September 18, 2014

Earth Balance Review


I'm going to take a quick detour from my Vegan MoFo theme and do a review of this amazing Earth Balance stuff that I won - yes, WON! - from VeganMoFo.com. So, I'm just putting it out there that I wasn't given this stuff specifically to review, and nobody asked me to review it. I am reviewing it because I thought it would be a nice thing to do since I won it. Did I mention that I won it?! Seriously, though, I only won it because MoFo is a time of magic, when unicorns whinny outside my kitchen window and pixies poop jellybeans into my morning coffee.
I love you, MoFo! Thanks for the giveaway and the awesome prize! And, mucho thanks to Earth Balance for supplying and shipping it - oh, and for inventing it too! I bet I eat my weight every year in organic Earth Balance butter, a substance for which I will always be grateful to you. Love the stuff.

This is my prize. ALL of this! Mine! ALL MINE!!!
Fra-geeeee-laaaaaay.

That top picture,yeah that one with all the goodies, is what came in a rather beat up box to my modest home in Fort Worth, TX, on a hot summer day earlier this week. I was tired from work and grouchy from the heat. Cracking open a homely and unassuming box to find pure treasure inside was such a delight!

Now, on to the reviews...

 Earth Balance Creamy Peanut Butter

It's creamy, sweet (but not too sweet), and easy to spread on toast. What more can I say? Oh yeah, it doesn't separate. You don't have to spend two hours digging into the dry gulch at the bottom of the jug, knocking oil out all over your countertop, trying to get the nuts and the oil to kiss and make up. It's easy-peasy to work with and it's delicious.
Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Squares

Oh my goodness, these are so yummy! They are light and buttery. The "cheese" flavor doesn't come through very strongly on the first bite - it's more of an aftertaste. But I didn't mind. These were really tasty. I had to stop myself from gorging on them. And today, when I got home from work, I was really looking forward to having another handful only to find that my husband and daughter had eaten the whole box! Grrrrrrr.


Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Kettle Chips

I'm gonna be honest. This was my least favorite offering from the box of goodies. The chips themselves are cooked perfectly - flaky and crunchy, and kind of oily, exactly like a good kettle chip should be. But the "cheddar" flavor is a bit off-putting. It's very strong, and it's not at all like traditional cheese. It has that weird whang of Daiya cheddar in it. If you've ever eaten Daiya you probably know what I mean. It's good, but it doesn't taste a thing like cheese. And it leaves an oily aftertaste in your mouth. To the chips' credit, though, I liked them enough to down the whole bag at work today. I let some of my coworkers try them too, to mixed reviews. I think this is a 'like it' or 'hate it' kind of treat. Some liked it, others hated it. My husband was one of the haters, but he also hates Daiya. I don't mind Daiya so much, if it's used on the right dishes. And I didn't mind these so much either, but I don't think I will buy more unless they are on deep clearance.


Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Mac and Cheese

It is absolutely amazing how much this looks like standard Kraft mac and cheese. It's a dead ringer! The flavor is nice, but it isn't going to fool anyone. It's amazing to behold, though - it's the closest I've ever seen to the boxed mac and cheese in vegan form. Like the kettle chips, it has a little whang of that Daiya-type aftertaste, and a slight acidity that I'm unaccustomed to in mac and cheese. But, if you don't go into it expecting it to taste exactly like the mac and cheese of your youth, and just go with it for what it is, you will be pleasantly surprised. My six-year-old daughter, who is a very picky eater, ate 2/3 of the bowl you see in the photo, so that right there is a vote of confidence. I think we will be buying this again, depending on the price. Take my advice and sprinkle a little nooch and freshly-ground black pepper on the top. It cuts the tiny sting of acidity you get (it's almost like a slight vinegar taste) and makes this totally snarf-able. My only complaint is that one box doesn't make very much. That bowl you see in the photo is the entire box! The bowl I used is just a standard-sized rimmed soup bowl that will comfortably hold one regular can of soup. The nutrition label purports to contain two and a half servings, but unless you are feeding tiny gnomes, you're hardly going to get two and a half servings out of it. 


