perfect little bites of your favorite ice cream and cake

Happy Birthday to The Recipe Redux! This month we are celebrating their first successful year of delicious and healthy recipes with “Small Bites to Celebrate a Big Event.” And this is definitely a BIG EVENT!

I decided to make a favorite two-in-one dessert: ice cream cake! And with the first day of summer, what better way to enjoy it than in cute, bite-sized portions? This dessert has only two ingredients, but you can have any flavor ice cream, frozen yogurt, cake, or even brownie that you want. Want a variety of flavors? I say go for it!

All you need is cake mix, frozen yogurt or ice cream, a jelly roll pan, a small round cookie cutter about 1 1/4″ in diameter, and some fresh fruit to garnish. Alternatively, you can layer the ice cream on the cake, freeze it, then cut into bite-sized pieces. Either way, it’ll be cool, delicious and very fun to eat!

Cherry Garcia Fro Yo and gluten-free chocolate cake


Ice Cream Cake Bites – using frozen yogurt and gluten-free cake recipe

One Bowl Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake recipe, slightly modified from original at food.com:

3 cups GF flour mix
1 1/2 tablespoons xanthan gum
1 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons instant espresso
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups coffee
ice cream or frozen yogurt of your choice
fruit and herbs to garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a jelly roll pan with nonstick cooking spray, set aside. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add all liquid ingredients, mix well. Bake  for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Using a round cookie cutter about 1 1/4″ in diameter, cut as many rounds as you need (you can make around 60-72 for one jelly roll sheet) and set aside on wax paper.

To assemble, place one cake round into cookie cutter. Scoop 1 heaping teaspoon of ice cream inside cookie cutter, place another cake round, banana slice, or strawberry slice inside cookie cutter and press down firmly, being careful not to squish the ice cream down the sides of the cake. Hold top down with index finger while unmolding. Place on wax sheet-lined plate, repeat with 4  more then transfer to freezer to firm up for at least 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy immediately!

No birthday is complete without cake and ice cream!

As the first and only recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians, The Recipe ReDux aims to inspire the food lover in every healthy eater and inspire the healthy eater in every food lover. Thank you for visiting. We hope you enjoy!

(Please note that this is a closed link-up for Recipe ReDux posts only. Any links added to this collection for non-ReDux posts will be deleted.) 

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“say it with flowers”

Peonies are one of my favorite flowers, and I only really got to see them in real life a couple of years ago when I picked up my beautiful wedding bouquet. Pink-hued roses, tulips and peonies made up this fragrant cluster which felt to me like five pounds worth of flowers! Since moving into our new home, we’ve been surprised with all kinds of flowers blooming around the property, including peonies.

Flowers aren’t the only things that have been thriving on our property (thank goodness!) My lettuce plants have successfully avoided the hungry rabbits and so far I harvested 5 heads. It was time to fill in the bald spots with some new plants, so I added some purple cabbage in between the kale (far left,) reddish-colored lettuce and a cucumber vine in the upper row, and planted a Roma tomato right next to the basket hanger (base of that skinny post in the bottom left corner):

Just the upper section with new plants was watered, we had lots of rain this week.

another 100 days and I’ll be eating home-grown purple cabbage!

Weeding and planting the new veggies made me kind of hungry, so I decided to make an Ultimate Salad for lunch! Although the only ingredient that came from my garden is the two types of lettuce, you gotta admit this salad definitely looks garden fresh! If all goes well, in a few months I should have another four ingredients from the garden: strawberries, tomatoes, cucumber and cabbage:

The ultimate salad with 14 fabulous ingredients: lettuce, cabbage, carrots, celery, cucumber, cauliflower, apples, grapes, strawberries, dates, tomatoes, avocado, sprouted  sunflower seeds and goat cheese.

My husband likes to have some meat with his meals, so I made him a protein-packed tuna fish-stuffed tomato with a cucumber rosette:

A simple and beautiful gluten-free alternative to a plain ol’ tuna fish sandwich

Earlier this week I received more goodies from my family. My mom made a beautiful drawstring bag from some very special fabric (I will post more on this on Monday!) and my Uncle Paul got me this incredible gourmet bag of peaberry Kona coffee (update 6/17: I initially thought my dad got the coffee, but after reading the post he told me it was Uncle Paul who picked this up for me. Thank you Uncle Paul!) I’ve had 100% Kona coffee before, and not all coffees are the same (Sugai coffee farms also has good quality coffee beans) but this is the first time I’ve ever tried any kind of peaberry coffee:

Hualalai (pronounced “who-ah-lah-lie”) and Mauna Loa are the two volcanoes where Kona farmers grow their world-famous coffee

Peaberry describes the shape of an unfertilized seed in the coffee fruit. Instead of the seed forming two halves that make a whole (think of peanuts, cashews and pistachios that can be split equally down the middle) the fruit has one “pea shaped” seed.

