Friday, September 30, 2011

My Decadent Chocolate Birthday Cake

Chocolate Decadence Birthday Delight! favorite flower and my new fixed lens! You like?

I celebrated my birthday in May with this fudgey rich chocolate cake.  I have been meaning to post this recipe for quite some time now.....four months to be exact!  So here you have it.

I found this recipe on a blog and was immediately interested when I saw it contained black beans.  I love recipes like that sort of trick you like that.  Added nutritional goodness without the cost of flavor!  Me likey!  You would have no idea this cake contains black beans when biting into the dense yet mousse-y chocolate goodness.  Y-U-M!  Oh, and did I mention it is vegan and gluten-free?

Densely Decadent Chocolate Birthday Cake
1 Cup cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
1 Cup raw cashews, soaked overnight or 4-6 hours
1 Cup chocolate chips, melted but not hot
4 T virgin coconut oil
6 T honey
1 Cup Water
4 T coconut flour
6 T Cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Oil bottom and sides of a round spring form pan and dust with cocoa powder.

Melt coconut oil and chocolate chips in a saucepan until mixed well and warm (not hot).  Transfer mixture to high power blender with all other ingredients except for baking powder and cocoa powder and blend until smooth.  Add baking powder and cocoa powder last, mixing in first to avoid a dusty mess and blend well to incorporate.  (It took me quite some time to get my blender to smooth these ingredients.  Next time I may try my food processor instead)

Pour mixture into your pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.  Cool and refrigerate for 4-6 hours.  Serve cold with whipped coconut topping or shaved chocolate.


Apple & Porcini Stuffed Pork Loin with Roasted Apples

When I received my latest Bon Appetit magazine a beautiful looking Proscuitto-Wrapped Pork Loin with Roasted Apples graced the cover.  I have been cooking lately for a client who enjoys pork dishes so I thought I would give it a try.  It was fun to make and turned out beautifully!  The stuffing was sensational, the kale wrapping the stuffing not only added a boost of nutrients but gave it a festive flair, and the roasted apples were the perfect sweet accompaniment for the pork.  Definitely a keeper for your next entertaining occasion.

The pork loin I got from Whole Foods had a nice layer of fat on top so I decided to skip the proscuitto wrapping and scored the fat instead for a pretty look.  I also couldn't find hard cider so I used martinelli's apple juice and some white wine instead.  Click here so see the entire recipe.

Wrapped and ready to go
Pan searing all sides...barely fit in my pan!

Before the roast.....

.......after the roast
Side shot of the finished roast pork

Beautiful!  The Kale adds such nice color.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Vegan Banana Ice Cream & Maple Glazed Walnuts

My friend sent me a link on how to make an easy homemade ice cream using only frozen bananas. How simple is that!?

Yearning for a more healthful way to cure my dreaded sinful sweet tooth.....I decided to try it.

So I froze a few bananas..........contemplated which addition to the ice cream would be the most delicious, debating over peanut butter...........peanut butter and cocoa powder...........nutella.........coconut..........coconut and mango.........walnuts..........maple glazed walnuts.....oh yes, maple glazed walnuts! Done! I thought it would be a delicious compliment to the creamy sweet banana flavor. The ice cream was delicious and I was very impressed with the consistency.

Banana Ice Cream

(Serves 1-2)
1 1/2 frozen bananas sliced

Add bananas to a food processor and process until it just becomes creamy and smooth. If you desire a topping, or additional flavor (I chose maple glazed walnuts), add and pulse until incorporated into the ice cream. Scoop into bowls and serve.

Maple Glazed Walnuts
1/3 C Raw Walnuts
1 1/2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
Pinch of salt

Heat dry skillet over medium heat. Add walnuts, maple syrup and salt and stir to coat walnuts, stirring occasionally 3-4 minutes until maple becomes caramelized. Remove from heat and cool.

Step by step photos:

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Almond Pulp Ricotta & Vegan Eggplant Lasagna

I love making my own almond milk from raw soaked almonds and am always looking for a way to use up the leftover almond pulp after extracting the milk. Rather than let it go to waste, I usually add the protein and fiber packed-pulp to muffins and breads.

Today however, it occurred to me that perhaps I could use it to make one of those fancy 'vegan ricotta' recipes you see using cashews. A quick google search affirmed that it is possible, and I was off with my experimenting!

Almond Pulp Ricotta
1 1/2 C almond pulp
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp Miso paste
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
chopped onions, scallions or shallots
dollop of tahini

Place all ingredients in a food processor and give it all a whirl. Do not over process or it will begin to liquify a bit.

I used mine to layer with strips of eggplant and homemade marinara sauce for a noodle-less eggplant lasagna, pictured step-by-step below.

Layer casserole dish with marinara sauce, thinly sliced eggplant, almond-pulp ricotta, italian herb mixture and a few thinly sliced onions and mushrooms in between until layered to top.
Top off casserole with shallots, mushrooms and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool a bit and enjoy this easy vegan delight!

If you want to make an eggplant bake but don't have the almond pulp to make the ricotta, here is my modified recipe sans ricotta.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My 1st Meatloaf

My hubby has been begging me for a while to make meatloaf. I just have never really had the desire to make it. I suppose memories from childhood of it not being the most 'exciting' thing on my plate, combined with the name "meat-loaf" just don't have a strong appeal. I mean, a loaf of meat sounds a little gross, I'm not gonna lie. But, he deserves a bit of spoiling from time to time. :)

So I surveyed a handfull of recipes, as well as my cooking confidant BF Katie, who has made many a stellar meatloaf, and was off with a plan! (and I actually got a little excited.) is my aggregated recipe for my 1st ever meatloaf. And it was pretty gosh darned good!

