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Love The Rambler








7.23.2014

Easy Ice 'Cream' Tart- Dietary Needs friendly!





I will do the following example for the Chocolate Pretzel Almond Ice 'Cream' Tart

Have you ever been asked to bring something or make something dairy free, gluten free, vegan or all of the above?!?!  Well I have...often...so off I went into challenge mode! Kickin wheat & dairy and taking numbers lol!   Here is a very satisfying EASY recipe (because good God have you looked up Gluten and Vegan baking-yikes! Looks like it takes awhile to master!)   This can be whipped up quickly- but take note you need lots of time for chilling so THINK ahead!  This can also easily be modified to a non chocolate flavor profile too if need be- the possibilities are endless!

Ingredients

1 Pint Coconut Ice 'cream' (Chocolate)
1 c gluten free Graham cracker or cookies ( I love the snickerdoodle bunnie grahams)
1 c gluten free pretzels
1/2 cup butter (or for vegan canola butter substitute)

Garnish
about 1/4 cup melted Nutella (I prefer the Justins all natural Hazelnut choc spread)
1/4 c Dark Chocolate Chips (My new fav is the Lily's sweetened w/ stevia!)
1/4 c Sliced or slivered almonds and a few pretzels

This can be made in a pie pan or similar size tart pan- based on it cutting kind of messy I actually think it could be done better in individual tart pans or even muffin tins!



Instructions:
-Allow Icecream to sit on the counter until melted - about an hour and a half, if you're pressed for time you can microwave it in 1 minute increments being careful not to heat it too hot- stir inbetween so some doesn't boil while the center is still hard

-Microwave butter in med bowl 30-45 seconds until fully melted into liquid

-Pulse in a blender or food processor the grahams and pretzels until a grainy corn meal type consistency. I notice GF pretzels are a very hard texture to blend so start with those then add the softer grahams halfway through

-Stir in meal to the melted butter and fully stir around until all the crumbs are coated with butter. If it looks too dry add more melted butter if it looks too wet add more pulsed meal.  The texture it should look like is if you were working with wet sand. You need it wet enough to bind when it chills but not sooo wet it comes out more like chilled butter with crumbs, clear as mud?

-Press wet meal into the bottom of your desired tin/pie pan. You want to use a fist or a rounded small bowl to help push it up the sides of the pan like a pie crust would be. It doesn't have to reach the top top but at least about an inch up the sides. Try to avoid holes or your icecream will melt through the holes.  It should be all even and uniform.

-Put crust in freezer for 5 min- then drizzle the melted Nutella or nut butter on the bottom of the crust so that each piece gets a nice chilled choc layer inbetween the crust!

- Pour melted icecream in the pie crust and smooth out with a serving spoon or spatula so it looks even....Add your garnish on top if it is not damaged by being frozen (for example fruit should wait)

- Put in freezer for an ideal 2-3+ hours until center of pie is firm.

To serve get out of freezer about 5 minutes before serving time. Garnish with additional toppings or fruit! 

OTHER FLAVOR IDEAS!
Salted Caramel & Dark chocolate & Pretzel
Caramel icecream, caramel drizzle, and light salt sprinkle, dark chips
Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana
   Melted PB, choc icecream, sliced bananas & peanuts for garnish
Key Lime
   Lime or coconut icecream, lemon/lime extract, lime zest and limes for garnish
Pina Colada (add mango and call it tropical)
   Coconut icecream, w pineapple chunks, coconut shred/ sliced or grilled pineapple for garnish
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
    Strawberry icecream, choc chips, nutella & choc dipped strawberry slices for garnish
Almond Joy
Same as above but add coconut shreds into icecream and for garnish
Apple Cinnamon Carmel
Cinnamon icecream, melted almond or cashew butter, sauteed green apples in brown sugar and cinnamon in 'butter' and chilled - garnish with caramel & walnuts
Pistachio Peach & Dark Chocolate
Pistachio icecream, melted nutella, dark choc chips in icecream, garnish with fresh peach slices an chopped pistachio nuts
Almond Cherry
Fresh cherry chunks in cherry or vanilla icecream (and add almond extract to melted icecream) almonds and fresh cherries for garnish- maybe dark chips too!
Lemon Blueberry
Lemon Icecream and lemon extract garnish with lemon zest and fresh blueberries!

UMMMMM THE LIST COULD GO ON FOREVER! 







