Friday, January 31, 2014

Southern Cooking: Stir-Fried Beef, Zucchini & Sweet Onions

Stir-Fried Beef, Zucchini & Sweet Onions
Excerpted from The New Southern Table by Brys Stephens
Post written by Reggie Macon

Summer squash is a popular vegetable in Southern cooking. Served raw, in salads, grilled, boiled, sautéed, or however you like it, adding zucchini or yellow summer squash to a meal makes for a savory entrée that is as saucy and charming as a person with Southern sensibilities.

This week, I wanted to cook something nontraditional that still spoke to my Southern soul. I looked around for recipes and decided a reimagined beef dish would work well. Of course, I went straight for my copy of Brys Stephens' Southern cookbook, The New Southern Table, to see what I could find.

This Stir-Fried Beef, Zucchini & Sweet Onion recipe combines some of my favorite ingredients: beef, onions, and my most cherished Southern vegetable, zucchini. What can I say? I'm not a vegetarian, but I do love the distinctively mouthwatering flavors of sautéed onions and zucchini in this innovative yet simple concoction.

Thanks Brys, for such an interesting and delicious meal. You're the best!

½ pound (225 g) beef filet, strip, or other tender cut, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon (15 ml) Chinese ground bean sauce or black bean sauce
2 teaspoons (10 ml) soy sauce
1 teaspoon (5 g) sambal oelek chili paste or hot sauce
1 tablespoon (15 ml) Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
1 teaspoon (2 g) minced ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon (3 g) cornstarch
1 tablespoon (15 ml) canola oil, divided
1 sweet onion, sliced
3 medium-size zucchini, thinly sliced
3 to 5 basil leaves, torn into pieces
1 tablespoon (8 g) black sesame seeds (optional)

Season the sliced beef all over with salt and pepper and set aside, preferably 
for at least 30 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the bean sauce, soy sauce, chili paste, wine, water, ginger, garlic, and cornstarch, and set aside.

Heat half the oil in a large, heavy, non-stick skillet over high heat. Pat the beef dry with a paper towel. When the oil is hot, add the beef to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until browned. Transfer the beef to a bowl.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet, along with the onion and zucchini. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes,
 or until the zucchini is browned. Add
 a splash of water to the pan, stir, and cook another 2 to 4 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender.

Add the beef and any accumulated juices to the pan and toss to combine. Cook
1 to 2 minutes, or until the beef is just cooked through. Add the sauce and cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Stir in the basil and sesame seeds. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Yield: 2 servings


The New Southern Table

Immerse yourself in The New Southern Table, a celebration of food, culture, and quintessential Southern ingredients. Food writer, photographer, and fifth-generation Southerner Brys Stephens shares his love of travel and food and reinterprets classic Southern ingredients with recipes from diverse world traditions.

Often oversimplified as “y’all” cuisine, Southern food, at its heart and soul, has always been fueled by local ingredients and flavors. Okra, peaches, pecans, and collard greens are just a few of the beloved Southern ingredients found on farms—and dinner tables—all across the American South. However, many world cuisines have developed age-old flavor combinations, techniques, and dishes based on these very same ingredients—from lima beans and sweet potatoes in South America to corn and watermelon in Asia. With 100 recipes, each showcasing home-grown ingredients, The New Southern Table tours through French, Mediterranean, Asian, and Latin cuisines.

Try Greek-inspired Okra with Tomato, Feta, and Marjoram or Caribbean-infused Coconut Hoppin’ John. Savor flavor-infused main dishes such as Herb Grilled Bison with Fig Chutney and sides such as Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Tahini Yogurt—a unique spin on meat and potatoes. Sicilian Watermelon Pudding elegantly balances sweet, sour, and bitter flavors.

With simple ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions, the recipes in this book will quickly become down-home favorites at American tables, new and old.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bourbon Banana Bread

I was recently chatting with Warren Bobrow of Apothecary Cocktails (and the upcoming book Whiskey Cocktailsyay!) and he was telling me the difference between whisky, scotch, and bourbon. I'd love to bore you all with the details, but to be honest, all I could think about was whether or not I could taste the difference if I put any of the above into banana bread. I blame Kelly Peloza. Ever since I stumbled across her recipe for Bourbon Banana Bread, I can't stop thinking about it.

