Marinated Grilled Denver Steak

IMG_1358“Holy sh*t!” my nineteen year old daughter Kelly blurted out after taking one bite of steak.

“How dare you not make this before?!”

Actually I had, only without the marinade. A few months ago, I bought denver steaks and simply grilled them with some salt and pepper. She didn’t like it. Honestly, neither did I. The steak was dry and slightly tough even though it was still pink in the center and didn’t appear over cooked.

So when Hannah, the adorable blue eyed blond hair extremely knowledgeable gal at Dundore and Heister, recommended denver steak saying it was her favorite, I didn’t have the heart tell we’d already tried it and didn’t like it.

Maybe marinating it will make a difference I thought and decided to give the denver cut a second chance. Yet, I only had two hours before dinner and wasn’t sure if it would really make a difference. Truth be told, I’d gotten kind of lazy about recipes and forethought when it came to cooking lately.

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I whipped up a quick combination of vinegar, fish sauce (a new favorite ingredient), oil and herbs de provence. Wow, delicious doesn’t do it justice! The difference was night and day. Every morsel burst with flavor and tender juicy goodness.  So this experiment taught me, it’s all about the marinade. A little extra planning goes a long way!

Wondering what denver steak is? Check it out here. Denver steak is much more reasonably priced then many other cuts of beef and once marinaded just as juicy and tasty. To die for, really. No sh*t!

(By the way my daughter doesn’t swear much so this really was an authentic affirmation of it’s deliciousness :)

Marinated Denver Steak 

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 clove garlic minced
1 1/2 teaspoons herbs de provence
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 grass fed denver steaks about half pound each

Place marinade in a large re-sealable bag. Add steaks and marinate for 2-4 hours. Discard marinade and grill steaks at 400 for 10-15 minutes testing for doneness. Allow steak to sit for 10 minutes before cutting.

YUM!

 

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto (Dairy Free)

IMG_1052The other day I saw a recipe for pesto that I’d never heard of before. It was from a twitter post by Epicurious ( I love twitter by the way…..). They referred to it as summer’s irresistible pesto, pesto made with corn. It sounded intriguing even though I don’t eat corn and inspired me to write about one of my favorite pesto creations – sun dried tomato pesto.

You see, the fun thing about pesto is that there are so many ways to make it. There are basically four main ingredients:  greens,  nuts, garlic, and olive oil.

Fresh lemon juice is an optional addition that adds a nice dimension. And very often cheese is in pesto too, but it’s not necessary. In fact I’ve made cheese- less pesto in cooking classes, and every time people are shocked at how good it is.

IMG_1056Greens: basil is the traditional green of pesto. Some other herbs or greens that can be used – cilantro, spinach, parsley, swiss chard, or arugula. I made mine with this baby basil that is super cute and full of flavor.

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Nuts – pine nuts are the most commonly used. Walnuts, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts are also all delicious.

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This recipe was inspired by one I saw while  browsing through a friends cookbook but didn’t remember the name of the book or the recipe details. So, I took the basic concept and made my own version. I used brazil nuts here but have made it with pine nuts too.  The brazil nuts make a thicker pesto and the pine nuts make a thinner sweeter tasting pesto. Both are to die for!

Try this pesto stirred into zucchini noodles or beans. Tastes great roasted onto of salmon as well. The options are endless :)

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

1 jar oil packed organic sun dried tomatoes
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup brazil nuts
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/2- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

Place nuts, garlic and tomatoes in food processor. Pulse until combined and texture resembles even gravel.  Add basil leaves and pulse until chopped and integrated with nut mixture.  In a slow steady stream, add the olive oil. Add more as needed to get to the consistency you like it. Pulse in the lemon juice, salt and pepper.

To make the pesto creamier, add 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk, yum!

 

 

Lessons From Vacation: Be Where You Are

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So I’ve been away on vacation the past week. You would think vacation is the perfect time to let go of doing and just be. Be in the moment as if time didn’t exist, like when you can’t remember what day it is…..

But last night with five days left, I thought I’m ready to go home now.

At first, my longing to be home felt like it was because I missed the comforts and routine of my own house. Which I do. Yet I’m in one of my favorite places in the whole world, Nantucket, where I’ve spent summers with family ever since I was a teenager. It’s also the magical place where my love story began thirty two years ago when we walked the same cobblestone streets and lay on the same big beautiful beach.

