The Amazing Artichoke!

I recently held a cooking and nutrition seminar with a support group of amazing ladies who are either currently in cancer treatment or are in recovery. To say it was inspiring just doesn’t do justice.  These women were warriors!   I am a firm believer that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and have witnessed testimonials from people who say some of their weakest and lowest moments end up becoming their biggest blessings.  #staystrong

This particular seminar focused primarily on anti-inflammatory foods since inflammation and gut health are critical to recovery and fighting free radicals.  #foodheals  One of my highlighted foods was the artichoke and can I just say it is amazing!  Truly!   I can’t say enough about how my mind was blown when I started researching the benefits and why artichokes might be the best superfood on the planet!

For starters,  did you know that the antioxidant value in one cup of artichoke hearts is nearly the equivalent of  1 cup of blueberries plus an 8-ounce cup of orange juice combined?! Not to mention it is double the fiber of 1 cup of cooked broccoli and 25% higher in fiber than a cup of prunes! But wait, there’s more;  artichokes provide 12% of our daily requirement of vitamin k, they also contain phytonutrients and compounds that fight and neutralize free radicals. The list goes on and on…

http://www.oceanmist.com/artichokes/12-unexpected-artichoke-health-benefits/

So when was the last time you ate an artichoke heart and why didn’t we know this? Clearly, pom wonderful and blueberries have a better marketing team because for the longest I thought they were The power food with the highest amount of antioxidants.  #mindblown

Now comes the hard part.  What do I do with an artichoke? How do I cook artichokes and start incorporating them into my diet?  Easy!  Check out some of my favorite recipes below for preparing this superfood at home fresh or out of the jar! And check out my video below on grilling artichokes with a Ceasar style dipping sauce.

 

artichoke benefits

Artichoke & Leek Soup

  • 2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
  • 2 leeks- tops removed, washed well and chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cans (8 ounce) artichoke hearts, drained
  • 2-3 quarts of chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can of coconut cream
  • 1 TBSP Turmeric
  • 1 lemon juiced or 1 Tablespoon organic bottled lemon juice
  • Pinch of Cayenne
  • Chives for garnish

Heat the oil in a stock pot or large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the leeks and garlic and stir.  Add the artichokes, stock, salt, turmeric, and pepper and cook until vegetables are tender about 15 minutes.

Using a handheld immersion blender, puree the soup.  Add the coconut cream, lemon juice, cayenne and re-season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into serving bowls. Garnish with chopped chives and a pinch of cayenne or paprika.

Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup artichoke hearts
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1/2 bunch of green onions finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoon mayonnaise or substitute with greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 TBSP Sambal Oleek – (Red Chili Paste)
  • Splash of lemon juice
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Hot sauce to taste

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until combined. Once all ingredients are combined serve fresh with toasted pita chips or place in a baking dish and bake at 375° for 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese on top

Grilled Artichokes 

grilled artichoke

  • Four large artichokes
  • 2 lemons halved
  • Fresh dill for garnish
To prepare the artichokes bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the lemon to a large bowl of water and working with one artichoke at a time, trim the outer leaves, cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the choke.  Place in lemon water to prevent browning while trimming the remaining artichokes.
Cook the artichokes in the pot of boiling water for 15 minutes or until almost tender but not falling apart. Drain.
Heat a grill pan on a high heat.  Brush the artichokes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill the cut side down until charred in spots for about 5 min.  Serve with dipping sauce and enjoy leaf by leaf.
Caesar style dipping sauce 
  • 1 can of coconut cream
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp anchovy paste
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp red pepper flake
    Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.
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Low-Carb Cauli Fried “Rice”

 

 

It’s of course that time of year, where we are all struggling to keep from breaking those new years resolutions,  hoping to lose a few more lbs and shred that winter weight.  I am a firm believer in watching carbs, primarily I say carbs and refer to wheat and grains.  Over the course of the last couple of years, I have slowly merged to a gluten free lifestyle and have eliminated pasta, bread and a lot of grains from my routine.  To be honest, I don’t miss it (that much).  Let’s be really honest, there are those days no substitutions will suffice for good ole’ southern biscuits and gravy BUT, I try live by the motto progress not perfection. #afreshhotmess

 There are so many options available now and fairly easy substitutions.  Take my fried cauli rice recipe for instance,  I have a nine year old and she can’t tell the difference between cauli-rice or white rice in this dish.  It is flavorful, full of veggies and Asian flavors and is delicious!

