Homemade Muesli

Anyone who knows me (or has been reading my blog) knows that, because of my GI issues, I’m obsessed about what ingredients go into my food. I tend to avoid processed and packaged foods because I must ensure nothing that will cause me abdominal pain/distress passes through my lips. I’m so glad I stumbled upon this museli in my recipe stash while looking for holiday cookie recipes. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of making my own cereal sooner. I adapted this recipe from a one a high school friend shared with me many years ago. Her mom made it and I always thought it was delicious.

I love it because, in addition to being delectable, it’s easy to make and you get control the ratio of ingredients. Love walnuts? Add a cup instead of ¾ c. Not sold on raisins? Decrease the amount to 1/3 c . Add or change up the spices. Add coconut, mini chocolate chips, dried cranberries. I could go on and on. Think of this recipe as more like a guideline; it’s open to interpretation. The result will be a healthy, homemade cereal of all your favorite things.

I love almonds and walnuts; I tend to add a lot of them so I can get more of the healthy fat my body needs. I wanted to add coconut, but I didn’t this time because Mr. Surly doesn’t like coconut. But next time I’m going to make a batch with coconut. I haven’t decided whether I want to add it to the oats and toast it, or add it at the end with the dates and raisins.

This would be a fantastic, healthy addition to your holiday goodie boxes to balance out all the sugary treats. I promise the recipients will thank you and beg for the recipe.

Homemade Muesli
Printer-friendly version

6 c rolled oats (I always use Bob’s Red Mill Extra Thick Rolled Oats, they are divine)
2 c quick oats (I use McCann’s Irish Oatmeal, the quick cooking rolled oats)
¾ c sliced or chopped almonds
¾ c chopped walnuts
1 Tbl ground flaxseed meal
¼ c honey or agave (or combination of both)
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
pinch freshly ground nutmeg
¾ c raisins (I use golden)
¾ c chopped dates

Mix oats, almonds, walnuts and ground flaxseed in a bowl.

Whisk together honey, vanilla, and spices. Drizzle over oats and nuts and mix gently to combine. Spread on one (or more) baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Place in 250 F oven, and toast for 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes. Remove from oven, add dates and raisins.

Allow to cool completely before storing in an air tight container.

Enjoy by adding milk and eating it as cereal, sprinkle it on top of yogurt, or use it as a topping for a fruit crumble, whatever your tastebuds desire.

Phoenix Rising

One the fourth day of Christmas my bartender made for me a phenomenal Phoenix Rising Cocktail…

This drink calls for using Angostura bitters. Not being a bartender, I had no idea what bitters were. According to Angostura’s website, bitters are “a unique blend of natural herbs and spices which is used to flavor a wide variety of food and drinks.”

We debated using it, not sure how easy it would be to find, but we found it at the liquor store for only $7. It was in the same aisle as grenadine, right above the vermouth. It’s a little bigger than a mini sized liquor bottle. There were about 4 different kinds of bitters. It was also in the wine/beer section of the grocery store. You only use a dash of it, so we had plenty left over. On the website they have recipes for food that call for a dash of the bitters; I’m curious about what it would taste like in food.

I really liked this drink, as you can see by the lower volume; it was kinda tropical tasting. I kept sipping it while my mother-in-law set up the props and it looks like I sipped a bit too much–oops.

Phoenix Rising
Printer-friendly recipe
Serves 1

2 oz vodka
1 oz pineapple juice
2 oz ginger ale
Dash of bitters
Lemon oil from 2 large lemon peel strips

Shake ingredients with lemon peels. Pour into ice filled rocks glass.

Need other drinks that use bitters? Try these:
Blarney Stone
Champagne Cocktails
Death in the Gulf Stream Cocktail
Paddy Wagon
Sufferin’ Bastard

Dark Chocolate Espresso Cake

I should call this cake death by chocolate it’s so rich. The first time I had this recipe was 2 years ago, when I was gluten free. It was love at first bite. I like that this flourless cake doesn’t have a lot of butter in it. A lot of flourless chocolate cake recipes call for 2 sticks of butter–no thank you, my stomach would be in knots for days.

