Zucchini and Basil Sautee

Zucchini chopped into bite sized pieces.

Zucchini chopped into bite sized pieces.

This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy all the zucchini that’s super fresh right now.  And it’s really easy, just some time and a few ingredients and you’ve got a healthy delicious side dish or meal to go picnicking with!

Ingredients:

Zucchini

Onion

Butter and/or Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Basil

Shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese

Method:

Chop up some onion, I usually use about a 1 to 4 ratio of onion to zucchini.

Add the chopped onion, a few pinches of salt (go easy on the salt if you plan to add cheese to the finished dish, which I highly recommend!) and a healthy dose of butter and olive oil to a heavy bottom pan, the wider the pan the better.   You’ll start with a lot of fat in the pan to cook the onions and then when you add the zucchini you can decide if you need to add more.  Cook the onions on medium heat.

While the onions cook, chop your zucchini.  I make some pieces smaller than others so when it cooks, the smaller bits get mushy and the larger bits keep their shape so you don’t end up with baby food.  Or maybe you end up with baby food, it’s really delicious either way!

Start with chopped onion and plenty of butter.

Start with chopped onion and plenty of butter.

When the onions begin to look translucent, add in the zucchini, some black pepper and saute, stirring all the while, til smushy and starting to brown on med to medium high heat.

Sautee the zucchini and onions

Saute the zucchini and onions

Once you’ve cooked the zucchini down, it will release a lot of water, so plan on stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes til you get a nice, thick consistency.  Take it off the heat and serve topped with fresh chopped basil and shredded hard cheese like Romano.  This tastes great warm or at room temperature and makes a nice take along meal for picnic’s or pot lucks.

Topped with cheese and ready to eat or take on a picnic!

Topped with cheese and ready to eat or take on a picnic!

Carrot Cupcakes

Cute carrot muffins ready to eat!

Cute carrot cupcakes ready to eat!

I have tried out several carrot cake and carrot muffin recipes and I think I’ve finally come up with the perfect combination the natural sweetness of the carrots and coconut make for a moist cupcake you can eat for breakfast, snack time or yes, desert!  If you have a Cuisinart, shredding the carrots will take no time at all.

Ingredients:

Dry-

1 cup almond flour

1/2 cup coconut flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

dash of allspice

2 teaspoons lemon zest

Wet-

3 large eggs

1 Tablespoon mayo

1 teaspoon vanilla

2-4 dropperfuls liquid stevia, to taste

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup milk- almond, coconut, soy or cow’s milk

Mix in last-

2 cups grated carrots

1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

 

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 and grease a  muffin tin for 12 with coconut oil or butter.

Grate 2 cups of carrots and set aside.

Combine all the dry ingredients, work out any lumps and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and mayo together on high speed for about 3 minutes til nice and frothy.

Add the stevia, vanilla (or use vanilla stevia!), cooled, melted coconut oil and the milk and whip together to combine.

Add the dry ingredients and mix well to combine.

Taste test for sweetness, add more stevia if needed.

Fold in the carrot and coconut.  Add up to 1/4 cup more milk if need, the batter should be thick but moist.

Scoop into the prepared muffin tin.  I like to use a small ice cream scoop to get evenly sized muffins with round tops!

Bake at 350 for 22-26 minutes, til cooked though and lightly browned.

Store muffins an air tight container in the fridge.

Makes 12 muffins each one is about 190 calories, 15 grams of healthy, filling fats, 4 grams fiber, 4 grams net carbs and 5.5 grams of protein.  These are an excellent snack, breakfast or dessert and a great way to get your kids to eat an extra serving of veggies while making them think they are eating a cupcake!

 

 

Curry Fire Cider Marinade

This past Father’s Day weekend I did what all good children do: grilled with my dad!  It was really fun, especially since I was trying out a new marinade that Chef and Butcher James Burden recommended to me.   I went to Berkshire Organics in Dalton to stock up on everything we needed for dinner.  I picked up fresh, organic veggies: eggplant really soaks up marinade so it’s great for grilling, plus onions, zucchini and some red and orange bell peppers.

