Goat Cheese Chocolate Truffles

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Oh holidays…why do you always sneak up on me?  This Friday I frantically rolled 100 goat cheese truffles (while juggling making chocolate-peppermint popcorn, white-chocolate dipped pretzels, and putting the finishing touches on biscotti, decorating sugar cookies, and boxing it all up nice and pretty).  I have to say…I went a little crazy.

It happens to all of us, right?  But I may have crossed the line.  I actually went all grinchy and said “I’m not doing Christmas treats next year.”  Yowzas!  Strong words from such a little lady!

I’m happy to say that I got some cute elf help on my project and by the time 7pm rolled around, we were delivering boxes of goodies to some of the good little boys and girls beloved by me.  And the feeling of cheer, the smiles on faces, and oh! the hugs.  Let’s just say I’d do it all over again.  And again.  And again.

If you love goat cheese, you will love these truffles.  They have a moderate but not overbearing sweetness to them balanced with the tanginess of the goat cheese with a smooth finish.  Very satisfying.  These truffles have been a big hit around these parts lately.  Friday was actually batch three for this gal!

I really hope this recipe finds its way into your hearts and homes.  One regular sized-batch takes about 20 minutes hands on.  Worth every minute!

Goat Cheese Chocolate Truffles

Goat Cheese Chocolate Truffles

Makes about 20–easily double or triple the batch for more!

  • 8 oz plain goat cheese (to change things up, you can use honey goat cheese, orange goat cheese…any flavor that is not savory); room temperature
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla, almond, or orange extract
  • 8 oz semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • Dutched cocoa, almond meal, or finely shredded coconut for rolling
  1. With a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat room temperature goat cheese with the powdered sugar; 1-2 minutes on medium.
  2. Add extract and beat until blended.
  3. Meanwhile, in a double boiler or a metal bowl over a pan with 1/2-1 inch of simmering water, melt the chocolate.
  4. When the chocolate is melted, mix with goat cheese blend until incorporated fully.
  5. Put mixture into the refrigerator for a couple of hours until firm but still scoopable.
  6. Scoop mixture into balls with a spoon or a melon baller.  Roll in between palms of hands to form a ball.
  7. Roll in dutched cocoa, almond meal, or coconut flakes.
  8. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour before enjoying.
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Shredded Sauteed Cabbage With Tomato and Ginger

Shredded Sauteed Cabbage with Ginger and Tomato

At the risk of being totally unoriginal, I am going to share a Martha Stewart recipe because it is my absolutely favorite way to eat cabbage.  I think I ate this for three days straight a couple of weeks ago and I could have kept on going but alas, the head of cabbage had to meet it’s end.

This was one of my go-to detox dishes and a surefire way to convince anyone to enjoy cabbage.  I served mine over my grain blend (with short-grained brown rice, farro, quinoa, and radish seeds).  Note that Martha’s recipe lists ginger as optional.  It is a must, in my opinion!

Keep this recipe in your back pocket for when you ‘get back on track’ in January.  Light and healthy, yet warming.  Great as a main dish or side–I’m planning on serving these with some perogies on the day after Christmas.  Mmmmm.

Shredded Sauteed Cabbage; from Martha Stewart

  • 4 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  •  1 medium onion, sliced
  •  1 tomato, chopped
  •  1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and minced (optional)
  •  1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  •  1 small head of green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced (about 10 cups)
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for serving
  1.  Heat a 14-inch skillet over medium-high heat, and then add the oil and onion. Saute to soften the onion slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato, ginger if using, and red-pepper flakes. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  2. Add the cabbage and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir to combine. Cover, and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook, stirring occasionally as the cabbage begins to collapse. Add a little water, 2 tablespoons at a time, as needed if the cabbage becomes too dry. (This depends on the moisture level of the cabbage. You don’t want it too wet.) Cook for approximately 13 minutes, or until the cabbage is just tender. Salt to taste and serve.

Roasted Sweet Potato Puree With Coconut Milk

Have you guys heard of Bryant Terry?  If you haven’t, I’m thrilled to introduce you.  Although his Vegan Soul Kitchen cookbook is vegan (obviously), this wonderful chef belongs in any kitchen.  He offers “Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine” in this particular book along with a soundtrack for each recipe–how cool is that?  I love this book because not only are the recipes solid, his family stories are great and you get a big dose of culture as you cook.

The first recipe I tried was this Sweet Potato Puree With Coconut Milk. I am pretty daring so I decided to take a gamble the first time trying it and made a double batch for a huge potluck party.  I felt a little sheepish bringing in a big bowl of what looked like mashed sweet potatoes but that feeling soon disappeared when I had people seeking me out for the recipe.  In two months time this recipe has entered the “well loved” recipe pile and has made it to a few events.  This week, it will find itself onto another holiday table for Christmas–methinks it will become a tradition.

