How to Make Cauliflower Fried Rice

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Dude… where have you been all my life? Because I feel very cheated to have had to wait nineteen years before making this amazing kitchen hack. Because it’s cauliflower… transformed into rice. Heck yeah, let’s do this!

Like me, you may have seen mentions of cauliflower rice or read enthusiastic testimonials to its awesomeness, and like me, you may have just ignored all the hype and figured it couldn’t be that great. If that’s the case, then, like me, you may have been very, very wrong.

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Let’s clear one thing up first: you do not need to be on the paleo diet to enjoy this dish. I don’t think I could live without sushi, so I’m not about to give up rice in my diet. Instead, this is just a super cool and crazy sneaky way to get more veggies in your belly. Because that’s always a win, right?

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For whatever weirdly bizarre reason, I avoided trying cauliflower rice in part because I thought it would be hard and/or complicated to make, and when I’m hungry, I want the distance and effort between me and delicious food to be as minimal as possible. Well boy was I wrong, because all this dish took was a few pulses in the food processor to turn the cauliflower into rice like pieces, and then a few minutes of sauteing on the stove to soften it and give it flavor. And that’s it.

Trust me, give this cauliflower rice a try… and then go eat a boatload of sushi. It’s balance, yo.

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How to Make Cauliflower Fried Rice

*This recipe doesn’t include amounts because basically the only ingredient is cauliflower, so use as much as you need*

Ingredients:

Cauliflower

Toasted sesame oil

Soy sauce

optional: sesame seeds

Directions:

Place cauliflower in the bowl of a food processor, then pulse in about 3 second intervals until the cauliflower has broken down and has a course, rice-like texture.

In a wok, frying pan, or skillet, heat up some sesame oil over medium heat. Add the cauliflower and fry over the heat for a few minutes, until softened. Add some soy sauce to taste (careful not to add too much!) and sesame seeds if using and continue to cook a few more minutes.

Serve with veggies, scrambled eggs, any other mix-ins, or just plain on its own!

 

 

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Black Bean Brownie Bites

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Sometimes I get crazy lady brain. My mind whirs and bends and flips and flops and generally doesn’t know which way’s up and which way’s down. It’s an affliction I seem to be experiencing a lot more often in these past few weeks. Part of the reason for this is that my brain seems to react to the onslaught of Bulgarian it’s experiencing with French. French! It turns my brain into a mumble jumble mush of incomprehensible tri-lingual sentences.

The other part I attribute to the lack of chocolate. Because chocolate is definitely important for proper brain function, obviously.

You see, one thing that is really not ideal about Bulgaria is that there’s no chocolate. Of course, there are candy bars for sale and things like that, but as far as chocolatey desserts go… nada. And after meticulously hunting around the grocery store, I couldn’t find even a scrap of cocoa (although, considering the fact that I can’t understand any of the labels, it might have actually been there the whole time).

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So needless to say, I could totally go for one of these brownies right about now. Dark, chocolatey, and fudgy, they’re the perfect little bite sized treats for when a sweet craving hits.

We’ve been down this road before… black beans in brownies. It’s a thing. Get used to it. And the best part is that it takes a whir in the food processor, and you’re done. No melting chocolate or softening butter or tempering to be found. Just some in your face chocolate. Oh yeah.

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Black Bean Brownie Bites

adapted from Minimalist Baker

Makes 12 brownie bites

Ingredients:

1 flax egg (1 Tbsp. flax + 3 Tbsp. water)

1/2 of a 15.5 oz. can black beans, rinsed

1 Tbs. coconut oil

pinch of salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup cane sugar

3/4 tsp. baking powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 12 count mini-muffin pan. Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor until completely smooth, which should take a few minutes. Scrape down the sides as needed. Spoon batter into the muffin holes, then smooth the top with the back of a spoon or your finger.

Bake for 16-17 minutes, then let cool in the pan a few minutes before removing. They may seem undercooked at first, but they will firm up more in the pan.

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Cream Cheese Cookies + A Snack Attack

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I have eyes. I know that these aren’t the most attractive cookies. If brought to a party, they would probably be the last to go. But my goodness, if these aren’t the tastiest little things.

