formats
Published on 9 February, 2012, by

Nobody wants to spend their whole night in the kitchen on Valentine’s Day. You want to cook, present, eat and get on with the canoodling– am I right? In this, our final V-Day menu we show that cooking at home on Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be super labor intensive — just scrumptious.

The four courses we’ve have paired here are easy for most anyone to make but still elegant and tasty. Sometimes simplicity is the key.

Each week, four of our 12 bloggers has put their best food forward as part of a 4 course “Lovers Feast” and what Valentine’s Day is complete without a TASTE-y libation? We teamed up with Otis over at Taste on The N8tion.com for custom cocktails to go with each course — they even whipped up some yummy non-alcoholic beverages for those of you who don’t imbibe (See week 1.)

BONUS: Here’s my favorite SNL sketch for this time of year, “The Lovers,” featuring Christopher Walken: http://www.nbc.com/assets/video/widget/widget.html?vid=275058

 

Final Valentine’s 4 Course Lover’s Feast Menu

APPETIZER: Milisa at Miss in the Kitchen serves up sensually Creamy Mushroom Egg Rolls

INTERMEZZO: Donna at Cookistry: Flowered Cheese Course (an array of tasty cheeses with a touch of romance)

ENTREE: Here on The GrooVy Foody: Steak Frites with Gorgonzola sauce, caramelized onion and sauteed mushrooms

 

 

DESSERT: Nelly at Cooking with Books brings sumptuous Hot Chocolate Poached Pears

 
formats
Published on 8 February, 2012, by

As part of the Build a Better Me Healthy Blogging Challenge, I have been trying my best to cut down on carbs in my diet (including baked goods and chocolate– though I have to admit, I haven’t been doing so well on the chocolate front!)

Carbs and Gluten

Besides cutting down on carbs, I’m also exploring the world of gluten-free food. While I do not have Celiac Disease (as many who go gluten-free do) I do feel like I might have a mild intolerance to wheat flour. This is an important distinction because those who are dealing Celiac have an autoimmune disease, not a food allergy, sensitivity or intolerance.

Fresh Veggies and. . .Chocolate?

We already eat plenty of fresh organic veggies in our household and pretty strictly use whole foods ingredients, but when it comes to sweets — I have a serious problem.  That’s why this new low carb, gluten-free lifestyle has been hard for me.

I have absolutely no problem tucking into a big salad — some homemade soup like curried carrot apple ginger, broccoli mint or butternut squash or eating broiled salmon topped with sautéed zucchini, tomato and mushroom and served with quinoa couscous and a large helping of wilted kale salad or roasted broccoli. This IS food I love.

But afterward, I crave something sweet and preferably chocolatey. Let me be clear here– I know chocolate is chock full of great stuff for you and packed with amazing health benefits but NOT when it comes loaded with sugar. So, I’d been making do with homemade hot chocolate, using Dutch cocoa, unsweetened soy, almond or coconut milk and a drizzle of honey.

But I was dying for snack– one besides a handful of almonds and a clementine. Something with a bite or chew or a crunch but something that felt distinctly naughty but most especially– chocolate-y.

Then Paleo People Granola showed up at my door — four bags of it, to be precise.

The Wait is Over

First, I should say, I’m NOT a granola person (no matter how many veggies I eat.) I like bacon and butter and chocolate– real chocolate — not those lame carob chips they stick into granola. Most granolas annoy me– they’re either too sugary sweet or they taste like cardboard. I enjoy a handful of trail mix from time to time– but it has to be the good stuff (no peanuts or raisins.) I prefer trail mixes with cashews, almonds, cranberries, cherries and of course, chocolate. But granola — Ugh! No way!

But then, the Paleo People offered to sponsor the VP bloggers in our efforts by sending us some granola. At first, I begged off, saying “Sorry, I’m going gluten-free,” but then Theresa at Food Hunter’s Guide said, “Perfect– it’s gluten-free.”

“Hmph” — no more excuse– I was in.

When I opened the box from Paleo People I was greeted with four 5 oz bags of granola. It arrived at 3pm — right between lunch and dinner. I was dying for a snack.

What flavors did they send? The requisite apple something, something with bananas (I hate those crusty banana chips!)– cappuccino (hmmm, interesting) What? Wait? What?! Cacao Nut — Cacao means chocolate. I tore into the bag — something was better than nothing. I popped a piece in my mouth, waiting for the cringe factor but then . . . bliss.

It was crunchy but not too crunchy, chewy but not raisin-y sweet and there was plenty of sweet and chocolate but not in a heavy corn syrupy way. This was awesome. This was the most awesome granola I’d ever tasted.

About this time the hubby barged in wanting to know what I gotten.

“Granola,” I answered between bites.

“Oh,” he said and turned to walk back out of the kitchen.

“No wait, it’s good. Come here, try the apple or the banana one.”

No way was he getting my chocolate.

I tore open the Cappuccino Crunch, while he eased open the Apple Crisp. The cappuccino was okay but it was no chocolate — maybe I’d gotten the only yummy bag in the bunch — but then, he smiled.

“Man, this stuff is good.”

“It is?!”

