Délicieux Régime

Apple Crispness

So we got a ton of apples. And really, there’s only a certain amount you can consume as is before you get really tired of them. This is the apple crisp I’ve been making:

photoI am secretly proud to report that when I make it, it’s gone in one day! :-O (Nobody needs to know that it’s enough for at least 6 people, not 2; oh well!)

Preheat oven to 350 F, butter a glass dish thoroughly.

  • 5-6 giant apples, peeled and sliced
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Mix it up, dump into the glass dish.

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal (quick cooking works)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour (tried different kinds, even mixing tapioca & almond, excellent results)
  • 1/4 melted butter

Mix this up, sprinkle on top of apple mixture. I also like the crunch factor, so whatever nuts I have at home I just pile on as much as I dare.

Bake for about 50 mins, let cool so the juices from apples aren’t quite so runny, and then eat with vanilla bean ice-cream, or Fage yogurt, depending on how healthy it needs to be 😀

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Macaron Madness

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I got hit with the macaron bug. When I tried them a few years back, I didn’t like the taste. I thought something was wrong with me because they look so beautiful and dainty and so are expensive that they MUST taste amazing! After multiple attempts at trying them (even 2 macarons in France when we visited) I gave up. Fast forward a few years: my friend made some, I fell in love, and decided to make some myself. Since I went gluten-free, most of my baking went out the door. This macaron adventure allowed to me to bake and experiment with a plethora of flavors and recipes and ideas.

Lots of recipes were successful, some not so much. My biggest problem was wanting to experiment too much, and macarons are finicky where don’t always approve. I’ve had many fails, here, look:

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But a lot of macarons turned out beautifully.

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However, I would encounter random batches of hollows, or explosions, or whatever, and knew that the recipe wasn’t perfect. Here is a recipe that FINALLY renders consistent results.

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115 grams almond flour (about a cup)

115 grams powdered sugar (about a cup)

99 grams egg whites (about 3 large eggs)

80 grams granulated sugar (about 1/3 cup)

pinch of salt

I highly recommend using a scale to weigh ingredients because egg whites can range A LOT! Also since I sometimes grind up my own almonds, it really helps the amount be accurate and consistent.

Sifting business: the worst part of this whole process. I tried skipping it, I tried whisking it as a shortcut, I tried to throw in the almond flour/powdered sugar into grinder (it’s a tiny coffee grinder) and none of that seemed to do the trick for me. Sifting must be done.  Sometimes I’ll add a few extra grams so whatever doesn’t make it through the sifter can be tossed out or saved for later without me having to grind it & then sift it.

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The egg whites are to be at room temperature, whether they sit out overnight, a little while in warm water, or even having the egg whites microwaved for 5-10 seconds, depending on your microwave. BTW the microwaving helps a lot when it’s a humid day: the moisture gets sucked out after microwaving so there aren’t much problems with the shells drying.

Beat egg whites on medium high for about 30 seconds until foamy, pour in the sugar (& pinch of salt) slowly, increase speed. Beat for another 2-3 mins until it looks like this:

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Make sure to not overbeat where the egg whites start falling apart. It looks like a broken sand castle at that point. BTW if you reach that state, don’t stress too much, just add some egg white to the mixture and take out a bit of the over mixed portion (try to keep it about the same amount) and mix it in. It usually fixes the problem.

Add about half of the flour mixture to the egg whites, gently mix it in with a rubber spatula. Once it’s somewhat incorporated, add the other half and do the same thing. When all the dry ingredients are wet, you can mix/fold more vigorously. The macaronage process is the official fancy term for this. I take the spatula and drag out the batter against the sides of the bowl, then scrape it back in and repeat a few times. When the batter starts looking beautiful you want to slow down. It will flow slowly off the spatula. If it’s flowing too fast, yeah I’m sorry, too bad: the batch is ruined. You’ll get flat macarons that will still taste good but they won’t look like they’re supposed to. It’s supposed to be like thick pancake batter. I have never seen lava in real life so I can’t say it needs to have lava-like consistency (which so many macaron blogs state).
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Pour/scrape the batter into a pastry bag or zip lock bag.

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Pipe out circles onto parchment paper or silpats. I printed a template of circles for myself that I made in Word and use it underneath the mats. Parchment paper bakes macarons a minute faster.

