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I seem to crave fruits and veggies during the summer months, and I bet you do too!  With cauliflower currently in season, nothing could be easier than Roasted Cauliflower Steaks.  They make a satisfying and hearty side dish and can even serve as the centerpiece of a meal.  Think of them as vegetarian steaks!

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Each head of cauliflower will make two or three “steaks,” depending on the size of the head.  To cut the steaks, first peel away the green leaves, rinse the cauliflower, and cut a little off the bottom stem/stalk of the cauliflower.  Be sure to leave the stem/stalk intact because it will hold the florets together!

The goal is to cut steaks from the middle part of the cauliflower.  You can lay the cauliflower on its side and with one cut, take off the florets to the right of the stem.  Then cut the first steak about 1/2 inch thick by cutting a slice through the florets and stem.  Gently lay the steak on a parchment-covered baking sheet.  Repeat.  You should be able to cut one or two more steaks.  Save the extra florets for the Cauliflower & Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin recipe coming up on FoodieOasis or your favorite cauliflower side dish!

It is time to season and roast the cauliflower.  Brush each steak with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  We all need a little extra spice in our life, right?  Right!  So add a little kick with some crushed red pepper flakes.   Roast for 25-30 minutes at 425 degrees F.   Then place them under the broiler (watching constantly) for a minute or two to add some color.

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These are great just like this or herbify them with a little gremolata (click here for a gremolata recipe ) or pesto.  (I know, herbify isn’t really a word, but it describes what came to mind when I made this version.) Enjoy!

Roasted Cauliflower Steaks
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Vegetarian
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 heads of cauliflower
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Peel away any green leaves, rinse the cauliflower, and trim the stems.
  3. Leave the stems intact.
  4. The goal is to cut steaks from the middle part of the cauliflower. Lay the cauliflower on its side and with one cut, take off the florets to the right of the stem.
  5. Cut the first steak about ½ inch thick by cutting a slice through the florets and stem.
  6. Gently lay the steak on a parchment-covered baking sheet.
  7. Repeat. You should be able to cut one or two more steaks.
  8. Brush each steak with olive oil.
  9. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  10. (Optional) Sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes.
  11. Roast for 25-30 minutes at 425 degrees F until barely tender.
  12. Then place under them under the broiler (watching constantly) for a minute or two to add some color.
  13. For added flavor, serve with gremolata or pesto.
Notes
Save the extra florets for another cauliflower side dish!

 

© 2016 FoodieOasis

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Confetti Salad is my favorite pasta salad and is perfect for summer parties.  This recipe combines orzo pasta, colorful fresh veggies, and a vinaigrette to create a bowlful of scrumptious, edible confetti.   For a gluten-free version, just substitute rice for the orzo.  This Confetti Salad is a great main dish or side dish!

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To get started, cook 1 cup of dry orzo pasta or rice.  This will make at least 3 cups of cooked pasta or rice.  If you are using pasta, drain it.  Let the pasta/rice cool.  While the pasta/rice cooks, it is time to get the veggie add-ins ready.  I like to have a variety of textures—some crunchy and some soft and creamy.  To achieve this, leave some of the veggies raw (radishes, green onions and bell peppers), slice the carrots and cook them in lightly-salted water until they are just tender, and blanch the whole snap peas in salted, boiling water for a minute.   Dice the yellow and red bell peppers and slice the green onions and radishes.  I like to use a mandolin to slice the radishes so they are all the same thickness.  If the radishes are large, slice the rounds in half (see photo below).

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Slice the snap peas at an angle to add a pretty touch to the salad.  The goal is to add about 1/2 a cup of each of the veggies, except I only use about 1/4 cup of the sliced green onions.

Now it is time to assemble.  You will need 1/4 cup of your favorite Italian dressing or vinaigrette.  Don’t tell, but if you are in a hurry you can even use a store-bought dressing and it will still be great! 🙂  Add the dressing to the cooked pasta and gently stir to coat each grain of the orzo with the silky liquid.

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Then add each of the veggies to the pasta, except for the green onions.

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Now sprinkle on some salt and pepper.  You can even add a few red pepper flakes if you want to give the salad a little kick.

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Then gently stir the mixture until all of the ingredients are evenly spread throughout.  At this point, I can’t resist tasting it, but it needs to be refrigerated to let the flavors come together.  (Don’t forget to put the green onions in the refrigerator too.)  This salad just gets better with time.  When you are ready to serve it, stir in the green onions and place this edible confetti on a serving platter or just serve it right out of the bowl.

