Chocolate Avocado Pudding (It tastes just like “real” pudding!)

Avocados for dessert? Yep. The proof is in the pudding.

I think much of my passion for good tasting healthy food comes from my Grannie. For most of my life, she’s been a real health nut. She and I can talk food and health all afternoon. We get excited sharing our latest nutritious food finds. When I was pregnant, she sent me a bar of dark chocolate, a baggie of walnuts, and a box of healthy cookies with instructions to eat a piece of chocolate, a walnut, and a cookie all in one bite for a not-too-bad for you treat that hits the spot. She knows my kind of perfect bite like no one else.

Rumor has it that she wasn’t always this way, though. There are tales from my mom and aunt of rich, sugar-filled, high calorie desserts after almost every meal. I suppose I could see this in Grannie.  She still gets giddy over a delicious dessert. She sent me this recipe (below) and I had to wonder if my Grannie and I are the only two women in our family who can get  this excited about pudding made from avocados, cocoa, and dates? She sold me on the recipe with this adorable email. This is why I love her so!

Hey Babe,

I’ve found a recipe for pudding that calls for no dairy, no milk, and no eggs! And it tastes really good! So, in case you’re hungry for pudding here’s the recipe….

A sprinkle of toasted almonds is nice, and half a maraschino cherry on the top makes it elegant — and how much damage can 1/2 a teeny, sugary cherry do?

I tried a small recipe first. It was yummy, so like Goldilocks visiting the Three Bear’s house, I tried a MUCH BIGGER bowl.

Much love,
Grannie

Isn’t she adorable? And don’t you want a bowl of chocolatey avocados now, too?

Sprinkled with shredded coconut and toasted almonds, it tasted like Almond Joys.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 avocados
1 c.  dates, soaked in water for an hour, then pitted and chopped
2 t. vanilla
3 T. cocoa (up to 5 T. if you like it more chocolatey)
1/2 c. – 1 c. non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
2 t. agave (optional)

Topping options: almonds & shredded coconut for Almond Joy Pudding. Crumbled Oreo cookies & gummy worms for kids Worms in Dirt dessert. Coconut whipped cream and maraschino cherries. Shortbread cookies and raspberries.

Directions

Soak dates for one hour.

In a small food processor bowl (or high power blender), combine avocados, pitted and chopped dates, vanilla and about 1/2 a cup of milk. Blend, adding more milk and scraping down the sides as needed. I did have to stop and scrape several times, but with some patience it eventually got very smooth. Add cocoa a tablespoon at a time until it’s as chocolatey as you like. Taste for sweetness and add agave (or your preferred sweetener) if desired.

Top with your choice of toppings. Serve immediately.

Note: I haven’t tried refrigerating this to store it since there have been no leftovers when I’ve made this yet! My mom has a great method for storing guacamole by putting leftovers in a plastic Ziplock style sandwich bag and pushing as much air out as possible. Since the recipe uses avocados, I think this might be the best way to store it.  Let me know if you make it and have enough leftover to store it!

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Chocolate Avocado Pudding
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-rB
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Stewed Summer Veggies

Stewed garden vegetables with white beans. Great for curling up with a good book and a blanket on a rainy day.

I’m packing up my suitcase (or three) for a tropical island vacation south of Tampa, but it looks like the most tropical thing about the trip may be Tropical Storm Debby. Our family that’s already there spent last night without water or power and hasn’t seen the sun in days. Much of the island is covered in water. Getting three suitcases, a diaper bag, groceries, and a one-year old onto the ferry (no cars on this island) and down the 1/4 mile rocky path to the condos without Jared, who will be joining us two days later, is going to be harder than I expected if this doesn’t clear up soon.

I had a menu in mind for the week, including lots of fresh, crisp fruits and veggies to cool us down as we came in from the hot sandy beach. But, this summer stew might be a better fit if it turns out to be a rainy vacation. Actually, curling up on the lanai (that’s a fancy word Floridians use for a screened in porch) with a good book and a bowl of these warm summer veggies, while the rain falls around me and and waves crash against the shell-lined beach, sounds like paradise to me.

