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Greek Yogurt Chipotle Ranch Dip

Greek Yogurt Chipotle Ranch Dip

Oh, poor little neglected blog, how I have missed you! Last semester was so crazy and so interesting (microbiology!) that I barely had time to procrastinate and since most of my blogging is born out of procrastination, things just kind of stopped around here. Luckily, I have a much easier course load this semester and I have already been accepted to nursing school (yay!), so hopefully things will start looking a little more normal around here…

I made this dip at the beginning of football season to go with some football watching. It was an instant hit in my (play)book and since the season is now only one game away from being over, I guess I better share it before it’s too late (I’m not even going to apologize for those horrible football puns).

Chipotle and ranch are probably two of my favorite flavors. Combining them resulted in what I think is the world’s best dip. This dip is the perfect combination of slightly spicy, tangy and absolutely delicious. I served the dip with some veggies and kettle chips, but I think it would be a great dipping sauce for chicken wings if they are your thing.

Greek Yogurt Chipotle Ranch Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups plain Greek yogurt (I used Fage 0%)
  • 1/4 high-quality mayonnaise (I recommend Hollywood Safflower Mayo)
  • 3 Tablespoons dry ranch dressing mix
  • 4 green onions, finely chopped and some reserved for garnish
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh cilantro, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1+ canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced (add more if you like it spicy!)

Instructions

  1. In a medium sized bowl, mix together yogurt, mayonnaise, ranch mix, almost all the green onions, cilantro, garlic, lime juice and chipotle. Mix until well blended. Refrigerate until needed. Serve with veggies or potato chips.
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Super Simple Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

 

 

 

This is by far the easiest gluten-free dessert I’ve ever made! Almost easier than opening a prepackaged mix. You only need two dishes to make this; a mixing bowl and a baking pan and you are ready to go. Start to finish, your cake will be ready in under 45 minutes!

I tried to cut down on the sugar since 1 cup seemed like a lot. I started adding it 1/4 cup at a time. I’m not sure if it was the cocoa powder or the gluten-free flour, but found that I definitely needed the whole cup. This cake is extremely rich and chocolatey. I ended up freezing about three-quarters of the loaf (I made mine in a loaf pan, not a cake pan). The slice I’ve defrosted since was just as good as the freshly baked. I think making this recipe into cupcakes, might make freezing a bit easier.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

 

Super Simple Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

From Food.com via FitSugar.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix (I used Better Batter.)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon guar gum or 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (only not included in GF flour mix)
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 5 Tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F
  2. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Add all liquid ingredients and mix well.
  4. Bake in greased and floured nine-inch square pan (or lined with waxed paper) for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  5. Serve as is or with some berries and cream for extra indulgence.
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Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Wrapped Asparagus

A little Monday evening aperitivo.

My girlfriend Kelly made this absolutely amazing asparagus appetizers (I love alliteration!) for our last book club meeting. They were delicious! And so simple. I made them at home for a little Monday evening aperitivo. These are definitely a great bite for a last-minute wine and cheese party and definitely worthy of sharing with guest. Next time I have a dinner party, these will be on the menu. I’m actually kind of looking for any excuse to make these again.

You can use any soft, spreadable cheese. I would avoid cream cheese, but any other soft cheese should work. I think Boursin would be amazing.

Making this appetizer into a side dish would be very easy to do. I would leave the prosciutto slice whole and wrap it around 3-5 pieces of asparagus and cook them the same way (maybe a minute or  two longer). I think it would make for a really tasty side dish, but I really like how the individual spears of asparagus and prosciutto get super crispy.

Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Wrapped Asparagus

Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Wrapped Asparagus

Ingredients

  • Asparagus spears, washed and trimmed
  • Soft goat cheese, at room temperature
  • Prosciutto, each slice cut into 3 pieces

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400F degrees.
  2. Spread the goat cheese on each slice of prosciutto.
  3. Wrap each asparagus spear in a 1/3 slice of prosciutto and goat cheese.
  4. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until warm and starting to crisp.
  5. Serve and become the hit of the party!
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Fromage Fort

Hi Fromage Fort, I'm your newest fan. #cheeseoverload

I doesn’t look like much, but I cannot even begin to put into words how amazing this is. Amazing! That’s all I can say. I was faced with the awkward situation of having a whole bunch of cheese, but not enough to make a legitimate cheese plate. You know that awkward spot where you’ve had a wine and cheese night and there is some cheese leftover, but not really anything worthwhile. It’s always a dark day. There are just tiny bits of that, something with a bit of a rind, some soft stuff that was kind of sad looking, a tad of blue begging to find a second chance. I poked around the internet for a bit and thanks to the magic of Google, I discovered the most glorious way to  save the cheese! Fromage Fort! You can’t really go wrong with the combination of cheese. I used some blue, Boursin, goat, brie and parm. Delicious.

Serving wise, baguette, crackers, even some crudités would be great to serve with this. I used toasted gluten-free bread. If I had been by myself, I probably would have just used a spoon.

