Friday, February 25, 2011

Brownie Covered Girl Scout Cookies

Without meaning to, I've developed a theme (read: last 2 posts) of helping you put to work those seasonal treaties that may be sitting around staring you in the face. Not that you should be giving those smiley faces on the Girl Scout boxes the stink eye, but if you're a kind soul and buy some from everyone and have 12 boxes on your countertop, you might want the next creative way to ingest them.

I pretty much find myself making sweet treats only for a special occasions, mainly because I enjoy sharing them with other people and have a reason to go all the heck out. Last night was the perfect time to get elbow-deep in chocolate, since today was a nice overlap of the last day at my current job (!!) and the boy heading off on a church retreat. I knew I wanted to make brownies for my (ex) co-workers and his retreat friends, because I had developed a deeply set urge for those cakey, fudgy choclatey bites, but I had an issue with just making brownies. After some research - behold, the Brookie (a darker, fatty version of my favorite Brookie):

With these 2 excuses, I ended up with 3 TYPES OF BROWNIES COVERED COOKIES. Yeah, and 4 in my piehole, for quality assurance, naturally.

courtesy of IKEA - my favorite cookie concoction 

not a huge fan coconut, yet these were my 2nd fave

classics, but not enough substance for me

These are incredibly easy to whip up, and fun, too. Your fingers get messy and you get powdered sugar eyelashes and you don't even curr that it's Thursday and you miss more than just the commercial breaks of your favorite sitcoms. Which BTW, how terrible is The Office these days compared to its glory days in the early years? It gets a few laughs from me, but not nearly as many as before. Which I guess is alright when you're too busy dipping cookies in brownie batter!

I first got this idea when I saw these stud muffins, coincidentally after I noticed we had an abundance of cookies on the homestead. Allow me to briefly explain my reasons for the ratings:

3. Thin Mints - I know, they're on the top of everyone's list, but they just weren't as substantial as the other two. I'm a food player, so it's important to be able to twist and peel apart layers, or at least get different elements in the brownie cookie. This one simply had a minty flava, which is dang good, but not....wild. Ya know.

2. Samoas - Getting closer to the fun factor. I like the coconut crunchy bits and the fact that they had a hollow center allowed the brownie to cook through the middle - bomb.

1. Singollas - Vanilla sandwich cookies with raspberry jam in the middle?! These things are begging to be covered in brownie. The jam melts, the cream-filled center melts and I melt. There are so many layers to this thing, I could hardly take consecutive bites without wanting to snap another shot of how beautiful they all were.
double time

Glorious. Alright, here's how ya do:

Brownie Stuffed Cookies
inspired by Picky Palate
makes around 30 brookies, depending on size

prepared brownie mix (I used whatever was on sale at Freddie's)
any type of cookie you like (may I please suggest a stuffed something or other?)
powdered sugar (optional, but it's pretty)

It's This Simple:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees; grease a muffin tin.

2. Mix up your brownie mix according to the package directions.

3. Toss some cookies (the only time I'll probably ever advise you to do so) in the brownie mix; coat em all up with batter.

4. Using your freshly cleansed fingers (cause you're wild like that), take them one-by-one out of the batter after ensuring it's thoroughly coated, and place individually in the muffin tin cups.

5. Bake for about 12 minutes, depending on cookie size - mine varied so much because the raspberry Singoalla's were quite heftier than the Thin Mints.

6. When they're done, let the Brookie's cool for a hot minute before running a knife around the edges, so they don't fall apart; place on a cooling rack.

7. When the Brookie's are cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

* As seen in the Singoallas picture above, you can get extraordinarily wild and double 'em up in cups:

It makes for a big ass Brookie, but you can handle at least 1 if I inhaled 3.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Harvey's Glazed Chocolate Banana Bread

Hey all you PNW folk. I got something for you.

Oh, you've seen this before?

