Cherry Zucchini Muffins with Goat Yogurt & Honey

So, it's a long long story, but in here's the short version for now....

I recently purchased some SaladMaster cookware through a friend who sells them. If you don't already know about this company and this type of waterless cooking, you really should enlighten yourself. It's much healthier for you and everything seems to cook really quickly at low temperatures. 

Anyways, I have been practicing and practicing the new cooking technique and let me tell you, it's been a long uphill battle. It should be fairly easy to follow a recipe but of course, seeing as though I don't follow recipes, I am pretty much SUCKING at it. Put it this way, this Cherry Zucchini Muffin recipe was originally intended to be a "healthy cake".

The idea with Saladmaster and other waterless cooking, is that you can bake cakes on the stove top in a pan in about 15 mintues at a low temp.

I've seen people do it and it totally works. The best part is that you don't need sugar or salt or any added oils. Just enough liquid, which in this case comes from the fruit and eggs or milk, so that the thing doesn't burn.  

I made up this recipe in my head {yeah, at times I'm very fortunate to have this skill but it can also be a mess sometimes} and tested it out in the pan. Well, something went wrong. Not quite sure what. The flavor was there, but the pan was burned and it didn't come out in the shape of a cake but rather a pile of chunky berry sand. 

So, I decided to revert back to "normal" baking and tweeked the recipe a bit...and, voila! Healthy, tasty, low-sugar, gluten-free, no oil, no egg muffins. PERFECT! 

And what better than my son's favorite snack - goat yogurt - to top them with!! So tasty and hearty for a great breakfast or snack. 

Muffin Recipe

1c almond flour
1c gluten-free baking flour mix
1/2 c coconut flour
1/2 xylitol
1 1/4 c cherries, chopped
1/4c zucchini, shaved
3/4 almond milk or water {or 3 eggs, beaten in a blow by hand}
2 Tbls local honey

coconut oil, for greasing the muffin pan. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a bowl combine all the dry stuff - flour and xylitol. Set aside. 
Meanwhile, chop cherries into quarters. Using a grater, or a cheese shaver, grate zucchini. 
Mix zucchini, cherries and honey in a bowl but SAVE 5 TBLS for the top of each muffin. Add water or almond milk to flour mixture. Then add the cherry/zucchini mixture. 

Grease muffin tins/pan with coconut oil.

Using your fingers and a spoon, put a layer of freshly grated zucchini on top of each muffin. Like you would a frosting or topping. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes. 

Note: The muffins don't rise much, so fill the muffin tins until completely full. These are dense and filling muffins.

Topping / Frosting

1 container plain whole greek yogurt
2 tsp - 1 Tbls honey {to taste}

Blend honey and yogurt well. Top each muffin with honey yogurt when ready to eat.

Note: Don't top the muffins until you're ready, this is is important. You might want to store the muffins in a container or freezer, so leave the yogurt off. Once you are ready to eat them make more greek yogurt topping. 

Peach & Cilantro Tempeh Salad :: Vanilla Fig Coconut Ice Cream

Summer is officially in full-effect! It's not only sweaty hot around here but the beaches are full of people, stores and parks are crowded, traffic is crazy and well, my taste buds are all over the place. 

Instead of craving comfort food, I crave fresh produce, sweet coffee {really weird}, green drinks, watermelon, crunchy veggies, white wine and yes, ICE CREAM and popsicles.

Today I have decided to share a really flavorful, Summery but light dish followed by FRESH in-season banana fig ice cream for dessert. No dairy and not a lot of cooking.

Tempeh is one of my favorite vegetarian proteins because it comes from WHOLE fremented soy beans, not flour or soy milk. It's got a lot of protein and vitamins. It also has a really hearty taste. I like to cook it the same way I would cook salmon had I been cooking salmon or stir fry meat in a wok {which I don't eat}. By the way, did I mention, it's meat-eater approved?

Makes a great lunch or light dinner. 

ORANGE TEMPEH & PEACH CILANTRO SALAD
serves 2 dinners, 3 lunches/snacks

1 package tempeh, chopped into chunks
1 peach, thinly sliced
1 large handful chopped cilantro
4 TBLS tamari
1/2 TBLS oil of choice
1 orange
1 avocado

In a small bowl combine tempeh, tamari and oil. Cut the orange in half. Set aside half the orange. Squeeze the juice over the tempeh mixture and using a grater or shaver, grate the orange peel into the mixture as well. Let sit for 10 minutes. Stirring a few times. 

Meanwhile, in another larger bowl combine sliced peaches and cilantro. Using the other half of the orange, squeeze orange juice into the bowl. 

