Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Apricot Crostata

I've been scouring the Internet for an "apricot crostate" recipe for some time. My local Italian restaurant used to serve one. It has since changed ownership so the dessert menu is different. I miss the apricot crostate. They only made it once a week; they claimed it was a lot of work for the pastry chef to make. Okay. It's a rustic tart with apricot jam and fruits. How hard can it be? Well. Considering there aren't a lot of recipes out there called apricot crostate, maybe it is hard? So widen my search. Crostata, tart, tartlet, pie. I find a few recipes but none like the one I had at the restaurant. I did find some good looking photos with recipes in Italian, but since I don't speak or read Italian I was a bit nervous to just translate the recipe into English using Google. But tell me doesn't this sound lovely: Crostata con Marmellata di Albicocche? File under "Dolce." Of course. Translated, it means Apricot Jam Tart. The Italian sounds so much fancier. Anyway, search and search. I combined parts of a lot of different recipes to settle on this recipe. My daughter announced, "Mom. This is the best thing you've ever made." Okay then. I hope your response is that strong.

Apricot Crostata
1-1/2 c. flour plus extra for rolling
1/2 c. cornmeal
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
9 T. butter* at room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
14 oz. apricot jam
1 large nectarine sliced thin 

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder. 

In a stand mixer beat together butter and sugar. Mix in egg and egg yolk. Add flour mixture. Blend until smooth. 

Separate dough into 1/3 and 2/3 balls. Wrap in plastic and chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour the bottom and sides of your springform pan**. Take the 2/3 ball and using flour, roll out to a circle a little bigger than your pan. Lift into the pan and press in place and up the sides a bit. If the dough breaks, don't worry, just press it back together. Cover the crust with the apricot jam. Arrange the sliced nectarines on the top. For a lattice, roll out the 1/3 ball of dough, cut into strips and arrange on the top of the nectarines as best you can. This crust is a little crumbly and hard to handle but it's forgiving and tastes great. Don't worry too much about how it looks, it's supposed to be rustic. Bake until just golden, about 25-30 minutes. Enjoy with ice cream for dessert or coffee for breakfast.

*Dairy-free: substitute Smart Balance Butter Spread for butter.
**Pan: I use an 11" springform pan. I avoid the nonstick kind because they get too hot and over-brown your crust. No one likes over-brown crust. No one. So this is the one I use. Hand wash and dry well or it will get rusty. Take care of it and it will make awesome baked things for a really long time.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Dairy-Free Zucchini Cardamom Bundt Cake

My heartfelt thanks to Laura at Blogging Over Thyme for sharing this recipe. Her blog is so great and her recipes and photos are drool-worthy. As you may know, I like to share any successes I have with modifying recipes for dairy-free diets. My husband has to avoid dairy but still likes to enjoy a rich, buttery dessert now and then without paying the physical price of eating dairy and milk protein. This cake would be perfect on its own but with butter and ricotta it was not an option for me to bake as written for my family. I have had great success substituting Smart Balance Buttery Spread for butter (it bakes just like butter) and Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream in place of many thick dairy products (sour cream, yogurt, buttermilk). This cake was another dairy-free success thanks to my standby subs. If you are on a dairy-free diet for whatever reason, give this a try and let me know what you think. Again, my thanks to Laura at Blogging Over Thyme for the original recipe which I cannot take credit for. I served the cake at a dinner with extended family and they gobbled it up. No one seemed to notice or care that it was made with tofu sour cream. It was that good.

Dairy-Free Zucchini Cardamom Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze
Adapted directly from Blogging Over Thyme Zucchini Cardamom Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze

Yield: 1 (10-Inch) Bundt Cake
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes
Cooling Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes

2 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1 cup Smart Balance Butter Spread (dairy free), softened
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (I used 3 lemons)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I used juice from above mentioned 3 lemons)
6 large whole eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream
1 cup coarsely grated zucchini (roughly 1 medium/large zucchini), packed tightly
Lemon Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon almond milk
1/4 tsp of ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and lightly flour a 12-cup bundt pan; chill in the refrigerator. Set aside. (This step is important so that your cake releases from the lovely bundt pan.-M.)
Using a box grater, grate the zucchini. Place the grated zucchini in a clean kitchen towel (that you don't particularly care about or a thick paper towel), clump the ends, and squeeze out the moisture into your kitchen sink. Squeeze several times to remove any moisture. Place the grated zucchini in a bowl and set aside.  (I used a really big zucchini so I grated mostly the green skin part for nice color and avoided the seedy insides.-M.)
In a stand mixer bowl (fitted with a paddle attachment), combine the granulated sugar and lemon zest. Using your fingers, rub the sugar and lemon zest together until very fragrant. Add the softened butter spread, and beat mixture together at medium speed 4 to 5 minutes or until fluffy. Add 1/4 cup lemon juice; beat until blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until the yellow disappears.
Whisk together the flour, ground cardamom, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Add the flour in three additions alternately with two additions of Tofutti sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Fold in the grated zucchini.

