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Raspberry Cheese Blintz Bake (Gluten and Sugar Free)

22 Feb

Saturday morning and you don’t want to have to make breakfast AND lunch?

Problem solved. This protein-packed and low-carb breakfast is satisfying and great on its own or with some crispy turkey bacon. This particular recipe is adapted from Taste of Home’s recipe, which combines raspberry and orange flavors – but I’d experiment with different berry/citrus combinations. I tried lemon & blueberry, and I think my next adventure would be blackberry and lime. The citrus is very subtle, and the berries can be served fresh right on top, or you can use frozen berries to make a sauce during the 40 minutes while this is in the oven.

The best part of this recipe might be that you make it almost entirely in a blender.

Raspberry Cheese Blintz Bake (Gluten and Sugar Free)

1/2 cup orange juice (or citrus juice of your choice)
6 eggs
2 egg whites (save the yolks for the filling)
1-1/2 cups sour cream
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup xylitol or erythritol
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash salt

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Put all of the above ingredients in a blender and mix until they are well combined. Pour all but 2 cups of this mixture into a greased 9×13 pan. Rinse out your blender, then fill it with:

2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups cottage cheese
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup xylitol or erythritol

Blend this mixture well, which should take 3 minutes or so. You don’t want any cottage cheese chunks left. Once it’s blended well, drizzle it into the pan with the egg mixture, trying to make sure it’s distributed evenly throughout the pan. Use a spatula to marble them together a bit. Take the two cups of egg mixture that you left out and pour slowly over the top of the blintz, using the backside of a spoon to help it pour evenly if you need to. Once that’s done, pop it in the oven for 40-45 minutes.

While that’s in the oven, you can make your topping. If you want it to be a lighter breakfast, I’d just make a little bit of sweetened whipped cream and mix in fresh blueberries and strawberries. If you’re making this as a kind of “main course” for your breakfast, go with a berry sauce. Warning: seeded berries, such as blackberries and raspberries, will need strained. No reason to go through all this work and get seeds in your teeth constantly!

In a small saucepan, combine:

1 16 oz package (2 cups) of frozen berries – I used raspberries
3/4 c citrus juice – I used orange juice

Let these thaw together until the berries are completely “melted.” Pour this mixture through a strainer to remove the seeds and berry pulp. You’ll probably have to get in there with your hands to press the berries to get the most juice out of them. Put your berry and citrus juice mixture into the saucepan, and add:

1 tbsp arrowroot powder
1/4 c xylitol or erythritol
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp butter

Put the pan over medium-low heat, and stir every once in a while until it simmers. Once it starts to boil slowly, constantly stir with a whisk. In a couple minutes, it will begin to thicken. Once it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, take it off heat and let it sit while your cheese blintz bakes.

Once the cheese blintz is done, let it sit out of the oven for at least 10 minutes. Cut the blintz into 12 servings, which 5 people will eat with varying amounts of guilt, just because it looks bad.

Pour a generous amount of sauce over the blintz, and top with whipped cream – you’ll be set until dinner!

Orange Almond Blueberry Muffins (Gluten & Sugar Free)

16 Feb

Problem: I keep making things planning to put them up on the blog.

They keep getting eaten before I can take a picture.

Luckily, I made these when no one was around and snapped the pictures right away.

These muffins are adapted from the cookbook “Baked” – a really great recipe that I’m going to have to try with carbalose flour, because honestly I’m still working on how to get the muffins to have the right texture. For now, I’ll post the recipe and see if any of you make it, then we’ll see where we come up. I found a muffin TOP pan, which is genius, because it is common knowledge that if faced with a whole muffin or two muffin tops, you would choose the muffin tops. This could work better as a coffeecake as well – I’ll try that next time.

Orange Almond Blueberry Muffins (adapted from Baked by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito)

1 tbsp orange zest
the juice of a large orange
1/3 c sour cream
2 large egg whites
4 tbsp melted and cooled butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
2 1/4 c almond flour
1/2 c xylitol or eryithritol (I’ll be doing a post soon about the baking science behind these sugars)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c fresh blueberries (if using frozen, run water over them in a sieve until they are thawed and the water runs clear and either let them dry or toss them in flour before you put them into the batter, saving a few for the topping)
handful of sliced or slivered almonds for decoration

Preheat your oven to 325°F. Get out 12 silicone baking cups, a muffin top pan, or lightly grease a normal muffin pan.

In a food processor, mix up your dry ingredients. This will help to get the almond flour ground up really well and if you are using a granulated xylitol or erythritol that has big crystals, this will help to get those a little smaller. Transfer your dry ingredients to a mixing bowl. In another bowl, mix your wet ingredients together – egg whites, sour cream, butter, extracts, and orange juice.

