Super Simple Summer Salad

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Looking for an easy and refreshing summer dinner? Look no further. This couldn’t be easier. It’s light and refreshing but filling enough to call a meal. Perfect for a hot summer evening when you don’t feel like standing over the stove.

1 Small Head of Romaine Lettuce, chopped

1 Chicken Breast, grilled

Salad Dressing of Your Choice

I used 1 Heaping Tablespoon of Olive Oil Mayo, about 3 or 4 teaspoons of Rice Wine Vinegar, and about 1/4 Block of Sheep’s milk cheese. Put it all in a bowl, seasoned with pepper and stirred with a fork until combined.

Place all ingredients in a large bowl, toss together and plate. Can it get any easier?

Pecan Pie Bars

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I just realized I’m on a bit of a pecan kick today. First the haystacks and now these bars. Kind of funny actually because I didn’t like nuts growing up in my food at all. My Grandma always said “your tastes will change as you get older” and I guess she was right. Although, I seem to remember her telling me that when I would wrinkle my nose because she was making some kind of horrible smelling creamed fish for dinner. Luckily, my tastes haven’t elevated to that level.. But overall, she was right. My tastes have dramatically changed, especially over the past five or so years.

These pecan bars are perfect. Well, perfect in my eyes anyway. I never liked pecan pie growing up because I didn’t like all the filling. I preferred a little filling with a lot of crust. The original recipe for these bars came from Recipezaar and had gluten and dairy (of course). I tweaked it a lot to get it to my liking. Now it has the perfect amount of crust verses filling and comes in the form of a handy little bar and not a mushy pie with too much filling and not enough crust. These bars also freeze very well for use later. They are also quite tasty straight from the freezer. They don’t freeze completely solid so you can grab one whenever you like.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 9×11 baking pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

For the Crust:

1/2 Cup Sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

2 1/2 Cups Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

1 Cup Dairy Free Butter (I use Soy Free Earth Balance)

Place all dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk. Add the butter and cut in. (I use my fingers and crumble the mixture through them until it is broken down into large pea size pieces.)

Pour mixture into the greased pan and pat down until it is firm and forms a crust. I use parchment or a plastic bag sprayed lightly with non-stick spray. You can also use your hands but when the butter warms it will stick and be very frustrating.

Bake crust in pre-heated oven for 30 minutes or until edges begin to lightly brown.

While the crust is baking, prepare the topping:

2 Large Eggs plus 1 Egg White

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

1 1/2 Tablespoons Dairy Free Butter

3/4 Cup Sugar

3/4 Cup Dark Karo Syrup

1 1/4 Cups Pecan Halves, roughly chopped

Place all ingredients except the chopped pecans in a large bowl and whisk well until combined. Add nuts, whisk.

When the crust is done, remove from oven and pour pecan mixture over the hot crust.

Bake for 30 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.

Toasted Coconut and Pecan Haystacks

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Chocolate, toasted pecans, toasted coconut. Absolute yummy goodness. Enough said.

Toasted Coconut and Pecan Haystacks

8oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Squares (they are dairy free)

About 1 cup Shredded Sweetened Coconut

About 3/4 cup Finely Chopped Pecans

Melt chocolate in a double broiler or in a bowl over a pan of hot water until smooth. While chocolate is melting, toast pecans in a medium-hot skillet. Be careful, they go from toasted to burnt in a nano second. Set pecans aside to cool slightly and toast the coconut in the same skillet. Toss frequently so it doesn’t burn. Pour coconut into melted chocolate, pour almost all of the pecans into the melted chocolate. Stir until completely combined and spoon (tablespoon) onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment. I got about 16 pieces out of it. Sprinkle with a little bit of un-toasted coconut and the remaining nuts. Pop them in the freezer just until set. Store in an airtight container…if they last that long.

Clementine Carrot Cookies

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I have been searching for this recipe for more than 10 years. My mom used to make a cookie similar to this when I was young and it was so good! Smelled good, looked good, and tasted heavenly. The last time I remembered eating them I was in grade school, what, about 38 years ago? I still can remember everything about them and even recall the wonderful orange scent. However… she couldn’t remember the cookie when I asked about the recipe. Thus began my search for the infamous “orange” cookie recipe. I was recently going through some of my Grandma’s old cookbooks and ran across a carrot cookie recipe. You know, those “old lady” cook books where all of the ladies gather together in a community or a church and make their own cook books? Don’t scoff, they may not be Martha Stewart recipes, but I have run across some amazing jewels in those inexpensive little cook books. Plus, most of the recipes are tried and true family gems that have been passed down for generations.

