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Recipe: French Apple Cake

This is a cake that my mother came across years ago and we’ve enjoyed it ever since. If you’ve ever had a French Apple Tart (Tarte Aux Pommes), this cake will definitely remind you of that. The cake consists mostly of thinly sliced apples (there is very little cake batter) with the delicate flavors of almond and vanilla. It feels light and decadent at the same time and is the perfect dessert to enjoy after a big meal. Which is precisely why I like to make it around the holidays (although, truly, it’s perfect at any time!)

When my mother learned of this recipe, she learned the story that went with it:

Many years ago, there was a lady who walked around the streets of Paris selling this cake. She had a little cart full of cakes and became known as the “Apple Lady.” The cakes became popular and many people tried to convince her to turn it into a business, but she chose not to, as she believed that this would take the pleasure out of baking them. The Apple Lady continued to sell the cakes in this modest way and, before her death, shared her recipe with a few trusted friends. Who shared it with others. Who shared it with others…you know how it goes. So…

It was eventually shared with my mother (and, now, with all of you 😉

I hope that, like the Apple Lady, you take pleasure in making it. Rest assured, those lucky enough to partake in this cake will take pleasure in eating it!

Buon Appetit!

Karen

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French Apple Cake

If you've ever had a French Apple Tart (Tarte Aux Pommes), this cake will definitely remind you of that. The cake consists mostly of thinly sliced apples (there is very little cake batter) with the delicate flavors of almond and vanilla. It feels light and decadent at the same time and is the perfect dessert to enjoy after a big meal.

Ingredients

For Cake:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 4 granny smith apples cored and sliced thinly

For Topping:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 3 Tbsp. butter melted
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the vanilla extract, almond extract, eggs, canola oil and milk. Stir until a loose batter forms. Add to that the sliced apples and stir to make sure that the apples are well coated with batter.
  3. Pour into the springform pan and bake for 25 -30 minutes, until it becomes puffed and lightly golden.
  4. Combine the topping ingredients in another bowl and pour over the cake. Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Allow to cool thoroughly before removing it from the pan.
  5. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Serves 6.

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Recipe: Pumpkin Mousse (GF)

For those of you looking to savor these last weeks of Autumn (winter doesn’t officially begin until December 21st), I have a wonderful gluten-free, carb-free alternative to pumpkin pie. It’s too bad that I’m posting this after Thanksgiving has passed, as it would be an especially lovely addition to the Thanksgiving dessert table! I happened to find this recipe weeks ago in the Cooking section of the New York Times and adapted it slightly.

I made it last weekend and it was absolutely terrific – just as rich and creamy as pumpkin pie, with all of the same warm spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, etc.), but with no grain or gluten at all. My son happened to be home from college that weekend and, by the end of the weekend, he’d polished off several of them!

The recipe was fairly simple…a few steps, but nothing complicated. It takes a couple of hours for the mousse to “gel” in the fridge, and then it can be kept in the fridge for several days, making it a perfect dessert to prepare ahead of time.

Feel free to use espresso cups for a tiny, “tasting” sized portion, or larger, parfait glasses, as I did. This way, you can decide the amount/number of portions you’d like to make. Top it with a dusting of cinnamon, a dollop of whipped cream or both. Either way, the mousse is wonderful and the presentation is gorgeous.

If you do happen to try this dish, please post a photo on Instagram and be sure to tag me…I’d love to see your creations!

Buon Appetit,

Karen

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Pumpkin Mousse

I made this Pumpkin Mousse last weekend and it was fabulous- just as rich and creamy as pumpkin pie, with all of the same warm spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, etc.) but no grain or gluten at all.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 packet of unflavored gelatin approx. 1 tbsp.
  • 3 eggs whites and yolks separated
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups canned pumpkin purée
  • ½ tsp. Ginger
  • ½ tsp. Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. Nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Fill a medium pot with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer.
  2. In another (smaller) pot, combine the cold water with the packet of gelatin and let sit for several minutes, until the gelatin softens. Then place the pot on the stove over low heat and stir until it liquifies (be sure not to boil it). Once liquified, remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. In a glass or stainless steel mixing bowl, which together the egg yolks and ¼ cup of sugar. Add the pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and milk and whisk to combine.
  4. Set the bowl over the pot of simmering water and continue to whisk for approximately 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens a bit (it will resemble a loose custard). Add the gelatin into the pumpkin mixture and stir to combine.
  5. Pour the pumpkin mixture into a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool for approximately 15 minutes.
  6. With an electric mixer or beater, beat the egg white until they form soft peaks, then add the remaining sugar. Continue to beat until the egg whites become firm and the sugar is fully incorporated. Add the egg whites to the pumpkin mixture and continue to beat until well combined. Set aside.
  7. Beat the heavy cream until stiff, then add it to the mousse. Continue to beat for 1-2 minutes, then pour into serving glasses (espresso cups, parfait glasses, even wine glasses work well). Refrigerate for at least 2 hours until the mousse is set. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon or top with additional whipped cream, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Serves 5-10, depending on serving size preferred. Note: this mousse will keep for several days in the refrigerator. Just be sure to cover it with plastic wrap.

