Back to the Kitchen: Creative dishes to explore

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By the time a recipe comes to print I have had an idea, created it, tested it, tweaked it and re- tweaked it and had friends and family taste it! (My 15-year-old daughter and her teen friends have had some amazing dinners and a couple of not so…. A great opportunity to teach the art of grace and politely communicating their total disgust!) Often by the time a recipe has becomes a “signature” dish it has had many evolutions. I strive for excellence always, and not perfection, which is stagnant and has nowhere to go if it is after all perfect! There is movement in excellence that can keep growing and changing as I learn more about food, flavor and technique, and discover new and unique ingredients, as I uncover new possibilities in food.

Here are some of the things I have been working on lately. They are at the tested, tasted and re-tweaked point, but I suspect they will keep changing. I am playing with different ingredients like agave, rice syrup and 60% cacao. I am also playing with different types of lifestyles, raw, vegan, and vegetarian. And a few trendy taste sensations; like sweet and savory. Just in time for the summer I was given an ice cream maker to play with! I am very grateful to have a job that I love so much and that I allow creativity to flow through me! Remember that these recipes are just roadmaps so feel free to use them and tweak them as much as you like!

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

8 ounces 60% Cacao Bittersweet chocolate chips

1 pound strawberries with stem, washed and dried completely

3 ounces white chocolate (to garnish half)

Place chocolate in heatproof  pan. Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat; set the bowl of chocolate over the water to melt. Stir until smooth.

Once the chocolates are melted and smooth, remove from the heat. Line a sheet pan with parchment or waxed paper. Holding the strawberry by the stem, dip the fruit into the dark chocolate, lift and twist slightly, letting any excess chocolate fall back into the bowl. Set strawberries on the parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the strawberries. Melt the white chocolate the same way and with a fork drizzle over half of the strawberries for a lovely presentation.

Lavender Sable Cookies

1 ½ stick butter unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

3/4 cups powder sugar

1 egg yolk

pinch of salt

1 tablespoon dried lavender

zest from one lemon

1 ¾ cups flour

3 tablespoons cornstarch

Sift flour and cornstarch, set aside. With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed until smooth, add icing sugar and beat until well blended. Beat in the egg yolk, followed by salt, dried lavender and lemon zest. Add the flour mixture and blend with a spatula. Mix gently until flour is incorporated. Gather dough to form a ball, divide in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Chill dough for 30 minutes in refrigerator. Form each piece of dough into a log that is about 1 to 1 1/4″ in diameter. Wraps logs in plastic wrap and chill dough for at least 2 hours in refrigerator or leave overnight. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 300.Once the oven is ready, slice the log into 1/4″ thick and place on a lined baking sheet with 1/2″ interval. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cookies are set but not brown. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.

Coconut Macaroons

2 cups shredded dry coconut

3 tablespoons vanilla soymilk

2/3-cup rice sugar

Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl combine milk and coconut. Let sit for about 1 hour. Add the rice syrup and mix with your hands. Using a small ice-cream scoop fill tightly and place on a wax paper lined baking sheet. Repeat until you have about 24 little scoops. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow the macaroons to cool completely before removing from the baking sheet.

Blood Orange Ice Cream

2 cups whole milk

1/2-cup sugar

1 vanilla bean, split open

Pinch of salt

4 tablespoons orange zest

4 egg yolks

1cup blood orange juice, about 8 oranges

In a heavy saucepan, combine milk, 1/4-cup sugar, vanilla bean, salt, and zest. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Beat together egg yolks and remaining 1/4-cup sugar until pale and frothy. Slowly add warm milk mixture while constantly whisky until well combined. Pour mixture back into saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until mixture coats back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve into a metal bowl set in a larger metal bowl of ice and water. Whisk to release heat and let cool about 10 minutes. Stir in blood orange juice and freeze in ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until hard.

Raw Chocolate Bars

1/2 cups coconut oil

1/2 cups Cacao powder

1/2-cup rice syrup

1-teaspoon Vanilla extract

½ cups chopped hazelnuts

Beat liquid ingredients until super smooth. You can add more sweetener or more chocolate to suit your tastes.

Transfer mixture to separate bowl and stir in chopped hazelnuts

Spread on a plastic wrap lined plate or dish and place in freezer to cool.

Baked Pear, Cranberry, Apple with Agave and Chinese Five Spice

4 pears, chopped

4 apples chopped

1 cup dried cranberry

½ cup agave nectar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon Chinese Five Spice


1 cup Quick cooking oatmeal

1 cup chopped nuts

In a square glass pan toss together apples, pears, cranberry, agave and spices. In a bowl mix the oatmeal and nuts. Sprinkle over the apple mixture and bake in a preheated 350 oven for about 40 minutes until bubbly. Serve with ice cream.

Roasted Veggie Wraps

5 cups assorted veggies, rough chopped- I like a combo of carrots, eggplant, zucchini, asparagus, red and green peppers, broccoli, cauliflower. Anything really!

6 cloves garlic, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons balsamic

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup- tomato salsa

1-cup hummus

1-pound whole-wheat lavash Bread

Place veggies and garlic on a sheet pan and coat with olive oil and balsamic. Season to taste and roast in a 400 oven for 20 minutes until tender. Let cool and then toss with the salsa and hummus. Place one sheet of lavash bread horizontal on a cutting board. Place 1/6 of the veggies on the bottom half of the bread. Start at the end closest to you and roll away from you. When complete cut in half or in thirds and place on a plate or wrap in foil.

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

  • Nancy Mehagian

    I know all about the tasting and tweaking. A perfect recipe is a lot of work! Thanks for all your delicious efforts.

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