This recipe is perfect. The cake is so dense,moist, and delicious. It’s wonderful served with whipped cream and raspberries. A note about the cake; it rises when it bakes and falls when it cools, resulting in a crackled top. But don’t worry, the cake will be gone before anyone notices a cracked top.

Dark Chocolate Espresso Cake
Printer-friendly version
6 tablespoons butter, plus more for pan
8 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate or (1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips)
1 Tbl instant espresso powder
1 Tbl vanilla (I used TJ’s bourbon vanilla)
6 large eggs, separated into whites and yolks
½ cup sugar
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Whipped cream, for garnish

Preheat oven to 275 degrees; with rack in center. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Place butter and chocolate in a large bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring each time, until melted; cool slightly. Stir in vanilla and espresso powder Whisk in yolks.

In another bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add sugar; beat until stiff and glossy. Whisk 1/4 of whites into chocolate mixture; gently fold mixture into remaining whites.

Pour into prepared pan; smooth top. Bake until cake pulls away from sides of pan and is just set in center, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Serve dusted with confectioners’ sugar or whipped cream.

source: slightly adapted from Martha Stewart

White Chocolate Macadamia Biscotti

I’m finally getting around to posting some recipes. I have just been so exhausted and lethargic the past week or two, all I felt like doing was sleep. But this week I’m trying to get caught up in posting. I wish I had an assistant to help me take and edit the photos, as well as type out the recipes and posts.
I love to have some kind of treat with my morning cappuccino. Biscotti is a favorite, so are cookies, date bars, etc. I had some macadamias, and decided to make a biscotti version of the best cookie ever. It took me a few attempts to get the right ratio of dry to wet ingredients, but all the disasters were still delicious, even if they were too crumbly.

These went fast, I had them with my morning coffee and again in the afternoon with some chai tea. Next time I’m going to make two loaves, as even Mr.Surly was a fan.

White Chocolate Macadamia Biscotti
Printer-friendly recipe
makes 1 small loaf, serves about 4

½ c sugar
4 Tbl butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 ¼ c flour
2/3 c quick oats
1 Tbl ground flaxseed meal (0pt)
½ tsp baking powder
generous pinch salt
¼ c white chocolate chips
1.5 oz (generous ¼ c) chopped macadamia nuts

In a bowl, stir together flour, oats, flaxseed meal, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, add sugar, melted butter, and vanilla in a bowl. Whisk in the eggs. Add the dry ingredients, along with the chips and nuts, and stir with a rubber spatula (or wooden spoon) until just combined. Cover dough and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes minimum.

When ready to bake, remove dough from fridge and preheat oven to 350F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. With wet hands, take the dough and form it into a rectangular loaf. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove.

Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut loaf into desired portion size. Bake the pieces for about 6 minutes on each side, until golden and toasted.

If desired, drizzle melted chocolate over pieces. Allow to cool completely, before storing in an airtight container.

Black Bean Lasagna

This lasagna is something I just threw together the other day when I didn’t feel like making much for dinner. I’ve seen lasagna rolls on various blogs and, one day, wanted to take a stab at making my own. I don’t like ground beef and I knew if there was no protein in this dish there was a chance Mr. Surly would find this dinner neither filling nor satiating. In order to curb and avoid possible post-dinner kitchen foraging, I added black beans for protein.

Now, black beans are on my “avoid” list for the low oxalate diet, but I haven’t been following the diet too strictly recently. My GI doctor ordered more tests, and wants me to eat as I normally would to get accurate results. I have been eating all the chocolately treats I can in the meantime. This accounts for my recent scrumptious Chocolate Stout Cupcakes post.

This meal was easy to prepare, while my noodles boiled I mixed up the filling, and seasoned the tomato sauce. The rolls aren’t too hard to assemble. If you roll too tightly the filling pops out but that’s not a big deal; you just pinch it back in.

