4.27.2017

Kale Bowl with Marinated Beets, Fruit, and Pansies


My daughter gave me a book called "Your Inner Critic Is A Big Jerk", by Danielle Krysa.  My daughter knows better than I do that I second guess everything I post on this blog.  I question whether or not I should be blogging in the first place.  I second guess by content.  I second guess by photography.  I cannot tell you how many times I will spend hours on a recipe. I will photograph the step-by-step and final pics and then decide it's not good enough.  I put in in a folder where it sits never to be posted.  

I decided I was going to finish reading the book on a flight to Boston for the marathon.  I was so excited and pumped up after reading the great words of wisdom and insight found pages of this book. I kept telling myself that I can do this!  Who cares if I'm not young...like 20-30 something young. Who cares if I'm ...over 40's ish.  I have years of food experience.  I have lived in my kitchen cooking for my family for over 30 years.  I have had many successes and many failures along the way.  I have something to bring to the table of blogging.

While reading the book, I was inspired with an idea to highlight what is growing in my yard and garden.   I have wonderful herbs and flowers starting to sprout here and there.  How fun it would be tiocreate posted based on what was growing each week.

I have always wanted to use Lilac blossoms to flavor ice cream, sugar or honey.  When I returned from Boston, I noticed that my Lilac bush was in full bloom.  Earlier than the usual Mother's Day.  I picked my lilacs and carefully washed them and gently plucked every sticking blossom from each head.  I gently dried them so I could make lilac sugar and lilac honey.  I had decided on Honey Lilac Ice Cream.  The post took me a few days to photograph and prepare.  


As the ice cream churned and began to freeze, I couldn't wait any longer.  I grabbed a spoon and sampled the beautiful and creamy concoction.  I yearned of a lightly scented ice cream that would taste just as lilacs smelled.  The ice cream was creamier than I thought was possible.  The flavor was...like BROCCOLI...honey flavored BROCCOLI ice cream.  It was pretty awful.  

Out came my inner critic, "you're not fit to blog".  Feelings of insecurity came rushing into my head. I had to put away the camera and give myself a break for several days.  I should have just laughed at myself and posted the ice cream anyway as a giant FAIL because we all have those days in the kitchen.  My lilacs are going to remain in a vase with water and I'm going to enjoy the fragrance in my kitchen.  

Actually the honey tasted quite good.  I've been eating it with a spoon.  Not a complete failure.


I walked around my yard looking for a new star.  Pansies!  Pansies are edible just ask the deer that eat every pansy that I plant.  


I love eating clean whole foods.  I feel so much better when I do.  I decided to make a Kale Bowl instead of a Buddha bowl.  No grains, no protein, just plant based with a few pansies for a garnish. This kale bowl is topped with roasted marinated beets, oranges, strawberries, avocado and a few toasted almonds.

You will need the following:
1 bunch curly leaf Kale
4-5 small to medium size red or golden beets
3 oranges
strawberries
1 avocado
1/2 cup almonds
Juice and zest from one orange
citrus flavored Champagne vinegar or just Champagne vinegar
salt and pepper
hemp hearts, chia seeds, etc
pansies (make sure they are pesticide free)

Marinade:
juice from one orange
2 tablespoons citrus champagne vinegar
zest from 1/2 an orange

Salad dressing:
1/4 cup citrus champagne vinegar or champagne vinegar
1/4 cup avocado oil
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste


I like to start with washing and prepping the kale.  Thoroughly wash kale and pat dry.  Remove the tough stem and roughly chop.  Place the dry kale in a container with a lid.  Refrigerate.  The kale will last for 3-5 days or longer if nice and fresh.  This is great to have on hand and saves prep time for meals.


Was the beets and remove the long tops.  Don't throw them away.  I like to juice them, but they can be sauteed as well.  


Preheat oven to 350F.  Place beets on a large sheet of heavy aluminum foil.


Crimp the edges nice and tight.  Place on a baking sheet and cook in preheated oven for at least an hour or until a skewer can be easily inserted.



Remove the skin by gently rubbing with a cloth or paper towel.


Slice, dice or quarter the beets.  Whatever suits your fancy.


Mix juice from an orange, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and zest from 1/2 an orange to make the marinade.


Pour over chopped beets.  Refrigerate for at least an hour. They will last refrigerated for 3-5 days and the flavors improve over time.  Another advance prep step.