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This will be a festive addition to your next summer party.  As with many recipes, this one was inspired by my mom.  She used to make a version of this with rice instead of pasta, a creamy Italian dressing instead of the vinaigrette, and a slightly different combination of veggies, so feel free to experiment.  But, as always, enjoy!

Confetti Salad with Pasta or Rice
 
This is my favorite pasta salad and is perfect for summer parties. Substitute rice for a gluten-free version.
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 5-6 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta or rice
  • ½ cup blanched and sliced, fresh snap peas
  • ½ cup sliced, cooked carrots
  • ½ cup thinly sliced radishes
  • ¼ cup diced red bell peppers
  • ¼ cup diced yellow bell peppers
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions
  • ¼ cup Italian dressing/vinaigrette
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
Instructions
  1. Cook the orzo pasta or rice according to package directions. Do not overcook it. Let the pasta/rice cool.
  2. Blanch the whole snap peas. Blanch them by bringing lightly-salted water to a boil. Add the whole snap peas to the boiling water and let them boil for 1 minute. Remove the snap peas and immediately put them in a bowl of ice water to instantly stop the cooking.
  3. When the snap peas are cool, drain them completely and slice them at an angle to create 3 or 4 pieces from each snap pea.
  4. Peel and slice one or two carrots, depending on size. Place the sliced carrots in enough salted water to just cover them. Simmer then until they are just tender. Remove them from the water and let them cool.
  5. Add the dressing/vinaigrette to the cooled pasta/rice. Gently stir to coat the pasta/rice with the dressing/vinaigrette.
  6. Add all of the vegetables, except for the green onions, to the pasta/rice.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you are using red pepper flakes, add them now.
  8. Gently stir the mixture to combine.
  9. Refrigerate the mixture and the green onions until chilled.
  10. When you are ready to serve it, gently stir in the green onions.

 

© 2016 FoodieOasis

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We took some of our friends sailing, so I decided that we had to have some cookies.  I remembered that one of our friends can only have gluten-free cookies and another prefers crispy cookies.  Therefore, I knew these Chocolate chip & Pecan Meringue Cookies were the perfect choice.  Both the original and raspberry (shown below) are crispy, crunchy and addictive!

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They are also naturally gluten-free because the “batter” is entirely made from egg whites and sugar.  In addition, they are somewhat low in fat because you do not use any oil or butter.  The only sources of fat are a handful of chocolate chips and pecans.  Besides, chocolate and nuts are good for you, right? 🙂

These cookies are also very easy to make.  Just place two egg whites, preferably room temperature, in the bowl of a stand mixer.  (If you forgot to set your eggs out to warm up, you can place in them in a bowl with warm water and let them stand for about 10 minutes.  Just make sure not to use hot or boiling water because you don’t want hard-boiled eggs. 🙂 )  If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can also use a glass or metal bowl and a handheld mixer.  Just don’t use a plastic bowl.  Plastic bowls tend to hold oil from prior cooking ingredients and prevent the egg whites from getting stiff enough when beaten.

Once the eggs whites are starting to get stiff, add in the sugar and continue beating until they are stiff.  Then gently fold in the remaining ingredients and scoop mounds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.

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If you want, you can even add a little raspberry juice to turn them light pink!

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Place the cookies in a preheated 350 degree F oven and turn the oven off.  Let the cookies “bake” for at least 3 hours or overnight.  Don’t open the door until the time has elapsed.  Now you know the only hard part—you have to remember to make the cookies at least 3 hours before you need them. 🙂 Then be ready for addictive crunchy cookies.  Just like potato chips, you can’t eat just one.  Enjoy!

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© 2016 FoodieOasis

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Chocolate chip & Pecan Meringue Cookies --- Naturally Gluten Free & Low Fat
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Cookies
Serves: 20
Ingredients
  • 2 egg whites
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • ⅓ cup chopped pecans
  • 2-3 Tbsp. raspberry juice from 1 cup frozen raspberries (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form and they glisten
  3. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating the egg whites until the sugar is incorporated
  4. If you want raspberry cookies, add the raspberry juice (optional) and beat until combined.
  5. Gently fold in the chocolate chips and pecans with a spatula. Be careful not to deflate the egg whites.
  6. Using a small scoop or teaspoon, scoop small mounds of the meringue mixture onto a parchment covered baking sheet. Leave an inch or two between each cookie.
  7. Place the meringue cookies in the oven and turn the oven off.
  8. Leave the cookies in the oven at least 3 hours, overnight is even better, to let the meringue cook and dry to a nice crispy texture. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN UNTIL THEY ARE DONE!
Notes
The raspberries are completely optional. They turn these typically white cookies into light pink cookies (shown in the photo). If you decide to use the raspberries, thaw them and place them in a fine mesh strainer. Place the strainer over a bowl. Using the back of a spoon press the raspberries to release their juice.