Fresh potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and squash from our uncle’s garden were the base of this savory satisfying stew, finished off with white beans for a mild-flavored protein, and kale of course. No dish is complete without it! Smoked paprika, one of my favorite spices to add depth of flavor to beans and vegetables, makes it taste almost like it was cooked with a hunk of ham.

Rain or shine, cool salads or warm stews, I’ll be enjoying our little tropical paradise very soon. And I’ll finally be reuniting with my husband when he gets done with his week long out of state baseball tournament…just in time to celebrate our anniversary on the same island where we said “I Do” five years ago!

Rachel’s Stewed Summer Veggies

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

~1 T. extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
1 large onion, diced
4 small potatoes, chopped into bite size chunks
1 yellow squash (or zucchini)
3 cups of tomatoes (I used a combo of whole cherry tomatoes & chopped larger tomatoes)
1 T. white wine vinegar
3 stalks of kale, torn off the rib and into pieces
1 cup of water or veggie broth
1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
salt & pepper
seasoning salt
smoked paprika

Directions

Pour evoo into a large tall-sided skillet or sauce pan and heat on medium heat. Add onions & a dash of salt and saute for about five minutes. Add potatoes, squash, tomatoes, water or broth, and vinegar. Reduce heat to med-low, cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in kale and gently mash the tomatoes so they release their juices. If it needs more liquid, you can add another cup of water or broth. Gently stir in the beans and season to taste with seasoning salt (like Lawry’s or Tony’s), smoked paprika (use just a pinch for a nice smokey flavor) and a little salt and pepper if it needs it.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Stewed Summer Veggies
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-rv
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Roasted Okra & Green Beans

Roasted okra and green beans. A healthy alternative to fried okra or french fries, and so much easier to make.

(Rachel – The Vegan-Eatin’ Daughter)

In our huge haul of garden veggies from Uncle, we had a small batch of fresh okra. I’ve been planning to fry them up, as any good southerner would do, but I’m not really the frying kind of gal. It’s just so messy.

There you have it. The secret to eating  healthy is to be too lazy to clean up greasy pots and pans.

While waiting on me to get over my anal retentiveness, some of my okra and a handful of green beans started to wither away. Still not ready to conquer the mess of slicing, coating, and deep frying the okra, I decided to try out a cooking method I know and love for green beans, roasting, on the okra, too.

I may not be a traditional Southern gal in many ways, but this plate of roasted green beans and okra is my kind of southern treat. In less than 30 minutes, these are prepped, cooked and on your plate. You could serve them as a healthy afternoon snack for kids (almost 11-month old Jackson loved them), a party appetizer, or a side dish to any southern cuisine.

Rachel’s Roasted Okra & Green Beans

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 c. fresh okra (not frozen)
1 cup fresh green beans
3 t. olive oil
1 t. salt
1/2 t. of cayenne

Directions

Preheat oven to 450. Put okra and green beans on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, salt, and cayenne. Pour the oil over the veggies and rub into them to make sure they are all evenly coated.

Bake for 20 minutes, flipping the veggies after 10 minutes. Sprinkle with a tad more salt as they come out of the oven.

I dipped them in Muir Glen’s organic ketchup (my fave), because I’m a ketchup-aholic, but they really didn’t need anything. Feel free to play with different spices, too.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Roasted Okra & Green Beans
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-rm
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Stuffed Garden Zucchini with Spinach & Walnut Pesto

(Rachel – The Vegan-Eatin’ Daughter)

I have this dramatic little plant on my kitchen table. When she get’s a little parched (it’s most definitely a she), she goes from her perky upright position to draping her long thin limbs all the way over the side of the pot as if she’s fainted. I give her a little sip of water and within minutes the color returns to her cheeks, she brushes the dirt off her skirt, and gets back to work brightening up my kitchen.

