Almost Vegan Chocolate Cake (with black beans and avocado. . . oh, and tofu.)

Okay, wha?

I can hear you all.

And I can see your noses all scrunched up like you all want NOTHING to do with this cake.

But don’t be fooled!

Well, don’t be fooled in either direction. I can’t claim it’s “healthy” because there’s no lying about the sugar content, BUT it’s got some healthy stuff in it – and not a lot of fat.

But also, don’t be fooled that it’s a pile of yucky grossness either, because it’s certainly not.

And, well, it’s not a knock-your-socks off-dang!-this-is-the-best-freakin-cake-i’ve-ever-eaten chocolate cake either.

But I will tell you what it IS:

  • It is a cake that requires a tall glass of milk, or a steaming cup of coffee as a dining partner, because it might stick to the roof of your mouth, or your teeth – which is perfectly fine by me.
  • It is an unusual textural combination between a cake, a bread, and a brownie.
  • It is chewy, thick, and dense – therefore a small slice is rightly satisfying.
  • The frosting is rich and flavorful.
  • It is a cake that calls your name from the other room when you’re vegged out on the couch at 10pm watching TV and your stomach starts to growl.
  • It’s “earthy”, as my middle guy put it. . . . Am I rubbing off on them?
  • “It’s good for having all that weird stuff in it” – as all the boys put it.

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Week 21 – A Field is still a Field

There is a field not far from our house.

We live in suburbia.

Cow pastures are not common in our immediate area.

But there is one here. Right around the corner. On the vertex of a busy intersection.

Local lore says there is an old woman, set in her ways, who refuses to sell.

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Greek Diced Veggie Salad


I’m sensing a pattern here.

Binge on sweets (i.e. Orange Cream Bundt Cake), wax vegetarian for a couple of days.

Sweets, veggies. Sweets, veggies.

With some “pro-tine” in between.

It’s a balancing act, and I’m alright with it.

This is a pretty salad, isn’t it?

You know what would make it even prettier?

Deep purple kalamata olives.

Which happen to be my favorite part of the salad.

And which I didn’t happen to notice I forgot until I was eating my photo subject.

Darn it!

Just imagine them there and appreciate how pretty and delicious they would be.

And enjoy a “recovery” meal with me.

Sometimes, to make this salad heartier, I’ll add some white beans and serve it with a crusty baguette.

What you put on your baguette, obviously, is up to you.

Butter is always an excellent option, but maybe – if you’re really posing as a healthster – you want to mash up some avocado with garlic and salt and schmear your carbs with deliciously healthy green mash instead.

Just a suggestion.

Either way, this is a delightful route out of elastic and back into button-up pants.

Recipe:

Greek Diced Veggie Salad

Ingredients:

1 cucumber, seeded and diced
1 vine ripened (medium) tomato, seeded and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed and diced
1/4 cup diced red onion
4-5 Kalamata olives, seeded and quartered
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, rubbed
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
crumbled feta cheese

optional greens: romaine lettuce, spinach, spring greens. . . dark and leafy.

Directions:
Add all ingredients, except feta, to a large mixing bowl. Toss to combine well. Spoon diced veggie salad over a bed of greens and top with crumbled feta.

Source: Slightly adapted from: Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

Orange Cream (and White Bean) Bundt Cake

Six weeks ago, I spied these cookies on Cookies and Cups.

Two weeks ago, I let my little guy down.

I wasn’t where I was supposed to be when I was supposed to be.

My heart broke; he didn’t seem to mind.

Sometimes those things happen. I will probably remember it forever, he might never remember it.

But it was what it was, and it called for fixing.

So I surprised him, picked him up early from school, and told him he could pick what we did for the next few hours while the Babes napped – including a pre-nap lunch at the restaurant of his choice.

And be still my heart, you know what he picked? No burgers and fries, no eating out. Just home.

And you know what he chose to do?

Bake. Continue reading

Week 20 – Choose to Forgive

Am I the only one who feels like “forgiveness” is elusive and difficult to define?

Once, I sat in deep conversation with a friend, and she said to me, “Have you forgiven them?”

I stared at her blankly.

I was racing through my mind trying to pin down exactly what forgiveness was.

Did it mean I was waving my hands dismissively and saying, “Oh, don’t worry about it.”

Did it mean offensive events that had transpired were suddenly acceptable?

Did it mean I was just to ignore past hurts and pretend they never happened?

Did it mean responsibility didn’t matter?

“It depends on what you mean by forgive,” was my answer.

I couldn’t come up with anything better.