Since the seed shapes are so different, coffee growers sort the peaberries out so as not to have uneven roasting in their batches. Because of this extra labor as well as the belief that a peaberry yields a more evenly roasted bean (thus a more delicious flavor,) peaberry coffee is more costly and often more valued than the other 95 percent of the harvest.

I brewed a cup of Kona peaberry and thought it was a very good coffee. It was flavorful, mild and smooth, and I didn’t need to add any sweetener! It’s such a nice gift from my parents uncle I’ll have to save the rest for Sunday brunches! Have a nice weekend, everybody, and eat (and drink) well!

My mechanic’s coffee break

One hot, sunny morning, my husband was involved in one of his favorite pastimes: working on the car. He was midway through replacing something important under the hood (I don’t know what it is, but it sure was greasy!) when he decided to take a break, cooling off with a huge glass of iced water followed by a demitasse of espresso. It may seem weird to choose a steaming hot coffee over an iced cold soft drink, but coffee (or espresso, in this case) is just one of those simple pleasures my husband and I enjoy, regardless of how crazy hot it is.

Speaking of hot, did you know the coffee plant was first discovered in Ethiopia? It was the coffee berry–not the bean–that was first consumed for its stimulating effects. Experiments with this “superfood” eventually took place, and people discovered the roasted seed (or bean, as we call it) created a bitter yet stimulating beverage that aided Arab Muslims to stay alert during late-night prayers (perhaps this is the origin of our late-night college cram sessions!) As word of this miracle drink spread, people began to tame the bitter brew, and the drink evolved into what we know and love today in the form of cappuccinos, iced mochas,  sweet Turkish coffees and cans of coffee energy drinks, like the short-lived “Cocoa-Cola Blak” (it definitely tasted like coffee and coke!)

There’s a lot of great dessert recipes that use the wonderful flavor of coffee (my favorite is coffee ice cream) but what about incorporating coffee into a main course?  Meats can certainly benefit from the rich, strong, earthy qualities of the roasted coffee bean, but can vegetarian dishes be just as delicious? There are ways of making it work, and here are some suggestions to use it as a seasoning, hopefully without keeping you up all night:

Coffee marinade: In a ziploc bag, combine a cup of strong coffee with a crushed garlic clove, a teaspoon each of fresh sage, rosemary, and salt with a dash of black pepper. Marinate beef, pork or chicken overnight and cook as desired.

Spiced Coffee Rub: Mix 1 tablespoon instant coffee, 1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice, and 1 teaspoon Kosher salt. Rub on meats and refrigerate overnight before cooking as desired. Another version of this recipe can be found here.

Coffee Jam: Thinly slice a round onion and sautee in oil over medium heat until it begins to carmelize, about 7-10 minutes. Add a fat pinch of Kosher salt, fresh thyme, and 1/2 cup strong coffee and cook until liquid is reduced by half. Serve with roasted meats and veggies.

Below is an easy potato side dish I made using just a few spices and it tastes like the potatoes my mom cooks when she makes a pork roast. The potatoes are nicely browned and the mushrooms add a substantial amount of meatiness, without the meat! My favorite part is how the red wine and spices create a rich and flavorful reduction you get in every bite. Serve this up with some steamed kale or green beans and you have a delicious, hearty vegetarian meal for you and your favorite espresso-loving mechanic.

Coffee Pot Roast Potatoes

Coffee Pot Roast Potatoes (serves 2)
You can also make this dish with extra firm tofu instead of potatoes, just reduce the cooking time

Ingredients:

1 pound small round potatoes, quartered (1 to 1 1/2″ chunks)
4 large mushrooms, quartered (cut them to the same size as potato quarters)
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon instant espresso (or 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee granules)
1/4 teaspoon crushed cumin seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, sage, or rosemary)
dash of cayenne pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
olive oil
1/2 cup dry red wine

In a mixing bowl, combine potatoes with salt, instant espresso or coffee, cumin seeds, and cayenne. Toss with a fork to coat potatoes evenly. Drizzle in 2 teaspoons of olive oil and add garlic, stir to coat.

In a medium sized pot over medium heat, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil, add potatoes and cook until it begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Slowly add half of wine, cooking until it begins to reduce and thicken. Cover potatoes and cook for five minutes, stirring a couple times. Uncover & cook potatoes for another 3-5 minutes, stirring so all pieces can brown nicely. Add mushrooms and remaining wine, cooking uncovered until liquid begins to thicken. Stir, cover and cook until potatoes are fork-tender and mushrooms are cooked through.

