March 2012 archive

Strawberry-Banana Cream Cakes (w/ Coconut Whipped Cream)

On my way home from DC, I picked up a Food Network Magazine for a little inspiration.  There was a recipe for strawberry corn cakes that look uh-mazing…I mean, how can you not want something warm, sweet, and smothered in strawberry compote and cream??

Well, I kind’ve shelved the idea until I saw this recipe on How Sweet It Is, I took it as a sign to get off my lazy ass and do something with those sorry-looking bananas sitting on the counter.

I suppose you could just as easily call these nuggets of love “muffins,” but calling them “cakes” is so much more sophisticated, right?  Oh, and there’s no sugar–other than from the strawberries and bananas.  Look at me go!  Sweet and delicious without making your body hate you.  You’re welcome!

They’re great without the cream or compote, too, so don’t get too overwhelmed if it seems like a lot of work.  However, I have to stress that the cool, juicy strawberries and rich cream on top really make life worth living.  A note on the coconut cream, though…you have to use the full fat stuff to get proper consistency.  I don’t know why anyone would use lite coconut milk for anything anyway, but this time, I mean it.

nomnomnomnomnom….

Ingredients

Cakes:

(Makes 18)

3/4 c Coconut Flour

1/2 c Ground Flaxseed

1 t Salt

2 t Baking Soda

8 Eggs

3/4 c Coconut Milk

1 T Vanilla

4 Bananas, mashed

1 c Strawberries, sliced and diced

Strawberry Compote:

1 Pint Strawberries, sliced and diced

Coconut Cream

1 can Coconut Milk (FULL FAT!!)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients and whisk together.  In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the coconut milk and vanilla, then add the mashed bananas.  Pour the egg mixture into the dry mix and whisk together until smooth.  Fold in the strawberries.  Spoon into muffin cups and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until they pass the toothpick test.

To make the compote, heat the strawberries over medium-low heat.  Cook for about 10-15 minutes until the berries are soft and the liquid simmers, stirring constantly to ensure they don’t burn.

To make the coconut cream, place the whole can of coconut milk in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.  Open the can and spoon out the thick layer of coconut cream into a bowl (leave the coconut water on the bottom).  Beat the cream with an electric mixer until it reaches the consistency of whipped cream.

Assemble the cakes for proper presentation (I’m so professional like that…) by topping a cake with a spoonful of compote, then topping with a spoonful of cream.  People will think you’re a culinary genius.  Enjoy!

Gratuitous Happy Husky pic…

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Shrimp ‘n’ Eggs

After Thursday’s Box-Stravaganza, my kitchen is a little lacking.  I mean, who’da thunk these people would take EVERYTHING?  Seriously, they even got Ross’s laptop because it wasn’t properly marked as something to leave out.  As far as my kitchen goes, let’s just say it’s been an adventure in learning how to get eggs out of a pan with a tablespoon.  Literally.  Because it didn’t cross my mind to hold on to a spatula.  Stupid, Camilla….STUPID.

Thankfully for you, the eggs made it on the plate and I got some shrimp cooked up perfectly to go on top.  I know, I’ve never had shrimp with eggs, either, but I really needed to use up what I had leftover from Monday.  And yes, shrimp with eggs is fracking delicious.  And quick…oh, so many thanks, little shrimpies for being so quick to cook…

Ingredients

(Serves 2-3)

2 T Olive Oil

1/2 lb Shrimp, shelled and de-veined

1/4 c Fresh Cilantro

1 Clove Garlic, minced

1/4 t Sea Salt

1/4 t Black Pepper

1/4 t Oregano

1/2 c Shrimp Stock

8 Eggs

1/4 c Coconut Milk

Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

Place shrimp in a bowl with stock, salt, pepper, oregano, and cilantro.  Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and saute until soft.  Add the shrimp mixture and cover for about 3-4 minutes until cooked through.  Reserve 2 T of liquid to flavor the scrambled eggs.