Won't you join me in dreaming about this delicious breakfast?

Bourbon Banana Bread
Excerpted from Cheers to Vegan Sweets by Kelly Peloza

This recipe was contributed by my dad. Basic banana bread is elevated with the fun and fresh additions of lime and bourbon.

½ cup (112 g) vegan margarine
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1½ cups (338 g) mashed bananas
¼ cup (60 ml) bourbon
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lime juice
2 cups (250 g) flour, sifted
1 tablespoon (13.8 g) baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (120 g) chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C, or gas mark 5). Cream vegan margarine and sugar together. Add mashed bananas, bourbon, and lime juice and blend until smooth. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together and mix into banana mixture. Add nuts.

Bake in greased 8 x 4-inch (20.5 x 10 cm) loaf pan about 1 hour. Because baking times vary with the moisture of the batter, check the loaf at 45 minutes with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the bread is ready. If not, continue baking.

Recipe Note
For a variation, replace the bourbon with rum.

Replacing the Alcohol
Use apple juice or non-dairy milk in place of the bourbon.


Cheers to Vegan Sweets!

This innovative vegan baking book features 125 deliciously fun drink-inspired dessert recipes. It’s a cookbook that takes readers on a delicious tour of cafés, cocktail bars, and lemonade stands, where all the drinks come in dessert form. Imagine your morning vanilla hazelnut mocha re-imagined as a muffin, or relax on the beach with a margarita biscotti, or stop by the bar and order your brew in Guinness cake form. Instead of sipping your drink, now you can indulge in it!

Author and vegan baker extraordinaire Kelly Peloza has carefully formulated each recipe to deliciously highlight the flavors of its drink counterpart. From Apple Cider Doughnuts to Chai Spice Baklava to Gingerbread Stout Cake, you’ll be amazed at how deliciously well your sips transform into sweet, satisfied—and vegan!—bites. And with alcoholic- and non-alcoholic recipes, you’re sure to find something perfect for every party and special occasion.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Spicy Korean Barbecue Sauce

With the Super Bowl around the corner now, I thought we'd continue on sharing some more party appropriate recipes. I don't typically share sauce recipes, but this one from Joni's newest book, Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen, caught my eye because of its bright color and the word "spicy" in the title. Sold. Can you imagine this on just about everything you make Super Bowl Sunday? I know I can.

Spicy Korean Barbecue Sauce
Excerpted from Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen by Joni Marie Newman

This sassy barbecue sauce has no tomatoes! It gets its red color from roasted red peppers that you can roast on your own, or use ones already roasted and packed in water.

3 tablespoons (45 ml) soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons (30 ml) sesame oil
2 tablespoons (30 ml) rice vinegar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 tablespoon (10 g) minced garlic
10 ounces (280 g) roasted red peppers
1 cup (235 ml) water
1 tablespoons (4 g) red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons (6 g) black sesame seeds
3 tablespoons (18 g) finely chopped scallion

Add all the ingredients except the red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and scallion to a blender and blend until smooth. Stir in the red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and scallion. Pour into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Yield: 2 3/4 cups (650 ml)


Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen

This innovative vegan cookbook combines the best of both worlds—comfort food + ethnic cuisine. The result is Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen, a delicious, experimental type of cooking popular in California and quickly taking the vegan world by storm. Its focus is not only on fresh, local ingredients, but also the amazing flavors found in different world cuisines. Think Korean pulled “pork” sandwiches, jalapeno mac ’n’ cheese, and Mexican hot chocolate cake. Traditional, with a twist!

Author and California native Joni Marie Newman will treat you to more than 100 innovative recipes, all featuring whole foods ingredients that can be found at almost any grocery store or farmer's market—no store-bought faux meats, mayos, cheeses, or the like. Recipes will also feature low fat, soy free, and gluten free options for those with special dietary needs. Push the envelope on taste and take plant-based cooking to a whole new level with Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Foods that Make You Feel Better: Eat Away Your Back Pain

As anyone who has ever dealt with back pain knows quite well, it can be a very difficult and even agonizing experience. From back sprains and strains due to overuse, sports injury, arthritis and more, getting through the day with a sore back can be extremely challenging.

