Pumpkin Bread

pumpkin-bread
Quick breads are fabulous. They really are. They’re simple, delicious, and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, snack, or (depending on how much chocolate you add) dessert. They’re easy to make, hard to mess up, and everyone always wants a slice regardless of whether or not you decide to put in chocolate chips. What I really like is how versatile they are. You can swap out the pureed pumpkin for mashed bananas, applesauce, or grated zucchini or just about anything else that suits your fancy and can be mashed or pureed. This particular rendition stays super moist and is flavored with just enough vanilla, cinnamon, and sugar to make it especially delicious.
Pumpkin Bread
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1 cup white rice flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips, optional
Combine pureed pumpkin and sugar in a large bowl. Use a fork and stir well. Add remaining ingredients. Stir until combined with no lumps and everything is a pretty, uniform, pale orange color.
Let batter rest for 30 minutes. Don’t skip this step. It’s important for the texture of your bread.
Once rested, pour batter into a prepared (i.e.greased and floured) loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean when bread is done. Enjoy whenever, but hide it from your kids if you want to enjoy it for more than one day!

White Bean and Avocado Dip

whitebean.avo.dip
We spent last Friday evening at our community pool. We all bring food to share, the kids have free reign of the pool and hot tub and can pretty much do as they please as long as they don’t run – seriously, running on wet pool decks is so insanely dangerous, why do they all do it? Even after they slip and fall or see one of their friends slip and fall, still they run. Did we so flagrantly disregard this no-running-on-pool-decks-rule when we were children? No. We inherently knew the dangers of slippery concrete. We were walkers, all. (Just kidding, honestly, we would have raced around that pool at full speed and then found a way to the top of the gazebos seeing who could make the 8-foot jump into the deep end. I’m still shocked I haven’t seen anyone attempt it yet. How have they not tried that yet? It’s right there!)
In any case, we all eat and talk and tell the kids to stop running and it’s great fun and a wonderful way to spend an almost-summer Friday night. I wanted to bring something with avocados because I had some that were on the edge, but didn’t want to bring guacamole, which, while delicious, is something we eat a lot of because we are lucky. So, with a pantry full of white beans and a fully ripe avocado, this is what I chose to bring. It was a good choice (unlike the choice to jump off of the top of a gazebo into a pool, which I am certain someone I know will do in the coming years and which I will scold him for as if I never, never!, had the idea myself and wondered what took him so long to try!).
White Bean and Avocado Dip
1 15oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/4 cup diced cucumber (about 1/2 a large cucumber)
1/3 cup diced red onion
1 large avocado, diced
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
Spicy Pink Sauce
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar*
1-2 teaspoons Sriracha hot sauce
1-2 teaspoons Cholula hot sauce
* Champagne vinegar is fine too, or you can leave out the vinegar altogether. It’s not dire. Mostly just don’t use balsamic. That would taste weird.
In a large salad bowl, add drained beans, cucumber, red onion, and avocado. Add a squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper to taste.
In a small dish, make your Spicy Pink Sauce. Add all ingredients and mix well with a fork or mini whisk.
Pour Spicy Pink Sauce over the salad and toss well. Have a taste and adjust salt, pepper, and spicy levels to your own liking.
Garnish with extra diced red onion and serve with tortilla chips.
P.S. – Spicy Pink Sauce is great on all sorts of things. I’ll do a post on it soon detailing all the wonderful things you can put it on.

 

Spicy Jicama and Mango Slaw

jicama.mango

I recently introduced my kids to jicama. One liked it and repeatedly asked for more, one (barely) tolerated it dipped generously in hummus. Me, I like it. It occupies the same space as celery for me – basically crunchy water – but in a pleasant way. I thought it might make a nice base for a little slaw – a little sweet mango, a little tart lime juice, a few spicy spices, and of course, some crunchy water.

Spicy Jicama and Mango Slaw
(serves 8 with leftovers)
4 cups (about 1/2 a whole jicama) jicama, cut into matchsticks
3 cups (about 2 mangos) mango, cut into matchsticks
Cayenne pepper, for garnish

Dressing
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1-2 large limes)
1 teaspoon Cholula hot sauce
Dash salt

Combine cut jicama and mango in a large, pretty bowl.

