Grilled veggie and wild rice salad

As I mentioned last week, I spent a whole weekend prepping and cooking food. It was great. And a little stressful, since I was planning, prepping, and cooking food in addition to coordinating a party.

But the day of the party came around and I put on my ninja-chef bandanna, my aviators and got to cooking. My first order of business was to grill some veggies for this salad. I love grilled vegetables. I loved grilled food, period. Something about that delicious smokiness just makes me happy. After attempting to blow the grill up (sorry, Dad!), it all went off without a hitch.

rice salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled Veggie and Wild Rice Salad

2.5 cups wild rice, uncooked

2 zucchini

2 yellow squash

1 red onion

2 bell peppers

Seasonings to taste – I used salt, pepper, garlic, and lemon juice. Herbamare would also be a great choice.

 

Directions

1. Don’t blow your grill up.

2. Cook your rice. I put it in the rice cooker (using a 2:1 water:rice ratio).

3. Slice your zucchini and yellow squash lengthwise into long strips, cut your peppers into strips, and I cut my onions into rings.

4. Brush your veggies with a little bit of oil.

5. Grill on medium heat for 4-5 minutes per side or to your desired doneness. I also like using a grill pan, but these can all go straight on the grill, no problem.

6. Chop up your veggies into smaller pieces and toss them with the rice and seasonings.

7. Serve hot or cold – both are delicious!

That one time I made half a gallon of barbecue sauce…

Why? Because my parents celebrated their 30th anniversary recently and naturally, we needed to have a party. We looked at a few options and ultimately decided that making food would be the most cost effective. And the easiest way to cater to special diets. So off I went to Sam’s Club and filled my fridge with enough food to feed a small army. Which means enough to feed my immediate family for 3 days 🙂

The menu:

Appetizers –
Corn chips and Salsa
Veggie Tray and Hummus

Main –
Shredded BBQ pork and shredded BBQ chicken (Easiest way to shred chicken ever)
Homemade BBQ sauce (I used a modified version of this recipe)

My version:

2 cans tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable stock for vegetarian/vegan)
1/8 cup molasses
1/2 TBSP maple syrup
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 TBSP liquid aminos (or coconut aminos or gluten-free soy sauce/ tamari)
1/2 TBSP onion powder
1/2 TBSP garlic powder
1/2 TBSP smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste

Mix it all up and let it simmer for 10-20 minutes on the stove. Adjust seasoning as necessary. Or just mix and put it on your meat as it cooks.

Also, I quadrupled this recipe and stored it in a huge container. This was enough barbecue sauce to cover 30 pounds of meat. This recipe should make about 2 cups of sauce. As you can see, I made a lot!

BBQ sauce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sides

Grilled Veggie and Wild Rice Salad – stay tuned for the recipe!
Rainbow Kale Slaw (got rave reviews, even from the kale haters in the crowd. I have made this a couple times and it always goes over well)
Fruit salad – watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, and grapes (I just used what was in season/ on sale)

rice saladkale slaw

 

Dessert

Sheet Cake from our Sam’s Club…. complete with a poor lettering job
Banana Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon “Buttercream” (gluten free, dairy free)

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It took a ton of prep work – I don’t think I’ve ever produced that much food in my life. It was like Thanksgiving on steroids. Fortunately, I had a bunch of help, which made it all easy!

Banana Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Cinnamon Buttercream

I subscribe to the Cake Blog because I love looking at all the fun cakes and when this little gem showed up in my inbox, I knew I needed it in my life. Banana Choco Hazelnut Cake? Um, yes please! And with my parents anniversary party coming up, I had a great excuse to make it. With a few modifications, of course, as all-purpose flour and dairy products are not going to fly.

I try not to make recipes for the first time before an event/ gathering unless the recipe got lots of great reviews and I follow it almost to the letter. I also try to test out substitutions before I make food for people other than my immediate family. I just want to know that what I’m going to be serving people is delicious. People have this idea that gluten-free and dairy-free = disgusting, so I try to ensure that I’m not perpetuating the stereotype. At any rate, I broke both of my rules here and made a cake I had never tried before and experimented with substitutions.

I was ecstatic (and relieved) when this cake turned out wonderfully! I got great feedback from everyone and my uncle even ate it for breakfast. It turned out rather rich with the chocolate and buttercream, but definitely delicious and I would say that it is worthy of a special occasion.

So ladies and gentlemen, I present to you a dairy-free, gluten-free Banana Chocolate Cake.

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Banana Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Cinnamon “Buttercream”

Ingredients

3/4 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup teff flour

1/4 cup arrowroot starch

3/4 tsp xanthan gum

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3 ripe bananas

1/2 cup Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread (or butter, if that’s your thing)

3/4 cup coconut sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup So Delicious Coconut Yogurt (Greek style)

 

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350 and prepare a 9″ baking pan. I used a springform pan lined with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl, mash up the bananas. Set aside.

