Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Our version of an all-American 4th of July.

While thinking of tradition 4th of July fare people mostly thing of hamburgers and hotdogs. Speaking of hot dog did anybody else watch any of the Nathan's Famous hot dog eating challenge? Watching them dunk the hot dogs and buns into water and shoving the soggy mess down their throats is just beyond gross!! I can't believe that anyone can eat 60+ hot dogs in such a short span. I seriously doubt I have had half that many hot dogs in my entire life and thank goodness for that! Those things are soso bad for you. Even my hot dog loving husband has pretty much quit eating them(except for maybe a couple time a year...everything in moderation!) after he learned how horrible they are for you in Med school.

I digress....

So, last night to celebrate the independence of our great country we made burgers. Salamon burgers that is :) We used Mark Bittman's recipe from the NY Times and it was great. Once I saw it had mustard & capers in the mix I knew it was right up our alley! Yum! We don't have an outdoor grill yet, so I did them inside on our Cuisinart griller thingy.

We thawed out some frozen wild Alaskan salmon for the burgers and it worked great. I just cut the skin off and into the food processor it went. I also added one egg into the mix to insure they stayed together on the grill. They needed to stay on our baby grill longer than the recipe called for, but they turned out great! We served with a combination of two types of Alexia sweet potato fries that we needed to use up from the freezer and Annies's mustard for dipping.

We also enjoyed a bottle of Red Truck Cabernet Sauvignon and it was very fruity and great for an inexpensive bottle of wine. It didn't pack quite as much of a punch as most cabs, but for this meal that was actually perfect as it didn't overwhelm the salmon. It was almost more like a pinot noir, I would certainly buy again.

For dessert there was home chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches that had been made previously and frozen, they held up beautifully in the freezer to pull out for an easy sweet fix. We actually ended up deciding to skip fire works because we didn't feel like fighting the crowds or really even leaving the house. It was Mark's last day before his surgery rotation and he just wanted to relax, enjoy the wine and not drive anywhere. We ended up watching True Grit and taking the dog for a walk, thats all American right?

So maybe our holiday wasn't so traditional, but it was relaxing and I got some studying for the bar in. Speaking of the bar, it is three weeks from today (insert panic) so I won't be posting until after that is over. However, after that its back to fun experiments in the kitchen, more exciting days and more blogging! Wish me luck!!!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I saw this quote today and loved it...

“Here’s to the corkscrew – A useful key to unlock
the storehouse of wit, the treasure of laughter,
the front door of fellowship and the gate to a
pleasant wine journey”
(Sir Winston Churchill)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Haiku dedicated to almond butter

Stolen from the web:

Haiku is a poetic form and a type of poetry from the Japanese culture. Haiku combines form, content, and language in a meaningful, yet compact form. Haiku poets, which you will soon be, write about everyday things. Many themes include nature, feelings, or experiences. Usually they use simple words and grammar. The most common form for Haiku is three short lines. The first line usually contains five (5) syllables, the second line seven (7) syllables, and the third line contains five (5) syllables. Haiku doesn't rhyme. A Haiku must "paint" a mental image in the reader's mind. This is the challenge of Haiku - to put the poem's meaning and imagery in the reader's mind in ONLY 17 syllables over just three (3) lines of poetry!

I remember having to write haikus in elementary school and thinking how dumb they were. Seriously the most boring "poetry" ever! However, I can't claim to be much of a poet myself, so I will happily take the cop-out in order to express my adoration of almond butter. Oh man this stuff is way too good. Too good like eat a jar of it in two days kinda good. I don't think I would have made it through finals without almond butter spread on apple and frozen banana slices! My two favorite kinds are Earth Balance's creamy agave sweetened almond butter and Justin's chocolate almond butter!

This stuff may be the best nut butter I have had in my entire life, and that is not something I would casually throw out there. Its even better than the Peanut Butter & Co's Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter, which I can't believe is possible!

So here's to you almond butter, a small token of my love and appreciation, a haiku.

Almond Butter is so tasty
Spread on toast, apples, or frozen bananas
Or eaten with a spoon

Did you all get the mental image? Oh good.

Allllllll gone :( Justin's Nut Butter Natural Chocolate Almond Butter, 16 Ounce Jars (Pack of 3)

And if you are not in the mood for chocolate, I love love love this almond butter. The Consistency is great and I really like that it has flax in it and that they use agave as the sweetener.
Earth Balance Almond Butter, Creamy, 16-Ounce (Pack of 12)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Don't give up!

