Rich Chocolate Pie with Caramel Sauce and a Pecan Crust

Holiday season has arrived! I don't believe in over indulging and over eating, but I do believe in high quality, real food, which often times can be quite decadent! This richly creamy, chocolate pie will satisfy any chocolate craving. The nutty crust is a wonderful companion to the caramel sauce and silky semi-sweet chocolate. Have a slice, you won't regret it.

1 3/4 cup pecans, chopped finely
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

1 pint whipping cream
16 oz high quality semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Caramel Sauce (store-bought or homemade) I used Trader Joes, Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce

Heat oven to 350° F. Stir together all crust ingredients in a medium bowl. Firmly press ingredients on bottom and sides of a pie pan. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, heat whipping cream in a saucepan over medium heat until just beginning to boil, about 5 minutes. remove from heat and stir in chocolate until completely melted and smooth. Pour chocolate mixture into cooled pie crust. Refrigerate for 2 hours or more, until set.

Just before serving warm caramel sauce on stove top or in microwave and drizzle over the top of chocolate pie. Garnish with extra pecans.
Serve and enjoy!


Butternut Squash Soup with Tart Apples

It’s definitely squash season. The varieties are abundant at most farmers markets and grocery stores. My favorites these days are butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash, but all are delicious and pretty simple to prepare. This recipe was inspired by Dr. Weil’s squash soup recipe featured on the NY Times. 
1 butternut squash, peeled, cut in half, seeded and chopped into about 2” pieces
2 tart apples, peeled, cored and cut into about 2” pieces
2 Tbs good olive oil
2 sweet yellow onions, peeled and chopped into large pieces
1/2 to 1 tsp sea salt
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tsp red chile powder
4 cups GF vegetable or chicken broth
Pesto for serving (you can make your own or use a store-bought version. I used Trader Joe’s jarred Basil Pesto)
Preheat oven to 400°F. 
In a large roasting pan, add squash, garlic, apples, and onion together. Drizzle with olive oil and mix well to coat. Sprinkle with salt and red chile powder and stir again. Bake for 40 minutes, tossing the mixture about every 10 minutes to ensure even roasting. 
Working in batches, add roasted veggies and 1 cup of broth at a time to blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and add to a large pot. Continue until all veggies and broth have been blended together. Simmer the soup on low heat for about 20 minutes to warm through. Serve with a dollop of pesto in each serving bowl. 


Lemon Infused Pound Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Today I was honored to attend a private luncheon with The Gluten Free Girl and the Chef. I never thought that moving to Boulder would open up so many gluten-free doors. Colorado is the mecca for gluten-free living and start-up companies! The luncheon included about ten different gluten-free companies, ranging from New Planet Beer to The Last Crumb Bakery. Everyone pitched in and made delightful food and it was wonderful to meet other people so passionate about eating healthy and gluten-free. Shauna Ahern (the Gluten-Free Girl) was very gracious and seemed to enjoy all our contributions!  I was very nervous, as she was the first to have a slice of my lemon pound cake. I didn't even have time to taste it before serving! As Shauna took a bite, I went into panic mode... she is a great chef herself and is married to a professional chef, so naturally my confidence was withering away. Luckily for me, she said great things about the pound cake and could even identify the bourbon vanilla extract I put in the frosting. Phew! Unfortunately, I forgot my camera and only was able to take pics with my phone which doesn't do justice to the beautiful foods.

Lemon Infused Pound Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

5 Tbs unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
3/4 cup sugar, plus more for dusting the pan
1 cup GF flour (Bistro Blend All Purpose GF Flour*)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice, plus finely grated zest of two lemons, plus more for garnish (optional)
1/4 cup milk
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter a 9"x5" loaf pan. Dust with sugar, and tap out excess; set aside. Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and xanthan gum. Stir together lemon juice and milk. Set aside.
Put butter and 3/4 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix until pale and fluffy, for about 3 minutes. Mix in eggs and lemon zest until combined. Working in two batches, alternate mixing in flour and milk. Mix until incorporated.  Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake cake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 55-60 minutes. Let cool slightly and remove from loaf pan to cool on wire rack completely.

*The Bistro Blend is a blend of whole grain flours [eco-farmed brown rice flour, sorghum flour, tapioca starch, buckwheat flour, organic coconut flour, xanthan gum] http://www.theglutenfreebistro.com/products.html

2 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces organic cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 tsp bourbon vanilla extract

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth on med-high speed. Add cream cheese and mix until smooth. gradually beat in the sugar until smooth, then add the vanilla extract on high. Beat until frosting is light and fluffy.

Once cake is completely cool, slather on the frosting on top of cake. Garnish with lemon zest and slice to serve.


Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving is fast approaching which means menus need to be planned! I'm not a huge fan of the "traditional" thanksgiving dinner; the kind with soggy green-bean casserole and overly-sweetened marshmallow sweet potatoes. The taste of a crispy young green-bean and a lightly maple glazed sweet-potato far outweigh vegetables that have been overly cooked and overly flavored. Here are some of my favorite, fresh recipes that will definitely be on the table this year!
  1. GF Buttermilk Cornbread Stuffing
  2. Lemon Roasted Green Beans with Marcona Almonds
  3. Braised Carrots with Shallots, Sage and Thyme
  4. Maple Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Cipollini Onions
  5. Chocolate Torte drizzled with Fleur de Sel Carmel Sauce (recipe to come!)
Maple Glazed Sweet Potatoes 
2 cups (8 ounces) cipollini onions 
1/4 cup vegetable oil 
5 sweet potatoes (2 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch-thick semicircles 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
3 tablespoons unsalted butter 
1/2 cup maple syrup 
3 tablespoons thinly sliced sage leaves
Prepare an ice-water bath. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add onions, and blanch for 30 seconds. Transfer to ice-water bath; drain, and peel onions.
Heat oil in saute pan over medium heat until almost smoking. Add onions, and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and continue to cook onions until tender, about 5 minutes more. 
Remove onions. Reheat pan over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add sweet potatoes; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until browned, about 20 minutes. Add butter, and cook, stirring, until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in maple syrup and onions, and cook another 4 minutes, until maple syrup has reduced to a glaze. Stir in sage, and season with salt and pepper. Recipe courtesy of  BluePrint Magazine 
Cornbread Stuffing
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
1 small onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
Sea Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
4 cups GF Cornbread, toasted and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried herb blend
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Prepare the stuffing. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease an 8-inch square pan with olive oil. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until softened, about five minutes; season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste. In a large bowl, toss together the onion mixture, cornbread, apple and herb blend. Transfer to the prepared pan. Scatter the pecans on top and cover with foil; bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil; bake until crispy and golden, about 20 minutes more. Recipe found on The NY Times  
Carrots with Shallots, Sage and Thyme
1 cup chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 pound shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 stick unsalted butter 
1/4 cup chopped sage
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Cut carrots into 3-by 1/2-inch sticks. Bring stock to a boil with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a 12-inch heavy skillet. Add carrots and simmer, covered, until just tender, about 15 minutes. Remove lid and boil until most of liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Transfer carrots to a bowl and wipe out skillet.
Cook shallots in butter with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden- brown, about 6 minutes. Add sage, thyme, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and return carrots to skillet, tossing to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Recipe found on Epicurious 
Lemon Roasted Green Beans with Marcona Almonds
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 pounds green beans, trimmed
1 onion, peeled, cut into 8 wedges
6 large fresh marjoram sprigs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon (packed) finely grated lemon peel
1/2 cup coarsely chopped Marcona almonds or roasted regular almonds
Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 450°F. Spray 2 large rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray. Combine green beans, onion wedges, and marjoram in large bowl. Drizzle with oil, then sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and pepper. Toss; divide between prepared sheets. Roast vegetables 15 minutes. Reverse sheets. Continue to roast until beans are tender and beginning to brown in spots, about 10 minutes longer. Transfer vegetables to bowl. Add lemon juice, grated lemon peel, and half of chopped almonds. Toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining almonds. Recipe found on Epicurious  


Mama's Cowboy Cookies, made Gluten-Free!

Gluten-Free Cowboy Cookies
Growing up, my mom could whip up a batch of cowboy cookies in a matter of minutes! The hearty and crispy texture is amazing with the abundance of oats, pecans and chocolate.Y-U-M. I have been reminising about these cookies lately, so using the Bistro Blend Flour, this is what I have come up with. Thanks Mom for introducing me to these cookies at such a young age... and now I am given the chance to perfect them with a gluten free flour blend! Enjoy!

1/2 cup organic vegetable shortening
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup  dark brown sugar
1  medium egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup GF flour (Bistro Blend All Purpose GF Flour*)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup certified GF oats
1/2 cup pecans

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a stand mixer or other electric mixer, cream the shortening, egg, sugars, and vanilla on med-high speed until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking soda together. Gradually, add flour mixture to sugar mix and beat on low speed until incorporated. Stir in oats, chocolate, and nuts until combined.

Using a tablespoon drop dough onto prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Cookies should be golden brown. Transfer sheets to a baking rack and let sit for about 3 minutes to cool slightly. Transfer the cookies to racks to cool completely.

