Tag Archives: nuts

cracked is a little whack…

7 Feb

Hello there!

I hope January was fruitful for everyone. Can you believe it’s February ALREADY?! 2010 is shaping up to fly by fast.

Other than being busy, not much has changed over here… my pistachio kick is still holding strong. I just can’t get enough of their complex aroma, flavor, color… nom. I have been eating a little too much pistachio pudding and looking for other ways to incorporate them.

Funnily enough, I heard about the big PR campaign to revamp pistachios after the samonella scare last year… and they have some questionable people at the helm of that campaign.

Hmm…

So what is this supposed to say about pistachio eaters? We’re dumb and low-brow?

Thankfully for the pistachios they sell themselves, so these silly ads shouldn’t slow them down. And some pistachio cake doesn’t hurt any, either.

I’m on this simple cake kick lately- no layers or elaborate toppings, just good old cake with a flavorful accent. This cake is dense, moist and rich and the aroma… ah! I know some people think that dark chocolate is reserved for pre-holiday baking, but to heck with them! While this would certainly make a delicious holiday cake, I’ll eat some dark chocolate anytime!

Pistachio Cake with Chocolate Sauce

1 cup ground pistachios
1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 teas. baking powder
1/4 teas. salt
1- 8 oz. container soy cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/3 cups milk of choice (I used almond)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teas. vanilla

1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate
3 tbsp. milk of choice
1 tbsp. margarine

pistachios for garnish

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a 8 or 9 inch cake pan by greasing and flouring and/or lining the bottom with parchment.

In a small bowl combine ground pistachios, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese and some of the milk using electric beaters. Incorporate the remaining milk in batches. Add oil and vanilla.

Combine dry ingredients with the wet ingredients in batches until batter is just mixed. Spread into pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with just some little crumbs clinging to it.

To prepare the sauce, combine dark chocolate, milk and margarine in a double boiler and melt until smooth. Serve cake with warm chocolate sauce drizzled on and some pistachio garnish.

nom nom nom...

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happy new year!

1 Jan

Happy New Year!

Did you celebrate the New Year in any special way? Dinner, family, friends? Jim and I were feeling a little under the weather (sadly a New Year’s tradition with one of us, usually) so we laid low and watch reruns of Seinfeld on my laptop. So exciting. 🙂

As cliched as it is, it’s resolution time. Even when you aren’t into resolutions it’s hard not to feel inclined towards the idea of a fresh start. We all have things we’d like to try/do/improve upon and the beginning of a new year (and decade!) seems like a perfect time to reassess and take stock. So here goes:

Beautiful tattoo work by Ximena Quiroz of Skeleton Key Tattoo in Portland

1. 2010 will be the year I truly dedicate to my yoga practice. Some of you may know that I have been a serious budding yogi for some years now, but developing a true home practice and branching into the study of yoga history and theory has been lopsided at best. It has come in fits and spurts and always ends up falling back into asana sandwiched in between the other random things I let get in the way. This year I’m committing to a true, robust practice, integrating yoga into my daily life.

2. Potty-mouth begone!
It may come as a surprise, but I am the owner of a serious potty-mouth. I can even make Jim shake his head and he works at a car dealership. My goal is to tone down the cussin’ to well-placed expletives that accentuate what I’m saying rather than make me look like I have a limited capacity to express myself.

3. I’m going to start working on another cookbook. A full-on, real meals and the whole she-bang cookbook, not just desserts. I do have a focus, but I’d rather not say anything right now. Things are still in the early stages and with this, yoga and my day job, I’m going to be busy and probably very absent from the blog-o-sphere. I will probably turn into one of those twice-a-month bloggers for some time. But I will definitely keep you guys up on the progress, as well as put a shout-out when I’m looking for some testing assistance.

And now, for some food. When I was a kid, I ate a lot of Jell-o products. While it grosses me out to think of eating it now, I have very fond memories. My grandfather would make cherry Jell-o with cans of fruit cocktail suspended in them and boxes of Jell-o pudding and my great-grandma was the queen of fancy multi-layered Jell-o molds.

Recently I was overtaken by a craving for pistachio pudding. I’ve recently become a pistachio eating fool, but this memory of eating a creamy, pistachio flavored food seemed confusing to me. Did my grandpa make pistachio pudding? Does pistachio pudding even exist? It sounded weird. Sure enough, a cruise down the pudding aisle revealed the pistachio pudding does exist and the quest for a homemade version began.