Earth Balance Vegan White Cheddar Mac and Cheese

This box of mac and cheese was a vast improvement over the orange cheddar one. The flavor was much more smooth, less acidic. I really liked it and so did my daughter. This is the flavor we will likely be buying on a regular basis. The nooch and black pepper on top (not pictured) is good on this as well, but not 100% necessary. It tastes good all by itself. Thumbs up! Again, though, it didn't make very much. It's really just one serving unless you're eating it alongside other foods. But who the heck does that?? When I make mac and cheese it's because I'm too lazy to really cook, and the mac and cheese is all I eat. This happens more often than I care to admit... *sigh*

Altogether, my family and I thoroughly enjoyed this sample box of goodies and I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to try all of this wonderful stuff! 

P.S. Earth Balance, I have one request - please offer the white cheddar mac and cheese in a gluten free option and I will be your best customer. Seriously, I will eat it every day! Thanks!

September 16, 2014

Christine's Premium Motor Oil


Christine's Premium Motor Oil tastes oddly like chocolate syrup...

There are those perfect vegans in the world whose taste buds are so pure, unadulterated and refined that they claim to never crave any unhealthy foods. They might say, for instance, "I used to Jones for ice cream 24/7, but now all I ever want is kale." To this I say both Piff and Twaddle. C'mon, guys. Are you seriously telling me that you never crave slumber party food? Like, never?! 



Well, the opposite of that is me - I am a junk food enthusiast who could live on homemade popcorn drenched in vegan butter and nooch, and who loves to bake bake bake! Yes, I do try to control my intake of junk food, and I eat my fair share of kale, but I would be straight-up lying if I said I never had a sharp craving for the rich stuff - sugary, chocolaty, richy rich, ooey gooey, yummy stuff. Yeah, you know what I'm talkin' about!

Luckily, thanks to the absolute necessity of learning to cook if you want to be a healthy vegan, I can make my own versions of just about anything I'm craving. That's where this li'l awesome recipe comes in.

My six-year-old daughter, Lila, wanted ice cream with chocolate syrup. (She has two boxes of Ruby's Rockets in the freezer, but - no! - it had to be ice cream.) We all know the frozen banana ice cream trick (if you don't know it, scroll down to the bottom of this post), and it always suffices. She loves the stuff. But what about the syrup? I could probably find something that's technically vegan at the grocery store, but I don't want my little toot gobbling up gallons of HFCS and artificial dyes. What to do? Keep reading and you'll find out...

Christine (1983)

Anybody remember the movie Christine? The book was by the great Stephen King, the movie by the equally great John Carpenter. If you've never seen it, it's honestly really good. And, like so few horror films from the 80s, it stands the test of time. If you have cable TV (I, myself, do not *sigh*) I'm sure you'll be able to catch it in October when AMC starts running horror films all month. I highly recommend that you DVR it. Also, the title character, Christine, is a car. Thus, the motor oil association.

And now, let's get to the chocolate syrup recipe... Nom nom nom.

Christine's Premium Motor Oil

1 cup non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
1 cup sugar, or more to taste
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted if lumpy
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
A few drops/squirts liquid stevia (optional)
  • Bring the milk to a gentle boil in a small saucepan, stirring frequently with a whisk. 
  • Add the sugar and whisk to dissolve.
  • Add the cocoa and salt. Whisk to mix. Reduce heat to medium-low. 
  • Let mixture simmer for a few minutes, stirring or whisking occasionally, until it starts to thicken a bit. It will thicken more as it cools.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla.
  • Grab a spoon and try some. If it's not sweet enough, you can stir in a few drops of liquid stevia to pump it up.
  • Allow to cool before pouring on ice cream or stirring into milk. This stuff makes a fantastic glass of chocolate milk!!
  • Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.
Oh yeah, buddy! Banana ice cream with homemade chocolate syrup.
Life is gooooooooooood.

Side Note: We have begun homeschooling our daughter and this recipe was a fantastic cooking lesson for a six-year-old. It didn't have a lot of ingredients, but it did involve actual stove top cooking and mixing. She loved it!

Banana Ice Cream
If you've never made the banana ice cream, you must try it! It's so wonderful, and so insanely easy, you will never look back. Peel some bananas, break them up into two or three pieces and freeze them. When you're ready to make the ice cream, just toss the frozen bananas into a food processor and whirl until smooth - no sugar needed. My kid eats it right out of the processor tub and this is the reaction I get every time.

 A smile worth every dollop of ice cream dropped on the kitchen floor.

