Follow along on my journey

This is where my inspiration began. Follow along as I interpret recipes for foods I love but have avoided for health reasons, recipes that are new and different but need some tweaking here or there, or some classic once-in-awhile favorites that I know can become regulars for you and for me with the changes I have made!

Healthy Oatmeal Cookies

I had found a recipe for healthy oatmeal cookies over the summer, recently read about the health benefits of cloves and cinnamon, and happened to have a good amount of organic oats left in my kitchen in italy. As usual, I interpreted the recipe. Here is the original:

Healthy Oatmeal Cookies (with Honey) (http://www.wholegraingourmet.com/recipes/43-cookies/58-healthy-oatmeal-cookies.html)

Ingredients:

Dry ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (a pinch more depending on the moisture of the mix)
  • 1 1/2 cups of Large Flake Rolled Oats (smaller flake is ok too)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp Cinnamon (I actually use about 3 Tbsp–got to love cinnamon)
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg (optional)

Wet ingredients

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup oil (corn, grapeseed or olive) * you can also use some applesauce to replace some of the oil if you wish*
  • 1 Tablespoon Molasses
  • 1 egg (beat with 1 Tbsp Water)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla

Yummy ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raisins (1 cup for my Dad’s batch)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (more for my Dad’s)!)

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together. Hint: when measuring out the honey, spray the measuring cup with oil or baking spray–your honey won’t stick).
  3. Mix the wet stuff with the dry stuff. Add the raisins and walnuts and mix. If the mixture seems too wet, add a bit of flour. If it isn’t binding together very well, you may wish to add an egg white.
  4. COOL the mix for 20 minutes in the fridge.
  5. Preheat the oven to 335 degrees (lower temperature due to the honey in the recipe which will burn more easily).
  6. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto your baking sheet (I recommend lining the baking sheet with parchment paper). Press down with a fork to ensure even cooking.
  7. Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes or until golden on the bottom of the cookie. The cookies freeze very well and make a great snack! Enjoy.

Here is the interpreted version that I created.

Healthy Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:

Dry

  • 1 cup gluten free flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of Large Flake Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/3 tsp cloves

Wet

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2/3 cup applesauce
  • 1 egg

Yummy ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup chopped dates, figs and raisins

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together. Hint: when measuring out the honey, spray the measuring cup with oil or baking spray–your honey won’t stick).
  3. Mix the wet stuff with the dry stuff. Add the raisins, figs and dates and mix. If the mixture seems too wet, add a bit of flour. If it isn’t binding together very well, you may wish to add an egg white.
  4. It will be somewhat difficult to mix everything together so I suggest using your hands to really mix it all together
  5. Preheat the oven to 335 degrees
  6. Shape the dough into balls and flatten into cookie shapes. Place them on an ungreased cookie tray.
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes. The cookies freeze very well and taste just like cooked oatmeal!

oatmealcookie (1 of 1)

 

Zucchini Brownie

I found this recipe for a Zucchini Brownie through the following website: http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=474935. Earlier this summer, I tried a brownie that had somewhat similar ingredients, while at a health food store in South Africa. I was intrigued and hoped to find a recipe to make the creation on my own. Unfortunately, I want a little overboard in the health department with the infusion of a Green Protein Powder, forcing me to overcompensate with more honey and cocoa powder and causing the brownie to loose some of its overall sweetness. Regardless, it didn’t turn out that bad and it’s ridiculously healthy for a chocolate dessert.

Original Zucchini Brownie:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 small or medium bananas mashed
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups finely shredded zucchini
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 9×13 inch baking pan. In a large bowl, mix together the applesauce, mashed bananas and sugar. Add vanilla and cocoa and mix together. Then add baking soda, salt, and zucchini and mix together. Add flour and walnuts and mix together. Spread evenly into a prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes until brownies spring back when gently touched.

Interpreted Zucchini Brownie:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 medium bananas mashed
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 11 scoop of chocolate flavored Pure Green Protein mix
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups finely shredded zucchini
  • 3/4 cups gluten free flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9×13 inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the applesauce, mashed bananas and honey. Add vanilla, cocoa, protein mix and mix together. Then add baking soda, salt, and zucchini and mix together. Add flour and cranberries and mix together. Spread evenly into pan. Bake for 20 minutes until brownies.

The Pure Green Protein that I added is comprised of yellow pea protein, alfalfa protein, evaporated cane juice, rice protein, cocoa powder, spirulina powder and a bunch of things I have never heard of. It also has a bunch of essential amino acids. Some of the comments I read about the original recipe said it was really cakey and not gooey like a normal brownie. To help with this problem, I just used more apple sauce and a little less flour. Play with it!

