Hot Lava Kale Chips

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Are you thinking, ewwww…kale? And, what are kale chips?

Kale chips are kale leaves that have just a little drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and are toasted in the oven until crispy. Yes, crispy.

Just like potato chips, but healthier and happier – potato chips’ long lost skinny cousin, perhaps. If you’re not a lover of kale, these light as air, crispy little chips will change your mind. Trust me.

The hot lava part comes from the Kauai sea salt my in law’s gave me for Christmas. Hawaiian sea salt, garlic, chili pepper, charcoal, and natural hickory. Crispy kale and hot lava Hawaiian sea salt? A marriage made in Heaven and a unique and delicious way to get your greens.

Kale Chips

Preheat oven to 300°

These need to be enjoyed the same day that you make them.

2 Large Heads of Organic Kale

Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Rinse both heads of kale well and lay out on paper towels. Pat dry as much as possible. Once they have dried completely, cut the leaves away from the stems.

Tear the leaves into chunks if necessary and place them in a large bowl.

Line two baking sheets with parchment. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil and sea salt over the kale leaves in the bowl and toss to disperse. I did mine twice. Spread the leaves onto the two baking sheets, fringe up.

Bake them for about 20 minutes or so, rotating the sheets after 10 minutes. They are done when they have wilted a little and are crisp to the touch. Make sure you taste one, the edges may be crisp but the rest of the leaf might need a little more time.

They are done when they crumble like this in your mouth.

What’s Left

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Ahhh…the New Year. That wonderful time of year when everything starts afresh and we all think we’re fatter than we were at the beginning of December and need to eat more vegetables and make monumental New Year’s resolutions to not eat any more sugar. I don’t mind eating more veggies and cutting back on sugar, well, at least until Valentine’s Day. But give up sugar completely? I. Think. Not.

Tomorrow is grocery day so it’s time to peek into the vegetable drawer and see what’s leftover from the week that’s still safe to eat. I’m amazed at how fresh our new refrigerator keeps our produce. I swear over the years with our 16-year-old refrigerator we threw away enough rotten vegetables to feed a third world country on a regular basis. It’s a crying shame and when you try to buy organic as much as possible, you don’t want to see any of those vegetables go to waste!

You might think it’s a bit weird that I’m eating a “summer” type salad in the middle of winter. Not only did I not want to see the veggies go to waste but we are also having some unusually warm, spring like, weather. We should be shoveling a couple of feet of snow right now but it’s so nice and sunny outside, I have to keep fighting the urge to go out and work in the yard.

And then of course there’s the New Year. All that healthy stupid stuff.

Leftover Lunch

Zucchini

Summer Squash

Tomato

Red Onion

English Cucumber

Grilled Chicken Breast

Dried Oregano

Dried Dill

Dried Parsley

Olive Oil

Rice Vinegar

It’s pretty straight forward. Make a salad of fresh veggies and leftover meat that you have on hand. Assemble it on a plate. Pour a dollop of olive oil, a dollop of vinegar, a pinch of parsley, a pinch of oregano, and a pinch of dill in a bowl or cruet. Whisk or shake until it begins to emulsify and drizzle over your salad.

Heaven in The Form of Caramel Corn

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I’m not a big fan of crunchy, crispy, caramel corn. I like mine warm, gooey, and slightly salty with a hint of vanilla. It’s a totally different experience than regular caramel corn. It seems lavish and special. Because it  is special. It’s not one of those desserts you make all the time because frankly, it would just seem so wrong to eat it on a weekly basis. But when you do decide to splurge,  it’s worth every gooey, morsel. The caramel is cooked just enough so that it attaches itself to the popcorn but not too much so it can stay gooey. Warm, rich caramel, with a hint of vanilla and a few sprinkles of sea salt, trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Dairy Free Caramel Corn

*Please remember, melted sugar is very dangerous! It continues to burn when it hits the skin and can cause major damage. Use caution when making this recipe and please don’t involve your little ones in the caramel part of the recipe.

1 Medium Bowl of Plain Popcorn, seeds/kernels removed from bottom of bowl

About 1/2 Cup Dairy Free Butter

About 3/4 Cup Dark Corn Syrup

About 2 Large Handfuls of Dark Brown Sugar

Pure Vanilla Extract

Sea Salt

Pop the corn and remove all seeds and hard kernels from the bottom of the bowl. I use two bowls. Pop into one and shake it until all of the un-popped kernels go to the bottom. Then carefully scoop out the fluffy corn into another bowl leaving the hard pieces behind.

Place the butter, corn syrup, and dark brown sugar in a large skillet.

Stirring constantly, heat on medium until boiling. Stop stirring and continue to boil for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and add about 2 teaspoons of vanilla, stir.

Pour half of the caramel mixture over the bowl of popped corn. Sprinkle with sea salt and toss carefully with a wooden spoon. Poor the remaining caramel over the popped corn and sprinkle with another layer of sea salt.