Not only does replacing white rice (a nutrient-poor refined grain) with cauliflower drastically cut the amount of simple carbs you would be taking in, it adds tons of beneficial nutrients as well. Cauliflower is chock-full of fiber (about 3 grams per cup), which aids with digestion, helps fill you up and keep your belly full longer, and could help lower your cholesterol. Looking to boost your immunity? A one-cup serving of cauliflower provides  nearly 77% of your day’s recommended vitamin C intake. It is also a good source of B vitamins and vitamin K.

A 1-cup serving of cooked cauliflower rice contains a mere 29 calories (23 calories per every 100 grams) and 7.5 grams of carbs. If you compare that to an equal-sized portion of white rice, you will discover that 1 cup of cooked white rice contains 242 calories and (130 calories per every 100 grams) and 53 grams of carbs. That is a huge difference!

Enjoy my delicious recipe for Fried Cauli “Rice” and Share your dishes with me on instagram at @afreshhotmess! Cheers!

fried-cauli-rice

Cauliflower FriedRice
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 medium head cauliflower (6 to 7 cups florets) or 1 bag of riced cauliflower
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 1 nob ginger (1 tablespoon minced)
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups frozen shelled edamame or frozen peas
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire’s sauce (soy free) or coconut aminos
  • 1 bunch of cilantro chopped
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 lime juiced or rice vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoon fish sauce
  • ¼ cup cashews, for garnish (optional)
Directions
  1.  If you can not find the already riced cauliflower in the bag. Chop the cauliflower into large florets. Place half of the florets into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until fully chopped and the cauliflower resembles grains of rice. Remove the “rice” to a bowl and process the remainder of the cauliflower.
  2. Peel carrots, then chop them into small cubes. Thinly slice the celery stalks. Peel and mince 2 cloves garlic. Peel 1 nob ginger, then mince enough for 1 tablespoon. Thinly slice 2 green onions.
  3. Melt 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a large frying pan, then add eggs and scramble them, breaking them into small pieces. Remove the eggs from the pan and set aside.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil; add garlic and ginger and saute, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add veggies and saute for 2 minutes. Add cauliflower rice and 2 cups shelled edamame (or peas) and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons sesame oil, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, and fish sauce along with the cooked egg and stir until fully combined.  Remove from heat and stir in the green onions and cilantro. Serve topped with cashews.

Chef Notes:  We like things a bit spicy in our house, so I like to top with a little Sriracha drizzle over the top of my bowl.  Also for a complete dinner you can top with grilled shrimp, seared chicken thighs, mix in ground beef, and so on and so forth.

 

Eat it up!

For The Love of Fruitcake!

For the Love of Fruitcake!

Let’s talk fruitcake, seriously?  If you are an American, you are probably rolling your eyes. If you are from nearly anywhere else in the world, your mouth may be watering from memories of this delicious holiday treat or dense and sweet wedding cake. Fruitcake is a very popular dessert throughout  across the globe, but here in the good old U S of A, the humble fruitcake gets a bit of a “bad Santa” rap.

Johnny Carson joked that there was only one single fruitcake in the whole entire world, and people just kept passing it around as a gift. In Manitou Springs, Colorado there is a yearly fruitcake toss for crying out loud. We’ve even been known to call dear aunt Betsy a “fruit cake” now and then. Well, I think it’s high time to restore the historic fruitcake’s reputation with my family recipe! This one I promise won’t be re-gifted or left for “ring-toss” because it’s just too good!

Enjoy and Happy Holidays! May your time with family and friends be blessed!

 

img_1765

Raw Apple Fruit Cake

Ingredients:

2 cups white sugar
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 ½ cup veg oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups coconut
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup chopped pecans
3 cup chopped apples
(granny smith or another cooking apple)
2 cup chopped orange slice candy

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.   Grease a Bundt cake pan or fruit cake pan and set aside.

In a mixing bowl with paddle attachment, cream together sugar and oil.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.  Combine flour, cinnamon, salt and soda in separate bowl.  Hand stir gradually to egg mixture.  It will be thick like cookie dough.  Stir in apples first, thin coconut, dates and nuts.  Add chopped candy last and fold in thoroughly.  Batter is extremely thick.  Pour into a greased and floured pan.

Bake for 1 ½ hours or until brown and knife inserted comes clean.

*Note: This can also be baked in small loaf pans for gifts.

Tip:
Use a floured sharp knife when cutting sticky orange slice candy.  Candy should be cut up to bite size pieces.  You can also decorate the top of the cake with candy cherries and make candy leafs.