Beat eggs together with coconut milk, salt and pepper, and shrimp juice.  Scramble over medium-high heat.  Top with shrimp and enjoy!

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Sausage-Kale Egg Bake

So the movers are here TODAY…and we have stuff everywhere.  Yeah, no.  Not feeling a cross-country move so much anymore.  Biggest-Pain-in-the-Ass of 2012, right here!

Good news, though, is my wedding is officially less than a month away!  Wait, did I say “good news”?  Because I should really rename my wedding “The Second Great Pain-in-the-Ass of 2012.”  I won’t get into it, but let’s just say I spent three figures on f*cking rose petals last night at Michaels…and everyone is coming from out of town…and I just might start a third World War with m seating plan…and MY DRESS IS TOO TIGHT.  It seems my ass inflated an entire size since I got it six months ago.  Granted it looks better than six months ago because I was kind’ve a skinny bitch when I got home from Iraq and hadn’t lifted anything heavier than a soup can at the gym since before I could drink, bit STILL.

This is why people go to Vegas, people!

But you know what’s great?  Like, really great?  Sausage…with runny eggs baked on top…chock full of sweet potato chunks and kale…oh, yeah.  Makes it all worthwhile, right here…

Ingredients

1 lb Ground Sausage

2 T Olive Oil

1 Onion, diced

4 Garlic Cloves, minced

1-2 Sweet Potatoes, cubed

1 Bunch Kale, torn into pieces

1 Pint Cherry Tomatoes

1 t Sea Salt

1 t Black Pepper

1/2 t Thyme

1/2 t Dried Parsley

6-8 Whole Eggs

Instructions

Brown the sausage in olive oil and set aside in a mixing bowl, keeping the drippings in the pan.  Sautee the garlic and onion until soft, then add sweet potatoes and seasonings.  When the sweet potatoes are softened a bit, add the kale and cook until slightly wilted but not mushy.

Add the cooked vegetables and cherry tomatoes to the sausage, careful not to transfer too much liquid.  Stir well to combine and pour into a 2.5 QT baking dish.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and, using a spoon, make 6 evenly spaced indentations in the casserole.  Break a whole egg into each indentation, keeping the yolks intact, and return to the oven.  Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until the egg whites are set (you can bake a bit longer if you want the yolks cooked through and not runny).

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Peach Cilantro Chicken Salad

My standard baked chicken thigh-over-greens-and avocado has been getting OLD lately, so I decided to go cuh-RAY-zee and change it up a bit.

So, clearly, my idea of “crazy” still means I have a chicken salad, but this is what you get when you take the time to throw it in a food processor and add a bunch of other stuff to make it all colorful and spring-y.  After all, the weather and foliage (is that word OK to use in the spring?) are so lovely and refreshing it’s only natural that my lunch should be, too!

Ingredients

4 Large Chicken Breasts

1 c Paleo Mayonnaise

4 Peaches, diced

1/2 Sweet Onion, diced

1 t Sea Salt

1 t Black Pepper

1 T Lime Juice

3/4 c Chopped Fresh Cilantro

Instructions

Bake the chicken thighs at 375 degrees for 1 hour and allow to cool completely.  Once cool, cut into chunks and place into a food processor.  Pulse until finely diced but do not puree (no baby food, people!).  Transfer chicken into a mixing bowl.

To the chicken, add the mayo, lime juice, onion, peaches, salt and pepper, and cilantro.  Mix well to combine and refrigerate at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to marry well.  Serve over greens, stuffed in an avocado, on its own, or on some Paleo Bread!

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Baked French Toast

There’s something so comforting about sweet cinnamon-y aromas filling the house in the wee hours of the morning.  My Mom made this stuff (well, the totally non-Paleo kind) for so many Christmas and Easter mornings so the scent evokes some very potent warm-and-fuzzies.

Warm-and-fuzzies are exactly what I need, too…I’m honestly a little homesick after spending last week surrounded by friends and family, and with my Man out of town for the week I’m a little lonely, too.  Woe is me…

Oooey-gooey, carmelized-on-top, sweet baked goodness?

