Hi! I'm taking a little break and it might take me a few days to reply to comments and emails. I'll be back soon! :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mint Chip Ice Cream and Steamed Potatoes with a Minty Dressing

Slowpoke! That should be my nickname. Captain Slowpoke. Tomorrow is the last day to enter this month's SOS Kitchen Challenge and here I am entering just now, almost at the last minute. It's almost disgraceful! But still, I made a savory dish *and* a dessert, so I'm hoping that will earn me some brownie points. Or in this case minty points! Let's start with the savory for a change! :)

Steamed potatoes with herby mint dressing

This is the easiest dressing ever! It works great with steamed potatoes and it was also super tasty with my weekly baked tofu splurge. Assuming that you already know how to steam potatoes, here is the recipe for the herby mint dressing.

Mint and Parsley Dressing For Steamed Potatoes

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 garlic clove
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 steamed or baked potatoes, cut into six or eight pieces each

1. Mince the mint and parsley leaves. Mince the garlic as fine as possible.

2. In a small mixing bowl whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh lemon juice until well combined.

3. Add the paprika, salt and black pepper to taste. Stir in the minced herbs and garlic and let the dressing rest for 10 minutes.

4. Pour over the steamed potatoes and toss to coat.

That'll do pig. That'll do. This was enough dressing for two steamed potatoes which weighed about 6oz/170g each, raw. Serve hot and sprinkle with more salt and pepper if needed.

Oh, what'd ya say? You just ate these garlicky potatoes but you didn't remember you had a date with one of the Cullens? Oh no! Quick! Have a bowl of minty ice cream to freshen up your breath!

Mint Chip Ice Cream
Coconut Milk Mint-Chip Ice Cream

Mmmmminty! This is my new favorite ice cream flavor! I've never been a mint ice cream person, but I am a convert. Even Mr. Wing-It loves it! At first he found it too herby, but now he's coo coo for minty ice cream! This recipe was inspired by David Lebovitz's non-vegan mint chip ice cream.

Coconut Milk Mint Chip Ice Cream

1 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 cup water
1 14 oz can full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup raw baby spinach leaves (really packed! 12-15 leaves)*
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips**

1. In a medium saucepan combine the mint leaves, sugar and water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Let it steep for 15 minutes.

2. Pour the contents of the saucepan into a blender jar, add the coconut milk, baby spinach, vanilla and salt. Liquefy for about a minute or until smooth. It should look nice and green now!

3. Strain the mixture into a medium size mixing bowl (if possible, one with a spout for easy pouring.) Let it cool in the fridge for an hour or until the bottom of the bowl feels completely cold.

4. Once chilled, strain it again into your ice cream maker's bowl, and freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It took just about 30 minutes in my awesome Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. Place a food storage container (where you want to keep your ice cream) in the freezer. Don't have an ice cream maker? That's cool, Mr. Lebovitz tells you how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker here.

5. A few minutes before the ice cream maker is done churning, melt the chocolate chippers in the microwave in a dry glass bowl. I don't do double boilers (yawn.) It took my microwave 90 seconds on low power, stirring every 30 seconds, to melt the chips completely.

6. Now comes the fun part! When the ice cream maker is done churning, remove your food storage container from the freezer and spread about half of the ice cream on the bottom. Drizzle about half of the melted chocolate all over the ice cream and stir to break up the chocolate into tiny chips. Beat it into submission if you have to! Repeat with the other half of the ice cream and the rest of the melted chocolate.

7. When you're done having fun breaking up the chocolate, cover the bowl and freeze the ice cream until firm.

I always take it out of the freezer about five minutes before serving so it's not too hard and it's way easier to scoop.

* It won't taste like spinach! Honest! The baby spinach is just there to give the ice cream a nice green color, because it's so purrrrdy that way!

** This recipe calls for grain sweetened chocolate chips because I'm a good girl and I'm playing by the SOS Kitchen Challenge rules, but any type of chocolate chips or baking chocolate will work. Wouldn't it be nice if they made maple sweetened chippers? Anyway, I only do 1/4 cup of chocolate chips because Mr. Wing-It doesn't like a lot of chocolate, but if I was going to make this only for myself I would probably go with 1/2 cup for extra chocolateness!

Mint Chip Ice Cream in a gluten free cone

That's it for my SOS Kitchen Challenge entry! I made it! YAY! I'm looking forward to next month's challenge already! Check out Ricki's blog and Kim's blog if you too want to participate in this fun challenge! And check out Ricki's Mint Chip ice cream too! :)

Now before I go have another scoop of ice cream, check out these amazing flourless peanut butter cookies courtesy of Ashley of the (never home)maker blog!