Can’t Beet This Salad! It’s Too Good To Beet-true!

Happy Monday Gang!  I’m still truckin on this fitness journey and six-week #fasterwaytofatloss boot-camp.  This morning began day one of week two in this carb cycling, intermittent fasting, HIIT training (still not sure what that means but ok?), heavy lifting, speed burst training, and  insulin manipulation cycle…thanks to the fitness gem and mastermind @amandatress. “HELP ME!”  Just kidding!  I actually feel great, I notice I  already have more energy, I am getting the workouts completed in the morning (and I AM NOT a morning person), I have zero hunger pains, cravings, and I  think I am losing weight. (part of this boot camp is to not weigh or measure until the end) I whisper this mantra daily….”Progress not Perfection!” but boy, will I be stoked at the end of this six-week journey if I have shed those lbs and lost inches!

It is November 14th and I just had a moment today realizing that Thanksgiving is nearly a week away! November is notoriously known for pilgrims, Tom turkey, and pumpkin pie but did you also know it is American Diabetes month? One of my best friends was recently diagnosed with type-1 diabetes and several of my family members are type two.  I wanted to share with you a recipe that has not only been great and filling for my fitness journey but is also beneficial for anyone with diabetes.

It is the peak of beet season here  in Bluegrass and I love heading to our local coop and seeing all the varieties and vibrant colors of beets. What better salad to enjoy the cool breeze and rust orange leaves than this Roasted Beet salad.  Beets are highly nutritious and are a diabetes-friendly root vegetable.  Certain unique pigment antioxidants in the root as well as in its top greens have found to offer protection against coronary artery disease and stroke; lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels within the body, and have anti-aging effects. Beets are low in calories, containing just 43 calories per 100-gram serving. They are high in levels of antioxidants which mop up damaging molecules called free radicals that can harm blood vessels. They are also high in phytonutrients called betalains, which help reduce inflammation. They also contain no cholesterol and very small amounts of fat.

And for those of you working on those macros…Each 100 gram serving of raw beet contains:

  • 9.96 grams of carbohydrates, made up of 7.96 grams of sugar and 2.0 grams of dietary fiber
  • 1.68 grams of protein

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese, Walnuts, Apple Slices, and Honey White Wine Vinaigrette 

Serves 4-6

For the Beets

  • 1 bunch medium beets (about 3)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Salad

  • 10 ounces mixed greens (I like a blend of frisee, radicchio and mesclun)
  • 3 ounces goat cheese
  • ½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (I also prefer them toasted for more flavor)
  • 1 granny smith apples, cored and sliced 

For the Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1½ tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar 
  • 1½ tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1½ tablespoons minced garlic 
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons avocado oil

Directions

For the beets:
Preheat oven to 425°F.  Wipe or scrub beets clean then trim stems down to one-inch (leave “tails” on). Place beets on a large piece of foil; drizzle with olive oil, then wrap foil around them to form a neat packet. Roast directly on rack in middle of the oven until tender, about 45 min-1 hour. Test for doneness by piercing the largest beet with a knife. If it enters easily, it’s done. Unwrap beets and let sit until cool enough to handle. Use your hands or a paring knife to peel skin, then cut into ½-inch dice (I usually do this right on the aluminum foil but you can also use a stain-proof cutting board or plate). Set aside.

For the vinaigrette: 
In a small bowl, whisk together the honey,  mustard, red wine vinegar, shallots, garlic, salt and pepper, and a pinch of sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly add the oil in a steady stream. (Alternatively, add all your ingredients to a jar, cover with lid, and shake vigorously to blend.) Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

For the salad: 
Place the greens in a large bowl, drizzle with about half of the vinaigrette and toss to combine. Add as much of the remaining vinaigrette as desired and toss again. Divide greens onto plates, then sprinkle with beets, walnuts, green apple slices, and goat cheese. (The reason you don’t just mix it all together in a salad bowl is that the beets would cause the whole salad to turn pink.) Serve immediately.

 

Enjoy!

 

Maximizing Macros and I Still Eat Bread!

Today is day four of the #fasterwaytofatloss boot camp and I am loving it! I must say, @amandatress you are an amazing inspiration! Being a female entrepreneur myself, and having listened to her this week has provided me helpful insights and encouragement for the struggles I face daily!