Fortunately, there are a wide variety of extremely helpful resources for people who are dealing with back pain. For example, the LSI Newsroom features a variety of published articles focused on health and wellness. Laser Spine Institute advocates in many cases not only for safe exercise to help ease back pain, but also a healthy diet. You can also find amazing examples of home remedies for back pain (and other ailments) in the new book 500 Time-Tested Home Remedies by Linda White, Barbara Seeber, and Barbara Brownell Grogan.

People who are dealing with a bad back can find many foods and beverages that can help provide blessed relief for back pain. For people who are dealing with back discomfort, the following seven foods and drinks may help them feel a lot better:


Photo by gkdavie via Flickr

As Greatist notes, salmon is not only delicious, it is also full of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been found to help reduce the pain associated with arthritis. More specifically, omega-3 has been found to be especially useful for treating those with a painful back or neck. In fact, one study showed that taking omega-3 fish oil supplements offered relief that was similar to ibuprofen, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Adding salmon to the diet will not only provide people with a protein-rich and tasty meal, but it may go a long way in helping a painful back feel better.


Photo by Julius Schorzman via Wikimedia Commons

Coffee fans are sure to perk up at this news: Research conducted by Robert Modl has found that caffeine can actually lessen pain in people who are dealing with a muscular injury or too much exercise. The study also indicated that drinking a cup of Joe along with a typical dose of over-the-counter pain medicine increased the person’s level of pain relief. For people who overdid it at Zumba or spent just a bit too much time on the elliptical or treadmill, this is welcome news.


Photo by Kyle McDonald via Flickr

As Town Center Wellness explains, pineapple is naturally rich in anti-inflammatory enzymes that can help the body repair itself. Interestingly, this helpful enzyme is only in the fresh form of pineapple, not the canned version.


Photo by ninacoco via Flickr

Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries all naturally contain phytonutrient antioxidants that can help ease inflammation, as well as boost the body’s ability to heal itself.


Photo by Donovan Govan. via Flickr

Vampires, look out! Garlic has been found to also contain natural anti-inflammatory substances that can be useful to people who are dealing with a sore back. Since garlic is such a popular and aromatic addition to many dishes, it is fairly easy to eat more of it and reap its healthful benefits.


Photo by Abhijit via Wikimedia Commons

A huge percentage of the body is made up of water—66 percent, to be exact. When people get short on water, they can exhibit a wide variety of health issues, including inflammation. On the flip side, drinking more H2O can help alleviate the inflammatory response and may help a sore back feel better.

Red Grapes

Photo by Simply Vicki via Flickr

As Everyday Health notes, red grapes are naturally rich in resveratrol, a potent substance that can actually prevent the enzymes that cause tissue damage from doing their work. An experiment found that resveratrol actually prevented the cells from responding to inflammatory signals, leading researchers to conclude that it may help to reduce pain.


Pick up your copy of 500 Time-Tested Home Remedies today!

500 Time-Tested Home Remedies and the Science Behind Them

Try These Timeless Treatments Supported by Cutting-Edge Science!

Look no further! From insect bites, insomnia, and upset stomach to nasal congestion, stress, and heart health, this authoritative and comprehensive guide offers easy, effective recipes to bolster your resistance to illness, ease aches and pains, and manage minor ailments naturally.

The authors explain the science behind these remedies, debunk common myths, and let you know when to call the doctor. In addition, they provide a blueprint for wellness for you and your family. The book’s 500 recipes contain readily available, inexpensive, and safe ingredients. Many you’ll find within your cupboards or at the grocery store. For instance:

Dab on tea tree oil to clear up acne 
Gargle with sage and thyme tea to combat sore throat 
Engage in mindfulness exercises for weight loss 
Eat chia seed to help with hay fever 
Whip up a calendula salve for diaper rash 
Heal dry skin with coconut oil 
Lift mood with a gratitude journal 
Take elderberry syrup for influenza 
Apply aloe vera gel and peppermint essential oil to sore muscles

Monday, January 27, 2014

Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

I'll admit that I put ranch dressing on more things than I probably should. I use it a dipping sauce for chicken fingers and chicken wings, on my salads, on my perogies... if I can bathe something in ranch dressing, I probably will.

Now that I've admitted my deep, dark food secret, I'll follow it up with sharing a recipe for homemade ranch dressing, which (let's be honest) makes me feel much better about putting it on everything.