They’re slightly tangy from the cream cheese and greek yogurt, with the perfect amount of sweetness from the cane sugar. I highly recommend using cane or turbinado sugar, because it adds a whole other dimension and  depth of flavor than plain old refined white sugar does.

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Also… they’re super easy to make! No chilling or rolling required, and, although it  calls for it in the recipe, you really don’t need an electric mixer either if you’re handy with a whisk and have a few minutes. But what I like most about these cookies is that they’re unexpected. The flavor is totally different and surprising, and a cookie (or three or four) make for an excellent afternoon snack.

Speaking of… right before I left the country in June, I received a shipment from Yumvelope  to review (all thoughts and opinions are obviously my own…duh). The way the service works is you sign up, and once a month Yumvelope sends you a package of artisanal food products for snacking. It’s a great way to find awesome new products, and it makes for some very tasty eating. So what exactly was in my box?

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Lot’s of tasty goodies, that’s what! Here’s a quick rundown:

* A package of organically grown roasted and salted pistachios- Anyone who knows me knows that I love any and all nuts, but pistachios (especially when in the form of ice cream) are a personal fave. So I was super pumped  to tear open this package and was not disappointed. The fact that they were environmentally conscious was just another added bonus.

* Two Fig Bars (one lemon, one strawberry)-  They’re Fig Newtons, just healthier and fancier! And much tastier, too, in my humble opinion

An apple quinoa breakfast cookie- Yep, you read that right! A super healthy cookie you can eat for breakfast, this would also still work as a more virtuous tasty sweet treat. Plus it’s a great way to fool people into eating quinoa.

Some oatmeal raisin cookies cube things- Okay, yes, weird description, but it’s all I could think of. I’m not a huge oatmeal raisin fan, but my sister thought these were pretty darn tasty!

Fancy schmancy aloe vera juice- I really liked this stuff; it was fruity and flavorful, and there were little bits of aloe vera pulp still in it, which made things fun. (Sidenote: I had never heard  of this drink before, but then I found it in a random shop here in Bulgaria. It was as good as I had remembered!)

* Maple pecan granola- Ummm, yum. But seriously, how could you go wrong with a description like that?

Overall, I was pretty darn impressed with the array of offerings  provided by my Yumvelope box, and I got to try things I never would have found oherwise. Plus, it’s super fun to open up a box and discover which delicious things you get to eat this month!

With love and snacks from a house full of bread -Rossi

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Cream Cheese Cookies

Makes about 10 cookies

Ingredients:

4 Tablespoons cream cheese

3 Tablespoons fat free greek yogurt

5 Tablespoons cane sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a stand mixer or medium bowk, beat the cream cheese, greek yogurt, sugar, and salt until fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the flour until just combined. The dough should be somewhat sticky. Drop by tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes, until slightly browned.

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Simple Strawberry Jam

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First of all, before we get to the crazy simple and crazy good fruit jam, I just want to say that I am still in Bulgaria, living, working, and baking in the Bread House in Gabrovo. This place is incredible, and each day brings new challenges and new projects to work on. And bread. Lots and lots of bread. I might never leave ;)

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And now on to the darling of this post. This jam, my friends, has been deemed better than chocolate. By none other than my chocolate obsessed thirteen year old sister, in fact. If that isn’t indicative of how good this stuff is, then I don’t know what else to tell you.

Let’s talk about how this jam doesn’t require any pectin. Or canning for that matter, because I’m too terrified/lazy to bother with hot water baths and special temperatures and the chance that I might do it wrong and waste a boatload of strawberries to spoiling (But if you know how to can and want to do it here, by all means go for it. I have mad respect).

What this does require is some time at the stove. And wooden-spooned-stir every now and again. And that’s about it.

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For some reason, I love making jam at night, in a lit up kitchen, with a ball game on the tv and nothing but my thoughts and the heavenly scent of cooking fruit in the air. It’s a stir-and-think kind of situation. And the end result is strawberry jam. So there.

P.S. If the price of fresh strawberries at the grocery store has the chance of inducing  nightmares (or you know you’ll eat them all before it comes time to make jam), head for the frozen section. Once they’re all cooked and mashed, nobody will be able to tell the difference.