Don't give up on me! A new post is coming this weekend. I feel as if time has been in fast forward since Easter weekend! There was the last week of class. Ever. Then there was two weeks of finals. Then there was law school graduation and the celebrating that accompanies it. Then there was a new job started on Monday. Whew!

I am quickly learning how hard it is to fit in work, exercise, cooking, and spending time with family and friends into 24 hours. Oh and studying for the bar? Yep, its a little necessary to find time for that as well. Looks like the blog post are going to be limited to weekends and (very) quick weekday posts. Gotta make time for doing things you enjoy right?! Too much law and I will go crazy! I see lots of baking in my future in order to de-stress. Plus, with Mark studying so hard for boards he deserves some sweet treats!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Whole Grain Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake

I made the most perfect Spring dessert to take with us to Mark's parent's house for Easter. Lemon Blueberry cake with a lemon cream cheese glaze. This cake was whole grain, no dairy, no butter, no eggs, but you never would have known. Everyone really enjoyed it and even Mark's 80 year old Grandmother who is famous for her desserts headed back for seconds!

Based on the Lemon Bundt Cake recipe from Have your Cake and Vegan too by Kris Holechek of NomNomNomblog fame. This book is wonderful... check it out! 

1&1/2 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1&1/4 cup oat flour
1 cup organic granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 almond or other milk
2 large organic lemons (important to get organic because you will be using the zest)
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup fresh or frozen organic blueberries (I used frozen, do not thaw. Take out of freezer right before you are going to use them to prevent them from bleeding into the rest of your batter.) 

-Preheat oven to 350. Grease your bundt pan. 
-In a medium bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, combine the milk, lemon zest and juice (you should get about 1/3 cup lemon juice) and let them sit a few minutes. 
-Add the oil and vanilla, mix to combine. 
-Add half of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, gently incorporating, and then repeat with the rest of the dry being stirred into the wet. 
 -Gently fold the berries in.  
-Bake for 50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes. 
-While cake is cooling make your cream cheese glaze. 
-Run a knife around the outside of the pan and invert the cake. I do this by putting a dinner plate over the top of the bundt pan and flipping it over. 
-Drizzle the glaze over the cake. 

Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze

4 oz. of cream cheese, I used tofutti.
1/2 coconut oil
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2-4 tablespoons almond or other milk

Combine cream cheese, vanilla, lemon juice and coconut oil with a hand mixer. Add powdered sugar slowly. Add 2-4 tablespoons of almond milk to thin it out to drizzlezble consistency. Pour into bottom of a pastry bag (or if you are ghetto like me a plastic sandwich bag with one end cut off) and glaze your cake.

I got the cutest metal cake tester at the Le Creuset outlet in Colorado. No more searching for toothpicks or having to use a knife to test whether my baked goods are done in the middle! 

Gotta love the color of this pan, my favorite!! 

Whipping together the cream cheese glaze.

Ready to be flipped!

A delicious cake fit for Easter lunch or any Springtime celebration is ready to be served! 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!!!

The Easter bunny knows me so well!! Look at what that sweet lil' rabbit (a.k.a. my awesome MIL) left in my basket this morning..

Red wine, organic green tea, Reese's peanut butter egg, Jelly Bellys and roasted almond butter!! I love still getting an Easter basket. Mark and I guess that we will probably continue to get them until someday we are the ones making the Easter baskets for our own children. That will be fun too though :) 

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter despite all the bad weather we had in this area of the world. I know the rain had been much prayed for however, so thank you Lord! 

I'll leave this short post with a few Easter quotes and a verse that I think is pretty great:

The resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances.  ~Robert Flatt

Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time.  ~Martin Luthe

Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won't stay there.  ~Clarence W. Hall

"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die."
-- John 11:25-26

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Healthy Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies and Lazy Samoas

I am married to a man who loves cookies. While I could usually take it or leave it when it comes to dessert, Mark always needs to have something sweet after a meal. What's a health nut, who happens to LOVE to bake, to do about this situation? Create delicious cookies that will satisfy any sweet tooth without compromising good health!