The stirring cools the caramel corn so at this point, it’s safe to eat.

Coconut Ice Cream with Warm Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Peaches

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Peaches, coconut ice cream, brown sugar, and warm, soothing Fall spices? Honestly, there aren’t enough descriptive words to tell you how delicious this was. I could eat this every day of my life. Next time I make it, which might just have to be tomorrow night, I’m going to add just a little splash of dark rum.

Serves Two

2 Ripe Peaches

About 1 1/2 teaspoons of Dark Brown Sugar

About 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon

About 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss Ice Cream  (It’s Dairy Free)

Peel and thinly slice peaches into a small sauce pan. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Simmer on medium-low for about 10-15 minutes until the flavors are fully incorporated and peaches become juicy.

Remove from burner and cool for about 5 minutes. Drizzle sauce and peaches over ice cream.

“Grandma’s” Potato Soup

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I had to call this Grandma’s Potato Soup because she made the absolute best potato soup there is, hands down. Hers of course involved a lot of whole milk or cream and butter…so I had to tweak my recipe a bit. But all in all, the inspiration comes from her. I can hear what you’re saying…”Potato soup, it’s 90 degrees outside.” Yes it is, but it’s only 72 in here. Perfect weather for a bowl of homemade potato soup.

While I was chopping everything up for this soup lots of really great memories came flooding back. Don’t you love that when it happens? I am so thankful that I have so many great childhood memories of my Grandparents to choose from. I can hear the fans humming in my Grandma’s house on those hot summer days, smell her garden, remember at least 35 amazing Thanksgiving dinners, sit right on the front porch with my Grandpa on those lazy, hot summer days while he sipped a glass of beer with a sprinkle of salt. A glass for him and a tiny dish of beer for their dog, Punkin. The smell of the hand cleaner my Grandpa used after he’d been working in the garage all day. The feel of my Grandma’s 100% heavy cotton sheets when we would jump back into bed in the mornings after she would wake up at the crack of dawn to make my Grandpa breakfast before he was off to work for the day. The smell of their attic that I thought had amazing treasures. I can taste the strips of pie dough with cinnamon, sugar, and butter that my Grandma always had leftover from making holiday pies.  The smell of the tiny little Christmas tree she bought for me to have in my bedroom one year when we were staying with them. The beautiful crystal formations that would form on their old windows upstairs and my Grandma’s stories of “Jack Frost”.  Sigh…I could go on and on. All I have to do is close my eyes and think about it and I’m right there. What a blessing that is!

On top of all of those wonderful memories they provided me with, she always had yummy, soothing things to eat. How is that possible? No matter when I stopped by, even unannounced, she would fix me a plate or bowl of something delicious. It must be a little Grandma miracle or something because it was the same thing when we went to one of my friend’s Italian grandmother’s house unannounced. Manicotti and lasagna always available? A miracle, I’m telling you!

My heart aches when I hear people say they weren’t close to their Grandparents. I cannot even imagine my life without mine. I hope someday I have the opportunity to be even half the blessing my Grandparents were to me, to my own grandchildren. If you’re able…have you hugged your Grandparents today?

“Grandma’s” Potato Soup

8 Medium Yukon Gold Potatoes, cubed

5 Medium Stalks of Celery, cut down the middle and sliced

1 Medium to Large Walla Walla Sweet Onion, diced

1 Whole Package of All Natural Bacon, diced (easier done when partially frozen)

3 Cloves of Garlic, diced

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter

A Pinch of Dried Parsley

2 32oz Containers of GF Chicken Broth

2 Cups Almond Milk (or your choice, I like almond milk because it’s thick like whole milk)

Sea Salt & Pepper To Taste

Slice the celery and dice the onion, garlic, and bacon. Cube the potatoes.

In a medium-large Dutch oven, saute the bacon until it is golden and somewhat crisp. Be patient, it’s a lot of bacon and it will take a while. You want it to ever so lightly caramelize the bottom of the pan for a lot of flavor later. If you cook it to quickly, it will burn.

Remove the cooked bacon with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel and set aside.

Remove all of the little bits from the pan leaving about a tablespoon and a half of bacon grease.

Next, saute the onions and celery until the onion is translucent. Then add the garlic and saute for a few more minutes.

Add the butter and drained bacon and stir.

Add the potatoes and stir.

Cover the potatoes with both boxes of chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a low boil until potatoes are tender.

Once the potatoes are tender enough to eat, add the two cups of almond milk and the pinch of dried parsley. Bring to a boil again and season with sea salt and pepper.

Serve and enjoy!

Vegan Walnut Pesto

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What do you do when you have a ton of basil because you keep buying it thinking that you’re out but you actually already have three packages in your fridge? You make pesto, of course! I don’t “do” cheese as you know, and I didn’t have pine nuts so I improvised and used walnuts instead of the pine nuts and left the cheese out altogether. It’s wonderful even without the cheese and really, you can make pesto with any nut you like.

