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Tuesday
Nov192013

Fry, Bake, Sautée, Dress, Marinate, Grill and Roast a Pumpkin

Just in time for your Thanksgiving preparations, we bring to you our ULTIMATE PUMPKIN GUIDE (did you hear an echo?)! 

I produced this for Colavita as an Olive Oil Guide. The Olive Oil Guide is a seasonal quarterly that offers healthy recipes (well, we do stick a fry recipe in there...) based around one seasonal ingredient. This season's special ingredient is.... PUMPKIN.

Within the pages of this magazine, you will find recipes that instruct you on grilling, frying, roasting, sautéeing, baking, dressing, and marinating with pumpkin and pumpkin parts.

They are all delicious (I should know, I personally tested them). One of my favorites is the glamorous cover recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes:

You can also watch a short instructional video here:

Other highlights include Pumpkin Marinated Chicken:

And a very handy-dandy chart on how to replace butter with heart-healthy olive oil in your recipes:

Colavita is also running a contest in conjunction with this pumpkin recipe book. You can learn all about it on Facebook, but you can win a trip to Italy...so that's pretty cool.

Download the full recipe book here, and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

 

Friday
Oct042013

Forbidden Donuts

It was September 22nd and I was sitting on the floor of my parents' basement, unpacking from my London trip. I was rifling through my suitcase, pulling out all my race gear: heartrate monitor, aero helmet, running shoes stuffed with a finisher's medal and assorted GU's...

I lined all these things up on the floor and just stared at them. And then I started to cry. Real tears! Why?

Let's be clear: I had just disembarked from an international flight in which I had spent the duration of seven hours:

1. Watching the Karate Kid.

2. Poking a travesty of an airline BBQ chicken chunk with a plastic fork, willing it to be something better than what it was.

3. Begging my eardrums not to burst due to a raging sinus infection.

I was clearly not in good form.

The sight of my squished and useless racing flats stuffed with gooey carbs that I no longer required pushed me over the edge much like that unpainted fence post for Daniel-Son. Except now, the final tourney was over.

So I cried because it felt like the end of a relationship, rather than the end of a racing season. I had spent a year prepping for this race. A year of mental Olympics, early mornings, injuries, sweat and not eating things like donuts.

And so now I'm on the other side...the "off season", and even though I can stuff my face full of donuts, sleep in, and take it easy a bit, it feels like a loss somehow. At least for now.

So I am approaching those forbidden donuts with caution, much like my off season. Instead of committing to the full-fledged fried version, I baked them. And made them mini-sized. And gluten-free!

At the very least, this slightly healthier version makes me think I really CAN stuff my face full of them while sleeping in to the barbaric hour of 7am.

Go on...eat one...No, I shouldn't....Well, maybe just one. Or twelve...

Gluten Free, BAKED Cider Mini Donuts (for your on and off again season).

Recipe adapted from this one.

What You Need:
2 cups of apple cider, preferably freshly pressed; boiled down to yield 2/3 cups and cooled

8 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1 cup coconut sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

½ cup almond or coconut milk

1 3/4 cups sweet sorghum flour

1 3/4 cups gluten free oat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground if possible

For the topping:

2 tablespoons melted butter (or coconut butter)

2 tablespoons coconut sugar

1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

What You Do:

NOTE: I used a Sunbeam mini-donut maker. But you can pop them in the oven, too.

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
 
In a food processor, cream the butter.  Add the coconut sugar and cream together.

Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition.

Add the milk and reduced apple cider. Mix to combine.

In a separate bowl sift together the dry ingredients: flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients (in the food processor) 1/4 cup at a time, mixing after each addition.

Prepare donut pans or donut iron with cooking spray.  Fill the donut cavities no more than 2/3 full.  Place in the oven for 7-9 minutes until donuts spring back to the touch. If using the Sunbeam donut iron, bake according to manufacturer's instructions.

Remove donuts and allow to sit in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Prepare the topping by mixing together the sugars and cinnamon in a small bowl. Lightly paint the melted butter onto the top of a donut with a cooking/basting brush.  Then, sprinkle the sugar and spice mix onto the buttered donut.