Last weekend I made a batch of "Lazy Samoas" from the fabulous cookbook Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. Samoas are Mark's favorite girl scout cookie and he really liked this version of them. I'm not a huge coconut person but Mark and his family love it so I can see making this again in the future for some sort of holiday gathering. The cookies are called lazy because they skip the step of making a shortbread cookie with coconut topping and just make the cookie itself with shredded coconut mixed in and then you dip the bottom of the cookies in chocolate and drizzle the tops as well.

This cookbook is just too great, there are so many recipes I can't wait to try out, such as :Blueberry Spice Crumb Bars, "Sell Your Soul" Pumpkin Cookies, Cherry Almond Cookies, Peanut Apple Pretzel Drops(!!!), Spiced Sweet Potato Blondies....I could go on and on. I would challenge anyone who is doubtful about how good baked goods can be without dairy or eggs to try one of these recipes. Your mouth and heart will thank you :)

Here is the most important part of this post: Peanut Butter + Blackberry Jam= seriously delicious cookie. Yes, I love peanut butter more than pretty much any food. Its a little embarrassing. I mean, come on, I consider myself to be a foodie. Grocery shopping is one of my favorite activities, I love researching new restaurants to try out, I read cookbooks like they are novels and my ideal job would be to write for Food and Wine Magazine or some sort of travel/food publication. Yet, I adore the same food eaten by picky five year olds across America. Le sigh.

In my defense my enthusiasm for nut butters does not end with the mere peanut, oh no. In my pantry right now sits a gastronomical variety of jars including chocolate hazelnut, maple almond butter, vanilla flax almond butter, smooth almond butter, crunchy almond butter, as well as agave peanut butter, dark chocolate peanut butter, cinnamon raisin peanut butter and natural crunchy peanut butter. This may seem excessive but you never know what mood will strike you and you must be prepared. Granny smith apple with almond butter? Frozen banana slices with chocolate hazelnut? Oatmeal with cinnamon raisin peanut butter? These are everyday eats for me. Sometimes all three of these variations in a day.

I justify this by telling myself that its the healthy kind of fat and since I'm mostly vegetarian, I need the protein. Really though, I don't need to justify it. I love it and I would usually rather eat peanut butter out of the jar than another kind of dessert. Hey, makes my birthday easy! Next year mark can just stick a candle in a jar of Peanut Butter and Co's Dark Chocolate Dreams and I'll be a happy girl!

However, my ambivalence about dessert ends when the dessert includes that magic ingredient. Last night I wanted to make cookies and I wanted them to be peanut butter and I wanted them married to their classic companion, jelly. Thus, PB & J Thumbprints were born. The peanut butter cookie itself is loosely adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar's recipe for agave peanut butter cookies, I just changed up some of the ingredients and changed the cookie from a classic cross-hatched pb cookie to a thumbprint.

I used blackberry jam for the filling but grape, strawberry, anything you would put on a PB&J would be great. Crofter's organic spreads are our favorite brand of jam. Mark has a peanut butter and blackberry jam sandwich for a pre-bedtime snack almost every night. Thank goodness I have a helper to plow through that vast pb collection!

Here's my recipe:

1/2 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup brown rice syrup (or more agave, maple syrup or honey)
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
2/3 cup creamy or creamy salted peanut butter
2 tablespoons almond milk
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 and 1/2 cup spelt flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of jam or jelly (or even melted chocolate!) of your choice

Preheat oven to 325. Line two baking sheets with wax paper.
In a large bowl, wisk together agave, brown rice syrup, oil, peanut butter, milk, falx seeds, and both extrats until very smooth. Sift in the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix to form a soft dough.
Use your hands to roll about a tablespoon of  dough at a time into balls and place them on the baking sheet.
Bake the cookies for about 9 minutes or until puffy.
While cookies are baking, put the jam into a small saucepan over low heat to soften.
Take cookies out of the oven. Use either the back of a small spoon, a melon baller, or of course your thumb if you can handle the heat, to make and indention in each cookie. Use a spoon to fill the indentions with the jam.
Put the cookies back in the oven for 6-7 minutes more, check to make sure they aren't getting to brown around the edges.
Take cookies out of oven and let cool on baking sheets for five minutes before moving to wire racks to cool completely.

This recipe made a lot, around two dozen or a little more. So, I took some to school to share with friends and they were very well received! Mark says he thinks they are very good, but he still prefers the samoas. To each their own I suppose! The more peanut butter for me!