7.22.2014

Finish What I Start---Returning to School After 13 Years


There is also a separate self satisfying piece that is just for you deep in your soul, even if you never get to apply it like you had once hoped. I have really grown into loving the craft of learning. From random philosophical principles to plate tectonics its all so fascinating!   Its funny since I used to hate school, but I guess we all grow out of certain things as we age.  For now I am getting a chance to do something for me. I've given to so many others along the way, sowed into my kids and my family and even my community- but this piece feels so good because its really for me!  I know I can use it for other benefits and service too, but this is sooooo for me baby!   

I accrued a stack of books, all of which were read. Well almost read. I read all but the last two chapters or so.  What's wrong with me?  Was I too board of them? no. Was I in disagreement with all of them? no.  Was I afraid to have them be over? maybe. Did I feel I already 'got the point'? ya.  So I took a few months and literally read a bunch of the ends of all the books I had never finished. I still have a few more to work on.  This is merely symbolic of many things in my life.  I love my excited ADD ambition as I always believe Ignorance on Fire is Better Than Knowledge on Ice.  I've seen so many examples of the latter and I loathe it.  

Working in the various jobs I've had, I've always been surrounded by people who make the money I make- only they carry student loans, and I don't.  That made no sense to me.  It took awhile for me to meet people who inspired me to finish my degree. I love all those around me with degrees but a lot of them weren't using them. So why be indebted to the man? Sometimes it wasn't their fault, but sometimes it was.  What if I made the same mistake? Why spend so much to work in some crappy job?  It never clicked. Until this year.

Last year I registered my tween for her LAST year of middle school! This year I register my teen (yes TEEN!) for high school.  It may sound competitive but OH CRAP! I gotta beat my kid to a degree!!!  It never occurred to me that time would fly soooo fast.  She was just in diapers the other day it seemed.  But I don't need to beat her to a degree just to say 'na na na boo boo!' but rather I need to be more educated than my kid or how else could I lead, help and guide her!??? I wasn't so mad I couldn't do algebra like her, but surely I want her to see me with a cap and gown on.

There have also been a few people in my life that hold their degrees as accomplishments and prized possessions no one can take away from them!  It was always warned to me: "Don't go to school to get a 'good job'" which I never really got. I mean isn't that the point?  Yes and no I suppose. Yes when you are really into a specialized field that absolutely requires it.  No when you are not sure how your future will end up or what you're really passionate for, in that case you are going to school to find yourself and what will eventually fit you best.









6.30.2014

Gyros (From Scratch) No rotisserie required!! & Accompaniments




So I love a show called Restaurant Impossible where a beastly English chef goes in and fixes miserably failing restaurants. I love it but the recipes go by so fast because essentially they just show a quick video collage of him showing the owners and cooks how to add this amazing thing to their menu.  This week he was fixing a terrible Greek restaurant where they were serving something that resembled the carcasses of luncheon meat who had mated with the famous Greek Gyros meat. It was sad really. But chef Awesome to the rescue! So I saw what he did and was shocked it could be done with out the rotisserie or complicated roasty fire spigget thingy!  So while no exact measurements were made I did an experimental run tonight and it was awesome! So here ya go in true Rambler style...uh a recipe-ish:) Supposedly its on his website but in true Rambler style I got impatient looking for it lol

1lb ground lamb
1lb ground 97/3 beef

1/2 minced onion
1 egg

3 T Cardamom
1.5 T Fennel Seed (toast in hot pan a few minutes first)
4 T Salt (I like a lot more but you can always add more, I have issues)
2 T fresh ground pepper
1 T Chimayo Red Chile or similar (For a kick Cayenne could work or even sriracha)
1 T. Smoked Paprika
1. t corriander
2 T dried parsley (if fresh maybe half this)
1/2 c breadcrumbs
1/2 c milk
1/2 water-add only as needed when processing

-two sprigs de stemmed/finely chopped
Fresh Tyme
Fresh Oregano

Again if you are really into spices add more, if not add less!

In large bowl hand moosh and squish until VERY incorporated and mixed well.
You have two options for the next step in the action
Option 1- add all into a food processor with about a half cup of water. Pulse until it looks very fined grained (not like hamburger texture more like baby food almost-when you say ew you are there)
Option 2- If you don't have a food processor use a hand immersion blender to pulse in sections with water until the whole area is really smooth (I just did all these steps in the crock pot before I turned it on to save on the dirty dishes issue)
-worst case you could try a traditional blender but you'd have to do it in small batches and unscrew the bottom each time to scrape out the meat since its so thick. So avoid that option. You could also just enjoy it with the hamburger texture too!