*The Bistro Blend is a blend of whole grain flours [eco-farmed brown rice flour, sorghum flour, tapioca starch, buckwheat flour, organic coconut flour, xanthan gum] http://www.theglutenfreebistro.com/products.html

Shishito Peppers with Sea Salt

I cannot express how much I love these peppers. This is not so much a recipe but a fantastic way to eat the peppers. They are highly addictive with the lightly charred, blistered skins and sea salt. I have yet to find them in Boulder, but they are sold at the Santa Fe Farmers Market in the fall. They make a great appetizer or side dish and are guaranteed to be a hit for even the most skeptic of eaters.

3/4 lb shishito peppers, rinsed (do not remove stems)
2-3 Tbs olive oil
sea salt

Heat oil in a large pan, add peppers and saute for about 10 minutes until they become slightly charred and the skins begin to blister. Sprinkle with a generous amount of sea salt and toss. Serve warm.


Beef Pot Roast with Root Vegetables

When the morning temperatures are 27°F it feels only natural that a warm, comforting meal would be perfect for lunch. I put on my down-jacket and braved the temperatures at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. I was determined to get some local turnips, potatoes, parsnips and carrots to pair with a hearty beef pot-roast. Ah, comfort food. This recipe is very quick when using a pressure-cooker.
2 tsp olive oil
1, 3lb boneless chuck roast, fat trimmed
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper
3 cups beef or chicken stock
1/2 cup red wine (I used merlot)
fresh thyme, about 4 sprigs
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 2inch pieces
5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 medium turnips, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
1 lb yellow potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces
4 shallots, chopped

Heat an 8-quart pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Add oil to cooker. Sprinkle roast evenly with salt and pepper. Add roast to cooker; sauté 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Stir in 3 cups stock and red wine. Close lid securely; bring to high pressure over high heat. Cook for 35 minutes. Remove from heat; release pressure through steam vent.  Remove lid, and remove roast with a slotted spoon, place on a platter and keep warm. Add thyme sprigs and remaining ingredients to pot. . Close lid securely. Return to high pressure; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; release pressure through steam vent, Remove lid; let stand 5 minutes. Slice roast. Remove vegetables from cooker using a slotted spoon, and place on platter with roast. Keep remaining cooking liquid to make a gravy if desired. 

Corn and Potato Salad with Goat Cheese and Fresh Basil

I love salads and I especially love creative salads. My husband once told his foodie friend that "Lisa is such a good cook, she makes the best salads"! I was slightly confused at the comment...although I'm very thankful that my husband thinks I'm a good cook, but preparing a salad has never seemed like the skill in the kitchen that I should be most proud of. Salad prep is hardly cooking! Regardless, salads can be very enjoyable and I hope you'll find this dish delicious!

1 Lb small yellow potatoes 
  • 3 cups corn kernels (thawed, if using frozen)
  • 2 cups assorted cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium bell pepper (color of your choice, chopped)
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 3 Tbs white balsamic vinegar or champagne vinegar 
  • 1 Tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 cups baby arugula or mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
Place potatoes in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook about 12 minutes or until tender. Drain and chill. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Combine potatoes, corn, tomatoes, and bell pepper in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine shallots, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper  and oil  and stir with a whisk. Drizzle oil mixture over corn mixture and toss well. Sprinkle with basil.  Place  about 1 cup of arugula on serving plates and top with a large scoop of corn mixture. Top evenly with goat cheese. Yummy! 
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine


Gluten Free Girl and the Chef are coming to Colorado!

It's official, the Gluten Free Girl and the Chef are making their way to Colorado! I am particularly excited about  next weeks events because Shauna Ahern's book, Gluten Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back...and How You Can Too  resonated with me and brought me hope after my Celiac diagnosis. It was given to me by a special friend in New Mexico, and was the very first book I read after my diagnosis. If you are in Colorado next week, this will be an amazing time.  

Luckily for me, I live in Boulder where the giant pot-luck party will take place. It's heartwarming to know that I am going to a BIG gathering where all the food will be gluten-free and most likely be very delicious...Boulder was named the "foodiest" town in America! Any thoughts on what I should take to the pot-luck? Maybe muffins...

The Boulder Party/Event Info:
Saturday, November 20th at 1 pm
First Congregational Church
1128 Pine Street, Boulder, CO 80302 
Bring a dish of your favorite gluten-free food! (Please label it with all the ingredients inside, so people with other food allergies can eat safely as well.) If you can, bring some plates, forks, knives, and napkins. We're having a party.  
For all Colorado Events, check out Shauna's website


Quinoa with Roasted Corn, Black Beans and Avocado

On Saturday night I went to a GF pot-luck party. That's right, every dish was gluten-free! This is an amazing and rare occurrence in my world. As a contribution I made a favorite recipe, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) with roasted corn, black beans and avocado. This dish is high in protein, high in fiber and tastes really good!