Chickpea, Potato, Spinach Jalfrezi

I recently found this recipe on Serious Eats (http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/02/chickpea-potato-and-spinach-jalfrezi-with-cilantro-chutney-recipe.html). Here is the original recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into rough 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  •  1 medium onion, grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 3 cloves of garlic, grated on a microplane grater
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, grated on a microplane grater
  • 4 to 5 small green Thai bird chiles (or other green chiles, if you prefer)
  • 1 small red pepper, finely diced
  • 8 stems cilantro, leaves roughly chopped, tender stems finely minced and reserved separately
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 2 small plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped (a canned tomato is fine)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, with their liquid
  • 8 ounces curly spinach, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoon juice from 2 limes

For the Cilantro Chutney

  • 2 cups picked fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small green Thai bird chile

Procedures

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water by 1-inch. Season to taste with salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are tender but not falling apart, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add grated onion, garlic, ginger, chiles, cilantro stems, and red pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the moisture has evaporated and mixture is beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add turmeric, coriander, cumin, and paprika, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, spinach, 1/2 cup of water, and cooked potatoes. Stir until spinach wilts. Add half of lime juice and season to taste with salt. reduce heat to lowest setting, cover, and keep warm while making chutney.

For the Chutney: Combine cilantro, garlic, chile, and remaining lime juice in a blender or in the cup of a hand blender and add 1/3 cup water. Blend until smooth, scraping down sides and adding water as necessary. Season to taste with salt.

Add more liquid to jalfrezi if necessary and serve with chutney and steamed basmati rice or naan….

As usual, I got to work figuring out how to tweak the recipe given the ingredients I already had in the house, ones I could find in the store, and ones that were even healthier alternatives.

I couldn’t find chilies or fresh cilantro so I didn’t include the chutney. Since cilantro and coriander is the same thing and I had dried coriander I just had to use more of that to make up for the lack of fresh cilantro.  As I said, I couldn’t chilies but I had chili powder and cayenne pepper and piri piri powder so I sprinkled some of those (how much depends on spice level you want). I also had no hot paprika so my other spices were the substitutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 small russet potato cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  •  1 medium onion, grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 3 cloves of garlic, grated on a microplane grater
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, grated on a microplane grater
  • 1 teaspoon each of chili powder, cayenne pepper and piri piri powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 small cherry tomatoes, seeded, and roughly chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, with their liquid
  • a large handful of spinach, roughly chopped
  • ½ lime juiced
  • half bushel of chopped kale
  • 1 cup chopped sliced brown mushrooms
  • 3 cup of finely chopped broccoli and stalk

– Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water by 1-inch. Season to taste with salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are tender but not falling apart, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

– In a large saucepan heat oil over medium heat with grated onion, garlic, ginger, stirring frequently, until most of the moisture has evaporated and mixture is beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Add 1/3 cup water, brocolli, kale, turmeric, coriander, cumin, piri piri and chile powder, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.

– Add chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, spinach, mushrooms, and cooked potatoes. Stir until spinach wilts. Add lime juice and season to taste with salt. Reduce heat to lowest setting, cover, and keep warm while quinoa finishes.

Follow instructions to make quinoa. When quinoa is almost finished, undercover jalfrezi and mix quinoa in, continue to stir and let it cook together.

It was lacking a little something, maybe it was the quinoa, or the lack of chutney or the smaller amount of potatoes. My boyfriend had the idea to sprinkle a bit of feta cheese on top and it made it absolutely wonderful! I know that adds extra fat to the dish and it tastes good without it, but with the addition its something that could be eaten again and again. Paneer would also be a good addition. Tomorrow we are going to add some chicken into the mixture with the jalfrezi and quinoa that we have left.

GF Sweet Potato Apple Raisin Squash Cookies

Try saying that 5 times in a row! This dessert is just another prime example of me taking a recipe from my collection, substituting out the unhealthy parts, and subbing in random fresh and dried fruits and fresh veggies I have left over in my kitchen to make something that will slightly resemble the original recipe I reinterpreted. I have 2 weeks left in my small Tulfes, Austria apartment before traveling on to Savona, Italy. Fortunately for me, we are making a pit stop in Bologna to take a cooking class with an Italian chef! It will be my first cooking class but hopefully not my last. I am unsure of the kitchen conditions and materials in my up and coming apartment so I’m cooking all I can now with all the spices and baking materials that I’ve bought over the past few months.

For some time now I’ve been experimenting with gluten free cookies, because, well why not? I have been using rice flour and spelt flakes when traditional flour and oat type products are required. I’ve also been learning a lot about sugar substitutes and have completely removed sugar from all my recipes, instead replacing the sugar with dates, figs, raisins, SF apple sauce, smashed grapes, smashed apples, bananas, dried cherries and/or dried currants. In the beginning of the week I asked my boyfriend to buy my a spaghetti squash at the squash stand and he returned with a red kuri squash, thinking it was the same thing. I have made red kuri squash risotto and I know of some great soup and pie recipes using the ingredient but I wanted to learn more. Upon further research, I learned that red kuri squash can be used as a substitute for sweet potato. Over the summer I had experimented a lot with sweet potato and knowing about this substitution awakened many more cooking opportunities for me.

That night I also purchased some sweet potatoes and decided to make sweet potato falafel from a recipe I found. I didnt really reintrepret anything in this recipe or in the hummus that went along with it so I didnt include it as a blog entry but the recipes were great so here they are.

