best sister ever

My sister has a nice streak in her.  She lets it out every once in awhile… ;).  One instance of her niceness is that she let me live rent-free from February through July this year when I first had an unpaid internship, and then I was unemployed after graduation.  See what I mean?  Nice streak.  Well, I had said I would eventually buy her something once I was employed to thank her for those months of “free” living (although I did buy mostly all of the groceries to still help out).  I decided a blender was something nice to buy and definitely not something she would treat herself to (see, she’s a money hoarder).

Well, a marvelous Kohl’s 30% off coupon came to my mom so I thought this was a great opportunity to buy a blender – so I purchased a Ninja, thinking it would be somewhat comparable to a Vitamix.  I was definitely dreaming of nice and smooth green smoothies!  Unfortunately, the ninja did not live up to its name at all… I like ninjas and this thing could not do any superhuman ninja moves.  There were two too many stringy smoothies coming out of the kitchen…  Even the Magic Bullet beat it times 100.

Sadly, my hopes for a new blender went away with the Ninja as I did not have a ton of money still to make a bigger purchase like that.  Well, the morning Kinley and I went to the State Fair, she could not get the Vitamix out of her head!  She said she almost bought one right then and there but held off (money hoarder getting not so hoardy).  And then we get to the fair… and this happens.

Yup.  Exactly.  Who knew there were Vitamix stands at the Wisconsin State Fair?!  And TWO of them!  Although we did not make it past the first one…  Kinley buckled.  She bought the Vitamix.  She even got an extra year added to the warranty (a total of EIGHT years) and a free dry mixer thing too (to make your own flours – a $150 value).  She then proceeded to walk through the fair toting this around, and I kept saying Green Spinach Smoothie so people would give me weird looks.  I love it when I make people think I’m more of a freak than I actually am in real life, although I do love green smoothies.  And they should too!

So I basically got out of buying a blender at all.  I think I’ll just not say anything and hope she forgets I offered to buy her something…  Aw man, she probably just read this in her Google Reader….  But anyways, is the Vitamix everything I dreamed it to be?  Well, just look at the green smoothie and you tell me.

Spinach, almond milk, banana, frozen mango + pineapple.  Beats the looks of my previous creation by about a million.  More smoothies recipes coming soon!

meatless monday fiesta

I like simple things.  I especially like simple things that are really, really good.  You know what else I like?  Creating a whole meal out of things you (could) have on hand any day.  I also like gardens.  Surprisingly, our garden had not given up just yet.  A few things have had to be “removed” due to their size and productivity level.  The heirloom tomato plant looks pathetic… and yet we’re still getting tomatoes.  Lots and lots of heirloom tomatoes that have been made into delicious pasta sauce, put into weekly salads, and made into delicious and fresh salsa.  Actually that last one is a lie… or it actually hasn’t happened yet (but it will).  The tomatoes I used in this particular dish came from a co-workers garden as did the peppers.  So absolutely incredibly fresh and delicious it had to be made into a meal.  So here, for your Meatless Monday, you get two recipes.  Salsa + a base.

Simple Salsa

  • tomatoes
  • jalapeno peppers
  • salt
Cut up tomatoes and jalapeno peppers and toss in a bowl with salt.  I cut off the tips of the jalapenos and took out the seeds and the salsa ended up bring pretty mild, but delicious.  I also do not have measurements because I used what was left!
Tostadas
  • brown rice tortilla (or a corn tortilla)
  • refried beans
  • cumin, to taste
  • lettuce
  • salsa
1. Preheat the oven to 400′.
2. Put a tortilla on a baking sheet and pile on the beans and cumin.  You could also have some cheese if you’d like.
3. Bake for 10ish minutes until the tortilla is crispy and the beans are hot.
4. Top with whatever toppings you’d like!  I was pretty simple because we didn’t have a whole lot to put on top, but it was sooo good.  We’ve always had these as tacos where the tortilla was a shell, but it always ended up breaking apart.  This way there was no breakage until I purposefully dug into eat ;).