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Recipe: Quinoa with Shallots, Fresh Herbs and Pine Nuts (GF)

 

I love side dishes like this one that pair well with a variety of meats and veggies, and I especially love extra on hand for lunches and/or dinners throughout the week. Quinoa is a grain that I make frequently, as it’s gluten free and full of protein (as well as fiber and lots of vitamins/minerals). While it’s quite nice plain, I often add veggies, beans, fresh herbs, etc. to jazz it up a bit.

This variation includes shallots, lots of fresh parsley and pine (or pignoli) nuts. I toast the nuts first, which gives them a wonderful nutty flavor and a nice, golden color. In the summer, this quinoa is a perfect base for all kinds of kebabs and at this time of year, I love to serve it with roasted chicken, pork or beef.

Buon Appetit!

Karen

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Quinoa with Shallots, Fresh Herbs and Pine Nuts (GF)

This variation includes shallots, lots of fresh parsley and pine (or pignoli) nuts. I toast the nuts first, which gives them a wonderful nutty flavor and a nice, golden color. In the summer, this quinoa is a perfect base for all kinds of kebabs and grilled meats and fish. At this time of year, I love to serve it with roasted chicken, pork or beef.

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. Pine pignoli nuts
  • 1-2 shallots finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup quinoa rinsed
  • 2 cups water or broth chicken or vegetable
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley and more for garnish
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the pine nuts in a small frying pan over high heat, tossing them frequently until toasted and lightly golden (be sure not to step away from the pan, as they will burn very quickly!). Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, place the chopped shallots and the olive oil. Sauté until translucent (approximately 4-5 minutes). When done, add the quinoa and the cooking liquid (water or broth), along with the salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. And cover the pot. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and allow quinoa to sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and toss in the parsley and the toasted pine nuts. Add pepper to taste and garnish with some more fresh parsley.

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Recipe: Marinated Artichoke Hearts (GF)

When hosting a gathering (big or small), there’s nothing better than a fabulous charcuterie platter and one of the things I love to include on that platter is marinated artichoke hearts.

For years, I’ve bought them; they’re sold in jars and it’s a bit tricky to find ones that are suited to my taste. I find that they’re usually one of two extremes. Either they can be terribly bland or an assault on the tastebuds – loaded with salt and vinegar. So, I decided to try my hand at making my own. The result was fantastic…they were light, fresh and full of flavor.

Try this (very fast, very simple!) recipe once and, I promise you, you will never purchase marinated artichoke hearts again!

Buon Appetit!

Karen

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Marinated Artichoke Hearts

I decided to try my hand at making my own marinated artichoke hearts and the result was fantastic! They were light, fresh and full of flavor. Try this (very fast, very simple!) recipe once and, I promise you, you will never purchase marinated artichoke hearts again!

Ingredients

  • 1 can of artichoke hearts quartered, drained and rinsed
  • 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small lemon zested and then juiced
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • ¼ tsp. Sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. Dried Italian Seasoning
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes optional

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice (approximately 3 Tbsp.), garlic and sea salt. Add the Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes (if desired).
  2. Add artichoke hearts to a small salad bowl. Pour the dressing over them and gently toss to coat.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.
  4. About 20 minutes before serving, bring to room temperature and sprinkle the lemon zest over top. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, as needed.

Recipe Notes

Serves 4 as an appetizer.

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Recipe: Oat-Berry Muffins (GF)

This week, the market had what I can only imagine is the last of the really good summer berries. I bought a big carton of strawberries and blueberries, determined to enjoy one last taste of summertime before the pumpkins and the autumn fruits and veggies fill up every bin.

This is a recipe that I adapted slightly from a blueberry muffin recipe posted on the Skinnytaste blog. The combination of fresh berries, cinnamon and oats is divine! And I love that they’re a gluten-free breakfast option because, well…there are only so many eggs that a girl can eat!? Anyone who limits gluten knows that breakfast can be a challenge!?

The problem with most gluten free baked goods is that they can be extremely dense. The addition of applesauce in this recipe makes these muffins very moist and light. I find that, when served with a smear of almond butter and some fresh fruit, they make a satisfying (and lovely!) breakfast or snack.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s the perfect way to savor the sweetness of summer, while ushering in the toasty, cinnamon-y goodness of autumn.

Buon Appetit!