For the fist two days of this program we focused on low carbs in order to deplete our glycogen stores combined with intermittent fasting to maximize our fat burning hours. #keto  Day one and day two workouts were just sprints, which burns additional fat stores for the best results.  Yesterday was a heavy lifting day (arms) and today was another heavy lifting day focused on legs.

To say I felt a little soreness when I got out of bed this morning is an understatement, and my legs are already like jello from this morning’s workout. If I even get near a stairwell or squat on the pot, I think they might actually give out.  LOL! (picture this; woman knocked unconscious in the bathroom as her legs gave out and she busted her head on the toilet)  I just have to laugh at myself and remember I got into this mess because I haven’t worked out in six months! “Positive changes, one day at a time!”

Since yesterday and today are ‘heavy-lifting’ days, I am granted a little more flexibility in the carbs arena.  Low-carb days are under 50 net carbs, however, yesterday and today are more about the macro percentage and the extra carbs are OK.

What exactly are macros?  

Macronutrients are the caloric content found in food.  Sometimes referred to as “macros,” the three categories are carbohydrates, fat, and protein. The caloric combination of the macros is where that mysterious total number of calories comes from. Here’s the breakdown:

  • 1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories
  • 1 gram of fat = 9 calories
  • 1 gram of protein = 4 calories

So it’s not about how many calories are in your food, but what kind of calories are in your food.

Simply put, strict calorie setting can be deceiving; you could be staying within your calorie count for the day but eating total crap.  I can’t count how many times I have seen people come into my shop and we start talking about their ailments, lack of energy, focus, fatigue, and their inability to lose weight. Then once we actually start looking at what they are consuming, (ie. cereal bars, fat-free ready meals, plus all those items that appear to be healthy and are full of artificial flavors, preservatives, additives,) it’s no wonder they feel like total shit.

How do you track macros?  

I am currently using the My Fitness Pal app which is addicting!  It helps me keep a food diary, and it has everything (all the way to Trader Joe’s cookie butter)  programmed and will give you the calorie count, macro breakdown, etc.  You can also scan barcodes through the app, adjust your serving size, and create your own recipes to get an accurate breakdown of what you are putting in your body. (and that’s just the beginning)

What are the benefits of ditching the calorie counting method?

For starters, you can indulge with a little less guilt. “Eat for crying out loud, and eat what you want!” Fit them into your macro allowances, and don’t just stick to ‘boring foods’ or you’ll burn-out and then binge. When you’re eating a balanced diet, the cravings go away, because you’re no longer deficient in anything. This balance will give you more energy, better workouts, and better results.

Feeling better, working out better, killing cravings, and treating yourself to the foods you love? Sounds too good to be true right? Well, stay with me through this six-week journey and we will prove this method to be either true or false.

What is the best ratio of macros for a typical day? 

With the #fasterwaytofatloss boot camp, I focus my macro ratio at 50% carbs, 30% fat, and 20% protein.   I tend to be a little higher in the fat% intake because I am used to eating keto and paleo and therefore consume more coconut, avocados, nuts, etc.  So my percentage of fat may be slightly higher but my trans fats are always 0.

I am currently in a closed boot-camp facebook group where we send our macro counts each day to have that accountability and support.  I have seen across the board that you honestly have to push yourself to eat and keep eating to reach the right carbs and macro counts for the day. You just feel full and aren’t super hungry.  Amanda even encouraged us to enjoy a doughnut today since we had a heavy leg day. “It’s all about progress, not perfection!” (mind-blown) This may sound weird, but when you are eating the right foods (primarily gluten, dairy, and soy free) you will have that full sensation, not be ‘hangry’ or have cravings.  It has been eye-opening and freeing, to say the least!

Alrighty then,  I say that is enough info for one day!  Y’all know I couldn’t leave you without a recipe and this one is a good one! Not just that it tastes good but it is really good for you, and the macros on this bad-boy are fantastic!  You noticed the title of this post says “I can still eat bread!” and just like Oprah, who doesn’t love bread? I am remaining gluten free, meeting my macro goals, and  I can still have bread!

Please enjoy this delicious recipe for my QUICK & EASY ten minute English Muffins topped with guacamole and salmon salad.  It is the perfect start to the day (even if you don’t break your fast until noon).