And since I'll be using this dressing on my chicken wings for Superbowl Sunday, I'm going to be nice and give away a copy of Kitchen Pantry Cookbook by Erin Coopey... because you NEED to have this book. Good luck and go [enter your favorite team here]!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
Excerpted from The Kitchen Pantry Cookbook by Erin Coopey

I’m really picky about ranch dressing. The bottled brands just taste synthetic to me. Once you taste this tangy, herby dressing you’ll feel the same.

Yield: Makes 1 1/4 cups (295 ml)


1/3 cup (77 g) sour cream or crème fraîche (see below)
1/3 cup (75 g) mayonnaise (page 10)
1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons grated onion
or 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic purée or pinch of garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh chives
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
Pinch of dried thyme
Pinch of paprika
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


Whisk the sour cream, mayonnaise, and buttermilk together until smooth and fully blended. Stir in the lemon juice, onion, garlic, chives, parsley, thyme, and paprika. Season with salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Note: The flavors of this dressing improve with a little time. If you can, try to make the recipe at least 1 hour before you plan to serve it. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Get a Little Culture—Crème Fraîche

If you left a glass of milk on the counter overnight, you probably wouldn’t want to drink it in the morning, right? We have a tendency to get a little freaked out about bacteria—rightly so in some cases, but in others a little bit of bacteria is a good thing.

Crème fraîche (French for “fresh cream”) is cultured cream, not just because it has a fancy French name, but rather because it’s thickened by bacterial cultures. It can range in thickness from heavy whipping cream to sour cream.

It’s very simple to make. In a small nonreactive mixing bowl, add 1 tablespoon (15 ml) buttermilk to 1 cup (235 ml) heavy cream. Stir to combine. Cover and let rest for 12 to 24 hours at room temperature. The longer you wait, the thicker it will become. When the crème fraîche reaches the desired thickness, refrigerate it for at least 24 hours before using. The finished crème fraîche can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Crème fraîche is slightly less sour than sour cream, so it can be used for all sorts of dressings, sauces, and desserts. It’s delicious plain, but you can add fresh herbs and lemon juice for an herbed cream sauce. Or add a little sugar and vanilla and spoon it over fresh berries.



Watching eggs and oil swirl together into mayonnaise seems almost like a magic trick, and it’s ready in flash!

Yield: Makes 1 cup (225 g)


2 raw egg yolks, from the freshest eggs you can find, at room temperature
1⁄2 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
1⁄2 teaspoon mustard powder or Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon (15 ml) white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 cup (235 ml) oil
Pinch of sugar (optional)


Place the egg yolks in a blender or mini food processor. (Because this recipe only makes 1 cup [225 g], a full-size food processor may be too big to aerate the eggs properly. I find the bowl size of my mini prep to be perfect.) You can also whisk the mixture by hand. Process or whisk the egg yolks until they are light yellow and frothy. Add the salt, mustard powder, lemon juice, and vinegar and process/whisk until blended.
With the motor running (or whisking vigorously), slowly drizzle in the oil in a very light, steady stream. Don’t stop until you have added the entire cup. When all the oil is blended, stop the motor (or take a breath), open the bowl, and taste. Add more salt and sugar, if desired. Serve after 1 hour or refrigerate for up to 3 days.


The Kitchen Pantry Cookbook

Tastier, Healthier, Homemade

You work hard to make dinner—choosing the best food, mastering preparation techniques, and picking the perfect recipes. But what about the unsung staples, the ingredients and condiments that build and accompany your meal? Too often, the store-bought versions are loaded with extra salt, sugar, allergens, and preservatives, and they end up bland and uninspiring. But you don’t have to limit yourself to the same tastes and the same plastic bottles. With Kitchen Pantry Cookbook you can create your own staples—fresh, delicious, and just the way you like them. Chef Erin Coopey shows you 90+ recipes and variations to personalize your pantry. You’ll never go back to the bottles.Stock your kitchen pantry with:

· Condiments: Everything you need—Mayonnaise, Dijon Mustard, Ketchup, Steak Sauce, and more

· Nut butters and spreads: The classics and the creative—Homemade Peanut Butter, Chocolate Hazelnut Butter, Vanilla Chai Pear Butter, and more

· Salad dressings: All your favorites, from Balsamic Vinaigrette to Honey Mustard to Sesame Tahini