As much as I would love to have a green thumb and to have the time, desire, and talent to have a garden, I’m just not there yet. My plants have to literally bend over backwards to get me to notice them. Every attempt at an herb garden has been a miserable failure. One day, when I grow up, I hope I find my inner plant whisperer. Until then, I’ll stick to dramatic plants that practically scream for my attention.

On the bright side, Jared’s Uncle Philip, we just call him Uncle, has an organic garden. Once or twice a year, when his harvest overfloweth, he spreads around the veggie love. This week, he sent us squash, zucchini, cucumbers, a big bag full of beautiful cherry tomatoes, okra, and green beans. Fresh, local, organic, free veggies make my heart go pitter patter!

Some of the zucchini and squash had grown a little too much. When it comes to produce, bigger is usually not better. I hate to waste any vegetable, so I decided to use the zucchini as a pretty vessel for a cherry tomato stuffing.

The zucchini was still a little bit bitter and took longer to bake than a smaller variety, but the stuffing of sweet cherry tomatoes and garlicky croutons was insanely delicious. Smaller zucchini would be perfect and tender enough that you could eat the whole thing, skin and all. If you’re looking for a way to make use of any summer squash that got a little too much time on the vine, though, this is a clever way to use them up.

I have more veggies from Uncle’s garden coming tomorrow and I’ve hardly made a dent in the first round. What’s your favorite way to use up garden veggies?

Rachel’s Stuffed Garden Zucchini with Spinach & Walnut Pesto

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 large zucchini or 4 normal sized zucchini, cut in half lengthwise & seeds scooped out
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
course ground pepper

2 slices of whole grain bread, cut into small cubes
1 t. extra virgin olive oil
1 t. garlic powder

1/2 small onion, diced
1 leek, dark green section removed, chopped into thin half moons & rinsed well
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
2 cups baby spinach

Pesto
1/2 c. spinach
1 T. walnuts
1 clove of garlic
1 t. extra virgin olive oil
3-4 t. water
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

Look at all those pretty cherry tomatoes. That’s only about half of what we got from Uncle’s garden!

Directions

Preheat oven to 375. Place zucchini cut side up in a baking dish, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and course ground black pepper. Bake until fork tender. 20-35 minutes depending on the size of the zucchini.

Toss bread cubes with olive oil and garlic powder.  Pour onto a baking sheet and bake in the same oven as zucchini until crispy, about 10 minutes.

In a skillet, heat a little olive oil on medium heat. Add onion and leeks and saute until transclucent, add garlic and tomatoes, continue sauteing for about five more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in spinach.

When the zucchini are fork tender, remove from the oven, stuff generously with the filling and put back in the oven for 15 more minutes.

Blend all of the pesto ingredients together, starting with 3 t. of water and adding more until the pesto is thin enough to drizzle easily.

Serve the stuffed squash on a big family platter, drizzled with pesto on top. Can be served as a main meatless dish or as a side.

The skin on the larger squash is too tough to eat, but the flesh did get tender while baking.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Stuffed Garden Zucchini with Spinach & Walnut Pesto
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-qP
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Pasta Arrabiata with Roasted Garbanzos & Kale Chips

One of our staple vegan meals: Roasted Garbanzo Beans and Kale and a Spicy Arrabiata Sauce served over whole wheat pasta with a side of extra roasted veggies and whole wheat garlic toast. Satisfies every time.

(Rachel – The Vegan-Eatin’ Daughter)

My husband had a few hours off this afternoon, so as I wrote a post for my literary agency’s blog, The Wordserve Water Cooler, Jared kept an eye on Jackson and helped out around the house. He was folding a load of laundry at the kitchen table with Jackson at his feet, and though Jackson can barely reach the table, he managed to grab a corner of one of the piles and pulled half of the folded clothes onto the floor. Looking up from my laptop, I knowingly grinned and said “I’m so glad you get to experience a little piece of my life every now and then.”

