Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Frozen Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pie

Yup. It's happening. This pie is just delicious. So much that I made it 3 times (this is the third) and never got to post about it because it was all gone before I was able to take photos. The pie is entirely gluten free, dairy free and mostly sweetened by just dates. Sounds too good to be true, I know. And it is.


I'm not going to go on and on about how I licked the empty pie dish or how I caught my husband in the middle of the night (head-in-freezer) eating this pie because you just need to go and MAKE IT.

Basically, if you like frozen peanut butter cups (in a pie version), then you will LOVE this. The banana is actually a very subtle taste which adds to the creaminess once frozen. The whole thing is just delicious and I'm quite upset I don't have any left right now to eat. Okay. Enough.


GO MAKE THIS!

FROZEN CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER BANNAN PIE

CRUST
1½ cups blanched almond flour
5 large medjool dates, finely chopped
Large pinch sea salt
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon of agave nectar

PEANUT BUTTER BANANA LAYER
3 tablespoons of unsweetened peanut butter (chunky or creamy)
1 large ripe banana, sliced

CHOCOLATE FILLING
3 medium ripe bananas, cut into pieces
5 large medjool dates, chopped
1 cup light, unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 packet of stevia, trivia or splenda (or you can use agave - sweeten according to taste)
1 bag of Enjoy Life chocolate chips

Start by making your crust. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 inch pie plate with non-stick cooking spray. Prepare the crust by combining the almond flour, dates and salt in a food processor. Pulse until the dates and almond flour are well combined. Add the oil and agave and process until the mixture starts to come together like a dough. Press into the pie dish evenly. Bake for 12–15 minutes or until the crust has browned, it may seem soft but it will harden up as it cools. Let cool completely (you can even make this the night before and refrigerate covered overnight).


Once the crust is completely cooled, spread an even layer of peanut butter on top. Then add your banana slices so it covers the peanut butter in one layer. It should look like the above photo.

Next, prepare the chocolate filling by combining the bananas, dates, almond milk, cocoa powder, vanilla and sweetener of choice in a food processor. Process until smooth. Do a taste test to see if it is the right amount of sweetness for you. If you want, you can add more sweetener but it should be pretty sweet already from the dates and bananas. Pour the mixture on top of the peanut butter and banana layer and top with the chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4 hours. Can be made 1 – 2 days ahead.


About ½ hour before serving, take the pie from the freezer, remove the plastic wrap and let set at room temperature until it is soft enough to cut. Slice and serve immediately. Now DIG IN!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Lately I have been really into making sauces and purees from fresh veggies to top over fish, meat, tacos, pasta, burgers, etc.....basically to put on everything. It's really a brilliant idea if you think about it. As long as you have a delicious sauce, your meal will taste that much better. You can simply grill, pan fry, or roast your fish, chicken or meat and just add a delicious sauce over-top and voila! You have one tasty meal without going through a lot of trouble.

This sauce is a new favorite made by roasting whole red bell peppers and pureeing them with fresh sauteed garlic, shallot, white wine, chicken stock and of course some fresh grated Italian cheese. (You can also do a vegan/dairy free version using vegan cheese Parmesan such as Go Veggie. )

The best part about this sauce is that you can make it ahead of time and store it in your fridge.....then break it out again when your ready to top that piece of fish or chicken with a sauce that will literally make you lick your plate.

ROASTED RED PEPPER SAUCE
2 red bell peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons white wine
6 tablespoons chicken stock
2 tablespoons of freshly grated Italian cheese (I used a trio mix of Parmesan, Asiago and Romano)
1 tablespoon of whipped butter (which is less fat than regular butter) or butter substitute
The juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place whole bell peppers on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 40 minutes (turning halfway through). The skin should be shriveled and darkened in spots. Like the below:

Place peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 15 minutes, allowing them to "sweat". Next remove the skin of the peppers (it should easily come off as the roasting will make the skin shrivel up and separate from the interior. I just pulled it off with my fingers; like below). 


Remove the stems and seeds and cut into strips. You will have some beautiful roasted red peppers! If you aren't looking to make a sauce, you can just stop here and store your peppers with some olive oil in a jar and enjoy over salads or to put out with meat and cheese for antipasti appetizer.

