No-Bake Raspberry Torte

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You might have read one of my early posts, “Imagine A World Without PMS.” And if you did, you found out that I went raw one summer. No, not naked. Just food naked. Imagine your food completely bare, stripped and in it’s purest form. Unprocessed. If it’s heated, it doesn’t go above 118 degrees. Raw foodists say that it’s the only way to eat, with nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables being at the core.

I can only speak from my own experience, but during that time of my life, I lost body inches that were stubbornly ingrained (even though I worked out six times a week), had more energy than a 14-year-old, slept only 4 hours a night and my skin looked as if I turned back the clock 20 years. Cons: it’s really challenging when eating out. You’ll most likely become a food server’s nightmare. And eating at any event can be difficult. Also, you must be a master at planning your shopping and meals. My anemia caused a few problems too.

Having said all of that, it was worth it enough for me to continue with what I learned by eating mostly raw foods during the early part of my day, then shifting to omnivore at night.

One of the best parts of a raw food diet? Eating dessert for breakfast. Or lunch. Or as a late night snack. The desserts are ridiculous, and this raspberry torte is worth the labor. (I’ll add a picture as soon as the rain lets up in our typically sunny kitchen.)

No-Bake Raspberry Torte

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder or extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt

Filling Ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • juice from one orange
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla powder or extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 4 tablespoons organic coconut oil
  • 1-2 cups frozen raspberries
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt

To make the crust:

  1. Pulse the walnuts six times in the food processor for 30 seconds. Then add the dates, vanilla and sea salt until it begins to get nice and sticky.
  2. Put some coconut oil on the bottom of a cake pan (or pie dish, or baking dish) and spread a thin layer with your fingers. Press the crust into the bottom of dish evenly.

To make the cream:

  1. Place the raspberries aside, and lend everything together until smooth. I had to add a bit of water to make it easier on the blender. 
  2. Add the berries to the remaining mixture in the blender and blend until smooth and pink.
  3. Put in the fridge or freezer for 48 hours.
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A Thanksgiving Week Menu You’ll Really Love

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Are you ready for the November meal that leaves you stuffed and comatose?

I am very ready. Shopped and prepped ready. But there’s a huge presumption that all parties can’t wait for the big bird, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce out of a can and yams with a marshmallow topping. But before we talk about why most of these aren’t particularly compelling dishes, I have one bomb to drop:

I hate turkey. 

This reveal comes as I see Thanksgiving images all over the Interwebs: families smiling as a matriarch carries an oversized browned bird to a table. They all look so happy to see what is clearly the Heisman Award winner of the Thanksgiving meal, but I smirk knowing that side dishes are my mainstay, (especially the rib roast lovingly and annually prepared by my aunt).

I’m hearing your comments now, “But you’ve never had my brined turkey!” And I’m sure your mother, aunt, grandmother, dad does a great job on your turkey too. I have incredible cooks in my family, including a cousin who is a trained chef that makes magic out of anything. But in my experience, Thanksgiving turkey is rarely good. It’s generally dry, bland and really, really boring. It’s a challenging meat to work with. You douse it in gravy to make it palatable. And consider how often you see turkey on a restaurant menu. Yeah, I thought so.

And the other dishes, the plain mashed potatoes are T.I.R.E.D. Caps intended. Dry stuffing could use a rework. My tastebuds have changed significantly, so the overly sticky sweetness of the yams is too much. And that cranberry sauce out of a can? It’s just sad. When I hear that “thwack” sound releasing the lonely cranberry jelly mold from a can, I run.

So this week, I have options (some new, some old) for you for during and after the annual Thanksgiving meal. Consider this a Thanksgiving meal/week makeover, and delicious options for the week, and that includes carnivores, vegans, raw foodists, vegetarians and paleo peeps.

Roast Chicken/Turkey Pot Pie

It's gluten-free y'all.

It’s gluten-free y’all.