The other day, Jared came home and, for what seemed like the 100th day in a row, I was rocking our crying teething baby in the same clothes I was wearing when he left for work, the house a total mess, and no dinner on the table. I told him “Just once, I’d like for you to come home and me to be bathed & dressed, the house to be clean, blogs to be finished, my word-count to be completed, and dinner to be ready. I can usually get a couple of those done on any given day, but I think it would be a miracle to fit it all into one day and be present for our son.”

Here’s what cooking with Jackson looks like on a good night. Veggies are chopped, every piece of tupperware is on the floor. Next up, Arrabiata sauce and emptying the pots and pans drawer.

Never trust a tupperware container from the house of a toddler. It surely has been discarded onto an unswept floor, then thrown back into the cabinet without so much as a rinse.

I know Jared works VERY hard. In fact, I would probably cry every day if I had his job of taming teenagers in the classroom, followed by practice and games most nights and weekends. But it’s nice to know he understands that being a work-at-home mom is not all tickles and giggles either.

On this night, my house was a wreck and the closest I got to showering was sticking my feet in the tub while Jackson bathed and dotting my neck and wrists with a little “perfume” of coconut oil while I cooked. But dinner was on the table and it was delicious. And my husband kindly overlooked the yoga pants and tank top I was trying to pass off as an outfit and the ponytail I was trying to pass off as an intentionally messy updo.

I like to put the kale chips on the side and then crumble them into a tasty crunchy kale dust between every few bites. Jared loves his as chips and just eats them on the side. To each his own.

Pasta Arrabiata with Roasted Garbanzos

This makes a lot of sauce, enough to fill about 2 pasta sauce jars. You can easily freeze leftovers or store them in your refrigerator for up to a week.

Arrabiata Sauce

Ingredients

3 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 t. salt
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. Tomato Paste
1 28 oz can of whole peeled San Marzano Tomatoes
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup red or white wine
2 T. brown sugar
1 T. Italian seasoning
1 T. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped & divided

Directions

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan. Add onions and salt and saute until translucent. Add garlic, saute for 2 more minutes. Add tomato paste and stir. Add the whole peeled tomatoes and break them up with a fork until nice and chunky. Add crushed tomatoes, wine, brown sugar, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes on low, stirring occasionally. Add 1/4 cup of fresh parsley before serving.
Roasted Garbanzos & Kale Chips

Makes enough to top 3-4 bowls of pasta

Ingredients

1 cans of garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas), drained and rinsed
2 c. kale, washed, dried very well, and torn into pieces
3-4 t. olive oil, divided
4 t. Italian seasoning, divided
1 t. crushed red pepper flakes, divided

Preheat oven to 325.  Coat a large cookie sheet with a little olive oil or cooking spray. In a bowl, toss garbanzos in half the olive olive oil until all are lightly coated. Add half of the Italian Seasoning & crushed red pepper flakes and toss again. Pour onto half the cookie sheet. Repeat same steps with the kale, making sure to massage the olive oil into the leaves. Bake for 20 minutes, shaking the pan half way through. They are done when the kale chips are light and crispy and the garbanzo beans have a slight crunch.

Serve Arriabiata sauce over pasta and top with a sprinkle of fresh parsley, chickpeas and kale. I actually like to put the kale chips on the side and crush them over the top as I eat them.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Pasta Arrabiata with Roasted Garbanzos & Kale Chips
The URL: http://http://wp.me/p1UwM9-nm
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Lentil Veggie Chili

Lentil & Veggie Chili over brown rice, a delicious, healthy, economical twist on an American favorite.

I think any of our regular readers know my affections for kale at this point. I do love that cruciferous veggie (in fact, this recipe sneaks in two cups of it), but I’ve been keeping quiet about another favorite food of mine. Possibly the the humblest legume out there, the lentil.

