03 November 2012

An Assignment

I just finished a food assignment and mini essay for my FON100 (Food and Nutrition) class and wanted to share it on my blog as it was quite fun to do! Here it is: Whole Foods Market Experience (A Love Story) I am in love. I admit I fall in love with things quite easily but there is a love affair I have been involved with for the past four years and that has been my weekend rendezvous to the Whole Foods Market in Chandler. The store is beautiful and full of many amenities from a juice/smoothie bar, a pizzeria, an eye catching beautiful bakery and it also happens to have one of my favorite bars in town. Their choice of craft beer is outstanding and you can always count on excellent customer service and great recommendations from the friendly staff. I can spend hours in the produce section fondling and gazing longingly at their many variety of local and exotic fruits and vegetables. I never bring a grocery list, just a fat wallet and a handful of reusable shopping bags. I am very fortunate that I have a husband who is not only tolerant of my passion for colorful and tantalizing plant foods but he also shares in my indulgences. This last week I was incredibly happy to see my love, Whole Foods, on a school night even! All kidding aside, I was really happy that buying groceries and preparing a meal was a class assignment. I honestly believe that one of my greatest strengths is to come up with tasty, healthy and visually appealing foods to eat. The fruit I chose to enjoy for the first time in my life was a cactus pear, also known as a cactus fig. They come from the paddle cactus called the Prickly Pear that grows in the Southwest. I find it quite humorous that this was my first time eating a cactus pear because I have two giant Prickly Pear cacti growing in my front yard and they are both currently ripe with fruit. I haven't tried to pick them for fear of the cactus needles, and those cacti and I had it out a few summers ago and the end results were quite tragic and painful on my part. Seeing the fruit free of its needles and sitting gently in a basket placed next to bananas made it a lot less frightening then the version in my front yard. I wasn't sure what to make with it at first, I didn't have enough to make cactus jelly or jam and I didn't want to muddle the flavor by simply tossing it into a smoothie. My first thought was to cook the pear down to make a simple syrup and create a fabulous Prickly Pear martini, but seeing as how this is an assignment for a nutrition class I opted for something healthier. I eventually decided to make a raw dessert with it, an avocado mousse with an almond frangipane cream, using the cactus pear for a sweetener and ultimately the flavor of the frangipane. I first peeled off the outer layer of the cactus pear, processed it in a blender then strained the seeds using a sieve, so only the juice of the fruit remained. I soaked raw almonds for two hours then in a food processor combined the almonds, cactus juice, a hint of vanilla, agave nectar and lemon juice to retain the beautiful pink hue the pear juice had created. I refrigerated the frangipane overnight to firm up into a thick whipped topping. For the chocolate mousse part of the dessert I whipped three raw avocados with raw cacao powder, one peeled Bartlett pear and light hint of agave nectar. I also added vanilla agave inulin powder for added fiber. The results were fantastic. I had a rich, creamy and lightly sweet mousse with a flavorful creamy frangipane cream topping. I added a bit of shaved chocolate on top for no reason other than I quite enjoy chocolate. Now that I have had my first experience with a cactus pear I will definitely be trying it again, and soon. I have plans for fruit leathers, dried chips, pancake syrup and for sure I will be making a Prickly Pear martini in the near future. This was a fun and enjoyable assignment and it gave me the opportunity to find out about a new food. The Prickly Pear is rich in magnesium, potassium and Vitamin C. According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the Prickly Pear “may reduce cellular damage that can contribute to chronic disease, and it has also been stated that the plant “can help control cholesterol.” It is almost hard to believe I have such a wonderfully nutritious fruit growing wild in my front yard.
I hope you enjoyed it, I hope my professor does too! (:

06 June 2012

Stuffed Jalapenos

I had my first attempt at making cream cheese stuffed jalapenos last week, as my Grandparents gave me an arm load of jalapenos from their garden. These things were gigantic and very spicy. I still haven't gotten into learning how to pickle things so needless to say I had a large quantity of jalapenos and a very short time to eat all of them. I made guacamole, salsa, and hummus and still had quite a few left over. I looked around the internets and found a pretty tasty recipe on the Galaxy Foods website.

The result was quite tasty, but I think next time I make these I will add cilantro and tomatoes, and maybe even a bit of nacho cheese to give these jalapenos a more diverse taste. Of course, another option would be to make spicy jalapeno hummus and stuff the jalapenos with that, oh my, the wheels are turning! Have you made stuffed jalapenos before? If so what creative things did you do to spice up your creation?

31 May 2012

Chewy Sunflower Seed Butter Cookies

As the temperature in Arizona increases so do the requests for baked goods from my customers. It is this strange dynamic that baffles me every summer. I had an adventurous couple approach me with a request for homemade Cliff bars and trail mix cookies for their hike into the Grand Canyon. I made them delicious raw food bars with millet, sunflower butter, goji berries and almonds. I also baked some yummy oatmeal trail mix cookies with golden raisins, cranberries, agave and pecans. This got me craving yummy and healthy baked goods to get me through these hot summer bike rides.

Since I had a few ingredients left over from the trail mix cookies and bars, I tossed everything into my Kitchen Aid mixer and the result was these tasty, lightly sweetened, chewy cookies.


2 Cups Whole Wheat flour
1/2 Cup Quick Cook Oats
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 Cup Sunflower Seed Butter
1/3 Cup Brown Rice Syrup
3 Medium sized bananas
2 T. Raw Sunflower Seeds

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and grease two cookie sheets

Mix flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and set aside. Mash bananas then mix with sunflower seed butter and brown rice syrup until fully mixed. Slowly add dry ingredients until fully incorporated, be careful not to over mix, you don't want the cookies too chewy.

Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon scoop dough and roll into 1 inch sized balls. Gently pat down and flatten dough on to cookie sheets and sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms of cookies are a golden brown. Let cool for five minutes before removing from cookie sheets. Makes 18-22 cookies.

I put my cookies in the refrigerator for a cool snack on a hot summer day. Since they are made with fresh bananas, keeping the cookies chilled in an air tight container will keep them fresher longer.


06 April 2012

The Difficulty of Putting on Pants

Six days ago I fell down the stairs. At Work. In the morning. And worked for 14 hours on what I later found out to be a broken ankle.

I am trying to be pretty calm and okay with the whole thing but I guess it is a really bad sprain the doctor called it by a name that sounded something like "Lisa Frank" which actually sounds like a super fun filled time, but in reality I have a foot that looks more like a balloon animal than a foot. My foot may or may not be a greenish yellow color, but that is not something I just share with anyone. On the plus side I have a new fashion accessory that really goes with anything. It is chic and super comfortable and even caught the eyes of a few gentlemen at the bar on Wednesday night.

29 March 2012

Bake Sale!

Though I will not be attending this bake sale (I will be in Coachella!!!) I hope all of you that live in the Phoenix area can make it. I am hoping to find time to make ice cream and ice cream sandwiches for the event. Bring your money and hungry tummies too!

15 March 2012

A Lady, Even At Eighty

Recently my beautiful an amazing grandmother turned eighty years old! Eighty, can you believe it? I would only be so lucky to live so long and look so great. I wanted to plan something fun for her birthday, but I also wanted it to be an experience she would remember for always. Since I was little I thought of my grandma as one classy broad, she never left the house without lipstick, never used curse words and she was always gracious and polite. I totally picked up those qualities from her...yeah right, ha ha! Even though I may be lacking in grace, my grandmother still loves me and is indeed very proud of me. Pretty much since last March when she turned 79, I began pondering what I would do for such a fantastic lady that raised me as her own child. One day as I was thinking of her I saw for a split second her dressed to the nines and drinking out of a dainty cup and that is when it hit me, TEA! I will take this woman to tea! I immediately asked around for fancy tea houses when a friend told me that the Ritz-Carlton does a traditional tea time.

In December I made reservations, informed the Ritz that I was Vegan and then began to count down the days. Flash forward to March 3rd, I show up in a lacy dress with my sister to my Grandmother's house, scoop her up and deliver her to the fanciest of lady brunches this woman has ever seen! Our host for tea is a world traveler and had an amazing array of teas, not to mention tea infused vodkas to make the most incredible "champ-tea-ni's! The plating was gorgeous, the food divine and the whole time we were there a beautiful woman played on a grand piano less than 10 feet from us. The tea service lasted for a little over two hours and the three of us had a lovely time.

My fancy face. I even bought blush for this occasion, I have never worn blush in my life! :)

A bit of a blurry pic, taken with my phone. My grandma does not look 80, seriously she looks incredible!

My sister enjoying a spot of tea

my fizzy champ-tea-ni in all of its glory

beautiful tea set

my Vegan dessert tray

My grandma and sister's desserts, beautiful huh?

delicious Vegan scones

my super tasty lunch

The chef at the Ritz was eager to cook an all Vegan meal as his wife recently became Vegan and he wanted to try out some of her new favorite meals. The strawberry and basil balsamic salad was ah-mazing an the grilled watermelon was smokey and almost didn't taste like watermelon. I was impressed. The best by far was the strawberry cupcake with a vanilla pudding filling and the fluffiest, creamiest frosting I have ever had the pleasure of eating. I will definitely be getting dolled up more often to enjoy these delicious delicacies again.

14 March 2012

An Absence

My presence has not been known for a great deal on this blog. I had promised before to update as frequently as possible, even if I didn't have anything fresh to write about, no new recipes or if no extremely photogenic opportunities passed my way. A little note to say hello would suffice, but I haven't even managed to do that. My passion for writing, creating and enjoying most things was greatly diminished this last December and I am just now beginning to see remnants of the old me come to surface. I have had vivid dreams of myself painting incredibly vibrant and happy images and having the feeling of accomplishment in doing so. I think this is a sign that I am ready to embrace happiness once more. I know that this may be a bit dramatic to those that don't know me very well or were unaware of my heartbreak in December. I wouldn't expect most to know as I kept to myself. I had to do something I knew I would eventually have to but never wanted ever to do. I had to put an end to the suffering of my best friend and if there is such a thing as an animal soul mate, my sweetest companion Adelaide.

Addie was the best dog I had ever met. The sweetest pup with the most unbelievable heart. She loved unconditionally, and I myself only wish I could be as accepting as she was. I think of her everyday and I still cry very often when I do think of her. She was my light and the greatest part of me. I miss her as one misses a lost limb, I will never be fully recovered. For those who do not have animal companions I know this may seem silly, but I have never wanted children, I prefer to have furry friends. Adelaide was my child and I loved her so.

I do not intend for this post to upset anyone just explain my absence. I will be returning to the blogging world, I just needed a moment to catch my breath time to reflect on what is most important to me. I hope I am welcome back here in the world of those with a creative voices and ability to make magic out of food, clothes, canvas and blank computer screens. I have missed you.

my tribute to Adelaide