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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hot Toddys for Two

Because I may or may not be dying of the bubonic plague...

I hate being sick.  Not that anyone actually enjoys being sick, but it kind of makes me angry.  And needy.  And whiny.  Is it too much to ask for someone to come over and make me tea and pet my hair???

Well, since I have to do everything for myself, I might as well do it up good.  As it turns out, my little sissy Mary is also feeling under the weather (we're like the same person!) so I offered to come to her house and whip up some hot toddys to cure all that ails us.  Because what could be better than whiskey and tea to make you feel better about yourself and life in general?

We made three variations of hot toddys, which traditionally are made with whiskey, honey, lemon, and tea.  I used agave nectar in place of the honey and I tried out two different flavors of tea.  Mary prefers vodka over whiskey, and requested apple cider, so we made more of a caramel apple toddy for her.  They were all fantastic (although we both still had to call in to work today, so I can confidently say that alcohol is not the cure for the common cold.  But it did make us feel better for a little while...)

Classic Toddy:
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1 1/2 oz whiskey (or brandy or rum)
1 cup hot water
1 tea bag- I used honey lemon ginseng green tea
Lemon wedge

To make:  Pour agave into the bottom of a coffee mug.  Add whiskey and hot water.  Steep the tea bag for 3-5 min.  Garnish with the lemon wedge.  Drink hot.

Chai Toddy:
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1 1/2 oz whiskey
1 cup hot water
1 tea bag- I used Tazo Pumpkin Spice Chai

To make: Same as above, minus the lemon.

Caramel Apple Toddy:
1 1/2 oz Smirnoff Caramel Apple vodka
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup water

To make: Pour all ingredients into a coffee mug.  Microwave on high for 2 min.  Garnish with a cinnamon stick, if you have one handy.

                                          Drink well and be well!  Cheers!!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Waffles with Banana Rum Sauce and Spiced Pecans

Because the banana recipe ideas just keep coming!  (Too bad I keep not winning the grand prize...)

Banana.  Pumpkin pie filling.  Pecans.  This is your mission, should you choose to accept it.

And I did, with much success.  Well, success in that they were unbelievably delicious, but not successful in actually bringing in any money.  So there's that.  Anyhow, I'm glad I put together this recipe.  These flavorful waffles would make a perfect brunch entree.  This recipe is a spin on the sweet potato waffles I made for a contest a year and a half ago.  I was tempted to use real rum in the banana sauce, but it was cheaper (and less boozy) to buy the extract.  The sauce was a little thick, but I liked it that way.  If you prefer a thinner sauce, whisk in more milk, one tablespoon at a time, until you're pleased with the consistency.

Not gonna lie, I'm feeling a little defeated by these damn contests.  Nonetheless, I will persevere!  I might just stay away from the banana contest for a bit.  Besides, I need to start planning my Thanksgiving menu soon!  And figure out how/when I'm going to cook, since I will potentially be working 18-19 hours the day before.  Oy vey.  

For the pecans:
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 Tbsp non-dairy butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne *Note- these were kind of spicy. I liked it, but use less cayenne if you're not so sure about the heat (start with 1/8 tsp and add more as you see fit).
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 cup pecan halves

For the waffles:
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 1/2 cup pumpkin pie filling
4 Tbsp soy milk
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar

For the sauce:
2 ripe bananas
4 Tbsp non-dairy butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp rum extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp soy milk

For the pecans:  Line an 8x8 cake pan with wax paper and set aside.  In a medium saucepan, combine sugars and butter and melt over medium-low heat.  Stir in spices and remove from heat.  Add pecans and stir to coat well.   Dump the pecans into the baking dish and refrigerate while you make the waffles.

For the waffles:  In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne, and stir to combine.  In a medium bowl, combine pumpkin pie filling, milk, oil, and sugar, and whisk to mix well.  Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients, and stir to mix well.  Heat your waffle iron according to it's instructions.  Cook bater until golden.  This will yield 8 rectangular waffles. (OK, so I actually got 9 out of it, but whatever.)