September 10, 2014

Evil Dead Delights



I work in a church and the sales rep from a giant corporate Christian book supply company just happened to stop in a few days ago to check in and see if we needed to order anything or whatever. He's a really nice guy, but I don't know him very well. I've only met him one other time in the year that I've worked there. Being a hospitable Southern gal, I offered him a muffin (vegan banana chocolate chip) and this sparked a nice conversation about vegan food and my blog and, of course, my MoFo theme. And then, get this, he says, "I have an idea for you. Evil Dead Delights." 

You have to picture it. This is a corporate Christian book supply guy in a button down shirt with a name tag on, not at all someone you'd expect to know what the heck The Evil Dead is. That's what I get for judging the book by it's cover, V'egg in my face! And I, of all people, should know better because nobody would ever look at me, in my dorky mom clothes, and think I love sci-fi and 80s horror films. 

So, this one's for you, really nice corporate Christian book supply guy in a button down shirt with a name tag on! I applaud your taste in 80s horror films. 

The Evil Dead (1981)

If you are unfamiliar with The Evil Dead trilogy, allow me to introduce you to it. It is the creation of Sam Raimi, whom you may know from the likes of Xena, Warrior Princess; SpiderMan; and Drag Me to Hell. The brilliant thing about The Evil Dead trilogy is that it starts off in all seriousness, with the first film being gory, gross and really spooky. Then the second film, The Evil Dead 2, starts to get a bit comical toward the middle - ridiculous amounts of blood, Ash's hand turning against him (this is where he gets his famous chainsaw arm), among other silly things. The third film in the trilogy, Army of Darkness, just goes balls out with zaniness. Ash is a total bad ass and he says tons of hilarious stuff. You can find literally thousands of Ash and Army of Darkness t-shirts, posters, toys, action figures, comics and so much more. It's a cult sensation. And it's totally delightful, just like these Evil Dead Delights.

Army of Darkness has a fabulous tagline:
"Trapped in time. Surrounded by evil. Low on gas."

I have a confession to make. I am one of those degenerate regulars you see in the clearance section of Half Price Books. You know, that shadowed section full of weirdos way back in the butt end of the store, right next to the bathrooms. Yeah, that's the one! Well, you may not know it but there's a cookbook section back there. And it rocks! My most recent score was a clean hardback copy of Skinny Bitch Bakery. Guess how much I paid for it. Go ahead, guess! Two bucks, my friend. It even has the dust jacket on it. Yeah, it's missing a few pages in the middle, but that ain't no thang. I can cook around that.

How can your mouth not water just looking at these things?!
And, yeah, they taste every bit as good as they look.

So, here's the recipe I chose to represent my Evil Dead Delights - Kim Barnouin's "Sanctuary Tracks Cookie Bars" from the Skinny Bitch Bakery cookbook. My personal baking notes are written parenthetically to the side of each ingredient. Deeeeee-licious!

1 tablespoon soy milk or creamer
1 cup mashed banana (I used one banana)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I used regular ol' salt)
3/4 cup non-dairy margarine (I used Earth Balance)
3/4 cup evaporated cane sugar (I used organic white sugar)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup crunchy organic peanut butter (I used creamy)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1 1/2 cups vegan chocolate chips
1 cup organic raspberry jam (I used apricot preserves)

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13x9" pan and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the soy milk and mashed banana and mix well. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream the margarine, sugars, and peanut butter; then add the vanilla extract and banana mixture.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the liquid mixture until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips until well combined. Evenly spread half of the dough in the pan. Spread the raspberry jam on top of the dough, and add the remaining dough mixture; smooth with a rubber spatula.
  • Bake the cookie bars for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are golden on top. Let the cookie bars cool completely before cutting them into squares.

September 4, 2014

The Stuff

"Are you eating it? Or is it eating you?" 


Anyone remember The Stuff? It's a bit more obscure, I'll admit, but the message resounds still today that primarily greed rules our food supply. The basic premise is that some miners find this yogurt-y lookin' "stuff" bubbling up from the ground, they taste it and decide it's delicious, then it gets marketed to the general public, who become addicted to it, become zombies, and basically get eaten from the inside out by it, eventually dying. 

