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Tag Archive: dairy-free

Chocolate Chip Biscotti with Chocolate Mousse (gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo)

May 7, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Sometimes, you just need dessert. No, not want, NEED.

Pizza? Eh, I can live without it. Chips and Cheetos? No problem. But dessert, especially chocolate…? Uh, I’m not giving either up anytime soon.

The quantity of sugar I used to eat was really what caused my weight to swell. Instead of having a little piece of candy or a bite of someone else’s dessert, I’d eat half a bag of those Dove dark chocolate squares or multiple slices of cake at sleepovers and parties. I craved the sweetness…and bad.

I went many months without eating dessert, saying no to squishy cafeteria cookies and pie at Thanksgiving. Eventually, I weaned myself off of sugar, like the good healthy disciple I am.

But that was no fun. I’d bake cookies or brownies for my parents or friends and never taste a bite! One day, I decided that enough was enough—I wanted dessert again.

Now, however, I consume my sweets healthfully. I bake completely gluten-free and mostly dairy free, sweetening only with small quantities of raw honey or coconut sugar. I have a reasonable portion on Saturdays and Sundays and save really decadent treats for vacation and special occasions. 

I love making my dessert and enjoying it, too. And you know what? So can you! In my opinion, a homemade baked good here and there is an important part of any diet…just in moderation. So, if you’re looking for a tasty weeknight or weekend project, try recreating these two incredible desserts. 

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The biscotti were inspired by Gather, one of my new favorite cookbooks. (Yes, I chased the UPS truck to attain my copy.) If you haven’t already taken a peek, definitely check it out.

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Do not use tinfoil, or else you will have crunchy silvery bits in your cookies.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat 1 egg, 1/3 cup of raw honey, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract on medium (for me, about setting 4) until homogeneous, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine 2 cups of blanched almond flour, 1/3 cup of arrowroot flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and a pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl. Break up any clumps with your hands.

Using a scoop or measuring cup, add about 1 cup of the dry ingredients at a time to the wet ingredients and mix until well-incorporated, about 3 minutes. Then, with a spatula, fold in an additional 1 tablespoon of arrowroot powder and 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips. (I used Enjoy Life, but you can also use 3 ounces of chopped dark chocolate.) 

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Dump all of the batter onto the prepared baking sheet and with your hands, flatten it into a 1-inch thick circle-ish-rectangle-thing. It doesn’t have to be perfect!

Bake until golden brown on top but not solid as a rock, about 20 minutes.

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Allow the circle-ish-rectangle-thing to cool for at least 15 minutes, then slice it into eighths. Flip the cookies on their sides so the inside is facing up, and bake for another 15 minutes.

Once beginning to brown on the insides, decrease the oven temperature to 250 degrees. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want your biscotti.

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Immediately upon exiting the oven, drizzle the cookies with some melted dark chocolate (I only needed about an ounce to give them a proper coating.) Don’t be stingy…be like Jackson Pollock!

You could always eat these biscotti with a strong espresso and call it a day, but I don’t recommend eating one without this chocolate mousse. It’s insanely easy to make; just do it!

In the bowl of a food processor, blend 4 eggs until airy and pale yellow, about 3 to 4 minutes. Because you’ll be eating the eggs raw, buy the freshest product possible, even if it costs a little extra.

While the eggs blend, melt 4 ounces of dark chocolate in a small saucepan or in the microwave with 30-second intervals. I used Alter Eco Blackout Chocolate, which is gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free.

To the eggs, pour in the melted chocolate, 2 tablespoons of strong decaf coffee (not caffeinated, or you’ll be bouncing off the walls), and 1/3 cup of palm shortening. Blend until the consistency of a thick sauce, about 3 minutes, then drizzle in 2 teaspoons of raw honey. Mix for 1 minute more before evenly dividing it between 4 6-ounce ramekins.

Let chill for at least 2 hours (preferably longer) before serving. Top with a dollop of coconut cream and/or fresh fruit to serve.

What dessert is your weakness? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!


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The Legs Make the Bird (Easy Weeknight Dinners)

May 4, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

I’ll admit it—I was once a chicken breast fanatic. I ate several ounces of that dry, tasteless white meat daily…and even with the amount of seasonings I’d put on it, boy, was it bland.