I don’t have a funny or inspiring story to tie into this recipe, so I’m just going to indulge in one of my favorite guilty pleasures, talking geeky about health food.

“What’s a lentil?” You ask. Well, I didn’t know either until about two years ago when I started eating a plant-based diet. I wish I had known about them when I was a college student trying to eat healthy on a tight budget. A pound of lentils costs less than $1.00 and will yield 5 cups of cooked lentils. Each cup boasts a whopping 17 grams of protein, 16 grams of fiber, folate (90% RDV), iron (35% RDV), magnesium, and much more, yet only has 1 gram of fat and 230 calories. All that, and they cook in 30 minutes (versus 4+ hours for most dry beans) with no soaking required.

Like most legumes, lentils aren’t a powerhouse of flavor on their own, but they pick up the flavors of whatever they are cooked in nicely. I use them in soups and spaghetti sauce all the time. This week, I discovered a new use for them. Instead of using canned beans or slow cooking kidney and black beans for my usual veggie chili recipe, I used lentils.

I know it’s warming up and, for some, chili is a winter dish, but I love any quick one-pot meal in the summer that doesn’t require turning on the oven or hovering over the stove for long. You can make a lot at once, and then take the next night off or easily pack up the leftovers for lunch at the office. And if you top it with a hit of diced avocado, some cilantro, and a squeeze of lime , it really brightens up the flavors and brings a bit of summer color to this warm dish.

What’s your favorite under-the-radar ingredient or food that you love to tell your friends about?

Lentil Chili served over brown rice and topped with avocado, cilantro, and lime.

Rachel’s Lentil Veggie Chili

Ingredients

1 onion, diced
3 carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. grated ginger
1 T. cumin
1 t. cayenne
1 t. salt
2 serrano chilies, whole
1 sweet potato, chopped
14 oz can of diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup (1/2 lb) dry green lentils, sorted for dirt & rocks* & rinsed
6 cups water
2 cups of frozen corn, thawed
2 cups kale, removed from stem
1 t. crushed red pepper flakes (optional for an extra spicy kick)

Other: Brown Rice and/or crackers, avocado, cilantro, & lime

Directions

In a large pot, heat a little bit of olive oil and saute onions and carrots with a pinch of salt on medium heat until soft.  Add garlic and ginger and saute for 2 more minutes. Stir in cumin, cayenne, and salt. Add serrano chilies, sweet potato, tomatoes, lentil, and water. Cover and bring to a boil, lower to a simmer for 30 minutes with the lid tilted, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid. Add corn and kale & optional red pepper flakes. Simmer for 10 more minutes. If you want a thicker soup, continue to simmer uncovered until you reach the desired consistency.

Serve over brown rice or with crackers. Garnish with avocado, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.

*Before cooking any dried legumes, pour them onto a solid surface, like a paper towel and sort through them looking for sticks, little rocks, or clumps of dirt. Please don’t skip this step. I find something in probably 50% of my dried beans. You don’t want you or your guests to bite into a rock!

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Lentil Veggie Chili
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-lR
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Baked Collard Green Potato Cakes (Vegan)

Garlicky greens and buttery potatoes with a dash of heat, baked up into patties for an easy to serve side dish.

I had a bad night last night. One dose of terribly sad news mixed with a dose of mean-spirited, unsolicited criticism from some jerk on Facebook left me living out the whole “We Cry” part of our blog title.

After a restless, tear-filled night, I decided to spend the day doing things that are joyful and comforting.

I swung Jackson on the swing at the park, tickling his chunky little thighs as he swung toward me and making swishing noises as he swung away. He smiled. I smiled. He giggled. I giggled.

Later, we left the hose in his water table running with total disregard for being “green” (sorry planet), creating a waterfall with the overflow. Jackson curiously poked his hand through the cascading water, then got down into a crouching position with his tush in the air and his face almost to the ground and watched the water come down, the droplets splashing against the concrete patio.