3. In another small bowl, mix all your dry ingredients together.

4. In a large bowl, mix the butter with an electric mixer until smooth.

5. Add sugar and mix until light and fluffy.

6. Mix in vanilla and eggs.

7. Add in half of the dry ingredient mixture and combine.

8. Add yogurt, mix well, then add in the rest of the dry ingredients

9. Fold in mashed bananas. Mine were still pretty chunky, so I just used my hand mixer to combine everything together.

10. Bake for ~35-40 minutes, until cake is golden brown

 

I made this a layer cake –  I cut it in half, added a chocolate ganache layer, and topped with chocolate ganache and cinnamon buttercream.

Alternatively, you could just top it with ganache or buttercream or both.

 

 

The finished product!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Ganache

8-10 oz dark chocolate chips (I like Guittard brand – they are dairy free!)

1/3 cup coconut oil

Melt in a double boiler over low heat until completely melted and combined. Allow to cool and slather on your cake!

 

Buttercream

1 cup Earth Balance soy-free spread (or butter)

Cream from one (14.5 oz) can full-fat coconut milk (or heavy whipping cream – 1/2 to 3/4 cup)

1 TBSP vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)

Mix your butter/ butter substitute until smooth. Add in coconut milk and vanilla and whip on medium-high until light and fluffy. Add in cinnamon and mix to combine. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

 

Recipe Notes:

If you don’t have the specified flours, you can try 1 1/2 cups of your favorite all-purpose gluten free flour. Check to see if your blend contains xanthan/ guar gum.

You can use regular Greek Yogurt in place of the coconut milk Greek yogurt if you can do dairy. Likewise, you can use butter in all the places that I used Earth Balance. I don’t think coconut oil would work because of its low melting point.

 

 

This post was featured on Allergy Free Wednesdays.

Pancake Scramble

I love breakfast. My favorite meal of the day, hands down. I would almost go as far as to call breakfast my love language. I especially adore pancakes and, until recently, I ate them almost every single morning for breakfast. If I had time, I would play around with my recipe… sometimes I’d measure, sometimes I wouldn’t. Sometimes they would turn out well, sometimes it was not so successful. Sometimes they would stick to my pan or fall completely apart or just be sad little cooked failures. Sometimes I would just cook it all up on the pan and call it pancake scramble. No longer does it have a shape, it’s just a big mess of pancake batter. It still tastes good most of the time, but definitely not what I was going for. I am not going to give you a recipe for pancake scramble. If you really want to make it, all you have to do is screw up a batch of pancakes. Flip them too soon, don’t use enough of a binding agent (like eggs), add too much water… there are all sorts of options.

But you don’t typically see the failures on blogs or Facebook or even real life. I share the things that turn out well and are beautiful. I share the parts of my life that involve me running all over Ireland. I’ll talk about how I set a PR in a race. You see the highlights. You don’t see all the time and energy that went in to training for that race. All the blisters and sweat and runs that felt horrible and the time(s) I lost a toenail. Or the time when I made stuffing for Thanksgiving and it was soggy and my family dropped hints the next year about just buying a gluten-free stuffing. Or any other time that I have failed, whether it be minor or epic. This is a great post on glorious failure.

Failure can be such a great learning tool if we let it. As Samuel Beckett said, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” Plus there is something so humbling about failure. We can’t get big egos if we are always in a state of trying, failing, and learning. Failure does not define us. “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently” (Henry Ford).

I will share a successful pancake recipe though!

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I knew these were going to be winners as soon as they started to get fluffy and bubble!

 

Simple Sweet Potato Pancakes

Serves 1-2

1/2 one medium cooked sweet potato
2 large eggs
1/4 cup liquid egg whites
1 TBSP gelatin (I use Great Lakes)
1 TBSP coconut flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon (I love cinnamon, so you may want to decrease this to taste)

Preheat your griddle or cast iron pan (or whatever you cook pancakes on) to medium-high.

Puree the sweet potato, eggs, and egg whites. I used my immersion blender, but a food processor or blender would work too!

Add in the remaining ingredients and mix well. Let the batter sit for a few minutes to thicken. Or don’t, if you are like me and totally impatient!

Cook for about 4 minutes, flip and cook for another 2. Or about that long… just watch them and make sure they don’t burn.

Top with coconut butter (what I did!), coconut oil, butter, ghee, berries, maple syrup, chocolate, nut butter, honey… whatever sounds good! Enjoy 🙂

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With a good balance of carbs, protein, and healthy fat, these pancakes made for a great post-speedwork breakfast! Next time, I will add some bacon. Because bacon makes everything better. Sweet potatoes + bacon (or a good steak!) = the key to my heart. In case you need me to adore you forever.