You guys. This stuff is seriously ridiculous. Seriously.

A while back, I made a chocolate mousse cake. I’m not going to lie, it rocked my world. I was so super proud. It was awesome. Then, much to my astonishment, I learned via my friend at FrugalFeeding, that what I had made was not, in fact, mousse. Martha Stewart had downright lied to me. Not that I was all that upset, because did I mention how delicious it was? But, anyway. I was determined to make mousse. Like, fo’ realz. Apparently, mousse is supposed to be airy and light and fluffy. Mine was soft and smooth and decadent, but I don’t think I would call it airy. Can chocolate be airy?

Yes. Yes, it can. Because now I’ve had mousse. Real, live, fluffier-than-I-thought-possible mousse. Um, people? You’re going to want to make this. Trust me.

Chocolate Mousse Fo’ Realz (adapted from FrugalFeeding, who, by the way, has way too many awesome recipes. I’m so glad we’re friends.)

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs, separated [be sure you separate the whites and yolks completely; even the tiniest trace of yolk in your whites will not allow them to whip properly]
  • 3.5 oz good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped [this is all about the chocolate, so make sure you spring for the good stuff, nestle chocolate chips just won’t cut it here.]
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • pinch of cream of tartar

Procedure

  1. Combine chocolate and milk in the short [or tall, your choice] cup. Microwave in 30 second intervals on half power, stirring after each 30 seconds, until chocolate is melted. Chocolate holds its shape even after reaching its melting point, so you have to stir frequently and heat slowly to avoid burnage. Trust me. I learn these things the hard way. Allow to cool for a few minutes after melted.
  2. Add in your egg yolks, pop on the cross blade and give it a whirl. Blend until mixture becomes thick and shiny, this will only take a few seconds.
  3. Now. Here’s where things get tricky. In a perfect world, you could whip up your egg whites [making sure they are absolutely free of any traces of yolk] in a super clean short cup with a super clean flat blade. In theory this should work. For some reason it did not work for me. I ended up using a separate mixer to whip up my egg whites. But someday I’m going to try this again, because it really ought to work; the bullet whips cream like a pro. But either way, what you want to do is whip together the egg whites and cream of tartar until the mixture is frothy. Then, you can add in your sugar and whip it until you have stiff, glossy peaks. Do not overbeat it or you’ll have to start over. Again, the hard way, trust me.
  4. Pour your chocolate-egg yolk mixture into a medium bowl, and fold in the egg whites in thirds. Do this gently to avoid deflating the egg whites.
  5. Pour into four individual ramekins [or two if you don’t have dinky little ramekins like me. Ugh, portion control is the bane of my existance]. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving, though they will last a few days in the fridge.

Hah!  A few days! We all know they’ll be gone by breakfast.

 

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Oct
16
1

Arugula Pesto

Brett has a serious thing for arugula. It took me a real long time to get into it with him. It’s a pretty strong herb/lettuce/leaf/green leaf/whateveryoucallit. But I’m kind of into it now. It’s really peppery. And strong. And when you mix it with some spinach and make a bomb salad, well it’s pretty dang good. But I’ll admit, I was still pretty skeptical of the idea of arugula pesto. Once again, my skepticism proved to be way off the mark because this stuff, well let’s just say I’ve planted some arugula alongside my basil… because this stuff is definitely making another appearance on my table.

This will make a very saucy pesto, however I still recommend diluting it with either some leftover pasta cooking water, or with cream or half and half [our personal choice], as it is very strong in flavor and gets very thick if left to cool/stored in the fridge. If you’re feeling totally crazy, it goes really well with fresh homemade pasta, but would fare equally well on store bought pasta, or as a spread for sandwiches, a marinade for meat or fish… you get the idea.

Arugula Pesto (roughly adapted from this and several other sources)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups arugula, loosely packed
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup (plus more if needed) olive oil
  • squeeze of lemon juice
Procedure
  1. Throw everything in your Tall Cup, fit it with the crossblade, and blend! No, seriously! That’s it!
  2. You can, however, to make things easier,  first grind up the cheese and pine nuts. Then add in the garlic and blend that up. Add in the arugula, salt and pepper, lemon juice and olive oil. It will take a lot of shaking and pulsing but eventually it will come together into a smooth, creamy sauce. add olive oil as needed to reach desired consistency.
  3. Serve over chicken or fish, as a sandwich spread, or heat with cream or reserved pasta cooking water and use as an awesome pasta sauce.

