A “Basic” Brownie Recipe

Posted on May 31, 2010. Filed under: Daily Update, Recipe | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I come from the line of thinking that you should never make things from a box: Either make it yourself, or buy it from someone who made it themselves. Things just taste better that way, don’t they?

Last night, I had a brownie attack. Don’t we all get those? I used to swear by a recipe like this one by Rachael Ray.I love the tag: “We can’t believe people are still using boxed mixes!” However, since then my “basic” has become anything but. Of course, there’s the gluten thing; I’ve also steered away from using eggs in baked goods for personal reasons. And, while I’m at it, I usually figure why not take out the dairy and make them vegan just in case? In case of what? I have no clue either. But that’s my line of thinking. And so I made brownies as “basic” as I could. And you know what? They turned out darn good. And because they were vegan, I got to lick the pan 😉

Basic Allergen-Friendly Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup GF flour mix
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk(water in a pinch)
  • 1 flax egg(1 tablespoon flaxmeal gelled in 3 tablespoons water)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 oz chopped dark chocolate, or 6 tablespoons vegan chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a big bowl, sift together the first five ingredients. Melt the non-hydrogenated margarine and add in the olive oil, non-dairy milk, vinegar, flax egg, and extract. Pour into the dry mixture and mix until incorporated. Fold in the dark chocolate and pour into an 8×8 baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

When you’re living with allergens, life isn’t simple. Good thing these brownies are. And tasty!

I’m ashamed to say this was store bought vanilla bean coconut milk ice cream. When you get used to the home-churned stuff, it just feels naughty coming from a carton. Regardless, this was soooo good. Isn’t this how every weekend should be? 3-days long and full of brownie sundaes? I think so.

You could use 3 ounces of fancy chocolate for the recipe. Or you could use vegan baking chips and save the good stuff for yourself to eat straight. I think you can guessed what I chose.

And a big ol’ bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter and sea salt tasted good after all that chocolate. Sometimes, you just need to detox.

After all that baking/microwaving, I did not feel like much for breakfast this morning. I really wanted a big cake donut and to call it a day but that wasn’t happening. Thankfully, I found this chocolate chip muffin from Gluten Free Life to eat with some earth balance. Just like my brownies, you’d never guess this was gluten-free! And so many chocolate chips. Yum 🙂

Anything exciting on tap for Memorial Day? I had a pool party in store but apparently it’s been rain checked since the pool won’t heat up 😦 Alas, we have a grill, we have neighbors, I’m sure we’ll find some way to spice up Memorial day.

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I’m The MacGyver Of Baking

Posted on May 16, 2010. Filed under: Daily Update | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Yesterday, my parents went to see our relatives while I stayed home studying. My aunt, ever-thoughtful, sent back some cupcakes for me. It was really thoughtful; but there was something that worried us. If you asked her what they were, she’d say “organic, gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, nut-free…” the list goes on. She did the same when I made my cousin these cupcakes. And they didn’t seem gluten-free. In fact, after a little investigating, it seemed likely they weren’t and she just got confused. Well I was OK with that and letting my family have them. Except then I wanted cake. I really wanted cake.

Simple Chocolate Cake

Simple Chocolate Cake

I broke out the Sweet Utopia cookbook sent to me by Book Publishing Co. and flipped open to the first recipe in the book: a simple chocolate cake. Perfect. I made a few alterations to the recipe(switching to gluten-free flours, almond milk for soy milk, and olive oil for canola oil), and 28 minutes later I brought life into this world.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Cake

Vegan, Gluten-Free Cake

Isn’t she a cutie? But I wanted cake fast so I cut a slice and stuck it in the fridge to cool quickly. While that was cooling, I made a 2-minute buttercream frosting by mixing earth balance, powdered sugar, and vanilla powder in a small dish with a fork. It was almost too easy.

Cake With Frosting

Cake With Frosting

I went from thinking I’d have a chocolate bar for dessert(but not really happy with that) to 1 hour later having a vegan, gluten-free chocolate cake with vegan buttercream frosting all with whatever ingredients I had on hand. I think that qualifies me to be the MacGyver of baking.

Organic Smooth Dark Chocolate

Organic Smooth Dark Chocolate

Vanilla Oikos With Vanilla Peanut Butter

Vanilla Oikos With Vanilla Peanut Butter

Organic Baby Carrots

Organic Baby Carrots

Oatmeal With Butter Toffee Peanut Butter

Oatmeal With Butter Toffee Peanut Butter

After that excitement, I just couldn’t sleep; this happens almost every Saturday night and it’s so annoying. I figure this last time just might be because of my last final. But I definitely needed more fuel than usual for the 2+ hours I was awake. I’m not even sure when I got to bed, but this morning I stumbled out of bed late and just hungry.

Pineapple Chobani, Oatmeal With Crunchy PB, Maple Syrup, And Maple Butter

Pineapple Chobani, Oatmeal With Crunchy PB, Maple Syrup, And Maple Butter

Oatmeal With Crunchy PB, Maple Syrup, And Maple Butter

Oatmeal With Crunchy PB, Maple Syrup, And Maple Butter

I’m still trying to find out the secret to making a really amazing maple peanut butter. It’s harder than you’d think! And the secret ingredient is not coconut oil as it turns out. Oh well. This bowl was still really good with crunchy maple butter. And now I’m eating a Chobani as if it were a parfait–not stirring the jam up first. It’s pretty good this way.

What do you hate most about restless nights? In the time I’m awake, all I can think about is the stuff I could have done with that time rather than lie in a dark room and toss and turn. And here’s a fun chocolate giveaway to enter.