Since going Paleo, I almost always opt for the dark meat, which has more fat as well as vitamins and minerals. I love the juicy meat and crispy skin, then gnawing on the bones when I’m done.

Legs—both those of chickens and ducks—are also pretty easy to cook. All you need are some basic ingredients and a cast iron skillet! Although these dishes are a little time-consuming, most of the process is hands-off, so you can feel free to do other things while dinner cooks.

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For this first dish, Cinnamon Chicken with Cauliflower Couscous, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a large baking sheet and set aside.

Put your chicken legs in a large plastic bag and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon. Seal the bag and shake to distribute the spices. 

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of duck fat or refined coconut oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the chicken skin-side down and cook until brown and crispy, about 8 to 10 minutes. If your pan is smaller, brown the chicken in two batches to prevent over-crowding. Place the chicken on the prepared baking sheet, skin-side up, and bake until just cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes longer.

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While the chicken cooks, add 1 large onion, chopped, to the remaining chicken fat in the cast iron skillet. Cook over medium heat until softening and light brown, about 6 to 7 minutes, then add 2/3 cup of chopped dried fruit. I used a combination of apricots, prunes, and dates, but you can also try figs, raisins, or even cranberries.

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Cook for another 2 or 3 minutes, then add about 4 cups of riced cauliflower. (To make cauliflower with a couscous-like texture, process on high with about 1 teaspoon of water for approximately 15 to 20 seconds.)

Sprinkle the mixture with another 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ginger, 1 teaspoon of paprika, and 1 teaspoon of garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then cook over medium-low heat for another 5 to 7 minutes.

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This next recipe, Crispy Duck Legs, is a great dish for those just beginning to cook with my favorite water fowl. Just be prepared for the amount of fat you’ll render: I got almost 2 cups out of 4 legs!

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and stick a cast iron skillet in there to get nice and hot. With a small, sharp knife, score the duck legs and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

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Remove the hot skillet from the oven and place on the stove top over medium-high heat. Add 2 of the duck breasts, skin side down, and cook until brown and crispy, about 6 to 8 minutes. Every 2 minutes or so, rotate the legs about 90 degrees so you’ll get even coverage.

Flip the duck legs over, cook for an additional 2 minutes, then remove to a cutting board. Follow the same procedure with the other 2 duck legs. Your goal is not to cook the duck legs through, but to crispify the outside.

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Pour off almost all of the accumulated duck fat, reserving 1 to 2 tablespoons in the skillet to saute the veggies. Add 1/2 of a chopped red onion, 1 chopped carrot, 3 stalks of chopped celery, and 1/2 of a chopped apple. Sprinkle with just a pinch of salt and cook until soft and golden, about 12 minutes.

Return all 4 duck legs to the pan and pour in between 1 1/2 and 2 cups of stock (I used my homemade duck stock). The liquid should cover the veggies but not submerge the legs.

Slide the skillet into the oven, and cook at 400 for 30 minutes. Then, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue cooking until the duck legs reach at least 175 degrees, about 30 minutes longer.

Broil on low for an additional 3 minutes to get extra crispy skin.

I served up the duck legs alongside some roasted golden beets and a wild mushroom medley. To add simple bursts of flavor, try a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice or a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. If you have the time, a fruit-based sauce (like my cherry sauce) is excellent on top.

Have any suggestions for what I should cook next? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know! 


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Savory Steamers with Sweet Potato Chips (gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo)

May 1, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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I am very fortunate to have many food lovers in my life. One of those people is my awesome band director, whose specialty is…you guessed it, seafood.

Using his tips, I created a lick-your-bowl-clean dinner that was both satisfying and really easy to make. You don’t have to be a five-star chef to turn out this delicious meal!

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Before you start cooking, chop up 1 large onion, 2 stalks of celery, plus a handful of their leaves, 1 large carrot, and 4 cloves of garlic. Don’t leave out the celery leaves—they really help the dish shine.

Heat about 2 tablespoons of ghee or butter in a big pot over medium heat. Meanwhile, scrub off some Littleneck clams in the sink. I made 24 for 3 people, so figure about 8 per person. 

