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My BIG FAT Grain Free Life: August 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Grown-Up Green Beans (Haricots Verts with Tomato, White Wine and Pecorino Romano)

Haricots verts [ar-ee-ko-vair'], also known as French green beans, are thin, delicate green beans which cook up tender and delicious.  Nowadays, it's pretty common to find them at supermarkets (including Costco and BJ's). 

My favorite, beautiful, "Italian" Food Network star, Giada de Laurentis, (see my thoughts on Giada's heritage) is the inspiration behind this recipe.  Her  Sauteed Green Beans with Tomatoes and Basil served with Parmesan Crisps is heavenly.  

This is my version.  Note below that I give the option of using canned diced tomatoes in place of the roasted tomatoes, but trust me, you'll LOVE the intense flavor and texture that the roasted tomatoes bring to this dish.  They are a cinch to make, practically cook themselves, and are easy to keep on hand in the freezer.  Would I lie to you??

Grown-Up Green Beans
(Haricots Verts with Tomato, White Wine and Pecorino Romano) 

Ingredients:
2 pounds French green beans (haricots verts)
extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced or minced
1 cup roasted tomatoes OR diced canned tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
sea salt & pepper
Pecorino Romano OR Parmesan, finely grated, to taste 

Instructions:
Wash and trim beans. Drain. In large saute pan with lid, steam until barely tender. You will saute them later, so don't overcook.

Drain again and plunge beans into a large bowl filled with cold water and ice cubes.  This will stop them from cooking and keep them a bright green color.

Meanwhile, in same saute pan on medium heat, add a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Saute garlic for a few seconds until fragrant.  Add roasted or canned tomatoes and white wine.  Stir and cook, uncovered, for a few minutes.  

Add beans back to pan and stir to incorporate into tomato and wine sauce.  Cover and cook for a few minutes until tender.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Making the Switch

Lexie from one of my favorite websites, Lexie's Kitchen, has been featuring people/families every Friday in her series called "Making the Switch" modeled after chef and author Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on ABC.  The families she features have made dietary changes from processed to whole foods.

The stories have been very encouraging and inspiring.  I hope our story helps someone out there who might be undergoing similar trials with their little ones...

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Honey Mustard Sauce (dairy free)


This sauce is wonderful schmeared on Chicken Burgers with Grilled Peaches, but would also be nice as a salad dressing, veggie dip, or sandwich spread.  Post in the comments and let me know how YOU might enjoy it!

Honey Mustard Sauce  

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons canola mayonnaise (or homemade)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey

Instructions:
Whisk all ingredients together.  Serve immediately or refrigerate.


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Chicken Burgers with Grilled Peaches and Honey Mustard Sauce


After a crazy busy day of chasing my tail, (long story, but thank you "Bobby" at the Honda place for laughing with me - or was it AT me?)

On that note, did you know that the newer Odysseys have this "safety feature" built in that only unlocks the driver door when you put it in park?  Safety? - or just a plot to drive busy moms nuts?  I learned about this after dropping my van off to have the passenger side lock "fixed" of this nuisance.  A little embarrassing to have Bobby walk in and announce to a moderately full waiting room "Mrs. E - there's nothing wrong with your door locks.  They're SUPPOSED to do that!")

Anyhoo, I had to cook dinner on the fly last night.  I wanted something different, easy and loaded with flavor ('cuz I was hungry and tired).  This recipe fell together and we all loved it - Let me know if you try it.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 

Here's a picture with the Honey Mustard Sauce schmeared on-


Chicken Burgers with Grilled Peaches and Honey Mustard Sauce

Ingredients:
2 lbs. ground chicken (not just white meat - I use Greenwise ground chicken from Publix)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
6 ripe peaches, halved and pitted

Instructions:
Preheat gas or charcoal grill. 

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together (except peaches) with a large fork.  (Don't use hands or it will make the meat tough.)

Carefully peel pitted peach halves.  (Try saying that 5 times fast...)  Lay each peach half on a cutting board, pit side down.  Slice each peach in half again horizontally.

Brush burgers with olive oil.  Grill until juices run clear.  Grill peaches until warm and starting to have nice grill marks.

Serve with Honey Mustard Sauce. 