Heat your stove to low/medium heat. In a frying pan, add the entire tempeh mixture. Let cook on one side until the moisture/liquid starts to harden and turn dark color {aka reduce the sauce}. After about 5 minutes of cooking on that side, using a metal spatula, scrape the pan and toss it again, coating the rest of the tempeh in reduction sauce. The tempeh should be pretty brown from the tamari, about 5 more minutes. 

One a plate slice the avocado into long pieces. Arrange on plate. Top with the peach salad. Then top the salad with warm browned tempeh. 

Enjoy! 

Dessert is especially fresh and healthy. With only honey and bananas as a sweetener it's a perfect way to end the day or maybe even START the day. I love having cold ice cream for breakfast on a hot Summer day, especially one with in-season fruit, coconut and honey. 

FIG NON-DAIRY ICE CREAM RECIPE
About 6-8 servings

4-5 fresh figs, sliced in half, skin on
1.5 frozen bananas
1 can organic coconut milk {creamy & full-fat}
1-2 heaping TBLS raw local honey {add more or less honey to taste}
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom, powder
1/2 vanilla bean
5 mint leaves, choopped

Chop 4 figs and break the frozen bananas in half. Add to a high speed blender. Open can of coconut milk and add that to blender as well. Mix on high until totally smooth and no chunks {you can keep chunks if you'd like}. Add honey and spices. Using a knife, cut open the vanilla bean. Scrape out the seeds in the inside. Use the sticky black seeds, and discard the shell.

Blend again on high until thoroughly mixed.

Add to your ice cream maker and follow directions. Should only take you 30-40 minutes of freeze time.

note: because we don't use dairy, the ice cream tends to take a bit longer to freeze in the ice cream maker. Be patient. If it doesn't completely get hard like traditional ice cream, you can put in freezer for another 10-20 minutes before scooping out. 

Top each bowl with a mixture of fresh figs, finely chopped and fresh chopped mint.

Easy Snack #2 :: Mango Sorbet

This recipe has been perfected over the past few weeks. It was a random combination that I thought up one day and I was pretty happily surprised at the outcome. Even better is that my kids wolfed it down as well. It's refreshing, tangy and great for the entire family. 

It is so easy to make and I liked it as an afternoon snack. Healthy and hits the spot. Enjoy...

MANGO SORBET RECIPE

4 small African mangos, sliced into chunks
2 oranges, juiced {squeeze with hands}
1 lime, juiced {squeeze with hands}
1/2 vanilla bean, insides scraped out, discard the shell
1/2 - 1 Tbls honey {optional}
7 drops stevia {optional}

Chill ice cream bowl in freezer overnight. Mix all of the above ingredients in a Vitamix and blend until smooth and there are no chunks. Remove ice cream bowl and pour mixture in bowl. Start ice cream maker and in about 30 minutes it should be ready. 

note: Sweeteners are optional and not necessary but the small mangos tend to be very tangy/tart. This recipe does very well with the stevia honey combo. But you can use whichever you like best. Or agave nectar or sugar.  

Meredith Is SOCCA Obsessed

Anyone who knows me - MEREDITH BAIRD - well, or has lived with me, knows that my lazy culinary specialty is the "Little Pizza". The Little Pizza consists of either a sprouted grain Ezekiel Tortilla or an Ezekiel Brown Rice Tortilla (depending on my mood), topped with my baked tomato sauce, steamed broccoli, lemon, evo, red chili flakes and goat cheese (if I am feeling indulgent). I have eaten this dish in varying versions since middle school. It was the first crowd pleasing vegetarian dish that "came up with", and I've never met someone who doesn't like it. I usually reserve it for casual weekday nights, but every now and then it gets served at a dinner party- shame! (Roast a red pepper and add Kalamata olives for dinner party style!) This dish is so easy, and so good. No matter what time of year, we eat the Little Pizza about one night a week- but recently it got a face lift ! 

So, what happened? 

I've been on a cookbook ordering rampage. Inspired or something like it. Mugaritz, The Fat Duck, Noma, Eleven Madison Park, and a few other coffee table beauties have made there way onto the shelves, but the books that have really been turning me on are Dennis Cotter's. His books For the Love of Food, Wild Garlic, Gooseberries and me..., and Cafe Paradiso are all excellent vegetarian cookbooks that will never go out of style. Reading his recipes remind me of the time when I would pour over the Moosewood Cookbooks, Vegetarian Epicure, Linda's Kitchen etc. All of these cookbooks are the ones that taught me how to cook before I took the leap into the land of raw food. Cozy, classic, vegetarian food. Yum. In my perusing I ran across a recipe for Socca. I've had Socca before, but never as a "pizza"- obviously, I had to try it. 

