Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Piña Colada Ice Cream

Lately my favorite toy is my ice cream machine. I am making three different ice cream flavors this week - Piña Colada being the first. And O YEAH. It's delicious. In fact, I'm eating it right now. Despite brain freeze and all. Truth is, it's just really hard to stop. Multitasking, right?

This was an obvious first-choice flavor being that it's summer and all. The perfect beach-time ice cream! I top it with delicious toasted coconut and fresh pineapple. It's basically a tropical paradise in your who wouldn't want that??

1 cup of fat free Greek yogurt
16 ounce bag of frozen pineapple chunks
1/2 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup of agave nectar
1/4 cup of almond milk
1/4 cup of water
2 packets of splenda, stevia or truvia

Set aside 1/3 cup of the pineapple chunks in a separate bowl to use as an ice cream topping for later. In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients and blend on high until smooth. Pour into your ice cream maker and let churn for about 20 minutes or until the ice cream stops moving and has become "ice cream". While the ice cream is churning, prepare your Toasted Coconut Topping (recipe below) and cut thawed-out pineapple chunks into smaller pieces (roughly cut them into 1/4 to 1/2 inch chunks). When ice cream is finished, immediately scoop into individual bowl and top with pineapple chunks and toasted coconut.

1/2 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
2 to 3 packets of splenda, stevia or truvia

Combine coconut and splenda in a bowl. Toast in a skillet over medium heat until brown and fragrant. Stir frequently so it doesn't burn (about 3 minutes). Store left over coconut in an air tight container in the fridge to use later.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Beet Salad with Black Mission Figs & Goat Cheese

If you haven't noticed, I am going through a farmer's market obsession this week. These beautiful red and golden beets I scooped up yesterday while at the farmer's market along with these mouth watering black mission figs. This whole salad actually is mouth watering. The combination of the roasted beets with the sweet mission figs and creamy goat cheese topped with chopped pecans.....can you say yum?? What a great combo.

I then whipped up this tangy Orange Dijon Vinaigrette to drizzle on top of it all.

(*Side note: a quick note about figs. In my opinion, the best kind are black mission figs. There are also brown turkey figs but I don't find them as flavorful. The most important thing when buying figs is to make sure they are really, really ripe. The more ripe, the sweeter and more flavorful. An unripe fig is not good. It hasn't developed all it's flavor yet and tastes kind of bland. This makes all the difference. A fresh fig that is ripe should actually start to taste like it's warping into a dried one. It will still feel soft and look/taste fresh, but it begins to naturally caramelize as it ripens and basically just tastes delicious.

Enough about figs. Let's get to the recipe:

3 medium red beets
3 medium yellow beets
3 handfuls of arugula
3 very ripe black mission figs, halved lengthwise
2 two-inch pieces of soft fresh goat cheese (I cut mine in the shape of triangles)
1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped pecans
Serves 1 salad portion (but you will have a lot of beets left over)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove stems from beets and scrub well. Drizzle beets with olive oil so each one is well coated. Wrap them up individually with tin foil. Place in a casserole dish and roast in the oven for about 1 hour, until a knife inserted into the largest beet meets no resistance. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes until tin foil is no longer hot to the touch. Unwrap each beet (be careful, these will still be hot!) and let cool just until you can handle them (they should still be very warm). Using disposable surgical or dish gloves (this is so you don't stain your hands and nails from the beets) you are going to remove the skins. Using a paper towel, rub each beet to remove the skin. (It should come off easily if it's still pretty warm). Separate the red beets from the golden ones so the red guys don't stain the yellow. Take each beat and cut in half lengthwise. Cut again lengthwise. Cut one more time length wise (making it 3 times total - unless your beets are more on the smaller side). Then cut each lengthwise piece in half horizontally (not lengthwise). Still keeping the red and golden beets separate, put in two different bowls and set aside. Get yourself a nice size salad plate or bowl. Add the arugula to the bowl and top with both color beets. Arrange the sliced figs around the beets and then add the goat cheese to the middle (of course you can arrange it however you like. This is just for presentation!) Sprinkle the chopped pecans on top of the cheese and elsewhere around the salad. Top with my Orange Dijon Vinaigrette and enjoy yourself a fantastic salad :)

Orange Dijon Vinaigrette

I just whipped up this light (but flavorful!) vinaigrette for my Beet Salad with Black Mission Figs & Goat Cheese. After my husband finished his salad he gave his bowl a nice full lick. Yep. He does that sometimes....I, of course didn't mind - that means it was tasty! This dressing has a tangy and sweet component from the orange and agave but balances out nicely with the dijon mustard that is added. Try it drizzled on your next salad!