Gluten Free English Muffins topped with Guacamole and Salmon Salad 

Yield: makes 4-6 muffins img_1693

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 6 tsp coconut flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 TBSP Nutritional Yeast  (optional, but gives it a cheesy flavor)
  • Pinch of Paprika, garlic, and dried basil ( add red pepper flake if you like a little spice)
  • 2 TBSP of coconut oil for searing edges

Directions

Whisk eggs, coconut flour, baking soda, salt, nutritional yeast and spices in a medium bowl vigorously until well combined.   Pour contents of egg mixture into a greased or non-stick muffin pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes  or until they have risen and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Once the muffins are cool enough to handle, slice in half. Preheat a non-stick or stainless steel saute pan with 2 TBSP of coconut oil on a medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, place the muffins in the pan cut side down and allow the edges to sear and crisp.  Remove and serve immediately.

Calories per muffin  Fat- 16.7g     Protein- 6.7g    Carbs – 3.3 g  Fiber – 2 g

You could top this with anything….bacon and eggs, smoked salmon and goat cheese, sliced ham and honey dijon.

I topped mine with a TBSP  of Avocado’s number Guacamole from Trader Joe’s   on each half (total count of 3) and whipped up a quick salmon salad by using a 1/2 can of Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon, mixed with fresh dill (1/2 a bunch), 2 Tbsp capers, and about a 1/4 of a red onion sliced. Mix together in a bowl and serve on top of the guacamole on the seared English muffins.

Beats the heck out of  bagels & lox any day and it’s guilt free! 

 Thanks to My Fitness Pal app, I also can give you the macro breakdown of this dish!

Total Nutrition per serving as shown in the picture (3 halves) is as follows:

Fat= 21.4g    Protein= 21.8g   Carbs= 17.7g   Fiber=10.5g

Macro Percentage: 25% carbs / 50% fat / and 25% protein   (remember this is not a daily macro percentage just this dish and it’s very high in fiber!)

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boot Camp & Broccoli “Cheese” Dairy-Free Soup

My last post was all about guilty indulgences(#cinnamonandhoneycremebrulee) and boy did I ever satisfy my sweet tooth last week! (Halloween candy hangover) I knew if I didn’t get it out of my system, I would have little success with the boot camp I started today. (yes, I started yet another boot camp & fingers crossed I will see it through to the end) Stay tuned for my random rants throughout the next six weeks as I continue to post and blog about my fitness and nutrition journey as I follow the guidance of fitness trainer/mogul and digital marketing consultant @AmandaTress with her #FASTerwaytoFatLoss program.   I have had several friends complete this program and their results were amazing!  I mean these women (unlike myself) have had a serious and consistent workout regimen in place and have lost inches and toned up by working out less!  This program is proving what I have always believed to be true.  Weight loss and body composition is  80% nutrition and 20% fitness.  What you put in your body affects everything else from your overall health to how well you fit in “dem” jeans, no matter how hard you workout.

Day one of boot camp (can you see how happy I am?)

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I focused on low net carbs.  (Total Daily Carbs – Fiber = net carbs).

Another key factor in this boot camp is known as intermittent fasting.  Not a full day fast by any means (no chance in hell I’m doing that)  but planning your meals and food intake during a 6-8 hour window (i.e. Noon-7pm).  I am pretty familiar with this concept because I have also been following the ketogenic diet prior to this program and just finished Quick and Easy Ketogenic Cooking by Maria Emmerich where she also highlights the fasting periods to greater weight loss.  The idea is since you have low glycogen stores, your body will use ketones and body fat for energy instead of glycogen. Combine this with a cardio workout in the morning and your sure to be burning those fat stores! (let’s hope it hits my thigh fat stores first!)

So today, I fasted until 12:30 and then had to come up with a low carb solution to satisfy my hunger and quickly!  I am not only trying to run a business, answer phones and emails, cater to customers that pop into the shop; I am now trying to log all my food and exercise intake into my fitness pal app, monitor my macros for the day, and cook for other people while refraining from snacking.  (WTF was I thinking?)   So I made a quick and easy Broccoli Cheese or rather “Nooch” soup. Most of you are thinking, what the heck is Nooch…but if you are “in the know” or have some vegan friends you may have heard this term used before for nutritional yeast.  Now before you skip on to the next recipe you MUST trust me when I say this stuff is amazing (coming from a cheese lover) and it tastes just like cheese!

