Crunchy Nutty Spicy Bars!


I love making my own granola bars, but these are much more exciting than just granola!

These guys here are packed with just about everything good and healthy I could find in the cupboard. And don't worry if you don't have all of these ingredients, you can substitute, mix and match, get creative! You can use just about any nut, cereal, dried fruit, it's all good.

I didn't put measurements of my dry goods because I just eyeball, but it works out to approximately one cup of each dry ingredient. Also, be sure to roughly chop each ingredient into small pieces.

Crunchy Nutty Spicy Bars (print this recipe!)

Ingredients:
Coconut oil (to grease pan)
Steel cut oats
Walnuts
Pepita seeds
Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin flax
Puff Rice Cereal
Cranberries
Dates, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1 cup honey (or agave)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp graham masala

Directions:
Grease a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish with Coconut oil and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the oats, nuts, seeds, and pumpkin flax onto a half-sheet pan. Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved.

When the toasted mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add the puff cereal and dried fruit, spices and stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and lightly press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for about 15 minutes, just enough to melt all the flavors together.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

I ended up with a lot of crumbly pieces, don't fret, toss a handful on top of your yogurt, or simply eat as a snack!











Crispy Cauliflower with Parmesan


We roast cauliflower often, by far one of my most favorite methods of cooking vegetables. I can't think of anything that doesn't taste better roasted. But I was looking for something different.

Spicy. Crunchy. Crispy.

Even though there are hundreds of recipes out there for Parmesan Cauliflower, I couldn't find the right one for me. The recipes I found were boring or had weird combinations of spices, and most of them are for cooking in the oven, and it has been too hot to bake. So, like I often do, I made up my own recipe. They were amazing, so I have to share!

I did something I don't normally do, I fried. Yes, I'm talking about submerging my perfectly beautiful and healthy vegetables into a bath of sizzling hot, oil. But not before they are lightly coated with delectable spices and panko crumbs.

I don't know if it makes it any healthier, but I used extra light olive oil. I heard that it has a higher smoke point.

The most important thing here is that these are delicious, and pretty easy to make!


Crispy Cauliflower with Parmesan Print this recipe

Ingredients:
1/2 cup extra light olive oil for frying
1 head cauliflower
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup rice flour
1 egg
Sea salt and pepper
1-2 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tbs Italian Seasoning
3-4 tbs. shredded fresh Parmesan cheese

Instructions:
Wash the cauliflower, then break up into little bite sized pieces.

Blanch the cauliflower pieces by adding them to a pot of well-salted, boiling water for about 30-45 seconds just until crisp/tender; drain, then shock for about 30 seconds in ice-water to cool; drain from ice water and pat dry with paper towel; set aside for a moment.

Add the panko bread crumbs and rice flour to a large ziplock bag, along with a pinch of salt. Beat the egg in a large bowl; add the panko, the parmesan, the paprika, Italian seasoning, garlic salt, pepper and a pinch of salt into another large ziplock bag.

To bread, add the blanched cauliflower pieces to the bag with the rice flour and panko, and very gently shake to coat the pieces well. Then, add the floured pieces to the bowl with the beaten eggs, and toss the pieces to coat with the egg. Add the pieces to the bag with the panko/parmesan mixture, and again, gently shake to coat the pieces well; take the coated pieces out and place on lined tray.

To fry, heat enough oil to shallow skillet (about ½ cup) in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, add about a third or half (depending on size of pan) of the breaded cauliflower pieces in, and allow them to fry for about 5-7 minutes, moving them around occasionally, until crispy and golden-brown on all sides; remove and drain on paper towel, sprinkle with a little salt, pepper and paprika if desired, and repeat until all pieces are fried.

To serve, allow the pieces to cool slightly, as they will be quite hot when fresh out of the oil. Serve alongside your choice of sauce, perhaps buttermilk ranch or a marinara sauce!

Campari Fennel Spritzer


Attention Campari fans! If you are looking for a refreshing cocktail that features the soft and subtle anise flavor of the herb fennel, you are going to love this Campari Fennel Spritzer.

I have always loved mixing, blending and experimenting with herbs in cocktails. I actually took a course in Mixology back in the day, and after only a few paid bartending gigs, I realized I am better on the other side of the bar! I still love playing bartender to my husband and friends, there are unlimited delicious possibilities!

