November 3, 2015

Banana-Pecan Muffins

I hope everyone had a fabulous Halloween! We tried the "Switch Witch" thing for the first time this year. My daughter was able to go out and trick-or-treat like everyone else, but at the end of the night she left her candy out for Switch Witch, who swooped in while she was sleeping, took her garbage candy ("to feed to her naughty cat") and left, in it's place, good quality candy that I don't have to worry about her eating. No dyes, no preservatives, etc. It worked like a charm and my kiddo didn't have to feel left out of the Halloween festivities! The junk candy went to work with my husband who left it out in the breakroom for his co-workers. 

The morning after Halloween I made these fantastic muffins because I wanted to use the tons of pecans falling from the tree in my front yard right now! I seriously have three buckets full of pecans and at least three or four dozen more pecans fall from the tree every day. I love pecans, so I'm in heaven! I can't wait to make pies. If you don't have pecans, or they are too expensive, any nut will do. Or you can replace the nuts in the streusel topping with oatmeal, which is super cheap. Feel free to be creative!

Also, my daughter (who is a really picky eater) absolutely LOVED these! She ate two for breakfast, then came home after school and ate four more. If you have kids, you might want to make a double batch.

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 2/3 cups flour (I used white whole-wheat)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup vegan butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar (organic preferred)
1/4 cup vegan yogurt (I used unsweetened coconut yogurt)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large overripe bananas, mashed
1 cup pecan pieces
1/2 cup brown sugar (organic preferred)
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 12-muffin tin or place paper liners in it.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the milk and vinegar together and set aside to allow it to curdle.
  • Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about two minutes or so. 
  • Add yogurt, milk and vinegar mixture, and vanilla. Mix well. 
  • Add bananas and mix again.
  • On top of your soft mix, dump the dry ingredients. Flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Then stir with a spoon or beat gently until well-incorporated, but take care not to overmix or your muffins will be tough.
  • Spoon the batter into your muffin tin, filling each cup almost to the top. I did two scoops into each cup with a large cookie scoop, and that worked perfectly. 
  • In a separate bowl, mix your nuts or oats with the brown sugar and spoon it onto the tops of your muffins. 
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  • Enjoy!

October 12, 2015

Fresh No-Cook Spaghetti Sauce

In the mood for something fresh, light, easy and breezy? You have to try this amazing, no-cook spaghetti sauce! A few days ago, a friend of a friend on Facebook posted a video from Food & Wine magazine that I saved immediately because I just knew I had to try it. You just use a box grater to grate tomatoes into a bowl, add a few other ingredients, mix it with cooked pasta and you're good to go. I thought it must be too good to be true, but I tried it for dinner tonight and I'll be danged if it isn't delicious! Here's the video:

And here's my take on it:

16 ounces spaghetti noodles, cooked
6 to 8 large, ripe beefsteak tomatoes, cut in half
3 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic powder, to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Handful fresh basil leaves, chopped

  • Grate the tomatoes into a large bowl with a box grater.
  • Add remaining ingredients, to taste, and stir. 
  • Toss with your spaghetti and serve.
  • Seriously, it's that freakin' easy.
  • Enjoy!

October 11, 2015

Portobello Sloppy Joe's

Hey friends! It's been a long time since I posted on this blog, but that's all about to change. If you followed my summer adventures on the blog, The Thinking Spoon, you will know that I had surgery to remove a rare and fast-growing 4.5x5cm tumor from my left breast. The surgery wasn't too bad at all, but I suffered severe bronchitis and a disgusting staph infection on my leg afterward. So, it's not been the greatest summer. I'm still weak and I've put on a lot of weight from all my time spent convalescing, but I'm finally starting to perk up. And I'm ready to reclaim my health! The recipes that I will feature from here on out will focus on maximizing nutritional benefits. I need to lose weight, get strong, and make darn sure I don't wind up with another cancer scare. I hope you'll come along with me and offer your support and suggestions along the way. I love hearing from you guys! So, let's get started with a new recipe in a new year from a new gonna-get-healthy Jen. 

In the South we like our Sloppy Joe's kind of sweet, with a maple-y BBQ flavor. If you prefer them more on the savory side, leave out the sugar and ketchup, and just add an extra tablespoon or so of tomato paste, along with some savory spices of your choosing. You can't mess this one up. Just taste as you go and you'll end up with something fun, yummy, and really, really messy on your plate, which is why they have the word "sloppy" right there in the title.
I topped mine with homemade pico de gallo, but I think pickled jalapenos or just straight-up lettuce and tomato would be nice too. My husband likes to spritz his with classic hot sauce and my daughter likes to eat hers on tortilla chips. You seriously can't go wrong. I hope you enjoy these!