Maybe in the refrigerator/recycling bin of every other house you visit during the holidays? Maybe in the silent auction baskets at church? Maybe you've found yourself surrounded by loud, pink-cheeked loved ones who deem it a better time than ever to declare their unending love for you, followed by a nice bear hug? Well, that's the Harv's, spreading cheer.

I bought a tub for a nice little soiree we were having, along with some amazingly cheap rum made by the Captain himself. However, the night went on and really - who wants to drink something hot when the house itself feels like the Caribbean? Yeah, turns out no one. My friends are sane.

So the happy yellow tub got pushed to the back of the fridge until I unearthed it while digging around for that darn chocolate buttercream I had saved somewhere...and decided to put Harv's to use instead. And then I found pickles to make a sandwich. Then I saw my toes and decided to paint them. Then 4 hours of distractions later and hey, let's make some "quick" bread.

The title may not seem all too breadlike, given that it contains both "glazed" and "chocolate," but there actually is very minimal sugar and the chocolate comes only from cocoa powder. I do have to admit that it was not my self control to refrain from adding chocolate chips, but the boy's. He's got will power for daaaaays.

I baked this in an 8x8 glass baking dish instead of a load pan - either would work, so do whatever floats your fancy. Just do it.

Harvey's Glazed Chocolate Banana Bread
mildly adapted from Gluten-Free Girl

1 cup of your favorite gluten-free flour mix (I used Pamela's)
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup teff flour
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
8 oz. plain yogurt
1 egg
1/4 cup applesauce
6 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ripe, mashed bananas
a little extra mixture of cinnamon and sugar (optional)

How You Do:

1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease your baking dish.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, cocoa powder and cinnamon.

3. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk egg completely; add in applesauce, butter and vanilla extract.

4. Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and add in your wet stuff; stir together with a spatula.

5. Fold in banana and mix until all is incorporated.

6. Scrape your dough into the greased baking dish; smooth and sprinkle on some cinnamon and sugar mixture.

7. Bake for about 40 minutes - test it out with a knife in the middle.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

White Bean and Artichoke Dip

Hello there, Undippy

Dips are the best. You can dip morsels in them, eat them by the spoonful, spread them on sandwiches, they'll even let you dip your fingers in them in case you happen to be out of edible tidbits. Making your own is also way more cost-effective than buying it at the store, plus you're not paying for the weird ingredients that some companies like to sneak in. Dips are pretty bomb.

When I have a strong liking for something/one, I tend to add a "y" to their name in order to demonstrate my affection for that thing/person. (However, sometimes this doesn't tend to roll off the tongue as smoothly as I would have hoped, which is why my turquoise dangly earrings are stilll...well, you know.) So naturally, after my taste buds had a party in my mouth upon trying this dip, I wanted to call it "Dippy."

One problem - Urban Dictionary. I have a tendency to get annoyingly clingy with it, meaning I like to browse through about 5 times a day to find words I might want to add to my daily vocabulary. Or take out, whichever.

According to The Dictionary: "Dippy: Silly, foolish." And that was as tame as it gets, aside from one definition that included talk of eggs, which was just strange. 

So, DIP it is. Enjoy!

White Bean & Artichoke Dip
Adapted from Farmgirl Fare
Makes 2 cups

*This dip is fairly thick, which is how I like it for dipping purposes. However, if you like yours more fluid, reserve some of the artichoke liquid to gradually add in at the end.

1` 15oz. can white beans - drained
1 can quartered artichoke hearts - liquid reserved in case you want to add it at the end
1 sprig chopped, fresh rosemary1 tablespoon crushed garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

How To:

1. In a food processor, combine beans, artichoke, rosemary, garlic and lemon juice; process until smooth.

2. Add in olive oil until incorporated; take a look at the consistency and see if you want to add in any of the reserved artichoke liquid.