Somewhere in the process of this recipe, something magical happens.  It may be the extra step of roasting the sweet potatoes, or the agave sweetener (which I love), or the creaminess from one of my pantry favorites, coconut milk.  But I don’t want to know what does it–this dish is perfectly delicious.  So close your eyes and enjoy!

Sweet Potato Puree With Coconut Milk

Roasted Sweet Potato Puree with Coconut Milk; adapted from Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen

  • 4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 can coconut milk, warmed (use the full fat version for best results)
  • A few tablespoons of chopped pecans to serve (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, agave nectar, coconut oil, and sea salt.  Toss well.
  3. Transfer the sweet potatoes to a parchment-lined baking dish or roasting pan and roast for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven.
  5. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the sweet potatoes with warmed coconut milk.  Puree, adding a little hot water if needed (my sweet potatoes were dry and needed a little bit more liquid) and transfer to a serving dish.  Top with some pecans if using.

One Change: Walnut Cinnamon Biscotti

Walnut Cinnamon Biscotti

I just listened to a wonderful TEDx talk by Sarah Britton, the author of one of my very favorite food blogs, My New Roots.  The TEDx talk was called “One Change” and in it, Sarah talks us through the idea that one small change in the kitchen can have life changing consequences.  Food, she argues, is life sustaining and life changing.  What you reach for in the grocery store is an important choice with long term consequences.  ‘More than fuel, food can be a powerful medicine.’  Sarah reminds us that whole foods make us feel better and they simply taste better.  At the end of the talk, Sarah shows the audience how, in a matter of minutes and with the most basic of kitchen tools, you can make your own nut milk at home.  Not only is it cost-effective, it tastes better and it empowers you, both in the kitchen and in your life.

I must have nodded my head 98 times while I was listening to that talk.  I couldn’t agree more.  It is so fulfilling and empowering to me to make my own foods from scratch.  I get so much joy from experimenting in the kitchen and my successes are shared with friends and family as I make the rounds calling and urging them to please try this at home.

Coincidentally, I was listening to Sarah’s talk while making this week’s Food Matter’s Project recipe (chosen by the ever-adventurous and darling Margarita at Let’s Cook and Be Friends).  Coincidentally, it was my very first time making biscotti.  And perhaps not coincidentally, I plan to continue making my own biscotti for years to come.  One change.

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Biscotti rarely calls to me at a bakery.  Next to all of the more gooey, more creamy, more sweet sweets, biscotti fails to convince.  Maybe it was smelling the biscotti baking in my own kitchen, maybe it was discovering just how easy it is to make, or maybe it was simply the fact that I made it myself (!) that I find myself hooked.  Biscotti instantly found its way onto my list of food gifts to make for friends and family at the holidays.  Biscotti instantly found its way into my heart and into my Sunday morning coffee routine.

This recipe is great because there isn’t too much sugar (next time I will experiment with using agave or sucanat and see how that goes) but it still ends up being satisfying.  For my holiday gifting, I plan to dip some biscotti in dark chocolate to make it more enticing but for me, this simple version is the perfect starting point and perfect in itself.  Sitting in my window seat with my cup of pour-over coffee, I’m in a happy place.

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Please share with me any of your own cooking revelations.  Is there anything you always used to buy but now only make at home?  In the meantime, please try this at home!

To read about what other great biscotti ideas the Food Matter’s Project bloggers came up with, head here.  To get a quick visual scan of everyone’s creations, head on over to our Pinterest site.

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Walnut Biscotti; from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook

Makes 2 to 3 dozen; Time:  1 and 1/4 hours, mostly unattended

Even without eggs and butter, these biscotti aren’t too dry, and they maintain their pleasant texture for days.  Serve with coffee or tea.

  • 1 and 1/3 cups walnut halves
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 and 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • Vegetable oil for greasing pan
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F.  Put half the walnuts in a food processor and pulse until finely ground.  Transfer to a large bowl and add the remaining walnuts along with the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; mix well.  Add the honey and 3/4 cup water and mix until just incorporated, adding a little extra water if needed to bring the dough together.
  2. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets with a little oil and dust them with flour; invert the sheets and tap them to remove the excess flour.  Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a 2-inch wide log.  Put each log on a baking sheet.  Bake until the loaves are golden and beginning to crack on top, 30 to 40 minutes; cool the logs on the sheets for a few minutes.  Lower the oven temperature to 250°F.
  3. When the loaves are cool enough to handle, use a serrated knife to cut each on a diagonal into 1/2-inch thick slices.  Put the slices on the sheets, return them to the oven, and leave them there, turning once, until they dry out, 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool completely on wire racks.  Store in an airtight container for up to several days.

