July 29, 2014

Vanilla Bean Creme Brûlée

 disclosure: blog brûlée is being partially funded by the generosity of brands mentioned in this post. i was not compensated to write this post. all opinions expressed are my own.

 three plus years ago, when i started this little blog, i had no idea that i was opening a window wide to let the breeze blow into my life some experiences beyond my wildest dreams.

today i get to announce one of the bigger opportunities this space has allowed me.

i am planning, alongside three remarkably incredible women, a super exciting food blogger's conference that we will hold in september. 

blog brûlée will be an amazing weekend in the mountains of vermont, surrounded by like-minded registered dietitian and healthy food bloggers. we will be visiting vineyards, eating delicious food, and talking shop. and by shop i mean learning the ins and outs of blogging... photography, writing, community, brand promotion and so much more... from some of the very best.

speaking of some of the very best... three of them have graciously involved me in these plans. it has truly been a joy and a pleasure working together with these ladies. and the remarkable thing is i've only ever been in the physical presence of one of them! 

regan jones is the mastermind behind so much, including healthy aperture, the recipe redux and RDs for disclosure. we go way, way back to my days at oxmoor house, when she was a food editor and i was a test kitchen staff/food stylist. all young and green on the RD foodie scene... and we've interwoven our lives in the real and virtual world ever since. deanna seagrave-daly and robin plotkin are the two other no-lie brilliant ladies working their magic to make this thing happen. even though we've not ever met in person, i feel like we're old friends and can't wait for the event if not to just hang out with them! 

i'm thrilled to see all of the pieces falling into place... the speakers, the sponsors, the attendees, the activites. it truly is beyond my wildest dreams...

we are so grateful for the sponsors that have jumped on board with us. it is true that without them this wouldn't be happening. here are the generous folks who have joined us:

find out more: facebook  twitter  instagram  youtube pinterest

find out more: facebook twitter instagram  youtube     

Boyden Valley Winery Spirits Logo 2013 

find out more: website  facebook  pinterest   

find out more: facebook   twitter  instagram  pinterest  blog 

find out more: website  facebook  pinterest  youtube

stay tuned here for more reports on the big event... and be sure to follow #blogbrulee on twitter for updates and info too!

i couldn't very well share the news of blog brûlée without including a recipe for a brûlée! this one is dairy-free and delicious...

Vanilla Bean Creme Brûlée

3        tablespoons cornstarch
4        egg yolks
1/3     cup sugar
1/4     teaspoon salt
1        pint So Delicious french vanilla coconut milk coffee creamer
2        teaspoons vanilla paste*
extra sugar

 Combine cornstarch, egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan; stir with a wire whisk until well combined. Stir in coffee creamer with a wire whisk until well combined. Heat mixture over medium-high heat, stirring with a wire whisk until mixture simmers, thickens and glugs with bubbles.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla paste. Pour mixture through a fine sieve into a large measuring cup or bowl; discard any solids in the sieve. Pour strained mixture into ramekins. Chill for 4 hours or overnight. 

When ready to serve, sprinkle an even layer of sugar over surface of custard. Melt and slightly burn sugar with a kitchen torch or under a carefully watched broiler. Yield: 5-6 servings.

*If you have no vanilla paste, feel free to scrape the seeds from one vanilla bean into the mixture before cooking.

July 25, 2014

Deconstructed Vanilla Dark & Stormy

the recipe redux post on monday has me thinking a little boozy.

you know, i've never been much of an alcohol drinker. probably because beer always hurt my stomach back when my gluten issues weren't on my radar. my husband on the other hand could throw back the beers gaston-style (you know... beauty and the beast-roughly the size of a barge-gaston) in his gluten-drinking days.

i've never had "my" drink. the one you always order when you go out. that your husband or friends order for you in advance cause they know what you drink. 

...until i found the dark & stormy.

lime and ginger and rum. how could that not be someone's drink. 

i was reading garden & gun this month, my totally favorite magazine in the whole wide world. they were laying out A-Z the big food trends right now. "I" was infused ice. bars and restaurants across the south and across the nation as a whole are freezing all sorts of delicious things to add to drinks. i was inspired.

it makes sense... why dilute our delicious beverages with cold, melty water if you can cool them with flavor. 

so here is a dark & stormy, deconstructed. as the cubes melt on the hot afternoon, this beverage is simply infused with more fantastic lime, vanilla, and ginger flavor.

this. this can be "my" drink.

