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I received free samples of California Dried Plums mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Dried Plum Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Dried Plum and Hazelnut Polenta Cake. A rustic treat that’s just slightly sweet, buttery and perfect paired with an afternoon cup of coffee or tea.

Dried Plum and Hazelnut Polenta Cake via JennySheaRawn.com
May kicks off National Osteoporosis Month and The California Dried Plum Board has challenged ReDuxers to share creative ways to use bone-building California dried plums (yes, dried plums – the same dried plums that were previously known as the less fancy, old-fashioned prunes) in everyday cooking.

Dried plums are one fruit that just isn’t top of mind for me. I just don’t think to eat them nor are they a regular staple in our kitchen. But as I was experimenting in the kitchen with this sweet little fruit and snacking on many along the way, I remembered just how most, soft, yummy and naturally sweet they are.

I also have never thought about dried plums as bone-health supporting – when I think dried plums I think digestive health (lots of fiber!). But, emerging research shows that eating dried plums may have positive effects on bone health. Studies have shown eating 100 grams (2 servings; about 8-10 dried plums) of dried plums a day for one year was associated with increased bone mineral density and improved indices of bone turnover in postmenopausal women (CaliforniaDriedPlums.org). Good news.

Bone-building and digestive health supporting, dried plums are a healthful sweet snack. Plus they also wear many other lesser-known culinary hats. They can:
– serve as a purée in your favorite breakfast baked good
– enhance the flavor in your favorite marinade
– add moisture and texture to meats, breads, pie crusts and baked goods
– serve as a sub for fats and sugars

And in the case of this Dried Plum and Hazelnut Polenta Cake, the dried plums add just the right amount of sweetness, texture and moisture to this cake.

Dried Plum and Hazelnut Polenta Cake via JennySheaRawn.com

Top the cake with a dollop of creamy Greek yogurt for a not-too-sweet, satisfying dessert that pairs perfect with a cup of coffee or tea mid-day or a glass of cold milk at night. We enjoyed this cake on the deck mid-day as a break from bathroom reno, laying mulch and gardening. A well deserved treat.

Dried Plum and Hazelnut Polenta Cake via JennySheaRawn.com

Dried Plum and Hazelnut Polenta Cake
Serves: 8
Time: 40 minutes
Ingredients:
• 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
• 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ¼ cup salted butter, softened
• 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla powder (or extract if you don’t have powder)
• 2 eggs
• 2 5.3 oz containers plain Greek yogurt, reserve 1 for topping
• 6 oz chopped California Dried Plums, reserve 1 oz for topping (about 20 dried plums)
• 2/3 cup toasted hazelnuts (toasted on a baking sheet for 5 min at 350 degrees), reserve 2 Tbsp for topping

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 with 10-inch cast-iron skillet inside*. Combine cornmeal, whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl. In another mixing bowl, combine salted butter, brown sugar and vanilla powder (or vanilla). Beat with an electric mixer on medium for 20-30 seconds then add the eggs and beat an additional 30 seconds until well combined. Add 1 5.3 oz container Greek yogurt and beat just until combined. Stir in dry cornmeal mixture by hand. Remove skillet carefully from the oven (it’s hot!). Spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Add batter to skillet and place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Slice and serve with reserved Greek yogurt, dried plums and hazelnuts.

*You can use a smaller skillet, just bump cooking time slightly. If you use a cake pan (versus a cast-iron skillet), cooking time will also be longer.

Visit these ReDuxer sites for more great bone-building dried plum recipes:

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Roasted Cauliflower with Spring Herb Pesto via JennySheaRawn.com
Roasted Cauliflower with Spring Herb Pesto.

A side dish that shouts spring and all things fresh. Use any herbs you have on hand for this deliciously light and vibrant pesto. I used a combination of mint, dill, cilantro, basil, flat leaf parsley and scallions. And blended it all up in my food processor with some fresh lemon, a pinch of salt, pepper and sugar and a few drizzles of extra virgin olive oil.

Roasted Cauliflower with Spring Herb Pesto via JennySheaRawn.com
We’re still roasting veggies, because the temps remain in the 50s – so we served the pesto overtop simply roasted cauliflower. It would also be amazing over homegrown tomatoes, spread on a fresh baguette with mozzarella or served atop a nice white fish.