· Stocks: The basics to have on hand, including Chicken Stock, Vegetable Stock, and Court Bouillon

· Relishes and refrigerator pickles: Delicious and easy—Bread and Butter Pickles, Pickled Peppers, Sauerkraut, and more

· Chips, dips, and dunks: Snacks that hit the spot, from Homemade Potato Chips with French Onion Dip to Tortilla Chips with Tomatillo Salsa

Friday, January 24, 2014

Coconut Kale Chips

Kale. I didn't know about it a few years ago and now I can't imagine not having it with at least one meal a week. Kale has quickly become everyone's favorite healthy snack, side dish, and salad. It even has it's own Twitter page (@daily_kale).

One of the staple recipes for kale is kale chips. Easy to make, delicious, and (as it turns out) incredibly healthy for you... especially when you make your kale chips using unrefined coconut oil. Why? Coconut is a superfood. So go ahead and chow down on these chips. No one is judging you.

Kale Chips
Excerpted from Superfoods for Life, Coconut by Megan Roosevelt

1 large bunch kale
2 tablespoons (28 g) organic, raw,
Unrefined coconut oil, melted
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190°C, or gas mark 5).

Remove the thick kale stems by grabbing hold of the leaves and then “zipping” them off the stem. Cut or tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. Dry the kale in a salad spinner or on a clean kitchen towel. It’s important to dry the leaves completely before cooking.

Arrange on a baking sheet and drizzle with the coconut oil. Sprinkle with the salt and toss to evenly coat the kale. Spread out into an even layer. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the chips have shrunk slightly and are crisp and darker in color. Watch carefully, as kale can burn quickly. Serve warm.

Yield: Serves 2

Kale chips are easy to make and help satisfy the craving to munch! They are low in calories and full of flavor. Baking these chips with coconut oil provides an added nutritional benefit.


Superfoods for Life, Coconut

Coconuts have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine for their healing and beautifying properties, as well as being used in anti-viral and anti-bacterial products. Coconuts also show promise in stabilizing blood sugar and as a natural weight loss aid. This unique superfood can even be made into flour and used in gluten-free cooking and baking.

Superfoods for Life, Coconut shows you how to integrate coconut meat, milk, oil, butter, and flour into your diet with 75 delicious recipes for incredible health. This handy guide provides an overview of coconuts, fun history and facts and its reputed nutritional benefits, along with a focus on key nutritional properties and “cures” associated with coconuts (detoxification, weight loss, super immunity, disease fighting, and beauty to name a few). Each chapter references studies and research. There are so many ways to use coconut - the possibilities for cooking and healing are endless!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

National Pie Day: Nutella Pie

Today is National Pie Day! Sound the trumpets, grab the flour, and let's get baking. Since it's also nearing Valentine's Day, I thought there was no better time than today to share a sneak peek recipe from the upcoming pie cookbook, Ms. American Pie by Beth Howard. Beth has an entire section devoted to "Pies to Seduce." This Nutella® Pie certainly has me completely seduced. So whether you want to win a date, impress a partner, or just treat yourself to something indulgent, this is the recipe for you.

And once you've fallen in love, you'll want to own the cookbook. Preorder it today.

Nutella® Pie
Excerpted from Ms. American Pie by Beth Howard

Really, is it possible to seduce yourself? Because let me tell you, I love Nutella® so much I don’t even need
a man in my life. It’s pleasurable enough to spread this chocolate-hazelnut spread on my toast, but to put
Nutella® in a pie? There are just no words for that. Unless you count moaning as words.

Basic Pie Dough for single-crust pie

¼ cup (½ stick) butter, chilled and cut into large chunks
¼ cup vegetable shortening, chilled
1¼ cups flour, plus at least ¼ extra for rolling
Dash of salt
Ice water (fill a ½ cup but use only enough to moisten dough)


★ Flour is your friend when it comes to rolling dough. It’s what I like to call your “insurance policy.” Contrary to what other cookbooks will tell you, extra flour will not make your dough tough. Adding flour to
your rolling surface will keep your dough from sticking—and will keep you from running to the store in frustration to buy pre-made pie crust.

★ That said, always start from the center and roll out to the edges, rolling in one direction. You can push, you can pull, but don’t roll back and forth like a crazy person. I like to think of rolling dough as a dance; stay fluid in your motions. Also, put a little body weight into it so you can really stretch your dough. Too little pressure won’t get your dough to roll thin; too much pressure will mangle your dough. Try it out, get a feel, don’t be afraid to experiment.