Yes, Please.

Ingredients

1 Loaf Paleo-Friendly Bread (I used banana bread…I’ll post a recipe soon)

10 Eggs

3/4 c Coconut Milk

1/2 t Salt

1 t Cinnamon

1 t Vanilla

Instructions

Arrange slices of bread in a greased 2 QT baking dish.

Beat the eggs, coconut milk, and seasoning with an electric mixer until frothy.  Pour over bread, cover the dish, and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until golden brown on top.  Serve with butter and maple syrup!

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Cherry Blossom Smoothie

It’s not even April yet and Austin is roasty-toasty!  I was sweating like crazy at yoga this morning and all I could think about was how bad I wanted something cold.

I got the idea for this last week when I was home in DC…the Cherry Blossom Fesitval is in full swing and there’s no shortage of cherry treats around town.  I saw a cherry milkshake that looked uh-mazing and served as the inspiration for this one.  Pretty sure mine’s a little kinder on the body than that one, though ;)

Ingredients

(Serves 2-3)

3/4 c Coconut Milk

3/4 c Almond Milk

2 Bananas, frozen and sliced

2 1/2 c Cherries, pitted and frozen

1 t Cinnamon

Instructions

Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth and creamy.

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Creamy Mushroom Risotto

I wanted so badly to try this recipe with lobster.  Confession: I’ve never, ever cooked lobster before.  Admittedly, I was absolutely terrified because lobster is ungodly expensive and expensive stuff is crazy-hard to make and crazy-easy to f*ck up.  I don’t handle failure very well.

So I did it with shrimp…I’m such a cheater like that.  Whatever, go ahead and judge, because this stuff was good.

The risotto was more of a thought experiment at first…like, I know you can make “rice” out of cauliflower, but let’s take it a step further, shall we?  I positively adore a good, creamy dish of risotto…and even with a minimal ingredient list, this more than hit the spot.  I know it may look a little complicated, but it’s worth it.  The problem with risotto is that it’s rice-but-not-really.  The kinds of rice you use have an extra-high starch content that gets released into your broth as it cooks and creates the creaminess we all know and love.  Cauliflower…just doesn’t.  So, I came up with more of a sauce for my cauliflower rice and left it a little less cooked than normal so I could get a nice al dente texture underneath it all.

The highlight of this post really is the risotto, so you can season it and make it in any number of ways–either on its own as an appetizer like some people prefer or with any other variety of protein as an entree.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 Head Cauliflower

2 Cans Coconut Milk

1 T Arrowroot Powder, dissolved in 1 T Water

6 Cloves Garlic, minced

1/2 Onion, diced

1 lb Mushrooms, sliced thin

2 T Fresh Chives, chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/4 t Oregano

1/4 t Basil

1/4 t Marjoram

1/4 t Thyme

Instructions

Chop the cauliflower into florets.  Place in a food processor and pulse until you have a rice-like consistency.  Set aside.

Add some butter or oil to a large saucepan or stockpot and saute the garlic and onion.  When the onions are soft, add the coconut milk, arrowroot powder, and seasoning.  Whisk constantly until slightly thickened, then add mushrooms and chives.  Stir for another minute or two so that the mushrooms soften slightly, then add the cauliflower and combine well.

Keep stirring and cooking until the cauliflower is soft but not mushy (true risotto is slightly al dente).  Serve alone or with anything you like…here’s mine with some shrimp sauteed in olive oil and Herbs de Provence!

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Scalloped Potatoes

I spent the better part of the day working on the seating charts for my wedding before I realized I also had a metric ass-ton of homework for the week I hadn’t done.  Blurg.  Funny how that kind’ve stuff sorta sneaks up on you–you, know, responsibility and stuff?

So anyway, I love LOVE Japanese Sweet Potatoes (great transition there, huh?).  I could probably eat nothing but JSP’s for the rest of my life and be happy as a clam.  (Are clams really all that happy, though?).  They’re like marshmallows on their own and when you cook them up they absorb all the flavors of everything around them and add such a delightful sweetness to savory and salty dishes.  And oh, yes…you can bake them into stuff and it will blow your mind.  Pretty much the perfect food.

