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Posts Tagged ‘almonds’

Portland is an awesome place to live. It’s like the land of beer and vino, with a lot of funky, slow driving, alternative lifestyle loving, vulgar doughnut eating, striped sock wearing people thrown in the mix. There are more food and bar establishments here (not to mention strip clubs) than you can ever possibly visit. Most of the big names in music make a pit stop here, and of course if you want to be disappointed you can always catch a Blazers game. I mean, where else can you drink a pint and play Dr. Mario Brothers or BurgerTime?

But all this awesomeness doesn’t come for free. Portland seems to have a knack for attracting tons of mid-20’s/ 30-something’s that all arrive without jobs. This means that those of us already here have an ever growing amount of competition. And while it used to be the cheapest city of the west coast to live, and perhaps still is, it’s quickly growing up. Though it’s not on par with San Francisco yet, it’s trying its damnedest to get there. So while it’s truly a fantastic city with a wonderful climate and superb amenities, the hubs and I have decided to move it on down the line.

So where are we bound? To a city both of use said we’d never move to. Dallas. Texas. The Big D. Did you know it’s been over a 100 degrees there lately? Did you know my husband practically melts in the heat? Yeah, it’s gonna be interesting! My sister pretty much sealed our fate when she moved there in February. Plus the job market is supposedly not quite the ferocious beast it is here, but we’ll be the judge of that I guess.

So having said all that, the posting here will be a bit sparse over the next few weeks as we pack and clean and load and drive and drive and drive and unload and unpack and etc, etc. But I’ll leave you now with a tasty little summer treat, and hopefully there will be some cookies up here before we begin our trek across country.

Almond Amaretto Ice Cream

  • 6oz extra-firm silken tofu
  • 1 can coconut milk (full fat is better than light)
  • 3/4 C organic sugar
  • 1 t almond extract
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 5 T Amaretto liqueur
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 C sugared or candied almonds, roughly chopped

Puree the tofu in a blender with just enough milk to help it along. Once it’s completely smooth, add the rest of the ingredients, except the nuts, and puree again. Place it in the fridge for a bit to cool back down.

Now regarding those nuts, they’ll get all soggy and mushy if you just place them straight into the ice cream without doing anything to them, and nobody wants soggy nuts do they? The best way to avoid this is to candy them, but that typically involves egg whites and we obviously don’t do that here. You can sugar them however, and that’s super easy to do.

Generally you do not chop nuts before sugaring and toasting but if you chop them after you’ll break the barrier you just created and all will be for not. So, roughly chop the almonds. Bring a solution of equal parts sugar and water to boil (also known as simple syrup). Toss the nuts in the boiling simple syrup and stir them around for about 15 seconds. Now drain them, reserving the simple syrup if you like for another use, and spread them out on a sheet pan lined with parchment or a Silpat. Toast the nuts in a 350 degree oven until they’re no longer sticky. And since you can’t tell if they’re sticky while they’re still hot, pull an almond out of the oven and set it on the counter for a minute and then test. If it’s not sticky and has a good crunch, you’re done!

So when you’re ready, spin your ice cream in your ice cream maker. Add the cooled almonds towards the end of the spinning process, or fold them in after it’s spun. Cover tightly and freeze for several hours to allow it to setup completely.

Well I guess I’ll see you on the other side, but hopefully before. If you live or have lived in Dallas and have some vegan tips for me (i.e. restaurants) please share!

Cheers!

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Lately we’ve gotten into the habit of always having a little something sweet after a meal. I can blame part of it on the fact that I’m in culinary school – you need to do your own research right? I blame the other part of it on the fact that school is only 3 hours a day right now and I can’t find a job. Boredom = baked goods. So the other day after lunch, Gary turns and looks at the empty cookie jar and sort of gives off this sad little whimper. I smile. Then about an hour later I’m in the kitchen, baking.

Being that we’ve had so much sweet stuff lately I didn’t want to pour a whole bunch of sugar and fat into something else that I was inevitably going to be snacking on for the next few days. I guess I didn’t mind pouring a whole bunch of chocolate chips in it though (but it’s chocolate, really, who has he ever hurt?). Anyway, the vision of a cute little oatmeal cookie started dancing around in my head. Nothing says healthy like oats! Plus cranberries. And almonds. And chocolate chips, of course.