Both Mr.Surly and I enjoyed this, though he did comment it could use more spices. I thought it tasted great, but with my GI issues I have acquired a very bland palate, much safer for my GI tract that way.

thanks for the new dish MIL 🙂
Black Bean Lasagna Rolls
Printer-friendly recipe
makes 12 mini rolls
serves 2

1 (14.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 bell pepper (any color), diced
2-3 cloves garlic
~2 Tbl olive oil
1 (16 oz) container ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese)

spices to taste:
*basil
*oregano
*marjoram
*Italian seasoning

a few Tbl chopped fresh basil (opt)
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
6 lasagna noodles, boiled, cooled and cut in half
1 (28 oz) can tomato sauce (or jar of marinara sauce)
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

make the filling for the rolls:
In a small nonstick pan over medium heat, sauté garlic in a Tbl for about 2 minutes. Add bell pepper, black beans, and ~1-2 tsp of each the dried spices. Sauté for about 3-5 minutes, until garlic is fragrant. Remove from heat and put into small heat-safe bowl. Add the ricotta cheese and fresh basil (jf using), stir to combine. Add a small handful ~¼ to 1/3 shredding mozzarella and ~ ¼ c grated parmesan cheese. Mix well.

Pour tomato sauce into a small bowl and season with more (1-2 tsp) dried spices, salt, and pepper. Add a splash of olive oil and the red pepper flakes; stir. Put a few spoonfuls into the bottom of a small baking dish. Using a spoon, scoop out some of the filling, and add it to a lasagna noodle, rolling the noodle around the filling. If filling comes out, place your index finger and thumb over the open ends and pinch the filling back into the roll. Place seam side down in baking dish. Repeat til all the noodles are used. Pour remaining sauce over rolls. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top and cover with foil.

At this point you can either keep it in the fridge until you’re ready for dinner, or bake immediately (or you could stash it in the freezer for another day).

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 and bake, covered in foil, 45 min to an hour, til heated through and sauce is bubbling a bit. Remove foil, and bake an additional 5-10 min until cheese is browned. Allow to cool about 10-15 min before serving, then enjoy.

Coffee Cake Muffins with Crunchy Almond Topping

A couple weekends ago Mr. Surly made a comment on how coffee cake sounded good. On weekends he likes sweets that compliment his coffee. I haven’t had coffee cake in years, so I set out to make some. I knew I wanted them in cupcake form for perfect individual portions. I went onto Tasty Kitchen to view some recipes. I finally settled on this recipe as a base; of course I had to make my own tweaks.

I wanted to make a crunchy nut topping. I figured a few oxalates from the almonds wouldn’t hurt me. I would rather have used walnuts instead of almonds, but I didn’t have any. Without the nut topping these would have been a good low oxalate treat.

I messed up the recipe a bit, you were supposed to reserve some of the filling and use it as the topping. But my medicated brain missed that step–ooops. It didn’t matter though, I made my own topping and got a few extra cupcakes from the batter.

These were delightful. A perfect accompaniment to Mr.Surly’s coffee and my cappuccino. These did not last long. I think they only lasted 2 days. Which is good, since I have a list of other sweets I want to make.

Coffee Cake Muffins with Crunchy Almond Topping
Printer-friendly recipe
makes about 9 muffins

for the cupcakes:
1 ¼ c flour
¼ c + 2 Tbl sugar
½ c brown sugar
~½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
¼ c + 2 Tbl applesauce (or oil)
½ c buttermilk
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp apple cider vinegar (or white)
½ tsp vanilla

for the crunchy nut topping:
1.5 oz whole almonds (~ 1/3 c)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbl flaxseed oil (or melted butter)
2 Tbl brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F

make the muffins:
Sift together flour, both sugars, spices and salt in mixing bowl. Add applesauce, buttermilk and baking soda. Whisk or mix well. Add baking powder, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix well.

make the topping
Finely chop or pulse in food processor a few times. Add other ingredients and stir.

Fill greased or papered muffing wells almost to the top. Sprinkle topping over muffin batter. Let it sit on top, not sink in.

Bake 20 minutes or until inserted pick comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack.

Source: halved and adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken

This week has gone by so fast for me! I’m finally getting around to editing photos and getting some posts up. I feel like I’m so far behind! I have missed reading my favorite blogs, and I plan to catch up on that this weekend.