Karen

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Oat and Blueberry Muffins

Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups gluten free quick oats
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Honey
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 Tbsp. Canola oil
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • cup gluten free flour/baking mix (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill GF All Purpose
  • Flour)
  • 1 tsp. Baking powder
  • ½ tsp. Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 cup of fresh berries you may use any combination of strawberries, blueberries and/or raspberries

Instructions

  1. Place oats in the food processor and pulse a few times to turn the oats into a coarse powder. Place the oats into a small bowl and add the almond milk. Allow to soda for approximately 30 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, honey, applesauce, vanilla, egg whites and oil. Mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients - flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk to combine.
  4. Combine the oats/milk mixture with the applesauce mixture and give it a stir.
  5. Slowly add in the dry ingredients, then fold in the berries.
  6. Spoon into the muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Makes 12 muffins. Note: Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days (if they last that long!). These muffins also freeze very well.

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Recipe: Mediterranean Tuna Salad (GF)

 

This dish is a light and fresh twist on the classic (mayonnaise based) tuna salad. It was one of my “go-to” dishes all summer long and, now that school has resumed, I find it to be the perfect, packable, healthy lunch.

Rather than using white, albacore tuna packed in water, I prefer to use the imported Italian tuna packed in olive oil. It’s not nearly as dry and complements the Mediterranean flavors beautifully. What are those flavors? Well, along with the tuna, you’ve got scallions, carrots, celery, radishes, capers, kalamata olives and fresh parsley and basil, with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice over top.

Is your mouth watering yet?

There is also room to play with this recipe – at times, I’ve added diced red pepper, sundried tomatoes and/or artichoke hearts to it. Other times, I’ve added grape tomatoes and/or chickpeas…feel free to add whatever fresh veggies and herbs you like.

This dish is gluten free, grain free, paleo friendly, low carb and high protein. Basically, it’s a rockstar! My favorite way to serve it over a big plate of salad greens with some gluten-free crackers on the side.

Following is the version pictured in the photo, above. If you’re looking to upgrade your brown-bagged lunch, this is one that you’ll definitely want to try!

Buon Appetit!

Karen

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Mediterranean Tuna Salad

This dish is a light and fresh twist on the classic (mayonnaise based) tuna salad. It was one of my “go-to” dishes all summer long and, now that school has resumed, I find it to be the perfect, packable, healthy lunch.
Servings 3
Author wellegance

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of tuna fish I prefer the imported Italian tuna - for ex., Cento brand
  • 2 scallions finely sliced
  • 1 rib of celery thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot cut into matchsticks and then finely diced
  • 2 radishes cut into matchsticks and then finely diced
  • 2-3 Tbsp. of chopped parsley
  • 2-3 Tbsp. of basil sliced into thin ribbons
  • ¼ cup pitted kalamata olives sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. Capers drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium sized lemon juiced (should yield approximately 3 Tbsp of juice)
  • Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Into a medium bowl, add the tuna with the scallion, celery, carrot and radishes. Toss to combine. Add the fresh herbs and olives and give it another toss. Stir in the fresh lemon juice and add pepper to taste. Then, sprinkle the capers over top.
  2. Note: the olives and capers tend to be salty, so I don’t add additional salt, but feel free to add some if you need it.

Recipe Notes

Serves 3-4 as a light lunch.

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Recipe: Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Scallion Skewers

Although, technically, last week marked the beginning of fall, the weather on Long Island hasn’t yet caught up! Temperatures reached 90 degrees this week and I’ve taken the opportunity to enjoy the grill for a bit longer.

Grilled pork tenderloin is fabulous and I make it often in the summer, but I’ve always grilled the tenderloin whole; I never thought to slice it and skewer it until now. It cooked in no time (although I did marinate it for a bit) and turned out great! The scallions were a lovely flavor complement and also a nice way to separate the pork slices.

I served it with this bok choy recipe (which is fabulous!) and a cucumber and feta cheese salad, and the whole meal felt like the perfect way to bid summer (and the grill) adieu!

I hope that you, too, have enjoyed the last weeks of summertime and look forward, with excitement, to the pleasures of autumn!

xo,

Karen

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Grilled pork tenderloin is fabulous and I make it often in the summer, but I’ve always grilled the tenderloin whole; I never thought to slice it and skewer it until now. It cooked in no time (although I did marinate it for a bit) and turned out great! The scallions were a lovely flavor complement and a nice way to separate the pork slices.

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • ½ tsp. Ground black pepper
  • 1 1 pound pork tenderloin
  • 5 scallions cut into 1-2 inch pieces

Instructions

  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Zest the lemon into a medium bowl and squeeze in the juice (it should yield approximately 3 Tbsp of juice). Add the garlic, oil, salt and pepper. Mix to combine.
  3. Thinly slice the pork tenderloin on a diagonal and add the pork and the scallions to the marinade. Allow to marinate for 15-30 minutes.
  4. Thread the pork and scallions onto skewers and grill until just cooked through, approximately 2-3 minutes per side.

Recipe Notes

Serves 4.

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