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

White Bean Hummus

I've always LOVED hummus - lemony hummus, garlicky hummus, or red peppery hummus.  Even though we can no longer have gluten (nixing pita chips) or corn (nixing tortilla chips) hummus with fresh veggies satisfies my crunch cravings.

If you're not eating SCD and can tolerate chickpeas, I suggest the Ultimate Hummus recipe from one of my favorite sites, Cooks Illustrated

White Bean Hummus
Ingredients:
4 cups cooked white beans, drained (** See note below.)
2 large lemons, juiced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sesame tahini
1-2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed (start with 1)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin (** UPDATE - I'm using 2 teaspoons now and personally like more of the smoky flavor.)
1/4 cup water

Instructions:
In small bowl, mix together sesame tahini and olive oil.  Set aside.  In the work bowl of a food processor, add beans, lemon juice, garlic, salt and cumin and 1/4 cup water.

If beans were freshly cooked and drained (retaining more water), pulse at this point.  If it seems dry, add more water, a few tablespoons at a time, until it moves through the blades well. 

With processor running, add olive oil and tahini mixture in a steady stream through opening in top of work bowl.  Process until creamy.  Enjoy!

NOTE:  I keep dried white navy beans on hand at all times to use in soups, hummus and cakes - yes - I said cakes.  

** To cook beans, soak 1 1/2 cups of dried navy beans in water to cover and let soak overnight.  Drain beans and add to pot with enough fresh water to cover beans about 1-2 inches.  Bring beans to a boil then turn down to simmer.  Simmer for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  If water evaporates, just add more until beans are tender.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Chicken and Veggie Alfredo (dairy free)

Though I'm a full-blooded Italian, I didn't grow up eating Alfredo sauce.  The only "white" sauce I remember my mom making was what she termed a "White Clam Sauce".  It was white in the sense that it wasn't tomato based, but it wasn't a cream sauce. 

Well, authentic or not, this Alfredo sauce is delicious.  It's creamy without being heavy or greasy.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, I use Pecorino Romano cheese frequently as we all tolerate it well.  Our pediatrician told us that goat and sheep's milk cheeses are some of the easiest to digest. 

Chicken and Veggie Alfredo (dairy free) 

Ingredients:
1 gluten free rotisserie chicken, boned and shredded (I use Harvestland found at BJ's - it's gluten and casein free)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
16 oz. white or baby bella mushrooms, washed and quartered
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
1 large head broccoli, cut into small florets (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup white wine

1 tablespoon ghee
1 1/2 cups cashew cream
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated 

Instructions:

Heat large frying pan over medium heat.  Once hot, add olive oil and onions and saute for about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and saute a few more minutes.

Add carrots, broccoli and white wine.  Give a stir and then turn heat up and cover.  Steam for several minutes until broccoli is bright green and just barely getting tender.  Remove lid and turn heat down.  Add chicken to just heat through.

Meanwhile, make Alfredo sauce - don't start too soon or it will thicken too much.  Heat saucepan on medium.  Once hot, add ghee and garlic.  Stir for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add cashew cream and whisk until hot.  (It should only take a few minutes.)  Add Romano and continue to whisk, until steaming and cheese is melted.  Add dash of pepper to sauce and pour over chicken and veggie mixture.  

Take off heat (so as not to overcook veggies) and stir to incorporate sauce.  Adjust seasonings.  Enjoy!

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies (grain free, gluten free, dairy free)

These peanut butter cookies are delightful.  There's so yummy and quick to make, before I know it, I've lost count as to how many I've popped in my mouth.  Oops.

Enjoy! ** I've tried these cookies with an update or two.  The update will be in bold.**

Peanut Butter Cookies (grain free, gluten free, dairy free)

Ingredients:
2 cups blanched almond flour (Honeyville Grain)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup honey
3/4 cup freshly ground peanut butter (no additives)
1 extra large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup dairy free chocolate chips (optional) We like Enjoy Life brand
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350F.  

In large mixing bowl, whisk almond flour, salt and baking soda.  In smaller bowl, using hand mixer, mix together honey, peanut butter, egg and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry.  Mix well with wooden spoon.  Incorporate chocolate chips if using.

Scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheet. (I use small spring-loaded scooper for uniformity.)  At this point, you can sprinkle the tops with coconut sugar and press down with tines of fork (as in picture) OR you can leave in scooped form and have a more cake-like cookie.

