chli-truffles

Chocolate Chili Truffles ~ Holiday Gifts ~

Deliciously dark (not-decadent) “Chili” Truffles. This recipe hails from  “South Of The Border Down Mexico Way!”  Around Christmas time I start whipping up my holiday truffles.  Add 2-3 truffles into mini boxes. Decorate with festive ribbon or glittery Christmas stickers and you’re ready to spread some cheer! Friends love them even more knowing that you made the truffles, adds an spoonful of love to each one! 💖

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INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups whole almonds
1 1/2 cups fresh dates(pitted)
1/2 cup (or more) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (Ancho, New Mexican, etc.)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of cayenne pepper
chocolate (preferably couverture or chips or whatever you have for coating ) optional
INSTRUCTIONS
1. Pulse almonds in food processor until almost like almond butter. This will take several minutes.
2. Add the pitted dates and mix thoroughly.
3. Add the cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt, vanilla extract, chili powder and cayenne and process again until ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
4. Form mixture into bite sized balls.
5. Optionally coat with chocolate.
To do this, melt the chocolate in a double boiler or Bain Marie. Dip the balls into this mixture and leave to set on a piece of parchment. They can be placed in the refrigerator to set faster. Box these and give away as gifts or enjoy yourself.

didyouknow2DID YOU KNOW?
You will not experience any sugar drop with these little beauties since they are sweetened with dates. The usual ingredient of cream is replaced by almonds along with its multitude of health benefits. These truffles are perfect for vegans and those of you who are lactose intolerant.
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HELPFUL LINKS
My truffle boxes are called a Bow Top Favor Box.  I buy them at the Bulk Barn on the corner. I found a huge supply at McCall’s in Toronto, ON, Canada, ( no bow top boxes ). For their truffle boxes see: cake boxes page 6. online at www.mccalls.ca
Buy  online ( large orders ): boxandwrap.com  [ from the U.S. — All shipping destinations –select ivory bow box– ] Local shops are your best bet. Happy hunting!

White ‘Bow’ Boxes, Truffle Cups & Foil Wrap

How about your dinner party? Each guest will have the chocolate chili truffles right on their plate before seating. I have not set my table yet..but this is what it might look like with golden truffle boxes on each plate. White boxes are very festive too.

At the famous Harrods in London’s Knightsbridge you can buy a box of handmade truffles with flakes of edible 24-carat gold  that will set the buyer back an eye-watering £190 ( $238 U.S. $315 CAN dollars ). Champagne filled and studded by 100’s of Swarovski crystal on the box itself. I have enjoyed edible gold leaf chocolates at home and at restaurants. Decadent, but impressive! (You can buy edible gold leaf online ~ sometimes hard to get).

Harrods Gold Leaf Truffles

Harrods Gold Leaf Truffles

Chocolate Chili Raspberry Truffles

Chocolate Chili Raspberry Truffles

VARIATION: Add any coating you like for the truffles; ground almonds,  chia seeds and what ever you have handy in the kitchen. Adding rum or raspberry liqueur to the mix adds another dimension to your truffles.   My friend Ania from the lazycatkitchen.com  likes to add organic raspberry to her truffles using cupcakes for less mess. ( It’s the ‘only’ way to do it using raspberry preserves. )

Chocolate, chili and raspberries are a match made in heaven! A catalytic combo! The wee cupcakes are less messy -until you bite into them. (These can be made  sugar free.)  They are so good! YUM YUM!

South of the Border Down Mexico Way!

In keeping with the theme of ‘MEXICO’  that  inspired my  Chocolate Chili Truffles, I close with old ‘Blue Eyes’. I hope you enjoy it.  Friends of mine say he reminds them of the late Don, my dearly departed husband, who simply loved fine chocolate  ( and fishing trips to Mexico ). This one’s for you Don!

game-day2

Game Day Spicy Meatballs

These are a healthier alternative to the typical  game day feast of nachos, chips, wings and pizza. They are so tasty and will not last long.  Delicious and nutritious snacks!

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INGREDIENTS
img_42491 pound ground chicken (or turkey)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg, whisked
3 tablespoons unseasoned whole-wheat bread crumbs
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Hungarian or hot paprika
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves, about 1 small sprig or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, about 5 sprigs or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon sugar substitute
1 lemon, zest only
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS:
1) In a large bowl thoroughly mix the chicken, garlic, egg, bread crumbs, Worcestershire, paprika, onion powder, oregano, thyme, brown sugar, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a bowl.
2) Gently mix in the chicken (to avoid any toughness in the meatballs) and form into mini meatballs, slightly smaller than a golf ball; it should make 28 to 30 meatballs.
3) Warm the butter and oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
4) Transfer the meatballs to the pan and do not disturb for 3 minutes to brown well.
5) Turn, cooking another 3 minutes without disturbing.
6) Keep cooking until browned and cooked on all sides, but still juicy and plump with a spring to the touch.
7) Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Serve with cocktail skewers or toothpicks for game day!