Final word of advice, get on this. Stat!

Fromage Fort

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound mix leftover cheese, harder cheeses grated, softer ones cut into chunks
  • A couple pats of butter, if using mostly firm cheese varieties
  • 1-3 small clove garlic, minced, or more to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 cup leftover white wine
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme, rosemary or chives
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Blend cheese, butter (if using) and garlic in food processer until combined. Drizzle in wine with the motor running until you get your desired consistency — some like it completely smooth, others prefer chunks. Add herbs, pulsing the machine until just combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Fromage fort can be used right away, or kept in the fridge until needed. In the fridge, it will thicken and age a little; the flavors will mingle and deepen. Let sit out for a few minutes to slight soften and make serving easier.
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Summer Fruit Pavlova

Summer Fruit Pavlova

I have to say successfully making this Pavlova was one of my finest moments in the kitchen. I remember thinking Pavlova was the fanciest dessert ever when I was growing up. But for as long as I can remember, the thought of making meringue has scared me. There are too many variables in meringue making and the fact that something can go wrong at any point in the process just stresses me out. I spent quite a bit of time reading old cookbooks and consulting the websites of chefs I trust for learning something new. The end result was a smashing success. I was so proud!

Summer Fruit Pavlova

I made this a bit earlier in the summer for my wonderful mother’s birthday, so depending on where you are peaches and cherries might not be at the peak. As far as  fruit selection goes, you can’t really go wrong. Personally, I would stick to berries and stone fruits, but there are endless combinations that would be delicious.

Summer Fruit Pavlova

Summer Fruit Pavlova

Ingredients

    For the Pavlova
  • 4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon white wine or distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the Whipped Cream
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the Fruit Topping
  • 2-3 cups of mixed berries or fruits of choice.

Instructions

    For the Pavlova
  1. Preheat oven to 250°F (130°C) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 7 inch (18 cm) circle on the paper.
  2. Pour the vanilla and vinegar into a small cup. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.
  3. In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar (if you didn’t use cream of tartar.) Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Gently spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges, making sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher than the center. (You want a slight well in the center of the meringue to place the whipped cream and fruit.)
  6. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the outside is dry and takes on a very pale cream color. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around. Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven. (The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed, but as it cools you will get a little cracking and you will see that the inside is soft and marshmallowy.)
  7. For the Whipped Cream
  8. Whip the cream in the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar gradually and then the vanilla, beating the cream until firm. Be careful not to over-do it, or might end up with a bowl of sweet homemade butter.
  9. Assembling
  10. Invert the meringue disk onto a plate and spread the top completely with sweetened whipped cream. Spoon the fruit carefully into the middle of the Pavlova, leaving a border of cream and meringue.
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Veggie Protenia Salad

Veggie Proteina Salad

I’ve recently discovered Red Brick Pizza. They have amazing gluten-free pizza. It’s quite a luxury to go to a pizza parlor and have a real, wood-fired pizza straight out of the oven. I have watched them like a hawk every time I have been and they take so many precautions when preparing a gluten-free pizza (I would also recommend going for a very early lunch when they first open to avoid further cross contamination risks). Every employee I have interacted with has known exactly what ‘gluten-free’ is and what is and isn’t safe on their menu (in extreme detail; I was very impressed). So far my favorites only pizzas I’ve tried are the Hawaiian (the addition of cashews is quite amazing) and the Prosciutto, Mushrooms and Arugula (a drizzle of balsamic and a dash of red pepper flakes; fantastic). Unfortunately, the closest restaurant is 35 miles away, which means I only get to go on the rare Target trip I make (yes, our closest Target is also 35 miles away, I live in a desolate hole), but between Target and pizza, it makes any trip almost as exciting as going to Disneyland.

As amazing as the pizzas are, and they are fantastic, I have absolutely fallen in love with the Veggie Proteina Salad. I never could have dreamed up a more perfect salad, but lucky I don’t have to try anymore, Red Brick has figured it out for me.

From the Red Brick Pizza website:

VEGGIE PROTEINA 
napa mix, artichoke hearts, red & green peppers, mushrooms, onions, kalamata olives, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, mozzarella, croutons, choice of dressing

Obviously to make it gluten-free, don’t get the croutons. I also leave off the corn, but keep everything else. The salad is so flavorful and so delicious and so easy to make at home, so that’s exactly what I did. I’ve made it at home several times now and every time it’s been fantastic. At the restaurant, I’ve only tried the salad with balsamic vinaigrette, but at home I’ve tried it both with balsamic and ranch dressing. I really can’t decide which is better. Unfortunately in the pictured version here, I forgot to add the cheese, it definitely wasn’t missed. I have to say that in my homemade version I usually use Monterey jack or white cheddar. I just find them tastier, but the cheese isn’t needed at all.

