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As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

"Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren't we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog."]  

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These days, I try to be a little nutty every day. 

Of course I don’t mean “nutty” as in “I missed my plane so I’m going to become a minor celebrity on YouTube” nutty.  Or  “I think I’ll switch careers at the pinnacle of my success and adopt the mien of a skid row bum from another planet” type of nutty.  And certainly not  “just drop me in the middle of the Sahara without any food, water or shelter, and see how I hold up for a week” sort of nutty. While it may be true I do, on occasion, exhibit behavior one might characterize as “nutty” (at least that’s what the HH keeps telling me), I was referring to the toothsome, bite-sized, healthy-fat-and-protein-rich kind of nutty. An “Uncle S.” kind of nutty.  

You see, I’ve had a fairly rocky history with nuts–and I blame it all on my Uncle S.  

One of my favorite relatives, Uncle S (along with Aunty M) lived upstairs in our family’s duplex during my childhood.  We kids would scoot out the door, up the stairs and into their home without a thought or an invitation, assuming it was simply the top floor of our own place.  Aunty M would greet us, hand over some homemade cookies, and then we’d go seek out our uncle.

I have to admit, I didn’t fully appreciate Uncle S’s unique charms until I was an adult.  An unrivalled prankster, Uncle S was a puckish,  Punk’d prototype whose myriad tricks were relentless.  Case in point: every Sunday, our family would pile into Uncle S’s taxi (this was before my dad acquired a car) for an outing in the countryside.  We’d drive for a while, after which, like clockwork, Uncle S would begin to hem and haw:  “Gee, I don’t remember passing that tree over there.  Maybe I took a wrong turn. You know, I’m not exactly sure where we are–maybe we’re lost.  Ricki, which way should I go?”  Given that I was only four or five at the time, I had no idea; but, also like clockwork, Uncle S’s musings sent me into paroxysms of anxiety, certain I’d be wandering forever in the woods, never to see my own home, bed or Barbie dolls again.

Once I grew older, I could appreciate Uncle S’s humor, his always jovial and somewhat michievious expression, reminiscent of the Pillsbury Dough Boy (although not in any way chubby). In fact, I’d say Uncle S resembled a cartoon character more than anything else: having lost his hair as a young man, his shiny dome was encircled with a fluffy white fringe that snaked round the back of his neck and behind his ears.  His nose, slightly bulbous at the tip, was, like his cheeks, often flushed pink,  and he wore a perpetual half-smile on his face. 

Uncle S had a favorite expression, “No Fun!”  which he used the way one would utter, “No Way!” or “You’ve Gotta Be Kidding Me!”.  The CFO and I found this endlessly amusing. To wit:

Ricki: Uncle S, my goldfish had babies and now we have four fishies.

Uncle S:  No Fun!

[Ricki and The CFO erupt in peals of uncontrollable giggles, hands clamped over their mouths].

The summer my mother died, it seemed only Uncle S could lighten the moribund shroud of silence in the hospital waiting room where our family sat in stunned silence.  Uncle S would ramble on, his words always infused with optimism and hope.  One evening, as we all sat lost in resigned torpor, Uncle S was positioned across from me and the CFO, an absent, bemused expression on his face.  The CFO leaned over to me and whispered, “Hey, doesn’t Uncle S sort of look like Bozo the Clown?”  That smile! That fringe! That nose!  Why yes, yes he did–and with that, Uncle S unwittingly bestowed on us a truly priceless gift: the only moment of unrestrained hilarity in an otherwise unbearable summer. 

Ah, yes, you’re wondering about the nuts.

Uncle S loved to eat nuts. In particular, he was never without his glass jar of Planter’s Dry Roasted peanuts, which he carried with him wherever he went.  Another open jar was stationed on a TV tray beside his armchair so he could munch as he enjoyed the Ed Sullivan Show.  He’d pour a small mound into his open palm, then tip it into his mouth with a quick flick of the wrist as if tossing a ball for a prize at the midway. Then he’d plow ahead with whatever it was he’d been saying,  mouth open and chewing, oblivious as the ground up bits of nut began to escape his mouth in little bursts of beige spray as he spoke.  (In fact, those Planter’s nuts and an opened can of peas and carrots–spooned straight from the can, cold–are pretty much all I ever remember him eating). 

For some inexplicable reason, I decided nuts were not my thing back then.   

I’m happy to report that my nut aversion was finally overcome when I came across Elaine Gottschall’s Specific Carbohydrate Diet (geared toward people with Crohn’s, Colitis, or other bowel diseases) while studying nutrition. Her recipes employ nut flours (basically just ground nuts), and I began to experiment with them back then.  Almonds tend to be the most versatile (and mildest in flavor), but almost any nut will do–pop it in a food processor and blend to a mealy consistency.

To some extent, I’m following the ACD  for the next month or so to heal my gut and encourage a little digestive rejuvenation. This means eating less gluten, fewer grains, and more fruits, vegetables, and legumes.  These pancakes were an auspicious first attempt. 

Made mostly with almond meal and a smidge of chickpea (besan) flour, they nevertheless retain a light, airy texture and a refreshing lemon tang.  Neither the almond nor the chickpea asserts itself too prominently, so the flavor remains mild.  I served these last week (before eschewing all sweeteners) with a splash of organic maple syrup from Coombs Family Farms that I received as sample (more on that in an upcoming post) and they were, quite simply, delicious. 

I may not be nutty enough to consume a jar of Planter’s peanuts just yet.  Still, these little treats are a healthy step in the right direction.

