Archives for November 2012

Tis’ the Season!

Happy Wednesday y’all!
Well, this week seems like it is flying by. So much so that I have had very little time to bake and cook 🙁 The majority of my time is better served studying, which is no good for my eyes, or for my stomach :/
Oh, and Thanksgiving leftovers have been demolished. Boo! Yesterday I needed something sweet, surprise, surprise, so I whipped up a simple cake. Yes, I know, I know…is there really such a thing as a “simple” cake. I can assure you there is. I am the queen of slapping things together. Especially when it involves my sweet tooth.
Tis the season for cranberries. 

We are going to cover these cranberries with a cake batter made of nutty ground pecans that give this cake 
an unbelievably moist characteristic. 

Yep, yep. 

This is an upside down cake. 

There is room for error…no biggie. 

Fixed my sweet tooth right up 🙂

Can you tell?

Me neither. 
Upside Down Cranberry Pecan Cake (GF):
For the cake:
2 1/2 c. pecan flour (or nut flour of your choosing)
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 t. ground clove
1 t. ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c. agave nectar (or honey)
For the cranberry layer:
16 oz. fresh cranberries
1 T. freshly grated orange zest
1 T. fresh orange juice
2 T. granulated sugar 
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-in round cake pan with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients until evenly distributed.
3. Mix in the eggs, evoo, and agave until smooth.
4. In a separate mixing bowl, toss together the cranberries, orange zest, orange juice, and sugar until evenly coated.
5. Place the cranberries in an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. 
6. Pour the cake batter over the cranberries and smooth out the top using a spatula.
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until slightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. 
8. Let the cake cool completely before turning out onto a cake plate.
9. Slice and serve with a dollop of fresh Greek yogurt and a drizzle of agave nectar.
Makes 10-12 slices.


Happy Monday y’all!
Are y’all sick of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and pie? Good…me neither 🙂
Seriously, I have made my crust less pumpkin pie about 4 times now and have been eating it for breakfast…sooooooo good!
Yesterday, I spent some time with my extended Italian family at my grandma’s for breakfast. I didn’t even make it to the dessert because I filled up on eggs and biscuits. However, I did get a chance to take home a piece of my grandmother’s carrot cake. Holy carrot cake batman! It was sooooo moist and chock full of carrots with cream cheese frosting…just how I like it! 
Anyway, I would like to say that around the holidays I put more emphasis on making desserts rather than the main meal. I think it might have something to do with my sweet tooth. Maybe. This Thanksgiving i wanted to put my own spin on a pecan tart. So, boom!
The Sticky Date Chocolate Pecan Tart was born.
This pecan pie is made with an all pecan crust. Like seriously, I made my own pecan flour and combined it with some other good stuff…like agave nectar
and coconut oil. 

The filling is a mixture of pureed dates and chopped pecans. It is the perfect amount of sweetness. 

Not overbearing at all.

Then comes the topping. 
 Cocoa powder is disguised as chocolate after being mixed with melted coconut oil and agave.

Seriously…it is the 
You can totally fool your guests!

Trust me…they will never know it’s not real chocolate. 

This stuff went pretty quick so I have to photog the last piece!

I am definitely making this again for Christmas. 

Sticky Date Chocolate Pecan Tart (GF/V):
For the crust:
2 c. pecan flour (grind raw, whole pecans in a food processor until they reach a powdery type flour consistency)
1/4 t. sea salt
1/2 c. agave nectar (or honey)
1/2 c. melted coconut oil
For the filling:
10 Medjool dates, pitted and soaked in 1/2 c. warm water
seeds of 1 whole vanilla bean
2 T. melted coconut oil
1/8 t. sea salt
3/4 c. chopped, toasted, unsalted pecans
For the topping:
1/2 c. agave nectar
1/4 c. melted coconut oil
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
whole, toasted pecans for topping
For the crust:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-in round tart pan (with a removable bottom) with coconut oil.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pecan flour, sea salt, agave, and coconut oil until the mixture resembles a crumbly meal.
3. Press the crust mixture firmly into the prepared tart pan. Prick the crust with the tines of a fork. 
4. Refrigerate the crust for at least 20 minutes before baking.
5. Bake for 15-16 minutes or until slightly golden.
6. Let the crust cool completely. 
For the filling:
1. In the bowl of a food processor, puree the soaked dates, the date water, vanilla bean, coconut oil, and sea salt until smooth and creamy. 
2. Fold in the chopped pecans. 
3. Pour the mixture evenly into the cooled crust. Place the tart in the refrigerator while you prepare the topping.
For the topping:
1. In the bowl of a food processor, blend together the agave and coconut oil until smooth. 
2. Add in the cocoa powder and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
3. Pour the topping over the date filling. Decorate the tart by lightly pressing whole pecans along the edges of the tart. 
4. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
5. Slice and serve. 
Makes 8-9 slices.

