Friday, 12 June 2015

Nutella Stuffed Peanut Butter with Sea Salt

I may not still be in America, but if you think for one second that I'm going to let National Peanut Butter Cookie Day pass me by you are out of your mind. I love that there are days that exist as an excuse for us to all stuff our face with sweets.

I've never come across a peanut butter cookie I didn't like. Now that could just be me and my preference for peanut butter based cookies, or that could simply be that fact that peanut butter added to cookies amp up the taste factor no matter what.

The great thing about PB cookies is that they are one of the easiest cookie you can ever make, usually only require minimal ingredients. The bad thing about  PB cookies - they are so easy and tasty that you'll be tempted to make these all the time. At least that's bad for me and my lack of self control.

I think after this week I'll need to give it a rest with the sweets for a bit, as deep as my love for baking is. Trying to work out the kinks for this recipe I ended up making at least four batches of cookies to come up with just the right variation. In an effort to nix the grains and refined sugars I had to test a few different kinds to come up with what I think is the best one.

In the end, I decided on using coconut sugar as the sweetener of choice. I prefer the crumbly, melt-in- your mouth texture that coconut sugar provided. It's also lower on the glycemic index scale which I especially like. If you don't have coconut sugar and you're not so concerned about regular sugar, you can sub it for a 1-1 ratio. You can also substitute the coconut sugar for either maple syrup or honey, in which case you should reduce the amount from 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup. If you use a liquid sweetener, just expect to come out with cookies that are much more moist.

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Nutella Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies with Sea Salt
What's better than peanut butter cookies? Peanut butter cookies stuffed with nutella and sprinkled with sea salt. Salty, sweet, and delicious!
  • 1 cup (250 grams) Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 cup (170 grams) Coconut Sugar
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • about 1/4 cup (for stuffing) Refrigerated Nutella (homemade or store bought)
  • 1/4 cup Chocolate Chips
  • for sprinking Sea Salt
1. In a medium sized mixing bowl mix together the peanut butter and sugar. Then add in the egg, vanilla, and baking soda until combined. 
2. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F 
3. Roll teaspoon sized balls of peanut butter onto a cookie sheet. Scoop about 1/2 teaspoon of nutella and place in the center of each ball. If you refrigerate your nutella before handling this part won't be nearly as messy. Once you have a little ball of nutella in the center of each cookie dough ball, take a little bit more of the peanut butter dough on sandwich the nutella in the center of the dough and roll it into a ball. 
4. Bake for 10-14 minutes and remove from the oven to cool. 
5. As the cookies cool, melt your chocolate chips over the stove top on the lowest possible heat. Stir constantly to prevent from burning. Once the chocolate is almost entirely melted, remove from heat. The chocolate will continue to melt without burning. While it's still hot, begin to drizzle the chocolate over the cookies. Sprinkle with sea salt over each cookie, and enjoy!
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12-14 Bite Sized Cookies

You can also check out my almond butter cookies is you want a paleo option, or my very popular peanut butter oatmeal squares for an even easier recipe.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Single Serving Dog Friendly Cupcake

There was a point in time when I proudly bragged about being a dog person. Since then, I'm glad to say that I have met many different cats that I have completely fallen in love with. Since moving to England I have found myself constantly surrounded by a colorful assortment of feline friends who've all added their share of humor and affection to my day to day life.

At least twice a week I walk into the kitchen to find Felix, the cheeky little black and white cat who lives a few doors down, stealing Stanley's dog food. Every open window is an invitation to Felix. One time I caught him on the counter polishing off the left over shrimp curry I made for Mike. Basil, the ginger cat across the road also likes to find his way in through open windows. I remember one evening in particular when Basil somehow managed to jump up through the kitchen window above the sink. Once he found his way up on the window ledge, he realized the only way down was into the skin. I don't even know how he managed to jump up to the window in the first place - I can barely reach that window to open it most of the time.

I can go on listing stories about our own cats, Rita and Mabel. Rita has more personality in one paw than most people I've ever met. Feisty doesn't even begin to describe it. As for Mabel - bless her we're almost certain she has a case of feline schizophrenia. She has to take a small dose of natural anti-depressants daily to calm her nerves. I love both our cats immeasurably.