Socca is a chickpea flour pancake that originated in the south of France. It is a relative to the pancake or crepe (depending on how you look at it.) It is naturally gluten free, grain free and vegan- and it is one of the most easy recipes on the planet. This recipe seemed like a totally - NO DUH - moment.  

So I've decided to ditch the frozen Ezekiel for a while and get with the SOCCA program!

Meredith's Little Socca Pizza Recipe
Serves 2

Socca

1 Cup Chickpea Flour, sifted 
1 1/4 Cup Water 
1 Tbsp Olive Oil 
Salt 
Pepper 

Whisk all ingredients together. Allow this mixture to sit for at least 30 minutes or longer. (Some say that you can make it in the morning and let it sit in the fridge all day. I haven't been organized enough to do this). The point of allowing the mixture to sit is so that the flour absorbs the water. Remember, the flour is actually a bean, so if you think about it - letting it soak makes a lot of sense. 

Preheat Oven to 450 with a cast iron skillet in the oven. (ie. heat the skillet)  

Pull the skillet out with oven mits, and coat with a generous amount of olive oil. 

Pour Half of the batter in the skillet and allow to bake for approximately 10 minutes. 

Flip socca out of pan. 

Preheat the skillet again, before making the second pancake. (I made the mistake of not doing this, and it doesn't come out as well) 

Makes 2 10 inch Socca 

If you prefer a slightly crisper crust, throw the finished pancakes back in the oven for a few minutes before topping.

Baked Tomato Sauce

1 Pint fo Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1 Tbsp Olive OIl 
Pinch of Salt 
Pinch of Red Chili Flakes 

Toss tomatoes with olive oil, salt and chili flakes. Bake at 450 for about 15 minutes. (You can do this while you are heating the skillet) 

1 Red Bell Pepper, roasted 
1 Head of Broccoli (or Broccoli Rabe) Steamed 
Fresh Goat Cheese (Optional) 
Pine Nuts (Optional)

Assembly

Top the Socca pancake with the roasted tomato sauce, steamed broccoli, goat cheese and pine nuts. Drizzle with a little olive oil and lemon. If desired, toss back in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese. 

SO GOOD and SO EASY. 

I served this with the most amazing Chinon Rose. 

I will be experimenting with other toppings. I'm feeling a tostada version + margaritas coming on! Stay tuned.... 

XOXO Meredith Baird

Spinach Pasta with Organic Summer Veggies

It's Summer time and I couldn't be more excited. I have been extremely busy building our new house but have so many recipe ideas up my sleeve...all I need is a little more time in the day, sans kiddos {that won't be happening now that it's Summer, big sigh}. But this dinner came out so wonderful the other night and I just had to share it with everybody. It's the perfect recipe for my household because of its versatility. It can be made vegan or just vegetarian or even raw vegan. It fits everybody's diet needs and tastebuds. 

The base is a brown rice spinach pasta and vegan pesto. The "sauce", which is more of a big summer salad, is a raw dairy-free Summer veggie salad. You can add parmesan for a nutty cheesy flavor or leave it off for a dairy-free version which still tastes fantastic. 

The pasta fills up the hungry people. But leave it out if you're not as hungry and just eat the veggies as a salad. My kids at the pasta only. {of course}.

Pasta Recipe

4oz 1/2 box spinach brown rice pasta noodles, cooked
3 Tbls vegan pesto {cheeseless}
3 Tbls shredded parmesan cheese, optional

After the noodles are boiled and soft, add pesto and parmesan. If you don't eat dairy, leave the cheese off. It's still very very tasty. 

Summer Salad "Sauce" Recipe

1c chopped cherry tomatoes {quartered or chopped in half}
1 large or 2 small zucchini squash, thinly sliced using a peeler
1 ear corn, kernals cut off using a knife
1c sugar snap peas, cut lengthwise or in half
2 Tbls olive oil
2 Tbls seasoned rice vinegar
1 1/2 pinches sea salt
pepper, to taste
1 heaping teaspoon vegan pesto sauce, optional

Combine all of the chopped veggies in a bowl. Add the vinegar, olive oil, sea salt and pesto. Mix again and let sit an hour or so before eating. You don't have to let it sit but the flavor combine better as they sit. 

Pour the salad/sauce over the pesto pasta for a delicious dinner.

Top with fresh basil and/or parmesan cheese for added flavor. 

Enjoy!

note: I buy vegan pesto at the local health food store. If you don't have vegan pesto, substitute traditional, cheesy pesto. You can also make your own fresh pesto at home and store in fridge for weeks at a time.