Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fingerprint Fudge

   I've made this recipe a few times with mixed success.  It always comes out like "real fudge" in taste; it is the presentation that doesn't fare well. The first time I made it I planned to bring some on a visit to my friend to see her new baby.  I skipped the parchment paper and used a baking pan to try to get more squares. I spread it too thin and tried to cut it with a pizza cutter.  It stuck so badly I had to pull it off the cutter with my fingers, hence my re-naming of the recipe. I had softened the butter in the microwave and thought that might have affected the consistency. 
    The second time I spread the fudge out on aluminum foil, thinking it would be easier.  Boy was I wrong.  It was really interesting trying to peel it off and not get any Reynold's wrap in your dessert.  Thinking the third time must be the charm, I persevered. I planned on using cookie cutters to make a holiday treat and it just didn't want to come out of the pan.  I finally gave up and cut little squares and put them on a plate to go.  It almost looked more like hard cake frosting.
    I gave it one last shot.  This time,  I followed the recipe's advice to use parchment paper in the proper size pan and hey, it actually worked!  I don't have a picture to share, not because I'm embarrassed, but because it all got eaten!  I have stuck by this recipe because the fudge is deliciously sweet while the fact that it is caffeine and sugar free makes it a guilt-free dessert.  It may take a little patience, but it is worth the work.  Or you could try reading the recipe and actually following directions if you want to make things easier on yourself.  Please take my advice and use the parchment paper.  Otherwise, you are just asking for fudge heartache.  Trust me; I've been there.

Carob Fudge
(source unknown, I got this one from my nutritionist Anne)

makes about 1 dozen small squares

1 cup softened butter, preferably raw butter
1 cup raw honey
1 cup carob powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp chocolate extract (optional)
1/2 tsp sea salt

    Place all ingredients in food processor and process until well blended. Line a large loaf pan with parchment paper and spread mixture about 1/2 inch thick.  Wrap up in parchment paper and refrigerate several hours. Cut into small squares and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Eggplant

    There's a joke in my house.  Every time I buy an eggplant, my husband says, "How long before I throw this one in the garbage?"  A few years back I got into the habit of buying eggplants and never getting around to cooking them.  In fact, I did that with a lot of food.  Now I try to cook around what I have, not what I am in the mood for that day. So, naturally he was skeptical when I bought two eggplants this week.  I am happy to report that the latest eggplants did not rot in vain and actually make it to the dinner table in a delicious dish I will add to our recipe binder. This recipe does take awhile, but it produced a big batch.  I was tempted to skip the extra step of letting the eggplant sit, but as soon as I salted it, my neighbor pulled up to deliver eggs.  She has her own chickens and her eggs are the best. By the time we were done chatting I only had 15 minutes left on the eggplant prep and I still had to prep the other ingredients. The timing worked out perfectly.  Next time I will have to freeze some so I have it on hand.  We just ate it for lunches and never tucked away any in the freezer.

from: Tosca Reno's Eat Clean Cookbook
I modified the recipe to what I had on hand.

2 eggplants
2 zucchini
2 green peppers- I used 1
2 red peppers- I threw in some canned red peppers at the end instead
4 onions- I think I used 1
6 tomatoes- I substituted 1 can Muir Glen Fire Roasted tomatoes, including liquid
6 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1/4 cup fresh basil- I used dried
1/4 cup fresh dill- I used dried
3 1/2 tsp sea salt
black pepper

Peel and cube eggplant. Toss with 2 tsp salt and cover for one hour.  Transfer to colander and rinse well. Pat dry.  This reduces the bitterness in eggplant. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  *Saute eggplant and vegetables in batches. Toss the herbs, garlic, sea salt and pepper into remaining liquid and cook until fragrant. Coat a roasting pan with olive oil.  Bake uncovered for an hour.  Serve over brown rice or as is.
* I skipped the sauteing of vegetables and spices and went straight to putting the vegetables and spices together to roast in the oven.  Afterwards, I added some roasted red peppers.  It was delicious.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Falafel- Take one, baked
I'm not sure when a became a falafel fan, but I decided to try to make my own.  Notice I used the word try.  I was afraid of the splattering oil of deep-frying, so the first time I baked it in the oven.  It was good, but very fragile and not at all like my favorite restaurant.  My second attempt I fried it since I thought that would make it more like the "real thing."  I mixed up the falafel and everything was going well until I dropped them into the hot oil.  The falafel balls just melted into the oil, completely losing any shape.  I scooped up the falafel mush and smeared it onto a spinach wrap with some kalamata olive spread.  It wasn't pretty, but it still tasted good.  I inquired at the restaurant and was told I may have had too much moisture since I used canned chickpeas instead of dried.  I guess there are no shortcuts on the road to good falafel.

from: Eat Cheap, but Eat Well by Charles Mattocks

1 16 ounce bag dried chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Rinse the dried chickpeas and soak them in enough water to cover overnight, until softened. Drain and add to a saucepan with 2 cups fresh water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Drain and let cool.
2. In a food processor, combine the cooked chickpeas, onion, parsley, garlic, coriander, and cumin.   Add salt and pepper to taste; then add the baking powder. Blend into a smooth, thick paste. Form the mixture into small golf ball-size balls, flattening them slightly so they don't roll.
3.  Add enough canola oil to a large skillet to fry the falafel (about 2 inches) and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, carefully add the falafel balls and fry until crisp golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.  Alternatively, bake in oven at 475 degrees for 10 minutes on a greased cooking tray.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


    There are many reasons to add a meatless meal or two to your recipe stash be it religious, philosophical, health, or economic.  With the price of meat these days adding a meatless meal a week can be a way to trim the grocery bill.  I never thought I could live without protein at every meal and yet I have recently come to appreciate a good bowl of beans and rice.  I like the convenience of working with legumes.  There is no meat to thaw out or worry about spoiling.  A bag of beans or lentils takes up little room in my pantry and is always there when there is a snowstorm preventing a trip to the market.  My friend has told me that in Peru, lentils are eaten on Monday to bring prosperity.  It was a rainy day Monday, so I cooked up a batch of lentil soup. I had two recipes so I picked the one with the ingredients I had on hand and took some liberties with it.

Lentil and Spinach Soup
from: Vegan Kitchen by J. Bennett

2 diced onions                                                  
1 tsp minced garlic                                            
4 stalks celery                                                    
2 medium diced carrots                                      
1 1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups brown lentils, washed
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 cups chopped spinach

Saute vegetables and spices.  Add lentils and 2 quarts water. Bring to a boil. Simmer 15-25 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and spinach.  Discard bay leaf. Serve immediately.

Shorcut Lentil Soup
Well, that's the recipe version.  Here's what I did:

2 cups lentils (green since that's what I had)
1 box Pacific Foods vegetable broth (it was on sale this week)
1/4 cup dehydrated vegetable flakes (mix of carrots, peas, green bean..)
2 tsp each- dehydrated onion, garlic
1 1/2 tsp, basil
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 cup quinoa (I learned the hard way this stuff expands)

  I set the crockpot on high for 4 hours and dumped all the ingredients in filling it to the top with water. One hour before dinner I added 1/2 bag of frozen spinach.  The soup came out great and I was even asked what kind of meat was in it since it smelled so good.