Posts tagged ‘Review’

Cheesy Lemon Thyme Millet Squares

I initially found this recipe on the back of an Arrowhead Mills puffed millet package I bought for my gingerbread marshmillets. Using the millet in a savory dish sounded interesting, and I was wondering how else I could use puffed milled beyond cereal and bird seed. The original recipe called for sharp cheddar cheese and wheat-based pastry flour, so I had to alter the recipe. Since I was making substitutions to the recipe anyway, I opted for a “chia egg” rather than the standard chicken variety and thyme rather than dill.

Cheesy Lemon Thyme Millet Squares-1

Honestly, replacing the sharp cheddar with cheddar-style shreds was a mistake. I have discovered I do not actually like Daiya’s cheddar; they taste is very strong and rather off. I do hope they change their recipe soon. The only recognizably cheddar-like property of these shreds is the color; otherwise, they taste like mildly cheesy peas. It was very hard to mask the pea flavor even after I added more spices. The only way I was able to mellow the flavor was to add sliced avocado on top; hummus or chicken salad might also work. I’m sure including real cheddar cheese would taste lovely. Maybe I will try Daiya’s Pepper Jack-Style Shreds in the future to improve my dairy-free version of the squares.

Cheesy Thyme Millet Squares
These can accompany entrees in lieu of bread or can be used as appetizers topped with various spreads, like hummus, tempenade, or bruschetta.

Yields 9 servings

Ingredients
1 C Daiya Cheese-Style Shreds
1 tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves
1 Pinch Fine Grain Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Fresh Minced Garlic
Dash Sweet California Paprika
1/4 tsp Smoked Spanish Paprika, more to taste
1/8 tsp Ground Mixed Peppercorns
3 T Earth Balance Spread, melted
1/2 C Fine Ground Buckwheat Flour
1 Chia Egg (1 T Ground Chia Seeds + 4-6 T Filtered Water)
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1 Lemon, juice of
2 C Puffed Millet Cereal
Topping (see description above), optional

Directions
Preheat oven to 375F. Grease an 8″ square baking dish.

In large mixing bowl, combine the cheese, thyme, seasonings, spread, flour and baking soda. Stir in the lemon juice. Fold in the millet. Bake for 25 or until the top starts to brown. Cut into squares. Decorate as desired. Serve warm.

Gingerbread-Spiced Marshmillet Treats

I was craving rice crispy treats for a while, as well as warm spice mixes, such as clove, cinnamon and ginger. Thankfully, the local overstock grocery store was selling leftover holiday marshmallows for cheap. The marshmallows smelled amazing through the bag and were in the shape of adorable little gingerbread people. I could not resist buying them; I bought vanilla snowmen marshmallows, too. (If you want to use other marshmallows, please read my gingerbread spice-infused butter.) The overstock store, however, did not have any puffed rice, so next I stopped at Sprouts to see how much their bulk puffed brown rice was. The price was more than I expected, so I looked around for other puffed cereal options. I cannot eat puffed wheat of any variety, so those grains were right out. I was rather curious about the bags of millet, which happened to be on sale, especially since I had never eaten it before.

Gingerbread Marshmillets 02

Puffed millet cereal

Puffed Millet

The texture of millet was surprising, but I thought this cereal would work well with my desire to make gooier treats by adding extra mallows. These are not crispy. At all. Puffed millet grains are much, much softer than puffed rice. I actually added one third more marshmallows than the original recipe called for. I also halved the amount of mixed in oil, but greased my hands repeatedly to cut down on the stickiness.

Gingerbread Marshmillets
Based on the Shamrock Rice Crispy Treats recipe as a guide.

Yields: 12 to 15 Servings

Ingredients
2 8-oz bags Kraft Jet-Puffed Gingerbread Men Mallows
2 T Earth Balance Spread, plus more for greasing
6 C Puffed Millet Cereal

Directions
Line a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with either baking parchment paper. Set aside.

Grease a large glass mixing bowl with buttery spread. Pour the cereal into a large measuring cup or clean dry bowl. Set aside.

Little gingerbread flavored marshmallow people

Coated Gingerbread Marshmallow People

Melt the spread and marshmallows in a large pan or medium pot over low heat, stirring constantly to prevent the sugar from burning to the bottom. Remove the melted mallows from the heat.

Gingerbread marshmallow people melted down into goo.

Melted Gingerbread Marshmallow People

Transfer the cereal into the greased bowl. Fold the melted marshmallows into the millet. I mixed the marshmallow and millet together with my hands. If you use this method, grease up your hands first with a bit of the butter or spread to prevent the marshmallow from sticking to you so much. My hands became sticky marshmillet treats themselves as I was mixing. As the mixture cools, it will harden and become more difficult to mix, so work fast.

Mix the millet into the melted mallows.