Campari Fennel Spritzer (makes 2 cocktails)

Handful of fennel fronds, plus small sprigs for garnish
5 lemon wheels
6 ounces dry sparkling wine or Prosecco
2 oz. Campari
2 oz. simple syrup (see Note)
Two 2-inch-long strips of lemon peel
Ice

In a cocktail shaker, combine the fennel fronds with the lemon wheels, sparkling wine, Campari and simple syrup. Muddle 20 times. Add ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled, ice-filled mason jar. Squeeze the lemon peel over the drink and add it to the glass. Garnish with the fennel sprig and serve.

NOTE: To make simple syrup, simmer 1/2 cup water with 1/2 cup sugar in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Let the syrup cool. The simple syrup can be refrigerated for up to 1 month.

Here's a thought, to really impress your guests, coat the rim of your glasses with powdered sugar before frosting them, (I'm thinking festive holiday cocktail??)

Adapted from A MADLY STYLISH PARTY IN NEW ORLEANS

Raw Cashew Chocolate Mousse


I'm not really a big dessert blogger, but if you've never made a mousse made from cashews, I'm telling you to do yourself a favor and try this recipe, it is delicious and it's SO easy!

If it sounds too weird to be good, completely disregard the fact that it is raw, vegan, healthy, organic and easy. All you need to know is that this is an AWESOME, DELICIOUS DESSERT!

No Cooking required.

Yes,  it's true. There is NO cooking required to make this truly amazing dessert. You are sure to impress even the most critical chocolate aficionados. 



Raw Cashew Chocolate Mousse Printable recipe here

Ingredients:


1 cup cashews, soaked 5-6 hours and drain
  1. 3 tbsp cacao powder
  2. 2 tbsp coconut oil
  3. 2 tbsp raw agave nectar
  4. ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  5. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  6. 2 tbsp water, or as needed

    Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until very smooth, at least three minutes, adding more water as needed.

Spoon into glasses or serving dishes and let mousse set up in refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour.


Top with cream if desired, enjoy!



Baconfest in San Diego!

I was invited to attend a Baconeers Baconfest event and even though it was last minute, I couldn't resist! 'Baconeers' collaborated with Hormel Black Label Bacon and they have sponsored a lot of fun bacony events around town this month to promote the San Diego Bacon Festival happening this Saturday, August 30th from 1PM to 5PM, get your tickets here!



The event I went to was part of the East Village Takeover called First Annual Pigcasso Art Competition. Several talented local artists were recruited to commission a painting within 60 minutes that captures the spirit of International Bacon Day in San Diego, interesting challenge.



The winner of the art competition not only won this trophy, but also a years supply of Hormel Black Label Bacon! We were treated by Bub's at the Ballpark Mustard-Bourbon Glazed Pork Belly Skewers, they were delicious!



It was a great opportunity for us to check out the restaurant Southpaw Social Club. They are in a fantastic location, basically right behind Petco Park. They have three outdoor patios including a cozy fireplace with casual, eclectic, rustic decor. The layout is really well thought out and it has a very comfortable vibe. Although we didn't get to sample anything off the menu this time, it was riddled with temptation.



It was a great evening thank you to all the sponsors; Baconeers, Black Label Bacon, Jenny, Joe, Gus, Southpaw Social Club, all of the artists, and to Lyft for getting us there and back!

Spicy Turkey Lettuce Wraps




I was always a little skeptical of lettuce taking the place of a tortilla. Something as perfect as a taco just shouldn't be messed with. 

What convinced me to try these lettuce wraps? I am always looking for quick and easy, healthy, low carb, low calorie, low fat, gluten free dinner ideas. What I discovered is that these wraps are super delicious and a nice twist to the taco concept with an Asian flair!


To make these pescatarian friendly, substitute the ground turkey for shrimp, they taste awesome!



Spicy Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground turkey
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili pepper flakes
Ground pepper, to taste
2 cups carrots (about 4 medium), shredded
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cups mushrooms, chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, sliced thin
½ cup peanuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup teriyaki sauce
¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
½ cup (about a handful) cilantro, chopped
1 head leafy lettuce (you could use kale or baby romaine), leaves separated, rinsed and dried

Directions:

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over high heat. Season ground turkey with ground ginger, garlic powder, chili flakes and pepper then add to skillet. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon as it browns. Cook about 5 minutes or until meat is almost cooked through–but still slightly pink. Remove from skillet and place into a bowl; cover loosely with foil to keep meat warm. Set aside.