We snuggled and read silly books about farm animals. Snorting like a pig gets big laughs around here these days.

We shared a snack from last night’s southern comfort food leftovers, topping collard green potato cakes with a little bit of avocado and a dash of hot sauce (for me). Collard greens, potatoes, and hot sauce…now that’s southern comfort and southern delish!

Today was a much better day, a “We Laugh” kind of day.

Rachel’s
Collard Green Potato Cakes

Makes 12 potato cakes

Ingredients

4 potatoes, diced into large chunks
1 T. vegan butter (i.e. Earth Balance)
1/4 white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch of collard greens (or kale), chopped into small pieces
2 t. Vegan Wing Sauce* or Hot Sauce (vinegar would work too, if you don’t like spicy food)
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil
Avocado (optional)

Directions

Heat oven to 400.

Put the chopped potatoes in a large sauce pan, cover with water, cover and bring to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes until potatoes are fork tender. Drain and return to the pan. Add vegan butter and mash the potatoes, leaving them just a little bit chunky.

Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat to medium, add onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Cook until onions are translucent. Add the collard greens. (You may have to add a little at a time. The greens will shrink in size after a few minutes, making room in the pan to add more.) Drizzle on the wing or hot sauce. Add a little more olive oil, salt & pepper. Cook until the greens are wilted. Pour onion and greens mixture into the potatoes and combine well.

Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Form potato cakes (about the size of a small burger) with your hands and place them on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Top with avocado if you’d like and a splash of hot sauce. Alternatively, you can pan fry them in a little bit of oil on medium heat. I tried it both ways and both were great, but baking is healthier and easier in my opinion.

*Frank’s Wing Sauce is vegan, despite the “natural butter flavoring” listed in the ingredients. If you are vegan, make sure to read the ingredients on wing sauce, some do contain dairy.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Baked Collard Green Potato Cakes
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-iN


Coconut & Chocolate Coconut Covered Cherries (Vegan)

Coconut and Chocolate Coconut Covered Cherries

You know those times when you plan to make one thing and then it turns out to be a completely different thing, and the thing you didn’t mean to make is actually better than the thing you tried to make in the first place?

That’s how I discovered these coconut covered cherries. I just wanted a bowl of frozen cherries with a little whipped coconut cream on top, but as the coconut cream covered the frozen fruit, it froze and coated the cherries. Coconut Covered Cherries…yes please! I, of course, had to try a chocolate version too. Who doesn’t love chocolate covered cherries? These frozen delights make a perfect bite-sized treat when you need just a little something sweet.

They are pretty healthy too. There is only 1 teaspoon of sugar in 15 covered cherries. Coconut cream is surprisingly good for you, despite it’s saturated fat content. The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut gets converted to energy as soon as your body absorbs it (unlike saturated animal fat which is difficult for the body to metabolize). It also contains lauric acid which is an immunity booster.

When selecting your can of coconut milk, look for a full fat kind with only coconut and water in the ingredients. Other ingredients like guar gum can keep the cream from separating from the water. Refrigerate the coconut milk overnight so the cream will rise to the top. You want it to look like this with the cream at the top and the coconut water at the bottom. Save the water to use in cooking or smoothies.

When cold, the coconut cream rises to the top.

Life is just a bowl of cherries;
Don’t make it serious;
Life’s too mysterious.
You work, you save, you worry so,
But you can’t take your dough when you go, go, go.
So keep repeating it’s the berries;
The strongest oak must fall.
The sweet things in life
To you were just loaned,
So how can you lose what you’ve never owned?
Life is just a bowl of cherries,
So live and laugh at it all.

Coconut Covered Cherries

Rachel’s
Coconut & Chocolate Coconut Covered Cherries

Makes ~15 Cherries

Ingredients

Frozen Cherries
2 T. cream from full fat coconut milk that has been refrigerated over night (see above for explanation)
1 t. sugar
1/4 t. vanilla extract
1 t. cocoa powder (omit for plain version)
Parchment or wax paper

Only Five Ingredients!