Homemade Kimchi

Ever since my big brother sent a gigantic Pickl-it jar to me for my birthday (with a card that said, “From the best brother in the world”) I’ve been in the mood to make and eat fermented foods.  I’ve always been a little nervous about fermenting things myself but this gadget takes the mystery (and fear) out.  I’ve got a big jar of sauerkraut going right now…can’t wait to try it out!

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The only bummers about this jar are that a) it is huge so I have to make A LOT of one thing at one time and b) I want others so I can pickle other foods simultaneously.  Recently, while lacto-fermenting a batch of mixed veggies (cauliflower, carrots, celery, and radishes, which turned the batch a nasty pink color…lesson learned) I had a hankering for Kimchi.  Much to my delight, I found a recipe that didn’t require any elaborate process, unless you call hanging out in the fridge for a week elaborate.

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This recipe, from Serious Eats, was exactly what I had in mind.  I wanted an authentic recipe and I wanted to know how to make it without shrimp paste, which I find to be a bit much for me.  This recipe shows you not only how to make it without shrimp paste, but how to make it vegetarian!  I’m fine with fish sauce so made my version with it but it was great to find out that you can use miso as a fine substitution, which I will surely try for next time.

I had some kimchi yesterday with my special grain blend for a snack.  To make my grain blend, cook wild rice and brown rice with water to cover for 25 minutes.  Add farro, black and/or white quinoa, and radish seeds.  Cook another 15-20 minutes covered on low heat.  Turn off and let sit for 10 minutes before fluffing.  The radish seeds are my favorite part.  they pop in your mouth and are so fun to eat!

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Homemade Kimchi; from Serious Eats

Ingredients

  • 1 large head napa cabbage, cored and separated into individual leaves, about 1 pound total
  • 1 small daikon radish (about 4 ounces)
  • 8 scallions, greens roughly chopped, whites reserved separately
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • One 2-inch knob ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 cup Korean chili powder (kochukaru)
  • 2 tablespoons white or red miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  1. Place cabbage leaves, daikon, and scallion greens in a large bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Toss to combine, cover, then let sit at room temperature until cabbage is wilted, at least 1 hour and up to 12. It should release about 1/4 to 1/2 cup liquid.
  1. Meanwhile, combine scallion whites, garlic, ginger, chili powder, miso paste or fish sauce, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process until rough paste is formed, about 30 seconds total, scraping down sides as necessary.
  2. Once cabbage is wilted, add chili mixture and turn to coat. Add 1 cup water to mixture. Taste liquid and add more salt as necessary (it should have the saltiness of sea water). Pack kimchi into mason jars, pressing down firmly to pack tightly and using a chopstick to release any air bubbles trapped in the bottom of the jar. Cover the kimchi with its liquid.
  3. Seal the jars tightly and allow them to sit at cool room temperature for 24 hours, then transfer to the refrigerator. Allow to ferment at least 1 week before eating (see note). Kimchi will last for up to 1 month after opening. Alternatively, place directly in fridge and taste daily starting after the first week until it’s as sour as you like it. Consume within 1 month.

Notes: This kimchi will get more and more sour as it ages. It can be eaten immediately, but is optimal at around 3 weeks. For a more traditional kimchi, replace the miso paste with 1/4 cup fish sauce or 2 tablespoons jarred brined tiny shrimp. It’s normal for the kimchi to produce lots of gas as it’s fermenting. Your jar’s lids may pop open when you open them and bubbles may appear in the liquid. Do not be alarmed.

As for the kochukaru—Korean dried chili powder, this is perhaps the only ingredient that can be a little tough to track down, but it’s absolutely essential. Korean chilis are a lot more about flavor than heat. You can pack a whole load of chili powder into your kimchi before you end up with a significant amount of heat. I haven’t found any other pepper with a similar flavor profile and heat/aroma ratio.

Creamy White Bean and Celery Root Dip With Fresh Herbs

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Welcome to another Food Matters Monday!  Today’s recipe choice, selected by Lexi at Lexi’s Kitchen, is something that will surely find its way onto my (healthier) holiday spread.  It is creamy, simple, delicious, and so much better than many of the creamy dips out there.  I’ll take this over Rondele any day!

White Bean and Celery Root Puree

This was also a great opportunity for me to pull out some of my pre-cooked beans to use.  I recently read something about cooking beans in Super Natural Every Day that inspired me.  Heidi suggested cooking beans and storing them in the freezer in freezer bags so they are quickly ready to use.  I had been storing my cooked beans in Pyrex but it always took so long to thaw out the block of beans so this new method was worth a shot!  I cooked up some garbanzo beans, mung beans, white beans, pinto beans, and black beans, all in separate large pots (I felt a little crazy with so many pots bubbling away but I knew that the result of my madness would pay off!).  I let each pot cool, drained the beans (let sit in the colander for a couple of minutes until all the liquid is gone), and scooped beans into sandwich, quart, and gallon freezer bags.  Now I have beans of all types for any size recipe: larger recipes (soup), medium recipes (like this bean dip), and single portion sizes for when I just want to add some beans to a stir fry or salad.  Genius!