Grain-Free Lemony Almond Pancakes (and ACD variation)

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TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

 

 

Last Year at this Time: Week at Warp Speed and Easy Dinner

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

I’m planning a “real” post on Polenta Appetizers for later today, but for now just wanted to remind everyone that this is the LAST DAY to enter my chocolate and baked goods giveaway contest

I’ve been blown away by the number of entries and am thrilled that so many people will have a chance to win–thanks so much for entering!  But if you haven’t entered yet, now’s the time (or score a second entry by linking to the contest on your own blog).

You can check all the details here.  

I’m looking forward to baking up a storm for y’all! :)

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Mum, it’s not fair that relatives can’t enter the contest.  Well, I guess there’s also the fact that we can’t eat chocolate or sugar.  But how about a dog treat contest?  I bet that cute Henry would enter. . . just a thought.”

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

Book Review: Go Dairy Free

January 27, 2009

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

If you’re reading this, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please come visit the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs, by clicking here.

As always, thank you for reading. I look forward to hearing from you at the new site.

(“Um, Mum, you are taking us with you, aren’t you?  Because (and we hate to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans on this blog than you do.”)

[To everyone who voted for me in the Food Blog Awards, I can't THANK YOU enough!  Although I didn't win, it was really fun to be invited to the party (and to see my blog stats jump to their highest level ever one day as a result).  The winner, it turns out, was some little obscure blog that you've probably never heard of, "Mittens in the Kitchen," or something.  I guess that's the last we'll be hearing from herBut speaking of winning, don't forget to enter my contest to win chocolate or Sweet Freedom baked goods! You've got 3 more days.] 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

gdfcover123thin1 When I was asked a while back whether I’d like to review Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living by Alisa Marie Fleming, I didn’t hesitate to say “yes.”   I was already familiar with Alisa’s popular website,  GoDairyFree.org, and was tickled to have a few of my recipes included in her holiday desserts on her Milk-Free Blog.  Still, I had to ensure that the recipes were those I could enjoy (ie, no animal products, no wheat, no refined sugar). Alisa assured me that yes, the majority the book’s recipes fit my criteria.  That was all I needed to know! 

Go Dairy Free by Alisa Marie Fleming

Since being diagnosed with a milk allergy in her 30s (and if you read her story, you’ll be astonished at how long it took to reach that diagnosis), Alisa Marie Fleming has established herself as a pivotal force in the world of dairy-free and allergen-free living. 

As both creator and voice behind GoDairyFree.org, the website urging “A simple change for a better life,” Fleming provides online resources for those who shun dairy products, along with ample information for anyone with food allergies (many gluten-free recipes , as well as those for casein-free or animal-free diets also grace the site).  For her latest feat, Fleming has compiled a comprehensive guide and cookbook for those with milk allergies, lactose intolerance or allergies to casein (the protein in milk): Go Dairy Free.

Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed with a milk allergy or simply prefer not to eat dairy products, this book is chock full of useful, practical information.  The first 130 pages or so comprise the guidebook, offering information and explanations of the various types of dairy allergy, how they affect the body, and how to compensate after you cut milk products from your life. 

In addition to a plethora of shopping and kitchen tips, the book also provides an exhaustive array of dairy replacements (both homemade or available for purchase) for every product imaginable, from butter to milk to cheese to yogurt to creamy sauces.  (Who knew you could make your own potato milk?)  Fleming’s style is relaxed and converstational, yet the information provided is always clear, well-researched and easily accessible to readers.  This is the kind of reference book I like to keep at hand, to consult before shopping or while I cook; its place has already been secured at (easy-to-locate) eye level on my bookshelf.

The book’s cover entices with its vibrant, mouth-watering photos (by the immensely talented Hannah Kaminsky of My Sweet Vegan fame).  But it wasn’t until I read past the guidebook that I truly fell in love. There, following the encyclopedic discussion of dairy-free living, was yet another ten chapters–all of recipes! And virtually every recipe was one I wanted to try, with so many of them featuring the kind of ingredients and flavor combinations that I most enjoy. I couldn’t wait to get cooking.

Well, the recipes did not disappoint. They were easy to follow and delivered as promised. Here’s what I’ve tried so far: 

Light Apricot Scones

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Given my penchant for all things breakfast or brunch, these scones were my first choice to try, and they certainly lived up to their name. With bits of tangy diced apricot throughout, the dense fruit offered a lovely contrast to the light, delicate biscuit.  These also paired well with my own Brandied Apricot Ginger Spread, as you can see here:

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Just look at the delicate crumb on this scone!  Both the HH and I thoroughly enjoyed these, and they were equally good the next day (they didn’t last beyond that, so I don’t know how they would have been on Day Three).

Pillowy Whole Grain Pancakes

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I couldn’t resist trying out these pancakes, as Alisa kindly acknowledges my own recipe as her inspiration!  (I added some shredded coconut to these, just for fun).  The pancakes were, indeed, pillowy–airy, tender, and, as you can see from the photo, incredibly light (there are only three pancakes in that stack, folks–and just look at how high it is).

Breakfast Worthy Banana Bread

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This innovative bread was a huge hit in our home–which is why I don’t have any photos of individual slices (we gobbled them up too quickly to photograph).  You can’t tell from the picture, but this loaf is intensely flavored, incredibly moist, and wonderfully satisfying.  I ate this plain, slathered with almond butter, and topped with homemade pumpkin butter.  Both the HH and I pronounced this bread our favorite banana bread–ever.