The Stuff (1985)
Now, tell me how creepily familiar this next part sounds...
So, once it's discovered that The Stuff is killing people, and John Q. Public has been warned to dispose of his stash, the food industry starts experimenting with using smaller amounts of The Stuff inside regular ice cream so that they can keep the buyers addicted,and keep making money on it, but hopefully not have the customers get eaten from the inside out, at least not fast enough to have The Stuff be blamed for it. 

MSG anyone? Processed meat, maybe? Trans fat, much?!

Now let me just step down off of my soap box, brush myself off and get composed...
Ah, there we go. Let's get down to my very edible, healthy, and non-addictive (at least not in the "bad" way) version of The Stuff.
The Stuff in the film is white, but who wants to eat white puddin', I ask you? So, mine is chocolate. I threw coconut shavings on top for some white effect. So there.


This is an even simpler version of the Vegan Chocolate Mousse we all know and love. You know, the one where you melt chocolate chips down and combine them with non-dairy milk and sugar and tofu. But, frankly, when I'm really craving chocolate, I'm also usually in a brain-state that dictates, "You are too tired and bitchy to wait for chocolate to melt!" That's where The Stuff comes in. It's just powdered cocoa, silken tofu (hell, I don't even drain it), your choice of liquid sweetener, and a touch of vanilla. And it's awesome! 

Try some!
You'll love it, pretty mama.

2 12.3-ounce boxes silken tofu
1/2 cup powdered cocoa
1/2 cup your choice liquid sweetener*, or more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • This could not be simpler. Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and whirl until it's smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides every now and then. Once it's creamy, give it a taste and add more sweetener if necessary. That's all there is to it.
  • *I used raw agave with a touch of liquid stevia, but maple syrup or homemade simple syrup (probably just about anything sweet and runny) works too.  
Please take care to tighten the lid on your food processor, or this might happen...


September 2, 2014

Scanners Scramble



Hey, who remembers Scanners? It was a David Cronenberg film, so if you are at all familiar with Cronenberg's body of work you can immediately imagine how bizarre and disgusting it is without me even having to describe it. It concerned a rare and small group of "special" people, called Scanners, who could do all kinds of crazy telepathic and telekinetic things, like read thoughts, start fires with their minds, control the bodily processes of other people, and - most notably - make people's heads explode.    

Scanners (1981)

I will spare you from photos of the infamous head explosion scene, because I don't want you to lose your appetite, Instead, I will cleverly use my tofu scramble to demonstrate the basic logistics of the scene.


Here we have two fully functioning brain lobes, just pulsing away happily.

Then this guy catches wind of something in those lobes he doesn't like.

And now the brains look like this... Ya get me?

'sploded or not, that scramble looks delicious. And it is! The recipe is not my own. Alas, it belongs to one Isa Chandra Moskowitz of Veganomicon fame. It is my favorite tofu scramble recipe and the only one I ever make anymore, simply because it is the best! Trust me and give it a try. Here's the original recipe post on the Post Punk Kitchen website. You can also find it in Isa's fantastic cookbook, Vegan Brunch. I'll put links to the cookbooks at the bottom of this post. Now, on to the scramble!

2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed with your fingers
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt*
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced (or more, to taste)
1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Fresh black pepper to taste
(*This is way too much salt for me. I only use a half teaspoon when I make this and it always tastes great. I recommend starting with less and adding more later if you want to.)
  • First stir the spice blend together in a small cup. Add water and mix. Set aside.
  • Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Saute the garlic in olive oil for about a minute. Break the tofu apart into bite sized pieces and saute for about 10 minutes, using a spatula to stir often. Get under the tofu when you are stirring, scrape the bottom and don’t let it stick to the pan, that is where the good, crispy stuff is. Use a thin metal spatula to get the job done, a wooden or plastic one won’t really cut it. The tofu should get browned on at least one side, but you don’t need to be too precise about it. The water should cook out of it and not collect too much at the bottom of the ban. If that is happening, turn the heat up and let the water evaporate.
  • Add the spice blend and mix to incorporate. Add the nutritional yeast and fresh black pepper. 
  • Cook for about five more minutes. Serve warm.

As you can see in the photos, I topped mine with fresh pico de gallo. I had some leftover from yesterday's C.H.U.D. C.H.I.L.I. so I used it to top my scramble, which was ever-so-gently lain on a stovetop-warmed tortilla from Trader Joe's. Dang, it was good! Best.Breakfast.Ever.