Baked Sweet Potato Falafel Recipe

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (orange inside), around 700g or 1 1/2 pounds in total
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 small cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 big handfuls of fresh cilantro/coriander, chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • a scant cup (120g) gram /chickpea flour
  • a splash of olive oil
  • a sprinkling of sesame seeds
  • salt and pepper

 Directions

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees (220C) and roast the sweet potatoes whole until just tender – 45 minutes to 1 hour. Turn off the oven, leave the potatoes to cool, then peel. Put the sweet potatoes, cumin, garlic, ground and fresh coriander, lemon juice and gram/chickpea flour into a large bowl. Season well, and mash until smooth with no large chunks. Stick in the fridge to firm up for an hour, or the freezer for 20-30 minutes. When you take it out, your mix should be sticky rather than really wet. You can add a tablespoon or so more of chickpea flour if necessary (the water content of sweet potatoes varies enormously). Reheat the oven to 400F/200C. Using a couple of soup spoons (put a well-heaped spoonful of mix in one spoon and use the concave side of the other to shape the sides) or a falafel scoop if you have one, make the mixture into falafelly looking things and put them on an oiled tray. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes, until the bases are golden brown. Makes about 18 falafel, enough for 4 – 6.

I couldn’t find the fresh herbs so I used dried, I found a falafel mix at the store in the organic section so I subbed that for the chickpea flour, I didnt have sesame seeds and I brushed them with olive oil rather than placing them on an oiled tray. Although they came out a little drier than I wanted, they had great flavor. For the hummus recipe, I took a few that I found on the internet and came up with this:

Recipe: Classic Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 can of  lightly drained chickpeas (garbanzo beans) – want some of the juice for mixing and for texture
  • the juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • sprinkle of paprika

Directions

Mix and mash everything together. I had no mixture so this took a LONG time but the flavor was great and was worth the effort!

Ok, now back to the cookies! So I had some extra sweet potato and the red kuri squash, and some applesauce from a recipe I made last week, so I searched my recipe book for something and found this!

Sweet potato apple muffins

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup oat bran
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup organic sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 can sweet potato puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup plain yogurt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine bran, flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and apples. Add sweet potatoes, egg, egg whites, oil and yogurt. Stir all ingredients thoroughly. Spray muffin tins with vegetable cooking spray and spoon ¼ cup of batter per muffin. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

I unfortunately had no eggs, baking soda, or baking powder. I also didnt want to use oil, sugar, oat bran, or whole wheat flour and I had no muffin tins soooo I did this!

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup spelt oats
  • 1 ¼ cup rice flour
  • 2/3 cup apple sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1.5 cups of raisins
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 medium/large apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 mashed baked sweet potato
  • 1/3 mashed baked red kuri squash
  • 1/4 cup smashed green grapes
  • 2/3 cup plain yogurt

Directions:

The measurements are somewhat rough. I usually follow the measurements and then depending on the consistency, add some more dry or wet ingredients, so use your judgment on this! Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add all wet ingredients together and slowly mix in the dry ingredients. Stir all ingredients thoroughly. Make cookie sized balls with your hands, the dough is pretty wet, and place onto cookie sheet. Bake for about 8 minutes then remove the sheet from oven and press down the balls into cookie shapes with a spatula. Mine would stick so after pushing down about 3 cookies, I would rinse off any accumulated batter with water, shake it dry, and continue. Cook for another 10 minutes roughly, check how they look and smell. They are going to be very moist, cake like cookies, just so you know!

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My Take on Cauliflower Crust Pizza

So I found this recipe a little while back for making a pizza crust out of cauliflower and I was certainly intrigued.

ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked, riced cauliflower
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • olive oil (optional)
  • pizza sauce, shredded cheese and your choice of toppings*

directions:

To “Rice” the Cauliflower: Take 1 large head of fresh cauliflower, remove stems and leaves, and chop the florets into chunks. Add to food processor and pulse until it looks like grain. Do not over-do pulse or you will puree it. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can grate the whole head with a cheese grater). Place the riced cauliflower into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 8 minutes (some microwaves are more powerful than others, so you may need to reduce this cooking time). There is no need to add water, as the natural moisture in the cauliflower is enough to cook itself. One large head should produce approximately 3 cups of riced cauliflower. The remainder can be used to make additional pizza crusts immediately, or can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

To Make the Pizza Crust: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup cauliflower, egg and mozzarella. Add oregano, crushed garlic and garlic salt, stir. Transfer to the cookie sheet, and using your hands, pat out into a 9” round. Optional: Brush olive oil over top of mixture to help with browning. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. To the crust, add sauce, toppings and cheese. Place under a broiler at high heat just until cheese is melted (approximately 3-4 minutes). *Note that toppings need to be precooked since you are only broiling for a few minutes.

I had no garlic salt or food processor so I took the hand grating approach and opted for a sprinkle of sea salt and the addition of dried basil. I had so much cauliflower so I decided to double the recipe. Unfortunately, maybe because of the heat of the cooked cauliflower, my “dough” was not the consistency of dough. I decided to add some rice flour to the mixture until it took on a consistency that I liked. I rolled the mixture onto some wax paper on my cookie sheet but it still seemed a little too wet. I decided to go for the blot technique, a technique typically employed when I try to de-grease pizza that I buy out at pizza parlors. I went through a couple paper towels of blotting but it was finally the dryness I wanted. I cooked it for about the allotted time, constantly checking the color until it was visibly cooked and slightly crispy looking.

