Birthday Excess

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Happy Birthday to meeeeee!!!

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I made my own dessert. Is that weird?! I have no idea. I’m weird, so it’s probably fitting, right??

Besides, not much has changed:

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Yep. As my mom says, “To our sweet girl (who still attacks dessert with dedication and gusto–and looks just as cute doing it!!) Happy 24th Birthday!
Much much Love, Mom and Dad”. That’s fairly accurate, don’t you think?! And I know for a fact I still make that face…

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I’ve always wanted to make choux pastry. So I did!! Forget cake. I love it and whatnot, but it’s my birthday so I’m playing by my own rules. Besides, all you really need to do is makes something delicious that you can put a candle on. Because birthdays are definitely NOT birthdays without smelling candle smoke. Nothing reminds me more of a birthday than smoking candles!

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My birthday rules are thus (and I just made them up soooo they’re going to apply from now on):

1. Excess is required.
2. Jazzercise is an excellent way to start the day and possibly offset the excesses of dessert that will happen.
3. SPRINKLES.
4. Desserts must be excessive. Because… see rule number 1.

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I think these are spot on. And I DID go to jazzercise yesterday morning which was fab and sweaty as usual and then I went and ate at least a cookie if not two (whoops, not quite sure how that happened) and then I ran around more and then I made these. And then I ate them! Muahahha.

24 is going to be excellent.

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Chouquettes with Vegan Banana Cookie Dough Ice Cream + Salted Date Caramel

Wow really?? Could that title be any longer?? But it’s my birthday sooooo I can do whatever I want, up to and including making excessive desserts that are actually refined sugar free! Because that’s how I roll. Healthy indulgences in celebration of turning 24. Wheeee!! There is gluten, butter, and sprinkles in this. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Chouquettes are lightly adapted from David Lebovitz (amazing!!), here. The date caramel is my own brainchild and the vegan banana ice cream is just embarrassingly easy… I made a half batch of chouquettes, which yielded 10. Recipe as listed yields 25 ish. And obvs made extra caramel and ice cream, obvs. These are also excellent stuffed with real ice cream… or pretty much anything.

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For the chouquettes (which makes me feel really sophisticated to say, even if I mangle the pronunciation):

  • 1 c water
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 4 eggs, at room temp
  • optional: chocolate chippies! I did them in half the batter

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 425.

In a medium saucepan, heat water, salt, sugar, and butter, stirring often, until the butter is melted and the water starts to boil. Remove from heat and immediately stir in the entire amount of flour, stirring until the dough is incorporated and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan (it should clump up into a big blob). Let cool for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to release heat. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until dough is silky and smooth. If adding chocolate chips, let the dough cool completely before adding them. If not, begin dropping dough onto the prepared cookie sheet (I found that a single large spoon worked well), about 2 tbsp’s worth per blob. They’ll spread just a little so don’t put them too close together. Bake for 35 minutes, until puffed and golden. Remove to a cooling rack and serve warm or at room temp. Freeze any leftovers (or really, just eat them immediately).

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For the vegan banana cookie dough “ice cream”:

  • several frozen bananas (however many you need depends on the amount of peeps you’re serving)
  • a good splash of plain almond milk
  • 1+ tsp vanilla
  • a dash of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp (ish) peanut butter

Blenderize all that good stuff in a food processor until creamy. The bananas magically turn into this great ice cream-like consistency!! Like magic. So wonderful and happily guilt free. You can flavor this however you like, I usually use about 1 banana per person, and freeze them in chunks for easy blending. Eat immediately! It’s best fresh.

Then throw all this in the food processor [dry ingredients first, then the wet until it all comes together] :

  • 1 c raw cashews
  • 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/6 c dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp unsalted almond butter
  • excessive amounts of sprinkles. ha.

Et voila! Vegan, refined sugar free funfetti cookie dough. Muahahha. Mix it into your banana soft serve and be really happy about life.

THEN.

Make salted date caramel:

Soak 1 c of pitted dates in boiling water for at least 5 minutes.

Chuck them all into the food processor, followed by a judicious about of vanilla + unsweetened almond milk + a pinch of sea salt + giant heaping blog of almond butter and blendy blend blend until it’s all smooth.

AND THEN.