Dairy-Free Feta-ish

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I’d been wanting to try the recipe for these polenta appetizers for over a year, but didn’t know what to use instead of feta. Then I saw Alisa’s recipe for this dairy-free version, and knew immediately I had to make it!  It worked beautifully in these bites, which I served to friends a couple of weeks ago (I’ll be sharing the appetizer recipe in a future post, even if I can’t reveal the feta secret!). 

Peanut Buttery African Stew

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Redolent with creamy peanut butter and African-inspired spices, this stew became an immediate favorite in our house.  After a skeptical grimace when I first described the ingredients to him, the HH took one bite and declared, “Hey!  This is really good!”  (High praise, indeed, from my meat-obsessed honey).  As for me, I was equally enamored of the rich and subtly spiced sauce and big chunks of veggies.  Both the colorful appearance and deep flavor of this dish is certain to appeal.

Chinese Five-Spice Noodles

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Since Chinese Five Spice was already one of my favorite spice combinations, I knew I’d enjoy this dish even before cooking it.  The pairing of exotic spices with citrus here is sensational, in a dish that’s hearty enough for dinner but light enough that you’ll feel energized after eating it.  I’ll definitely be making this one again, too.

Peanut Butter “Truffles”

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While these dangerously decadent truffles aren’t my usual dessert fare (they contain sugar), I did mix up a batch in honor of the CFO  when she came to visit over the holidays last month.  With a smooth, velvety peanut butter filling enrobed in dark, rich chocolate, this candy strikes the perfect balance of salty and sweet, rivalling anything I’ve eaten from a confectionary.  They were spectacular! (I’d be sure to invite a crowd if you make these, as you’ll otherwise end up eating them all yourself).  

It was pure pleasure sampling these items from the book, every one of which I’d make again.  I’m looking forward to trying out many more of these reliable, interesting and tasty recipes.  Go Dairy Free is that rare combination in a food-related tome: great food and great advice, all under one inviting cover. 

Peanut Butter Cinnamon Popcorn (or Rice Crumbles)

TO VIEW THE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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I simply couldn’t end this entry without a recipe!  While this one isn’t in the book (it’s from Alisa’s blog, One Frugal Foodie), it’s a fabulous recipe and will give you a good sense of Alisa’s style.  I tried this the other day and was thrilled to find such a delectable use for my broken bits of rice cakes (the ones I used were sesame flavor, and this still worked beautifully).  I think this mix would be sensational with added peanuts or cashews as well. Another PB-flavored treat that you won’t be able to resist!

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Peanut Butter Cinnamon Popcorn (or Rice Crumbles)

from One Frugal Foodie

TO VIEW THE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

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The close friendship between my buddy Sterlin and me was soldered back in high school, when we first discovered that we were the only two girls in the entire school who had never had a boyfriend (well, I guess there was “BB,” too, but we figured that sleeping with the entire senior class had to count for something).  

This revelation prompted an immediate sense of community between us, after which we spent endless hours (in the way that only teenagers can) on the telephone, musing about why we didn’t have a boyfriend, how much we wished we could have a boyfriend, what we would do if we ever got a boyfriend, and what it was other girls like BB had that we didn’t, allowing them to seemingly conjure streams of drooling boys trailing behind them like empty cans tied to a “Just Married” car bumper.  Entirely unjustly, we thought, these girls enjoyed a surfeit of boyfriends, while we had to make do with an unrequited crush on our French teacher, Mr. Krauser.

But then, we discovered historical romance novels, and our focus shifted.  You know the ones: innocent, nubile, yet spunky lass is swept away (usually literally) by swaggering, swarthy, self-assured rake with a (very well hidden) heart of gold.  Over time, he wins her devotion, while she tames his savage nature.  Well, we were spunky, weren’t we?  Sterlin and I began to daydream, starry-eyed, about meeting a similar hero (even though we never fully understood exactly what a “rake” was) and riding off into the sunset, where he’d unravel the secrets of our nascent womanhood and we would charm his wild heart.

In the books, at least, we could get close to the most desirable of men. For some reason, these novels (at least, the ones I remember) all sported titles pairing two nouns, representing male and female: there was The Wolf and the Dove,  and The Flame and The Flower (both Kathleen E. Woodiwiss masterworks) or perhaps The Raven and The Rose or The Pirate and the Pagan (both by Virginia Henley).  And let’s not forget my favorite, The French Teacher and the Girl with Braces and Long Hair Parted in the Middle Who Liked to Bake (okay, my memory may be a bit fuzzy on that one–high school was a long time ago!). 

Well, given our combined paucity of feminine wiles  flirting ability lacy lingerie boyfriend-attracting attributes, we eventually decided to woo our guys with food (the way to a man’s heart, and all that).  So Sterlin developed Date Pasta as her staple, while I attempted to perfect an ideal chocolate cheesecake, or brownie, or even muffin (since, you know, I had high hopes of my imaginary beau staying for breakfast). 

Those erstwhile romantic efforts came back to me in a flash last week after I’d been browsing through some old cookbooks. Previously, I’d had a little email exchange with Lisa (Show Me Vegan) about buying or keeping cookbooks we no longer really use, or those that contain only a smattering of recipes still relevant to our newly acquired dietary habits. 

One such tome in my collection is called The Breakfast Book, by Diana Terry (and though I’ve owned this book since the 1980s, I never realized until today that it was published in Australia–which, I may have mentioned, is the land of my dreams, with its picturesque vistas, lush wilderness, stunning cities, enviable weather, and dashing, rakish Aussie gentelmen–all of whom just happen to speak with that sexy Australian accent). 

