Blueberry Spinach and Chocolate Cake… What?

What with books upon books upon articles upon blogging upon events upon books upon trying to drum up the courage to speak up more in class, it’s no wonder I’m under a wee bit o’ stress. Also hasn’t helped that the husband has been away but he shall return in the offing, so at least that bit is solved. Now, what to do with all the other stress… I know! Sweets! Sweets and cakes and cookies and fruits and ice cream and brownies galore! Well, it surely hasn’t been a dining extravaganza the likes of Willy Wonka around here, but I have had my fair share of comfort food in the guise of delectable goodies. But since my regular running regimen isn’t quite up to snuff yet (ok regular has become thrice weekly? That’s improvement from nil eh?), I figured I ought at least try to make something semi decent without a thousand pounds of sugar and other monstrosities for my health.

And so… I googled. Naturally. And sure enough came across a recipe that was easy (and easily adaptable) and which I already had all the ingredients. Don’t be alarmed by the … well, the blues and greens. Trust me, this cake is all chocolate by the end of it. If you like richer or sweeter cakes, you might not go for this. But it turned out perfect for me, fluffy but with the right amount of density to lend a rich factor, not overly sweet but that can be adjusted to your liking. And best of all, not a scant hint of spinach whatsoever. I might try just a berry mixture or something next time, just for kicks. But for now, if you or someone you love won’t eat his or her veggies, you might as well try this. No harm. And Really, it soothed my soul. Continue reading

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LiterEature 101: Anna Karenina

russian tea cakesIt’s been a long time since my last Lit entry, but I needed time to find not only an amazing book to present but also the inspiration to create something for it. As it happens, my friend and I decided to read Leo Tolstoy’s masterpiece Anna Karenina for our “Classics” book club and by the time I actually finished it (admittedly far too many months later) I knew this would be the next, as inspiration struck quickly. I admit I ought to have read this book in college, but … fine, we all have our “college” moments, and I never did; thus the added motivation to finally complete and actually talk about. Continue reading

Gluten Free Chocolate Yogurt Cake

Yogurt gluten free cakeOut the window burns a luminous horizon, burgeoning with new opportunities on the brink of fruition. Which will evaporate and which will blossom in my grasp, I cannot say, but it’s exciting all the same. Among the not-so-likely is my upcoming trip to India with the husband, contingent upon a travel visa the country does not seem to want to grant me. I will not dwell on it, despite the fact that I’m supposed to be going in less than a month. POSITIVITY! Thy name is ALYA!

Right.

Among the more promising excursions into the promised land of the future is my newest endeavor with a local writing group sponsored by our library system. If you know me, you know I would do anything to avoid spotlight on most things, most notably direct attention upon me and my most personal ambition of becoming a novelist. But the husband dragged me kicking and screaming and heart palpitating and hyperventilating I went all the same, and it turned out to be fruitful, full of supportive people of all ages, not any of whom were likely to eat me alive with their carnivorous wit and bloodthirsty critiques.

Another promising activity was my first endeavor into the realm of gluten free experimentation! I honestly have no idea what to do with the flour; I read briefly the additional ingredients one usually needs to really lift up the dough so it isn’t dense or grainy, but… I’m not one for buying too many things unnecessarily that I won’t likely use much at all. I prefer to try out with what I have and then see from there. I had actually bought the gluten free flour (Bob’s Red Mill variety) because I’ve come to know a few people who either prefer it for personal reasons, or actually have wheat allergies, so this has been on my mind as a possibility for baking.

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Double Chocolate Maple Cookies

I haven’t baked in a while.  It feels rather wrong, but I have been trying in vain to control my insatiable sweet tooth.  I did make a quick berry puff with whipped cream for G and I once, but that doesn’t count because I used those packaged puff shells, and just simmered some berries in sugar and water to make a glaze to fill the shells.  That’s not baking. That’s EASY.