A quick survey of the internet showed that not many folks have bothered to make such a thing at home. Most recipes were cringe-inducing dishes involving packages of pistachio pudding and buckets of Cool-Whip. Blorch. I was on my own.

I almost cried when I tasted it, so creamy and delicious, it was like being punched in the face by nostalgia, but even better than I remembered.

Pistachio Pudding

1/2 cup shelled pistachios, finely ground (I used a coffee grinder that we use exclusively for nuts and seeds and it worked great)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp. corn starch
2 cups milk of choice (I used soy for the fat content)
1/4 teas. vanilla

Grind up pistachios and best as possible. You could also try a blender, but I did mine in batches in a coffee grinder. In a saucepan, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch until well blended. Add the ground pistachios and mix. Slowly whisk in milk. Cook pudding on medium/high heat, whisking often, until it comes to a light bowl. Whisking constantly, let lightly boil for about 2 minutes. Lower heat and continue to whisk constantly for 5-8 more minutes, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. If you’re having problems with the pistachios clumping up a bit, you can always blend a little with a handmixer. Remove from heat and add vanilla, mixing well. Transfer to heat resistant bowls. Let cool completely before eating.

Makes four 1/2 cup servings.

nutty, seedy goodness

8 Nov

100_4920

I was recently turned onto these bars by a friend and I am forever grateful. I have been looking some sort of granola bar I could make at home that would be firm enough to hold up on it’s own, but not hard and didn’t require too much sweetener. These use a ton of of nuts and seeds, which we usually have an abundance of, so this recipe is a cinch to throw together. These bars, using agave, win on all accounts. They are nutty, chewy, and crunchy and make a great high protein snack that can easily subdue any candy/baked good craving you might be having. I’ve been making double batches of this recipe and Jim and I gobble them up throughout the week.

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Oat/nut/seed mixture after toasting. We aren’t coconut fans, so I left it out and used some slivered almonds instead. I also add a little dusting of cinnamon.

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Pressed down into the pan after combining with PB/agave mixture. These are so good- make them now!

fruits and little labor

2 Jul

The Foodie Fights results are not up yet, but I will update when they come in.

Jim and I are working on a bunch of stuff for the cooking show. We’ve got some exciting plans up our sleeves, so expect a new episode in a few days and some surprises this summer.

Well, summer is truly here. It’s supposed to hit 95 today and I’ve got produce coming out of my ears! Between the farmer’s market, stores and friends, I can barely keep up with the bounties of summer. If you’ve managed to avoid eating well and getting in shape before summer rolled out, there is no time like the present. Plus, it couldn’t be easier when the weather is great and fresh food is abundant.

My lovely friend, Sandy, gave us some goodies from her garden, including these beautiful flowers.

flowers

With some fresh lettuce from her garden and berries from the farmer’s market, we made an awesome salad including walnuts, chickpeas, mandarin oranges and a raspberry vinagrette.

raspbsalad

Sandy also gave us some basil and arugula, which I turned into a yummy pesto.

pesto

I cooked up some tricolored shell pasta and sauteed some veggies- asparagus, zucchini (leftover from the challenge), bell pepper, Walla Walla onion, garlic and chickpeas. Yummy…

pesto skillet

Tossed together with the pasta and pesto, this made a wonderful dinner after a long workout. Plus, leftovers never hurt. I also had some leftover raw crackers from Blossoming Lotus, which topped off our dishes perfectly.

pestopasta

Paired with our new nightly ritual- a Vita-Mix smoothie. This one was kind of sickly colorwise, but tasted great. It included a whole apple (including the core), strawberries, kale, spinach, Very Green powder, raspberries and almond milk. Yum! I’m really loving having Edgar around. We’ve gotten into the habit of having smaller dinners and giant smoothies- perfect for warm summer nights. Or post-workout I throw in a big scoop of hemp protien powder and call it good. All hail the Vita-Mix!

pestowithsmoothie

I’m on a new nut kick with pistachios. So underutilized are these delicious nuts! They cannot simply be confined to holiday nut bowls. They are so fragrant and beautiful. I am working on a bundt recipe some ground up pistacios in it. I tossed in some fresh raspberries for good measure.

pistaciobundt

It was pretty darn good, but still needs some tweaking.

pistachioslice

Have a Happy 4th and I’ll be back with episode three of the cooking show early next week!