One of my problems with turkey? The lack of fat. And fat is flavor. I find that most people eat turkey because they feel it’s healthier. But when comparing the fat content of both, the difference is negligible. A chicken also takes far less time to defrost. And leave that skin on you health freaks. It’s so fantastic, satisfying, and when done properly, better than sex. Well, not really. That depends on your partner. Once you’ve cooked either bird, make this gluten-free pot pie, which works with turkey or chicken. Start with this: Roast Chick For Your Chick Recipe, then make the pot pie: Gluten-Free Pot Pie Recipe

Garlic-Infused Greens Over Creamy Polenta

Garlicky Greens Polenta

I come from a family that eats greens every single holiday. Every family member uses bacon, a hamhock, or both. And that smoky flavor? Dashes of Tabasco? I’ll eat it up with no regrets. But I also like some crunch in my veggies rather than lifeless greens from a pot that’s been sitting on the stove all day. And with creamy, savory polenta topped with sweet corn? I love that little touch for this recipe that takes only 20 minutes: Garlic-Inflused Greens Over Creamy Polenta Recipe.

Cranberry Sauce That You Actually Love

cranberry sauce

This experiment resulted in one of my favorite and most fantastic side dishes. There are hints of orange zest, and I make it days before so that the flavors settle in even more: A Luscious Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Better Than Egg Salad (Vegan)

Craig Salad

If there’s a vegan present, they tend to feel a little isolated during Thanksgiving. While the rest of the crew eats dinner or leftovers, you might find yourself in one of two categories: 

  1. You don’t eat animal products.
  2. You’re hosting and need something for for someone who doesn’t eat animal products.

You can either ask them to bring their own meals/or you just bring your own meal. Or, you make this incredibly easy dish that doubles as breakfast/lunch. My husband created this amazing eggless salad years ago, and I’ve even served this to tofu-averse people (my mother) who thought it was heavenly and clever. Since she’s trying to watch her cholesterol, I’d say it is a winner: My Husband’s Better Than Egg Salad Recipe.

Dessert Grilled Cheese

A gluten-free grilled cheese sandwich.

A gluten-free grilled cheese sandwich.

This is not healthy. I repeat, this is not a healthy dish. But sometimes, you just have to go there. I always recommend indulging this time of year. I find feasting good for the soul. Just don’t turn into that little piggie that is ready to heave because you can’t control yourself. Alright, fine. Be that piggy.

Just imagine a slightly savory and sweet grilled mascarpone cheese sandwich with raspberry and chocolate shavings that is messy, gooey and rich: Mascarpone, Raspberry, Chocolate Grilled Cheese Recipe.

A No Bake Raspberry Cake

I love raw food desserts. When you can’t even tell that they’re uncooked is when you’ve succeeded, because many raw desserts are nut heavy/dense (but delicious), or they actually taste hippie-tastic. I add two of my favorite ingredients when making raw desserts: sunflower lecithin. The second is patience: I’m not giving away everything at once, so make sure you check back for the recipe coming come Wednesday afternoon.

Leftover Morrocan Turkey or Chicken Stew

One of the easiest recipes you can do: throw carrots, onion, garlic, north African herbs and leftover turkey into a pot and have something that feels like an entirely new dish that can be made in no time flat: Morrocan Turkey Stew Recipe.

Smoothies For EVERYONE!

A Vanilla, Almond Smoothie. Completely healthy, filling and easy. By Mona Holmes @cookthisgetlaid

A Vanilla, Almond Smoothie. Completely healthy, filling and easy. By Mona Holmes @cookthisgetlaid

Calling all Paleos, vegans, vegetarians, raw food people and omnivores!  Here is your dessert/breakfast or very fast snack. Those of you scrunching your foreheads for lack of recognition of the word Paleo, now hear this: the Paleo diet is all about eliminating foods not available during the Paleolithic era. That includes dairy products, grains, legumes, processed oils, and refined sugar. But somehow, butter is okay. I’ve never quite understood that, but don’t care because butter is my everything. Wait, we’re talking about smoothies….

Whatever you choose, everyone adores this smoothie. If you make it this week, it staves off hunger, while tasting like ice cream. There isn’t a drop of refined foods or sugars in this, so go for it: Vanilla Almond Smoothie Recipe.