Stuff the cookie dough banana deliciousness into a chouquette, top with a ridiculous amount of date caramel, and more sprinkles. Because… it’s your birthday. Or at least it’s mine. So you have an excuse to indulge anyway ;)

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So called weirdness is now accepted normalcy

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Shut the front door. A SAVORY thing?!

No.

Can’t be.

But wait… it is!!!

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ENCHILADAS!!!

Or more accurately…

Lentiladas!!

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So dubbed by my work besties when I trotted these babies into work the other day all ecstatic like “guys guys guys!! I have homemade enchiladas for lunch and guess what?! They’re vegan and made with lentils!!” and they all looked at me with ‘well duh!!’ expressions, closely followed by some comments to the effect of “since when would we expect YOU to bring normal enchiladas with you?! That would just be weird and we’d be concerned”. Typical. You know, I might even love my work peeps more than lentils. Which is unfortunate as my last day there is the 30th of this month [I am moving on to beekeeping (!!!), more on that later]… I will miss you, loyal work peeps who proudly nicknamed me Lentil! Good thing we can still hang out like real life friends…

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So anyway. I brought lentiladas to work and everyone expected it. Obviously my weirdness has just become normalcy.

I also made naturally green cookies (to be posted shortlyish) and no one even batted an eye. My work here is done.

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Vegan Lentiladas with Salsa Verde

Vegan, gluten free (with gluten free tortillas, mine were corn+wheat). Fast, totally accessible for a weeknight dinner. I used store-bought salsa and enchilada sauce—next time I might try making my own sauce and not being such a bum. But whatever. The leftovers are excellent reheated– my yield was about 10 enchiladas, which made plenty of delicious leftovers. The recipe is slightly adapted from Hummusapien, here!

  • 1/2 c raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours(ish)
  • 3/4 c dry green lentils+2 c water for cooking
  • 1/2 c salsa verde + extra for serving
  • 1/2 a bell pepper, diced (mine was yellow)
  • 5-6 good sized white mushrooms, sliced and sautéed in a bit of olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 double handfuls of mixed greens (Mine was chard+kale+spinach)
  • 12 corn blue corn tortillas
  • 16 oz green enchilada sauce*
  • avo!! for serving. Obvi.

*this was the size of the jar I had—-it was delicious and was definitely not too much liquid. If you have an 8 oz can, that is also fine.

Cook yo’ lentils! I always use dried, as they’re super cheap in the bulk section and are very easy to cook—-bring water to a boil, dump in lentils, and simmer for about 20-25 minutes until they’re soft. Aaaaaanndddd… done!

Drain soaking cashews. In a food processor, process soaked cashews and 1/2 c salsa verde until nearly smooth. Add in lentils, diced bell pepper, sautéed mushrooms, sea salt, cayenne, and cumin. Process until combined. Add in mixed greens and process a bit more till everything is incorporated.

Preheat the oven to 350, and locate some kind of 9 by 13 pan. Pour about half of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of the pan. Take each tortilla and fill it lengthwise down the center with filling. Roll it up, and place it seam side down in the pan. If it breaks, who cares? It’ll be covered in sauce anyway…
Once all the tortillas are filled and nestled in next to their friends, pour the rest of the enchilada sauce evenly over the top. Bake for 30 minutes, and let cool for a few before serving. Serve with extra salsa and avo! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

Jessie thinks they're awesome too…

Jessie thinks they’re awesome too…

My cats are here to show me the way to inner bliss

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Let’s talk about cats.

Mark Twain once said, “Of all God’s creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat” (Notebook, 1894)… and how true this is. Cats are such enlightened little furry beings—we discussed this in my last post because Nosh definitely stares at me with his third eye. Definitely. What cat likes banana bread, lentil-apple sandwiches, and butternut squash pancakes unless he’s a guru?! Right. See?

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My cats share tidbits of enlightened wisdom with me every day. For instance… Obviously, inner peace can be achieved easily by a five hour nap on the heater vent, followed by a massive stretch and a round of kibble hockey… and then the search for a warm human to nap on for the next hour. And… repeat. Ohmmm. Inner peace.

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They also are excellent reminders to live in the moment. Mine always do. Picture this: I am cooking. In the kitchen. There are two pairs of eyes staring at me incessantly. Those eyes are very clearly saying: “In this moment, I want snacks. My kibble is in the laundry room. Why aren’t you walking over there? Snacks are for this moment. And then for the moment a moment from now. And then you will let me outside, and I will eat some bugs in a very enlightened manner to illustrate the interconnectedness of the universe”. You see how wise they are? It’s mind boggling.

