3.08.2017

Carrot Cake Oatmeal - My Way


Today is my birthday!  I'm celebrating the fact that I'm still alive!  I'm healthy!  I can run, not as fast, but I'm still hitting the pavement 5-6 days a week.  I enjoy a few workouts at Orange Theory each week, which kicks my trash. Basically I feel like I'm 20 years old until I look in the mirror.  Yikes!  I try my hardest to eat as healthy as possible.  I pretty much make everything from scratch.  I avoid processed foods like the plague.  I eat my greens and drink them too.  

On my birthday I give myself a gift of eating whatever I want.  If I have a birthday cake, I go for Carrot Cake or Chocolate, Chocolate, double loaded with Chocolate Cake. While perusing Pinterest for a great cake idea, I noticed many pins for Carrot Cake Oatmeal recipes.  This turned on a light in my head.  Wow!  I love oatmeal and I love carrot cake.  I can totally improve this recipe.  I can create the greatest birthday breakfast ever...Carrot Cake Oatmeal...MY WAY!  


The recipe is pretty simple.  You will need:

1 cup cooked oatmeal of choice (I'm using Bob's Redmill Steel cut)
1 slice Carrot Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing (because cinnamon and oatmeal are a match made in heaven)

Place one cup cooked oatmeal mixed with cream and maple syrup in a bowl.  Top with a large slice of carrot cake.  EAT!

It's not coincidence that it's National Women's Day on March 8th.  To all of you wonderful women born on this day, GO US!   I wish you a happy birthday.  Celebrate in style because you are one fabulous woman! 



 Oh...I think I'm going to be sick....

Next week...Green Juice!







3.02.2017

Steamed Banh Mi with Braised Beef Cheeks


Steamed buns Banh Mi are over the top delicious.  I love the briny crunch of the fresh vegetables.  I really love raw beets, that why I decided to quick pickle them along with the carrots, jalapenos and spring onions.  I generally add cucumbers to to mix as well, but I used up my cukes juicing.  

Don't look at the recipe and freak because there are more than FIVE ingredients.  Please have an open mind.  This is a pretty simple recipe and will blow you away with flavor.  You won't regret it.  All of the components can be made a day in advance, which makes it a breeze to put together.


I have a recipe for Steamed Buns on the blog with step-by-step, of course.  Someday if you're feeling all gourmet, give them a try.  If not, another option would be to purchase frozen buns from an Asian market and re-heat according to the package directions OR you can just purchase some baguette and make a killer sandwich OR if you are GF or Paleo, snuggle everything inside a nice bibb lettuce leaf.




Let's start by making some quick pickled veggies.  Yes, you can make these a day ahead.  Maybe even two days.

You will need:
1 large carrot, julienne
1 large beet, julienne
2-3 jalapenos, sliced
2 spring onions
2 cups rice vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar


Dissolve 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon salt in 2 cups rice vinegar.



Place all prepared veggies into individual jars.  Pour vinegar mixture to over veggies.


Cover with a lid and refrigerate until ready to use.

Oh Snap!  That was easy.


I received my Butcher Box for February and was completely surprised to see Beef Cheeks in the box.

Whaaaaaa?  I have never, ever in my life found beef cheeks in a Utah butcher store.  EVER!  I was pretty excited and knew that I was going to make steamed buns with the cheeks.  I'll let you know right up front that I don't eat a lot of meat.  When I do, it's got to be awesome.  

You will need:

3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. Chinese Five Spice
2 tablespoons coconut sugar or brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup coconut water, water or unsalted beef broth
2 lbs. beef cheeks or beef chuck roast, cut into 3-inch pieces
2 tablespoons coconut oil

I realize the list looks overwhelming, but it isn't.  Most of the ingredients are going into a sauce that the beef in cooked in.  Basically you are going to measure, stir, pour, cook.  Easy peasy.



In a small bowl, stir the first 8 ingredients together.  That would be the garlic, ginger, soy, vinegar, Chinese five spice, coconut sugar, chili garlic sauce and sesame oil.  Just stir it all together.


Set aside.


Melt 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a pan, heavy pot or in the pan of a pressure cooker.

Add beef to the hot oil.  Brown on all sides.  Don't over crowd your beef or you will be steaming it instead of browning.


Once the beef has browned remove from pan.


Deglaze the pan with 1 cup coconut water, unsalted beef broth or just plain water.


Return the beef and coconut water to the pot your are going to cook it in.  It can be a heavy pot, crockpot or a pressure cooker.  You choose.

