Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Coconut Cherry Cupcakes

Summer is here or so the tourist info centers would like us to believe. I actually appreciate the much warmer and much longer days, but there are still quite a few cloudy, dreary and rainy days out there. They far outnumber the scandalously hot muggy days and so many people complain that summer hasn’t arrived yet.  I could definitely imagine a more amazing summer than what we are experiencing here on Vancouver Island, but I don’t feel like complaining. Compared to the endless dark and rainy winter, this …. this will do! It’s nice enough to be outside and my plants in their quaint planter boxes feel that it is plenty good enough to grow and thrive … as long as I remember to water them, that is.

Right about now is when you start seeing all of the wonderful summer fruits come into their own. Farmers markets, which were closed only a few months ago, are now a cornucopia of perfectly ripe fruits. One of my favorite fruits (among many) being cherries.  

One of our managers at work retired today after over 30 years at the job. Of course, to mark this milestone, as we mark almost all milestones at my job, we had a bbq potluck. Sometimes I get lazy and bring in chips and dip like most people when they don’t have time to make something for a potluck, but I saw this as an opportunity … an opportunity to create something delicious and not have it in my house. I’m trying to eat better and I know that if I have goodies in my house, I will eat them. So if I can get rid of half of them to a potluck then all the better for me. I do end up with some goodies, but not so much that I will have too much.  Also, since cherries have started to show up in our stores I thought it would be a good excuse to make something with cherries in it.  So that is how I ended up with coconut cherry cupcakes.

I bought one of those tiny one bite cupcake tins and used it, but the recipe also works for mini loafs and cake. You just have longer baking times. I was pleasantly surprised when several people came up to me and told me that my cupcakes tasted better than the gluten version that someone else brought in and a few people asked for the recipe.

So without further ado, here it is!



Coconut Cherry Cupcakes

1/3 cup Coconut Oil
¼ cup Cherry Juice (left over from the can of cherries)
6 Eggs (room temperature)
½ teaspoon Baking Soda
¾ cup Sugar
½ teaspoon Sea Salt, ground
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract, pure
¾ cup Coconut Flour, sifted
14 fluid ounce can of Bing Cherries, quartered
Pink Food Colouring (optional)

Icing

1 cup Butter, room temp
½ Kilogram (half a bag) of Icing Sugar
¼ cup Cherry Juice
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract, pure

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease muffin tin well … or line with paper cups.

In a small saucepan melt coconut oil on medium heat until liquid. Whisk in cherry juice. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl blend together eggs and sugar until frothy. Next add baking soda, salt and vanilla extract and blend. Mix in the coconut oil/cherry juice mixture and then add your coconut flour.  Once that has reached an even consistency, fold in the chopped cherries. If the batter is looking suspiciously green as mine was, feel free to add some pink food colouring.  Spoon1 tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup and bake for 12* minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and edges are golden.  Set aside to cool for 5 minutes, then pop out of tin and place on cooling racks to cool further.

Meanwhile you can make the icing. Simply add all ingredients into a mixer and mix until smooth. If the icing is too runny add more icing sugar and if it’s to stiff add more cherry juice.

Now you can decorate your cupcakes any way you like. If it’s hot out and your icing is starting to melt, simply put it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes until it firms up again.

*For mini loafs bake for about 25 minutes and for cakes try between 35-45 minutes.

Friday, June 10, 2011

RAW Strawberry Freeze Pie


This entry will be quick and sweet, just like the dessert. I am still recovering from my PRK laser eye surgery and although two days ago I was seeing almost perfectly, that was before they took out the protective lenses. Now I’ve taken a few steps back vision wise, which doesn’t make for the best photography or easiest time typing. I am on the mend though and am sure that the outcome will be fantastic. It just takes time!

I’ve been trying to think of desserts that aren’t so loaded in sugar and are grain free and came up with this recipe based on Ani Phyo’s custard tartlette recipe. It’s raw, grain free, no sugar added, dairy free, egg free and amazingly enough tastes great. The boyfriend likes it and asked for seconds, and that pretty much says it all.


