Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Chili with Chipotle and Chocolate - vegan & gluten free

Cocoa is such a delightful ingredient. I use it in all sorts of desserts, and I've never heard of anyone being allergic to it. It's expensive per pound, but you don't usually need very much of it because it's so potent. Today's baking was some mint VeganOs, but instead of green filling, I made purple for Easter at the suggestion of The Official Tester. I was worried that it would be weird to eat something purple and mint flavored (i.e. not purple and grape flavored or mint flavored and green), but since I've eaten about eight, I don't think it's a problem. The chocolate of the cookies is the predominant flavor, and it's followed by the creamy mint. Delish!

Cocoa can also be used in savory main and side dishes. I hear those of you who don't live in Southern California are struggling with winter weather. I recommend this chili recipe I found in Cooking Light several years ago. I don't have photos, but imagine a warm, rich chili that tastes and smells a little bit like chocolate. Got it? Now make it! It's super easy (chili is very forgiving) and you'll only have to wash one pot. Feel free to add anything else that sounds good to you (corn, other/more beans, various peppers, dried herbs, etc). Add additional tomatoes, water, or broth to make it the consistency you want.

Chili with Chipotle and Chocolate adapted from Cooking Light
gluten free, dairy free, egg free, corn free, soy free
can be vegan/vegetarian

Dollop of olive oil (about 2 tbsp probably)
1 large onion, diced
1 large red pepper, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 1/4 lbs ground meat of choice (optional)
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp ancho chili powder
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 (15 oz) cans pinto beans, rinsed & drained
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
2 cups low sodium vegetable, chicken, or beef broth
2 chipotle chiles, canned in adobo sauce, minced
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped

Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and then onion, bell pepper, garlic and meat (if using). Saute 8 minutes or until meat is browned and vegetables are tender. Add next 10 ingredients (sugar through chipotle) to pot and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chocolate and stir until it melts and blends nicely.
That's it! You're done! You can serve it immediately, but I'd recommend letting it sit for a while and then reheating it. Chile always tastes better that way.
Serve over rice or not, add cheese or not. You can top with sour cream and/or chopped green onions.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Summerlike Sunday - Vegan Grill Pizza

Yesterday felt very much like summer here in sunny San Diego, with hot temperatures and cool breezes, jeep rides, and beach visits. I understand that it's not like that everywhere this time of year, and I apologize; I don't mean to rub your face in my perfect weather. After an afternoon visit to the beach with the dogs, Official Tester and I decided on Grill Pizza. That way, he could do the manly grill thing, we could eat tasty food, and I could tell you about it. Grill pizza is surprisingly easy and only takes a few hours of planning ahead time (for the rising). I got the original recipe from Cuisine at home magazine last summer, but I've noted my slight modifications.

This recipe makes four 12" pizzas (I should have only made half for 2 people)
1 C warm water
1 Tbsp sugar
1 pkg (1/4 oz) active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
2 1/4 C all-purpose flour [I used a combination of King Arthur whole wheat and Trader Joe's white whole wheat]
1 C cake flour [when I made this before I used all-purpose here. This time I used cake flour and I think it rolled out better]
1 Tbsp kosher salt [I thought the dough was a little salty. Official tester did not. So it's up to you]
2 Tbsp olive oil
[I also added a handful of ripped up fresh basil leaves. Dried herbs work well too]
[cooking spray]

1. Combine water, sugar, and yeast. Proof until mixture turns foamy, about 5 minutes.
2. While that's going, mix flours and salt in a medium bowl (or bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook).
3. Add oil to proofed yeast mixture and pour into flour mixture. Mix until combined with a spoon/your hands (or mixer)
4. Turn dough out of bowl onto lightly floured kneeding surface. Kneed dough for about 10 minutes (with mixer, still 10 minutes, on low speed). Dough should not stick to counter/bread board and should be somewhat "springy" by the time you're done. Gather into a ball and pull the dough on top around and down so that it's tight on top and pinched closed on the bottom.
5. Lightly spray the same medium bowl with cooking spray. Put the ball of dough in upside down and then flip it over so it's right side up (this coats it nicely with oil). Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours. (This can be in a nice warm spot in your kitchen, or you can turn the oven on for a minute and stick the dough in there).
6. Punch dough down and divide it into four balls, again pulling the top around and down and pinching the bottoms closed. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place another hour
7. Preheat your grill to medium-high.
8. Prepare your toppings so they are all ready to go- dice your veggies, make or take the sauce out of the fridge, grate cheese. For tender veggies (or potatoes), cook them before adding them to your pizza. The pizza cooks quickly, so things like onions don't get very soft.
9. Roll out the dough into a 10-12 inch circle-like shape. These things aren't exact
10. Lift the rolled out dough by the edges and drape it directly onto the hottest part of the grill, close the lid, and cook 2-3 minutes. The crust will bubble and grill marks may appear underneath.
11. Use tongs to flip the crust over. Brush it with olive oil (makes it yummier) and add your toppings. Keep quantities light so they cook quickly. Cook for 4-5 minutes- you know your pizza is done when the cheese is melted.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Morning Flowers

Good morning and Happy Friday to you! Today's parallel arrangement involves pink roses, yellow snapdragons, purple leatris, white chrysanthemums, some green leaves that I forget, and elephant moss down at the bottom. As you can probably figure out for yourselves, parallel arrangements require that the stems be, well, parallel. Vertical, horizontal, or diagonal is fine.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cakes! Cakes! Cakes!