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In the next life I’m coming back as a cat. A real cat, not just as a really bendy human with cat friends. Because that way I can achieve inner peace by napping for the majority of the day, eating a few bugs, and then finding a human to sleep on. That sounds like a pretty fabulous proposition, doesn’t it?!

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My cats do yoga and have kitty chakras. It’s okay, you’re allowed to be jealous.

In the short term, feel free to make this pizza and achieve a small measure of enlightened gastronomical wisdom. In a pinch (and in your lack of wise cat friends), it’ll do.

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Vegan Pizza on a Pumpkin Crust

This pizza surprised me! It came together quite fast, with things I had lurking around in the pantry. It was perfect for lunch and leftovers. The crust is gluten free (and can be nut free), made with pumpkin puree. The sauce is veggietastic and delicious—and vibrantly green! Vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free (could be nut free with all cornmeal and no almond flour). Both crust and sauce loosely adapted from Wholehearted Eats, here!

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For the crust:

  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed+4 tbsp water
  • 3 c pumpkin puree (2 cans worth)
  • 1/2 c almond flour
  • 1/2 c cornmeal
  • 3/4 c garbanzo bean flour
  • 1/8 c nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • a few good grinds of black pepper
  • 1.25 tsp dried oregano

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 c raw cashews, soaked for at least 10 minutes and drained
  • 2 c raw spinach, packed
  • 1.5 c frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1/4 c nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • scant 1/4 tsp salt

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Preheat oven to 425, and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In  a small bowl, combine 2 tbsp ground flaxseed and 4 tbsp water. Set aside for the time being. In a large bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, almond flour, cornmeal, garbanzo bean flour, nutritional yeast, 1 tbsp flaxseed, sea salt, pepper, and oregano. Stir in soaked flax. Spread the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet, making a roughly oblong-type shape (or not, whatever floats your boat) with edges a bit thicker than the middle. Bake for just about 30 minutes, until the center is set and the edges are just beginning to brown (you should be able to peel it off the parchment paper).

While the crust is baking, make the sauce! In a food processor, whirl together soaked cashews , spinach, peas, nutritional yeast, olive oil, basil, and salt. I highly suggest tasting and adjusting as you go, it’s much more fun that way. Puree until the sauce is chunk-free and smooth.

When the crust is done, spread sauce around evenly, and top with veggies of choice. I used sautéed arugula, bell peppers, and zucchini, but use whatever you have on hand. Bake for another 5 minutes, then let cool for a minute or two before slicing and serving. I found that a sprinkle of salted, roasted cashews added just the right crunch and made a nice garnish.

Leftovers store well and taste equally delicious the next day! I stored mine in a glass continuer in the fridge.

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A little cheese with your vegan risotto?

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Stop the presses!

Something savory?! What the what?

But this was amazing, so I had to share. I totally made risotto in less than an hour (And then I made cookies. All within that same hour) And the risotto was vegan. And then I put cheese on it. Don’t judge me, I love me some cheese (Life would be soooo boring without cheese, no?).  All an excellent use of my Monday, I might add.

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I’m not feeling particularly wordy today, so a short post it is. But the recipe is fantastic and was very well received… sooooo since it’s dinner time in my part of the world, this is directed at those of you over here on the west coast with me: y’all should head to the kitchen with your laptop. Right…about…now! You know you want to…

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Vegan Cashew ‘Risotto’

This recipe is slightly adapted from the Whole Foods site, which is awesome as they have some bomb stuff! Served 4, with leftovers for 2-3. This came together really quickly, and is totally nutritious and sooo delicious. It’s economical too, with most ingredients being something you’d have on hand, or that is inexpensive.

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 c raw cashews
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 c unsweetened almond milk (soy, rice, or dairy okay too)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (I used 1.5 frozen cubes, each cube=1 clove)
  • 3/4 c low-sodium veggie broth
  • 20 oz frozen brown rice (which equated to one package. I used frozen as it’s precooked, lessening my cook time)
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh sage
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh marjoram
  • ground cracked pepper, to taste

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Soak cashews in just enough water to cover, for a few hours or overnight (I left mine overnight).

Peel, seed, and slice the squash. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat, then add squash and boil until fork tender (4-5 minutes). Take out about a cup of squashlet cubes for later, and let the rest boil until very soft, about another five minutes. Remove squash from water and set aside.

