September 27, 2011

carrot cake breakfast bars

If you have a fondness for carrot cake and granola bars these breakfast bars will make your taste buds happy.  I made a huge tray of them and brought a stack of them to my manafrienger (manger + friend) who just so happens to be pregnant.  I figure if the pregnant lady likes them, then I would have a winner.  Preggo approved! 

I originally started out with the intention to make some gluten free granola bars as a snack to have before my Monday night women’s running group.  I need something between lunch and our Monday evening meet ups to give me some energy for running in 90+ degree weather.  I researched granola bars and found a recipe from Simply Gluten Free to try, which looked lovely.  As I gathered up my ingredients I found I had a bunch of carrots and assorted dried fruits in the cupboard and thought, well…why not, let’s try and make these taste like carrot cake and see what happens.  Now these did not turn out like a granola bar, definitely a breakfast bar.  They have just the right amount of chew, texture and fruit flavor, perfect with a cup of coffee. they remind me of the vegan oat bars I use to get from Cafe Ladro in West Seattle, one of my favorite treats!

carrot cake breakfast bars
adapted from: Simply Gluten Free Granola Bars

3/4 cup Sunbutter (or peanut butter)
1/2 cup agave (or brown sugar if you prefer)
1 medium banana, peeled and mashed
1/2 cup earth balance butter substitute (or butter)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 1/2 cups certified gluten-free rolled oats (I used bob's red mill)
1 cup dried unsweetened pineapple (chopped fine or throw in food processor and chop)
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup pitted dates (chopped or food processed to bits)
1 cup raisins
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes/shreds 
2 tablespoons raw turbinado sugar (optional)

Here's what you do: 
Prep all your dried fruits, either chop or pulse them in the food processor before you begin. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with gluten-free, non-stick cooking spray

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sunbutter, agave, mashed banana, melted earth balance (or butter), vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg until very well combined.  Stir the remaining ingredients until they are evenly distributed. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar (optional).  Press mixture firmly and evenly into prepared pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool completely.  (I cooled mine overnight and the flavors really came together).  Cut into bars and wrap in plastic.  I wrapped mine individually and put them in a jar on the counter.  They will keep for about 5 days at room temp or up to a week in the fridge.  

These bars would easily make a good cereal or topping for yogurt, ice name it.  I crumbled up a couple of the bars and topped it off with some more coconut shreds and almond milk for Sunday morning breakfast. 

September 23, 2011

little happies

It's Friday and  Fridays are all about little happies!  
my little happies: 
my pup Peanut (also known as Nutter), how can that face not make you happy?! 
good coffee
clean sheets
phone calls with my sister
fresh fruit 
back to back episodes of house hunters international
sunday morning service
a good workout
and smoothies, I love smoothies, a little bit obsessed.

What are your little happies?

September 20, 2011

chocolate pb & j pie

My husband recipe tester claimed my chocolate peanut butter & jam pie to be the best natural pie I’ve ever made.   This coming from the man that rolls his eyes at my tofu sweet treats but digs in anyway.  To my surprise, hubs enjoyed this one and unless you say there is tofu in this, no one will guess.   The filling would even good on its own like a pudding if you don’t want to fuss with a crust.  Enjoy!

chocolate pb & j pie

2 cups pitted dates
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup raisins

Blend all in a food processor until it forms a dough like consistency, I had to blend mine for a couple of minutes to get everything combined.

Line a round 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper.  Press crust into pan lining the bottom and sides of pan, set aside.

1/2 package extra firm tofu
1 package tofutti better than cream cheese
3 tablespoons natural peanut butter (or sunbutter)
3 tablespoons of your favorite jam (I used my grandmas home made strawberry jam – best jam ever)
2-3 tablespoons cocoa powder (depending on how rich you want the chocolate flavor)
2 tablespoons agave
1 teaspoon vanilla

Here’s what you do:
Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth (taste along the way to be sure you have the right amount of sweetness from each of the flavors, add more as desired if you prefer a stronger flavor from the peanutbutter, etc).

Once combined pour the filling into the crust and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  The filling will become thicker and have a cheesecake texture. 

The pie is very tasty on its own, however I believe in dressing up for a party, well ok there was no party, I just love bananas and peanut butter together so I
added banana slices, a drizzle of dark chocolate and chocolate shavings.

The outcome: imagine eating a chocolate peanut butter and jelly sammy in cheesecake form!  The chocolate, peanut butter and jam were all subtle enough to not compete with each other; they blended into one big happy bite of creamy deliciousness.  I think there could be a lot of adaptations to this recipe; I will be playing with this one again. 

PS. I am still learning how to use my camera, this is the only decent shot I got and the banana slice is flying off the end of the pie. 

September 16, 2011

friday has arrived...

