Friday, November 12, 2010

Turquoise Tile Test Kitchen Cookies #2...Power Balls!

So we are heading to Palm Desert this weekend and doing a 15 mile hike up Mt. San Jacinto with some friends. I ensured them that I would bring along some snacks for the hike, which gave me a great reason to create another 'power' cookie!

This time, I used the remains of a failed attempt at almond butter..... The first attempt was successful. I used roasted, barely salted almonds, put them in my food processor (all the while wishing I had a vita-mix), added some honey, salt and vanilla and it was DYNAMITE! The consistency was a bit dry so I had to add some oil. This led me to think next time I could soak the almonds, and then use the same procedure. What I thought was brilliant thinking, ended in a batch of almond butter MUSH similar to the almond pulp that I often have leftover after making my almond milk. Not so fun, but I can't stand to waste things! So....long story short, I am using it in this cookie recipe with the mush as the base. You don't have to go to all of that trouble to make these cookies though....unless you are by odd chance making my almond milk then use your leftover pulp :). I suggest using almond butter or peanut butter instead of my long-winded concoction!

Nut and Seed Power Balls

3/4 C oat flour
1/2 C sunflower seeds
1/2 C sesame seeds
1/2 C flax seeds
1/2 C walnuts, chopped
1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 C almond butter or peanut butter
1/2 C brown rice syrup
1 tsp vanilla
sea salt

(Nata modeling on the
mountain with a power ball!)

Directions: Make oat flour by pulsing rolled oats in a food processor until a fine flour texture. Combine flour, seeds, nuts and cinnamon. Stir in nut butter and brown rice syrup until combined well. Allow 5 minutes or so for mixture to set. Form into 2" balls and roll in shredded coconut, flaxseed meal or seeds (if desired). Place on baking sheet and bake at 350 for 12 minutes or until toasted and firm.

From left: flaxseed ball, coconut ball, original ball

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Easy Eggplant Marinara Bake

I have made a delicious zucchini bake worth remembering a few times from Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen blog, where she creates a casserole using almond flour and nutritional yeast in between layers of zucchini. The combination gives a ricotta like texture and cheesy flavor in between layers of zucchini or summer squash. Not only is it a great recipe for those who can't eat cheese, but it's a much less guilty casserole even for those who can.....without compromising flavor! I have served this to unsuspecting guests receiving rave reviews!

One evening, with a giant eggplant in hand and dinner on the mind, I decided to create a similar dish using the same method with my eggplant and a jar of marinara sauce. To save time I omitted the typical 'salting of the eggplant' method used to extract excess water and bitterness, and it seemed to work just fine. The end result was a delicious eggplant bake that blew my mind, and got an A+ on the hubby factor rating system!

Eggplant Marinara Bake

1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/2" discs
2-3 shallots or small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/3 C Almond Flour
1/4 C Nutritional Yeast (can usually be found in the bulk section)
1 T dried oregano
1 T Italian seasoning/ Chef's Shake
Salt & pepper
2 C marinara sauce
I used 'Mezzetta Napa Valley Bistro, Homemade Style Marinara' sauce made with red wine which is one of my favorites.

Step-by-step photo instructions:
1. Layer the bottom of casserole dish with marinara sauce and then a layer of eggplant
2. Sprinkle eggplant with almond meal, nutritional yeast, herb blend, salt & pepper, some sauce and shallots, then repeat with another layer of the above until all ingredients are used up
3. Top with marinara, a drizzle of olive oil, nutritional yeast and herbs
4. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes to an hour
(eggplant should be starting to brown and have settled into dish)

Allow to cool slightly before serving......and enjoy!

Nutritional Nugget: Yeast, believe it or not, is a valuable nutritional supplement as it contains high levels of protein and vitamins. Nutritional yeast is a non-active form of yeast that you can use in a number of ways in the kitchen and it adds a delicious nutty, cheesy flavor. Add it to salads, casseroles, soups, popcorn, crackers and dips to experience all of its great health benefits.

It contains 18 amino acids, making it a complete protein, as well as 15 different minerals. For those on a low cholesterol diet, vegetarians or those looking to boost protein levels, nutritional yeast makes a great addition or substitution to meats, dairy and other high fat proteins.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Turquoise Tile Test Kitchen Cookies

Oatmeal-Almond Cookies with Blueberry Vanilla Goat Cheese

Much of my cooking and recipes are often inspired by utilizing something I have on hand. I love finding fresh ingredients and then saying...."ok, now what am I gonna do with this?" Or I will open my fridge and figure out what needs to be used up, and then try to piece things together to create a dish. I love the puzzle of it all!

Today, it was the leftover almond pulp that I often have on hand after making my D.I.Y. Almond Milk. I also had half a block of Trader Joe's new Blueberry Vanilla Goat Cheese** (recipe below). The goat cheese (which is delicious and like a dessert!) made me think of the cream cheese danishes I loved as a child. While I wasn't going to dive into a crazy attempt at making a flaky pastry, I decided to combine the two to make some type of cookie...and the testing began!

