9.12.2014

Luscious Chocolate Cake {Can't Believe It's Gluten Free}

Four yeas ago today, I sat in this very living room and started on a journey, I took out a little piece of the internet and starting pouring my love in to it. I started this blog because I had some spare time and a passion for food and photography. Today, I have that same passion but very little of that time, however I come here as often as I can and I am overwhelmed by the love and support I receive with every recipe posted. It seems impossible that four years have passed, in the blink of an eye, here we are. It's been a crazy four years and I wouldn't change a minute of it! Recently, I have started a new journey, and unknowingly you are all going through it with me! I've committed to a gluten-free lifestyle, what started a few weeks ago as an experiment is coming to reality as a life change. I'm not going to preach about why I've chosen to eliminate gluten or try and convince you to join me in my effort, I'm just going to say I used to feel icky a lot and now, I feel a lot less icky. This is a big change for me, and it may not be forever, maybe gluten won't always hate me but right now it does so I am shunning it. 

However, I am not shunning delicious food, or chocolate, or this amazing cake. I knew if I was going to make it on this adventure, I would need cake. And cake I found. This was the first gluten free dessert I have made (intentionally anyway), and I was pretty nervous about the flavor and the texture and the everything.. but seriously, you wouldn't even know it doesn't have gluten in it. My husband didn't, and that boy knows cake. You would most definitely never know this cake has quinoa in it (say whaaaa?!). It is so dense, moist, and perfectly chocolate, the only thing you're going to be thinking is "can I have another piece?".  So celebrate four years with me, because after all this is your space too, thanks for sharing it with me!


Luscious Chocolate Cake {Can't Believe It's Gluten Free}

Ingredients:
Cake:
2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa (**see note below)
1/3 cup milk
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Frosting:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup cocoa powder
~3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

For the cake, preheat the oven to 350º F. Lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.
Place the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor and mix until combined. Add the cooked quinoa and the butter. Blend well until smooth.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the contents from the blender and whisk until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake on a rack in the middle position for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before inverting the cakes onto cooling racks and removing the parchment paper stuck to the bottoms. 

While cooling, make the frosting. Melt the butter and stir in cocoa. Alternately, add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.

When the cake is completely cooled, place one layer upside down on a serving platter or plate. Top with a generous portion of frosting, spreading evenly. Gently put the other cake layer upside down on top of the frosted layer and spread with remaining frosting. Slice and enjoy!

**Note: You'll need a little over 1/2 cup of dry quinoa for 2 cups cooked. Make sure to measure the quinoa for the cake recipe AFTER it is cooked and cooled. Also, make sure to cook the quinoa in water not broth.

**Update: This cake also freezes great! I sliced it and froze the individual pieces, when you want one simply sit it out at room temperature for around an hour and voila! 

Source: Cake from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, icing from Hershey's

9.07.2014

Golden Saffron Rice

I've never been a huge rice eater, but since giving this gluten free living a shot, I am incorporating it a little into my side dishes. I've had some saffron sitting around for a while so when I saw this recipe I immediately pinned it; I finally got the chance to make it when I made this Thai Bail Beef for the umpteenth time, and it was a great accompaniment. It's easy to make and it's a nice light flavor change to keep things interesting. So shake things up and enjoy!


Golden Saffron Rice  (Print Me)

Ingredients:
2 cups unseasoned hot cooked long-grain white rice simmered in water
1 tablespoon hot water
1/8 teaspoon saffron threads
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


Directions:

Start with hot cooked rice simmered in water. Combine 1 tablespoon hot water and saffron threads, and let stand 5 minutes; stir into rice. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine rice mixture, onion mixture, and kosher salt.

Source: My Recipes

9.01.2014

Thai Basil Beef {GF, Paleo}

So lets talk about this for a second, this is a paleo recipe, however I do not claim to be "paleo" by any far stretch. I mean, if you know anything about nutrition you know not eating processed foods is a good idea, so I am on board with that, however I am not giving up all my carbs. I am more interested in avoiding gluten right now, just as a trial for myself to see how or if I feel differently eliminating it from my diet, and paleo helps with that since all the gluten is already gone. However, I am still eating some "forbidden" paleo foods like dairy, leguemes and rice. 

At any rate, my friend Hannah introduced me to this cookbook and we LOVE it; everything we have tried out of it over the last few months has been awesome, you wouldn't even know it was "paleo". This is one of my favorite recipes from the cookbook, it was one of the first that we tried and it made me a believer that paleo food could be flavorful and exciting. The whole point of this being, don't disregard this or another recipe because it is labeled "paleo", if you want to eat it with a potato, boom, not paleo! Now that we have that out of the way, go try this super awesome recipe for the pure fact it's yummy and healthy! Enjoy!

