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Friday, March 27, 2009

Mom's Apple Crisp, Dark Chocolate Coconut Cookies

While I was letting the ice cream sit in the refrigerator yesterday, I knew I needed to make something to go with it. I dug around the house and pondered a bit what I had on hand that I could use to make something, as we were snowed it. I realized I had everything to make my mom's Apple Crisp recipe. I changed it up a bit, by using Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, and Spenda's version of Brown Sugar. It was wonderful!

Also, I just got my hands on the Agave Nectar Cookbook, as it came up on my queue at the library. WOW! (Thanks Sarah for telling me about it!:) This author is a woman after my own heart! All the recipes are using Agave Nectar instead of sugar, AND she uses Whole Wheat pastry flour! I was so thrilled. It seems like everything else I've found either has white flour, or fake sugar, and is just only half of the deal. She is the real deal. I want to meet this woman and shake her hand. Check it out if you can get your hands on one. I plan to buy it and use it for all my recipes in the future. Foodies... she has Apple Pie, Lemon Bars, cupcakes, muffins, coffee cakes, maragarita pie.....from all the simple things, to more interesting recipes like Whole Wheat Crepes, anf French Pear Frangipane Tarte. If you haven't discovered Agave Nectar yet, put on your shoes and hop in the car, and drive over to your local health food store. It's a revelation for anyone that wants to cut down on, or cut out refined sugar, but also doesn't feel comfortable with all the sugar substitutes out there. It does not raise your insulin levels when you consume it, so it's even safe for diabetics. What's it made out of? It's a clean, natural sugar. It's organic, Kosher, and plant-based. It's made from the agave plant (yes, the same one used to make Tequila). What does it look like? Honey. It comes in a container like honey, and you can get it light or dark colored. (see my picture above) I am thrilled to be able to support a local company that makes it right here in CO, called Madhava.

SO I for one, am going to be happy to have to stop experimenting with it, and have some actual recipes that I know will work. Not everything is easy for me though people, I still have to convert these to High Altitude! *sigh*. Now if someone would just make a High Altitude Agave Nectar Whole Wheat cookbook......

It's funny because the day before this book came in, I took an old chocolate chip cookie recipe, and just randomly tried it with Whole Wheat Pastry Flour and Agave Nectar, and it worked well. They were pretty fluffy, but yummy. I like my chocolate dark and bitter, and was not going for traditional choc chip cookie flavor, so they are really different. It evolved into sort of an original recipe as I ended up changing some other things too. I used 60 percent Ghiradelli choc chips, unsweetened coconut, and because I like it raw, raw cacao nibs! A very different taste, but the kids loved them. They said they'd be happy if I always made these instead.

Mom's Apple Crisp

1 cup sugar
3 TBSP cornstarch
2 cups water
1 cup oatmeal
2 cups flour (I recommend Whole Wheat Pastry)
3/4 cup brown sugar (I used Spenda's Brown Sugar sub. with no problems)
3/4 cup shortening/margerine
1/2 tsp salt
6-7 apples peeled and sliced (can use more, I did 8)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 X 13 inch pan. Set water to bowl on stove in a small saucepan.

In a seperate bowl, mix together sugar and cornstarch, and add to boiling water. Stir until thickens. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool. (can put in fridge)

In another bowl, mix together oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, shortening/margerine, and salt with a pastry blender. (can use two knives if you don't have one, criss crossing them to cut).

Put one half of crumbly mixture on the bottom of the pan. Put apples on top, and pour the thick liquid mixture over all of it. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Put the rest of the crumbly mixture on the top, and sprinkle with cinnamon again.

If it's filled with lots of apples, put foil underneath it in case it bubbles over. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. If you have leftovers, store in the refrigerator. Freezes well, if you want to double it and make one to throw in the freezer for later.

Top with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream from previous post, of course!! :)
For Those Who Like It recipe for
Dark Chocolate Coconut Cookies

1 stick of butter or margerine, softened
1/2 cup Agave Nectar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 heaping cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup 60 percent Ghiradelli's Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup finely grated unsweetened organic coconut
Optional: (aquired taste) 2 TBSP of Scharffen Berger Raw Cacao nibs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl beat butter, egg, and Agave Nectar until fluffy. Add vanilla, flour, salt and baking soda. Mix well. Stir in chocolate, coconut, and nibs. Spoon onto a buttered cookie sheet and bake about 11-12 minutes. (keep an eye on, at different altitudes)
yummy!! enjoy :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

If you have an ice cream maker, then you are on to something good. IF that is, you use it. Do you use it? If not, you should. At least once every two months or something, just so you don't forget what truly amazing freshly made ice cream tastes like. I find this is actually better for the waistline (just as I have forever been ruined to eat any other criossant or pastry than those that come from the French Bakery) because I don't eat ice cream hardly ever now. Even if we are out and people are eating it, oh I am strong. I am so strong. I do not eat it, because I KNOW it is inferior.