Roasted Cauliflower with Spring Herb Pesto via JennySheaRawn.com
This cauliflower dish makes quite a statement and will be gobbled up quickly. Serve either at room temperature or chilled.

Roasted Cauliflower with Spring Herb Pesto via JennySheaRawn.com
Here’s how to make this simple cauliflower dish:

Cauliflower with Spring Herb Pesto
Serves: 4 as a side dish
Time: 25 minutes
Ingredients:
• 1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
• ¾ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
• ½ cup loosely packed dill leaves
• ½ cup loosely packed basil leaves
• 1 cup loosely packed cilantro, stems and leaves
• ¼ cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley leaves
• 4 scallions, trimmed
• Juice of ½ lemon
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Pinch sugar
• Pinch salt, pinch pepper
Directions: Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Place cauliflower florets on tinfoil, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast 15 minutes then flip florets and roast an additional 5 minutes. Meanwhile add mint, dill, basil, cilantro, parsley, scallions (or any combination you have on hand) and juice of ½ a lemon to a food processor. Blend until finely chopped then drizzle in olive oil until a smooth pesto forms. Add a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Blend to combine. Drizzle sauce over roasted cauliflower and serve.

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Avocado, Pistachio and Goat Cheese Salad.

Watercress, avocado, pistachio and goat cheese salad via JennySheaRawn.com

Creamy and smooth avocado, crunchy and salty pistachios, tart and soft goat cheese. Served atop greens – in this case watercress and baby kale. All topped with a toasted pumpkin seed vinaigrette. A satisfying combination that’s packed with healthy fats and protein.

I first tried this combo back at the end of February at the Partnership for a Healthier America conference. The folks from Avocados from Mexico were serving mini guac cups topped with all different toppings paired with carrot sticks. I had been working long shifts at the booth I was manning and was finally able to escape for 5 minutes to grab a snack/lunch/anything that would help power me through the day. I headed straight to the avocado booth and choose guac topped with pistachios and goat cheese. It was SO good and exactly what I needed to hold me over (and kept me sane) until dinner time.
Watercress, avocado, pistachio and goat cheese salad via JennySheaRawn.com
I now love this new found combo and have been topping all sorts of greens with it. Because it’s packed with healthy fats, protein and fiber, it’s the perfect energizing lunch to satisfy hunger … and your taste buds.

Watercress, avocado, pistachio and goat cheese salad via JennySheaRawn.com

Avocado, Goat Cheese and Pistachio Salad
Serves: 2
Time: 5 minutes
Ingredients:
• 3 cups baby kale
• 1 cup watercress
• 1 avocado, halved and pitted
• ½ cup crumbled goat cheese
• ¼ cup shelled, salted pistachios
• 2 Tbsp toasted pumpkin seed oil
• 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (your best)
• Pinch sugar
• Pinch salt and pepper
Directions:
Divide baby kale and watercress onto two plates. Top each with half an avocado and equal amounts goat cheese and pistachios. Whisk together pumpkin seed oil, balsamic vinegar and a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper. Drizzle over salads. Serve.

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Mango Coconut Bread Pudding via JennySheaRawn.com
Mango Coconut Bread Pudding with Mango Sauce. For dessert or brunch. Or whenever you wish.

My sister Brittany was visiting last week and we made a trip to my favorite bakery right in our town of Falmouth, Maison Villatte. It’s one of those French bakeries that has the most beautiful rustic breads, gorgeous pastries (and I don’t even like pastries), beautiful sandwiches on baguettes, etc. The smell from the sidewalk of butter and freshly baked bread draws you in and once you’re in, you don’t want to leave. And you wouldn’t mind throwing on an apron and learning a few things back in the kitchen.

Anyhow, we originally went there for a loaf of olive bread (the best) and cappuccinos. Three chocolate chip cookies were added after we couldn’t take our eyes off them. Then, completely unexpected, as we were leaving, the lovely woman who rang us up, handed us a large bag full of 6 beautiful loaves of bread. Just because. Look at these beauties.
Mango Coconut Bread Pudding via JennySheaRawn.com

Between Britt, Adrian and me, we ate 1.5 loaves that night.

