I had so much fun putting together this list of ten great gift ideas that support amazing causes around the world. Spoiler alert: if you're on my Christmas list, you're probably getting one of these (hi, Mom)!
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Monday, December 9, 2013
I had this bag of cranberries left over from Thanksgiving that was begging to be used up, and it had been far too long since I'd made any kind of a curd. The folks at Pompeian sent me a bottle of their grapeseed oil spray, and it gave me the perfect idea: a cranberry orange tart that would give me the chance to use up my cranberries, make a curd, and finally do something with my tart pan.
I am so pleased with how this tart turned out! Just looking at it makes me really happy. The cranberry orange curd is just tart enough, but still plenty sweet thanks to the honey. The crust is a delicious combination of almonds and pecans with a touch of Pompeian olive oil. The whipped cream on top seals the deal. Also, how gorgeous are those cranberries and those orange zest curls? I'm obsessed with looking at pictures of this tart. And also with eating it. I did share some with my mom, though, and she said it was one of the best things I've ever made! If you don't have cranberries on hand, this tart would also be fabulous with any other kind of curd--try classic lemon, dairy-free lemon, or strawberry. The curd possibilities are endless! This cranberry orange curd would be equally delicious on pancakes, toast, scones or ice cream if you don't feel like making a tart. A jar of curd also makes a wonderful homemade gift!
Saturday, December 7, 2013
There is a lot going on right now! I have three final exams next week, holiday parties are starting to pop up everywhere, and I've decided to put together a little e-cookbook for my email subscribers (click here to subscribe to make sure you get it as soon as it comes out!). Don't ask me why I started a new project right before finals week--I just couldn't help myself. Once I think of a fun idea, I need to get started as soon as possible.
With so much happening, it's important to start the day off with a good, healthy breakfast. This one is elegant enough for a weekend brunch, but simple enough to make any day of the week. I don't know about you, but I think these squash-framed baked eggs are pretty much the most gorgeous thing ever. They taste great, too! Buy some squash today so you can make these tomorrow for Sunday brunch. That's it from me--I'm off to study!
Sunday, December 1, 2013
When I lived in Houston, I loved to stop at El Rey Taquería for a big bowl of their tortilla soup, which was packed with chicken, shredded cheese, corn, avocado, and crispy tortilla strips, and also called caldo tlalpeño. The restaurant is open until 3 am on the weekends, and has a drive-through. I miss living the easy life in H-town, with all the drive-throughs, cheap prices, and delicious Mexican food! I decided it was time to make my own caldo tlalpeño up here in the frosty north.
A little research revealed that caldo tlalpeño and tortilla soup are not really the same thing. Tortilla soup usually has tortilla strips in it (shocking, right?), and caldo tlalpeño often has chickpeas and other vegetables like chayote. This is my version of the soup, which combines the best of both worlds. If you can't find chayote (I found mine at the Vietnamese market), you can use zucchini instead or leave it out.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
My next task was to find a great vegan cookie recipe. Since the cookies had to be nut-free, I soon realized it would be very hard to make them gluten-free as well. So, these cookies are a total gluten bomb. I promise to be back with more gluten-free eats very soon!
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Here's another post with an easy idea for a great gift: salted pepita chocolate bark. I brought little baggies of this to work last week, and everybody loved them. My coworkers were convinced that I bought the bark somewhere fancy. No one needs to know that this gourmet treat takes only minutes to make! I wrapped mine up in little cellophane treat bags, but you could also pack a bunch up in a nice holiday tin for a more sizeable gift.
If you missed my first post in the great gift ideas series, check it out. When you're done making vanilla salt, come back here to read about the bark. See you in five minutes!
Done? If not, you can substitute any coarse or flaky sea salt here, but the vanilla salt really takes this over the top. The pepitas provide a nice crunch and a pop of color, and the combination of vanilla bean, salt, and dark chocolate is absolutely amazing.
I like to make this right before bed, then leave it out to harden while I sleep. When I wake up in the morning, it's ready to break into pieces. Because of this routine, Ben calls this "breakfast chocolate". I can assure you, however, that it's delicious any time of day. I'm planning on making some more so I can put out a big bowl of it on Thanksgiving, for those of us who like to nibble on something sweet while waiting for the turkey. Enjoy!
Friday, November 22, 2013
Do you agree with me and the Barenaked Ladies that vanilla is the finest of the flavors? If you do, and/or if you remember that song, you should definitely make some vanilla-infused gifts this holiday season.