Ashley's Flourless Cookies

Ashley blogged about my Mutant Flourless Almond Butter Cookies and she even made her own awesome version! They are made with chunky peanut butter for extra crunchiness, and they are super delicious! I knew I wanted to make these peanut butter goodies as soon as I saw them on Ashley's blog. Go check out her pictures and you'll see why I couldn't resist! Thank you for sharing the peanutty goodness, Ashley! :D

OK - ice cream's meltin'... gotta run!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Almond Butter Blondies and More Vegan Crunk Testing

Phew! That's a big jar of almond butter, Mr. Costco! I have already gone through half of that gigantor jar, which has given my weight-gain-quest a big push! There's still a lot left though. What do you do when you have a surplus of almond butter? Make almond butter blondies, of course! :)

Almond Butter Blondies - Chunky Chunk
Look at that chunky chunk sitting there just teasing us!

These blondies are fudgy and moist with lots of soft chunky bits thanks to the addiction addition of chocolate chips and almond paste. The key to their fudginess is in adding just the right amount of milk. The batter should be just moist enough that it's not crumbly, but not too moist or they will be a bit more cakey. If your batter is a little too moist you might want to bake them for an extra minute or two.

Almond Butter Blondies

1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup rice or almond milk*
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract (or 1/2 if you love it!)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus a small handful to sprinkle on top
2 tbsp almond paste chunks, plus a few chunks to sprinkle on top**

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly spray an 8x8 metal baking pan with cooking spray.
2. In a small mixing bowl stir together the almond butter, milk, oil, vanilla extract, almond extract, and sugar. Stir until a smooth creamy mix forms.
3. In a medium size mixing bowl stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Gently stir in the chocolate chips and almond paste chunks.
4. Pour the liquid mix on top of the flour mix and gently fold until all ingredients are just incorporated. Take care not to over mix or stir too much! The batter should be very thick and stiff but not crumbly, if it's crumbly add an extra tablespoon of milk.
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle a few chocolate chips and almond paste chunks on top. Give the almond chunks a little push so they sink a bit into the batter.
6. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry. They won't rise much at all. If you want to brown the tops a bit, you can broil it keeping an eye on it for a minute. Don't look away for a second or the pesky things will burn! Cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting it into squares. Or if you're me, start eating them right away even if you have to use a spoon.

* I have made these a few times, each time with a different type of milk. The ones with soy milk took a half cup, the ones with almond milk took a third cup, and depending on how soft your peanut butter is, it might take as little as 1/4 cup. Start with that and add more if you need it.

** The almond paste chunks are optional, but they really make these extra yummy! You can throw a handful of sliced almonds in there instead for an extra almondy crunch. I'm not a big fan of crunchy bits in my blondies though, gimme the fudgy bits!

I love those chunky bits of almond paste!

Now if only Mr. Costco would sell me some super cheap almond paste! That would be awesome! Maybe I'll start making my own from now on because that stuff is way too expensive for an almond-holic. Soon I am going to have to sell pictures of food-pornz to support my habit! :D

Almond Butter Blondies - Fudgy Fudge
Fudgy goodness!

Now that we've had dessert let's indulge in some savory treats courtesy of Bianca from the rock'n Vegan Crunk blog! As one of Bianca's very lucky recipe testers I get an exclusive preview of her awesome soon-to-be Southern/soul food cookbook. I'm cool like that. Have you checked out my previous crunky post? Every single one of Bianca's recipes has been amazing - every single one! Bianca develops recipes that are not only delicious, but also easy as pie to make. And the ingredients called for in all the recipes I've tried are either already in my pantry or they are easy to find at a regular grocery store. Even non-vegans will love her cookbook because the food is so flavorful and approachable. Case in point - last night's dinner:

Bianca's Fried Squash (Vegan Crunk Tester)
Bianca's Fried Squash

This fried squash is amazing! Again, super easy to make and so yummy! Crispy on the outside, tasty squashiness on the inside... *sigh* It's what breaded and fried dreams are made of. There's five slices on my plate there, but I had to go back for seconds! Really, Bianca, you need to create a recipe that sucks, you now, for balance purposes and yin yang and all that stuff! :P

Bianca's BBQ Black-Eyed Pea Burger (Vegan Crunk)
BBQ Black-Eyed Pea Burgers (sans bun)

I *LOVE* these black eyed pea patties! Too bad I didn't have any buns, because they really would have made a great burger. The barbecue sauce is practically life-changing! I'm not a big fan of barbecue sauce but I absolutely loved Bianca's! It's that good!