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Ah, yes, well.  Pardon me: back to the book. Terry offers a sample menu for a brunch with a decidedly orange theme.  The lucky boyfriend guest is treated to Champagne with Grand Marnier, Scrambled Eggs with Wholemeal Brioches, Fresh Fruit with Ricotta-Orange Dip, and Viennese-Style Coffee.  Of course, none of the recipes would suit me in its present form, but that certainly didn’t stop this spunky gal.

After reading about the citrus-suffused eggs that were then gingerly ladled over a split brioche, its top placed rakishly askew, I asked myself:  “Who said tofu scrambles should be savory, anyway?  Why not sweet? And why must they always be one shade shy of neon yellow?  And couldn’t my own, homemade, biscuits stand in for a brioche? And just what does “rakishly” actually mean, anyway?”

So I created this scramble, which is slightly sweet and not too yellow.  And it’s very creamy.  And it has orange zest and juice in it.  And you ladle it gingerly over the bottom of a carob and raisin biscuit, the top of which is placed rakishly askew over it. 

And may I just say–I ended up loving this dish.  In fact, our affair bordered on the torrid.  Who needs a boyfriend?  I’d rather eat this*.  But if you’re feeling generous, go ahead and share it with your wolf, or your flame, or your rake.

[PS. Giveaway, as promised, will be announced in my next post--stay tuned!]

*Okay, not really. If I had to choose between a sweet tofu scramble and my sweet HH, of course the HH would win out.  But just barely.

Sweet Scramble with Carob-Raisin Biscuits

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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based on an idea in The Breakfast Book by Diana Terry

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Carob and Raisin Biscuits

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

© 2009  Diet, Dessert and Dogs

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!  Please visit the shiny new home of DDD by clicking here.

* [Absolutely no relation to the reality show of the same name] ##

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[That is one MoFo huge smoothie!]

Now that the holidays are over and a new, fervently hopeful year has begun, I’ve decided to simplify my life.

It might have been the post-apocalyptic array of file folders, sticky notes, to-do lists (to-do lists ON sticky notes), drafts of recipes for the cookbook, empty interoffice envelopes, glasses (of both types), half-filled mug, pens, pencils, scotch tape, daybook, boxes of tissues, assorted and sundry notes-to-self, a stapler, checkbook and magazines and paperbacks and various other items that seem to have settled randomly, like nuclear fallout, on my desk. 

Or perhaps it was the never-quite-cleared kitchen table, the kitchen counters encumbered with bins of flour and Sucanat and oats, bottles of agave nectar, cannisters of raisins and dried cranberries, bowls and spatulas and whisks and pans and measuring cups and spoons (okay, I do have an excuse: the aforementioned cookbook).

Still, it could have been the closet full of wayward shoes, or the three distinct, mostly unworn wardrobes (that would be “slim”; “gaining weight”‘; and “fat”), assorted scarves, out of season accessories, fuzzy slippers and terrycloth bathrobe. 

No, no, no–it must have been the 14 unanswered emails, 27 unanswered voicemails, three scheduled doctors’ appointments, two scheduled vet appointments, one hair appointment, one dog training appointment, as-yet to be determined appointment to set up an appointment with myself to get it all together and finally organize all my appointments. . . .

Okay, I may be exaggerating a tad.  But just a tad.  It’s true what they say: the older you get, the more complicated your life becomes.  (Or was that, the older you get, the louder you turn up the volume on the television?  Same difference.) 

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[Simplicity at its finest.]

A while back, my friend Eternal Optimist informed me that she’d completed a total purge of her abode, sort of like an emotional smudging.  She tossed boxes of garbage, shredded reams of old papers and files, donated countless bags of clothes to charity, and repurposed old posters, kitchen chairs, picture frames, unused shelving, CDs and books, and various and sundry other long-neglected items courtesy of Freecyle. It felt great, she averred.

And while I’ve never been a huge fan of the magazine Real Simple (it seems too self-consciously austere and geometric for my taste, reminiscent of Dieter on Sprockets), I have frequently nurtured a dream of chucking it all and moving  to a one-room cabin in the woods, complete with wood-burning stove, 100 acres of surrounding forest, and plenty of space for The Girls to gambol to their hearts’ content. 

Just think of it:  freedom to do what you like, at one with nature, fresh air, green grass, no schedules, no time-stealing technology.  On any given day, I could just wake up, throw open the door and inhale a long, deep breath of unpolluted, pristine country air. . . well, after I chop the firewood for that stove, I guess.  And after I shoo the raccoons out of the food bins at the end of the cabin.  And I guess I’d have to chase a few mice from the cupboards, too, which would mean cleaning up mouse poop.  And also swat those spiders in the corner above the bed–oooh, I hate spiders!  And snakes.  I hope there aren’t any snakes out there.  And I’m scared of mice.  And don’t raccoons have talon-like claws?  I’ve heard they can be really vicious if cornered.  And I bet they don’t serve Triple Mocha Lattes at the intersection of Pine Tree and Deciduous. 

But it did make a lovely reverie, didn’t it?

(“Yes, Mum, a perfect reverie!  But does this mean we don’t get to gambol in the woods now?  Oh, and would you mind turning down the volume on that TV?“)

I also failed miserably at organizing my life over the holidays.  My initial zeal to reorganize my desk, clear out some boxes from our basement, organize the garage, draw up a Five-Year Plan, and resume my lost habit of daily meditation never materialized (oh, and let’s not forget: get my finances in order, secure a retirement plan, start a new workout regimen, finish a cookbook, and clip Chaser’s nails–nothing too onerous, you understand.  Well, excepting Chaser’s nails.).  All I managed was to clear off the desk–and that task alone took two weeks.  