Bake for 7-10 minutes, or just until barely golden.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Roasted Tomatoes

I Say Tomato.... 

I absolutely LOVE these roasted tomatoes and though I primarily use them IN recipes, I have been known to eat at least one on a piece of grain free bread every time I make them.  (It's YUMMY.)

I basically use these beauties in recipes that call for canned diced tomatoes, or any time I want to have a nice concentrated tomato flavor.  

You can chop them up and throw them in soup or toss them in with sauteed veggies like kale or Swiss chard. (recipe to come) I make them in large batches and keep them in the fridge or freeze them.  I'd like to experiment and try them in a BBQ sauce recipe - I wonder if I have time for that today...

I'd love you to share a favorite recipe you might use these roasted tomatoes in.  If you have one - post in the comments and let me know!  I'd love to try it! 

Roasted Tomatoes 

Ingredients:
several ripe tomatoes (Roma, Beefsteak and Ugly varieties work well but I usually use Roma)
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt 

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 325F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Wash tomatoes and cut them in half horizontally.

Place tomatoes, cut sides up, on the parchment.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Roast in oven about 2-3 hours.  You're looking for the juices to concentrate and the tomatoes to have a caramelized or roasted look about them.

Allow tomatoes to cool and then store (either whole or diced) in the fridge in a container or zip top bag.  They freeze well too - Enjoy!

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Apple Mango Salsa

This Apple Mango Salsa is quick and easy to prepare and tastes great on its own for lunch, as a dinner side dish or atop grilled fish.  

Our favorite way to eat it is on top of salmon or mahi rubbed with Miss Jen's Spice Rub and grilled.  When we were gluten eaters, we'd wrap the grilled fish and salsa in a flour tortilla.

For gluten free fish tacos, Kelly at the Spunky Coconut has a delicious grain free tortilla recipe.

Enjoy!

Apple Mango Salsa

Ingredients:
2 Braeburn apples, cored and diced (or other firm, crisp apple)
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lime, juiced
sea salt & pepper 
honey (**optional - see note)

Instructions:
Toss together the apple, mango, red onion and cilantro.  Add olive oil and lime juice.  Mix well.  Salt and pepper to taste.   

** Note:  If the mango is ripe, I don't think this needs any sweetener.  But, if you prefer things a little on the sweet side, whisk lime juice with a little honey (1 TBSP), then whisk in olive oil.  Pour over apple and mango mixture.  

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash (grain free, gluten free, dairy free)

We're potato people.  Actually, we're carb-o-holics.  Isn't admission the first step to recovery?  Anyway, going on a diet that eliminates grains, most starches and sugars wasn't easy in the beginning, but it's getting easier - especially with recipes like this one.

I used to make roasted potatoes in my cast iron skillets a LOT.  The SCD diet doesn't allow potatoes, but butternut squash is IN, so I dusted off my cast iron, diced up some butternut squash, and gave it a whirl.  

The results?  We LOVE it - kids and grownups included - and so do non-SCDers (extended family).  In fact, last night I served it up to "the folks" and, though everyone was stuffed after dinner, we all kept forking the little chunks left in the pan.  C'mon, you know you do that sort of thing too...

If you're following the SCD diet, coconut sugar is not "legal".  However, it doesn't bother us a bit, so we use it in small increments, BUT - if you have intestinal issues, or are in the beginning stages of the SCD diet, use it at your own risk.  

The good news about coconut sugar is that it has a low glycemic index (GI of 35) and easily substitutes sugar in recipes.  Like I said, we use it in small amounts at this time, and love it.  

Roasted Butternut Squash (grain free, gluten free, dairy free)

Ingredients:
butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed (about 4 cups)
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 450F.  Place skillets (or baking pan) in oven and preheat along with oven.  (I use two cast iron skillets for this so as not to overcrowd the pans thereby steaming the squash instead of roasting it.  You can probably use one long glass or ceramic pan and if you do, post in the comments and let me know how it worked!) Preheating the baking pans will allow the butternut to sear and get a nice exterior.

While ovens and pans preheat, in a small bowl, mix together the coconut sugar, cinnamon and salt.

