Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mashed Cauliflower

There are a ton of recipes out there on various Paleo (and healthy) sites touting the use of cauliflower as a healthier (and just as tasty) substitute for Mashed Potatoes.  I finally decided to find out for myself.  Using this recipe as my base I steamed the cauliflower and garlic, added some salt & pepper and set my Ninja to the task of "mashing" the cauliflower.

End result: if you like grits you might be ok with this potato substitute, but I'll stick to mashed potatoes.  I've never been a fan of grits... as that gritty texture just doesn't do it for me. Mashed cauliflower has that same gritty texture.  Or did I do something wrong? If I did something wrong, please tell me, but I doubt I'll be trying this again any time soon.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pinterest Thanksgiving

I should have posted this a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't.  I pulled a lot of ideas from Pinterest for Thanksgiving this year, as I tried to make my favorite dishes in a way that I could eat them. Some went well, others not so much.

The Turkey - yeah, I cooked it to death. Usually, my turkeys are awesome, it would figure that this year being the one year that I needed to stick to the turkey I made rather than risking what someone else made that my turkey would turn out like jerky.

The dressing - I started with this recipe I found on Pinterest. Except that instead of using their recipe for Southern Cornbread. I used Bob's Red Mill cornbread mix.... which I later learned is Northern Cornbread (sweet).  Had it not been for that one change, this would have been really good cornbread stuffing. Instead, I had to load it down with salt to cut the sweetness.

Mashed Potatoes - Seriously, if all I had for Thanksgiving were these three items and gravy. I'd be a happy camper...  For the potatoes, I used this recipe (but with red potatoes). Luckily, these actually turned out very good. I didn't miss having dairy in them at all, they were so good and creamy.

Next was dessert. I went with one already tested recipe, the Vegan Raw Pumpkin "Cheesecake". It got mixed reviews. I think I liked it more than most. One of my cousins said it tasted more like sweet potatoes than Pumpkin (perhaps it needed more spice).  Given that this was one of about 4 different Pumpkin pies... I was happy if anyone even tried it.  In addition to the Pumpkin "cheesecake". I also made two different chocolate coconut recipes.

Chocolate Macaroons - OMG! These were so good, although I may have been the only one who thought so. These are the cooked ones, I melted a little chocolate over the top and they were so yummy. Others seemed to prefer the raw chocolate coconut pumpkin macaroons. Honestly, they were both really good.  One of my aunts thought the Chocolate Macaroons were the No-bake oatmeal cookies my mom used to make... only to find out they were coconut (something she's evidently slightly allergic to), after she'd eaten 2 of them.  Both of these recipes were so easy to make that you could make them any time you have a chocolate craving then keep the leftovers in the freezer for later.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Zucchini Soup with Quinoa

Earlier this week I picked up a big basket of various veggies at my local Farmers Market. This was one of those "special" baskets where they had combined a bunch of things that they need to get sold. There was enough stuff in this basket to fill an entire grocery bag. When I got it home and went through it, I found that about half of what I'd gotten was zucchini. This wasn't a bad thing since I really like zucchini. Unfortunately, my hubby won't touch the stuff. That said, I typically just saute it in some coconut (or olive) oil with some salt and pepper. Or, if I'm feeling lazy throw it on a baking sheet and roast it.  However, with this much zucchini I knew there was no way I was going to eat it all my usual way.

First off I tried juicing it. Since, I juice A LOT I figured I should try it. I looked online and in my big book of juicing and found a few recipes. From what I found it seemed the best bet was mixing it with apple, or using it in my green juice in place of the usual cucumber. I did both of those and both were quite tasty.

As I sat awake at 5am this morning for no apparent reason I started to wonder what a zucchini soup would taste like.  A year ago I never would have considered it, but with all the juicing and diet changes in the last 8 months a lot of things sound good now that never would have before. So, I went online and found this recipe on the NY Times website. It sounded pretty tasty and I had everything on hand to give it a go.  And that is how my husband found me cutting up zucchini at 6am.

Of course, I wouldn't be blogging about this if I'd actually followed the recipe to the tee. It all started off ok, until I realized that there was rice in that recipe. I don't know how I missed that when I initially read it, but as I was following the directions I realized this little fact.  I don't eat rice, it doesn't like me.  Luckily, I had picked up a bag of Quinoa last week. I've never made quinoa, and I've really only had it maybe twice. So, this was totally foreign to me. It didn't help that I could not find instructions on the bag for how to cook it. There were recipes for things to make with it, but no basic instructions. So, I figured it must be pretty much like rice and just added it to the soup mixture where the recipe said to add rice.