So as I pondered this thought of wanting to be home, I realized I was simply overstimulated by all the activity and family interactions. Taking it one step further, it dawned on me that I wasn’t being present. The urge to go home was a feeling of wanting to escape because I hadn’t dealt with the swirling emotions in my mind or paused to reconnect with myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly grateful for the many blissful hours I’ve enjoyed at the beach. The relaxing sound of the ocean waves crashing on the sand and feeling the soft salt water mist gently blowing on my face soothe my soul. I’ve had moments of timeless wonder – watching the tiny legs of little sandpiper birds dancing along the water’s edge, being hypnotized by the sunshine sparkling on the ripples of the ocean, and feeling smooth sand on my fingertips and toes as I sit for hours doing nothing. Unplugged but at the same time tuned into the natural energy of the universe.

The lesson I learned in this reflection of was that I know wherever I am I can find peace in coming home to my own spirit and soul. What I’m referring to is that place deep down inside that’s often forgotten. That is the place where all the magic comes from. It’s love, pure and simple.

I also know that whatever is bothering me, there is always something in that situation that I’m supposed to learn about me. So I ask myself what is this teaching me? How I can be happy and free in spirit not stuck in thought, worry or fear?

Whenever you tune into love, its much easier to be present, it just flows.

So, where ever you are, whatever you are doing,  be all there, owning who you are and loving you.

xo

Olive Oil and Parsley Focaccia (Gluten and Grain Free)

IMG_0817When I gave up gluten the one thing I got asked the most was how do you not eat bread? I think it’s one of the hardest things for people to go without. Because I felt so much lighter and happier not eating it, giving it up wasn’t a problem for me.

There are so many options available today that weren’t available when we first went gluten free fifteen years ago. This is super exciting. Not just because of the plethora of choices but also because it means more people are eating like us, yay!

IMG_0811Over the years, I’ve made a few recipes, but none were as delicious as this focaccia recipe from The Joy of Gluten Free Sugar Free Baking by Peter Reinhart and Denene Wallace. It’s dense but not filling. My husband loved it too, and he’s not even gluten free! Making bread is somewhat of a labor of love, but this recipe is worth the time! What’s your favorite gluten or grain free bread?

Rosemary Herbed Oil

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2 teaspoons fresh minced rosemary
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Focaccia Dough

3 cups blanched almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup unsweetened almond or other milk

Preheat oven to 400. Line a 9×13 inch baking dish with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Mist the bottom and sides with cooking oil spray (I use coconut or grape seed oil spray).

Make herbed oil by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl, whisking to combine. Set aside.

Mix together almond flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt in one bowl. In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites for three to five minutes or until they start to form stiff peaks. Add milk to flour mixture and stir until batter is smooth. Gently fold in the egg whites with a spatula, being careful not to deflate the egg whites so dough stays slightly fluffy.

Transfer dough to pan and gently spread it into an even layer using the spatula. Dip you fingers into the herbed oil then with your fingers dimple the top of the dough. Drizzle the herbed oil over the surface of the dough.

Bake for twenty five minutes. Rotate and bake for another twenty minutes until golden brown and springy when pressed in the center.  Let cool before cutting. Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container or bag.

Homemade Mayonnaise

IMG_1274The idea of making my own mayonnaise was not something that ever really inspired me. Maybe because I tend to be satisfied when things are plain, and I don’t eat many sandwiches. But when I was out to eat recently and had a lobster roll made with homemade mayonnaise (that didn’t upset my stomach), I got excited about the idea of making my own mayonnaise.

Don’t get me wrong there are some great options on store shelves these days. Take for example, egg free Vegenaise products. I thought their grapeseed oil mayonnaise looked great until I read the ingredients and saw soy protein and brown rice syrup (as a sweetener). Then there’s the exciting offerings from Hellmann’s Real Mayonniase. Hellmann’s is a classic, and they now make a mayonaise with olive oil. Only it’s not made with just olive oil, there’s more soybean oil than olive oil in the ingredients, and it contains sugar. Enough reason for me to skip the mayo!

IMG_1265Unless, of course it’s made with really real ingredients like this mayonnaise recipe from the Slim Palate cookbook. For my version, I made the mayonnaise with “magic oil”.  That’s what my daughter Kelly calls it. Because it’s magic, she laps it up with her fingers off the plate after sprinkling a little sea salt ontop of the oil. Then she says, “Mom, this oil is magic.” What can I say, it makes her feel good. She senses immediately that she is more alert and focused. It also helps that she listens to her body and knows when it’s happy with the food she’s eating :)

It’s a subtle thing that most of us won’t notice while we are eating, but the right oils make a huge difference in how we feel and with inflammation inside our body. In case you want to know more about magic oil, check out Body Bio’s article on magic oil here.

