Dark Chocolate Raspberry Granola

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I hate pedestrian crosswalks.

Not the ones you can cross by your own free will, but those that require you to press a button.

I just…can’t.

When I look at it, I see the man who didn’t wash his hands, the child who just wiped their nose, or the woman who picked up after her dog.

I see a germ here,

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here,

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and here.

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And then exponentially increased because we all know there’s an epidemic of gross going on down there.

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So I adapt.

I cover my hand with my shirtsleeve. Sometimes I use my purse. I’ve even used my hip to press that damn button.

And yet.

If I’m at party, and there are communal snacks, I’m ok with it.

Hands diving into a bag of chips? No big.

Only want half of that cookie? That’s cool, break it in half and we’ll share.

Grab a handful of granola? Just make sure you have it with some coconut yogurt too.

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Just don’t ask me to hit the crosswalk button on our walk home.

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Dark Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake

Work has been strange.

Last month my boss announced that he was moving the lab to California.  What resulted can only be described as a workplace full of whispers.  Murmurs of who will be going, will there be raises, and the phrase, “did you hear…” repeated over and over again.

I’m kind of over it.

Not one that likes to bring home their workday, I often turn to the kitchen to let out any stress that may remain.

Did your colleague take the last of your solution and not replace it?  Knead some dough.  Picture it’s his face.  Much better.

Did a granny that smelled like moth balls hiss at you on the bus, because you were applying a “smelly lotion?” Don’t say you’d do the world a favor by calling her kids to tell them to pull the plug in a few months.  Instead, segment some citrus.

Did you lose one of your favorite technicians because they’re being transferred? Make them a cake.  Or two, because if it’s going to be a dark chocolate stout bundt, surely you’d want one for yourself.

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Banana Bread with Bittersweet Chocolate and Candied Ginger

I have this fear.  A completely irrational fear that only an obsessive planner, type A, control freak like myself could only come up with.

I’m afraid that I’m going to be a “Crunchy Mom.”

To me, a “Crunchy Mom” is basically one who strives to have their family live clean (like chemical free), healthy lives.

And what’s wrong with this?

Well, two things, 1) I’m not married and 2) I’m not pregnant.

I should have no concerns about this whatsoever.  (I told you, it’s completely irrational.)

But after watching this You Tube spoof on Shit Girls Say (if you haven’t seen the original yet, where have you been!?), I couldn’t help but relate to what those women were saying.

For instance, I saw Business of Being Born.  Again, I’m not even pregnant.  I don’t know why the film called out to me from our Netflix queue, but it did, and I watched it.

And I liked it.

I found it super informative, even though I’m slightly traumatized from watching Ricki Lake give birth on film.  Gone are the memories of Ricki prancing around on set in her oversized blazers during the opening credits.  Instead, vagina.

I also rationalize a $20 maple syrup purchase from Whole Foods. (Because it’s Grade B.  Of course.)

I love coconut oil and I have asked Roo if my shirt “shows my back fat.” The two may be related.

And while I don’t hush Roo so that I can focus on “my kegels,” (No.) a lot of this looks scarily foreseeable.

When I explained all of this to Roo (because he made the mistake of asking me, “what’s on your mind, Babe?”), he knew what to do.

He listened, “I mean, am I going to have a ‘Chicken Pox Party?’ My mom took me to one of those when I was a kid, and we all know how I’m going to turn into my mother.”

He smiled, “And I love full fat stuff. LOVE.”

He sat me down, “I’m just so….I don’t know. Everyone is having babies!  My Facebook newsfeed is basically telling me to have babies.”

And put this in front of me.

*I feel totally better.

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Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Before you get mad at me for posting a cookie recipe less than two weeks after New Year’s…

Did you really picture 2012 without cookies?

I didn’t.

With the cold weather, sunset by 4, and lack of insulated windows in our apartment, I’m baking cookies.

These chewy, chocolate chip cookies.

Any excuse to turn the oven on really.

But! They have half the oil and aren’t tooth-achingly sweet.

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Chewy Peanut Butter (Banana) and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes you just need to bake yourself a batch of cookies.

Come back from grocery shopping to discover that what you thought were “full” boxes in the pantry are actually empty because your boyfriend thought it was a good idea to leave you a tablespoon of whatever in each box?  So time for baking cookies.

Last K-cup was used yesterday but you had no idea till 5:30 this morning?  Drag out your mixing bowls.