Vanilla sugar can be used anywhere you would use granulated sugar, but it's especially wonderful as a finishing sugar, sprinkled on top of cakes, cupcakes, creme brulee, homemade caramels, or ice cream. You can also put it in your coffee or tea for a delicious touch of creamy sweetness. Are you sold on vanilla sugar yet? If not, I'm not sure what to do with you! You can even make it with coconut sugar for a paleo-friendly vanilla treat. You know you want to!
If you love sweet and salty flavors together, you will love this vanilla sea salt. I made mine with Celtic gray coarse sea salt, and it's strikingly beautiful, fragrant, and complex. You can sprinkle it on top of any dessert that needs a salty finish (like these cupcakes or these bars), or even try adding it to savory dishes. I used a bunch in a batch of chocolate bark I made last night, and it was amazing (recipe coming soon)! Once you make this, you'll realize that salt and vanilla are meant to be together. You'll start wishing all your vanilla were salted, and all your salt vanilla-ed.
I made a bunch of little jars of vanilla sugar to give out as favors to all my friends and family who are coming for Thanksgiving. I love the idea of giving guests something delicious that they can take home and use for a long time. Both of these would also make great stocking stuffers, hostess gifts, and wedding favors. The best part is that they only take about five minutes to make!
Sunday, November 17, 2013
I'm on a really big soup kick right now. It's so comforting to sit down with a bowl of soup on a chilly fall day, especially a soup that's both kinds of hot: warm and a little spicy. The only problem with soup is that it sometimes takes a while to make. Not this one, though. You can have this soup on the table in less than 15 minutes! It's a deliciously creamy, warmly spiced fall soup that has a depth of flavor not usually achieved in super fast recipes. If you have a well-stocked pantry, you can whip up this soup at a moment's notice. It's great for lunch when paired with a big salad, and would also make a great Thanksgiving starter!
I used homemade chicken stock made from a rotisserie chicken for this soup. It was my first time making chicken stock, and I'm so glad I took the time to do it! It made the whole house smell wonderful, and I felt like I was being really frugal. I froze some of the stock in an ice cube tray, so now I have a bag of homemade stock cubes to use to make sauces and other recipes. This recipe will also work with store-bought stock, though--the real flavor star here is the curry paste.
To make the soup vegan or vegetarian, just omit the fish sauce or use a splash of coconut aminos instead. The soup will still be nice and flavorful with just the curry paste, stock, and pumpkin. You can even omit the sunbutter or almond butter if you're out, but it adds a nice richness to the soup.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Since we're hosting Thanksgiving this year, I've been scouring the interwebs for delicious, wholesome, and unique grain-free dishes. I thought I would share my ideal menu with you. I probably won't actually make every single one of these, but it's fun to dream big. What's going to be on your Thanksgiving table? Feel free to leave links to your favorite recipes in the comments. Happy menu planning!
Friday, November 15, 2013
Are you as addicted to baking as I am? Are you also, like me, trying to eat healthier food without spending all day and night in the kitchen? This flour blend is for you. When you bake grain-free, you can make delicious treats without all the guilt and gluten. When I stay gluten-free, I have more energy and fewer tummy problems. Even if you're not technically gluten-intolerant, you may still feel better without it! I also guarantee your hips will thank you. To save time in the kitchen, this flour blend creates a one-stop-shop for gluten-free baking: you measure once and get the benefits of three grain-free flours in precise balance with each other. If you haven't tried baking without grains yet, whip up a batch of this flour blend! Then start experimenting, and see who you can fool. I bet you'll be hearing, "I can't believe this is gluten-free!" in no time.
I like to make my baked goods with a combination of almond flour, tapioca starch, and coconut flour. The almond flour lends flavor and richness, the tapioca starch adds lightness and helps with browning, and the coconut flour helps achieve a cake-like texture. I've been experimenting with the best ratio for these three flours, and have settled upon 3:2:1--three parts almond flour, 2 parts tapioca starch, and 1 part coconut flour. The next step is to sift the three flours together to make a blend, so that you only need to measure my flour once to make a recipe. You can of course make any quantity of this flour blend by following the 3:2:1 ratio; the recipe below will make about four cups.
You can start by using this flour blend in these molten chocolate cakes--just use 6 tablespoons of the blend instead of the smaller quantities of each type of flour. I also used this blend to make a delicious coffee cake this morning--stay tuned for that recipe later this week! I'm experimenting with substituting this flour blend cup-for-cup for all-purpose flour in regular recipes, and will update this post to reflect which recipes I've had success with. I can't guarantee that this will be an effective flour substitute in every case, but it's a great place to start. If this blend works for you with a particular recipe, leave a comment with a link below so others can try it, too!
Update: I used this blend instead of all-purpose flour in this blondie recipe from Smitten Kitchen with great results! I also used coconut sugar instead of brown sugar, but other than that I followed the recipe exactly.