★ Keep your workspace clean. Take the time to scrape the gunk off your rolling surface as well as your rolling pin. This is another one of those “insurance policies” to keep your dough from sticking.

★ When rolling dough, use your pie dish to calculate how big you’ll need it. Allow for enough extra width to account for the depth of the dish and make sure the extra inch or two of overhang from the dish has enough bulk for crimping the edge.

★ Size isn’t the only goal when rolling dough. You want to aim for a certain “thinness.” My pie teacher, Mary Spellman, taught me what her mother taught her: Roll it thin enough so you can just start to see the stripes of the tablecloth through the dough. I always think about this transparency, even if there are no stripes on my rolling surface.

1. In a deep, large bowl, work the butter and shortening into the flour and salt with your hands until you have almond- and pea-sized lumps of butter.

2. Then, drizzling in ice water a little at a time, “toss” the water around with your fingers spread,
as if the flour were a salad and your hands were the salad tongs. Don’t spend a lot of time mixing
the dough, just focus on getting it moistened.

Translation: With each addition of water, toss about four times and then STOP, add more water, and repeat.

3. When the dough holds together on its own (and with enough water, it will), do a “squeeze test.” If
it falls apart, you need to add more water. If it is soggy and sticky, you might need to sprinkle flour onto it until the wetness is balanced out. The key is to not overwork the dough! It takes very little time and you’ll be tempted to keep touching it, but don’t!

4. Now divide the dough in two balls (or three, if your pie dishes are smaller) and form each into a disk shape.

5. Sprinkle flour under and on top of your dough to keep it from sticking to your rolling surface. Roll to a thinness where the dough almost seems transparent.

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
¾ cup Nutella® (or any brand of chocolate-hazelnut spread)
½ cup sugar
1 egg
½ cup toasted chopped hazelnuts (optional, but gives it some crunch)
Pinch of salt

1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Prepare the Basic Pie Dough for a single-crust pie (see above).

Prepare the Filling: In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, Nutella®, sugar, and egg until well blended.

Stir in hazelnuts (if using), then pour into pie crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the filling looks set. Let cool.

Prepare the Topping: Beat cream, sugar, and vanilla until peaks form. Serve whipped cream as a dollop on the side or on top.


Hear Beth speak about the Healing Power of Pie at the TEDxDesMoinesWomensTalk:


Ms. American Pie

Beth M. Howard knows about pie. She made pies at California’s Malibu Kitchen for celebrities including Barbra Streisand (lemon meringue), Dick Van Dyke (strawberry rhubarb), and Steven Spielberg (coconut cream) before moving back home to rural Iowa. She now lives in the famous American Gothic House (the backdrop for Grant Wood’s famous painting) and runs the hugely popular Pitchfork Pie Stand.

With full-color photos throughout, Ms. American Pie features 80 of Beth’s coveted pie recipes and some of her own true tales to accompany them. With chapters like Pies to Heal, Pies to Seduce, and Pies to Win the Iowa State Fair, Beth will divulge her secret for making a killer crust without refrigerating the dough and will show you how to break every rule you’ve ever learned about making delicious, homemade pie.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Paleo Baked Egg Cups with Tomatoes, Spinach, and Prosciutto

We've been really getting into Paleo cooking here in the office this week. From slow cooking to baking to grilling, we're all about using fresh, whole ingredients and seeing them shine. Since it's all Paleo all week here, we thought you might want to get in on the fun with this delicious sneak-peek recipe from the upcoming book, Powerful Paleo Superfoods. Even if you're not a Paleo follower, this recipe is a must-try.

Please note: Due to some scheduling conflicts, #spoonchat is on hiatus until February. See you back there next month! 

Baked Egg Cups with Tomatoes, Spinach, and Prosciutto
Excerpted from Powerful Paleo Superfoods by Heather Connell and Julia Maranan

The beauty of these baked egg cups is that they are very simple to put together and they don’t require an exact ingredient list. Once you have the essentials you can experiment with whatever you have around the house, making every breakfast with these cups different and fun.

