Summer Rhubarb Bread

Summer. 

It deserves its own sentence. It’s sweet, delicious & exudes happiness. If this bread was in the dictionary, it would be listed under summer! Rhubarb is in its prime in Minnesota right now and I grabbed some at my local farmers market last weekend with this recipe in mind. 

Rhubarb transports me back to summers of my childhood when time stood still and the days were full of climbing trees, dirt biking and playing kick the can until the moon was out. My grandma had rhubarb and let us eat it raw – then cooked up delicious recipes that let this fantastic fruit boast its beauty. It’s almost as if rhubarb is a time machine for me, so you can imagine my delight when this recipe came out darn near perfect the first time. 

As many of you are aware, I’m always attempting to provide my family with the purest ingredients. This means trying to cut out refined sugar where I can. There is a place in my kitchen for sugar, but this made me think twice when using it, knowing I could utilize another ingredient (albeit still sugar!) that’s more natural.

In the place of the sugar, I substituted the same amount of 100% organic pure maple syrup. I used grade A medium amber as the darker you go, the more intense the maple flavor it delivers. I also love that this brand can be found at Target and boasts a non-GMO label.  Pure maple syrups boast a number of antioxidants as well and has about 1/6th less the amount of sugars – but again, this is still a source of sugar, and everything in moderation. 

Bake this with summer in mind, and enjoy any time of day. You won’t miss the refined sugars and it will make you reminiscent of your youth if you grew up anything like I did. 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) room temperature organic butter from grass fed cows
  • 1 cup Grade A organic maple syrup (I used Simply Balance brand)
  • 2 organic cage free eggs
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp organic whole milk
  • 1 cup organic, all natural (no sugar added) applesauce
  • 2 cups unbleached AP flour (I used King Arthur)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 bunch (approximately 4-5 long stalks) of fresh ripe rhubarb

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325. Butter and flour a loaf pan and set aside. 
  2. Clean rhubarb and divide in half. Dice half the stalks and halve and leave the remainder of the stalks to be the size of 6″ long to top the loaf.
  3. In a Kitchen-Aid mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and maple syrup for 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, then the milk, vanilla extract and applesauce. 
  4. Slowly mix in the flour, cinnamon and baking powder, then gently fold in the diced rhubarb. Pour into the greased pan, then top the bread with the length-wise rhubarb and gently press down the rhubarb into the top of the bread.
  5. Bake for 55-70 minutes, depending on the oven until a tester comes out clean from the center. Let cool and serve, or store for up to 4 days in an airtight container.

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Vegetable Lo Mein – Gluten Free

 I distinctly remember trying Lo Mein for the first time. It was from a takeout restaurant in my hometown in a tiny strip mall a few doors down from my mom’s business. It was everything you want Lo Mein to be:: greasy, garlicky, and loaded with flavors I’ll never forget. The place is still in business and quite frankly one of the better take out venues I’ve had for Chinese food. 

 Skip ahead a few {20} years and I’ve grown so much more cognitive of what I’m eating and what’s in our food – much more what I’m putting into my young beautiful girls’ bodies. By no means is it a perfect system; there are days where they have a box of organic macaroni and cheese (which is likely no better but eases my mom guilt ever so slightly…) but overall, I feel better knowing from where my food is coming and the quality of the ingredients. 

 Lo Mein is a complete comfort food for me – but this is a way I feel way less guilty indulging. And can we please talk about how ridiculously easy this dish is? Seriously folks, dinner will be on the table in less than 30 minutes! Feel good about it. You’re a super human juggling 30 things every day – dinner should be simple and fun. Not to mention delicious. Enjoy and tweak according to your preferences. Like it spicy? Sauté the jalapenos with the veggies. I have delicate palates in the house so I top my Lo Mein with the raw jalapenos at the end. Use vegetables that are seasonal and favorites. Add your favorite meat if you want to add some protein. The sky is the limit. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup grape seed oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1.5 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1.5 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1.5 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/2 cup of the pasta water reserved from cooking the noodles
  • 1 red pepper, yellow pepper and orange pepper thinly sliced
  • 3 large carrots peeled and sliced to match the size of the peppers
  • 10 green onions chopped into 2″ pieces
  • 2 jalapenos, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, plus more for garnish roughly chopped
  • 12 oz. brown rice noodles