Mix the millet into the melted mallows.

Once thoroughly combined, quickly press the mixture into the pan, spreading evenly and flattening the surface. Use a knife to cut the marshmillets into bars.

Split Pea and Ham Soup

Split Pea and Ham

A bit ago my husband and I received Pea Soup Andersen’s dried split peas from the Saslows; the peas were packaged in a cute little cotton drawstring bag with the soup recipe printed on the back. What a wonderful winter gift! If you have not visited one of Pea Soup Andersen’s locations before, I highly recommend that you go. They have all sorts of tasty, tasty dishes beyond pea soup, ranging from sandwiches and salads to steak and chicken. I have visited both of the California restaurants, one in Santa Nella and the other in Buellton, while on roadtrips with family and friends. Each time I found it difficult to decide what I wanted to order (other than the famous soup, of course), since their menus are so big!

The split pea and ham soup provided several great satisfying meals; sometimes I even had a few small bowls as snacks on they days that the weather was particularly chilly. Making this soup also allowed the perfect opportunity to incorporate some of the leftover ham from my earlier post into yet another delicious dish. The meat and spices really added to the soup’s over all flavor, making it even more hearty.

Andersen's premium selected split peas

Andersen’s premium selected split peas

Split Pea and Ham Soup
Adapted from the Pea Soup Andersen’s “Soup-in-a-Bag” instructions.

Yields 12 Servings

Ingredients
3 C Dried Split Green Peas*
4 qt Filtered Water, divided
1 Large Stalk Celery, trimmed, coarsely chopped
1 Large Carrot, trimmed, Chopped
1 Large Sweet Yellow Onion, skinned, trimmed, chopped
2 – 3 T Minced Garlic Cloves
1 lb Ham, cubed
1 tsp Dried Thyme Leaves
2 Pinches Ground Cayenne Pepper
1 Large Bay Leaf
Sea Salt, to taste
Ground Mixed Peppercorns, to taste

Directions
Thoroughly rinse the peas under cool water in a fine mesh strainer. Pour into large stock pot. Cook at a rolling boil with two quarts water for 20 minutes or until peas are tender. Strain through fine mesh strainer.

Return peas to stock pot with two more quarts water. Add vegetables, herbs, ham. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 10 minutes or until ham is heated through and flavors are blended. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

*For a more colorful soup, you can use a mixture of split peas with half green and half yellow.

Red Velvet Beet Cake

This is attempt number two in efforts to create a more cake-like red velvet made with beets. The first attempt of making this cake was a failure that actually turned into tasty dark chocolate brownies. My adaption was a big success! The confection had a nice cake consistency and sweet flavor. The folks at my work greatly enjoyed it (despite that most of them are not accustomed to gluten-free or vegan specialty foods; some even asked for my recipe). Unlike the brownies, the cake batter has more fruit puree, no chocolate chunks, and less cacao powder and beet puree, so it is not as dense. I used the same frosting recipe as with the brownies.

Red Velvet Slice 01

Red Velvet Beet Cake
Adapted recipe from Jen Cafferty’s recipe on the Gluten-Free Food Examiner.

Yields 15 to 20 Servings

Ingredients
2 T Chia or Flax Seeds, course ground
6 T Warm Filtered Water
1 C Cacao Powder
1/2 C Unsweetened Apple Sauce
1 1/2 C Unsweetened Pureed Pears
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 – 1 1/2 C Evaporated Cane Juice or Turbinado Sugar
1 3/4 C Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
2 Medium Beets, scrubbed, trimmed
1 T Fresh Lemon Juice
2 oz Gel or Liquid Red Food Coloring
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
Red Sanding Sugar, optional*

Red Beets

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Scrub the beets clean with a vegetable cleaning brush under cool water. Trim off the end of the tail and the top. Foil-wrap beets and place on foil-lined baking sheet. Roast 45 minutes. Cool slightly on wire racks away from heat. Unwrap and quarter. Puree in food processor with lemon juice. Set aside.

Foil-Wrapped Beets

In a small bowl, beat chia or flax seeds and water with a fork until smooth to create “egg” substitute. Set aside for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent clumping.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour-dust a glass 9″ x 13″** baking dish. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix cacao, apple and pear sauces and vanilla. Set aside.

Into a medium bowl, sift flour, xanthan gum, 1 cup sugar, soda and salt. With an electric mixer, gradually add in cacao-apple mixture. Blend in “eggs,” beets, and food coloring. Beat until fully incorporated. Adjust batter to desired level of sweetness with remaining sugar, mixing in a quarter cup at a time.

Red Velvet Beet Cake

Bake for at least 30 minutes (mine took 70) or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool thoroughly on wire rack.