“Yeah, try some,” he held the bag out for me.

“Ok, but that will be your bag because you’re not getting any of my chocolate . . . Well, you can have a taste.”

The Apple Crisp was great for apple — I mean, the only apple I usually like is one from a tree– not in pies or cobblers and especially not in granola– but I liked this and he LOVED it.

We both adored the Banana Nut Crunch — just yummy banana flavor — none of the crusty enamel breaking, hard chips of banana.

Neither of us liked the Cappuccino but that’s probably because it tasted like Folgers to us and NOT cappuccino. But if you’re the kind of person who likes Americanos, I bet you’ll love this one.

The hubs was in love with the apple and I could not bear to part with my chocolate (though we both did attempt sharing with our son — who favored the banana.) All was right with the world.

Anyway, Paleo People saved me — just when I needed a fix, they swooped in with their delish granola treats and made it all better. I could do this low carb, gluten-free thing (at least until the granola gave out!)

(Psst! Paleo People, if you’re listening: Send MORE granola!!)

Paleo People Giveaway

If you’re going gluten-free or are one of the many people taking part in a Paleo Diet — you’ll LOVE Paleo People but even if you’re completely unfettered by issues with carbs or gluten, I think you’ll find Paleo People Granola to be a nutritious and healthful way to snack.

Paleo People Granola is filled with “the good stuff” like:

Nuts: almonds, brazil nuts, pecans and walnuts

Fruit: raisins, apples, bananas

Seeds: flax, sunflower and pumpkin

Other good tasting, good-for-you goodies: coconut oil, cacao nibs, honey, coconut and spices.

*Wanna WIN a four pack of Paleo People for yourself? Just comment below for your chance to win.*

Winner will be chosen at random.

*Wanna increase your chances of winning? Visit the Paleo People Host Page at Food Hunters Guide to Cuisine and find out how to enter to win on all participating Virtual Potluck Blogs.*

This product was sent free for review but as always, the opinions are my own.

WINNER: Marnely Rodriguez-Murray is the winner of the Paleo People giveaway entering for her best friend, who is pregnant! Congratulations Marnely and ultimately, Joella!

 
formats
Published on 2 February, 2012, by

Will Ferrell and Rachel Dratch enjoying a Lover's Feast on SNL

As I shared with you last week, Virtual Potluck is coming together to show you how to make more than just reservations for Valentine’s Day this year. Each week, four of our 12 bloggers will be putting their best food forward as part of a 4 course “Lovers Feast” and what Valentine’s Day is complete without a TASTE-y libation?

So we teamed up with Otis over at Taste on The N8tion.com to make us custom cocktails to go with each course — they even whipped up some yummy non-alcoholic beverages for those of you who don’t imbibe (see week 1.)

About Taste on The N8tion

Taste is a new mixology show that features cool cocktails from the common guy. From the creative minds at N8tion.com, our resident “booze head” Otis showcases classic and not-so-classic cocktail recipes. Who is Otis???? We found him under a bar in downtown Atlanta nursing a Corona while holding a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. No seriously, after tending bars for countless college parties, he honed his bartending skills in local taverns on the nights he wasn’t moonlighting as a bouncer. Taste is a product of N8tion.com, an independent television and radio network founded by brothers Myron and Otis McDaniel.

This week’s participating VP blogs:

Check them all out and keep an eye out for next week’s last 4 course Valentine’s Day Menu.

APPETIZER: Tara at Foodie brings us Herbed Smoked Salmon Mousse Croûte — smoked salmon mousse on a grilled toast drizzled with white truffle oil and sprinkled with fresh herbs.

INTERMEZZO: Right here on The Groovy Foody look for Pomegranate, Beet Root and Blood Orange Savory Sorbet served with goat cheese, thyme and crushed almonds.

 

ENTREE: Susan at 30AEATS  Brings on a sexy, Creamy and Savory Fondue (using lobster and beef)

 

 

DESSERT: Theresa at Food Hunter’s Guide whips up a Chocolate Mascarpone & Amaretto Layer Cake

 
formats
Published on 2 February, 2012, by

Valentine’s Day — synonymous with hearts and the color red.

It has a long history, steeped in blood.

Blood that runs through your veins, pumps from your heart, through your body, quickening your pulse, as your heart flutters and your skin becomes heated, flushed pink– maybe red, in anticipation of the touch of your loved one.

My favorite love poem is by Pablo Neruda.

I share it with you today, not only because it is utterly beautiful but because it speaks to the heart of the dish I have created for you this Valentine’s Day.

Salt Rose (or rose salt, as you like it.)

Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,

or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,

in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms

but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;

thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,

risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.

I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;

so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,

so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,

so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

This is the root of my dish. The deepest hues of red found in nature, imbue this dish with its ruddy stain and yet — I didn’t wish it to be sweet. Even with citrus and sugared beet and pomegranate, I wanted this dish to be like love — deep, sensual, sometimes dark, with a bit of a bite but paired always with the purity of something creamy, soft and pale in juxtaposition — like joy, like a new baby’s fragrant flesh, like the naiveté of a young lover’s first kiss.