Still, the sense of accomplishment and buoyancy I felt prompted me to seek out other ways to simplify.  After the recent holiday excesses and toppling with a (very heavy) thud off the healthy-eating wagon, I’ve decided to pare down my diet as well.   So I’m afraid you won’t be seeing much fudge, or pecan pie, or marzipan-topped shortbread, or any other dessert that, for some strange reason, seems to spike my blog stats exponentially for a while.  The blog stats will just have to wait until I get my body stats in order. 

Which brings me to today’s recipe.  Coincidentally, over the holidays one gift I received was a book called The Healthiest Meals on Earth, by Jonny Bowden.  It contains breathtaking photographs of really healthy foods, along with pertinent nutritional information and great recipes.  This smoothie is one I adapted for breakfast the other day.  It features one of my all-time favorite foods–sweet potatoes (yes, for breakfast!), and is both simple and quick to make.  The potatoes confer a natural, light sweetness, and the oranges add a bit of tang.  I loved the cheery color and the thick, almost pudding-like consistency (I was tempted to eat this with a spoon, in fact). 

If simple living can taste this good, I may have to reconsider that cabin in the woods.

On second thought, nah.

## Well, unless you count the fact that we’ve both dated Rocker Guys (hers of the black leather punk; mine of the black leather pants).

Sweet and Simple Sweet Potato Smoothie

adapted from The Healthiest Meals on Earth

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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Unlike many smoothies, this really does feel like a meal.  The sweet potato provides a substantial density and nutritional profile here (both beta carotene and antioxidants), along with vitamin C in the fruit.  I used eggnog flavored soymilk for a festive touch, but you can use any milk you please in this. 

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

Please come visit the shiny new home of DDD by clicking here.

 

breadpud4

A few of you asked for the Pumpkin Bread Pudding recipe about which I posted yesterday. Since I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the pumpkin bread on its own, and I was most assuredly dissatisfied with the sweetened condensed milk (the base for the caramel sauce) on its own, I hadn’t intended to post the recipe.

But you know what they say about the sum of individual parts. . . despite the haphazard way the dish came together, it ended up being a winner, so I’ll try to reconstruct the recipe here.  It was a huge hit and would make a spectacular New Year’s Eve dessert served in wine or martini glasses.

[BIG caveat:  I didn't take notes while making this, so you may have to play with proportions a bit, particularly with the caramel sauce. Results may vary.]

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Warm Caramel Sauce (GF option)

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With pumpkin in both the bread and the “custard” in which it bakes, this pudding is definitely rich in pumpkin.  Lightly spiced, this moist bread pudding is highlighted with a rum-infused caramel sauce. 

FOR THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Family and Festive Feasting

December 28, 2008

 [Diet, Dessert and Dogs has moved!  If you're reading this page, you've landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here--and don't forget to update your readers and blogrolls! 

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

"Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren't we?  Because (and sorry to have to tell you this) we actually have more fans on this blog than you do."

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[Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Warm Caramel Sauce]

As I mentioned in a previous post, the CFO came to visit over the holidays, and we had a truly lovely time together, chillaxing (I can’t understand why that word has evaporated from the lexicon.  I mean, it just seems to capture so perfectly the concept its meant to convey), laughing, watching movies*, laughing, shopping, playing with The Girls, laughing, and eating far, far too much.  I’m happy to say that my sister also bonded with both of our furry babies, who have been wandering aimlessly around the house since she left this morning. 

(“Mum, what do you mean, ‘she left’? Doesn’t she live with us now?  Where did she go? And, um, who will rub my belly tonight?”)

It does seem like ages since I’ve written on this blog, when in fact, it’s been just a few days. I’m just fascinated by the science fiction-like relative quality of time at the holidays: the space-time continuum stretches infinitely as you wait for the Big Day (or Days, depending on your belief system); then, like the Big Bang, it’s over in a flash.

Not to belabor the physics theme or anything, but I think my stomach has taken over the role of a black hole this holiday season.  Truly, I didn’t know it was possible that so much food could be sucked into that abyss in so short a span. Ah, if only time could stretch as infinitely as my appetite (and if only the waistband on my pants could do the same. . . ). 

Ah, what the heck, it’s the holidays. While the CFO was here , in effect, we enjoyed two major feast meals:  the first on Christmas Day, a semi-traditional repast that blended the Judeo-Christian cuisines; then, the following night, an Indian-themed feast, because we felt like it. 

Although neither my sister nor the HH is vegan (or even vegetarian), the bulk of the menu accommodated my dietary restrictions, so that we could all enjoy freely. And despite much good-natured ribbing in both directions (the CFO pooh-poohed almost every recipe I suggested on the grounds it was “too Veeee-gan”, while I countered by calling her a “rabid anti-Veegite“), it was the dish about which she was most skeptical, the wheat-free, egg-free, dairy-free pumpkin bread pudding, that turned out to be the star of the show. 

For the holiday meal, I relied on several tried-and-true recipes such as herb-roasted root vegetables, balsamic-dijon brussels sprouts and roast on the 25th, plus (in keeping with the Hannukah theme I started with those latkes the other day) an apple-noodle pudding (or kugel).  Even though this was a sweet kugel and more of what I’d consider a dessert, it did work well with the other dishes, offering a bit of luscious creaminess punctuated by tart cherries, along with the similar sweet-tart contrast in the brussels sprouts.  In fact, this noodle pudding would be perfect for breakfast, I’d venture.