When oven is ready, put 1 tablespoon ghee into each skillet (or 2 tablespoons into large pan).  Toss in butternut squash, being sure to keep it in a single layer.  Sprinkle some of the sugar/cinnamon mixture on top (don't use all of it) and leave it alone.  

After a several minutes, using a spatula, move squash around, allowing it to brown on other sides.  Sprinkle more of the sugar/cinnamon mixture and continue roasting.  (I don't use all of this mixture in one recipe.  It can be saved in a container and kept in the pantry for next time.)

Squash is done when golden brown and tender.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Cinnamon Swirl Bread (grain free)

This grain free Cinnamon Swirl bread is, without a doubt, one of our favorites.  I have to practically ration it out to my kiddos because they gobble it up.  It's great as is or toasted.

The inspiration for this bread came from Erin McKenna's cookbook, babycakes.  Erin owns Babycakes NYC, a New York bakery (with locations in Los Angeles and Orlando) specializing in gluten free, refined-sugar free, wheat free, egg free, soy free, casein free and vegan goodies that you will not be able to get over!  In this cookbook, she makes an Apple Cinnamon Toastie bread that is unbelievable.  I simply HAD to have a grain free version.

When we were eating gluten free (not yet grain free), I bought both of her cookbooks and even went down to her Orlando  bakery and indulged in the BEST doughnuts (OK- and cupcakes too) ever (yes, including the white flour versions).  I've made a bunch of her recipes (including the doughnuts) and have never been disappointed.

Let me know if you try this recipe!!!

Cinnamon Swirl Bread (grain free)

Ingredients:
4 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup apple sauce (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon vanilla (gluten free)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 3/4 cup blanched almond flour (from Honeyville Grain)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup coconut sugar

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease an 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 loaf pan with coconut oil.  Line with parchment paper down the middle, including the long sides.  Don't worry about the short sides.
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat eggs until frothy.  Add almond butter, applesauce, apple cider vinegar, honey, vanilla and olive oil.  Beat well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.  Add to wet ingredients and mix until incorporated.

Remove 1/2 cup of bread batter and place in small bowl.  Pour remaining bread batter into loaf pan.  Using a spoon, mix cinnamon and coconut sugar into 1/2 cup of reserved batter. Once mixed, pour topping over batter in loaf pan.  Using a small spoon, swirl cinnamon topping into bread.  Tap loaf pan on counter to remove air bubbles.

Bake for about 45-50 minutes.  Allow to cool in pan for about 10 minutes.  Run a knife along short sides of loaf pan.  Remove bread by gripping parchment and lifting.  Allow to cool completely, then slice. 

Wrap bread in paper towels and store in zip top bag.  This bread freezes well.  Enjoy!

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Miss Jen's Spice Rub (gluten free)


Spice, Spice Baby!  

In an effort to remain true to my original Facebook post stating that I'd be posting "staples" this week, I wanted to post this gluten free spice rub recipe.

I use this rub primarily on fish, but I think it would be great on chicken too.  (Post in the comments and let me know if you use it on chicken or something else.  I'd love to know and try it myself!) 

The recipe makes a LOT.  I make a large batch and store it in a mason jar in the pantry.  I presume it would keep about 6 months to a year.  I've also given it as gifts in pint-sized jars.

I will be posting a recipe in the near future for Grilled Mahi with Apple Mango Salsa for which I specifically use this rub.  I've also crusted salmon filets in the rub and then pan fried in olive oil.  Delish....which reminds me... I need to do that again.

Hope you enjoy! 

Miss Jen's Spice Rub (gluten free) 

Ingredients:
1 cup smoked paprika (usually found in ethnic spice area at grocery stores)
1/2 cup garlic powder
1/2 cup onion powder
1/4 cup sea salt
1-1/2 cup coconut sugar (** see note below)

Instructions:
Mix everything together in a large bowl with a whisk.  If the coconut sugar is lumpy, press it with the back of a spoon and mix well.

Store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. 

** Note:  Coconut sugar, also known as coconut palm sugar and palm sugar, can be found at health foods stores or online.  It has a low Glycemic index and a subtle sweetness.  It reminds me of brown sugar, but doesn't contain any molasses.  Though it's not SCD legal, (the SCD diet only allows honey as a sweetener) we find it doesn't bother our tummies in the least, especially since we use it in such small amounts.

