Category

Food

in Food

Coffee on the brain

Monday mornings are tough.

Well, most mornings are tough.

There was a time in my life when I slept until noon and later everyday but one day you wake up and your body no longer lets you sleep past 7 on weekdays and oh wow, 8:30 on weekends and you’re like, well damn. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy not wasting an entire day like I did when I was younger, but it doesn’t mean I’ve suddenly become a morning person. Far from it, I might be physically awake, but I’m tired.

Enter coffee, magical sweet coffee.

I haven’t always been a coffee drinker, actually, I used to drink a lot more tea (with milk) or chai than I did coffee. But like I said, one day you’re suddenly awake at 7:00 am and earlier and that becomes the norm and you just, need it, want it, start to crave it? So, I’ve started to search for new coffee machines and new brands of coffee, and enter the Nespresso machine and Gourmesso coffee.

Gourmesso coffee, which I found at wwww.gourmesso.com , is an alternative to Nespresso brand coffee but is made to work with the Nespresso machine. It’s a better price point (about half the price), but moreover, it’s some GOOD coffee. First, it’s certified organic and it’s Fair trade. Second, the pods are made as sustainable as possible. Honestly, am I guilty of not being super green? Of course I am, most of us are. But, I recycle, and do as much as I can, and if I can buy fair trade, organic, and sustainable coffee over another brand, why wouldn’t I?

But, let’s actually get to the COFFEE. Gourmesso coffee smells amazing, it’s that in your face delicious coffee smell. If it doesn’t permeate your kitchen and your nose, is it really good coffee? So far, every type that I tried had that nice coffee smell from a teensy pod. Gourmesso also tastes awesome, I tried a few different kinds, which is is easy because, you don’t have to brew a pot of coffee with single serve coffee pods. I love love love that. Each had that fantastic aroma and wasn’t bitter which is a huge issue with me. I’m trying to learn to drink coffee black, but I find so much of it bitter that I have to add almond milk and/or sugar.

I’m also super into using Gourmesso pods for future brunch parties (and making my crab quiche to go with it). I’m all about making things LOOK fancy while actually not spending tons of time in the kitchen, and presenting an array of gourmet little coffee pods to my guests does the trick. Gourmet coffee capsules mixed with tricks I find on The Kitchn , which is a favorite for fancy looking recipes / party ideas that only look fancy, and I’m all set.

I’ve gone off on so many tangents in the post, but I guess it all leads back to coffee, and staying awake. I’ve been drinking Gourmesso for a couples weeks now and it helps. Not just because it’s coffee, good coffee, sustainable, green, fair trade, organic coffee, which makes me feel better about life. I feel like it’s the entire morning process of picking a fancy looking coffee pod out and having some before I start my day. Maybe this morning person thing isn’t so bad?

in Food

Vegan Chocolate Maple Caramel Pecan Bars

For thanksgiving this year, I went the vegan route for both of my desserts and holy cow, I don’t think I’m going back to non-vegan desserts anytime soon. I always thought I wasn’t that great of a baker, but maybe I was just baking with the wrong ingredients. I cut these bars into pretty small chunks because they are super sweet / heavy, but totally worth all of the calories. If you love your friends / family, or want them to love you, or maybe at least tolerate you, make these for your upcoming holiday parties.

Vegan Chocolate Maple Caramel Pecan Bars

From Post Punk Kitchen (with slight adaptations): http://www.theppk.com/2011/08/maple-pecan-pie/

For the crust
1 cup Earth Balance, softened (I used the buttery sticks)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat the butter, brown sugar, flour and salt with an electric mixer, starting on low speed and increasing to medium. Once the mixture turns into coarse crumbs (and turns a light brown color from the brown sugar), press it evenly into the bottom of an 8 x 8 greased pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, let cool for about 10 minutes.

For the filling
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup earth balance
6 oz extra firm silken tofu
1/4 cup cold unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups pecan halves
chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

  1. In a sauce pan, mix together sugars and maple syrup. Heat over medium heat, stirring often with a whisk. Once small bubbles start rapidly forming, stir pretty constantly for about 10 minutes. (During this time I started the next step below) I found that the mixture should be bubbling for the 10 minutes, but not too crazily, once it’s thick, it’s done. Add the earth balance, and stir to melt. Turn the heat off, transfer mixture to a mixing bowl.
  2. In a blender, add the tofu, almond milk, cornstarch, salt, and vanilla. Puree until completely smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender.
  3. With the caramel still warm in the mixing bowl, add in the tofu mixture and the vanilla, and mix well. Fold in the pecans to incorporate.
  4. Pour the filling into the crust and stud with your chocolate chips.
  5. Bake 35-40 minutes

Once cool, I transferred the pan to the fridge for a bit to get the bars hard enough so that I could cut them. Of course, they’re pretty delicious warm too, albeit a bit messy!

 

in Food

Corn Pudding Muffins

Corn Pudding Muffins

I love side dishes. It might have something to do with not eating meat, but even when I did, I always felt like the protein was just a vehicle for its sauce or the accompaniment it came with. Eating steak? The best part is the mashed potatoes or creamed spinach. Wings? It’s definitely the sauce and blue cheese, and usually, the beer. So, for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas (and friendsgiving and friendsmas…) I’m usually looking forward to the delicious, so-not-good-for-you creamy and cheesy side dishes. One of my favorites has always been corn pudding. For my version, I mix whole corn, pureed corn and cream corn with pepper jack cheese to make individual sized corn puddings that are creamy, cheesy and perfect for the holidays.

Corn Pudding Muffins

Makes 18-20 muffins

Ingredients

  • 24 ounces Frozen Corn, Thawed
  • 14 3/4ounces Can of Sweet Corn Cream Style
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Red Pepper Finely Diced (about one small pepper)
  • 6-8 ounces Pepper Jack Cheese Grated
  • 3 tablespoons Flour (or 3 tablespoons cornmeal for a gluten-free version)
  • 5 large Eggs
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper (or a couple good twists of a grinder)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to a pan on medium high heat. Add the finely diced red pepper, saute till lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add up to a tablespoon oil as needed.
  2. Add one cup of thawed corn to a large bowl. Puree the remaining corn and transfer to the same bowl. Mix in the can of sweet corn, the sauteed red pepper, 1/2 of the cheese, the flour and the salt and pepper.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and cream. Add to the first bowl of ingredients and mix till well combined.
  4. Spray muffin tins with olive oil spray* and fill with corn mixture. Sprinkle tops with remaining cheese and place in preheated oven. Be sure to place a cookie sheet under your muffin tins in case the mixture bubbles over. Bake until golden brown about 45 minutes. Cool 15 minutes and serve.

*You can also add a little melted butter to each muffin tin instead of the olive oil spray

Close