Thai Basil Beef {Paleo}
  (Print Me)

Ingredients:Meat & Marinade:
1 pound flank steak
2 teaspoons soy sauce 
(or coconut aminos to keep it paleo)
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)

Stir-Fry:1/2 cup water
1/2 pound green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 1/2 Tablespoons fish sauce
1 Tablespoon soy sauce / coconut aminos
1 Tablespoon lime juice


1/2 Tablespoon coconut oil (or oil of your choice)
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 small serrano chile, seeds removed, thinly sliced
4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 cup fresh basil leaves

Directions:
Place flank steak in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to make it easier to slice. Slice very thinly, against the grain to make 1/4-inch strips. Place the steak in a medium mixing bowl and add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and garlic. Toss to combine, then cover and refrigerate for about 10 minutes or up to 1 hour. 

In a small bowl, mix the fish sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice. Set aside. 

Place water in a large, non-stick skillet, and bring to a boil. Add the green beans and steam until just tender, about 4-5 minutes. Drain the beans, discarding any remaining water, and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Set aside. 

Reheat the pan over medium-high heat and add oil, allow it to melt, about 1 minute. Brown the meat without crowding the pan; work in batches, if necessary. As the meat cooks, remove it to a bowl to catch its juices. In the same pan, stir-fry the bell pepper, scallions, serrano, and garlic until the peppers are just tender, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved beef, green beans, and sauce, tossing until heated through. Remove from heat, add basil leaves, and toss until the leaves are wilted. Serve immediately.

Source:  Well Fed 2

7.21.2014

Jalapeño Watermelon Margaritas

June is always a fun month for us, not only is it my favorite season, but my husband and I are both June-babies so we generally throw a combined birthday extravaganza. Last year deployment left us spending our birthdays apart, so I knew this year we had to do it right. The theme (because yes we love a good theme party, mustache bash anyone?) was easy because we have been talking about having a fiesta themed party for years. Now, I've never been big on tequila, but when the sombrero fits.. 


I checked out one of my favorite blogs because I have seen their awesome margarita recipes and knew I would need some guidance from a pro. I finally whittled it down to classic, strawberry, and this jalapeño watermelon. Great life decisions were being made people. With some elbow grease and some help from my husband we squeezed an ungodly amount of limes, and it was worth it. I will note here that the other recipes were also amazing, and the classic margarita was the best classic I have ever had. 


Just so you can see how it went down, I set up a "choose your own adventure: style bar, with the watermelon margs we had the mix next to shots of varying heats. We soaked the jalapeños in the tequila for different lengths of time so people could choose how spicy they wanted it. I will say most of out friends are pretty bold and enjoyed the spicier tequilas. I found the most popular was the tequila that had the jalapeño in it for about 5 hours, it's really just a matter of taste. These were a huge hit with us, hopefully they will be for you too!


Jalapeño Watermelon Margaritas  (Print Me)
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:
For the jalapeño tequila:
6 oz silver tequila
1 fresh jalapeño, sliced

For the margarita:
1 cup homemade margarita mix
2 generous cups chilled watermelon cubes (seeds removed if not seedless)
4 oz orange liqueur (or orange juice)
6 oz jalapeño tequila
Salt, for rimming

Directions:
Place the tequila and jalapeño slices in a jar and let sit in the fridge for at least one hour (Shawnda warns not to leave longer than overnight, I'd trust her).

Place the watermelon cubes in a blender and process for ~1 minute until smooth. Pour through a strainer and discard the solids - you should have 1 cup of juice.

In a small pitcher, mix the watermelon juice with the homemade margarita mix and orange liqueur. Add the tequila and reserve the jalapeño slices, stirring to mix well.

Fill salt-rimmed glasses with ice and serve, garnishing each margarita with a tequila-soaked slice of jalapeño if you choose. Enjoy!

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

5.12.2014

Key Lime Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting

Summer is almost here, can you feel it?! I can feel it all the way down to my bones and it makes me so happy! I am on a short break from school until summer classes start so I have been spending quite a bit of time on the beach and in my kitchen which are two of my favorite places. Last week a good friend came out from the midwest to visit my sister and I and it just so happened to be her birthday, and one of her favorite things is key lime pie so I started the hunt. I've made key lime pie before, but I think everyone needs cake on their birthday so I knew it was the direction I wanted to go, and I am so glad I did! 

Now when it comes to any type of cake or pie, I am a chocolate over citrus/fruit person all day. Furthermore, I'd take dark chocolate over white every time, so you wouldn't expect this to be my kind of dessert... but man, these are awesome! The white chocolate icing is insanely good, it's not too sweet and it's a perfect complement to the lime cake. And the cake, it's on point. It's just dense enough without being heavy, and it's not overwhelmingly limey which I was worried about. These were perfect, they were just what I hoped they would be and they were the quintessential summer dessert, and that's a pretty bold review from this dark chocolate lover.