As I thought about the flavor palette for this Intermezzo, I chose beet root for its earthy, dark taste, with just a hint of sweetness; blood orange for its fragrance and hue but also its citric zing; pomegranate for its sour as well as sweet qualities; and then I decided on thyme. Rosemary seemed too obvious and might just overpower, stealing the show but thyme — thyme is a gracious herb, yielding and harmonious, it nurtures and supports other flavors with its warm, aromatics. And thyme fittingly, originates from the  Greek word thymon, meaning “courage.” The kind of courage one must muster to declare your love for the first time — thyme is also long considered an aphrodisiac.

But we were still in danger of being a little too sweet. It lacked ardor, it needed something stronger, like that bite on the neck at the height of passion, to take it over the edge — radish. Sharp, spicy, could turn bitter if used in the wrong proportions. It was risky, like love — radish was perfect.

Pairing it with a creamy, but tart and earthen scented goat cheese, sprinkled with thyme leaves and crushed almonds would ensure a rich, silken mouth-feel, with neither flavor (sorbet nor cheese) becoming overbearing. The almonds would lend the dish some much-needed texture and crunch to round out the experience.

The result was divine.

My husband raved and devoured it.

I ate each bite slowly, luxuriating in the flavor play and textural balance.

Digital camera on the fritz- this is what you get when you go old skool. New pic to come.

A small serving goes a long way.This dish is meant to whet the appetite for a richer meal and the promise of what comes after. . .

Pair it with the drink created especially for it by Otis’ from Taste on The N8tion,  or with a slim glass of dry champagne to cleanse the palate.

But whatever you do — enjoy!

Savory Pomegranate, Beet Root and Blood Orange Sorbet

  • 1 1/2 lbs red beets, trimmed, peeled and cut into four
  • 3 large or 4 med radishes, cleaned, trimmed and cut in two (leave the peel in tact)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup of fresh squeezed blood orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 3 sprigs of thyme leaves removed and crushed between your fingers
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preparation:

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, cover the beets with just enough water to completely submerge them and boil until they are fork-tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Halfway through cooking time, add the radishes and cook until fork tender as well.

Drain the water.

Process the hot beets and radishes in a food processor or blender with the remaining ingredients, until smooth puree is formed.

Chill the mixture for an hour, finish with an ice cream maker as directed by manufacturer or freeze in an airtight container for another 2 to 4 hours before removing to serve. Let thaw 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with creamy chèvre , topped with a sprinkle of fresh thyme and crushed almonds.


 
formats
Published on 1 February, 2012, by

We love Buffalo wings at my house. When my hubby and I were dating we enjoyed noshing on these spicy wings often. Since then I have learned to make them at home, including some deliciously insane variations like my take on Portland restaurant Pok Pok’s Thai wings (I’ll post this soon!) and the boneless Buffalo hot wing, as well as experimented with other bloggers yummy hot wing dishes like Can You Stay for Dinner’s Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls(these are insanely good!)

BJs makes a great hot wing plate

So when Lewis Bear Distributing approached us to share three of the beers on their roster for a SuperBowl tailgate recipe party my first thought was– Hot Wings!

Now, I’ve seen loads of recipes for beer battered and beer marinated chicken around here on the “internets,” but none seem to pair the beer marinated chicken with Buffalo sauce. I wondered why– seems like such a natural fit to me. Which is why I decided to do it. And the results were not disappointing!

Photo courtesy of Donna Currie of Cookistry

Some of you may be thinking– where did your Build a Better Me ideals go? How can you go from A Tasty and Healthy New Year to deep fried butter n’ beer basted hot wings?

Two words: Myth and Moderation

THE FRYING MYTH

Yes, frying in oil can be bad for your health but the type of frying we’re talking about here is either shallow frying or frying at the wrong temperature– both of which cause the food to soak up that excess oil, and help to clog your arteries. The kind of frying we’re going to do, done at higher temperatures in a deep fat fryer, happens so quickly that the oil creates a crust, locking in the moisture and creating a seal that keeps the oil from soaking into your food.

You can also use healthful oils like coconut (though in this recipe I’d don’t recommend it because of its unique flavor and the fact that you want the Beer-y goodness to come through.)

From Wikipedia:

If performed properly, deep-frying does not make food excessively greasy, because the moisture in the food repels the oil. The hot oil heats the water within the food, steaming it from the inside out; oil cannot go against the direction of this powerful flow because (due to its high temperature) the water vapor pushes the bubbles toward the surface. As long as the oil is hot enough and the food is not immersed in the oil for too long, oil penetration will be confined to the outer surface. However, if the food is cooked in the oil for too long, much of the water will be lost and the oil will begin to penetrate the food. The correct frying temperature depends on the thickness and type of food, but in most cases it lies between 175 and 190 °C (345–375 °F).”

MODERATION

Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation– even moderation.” This woman really knew how to suck the marrow out of life– quite literally. ;)

I like to follow that advice and occasionally throw caution to the wind and have a good hot wing, a gooey hot fudge sundae or a few cocktails.

Though, we’ve already established that deep fat frying is not necessarily bad for you and its generally accepted these days that butter is preferred to trans fats, a whole stick of butter is a little excessive, but NOT if you’re looking for flavor and heat that stays through to the bone. So don’t make these all the time. But make them.