Deconstructed Vanilla Dark & Stormy

For ice cubes:
1/2       cup ginger beer
1/4       cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1          teaspoon vanilla paste or extract (paste adds delicious and lovely seeds!)

For each drink:
2          ginger beer ice cubes
3          tablespoons dark rum
1/2       cup ginger beer
lime slices to garnish

To make ice cubes:
Combine ginger beer, lime juice and vanilla paste in a small measuring cup. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze for 8 hours or until frozen.

To make each drink:
Add 2 ginger beer ice cubes to a small glass. Top with dark rum and additional ginger beer. Garnish with lime slices, if desired.

July 22, 2014

Chocolate Love Gelato

this month, those boozers over at the recipe redux challenged us to use some spirits in our recipes.

clearly, i've been on a dairy-free ice cream kick this summer. there've been the chocolate ice cream sandwiches (with a banana-based ice cream), the mango-orange julius coconut milk ice cream (with coconut milk base) and now this beauty.

with as much humility as i can muster in the midst of my excitement, i truly feel i have cracked the code of dairy-free ice cream. though i greatly enjoy the banana and coconut milk based ice creams, and even the store-bought rice/almond milk ice creams, i'm always slightly saddened by their iciness and rock-hard frozen states right out of the freezer.

so here's my discovery...
the coffee creamer has a nice creaminess to start, with just a tad of sweetness and vanilla flavor. the cornstarch allows this recipe to remain egg-free, and results in a smoothness similar to the sicilian gelato style. not to mention, no stressful tempering of egg yolks into scalding liquids. lastly, the little shot of vodka is almost more for protection against freezing too hard than for flavor, though that subtle layer of flavor is pretty nice. i imagine kahlua would be a delicious twist too, but i didn't have any on hand.

this is truly, honestly the very best dairy-free ice cream i've ever had.

if you are like me and dairy is no friend and you love ice cream, then you must. you must!

Chocolate Love Gelato

1        pint So Delicious french vanilla coconut milk coffee creamer, divided
7        ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/2     cup very hot coffee
3        tablespoons cornstarch
1/4     teaspoon salt
1        tablespoon vodka
1        teaspoon vanilla paste

Heat 1 1/2 cups coffee creamer in a medium saucepan until just simmering.

While creamer heats, stir together chocolate chips and hot coffee until chocolate is melted; set aside.

Stir together remaining 1/2 cup coffee creamer, cornstarch and salt with a wire whisk until smooth.

When coffee creamer in saucepan is just simmering, stir in cornstarch mixer. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring with a whisk until mixture thickens and is glugging with bubbles. Remove from heat and stir in melted chocolate mixture. Stir in vodka and vanilla.

Transfer to a bowl; allow to cool a bit, stirring to keep a film from forming on the top of the mixture. Place plastic wrap over the surface and chill for 8 hours or overnight.

Transfer chilled mixture (should be pudding-like) to the bowl of an ice cream maker. Churn according to manufacturer's instructions.

Transfer to an 8-inch metal loaf pan and freeze for at least 3 hours. Indulge and enjoy!
greatly adapted from this epicurious recipe.

to see the other contributers to this month's redux, click link below...

July 18, 2014

Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches

i mentioned in my star cake roll post a couple weeks ago that my oven was on the fritz.

well, it has graduated from "fritz" to "kaput". and unfortunately the beautiful old monster appliance that it is, it's not an easy repair. something about a hot wire relay... that is no longer available. ugh.

i searched and searched online to find the part, and outwit my repairman and all of his insider wholesale connections. just when it seemed i was totally out of luck and planning my first bank heist to replace the sucker, miracle of miracles, the rainbow unicorn of appliance parts popped up on ebay.

i bought it and it's on its way. cross your fingers with me that it works and that i wasn't taken for a ride to scam-town in even buying it.

in the meantime, here are the silver linings...  it's warm outside, so who wants to turn on the oven anyway!? ice cream doesn't require an oven! and here's a homemade ice cream sandwich that requires no oven at all!

all you need is a food processor or strong blender for both the "ice cream" and the cookie. they are both raw, gluten-free, dairy-free, and deliciously satisfying.

who needs an oven...?

(ps. oh, and i just got a new lens i'll be playing with...  woo hoo!)

Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches

For Cookies:
1       cup gluten-free rolled oats
1/3    cup cocoa
10     pitted dates
5       tablespoons cocoa butter
3       tablespoons water

For Ice Cream:
6       ounces chocolate chips
3       tablespoons hot coffee
3       frozen bananas, cut into pieces
1       teaspoon vanilla paste or extract

To make cookies:
Pulse oats in a food processor until a fine powder results. Add cocoa and dates; process until combined and powder-like. Add cocoa butter and water; pulse until a crumbly dough forms. Transfer mixture to a piece of parchment; knead a bit to combine with the warmth of your hands. Cover with another piece of parchment and roll to a 1/4-inch thickness. Place in fridge to chill. Clean out processor container.

To make ice cream:
Combine chocolate chips and coffee in food processor container; pulse until mixture is melty and combined. Add bananas and vanilla paste; pulse until well-combined and the consistency of soft-serve ice cream, stopping to scrape sides with a spatula as needed. Spread mixture into an 8-inch parchment lined container. Freeze for 30 minutes.

To make sandwiches:
Using a 2 1/2-inch round cutter, cut out cookies. Using the same cutter, cut ice cream and place on top of half of cookies. Top with remaining cookies. Store in freezer. Yield: 6+ cookies.

July 14, 2014

Gramercy Monday

gra·mer·cy  [gr-uh-mur-see]
archaic. (interjection) - used to express gratitude or surprise 
 i believe strongly in the power of gratitude. of being thankful for what we have. of expressing appreciation. 
it keeps our souls healthy and it brings joy to the front.
so on mondays, the dreaded return to the grind day, i plan to begin with an attitude of gratitude. not always food-related, but sometimes. maybe a product i love. possibly a place i miss... always gramercy!

i have a confession.

i'm a little clean-obsessed. 

if you ask my family, they'll be quick to tell you that my sanity is a little too closely linked to the cleanliness of my house. 

because of the fact that i have a toddler (read: tiny tornado) living in my home, i'm often defeated in my efforts to keep my house as nice and tidy as i'd prefer. a friend recently sent me a note saying that cleaning with a toddler is like trying to brush your teeth while eating oreos. so true. the best analogy i can think of.

i'm doing my best to keep my mental state in check, and am incredibly grateful for the "oreos", these sweet two little people we wanted and waited for. but i'm also really grateful for the moments i do get to bring order, cleanliness and good smells back into the rooms of my home.

for several years now, i have made efforts to use cleaner cleaning products... not so many chemicals and bleaches. instead, plant derived ingredients, essential oils, safer materials.

and lately, i've found a favorite... mrs. meyer's clean day radish scented cleaners. they smell nothing like a radish. but to me, it smells like heaven. very clean and fresh, infused with basil, clove and birch. 

mrs. meyer's clean day tag line is "uncomplicated products for a clean and happy home." yes, please...

disclaimer: mrs. meyer's clean day has not compensated me for this post. all opinions are my own, and i lucked into buying this awesome product.

July 11, 2014

Chilled Coconut Rice Pudding & Maple Peaches

this one is for those morning, you know, the ones that you don't want to heat the kitchen, dirty the pans or blender, and crave something cool and delicious.

open your fridge... it's waiting. 

grab the recipe today over at healthy aperture's blog!

July 9, 2014

Coconut Egg Cream

ahh, summer.

the sweet times of melty ice cream and drippy milkshakes. unless you and dairy are on the outs. like me. hence my constant desire to make dairy-free versions of those cold treats. (like this one, this one, and this one.)

and because we now live in dairy country and ice cream stands have burst alive like the flower buds in spring, you may see a few more "ice cream" posts here this summer as i deal with my limitations.

today, it's a nice cold soda shop beverage. i love that soda shops are trying to make a come-back. maybe it's the idyllic mayberry, norman rockwell-like visions of it all. the sweetness of sitting high on a barstool watching the soda jerk mix his refreshments with chemist perfection.

the egg cream, despite its name, contains no egg. there's a little controversy about how the drink came by the name. basically it is a bit like a fizzy chocolate milk. the coconut imparts a great layer of flavor and makes it fully dairy-free. honestly, my son's favorite part was licking the homemade chocolate syrup-ed spoon... which would make a perfect topping your next indulgent (dairy-free) ice cream sundae!

