Chocolate Coconut Crunch

ALERT: Highly Addictive Recipe!!! Be forewarned, you may end up eating the whole batch at once! If you're looking for something new and delicious to snack on, this is the recipe for you. Puffed kamut or rice (or other puffed grains) combined with coconut, cocoa and chocolate along with a little butter (mmmm!!) and maple syrup for sweetness and then baked turn out this addictive and delicious snack that you may not be able to stop eating! Don't say I didn't warn you!

This recipe has just the right amount of coconut to add richness and a hint of coconut flavoring without overwhelming the whole batch. Next time I make this I plan sprinkle some flake salt over the whole thing right before it goes in the oven for that wonderful salty/sweet combo. I used butter instead of coconut oil which is what the original recipe called for, and cut back just a little on the amount. I also decreased the maple syrup from 1/2 to 1/3 cup maple syrup and thought it was still plenty sweet. With the chocolate in there too I don't feel the need for as much maple syrup, but to eat their own! 1/4 cup? 1/2 cup? It really doesn't matter. What matters is how do you like it? I guess you'll have to try it and find out!

 
 
 
 

Chocolate Coconut Crunch
Adapted from Alexandra Cooks
Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup (120 grams) oats
  • 2 cups (30 grams) puffed kamut, alternatively you can use brown rice cereal or Rice Krispies
  • 1/2 cup (35 grams) shredded coconut
  • 3 tablespoons (15 grams) cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons (42 grams) butter or coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 ounces chocolate
  • 1/3 cup (110 grams) maple syrup

Direction
Preheat oven to 275ºF. In a large bowl, combine oats, puffed kamut or rice cereal, coconut, cocoa powder, and salt. Toss to combine.

Place the butter or coconut oil and dark chocolate together in a small bowl and microwave until completely melted. Stir to blend; then add to dry ingredients along with the maple syrup. Stir until well combined.

Turn mixture out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread into an even layer. Cook 35-40 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. To maintain large chunks, do not stir the mixture. Remove from oven and let cool. Break into shards or into small pieces.

Strawberry Rhubarb Bran Muffins

For the last few weeks I've been resisting the rhubarb at the farmer's market for no particular reason. I didn't have anything specific in mind for what to do with it, so I kept walking right on by. However, this past week I realized that if I didn't pick some up it would soon be gone, and then I would be very sad that I didn't enjoy this lovely spring vegetable (?) when I had the chance. First thing up, some baking with the classic strawberry rhubarb combination. I couldn't resist. Why mess with success? 

I recently ran across this simple bran muffin recipe and thought it looked like a winner. Sweetened with molasses and a little honey as well as a some applesauce, it's definitely more on the healthier side of the muffin spectrum. Since I almost never have applesauce around, I replaced it with mashed banana making these strawberry rhubarb banana bran muffins. Yes, the banana adds some of it's characteristic flavor to the muffin, but with the deep flavor of molasses as well as the strawberry and rhubarb it's really not that noticeable. Plus, I love bananas so it didn't matter that much to me. If you prefer a more neutral flavor, stick with the original applesauce. 

I halved this recipe and ended up making 8 muffins. I was going to make 6 but there was too much batter for that! This may be due to the fact that I just threw in a banana that had been hanging out in my freezer for far too long without measuring it. The batter was likely a little wetter than it was supposed to be, but it all worked out deliciously in the end!

These muffins turned out moist and sticky, strongly flavored with molasses so if you're not such a huge molasses fan just be warned. I'm guessing you can replace some of the molasses with a little more honey, but I haven't tried that yet. However, these muffins were so easy and nutritions that I know I'll be experimenting with them more in the future. 

 
 

Strawberry Rhubarb Bran Muffins
Adapted from Food 52
Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (30 grams) wheat bran
  • 3/4 cup (90 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of a mix of chopped rhubarb and strawberries
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup (85 grams) molasses
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup mashed banana
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, whisk together the wheat bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the strawberries and rhubarb to the flour mixture.