I modified the original recipe to give it a little more oomph with some garlic and fresh lemon juice.  I also had a celery root hanging around and begging to be put to good use so I cooked that up and pureed it with everything.  If you love celery root as I do, it is a great addition but completely optional.  This dip is great without it too.

Check out what the other Food Matters Project participants came up with here.  They are a creative lot!  For visual inspiration, check out the FMP Pinterest board.

White Bean and Celery Root Dip With Fresh Herbs

White Bean and Celery Root Dip With Fresh Herbs; adapted from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook

Note from Bittman:  This puree has a stunning green color from all of the fresh herbs and is the perfect dip-warm, cold, or at room temperature-for toasted bread or crudites.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 1 leek, white part and some of the green, trimmed, well rinsed, and chopped; or 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped mixed mild herbs, (I used parsley, cilantro, and mint but you can also try basil or chervil as options)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, tarragon, or thyme
  • 3 cups cooked or canned cannellini, navy, or other white beans, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 small celery root (optional)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • About 1 cup bean-cooking liquid, stock or water, or more as needed
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Crudites and crackers to serve
  1. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped herbs and garlic and cook a minute or 2 more.
  2. In the meantime, add cubed celery root to a small pot with water to boil.  Boil for about 10 minutes or until very soft but not breaking apart.
  3. If you want a smooth dip, transfer the beans, leek/herb/garlic mixture, lemon juice, and celery root to a blender or food processor and process, adding as much liquid as you need to make a smooth but not watery puree. If you want a lumpier texture, mash the beans right in the pan with a fork or potato masher, adding liquid slowly to get them as soupy as you like.  Note:  I saved a couple of spoonfuls of the un-processed bean mixture to top the dip with.  I also added a sprinkling of pine-nuts.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; taste and add more if necessary. If you want your dip hot, heat and serve immediately or keep warm over low heat for up to an hour or so. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil if you like.  This dip also tastes quite good cold!  I served mine with carrots, cauliflower, radishes, and rye crackers.  Mmm!

Rainbow Salad with Roasted Squash, Broccoli and a Tahini Sauce

As I just got done blabbing about in my last post, in which I shared a recipe for Indian-Spiced Roasted Butternut Squash Apple Soup, I am on a clean eating kick.  It’s not that I don’t eat healthy most of the time and I’m sure I have a higher vegetable to other stuff ratio at the checkout than most.  But lately I just keep wanting to eat sweets.  And then I do.  And then I feel icky.  And tired.  And bigger than I really am.  And I know that it just means that I need to reset my diet and my body a bit to get rid of those intense cravings for sugar.  Hence my plan.  Want to know my plan?  Well I’m going to tell you anyway…

Squash ready to get popped into the oven

My plan is to eat only whole foods for a week.  And cut out dairy.  And no meat (I only eat meat about once a month anyway).  And no refined sugars, flours, etc.  Just good food.  And then when my plan commences in a week or so I’m going to see how I feel and try to carry on with said plan until the holiday goodies call my name…and then I hope to not want them so badly, so often, and in such amounts! We’ll see if my sinister plan to ruin Christmas cookies powerful and dramatic effects works.  I’ll let you know…

Squash, all roasted up and ready for salad and leftovers!

In the meantime, I am not missing any of the aforementioned foods right now.  I have had gorgeous meal after gorgeous meal the last few days and I’m trying to get around to sharing a  few gems with you now.

These mixed greens and micro greens from two local farmers were so pretty I almost didn’t want to add anything to them!

This salad has been a favorite so far.  Can you see why?  It seems like the more colorful the dish, the better it tastes and the better I feel.  Recipes like this, adapted from Whole Living’s Steamed Broccoli and Squash with Tahini Sauce make eating well a breeze and a joy.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Salad with Roasted Dumpling Squash, Broccoli, and a Tahini Vinaigrette;

Adapted from Whole Living Steamed Broccoli and Squash with Tahini Sauce

  • 1/2 head broccoli florets
  • 1 Dumpling or Delicata squash, sliced and seeded
  • 1 cup mixed tender greens such as mizuna, pea shoots, or arugula
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons diced red onion
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup Tahini Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon raw pumpkin seeds

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400°.  Lightly spray or drizzle a baking pan with olive oil and lay squash onto the baking sheet, taking care not to overlap.  Sprinkle with some salt and pepper and roast, about 20-30 minutes, flipping each piece halfway through.
  2. In the meantime, steam broccoli florets until bright green and tender, about 4 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  3. In a bowl, toss greens, cabbage, radishes, and red onion. Top with steamed and roasted vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with tahini sauce and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.

Serves 3-4