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Girls’ Night

5 Jun

Friday night, my friend, Tess, graced me with her presence for a much needed girls’ night. We drank daiquiris, ate nachos and “healthy” mini chocolate tortes, talked about boys, and watched some truly bad movies. It was awesome, and provided the distraction that I needed.

The nachos were super easy and delicious. The slow cooker did most of the work while I was at out, leaving just some chopping and shredding for me to do when I got home.

Steak Nachos

Ingredients:

steak or meat of choice

2 quarts (1 container) of beef broth

1 jar of salsa verde

2 bell peppers (I used a green and a red)

1 red onion

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

tortilla chips

nacho toppings of choice (I used romaine, tomatoes, guac, sour cream, monterey jack cheese, and sharp cheddar cheese)

Directions:

1. Put your meat in the slow cooker with the broth, salsa verde, and salt and pepper to taste. Set it to low, and let it go for the afternoon. I left mine on low for about ten hours before we ate. The meat was super juicy and tender (as it should have been after cooking for nearly half a day).

2. About a half an hour before you’re ready to eat, pre-heat the oven to 350, and chop the peppers and onion. I sliced the peppers into long strips and the onions into rings, which gave the nachos a fajita feel. For ease of eating, I would cut the strips in half next time – it was a lot of pepper for one chip and my small mouth.

3. Put the peppers and onions on parchment paper on a baking sheet, and toss with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Let the veggies roast for 20-25 minutes until they’re just a little charred at the edges.

4. While the veggies are in the oven, chop and shred the rest of your ingredients. By the time the veggies were done, you’ll be ready to assemble your nachos.

5. Line a baking sheet with another sheet of parchment paper, and load it up with tortilla chips and and cheese. Parchment paper works much, much better for this than aluminum foil. The nachos will slide off remarkably well. You can also add some peppers, onions, and meat on there, too if you’d like. Pop it into the oven (at 350) for 5 to 10  minutes, or until the cheese melts.

6. Slide your nachos onto a large plate, and load them up with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, guac, etc., and enjoy.

For dessert, I made mini chocolate tortes using with avocados and pecan crust. Check out the recipe over at Oh She Glows. The longer you keep them in the freezer, the less you can taste the avocado (the taste is very subtle otherwise). You could also increase the amount of chocolate a little, too. They were a perfect complement to the nachos and a couple of terrible chick flicks.

Tomorrow marks my first day of working out since my gym membership expired on Thursday. I plan to run outside for the first time in a very long time (not counting my soccer games from the spring). I have my playlist ready to go and my route mapped out. I really hope it doesn’t rain!

Hello Again

30 Apr

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything new. Sorry about the delay. I’ve been a little overwhelmed with work and school so something had to give, but I’m back now. In our time apart, I went to Arizona, baked all day Easter Sunday with my sweetie, and perfected the art of making just one rice crispy treat. I have so much to share with you, but I think I will start with a quick post about the individual crispy treat: it’s short, sugary, and oh so satisfying.

Individual Rice Crispy Treat

1/2 tbsp butter

1/4 cup mini marshmellows

1 cup (give or take) your favorite crispy rice cereal

Microwave butter for 20-30 seconds until it’s melted. Add marshmellows and stir. Microwave for 10-15 seconds. The marshmellows will get puffy, airy, and melty. Stir again, and pour in the cereal. Add a little more or less depending on how dense you like your rice crispy treats. Spray a ramekin with cooking spray, pour in mixture, and allow it to cool; or if you can’t wait, eat it warm and gooey directly from the bowl.

Caramel-Soaked Brownies

4 Apr

Sometimes mistakes are the key to success. I set out to transformed a recipe for coconut caramel brownies into a chocolate-packed, gluten-free masterpiece, but ended up with a gooey, super chocolately, fudgey brownie that exceeded my expectations. I think I erred in my caramel-making. I should have probably allowed it to thicken a little more (and possibly cool some) before pouring it over the warm brownies, but since I was so impatient, I ended up with concoction that has a fluffy, cake-like consistency when warm and a dense fudgey texture when refrigerated. Plus, I had a cup of caramel leftover for topping the brownies, ice cream, and anything else I could think of.

Brownie Ingredients:

-1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

-1 stick of butter

-1/4 cup applesauce

-2 cups sugar

-1 tbsp vanilla extract

-3 eggs

-flour mixture: 1/4 cup sorghum flour, 1/4 cup coconut flour, 1/2 cup hazelnut (or other nut) flour, 2 tbsp tapioca starch, 3/4 tsp xantham gum

-4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

-1/2 tsp salt

Brownie Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350.

2. Combine half of the chocolate chips and the stick of butter (cut into chunks). Microwave in 20 second intervals, stirring after each one until the chocolate is just melted. Be careful not to burn it. You could also use a double-boiler to melt the chocolate.

3. Whisk together the dry ingredients.

4. Combine the wet ingredients. Temper the eggs by adding a little bit of the melted chocolate to the eggs so you don’t end up with scramble eggs. If you’re feeling nervous, combine all of the wet ingredients except the eggs; then, beat the eggs and add those to the dry ingredients.

5. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in batches (it took me three). One bonus of gluten-free baking: you don’t have to worry about over mixing. Stir in the rest of the chocolate chips.

6. Pour batter into greased baking dish. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. My baking dish was 8″ x 6″; if yours is larger, decrease the cooking time by 5-10 minutes.