And if you’ve already eaten dinner tonight?  Taco Tuesdays sound pretty fantastic as well…

Yay for one of the toughest days of the week being over!  Only 4 more days til the weekend :).

a new kind of cookie

I have a major sweet tooth.  But I’m sure if you’ve read this blog before you’re aware of that fact ;).  But the strange thing is that when I switched to eating unprocessed foods, my tolerance for sweet things went waaay down.  I used to almost always choose milk chocolate over dark in a Russell Stover box – obviously I needed the higher sugar content.  I have even on more than one occasion (I refuse to count), made this Martha Stewart Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe using two – yes, two cups of sugar.  And then proceed to eat the whole batch (well, not by myself obviously) over the course of a weekend.

Now, I am more likely to eat dark chocolate than even semi-sweet, and never milk chocolate.  Sugar in baked goods has gone down (or become non-existant) in all of my recipes.  Oh, and my love for coconut has increased significantly.  I used to think unsweetened coconut was, well, unsweet.  Now?  Oh my, it’s absolutely delectable.  Coconut flakes are pop in your  mouth good and coconut butter tastes like frosting.  Last night, Kinley and I purchased Coconut Flour for the first time.  Now combining all of my previous ramblings into one recipe?  Don’t mind if I do.

Gluten Free Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies makes 2 dozen

  • 3/4c sorghum flour
  • 1/4c + 2T coconut flour (Let’s Do… Organic®)
  • 1/2t baking soda
  • 1 stick earth balance (or butter)
  • 1/4c organic natural sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2t vanilla
  • 1c semisweet or dark chocolate chips (I used Guittard – made in a gluten free facility!)
1. In a small bowl, mix together the sorghum flour, coconut flour and baking soda.
2. In a large bowl, combine room-temperature earth balance and sugar with a handmixer until fluffy and smooth.
3. Mix in the egg and vanilla until combined.
4. Add the flour mixture and mix.  One of the best things about gluten free flours is that there is no chance of you over-mixing!
5. Time for the chocolate chips – so, so good.  Put them in and mix.
6. Scoop and roll (these won’t change much during cooking so what you put in will look pretty much like what comes out) and place these on a baking sheet and put in a 375′ oven for 8-10 minutes.
These cookies are a nice change from the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies I have baked recently since they used oat flour as the base (as did the Wheat Free Chocolate Chip Cookies).
I do kind of love how the non-rolled ones look like coconut macaroons.  I have big ideas for the not-so pretty and semi-crumbly ones but I’ve got to talk the sister into going along with it ;).

falling for meatless monday

In my mind, August is always unbearably hot and so humid you can almost see the water in the air.  Something is definitely different this year.  The mornings and the evenings are cool and crisp, making it seem more like fall than mid-summer.  I even had to forego my Tae-Bo dvd this morning for a walk outside to enjoy the outdoors!  Naturally, my fall taste buds have kicked into high gear.  Good thing we always keep a supply of pumpkin in our pantry!

Kinley actually came up with this recipe – we didn’t even know what we were going to make until tonight and we had all the ingredients to pull this together.  Easy peasy.  Pumpkin in the sauce and pepitas on top.

Gluten Free Chickpea and Pumpkin Pasta

  • 1 can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, just pure pumpkin)
  • 1 c water
  • 1/2 c vegetable broth
  • 1 1/4t italian seasoning
  • 1t onion powder
  • 1t garlic powder
  • 1t sucanat or organic sugar
  • 1/8t nutmeg
  • 1/4t cinnamon
  • 1/4t cumin
  • salt, to taste
  • red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 8oz brown rice pasta
1. Mix together all of the ingredients except for the chickpeas and the pasta.
2. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding the chickpeas for the last few minutes.
3. Boil water and cook pasta according to directions.  Drain and rinse with hot water (helps the gluten free pasta not stick together.
4. Put the pasta back into the pot and add the sauce.  Stir to combine and heat through.
So simple.  So delicious.
I know Fall will be here before I know it and in some ways I’m excited.  Apple orchards, pumpkin fields, beautiful fall colors, and of course my birthday.  But Fall, I’m not quite ready for you yet.  Give me a few more weeks of summer, please.

cinnamon + sugar donuts

After feeling not quite right yesterday even until going to bed, I knew today’s food was going to be hit or miss.  Kinley and I decided to drive to Alterra this morning for some Iced Americano’s – I love Alterra and it made this day start out great and I think the caffeine helped perk me up to help me continue to recover!  For breakfast I had scrambled eggs, some sauteed potatoes (leftover from dinner last night) and a piece of Sami’s Millet & Flax toast.  It was just what I wanted!