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Yummy Grain Free Bread

I hope this picture speaks for itself.  It's grain free BREAD!  I SAID... "IT'S GRAIN FREE BREAD!!"  (hooray!)

Did you even know such a thing existed?  I didn't - until a few months ago.  After much trial and error and my little taste testers' honesty, this is the recipe that passed with flying colors.

The recipe comes together easily and I usually take a day every month-and-a-half or so to make 8 loaves.  The recipe doubles so I make 4 double batches.  To freeze, store it as directed below and place bags in freezer.  It's THAT easy!

I hope you enjoy!  

**UPDATE:  I just had a bread baking day and was able to triple the recipe in my kitchen aid mixer.  I baked the three loaves in one oven with the pans spaced evenly.

Yummy Grain Free Bread

Ingredients:
4 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup cooked butternut squash, pureed (** See note below)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 3/4 cup blanched almond flour (Honeyville Grain)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 glass loaf pan with coconut oil.  (The size of the loaf pan matters.)  Take a sheet of parchment paper and line the long sides and bottom with it.  (Don't worry about short sides.)

In the bowl of an electric mixer using whisk attachment, beat eggs until frothy.  (You can also use a hand-held electric mixer.)  Add almond butter, butternut squash, apple cider vinegar, honey and olive oil.  Beat well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, salt and baking soda.  Add to wet ingredients and mix until incorporated. 

Pour batter into loaf pan.  Tap pan on counter to burst any bubbles.  (Reflection:  We all need our bubbles burst sometimes,huh?) 

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan.  Run knife around short edges of pan and lift bread out of pan by gripping parchment. 
Once loaf has completely cooled, slice.  It can be stored in the fridge wrapped in a paper towel and placed in a zip top bag or storage container.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Today's To Dos.....BREAD!

I remember my Grandma Agnes making some of the best artisan Italian bread that I have ever put in my mouth.  Seriously.  She made it all from scratch and on bread baking day the smell wafted through the whole house. 

Well, today was my bread baking day!  Yippee!  That is, grain free bread baking day.  Not exactly the same, but we'll take what we can get!

The loaves on the left are regular grain free bread.  The loaves on the right are cinnamon swirl bread (both posts to come soon!)  I like to bake about 8 or 9 loaves at a time and freeze them so we have bread on hand at all times- I've got three more loaves in the oven!  Woo-Hoo!

I hope you will try these recipes once I post them.  The bread is low carb, low sugar and high in healthy protein.

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Ghee


I love butter and if you knew how much butter we used to go through in any given week, you'd think I was related to Paula Deen.  When our pediatrician, Dr. Julie Buckley, said that casein (a milk protein) was one of the most irritating things to the gut lining - thus the need to eliminate it from our diets - I thought, "OK - We can do that".  

When I realized that butter contained casein, I thought, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" and, in horror, asked out loud, "What about BUTTER?"

Dr. Buckley suggested we use ghee in place of butter. I have to admit, the thought of making such (another) huge change to our diets saddened me - even scared me a little.  

But ghee is nothing to be scared of.  It's actually clarified butter and is made by heating butter in a pot so that the moisture evaporates, milk solids settle on the bottom and a white froth rises to the top. Ghee is used primarily in Indian cuisine, and is praised, among other things, for being easy to digest.

NOW - I've come to love ghee.  It has a high smoking point which makes it easy to saute with.  I use it to make eggs, pancakes, saute veggies and in the topping for my grain free peach crisp (post to come). 

Ghee can be expensive to buy, but is easy-peasy to make.  If you give it a try, post in the comments section and let me know what you think of it.

Ghee

What you need:
1 pound unsalted butter (good to use organic, but I admit I don't)
1 pound salted butter (traditional recipes use unsalted, but I like a mixture of each)
1 large pot
fine sieve
cheesecloth
glass or stainless steel container with pour spout
small container with lid to store ghee (I bought two from Walmart)
cooking thermometer

What to do:
Put salted and unsalted butter in large pot.  Place pot on burner, turning heat to medium-low.  The butter will melt and a white froth will rise to the top.  Skim it off.