Heather's 1st Meatloaf

2 lbs lean ground beef
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 C yellow onion, chopped
1 small red onion, 1/2 chopped, 1/2 sliced and reserved for glaze
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 C sliced crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 C carrots, peeled and shredded
1 C zucchini, shredded
2 C baby spinach
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp molasses
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp all spice
ground pepper
1 cup brown rice crispies (processed into crumbs in food processor)

Preheat oven to 375.

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a medium sized skillet and add yellow and red onion. Saute onion for a few minutes before adding red bell pepper and garlic. Continue to saute for another 5-8 minutes until onion becomes translucent. Add tomato paste, Worcestershire, balsamic, Dijon and all spices. Mix well and remove from heat. Immediately stir in mushrooms, grated carrots and zucchini, and spinach and allow to cool 10-15 minutes. Transfer mixture to large bowl and add egg, ground beef and rice crumbs. Mix ingredients until well incorporated using hands, and form into a loaf. Place onto parchment paper lined baking sheet and into oven. Meanwhile, make meatloaf glaze.

Meatloaf Glaze:

1/2 C organic ketchup
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
dash of hot sauce,
Worcestershire sauce,
and apple cider vinegar
reserved sliced red onions

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. After baking meatloaf for 15 minutes, spoon glaze over meatloaf , top with red onion slices and place back into oven for 45 minutes.

Meatloaf should bake for a total of 1 hour (or until thermometer reads 155). Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Let me know if you try it, or leave me a comment with your favorite meatloaf recipe!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Warming Winter Roasted Kabocha Squash

This is a fabulous dish which I found in my Food & Wine Magazine. The combination of warming spices and kabocha squash with the peel on caught my eye at first. I mean, who doesn't love cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg!? And eating the squash with the peel brings me back to Japan where this was common with tempura or pumpkin dishes and I loved it! Then they added coconut milk to the mix, and HELLO.....I am going to make you for dinner and eat you all up!

Warming Winter Roasted Kabocha Squash

1 can coconut milk
1/4 C light brown sugar
8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 fresh hot red chile, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground cloves
3/4 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 medium kabocha squash, cleaned, seeded and cut into 2" chunks
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl combine coconut milk, brown sugar, garlic, chiles and spices and mix well. Add squash chunks and stir until well coated.

Pour into a roasting pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover pan with foil and roast for 45 minutes in oven until tender. Remove foil and up the heat in your oven to 400. Place back in the oven for about 15 minutes. The squash should be starting to form a nice glaze at this point. Check and it may be done, or if you desire more brownness, give it a stir and an additional 15 minutes. Devour and enjoy! ;o)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Flounder-Wrapped Asparagus with Tangerine Reduction

I found this great place that I like to get fresh and local seafood, it is called Catalina Offshore Products. As far as I'm concerned, they have the freshest fish and the best specials this side of the Mississippi (or at least here in San Diego)! I love getting the catch of the day. It is always a fun little surprise for me when I find out the fish I get and the added bonus is to figure out how I want to cook it!

The catch of the day: Flounder....yum!

Featured in my Farmers Market Bag produce: Asparagus (yes, in January!)

Fresh off my tree right now: Tangerines, and lots of em!

A quick Internet search with these ingredients in mind led me to an Epicurious recipe that sounded delicious and was easily adaptable. This beautiful eye-catching dish was light and summery, yet full of delicate flavor. I know it may sound odd for January, but I will argue that the weather has been in the 70's all week! So if you are looking for something tasty or want to eat something that helps you pretend it's summer, then I suggest giving it a try!

Flounder-Wrapped Asparagus with a Tangerine Reduction sauce

For the Fish:
1 lb thin white fish such as Flounder, Sole, Grouper, or Halibut
2 Tbsp grey shallots, finely chopped
8 shavings of tangerine zest
1 bunch fresh asparagus (ends trimmed)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 C chicken broth or vegetable stock
paprika for dusting

Preheat oven to 450. Brush a roasting pan with olive oil and sprinkle shallots and zest into pan.
Prepare a pot of boiling water and immerse asparagus spears into boiling water for 1 minute. Transfer to an ice-water bath with a slotted spoon and allow to cool.

Rinse and pat-dry fish and arrange on cutting board. Trim into 3 or four pieces (first thinning or butterflying fillets if necessary). Season with salt and pepper. Lay 5 or 6 asparagus spears perpendicularly across each fillet and wrap fish around so that the seam is on the bottom. Transfer to prepared roasting pan. Brush fish with olive oil, season with more salt and pepper, dust with paprika and add broth to pan. Cover with foil and bake 15-18 minutes until fish is just barely cooked through.

For the Sauce:
1/2 C + 2 Tbsp fresh tangerine juice
1 1/2 Tbsp finely chopped grey shallots
8 Tbsp Earth Balance (or Butter if you can tolerate it)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
sprig of fresh summer savory or thyme

Boil tangerine juice with shallot in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat until reduced to about 3 or 4 Tbsp (5 minutes). Reduce heat, add savory or thyme sprig and whisk in butter gradually, 1 Tbsp at a time while whisking constantly. Remove from heat and add salt, cayenne and lemon juice.

When fish is done, reserve the pan juices and transfer fish to a platter and cover with a foil. Discard zest and pour the pan juices into a small skillet and boil over med-high heat until reduced to half (about 2 minutes). Gradually whisk into Tangerine Reduction, then spoon over fish and serve.