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Food Combining

Posted on April 16, 2010. Filed under: Daily Update | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

When you eat a lot of food, you eat a wide variety of food; that’s good, right? Maybe not, at least according to the rules of food combining. Food combining, at its core, breaks down foods into their categories and suggests which to pair together for optimal nutrition and which to avoid combining. Proper food combining is supposed to lead to proper digestion.

Nectarine

Nectarine

Fruit, for instance, should always be eaten alone. Accordingly, I snacked on this nectarine before lunch eaten all by itself. I first heard of food combining from Gina, and my first reaction was “Finally, the key!”

A little more time and thought and I’m ready to call this one busted. Why? Well, in a bit of research, I’ve came across a slew of articles such as this article which make it sound more absurd than miraculous; 20,000 years of food digestion and we’ve gotten pretty good at it. I also took in to account that nothing usually digests on its own; that nectarine I ate was undoubtedly sitting on top of my breakfast in my gut even if eaten an hour later. The final straw was that I’d have to accept that 19 years of eating have been done “improperly” if I’m to believe food combining now. I’ve had some bad times on the toilet, but not that much.

Grass-Fed Burger, Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Seasoned Butternut Squash

Grass-Fed Burger, Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Seasoned Butternut Squash

Burgers and sweet potatoes “don’t combine well”; if you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you’d know that meal is a staple in my diet. I meant to have it for lunch, too, but instead I cooked some brussels sprouts in the beef fat and steamed butternut squash in the microwave to the point of being soft. I then tossed those with sea salt, turmeric, and cinnamon. That combination of spices was magnificent and anti-oxidant rich–love it! Dessert was my cookie Friday creation:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Sandwich

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Sandwich

How do chocolate, peanut butter, and brownie combine? I obviously didn’t stick around with it long enough before looking in to debunking the myth to find out. All I know is that in my mouth they combine heavenly. The inside was a peanut butter gluten-free chocolate brownie, surrounded by Endangered Species 70% dark chocolate and a layer of 365 brand peanut butter sweetened with Madhava vanilla agave.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Sandwich

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Sandwich

OK. I actually ate it uncombined more like this because it was so clumpy; it was still delicious! 😀 By far my favorite bit was the chocolate with peanut butter on top, which was perfectly bitter-sweet. And this chocolate bar is on sale at Whole Foods for the next week! I’m going to stock up over the weekend since I obviously have no problem going through them.

Sweet Potatoes, Maple Syrup, Brussels Sprouts, And Tofu With Maple Syrup

Sweet Potatoes, Maple Syrup, Brussels Sprouts, And Tofu With Maple Syrup

This was my dinner: quite literally combined! I gave new meaning to shake and bake by filling a bag with tofu, sweet potato, and brussels, shaking it with maple syrup to spread that around and baking it at 350 to roast the veggies while cooking the tofu to the perfect texture.

Maple Baked Tofu, Roasted Brussels And Sweet Potato

Maple Baked Tofu, Roasted Brussels And Sweet Potato

Maple Baked Tofu, Roasted Brussels And Sweet Potato

Maple Baked Tofu, Roasted Brussels And Sweet Potato

I loooooove this combination of maple baked tofu with sweet potato and greens. This feels like the perfect Friday night meal because it’s so homey and warm, and it’s been rain clouds all day. I just wish good food didn’t take so long to prepare! I start dinner at 4:30 to eat at 6:30. But if time is the cost for a healthy meal, I’ll pay up and pay it forward. I added a secret ingredient on top I’m “testing out”. I don’t want to say too much, but I think the flavor works well, and I can’t wait to try making a real recipe with it.

My Verdict

I will not be striving to keep separate my starch from my flesh from my fruit any time soon. Had you heard of food combining? Do you practice it? Does it work for you? I’m not saying my disbelief of it means it’s not the key for somebody. I just read an article last night saying there’s no scientific evidence for a gluten intolerance short of Chron’s Disease, but I know my body enough to say I don’t have Chron’s and still gluten from wheat, barley, and rye upset my stomach. Similarly, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear if food combining is what works for some people. Just not myself.

A giveaway for WoW baked goods–I love these!

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The Birthday Day

Posted on March 30, 2010. Filed under: Daily Update | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

First of all, thank you. For everything. I haven’t had time to say that enough between the half marathon and my birthday, so I wanted to get that out from the start. These past two days have been hectic but I panned them that way after all and so thank you for all your well wishes. Over the past two days, 1) my official time and place was announced as 1:42:10 and 36, 2) Megan wrote this article which I really enjoyed pausing to take the time to read and I think you might as well, and 3) my Wellness giveaway is still running so get your entries in!.

Pumpkin Oatmeal With Butter Toffee PB, Vanilla Cake Chobani With Milk Choc Peanuts

Pumpkin Oatmeal With Butter Toffee PB, Vanilla Cake Chobani With Milk Choc Peanuts

Vanilla Cake Chobani With Milk Chocolate Peanuts

Vanilla Cake Chobani With Milk Chocolate Peanuts

For breakfast I had plain ol’ pumpkin oatmeal with butter toffee peanut butter, which we’re running out of here and at my dorm so clearly it’s time to reorder Naturally Nutty. I sweetened a plain Chobani with 1/2 a serving Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free vanilla cake mix for something really yummy. On top were also one of my favorites–milk chocolate peanuts–making this definitely one special birthday breakfast.

