Just Rhubarb.

It’s rhubarb season!  And so I’ve gone and made some rhubarb treats.  They’re nothing original, but they are simple, tasty, and fresh from the garden!!!

The first was adapted from a recipe from Bon Appetit magazine.  It can be found here.  The original recipe calls for raspberries, but I left those out.  The other change I added was sprinkle the top with chopped almonds and raw sugar before baking.  This was a delicious and fresh sweet treat!

The second thing I made was very, very similar.  But individual, aaaaaaand gluten-free.  Though I’m not gluten-free, I have attempted to begin baking at times gluten-free.  I have found that gluten-free baked goods do NOT taste good raw….but once they are cooked, they are deeeee-licious!

I used a gluten-free pie crust recipe found on epicurious.  And then for the compote, just boiled down some rhubarb, sugar, cinnamon, and citrus juice until it was thick.  Then made little pies from my imagination.  Let’s just call them mini, gluten-free, rustic, rhubarb tarts.  For a spring-time, Montana potluck, with local vanilla bean ice cream they were quite the hit!


Brunching on Easter

My sister is a pretty amazing cook.  Like really amazing.  I’m staying with her in Portland for a couple of weeks as I transition from Peace Corps back to real, fast-paced American life.  Just thought I’d share this meal we ate recently for Easter morning brunch.  Bacon-wrapped Eggs with Polenta and Spring Greens with Sherry Vinaigrette from Bon Appetit magazine.  Yum!


Bread ‘N Jam – Yummy!

There’s nothing like bread and jam.  Homemade.  I was recently inspired by a plum preserves recipe I found in an old issue of Food Network Magazine.  I’m not typically a huuuuuuge fan of this magazine, but when I travel, I seem to indulge in more entertainment-like magazines.  While doing some spring cleaning I came across this recipe, and with the plethora of plums available in my town at this time, I got super excited  and inspired to create my own plum jam, which in the end, I called Spiced Plum Jam, mainly because it’s quite different from this original recipe.

Aaaaaaaand, With the lack of good, whole grain breads here in Costa Rica, I have taken to making my own.  I wanted something beyond the typical whole wheat sorta flatbread bread that I always fall back  on.  I was craaaaaaaving a rustic, crusty-on-the-outside, holy-and-light-on-the-inside kinda bread.  So I went with Ciabatta.  Ciabatta is often called “Italian Slipper Bread” because it is a fairly wet dough and hence why it creates a slipper-like shape.  I did not realize that making ciabatta took so many steps, but it did, and in the end it was completely worth it.  Crispy, artisan bread and homemade sweet, fresh spiced plum jam.  Pure, simple goodness.

So first, here is the recipe for my version of the jam, which is super duper easy, by the way.

Spiced Plum Jam

6 cups sliced plums
1 cup sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp allspice
Juice of one lime

Place the plums, sugar, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and allspice in a large, wide saucepan.  Squeeze the lime through a strainer into the pan.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, and the mixture boils, about 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer registers 220˚F, about 25 minutes.  (To be sure that the mixture has reached the gel point, spoon some onto a chilled plate and put in the freezer until cool. The liquid should set; if not, continue to cook and retest after a few more minutes.) Remove the pan from the heat and let cool 30 minutes.

Enjoy fresh, and store in the refrigerator up to 10 days (if it lasts that long)!  Otherwise, prepare for canning procedures, which can be found here.

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As for the bread recipe, I used this one, and the only difference I did was substitute the last 25 ounces of bread flour for whole wheat bread flour.  The rest I followed to a T.  And it turned out great.

Enjoy the bread toasted with cream cheese and jam, or butter and jam!  Also sliced bananas on it tastes great also!



Going, going, gone….

Blackberry (whole wheat) cobbler (with fresh-picked blackberries by yours truly) topped with plain yogurt, mango and chia seeds.  Breakfast. Yum.  Just a little food for thought….  :)

 


Japanese…..y Soup!

The other day I found miso paste in my refrigerator.  I obviously forgot about it because normally I use those type of things right up!  It was unopened and something I picked up from an Asian market not too long ago.  Instead of making ol’ traditional miso soup, I cooked up this asian inspired sauté with miso broth.  It was so delicious, I ended up making it the very next day for a dinner guest.  It’s quite fast, healthy, and tasty!  And no really obscure, hard-to-find, asian ingredients required.

