Sunday, February 21, 2010

Unripe Gucamole

image borrowed from Breakfast with Spanky

Do you ever find yourself in the situation where you are about to enjoy an exotic dish of guacamole, which you've been imagining all morning, and salivating over the vision dancing through your head of such a creamy, zesty combination of foods? Where you've got the rest of your meal together, all boring and chickenish, and to excite yourself, you will be feasting on beautiful avocados, juicy tomatoes, garlic, cilantro and lime blended together, marinated in each others flavors....
Well, that was me yesterday. I'd just bought some gluten free multi-grain crackers at Costco, and was so excited to try them out, topped with guacamole. I chopped my tomatoes and cilantro, squeezed the juice from my limes, zested my garlic, and as I began cutting into my avocado, my heart dropped. It was hard as a rock. I had to get out my chainsaw to get through it. I literally had to saw the skin off the flesh. The dread began to well up inside me, my hope of spicing up an otherwise boring meal of chicken and quinoa fading fast. I reached for my iPod, desperate to search the world wide web for any advice, any help for my situation. Sadly, I discovered I had no connection to the outside world. Oh yeah...I remembered my husband has been upstairs all morning, rearranging our office, and had unplugged our internet.
Frustrated, I glanced around the kitchen. I spotted my Vitamix, freshly washed from having made my weekly batch of almond milk. An idea began to form in my mind. Holding my breath in anticipation, I grabbed the blender, threw in the avocado pieces, a couple scoops of salsa, and some lime juice. I began blending. I added a little bit of almond milk to cream it up, then added half of the other ingredients. I blended for about a minute, scraping the sides down, then added the rest of the ingredients, and blended for awhile longer.
I grabbed a cracker, and nervously scooped a bit of the green goop out of the blender. I raised it to my mouth, my hands shaking, and took a bite. I smiled. I began to breathe again. It was good. Not as amazing as freshly mashed guacamole. There were no ripened chunks of avocado. It was mostly pureed, with a little piece of tomato here and there. But it was a great substitute, and still managed to make a mundane meal better. Way better than throwing up my hands and tossing everything into the trash. I considered it a success :)
So, if ever you find yourself in a similar situation....Relax. Keep breathing. Grab your blender, and remember that life will still go on with guacamole!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bad blogger

I love blogging. However, I have been rather bad at it the last few months. One of the problems (well, sort of problems) is that I've taken on more responsibility at work. Trying to run an office is a lot more time consuming than I thought it would be :P
Another problems is that I have so many great friends here online whose blogs seem so much more interesting than I get on to blog, and end up reading for an hour, because it's more fun than working!
The most annoying of the problems I run into is that my dear, darling husband is a gamer (ok, fine, we both are o.O hehe). We only have a couple of hours each night in which we get to have fun and unwind from the day, before getting up and doing it all again. My husband is really into this particular game which requires him to be very vocal and have his speakers turned up so as to hear his other, equally audible teammates. So between all the explosions, cursing and bossing each other's not the most ideal blogging circumstances. When I blog, I enjoy peace and quiet, or maybe some tunes if I'm in the mood.
Now I know I'm making excuses here. BUT!!!! I confess all this to you, my dear readers, because I have every intention of changing this. I have doubled my number of followers in the last 6 months (don't laugh, please!!), and the whole reason I started this blog in the first place was to be able to share with people my successes in allergy-friendly cooking.
Sooooooooo, what I'm trying to say is, I AM going to be better about blogging. Call it my belated resolution if you will. I figure by getting it out in the open, I will be more accountable. We shall see...

Stay tuned :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Kale Chips

I love kale! Seriously, it's so good! But I didn't realize how amazing it was until I tried this recipe. I follow Elana's blog, and she posts recipes w/ kale quite regularly. She mentioned this recipe, and I've been thinking about it for awhile, working up the nerve to try something so weird. Now I think it might be my new favorite way to eat a vegetable.
Go on over to visit the girls over at Celiac Chicks for a prettier picture :) That's where I found this yummy recipe.

Kale Chips
1 head kale
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Rinse one head of kale, then dry. Rip leaves into bite-sized pieces, removing the thick middle stem from each leaf. Toss with extra virgin olive oil, then sprinkle with a little salt. Lay out on a baking sheet (I lined mine with foil for easy cleanup).
Bake on the middle rack in the oven for 12-15 minutes.
Cool, then eat up!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chocolate Chip Scones and Almond Milk

This is my new favorite snack/dessert! Chocolate chip scones and homemade almond milk.

The scones recipe I got from Elana's new cookbook, "The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook." I reduced the amount of chocolate from 1 cup, and the original recipe calls for chopped dark chocolate, but enjoy life chocolate chips worked great!

Chocolate Chip Scones
2 ½ c blanched almond flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
1/3 c olive oil
¼ c agave nectar
2 large eggs
¾ c chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together wet ingredients. Mix in dry ingredients. Fold in chocolate chips. Scoop out onto parchment lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart (8 per sheet). Bake for about 13 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool on baking sheets for half an hour. Serve. Makes 16 scones.

These are great reheated from the freezer. I like to microwave them until just barely warm, then throw them in the toaster oven for a minute or two to firm up again.
I love the flavor of these scones. To me, there is even a hint of a coconutty flavor...probably from the almonds. I love it!

On to the almond milk....

I've been dairy free (mostly) for 2 1/2 years. I haven't had a drink of milk in that entire time. Usually I'm okay with that. But once in awhile, I get the craving to just chug a glass of ice cold milk. Substitute milk products just never wowed me. I'd drink some chocolate soy milk occasionally, and buy whatever's on sale (usually almond breeze) when I needed something to use in cooking/baking.
This recipe is really simple. I've made it several times in the past few weeks, and I love it. To me, it's not exactly milk, but it's definitely a close substitute. I feel like the texture is the same, and when you take a drink, it feels milk-like in your mouth. The almond aftertaste is what throws it off. It isn't bad, but for those looking for a REAL milk-like substitute, this may not wow them. I was pretty impressed though!
The greatest part is, it's healthy, doesn't have any weird additives, and it's cheaper than buying the stuff at the store. I stock up on my almonds when they're $3-$4 a pound at the HFS. 1 pound equals about 2 cups of almonds....which equals about 2 quarts of almond milk. For $3-$4!! That's about what I pay at the store for ONE quart of almond milk. Plus, I feel like the stuff at the store is a bit thinned out. I like how rich the homemade stuff is.

Anyway, enough trying to sell you on the idea :) Try it out for yourself. Then you'll see what I'm talking about! Visit Amy at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free for more info. She's the one who turned me on to this amazing discovery!

Homemade Almond Milk
1/2 c almonds
Enough water to cover (for soaking)
2 cups water
Optional: salt, vanilla and choice of sweetener (I haven't tried adding anything to my milk. I've enjoyed it the way it is).

Put the almonds in a glass jar or bowl. Cover with water, then cover bowl. Soak overnight (or for a few hrs) at room temperature.
Drain water, rinse almonds well.
Pour 2 cups of water into a blender. Add almonds. Blend on high for 2 minutes. Pour through a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh sieve (I did this in portions. I would pour probably 1/2 c liquid in, then let it drip a bit, then gather the cheesecloth together and gently squeeze until all the liquid's out. I then scooped out the almond grinds and threw them in a ziploc bag. Still haven't figured out what to do with them. Then I rinsed the cheesecloth, and relined the strainer).
Keep refrigerated and covered. Lasts about a week. If you don't drink it sooner!!