THE OUTCOME

These came out amazing and using the Headwaters Pale Ale by VictoryBrewing, gave them a juicy hoppy goodness that did not overpower the Frank’s Red Hot but rather complimented its heat and flavor. They were Beer-y good!

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 Lbs of Fresh Chicken Wings
  • 1  24 oz bottle of Peanut Oil
  • 1/2 cup or 1  stick butter
  • 1 1/2 Cup of Franks Original Red Hot (nothing else is as good and nothing artificial!)
  • 1 bottle of Victory IPA
  • 1 plastic or paper bag of unseasoned flour

Directions:

Using poultry scissors, separate the wings at the joints, discarding the wing end nub.

Marinate the wings in the beer for 2 hours to overnight depending on the depth of beer-y flavor you want.

Preheat oil (use a deep fat fryer and making sure your temperature is right before submerging your wings.

Put the some of the wings in the bag of flour (if using paper, double bag to avoid breakage)

Shake the bag to coat all the wings evenly with flour. Do this in small batches so as to not overload your pan and decrease the temp of your oil.

Once the is hot, place that small amount of wings in the fryer (your fryer should be comfortably full with no wings piled on top of each other — be careful not to overload.)

Fry until they are golden brown

Remove the wings from the fryer and lay them on a cooling rack with paper towels underneath to catch any excess oil that drips off.

Melt the stick butter in a saucepan on medium heat and add the Frank’s Red Hot, whisking to ensure it’s properly mixed and not separating.

Serve the wings tossed or drizzled in the sauce or for those who want a little less heat, serve sauce on the side .

Accompany with ranch or bleu cheese dressing, celery, cucumber and carrots to cool the mouth and an ice-cold beer.

Makes 32 wings

If you like hot wings as much as I do– you might want to check out this Tumblr site called Fuck yeah, hot wings!

For a chance to win some Beer-y tasty swag from Lewis Bear visit the host page at 30AEATS.

The beer was provided for the express purpose of this recipe by Lewis Beer Distributors.The photos are not of my actual hot wings (they looked amazing!) due to a camera malfunction — I hope to get my baby back from the shop today.
 
formats
Published on 26 January, 2012, by

It’s no secret, we love Italian food around my house — specifically, a great homemade pizza. I have perfected the art of pizza making in The GrooVy Foody household, trying out tons of dough recipes until I came across one that is, our idea, of perfection. So for my last recipe entry in Bob’s Red Mill(BRM) and California Olive Ranch(COR) Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge I decided to put that crust to the test — in a Calzone.

Crimini mushrooms, red onion and Italian herb blend

An Un-Whole-y Confession

Red onion, Crimini mushrooms, spinach and herbs

Though, we prefer and mostly eat whole food, cooked from scratch in our house, I will confess, that after a busy day, I have been known to pop into Trader Joe’s for pre-made doughs (in whole wheat, regular and herb), a jar of their vodka sauce, a package of nitrate-free prosciutto and some free range chicken in order to throw together my chicken, prosciutto and vodka sauce pizza, topped off with TJ’s fresh-in-the-bag organic arugula. This pizza is a crowd pleaser and it’s some that if you make it for guests, they will think you are something of a culinary mastermind, when indeed you just threw together some high quality, but pre-packed goods for a quick and easy, tummy pleasing meal.

Layered filling ingredients

Best, Quick Pizza (Calzone) Dough EVER!

But, had you just a few minutes more or a wee bit more energy, you could make your own crust and sauce (or as I do, pull some of my famous Bolo-Nessie sauce out of the freezer or grab that jar of organic sauce off the shelf at TJ’s) for a truly memorable pizza experience. Not surprisingly, the best pizza crust recipe I have EVER come across for the quick and easy variety, is one by Bob’s Red Mill (told you, I was a fan before they sponsored me!) TIP:they also sell a really great gluten-free pizza crust mix.

Into the oven

Now, there are many crust recipes on BRM’s website (many contributed by fans) but let me tell which one I prefer out of all of them — it’s Bob’s own Quick and Easy Pizza Dough and here’s why:  it’s quick AND easy just like it says. Plus, it has a wonderful chew to it, as well as the perfect texture for folks, who like a thin, floppy, New York style crust with a good pull to it.

But the REAL secret to good pizza dough is in the yeast — and BRM’s is some of the freshest, most active yeast I’ve ever worked with. Just beautiful and it lasts a long while. One 8oz bag, when stored properly, can last you for months. (If you can keep it that long because once you learn how easy this great crust can be, you’ll never call out for pizza or as in this case, Calzone, again.)

 

Finito

I used BRM’s Whole Wheat Pastry Flour and COR’s Arbequina Olive Oil for a Calzone that high in flavor but also packed full of fiber and good nutrition. My hubby and son love pepperoni, so we filled our Calzone with a thin layer of soft goat cheese, the nitrate-free variety of pepperoni you can find made by Applegate Farms or Hormel’s new preservative-free line of products, sautéed red onion and Crimini mushrooms, and topped it with a layer of grated whole milk mozzarella. I serve  this with a marinara or Homemade Bolo-Nessie sauce on the side for dipping.