So, my actual recipe looked a bit like this:
2tbsp Coconut Oil
1/2 Onion - diced
3 cloves garlic
2 med-large zucchini (peeled & diced)
2 tsp curry paste (cuz I didn't have curry powder)
maybe 6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 c Quinoa
salt (lots)
pepper (lots)

Saute the onion in the coconut oil, add the garlic, add the zucchini and saute for a few more minutes. Add the curry paste, veg broth & quinoa. Add salt & pepper. Bring to boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes.  I really didn't want my soup to be pureed. So, I just mashed the zucchini with a potato masher.

As it cooked it thickened and became almost a poridge.  I added more salt & pepper.  All in all, it quite tasty. I couldn't help but think that if I was feeling sick this would be the perfect alternative to chicken soup.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pintest: Vegan Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

Going gluten & dairy free has been interesting, but not nearly as interesting as it will be in about 2 months when I start trying to figure out how to make Thanksgiving dinner.  So, when I saw DAMY's recipe for vegan Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake, I thought I'd try to get a head start.  And, when I showed it to hubby, he let me know (with that look in his eyes) that I was going to have to test this recipe sooner rather than later.

Note: I had taken all kinds of great pictures during the process of making this, but evidently my phone ate them.

Now, I'm all about some substitutions, and I still say this could be made with almond butter, but he let me know that wasn't going to happen. So, while at Earth Fare (the closest thing we have around here to Whole Foods) I picked up a $10 jar of Cashew Butter. Man, is that stuff expensive!  And since I couldn't seem to sit still last night and needed a distraction from an upset tummy and boredom, I figured I'd cook instead of eat.

So, as instructed, I mixed up all the ingredients (a word I evidently can't spell) for the filling. Doing so, used about 1/3 of a jar of the Cashew butter and about 1/2 the can of pumpkin.  Seeing this, I just said screw it and doubled the entire recipe. Call me crazy! For the record, I used 4Tbsp honey & 2 packets of Stevia (ok, Truvia) for the entire (double) filling batch.

When it came time to make the crust, my substitutions started showing. I only had a handful of pecans in the house, so I decided to try making the crust with almonds instead (something we always have on hand). Since I'd already doubled the filling, I figured I'd go ahead and double the crust recipe too. Looking back, that might have been either a mistake or a genius idea.  I probably didn't need as many almonds as I used, as I ended up adding a few extra dates just to get everything to mix good enough to form a decent crust.  It never did form that dough-like consistency that Amy had mentioned in her recipe. I finally just gave up and decided to work with what I had and it did press together well enough to form into the bottom of the dish, like a good crust should. However, I didn't take into account that I was still using the same size baking dish. So, I had a lot left-over.

Finished Product
After pouring in the filling, I topped it all off with a little left-over crust mixture, some coconut and a few pecan pieces. Hubby was sadly disappointed to find out that it had to sit in the freezer all night before he could try it. I did, however, let him taste the filling and we both agreed that it tasted great and should make for an excellent Pumpkin Pie substitute once it reached the proper consistency.

I figured I had to do something with all that left-over crust mixture and it seemed like the perfect base for some Larabar like snack bars. So, I combined it with the remnant of filling mixture that remained in the small processor bowl and mixed it all together. I mashed that out into a flat pan and stuck it in the fridge.

This evening when he came home, he found me taking pictures of the finished product (since my phone ate all the pics I took last night).  The bars on the left turned out really good. There was just enough pumpkin filling left in the processor when I added the left-over crust to give a perfect pumpkin pie flavor to the "larabars".  They got his seal of approval with a "I hope you wrote down the recipe".  Well, I did. Kind of. The problem is that in order to make those, I have to make the whole pumpkin pie thing (and that is a little spendy).  He said he was ok with that. Then he tried the actual "cheese"cake.  He commented that he felt like it was missing something, but could'nt quite figure out what it was. My thoughts were the only thing it could be missing was whipped cream. That said, it was better than any real pumpkin pie without whipped cream, and as good (or better) than any pumpkin cheesecake.  We definitely have a win here (substitutions and all).
Tip: This is best closer to the frozen consistency. The longer it sat in the fridge the closer to a pudding texture it got.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

PinTest: Super Moist Zuchini Bread

So, I'd been thinking for a while that I really needed to start actually trying some of these recipes I keep adding to my boards on Pinterest.  Julie over at PaleOMG FORCED me to start with her Moist Chocolate Zuchini Bread. Ok, she didn't really force me, it was more like she's never met me and has no idea who I am, but I love to follow her blog (and we have the same name, so I feel this kinship). PLUS, I've really just wanted zucchini bread for a while, and have had no idea how to make it, especially now that I'm not eating grains.  I guess you could say she inspired me to actually cook something, instead of just pinning it.