I LOVE the sides of this safari cake! I've always liked sunsets and silhouettes, and this is a great example. There's this collection of impressive cakes on Flickr. Click here and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Study Released on the Effects of Corn Syrup

I came across this article today on high fructose corn syrup. I'm sure lots of you either cook at home and avoid it, and others of you studiously check ingredient labels to avoid it. Well, the findings should make you feel good about your choices!!
Anyway you slice it, homemade is better for you. OR my stuff :) I never use corn syrup, high fructose or not!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Friday Morning Flowers

I know it's Saturday. afternoon. I apologize. The internet was down yesterday morning and I didn't have time to deal with it between studying and getting to class (no worries, parents, I got 111%!).

Anyway, for today you need to think beachy, luau, Jimmy Buffet, drinks with little umbrellas in them, Hawaii, warm sand....

And you get this tall table arrangement. It's supposed to kind of look like a one of those beach umbrellas/huts made out of grass and I've got happy, bright, tropical flowers below. I was skeptical at first, I admit, but it's grown on me.

I like it :)

So Happy Saturday!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Updates and a new way to search Etsy

OK, first the bad news. That recipe I posted a link to in this post because it sounded good? NOT good. I made it last night and promptly poured it down the drain. Which is something I don't do. like, ever. It tasted ucky and adding things didn't help enough. That's why there's no picture of it on here today. So now you know- don't try it at home, folks!

Now, good news! I have little spinach sprouting already! yay. Hopefully more things will follow.
Also, on HowAboutOrange, another blog, Jess posted about a new way to search on Etsy. it's fantastic because you can see a billion results at once instead of a measly 33. Check it out here!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Etsy Treasury!

NessysNest has put together a beautiful treasury on Etsy. I feel so lucky to have my mint oreos next to works of art! To view it, click here. Take a few minutes to explore while you're at it. There's always something new and fun to find :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Morning Flowers

Good morning! This will be fairly short since I have 2 tests in a couple of hours, but I couldn't not do Friday Morning Flowers!
This week was Botanical Arrangements. The idea with this type of design is that you show the whole life cycle of the flower (usually a bulb flower like iris, daffodil, amaryllis, etc). This means you include the actual bulb in your design, as well as dead and dying flowers. You can even have petals down on the base or the table your arrangement is placed on.

Now, that's all lovely, but I didn't really want a whole lot of dead flowers in my arrangement. Partly because they are less pretty (duh), and partly so I didn't get the "why are there a lot of dead flowers in there? didn't you just make it?" from The Official Tester. I figure the daffodils that started closed will be opening and the ones that were open will start to droop and the dying ones I put in there will continue to fade.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring is coming! Seeds and more

Last night and today I got my seeds started! I have a grand vertical garden plan, so hopefully these babies will sprout and grow strong and not too big. The lavender seeds I talked about in this post didn't do anything. nada. I'm not blaming the seeds (yet), but instead the fact that the day I planted them kicked off 8 days of rain. So they didn't get sun. This is my theory. I just started some more, and hopefully they will sprout. Then I can make yummy things like Lavender Extract. mmmm sounds yummy. (if it works, some of you can probably anticipate Christmas presents). On a related note, if you love gardens and gardening, check out Nadia Knows Gardens for a pretty and informative blog by my classmate.
This lovely Ranunculus was $1 this weekend and I couldn't resist! This area is somewhat known for them, mostly because of The Flower Fields, which are gorgeous in the springtime. You should visit if you get a chance!

And, finally, on a side note, I am very interested in trying out this recipe from Martha Stewart. It looks and sounds scrumptious!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Morning Flowers (and chocolate!)

Good morning! Happy March! I realize that I have not posted in a WHOLE WEEK, and so, dear friends, I present lots and lots of flowers for you. There's actually another vase of the Gerberas upstairs, but I thought you could visualize for yourself. Since it's up the stairs.
very far away.

Daffodils were on sale at the grocery store 2 bunches/$3 and I love them. So I bought them.
The Amaryllis (much more red in person) were a post-Christmas Christmas present from Mom (thank you) and I've got a second starting on the windowsill.
The roses are, I think, a little less orange in real life and a bit more peachy, but pretty either way.

Did you know that you can make a Bird of Paradise have more "feathers"? If you hold the flower under water you can open the slit on the top of the green part (facing the right in the arrangement) and get out some more of the orange and purple. Cool, huh? I thought so!

I brought home some left over flowers that were pretty and needed a home and plopped them in a beer glass. Classy, I know.

ALSO! Chocolate flowers! yay! I love these little fudge blooms and I hope you do too :) I thought they were perfect for spring and I'm hoping to get them posted on Etsy this weekend. Maybe Mom will comment with a review since I just mailed her some?

Enjoy and have a lovely weekend!
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