Next pat and form into a small meatloaf like shape for the approx size of your pita bread. I did a mound about 6 inches wide, two inches tall and eight inches long.

I used spray oil in the bottom of my crock pot, just a lil works well. Place mound in the center and sprinkle with more salt- if you want it to taste like the restaurants they use LOTS of salt. Do another spraying of oil and with the lid on let it cook on LOW for about 3-4 hours until tender. He baked it in an oven about 300 for 45 minutes

Slice mound in thin slices and fry each slice in a saute pan with a little more oil.  If you are calorie counting this could be done in a non stick pan with almost no oil or a quick spray. If you like the 'restaurant' style then its really fried in oil for that crispy roasted outside texture.

Serve with warm pita (most restaurants use the extra soft fat white ones), dressed salad mix, sriracha and yogurt tzatziki -Easily made as the roll up sandwich or as a salad- I served it with watermelon salad (see below for recipes)

Tzatziki:
1 C. Greek Yogurt (I like Fage 0% fat its the creamiest)
2 T lemon zest
5 sprigs fresh mint sliced
1/4 cup feta
Fresh parsley
Fresh basil
1/4 cucumber chopped
salt & pepper
-uh combine

Dressed Salad
Lettuce shreds
tomato
cucumber
lemon juice
lil Dijon
salt and pepper
olive oil
-uh chop and whisk oil & lemon, then mix and season

Watermelon Salad-
chopped watermelon
feta
fresh parsley
salt / pepper


UPDATE! Here is his link- basically the same with less seasoning- but he recommends frying up a little bit of the meat for a taste test on the seasoning which would be smart for your palate

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/robert-irvine/gyro1.html




6.24.2014

An Ode to the Last

It seems there are those who savor the best for last or proactively wait just so they can prolong and extend joy. I know the reason I love dessert is because I wait for that sweet dark chocolate conglomerate madness to be the last thing left on my tongue. I know why I love a glass of a deep Cabernet with that dessert as well, hitting all the deep rich cocoa notes.  It seems these days everyone is in such a rush that little is reveled in yet alone noticed.  I find myself uncovering a little piece of heaven in little seemingly meaningless things around me.  It seems like a world has opened up to me that seems so much bigger and brighter than before. I think that maybe it was here all along, maybe my eyes were looking right over it into a dreamy future oasis,while ignoring that which was right in front of me all along. It seems like I'm getting things right this time and I LIKE IT!

I am celebrating my third and last child (as far as I'm concerned thus far;) And I sadly realize the things I may have overlooked with my first and second. Maybe I was so busy and preoccupied with all the hustle and bustle of life that I may have just missed a little bit more than I wish to admit.  There was seemingly more drama and issues to attend to that when I look back I do wish I would of just slowed down a bit to not let a single moment pass me by.  I feel like I am catching up and possible making amends with my new little bundle of joy by reveling in each and every moment. When I feel myself starting to go wharp speed ahead I really snap my self out of it! I have to, I must and I control that. Maybe because I've labeled her the 'last' it has a strong impact on how I perceive these experiences, as the last.

So often in life people live from one complaint to the next gripe and while it may be embedded in our DNA it something that must be battled at every level. There are only going to be so many baby coos, lunch's w/ friends, romantic dinners, family barbecues, kids giggles, teen's bipolar styles, and all the things in life we may just take for granted. We are so often looking and pushing to that next goal accomplished, that next property purchased, the next vacation off somewhere or the next paycheck that we are missing the great here and now. I vow to never live that way again, to never live in such a jailed cage called 'the future'. If always reaching striving and constantly obsessing over the water ahead in the dessert I miss my savored happy moments.

There are and always will be tragedies and issues that raise their evil heads in our lives. I think as I age I am realizing that I am the one that gives them a stage to operate on. I am the one who magnifies, identifies, over estimates and sadly gives them power to control my spirit and my joy. I must take every thought captive and remember who is in control upstairs, who has a plan for me, even through sorrow some day I will look back and see the perspective in which such things happened. Some things may never have an answer or turn out good in general but everything teaches and makes stronger calluses of the will. How oh how did I ever live in such a defensive position awaiting the atrocity that was bound to come my way?