Coconut Egg Cream

For chocolate syrup:
1/3    cup sugar
1/3    cup cocoa powder
2/3    cup water
1/2    teaspoon vanilla paste or extract

For egg cream:
2/3    cup chilled canned, unsweetened, full-fat coconut milk
2/3    cup chilled seltzer water
4-5    tablespoons chocolate syrup
gluten-free pretzels or gluten-free chocolate-coated pretzels

To make chocolate syrup:
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture bubbles a bit and thickens. Allow to cool completely.

To make egg cream:
Pour milk into a tall glass. Add seltzer to milk. Stir in chocolate syrup with a tall spoon, being careful not to deflate foam on the top. Serve with pretzels, if desired.

June 30, 2014

Star Cake Roll

happy fourth of july! 

this national holiday ranks up there on my list of favorites. how can you not love a day of outdoor fun, patriotism, cold watermelon, drippy ice cream, family & friends, bathing suits, citronella candles, and twilight fireworks.

and of course, the festive food...

i've always been terrified of making a cake roll. i remember distinctively back when i worked in the oxmoor house test kitchen, my co-worker, julie, tested this buche de noel for christmas with southern living. i was grateful that recipe didn't end up in my pile to test, thinking it would have been quite a challenge.

but this week i saw this gluten-free flourless chocolate toffee roll by carol kicinski. holy moses. it looks delicious! and it reminded me of this lovely decorated cake roll i'd seen a few months ago, by the novice housewife. it was love at first sight with that cake. so very cool and lovely. and her video made it seem so totally doable. so i did.

to my pleasant surprise, this cake was super easy. now i'm not sure what i was so intimidated by for all of these years. and you can do it too. i promise it looks much more impressive than it truly is.

this recipe is a sponge cake, so it tastes kind of like angel food cake topped with whipped cream and berries. and given the whole red, white, & blue motif of the stars and the berries, you couldn't ask for a better july 4th dessert!

i'll confess i'm having struggles with my oven. hoping the sears man fixes it for me soon, but in the meantime i'm having to do my best with it. the darker spots on the cake, i believe, are a result of said faulty oven. hopefully yours turns out prettier. and i wanted to let you see how it looked with and without a sprinkling of powdered sugar. really, though, the only thing i missed were some crackling lit sparklers!

i loved this cake. it was really fun to make. and the design possibilities are limitless! expect to see more rolled cakes in the future...

Star Cake Roll

For stars:
1     egg white 
3     tablespoons sugar
5     tablespoons kumquat's gluten-free all-purpose flour or other gluten-free all-purpose flour
2     tablespoons softened butter
Food colorings, red and blue

For cake:
4     large eggs, room temperature
3/4  cup sugar
1     teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
6     drops yellow food coloring 
 1     cup kumquat's gluten-free all-purpose flour or other gluten-free all-purpose flour
[if using kumquat's flour or other flour blend without xanthan gum, please add 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum.  I tested with Cup for Cup (sold by Williams-Sonoma) which includes xanthan gum in the blend.]
1     teaspoon baking powder
1     tablespoon water

For filling:
1      cup whipping cream
1      tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2   cup halved blueberries
1/2   cup chopped strawberries

Spray a 17- x 11-inch jellyroll pan with cooking spray and line with parchment. Place template under parchment on one side of the pan.

To make stars, beat egg white with a fork until frothy. Add sugar and flour; beat with fork to incorporate. Add butter and mix well with fork to form a paste. Divide batter and add colorings to achieve desired colors. Transfer batters to piping bags or zip-top bags fitted with a piping tip. Pipe stars onto parchment, using template as a guide. Place pan in freezer for 15 minutes, at least.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°.

In a stand mixer, beat eggs for 5 minutes using the whisk attachment. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat 5 minutes, or until egg mixture is pale yellow. Mix in vanilla and yellow food coloring.

In another bowl, combine flour, (xanthan gum, if using) and baking powder. Fold flour mixture into egg mixture, being careful not to deflate batter. Fold in water. 

Remove jellyroll pan from freezer. Remove template from pan. Pour batter over patter and remaining pan. Spread batter evenly over pan with a spatula. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes, being careful not to overbake, or until cake springs back when lightly touched.

Once you remove cake from oven, sprinkle with powdered sugar and place another piece of parchment on top of sugar. Top with another jellyroll pan and flip cake to remove. Pull off parchment from the decorated side, and flip again so that the decorated side is facing down. Roll cake from the side opposite of the decoration. Let sit, rolled, until cake is cool.