2 tablespoons of good quality olive oil
4 tablespoons of fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of agave nectar
1 teaspoon of orange zest
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, orange juice and orange zest. Add the dijon mustard and agave. Whisk till combined. Add salt and pepper to taste and whisk once more. Top on your favorite salad and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Heirloom Tomato and Hearts of Palm Salad

How delicious are heirloom tomatoes? I mean they are delicious to eat obviously, but also delicious to look at! So many different colors and sizes - literally eye candy. And they actually taste as good as they look. I went to a local farmer's market today and picked up three boxes of these mini heirlooms - all in different shapes, sizes and colors.

This is a fantastic salad that is so simple to put together. Made with only the freshest ingredients, the key to this salad is "less is more." The natural flavors speak for themselves and with just a drizzle of high quality olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper, you have a healthy, framer's fresh salad that barely requires any work.

4 cups of halved mini heirloom tomatoes (in a variety of sizes and colors)
1 10.5 ounce jar of heart of palm, whole (cut into 1/2 inch slices)
1 large hass avocado or 2 small/medium ones
1/2 shallot sliced very thin
6 large leaves of fresh basil, roughly chopped
The juice of 1/2 a lemon
Very good quality olive oil (this is important!)
Celtic sea salt and pepper to taste

Add your sliced tomatoes and hearts of palm to a large bowl. Slice your avocado(s) in half, discard the seed and scoop out the inside of each half with a spoon. Cut up the avocado halves into 1 inch cubes and add to the large bowl. Add the sliced shallot and chopped basil. Toss everything together, but carefully so you don't break up the tomato halves and mush the avocado. Presentation is important for this dish! Add the Juice of 1/2 lemon and drizzle with very good quality olive oil. (*Side note: It's def. a good idea to invest in a nice bottle of olive oil. Not for your every day cooking, but for dressing up veggies and drizzling on salads, breads, etc. It really changes the taste of the whole dish and is worth investing in!) Add salt and pepper to taste and gently toss the salad to mix.

Happy Summer Tuesday :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mexican Rice Bowls

These Mexican "Rice" Bowls (emphasis on the "Rice") are made with stir-fried cauliflower. No rice here folks! But I promise, you will not miss the high-carb version. You will be shocked at the things you can do with cauliflower. I have tried rice, mash potatoes, even pizza crust. However, my favorite is making a stir-fry or "paella" with cauliflower. You will be surprised at how well it substitutes for a rice, and how well it absorbs all the flavors you incorporate to a dish. This time I did a Mexican version using roasted corn, black beans, lots of lime zest and fresh cilantro, and of course fresh seafood and even some chicken-apple sausage for some extra flavor. The flexibility of cauliflower rice is huge. You really only need to know the basics for making the "rice" and then you can have fun adding your favorite ingredients and flavors. Hope you enjoy this guilt-free dish!

