Monday, April 14, 2014

Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Lemon Olive Oil Cake (Paleo, Grain-free, Kosher for Passover) acalculatedwhisk.com

Passover starts tonight, and if you have your big seder this evening, I realize I may be getting this dessert idea out too late.  However, it never hurts to have a delicious kosher for Passover snack cake on hand for days 2-8, right?  This cake would also be perfect for Easter--since I celebrate both holidays, I'm planning on making this again next weekend and dressing it up with some eggs and/or bunnies.

This cake is delicious: moist, tender, and perfectly lemony.  I couldn't taste the olive oil, but I think it adds some hard-to-pinpoint depth to the overall flavor of the cake, and it's nice to know you're baking with a healthy, dairy-free cooking fat.  The glaze is cashew-based, but I worked hard to make honey and lemon the prominent flavors, so I think people who don't know cashews are the main ingredient won't be able to figure it out.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cashew Chicken with Asparagus & Shiitake Mushrooms

Cashew Chicken with Asparagus & Shiitake Mushrooms / acalculatedwhisk.com

It's finally spring, which means it's asparagus time.  I love asparagus, and usually just roast it or dip it raw into some hummus.  This time I decided to change things up and add it to a paleo version of one of my favorite Chinese stir-fries, cashew chicken.  I love the taste of roasted cashews coated in a savory sauce, and crisp asparagus spears add another level of freshness and flavor.  The shiitake mushrooms and a tiny bit of fish sauce give this recipe plenty of umami, which really takes things over the top. (Are you as obsessed with shiitake mushrooms as I am?  You could use any mushroom in a recipe like this, but I find the meaty flavor and tender texture of shiitakes totally irresistible.)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Blackberry Smash


Blackberries are my favorite fruit, and they are so delicious this time of year.  In addition to eating blackberries & dark chocolate for breakfast, I've been using them to make this amazing mocktail/cocktail, the blackberry smash.  I was going to call it a blackberry fauxjito, but blackberry smash is just so much more fun to say.  In addition to being fun to say, it's really fun to make and drink.

When I have a party, I like to offer one special, seasonally-inspired cocktail that I can make for my friends all night long.  I'm not a very proficient bartender, so I don't want to offer a bunch of different things, but I've found that having one unique drink makes a gathering way more glamorous and fun.  At Thanksgiving this past year, I had ten people over, and was prepared with several different kinds of wine and beer, as well as the ingredients for cranberry margaritas.  The margaritas were such a hit that I don't think we opened a single bottle of wine--no one could say no to a creative libation based on fall's quintessential berry.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Chocolate for Breakfast: Ghirardelli Intense Dark 72%


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and also my favorite.  Today I'm sharing how to make Ghirardelli Intense Dark 72% chocolate part of a complete breakfast.  Don't tell me chocolate for breakfast is strange--I promise that if you love chocolate at night, you'll love it even more in the morning.

Do you remember those cereal ads that used to run in the nineties during kids' shows--the ones that always said the cereal being advertised was "part of this complete breakfast?"  I never considered cereal a meal, even as a kid, and I always wondered: what ELSE is part of this complete breakfast?


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Slow-Cooker Carnitas Lettuce Wraps with Pineapple & Avocado Salsa


Ben is out of town this week, so I have been left to my own devices.  Last night I got home and decided to read the first chapter or two of the kids' novel Because of Winn-Dixie, which I needed to preview before using it in a lesson.  Turns out the book is really good, and also a bit sad.  A girl named India Opal, whose mother left when she was little, moves to Naomi, Florida with her dad and ends up adopting a stray dog who helps her make all kinds of interesting friends.  Each friend has their own poignant story.  I may have ended up crying several times (just enough to need a tissue, not straight-up bawling), and finishing the whole book in less than two hours.  Now, that's what I call a fun evening!  Tonight I might watch the film version.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Easy Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting {Secret Recipe Club}


Sometimes you just need a cupcake.  Or a few cupcakes.  I feel that I need cupcakes often, but it's rare that I actually need a dozen, full-size cupcakes.  Unless I have a party to take them to, making a whole batch of cupcakes can often end in disaster, with me deciding that a cupcake with coffee is a great breakfast, a cupcake with a side of fruit is a perfect lunch, and dinner is best concluded by eating another two cupcakes, and so on for the next few days.