If you don't have an ice cream maker, just keep an eye out for one on Craigslist like I did. You can usually find someone cleaning out their cupboards, ready to part with one for about $35. Or, send an email out to all your friends, and see if anyone has one they got as a wedding gift X many years ago, and it's collecting dust. They might be happy to pass it on. Reduce Reuse Recycle! :)

I was blessed to get mine free on Craiglist, and I'm sure I posted about this amazing day earlier at some point. Someone tried to sell their $200 6 quart awesome wood ice cream maker at their garage sale with no takers, and gave it to me free afterwards. sweet!

I have found what has become my favorite Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream recipe. It's amazing. Truly, it's amazing. And not just because I like to read through the writer's directions and laugh my butt off. You have to appreciate someone who would quote Paradise Lost when beginning to blog about Ice Cream! Don't take my word for it, check it out for yourself. I'm hoping to make some this week with the kiddos, to celebrate the beginning of Spring.

Friday, March 20, 2009

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

I needed to bring something in to my son's school, for the teachers to munch on during conferences. I would normally make something more adult-like, (once I made Mocha Cupcakes) but I was babysitting this Tuesday, and it was BEAUTIFUL 70 degrees outside, and I didn't have the heart to turn the oven on! So I came across this recipe, and it was great fun with the kids. If your child has a peanut allergy, feel free to substitute a almond, cashew or other nut butter. I used organic ingredients for pretty much everything, except the vanilla, and used Ghiradelli cocoa.

No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
Yields about 30 cookies
recipe by Kathie Lee Joel for

2 c. sugar
8T (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1/2 c. milk
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1/2 c. peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
2 1/2 to 3 c. rolled oats

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, cocoa, milk, and vanilla. Bring to a slow boil, and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. (Give it a taste to make sure). Stir in the peanut butter. Remove from heat. Stir in 2 1/2 c oats. The mixture should be thick. Add the remaining 1/2 c oats is necessary.

2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drop the mixture by the heaping tablespoons onto the parchment. Allow the cookies to firm up at room temperature, about one hour. (My note: it took mine about 2 hours)

Enjoy! :)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Crab and Avocado Salad

I can't help it, I love seafood. All kinds of it. Even when I've gone hardcore about not eating meat, I haven't been able to give up seafood. Give me fish, crab, lobster, calamari, cavier, you name it...yum!

This week I must be craving it, as it will be on the menu twice this week. I made Shrimp Stir Fry tonight, and it was super yummy. I had it without any rice and it was still wonderful! I'm looking forward to this salad hopefully tomorrow. Just waiting for that avocado to ripen......

Crab and Avocado Salad
PREP TIME: 10 Minutes (always add 20 for toddler helpers:)
from the South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook

Book notes:
"This delectable multi-use recipe makes a great entree salad or an appetizer in half-sized portions. In later phases, it can be an hor d'oeuvre on whole-grain crackers or a sandwich or wrap filling. Serve it as is or with a simple mixed green salad. If crabmeat is unavailable, cold steamed shrimp is just as good."

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon chopped roasted red pepper(from a jar)
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound lump crabmeat
1 large ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine Cilantro, mayonnaise, red pepper, lime juice, and cayenne in a medium mixing bowl. Mix in crabmeat and season with salt and pepper. Gently fold in avocado and serve.

Makes 4 (scant 1-cup) servings

Nutrition, per serving:
230 cal, 14 g fat, 2 g sat fat, 22 g protein, 4 g carb, 3g dietary fiber, 670 mg sodium

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

February, where have you gone?

We have been in a happy, busy rhythm lately, which means I have been sticking to my list of favorite standby recipes (Black Lentils, Tuna Kabobs, Spaghetti and Vegan Meatballs) or just "wingin' in" during the weeknights. Mostly good comes out of this, and I'm actually trying to challenge myself to experiment a little more with just whatever is in the cupboard with the philosophy that surely this will make me a better cook in the long run. So far, no complaints. :)

Here is some white bean and Kale soup I made one night, and on the side I just tossed some Whole Wheat Linguini with organic chicken (except for me, none thanks) peas, mushrooms, and roasted red peppers. For a sauce I just simply used a whole lot of yummy pesto.

These were what we dipped into our fondue for our Valentine's Day traditional meal. I made the same Swiss cheese Gewurtztraminer fondue for the main course, and the Toblerone Dark Chocolate honey almond fondue for dessert that we always have. It was SO good!

When Dad was out of town, we made pizzas out of Whole Wheat pitas, pizza sauce, and toppings. I let the kids each make their own, and then we broiled them for 4-5 minutes.

I'm hoping to post some fun things in March. I just discovered Epicuriuous now have Weekly meal plans with shopping lists you can print out!! hurrah!