 

Tuesday
Oct012013

You Can't Beet London

The title pun is intended. Many of you know that I recently spent some time in London. I was there for a race, representing the USA at the Age Group World Championships of Triathlon. This was an overwhelming and humbling experience. The whole Iaciofano clan showed up, as well as a hearty cheering squad from my old stomping ground in Los Angeles.

Highlights included:

Scotch eggs and fried capers at the Pheonix Pub in Covent Garden.

Copious amounts of "Flat Whites" (this one from a bike cafe called Look Mum, No Hands!)

A post-race celebration at the Dock Kitchen.

Wacky bus rides.

Underwhelming tube rides.

Black Pudding! (from Albion Cafe) John and I both liked it.

The best bathroom this side of anywhere (Nopi in SoHo).

The best food market this side of anywhere (Borough Market).

Copious amounts of clotted cream (from Brown's Hotel).

With equal amounts of gin. And rum. And heavens only knows what else (from Purl).

A proper British haircut for John.

A lot of shopping with Kaz.

Brunch featuring toast caddies! (At High Road House, Chiswick)

Waffles on sticks! (Tower of London)

More bike cafes (Zappi's in Oxford).

And a ridiculous, Team USA photoshoot around London...

Phew — that was a lot. Of beer. And gin. And blood pudding. How to recover? Vegetables. Even for breakfast. But how? Of course, I could be traditional and go with a nice vegetable frittata. But I had just been exposed to seemingly endless rows of cute coffee shops and cafes displaying their homemade baked good, including granola. I wanted to make my own.

And so I did. With vegetables. Beets and squash to be exact. These veggies toast up very sweet, so they're perfect for your morning granola. Add a little spice and nut action, and you've just created an addictive breakfast, snack, lunch...Now if I could just find an NYC coffee house that makes a flat white...

What You Need:

3-4 medium sized beets, trimmed of their greens and thinly sliced into 1/8" rounds

1 delicata (or winter) squash (you could also use butternut or sweet potato)

1 1/2 cups rolled oats (I used Bob's Gluten Free variety)

1 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup dates, pitted and chopped

1/2 cup pecans

1/2 cup roasted pistachios

3/4 cup coconut flakes

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

What you do:

Preheat your oven to 300°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Slice the delicata squash in half and remove the seeds with a spoon. Slice each half of the squash into 1/8" inch thick pieces. Place the squash slices and the beet slices on the prepared baking sheet, but don't crowd them! Give 'em some room to breathe.

Throw them in the oven and let them bake. And bake....and bake. This takes a while, as you are essentially making vegetable chips which requires baking all the water out of the veggies. Veggies have a lot of water. The whole process could take up to an hour. Keep checking on them, as smaller pieces may crisp up faster and you don't want them to burn. Have a bowl ready to place more quickly cooked pieces.

Once all your veggies have "chipped," place them in the bowl and break them up into smaller pieces with your hands. Think about what size would fit nicely on a spoon. That's the size you should break them into.

Increase the oven temperature to 350°F.

In another bowl, combine the oats, spices and nuts. Mix in the olive oil and maple syrup and coat all the dry ingredients evenly with the wet. Spread this mixture onto a baking sheet (you can use the same one that you used for the veggies) and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. With five minutes left in the baking time, sprinkle the coconut flakes on top. Coconut will toast up rather quickly, so it doesn't need much time.

Remove the mixture from the oven and add it to the bowl of veggie chips. At this point you can also add in the dried fruit. Mix to combine. Store in an airtight container for weeks! Now you can have your vegetables for breakfast.

 

Wednesday
Sep112013

The Civilized Soda - San Pellegrino

Sometimes, when I sit down to have for a snack or meal, I just need a friggin' soda.  Not a beer, or water, or wine, but the good ol fashioned, sugary sweet, carbonated glory that is Pepsi, Coke, root beer, whatever.  Even Dr. Pepper works on occasion.