The recipe called for carrots, orange extract, and grated orange peel…could it be? Have I finally found the recipe or something similar to it? I of course had to de-gluten them and then add some other things because I didn’t have orange extract. Once they started cooking they certainly smelled like the lovely orange cookie I remember… I immediately ate one when I took them out of the oven and realized my 10 plus years search had finally come to an end. Absolute heaven in the form of a cookie.

Here is the original recipe:

Carrot Cookies by Mrs. J.T. Byers

2 c. flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 c. shortening

3/4 c. sugar

1 c. grated raw carrots

1/2 tsp. orange extract

1 tsp. grated orange rind

1 egg, well beaten

And here is my recipe, de-glutened and with some additions:

Clementine Carrot Cookies

2 Cups Mama’s Almond Flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 Cup Shortening

3/4 Cup Sugar

1 Cup Grated Raw Carrots

2 Tablespoons of Grated Clementine Rind (about three)

1 teaspoon Clementine Juice (reserve the remainder of the juice for frosting)

1 egg

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Powdered Sugar

Reserved Clementine Juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum in a medium bowl and set aside. In a mixer cream the shortening and sugar scraping down the sides once or twice.  Add Carrots, rind, juice, and egg. Mix until thoroughly combined. It will be a gorgeous orange color.

Next, with mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients, and then mix on medium until thoroughly combined scraping down bowl once. Don’t over mix.

Drop by teaspoons onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 12 minutes and remove to a rack to cool. While cookies are baking, pour powdered sugar into a small bowl and slowly add the reserved clementine juice. Whisk until it is thoroughly combined and is of drizzling consistency. Not too runny, about what I would call medium thick.

Wait for cookies to cool and then drizzle with a little frosting.

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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These cookies are so easy a monkey could make them. Seriously. They come together in minutes and only take about 12 minutes or so to bake. Perfect if you have unexpected company or want to satisfy a peanut butter and chocolate craving but don’t have the energy to make a recipe with a thousand steps. They also freeze well, which is what I’m doing tonight…freezing them for camping. I think I found the original recipe on the internet several years ago. I’ve tweaked it to my own liking, of course. I’ve never tried it with other nut butters, but I bet you could easily do something like that depending on the oil content of the nut.

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 Jar of Organic Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter

1 1/2 Cups Brown Sugar, packed

2 Large Organic Eggs

2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt

About 1 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate (I used 5 squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate..yes, it’s dairy-free)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place all ingredients except the chocolate in a mixer. Mix just until thoroughly combined, do not over mix. This will only take maybe 10-15 seconds.

Rough chop your chocolate.

Add chocolate chunks to mixer and mix just until combined. Maybe 5-6 seconds. Do not over mix, if you do, the chocolate will separate itself from the dough and you will end up with a pile of chocolate at the bottom of the bowl with the dough on top and once this happens, it’s not fixable.

Next, scoop out little mounds, about 1 1/2 Tablespoons each, onto the parchment lined baking sheet. I usually do about 12 per sheet. They don’t spread much but I like to give mine plenty of room to “breathe” during cooking.

Bake for about 12 minutes.

Homemade Mixed Berry Sorbet

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I have to admit, I’m astonished at how good this is. I can’t believe I haven’t been making my own sorbet for years. It is leaps and bounds above store-bought sorbet. There really is no comparison. The flavors are pure and powerful and literally taste like a handful of just picked berries. Amazingly refreshing on a hot summer day. Fat free. Beautiful. It even smells like I took a handful of berries and crushed them in my hands.

Now that I know how simple this is to make, I of course, have a ton of sorbet recipes and ideas swimming through my head. It’s just about peach picking season at Greenbluff and I’m already looking forward to a batch of fresh peach sorbet. Mint sorbet, chocolate sorbet, mandarin orange sorbet, banana sorbet…I think you can pretty much count on seeing more sorbet recipes from me in the future.

Homemade Mixed Berry Sorbet

2 Quarts of Mixed Berries, frozen (I used fresh picked and then frozen – blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Try not to settle with the freezer section store bought berries. It makes all the difference in the world in flavor when you buy them at a farmer’s market or pick them yourself and then freeze them. Simply pour them out on a cookie sheet and place them in your freezer until they are completely frozen. This keeps them from sticking to each other and becoming mushy.)

2/3 Cup Sugar

2 Cups All Natural No Sugar Added Mango Peach Juice

1 Cup Water

Juice of 2 Limes

Place all ingredients in a large blender. You may have to do it in two batches depending on the strength and size of your blender. You could probably also do it in a food processor in two batches.

