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Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

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I’ve been making these for the past few months or so whenever I get a craving for something sweet but don’t want to whip out the sugar, flour and measuring spoons. I’ll usually make a batch every other week, then store them in tupperware and keep them in the fridge to have as dessert all week. They’re THE easiest things to make, and you only need three or four ingredients. Start to finish, they take about an hour to make. DO IT.

What You Need:

  • Half a bag of semi sweet chocolate chips (non dairy)
  • jar of almond butter on hand (unsalted)
  • sea salt
  • sliced almonds (optional)
  • 12 mini cupcake liners

What You Do:

  • Line 12 cupcake tins with mini cupcake liners
  • Using a double broiler, melt half a bag of chocolate chips over low heat, stirring frequently to make sure the chocolate doesn’t burn
  • Once melted, spoon in a dollop of chocolate into each cupcake liner
  • Shake the cupcake tray so that the chocolate spreads, covering the bottom of each cupcake liner
  • Next – spoon out around half a teaspoon of almond butter into each cupcake liner
  • Top each cup with more melted chocolate, covering the almond butter
  • Give the tray a few good shakes, letting the chocolate and AB even out in the cup
  • Finally, top with a dash of sea salt and sliced almonds (optional)
  • Place the tray in the fridge, wait about an hour for them to harden and then dig in!

You can also make these with peanut butter for a more “Reese’s Pieces” feel, but I prefer the AB myself :)

Vegan Taco Salad

This is another one I can’t take credit for. I know he won’t like me calling him out like this on ye ole’ blog (sowwy), but Brian thought this one up, and surprisingly (!) was okay with replacing real meat with meatless crumbles. The result was a really, really ridiculously good looking taco salad that tasted just as good. Not gonna lie – best part was the Fritos. WHO DOESN’T LIKE FRITOS?!?

What You Need:

1 package of meatless crumbles (I used Trader Joes’ version. )

1 package taco seasoning (or make your own!)

3/4 can black beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups romaine lettuce

1 cup cherry tomatoes – halved

1 cup Fritos (or, again, Trader Joe’s version.)

1/2 avocado, cubed

What You Do:

First part is preparing the “meat” + bean concoction. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add one tbsp of olive oil to the pan. Let heat for a few minutes and add in the entire package of crumbles. Using a spatula, break the crumbles up, stirring and letting heat through. Add in the taco seasoning and sautee everything, mixing often – about five minutes. Add in the beans, continue stirring, and add more seasoning if necessary. At this point, add in another tbps of olive oil and continue sauteeing for one more minute.

In a separate bowl, combine the lettuce, tomatoes, Fritos and avocado. Remove the beans and crumbles from the heat, and add them to the remaining ingredients. Stir well and dig in!

Other add-ins that would work in here:

  • Chopped red onion
  • Black olives
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (vegan or non)
  • Sour cream (vegan or non)

Any other ideas!?

Miso Soup with Soba Noodles and Tofu

But not just ANY miso soup. HOMEMADE. As in “I bought Miso paste and didn’t know what to do with it so I added some boiling water to it, and who knew? That’s all you need to create Miso Soup.” So, YEAH, miso soup! To the broth, I added buckwheat soba noodles, tofu, spinach, scallions and red pepper flakes. The result was restaurant quality if not better. No lie.

I can’t wait to make this again. Next time I’m thinking of adding shitaake mushrooms, perhaps even some kombucha squash? The base is great alone, but you can pretty much add any combination of vegetables into this and it’ll come out great.

Another thing to note is that the intensity of the miso soup can be adjusted to your taste/liking. Miso pastes are NOT all created equal, and the saltiness of them varies. I added about 3.5 tablespoons of miso paste into my boiling water, but definitely feel free to add more or less miso paste as you go.

Okay! Onto the recipe:

What You Need – Makes 3 servings

2-4 tablespoons of miso paste

4 cups water

3 ounces soba noodles

2 scallions, sliced thinly

handful of spinach

2 handfuls of firm/extra firm tofu – cubed

few shakes of red pepper flakes

What You Do:

Cook the soba noodles according to package instructions. Rinse with cold water, and set aside.

Next – bring the 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium sized sauce pan. Lower the heat and let the water simmer. Add one tablespoon of miso paste into the pot, and using a fork, mix the paste well in the water, making sure all the clumps are completely dissolved. Add in a second and third tablespoon of paste, dissolving between each addition to the water. Taste. Decide on whether or not you want to add in more miso paste. I ended up adding in a bit more and it was perfect.

Place the spinach, tofu and scallions into bowls (2 or 3), and pour the miso soup over everything. Add the red pepper flakes to taste, and you’re done! Sit back, relax, sip on your soup, and revel in this accomplishment.

Note: do not judge me on the quality of these photos. My regular camera battery died, so you’re looking at iPhone shots. Sowwy!

Homemade Banana Bread Larabars

YES. You read correct. THIS HAPPENED.

Larabars are one of my favorite things in the world. It’s snack food that’s healthy (no added sugar, salt, or anything that you can’t pronounce) and DELICIOUS. For a while I went through a serious Larabar phase – picking one up every evening after work, eating half of one, and then saving the other half for post yoga/run/wherever I was going. The only (tiny) problem with this obsession is that it’s expensive! While $2 a bar doesn’t sound like much, it definitely adds up, especially when you consider that they’re only made from a handful of ingredients. Enter “Do It Yourself” Stephanie.