It will go through a stage of large bubbles and popping (keep kids out of the kitchen when making it) and then, the bubbles will get really small.  This is when you know you're almost done.  
Bring the butter up to 225F. Once up to temperature, take the pot off heat.  Allow to rest 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the sieve into the container with a pour spout.  Line the sieve with a double thickness of cheesecloth.
When 20 minutes is up, carefully pour ghee through sieve, allowing froth to be caught in cheesecloth but leaving solids that settled in bottom of pot.  Discard solids.

Allow ghee to cool further, then pour in container with lid.  Do not place lid on container until ghee is fully cooled or you will add moisture.

Ghee will keep for a long time in a closed container at room temperature as long as utensils used to remove ghee are always clean, and no drops of water get into the container (which could introduce bacteria).

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Cashew Milk

Cashew milk is a staple in our home.  I make it every week and use it in smoothies, sauces, quiche, ICED COFFEE (come to Mama!), really any place that milk or half-and-half is called for.

Cashew cream has a thicker consistency - more like heavy whipping cream.  I use it in place of cream for sauces like Alfredo (I'll be posting a delicious Chicken and Veggie Alfredo recipe soon.) and popsicles (another future post).

You will find a video tutorial on the Spunky Coconut site for making cashew milk, as well as a great post by Elana of Elana's Pantry.

Cashew Milk

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups raw whole cashews or cashew pieces, soaked several hours or overnight
3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups fresh water (This seemed more like heavy cream or half and half to me)

4 1/2 to 5 1/2 cups purified water

Instructions:
After soaking, drain cashews and throw in blender.  Add fresh purified water starting at 4 1/2 cups.  Blend on low then increase to high and blend for several minutes.  

The milk starts at a grainy stage, then soon transforms into a silky, milk-like texture.  If you like your milk a little thinner, add up to another cup of water and blend again.

I store my cashew milk in a glass container with a pour spout and lid in the fridge for about a week.

Cashew Cream

Ingredients:
1 1/2 raw whole cashews or cashew pieces, soaked in water several hours or overnight
1 1/2 cups fresh water

Instructions:
After soaking, drain cashews and throw in blender.  Add 1 1/2 cups fresh water.  Blend on low then increase speed to high.  Blend several minutes.

Cashew cream freezes well (making it great for popsicles).  I usually freeze it in one-cup containers to use later in sauces.  It will defrost overnight in fridge.

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World's Best Burgers

The name of this recipe reminds me of the movie "Elf" - strange, I know, but go with me on this.  If you've seen the movie, remember the part where he sees a dingy New York diner with a sign that reads "World's Best Cup of Coffee"?  With a big smile on his face, Elf bursts into the diner shouting, "Congratulations!  World's best cup of coffee!  Great job everybody!"

I admit I feel a little like that diner in the movie, bragging on my hamburgers, but they really are wonderful.  They're juicy and flavorful and I often get requests for the recipe.

The inspiration for these burgers was received years ago from an old Martha Stewart Show.  The original recipe used A1 sauce and put a cold pat of butter inside each burger.  The butter was a little overkill - even for me in my butter days.  Now that we've removed butter from our diets (don't tell Paula Deen), we don't even miss it.

World's Best Burgers

Ingredients:
2 lbs. organic ground chuck (I use Publix Greenwise)
1 lb. organic ground round
6 large egg yolks (if your eggs are small, you need 8)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup OrganicVille Original BBQ sauce (agave sweetened, GF and refined sugar free)
Hickory or Mesquite smoking chips

Instructions:
Take a large sheet of aluminum foil and put a few handfuls of smoking chips down the middle.  Wrap it up tightly into a long log of sorts.  Poke several large holes in the foil.

Heat all burners of a gas grill on high.  Place smoking chips on one burner (I usually put it on the back burner.)  Close lid and allow to get good and hot - about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl and using a large serving fork (not hands - it makes the meat tough), mix together the ground chuck, ground round, egg yolks, garlic powder, salt, pepper and BBQ sauce until well combined.

When chips are smoking, turn down the other burners to low or medium, keeping the burner with the smoking chips on high.  Pat meat into burgers and cook according to your liking.  Be careful not to overcook.  Makes about 10-12 burgers.

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Glazed Baked Salmon

Since wild sockeye salmon is in season, I thought I'd post this Glazed Baked Salmon recipe.  Salmon is our son's favorite fish and he loves it prepared in this way.

This recipe is a combination of my mom's "scampi" recipe - though it's not a traditional scampi - and my BFF's (Julia McRae of Healthy Home Nutrition) salmon recipe.