Spelt Banana Goodness Bread

Spelt Banana Goodness Bread

Since it was raining, I took the chance to do something I haven’t done in over 4 weeks: bake! Runners gotta run and bakers gotta bake. Since going low-gluten, I’ve discovered that one of the wheats I can tolerate is spelt. Spelt is an ancient, non-hybrid grain whose gluten is generally accepted better. Hearing that, I whipped up one of my favorite recipes, the banana goodness bread. A good bread has plenty of brown sugar on top to turn into a crust 🙂

Honey Baked Tofu

Honey Baked Tofu

I decided to do a “practice” for something to make for Easter Sunday and try baking a tofu “ham” with honey and cloves. The result was OK, but it really didn’t come out like I was thinking it would, and I much prefer maple anyway. Who needs to stick to tradition?

Honey Pineapple Soyaki Tofu And Asparagus

Honey Pineapple Soyaki Tofu And Asparagus

Spelt Banana Goodness Bread

Spelt Banana Goodness Bread

The honey with some soyaki Trader Joe sauce was actually really good and made it taste a little “tropical”; it reminded me of the Wildwood tofu I reviewed a while ago. For a vegetable, there was asparagus. And because bread tastes freshest, I had a slice of banana goodness bread made with spelt, chocolate chips, and hemp seeds(!!). The hemp added a great subtle nuttiness to it that I preferred to the flax.

Apple

Apple

Even though I wasn’t running, I felt like I could eat and eat and eat. This apple came while I was cleaning up dirty dishes and waiting for my next baked good to cook…

Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

You all didn’t think I posted that recipe last night for no reason, did you? I made a batch of gluten free chocolate brownies done peanut butter style. I had such difficulty finding the black beans, wondering why they weren’t with the baking items?! I definitely had no patience, ended up cutting into them way too early, and making 1/4 of the pan turn into crumbs. Nevertheless, I got my slice.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie With Chocolate Chip Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie With Chocolate Chip Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Brownie a la mode, anyone? I’ve actually never understood the combination of cold ice cream and warm brownie–until yesterday that is. It’s not that you want the contrast between the two, you just want brownies and ice cream and so take both 🙂 This was So Delicious, pun intended, but not terribly filling. Why not have more?

Coconut Milk Vanilla Yogurt With Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie

Coconut Milk Vanilla Yogurt With Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie

Did you know the same amount of So Delicious ice cream and yogurt has just about the same amount of sugar? In fact, a lot of flavored yogurts are just as sugary as some ice cream brands. Maybe I should have just had the ice cream, lol. At least this had probiotics. And after this grand afternoon snack I was filled well for dinner, which we ate at Tomasso.

Grilled Local Chicken, Sage Roasted Fingerlings, Broccoli Rabe

Grilled Local Chicken, Sage Roasted Fingerlings, Broccoli Rabe

Holy yum, a dinner I didn’t have to cook! At first, I was a little disappointed the prezzo fisso menu wasn’t that appealing nor were the specials; I ended up ordering(for the first time, too, probably) just off the everyday menu local Misty Knoll chicken, roasted potatoes, and broccoli rabe. Let me tell you, the chicken and potatoes were to die for. Seriously, I have a little for leftovers and can’t wait to have them. I don’t think I’ve eaten local chicken before, either! So it was special after all.

Raw Vegan Brownies

Raw Vegan Brownies

When we got home I whipped, err, processed up dessert. I made a batch of raw vegan brownies using sunflower and hulled hemp seeds; I love that a raw recipe can be so no-fuss and still taste great and exotic! I made a quick and raw coconut milk frosting using about 2 parts coconut milk and agave to 1 part cocoa powder.

Raw Vegan Brownie With Raw Chocolate Frosting, So Delicious Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Raw Vegan Brownie With Raw Chocolate Frosting, So Delicious Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Brownie a la mode was definitely the theme of the day 😉 The chocolate peanut butter swirl ice cream never gets old; it’s just pure magic, and such a fine, natural replacement for my old Turkey Hill addiction. And anything with frosting never disappoints 😉

Raw Vegan Brownie

Raw Vegan Brownie

I snagged one last brownie, because, ya’ know, they’re best when they’re freshest out of the food processor. They’re also little sugar bombs, which is probably why I was up 2 hours later, but I got to sleep… eventually. All in all, it was a great great day, and that’s coming from someone who has a tendency to inflate the importance of things and create impossible expectations. I drank too many cups of decaf coffee to count, ate a lot of sugar, and couldn’t get out for a run because of the constant deluge here in New England, and I’m OK with all of that because that’s what special days are for.

I can’t believe all the Facebook notifications in my mailbox right now; did it have to send one everytime someone posted on my wall? Now I have the morning to deal with that. I’ve also decided I’m going to try to go low/no added sugar today and without sweetened beverages; after yesterday, my palate is just begging to taste something other than sweet. I managed to keep my breakfast “clean”, but I’ll save that for the next post. In the meantime, here are giveaways for a refrigerator makeover, my favorite brand chocolate, gluten-free goodies, a gluten free cheesecake giveaway, and one for coconut oil.

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Surprise Guest

Posted on March 5, 2010. Filed under: Daily Update, Recipe | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I mentioned I was in a rush this morning, but I never really made clear why on a day I had no class.

Truth was I had company to attend to! My friend, Eury, decided to take the train down from Boston for the day before she goes to England for a month(lucky duck!). I’ve known Eury litrally since day 1 of high school; for freshmen and sophomore year we had all the same classes and were in the same circle of friends. More recently, I met her in Boston to eat at Grezzo‘s here. While I was finishing up eating breakfast, Eury was understandably hungry from the train and walking. I whipped up something I know pretty well:

Who doesn’t love tofu, broccoli, and soy sauce? It was fun to catch up and have my mind off work while we chatted. One thing we had “planned” to do was bake cookies, which was a lot easier to manage in high school with visits at home than to dorms. Still, we had all the ingredients on hand for a certain recipe.