 

 

Oct
12
1

Watermelon Smoothie

We drink a lot of smoothies around here. But they’re usually all the same. That’s what happens when you buy frozen fruit at costco. You end up drinking the same dang thing every day. So sometimes, we want to change it up. Get a little crazy. Throw a little curveball. Freeze some watermelon and smooth it up.

 

It’s a good idea to change things up every now and again.

Watermelon Smoothie

Ingredients

  • Frozen watermelon chunks
  • Orange juice
  • Plain Greek yogurt [if you haven’t already jumped aboard the Greek yogurt train, choo-choo, people! Hop on! It’s the greatest train around! P.S. It’s all about full-fat yogurt, too. Brown Cow Cream Top Greek and Greek Gods are my personal favs. And they’re not even paying me to say that.]
Blend until smooth and creamy. Slurp up!

 

I’m going to be entirely honest with you: I’m an ice cream kind of girl. If I had a choice between sorbet and ice cream, I’d pick ice cream every single time. Popsicle vs. ice cream? Ice cream for the win. Cake vs. ice cream? Ice cream wins. Pie vs. ice cream? I’ll take both, thank you very much. But, you see, we are turning over a new leaf here in my tiny little kitchen. This is a leaf of a slightly-more-healthy sort. So we’ve nixed the ice cream. At least for a little while. But I can’t live life without dessert after every meal dinner.

Enter: granita. Not 100% sure what it is in real life, but in my world, it’s basically frozen fruit juice. Or a mashed up popsicle. Or a wanna-be shaved ice. Whatever. It’s delish. And way easy to make. And has zero [refined] sugar. Which means I can eat it All. The. Time. And hopefully not end up with diabetes…

Melon-Pineapple Granita

Ingredients

  • 1/4 melon or cantelope [honestly I have no clue what kind of melon we used. it was yellow on the outside with smooth skin and orange on the inside. any ideas what kind of melon that is? it was daaaang delicious. but any kind of melon will do. honeydew would probably be awesome]
  • 1/4 pineapple [if you use those giant pineapples. If you use small ones like me, you could up this to half.]
  • splash of orange juice

Procedure

  1. Cut up your melon and pineapple into chunks. Place chunks into the Magic Bullet big ol’ blender attachment [or do this in batches in the tall cup]. Pour in a splash of orange juice. Blend until very smooth.
  2. Strain liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a shallow, high-surface-area container that is freezer safe. A lid is helpful, but not required.
  3. Freeze for about 1 hour, then, using a fork or knife, crunch up the mixture so that it doesn’t freeze too solid. Freeze for another 3-4 hours or until frozen through.
  4. To serve, scrape along the top of the container with the side of a spoon. You want to shave the ice off the top, not cut or scoop any out. Eat and enjoy!

So, I don’t know about all of you out there, but I grew up in a household that did not idolize Martha Stewart. I may or may not be mildly obsessed with all her craft products and drool-worthy recipes now, but growing up I thought she was a weirdo. Like, seriously. On her shows back then she would do something like, I don’t know, make butter, and I swear it would start with milking the cow. Who has a cow in their backyard to milk?! I buy my butter at the store! Her jam recipes would start with growing your own insert-fruit-here, and people, her breads may as well have started with growing your own wheat as far as I was concerned.

My point is, Martha Stewart is known for doing things the hard way: from scratch. And in my youth full of boxed cake mixes and easy bake ovens, that made absolutely no sense to me. But these days, I really relish making things from scratch. There is an immense amount of pride and satisfaction one can get from creaming together butter and sugar, mixing in eggs and flour, and coming out with something amazing. And I’ll tell you another little secret: homemade stuff tastes better. Really. Even my biggest flops in the kitchen usually come out miles ahead of anything packaged in plastic. So for awhile now I have been baking my own breads, making my own pasta sauce, and always, always baking all my sweets from scratch.

