Archives for June 2012

My Life According To…

Happy Sunday y’all!
Last Sunday I fed some of the local ducks…errr swans? Or dwans. Yes, with the little dwanling.
I run by this park almost every morning and let me tell you, that father dwan came after me because I ran too close to the dwanling. Not cool! 

Oh, hello, beautiful enchiladas. How you complete my life.

I am a genius for this banana coffee cake
that I love to devour with my morning coffee.

We had some serious thunder storms earlier this week.
Makes for a terrified Bella.
Yea, she was pretty much telling me “Yo girl, those big noises coming from outside are scaring the bee-jee-zus out of me.” 

She then ran to get her baby to calm her down.

She wore herself down.

What’s up childhood? Classic photo of seester and I.
Could we be anymore different?

Best idea I had this week.

I have a crazy life…mixing up some simple chicken

with some rather hideous, yet amazingly tasty tofu.

I curled my hair for the first time in ages this week.

Taking pictures of yourself can be quite entertaining when you are bored out of your mind.
Let’s just say that my car has been in the shop this past week, for the THIRD time since I have owned it.
Oh, and none of those occasions had to do with me being in a wreck or doing anything to my car. 
I am an awesome driver.

Losing my mind.

Yep, I have pretty much lost my mind. Now, I have said it before, and I will say it again, I am not a vegetarian or a vegan. However, there are times when I do find myself eating vegan foods and not even realizing it. When you have had a vegan dish prepared for you by culinary kings or queens, it is easy to get hooked on the vegan lifestyle. For example, I sometimes find myself craving tofu. This is where I have lost my mind. Yep, in particular, a cilantro-ginger tofu that a particular Whole Foods Market carries.  Well, they only carry it occasionally, mainly, whenever the feel like it. 
So, I decided that instead of waiting on Whole Foods to make up their mind on when they feel like making that yummy tofu (again, never though I’d say those words), I just made it myself. Yesterday. 
Tofu. Success. Now, I didn’t try to force feed tofu down any one’s throat in my family. In fact, my parents just might be reading this and thinking to themselves…”if she thinks she is feeding us tofu she is (insert expletive here).” Seriously, do you honestly think that I would eat something without flavor? Think again. 
This tofu is all about flavor.

The use of fresh cilantro gives this dish an earthy quality, while the fresh ginger adds a subtle lemony sweetness.
Oh Lawd.

Now I should probably go sit in a corner and really think about what I just posted.
Now, Friday’s are not about tofu, they are about margaritas…so make tofu next week :).
Cilantro-Ginger Pesto Tofu (GF/V):
10 oz. firm, organic, tofu 
2 bunches of fresh cilantro
3-4 big chunks of fresh ginger
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Drain the tofu and place the block of tofu on a small plate, cover the tofu with a paper towel and place another plate over the tofu. Gently press the plate down on top of the tofu to squeeze out the excess liquid. Let sit for about 30 minutes.
2. Using a large serrated knife, slice the block of tofu into 4 large chunks, then slice each chunk into smaller chunks. 
3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the tofu on the baking sheet and bake for 20-22 minutes, or until slightly golden on the edges.
4. Meanwhile, to make the pesto, in the bowl of a food processor, pulse the cilantro and ginger together until just broken down.
5. With the machine running, stream in the evoo until the pesto is smooth.
6. Stop the machine, season with salt and pepper.
7. Let the tofu cool completely on the baking sheet.
8. Once cooled, place the tofu in a large mixing bowl and toss with the pesto.
9. Serve.
Makes about 28 squares of tofu.

The Simple Things in Life.