Caramelized potatoes are crisp and tender

I have been blogging for almost three months now and am very grateful to all you readers and fellow bloggers who take the time to come by and visit. I always enjoy your comments and suggestions, and especially love hearing your feedback on any of my recipes that you’ve tried out! I also just started a Facebook page (my mother-in-law made a good suggestion that I get one!) so come on over and “like” me to keep up-to-date on the latest cooking adventures, Flavor of the Week, and of course, the Peas and Crayons-sponsored What I Ate Wednesdays!

Today I didn’t exactly go along with this month’s theme of Sensible Snacking because last week was barely over and I was already anxious to post today’s featured recipe, which is something special I made for my second wedding anniversary! My husband and I met 4 1/2 years ago, under which any other circumstances I would never have met him, and not a day goes by that I am not happier for having him in my life. :)

In celebrating our special day, we decided to have lunch at our favorite restaurant. I was excited about going because we tend to eat in most of the time (my fault, I’m the extremely picky one!) and because of the anticipation, I didn’t have much of an appetite in the morning. Breakfast was just a cup of coffee blended with a tablespoon of coconut oil. This great suggestion is from Gabby at Veggie Nook, and I was blown away at the delicious creaminess, even though I’m a ‘black with sugar’ kind of person. Gabby presents some very interesting information on the benefits of coconut oil, so check out her post for some (coco)nutty facts!

Blending the coconut oil with coffee makes it creamy without being ‘watered down’.

Lunch was at the Lost Dog Cafe in Binghamton, where I enjoyed a French press pot o’ coffee and indulged in their Voodoo Ahi Sandwich with sweet potato fries (and extra sweet-hot sauce & mustard on the side for fry-dipping!) I couldn’t handle dessert, this was more than enough for me, and I was snacking on leftovers when we got home…so I guess my lunch leftovers fit this month’s theme of “Sensible Snacking” after all!

Their sweet potato fries taste like there’s a teeny bit of Parmesan cheese…delicious!

Dinner was a specially planned home-cooked meal to celebrate our second anniversary last Thursday. I saved two bison steaks from last Christmas for a special occasion, and this was it! I wasn’t sure of what exactly I wanted to season it with, but definitely knew I wanted something different, something I never tried before. I liked the idea of using a coffee rub, but wanted to jazz it up with something a little exotic,  like a warm, fragrant spice that would evoke memories of a sumptuous meal fit for a king…and his queen!

Putting all these ideas together I decided to use the vanilla my parents sent me, some instant espresso powder, and…(get ready for it)…Chinese Five Spice! The espresso powder and vanilla mellowed out the intense and slightly bitter clove and anise of this aromatic blend. The spices left over in the pan after cooking the bison steaks were enough to season the red wine reduction, and a few dried cherries gave it a nice punch of sweet-tart flavor.

After his first bite my king husband said, “You know what this taste reminds me of? Pepernoten!” Haha, maybe next year I’ll make pepernoten-crusted chicken. :)

Bison Steak with a Spiced Vanilla Rub and Cherry-Shiraz Reduction

Bison Steaks with a Spiced Vanilla Rub and Cherry-Shiraz Reduction  (serves 2)
This seasoning will be perfect on your Father’s Day Steaks, and can also be grilled…hint, hint!

Ingredients:

1/2 teaspoon Spice Islands Chinese Five Spice (decrease to 1/4 teaspoon if you prefer it less prominent)
1 teaspoon Medaglia D’ Oro  instant espresso powder
4″ vanilla pod, split and scraped
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 buffalo steaks (or beef steaks,) 3 ounces each
1/2 cup shiraz
10 dried cherries
2 teaspoons natural sweetener of your choice

Directions:

Combine spices and rub on buffalo steaks. Store in a sealed container in refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.

Soak the cherries in the wine, set aside. In a large frying pan, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-low to medium heat. Cook steaks until edges look done, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to dish and keep warm while you make reduction.

In the same pan, add wine and cherries, drizzle in natural sweetener and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook over medium-high heat until sauce is reduced by about half and is maple syrup consistency, about 5 minutes.

Put a steak on each plate, drizzled with half the reduction, and serve with your favorite side dishes. Enjoy immediately!

This tasted great with my favorite wine, a sparkling Shiraz.

I really enjoyed the blend of seasonings, so I also did the same thing to a venison loin:

Venison Loin with Spiced Vanilla Rub and Cherry-Red Wine Reduction

The entire venison loin was too much for just me and my husband, so I cooked only half and saved the other half for…

Pizza Margherita with Venison Rosettes and Mushrooms

This is a lot of meat for me to have within a week’s time, and I usually am pretty happy with mostly veggies on my plate.  But I do enjoy certain types of meats like venison and buffalo, and usually have them in small quantities…except on special occasions (like my anniversary!) Father’s Day is coming up soon, so keep these recipe ideas in mind for that special man in your life!

