Monday, July 25, 2016

Lemon Tea-Basil Granita

I just finished Gail Carriger's "Imprudence," which is the next installment in a steampunk-eaque Victorian England if England had Vampires, Wereeverythings, and people who could negate and steal their forms.  I adore this series.  I love brain candy, because as many of you know, my work reading is some heavy duty stuff. For those of you who don't know, Syntax, aka Theoretical Grammar, is not uncommon, and regular author's in my world include Pinker, Chomsky, and Dรถrnyei.

Anywhoo, back to the point.

In Carriger's world, a lemon-basil mix causes an allergic reaction of sorts in the paranormal, and it sounded quite tasty.  Especially since it is currently in the 90s F in the lovely state of NY, and I don't have central air. So, I thought, why not make a batch of granita?

I happen to keep a few lemons always on hand, because I hate the bottled lemon juice. It I'm also growing my own basil right now, so I have everything I need on hand.

Light, refreshing, juicy, and sweet with a  touch of savory. Completely refreshing.

10 large basil leaves
1 small lemon
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 cups water
Iced Tea of Choice

Before beginning, my current iced tea of choice is Republic of Tea's Hi Caf Green Ginseng Mint.  It's light, refreshing, and I just make it on the strong side. I love unsweetened ice tea, and there's usually at least 2 pitchers in the fridge just waiting. However, if you're steeping and cooling, I recommend over-steeping it.  I know. Sacrilege.  Just trust me. You want it strong or the sugar, lemon, and basil will completely overwhelm it.  Any tea, however will do.
  1. Combine basil, zest of the whole lemon, and juice of the whole lemon in your mini-chopper, processor or blender and combine well.
  2. Pour into 1 cup measuring.  Top off with iced tea. Cool.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water. 
  4. Heat on medium, until fully dissolved.  Then do not stir again.
  5. Bring to a boil, and boil exactly 5 minutes. Do not stir.
  6. Remove from heat.  
  7. Add in cooled lemon, basil, tea to simple syrup.  Do not stir.
  8. Pour half into your 2 cup measuring cup with the spout bit, and pour into an ice cube tray.  Repeat with the second half.
  9. Freeze overnight.
  10. When ready, remove only what is needed from ice cube tray (4 cubes per serving), and crush with a fork.  Serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings of 4 cubes at 130 calories a serving. The great thing about granita recipes is that they can also be used to make popsicles. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Carrot Muffins

I have a drawer full of carrots from my CSA, but I'm not a huge carrot eater, so I needed something to do with them.  I'm not fond of carrot cake so that was out.  My mother suggested I do my sweet potato bread but with carrots, so I gave it a go.

My sweet potato bread is based on my mother's zucchini bread, which is hands down the best.  Most likely because it's full of bad stuff. But since I'm not going to sit down and eat all the muffins, I'm doing it anyway.

These muffins are lightly sweet with a touch of cinnamon. Best of all?  The kids loved them.

2 cup grated carrot
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cup sugar
1 cup coconut oil OR canola
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, unbleached
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4  tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Combine everything but the flour, and mix well.
  3. Add in flour all at once and fold in.  Give a couple of stirs, but don't overdue it.  Just until everything is wet through.
  4. Scoop into lined muffin pans.
  5. Bake 20+minutes, until toothpick comes out clean (as a loaf it will be closer to 60 min).
Makes 2 loaves or about 22 muffins.

About 375 calories a muffin.

To lower calories, cut back the sugar to 1 cup sugar 1 cup Lakanto.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Easy Pancakes

I'm not a huge pancake eater, but when I want them, I want to go big or go home.  This is my go-to base for perfect pancakes every time.

Of course, everything can be flipped out. I've noted my recommended flips. Milk & Sugar/Honey will add a significant amount of calories.

1 egg
1/2 cup self-rising flour OR all purpose + 3/4 tsp. baking powder + 1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Drink OR 2%
2 Tbsp. Lakanto sweetener OR sugar OR honey
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste OR extract
Cooking spray (I use coconut oil)
Syrup of choice (I use Wegmans butter flavored lite)

  1. Heat your pan of choice on medium.  I use a small frying pan, non-stick.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg, sweetener, vanilla, and milk.  
  3. Whisk in flour until smooth.
  4. Spray pan with nonstick.
  5. Pour just under the size you want.
  6. Wait until the pancake gets super craggy, all the way through.
  7. Slide spatula carefully under, and flip.
  8. Cook until browned.
  9. Remove to plate and cover with towel.
  10. Repeat.
Makes 6 average-sized pancakes at 270 calories total.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Spiced Pear Sauce Bread with Dates

My father currently has a rather mangy looking heirloom pear tree in the back yard, but last year it was so full of fruit it broke the tree.  Unfortunately, the pears, like most true heirloom fruit, are disgusting. People forget pears and apples were not yummy and delicious-we bred them to be.  All you have to do is pop up to Indian Creek Farm in Ithaca and try one of their Victorian apples.  Blargh.

So I made it into sauce, which, while tasty, is awfully gritty, so I save it for baking.  I have a couple more things leftover in the freezer, and I'm trying to clear it all out for this year's CSA and local farm haul. The last time, I used it to make those Pomaceous Brownies, which were awesome and I'll make them again.  Today I'm trying an applesauce bread, but with some changes of course.

1 1/2 cups pear sauce
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil, liquid state OR or canola
2 eggs
3 Tbsp So Delicious unsweetend coconut milk OR 2%
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
12 medjool dates, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour, unbleached

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and use butter or coconut oil to thoroughly grease your load pan.
  2. Combine in the bowl in order, beating thoroughly between each until you get to the dates and flour.
  3. Add dates, and fold in.
  4. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time, folding in,
  5. Mix only until combined and everything wet.  No more.
  6. Scoop into load pan and bake 40 minutes, drop oven to 325F
  7. Bake until passes the toothpick test, about 15-20 more minutes.  If you have a thermometer, internal should read 205-210F in center.
  8. Let cool 10 minutes before running a knife around the edge and popping it out to cool the rest of the way on a rack.
12 slices at 250 calories each, or 16 muffins at 188 calories each.

To make pear sauce, if you don't have it, follow my Simple Stove Top Applesauce recipe and sub in pears instead. Or use unsweetened applesauce instead.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Garlic-Dill Beet Stem Refrigerator Pickles

Beets are edible from leaf to root, but the stems are stringy like celery and have a strong flavor.  I've found the best use for them is to pickle them for snacks.

The trick to a good refrigerator pickle is all in the choice of vinegar. For most, my go to is unseasoned rice vinegar.  You can use any though, just be prepared to experiment.  For example, white and apple cider generally need a larger amount of water.

The recipe here can be used to make any kind of fridge pickle. Just stick to the same ratio of vinegar, water, and salt.

Beet Stems
1 Tbsp. Minced Garlic
1 Tbsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 cup Tbsp. Fresh Dill
Rice Vinegar
Ball Regular Mouth Pint Mason Jar
  1. Cut your beet stems so they fit in the jar, lower than the neck.
  2. Fill the jar, but leave enough room that you can insert 2 fingers.
  3. Remove the leafy bits of dill from the stems, and toss the dill stems. 
  4. Stuff the rest of the jar with dill and the garlic. Scoop the salt on top.
  5. Fill jar 1/3 way with vinegar.
  6. Fill rest of the way with water.
  7. Cap tightly, and shake to combine.
  8. Refrigerate for 24 hours.  The longer in, the stronger the flavor.
  9. Good for anywhere from 1-3 months depending on your water and salt content.  Check every now and then for freshness.