Sunday, July 31, 2011

Homemade Magic Shell Ice Cream Topping - No Chemicals!

I worked at the DQ when I was in high school. I have no idea how many Dilly bars and ice cream cones I dipped in the shell stuff over those years. Or how many "chocolate chip" milkshakes and blizzards I made with it. I loved to dip a cone in the shell, stick it in the freezer to harden and then double-dip it. It ended up with a thick coating of chemical-filled, artificially flavored, chocolatey goodness. Loved it. I even tried the kind I found at the grocery store, that was years and years ago. But no more of that junk for me, especially since trying to cut out anything with ingredients that I can't pronounce. Ever read the ingredients list for your sundae toppings? Yuck!

I happened upon this recipe the other day on this blog and just had to try it, you know, for old time's sake. This was one of the easiest things I've ever made. I'm serious. Super-duper simple and much tastier than the store-bought crap that is all chemicals and artificial junk. It's 3 ingredients and can easily be made sugar-free using Stevia.

Side note: I have found some amazing sounding recipes on that blog. Check it out.

Magic Shell Topping

6 Tbsp melted coconut oil
6 Tbsp cocoa powder
4 Tbsp honey or to taste - it was too sweet for me, so I added more cocoa until I could handle it.

Mix it all together in a bowl until it's smooth. Drizzle over ice cream and let it harden. Viola!

All three ingredients are shelf-stable, so you don't need to refrigerate it. Transfer the Magic Shell to a air-tight container and put it in the pantry. Coconut oil gets super hard in the fridge, like chip a tooth hard. So if you do refrigerate it, you'll need to melt it before using it.

I put it over some Haagen Daz 5 Ingredient Vanilla ice cream and topped it all with some homemade, unsweetened, bing cherry compote. I'm telling you, it was heaven in a bowl.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Gazpacho-Salsa-Tortilla Soup

Last week, I decided to try making myself some gazpacho. I'd never had it before, but from the recipe I was looking at, I thought it would be amazing. Like eating a bowl of salsa. Sadly, I didn't like it very much at all. I did stray from the recipe a bit by 1) putting everything through the food processor in batches rather than chopping, 2) using an English cucumber without peeling it, 3) adding a jalapeno instead of hot sauce and 4) using a whole medium Vidalia onion instead of just half. (I don't use sweet onions very often and thought it would go bad if I didn't use the whole thing.)

Don't get me wrong, it tasted okay. I think that I just have a bit of a mental block when it comes to cold soup. In my experience, soup is always hot or room temperature, never cold. I tried eating it a couple times and just couldn't do it.I knew there had to be some way to salvage all these veggies that I used for the gazpacho, so I searched online. I decided to use half of it for salsa, not a big leap, and the rest for some sauce for meatballs.

Baked Salmon with Pineapple Peach Salsa

I went to the Olive Oil Store the other day and bought Lemon Olive Oil (which I use ALL the time, but sadly ran out) and Peach Balsamic Vinegar.  I liked the thought of mixing the two together in salads and was day dreaming about all of the wonderful recipes I could make with this delicious combination.  I decided that I'd create something fresh and full of flavor, and this is what I came up with!  I have to say that I am so impressed with myself, because this meal was incredible!

2 salmon fillets
1 T Lemon Olive Oil
1 t Peach Balsamic Vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Mix olive oil and vinegar together and use either your hands or basting brush to coat salmon.  Sprinkle with s & p and bake in 350 oven for 12-15 minutes or until internal temp is 145.

While the salmon is baking, you can make your salsa.  It's so simple and will probably be better after it sits for a day or so.

1 c. fresh pineapple chopped into small pieces
1 c. skin on peaches finely chopped
1/4 c. red onion finely chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper finely chopped
handful of fresh cilantro finely chopped
1-2 T peach vinegar (to taste)
a pinch of salt

Mix everything together and let sit

Once your salmon is done, just spoon a generous amount of the salsa on top and serve.  I ate mine with steamed broccoli.  It would probably be good with asparagus too.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Eric's Stuffed Chicken Breast Recipe

Eric and I were brainstorming dinner ideas the other night and this is one he came up with. It was a bit of a job stuffing them, definitely needed two extra hands or a lot of extra counter space. I don't have much counter space, so Eric was drafted as my sous chef. We served the chicken with mashed turnips (which were totally amazing, by the way) and steamed asparagus.

These are really good, but I'm still going to experiment with different fillings. I'd never done stuffed chicken breasts before, I don't like having to handle raw chicken. (I had a bad experience, gave Suzy food poisoning once cause I didn't clean up well enough.) But I faced my fear, disinfected everything and once I was done with the cutting board and knife, they went straight into the dishwasher. And everyone seems to still be healthy. Woohoo! Now that I know it's not as scary or difficult as I expected, I'm going to be stuffing all kinds of things into my chicken breasts. I'll post any winners.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Grain-Free Fudgy Brownies

Eric asked me to make brownies for him again, but the wasn't quite as impressed with the last batch as I was. So we tried the recipe from The Primal Blueprint Cookbook. I really wish we hadn't. They were awful! They smelled so good and looked pretty good, but they tasted nasty. So, we stuffed those down the disposal made another batch. They turned out wonderfully. We used Cook's Illustrated's Chewy Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies recipe and used almond and coconut flour instead of the regular flour. Not primal, but still grain-free.