RAW Strawberry Freeze Pie

Crust

1 cup Pecans
1 cup Almonds
1 cup shredded Coconut
2 cups pitted Dates
¼ cup Water (optional)

Filling

1 cup Cashews
½ cup Water
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 pint of Strawberry’s (whole, meaning leaves and all)
2 tablespoons Coconut Cream

In a food processor, process nuts into a chunky mix. Then add dates and process until combined. If dates aren’t mixing in well at a little bit of water until the mixture starts sticking together. Spoon mixture onto pie plate and mold into a crust with your fingers.

In a powerful blender add cashews, vanilla extract, water, strawberries and coconut cream. Blend until smooth. Pour ‘batter’ into pie crust. Cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and freeze overnight.

Before serving, remove from freezer and place in fridge for a few hours to partially thaw and soften slightly. This pie tastes best half way between frozen and soft. Slice and serve. Yum. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Spaghetti Squash and Meat Sauce



What can I say? I’m nervous. Tomorrow I am heading to Vancouver and getting laser eye surgery  - PRK to be precise. It’s something I’ve always wanted, but could never afford. Now in my thirties I still can’t really afford it, but I’m getting it for 50% off, so who can say no to that? I’m excited to never need glasses again. I’ve been wearing them since grade 5. I remember that first day when the teacher asked me to read something on the chalkboard and I said I couldn’t. I was shipped off to the optometrist PDQ after that. I had to get my Mom to help me pick out my frames because I couldn’t see them clearly enough when trying them on. So as a result, I went through a number of ridiculously horrible frame choices for many years … until I got contacts. I didn’t get my first pair of contacts until I was in grade 12.   My current set of frames was picked out by a very fashion forward friend of mine and has stuck with me since.  But now it is time to say goodbye to these lovely frames and hello to brand new eyes!

Something else new in my life is this attempt to go grain free. I’m good at sticking to this new diet at home, but when I travel I just stick to trying to stay gluten free and not get contamination. Going grain free while traveling to locations without kitchenettes, microwaves, etc is a little harder. But for the most part I’ve been doing well and as a bonus I’m losing weight! I’ve lost 10 lbs so far, which I’m super happy about.

One of things I found most difficult going grain free is replacing pasta in my life. First I had to switch from wheat pasta to rice pasta and then to no pasta at all? What’s a girl to do? Well, I’ve found a few options and they are surprisingly yummy. In fact, my boyfriend was actually raving about this next one to his friends while we were camping on May Long weekend. I was surprised to hear him boast about how I use spaghetti squash as spaghetti and how it tastes so good, but you know, he’s right. It is darn tasty. I think the squash gives the ‘noodles’ a kind of sweet buttery flavour that just adds all sorts of goodness to a meal. With this recipe, I don’t miss pasta at all!


Spaghetti Squash Pasta and Meat Sauce
Serves 2

2 Spaghetti Squash
500g of Ground Beef
14-0z can of Tomato Paste
1 Onion, chopped
2 tablespoons Garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning
1 Orange Pepper, diced
1 Tomato, diced

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Cut each spaghetti squash in half. Take a spoon and remove the seeds only. Place each half upside down (so skin facing out) onto an aluminum foil lined cookie sheet. Place in oven and bake for 30-45 minutes.  

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan add some olive oil, chopped onions and garlic. Fry until onions start getting soft. Then add ground beef. Cook until all the pink is gone. Next add in tomato paste and one can of water and stir. Then you can add Italian herbs, pepper and tomato. Cook until peppers are soft. Feel free to add more water or tomato paste to get it to the consistency that you like.  Set aside.

Once the squash is ready, take a fork to the flesh and scoop it out onto a plate. It’s at that point that it will look like spaghetti. Top with meat sauce, Parmesan cheese and serve.