Eury brought 3/4 cup Florida sun crystals sugar, which was the perfect amount for 5-ingredient peanut butter cookies. I don’t keep much for baking around, but peanut butter and an egg I could certainly manage. I love this recipe because it’s so simple; it was gluten-free before I knew I needed that!

Even though we were dealing with a finicky oven, they came out great for the most part. For the peanut butter, we used 365 brand creamy. Not only is it so delicious, but there’s a coupon in the new Whole Deal flyer letting you get a jar for just $1! For peanut butter that’s just peanuts and salt, that’s a bargain. After a bit more time, Eury needed to catch one of the trains heading out of Providence so we said our goodbyes. I gave her a coconut oil chocolate; I’m still waiting for the review 😉

After she left, I was definitely hungry for lunch. What I really wanted was a nice, juicy burger. Since it’s a Friday during Lent, that was not an option. And–to be honest–I was actually feeling resentful. I could tell that wasn’t right, but rather than sulk and force myself to eat something “real” while resenting it, I decided to go for an out-of-the-norm lunch that would just keep me happy. Last weekend, I picked up this raw cacao at the natural food store and decided to make really raw pudding.

I’ve had a lot of chocolate avocado pudding, but would you believe I’ve never had it 100% raw before? Well, now I have. In the bowl went avocado, coconut milk, raw cacao, and raw agave. To balance out the chocolate, I had one of our peanut butter cookies. The pudding didn’t taste ground breakingly different, but it did have a bit more of a bitter taste and was a unique experience. And, sure, I’d make it like that again. When this didn’t quite fill me up, I went for dessert.

It couldn’t have been wrong to go for another; the first one was part of lunch and this was a wholly different snack 😉 And who can turn down the smell of fresh cookies? With enough peanut butter and sugar in my system, I was able to get to the computer for the first time and get to work. Somewhere along the line, I had the nerve to try something I’d been thinking about for a few days now. It’s no secret I love my fakin’ tempeh bacon, but that’s off limit for Lent, too, so why not make my own?

Tempeh Bacon

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 a block of tempeh

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon ground garlic or onion(optional)

Cut the block of tempeh vertically into thin strips with a sharp knife. Lay these out carefully in a deep dish with a flat bottom or in a sealed plastic bag. In a small cup, mix together the wet ingredients and spices if using. Pour the marinade over the tempeh bacon, and toss and turn until well coated. Let this sit for at least 30 minutes. Before preparing, pat dry with a paper towel. Cook either heated in a pan with a teaspoon of oil or in the microwave on a paper towel.

After this plop of Mighty Maple, I had easily eaten 1/4 cup nut butter through my day so far. Fantastic. Besides that, it was pretty delicious; the tempeh bacon didn’t taste quite as good as Lightlife’s, but it’ll get me through the Lenten season. I love the maple/smoky/salty flavor to it all. This filled me up a lot, too, and was probably more protein than I had gotten all day, haha. After that, though, I had no real appetite for hunger. I wasn’t craving much beyond veggies and tofu, so that’s what I whipped up.

You definitely can’t say I feed my guests things I wouldn’t eat; I just heated up tofu in a pan with some soy sauce, steamed broccoli in the microwave and then finished that off in the pan, too. I threw in some sour cream & onion popchips to round it out, even though I wasn’t particularly in the mood for them; the dish just felt empty otherwise. My mind keeps going back to last Friday night, when I felt so overwhelmed and needed the promise of ice cream and a trip home the next day to push through. I’m definitely far from there tonight, but I’ll take the ice cream 😉

Check out this giveaway for some  Sahale nuts or this giveaway for chocolate milk–both good choices!

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Taking Control

Posted on January 15, 2010. Filed under: Daily Update, Giveaway, Recipe | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

*Chobani winner announced at the end of this post*

I think everyone is entitled to control of their own life. And it then becomes our duty to make sure we actually take the control into our own hands. This morning I had my annual doctor’s physical, which I was not looking forward to. Frankly, I haven’t been happy with my physician for the past few visits, which doesn’t bode well for him since I’ve only had him for a few years now. I feel he judges his patients as dots, simply comparing them to all the other dots in America on his little chart; that doesn’t cut it for me. I’m unique. You’re unique. Everyone is unique. Like I predicted, he pulled up his laptop with his charts and explained what numbers were a little high and which ones were a little low, and I sat there and took it. What I really wanted to yell say was that everything he was pointing out runs in my family and is hereditary and that they are who he should be comparing me to. But when I walked out afterwards, I made a decision: I will be changing doctors after today. We have every right to be in control of our health care, we just need to take it. Consider control taken. Is there any part of your life that you need to take control? You don’t need to write about it in the comments; just do it!

What else gives me a great sense of control? My meal planning, which led me to this lunch of tactfully planned leftovers:

Vegan Meatloaf With Ketchup, Sweet Potato Rounds With Nutritional Yeast, Broccoli

Root Beer Zevia

I cannot tell you how excited I was for today’s lunch; as good as the vegan meatloaf is the first day, it’s about 10 times better after sitting in the fridge–sooo amazing! Especially with a little ketchup because I’m classy like that 😉 And, hey! There might have even been some sweet potato under that nutritional yeast… just maybe. And on the side I sipped a root beer Zevia for something special while watching the television and catching up on the google reader.

While we’re talking about control, I never feel more in control than in the kitchen. I love it, especially when it’s my own recipe I’m working on. I made up a recipe last night just for Cookie Friday that hit all my cravings for the time.

