Monday, January 31, 2011

The New Willy Wonka!

Minus the golden tickets though. And my chocolate factory isn't as awesome, but Johnny Depp will be making an appearance! =]

My concentration will be more on chocolate, then other yummy candy like everlasting gob stoppers, bottle caps, or nerds. I enjoy, more like love, chocolate so that was my concentration for my candy that I made over the weekend.

I use to make these treats all the time, but then I got into baking cookies. So I was thinking to myself the other day, self (haha)- why not make some treats again? So I did just that...

Chocolate (and carob)  Raisin Clusters, Raisin Coconut Cluster, Cashew Balls, and Peanut Butter Candies:

6oz chocolate chips (I use grain sweetened)
6oz carob chips (unsweetened)
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup coconut, toasted
2 tablespoons cashew butter
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
splash vanilla extract
1/4 cup peanut butter chips

First, toast the coconut.

Melt chocolate and carob, if using, over a double boiler in batches, about 2 ounce at a time.
Add in 1/2 cup of the raisins into the melted chocolate and stir until the are all coated nicely. Take a fork and dish out small amounts onto a silpat mat or onto wax paper over a cookie sheet.

Melt more chocolate then add in the coconut and the rest of the raisins. Drop those on the covered cookie sheet as well.

In a separate bowl mix the 1/4 cup of flax seed meal with the pb. (I got this idea from another blog I follow. My pb and flax mix didn't form together so that I could form balls out of it, so instead I improvised.) I then added the pb/flax mix into the melted chocolate. I then dropped small amounts of that onto the cookie sheet. I topped each of the dollops with a few peanut butter chips.

Then I was like all like hey lets try that concept with cashew butter and see what happens, so I did. I mixed the cashew butter, flax, and a splash of vanilla extract. That worked better than the pb did, so I rolled it into four balls. I dipped those, quickly, into melted chocolate and then placed them onto the cookie sheet.

Place the cookie sheet into the fridge for awhile so that everything can harden.
Keep the candy refrigerated, only because you melted the chips so they no longer have the same properties and may melt at room temp.

I think the pb that I used was my downfall to it being able to be rolled into balls. I used a no stir version. Next time I will try a different type, one that hardens after you stir in oil into it and place it in the fridge. The texture of the pb candy is a little gritty due to the flax meal, but they taste good. The flax adds a nuttier hint to them. I also make chocolate covered pretzels (I am just a salty sweet girl), strawberries, and grapes. Yes grapes and chocolate are so good.

What's For Dinner?
Thursday, January 27th

Sauteed spinach, black olives, roasted corn, peppers, some cheese, and salsa. I added my favorite spices: cumin, coriander, pepper, salt.

Friday, January 28th

Stir-fry eggplant, mushrooms, and cashews. I made my own sauce with soy sauce (low sodium), veggie broth, orange juice and zest, arrowroot. I added pepper, red pepper flakes and ground ginger to the eggplant and shrooms before I added the sauce. Then I let the sauce thicken. I then added in black sesame seeds and roasted cashews.

Saturday, January 29th

I hate those days when you can't figure out what your body is craving and nothing pops out at you to eat it, well it was one of those days (most girls will completely understand what the heck I am talking about!) So I ate carrots, cucumbers, two slices of green pepper, and edamame. What a fun, exciting meal =/

Sunday, January 30th
Out all day!! So I pigged out on kashi honey sesame crackers and apple rings at a friends after a trip to Stop&Shop. =] it was fun though!!

Monday, January 31st
"Tacos" with peppers, roasted corn, black bean and corn salsa, cheese, and guacamole.

I know I do not really need to explain the way I eat, what my diet is, or anything like that, but I would like to help people understand me a little bit more. So here is my

Food Declaration:
I am vegan in ways, but more of a vegetarian because true vegans would think down of me to call myself vegan and still use honey, drink cow's milk, and cheese. I only drink skim/ fat free organic milk. I eat reduced fat cheese, but only ones that I like (the types I have used in this blog).
I try to stay away from processed foods. Only a few convince things do I eat such as crackers but only because I have not tried to make my own yet! Wraps, which I have made but never turn out just right. Pretzels, I mean those crunchy type because I can make soft ones, and cereal, but that is a rarity in my diet. I really have to crave a bowl.
I eat whole grains. I bake my own bread, no store bought, but occasionally a try bakery bread is consumed. I do not eat pasta or white rice. Some whole wheat or brown rice pasta is ok or brown rice, but I really like different grains such as bulgar, quinoa, etc.
I love to cook/bake my own things from scratch. My cookies, brownies, bread, cake, muffins, pancakes, waffles, etc. are examples of my scratch making although I have only posted a few of these things.
I eat fresh things when I can. Fresh and organic fruits and vegetables are a staple in my diet. Canned just doesn't match up to fresh, but frozen is fine in my book.
I do buy dressings because I haven't tried making my own just yet.
No store bought soups- only my own, hummus- why it is easy to make, sauces- i do use canned tomatoes for some i feel canned tomato is ok as long as it is organic.
Also you have to read labels and understand the term organic.
I stay away from refined sugar. I use alternatives in my recipes like date sugar, agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup. I will only buy something if it uses evaporated cane juice crystals because those are an unrefined type of sugar that goes into the bloodstream slower than refined sugar.
No High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils, Mono-and Di-Glycerides, Food Dies/Colors, Artificial Flavor or Color, and if Natural Spices or Flavor is stated. Why not just tell me what exactly it is?? the partially hydrogenated oils and mono-and di- gycerides cause heat disease because they are trans fats.
I do use oils and fats as you have seen in previous posts.
I am very aware of the foods I eat.
I am only given one body and it is my temple, so I want to keep it for awhile and in the best shape I possibly can.