As much as I adore all the cats in my life - deep down, I'm still a dog girl. There are very few times that I can remember not having at least one dog growing up. Just  thinking about what all my dogs have meant to me, I get emotional. Whenever I felt like I was going through a particuarly rough time in my life, I always had a dog to look at me with their big dumb smiles, wag its tail, and remind me that things weren't so bad after all because here in front of me sat a creature who loved me just as much as I loved him/her.

I'm reminded of a quote I once heard about dogs (and pets in general) that went something along the lines of, 'they may only be a small part of our lives, but to them we are their wholes lives'. It's the heartbreaking fact that at some point we have to realize that we're going to outlive our pets. They give us nothing but love and affection, and in some cases a lot of fur around the house and probably a few 'accidents' here and there, so why not give them just as much love in return and make their lives as special as they can be?

Bosco has had more than his share of bad hair cuts
Today is Stanley's 4th birthday. I know how much Stanley means to my new family and all the joy he has brought into their lives by being his unadulterated self, so I thought I would make it extra special for him by making him his very own dog friendly birthday cake.

Instead of making an entire cake for him like I have seen many people do, I thought it best I just make him his own little cupcake instead - that way he couldn't over do it with the food. This recipe makes either one jumbo size cupcake, or two regular sized ones. It's aimed for dog tastes, but it's certainly edible if you want to share one with your hound. Just make sure you don't leave any apple seeds around because those aren't good for dogs.

PS Mom & Dad - you better believe Bosco is getting his own cupcakes when we visit in the winter!

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Doggy Peanut Butter Cupcake
A dog friendly, single serving cupcake to celebrate the special hounds in your life! Grain free and no added sugar.
  • 1/2 finely diced Apple
  • 3 tablespoons + more if desired for frosting Peanut Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon optional Baking Powder
  • optional Bacon
1. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F 2. In a small bowl mix together all of your ingredients until combined. 3. Spoon the mixture either into a cup cake sized ramekin or into a regular cupcake tins. You can make either one jumbo cake, or two average sized cupcakes. 4. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean. 5. Allow the cupcake to cool completely. You can leave it as is, or frost with peanut butter and sprinkle with bacon bits.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 1 jumbo cupcake or 2 regular sized cakes

Omm nom nom

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Savory Rosemary Almond Loaf Bread

Whenever I do my weekly shopping trip I always make sure to throw in a few bags of fresh herbs. I don't particuarly have any plans for what to do with the herbs, but I can't count the number of times I've pulled up a recipe for something that looks mouthwatering only to realize that I'm missing crucial fresh ingredients.

If I were a more organized person I probably would have gotten around to growing my own at home. In the past I've bought a few potted basil plants, but I'm so heavy handed with basil that we just ended up with a pot of dirt sitting on the kitchen table for a couple weeks. In the end I figured I may as well buy the bags and save myself the hassle of wiping dirt off the table every day. I'll get around to it....eventually.

This week I ended up with an extra bag of rosemary and a hankering for a piece of bread which lead me to come up with this recipe for a grain free rosemary and almond flour bread. I could have made my usual Gluten Free French Bread - by far my most popular recipe that I've ever put up. To be honest though, I've been trying to cut down on grains in my diet. Mike could do without the extra inflammation and I'm always a much happier, energetic person when I clean up my diet a bit.

If you're new to gluten free/grain free baking you may be a bit thrown off by seeing the psyllium husk listed in the ingredients (psyllium, said like silly-um). It can usually be found in health stores because of its useful attributes in lowering LDL cholesterol over time and its gentle laxative effects. Not bad. Psyllium husk in gluten free baking assists in both the rise and binding of ingredients. Think xanthan gum without the stomach upset. So in addition to being free of sugars, grain, and other potential gut irritants, this savory bread is also packed with heart healthy fiber and nutrient dense flours.

You won't be thinking about any other bread when this is fresh out of the oven with the a slab of butter melting into the crust and the scent of rosemary wafts through the air.

