Sunday, March 1, 2015

Blackberry Almond Muffins (Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free)

I'm a muffin baking machine these days!

This came about for a few reasons. For one thing, they're delicious. For another thing, I realized that I needed to up my fiber intake, yet I wasn't thrilled with the gluten-free products available at the store.

I've never been much of a baker in the past. It's always stressed me out a bit. But as I've been experimenting and trying out different ingredients, I've gained confidence.

Better yet, I reap the rewards of freshly baked muffins. One batch lasts for several days at least. I wake up, mix them together, and throw them in the oven. Bang out a quick yoga practice while they bake, and then feast on the deliciousness.

Along with my muffin smothered with Kerrygold pastured butter, I eat smoked salmon and greens sautéed with olive oil, Celtic sea salt, and turmeric. This is my breakfast almost every single morning. I love it.

Here are some geeky baking details:

For you gluten-free folks out there, my preferred all purpose flour blend comes from Pamela's. I always keep it stocked in my pantry. My other new obsession is this line of sprouted whole grain flours from To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co. Whole Foods started carrying them. The benefit of sprouted grain flours revolves around their digestibility and increased nutritional content.

I rotate my flour blend, using 1 cup of Pamela's and then one cup of a sprouted grain flour, choosing among sprouted corn flour, sprouted millet flour, and sprouted brown rice flour. This keeps variation in my diet and makes it more fun. I also rotate my muffin ingredients, choosing among different types of fruit (apples, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, etc.) and nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, help seeds, flax seeds, etc.). You can't go wrong—all the combinations are great!

Feel free to play around and try different ones!


Blackberry Almond Muffins (Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free)
Makes about 8 small muffins
Baking time: 25 minutes
Gluten-free; dairy-free

1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour (such as Pamela's brand)
1 cup sprouted brown rice flour or other whole grain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup olive oil or coconut oil (melted)
1 cup fresh blackberries
1/2 cup raw slivered almonds
raw turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl (flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder). In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients (egg, maple syrup, olive oil, almond milk, vanilla, apple cider vinegar). Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir until combined, but be careful not to over beat the mix. Fold in the blackberries and almonds.

3. Grease a muffin tin. Pour the mix into the muffin slots and sprinkle a little sugar on top, if desired. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with butter. Enjoy!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Pan-Seared Jumbo Scallops with Sweet Potato Mash

Do you know how easy it is to cook scallops?

Simply dusting them with salt and pepper and searing them up in a pan produces a fantastic result. They cook fast. Maybe a little butter to jazz them up. Some lemon.

That's all you need.

Why mess with something so good in the first place?

For this recipe, I did just that. They're served over a simple sweet potato mash. To make it, I back sweet potatoes in the oven. Then I allow them to cool and peel off the skins. Add butter, salt and a dash of cinnamon. Mash them with a fork. They're so tasty!

The sweet potato mash gives this dish a nice seasonal flare, don't you think?

Without further ado... here's the recipe. Enjoy!

Pan-Seared Scallops with Sweet Potato Mash
Serves 2 people
Cooking time: about one hour (including baking the sweet potatoes)
Gluten free

6 jumbo scallops
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
3 medium sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons butter (preferably pastured like Kerrygold brand)
1 lemon, halved
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of smoked paprika (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper
fresh chopped parsley (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

To make the sweet potato mash, poke holes in the sweet potatoes. Bake them in the oven on a lined baking sheet for 45 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Peel the skins off the potatoes and place in a bowl. Add the butter, cinnamon, and salt to taste. Mash with a fork.

Meanwhile, to cook the scallops, heat the grapeseed oil in a pan over high heat, until almost smoking. Rinse the scallops and pat them dry. Season with salt and pepper, and smoked paprika if desired. Gently add the scallops to the pan so that they're not touching. Sear them, turning once, for about 1 1/2 minutes per side. They should form a golden crust. Remove the scallops from the heat and finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

To plate, spoon some of the sweet potato mash on the bottom of the plate and top with three scallops per plate. Garnish with fresh parsley. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Fusilli Pasta with White Beans, Cherry Tomatoes & Wild Arugula (Gluten Free)

So... I made this for dinner last night.

And it turned out so fabulous!

It was one of those great moments where I was working with the dregs of my last grocery store run, combing through the cupboard. What can I make with this stuff? I always keep a quality gluten free pasta on hand for just such cooking emergencies. This is a new one I tried out last night and really loved—Bionaturae Organic Fusilli. It had the texture of "normal" pasta and held up well.

So that was a start. Then I sorted through the last of my veggies:

Organic heirloom cherry tomates
Organic yellow bell pepper
Organic wild arugula

That had the makings of a tasty pasta. I grabbed a can of organic white beans. I love throwing them into pasta because of their great, creamy texture. Plus, they add some protein to veggie meals. Other cupboard staples include garlic, chili flakes, extra virgin olive oil, white wine and parmesan reggiano.

The final ingredient?

Some fresh basil clipped from the plant on my porch, which miraculously hasn't died yet. There you have it. Now here's how I threw it all together to make this tasty little dish.