Directions

In a bowl, mix coconut cream, sugar, vanilla and cocoa powder (for chocolate version) until the sugar dissolves.

Coconut & Chocolate Coconut Cream Ready for Dipping

This stuff is seriously delicious as is. It will be hard to keep little (and big) fingers out of it!

Dip the frozen cherries into the cream and place on a parchment or wax lined pan. If the cream isn’t sticking well, pat the cherries dry with a paper towel. Place in the freezer for 20-30 minutes until the cream is completely frozen. Transfer to air tight zip top bag or container. Enjoy straight from the freezer.

Other variations: Try different fruits or flavors like maple cinnamon coconut covered bananas. Or try rolling in sprinkles or shredded coconut. Let me know if you come up with a tasty variation!

The chocolate ones reminded me of chocolate cherry ice cream.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title:  Coconut & Chocolate Coconut Covered Cherries (Vegan)
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/05/15/coconut-chocolate-covered-cherries-vegan


Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas

When it comes to delicious crave-worthy foods, I’m a hoover and Jared is a hoarder.

Jared saves his favorite foods for when he really really wants them. I admire this in some ways, except that he tends to save them for so long they’re no longer edible by the time he decides to indulge. I’ve tossed out countless cupcakes or cookies that have gone bad while Jared was waiting for the perfect moment to eat them. If he’s not going to eat it before it sprouts eyes and a mohawk, he should at least release his dibs, right? His hoarding tortures me!

Though I will admit his patience comes in awfully handy as the husband to, well, me.

I grew up in a home with three hungry boys and when our mom went grocery shopping, we all immediately raided the refrigerator, battling it out for our favorite snacks. If you wanted that breakfast strudel, you grabbed it before it was gone; there were no guarantees it would still be waiting for you in the morning. Apparently, this is still engrained in my brain.

If something is delicious, I eat it all as soon as possible. Monday night I made these Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas for dinner. They were so good, I woke up the next morning thinking of them. So of course, instead of waiting for lunch or dinner, I ate the rest first thing in the morning (saving two for Mr. Patient’s dinner).

I couldn’t help it! Though the picture isn’t the greatest, these enchiladas are out of this world. The sweet and spicy homemade enchilada sauce with just a hint of cinnamon is like a warm hug wrapped around the always delicious combination of black beans and sweet potatoes. These are definitely going to become a go-to meal around here.

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Rachel’s Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas

Serves 4

Ingredients

8 Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas

Filling

1/2 large onion
1 bell pepper (any color but orange or yellow are nice in this dish)
2 sweet potatoes, peeled & chopped into chunks
olive oil
1 t. Salt
1 16oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed

Sauce

1 16oz can of whole peeled tomatoes (I’m sure crushed tomatoes would work too, but this is what I had on hand)
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. onion powder
1 t. oregano
1 t. chili powder
1/2 t. cinnamon
2 t. brown sugar
1 t. red chili flakes
1 T. jarred salsa (or one chipotle in adobo sauce)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.

Bring water in a medium sauce pan to a boil and boil chopped sweet potatoes for five minutes, or until the potatoes are just barely fork tender. Drain.

While the potatoes are boiling, heat about 1 T. of olive oil on medium heat in a large saute pan. Add onions, bell pepper, and salt and cook until onions are translucent. Turn off heat and gently toss in the sweet potatoes and black beans.

In a blender or food processor, mix all of the sauce ingredients until the tomatoes are pureed and the spices are all blended.

