It’s been a while since I actually baked something…the weeks since Christmas have been busy and in turn have kept me out of the kitchen.  Bummer, I know.

So, when my brother called and said we would be meeting tonight for his birthday, I decided this was the little kick I needed to get back in the kitchen and prepare him a special treat.  However, I haven’t been shopping in a while and am out of LOTS of things.  What to make with a limited pantry and NO time to run to the store…For my answer I head to the food blogs.  

Type, type, type…OH, this will do!

 a cookie recipe on Angela’s blog that included ingredients I had on hand (well…with a few substitutions).

Crunchy Cashew and Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

(see here for Oh She Glows’ Salt-Kissed Chunky Peanut Butter Cookies)

  • 1 1/4 c. Gluten Free Flour
  • 1/4 c. Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. Cacao Nibs
  • 1 tbs. Mini Vegan Chocolate Chips
  • 1 tbs. Cashew Butter
  • 1/2 tbs. Chopped Cashews
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla or Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 1/4 c. Agave Nectar
  • 4 tbs. Safflower Oil

Mix in a small bowl (with fork) the following:  sugar, agave, oil, vanilla, cashews, and softened cashew butter.  In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Combine wet ingredients with dry and mix with hands.  This dough is crumbly but should hold together when you roll it in a ball.  Add your chocolate chips and cacao nibs.  Roll into 12-14 balls.  Place on cookie sheet sprayed with oil. Press cookie dough with a spoon.  Sprinkle with salt and/or turbinado sugar.

Bake on preheated oven, 350* for ~16 minutes (my oven is a little off, so check your cookies after 12).  Remove from oven and cool on a rack.

Super easy, super fast….REALLY tasty!

Thanks for reading…I hope you all enjoy the remainder of your weekend.

R-

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This weekend was my 6th Wedding Anniversary!  Hubby and I went down to Estes Park and checked into The Stanley Hotel.  Joe had decided to request a room on the 4th floor (considered the most haunted) in hopes of seeing spookes!  Before night fell we took a ghost/history tour to find out a little more in regards to where to conduct our ghost hunting. 

After 2+ hours on the ghost tour, after-dinner ghost hunting on our own, and hundreds of photos were taken, the EMF Detector pretty quiet and it was obvious we weren’t going to see or hear any of The Stanley’s historical ghosts.  Then, I took this series of pictures:

Hmmm…some say “orbs” are spirits caught on film…others say particals/dust in the air.  Whatever it is, during the time I took the first photo Joe said the EMP detector was “detecting” something.  Ghost or not, it seemed interesting.  I NEVER get these little orbs in my photos. 

Anyway, the next day we went for a beautiful hike on the Twin Owls Trail…GORGEOUS!

R-

So, for Christmas my hubby bought me a waffle maker and this morning I broke it out, whipped up a quick and easy vegan waffle batter and got to cooking!  It has been probably 5 years since I attempted to cook waffles…the last time I did it was a HUGE disaster!  My batter was all wrong and the George Forman Waffle/Griddle I had was not working in my favor.  😦  Huge flop…I thought I’d never make waffles again!  I even gave my George Forman away because I was so annoyed with the process and outcome. 

Skip forward to this morning…a little aprehensive…but excited about my new toy, I pulled out a few ingredients after looking at about 30 different waffle recipes online.  Nothing jumped out at me, but I discovered you needed a few key ingredients.  So, with those in mind I went into the kitchen and came up with this:

Citrus Vegan Belgium Waffles

  • 1 c. Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 c. Pamala’s Gluten Free Baking Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • Pinch Sea Salt
  • 2 Tbs. Sucanant
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 2 c. Almond Milk, unsweetened
  • 3 Tbs. Earth Balance, melted
  • 2 Tbs. Chia Seed in 3 Tbs. Water (soak ~5 min)
  • Zest from 1 Clementine

In large bowl, combine flours, baking powder and salt.  Mix well.  In a separate bowl, combine sucanant, Earth Balance, zest, vanilla bean paste, and almond milk.  Whisk until incorporated.  Add Chia Egg and whisk.  Pour wet ingredients into flour mixture and mix with a large spoon until lumps are gone. 

