One of my daughters is allergic (sensitive) to nuts. It’s not anaphylactic but she does get bad skin rashes. She loves granola as a snack, so I set out to create a nut free granola that she would enjoy.
It wasn’t so easy because not everyone in my family likes chia seeds or flax. A lot of recipes called for wheat germ which was met with a resounding “NO”!. So needless to say I just started experimenting.
I started every batch with old fashioned oats. I knew my family likes those. Then I started adding seeds. Which seeds would fit universally at any meal, and would we all like them? From there I added chocolate chips but they didn’t taste like the right fit so I switched to cacao nibs. Then I wanted to sweeten it. I din’t want to use sugar and honey was too sweet for us. I ended up with Pure Maple Syrup. It is set but has just the right bite of bitter. Finally, I wanted some chew, so I started adding dried fruits. A little salt elevated the flavor and I used olive oil to pull it all together.
The recipe is below, but here are a few notes:
You can use coconut oil instead of olive oil, if you prefer. The dried fruit is completely up to you but I used apricots, , dried blueberries, cranberries. Next time I will try cherries to.
For seeds I used sunflower, pepitas (pumpkin), sesame and hemp hearts. You can use any combination. And you can use nuts if you like. In my second batch I used coconut flakes. It definitely a personal choice.
Preheat oven to 350°
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl stir together the oats, seeds, and cacao nibs. Toss in oil and syrup.
Add a nice sprinkle of kosher salt and turn out onto prepared baking sheet.
Smooth out to a single layer and bake for 20-30 minutes. rotate half way through and stir.
When seed mixture comes out of oven, pour into same bowl and let cool a few minutes.
Add dried fruit and toss well. Pour back onto baking sheet and let cool completely.
You can store this in mason jars or other airtight container for 2 weeks in the pantry. You can also freeze for up to 3 months.
This makes a great gift!
My Family and I have been doing Meatless Monday for a few years. In 2020, I want us to lean in more to vegetarian and vegan options. We’ve all read or heard on the news how important this is, not only for our health but, for our environment. I was actually at an event and heard a famous Breast Cancer doctor speak. Her advice was if you can’t make the switch to being vegan, can you be vegan for a meal? How hard could it be to have vegan cereal for breakfast or a huge vegan salad for lunch. She made it sound simple and I am embracing it.
I’ve made these Quinoa Burgers for my family before and frankly they love them. I originally made them with Sriracha sauce, in the mix. They were quite spicy. So while my husband and enjoyed them, my kids not so much. I re-did the recipe and now I share with you where to add whatever flavoring you would like to customize for your family.
This is a fairly simple recipe and it comes together fast. If you have all your ingredients ready to go, dinner can be on the table in under 30 minutes. I like to serve these as if I was serving a burger with coleslaw and fries.
By the way, save the liquid from your canned chickpeas. It is a fabulous vegan substitute for egg whites, where it calls for whipping them into tiff peaks.
I hope you enjoy this recipe. As always I want to hear from you. Send me your comments and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram at @whiskinthesouthern.
Over a medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon canola oil to a saucepan. Coat the pan and once hot, add onion, carrot and garlic. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes until you start to really smell the aromatics and the veggies start to soften.
Add broth and quinoa. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 15 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed. Turn out quinoa onto a baking sheet, or plate, to cool for a few minutes.
While your quinoa is cooling, add your chickpeas, panko bread crumbs, salt & pepper, egg and finally the cooled quinoa mix, to a food processor. Give it a few pulses.
This is where you want to add your flavoring if you want. The "burgers" have plenty of flavor but here you can add some hot sauce, some ranch dressing mix, or even your favorite steak rub. If you don't want to add the flavor here, or if you want more flavor, you can mix your seasoning with the 2 tsp. of canola oil to drizzle over the burger.
After you've added your flavoring, continue to pulse to a slightly chunky, but smooth texture.
Carefully remove the blade from the processor and start making your burgers.
I use a 1/2 cup ice cream scoop to make my burgers. It gives you a nice start to shape and your burgers are evenly sized.
Heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a skillet. Please make sure to use a non-stick skillet or get a stainless skillet searing hot and well oiled before putting your burgers in. The quinoa burgers are delicate so make sure they slide easily onto your spatula before your turn them. If they stick at all, they are not ready to be turned.