I remember the first time I ever had zucchini bread. I probably turned my nose up at it, the idea of zucchini in a bread.  I was visiting my Grandmother in Traverse City, MI and she'd taken me to the zoo. In the parking lot there was a Farmer's Market set up and someone was selling zucchini bread. They let me sample a bite and I was in love. I still remember it almost 30 years later. I've spent the last 30 years thinking about that zucchini bread and somehow have never since had another. It's like my first love of veggie breads, and I've never given another a chance to compare.

I've wanted to try making it, but I had no idea how. And, really, until recently I had little interest in making "healthy" foods. Of course, it got more complicated when recently I also stopped eating grains. So, that left me wanting to try my hand at this "healthy" food but unable to eat "bread". What to do!? Then Julie came along and swooped down like some sort of Fairy Godmother with her recipe.  I just had to try it.  Then, this afternoon I was at the Farmer's Market and I saw the zucchini and it was like a sign. Today was the day.

I couldn't remember anything about the recipe (of course), other than that it was MOIST and made with zucchini and coconut flour. I had no idea how much of anything or whether or not I had everything I'd need to make it. Of course, I probably didn't.  So, I bought a half dozen zucchini (just in case) and headed home.

Step 1 (she says) shred your zucchini. WTF? How do you shred zucchini? A few weeks ago I bought this really cool salad spinner at CostCo that also had a mandolin slicer/shredder attachment, so I was all psyched to try it out. I've used it a few times to spin my greens, but this was the first try at using the slicer/shredder feature... and wouldn't you know this would be the first place things would go wrong. The thing did not fit together right. Every time I'd try to shred the top would pop off the bowl and make a mess. So, I finally held it down and gave up on the food pusher thing and just used it like a cheese grater.

Step 2 (she says) get the water out of the zucchini. Another WTF?! Moment and I'm standing in the kitchen trying to spin the zucchini in my salad spinner. That helped a little, but I was still left doing the paper towel method she described.

Step 3 - combine the zucchini with all the other ingredients. This is where I should point out that a)I never read through an entire recipe before I start and b) I don't follow directions well.  So, I just started adding the things she said to add. My amounts were estimates (sometimes) and I found that I was out of two things... vanilla extract and baking soda. I used Almond Butter, because that's the only nut butter I had on hand.  I mixed it all up anyway. Instead of mini loaf pans (since I don't have those), I poured the batter into a muffin pan and popped it into the oven.

I will say that the batter taste test passed. The batter was good.  The muffins when they exited the oven looked very good.  But, the real test is in eating them. So, I did.  I think I needed the vanilla extract. They also needed nuts (imo). I gave hubby a bite before I told him that they contained zucchini (which he hates). His response "They need something. I don't hate them, but I don't love them." Then I told them they had zuchini, to which he responded "you must have cooked it all out."  We'll call this one a draw. We don't hate it, but we don't love it. It needs work (or at the very minimum all of the required ingredients).

Before I was finished writing this entry, hubby had grabbed a muffin of his own. I guess if the true test is "will he eat it?", these MOIST Chocolate Zucchini muffins passed the test.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bulked up Hot & Sour Soup

Ok, so I've gotten a little addicted to Pinterest, as I've found some really awesome recipes there. One that I ran across was Crockpot Hot & Sour soup. I was happy when I found the recipe as it was also gluten-free.  Then I found another recipe for Hot & Sour soup... and well, I'm really just not known for following recipes. So, I used those two as a base and created my own, adding more veggies to bulk it up a little, and after waiting a day for it to cook in the crockpot.... it is delicious!  So, I thought I'd share.

Dealing with Fibro, cooking needs to be about keeping things simple and that's where Crockpots are awesome.  This soup requires very little prep and the crockpot does all the work.

3 cups water
3 cups chicken broth
2tsp white pepper
1 cup soy sauce
1tbsp sesame oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
2 medium kale leaves (about 1 cup chopped with large stem removed)
2 medium carrots
2 asparagus stalks
8oz package of mushrooms (sliced)
2 chicken breasts - cooked &  finely chopped (I used a rotisserie chicken)
1/2lb of tofu cubed 
1 can of bamboo shoots

Finely chop the veggies and chicken. Cube the tofu.  I used a rotisserie chicken so that made life even easier. If you opt to use regular chicken breasts, dice up the chicken and cook it in some canola or olive oil.
Add all of the items above to the crockpot and cook on high for 4-5 hours (or low for 9-10 or longer). It's soup. The longer you let it cook the better.

I love my Hot & Sour soup both HOT and SOUR! You can adjust those levels by increasing/ decreasing the vinegar (sour) or the pepper (hot).

I didn't really think about just how much everything would cook down. Next time I do this I would probably double all the veggies and add a second can of  bamboo shoots.