Quinoa with Roasted Corn, Black Beans and Avocado
1 cup red quinoa, throughly rinsed
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups corn, roasted
1 avocado, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium red onion, diced
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lime
zest of 1 lime
sea salt and pepper to taste

Cook quinoa with veggie broth according to package directions. Meanwhile, combine beans, roasted corn, tomatoes, onion and avocado. In a separate bowl, mix lime juice, zest, olive oil, salt and pepper together. Whisk lightly and set aside.

When quinoa is cooked and cooled off a bit, toss with olive oil mixture. In a large bowl, add quinoa and bean mixture together and gently toss; garnish with cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.


Almond and Chocolate Biscotti's

It's baking time again! Biscotti's are a twice baked Italian cookie or biscuit and oh so yummy! I haven't had a biscotti in about a year, so in my efforts of discovering GF versions of tasty treats, I followed Karen Morgan's recipe from the Blackbird Bakery to fulfill my cookie wishes (with a few minor adjustments).  In Italy these cookies are often served with a Vin Santo, a dessert wine, but here, I like to serve and dunk them in hot coffee or black tea. I hope you will too!

(makes 3 dozen)
1.5 cups sorghum flour
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup almond meal
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp xanthan gum
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2.5 tsp pure almond extract
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
GF flour for dusting
1/4 cup slivered almonds, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 egg white, slightly beaten 
1-3 Tbs lukewarm water, if needed

Preheat oven to 375ºF and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

On a very large cutting board or pastry board, combine all of your dry ingredients by gently folding the ingredients in on themselves. Now carefully carve out a little well in the center and add three eggs, being careful not to allow any bits of shell to fall in. Add the almond extract and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract.

Using a steady, folding motion and a small wooden spoon, begin to mix your eggs and extracts, slowly pulling in the dry ingredients from the periphery. If your well begins to expand, just pull it back in with your hands. Continue to mix until all of your dry ingredients are incorporated.

Knead the dough several times, dust your work surface with additional sorghum flour and then knead several times more. Add the blanched almonds and knead again until they appear to be evenly distributed. Divide your dough into two sections. Set one section aside. Flatten the other section of dough  and then add the ¼ cup dark chocolate chips, cocoa powder, the remaining 1 egg and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract to the other section. Knead until smooth. The dough should be firm and soft at this point but not overly dry. If the dough cracks add 1 Tbs lukewarm water to soften. Divide your dough into four sections (cut each half in half) and then carefully shape them into 12” long logs. Place each log onto your prepared cookie sheet, side by side.

Take your lightly beaten egg white and brush the tops of each log. Bake at 375ºF for 20 minutes. Remove biscotti logs from the oven and using a serrated knife, slice them into ½” thick diagonal slices. Lay the cookies flat on the cookie sheet, lower the oven temperature to 225ºF and bake for 30 minutes more to dry the biscotti out completely. 

Remove from oven, transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. 
More Blackbird Bakery Recipes can be found here: http://www.theartofglutenfreecooking.com/2008_01_01_archive.html

Portobello Mushroom, Steak and Poblano Tacos

Last night I finally watched the film Julie & Julia. Having been to France (both before and after eating GF) and loving every piece of food I put in my mouth, I have a deep appreciation for the richness and thought that goes into french cooking.  And, now that I am taking more notice of the food I make, I realize there are specific themes to my recipes. I can't seem to venture away from the southwestern spiciness. I love cilantro, peppers and beans, most definitely due to my New Mexico roots! My husband has vowed to buy me a french cookbook for Christmas, but until then...

1 to 2 Tbs olive oil
1lb sirloin steak, trimmed
salt and pepper to season
1 large white onion, sliced
1 tsp dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 poblano pepper, seeded and sliced
corn tortillas

fresh salsa/pico de gallo (optional for garnish)
shredded cheese (optional for garnish)
cilantro, chopped (optional for garnish)
scallions, chopped (optional for garnish)

Heat 1 Tbs oil in large skillet over med-high heat. Season steak with salt and pepper. Add steak to pan and cook about 5 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and set aside. Add remaining oil, if needed, to pan. Add onion, oregano, garlic, mushrooms and poblano pepper to pan. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften. Meanwhile, cut the steak against the grain into thin slices. Add steak back to pan and sauté for one minute more. Taste for seasonings. 

Add steak/veggie mixture into warmed corn tortillas and serve with salsa, cheese, cilantro and scallions! Don't forget that tacos are perfect with an icy cold beverage. I happen to find great delight in Colorado's New Planet Beer. It's refreshing and even tastes like "real" beer!