This soup is super easy to make, takes less than 15 minutes, only has six ingredients, and is damn good too!  Enjoy!

broccoli-soup

Creamy Broccoli “Cheese/Nooch” Soup 

  • 2 Broccoli Crowns -cut into small florets
  • 1 onion -small diced
  • 5 garlic cloves -minced
  • 1 can of coconut milk or coconut cream
  • 24 oz of beef bone broth (or organic beef broth)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (I prefer Braggs brand)

In a medium stock pot heat 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil or olive oil on a high heat.  Add the onions and saute for two-three minutes. Add in the garlic and continue to stir until fragrant. Add in the broccoli and saute for another three-five minute on medium to high heat.  Add the broth and turn heat to medium and continue to cook for another five minutes. In a separate bowl whisk the coconut cream and nutritional yeast together and season with salt and pepper.  Pour in the “Cheese” or “Nooch” mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.  Taste and adjust with salt and pepper to taste.  This soup can be served chunky with bits of broccoli or pureed by using an immersion blender to blend the soup to a creamy smooth consistency.

 

 

 

 

 

Inevitable Indulgence

In the fall months when the leaves are falling, and you feel that nip in the air, my sweet tooth automatically kicks in (not to mention my house is full of Halloween candy) and I  just want to bake something decadent, look out at my backyard and indulge! (and most likely paired with a glass of bourbon on my side table)

I am already getting calls for catering holiday parties and it hit me that we have less than seventy five days until Christmas! (It truly is mind boggling…where does the time go?) Do you know the best and worst part about the end of the year? The holidays, the food, and the waistline! (You know exactly what I am talking about.) All the get-togethers, casseroles, candies and calories leading to the same old New Year’s resolutions to drop the 15 pounds you picked up over the holiday season and start all over again in 2017.Bah Humbug!
I say forget about it…life is too short and an indulgence now and then is what life is all about, right? So before we get to the holiday season and start having to make those life altering decisions to put down the fudge and divinity, or say no to eggnog and apple cider, I say I N D U L G E and feel zero shame with this heavenly Cinnamon & Cayenne Honey Crème Brûlée. It hits all the marks and is elegant yet simple to make.

One of my favorite foodie quotes recently is “Seize the moment, remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.” Erma Bombeck. I say, “Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed but today we have Crème Brûlée.”

Enjoy!

tasteofthyme-octoberindulgence
Cinnamon & Cayenne Crème Brûlée:  makes eight (8) 4- to 6-ounce servings
Ingredients
½ cup fresh peeled ginger, coarsely chopped
½ tablespoon of
vanilla extract
4 cups of heavy
whipping cream
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons
wildflower honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of
cayenne pepper
12 egg yolks
Preparation
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Place the ramekins for the Crème Brûlée in a deep baking pan, making sure the ramekins do not touch each other.
Using a garlic press, press the chopped ginger into a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Collect the ginger juice and the fibrous pieces into the saucepan, along with the pressed ginger. Add the heavy cream. Add the vanilla. Place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand to infuse for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Place the egg yolks into a medium bowl, add the honey and whisk to combine. Add the sugar and whisk vigorously for about 3 or 4 minutes until the sugar is melted and incorporated. The mixture should be thick and pale yellow, with ribbons of the mixture falling from the whisk when lifted. Add the cinnamon and cayenne pepper.
Gradually whisk in the cream mixture, tempering the egg, honey and sugar mixture if the cream and ginger are still hot. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl, pressing on the ginger to release all the liquid. Discard the ginger solids. Rap the bowl with the cream and egg mixture on the counter to release any air that was incorporated into the mixture during whisking.
Using a ladle, pour the mixture into the ramekins filling each about ¼” from the top. Skim off any foam that forms on the surface.
Pour hot water into the baking pan so that it reaches about half-way up the side of the ramekins. Bake until the custards are firm, but the centers are still a bit loose, about 50 to 55 minutes.
Remove from the baking pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Torching Tips
Sprinkle a light layer of brown sugar over the surface of each Crème Brûlée. Using a culinary torch, caramelize the sugar. As an alternative, place the ramekins on a baking sheet and place under a broiler. Watch carefully to avoid burning the sugar. Also note the oven should not be hot, only the broiler should be hot: otherwise you may end up with a liquid custard. The tops should caramelize in 1½ to 2 minutes. Serve immediately, or return to the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Making CrèmeBrûlée ahead of time is great when you plan enough in advance. If you find yourself trying to prepare these the afternoon of your party, try this quick cool down trick: once you remove the Crème Brûlées from the oven, place them on a wire rack in a cool area of the house for about one-half hour. Loosely cover the ramekins with cling film and place in a roasting pan filled with ice. Place in the freezer for about 45 minutes. Remove from the freezer, pull the cling film tight and hold in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Your custard will be set and cool enough to take the heat of the broiler without melting the custard.

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