Happy MoFo'ing, everyone!


 

August 31, 2014

C.H.U.D. C.H.I.L.I.


Why, yes, that is an edible C.H.U.D., complete with carrot claws and olive eyes. Is it too terrifying to eat, or too cute? I'll let you decide.
Happy MoFo, everyone! Let's get this month-long party started! 
The theme I'm working with is 80's horror films. And what better film to start with than C.H.U.D.?

I grew up in Waco, TX, and the only place to rent movies was at a place called Flicks, which was in a tiny converted house wedged between the Piggly Wiggly and a full-service gas station. I was a frequent Flicks customer. My PawPaw drove me there every Friday and Saturday and I would easily watch between 4 to 6 horror films every weekend. There really wasn't much to do in Waco, TX, in the 80s before you were old enough to drive. My grandparents weren't too savvy about the movie titles, and they never ventured into Flicks themselves, so they didn't have a clue what I was watching. Seriously, I saw The Exorcist (alone!) at ten years old. And The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And The Amityville Horror. And on and on and on... Am I scarred for life? Maybe, but the point is this: My middle-aged brain is now full of mildly useless trivia and quotes from all the horror movies I watched as a kid. And now I'm going to parlay that knowledge into fun recipes for the purpose of Vegan MoFo 2014. Woo Haw!

C.H.U.D. (1984)
C.H.U.D. - if you didn't already know - stands for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. The movie is terrible, but a lot of fun to watch. This one is particularly special to me because it is the only horror film I ever watched with my grandparents in the room. I was horrified the entire time it played, but MeeMaw and PawPaw chuckled in the background and chatted with each other, probably just bored and wishing they were playing dominoes or something.

I really want to get my hands on the C.H.U.D. DVD because, apparently, there is a fantastic commentary track that is "better that MST3K" (according to a reviewer on the movie's IMDB page). Being a huge fan of MST3K, I need to find out if this is true. I suspect it might be, as Daniel Stern is one of the commentators and that guy is hilarious.

So, anyway, on to my first MoFo creation, C.H.U.D. C.H.I.L.I!

I topped my C.H.U.D. C.H.I.L.I. with sliced and browned
Tofurky Italian Sausages and fresh pico de gallo.
1 cup vegetable broth, or more as needed
Half a white or yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 red bell pepper, diced (can sub green if you're broke)
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large zucchini, peeled and chopped (don't peel if it's organic)
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 28-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste 
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 bunch fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

  • In a large pot, get your vegetable broth cooking over medium-high heat. Once it's pretty toasty, toss in your onion, garlic and carrots. Saute them in the broth until they begin to soften. This only takes a few minutes. Don't let your veggies turn to mush.
  • Add the zucchini, bell pepper, jalapeno and spices. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add more broth if needed, just to keep things from sticking.
  • Throw in your beans, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Cover and cook for about half an hour on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Dribble in some extra broth to get it to the texture you like. Some folks like thick chili, some like it runny. 
  • When it's about ten minutes from being ready, toss in your cilantro. I like to give the cilantro just enough time to flavor the chili, but not overcook it so that it stays bright green and beautiful.
  • Keep tasting and tweaking every now and then. You might want more spices or more beans. This chili is very forgiving. Just get it to the point that it tastes fantastic to YOU.
  • I like to top my chili with sliced and browned sausages (Tofurkey's Italian Sausages are only $2.99 at Trader Joe's right now!) and fresh pico de gallo. You can also try some vegan sour cream or vegan cheese! Vegan queso is delicious on this too.
  • Enjoy, and don't get too close to any steamy manholes.

August 30, 2014

Oh, The Horror!