Mangia!

QUICK & EASY PIZZA or CALZONE DOUGH

Adapted from: Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods 

  • 1 cup Warm Water (110°F)
  • 2 tsp 1/4 BRM’s Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 Tbsp  sugar
  • 2 cups to 2 1/4 cups  BRM Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 Tbsp California Olive Ranch Olive Oil (plus more for top and pan)

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F. Grease pizza pan with a light coating of COR olive oil; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water — let bubble for 5 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients. Beat vigorously 20 strokes and let rest 5 minutes.

FOR PIZZA:

On a floured work surface with a floured rolling-pin, roll out the dough until it is the size of the pan you will be using.

Place dough on prepared pan. Spread sauce over dough and top with your favorite toppings. Bake on middle rack of oven for 15-20 minutes. Makes one 16-inch pizza crust (12 slices).

FOR CALZONE:
  • Tear or cut dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll out dough on floured surface or stretch and toss by hand until it is double the desired size of your Calzone.
  • Fill with cheese, herbs, veggies and desired meat of your choice, keeping a 1 inch lip around the edge of the dough, filling-free so that you will be able to seal it properly. Be sure to take care not to over-stuff your Calzone and to get a nice balance of flavors.
  • Next, crimp, fold or otherwise seal the edge of your Calzone with a fork along 1 inch lip all around the edge. This will ensure your filling stay tidily inside.
  • Then, lightly coat the outside of you Calzone with olive oil using either a pastry brush or your hands and cut three venting slits in the top of your Calzone and place it on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake on middle rack of oven for 12-16 minutes.  Makes 4 medium-sized Calzones.

YOUR LAST CHANCE TO WIN!!!

A Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge Giveaway

Each week, the VP bloggers will challenge you to find (and use) the secret code word of the week, posted in the contest tab labeled “Virtual Potluck” on the California Olive Ranch Facebook page.

Each blogger will pick a single winner per week to receive a pack of the featured products from Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch.

That’s right- four weeks, 12 winners each week! That’s like 48 chances to win! The more blogs you visit the more chances you have to win~ so what are you waiting for?! Let’s get cooking (and eating!) A Tasty and Healthy New Year!

For more information on how you can win– visit the host page for links to the other sites!

 
formats
Published on 26 January, 2012, by

A delight for an anniversary or Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and Virtual Potluck is going to show you how to make more than reservations this year. Each week until Valentine’s Day four of our 12 bloggers will be putting their best food forward as part of a 4 course lovers feast and what Valentine’s Day is complete without a TASTE-y libation? So we teamed up with Otis over at Taste on The N8tion.com to make us custom cocktails to go with each course — they even whipped up some yummy non-alcoholic beverages to help you celebrate, even if you don’t imbibe.

About Taste on The N8tion

Taste is a new mixology show that features cool cocktails from the common guy. From the creative minds at N8tion.com, our resident “booze head” Otis showcases classic and not-so-classic cocktail recipes. Who is Otis???? We found him under a bar in downtown Atlanta nursing a Corona while holding a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. No seriously, after tending bars for countless college parties, he honed his bartending skills in local taverns on the nights he wasn’t moonlighting as a bouncer. Taste is a product of N8tion.com, an independent television and radio network founded by brothers Myron and Otis McDaniel.

This week’s participating VP blogs and their dishes

Check them all out and keep an eye out for next week’s 4 course Valentine’s Day Menu.

*APPETIZER by  Diabetic Foodie:  Sweet Potato Wontons

This dish is paired with a  non-alcoholic and low carb drink called A Night in Old Mandaly

*INTERMEZZO by Thyme in Our Kitchen  French onion soup

This dish is paired with a non-alcoholic drink called Light La Garda.

 

*ENTREE Cookistry: Noodles with Tomatoes, fresh basil and artichoke hearts

This meal is paired an alcoholic drink called a Grand Ginger.

 

*DESSERT by Farm Girl Gourmet: Chocolate Lovers Cheesecake

This dessert is paired with an alcoholic drink called A Peace of Heaven

 
formats
Published on 17 January, 2012, by

Best choco-cupcakes in Bella Cupcake Couture Wrappers (Meisha Bird & Blossom)

Now, you’re probably thinking, “OK, GF, now that’s a mighty big claim you’re making — BEST. . .EVER? and did you say, with QUINOA!??!”

Yes, I did and BTW, did I tell you it’s flourless and gluten-free?

No, I will not back down from my claim.

These cupcakes are so rock your socks delish that I cannot see me making a traditional chocolate cupcake ever again.

Yes, you read that right.

Yes, I put these on a pedestal –one by Sarah’s Stands http://sarahsstands.com/

The Search for the Best Chocolate Cupcake

For years, I have been looking for the perfect chocolate cupcake recipe and though I have found some great cakes along the way, none even comes close to this one.  That’s because I am SUPER and I mean, SUPER picky about chocolate cupcakes. It can’t just be chocolate and sweet. And frosting — I hate traditional buttercream– too sweet and heavy for my tastes and it overwhelms the kind of cake I prefer.