For the sauce:  Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Pour sauce into a small saucepan and heat on medium low, stirring constantly, until sauce is slightly bubbly and heated through.

Arrange waffles on plates, topping each with sauce and sprinkling with pecans.
Yield 8.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Vegan Alfredo Pizza with Caramelized Onion, Garlic, and Fennel

Because my timing sucks...

In my continued quest to get rich quick by entering and [in theory] winning online recipe contests, I came across a homemade pizza contest with a whopping reward.  The grand prize?  $10,000.  Wow.  I could get so many tattoos pay off so many bills with that kind of money!  So I set off daydreaming about the fanciest pizza I could imagine.  I figured making a rich, cheese-less pizza would be appealing and out-of-the-box enough to get the judges' attention.  I decided to use a modified version of my alfredo recipe from forever ago, and a slightly altered version of a pizza dough recipe that I've had for years.  However, actually executing this recipe proved more complicated than I had anticipated.

There simply isn't enough space in the kitchen at my house, so I set off for another sister's kitchen.  Unfortunately, she had neither whole wheat flour (which I had intended to use for the crust) nor a pizza stone (which I always, always use when making pizza).  Nonetheless, we moved forward, using all-purpose flour for the crust and rolling it out onto a rectangle cookie sheet.  The result?  Delicious, but not exactly what I had in mind.  I just kept thinking that I needed a round pizza, the pics I took turned out really yellow, and the crust was too fluffy.  I needed to try this again.

So, a few days later, I arrived at my parent's house to make a disaster of do some recipe testing in their kitchen.  I brought my whole wheat flour and a pizza stone, hoping that everything would come together flawlessly.  The result?  I didn't actually like the whole wheat crust very well.  The sauce and the veggies were perfect, but the crust still wasn't right.

Alas, I was running out of time to submit the recipe, for which the deadline was the following day.  I thought it over that night and the next morning and decided that when I submitted the recipe, I would recommend using 1 cup each whole wheat and all-purpose flour.  However, when I got home from work and clicked on the contest site, I was saddened to discover that I needed to have submitted my recipe by noon.  It was now 5:30 pm.  [Feel free to use your imagination to describe the expletives that directly followed.]  So, the moral of the story is, procrastination costs thousands of dollars.  But at least I got an exquisite pizza recipe out of the whole ordeal.  So there's that.

For the dough:
2 cups flour (I'll leave this up to you: all whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, or one cup of each)
1 package fast-rising yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground fennel
1 cup hot water
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp agave nectar (or honey)

For the sauce:
1 head roasted garlic*
3 Tbsp non-dairy butter
1 cup soy milk
12 oz firm silken tofu
1 Tbsp white cooking wine
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp thyme
1 Tbsp cornstarch

For the toppings:
1 1/2 Tbsp non-dairy butter
1 medium onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
8 large cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and chopped (about 2 cups), some of the fun, green sprigs reserved for decoration

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, yeast, salt, and fennel.  Stir well.  Stir in water, oil, and agave until all ingredients are well combined.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 15 min.
In a high powered blender or food processor, combine all sauce ingredients.  Blend until smooth.
In a large saute pan, heat butter over medium heat.  Add onion and cook for 8-10 min, until onions are soft and starting to brown.  Add garlic and fennel and continue to cook over medium, stirring occasionally, for 20 min, until all veggies are soft.
Press pizza dough out on a round pizza stone or sheet.  Spread with 3/4 the sauce (it's gonna look really saucy, but just trust me) and top with cooked veggies.  Bake for 15-20 min, until pizza crust is golden brown.
While pizza is cooking, heat the remaining sauce in a small saucepan until thickened.  Serve on the side for dipping or additional drizzling.  Top with reserved fennel sprigs for a little extra flare.

*To roast garlic: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Peel as much of the papery skin off the bulb as you can while keeping the bulb intact.    Slice off the tops of the bulbs so the cloves are just exposed.  Place garlic bulbs on a sheet of tin foil and drizzle with olive oil.  Wrap the bulbs in the foil and bake 45 minutes.