Yes, these are my actual eyes. My six-year-old daughter did the make up for me.
80s horror film make up? Nailed it!
Vegan MoFo 2014 is about to start and (especially since I missed it last year), I am super fired up for a great run this time around. I've got two previous MoFo's under my belt, but I've never done a theme before. I've never really been able to settle on one - there's so much weird crap that I like to talk about! I love sci-fi and can pretty much talk all day about the minutia therein, but there are already a handful of sci-fi themed MoFo'ers this year. My favorite movie of all time is Aliens, but Chestburster Chorizo and FaceHugger Falafel just don't sound all that appetizing. Don't steal this idea, though! I might go for it next year.
I also love The Walking Dead, but someone did that a couple of years back and it was fabulous - they made a necklace with ear-shaped bread strung on it a la Daryl Dixon. I ask you, how can I top that?!
But there is one thing that I am almost embarrassed to admit I know a lot about, because I was a teenager in the 80s, and because I was weird. 80s horror flicks. There probably isn't a single one I haven't seen. Granted, it's been a zillion years since I've watched any of them, but I loved them so much! They were terrible, even then, but so much fun to watch. So, that's the theme I'm gonna go with. See you come MoFo 2014 time! Only two more days to go...

August 16, 2014

So, Basically I'm a Genius

I discovered something wonderful. 

If you put this...


and this...


together like this...


it totally tastes like this!


You're welcome.

August 14, 2014

Apricot Coconut Oatmeal Clusters


You know how some people do some stuff to relief stress in their lives? Like, my husband loves to read boring philosophy books and write songs on his guitar. That's just how the guy unwinds. My neighbor is a gardener and a fairly hardcore churchgoer - that's what blows his hair back. You know what I mean? We all have that thing that we love to do, and it makes us feel really good, and without it we get really, really wound up. For me, it's baking. I mean, seriously, I freakin' love to bake! But I'm... well... what's the PC term for it... I'm - uh - differently weighted... I'm gravitationally challenged... You get me? I'm fat, people! I'm a fat herbivore. Yes, they do exist! And I don't have a problem with being fat. My husband thinks I'm sexy, so it really doesn't bother me too much, with the exception of the fact that I am forever destroying the poor underwires in my bras and my knees are begging for mercy 24/7. There's also the desire to live long enough to meet my grandchildren and to enjoy the twilight years of retirement, kickin' back on the shore outside my imaginary lake house. So! To that end, I am always trying to create baked goods that are at least moderately healthy, but definitely succulent. But not SO succulent that I eat forty at a sitting. To that end, I introduce my latest home-bakery creation, the Apricot Coconut Oatmeal Cluster. It was meant to be a cookie, but it came out more like a clustery thing, so there ya go. There's no oil or butter in it, and minimal sugar (compared to my standard baked fare), plus it's jam-packed with fiber, so it's a win-win! Give these li'l cuties a try. You'll love 'em and you don't even have to feel guilty about eating them.


1 ripe banana, mashed with a fork
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup liquid sweetener (I used agave, but maple syrup'd work)
2 tablespoons almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
1/2 to 1 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes*
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Spray a large cookie sheet with baking spray, or use parchment paper or a SilPat.
  • Mix the banana, applesauce, sugar, liquid sweetener, milk and vanilla together in a large bowl. 
  • On top of the wet mixture, gently add the dry ingredients, but do not stir until you have everything added.
  • Stir gently until just mixed.
  • Gently fold in the apricots and coconut flakes. 
  • *Side Note: I used organic unsweetened coconut flakes, which is what you see in the picture, not standard shredded coconut. But I think you could just about use anything in these clusters and it would taste nice. For example, you could eliminate the cinnamon and nutmeg and throw in some dark chocolate chips in place of the coconut. Or some nuts! Feel free to play around with the recipe and share your results in the comments.
  • Drop by rounded teaspoon onto cookie sheet (I used a small cookie scoop).
  • Bake for 15 minutes.
  • Enjoy with an ice cold glass of almond milk or a cup of hot Earl Grey tea. Delicious!

August 11, 2014

Catching You Up + Cauliflower Puree

Before I type anything else, I have this to say...


Robin Williams - with your kind eyes, your super fast wit and your hilariously spastic comedic delivery - you were the star of my youth ("Nanu, nanu!"), the lead in the film that defined my love of poetry and books ("Carpe diem, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.") and just an all-around amazing performer whom this world will miss very much. Your legacy will live on in the smiles and laughter of many generations to come. Truly, I hope you have found peace.


In other news, my mom is still recovering from the stroke she had back in December, the ginormous stroke that took her speech, her ability to read and write, her ability to really do anything at all, and prompted me write the former post declaring that my blogging days were over.
But I'm sure you knew, somewhere deep down inside, that you wouldn't get rid of me that easily. You did, right?!
I am happy to report that, although my mother still hasn't fully regained her ability to speak, nor the gifts of reading and writing, she is fully autonomous in every other way, and is even cooking and sewing again.

