Chocolate Covered Peanuts
Coconut oil works well with chocolate because it will prevent the candy from softening, as butter or oil would do.
Makes about 18 clusters
2 cups unsalted peanuts
1 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon coconut oil or shortening
3 tablespoons powdered sugar or powdered sugar-free sweetener
Combine the chocolate, coconut oil and sugar in a microwaveable glass bowl or in a double boiler.
Melt the chocolate mixture in a microwave at half power, for 1 minute, stir and then heat for another minute or until melted, stirring several times.
You can also melt the chocolate in a double boiler over hot water.
Stir in the peanuts, completely covering them in chocolate. Using a 1 inch scoop or tablespoon drop the mixture into wax paper. Cool completely before serving
One-Layer Heart-Shaped Carrot Cake
For the Cake:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large room-temperature eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts
For the Frosting:
4 ounces room-temperature cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup heavy cream
To Make the Cake
Heat oven to 325 F. Cut parchment to fit heart pan (or 8 inch round cake pan) and coat with cooking spray. Set aside.
Measure flour and add to an electric mixer bowl along with the sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, oil, eggs and vanilla.
Blend for 1 minute on low-speed.
Stir carrots and nuts into the batter. Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack. Remove from the pan to a serving plate.
For the frosting:
Place all the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. With a hand mixer beat the ingredients until the cream forms stiff peaks.
Frost the top of the cake and refrigerate the cake until serving time.
Easy Frozen Chocolate Mousse
1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream, well chilled
8 oz good quality chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate sprinkles, garnish
In a double boiler or in a bowl set over a saucepan, melt chocolate over simmering water. Remove from the heat to cool slightly.
Pour the cream and vanilla into a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream on medium speed until slightly thickened, about 30 seconds.
Add sweetener to taste if you want. I did not because I think the chocolate makes it sweet enough
Continue beating on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, until soft peaks form, about 1 minute.
To test, turn off the mixer and lift the beaters. If the cream makes soft little peaks that flop over slightly, it is ready.
Add the warm chocolate to the cream and mix in slowly until incorporated.
Spoon into 4 dessert dishes. Chill in the refrigerator to serve as mousse or place in the freezer overnight to serve as frozen mousse.
Garnish with chocolate sprinkles before serving.
8 large strawberries with tops
6 oz good quality chocolate, chopped
Gently rinse strawberries and dry on paper towels (berries must be completely dry). Line cookie sheet with waxed paper or set out muffin paper cups.
In 1-quart saucepan, melt chocolate chips and shortening over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. You may also microwave the mixture.
Dip the lower half of each strawberry into the chocolate mixture; allow excess to drip back into the saucepan.
Place on the prepared cookie sheet or muffin paper cups.
Refrigerate uncovered about 30 minutes or until the chocolate is firm, or until ready to serve.
Store covered in refrigerator.
A low-carb diet is a diet that restricts carbohydrates, such as those found in sugary foods, pasta and bread. It is high in protein, fat and healthy vegetables. A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes grains such as wheat, barley and rye. Some people who eliminate gluten from their diet end up following a low-carbohydrate diet, but not always. Many people who follow a low-carb lifestyle do eliminate gluten because they choose to keep their carbohydrates low. However, they are not the same. A gluten-free diet does not ensure one is on the right plan to lose body fat. A low-carb lifestyle does not ensure one is avoiding gluten. However, with a little label reading, the two can work well together in managing health and long-term weight management.
These recipes are made to fit a gluten-free/low carb diet. They are made with nut or gluten-free flours . In order to keep the recipes low carb you must eliminate regular sugar and use a sugar substitute. If you only want a gluten-free recipe, then you can use regular sugar. Either way, I can tell you that they all taste very good.
Lemon Ginger Scones
Makes 8 scones
2 ½ cups almond flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute or sugar substitute blend, divided
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Lemon zest from 2 lemons, divided
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream, divided
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with sides with parchment paper.
Mix the 2 tablespoons of sugar substitute with half of the lemon zest in a small bowl and set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together the almond flour, ¼ cup sugar substitute, the ginger, salt, baking soda and the remaining lemon zest.