You know what they say…and I don’t even know exactly who “they” are, but they say, “the simple things in life aren’t free.” If I had a dollar for every time that statement was correct, I’d be a millionaire, but then, that wouldn’t be simple, would it? 
Just think about it. How many times a day do you share a funny moment, or a priceless experience with someone, and you think to yourself…I wouldn’t trade that for the world? This has been happening to me ALOT lately…like ALOT ALOT. I have begun to cherish the little things, or simple things, like phone calls with seester where sometimes we don’t have much to say, but just being on the phone together, listening to each other breathe (which is usually accompanied by seester ordering her coffee at Whole Foods while I am chilling on the line) is enough. 
Or how about yesterday, when I showed up at Victoria’s Secret to purchase some new pj’s expecting to spend at least $30, and low and behold…a huge sale was happening. I walked out having spent $5.94. Ahhh the simple things. One last one…Bella’s snoring is absolutely hilarious…I laugh every time. Seriously. Falling over laughing. Then again, at the same time, I can’t help but think that she is finally comfortable in this house. After being mistreated so badly on a puppy mill farm, this has got to feel like the Royal Palace to her. 
Now, I know you have probably seen some sort of recipe like this before, but again, we are on the topic of simple things, so I thought this was only appropriate.
 stuffed with a feta cheese mixture
and spinach.

Nope, it just doesn’t get more simple than that.

Make this chicken.
It can guarantee you a simple life.
Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken (GF):
3/4-1 lb. (about 3-4 pieces) of boneless, skinless, chicken cutlets (these are thin…you can buy chicken breasts, but make sure your pound them with a meat tenderizer. This will help flatten the breasts and make them easy for rolling up). 
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 c. crumbled feta cheese
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 T. non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 c. of fresh spinach leaves
extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Lay the chicken flat on to the baking sheet and season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
3. In a small bowl, combine the feta, garlic, and yogurt. Mix well.
4. Spread about 1-2 tablespoons of the feta mixture on to each piece of chicken.
5. Place about 1/4 c. of spinach at the top end of each piece of chicken. 
6. Beginning at the top of each piece of chicken, roll the chicken up and lay it seam side down on the baking sheet.
7. Fasten the end of each piece of chicken with a toothpick so that the mixture doesn’t seep out during baking.
8. Drizzle each piece of chicken with evoo and bake for 25-30 minutes or until slightly golden. 
9. Let the chicken rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
Makes about 3-4 servings.


Happy Wednesday y’all!
Let’s talk about something that I rarely focus on: sandwiches. I don’t know about y’all, but during the summer months I crave sandwiches! I think it has something to do with visiting my Mawmaw during the summer when I was younger. My sister and I would beg her to make us sandwiches for lunch, because, honestly, she makes the best damn sandwiches ever. I don’t know if it was the dense toasted potato bread or the creamy, tangy, slather of Miracle Whip, but the woman knows how to make a mean sandwich. 
Or maybe my love for sandwiches comes from my summer trips to Splash Town Water Park, or to the beach, with my cousins. We would load up the car, fill the cooler with our favorite drinks, snacks, and homemade sandwiches, then hit the water slides or the beach for a couple of hours before breaking for lunch. 
To me, sandwiches are 10 times better after you have been running around burning energy at a water park, or spending hours burying your cousins in the sand and building sandcastles. 
While actual meat and cheese sandwiches are not on the menu today, let’s talk about the best kind of sandwiches, dessert sandwiches, more specifically, cookie sandwiches.
O yes.
Would you believe me if I told you that this cookie is made with absolutely no butter?
Yep, that’s coconut oil up there people!
 Oh, and would you believe that these cookies are also gluten-free?
Surprise, surprise!

So, you roll the oatmeal-walnut cookie batter into tiny little balls

which benefits us all, because it is safe to have 5 small cookie sandwiches now…right?
 Ummm, so yea, then I made a creamy peanut butter filling.

We all know how I feel about peanut butter.

It’s no secret.

I’m obsessed.

