March 28, 2014

A Day in the Life of

I've always been fascinated with what people eat. I am a total grocery cart peeker.  I like to think my family's diet centers around mostly local and/or real food. But does it? I don't know. So here is anew series. In A Day in the Life Of posts, I'll list everything I ate (as best I can remember) in one day. 

Today is toward the end of the month and money feels a little tight, and that may be reflected in today's choices. Heavy on the carbs, meatless, ice cream-less.  ("Honey, do you have any cash left, 'cause I think I just used the last of the toilet paper.")

Morning
Coffee (Don Francisco brand purchased on sale at Raleys, brewed at home) with local raw milk and organic sugar. 
Oatmeal- Alana Chernilla's recipe instant oatmeal 
A few bites of salted dark chocolate- a birthday present from my husband purchased at Cost Plus. 

Lunch:
Homemade pizza pockets- these were entirely impromptu. I made them using a batch of croissant dough I had frozen months ago (the recipe from King Arthur Flour's Whole Grain Baking), filled with the last few tablespoons of a jar of Trader Joes's pizza sauce and a little grated mozzarella and Parmesan cheese (also from Trader Joe's) topped with a generous sprinkle of Real salt and organic Italian Seasoning (from the local health food store).  These turned out surprisingly well. 

Afternoon: 
A couple handfuls of salted cashews, some leftover sweet potato baked with coconut oil and salt, and some Theo's brand dark chocolate that a coworker's mother bought for her because it was soy-free. (Four of us at work tried this particular chocolate bar--the salted almond variety--and everyone else thought it had a funny aftertaste. We collectively determined that it is more of a wine-like chocolate than a junk food chocolate, and apparently I was the only one who liked it much, so I got to keep the rest of it. Score! 

Evening:
Brown rice pasta (Trader Joe's) with locally grown chard, kale and butternut squash, doused with garlic-butter (local) and olive oil (Trader Joes-- yes, I know there are many local olive oil producers who would appreciate my purchase, but...) and salt and pepper, topped with Parmesan and (local) parsley. Roasted local beets. 


March 13, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

I've tried a number of recipes in my quest to find a decent Peanut Butter and Chocolate Ice Cream. Something about the way peanut butter freezes creates a weird texture, so I've made a few recipes that I thought were absolutely amazing at their initial soft-serve texture, but were quite disappointing a day later after they'd hardened in the freezer. 

Also, I should probably provide the disclaimer that I don't like standard peanut butter cups. Those orange-wrapped things seem to be pretty popular, but I find them greasy, overly sweet and the filling seems gritty. I write that so that you know that I may not be the best judge of character when it comes to the classic peanut butter and chocolate combo. I should mention that, not surprisingly if you read my blog, because I am evidently a pretty diehard fan, I find the peanut butter cups in Ben & Jerry's Peanut Butter Cup ice cream at least satisfactory.  The chocolate is a little thicker than I suppose would be ideal, but it is in no way waxy like Reese's, and the peanut butter filling is much smoother. 

So in this ice cream my favorite creamy Milk Chocolate Ice Cream base is speckled with little clumps of soft peanut butter goodness, kind of like a smooth peanut butter cup filling without the pesky too-thick, not-intense-enough-chocolate shell.  

One more note:  I grew up on Baskin Robbins' rich, dark chocolate ice cream with that salty, crunchy-when-frozen peanut butter swirl. This ice cream is not that.  As much as I would love to recreate that, all my attempts at a peanut butter swirl have had textural issues. Also this Milk Chocolate ice cream base is more like a frosty in flavor (and texture if eaten within a few hours of churning). 

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Ice cream base adapted from Ben & Jerry's.  Mix-in adapted from a peanut butter frosting recipe from King Arthur Flour.  Makes slightly more than 1 quart. 

Make ice cream base: Whisk together 2 whole eggs. I use my electic stand mixer with the whisk attachment.  Gradually whisk in 4 tablespoons cocoa powder and 2/3 cup sugar. Scrape sides of bowl. If desired add a pinch of salt. Whisk in 1 cup whole milk, 2 cups heavy whipping cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.  Transfer ice cream mixture to ice cream maker.  Churn according to manufacturer's instuctions. 

Make peanut butter mix-ins: In same mixing bowl (no need to wash it), whisk 1/2 cup creamy salted peanut butter.  For ease of mixing, room temperature peanut butter is best.  As much as I hate to say it, use the commercial stuff; the natural stuff is too gritty for confectionary applications.  (I have used Trader Joe's peanut butter here successfully, but who knows whether it is more natural than other grocery store's brands). Whisk in 1/4 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar.  Continue to whisk until all the sugar is absorbed by the peanut butter. Then slowly whisk in 2-4 tablespoons heavy cream or half and half and a splash of vanilla extract.  You want something thicker than a buttercream frosting, but slightly less thick than a cookie dough.  Use a spatula to scrape peanut butter mixture out of mixing bowl and onto a work surface such as a cutting board or plate.  Use clean hands to pinch off a 1/4 to a 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture at a time. Roll into balls as neatly or as roughly as you like. If time allows, transfer finished mix-ins to freezer.  

One minute before the end of churning time, drop peanut butter mix-ins into the ice cream maker a few at a time.  Let churn a minute to distribute. Transfer ice cream to freezer-safe containers to continue freeze time. Ice cream is generally at soft-serve texture fresh out of the machine, but will become a more scoopable ice cream after a few hours in the freezer. 

This recipe contains raw eggs. Proceed with caution. 

February 13, 2014

Claire's Favorite Almond Flour Pancakes - GF

A few years ago I mentioned that we don't eat bananas because they are not locally produced. Well having a baby changes things. Our third baby is going gluten-free and grain-free until she's at least a year old.  (Uh oh. I just made a comment about my own parenting choices on the internet. Cue the haters.) For the time being organic bananas are a staple in our kitchen. They are easy to digest and the perfect texture for babies. 

Claire's Favorite Pancakes
These aren't just for babies. I like them too. They are easier and tastier than any of the other almond flour pancakes I have tried.
Serves 1-2. Easily doubled. 

1 ripe banana - a thawed frozen banana is fine 
1 large egg
3/4 cup blanched almond flour
Dash sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Heaping tablespoon arrowroot powder
Butter for the pan

In small mixing bowl mash banana. Whisk in egg. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk to mix. Batter will be thick. 

Scoop about 1/4 of the batter into a hot buttered skillet. (On my stove, I cook pancakes just below medium heat.) spread batter with a spatula. Cook a few minutes, until the bottom has coked enough to flip, then flip and cook a minute or two more. 

Boom! Soft, grain-free, naturally sweet pancakes.