In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, eggs, ¼ cup cream and vanilla.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Turn the mixture out onto a cutting board dusted with almond flour. Pat into a half-inch thick round.
Brush the top of the dough with the 1 tablespoon cream and sprinkle the dough evenly with the sugar/lemon zest mixture. Cut the dough into 8 equal triangles.
Carefully place them on the prepared pan. Bake in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. These scones freeze well.
Coffee Nut Muffins
1 cup pecan flour (meal), divided
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup soy flour
1/4 cup sugar or sugar substitute or sugar substitute blend
1/4 cup whey protein powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (4 oz) sour cream
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
2 tablespoons brown sugar or brown sugar substitute
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or coat with cooking spray.
Stir together the brown sugar substitute and chopped pecans. Set aside.
Dissolve the coffee granules in the brewed coffee and set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the pecan flour, almond flour, soy flour, sugar substitute, protein powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a medium bowl, beat with a hand mixer the sour cream with the butter until smooth. Beat in the eggs. Then beat in the coffee mixture.
With a wide spatula, fold the coffee mixture into the nut flour mixture. thoroughly combine.
Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups and sprinkle each with the topping.
Bake 25-30 minutes, or until set and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let the muffins cool in the pan for ten minutes and then remove them to a wire rack.
Low Carb Gluten Free Brownies
1/2 cup (3.5 oz) sugar-free milk chocolate squares (I use Lily brand)
1/2 cup (3.5 oz) sugar-free dark chocolate chips (I use Lily brand)
2/3 cup (5 ¼ oz) butter
1 1/2 cups sugar or sugar substitute or sugar substitute blend
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Line the bottom of an 8×8 or 7×11 baking dish with parchment paper and coat with cooking spray.
Put the chocolate and chocolate chips in a saucepan with the butter and melt them together. Add the vanilla. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool slightly.
With a hand mixer beat the sugar substitute and eggs (about 2-3 minutes until the mixture is creamy). Add the chocolate mixture and stir.
Gradually stir in the almond flour, salt and baking powder.
Fold the nuts into the mixture and pour into the prepared pan. Spread the mixture evenly in the pan.
Bake for about 45 minutes until the mixture is no longer wiggly and beginning to crack in the middle. Remove the pan from the oven to a wire rack to cool.
When cool, cut into small squares.
Who can resist BBQ chicken? Sweet, savory and smoky flavors are what summer grilling is all about and when barbecued chicken is done right, it is delicious. For many of my northern readers, summer grilling will be over in a few months, so don’t let the summer go by without making this dish. Using a rub gives the chicken flavor and cooking it over indirect heat is important so that the chicken does not dry out or become burned. Finishing the chicken with a tasty sauce just adds to the overall flavor. Make your favorite sides and you have dinner. Oh, and don’t forget an easy homemade dessert.
The rub and BBQ sauce can be made in advance, even several days ahead, to save time.
7 to 8 lbs bone-in chicken, cut into 6 or 8 parts
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
1 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon pepper
1 tablespoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Peach Barbecue Sauce
4 ripe peaches, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Half an onion finely chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/3 cup cider vinegar
One bottle tomato ketchup (about 31 oz.)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons butter, cubed and well chilled
To make the spice rub:
Combine all the ingredients for the spice rub in a jar or mixing bowl.and blend well.
To make the barbecue sauce:
In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients except the butter.
Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. (You may want to have a lid handy to protect yourself and your kitchen from any sputtering.)
Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
With a whisk, blend in the butter cubes, a couple at a time, until incorporated. Set aside
To prepare the chicken:
Rinse and pat dry the chicken pieces. Sprinkle on the rub generously and let rest while the grill heats.
I have a three burner gas grill. When a recipe calls for indirect grilling, I like to heat all the burners on the highest setting.
Then I turn off the middle burner. Brown the chicken pieces over the direct side of the grill and them move to the center, indirect area.
Cook the chicken pieces for 20 minutes and turn the chicken over.
Cook for 15 to 20 more minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 165°F in the meatier part of the thigh or breast.
When the chicken is cooked, pour some of the barbecue sauce into a separate container (to avoid contaminating the whole batch) and brush it onto the chicken.