Meanwhile, whip cream and sugar to stiff peaks with an electric mixer.

When cake is completely cooled, unroll cake, discarding parchment. Spread whipped cream over cake to edges. Top with berries. Roll cake tightly again. Serve immediately or chill.

* recipe is adapted from novice housewife's recipe. she has a great video tutorial. i highly recommend giving it a watch!

June 27, 2014

Sweet Potato & Pecan Donuts with Praline Icing

summer has officially begun.

which means lazier mornings than normal. no need to hop up, get everyone dressed, make lunches, make breakfast and hustle out the door. ahhhh...

one of my favorite easy breakfast treats is donuts. if you don't have a donut pan, then you really don't know what you're missing. i have this one. trust me, it's the new muffin pan.

baking donuts is an easy way to have the famous breakfast treat, without the messy fry oil, and such less hassle. plus it is easier to use healthier ingredients too!

these grain-free, "flourless" donuts only use sweet potato and pecan as the "flours". they are so full of flavor and nutrition, but sweet enough for those with a sweet tooth. my kids loved them. and i felt better handing one over to them for a snack, knowing it was loaded with lots of vitamin a and healthy nut-fats. you can leave off the praline icing if you're watching the sugar in your life. but i think it's... well, the icing on the cake{donut}.

if you do invest in that pan (do it, do it), then here are a couple other recipes i've posted. they're each so delicious and flavorful!!  

Sweet Potato & Pecan Donuts with Praline Icing

1        cup pecan halves
2        teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2  teaspoons baking powder
1/2     teaspoon xanthan gum
3/4     teaspoon salt
4        tablespoons melted butter
1/3     cup brown sugar
3        large eggs
1        cup mashed, cooked sweet potato
1        teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
Cooking spray

1/3     cup brown sugar
2        tablespoons powdered sugar
1        tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 350°.

Pulse pecan halves in a small food processor until it is a fine powder (but not butter). Stir in pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt.

In a medium bowl, combine butter, sugar, eggs, sweet potato and vanilla. Stir in pecan mixture. 

Spray donut pan molds with cooking spray or grease generously with butter. Spoon batter into donut pan molds to fill, being careful not to overflow and cover center hole-maker. 

Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes, or until done. Let cool in pan for 4 minutes and turn out to a wire rack. Let cool.

Meanwhile, pulse brown sugar in a food processor until it is a fine powder. Add powdered sugar and water to make icing. Spoon evenly over donuts.
Yield: 1 dozen donuts.

June 20, 2014

Mango-Orange Julius Coconut Milk Ice Cream

my heart is full...

in moments we will watch my sweet boy graduate from kindergarten. complete with cap and gown.

i can't believe the year is up and he'll be entering into a number grade next year. his limbs are growing long and weedy. his face has lost its baby pudge and thinned. his baby teeth have stayed put, but several are wiggly and will see the tooth fairy soon.

so today we'll celebrate, along with his sweet new little friends and classmates, that he's growing up.

just as he should.

what better way to celebrate on a lovely june day than with an ice cream cone...

one of my precious purchases from our trip to charlottesville was a bag full of champagne mangoes. apparently they are unknown up here in northern new york. but they are the sweetest, most wonderful fruits ever that are otherwise available in force this time of year. i look forward to them yearly. 

armed with a few very ripe mangoes and with a hankering for something sweet and creamy and orangey, this recipe was born.

and somehow, all of the stars aligned, and indeed... exactly like a dreamsicle. dairy-free, refined sugar-free, gluten-free, and totally delicious. 

now... time for the kindergarten cap and gown.

Mango-Orange Julius Coconut Milk Ice Cream

1     (13.5-ounce) can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
2     cups chopped ripe, sweet mango (about 2 mangoes, preferably champagne mangoes)
1     cup mango-orange juice
1     teaspoon vanilla extract
1     teaspoon fresh lime juice
10   drops liquid stevia (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a blender container. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture into the bowl of a ice cream mixer. Freeze according to manufacturer's instruction. Transfer to a metal loaf pan (but don't line with parchment like I did.... not helpful, unless you're planning to cut ice cream in slices.) Store in freezer. 

When stored in freezer, mixture will freeze hard. Allow to sit for 15 minutes to thaw a bit before  scooping.