I decided to freshly squeeze my orange juice – use a half cup of orange juice from concentrate if you have that on hand instead of oranges.

In your dry ingredients, make a little well and pour your wet ingredients in. Mix this just until the ingredients are all combined, then put your blueberries in, saving some for sprinkling on the top right before baking if you want. I used slivered almonds instead.

Pour the batter into your desired baking vessels. Pop it in the oven for 30 minutes, and enjoy once they’ve cooled! My initial thought is that these taste like Trix cereal. In other words, they are delicious.

Blueberry Walnut Bars (Sugar & Gluten Free)

10 Feb

I’ll be honest. The entire month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I ate whatever I wanted. I hadn’t done that in years, and there were a few moments in that month where it felt especially good to just eat a full-sugar, full-fat pastry right out of the pretty glass case at Rembrandt’s Coffee House in Eagle, Idaho. I could have gone for the tiramisu, the giant bacon chocolate chip cookies, the caramel pecan bars, the pumpkin cream cheese filled french toast with rum sauce… oh wait, I did go for that one – and let me tell you, it was so worth it. But that’s another recipe for a skinnier time in my life. The point is, I went for the Blueberry Walnut Bars. Because they’re freaking delicious.

It’s so satisfying to take something amazing you ate at a restaurant and make it at home – healthier. If you make the full no-bake cheesecake recipe from the Cheesecake Filled Chocolate Covered Strawberries, you’ll have a lot of cheesecake left over. Never a bad thing – especially when there are so many good uses for cheesecake filling. Another plus about this recipe is that blueberries will be in season soon, and so this is a great recipe you can make that is a. inexpensive, b. low-carb, and c. no one will know the difference. Seriously. I came home twice to an empty pan of these, when I had SO been looking forward to eating one… It turns out people ate them for breakfast. And a little something after lunch. And dinner. Get out of my kitchen.

The “prerequisite” recipe to making this one is for the graham cracker crumbs, and the recipe I use is found at All Day I Dream About Food – one of the best alternative baking blogs I’ve found. These are great to have on hand, so I’d suggest making a couple batches at a time. Or, if you can find graham cracker crumbs that suit your health needs, use those instead!

Blueberry Walnut Bars

Walnut Crust

3/4 c. almond flour
3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
3/4 c. crushed walnuts
6 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon, optional

Preheat your oven to 350°F. In a bowl, melt the butter and add in the vanilla and cinnamon. Add in your dry ingredients and mix well. Press the mixture into the bottom of an 11×7 pan and bake it for 15 minutes, or until the top begins to brown. Let this cool while you prepare the cheesecake and blueberry layers.

Once your crust has cooled, spread cheesecake filling into it. Here’s the recipe in case you missed it from Monday:

Vanilla Bean No Bake Cheesecake

16 oz Neufchatel cheese at room temperature
3/4 c. xylitol, erythritol, or sugar
1 1/4 c. heavy whipping cream, whipped stiff
1/2 tbsp good vanilla extract
Several drops of non-bitter stevia extract (to taste, darling)
1/2 tbsp vanilla bean paste or the insides scraped out of one vanilla bean

Cream your Neufchatel cheese and your sweetener together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy whipping cream until stiff. Fold in the whipped cream to your Neufchatel cheese mixture, then add in your flavorings and more stevia to taste.

Blueberry Topping

1 1/2 c. frozen blueberries (you can do a mix of frozen and fresh if you prefer)
1/2 c. orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp arrowroot powder

Bring the blueberries and orange juice to a simmer in a small saucepan. Once all the blueberries have thawed, add in the vanilla extract and the arrowroot powder, which is a healthy sauce thickener and will act like corn starch. Let the mixture simmer for several minutes, stirring occasionally, as it thickens. once it’s reached a nice thick consistency, put it in the fridge and let it chill for a few hours, or if you are feeling impatient put it right on top of the cheesecake layer and let it melt and swirl into the cheesecake.

Clearly, I was feeling impatient.

Refrigerate the bars for 30 minutes to an hour, then cut them up and enjoy!

Cheesecake-Filled Chocolate Covered Strawberries (Almost Sugar Free)

8 Feb

If you make these for a party, have a backup plan in case they don’t make it. Have a padlock on your fridge until their time comes. Trust me – you can’t trust yourself with these.

Most of the posts this week will be about no-bake cheesecake and it’s many uses. I used the same recipe across the board, and it goes a little something like this:

Vanilla Bean No Bake Cheesecake

16 oz Neufchatel cheese at room temperature
3/4 c. xylitol, erythritol, or sugar
1 1/4 c. heavy whipping cream, whipped stiff
1/2 tbsp good vanilla extract
Several drops of non-bitter stevia extract (to taste, darling)
1/2 tbsp vanilla bean paste or the insides scraped out of one vanilla bean

Cream your Neufchatel cheese and your sweetener together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy whipping cream until stiff. Fold in the whipped cream to your Neufchatel cheese mixture, then add in your flavorings and more stevia to taste. Voila! You’re done with that part! This can be used for a myriad of recipes.