I removed the crust from the oven and topped it with a little tomato sauce, some pre-steamed broccoli, some feta cheese crumbles, fresh tomato slices, sundried tomato pieces and some extra oregano. Back into the oven for a few more minutes and viola! An incredible pizza was made! Unfortunately  the recipe is still not up to my health standards so regardless of the delicious taste, I opted to give the second half of the pizza to my boyfriend rather than eat it the next day. When I make the recipe next time I will greatly decrease the amount of cheese found in the crust and increase the amount of cauliflower, i might even do the same process to some broccoli and add that in!

Depending on the size of your cauliflower head you might have some left over, I had a ton left over, I decided to try out my cajun cauliflower recipe!

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Cajun Roasted Cauliflower “Steaks”

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cauliflower cut into 3 1/2″ “steaks”, the remaining cauliflower kept for another use

Per steak:

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Prepare the cauliflower “steaks” by turning the head of cauliflower over so that the stem is facing up.  Make two parallel cuts on either side of the stem, then cut the remaining middle piece into as many “steaks” as possible(no thinner than 1/2″).  Arrange as many “steaks” as needed on a baking sheet.  The remaining cauliflower can be chopped and stored in the fridge for another meal, or it can added to the same pan as the “steaks” after they have already cooked for 10 minutes.  The “steaks” can also be stored in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge until ready to use.

Drizzle the prepared cauliflower “steaks” with 2 tsp oil for each steak, and then sprinkle with 1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning and 1/8 tsp of sea salt.  Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and gently flip over.  Sprinkle the other side with the remaining 1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning and 1/8 tsp of sea salt.  Return to the oven for 10 more minutes, or until golden on both sides and crispy and dark brown on the edges.  Serve immediately garnished with fresh parsley if desired.

Homemade Cajun Seasoning

  • 1/2 C paprika
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp onion powder
  • up to 1 tbsp cayenne (or more to taste)
  • 1 tbsp white pepper
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp sugar(optional)

I had no white paper, garlic powder, onion powder or dry mustard. I used the rest of the ingredients but added in some chili powder and some piri piri spice. I also opted to not add extra salt to the sliced steaks and went with a drizzle of olive oil. WOW! These are incredible and a must try healthy snack!

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Apple, Banana, Raisin, Seed Cookie?

If you know me, you know I have a sweet tooth. I had no chocolate in the house and I was craving some cookies. I had a breakfast mixture I made to top over yogurt, consisting of spelt oats, pumpkin seeds, sun flower seeds, raisins, cranberries, currents, and sesame seeds. I wanted to use this as the base of my cookies. I am currently living in this town called Tulfes, its up in the mountains above Innsbruck, Austria. I live across the street from a field of apple trees, all owned by my landlord. He handed me an arm full of apples yesterday so I thought I would use some in my cookies as well. I finely chopped up one of the apples, along with the last banana I had in the house. To sweeten the cookies a little more I added cinnamon, ground cloves and agave nectar (in sugar form). To moisten the cookies I added a splash of skim milk and some nonfat plain yogurt. Lastly, I added in some rice flour to give it a more cookie like consistency. I cooked them on 190C for only a few minutes. If you cook them too long they would probably dry out.

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Mussels

I recently had my most exciting cooking adventure yet! I got dropped off in the town over from me so I could walk around and get some internet work done at the coffee shop. As I began my trek home I came across my boyfriend and friend who were walking to meet me. Together we walked home along side the ocean and joked about catching seafood and shellfish. Then all of the sudden I saw two African men grabbing mussels from the rocks by the ocean. We thought, why not? and decided to head down toward the water. An hour later we left with a bag of freshly plucked mussels from False Bay! We brought them home,  looked up directions on how to prepare them and clean them and got to work. That night I was lucky enough to indulge in a feast of mussels cooked in white wine and olive oil with parsley, garlic, mushroom, spinach and onion, with a sprinkle of pecorino romano on top. ahh perfection!

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Gluten Free Sweet Potato Date Tart

Sweet Potato Tart with Maple Icing

Ingredients:

Filling:

  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes, about 2 cups cooked
  • 10 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup Agave
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 cup sweet white rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom

Crust:

  • 2 cups almonds
  • 4 Medjool dates, pitted

Icing:

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 cup 100% maple syrup

Directions:

First, cook your sweet potatoes, by either baking or microwaving.  I microwaved mine because I am always looking for that shortcut.  If you would like to do the same, poke holes all over both sweet potatoes using a fork.  Microwave each one individually for about 5 minutes, or until tender.  Mine were each done at exactly 5 minutes, and they were about the length of a basic spoon.  I then ran them under cold water and let cool for a few minutes.  Next, I cut them in half, across the middle and scooped out the cooked potato.  Once you have your cooked sweet potatoes ready, set aside. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Grease a small pie or spring-form pan.  I just used an 8″ cake pan.   Now, take the almonds and dates for your crust and blend in food processor until a course meal forms. Press firmly into greased pan. Next, clean out any remaining almond/date mixture from your food processor and toss in your cooked sweet potatoes, agave, salt and pitted dates.  Blend in food processor until smooth.  The mixture should look like this: Transfer pureed mixture into large mixing bowl and add in rice flour and potato starch and spices.  Mix until smooth.  The mixture will be thick.  Using a flat spatula, spread into pan on top of almond crust. This isn’t like pumpkin pie.  You will have to work the batter to get it smooth.  It is not difficult, but it doesn’t come by itself.  I found it easiest to make circular strokes until it all evened out~