That's why I love small-batch baking.

This delicious recipe for a small batch of easy vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting comes from Asiya at Chocolate and Chillies.  I was assigned her blog for my first month participating in the Secret Recipe Club, and had so much fun perusing her recipe index and deciding what to cook (if you haven't heard of the SRC, it's basically a club where each month you're assigned a blog to cook from, and someone else is assigned your blog, and it's a fun surprise on the reveal day to see who had your blog and what they decided to make).

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sweet Potato & Roasted Garlic Hummus


Is it spring yet?  It's still freezing here.  Also, yesterday was so windy that I ended up getting dust and tiny pebbles blown into my eyes several times during my ten-minute walk to the train.  A little early-spring sandstorm right here in Boston.  Needless to say, I was not a fan.

I'm trying to keep my food springy, in hopes that the weather will follow suit.  So, here is some paleo (chickpea-free) hummus.  It's a little sweet from the sweet potato, but with lots of savory flavor from the tahini, a whole head of roasted garlic, and some garlic-infused olive oil.  Don't be intimidated by the large quantity of garlic--it mellows out as it roasts, and the flavor is amazing.  Your house will smell amazing, too.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Pan-Seared Chicken, Orange, & Walnut Salad {Plus a Giveaway}


Next Friday is the one-year anniversary of my very first blog post (note the cringe-worthy photos).  Even though I didn't know much about blogging back then, I totally stand by that first recipe--the lemon curd is so delicious.  It's amazing that this site, which is such a big part of my life now, didn't even exist just one year ago.

To celebrate, I made us a salad.  If you don't think a salad is the proper way to celebrate a blogiversary, you're right--I don't think of salads as celebratory, either.  I totally have plans for an over-the-top grain-free cake for next week, but thought I would balance things out by making this nutritious salad first.

My favorite part of this salad (other than the gorgeous hue of the Cara Cara oranges) is the creamy dreamy dressing.  I'm pretty boring with dressings, and usually just make a simple balsamic vinaigrette, perhaps with a touch of honey or Dijon mustard if I'm feeling fancy.  However, I do have a soft spot for rich, creamy dressings.  I wondered if I could make a great creamy dressing without any dairy, so that people with allergies (or people doing a Whole30 or strict paleo) could eat it.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Chocolate-Covered Almonds


Chocolate-covered almonds are my new favorite snack.  With a little sea salt added to the mix, they are just phenomenal.  Lately I've been seeing and buying them everywhere: Starbucks, Tedeschi, and Whole Foods each carry their own versions, all of which are irresistible to hungry grad students.  I decided it was time to make my own.

These almonds are roasted, dipped in salted dark chocolate, and tossed with a bit of Dutch-processed cocoa powder.  I can't stop eating them.  Although the chocolate coating is not as thick as the almonds I get at the store, which must be triple-dipped, this version still does a great job of satisfying my chocolate cravings.  I actually prefer the chocolate-to-almond ratio of this recipe, which allows the nutty flavor of the roasted almonds to come through.  If you don't like your almonds roasted, you can also make this with raw almonds.

While I loved the way these almonds tasted, I wasn't thrilled with how they looked.  It turns out it's really hard (at least for me) to get nice, smooth chocolate on something that has to be covered on all sides.  Since I like everything I post here to be easy on the eyes as well as delicious, I was contemplating not posting this recipe at all; however, when I asked some of my friends on Facebook what they thought, everyone said I should go for it.  So, here it is: a four-ingredient recipe for the most addictive snack on earth.  I hope you like it!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Paleo Pad See Ew


I love Thai food, and my favorite dish to order is Pad See Ew.  It's kind of like Pad Thai's lesser-known but cooler little sister, and it's so good.  It's traditionally made with wide, flat rice noodles and dark sweet soy sauce, and often has broccoli, carrots, egg, and some sort of meat or tofu.  I'm not totally sure why, but I'm completely in love with wide, flat rice noodles.  They're just so big and chewy, and a great vehicle for soaking up whatever delicious sauce they're paired with.

This paleo version of pad see ew is made with homemade "noodles" that are actually tapioca crepes sliced into strips.  They work perfectly in this dish.  The texture is not exactly the same as the texture of rice noodles, but it's pretty close!  Coconut aminos and honey make a delicious paleo and gluten-free replacement for the dark sweet soy sauce.