1 pound portobello mushroom caps, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, small dice
1 large red bell pepper, small dice
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cheap beer, divided
1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped (optional, depending on your budget)
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon sugar
A few drops of liquid smoke
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 hamburger buns
Toppings of your choice (homemade pico de gallo is pictured)

  • Whirl the mushrooms in batches in a food processor until very finely chopped, scraping the sides as needed to incorporate larger chunks. Don't pulse them so long that they liquify.
  • Drizzle oil into a hot cast iron skillet. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add 1 tablespoon of the beer and continue to cook for a few minutes more.
  • Add walnuts and red bell pepper to the pan, along with an additional tablespoon of beer, and cook until the pepper pieces are tender.
  • Add the mushrooms and cook until soft and well-incorporated.
  • Add all remaining ingredients, except buns and toppings (d'uh). Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches a taste and consistency that you like. Feel free to fiddle with the flavors, add some other spices, or jazz it up any way you like it. 
  • When you get it where you want it, turn off the heat and allow the mixture to rest a few minutes. It will thicken a bit as it rests.
  • Spoon onto toasted buns and top with your favorite stuff. 
  • Enjoy!

December 11, 2014

Alicia Simpson's Sweetgrass Snickerdoodles

Naughty li'l elves!
I have yet to try an Alicia Simpson recipe that doesn't taste amazing! This snickerdoodle cookie recipe is no exception. Crispy, cinnamon-y and full of seasonal oomph, I'm planning to give little stacks of these beauties as Christmas gifts. They go great with coffee or chai tea. And, as you can see in the photo, Santa's Scout Elves just love them! My daughter has two scout elves because Santa determined that she needed an extra set of eyes on her during the holidays - she's a chronic gift-jiggler. She named her elves Lula and Layla, which makes me curious about the names of my future grandchildren...

Alicia Simpson's Sweetgrass Snickerdoodles
from Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food (affiliate link)

1/2 cup nonhydrogenated margarine
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cream the margarine and shortening with the applesauce and sugars. In a separate bowl combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 
  • Combine the dry ingredients with the creamed mixture 1/2 cup at a time and mix with an electric mixer until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated.
  • Chill the dough for about 10 minutes in the refrigerator. 
  • Combine 1/4 cup granulated sugar with the cinnamon. 
  • Scoop 1-inch balls of dough with a teaspoon. Roll each ball in the cinnamon sugar mixture, coating all sides. 
  • Place on a baking sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart and bake for 12 minutes for chewy cookies and up to 15 minutes for a crisper cookie.
  • Remove from baking sheet, cool, and enjoy.
Please Note: Alicia Simpson did not put me up to this. I purchased the cookbook on my own, years ago, and I love it! If you want to support a fantastic vegan cookbook author, buy something with her name on it. You won't be sorry! I've included all of her cookbook listings below. If you click and buy one (or all!) of these books through my links, I'll get a small percentage of the purchase price, which really helps me out. Thanks!

December 9, 2014

Autumn's Easiest Dried Apples

I know I'm a little late with this post. I actually made these dried apples and took this picture well over a month ago, but it's been busy around here. I vow, right now, to get back to posting more regularly! Now that I am jobless I seriously have no excuse. But I'm one of those moderately crazy OCD people who think they can accomplish nothing creative until their house is clean. So, I end up cleaning constantly, and never writing or exercising or anything else useful until my house is clean, which it never is, so you get my drift... My new year's resolution is going to be to let the house be messy and get my creative stuff done first! As I type, there are muddy dog prints on the carpet in the back room and a pile of dishes in the kitchen sink. I can't let those things haunt me. Let's get to the apples!

For this recipe you will need a dehydrator, and it does not have to be a fancy one. The dehydrator I used cost $20 (I got it at Aldi last summer) and it works great! And you don't have to have an apple peeler/corer combo, but it saves you an hour or more of peeling and chopping and helps to make sure all of your apples are the same thickness. I'm talking about one of these things...
(Affiliate link- Click the photo to be taken to the product.)

I recommend a stout, cast-iron body corer with a clamp (like in the picture) as opposed to a suction cup. Again, these run about $20.

Use a nice sweet, or tart, apple. I like to use Pink Lady apples. A Red Delicious, for example, might not make for a very flavorful chip. But a Jazz or Granny Smith would make a yummy chip for sure!