Drain cashews, and add them to a blender (if you have a non-crap one, or a food processor like me if your blender is worthless) with the very soft squash, cinnamon, sea salt, and milk bev. Blenderize or process until smooth.

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Heat a large saute pan with some olive oil over medium heat. Add in garlic and onions once hot, and let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are just beginning to brown. Add in broth, frozen rice, and reserved cup of squash cubes, and cook for another few minutes, still stirring (it’s risotto, after all…). Stir in blenderized mix still sitting in your blender*, followed by the minced sage and marjoram. I added just a wee bit more salt here, as well as pepper. Cook for several more minutes, until the sauce reduces a bit and the risotto thickens slightly (6 to 8 minutes more). Remove from heat and stir in more pepper, if desired.

*the original recipe called for 2.5 c of squash cubes. I definitely had waaaay more than that since I went ahead and used the whole (rather large) squash, so when I added the cashew mixture to the risotto, I didn’t use it all (probably about 3/4 of it). Any more and the risotto would have been too soupy—use your judgement based on how large your squash is, and how much liquid your rice absorbs. I love the sauce anyway, as it makes great dip for veggies or over a salad, so I was happy to have 1+ cups left over!

Garnish. Serve. Eat. Love!

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Get those balls rolling…

BALLS!

Okay… so I finally did it.

Apparently I’ve jumped onto the balls bandwagon.

Not THAT kind (pshhh—get your mind out of the gutter); THIS kind!

and then there was one.

Except to me they’re really like healthful no-bake cookies. But in ball form. Because I don’t really use these for energy, let’s be real… but they’re perfect snackies for when you want something kinda sorta sweet but good for you all at the same time. But not dessert. A ball.

Besides, saying BALLSSSSS is fun! Try it: just make sure there’s no one around, they might look at you a little funny.

And they’re fun to stack, and roll around…

all by its lonesome

Let’s face it, I have yoga brain after my class this morning. Yes, I know the class was finished at 11 and I had a chai afterwards and should be fully functional by now (at 4:15 pm), buuttt my brain says… NO. Apparently we’re having a small tantrum today: it’s fuzzy Thursday. Acceptable, I suppose, for my day off. Good thing I don’t have to do anything more strenuous than go grocery shopping (oh wait. That required efficient decision making.whoops, FAIL) and photograph balls. Tee hee.

yum yum yum

Anywayyy. I digress. These balls are delicious and easy and come together in a snap. They’re a little on the crumbly side and excellent to grab on the way out the door (just don’t get crumbs all in your car; oh wait… I already did that).

I suppose you could call them blobs… but balls is more fun!

Balls balls balls:

aerial shot!

No-Bake Energy Balls

Ever so slightly adapted from Running to the Kitchen, here! I doubled the recipe and got 18, since I’ve made a single recipe before and we fight over them…

  • 1 c raw cashews
  • 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 4 tbsp nut butter (I’ve used all peanut, half peanut/half almond, both are good!)
  • 3 tbsp dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Couldn’t be simpler: chuck nuts into your food processor. Pulverize until they’re a fine powder. Add in oats and pulse again. Add everything else (nut butter, chocolate chips, chia, maple, and vanilla), and pulse until it all comes together. Form/roll into balls and store in the fridge. Easy money.

it looks like…a rock?!

For when it’s too hot to wear clothes, much less bake…

mmm, frosty goodness

Ew.

It’s been one of those weeks where you get up and think… do I really have to put clothes on today? Dis.Gust.Ing. Too hot to live, let alone bake. I really am a pacific northwesterner in this regard: hot weather makes me nutty. Today I sort of decided to stick it to the weather and go take a hot yoga class, since I’d been sweating all day anyway. Surprisingly, it was a great idea: maybe there is something to that ayurvedic  idea of eating hot foods on a hot day? Huh. Anyway. After said hot yoga class, all I wanted was a dunk in cold water and one of these.

yum.

Yes.

No bake, for the WIN.