When it comes to chocolate cake, I need depth of flavor in my chocolate– midnight black, preferably. I want to taste the night sky that the cacao pods grew under in each dark mouthful. But that density cannot come at the expense of the cake’s crumb or moisture. I would rather not have cake than eat a dry piece, trying to choke it down with lots of milk. I have ditched many a cupcake over this issue.

Naked cupcakes — In food porn, this is the money shot (Bella Cupcake Couture’s Lu Lu Damask)

My Chocolate Cupcake Criteria:

  • Deep, dark chocolate flavor (night sky, remember?)
  • Delicate crumb but not crumbly
  • Moist, but durable enough to frost and carry without a crumby trail following you
  • The frosting must be rich in flavor and mouth-feel without being greasy, heavy or over-sugared

I told you I had high standards. ;) 

Which is why, when I tell you this is IT — you’d better believe me.

Grab your notebook and jot this recipe down or turn on your printer and print it out. . . NOW!

I’ll wait.  I am not joking. I wouldn’t joke about a thing like this. I take it –much– too– serious.

Cocoa, quinoa and sugar– the new cupcake trinity

A Happy Accident

I fell into this recipe, sort of by blissful accident. As you may know, me, and the 12 other VP bloggers, are spending the month using Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch products in recipes for the Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge. At the same time, most of us have also pledged to Build a Better Me (our own year-long effort to get healthier in 2012) — for my part, I decided to go gluten-free for a while. (Which was fine,because my recipes containing flour for BRM/COR promo had been completed in December, before I went gluten-free.)

Except . . . in a twist of fate, 30AEats blogger, Susan, found herself out of town (and away from her BRM products) when she needed to post last week. She ran out to procure her ingredients for last week’s challenge, except she couldn’t find the Grande Grains that were scheduled. Being resourceful, Susan opted for this week’s grain, Quinoa (read all about her adventures here) and as luck would have it, unbeknowst to Susan,  decided to make the same dish, I was going to share with you this week — Quinoa Tabouleh.

I had to start from scratch, again. I wanted to do something out of the box, something that maybe none of my other blogger friends would be doing. I thought– dessert! But the obvious choice (a grain pudding) I just did last week.

Quinoa batter before dry ingredients

Meanwhile, being gluten-free for going on three weeks was beginning to take its toll– I craved cake, cookies, bread and pasta. I knew there were gluten-free cakes made with quinoa flour and thought maybe I could make the flour myself from the dry quinoa.

I began to search for gluten-free recipes online, typing in “gluten-free cakes” and “quinoa flour cakes.” There were a lot of ingredients in these recipes and a variety of match-ups of different kinds of gluten-free flours — I couldn’t decide.

But then, I accidentally forgot to type in “flour” on my next search. I just typed “quinoa cake,” and found myself staring face to face with, what looked in pictures, to be the richest, moistest, chocolatey-ist cake I’d ever seen.

I read the post on babble.com, it said it was delicious. But, you never really know about these things. I read the comments, people were extolling the virtues of this cake– still, I wasn’t sure. There wasn’t a morsel of flour in this recipe. Just whole grain, fully-cooked quinoa and the other usual suspects– cocoa, eggs, butter, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and vanilla. Really? REALLY??

Now, I’ve been a fan of quinoa for years but as a replacement for rice or cous cous — never in baking. I was intrigued. Would it work as cupcakes? Or would they dry out too much? Would it be chalky, gritty or flavorless. Would there be a lingering bitter bite?

What the heck, I thought, I decided to dive in.

After the dry ingredients

I admit, I tweaked the recipe, just a smidge along the way, substituting some of the butter for California Olive Ranch’s Everyday Fresh Olive Oil to bring a few extra flavor notes and some heart healthy goodness to the recipe. I also whipped up a frosting (after tasting how great the cake was) that would complement the cake, but not overwhelm it.

The results were amazing! Thank goodness (like Bob Ross used to say) for happy little accidents.

If Susan had not forgotten her grains, if we had not decided to make the same dish — I may NEVER have found the world’s most perfect chocolate cupcake, which means, I woudn’t be passing it along to you. (Thank you Susan!)

Into the oven

I KNOW you want to kill me now — “Where’s the damn recipe!!” you’re shouting.

OK, OK pipe down — here it is.

But when you taste this and you inevitably swoon with delight, remember who brought it to you and think of me kindly from time to time –the girl with the perfect cupcake.

Best Chocolate Cupcakes Ever w/Honey-Cocoa Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming

The frosting is entirely my own creation and something I just whipped up out of thin air, tasting as I went until the desired consistency and flavor was reached. It is very much like a fluffy, light, chocolate mousse — rich, chocolatey with a touch of honey-kissed sweetness. It glides on smoothly and floating on top of the moist, light but deeply flavored chocolate cakes.

Cupcake Batter

  • 2/3 cup Bob’s Red Mill Organic Quinoa
  • 1 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup soymilk (you can use dairy or sub other milks if you like)
  • 4 large organic brown eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup California Olive Ranch Everyday Fresh Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Rinse and prepare the quinoa according to directions using the water measurements above. Once the quinoa is done, turn off the heat and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for another 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow the quinoa to cool. (Do not rush this.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of the cups of two 1 dozen non-stick cupcake pans (no flour) or use cupcake wrappers.

