Month: February 2015

Mission Fig Sea Salt Fudge

fig fudge

This will be our first post during the Daniel Fast, and I have to admit- it was very difficult at first to navigate this new world of food. I was stuck making boring and tasteless salads, and after a few days I had resorted to snacking on popcorn. Now that is a sorry excuse for a lunch!

Recently, however, we have been having such great luck with inventive recipes that use less common ingredients. The fast involves the elimination of meats, dairies, cheeses, eggs, refined sugars, and leavening products from our diet. It has been difficult to find good desserts with these seemingly ridiculous restrictions. Then, a few days ago, I discovered a paleo recipe for fig fudge.

FIGS! I totally forgot about figs! We use them to make cucidati every winter, but I have never thought to use them in anything else. They are beautifully and delicately sweet and have such a wonderful texture.

My one problem with the original recipe is that it actually isn’t Daniel Fast friendly. It includes honey- which is an added sugar that we cannot eat during this time of fasting. So, I did have to do a bit of rearranging in terms of the texture and ingredients, but I have to admit the result is phenomenal. I NEVER would have expected egg-free, sugar-free*, dairy-free fudge to be this delicious! It is also SO easy to make. Even if you are not doing the Daniel Fast, this is a fabulous dessert option that will keep everyone happy and healthy!

fig fudge

A few notes before we get started:

This recipe does call for a food processor, so you will need that piece of equipment. Obviously, the better the food processor, the easier it will be to make this. However, we have a fairly small and cheap food processor and it got the job done in two batches, so it shouldn’t be a problem!

Also, it is fairly important to your taste buds that you use mission figs and coarse sea salt. I know that these are specific ingredients and everyone reading probably wants to use table salt and the figs on the tree in their backyard. However- I cannot promise that the fudge will taste the same or even yummy at all if you change out those ingredients.

Personally, I adore the combination of sea salt and cocoa and would argue that this is the only way to add salt to your desserts. This dessert is meant to satisfy that desire for sweet ‘n’ salty at the same time- so keep that in mind! With the figs, there is just nothing better than a dried mission fig! It is the only kind I will use in my cucidati and it is the only kind I will use for this fudge. They can be easily bought already dried, in bulk, from Whole Foods or even Safeway!

fig fudge

*I say these are sugar-free, because they do not contain any refined sugars. We did use coconut sugar, but we consider this to be Daniel Fast friendly, as it is created via natural processes, and contains a variety of nutrients that refined sugar does not. You are welcome to do away with the coconut sugar entirely, but I fear the cocoa powder might then create an extremely bitter flavor.  Also- to keep these sugar free you must use 100% real vanilla extract. Often, imitation vanilla extract has refined sugars in it.

Mission Fig Sea Salt Fudge

(makes about 16 fudge balls)

Ingredients

2 cups dried, mission figs
1/2 cup roasted cashews
3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt plus more for dusting

fig fudge

First, prepare the figs by slicing off any stems that remain attached.

fig fudge

Next, slice the figs into quarters. This step is especially important for anyone with a cheaper or smaller food processor. We had difficulty when we tried to blend them whole, and it just overwhelmed the blades.

fig fudge

After this point, you might have to work in two batches, depending on the size of your food processor.

Now, place the cashews and the figs into the food processor. Blend them together to create a loose paste.

fig fudge

Add in the rest of the ingredients, and blend everything together. At this point the paste should be coming together so that you can easily form it into balls. As for the water amounts, it will take some experimenting. We used about 5 teaspoons per batch (10 teaspoons total). The goal is to create a dough that looks like this:

fig fudge

Next, shape the balls with your hands and sprinkle them with sea salt!

fig fudge

If you somehow manage to not eat every single fudge piece in one sitting, you can store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

fig fudge

Enjoy!

fig fudge

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Cheddar Jalapeño Muffins

cheddar jalapeno

Happy Mardi Gras, everyone!! I hope that the past week has been full of revelry and sinfully delicious food!! Unfortunately, I have been battling pneumonia over here and haven’t enjoyed this week as much as I’d like! But, with Lent coming up, William and I will be trying out the Daniel Fast. It is a very restrictive diet, and we have been trying to ease ourselves into it slowly. Part of this adventure entails a focus on plant-based foods that are ALL natural. Exploring this ‘new’ world of foods has been an eye-opening journey to say the least.

The preservatives and chemicals we thoughtlessly consume on a daily basis are so omnipresent, sticking to the Daniel Fast feels like an impossibility at times (and we haven’t even started). However, the main goal is to eat healthier and eat things that were meant to be food- REAL food. So… going through the ingredients in my fridge right now this means no high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, thiamin mononitrate, methylcellulose, or disodium guanylate. What? I have been consuming all of those things- and if you asked me something as simple as what color they are- I couldn’t tell you. I don’t even know what some of those words actually mean!