Coat an 8×10 baking dish with 1 T. of olive oil, then ladle in a little enchilada sauce to lightly cover the bottom of the dish. Dip each tortilla into the enchilada sauce coating both sides. Add sweet potato filling and roll tightly into a tube. Place in the baking dish, seam side down. Repeat until all the tortillas and filling are used, packing the enchiladas into the dish side by side. Pour the rest of the sauce over the top.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Serve with Spanish rice (add a sprinkle of taco seasoning in with your rice while it’s cooking for a really quick & easy version) and avocado slices or guacamole.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/05/10/sweet-potato-black-bean-enchiladas/


No Bake Apricot Bars

Vegan Apricot Cashew Bars

Some women nest when they are pregnant by obsessively organizing the nursery until every onesie is folded just so and all the outfits are color coordinated and sorted by size, some scrub the house obsessively. I did a little of those, but mostly I cooked. And when I say I cooked, I mean I cooked!

In the two weeks before Jackson arrived, I completely filled my freezer with everything from chili and cornbread, to pot pie, to muffins, to waffles, to cookies and hummus. I started with an empty freezer and when my nesting was over, I literally had to remove the ice basket to fit everything in.

One of the recipes I made, 5 Ingredient No Bake Date Bars, from the blog “Oh She Glows,” barely made it to my due date. My family and I could not keep out of them. They are like crack, but healthy crack. In fact, they could probably cure drug addiction.

Angela at Oh She Glows is a genius when it comes to making healthy vegan treats. I can’t wait for her cookbook to come out. These bars have no added sugar, only five ingredients and don’t even require turning on the oven. My favorite thing about them is that they are best eaten straight out of the freezer. When Jackson arrived and I was a new nursing mother, I would suddenly be ravenous, and could hardly think straight until I had food in me again. These were the perfect fuel for my sudden hunger attacks, high in protein and fiber, they were filling and healthy, but felt indulgent.

I’ve made different versions of the bars countless times now, but yesterday I tried a new combination that really rivaled it’s original counterpart. Instead of dates and almonds, I used dried apricots and toasted cashews. Wow! I don’t know which one I like more. I took them to the leader meeting for my MOPS (Mother’s of Preschoolers) group last night and several requested the recipe. So as promised, here you go ladies!

The sweet tangy pureed apricots sandwiched between layers of rich salty cashews hits three of the five taste bud senses and also combines creamy, chewy, and crunchy textures. It’s satisfying on every level.

No Bake Vegan Apricot Bars

5 Ingredient No-Bake Apricot Cashew Bars

Inspired by OhSheGlow’s 5 Ingredient No Bake Vegan Date Squares

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 1.5 cups whole cashews (toasted, roasted, honey roasted – whatever you have)
  • 1.5 cups regular oats (for Gluten-free, use GF oats)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (omit if cashews are salted)
  • 10-15 dried apricots (~ 1/2 a cup), roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

Filling:

  • 25-35 dried apricots roughly chopped (~2 cups)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup water

Directions:

1. Spray a muffin tin (my preference) or 8×8 pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a food processor, process cashews, salt, and oats until a fine crumble forms. Add apricots and process until crumbly again. Add coconut oil and process until sticky. Remove from processor, set aside 3/4 cup of the mixture for later, press remaining into cupcake molds or pan to form a crust. For muffin tins I use a tablespoon and put a heaping tablespoons into each mold, then use the back of the tablespoon to press down and smooth out the layer.

2. Process the apricots and 1/2 cup water in the food processor (I’ve found a smaller work bowl works better than a large one if you have a full sized food processor–in fact I just used my mini one for this step) until a paste forms, stopping to scrape down the sides and adding a little more water as needed (don’t exceed 1 cup). Scoop out the apricot mixture into the pan or evenly into the muffin tins and gently spread out to cover the crust.

3. Sprinkle on the reserved crust and gently press down into the apricot mixture, just so it sticks. Freeze for at least an hour or until firm. Cut squares or pop out of muffin molds and wrap individually with saran wrap. Store in freezer. Enjoy straight from the freezer or slightly thawed as a delicious, guilt-free treat!

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: No Bake Apricot Bars
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/05/02/no-bake-apricot-bars