Monday, March 31, 2014

Picky About My Dogs

Do you like hot dogs? Hot dogs are normally relegated to my bonfire or camping menus as in - I'll buy them when I need something quick and portable, but I don't normally buy them for eating at home. And when I do get them, I'm pretty picky about what I buy.

I make sure they are 100% grass-fed beef with no fillers. I have also been on the no-nitrate/nitrite train for quite awhile. Recently a friend told me that there are nitrates/nitrites found in sea salt and celery powder. Okay. Then, I started noticing a shift in labeling. Product packaging now read: no nitrates or nitrites added except for those naturally occurring in sea salt and celery powder. Maybe it's always read that way. But I just started noticing it.

Thankfully, there are several options between Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and reputable local butchers. As always - just read the labels. What do you look for when you purchase meat?

Garbanzo Bean Allergy?!?

Have you ever heard of anyone being allergic to garbanzo beans?! I haven't. But that's the only conclusion I can come to from this...

Okay, this photo - of D crying - is an old photo, but his face looked exactly the same as this last night after he ate two fresh garbanzo beans. Just two.

Poor baby. But that's my body's reaction to fava, sadly. Tummy ache. Cramping. Gassy. Ugh.

I know he's had cooked garbanzo beans before...and hummus with no problems. But we'll steer clear of fresh garbanzos for him. That's fine. More for the rest of us.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fresh Garbanzo Beans

The last time I was at Whole Foods, I saw some fresh garbanzo beans. Intrigued, I picked some up when Riley and I were there again today. From what I read, they are similar to edamame. But instead of steaming them, I decided to do a quick saute for a mid-afternoon snack. Delicious! I am now a fan!

  • fresh garbanzo beans
  • olive oil
  • fleur de sel 

Rinse and dry your garbanzo beans. Leave them in their husks. Heat olive oil in a large, flat-bottom pan. Add the beans, cooking on a medium heat and agitating them every couple of minutes.

After 5 to 7 minutes, the husks will be nicely toasted.

Drain the beans on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Serve them on a platter, sprinkled with some fleur de sel.

Edible Origami {My Hungry Scientist}

The Precise Kitchen Elf's second project from The Hungry Scientist Handbook: Electric Birthday Cakes,Edible Origami, and Other DIY Projects for Techies, Tinkerers, and Foodies by Patrick Buckley and Lily Binns: Edible Origami!

There is no real recipe. But here's the process...

Fold wonton wrappers into whatever origami shapes you want. We did frogs, cranes, airplanes, and snails.


Lay your origami on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray the pieces with cooking oil. We used olive oil.

Bake until crisped and browned. The thinner pieces were done in 12-15 minutes. The thicker folded pieces took an additional 5 minutes. Keep a close eye so that they do not burn.

Sprinkle with salt. Eat and enjoy!!

Fizzy Lemonade {My Hungry Scientist}

The Precise Kitchen Elf is on a mission - to cook from his The Hungry Scientist Handbook: Electric Birthday Cakes,Edible Origami, and Other DIY Projects for Techies, Tinkerers, and Foodies by Patrick Buckley and Lily Binns - and he's whipping up some mad scientist kitchen fun this afternoon. First up: Fizzy Lemonade. He adapted the recipe because he wanted to use agave syrup.

Ingredients makes 4 servings

  • juice from 1 organic lemon
  • 2 C cold water
  • 1/3 C blue agave nectar
  • 4 1" pieces of dry ice
  • pre-chilled glasses

Measure out all of your ingredients. Pour the lemon juice, water, and blue agave nectar into a jar.

Gently shake the jar to mix the nectar into the juice and water. Now for the fun part...

Pour the lemonade into pre-chilled glasses. Wearing gloves and using tongs, cut 1" pieces of dry ice from the chunk.

Carefully drop the dry ice into the lemonade

 Sit back and watch the magic!

Enjoy the fizzy result!

My Hungry Scientist

We gave this cookbook to the Precise Kitchen Elf for Christmas. The Hungry Scientist Handbook: Electric Birthday Cakes,Edible Origami, and Other DIY Projects for Techies, Tinkerers, and Foodies by Patrick Buckley and Lily Binns.

