Apricot Pistachio Caramel Ice Cream

Apricto Pistachio Caramel Ice Cream

Of all the ice creams I’ve made, this one has the best texture!  Often my ice creams end up a bit too icy or hard. But this one was different. It was soft, creamy and deliciously smooth.  The combination of the sweet buttery California apricots with the crunch of the salty pistachios and rich caramel swirl makes it a little bit of rich goodness in your mouth.

I recommend you go try this recipe before the summer is over and the hot days are behind us.  Enjoy!

Dried Apricot & Pistachio Ice Cream with Caramel Swirl

Adapted from a recipe by the ice cream guru David Lebovitz.

Caramel

  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt, kosher or sea
  1. Combine the water, sugar, and the corn syrup in a deep saucepan and cook over medium heat—stir with a wooden spoon to combine
  2. Cover the saucepan and let it cook over medium/medium-low heat for 3 minutes.
  3. After 3 minutes, remove the lid, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. (Do not stir from this point on, but once it starts to turn brown at the edge you should carefully shake/swirl the pan so that one area of the caramel doesn’t burn.)
  4. Continue to cook until the caramel turns an even amber color then remove from the heat and let stand for about 30 seconds.
  5. Pour the heavy cream into the mixture. Be careful. The mixture will bubble up!
  6. Stir the mixture. Add the butter, lemon juice, and salt. Stir until combined.
  7. Pour into a Pyrex measuring cup or other heat resistant glass container.
  8. Stirring occasionally, allow to cool in the refrigerator until thick and warm, about 20-30 minutes.
  9. The caramel should be very cold before adding to the ice cream. (I recommend putting it in the freezer. Don’t worry, it won’t actually freeze.)

Ice Cream

  • 5 ounces dried apricots (I used the unsweetened, unsulfered apricots from Trader Joes. They have an incredibly buttery and rich flavor)
  • 3/4 cup white wine (I used Riesling)
  • 1/2 cup pistachio nut, shelled (They were supposed to be unsalted, but I was lazy so I used already shelled salted roasted. It worked just fine for my taste. And I actually liked the added salt to contrast the sweetness of the caramel)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  1. Warm the apricots with the wine in a small saucepan.
  2. Simmer five minutes, then cover, remove from the heat and let stand for one hour.
  3. Coarsely chop the pistachios and place them in the freezer.
  4. Puree the apricots, wine, sugar, half and half, and lemon juice in a blender.
  5. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator (This will take at least 4-5 hours, the longer the better – I like to leave it overnight)
  6. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  7. Add the pistachio nuts in the last five minutes of churning.
  8. Hand swirl spoonfuls of the very cold caramel into the ice cream. Add as much or as little as you like to your preference.
  9. Serve immediately for soft serve or freeze for a few hours before serving.

Plum Nectarine Yogurt Cake with Coconut Oil & Vanilla Bean

Plum Nectarine Yogurt Cake

My sister’s two plum trees are overly abundant every year. Even after making a bunch of jars of jam, she still has too much and offloads plums on everyone around her. This means I’m always looking for new recipes to use up all the plums coming out of my ears.  I had company coming over last-minute and went looking for ingredients in my cupboards and fridge to whip up a dessert. I found this recipe online to use as a base and made a few of my own modifications such as switching out the oil for coconut oil and adding a bucket (so to speak) of vanilla bean paste.

The cake is slightly rustic with a pound cake texture, dense and sweet with crunchy edges and super-moist on the inside. The sweetness and warmth of the vanilla bean compliments the tartness of the plums on top. The coconut oil gives the entire cake an undertone of a creamy coconut flavor but is not overwhelming.

Depending on the size of your plums and nectarines, you may need a few more or less than what I used. The plums I was using are on the smaller side. Also, I like to slice the fruit fairly thickly – approx 1/2″ – so they really sink into the cake and give it a strong flavor. If you only have one or the other, you could make the cake with just plums or just nectarines.

Oh! And it tastes really great with coffee for breakfast the next morning.