Pour ~ 3/4 c. batter on HOT waffle maker (I sprayed mine with oil before cooking to ensure it would come out of the pan easily) and cook for ~4 minutes. 

Makes 4, 6-7″ waffles.

Serve with a variety of toppings:  Maple syrup, homemade jams, nut butters, powdered sugar, and earth balance!  SOOOOO freaking good!  Nice and fluffy on the inside, and crisp on the outside.  If you like a crisper waffle, just cook a little longer. 

I had mine with homemade peach butter and cashew butter thinned with almond milk….this really hit the spot.  Not too sweet, filling, and super tasty!

Thanks for the inspiration babe!

Hope you all have a great New Years!

R-

So, a while back I applied to be part of the Iron Foodie sponsored by Marx Food and Foodie Blog Roll…and I sadly wasn’t chosen to compete.  HOWEVER, I received an email from Justin Marx asking if I’d like to try a few samples and participate in a sort of “runner’s up” challenge.  I quickly responded and about a week ago I received (free of charge) several samples from Marx Foods and I have created this yummy scone recipe using two of those ingredients!

I was a little apprehensive to use lavender in a recipe because I’ve seen and heard that too much lavender in a recipe will ruin your food and taste soapy.  YUCK!  I did LOTS of research on line regarding lavender, flavors that pair well, how to prepare, and popular recipes.  I wanted to push myself to try something new and experiment – even if that lead me to failure.  I threw around LOTS of ideas, both savory and sweet, and finally decided to try my hand at scones (something I’ve never baked, but enjoy eating). 

Blackberry Lavender Scones

  • 1 c. Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 c. White Spelt Flour
  • 1/3 c. White Sugar (although, these would be FAB if you replaced the white sugar with honey)
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1.5 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Lavender Buds
  • 3/4 c. Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 pt. Blackberries
  • 1/2 c. Lavender Tea (soak 2.5 tsp. in 1 c. hot water for ~10 minutes)
  • 1/2 c. Powder Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • Honey Granuals

1. Boil water, steep 2.5 tsp Lavender buds for ~10 minutes (the water should turn a dirty, purplish color and should have a mild lavender taste when sipped).  Once tea is ready, toss 1 pt. coarsely chopped blackberries into 1/2 of the tea and allow to soak while prepping the rest of the ingredients.

2.  Mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lavender in large bowl.

3. Whisk together white sugar, yogurt, and egg. 

4.  Add the berries that have soaked in the lavender tea (make sure they were able to soak for ~10 minutes) to the sugar mixture.  Reserve the liquid for the frosting.

5.  Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and incorporate with your hands.  This will be sticky, but it mixes best with your fingers. 

6.  Fill mini scone pan 3/4 full (or you can pat this into a circle 1/2-3/4″ thick on a floured surface, cut into 8 pieces), sprinkle with honey granuals, place into preheated oven (400*) for ~15 minutes.

7. When scones are done, place on a cooling rack to cook and then prep your ingredients for the frosting. 

8. Mix powdered sugar, vanilla, and ~4 tsp. blackberry/lavender tea reserved.  If your frosting is too thick, add a little more tea (1/2 tsp at a time) until the right consistency is achieved.

8.  Drizzle frosting over top of the scones, sprinkle with honey granules, and ENJOY!

MMMM…these are pretty good.  My nephew ate two of them!  But be warned, they are not overly sweet and have a very distinct flavor.  My mom tried them and said they are one of those foods that taste better and better with each bite.  They are different, healthy (only 104 cals a piece if you make the minis – 14 scones), and crumbly! 

Thanks Marx Food for the opportunity to try out these new ingredients and for pushing me to try new things!

R-

I love making homemade nut butters thanks to Ashley.  She inspired me when I came across her blog this summer and I haven’t bought a jar of nut butter in months (however, the pecan and walnut butters that Artisana makes will be  purchased once I’m out of my last batch of almond butter).  I’ve been playing around with some FANCY peanut butters for a few weeks and finally came up with a few that I am in LOVE with and will be giving out for Christmas gifts. 