And this is where I plan to spend my weekend, on the Chattahoochee river which just happens to literally be my backyard.  Sunset kayak ride + good bottle of wine + bonfire with hubs = one happy girl.

What are your weekend plans?

September 15, 2011

crockpot indian chicken curry

I love my crockpot. 

Wednesday nights are busy in our house, by the time my husband and I get home from work there isn't much time to cook a meal before heading back out the door for our weekly community group.  If I'm super organized I'll plan a crockpot meal, this week, gold star for me for being organized.  

We love Indian food and so I hunted down this recipe from over at A Year of Slow Cooking, which by the way is full of wonderful crockpot recipes.  I did adapt this recipe to include more curry, because I prefer a strong curry flavor and added a bit of greek yogurt which gave it creaminess and just the right amount of tang.

crockpot indian chicken curry

1 13.5 oz can of coconut milk (don't use the light, it doesn't taste as good)

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
4-6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (or breasts if you prefer)
1 T tomato paste
2 T Greek yogurt (I used Greek Gods yogurt which is gluten free)
4 T curry powder (not a typo, it's a lot, but it's good. Curry isn't spicy, just flavorful)
1 t ground coriander
1 t ground cumin
1 inch peeled and grated ginger
few dashes of hot sauce (I used Crystals)
1 medium yellow onion chopped
2 or 3 cloves of smashed and chopped garlic
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 of an eggplant, chopped (I didn't peel)
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped

1 cup peas / raisins each (added last 30 minutes - optional)

Here's what you do:

Assemble all of your spices, coconut milk, hot sauce, tomato paste, greek yogurt . Combine the sauce ingredients in the bottom of your crockpot. The sauce will be a lovely yellow.

Add the chicken, flipping it over a few times to coat it nicely. Pour in the garbanzo beans.

Wash and chop all of the vegetables, and then add to the crockpot. Don't worry about stirring them in the sauce. Let them sit on top of the chicken and steam away.

Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours, last 30 minutes of cooking throw in your peas and raisins if desired.

Stir carefully to mix flavors. 

Serve over quinoa (or rice if you're not gluten free).

The outcome: melt in your mouth goodness, the flavors all came together and balanced each other and the raisins added just the right amount of sweetness.   

September 12, 2011

creamy, light cauliflower mac and cheese

There is a teeny tiny hint of Fall in the air down in these parts, well OK...that may just wishful thinking.  It was 87 degrees yesterday which for the South feels down right crisp compared to the sweltering sticky heat of the "summer" months.  It may have just been the lack of humidity, the air hasn't been this pleasant since April. 

Whatever the reason was, I got to thinking about Fall comfort foods and remembered a recipe I tore out of a Cooking Light magazine and stashed in the pile of recipes to try, it took a bit to unearth it as I seem to have recipes crammed into every nook and cranny of my kitchen (kitchen cupboards, drawers, laying on counters, roaming around my handbags and coat pockets) maybe I have a recipe addiction?

I did find it stuck between the pages of a book I am reading (I have issues).

I adapted this recipe to use cauliflower instead of pasta noodles for a double dose of veggies and used a soy, dairy and gluten free cheese substitute called Daiya, it actually melts and taste like honest to goodness-cheese! I am certain this would taste just as good with the real deal cheese as well. 

creamy, light cauliflower mac and cheese
adapted from Cooking Light
Makes 8 servings

You will need:
3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 pound squash)
2 1/4 cup fat free, low sodium chicken broth (reserve one cup for steaming or boiling cauliflower)
1 1/2 cup almond milk (or fat free milk)
2 garlic cloves (chopped)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 1/2  cups cheese (I used Daiyo cheddar style shreds, also available in mozzarella and pepper jack)
1 large head cauliflower ( about 1 pound)
Cooking spray

Here's what you do:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat.

Chop cauliflower florets into smaller bite size pieces, in a medium saucepan combine 1 cup chicken broth with cauliflower, steam or boil cauliflower until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Set aside.

Place hot squash mixture into a blender or food processor.  Add salt, pepper, Dijon mustard.  Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid and place a clean towel over the opening in the blender to over splatters or burns!  Blend until smooth.  Place squash mixture in a bowl; stir in your 2 cups of cheese and combine.

Add your drained cauliflower to your squash/cheese mixture and mix thoroughly.   Spread mixture evenly into a 13 x 9 inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until bubbly and browned on top.

Cool for a few minutes before diving in.

The outcome: husband approved (and real mac and cheese is one of his favorite foods), the squash and cheese tastes like a legit mac and cheese sauce, except better in my opinion and healthier.  The cauliflower has the same consistency of noodles and has lots of nooks for the cheese sauce to get into, the only change I would make is to add more Dijon but I love mustard and to add chives.  

My husband suggested next time I make this dish to add quinoa for a bit of protein in with all veggie and cheese (substitute) goodness.