Cook the chicken pieces an additional few minutes so that the sauce adheres to the chicken in a sticky glaze; watch the chicken carefully at this point and pull it off the grill if the sauce starts to burn.
Remove the chicken from the grill to a serving platter and serve with some of the barbecue sauce on the side.
1 ½ lbs whole medium-large red skinned potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pickle juice
¼ cup minced bread and butter pickles.
½ cup finely chopped sweet onion
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
½ cup olive oil mayonnaise
Salt and black pepper to taste
Place the potatoes in a large pot with a lid. Cover the potatoes with cold water and add 1 teaspoon salt.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook the potatoes with the lid ajar until tender, about 15 minute.
Drain the potatoes and cool. When cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes. Slice the potatoes into a storage bowl.
Add the pickle juice and let sit at room temperature for an hour or so.
Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and taste to see if the salad needs salt. Add black pepper to taste.
Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator.
Italian Fried Peppers
These peppers are in season and we never get tired of them.
12 Italian frying peppers, washed and dried
¼ cup olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
½ teaspoon crushed fennel seed
½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat a large saute pan over medium to high heat and add the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 30 seconds.
Add the peppers and season with salt and pepper. Turn the peppers over a few times to coat in oil.
Add the fennel and Italian seasoning and cook for about 10 minutes until soft and beginning to brown. Serve at room temperature.
Almond Chocolate Pudding Dessert
Two 3.4 oz packages of Cook & Serve chocolate pudding
4 cups almond milk (or milk of your choice)
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 cup heavy(whipping) cream
½ cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon almond extract
Put all the ingredients for the pudding in a large saucepan.
Bring to a boil over medium high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles a little and thickens.
Immediately pour the pudding into an 8 inch glass pan (or a similar size dish) and let cool on the counter for about 20 minutes.
Refrigerate the pudding until cold and set.
For the topping
Combine all the ingredients except the chocolate shavings in a medium bowl and beat the mixture until whipped and soft peaks form.
Spread the whipped cream over the chocolate pudding. Grate chocolate shavings over the cream and chill until serving time.
When the weather heats up, take advantage of the all the fresh produce that is available during the summer months. Many recipes for creating salads or cold soups do not require any cooking. If an ingredient needs to be cooked, do it early in the day and serve it chilled. Below are a few ideas to keep you cool, including a delicious dessert.
Cold Appetizer Plate
Burrata Cheese drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Olives, Roasted Peppers, Fresh Melon
The breasts can be cooked early in the day and the rest of the recipe can be prepared later. This makes enough so that there will be plenty for several meals. Serve over lettuce with sliced tomatoes and cut up veggies.
Cooking the chicken breasts
1 1/2 pounds of bone-in, skin on chicken breasts
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Roast for 40-45 minutes, until the chicken registers 165 degrees F on an instant read thermometer .
Set aside until cool enough to handle.
Remove the meat from the bones and save the skin and bones to make chicken broth.
Dice the chicken into bite-size pieces and place in a bowl.
For the salad
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped sweet (Vidalia, Walla Walla) onion
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup red grapes, cut in half
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix the mayonnaise and Dijon mustard together in a mixing bowl with a cover.
Add the celery and onion; stir, Add the chicken and mix carefully to keep the chicken from breaking up.
Fold in the pecans and grapes. Adjust salt and pepper, if needed. Cover and chill.
Triggerfish with Caper Sauce
Triggerfish were once ignored by commercial fishermen, however, they are now considered among the finest fish on the Gulf seafood menu. Their clean white meat carries a uniquely sweet flavor when cooked. Since this fish lives in warm waters, you might not find it in your area. Use any thin mild white fish fillets in the recipe below, if you cannot find triggerfish. If you do see it in your fish market, be sure to give it a try. I like to serve this dish with the tomato salad shown below.
2 ounces butter, room temperature
1 lb triggerfish fillets
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 ounces white wine
Hot sauce, to taste
Half a small onion, chopped fine or one shallot
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon capers, rinsed
Add the butter to a saute pan or skillet and place over medium heat.
Season the fish with the salt and pepper and dredge the fillets in all-purpose flour.
Place each fillet in the skillet and saute until light golden brown.
Add a few drops of hot sauce to the pan as the fish browns.
After the first side is golden brown, turn the fish over and cook until the second side is golden brown.
