Trifling a Strawberry Moon

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Up here in the North it’s strawberry season! And what a wonder to have a full “Strawberry” moon coincide with the Summer Solstice! According to Martha White’s recount of the Old Famer’s Almanac, “From full Moon through the last quarter, or the dark of the Moon, is the best time for killing weeds, thinning, pruning, mowing, cutting timber, and planting below-ground crops.” That means when I am not eating strawberries, I work on the annual “Burdock Eradication Program,” thin the carrots and beets and plant a few of each for good measure!

Fruit trifles became a mainstay of farmhouse life last summer as the individual mason jar 1/2 pint servings are easy to store for a fancy dessert when company arrives. These I made with a gluten free granola crunched pie crust crumble that is AMAZING! It’s both delicious and easy to prepare. There are three components to this dessert: crunchy crumble, lemon minted cream cheese, and strawberries. Layer them together for a fresh and delicious summer dessert.

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The Strawberry Moon rose late last night and was just setting as I awoke at about 5:30 today.

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Gluten Free Granola Infused Pie Crust Crumble

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Cream Cheese Filling Ingredients:

  • 4 packages cream cheese
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1 large lemon zested
  • 1 large lemon juiced
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 handful fresh mint

Directions: In a food processor, mix all of the ingredients except the whipping cream. You may need to push the cream off the sides of the bowl once or twice. Then add whipping cream and run processor until blended.

Note: I’m not one for sweet desserts, so you may want to add more honey or sugar.

Strawberry Filling: Simply mix about a pound of strawberries with a tablespoon of sugar or honey. In this recipe, I pulsed the berries and honey in a food processor just until they were slightly chopped.

Crumble Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 cup millet
  • 1/4 cup flax seed
  • 1 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 sticks butter
  • dash salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut chilled butter into chunks. Mix dry ingredients. Combine the dry ingredients with the butter and vanilla until combined. Spread on parchment and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. When the crumble cools, you will want to break it into smaller pieces.

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Heart Healthy Goody Bars

Cruisin’ through some of my favorite food sites tonight, I stumbled on Cafe Cyan’s Heart Healthiest Chocolate Chip Cookie post. I usually just breeze over baked goods, but she caught my attention talking about how walnuts and oats are usually not allowed to contaminate her sacred cookie. Having the same sentiment and intrigued by the recipe, I clicked to the link originally posted in Vegetarian Times, and was surprised to find that these cookies are actually a full-on vegan option-concoction. I immediately noticed no eggs and no butter. Instead, walnuts are processed with a little canola oil to make a walnut butter which replaces the traditional egg, sugar and butter base for the cookies. Anything to get rid of eggs, and I’m a happy girl!

So, how are they heart healthy? I think it’s all about fiber that helps to lower bad cholesterol, whole grain nutrients are rich in rolled oats, and this one has the added benefit of no cane sugar. But really, don’t treats like these just make you fall in love with whoever baked them? They make the old heart go pitter-pat!

For some reason, the original recipe calls to dissolve brown sugar in a saucepan with water and then cool it, but that would take too much time for this lazy lounge lizard. I opted for agave nectar to replace the sugar, and also cut some serious corners in the time department by baking bars and not cookies. It took about eight minutes to whip up the batter and twelve minutes to bake. I also added a little flaxmeal to make it even heart healthier. These babies are moist and delicious! Thanks to Crystal for the motivation! I know Jeff really appreciats the treats.

Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats, whipped to a fine powder in the processor
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxmeal
  • 2 cup rolled oats
  • 12 oz. bag chocolate chips

Wet Ingredients:

  • 2 cups walnuts, ground to smithereens in a food processor
  • 3-4 Tbs. oil
  • 1 cup agave nectar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Here’s How:

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Process two cups of rolled oats until they are finely ground like flour. Pulse in the baking soda, salt, cinnamon and flaxmeal. Remove the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl.

Next, place the walnuts in the food processor and turn it on. While the processor runs, drizzle in the oil until it starts to look like creamy peanut butter. While it runs add the vanilla and agave nectar. Scrape the wet ingredients into the ground oats mixture and stir together. Add the 2 cups of oats and chips and fold together.

Spread the mixture into a greased 9×13 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes until the bars brown on top. Let them cool, si se puedes, or eat them up warm!

Spanish Lesson: si se puedes = if you can

Max and Kate’s Decadent Adventure

Today our dear friend, Kate invited Max over for an ice cream making adventure. I sent the camera along for the ride and in the end, got to enjoy ice cream sundaes! I’ve mentioned Kate in this blog before – she is an amazing cook who can whip up some mean Indian dishes. She’s inspired me to understand Indian spices, buy into a CSA and eat organic. If I had it my way, she would be my personal chef! Now, I am going to pass the reins off to her as today’s guest blogger!