 

Frost and decorate as desired. If you are using frosting that was prepared ahead of time and chilled, let it soften at room temperature to prevent separation. Make sure to stir it well before applying it to the cake. Serve and enjoy!

Decorated Cake 01

*To include a colorful decoration without adding extra sugar, even out the cake with a long serrated knife, carefully slicing off the top and trimming the sides to make them flat and level. Crumb the cut-off potion in a food processor. Use the crumbs in lieu of sanding sugar to decorate the cake after frosting.

Red Velvet Slice 02

**If desired, bake the cake in two round cake pans. Use the frosting as the cake topping and filling.

Pudgy Pies

I first tried out cooking hand pies with this method several years ago while car camping with Adriann and a bunch of other friends. I tested out hers to make a very yummy snack and have wanted a set ever since, especially now that we have a fire pit on our back patio. Unfortunately, other than on Amazon or other online stores, pie irons are rather challenging to find. So when I saw them in one of our local overstock stores, I bought two right away as an early Valentine’s Day gift for my husband. Pie irons are fantastic usually long-handled cast iron hand-pie makers (like a waffle irons) for cooking over an open flame or camp fire. You can either use dough or slices of bread to make the piecrust, but keep in mind that thinner crusts will allow more room for fillings. They are easy to make in these irons and are an incredibly simple comfort food. The outside is nice and toasty, while the fillings are warm and gooey on the inside. Since you get to choose your own toppings, you can make the pies meaty, cheesy, vegan, gluten free, healthy, or however you like.

Pie Irons

To make a hand pies, put a slice oil or butter-side down (to prevent it from sticking to the iron) onto the bottom half of the iron. Place your fillings, like fruit preserves, chocolate, nut butter, meat, eggs, cheese, etc., in the center of the bottom bread slice; make sure you include an ingredient that acts as a binding agent, otherwise the pie will not stay together as well. Lay a second slice of bread over the top of the fillings with the oiled side up. Close the the iron, so the top bread slice covers the filling. Clamp the iron closed. Trim off any excess bread sticking out from the sides of the iron. Place the cast iron over the fire, holding onto the wooden (or otherwise insulated) handles. Bake the hand pie for about four to six minutes rotating occasionally.

There are all sorts of recipes you can try. Richard O’Russa wrote a great looking cookbook and you can find even more recipes from Rome’s online shop, which features more information about the devices. I am sure you can find other hand pie recipes for baking with pie irons elsewhere on the the internet, as well, like here. You can also check out Pudgy Revolution’s Pudgy Pie Test Kitchen You Tube series, and if you really like their recipe ideas, you can support their pudgie pie cookbook Kickstarter.

Chocolate Chip Beet Brownies and Cream Cheese Frosting

I really enjoy red velvet cake and buy a gluten-free vegan piece whenever I find it at a store, bakery or restaurant, so I decided to treat myself for my birthday when my folks came to celebrate with me. I made my adaption from a recipe I found at the Gluten-Free Food Examiner, which looked really intriguing, but I wanted to make a healthier version. I was a bit leery of the recipe’s large amount of beets and was unsure how potent the the red color or earthy root flavor would work in this cake compared to the small amount of chocolate. The cake batter of this first attempt ended up tasting too much like beets but had a great raspberry shade. The chocolate lacked flavor intensity, but the batter was at least sweet. It needed more chocolate, so I quadrupled the amount of cacao when doubling was not enough. Unfortunately, adding this much chocolate made the batter much thicker and a very dark shade of brown. As bright red coloring faded a significant amount as while baking, it came out not looking red at all, so left out the red dye in the recipe listed below. Although the the concoction was tasty to me, they were not to everyone’s liking, as some changes to the recipe resulted in rather an intense dark chocolate flavor. (I prefer my chocolate very dark and bitter, sometimes eating dried cacao beans or 89 percent to 100 percent dark chocolate bars.)

The vegan cream cheese frosting that I made is AMAZING! It tastes and feels like REAL cream cheese frosting! It is sweet, tart, light and fluffy. It’s not healthy enough to eat by the spoonful but provides a perfect accompaniment to red velvet, various spice cakes or really in any other recipe that calls for cream cheese frosting. The original recipe called for too much sugar, and the frosting made from it appeared too sweet for my brownies. I listed the reduced powdered sugar measurement (see the recipe below), which prevented the frosting from overpowering the brownies. Feel free to experiment with other dry sweeteners, but I’m not sure how the recipe will turn our if you do. I do not recommend using liquid sweeteners, as the powdered sugar seemed to absorb some of the oils in the cream cheese and prevented the frosting from becoming too greasy.