Today, he wanted to start playing. So, we did. Stay tuned for some hungry scientist capers...this book even got my cooking-averse husband across the threshold of the kitchen.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lemon-Honey Tart with Salted Shortbread Crust

For the Crust
1-1/2 C flour (I used more of the complimentary Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour I had received from the sponsors of this year's #BrunchWeek)
1/2 C Bob's Red Mill Hazelnut Meal Flour*
1/2 C softened butter
1/2 C organic, coconut sugar
1/4 C olive oil
1 T cold water
2 pinches of fleur de sel

*another complimentary product I received with which I am now completely enamored

For the Filling
4 organic Meyer lemons
1/2 C organic powdered sugar
2 T honey (I used a local pine honey)
8 T butter
8 large egg yolks
dark chocolate

For the Filling
Juice the lemons. Combine the juice, powdered sugar, honey and butter. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile beat the yolks. Add 1/3 of the boiling liquid to the beaten yolks then add the mixture back into the boiling liquid. Continue beating over medium heat until it thickens. Be careful not to let the curd boil or it will scramble. Pour the curd into a bowl and press plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a film from forming. Chill completely. 

For the Crust
Mix the whole wheat pastry flour, hazelnut meal flour, sugar and salt; rub in the butter with olive oil until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in 1 tablespoon of water with a fork until the mixture forms a ball. Roll out between two pieces of parchment paper. Press gently into a tart pan. Stick in the freezer while the oven heats. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350, or until a light golden brown. Let cool completely.

To Assemble Tart
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler until smooth. Spread a layer of chocolate over the baked tart crust. Let set. Spoon the chilled filling over the chocolate layer.

Slice thin slivers. This is a rich dessert! I served this at our Meant to BEE honey-themed baby shower brunch. One response: "I'd prefer it without the chocolate." I agree. That'll be coming up soon! Stay tuned.

Honey-Candied Lemon Slices

I've candied lemons many, many times...but I've never candied them in honey. I decided to give it a shot for a honey-themed baby shower. Easy!


  • 1 C water
  • 1/2 C organic coconut sugar
  • 4 T honey (I used a local pine honey)
  • 6 organic Meyer lemons, thinly sliced

Place the water, honey, and coconut sugar in a pan and bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar is completely dissolved. Lay the slices in the syrup so that they are all flat and all submerged. Simmer until the rind is softened and translucent in places. Approximately 5-7 minutes. Remove from the syrup with a slotted spoon and set aside.

You'll see these on an appetizer for the Meant to BEE baby shower brunch. Delish.

Meant to BEE, a Honey-Themed Baby Shower Brunch

I love creating themed menus! So, when a friend and I decided to co-host a baby shower for one of our other friends, we tossed around a couple of ideas. The mamma-to-be liked the honey theme! Done. Here's the menu. Recipe posts in progress.

Bruschetta with Lemon, Basil, Honey & Marscarpone
Roasted Eggplant Dip with Feta and Honey
Honey-Yogurt Parfaits with Granola and Fresh Mint
Greens with Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette
Honey-Glazed Chicken and Pork
Lemon-Honey Tart with Salted Shortbread Crust
Honey Truffles
Honey-Herb Soda
Honey Lemonade

Olive Oil Chocolate Cake

After a full day of adventuring, our 10-year-old informed us that we had to have a cake for our anniversary. Jake just looked at me and shrugged. So, I looked at what I had brought with us to the cabin in the snow and made this dessert. Thanks to Bob's Red Mill for the Whole Wheat Pastry Flour; they sent me a complimentary bag for participating in an upcoming brunch event - #BrunchWeek! I loved it and will definitely be using it more often.

Taskmaster Dyn was pleased. Fourteen years. Happy anniversary, my Love.

  • 2 C organic coconut sugar
  • 1¾ C Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¾ C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ t baking soda
  • 1 ½ t baking powder
  • 1 t fleur de sel
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C organic milk
  • ½ C olive oil
  • 2 T red wine
  • 1 C boiling water
  • 1 C chocolate chunks
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking dish with parchment paper and butter. I used two 8” round pans.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together coconut sugar, whole wheat pastry flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in the eggs, milk, olive oil, and wine. Whisk till smooth and slightly aerated.  Stir in the boiling water.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 40-45 minutes in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan before inverting and cooling completely.

To assemble a layered cake, trim the layers evening. I frosted mine with an Easy Chocolate Frosting.

Pia's Honey-Herb Concoction

When Pia and I were planning a honey-themed baby shower for one of our best friends, Pia agreed to do the drinks and a salad. I love that I can send her links and it just magically appears at the party. Thanks, P!

Here's the recipe she used: Not Without Salt's Honey Herb Soda.