Cats claw open the ziploc bag of rosemary syrup on the counter? Handful of chocolate chips for you, and then your batter.

Eat half a jar of Speculoos Cookie Butter last night?  Throw the cookie batter into the fridge to chill and get back to that jar.  There’s still half left!

I love that these cookies are absolutely peanut buttery and loaded with chocolate chips.  But what puts my mind at ease is that they actually have less fat and sugar than your average peanut butter chocolate chip cookie; all without compromising on taste.

Half of the butter is swapped out with banana, maintaining that chewy cookie texture but with a subtle boost in flavor.  The banana is very mild, but when great men like Elvis loved the peanut butter and banana combination, how could one go wrong with it in a cookie?

These cookies are both delicious raw (you may make more than 40 cookies if you have more self control than I did when scooping out the dough) and baked.  And for someone thinking about embracing a plant based diet for their New Year, this is probably the easiest way to start!

Make these cookies for your co-workers, your loved ones, or for the most important person of all, yourself.

Makes About 40 Cookies

Note: The batter needs to be chilled for at least a half an hour so please plan ahead when making them!

Ingredients

Three quarters of a cup of creamy peanut butter (I used natural, well stirred, and it turned out fine)

Quarter cup of mashed banana (one small banana was enough for me)

Quarter cup of butter (like Earth Balance)

One cup of sugar (this yields a not too sweet cookie)

Half teaspoon of vanilla extract

Three quarters of a cup of white whole wheat flour (if you only have all purpose, that will work)

Three quarters of a cup of all purpose flour

Half teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of baking powder

Three quarters of a teaspoon of fine sea salt

Half a cup of bittersweet chocolate chips (you can use semi-sweet chips, just note that it’ll be a sweeter cookie because of this)

2 – 4 tablespoons of soy milk (or your choice of non-dairy milk, sweetened is fine) as needed if the batter is too dry

Equipment

A stand mixer (or at least electric beaters, I don’t think this will work if mixed by hand.  Peanut butter is a fickle thing.)

A medium sized mixing bowl

A whisk

A spatula

A clean tablespoon (your fingers will suffice in making dough balls as well)

A cookie sheet (two to make baking go faster)

Parchment paper (optional), just makes clean up faster

Add the peanut butter, banana, butter, sugar and vanilla extract to your stand mixer bowl.  Beat the ingredients together till well combined.  Scrape down the bowl to ensure it’s fully incorporated before adding your dry ingredients (down the sides, to the bottom then back up top).

In your medium sized mixing bowl add the flour(s), baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Mix the ingredients with a whisk till well combined and there are no visible lumps.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet in increments.  Be sure to scrape down the side of the bowl, down to the bottom and back up with your spatula, to ensure that all the ingredients are combined.

The dough may be a bit dry (it was in my case).  Add a tablespoon of non-dairy milk at a time, as much as needed.

Add the chocolate chips and mix till just combined.

Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes (if you live in New England, you can take full advantage of your porch/garage during this cold weather and store it there without losing crucial fridge space).

Place your oven racks to the upper middle and lower middle positions in your oven.  Preheat your oven to 350F.

With a clean tablespoon (or your fingers, whatever), scoop out the dough and place onto your (lined) cookie sheet, about one cookie’s width apart.  (On my cookie sheet, I was able to place 20 cookie dough balls on it.)

Bake your cookies for about 12 – 15 minutes.  They will look soft when they come out, but if you check their bottoms, you’ll notice that they will be browned.  Don’t over bake them.  They will not spread out like crispy cookies and look a lot like the dough balls that you placed in the oven.

Allow the cookies to cool on the sheet for at least a minute before moving (so you can rinse the sheet off with cold water for reuse)/devouring them.

Hot Chocolate

Seriously, how horrible is it when you text/tweet/email and you realize you absolutely regret what you just wrote.

I, for one, am a completely delusional person, and always in the mindset thinking that I’m hilarious; especially when impulsively tweeting from my iPhone.  Unfortunately, I am brought back to reality when after a second read, I realize that I’m either:

1) creepy

2) approaching stalker-status

3) confusing

4) not hilarious.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

No one wants to discuss geriatric shoe inserts.  Why would I admit this?  So.not.funny.

Oh. My. God. Why did I reply my first thought of botched conception and then crying about it over a movie?  FAIL.

I’m not even a mom.  Why did I suggest that?  And why am I obsessed with all things related to feet?  Socks?  Really?!

