Monday, December 31, 2012

Caramel Pear Chocolates

Caramel Pear Chocolates

Believe it or not, this recipe was actually a mistake. I tell you, if all my mistakes were this wonderful I wouldn't have any problems at all!

I was actually making the chocolate sauce for something else and ended up only using about half of it (don't worry, I already halved the original recipe for this post). I figured I should try to come up with an idea to use the rest, because I know much better than to waste chocolate. I didn't want to put it in the fridge for later because I knew it would solidify and be difficult to work with. Then I thought, why not make mini chocolates with it and THEN let it harden!

So, I opened the fridge and cabinets to try and figure out what I could use. I saw there was half of a pear in the fridge from earlier that day and immediately knew that is what I wanted to use. But was pear chocolate going to be enough? I'm sure it would be perfectly tasty, but I wanted something more.

Then I saw the dates, and I knew a caramel topping was the way to go! And believe me, it did not disappoint. The pears added a nice juiciness to the chocolate and the caramel made me feel like I was eating a decadent dessert. Definitely a perfect match. :)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lemon-Lime Chicken with Mushrooms and Onions

Lemon-lime chicken with mushrooms and onions

For some reason I have become slightly obsessed with lemons lately. Although I have been using them most often in desserts, and with my beloved avocados (of course!). I always tend to associate lemons with sweet things, but I thought why not try them out with a more savory dish instead?

Well, I had some chicken breasts on hand and I was trying to think of some new way to cook them. usually I just saute them up with some peppers, onions, and mushrooms...but that gets boring after a while. I had some extra lemons on hand so I thought, why not! I've heard of lemon chicken before, I've just never actually made it myself. I was sure it would be delicious, and while I was at it, I figured why not throw in some lime for good measure?

I am happy to announce it was a success! The chicken was actually really moist, and the sweet and sour tang from the lemons and limes went together really good with the mushrooms and onions. My husband loved it as well, which is a little rare when trying out new things. :)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Almond Flour Mushrooms with Chunky Marinara

Almond Flour Mushrooms with Chunky Marinara
I have always been a huge fan of Italian food, specifically pizza and pasta. I remember as a child spaghetti and meatballs was always my favorite dish (and still to this day is one of the best)!

But lately my husband and I have been trying to stay away from having too much gluten products, so spaghetti was a no-no. However, there's no gluten in the sauce! I've come to realize that most of my favorite Italian foods are based around the marinara anyway. I never did like Alfredo sauce, and I can't say I know a whole lot about the rest of the Italian cuisine...

So the question was, what could I serve with marinara?

Mushrooms of course! They are low fat, low in carbohydrates, high in vitamins B and D, and just so delicious and juicy when baked. Not to mention me and my husband are both big mushroom fans. They are just so versatile, and seem to go good with almost any dish.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Mushroom Serrano Burgers

Mushroom Serrano Burgers

 I was looking for Jalapeno peppers in the store the other day when I came across a pepper I had never tried before. The "Serrano" pepper. Its shape and color is quite similar to that of a Jalapeno, only smaller. Usually smaller peppers mean they are spicier (I love spicy!), so I was eager to give this pepper a try.

I was surprised when I discovered it was actually a much milder pepper. It does have a similar flavor to the Jalapeno, it just doesn't pack as much heat. It was actually rather tasty though. It was especially good paired with the mushrooms and garlic in these burgers. :)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Breakfast Tomato and Egg Half-Loaf

Breakfast Tomato and Egg Half-Loaf

I realized a few weeks ago that I have never actually owned a loaf pan. I always see such wonderful recipes for loaves that I want to try, but I usually end up turning them into muffins instead. Somehow I just couldn't justify spending $15 on a piece of cookware that essentially just turns bread into a different shape.
I mean when you have a muffin tin and cake tins, is there really a need?
Well, since I've started experimenting more in the kitchen lately, I didn't really care if I needed it. I just knew I wanted it. :) Then my wonderful parent-in-laws gave me a Target gift card as an early birthday present! I decided I was going to use that as an excuse to go cookware shopping! I mean, why not? Everything is usually on sale this time of year anyway, and at the moment I didn't really need anything else. So...I broke down and bought me a loaf pan finally, among other cookware goodies you can expect to see in future posts!

But enough about my pan, I'm sure you don't care about that.On to the food!

I was craving eggs one morning, but  I didn't want something boring like an omelet or scrambled eggs. Then I remembered, ohhh, I have my new loaf pan! So I decided I would make an egg loaf with some tomatoes, herbs, and diced peppers. I thought it was delicious! But I have to admit, it was not a hit with the hubby. He's not really a fan of eggs, so it was to be expected. This loaf does have a pretty eggy flavor, so if you are looking for straight up bread, you won't find it here.

You will find, however, a soft and juicy loaf of peppery egg goodness!

Raw Avocado Pistachio Fruit Bowls

When I came up with this recipe I had just gotten my new pineapple corer (thanks mom!!), and what better way to test it out than with a new recipe? :D

It worked out awesome by the way. I had never actually cut up a fresh pineapple before this, but I imagine it would have been a big pain with out my corer. If anybody is in need of one, I recommend this one from Amazon. After having the wonderful sweetness of fresh pineapple, I don't think I will ever be able to go back to the canned stuff!