Place burgers in and cook for 2-3 minutes on both sides.
Serve immediately on buns or butter lettuce leaves with your favorite condiments
So here we are the beginning of January 2020! As I think about resolutions, I’m trying tone way more mindful and intentional (which just happens to be my word for the year). So one of my resolutions is to eat breakfast more often. That also includes having quick and easy breakfast available for me and my family to grab.
The first thing I made in this new year is biscuits. Yes, I know they may not qualify as a healthy breakfast but I also believe that anything made at home with quality ingredients better than anything processed outside my kitchen. If combined with a healthy protein and some fruit or veggies, a biscuit breakfast can take you all the way to lunch, without temptation.
I started with my Great-Grandmother’s Biscuit recipe. It laid out most of the ingredients and these instructions:
“Work in enough flour to work out. Cut. Bake”
By the way flour was not listed as an ingredient. I was able to cull together some instructions and made some beautiful biscuits. I have given you a few more instructions. Enjoy!
Please go to Instagram and follow me: @whiskinthesouthern
Preheat oven to 475°
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder.
Grate butter, into flour mixture, on large hole side of grater box. Work in with hands. You want a coarse meal feel.
Put butter/flour mixture in freezer for a few minutes, here. You want everything to be cold when you start to work it.
Take bowl out of freezer and make a well in middle.
Pour buttermilk into well and start to mix together with a wooden spoon or your hands.
The dough will be sticky.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, gently, 15 times.
Add more flour if you need and start to roll out dough to 1/2" thick. Then fold in half and repeat, 5 times. This step is important because you are forming layers.
Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
Once dough is ready to cut, use a biscuit cutter and cut straight down. Do not twist when making biscuits. Twisting forms a seal and prevent steam which prevents lots of layers of flaky goodness. Place biscuits on parchment paper about 2 inches apart.
Bake at 475° for 15 minutes. Watch your biscuits. Every oven is different and you want a nice golden brown biscuit.
When biscuits come out of oven brush tops with melted butter, immediately. Let cool for just 5 minutes before serving warm biscuits.
If you’re anything like me, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind of baking and cooking. I’ve used a little of this and a lot of that. My pantry now has an overflow of half empty bags of chocolate chips, cinnamon chips, dried fruit and nuts. I have a little bit of caramel sauce left and just a few marshmallows. I made oatmeal cookies and don’t have enough left over for even a full bowl of oatmeal for breakfast.
That is where these cookies come in handy. You’ve probably seen similar recipes for Cowboy Cookies. To be honest that’s where these started. Then I realized could throw any extra ingredients in and they’d be fantastic. Kitchen Sink Cookies were born.
So now that the year is in it’s final countdown, go through your pantry and pull out anything you have leftover and throw them in these cookies. Get creative and shout out to me what you do. You know I love other from you.
Oh and don’t forget to get social. Head over to Instagram and follow me @Diaryofalostchef. Thanks!!
Everything but the Kitchen Sink Cookies
The best cookies to make when using up leftover goodies.
We just came through Thanksgiving and I know I am FULL! I’m really trying hard to not gain weight this year, through the holidays.
I love the idea of grabbing a granola bar or something quick, in the morning. The problem is that a lot of the commercial bars you can get at the grocery store are really high in calories, fat or sugar. I made this recipe the first time and it was too dry to “slice and bake”, as I wanted. I pressed it into a sheet pan and made it into bars. They were good, maybe a little dry but good. I added a 1/2 cup of applesauce and got the moisture I was looking for. This made a perfect cookie.
I hope you enjoy this quick breakfast recipe and don’t gain any weight during the holidays!
Preheat oven to 325°.
Beat Butter, honey and salt until creamy.
Add flour, baking soda and vanilla and beat until blended. Add applesauce until just combined.
Fold in dried fruit and nuts. I used apricots and walnuts but you can choose your own combination. How about cherries and almonds? Go tropical with dried pineapple and macadamia nuts.
Shape dough into a log. I like a bigger cookie, so a larger roll is better.
Wrap in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for at least 8 hours. Slice 1/2" cookies and bake on silpat or parchment paper, lined cookie sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
You can also make these into bars, follow all the same directions, but press dough into a 9X13 pan or 1/4 sheet pan, lined with parchment paper. Bake until golden brown. It shouldn't take more than the same 20 minutes. Cool and then cut into 12 - 14 bars.
