
  5. GENTLY fold the nut mixture (a little bit at a time) into the egg whites by hand using a spatula.
  6. Add the vanilla. Continue to fold until vanilla is well mixed.
  7. Line the baking sheets with Silpat or unbleached parchment paper.
  8. Drop the batter by the tablespoonful – 2 inches apart on the paper.
  9. Bake the cookies until they are golden brown – about 25 minutes – making certain to rotate the cookies sheets halfway through baking (back to front AND top to bottom).
  10. Let cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

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Filed under baked goods, cakes/cookies, holiday

baked stuffed peppers

My mom used to make stuffed peppers all the time. I remember them fondly. I recall that her version was  always vegetarian – and they always tasted so good. I decided to change it up a little bit and use ground lamb. I rarely eat meat, but my husband and my daughter love it. This was so delicious, however, that I actually found myself slowly savoring each and every last bite. The tomatoes, red wine and lamb together are a great combination. If you are not a meat eater, I think aduki beans would work great here. They are an under-utilized red tapioca-sized bean adapted to a large range of recipes. Likewise, you could always substitute quinoa for the rice.

2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 onion, minced
2 tblsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
ground pepper to taste
8 oz ground lamb
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes handful of fresh basil
1 cup uncooked rice
2 cups water or chicken broth
1/3 cup red wine
1/4 cup water
4 bell peppers
optional– 3 to 4 tblsp shredded cheese per pepper

For the peppers: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice the tops off the peppers. Remove the seeds and white parts from the inside of the pepper. Wash thoroughly. 
  3. Place the peppers in an oven proof dish, season lightly with salt and bake for 20 minutes. Remove peppers and set aside.
  4. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees.

For the filling:

  1. Cook the rice according to instructions on the package. (I used Lundberg short grain brown rice cooked in 1 cup chicken broth 1 cup water). Set aside in a large bowl.
  2. Open the can of tomatoes, and pulse with the handful of basil in a food processor fitted with an “S” blade 4-5 times. 
  3. Pour tomatoes into a strainer set over a bowl and let drain (using a spatula to aid in the process) so that no juice is remaining.  Discard the juice. Transfer tomatoes to the bowl with the rice.
  4. Place the onion in the saute pan with the olive oil. Saute for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic and the salt & pepper. Cook another 3 minutes.
  6. Add the ground lamb and saute until there is barely any pink left – about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the rice/tomato mixture into the lamb mixture and stir well to combine. Pour in the wine and water and cover. Let simmer for about 20 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed. Side note: If you are using cheese, mix it into the rice/tomato/lamb mixture now – before spooning into the peppers.  
  8. Using an ice cream scoop, spoon the lamb mixture into the peppers. Bake for 25 minutes. 

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pumpkin cake

This year my son chose a pumpkin cake for his birthday. Instead of the typical blood-sugar-through-the-roof-frosting, I chose an organic no-sugar-added apple butter. Pumpkins and apples are a natural combination. I developed the recipe based on the fact that I was going to use the apple butter. As such, the cake by itself is not terribly sweet.  Topped with the apple butter though, it’s the perfect touch of sweetness. It’s moist and fluffy — uncommon for a gluten free cake. 

For the dry ingredients:
14 ounces gluten free flour mix
2  tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4  tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

For the wet ingredients:
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup coconut oil
3 eggs
1 tsp gluten free vanilla
2 cups organic pumpkin (I used canned)
1 cup almond milk or hemp milk

  1. Preheat oven to 325 for at least 15 minutes.  Oil two 8″ or 9″ round pans. 
  2. Sift the dry ingredients. Set aside. 
  3. On low speed, place agave and oil in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat, adding one egg at a time – until the color lightens.
  4. Add vanilla and pumpkin until well combined. 
  5. Alternating, add flour and milk a little bit at a time – mixing well between each addition. Halve the batter between the 2 oiled pans. Smooth out the top with a spatula.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes on a rack placed in the middle of the oven.

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carrot ginger soup

I used to indulge in eating the carrot ginger soup they sell at Whole Foods. Sadly, soups are notorious for having gluten in them. It’s used as a thickener. Today was the first real autumn-like day in Colorado. It was crisp –chilly enough that I had to put on a warm sweater. I find it so interesting that my body craves foods like soup as the weather turns colder. Today, all I could think about was the carrot ginger soup. So, I made a pot. Ginger is great. If ever you are chilly and just can’t get warmed up, go and peel yourself a piece of fresh ginger and eat it. Carrots are chock full of vitamin A.  Both of these foods aid in digestion, aid in easing menstrual symptoms and are cancer fighting foods. This soup can be eaten alone, paired with a side salad or eaten with a corn muffin, for dunking of course…

1 medium onion, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
1 celery stalk, minced
1 tblsp fresh ginger, grated
1 1/2 tsp Real Salt (kosher)
pinch pepper
6 cups carrots, sliced
1/2 tsp fresh or dried sage, minced
5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 tblsps honey 
1/4 coconut milk

  1. Mince onion, shallot and celery using the “grater” attachment of a food processor.
  2. Grate ginger using a box grater or mince using the “s” blade in your food processor. It’s not necessary to peel it – the skin is edible.
  3. Place olive oil in a stock pot over medium low heat and add the onion, shallot, celery and salt and saute for about 5 minutes. Add ginger and saute for about another 3 minutes.
  4. While the onion mixture is sautéing, place the “slicer” attachment in the food processor and slice the washed and trimmed carrots. Add them to the onion mixture and sweat the carrots for about 5 minutes. Sweating vegetables allows them to release their full flavor into the soup.
  5. Add the sage, broth and honey. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
  6. In two separate batches, puree the soup in a blender on high. Return to stock pot and stir in the coconut milk.

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international celiac awareness

October was formerly recognized as North American Celiac Awareness month. In order to be aligned with  the international celiac community, both Canada and the United States recently began recognizing May. It was viewed to be critical that celiac disease be higlighted internationally in May, a month in which other autoimmune diseases linked to celiac (like lupus, arthritis, diabetes, food allergies, etc.) are also noted.

In 2006, the United States Senate designated September 13 as “Celiac Awareness Day.”  Irrespective of when celiac awareness “day” or “month” takes place, it presents itself with an opportune moment to stop, and reflect about how we can spread the word about celiac disease, its symptoms, and how it affects so many unsuspecting Americans. There are a number of ways you can help: talk to your local grocer, media outlets, school districts, local leaders and doctors offices. There is a truly inspiring story about the difference one person can make here. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently launched a website for celiac awareness – a huge step toward promoting a source of information for those affected by the disease.  You’ll find the link here.  It’s good and straightforward information.

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mangorita

We were at a wedding in Key West this past summer and upon entering the reception gardens, they served mangoritas. I admit that I was unfamiliar with them until that point. But, they were really delicious and very refreshing on such a hot day. This weekend, I threw my husband a surprise party – and I decided that it would be fitting to serve the Key West mangorita for our guests. Although it’s not exact, I came very close. I suspect the difference is using fresh mango puree versus using mango juice. Since mangoes are out of season, I chose to use juice instead. I prefer Ceres 100% juice.  It’s from South Africa and it’s amazing. I first tasted it on my premier journey to South Africa to visit my husband while we were dating.  It became available in the U.S. about 18 months ago. 

2 oz 100% agave tequila
1 oz Cointreau (orange flavored liqueur)
1 oz orange juice
1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
4 oz mango juice (see headnote)

Mix all ingredients over ice in a shaker. Shake for 30 seconds. And pour into a glass. Garnish with lime wedge.

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