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Posted in Breakfast, Cocktails, CTGL Tip, Dessert, Dinner, Gluten-free, Lunch | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Morrocan Inspiration: A Spiced Chicken Stew With Carrots

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Morrocan Chicken

This slow cooker recipe just made an incredibly busy week, easy. Here’s how easy: five minutes of prep, you walk away, and four hours later (with no stirring or checking it), you are eating this.

Your trusty (and probably dusty) slow cooker needs to be brought back into your life. For those of you that hate cooking, just head on over to Amazon, spend $45 bucks, and it will be worth the investment. This aromatic and healthy meal will be repeated in your kitchen.

You can use just about any meat. I would highly recommend using turkey, a meat that needs a little help in the flavor department. The carrots act as a layer of protection for the meat, so they won’t get burned.

Enjoy!

Spiced Chicken Stew With Carrots

Adapted from MarthaStewart.com

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 8 chicken legs or thighs, skin on
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Cover carrots in slow cooker, and use as base of stew. Place chicken, garlic, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine meat with fingers. Place on top of carrots in slow cooker. Cover, and cook on high for 4 hours (or on low for 8 hours). Set your timer, then add raisins 15 minutes before cooking time is complete.

Take the cinnamon stick out first, then use a slotted spoon to transfer chicken and carrots to a dish. Top with parsley and almonds. Season cooking liquid with salt and pepper; spoon over chicken. 

OVEN METHOD: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In step 1, use a 5-quart Dutch oven or ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid, adding 1 cup water. Cover, and bake until chicken is tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Proceed with step 2.

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Posted in Dinner, Gluten-free | 1 Comment

RECIPE: A Boozy, Luscious Cranberry Sauce

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Ditch that canned cranberry sauce NOW! Unless you love it. But I can’t imagine you’ll go back to it after trying this recipe. There are six total ingredients, and if you make it a few days in advance, the flavors kick in something fierce. Let me know how yours turns out.

cranberry sauce

A Boozy Cranberry Sauce

  • a 12-ounces bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup sugar or Stevia
  • 1/3 cup vodka
  • 3 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
  • 1/2 teaspoon of orange zest
  • 1/4 cup water

Use a heavy medium saucepan and a low-medium heat while adding the cranberries, sugar, and 1/4 cup water. Bring to boil, stirring often to dissolve sugar, then reduce heat as low as you can low and keep stirring until about 20 minutes. Add the vodka and orange liqueur (I used triple sec), then the orange zest. Let the alcohol cook for about 5 minutes, remove from heat and transfer to a glass storage container. Refrigerate and allow it to set for 2 hours, and you are GOOD.

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Posted in CTGL Tip, Dinner | Tagged | 1 Comment

RECIPE: Garlic-Infused Greens Over Creamy Polenta

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Garlicky Greens Polenta“It tastes amazing. Greens and corn, but better. Healthier. Man, this is fucking good.”

This was one of the comments about my Garlic-Infused Greens Over Creamy Polenta, when serving this at a dinner party a few months back. Could I have made another more recognized dish when thinking of an Italian theme? Perhaps. I wanted something unexpected, and (considering I was making four dishes with a different national theme), easy. This is it. I put little pieces of sweet corn in the polenta after it was done, just for a little added texture and sweetness.

Continue reading

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Posted in Dinner, Gluten-free, Lunch | 1 Comment

Lamb Chops Garlic, Rosemary & Sea Salt

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I’ve eaten this recipe twice in the last week. It has five ingredients and takes nine minutes to prep/cook. And sometimes you just have to let the pictures speak. 

Garlic, Rosemary & salt

Chop ingredients Continue reading

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Posted in Dinner | 2 Comments

MEN! Here’s How You Do It: Romance, Texting & Food

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Beach Sunset

I know what you’re doing right now. Rushing to check your email/Facebook/Twitter or text message on your way to work/bar/home/gym/school. I am right there with you, editing this blog post while cooking lunch. I’m not suggesting that you slow down, when there’s so much to do everyday. This is merely a reminder to put in the time for your loved ones, and how you can make technology work in your favor.

With some specifics on how to do it.

My friend is in love. He is so far gone, that he doesn’t know which end is up. He raves about her, and I often catch him in a smile while glancing into nothingness. You know that look: when the infatuated person recalls an intimate moment, and it’s vivid. But his romantic prowess was apparent when he showed me a text inviting her to dinner.