So how do you celebrate a special occasion? Are there any tried and true recipes you make  for birthdays or anniversaries? How about the meal you had on a special first date? :D

What kind of “leftover meal” snacks do you think are the best? (I like anything take-out!)


It’s that time of week again, folks! Time to sit back and enjoy another episode of “What I Ate Wednesday” (WIAW,) sponsored by the good folks at Peas and Crayons, where “Food is art and you are what you eat. So eat healthy…eat happy…eat pretty!”

(applause!)

Today I’ll be featuring a recipe that I’ve been making for the past ten years or so. It’s the longest-running recipe I’ve had, and is the only recipe I have ever memorized. It’s been my favorite for weekend breakfasts and presenting them as thank-you gifts, and I like to think that I’m pretty darn good at making them. So deciding to change up an old standard like this one by making it gluten-free made me a bit nervous.

But before I get further into this discussion, here’s a quick run-down of foods from the past couple of days:

Breakfast was coffee (no photo but it was dark, sweet and delicious) and a home-baked treat of my featured food, gluten-free scones (recipe below):

 

Cheddar & Asiago cheese scones in my husband’s childhood milk cup. :)

Lunch was a mixed-greens salad with some mixed-colored veggies. I was never a big fan of making my own salads, so adding tons of color is a good way to have a healthy bowl of greens (and purples and reds and oranges!):

Dinner was Turkey Bean Burgers seasoned with miso paste on rice noodles tossed with seaweed & miso dressing. This was supposed to have been submitted in Monday’s Recipe Redux Challenge, but I wasn’t totally happy with how it turned out. The seaweed in the patties didn’t stand out as much as I hoped for, and the rice noodles could have used some “oomph,” perhaps with more veggies tossed in, and not just sitting under it!

Miso paste in the patties gave it a nice flavor.

Now, here’s a little more background on the scones I’m featuring today. This is a recipe I first came across ten years ago from Joy of Baking and is by far the most delicious and easiest baked good ever made. The scones have a crisp, almost flaky exterior which keeps the insides soft and flavorful. Fresh from the oven, you can split them in half and slather on some butter as the warm, steamy centers melt them into delicious oblivion.

Since I am trying to stay wheat-free as much as possible, I modified this recipe by switching out the regular flour for a gluten-free blend, courtesy of Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise G. Roberts. The result? Deliciously tender, melt-in-your-mouth, crisp, flavorful bites of gluten-free indulgence!

Cream Scones, original recipe from Joy of Baking
Best if eaten within a day or two, but freeze any extras you may have tightly wrapped in foil. Defrost by leaving out for 15 minutes, then pop in toaster oven on medium setting. It will taste like it was freshly baked.

2 cups gluten-free flour mix (I used 2 parts white rice flour, 2/3 parts potato starch, 1/3 part tapioca starch)
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your flour mix already includes this!)
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup cold, unsalted butter
add-ins (optional, see below)*
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla

*optional add-ins:
– 1/2 cup chocolate chips + 1/3 cup chopped nuts or chopped cherries
–  1/2 cup chocolate chips + 1/3 cup shredded, toasted unsweetened coconut + 1 teaspoon coconut extract
– 1/2 cup dried cherries or blueberries
– 1 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese + 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (reduce sugar to 1/4 cup)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or Silpat, set aside.

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients with a wire whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter until butter pieces are about pea-sized. With a rubber spatula, gently mix in one of the add-in ingredients listed above. Set aside.

In a measuring cup, add 1/2 cup cream, vanilla, and 1 egg. Mix until well incorporated. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Dough should be just a little sticky. Divide dough in half, forming each into a ball. Flatten ball to a circle about 1″ thick. Cut into 8 triangles, set on cookie sheet about 1″ apart. Repeat with remaining dough.

Beat remaining egg white with 1 tablespoon cream. Using a pastry brush or back of a spoon, brush scones with egg wash.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until tops begin to turn golden, rotating tray 180 degrees halfway through baking. Remove from oven and let sit for for a minute before transferring to serving plate. Serve warm with butter or preserves.

Cut each circle into 8 little triangles. Alternatively, you can roll out the entire dough and use a round cookie cutter.

The eggs from my sister’s chickens have a rich, yellowy-orange yolk. You can see how thick it is in the egg wash used to brush the tops of the scones.

These tender scones are delicious with coffee or tea, or even as a late night snack.