Now, for the strawberries. Cut the tops off of the strawberries and use a paring knife to dig out the middle of the berry.

In a bowl held over a simmering pan of water, melt together one bar of good quality dark chocolate (85% cacao content is the best; my favorite brand is Green & Black’s Organic) along with two tablespoons of butter and 10-15 drops of stevia extract.

Dip them strawberries. I used a fork in the middle of the strawberry and then just swirled it around in the chocolate, using my fingers to pull it gently off of the fork. Set them on parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Silicon baking mats, by the way, are the single best baking investment I’ve made this year.

I put the strawberries in the freezer while get ready to pipe the filling through a pastry bag. You want to make the cheesecake filling just before getting it into the strawberries, while its still soft.

Deliciousness.

Once you’re done, put them in the fridge for a few hours if you can wait that long. Otherwise – enjoy!

Swiss Meringue Buttercream (Sugar & Gluten Free)

4 Feb

Discovering swiss meringue buttercream was a liberating experience. Not only does it have a super-indulgent mouthfeel, but it can be made sugar free so much more easily than your traditional buttercream – you’re sacrificing nothing.

The method behind swiss meringue buttercream is basically that you take perfect meringue and beat an ungodly amount of butter into your sweetened egg whites. The result is a fluffy and creamy cake topper that hardens just a little bit when refrigerated. You’ll want to make sure your pastries are fully cooled before frosting them, since this will melt more easily than traditional buttercream – and you’ll want plenty of time as well.

Martha Stewart’s website probably has the best recipe for buttercream, but be warned – it calls for two pounds of butter. I only made a quarter of that recipe, and it was enough to frost my Secret Ingredient Chocolate Cake from yesterday’s post.

I’ll be making some cupcakes for the Superbowl this Sunday, and I’m going to try making a 1/2 recipe to frost the cupcakes – I’ll also be trying to do a chocolate/vanilla swirl with it.

Here’s my recipe, adapted from Martha Stewart’s Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe:

1 cup of xylitol or erythritol
5 egg whites at room temperature
1 lb (4 sticks) of butter, at room temperature, cut into 1 tbsp chunks
1/2 tbsp natural vanilla extract, add any other extracts or flavorings in limited quantities (remember, you can’t take it out once it’s in!)

A note about the butter: since it’s a main player in this recipe, get good quality butter! Get the best you can afford – Tillamook butter is my standard but if I’m feeling spiffy I use Kerrygold’s Irish Butter. It’s expensive, but its worth the two dollars more when you’re going for a buttercream that isn’t going to be waxy. Check for manufacturer’s coupons online or in the store if you can, and it will help offset those finer food costs.

Simmer some water in a medium sized saucepan. In a non-reactive bowl, constantly whisk the egg whites and sweetener together over the simmering water. As the bowl heats up, the sweetener will dissolve into the eggs. This should take about five minutes, and while you don’t want to cook the eggs, you will want them to be hot to the touch.

A note on meringue: start the whisking out slowly if you want a creamy meringue. What you’re doing is unraveling the proteins so that once you start mixing on high speed, the eggs will have smaller air bubbles and you’ll have a good texture at the end. Throw this mixture right in to your mixer and let it go for 7-10 minutes, or until stiff peaks form and it’s completely cooled. You can add 1/4 tsp of cream of tartar if the eggs aren’t stiffening well – but be sure not to over-beat, or you’ll have a dry, grainy meringue. And we’re making buttercream… you need soft & silky meringue.

And now is the fun part. You can switch the mixer attachment to the paddle now. While beating on medium speed, throw in one chunk of butter at a time. Wait about 20 seconds in between butter chunks. As you add the butter, you’ll probably see your mixture start to curdle – all is not lost! I actually got to this point and threw out a batch, which is not advised. That’s a lot of butter to throw away. Just wait for it to come together – it will eventually.

Troubleshooting: If your butter is too warm it will be harder for it to come together – sticking the bowl in an ice bath may be necessary. On the converse, if your butter was too cold to start you’ll just have to wait until it softens in the beating process.

Once you’ve reached the point where your butter and eggs have harmonized into one delicious whole, you can experiment with colors and flavors until you’ve hit your limit.

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Cake

4 Feb

This cake is a stanchion of truth for all those people that think healthy cooking can’t taste as good or better than conventional methods.