Here’s the plan. Let me pick you up at work around 8:15. I get to see where you spend most of your time. We go to your place, and I will buy some groceries if you have to tidy up (if necessary). I cook something for us, and we continue the conversation from yesterday. Sounds good?

He gets serious props for his approach. It was bold and confident. Want to know her response?

So, what are you cooking? :)

Continue reading

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Posted in CTGL Tip, Dinner, Go Out...Get Laid | Tagged | 1 Comment

Eat as much “ice cream” as you want!

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Guilt-free "ice cream" with an amazing cacao "chocolate" sauce is where it's at!!! Photo by Sarah via FitnHealthy Blog

Guilt-free “ice cream” with an amazing cacao “chocolate” sauce is where it’s at! Photo by Sara from the FitnHealthy blog.

Tell me what you see when looking at this picture. 

It looks like a creamy, cool bowl of ice cream with a velvety chocolate sauce, right? Wrong.

This entire dish is made out of bananas, almond butter, pure maple syrup, cacao powder and nuts. No processed sugar, no dairy, no chemicals and nothing but heaven in your mouth.

What I adore most about eating this on a 100 degree day, is that I can have one bowl. And then another. And one more if it suits the moment.  Continue reading

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Posted in Breakfast, Dessert, Gluten-free, Late Night Snack | Tagged | Leave a comment

Mimosas: saying goodbye to an old friend, and hello to a new one

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A mimosa alternative, with grapefruit juice and orange zest.

The Canadian (aka husband) drinks a mimosa alternative, with grapefruit juice and orange zest.

We’ve been friends, close ones for many years. We have shared so many moments together. And its not as if this is an unhealthy relationship. This just isn’t working anymore. You’re uninteresting. A relic of the 80s and 90s. And it’s time for us to end things.

I remember when we met. I was 22-years-old, working at a restaurant where bottomless mimosas had people coming in and drinking you up like you were the best thing on earth, but were you mimosa?

I got used to you. I didn’t hate you, but I didn’t like you very much either. I would take a sip and say, “You’re alright.” But never anything above that. I liken my relationship with you to a blind, bubbly acceptance, because everyone else loved you too. Or pretended to. Throughout the years, I sipped an endless stream of pale orange liquid from champagne flutes. 

And then I started to realize that that you equalled complacency.  You weren’t bad with me, and I didn’t abuse you either. I became aware of those relationships my girlfriends had, where they couldn’t pinpoint a single problem, but they were simply bored to death. I’m just not into you anymore. I never was.

So now I ask each of you join me in bidding farewell to mimosas. It’s time to let this stale staple go.  Continue reading

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Posted in Breakfast, Cocktails, CTGL Tip, Drinks | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Where to find your next girlfriend, or the perfect date for your wife/girlfriend

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cookingclass

A cooking class is the following: a place for you to meet a person with outside interests. OR a fantastic idea for those wanting to take your beloved to someplace new: a cooking class. Please don’t hate on the idea, so stay with me while I plead my case. Every time I recommend this to someone, a deeper conversation reveals that they have a preconceived notion of what a cooking class is and isn’t. They are not your typical kitchen or classroom. A cooking class is an experience. Consider it an amplified dinner party. 

There’s another element to think about. Even if she’s not remotely interested in cooking, there’s something enticing about a woman watching her man get his hands messy in the kitchen. I have the actual proof, as I watched five other couples do this a few weeks ago in Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom.

My enthusiasm about Chef Eric’s class was also shared with a male friend who immediately rolled his eyes and replied, “I have other things I need to do.”

Nothing makes me more frustrated than seeing someone overlook an opportunity. This guy has been out on numerous and expensive dates, all unsuccessful. And since he came to me for advice, I didn’t hesitate by saying, “This is the perfect place for you to meet women, or take your girlfriend or wife. If you had one.”

Said guy hasn’t asked me for advice in awhile. I’m also working on my delivery skills. Continue reading

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Posted in Appetizers, CTGL Tip, Dessert, Dinner | Tagged , | 3 Comments