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[Apple-Noodle Pudding with Tart Dried Cherries]

The bread pudding my sister so loved began with a pumpkin bread (recipe from Simple Treats), soaked in a pumpkin “custard” based on the mixture I used in my French Toast Soufflé.  I baked the puddings in individual ramekins, but you could easily do a single pudding in a loaf or square pan and scoop it from there. I topped the puddings with a homemade caramel sauce–a concoction based on a sweetened condensed milk experiment that went awry–that I’d kept warm. 

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[A bite of pumpkiny-caramelly bliss.]

The result was spectacular–warm, slightly crisp on the outside but moist and spongy on the inside, über-pumpkiny, slightly spiced, and with the smooth, glossy thickness of warm caramel blanketing the whole affair. This is a chic, stylish dessert, yet one that was really simple in its preparation.

We certainly didn’t need any additional desserts after that finale, but since I had loads of tester recipes in the house that I’d recently done up for the cookbook, I put out a tray with Glazed Almond Bars, Dalmatian Cheesecake Brownies and Hazelnut Mocha Cookies; as well as leftover Marzipan-Topped Shortbread, Tutti Fruiti Christmas Cookies, and Chocolate Macaroons.  All were CFO-approved, I’m happy to say.

The next night, though still full from the Christmas dinner, we managed an incredible follow-up with an Indian feast that, we decided, will go down in the annals of Most Memorable Meals in the DDD household. 

The menu included a lentil dal recipe I first saw about a week ago on Lisa’s blog; peas in a creamy sauce (adapted from a recipe I once borrowed from Gemini I); an aloo saag (well, not really–I just don’t know the word for “kale”) that combined potatoes and shredded kale in a spicy tomato sauce; coconut brown basmati rice; and homemade chickpea pancakes from Meena Pathak’s Indian Cooking for Family and Friends.  I can tell you, there was a symphony of lip-smacking, lentil scooping, potato spooning, and sauce sopping going on, as well as a mellifluous refrain of friendly chatter and wine-glass clinking that evening.  Very chillaxing.

I promise to share the goodies from our Indian feast in a future post, but rather than inundate you with so many recipes at once, I thought I’d start off with the lovely Apple Noodle Pudding with Tart Dried Cherries.  This alone would make a great light mid-week  supper–and I, for one, could certainly use some lighter meals these days.

Also:  I’m a little late jumping on this bandwagon, but wanted to mention a charity drive put on by Katie over at Chocolate Covered Vegan.  In honor of the season, Katie is offering to donate 20 cents to the Enough Project (an organization that works to counter crimes against humanity) for every comment she receives on this post.  How sweet is that? It’s incredibly easy to help out this way–just hop on over and leave a comment!

 *Christmas Day:  that classic chestnut, White ChristmasThe CFO and I, while sisters ourselves, bear no resemblance to either Rosemary Clooney or Vera-Ellen (well, perhaps my wrist bears a resemblance to Vera-Ellen’s waist).

Boxing Day:  taking advantage of the nearly-empty theaters, Seven Pounds. What I learned from watching this movie:  1) Will Smith is (still) preternaturally gorgeous;  2) Will Smith is an extraordinarily talented actor; 3) that is one whacked reason to keep a jellfish as a pet.

Yesterday: The Dark Knight. I agree that Heath Ledger deserved an Oscar for his performance.  Not only that, but also a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for being able to unravel the convoluted structure of the multi-pronged plot in this movie.  (Okay, perhaps a not-entirely fair assessment on my part, as I couldn’t bring myself to watch the violent scenes.  Which means I missed about 94% of the movie.)

Apple Noodle Pudding with Tart Dried Cherries

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Unfortunately, I can’t recall the original source of this recipe, which I copied from a magazine several years ago in the BB (Before Blog) era of my life.  Nevertheless, I’ve added several elements and changed others over the years, so I consider this my own variation on the original.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

© 2008 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

 

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Today began like most other mornings:  a wet, cold nose against my ear (that would be Chaser, not the HH) rousing me from sleep; a quick (warm, dry) kiss to the HH; and popping (okay, more like fizzling) out of bed before stretching, going through the usual ablutions and tramping over to the office to turn on the computer and check out some blogs.  For our lazy Sunday morning (after shovelling the additional 15 cm./ 6 inches of snow that arrived overnight, of course), I thought I might make some pancakes for breakfast–maybe banana; maybe apple.

Then I read Ruth’s Hannukah (or, for us Canadians, Chanukah) post and before I knew it, I was craving potato pancakes (aka latkes). 

Which is weird, because I hate latkes.

Let me explain.  Over the years, I’ve sampled many different kinds of potato latkes in many different kitchens; and I can honestly tell you I haven’t enjoyed a single one. (Sorry, Mrs. D who kindly invited me to her Rosh Hashanah table back in university; sorry, all my friends who’ve been generous enough to share; sorry, Aunty M. and CBC; sorry, all those caterers whose miniature pancakes I’ve sampled at festive tables in the past). 

Given that I adore home fries and even hash browns, this latke enmity always seemed odd to me.  But whenever I’d try again, the results were the same: the pancakes in question were very heavy, very greasy, and fairly bland, with a high-gloss exterior and mushy, mealy insides.  Was I missing something?  Is there some kind of Freemason-like secret latke society that knows something those of us using the regular latke recipes don’t know? Or was I simply hanging around with horrible cooks?

Whatever; I decided to change all that this morning.  That plate of latkes (and the explanatory article that Ruth included, as well) simply caught my fancy, and I had to have latkes!