Using the same large skillet, add shredded carrots, peppers and onions and cook over medium heat until vegetables soften (about 3 minutes). Mix with wooden spoon or spatula to combine ingredients.

Add mushrooms, peanuts and garlic to the skillet and mix to combine ingredients. Cook all vegetables until softened, about 4 minutes.

Add reserved browned turkey to the vegetables. Add teriyaki sauce, soy sauce and cilantro to the meat and vegetable mixture. Combine all ingredients together and cook over medium heat.

Adjust amount of herbs and sauces to taste. Lower heat and simmer, allowing all flavors to meld. Top with cilantro.

While turkey mix is simmering, prepare lettuce leaves. Use a clean dishcloth or paper towels to dry leaves well.

Divide about 1/3 cup of turkey mix among each of the lettuce leaves.

I find it helpful to start eating from the stem side and roll the leafy side up to hold in the juices and filling.

Enjoy!








Shakshuka - [Eggs with Meat and Tomato Sauce]


Shakshuka is a popular dish in North Africa and the Middle East. It is basically eggs cooked in a thick, spicy sauce of tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic and spices. I just like to say it, Shakshuka! [shahk-SHOO-kah]



There are many variations of Shakshuka, and I imagine there is a similar version of this dish in every culture. Here is a very basic recipe which I have adjusted to our tastes and preferences, I hope you enjoy!

Shakshuka [Eggs with Meat and Tomato Sauce]
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 small yellow onion, sliced
1 cup fresh organic spinach
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 can organic diced tomatoes
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
16 oz ground sausage meat (optional)
1 tbsp fresh oregano
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
4 fresh organic, pasture-raised eggs
Goat cheese crumbles for garnish
Chopped cilantro for garnish

Instructions:

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add sliced onions and red bell pepper, sauté for 5 minutes until onions are translucent.

Add sausage to skillet and break and spinach, let sausage cook and spinach wilt

Add in diced tomatoes, herbs and spices; mix to combine.

Gently spread an area and crack an egg in, continue with remaining eggs. To cook quicker, cover the skillet.

Cook until eggs are at desired doneness, about 4 to 6 minutes.
  
Garnish with cilantro, crumbled goat cheese, paprika and freshly cracked black pepper.

Print this recipe!

Cardamom Fig Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

These are the seeds inside the cardamom pods

Cardamom is one of my favorite spices. Popular in Indian cooking, it is one of the main constituents of Garam Masala. It is compellingly strong, yet delicate and sweet.

Considered one of the most valuable spices in the world due to its medicinal and therapeutic properties, cardamom is often used for relieving digestive problems induced by garlic and onion intolerance. It is very beneficial in oral/mouth health and treating halitosis, lowering blood pressure and it has tremendous antioxidant properties. 

Cardamom is used in different ways by different cultures. In the Middle East it's popular to flavor coffee, in Scandinavian communities it's used as a dessert baking spice. In India it is a savory spice for curries. You can also find it used for poached fish, meat dishes, fish stews and it's wonderful on sweet potatoes. 

We are addicted to cardamom in our coffee! We simply add a teaspoon of crushed (an excuse to use my mortar and pestle!) cardamom seeds to our ground coffee and brew in our regular drip coffee maker. Or, if you want to get fancy, try this Pakistani Coffee with Cinnamon & Cardamom from Global Table Adventure.

The recipe below sounds insanely interesting, I'm pretty sure I will be making these this afternoon!


CARDAMOM FIG CHOCOLATE OATMEAL COOKIES 


Recipe Adapted From: Food52
Prep Time: 1 Hour Cooking Time: 15 Mins Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Mins


Ingredients:

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 ounces dark chocolate chunks (we like 70% cacao)
1 1/4 cup dried figs, chopped (soaked in water if too dry)


Directions:


Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy with an electric or stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

In a separate bowl, stir together all of the remaining (dry) ingredients. Stir these into the butter mixture on low speed until fully combined.

Refrigerate the dough 30-60 minutes before proceeding.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Scoop the dough in 2-3 Tbs. scoops onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake each sheet one at a time (meanwhile keep the rest of the cookies chilled in the fridge while the first batch bakes) until the edges of the cookies are golden but still look a little doughy in the center, about 15-18 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through the bake time.

Cool the cookies on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. 


Enjoy with a cup of cardamom flavored coffee!