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Chunkies

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance(or butter), softened
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup 2% or whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 a teaspoon salt
  • 60g milk chocolate bar, shaved(or 1/4 cup chocolate chips)
  • Coarse sea salt

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, cream together the earth balance and sugar. Whisk in the egg and egg yolk, peanut butter, milk, and vanilla extract. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the dry ingredients the egg mixture and mix well. Fold in the milk chocolate shavings. Scoop out cookies onto a lined baking pan. Sprinkle coarse sea salt over the top of the cookies and flatten the top with a fork perpendicularly. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until slightly firm to the touch.

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Chunkies

These definitely would be the show-stoppers at any cookie swap; who can say no to milk chocolate and peanut butter? And they really aren’t that unhealthy for you at all because a lot of the sugar has been replaced with healthy fats and butter replaced with no-cholesterol Earth Balance. And of course you can take control and adjust the recipe to suit yourself.

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

While I was in the kitchen I made up some peanut butter cups. There were also 4 others that are just out of the picture. What I love about this is you can take control and adjust the chocolate and peanut butter to your liking. The chocolate here is a darker milk chocolate made with 3 parts Trader Joe’s milk chocolate for every 1 part Baker’s Unsweetened. The peanut butter was a blend of 8 parts Smart Balance Agave Sweetened to 1 part vanilla bean infused sugar. I’m not sure how the peanut butter tasted but I slipped a bit of the chocolate and it was perfect. When everything was done, I took my cookie and coffee and sat down.

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Chunky

Soooo good. These are more salty than sweet, which is totally my preference. But that’s not saying they don’t have sweetness to them. They just taste like good ol’ peanut butter and some smooth chocolate. I ended up watching Tivoed Good Eats and was pleasantly surprised to find it was Alton’s new weight loss episode. Have you seen him recently? He lost 50 pounds of fat! Go Alton! I loved his “no-diet” diet of how he eats:

  • Daily: Fruits, whole grains, leafy greens, nuts, carrots, green tea.
  • At least 3x weekly: oily fish, yogurt, broccoli, sweet potato, avocado.
  • 1 time a week at most: red meat, pasta, dessert, alcohol.
  • None: fast foods, soda, processed meals, canned soups, “diet” anything
  • Breakfast every day–no excuses!

I love it! Probably because it sounds like me 😀 (Except for the dessert thing. Desserts a daily item with me) He really took control of his life. What was best was that he was serving this up as a lifestyle and not a diet, which is how it should be seen. If you can, seek out the whole episode. Before dinner I snacked on an apple:

Organic Apple

I don’t know why but I feel the need to point out when things are organic. Thankfully, I’ve noticed this is a common thing among blogs so I don’t feel completely random here. And then I made dinner. I tried a honey citrus salmon, which probably would have been 10 times better were the fish thicker, fresh, and not done in a pan. As it were, it actually didn’t come out bad(though caused a lot of smoke).

Honey Citrus Salmon, Mashed Kefir Cauliflower With Black Pepper

Salty Oatmeal With Raw Cheddar Cheese

We just called it “blackened” salmon 🙂 I also tried out a new recipe! Mashed cauliflower with coconut milk kefir as the creamer. Sooo good! I loved how it came out a bit tangy and sweet from the kefir. AND I can count it as a probiotic source(which is helpful because this would then be number 1 of the day). On the side, I was having a major craving for salt oatmeal. So while I made my parents white potatoes, I cooked up really salty oats and topped it with a salty, raw cheddar–heaven. I’m sure that doesn’t sound in the least appetizing, and I’m sure it wouldn’t have been if it weren’t a major craving. And now, as I’m typing, I’m “unwinding” to this:

Zevia Cola

What is it about beverages that make them what we unwind with? With caffeine, this probably isn’t the best choice to have at night for me, but it is Friday after all 😀 Before I bring up my giveaway, I want to point out the Oikos giveaway at An Apple A Day and the Crofter’s giveaway at Crunches For Cupcakes. And without further ado…

Carrie H!

“Lemon Bluberry Chobani loaf! I NEED some baked goods in my life right now! Oh, and I’ve never tried Chobani, so thanks for the giveaway!”

Never tried Chobani?! We’ll have to fix that. Send me your address and I’ll forward it to the company.

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Ifs And Thens

Posted on January 7, 2010. Filed under: Daily Update, Recipe | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

If you’re going to cook something for lunch that’s already going to make your breath smell bad…

Lightlife Savor Chick'n Smart Tenders

Then you might as well make the whole meal a stanky mess.

Savory Chick'N Tenders, Garlic Steamed Brussels, Sour Cream & Onion Popchips

A delicious, stanky mess, that is. That would be the tenders, brussels sprouts I steamed and then ground dried garlic on top of with sea salt, and a bag of Pop Chips which I got in the mail yesterday to review.

If you’re going to make a “healthy” potato chip…

Sour Cream & Onion Pop Chips

Then you better make them tasty. And boy do they! I think I’m in love with this flavor. This actually had me wondering: Who am I? Normally, I don’t like chips because they’re not really filling and poorly flavored. But THESE were absolutely delicious. And healthy? I’m still enamored about that last one. This was the first flavor I tried, but I’m 98% sure I’m buying a big bag of those from the classy Targe when I’ve had them all.

If you’re going to end a Thursday show with 2 cliffhangers, Days Of Our Lives, then you can expect I’ll be watching tomorrow’s episode.

If you’re going to make a healthy, vegan cookie…

Vegan Pumpkin Molasses Cookies

(Those would be my 4th or 5th batch of the vegan pumpkin molasses cookies adapt from Holly’s recipe made with erythritol instead of 1/2 a cup turbinado sugar) Then you should balance that with sugary maple cupcakes and dream of the cream cheese and butter you can slather on them.