Method:

  1. In a stockpot atop your cooktop, bring water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, wash and slice your vegetables.
  3. In a large sauté pan, add 2 tablespoons of grape seed oil and sauté the vegetables over medium heat until cooked and slightly crunchy.
  4. Boil the rice noodles 4-6 minutes and drain. During this process, add the oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and onion powder, garlic salt, minced garlic and 1/2 cup of the hot pasta water into a large measuring cup and stir to combine. 
  5. Turn the heat to low and add the drained noodles to the vegetable sauté pan. Pour the sauce over the noodles and vegetables. Add the chopped cilantro and gently toss together the ingredients. 
  6. Serve immediately and top with cilantro and jalapenos. Enjoy!

Maple Glazed Jalapeño Bacon

 We often joke in my family that it’s a prerequisite to love bacon. While we are only half serious, my family’s love for bacon is serious business. Bacon is love – there’s a reason Emeril’s saying “Pork Fat Rules” became popular! It’s an instant pick me up to any bad day and there isn’t a dish out there of which can’t be improved by a few strips of quality bacon.

On a Tuesday evening whilst the littles were enjoying the gorgeous spring weather outside, the beginnings of dinner was coming together in my kitchen. I decided to take BLT’s to another level, and I’m beyond crazy about the results. This bacon:: it’s more addicting than candy. It’s also insanely simple and utilizes items you’re bound to already have on hand in your kitchen.

Good food should be simple. Tailor this recipe per your liking heat wise. These are spicy! I’m a part of the some like it hot club. Omit the jalapeños to make them milder, or for a sweet bacon, simply use the maple syrup. Please use the real deal, though! None of the Aunt Jemima stuff. {sorry, Aunt Jemima: we are simply seeking some pure food, no offense!}

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb all natural thick cut Hickory smoked nitrate/nitrite free bacon
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, dark Amber 
  • 2 tbsp. red pepper flakes 
  • 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced 

 Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Lay out the bacon strips on a cooking sheet spaced so each piece doesn’t touch. Generously brush each piece of bacon with the maple syrup.
  2. Sprinkle with the red pepper flakes and place 2-3 slices of jalapeños atop each piece of bacon.
  3. Bake 20-30 minutes or until done per your liking. Eat alone or on a BLT.

Bon Apetit, friends!

Savory Tomato & Onion Galette 

This dish proves that good food doesn’t need to be complicated. Dinner time at our house often looks chaotic from an outsider’s perspective, so the last thing I need is complicated recipes to add to the chaos. We have an almost 4 year old running in one direction, an almost 1 year old crawling in another; meanwhile my husband and I are merely attempting to love on both of them while catching up over our day and put some quality and delicious food on the table.

With an onset of warmer weather, fresh produce is making its way into our local markets again. I love the idea and option to buy local ingredients, not only to support local, but it always seems to taste so much better.

A Galette is such a simple and beautiful way to highlight fresh produce – be it sweet or savory. I went savory this time to utilize some fresh tomatoes and onions we had on hand. I also had some fresh herbs that I knew would only add to the goodness, including sage and chives. These are definitely two of my favorite herbs, and such an easy way to infuse flavor into a dish without loading it down with sodium. Change up the vegetables per your liking! The joy of cooking is to make it personal.

This Galette bursts with flavor, and despite my husband’s skeptical look while I was assembling all the components, it provided me with a satisfactory look of “Yes, you were so right,” after his first bite.

 The recipe yields one 7-8″ galette, enough to serve 4 as either a hearty side dish or a lighter dinner.