 

Plum Nectarine Yogurt Cake with Coconut Oil & Vanilla Bean

Serves 6-8. Inspired by Family Spice’s Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup organic or granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt, plain
  • 3 eggs, large
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste (Alternate option: scrapings from 1 vanilla bean or 1 Tbsp vanilla extract)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, room temperature
  • 4 plums, sliced 1/2″ thick, skin on
  • 2 nectarines, sliced 1/2″ thick, skin on

Instructions:

  1. Grease or apply non-stick spray to a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt,
  3. In a large bowl, mix together coconut oil and sugar until completely combined.
  4. Add yogurt, eggs, and vanilla bean paste and mix until smooth.
  5. In batches, mix flour mixture into yogurt mixture and stir until combined. Pour mixture into prepared cake pan.
  6. Arrange plums and nectarines over the top of the cake.
  7. Place the cake in the oven and cook for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let it cool for 20 minutes prior to serving.
  8. Optional: Serve with homemade vanilla bean whipped cream.

Lazy Girl’s Slow Cooker Berry Banana Oatmeal

I wouldn’t really call myself “lazy” as a general rule of thumb. But you better believe, if I can find a shortcut way to do something and still have it come out halfway decent, then I’m definitely “lazy”!

I usually make a big pot of slow cooker oatmeal ever week and my husband and I eat off of it for our breakfasts. I usually have to add all the “fixin’s” to it in the morning. So, why not make it one time with the fixin’s already added? Ah hah! I spy “lazy girl”!  Here’s my solution – a all natural, no sugar, vegan breakfast that is filling and a healthy way to start your day!

Berry Banana Slow Cooker Oats

Slow Cooker Berry Banana Oatmeal

Serves 4.

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 3 cups water
  • 3-5 dates (depending on how sweet you prefer your oatmeal. I used 3, but I don’t like my oats overly sweet)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen berries
  • 1 ripe banana, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp flaxseed meal (optional)
  • 1 tea cinnamon
  • Dash of salt
  1. Put half the water and all the dates in a blender or food processor. Puree the dates until they are fully integrated into the water.
  2. Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker and cook 3-5 hours until the oats are completely done and it’s all warm and bubbly.
  3. Serve immediately or put it in the fridge and scoop a bit out every day to reheat for breakfast.
  4. If you’d like, top with additional fresh berries and slivered almonds.

Slow Cooker Thai Tofu & Lettuce Wraps from the Leftovers

I saw a recipe pop up for slow cooker Thai chicken the other day and I realized that I had all the ingredients on hand to make a vegetarian (actually vegan!) version. YAY!  It looked easy, tasty and I thought I’d give it a go. The results did not disappoint. It truly was easy and it tasted amazing. Final icing on the cake? I was able to put my leftovers to good use by making them into lettuce wraps the next night at dinner!

A couple of things of note…  I ate it before I took a picture of it. So, just take my word for it that it looks good too. Also, the 1 Tbsp of saracha in the recipe makes it pretty hot. If you don’t like spicy foods, I’d drop it down to just 1/2 Tbsp.  If you’re not a tofu fan, you can also adapt this same recipe to use a Faux Chicken product such as Quorn Chik’n Cutlets or Gardein Chick’n Scallopini.

Slow Cooker Thai Tofu

Serves 4. Recipe based off of Shrinking Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp PB2 (or 1/4 cup of peanut butter)
  • 3/4 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (use 1/2 Tbsp if you like less heat)
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 package extra firm Tofu, sliced in 1/2 inch slabs
  • 1/3 cup chopped peanuts, for topping
  • 4 Tbsp chopped cilantro, for topping
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts, for topping
  • 8oz Whole wheat pasta
  • 1 cup shredded carrots

Directions:

  1. Combine PB2 or peanut butter with coconut milk in a medium bowl.
  2. Add in Sriracha (or less), lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, and ginger. Stir well to combine.
  3. Coat the tofu with the mixture and place in a slow cooker. Pour half of the remaining mixture into the slow cooker. Retain the other half in the refrigerator for use later.
  4. Cook on high for 2 1/2 – 3 hours or low for 4 – 5ish hours.
  5. Cook and drain the pasta. Heat remaining peanut sauce and carrots in the pasta pot, cooking over medium heat until well combined and carrots are slightly limp. Add the pasta back to the pot and stir well to combine.
  6. Serve tofu over the top of the pasta. Top with chopped peanuts and cilantro.