Blend until completely incorporated and somewhat smooth. I like mine to have a little body, but you can blend it as smoothly as you like. Then, spread it out into an 8 1/2 x 11 glass or ceramic dish.

If you’re making it in the morning, cover with plastic wrap and freeze all day. If not, cover it and freeze it over night. Next, remove from dish and scoop out into a large bowl. I stirred mine a few times. Cover and freeze until ready to use. Scoop into pretty dishes and garnish with mint or fresh berries.

Black Bean Dip

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I have a deep love for summer. The sun, the heat that seeps deep into your bones…so relaxing. The long days, the gardening, barbecuing, yummy drinks with lime and mint, camping. I could go on and on. I also love all of the foods that go along with those months, especially dips. So simple and convenient. I like to keep at least one on hand in the fridge for a quick snack or a nice side dish to go with a lunch salad. When I first went dairy-free I feared that my love affair with dip would be over. But, the more I research and think things through, there are tons of dips that I can make and enjoy dairy free. This bean dip is one of them and it’s incredibly simple. Great for summer and I think it would also be delicious baked with dairy-free cheese on top for the winter months.

1 Can of Black Bean, rinsed and drained

1 Whole Clove of Garlic, peeled

1 Whole Jalapeno, stem removed

About 2 Tablespoons Fresh Cilantro Leaves

Zest of 1 Lime

Juice of 1 Lime

1 1/2 teaspoon Cumin

About 2 Tablespoons Olive oil

Rice Crackers.

Place all ingredients in food processor (minus the olive oil and rice crackers…of course). Pulse until mixture is somewhat incorporated. Turn food processor on and drizzle olive oil in until fully incorporated. You can make yours as smooth or as chunky as you like. If you want it really smooth you will have to add more olive oil. I like mine to have a little bit of body. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator.

Asian Shrimp Skewers with Hot and Spicy Slaw

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This turned out so good that I think I might have to make it again in a few days. It’s a nice, light meal that is surprisingly packed with flavor. Perfect for a hot summer evening. I think it would also pair nicely with a slightly sweet, fruity wine. It was really easy to put together, you can make it even easier if you want, by making the salad dressing and marinade the night before and sticking it in the fridge. One disclaimer though…the “hot” in the Hot and Spicy slaw is hot. We are big fans of spicy and hot in this family, but as with any recipe, you can feel free to tweak it to your liking.

1 Bag 50-60 Shrimp, peeled, rinsed & patted dry

Wood Skewers

For the Shrimp Marinade:

1 Lime, zested

Juice of 1 Lime

3 Tbsp. Gluten-Free Soy Sauce

1 Tbsp. Apricot Simply Fruit Jelly

1 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar

1/2 Tbsp. Sriracha Sauce

1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper

1/2 Tbsp. Dried Parsley Flakes

1 Tbsp. Chopped Garlic

Place all ingredients in a medium glass or ceramic bowl and stir.

Add shrimp and toss. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but no more than 1 1/2 hours.

For the Salad Dressing:

1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar

1 Lime, zested

Juice of 1 Lime

1 Jalapeno, diced with seeds and membrane intact (if you like it hot)

1 Tbsp. Cilantro, chopped

1 Tbsp. Fish Sauce

1 Tbsp. Sweet Chili Sauce

1/8 tsp. Dark Sesame Oil

Sesame Seeds for sprinkling after salad is tossed with dressing

Place all ingredients (except the seeds) in a small glass or ceramic bowl, stir. Cover and refrigerate while you make the salad.

For the Salad:

2 1/2 Cups Napa Cabbage, sliced thinly

2 Tbsp. Chives, finely chopped

1 Large Carrot, shredded

2 Large Broccoli Florets, pulled apart

1/2 Seedless Cucumber, peeled and sliced lengthwise then quartered

Place all ingredients in a medium glass or ceramic bowl and refrigerate until you are ready to dress the salad (right before the shrimp come off of the grill).

Next, skewer the shrimp and pre-heat the grill on medium-high.

I also grilled a summer squash alongside the shrimp. Cut  in half lengthwise, top with chopped garlic, thyme, olive oil and a squirt of lime juice on each one.

Grill the shrimp until done. They only take a few minutes per side. While the shrimp and the squash are grilling, toss the salad with the dressing and sprinkle with sesame seeds. I also made a dip for the shrimp with a little rice vinegar, sweet chile sauce, and sriracha sauce.