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Both chicken and turkey are a great alternative to beef when making meatballs and these meatballs are healthier than pizza, wings or chips for that game day snack!  These are also great for those who want to build their muscles to compete with or become  football players or just build a little bit of muscle like myself.

While turkey has a slight edge from a nutritional standpoint, the price of chicken is more stable year-round, and boneless, skinless cuts of turkey breast can be found easily at most grocery stores.  A 1-lb. serving of skinless, boneless chicken breast contains 135 calories per serving, which is 12 calories higher than the same serving of turkey. The ratio of protein to fat is also slightly lower than turkey with 25 g of protein and 3 g of fat per serving.

Amino Acid Profiles
Another important consideration is the amino acid profiles or each meat. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and different amino acids have different effects on muscle gain. Specifically, the branched chain amino acids, or BCAAs — isoleucine, leucine and valine — are linked to optimal muscular growth and repair. Again, turkey is slightly superior to chicken in its content of BCAAs. One serving of turkey contains 1,420 mg of isoleucine, 2,176 mg of leucine and 1,451 mg of valine. A serving of chicken contains 1,230 mg of isoleucine, 2,073 mg of leucine and 1,297 mg of valine.

key-lime-pie-avocado3

Key Lime Pie made with Avocado

lime-fruitKEY LIME PIE is another pie my friends remind me to make. Fresh key limes is the secret ingredient. Try and get the key limes instead of regular limes. It tastes just as good either way. The first time I had the Blonde Giraffe’s” key lime pie in Key West, Florida I was hooked. It was that good. Using a family recipe from their Brazilian grandmother, the Blonde Giraffe‘s pie shop flourished and delivered key lime pies all over the U.S. (No longer delivers (the pies) and the Blonde Giraffe has moved). They added key lime zest to the whipped egg white topping. Instead of their traditional evaporated milk, we will be using whipping cream + cream cheese.  We will also be adding avocado to this health -TRENDY key lime pie!

Best Key Lime Pie I Ever Had!

Best Key Lime Pie!

BLONDE GIRAFFE – Home of the award winning KEY LIME PIE! When I came down to Florida, my sister would leave a Key Lime Pie in the freezer for us. What a treat! I would get up at night and wander into the kitchen for a treat and hack away at the key lime pie like a block of ice. It was just as good frozen! I guarantee it!
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INGREDIENTS
300 grams cream cheese
200 ml whipping cream for mixing with avocado
150 ml Whipping Cream
1 medium-large Avocado, cut into big cubes
1/4 cup sugar – Stevia, organic coconut sugar, etc.
30 ml water
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
Zest of 2 limes
1 sachet Gelatin Powder
Limes + Key Lime Concentrate + Key Limes

Limes + Key Lime Juice + Key Limes

Pie Crust:

  • 1 cup shelled walnuts
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar substitute
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed anise seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

    1. DirectionsHeat oven to 350 degrees F. In food processor, pulse walnuts until finely ground. Add graham cracker crumbs, 1 tablespoon sugar, anise seeds and salt; pulse just until combined. Add 2 tablespoons water; pulse until ingredients are thoroughly combined and resemble wet sand. Press into bottom of an 8 1/2-inch springform pan. Bake 20 minutes; cool completely.

      The walnuts are a healthier option.  The tiny amount of anise seeds give it an interesting flavour.An almond crust would also be a very healthy option.

Three-Ingredient Crust

This easy-to-make crust contains just three ingredients and browns up beautifully. You might even like it better than traditional pie crust!

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar substitute

Instructions (pie crust)

  1. Melt the butter.
  2. Combine the sugar and almond flour in a bowl.
  3. Pour the butter into the almond mixture and stir until well combined.
  4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently until all the almond flour is incorporated with the butter and the dough forms a moist ball in your hands.
  5. Place the ball of almond flour dough on the bottom of the nine-inch spring form pan.
  6. Use your fingers to press the dough evenly out the sides.