The solution for when it’s too hot to do much of anything and turning on the oven (or really even the stove, let’s be real here) turns into a capital offense. I had grilled cheese for dinner last night (although I did go gourmet with some sauteed veggies, ha) since I was so unmotivated to do much of anything except watch other people (i.e. Olympians) be ridiculously fit. Whatever, I made up for it with my yoga today, so there. And with these bars. These are FAB. And healthy, which is a bonus considering most no-bake items seem to involve some form of strange food product like cool-whip. Let’s not go there, shall we? Back to these:

cooooconut

Mmmm. Banana coconut bars on a nutty date crust. Naturally sweet and so frostily delicious. Bonus points for being gluten free and vegan, as well as refined sugar free. You also get a healthy dose of magnesium from the cashews, calcium from the almond butter, healthy medium-chain fatty acids from the coconut, and potassium from the banana. See? It’s like a complete summer meal in a bar (welllll…sort of). Wheee! Squat and gobble to your heart’s content, I won’t tell… even if you do it in a sports bra and running shorts because, like I said, it’s too hot to live or bother to look decent. Or to blog… this is all I got today!

drippy. LOVE.

Vegan Banana-Coconut Bars

I slightly adapted these from the DAMY health blog, here! These are frosty and best when straight out of the freezer. Easy to make, they come together in a snap and set up decently quickly, satisfying all kinds of crazy summer cravings (Besides, they’re healthy to boot!)

Poke around and scrounge up the following:

For the crust:

  • 1/2 c raw cashews
  • scant 1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 c pitted dates, chopped into smallish pieces
  • a tbsp or two of water, if the crust needs a little help to come together

For the topping:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • scant 1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut+ some for sprinkling
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 c organic almond butter
  • 1/4 c light coconut milk

look! another one materialized!

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together cashews, coconut, and date pieces until the dough comes together, with pieces of nuts intact. Add a tablespoon or two of water if it needs a little help. Spread this mixture in the bottom of a lightly greased pan (mine was 9″ square, making thinnish bars), flattening it out as you go. In your food processor once again, blend the topping ingredients, scraping down the sides occasionally, until smooth. Pour the topping on top of your crust, and use a spatula to spread it out evenly. Top with some reserved coconut, and cover with plastic wrap or foil (bonus points for foil, it’s recyclable!). Let set for at least 2ish hours before slicing (it should be firm). Store in the freezer!

Love tasty food. Eat. Feel magically cooler… ohmmmm.

eeeeeatmeeeee

one of the nicer parts of warm weather: these are all from my back yard!

Tart-tastic Antioxidants!

mmm, antioxidants!

I’m feeling less than creatively humorous today…It must be on account of all of the holiday sweets I’ve been consuming lately. Oops. Whatever, that’s not stopped me from baking like a crazy! Really, does anything ever stop me? … Correct answer: No.

BUT.

Bring on the healthy (ish) dessert! I win, I win!! Delicious AND nutritious (or hey, I can at least tell myself that, right?!). I sort of needed a break from all of the layer cakes. A short break, mind you, but a break none the less. In comes the tart! This tart is sort of a combination of a rice pudding and a tart crust, but it’s vegan! Which is awesome, as I’d like to get into more vegan baking (I find it intriguing). Besides, I LOVE rice pudding, and this definitely qualifies. It’s also really akin to a sticky rice dessert, which I ALSO LOVE (are we seeing a trend here?!), which therefore also makes it delicious.

On the nutritious side, it has a mostly minimal amount of fat in it—coconut oil is good for you, anyway! It also is made with black rice (sometimes known as Forbidden Rice, as only the emperor of China was allowed to eat it for the benefit of his longevity), which has more of the antioxidant antohcyanin than blueberries! It’s high in fiber, iron, and an excellent source of minerals. AND Kind of can’t go wrong, when I’m eating antioxidants for dessert! No wonder the emperor was so protective of his rice. But the common people have it now, so ha! Besides all that, it is a gorgeous purple color. Which makes my eyes AND my stomach happy. Everyone wins. Including the gremlins that hang out in my stomach, as we know they loooove color.

But wait. There is even more nutritionalness to be found in this dessert! The crust is made with whole grains and cashews (which contain the same oleic acid–monounsaturated fatty acid found in olive oil), and coconut oil, which is insanely good for you (the lauric acid is an antioxidant, among a million other things).

Okaaayyy. Enough with the nutrition lesson. I just really had to convince you how good this is for you… so that you’ll go home and make it. It’s fab, you won’t regret it. And then eat a slice. Or two. Or five. And revel in the fact that you’re making your body happy! It will thank you later :)

mmm, antioxidants

Black Rice Tart

From NeverHomeMaker, original here! (and their blog is fab, check it out!). Makes one tart.