1⁄2 teaspoon coconut oil or ghee
2 cups (60 g) spinach leaves, chopped
1⁄3 cup (50 g) cherry tomatoes, halved
1 clove garlic, minced
4 slices prosciutto
1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 ml) Spinach Basil Walnut Pesto (recipe follows), plus more for serving
4 pasture-raised eggs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chopped basil, for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4).

In a skillet over medium heat, melt the coconut oil. Add the chopped spinach, cherry tomatoes, and garlic and stir. Continue to sauté the spinach and tomatoes until the spinach has wilted down and the tomatoes
are soft, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Line each of 4 ramekins with 1 slice prosciutto. Divide the spinach and tomato mixture equally among the ramekins and then top each with a dollop of pesto. Finally, crack an egg into each. Season the tops with a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until egg yolk has set. Serve with an additional dollop of pesto or freshly chopped basil.

These are best enjoyed the day you make them, but they can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, and reheated the next day.

Makes 4 servings

Spinach Basil Walnut Pesto

Pesto can quickly add a different dimension to a dish with its amazing flavors. Have fun with this pesto by changing up the herb or even swapping the spinach for another leafy green. Bottom line: greens + herbs + nuts + garlic + olive oil = awesome!

2 cups (60 g) baby spinach
1 cup (40 g) fresh basil
1 clove garlic, sliced
1⁄4 cup (38 g) walnuts, lightly toasted
1⁄4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In the bowl of a food processor, combine all the ingredients. Process, stopping a few times to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, or olive oil as necessary.

Makes 1 cup (260 g)


Powerful Paleo Superfoods

Unlike other superfood lists you may have seen that include things like soy, legumes, quinoa, and goji, the Paleo community has a very different idea of what constitutes nutritional power foods. With superfoods like grass-fed bison, bone broth, and coconut oil, you are on your way to amazing health benefits including reduced incidence of diabetes, autoimmune illnesses, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Paleo expert Heather Connell will guide you through the top 50 Paleo superfoods from power proteins like salmon and locally farmed beef to super fats and Paleo-approved fruits and vegetables.

Powerful Paleo Superfoods is your essential guide to getting the best out of your caveman lifestyle.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Southern Cooking: Sweet Potato Cornbread

Sweet Potato Cornbread
Excerpted from The New Southern Table by Brys Stephens
Post written by Reggie Macon

Cornbread is known as the cornerstone of Southern cuisine. Anyone from the South or anyone with parents from the South knows there is nothing like a really good batch of cornbread. In my family, cornbread paired with collard greens is the most satisfying meal you can have, and I personally believe the combo should be a food group.

My grandmother, mom, and both my aunts loved having cornbread as a side for all their dishes. When I was a kid, if we did not have two pieces of Wonder Bread with our dinner, we had cornbread.

This week, I made some outstanding collard greens and really desired cornbread for sopping up the juice from the greens. If you have never done this, I highly recommend it! Anyway, I searched through my kitchen cabinets for a box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix to whip up a quick pan of cornbread. To my surprise and dismay, I did not have a box of Jiffy mix. I refused to go out in the cold to buy a box at the grocery store.

My solution: I looked through my trusty copy of Brys Stephens' Southern cookbook, The New Southern Table, to see if he had a cornbread recipe. To my delight, I found a Sweet Potato Cornbread recipe that I had to try, and I had all the ingredients in the house. Score!

Thick, dense, and great for sopping up collard green drippings, this cornbread can only be described as woo wee!

I would recommend Brys' Sweet Potato Cornbread to a friend or foe. Now that is saying something!


1 pound (455 g) orange-fleshed sweet potato (about 1 large)
4 eggs
1 cup (235 ml) buttermilk
1⁄2 cup (115 g) full-fat plain yogurt
1 teaspoon (2 g) lemon zest
2 1⁄3 cups (322 g) finely ground cornmeal
1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (11 g) baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons (12 g) fine salt or table salt
2 teaspoons (9 g) granulated sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
10 tablespoons (143 g) cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C, or gas mark 5). Pierce the sweet potato all over with a fork and bake directly on the middle rack of the oven for about 1 hour,
 or until tender all the way through. Alternatively, cook the sweet potato in a microwave on high, turning over once, about 10 minutes, or until tender. Let the sweet potato cool slightly, then peel and purée either with a potato ricer or masher. You’ll need 1 cup (255 g) of purée.