That is just about all I can think of at the moment. So yea. Any questions please feel free to ask! =]

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What A Nice Sister

As you all know I love to cook. I hadn't made dinner for my family in a while because I have been busy with my own stuff, so Monday I made my brothers dinner (my parents were working and going to a wine tasting, so they were not home for dinner). This was the dinner I had made for the butts (yes I call my brother butts as they call me debby =]).

Parmesan Crusted Fish with Broccoli and Lemon Garlic Pasta
(I wasn't able to get a picture of a finished plate because they just pile it on and eat)

For the fish:
4 tilapia filets
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons garlic powder (less if you aren't a big garlic lover)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a pan with nonstick spray.

Mix the cheese, garlic, pepper, and basil.

Place fish on pan. Top with the cheese mix,

then drizzle with some oil. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese browns.

For the pasta and sauce:
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon oil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup veggie broth (or chicken)
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
1/4 teaspoon dried basil (if you have fresh a few leaves would be nice)
pasta of choice

Heat a pan with oil.

Add garlic and allow to brown add the pepper.

Add in the wine, let it bubble for 2 minutes.

Add in the lemon juice and broth, allow that to simmer for 2 minutes.

Then add the cornstarch slurry and allow sauce to thicken. Add in the basil. Once the pasta is done, cook it to aldente because it will continue to cook with the sauce.

Drain the pasta, then add it to the sauce and put sauce on low heat.

For the broccoli:
I just bring water to a boil, add the broccoli then allow the water to just come back to a boil, then turn if off the heat and allow it to sit for 5 minutes to become tender. After I browned the garlic I poured off the excess oil and saved it, it was now delicious garlic oil, and I added it to the drained broccoli.

My brother and mom have also been pestering me to bake them a cake. A while ago my mom bought cake mixes (so she could make it, but I am against mixes, if you have all of the ingredients why not just use them to make it yourself??) so I whipped one up for them. Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. I wanted to make a layer cake, so I pulled out my two 8 inch pans and made the cake.

During assembly one of the cakes was too domed for me to place the top layer cake on it, so I trimmed it up. And then I had some left over cake. What to do with that?? I made cake truffles. Which are a spin off of cake pops that I have heard oh so much about. You crumble the cake, mix it with frosting, form them into balls, and dip into melted chocolate or melted candy. Wow-la cake truffles. My mom, brother, and mom's coworkers raved about them. So I will now have to try them in vegan form. Yummy!

What's For Dinner?
Monday, January 24th

Salad-spinach, roasted corn-asparagus-mushrooms, tomatoes, black olives, yellow peppers, with roasted red pepper dressing. I was surprised but I really liked this salad.

Tuesday, January 25th

Yet again another salad- spinach, pear, jicama, cucumbers, dried cranberries, and toasted almonds, with ginger dressing.

Wednesday, January 26th
Roasted veggie and parsley salad, but instead of cashews, this time I added carrots.

New are yet to come...promise!

I would still love some suggestions!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hummus Please

I love to make and eat hummus. You can make such a variety of different flavors, it is easy to make, and fun to eat. In the past I have made roasted asparagus, sun dried tomato (one of my favorites), roasted garlic and cumin, and just recently lemon and rosemary, a little Italian twist on the Mediterranean dip.

Lemon and Rosemary Hummus

4 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic, roasted
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup tahini
1 lemon, zested and juiced (about 1/4 cup juice)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 (pinch) teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 springs fresh parsley

In the food processor, add the beans, rosemary, spices, and tahini, and pulse a few times to start making the hummus.

Add in the lemon zest and half of the lemon juice, and continue to blend. Add the rest of the juice to make a smooth "paste" like texture. Once you get it to the desired consistence, add the parsley and pulse just to incorporate it, you do not really want to make the hummus green by chopping the parsley too fine.

