Sweet and Spicy Cauliflower Wings

One year ago, I was less than a month into my new job at Comcast, when it was time for an end of summer potluck/cook off. I rarely have the chance to compete in things that do not require hand-eye coordination or an understanding of basic organized sports.

After years of guessing my way through football and March madness brackets, here was a competition I actually had the skill set for. My confidence paid off, and I made the italian summer salad, Panzanella, and walked away with the appetizer trophy.

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So Long Summer Cook-Off 2017

This year, my confidence was a given. I had gotten used to seeing that beautiful trophy on my desk, and explaining to others how I became the proud owner. I knew I needed to enter the appetizer category again, so I could win and keep the travelling trophy.

I landed on cauliflower wings being my golden ticket. They’re a vegetarian, paleo, gluten free spin on a fall favorite (#trendy), and they would catch people’s eye. The more people who taste my dish, the more that can vote for me.  IMG_1126

As you may know from this blog, my recipes are scrappy. The recipes are made up, the dishes often are as well, and game-time decisions are rooted in what I happen to have in the pantry.

With so much on the line, however, I was motivated to do multiple trial batches of cauliflower wings. Finding recipes from all different trusted sources, I looked for the commonalities and tested out the differences. I feel confident that this recipe is the best cauliflower wing recipe out there. There, I said it.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-2 heads of cauliflower (I used 1.5 for the tray you see above)
  • 1 bag of Mill’s almond flour, I probably used 2 cups
  • 3-4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp old bay seasoning or paprika, garlic powder, and salt/pepper
  • 2 cups Frank’s buffalo sauce
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/8 cup butter (optional)
  • Baking sheet with tin foil and olive oil/cooking spray

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Chop cauliflower into florets– think about what size you want the “wings” to be
  • Pour 2 cups almond flour into separate bowl and mix in seasoning
  • Beat eggs in a separate bowl (if you’re not sure how many wings you’ll be making you can start with less and repeat the almond flour and egg steps)
  • Set up baking sheet with tin foil and lightly cover it with olive oil or cooking spray. This is an important best practice to keep the “breading” on the cauliflower.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Moving one piece at a time, dunk cauliflower floret in the egg and then roll in it the almond flour. Many other recipes said to put the almond flour in a bag and toss the florets in it until they are COVERED with flour. Absolutely not. Roll it lightly but cover most the surface.
  • Place on *lightly oiled* baking sheet, and repeat until full.
  • Bake at 425 for 25 minutes, then flip each piece *carefully to not remove breading* and bake for another 20 minutes. Another unique detail here vs. others is that I insist on not adding the sauce until all baking is complete.
  • While the wings are baking, mix your sweet and spicy buffalo sauce- Frank’s buffalo sauce (not the spicy buffalo, I made that mistake), agave nectar, and sesame oil. Add melted butter if a creamy texture is desired and there’s no dietary restrictions against it.
  • Once wings are finished baking, decide how much sauce you would like to have. For saucier texture and strong flavor, dunk each piece quickly in sauce and set back onto tray. For a more controlled approach, use a spoon to do a heavy drizzle over the wings.
  • Note: If you are not serving these on the same day as baking, i.e. potluck, do not apply sauce until time of serving and keep wings in Tupperwares, not refrigerated.

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And for all of you wondering, the buzz for the cauliflower wings was unprecedented. When it came time to collect votes, I anxiously awaited the results while trying to pretend I didn’t care at all; as if, perhaps, this was just an office potluck.

They announced the appetizer category was tied. Truly I was crushed. If assuming mine was one of the appetizers tied for first, how in the world did I tie? I wanted to win by a landslide. Unanimous. Maybe it’s good I’m not eligible for many competitions after all.

After wrangling a few more taste testers, the final results came in. The chef of the Reuben meatballs was the new proud owner of the appetizer trophy. I smiled and applauded, just as I learned from all the awards shows. It was confirmed later that I was the other dish originally tied.

Truthfully, it took hours, some would say days, to accept this loss. I cleaned and organized my desk with a more minimalist look and feel, and haven’t noticed the absence of the trophy. As ridiculous as it sounds, I still would have rather gave my heart and soul into a silly competition and still not win, than be too cool or reserved to let myself get swept away at all. I counted my success in the number of requests for this recipe, and awarded myself an A+ for effort. Take this recipe and run with it, you’ve got nothing to lose.

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Superbowl Sunday Veg Buffalo Dip- 2 Ways!

I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 9 years, and people always ask me if there’s anything I miss. To their disappointment, I always say no, and that it’s such a habit, I forget it’s an option.

And then this time of year in the #BoldNorth rolls around. Minnesotans. love. buffalo. chicken. dip. It’s in every crockpot at the tailgates, holiday parties, and you best believe it will be at Superbowl Sunday. And I’m jealous.

So here we are, the first recipe is vegetarian buffalo dip for the guests that don’t want to be eating bird food. Focus on mentioning there’s cheese, keep quiet about the cauliflower.

Health nuts, keep scrolling for the vegan/paleo buffalo cauliflower hummus that is dairy free, gluten free, and still adored by regular food people like my coworkers.