If you would like to roast the almonds, roughly chop.  I like to throw nuts into my huge mortar and give them a good bash just to break them up a bit.


Toss into a skillet with about 1 teaspoon oil or butter or they can be dry roasted.  Your choice.  I'm opting for butter, because buttered and salted almonds on a salad are the bomb.


Cook over low heat until lightly brown.  Remove from heat.  Nut's can be toasted in advance as well and stored at room temp.  I don't know how long they will last because I have never kept them around for longer than a day because we eat whatever is leftover.


In a small pint jar add all the ingredients for the dressing.


Give it a good shake for a minute or so.


Dressing can be made in advance as well.


To assemble:  Place desired amount of kale in a serving bowl. I like about 1 1/2 cups per serving for a main course salad.  Massage 2 tablespoons of the dressing into the kale.


Arrange the marinated beets, sliced avocado, orange wedges, sliced strawberries on top of the kale.
Sprinkle with toasted almonds. You can sprinkle with hemp hearts, chia seeds, sesame seeds, micro greens,  etc. Customize your Kale bowl.  I think grilled Salmon and cooked quinoa would be delicious.  

 


Just don't forget the pansies.


Kale Bowl with Marinated Beets, Fruit, and Pansies
1 bunch Kale, curly leaf
4-5 small to medium size red or golden beets
2 oranges
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
1 avocado, halved and sliced
1/2 cup almonds toasted, if desired or any other nuts
Juice and zest from one orange
citrus flavored Champagne vinegar or just Champagne vinegar
salt and pepper
hemp hearts, chia seeds, etc
pansies (make sure they are pesticide free)

Marinade:
juice from one orange
2 tablespoons citrus champagne vinegar
zest from 1/2 an orange

Salad dressing:
1/4 cup citrus champagne vinegar or champagne vinegar
1/4 cup avocado oil
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste


I like to start with washing and prepping the kale.  Thoroughly wash kale and pat dry.  Remove the tough stem and roughly chop. Remove and wash beets.  Wrap in foil and crimp edges tightly. Set on a baking sheet and place in a preheated 350F oven.  Bake for 1 hour or until no longer hard. I like to use a wooden skewer to poke the beets with.  The skewer should slide in easily. Segment on of the oranges.  Reserve juice and orange zest.  Set aside. 

For the Marinated Beets:  Mix juice from one orange, vinegar and orange zest together.  Pour over cooled, cooked beets. Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 3 days.  

For the Salad Dressing:  In a pint jar combine, the vinegar, avocado oil, dijon, salt and pepper.  Shake vigorously until well blended.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble the Kale Bowl:  Toss about 1 1/2 cups of chopped kale with 2 tablespoons of the dressing.  Massage kale until it begins to soften.  Place in a bowl.  Arrange marinated beets, orange segments, strawberries, avocado, slices and almonds.  Serve immediately.  Makes approx 3-4 servings.  

Optional toppings:  hemp hearts, chia seeds, sesame seeds, micro greens, other nuts and seeds


4.06.2017

Chocolate Bites and Bars

 

I admit I am completely and wonderfully addicted to chocolate.  Deep dark chocolate.  I told my husband if he ever wanted to punish me, just take away my dark chocolate.  He can have my car, credit cards and money, but NOT my chocolate!  I keep a stash hidden away in a cool dark place.  

Confession time.   I ate a bag of Cadbury mini eggs in two days.  I couldn't stop myself.  The bite of that wonderful candy shell over the creamy milk chocolate is so addicting. I decided that I needed to have an Easter treat in the house that would be completely satisfying yet on the healthier side without a lot of sugar.

I opened my pantry cupboards and starting pulling out bags of nuts, coconut, and roasted cacao nibs. Always cacao nibs.  I went into my food storage room and opened large cans of freeze dried strawberries and raspberries.  Finally I opened my tea cupboard and decided that I would love the addition of rose and lavender with a sprinkle of bee pollen.  I tempered some of my hidden dark chocolate and created these lovely little bites of heaven.  To keep the chocolate bites healthier, use chocolate that is at least 72% or higher.  I love 75 - 85% personally.  E. Guittard has some great dark chocolates and a few are vegan and delish!