Bianca's Memphis-Style BBQ Sauce (Vegan Crunk Tester)
Memphis-Style BBQ Sauce

Mmmm *drool!* Even Mr. Wing-It who is very picky about his BBQ sauce gave it two thumbs up! We're not doing store-bought sauce from now on - Bianca's BBQ sauce is where it's at, y'all! That's right, I'm turning into a Memphian! :P

There's more crunky goodness on my previous crunky post, and check out Bianca's blog, Vegan Crunk, to hit the yummy mother-lode and to stay up to date with her cookbook progress! :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mutant Flourless Chocolate Cookies (and some amazing Costco finds!)

Guess where I am! Guess where I am! I'm home!! Guess where I will be for the next few months! Home!! YAY! Normal blogging services have been restored and I am already making Halloweegan crafts for Vegan MoFo. How will I ever manage not to show them to you until October? That will probably be a big challenge! Let's keep ourselves busy with chocolate until then! :)

Flourless Chocolate Cookies
Mutant Flourless Chocolate Cookies

Mr. Wing-It ate lots of low glycemic-load treats while he was on his triglycerides-lowering diet last year, and flourless nut-butter cookies made their way to his happy belly a couple of times a week. His were sweetened with agave nectar to keep the glycemic-load low, but these are sweetened with brown sugar which I make by mixing ground turbinado sugar and molasses in my food processor.Thanks for the tip, Alton!

These are mutant cookies because on the second day they lose a bit of their outer crispiness and they become a candy bar. Yep. They go from cookie to chewy candy bar overnight! You can play with the ingredients to make them sweeter or chunkier or not so sweet or not so coconutty or whatever. Keeping the nut-butter to baking powder and baking soda ratio, I have made these elebenty times with different variations, like no coconut, less sugar, peanut butter instead of almond butter, chopped walnuts instead of macadamia nuts, and the list goes on and on... hmm, I eat way too many cookies. You can also bake them for only 12 minutes if you want a softer cookie with a gooey center. Anyway, this is my favorite version and my latest obsession. I hope you like! :)

Mutant Flourless Chocolate Cookies

1 tbsp ground flax seeds
3 tbsp cold water

1/2 cup dried shredded coconut*
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup almond butter
4 tbsp coconut milk or other non-dairy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup roasted macadamia nuts

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. In a small bowl or measuring cup mix the flax seeds and water.

3. In a medium size mixing bowl combine all ingredients except for the chocolate chips and nuts. The dry and powdery ingredients are better off in the bottom of the bowl to prevent a big powdery *POOF* when you start mixing.

4. Beat with an electric mixer for about 30 seconds or until a smooth dough forms. It will look chunky at first but keep mixing and it will become smooth. You can use a large spoon instead, just take care to mix everything well and beat the dough vigorously.

5. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Make them as chunky as you want, as you can see I like a lot of chocolaty and nutty goodness, but you can adjust the chunkiness to your taste.

6. Drop by rounded spoonfuls (or use a cookie scoop for perfectly round cookies) onto the cookie sheet and slightly flatten and shape each future cookie with the tip of a spoon. The back of a spoon only makes a big smeary mess, a swirly motion with the tip of a spoon works like a charm. But then again you might not want to flatten them at all if you like them all round and poofy! Leave about an inch of space in between cookies.

7. Bake for 14 minutes. Let the cookies slightly cool for a minute on the baking sheet before you transfer them to a cooling rack.

This recipe makes about 12 or 14 cookies, depending on how big you make them. If you manage not to eat them all right away and you need to store them, let them come to room temperature and store them in a paper bag. The paper bag keeps them from getting soggy.

* You can grind the coconut to a fine powder in a blender or food processor if the texture of coconut makes you gag. Yea, you know who you are! :D

Flourless Chocolate Cookies
I flattened these quite a bit before baking them,
they're more crisp and cookie-like,
but I think I like the thicker, softer ones better

Homemade Brown Sugar
Homemade brown sugar.
Awesome Wing-It Apron courtesy of my awesome friend Becks :)

Now that you're all high on sugar, are you ready to feel robbed by your regular grocery store? That's how I felt after finding all these products at Costco:

Costco Finds!