Fusilli Pasta with White Beans, Cherry Tomatoes & Wild Arugula (Gluten Free)
Serves 4 people
Cooking time: about 20 minutes
Vegan (if served without cheese); gluten free

1 bag of fusilli pasta (12 oz.), cooked per package instructions
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
pinch of chili flakes
1 yellow, red or orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups wild or baby arugula, tightly packed
1 can white beans (15 oz.), drained and rinsed with cool water
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (optional)
grated parmesan reggiano for garnishing (optional)

1. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and chili flakes, and stir for about a minute, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and bell pepper and continue to cook, until beginning to soften (about five minutes). Then add the arugula and cook for another minute or so, until beginning to wilt. Add the white beans, stirring to combine, and cook for another minute.

2. Add the white wine to the pan and simmer until reduced by half. Stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente. Toss the pasta with the vegetable and bean mixture, adding a little reserved pasta cooking water if needed to create a little sauce.

4. To serve, spoon the pasta into bowls and top with grated parmesan. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Curried Heirloom Carrot Soup

Still winter... though you wouldn't know it based on the SoCal weather!

Even so, I've been in winter comfort food mode. One of my favorite things to make this time of year is root vegetable dishes. I always keep carrots stored away. They're such handy ingredients in so many different dishes. Check out these beautiful organic heirloom carrots.

I whipped them up for lunch, turning them into a lovely little soup. This soup is vegan—instead of cream, I add a few peeled potatoes to give it a creaminess. Though I did serve it with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt (totally optional). Curry powder gives the soup an unexpected twist.

Did I mention this recipe is easy peasy?

And it's hearty enough to be the centerpiece to a meal. Keeps great in the fridge, and it's even better the next day, if I so say so myself. What else is there to say?

Curried Heirloom Carrot Soup
Serves 4 to 6 people
Cooking time: about 25 minutes
Vegan; gluten-free

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cups low sodium vegetable stock (plus more for desired thickness)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
about 1 tablespoon maple syrup (possibly more to taste depending on the sweetness of the carrots)
salt and freshly ground pepper
good olive oil for drizzling
creme fraiche or plain Greek yogurt for garnishing (optional)

1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute, stirring occasionally, until softened (about five minutes). Add the garlic and curry powder and saute for another minute, or until fragrant. Add the carrots, potatoes, and stock. Bring to a boil and then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about twenty minutes.

2. Remove from heat and puree the soup until smooth using an immersion blender, or transfer to a regular blender and puree in batches. Season to taste with maple syrup (for extra sweetness), salt, and pepper. Note: more stock may be added to achieve desired consistency.

3. To serve ladle the soup into bowels and drizzle with good olive oil. Top with a dollop of creme fraiche or plain Greek yogurt if desired. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Chickpea Quinoa Veggie Patties

Happy new year!

May we all have a fantastic 2015, filled with cooking and great food!

I've been meaning to share this recipe. It's an updated version of my Chickpea Quinoa Veggie Burgers. A little easier than the original. I can't stop making these suckers. They can be eaten by themselves, or foisted onto a bun and eaten like a veggie burger. They're chocked full of healthy ingredients, like kale and sweet potato.

They're also kind of "anything but the kitchen sink" recipe. You can substitute in any vegetables you want to play around with. In this recipe, I mention adding flax or hemp seeds, but I've also made them with pumpkin seeds. You can change it up however you like. If you want to make these vegan, leave out the egg. And I make them gluten free, but you can use any sort of all purpose flour.

Seriously, I love this recipe! They can be made ahead of time, and they're great leftover, especially for breakfast with a sunny side up egg. Enjoy!

Chickpea Quinoa Veggie Patties
Makes about 8 patties
Cooking time: about 30 minutes
Vegetarian (with easy vegan conversion); dairy-free


1/2 cup quinoa, prepared per package instructions
1 14 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 sweet potato, cooked and skin removed (this can be done quickly in the microwave)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup fresh kale
2 tablespoons flax, hemp and/or pumpkin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and freshly ground pepper
flour for dusting (I use gluten free all purpose flour)
grapeseed oil

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Add the kale, chickpeas, and kale to a food processor and pulse a few times until chopped. Place the veggie mixture in a mixing bowl with the sweet potato, quinoa, flax/hemp/pumpkin seeds, cumin, and egg. Season to with salt and freshly ground pepper. 

3. Mix together well (I use my hands). Shape the mixture into individual patties.

4. In a heavy-bottomed saute pan or cast iron skillet, heat two tablespoons of grapeseed oil over medium high heat. Working in batches and adding more oil as needed, drench the patties in flour and then fry up until nicely browned, turning once. Transfer the patties to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in the oven for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. 

5. Remove from the oven and serve with ketchup and/or hot sauce. Enjoy!

Advance Preparation: The patties can be shaped up to 3 days ahead of time and kept tightly wrapped in the refrigerator until you're ready to brown them. They can also be made in advance and then reheated in a low oven or on the stovetop.