I used Daiya’s new non-dairy plain cream cheese, which already has an incredible taste and texture by itself; it even has that classic cheesy tartness that is usually so difficult to simulate without fermentation. I first stumbled upon their cream cheese when I was perusing their non-dairy cheese selection on the Daiya website. I thought to myself, “With all of the recent progress in the foodie world with gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan foods, someone has to have a created a not only decent but good dairy-free cream cheese by now. I wonder if Daiya has one yet….” Lo’ and behold (and luckily for me), they do! I really like their other non-dairy cheeses, so I thought I might as well try it. Why not?

Roast Beet Purée
Adapted from the roasting instructions for Jessica’s red velvet cake at Desserts with Benefits.

Ingredients
2 Large Beets, scrubbed, trimmed
1 1/2 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wrap the beats in aluminum foil. Place on a foil-lined lipped baking sheet due to a tendency for the beet juice to bubble over through the wrapping. Roast for an hour or until a fork easily pierces through the flesh. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Unwrap the beets. Be careful not to burn your hands. Quarter them before pureeing in a food processor or high-speed blender with the lemon juice.

Birthday Brownies

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Beet Brownies
Adapted recipe from Jen Cafferty’s recipe on the Gluten-Free Food Examiner.

Yields 15 to 20 Servings

Ingredients
3 T Chia or Flax Seeds, course ground
8 T Warm Filtered Water
2 C Cacao Powder
1 1/2 C Unsweetened Apple Sauce
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 – 2 C Evaporated Cane Juice or Turbinado Sugar
1 3/4 C Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 C Roast Beet Puree (see above)
20 oz Vegan Chocolate Chunks or Chips
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)
Red Sanding Sugar, optional

Directions
In a small bowl, beat chia or flax seeds and water with a fork until smooth to create “egg” substitute. Set aside for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent clumping.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour-dust a glass 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix cacao, apple sauce and vanilla. Set aside.

Into a medium bowl, sift flour, xanthan gum, 1 cup sugar, soda and salt. With an electric mixer, gradually add in cacao-apple mixture. Blend in “eggs” and beets. Stir until fully incorporated. Adjust batter to desired level of sweetness with remaining sugar, mixing in a quarter cup at a time. Fold in chocolate pieces.

Bake for at least 30 minutes (mine took 70) or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool thoroughly on wire rack. Frost and decorate as desired.* Serve and enjoy!

*If you do not want to frost the brownies, they would also taste great accompanied by vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Frosted Red Velvet Beet Cake

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
I adapted this cream cheese frosting made by Rachel Young of Gladly Gluten Free.
I doubled this recipe from the original, since I planned to make cakes for two different occasions.

Yields 40 to 48 Servings.

Ingredients
16 oz Daiya Plain Cream Cheese, softened
2 C Earth Balance Spread, softened
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
4 C Powdered Sugar, to taste

Directions
Combine the cream cheese and spread in a large bowl until fluffy.Thoroughly incorporate the vanilla. Sift the sugar to get rid of lumps, gradually adding four cups of sugar to the cream, using an electric mixer. Adjust the frosting to your level of desired sweetness by slowly adding up to another cup of sugar. Store leftover frosting in a large airtight container, like a glass canning jar, for up to a week; just make sure you let it soften it a bit before attempting to spread it on a cake.

Honey Cuisine Korean BBQ

Recently my husband and I decided to have dinner recently at Honey BBQ in Rohnert Park. It was so satisfyingly tasty. I am very glad they are now open on Sundays, especially since the many diners are Sonoma State University students and staff. My husband and I were both particularly craving hearty soup and sushi. We shared a delicious “Crazy Spicy,” which was a delectable sushi roll with tempura shrimp, spicy tuna, salmon, slices of unagi, tuna and snapper, albacore tuna and a drizzle of spicy chili sauce; the roll actually was not too spicy for our palates. Roll in total had roughly a medium heat level. My husband really enjoyed his beef udon soup (the broth was delicious), and I found my pork dolsot (claypot) bibimbop quite inspiring. I substituted out the brown rice with their organic wild rice, which went wonderfully with the seasoned pork, carrots, spinach, mushrooms, white onion, egg, soy beans and Napa cabbage; all of the ingredients provided a delightful combination of flavors and textures. I will definitely order that again! I think next time I will have to try the “Sexy Mango” sushi roll. I am a big fan of mango, so the roll sounds rather enticing with its tempura shrimp, avocado, cucumber, and more shrimp on top with the mango.

Image Credit

This is not the first time that I tried out Honey BBQ’s food. The last time my husband and I went was for lunch years ago, not long after the restaurant first opened. At that time, I ordered a few sushi rolls, while my hubby ordered the BBQ beef. The caterpillar roll was really good and looked extremely cute as it decorated to look like a cartoonish caterpillar (its appearance has since changed). I also had their fantasy roll, which was amazing with the crunchy garlic and tasty sauce on top. The BBQ beef dish came with rice and vegetables, too, I think; either way, my husband greatly enjoyed it.