Monday, February 25, 2013

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites w. Yogurt Gorgonzola Dip for #MeatlessMonday

 

My husband and I don't celebrate Valentine's Day in a big way, with fancy dinners and jewelry. But we do make sure to carve out some nice family time. This year, we asked our son what he'd like to do for dinner and he chose the local, family-friendly pub; it's a favorite of his because they have video games, not because the food is so exceptional (it isn't).

We hadn't been there in a while so I was struck by a new menu item: Buffalo Cauliflower "Wings." Any regular readers of this blog already know I'm sort of obsessed with this cruciferous veggie. Cauliflower is packed with goodies like vitamins C and K, as well as folate (so crucial during before conception and in early pregnancy to prevent birth defects), potassium, and manganese; it's also loaded with fiber, promoting digestive health plus satiety. Plus, cauliflower is an incredibly flexible ingredient, so it works as a fabulous low-carb, low-calorie substitute for rice, as an addition to pasta, or even as a faux popcorn!

The "wings" at the pub were yummy, but deep-fried and heavy. I knew I had to make my own at home. I did a quick search and found this version from Peta; it seemed like a great place to start. With a few little changes, it turned out fantastic and truly satisfied that buffalo sauce craving I sometimes get. Hey, I ain't too proud to admit that!

(adapted from Peta.org)

Ingredients
serves 2-4
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup flour*
1 tsp. ground, dried garlic (or garlic powder)
small head of cauliflower, cut into florets (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup hot sauce (I used Frank's)
2T melted butter or coconut oil

*I used this gluten-free baking mix because it's made with rice flour, which is probably the ideal flour for this dish (I didn't have plain rice flour handy). As with tempura, rice flour lends a crispy and light breading to the cauliflower. 



Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.


The mix I used includes almond flour, so that's what those brown specks are.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the water, flour and dried garlic. Dip each floret into the batter, letting the excess drip off. Place the florets on a large, parchment-covered baking sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes.

In the meantime, mix the hot sauce and melted butter together in a small bowl. (I increased the amount of butter from the original recipe because I wanted the bites to be a bit crispier.) Once the cauliflower is baked, brush the sauce on both sides of the florets, making sure they are entirely coated. Put cauliflower back in the oven for 8-10 minutes, until the florets are a bit browned and slightly crunchy.



These are spicy, kids! Make sure you serve them with some celery sticks and Yogurt Gorgonzola Dressing. I'd suggest making the protein- and probiotic-packed dressing without adding salt: the blue cheese** is pretty salty and so is the hot sauce. You can always add salt later, if you feel you need it. If you're looking for a vegan dipping sauce, here's a ranch dressing you might like.



Despite the photo above, I'd recommend using a fork to dip these bites—since these cauliflower bites are boneless (can you imagine if they weren't?! nightmare-worthy!) they aren't as sturdy for dunking as real wings.

The last step in this recipe: DIG IN!


**If you're pregnant and concerned about the blue cheese in the dressing, the CDC recommends choosing only pasteurized blue-veined cheeses, so check your package.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Cannoli Cream-Filled Strawberries


My dearest Cannoli Cream, 

I love you. You are so sweet and silky smooth. When it's hot out, you make a wonderful base for ice cream, tossed with pistachios and dark chocolate chunks. Of course, I adore you in your classic shell, too, but that deep-fried pastry doesn't do my body any favors. So, this Valentine's Day, I've decided to give you a bright and juicy new home: a strawberry! You're a pretty nutritious pair (for a dessert, anyway), full of protein, calcium, and antioxidants. 

Will you be my Valentine? 

Love forever,
Justine




Ingredients
yields about two dozen filled strawberries, depending on how big your berries are and how much you fill them

  • 1 1/4 cup good quality ricotta
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 T powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • 24 strawberries, cleaned and dried
  • additional lemon zest or shaved dark chocolate for garnish (optional)

Trim the top and bottoms of the strawberries, so that they are level and can stand. Cut or scoop out the tops of the berries (I used my little 1/4 teaspoon measure).


Put the ricotta, cream cheese, sugar, honey, vanilla, and lemon zest into a food processor. Process for about three or four minutes, until the mixture is thick and smooth. Pipe or spoon the cannoli cream into the berries; I used a baggie and a star tip to make 'em look fancy.






Garnish with shaved dark chocolate...


or with lemon zest.



Happy Valentine's Day!


UPDATE: My friend, Ann, over at Sumptuous Spoonful made these and loved them!



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