3. Once you have your style of consistency, add in salt and pepper and eat as suggested above, or go even more wild with it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Goat Cheese Stuffed Fig Muffins

This week I had a dentist appointment. I left that appointment with clean, sparkly whites only to dig in on my brother's last birthday cupcake at my parent's house. SIN and SIN. But what else would I do with the 5 minutes of free time before I caught the next ferry? Certaintly not eat a cupcake. With a surprise chocolate hidden inside. Yessir, I'll have another.

Anyway, what I'm getting at is these muffins are nowhere close to cupcakes. Yes, they are decadent in a cheesy fashion, but not in a "ow, sharp sugar pain in the tooth" way. I found these bad boys over here at Jessica's sweet site, and made a few adjustments.

For one I didn't use the oil, which made them more bread-like and fluffy than dense and oily - luuuhve it. I also bumped up the cinnamon and added in a little nutmeg for some extra flavor.
These are best enjoyed fresh and hot from the oven, when the cheese filling is all smooshy and gooey everywhere, and if there are any leftover later microwave 'em. You'll thank yourself.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Fig Muffins
Makes 12 large, 18 small
adapted from Jessica @ How Sweet It Is

3/4 cup goat cheese
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice mixed with 1 cup soy milk (=buttermilk)
1 1/4 cups chopped dried figs

How To:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees; line muffin tin with wrappers or grease it up.

2. In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, honey and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla until combined; set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs; add in brown sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract; combine thoroughly.

5. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add in the wet; stir until barely incorporated.

6. Fold in figs.

7. Fill each muffin tin about half way; dallop a tablespoon of the goat cheese mixture on top and cover barely with about a tablespoon more of batter.

8. Bake for about 10 minutes or until set and golden on top.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Easy Love

We're pretty laid back over here, which is why on the night of February 14, I looked at the Mr. said something along the lines of "Oh, you're hungry? Hm, maybe we should eat dinner. As in, something more than the salad I had planned."

Typically, Monday nights the Mr. and I sort of go our separate routes. He has things to do and family to see, while I'll go to the gym or get home at my normal time and do something really productive (like catching up on the Modern Family I missed last week.) SPEAKING OF, did anyone else notice that Claire Dunphy is also Happy Gilmore's love interest? I could hardly believe it, but her voice is a dead giveaway. If anyone else says you knew that, then you get to hang out with my boyfriend and discuss how absurd it is that no on could recognize her upon first glance. C'mon, she looks like a completely different person.

Oh right, so I didn't make extravagant Valentine's Day Dinner plans because

A. My lucky butt was dined at Sawatdy on Sunday night, which is only the best Thai food around these here parts, and that was our Valentine's Day celebration meal.

B. Mondays make me tired and want to take a 10 hour nap, beginning promptly at 8 pm.

C. Like I mentioned, the Mr. has VIP's to visit, and usually fills up at his parents.

However, the weather had different plans and knocked out a bunch of power so long story short - we both arrive home ravished.

So I made this. It's a poopy picture, but the food was actually pretty tasty for almost zero planning. The recipe is quick and easy, but doesn't lack in flavor. If you're wary of using wine, I will tell you that it cooks out and lends some awesome flavor. Even if yours is a $3 BGO buy like mine. As you can see, I threw in some lettuce as an afterthought since we had a bundle rotting away in the fridge, which I ended up mixing in with the saucy pasta as an afterthought when I realized all my salad toppings were turned into pasta toppings. Long sentence alert. 

Saucy Mediterranean Pasta
Sauce makes about 2 cups

2 cups gluten-free pasta
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 pack drained tofu cut into 1" cubes
 1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 thinly sliced white onion
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
1/2 can okra (impulse buy at Freddies)
1/2 cup burgundy olives, sliced with 1/4 cup juice
5 stalks asparagus, sliced into 1" pieces
1 tablespoon capers
 1/2 cup white wine
salt and pepper

Game plan:

1. Set your noodles to cook. If you're using gluten-free noodles, I get the water boiling first, put the pasta in for only about 3 minutes, turn the water off, let the noodles sit while I cook the rest, and check them every so often to make sure they're not mushy.

