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The title reflects my exact emotion when I was standing in the rice and pasta isle at the grocery store today.  Its one of the many vegan desserts that taste better than its conventional counterparts…and major bonus, its lower in fat..hooray for skinny jeans! ( I really don’t know why I wrote skinny jeans, I pretty much wear standard mom issue sweat pants or shorts….maybe because “Hooray for baggy sweatpants!” doesn’t paint the same picture.)
Anyway, I digress.  Its like almost embarrassingly easy to make, and if you’re like me, you can totally rationalize eating it for breakfast.

What you need:

  • 3/4 cup jasmine rice
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 cups almond milk (or other nondairy milk)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or 1/3 cup agave nectar, if using agave, remember to scale back the milk a tad to compensate for the water content in the nectar)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg

What you do:

In a large saucepan, bring salted water and rice to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until water is absorbed and rice is fluffy.
Add the almond milk and sugar to the rice and increase heat to medium. Stirring frequently, cook for 30–40 minutes until the mixture is thick and creamy.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Pour into 7–8 ramekins (or coffee cups, because come on, why would I have ramekins…really?) and cover with plastic wrap if you don’t like pudding skin. 

Nut Butters

If your vegan (like me), raw all or part of the time ( again, like me) or just plain lazy ( very, very much like me) you know that nut butters are a great simple way to get a major nutrient/protein punch without having to cook.  But, have you ever thought about making your own nut butters? It really couldn’t be easier, and if you eat raw, it’s pretty much the way to go unless you have the ultimate natural foods market where you live.
I don’t, so I make my own raw nut butters.  Sometimes a single nut, sometimes I get crazy and mix 2 kinds together.

I am not even gonna bother with a regular recipe format because its that easy!  Dump 2 cups of your favorite RAW (not roasted, salted or messed with in anyway) nut into a food processor and let it rip for 12, yeah you read that right, 12 minutes.  It is going to look like this at first :

Then its it going to get lumpy, don’t worry, just keep scraping down the sides of the food bowl.  Then its going to form into a ball and make you think you have done something wrong, again, don’t worry.  A few more minutes the nuts will release all their oil and it will smooth out and look just right.

Remember, nuts butter has oil, oil goes rancid… refrigerate that sucker.

Sweet Sassafras, what have I done?

I bake and cook to relieve stress, make things for my children to enjo….Oh hell, I bake because I like to eat, plain and simple.  I like to eat comfort foods, baked stuff and candy…lots of candy.  Speaking of which, I thought it was necessary to make some Almond Joys today.  No, there is no special occasion, just a lack of chocolate, almonds and coconut at my immediate disposal.  So I remedied that.  I remedied that hard.  Visit Joy the Baker for recipe.  ( tweaked it a little to accommodate what I had handy.  I also made a few sans almonds)

Yeah, that’s my hand…and what may or may not be my 4th or 5th candy.

Don’t Make These….

No, really you should totally make these.  In fact, stop what you are doing right now and make them.  Are you making them yet?

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls (No Bake, and No Egg of course)

What you need:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (i know we’re not baking them, it’s for flavor)
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt or applesauce or peanut butter (I used yogurt)
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips, melted for dipping

What you do:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment (or with a large bowl and a wooden spoon) cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about three minutes in the machine.  Beat in yogurt or applesauce or peanut butter along with the vanilla extract and stir to combine.  
Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Add all at once to the butter and sugar mixture and stir until incorporated.  Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts.  
Scoop large spoonfuls or ice cream scoops onto a  waxed paper lined cookie sheet.  You can spear each dough ball with a cute plastic fork or a popsicle stick, or just leave them in balls, like I did.  Place in the freezer overnight or until frozen, at least three hours.
When ready to dip the balls, melt chocolate chips in a small saucepan over a low flame or in the microwave.  Remove balls from the freezer and dip into warm chocolate.  Return to the lined cookie sheet and return to the freezer to harden.  Serve cold from the freezer.  

P.S. Recipe from Joy the Baker.  You should check out her Blog, its freaking heaven on your screen.

Butternut Heaven

I promised a butternut squash soup recipe, so I must deliver. There are SOOOOO many versions of this soup.  Some have apples, some add curry, some even have potato.  I make mine in much the same fashion as I would if I was making roasted squash for the holidays.  It warms me from the inside out with cinnamon, allspice and a touch of nutmeg.  Add, subtract, substitute as you like. Enjoy!