I encourage you not to judge this recipe by the photo. I know it doesn't look very appetizing, but believe me, it is!  It has that wonderful creaminess from the avocado, a little tartness from the cherries, the juicy sweetness of fresh pineapple, and the crunchiness of pistachios...all in one! If you like avocado and pineapple, I'm sure you will love this.

Pistachio Coated Mini Chocolates

This idea came to me when I was trying to think of a healthier alternative to M&Ms. All the recipes for home-made M&Ms I could find included corn syrup, food colorings, or other unhealthy/non-food items.
There isn't really a point in making them at home if they are just as bad for you!

I never did come up with any ideas that would work well to make home-made M&Ms...I'm still trying to figure that one out if anybody has any ideas!

In the mean time, these are actually pretty awesome themselves. The pistachios add a slightly crunchy, colorful coating to the chocolates. While they don't taste like M&Ms, they do have a great nutty, salty, chocolatey taste of their own...which is totally okay with me!

Oh, and did I mention they are gluten and dairy-free? :)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Raw Coconut Tangerine Pie with Zesty Apple Spread

Raw Coconut Tangerine Pie with Zesty Apple Spread 

Okay, so I have been reading about all the raw food cakes and pies out there lately and decided I wanted to give it a try myself. They always look so beautiful! Not to mention all the healthy fats and vitamins they contain.

This is my first attempt at a raw food pie, and I'm not going to lie, it could have been better. It was much sweeter than I had thought it was gonna be. In fact, I was surprised at how rich it tasted since it is composed mostly of fruit.

It wasn't bad tasting, but the texture was kind of mushy. I highly recommend adding some sliced apples or pears to the top, since it helps mellow out all the richness and adds a little crunch.

Overall, I'd say this is a decent starter pie for someone trying to attempt a raw dessert. I do want to try to make it again, but next time I think I will add an extra cup of cashews and possibly omit the banana. It was plenty sweet, and the banana just turned it more brown than what I would have liked.

Anyway, if you decide to give it a try, let me know if you make any changes and how yours turns out!

Cauliflower Stuffed Tomatoes

Cauliflower stuffed tomatoes
Pictured with melted Muenster cheese on top...yummmmy!

When I was a kid my mom used to make the most delicious stuffed peppers. I have only attempted to make stuffed peppers a couple of times, but my husband never seems to like them. He always eats the filling, but doesn't like eating the actual pepper part...

So, I was trying to think up an alternative to stuffed peppers that we could both enjoy. Well, I believe I have found it with this recipe. Don't get me wrong, this is way different than stuffed peppers, but it is so so good! The tomatoes are super juicy, and the cauliflower mimics the texture of rice, so its a low carbohydrate dish as well. You can even make it vegan if you omit the cheese on top and replace the Parmesan with some herbs. I think basil, parsley, or an Italian herb blend would go really well with it!

Oh, and what's also nice...I was still able to sneak in those peppers I wanted without upsetting the hubby. ;) In fact, he LOVED the dish!! He keeps asking when I am going to make it again!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tangerine Coconut Cream Chocolates

Tangerine coconut cream chocolates
You know what makes a perfect match? Chocolate and oranges. Well, that is what I was craving when I came up with these chocolates...But I didn't have any oranges. I did, however, have tangerines, which turned out to be just as awesome!

You know what made it even better? COCONUT! You may not know this, but I am a huge fan of coconut. And chocolate....probably more so of chocolate. any case, adding tangerines to the mix just turned it into totally awesome.

I wanted to try and replicate an orange cream filled chocolate with this recipe, only using more natural ingredients, like coconut, dates, and raw honey. I try to stay away from things like high-fructose corn syrup and food colorings, which are found in most commercial chocolates.

The result? A success! I achieved a creamy, but slightly chunky coconut texture for the filling. Not quite what I intended, but I actually preferred them over the smoother orange chocolates I was originally trying to replicate!

Baked Apples with Oatmeal Strudel Topping

Baked Apples with Oatmeal Strudel Topping

I don't know about you, but I like to have something warm and cold served together for dessert. Since I had just made my Dairy-Free Apple Cinnamon Ice Cream a couple days before, I decided I needed something more to make it complete.

And so this warm, apple, cinnamon, oatmeal deliciousness was born! And to be honest, it ended up being better than the ice cream!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dairy-Free Apple Cinnamon Ice Cream

This is a super easy recipe for dairy-free ice cream! And it can also be vegan if  you replace the honey with another sweetener, such as pure maple syrup or agave nectar. I have never actually tried agave before, but I'm sure maple syrup would be delicious!

Welcome to Improv-Bites!

I am just an average person who is passionate about cooking food and loves to experiment with it. I've never had any formal training (unless learning with my mom counts!), so most of my recipes will probably seem kind of amateurish to real chefs, but just go along with it. :)

I don't follow any specific regimen with my recipes. I will try to post some gluten free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, and even a few raw recipes. My main focus is to cook with real ingredients and avoid all those heavily processed fake foods. Not to say I will never post a recipe with white sugar, flour, or canned ingredients. As you know, most everyone cheats sometimes. I believe that eating those foods in moderation is key!

I just try to cook with mostly real, whole foods, and cook from scratch whenever possible. So take a look around, and if you like what you see, feel free to follow me on Facebook!