Ingredients:

For the Galette:

  • 1 cup all purpose, unbleached flour (I used King Arthur)
  • 1 tsp. pink salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp. minced chives (fresh)
  • 2 tsp. minced sage leaves (fresh, not dried)
  • 6 tbsp. cold butter, cubed
  • Between 1/4-1/2 cup ice cold water

For the Filling:

  • 1 vine ripened tomato, sliced into 5 half inch slices
  • 1 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 4 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 6-8 yellow cherry tomatoes (optional), halved
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling atop the assembled gallette
  • 1/2 tsp. pink salt

Method:

  1. Measure out the water and add a few ice cubes to ensure the water remains cold. Mince the chives and sage and set aside.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the flour, salt, pepper, minced chives and sage. Stir to combine.
  3. Add the cubed, ice cold butter and combine with a fork or pastry knife until the butter is combined and smaller than pea sized balls.
  4. Add 1/4 the ice water (sans ice) and mix the dough with your hands until the dough just comes together. If it is too dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time until it comes together, but do not overmix!
  5. Wrap the ball of dough in a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Slice the onions and tomatoes.
  8. In a large pan, preheat the 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil on the cooktop and caramelize the onions (seasoned with the 1/2 tsp. salt) over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  9. Pull the dough out of the fridge (or freezer) and use your hands to pat down into an even round shape. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to form a 10″ circle. Gently transfer the dough onto the parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  10. Place the caramelized onions in the center of the gallette, leaving a 1.5-2″ perimeter of dough. Next, assemble the cheese atop the onions and the tomatoes atop the cheese, much like assembling a pizza.
  11. Finally, gently fold up the sides of the gallette over the tomatoes, pinching the creases together as you go until the gallette is completed.
  12. Drizzle very lightly with extra virgin olive oil and bake for 35-40 minutes.
  13. Remove and enjoy immediately.

Citrus Infusion Cocktail

 I recently picked up a large amount of Kumquats at the store and they were bursting with tartness and vibrance. It was almost like an entree to the spring, sunshine and the warmer weather we’ve finally been enjoying in a tiny little orange package. They pack a punch that’s so lovely and unexpected, and in my opinion, completely under utilized!
On a sunny afternoon over this past weekend, our oldest was playing outside, the youngest taking a late nap and I was prepping dinner. My husband asked me to make us a refreshing drink and enjoy each other’s company for a 5 minute mini date. These are the moments I cherish; those unexpected moments to connect and chat amidst the beautiful every day moments of Bubble Guppies and diaper changes.
I almost immediately grabbed the Kumquats and the idea formed of a refreshing, citrusy drink that almost tastes like summer. It’s perfect for a sunshine filled day – or any weather for that matter to sweeten a moment with a loved one
 This recipe yields enough for 2 drinks. Cheers to you, my friends! And a special cheers to the one my heart loves.
 Ingredients:
  • 1 cup kumquats, washed
  • The juice of 3 blood oranges
  • The juice of 1/2 lemon, plus a slice for each drink to garnish
  • A splash of sparkling water for each drink (optional – I used Lemon LaCroix)
  • 2 oz of your favorite vodka
Method: 
  1.  In a food processor or similar (I used a magic bullet), process the Kumquats until fully puréed. The purée will be pithy.
  2. Over a large measuring cup or small bowl, strain the purée through a fine sieve to extract the juices of the Kunquats. While you can eat the whole kumquat, it’s best for this drink to remove the pith and seeds by straining out the liquid. It provides a concentrated flavor without the grit in the drink.
  3. Into the same measuring cup or bowl, add the juice of the blood oranges and half lemon. Stir to combine. It makes a gorgeous red/orange color and smells like you’ve been sucker punched by a citrus grove.
  4. Fill two cups with ice and divide the vodka amongst the two. I used 8 oz low ball glasses filled with ice to the rim.
  5.  Pour the citrus mixture over the vodka, leaving a little room to splash sparkling water atop each drink. Stir and garnish with a lemon wedge. Cheers!

Bloody Mary

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 Occasionally, I enjoy a good Bloody Mary. A few spots in Minneapolis have really nailed my preference in flavor town.  A recent jaunt to Smack Shack with some good company (Find Laurie at Relishing It!) made me want to create a recipe of my own for those once in a while Bloody cravings.
 I found a juice at a local co-op that was free of anything unnatural or fillers, so that was my base. If time allowed, I would make my own vegetable juice – but that would require me to finally purchase that juicer I’ve had my eyes on for a while as well. So until then:: here is the ultimate simple, delicious and spicy mix for you. I like spicy – so in the future, I will add more habanero sauce. This is just a hint above “Minnesota Spicy” (that means it has a kick to it, but nothing that will offend the faint of heart.)
Enjoy friends, and thanks for stopping by!