These were good, and dare I say wholesome. They were just sweet enough to satisfy the sugar fix but not too sweet to make you feel like you were eating junk food. There’s hardly any oil in them either and I bet you could probably take all the oil out and you wouldn’t really miss it, or even substitute applesauce. Applesauce tends to make cookies cakey so I don’t use it too often, but these had a nice chewy texture so it probably wouldn’t have been too bad. You could even make them gluten-free by using a gluten-free flour mixture like this one and certified GF oats. Cherries instead of cranberries would have also been good. Maybe with some dark chocolate.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries and Almonds

yields about 12 cookies
  • 1/3 C whole wheat pastry flour, or GF flour mixture
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • Pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon
  • About 1 C quick cooking oats
  • 1/4 C dairy free milk
  • 2 T agave
  • 2 T granulated sugar (or more agave)
  • 2 1/2 T brown sugar
  • 1 T ground flax seed
  • 1 T canola oil (preferably organic)
  • 3/4 t vanilla extract
  • About 1/2 C chocolate chips, cranberries and almonds

Preheat your oven to 350.

Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and spices. In a mixing bowl, combine the milk, agave, sugars, flax, oil and extract and mix well. Add the dry ingredients, oats, choco chips, cranberries and almonds. Mix until everything is uniformly moistened. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto a silpat lined (or parchment) cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the edges start to brown. Let them cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

I tend to over-bake my cookies but these I took out before I thought they were totally done, which means they were just right. I don’t think they’ll be as good if they are too crunchy so don’t make them spend too much time in the oven.

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In a perfect world you would always have a vibrantly green basil plant growing on your kitchen windowsill, and ¼ cup of olive oil and ½ cup of pine nuts wouldn’t affect your hips at all. In my world, however, I have yet to plant some basil, the grocery store charges out the wazoo for it, and 102 grams of fat in one pan of pasta scares the bigeezes out of me. So I gave my friend pesto a little face lift. It’s still a work in progress, but it wasn’t bad the first time out of the gate, especially since I pretty much closed my eyes, crossed my fingers, and resolved myself to eat whatever despicable mess would turn out to be my dinner since I had no idea what I was doing. It didn’t turn out so bad though…

A long time ago I saw an asparagus pesto recipe on the FFV. Yesterday I was trying to figure out what the hell to make for dinner when little butternut squashes started dancing around in my head. “Hmmm…,” I said to myself, “Why not?”  But before I begin I wish not to lead you astray so let me warn you that it would taste a lot better with all that olive oil in it, not to mention fresh basil (definitely go get some fresh basil), but the 30-some-odd grams of fat in my sauce pan is worth the missing flavor of the other 70ish.  That’s 30-some-odd divided by 4 meals by the way, just remember that (you do need some fat or you will kick the bucket).

ButternutSpinachPesto

So basically I cubed up a small (1-1.5 lbs) butternut squash (I know you can’t see it, that spinachy green overtook every bit of orange), seasoned it with salt, pepper, basil, etc. and pan-fried it for about 15 minutes.  Meanwhile I ground up 1/3 cup of whole raw almonds and 5 cloves garlic in a food processor.  I added about 1 T olive oil, 1-2 T lemon juice, 2 T water, 1/8 – 1/4 C white wine, 1 T dried basil, 1-2 tsp oregano, and salt and pepper.  Then I added about 2 cups packed baby spinach (this is where you would rather use fresh basil – and if so omit the dried stuff).  I pulsed all that up in the Cuisinart and once the butternut squash was cooked and cooled enough I threw it in with the rest of the ingredients and pulsed some more.  E va bene! Buon appetito!

I cooked about 12 ounces of spaghetti and there was a little pesto left over, which turned out to be pretty tasty on a tortilla chip.

This recipe isn’t perfect, but it’s a good base and a good way to incorporate more veggies into a pasta dish.  Be creative!  I would try adding some nutritional yeast if you make it.  If you have a larger squash reserve some of the pan-fried pieces so you have some texture in your dish.

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