2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; add tofu, garlic, onion, oregano and crushed red pepper flakes; saute until the onion is soft and garlic is turning brown.

3. Add in tomatoes with all the juice, okra with juice, sliced olives with juice, asparagus, capers and wine; stir and simmer for 20 minutes until the liquid has evaporated to your "sauciness" level; sprinkle on some S&P - I went easy on the salt given that the olive and okra juices are pretty salty.

4. Dish up and serve hot with some mozzarella cheese.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valenutella's Day Molten Explosion (in-your-oven) Cake

Part One: Valenutella's Day

Nutella is a product barely short of an obsession for my loved one. I have found him standing in the kitchen, swirling his finger inside the awkwardly-shaped jar, trying to get as much of the chocolately spread as possible in one swivel. Which is why I felt like a deadbeat girlfriend when not only was I the one to break the news that there even is such a thing as National Nutella Day, but I didn't do a damn thing about it! And it was a Saturday! When all I had to do was plod around in my fleece socks and pretend like I had more important things going on than gorging on chocolate!

Well, I spied this recipe yesterday morning, and decided that since I watched National Nutella Day fly by on February 5th without so much as a lick of the stuff, I was going to get down to business 5 days later. But of course I can't make a decision without analyzing it from 348 different angles, so I thought about Valentine'a Day being a mere 5 days away, and began questioning the timeline for this (not-extravagant-at-all) baking extravaganza.

Ahem, LIGHTBULB: Make the flippin' Nutella cake smack dab in between it's own holiday and Valentine's Day, and we'll be celebrating Valenutella Day. Hard to argue with logical efficiency.

Part 2: Molten Cake

So here I go, 10 hours of cake planning under my belt. I had gone to the gym after work, putting me home at around 8, tired and sweaty. Good conditions for undertaking such a task. But, I had completed my first tempo workout for my half marathon training and logged in about 7 miles for the night, so I was jiving for some butter and sugar.

I'll post the recipe at the end, but this thing was so EASY to put together. You have your dry ingredients, throw in your wets, cover endlessly with sugar and chocolate and then pour on some water.

This cake is definitely a lava-esque type: gooey in the middle, with brownie quality all along the outer edges. I am a failure, and didn't pick up ice cream on the way home from work, but this cake belongs on top of some Haagen Daz. I mean, it has built-in warm chocolate sauce for crying out loud. Amazing the products that come out of a little chemistry/oven teamwork.

Part 3: Explosion-In-Your-Oven

(I want to put a picture here, but my camera won't take a quality one of the inside of my oven. Think: black. Charcoal black.)

I'm here to be real with you guys. Playing around in the kitchen mostly leads to phenomenal dishes (duh), and sometimes leads to messy situations.

First off, I'm an idiot. Second off, this is an easy fix and I really wasn't upset (especially since that cake still held up as

The recipe calls for an 8 inch baking dish. Well, I had everything BUT. So I used a pie dish. Bad idea.

My first clue should have been in the last step, when I poured 1 cup of hot water over the cake - the dish was almost full.

Looking back, why did I continue adding in the last 1/2 cup of hot water? Was it because baking is science and anything that strays from a cake recipe is destined to turn out tasting like chalk? Was it because I was too busy daydreaming of my next 3 meals to think about my next disaster? Was it because I secretly knew I wanted to scrub out my oven on a Friday night?

I don't know, but I do know that about 25 minutes into the baking time the smoke alarm went off, sending me into the kitchen where a cloud of smoke was waiting for me. Opened the oven door, and there is cake molton spewing everywhere - all over the sides of the pie plates, down through both racks, onto the oven floor...pretty explosively awesome.

When this happens, there's only 2 things to do:

1. Remove cake from oven.

2. Eat said cake in bed while you settle down for a nice Thursday night rendezvous with NBC.

Oh, and turn off the oven. Now go eat your cake.