2 lb packet of active dry yeast - $3.69

2 liter bottle of extra virgin olive oil - $9.99

16 oz bottle of pure vanilla extract - $6.39!!!

6 lb bag of turbinado sugar - $7.69

32 oz jug of pure maple syrup - $11.99

26 oz jar of almond butter - $5.89

I think the vanilla extract is what freaks me out the most! And the yeast! I normally pay $6.99 for a 4 oz jar at the grocery store! If I ever open my own vegan bakery or cafe, I will be doing most of my shopping at Costco. Just with this one trip we would have saved enough to pay for our membership! We went with Mr. Wing-It's mom, who is already a member, to look around and see if it would be worth it for us to join. Umm, yes. It would.

Are you a Costco member? What are some of the most awesome things you've found there? Have you tried their Kirkland salsa? They only had a medium heat salsa so I didn't want to risk buying a gigantor jar only to be stuck with something that was way too hot for me. What about their Kirkland coffee? Is it good?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sookie's Peach Sauce = Gilmore Girls Geekery!

Most of you know that I am a huge Gilmore Girls fan... fan, addict, same thing. Have you seen my Luke's Diner shopping tote? As a true fanatic, I am proud to say that through the years I have recruited several Gilmore Girls fans - ten more recruits and I get a badge! :D

One of my favorite things about the show is that it revolves around food a lot! Not much vegan food, but mostly easily veganizable treats. Sookie, played by actress Melissa McCarthy, is the head chef at the Independence Inn and the Dragonfly Inn. She is an awesome and extremely clumsy chef who is totally obsessed with food. When we first meet Sookie, she is on the kitchen floor practically buried under a big avalanche of pots and pans while her kitchen staff tries to dig her out. She is plastered with band-aids, and her stitches (that she got after she cut her hand making radish roses) have split open. She doesn't even seem upset about the pot avalanche and the split stitches because she's psyched about fixing her peach sauce! Apparently, she was using "too much maple syrup" which "strangled the fruit." So keeping in mind that the peach sauce should be sweetened with maple syrup but not so much that it overpowers the taste of the peaches, I made my own Sookie's Peach Sauce! :)

Sookie's Peach Sauce - Gilmore Girls Food and Geekery

Sookie's Peach Sauce

3 peaches
1/4 cup fresh orange juice, strained
3 tbsp maple syrup
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp ground anise seeds, optional
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1. Peel and cut the peaches into chunks. No need to dice them perfectly, Sookie isn't looking! :)
2. Whisk together the orange juice, maple syrup, salt, and anise seeds.
3. In a medium saucepan, combine the peach chunks and the orange juice mix. Simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and transfer everything to a blender. Add the vanilla and liquefy for a minute or until you can't see any chunky bits.
5. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

This recipe makes one cup of tangy sauce. If it's too tangy for you, just add maple syrup to the cold sauce until your taste buds are happy. The anise seeds add a tiny little extra som'n som'n, but you can leave them out if you want.

Sookie's Peach Sauce (Gilmore Girls Food and Geekery)

A few pictures that I took along the way:

Sookie's Peach Sauce (Gilmore Girls Food and Geekery)
I blanched the peaches for a minute
and then cooled them in ice water for easy peeling

Sookie's Peach Sauce (Gilmore Girls Food and Geekery)
The skin slips right off!

Sookie's Peach Sauce (Gilmore Girls Food and Geekery)
Uneven peachy chunks

Sookie's Peach Sauce (Gilmore Girls Food and Geekery)
Simmering the goods

Sookie's Peach Sauce (Gilmore Girls Food and Geekery)
Straining the sauce and catching pesky fibrous bits

Sookie's Peach Sauce (Gilmore Girls Food and Geekery)

The tanginess of the peach sauce goes wonderfully with the mild sweetness of vanilla ice cream. My ice cream here is basically one can of coconut milk sweetened with maple syrup and flavored with vanilla extract. My ice cream maker takes care of the rest! How very un-gourmet! :)

Anyway, if you want to see Sookie in action there is a youtube video with a compilation of some of her funniest moments. Needless to say, the video is full of spoilers!

*sigh* Our long weekend at home went by way too fast, and I was so busy being a psycho baker that I didn't spend much time on the interwebs. I have some serious blog-reading-catching-upping to do now - google reader is about to explode! We have only a couple of weeks of traveling left, then all my blogging habits will go back to normal! YAY! :)