For this recipe you will an immersion blender, but if you don’t have one it can be made in a mini food processor. Don’t worry it’s actually super easy to make, I promise! Be sure to pour the oil in slowly and be patient as it magically thickens into creamy mayonnaise. Trust me, it’s totally worth the effort and that’s from someone who doesn’t love mayo!

Creamy Mayonnaise

1 egg yolk, preferably organic cage free
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt to taste
1 cup Body Bio Oil, extra virgin olive oil, or avocado oil

Place egg yolk, lemon juice, water, mustard, and salt in a flat bottomed glass dish or bowl that is at least the width of the immersion blender.

Place immersion blender in the bowl so that it’s base is touching the bottom. Turn it on and slowly pour in the oil. Blend while slowly pouring in the oil until the ingredients are fully emulsified.

Makes about one cup.
Store in and air tight container in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.

Dairy Free Mango Icecream

IMG_1248The other day in honor of National Ice Cream day, I made some mango ice-cream. It was the perfect day for it too. Ninety five degrees, sunny and humid outside. And it was a Sunday. I was trying to mimic an ice-cream that we used to buy, So Delicious Passionate Mango flavored ice-cream made with coconut milk, agave, mango puree and passionfruit juice (and of course the obligatory guar gum and carob bean gum). Doesn’t that sound delicious, so delicious?! It was one of my daughter’s favorites, until they discontinued the flavor.

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To recreate it, I made mine with just three ingredients, frozen organic mango, raw honey and homemade cashew milk. I was missing the passionfruit which my daughter must have noticed since it didn’t turn out like the So Delicious version. My sister who was over for Sunday dinner loved my mango ice-cream so much that she texted me the next day asking if she could stop by for some more!

For the base, you can use any milk you want. Almond, cashew or coconut milk all work well. A can of full fat coconut milk makes delicious ice cream. What’s your favorite dairy free ice-cream?

Dairy Free Mango Ice-cream

2 cups unsweetened cashew milk
1 1/2 −2 cups frozen organic mangoes
2 −4 tablespoons raw honey, depending on how sweet you want it

Put all the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Taste to make sure it’s the right constancy, smooth and pretty thick.  Add more sweetener if needed. Pour into ice-cream maker and let the magic begin! Store in air-tight containers in the freezer for up to five days.

Easy Grilled Zucchini

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Whether or not you have a plethora of zucchini growing in your garden, grilling it is one of the tastiest ways to eat zucchini. One thing I love about cooking and eating vegetables is making them different ways – raw, roasted, grilled, sautéed, or steamed (which I rarely do).  One vegetable two or three different ways feels like two or three vegetables instead of the same boring one. Pretty cool, huh?

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Grilling is a true summer treat even though plenty of people do it year round.  Our grill sits on our deck which is enveloped by just enough trees to give us privacy but still let the sunshine in. I love the light at the end of the day between four and eight o’clock. It’s a relaxing peaceful light. Grilling dinner is a great excuse to be outside and bask in that light while being serenaded by birds, all making the chore of cooking hardly a chore at all.

To keep the zucchini from falling between the slats of the grill, I slice it length wise like the shape of a fish fillet.  There’s no need to marinade the zucchini ahead of time. It can be sliced and ready to go in minutes.

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One tendency with vegetables is to cook them too long as if we are worried about killing something in the vegetable as we do with meat.  When it comes to vegetables, my rule of thumb is don’t overcook unless  you like the resulting mushy texture.  I like to cook them for less time then longer if need be.  You can never undercook a vegetable, but you can easily over cook it.  Grilled zucchini tastes great with some pesto drizzled over top or simply some slivered fresh basil with a little extra olive oil.   What’s your favorite way to eat zucchini?

Easy Grilled Zucchini

2 large zucchini – green or yellow
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon herbs de provence or italian seasoning
1 clove garlic minced
Coarse sea salt
Fresh basil

Heat grill to 400 degrees. Cut ends off zucchini and slice lengthwise into strips about 1/4 inch thick.  Place on a platter, plate or in a ziploc bag.  Pour oil over zucchini and sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side until tender with prominent grill marks on each side.  Garnish with fresh slivered basil or pesto.

Serves 2-4

Perfect Roasted Asparagus

IMG_1108Roasting vegetables is one of the yummiest ways to eat them.  I’ve had parents tell me they can’t get their kids to eat vegetables.  Then, as soon as they tried roasting the vegetables, bam, all of the sudden their kids love green beans and asparagus.  It’s like magic!