Julia is a pro when it comes to merging healthy living with delicious cooking.  Here's what she has to say about salmon:

"Salmon is what we call a super food.  It has a very high nutrient profile.  Besides being a great source of protein, salmon is very high in omega-3s that help our bodies fight inflammation.  It also contains good amounts of vitamins D3, B12 and selenium.  Wild caught salmon is one of the few fish we can be worry-free about when it comes to mercury.  And, best of all, it is very versatile.  It can be grilled, broiled, pan fried or baked and it turns out fantastic!  My favorite way is grilled with a mango cilantro salsa.  Enjoy!"

Glazed Baked Salmon 

Ingredients:

1 side of salmon fillet (whole fillet bones removed and skin on)
4 tablespoons ghee
5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400F.

Heat ghee in small pot. (I use stainless steel mixing cup on stove top.)  Add Worcestershire, oregano and garlic powder.

Pour marinade into 8x11 pan.  Add fish, flesh side down and marinate for 15-20 minutes.

Turn fish skin side down and bake in oven for 10-20 minutes, depending on thickness of fish.  Don't overcook!

Serve with sauce spooned on top.  Enjoy!

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Quiche with Spinach, Pancetta and Goat Cheese


Quiche the Cook!
Some of my best childhood memories center around food - some might think this a bad thing, but Italians love food and good food means someone was lovingly working their fingers to the bone to prepare it (LOTS of it) while hungry friends and family waited with bated breath to snarf it down.

One of my childhood faves was a savory Italian Meat Pie with rich ingredients like ricotta, eggs, provolone, and Italian meats baked nice and snug in a flour crust.  OK - is it just me, or are you wondering, as I am, how Giada (you know, the gorgeous size zero "Italian" from Food Network) can make such delectable food and stay so tiny?  She's probably Scandinavian, dies her hair brown, and is friends with Vanilla Ice....but I digress.  (Please rest assured I'm a big fan of hers...just a little bitter.)

Obviously, my mom's meat pie would not work with our grain free, mostly dairy free eating.  I came up with this quiche recipe after seeing a recipe for Easy Oven Omelet by Kelly Brozyna at The Spunky Coconut and dreaming of my mom's meat pie. 

As I've said before, my family can tolerate goat cheese, as it is known to be well-digested by those who are lactose intolerant, but - if you're not sure that you can handle it, you can leave it out all together, or substitute Parmesan cheese.  (Sometimes hard cheeses are better tolerated by lactose intolerant peeps.)  My children prefer the Parmesan, but I'm trying to convert them since our pediatrician said that sheep and goat's milk cheeses are easiest to digest.

You will notice the "custard" part of this quiche contains cashew milk.  This is a staple in our home.  It has a lovely consistency and flavor.  Elana Amsterdam at Elana's Pantry did a very instructional post about how to make this delicious milk.  Please check it out.  

Quiche with Spinach, Pancetta and Goat Cheese

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
16 oz. package of fresh spinach
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced (TRUTH?  I use 2 - but I'm a garlic lover)
4 oz. pkg of Applegate Farms Genoa Salami or Soppressata, diced
4 oz. pkg Applegate Farms Pancetta, diced
1 small log goat cheese OR 1/2 of 11 oz. log OR 1 cup Parmesan
7 large eggs
3/4 cup cashew milk

Instructions:
Preheat ovent o 350F.  Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil into a glass or ceramic deep dish pie pan or large quiche dish.  (I use a glass Anchor Hocking deep dish pie pan that I got from Target with a pretty ruffled edge.)  Using your hands, spread olive oil to grease pan.

Heat saute pan on medium heat.  Once hot, add pancetta and stir until crisp.  Remove and add to pie pan.  Add remaining olive oil to saute pan and then add spinach, stirring until wilted.  Remove pan from heat and add garlic.  Stir for about 30 seconds.

Place spinach in fine colander pressing out extra moisture with back of spoon.  Then, spread in pie pan atop pancetta.  (I do not salt this recipe because the meats are salty enough.)

Sprinkle salami on top of spinach.  Next, dollop goat cheese on top, OR, if using, sprinkle Parmesan instead.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and cashew milk.  Pour over filling.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes.  Mangia!

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