Valenutella's Day Molten Explosion (in-your-oven) Cake
Barely adapted from Alice

*After making this, I realized my substitutions created this vegan, without even meaning to. Make whatever substitutions you want, but I can vouch for this one and say it's almost gone 24 hours later. In a house of 2 people. Excuse me while I go complete my Core Fusion.

3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (2 if your not using Pamela's GF flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cocoa powder, divided
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup Nutella
6 tablespoons melted Earth Balance (or butter)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 cup hot water

How To's

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, 3 tablespoons of the cocoa powder and 1/2 cup sugar together.

3. Stir in milk, Nutella, butter and vanilla extract. Since we are nearing the end of our Nutella jar when the spread gets a little thicker, I had to mircrowave it with the butter for about 30 seconds, stirring every 10 seconds.

4. Spread the mixture into your 8 inch backing dish. This is important folks. I think you understand.

5. In a separate mixing bowl, stir together 1/2 cup white sugar, 3 tablespoons cocoa powder and brown sugar; sprinkle evenly over the brownie mixture in dish.

6. Pour the hot water over the whole thing (no stirring) and put in oven for 40-45 minutes. Or until your fire detectors go off and you get to eat it a little more soupy than normal. Hallelujah for egg-free recipes!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Caramelizing Onions

Are you cooking for one?

Yes? Good.

Oh, no? You're feeding your better half, toddler, grandma and your momma tambien?

Well then you had better hope they want sweet, juicy onions on everything they eat the next few days, because that is exactly what YOU will be doing.

Last week, carmelized onions fit into my personal "gourmet food" category, the type of food I would spy on a menu and immediately order because a. I dream of onions, b. there's no way I could ever caramelize my own onions and c. I don't like fresh breath.

Then I stole the most recent Taste of Home magazine from my mom and saw an article on how to (yea, you guessed it) caramelize onions.

With 2 ingredients, I'll let my pinky toe do all the work - it's that simple.

You can use any white or sweet onion for these, but the Taste of Home article reccommended just regular yellow onions, which I went with. But guarenteed, I will be testing out the others soon!

I used them to put on pizza, and then I used the little leftovers I had to put in a salad - totally jazzed the greens up to full flavor.

Caramelized Onions
I would use one onion for every person eating, although leftovers can come in handy for some extra flavor to...well, anything.

Yellow Onion
olive oil

1. Lob the top and bottom of your onion off; cut in half; peel.

2. Slive the 2 onion halves in narrow, crescent slivers.

3. Throw the onions in a frying pan with a little olive oil over medium heat; as it all heats, stir the onions around so they're all evenly coated with oil.

4. Keep on medium-low heat for the next 20 or so minutes, until they're all brown and gloriously coated in their own juices; at this point you could also season with salt or some sugar to accentuate their natural sweetmess.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Saucy Vegan Spring Rolls

My stomach is rebelling. I don't think my body is into the whole gorge-on-as-much-dairy-as-your-grubby-fingers-can-get plan as much as my eyes are. It's a sort of civil war, but this one has an easy solution that can be fixed up if you have a little time. And your running shoes, there's a lot of that pot-chasing that I mentioned these require none of.

A few words about these buggers:

You will need rice wrappers, which I found in the Asian section of Fred Meyer. Have I confessed to you my love for Freddies? I don't think so, and I definitely don't have enough time for that now.

Go WILD, toss in whatever veggies you want, just remember to plan accordingly and know that harder veggies like potatoes will take longer than the cabbage to cook.

They taste GOOD. Like, I inhaled mine. And then the boy's. And then I had to get my tucas up and make more because hungry boyfriends < full boyfriends.

Vegan Spring Rolls
Makes 8-10 rolls

1 cup broccoli florets (mine came straight from the freezer)
2 tablespoons garlic
1/2 package diced tofu
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
1/2 cup garbanzo beans
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
10 sticks asparagus
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 package of rice wrappers
cilantro if you wish (I wished)

Here we go:

1. I like my tofu on the crispy side, so I begin by heating the tofu, garlic and broccoli up over medium heat with the vegetable oil; saute for about 5 minutes until the tofu is a little brown and before the garlic burns.

