Saturday, February 28, 2015

Simply Perfect Guacamole & Creamy Avocado Citrus Dressing - Two Recipes Out of One



I'm sure there are a million different guacamole recipes out there but, I generally always stick with my super easy and simple recipe because my entire family loves it... even the kiddos.  The guacamole is so quick and easy to make and one batch never seems to be enough for this family of 4.  It's simple, fresh and has a nice zip to it.  It's so simple in fact, that I never really thought it worth of sharing on the blog.  But then, my dressing was born...

I'm always trying to come up with super simple, tasty dressings out of what I have on hand since I stopped purchasing dressing off the shelves over 2 years ago.  It just seemed that, no matter how "healthy", "natural" or Organic a dressing was, it always had at least one (if not more) ingredient that I would rather do without. So one day, after whipping up some fresh guac and a salad I was racking my brain for what type of dressing I wanted, I opened to fridge to see a bottle of OJ staring at me.  And that's how the Creamy Citrus Avocado Dressing was born.  This dressing is one of my favorites!  It's quick, simple and it will keep well in the fridge for 5-7 days.  Just shake well before using.  It's fresh, slightly tangy and creamy.  And it's vegan & paleo friendly all at the same time.  (Carnivores and Herbivores unite!)  It will work wonderfully on a variety of salad and/or veggie combinations.  My toddler actually loves zucchini and yellow squash diced up and tossed with a bit of this dressing. (SCORE!)


 

Simply Perfect Guacamole

  • 2 large room temp Avocados (make sure they are soft and ripe)
  • Juice from 1 large lime (or 2 small)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed (3-4 if you want a little more heat)
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Mash everything together really well with a fork and enjoy!  
(See, told you it was super simple...but, sometimes simple is SO refreshing).  Reserve 1/2 C of this for the dressing recipe below.


Creamy Avocado Citrus Dressing

Ingredients:

  • Apx. 1/2 C Orange Juice (I like the medium or high pulp versions)
  • Apx. 1/2 C prepared Simply Perfect Guacamole (recipe above)
  • Generous sprinkle of salt
  • Apx. 1/2 tsp of Kirkland Signature Organic No-Salt Seasoning (optional, found at Costco but, if you can get it...I highly recommend it)
OR
  • Apx. 1/4 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper  (if you can't get the Organic No-Salt Seasoning)

Directions:

  1. Start with Apx. 1/4 C of Orange Juice into the blender and add apx. 1/2 C of the prepared guacamole.  
  2. Add the seasonings and blend on high to emulsify.  
  3. It will be very thick so drizzle in apx. 1/4 C more of OJ (you may need a bit more...you want it to be thick and creamy yet, easily pourable).
  4. Enjoy!!!

That's all there is to it!  I hope you enjoy the recipes.  Come back and let me know if you try it out.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Paleo Sweet Potato & Apricot Hummus - Bean, Dairy & Gluten Free


It started with my little nursling, my son, who has suffered tummy issues from day one.  I was craving hummus but, I knew that chickpeas and probably even lentils would not sit will with him so, I set out to make a bean free hummus that still included protein.  And this is what I came up with.  I have served this at many gatherings and everyone seems to love it. I have no idea why it has taken me SO insanely long to post this recipe when I created it about 2 years ago.  I'm such a lazy blogger.  Which is why I have no real followers.  Ha!  I'm okay with that.  Really though, most of the time I'm just super busy and it has nothing to do with laziness.  ;)  Roasting the peppers and soaking the apricots certainly takes time but, trust me on this one...you don't want to leave the topping off.  It really makes the hummus amazing.  This hummus is smooth, creamy and flavorful and rather than just using corn chips or crackers, it goes great with celery, carrot sticks and even apple slices.  And if your not a fan of curry, I urge you to give this a whirl anyways because it's very subtle and I had a friend who was not a fan of anything curry yet, they LOVED this hummus.  I hope you give this recipe a try and let me know what you think.

Sweet Potato Apricot Hummus w/ Roasted Red Pepper Topping

Ingredients for the Sweet Potato Apricot Hummus

  • 20 Dried Apricots (soaked) *see directions, 10 reserved for topping mixture*
  • 3 Large Sweet Potatoes (peeled, cubed and steamed)
  • 1/2 C Almond Butter (creamy)
  • 1/4 C Lemon Juice
  • 1 Large Clove of Garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Curry
  • 1/8 C Olive or Avocado Oil

Directions for Hummus

  1. Cover 20 dried apricots with very hot water (I use my Keurig) until water is just above apricots.  Let these soak at least 20 min, you can work on everything else including roasting your peppers in the meantime. *10 of these will be used in the topping mixture and some, possibly all of the liquid will be used in the hummus*
  2. Peel, chop and steam your sweet potatoes and add to your food processor.
  3. Add the almond butter, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, curry, oil and 10 soaked apricots (liquid reserved) to the food processor.
  4. Puree and slowly pour in the apricot liquid until mixture is thick and smooth.  (Sometimes I only use half but, if my potatoes are very large, I will generally use all of the liquid.)
  5. Place in a serving dish making a slight indent in the center for the topping.  (I like to separate this into 2 serving dishes for more even distribution of the topping.)
  6. If topping is not done yet, start chilling in the fridge.