1 head of cauliflower, trimmed and roughly cut into 4 or 5 segments
1 small onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup of celery chopped
3 tablespoons of chopped garlic
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons of butter substitute of choice such as Earth Balance or I can't believe it's not butter
1 15 ounce can of yellow corn (unsweetened)
1 15 ounce can of black beans
1/2 cup of sliced smoked sun dried tomatoes
1/2 pound of sea scallops
1 pound of peeled and deveined shrimp
3 links of chicken or turkey sausage of choice cut into slices (I used the fully cooked Apple Maple version from Al Fresco)
The zest of 3 limes
The juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup of chopped cilantro (if you aren't a cilantro fan as some people are not, use Italian flat leaf parsley)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor add the cauliflower (one section at a time) and pulse until it's chopped into the consistency of  rice. (Do not over pulse/chop the cauliflower. You want it to have the right texture, and over chopping it will make is too mushy). Continue to chop the cauliflower one section at a time, adding the finished product to a separate large bowl. Put the cauliflower aside. Take the corn and add to an edged pan where it can be spread out evenly. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the corn becomes fragrant and toasted a bit. In the meantime while the corn is roasting, take a large skillet over medium heat and add the two tablespoons of olive oil with the chopped garlic. Let cook for a minute and then add the chopped onion, green pepper and and celery. Cook until the veggies are softened and the onion is translucent. Add the cauliflower to the skillet and turn the heat up to medium-high. This part is important in achieving the perfect texture for the "rice". Add the 3 tablespoons of butter substitute and stir well. The cauliflower should start to brown up a little (even sticking to the bottom of the pan at times) but keep stirring. You don't want to add too much oil/butter because you lose the consistency of the rice and it will get too soft and mushy. After about 20 minutes when the cauliflower is fried up a bit, add the sausage, roasted corn, black beans and sun dried tomatoes. Keep stirring frequently. Add your lime zest, lime juice and cilantro. Season the scallops and shrimp with salt and pepper and add to the rice pot while stirring frequently. Let the seafood cook until the shrimps are pink (about another 10-15 minutes). Serve up the rice into individual bowls and top with some freshly sliced avocado. Enjoy!

*Side note: This is also great the next day in a gluten free tortilla wrap as a burrito or served cold in lettuce wraps!

For more on cauliflower rice, try my Mediterranean Paella :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tequila Sandía

It's the Fourth of July and nothing tastes better than an icy cool cocktail with friends and family. My Tequila Sandía is made with freshly juiced watermelon and is the perfect bev for the beach or just sitting pool-side. Unlike many mixed drinks out there, this baby has no added sugar and is low on the glycemic index as it's sweetened with agave nectar instead of simple syrup. Carlos and I made a couple of these last night as we watched some pre-Fourth of July fire works from our balcony. They were totally refreshing and I plan on mixing up a few more in T minus 10 minutes.

2 parts tequila (3 ounces, aka 2 shots)
1 part St-Germain liqueur (1.5 ounces, aka 1 shot)
10 ounces of freshly juiced watermelon
1 tablespoon of agave nectar
4 fresh basil leaves (2 leaves chopped, 2 left whole)
Makes about 16 ounces of Tequilla Sandía (give or take)
Using your juicer, juice 1 half of a watermelon. (You will probably have a lot of juice left over - perfect for later!). Once your watermelon is juiced, measure out 10 ounces of juice in a measuring glass. Fill two glasses about 1/4 high with crushed ice. Take your whole basil leaves and using a spoon or a straw muddle it down into the crushed ice. Fill a cocktail shaker with about a handful or two of ice. Pour in your tequila of choice, St-Germain, 10 ounces of watermelon juice and agave nectar. Shake! Shake! Shake! Pour over crushed ice and garnish with chopped basil leaves.

Happy Fourth of July!

- J

Monday, July 2, 2012

Peach Blueberry Crumble

I have been wanting to make a gluten free crumble for a while now and when I went to the market today, I decided to just browse around the produce and see what fruit looked the freshest. Peaches and blueberries were the winners! This Peach Blueberry Crumble is the perfect summer desert and even better for the Fourth of July just around the corner :)

Organic peaches and blueberries. Perfect colors for the Fourth of July!
Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

5 medium peaches (nice and ripe), sliced
1 pint of fresh blueberries
1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of arrowroot powder
1 1/2 cups of almond flour
1/2 cup of chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
2 1/2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil
2 1/2 tablespoons of agave nectar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine the peaches, blueberries, lemon juice, vanilla and arrowroot powder. (*Side note: arrowroot powder is a gluten free alternative to corn starch and is used as a thickening agent. It comes from the dried root of a tropical plant and is gluten-free). Pour fruit mixture in a greased 8x8 square baking dish. In a separate bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, grapeseed oil and agave nectar and mix well. (*side note: grapeseed oil is pressed from the seeds of grapes and has a very clean, light taste. It cooks at a high temperature and is great in sauteing and stir-frying.) Add the chopped pecans to almond flour mixture until everything is combined. Crumble on top of the fruit mixture and cover with tin foil. Bake for 60 minutes (until the fruit is juicy and bubbling). Take out of the oven and remove the tin foil. If the top is not yet brown, put back in the oven (uncovered) and bake for another 5 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Happy Fourth of July!

- J