Are you ready????

First up….Winter Crunch Peanut Butter full of dried cranberries, coconut, and white chocolate chips!  This is a perfect peanut butter for your oats in the morning, stirred into your yogurt, or on top of a warm piece of toast! 

Winter Crunch Peanut Butter

  • 3 c. Peanuts (roasted, unsalted)
  • 1-2 tsp Coconut Oil
  • ~1 tsp Cinnamon
  • ~1/2 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/2 c. Dried Cranberries, chopped
  • 1/2 c. White Chocolate Chips, chopped
  • ~1/4 c. Coconut Flakes
  • Salt, to taste

Place your peanuts, oil, and spices (not the salt) into the food processor and process for ~5 minutes.  You will be able to tell when it’s ready ’cause the peanuts turn into creamy, rich BUTTER!  Watch it, you may need to scrap the sides a time or two.  Taste your nut butter and see if it needs more spice and this is when you’ll add your salt. 

Transfer your peanut butter to a large bowl, now you can add your coconut, white chocolate, and cranberries.  Mix well, place in your jars for storage.  If your making these as gifts, make sure to save some for yourself!  This recipe fills 5, 4 oz canning jars.

Cranberries + Coconut + White Chocolate + Peanuts = DELISH!!!!

Thanks for reading…and I hope you all enjoy this peanut butter as much as I do.  I’ll be back to post my Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter later!

And on to the Wendy’s Gift Card Winner – Using Random.org, the gift card goes to…Duane!!!!  Thanks for playing!  I will be contacting you soon to get your mailing information!

Have a great weekend!

R-

A few weeks back I received an email from Foodbuzz Tastemakers stating that they needed people to review Wendy’s French Fries.  I have NEVER been a fan of Wendy’s French Fries and thought that if they had changed things what better way to give them a try then for free!!!   Wendy’s sent me two $7 gift cards (gratis!) so that I could try their fries, post a review, and allow my readers a chance to try them as well (via giveaway).

Before I give my review, I want to state that I fully understand that eating  french fries are not a means to a healthy heart or small waistline, but sometimes a girl just needs some fries!  I am guilty (I confess…and although I’m not proud, I have vowed to stay honest on this blog) of eating out WAY too much while thinking as I eat my fast food, “You know you shouldn’t eat this!”  So why accept to do a review for Wendy’s?  Well, I did a little research and found that Wendy’s (although far from perfect) is trying to provide its customers with quality ingredients and is committed to humane treatment of animals.  They have LOTS of stipulations they place on their suppliers.  While I don’t feel they are as strict as they could be, they are placing more demands than any other fast food chain (with the exception of Chipotle) that I am aware of. 

On to the Review:

So, yesterday night my hubby and I visited Wendy’s.  My husband ordered a burger and fries, I ordered a salad…and of course FRIES (the whole reason I was there to begin with). 

Old Wendy’s Fries

Source

On The Old Fries – I have had Wendy’s fries several times…and was never impressed, I would choose McDonald’s or Burger King fries over Wendy’s ANY day.  The fries were LIMP, too SALTY, and really tasted only of OIL and SALT.  YUCK.  Good thing Wendy’s has other options for a side dish.

New Wendy’s Fries

Click for Source

On The New FriesSo. Much. Better.  I almost at the WHOLE box of fries (this never happens, hubby usually finishes them for me when I’ve eaten about 1/2 of them)!  My fries were fresh, hot, and crispy.  I saw them take the fries from the fryer as I was ordering.  So how did they taste?  Pretty good…they were crispy on the outside, and perfectly soft on the inside.  I love fries that are crunchy…a limp, soggy french fry isn’t worth the calories.  These fries had the perfect amount of crunch and  just the right amount of sea salt.  I didn’t even need ketchup!  The fries were good…and I’d definitely eat them again (in moderation that is, these puppies are FAT-TEN-ING).  BUT no fast food fry can replace homemade french fries!