A dear friend gave me this vintage candy mold several years ago.  I believe it was for molding maple sugar, but works great as a chocolate mold and was the perfect size for the perfect bite.


You will need to temper your chocolate.  This is the most important and technical challenge in this recipe. If you do not temper couverture chocolate, the chocolate will crumble, it will have a white bloom streak through out and it will loose it's snap and sheen.  I have been working with chocolate for over 30 years now and it still gets the best of me every now and then.  I have found a pretty fool proof way of melting and tempering chocolate at home.  

Tempering chocolate 101

1.  Place chocolate glass or metal bowl in an oven heated to 100 degrees F.  Not one degree hotter.  Cover with aluminum foil and let the chocolate melt overnight or several hours.  

2.  When ready to use the chocolate, place bowl over barely simmering water and bring the temperature to 113 degrees.  

3.  Remove the bowl from the water and add a small amount of shaved or chopped chocolate to the warm chocolate and stir the chocolate until the temperature has lowered to 84 degrees.

4. Place the bowl back over the hot water and bring the temperature up to 86 degrees and stir for about 5 minutes holding it at that temperature.  

5.  Now you can pour the chocolate into the molds.  I know this seems like such a hassle, but worth it in the end.

6.  Cooling the chocolate is equally as important.  Chocolate cools and hardens best at an ambient room temperature of 68 degrees.  Cool weather is better for making candy.  


 Setting up a little station makes the creations easier and more organized.

You will need:

1 lb. dark chocolate, tempered.  I'm using Callebaut intense bittersweet callets
variety of raw nuts
flaked unsweetened coconut
roasted cacao nibs
freeze dried strawberries and raspberries
dried rose petals
dried lavender
bee pollen, optional

I get asked the question if chocolate chips can be used?  My answer is preferably not.  Because chocolate chips are made to hold their shape during baking.  Melting chocolate chips will leave you with a thick melted blob.  You must add coconut oil, oil or shortening to thin the chocolate chips down enough to dip or mold.  The flavor just isn't worth the effort in my opinion.

Don't let chocolate scare you.  Just be patient and always temper your chocolate before you dip or mold.  Even with strawberries or pretzels.  For a beautiful sheen and snap, temper the chocolate.  If you just don't want to mess with tempering, start by using a molding chocolate and then work your way up to a fabulous couverture.


Make sure the mold you are using is at the 68 degree room temperature for cooling.  If the mold is too cold, it will harden too quickly. This can cause cracking and white bloom.


If the temperature is cool outside, I just open a door and try to cool my kitchen to a little less than 68 degrees.




I just happened to have a few polycarbonate chocolate molds, so I made some large bars as well.


DO NOT...I repeat...DO NOT place the molds in the refrigerator.  The chocolate will harden too quickly and can cause cracking, white bloom or crumbly chocolate.  I have watched a few Youtube videos on making chocolate bars and all the them place the chocolate in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to harden.  Don't do it.  Be patient and let the cool room temperature harden the chocolate for you.


With the clear mold I can tell when it is time to remove the chocolate bars.  As you can see the different color of the chocolate against the mold.  The dark brown areas show me that the chocolate isn't ready to be released. Be patient.  Wait for it...wait for it....



Now the chocolate has released itself from the mold.  Gently tip the mold over and the chocolate will drop right out.


Forcing the chocolate out of the mold my tapping or shaking it out will cause a dull spot on the bar where it had not yet released itself.   

I have a few air bubbles, which means I should have tapped the mold with the melted chocolate in it on the counter a few times to release the air bubbles.  Oh well, at least the chocolate is shiny and tempered very well.  It has a good snap to it.



If molds are not available, drop chocolate onto waxed paper by teaspoons and arrange toppings on top the the chocolate mounds.



This was so much fun.  I loved making the different flavor combinations.  My favorite combo was strawberry, rose, pistachio and a hint of bee pollen.


A perfect bite.






Chocolate Bites and Bars

1 lb. dark chocolate, tempered
variety of raw nuts or seeds
flaked unsweetened coconut
roasted cacao nibs
freeze dried strawberries and raspberries
dried rose petals
dried lavender
bee pollen
molds or wax paper

Tempering chocolate 101

1.  Place chocolate glass or metal bowl in an oven heated to 100 degrees F.  Not one degree hotter.  Cover with aluminum foil and let the chocolate melt overnight or several hours.  

