Marshmallows

2 08 2011

I have an embarrassing fondness for marshmallows and anything marshmallowy. It really is embarrassing; I was once busted by a neighbor who made a surprise visit while I was in the middle of my own personal marshmallow/chocolate chip throwdown while watching Gilmore Girls. I had marshmallow smeared on my arms. The experience, needless to stay, stopped my marshmallow binges for a while.

But I’ve since moved to a place with less friendly neighbors, so I figured I could pick up the habit in my new cave of secrecy. And one recent summer’s day, I really wanted to make something in the kitchen, but it was too hot to turn on the oven. MARSHMALLOWS! Perfect! They don’t require any oven time.

I followed this recipe (and by the way, if you haven’t checked out Tasty Kitchen, I recommend it. Lots of great recipes.), and it was easy. Too easy, maybe, because a couple days later after I stuffed the last vanilla marshmallow into my mouth, I made another batch, this time lemon-vanilla (I substituted freshly squeezed lemon juice for 1/2 the water the recipe calls for. It worked perfectly.).

Isn't hard to believe that THIS...

...turns into THIS?!

I don’t really have any changes or adaptations to make to the actual recipe. I was a little lazy about the instructions, though, when it came to cutting the marshmallows and letting them dry out. I just cut the whole pan of marshmallows into squares, rolled each square in the powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture and then set them out to dry a bit. Except that half of them were gone by the time the 24 hours of drying out time was done. What can I say, moist squishy marshmallows are equally delicious as dry squishy ones.

Lemon-vanilla marshmallows

I am currently thinking of some other flavor combinations–rose water, maybe? orange-vanilla? Limeade? Gin and tonic?

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Vegan Ice Cream (made with one little ole ingredient)

20 07 2011

I won’t give you any lurid details, I will just tell you that I can’t really eat ice cream. Wish I could, it’s delicious stuff. So when I stumbled upon this idea all over the interwebs last summer, I was intrigued. Then I made it, and I was hooked.

I won’t even bother to write out a recipe, I mean, one ingredient, right? Take frozen bananas, two for a perfect dessert size, one if you’re not terribly hungry but want something cool and sweet, or many, many more if you have a stomach of iron or are feeding more than just yourself. Cut up said frozen bananas, place them in a food processor and whiz them around until they form a creamy paste. And there you go. Ice cream. Hippie vegan style.

HELPFUL TIP: Slice up a few bananas BEFORE you freeze them, and then pop them in the freezer for later. Because peeling frozen bananas is annoying. Not impossible, if you have a sharp knife, but annoying. I’m always having to peel frozen bananas when I make this because I never have the foresight to peel them before freezing them. I don’t know why.

In case you’re wondering, it’s really best to eat it right away. You can put it back in the freezer, but later on it’s just not quite as fabulous. Also, yes, you can add various bits of different kinds of fruit, but they don’t have the same ice creamy texture as the banana, so don’t add too many. Also, yes, you can add coconut milk to give it a little extra pizazz. And yes, you can add cinnamon. Yes, you can also add agave, but it’s not needed at all. My preference is really when it’s just made with bananas.





Cake Balls!

3 07 2011

 

 

 

I know. You saw the title of this post and thought to yourself, “2008 called and it wants its dessert back.”

 

I am behind the times on this one, but I couldn’t think of a good reason to make cake balls until now. Come to think of it, I didn’t actually have a good reason to make them now. I just couldn’t bear the thought of falling farther and farther behind the cutting edge.

These weren’t exactly fun to whip up. Slightly tedious and fussy. And when I tried my first one, I thought it was terrible – too sweet, a sticky mashy mess. I set them aside overnight, and gave them a second chance with a cup of coffee the next morning. Wowza. I think the bitterness of the coffee helped temper the sweetness a little. I was positively hooked. That said, these are terrible for you, and you shouldn’t eat them more than once a year.

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Almond Cake (or, David Lebovitz, why do you torture me so?)

13 07 2010

So, after a wacky few months wherein I had no time to write, cook, eat, or think, I am back in the kitchen. Except it’s a new kitchen, in a new house.

I am trying to teach Scrappy to bake David Lebovitz's almond cake for me.

I haven’t baked anything in ages. Ages, I tell you. Not since the pizza cake! So when I saw this recipe, I was like, “Well now that does seem like a nice way to break in the new oven.” Doesn’t it seem like a perfect, simple summer dessert? Something that would make your house smell nice? You know I am into that.