Stir together sugar and juice until desired glaze consistency. Drizzle over cookies or bars when completely cooled.
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of speaking to the wonderful Women of Hadassah in Southern California. This group of women’s entire focus is to connect and empower women to effect change. They are in fact #WomenWhoDo. They are on the frontlines for healthcare and cures for cancer and advocating for women’s rights.
These women are intelligent and engaging so I took a page from my friend, Robert Schueller’s, playbook. I talked about “sexy veggies” and aphrodisiac vegetables. I was surprised to learn, from Robert, that some vegetables have genders. Things like eggplant, avocado and bell peppers have a male and female fruit. These are plants that you need to have both to flower and bloom in your garden. The best way to insure that is to ask at your local nursery.
We also talked about aphrodisiac vegetables. There is a lot of talk about this on the internet. I have a very simple philosophy about it. If a fruit or vegetable evokes a “feeling” in you because of the way it looks, smells or tastes, it is an aphrodisiac. If it evokes a memory in you that can cause an arousal, it is an aphrodisiac. Very simple!
Asparagus Legume Bell Pepper Salad
You can easily add chicken or steak to make this more of a meal.
You can use the peppers, either raw or roasted. To roast:
Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil, leave an extended edge. Place whole peppers, in a single layer, on the foil and place baking sheet about 6" from broiler. Broil until lightly charred, using tongs to rotate peppers until all sides are charred. Draw foil around peppers and remove from oven. Close foil packet for 5 minutes or so. Once the peppers are cool enough to touch, peel peppers and discard seeds. Slice ninto 1/4" strips.
Blanch asparagus until just tender (al dente). You can do this step before or after you cut into 1" pieces. Set aside.
Make the dressing:
In a large bowl, whisk together garlic, lemon juice, oregano, basil and salt& pepper. Whisk in olive oil, slowly. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Add greens to salad dressing bowl and toss, slightly. Add in garbanzo beans, pepper strips and olives, toss well. Add asparagus and toss gently. Sprinkle feta cheese on top and plate to serve.
My daughter has been after me to buy an Air Fryer. I did look at a few of them, but when I started asking how they work, it sounded suspiciously like convection ovens. Turns our I was almost right.
Both ovens use fans to circulate hot air around the food. Both ovens cook faster than a conventional oven. The one main difference is that the air fryer keeps the food in a smaller space. SO I started to look around my kitchen to see if there was a way I could create that small space when my eye was drawn to my Cuisinart Toaster/Convection Oven. That’s a small space. That’s a convection oven. Hmm…?
There are these pita chips at my local Farmer’s Market. I love them. They are deep-fried and seasoned with a yummy lemon pepper seasoned salt. I wanted to re-create them.
When you use an air fryer it advises you set the fryer to 360°. So I set the oven to convection at 350° (there wasn’t a 360°). I let the oven preheat with my pan in there.
While the oven was preheating, I cut a whole pita into 8 wedges. I brushed each wedge, on both sides, lightly with olive oil. I also sprinkled each wedge with lemon pepper and salt.
I baked the wedges for 5 minutes and then turned them over and baked for another 5 minutes. Watch them closely. Temperatures vary by oven.
I love them!! they are crispy and that little brush of olive oil is all I needed to get that “fried” flavor. I finished the chips with another quick sprinkle of salt.
The verdict is, you can buy an air fryer, if you’d like. But if you don’t want to buy another small electronic or your counter space is almost full, this is a great option.
As promised on Instagram here is the recipe for that delicious Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake. I used store bought Caramel Sauce (Mrs. Richardsons). You can easily make your own. Here is a quick recipe:
1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1/4 cup whole milk, and 1 tsp. vanilla
Stirring constantly bring all ingredients to a boil and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. You can use right away or store in an airtight jar in refrigerator.
On another note can you do me a favor? I am trying to get a book deal and need to up my Instagram followers. If you aren’t already following me, will you please go to @diaryofalostchef on Instagram and give me a follow? I really appreciate it. As soon as I have my book deal I will give away books to the first ten of you that follow me.
Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake
This is a light almost pudding like cake. It is so easy and yet impresses. It would work well with pears too.