Thursday, February 27, 2014

Furniture Conversion

Excuse me while I interrupt this regularly scheduled food blogging to showcase some of the newest transformations to our NYC apartment!

The living room is my pride and joy, I really enjoy the office nook in our bedroom, and the kitchen has undergone perhaps the most drastic of changes!

But most recently, I have been working on finishing the bedroom. Moving is expensive, we worked with what we had originally and aside from making a few purchases with my Anthro discount before it expired, we acquired some furniture from my generous parents and really, we had TOO much to work with. The only thing missing? Nightstands. So, for the last six months we've laughed at our drooping boxes and tupperware that served the purpose until I located two thrifty finds for under $20 each. With a new can of paint and a little TLC, this nightstand project came in at under $50 for these little Drexel values and a fresh look four our room.

Do you see how wonky all of these pictures are? I need a photography class. Also a blogging class. Yipes.


(Bedroom before)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Cran-Apple Pie

Much like the title of this recipe, this pie is quite a mouthful. But there are so many delicious ingredients! And I didn't even mention the lemon zest, or the fact that it is gluten free, or that it only contains honey as a sweetener. How do you like them apples? Very bad pun intended, as it isn't even that funny.


I do what I want these days.

Also, saying that I do what I want is probably just a cover-up for the fact that I don't do what I want. But it is fine. 

This is me attempting to get it together. Time to get back on the horse. Months of sickness and I have experienced much, found health, hope to keep it for a long, long time, and in the midst of processing all of the feels, and what I have learned, and where I should go from here, I sometimes get a little bit stuck! But no longer! There is no time for that. 

I spend a lot of moments brainstorming about how to thank all of you who have been so wonderful to me during very hard times, and I find that my heart gets really overwhelmed and I have to make pie.

Valentine's Day is a commercial joke, but if it encourages others to give love more than usual, let's celebrate it! This is my valentine to you, a little pie with hearts on it to let you know I am so thankful for your support and prayers.

This also may or may not be for a very special dinner this evening. Two of my best friends from my growing up years are DATING! Double dates?! All of the love! It's too much for me. I just can't. 

Enjoy the snowy day! Stay in! Make delicious food, and don't forget dessert! Give someone some love tomorrow whether or not you have a hunny, got it? I personally will be at a ladies only party for fondue and I am not sorry. 

And for G, you are the butter to my bread and the breath to my life - love you! Thanks for that special quote, Julia Child! 

The Best Gluten Free Crust
makes one double crust

2 and 1/4 c gluten free all purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
10 tbs chilled butter, grated
1/2 c chilled whole milk
1/4 c ice water 

- Combine the dry ingredients, then mix in the grated butter with a fork until it resembles meal. Remember throughout this process that there is no gluten in this dough, so you can't overwork it! Add in the milk to incorporate and add enough ice water until it comes together to form a ball. Divide in half, refrigerate in saran wrapped discs for 30 minutes. While in the fridge, begin on the filling.

Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Cran-Apple Filling
if you only desire to make this as a compote, just cook down the apples with the cranberries for a tasty sauce to accompany ice cream!

3 tbs butter
1 vanilla bean, scraped
2  generous c frozen cranberries
1/2 c water
3 tbs honey
4 generous cups apples with skins on, diced to the size of the cranberries for consistency
zest of 1 lemon

- In a small saucepan, melt the butter and vanilla beans over medium heat until browned, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a small bowl to set aside. Add to the same saucepan, the cranberries, 1/4 c water and 3 tbs honey. Simmer until the cranberries pop and the mixture starts to gel, about 3-4 minutes. Toss in the apples, the brown butter vanilla mixture, the lemon zest, and add another tbs of honey or so to taste. Preheat the oven to 375.
- Take one of the discs of pie dough out of the fridge and place between two pieces of parchment or plastic wrap and roll out. Place into the bottom of the pie plate, pour in the filling. Roll out the second piece of dough and create a top layer OR cut into the shapes you desire, keeping the dough chilled and the cut pieces in the freezer as this gluten free mixture softens and breaks easily. Work quickly and keep things cold! Brush the top crust with egg, sprinkle with raw sugar and bake at 375 for 45-60 minutes until top is browned to your liking.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Grain Free Mexican Lasagna

Does anyone else out there get the insatiable craving for Mexican food? Usually when it attacks, I could go for any number of food joints in Austin, whether it's Tex Mex, authentic, or somewhere in between. I find myself missing food staples in Austin often, and even though I live in a largely Dominican neighborhood in NYC, most of the folks don't speak English so I usually don't know what to order. While I am working on that little detail, I have to fend for myself. And on top of that, I need to stay away from grains and processed corn.

Enter this little recipe. All of the delicious, wholesome flavors we know and love in Mexican food, minus the guilt. Also, as a major bonus, you can make two 8x8 or pie/cake pans up (one for the freezer!?! YESSS!) or a large pan for a crowd. If you're going to spend some time sauteing zucchini, why not make it count for two meals!?

