Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pumpkin Pie

If anyone were to ask me, I would say Pumpkin Pie is the perfect Fall desert.....that and Apple Crisp. (Which will be posted soon so stay tuned!). I think it's because in each bite, I taste everything I love about Fall and the Holiday Season; cinnamon & sugar, nutmeg, ginger, cloves......It brings me back to my childhood in Connecticut during the beautiful Fall weather living on good ole' Riley Creek Trail (yes, my last name was also my address - one of which was filled with deer, bunnies, birds, squirrels - Bambi's Forest to be exact).

A favorite restaurant near my hometown in CT (Hopkins Inn, Fall 2011).
Although I do miss those few months up north during the Fall season, there is no complaining today about the weather in Miami - it was the most gorgeous day outside. Perfect weather for a Halloween night! And this pumpkin pie comes right in time!

 You will love this easy and healthy gluten-free Pumpkin Pie for any excuse this Fall and upcoming Holiday Season!

1/2 cup of almond flour
1/2 cup of coconut flour
1/4 cup of Splenda, Truvia or Stevia (sugar substitute of choice)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 cup of butter, butter substitute (I used Earth Balance) or softened coconut oil
1/4 cup of agave nectar
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix together all dry ingredients. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Combine the wet into the dry and blend until mixed well. Next, grease a 9 inch pie pan or pie tart with oil or butter. Next take the crust mixture and using your fingers, press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake for about 6 minutes until a light golden brown. Let cool completely before adding the filling.

1 15 ounce can of pumpkin (100% pumpkin, no added sweetener)
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons of Splenda, Truvia, or Stevia (sugar substitute of choice)
2 eggs
3/4 cup of light coconut milk (you can of course use full fat too)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of cloves
1/4 teaspoon of ginger

Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Add to cooled pie crust and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the pie. Allow to cool COMPLETELY. Seriously, this is a "make or break it" deal. It will be VERY difficult, but make sure you wait until the entire pie has cooled before cutting into it. I highly recommend making the pie and then eating it the next day. Or making it in the morning, refrigerate all day and then serve it at night for desert. The pie needs time to solidify and set so it doesn't fall apart. I tried eating this after it cooled for 20 minutes and it fell apart. The next evening, I went back to the pie and it was absolutely perfect!

It is now the third day and I'm ready to finish it off......Why not? I mean, it's Halloween, right?

Happy Trick or Treat :)

- J

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Butternut Squash and Kale Salad

Autumn is here! Well, sort of. It is still 80 degrees here in Miami....but at least the humidity has subsided and at night, it has finally started to cool down. Anyway, it's the end of October and I am counting down the days for "Winter" weather (Winter for Miami of course).

Carlos and I have been traveling a lot lately and I'm so looking forward to a weekend at home cooking up yummy Fall dishes. This is my first of the week that came to me while I couldn't sleep the other night. (Sometimes the best time to think!) This seasonal salad is a perfect side dish for any holiday dinner or as a main meal for a Fall inspired lunch!

1 butternut squash (peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes)
1 bunch of kale
1 cup of toasted pumpkin seeds
1 cup of dried cranberries (unsweetened - make sure no sugar is added)
The juice of 1 lemon
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Take your kale and cut into thin slices. Add to a large salad bowl. Add the juice of one lemon, 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Massage the kale with your hands for 3 minutes, mixing everything together. This helps to take away the bitterness of the kale and almost "cook" it slightly, but still keeping it raw (for all you raw foodies out there). You will notice that it will decrease in size. Set the kale aside. In a large bowl, add the cubed butternut squash and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Mix with your hands so each pieces is well coated. Spread the butternut squash evenly on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes. In the meantime, toast your pumpkin (if not already toasted) over low heat until they become fragrant. Let cool. Once your squash is done, let it cool slightly until just warm (about 20 minutes). Top with Honey Mustard Tahini Dressing and serve!

Happy Fall everyone!

- J


Honey Mustard Tahini Dressing

Honey mustard dressings have always been a favorite of mine, but they are usually loaded with sugar. This is a simple and fantastic alternative that only requires 5 ingredients.

I made this dressing last night for my Butternut Squash and Kale Salad recipe and it was the perfect compliment! It's tangy, sweet and has a subtle nutty flavor from the tahini, giving the dressing a creamy consistency. This is the perfect dressing to have on-hand in your fridge as it will go great with any salad!

4 tablespoons of dijon mustard (creamy, but no sugar added)
4 tablespoons of agave nectar
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of tahini
The juice of 1/2 lemon

Mix all ingredients in a small to medium size bowl and whisk until combined. Dress over your fav salad and enjoy! *Side note: if you feel that the dressing is too tangy, add more agave or sugar substitute (such as splenda, truvia, stevia, etc.).

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mussels in White Wine with Sausage and Cherry Tomatoes

O mussels. What can I say? I love to eat you. Simple as that. I made these delicious mussels over the weekend and was so happy to find LARGE sized mussels. For some reason it's been so difficult lately to find mussels that are larger than the size of a nickle. And how frustrating is that? You buy mussels closed - so you have no idea what you are going to get. Luckily, I went to my favorite fish market on Saturday and was promised I wouldn't be disappointed. So I took my chances and we FEASTED on these delicious guys all night. Four pounds of them. For two people. Yep. I love to eat you.

I did these mussels in a simple white wine garlic sauce and added a ton of fresh herbs. The addition of the sausage (I used a pre-cooked lean chicken sausage - but you can use whatever you like) adds a ton of flavor and will fill you up so you don't have to make anything else for dinner. Hope you enjoy!

4 pounds of mussels, scrubbed and debearded (discard any mussels that are open)
8 ounces of lean chicken sausage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 bulb of fennel, chopped (about 1 cup)
8 garlic gloves, chopped
1 1/2 cups of onion, chopped
1 cup of good quality white wine
4 tablespoons of olive oil
4 tablespoons of organic butter (I used whipped so it was less fat)
1 pinch of saffron
3 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of chopped parsley, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
3 tablespooons of chopped basil
2 tablespoons of chopped chives
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved

In a large soup pot over medium high heat, melt the better and add the olive oil. Add the garlic, onion and fennel. Cook until fragrant and until the onion is translucent. Add your sausage of choice (I used organic pre-cooked lean chicken sausage, but whatever kind you want to use will work fine. If you use uncooked, be sure that you cook it well in the oil and butter before adding the rest of the ingredients). Add the 1/4 cup of chopped parsley, saffron, salt, pepper and mix well until all flavors are combined. Add the white wine and stir. Cover the pot and steam until the mussels are all open (about 5 to 7 minutes). Remove from heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, basil, chives and cherry tomatoes. Stir till combined and serve hot!