2.  When ready to use the chocolate, place bowl over barely simmering water and bring the temperature to 113 degrees.  

3.  Remove the bowl from the water and add a small amount of shaved or chopped chocolate to the warm chocolate and stir the chocolate until the temperature has lowered to 84 degrees.

4. Place the bowl back over the hot water and bring the temperature up to 86 degrees and stir for about 5 minutes holding it at that temperature.  

5.  Now you can pour the chocolate into the molds.  I know this seems like such a hassle, but worth it in the end.  Arrange with your favorite nuts, fruits, seeds, etc.

6.  Cooling the chocolate is equally as important.  Chocolate cools and hardens best at an ambient room temperature of 68 degrees.  Cool weather is better for making candy.  

Store in a cool place.  Once the chocolate is tempered, relax and enjoy making your own variations and flavors.  I can't think of any further instructions to give you.  If you have questions, just shoot me the question in the "contact me" drop down and I'll respond as soon as I can.  


3.28.2017

Quinoa Stuffed Avocados



I had hoped to post this before St. Patrick's Day, but we had a grand celebration with all of our kids and grandkids in town.  There was a party in the house.  Such a great 10 days with all the kiddos around.  Good times.

I have been anxious to make and post this recipe for quinoa stuffed avocados.  This recipe gives you the healthy fats found in avocados and protein from the quinoa.  Along with kale, red peppers and a fabulous jalapeno lime dressing made from soaked and blended cashews, this recipe is healthy from the inside out.  




As you know I married a carnivore and I prefer eating vegetarian.  He thinks the nutrition theory around kale is a conspiracy and avocados should be left on the tree.  However, he really enjoys a plate of wild rockets (arugula) with a squeeze of lemon and EVOO.  I'm afraid tell him arugula has antioxidant benefits and detoxifying power and more.   Baby steps.  Baby steps.  Someday I will let him know that I slip a bit of avocado into his smoothies and the parsley that I garnish his meals with is really curly leaf kale...or not.


This is such a simple recipe and makes a great lunch.  You will need:

1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1 cup chopped baby kale or any other kale
2 avocados
handful of pumpkin seeds (I'm using raw)


Place all of the stuffing ingredients in a small bowl.


Stir then set aside.


For the creamy jalapeno lime sauce you will need:

1 cup soaked raw cashews (soaked for at least 2-4 hours)
2-4 tablespoons cilantro
1/4 - 1/3 cup lime juice, to taste
1/2 jalapeno
1 clove garlic (not pictured, whoops)
salt to taste
water


Place the cashews, jalapenos, cilantro, garlic, and lime juice in a blender.  Blend until smooth while slowly drizzling in water to make a pourable, but not runny, consistency.  Start with 1/4 cup water and add from there.


Blend until very smooth and creamy.  I was eating this with a spoon it was so delicious.


Cut avocados in half and remove the pit.


Carefully remove from outer shell.  


Fill the hallow part of the avocado with the quinoa mixture.


Drizzle with cashew cream (I doused more than drizzled to be honest).  I like to serve the avocado on a bed of wild rockets (baby arugula) drizzled with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper.  I love the peppery arugula combined with the stuffed avocado.  It creates the perfect bite and adds another healthy element that is full of flavor.


Here's to our health.  


Quinoa Stuffed Avocados

1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1 cup chopped baby kale or any other kale
handful of pumpkin seeds (I'm using raw)
2 avocados

optional:  Arugula drizzled with fresh lemon juice and a splash of EVOO for plating

Jalapeno Lime Cashew Cream:
1 cup raw cashews (soaked for at least 2-4 hours)
2-4 tablespoons cilantro
1/4 - 1/3 cup lime juice, to taste
1/2 jalapeno
1 clove garlic (not pictured, whoops)
salt to taste
1/4 cup water, or more

In a small bowl, stir together quinoa, red pepper, kale, and pumpkin seeds.  Set aside.  Make the cashew cream by blending cashews, cilantro, lime juice, garlic and salt.  Slowly add water while blending until a creamy, smooth.  Take care not to make the cream too thin.

Cut avocados in half and remove the pit.  Fill with quinoa mixture and drizzle with cashew cream. Serve on a bed of arugula that has been dressed with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately because you'd had for your avocados to turn brown.  Makes 2-4 servings.

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