The rest was split between Britt’s freezer and our freezer. Knowing that this month’s Recipe ReDux theme is: spring cleaning {Go through your pantry, cupboards, freezer, or fridge; what ‘treasures’ have you found? Pick an ingredient/spice/condiment that’s been hanging out for a while and give it the attention it needs. Share a healthy recipe made using your new-found pantry prize}, I knew I had to put some of that gorgeous bread to use along with a few of the many bags of frozen mangos that have been waiting to be added to some form of deliciousness.

Mango Coconut Bread Pudding via JennySheaRawn.com
So, inspired by the slightly warmer weather we had over the weekend, voila Mango Coconut Bread Pudding. Custardy in the center, crunchy on top and not overally sweet.

Mango Coconut Bread Pudding via JennySheaRawn.com

Here’s how to make this Mango Coconut Bread Pudding:

Mango Coconut Bread Pudding
Serves: 10
Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Ingredients:
Pudding:
• 1 ½ cups whole milk
• ¼ cup honey
• 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
• ½ Tbsp cardamom
• ¾ tsp salt
• 2 5.3oz containers Siggi’s Icelandic style strained low-fat yogurt, coconut
• 3 large eggs
• 6 cups (1-inch) day-old cubed rustic bread (about 6 slices)
• 4 cups frozen mango chunks
• ½ cup unsweetened, unsulfured flaked coconut
Topping:
• 3 cups frozen mango chunks
• 2 Tbsp honey
• ¾ cup water
• 1 5.3 oz container Siggi’s Icelandic style strained low-fat yogurt, coconut
Directions: Preheat oven to 350°. For mango coconut bread pudding, combine first 7 ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add bread chunks, frozen mango and coconut and let sit for 30-45 minutes at room temp. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray (or butter lightly) and add mixture to dish. We used a square 6×6 inch dish. Bake for 55-60 minutes, until lightly browned on top and set. Let sit at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the mango sauce by bringing mango chunks, honey and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce and let simmer, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve the bread pudding with a dollop of coconut yogurt and a spoonful of warm mango sauce.

For more “spring cleaning” recipes, visit these fellow Recipe ReDuxer sites:

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Clam Chowder via JennySheaRawn.com
New England Clam Chowder. Our lightened-up take on a Cape Cod favorite. Made from local cherrystone clams that Adrian raked up on one of his recent clamming excursions.

You don’t get a clam chowder fresher than this.

The base of the chowder is so good that we’re going to do something similar when corn is in season this summer (minus the clams) for some amazing summer corn chowder.

Clam Chowder via JennySheaRawn.com
Adrian got a shellfish license in the fall. Each location has it own rules and regs – our salt water pond allows non-professional fishermen to clam on the weekends. And for Christmas, my parents surprised him with waders, one of the items on his wish list. They’re basically thick waterproof overalls attached to rubber boots. About once a month since January, he’s gone digging for clams and oysters in our neighborhood. Banker by weekday, fisherman by weekend. Well, since we’re trying to finish all of our home renovations before the baby comes in August, he’s also construction man/handyman/painter/plumber by night and weekends.

Back to the clams.

Clam Chowder via JennySheaRawn.com
The shellfish license allows one bushel of clams each day and all must be a mature enough size. Adrian was raking for about 30 minutes and dug out almost a bushel of clams. It’s no easy task! He worked up a sweat out there. And I sat on the beach drinking tea, watching the birds and snapping photos.

Clam Chowder via JennySheaRawn.com
And look at the surprise found among all the clams. A little feisty crab.

Clam Chowder via JennySheaRawn.com
There about 10lbs of clams in this bushel. Plenty for our homemade chowder plus a few pounds for the neighbors.

Clam Chowder via JennySheaRawn.com
To make the chowder, we steamed the clams.

Clam Chowder via JennySheaRawn.com
Until they opened. Any clams that don’t open, discard.

Clam Chowder via JennySheaRawn.com
We combined the cooked chopped clams with the clam broth, bacon, onions, celery, garlic, white wine, potatoes, thyme and milk.