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My two cents on the afternoon would be that Max was a huge help in making the ice cream and sauces, separating eggs like a pro, slicing the vanilla beans lengthwise to reveal the tiny seeds, assisting in the egg tempering by whisking as I poured the hot cream-milk mixture, dedicating himself to stirring the custard (which took a long time!), eyeballing the caramel to keep it from burning, and stirring, stirring, stirring some more.  He was an all around helpful co-ice cream chef!  He seemed quite curious and interested in the process – an absolute pleasure!

Here’s the Scoop – Sauces and Ice Cream Recipes

Hot Fudge Sauce-adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s adaptation of the Silver Palate version – both New Yorkers!

  • 4 ounces semi-sweet dark chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons corn syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Melt the chocolate and butter very slowly in a double boiler, stirring frequently until combined. Meanwhile, heat the water to boiling in the small, heavy saucepan. When the butter and chocolate have melted, stir the mixture into the boiling water. Add the sugar, corn syrup and salt and mix until smooth. Turn the heat up and stir until mixture starts to boil; adjust heat so that sauce is just maintained at the boiling point, stirring occasionally. Allow sauce to boil for nine minutes.  Sauce can be made ahead and reheated in the microwave or a pan of hot water.

Double French Vanilla Ice Cream -adapted from the Food Network Kitchens.

  • 8 large eggs yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups cold milk
  • Pinch of fine salt
  • 2 vanilla bean
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

In a medium bowl, lightly whisk together the yolks and half of the sugar. In a non-reactive saucepan combine the cream, 1 cup of the milk, the remaining sugar, and the salt.

Split the vanilla beans in half, lengthwise, to expose the tar-like seeds inside the pod. Scrape the seeds loose with a knife; add the bean and the seeds to the cream mixture along with the vanilla extract.

Heat the cream over medium-high heat until just at a boil. Remove from the heat. Gradually pour the hot liquid into the yolks, while whisking constantly. Return the cream-egg mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring the mixture constantly, with a wooden spoon in a figure-8 motion, until thickened, about 10 minutes. When the ice cream mixture is properly cooked it should coat the back of a spoon, be satiny thick, and be free of any bubbles on the surface. (If you taste the ice cream base it should have a slight egg-y taste.) When thickened, pour in the reserved milk to prevent the mixture from overcooking. Strain into a medium bowl. Add the cognac if desired.

Fill another bowl with ice. Set the bowl of ice cream base in the ice and stir until thoroughly chilled. Freeze the base in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (Take care not to over churn the ice cream or it will get a grainy texture.) Transfer the ice cream to the freezer to set up for at least 1 hour. Serve.

Caramel Sauce -slightly adapted from Ina Garten with the use of organic sugar.  We had a hard time gauging the readiness of the caramel because the sugar was already a chestnut brown.  The caramel ended up being on the light side making the color not so nice, with pretty mild flavor.

  • 1 1/2 cups organic sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Mix the water and sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Do not stir. Increase the heat to medium and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a warm chestnut brown (about 350 degrees F on a candy thermometer), about 5 to 7 minutes, gently swirling the pan to stir the mixture. Be careful – the mixture is extremely hot! Watch the mixture very carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly. Turn off the heat. Stand back to avoid splattering and slowly add the cream and vanilla. Don’t worry – the cream will bubble violently and the caramel will solidify.

Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. It will thicken as it sits.

Spiced Coconut Fudge

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I adore coconut. I love chocolate. I am crazy about almonds. I am one of the few who relish over an Almond Joy candy bar. So, I figure, if I make coconut fudge with chocolate and almonds for dessert Saturday night, I’ll get to eat the pieces rejected by coconut dislikers! They don’t know what they are missing!

This is a three-part layered concoction. First you make the coconut fudge, then you toast the almonds and when the whole thing is ready to assemble, you melt the chocolate. Line a pan with parchment and stack the stuff. After it cools, cut the fudge into squares and serve. Watch out! It’s super sweet.

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Spiced Coconut Fudge Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbs. butter
  • 1/2 bar semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 cup chopped almonds, toasted

Directions: Place evaporated milk, coconut, sugar, vanilla and spices in a sauce pan on low heat. Bring to a simmer and stir until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is fairly thick. Stir in 2 Tbs. of butter and turn off the heat and let the mixture cool. Once it has cooled to room temperature, you want to give it a good mixing until it is thick and shiny looking.

Meanwhile toast the almonds in a shallow pan on medium heat. Keep them moving so they don’t burn and pour them out onto a plate once you are able to see that they are beginning to brown.