Bake in preheated oven for about 25-35 minutes.  Just make sure you keep checking on it after about 20 minutes. It will be done when you can touch the top of the tart, and the batter does not stick to your finger. 🙂 Be careful not to overbake, or your crust will begin to burn.  Once out of the oven, place on wire rack and let cool. Now, make glaze by combining confectioner’s sugar and maple syrup and whisk together quickly until super smooth. Drizzle on top of tart (or pour!), and chill in refrigerator.

I can’t eat nuts, I couldn’t find potato starch or sweet rice flour, I ran out of the rice flour that I had, I had only Agave sugar, I couldn’t find cardamon so I substituted with cinnamon, and I didnt want to buy an entire thing of Maple Syrup. I figured I would make a slightly traditional tart crust. 

Filling:

  •  2 medium sized sweet potatoes, about 2 cups cooked
  • 10 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2/3 cup Agave sugar
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1/8 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

 Crust:

Here is the original recipe for the tart shell

  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar ¼ cup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

and here is the tart shell recipe I made up

  • ¾ cup plain non fat yogurt
  • ¼ cup agave nectar sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 ¾ cup rice flour
  • 6 pitted and chopped dates

Topping:

·       fresh dates pitted, sliced and peeled for the top

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Press the dough into a 10-inch-round or 9-inch-square false-bottom tart pan, making sure that the finished edge is flat. Chill until firm. First, microwave the sweet potatoes. poke holes all over both sweet potatoes using a fork.  Microwave each one individually for about 5 minutes, or until tender.  Let cool for a few minutes.  Cut them in half, across the middle and scoop out the cooked potato.  Set aside. Blend cooked sweet potatoes, agave, salt and pitted dates until smooth. Transfer pureed mixture into large mixing bowl and add in rice flour and potato starch and spices.  Mix until smooth.  The mixture will be thick.  Using a flat spatula, spread into pan on top of crust. Bake in preheated oven for about 25-35 minutes.  Just make sure you keep checking on it after about 20 minutes. After about 20 minutes remove the tart from the oven and place the date slices on top. Return to oven. It will be done when the crust looks cooked, slightly brown and starting to crack a bit.

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Zucchini “Pasta”

Since I am on a gluten free experiment this week I decided to make pasta out of zucchini! I had a  bit of a few recipes to work off of and just made a bunch up while I went along. Luckily it turned out amazing!

Here is the original recipe

ingredients

  • 3 large zucchinis
  • 1 cup shelled green peas
  • 10 – 12 garlic scapes, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups packed basil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup nutrition yeast
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

instructions

  1. Add the garlic scapes, basil, garlic, walnuts and nutritional yeast into a food processor.
  2. Begin to process and slowly add oil into the top, until you have a smooth consistency.
  3. Scoop into a separate bowl and set aside.
  4. Using either a spiral slicer or simply a mandoline slicer, slice your zucchini into pasta strips.
  5. Place in a large mixing bowl and top with the pesto.
  6. Carefully mix the zucchini noodles with the pesto, tossing until they are all coated with pesto.
  7. Serve into bowls and sprinkle with fresh peas.
  8. Enjoy with a little dash of red chili flakes for a little heat!

My boyfriend doesnt like green peas, I couldnt find garlic scapes and I’m allergic to walnuts so I decided to make a non-vegan version. Instead, I changed it to this,

ingredients

  • full bag of mini zucchinis (all they have in Cape Town)
  • 1/2 cup of steamed swiss chard (refer to my previous recipe for how to cook this)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 1/8 cups packed basil (it was a whole package)
  • 1/8 grano padano cheese
  • 2 tspns Olive oil
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/16 cup sun flower seeds and pumpkin seeds
  • a package of shiitake mushrooms

instructions

  1. Add the basil, garlic, cheese, seeds and pepper into a food processor. ( I only had a blender and had a really hard time making the pesto. It ended up pretty chunky and I had to hand cut a lot of it)
  2. Begin to process and slowly add oil into the top, until you have a smooth consistency.
  3. Scoop into a separate bowl and set aside.
  4. Using either a spiral slicer or simply a mandoline slicer, slice your zucchini into pasta strips. (I just sliced the zucchini into linguine type shapes with a knife. It took forever!)
  5. bake the noodles at 180 C until they are soft. About 20 minutes
  6. while this is baking saute the swiss chard in one pan and the shiitake mushrooms with olive oil in another pan- about 1 tbsp
  7. Once the zucchini is done mix with vegetable and pesto and top with a little extra pecorino romano

**********

Beet, Swiss Chard Scramble

I have been cooking up a storm lately, especially since I decided to go completely gluten free for this entire week. I figured I should explore some other types of foods and try new things with vegetables I love. I have been searching food blogs, pinterest and epicurious for great recipes and I have quite a selection now. I made a roasted beet and swiss chard scramble that I can eat the next couple days for lunch while I am out rock climbing in South Africa.

