A peanut-free version of the Rocky cookie

Never in my life, until just over a year ago, had I known so many people with food allergies.  Now I have adopted an entire family full  🙂  (and I love them all) and have several friends with them as well.  There are allergies to spices, some to raw fruits and veggies, to gluten, to tree nuts, to peanuts, to dairy, and the list goes on.  Then there are the folks who make life choices to exclude certain foods- people who eat paleo, vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, etc.  All of this adds up to challenge the “foodie” at each party.  You want to bring a dish that looks good, tastes great, and that everyone will be able to partake in.  It can be a little crazy, but I’m up for the challenge.

This particular recipe is an adaptation of the Rocky cookie which tastes a bit more tropical and uses no peanut butter.  It’s for Sheila and Michael as she loves her healthy foods and he doesn’t breathe so well when peanut products are near him 😉

Ingredients:

2 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup steel cut oats

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (or oat flour)

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

dash of  nutmeg

Sprinkle of sea salt

Handful of bittersweet chocolate chunks

Handful of raisins

Handful of chopped dates

Handful of cashews

Handful of shredded coconut

Handful of dried pineapple

Handful of wheat germ

Handful of flax seed meal

Handful of sunflower seeds

1 egg

1/2 cup real maple syrup

1/4 cup molasses

¾ cup plain, unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

a well-ripened banana

1 large scoop of Tahini

  • Preheat the oven to 375
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix
  • Scoop the batter by the tablespoon onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper (cookies will not spread)
  • Bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on your oven).  You want a finished cookie that is golden brown around the edges and a bit on top

Rocky cookies

Spinach, Red Lentil, and Green Bean Curry

If you’re in the market for a warm vegetable stew with luscious spices which will reheat well, then I’ve got a dish for you. This is a very mild curry (which you could heat up with some cayanne and/or crushed red pepper if that’s your preference) and it has notes of cinnamon from the garam masala. If that’s not your thing, you could use your favorite pre-made curry spice mixture rather than what’s listed here. This dish can easily stand on its own as a vegetarian main, or be served alongside some lovely spiced yogurt chicken (as Neil and I had it).

Ingredients:

 

1 cup red lentils

1/4 cup tomato puree

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon ground dried turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths

1 cup mushrooms, sliced thickly

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 (1 inch) piece fresh ginger root, grated

4 cups loosely packed fresh spinach, coarsely chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

4 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped

1 (15.5 ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

 

Directions:

 

  • Rinse the lentils well and place them in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil
  • Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Drain and set aside
  • In a bowl, stir together the tomato puree and yogurt. Season with garam masala, turmeric, cumin, and chile powder
  • Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat
  • Add the onion, green beans and mushrooms; cooking until the onion begins to brown
  • Add in the garlic and ginger and stir for a minute- until you really begin to smell them
  • Stir in the spinach; cook until it’s dark green and wilted
  • Add the yogurt mixture and stir until incorporated
  • Mix in the tomatoes and cilantro
  • Stir the lentils and garbanzo beans into mixture until well combined and heated through, about 5 minutes
Curry

The inspiration for this dish came from this recipe.

My take on huevos rancheros

So this isn’t a recipe, but it is what I ate for lunch today.  It’s low in fat, high in protein and omega 3s, and damned tasty!  I was preparing pureed Lima beans for the work week to have for snacks so I used that as my base.  I dropped on a poached egg, and topped the concoction with a couple spoonfuls of salsa, and dug in.  Wow!  what flavor.

Coconut rolls

When it comes to rolls, this Honduran staple is a winner.  I initially served these rolls with a dinner of beef tenderloin and roasted garlic mashed potatoes with steamed green beans, and didn’t realize the injustice that I was causing- not allowing my family to really taste the bread which is rich and so very wonderful.  I had this epiphany the next morning when breakfast foods were scarce, there was one roll left over, and I had a steaming cup of coffee looking for an accompaniment.  I’m very honestly considering running out to pick up more coconut milk so that I can make another batch of these tonight to have on Christmas morning.

The original recipe called for a yield of 8 rolls.  I found that this made for far too large a roll and so my version makes 12 smaller ones.

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsweetened, finely grated coconut

2 tablespoons sugar

1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons if you buy the big jar) active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water

3 1/2 cups flour, plus more for kneading

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup coconut milk

3 tablespoons butter, melted

 Directions

  •  Put the coconut, sugar, yeast and water into a small glass bowl and stir together, then set aside for about 15 minutes (so that the yeast can feast)
  • Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture, coconut milk and butter and, using your hands or a wooden spoon, stir until well combined
  • Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead,  until soft and elastic, for 5 to 6 minutes
  • Prep a clean, dry bowl by lightly spraying it with olive oil or butter
  • Form the dough into a ball, dust generously all over with flour and transfer to the prepared bowl. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm spot to let rise until it’s doubled in size (takes about an hour and a half)
  • Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll each into a ball. Arrange the balls of dough on a large greased baking sheet or an ungreased baking stone, spacing them 3 to 4 inches apart (these suckers swell as they bake)
  • Set these aside in a warm spot, uncovered, to let rise until doubled in size again (about 45 minutes)
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F
  • Bake the rolls until they are a deep golden brown and cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes

 

 

Bittersweet chocolate tart with pretzel crust

When I decided that I wanted to make a sinfully chocolate dessert for Christmas dinner with my siblings I went in search of recipes.  There were brownies and cakes, truffles and pots de creme, bread puddings and pies to choose from, but none were quite right to finish off our night of gluttony.  Then I came across this recipe and while it wasn’t perfect, it was workable.

What we have here is a shortbread type of crust which uses pretzels, rather than nuts, for a bit of texture.  The filling is a basic ganache, and it’s topped with simple crème fraiche (but you could also substitute whipped cream, ice cream, or even a yogurt dollop).  It is rich, silky, not too sweet, and absolutely lovely is small servings.  It pairs very nicely with a cup of coffee too 😉

Crust

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1 1/4 cups coarsely crushed pretzels

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 large egg

2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted

Filling

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

3/4 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon sea salt

sea salt, crushed pretzels and crème fraîche, for serving

  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with 3/4 cup of the pretzels and the confectioners’ sugar at a low speed until creamy
  • Beat in the flour and egg
  • Add the remaining 1/2 cup of pretzels, being sure to leave some pretzel pieces intact
  • Flatten the dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and refrigerate for half an hour
  • Preheat the oven to 350°
  • Roll out the dough between the sheets of plastic wrap to the size of your tart pan
  • Press the dough into the tart pan and patch any tears, trim the overhanging dough and refrigerate the shell for another 30 minutes
  • Line the shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (you can substitute a cake pan for the pie weights)
  • Bake the shell for 30 minutes
  • Remove the parchment and weights and bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until the tart shell is firm and just browned
  • Let the shell cool completely, then brush the melted chocolate over the bottom and up the side and refrigerate for 10 minutes
  • In a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer, then take it off of the heat and add the chocolate and let it stand for 5 minutes
  • Whisk until smooth, then add the vanilla (or you can substitute any liqueur) and sea salt
  • Transfer the filling to a bowl and let it cool to room temp for about an hour
  • Pour the filling into the shell and refrigerate until set (about 4 hours)
  • Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and crushed pretzels. Cut into wedges, top with crème fraîche (or other topping of your choice) and serve