However, this simple choice has its consequences.  For one, soda is not great for you and, if i'm with sis, she will do her best to make me keenly aware of this; according to her, the only non-alcoholic liquid accompaniment that is permissible (aside from H20) is recycled avocado extract slurped through an orangically grown bean sprout.  Also, even coke - my favorite of the American colas - can sometimes be too sweet for my tastes.  Lastly, if I'm out to eat, I sort of feel like a toddler asking my server for a Pepsi with my meal.  This is my own problem I realize, but still - I often find myself inevitably pairing said order with a sheepish smile, acknowledging its immaturity ("I'll actually have...a coke?" - said with my eyebrows raised as to question whether this is actually o.k.).  The solution, if available:  San Pellegrino's Sparkling Blood Orange (Aranciata Rossa) Beverage. 

It has a more refined, deeper taste, a features a slightly bitter tang vs. most other options.  Secondly, according to Elana, there are not many "chemicals" in these sodas, so that is a plus, right?

But let's also take a look at that this can which, in addition to that beautiful Mediterranean color scheme it broadcasts, features a couple of other classy characteristics.  The first is what I will call the can's "peel-off germ protector."  Even the most concerned of hypochondriacs can guzzle with confidence, intimacy and ease.  Second, this soda can does not have a "wide mouth" spout!  Fluid is dispensed in moderation and with an appropriate amount of glugs.  Save the widemouth or "hole punch" nonsense for shotgunning and superbowl parties.  The fact that I'm not able to vacuum suck my carbonated beverage bone dry in nanoseconds, followed by a barbarian like belch, is a good thing, and it extends the lifespan of the 11.2 can.

So.  Moral of the story.  I don't always drink soda.  But when I do, I prefer San Pellegrino.  Stay classy San Diego.  Or something like that.

Friday
Aug302013

Vanilla Poppy Seed Beet Cakes

Beets are my new secret ingredient. Lots of people say their secret ingredient is love. Well, mine is beets. I love beets, so I suppose it amounts to the same thing? Maybe?

I had my first beet dessert success with these gluten-free chocolate cupcakes, Rinny's Race Cakes. They were so good, people kept requesting I make them over and over again. The beets keep the cake moist. Super moist. Like so moist, I've stored them in my freezer for weeks (probably longer than I should) and they are still moist. Can you beet that? 

All puns aside, I wanted to make a vanilla version. I'm a chocolate girl, but John, he likes vanilla. But before you go calling vanilla boring, these cakes are anything but. Using golden beets, you can lock in that same cake moisture, while poppy seeds and salted pistachios give them a nice texture contrast. The salt from the pistachios also creates a nice contrast with the sweet coconut cream. The result is a true masterpiece. Great for breakfast, brunch, snacks and, well....pretty much all the time. Which is when I've been eating them anyway.

What You Need:

For the Cake:

1-½ cups almond meal

1 cup brown rice flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1-1/2 cups turbinado sugar or coconut sugar

4 small golden beets, roasted

3 eggs

½ cup almond milk

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used Colavita)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tbsp poppy seeds

1/2 cup salted pistachios, coarsely chopped

For the Frosting:

See my Coconut Cream recipe here.

Process:

First, roast the golden beets:

Preheat your oven to 400°F degrees.

Slice the beets in half and wrap them in aluminum foil.

Place the wrapped beets in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, or until soft when pierced through the center with a knife.

Remove the beets from the oven, allow to cool and then peel the skins off. Chop them into cubes.

Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees.

Place the cooled, chopped beets in a blender with the almond milk and puree until very smooth - so smooth you could drink it.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, brown rice flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, turbinado sugar and poppy seeds. Mix all these dry ingredients together.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, olive oil and vanilla extract.

Add the puréed beets to the egg mixture and mix to combine. Pour the wet beet mixture into the mixing bowl with all of the dry ingredients and stir until combined.

Prepare a cupcake tin by lining with cupcake paper or greasing with non-stick baking spray.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan (I used a mini bundt cake pan) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to cool.

Top them!

Drizzle some coconut cream frosting onto the tops of the cakes and sprinkle with the chopped pecans.

If you're not eating these right away (GASP!), you can store them (unfrosted) in the freezer, covered for 2 weeks.

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