Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chocolate Covered Coconut Macaroons

How about making a fun treat for yourself?  If you like coconut, you should definitely try this out.  Living fully digging deeper (The recipe was part of an article titled "Feeling Your Way Around the Kitchen" and that's exactly what you will do with this recipe.)  I found this experience, as I do many others that I'm mindful about, to be very meditative, as I used my hands to work the ingredients into something special.

The author's take in this article is that touching our food has countless advantages.  From learning theories that boast superiority through sensory learning (Waldorf and Montessori), to nerve ending relaxation, writer Cynthia Lair shares a few recipes that allow the chef to use his or her hands as processing tools.

I got excited about the macaroon recipe.  The pictures made them look so appetizing, the ingredients' list sparked my interest, and the idea of making something fun while getting my hands messy- well, it just seemed like I should dive into this adventure.

I did change the recipe up a smidgen and I'd like to share it here with you this Easter.  Here's a picture of my final product.  Yum!

Chocolate Covered Coconut Macaroons
makes 12

2 1/2 cups shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/2 cup honey
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 oz dark baking chocolate
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Lightly grease cookie sheet.
2.  Lightly oil a measuring cup to measure honey.  Place sweetener in a pan on low heat.  Heat until honey thins.  Then add coconut and egg whites, stirring constantly.  Continue stirring and cooking on low heat for 2-3 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and stir in extracts.  Let cool.
4. With moist hands, make small balls the size of gold balls with the mixture.  Here's where you get your hands messy.  This process can be grueling if you are not attentive.  You will need to cup mixture tightly and pass it back and forth from one hand to the other.  This may take some time but making strong, adhesive balls, while only be a benefit to your final product.
5. Bake for 20 minutes.  Let cool.
6. Melt 3/4 of the chocolate in a double boiler.  Turn off heat and add last 1/4, plus butter and sugar.  Mix well until all melted and blended.
7.  Pour chocolate mixture over each macaroon.  Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.  Then refrigerate.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Honey Tofu Stir Fry

With summer on the way, vegetables will become more local and present.  CSA pickups will be loaded with lettuces, spinach, bok choy and and more.  But to get my family to eat these nutritious leafy greens, I have to add a hint of sweetness to the meal.  That’s why I decided to sneak a little honey into my family’s dinner diet.

Honey is a sweet food given to this earth by bees.  Honey bees produce honey through a process of regurgitation and evaporation.  The bees leave their hives in search of flower nectar and sweet deposits from plants and trees.  They gather, modify, and store the nectar they collect in the honeycomb.  As a collective the bees return to their hives and pass the nectar onto the worker bees.   The worker bees, after chewing the nectar to continue to break down the enzymes, eventually spread the nectar throughout the honeycombs.  This is where the evaporation happens and the nectar, over time, becomes a thick syrup.

Local honey is something everyone should incorporate into their diet.  Because bees in your area are collecting nectar that contains the pollen you are ingesting, your local honey is a natural way for your body to develop an immunity to the pollen and its allergens. 

With nature’s treat in mind and the abundance of veggies, I made a tofu stir fry sweetened with a honey sauce.  This dish is a real crowd pleaser and jam-packed with nutritional goodness.

Tofu Stir Fry w/ Honey Soy Sauce                                                                       serves 5 as main meal


2 T. olive oil (or sesame)                                                         ¼ t. turmeric
½ onion, sliced thinly                                                               ¾ t. ginger
½ red pepper, 1 inch strips                                                      3 T. HONEY
3 carrots, 1 inch strips                                                             1 head baby bok choy, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced                                                           ½ lb. spinach leaves, chopped
1 T. rice wine vinegar                                                             1 cup broccoli, steamed, cut
¼ c. soy sauce                                                                       1 lb firm tofu
1/8 c. water                                                                           1 egg, scrambled
¼ t. cumin                                                                             1 package brown rice noodles, boiled 2 min

Instructions for meal creation:

1 – Preheat oven to 350. Cut tofu cube into approx. 8 slices ½ inch wide.  Lay slices in a lightly oiled baking dish and drizzle with soy sauce and honey (in addition to the amounts needed above).  Bake for 30 minutes.
2 – Meanwhile, use this time to do your prep work by preparing all of the vegetables.
3 – Scramble egg.  Put to side.
4 – Cook noodles.  Drain and toss with sesame oil.
5 – Begin meal completion.  Heat vegetable oil in large wok.  Start with sautéing onions, carrots, red peppers, and garlic.   Add rice vinegar, soy sauce and a bit of water. Toss well.
6 – Add honey, and veggies making sure to mix stir fry well.
7- Cut tofu into small cubes and add to stir fry.  Mix in scrambled eggs and noodles.  Coat all ingredients well.
8 – Serve and enjoy.

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