For the crust:

  • 1/3 c raw cashews
  • 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 c coconut oil (because it’s good for youuu!)
  • 1/8 tsp/a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp lavender (we grow our own)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

For the sticky rice

  • 2 c water
  • 1 c black rice, uncooked
  • 1/3 c maple syrup
  • 1 can of coconut milk (I used light from Trader Joe’s and it turned out fine!)
  • 1/3 c unsweetened coconut flakes

Whatcha do!

Preheat the oven to 325, and lightly grease a tart pan (or a pie dish—my tart pan is in Salem, so that’s what I used).

In a food processor, process the cashews and 1/4 c rolled oats until finely ground. Add the rest of the oats, lavender and salt, pulsing to combine. I left some slightly larger chunks. Pour into a medium sized bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the coconut oil. Once melted, stir in vanilla and brown sugar, and simmer over a low flame for 2 to 3 minutes. Mine looked weirdly separated/congealed, but turned out fine. Pour the hot syrup over the dry ingredients, and combine thoroughly. Press the crust into your pan of choice, making sure to cover the bottom and go up the sides a ways. Bake for 5 minutes, then let cool. When cool enough, let it set in the refrigerator.

While the crust is cooling, start the water for the rice. When it boils, add rice, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Add coconut milk, maple syrup, and coconut flakes, and continue to cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes more. I stirred continuously (it makes for meditative thinking time, hehe), but I’m not entirely sure this is necessary—occasional stirring would likely be okay. Transfer the pudding to a bowl, and let cool. Chill briefly in the fridge before using. Once chilled, pour the pudding into the tart shell, and chill until serving. I topped mine with more shredded coconut.

It was deeeelicous! Mine had a little trouble coming out of the dish cleanly—my crust was rather sticky. Next time… more coconut oil to grease the dish. It was a bit more like a crumble than a tart slice, but ridiculously tasty nonetheless, so I wasn’t complaining ;)

The Siren Song of Dead Bananas

mmm, buttercream!

Hmmp. Tis the season, indeed.

FOR CAKE! Ha. Prepare yourself. This is only cake one of two. For now, anyway. One never can tell in this household. Wait. Let’s be real. It’s ALWAYS the season for cake! But I have more of an excuse now, hooray! Hehe.

Anyway. This cake was supposed to be the dessert for company, but I decided to make it early, because hey, why have one cake when I can have two?! So there you have it. Cake greed and several dead-ish looking bananas won out. Totally not my fault—those bananas were singing their siren song from the counter, looking all dejected and spotty. Like, “Come over and eeeeeaaaat meeeeeeee, I am tastyyyyyyy and fermentedddd!” Well actually, if a banana said that to me, I would a) run screaming out of the house, and b)…yeah. Run screaming. Anyway, these particular bananas didn’t speak to me, thankfully, but notified me via their spottiness that they would prefer to hang with some buttercream in a cake.  Of course they would want to go in a cake! I mean, I could have made banana bread, but psshhh really? Why make banana bread when the holiday season gives me the excuse to cover everything that comes out of my oven in buttercream?

omnomnom

See? Cake.

This particular one was delicious to the max. Banana cardamom for the cake (I love banana cake already, so it wasn’t exactly a hard sell), with browned butter buttercream. WHaaaaattt. Browned butter makes everything so much better. Because there were only three of us, I decided to make a baby cake! I made half the batch, and then used a glass to cut out three layers from the 9″ cake pan… which of course left cake scraps to be eaten, yesssss! It was adorable, if I do say so. AND delicious. AND I’m on cake-making duty this Wednesday, which is excellent as this one is tragically gone.The more, the merrier!

Banana Cardamom Cake with Browned Butter Buttercream

Adapted from here! I’m including the full recipe; however, if you want a baby, halvsies cake, make half the cake and half the frosting. I had more than enough to frost the cute little three layer cake, plus the leftover cake pieces.

Cake!

  • 2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (I might play with adding more, next time—I felt the flavor could have been more pronounced)
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
  • scant 1/2 c brown sugar, loose (not packed)
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c greek yogurt (I used nonfat)
  • 2 c mashed ripe bananas, about 5ish, depending on the size
  • toasted cashews, for garnish (or, if you like nuts in your cake, you can add them to the batter… I don’t, so I left them out)

Frostinggggg!