Pour the batter into the prepared bundt cake pan. Bake 55 minutes to 1 hour or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (I had to bake about 10-15 minutes longer. All ovens are different! -M) Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 1 hour. Transfer cake to a plate, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

Whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, almond milk and ground cardamom until smooth. Drizzle glaze over cooled cake.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rainbow Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing

This summer I've been on a little hiatus from the blog while I figure out some diet and lifestyle changes. The biggest thing that needed change was my cooking and baking. I had to reinvent some of my methods and conquer my cravings. With the support of a health coach, I've been able to make some positive progress and feel much better and lighter (down 16 lbs. so far!) I started the health program in early June and for the summer have been trying all sorts of new foods and reinventing old ones. I've learned vegetables, a protein, and healthy fat are essential elements of a balanced meal. Less about the food group concept that I was raised on. I am learning so much. Throughout the program, this salad has been my go-to meal. I have to thank The Faux Martha for the dressing recipe which she modified from the Brown Eyed Baker. I modified it further to leave out the parmesan cheese, since my husband can't do the dairy. Plus I am adamant (rigid/OCD) about the type of vinegar, how much honey, and the variety of garlic. I want the dressing to come out the same every time because it's so darn good. Then just drizzle it on a big plate of greens with all the beautiful color of veggies, and your choice of a good protein. I seriously have to fight the urge to lick the plate. Seriously. You will never buy store bought dressing again.

Rainbow Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing 
(serves 1 a big meal or 2 for side dish)

Italian Dressing
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. red wine vinegar (Pompeii Pomegranate Red Wine Vinegar)
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 large clove garlic, or two small (I use Persian Star from my local farmer's market)
1 T. raw wildflower or orange blossom honey
1 tsp. fresh cracked pepper, more to taste if that's your thing

I put all the ingredients in my Ninja Bullet blender and puree the daylights out of it. I almost always double the recipe so it fits well in the Ninja travel cup. I transfer to a mason jar with a plastic screw top lid and rinse out the Ninja cup and blades so your next blueberry smoothie doesn't have a hint of garlic aroma to it. (Metal lids get funky when you have to shake the dressing prior to serving.)

3 cups mixed lettuce, baby romaine or herb mix from Earth Bound Organics
6 cherry or grape tomatoes
4 mini sweet peppers
1 mini cucumber, cut in chunks
2 T sunflower seeds
4 oz grilled chicken or 2 hard boiled eggs or both

Toss together and drizzle with dressing. Optional add crumbled feta.

Now. Excuse me while I wipe the drool off my chin and go eat this salad right now.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

All-Star Macaroni Salad

Summertime is a great time to try out some new salads. I love having cold salads on hand in the summer months. They are a great side for grilled food. You can make them in advance. (YAY!)  And the possibilities are endless. I often peruse the web for recipes and ideas. This is a combination of a few recipes, plus what I had on hand. I found some great tiny sweet peppers at the store the other day. I used some in a meatball recipe (which I will share soon!) and with the leftovers I've been putting them in all sorts of different dishes. They added nice color and crunch to this salad. With any pasta salad, it's important to add some crunch to balance the soft pasta. I hope you enjoy this one. 

All-Star Macaroni Salad
2 c. dry elbow macaroni, cooked, drained and cooled.
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 c. chopped onion (I use sweet onions in this)
2 small sweet orange peppers, seeded and chopped
1 c. green peas (frozen or fresh, just thaw or blanch in some boiling water)
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, chopped

1/2 c. real mayonnaise
2 tsp. prepared yellow mustard
2 T. sugar
1 T.  cider vinegar
3 T. sour cream (or Tofutti Better than Sour Cream)
salt and white pepper to taste

Add macaroni to a large bowl. Stir in the vegetables. Combine all dressing ingredients and pour over macaroni mixture. Stir to coat. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Curried Chickpeas and Cauliflower

I have had a lot of red bell pepper on hand lately so I've been finding new ways to use them. I also happened to have a beautiful head of cauliflower on hand too so I found a curry recipe that I could make work. The original recipe called for the canned coconut milk, but I've been using the So Delicious cartons of coconut milk in our smoothies. It's so much lighter and has a nice flavor without overpowering things. I mixed up this curry in less than 20 minutes, start to finish. Same amount of time it takes to boil a pot of jasmine rice. Dinner.... SERVED!

Curried Chickpeas and Cauliflower 
2 Tbsp. light olive oil
1 head of cauliflower cut into florets
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
2 tsp. chopped fresh ginger
1 1/2 Tbsp. mild curry powder (I use Penzey's Sweet Curry)

1-1/2 cups carton-style coconut milk
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 can chickpeas, drained, rinsed in cold water, and drained again
1 cup frozen peas

Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the cauliflower, pepper, stir to coat and cook 3 to 4 minutes covered. Add the garlic, ginger, curry powder,  stir and cook 1 minute. Reduce heat to low. Combine coconut milk and cornstarch, add to the skillet. Stir in stock, chickpeas and green peas, then bring to a simmer. Gently simmer until cauliflower is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serve with cooked jasmine rice.