In baking, and in baking bread especially, one can end up with a ridiculous amount of flours. I literally have at least 6 different kinds of flour in my cupboard, and people, I only have one cupboard in my kitchen. So suffice it to say flour is taking up quite a bit of room in my teeny kitchen. So I learned a trick, and I want to share it with you. It isn’t exactly a recipe, but it’s a trick that I promise you will want to use. The bullet can make flour. In literally seconds. Throw some oats in your bullet, top it with the flat blade, and in five seconds you have oat flour. Throw some flaxseeds in your bullet and in six seconds you have flaxseed flour. Quinoa, almonds, rice? Ten seconds. I’m serious here people. Do you know what you can do with this capability?! The possibilities are endless!

With oat flour you could make the best granola bars I’ve ever had. Or bread that is secretly healthy. With almond flour you can not only make fabulous cakes, you could make the fanciest french cookie in existence. You’d be a star! With homemade rice, quinoa, coconut and other flours you can make gluten free baked goods, mix up your flours in bread for extra nutrition you need but never really want to eat. Are you getting the picture here? To buy a bag of oat, quinoa, or almond flour is expensive. Almond flour where I live is something ridiculous like $9 a bag. But I always have almonds in the freezer, and whole they are less than $6 a pound. So by making your own flour you are not only eating something that is fresher, but you’re saving a ton of money in the process. So. I urge you. Try your own. Not going to lie, the first thing I made was these granola bars and I am pretty much obsessed with them now. So all I’m saying is that’s not a bad way to go.

So. Will you try it? Will you grind up your own flour? What are you going to make with it?? I’m so curious!

We. Love. Nick. What’s that? You have no idea who Nick is? That’s okay. I have a feeling you love him too, you just don’t know it yet. Nick is my cousin’s fiancée, and also our friend. Because we like him. So, well, you probably don’t know him. But, let me tell you about him: he gave me this recipe. It was delicious. And deliciously easy. I think that’s all you need to know for now.

Do you know how awesome walnuts are? Um.. they’re like one of those superfoods people talk about a lot these days. They’re one of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat and they are really high in omega-3-fatty acids which, if you didn’t know, make you smarter. Fact. Or something like that. Anyway, this sauce is mostly, walnuts which means this pasta is ridiculously healthy for you. Another win. Because it means you can eat giant servings of it for several days in a row and feel really good about yourself. And have an extra-large milkshake for dessert. It’s called balance, people.

So. Grab yourself a bag of walnuts (okay, I know they are kind of pricey. But you can get a three pound bag at costco and eat walnuts for the rest of forever. Just make sure you keep them in the freezer so they don’t go bad.) And let’s say a silent ‘thank you’ to Nick for this kick-butt pasta sauce recipe. Thanks, Nick!

Walnut Pasta Sauce (courtesy of Nick. and also his mother, whose recipe this really belongs to. I think. I adapted it only slightly.)

So not only is this recipe ridiculously easy to make (like, blend and dump easy) and ridiculously healthy for you, but it is also vegetarian and could oh-so easily be made gluten-free. I’ll mention below what you can sub out to make it so!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts, toasted until deep golden brown (you can do this in a 375 degree oven or on top of a stove, tossing them often, just watch them carefully if you do it on the stove so you don’t burn them. But don’t skip the roasting step! it’s what brings out all the nutty flavor of the walnuts)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup half and half (you could use milk or cream or whatever you have. Or even a non-dairy alternative.)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • a large 1/4 tsp italian seasoning
  • 3 tsp fresh squeeze lemon juice
  • 1 lb linguine, fettuccine or other pasta; cooked and drained (if you use brown rice pasta, this recipe is gluten-free. Ta-da!)

These are the instructions as they were given to me: Blend first [11] ingredients. Dump onto pasta.

I’ll add that you should then mix it well and serve it with some wine. But that’s just me. 