This recipe fits a small square pan 8 x 8 or so and you’ll need to line it with parchment paper. I lined my pans north – south, east – west and left some parchment sticking up so it will be easy to pull the fudge out to cut.

Melt the chocolate on medium heat in the microwave. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t begin to boil or burn. Once it is hot add the other Tbs. of butter and mix it into the chocolate.

Now you are ready to assemble. Pour the coconut fudge into the bottom of the pans and flatten with a spatula. Next drizzle or spread the chocolate over the fudge. Last, cover with toasted almonds. Use the spatula to flatten the top and press the almonds into the mix a little so they don’t fall off the top when the fudge is cut into squares.

Zucchini Bread

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It’s not that I don’t like baking, I just can’t stand having sweets around the house. The minute I start eating foods with lots of sugar, I find that I am hungry all the time, or at least find myself thinking about eating more. If I start eating sweets over the course of a couple of days, I find that I am more hungry overall, and then I start gaining weight. I always lose weight in the fall when school starts, but as soon as the Halloween candy comes, the weight starts finding a home again. It feels like a vicious circle, so I try to not even start with sugary things. I find if I keep them totally out of my life, my eating habits can stay in check.

Today when I set out to make zucchini bread, my guilty brain influenced the recipe. “Can’t you take some of that sugar out? Can’t you add something a little more healthy?” the brain asked. Luckily, like many one-pot dishes, sweet breads have a built in slush factor. They are kind of like my friend Kate’s “Garbage Curry.” Anything can go into them and they’ll turn out pretty tasty. I swapped out cane sugar for agave nectar and instead of all white flour, I added some whole wheat, chickpea flour and flax bran. My adaptation lowers the glycemic index, adds protein, fibre and omega 3s.

I looked over many zucchini bread recipes and ultimately used as my base Smitten Kitchen’s adapted recipe. I wanted to keep it pretty simple with the hopes that Maximillian would at least try it! This one is deliciously moist and you’ll notice right away that it’s not too sweet.

Zucchini Bread From Smitten Kitchen
Adapted from several sources

Yield: 2 loaves or approximately 24 muffins

3 eggs
1 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips or a combination thereof (optional)

Vegetarian Perspective’s Rearrangement of the Zucchini Bread Recipe

3 eggs

1 cup canola oil

1 1/4 cups agave nectar – lower glycemic level

1 large grated zucchini

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup organic all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups organic whole wheat flour – adds protein

1/2 cup chickpea flour – adds protein

1/2 cup flaxseed meal (Bob’s Red Mill brand) – adds fibre, and Omega-3s

3 teaspoons cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Note: I baked this zucchini bread as cake in a 9 x 13 inch cake pan and it only took 35 minutes to bake.

Love Men. Love Chocolate. Love Brownies.

Love Men. Love Chocolate. Love Brownies.

Jeff’s brownies – adapted from Brooke’s Best Bombshell Brownies

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The five things my husband loves best: ketchup, brownies, Max, Me and bikes. I know, you are all asking, “But what about the veggie burgers?” Well, Jeff’s answer to that would be, “They are just the vehicle for ketchup!” His food fetishes have always surprised me, but he was vegetarian when I met him, so I knew he would have an open mind! His culinary palate has expanded since he met me, as has mine! One thing we have in common is a love for good dark chocolate, morning coffee and brownies that stick to the teeth. This recipe is not for milk chocolate lovers, and it’s best to eat when you are willing to stay up for a few hours because these brownies will give you a jolt! Sorry vegan friends, they are unfortunately full of dairy products, but I would love to see a play on this recipe without the cow or hen involved.

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Jeff grew up with a chef father, a baker mom and a family restaurant. He knows his way around the kitchen, but rarely cooks. He made these brownies a few weeks ago and I couldn’t believe how fabulous they were. I don’t bake because I can’t have sweets around – I will eat them until they are gone, and then experience life-threatening guilt! Since Jeff doesn’t cook very often, I can legitimize the occasional pan of brownies. He usually eats at least 3/4 of them within 12 hours, so I don’t have to feel too bad for myself.

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I love this man’s hands!

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Still-life in the kitchen with man brownies! Chocolate on the butcher block is often what one finds in a vegetarian household!

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, melted

3 cups white sugar

1 Tbs. vanilla extract

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. salt

3 ounces chopped unsweetened baking chocolate

2 Tbs. fresh ground coffee

Directions:

1. Preheat oven 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish.

2. Combine the melted butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Use a hand mixer moving from low speed to full throttle as quickly as possible to beat the eggs in one at a time mixing well each time.

3. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture into the butter and sugar mixture – add little by little the whole while running the hand mixer – full throttle! Hand fold in the chopped chocolate chunks and ground coffee. Spread into prepared baking dish.

4. Bake 35-40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.