2. Add the sliced cabbage, garbanzo beans and white wine; bring to a boil for a minute, then turn the heat back down to a simmer and cover; stir about every 5 minutes.

3. In the meantime, place your asparagus spears in a steamer basket (I had to tear mine in half to fit) and place over a pot that is half full of water; bring the pot to a boil and steam the asparagus.

5. While your asparagus and cabbage are going (this is when you begin to sweat a little and realize you should up your jogging mileage. At least, that was my situation), mix together the soy sauce, Hoisin sauce, ground ginger, brown sugar and lime juice until combined.

6. When your cabbage mix is all nice and soft, turn off the burner; plop the peanut butter on and pour in the Hoisin sauce mixture; stir the whole pan up so it's all lovingly incorporated.

7. Turn your faucet on to a small drizzle of cold water, and run one rice wrapper underneath the water flow, turning it around so the water hits the entire wrapper evenly. You'll want the wrapper to be soft and pliable, but not disintegrating in your hands - mine took about 15 seconds.

8. Lay the wrapper on a flat surface and fill with rice, an asparagus spear, the saucy cabbage mixture and cilantro; roll the wrapper around its insides, making sure to tuck the ends in as you go.

9. I double-wrapped the majority of these because I'm a terrible wrapper roller and guts were falling out everywhere. Do what needs to be done!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Vegan Spicy Pear Bread


The recipe I'm posting right now has absolutely zero Nutella in it!

(Dumb. Bad planning.)

BUT, it is completely possible to spread some chocolately-hazelnutty schmear on this bread, especially when it's still warm from the oven.

Those pear chunks? Bountiful. And beautiful. Both on the eyes and on the taste buds.

Make this bread one morning, and good things will happen. Your windshield will scrape itself, your bills will be paid by your neighbor, and your hair won't have any static electricity.

(If any of that stuff does not occur, don't blame the bread. Blame the playa.)

Vegan Spicy Pear Bread
 Makes one 9x5 loaf

*Wild: If you decide to go vegan with me on this, I used the baking powder/oil/water substitute, which is 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon oil and 2 teaspoons baking powder. If not, use an egg!

1 Egg substitute
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 (about 1 large) peeled and chopped pear
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup gluten-free flour blend (I used Pamela's, of course)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease baking dish.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg substitute, vegetable oil, applesauce and sugar.

3. Fold in the pear and vanilla.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and spice.

5. Gradually add in the dry flour mixture to the wet mixture; fold all together just barely to incorporate all the ingredients.

6. Using a spatula, scoop the mixture into your baking dish and slide into the oven.

7. This takes about 55 minutes to cook, but I noticed it was starting to brown at 40 minutes so I covered it with tinfoil the last 15.

8. (optional) (not optional) Schmear some of the Nutella on a slice and go MMMMMMM.

9. Repeat step 8.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

and some chips for kicks

If there's one vegetable that never had enough appeal for me to try, it was kale. It reminded me of seaweed's naggy stepmother, and who wants to deal with that?

But then I discovered I actually liked seaweed, which, according to philosophy 102, therefore meant that I should like kale. But then I looked up both seaweed and kale, and WHAT?! They're not even related. Off the hook. Chain. Whatever.

Then I told myself to take my thumb out of mouth and just freaking try kale. So I did, and maybe I had some help.

A Full Circle Farmer plucked that kale for me, gently put it my bi-weekly order, and sent it off my way. "Kale swing my waaay, surrre look gooood to meee." I'm so thankful I can suppress my food frights until someone else force feeds them to me. It's as if they know I'm not a food waster, and would rather kiss Jack Nicholson square on the lips (gag) before I throw away veggies.

After making these, I'm excited to try them raw in salad form. Kale is slightly sweet with a rougher texture that I could imagine would nicely accompany other types of greens.