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After a quick tour using Veg Blog Search, I uncovered a large selection of options.  There were traditional potato latkes, those made entirely from sweet potatoestraditional latkes with cool toppings, and a whole bunch of trail-blazing atypical latkes. I decided to base my own version on Bryanna’s fat-free potato and sweet potato pancakes.  I loved the combination of both types of spud, both for color and nutrition, and I thought a lower-fat version would be good at this time of year as well (I did add 2 Tbsp./15 ml. olive oil to the mixture to enhance the flavors a little).  This was also the perfect excuse to use my cast iron skillet yet once more–something I’ve been doing at every available opportunity the past few weeks as I endeavor to render it truly non-stick (so far, no luck).

I’m happy to report that the Latke Loathing has been vanquished, once and for all! (Must have been those sweet potatoes). The HH was also a fan.  We had ours with a slightly unconventional topping, a balsamic-fig sauce that was given to me a few weeks back  (more typical accompaniments include sour cream or applesauce).  What a fabulous combination!  The cakes were decidedly not mushy, as I remembered latkes of old; they were crispy on the outside and supple on the inside, the potatoes just cooked.  They held together beautifully and offered up an alluring aroma of caramelized onion and fragrant dill as they were grilled. With the sweet-tart contrast of the fig sauce slathered over the top, these were the perfect Sunday breakfast. 

Now, it seems the Sunday pancake options are limitless. So glad I start my days the way I do. 

To those who celebrate, Happy Hannukah!  (and Hanukkah, AND Chanukah!) :)

Two-Toned Potato Latkes

adapted from Notes from the Vegan Feast Kitchen

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While we ate these for breakfast, latkes are more often eaten as a side dish or appetizer with savory foods.  They’re great both ways.

3 small white or Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and grated

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and grated

1 large onion, grated

2 Tbsp. (10 ml.) extra virgin olive oil

3/4 cup (110 g.) kamut flour or (100 g.) whole spelt flour

2 tsp. (10 ml.) baking powder

3/4 tsp. (7.5 ml.) fine sea salt

1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) finely ground flax seeds

2 Tbsp. (10 ml.) water

1 tsp. (5 ml.) garlic powder

1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) dried dill weed

1/2 tsp. (2. 5 ml.) smoked paprika

Using a food processor or box grater, grate the potatoes and sweet potatoes and place in a large colander.  Squeeze the mixture with your hands as if squeezing a sponge to get out as much of the starchy liquid as you can.  Place in a large bowl.

Grate the onion and add it to the potato mixture along with the remaining ingredients.  Mix together very well, using your hands if necessary.

Heat a cast iron or other nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Using a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop the mixture into the pan, flattening the pancakes with a spatula (they should be fairly flat).  Cook about 3-4 minutes, until bottoms are golden; flip and cook on the other side another 3 minutes or so, until golden.  Keep pancakes warm as you continue to cook them.  Serve immediately with apple sauce, sour cream, ketchup, cranberry sauce, chutney, or other topping of choice.

Last Year at this Time: Last Minute Christmas Cookie [Sugar-Free Sugar Cookies]

© 2008 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! PLEASE VISIT US AT THE SHINY NEW HOME OF DDD, BY CLICKING HERE.

[I've decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly, or else is so easy to make that no recipe is required.  Here's today's "Flash in the Pan."]

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One of the blogs I read and enjoy on a regular basis is Katie’s Chocolate Covered Vegan.  The ever-adorable,  squash-loving, mulitple-meals-with-same-dish, search-term reporting, Photoshop-proficient, cupcake-baker extraordinaire blogger provides great advice on cooking up healthy, delicious meals in a snap, many of which are quick and easy to make. And if you’ve ever read her blog, you’ll also know that Katie loves to use her blender (one of which she just acquired gratis–lucky gal!!).

Well, I may be a breakfast person, but that doesn’t automatically make me a cold-cereal person. Oh, I used to be a cold-cereal person, all right; throughout high school, I think I ate a bowl of Special K, Corn Flakes, Shreddies, or Cap’n Crunch (well, I had to have some indulgence, didn’t I?) with lots and lots of skim milk (ew!), every single day (and I wondered how I turned up with IBS!). cerealbox Ever since I changed my diet, though, I’ve relied more on cooked whole grains and soy or almond milk as my “cereal.”  Constants in my diet now are steaming bowls of steel-cut oats, brown basmati rice, millet, or even buckwheat for breakfast.  (In the longstanding DDD tradition of “Ricki and the HH must be diametrically opposed on every single issue,” my Human Honey loves cold cereal. So, when I buy the mega-box of Raisin Bran that he so adores, I often pick up another carton of something wholegrain for me, for those two times a year I have a hankering).

Well, over a year ago now, I read about the recipe for Banana Bread Blender Cereal on CCV’s blog.  I thought it sounded great–the perfect way to use up that box of cereal I rarely touched–but it was cold, and I crave warm during the snowbound months.  Problem solved:  I simply warmed it up instead.  

And you know what happened?  Just as Katie predicted, the banana caramelized a bit and the blended cereal absorbed the milk, smoothing up and softening–resulting in the most delicious, pillowy, creamy and self-sweetened cereal I’ve ever eaten!  I was hooked, immediately, and have made this for breakfast countless times since.  I’ve played with the recipe a bit since then, but the basics are the same.