My favorite bar is the Banana Bread flavor. This one consists of only three things: almonds, bananas, dates. Lucky for me, I had all of these on hand, so I gave it a whirl. The results were AWESOME. They tasted as good if not better than the original.  I plan on making way more of these, AND in  other flavors too (blueberry muffin? coconut? peanut butter and jelly?!)

What You Need – Makes Two Bars:

1/4 cup dried banana

1/3 cup raw almonds

1/4 cup chopped dates

Food processor

What You Do:

First, you have to dry out your bananas. Pick a small banana that’s over ripe (the more brown spots the better), slice it, lay the slices on a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place in the oven at 175 degrees for about 2.5 hours.

In the  meantime get your almonds ready. Process them in a food processor until well blended, but NOT a powder. You definitely want pieces! Remove from the food processor. When the ‘naners are done (see pic below), add them into the FP with the dates and process. This will take a while, but keep at it. Everything will come together into a thick paste.

Remove this mixture from the FP, and mix by hand with the almond crumbs in a small bowl. Mix everything really well, until it’s all sticking together easily.

This is when it gets (sort of, but not really), tricky. Lay a piece of saran wrap out on the counter and place the blob that you finished mixing, in the center. Fold over the saran wrap. You can use a rolling-pin, but I used my hands to flatten the date/almond/banana mush and eventually formed it into one long Larabar. It took a bit of prodding and sculpting, but I did it! I sliced it into two pieces and voila! Store these in saran wrap and enjoy them as snacks, pre work out, dessert, WHATEVER.


Macro Plate + Miso/Tahini Dressing

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I have had, roughly estimating, around 150 million variations of tahini dressings. Whenever I go out to eat at a Veg restaurant, my standard order is some version of a macro plate (steamed veggies, brown rice, beans) and some version of a tahini dressing to smother it in. I think the reason I keep on ordering it when I’m out, is that I haven’t been able to master the tahini dressing on my own at home. The steamed veggies? Easy. Putting together the plate isn’t hard, I just never knew how to make the dressing. WELL. That is in the past, friends, because today I did it. I created my very own, original and totally authentic, tahini dressing.

First I put together my veggies, beans and grain: 1/4 of a steamed acorn squash,  3/4 cup of chickpeas, two huge handfuls of steamed kale and about a cup of cooked brown rice. I then drizzled the dressing (recipe below) all over it, and voila — a home made macro plate!

What You Need:

  • 3/4 cup of tahini
  • 1 tbsp white miso*
  • 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp dill
  • 1/2 cup water

What You Do:

Place everything into a food processor and blend until well combined (about 10 seconds.)  The above made about 3-4 servings, so I stored it in an old small glass jar and popped it in the fridge for later (see: tomorrow) use.

*This was my first time ever cooking with miso paste. It took me a while to find it — I kept looking in the Asian aisles at my local grocery stores. WRONG! It’s kept in the refrigerated section, and this time, I found it at Whole Foods. I’m sure you could find it at any asian grocery store too.

New Year’s Eve and a Cookbook Review

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Ahhh, New Year’s Eve. Parties, glittery nails, sparkly dresses, glasses of champagne….basically, not at all what my NYE looked like. Mine was more along the lines of staying in, cooking a massive feast, drinking wine, and getting into bed by 12:45. Jelly? You should be.

Instead of going out this year, we decided to stay in and do what we never ever do – spend too much money at Whole Foods, and too much time in the kitchen prepping and cooking a totally decadent meal. We hadn’t really decided on what to make, when I got an Amazon package yesterday from my mom with a new cookbook in it, Plenty. PERFECT timing, Mom! The book is INCREDIBLE, and I’ll get into more details later, but all there is to know now is that it’s filled with amazing vegetarian recipes that are both simple yet unbelievably tasty. We picked three recipes from the book, then set off to Whole Foods to stock up on supplies.

It took us about three hours to prepare and eat (inhale) everything but it was so, so worth it. Our menu consisted of:

– Fig, goat cheese and arugula salad

– Marinated bufala mozzarella and sliced tomatoes (photo below)

– Stuffed portobello mushrooms (with melted tallegio cheese, parmesan and sun-dried tomatoes. Photo below)

– A MASSIVE cajun rubbed steak (for Brian, obv.)

– Hazelnut S’Mores for dessert (photo below)

We also finaaaally opened a bottle of wine we picked up during our trip to Italy. It was delicious.

Now. Back to the cookbook. THE COOKBOOK. It was as if this book was MADE for me. It revolves entirely around vegetables, with a touch of dairy thrown in here and there. The book is split into chapters by family of vegetable – mushrooms, root veggies, beans, peppers, squashes, etc.  The photos are beautiful, instructions easy and (my favorite part) the recipes aren’t complicated. They each contain ingredients you have in your kitchen (garlic, salt, onion, oil, pepper), and all focus on the taste of the vegetable itself versus hiding it behind complicated sauces and spices. I can’t recommend it enough. GET IT!

Happy New Year!

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To a year of happiness, health and GOOD FOOD. YAY 2012!