So I made those. The green things, named Kale Chips. And I have zero regrets, namely because:

1. They are light and crisp and you feel like your eating salty air, but they are packed full of nutrients and not air so you don't have to worry about how much Gas-X you have left.


3. They taste great dipped in that Caesar dressing or by themselves.

Kale Chips
(double the recipe if you want some leftovers, because one bunch was gone between 2 people in our house.)

-1 large bunch of kale
-3 tablespoons olive oil
-as much salt as you would like

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; line a baking sheet with tinfoil if you're neat like that.

2. Wash and blot your kale dry; tear off the leaves from the hard stalk in the middle; discard the stalks and tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces, placing them in a large bowl.

3. Pour the olive oil over the kale leaves in the bowl, and massage the oil in with your hands; make sure you coat all the leaves so they'll crisp up.

4. Dash on the salt.

5. Scatter the leaves onto the baking sheet in a single sheet; if they're are piled on they will steam and get soft and that's not what we're going for.

6. These guys takes about 10 minutes to cook, but keep on eye on them. I flipped mine over at 5 minutes, which may not be necessary.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


FACT: My intake of mozzarella cheese and creamy coffee the past 2 days should be illegal.

FACT: Justifying glutenous cheese feedings by reminding yourself it had been a month since you've tasted the stuff, is actually OK. For 2 days.

FACT: I can feel my abs getting softer.

FACT: After this arrives, I will be in a melty, my-muscles-are-mush, puddle on the floor. I'm both thanking and blaming Rachel for my sudden motivation to obtain such a meltdown.

FACT: I need to go eat a carrot stick. Which will be rounded out with an orange M&M.

FACT: Sometimes a girl just needs a margarita the size of her head, and all clarity will be restored.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Vegan Caesar Salad with Roasted Golden Beets

"Ooo we ooo, killer tofuuu!" 

(Get it? Get it. Dig way back to 1991.)

The dinner plate family is back! Let me tell you, this girl is stoked to share this with you. There is something incredibly satisfying about creating something in the kitchen that zings off the taste buds. One of those dishes that makes you want to keep eating far beyond when you probably should, for stomach's sake. Whether you used a recipe stemming from your own ingenuity, or someone else's brilliant thoughts, it really makes no difference - the food is bomb.

This caesar (the word and I have fought since day 1. Ceasar? seezer? Capitalize? All hail the romaine) salad dressing comes largely from The Post Punk Kitchen, a network ran by a spunky vegan. Her cookbook has been a staple in my kitchen not only during Vegan-O-Con, but year round. Her recipes are cohesive and don't require expensive and out-there ingredients. 

Another hot point for the dressing: it came out on the thicker side (think bleu cheese) which I wasn't expecting, but then I doubled it as a veggie dip and then tripled it for another surprise I'll be posting. Needless to say, the lazy girl in me is thrilled with all this efficiency!

*The two ingredients I bypassed were the capers and caper juice, out of my displeasure of running out to the store at the ungodly hour of 7:30pm.

Vegan Caesar Salad with Roasted Golden Beets
Makes 2 entree salads and about 4 side salads

Caesar Dressing
1/3 cup slivered or sliced almonds
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3/4 cup silken tofu
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 heaping tablespoon capers
4tablespoons caper brine
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder (I used spicy brown, to try and make up for the lack of caper-kick)

1. Blend garlic, tofu and oil in food processor until creamy.

2. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until all is blended.

3. Put in the container you want to serve the dressing in; add almonds and shake/whisk it all together.

4. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.

Roasted Beets

This is a toughy, so pay close attention:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Peel beets.

3. Wraps beets in tinfoil.

4. Place beets in oven for about 30 minutes, or until tender - they will be hawwwt coming out of the oven, so be careful unwrapping the tinfoil and make sure to let them cool a few before you try and slice em.

5. Slice the beets up, and either place them upon your salad greens or next to, then ladle on that dressing.