In a medium bowl, mix together the milk, molasses, honey, egg, banana, and oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Place 12 paper cups in a muffin pan, or grease the cups. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 cups. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Butcher Dinner on the farm: A Southern Style Barbecue Picnic

Last weekend I was lucky enough to be part of an absolutely amazing dining experience. My favorite local butcher held a farm dinner on one of the farms that they source their meet from. Lara and I took a little drive out to Coopersville and arrived at Hehlden Farm last Sunday night, where we experienced real farm to table eating. The whole meal was styled after a southern BBQ picnic, and it all centered around an entire smoked pig that was raised right there on the farm. Words cannot describe how delicious this meal was. We ate right there in one of the barns, enjoyed appetizers on hay bales, and got to walk out into the fields and meet the chickens. The food was amazing, the atmosphere could not have been better, and the entire experience was one to remember. Anyone who lives in Grand Rapids, or is driving through, should check out Louise Earl Butcher on Wealthy St to get a little taste of the amazing work they do. Until you do that, enjoy some shots of the wonderful night!

IMG_0723.jpg

Apps! House made charcuterie, local bread, and a lovely selection of wine and beer. 



<-- Checking out the chicken coops


The Menu:

Pig Roast, mopped with a Carolina BBQ sauce, mac & cheese, collards with tasso ham, red beans & rice, fried gizzards, and cornbread with cultured butter and honey. 
 

 


So excited to eat!! Bring on the pig!!

A big thank you to Matt and Cindy and the rest of the gang from Louise Earl Butcher for putting on such a wonderful event, and Matt and Amy from Hehlden farms for hosting! It really was a special night!

Pistachio and Lavender Olive Oil Biscotti

Coffee time and biscotti is one of my favorite combinations. I'm a huge biscotti fan as you could maybe tell if you've looked around this blog at all. These crunchy little sweet treats are perfect for dipping into a hot cup of coffee. It had been a while since I'd made biscotti, so last week I decided it was past time. I have a favorite biscotti recipe that I've made several times in the past, but I decided to try something different. While most biscotti are made with butter, this time I wanted to experiment with an olive oil biscotti instead. I did a little Googling and found a recipe that looked promising and went for it. The verdict - delicious! This recipe delivered a tender and crisp cookie, light and airy , not hard and crunchy at all. They almost had the lightness that fried food often has, which makes sense as they are full of olive oil!

I always like to put some add-ins in my biscotti. Since I've been on a lavender kick lately I decided to throw in a little lavender, fitting for the spring season, and also some yummy pistachios. I would have like more pistachios, but had to work with what I had. It was a delicious combination and made a delicious cookie! The flavor of the olive oil definitely comes through which I really enjoyed. If you're not sure how you will like this I'd recommend starting with a lighter, fruitier olive oil.

I will definitely be making these again. I'm even interested in maybe trying this recipe out as a savory biscotti, something that might be good for a cheese board, or charcuterie board. A twist on the typical cracker/bread/crostini. Definitely a fun future project!

 
 

Pistachio and Lavender Olive Oil Biscotti
Adapted from Ciao Chow Linda
Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups (150 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pistachios
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried lavender

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking power and salt. Set aside. 

In another mixing bowl, place the egg, sugar, olive oil, and lavender, and mix for one minute until well blended. Add the flour mixture and pistachios and mix until all the ingredients are well blended.

Shape the dough into a long rectangle on a parchment-lined baking sheet. The dough may be a little wet but do your best shape it into a smooth log. Place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes, and slice into individual biscotti. Raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees and place the biscotti back on the parchment-lined baking sheet for another 15 minutes, until crisp and dry all the way through. Keep a close eye on them the last five minutes to make sure they don't burn. 
 

Creamy Parmesan Asparagus Soup with Caramelized Onions and Miso

A week and a half ago was what I consider the unofficial start to spring. It was the first week that asparagus showed up at the farmer's market! In my mind, asparagus heralds the return of the fresh produce of spring and a glimpse of what's to come. I eat asparagus continuously from when it first shows up in April or May until the season is over in June. I really never grow tired of it. And I refuse to buy it any other time of the year. What excitement this little vegetable brings. 

The day after I brought my first bunch of asparagus home was a cold and rainy day. I decided that this meant it was time for this absolutely delicious, creamy and filling soup. Asparagus cooked in a some chicken broth until tender, then pureed until smooth with a little miso, maple syrup and parmesan cheese. A simply perfect combination to really showcase this wonderful vegetable in a different way. 