Pour the soy mixture over the meat.  Cover with a tight fitting lid.  Place covered pot in a 275 degree preheated oven and bake for 4-5 hours.  If using a crockpot, cook for 4 hours on high heat.  If using a pressure cooker, cook for 30 minutes then let the pressure release on it's own.


One the beef cheeks are nice and tender, remove from pot and shred with two forks.  Drain off as much fat as possible from the juices in pan.  Reserve the juices and discard the fat.

Return meat and juices back into the pot.  I like to let the meat warm in the juices until ready to serve. If using a crockpot, turn to low until ready to serve.  If using a pressure cooker, keep on warm until ready to serve.  I have kept the beef on low for as long as 4 hours.  You can also, keep warm on a stove top.  So many choices.


To serve, arrange beef in a split steamed bun.  Top with pickled veggies and a drizzle of sriracha.

DON'T FORGET THE SRIRACHA.

Enjoy.  Again and again.





Steamed Banh Mi with Braised Beef Cheeks

Pickled Vegetables:
2-3 jalapeno peppers, sliced
1 carrot, julienne
1 beet, julienne
2 spring onions, sliced
2 cups rice vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar

Braised Beef:
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. Chinese Five Spice
2 tablespoons coconut sugar or brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup coconut water, water or unsalted beef broth
2 lbs. beef cheeks or beef chuck roast, cut into 3-inch pieces
2 tablespoons coconut oil
8 1- 10 steamed buns (recipe:  Steamed Buns)  OR use bibb lettuce leaves to make lettuce wraps

optional:  Sriracha  (optional, but mandatory)

To make the pickled vegetables:
Place jalapenos, carrots, beets, and onions in separate jars.  Mix rice vinegar, salt, and sugar together until dissolved.  Poor vinegar mixture equally over prepared veggies.  Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Braised Beef Cheeks:

In a small bowl, mix together garlic, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, Chinese 5 spice, coconut sugar, chili garlic sauce, and sesame oil. Set aside.  Heat, skillet or pan or pressure cooker, brown beef on all sides in the coconut oil.  Do not crowd the pan.  Remove beef and deglaze pan with coconut water, beef broth or water.  Return beef to pot or a crockpot.  Pour soy mixture over meat.  Cover tightly with a lid and cook beef in a 275 degree oven for 4-5 hours or until tender.  Remove beef from juices and using two forks shred the beef.  Strain off any fat that has accumulated and discard the fat. Return juices to pot. Add beef to pot and keep warm until ready to serve.

Crockpot:  If using a crockpot, cook on high heat for 4 hours.  Follow directions above.

Pressure Cooker:  Pressure on high for 30 minutes.  Follow directions above.  After beef has been shredded and fat has been removed from juices, return to pressure cooker and cook beef in juices on low pressure for another 5 minutes.  Beef can be left on low heat until ready to serve for 2-3 hours.


Notes:  


  • Frozen pre-made steamed buns may be purchased in an Asian market.  Follow directions on package for reheating.  
  • Note the option for GF or Paleo with the use of Bibb lettuce leaves.  
  • Cucumbers, radishes, or other veggies may be used also.

2.22.2017

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


I'm in a cooking slump.  I'm longing for summer seasonal fruits and vegetables that can't be found.  I need to pull myself out of it because I have several months to wait until I'm harvesting my garden. Utah's winter has been sooooooo long (whining).  

When all else fails, make cookies.  Cookies are one of my favorite food groups.  You can find it on my personal food pyramid right below chocolate next to chocolate cake.  

Oatmeal raisin cookies is one of the most requested recipes I get from readers.  I have played around with several recipes.  I have adapted this recipe that was given to me by a wonderful woman who rocks oatmeal raisin cookies which rival her raspberry jam made from her home grown raspberries.  


The recipe begins with soaking the raisins in beaten eggs and vanilla.  What?  I don't know why, but I'm not going to question the formula because it makes a fantastic old fashions oatmeal cookie just like your grandma used to make.




The ingredient list:

3 eggs, well beaten
1 cup raisins
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup (like Lyle's) Sorry not pictured, I spaced it
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup walnuts







Stir in the raisins.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.  I like to soak overnight, but who remembers to do that?


This is what the mixture looks like after 8 hours of soaking.


In a large bowl, cream 1 cup butter.


Add the brown sugar, white sugar, and golden syrup.  Golden syrup makes everything more amazing. More like golden magic.  Mix for 3-4 minutes.



Sift all-purpose flour, wheat flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.




Add to butter, sugar mixture.


