How to Justify A Pan of Chocolate Chip Bars (totally doable!)

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I am (supposed) to be following an anti-inflammatory eating plan that (in theory) does not include things like flour, sugar, alcohol and M&Ms. This is what Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory food pyramid looks like:

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Hmmm. Pass.

There is a great site called Tasty Yummies that I’ve been perusing on and off hoping to generate some more ideas for the anti-inflammatory lifestyle. While I am not in love with the name of the site, considering it sounds like something a mother who dresses herself and her child in identical homemade outfits would use, the recipes are great. Today’s highlighted recipe was this fabulous Roasted Curry Cauliflower with Feta and Cilantro dish.

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Hmm. Pass.

So instead, I did a little more digging for you, dear readers, and found this delish surprise. And then I made it. And then I ate it. For you. You are so welcome.

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Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars – Gluten-Free + Dairy-Free (courtesy of Tasty Yummies)

Prep time: 25 minutes | Bake time: approximately 25 minutes | Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (I use Honeyville)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 
1/3 cup honey
  • 2 extra-large local farm fresh brown eggs
  • 
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 
1 tablespoon unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 3/4 cup dairy-free gluten-free semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350º F and lightly grease the bottom and sides of an 8″ square baking pan with coconut oil.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients.
  • In a smaller bowl, add all of the wet ingredients.
  • Mix well with a hand mixer or a whisk.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix very well with a hand mixer.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips you didn’t eat along the way with a spatula.
  • Pour all of the batter into the greased pan and spread evenly with a spatula or your hands and gently press.
  • Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the top is nice and golden brown and the center is no longer doughy.
  • Allow to cool 10-15 minutes before cutting into bars (or they could fall apart.

*These keep best in an air-tight container in the fridge. They can be warmed in the microwave for a few seconds when serving to take the chill off.

 

 

submitted by Stephanie Blackford

Celebrity Weddings – Even The Rich and Famous Keep It Sweet and Simple

Lauren Conrad celebrates her husband's infamous name by adding red, ripe apples to her centerpieces. Easy and inexpensive!

Lauren Conrad celebrates her husband’s infamous name by adding red, ripe apples to her centerpieces. Use another favorite fruit to highlight the ‘Perfect Pair.’

A recent issue of Us Magazine features celebrity Lauren Conrad’s wedding photos. As hard as this is for me to admit, I don’t really know who Lauren Conrad is or why she is famous. I am over 40, you see. Barely over, but over. The only reason I saw the magazine was because I was getting a manicure; a manicure that included polish in a nice, subtle, tasteful shade of pale pink. The teen-woman next to me was getting blue glitter on every other nail. Betcha she knows all about Lauren Conrad.

Still, the piece on Conrad’s wedding caught my attention because it highlighted her small, sweet, personalized wedding. I’m a sucker for personalized anything. I take after my grandfather who, for reasons unknown but appreciated nonetheless, wrote his name (Norman Babor) on everything, including his (corded) phone.

Conrad was lucky because she married a man named William Tell; so personalizing with apples and arrows was obvious. (According to folklore, the original William Tell was a peasant who defied Austrian authority and was forced to shoot an apple from his son’s head in order to avoid being killed.) But even if you don’t marry William Tell – and you shouldn’t, because he’s taken – you can put your stamp on your own wedding or special event or telephone. Conrad made a freezer-full of apple pies for her wedding day. Over the (many) years, Epicurean has re-created signature dishes for brides and grooms; most recently a hand-tossed fig pizza as part of the cocktail hour eats. You know Larry DiPasquale must really believe in love if he is game for using another man’s pizza recipe.

Here is some celebrity inspiration that will make you shine like a star:

Lauren Conrad and William Tell sealing it with a kiss.

Lauren Conrad and William Tell sealing it with a kiss.

Amal Alamuddin had cufflinks custom made for husband-to-be George Clooney. His name was engraved in Arabic to reflect her her heritage.

Amal Alamuddin had cufflinks custom made for husband-to-be George Clooney. His name was engraved in Arabic to reflect her her heritage.

When Dawn O'Porter and Chris Dowd married in 2012, they put their names in lights. DIYers could pull this off in a weekend.

When Dawn O’Porter and Chris Dowd married in 2012, they put their names in lights. DIYers could pull this off in a weekend.

Katie Couric and John Molner’s  skipped the traditional white concoction for their favorite Lemon-Strawberry Cake

Katie Couric and John Molner skipped the traditional white concoction for their favorite Lemon-Strawberry Cake.

When Angelina married Brad, she had their children's artwork embroidered into her dress. Too colorful? Have children's artwork screen printed on a handkerchiefs for the bride, groom, and other special guests like grandparents. Sweet and sentimental.