I’ve been going through a lot of my recipes to see if I can deem them low oxalate. I have made this chicken many times; we really like it. I’m not sure if this is an ideal dish for a low oxalate diet. The soy sauce is on my list of foods to avoid, but I figured using just low sodium would be fine.Besides, I dilute it with pineapple juice, which is on my “good” list. 😉

I’ve made this with fresh pineapple and canned. Canned is obviously less work and tastes just as good. I really love sweet and spicy combinations. Don’t substitute cooking sherry for the dry sherry, they are different and cooking sherry is loaded with sodium (which is bad for a low oxalate diet). I have grilled it, cooked it in a skillet, and one time I even just tossed everything in an 8×8″ glass dish and baked it at 375F. Just depends on my mood, and how tired/lazy I’m feeling.

You can serve this with rice, couscous, millet, almost any grain. I chose orzo since it’s a pasta, which is on my “good” oxalate list.

Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken
Printer-friendly recipe
serves 2

1/3 c dry sherry (NOT cooking sherry. I bought a cheap bottle of dry sherry at Trader Joe’s)
¼ c low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
~1 Tbl Hoisin sauce
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks, reserve juice from the can
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon butter

Whisk sherry, soy sauce, brown sugar hoisin sauce, red pepper flakes and 1/3 cup pineapple juice in shallow dish or Ziploc quart sized bag. Add pineapple chicken and gently stir to coat. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. I mix this up in the morning, put it in a Ziploc bag and let it marinate until dinner, flipping occasionally.

Meanwhile, preheat grill or skillet to medium-high.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry; reserve the marinade. Oil the skillet or grill rack. Cook the chicken cooked through, ~8 minutes per side.

Pour the reserved pineapple chunks marinade in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally about 5 minutes or so (this will kill the bacteria from the raw chicken). Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Sometimes I like to add more pineapple juice. Add 1 tsp cold water to the cornstarch and stir, to make a slurry. Pour into marinade, stir, bring to a boil and stir until thickened. Stir in butter (this is optional. I need the fat so I add it).

Serve the chicken drizzled with pineapple sauce.

Lemon Glazed Brown Sugar Shortbread

I have to admit, this low oxalate diet is one of the hardest elimination diets I have ever done. Mostly because all my favorite foods are on the “foods to avoid” list. But, this forces me to become more creative in planning out my meals. I’m thinking of ingredient combinations I never would have considered otherwise. I wanted to tap into my creative side via this blog, and now I’m really being forced into it.

One thing I’m really struggling with is dessert. Ever since losing too much weight, my doctor keeps encouraging me to eat sugary, fatty desserts. And now I’ve developed a sweet tooth. I can’t help it; you try eating cakes and browines, cookies and ice cream everyday for a year, then all of a sudden being cut off. My biggest challenge right now is finding low oxalate desserts. Is there anything that tastes like chocolate, but isn’t chocolate nor cocoa, and would be low oxalate? If someone knows of something please let me know. It’s only been about a week and I’m craving and missing my good friend chocolate terribly.

Since I haven’t been feeling well lately, I wanted to make an easy dessert. I decided to make a simple shortbread and add a lemon glaze to sweeten it. I made a small batch because this was an experiment, and now I wish I had made more. I’ve already eaten almost half the batch I made. Luckily, these are so easy to make I can make a bigger batch tomorrow. The lemon glaze adds that perfect extra ‘something’.

I’d like to experiment more with this by adding different spices and glazes. I’d like to try some kind of orange blossom water glaze. This is a great basic, recipe to play around with.

Lemon Glazed Brown Sugar Shortbread
Printer-friendly version
makes about 12-14 bite sized cookies

for the shortbread:
4 Tbl butter, softened
2 Tbl brown sugar
½ c flour

for the lemon glaze:
2 Tbl powdered sugar
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ tsp vanilla

Make the shortbread:
Preheat oven to 300F

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Gradually add the flour, mixing well. On a lightly floured surface, knead and squeeze together the dough. Pat it into a rectangle, I think mine was about ½“ thick. Using a pizza cutter, or knife, cut into desired size pieces.

Place pieces on a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet and prick with a fork. Bake about 15 minutes, or til bottom and edges are browned. Place baking sheet on wire rack.