In more other news, I was watching a documentary about the Galapagos today while I was cooking dinner (which I chose for the sole purpose of thinking it would be innocuous if my kid walked in) and my five-year-old just happened to wander into the room right when the narrator started talking about illegal and reprehensible shark-finning. Lila flipped! She said, "They cut the fins off of that shark! And it was awake, Mom!" She was so unbelievably pissed about it, she said, "Mom, I want to start my own TV show and tell people about how we should treat animals." So, now I give you the very first episode of "Live Action TV with Lila." Enjoy!
P.S. The chocolate smeared on her face is the subject of an upcoming, and very delicious, post. As we say in the TV biz, stay tuned!



In more other other news...
I recently had a lovely staph infection in two places - on my face and my boobs. Yep! That's me - ol' staph  knockers. [drops mic and walks away]...
Don't ask me how this happened. I have been under a lot of stress lately and I think my immune system just said, "Aw, screw this. I'm goin' on vacation." Anyhoo, I took an antibiotic to clear that mess up, and another antibiotic for an ear infection. And yet another for a stomach problem that I'm pretty sure was caused by the first two antibiotics. So, you guessed it, I am now the poster child for systemic candidiasis. If you don't know what that is, look it up. It sucks.
Medicine won't fix my candidiasis, which I know for certain because I was given three months worth of candida-killing pills and all they did was make it worse. I am now achy, chronically-fatigued, grouchy, overwhelmingly sleepy 24/7, bloated and crazy with allergies and acne. Candidiasis blows chunks, and I have given up on medicine. To that end, I ordered a book from Amazon called The Candida Cure and I am now on the Candida Diet, which eschews gluten, potatoes, mushrooms, wine, all forms of sugar (even "natural" ones), anything fermented (good-bye kombucha, I'll miss you!) NSAID pain relievers, corticosteroids, and even tofu! But if it works, it will be well worth the effort. I will keep you posted on my progress.

Tonight I made my first Candida Diet dinner, consisting of a salad with veggies and a delicious cauliflower puree.


I am obsessed with the show Master Chef and I am always drooling over those purees they make. Parsnip puree, sweet potato puree, cauliflower puree. You name it, they've cooked it up and pureed it. And it always looks amazing! So, I thought I would give it a try in place of mashed potatoes. And, you know what? It was delicious!

Here's the recipe:

1 head of cauliflower (rinsed and cut into pieces)
1/2 cup vegetable broth or no-chicken stock
2 tablespoons vegan butter (Earth Balance works best for me)
Salt and pepper, to taste

  • Place the cauliflower and the broth into a medium-size stock pot.
  • Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. 
  • Turn down the heat to medium-low and allow the cauliflower to steam in the broth. It takes anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and add the butter.
  • Place everything into a food processor and whirl it around until smooth and creamy.
  • Salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Enjoy!

"Bye! Until next day!"
-- Lila, from Live Action TV with Lila

December 10, 2013

Time to Say Good-bye...

Hello everyone. I hate to be Debbie Downer, especially at this magical time of year, but there are some pretty serious events happening here at the ol' homestead. Primarily, my mom had a massive stroke, which has disabled her greatly. When she first went to the ER last Sunday, she couldn't speak, couldn't stay awake, and couldn't physically do anything except turn her head from side to side on occasion and look to see who was in her room. A little over a week later, I am happy to report that she has added at least two dozen new words and phrases to her vocabulary, such as "what's happenin'," "cool" and "good," as well as a couple of colorful cuss words when she gets frustrated. She can also move around without help, go to the restroom and feed herself. She's at a fantastic live-in rehab facility in Central Texas and she's making wonderful progress every day. But until she's better, which the doctors estimate will take at least a full year if not longer, I've got my hands too full to experiment with recipes. I'm just going with dishes that are both easy and warm. That's really all I care about right now. In addition, I've got my fabulous job at the church to keep me busy. So, I'm thinking it's time to put this blog to bed. I will leave it up, of course, so you can reference the recipes anytime you like. Thanks for reading my blog, thanks for your support and words of encouragement, and thanks for just being your awesome selves! I've had so much fun doing this. Happy holidays to all of you! 

Please pray for my mom, and keep on cookin'!