My Life According To…

Happy Sunday y’all!
It has been such a thankful week. 
When I sit back and really analyze this beautiful life I have, I really thank God, especially for all the Thanksgiving leftovers because I know that some people are less fortunate. 
I’m truly blessed.
Early in the week my Mom and I took my grandma out for a belated birthday brunch at Mimi’s Cafe.
Mimosa’s all around!

Finally got some quality food mag time 
sooooooo excited to make these authentic Italian rainbow cookies for xmas!

Poor baby got the arthritis
she’s getting old. 

Thanksgiving grocery haul with mom the day before.

I owned this Thanksgiving

and oh mah gawwwwwd this poblano cornbread stuffing 
is heaven sent.

I’ve seriously been eating this pie for breakfast every morning. 
True Life: I eat pie for breakfast.

My dad seriously makes Thanksgiving look easy.
2 Turkeys  whaaaaaaat?

This was only plate 1 of the Thanksgiving smorgasbord.

No holiday is complete without this. 

Celiac Central.

Happy Friday y’all!
I am off to drive myself into the ground work Black Friday at my fragrance gig at Macy’s. Hopefully you can hear the tone in my voice to realize just how thrilled I am. Whoo-hoo! 😉 Anyway, a few months back I was contacted by a woman who, as someone in the health care field, was interested in providing some online content for my readers. So, I jumped at the opportunity for her to provide you beautiful people with more information about Celiac Disease. As you know, my younger seester has been a celiac for quite a while and even though we have worked together to get her diet where it needs to be, she still suffers daily from celiac disease. It’s as though no matter what she puts in her mouth, she most often ends up with a stomach ache. Some people seem to be really misinformed about the disease, considering it a minor thing, when really, it’s pretty MAJOR! Trust me, I have seen it first hand. So, here is some post-Thanksgiving Day reading for all of you who are most likely either enjoying your T-day leftovers or hitting the malls to do a bit of shopping. All that I ask is that you sit back, relax, and enjoy the holiday season. I still don’t understand (and probably never will), the commercialization that comes with the holiday season. I say: EAT.ENJOY.LOVE. Oh, and read this article 🙂