Laughing at a double dating couple at the table next to me makes me smile,  an elderly lady curling her hair at the gym makes me proud of beauty, the bi polar weather of Colorado keeps me on my toes, the smell of fresh baby lotion on squishy cheeks delights my senses, the coffee shared with a friend warms my soul,  the kiss of my loving husband sends a little electricity down my spine and if all the little things in life I have been overlooking all this time can just come front and center to my life, I can gladly say I am grateful and up and until my last breath so shall I be!

6.03.2014

Healthy "Hot Wing" Salad


 I chose Hot Wing Salad as I am always looking for a way to enjoy my favorite flavors responsibly! I want all the comfort and love without all the time paying for my sins at the gym. This recipe is great for a warm summer night and doesn't leave you grease faced and regretful. By grilling the chicken breasts instead of deep frying the fatty wings, down goes the saturated fat clogs.  By soaking the chicken in the hot wing sauce on comes the sloppy spicy bites that feed the ravage wing eater. Sub out the devil's dressing aka Ranch,  with a fat free creamy Greek yogurt variation and you really can't feel bad now. Pair all this up with cool crunchy carrots and celery laden salad and you have a POWER packed winning team! This easily reminds you of any game day of old, minus the guilt. Serve with a half grapefruit juice half beer, for that 'beer & wings' feel. 

4 Lg Grilled Chicken Breast-cubed (can use Rotisserie) 
1/2-3/4 cup of your favorite Buffalo/wing Sauce
1 Cup Fage Fat Free Greek Yogurt 
1/2 cup lowfat Buttermilk
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Buttermilk Seasoning
1 Bag Shredded Iceburg Lettuce
1 green onion sliced
4 lg celery stalks sliced
4 lg carrots or 20 small chopped or shredded 
(I prefer chopped for texture) 
*optional
1/4 cup Blue Cheese Crumbles 
1/2 cup Crunchy's (cornflakes crushed, garlic powder, paprika, salt/ pepper, 1 t olive oil stirred in bowl) 

Toss vegetables in large salad bowl, chill.  Soak & chill chicken breast cubes in half of the hot sauce in small bowl. Combine remaining hot sauce, Greek yogurt, and ranch packet in small bowl. Add buttermilk to make your desired 'dressing' consistency.  Salt & Pepper to taste. If you like it spicier add more hot sauce.

The key to this salad is its temperature. Its so satisfying when served very cold, crisp and fresh!  

If you would like some little 'fried chicken' like crunchy's on top simply pan toast for 1-2 minutes the cornflake mixture until toasty but not burned. 

Assemble by laying down your salad first, tossing your dressing in to the salad (I like to shake in a Tupperware w/ lid to ensure everything is coated and less dressing is used), top with saucy chicken, 1 small spoonful of blue cheese crumbles over the top and 1 small spoonful of crunchy's. Keep the hot sauce handy for extra splats if you want the heat to go up!  NOW DIG IN-with your fork, not your face!   


A Good Idea








The power of a good idea is nearly impossible to quantify.  For me ideas come in and ideas go out. In and out of style and in and out of my ears too.   I am haunted by a new idea as the clock strikes the hour. Every hour.  Its not that there aren't enough ideas, its that there may be too many. It's no shortage of ideas, but maybe really profound ones.  I love looking back on my years and seeing the different seasons I found myself in.  The waves I've ridden of old ideas, new ideas and just relevant ideas ebbing and flowing with the changing of spring to summer and so on.

What constitutes a good idea? What makes it relevant? Why can the same words fall on deaf ears that cause me to weep?  How do I have an "Ah HA!" moment while others stare blankly into nothing?  I suppose we are all in need of a different question being answered. I suppose we are each asking a different question.  We can find ourselves in identical situations yet we all see things from different angles and perspectives.  Coming together to share our best ideas is the place where creating takes place.  Whether we are creating a change in careers, self identity, friendships, big adventures, attitude or the food we eat we are looking. Searching. Longing.