When Angelina married Brad, she had their children’s artwork embroidered into her dress. Too colorful? Have children’s artwork screen printed on handkerchiefs for the bride, groom, and other special guests. Sweet and sentimental.

Speaking of dresses, Beyonce's mother made hers.

Speaking of dresses, Beyonce’s mother made hers. This is a big ask. This could make your mother into your “something blue” depending on her sewing skills…

Miranda Lambert wore her mother's wedding dress when she said 'I Do' to Blake Shelton.

Miranda Lambert wore her mother’s wedding dress when she said ‘I Do’ to Blake Shelton. She also shot the deer that was served at dinner. At Epicurean, we’ve done a lot of custom menus…but…wow.

Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth included a s'mores station at the reception. This Epicurean specialty continues to be on the menu for many of 'our' couples.

Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth included a s’mores station at the reception. This Epicurean specialty continues to be on the menu for many of ‘our’ couples.

Princess Diana's famous sapphire and diamond engagement ring was the same one Will used to propose to Kate.

Princess Diana’s famous sapphire and diamond engagement ring was the same one Will used to propose to Kate.

 

 

submitted by Stephanie Blackford

Feel The Beet

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According to historians, beets have been around since 800 BC (who decides to research this stuff is beyond us, but who are we to judge?). Turns out these interesting vegetables were found in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon which, by the way, are one of the Seven Wonders of the World. So does that make beets extra special? Are they a hanger-on to The Hanging Gardens’ claim to fame?

Who knows, but beets are enjoying their plate popularity these days; and finding their way into all kinds of recipes from salads to soups to smoothies.

Beets do boast loads of nutritional hutzpah, including lowering blood pressure, boosting stamina, and fighting cancer. And they add a great texture and bold color to any dish. They are pretty AND smart.

Epicurean recently served a version of this delicious beet salad at a fundraiser and the live auction went gangbusters! See – that boosting stamina thing is real.

Epicurean’s Feel the Beets Salad

Serves: 4| Prep: 10 mins| Cook: 30 mins

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium beets cleaned and halved
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 (10 ounce) package baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 avocadoes, chopped

Directions:

  • Place beets into a saucepan, and fill with enough water to cover
  • Bring to a boil and cook until tender (approx. 30 minutes)
  • Drain and cool, then cut into cubes
  • While the beets are cooking, place the walnuts in a skillet over medium-low heat
  • Heat until warm and starting to toast, then stir in the maple syrup.
  • Cook and stir until evenly coated
  • Remove from the heat and set aside to cool
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice concentrate, balsamic vinegar and olive oil
  • Place a small amount of dressing on each plate (this is a good trick, adds flavor at the bottom and keeps greens from sliding off the plate!)
  • Place a large helping of spinach onto each of four salad plates,
  • Divide the candied walnuts equally and sprinkle over the greens.
  • Place equal amounts of beets over the greens, and top with dabs of goat cheese and avocado
  • Drizzle each plate with some dressing
  • Enjoy

 submitted by Stephanie Blackford 

Joan Rivers’ Secret Family Recipe

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I just returned from New York City aka The Big Apple aka The City that Never Sleeps aka The Ultimate Cultural-Culinary Melting Pot, all of which make it one of the great cities of the world. I found that the recent death of Joan Rivers has hit New Yorkers hard, especially Gordon, a middle-aged man who I found weeping into his iPad on a park bench outside my sister’s Murray Hill pad. I felt badly for him.

I felt even worse when I found him on the same park bench the next day. Still crying. He had been her fan since before her first facelift and fondly told me an unsolicited story of seeing her one morning walking her Yorkie (which, given the name, is THE quintessential New York breed). He said good morning, she said good morning and, for him, that was good enough.

While I’ve known for a while that Rivers was, underneath, a warm and gracious woman (with a sharp and biting humor), I had no idea she was quite the gifted cook. (Neither did Gordon, but to him she could do anything and everything, including walk her own dog.) Take a look at one of her famous family recipes below. Let us know via Facebook if you attempt to create this masterpiece in your own kitchen. Remember, take your time and be patient – practice makes perfect.

 

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submitted by stephanie blackford

DIY Wedding Videos? I DO!

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In the “olden days,” like five years ago, not everyone and their 80 year-old grandmother had a smartphone. Oh, how times have changed! You can now unlock your car, pay for dinner, find directions, figure out your heart rate, listen to Katy Perry and break up with a boyfriend all with one little accessory. America! What a country! If the smartphone came equipped with breath spray and built-in sunglasses, we wouldn’t even need the latest Michael Kors bag anymore. Which would make life easier, but much less attractive.