IMG_0270After they’ve been piped, tap the sheet a few times against the counter to flatten out & eliminate any air bubbles and then WALK AWAY. Let the macarons rest until they’ve hardened and have a little skin on tip. Basically when you touch them, it’s dry, and won’t leave any batter on your finger. Sometimes this takes as quick as 15 minutes, other days it could an hour. If it’s super humid, expect to wait over 2 hours for them to dry. Thus the microwave trick for the egg whites when you know it’s humid outside. Then preheat the oven to 295. My oven temperature is inaccurate; I actually set it to 275 but the thermometer reads 295. Buying the thermometer saved me lots of trouble. It costs about $4 at Safeway. Bake the macarons for about 13-14 minutes. When you try to lift if off the parchment paper and it lifts up, it’s done. On the silpat you won’t be able to lift it so don’t try that method to test if it’s ready. Wiggle the top of a macaron; if it’s very wobbly then it’s not ready, if it’s quite sturdy then it’s done. Let them sit and cool off on the pan before taking them off.

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Fillings can be numerous! I’ll have another post for several different kinds of fillings, but the main point is to fill the macarons, put them in an AIRTIGHT container and stick them in the fridge. They need to mature to have the flavor fully take over the macaron shells. Eat them the next day!

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Spicy BBQ Beef Lasagna

So I had been wanting to make lasagna for the longest time, and I FINALLY found some gluten-free lasagna noodles. I began following a basic lasagna recipe but then ended up with a whole different twist.

I cooked some beef in the slow cooker with spicy BBQ sauce until it was very soft and pulled it apart. The next day the leftovers went into this lasagna.

 

  • 1 package lasagna noodles, cooked
  • BBQ beef, pulled apart (approximately 2 cups I think)
  • 3 cups pasta sauce
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups shredded mixed cheese
  • Montreal steak seasoning
  • cheddar cheese slices

 

Mix the bell pepper, pasta sauce, and beef together. Mix ricotta cheese, egg, shredded cheese and the seasoning together. Place about a third of meat sauce mixture into a pan. Layer with noodles, cheese mixture, meat sauce mixture. Again, noodles, cheese, meat sauce. Finally top with noodles, whatever is left from cheese mixture and place cheddar slices on top.
Cover with oiled foil, bake for 45 mins and remove foil; bake for 15 mins more. I like to turn the oven to Broil the last few minutes to get the final crispy cheese texture.

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I made 2 smaller lasagnas so I could freeze one for later.

photo 3Not a photogenic food item but oh so delicious!

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Curly Guy Cake

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I have no clue how this cake got it’s name but that’s what we called it in Ukraine.

Here is the list of ingredients:

Cake

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 200 grams sour cream (a bit less than 1 cup)
  • 1 tsp baking soda, with a few drops vinegar
  • 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cup flour (I used my gluten-free mix from Costco)

Frosting

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 375.

Mix everything and divide batter in half. Add a spoon of cocoa to one half, mix. Pour into two pans (really it’s up to you what shape, how big, etc.)

Bake for approximately 15 minutes (depending on size of pans and how much batter is in them), until the white batter is golden and slightly puffed up. Check by inserting toothpick in center and if it comes out clean, it’s ready.

Cut up one of the cakes into pieces, dip into frosting mixture and pile on top of the other cake. Drizzle with chocolate syrup or caramel and sprinkle toasted chopped nuts on top. Refrigerate.

*Note: I forgot to check if I had all the ingredients before I began making this, and apparently I was almost out of sour cream. I replaced the rest of what I needed with the Fage Greek yogurt and it turned out perfectly delicious!

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I poured a bit more into the cake that will be chopped into pieces.

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The smaller the pieces the more frosting will be needed; I think I had to make a bit more than what was called for in the recipe.

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Layer the pieces.

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Final assembled cake. I love the fact that I didn’t need to put in effort into decorating it! It’s supposed to have a messy look 🙂

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Banana Nut Muffins

I ran into a tasty-looking banana pecan muffin recipe online:

http://verascooking.com/2014/03/02/banana-pecan-muffins/

Lo and behold, I had some extra bananas so I made them, only with gluten-free flour.

