Monthly Archives: June 2012

Chicken and Strawberry Salad

I have always loved this recipe for Strawberry and Chicken Salad ever since I first saw it in the May 2009 edition of Cooking Light magazine. When I picked up our half-share of our local farm’s community-supported agriculture (CSA) program and found that it included both a quart of native strawberries and a head of romaine lettuce, SensitiveHusband and I knew what we were having for dinner!

We made a few changes to remove the yeast and sugar from this meal. In the dressing, we replaced the sugar with agave nectar and the red wine vinegar with fresh lemon juice. Instead of using a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, which is convenient yet typically has sugar and other preservatives injected under the skin, we sautéed some chicken tenderloins with olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh parsley and basil. You may notice that there is a slice of crusty bread on my plate. Hooray! I found a baguette made by Against the Grain that is free from gluten, yeast and sugar. The taste is pretty good and rounded out our meal nicely.

Our dinner was delicious. The blend of salad, chicken, and dressing was light and refreshing. I enjoyed the baguette warmed with butter. The leftovers made a great sandwich the next day.

Ingredients
Dressing:
2 tablespoons agave nectar
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salad:
4 cups torn romaine lettuce
4 cups arugula
2 cups quartered strawberries
12 ounces skinless, boneless sauteed chicken tenderloins
2 tablespoons unsalted cashews or peanuts
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled gorgonzola cheese

Preparation
1. To prepare dressing, combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Gradually drizzle in oil, stirring constantly with a whisk.
2. To prepare salad, combine romaine and next 4 ingredients (through chicken) in a bowl; toss gently. Place about 2 cups chicken mixture on each of 4 plates. Top each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons cashews and 2 tablespoons cheese. Drizzle about 4 teaspoons dressing over each serving.

P.S. If you haven’t already done so, please take the two-click poll on my home page. The question is to choose your favorite dessert flavor. Happy choosing!

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday and Carole’s Chatter.

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Naturally Sweetened Nut Butter Cookies

Peanut butter cookies are tasty, especially ones that combine a satisfying crunch with chewiness. You may ask, “how can that be done?” Well, my friends, you can have a chewy cookie with a satisfying crunch if you add toasted oats and nuts to a cookie batter. I was inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe for Nutty Butter Cookies. I decided to reduce the amount of butter used, so I substituted with some unsweetened applesauce. I also substituted the refined sugar with a combination of maple syrup and honey. For my nut butter, I selected peanut, although I think almond butter would work really well too. Fortunately this recipe does not call for much nut butter, since the prices of nut butters have increased substantially during the first half of this year. I hope that you enjoy this recipe! And if you have not yet done so, please visit my home page to vote for your favorite dessert flavor. Are you a chocoholic? Or do you prefer plain vanilla? Perhaps a refreshing mint or zesty lemon? Just click the button for your choice and click “vote” – and then you will see the results so far. Thanks for participating! Enjoy your day, and your cookies.

Ingredients
1 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Coarse salt
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup honey
1 large egg
1/2 cup nut butter
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Directions
Melt 1/2 stick butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add oats and cook, stirring, until toasted, 5 to 7 minutes. Spread oat mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet; let cool.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt. Beat together remaining 1/2 stick butter, applesauce, maple syrup and honey with a mixer on medium-high speed until fully combined. Add egg and beat until combined. Add nut butter, and beat on medium speed until well combined.

Add oat mixture and chopped nuts, and beat on low speed until combined. Add flour mixture, and beat until combined.

Place cookies, about a teaspoonful each, 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes.

I am sharing my recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Food Trip Friday, Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cooking and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

He Can Enjoy His Flourless Chocolate Cake and I Can Eat it Too!

This past week we enjoyed celebrating SensitiveHusband’s birthday. We had a wonderful time going out to dinner with family, taking a day off from work, giving gifts, and making a special birthday cake. My husband enjoys cakes that ooze with gooey, fudgy, chocolatey goodness – and I decided that creating a flourless chocolate cake would meet all of his favorite criteria (plus, I would really like it too). I started with a recipe that was originally developed by Gourment Magazine in November 1997 and revised by the Baking Bites blog last year. I liked this recipe because it only required six ingredients that already resided in my pantry and a double boiler was not needed. It looked like it would be relatively simple to remove the cane sugar. In fact, this cake was relatively easy to create. Top with fresh whipped cream and fruit, or just eat plain. It is delicious cold, at room temperature, and warmed, and it also freezes well. SensitiveHusband noted, “it was rich, delicious and decadent – it was a wonderful birthday cake.” Goal accomplished – he had his birthday cake and I enjoyed it too!