Wedit is the latest accessory for the soon-to-be-married crowd. This genius idea, (started in the olden days of 2008), allows wedding guests to record even the smallest moments of the big day, ship the footage to the folks at Wedit, and either have a video edited by the Wedit pros or receive the tools necessary to edit the footage themselves. At approximately $500, the Wedit video is significantly less expensive than hiring a crew; with the average cost of a wedding videographer hitting the $2200 mark, the savings is a gift in itself.

So – how, exactly, does Wedit work? The Tuesday before the wedding, the bride and groom receive five high-definition iPod touch cameras and designate their most kind, trustworthy, sober friends to record any and all parts of their wedding celebration (except maybe that nasty exchange with a little sister and the inter-workings of a spray tan). The iPod Touch allows for both video with sound and photography, a great option for those couples who are on a tight budget and want to use Wedit for both their video and photo needs.

Once everything has been recorded, the couple sends the cameras back to Wedit (by the Tuesday following their event) and the pros upload all of the footage. Then the couple can either edit the videos themselves or pay an additional fee for Wedit to do it for them.

Wedit then hosts the videos on their site for a year, allowing couples the chance to force friends and family to watch their wedding video an obscene amount of times which is all fair in love and weddings. After a year, Wedit takes the video off of their site, but the couple will have a copy for keeps. One-stop shopping for that once-in-a-lifetime day is fantastic. And the five hundred bucks is just icing on the wedding cake.

Sour Cherries Offer A Sweet Dessert

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I recently made this fantastic Sour Cherry Crisp. At least I think it is fantastic, considering I didn’t eat it. No, no, not because I lack a sweet tooth (by now we all know that is a complete and total falsehood), but because I am gluten-free and was out of almond flour and was therefore very SAD. Sad, I tell you.

But every single person in my house devoured it, so I have proof that it was delicious.

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s simple; all of the ingredients (besides the cherries) are in most kitchens. The other great thing about this recipe is that I actually have a cherry tree in my backyard, so I sent my four little minis out to pick lots and lots of cherries. This kept them busy for hours. Then how SAD was I? Not sad at all, I tell you.

Once the cherries were picked, we washed them and then pitted them, which offers a lot of opportunities for smashing, smushing, and comparing cherries to various body parts. The boys took the lead on this, because in this one instance, boys are better than girls.

Fresh Sour Cherry Crisp

Serves: 10

Prep Time: Depends on if you, too, have a cherry tree in your backyard and in-home child labor – if cherries are store bought, approximately 20 minutes

Bake Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 4 cups pitted sour cherries
  • 5 cups white sugar
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour (if you are gluten-free like I am, and smart enough to have almond-flour in your pantry, not like I am, feel free to use it!)
  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • In a large bowl combine cherries, white sugar and 4 tablespoons of flour
  • Pour into a 9X13 greased baking dish
  • In a medium bowl (let’s be honest here, folks, I used the same bowl – less dishes) combine 1.5 cups of all-purpose flour, oats and brown sugar
  • Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly and sprinkle over cherries
  • Bake in preheated oven until for 45 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly
  • Serve with vanilla ice cream or greek yogurt

 Submitted by Stephanie Blackford

No Bake Fourth of July Desserts – Let Freedom (From the Kitchen) Ring!

As you may know, I am a fan of desserts. Like, if I were a teenager, I would have posters of cakes on my wall. It’s that bad.

But I am also a fan of feeding my crew healthy, non-food dyed, non-creepy-chemical eats. And that core belief is part of the Epicurean Group Bill of Rights created by our forefather. Real food for real people. God Bless America.

There are several holiday desserts that fit the – um – bill. Or at least almost fit the bill, with a  little modification. And these treats are simple enough to do quickly, don’t require an oven, and won’t cause that post-dessert guilt. I spend my life feeling guilty about the desserts. But those who can not do, teach. Here we go:

Love this portable dessert!

Directions:

  • Puree strawberries in a  blender with a little bit of agave
  • Place strawberries, organic vanilla or lemon yogurt, and blueberries in a mason jar or drinking glass
  • Chill
  • Serve

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If you want to steer clear of the fake stuff, use 100% real chocolate, organic pretzel rods, and  an all-natural food dye to create red, white, and blue pretzel sticks – and skip the sprinkles (they are a mess anyway).Warm chocolate on the stove, dip pretzel rods, and place rods on wax paper in the refrigerator for an hour.

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Alternate bananas, strawberries and blueberries to create this edible flag! This is a great project for little tykes – keeps them busy for a good 8 minutes!

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These are made with Rice Krispie treats, but you can swap out pineapple for the stars – making this a great breakfast, snack or dessert.

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