Combine the milk, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor. Add 2 cups of cooled, cooked quinoa and blend until smooth. Add the oil and melted butter and blend to incorporate.

In the meantime, mix together the sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in your mixer bowl. Add the contents of the blender and mix well. scoop the batter with an ice cream scoop into the cupcake pans and bake for 16 to 20 minutes or until the cake bounces back when lightly pressed.

Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan before serving. Frost if desired (these are delicious without frosting as well.)

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.

Makes 24 cupcakes

Frosting

4oz cream room temp cheese

1/2 cup room temp butter

1/4 cup honey

1tsp pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup cocoa

1/2 to 3/4 cup powdered sugar (depending on desired consistency)

1tBsp almond milk

Cream butter and cream cheese together in a mixing bowl, slowly adding your honey as you continue to mix. Then add carefully add the cocoa and powdered sugar, bit by bit, alternating between the two. Add vanilla and almond milk until desired consistency is achieved. I like mine light, fluffy and mousse-like. If you like yours a bit more stiff add more powdered sugar or cocoa to firm it up a bit.

Frost cupcakes when cooled.

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

Frosted Per Serving — Calories: 234, Dietary Fiber: 3.2g, Sugars: 15.3g, Protein: 4.5g
Un-Frosted Per Serving — Calories: 158, Dietary Fiber: 2.0g, Sugars: 8.4g, Protein: 3.7g

Trust me, 3 year olds are picky and he LOVES ‘em!

A Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge Giveaway

Each week, the VP bloggers will challenge you to find (and use) the secret code word of the week, posted in the contest tab labeled “Virtual Potluck” on the California Olive Ranch Facebook page.

Each blogger will pick a single winner per week to receive a pack of the featured products from Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch.

That’s right- four weeks, 12 winners each week! That’s like 48 chances to win! The more blogs you visit the more chances you have to win~ so what are you waiting for?! Let’s get cooking (and eating!) A Tasty and Healthy New Year!

For more information on how you can win– visit the host page for links to the other sites!

 
formats
Published on 13 January, 2012, by

I have an affinity for the layered, exotic flavors intrinsic in Indian food — heady mixes of Garam Masala or curry, the darkly- scented lushness of cardamom, coriander and caraway and the vibrant colors of turmeric, saffron and red chilis — these warm me, belly and soul. But it wasn’t always so.

I grew up tasting Italian, Chinese, Mexican, German, French and American style dishes, home-cooked, lovingly by my mother. While this is much more variety than some (like  my husband) grew up with, it still excluded many kinds of food that my son is  growing up with the tastes and smells of, such as Indian, Korean, Middle Eastern, Greek,  Japanese, Soul Food, Vietnamese,  Ethiopian, Thai and just about anything else we can get our hands on.

No South Asian spice for this girl - GrooVy Foody pictured here in Bamberg, Germany age 3

The point is, I never tasted Indian food as a child, so the spices used regularly in these dishes, tasted, fittingly, foreign to my tastebuds. They had a depth that my palate was not yet able to decipher. So at 24, when a dear friend of mine, who was also a vegetarian began telling me how great Indian food was, I was interested — but reluctant. The smells were strong, oniony and sweaty, I was unsure of the tofu curry dish he had whipped up but I gave it try. It was, in a word — icky.

Spices in the open air market in Arles, France

No disrespect to my friend, but he wasn’t a culinary wizard and that dish contained improperly drained tofu (bitter) and way too much curry, as well as carrots and peas that were still — crisp. I didn’t try Indian food again until I was 31 and backpacking throughout Western Europe. Sick of bangers and mash, roast and veg, jacket potatoes and the Ploughman’s served up at every pub throughout England and Scotland, I decided to give Indian food another go. No better place (except India, of course) to dive into the sensual flavors of Indian food, than the UK.

Unwittingly(and thankfully), I just happened to pick a restaurant  that is considered one of the Top Ten Indian food restaurants in Scotland for my second taste — Pataka.
Pataka Indian and Bengali Restaurant in Edinburgh, Scotland is unlike any other Indian restaurant you may have been too, mostly because of its odd choice of decor, which is completely resplendent in  Glasgow native, Charles Rennie Mackintosh‘s artwork, with beautifully carved wooden booths and high back chairs. But it was the food served there that made me a believer. If you’re ever in Scotland, I highly recommend stopping by Pataka.

The dish I’m making here is based upon Kheer (also known as Payasam or Payesh depending on the region it’s being served in) which is a loose pudding, traditionally made with rice and sometimes vermicelli (I like to use shredded coconut in place of vermicelli.) It’s often served during or at the end of celebratory meals and accompanied by raisins, saffron (for color), cashews, pistachios or almonds. To me, the milky richness and sweet, dusky flavor of this dish makes it great for ending a spicy meal, as it both calms and revives the mouth and tongue after doing battle with the heated flavors of well-seasoned Indian food.