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Zest the lime first before extracting the juice. Set aside the lime zest and juice
2. Place the gram crackers in food processor until finely ground. Add 8-12 dates (less is better), Hint: moisten the dates with  the water -use kitchen sheers to cut and drop the dates into the crumb mixture before turning the blender on. Add salt and melted butter. Process until a moist crumb forms. Press crumb mixture onto the bottom of a 10 inch diameter spring form pan or 10 inch diameter mousse ring.  Chill in the freezer for 10 minutes to set.
3. Boil 150 ml of whipping cream in a small sauce pan and add it to the gelatin powder in a medium bowl, stir for 2 minutes until completely dissolved. strain through fine sieve. Cool it down.
4. Using a food processor combine avocado, cream cheese, sugar, 200 ml. whipping cream, lime juice, zest and 30 ml of water until everything is smooth and well combined.. Pour in the cooled gelatin cream mixture and continue processing until well combined, cream and smooth in texture.key-lime-pie-avocado
5. Pour avocado lime cheese cake into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top. chill in the freezer for 1 hour to set.
6. Release the pie from the pan if using spring form pan. If using a mousse ring (which I used I this recipe) use a blow torch and run around the edge of the ring to loosen the mousse and remove the ring.
7. Garnish with lime slices and zest on top.
TOPPING
Whipping Cream (optional)

 

HAT2FOOD TIPS
You can substitute quark  (even cottage cheese) for the cream cheese to have a lighter side. My aunt (German influence) always uses quark in baking her cheese cakes. For this recipe I was able to produce an 8 inch and one 4 inch pie. This recipe can fill a 10 inch pan too.
IMG_3667didyouknow2
WHIPPING CREAM:  People sometimes use half and half as a substitute (12% milk fat) for whipping cream. “Whipping cream” is made up of 30 percent fat, while cartons labeled “heavy cream” or “heavy whipping cream” must contain 36 percent milk fat. The fat gives stiffness to the cake or pie. That is why we added the gelatin -for stability. Evaporated milk contains 7.5% milk fat. Remember…the evaporated milk is still susceptible to microbiological spoilage even though the evaporated milk is packaged in cans and heat-sterilized. Tropical countries use evaporated milk a lot since refrigeration may be a problem in some areas.

toronto-sunset-wallpaper

A Night to Remember

THE 3rd ANNUAL FOOD COURT SOCIAL
Presented by the Slaight Family Foundation

A fractured arm while sailing in Newport, Rhode Island did not stop me from attending this star-studded event last night. Our chefs today are stars! Budding Michelin stars that is. We have to partly thank the Internet for connecting so many ‘foody’ connoisseurs around the world and share some great food! Our blogs open the window to these talented chefs. George Brown College has great culinary courses with the talented Chef John Higgins (Director) at the helm. This evening of extraordinary food made by extraordinary chefs was held in partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) for education and training new chefs at George Brown Chef’s school!

“Appetite for Change. One bite at a time”

Thursday September 22nd 2016
7:00pm – 11:00pm
George Brown College Waterfront Campus, 51 Dockside Drive, Toronto

The Canadian Chef’s Menu is mouth-watering!
george-brown-chefs-menu

What’s best at the waterfront is seafood. Chef Anthony Rose, Rose and Sons prepared this feast.
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I eagerly tasted the culinary treats from most of the chefs that night!
george_brown-seafood
Chef John Higgins (first chef awarded the Toronto Arts Culinary Award) believes in the FORMULA:  Passion + Hard Work = A Very Good Chef! You have to love food. Only a true foody need apply. Otherwise, it is not fun because of the long hours in the kitchen, chopping, simmering and arranging fresh market delights.

Chef John Higgins and Eva, with my broken arm

Chef John Higgins and Eva, with my broken wing

Chef John Higgins and G.B. Chefs in the Making

Chef John Higgins and G.B. Chefs in the Making

The environmentalist Chef Michael Stadtländer was one of the great chefs that night. Chef Stadtländer promotes and believes in farm to table dishes. Take a pilgrimage to his Eigensinn Farm where the freshest dishes are available for your  dining pleasure. An internationally celebrated destination for gourmets.