And here's what it looked like...beautiful. Cheers!

Honey Truffles with Bee Pollen

Honey Ganache
makes approximately 5 dozen truffles
  • 3-1/4 C 72% cacao chocolate, chopped
  • 2 C organic heavy cream
  • 3 T butter, softened
  • 2 T honey (I used a local avocado honey)

1. Place chopped chocolate and honey in a large mixing bowl.  In a medium saucepan, bring cream to a boil.  Pour boiling cream over the chocolate.  Let sit for three minutes, then whisk until smooth.  Stir in butter.

2. Refrigerate until firm - at least two hours. I left mine overnight.

Line a cookie sheet or tray with parchment paper or foil.

With a tablespoon or tablespoon scoop, scoop chilled ganache from your bowl and place on the lined tray.

Refrigerate for a minimum of 15 minutes. (I let them chill for about 30 minutes.)

For chocolate-dipped to temper chocolate...
Place half of your chipped chocolate (I didn't measure, but you can just repeat the process if you run out of chocolate) in a double-boiler and, over low heat, warm until melted. Remove from heat and stir in the other half of the chocolate. Set aside until the chocolate begins to lose its shine; it's beginning to crystallize. Then, return the chocolate to the double-boiler and warm, over very low heat, until smooth and glossy.

Dip chilled truffles in the melted chocolate, one at a time.  You may use a candy dipping tool, but I just use a two-toothpick combo. Dip the truffle quickly into the melted chocolate and shake off the excess.  Place on the parchment-lined tray and use another toothpick to nudge the truffle off of the toothpick.  Dip the toothpick back into the melted chocolate and use a dab of chocolate to cover up any imperfections.

To garnish these, I sprinkled them with some bee pollen...and let them set. These were a fitting end to a honey-themed baby shower brunch I co-hosted today.

Roasted Eggplant Dip with Feta and Honey

I love eggplant and wanted to make an eggplant-honey dip for a honey-themed baby shower I was co-hosting. I started with my recipe for Melitzanosalata and went from there. 

2 large eggplants
juice from 1 Meyer lemon
1/4 C diced onions
2 diced shallots
1/4 C olive oil + splash for sauteeing
2 T honey (I used a local pine honey)
1 T minced cilantro
1 T minced basil
1/2 C crumbled feta, divided into 1/4 C portions
freshly ground salt
freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Slice eggplant in half, sprinkling with salt and pepper and drizzling with olive oil to coat the entire cut surface. Place them in a roasting pan, cut side down, cover with foil, and bake for 60-70 minutes. Let cool until they can be handled. Scoop out all the insides into large mixing bowl.

In a large, flat-bottom pan, add onions and shallots. Saute in a splash of olive oil until translucent. Add the onion mixture, herbs, lemon juice 1 T honey, and 1/4 C feta to the eggplant. Stir to combine. Season to taste. Drizzle with another tablespoon of honey and top with the remaining feta. Serve with slices of bread.

Easy Chocolate Frosting

Jake and I celebrated our 14th anniversary while we were out of town this week. D insisted that we have a's not a party without cake, right?! So, after a hike out to Royal Gorge, building a snowman family, and an epic snowball fight, I whipped this up...

  • 3 C organic powdered sugar
  • ¾ C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • ¼ to ½ C organic milk
  • splash of red wine

Sift together sugar and cocoa. Set aside. Cream together the butter and splash of wine. Add in 1 C of the sugar-cocoa mixture, then 1 T of milk. Mix and repeat until all of the sugar-cocoa has been added. If the frosting is too thick, thin it out with more milk. I ended up using about ½ C milk.

Frost cooled cake immediately. Let set for about 20 minutes before serving.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Banana Mousse with Alegio Chocolate

When I was looking for a dessert from Sao Tome and Principe, I found a recipe for banana mousse and decided to garnish it with chocolate from Sao Tome – Alegio Chocolate. This recipe is so easy and so tasty. We liked it so much that we made it twice in two days while we were in the mountains.

  • 2 C organic heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ C organic coconut sugar
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • Splash of pure vanilla extract

In a medium mixing bowl, mash the bananas  and sugar together until you get an even puree. Stir in a splash of vanilla.

In a large mixing bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. 

Fold the banana mixture into the whipped cream.

Spoon the mousse into serving glasses. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes. To serve, garnish with shavings of chocolate. 

On night two, D and R made the mousse; they wanted to garnish with banana slices as the shaved chocolate.