The beauty of making Kheer at home is that you can also eat it for breakfast the next morning, a meal time that I always feel speaks of comfort to begin with.  For additional health benefits (and 5g fiber 6g protein), I decided to put a spin on this soul-satisfying dessert.

Since the Grande Whole Grains from Bob’s Red Mill are whole grains ranging from wheat, rice and barley to oats, buckwheat and sesame seeds you will have some additional thickening, due to the continued absorption of liquid, making for a slightly thicker pudding (this is why the arrowroot powder/cornstarch is less than a TBsp for a pudding.) This also means that the grains need to be pre-cooked before entering your pudding batter.

The balanced flavor of California Olive Ranch’s Miller’s Blend, with its fruit and spice, pairs perfectly in this toothsome treat.

Whole Grain Kheer (India Rice Pudding)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Grande Whole Grains (cooked)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp butter (or ghee)
  • 1tbsp California Olive Ranch Miller’s Blend Olive Oil
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 shredded coconut
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp Bob’s Red Mill Arrowroot Powder (or cornstarch) to desired thickness
Optional: 1/4 cup raisins, dried cherries, dried apricots, almonds, cashews or pistachios.

Directions:

Follow the basic cooking instructions on the package for BRB’s Grande Whole Grains.

Once done cooking remove from the burner and leave the lid on as you begin to assemble the other ingredients — this will ensure the grains continue to soften, as they absorb any leftover liquid.

Combine 1.5 cups of the milks, brown sugar,  salt and COR Miller’s Blend into a pot and bring to a boil.

Add the BRB Grande Whole Grains and return just to a boil over medium heat.

Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in coconut (and/or raisins, dried cherries or dried apricots cut into small pieces, if desired), allowing it to cook uncovered for 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally. The grains will still retain some of their chewiness but should be cooked through and quite a bit softer now.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg and remaining 1/2 cup of combined milks and 1-2 tsp of arrowroot powder.

Remove 1/4 cup of the hot grain mixture, whisking it, little by little  into the egg/milk mixture.

Once incorporated, pour the egg mixture into the rest of the hot grains, whisking to mix it quickly and keep the egg from scrambling.

Cook, stirring constantly, for one to two minutes or until to desired thick and creamy consistency.

Remove from heat, stirring in butter, vanilla, cardamom and cinnamon.

Breath in that luscious scent and lick the back of your stirring spoon — you deserve this taste.

You can serve this dish warm, room temp or cold ~ it’s delicious no matter what but my favorite is when it’s set but still warm. Happy Eating!

Makes 6 servings.

A Tasty and Healthy New Year Challenge Giveaway

WINNER Announced!

Each week, the VP bloggers will challenge you to find (and use) the secret code word of the week, posted in the contest tab labeled “Virtual Potluck” on the California Olive Ranch Facebook page.

Each blogger will pick a single winner per week to receive a pack of the featured products from Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch.

That’s right- four weeks, 12 winners each week! That’s like 48 chances to win! The more blogs you visit the more chances you have to win~ so what are you waiting for?! Let’s get cooking (and eating!) A Tasty and Healthy New Year!

For more information on how you can win– visit the host page for links to the other sites!

 
formats
Published on 10 January, 2012, by

Raising a toddler and juggling the full-time feast-or-famine-always-gotta-hustle solopreneur lifestyle of a freelance writer can be taxing enough, but with all that’s going on around here on The GrooVy Foody — creating new recipes, partnerships, promotions and giveaways and plans for more, I need good energy more than ever before.

Being a food blogger, of course, hasn’t helped matters — I cook, I take photos, I eat, I sit and write. Know what all of this translates into — besides awesome site stats? Pounds on my ass.

This is where my renewed commitment to healthful eating and a healthier lifestyle (exercise anyone?) comes into play. Apparently, others have these thoughts of renewal at the start of a new year and call them (wait for it!). . .resolutions?! ;)

My friends in the Virtual Potluck are no exception, which is why we’ve all decided to help each other in our journeys for balance and a healthier us in 2012! So, in addition to the awesome promo going on all month here (and on the 11 other VP Bloggers sites) for A Tasty and Healthy New Year, we’re launching Build a Better Me, a year long challenge to eat more healthfully, blog about it, get a bit of exercise and try and maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

Well, you’ll still get the occasional decadent dessert post  (watch out this Valentine’s Day for chocolate and cocktails!) It’s just that you’ll also be getting plenty of healthful and delicious (if it’s not delicious — we don’t eat it!) food recipes to help you stay on track with your resolutions too!

For all of the members of VP and foodies everywhere — eating healthfully means finding a balance between nourishing and nurturing — between being painfully stuffed or pleasantly satiated and as always it means local and organic (when available) whole foods ingredients. It also means stepping away from the computer for a 15 minute power walk a couple of times a day, stretching and drinking lots of water.

For me,it will also mean that I’m cutting gluten from my diet for a bit — so for readers who are looking at reducing gluten in their diets or for those that have Celiac disease, I’ll be exploring the world of gluten-free goodies and recipes for a while here on the site.

(I promise it won’t be every post!)

Happy Eating!

 

Features Stats Integration Plugin developed by YD