Great to take my mind off the growing pile of laundry/dishes/homework/dust/wedding bills/un-mowed lawn/fire ants I’m attempting to avoid this weekend.

Ingredients

2 lbs Japanese Sweet Potatoes

2 1/2 c Chicken Stock

1 Onion, sliced

3 Garlic cloves, minced

2 T Herbs de Provence

1 Red Bell Pepper, diced

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 T Ghee or Olive Oil

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Saute garlic and onions in ghee or oil until soft, then add the seasonings and chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.

Meanwhile, slice the potatoes into 1/8″ slices.  (If you have a mandolin, bust it out NOW!).  Arrange a layer in a 2 qt baking dish, then pour some of the onion-broth mixture over them.  Continue layering until all potatoes are in the dish and top with any remaining broth.  Top with diced peppers.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until bubbly.  Remove from the oven, cover, and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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The Cake is a Pie

“Pie-Cake”?  “Cake-Pie”? I don’t know…what do call it when you cross the two?

I started out with a rendition of my Sweet Potato Muffins but decided to get a little crazy and next thing I knew, I had something that was way too rich and moist to be a cake, but still not quite a sweet potato pie.  This stuff is super simple with all whole ingredients, with a capital A for AWESOME…especially with raw honey and grassfed butter!

Ingredients

3/4 c Coconut Flour

10 Eggs, separated

2 Large Yams

2 t Baking Soda

1 t Salt

1 t Cinnamon

1.5 T Vanilla

1/4 t Ginger

1/4 t Nutmeg

1/8 t Cloves

Optional: 1 c Raisins or Walnuts

Instructions

Wrap the yams in foil and bake for 75 minutes at 450 degrees.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Remove flesh and discard the skin.

Set oven temperature to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine egg yolks, yams, salt, baking soda, vanilla, and spices.  Beat with an electric mixer until smooth.  Add the coconut flour, a little bit at a time, and continue to beat with the mixer.  Stir in the raisins or nuts if you are using them.

Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until they have stiff peaks.  Gentle fold into the rest of the batter, careful not to over-mix.  Pour into a greased loaf pan, baking dish, or muffin tins.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, 15 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Reduce the time if you are using a larger baking dish instead.

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We Didn’t Know

I’ll be out of the loop a few days, as I recently lost someone and will be flying home for the funeral.

Those of us in this line of work tell ourselves all the time that “We knew what we were getting into.”  We comfort one another with affirmations that our friends died serving this amazing country and doing something they loved.  We’ll try our best to hold back tears because we know they wouldn’t want us to be sad.  We will be sad.

But we will always be so, so proud.

There are days I wonder why the hell I’m doing what I’m doing.  Sure, we accept a good deal of risk when we signed our names on the dotted line and put our right hands up and swore to Uphold and Defend.  We accept that we will become close to a lot of wonderful people who have taken the same chance.  But we didn’t know what we were getting into.  We had no idea.

I’ve been lucky in that I’m alive and physically healthy after my first deployment.  But in the nearly three years since I commissioned I lost four classmates, and tomorrow I go home to bury one more.  These are people I knew, whose faces and voices I remember.  In this most recent case, it’s an individual I absolutely idolized, who in a lot of ways is the reason I took the path I did.  In a way we all expect the bad news to come–it’s a sick way to look at the world when you’re just sort of wondering who’s next and hoping at least you won’t know who they are, won’t know their families, won’t have to find out how it happened.

No, we didn’t know what we were getting into.  There’s no way in hell you know what it feels like to have someone taken away in some of the cruelest ways possible until it happens.  And even when it does, you’re still left to try and understand it all.  You constantly wonder why and try to accept that you will probably never know.

In the mean time, a mother and father have lost their only son, two sisters lost their big brother, a small Virginia town lost a friend and local hero.  So now we will come together and say Goodbye.

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