Place sliced peppers on a plate and set aside. Heat olive oil in sauce pan over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook until soft. De-glaze with the white wine and cook for 1 minute stirring well. Add the chicken stalk and red peppers. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring. Pour mixture into a blender and add the two tablespoons of cheese, the butter, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Blend on the "puree" option until smooth. Add additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve over meat, fish, pasta, tacos......whatever your little heart desires!


 Store in an airtight container in the good ole fridge. I guarantee it wont last long :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pesto Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes (Grain-free, Vegan)

I can't begin to explain how excited I am about this recipe. It basically made my whole weekend. Sad, I know. But to have finally come up with a grain-free pizza recipe that is ALSO vegan....and tastes amazing? I mean, yeah. Made my weekend. So much that my husband and I made this first Friday night, and then again on Saturday. (And this wasn't eating leftovers. This was remaking from scratch).

Pizza has always been a favorite of mine (I mean, who doesn't love it?) But it also is something I have had to cut out of my diet since the tummy does not handle it well. So I'm sure you can understand my excitement with this new recipe.


The secret ingredient to this grain-free pizza is cauliflower. There are many cauliflower pizza crust recipes out there but they always turn out too mushy or soggy. After much trial and error, I am happy to have found one that both my husband and I enjoyed so much that we made it two nights in a row. And I can't wait to eat it again. And agian. And again......


PESTO PIZZA WITH ROASTED TOMATOES

Pizza Crust:

1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed and sliced
2 tablespoons of almond flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon of oregano or favorite Italian seasoning
Pinch of salt
Makes 1 personal-size pizza crust (about 4 slices)

Pizza topping:
Vegan Pesto (can make ahead)
4 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved (I used red and yellow)
1 shallot, sliced
Olive oil
Salt
Vegan Mozzarella Cheese (I use Daiya which melts great!)

Start by roasting your tomatoes (which you can make ahead if you want, even a day or two). Toss tomatoes and shallot with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Spread out evenly on a cookie sheet and roast in oven at 400 degrees for about 18 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and chard in spots. Set aside.

The cauliflower "dough" after it has been squeezed of all the excess liquid.

Next make your pizza crust. (My crust recipe is inspired from detoxinista.com, a great food blog with tons of healthy recipes and nutritional tips. My version however is vegan and tweaked a bit). Add your sliced cauliflower pieces into a food processor and pulse until the consistency of rice. (You will probably need to do this in batches unless you have a gigantic food processor). Next, in a large pot, bring 1 inch of water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and cover. Let cook on medium for about 5 minutes and drain into a fine mesh strainer. Let it sit in the strainer for a few minutes to cool off as it will be really hot for the next step.

Now pour the drained cauliflower into a clean dish towel and twist it up, squeezing (I mean SQUEEEEZING) all of the moisture out. (Be careful because it will be very hot unless you let it cool beforehand.) You should eliminate a lot of water. This is the secret trick to making the cauliflower crust actually work. The more water you eliminate, the crisper the crust. (This is where most recipes for cauliflower crust have failed. If you don't squeeze the water out, you will get a soggy crust that falls apart when you try and pick it up). After you squeeze out all the water, you should be left with something that resembles a cauliflower "dough" rather than "riced" cauliflower.


Next, add the almond flour, egg, seasoning and salt. Mix with your hands well until everything is well distributed. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and add the dough on top. Form a circular shape or rectangle (however you want your pizza to look) that is about 1/3 of an inch thick. Make the edges a little higher so you have a more of a "crust" look. Bake for about 38 minutes on 400 degrees, or until golden and crisp around the edges.


Now doesn't that look great!? 


Next spread the pizza with Vegan Pesto (I didn't put an exact measurement since you can add as much or little as you like....I like a lot. Obviously).


Next add your vegan mozzarella cheese. (Side note: if you have not yet tried Daiya Vegan Cheese, you will be pleasantly surprised how well it melts and subs for regular mozzarella. My husband (someone who is FAR from a vegan) had his first taste of melted Daiya this weekend and started making nachos as a pre-dinner snack while impatiently waiting for the pizza to be done. Needless to say he was a fan.)