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Strawberry Jam

4 cups mashed strawberries, washed and hulled

1/4 cups turbinado sugar

a few pinches salt

zest of one lemon

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Directions:

Combine ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook until thick and jammy, about 40 minutes, maybe more, being sure to stir occasionally so that it doesn’t burn. Remove pan from heat. Let then jam cool, then transfer it to a can and keep in the refrigerator for up to a week (if you know how to can and would like to do so, you can do that here too).

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Strawberries and Cream Pavlova

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Pavlova has been on my “To Bake” list for a while. Not that there’s an actual list. More like a random collection of hastily notated goods that vary from my Pinterest page to a word document on my computer to a list on my phone to a page in my notebook with handwriting so bad I can barely even read it.

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To be honest I’m not sure if pavlova was actually on any of those lists, but it’s definitely been floating in the back of my mind since at least last summer. First of all, there’s the name. “Pav-lo-va” A collection of airy syllables that instantly sound exotic and that come from the name of a famous Australian ballerina. Like, what?!

Then there’s the fact that I will give any excuse to whip eggs whites into a creamy, dreamy cloud of meringue. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had access to electric beaters all last year at college, or maybe it’s because it blows my mind every single time how some egg whites, a pinch of cream of tartar, and a dose of sugar can transform into something so incredible. It’s like real life magic in the kitchen.

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Regardless of the attraction, I had some pretty high expectations for pavlova. Super high, in fact. And wouldn’t you know it, the real thing was even better than I could have imagined. Probably one of the best things to have come out of my kitchen.

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There are essentially three components of this dessert: crunchy, chewy meringue on the bottom, light and airy whipped cream in the middle, and sweet, juicy strawberries on top. When they’re all combine into one bite, it becomes the perfect blend of flavors and textures, the sweetness of the meringue calmed by the cool cream, the berries brightening everything up… it’s the quintessential summer dessert, light and airy and made for eating outside.

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Strawberries and Cream Pavlova

Makes about six individual meringues (more or less depending on how big you want your meringues to be)

For the meringue:

4 egg whites, at room temperature

1 cup cane or turbinado sugar, ground in food processor until fine

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon cream of tarter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the strawberry topping:

2 cups strawberries, washed, hulled, and quartered

1/4 cup water

1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch

pinch sea salt

1 Tablespoon cane sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the whipped cream:

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

scant 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup fat free plain greek yogurt

*Alternately, you can just use coconut whipped cream instead*

Directions:

First, make the meringues. Preheat oven to 200F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (this is important so that the meringue don’t stick). In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cornstarch until evenly combined. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium until thick, frothy, and white, a few minutes. Increase speed to high and gradually add the sugar and cornstarch mix, one spoonful at a time. Continue to beat until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla and cream of tarter, then continue to beat on high until stiff peaks have formed.

Spoon the meringue onto the parchment lined baking sheet into circles about 4 inches wide, making a slight depression in the center to hold the cream and strawberries (if you want to get fancy you can also pipe the circles, but I liked the rustic look). Bake for one hour, then turn off the oven, leave the oven door slightly open, and let cool until the meringues are completely firm and dry.

While the meringues are baking, start the strawberry topping. Combine strawberries, water, cornstarch, salt, sugar, and vanilla in a medium saucepan, and cook over medium heat until the strawberries start to break down and the mixture becomes thick, approximately ten minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Just before serving, make the whipped cream. In the chilled bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream until it begins the thicken, a few minutes. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar, and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Add the yogurt and whip a bit more, until thick and light.

To assemble, spoon some whipped cream into the depression of the meringues and top with a spoonful of strawberries; serve immediately. The different elements can be made ahead of time and put together just before serving.

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You Should Know About… Soaking Your Nuts

Welcome back to the “You Should Know About…” series, a collection of blog posts that will pop up every now and again that feature health and wellness tips we can all use to live the most wholesome life we can!

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Like my mama before me, I love nuts. Absolutely adore them. (Don’t worry, I’ll spare you the “nuts about nuts” puns…) And there’s a good reason too- packed with healthy fats, minerals, and key nutrients, these little wonders are good for heart health, weight loss, energy, and even cancer prevention. In fact, a recent Harvard study concluded that regular nut eaters are less likely to die of heart disease, cancer, or any other diseases. That’s a pretty great reason to snack up!