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Once the ghee or butter is hot and melted, add the onion and saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Then, add in the celery, celery leaves, carrot, and garlic and continue cooking until beginning to brown, about 6 to 7 minutes longer. Do not season with salt, or if you do, only add a little bit.

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Turn the heat down to medium-low and pour in 1 cup of stock (I used my homemade duck stock) and about 3/4 cup of white wine. Bring to a boil before adding the clams, covering the pot with a lid, and steaming until the clams have just opened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Don’t overcook them!

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Scoop up the clams and a bunch of the broth into a bowl, and dig in. It’s as easy as that!

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In French-style bistros, French fries are usually served with steamed shellfish. My sweet potato fries haven’t been turning out too well lately, so I decided to make sweet potato chips instead. They were fabulous, if I do say so myself.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and grease two large baking sheets with olive or coconut oil. Allow yourself plenty of time for baking to ensure maximum crispiness. 

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Peel and thinly slice two large sweet potatoes into 1/8-inch rounds. You can use a mandolin, but I personally prefer my trusty kitchen knife. 

Toss the rounds in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, place on the baking sheets, and sprinkle the tops with salt and pepper. If you want to add some extra flavorings, like chipotle chili pepper, garlic/onion powder, or dried herbs, feel free to do so!

Bake until beginning to discolor on one side, about 10 to 12 minutes, then flip over and bake until crispy, anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes longer depending on oven rack position and evenness of temperature.

Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving so the chips have time to harden a bit.

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What’s your favorite bistro or pub dish? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!


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Fudgy Chocolate Banana Brownies (gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo)

April 28, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

Hi everyone! Wondering why nothing’s been posted in the past few days?

Well, I was on a trip with my school’s music ensembles to Six Flags. Fun? Yes. I went on the ride pictured below, Batwing, with my friends—it was pretty awesome. I think I screamed the entire time.

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So was healthy food available? Unless you consider a double bacon cheeseburger and fries nutritious, uh, no. I am unbelievably happy to be in contact with real food again.

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OK, I know what you’re thinking: that’s not real food! I wish. Although I don’t recommend eating brownies every day, these are about as close to nutritionally sound as you can get. Save a little room after dinner and allow yourself a moist, fudgy treat.

To ZipList this recipe, click here.

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line an 8 x 8 baking sheet with parchment paper, then grease with coconut oil. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. I have made brownies too many times to count, and I’ve learned the hard way that if you don’t effectively prepare the pan, you’re going to get a big crumbly mess. Please spare yourself from the extra cleanup. 

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In a small saucepan, melt 4 ounces of dark chocolate over low heat. I used about 3.5 ounces (one bar) of Green’s Organics 85% Dark Chocolate and .5 ounces (one square) of Ghiradelli 100% Baking Chocolate, but feel free to use any chocolate between the 70% and 100% cacao mass range.

While the chocolate melts, puree 2 ripe bananas in the food processor until smooth and the consistency of pancake batter, about 3 minutes. Set aside for later use.

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In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat 3 eggs on medium (for me, about setting 6) until light and airy, about 4 minutes. Then, gently pour in 1/4 cup of palm shortening (I buy Spectrum—you can get it at Whole Foods), 1/4 cup of refined coconut oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of raw honey. Mix until combined, about 3 minutes. It may seem a little clumpy, but fear not!

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Scoop in the melted chocolate with a spatula, and mix for 1 or 2 minutes longer. Once combined, add in 1 cup of blanched almond flour, 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, and a pinch of salt. Mix until thick and homogeneous, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Pour your batter into the readied pan and smooth with a spatula to evenly distribute. Top with the pureed bananas and swirl with a toothpick, if you like.

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Bake until a toothpick comes out clean in the center, about 20 minutes. If you’re like me and you like crunchy corners and tops, broil on low for an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Don’t go overboard, or you will have desert-dry brownies.

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Immediately upon removing from the oven, dust the tops with about a tablespoon of raw cacao powder. Allow to rest in the pan for 30 minutes before flipping onto a cutting board, slicing, and serving.

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YUM. Nothing like a brownie, eh? 

What dessert should I try next? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!