Red Apple Butchers, at Berkshire Organics, had 30 day, dry aged steaks, so I had to try a few of those.  And I also bought about 2 and 1/2 pounds of chicken thighs with the skin on.  Here’s the marinade recipe plus a bonus curry mix from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything, which is as useful as it sounds.   Last week I wrote to Mr. Bittman about Fire Cider and his assistant wrote me back saying she had tried it the last time she was in the Berkshires and would be happy to share a sample bottle with her boss.  How cool is that?!

Marinade for 2-3 pounds of Chicken 

Yes, of course you can use this marinade on tofu, fish or veggies.  For fish and veggies, about 20 minutes in the marinade will do.  For meat, like the chicken, make the marinade the day before and let the meat marinate overnight.  I made double this recipe, one half for the chicken and one half for the veggies.

Ingredients:

a generous 1/4 cup unsweetened Fire Cider

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons salt

1 big tablespoon fragrant curry powder blend (see photo below for the recipe! Yes, you can use store bought as well.)

a pinch of asafoetida

a pinch of chipolte pepper

1 teaspoon garam masala

 

Method:

First, make up the fragrant curry powder blend, this will make enough for this recipe plus plenty left over for all your curry spice needs, it’s awesome on kale chips!

Whole spices ready to toast.

Whole spices ready to toast.

Keep 'um moving, toasty and fragrant!

Keep ‘um moving, toasty and fragrant!

Use a small spice grinder to turn toasted spices into powder and then add powdered ginger and turmeric.  Homemade curry powder!

Use a small spice grinder to turn toasted spices into powder and then add powdered ginger and turmeric. Homemade curry powder!

Once you’ve made the curry blend,  combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl.

Yes, that's a gallon of Fire Cider. Beware the underdose!

Yes, that’s my personal gallon of unsweetened Fire Cider. Beware the underdose!

Pour all the marinade over the chicken and marinate over night in a sealed bag or sealed container.

The next day, when you are ready to cook, remove the chicken, discard any leftover marinade and grill the chicken til it’s done!

For veggies: chop bite sized pieces of onion, bell peppers, zucchini and eggplant, make up more marinade and marinate for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to coat each piece.  Slide onto skewers and grill with the chicken.

Grill ready chicken, veggies and steak.

Grill ready chicken, veggies and steak.

The 30 day dry aged steaks were perfect as is so I let them sit out at room temp for about an hour, lightly salted them and then grilled them for a few minutes on each side for perfectly rare, melt in your mouth awesomeness.

Happy grilling, all summer long!

Happy grilling, all summer long!

Non Dairy Milk Alternatives

Don’t get me wrong, I love cow’s milk in its many forms: cheese, creme fraiche, Ayelada!  And I’d say that when you consume cultured whole milk dairy, from cows, goats or sheep, that have been raised humanly on an organic diet optimal for each breed, dairy counts as health food, in proper amounts, of course!  Unfortunately, like many of us, I don’t have the necessary enzymes to digest lactose, or milk sugars, present in raw dairy.  I’m ok with cultured cream or cheese but plain milk, no way!

Raw cow's milk in glass bottles from Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown, MA

Raw cow’s milk in glass bottles from Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown, MA

So, what should you drink in place of dairy milk?  I used almond milk for a long time since I’m allergic to soy due to years of eating highly processed vegetarian soy products, consider yourself warned, those are not health foods!  Almond milk comes in conventional and organic varieties, in these cardboard boxes, some refrigerated, some shelf stable, all of them with too many questionable ingredients.  And those containers are not recycle-able everywhere the way glass and metal are.  The same goes for the processed coconut milks and other nuts or seed based dairy alternatives.

The packaging is not awesome, the fillers and ingredients are weird and you are paying for water, with flavor.  Anyone can make flavored water!

The packaging is not awesome, the fillers and ingredients are weird and you are paying for water, with flavor. Anyone can make flavored water!