Here is the original recipe:

ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds red beets (about 3 large)
  • 4 pounds Swiss chard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, halved lengthwise, cut thinly crosswise
  • 3/4 cup sliced green onions (about 3)
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 jalapeño chiles, thinly sliced crosswise with seeds
  • 3 14 1/2-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice, drained
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 51/2-ounce log soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Fold Swiss chard leaves in half lengthwise and cut stalks away from leaves. Cut leaves coarsely into 1-inch pieces. Slice stalks thinly crosswise. Reserve stalks and leaves separately. Cook chopped leaves in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 1 minute. Drain and reserve.

Heat oil in heavy large pot over high heat. Add sliced stalks; sauté until starting to soften, about 8 minutes.Add onion and next 3 ingredients; sauté 3 minutes. Add drained tomatoes and 1 cup raisins. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Add chard leaves to pot; stir to heat through. Remove from heat; add lime juice and stir to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer chard mixture to large platter. Sprinkle with beets, goat cheese, pine nuts, and remaining 2 tablespoons raisins. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Now I didnt change it much but this is what I did and it tastes great!

ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds red beets (about 3 large)
  • 1 bag of Swiss chard
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion chopped
  • 3/4 cup sliced green onions (about 3)
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño chiles, thinly sliced crosswise with seeds
  • 1 can diced tomatoes in juice, drained
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled

I steamed small ripped pieces of swiss chard in a saute pan with a little water and covered it with a lid until it was cooked. In a separate pan I place in the onions and scallions with the olive oil and let them simmer for a bit. Next I added in the garlic and sliced chiles. Then I added the drained tomatoes and 1 cup raisins. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. In the pan with the cooked swiss chard I added the lime juice and stirred to blend. I then added the additional raisins and beets and waited for the other mixture to finish. Once the other mixture was finished I tossed in the chard and beets and stirred everything together. I let it sit for a few minutes so it would all get the same flavor. I plan to add in some goat cheese tomorrow and the next day when I eat it for lunch.

**********

Applesauce Interpretation

original recipe. Let me preface by saying this recipe is amazing and the perfect addition to any thanksgiving meal. It’s also great for leftovers. It’s so sweet it’s practically a dessert in itself, thus the inspiration for my interpretation!

Oven‐Roasted Applesauce

ingredients

  • 1⁄4 cup brandy or cider ( I use brandy but I’m sure it would taste good w/cider too!)
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon, plus zest of one lemon
  • 1⁄4 cup plus 2 tbsp packed dark‐brown sugar
  • 3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths (don’t stress about the type of apples! Just get what you can find and it will be fabulous!)
  • 3 mcIntosh apples, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths Pinch of salt.

1. Heat oven to 375. In a 12×14” roasting pan (or equivalent) combine the brandy, cinnamon, cloves, lemon juice and zest, brown sugar. Add all apples and toss.

2. Roast until the apples are very soft and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer apples to the bowl of a food processor and pulse till smooth (I never do this step! They are already soft and smooth enough!) Stir in a pinch of salt and serve warm!

So I am currently living in Cape Town, South Africa where I dont have my supply of spices and my parents liquor stash so I have decided to tweak this recipe to avoid the brandy/cider (dont think that exists down here) and to make it much healthier. I also forgot to mention that I have a friend down here who produces the majority of the grapes for South Africa and Namibia. He recently came into a large crate of dates and didnt know what to do with all of them so he gave about half of the crate to me! I have never cooked with dates in the past except once in an oatmeal raisin date bar, but I decided to experiment with using date as a sweetener.

Here is how I adapted the recipe:

  • 1/4 cup apple pear juice (Ceres 100% juice)
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates (a heaping cup)
  • 2 tbsp of ground cinnamon (I love this spice and I didnt have cloves)
  • 1.5 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon, plus zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar sugar
  • 5 Pink Crisp apples, cored, chopped into small pieces (if the pieces are too big the skin makes them take even longer to cook, I choose to keep the skin for added texture)

1. Heat oven to 375. In a 12×14” roasting pan (or equivalent) combine all the ingredients and toss together

2. Roast until the apples are very soft and golden brown, it’s best to keep checking. Once after 20 minutes and then every 5 minutes. Stir around each time you check to keep the apples moist.

This tastes best served warm with either a dollop of fat free greek yogurt (plain or vanilla) or vanilla frozen yogurt. If you are somewhere that you can find frozen Kefir (my favorite ice cream type product ever!) I bet a few of those flavors would make for the perfect topping.

**********

Quick Oat Bran and Banana Muffin

I decided to prepare another type of on the go meal and this time I went off of a Quick oat bran and banana muffin recipe I found on Epicurious. I am about to embark on a few days of climbing in a new area and am unsure of what the grocery store situation will be so I decided to make a lunch/breakfast option for on the go!