Overshare.  The end.

This is just the beginning of my starting to reply to/tweet randomly @sassyradish.  ie looking like a stalker.  In my defense, this youtube clip is hilarious.  Yeah, not much of a defense.

To give you some background, @sassyradish tweeted randomly one day how she switched gyms to Equinox.  I of course, remembered this (because I’m a stalker, remember?) and mentioned it in my reply.  I think she’s now scared for her life.

This, well, this I think is a matter of things getting misinterpreted in tweet-speak (I hate that I’m making that a word).  I meant it to be funny, but I think she took it personally.  Note to self, always use a smiley face because when I think I’m being hilarious, I’m not.  People just think I’m being mean, crazy, <insert deranged-person-characteristic here>.

None of these tweets got back replies, and you obviously know why.  Seriously, would you reply back?  I’m surprised I haven’t been blocked yet.

But with this oversharing, you will understand why sometimes I need to curl up with a mug of warm, rich, hot chocolate.  The shame of my impulsiveness in Twitter-land is just too much for one to handle, and the comfort of liquid chocolate is a necessity.

While you may lead a normal social media life, I hope that with it being the first week of November, you can take a step back from the strong coffees and teas, to indulge in something special.

Adapted from Melissa Clark’s In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite

Serves 2

Ingredients

One third of a cup of water

2 tablespoons of cocoa powder

Half cup of light coconut milk

1 cup of unsweetened almond milk

Quarter cup of turbinado sugar (or you can use brown sugar, I just didn’t have any in my cupboard)

Quarter cup of chocolate, chopped

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Equipment

2 small saucepans

A whisk

A sharp knife

Add the water to a small saucepan and place on a burner over medium heat.  Bring the water to a boil.  Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a second saucepan, add the coconut milk, almond milk and turbinado sugar.  Place the pan on a burner over medium heat.  Whisk until the sugar has dissolved, about two to three minutes.  Add the cocoa powder mixture and chopped chocolate.  Stir till smooth.  Add the vanilla extract.

Serve, but maybe wait a minute till drinking so you don’t burn your tongue! …like I did.

Cookie Dough Balls

I’ve been holding out on you.

I’ve been hoarding this recipe all to myself because it’s just too good.

Every Friday for a couple weeks now, it’s been a bit of a ritual.  I click on the Pandora app on my iPod (lately it’s been the City and Color playlist), and just start throwing ingredients into the food processor.  Coupled with banana soft serve (no really, it’s fantastic), it’s truly a great way to start the weekend.

I love that I can eat it without the worry of possible salmonella contamination, without the guilt of it being full of processed sugar, and that it actually tastes wholesome.  Yes, a cookie dough ball can taste wholesome.

How is this possible?

They’re…vegan.

Yes, I probably felt the same thing you are right now when I learned that they were vegan.  But you know what?  They’re good.  They’re really good.  And dare I quote Roo saying, “If these are vegan, I’ll gladly eat more vegan things.”

Really.

And they’re super easy to make!  It’s a one dish recipe, and you can make your own soft serve in the same food processor after.

A hint of salt, a creamy texture from the cashews, and plenty of dark chocolate, these cookie dough balls make me eager for Friday.  Or now.  I think I might dig into the back of my freezer and have them now.

Recipe adapted from, just a little bit, Oh She Glows

Ingredients

Half a cup of unsalted cashews (I’ve used both raw and roasted seeing no difference)

Quarter cup of old fashioned oats

Quarter cup of whole wheat flour

Quarter teaspoon of sea salt (I use Diamond)

1 tablespoon of cane sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

3 tablespoons of maple syrup

Three squares of good dark chocolate broken up with your fingers (or a quarter cup of chips)

Equipment

A food processor

A spatula

Something to store the cookie dough balls in like a piece of aluminum foil, or a ziploc bag

Add the cashews and oats to the food process and pulse until it forms almost a crumbly consistency (almost flour like).  Then add the salt, sugar and flour.  Pulse a few times until combined.  Add the vanilla extract and maple syrup and pulse until combined.  The “dough” is going to be very sticky, but this is completely normal.

Add the chocolate.

Pulse until they break up a bit and combine into the rest of the “dough.”

Remove the “dough” from the food processor with a spatula, and roll into balls.

Store them in the freezer until it’s time to eat with your soft serve.  Or, eat one, then store one, as I do.