The other day on Facebook, I posted a funny picture of my dog Sofie sniffing and trying to reach the bone on my dinner plate.  On the plate was part of a pork chop and roasted asparagus topped with cashew cheese.  But the photo was far from a fancy or creative food styling plate.  It was a half eaten meal.

Yet, a friend commented about how her asparagus never looks as good as mine did in the photo.  Surprised but appreciative of her compliment, it inspired me to post my simple, super easy trick for perfect roasted asparagus.

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The trick is to not let the asparagus cook too long. That way it stays green and has a slight crunch to it.  I don’t like when asparagus gets mushy and stringy. How long you cook the asparagus is up to you.  Start with the recommended time, and then you can always cook it longer if you want the asparagus to be softer.  Keep it simple and cook with love :)

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Perfect Roasted Asparagus

2 bunches green asparagus
2 tablespoons grapeseed or coconut oil
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
fresh ground pepper
fresh squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450.  Cut or break off tough bottoms of asparagus stalk, about two inches from the end of the stem.  For an extra special touch, use a vegetable peeler and peel another inch or two of the bottom of the asparagus stem.  This helps make it tender.  ( I rarely do this, but thought I mention it anyway).

Place asparagus on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 5 -7 minutes, depending on your oven.  Pour lemon juice over top once it’s done cooking.

Serves 4

Celebrating Freedom

Image 1Happy Birthday America!

Independence day, as so poignantly displayed by fireworks exploding in the sky, sparks feelings of exuberant freedom.  It reminds us of the liberties we are so blessed to enjoy because of our ancestors passionate quest for independence. Celebrating our heritage with friends and family is one of the highlights of the year.

But freedom isn’t just about being able to do whatever we want.  Real freedom is about being true to ourselves and doing things that free our spirit.

Sometimes there’s an illusion of freedom with indulgence.  Often the center of celebration focuses on food and tempts us to indulge because it’s our right. When really choosing not to indulge can give you more freedom.

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Opening up to the same feeling of independence through things other than food can be extremely satisfying and much more rewarding, so much so that you forget all about the food.

Now I’m not saying to not enjoy some good food this holiday.  I’m just suggesting to shift the perspective away from food as a way to celebrate our freedom.

One way to start by freeing yourself from any emotional burdens.  Forgive someone even if you don’t like their behavior, past or present.  Let go of expectations and comparisons and find your own sense of contentment and peace within.  Celebrate accomplishments based on your own measurements that align with your core values and desires.

Have some fun today and let your spirit run free!

Dance.  Sing.  Play.  Honor. Hug.  Love.

xo

Almond Flour Pancakes (Gluten and Dairy Free)

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Pancakes make the perfect breakfast for a Sunday morning or any time during the lazy days of summer.  My husband loves pancakes more than anyone else in our house.  He grew on pancakes for weekend breakfasts.  In fact, his dad still insists on making pancakes or waffles when we spend the night at their house.  Unlike the fluffy Bisquick pancakes I had as a kid, his dad’s pancakes are thin with crispy edges and smell amazing! Hot off the griddle, there’s almost no better comfort food!

For years, my daughters and I envied my husband (their dad) gobbling stacks of his dad’s pancakes. One daughter couldn’t eat them because they gave her migraines.  The other daughter has celiac disease so they were not an option for her, plus she only recently started eating eggs again.

When she was able to tolerate eggs, I made this recipe.  It opened up a whole new normal for weekend breakfasts.  Best of all, the pancakes came close to looking like his dad’s even though they are made with a completely different set of ingredients.  As an added bonus, this recipe won’t leave you feeling like there’s a brick in your stomach or ready to go back to bed!

What’s your favorite weekend breakfast?

Almond Flour Pancakes

1 cup almond flour
1 tablespoon honey
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons coconut or other milk
pinch of cinnamon
1 -2 tablespoons coconut oil, for cooking

Stir all ingredients except the coconut oil together in a small bowl.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Heat oil in a large non sick frying pan or griddle over medium high heat.   Once a drop of water sizzles in the pan, it’s ready for pancakes.  Add batter, two tablespoons per pancake.  Cook over medium heat about three minutes per side, flipping once pancake is formed.  Add more oil to the pan as needed.  Serve with fresh berries and melted honey or maple syrup.
Fun extras:  add 1/2 cup frozen blueberries or chocolate chips to the batter :)