Unfortunately, I baked this cake on one of those days when everything I do goes so very, very wrong. Do you ever have those days? I manage to break delicate objects that I love. I drill way too many holes in wall while just trying to hang a simple curtain rod. I fall off my bike on a smooth trail. I drastically overfill a cake pan so that it spills all over the bottom of the oven while baking, filling the house with an acrid burning almond smell instead of a sweet cakey homey smell. *sigh*

I got my 8 inch cake pan mixed up with the 9 inch cake pan, because, well, it was just that kind of day. And after I poured the batter in I thought to myself, “Gee, self, this cake pan seems so… FULL.” But I put it in the oven anyway. (Insert Nancy Kerrigan-esque Whyyyyyyyyyyy?) But despite that ridiculous mistake in judgment, and despite scraping burned batter blobs from the bottom of the oven, and despite the less-than-attractive top of the cake, this thing was a m a z i n g. Seriously. The perfect dessert. PERFECT. Moist, but not too moist. Sweet, but not overly so. Buttery, almondy. You know, it’s also probably kind of classy. I think this is a cake that could impress. Maybe not with a weird-looking top from a bad case of batter overflow, but when baked in the right-sized pan, this cake could be used as a barter item to get you whatever you want.

The only problem with it was that it sat on the counter, torturing Robert and me all night. We started with one large-ish slice each, served with berries, and then spent the rest of the evening taking tiny slices from it, because somehow eating 400 tiny slices until the cake was gone seemed better than eating 8 normal sized pieces until it was gone. Are you like that, too? Why is that?

It's so delicious you won't even want to use a fork.

Well, I will make this cake again. And again and again. But only when I have company to help me finish it. Or when I can give some of it away. I won’t bother re-typing the recipe, because you can get it here. And David Lebovitz’s blog is a great read. Much better than mine, anyway.





Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

24 01 2010

A few posts back, I made cinnamon-swirly bread in an attempt to rid my house of any weird pet odors. It worked like a charm, and I had the bonus of having a delicious loaf of quick bread to devour. Well, a couple of days ago, after an unmentionable pet disaster in the living room that inspired a colossal cleaning frenzy, I decided to tweak the recipe a little and once again fill the house with a nice smell.

This version is really my mother-in-law’s brain child. She suggested taking the cinnamon swirl concept and marrying it to banana bread. Genius! Because banana and cinnamon go together like peanut butter and chocolate, or jelly and cream cheese, or a standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding, or pork and mustard, or… well, you see where I’m going here. Because banana and cinnamon go so well together, the final product was delicious. It was so perfect, in fact, that we ate almost the entire loaf in about half a day.

This recipe is a great basic go-to banana bread recipe, even without the cinnamon swirl. It’s very easy, and it’s extraordinarily moist. Don’t be afraid of the cinnamon swirl, either! I know it seems like a gratuitous amount to be sprinkling around, but it’s delicious, I promise.

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Cinnamon Swirly Bread

6 12 2009

I have a terrible fear that my house smells bad. I know, gross, right? It’s just that we’ve got these two giant old dogs, and I don’t want to be one of those people who doesn’t realize that her house smells like giant old dog. But I also don’t want to be one of those people who obsessively cleans. It’s a real Catch-22.

Lily Von Lilybuns, stinky dog extraordinaire

Scrappy Von Scrappleheimer, he's happier than he looks.

So, I try to keep things reasonably clean, but I also try to air things out a lot. And I burn a lot of candles, too, but I don’t want to be one of those crazy candle-burning people. So mostly, I try to bake things that give the house a heady cinnamon smell. And when I saw that Megan over at Megan’s Cookin’ made this cinnamon bread, I thought it might be the perfect antidote for my giant-old-dog-stink-phobia. Turns out, not only did it smell great, but it tasted even better.

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Tiny Apple Tarts

3 12 2009

I just adore tiny tarts.

Whoa, that sounded wrong. I don’t mean like Tila Tequila. *shudder* No, I mean actual desserts. Sometimes, like today, I just crave tiny fruit tarts. Flaky and fruity – they seem like they’re light; like a perfect snack with a cup of tea, or maybe, if I’m really feeling indulgent, with an afternoon cup of decaf. Yes, that’s right, sometimes I like to get fancy and pretend I’m in France. At least, I imagine everyone in France is eating pastries and drinking coffee in the afternoons…

If you keep puff pastry on hand, these are SO easy to make. They take maybe 5 minutes to throw together. Then toss them in the oven while the coffee is brewing, and voila, a lovely snack. Don your beret, put on some accordion music, and you will be utterly transported.

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