I have made my own almond milk, there’s one good solution.  Way less packaging, especially if you buy almonds in bulk, which you kind of need to in order to make homemade almond milk (or other nut/seed milk) affordable.  And almond prices are going way up since this years crop was a disaster.  My issue with making almond milk myself isn’t just the time, it’s putting the leftover almond pulp to good use.   Even though I have a great almond cracker recipe, totally worth making, it is time-consuming and I don’t really want to eat that many almond crackers each week.  The amount of milk I want to drink far exceeds the amount of leftover pulp I want to eat. And that’s why I haven’t ever gotten into the habit of making my own and my guess is most folks don’t either for many of the same reasons.  But I also no longer want to buy almond flavored water with junk in it!

The answer to the milk alternative issue is so simple I’m wondering how I could have overlooked it for so long: Canned, organic coconut milk and filtered water combine to make…coconut milk.  A non dairy milk that is organic, has minimal recyclable packaging, is nutritious AND it’s fast and easy to make, perfect!  When you make your own coconut based milk there are no weird ingredients or thickeners, and you are paying for some actual nutrition, not flavored water!

Coconut milk has a lot of health benefits to offer!

Coconut milk has a lot of health benefits to offer!

Coconut milk is nutritious?  Isn’t it high in fat?  Yes, and yes, one of the best fats you should consume regularly!  “Coconuts are highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous.

Coconuts contain significant amounts of fat, but unlike other nuts, they provide fat that is mostly in the form of medium chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs) in particular, one called lauric acid. Lauric acid is converted in the body into a highly beneficial compound called monolaurin, an antiviral and antibacterial that destroys a wide variety of disease causing organisms. It is therefore now thought that consumption of coconut milk may help protect the body from infections and viruses.

MCFAs are rapidly metabolized into energy in the liver. It is thought that unlike other saturated fats, MCFAs are used up more quickly by the body and are less likely to be stored as fat.”  -excerpt from Jo Lewin, Nutrtional Therapist on the  Good Food Blog

Two cans of coconut milk will make up to two 64 oz Mason jars.

Two cans of coconut milk will make up to two 64 oz Mason jars.

Organic, canned coconut milk costs me about $1.80 per can from the buying club at my co-op.  I use 1 can to make about 1/2 gallon mason jar of coconut milk, much cheaper than any of the pre-made non dairy milks, organic or otherwise that you can buy in the store.

To make: open one or two cans of organic coconut milk, add one can per 64 oz wide mouth mason jar.  Fill at least halfway with filtered water and blend using an immersion blender.  Add more water to desired consistency.  You can also add: vanilla or another extract and stevia or honey to sweetened things up if that’s your style.  Non dairy milk that’s affordable, organic, easy to make and delicious- let’s drink to your health!

Pudding? Frosting? Pie filling? Yes!

Our friends Megan (massage therapist extraordinaire) and James (one half of Red Apple Butchers) came up with a snack idea that I thought would make an awesome pie filling or frosting.  Or, yes, you can just mix it up and eat it with a spoon.  Let’s start with the star of the show, the cultured dairy pudding:

Ingredients:

This will make enough to fill a 9 in pie crust, frost a one layer 8 in cake or just mix it up and store it in the fridge for the next time you want a serving or two of pudding!

  • 2 cups creme fraiche or whole milk, unsweetened Greek style yogurt or use a little of each.  The creme fraiche is easy to make yourself and adds a nice tangy flavor.  The cream also whips up nicely for added lightness to this rich food.
  •  1 cup smooth nut butter, any one of these are delicious: almond, hazelnut or peanut butter
  • 3-4 dropperfuls of Whole Foods brand vanilla stevia
  • 2-3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
The nut butter sank to the bottom, all the ingredients ready for blending!

Creme fraiche and cocoa powder are so good together!

Method:

Add all the ingredients to a big bowl and use a mixer to whip them together into a smooth, fluffy bowl of deliciousness.   Taste and add more stevia or cocoa powder to your liking.  The mixture will be like pudding, you can make it thicker by adding more nut butter or thinner by adding plain heavy cream or more creme fraiche.