Mmmm. Bye!

Mexican Lasagna
serves 8-10

4 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise and thin (6-8 slices per zucchini)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red onion, sliced thin
1.5 pounds ground turkey or beef
2 tbs cumin
2 tbs chili powder
1 15 oz can rotel, or diced tomatoes with chilies, OR just diced tomatoes and add in your own diced jalapeno
1 can black beans, drained
1.5 cups corn, frozen or fresh
1 cup of your favorite salsa (salsa verde is VERY nice!)
pinch of salt and pepper

1.5 cups preferred cheese, grated (Mexican, cheddar, whatever floats your boat)
Green onions and sour cream for topping

-Preheat your oven to 350 and heat a large skillet over medium high heat with a tbs of olive oil and begin to saute each zucchini slice, about a minute per side and until a little browned and softened. Do this in batches, adding oil as necessary in between, until all of your slices are sauteed. Set zucchini aside.
-Saute the onion in another tbs of olive oil to soften, add in garlic to brown for about a minute, then mix in your ground meat, cooking until no longer pink. Throw in the spices to incorporate, then the diced tomatoes, beans, and corn for a few minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat and prepare your pan (or pans) - using either 2 pie sized or 8x8 pans or one 9x13 by puting 1/2 cup of the salsa on the bottom of the pan. Begin with a layer of zucchini to cover the bottom of the pan, then pour of the filling, a little cheese and repeat to your desired number of layers, ending with zucchini on top, the remainder of the salsa, and a healthy covering of cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly and serve with green onions and a dollop of sour cream!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Brown Paper Bag Turkey!

Hello Friends!

For those of you who just watched today's episode of ABC's The Chew, you might have seen me for a few seconds introducing the recipe I told you about in my previous post! I had the lovely opportunity to pitch this turkey recipe with two other fantastic ladies, Helen and Deena! Congratulations to Deena for her tasty winning recipe and for an incredible job cooking with Mario Batali on the segment after ours! The whole process was super fun, the crew members are all so kind and so entertaining, and the five hosts (Clinton Kelly, Carla Hall, Michael Symon, Mario Batali, Daphne Oz) are all extremely friendly and a ton of fun to be around. And I must say, having the Pioneer Woman on the show that day was icing on the cake, as she was my original blogging inspiration! If I could work for any TV show, it would totally be this one. What a fun time!

So, several of you have asked for this brown paper bag recipe! As Michael Symon mentioned in his comments, the result is a moist bird, and isn't that what we all want after all of that hard work and preparation? So, here you are! Special thanks to Dorothy Arnold for keeping this recipe around for so many years and to my Mom, for helping me figure out the ins and outs of how it works! May the Thanksgiving meal planning commence!!

Turkey in a Brown Paper Bag

1 turkey, giblets/neck removed
4 tbs butter, room temperature
olive oil for drizzling
salt and fresh ground black pepper 
1/2 tsp paprika (or other seasoning, my sister-in-law's family uses lemon pepper!)
1 onion, quartered
1 apple, quartered
1 lemon, halved
5 cloves garlic, smashed
(roasting pan and 2 brown paper bags)

1) Pat the turkey dry and place in your roasting pan. Allow turkey to sit at room temperature for an hour or so before preheating your oven to 375.
2) While the oven is preheating, salt the inside of the bird and stuff with the onion, apple, lemon, and garlic.
3) Rub the butter underneath the skin of the turkey breasts, slathering all over. Apply olive oil liberally to the entire bird, underside included. Grease her up!
4) Liberally salt the outside of the bird, adding fresh pepper and paprika at this time as well. Truss the legs, tuck the wings.
5) Place one bag over the entirety of the roasting pan/bird seam side up, and then the other, overlapping the bags. Sprinkle the top of the bags with water and place in the 375 degree oven for 13-15 minutes per pound (20 minutes if you choose to stuff the cavity with stuffing) or until a thermometer pierced through the bag and into the bird reads 163-170. Tear the bag open carefully to allow steam to escape. Allow to rest 20 minutes before carving. And remember, don't allow the bags to touch the actual heating element... otherwise, there is no risk of fire here as the burning temperature for paper bags is 451!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Grain Free Punkin' Pie!

Oh hey, blog! I've been so busy healing (which included a fantastic trip to Ponce Inlet for my birthday) that I have neglected you! So, here I am! 28. Feeling the best I've felt in months, and hopefully on the permanent up and up! Although ulcerative colitis is a horrible, humiliating disease, I have spoken to so many who have overcome in one way or another and who are doing so well. I struggled more than I thought was possible for an entire year and I am so ready to say good riddance to pain! I am beyond thankful for the words of wisdom from those with the disease and those of you who are just so wise in life experience, and I am ready to move forward! C'mon, body! Cooperate!

Thankfully, moving forward not only means getting my life together again and making meals once more for my husband and I, but also includes practicing and performing again (woohoo!) as well as some fun culinary-related excitement! 