Clam Chowder via JennySheaRawn.com
Not to worry, you don’t need to harvest your own clams. You can use bottled clam juice and canned clams or clams from your local fish market or supermarket.

Clam Chowder via JennySheaRawn.com
Serve with a crusty roll or oyster crackers.

Here’s how to make this New England Clam Chowder:

New England Clam Chowder
Serves: 6
Time: ~1 hour 20 minutes
Ingredients:
Soup:
• 5 lbs cherrystone clams, scrubbed
• 4 cups water
• 2 slices bacon
• 4 celery stalks, thinly sliced
• 3 large onions, diced
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• ½ cup dry white wine
• 2 lbs potatoes, cut into bite-sized cubes (we used Yukon Gold)
• 1 teaspoon thyme
• 2 Tbsp cornstarch
• 4 cups 2% milk
Topping:
• 4 scallions, thinly sliced
• Freshly ground pepper
• Oyster crackers or fresh rolls, for serving
Directions: In a large steamer pot, add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. In the steamer basket, add the clams. Cover and cook until most of the clams open, 5-6 minutes. Remove open clams and place on a large baking sheet to cool. Cover the pot again and continue cooking the remaining clams for 2-3 more minutes. Turn off heat. Discard any clams that haven’t opened. Set clam broth aside and let cool. Once clams are cooled to the touch, remove them from their shells, chop into bite-sized pieces and set aside. Strain the clam broth through a fine mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter and set aside. In a nonstick pan over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy and brown. Remove bacon and crumble when cool. Keep bacon fat on heat. Add celery and onion and cook for 5-6 minutes until soft, stirring often. Add garlic and cook 2-3 minutes more. Add wine, stir and cook 2-3 minutes more. Add this vegetable mixture to the large pot holding the reserved clam broth. Add potatoes, thyme, bacon and milk. In a small bowl, add cornstarch and 2 Tbsp broth from the pot, stir until clumps are gone. Add to chowder. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Remove from heat. Ladle into bowls, top with scallions and freshly ground pepper. Serve.

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Veggie Inspiration

Roasted Cauliflower with Spring Herb Pesto

Roasted Cauliflower with Spring Herb Pesto. A side dish that shouts spring and all things fresh. Use any herbs you have on hand for this deliciously light and vibrant pesto. I used a combination of mint, dill, cilantro, basil, flat leaf parsley and scallions. And blended it all up in my food processor with some fresh […]

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Avocado, Pistachio and Goat Cheese Salad

Avocado, Pistachio and Goat Cheese Salad. Creamy and smooth avocado, crunchy and salty pistachios, tart and soft goat cheese. Served atop greens – in this case watercress and baby kale. All topped with a toasted pumpkin seed vinaigrette. A satisfying combination that’s packed with healthy fats and protein. I first tried this combo back at […]

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Spring Pea Shoot and Radish Salad

Pea Shoot and Radish Salad to welcome in the spring. Fresh and light. But still hearty enough for a satisfying lunch.  Tender pea shoots, crisp and bitter radishes, crunchy walnuts, creamy and pungent blue cheese and sweet figs are tossed together and drizzled with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic glaze. During […]

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Roasted Beet Dip

Just in time for Valentine’s Day – the perfect appetizer in the shade of love. Roasted beet dip made simply with beets, ricotta and Greek yogurt.  Serve this to your sweetie this Saturday night with sweet potato chips for dipping. We’ve always avoided date night on Valentine’s Day. Not a fan of crowds, over packed restaurants […]

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Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Cheddar, Pesto and Tomatoes

I received free samples of Cabot Cheese mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe challenge sponsored by Cabot Creamery and am eligible to win prizes. I was not additionally compensated for my time. Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Cheddar, Pesto and Tomatoes. This is a true WOW dish. Some of my favorite […]

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Fresh Shrimp Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Fresh Shrimp Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce. This is one dish I could eat every single day. It’s so fresh and light. In the doldrums of winter, we all need a little fresh, don’t we? We made these rolls for this month’s Recipe ReDux theme: Start Smoking in the New Year The New Year is […]

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