I wanted to keep this soup fairly simple to allow the asparagus to really shine. I thought the miso would be a great way to add some depth and seasoning at the same time, the maple syrup and caramelized onions were important for that little bit of sweetness that most soups call for, and the parmesan cheese was the icing on the cake to really add some cheesy, creamy goodness. That's really about it. Blend it all together until smooth and dinner is served. With some nice crusty bread of course!

 
 

Creamy Parmesan Asparagus Soup with Caramelized Onions and Miso
From Delectably Mine
Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon white miso
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup, optional
  • 1 small garlic clove, lightly crushed
  • 1/4-1/3 pound asparagus
  • 2-3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Directions
Heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Let it heat for 30 seconds. Add the onions and a pinch or two of kosher salt. Stir to combine. Let Cook for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned and caramelize, adding a splash of water as needed to deglaze the bottom of the pan. 

Meanwhile, heat the stock and water over medium-high heat until simmering. Add the miso, maple syrup if using, and garlic. Cut the asparagus into roughly 1 inch pieces. Add the asparagus to the hot stock mixture and let cook until tender, 15-20 minutes. When the onions are fully caramelized, add them to the pot with the asparagus. 

Once the asparagus is tender, transfer the entire mixture to a blender. Add the parmesan cheese and blend on high speed until completely smooth and creamy. (I went for about 5 minutes with my Vitamix. You might need to go longer with a less powerful blender). During the last minute of blending, slowly pour in an additional 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil while the blender is still running to allow the oil to completely emulsify into the soup. 

Once completely smooth, transfer soup to soup bowls and garnish with additional parmesan cheese and a drizzle of good, fruity olive oil. 

Serves: 1-2

Lavender Orange Scones

This past week I was feeling the itch to bake something special, but wasn't sure what that should be. I took stock of what I had in the fridge and pantry and found a lonely little orange as well as some dried lavender from last spring. With a quick recipe search I found a recipe for chocolate orange scones. Perfect. At first I was going to go with the classic chocolate orange combination, but then decided that since it's spring and I have some beautiful dried lavender that I would try that combination instead. I figured that the sweet and tart orange would pair well with the floral lavender and I was right. These two flavors compliment each other perfectly and make for a light and fragrant scone, perfect for a leiesurely spring breakfast. 

I've used citrus zest and juice in baked goods plenty of times in the past, but I've never put the actual flesh into a muffin or scone or cake so I wasn't quite sure how it would turn out. I should not have worried, these scones baked up perfectly with little pockets of sweetness due to the orange segments mixed throughout. If you have it, I think some chopped white chocolate would also be a wonderful addition to these lovely spring scones. 

 
 

Lavender Orange Scones
Adapted from Vanilla and Bean
Ingredients

  • 1/2 stick (2 ounces) cold butter
  • 1 Orange
  • 2-3 tablespoons whole milk, half and half, or heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (70 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) oat flour
  • 1 tablespoon (8 grams) cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon dried lavender
  • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling, optional

Directions
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Cut the cold butter into 1/4 inch cubes and place in the refrigerator while prepping the other ingredients.

Zest the orange, peel and chop the flesh into small pieces, taking care to reserve the juices. Place the flesh into a small bowl and add about 1 Tbs of all purpose flour. Stir to coat. Set aside. In a measuring cup mix the orange juice and zest, milk, honey, and vanilla extract. Set aside. 

Add the flours, corn starch, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lavender into a large mixing bowl. Add the cold butter to the sifted ingredients and use a pastry cutter (or two forks) to cut in the butter into the pastry. The butter should be about pea size, evenly coated, and distributed in the flour.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Gently stir the mixture until the flour is just moistened. The dough will be shaggy and seem dry but avoid the temptation to add additional liquid. Add the chopped orange pieces. Fold in to incorporate, eventually using your hands to press and fold the dough together, just a few times. Squeeze a portion of the dough in your fist. It should loosely hold together. 

Dump the contents out of the bowl onto a flour dusted work surface and press the dough together forming a circle. You may need to work it a little bit with your hands to bring it all together. Work gently, but quickly to keep the dough as cold as possible. Use a bench scraper, or a knife, to cut the circle into 4 to 6 triangles. Transfer the cut scone to the prepared baking sheet. 

