Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In honor of Cherry Festival...

Actually, I really don't give a darn about honoring the Cherry Festival.  As a local, Cherry Festival tends to bring thoughts of obnoxious tourists, traffic jams, and GARBAGE.  EVERYWHERE.  Seriously, downtown is pretty much wrecked after the Festival each summer.  I just hate seeing people litter.  It's one of my pet peeves.  My purse is always full of gum wrappers, napkins, etc simply because I'd rather haul my trash around with me than just throw it in the street.  But um...there are literally trash cans on every block downtown, so I'll never see why people feel the need to litter.  It's sad.


HOWEVER.  I do thoroughly enjoy cherries.  In fact, I ate close to two cups of dried tart cherries the other night!  Their taste reminds me of Fruit Roll-Ups, only...way better.  And healthier.

Do you know that cherries are an awesome source of antioxidants?  Antioxidants are known to help reduce one's risk of heart disease and diabetes later in life.  There's a lot of research being done on these guys right now, actually -- if you want to learn more, go here:


I made this butter the other night to finish satisfying my massive cherry craving.  The cherries in it serve as a pretty decent sweetener, but I ended up adding a bit of honey so the butter wouldn't be so goopy. 

Cherry Almond Butter

You'll need:
1 cup toasted almonds
1/4 cup oil of choice (peanut oil worked just fine)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup dried tart cherries
2 tbsp - 1/4 cup honey (depends on how big your sweet tooth is!)

Blend everything except for the honey until smooth.  Then add your honey and blend until you see it start to thicken -- this should only take 10-15 seconds.

...I had a picture, but you looks just like all my other butter pictures, so I really doubt it would be worth posting!  ;)

Monday, June 20, 2011

A little bit of maple butter...definitely does *not* go a long way.

This is going to be a very brief post, since I have to get ready for work soon.  I work all day for the next four days, but then I get another three-day weekend.  Yayzers.

My family went out to one of my dad's favorite restaurants -- this really neat little Cajun place -- last night to celebrate Fathers' Day.  I had a salad with pickled carrots, black-eyed pea relish, and okra -- yum!  Okra is kinda funny, though.  It tastes great, yet it just has the slimiest texture.  So I can see why some people don't like it!

Afterward, I really, really wanted some kind of...nut butter (not necessarily peanut butter.  Dare to be different), but I didn't want to make a great big batch.  Decided on maple-pecan butter.  I made a batch about half the size of what I normally make, and it turned out great!  Perfect size for one person.  It'd be really good with apples, but I just ate it straight-up.  Of course.  ;D  Finished it in about five minutes.

Maple-Pecan Butter

You'll need:
1/2 cup pecans (try toasting them!)
1/8 cup oil (I used vegetable oil)
1/8 cup REAL maple syrup

Grind up pecans in food processor, then add oil and blend until smooth.  Then blend in maple syrup.

Um, me, it tastes a lot better than it looks!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Not-so-cool beans.

I am utterly exhausted right now.  But in a good way.  It's not so much the "Uuuugh, I'm so sick and tired of life" kind of exhaustion, but rather the "I actually got off my arse and did things today!" type.  I am perfectly content with spending the rest of the afternoon up here in my room, typing up the rest of this blog and maybe starting yet another book (I'm currently reading two -- a book about feminists of the 21st century along with a sci-fi.  About to start a memoir.  Lawlrandom).  Oh, and listening to the breeze outside.  It's 75, sunny, and just all-around gorgeous right now; however, my watery eyes and itchy nose are telling me that I should probably stay in here for the rest of the day.

Anyhoo, as cheesy as it sounds, today reminded me of why my life is worth living.  There may not be anything about my life that's particularly interesting at the moment, and there may not be anyone in my life who really cares about me right now (in fact, there are some utterly shit-tastic people in my life right now whose mission is to get as much as they can out of me, all while pretending to be my friend.  No names will be mentioned), but I'm still getting things done and moving along in my life.  They're not.  And, when I graduate next summer, they'll still be doing what they're doing today -- mooching off of other people and deceiving their way through life.  Pahahaha.

*Ahem*  Okay, slowly working my way back to the topic of food...

 In terms of exercise, this weekend has been great.  Yen Yoga had free classes all week to celebrate their second anniversary, so I signed up for Bikram Friday and Saturday morning.  MAN, is hot yoga ever intense!  I loved it, though.  Even though it's an unbelievably intense workout, it leaves you feeling surprisingly calm and serene.  In other words, it's the exact opposite of running, which leaves you (, at least) panting and achy. Sure wish I could afford a membership there...Bikram seems perfect for those who enjoy a good workout, but need some sort of stress-relieving activity as well.  With all the scheduling drama going on between my three jobs, life is getting a bit stressful.  X_x Ugh.

Oh, and speaking of running...I had a little adventure of sorts the other day.  See, there's this two-track at the end of one of the streets in my neighborhood that I've always wanted to explore.  I ran down there the other morning, crossing my fingers and hoping that I wouldn't run into any random axe-murderers while in the woods.  Well...I was in the woods for a grand total of two minutes before encountering another road.  X)  I followed this road and found...a totally normal-looking street, with average-looking houses.  Maybe even a boring dog or two.  Not the most exciting of adventures, but I did find a nice loop to jog around, so now I have a new route to take in the morning.  

I went back there this morning and, after showering, hopped on my bike and went down to the drugstore.  I live on a hill, so getting back home kind of sucked.  X_x Hence me being exhausted.

...And now for the food!

Well, CCK posted a recipe for chick pea blondies the other day, and I was intrigued.  Healthy, gluten-free, high-protein blondies?  Too good to be true.  I had to try it out. was too good to be true.  Sorry CCK; better luck next time.  X)  The batter was so dry!  So dry that well, it wasn't even really batter...more like chunks of chickpeas and sugar.  Egh.  Adding a tablespoon of water helped; however, as soon as they came out of the oven, I took one look at the pan and knew that they were going to crumble everywhere before I even had a chance to get them out of the pan.  As you can see...that's pretty much what happened.

Then it was time for Black Bean Brownies, Take II.  I almost had it!  They were fantastically fudgy, wonderfully dark, yet...barely chocolatey.  At all.


See, the black beans make it seems like these things are a LOT more chocolatey than they actually are -- even after adding 4 tbsp of dark cocoa powder, you could barely taste the chocolatey goodness.  =(  I'm not sure if I'd add any more cocoa powder, although the addition of about 3/4 cup of dark chocolate chips seems like a good idea for next time.  ;)

Here's the blondie recipe I mentioned.  Hehe, she's so funny...I based my brownie recipe off of this one.  Adding 4 tablespoons of water to the brownie batter seemed to be what helped them achieve maximum levels of maybe that would work for these guys as well?

Here's my recipe.  Again, I'm thinking that about half a bag of chocolate chips would make them about 800 times better!

Fudge-tastic Brownies

You'll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups black beans
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • heaping 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar (I just used white sugar)
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup soy protein powder
  • 4 tbsp dark cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (for whatever reason, you really can't taste it once the brownies are baked, so don't splurge on expensive PB for this recipe)
  • ...Chocolate chips.  Copious amounts.
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, and the wet ingredients in another, smaller mixing bowl.  Combine, and pour into a greased 8 x 8 baking dish.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Don't forget to sample some of the batter beforehand -- one of the many perks of vegan / lacto-vedge baking is that no raw eggs are ever involved!

This is hella long.  I should really update more often, eh?  

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cool beans.

Ehm, well I'm not sure if anyone else other than myself would consider them "cool," but hey, I dare to be different. 

This was the height of my culinary creativity over the past few weeks. 

Yeah.  Nothing very exciting, huh? 

The first picture is of my Memorial Day dinner.  I made black bean burgers, and I failed EPICALLY.  See, in my mind, I thought that the key to giving them a burger-esque texture was a substance that would help the bean um...batter?...stick together once it had been grilled.  An egg substitute, most likely.  Rumor has it that plain yogurt makes for a decent egg substitute, and I just so happened to have a bit of plain Greek yogurt in the fridge, so I decided to test this theory!

Okay.  In my defense, I totally had things under control in terms of taste:  every bite was packed with spicy, smokey goodness!  But the texture...kind of reminded me of bean dip.  In fact, I'm sure that the results would have been infinitely better if I had just left the batter and called it dip.  Those things took forever to grill!  Finally, after a crust had formed over each of them, I decided to throw in the towel.  Next time, I'm thinking about omitting the yogurt and just using the bean mixture, or maybe replacing the yogurt with silken tofu, which is pretty much thee best egg substitute around.

The other photo is of a snack I made afterwards -- I love almonds, but not straight-up, raw almonds.  I like flavor, and lots of it!  They may look kind of boring in the picture, but I assure you, their flavor was nowhere near dull!

Soooo, how about some recipes, eh?

BBQ Black Bean Dip
[You can also make yourself 2-3 failburgers with this recipe, but I don't recommend it ;) ]

You'll need:
12 oz can of black beans, drained
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp salsa
1 tsp each:  garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and cilantro
A couple drops of liquid smoke -- you can find this at most supermarkets

Mix it all together and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two.  It'd probably be absolutely splendid with tortilla chips.  Yes, splendid.  And I'll let you know once I have the burgers figured out.

Savory Almonds

You'll need:

2 cups of raw almonds
4 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 tsp seasoning salt
Oil, butter, margarine, or heck -- even cooking spray -- for toasting.

Toast your almonds on medium heat, then pour into seal-able container.  Add the Worcestershire sauce and seasoning salt, place the lid over the container (holding it down with one hand), and shake.  HOWEVER, IF YOU SEAL THE CONTAINER BEFORE SHAKING IT, STEAM FROM THE HOT ALMONDS WILL BUILD UP, AND IT WILL EXPLODE ALL OVER YOU.  DON'T ASK ME HOW I KNOW THIS.

Ahem.  Anyway.  I just got back from Georgia, and I have pralines on the brain!  Ohhhh goodness, are those ever good.  My family bought three pounds of them at the airport in Atlanta.  There HAS to be an easy way to make these, and I'm determined to figure it out!  Oh, and praline pecan butter, maybe?  I'm thinking yes.