Adapted from:

Friday, March 27, 2015

Broccoli Beef Stir Fry

I love Chinese takeout. If I was independently wealthy (and naturally slender) I'd order Chinese takeout at least twice a week... maybe more. Infinite possibilities: vegetarian, meats, rice, tofu, pasta, seafood, spicy, savory... you name it. So many of the things I love. But most of it I can't even try to make at home. This is one consolation. It turns out pretty good every time and it's just slightly different with each attempt... which is good. I'll share this with you and you can see what variations you can come up with. We like this simple one best and it's pretty foolproof.

Broccoli Beef Stir Fry
1 sirloin steak, sliced in thin strips
1 T olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 clove garlic minced
1 red pepper chopped
1 package mushrooms, rinsed and chopped
1 head of broccoli rinsed and cut into small florets
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp corn starch
1/4 c. water
In a large skillet over medium high heat, stir-fry beef in 1 tablespoon oil until beef reaches desired doneness; remove and keep warm. Saute on
  1. Stir-fry broccoli and onion in remaining oil for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Return beef to pan.
  3. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and remaining cornstarch and water until smooth; add to the pan.
  4. Cook and stir for 2 minutes.
  5. Serve over rice.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sausage, Kale and Cauliflower Soup

© Marcy Olson: Sausage, Kale and Cauliflower Soup
Well, the name suggests the three most prominent ingredients in this soup which might sound a little odd to put together. I was searching and searching for a new soup recipe and could find one. I didn't want tomato and I didn't have potato. That rules out a lot of recipes you find online. So I took the basics for Zuppa Toscana and modified it a bit to fit what I had on hand. It turned out really good and with a warm crusty bread, it made for a really nice meal on a day when the temps were below zero in Minnesota... which seems to be happening a lot lately. 

Sausage, Kale and Cauliflower Soup
1 lb. seasoned pork sausage (You could also use Italian sausage and remove the casings)
2 large carrots, peeled and shredded
1 small onion chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 c. celery chopped
6 c. chicken broth
1 c. chopped mushrooms (portobello or button mushrooms work great)
2 c. chopped cauliflower
2 c. chopped kale
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. flour and 1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk (or regularly milk)
1 can cannellini beans, drained

Saute sausage in a pot until browned. Remove sausage and set aside. Now saute onions, carrots and celery in the pot with sausage drippings until softened. Add garlic and give a stir. Add broth and deglaze the pan. Return sausage to the pot and add mushrooms, cauliflower, kale, and seasonings. Simmer until vegetables are soft. Combine flour and milk to make a paste, stir in to broth slowly to blend smoothly. Simmer a bit to thicken. Add beans and heat through. Serve with a warm crusty bread and a caesar salad. Enjoy!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Dairy-Free Jalapeño Popper Dip

Creamy dip made dairy-free? Not only possible, but amazing. And easy. If you follow my blog, you know I try to adapt recipes for my lactose-intolerant husband. I share my successes here. It's not easy being dairy-free, but it's possible to enjoy some great dairy based foods with some quality dairy substitutes. My husband can tolerate butter in small amounts, but I included margarine as a good substitute. Tofutti is my go-to dairy-free replacement. Though, I have had to experiment with proportions when making substitutions so the consistency is, well, creamy. This recipe was all over the Internet last week as people were preparing for the Super Bowl. It called for a full brick of cream cheese, lots of cheese. You can imagine the fat and calories in the regular version so I just had to try it dairy-free. (Let me tell you Super Bowl is a dairy-fest.) This dip was a great success for us and I think the Tofutti cream cheese/sour cream made it lighter and more 'eatable' than the regular cream cheese version. I hope you enjoy it too. 

Dairy-Free Jalapeño Popper Dip
1/2 container Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese, softened/room temp
1 container (8 oz.) Tofutti Better than Sour Cream
1/2 c. Hellman's Mayonnaise
1 can chopped green chilis
1 large jalapeño seeded and chopped (more if you like heat)
1/2 c. Veggie Shreds Cheddar Style shreds
3 T. butter or margarine, melted
1 c. panko crumbs
1 c. sliced jalapeño in the jar for garnishing and extra heat. 

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 8x8 glass baking dish. In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, mayo until it's a nice smooth consistency. Stir in the chopped green chilis, fresh jalapeno, and cheddar shreds. Spread evenly in the baking dish. Combine panko with melted butter and sprinkle on top of creamy mixture. Bake 15-20 minutes until panko are golden brown. Sprinkle jalapeño slides on top and serve hot with tortilla chips.