March 21, 2011

kinda weird, but good.

Has anyone else noticed that it's all "wheat-free" this and "gluten-free" that lately? My prediction: this is a trend that isn't going away anytime soon. You heard it here first, people (not really).

I'm sort of fascinated by learning how foods interact with our bodies. I already know that dairy is not my friend but I've always wondered about wheat. I really do try not to jump on the food fads band wagon, but I have my moments. I am especially easily influenced when someone like my girl crush Gwynnie proposes something crazy. And that crazy thing is called a cleanse.

I just finished two weeks on the Clean program (I was actually supposed to do three weeks, but hell, I'm no Gwyneth Paltrow). I'll spare you too many personal details about why I decided to do it, but I will tell you that I'm glad I did and it was all worth it because I feel better than I've felt in a long time. And the great news is I'm experimenting with some new kinds of baking that are a little easier on the tummy and the stuffy nose. I never thought I would do this, but I made my first foray into gluten free baking this week. And it was kinda weird, but good. Not too bad at all...I mean, they're no butter-and-cream scones, but when you've been eating two shakes a day for two weeks, your standards are a little different. 

In all seriousness, I would highly recommend the cleanse to anyone who feels sluggish all the time (like I did) or has some chronic problems that never seem to go away. It will change your whole outlook on eating, I promise.

Chocolate Walnut Scones (gluten and dairy free)
Adapted from the Clean recipe by Jenny Nelson
3/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup dates, pitted, chopped, and smashed into a paste

1 T agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups gluten free all purpose flour (I used Bob’s Red Mills) +1 T for dusting
Pinch sea salt
2 oz organic dark chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with a dab of coconut oil, or use a silicone baking mat. 

Heat the coconut oil in a medium bowl until liquid. Add the water, agave, dates, and vanilla and whisk well to combine (there will still be little chunks of dates). Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. 

Add the coconut and date mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate and walnuts. Sprinkle some flour on a cutting board and turn out the batter onto the board. Shape the batter into a large circle; cut the circle in half. Arrange each half into a smaller circle. Cut each circle in half, and then in thirds so that you have six little triangles from each circle, or 12 total. 

Spread the scones evenly across a large baking sheet. Bake for 16 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool, enjoy, and congratulate yourself on being so resourceful.

March 15, 2011

i love my husband.

He cooks:

He makes one hell of a hipster:

He knows how to fix stuff:

He's all-around dreamy:

I mean, the man can dance:

And he loves our dog:

Sigh. Eat your hearts out, ladies. 

March 14, 2011

a really good meal.

I wanted to share one of our favorite go-to dishes that I've been making a lot of lately. It's sort of a different take on a stir fry, but without a lot of the traditional Asian flavors you would expect. This one is made with lots of lemon juice, garlic, toasted pecans, walnuts, and pine nuts, and whatever veg you prefer. This weekend, I made it with broccoli, fresh shitake mushrooms, and zucchini. Top it with some fresh chopped green onions or minced shallot, and a little swig of sriracha, and you've got yourself a really good meal. I made mine vegetarian, but I also love this dish with shrimp or grilled chicken.

Veggie Rice Bowl with Lemon & Nuts
Serves 4

1 cup short grain brown rice
2 cups water
3 T olive oil, divided
1 large head of broccoli
1 cup shitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 cup zucchini squash, cut into large chunks
1 lemon, juiced
2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup each of walnuts, pecan, and pine nuts, toasted
salt + pepper to taste
green onions, diced
dash of sriracha hot sauce (optional)
Cook the rice and the water in a rice cooker or over the stove until nice and tender. 

In a large wok or frying pan, saute the broccoli over medium-high heat until it starts to lightly brown. Add in the shitake mushrooms, zucchini, garlic, half of the lemon juice, and salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, toast all the nuts either in the oven for 7 minutes at 350 degrees, or in a small pan on the stove over medium heat. Once the nuts are nice and toasty, let them cool and then give them a rough chop.

Once the veggies are cooked through, add in the warm rice and turn the heat to low. Squeeze the remaining lemon juice, one T of olive oil, and more salt and pepper to taste. Add in most of the chopped nuts, saving a handful to sprinkle over the top. 

Serve with chopped green onions, more nuts, and a hit of sriracha sauce. 

And now for some cute doggie pictures. 

My second-in-command man, Mater James The Boxer spent the whole weekend with just me while Jason was in Boston visiting a friend. I love this dog. He has such a serious, thoughtful face like he's really trying very hard to understand everything I say because he really just wants to talk, you know? There is a human inside that dog body, I have no doubt about it.

March 5, 2011

Dreams do come true.

There are times in life when you realize how lucky you are. For me, it was last weekend while wandering around on a beautiful beach, stuffing my face with food and sampling wines from all over and meeting famous celebrity chefs. What was this utopia, you ask? The South Beach Wine &Food Festival. And it was heaven, to me. Dreams really do come true.

Thanks to my friend Nicole who works for an advertising agency here in Springfield and had tickets to the event (ever heard of Plugra butter? she's their PR gal) so I got to tag along and pretend like I was all rich and fancy for a weekend. I ate really good food, drank wine and champagne like it was going out of style, and even got a tiny hint of a tan. It was about as much excitement as this Missouri girl could handle.

Ok, get ready for a barrage of photos of me grinning like a 12 year old school girl:

My friend Nicole, the dreams-do-come-true maker

Walking towards the huge tent that was the Bubble Q party (barbecue and champagne)

Teeny tiny Iron Chef Cat Cora

Rick Bayless. Le sigh.

 Let Them Eat Cake Party
 Ace of Cakes!

Geoff of Ace of Cakes, my fave person on the show.

I was third in line for Giada to sign my cookbook. She was adorable and as sweet as could be.
 Shrimp and grits under one of the Grand Tasting tents

 Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Beach Party
 Claire Robinson of Five Ingredient Fix

 The Grand Tasting Village, before the masses of people

The legend himself, Anthony Bourdain. I don't think he was very excited about signing cookbooks.

Did I really get to do that? I also saw cooking demos by Jamie Oliver (!), Bobby Flay, sailor mouth Bethenney Frankel, a slightly belligerent Paula Deen, and Tyler Florence. I can't say that the food they made blew my mind but they were incredibly entertaining. One of the standouts was Claire Robinson's blood orange cake made with only! five! ingredients! If you haven't seen her show, you should really check it out. She's super charming and I love the philosophy behind simple recipes. 

So, in conclusion: beach + sun + food + wine + celebrity chefs = HEAVEN.