  • 3/4 c unsalted butter
  • 3 c powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4-6 tbsp milk (I used 1%)

baby cake!

Preheat your oven to 350. Grease and flour your pans of choice, (it would be two 8 or 9″ for a two layer, full recipe), and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, and cardamom. In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth. Beat in sugars until light in color and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla, then yogurt, and then mashed bananas. Without throwing flour everywhere, add in dry ingredients and beat until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between your prepared pans, and bake for 25-35 minutes. Mine was done more around the 35 minute mark, as it’s dense cake. It wasn’t dry at all though—just perfectly done just shy of 35. Let cool in the pan for 10ish minutes, and then turn out onto cooling racks.

While the cake is cooling, brown the butter in a medium saucepan. You’ll know it’s browning, as it starts to turn to an amber color, and smells FANTASTIC. When it’s finished, pour it into the bowl you’re using for frosting—this keeps it from cooking too much more and burning. Whisk in sugar, vanilla, and 3 tbsp of milk, until smooth. Gradually beat in enough milk to take it to a buttercream texture (you’ll know when it gets there—it’s lots thicker and spreadable). Frost cake when its completely cool. Garnish with toasted cashews and enjoy indulging :) Tis the season!

All day I dream of quinoa…

I have a functional computer!

This is good, since a couple of days ago it was rather touch and go… but we seem to be okay now. Viruses. Pshhhh. WHAT is the point?! And viruses that wipe ALL of the programs off your computer, meaning it needs a factory reboot and complete reinstall?! Really?! Yeeeesh. BUT, despite all those ridiculous hackers, I have a fully functional computer. Which is excellent, as I have some really fabbity fab things to share with you, huzzah!

Kira and I are on a total roll, in our savory dinners (and not so savory, buahah). We’ve had a string of SUPER TASTY dinners, which then translate into ridiculously exciting lunches. I know, I know. I’m bragging. But whatever, I’m being totally factual! Just ask Kira :]

You know your food is good when you eat breakfast, and then immediately after spend the next bit of your day (the bit where you’re sitting in the Theories and Methodologies of Art History) daydreaming about what’s in your lunch. I may or may not have done that today… oops. But in all fairness to Ricardo, I totally WAS paying attention in class… most of the time. Besides, I’m sure Aby Warburg would have been proud—I was finding associations within the artworks relating to culinary adventures. Which can help me contextualize the painting, according to my personal background. So there!

Anyway, today’s lunch was definitely daydream worthy, as it involved bits of last night’s epic dinner! Delicious? Check. Healthy? Check. Relatively fast? Check. Affordable? Check check. Besides, it was a lovely fall dish, perfectly timed, since Salem has apparently decided to pull out the big guns. It was hovering around thirty degrees when I left my apartment this morning… I don’t think my car heated up until I was at school. At which point I had to get out into the freezing fog again, but lalalala, I have delicious leftovers for lunch! The freezing-ass cold can’t ruin my mood, lalalala fabbity fab fab!

So. Without further useless blather, here’s the recipe!

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Quinoa, Feta, Cashews and Sausage

Adapted by yours truly from Whole Living Magazine. Serves 2, for dinner plus a bit of leftover stuffing.

Food-type items needed:

  • 1 acorn squash (the green lumpy kind)
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/4 c crumbled feta
  • 1/4 c chopped cashews
  • 1 sausage of choice (we used Trader Joe’s Sundried Tomato Chicken sausage, they’re tasty and healthy!)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Firstly!

Preheat the oven to 425. Wrestle your acorn squash to the ground attempting to cut in half. Just kidding. Except actually that’s kind of what we did… those buggers are reeeeally hard to cut though, even with your trusty chef’s knife, AND the combined strength of you and your roomie. I speak from experience, trust me on this. Anyway, once you get your squash cleaved in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Brush the cut side with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast, cut side down, for 15-20 minutes, until tender and caramelized. Ours was about 20 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, cook quinoa. Bring the quinoa and the water to a boil in a small pot, and then reduce to a simmer and cook (covered) until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Let cool (or not), and fluff with a fork. In a separate skillet, brown the sausage (ours were precooked, so all we had to do was let it brown). In a bowl, combine feta, cashews, vinegar, 1 tbsp olive oil, chopped sausage, and quinoa. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Divide among squash. Eat with leftover boston brown bread and butter, and be one happy camper :]

And THEN, eat the leftovers. Preferably with a cooked sweet potato and some extra veggies. YUMMMM. Perfect daydreaming material, hehehe!