 

Thai Tofu Lettuce Wraps from the leftovers

Ingredients:

  • Leftover Thai Tofu (recipe above)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 can water chestnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions, for topping
  • Leftover bean sprouts, for topping
  • Leftover cilantro, for topping
  • Lettuce leaves (iceburg, romaine or green leaf), washed and dried

Directions:

  1. Cut the leftover tofu into cubes. Heat over medium heat along with carrots and water chestnuts.
  2. When it’s heated through, add green onions and serve with lettuce leaves, bean sprouts and cilantro.
  3. Eat by placing a bit of the tofu mixture into the lettuce leaf, roll it into a wrap and devour!

Kale Lemon Pasta with Vegetarian (Faux) Chicken

Lemon Kale Pasta with Faux Chicken

I visited my dear friend A in New York a couple of months ago and she served up almost exactly this dish (without the faux chicken). I loved it so much that I knew I needed to try it again … Continue reading

Mixed Berry Granola. Low Fat. Low Sugar.

I love sprinkling granola over the top of my yogurt in the morning or as an afternoon snack. I usually eat plain yogurt with fruit, so the added sweetness of the granola helps take the ‘bite’ out of my unsweetened yogurt. The problem I was having is this… Most granolas purchased in the store are filled with more oil and sugars that I prefer, not to mention they are usually fairly pricy! So, I tackled it myself.

I gravitate to granola on the fruitier side and one of my favorites is Trader Joe’s Lowfat Mixed Berry Granola, which I still buy it in a pinch. Here is my rendition of Mixed Berry Granola.

Mixed Berry Granola. Low Fat. Low Sugar.

Mixed Berry Granola. (low fat, low sugar)

Approx 20 servings. (2Tbsp per serving)

  • 3 cups Oats
  • 1/4 cup Slivered Almonds
  • 1/4 c Applesauce, unsweetened
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil, warmed til it’s a liquid
  • 2 Tbsp Honey (Vegans can use agave syrup or brown rice syrup)
  • 2 Tbsp Strawberry Jam (no sugar added, preferred)
  • 1 tea flaxseed meal (optional)
  • 1 tea Vanilla
  • Dash of Salt
  • 1 cup Freeze Dried Mixed Berries or Strawberries, lightly crumbled

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F
  2. Mix all ingredients together except Freeze Dried Fruit until well combined and oats are moist.
  3. Spread the mixture in a 9×13 pan or on a cookie sheet.
  4. Bake 30-45 mins, until browned and crunchy. If it’s still not brown and crisp at the end of 45 mins, mix and continue baking, checking every 5 mins.
  5. Cool completely. Add Freeze Dried Fruit, mix well.

Nutrition (Approx 2 Tbsp) (approx): 80 cal, 2.5g fat, 13g carb, 2g fiber, 2g protein

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

After seeing seemingly-endless posts about this dip on Pinterest, I finally decided that the Super Bowl party my husband and I are attending was ‘the’ event to finally try it. After browsing a number of the recipes out there, I took the best ideas and made my own version. I did tweaking because most of them were lacking the element that makes dough “dough” – something raw! No, not the eggs. But I did add raw flour to my dip. “Dough” is part of the name, after all!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter, softened
  • 8oz (1 block) Cream Cheese, soft
  • 2/3 cup Dark Brown Sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/3 cup Flour
  • 1 tea Kosher or Sea Salt
  • 1 tea Vanilla
  • 1 cup Mini Chocolate Chips

Directions:

  1. Combine the butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add the sugar, flour, salt, and vanilla, mixing until just smooth (there may still be graininess from the sugar, but that adds to the doughy texture).
  3. Mix in about 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips, reserving 1/4 cup to use at the end to sprinkle over the top. Place mixture in a dipping bowl and sprinkle remaining chips over the top.
  4. Serve with items such as: Pretzels, Nilla Wafers, Apples, Strawberries, A SPOON!

Vegan Blueberry Quinoa Bowl – Using Leftover Quinoa for Breakfast

Vegan Blueberry Quinoa Bowl

I almost always have quinoa leftovers sitting in my fridge from using it for dinner. My primary use is to throw a pile of it on my salads for an extra protein boost to my leafy greens. But the past … Continue reading

Citrus Beet Salad with Arugula and Avocado

2013_01_21_beet_salad

I am always challenging myself to make salads that have enough flavor in and of themselves that they don’t even need dressing. When you have a sad looking iceberg lettuce salad, the only thing that makes it actually taste good … Continue reading