Rating – 3/5 Stars

Do you want to try them for yourself?  Post a comment before midnight on December 9th.  One winner will be chosen at random on December 10th and will receive a $7.00 Gift Card to Wendy’s.  That’s it!

Thanks Foodbuzz Tastemakers and Wendy’s for this opportunity!

R-

Foodbuzz 24×24 – Tamales Together

(A non-Traditional Thanksgiving)

On Thursday, November 25th, 2010, my family gathered together in my home to celebrate all the blessings we’ve been given this year.  In the spirit of thanks, I thought it would be fun to have a non-traditional Thanksgiving and share the gift of tamales (specifically, tamale making) with those I love.  Together we mixed, spread, and steamed DOZENS of tamales and shared in a feast of tamales, enchiladas, rice and beans…a feast for both vegans and carnivores alike!

Many thanks to Foodbuzz for the opportunity to host this dinner with my family!  They also provided a $250 stipend to help pull the dinner off!  THANKS, THANKS, THANKS!!!!

Prep Work

 In order to have a successful make-and-take AND still be able to have a sit-down meal there needed to be a decent amount of prep work completed before hand.  Thank the good Lord I have an amazing mother who was willing to prep all the meat tamales and enchiladas on Wednesday while I was having Turkey Day dinner at my in-laws (sis-in-law is a police officer and she couldn’t join us on Thursday so we had pre-Thanksgiving dinner Wednesday afternoon).  So early Wednesday morning I headed over to my mom’s and prepped the vegan enchiladas, cooked up some sweet potatoes for the in-laws, and helped mom get a few things ready for her prep work. 

THANKS MOM!!!

When it came down to making vegan enchiladas I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do…enchiladas are typically LOADED with cheese…vegans don’t eat cheese…hmmm, a problem (my brother and sister-in-law are vegans, and I do TRY to stay away from lots of dairy products).  What do I do about the cheese?  I remembered seeing a cheese sauce recipe on Oh She Glows and thought I’d give it a try.  The results were decent but NOT at all like cheese.  

Roasted Veggie Layered Enchiladas

Ingredients

  • 2 large Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 medium Rutabega
  • 1 medium Parsnip
  • 1 medium Acorn Squash
  • 1 bunch Kale
  • 1 large Onion
  • 2 cups Brown Rice
  • 1 bag Frozen Corn
  • 1 15oz can White Beans
  • 24 corn tortillas
  • 2 cups Veggie Broth
  • ~2 Tbs. Arrowroot Powder
  • 2-3 Tbs. Chili Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Cumin
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • EVOO
  • Triple Batch Cheeze Sauce

Directions –

1.    Cut the first 4 ingredients into small, bite-sized pieces.  Throw in a roasting pan or cookie sheet, coat with EVOO and salt and pepper.  Throw in the oven at 400* for 40-45 minutes (stir once half way through).

2.    While the veggies are roasting, prepare your rice (I used brown rice, I think this adds a nice nutty flavor that pairs well with the veggies).

3.    When veggies are ~15 minutes from being done, saute the onion and then add the kale and “steam” it.

4.    Once roasted veggies are finished, pull from the oven, stir in the following: beans, kale/onion mixture, rice, and corn.  Add more salt and pepper if necessary.  Sprinkle with cumin.  Stir and set aside.

Veggies Pre-Roasted

Veggies After Roasting

5.    Prep your enchilada sauce (or you can buy canned red enchilada sauce).  Before getting started with the enchilada sauce gather up all the ingredients – EVOO, Garlic Powder, Cumin, Chili Powder, Veggie Stock with 2 Tbs. Arrowroot Powder (mix this ahead).  In a pan, at medium heat, toast your chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder in a dry for ~45 seconds (be careful that it doesn’t burn), you will smell a difference when it is ready.

 

6.    Add EVOO to your chili powder and mix well.  Pour in your Stock/Arrowroot mixture.  Cook until your stock thickens.  You may have to add more liquid or more arrowroot (mix with a bit of water first) to get a nice consistency.  Whisk away.  Taste, if it needs more seasoning this is the time to add it.

7.    Dip your corn tortillas in the enchilada sauce one at a time, layer 6 tortillas on the bottom of a pan, spread 1/3 of the veggie mixture on top of the tortillas, pour 1/3 of the enchilada sauce over veggies.  Repeat layers 2 more times.  Add cheeze sauce and bake at 350* for 30 minutes.

***The enchiladas tasted good, but I think next time I would add less cheeze sauce or add it after cooking.  I think too, that it would be TONS better with the Cashew Ricotta that I’ve used in pastas (or with the real deal – Dairy Cheese, if you are not a vegan or dairy-free).  Experiment and let me know what you think.

Tamale Making

The process of making tamales can be LONG and LABOR intensive…but the outcome is always worth the time and effort put into them.

BASIC TAMALE MASA 

  • 4 cups Corn Masa (I use Maseca)
  • 3 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 cup Oil
  • 2 1/2 cups sauce (red – enchilada sauce, green – green chili enchilada sauce)

In your Kitchen Aid Mixer (or any large stand mixer) add all the ingredients until all ingredients are well incorporated.  You’ll know it is ready when you can pinch the masa together and it holds a shape.  If it’s dry or crumbly, add more enchilada sauce.

IN THE MIX (fillings, that is)

Meat – shredded Beef and/or pork – 1/2 pound per 1 dozen tamales, cooked and seasoned (garlic, salt, pepper), add about 1/3 cup enchilada sauce to the mix (you can buy canned or make your own using the recipe for enchiladas above).   OR substitute turkey for the beef/pork mixture and green chili enchilada sauce for the red…EQUALLY delicious!

After spreading  ~2-3 Tbs. masa on soaked corn husks (spread it on the smooth side, it will make your life easier), starting from the open edge and spreading down (leave 2″ or so at the bottom with no masa), spoon ~2 Tbs. meat into center of the tamale and roll the tamale up and fold the edge over.  Place in a steam pan. 

Once your pan is full, steam your tamales for 30 – 45 minutes.  Testing?  The dough will be firm and will NOT stick to the husk when your tamales are finished.  Check frequently ensure you have enough water, you don’t want to steam tamales in a dry pan, trust me, I know this from experience!

Meet Tamales – Plated and Ready to Eat!

Vegitarian – Directly into the masa add the following: 1/2 bag frozen corn, 1 can black beans, 1 cup green chilis, and shredded cheese (dairy or dairy free).

Once your masa is well mixed, simply spoon 3-4 Tbs. masa into center of a soaked corn husk (smooth side) and roll up.  No need to spread here!   Same cooking directions, except this will probably take longer to cook through.

Mom and family friend, Dave preparing veggie tamales for steaming!  See the consistency of the dough…this is what you want.

My brother Rubin working away!

Here we are, ready to steam!  One pot of vegetarian tamales were devoured ~ 45 minutes after this photo was taken!

Extreme close-up!  Mmmm, so tasty!

Pumpkin Dessert Tamales – These tamales are a work in progress.  They taste best straight from the steamer, drizzled with honey!

In your stand mixer, mix the following:  7 c. masa, 2 1/2 c. puree pumpkin, 2 c. oil, 1/2 c. brown sugar, 2-3 Tbs. cinnamon (depends on your taste), 1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 1 tsp. clove, 1/2 c. agave nectar, 1/2 c. vegan chocolate chips, 1/2 c. coconut flakes, 3/4 c. chopped walnuts.  

Follow same prep and cooking instructions as vegetarian tamales.

Pumpkin Dessert Tamales Pulled Straight From the Steamer

There you have it!  Each member of my family was able to leave with about 7 dozen tamales…meat, vegetarian, and pumpkin!  Tamales freeze beautifully and heat up WONDERFULLY when they are re-steamed.

Still Time to Recycle!

Hope you all had an amazing Thanksgiving and that the rest of the holiday season is full of love, family, and blessings!

R-