In a small bowl, combine lime juice, hot sauce, and salt. Mix well.

Pour dressing over jicama mixture and toss well. Garnish with a sprinkling of cayenne pepper. I find that the best way to garnish this salad is to sprinkle a bit of cayenne into your palm, them rub them together over the salad. This breaks down any larger chunks of the pepper and also saves you from accidentally dumping in too much. You just want a little red dusting over the top for effect, not an eye-watering spice-fest.

 

P.S. – Have you watched that video on how to use a glass to peel a mango? It’s life changing.

Zucchini Fritters

zucchini.fritter

I have found, through personal experience, that when a child claims not to like a certain vegetable, there are ways around it not involving tense standoffs. For example, if there is a way to turn that vegetable into a delicious little fried patty, said child is likely to change his or her mind. Now, I tend not to divulge the ingredients of my “fritters” when serving them – curiously, when children know the tasty little things in front of them are made of zucchini they  suddenly remember their dislike, so I suggest you do the same unless you have one (or more) of those rare creatures that eat vegetables willingly. Luck be with you…

Zucchini Fritters

2 medium zucchini, shredded (about 2 cups)
3 tablespoons cauliflower rice (optional)
1 egg
3 tablespoons almond flour*
2 tablespoons tapioca flour*
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons olive oil, for frying
Lemon wedges, for garnish

*Both flours can easily be replaced with regular wheat flour. Use 4 tablespoons (total) wheat flour if replacing.

Roll shredded zucchini into a thin dishtowel and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. You can do this with paper towels, too, but they tend to tear so an old dishtowel will work better. Once you’ve removed as much moisture as possible, add zucchini to a large bowl.

Add cauliflower rice (if using), egg, flours, garlic, cheese, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to bowl and stir to combine.

Heat oil over medium heat in a large non-stick skillet. Working in batches, drop dollops of zucchini batter into hot oil using a large spoon. Use the back of the spoon to flatten the fritters into a pancake-like shape. Allow to cook, undisturbed, approximately 4-5 minutes per side.

Serve warm with lemon wedges. These little devils go very well with lamb chops and chicken, just don’t tell the zucchini haters in your circle what’s in them!

 

Cauliflower Rice

caul.rice.1There are endless ways to make cauliflower rice. The internet is absolutely bursting with recipes. Some recipes are intricate with hand-ground spices, others are simple and contain almost nothing more than the cauliflower itself. My preference is for this version with onion, carrots, garlic, and ginger because the end result doesn’t taste anything like cauliflower, which I don’t really like. If you like it, that’s totally fine. I won’t tell you you’re wrong, but I admit you’ll have to go to some length to prove to me you’re right.

In any case, this dish keeps the wonderful earthiness that really is the only redeeming quality of cauliflower and pairs it with the savory spirit of fresh ginger and garlic. Use it as a base for stir fry, fried rice, tacos, or this wonderful, homey meal that I eat as often as possible. I also hide cauliflower rice (minus the carrots) in my child’s regular rice. He gobbles it up and asks for more, something that would just never happen if I fed him cauliflower in its natural state. Welcome to the world of cauliflower rice – where trickery is rewarded!

Cauliflower Rice
1 medium head cauliflower
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1″ fresh ginger, diced (optional)
1/2 brown onion, thinly sliced
3 carrots, cut into thin disks
1/4 cup water (or broth)
Salt, pepper, and lemon to taste

Chop cauliflower into large florets, discarding the tough core. raw.caul.ricedWorking in batches, pulse the raw cauliflower in a food process until it resembles grains of rice.

Add oil, garlic, ginger (if using) to a large skillet over medium heat. Stir. When the oil starts sizzling, add onion and carrots. Saute until onion is soft and translucent and carrots are nicely browned, approximately 10 minutes.

Add riced cauliflower to skillet. Stir to combine. Saute approximately 10 minutes. Stir, taking care to scrape the bottom of the pan.

Add 1/4 cup water (or broth) and cover, letting vegetables steam approximately 5 minutes. Uncover, stir, scraping the pan, and combining vegetables well. Cook, covered, another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed.

caul.rice.2When the cauliflower is tender, add salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon to taste. Turn off the heat and use it as you would rice or any other grain.

PS – This makes quite a bit. Cooked cauliflower rice will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.