Maple Syrup Cupcakes

I intended to make my vegan maple-apple morning cookies. Then I decided I didn’t want oats or apples in them. Then the flaxseed and wheat germ came out and an egg went in. Whoops. Then they magically poured themselves into lined cupcake tins and cooked for 16-18 minutes. Funny how that happens, isn’t it? I was drooling thinking about the maple cream cheese frosting or vegan maple buttercream frosting I could whip up(literally) for them, but after giving it thought I’m thinking these are going to hit the freezer and that would not work out.

If you’re going to be in the kitchen for 4 hours and not sit down…

Vegan Whole Wheat Cinnamon Roll With Smart Balance Peanut Butter

Then you need handheld carbs and fat to keep going. 2:30-6:30. I think at some point my mind skipped out and found a place to sit and still hasn’t came back(hence me going for a gimmicky post to bemuse us all).

If you’re going to be handling raw food…

Raw Chicken Breast

Then chicken is not the one to be tempted to lick the fork after working with. I was thinking of Twittering my perils, but didn’t know what to say/didn’t want salmonella on my keyboard.

If you’re going to dream of peanut butter, maple, and bacon for your entire life…

Hickory Maple Peanut Butter

Then you might as well make a hickory maple peanut butter. This was my final kitchen work-up, and I’m a little disappointed. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and this one’s all over the place with consistancy. Maybe it just needs to sit a while.

If you’re going to leave me in charge of dinner…

Cherry Maple Chicken, Killer Cornbread, Parsnip And Carrot Fries With BBQ Dipping Sauce

Then you know it’s going to be maple flavored something. The chicken came out amazing(totally tooting my own horn here). But seriously, it was juicy and cooked just for the right amount of time, with a delicate sweetness. I saw cherry chiken on Jess’ blog and thought it sounded good. The fries never really crisped up unfortunately. And the killer cornbread? Still killer.

If you’re going to be hungry after your plate of food…

Pink Lady Apple

Then a fruit or vegetable is a smart call. Not a smart call? Going back for more chicken. OK, this wasn’t exactly unsmart(kind of like how that’s not exactly a word). But I like to eat 3oz of meat and be satisfied with that. But when I was still hungry and there was no fries, the chicken was way more appealing than leftover cornbread, and I figured a little extra of really good meat that I cooked myself wasn’t going to kill. Still had to have an apple after that, and now it’s sitting in me like a brick. Joy.

If I’m going to be posting at 7:52pm, then I better get out of my work clothes, take out my contacts, and figure out what shows are still on this season.

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The Worst Thing About New Years…

Posted on January 1, 2010. Filed under: Daily Update, Product Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The worst thing about New Years is dating everything 2009 for the next 2 months and having to cross it out. Seriously, I’m going to be doing that into March. But if that’s the worst thing about 2010, I’m guessing it’s going to be a good year 🙂

Isn’t it the case that whenever you’re hosting you forget something? For us, it was good parmesan cheese.

Parmesan Cheese

My dad and I ran to the store(in a snow storm) to grab a hunk. I also quickly looked for nutritional yeast while we were there but couldn’t find any 😦 I guess that’ll be one new thing to try in 2010! I also may have been convinced to come along by a McDonalds’ coffee–just saying.

Our guests called to say they’d be here more 5-ish because of the snow, so I definitely needed some snacks before party food.

Oatmeal With Mighty Maple

Red Delicious Apple

Oatmeal and peanut butter will still be a theme in the New Year; please, nobody fret. We laid out the appetizers…

Apricot Glazed Baked Brie

Savory Cheeseball

Whole Wheat Red Pepper Foccaccia

…and soon they were here. Can I just say that we demolished these? I think there was 3 slices of foccaccia left, 1/2 of the hummus, and 1/3 the cheeseball and… that was about it.

Whole Wheat Red Pepper Foccaccia, Apricot Brie, Dr. Kracker Hummus Maximus Crackers

I ate this times about 2 because I went back for seconds on them all. The bread was so good! It was a Food Network recipe–just store bought whole wheat pizza dough brushed with olive oil, garlic, and red pepper and topped with onion and parmesan. Could it get much simpler? I also really liked the Hummus Maximus crackers; I don’t know that there was anything specific about the flavor I could pinpoint as chickpea, but it was definitely unique and worked well with the hummuses. We did a very early toast.

Toasting Glass

Everyone had champagne except for me and their 4 year old boy, who had milk. Can you guess what was in my glass?… Black Cherry Zevia 🙂 And I wouldn’t have had it any other way(This, naturally, led in to the conversation of how something could be natural and diet soda and why my shirt matched my beverage ;-)). Once we were done with appetizers, we moved on to the main course.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Homemade Meatballs

Roasted Carrots And Turnips, Sirloin Roast, Roasted Broccoli, Homemade Whole Wheat Potato Gnocchi

Our guests were Korean and love their vegetables and red meat; can you tell we tried to accomodate that 😉 Everyone seemed to love everything, and there was nothing bad here. Our guest’s husband was soooo happy that the gnocchi was whole wheat because that meant “his wife would let him eat it”. Haha! Have I mentioned how much I love these people?

Roasted Brussels And Broccoli, Homemade Whole Wheat Gnocchi With Meatballs

This was my plate; I chose the 3 or 4 things I wanted and made a more-or-less normal dinner. I knew I’d be seeing this all for leftovers next year, anyway. You can pretty much assume I at 4 times the brussels and broccoli as pictured because that’s what I kept going back for more of. For the first time, my mom made her meatballs with all-natural ingredients so I made those my main course instead of the sirloin roast that the rest of the table had. They were so soft and moist they melted in my mouth! The gnocchi were also very good, too.