I've gotta tell you, it was kind of weird to be back in my home state of Florida, soaking up the rays a la summertime, after beginning to experience NYC fall! But don't you worry, I slipped back into that relaxing state for a few days and stocked up on vitamin D that is so necessary while I am decreasing prednisone.(Can't wait to get this junk out of my body and lose the moon face!) 

But how lovely it was to return to NYC and our cozy little apt with the fall breeze blowing through my curtains! We jumped right back into the season with our housewarming party that included apple cider sangria (IN a pumpkin!!!) and finished off my birthday celebrations by being part of my favorite TV show, the CHEW! While we were there, I filled out a survey about my favorite turkey preparation to win a chance to be on the show as a guest. Now let me tell you, a fried turkey is one of the most delicious forms of preparation, in my opinion. But, last year my dear sister-in-law introduced the Luce family to her mother's tried and true turkey in a brown paper bag. What a unique preparation, and one my Mom used for many years that I had completely forgotten about! Katharine's Mom and mine have different ways of dressing the bird up, but both produce perfectly moist results, really enhancing the flavor of the bird instead of covering it up with injections or sauces. So! Keep an eye on the Chew Thanksgiving episodes, and wish me luck as I compete with this recipe for a chance to cook with one of the chefs on the show! 

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I tested a grain free pumpkin pie recipe yesterday, and made a video of myself doing it, since some of you have requested such ridiculousness. I have to say, I need a production team or a better recording device... working on that. IN the meantime, you're on your own making this one! Luckily, it's easy as... pie!

Grain Free Coconut Flour Crust

4 tbs butter, room temperature
1 tbs honey
2 eggs
1/2 cup coconut flour
dash of salt

- Preheat oven to 350! Whisk together the butter and honey, add in the eggs to incorporate and toss in the coconut flour and salt. Stir until mixed well and press into a pie plate. Could that be any easier? Par bake in the oven for 10 minutes and mix up your pie filling in the meantime.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

1 can organic pumpkin (or roughly two cups roasted homemade)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbs pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup honey
1 tbs water
1/4 cup goat yogurt (use Greek or plain, too)

- Combine all ingredients to incorporate, pour into the pie filling and bake at 350 for an hour or until no longer jiggly! 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Brown Butter Banana Bread made with Coconut Flour and Honey

Today, I finally got out my Canon to take a real photo. As it turns out, I am still in need of a crash course on photography in general, not to mention food styling! The recipes are still pretty quality, though. I can vouch for that! This one especially. It tastes very similar to banana bread made with all purpose flour and brown sugar. To me, that is a huge success. It's moist and extra delicious with some grass fed butter slathered on top.

Brown Butter Banana Bread
1 loaf

1 cup coconut flour, sifted
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 very ripe bananas
4 eggs
6 tbs butter, browned in a sauté pan
4 tbs honey
1 tsp cinnamon
dash of ginger and cloves if you like

- Preheat your oven to 300 and line a loaf pan with greased parchment paper (I actually ran out and used well greased foil as a liner and it worked just fine!)
- Combine the first three ingredients in a small bowl. Mash the bananas, add in the butter and honey to incorporate and whisking constantly, add in the eggs (just in case your butter is still a little warm, you don't want to scramble the eggs.) Toss in the spices and the dry ingredients to stir until smooth. Pour into the pan and bake for about an hour and fifteen minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool before removing from the pan for at least ten minutes.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Quick Berry Jam

Shopping for groceries in NYC is a fun adventure. I think it brings a new motivation and maybe a little bit more fun to the grocery game! Juilliard is a stop away from Trader Joe's and pretty close to Whole Foods, so I send G by there a few times a week for some essentials after his rehearsals. The remainder of our grocery items are picked up in open air markets or a block down the street at C Town when we need something quick. Of course, I could stand to do a bit more planning, but with my diet still not nailed down and my brain a little more confused than usual, I'm not having much luck with being super organized just yet! I'll get there, hopefully soon.

G brought back an assortment of berries the other day, but sadly, they started going downhill faster than I would have liked. This has happened to all of us, I'm sure! But who wants to throw out super expensive berries? Shoo! Turned those suckers into a very simple jam earlier today. I think canning in big batches is a lovely use of time, but I haven't been able to commit to that kind of work recently, nor have I had pints and bushels of produce to do so with. This recipe just makes a little jar to have in the fridge, and it is only sweetened with honey, to allow for more natural fruit flavor and a little more health! Grab those nearly-moldy berries and make this tasty spread in a jiffy!

Quick Berry Jam

2 cups fresh berries, washed
*I used one cup of raspberries, no need to chop, and one cup finely diced strawberries
zest and juice of one lime
3 tbs honey

-Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce to a calm simmer and allow to do so for about 40 minutes. You don't have to babysit it too much in the beginning, but keep an eye on it and stir more frequently toward the end or if it seems to foam up too much (just in case it decides to burn!) Allow to cool and store in the fridge.