Remove the fish from the pan to a plate. Reduce the heat to low and add the wine to the skillet.
Add the onion or shallot and stir slowly but continuously for about 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and capers.
Continue to stir until a thin sauce forms. Return the fish to the skillet and spoon the sauce over the fillets.
Place the fish on serving plates and spoon any sauce in the skillet onto the fish.
Tomato Feta Salad
4-5 medium plum tomatoes, sliced thin
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
2 tablespoons good quality white wine vinegar or Champagne vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Place the sliced tomatoes on a serving plate.
In a mixing bowl combine the onion, vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, basil and parsley and toss well.
Pour the dressing over the sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with the feta cheese. Serve at room temperature.
Makes 12 squares
1 (3-4 ounce) package chocolate pudding mix
Two 3-ounce packages ladyfingers, split
1/3 cup chocolate liqueur (Kahlua)
1/3 cup brewed espresso or strong coffee
One 8-ounce carton mascarpone cheese
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, grated
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Do ahead: Prepare the chocolate pudding mix according to the directions on the package. Chill in the refrigerator.
Mix the coffee and Kahlua together in a shallow dish.
In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer just until stiff peaks form.
Add the chocolate syrup and mix until just combined.
To assemble the tiramisu:
Line the bottom of an 8 x 8 x 2-inch or 11 x 7 x 2 inch baking dish with some of the ladyfingers dipped in the espresso/Kahlua mixture.
Spoon a thin layer of chocolate pudding over the ladyfingers in the baking dish.
Spoon half of the mascarpone mixture over the chocolate pudding layer, spreading it evenly.
Sprinkle with grated bittersweet chocolate.
Top with another layer of ladyfingers dipped in espresso, followed by chocolate pudding and the mascarpone cheese mixture.
Cover and chill for 6 to 24 hours. Sift cocoa powder over the top before serving.
Sicilian Ricotta Birthday Cake
We recently celebrated a dear friend’s birthday with a special dinner to honor him. I offered to make his birthday cake, as I know, he is found of Italian cakes, especially if they are made with ricotta cheese. There are numerous versions of the Sicilian Cassata Cake, but this is my version. One, where, I have worked out the flavors that we like in a cake of this type. If you want to make a special occasion cake, this is a great cake to make.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pans
2½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for the pans
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk
2 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
2 oz finely chopped good quality chocolate
Zest from one orange
Juice of one orange
½ teaspoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon white rum
2 cups heavy cream whipped
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
½ teaspoon orange extract
Candied orange peel
Cake writing decoration
To make the cake layers:
Heat the oven to 350°F.
Butter two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper cut into circles to fit, butter again and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
Beat in the vanilla, then the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix just until combined (do not over-mix).
Transfer the batter to the prepared pans. The best way to get an even amount of batter in each pan is to weigh the pans on a scale. This is a tip I learned from Alton Brown and it works perfectly.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes for 8-inch pans and 22 to 25 minutes for 9-inch pans. Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes, then turn out onto racks to cool completely.
To make the filling:
Combine the ricotta with the remaining filling ingredients in a storage bowl with a cover. Place in the refrigerator until ready to assemble the cake.
Once the layers are completely cool, cut each layer in half with a serrated knife to form four layers.
To make the syrup:
Combine the orange juice with the rum and agave in a small dish.Brush the syrup over the cut sides of the layers until it is all used. Let the layers rest for 30 minutes.
Place one layer, cut side up on a cake plate and spread some of the ricotta filling over the layer leaving a ¼ inch edge all around the cake without the filling. (This way the filling will not ooze out of the layer when you place another layer on top.)
Place the next layer, cut side up, on top of the filling and repeat with another layer of ricotta filling.
Repeat with the third layer, cut side up. Place the fourth layer, cut side down, on top of the ricotta filling.
Place the cake in the refrigerator while you make the whipped topping.
Make the Whipped Topping:
In a mixing bowl combine the heavy cream, orange extract and powdered sugar.
Beat the mixture until the cream forms soft peaks.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator and spread the whipped cream on the sides of the cake and then on the top.
Decorate the edge of the top of the cake with candied orange peel.
Write Happy Birthday in the center, if desired.