Coconut Dates for Taste & Create

For this month’s Taste & Create I was paired with Corina from Searching for Spice, a blog I had never heard of. It’s always fun to discover a new food blog through Taste & Create, and then search through the recipe archives to decide what to re-create. Making a decision was easy for me- I love dates and coconut and had never made coconut covered dates before, though I had considered it many times. Now that I’ve made them and see how easy they are, I can guarantee dates will be stocked in my kitchen from now on.
Here’s a link to the original recipe, and here’s what I did-
I coarsely chopped 8 large Medjool dates (my favorite kind of date) and put them in a small sauce pan with 1 TB unsalted butter. Keep an eye on this and mix it every now and then to make sure the dates start to “melt” evenly. You’ll see the texture change and it really does seem like the dates are melting at first. Add a little cardamom- I opened 2 cardamom pods in my mortar and pestle and then crushed the seeds from the pods, added them to my heated mixture, and stirred for another few minutes.
Remove the dates from the heat when they look like a sticky dough. Let it cool for 10-15 minutes so you can handle it with your fingers.

While the dates cooled, I dry toasted some cashews on medium heat for a few minutes on the stove. The original recipe calls for almonds, but I substituted with cashews this time since I had them in the kitchen.

When the date mush cools, take approximately 1TB in your hand, flatten it into a pancake, put a cashew inside, and roll the date mixture around the nut, forming a ball. Roll the date ball in unsweetened, dehydrated coconut, and try to finish rolling them all before you start to eat them. They are really delicious, very easy to make, and somewhat “healthy” if you think about the ingredients. I plan to make many different versions of coconut dates, so I’m glad I found Searching for Spice and the inspiration to make them for the first time!

Mayan Cocoa Peanut Pudding

This might be my new favorite dessert, and with a Vita-Mix, it takes seconds to make… and even less time to scarf down and enjoy!  
I didn’t have a plan for dessert, but had 1 cup cooked brown basmati rice left over from dinner, some homemade peanut butter from dry roasted Valencia peanuts, and Mayan Cocoa powder from Savory Spice Shop.  Turns out those ingredients blend into a fantastic vegan pudding.
Here’s what I did-
I made 1 cup of rice milk with the leftover rice (which was cooked in water with no added herbs, etc.).  Then, into the Vita-Mix went 1 cup homemade peanut butter, 2 very ripe bananas, 1/2 cup Mayan Cocoa, and 1/4 cup maple syrup.
Blend this on high for just a few seconds, pour into smaller dishes, and chill to allow it to set a little like a pudding.  I sprinkled some Spiced Vanilla Bean Sugar on top (which, of course, you’ll find at Savory Spice Shop), and added a few pretzels for crunch.  Otherwise, it would be gluten-free.  I ate so much of this…
The chile peppers, cinnamon, and vanilla in the Mayan Cocoa go really well with peanuts, and the vanilla, cinnamon, allspice, mace, and cardamom in the Spiced Vanilla Bean Sugar pulled the whole thing together.  Looks like I’ll have to keep Mayan Cocoa on stock from now on.

Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery Maple Bread Pudding

I came home from Rudi’s Gluten-Free Gourmet Dinner at Root Down, Denver, with a loaf of Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bread and a recipe for the delicious gluten-free bread pudding that had been served for dessert. Root Down made a really good bread pudding, so I was eager to re-create it using my gluten-free loaf of bread.

I cut off most of the crust and cubed one loaf of Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery Bread for this recipe.
I altered the recipe slightly to accommodate the ingredients I had on hand. Here’s what I mixed up:
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • a pinch of sea salt

I poured my liquid mixture over the bread cubes and let it sit, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Then, I added 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, mixed it one more time, and poured it into a pyrex baking dish to bake at 325 for 30-40 minutes, until it was golden brown and cooked through the center.
I patiently let it cool, then served it with farm-fresh strawberries, some peach, and a drizzle I made with equal parts heavy whipping cream and maple syrup.
This recipe is a winner! It is definitely some of the BEST bread pudding I’ve had.

Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery Gourmet Dining Extravaganza at Root Down, Denver

I am very pleased that Rudi’s Organic Bakery– a small Boulder bread-maker that became a national organic bread supplier- now offers a gluten-free sandwich bread from Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery. Their catch phrase says it all: “Gluten-free doesn’t have to mean bread free.”
I was invited to celebrate the launch of this great new gluten-free bread at Root Down in Denver. Rudi’s and Root Down put together a fantastic gluten-free meal for me and some fellow food bloggers, and we all got to taste this new bread for ourselves.

The first dish was fantastic. Rocky Mountain Ford Cantaloupe and Tomato Gazpacho served with Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery Tomato Jam Grilled Cheese. I could have eaten a few of those sandwiches… so good. Good thing they gave us the recipe. I’m sure to post again on this grilled cheese sandwich.
Next I had a roasted beet salad, which was a lot prettier than what I plate at home!
The Pan-Seared, Line Caught Halibut with Black Quinoa and Grilled Corn was some of the best fish I’ve had in a long time. Root Down gets their halibut flown in fresh from Alaska, and at this point I’d say it’s worth going to Root Down just to have some halibut. Delicious.
The dessert, Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery Bread Pudding with Sour Cream Ice Cream, truly showcased Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bread. I was completely fooled into thinking this bread pudding was made with regular bread. Root Down and Rudi’s graciously shared this recipe with me and I will re-create it and post it here soon.

So, thanks to Root Down for serving one of the best meals I’ve had in Denver. And thanks to Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery for baking such a great gluten-free product that will be widely available for gluten-free eaters across the country.
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