Super Squash Strikes Again!

No, that is NOT ranch dressing. Just in case you were wondering.

That’s right.

You can’t escape my obsession with squash for long.

I’m not orangey yet, believe it or not. I’m sure we’re getting there, between the amount of pumpkin, squash and pumpkin derivatives I’ve been consuming (not to mention carrots and bell peppers. oops.) Whatever, I like my beta carotene and Vitamin A.

Lucky for you, (and me), squash is SUPER SQUASH. As in, SUPER good for you! It basically deserves a cape and some spandex for full-on superfood status. Full of phytonutrients AND antioxidants AND vitamins, it is probably one of the best winter foods out there. Besides, it’s versatile and delicious, so why WOULDN’T you eat it?! Especially when I’ve discovered tasty recipes for you. I sort of like to imagine a butternut squash chunk with a cape on flying around antioxidizing the crap out of free radicals, providing anti-inflammatory support, and blocking the formation of cholesterol in cells, all while providing thorough gastronomical enjoyment to the being consuming it (Ideally me). Talk about a super squash.

Incidentally, I read that b-nut super squash contains THREE HUNDRED and FORTY FIVE percent of your daily Vitamin A requirements, per cup. Yup, you read that right. No wonder I have fighter-pilot vision, it must be all that Vitamin A and retinol.

Whoaaaa. I just reread the last two paragraphs. Yeeesh. I am SUCH a nerd. But I am totally ok with that, it’s part of my charm, right? Hehe.

So, onto the recipe! This is something a bit different—Kira and I both agreed that it was very unlike anything either of us had ever made (in terms of its flavor profile). It was also delicious (because I would never share with you something that wasn’t, of course!). It also steams the squash, which, fun fact, helps it retain its nutrient density (so that you get all 345% of that Vitamin A).

Middle Eastern Egg Noodles with Squash, Yogurt, and Cashews

Adapted from Delicious Living, which I picked up from Whole Foods at some point and clipped the recipe.

Supposedly this serves 6, but we made half the recipe and had waaay more than what would feed 3 people. I’ll list our measurements :)

Food type items:

  • 3/8 c plain, low-fat yogurt
  • 1 clove of garlic (or frozen chunk, if you like the Trader Joe’s version, like me)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint (or mint tea, if you can’t find regular mint…)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • a good shake of cinnamon
  • a few grindings of pepper
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 butternut squash, cubed into 1″ pieces (ish) (I am so NOT that exact)
  • 1/2 c water
  • egg noodles, to feed your crowd
  • 1/3 c coarsely chopped cashews (or more, if you’re me and you’re nuts for nuts, haaaa) (or just NUTS)

Firstly: Combine yogurt, garlic, and salt in a bowl. Crush mint between your fingers and add to yogurt. Whisk until smooth, then cover and let it chillax in the fridge.

Secondly: Heat oil in a skillet (or straight sided saute pan) on medium. Add onion, and cook until onion browns, about 6 minutes or however long it takes your particular onion. Stir in coriander, cumin, cinnamon, and pepper. Add tomatoes, squash, and water. Cover and simmer over medium heat about 15 minutes (according to the recipe—ours was probably closer to 20 or 22 minutes), until the squash is tender.

In the meantime, cook yo’ noodles. Usually my egg noodles are done after about 7 minutes. Drain. Toss pasta with squash sauce, and then plate. Drizzle with yogurt sauce and liberally sprinkle (or douse) with cashews.

*Alternatively: the recipe orinigally calls for a can of no-sodium added crushed tomatoes, but we didn’t have this. Besides, we decided we’d rather use fresh ingredients if possible! So in went a small carton of cherry tomatoes, hooray! Also, the original specified walnuts, which we also didn’t have. Whatever, I prefer cashews. Either way, whatever you have!

Incidentally, if you’re interested, the recipe includes nutrition facts! I just thought I’d share (though don’t expect this on a regular basis, because a) I’m too lazy, and b) I don’t calorie count!)

Per serving: 358 cals, 11 g fat (3 g monounsaturated, 6 g polyunsaturated, 1 g saturated), 1 mg cholesterol, 12 g proteinm 51 g carbs, 7 g fiber, and 86 mg sodium.

Super squash strikes a blow against free radicals everywhere!