Well, there seems to be something about me and egg-filled breakfasts.  For some reason I get hungry pretty quickly afterwards even with all of the protein from the eggs and carbs from the potatoes and bread (which is why my usual breakfasts consist primarily of oats or buckwheat!).  It’s a good thing I had found a delicious looking recipe from Multiply Delicious for Cinnamon Sugar Gluten Free Baked Doughnuts to make for a ‘mid-morning snack’ ;).  I have been in the mood for cinnamon sugar recently as well as donuts (thanks to Ashley’s recent gluten-less creations 🙂 ).  I took tips from both recipes and came up with these little guys.

Cinnamon Sugar Donuts makes 6 regular + 6 minis
  • 1/2c unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2t cider vinegar
  • 1 flax egg (1T flax + 2-3T water)
  • 1 egg
  • 2T organic sugar
  • 2t baking soda
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1/2t xanthan gum
  • 1t cinnamon
  • 1/4t nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c quinoa flour* (I misread the amount on this so had to add the water to counteract the excess dry ingredients – whoops!)
  • 1/4 c water*
Topping
  • 2-3T melted earth balance
  • 1/4c organic sugar
  • 1t cinnamon
*You could do 1/4c quinoa flour and no water instead.
1. Preheat oven to 350′ and spray a donut pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Spray well!
2. Mix together the almond milk and cider vinegar and set aside.  Mix together the flax and water to make the flax egg and set aside.
3. Combine the sugar, baking soda, salt, xanthan gum, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl.
4. Add the almond milk mixture, the flax mixture and the egg to those dry ingredients and whisk together.
5. Sift in the flours and combine.  Add water and stir to combine.
6. Scoop into the prepared donut pans and bake for 15-20 minutes or until heated through.
7. Once slightly cooled, dip into melted butter and then into the cinnamon sugar.

By the way, is it donuts or doughnuts?

The next time around I will definitely not use Bob’s Gluten Free mix – I am not a fan of garbanzo bean flour and that’s a big component in the mix.  I had it leftover from our first weekend going gluten free when we thought it was a baking necessity.  I’m going to pick up some coconut flour this weekend so the next time a donut craving hits I can use something similar to Ashley’s combo of Coconut, Sweet Rice and Oat flours.  The original recipe also did not call for any eggs, but I knew Ashley’s did and they would help puff up the dough better.  You could easily make these vegan if you wanted – but I was in the mood for a puffy cake-like donut!!!

Love this little ‘donut family’.  Happy Sunday!

dessert pizza

Kinley and I took a trip to New York City this past January.  I loved it.  I have always loved big cities and this was my first time in NYC – although it had been a longtime ambition of mine to get there.  It’s actually quite funny now, we decided to eat vegetarian when we were there in order to help with cost savings – and now that’s all we do :).  We ended up finding a bunch of really good restaurants even without pre-planning anything.  We had a couple stops in mind, but those were mainly for cupcakes.  One night we were really struggling to find something to eat was the night we went to see a show on Broadway, American Idiot.  We were walking around and around and could only find expensive prix fixe meals that didn’t even sound good!  Luckily, on probably our tenth loop around on side streets, we stumbled upon a small Italian Bistro.  I forget the name of it (I do have their business card somewhere), but I remember it was extremely delicious food.  I had some sort of pasta dish but Kinley had a pizza that was to die for.  And what was even more to die for than her meal pizza?  Dessert pizza of course.  Pizza Crust + Nutella + Marshmallows.  We changed it up a bit due to ingredients we had on hand, but the variability of this idea is what will make anyone happy :).

