Sunday, April 28, 2013

Chocolate Frosting

Frosting that's delicious and easy to make? Yes, please.

Basic Chocolate Frosting

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder (plain, unsweetened)
1/2 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread (no need to soften but make sure you use the kind in the tub)
3 Tbsp soy or almondmilk
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Using a handmixer, blend together the Earth Balance, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder.  When it's roughly mixed together, add the milk and vanilla.  Blend until smooth.

Note:  Putting this frosting into the fridge changes the texture a bit so I recommend making it the same day you plan to frost your cake.

P.S. When my mixer broke during the last test batch, I found out that you can mix this frosting in a pinch using a handblender.  It took a long time to get smooth though... 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Asparagus Two Ways

Asparagus with Walnut Oil Vinaigrette

So every year I wait very patiently for asparagus to come into season and then we cook it all the time.   Asparagus soup, fried asparagus, roasted asparagus, asparagus with eggs, steamed asparagus with vinaigrette...  My husband and I usually eat a full pound each when we make it for dinner. By the end of the season, I feel like I never want to see a spear of asparagus ever again.  But then inevitably, when February comes around again, I am dying to see the fresh stuff come into the grocery stores.

This year has been an epic failure.  I waited and waited but kept seeing the regular old low quality stuff from Mexico coming in week after week.  I kept thinking, "Wow, the season must be very late this year!"  Until a couple of weeks ago I finally e mailed my brother in California to find out if they were having asparagus season out there.  It turns out, it was already OVER.  But I will not let a spring go by without asparagus so I bought a whole bunch and got cooking.  I'm probably not going to get sick of it this year but, oh well, there is always next year!   

Here are two ways I like to dress 2 pounds of steamed asparagus. Both serve 4 regular people or 2 asparagus crazy adults.  

Walnut Oil Vinaigrette
adapted from Emeril

6 Tbsp walnut oil*
1/4 cup neutral tasting oil (such as canola, grapeseed, or light olive oil)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 Tbsp finely chopped shallot
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Optional garnishes: toasted walnuts, chopped fresh parsley.

Dump all the vinaigrette ingredients into a tupperware or glass jar with a tight fitting lid and shake.  Pour over asparagus and sprinkle with some more salt. That's pretty much it.

*Walnut oil is available at better grocery stores and at health food stores.  Refrigerate after opening.  

Mustard Mayo Sauce

1/4 cup Tbsp light or regular mayonnaise 
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Stir together all the ingredients.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over the asparagus.  

This sauce tastes too strong on its own but is perfect on asparagus.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Non-Dairy Snacking Simplified

Snacks are something I gave very little thought to before I became a mom. When I was hungry I just grabbed something to eat that sounded tasty.  But it goes to a whole new level when you have a little person who needs to eat 5 times a day and, if you're like me, you don't want to just serve carby crap all the time. I thought maybe I was weird that I had so much snack time stress.  But, after talking to other moms who have kids with food allergies, I found that lots of other people stress about this too.   I think sometimes we get too focused on what we can't eat, which prevents us from thinking of all of the things we can have.

A lot of the time I try to keep it simple and just offer a piece of fruit but sometimes I can sense that I'm going to get into a battle if I don't offer choices. Or sometimes I'm rushing out of the house and I don't really feel like carrying a ripe smelling banana in my purse. So I found that it really helped me to put a Post-It note on the fridge with a list of 10 or 12 things that my son could eat for snack time. That way I didn't really have to think about it ahead of time and if I needed any ideas, I could just consult the list.  I think the visual reminder is really helpful and it will take you about a minute to make your own sticky note right now!

Here is a list of suggestions, all of which take little or no preparation to serve. My child doesn't actually eat all of these things, some of them are ideas I got from other moms.  If you have any of your own, I'd love to hear them!
  1. cereal  
  2. mixed nuts or salted cashews 
  3. Trader Joe’s roasted seaweed snacks 
  4. peanut butter/almond butter 
  5. peas (We always have a bag in the freezer. I empty some into a bowl, add a little water and microwave for 1 minute) 
  6. raisins 
  7. freeze-dried fruit
  8. pretzels 
  9. larabars
  10. popcorn (We make air-popped but Whole Foods has dairy free microwave popcorn) 
  11. graham crackers 
  12. fruit snacks 
  13. fruit leather 
  14. almondmilk yogurt 
  15. Triscuits or Wheat Thins 
  16. hummus and pita 
  17. pumpkin or sunflower seeds 
  18. trailmix 
  19. baby carrots 
  20. lunchmeat roll up
  21. hardboiled eggs
  22. pickled beets from a jar (My son really loves these, I think they must be salty or something because he gobbles them up)  
  23. frozen blueberries (some kids don't even want them defrosted; they like gumming on them frozen)