Well, I guess this is kind of another way to have summer for longer than we are allowed by the seasons. Smores are pretty much a summer staple, but, for whatever reason, no one ever eats them any other time of the year (uh, I know the reason actually, it’s called cold. no one camps in the cold). If you’ve never had a smore, and to be honest it’s difficult to imagine anyone growing up without ever eating one, (but I know you people probably exist out there) firstly you should make a real one. Toast two marshmallows, preferably over an open fire (but the broiler will do in a pinch), and smooooosh them in between two halves of a graham cracker and four squares of hersheys chocolate. That is the world’s most perfect smore.

Now. I’ve never eaten a smore at home. Smores are for camping. It would feel totally blasphemous. But pretty much every camping trip, you come home with a half a bag of jumbo jet-puffed marshmallows leftover. And marshmallows, all on their own in their spongey-plastic bagged glory, just aren’t all that tasty on their own. But add fire, and holy cow is there anything more awesome than a toasted marshmallow?!

Well, yeah. You could blend it up with some vanilla ice cream. That. That would be better.

Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake (inspired by Cupcakes and Cashmere

Ingredients

  • 3 big ol scoops of vanilla ice cream
  • 4 jumbo marshmallows
  • splash of milk

Procedure

  1. Toast the marshmallows under the broiler, flipping over once so both sides get toasty. Watch them so carefully because they will burn really quickly.
  2. Put three giant scoops of ice cream and a splash of milk into a tall cup, toss three of the toasted marshmallows inside and blend until smooth, but not watery. (If you accidentally add too much milk, don’t be afraid to add more ice cream.)
  3. Top with the other toasted marshmallow. You should probably also top it with whipped cream. I know I sure wish we had some around…
Sep
12
0

Piña Colada-ish

Duyen made some virgin piña coladas recently that looked delicious. And it seems we are on similar wavelengths because I made some, too. Only I like rum. Quite a lot actually. Also, I wasn’t smart enough to look up an actual piña colada recipe, so I just made it up. We had pineapple. And coconut milk. Seemed easy enough, right?

Not going to lie, it took a couple of tries. A lot of re-blends, if you will. So I don’t know if this really qualifies as a true piña colada. But it is fabulously delicious and will certainly make you forget that fall has begun to descend upon us and our days of sunning ourselves a the beach are all too rapidly coming to a close.

Piña Coladas (kind of)

Ingredients

  • 1 oz coconut milk
  • 2 oz light rum (the clear kind not the brown kind or your drink will be ugly)
  • 1/4 large or 1/2 small pineapple (we buy these adorable tiny ones from the farmer’s market so I used a half a pineapple per glass but your typical pineapples are much bigger, so I’d say 1/4 or 1/3 would be more appropriate)
  • splash of orange juice
  • whole bunch of ice

Procedure

Put your pineapple, coconut milk, orange juice and rum into a tall cup fitted with the cross blade. Blend together. Remove top and add in ice to fill up the cup. Blend again until slushy and sloshy and fabulous. Drink up!

 

Oh Summer. We loved you. We will always love you. Some things just epitomize summer in the best of ways. I love summer more than any other season by far and I love everything that goes along with summer, too. Long days, warm nights, sunscreen, sandy feet, popsicles, sticky hands. And watermelon. Is there anything more summery than a juicy watermelon dripping down your face and arms? I’m pretty sure there isn’t.

So, to celebrate the end of Summer, I give you a concoction that pretty much looks and tastes exactly like summer should. And the best part is, you can choose how you want to eat it. Here’s what you need: Watermelon, cucumber, and lime.

You could just throw in watermelon, peeled cucumber and a squeeze of lime juice into your tall cup and blend it, throw in some ice cubes and you have the most perfect porch drink. Or you could freeze some of the watermelon chunks beforehand, blend those together with un-frozen watermelon, some cucumber and lime juice and now you’ve got a watermelon slushie.

Or add in some rum, because why the heck not?

You could also freeze the whole mess into popsicle molds and enjoy it as a frozen snack instead of a beverage. It doesn’t matter how you eat it. Just do yourself a favor and blend up watermelon, cucumber, and lime, take a sip (or a lick) and enjoy these last days before fall sets in. You deserve it.

