Friday, March 23, 2012

Photo Fridays

How can she be so cute?! I love how the little things please her most - simply fill a brown paper bag with fresh hay and she's the happiest piggie you'll ever see.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

chocolate chocolate chip brownie cake

... ah, all the above words are delicious and even more delicious slapped together and made to be lower in sugar than most sweets! Don't you agree?!


1 can garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
1/2 oats
1/2 cup honey powder
1/4 sugar
1/2 Tbsp molasses (you could omit this by doing brown sugar instead of regular sugar if you don't have molasses)
3 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil (melted.)  (or an oil of your choice)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 1/2 tbsp almond meal (or about a small handful of almonds finely ground)
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of chocolate chips (depends on your sweet tooth)


> Pre-heat your oven to 350.
> In a food processor add all the ingredients except the chocolate chips and blend for at least 5 minutes to break up all the beans and oats as fine as possible. (If you're using coconut oil simply measure it into a small glass jar/cup/shot glass (my liquid tsp and tbsp measuring device is a shot glass with the printed measurements on it basically - it works very well for this.) put it in your smallest pot and fill the pot with hot tap water about half way up the shot glass. Then put it over high heat until the coconut oil is almost fully melted. You can remove the shot glass carefully with a pair of tongs.)
> Mix in the chocolate chips by hand.
> Grease a springform cake pan.
> Using a flexible spatula empty the batter into the pan. The spatula will be most helpful in getting (practically) every last bit of the batter out and since it's a thick batter you'll need it.
> Evenly spread the batter into the pan and place in the oven for 35 minutes.
> Remove from oven and let stand for at least 10 minutes before (carefully) removing from the pan.

This cake comes out fudgy and really sweet. It is absolutely at it's best when served warm and accompanied by a glass of milk, in my opinion...
The photos shown are from a bunt insert for my spring form pan but any cake pan should do the trick.
If you're not using a springform pan than make sure to grease the pan thoroughly and simply flip the pan over to allow the cake to fall out - since this cake is fragile.
The directions and time for baking is for a regular 9 - 10 inch spring form pan.
If you wanted it less fudgy you can reduce the applesauce to 2 Tbsp.

Inspiration for this recipe came from this recipe over at Chocolate Covered Katie

Friday, March 16, 2012

artichoke & spinach dip

- 8 oz cream cheese (softened)
- 9 oz. frozen chopped spinach
- 14 oz can (or 10-12 individual) artichoke hearts  (chopped)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 c grated parmesan
- 1/4 c shredded mozzarella
- 1/4 c provolone (or about 2 slices cubed)
- 2 t crushed red pepper flakes
- pinch of salt and pepper

> Simmer the spinach and chopped artichoke hearts in a 1 c of water over medium heat in a small saucepan. Heat until tender, just about 6-10 minutes. Drain.
> In a large bowl mix all the ingredients in with the still hot spinach and artichoke hearts. Combine well.
> Serve immediately with carrots, crackers, tortilla chips, etc. Or put into small oven-safe dishes to bake at a later time.
> Bake in  (toaster) oven (with a little extra parmesan on top if you'd like) at 375° until it's bubbly and starting to brown on top...


- instead of using 1/4 c mozzarella and 1/4 c provolone you can substitute all mozzarella or a mozzarella/Italian cheese blend.
- eyeball the amount of artichoke hearts you use if you're like me and have a large jar of marinated artichoke hearts on hand instead of cans.
- if you're using a microwavable thing of spinach, heat it up per directions and then just saute the artichoke hearts in their own oil (or in a splash of olive oil if they came in water) until tender.  Mix everything together like usual.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

cauliflower pizza crust

So, I started here:

But although there are many comments on how well it worked we found
some issues we couldn't ignored and I tweaked the recipe.

The ingredients:
1 large head of cauliflower
olive oil
parmesan cheese
mozzarella cheese
garlic salt
garlic cloves (optional)

> Wash and cut the cauliflower up into small pieces - trying to limit the amount of stalk/stem you use.
> In a food processor just pulse it until it looks grainy but is not at all mushy/pureed. (The slower and  ouch-I-cut-myself way > use a cheese grater to rice the cauliflower.)
> Using a metal strainer with very tiny holes - steam in a large pot for 5 min. with only the tiniest bit of water in the bottom of the pot, just enough to cover the bottom really. (Microwave option: just microwave the bowl of riced cauliflower for 8 min.)
> Press as much water out of the cauliflower as possible after cooking. (I do this by measuring the amount of cauliflower I'll be using (1.5 cups) and scooping it into the middle of two paper towels (layered on top of each other) then gathering the sides up and squeezing.)
> Then mix 1 1/2 cup cauliflower with 1 egg, 1/2 cup parmesan, 1/2 cup mozzarella, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1 clove crushed garlic (optional for those who love garlic), and 1/4 tsp garlic salt until it seems like you could form it into a dough ball basically.
> Lightly oil your pan (make sure to use your thinnest pan). I found a cheap stainless steel pizza pan at my local dollar store and it's perfect for the job.
> Put your ball of 'dough' onto the cookie sheet and press it out gently into a circle shape approximately 11 inches wide. I like to leave the middle at about 1/2 centimeter thickness and the outer crust at a bit over 1/4 inch. Brush with olive oil if you want extra browning on the top...
> Bake on the lowest rack possible in your over for 15 minutes at 475.