5 oz Ghiradelli 86% dark chocolate
2 Tbsp coconut oil
8 Tbsp unsalted butter
9 Tbsp cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 c brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
3 oz almond flour
1-2 Tbsp coconut flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 8 x 8 pan with foil using the *sling method and butter the foil.
Melt chocolate, oil and butter together in double-boiler. Whisk in cocoa powder until smooth. Set aside to cool.
Whisk eggs and sugar together in small bowl. When chocolate mixture is slightly cooled, whisk egg mixture, vanilla and salt into chocolate. Fold or whisk in flours, using 1 Tbsp of coconut flour. If batter isn't as thick as you like, use the second Tbsp of coconut flour. (We used 2 Tbsp.)
Bake 35-40 min or until toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
These will cut much better when they are cool, so try to be patient. If you can't wait, lift the brownies out of the pan with the foil sling and cut into 1" cubes. Or just top the whole thing with some vanilla ice cream and chopped nuts and grab a spoon.

*Sling method: Fold a 12 x 12 piece of foil into a 7 x 12 rectangle. Press into pan leaving a handle on either side. Repeat with a second piece of foil laid perpendicular to the first piece. Your pan will be completely lined and the brownies will lift out for easy cooling and cutting.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Spicy Stuffed Peppers

Eric and I made these tonight for dinner. They were so tasty and super simple.

8 med bell peppers, red or green
2 med onions, chopped
2 lbs ground beef
2-3 tomatoes, 2-3" diameter, chopped
1 taco sauce mix packet - We used the kind you find at Safeway with the small packages of dried chiles and other Mexican spices. It's just spices, no fillers or starches
1/2- whole habenero chile, chopped very small
1 1/2 c grated cheese - We used half jack & half sharp cheddar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 9 x 13 pan with foil.
Brown the beef with the onions. Add tomatoes, flavor packet and 1/3 cup water and cook 3-5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add chile pepper, cook 2 minutes.
Cut tops off of peppers and remove seeds and ribs and place in foil-lined pan. Fill peppers with meat filling. Bake 30 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top of peppers and bake until melted.
Serve with sour cream and guacamole.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Grain-Free Brownies!!

Yesterday was Eric's birthday. Happy Birthday!! Since we've gone primal, we were going to pass on birthday cake. (We've both tried cheating with grains and have regretted it a lot.) But he found a brownie recipe that I decided to try. It called for rice flour, but I substituted coconut flour instead. The recipe does call for brown sugar, and I used it since I had it on hand, but honey or agave could be substituted to make it more primal-friendly.

Since I have had lousy results with baking since cutting out grains, I was worried that these wouldn't turn out well. But they did! They were slightly fudgy and moist and chocolaty. Delicious, except they were too salty. So here's the recipe after I swapped out the rice flour and cut back on the salt.

Grain-Free Dark Chocolate Brownies
Makes 8 x 8 pan

5 oz dark chocolate, chopped - I used 90% dark
1/2 c unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 c brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 oz almond meal
1 Tbsp coconut flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c chopped nuts (optional)
1/2 c chocolate chips (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Take a 12" long piece of foil and fold it lengthwise so you have a 7 x 12" rectangle. Line 8 x 8" pan with foil, leaving the excess foil hanging over the edges of the pan. (This creates a sling. You'll use the excess foil as handles so the brownies lift easily from the pan.) Spray or butter the foil and exposed sides of the pan.
Combine chocolate and butter in medium bowl. Melt chocolate and butter in microwave. Stir until smooth and set aside.
In bowl of stand mixer, beat eggs until frothy. Add brown sugar and beat until combined and no longer grainy. Slowly add chocolate mixture to eggs. When thoroughly mixed, add vanilla.
In medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add to mixer bowl and beat until well combined. (Since there's no gluten to worry about, you don't have to worry about over beating quite so much.)
Fold in nuts and chocolate chips if using.
Pour batter into pan and spread evenly with rubber spatula.
Bake 32-35 minutes.
Cool before removing from pan using foil sling and cutting into 1" squares.

I found these to be sweet enough without the chocolate chips. In fact, I may cut back on the sugar next time. They are also very rich and very filling. I ate too much because they tasted so good and ended up with an upset stomach. Beware when eating goods made with almond and coconut flours. They are much more filling than those made with regular white or whole wheat flours.

You change the flavor by decreasing the vanilla to 1 tsp and adding 1-2 tsp of peppermint, almond or some other extract.