Make the glaze:
In small bowl (I used a ramekin) add glaze ingredients and whisk until smooth. Using a pastry brush, brush glaze on still warm shortbread (or you could drizzle the glaze over the shortbread).

Allow shortbread to cool completely before storing in airtight container.

Chai Biscotti

Well, my low oxalate diet has begun. It’s going to take some time to fully adjust to it, and I have to reference my “good”, “bad”, and “limit” lists. Black tea is on my “foods to avoid” list, so my daily cup of chai tea (made from black tea) is out. So I had to find a new way to get my chai fix. I’ve been thinking a lot about biscotti recently, I’m not sure why, so I decided to try to come up with some kind of chai flavor biscotti. I wanted to make them vegan, and that took some adjusting to make sure the texture came out right.

It took a few attempts to get the right flavor ratio and dry to liquid ratio. The almonds are on my list of “bad” foods, but I figured ¼ c of thin slices spread throughout the whole loaf wouldn’t be too harmful for my diet. And flax is on my “limit” list, and I figure 2 Tbl is limiting.

I made a small batch, because I wasn’t sure if Mr. Surly would be into eating them. It’s a nice treat, and for me, it was the right amount. But feel free to double the recipe if you’re really into biscotti.

Chai Biscotti
Printer-friendly recipe
makes ~8 pieces

2 Tbl ground flaxseed meal
6Tbl water
2 Tbl flaxseed oil (or canola oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c flour
¼ c sugar
½ tsp baking powder
pinch salt
½ tsp cardamom
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp freshly (or ground) nutmeg
pinch white pepper (opt)
¼ c sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 F

Add ground flaxseed and water to a mixing bowl, whisk to combine. Add oil and extract. Sift in the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices). Add almonds and stir to just combine.

Line a baking sheet with silicone liner or parchment paper. Shape the dough into a loose rectangular shape. Bake 25 min, flipping sheet halfway through baking time, until the loaf is firm and golden brown.

Remove loaf to cutting board. Reduce oven to 300 F.

Using a serrated slice loaf into biscotti sticks.

Place sticks, cut side up, on baking sheet and return to the oven for 15 minutes more.

Place on wire rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

*Note: you can replace the ground flaxseed and water with 2 eggs

Stuffed Acorn Squash

This was my dinner the other night. For most people this would probably be a great side dish, but I could only eat one of these before I was full. I just threw together a bunch of stuff I had in my fridge. I didn’t measure anything out exactly, I just added things until I had what looked good and I seasoned to taste. Oh my, for being thrown together this was so good. I plan on making this for Thanksgiving, maybe adding an apple and some walnuts (which I didn’t have when I made it this time). This reheats really well, so it can be made in advance and reheated, which for me is a bonus. The brown sugar crusted squash is well complimented by the slightly tart cranberry stuffing. Yum.

Stuffed Acorn Squash
Printer-friendly version

1/2 to 1 butternut squash (depends on size)
~3-4 c dried bread cubes
~1 c fresh cranberries
~4 c vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
3 Tbl butter
marjoram (to taste, ~1-2 tsp)
sage (to taste, ~1-2 tsp)
basil (to taste, ~1-2 tsp)
thyme (to taste, ~1-2 tsp)
salt
pepper
2 acorn squash
~ 4 Tbl brown sugar
pine nuts for garnish, if desired

for the stuffing:
Peel and remove the seeds from the butternut squash, then cube. Arrange on a baking sheet and roast at 375F for 15-20 minutes or until fork tender.

Combine bread cubes, cranberries, and butternut squash together in a baking dish. Microwave the butter til melted, add spices to taste, then pour over bread cubes. Add enough broth to moisten bread crumbs (I used about 3/4 of a carton, then after baking a bit added the rest of the broth). Stir gently to combine. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375F for about 30-45 minutes until the cranberries pop open. Then bake uncovered until golden brown.

for the acorn squash:
Cut each acorn squash in half and remove the seeds. Place flesh side up on a baking sheet. Lightly salt each half, and sprinkle with some brown sugar. Roast at 375 F until tender, about 20 minutes. I like to poke holes in the squash and pop it back in to bake about 5 minutes longer so the brown sugar infuses throughout the squash. Allow squash to cool, then add stuffing. Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve.