Sunday, December 30, 2012

Chocolate Mint Trifle

This trifle was our Christmas dessert, or one of them anyway.  I love how a trifle looks like you've worked really hard, but in reality, you haven't.  

This one is based on the recipe I found at a site called The Cooking Mom.  I did most things the same, except I didn't color my whipped topping green, because it just seemed unnecessary.  And I used chopped up Andes mints instead of  mint baking chips.  

Here's the recipe:

1 box (19.5 ounces) family size brownie mix, prepared according to directions and baked in 9 x13 inch pan
3 cups cold milk
2 boxes (3.4 ounces) instant chocolate pudding
1 container (12 ounces) of frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
a couple drops of green food coloring
1 ½ cups mint baking chips
a few Andes mints, unwrapped
Fresh mint sprig (optional)

Cool brownies and cut into 1 to 2 inch cubes. Beat pudding and milk together until it starts to thicken. In another bowl, mix peppermint extract and a few drops of green food coloring into the whipped topping until it turns light green. Place half of the brownie cubes in the bottom of a trifle dish or clear glass bowl. Top with half of the chocolate pudding. Sprinkle on half of the mint chips. Next, carefully spread half of the green whipped topping over mints. Repeat with the remaining brownies, pudding, and mint chips. Cover loosely with plastic and refrigerate until ready to serve. Right before serving remove plastic and decorate the top with a “cloud” of the reserved green whipped topping. Place some whole mints on top and garnish with fresh mint sprig.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Crispy Baked Orange Chicken Wings

Very Merry Christmas to all of you! I can't believe it's been September since I posted anything!  But my daughter got a laptop for Christmas which means I finally have mine all to myself again, so hopefully things will start rolling along a little better now.  

But back to Christmas....I hope you had a wonderful day celebrating with people you love, and hopefully some good food to go along with it.  I decided I didn't really want a regular turkey and dressing type Christmas dinner, so we had appetizers.  Because I love appetizers and always feel guilty stuffing myself with them before the main course.  So it only makes sense to just make them the main course.  We had so many good things...pineapple cheeseball, buffalo chicken dip, apple caramel dip, and these delicious wings that were new to me.  

I really loved these little beauties, and I also love that they are baked and not fried.  It could have something to do with the fact that I've lost the power cord to my deep fryer, and I also just hate the mess.  

So I will cut the chatter and give you the recipe that I found from Just a Taste (via Pinterest).  

For the Chicken:
2½ pounds chicken wings, tips removed, drumettes and flats separated
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the Sauce:  
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
3/4 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup hoisin sauce

Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Rinse wings and drumettes and pat dry. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with vegetable oil, salt and pepper. Position wings on baking racks in a single layer ensuring that wings aren't touching.
Bake, rotating pan half-way through, until fully cooked, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove wings from oven and transfer to a large bowl.
Add the sesame oil and olive oil to a small saucepot over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes until golden brown.
Add the red pepper flakes, orange marmalade and hoisin sauce, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
Pour the orange sauce over the wings, tossing to thoroughly coat, and serve immediately.

I hope you get a chance to try these, maybe New Years?  I've really missed the whole blogging experience and interaction so I'm looking forward to visiting with all of you and seeing your wonderful creations very soon.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Raw Vegan Brownies

As you may have heard me mention, we are trying to some extent to get away from eating quite as much meat and processed foods in general.  We won't talk about the giant pre-packaged cinnamon roll I had this morning...I guess the key word here is trying.  

So this endeavor has me looking for replacements for some of my favorite naughty treats that aren't quite as naughty...hence these raw brownies.

Do they taste like fresh from the oven, decadent, dripping with chocolate brownies?  Well, of course not.  But seriously they're not bad.  If you're someone like me who thinks they have to have their chocolate sweet fix everyday, they are a pretty good alternative.  

Here's the recipe I found at 28 Cooks

1/2 c dried dates
1/2 c dried cherries
1/4 c carob powder (or cocoa powder)
1 c walnuts
3 tbsp agave nectar (or honey)

Process all in food processor until ingredients are well mixed and chopped. Press into a small square baking pan and freeze for 1 hour. Slice brownies into 12 pieces. Store in fridge

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Pinterest sort of inspires and depresses me at the same time.  I see so many things on there I'd love to try to do and I get all fired up.  Then I realize there are so many hours in a day, and there's only so much money, and I continue making excuses why I can't do these things until I have to just go to bed and watch old reruns of M*A*S*H until I recover.  

Occasionally though, I do get up the courage to try somethings I see on there...such as Cauliflower Crust Pizza.  I'll just be honest, I don't really like cauliflower.  I can eat it, but I'd just rather not.  But fixed up this way....I'm all over it.  Once again this got the family seal of approval. 

I did a couple things different from the recipe, and I'll note those below for you.  I didn't realize until after I started the recipe was for one serving, so had to increase the cauliflower to feed us all.   You'll definitely want something else to eat with this, a salad or whatever floats your boat.  But I definitely think it's worth a try!

Here's the recipe with any changes I made from Stick a Fork In It

1 cup cooked, riced cauliflower (I used 2 cups)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese*  (I kept the cheese at one cup even though the cauliflower is increased)
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp garlic salt
Olive oil (optional)
Pizza sauce
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Other additional toppings of your choice
To rice your cauliflower, take 1 large head of cauliflower, remove the stems and leaves, and chop the florets into chunks. Add to a food processor and pulse just until it looks like rice. Alternatively, you can grate the cauliflower with a cheese grater.
Place the riced cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl, add 1/4 cup water, and microwave for 6-8 minutes, stirring half-way through.
To make the pizza, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a pizza pan or cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, combine the cauliflower, mozzarella cheese and egg together and stir until well incorporated. Add the oregano, garlic, and garlic salt. Transfer to the cookie sheet, and shape into a 9-inch circle. Brush the crust with olive oil to help it brown in the oven.
Baked at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes, until the crust is browned and cooked through the middle.
Remove the crust from the oven, add your sauce and toppings. Place under a broiler at high heat until the cheese is melted and bubbly. (About 3-4 minutes).

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting (Plant-Based)

It was a long, hot summer.  And it's hard to find things to do to keep myself entertained. One can only go to the library so many times, and I love surfing the web as much as the next person but my posterior eventually gets numb.  One of the things I did to entertain myself was watching a few documentaries, and one of my favorites was "Forks Over Knives".  It's a pretty compelling story of how our Western diet has led to the demise of our health (I know, that's not exactly a new revelation) and how we should eschew all things processed and animal based and solely eat a plant-based diet.  (I love the word eschew, I'm so glad I finally got to use it).  

Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health

I liked the documentary so much I ended up buying the companion cookbook, and found the recipe for these cupcakes in it.  I'll have to admit it's not quite as easy as opening up a box of cake mix, but it feels really good knowing you're having a treat that's not completely filled with fats, sugar, and preservatives

The family even agreed they were pretty good, and had no idea I was sneaking dried dates into their dessert.  Except for when I told them, I'm terrible at keeping secrets.

Here's the recipe for you should you feel led to try them...

Double Chocolate Cupcakes:
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 cup plant based milk (I used almond milk)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup dry sweetener (prob not the best choice but I used splenda)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 and line 12 cup muffin tin.
Melt the chocolate in small bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together milk and vinegar. Let it sit for a few minutes until curdled. Stir in the dry sweetener, applesauce, vanilla, and melted chocolate.
In a seperate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the mixture to the wet ingredients, one half at a time, and beat until no large lumps remain.
Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, filling each cup 3/4 full. Bake 18 to 20 minutes. 

Fudgy Chocolate Frosting
1 cup boiling water
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups pitted dried dates
1 tbsp brown rice syrup*
pinch salt
1/2 tsp vanilla

Put boiling water and cocoa powder in a blender or food processor. Blend on high about 30 seconds. 
Add the dates, brown rice syrup, and salt to the blender. Blend until smooth. Add the vanilla and blend until combined.
Transfer mixture to an airtight container and chill completely, at least 3 hours until it becomes firm and spreadable. 

I found the brown rice syrup at Sprouts Farmers' Market, but didn't really want to pay 5+ bucks for just one tablespoon for this recipe. I had bought some of that new sweetener called Nectresse and just used some of that. Or you could just use splenda.

So, I'm a long way from eating only things produced from the ground, in fact I doubt I'll ever be totally there.  But adding more veggies and eating less meat feels like a step in the right direction.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Zucchini Scallion Cakes

Well hello's been a while, I know.  No excuses other than it's been so hot I just haven't cooked that much.  But I saw these little jewels on a great site called Meatless Monday and just had to give them a try.

We really are trying to cut down on the meat intake around here, with no small amount of resistance from the little people.  And they say old people are set in their ways...ha!  I get in a bit of a rut trying to think of veggie main dishes. One can only serve pinto beans so many times before having to hide in shame.  But these cakes are a great way to shake things up a bit.  Come to think of it I think they'd be great with pinto beans!

But seriously, they are easy and delicious.  I hope you'll get a chance to give them a try!

  • 1 medium zucchini, grated
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Combine the grated zucchini, scallions, flour, sugar and salt together in a medium mixing bowl and toss to combine. Add the egg, lemon juice and zest and stir to combine.
Prepare a plate with a layer of paper towels. Place the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Scoop tablespoons of zucchini scallion batter out into the oil, taking care to ensure space between the mounds of batter. You may have to fry the cakes in batches. Cook for about 1 minute on each side, or until the cakes have browned on both sides and are semi-firm. Transfer to the paper towel lined plate and repeat until you are out of batter.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fresh Corn and Rice Salad

Fresh corn is so awesome this time of year, and you really can't beat having it right off the cob.  But if you're in the mood for something a little different, this salad is a nice way to go.  Especially if you've got some leftover rice you'd like to use up.

please try not to be jealous of my fabulous re-purposed Applebee's bowl

I ran across this recipe at the Better Homes and Gardens website, and did pretty much did everything they did.  Except I didn't have arugula, so just sprinkled some basil on top.  And I used brown rice instead of white.  This is really great leftover, either warm or cold.  

  • 4
    ears fresh corn
  • 1 1/2
    cups cooked rice, cooled
  • 1
    pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1
    cup fresh arugula
  • 1
    small red onion, cut in thin wedges
  • 1
    jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2
    tablespoons rice vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 2
    tablespoons olive oil

    . Husk corn and remove silk with a stiff brush; rinse. Cook corn in boiling, lightly salted water for 3 minutes. Remove corn; let cool. Cut corn off the cob in planks (I wasn't very good at the planking thing) Combine cooked rice, tomatoes, arugula, onion and jalapeno pepper. Transfer to serving bowl; top with corn. Drizzle with vinegar and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pineapple Ginger Agua Fresca

This is a very light and refreshing summer drink found at Epicurious.  If you're trying to get away from soda or other sugary things, this may work for you.  There's only a half a cup of sugar in the whole thing, and you could probably use splenda if you wanted.  My son really loved it.

Here's the recipe:

  • 5 cups 1-inch cubes peeled ripe pineapple (from 1 large pineapple)

  • 4 cups water, divided

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 2 teaspoons (or more) grated peeled fresh ginger

  • Ice cubes

  • Puree pineapple, 1 cup water, and sugar in blender in batches until smooth. Pour into 8-cup measuring cup. Mix in 3 cups water and 2 teaspoons ginger. Cover; chill until cold, about 4 hours. Strain pineapple mixture into pitcher, pressing on solids in strainer. Add more ginger to taste. Fill tall glasses with ice. Pour agua fresca over.

  • If you didn't have any ginger I wouldn't sweat it, I really didn't taste it that much.