Here, then, is the perfect comfort breakfast for a cold, snowy morning when the chill accosts your feet as you scamper across the kitchen tiles to the coffee maker (or teapot, in my case).  It takes only a few minutes to prepare, and rewards you with a warming, soothing, sweet and satisfying meal in a bowl.  Thanks, Katie!

(Oh, and Thanks to all from Elsie (and moi, of course) for the outpouring of support over our flagrant disregard of our vet’s advice, taking that cone off early anyway (stitches are scheduled to be removed Saturday).  Oh, and yes, Scott, I guess it would have been a little more effective if our Girl had turned on the computer first.)

["What?? You have to turn it ON??"]

CCV’s Warm Blender Cereal

adapted from Chocolate Covered Vegan

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

© 2008 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! PLEASE VISIT US AT THE SHINY NEW HOME OF DDD, BY CLICKING HERE.

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Now, I realize I promised a light and not-too-filling recipe today, but before we get to that, I must share something very rich and decadent and–because I ate most of it in one sitting–rather filling: the Peppermint Ritter Sport bar I won (a while ago, now) in Amey’s contest!

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I received the bar in the mail a couple of weeks ago, and was thrilled to rip open the envelope and find that it reached me in perfect condition–all the way from California! While a couple of the squares had broken apart, the smooth, white, minty filling remained enclosed in the chocolate and every piece was perfectly edible.  And believe me, eat it I did (well, I shared–just a wee bit–with the HH). 

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I also loved that the entire wrapper was in German!  Here in Toronto, anyway, the Ritter Sports we get have multiple languages on the wrappers, including French and English.  It made Amey’s seem much more authentic.  Thanks so much, Amey!  It’s always so exciting to get something fun in the mail, and that bar is a definite new favorite.  (Wow, I think I’m a little overwhelmed with all the goodies I’ve received in the mail from other bloggers these past few months!  Have I mentioned lately that you guys are THE BEST??!)

And after dessert. . . . breakfast!

A couple of weeks ago, I went out for brunch with my friend PR Queen to celebrate both our birthdays, which are a month apart. (Yes, this really was the birthday that refused to surrender!)

In any case, we went to an upscale vegan resto called Fressen, where the food is stellar (and the prices are equally astronomical). I relished my fresh beet, apple and carrot juice; salad of baby greens and balsamic-dijon dressing; and stuffed tofu omelet.  But I just couldn’t see myself going there on a regular basis, mostly because (a) it’s right in the heart of the Queen West area of Toronto, just a minim too trendy, too grungy and too crowded for my taste; (b) Queen West is right in the heart of the general downtown in Toronto, a 35-minute drive away at the best of times, but more like an hour-plus when there’s traffic; (c) the prices there are, as I mentioned, bordering on the stratosphere; and (d) if I kept eating brunch there on a regular basis, I’d be denying myself the challenge of re-creating the same brunch at home.  Which, because I’m just wacky that way, I endeavored to do the very next weekend.

First, I suppose I should pause here to admit that, for most of my life, I have been severely Ovule-Challenged.  Whether soft boiled, sunny-side up, over easy, or any other way, I never did master egg cooking skills.  And omelets add yet another layer of difficulty: the perfect (egg) omelet is meant to be uniformly puffy and light, all in one piece, possessing a slightly gooey interior that I’ve always found rather gag-inducing. Even when the HH and I were first together and I attempted omelets on a regular basis, my egg oeuvres (or would that be oeufres?) would invariably crack and split and wilt like leaves on my sorely neglected ficus plant every time I tried to flip them, resulting in breakage and a pan housing three or four large, ragged-edge slabs of egg, sprawled at odd angles. I’d end up stirring the mixture furiously, ultimately transforming it into a semi-scramble and calling it frittata.  It wasn’t long before the HH took over omelet duty.  He’s never had a problem whipping one up (literally); and, to this day, he cooks an omelet for himself almost every Sunday. 

I assumed I’d have more success re-creating that tofu-based Fressen beauty (even though my first attempt at a tofu omelet also lacked that airy, pillowy texture, despite its wonderful flavor). What I loved about the Fressen version was how it seemed both moist and fluffy at the same time; while clearly cooked and browned on the outside, the inside remained soft, creamy, and light as custard. Stuffed with a succulent, rich filling of pesto, caramelized leek and mushrooms, it was a vision to behold: golden and crisp on the outside; vibrant green, tan and walnut-brown on the inside.  And the flavor!  The perfect edible mixture of woodsy, grassy, and airy. I wanted more!  

Given its ultra-light texture, I surmised that the omelet included silken tofu along with the firm. I’d already mastered pesto during the summer when my experimental home-grown basil flourished so remarkably; and while we didn’t have leeks in the fridge, we did have an abundance of onions, which served as a servicable replacement.

I created the omelet base by adapting the generic recipe in Joni Marie Newman’s  Cozy Inside, with several adjustments and additions.  I used home-made pesto, but you could just as well use store-bought.  The rest of it comes together in a flash. 

While the result wasn’t quite as fluffy as I’d hoped it would be, this did render a reasonable facsimile of the original.  Great for a brunch at home after a holiday feast, and an especially tasty way to economize and avoid those sky-high restaurant bills :) .

Given the cilantro-based pesto filling, I thought this would be a good submission to Weekend Herb Blogging, the event run by Haalo over at Cook (Almost) Anything Once, and this week hosted by Scott over at Real Epicurean.

Tofu Omelet with Pesto, Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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You can use any tofu-based omelet recipe you choose for this recipe.  While this one tastes great and the flavors are beautifully complemented by the filling, it is very fragile and breaks easily.  A more sturdy recipe is this one; or use a version of your own.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

 

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