Key Lime Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting  (Print Me)

Yield: 18 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
¾ cups butter (softened)
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
4 Tablespoons key lime zest
3 eggs
¼ cup key lime juice
3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ cup buttermilk

Frosting:
⅔ cup good quality white chocolate, chopped
⅓ cup whipping cream
½ cup butter (softened)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ½ cups powdered sugar

Directions:

Cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350º F. Line muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, and lime zest until light and fluffy. Add eggs and lime juice and mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Add ⅓ of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mix well, then add ½ the buttermilk and mix well. Continue to add in alternating portions until all buttermilk and flour is added and just combined.

Spoon prepared pans, filling until almost full (they won't rise too much). Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool 10 minutes in muffin pans before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting:
Combine white chocolate and whipping cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 second intervals, stirring to combine in between. You will need to repeat this 3-4 times, or until the cream-chocolate mixture is completely combined and smooth. Allow to cool completely.


 In a medium bowl, beat together cream-chocolate mixture with butter and vanilla until completely mixed. Add powdered sugar slowly, until frosting is light and fluffy. Frost cupcakes when they are completely cooled.

Source: Sweet Peas & Saffron

4.24.2014

Eggplant Parmesan Quinoa Casserole

So, I have a little secret, I've been making this super awesome super healthy casserole for a while and I haven't shared it. Ekkkk. However, I think all will be forgiven once you try this. Now, I'm a firm believer my meals should have meat in them, and I'm not even a huge eggplant eater but in this recipe between the eggplant and the mushrooms you will forget there isn't a traditional meat in it.

I'm going to tell you another secret now, I know there are all these fancy ways to "prep" an eggplant for cooking, but I don't do them. I don't peel them, I don't soak them in ice water, I don't salt them and let them strain. I wash them and cut them, and that's good enough for me. Now if that fancy eggplant stuff is your thing, then go on with your bad self, but I don't find it to be necessary. I'm going to sidebar that and say if you notice your eggplant's skin is particularly tough, give it a quick peel before you cook it, but I've never had that problem. Now go, enjoy!


Eggplant Parmesan Quinoa Casserole (Print Me)

Ingredients :

2 cups cooked quinoa (you’ll need about 1 cup uncooked quinoa)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 large eggplant (about 1 lb) cubed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jar tomato sauce (I use 1 25 oz jar Trader Joe’s Arrabiata Sauce)
~ 2 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
~ ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 ½ cups italian cheeses, grated (Trader Joes Quattro Formaggio is great)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C) and lightly grease 9x13 baking dish.

Heat olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and mushrooms then saute for 6 to 7 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add eggplant cubes and saute for an additional 10 minutes, stirring frequently, making sure that the eggplant doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

In the meantime, in another dry non-stick pan (or skillet) over medium-high heat, toast quinoa with red pepper flakes, black pepper and a pinch of salt for 2 minutes. Set aside.

Remove eggplant mixture from heat, add tomato sauce, quinoa and a handful of cheese, mix to combine. Salt to taste. Transfer to baking dish, top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until warmed through and cheese is bubbling (turn the broiler on and broil for 1 to 2 minutes to brown the top of the cheese if needed). Allow to sit a few minutes before serving.

Adapted from: The Iron You


** add other/more veggies if you prefer :)

3.22.2014

Super Easy Pad Thai

Fast, easy and delicious is what fits the bill these days. While I truly love pouring myself into an extravagant dish, these day, ain't nobody got time for that! That's why I was so excited (and hesitant) about this dish. I love some pad thai, but I only ever made it one other time and it took a bunch of crazy ingredients and way too much time and I assumed that's what it took to get an awesome pad thai. I was wrong. This recipe is ridiculously easy and even more tasty, I threw in some chicken I had already prepped by simply poaching it, and boom, dinner. Enjoy!


Super Easy Pad Thai  (Print Me)

Ingredients:
7 ounces pad Thai noodles (rice noodles)
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 eggs
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon fish sauce
1 Tablespoon sriracha
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons canola oil
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 heaping Tablespoon peanut butter, microwaved until just melted
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
1 cup cilantro
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
Optional: cooked meat of your choice

Directions:Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Remove from heat and add the noodles, let sit roughly 10 minutes, or until soft. Drain and rinse under cool water.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium. Crack the eggs and scramble until set, 2 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, fish sauce, sriracha, lime juice, canola oil, brown sugar, and peanut butter whisking until combined.

Back in the large skillet, combine the noodles, Thai dressing, bean sprouts, scrambled eggs, cilantro, scallions and meet if using. Toss until combined and serve garnished with peanuts.

Source: Tablespoon via BevCooks