Butter a 9 x 9 x 2-inch (23 x 23 x 5 cm), or similar size, baking pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the 1 cup (255 g) puréed sweet potatoes, eggs, buttermilk, and yogurt. Place the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, ginger, and cayenne pepper in a food processor, and pulse until combined. Add the butter to the food processor, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add this cornmeal mixture to the sweet potato mixture, stir until just combined, and pour into the prepared baking pan. Bake 35 to 45 minutes, or until the corn bread is golden brown on top and a paring knife inserted into center comes out clean. Let cool slightly before serving.

Yield: 10 to 12 large slices


The New Southern Table

Immerse yourself in The New Southern Table, a celebration of food, culture, and quintessential Southern ingredients. Food writer, photographer, and fifth-generation Southerner, Brys Stephens, shares his love of travel and food and reinterprets classic Southern ingredients with recipes from diverse world traditions.

Often oversimplified as “y’all” cuisine, Southern food, at its heart and soul, has always been fueled by local ingredients and flavors. Okra, peaches, pecans, and collard greens are just a few of the beloved Southern ingredients found on farms—and dinner tables—all across the American South. However, many world cuisines have developed age-old flavor combinations, techniques, and dishes based on these very same ingredients—from lima beans and sweet potatoes in South America to corn and watermelon in Asia. With 100 recipes, each showcasing home-grown ingredients, The New Southern Table tours through French, Mediterranean, Asian, and Latin cuisines.

Try Greek-inspired Okra with Tomato, Feta, and Marjoram or Caribbean-infused Coconut Hoppin’ John. Savor flavor-infused main dishes such asHerb Grilled Bison with Fig Chutney and sides such as Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Tahini Yogurt—a unique spin on meat and potatoes. Sicilian Watermelon Pudding elegantly balances sweet, sour, and bitter flavors.

With simple ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions, the recipes in this book will quickly become down-home favorites at American tables, new and old.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Guilt-Free Banana Chocolate Smoothie

I've been all about smoothies lately. Not necessarily because they're healthy, but because they're easy and delicious (and frankly something my two year old always wants to consume!). We all know bananas and chocolate were meant to be best friends, so this guilt-free smoothie is just plain logical. The best part is that it's okay to indulge.

Guilt-Free Banana Chocolate Smoothie
Excerpted from Smoothies for Better Health by Ellen Brown and Karen Konopelski Hensley

Great news for chocoholics: Dark chocolate contains the same heart healthy flavonoids as red wine, so it, too, can help lower our cholesterol. In fact, one Dutch study showed that chocolate contains four times the amount of catechins as tea! This smoothie contains not one but two forms of chocolate and is thickened by rich, creamy banana.

1 1/2 cups (355 ml) chocolate soy milk
3 ounces (85 g) chopped dark chocolate
3 tablespoons (45 g) cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed
2 tablespoons (30 g) bee pollen
2 tablespoons (30 ml) flaxseed oil
2 cups (300 g) sliced banana
1 cup (140 g) chocolate frozen yogurt
2 tablespoons (15 g) shaved chocolate for garnish (optional)

Combine soy milk, chopped chocolate, cocoa powder, bee pollen, flaxseed oil, and banana in a blender or smoothie maker. Blend on high speed for 45 seconds or until mixture is puréed and smooth. Add frozen yogurt, and blend on high speed again until mixture is smooth. Serve immediately, garnished with chocolate shavings, if desired.

Yield: Four 1-cup (235-ml) servings

Tip: rather than having to rely on a measuring cup for ice cream or frozen yogurt, measure the capacity of your ice cream scoop. From that point on, you can use the scoop for measuring purposes and you will have one less utensil to wash.


Smoothies for Better Health

Smoothies are a great way to add extra nutrients into your diet. Packed with multiple servings of fruits and veggies in every sip, they’re quick to make, easy to digest, delicious to drink, and they charge your body with the energy and nutrients you need to stay healthy. The benefits of these frothy drinks come from “functional foods,” foods that contain large amounts of immunity-boosting nutrients to fortify your entire body—a feat no pill or supplement can match. Each of the wholesome and luscious recipes in Smoothies for Better Health is annotated for both its overall nutritional profile and for the specific nutrients it delivers, so you’ll learn exactly what benefits you are getting from every drink.