The original recipe:

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup oat bran
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ripe bananas, peeled, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease twelve 1/3-cup muffin cups or line with paper muffin cups. Combine first 5 ingredients in large bowl. Whisk milk, butter, egg whites and vanilla to blend in medium bowl. Add milk mixture to dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Mix in bananas and 1/2 cup pecans. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle remaining pecans over each muffin. Bake until toothpick inserted into centers of muffins comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I changed it to the following, I omitted nuts because I am allergic and added flax seed to have an added health element.

  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup fat free milk
  • 1/4 cup fat free plain yogurt
  • 1 large squirt of honey
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ripe bananas, peeled, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisin
  • 1 teaspoon golden flax seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

I made this bread as a snack/dessert just for me, thinking that with the lack of sugar and butter, no one else would like it. My boyfriend, who is currently making a box of betty crocker brownies and has no concern for sugar, fat or health additives, turned out to really like the bread! I was so surprised!

**********

Choc-Chip, Oatmeal, Raisin Bars

I always find it easy to find healthier dessert options in America in comparison to every other country. As someone that LOVES dessert, this is necessary in order to prevent insane  weight gain. Unfortunately for my sweet tooth and body, I find myself out of America more months out of the year than I am in the country so I’ve taken it upon myself to make all my desserts from scratch. Recently, I had a desire for cookies and I figured that oatmeal raisin cookies would be the easiest to make healthier. I always need a little chocolate in my life so i opted for the darkest chocolate I could find in Cape Town (my current location)  because darker chocolate has less fat and sugar. Next I found two somewhat healthy oatmeal raisin cookie recipes and decided to combine and alter.

Recipe 1: Healthy Oatmeal Cookies (with Honey)

Ingredients:

Dry

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (a pinch more depending on the moisture of the mix)
  • 1 1/2 cups of Large Flake Rolled Oats (smaller flake is ok too)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-3 Tbsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Nutmeg (optional)

Wet

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup oil (corn, grapeseed or olive) * you can also use some applesauce to replace some of the oil if you wish*
  • 1 Tablespoon Molasses
  • 1 egg (beat with 1 Tbsp Water)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla

Yummy ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup walnuts

Recipe 2: Healthy Makeover: Chocolate Chip- Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1/2 cup(s) (packed) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup(s) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup(s) trans fat–free vegetable oil spread (60% to 70% oil)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon(s) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 2 1/2 cup(s) quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats, uncooked
  • 1 cup(s) bittersweet (62% cacao) or semisweet chocolate chips

Some of the ingredients from both of the above recipes I did not have in my house and some I did not want in my body so I came up with this alternative.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (a pinch more depending on the moisture of the mix)
  • 2 cups of Rolled Oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 ripe bananas (mush them up a ton within the mixture to create the moisture)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (more or less)
  • 1 regular size dark chocolate bar cut up into small pieces (they have no chocolate chips here)
  • 1/8 cup golden flax seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Preparation:

  •   In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together
  •  COOL the mix for 20 minutes in the fridge.
  • Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius
  • Press the entire mixture into an 8 x 11 glass baking dish and smooth down
  • Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes
The bars turned out absolutely delicious! They can be eaten as a dessert or even a sweet lunch/snack in the middle of the day!

**********

Paul’s Birthday Cheesecake

This is a recipe from Iron Chef Cat Cora for Blueberry Cheesecake

Ingredients

  •    Unsalted butter for the pan
  •    3/4 pound (1 1/ 2 cups) mascarpone cheese, softened
  •    1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  •    3/4 cup plus about 2 tablespoons sugar, plus more for the pan
  •    2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  •    1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  •    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •    3 large eggs
  •    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  •    2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed
  •    Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)
  •    Whipped cream or creme fraiche (store-bought or homemade; optional)

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the middle. Butter a 9-by-2-inch round cake pan or a 9-inch springform pan and dust with sugar, tilting the pan to coat and discarding any excess.
  • In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the mascarpone, cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour, scraping the bowl to make sure it is incorporated.
  • Pour the batter into the pan. Bake until the top of the cake is a deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let the cake cool in its pan on a rack for 15 to 20 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the cheesecake. If using a cake pan, invert a serving plate over the pan and reinvert the cheesecake on the plate. If using a springform pan, remove the sides and set the bottom on a serving plate. Let cool completely.
  • In a medium bowl, mix the blueberries with the 2 tablespoons sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon lemon zest. If using fresh berries, crush a few with the back of a spoon to encourage juices to form. (Taste the fruit; if it’s too tart, add another teaspoon of sugar.)
  • When ready to serve, dust the cheesecake with confectioners’ sugar, if using, and spoon the blueberries over the cheesecake. Cut and serve with a dollop of whipped cream or creme fraiche, if you like.
This is a recipe from Chef Paula Deen for Chocolate Cheesecake 
Ingredients

Crust:

  •    2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
  •    1/3 cup sugar
  •    1/3 cup butter, melted

Chocolate Layer:

  •    6 (1-ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
  •    6 tablespoons butter
  •    1/2 cup sugar
  •    2 large eggs
  •    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Cheesecake Layer:

  •    1/2 cup caramel syrup
  •    1 (16 1/2-ounce) package refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  •    2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  •    3/4 cup sugar
  •    3 large eggs
  •    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •    1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  •    1/2 cup sour cream

Chocolate Ganache:

  •    6 (1-ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
  •    4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  • For the crust: In a medium bowl, combine the cracker crumbs and sugar. Add the melted butter, stirring to combine. Press the crust into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 6 minutes; let cool.
  • For the chocolate layer: Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter (or microwave on high in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until the chocolate is melted and smooth, about 1 1/2 minutes total). Whisk in the sugar, eggs, and flour until just combined. Pour into the bottom of the cooled crust and bake for 15 minutes; let cool.
  • For the cheesecake layer: Spread the caramel topping evenly over the cooled chocolate layer. Cut the cookie dough crosswise into 1-inch slices. Place the slices in an even layer over the caramel, pressing gently together to seal the edges.
  • In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and flour until just combined. Stir in the sour cream. Pour the mixture over the cookie dough layer and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and gently run a knife around the edges to release the crust from the sides of the pan. Let cool completely.
  • For the ganache: Using a double boiler, combine the chocolate and cream and melt (or microwave on high in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until the chocolate is melted and smooth, about 1 minute total). Spread over the cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving.
Instantly, there were a lot of things I wanted to change to both recipes individually and then I had to deal with combining them because I wanted the marscapone flavor and texture along with the cookie dough and caramel flavors from the chocolate cheesecake. So I tweaked and prodded with the ingredients until the recipe looked like this!

Cheesecake Layer: 

  • 1/2 cup sugar free caramel syrup
  • 1 (16 1/2-ounce) package refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough (make cherry brook kitchen gluten-free chocolate chip cookie dough with organic nonfat vanilla yogurt)
  • 1 (8-ounce) package organic light cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 pound (1 1/ 2 cups) mascarpone cheese, softened—> became 1 cup. Plus 1/3 cup of nonfat vanilla yogurt.
  • 3/4 cup organic cane sugar
  • 3 large free range eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon organic all-purpose flour —> became whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup organic low-fat sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Oh and I decided to use one of MOM’s pre-made healthy crusts to save some time- if this recipe works out Ill do the crust homemade next time! —> used a whole wheat crust.

Directions 
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and position a rack in the middle.
For the cheesecake layer: Spread the caramel topping evenly over the crust. Spread a thin layer of cookie dough on top of the caramel.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the mascarpone, cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour, scraping the bowl to make sure it is incorporated. Stir in the sour cream.
Pour the mixture over the cookie dough layer and bake for 40-50 minutes. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake until the top of the cake is a deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in its pan on a rack for 15 to 20 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the cheesecake. If using a cake pan, invert a serving plate over the pan and reinvert the cheesecake on the plate. If using a springform pan, remove the sides and set the bottom on a serving plate. Let cool completely.

* To say it was easy to combine the two recipes into one recipe of healthy perfection would be a lie. Thing after thing kept going wrong. First of all, I made a list of the ingredients when I went to the store, but not the amounts, therefore I was short on some things. Because I purchased a crust there was a finite height the cake could get to so I spread a thin layer of sugar free caramel sauce on the bottom of the Whole Wheat crust. Next, because I was making my own cookie dough, I couldn’t follow the directions in the recipe, instead I just attempted to place the cookie dough (not easy) on top of the sticky caramel sauce. I set that to the side and began the cheesecake mixture. I had a little less than 1 cup of marscapone, so I used the remainder of the vanilla yogurt I had bought for the cookie mix, but it was too little yogurt as well, but I hoped it would be okay. I also discovered to my dismay that my electric mixer had been left at MOMs during one of my demo days so my boyfriend and I had to be the mixer ourselves (again, REALLY not easy). We had to mix way longer than the recipe called for, but finally we were able to get to the step where we added flour. It turned out that we only had whole wheat flour, so we put that in. We had none of the pans spoken about in the recipe and I wasn’t sure how to use the pans with the pie crust anyway, so I ignored that part!
 
It turned out that we had WAY more cookie dough than could fit in the pie crust so I kept the remainder in a bowl to the side. We also had WAY too much cheesecake mix than could fit in the pie. I filled it to the brim, not realizing that it would rise slightly and spill over, but fortunately I had placed a cookie sheet under the pie and the excess had fallen onto that. I put that cake in the oven for 45 minutes at 325 and awaited patiently. Unsure of what to do with the remainder of my mix I concluded that mini cookie dough cheesecake cupcakes could be fun, so I made 24 of those.
 
At 45 minutes the cake didn’t look close to finished so I added 10 minutes. 10 minutes later, it was still not finished! I increased the temperature to 335 and 5 minutes later it looked good to go. I put the cupcakes in for about 15 minutes, until I could tell they were finished. Mind you, the cupcakes were predominately made from cookie mix so it was easier to visibly see the progression. At this point in time, I have only sampled a cupcake, but it was delicious! I cannot wait to try that cake on Sunday for Paul’s Birthday! 
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