Ingredients:

4-oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (Endangered Species has a brand that is gluten and cane sugar free)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup agave nectar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375F. Line an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper and lightly grease.

In a small saucepan, melt together chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until very smooth.
Pour warm chocolate mixture into a medium mixing bowl with agave nectar. Whisk to combine. Beat in eggs one at a time, waiting until each has been fully incorporated to add the next, then mix in vanilla extract. Add cocoa powder into the bowl and whisk until well-combined.

Pour into prepared cake pan. Bake for 25 minutes.

Allow cake to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the cake and invert onto a serving platter. Dust with cocoa powder, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 8-10.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday, Cybele Pascal Allergen Free Cuisine, Simple Living with Diane Balch and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

Thank you, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, for featuring my recipe!

Roasted Lemon Asparagus with Pancetta

Need a quick vegetable for tonight’s dinner? This recipe uses asparagus, which is in season at this time of year. I concocted this dish with a few things I found in my kitchen.

Ingredients:
1 bunch asparagus
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 lb pancetta (about 4-5 slices)
Pepper

Preparation:
Slice or rip the pancetta into bite-sized pieces. After washing the asparagus, toss the first five ingredients together and line the asparagus in a glass pan. Sprinkle with pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 15 minutes. Asparagus will be tender and pancetta will be crispy. Once out of the oven, sprinkle with asiago cheese if desired. Enjoy!

I am sharing my recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Food Trip Friday, Simple Living with Diane Balch and Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cuisine.

Breaking News: Dessert Poll Results, Bite Taken out of Cookie Price Index, Favorite Flavor Survey

Happy June everyone! Or perhaps not so happy after yesterday’s unexpected jobs report from the U.S. Department of Labor. Analysts were disappointed to see that only 69,000 jobs were created nationwide in the month of May and the unemployment rate rose to 8.2%. This information shows that the nation’s economy continues to recover ever so slowly from the recession that ended more than two years ago.

However, there is a glimmer of hope, particularly for economists who also like to bake cookies. I just calculated the 2012 Q2 SensitiveEconomist Cookie Price Index, which shows a drop of 17% from the previous quarter. Thanks to decreases in the prices for organic whole wheat flour, agave nectar, and grain sweetened chocolate chips, the price to bake a batch of my chocolate chip cookies declined from $13.37 to $11.40. The only ingredient that saw an increase in price (of 4%) was the local honey.

This price index result is running contrary to the latest U.S. consumer price food index, which saw a 0.2% increase in March. However, if we take a deeper look at the components of the U.S. index, there are similarities. The U.S. index saw prices for fruits and vegetables, cereals, nonalcoholic beverages, meats and eggs, and other miscellaneous items all increase – yet those foods (except for the eggs) are not included in the recipe for the chocolate chip cookies. The U.S. food index component that saw a decrease was dairy – which is included in my recipe as butter. The U.S. index does not track the prices of many organic or natural ingredients like agave nectar – so that is why the indices diverge.

Speaking of cookies…thanks to everyone who participated in my dessert poll, either at the CTVegFest or online. I tallied the 54 responses and have declared that Ice Cream is the favored dessert of the respondents, garnering 25% of the votes. This was followed by Cookies with 19%, Brownies with 15%, and Pie with 13%. For all of you ice cream lovers, there are two good recipes on this blog: one that requires an ice cream maker (Peach Ice Cream) and one that does not (Banana Chocolate “Ice Cream”). These are great to try as summer gets into full swing.

Now it is time for a new survey question: what is your favorite dessert flavor? Please participate by visiting my blog’s home page, clicking on your favorite dessert flavor, and clicking “vote.” Is chocolate really the king of dessert flavors? Or will strawberry, mint, or another fine flavor win in the end? I look forward to seeing what emerges from the data.