VEGETARIAN BUFFALO DIP

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INGREDIENTS
1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
1 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup Frank’s buffalo sauce
1 tbsp ranch seasoning
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Sliced green onion
Carrots, celery, and/or chips and crackers for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil, salt and pepper on baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until tender and slightly browned. When cauliflower is done, lower oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
  3. Add roasted cauliflower to food processor and pulse until finely diced. Add cream cheese, yogurt, hot sauce, ranch seasoning and 1/2 cup mozzarella to the food processor and pulse until smooth and creamy.
  4. Transfer cauliflower mixture to a baking dish. Top with remaining mozzarella and optional blue cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until mixture is heated through.
  5. Remove from oven and garnish with sliced green onion and serve with carrot and celery sticks and/or tortilla chips.
""VEGAN/ PALEO BUFFALO HUMMUS
ingredients
INGREDIENTS

1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
Sea salt/ himalayan salt and cracked black pepper to season califlower

1/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Frank’s buffalo sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
Sliced green onion (optional)
Carrots, celery, and/or chips and crackers for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil, salt and pepper on baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until tender and slightly browned.
  3. Add tahini, olive oil, cauliflower, buffalo sauce, and lemon juice to food processor (blender in my case) and pulse until smooth and creamy
  4. Mix in sliced green onion if you’d like
  5. Transfer cauliflower mixture to serving dish. Sprinkle cayenne pepper on top. Cool and enjoy!
dip
Perfect for our arctic Minnesotan Sundays!

Birthday Feast

My approach to cooking is very much rooted in over-confidence.

IMG_3402That’s why committing to 6 weeks of clean eating (and drinking) for the Alchemy 365 Challenge was the perfect motivator in discovering how many dishes I am capable of making. I have always believed recipes are up for interpretation, and now I have taken this farther and started making them up completely.

That’s why when my boyfriend, Brandon, asked where we could go for a 365-approved birthday dinner, I insisted on a completely homemade meal.

I think it’s a rule of thumb to not serve people something you make for the first time. But if you can’t tell, I really don’t like rules.

STARTERS

IMG_3394Zucchini fries
-3 to 4 zucchinis, I used 4 on the small side and that made a full pan of fries
-1 egg
– 1/3 to 1/2 cup flax seed (enough to cover fries)
-Spices or salt & pep

Cut zucchinis the long way and then chop to be the size of fries. Coconut/Olive oil on a cookie sheet and lay down fries. Brush with the beaten egg; sprinkle flax seed and any other desired seasoning. Bake at 375 for 15-20 mins.

Crab cakes
IMG_3375-1 pound lump crab, this can be super expensive so if you end up opting for a more imitation crab route, whatever.
-1 sweet potato
-2 eggs
-1/3 cup olive oil
-1/4 cup parsley
-1.5 tbsp garlic
-2 tbsp flax seed
-Sea salt and ground pepper as you please

Cook the sweet potato in a pot with water for ~20 mins. In the meantime shred up and chop the crab into thin pieces. Add the eggs, oil, garlic, flax seed, salt, parsley, and any other seasoning you want, and mix.  When the sweet potato is done, IMG_3391mash it separately and mix it in to the bowl.

From here, roll them into balls a little bit bit bigger than a golf ball; then flatten into small patties. The cakes can be cooked right away, or saved in the fridge. When ready to cook. use coconut oil (or oil of choice) in a pan, and cook patties until brown on each side, and flipping them like tiny burgers. I served with lemon and it was AMAZING.

MAIN COURSE

This was Brandon’s time to shine. From my understanding, here’s what we had going on.

IMG_3393Cajun salmon filets:

Cooked to PERFECTION in a cast-iron skillet on the stove. We used this amazing Southwest salt mixture from Arizona for seasoning.

Basically any combination of spice and salt will do. Served with lemon.

Spicy green beans:

Steamed in the rice cooker for 15 minutes. Place in pan and stir in olive oil, red pepper flakes, and 1 tbsp of soy sauce.

DESSERTAka Why We’re All Here

Paleo pumpkin pie:IMG_3392
-1 can of pumpkin
-Two eggs
-Two egg whites
-Can of light coconut milk
-Half cup almond milk
1 Tsp cinnamon
-1/2 Tsp nutmeg
-1/2 Tsp ginger
-1/4 cloves
-2 Tsp vanilla

Mix until it’s all well blended and pour into pie plate then bake for 35 min at 350 degrees. My pan was on the smaller side so it turned out a little odd. It won’t look like a ton of mix, but go for a bigger pan anyway so it cooks all the way through.

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I Am Malala supervised the blender

1 Ingredient Ice Cream:
-2 bananas
-Cinnamon to taste (for me, like 15 shakes)
-3 tbsp peanut butter
Peel and chop 2 ripe bananas and freeze for at least 2 hours, I did overnight. Place bananas in blender and blend for about 2o minutes.

At first, it will seem like the bananas are not making much progress- do not worry. I walked away so that I wouldn’t be tempted to add water.

When it starts to have a creamier consistency, add your flavors (I did PB and cinnamon) and continue blending until it looks like a shake. From there, pour into a tuperware and freeze, again for at least 2 hours.

This is the new cure to my sweet tooth!

There you have it, the absolute tastiest food, all guilt free. I am a big believer in eating what you want and how much you want, but knowing exactly what you are eating. When you start focusing on ingredients and where your food comes from, your taste buds change with your perspective.

In my opinion (and in Brandon’s), this meal wasn’t about restriction, or what wasn’t on the table. While nutritious, it was all filling, delicious, and fun. That’s how food should be-especially a birthday dinner. If healthy food doesn’t taste good, it makes skipping the donuts and pizza an uphill battle.

Can’t wait for you to try these recipes (and make up your own) and hear what you think!