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Monday, December 24, 2012

[Recipes] California Walnuts -Savoury & Sweet!

The holidays always seem to be a busy time for everyone. Bustling around the mall to buy gifts, arranging gatherings to celebrate the holiday season, and prepping for a big holiday meal with the family. But I'm not the only one who's busy during the holidays, my kitchen has its work cut out for it too! With so many holiday parties and potlucks, you can really start to run out of ideas!

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California Walnuts

Luckily just a couple weeks ago, Sandy (@savvari) of Milk and Eggs introduced me to a website of interesting recipes, all surrounding one ingredient: walnuts. I'm not any particularly fan of walnuts, despite them being actuall quite the nutrient food. It's jam packed with omega-3, vitamin E, calcium, iron, and other good stuff. But to use them in cooking? That never crossed my mind. Sandy graciously offered to send me a package of California Walnuts (@CAWalnuts) along with some recipes to try out. There were an abundance of recipes ranging from savoury to sweet, who knew they were so versatile? I decided to test out both a savoury and sweet recipe.


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Mini Walnut Stuffed Potatoes

(Original version here)

Makes approximately 30
15 mini potatoes (red or white skinned)
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
1 cup (250 mL) sour cream
1/2 cup (125 mL) crumbled gorgonzola (or any blue cheese)
1 cup (250 mL) toasted California walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup (50 mL) finely chopped chives, divided
2 strips cooked bacon, crumbled
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper

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Ingredients all lined up to go :)


Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).

Cut potatoes in half crosswise. Mix with oil in bowl. Place cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake potatoes until just tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

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Half the potatoes

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Coating potatoes with olive oil

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quick pre-bake

Filling: In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream, gorgonzola, walnuts, half of the chives, bacon, salt and pepper and stir well.

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Making the filling

Cut a thin slice off rounded end of each potato so that it will sit upright. Turn the potatoes over and, using melon baller or small spoon, scoop out some of the centre of each potato and add it to the filling mixture and stir.

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Scooping the potatoes

Stuff potato shells with heaping amount of the filling and arrange potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are completely cooked and filling is warmed through.

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Sprinkle of bacon makes everything better!

Garnish potatoes with the remaining chives. Serve immediately.

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Yum Yum :)


Now on to the sweet...brownies! I love myself a good brownie, but always feel so guilty afterwards. All that butter, flour, and sugar, goes straight to those unwanted parts of your body! But a quick skim through this recipe would have me impressed, no sugar or flour! Instead, the sweetness comes from the dark chocolate, and the flour has been replaced by a healthy quinoa flour. That also makes this dessert gluetn-free and diabetic friendly! This is almost too good to be true.

(Original version here)
Makes approximately 16 peices
1 cup (250 mL)dates, pitted (about 16)
2 tbsp (30 mL) water
7 oz (210 g) dark chocolate (good quality), chopped
6 tbsp (90 mL) butter, salted
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tbsp (30 mL) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp (30 mL) quinoa flour
1 cup (250 mL) California walnut pieces, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp (30 mL) icing sugar

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Brownie Ingredients

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line the inside of a 9-inch (23 cm) square pan with foil and set aside. In the food processor, place dates and 2 tbsp (30 mL) of water and blend into a smooth paste. Set aside.

In a medium sauce pan over low heat, melt butter and chocolate, stirring until smooth.

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Melting the chocolately goodness

Remove butter and chocolate from heat and mix in the date paste followed by one egg at a time until fully incorporated. Sift together the cocoa powder and quinoa flour in a small bowl and stir into the chocolate mixture.

With a wooden spoon, beat the batter vigorously for at least 1 minute until the batter is no longer grainy.

Mix in the walnuts and pour the mixture into prepared baking pan.

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Adding the key ingredient

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the brownies feel just set in the centre. Note: Do not over-bake the brownies. When ready, remove the brownies from the oven and allow to cool completely.

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I added some extra walnuts on top. No such thing as too much of a good thing! :D

Sift icing sugar over the top of the brownies using your favourite holiday stencil. Makes 16 pieces.

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Fudgy Walnut Brownies

Perhaps you can consider incorporating some nutrient packed walnuts into your cooking too?