Creative Cooking With Celiac Disease
Although as many as one in a hundred of us in the United States have celiac disease, there’s still a lot of mystery and misconception amongst the general public about what you can eat on a gluten free diet. A look of shock often spreads across faces when they hear about some of the everyday foods that have to be avoided on a gluten free diet – “what, you can’t eat normal bread and pasta, and cakes and cookies are out too?” It’s true that at first the changeover to a gluten free diet can be tough, particularly for older children and adults who have been used to eating whatever they wanted for years and then have to start checking every label for the presence of gluten. However, what people often don’t appreciate is how many foods are naturally gluten free and that there are plenty of commercially produced gluten free alternatives to staple foods. Far from being restrictive, following a gluten free diet or living with someone who does can actually expand the range of foods you eat, encouraging you to be more creative in the kitchen. With any processed food potentially containing gluten – wheat flour is so often used as a thickener or as a carrier of flavor – it’s far easier to cook from scratch using gluten free ingredients. Really any dish can be made gluten free with a tweak here and there.
Exploring other grains
Gluten containing wheat, barley and rye might be out of the equation, so what can someone with celiac disease eat instead? A corn-based cereal for breakfast, a baked potato for lunch and rice with your evening meal might be the obvious choice, but anyone would soon get tired of the same old routine. Oats that have been certified gluten free are a great item to keep in your store cupboard. Not only can oats be used for porridge or as a base for muesli to which you add whatever fruit and nuts you fancy, but there are so many cookies and desserts that they can be used in. Sago and tapioca – something your grandmother may have fond memories of as a child – can also be used in place of breakfast cereal or to make milk puddings; they’re lovely flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger. There are also a whole host of other grains that you can use instead of rice with a meal. Quinoa is light and fluffy when cooked and has a mildly nutty flavour; you can serve it as part of a salad, with stews or add to soups. Buckwheat – despite its name, no relation of wheat – can be used as an alternative to oats for a hot morning cereal, can be added to dishes with a sauce to give some texture or can be mixed with meat, vegetables and seasonings of your choice; buckwheat noodles can also be purchased. Millet might be associated with budgie food, but it’s also a gluten free grain which can be used as a further alternative for porridge or added to stews. Amaranth, teff, sorghum… the list of alternative grains goes on. However, something else worth a mention is polenta. Derived from maize, polenta can be used to make cornbread, but can also be a substitute for mashed potato, baked or served as polenta fries. Hopefully this has encouraged you that there is more to a gluten free diet than rice and potatoes!
Manufactured gluten free alternatives
Apart from the grains we’ve just mentioned, the shelves of our grocery stores are stocking more and more gluten free breads, pastas, pizza bases, crackers, biscuits and cakes. While you don’t need to buy these, it makes following a gluten free diet so much easier, as there will be days when you fancy some toast or a sandwich or some lasagne. As the gluten has been removed, the texture of these products isn’t quite the same as the standard versions, but with so many brands to choose from you’re sure to find some that you are happy with. If you can though, try to make your own gluten free sweet treats; it’s a lot of fun and actually healthier, as a lot of the readymade gluten free cookies and cakes are higher in fat and sugar. You don’t even need to limit yourself to shopping in store for your gluten free products, as there are now so many internet sites devoted to these online. However, remember to shop online safely; use secure websites, check the small print about extra charges for postage and use those traders with good feedback either from reviews or people you know who have already used them.

A kitchen essential
Sometimes people wonder how you make sauces without wheat flour and the fact that many gravy granules aren’t gluten free. It’s easy, as corn flour is an excellent substitute. You can make a basic white sauce with corn flour and milk, which can be used for pasta dishes, for cauliflower cheese and even sweetened or flavored to serve with sweet dishes. Corn flour can also be used to thicken the meat juices; just skim off any fat to make it a healthier option.
If you enjoy spicy foods, you might like to try this recipe for a gluten free curry; whether they have celiac disease or not, you can guarantee that everyone will want to tuck in. The cauliflower and potato soak up the spices well, producing a really flavorsome dish.

Aloo Gobi (serves 4)
1 lb potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 chilli, finely chopped
1 lb cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground turmeric
Fresh coriander to garnish
1. Parboil the potatoes for 10 minutes; drain and put to one side.
2. Heat the oil in a frying pan, fry the cumin seeds for 2 minutes or until they start to splutter; add the chilli, frying for another minute.
3. Add the cauliflower, stir-frying for 5 minutes.
4. Add the potatoes and ground spices, cooking for around 10 minutes or until the vegetables become tender.
5. Garnish with the coriander and either eat as it comes or serve with a salad and a small portion of rice.


5 Things I am Thankful For:
1. God
2. Family
3. Turkey
4. Stretchy Pants
5. Did I mention stretchy pants? 🙂
Right now I am jamming to some old-school Mariah Carey (Cannon?) and baking off my side dishes.
If you are looking for some fantastic last minute dishes, this is what is on my table:
1. Poblano Cornbread Stuffing by Love and Lemons
Let’s just say I was eating this raw…oops!
No freaking words…wait…coconut milk, creamy, made it gluten free and vegan!
3. Italian Green Beans (secret recipe)
4. Chocolate Pecan Pie (recipe soon) 🙂
5. Two turkeys: one smoked, one baked.