I do not add oil to my hummus mainly because the tahini adds enough "fat" to the party, plus I find it makes the hummus too runny, I guess I am just more of a spread my hummus on foods rather than the usual hummus dip. So I am taking poetic license by saying this is a "hummus."

So I have been sick lately, and when I am sick I crave salads not soup, don't ask me why cause honestly I am not sure. I think it is craving Vitamin C. So I have been stocking up on oranges, papaya, persimmons, spinach, and other veggies- peppers, that are high in Vitamin C (ha I went to school for nutrition, so I do know somethings about food.)

Like I have told you all before I am on the hunt for a really peanut buttery tasting peanut butter cookies. So a friend at church gave me the idea of using some cashew butter with the peanut butter to add a richer nutty taste. I have a new love for cashew butter, but I am still developing a recipe that is going to blow my socks off. Yuppers.

What's For Dinner?
Tuesday, January 18th

I am not sure what to call this version of my never ending salads, but it has: avocado, tomatoes, roasted corn and peppers, black olives, parsley, and fresh lemon juice and zest. I had it with sun dried tomato wraps that I baked into chips.

Wednesday, January 19th
Roasted root veggies, cashew, and parsley salad.

Thursday, January 20th

Mushroom and tomato stew. I sauteed mushrooms and rosemary, added diced fire roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, my usually spices, fennel seeds, and parsley. I had the sundried tomato wraps with provolone cheese.

Friday, January 21st

Sweet potato platskis with toasted hazelnuts, and I made my own apple sauce:

Cinnamon Roasted Apple Sauce:

2 Macintosh apples, diced (I enjoy the the skin, so I left it on)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (I added more because I love cinnamon and am now pron to the spiciness of cinnamon)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss all of the ingredients together.

Spread onto a pan.
Roast for 20-25 minutes, until the apples are soft.
Place in a bowl and

mash with a potato masher.

Saturday and Sunday, January 22nd and 23rd
Salads with spinach, jicama, peppers, tomatoes, and carrots with ginger dressing.

Feel free if you do read any of my entries to leave a comment, ask a question, have any request of a recipe you would like me to try, a challenge for me, I am up for anything. I would love to hear from all of you!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dinner For Three Please

Like I promised, I made dinner for my mom, brother, and myself yesterday. It was something the three of us hadn't had in a long time. I didn't tell them what I was making because I wanted it to be a surprise, and yes it definitely was. They really loved the Spinach Stuffed Shells I made for them. I do believe I mentioned, if I didn't I will again, I do eat some cheeses. They have to be ones I like- as in fat free or reduced fat (they are just healthier for you!) shredded cheese, some "creamy" cheeses like ricotta, and only some that you would eat in a cheese tray like smoked Gouda. I really only like them melted, other wise I stay away from cheese, it is just not my favorite food. Well I made the stuffed shells with brown rice pasta, fresh spinach, and a tomato sauce that I doctored up. So here is the dinner:

Brown Rice Spinach Stuffed Shells

1 15 or 16 oz container ricotta cheese

1 16 oz bag fresh spinach
1 8oz box of brown rice pasta shells

1 can no added salt tomato sauce
1 2 cup bag of 4 cheese Italian Cheese blend

2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum
2 teaspoons arrowroot powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bowl a water in a big pot. Heat oil in a saute pan over medium high heat.

Add spinach to saute pan and wilt and add in 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

In a sauce pan, add the tomato sauce, along with the oregano, coriander, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1 teaspoon onion powder.

Let sauce simmer to develop flavors. After the sauce has simmered for 10 to 15 minutes, add in the parsley.

Add the pasta to bowling water and cook according to package directions (the brand was for 18 minutes).

In a medium sized bowl, place the ricotta cheese, 1/2 of the shredded cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the xanthum gum, arrowroot (if you eat eggs you do not have to use the xanthum gum or arrowroot because you can just add in 1 egg), and the spinach.

After the pasta is cooked, drain and rinse with cold water.

Place 1/4 cup or so of the sauce in the bottom of a baking dish, one that will fit the amount of pasta you wish to make, I used a 9 inch square pan.

Now start to fill the pasta with a tablespoon or so of the cheese filling.

I placed the shells face up in the pan because the shells aren't as big as usual (as in other brands) other wise place the shells open side down. Fill up the pasta and continue to place in the pan.

Top with remaining sauce and

the rest of the cheese. Bake 20 to 30 minutes,

until cheese is nice a browned on top. Enjoy!

It was nice to actually cook something again, like really cook. I know my other dinners are just usually fast get something cooked so I can eat meals, but this was satisfying and I missed meals like this. And I love, love, love browned bubbly cheese!! It is sooo good!! this filled me up just right.

That is it for now, except here was my breakfast today plums and pecans:
and a few black grapes.