Thursday, July 11, 2013

Lavender Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Lavender Honey Frosting


Since making these lifestyle changes and going gluten-free among many other things, I sometimes find myself craving cake.  Given my reaction to gluten products, "cheating" is out of the question as I am very physically intolerant.  My search for a good cake recipe started last September for my own birthday.  I found and experimented with many recipes, but was never fully content with the ones I had encountered.  Months later, I found the recipe for Very Vanilla Cupcakes {using Coconut Flour} from the Comfy Belly blog that features delicious and healthy recipes that work with Paleo, diabetes, food allergies, and other accommodations.  This recipe was the answer I was looking for.  To me, they were the closest I could come to the real deal!  While these cupcakes are not entirely sugar/carb free, they are a wonderful treat and worth the extra little bump of insulin.  Unlike gluten baked goods, these were nicer to my blood glucose levels without that dreaded surge and drop in blood sugars.

I have made these cupcakes many times and find that this is a good staple recipe to play around with.  This post is the result of a little experimentation.  Over many trials, I have discovered: (1) they turn out better with maple syrup than honey (honey gives a drier, denser texture)  (2) organic/cage-free eggs give them a fluffier texture  (3) coconut oil can be tricky to use (it turns from liquid to solid when cold) as it hardens when it is added to cold eggs/maple syrup and this messes with your cupcake texture; I prefer to use grapeseed oil  (4) they are difficult to "veganize" because of the moisture-ratio.  If you get the hang of the original recipe and keep in mind the moisture-sucking characteristics of coconut flour, you can make adjustments to spice it up.  Maybe for future posts, I will reveal how I adapted these into Lemon Poppy Rhubarb Muffins or the Starbucks Chocolate Chip Banana Coffee Cake Muffins...



LAVENDER VANILLA BEAN COCONUT FLOUR CUPCAKES 
(Adapted from ComfyBelly)
Printable Version


WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 eggs
1/3 cup oil or unsalted melted butter (coconut oil, ghee, olive oil, or cooking oil)
1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
seeds from one vanilla bean

1/2 teaspoon culinary-grade lavender buds


DIRECTIONS:
1.  Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Using two separate bowls, combine the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another.  I like to sift the dry together with a sifter so they mix better.  Add the vanilla bean seeds and the lavender buds to the wet bowl.  Mash the lavender buds in really well to release the oils.  
2.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.  This can be done by hand or with a mixer.  Either way, make sure all clumps of flour are well-blended.


3.  Fill 8 cupcake liners about 3/4 of the way with batter.  Note: You must use liners for this recipe or they will stick to your cupcake pan.
4.  Bake for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Cool and then frost.  Store covered for a few days at room temperature, or in the refrigerator for a few days.  Makes 8 cupcakes.



LAVENDER HONEY FROSTING

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
a pinch of culinary-grade lavender buds
4 tablespoons palm shortening

DIRECTIONS:
1.  In a small bowl, combine the honey, vanilla, and remaining lavender buds.  Again, mash the lavender buds into the mixture to release the fragrance/flavor.  Allow to sit for a little while.  
2.  Add the palm shortening to mixture and blend well by hand or by mixer.




3.  Frost your cupcakes and enjoy!  :-)




Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs


This is my first attempt at a food blog post, so please bear with me.  If you have any feedback or suggestions, feel free to leave them!  Things here are still in development.

Since making all of my diet changes, I have made an attempt to try out different kinds of meats. One kind of meat I could never really bring myself to like was chicken thighs or dark meat.  I have always liked chicken breast with no problems, but the other parts just seemed to have an off taste to me or they are too fatty.  A few months ago, I attempted to get over this by making oven-roasted garlic chicken thighs.  My husband liked them, but I was not a fan!

This recipe post then comes from my second attempt to like chicken thighs.  The difference this time is I purchased the organic/cage-free version.  Now, I'm pretty self-conscious about this shift in preference and identity from standard American diet to less processed, more conscientious and higher quality foods.  I used to scoff at pretentious labels like "organic" "cage-free" "free-range" "grass-fed" "eco-friendly" "non-GMO" as snobby douchebaggery (Portlandia "organic", anyone?).  In fact, I still do in some ways, as I grapple with my own upbringing and how this part of our status has an effect on how we are able to eat, but I suppose this may be another blog post in itself.  I thought I would give the organic a try because I recall reading in many Paleo blogs that it would be a good idea to buy fattier meat cuts in organic form because the animals store many of the hormones, chemicals, and stress in their fat stores (yum...) and it shows in the taste.  So here goes...



CILANTRO LIME CHICKEN THIGHS     
Printable Version

What You'll Need:

1 lb. Boneless Chicken Thighs
2 medium-size Limes
2 T. chopped Cilantro
1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt
1/4 teaspoon of Garlic Powder
2 T. Coconut Oil or Butter

Directions:
1.  Rinse your chicken thighs, sprinkle some salt over them, and leave them in a bowl or dish.  Rinse, dry, and coarsely chop your cilantro.  The limes can simply be cut in half.  Squeeze the juice of three of these lime halves over your chicken.  Add your cilantro to the chicken, rubbing it in either by hand or using a fork.  Poking holes into the meat with your fork while you're doing this helps to get the flavor in even better.  Allow this to marinate for at least 15 minutes.



2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and turn your stove top burner to medium heat.  Using a dutch oven or cast iron skillet, heat your coconut oil or butter (I cheated and used a small amount of butter. I'm still testing exactly how dairy-intolerant I am) on the stove top.  Now saute your chicken thighs until they have some brown on them and flip them over, about five minutes for each side.  



3.  When they are done sauteing, use your last lime wedge to squeeze more juice over the chicken breasts.  Sprinkle the garlic powder over them and some leftover cilantro if you'd like.  You may also add more salt to them if desired.  Cover with the lid or foil and place in the oven for 20 minutes.  I'm sure this recipe could also be grilled.  Remove and enjoy amazingly juicy and delicious chicken thighs!  



I paired this with Native Harvest wild rice and homegrown baby arugula with honey and olive oil for dressing.  Nya:weh!