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Desserts, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Special Diets

Flourless Chocolate Bacon Grease Cake

The boyfriend and I took a little day trip to Dayton, Ohio, and stopped in at Lucky’s Taproom & Eatery. I ordered a piece of their bacon chocolate cake. I wasn’t crazy about the pieces of bacon on top of the cake, but I loved the way that the bacon grease melted into the chocolate frosting for a decadent marriage of savory and sweet. So I came home and whipped up this flourless chocolate bacon grease cake with that taste still lingering in my memory.

 It’s a simple flourless chocolate cake, but instead of using butter alone, I used half butter and half bacon grease. I had recently unlocked the homesteader’s achievement of collecting a full Ball jar of bacon grease, so I was excited to whip up some new recipes. If you’re wondering what you should do with all that leftover bacon grease…do this! 

Flourless Chocolate Bacon Grease Cake
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  2. 4 tablespoons salted butter
  3. 4 tablespoons bacon grease
  4. 3/4 cup raw granulated sugar
  5. 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 3 large eggs
  7. 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Instructions
  1. 1.) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8" round cake pan; cut a piece of parchment or waxed paper to fit and lay it in the bottom of the pan.
  2. 2.) Put the chocolate chips, butter, and bacon grease in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until melted, about 1 minute and 30 seconds. You can also melt them on the stovetop on low.
  3. 3.) Pour the melted ingredients into a mixing bowl with the sugar and vanilla and mix together. Add the eggs, and beat the mixture until combined. Sift the cocoa powder into the bowl while mixing and mix until smooth.
  4. 4.) Pour the mix into your cake pan.
  5. 5.) Bake the cake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and cool it in the pan for 5 minutes.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour Flourless Chocolate Cake
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Allergy-Friendly, Desserts, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Special Diets, Vegetarian

Brown Sugar Hominy Ice Cream with Cajeta Swirls

I’m recovering from oral surgery, which is one of the least fun things I’ve done in a while, but it does give me an excuse to snooze and eat lots of ice cream! 

Notes of delicate, sweet hominy swirled with heavenly, complex cajeta (a Mexican confection similar to dulce de leche but made from goat’s milk) make this recipe especially comforting for this convalescent. The boyfriend thought it equally magical. 

If you’re not familiar with hominy, it’s corn that has been steeped in an alkaline solution in an ancient process called nixtamalization, which loosens the hulls from the kernels makes them puffy and chewy. It also makes the nutrient niacin in corn more available to our digestive tracts.

Hominy is a staple of Mexican cuisine and can be found in cans in most U.S. grocery stores. It’s also used in sweet drinks like champurrado, which is basically the delicious lovechild of hot chocolate and cornmeal porridge. So it only made sense to put hominy in ice cream. 

If you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, you can even make the cajeta from scratch

Brown Sugar Hominy Ice Cream with Cajeta Swirls
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Ingredients
  1. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  2. 2/3 cup hominy
  3. 1/2 cup water
  4. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  5. cajeta for swirling
Ice cream base
  1. 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  2. 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  3. 1/2 cup white cane sugar
  4. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  5. 1/4 cup corn syrup or tapioca syrup
  6. 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  7. 1/2 tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Soak hominy in brown sugar, vanilla, salt, and water for at least 2 hours, strain with cheesecloth, and blend until it becomes a fine paste.
  2. Mix 1/4 cup brown sugar, sugar, salt, and xanthan gum together in a bowl. Pour cold milk into a pot, and whisk sugar, brown sugar, xanthan gum, and salt into milk. Add corn syrup. Heat the milk on low until warm, stirring until all ingredients are completely dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in cream. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
  3. Add hominy paste to ice cream base, churn according to your ice cream maker’s directions.
  4. Pour one layer of ice cream into pan, cover with swirls of cajeta. Add another layer, cover with swirls of cajeta. Add last layer, and top with swirls of cajeta. Freeze in freezer overnight.
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Drinks, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Non-Alcoholic Drinks, Paleo, Special Diets, Vegan, Vegetarian

Natural Pedialyte/Gatorade Electrolyte Drink Alternative

The other night I woke up in a haze, tongue shriveled up, stumbling in the dark with only one thought: I’m thirsty! You know the feeling: when you’re parched from the effects of a stomach flu, a high-intensity workout, or too much alcohol (hello New Year’s Eve!) wishing you had an electrolyte-replenishing drink like Pedialyte or Gatorade without all the artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, and preservatives.

I created this comforting refreshment for those days when I’m needing extra hydration to bring me back to life; it’s also kid-friendly with its low sugar content and tropical tastiness. 

The base is coconut water (make sure that you grab a variety with no added sugar), which contains over twice as much potassium as the average energy drink, and is packed with antioxidants, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals like calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese. 

The second ingredient is Himalayan pink salt, which replenishes the same 84 trace minerals found in the human body that are lost when we sweat. A study in the Southeast Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public health showed that drinking sodium-enhanced coconut water was as effective at rehydrating as a commercial sports drink; in addition, it caused less nausea and stomach upset. So, in other words, it puts those flashy blue and red concoctions to shame. 

The third and last ingredient is acerola cherry powder. This one is optional, but I love the extra immune-boosting, whole food-derived vitamin C, subtle tanginess, and pale pink color it imparts to the drink. 

Natural Pedialyte/Gatorade Electrolyte Drink Alternative
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups coconut water
  2. 1/4 tsp Himalayan salt or sea salt
  3. 1/2 tsp acerola cherry powder
Instructions
  1. Pour two cups of coconut water into large jar or blender, add 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp acerola cherry powder. Close jar and shake vigorously or blend until ingredients are well combined. Serve.
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Desserts, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Special Diets, Vegetarian

Salted Brown Butter Barfi

When I was a teenager, I was invited to attend the Indian-American wedding of an acquaintance’s daughter. It was a lovely affair, but I didn’t know the bride or the groom. For me, the most memorable part was the parting gift. 

Inside a small box decorated with brightly-colored flourishes sat a little unfamiliar square of food with a note attached. It was a dessert common in India called ‘barfi.’

The name is a derivative of the Persian word barf, which means snow. While barf might not exactly sound appetizing to some, you’ve gotta trust me on this one: it was the most buttery, milky, fudgy splendor-morsel to ever touch my tastebuds. All those years passed and I have never stopped yearning for barfi. 

Well, now it’s mine, all mine! It turns out you can actually make food. Revolutionary, right? Wanting to mix it up and add an updated touch, I decided to make them with salted brown butter. ERMAHGERD. They are so good I made several batches of them and sent them away to loved ones in lieu of Christmas cookies. 

Salted Brown Butter Barfi
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cup milk powder
  2. 1 cup powdered sugar
  3. 1/2 cup whole milk
  4. 1/2 cup butter
  5. 3/4 tsp himalayan salt
  6. Optional garnishes: saffron, pistachios, dried fruit, toasted flaked almonds, or coconut flakes
Instructions
  1. Butter a small pan and set aside.
  2. Melt butter over medium heat in a pan with a light-colored bottom (to observe the color), swirling occasionally. The butter will begin to foam.
  3. When the butter reaches a soft caramel color and nutty smell (be careful not to burn the butter!), turn the heat down to low. Whisk in milk powder, salt, and liquid milk and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add powdered sugar, whisking continuously.
  5. Stir continuously until mixture becomes a thick lump in the middle.
  6. Pour mix into buttered pan and smooth out the top with a spatula or spoon.
  7. Let cool and set, cut into shapes, and garnish if desired. Serve at room temperature.
Adapted from Fa's Kitchen
Adapted from Fa's Kitchen
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Desserts, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Vegetarian

Mulled Wine Ice Cream

Hark! Winter has arrived on our doorstep in all its frosted glory! We’re donning fuzzy slippers and drinking nog (the egg variety), with hair that smells like smoke from wrestling logs and kindling into the wood stove, coaxing them into flames. 

For the last couple months we’ve been packing up our belongings and tying up loose ends in Portland, Oregon, in preparation for a long road trip to our new locale: a small town in Indiana. 

I bought an ice cream maker during that (very inopportune) time, stashed it away in our moving boxes, and began scribbling down flavor possibilities in a manic frenzy knowing I’d soon be able to unleash my inner mad scientist on a canvas of sweet cream.

As soon as I unpacked the ice cream maker, I got to work filling the kitchen with the aroma of mulling spices. I don’t want to toot my own frozen confection-horn here, but I’m so smitten with this recipe.  My (not-at-all-biased – HAH!) boyfriend says that it’s the best ice cream he’s ever had. 

There are so many layers to this treat: it’s tangy, yet creamy…spicy, yet comforting…floral, yet not too sweet. It’s nostalgic, yet tastes like nothing I’ve ever eaten before. It may become a new holiday tradition ’round these parts. 

Mulled Wine Ice Cream
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Ice cream base
  1. 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  2. 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  3. 1/2 cup white cane sugar
  4. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  5. 1/4 cup non-high-fructose corn syrup or tapioca syrup
  6. 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  7. 1/2 tsp salt
Mulled wine ingredients
  1. 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  2. 4 whole allspice berries
  3. 2 whole star anise
  4. 3 cinnamon sticks
  5. 1 inch piece fresh ginger, sliced and peeled
  6. Strips of orange zest from 1 mandarin orange
  7. 1 (750-ml) bottle dark, fruity red wine (I bought a $2.99 bottle of cabernet sauvignon that was on sale – don't waste your money on anything too sophisticated, the spices eclipse the wine's flavor)
  8. 2 whole cloves
Instructions
  1. Directions: Mix brown sugar, sugar, salt, and xanthan gum together in a bowl. Pour cold milk into a pot, and whisk sugar, brown sugar, xanthan gum, and salt into milk. Add corn syrup. Heat the milk on low until warm, stirring until all ingredients are completely dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in cream. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
  2. Wrap peppercorns, allspice berries, star anise, ginger, orange zest, and cinnamon sticks in cheesecloth and tie closed.
  3. Pour red wine into large pot, and drop in the spice bundle. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and reduce wine to approximately 1 cup of liquid (around 45 mins). Strain liquid to catch any stray spices that may have escaped the cheesecloth packet. Refrigerate 12 hours. Combine with ice cream base, and churn to a soft-serve consistency according to your ice cream machine’s instructions. Serve, or freeze overnight for a scoopable consistency.
Notes
  1. Depending on how big your ice cream maker is, you may need to churn half of the mixture at a time.
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