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Crispy Roasted Duck with Cherry Sauce

April 23, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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After eyeing the whole ducks at our local butcher for months, I finally decided to give cooking one a try. Sure, I’ve heard horror stories, but I was up for a challenge.

Thankfully, I achieved exactly what I wanted: crispy skin and succulent gamy flavor. I think I could’ve eaten the whole bird!

Give yourself plenty of time to roast the duck. I served dinner a little after 6:30 and popped it into the oven a little after 1:30 just to be safe.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and allow your bird to come to room temperature for 1/2 an hour. Rinse off in cold water and pat dry with paper towels, then remove the neck and/or gizzards if present. Cut off the excess fat, particularly around the neck and posterior regions, before seasoning liberally with salt and pepper. 

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Yes, you are now looking into the butt of a duck carcass. Lovely, eh?

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With the neck, I highly recommend making some stock. I threw it in a big pot along with some kaffir lime leaves, a few stalks of lemongrass, and a couple pieces of galanagal (a spice similar to ginger), then simmered in water all day. You can find all three of these spices near the coconut milk at Whole Foods or at a local Asian market.

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Back to roasting duck: with a small, sharp knife, make diagonal cuts both ways through the skin without slicing the flesh itself. Proceed to poke the skin dozens of times with the tip of the knife. This may seem a little odd, but it helps to release the massive stores of fat and makes the skin nice and crispy.

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To cook, place the duck breast-side up on a rack in a large roasting pan, then cook for one hour.

At this point, remove from the oven, poke all over with the tip of the knife again, and flip over. Roast for another hour, then repeat the same process. Keep going until the legs register at 175 degrees and the breast registers at 160, about 4-4 1/2 hours depending on the size of your duck.

If you feel that too much fat is accumulating in the pan, transfer the rack with the duck to a cutting board and pour the fat into a measuring cup. This stuff is great for cooking with, so don’t throw it out!

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When the duck is cooked through, increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees and roast until the skin cooks to your desired crispiness, about 7 to 9 minutes. Take it out of the oven, tent with tinfoil, and let sit for at least a half an hour before carving.

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I love duck paired with fruit, so I made a cherry sauce inspired by Ted Allen.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of ghee, then saute 1/2 of an onion until soft, about 7 minutes. Add 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 cup of stock (I used the duck neck liquid I made earlier), 1 cup of frozen cherries, 2 tablespoons of all-fruit cherry preserves, 2 teaspoons of raw honey, and 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let thicken, about 10 to 12 minutes. When you’re ready to eat, stir in 1 tablespoon of grass-fed butter and a squeeze of lemon juice.

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As for side dishes, I made balsamic roasted radicchio and a sweet sunchoke puree.

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The radicchio is perfect to make while the duck rests. Cut each head into fourths or sixths (depending on how big they are), sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Roast at 400 degrees until brown around the edges, about 15 to 17 minutes. 

For the puree, chop up a pound of sunchokes into 1/2-inch cubes. In case you’re unfamiliar with these little knobs of flavor, a sunchoke is a funny looking root that resembles a large fingerling potato. They have a sweet, nutty taste and can be found by the root vegetables at Whole Foods.

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In a large, deep pot, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the reserved duck fat (the stuff in the measuring cup) over medium heat. (If the idea totally grosses you out, substitute the same amount of ghee or coconut oil.) Dump in sunchokes, and saute until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. These stick, so make sure you stir constantly.

At this point, pour in 1 1/2 cups of stock (I used the duck liquid I made), reduce the heat slightly, and bring to a boil. Let bubble until the sunchokes are softened and most of the liquid is gone, about another 10 minutes more.

Finally, put the sunchokes in the bowl of a food processor with 1/2 a banana (yes, a banana), 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of chipotle chile pepper, and a good crack of black pepper, then blend until completely smooth, about 3 minutes. For some extra creaminess, add in 2 tablespoons of grass-fed butter and process for 2 minutes longer. Your puree may not look too appetizing, but I promise, it’ll taste great! If only there was such a thing as cooking glitter…

It was a labor of love, but I did it! Thank goodness I didn’t set the house on fire in the process.

What meat or poultry should I try cooking next? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!


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