Fill your food processor up with fresh basil

Add about 1 Tablespoon chopped garlic

Add about a handful of walnuts

Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon into the mix

Pulse until thoroughly combined.

Turn food processor on and slowly drizzle olive oil in until it comes to a somewhat smooth consistency.

Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

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.

Super Simple Enchilada Casserole

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I love Mexican food. I love authentic Mexican food, kinda sorta Mexican food, trashy street Mexican food, you name it, I’ll probably eat it. However, Mexican food is not always friendly food to those of us who have to eat gluten and dairy-free. Especially the traditional gooey, cheesy, yummy saucy things that I like to order. This gluten-free and dairy-free enchilada casserole (I’m sure someone’s Mexican grandma is rolling in her grave right about now) is simple and delicious and even my gluten and dairy loving husband likes it.

Super Simple Enchilada Casserole

Pre-heat oven to 375°

1 Package Corn Tortillas (check the ingredients, sometimes they have additives)

1 1/2 Cans Rosarita Enchilada Sauce (It’s gluten-free)

1 1/2 Cans Rosarita Low Fat Refried Black Beans

1 Package Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds

1 lb. Ground Beef

1 Yellow Onion, diced

1 Red Jalapeno Pepper, diced with seeds and membrane

Open re-fried beans and set aside. Place the enchilada sauce in a small sauce pan and heat until warm. Place the hamburger, onion, and jalapeno in a large skillet and cook until meat is done, drain oil if necessary.

Spray a 9×11 baking dish lightly with non-stick spray and layer four tortillas on the bottom.

Pour a ladle of sauce over the tortillas.

Add about 1/2 can of the beans and spread them out a little bit.

Add about 1/3 of the meat mixture.

Sprinkle with a little cheese and then do the process all over again until you run out of ingredients. I think I did three layers with about a cup of sauce left over. You don’t want it too juicy. The picture below is after the third layer before going into the oven. The third layer gets a more generous helping of cheese.

Bake in a pre-heated oven until bubbly, about 3o-35 minutes or so. Top with green onions and tomatoes before serving.

Chicken & Veggie Flat Bread

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This flat bread is gluten-free and dairy-free. Super easy and very versatile. I’ve made it numerous times with different types of ingredients for dinner, lunch, parties, you name it. The flat bread can be made ahead of time which makes assembling the other ingredients and cooking it a breeze if you’re hosting a party.

1 Bag Chebe Focaccia Mix

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 Eggs

5 Tablespoons Almond Milk

About 1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano

About 1 Tablespoon Dried Basil

About 1 Tablespoon Dried Garlic

(Your favorite veggies and meats, dairy-free cheeses, olive oil.)

Place all of the above ingredients in a medium bowl.

Stir with a fork until mixture starts to come together.

Remove the fork and knead with one hand until dough is completely incorporated and formed into a smooth ball.

Measure a piece of parchment to fit a baking sheet and cut.

Remove parchment from pan, sprinkle with a little gluten-free flour (I used almond flour) and pat dough out into a small circle.

Flour rolling pin and roll dough out thinly, to about the size of the parchment.

Prick with a fork and brush with about 1 Tablespoon of chopped garlic and several Tablespoons of olive oil.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 16-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

At this point you can cover it and set it aside to build later, or you can go ahead and start adding ingredients. This time I added spinach, peppers, mushrooms, chicken, tomatoes, drizzled it with more olive oil and sprinkled Daiya mozzarella style “cheese” all over it, then put it back in the oven and baked it until the cheese was melted. Or as melted as dairy-free cheese ever gets. In the past I’ve used goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato sauce…there are many different ways you can do it. Just use the basic guidelines and add your favorite ingredients and you really can’t go wrong.

Guacamole for Two

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This recipe is a tweaked version of Christina Ferrare’s guacamole. When I make it for two, I use two avocados, when I make it for a crowd, I use at least eight. I love the addition of chopped, sun-dried tomatoes. It makes a healthy snack or a great lunch, maybe served with side salad for two.

Guacamole for Two

2 Ripe Avocados

1/2 Jalapeno with seeds and membrane intact, diced

2 Tbs. Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped

2 Tbs. Red Onion, finely chopped

2-3 Sun-Dried Tomatoes, chopped

1 Lime

Sea Salt & Pepper

Chop the jalapeno, cilantro, onion, and tomatoes. Cut the lime into quarters. Place the avocado flesh in a bowl.

Mash the avocado with a fork until almost smooth. I like mine a little chunky. Add the jalapeno, onion, cilantro, and sun-dried tomatoes, stir. Squeeze all four quarters of lime into mixture and stir. Season with sea salt and pepper. Serve with corn chips, vegetables, or anything you like.