  • Wednesday, June 6, 2012

    Going-Away Presents

    There are so many people who are going away. With seemingly no thought to how I feel about any of it.  When I think about it I really can't blame them.  Living in the deepest pits of hell (aka Phoenix) really isn't what it's cracked up to be.  

    So I will suck it up, be the bigger person and wish them well.  But they're leaving all at the same time pretty much!  Thank goodness Pinterest was here to guide me in getting them a little something to say goodbye.  

    I am inexplicably drawn to these type of cups, they just make me happy.  So I got each one of them a cup and am filling it with things that will be nice to have for traveling (drink mixes, hand sanitizer, snacks, and a Starbucks gift card).   My flag making could use a little work, but overall, I like them.  

    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

    Homemade Lip Balm

    I am a girl who loves her lip balm.  I always have.  As long as I remember I always use vaseline on my lips before I go to bed, or I just can't sleep.  (OCD perhaps?)  But is vaseline the best product to use, being all full of pesky chemicals and such?  After all, I suppose it is a by-product of making petroleum.  (please don't quote me, as I have no idea what I'm talking about).   Anyway, since I spend all my free (and un-free) time on pinterest, I started seeing people are making their own lip balm, and I thought HEY, that's something I'd like to do.

    I wanted to make a recipe that used shea butter and cocoa butter, but this was cheaper.  I'll still try the other at some point.  And SO easy.  I really loved the end result.  Although it's just slightly firmer than I would have liked, which can most likely be remedied by using more of the oils in ratio to the beeswax.  

    And it's totally *chemical free!

    Here's the recipe if you want to try it too:

    1-2 TBSP. grated beeswax
    2-3 TBSP. coconut oil
    1/2 TBSP. sweet almond oil
    5-10 drops of essential oil {added off heat}

    I found it kinda difficult to grate the beeswax, so instead just cut it into small chunks.  You probably want to use a cheap knife or grater that you don't care about because the beeswax really sticks.  Same goes for melting it (which you want to do in some small double boiler type thing).  

    I didn't add any essential oils, I kinda like it plain, but if you do, the directions say to do that after the melting process or the essential oils will burn off.  

    The hard part is finding suitable containers.  The ones I used are some re-purposed sample containers I already had, so I'm still on the search.  

    So there ya go, hope you get a chance to make some for yourself :)

    *as far as I know everything contains chemicals

    Tuesday, April 10, 2012

    Tuscan Chicken with White Beans and Spinach

    Just a quick post to get this delicious chicken dish up for you.  All I can say about it is...make it!  

    • 4 slices of lean bacon, cooked and chopped
    • 2 tsp olive oil (divided)
    • 5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of any fat  (I used breasts)
    • Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
    • Garlic powder, to taste
    • Dried basil, to taste
    • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
    • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
    • 1 15 oz can of white beans, rinsed & drained
    • 2 cups of baby spinach
    Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the bacon is cooked, drain it on a paper towel then chop it up. Remove all but 1 tsp of bacon grease from the skillet. Add 1 tsp olive oil to the bacon grease in the skillet over medium high heat. Season the chicken with sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, garlic powder, and dried basil, to taste on both sides. Once the skillet is HOT, add the seasoned chicken thighs and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Remove the chicken from the skillet, cover with a tin foil tent, and set aside.
    Add the remaining teaspoon of olive oil to the skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 4-5 minutes or until tender. Add the minced garlic, and cook stirring continuously for 1 minute. Add the drained diced tomatoes and white beans. Stir and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the spinach, season with sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, and dried basil, to taste. Pour the juices from the chicken into the pan and mix well. Ladle the beans and spinach onto a serving dish then top with chicken. Serve immediately. Enjoy.

    Next post I'll show the lip balm I made myself...I'm loving it!

    Friday, March 30, 2012

    Root Beer Fudge

    This was supposed to be Root Beer Float Fudge, but the root beer flavoring I used didn't give me the color contrast I needed, so I lost the "float" effect.  No matter, it was still scrumptious!  