This cookie is everything I hoped for and more…the oatmeal cookie is chewy on the inside, slightly crispy on the outside, with a bit of crunch from the chopped walnuts, and the flavor is insane…cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar…need I say more?
The peanut butter filling…
that speaks for itself.
Now, who wants to pack these up and go to the beach with me?
Let’s build sandcastles!
Gluten-Free Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies with Creamy Peanut Butter Filling (recipe adapted from Joy the Baker):
For the cookies:
1 1/4 c. gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 c. oat flour (you can buy this at most grocery stores or pulse gf oats in a food processor until you reach a powdery flour-like substance)
1/2 c. buckwheat flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 c. coconut oil, not melted, at room temperature
1 c. light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
For the filling:
3 T. coconut oil, not melted, at room temperature
1/2 c. smooth peanut butter
1 c. powdered sugar
pure vanilla extract, as needed
3-4 T. non-dairy milk (I used coconut milk)
For the cookies:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, oat flour, buckwheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the coconut oil and brown sugar together until creamy, about 2 minutes. 
4. Add the egg and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute.
5. Add the vanilla and beat again until just incorporated.
6. Working in two batches, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Fold in the walnuts.
7. Portion 1 teaspoon of cookie dough in your hand, roll it into a ball, and place on the baking sheet.
8. Bake for 10-13 minutes or until they are slightly golden brown. I took them out around 11 minutes and let them cool on the baking sheet.
For the filling:
1. While the cookies are baking, in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the coconut oil, peanut butter, and powdered sugar together on medium speed. Drizzle in a bit of vanilla extract as you go along.
2. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you achieve a desired consistency. 
3. When the cookies are finished cooling, flip over and spread half of the cookie bottoms with the peanut butter filling. Top with a similar size cookie. Devour.
Makes about 30 cookies or 15 cookie sandwiches.

Coffee in my Cake.

Happy Tuesday y’all!
I absolutely love rainy mornings…it gives me an excuse to not go for my usual outdoor run around the neighborhood. It’s like the feeling you had when your teacher gave you a free hall pass to use the bathroom, but really, you wandered around the halls of your high school for about 30 minutes contemplating the last bell of the day. Or, you could have just been me in high school, all I had to do was make a phone call to my mother who would talk to the secretary, who adored me, to turn me loose from school due to any sort of “sickness” I had. 
I am telling you, I had all sorts of ailments, from “I can’t stand 3rd period-itis,” to “do I really have to go to cheer leading practice for three hours after school-itis?” The worst was senioritis. Basically, when I wanted out of school, I got out. This usually involved two of my friends and I high-tailing it to our fave local snow-cone joint! Yep, I was sooo bad…like the “I had a 3.8 g.p.a. and was 3rd in my class bad.” Dangerous.
Anyhoo, I took it “easy” this morning and watched re-runs of Boy Meets World while I road 45 minutes on the bike trainer. I was soooo Topanga when I was 7…you have no idea. I would beg my parents to let me stay in every Friday night for T.G.I.F. It unfortunately coincided with our usual 1 night a week out to eat family dinners. O my dear DVR…where were you then? Thank goodness for re-runs! 
Back to rainy weather…it calls for coffee. But seriously…any day calls for coffee. It also calls for a warm, comforting breakfast. 
I’ve got your breakfast right here.
Coffee Cake.
Don’t be fooled by the name…there is no actual coffee in coffee cake, unless of course, you invent some sort of coffee cake with coffee in it…which I am all for!
Let’s call this Banana Bread Coffee Cake.

It’s meant to be devoured with a good cup of coffee

This cake had all the flavors of a classic banana bread, with bananas baked right into the batter, and extra bananas arranged between the layers in the cake.
Seriously, it’s a banana explosion.

This cake only gets better with the addition of a cinnamon-sugar pecan topping, which gives this rather dense cake a bit of crunch with each bite.

Yes, I totally went there.
Now, pour yourself a cup of coffee and go to town!
Banana Bread Coffee Cake (GF):
2 c. almond flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
3 T. granulated sugar
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. light brown sugar
2 T coconut oil (not melted)
2 T. melted coconut oil
2 ripe bananas, mashed
seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1 c. plain non-fat Greek yogurt (you can substitute plain non-dairy yogurt for a completely non-dairy coffee cake 🙂 )
1 ripe banana, sliced crosswise into 1/2 in. pieces
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 in. square cake pan with parchment paper.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a small mixing bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and pecans. 
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar and non-melted coconut oil together until smooth and creamy. 
5. Add the melted coconut oil and beat again. 
6. Add the mashed bananas to the mixture and beat again, until everything is fully distributed.
7. Beat in the yogurt and the vanilla.
8. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the dry ingredients (in two sections) to the wet ingredients.
9. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan.
10. Sprinkle half of the pecan mixture over the batter and distribute the banana slices crosswise in neatly arranged rows over the pecan mixture. 
11. Pour the remaining better over the bananas.
12. Distribute the remaining pecan mixture evenly over the cake, pressing the pecans gently 
13. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Slice into squares and serve warm.
Makes 16 square pieces of cake.