New Smoothie for the New Year

HAPPY 2015!!

Just a short post to share this new recipe I concocted today.  It is delicious!

I used my new Oster MyBlend 20 oz.  I am in LOVE with this thing.  Single serve and it’s already in the bottle?  So convenient.  It mixes way better than my old blender (which shall remain nameless), and it’s quieter, too.  Highly recommend.  I got it at Lowe’s for $20.  Worth every penny.

Anyway… here’s the recipe rundown:

2 Cups greens mix, any (mine was Attitude greens, idk what kind)

Eyeball about 1/2 cup Almond milk coconut/almond blend unsweetened

3-4 ice cubes

Handful frozen blueberries

Handful frozen cherries

Half banana, ripe

1/2 pack Vega Sport protein powder, vanilla

1 packet Justin’s Maple Almond butter

1 scoop collagen powder

No frills, but your taste buds won't mind.
No frills, but your taste buds won’t mind.

MIX!  Enjoy!  It’s not too slushy and not too thick and SO yummy.  You can add infinite things to this, no sweetener required, the fruit really takes care of that.  I sprinkled some roasted sunflower seeds on top because I enjoy sweet and salty together. Normally I might add hemp seeds but I had them with my oatmeal this morning.  I also try to add ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric to EVERYTHING I eat lately because they soothe my tummy and the holiday eating has it upset.

Resolutions/Goals for this year:  Eat more plants, write more blog posts, finish the book, travel, be kind, be fearless.  OH and I am going to try to read the Bible front to back.  A daunting task, but something I have always wanted to do.  What are your resolutions or goals this year?

Advertisements

Chocolate Chip “PanCrepes”

Most of my ‘best’ dishes happen by accident.  I love feeling like a mad scientist in the kitchen – creating, substituting, and usually not measuring or following any specific recipe.  I call it ‘guerrilla baking’ in jest, but in truth it’s the most freeing way for me to cook.  Tonight I made something in between pancakes and crepes, using applesauce instead of vegetable oil (blech) and Ghirardelli semi-sweet morsels.

My husband sent me a “Good News!” text, and once I heard what the good news, I decided to celebrate.  Hence, cooking with chocolate.  What makes a heart (or tummy) happier on a cold winter’s night than something buttery, gooey, and chocolatey?  I certainly can’t think of anything.

P1050588

So I put a pat of Plugra Unsalted butter (my favorite, hands-down) and got to work.  These are the result. They are not as thin as crepes, not as fluffy as pancakes, just the right ‘in-between’ of sweet and savory, with melted chocolate in the middle. They may not be pretty, but my taste buds are not complaining.   I don’t have a recipe, though if I did I might not share it, as I like to keep my Franken-Dishes to myself.*

These ARE vegetarian – they ARE NOT vegan but could easily be modified.  (Which I may do for myself tomorrow!)

P1050586 P1050585

*Alright, boys and girls – after several requests I’m going to post a ‘rough’ version of the non-recipe:

1/2 C milk or non-dairy milk

1/2 C all purpose flour

dash of baking powder

pinch of salt

pinch of cinnamon

1 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp applesauce (or vegetable oil)

1 Tbsp butter or margarine (you really want to use butter here)

1 large egg

Any chocolate you like.  Dark chocolate will give a more bitter taste, so if you want sweet go with milk or semi-sweet chocolate. You could also add vanilla (I was out).

Preheat a pan or skillet and drop a small ‘pat’ of butter.  (Just a LITTLE bit is fine – this adds flavor and thins out the batter a little.) Mix wet ingredients in a bowl. (Egg, butter, applesauce).  Whisk together, then add dry ingredients.  Mix well (mixer not needed, just do it by hand.)   Pour batter in pan as you like – I started small to ‘test’ then got bigger.  Makes 4-6 PanCrepes.

Butter Pecan Pie Cake

We celebrated my dad’s 60th birthday last week.  I volunteered to make the cake, because for me, that’s the dream job.  The coveted task.  When birthdays come around I’m like the kid in the front row in school who knows they know all the answers – throwing my hands up going “ooh!  pick me, pick me!”  Thankfully my friends and family are willing and even happy to hand this particular task to me.  They’re thankful to scratch it off the list, and I am giddy with ideas and anticipation.  This one is a big deal, too, the big 6-0.  Actually I don’t know that 60 means anything special, but milestones do feel more special than the rest, don’t they?  So I set to work brainstorming ideas for the perfect cake (or cupcakes, or chocolate fountain, or tiny butterscotch animals playing croquet, I’m open to ALL inspiration in this stage of the process.)

It didn’t take long for me to land on an idea.  My dad’s a cool guy.  A former marine and bodybuilder, now Sunday School teacher and true maverick, he reminds me of dark-haired “Hannibal” from The A-Team, with a more “Magnum, P.I.” face.  I have so many childhood  memories of my dad, eating Butter Pecan ice cream in bed at night.  Or sometimes after a celebratory dinner he’d bring it out.  It’s a lifelong favorite of his.  Surely there MUST be a way to incorporate this into his birthday cake!  What a brilliant idea, I patted myself on the back.