Watermelon-Cucumber-Lime drink (inspired by Yes, I Want Cake)

  • Watermelon chunks; half of them frozen, half not frozen.
  • Cucumber, peeled
  • Lime juice
  • Rum (optional)

Blend everything together! If you use frozen watermelon you don’t even need ice!

Sep
5
0

Marvelous Marinara

You guys. Do you buy pasta sauce? Like, in a jar? At the store? For like waaay too much money for a sauce that is just kind of..meh? Or even maybe good but, come on, three fifty for a jar that will only last for like one box of pasta and if you don’t use it all you’ll shove it in the back of the fridge and forget about it and it will get moldy and then you just wasted at least a dollar of jarred pasta sauce? Well, cut it out people! Don’t you know how dang easy it is to make sauce that’s at least one zillion times better than that stuff you’ve been buying? Plus it’s cheaper and you know what goes into it so you aren’t eating weird things you can’t pronounce and 12 times the daily recommended amount of sodium. Plus you can freeze it in airtight containers so you don’t end up with colonies of weird stuff growing in the back of your fridge.

So. Pasta sauce. Go make some. It takes no time at all and your mouth will be so happy with you. Promise.

 

Marinara Sauce

There are a zillion recipes out there for pasta sauce. This is one of the versions I have made, but honestly all it takes is a can of tomatoes, some fat (think olive oil or butter) and maybe an onion. Seriously. Or instead of onion, throw in basil. Or italian seasoning. Whateevvaaaaa. It’s dead simple, is what I’m trying to say, to make pasta sauce.. so you can now happily boycott

Ingredients

  • 1-2 medium carrots
  • 1-2 onions (2 if they are small like mine, one is fine if you buy the giant onions)
  • 3-4 stalks of celery
  • some glugs of olive oil
  • 1 28-oz can tomatoes (chopped, whole, it doesn’t matter. Buy whatever is on sale, just make sure it isn’t tomato sauce as that won’t have enough body)
  • splash of whatever red wine you are drinking (sure you can leave this out.. but I highly recommend putting some in.)
  • handful of fresh basil, parsley, oregano or whatever other herbs you have on hand. (You can use dried if you must, but if ever there was a reason to get a pot and grow some basil.. this would be it.)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Procedure

  1. Chop up your onions, carrots and celery all to roughly the same size; a medium dice. You want everything chopped small but don’t kill yourself chopping for hours to mince it or anything. This is called a mirepoix. You are now fancy and French; congratulations.
  2. Heat a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat with a few sizable glugs of olive oil. Once nice and hot, throw in your mirepoix and let it cook until the veggies are softened and the onion is translucent. This will take at least 5 minutes, and could take as long as 10 or 15. Have a bit of patience here. I’ll sometimes let it go a little longer until the onions start to caramelize, but that’s up to you.
  3. Splash in some red wine and stir, stir, stir to get all the yummy bits that have stuck to the bottom up. Then toss in your whole can of tomatoes, juices and all. Turn the heat down a bit to medium low, pop a lid on this and let it cook, stirring occasionally until your house smells like heaven, the tomatoes are starting to break down, and the sauce is starting to look a bit more like sauce. This will take a minimum of 20 minutes, but you can let it go for as long as you want. The longer you cook it, the deeper the flavors will become.
  4. Ladle your sauce into the bullet large pitcher/blender attachment fitted with the cross blade and blend for about 5-10 seconds. You want the sauce to still have some texture, you’re just blending out the chunks so don’t let it go too long.  [I used the blender attachment because this is a large amount of sauce.. and goodness gracious I’m pretty sure this sauce is what the bullet was made to blend. It whizzed it to the perfect consistency in literally 6 seconds and I was able to fit all the sauce in two full batches. If you are using a tall cup it will take a lot more batches and you’ll need to be a lot more careful of steam/pressure buildup so I highly recommend using the big blender attachment. It’s a dream].
  5. Put the blended sauce back on the heat and toss in your chopped fresh herbs [if you are using dried herbs, I would actually throw them in before you blend in order to make sure they get hydrated]. Stir, bring it back up to heat, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.
  6. Serve over your favorite pasta, use as a dipping sauce, pizza sauce, whatever! You just made marinara! Wasn’t that easy?!