Add your roasted tomato and shallot mixture on top of the cheese and then add some more mozzarella on top. Return to the oven at 400 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes or so. Remove from oven, slice and serve! 

Vegan Pesto













Vegan or not vegan, I love this Pesto. It's delicious on basically anything and is the perfect addition when wanting to add great flavor to your meal. Tons of basil and garlic make for a perfect topping/sauce/dressing/dip/spread especially in the Spring time. I especially love this on my Pesto Pizza with Roasted Tomatoes. Make a batch of this figure-friendly Pesto ahead of time and keep in your fridge until your ready to dress up your next meal with some awesome flavor!

VEGAN PESTO
2 cups of fresh basil leaves
1 to 2 garlic cloves (depending on how big of a garlic lover you are)
1/3 cup of vegan parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of chicken broth
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds or pine nuts (I used pumpkin seeds because that is what I had)

Add all ingredients to a food processor and process on high until everything is combined and mixed well. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Store in fridge (covered) and serve warm or cold atop your favorite pasta, pizza, sandwich, fish, meat, salad......the list goes on! Hope you enjoy this healthier, figure-friendly Pesto!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

This one is for all my Brussels Sprout fanatics out there. I have had these little guys a million different ways and this has to be my most favorite preparation. And best of all? There are only 4 simple ingredients. Hope you enjoy!


FRY LITTLE PIGGIES, FRY!

PERFECTLY CARAMELIZED  =)

Now top with the little fried piggies and you got yourself an awesome side dish perfect for any occasion, any time of the year!


ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH PANCETTA
1 pound of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
4 ounces of diced pancetta
1 large shallot, cut razor thin
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large oven-proof saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil until warmed and then add the pancetta. Fry up those little piggies until crisp then remove just the pancetta (leaving the oil and drippings in the pan) to a plate lined with paper towels. Cover to keep warm and set aside. Add the shallots to the pan first and then the Brussels sprouts, stirring till combined. Turn off the stove top and season with a pinch or two of salt and pepper (be careful not to over-salt since the pancetta is naturally salty anyway). Place pan in the oven and roast. Half way through, remove pan and stir, flipping over the sprouts so they are all cooked evenly. Put back in the oven and finish roasting until golden and crisp. Serve in a medium size bowl and toss in the fried pancetta. (BE CAREFUL removing the saucepan from the oven and handling it after. Carlos and I on two different occasions have both burnt our hands badly. Wear an oven mit through the whole process - believe me!)

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Seared Sea Scallops with Truffled Pea Purée

Scallops have always been a favorite of mine and whenever they are on a menu, I find it really hard not to order them. I haven't had much success of cooking them in the past - never having them match up to the melt-in-your-mouth version I always order out at restaurants.


Saturday night I had an urge to just stay in with the hubs and cook a yummy meal. I decided to try my attempt at scallops again and serving them over this to-die-for Truffled Pea Purée. And O YEAH. I can safely say that I finally conquered the restaurant-worthy scallop dish and I'm really excited about it.


This is the perfect Spring dish when peas are in season and the fresh basil brightens up the dish while the truffle oil makes it super savory at the same time. In short; this dish is a MOANER.


SEARED SEA SCALLOPS WITH TRUFFLED PEA PUREE
Serves 2

Seared Scallops

8 large sea scallops
1 cup of boiled water
4 cups of cold water
1/2 cup of salt
3 tablespoons of butter (I used whipped butter which has a lower fat content)
Salt for seasoning
Chopped basil for garnish

Truffled Pea Purée
2 tablespoon of butter (I used whipped butter which has a lower fat content)
1 large shallot, chopped
2 garlic gloves, chopped
14 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup of chicken broth
3 cups of peas (fresh or use frozen and thaw out)
1/4 cup of fresh shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons of black truffle oil
3 pinches of salt

Start by making a quick brine bath for your scallops. This will season them all the way through (tip from the Thomas Keller Ad Hoc cookbook :) Combine the 1 cup of boiled water with the salt in a large bowl, stirring to dissolve the salt. Add the cold water. Next add the scallops to the brine and let stand for 10 minutes (no longer, or the scallops may become too salty). Drain the scallops, rinse under cold water, and arrange in a single layer on a paper towel lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate while you make the pea purée. 