> Remove from the oven, turn off the oven. Let it sit for about 5 minutes to firm up... although not necessary if you're really hungry - we found it helped a bit.
> Put your toppings on and place under the broiler (on low) until the cheese is melted and to your liking.
> Take out and let sit for at least 5 minutes, this lets the parmesan do it's magic and results in a sturdier crust.

> EAT!

* 1 large head of cauliflower with yield about 2 to 3 of these crusts...

So that's what we've come up with thus far... I'm looking into what chickpeas might do for the crust, and maybe also fully replacing the mozzarella with just parmesan although I think that'd result in too strong of a flavor honestly... I'm also going to try making a quiche with this recipe... I'll let you know how it turns out eventually.

unbaked crust 
baked crust
finished pizza

last revised:   3-10-12

stuffed mushrooms

My mother-in-law makes these delicious mushrooms stuffed with a sausage mixture, we had them one Christmas and I knew I needed to try my hand at them, and quick - they were SO good. She rattled off the ingredients when I asked for the recipe; she does it by memory and never has measurements. But I forgot what she said by the time I got around to making them. My husband said he'd eat them, but that he disliked how they get so slimy. So I set out to make them non-slimy, and I succeeded. Don't know what I did to be successful in that endeavor, but I'm glad he scarfed them down with a smile.


> 1 package stuffing mushrooms (washed and patted dry) 14oz.
> 1 package ground pork sausage 16 oz.
> 1 cup of Cabot's Seriously Sharp shredded cheddar cheese
> (optional) 1/8 cup of any other cheese you'd like if you're a cheese lover (american cheese, provolone, parmesan...)
> 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
> 1 small onion finely diced
> 2 cloves of garlic finely diced
> 1/4 cup of quick oats (make sure to use the gluten-free variety if you are sensitive to gluten!)
> (optional) 1 tsp - 1 tbsp of crushed red pepper flakes (if you like things with some spice)

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and finely dice them.
Peel and finely dice your garlic and onion.
Cook up the ground sausage, drain and set aside.
In the same pan you just used for the sausage saute the onion, garlic, and mushroom pieces until the onions are translucent.
Mix the sausage back in along with the pepper and quick oats. Cook, stirring often for 2-5 more minutes.
Remove from heat and mix in cheese.
Stuff your mushroom caps and put in the oven at 350 for 15 mins.
Turn off the oven after 15 minutes and let the mushrooms sit for 5.
Take them out and let them sit for another 2-5 minutes to cool.
Serve and enjoy!

You will most likely have left over stuffing mixture... you'll be happy about it though.
It goes great mixed in with some cooked rice and then baked for a bit, or stuffed into peppers. ^__^

Friday, March 9, 2012

easy & fast garlic chicken lunch

Okay, so the ingredients are...
<<< Salmida's state fair lemon garlicious sauce
fresh spinach
boneless, skinless chicken (marinated, grilled, then torn into pieces)
olive oil
italian blend shredded cheese

(onions would be a great addition, sliced very thin and caramelized a bit - but that'd add time to what's meant to be a 5-minute meal! )

> Marinate the chicken over night or for a whole day. Then grill or bake, putting aside the leftover sauce from your night of marination, not what's left in the bottle. Once chicken is done and cooled, using your fingers, break it into bite-size pieces. Put aside.

> Using the leftover sauce from marinating, put it into a small pot and bring to a boil to make sure there are no yucky chicken germs having a party in there... add some cream and some butter... stir and continue to boil for 5 minutes. If it's not thick enough already ( you're going for a gravy type consistency but an easily pourable gravy...) then add 1/2 tsp of starch or arrowroot powder at a time, whisking in until you've reached your desired consistency. Give it one to two minutes each time before adding more...

> Those two items can now be packed for the fridge and saved for quick lunches... but of course you're hungry now so let's get started! We'll pretend it's the next day and you're starting with cold ingredients from your fridge...
------------------------------------------------------ - - -  -  -  -    -    -       -           -

>Take a small handful of chicken pieces and heat up in a small skillet with a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat. (don't stir, we're going for a super simple lunch - one with few dishes to wash afterwards... so we want a clean fork yet.)
> Once chicken is sizzling a bit, add one good heaping forkful of the sauce. Stir.
> Now take 2 to 3 heaping handfuls of (rinse and patted dry) spinach and simply tear in into smaller pieces and toss into the skillet along with the stems. Stir carefully, trying to cover the spinach with the sauce.
> Once spinach is sufficiently wilted remove the pan from the heat, sprinkle with a little italian blend cheese and let cool for 1-2 minutes.

> EAT! Right in the pan - so now you've made yourself a yummy lunch within 5 minutes and you only have two things to clean - a pan, and a fork... ^__^