After dinner, we laid out the desserts.

Peanut Butter And Chocolate Gluten Free Brownies, Peanut Butter And Chocolate Biscotti, Italian Bakery Bought Cookies, Tiramisu, Wine, And Newman's Organic Decaf Coffee

At first I was honestly too stuffed for anything but coffee. After a few cups and about 30 minutes of sitting and talking, I had room.

Peanut Butter And Chocolate Gluten Free Brownie, Tiramisu

This was my dessert plate. Oh My God, did these gluten free brownies turn out good! They didn’t even stick to the pan and were super super fudgy. I was worried 3 tablespoons peanut butter chips wouldn’t make a difference but you totally got the peanut butter flavor. Our guests brought a homemade tiramisu made with hazelnut liqueur. It was good! I appreciate that they made the cake bottom instead of using HFCS-laden ladyfingers. We’re not sure what happened with the top layer, which was rather thin, but overall the flavor was there.

Our dessert conversation ran through everything from my bacon milk chocolate bar to beliefs in God. The good thing about good friends and family is you can argue and disagree and everything and it won’t matter 10 minutes later 🙂

Our guests left around 9:45 to go home, put the little one to sleep, and spend time with their grandparents. Within 30 minutes, we had the house back to spick and span and our PJ’s on. We actually got a call from our neighbors to come over to their house but we were exhausted and did not want to think about leaving the house. Oh well, we’ll see them sometime this year.

Tiramisu, Peanut Butter And Chocolate Gluten Free Brownie

I made a snack plate. Seriously, these brownies are addicting! I’ll be making another batch before I know it. We watched Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin since we’re such fans of hers and wanted to see what she’d say. Good thing no drinking games around here because there are a ton with her and we’d all had been wasted.

Tiramisu

At 11:58 I unapologetically went back for another scoop of this dessert. It was last year, so it totally doesn’t count anymore, right 😉 And, of course, we watched the ball drop. After that, though, we pretty much went straight to different rooms and crashed. Midnight is a stretch for me!

So far, the New Year has been filled with laziness, not-working out, and baking. Excellent 😀 How long can I reasonably keep this up? We shall see… Actually, I did wake up at 7, but since no one else was alive I felt free to sleep for another 90 minutes. After coffee and a shower, I decided that my banana goodness bread would be my first dish of the decade. Whether it’s a new home or a new decade, I think homemade bread just says “welcome”. I mushed bananas, sifted flour, and stuck it in the oven. While it was baking I had my first breakfast of the decade.

Pumpkin Oatmeal With Vanilla Almond Butter And Strawberry Yogurt Frosting

See? Things don’t change overnight! That’s partially why I haven’t made any resolutions: I do that enough day-by-day that I feel no pressure to do it year-by-year. Anyway, I wasn’t too hungry and this was late so I kept it simple with delicious, Springtime flavors. I love my salty sweet 🙂 Eventually the bread was done.

Banana Goodness Bread

Another perfect loaf 🙂 This time I swapped out the flaxseed for wheat germ and sprinkled vanilla sugar over the top for some crispness–beautiful. Then my grandmother came over for a New Years lunch. It used to be our tradition when I was a little kid to have chinese take out every new Years day with my grandparents. Instead, we had leftovers, which were 10 times tastier anyway.

Roasted Vegetable Medley, Sirloin Roast, Banana Goodness Bread

Was I supposed to hold off on slicing into that bread? I’m sorry; I think I missed that message 😉 I portioned out 3oz of meat and then loaded up on bread and veggies.Yum! I kind of wish I had the sirloin last night when it was freshly cooked and dripping red but oh well–that’ll happen again in my life sometime. The bread was simply perfect. The key to a crispy stop is a little sprinkling of sugar and it is sooo worth it. Today it sounds like we’re “getting out” because it’s going to snow for 3 straight days, so I’ll be curious to see where we wind up.

A coconut bliss ice cream giveaway! Never tried this but it sounds delicious.

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“Hey, That Was Vegan!”

Posted on December 29, 2009. Filed under: Daily Update | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Last night, like I mentioned, I took control of dinner. I got hungry handling the food, so I snacked on some yogurt.

YoBaby And Greek Yogurt

I mixed 1/2 a container of YoBaby with 1/2 a greek yogurt. The YoBaby was made for… well, babies and was sweet potato and apple flavored. It was actually pretty good! A little thin, but I suppose babies need it to be like that? If you’re wondering why we even had a YoBaby, there was an instore coupon to get it for free and I could not pass on free probiotics. I was very excited to see how the parents would respond to my dinner.

Broccoli Fries, Maple Baked Tofu, Brown Rice Medley With Vegan Butter

I stuck with my favorite simple vegetarian dish: maple tofu. I also made broccoli fries(which needed another 10 minutes but I wasn’t going to make others wait any longer) and some rice which I don’t particularly care for but knew my mom loves. Everyone seemed to like it! Even my mom was picking at second servings of the tofu from the pan. She later asked if it had soy in it, which she’s convinced is poison for woman over 40. Should I bother showing her it’s probably in 50% of everything she eats? I’ll save that amusement for another day. Literally 3 hours after this, for no reason whatsoever, it popped into my mind that this meal was completely vegan! I never would have pictured us as a family enjoying a vegan meal so much, and entirely accidentally. Later on I was still stuffed but wanted a little bit of chocolate cake.