But what if I told you that you might not be reaping the full benefits of your nuts? This is because nuts and seeds both have natural enzyme inhibitors to prevent them from sprouting prematurely. Unfortunately, these inhibitors also make it much harder for us to digest them; indeed, some people even complain that eating too many nuts can upset their stomach.

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In order to break down these enzyme inhibitors and promote the activation of beneficial enzymes, it is necessary to soak your nuts in salty water (the salt is key for deactivating the enzyme inhibitors). Once this has been done, they are much easier to digest and their vitamins are more readily absorbed. Yay!

So here’s how to do it: dissolve some salt in water, then pour over a bowl of nuts until they are completely covered. Let soak for 7-8 hours, or overnight, then drain and dry thoroughly. It is important to dry them, or else they will get moldy. Alternately, you can just store them in the freezer, and then you won’t have to work about the mold. I’ve found that soaked almonds straight out of the freezer are heavenly, and I much prefer them to raw nuts.

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So be kind to your body and be sure to soak those nuts. It will help with digestion, and you’ll get to reap the full benefits of these wonders. Double bonus!

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Greetings from Gabrovo, Bulgaria! As you read this, I’ve probably just gotten settled into my new home for the next two months after about two and a half days worth of traveling. But hey, once I’m here, I’m here. Depending on time and/or internet access, I’ll try to keep you updated on some of the happenings here as I get started on my work. It should prove to be quite the adventure!

But forget bread and eastern European delicacies. Let’s discuss something much more hard-core American: peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.

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I don’t think I need to tell you how good peanut butter and chocolate are together… but I’m going to do it anyway. Because they are good together. They’re great together. And when you take the amazing-ness of a chocolate chip cookie and throw peanut butter in there too, you know it’s going to be a good time.

Peanut Butter Cookies

These are scarily easy to make. You don’t need a mixer, and you don’t need to chill the dough. Which means that the only thing standing between you and a pan of warm, melty cookies is a bit of stirring and seven minutes of oven time. And then it’s cookies galore.

It’s a classic treat and a classic flavor combo. And if the words “peanut butter and chocolate” alone don’t convince you, then you definitely need to make these cookies, so that you can realize what a sweet, sweet pairing it is.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes approximately 14 cookies

adapted slightly from CCK

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp white whole wheat flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

5 Tbsp turbinado sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

2 Tbsp applesauce

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and sugar. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, peanut butter, applesauce, and vanilla until completely combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir to form a thick dough. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Form dough into balls by the tablespoon and place on a prepared cookie sheet. They won’t really spread too much, so press down slightly with the back of a glass to form cookies. Bake for 7-8 minutes; they will look slightly underdone, but will firm up more as they cool. Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then enjoy.

 

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Banana Bread (New amd Improved)

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It is my firm belief that every baker needs an arsenal of go-to classic goodies, recipes that produce the perfect result every time and immediately feel comforting.

Apple pie is a must. Chocolate chip cookies, too. There’s always room for a classic yellow cake. And then there’s the banana bread. The epitome of comfort, there are thousands of recipes residing in kitchens around the world, each slightly different. This one, after undergoing a bit of a makeover, is mine.

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Banana bread recipes usually call for a whole stick of butter… and I have no idea why. The banana itself acts as a wonderful fat replacement by providing both moisture and flavor, and adding more mashed banana to make up for the missing butter and oil just means more banana flavor in your bread- it’s a total win!

The resulting loaf is soft, moist, and tender, and like I said before, it’s bursting with flavor. By adding an extra dash of cinnamon, we’re only upping the complexity in each slice so that you won’t be able to stop after just one.

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Like about fifty-percent of the goods that come out of my kitchen, this is divine with a little pat of butter and a drizzle of honey. And if you decide to toast it too? I simply can’t think of anything better.

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Banana Bread

Updated from this recipe

Makes one loaf

Ingredients:

2 cups white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cups almond milk

1/2 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 bananas)

1/3 cup honey

1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and grease a regular sized loaf pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt). In a measuring cup or small bowl, stir together the almond milk and vinegar, then set aside to curdle. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine the mashed bananas, honey, and vanilla. Add the milk mixture and stir to combine.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, then mix carefully until just combined, being careful not to over mix. Spoon into prepared loaf pan, then bake for 50-55 minutes, until the top is browned and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

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