Pinterest helped a little, as did Google.  But after searching a while and not coming up with any recipe that struck my fancy, I decided to just “do it myself.”  For me, especially in baking, this means I’m going into mad scientist mode.  The good news is, I’m confident in my abilities and I do seem to have a knack for it, so very seldom does an experiment go horribly, terribly wrong.  I put an old mix CD my brother made for me and set to work.  (It’s mostly Evanescence, if you must know.)

Image

If the mix of fragrances in the kitchen was any indication, this would be good.

Well, it wasn’t good. No, not good, but downright yummy.  Now, I do think I’m biased, so I was still nervous about my dad’s reaction.  The rest of the guests, too, but mainly Dad.  I didn’t want to associate his up-until-now favorite flavor with something unappetizing.  Happy to report that he loved it.  The cake was GONE quickly after the candles were blown out.  In fact, I received some texts the next day from party guests asking if I had any left that they could come and pick up.   Yes, the cake – or pie? – looks homemade, but if you didn’t grow up with homemade cakes, you don’t know what you’ve missed.  “That look about it” is what my mom affectionately says – it means I made it with my two hands, my mind, my heart, my soul and creativity.  It’s a delicious gift that’s also a part of me.  So I’m fine with the look.

Image

What’s that line? … I love it when a plan comes together.

 

Cheaters [Never?] Win

So it’s been WEEKS since I’ve blogged and it feels like YEARS.  It’s also been weeks since I’ve baked or cooked anything new, and I’m so happy to report that today I was able to do some of that also.  I’ve started a new day job, which is awesome and keeps me busy during the daylight hours.  The last few weekends have been spent sleeping. Oh, how I’ve missed the sleep.

Anyway, my husband’s employer is having a contest tomorrow.  A cupcake contest.  This will be simple.  A breeze.  Like shooting fish in a barrel.

Not so fast.  Actually, last year I made something for the same contest.   I poured my blood, sweat, tears, and some gorgeous produce into that dish.  I was incredibly proud of my entry, and I was sure I had won, even before my husband called from work that evening.

Actually on that call he told me “Well I thought you did an amazing job.”  Aha.  The pat-on-the-back, “A for effort”,  I love you anyway talk.  I had lost.  And it must have been by a landslide, the way he was holding my hand while delivering the news.

A few things I should have thought about last year:  I carefully selected a healthy/vegan recipe, which was mistake number one.   When your target audience (or appetite) is middle-aged American men who lift heavy things for a living, healthy/vegan isn’t what you want on your nutritional info label.  I also made sure to make it really “neat” looking.  Photo-ready.  (A habit of mine, you know.)  That was mistake number two.  Men like these don’t eat things that look like they’re meant for afternoon tea.  They eat chicken wings covered in hot sauce and messy things with gravy.  Basically if it isn’t on their faces and hands or staining their clothes, it isn’t even a threat in this challenge.

I expected to win last year’s contest because I made something I would be thrilled to eat.  I was not only a loser last year, but mine was one of the few dessert trays not totally emptied during the judging.  Ouch.  That was a punch in the ego.  The grand prize winner was something called “death by chocolate”.  When I asked my husband to describe it to me, he just used the word “chocolate” a lot of times.  So… yeah.  I felt like my pure-bred racehorse had just lost the Preakness to a lame old (chocolate) donkey.

This year, determined to win, I approached the contest from a completely different perspective.  My culinary plan of attack is much more man-centric.  I can’t believe I’m going to say this out loud, but… I … CHEATED.   Yes, I made red velvet cupcakes with icing inside.  But, I cheated.  I… *gulp*… made them FROM A BOX MIX!

Nothing says loving like powder and oil.
Nothing says loving like powder and oil.

Cooking or baking things from packages might not be shocking to some of you, but I grew up in my grandmother’s home.  All the dishes, desserts, birthday cakes, ALL of it was made from scratch.  Real ingredients, real “elbow grease”, or not at all.  Box cakes are blasphemy.  Of the devil.  A shameful, horrible invention.

However, box cakes are also what Americans eat.  I want to win, and so I stooped to the lowest level I could fathom.  And you know something?  Perhaps the worst of all of this is that it doesn’t actually taste that bad.  (Please don’t tell Grandmother I said that!)

Holy fakecakes, Batman!
Holy fakecakes, Batman!

The cake is moist and bouncy.  Certainly not the color or texture of something that occurs in nature, but not completely unappetizing.  They smell good, too.  I used my apple corer to dig out holes in the middle for the icing.  Looks yummy, no?

Another upside to “cheating” in baking is the time difference.  These cupcakes took me about 45 minutes, from start to finish, including cleaning up the kitchen.  If I had made these by hand from scratch, well, I’d probably still be baking and not blogging about what I’d baked.  So here’s a photo of hte finished product, all iced and (dare I say it) delicious-looking.

This is what winning looks like.
This is what winning looks like.

Beautiful, no?  Unfortunately the icing turned out a bit thin, but I don’t think the guys at my husband’s job are going to notice.  Mark my words, these from-the-box, spongy, blasphemy cupcakes are going to win me that prize.  These cupcakes are this year’s chocolate donkey, my friends.  I can feel it. Winner’s circle, here I come.