Dessert Pizza makes 1 pizza

1. Preheat oven to 350′.

2. Pre-bake the crust for a couple of minutes, if desired.

3. Top crust with your desired pizza toppings.

4. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until nut butter is warm and marshmallows have melted.  You could also use a broiler to help the marshmallows puff up a bit ;).

Mine was PB2 – Kinley’s was Raw Almond Butter.  Both were incredibly delicious.  To make it even more like the original, break out that Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter.

There will be more of these in the future.  Many, many more.

latin monday

Can you believe it’s yet another Meatless Monday?!  This was the first real ‘weekend‘ after starting my new job so it was even more enjoyable – and even more depressing that it was Monday!  Although knowing there was a delicious dinner in store for tonight helped – except not when I found myself snack-less and hungry this afternoon!  We had a latin-inspired dish tonight that was taken from an idea in Appetite for Reduction, an awesome vegan cookbook.  Changes were made, per usual, and it was delectable.

Latin Lentils

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 2 small (or one large from the garden!) cut into 1/4″ cubes
  • 8 kalamata olives
  • chili powder & cumin, to taste
  • 1/2T lime juice
  • 1/4c salsa verde
  • salt, to taste
  • brown rice tortillas (or your favorite tortilla/wrap)

1. Cook lentils either on the stovetop or in a rice cooker.

2. Saute zucchini in a little olive oil (or on a nonstick pan) over medium-high heat.

3. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until heated through.

Serve on tortillas (like tacos) or serve with tortilla wedges for dipping!

You could add anything else you’d like on top as well – such as tomatoes, lettuce, more salsa… pretty much anything you’d put on a taco you can put on here.  So good.  I loved the bites with the olives ;).  Such a delicious dinner after a hectic Monday!

chickpea reci{peas}

I absolutely love chickpeas.  Or garbanzo beans.  Whatever you’d like to call them.  I have even started eating them straight out of the can – well, after draining at least.  Is that weird?  Even if it is, I don’t care.  If chickpeas are in something, you can guarantee I’m going to love it.  Chickpeas have often popped up here from time to time…

Whether it was a trio of {hummus recipes}…

In a beans grain green recipe {honey-mustard millet & Beans}…

Served on top of Injera at an {Ethiopian restaurant}…

Added to the delicious {Strawberry Pesto Pasta Salad} by Daily Garnish

Let’s not forget how good it is on {gluten-free vegan pizza} either…

And last but certainly not least how awesome chickpeas made Oh She Glow’s {Heat Wave Summer Salad}…

Obviously, we go through a lot of chickpeas, and this recipe makes them go quite fast as well.  It does slow you down from just eating them from the can however ;).

{Spicy* Baked Chickpeas}

  • 1 can chickpeas (sometimes referred to as garbanzo)
  • 1T grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
  • 1/2t paprika
  • 1t cumin
  • 1/8t cayenne pepper
  • 1/4t black pepper
  • 1/2t salt

*The recipe wasn’t actually that spicy, so adjust the spices accordingly.

1. Drain the chickpeas.  Place into a plastic bag.

2. Add the oil into the bag and toss to coat.

3. Sprinkle in the spices and roll around until all the little chickpeas are covered.

4. Bake in a 400* oven for 30-45 minutes, turning occasionally.  Make sure to not burn them.  Mine burnt due to a too high of oven (the temp is adjusted here), but they were still all eaten within a matter of days.

Feel free to play around with the spices to change the flavorings or spicy-ness.  You really can’t go wrong.

Oh my chickpeas.

sorbetto

I’ve talked a little bit about my trip to Italy in May of 2010 on this blog.  I love traveling, if I could find a job that would take me around the world I would be in heaven.  Although even finding a job in general is proving to be a bit of a difficulty, and being paid to travel is definitely not realistic ;).  That is why I loved studying abroad so much.  No, I didn’t get paid for it, but it was 3 1/2 months where I could be somewhere else, experiencing the cultures (and food!) of other countries.

Let me just say that I am so glad that I got the chance to go to Italy when I did without having to deal with any of my dietary intolerances.  Even traveling domestically is difficult.  Heck, it’s difficult to find restaurants that I can go to when I’m at home.  Going to Italy won’t quite be the same without being able to eat gluten, specifically.  I don’t even want to imagine being surrounded by fresh pasta, bread, pizza, calzones, and all of the other delicious gluten-filled goodies I won’t be able to indulge in.

And without dairy, gelato is a no-no as well.  I’m not going to lie, I had gelato at least once every day when I was there – mostly sticking to the chocolate-hazelnut variety that I love.  My family recently went into a gelato shop in Waukesha (just west of Milwaukee), called Divino Gelato Cafe, and I was delighted to find sorbetto.  Fruit-filled, non-dairy gelato.  Oh my word.

Kinley and I shared a pint (it was the same price as the smallest dish and we could get two flavors!).  It was filled up with passionfruit and blueberry and it was absolutely phenomenal.  Fruity, fresh, and just the perfect amount of sweetness.  Of course I had to attempt to make some sort of sorbetto at home.  We have an ice cream maker and I just wanted a simple mix to make that didn’t take much time but had an awesome flavor.

And that’s where Naked Juice comes in.  I only first had Naked juices a couple of months ago and was instantly hooked.  I do find them very sweet however, but I love that their ingredients are purely fruit.

Naked Sorbetto makes 2 servings

  • 1 cup Naked juice (I used mighty mango)
  • 1 cup water
  • fruit toppings (optional)

1. Assemble ice cream maker (according to your own instructions).

2. Pour the juice and water together and put in the ice cream maker.

3. Mix until your mixture has turned icy and looks like sorbetto :).

4. Serve in a fancy glass with a gelato spoon (optional).

This definitely was not as sweet as the sorbetto from Divino’s, but it was delicious and perfect for the summertime.  You can, of course, use 100% juice if you wanted a fuller flavor (but I liked this one just a tad on the icy side).

Garnish with strawberries if you so desire.

At least I know when I make it back to Italy someday, I’ll be able to live on Sorbetto and Wine.

meatless monday on the grill

Around three weeks ago now, I shared with you an easy peasy meatless monday meal with the thought that I would attempt to do a dinner every Monday that highlighted something easy, meat-free and delicious so you can celebrate Meatless Monday as well!  Well, three weeks passed and I never gave a second thought to it – whoops.  Obviously there was the 4th of July that was distracting and who knows what was happening last Monday haha (actually it was the day after Kinley’s 1/2 so I think our minds were both somewhere else!).  Thanks to Kinley for remembering my original plan, I am back at it this Monday!  Well, I should say she is back at it since she made dinner last night after a quick bike ride to the grocery store to pick up a few items.

The best part about this meal?  It only requires a handful of ingredients that are easy to have on hand for any quick weeknight meal.  And not only a few ingredients, but CHEAP ingredients!

Grilled Baked Bean Potatoes

  • baked potatoes
  • vegetarian baked beans
  • nutritional yeast (a cheesy tasting topping found in the health food aisle – it might look scary, but it’s delicious!)
  • salad (or other vegetable)
  • any other baked potato toppings you desire

1. Preheat your grill and wrap the (washed) potatoes in aluminum foil.

2. Bake on the grill for about an hour, moving around occasionally until baked through.  Take off the grill.

3. Heat up the baked beans on the stovetop.

4. Unwrap the baked potatoes and place on a plate.  Cut a slit in the top and fill with nutritional yeast and the baked beans (or you can eat on the side if you wish).  Serve with a salad or any other side vegetable – possibly one from your garden!

You can obviously make a ton of alterations to this idea.  Different beans, vegetables, bbq sauce, ketchup, earth balance, salt, etc.

And since the grill is heated up already, you might as well put on a few Chocolate Marshmallow Stuffed Grilled Bananas for dessert.

Enjoy!