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 c. toasted pecans
  • 2 bananas
  • 5 Tbs milk
  • 2 Tbs melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • (I didn’t use vanilla or flax seeds since I had neither)

Mix dry ingredients, wet ingredients, combine, bake at 375 for 20-25 mins. I made 6 large muffins & 6 mini muffins. Without liners there is more crunch which I enjoy more 🙂

Purchased at Costco

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Brazilian Cheese Bread

So far the only food I’ve been “craving” is Brazilian Cheese Bread. I was first introduced to this deliciousness at a Brazilian restaurant. They brought a little tray of fluffy, light, breaded goodness, that I WAS ALLOWED TO HAVE! Instead of wheat flour, it was made with tapioca flour.

Then my husband discovered a Brazilian cafe a few miles away, so whenever the opportunity presents itself, off we go to get me some Brazilian cheese bread.

After googling for recipes, I discovered they are also called Pão de Queijo, or Brazilian cheese balls, or puffs. I found a recipe here, and this is the recipe I followed:

 

1 egg, room temp

1/3 cup olive oil

2/3 cup milk

1 1/2 cup tapioca flour (bought at Safeway)

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put all ingredients in blender, blend. Generously grease muffin pan and pour in batter. Bake 15-20 mins.

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Very runny batter.

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Nicely rising halfway through.

 

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Completely puffed up! (Yes they are hollow inside because of this)

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The final product. I cannot explain how tasty this is: it’s cheesy, light, and the perfect amount of parmesan flavor. The amount of batter I had was enough for at least 2 batches of mini cupcake forms.

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Best Truffles

I was commissioned to make some truffles for a bake sale. Normally I’m not a fan of truffles because they are too sweet or too buttery or too… something. But since these tasted so good, they earned a right to be mentioned.

Recipe is from Kraft Foods.

  • 1 pkg (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 pkg (4 oz. each) BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, broken into pieces, melted
  • 1.5 tsp  vanilla

Beat cream cheese, slowly add powdered sugar, add melted chocolate and vanilla. Blend well, refrigerate for at least an hour. Shape into balls, roll in whatever goodness you have in your kitchen, place into mini cupcake liners, and store in the fridge.

 

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Avocado Eggs

Something weird I noticed after eating avocados for a week. The dry skin I have in certain areas went away! Maybe I needed fats and moisturizer from the inside as opposed to the outside?
Anyways, I normally don’t eat deviled eggs because they have mayo in them, and I am picky to the degree where I will not eat mayo. So here’s my version of deviled eggs, WITHOUT mayo!

Cook eggs, cool them, shell, cut in half. Put yolks into dish, add as much soft avocado as you want, season with salt and pepper. Place in piping bag and fill in the whites! Viola! Deliciousness!

 

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Carrot Cupcakes (GF)

We had an enormous bag of carrots that was having difficulty being emptied. After eating shredded carrots with sugar, putting plenty of carrots into chicken noodle soup, and eating plain carrots as a snack, I wanted something more. I found a recipe here which I slightly improvised and made into cupcakes.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1/4 cup sweetened toasted coconut
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the sugar & eggs, add oil. Mix the dry ingredients and add to the first mixture. Then add nuts, carrots, coconut and raisins. Grease mini cupcake pans and fill 3/4 full.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, depending on how dark you want them. Insert toothpick in center to ensure doneness.

I enjoyed eating them just like this, without frosting. Later I used the Betty Crocker can of cream cheese frosting, whipped it up, and decorated the top.

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Baked Sweet Rice Casserole

Today I craved a sweet rice dish that my friend’s mom used to make. It was a golden rice dish, right out of the oven, and it was so incredibly delicious that I would ignore my stomach’s full warnings and keep on eating it.
So after Googling a few key words, I realized that there is a plethora of sweet rice dishes. There was one way to solve that problem: talk to my friend’s mom! She gave me a recipe, and no they were not in exact measurements, just what the ingredients were, and approximately how to throw it all together. That’s OK; I was happy. Here is my attempt at making this amazing dish.

  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 2 cups milk

Bring this to a boil, and then simmer, for a total of 20 minutes. Add:

  • 3 Tbs honey
  • 1 egg + 1 Tbs sugar, beaten

Mix all this together, transfer to a glass dish, and place into a 350 degree oven. Bake until golden. I wanted to add some raisins because I remember those used to be in the original dish, but since I didn’t have any, I added dried blueberries (nope, not the same thing). After tasting this dish, I decided I probably needed to add another 1/2 cup of  milk, to make it more creamy, and perhaps more honey, because it didn’t turn out quite as golden as how I remember it. Nevertheless, the taste is incredible 🙂
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