Ingredients for Roasted Red Pepper Topping

  • 2 Sweet Red Bell Peppers, roasted, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 10 Soaked Apricots (see directions above), finely diced
  • 1/2 C Sunflower Seeds
  • 1/2 C Hemp Seeds or finely chopped pine nuts
  • Apx. 1/4-1/2 C Olive or Avocado Oil

Directions for Topping

  1. Roast, peel and finely dice your peppers.  I learned how to roast peppers here.  You may want to make extras while your at it because they are SO good!
  2. Add all ingredients, except oil to a bowl and mix well
  3. First add 1/4 of the oil and a little more if needed.  You want the topping moist but, not drowned in oil.
  4. Spoon into a nice looking circle in the center of the hummus.
  5. Chill completed hummus with topping in the fridge for at least 4 hours.  I like to make it the night before events.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Paleo Strawberry Burst Marshmallows - Red-Dye Free


I love making marshmallows!  There is something about watching that hot bubbling liquid transform to a thick white fluff right before my eyes.  (Or in the case of Paleo mallows, a thick off-white fluff).  They really are not that hard to make and they taste 1000x better than the store-bough variety.  Not to mention, you can rest easy knowing the ingredients you are using are also much healthier.  (But, not so healthy to count as a meal or eat ALL. DAY. LONG.).  ;)  This recipe is for Strawberry Burst (so named because they literally burst with strawberry flavor) however, you can omit the berries and just have plain mallows (though your peaks won't get quite as stiff, it will still set into mallows).  I want to try this out with other freeze dried fruit like blueberries, bananas etc.  If you try it before me, leave a note here and let me know.  Please forgive my photos.  I will update as soon as I'm able with better photos.  I was just excited about this recipe and wanted to post it sooner than later.  So, let's get on with the recipe shall we?

Paleo Strawberry Burst Marshmallows

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp (1/4 C) Gelatin (grass-fed is best for health reasons)
  • 1 C Honey (raw, unfiltered, local if possible)
  • 1 C Maple (pure, organic)
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla
  • 1 C cold water
  • 1/2 C water (room temp is fine)
  • 2 OZ. Freeze-dried strawberries (crushed in a food processor)
  • Soy-free, Organic Shortening for greasing pans
  • Apx. 6 Tb.Sp. arrowroot or tapioca flour for dusting

Directions

  1. First coat an 9 x 13 pan or 2 8x8 pans with shortening and coat with a light dusting of arrowroot or tapioca flour.  Set this aside.
  2. Bloom your gelatin & 1 C cold water in the mixing bowl on a stand mixer.  I like to give it a quick whisking to prevent any clumps from forming.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the 1/2 C of water, with the honey, maple, and vanilla in a pot and turn heat to med/high.
  4. Insert your candy thermometer (this is a MUST) and wait for the temperature to reach the softball stage (apx. 240 degrees).  I like to whisk the mixture as it gets close to 240 to ensure the temperature is even throughout the pot.
  5. Once it reaches 240, immediately remove from the heat, turn your mixer on low (allow the gelatin to break up a bit) and slowly pour the mixture into the mixing bowl with the bloomed gelatin.
  6. Next, turn the mixer all the way up.  "Aerating".   *If you don't have a splash-guard, hold a towel around the mixer to prevent it from splashing it all over the walls until the mixture thickens to the point of not splashing out.
  7. You will see a beautiful white fluff start to form w/in 5-7 min.
  8. It will be thick and fluffy anywhere from 10-15 min.  This is the time that you want to add the ground strawberry powder until it's mixed really well.  You should have a beautiful, pastel pink color.  Go ahead and take a taste...it's SO good and BURSTING with strawberry flavor.  :)  (unless your keeping them plain of course). 
  9. Once it forms stiff peaks, scoop your fluff into your prepared pan/container and smooth out corner to corner.   Cover and let cure for at least 6 hours.  If I'm making mallows for an occasion, I like to make it the night before and then they can sit all night.
  10. Lightly coat your knife with some shortening and cut your mallows into about 1 inch cubes
  11. Put cubes into a large ziplock (I do half at a time to make it easier) and toss with a small amount of arrowroot or tapioca flour.
  12. ENJOY!