    And that's saying a lot coming from me, as I am pretty skeptical of desserts that aren't chocolate.  I took these to work and everyone there seemed to like them.  One girl said they were "ridiculous".  I think that's good.

    Here's the recipe for you that I found at The Traveling Spoon. Easy as pie.  Well, way easier than pie actually.

    3 cups granulated sugar
    3/4 cup butter
    1 cup heavy cream
    pinch of salt
    3 cups white chocolate chips
    1 1/2 cups marshmallow cream
    3 teaspoons root beer extract

    Line a 9x13-inch baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside.

    In a large saucepan over low heat, stir sugar, butter, salt and cream until melted and well combined. Bring to a boil and stir continuously for 4 minutes.

    Remove saucepan from heat and quickly stir in white chocolate chips and marshmallow creme. Stir until well combined and smooth. Mixture may be thick so don't be afraid to stir hard for a couple of minutes!

    Working quickly before the mixture hardens, pour half into the prepared baking dish and spread with a knife or spatula. Stir root beer extract into remaining fudge mixture until well combined. Pour over white fudge and swirl the two layers using a knife. Refrigerate at least four hours. Cut into small squares and enjoy cold or room temperature.

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012

    Homemade Flour Tortillas

    It seems I had tried making flour tortillas before, I must have blocked it from my memory but I'm sure I've tried.  Most likely they were nothing to write home about.  Then I saw this recipe at Homesick Texan and new I should give them a try.

    They were easy and beautiful, and went perfectly with our roast pork. 

     They held together great without being too tough.  What more could you ask for?  Oh the it is.

    Flour Tortillas from the Homesick Texan
    Two cups of all-purpose flour (can make them whole wheat by substituting one cup of whole-wheat flour for white flour)
    1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
    1 teaspoon of salt
    2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
    3/4 cups of warm milk

    Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and oil.
    Slowly add the warm milk.
    Stir until a loose, sticky ball is formed.
    Knead for two minutes on a floured surface. Dough should be firm and soft.
    Place dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap for 20 minutes.
    After the dough has rested, break off eight sections, roll them into balls in your hands, place on a plate (make sure they aren’t touching) and then cover balls with damp cloth or plastic wrap for 10 minutes. (It’s very important to let the dough rest, otherwise it will be like elastic and won’t roll out to a proper thickness and shape.)
    After dough has rested, one at a time place a dough ball on a floured surface, pat it out into a four-inch circle, and then roll with a rolling pin from the center until it’s thin and about eight inches in diameter. (If you roll out pie crusts you’ll have no problem with this.) Don’t over work the dough, or it’ll be stiff. Keep rolled-out tortillas covered until ready to cook.
    In a dry iron skillet or comal heated on high, cook the tortilla about thirty seconds on each side. It should start to puff a bit when it’s done.
    Keep cooked tortillas covered wrapped in a napkin until ready to eat.
    Can be reheated in a dry iron skillet, over your gas-burner flame or in the oven wrapped in foil.
    While you probably won’t have any leftovers, you can store in the fridge tightly wrapped in foil or plastic for a day or so.
    Makes eight tortillas 

    Thursday, March 8, 2012

    Pomegranate Granita

    In the past I had been jealous, even quite envious when I would see that other bloggers had received a sample of this cute little bottle of POM Wonderful pomegranate juice. 

     But finally, I got my turn.  It's some seriously good stuff to drink straight from the (incredibly cute) bottle.  But I wanted to make something out of it.  So I decided on granita, from Dave Lieberman's recipe found at Food Network.  

    It's the easiest thing ever, just a bit tart, and very refreshing.  I halved the recipe and it made plenty.  



    In a large bowl, combine the 2 juices and season with sugar, to taste. Pour into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Carefully place in freezer and freeze until solid, about 4 hours. Use a fork to scrape into large crystals and spoon granita into chilled glasses. Serve immediately.