Place scones on the parchment lined sheet pan and rest in the fridge or freezer for 20 minutes, while the oven is preheating to 425F. 

Before baking, moisten the top of the scones with a little milk and sprinkle the raw sugar evenly over the top of each scone. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees, then turn the oven down to 375 degrees, rotate the baking sheet, and bake for an additional 15 minutes until the scones are golden brown and cooked through. Remove from oven and carefully transfer scones to a cooling rack. 

Yields: 4-6 scones

Mocha Zucchini Muffins

First things first, Happy Easter!

Christ the Lord is risen today.
All creation join to say. 
Raise you joys and triumphs high.
Sing ye heaven and earth reply. 

Love's redeeming work is done.
Fought the fight, the battle won.
Death in vain forbids him rise.
Christ has opened paradise.

What a glorious day! When I think about all I have in Christ I am continually blown away by what I have been given, not because of anything I have done, I can take credit in no way for my salvation, I believe because God first chose me. How humbling is this truth. 

I this beautiful day, full of celebration and new birth I was inspired to create something new and delicious out of something old. I've had a bag of shredded zucchini floating around in my freezer since last summer. I keep meaning to do something with it, but I always say "next time". Well, not this time! I found a new zucchini muffin recipe, adjusted it for what I wanted, and finished off last years produce, finally! This was the perfect way to do it too. A light and healthy whole grain muffin, lightly sweetened and filled with one of my favorite treats; chocolate covered espresso beans!!

When I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it. I didn't have a go-to zucchini muffin but this one looked promising, and I was right. It's just rich enough to make it special, but not too rich to make it feel overly indulgent. The original recipe calls for a streusel on top which would be marvelous, but I skipped it this time out of laziness, but did chop up a handful of dark chocolate espresso beans for pizzaz. And chocolate. Come on. 

The final product came out as beautiful as I had hoped. Flecked with green from the zucchini, and chocolate from the espresso beans. I added some espresso powder for a little extra mocha flavor, and probably could have added more (I think I'll try 1/2 teaspoon next time!). They turned out light and satisfying. A perfect zucchini muffin. 

 
 


Mocha Zucchini Muffins
Adapted from The Almond Eater
Ingredients

  • 1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1-2 tablespoons (12-25 grams) brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) milk
  • 2 tablespoons (37 grams) maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/4 cup chocolate covered espresso beans, roughly chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a muffin tin with muffin liners, set aside

Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and espresso powder in a bowl and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and then add olive oil, milk, syrup and vanilla. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients. Add the zucchini, and stir until combined. 

Transfer the batter to the prepared muffin tin. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven, wait a few minutes for the muffins to cool before removing them from the tin.

Yields: 6 muffins

Buckwheat Oat Breakfast Bites

Breakfast bites; little mounds of oat-y goodness, something fun and different to dig into for breakfast, or snack in the afternoon. Full of whole grains, healthy fats, and unrefined sugar. Win - win - win! And chocolate, don't forget the chocolate on top. You can put the chocolate inside them if that's more your style, I just love how a little drizzle on top finishes them off. 

These are a wiz to throw together, everything into the food processor and you're set, in just a minute or two you have your cookie dough, ready for the cookie scoop and into the oven. I've made other variations on these cookies before, but for this version I went with one of my favorite combinations, tahini and honey. I added a little buckwheat flour for it's lovely hint of bitterness, and a little cinnamon to round it all out. Drizzle with chocolate once cool and breakfast is served!

 
 

Buckwheat Oat Breakfast Bites
Adapted from The Clever Carrot
Ingredients

  • 2 cups (160 grams) old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) whole wheat flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup (64 grams) tahini, or your favorite nut butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 6 tbs honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Chocolate, for drizzling (optional)

Directions
Preheat your oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. 

Add the oats, white whole wheat flour, and baking soda to a food processor. Run the machine until the oats look like 'flour.' It's okay to have a few big pieces in the mix.

Add the egg, tahini, coconut oil, honey and vanilla extract. Pulse until the mixture until it looks like cookie dough and holds together when pinched between 2 fingers.

Using a cookie scoop to portion the cookies onto your lined baking sheets. Bake for about 12-13 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool on the tray for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.