In a large sauce pan over medium heat, add butter and coat the pan until melted. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until soft and fragrant (about 4 minutes - the shallot should look translucent). Toss in the basil and then pour in the chicken broth and peas. Lower the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Toss in the fresh Parmesan and stir. Pour everything into a blender and pour in the two tablespoons of truffle oil and three pinches of salt. Blend on the purée setting until smooth. Do a taste test and get ready to moan! (Feel free to add more salt or more truffle oil depending on preference). Pour into a bowl or pot with a lid to keep warm.

Next, take your scallops out of the fridge and pat dry with a paper towel. (Side note: with 8 large scallops you will want to cook them in separate skillets because you don't want to overcrowd the scallops. In order for them to get a nice sear on the outside, they can't be touching or too close to one another. The best pan to use for searing scallops is a cast iron skillet (you get the best sear from cast iron), but a regular non-stick frying pan will work too.) Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter to each skillet and warm over medium high heat. Make sure the pans are well coated (if not, add more butter). Sprinkle the scallops lightly with salt and add four to each skillet, being careful that they do not touch. Do not move the scallops once they are in the pan. You want to make sure each side gets a nice caramelized sear. Cook for about 3 to 3 1/2 minutes and flip (try and place each one on a part of the pan that has not yet been touched). Let caramelize and sear for another 3 minutes or so. They should be golden brown on the outside (Make sure you don't over cook! Nothing is worse than an overcooked scallop).

Heat up your pea puree if you need to in the microwave and stir. To plate, spoon a nice portion of the pea puree onto two separate plates, topping with four scallops on each plate. Drizzle with some more truffle oil and sprinkle with fresh chopped basil.

I hope you enjoy my new favorite dish! I wish I was eating it right now....

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Crispy Cheesy Lemon Asparagus with Fried Eggs

This scrumptious dish formed in my mind in the middle of the night. I'll admit it. I often fall asleep to food. Instead of counting sheep, I count cookies. And, (of course) new recipe ideas. I thought up this recipe because on whim I had bought a bunch of organic asparagus but had no real plans for it. I usually just broil or grill asparagus with olive oil, lemon and salt.


It was time for a change! So taking what I had in my fridge I came up with a delicious side dish which goes along great with steak or fish - or simply to have as your main meal (which I did that night). However, I think this is a perfect "family style" side to whip up when entertaining. It reminds me of one of those giant sides you find at your favorite steak house. And come on. Anything with the name "Crispy Cheesy" is guaranteed to be a winner.


CRISPY CHEESY LEMON ASPARAGUS WITH FIRED EGGS
1 pound of asparagus, white stems chopped off
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 pinches of salt
2 tablespoons of fresh shredded parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of gluten-free bread crumbs
The zest of one large lemon
2 organic eggs cooked over-easy (or sunny-side up depending on preference)
Lemon slices for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your broiler and make sure the rack is on the top level. In a large bowl, toss your trimmed asparagus with olive oil and salt and spread out onto a cookie sheet. Set aside. In a small bowl, toss together the fresh parm, bread crumbs and lemon zest and set aside. Put the asparagus in the oven and broil until the heads start to crisp up and turn brown in spots (about 10 minutes). While the asparagus is cooking, fry up your two eggs over the stove top. I prefer mine over-easy with the yolk cooked to a soft-boil consistency so it's not oozing out but still very soft. Feel free to do them however you like. When the asparagus is almost done around 8 to 10 minutes, remove the cookie sheet and sprinkle the cheese/bread crumb mixture on top. Broil for an additional 1 to 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bread crumbs crisp. Remove asparagus from oven and arrange on a platter or serving plate. Top with the fried eggs and garnish with lemon slices. I added some additional pepper and salt just to the fried eggs and then squeezed fresh lemon juice on top for some extra lemony flavor  =)