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Savory Rosemary Almond Bread
A savory rich bread made from a blend of nutrient dense flours and fiber rich ingredients tied together with the earthy aroma of fresh rosemary.
  • 1 1/2 cups (144 grams) Almond Flour
  • 1/2 cup (61 grams) Tapioca Flour
  • 3 tablespoons (21 grams) Coconut Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Tablespoon Psyllium Husk
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Fresh Rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons (1.5 fll) Hot Water
  • 1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350 F
2. In a small bowl mix together your psyllium husk and hot water. Stir until throughly mixed. Set it aside to gel up. 
3. In a large mixing bowl sift together the remainder of your dry ingredients plus the chopped rosemary. 
4. In another mixing bowl beat together your eggs until the become a light yellow and slightly frothy. Add the olive oil, the ACV, and the gelled up psyllium husk and stir until smooth. 
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine. When mixed scoop your mixture into a lined or greased load tin and place it in the oven for 30-40 minutes depending on your oven. When the top is a nice golden brown and the bread doesn't jiggle when you move it you know it's done.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 1 loaf

Monday, 8 June 2015

Cilantro Lime Chicken

I don't know about you guys, but when it comes to cooking I have the tendency to go a bit rogue. By that, I mean that I mostly just throw things in a pan and hope it comes out right. Most of the time this works out pretty well, though I would be lying if I told you that I've never overdone an ingredient or two and came up with something that barely resembles food. I'm sure Mike could tell you a thing or two about those mishaps.

Don't worry though. I've changed my ways since starting my own food blog. I'm far too terrified of forgetting an ingredient or step to play around like that when it comes to posting recipes. I'm still very much in the beginning stages of this blog that I'm absolutely flattered whenever I hear someone has tried one of my recipes and would never want to let anyone down.

I could go on about the challenges of food blogging - don't get me started on the photography part - but this is, after all, a food blog. So on with the food!

Being that it is summer - or so I'm told - there are certain meals that are simply a must.

If you're a fan of easy and delicious meals - then this cilantro and lime chicken is definitely one of them. Even if you're not particuarly a big cilantro fan, I'm sure I could win you over with this tender and juicy chicken. The fresh, bright flavors also work well if you want to slice it up and toss it in a salad for later meals.

Once again, I've made this low FODMAP which means I used garlic infused olive oil instead of garlic. If garlic isn't an issue for you or you don't have any infused oil feel free to add one clove of garlic. I did however add a 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder. That small of an amount spread through the entire marinade isn't enough to set off Mike's stomach troubles and I don't imagine it will be a problem for many people. If it is an issue just leave that bit out.

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Cilantro Lime Chicken
This cilantro and lime chicken takes a minimum amount of effort for a maximum amount of flavor perfect for easy weeknight dinners.
  • 4-5 Chicken breasts
  • 4 tablespoons Chopped Cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1/2 cup Garlic Infused Olive Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or to taste) Cayenne Powder *omit if AIP
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Pepper
  • 1 lime Lime Zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon Fish Sauce
  • Coconut Oil for frying
1. In a small bowl, make your marinade by mixing together everything except for the chicken breast. 2. Add your marinade and the chicken breast to a large ziplock bag. Seal and toss until each chicken breast is coated. Refrigerate and marinate for at least 30 minutes, but ideally for a few hours. I like to prepare this in the morning and then take it out to cook by the time dinner rolls around. 
3. When you're ready cook, take the chicken out of the fridge and let it rest on the counter while you heat a skillet with oil. Once the pan is hot enough, add the chicken and allow it to fry undisturbed on one side until you see the sides begin to cook, about 7-10 minutes. Flip each piece over and allow it to cook an additional 5-10 minutes. 
 4. When your chicken is fully cooked, remove from heat and allow it to rest for a few minutes before cutting and serving. Squeeze a little extra lime juice and garnish with cilantro is you choose and enjoy!
Prep time: 30 mins - 8 hrs Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 Servings

How do you guys cook? Are you more of an intuitive chef, or do you follow each recipe to the T? 

Friday, 5 June 2015

Crispy, Batter Cod with a Buttery Lemon Basil Drizzle

Today's recipe is a straight forward, traditional battered cod recipe sans gluten and paired with a buttery lemon basil sauce. Just in time for Fish Friday.