This post is not a leap- it’s a stepping stone. It serves as an example of the incredible things you can do with all natural ingredients. My new absolute favorite miracle veggie is cauliflower! See- these are not ordinary muffins. They are actually gluten and wheat free, low in carbs, and high in protein! They are made of cauliflower. It is one of the coolest things I have ever made, I know I’m going to be using cauliflower a TON on the Daniel Fast. It can replace breads either in muffin form, or as a pizza crust. I am currently working on adapting this for vegan use, but for now it does contain egg and cheese.

cheddar jalapeno

Cheddar-Jalapeño Cauliflower Muffins

makes about 12 muffins

recipe largely inspired by IBreatheImHungry

1 small head of cauliflower (you will only be using 2 cups of it)
1 large jalapeño pepper
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 large eggs
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 small clove garlic
1 heaping tablespoon onion flakes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

cheddar jalapeno

First, prep the cauliflower. This is the magical part where cauliflower becomes a versatile ingredient. Rinse it carefully, and cut out the stem and core.

cheddar jalapenoCut it into chunks and place it in a blender with some water.

cheddar jalapenoThis is my cheat to “ricing” cauliflower. Get that blender going and let it work its magic.

cheddar jalapenoI know this looks really strange right now. But once it gets smooth (almost like cottage cheese), you can stop the blending and drain out all the water in a strainer.

cheddar jalapenoWhile you are letting the cauliflower drain, clean and mince the jalapeño. I actually keep a small bowl of olive oil on hand when I mince hot peppers so that the capsaicin does not seep into my skin and cause that burning sensation. Be very careful during this process though, and be sure to keep your hands away from your eyes and face!

In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Set it aside to cool, so that it does not cook the eggs.

Whisk the eggs in a medium-sized bowl and add in the jalapeño.

Now, move back to your cauliflower. You can check to see if it has drained by gently pressing it down with a spoon. Try to get out any left over water. Add two cups of the cauliflower to the egg mixture with the jalapeño. Mix all of this together, and slowly add in the butter. You can save the rest of the cauliflower in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. There will be a ton left, but there are so many things you can use this for (including a delicious, gluten-free pizza dough).

Next, add in all three cheeses!

cheddar jalapenoMince the garlic, and add that into the bowl along with the onion flakes, salt, and pepper.

cheddar jalapenoFinally, mix in the coconut flour and baking powder.

cheddar jalapeno

Butter a regular muffin pan generously- these muffins will stick, so you want to make sure you grease the pan very well. Fill the pan with batter. They will not rise too much, so you can fill them up to 3/4 full!

cheddar jalapeno

cheddar jalapeno

Preheat the oven to 375° F and bake for 30-35 minutes. You want them to be a dark, golden brown.

cheddar jalapeno

When I took these out of the oven, I was overeager. I immediately wanted to dig in (they’ll make your kitchen smell amazing). BUT, it is best to wait! The original recipe states that you should wait at least a half hour before trying to take them out of the pan. I think you can get at them a little sooner than that. Use a butter knife to gently separate the muffin from the sides of the pan, and slowly work the muffin out.

cheddar jalapenoEnjoy!

Vegan Pesto

 

pesto

Pesto is an incredibly delicious, versatile, and easy thing to make! It’s based off of four, wonderful ingredients- basil, garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil.  You can use pesto in a variety of dishes such as: pizza, sandwiches, pasta, flatbread, and more!

One thing to note: pesto typically calls for parmesan cheese, but we decided to make a vegan pesto, so we took it out. However, if you want to add the cheese back in, you should consider reducing the amount of salt you use.

 

Vegan Pesto
makes 4-5 cups

Ingredients
3 cups compressed basil (about 4 bunches)
3/4 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup good olive oil
3 cloves garlic (sliced)
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt (flexible based on taste)

 

To start, wash all of your basil leaves and set them out to dry (usually for about 2-3 hours).

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While they’re drying you can take the time to assemble your other ingredients. Note: If you have a small food processor, as we do, I recommend dividing the ingredients by 3 (1 cup basil, 1/4 cup pine nuts, etc.). Processing the pesto in batches can help avoid overrunning the food processor.

Once your basil has dried, place the basil, garlic, and pine nuts into your food processor and pulse. In between pulses you will want to scrape the inside of the processor to make sure it gets minced evenly.

pesto

Then, add the olive oil, pepper, and salt.  Continue to pulse the food processor and scrape down the sides.  Once the mixture has reached the consistency of a puree, you’re done!

At this point, you’ll want to either add it to whatever you intend to use it on, or place it in a container.

pesto

If you plan on saving this for later, be sure to add a thin layer of olive oil to the top. This will keep it fresh tasting for longer.  Also, this can be frozen for around 3 months!

Pesto is great just spread over pasta as a sauce or over bread. It is nice to keep some in the freezer for a quick and healthy weekday meal!