Nevertheless, I have been on a mission to get my exercise regimen back in shape (pun intended) so the sweets have to take a back seat.  Except when I mistakenly switch on the Food Network during what appears to be Comfort Food Weekend.  Except when I see the beauty that is a rich chocolately delicious cookie. Except when I can’t handle the withdrawal any longer and need to satisfy that stereotypical-for-a-reason female obsession for chocolate.

So I fiddled a bit and came up with this recipe for Double Chocolate Maple Cookies (with White Chocolate Chips), and then promptly made G take nearly all of them to work with him so I wouldn’t be unconscionably tempted by their alluring presence.  BTW the “double” comes from using both cocoa powder and melted chocolate in the recipe.  Delish! Continue reading

Black & White Thumbdrop Delights (and a glimpse of mushrooms!)

Since Superduperamazingblogidea has been put on hold, scheduled to commence on Christmas weekend now (methinks Friday so the G and I can cook up a storm together) I have to entertain myself somehow.  But provided I’m still hesitant to cook anything too rich or succulent lest it wakens the sleeping dragon in G’s turbulent tummy, I kept the dinner portion of the evening very simple and light: some spicy garlic roasted mushrooms, dahl (red & yellow lentils), rice… and just because it’s one of his ridiculous comfort foods, some Maggi noodles (for the blissfully unawares, those are pretty much the Indian version of Top Ramen.  Yeah.  Fancy pants cuisine right there hehe). 

FYI The mushrooms were gloriously easy – just tossed white mushrooms in olive oil, lots of garlic, a little salt, black pepper, and chili flakes, pour entire mixture into a baking dish, top with chunks of butter (or Smart Balance haha), and roast in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.  The garlic melts into the butter and makes this sumptuous sauce… I found this recipe online at Smitten Kitchen and just had to try it.  So simple, so soft, so savory.  Squeeze lemon juice once out of the oven and sprinkle with basil or oregano or cilantro or whatever you like. YUM!

I love simplicity, but… I have the kitchen bug in me.  In the past month or so a dormant being has been summoned to life in my bones, controlling my urges, my actions, the very tinkerings of my mind, where all I can think about for hours on end is the magic awaiting me in the kitchen (seriously, the channel I watch most on TV is Food Network). I love to create.  Love love love it.  I may not be good at it, but I love it.  I’ve never been as thrilled by cooking and baking as I am now – is it simply because I’m doing it with and for my husband now, or that I have complete reign and freedom over a kitchen (as opposed to living with parents and always worrying about what they would like)?  Whatever the case may be, I just feel so at ease here that I want to continue to drum up specialties, or at least try.  For example: Eventually I’ll start a line of a variety of crispy spring rolls, I guarantee it! Once I create a variety that is…

It always comes back to creativity.  At some point I’m going to be more focused and driven on my writing again, having already started on a few projects that are now lying wistfully by my side.  <<Don’t worry my lovelies, I’ll give you some attention soon! I promise!>> Until then I am expanding my desire to imagine up something special into different forums.  What a blessing it is, I suppose, that I have the ability and opportunity to explore different avenues.  As a child I was all about drawing and painting, so artful expression is inherent to my nature.  And honestly, cooking is an amazing outlet, the beautiful method in which we can nourish our sanity and humanity.

But I digress.  The point of all this rambling is to explain why I decided to dream up cookies too.  But oy! Don’t think that I am on the fast track to Chubbsville with all these sweets.  No, these I actually dreamed up with the intention of having G share them with his coworkers, a little holiday treat for them.

And so after a bunch of thinking and consideration, I eventually settled on black&white cookie sandwiches, little buttery drops of goodness filled with rich chocolate or various fruit spreads… But no.  That didn’t work out and I shall tell you why.

  1. No double boiler set up to melt chocolate (i.e. I have no metal bowl to melt my chocolate in)
  2. The cookie batter didn’t conform to the little teaspoon shape I wanted, so I improvised.

And thus, black & white thumbdrop delights were born, thumb-pressed to be filled with any assortment of things.

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