Oatmeal-Almond Cookies with Blueberry Vanilla Goat Cheese
yields 8-10 cookies

1/2 C Almond pulp (extract almond milk first...see post)
3/4 C rolled quick oats
1/4 C unsweetened shredded coconut
1 T golden flax seeds
2 T grapeseed oil
2 T maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup blueberry vanilla goat cheese (recipe below) or any kind of jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine almond pulp, oats, coconut and flax seeds. Mix in oil, maple syrup, vanilla, baking soda, salt and stir well. Drop large tablespoons of dough onto parchment lined cookie sheet and push thumb or spoon into the middle of dough creating a shallow hole. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of goat cheese mixture (or jam) to middle of each cookie. Bake for 15-18 minutes.

To make your own blueberry vanilla goat cheese combine 1/4 cup plain goat cheese with 1/2 tsp vanilla and 1 Tbsp wild blueberry jam.

Please note these cookies are only moderately sweet.

**Although I don't eat dairy and my blog is dairy-free, I do find that I seem to digest goat cheese okay and do enjoy it (very much!) from time to time.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Remembering Roots at Pilgrims Place & Raw Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing

At long last, back to my beloved blog after a nice long hiatus. I am one of those people that just kind of checks-out when I am traveling. I admit it. I don't keep my phone on bad about returning phone calls.....don't like to check e-mail often.....forget about the bills that need to be paid.....yes, I really just check-out! I guess it can be a nice thing for the mind; to be able to detach once in a while....just so long as it doesn't get you into trouble!

During my hiatus, I had a chance to get out to Colorado to visit the folks, see my beautiful sister and her new town home (absolutely adorable!), and also meet my best friend's new poodle (also adorable)!
[Dad&Mom, Sees&Mom; KK Holiday(B.F.), Harvey boy (standard poodle pup) & Annie (toy poodle); Seester at her new town home; Harvey boy]

One of the pleasure's of Colorado this time of year is the coolness of the air, the leaves on the cusp of changing color, and the harvest. My Dad's harvest that is. Growing up on the plains of north Denver, we had dirt roads, some acreage, farm animals and last but not least, we had a GIANT garden! I guess you could say it was a bit of an alternative lifestyle. I remember the days of harvesting more corn than I think we could eat in a year! My Dad has always gotten pleasure out of growing a variety of vegetables, and I got the pleasure of eating them. : 0 ) I would love to say I have inherited his gardening skills, but I think my thumb has a bit more of a brown hugh than green! But I am still at it...

[From Dad's Garden: okra, lucinato kale (aka dinosaur kale), cabbage and shallots...for...days...!]

As for the farm animals, we never had horses or cows like most of our neighbors. No, Instead we had a little 'hobby farm' full of miniature pygmy goats, sheep, chickens, geese, Guinea hens, rabbits, a llama, a parrot and a peacock. I was kind of like a petting zoo and my mother (being the animal-lover she is) was the circus ring-leader. A lot of fun times were spent at the place we affectionately call "Pilgrims Place."
me bottle-feeding Diasy (a nubian goat)
me, Abner (a toggenburg goat) & Sees
me & 2 week old pygmy goat Oreo
Sees & I in the tree house with Lucy (toy poodle)

Now that me n' sees have grown up and moved out, the farm animals have gone, but the garden still prevails as strong as ever.

A highlight of my hiatus was getting some great shots of the beautiful veggies, planning recipes and cooking using the abundance of produce, enjoying an afternoon with my favorite people....and remembering my roots at Pilgrims Place:
from top to bottom: Dad w/ pepper plants; shiso leaf; basket of veggies; Mom with a kohlrabi; BF Katie, Sees & I; lucinato kale; me & Harvey; corn; Dad w/ a kabocha squash; beets, carrots, red onions & herbs; more peppers; varietals of garlic; Harvey; heirloom watermelon; Dad w/ his watermelon]

And to finish off my well-winded story, I will include one my favorite salads of all times! Here is a Raw Beet & Kale Salad, which I loved making with my 100% of my Dad's veggies and herbs.

Raw Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing

1 bunch kale, thinly sliced (lucinato kale pictured)
1 red or golden beet, peeled and shredded
2-3 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch green onions, diced
1/4 cup raw hempseeds

Tahini Dressing

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. nama shoyu (or soy sauce)
2 Tbsp. tahini
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh oregano or thyme (or both!)
1 tsp summer savory (if available)
1 tsp fresh basil

Place the prepped vegetables and hempseeds in a bowl. In a blender, blend the oil, vinegar, nama shoyu, tahini, garlic, oregano, basil and thyme until smooth. Pour over vegetables and mix well to coat.

Nutritional Nugget: Kale is a nutritional standout in three basic areas: (1) antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, (2) much-needed macronutrients (in which the average U.S. adult is currently deficient), and (3) cancer-preventive nutrients called glucosinolates. Also worth noting in kale's nutritional profile is its vitamin K content. Kale contains nearly twice the amount of vitamin K as most of its fellow cruciferous vegetables. []