Now you have a cultured dairy pudding snack.  Which you can eat right now or use to frost a cake or cookies!

But, wait, what about making a cream pie?  Chill your pudding in the fridge while you get to baking.

Set your oven to 350

Chocolate Hazelnut Pudding Pie

Chocolate Hazelnut Pudding Pie

 Pie Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Blanched Almond Flour- I always use Bob’s Red Mill Brand
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted pasture butter
  • 1 large organic farm egg
  • a pinch of salt

Method:

Blend all of the ingredients together in a food processor.

Press the dough evenly into a 9 in pie plate and bake at 350 for 10-14 min, until firm and starting to brown.

Cool the crust completely and then add  the above pie filling.

Refrigerate the pie for at least an hour before serving.

When it’s time for pie, whip up 6-8 ounces of fresh cream.

Cover the top of the pie completely with the whipped cream and top with chopped roasted nuts and maybe even some chopped dark chocolate.  Sugar free has never tasted this good!

Yes please!

Yes please!

Almond Tea Cookies or Pie Crust

These sweet little cookies can be made many different ways, including into pie crust!  Easy and quick to make, these are nice afternoon snack or after dinner treat.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Blanched Almond Flour- I always use Bob’s Red Mill Brand
  • 2-3 Tablespoons unsalted pasture butter, use 2 Tablespoons for pie crust and 3 for cookies
  • 1 large organic farm egg
  • a pinch of salt

Stop right there if you want to make pie crust.

Or

Add any of the following combinations for cookies:

  • a splash of rose water, a sprinkle of cardamom and vanilla stevia to taste- about 2-3 dropperfuls of Whole Foods brand vanilla stevia
  • a teaspoon of cinnamon, a tablespoon of ginger, vanilla stevia to taste
  • lemon  or lime zest and vanilla stevia to taste
My friend Bobbie made these cookies for a tea party, wordy icing optional!

My friend Bobbie made these cookies for a tea party, wordy icing optional!

Method:

Blend all of the ingredients together in a food processor.

For pie crust: press the dough evenly into a 9 in pie plate and bake at 350 for 10-14 min, until firm and starting to brown.  Cool and add pie filling, then bake or refrigerate as called for in your pie recipe.

For cookies: scoop out dough by the tablespoon and form into flattened rounds.  Bake at 350 for 18-22 min, til they are starting to brown lightly.  Enjoy making these simple tea cookies with many different flavorings!

 

 

Updated Egg Salad

I love this new version of  egg salad that Heidi posted on her blog 101 Cookbooks, which if you don’t already rely on it for great recipes, now you know!  This is a nice, light update on a familiar classic, perfect for a new light filled season.

Here’s her recipe, I didn’t want to change a thing!

Perfectly cooked eggs

Perfectly cooked eggs

Ingredients:

6 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 small head of radicchio, shredded
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 medium shallot, chopped
3 baby radishes, shaved thin

to serve: little dollop of salted creme fraiche and/or a drizzle of olive oil.

Method:

“Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by a 1/2-inch or so. Bring to a gentle boil. Now turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for ten minutes (a couple minutes longer than I normally do). Have a big bowl of ice water ready and when the eggs are done cooking place them in the ice bath for three minutes or so – long enough to stop the cooking. Crack and peel each egg, then use the big holes on a standard box grater to grate the eggs. Place in a bowl and use your fingers to gently toss the eggs with the salt and pepper. At this point you can add whatever you like to the salad – I tossed in shredded radicchio, fresh dill, shallots, and shaved baby radishes. Serve topped with tiny dollops of something creamy – like creme fraich or plain yogurt, and a drizzle of olive oil. Just a bit of each so you don’t weigh it down.”

Serves 2-4.

Prep time: 5 min – Cook time: 10 min

Serve this salad on top of homemade flax crackers or store bought flax crackers!

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