Ingredients:

  •  32 oz bottle of Organic Very Veggie Juice (I used R.W. Knudsen, but find any blend you prefer.)
  • 8 oz. water
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. white pepper
  • 1.5 tsp. celery salt, plus more for the glass rims if you prefer
  • 1/2 tsp. cayennne pepper
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flake
  • 1 tbsp. Chile Habanero Hot Sauce (or your preferred hot sauce)

Method:

  1. Add all ingredients to a large pitcher and stir to combine.
  2. Let sit for 24 for the flavors to combine.
  3. Pour over vodka and enjoy at your leisure! The mix will keep for up to 2 weeks in your refrigerator. Cheers!

Dark Chocolate Brownies – Gluten Free

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Every now and again, this girl needs some chocolate. It’s like a warm blanket on a cold day; pair it with a cup of coffee…it’s almost as good as a beach vacation.

Both sides of our family has a few members who struggle with gluten, so I’m always looking for new ways to bring either a dessert or main course of which everyone can enjoy. Let’s face it: it’s not fun to stare at others stuffing their faces with food you wish you could eat. But I also think it’s worse yet to bite into an item that’s been made within your dietary restriction that tastes awful. Cardboard brownie anyone? But it’s gluten free…!

These brownies: they’re deep, dark and quite frankly I even found them a little sexy. Partly because they’re made with organic, million dollar butter. {okay it’s not a million dollars, but for a $10 price tag on a pound of butter, anything in which I use it better be coined as sexy!}

In lieu of flour, I ground up quick oats and was really happy with the result. The brownies weren’t gritty or tasteless- and you’d be hard-pressed to know they’re not made with flour. Bake these for your friends or family. Share them with your bright eyed toddler or grandparent over coffee. They’re pure love in a pan and the best moments in life are those sometimes shared together over brownies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of organic, grass fed butter, salted and at room temp (I used Kerry gold)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup instant oats, ground using a food processor or bullet
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 oz dark chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life brand)

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 and grease a 9×9 glass pan. Set aside.
  2. Measure out 1 1/3 cups of quick oats and process in your food processor or magic bullet until it resembles a fine powder.
  3. In your Kitchen-Aid mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, cocoa powder and sugar until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and blend until incorporated.
  5. Finally, add the oats and baking powder and chocolate chips and stir together until incorporated. Do not overmix.
  6. Spread the batter into the greased 9×9″ pan and bake for 35-45 minutes depending on your oven. Bake until a toothpick comes out of the center clean.
  7. Let cool, cut and enjoy!

 

 

 

Lasagna Soup

I have this sweet little 3 year old who has a zeal for life like no one else I’ve known. She’s passionate about everything {including her opinions}…except cheese. I can’t even begin to imagine life without cheese, and at times I find my cooking techniques to be somewhat creative to create a meal everyone will enjoy if a recipe calls for cheese. We even go as far as making her homemade pizza sans cheese. 

While I scratch my head a bit wondering how anyone could possibly not like cheese, I respect the difference in taste preferences. This meal is the perfect example of how I attempt to create something for everyone – but keep the option to maintain a standard ingredient the original recipe calls for. Lasagna without cheese:: epic fail…until now, anyway. 

Technically speaking this dish still can have the layer of ooey, gooey melted cheese sprinkled atop, and my husband and I certainly indulged in said way. But truthfully, the flavors in this soup leave little to be desired and can certainly be enjoyed on its own. Who doesn’t love a meal with options? It’s also quick and hearty; perfect for a winter weeknight meal.

Recipe yields approximately 4 servings. Serve with your favorite cheesy topping if desired. We used a combination of fresh mozzarella and parmesan because we aren’t ricotta fans – but the sky’s the limit. Go crazy.

 Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of ground Italian sausage or ground beef
  • large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 1/2 tsp black pepper (use the first 1/2 tsp to season the meat)
  • 2 1/2 tsp garlic salt (use the first 1/2 tsp to season the meat)
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (more if you like heat!)
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 26 oz box of diced tomatoes (I used Pomi brand)
  • 5 1/2 cups of organic chicken broth (I recommend Trader Joes brand!)
  • 1 cup organic beef broth
  • 7 oz elbow/macaroni noodles
  • optional fresh cheese for topping

Method:

  1. Finely dice the onion and sauté with the meat in a Dutch Oven until fully cooked. Add the tomato paste, minced garlic, red pepper flakes and 1/2 tsp each of garlic salt and pepper: sauté for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the tomatoes and sauté an additional 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken and beef broths, remaining 2 tsp. each of garlic salt and pepper, dried oregano, Italian seasoning and 2 bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, chiffonade your basil and set aside.
  5. Remove the bay leaves and turn the heat up to a low boil. Add the fresh basil and pasta and cook 7-10 additional minutes until the pasta is done per your liking. Serve hot and top with your favorite cheese if desired.

Baked Apple Fritters

 Apple fritters:: the one and only donut that truly trips my trigger. I love the spices, the fruit and the textures – and if I’m going to indulge in a donut, it’s going to be this one!
In my desire to keep knowledge of where my foods come from {from an ingredients standpoint} and minimize the surprises of additives, I wanted to try and create this favorite at home. I also wanted it to be a bit healthier (don’t panic! It’s still a delicious donut.} so I opted to bake rather than fry them. I was pretty pleased with the results, as were the other members of my sweet little family. The smell in the kitchen was worth the effort and everyone gave an enthusiastic thumbs up.
Make these for your favorite valentine or just to celebrate life. They pair perfectly with a hot cup of coffee {or a glass of milk for the littles.} Yields 15-18 donuts.


Directions:

  •  2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups organic whole milk
  • 1 1/2 apples, peeled and finely diced into pea sized pieces

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups powder sugar
  • 3 tbsp. organic whole milk

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Peel and cut the apples into pea sized pieces.
  2. In a large bowl, combine and stir the dry ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients and mix well. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry mixture until incorporated. Do not overmix! Fold in the apples. 
  4. Spray your donut pan with cooking spray and fill with batter.
  5. Bake 13-14 minutes, gently flip the donuts over and bake an additional 3 minutes to brown the other side.
  6. Mix the glaze and dip the donuts while warm. Allow them to cool and the glaze to harden on a wire rack. Enjoy!

 

Spiced Apple & Oat Bread

Autumn in Minnesota is an incredibly beautiful time of the year. The colors, the smells, the crisp air…it leaves me in awe every year. It’s also a fantastic time to utilize the fresh apples that are bursting with flavor. One of my favorites is the Honeycrisp variety and we typically go through a dozen a week in our house.

This recipe is bursting with flavor and mimics the vibrance autumn in Minnesota so vividly boasts. My kitchen smelled amazing as it cooked – as mentioned on Instagram, it smelled like autumn sucker punched me in the face {and I kinda liked it.} The smell of apples, spices and oats wafting through the kitchen and a cool evening breeze from open windows; what more could a girl ask for?

These would be fantastic muffins. In fact, these were meant to be muffins as I created the recipe, only to remember we packed up our muffin tins since we are moving in just 2 weeks. Packing 6 years of life, kids and memories in 3 weeks is a wonderful feat we are conquering with gusto…until a girl needs a kitchen item. Improvising has become a new norm, and in this case it worked out quite nicely. These are also dairy free for those who run in that crowd. Enjoy and happy Minnesota autumn, friends!

Ingredients:

For the Apples 

  • 2 Honeycrisp apples, peeled and diced into small cubes
  • 1.5 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

For the Bread

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup Almond milk
  • 1 tbsp. organic Maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 cup unbleached all purpose flour (I used King Arthur)
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1.5 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 Graham crackers – crushed well for topping
Method:
  1. Preheat Oven to 350. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. If making muffins, line muffin pan with liners.
  3. Peel and dice apples so the pieces are consistent in size. Add the sugar, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice and stir to coat the apples. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile in your Kitchen-Aid mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together wet ingredients well.
  5. Add dry ingredients until combined. Do not over mix. Stir in seasoned apples and transfer to your loaf pan.
  6. Crush the graham crackers and sprinkle atop the batter. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Let cool 15 minutes before removing from pan.

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