Japanese-Style Chickpeas and Vegetables in Miso Broth

2 Tbsp oil
1 very large green onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
I large carrot, sliced diagonally
1 large bell pepper, cut in 2-inch strips
1 16-oz can chickpeas
2 heaping Tbsp miso paste
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp dried basil
1 Tbsp Five spice powder*
Couple dashes of hot sauce
¾ cup white wine
½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cups water

In a medium stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the green onion and garlic, sauté 3-5 minutes over medium-low until the onion is soft.  Add the carrot and bell pepper, sauté another 5 minutes.  Add the chickpeas, sauté another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the miso paste, hoisin sauce, dried basil, five-spice powder, hot sauce, white wine, and salt and pepper.  Simmer on low until the wine reduces to about 1/3 of a cup and the mixture is coated in a thick liquid, but not too liquidy (the carrots and bell pepper should be slightly crunchy and al dente).  Add the water and simmer on low uncovered 15 minutes or until steaming hot.  Add more salt and pepper if desired.

*An asian spice whose main ingredients are star anise, cloves, cassia, Szechwan pepper and fennel seeds.  Can be found in most stores that have a good variety of spices.  This is one brand:


Carrots+Cookies=Carrot Cookies!

Yummmmm!!  I’m not gonna brag about how tasty these are.  Buuuuuuuuut, I’m going to, because they are!!!  Carrots, and cookies, and slightly sweet goodness!! Eat these up! And enjoy their health benefits (while getting your veggies)! :)

Here’s the recipe I came up with one bored, experimental day:

Carrot Cookies

1 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 stick butter (softened)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
juice from 1/2  an orange
1 cup shredded carrots
2/3 cup raisins

Mix the dry ingredients (through the cinnamon) in a bowl. Stir well with a whisk.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, add the honey, vanilla, egg, orange juice, shredded carrots, and raisins.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture.  Mix until no dry ingredients remain.

Drop by tablespoonfuls on a greased baking sheet.  Place in 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

ENJOYYYYY!!!


Peanut Butter and Cherry Jam Oat Bars

A rainy, October day inspired these bars.  It was yesterday.  I wanted something healthy, not too sweet, a snack, and different from regular ol’ oatmeal (which I love to have for breakfast every day in some fancy form) or peanut butter and jelly (which is just an old classic that I never tire of).  So, I thought why not combine the two into a afternoon treat to have with tea!

Now, typically, I don’t bake vegan, because I am a wholehearted believer that nothing is better than real butter. and real milk. and real eggs, and furthermore I don’t need to bake vegan, since I’m blessed with zero food allergies.  But when you find yourself without butter, without eggs, and it’s pouring rain outside and you can’t find the strength to walk less than a half a mile to the corner store, you improvise.  So vegan is my improvisation.  And instead of walking to the store, I walked to my backyard to pick an avocado.  Yes, that’s right, these have avocados in them.  You may have noticed from previous posts that I have incorporated avocado in place of the fat (oil or butter).  It’s a sneaky way to incorporate heart-healthy and cancer-fighting fats into your diet.

I used a german cherry jam in these bars, but any jam can clearly be used.  Additionally, the peanut butter could be omitted for those who don’t like peanut butter.  And of course with the streusel topping, feel free to be creative, adding any kind of nuts, seeds, or coconut.

Peanut Butter and (Cherry) Jam Oat Bars

1.5 cups whole oats
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp all spice
1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax+3tbsp warm water)
3/4 avocado mashed well
1/3 c honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp almond/soy milk

1 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup cherry jam (or any other flavor)
juice from 1/2 an orange
orange rind from 1 orange

Streusel Topping:

2/3 cup oats
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
water to moisten

Combine the dry ingredients (first eight) in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix the flax egg with the mashed avocado, honey, vanilla, and almond milk.  Stir well to combine.  Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture.  Stir to combine, gently.  Should be the consistency of cookie dough.  If too moist, add a little more flour.

Pat the mixture into the bottom of a greased 8×8 square baking pan.  Spread the peanut butter on top.  In a small sauce pan, heat the jam with the juice of half a small orange and the rind.  Boil down until mixture thickens a bit.

Spread the jam mixture over the oat bottom and the peanut butter.

Mix the streusel topping.  Sprinkle streusel over the bars and spread to even out.

Bake in 350 oven for 25-30 minutes until jam is bubbly and streusel is golden brown.

Cut into squares and enjoy with afternoon coffee or tea!  These also freeze well.


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