Happy Valentine’s Day!  But this gluten-free molten chocolate cake is great any day whether or not you have to avoid gluten!  In fact, Jeff couldn’t decide which was which in a side-by-side comparison with my flour-based molten-chocolate cake recipe ( click here for that recipe ).  He said they were both great and trying to tell them apart was like splitting hairs, so I took that as a success on both accounts!  Now for this fudgy, gluten free version…

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A friend who hoped I would start developing more gluten-free recipes, gave me some Blue Diamond Extra-Fine Almond flour.  Thanks Peggy!

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As a result, I had a lot of fun experimenting with how to turn my original recipe for molten chocolate cake into a gluten-free version using the almond flour.   I had two main goals:  1)  the gluten-free version had to taste as good as the original, and 2) in addition to the almond flour, I wanted to find all the other ingredients in my pantry—no other special ingredients.

I started with a one-for-one substitution of an equal amount of almond flour for the all-purpose flour just to get an idea for what the texture would be like, so I could decide what changes I should make.  The end result tasted good, but it was too wet and didn’t develop enough of a cake-like texture on the edges.  I knew I needed more almond flour, but I didn’t want to “water-down” the chocolate flavor.  So I also added some cocoa powder, which served the double purpose of adding more depth to the chocolate flavor and keeping the batter from being too wet.

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After experimenting, I was excited to hit on what we decided was the winning combination.  Melted semisweet chocolate, melted butter, sugar, almond flour, cocoa, an egg, and an egg yolk.

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Then it was simple.  I just whisked together the ingredients until they were wet and combined.

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This recipe makes two servings, so I divided the chocolate batter between two individual baking cups and placed the baking cups on a small baking sheet.

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A little patience is required while they bake for about 18 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Ovens vary a lot, so I experimented to find just the right time .  You can test the cakes with a toothpick.   The center should be molten (still wet) and the edges should be cake like.  The cakes will keep cooking when you remove them from the oven, so take them out a little before you think they are ready.

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Remove the cakes and let them cool for 2-3 minutes.  Enjoy them immediately!

Easy Gluten-Free Molten Chocolate Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 oz. semisweet chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. extra fine Almond Flour (I used Blue Diamond Extra-Fine Almond Flour)
  • 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Chop the chocolate into small pieces.
  3. Place the butter and chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe mixing bowl. Microwave it for 30 seconds at 50% power. Stir. Repeat the heating and stirring until all of the chocolate is melted after you stir it. You do not want the chocolate mixture to get too hot---just warm enough for the chocolate to melt.
  4. Let the chocolate and butter mixture cool for 2-3 minutes to make sure it will not cook the eggs when you add them.
  5. Place the egg and egg yolk in a bowl and whisk them quickly to break up the egg yolks.
  6. Add the almond flour, cocoa, sugar, and chocolate mixture to the eggs. Whisk gently until just combined.
  7. Divide the chocolate batter between two individual baking cups (e.g., custard cups).
  8. Place the custard cups on a small baking sheet.
  9. Bake for about 17-18 minutes
  10. Test with toothpick. The center should still be wet, but the edges should be cake-like.
  11. Remove them from the oven and let them cool for 2-3 minutes.
Notes
If you bake the cakes too long or let them cool too long after removing them from the oven, the center will not be molten but will become more like fudge. Don't worry, they will still taste good! Because every oven is a little different, you may want to experiment with the baking time to get the center texture just like you like it. My husband loved these experiments!