So basically, you just twirl your apple through this contraption and it takes the skin off (drying the skin makes it too chewy - trust me and take it off), cores the apple and spiral slices it all at the same time. What you have left is just the good "apple meat." Take a knife and slice it just once from top to bottom, which will leave you with a lovely stack of evenly sliced apple chips. Lay each chip in a single layer in your dehydrator. The sides can be touching, but it is very important that the apples not overlap one another.

If you're wondering about browning, don't worry. The first time I tried this, I was very concerned about whether or not I needed to dip my apples into a lemon juice solution (or something similar), but I read online that it wasn't necessary and I went for it. The apples you see in the photo have not been treated, or flavored, with anything. I just popped the raw apple slices right into the dehydrator and that was it.

Once your apples are set, turn on your dehydrator (mine does not have any particular settings, just a plug that turns it on and off) and let those babies crisp up over a twenty-four hour period, give or take a few hours depending on your machine. Rotate the layers every couple of hours or so. Make sure the apples are totally dry. If you take them out too soon and don't eat them right away they will spoil quickly.

Once they're done, allow them to cool at room temperature before storing them in an airtight container. Then enjoy! They are delicious and nutritious - and a perfect compliment to movie night.

November 4, 2014

Easiest, Yummiest Mac and Cheese

It's finally Autumn in North Texas, my favorite time of year! After another brutally hot summer, it's finally cool enough to open the windows and let some crispy fresh air come inside. Even better, it's pouring down sweet, much-needed rain right now. I have the house to myself. And I'm catching up on both my cleaning and my Netflix queue. It's a great day! Of course, a great day like this calls for some comfort food. I made chocolate oatmeal energy balls last night, so sweets are covered. The only thing missing is something cheesy. Enter the Easy Vegan Macaroni and Cheeze recipe from the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. I just did a quick Google search for "the best" vegan mac and cheese and this is what popped up. Oh, and guess what? It's delicious! Creamy and "cheesy," even better than the boxed stuff - vegan or otherwise. Give it a try. It's perfect for this Fall weather, and I'm 99.99% certain that I will be serving it on my Thanksgiving table this year.

(recipe by Susan Voisin, who writes at

"Besides being low-fat, this recipe is also low in sodium, so salt-lovers may need to add salt. The tahini adds a little fat but a lot of flavor; still, leave it out if you need a completely oil-free dish.


  • 1 pound pasta (regular or gluten-free), cooked according to package directions
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 cup plain, fat-free soymilk (may use other non-dairy milk)
  • 3/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (optional, but lends creaminess and flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon mellow white miso (or additional salt)
  • black pepper to taste


  1. Put the pasta on to boil, according to package directions. While it’s cooking, blend water and all remaining ingredients together in a blender. When the pasta is al dente, drain it, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water, and return the pasta to pan. Add the sauce mixture and cook, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens. Add a little of the pasta water if more moistness is needed.
  2. If the sauce is not as flavorful as you’d like, add a little more mustard and onion powder.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s) | Cooking time: 25 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 8
Makes 8 servings. Per serving: 303 Calories (kcal); 4g Total Fat; (10% calories from fat); 15g Protein; 54g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 316mg Sodium; 5g Fiber. Also, if you use nutritional yeast fortified with B-12, one serving provides 100% of the daily requirement of that vitamin."

November 3, 2014

Raspberry Waffle Syrup

I am forty-one years old and pre-menopausal. Is that something I shouldn't talk about online? I don't care! It's a living hell. And no amount of hormonal-type (i.e. of animal origin) food avoidance is helping. I'm as pimply as a teenager, and I have daily hot flashes that my daughter's Girl Scout troop director accurately described as "my own private summer." And, hey sue me buddy, but sometimes a pimply, middle-aged woman having a hot flash needs a got-dang waffle, and sometimes there's no syrup in the house. So, she hits the internet and finds a solution. In this case, it was homemade raspberry syrup. I'd purchased two cases of raspberries the day before because they were on sale for 99 cents a case, which is a steal! So, now we're here. This syrup is delicious. We were spooning it out of the saucepan before it was even cool. Give it a try, and enjoy!

2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
1 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon water, divided
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • In a medium saucepan, combine 1 3/4 cups water with sugar. 
  • Add raspberries and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low. Allow mixture to simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Place the mixture in a fine, mesh sieve and press to release all of the liquid into a bowl or large cup. Return liquid to saucepan.
  • Whisk in cornstarch remaining tablespoon water.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook one minute, stirring constantly.
  • Remove from heat. Allow to cool before serving.
  • Can be stored in the refrigerator up to a week in an airtight container.
  • Enjoy!