I adapted the recipe from Healthy Indulgences. She’s great, if you haven’t been over to her blog – I highly recommend her recipes and her way of thinking!

My cake didn’t fluff up enough to cut in half like hers did, but it did turn out super moist and with absolutely no bean flavor.

If you hadn’t guessed it… black beans are the secret ingredient.

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Cake

1 15oz can of organic black beans, drained
5 organic eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract – if you want variations, add an additional teaspoon of mint, almond, orange, or raspberry extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
6 tbsp butter
3/4 c. erythritol or xylitol (I used a mixture)
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder, the best you can afford
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour or cocoa powder a 9 inch round pan and cut some parchment paper to line the bottom of the pan. Make sure the parchment paper is greased well if you are using it.

Put the drained beans, 3 eggs, vanilla, stevia, and salt into a blender. Blend on high speed until it is completely pureed, with no chunks. This took about 3 minutes for me, and I went a little longer to be safe… the ultimate failure point in this cake would be for someone to get a bean chunk in their slice of cake. Whisk your cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda all together in another bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and erythritol together until light & fluffy, and add the remaining eggs in one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated between each one. Add the bean mixture to the butter and egg mixture, and beat it until its well mixed. Finally, add your cocoa mixture and make sure its all mixed together well. Pour into your pan, tap the pan on the counter a few times, and stick it in your preheated oven for 40 minutes. Let the cake cool for a while after cooking, at least 10 minutes. You’ll want to let it set overnight to get rid of the bean flavor, so don’t be in too much of a hurry to do anything with it.

We’ll talk about icing tomorrow!

New Classic Tiramisu (Gluten & Sugar Free)

1 Feb

About a week ago, Jon re-discovered his old espresso maker just in time for the maintenance phase of our diet. I had never made tiramisu before, but it seemed like something we could do low-carb pretty easily without sacrificing flavor. Even as a low carb dessert this is probably one of the most decadent tiramisu dishes I have ever had – we were really impressed with the results!

New Classic Tiramisu

Makes 4 large ramekins, should probably be 6-8 servings…

Ladyfinger Crusts:

1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. heavy cream
2 large eggs
1/2 c. xylitol or erythritol
1/2 c. almond flour
1/4 c. carbalose flour (or coconut flour if you eat gluten-free)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375°F and coat a 9×13 in non-stick cooking spray. In a small pan, melt the butter and mix it with the cream until it steams. In a large bowl, beat the eggs on high speed until they pale in color, being careful not to under-beat. Right now you are ensuring that your crust will be light, springy, and spongy to soak up the espresso. While the eggs are being fluffed, go ahead and get your dry ingredients together in a bowl – your almond flour, carbalose or coconut flour, and baking powder. Once the eggs are ready, gradually beat in the sweetener until combined with the eggs. Slowly add the dry ingredients until just mixed, then add in your cream, butter, and vanilla. Pour it all into a pan and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cake is springy to the touch. Let this cool while you mix up the cream filling & pull your espresso shots.

Cream Filling:

2 8oz packages of cream or Neufchatel cheese, softened
1/3 c. erythritol or xylitol
1/4 c. rum, or 1/2 tsp rum extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream, whipped until very stiff

In a large bowl beat the cream cheese until its… creamy. Add in the sweetener until well combined, then do the same with the rum and vanilla. In a separate bowl beat the heavy whipping cream until stiff, then fold it into the cream cheese mixture. Taste, and add liquid stevia extract if needed. In a separate bowl, take about 3/4 c. espresso and mix it with 1-2 tbsp of erythritol.

Assembly:

You can essentially put this together however you want; we happen to have a round cookie cutter that cuts rounds that fit perfectly in our ramekins. So I’ll just tell you how we do it. Cut out 8 rounds from your ladyfinger crust. Put one round in the bottom of each ramekin, then soak the crusts in espresso. Put about 1/8 of the cream mixture into each ramekin, smoothing the top out. Put another ladyfinger crust on top of that, and soak it in the espresso mixture. Divide the rest of the cream mixture out between your ramekins, and smooth it on top. Lightly dust with cocoa powder, and if you have the willpower, chill for at least 4 hours! The longer it chills, the longer the flavors will develop. I’ll tag this as guiltless, but it’s really not at all guiltless if you are watching your saturated fat intake. In fact, I’m not going to even try to figure out the nutritional information. The best you can do is use Neufchatel cheese, organic or raw heavy cream, and organic cage-free eggs.

A note about carbalose flour: I’ve decided to give carbalose flour a try. Its essentially modified wheat that leaves you with almost all insoluble fiber and proteins, with just a few starch carbs leftover that your body will react to as carbohydrates. I think in limited quantities, this isn’t the most dangerous thing in the world. It should be treated like any other processed food!