*****

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Healthy Hippie Snack Mix

For the last two and a half weeks, this is a sample of some of the stuff I’ve been doing:

Experimenting with quinoa
Visiting with my Mama
Painting rooms of my house
Baking loaves of chocolate bread
Making doctor’s appointments for the kids
Mixing up green bean salads
Grilling pork tenderloin
Rummaging through salvage yards
Visiting my in-laws
Making beards for my 10-year-old, (yes, beards.)
Baking my first ever double chocolate cheesecake
Attending school plays
Shopping for jewelry (like this snake twist necklace, and I’m so freaking excited I found them online too, because I thought I’d never get the one I really wanted in gun-metal grey because the lady at the boutique told us that they never know what they’re getting in their next shipments. Hello seriously long run-on sentence. Hello, wonderful online store. Thanks for providing the coolest necklace EVAH!)
Dating my husband
Watching Cars and Cars 2 with the kiddos
Baking uh-may-zing new cookies
Trying to improve on old-school slow cooker recipes
Weeding the garden.
Eating multiple Latin pastries
Cutting hair(s)
Watching my middle guy’s basketball play-offs.
Watching the real deal NBA finals.
Eating spicy wings and cheesy fries with bacon and jalapenos, and simultaneously watching three hot twenty-something girls schmooze free drinks out of an old man sitting alone at the bar – who happened to be drinking double shots of vodka on the rocks with a side of Tabasco.
Weird.
Doing homework. (I love kindergarten homework, by the way. Easy peasy. That’s my style.)
Re-finishing our old dining room table for outside. (Actually, mostly I watched my mom do this. I sanded a little. She did the rest. Thanks, Mom. Now we have a super-cute dining room table on our back patio. Now if we could just get rid of the mosquitos. . . .)
Washing clothes, folding clothes. Repeat. Like a billion times.
Going to the beach.
Going to the pool.
Catching up with friends.
Celebrating Mother’s day, friend’s birthdays, and anniversaries.
Skipping workouts.
Drinking multiple cups of coffee.
Changing light bulbs.
Staying up too late watching quality TV, like Mob Wives. (“Joon-yuh” is such a weasel, right?! Plus, I can’t believe the cops are like, making these mobsters do time for their crimes. The nerve.)
Re-arranging pictures on my walls.
Making and eating Pasta Fagiolli. On two occasions.

So why, when I’ve still been cooking and baking away, do you get snack mix today?

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Roasted Blueberries and Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes

I’m going to address this short-stack first, but stick around for the blueberries – they’re the real reason for this post.

I wish I was completely sold on these pancakes, but I’m not. I thought they were pretty tasty, just not, “ohmygoshyouhavetomaketheseNOW!”, tasty.

This recipe is a bit of an ode to my big sis, who now eats gluten-free.

My goal was to make some gluten free pancakes that would be a yummy substitute without having to use special gluten-free flour.

I don’t usually eat gluten free, so I don’t know how this texture compares, but as far as competition for regular old white flour pancakes goes? I can’t honestly say I’d vote for the oat version.

They were pretty delicate, and I had to be fairly gentle when flipping them,  but after trying oats alone, and then the oat and rice flour combo, I found that the oat/rice combo held together better and seemed to puff up a little more. The one (possibly) down side, is that there is a tiny bit of a grainy texture to the cakes, but I didn’t mind it, and the kids didn’t say boo about it.

They’re certainly worth a try if you’re still fiddling around trying to find something gluten free that satisfies your flapjack craving.

Let’s face it, really. Any pancake can taste good if you slather enough butter and toppings on it.

That’s where these roasted blueberries come in.

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Week 19 – Remember Who You Are

There will always be nay-sayers.

There will always be someone out there trying to tell you you’re not good enough, or your idea is not the best, or what you’re doing isn’t up to par, or they don’t need you or your skill or your talent.

There will be someone who doesn’t line up to be your cheerleader or who won’t pat your back and tell you, “great job!”.

They might even tell you they don’t like what you’re doing. They think it’s a bad idea. They might try to stop you from achieving your dreams.

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Slow Cooked Italian Style Sirloin with Yellow Peppers

Days at the beach. The tic-tic-tic of sprinklers. Summer camp. Swimming lessons. Hot dog roasts. Water skiing. Weekend camping trips. Lightening bugs. Day trips. Thunderstorms. Rainy afternoons. Too-hot-to-go-outside afternoons. 4th of July parades. Fireworks. Bar b ques. Sleepovers. Hectic days. Lazy days. Our-house-is-packed-with-friends days.

It’s all coming.

It’s just around the corner.

(Eeeee! 🙂 )

Summer is almost here.

My little-cooking-self is doing a childish, bouncy, mini-clap (with required squeal) that I now have the recipe for this easier-than-ever slow cooked beef.

My heart-friend M.K. brought this to our family when the Babes was born.

We devoured it like wild animals.

And then we started craving it like wild animals.

I swear my husband had dreams about it.

And oh, Mama! When I figured out how easy it is???

“Holy Hannah!”. . . as my little sis would say.

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Old Fashioned Toffee Bars and The Advice of Grandmas

The advice of grandmothers:

  • You’ll catch cold if you go out in the rain uncovered.
  • Don’t buy one unless you have the money to buy two.
  • A tiny chunk of raw hamburger in the kitchen sink drain will eat away nasty odors.
  • Scotch, on the rocks, is an appropriate drink in any situation.
  • A steady rotation of regular meals assigned to each weekday keeps meal planning simple.
  • Keep your kids out of scheduled activities as long as you can.
  • And, cut these bars immediately when they come out of the oven – probably with a wet knife.

Grandmothers know their business.

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