A little more on Red Brick. They also have gluten-free beer and ciders on tap. There are also gluten-free dessert options as well. Gelato and gelato truffles seem to be the main gluten-free dessert options, but last time I went they also offered gluten-free ice cream sandwiches made with GF chocolate chip cookies and gelato. They all look amazing, but between salad and pizza and dessert, I have to prioritize and pizza always wins in my book.

Veggie Protenia Salad

Ingredients

  • MIx of cabbage and lettuce (I used green cabbage and romaine lettuce)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 8-10 button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 large tomato (or a pint of cherry tomatoes), diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (optional) (recommend white cheddar or monterey jack)
  • choice of dressing (recommend balsamic vinaigrette or ranch)

Instructions

  1. Place cabbage and lettuce in a large bowl.
  2. Add in all other ingredients but dressing.
  3. Toss to mix together.
  4. Add dressing of choice and toss again to coat.
  5. Serve immediately.
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Chicken Bratwurst with Grilled Mango & Red Onion

Chicken Bratwurst with Grilled Mango & Red Onion

Some might say that grilling season ended yesterday (at least in the States), but quite frankly it’s hotter than hell here at the moment. I have no intention of turning on the stove or oven until this heat wave and gross humidity are over and done. There is something more bearable about standing in front of a 400 degree grill on a hot day than dealing with a 400 degree oven.

I usually don’t buy bratwurst because it’s generally made with meats I don’t care to eat, but I’ve found a delicious chicken bratwurst at Von’s/Safeway. It is gluten-free, no strange meats I don’t like, and it’s extremely tasty. It’s Von’s/Safeway’s own Open Nature brand, which is their store brand of  healthy/organic/natural/etc foods.

The grilled mango and red onion really stood out and brought so much extra flavor to the bratwurst. I combined the mango and onion with a teaspoon of oil, a generous dash of cayenne powder and garlic powder and a dash of lime juice. I think this ‘relish’ would have been delicious by itself, but grilling the mango and onion brought out so much flavor and the spice really complemented that.

I made gluten-free buns from Chebe and then toasted them on the grill before topping them with the brats and grilled mango and onions. I have used Chebe for sandwiches and many other things before, but I never as buns. I was pretty impressed by how they held up to both the brat and to the grill.

Chicken Bratwurst with Grilled Mango & Red Onion

Ingredients

  • 1 large fresh mango, seeded, peeled, and halved
  • 1 small red onion, cut in 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 package of bratwurst links
  • buns

Instructions

  1. Heat grill to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss mango and onion with oil, cayenne, garlic, and lime juice.
  3. On grill rack place mango halves, onion, and brats directly over flames. Grill for 8-10 minutes, or until mango and brats are browned and cooked through and onion is crisp-tender, turning once halfway through cooking. Lightly toast buns for 1 to 2 minutes on grill. Set aside mango, onion, and brats.
  4. For relish, chop grilled mango and onion. Serve brats in buns with mango and onion.
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Homemade Frosty Paws (aka Doggie Ice Cream)

Homemade Frosty Paws!

So, I am meant to be galavanting around San Francisco at the moment, but I thought that getting strep throat and an ear infection sounded like a much better use of my time. I was put on antibiotics and instructed not to fly by my favorite Urgent Care doctor, so I am still home, suffering through coughing fits, runny noses and disgustingly hot weather. There is a small silver lining to being stuck at home; I get to celebrate my darling pups’ 12th birthday!

It is extremely hot and humid here at the moment. Heat is fairly normal for this time of year, but humidity is not. As much as I love my dogs, there was no chance I was turning on the oven to bake them pup cakes. Since I was suffering through the heat, I knew that the poor dogs were too, ice cream seemed like the perfect birthday treat. I have purchased Frosty Paws from one of the local fancy pants grocery stores in the past, but now I’m older, wiser, poorer, so making my own was the only way to go.

I will admit, I did sample the recipe before I put the treats in the freezer and the mix was fairly delicious. Another reason I like these homemade treats compared to store-bought, no strange ingredients or preservatives. I used Greek yogurt, local honey, bananas, and all natural (no salt or sugar added) peanut butter. If I liked bananas, I could definitely imagine eating this for breakfast.

And most importantly, these frozen treats get two paws up and some very excited tail wags from the birthday girls. I attempted to get these two brats to take a picture together, but it proved futile. I think they caught on to the fact that the less they cooperated, the more ice cream they would get in an attempt to bribe them. These two are now both old and wise; 12 should be a doozy of a year.

Homemade Frosty Paws!

Homemade Frosty Paws!

Homemade Frosty Paws (aka Doggie Ice Cream)

Ingredients

  • 32 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 banana, ripe, mashed
  • 2 Tablespoons all-natural peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons honey

Instructions

  1. Blend all ingredients together in a food processor. Freeze in ice cube trays (highly recommend silicone/soft trays).
  2. When frozen solid, remove from ice cube trays and transfer to freezer storage bags and store in freezer.
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