Add rolled oats.  Mix well.  The mixture will be very stiff.


Add raisin mixture and walnuts.


Lick the beater.


I use a 2 tablespoon size ice cream scoop to drop the dough.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

At the point I like to cover and refrigerate at least an hour or even better freeze overnight.  Frozen cookie dough helps the cookie to be thicker and more chewy.

Bake cookies in a 350 degree preheated oven for 10-12 minutes

Just bake a couple of minutes longer if frozen.


I always eat at least one cookie hot from the oven.




Just add a cold glass of milk.


Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies
3 eggs, well beaten
1 cup raisins
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup (like Lyle's) Sorry not pictured, I spaced it
2 cups all-purpose flour (you can use 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour)
1/2 cup wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup walnuts

Combine beaten eggs, raisins and vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for at least an hour or overnight.  

In a large mixing bowl cream butter.  Add white sugar, brown sugar and golden syrup and mix for 3-4 minutes.  In a medium size bowl sift together the flours, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.  Add to the butter mixture and blend.  Add oatmeal.  The batter will be very thick.  Add walnuts and soaked raisin mixture.  Mix until well blended.  Dough may be refrigerated at this time or drop onto a cookie sheet and freeze overnight for a thicker, chewier cookie.

Drop cookie dough using a 2 tablespoons scoop onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.  You may need to bake an additional minute or two if dough is frozen.  Makes approx 32 cookies that are 4-5 inches in diameter.

2.13.2017

Cocoa vs Cacao


Cocoa vs Cacao. What is the difference and why does it matter?  

The difference is in the processing.  They start out at the same place, but the way they are processed can make a difference in the health benefits.    

Raw cacao powder is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans. The process keeps the living enzymes in the cocoa and removes the fat (cacao butter). Cocoa looks the same but it's not. Cocoa powder is raw cacao that's been roasted at high temperatures.

Cacao powder contains more fiber and calories than cocoa powder since more of the nutrients from the whole bean are still intact. Cacao is an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, cholesterol-free saturated fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, natural carbohydrates, and protein that make it an excellent source of nutrients.  

Cocoa powder is produced similarly to cacao except cocoa undergoes a higher temperature of heat during processing. Surprisingly, it still retains a large amount of antioxidants in the process and is still excellent for your heart, skin, blood pressure, and even your stress levels

And what about Dutch-processed?
Dutch-processed cocoa powder (dark cocoa) is cocoa powder that has been processed with an alkalized solution, making it less acidic and much richer in taste. Regular cocoa powder retains a more acidic nature and bitter taste, and is used in baking recipes with baking soda where Dutch-processed cocoa powder is not since it has already been alkalized. Generally speaking your should add a bit of baking powder to recipes that use dutch-processed. Like wise if you are using Dutch-processed to replace a recipe using regular cocoa powder, you will need to add some acid in the form of baking soda, if the recipe doesn't already call for it.  

What do I use?  All of the above!  What should you use?  Food is subjective so I can't say you have to use one particular brand.  I can only share what cocoa powders or cacao that I love in my recipes.  

As you can see from the photo above, all 4 cocoa powders (all from my kitchen) vary in color.  
I can honestly say they are all my favorite but for different reasons.  

Raw Cacao:  I use primarily cacao in smoothies, protein bars, granola, hot chocolate,  I add a spoonful to my Pero (not a coffee drinker).  Oh I should mention that I don't like super sweet hot chocolate.  I generally add a heaping teaspoon to milk or almond milk with only a pinch of coconut sugar and that's it.  I love dark chocolate so why add sugar?  

Cocoa powder: I have picture above my three favorite cocoa powders and they make killer cakes, cookies and ice cream.  
  • Guittard Dutch-processed is fabulous in all of my cake recipes.  I love the dark chocolate flavor.
  • Scharffen Berger cocoa - Be still my heart!  Have you every made a Scharffen Berger Brownie?  Over. The. Top.
  • Valhrona cocoa - Just take a look at the color.  Notice how dark and rich in color it is?  Fabulous in brownies, cakes, cookies, ice cream (oh ya), Have you ever tried a Valhrona Chocolate Bouchon?  Heaven...absolute heaven.  


Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato Cake



Chocolate Mint Brownies



Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Buttercream



Chocolate Gelato

You will find more chocolate recipes in my recipe index.  I think it's pretty obvious I prefer chocolate cakes.

Have I mentioned chocolate is my favorite food group?



All cocoa powders were purchased from Amazon.

Sources:  One Green Planet, I Quit Sugar, and Paleo Hacks