Vegan Superfood Chocolate Frosty

April 13, 2013 § 2 Comments

Where has the time gone? I can’t believe my last post was in January! I knew it had been a while but not THAT long…

Life has changed drastically for me since that post. We welcomed our baby girl on March 16, 2013 – she was a tiny little little thing at 5 lbs. 12 oz. but super strong! Everyone in the hospital kept commenting on how healthy and alert she was. I’m convinced my vegan diet had a lot to do with it. More on being vegan and pregnant later…

chocolate vegan ice cream

For now, I want to share this amazing superfood frosty. I’ve only got a few moments so this will be a quickie. Time flies when you’re nursing around the clock 🙂

I had virtually no cravings throughout my pregnancy. Chocolate chip cookies were the only thing. But, when I had a few weeks left of my pregnancy I suddenly got the strongest craving for a chocolate milkshake! Finding a vegan milkshake was impossible and I wasn’t about to get fast food. Luckily for me, my doula – aka wonder woman, more on her in another post! – came over and prepared her vegan frosty for us. OMG!!!!! It was so good. It was just like the milkshake I’d been craving. Here’s my version of her amazing frosty – I loaded it up with some extra super foods to try and get as much nutrition is as possible. She encouraged me to load up on the raw cacao since it is great for muscles – and the uterus is a muscle and mine was getting ready for the biggest job of it’s life! I ate this every day at the end of my pregnancy to get in tip top shape for the big adventure. I’m only slightly embarassed to say I eat this EVERY SINGLE DAY – even though delivery has come and gone . But since it is truly loaded with amazing nutrients – I don’t think it hurts. At least that’s what I’m telling myself!

This makes a very large frosty. It can yield two smaller frosties which you could share with someone – but be warned, you won’t want to. I don’t have fancy ice cream glasses so I serve mine in a chilled beer glass 🙂 Items marked with an asterisk are not essential for the taste – they are just extra goodness for your body! As with any recipe, give this version a try and then adjust to your taste as needed.

Vegan Superfood Chocolate Frosty 

  • 1 cup almond or coconut milk (I always buy unsweetened vanilla)
  • 3 tbsp raw cacao
  • 2 tsp maca
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar (raw is even better!)
  • a few dashes of cinnamon, salt, and vanilla to taste
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds*
  • 1/2 tbsp goji berries*
  • 1/2 tsp black sesame seeds*
  • 10 ice cubes

Blend all ingredients except ice ensuring to catch any cacao that may stick to the sides of the blender. Once well blended add enough ice to make a frosty consistency – depending on your ice cube sizes it may require a little more or a little less.

Cheers to your health and a daily dose of chocolate!

Hearty Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

October 28, 2012 § 6 Comments

October hasn’t gone the way I thought it would. Just when you think you’ve got it all under control, the rug is pulled out from underneath.

I had high hopes at the beginning of the month that I’d be able to blog throughout Vegan MOFO but life had other plans. Instead of a quiet month at home, I put on my funeral dress for the third time for 2012 – the fourth time for the past 12 months. I seriously want to burn this dress – too bad it is actually a really nice dress…

My gram, my dad’s mom, passed away unexpectedly on Friday, October 12 – five months after my dad died and eight months to the day after my granddad,  her husband, died.

Nothing lasts forever.

This world is an illusion.

Nothing is guaranteed.

Today is all that is real…

Thank goodness I went to visit her in August. I almost didn’t go…

She was one of a kind – a gem. A little rough around the edges, but a star. Always eccentric, she sought to make everything fun and quite frankly over the top. A lover of the water, she swam 100 laps a day until recently. My dad got his zest for life and can-do attitude from her. For her, nothing was out of reach.

Imagining this world without her is near impossible – almost as impossible as reminding myself every day that my dad is not coming back. I still go to visit his grave and say to myself, he can’t be in there. Surely this is a lie we are living. But the leaves sway and the birds chirp and indeed the world continues to spin. Life continues. Even inside of me, life is growing.

To prepare for the funeral and the grueling week ahead I decided I needed something to give me strength – chocolate chip cookies to be exact. I’d made these cookies before and can attest to their name as “the best chocolate chip cookies” ever. Now, I don’t want to claim to have made them better, but in my humble opinion, I prefer the new version.

This was the first time I made them this way. I was trying to make a “healthier” cookie – I know, I know, a healthy cookie is an oxymoron, but I tried. I subbed the butter for coconut spread, the white flour for whole wheat, and the white sugar for coconut palm sugar which is lower on the glycemic index. Lastly I added chopped walnuts to the mix.

These were intended to take the family through a few days of grieving but they didn’t even make it all the way to Vegas. Halfway through the plane ride, they were already gone. I almost didn’t make them. But at 10pm the night before, I figured it would lift our spirits even if just for a moment – and they did.

Hearty Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

Adapted from Super Vegan

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut spread
  • 2 tbsp ground flax mixed with 3 tbsp warm water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Mix flax with water and set aside several minutes to create a “flax egg”
  2. Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. You can sift if you like, but I always skip this step 🙂
  3. In a large bowl cream together the brown sugar, coconut palm sugar,  and coconut spread with a fork. Add in vanilla and flax egg
  4. Gradually incorporate the flour mixture into the sugar mixture with a spatula. You’ll have to work it a bit to get all the flour incorporated.
  5. Add desired amount of chocolate chips and walnuts. Don’t worry if you have a hard time incorporating. Just try to get them mixed in as good as you can. Form cookies using a tablespoon and drop on a greased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake at 300 degrees for 20-23 minutes. Don’t be alarmed, these cookies don’t spread. Just ensure they cook all the way through.

Welcoming Summer – Luscious Lemon Meringue Pie

June 2, 2011 § 4 Comments

This weekend was a hot one in Orlando – the temperatures have been steadily creeping up into the 90’s for several weeks now and I’ve been in denial trying to keep our doors open for fresh air with no luck. With the heat intensifying, I’d thought for two weeks of what to do for the approaching Memorial Day weekend and to properly welcome the start of summer. We could have taken a mini-vaca but hubby had no vacation days. Could have enjoyed a pool at a local hotel but prices were insane. Last idea was to drive to the beach but in the end with the threat of traffic and our sweet dog’s puppy eyes, we decided against it. So, it was a weekend at home, which in the end turned out to be very sweet (pun intended).

My husband recently bought me a nook for my birthday. Each night he’d look at it hopeful that I’ve purchased something to verify I liked the gift. I had yet to purchase anything in a month, so with the three-day weekend as I lay on the couch I figured I might as well indulge my brain in a book rather than endless hours of television. I’ve wanted to read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver ever since it came out. So, I did just that – I downloaded the “nook book” and have had my nose stuck in it every night this week. The book is just plain awesome – enlightening and inspiring with every page turn. I’m only about one third of the way through it but she already has me hooked with her tales of blossoming veggies and tender fruits. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced the tastes she describes and weaves through her stories. It makes me utterly depressed at the thought of having to frequent my local supermarket and roam through its lifeless aisles. She almost makes me want to uproot my life and take up a farm – almost.

But back to reality, it was Memorial Day weekend and armed with the desire to eat local, fresh, ingredients, I found myself with an overflowing basket at the local market I visit. Now, to be sincere, I didn’t end up buying everything local. I was surprised and a little disturbed to learn that my favorite local store isn’t so local. Don’t get me wrong, it’s got some great finds but doesn’t carry quite as much local produce as I’d deluded myself to believe. But, I bought some good stock to make great meals for the weekend – and let me say it’s pretty much been one good thing after another – lentil salad, hummus and veggie sandwiches, sweet grilled corn, scrambled eggs with roasted asparagus and peppers, fresh garlicky mayonnaise, and finally last night a summer squash stir fry with jasmine rice. At the last grab in the store I threw in some fresh limes and lemons to have on hand.

My mom invited us over for a Memorial Day BBQ and I made the – at the time what I thought to be a good idea – offer to bring Lemon Meringue Pie as I’d just purchased several huge lemons. I have a tendency to do this in all aspects of my life and especially in the kitchen – signing up for things that I don’t fully understand their scale and potential. This venture was one of those. But once I’d mentioned Lemon Meringue to my mom, there was no turning back. I had to show up to the BBQ with that pie in my hands. I’ve never made a lemon custard or curd. I’ve never made meringue. I don’t like pie shells so I had already decided I’d use the graham cracker crust in Ina Garten’s Frozen Key Lime Pie recipe I recently made. With one out of three down, how hard could it be?

Well, not hard, but interesting. It was hours before the party and we were standing in line at Hollywood Studios to see American Idol Scotty (I know, corny, and yes I’m a bit of a dork). There I was thinking of the pie I had to serve in mere hours and I hadn’t even picked out a recipe. As I stood in line I scanned different recipes to see which one to go with.  I settled on a recipe from Gourmet as I was pretty sure I had all the ingredients it called for. Once back at home and needing to leave in, yes…1 hour!, I sprang into action.

You start with the crust. I loved the graham cracker crust with this but you could easily do a pie shell, pastry crust, or even no crust and serve in bowls with a side of cookies as I saw here which is a great idea. While the crust cooks you melt the sugar, salt, water, milk, and cornstarch in a saucepan. This at first appears to do nothing and I was thinking, surely I’ve left out a major ingredient. But all of a sudden it will start to solidify and get gooey. At that point, you mix in a small amount of this mixture into the eggs yolks, and then the egg mixture back into this saucepan. As you continue to stir it, the mixture solidifies into a sturdy custard-like consistency.

Then you add in the lemon and lemon zest. This recipe calls for half a cup of lemon juice but my four huge lemons actually only yielded a fourth a cup. I was worried it might not be tart enough so I compensated with a little extra zest and the resulting flavor was spot-on. Finally you fold in a few tablespoons of butter into the filling. The resulting lemon filling is glossy and looks like its bursting with sunshine. Pour this mixture into the pie shell and set aside.

Next comes the meringue. As I said, I’ve never made meringue and it’s really not so easy. You diligently whip the egg whites with salt and cream of tartar until they get firm and then slowly add in the sugar. Again, silly me, I was short on ingredients and only had one third of the sugar it called for. So I did the rest with powdered sugar. The meringue didn’t get as sturdy as I would have liked and it didn’t taste particularly great at first– but it’s all I had. So, I plopped it on top of the pie (the most fun part by the way as it oozes out of the bowl and builds layer upon layer on your pie) and into the oven it went to brown.

By this point we were to be at my parents’ house in 15 minutes so the pie came straight out of the oven and into a lasagna pan for transport – held in place by two oven mitts. I sat in the car looking at my beautiful pie, full of hope, but the meringue wobbled from side to side as the car turned. I snapped a few pics to ensure I had evidence should this by chance turn out to be a success – although at that moment it seemed highly unlikely – or in case I just wanted to prove to myself I’d made it. Once at the house, the pie got to chill out in the fridge for a few hours before we indulged. And indulge we did – it was delicious. The lemon filling had just enough tang and bite accompanied by the sweet graham cracker crust and light fluffy meringue. In fact, the meringue tasted quite perfect despite the rocky start. This pie was a winner all around and everyone agreed – a nice cool accompaniment to the hot summer days to come. I can’t wait to make it again…the only danger is now that I know how easy it really is, I may make it too often!

Lemon Meringue Pie
Adapted from Gourmet

Ingredients

For the crust

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (I used ¼ cup and more zest)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

For the meringue

  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature 30 minutes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 superfine granulated sugar

Directions:

For the crust, pre-heat the oven to 350. Melt the butter. Mix with crushed graham crackers and sugar and press into pie shell. Bake 10-15 minutes until golden. Remove pie shell and increase heat to 375 to bake the finished pie.

For the filling, whisk together egg yolks and set aside. In a saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually add water and milk, whisking until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking frequently as mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and gradually whisk about 1 cup milk mixture into yolks, then whisk yolk mixture into remaining milk mixture. Add lemon zest and juice and simmer, whisking constantly, 3 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter until incorporated. Pour into pie shell.

For the meringue beat the reserved egg whites with cream of tartar and salt using an electric mixer at medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Increase speed to high and add superfine sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until meringue just holds stiff, glossy peaks. Pour the meringue over the top of the pie and put back in the oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool several hours before serving.

Update: Serve with Heirloom Tomato Pasta for a great summer lunch or supper. 

Pucker Up – Frozen Key Lime Pie

May 16, 2011 § 2 Comments

I’m not a pie girl. The fact that pies are “making a comeback” as many have put it, even appearing in weddings in replacement of a traditional wedding cake, really bothers me. I just don’t think a pastry crust with fruit filling and a little cream can even remotely compare to a decadent chocolate cake with sweet buttercream frosting. However, there are some pies I’ve grown fond of over the years. French silk and lemon meringue were my favorite pies as a kid – assuming the chocolate cake wasn’t an option of course. I recall eating them after our dinners in a Marie Calendar’s style restaurant as a little girl.  I’m not a fan of the pastry so id carefully scoop the filling, scraping the bottom ever so slightly to just “peel” off the custard, leaving behind just the crust. The resulting naked crust, stripped of its creaminess, made my family laugh every time.

The one pie I can say I wholeheartedly enjoy – crust and all – is the one and only key lime pie. I can’t recall the first time I tried the key lime pie but I believe I may have been around 12. We had moved to Florida and since my dad worked for a cruise line, we got to cruise all the time. I am pretty sure it was on one of these cruises – probably at a midnight buffet! – that I first tried what would battle the classic chocolate cake as my favorite dessert. One bite today of that creamy, tart goodness and I’m transported to that cruise ship, thousands of miles away, with the ocean breeze close by.

I’ve made Ina Garten’s Frozen Key Lime Pie several times now. I love the fact that it is a no-bake pie and uses fresh limes instead of tiny, impossible to juice, key limes. Believe me, just juicing the limes for this pie is plenty of work. I honestly can’t even imagine using real key limes. The resulting pie, even without the key limes, is full of flavor, creamy, and tart enough to make your lips pucker!

The recipe calls for 4-5 limes but I’d buy extras when you are shopping for this. The limes I used this last time weren’t ripe enough so I ended up using close to 9 just to get enough juice. I’m glad I had bought extra for my husband’s cocktails – too bad for him there weren’t any leftover. Honestly juicing the limes is the only hassle in this recipe. Other than that it’s really quite easy.

First you make the crust by breaking up the graham crackers. The easiest thing to do is to put them in a plastic bag and hit them with a rolling pin or back of a large spoon. Mix the crumbs with sugar and melted butter and press into the pie plate and bake. I recall the last time I made this pie I had the same problem that the crust didn’t quite stick together. This isn’t really a problem but if you’re looking for a more sturdy crust, add some additional butter to help bind the crackers together.

While the crust is baking make the filling by mixing the lime juice, zest, egg yolks, sugar, and condensed milk. As I said, the resulting pie is very tart. If you’re not such a fan, you can omit the zest to cut back on the tartness.

Allow the crust to cool before pouring the filling in. Freeze for a few hours until set and then top with whipped cream. Please whatever you do, DO NOT, used canned whipped cream. This is a sin in my book. If you have never made your own whipped cream, give it a try and you’ll understand why I’m adamant about this. Homemade whipped cream is deliciously rich and tastes like grandma’s house. To make the whipped cream just whip together the cream, sugar, and vanilla. Decorate the pie either by piping the cream with a plastic bag or just spoon over the top, cover, and put back in the freezer. The recipe says the pie only needs to sit several hours but I’ve found it needs at the least 8 hours, especially if you are transporting it to a party. You want the pie to really freeze all the way. The whipped cream ends up very sturdy this way – if you prefer to top the pie with the cream just before serving, that would be delicious too. This pie is the perfect start to summer!

Ina Garten’s Frozen Key Lime Pie

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 6 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons grated lime zest – omit if you don’t want the pie as tart
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (recipe calls for 4 to 5 limes but may be closer to 8-9)

For the decoration:

  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Thin lime wedges

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl. Press mixture into a 9-inch pie pan, ensuring equal thickness. Bake for 10 minutes and set aside to cool completely.
  3. Beat the egg yolks and sugar on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for 5 minutes, until thick.
  4. Reduce to medium speed and add the condensed milk, lime zest, and lime juice.
  5. Pour into the baked pie shell and freeze for a  few hours.
  6. For the decoration, beat the heavy cream on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until firm. Spoon or pipe decoratively onto the pie and decorate with lime. Freeze for several hours or preferably, overnight.

For the original recipe, click here.

Update: Serve with Fiesta Corn Salad with Cumin Lime Dressing and Honey-Sauced Chicken Wings for a fun game-day meal. 

Instead of Chicken Wings I’ll Make You…Pumpkin Flan?

December 22, 2010 § 1 Comment

I have now made these incredible Honey Seared Chicken Wings several times in my slow cooker – they are relatively easy and very delicious so when my husband called me one day and asked if I’d make them for his work potluck party I said, “Sure, why not?” Fast forward to Sunday evening and we’re in Target after a full day of trying to find Christmas gifts in the overcrowded mall. It was late and I just wanted to go home. We were looking for the chicken wings and to my disappointment, they didn’t have the drumettes, only the attached wing and drumette. While I don’t mind feeding this to my family, I was leery of sending my husband into his relatively new job with these wings. As we went up and down the aisles thinking of what else I could make him, I thought of pumpkin flan – of course, a natural substitute for chicken wings!

I have never even tried pumpkin flan but I make flan regularly so I figured it couldn’t be that difficult. What was better, I knew I had the pumpkin, eggs, and milk in my fridge which meant this Target trip could be cut short and I could go home. Once home, I turned to my new favortie app of all, the Epicurious app, and looked for Pumpkin Flan. This recipe was short and sweet – it had to be a winner.

I followed the recipe for the most part. I don’t keep allspice so instead I added a pinch of each: cloves, nutmeg, ginger. I never buy whole milk unless its for a recipe and all I had was skim – I’ve made flan from skim milk before and know it doesn’t produce a very nice custard. However, I did have some heavy cream so I did 3/4 skim and 1/4 heavy cream.

As I pulled the flan out of the oven, I was so tempted to take a bite and see how it did. But since I wasn’t “flipping” it as you should and instead was sending my husband with my pyrex pie dish, there was no way to sneak a taste! I had to cross my fingers and hope for the best. Luckily my husband promptly texted me that the dessert was a success. Later that week it was my dad’s birthday and I decided to make this dessert for him – which I got to taste – and I can say it’s really delicious!

Click here for the Pumpkin Flan Recipe

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