I add a dash of cream and allspice for serving.

 What you need:

  • 1 large Butternut Squash ( I don’t bother to weigh, I go by size)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • salt  and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter

What you do:

Preheat your oven to 400.  Cut squash in half lengthwise.  Scoop out seeds and stringy pulp.  Lightly brush the cut sides with the olive oil (this will help them stay moist and not dry out)  Place on a baking sheet cut sides up and roast from 45-60 minutes depending on size of squash.  You can tell if its done if you can easily stab it with your fork. 

Let it cool slightly, enough so you can easily peel the skin off.  Some people would rather scoop the flesh out with a spoon, but I’m not at all delicate, so I get my hands right in there. 

Break it into pieces and put it in a food processor or blender.  Turn it on and let it rip, you want your soup to be smooth, so it can blend for a while.  Add about a cup of the chicken stock while blending to thin it out.
Once it smooth and lump free, put it in a sauce pan and heat on medium.  Add the rest of the chicken stock, and mix.  Add all of the spices and sugar and mix.  I let mine cook together for while, 20 minutes or so, so that the flavors mix and jive.  Just before serving, add the milk and butter and whisk it all together.  Bowl it up and dig in! I serve mine with a little cream or creme fraiche with a  pinch of allspice on top. Bowl it up and dig in! 

P.S I was asked for a crock pot version.  So here goes:
 All the ingredients are the same, but instead of roasting your own squash use 4 or 5 10 oz packages frozen squash (enough to equal about 3 lbs.) thawed.  Add the squash, stock, and spices to crock pot.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours, making sure to stir occasionally.  Before serving, add the sugar, butter and milk and cook on high for 10-15 minutes.  Serve it up!  It freezes great and can be reheated again in the crock pot or on the stove!

P.S.S- Super picky thing 1 and thing 2 gobble this soup up, and always ask for seconds.

Dinner- check, Dishes- check, Tea on the couch- check check check

I have a very simple approach to my cooking.  Whether its for guests, or just for us…basic is best.  That’s not to say that I don’t bring out the big guns on Holidays or special occasions.  I just think that if things get to complicated, its not enjoyable… and if it’s not enjoyable, whats the point?  I don’t, however, have a weekly schedule of dinners.  What I do have, is a few standbys that I go back to time and time again, always with a little tweaking and improvisation.  One of these standbys is chicken cutlets.  Chicken is fundamental, but can be morphed into some incredible dishes.  I use thin sliced chicken cutlets for the majority of my chicken meals, because its quicker cooking, a more appropriate serving for the rugrats, and breaded cutlets can be used in a TON of stuff.  Here is my ranch and Parmesan chicken cutlet recipe.  You can add or subtract spices and flavorings as you see fit.  The outcome will always be delicious and easy. 

What you need:

  • 1 package chicken cutlets (you can buy them that way, or pound chicken breast)
  • 1 package powdered ranch dressing mix (1/3 cup if you buy it in bulk like I do)
  • 1 1/2 cup PLAIN breadcrumbs ( I always have plain and Italian style in my pantry)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese ( I buy a chunk and grate my own, it has soooo much more flavor and pre-grated!!)
  • 2 eggs
  • olive oil (or vegetable oil)
What you do:
Heat on medium, enough oil to thoroughly coat the bottom of your pan ( I always pan fry in cast iron, but that’s your choice)

In a shallow dish, I use pie plates, mix the ranch dressing mix, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.  In another dish, lightly beat the eggs. 

I make my own breadcrumbs.  Uses old bread and saves me $$$

Dip the cutlets in the egg, then lightly dredge in the bread crumb mixture, cover both sides completely ** if you use one hand only for the egg, and the other only for the dry ingredients, you’ll minimize the junk that can build up on your fingers** Then add only a few cutlets at a time to the pan.

Cook for about 3-4 minutes, than turn.  The second side should cook 3-4 minutes too.  Since you might have to cook these in batches, your second and subsequent batches may be a little more browned that your first, that’s because of the smudge left behind in the oil, so don’t fret!  The result is crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and has a ton of flavor.  They are perfect the next day for sandwiches, and are even good eaten cold!

A plate of goodness!