Vitabrownie

Perfect. I love the touch of walnuts on top, which is weird because I’ve never made brownies with walnuts in them. I was thinking of making my gluten free brownies with walnuts instead of mints. Good thing I didn’t because I later found out that my aunt happens to break out with acne from walnuts(and she loves digging in to my desserts at the holidays ;-)). Later on I still had a chocolate tooth but this time more room to stomach oatmeal.

Oatmeal With Butter Toffee Peanut Butter And Chocolate Chips

Delicious. I swear I’m going to need a 5lb tun of Naturally Nutty‘s butter toffee to last through the next semester. I’ve thought about trying to recreate it with my food processor but I just don’t think I could; the texture is just too perfect with this one among other things.

This morning I slept in again. Maybe I need a New Years Resolution to get up on time? Thankfully, I had nowhere to go, just some things to address.

Recipes

These are all the recipes I plan on making before the New Year. 3 are for out New Years Eve party and 3 are for my own amusement. 4 of them are just adapted from internet ones but 2 are “homemade”. The first one I wanted to try was homemade deep chocolate vitatops; I don’t want to think about how much money I’ve spent on these so I was happy to get muffintop baking sheets for Christmas. After studying the ingredient list carefully, I wrote up a recipe that would almost match it exactly.

Homemade Vitatops

They certainly look like the real deal, don’t they? And they’re almost identical in every way, from calories to texture to even whole grains per serving(although I threw in a few extra chocolate chips because vitatops tend to skimp ;-)). So even though I haven’t tasted them yet, I’m going to count this as a win because the point wasn’t to make the best tasting thing I could but the best replica. I’ll post the recipe a little later on. After showering, I wanted a maple(not chocolate) breakfast.

Pumpkin Oatmeal With Mighty Maple And Pumpkin Cream Cheese

Greek Yogurt With Maple Butter

I need to eat my pumpkin cream cheese more because there was a little mold when I opened the container. Why, oh why. This happened last time and we had to throw out the whole thing, but this time I just skimmed the top and carried on(shh, don’t tell). I’d rather take the risk than lose the 6 dollars. The maple butter on yogurt was perfect; I’m going to be using the butter as the “special ingredient” in one of those 5 remaining recipes. But first up it’s time to take Montana to the vet for a check up! Of course the big lump of fur is still sound asleep.

Check out this kitchen gadget giveaway from Graze With Me!

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Somebody Sit Me Down

Posted on December 24, 2009. Filed under: Daily Update | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Our day trip to NYC was a ton of fun but, boy, did it put the pressure on today to get things done! Tonight we’re having an Italian Christmas with my mom’s family and tomorrow we’re going to New Hampshire to be with my dad’s side; and we’re making and baking a ton for both, of course. This morning I decided to get a kick-butt workout in before the holidays. I did

  • 50 stair flights
  • 240 arm rotations
  • 70 rowers arms
  • 40 second rowers hold
  • 100 crunches
  • 70 side crunches, both sides
  • 70 second crunch hold
  • 70 tricep dips
  • 50 stair flights
  • 40 push ups
  • 100 sit ups

That took an hour or so and afterwards I made up a quickie breakfast.

2% Greek yogurt With Vanilla Sugar And Fig Jam

Pumpkin Oatmeal With Mighty Maple And Chocolate Chips

Yesterday eating my oatmeal-yogurt combo I had a bit of an epiphany: I have so many great jams that I don’t eat often enough. Jam is kind of my go-to foodie souvenir because it always has such a local touch and I really should be trying to incorporate these more into my eating. Besides that, I was craving Trader Joe’s chocolate chips. Not chocolate chips in general. Just Trader Joe’s. They’re that good. We had a few last-minute buys for food(such as fresh seafood) and since my mom and I were anxious my dad might not do perfectly going to the store with the list, I came along. I really only had one thing I needed.

Mint Extract

I actually was hoping for peppermint extract but they were out of that; I think this was a better buy in the end because the flavor is more timeless. I needed it for the brownies I’m making for tomorrow. In the rush of the kitchen I whipped together a lunch.

Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Pepper & Asiago Sausage, Stuffing Stuffed Pepper

I think these sausages have grown on me because I liked this one much more than the last. The pepper though was my favorite; it was leftover Whole Foods stuffing from Thanksgiving(don’t worry. It’s been in the freezer). Whole Foods makes the best stuffing ever. I wish I knew their magic secret. I’ll need to stock up at the end of the holiday season and freeze A TON to make it through the year. Right after Days’ Christmas Eve episode, I got to baking the brownies. I decided to adapt this Whole Foods recipe to make gluten free chocolate mint brownies.

NuNaturals Erythritol

The first(of many) changes that I made was to swap out the sugar for NuNaturals‘ erythritol. I’ve never worked with erythritol before but I’ve seen it in products like Vitatops and Zevia. And of course we’ve all eaten it since it is found in fruits like apples and pears and vegetables like mushrooms. Because it’s not quite as sweet, I increased the amount a bit. I also had to mash the black beans instead of puree in a food processor because I don’t have one, although the way my mom was making fun of me makes me think there’s one under the tree.

Gluten Free Chocolate Mint Brownies

I also reduced the chocolate chips to 5 tablespoons since that seemed reasonable, swapped out half the butter for greek yogurt, and of course used mint extract in place of vanilla. I’m a little anxious to see how they come out, but from the batter I licked they were really good! I’m really excited that Trader Joe’s chocolate chips are gluten free so the whole dish then is. I’ll post the recipe after Christmas if they came out good(which I’m really hoping they do because how amazing would these be over some vanilla greek yogurt?

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