October 23, 2014

Yellow Yum-Yum Soup

This soup was born from a soul-stirring need to have soup, despite having only a few standard soup ingredients on hand. Like, I just NEEDED to eat some salty, hot, delicious soup. And I would stop at nothing to get it.

Even if it meant that I pulled a bunch of random stuff out of my pantry and threw it into a huge pot, salted and spiced it and then ate it up. Which is what I did. And you know what? It turned out really amazingly good! I got lucky this time. This ain't my first rodeo, and I know what tastes good, but sometimes my pantry raids turn out terribly. This soup, though, was delicious, and has now been dubbed "yellow yum-yum soup." My kid and my husband loved it!

1 15-ounce can coconut milk
2 cans vegetable broth (using the coconut milk can)
1 head of green cabbage, thinly sliced into ribbons
1 15-ounce can white beans, any kind (I used great northern)
2 cubes yellow curry
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (fresh Thai basil would be even better!)
Dash of turmeric
2 tablespoons lime juice, or more to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
A couple of sprinkles of sesame oil, optional

  • Put the coconut milk and broth into a medium to large-sized pot. Heat and stir until just boiling.
  • Add all remaining ingredients. 
  • Simmer over medium-low heat until cabbage is just starting to get soft. About half and hour.
  • Adjust spices to taste. I like an obscene amount of lime juice. 
  • Serve hot. 
  • It's just that easy!

September 25, 2014

Sleepaway Camp Surprise

If you have ever seen the fabulously awful movie, Sleepaway Camp (1983), you already know the "surprise." I shall reveal said surprise after the recipe, so if you haven't seen the film and don't want the surprise ruined, don't scroll down past the recipe.

Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Sleepaway Camp is a film that defies explanation or definition. It's just terribly, terribly bad. But it's so much fun to watch (seriously, it is!) it has a cult following almost on par with the Evil Dead trilogy. The original film (along with it's equally terrible predecessors) has it's own website. And the star of the film, Felissa Rose, is a frequent guest of honor at horror conventions all over the world. A Sleepaway Camp Reunion in 2001 pulled hundreds of fans who came to get a glimpse of the cast and have their t-shirts and memorabilia autographed.

In honor of Sleepaway Camp, and just good ol' summer camp food in general, I am posting a very simple, but delicious broccoli and rice casserole that is reminiscent of camp cafeteria food, but way tastier.

The recipe comes from the cookbook, The Compassionate Cook: Or, Please Don't Eat the Animals, which I was fortunate to find on the Half Price clearance rack for two dollars. Woo hoo!

from The Compassionate Cook: Or, Please Don't Eat the Animals!

"The nutritional yeast gives this casserole a 'cheesy' quality, the broccoli gives it color, and the spices give it pizzazz."

1 10-ounce package frozen broccoli florets, or 1 bunch fresh, cut into pieces
2 cups white rice (I used long-grain brown rice)
1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine (I used Earth Balance buttery spread)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
Pinch of turmeric
I cup of nutritional yeast flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pinch of paprika
  • Steam the broccoli, about six minutes.
  • Prepare the rice according to package directions.
  • Spread the cooked rice evenly over the bottom of a 9x13" baking dish.
  • Sprinkle the broccoli over the rice and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Melt the margarine in a medium frying pan over low heat.
  • Beat in the flour with a whisk over medium heat until the mixture is smooth and bubbly, then whisk in the boiling water, salt soy sauce, garlic and onion powders, and turmeric. 
  • Cook the sauce until it thickens and bubbles, then whip in the yeast. 
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour the sauce over the broccoli and rice, sprinkle the top with paprika, and bake for 15 minutes. 
  • If desired place pan under broiler for a few minutes until the sauce is browned and crusty.

Okay, are you ready for the surprise?

Are you sure you're ready?!

Don't scroll down if you haven't seen the movie and don't want to ruin the ending!

That's your warning!


Here it comes...

Surprise! It's a weenie!
(A vegan one, of course.)

In the final scene of Sleepaway Camp, a twist is revealed. Angela, our heroine, has killed a boy and is crouched over the body. When she is approached by two camp counselers, she stands up, stark naked, to reveal that she has a dong, is a boy, and has been a boy from the get-go. She is also, naturally, the murderer. It's nonsensical gender-bending horror hi jinx like only the 80s can produce!

And, as a very special treat to my readers, I give you this...

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 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!!!

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.