© 2016 FoodieOasis

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With Halloween and Thanksgiving fast approaching, I am probably not the only one craving pumpkin desserts, right?  I guess it is just something about fall.  Last year, you may remember I posted my recipe for the decadent two-layer dessert with cheesecake for the bottom layer and pumpkin pie for the top layer [ Click here for that recipe ].  This year, I decided to combine the ideas for the two layers from last year’s recipe and create an extra easy and yummy pumpkin dessert called Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie that you can whip up quickly but will look and taste amazing. This dessert can be cooked without the crust for a gluten-free version as well.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

I started with my dad’s cheesecake recipe.  He made the best cheesecakes, from plain cheesecakes to chocolate rum ones, so I decided his basic recipe would be a great place to start for the pumpkin cheesecake filling for the “pie”.  In the bowl of the electric mixture, I combined the room temperature cream cheese, eggs and sugar until they were smooth.  Then I added a can of pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla!  Sounds yummy and easy, right?

Now for the extra easy part.  No spring form pan and no graham cracker crust to make.  I just bought a large, pre-made graham cracker crust—ready to use.  Then I poured the filling into the crust until it was almost all the way to the top edge.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

I had a little extra filling, so I wanted to experiment with cooking the same filling it in custard cups for a gluten-free version.  I poured the remaining filling into four custard cups and set them in a larger baking dish filled with a little water.  The water came 1/3 to 1/2 way up the sides of the custard cups.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

Then I baked the pie and the custard filled cups in a 325 degree F oven.  The custard cups were set in about 20-25 minutes, so I removed them to cool.  The pie was ready in 45-55 minutes when the edges were set and the middle was just a little giggly.  After they cool, they need to be refrigerated until they are fully set up.  Then it is time to decorate them.

For a little Halloween twist, I decided to create a spider web look on top of the pie with whipped cream, caramel and chocolate sauce.  What could be better?  I whipped 2 cups of heavy cream with a little powdered sugar and vanilla.  Then I spread it on top of the cooled pie.  Of course, I had to taste the cream a few times along the way just to make sure it was just right.  🙂   To keep the extra easy theme going, I bought some caramel sauce and chocolate sauce, but you could make your own.  Zip top bags are great for fast decorating, so I put some of the caramel sauce in one zip top bag, cut off a small part of the corner and set the bag in a glass to catch any drips.  Then I did the same thing with the chocolate sauce.

Now for the fun part.  Starting at the outside, I “drew” a circle of caramel around the top of the pie, then drew another circle about an inch inside the first one and kept repeating this process until I reached the center of the pie.  Don’t worry about making perfect circles.  I didn’t, and it still looked great!  Now for the chocolate.  I drew a chocolate circle between each pair of caramel circles.  Then using a toothpick, I created the spiderweb pattern by starting at the center of the pie and gently dragging the toothpick to the outer edge. Then I rotated the pie and repeated until I had finished the pattern.  For a final touch of crunch, I sprinkled a few chopped pecans on top.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

Of course the custard cup versions needed some chocolate too!

Pumpkin-Cheesecake-Pie-20151019-01

Or maybe ooey-gooey caramel, chocolate and pecans!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

Now time for a taste!  Wow.  It is really good.  Luscious, creamy and lightly pumpkin-y with a nice hint of the pumpkin pie spice, but not too much.  Just what I had hoped for.  Who knew that cheesecake could be so easy!  The recipe is below, so try it and let me know what you think.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
Pie Filling and Crust
  • 3 8 oz. packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 15 oz. can pure pumpkin puree (pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 pre-made graham cracker pie crust (large version)
Whipped Cream and Toppings
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • ⅓ cup pecans, chopped (optional)
  • Caramel sauce (optional)
  • Chocolate sauce (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Place the cream cheese, eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. You can also use an electric hand mixer.
  3. Mix the ingredients until they are smooth.
  4. Add the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and 1 tsp. of vanilla. Mix until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  5. Pour the filling into the graham cracker crust. You may have a little left. You can bake the leftover filling in custard cups.
  6. Bake the “pie” for 45-55 minutes. The edges will be set, but the middle will still be a little jiggly (soft). Filling baked in custard cups should be set in 20-25 minutes.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. Then refrigerate until set.
  9. Top with whipped cream. For a spider web design, pipe alternating circles of caramel sauce and chocolate sauce on top of the whipped cream. Then with a toothpick, start at the center and gently drag the toothpick to the outer edge. Rotate and repeat until you have created a spiderweb-like pattern. Then sprinkle chopped pecans on top! Enjoy!
Notes
Note that you can make a gluten free version of this dessert by omitting the graham cracker crust and cooking the filling in custard cups. Place the custard cups in a larger baking dish. Add water until it comes about ⅓ to ½ up the sides of the cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes until just barely set.

 © 2015 FoodieOasis

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