The top ideas I took away from this year's TEDx Mile High event: Women} were the following:
1. You never know why someone needs you to find a way to say yes to them.
2. Cooperation is about working and leading from the bottom up.
3. Poetic expression may seem jumbled but its intent is not to tell you a story, but rather let you receive your own story.
4. When people come together under duress to create beautiful music it heals, it restores.
5. Creating an alternate response from a silent character is just reasonable.
6. Set aside the dissolution of making your life balanced and start making your life integrated.
7. Invite others outside of your comfort zone to sit at your table.
8. Take someone's treasure headed for the trash and pass it on with love and care to another.
9. Weight loss is sexy, you get new clothes and people congratulate you. Weight maintenance isn't sexy, you don't get new clothes, and no one congratulates you for looking the same.
10. Start asking questions that you don't already know the answer to.
11. You can't get a well rounded story if you don't send both a man and a woman to the scene to report on it.

So happy 33rd Birthday to me! I couldn't be in better company, at a more inspiring event, learning more the way I love to learn!  May I wrangle and bridle my ideas into something complete and polished. May I let the good stay awhile and let the bad keep on going. May I come to a still peace that I can NOT do. it . ALL!  And thats ok.  What I have will be good enough and what I dream of will be realized maybe in heaven ;)








5.16.2014

Healthy Egg & "Creamed" Kale Bake

 *Disclaimer: I cook with my heart and am very disobedient to directions! These are my best attempts to get this transferable to others!  Realize this is a guide but use your best cooking intuition to adjust and assess your results! If you have no cooking intuition my 'recipe ish' is probably not for you HA! (Sorry!)

This recipe can be made vegetarian and is already lactose free (any cheese aged over 2 yrs is naturally lactose free so I hear) . If you want to fatten this recipe up use real cream and real bacon...but seriously this version is GOOD! To vegetarianize it use vegi bouillon/broth and either omit or sub meat alternative. It is already gluten free.


This recipe is for the smaller two person serving dish as pictured below, so I'd quadruple if you are making a full casserole dish size. See already I have you doing math lol!

Oven 350- bout 10 minutes prep, bout 20 min baking (Shortcut available)

MAIN INGREDIENTS:
-7 large green leafs- destem (I like Kale but collards or spinach works too-spinach will cook only 2 min though because its a soft green the others are thicker and require more 'softening')
-4 Slices Smoked Deli Turkey Breast or Turkey Bacon
-1 Cup "SO Delicious" brand unsweetened Coconut Creamer (found next to cream at hippie stores)
-2 Lg Eggs
-4 tomato slices or 8 Cherry tomatoes

INGREDIENTS ANY SELF RESPECTING COOK SHOULD ALREADY HAVE:
-Chopped onion (bout 1/4 onion)
-Garlic Cloves
-1/2 Cup Bouillon (The best are the lil concentrated  jars called Better than Bouillon)
-1/4 cup wine- anykind or wine vinegar is ok too
-2T Olive Oil or similar
-Salt/Pepper
-Fresh Parsley
-2 t Cornstarch dissolved in a lil water
-1 T. Aged Parmesan

Instructions:

  • Start meat, oil, onion in saute pan on med- caramelize about 3 minutes add chopped garlic at last minute. I like to save a lil crispy meat on side for topping final product! 
  • Chiffonade or chop de stemed greens VERY fine, almost like Easter basket grass- this shortens softening time, add to sautee pan
  • Let greens saute about 3-4 minutes- add wine, stir, add bouillon-let simmer until tender about 4-5 minutes if thick green. You may need to add lil more water if it boils away, but you don't want it ending up 'wet', rather the moisture is a creamy consistency- 
  • Add "cream" at last minute with cornstarch mixture- only stir 1 minute to heat. *for shortcut at least make sure it comes to a quick boil so the cornstarch can thicken, otherwise baking will- remove from heat. 
  • Pour mixture into casserole dish and make little dents for eggs to pool in. However eggs you are going to use.  Note: If you aren't going to eat it all I'd save this in the fridge and start with a fresh egg next time you want to eat it- day old eggs suck. 
  • Crack eggs in separate dish and inspect for shells, then drop in dents
  • Layer tomatoes around dish, but not on top of eggs.  
  • Salt & pepper entire dish lightly and sprinkle Parmesan on
  • Bake bout 20 minutes
  • I like a runny egg so usually I broil the top of the dish for the last two minutes
  • *Shortcut is just making your eggs in a pan while you do the kale 'creaming'- this saves you time on the baking if in a rush. I rec this if you are not going to eat it all so your eggs are fresh next time! 
  • To serve top with fresh cut parsley and lil saved crispy meat! 
This can be a great breakfast, brunch or dinner! If you need some carbs with it quinoa is a great option!