Caramel Ingredients:

-1 cup sugar in the raw

-1/4 cup water

-1/2 cup heavy cream

-1 tbsp butter

-1/8 tsp salt

Caramel Directions:

1. Add sugar and water to saucepan over medium heat. Stir, and keep an eye on it. You want it to reach a golden brown without going too dark. This is a little trickier when using sugar in the raw since it starts out light brown. It takes a few minutes, but the color will start to deepen and mixture will begin to thicken. As soon as that happens, remove it from the heat. Like I said above, I was perhaps a little overly cautious and removed the caramel a little early – just as it started to turn golden. However, this mishap is really the key to the dish. You need the caramel to remain a little soupy in order for it to penetrate the brownies.

2. Remove pan from heat, and carefully pour the cream into the caramel. Next, add the butter and salt. Stir, stir, stir.

3. Once the caramel is smooth, pour it over the warm brownies. Mine had been sitting for about fifteen minutes when I poured the caramel over them. You are going to have a lot of caramel. A ridiculous amount. Let the caramel sink into the brownies for about five minutes – you want them saturated, but you don’t want them to get soggy.

4. Pour off excess caramel into a bowl. You may get a few brownie chunks in the excess caramel; don’t worry about it.

Store brownies in the fridge to achieve a fudge-like texture. They return to a cakier consistency when microwaved for 25 seconds. I recommend them on top of ice cream with plenty of caramel, though some purists prefer to enjoy them as they are.

Birthday Pie

16 Mar

One of the best parts of having a birthday is getting exactly what you want. I’m not talking presents here; I’m talking about dessert. Whether it’s funfetti cupcakes, an ice cream cake, or a giant cookie, there are few things more satisfying than the finale of your birthday meal. Last weekend, as part of a birthday feast, I attempted my very first gluten-free apple pie.

The birthday boy seemed to enjoy it (this is his second piece). The crust didn’t turn out as flakey as one with regular flour, but it held together well and had a good texture. Next time, I’m going to try a non-nut flour mixture and butter instead of crisco to lighten it up a bit.

Apple pie

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • Flour Mixture: 1.5 c hazelnut flour, ½ c sorghum flour, ¾ c all-purpose gluten-free flour, ½ tsp xantham gum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 c butter-flavored Crisco
  • ½ c water

Filling:

  • 9 apples sliced (I used a mixture of crispin, granny smith, ginger gold)
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/3 c all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash salt
  • 1-2 tbsp butter

Directions:

For the crust, combine the dry ingredients. Next, cut in the Crisco. Slowly add up to a ½ cup of water until the dough reaches a pliable, but not runny, consistency. Refrigerate dough for up to an hour.

While the dough is chilling, slice the apples and combine filling ingredients (except for the butter) in a large bowl. Stir well. Let the mixture hang out for about fifteen minutes until it starts to get juicy.

After the dough has cooled, separate it in half. Roll out the first half and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. Work the dough with your hands to spread it out. Add the filling. Place nubs of butter over the top of the filling. Now roll out the second half of the dough. I found that the dough held together well, but needed a little coaxing to get it to cover the whole pie. To make things easier, I cut it into strips and crisscrossed them to form a lazy basket-weave pattern. This allowed me to pinch together any bits that fell off much more easily than if I had rolled out the dough and tried to fit it on top of the pie whole. If you decide to do the top crust as one piece, be sure to cut slits in it to let out the steam. If you want, you can paint the top crust with an egg wash to get a little extra crisp and color. I skipped this step, and didn’t really notice a difference. If you want to get really decadent you could apply the egg wash, then sprinkle the top of the pie with some sugar.

Cover the periphery of the crust with foil.

Preheat you oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil – this is going to get messy. Cook the pie for approximately 50 minutes (baking times vary so check your pie at about 40 minutes to see how it’s doing). If you notice the top of your pie is browning too quickly (like I did), cover the top of it in foil. I added mine at after about fifteen minutes. Remove all of the foil after 40 minutes to allow it to turn golden. Remove the pie from the oven, and use all the willpower you can muster to allow it to cool before cutting into it.

Excellent song, but the video is not for the easily disturbed.

Cinnamon Crispy Balls

5 Mar

Balls are great: cute, round, bite-sized, versatile, delicious, and funny. They’re even easily transportable. The perfect food? Perhaps. These cinnamon crispy balls are certainly delightful. Not too sweet and protein-packed, they’re the perfect punctuation to a meal, and yummy as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. They may not be Schweddy balls, but they’re still pretty darn good.

Cinnamon Crispy Balls ~ yields 13 cookie-baller-sized balls

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup pb mixed with 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp crispy rice cereal
  • dark chocolate cocoa powder for sprinkling

Process

1. Combine wet and sticky ingredients.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the crispy rice cereal.

3. Stir in crispy rice cereal. For more cereal-dense bars, increase the amount of cereal by 1 tbsp at a time until you achieve your desired consistency.

4. Using a cookie-baller or your hands, form the dough into 1 – 2 inch thick balls.

5. Dust ball with unsweetened cocoa powder.

Variations on a theme: dust with powdered sugar for sweeter balls, or add mini-marshmallows and chocolate chips for a decadent dessert.

Recipe inspired by Oh, She Glows 5-minute chocolate peanut butter chews