Chef Michael Stadtländer and Eva

Chef Michael Stadtländer and Eva

Chef Stadtländer made a butternut squash soup just in time for thanksgiving celebrations. The pickled beet garnish was the pièce de résistance that really did it.  Also, the meatball stuffed with cheese which came gushing out was divine .
I have been wined and dined this evening. Now it is time to hobble home.
Bon appetite!

black-rice-salad_mango_peanuts

Forbidden Black Rice Salad

Black Rice was once “only” enjoyed by the Emperor and his royal court. It was forbidden for the commoners to eat this exquisite black rice. The tender, nutty flavoured rice is presumed to enrich one’s life and promote longevity.rice3 After I brought my chilled rice salad to the office,  I noticed that all the staff made it the following week!  It travels well and is a great picnic salad.  A refreshing change from your typical summer salads.
I researched and tried out several versions but this recipe from the Bon Appétit June 2012 needs no improvement. black rice salad photo provided by Jason Lowe, Bon Appétit

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BLACK RICE SALAD – WITH MANGO AND NUTS
INGREDIENTS
2 oranges
1/4 cup or more fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
2 cups black rice
Kosher salt
2 just-ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2″dice
1 cup finely fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup finely chopped red onion (about 1/2 large onion)
1/2 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts or unsalted cashews or other nuts
6 scallions, thinly sliced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded, minced
black-rice-ingredients
INSTRUCTIONS
1 ) Remove peel and white pith from oranges.
2 ) Working over a medium bowl to catch juices and using a small sharp knife, cut between membranes to release orange segments into bowl. Squeeze membranes over bow to release any juices. Strain juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl; reserve orange segments.
3 ) Add 1/4 cup lime juice, oil, and fish sauce (if using) to bowl with orange juice; whisk to blend.
4 ) Set dressing aside.
5 ) Bring rice and 2 and 3/4 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Season lightly with salt. Cover, Reduce heat to low and simmer until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let stand, covered for 15 minutes.
6 ) Spread out rice on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with dressing and season lightly with salt; let cool.
7 ) Place mangoes and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add rice and toss gently to combine.
8 ) Season lightly with salt and more lime juice if desired.
Serves: 6–8

didyouknowDID YOU KNOW?
While whole grain brown rice and red rice also contain beneficial antioxidants; only black rice contains special variety of antioxidants known as anthocyanin antioxidants. (Thus the dark purple colour -like blueberries)  Additionally, black rice also contains an important antioxidant – Vitamin E, which is useful in maintaining eye, skin, and immune health in addition to other important functions. Forbidden Black Rice contains 18 amino acids (same as Aloe Vera), iron, zinc, copper, carotene, and fiber. Mangos are #1 ~ the most popular fruit in the world.

black-rice

Emperor’s Dining Room

In ancient times, Emperors reserved this wonderful black rice for their own consumption because it was thought that it would extend their lives. Black rice does provide many health benefits that the western world is now embracing with gusto.  It helps fight against heart disease, cancer, and diabetes with high amount of flavanoid phytonutrients and protects heart health (plaque formation). Herbalists use black rice as a prevention and treatment for ailments and as a blood tonifier. 

Black Rice was also considered to be somewhat of an aphrodisiac at one time.  I suspect the Emperors down throughout the ages shared their black rice stock with their consorts or concubines.

Heirloom Forbidden Black rice is a strain from Indonesian Rice.

Heirloom Forbidden Black rice is a strain from Indonesian Black Rice. photo provided by Spikenard and Myrrh

Black Rice is surely ‘one of the’… if not ‘the most’ special variety of rice that is cultivated today. Its special, near medicinal values is truly stunning, even today with all of our medical knowledge and tools. Every time you sit down to enjoy a few servings of this awesome super food, you can remind yourself that you are eating something that was once reserved for royalty. If a commoner was caught eating this rice it was “off with their heads”.

VARIATIONS
If you are trying to find something else to do with your avocados, my friend Monique from Ambitious Kitchen added avocado to her black rice salad. It is a nice touch and goes well. Instead of unsalted peanuts (Bon Appétit version), I used cashews while Monique added almonds to her salad. If you have the time and patience, roasted pecans would be wonderful too.
avocado-mango-blackrice-salad

Another gluten-free recipe that is filled with flavour , colour and the YUM-Factor!

kids32BACK TO SCHOOL LUNCH!
A light touch: For milder flavour, use leeks instead of red onion and yellow or red bell peppers instead of jalapeno peppers. Forget the nuts (allergies)  if you like.  Substitute other herbs for the cilantro. e.g. parsley, basil, fresh mint, fresh-soft rosemary (my favorite) or even peppery rocket lettuce. Know what your kids like to eat. I would even test out fresh oregano in this ‘forbidden’ black rice salad.  COLLEGE KIDS: Add a smidgen of fresh pressed garlic ~ to boost the immune system.  If it is not fresh I would not use the herbs. The dried herbs taste different. They have flavour, but are better suited in baking and cooking.

Y-U-M-M      Y-U-M-M-M!