Thursday, October 11, 2018

Monster Cereal Treats (A Rice Krispies Twist)

Kellogg's Rice Krispies Treats™ are a timeless, classic treat that can be made with many variations. Cocoa Krispies, Fruity Pebbles, with mini chocolate chips thrown in, combined with melted peanut butter,  a few drops of festive food coloring... The limits are of your imagination.

My husband Greg and I both love Halloween, and one of our favorite first harbingers of Halloween are General Mills' Monster Cereals: Count Chocula, Franken Berry, and Boo Berry. You may see where I am going with this. To the Land of Deliciousness! (I am allergic to wheat, thus generally avoid eating it, but I will make exceptions. This is one of them.)

This was not my creation, but Greg's, who took it to a meeting with the local theatre company he joined this summer, the Neighborhood Theatre Group. It's a good thing I snagged one before he left, because there were none left over. Greg used Franken Berry, but I can easily imagine Count Chocula or Boo Berry being equally delicious. 

Here is the recipe.

  • 3 Tablespoons of butter
  • 1 package of marshmallows
  • 6 cups of cereal
  • Cooking spray
  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the marshmallows to the saucepan and stir until melted. Turn off heat. 
  2. Add cereal and stir until thoroughly coated.
  3. Coat a 13x9 glass baking dish with cooking spray. Carefully press the marshmallow-cereal mass into the baking dish. Allow to cool before cutting into squares and consuming.
And now you have a spooky Halloween treat for the monsters in your life. OM NOM NOM NOM...

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Chicken Teriyaki With Sweet Peppers and Tomatoes (from the Garden)

Our garden this year has been very giving in some respects. While we sadly watched a lot of plants fail to thrive, our tomatoes went wild. Chocolate cherry tomatoes - yum yum! Our bell peppers have also been doing fairly well, and were one day supplemented by a grocery sac full of a mixture of peppers that my husband Greg brought home, excess fruit (peppers and tomatoes are technically fruits) he didn't want to see go to waste. It was a lot of peppers! 

We shared as much as we could with friends, but there came a point when the peppers were beginning to wilt, and something had to be done with them. I chopped up a bunch and froze them (peppers are easy to freeze) while looking for recipes online for both peppers and tomatoes. Fajitas were one obvious possibility, though we'd been eating a lot of Central American food lately, so when I came across a teriyaki recipe, it stood out to me. Greg was skeptical - neither one of us is a huge pepper fan - but we decided to try it anyway.

This is a very simple recipe. Here is the original at PetitChefTeriyaki chicken with bell peppers and tomatoes. The main parts are the peppers, tomatoes, and onion, and I think, honestly, you don't need the chicken at all, though, of course, it is a source of protein and is a nice way to stretch out meat if you are low (we only had one chicken breast left in the freezer). 

The peppers I used were a mix of unidentifiable red peppers, green bell peppers, and a new one to me, the candy cane pepper. All were sweet, including the candy cane, which I think is a bizarre name for this pepper, despite its stripes. They're vertical stripes, not spiral, and the flavor is not minty. 

As for the sauce, I simplified this because it turned out that I didn't have all of the ingredients on hand. I used soy sauce, mirin (in place of the red wine), and garlic powder. I honestly can't remember now if I used ground ginger or not. I think we may have been out.

We served this over white rice. The flavor was delicious! Which we both found a bit surprising for, as I said, neither of us are big on peppers. I would make this again. Peppers are nutritious with a variety of vitamins. And I have three tubs of peppers still in my freezer. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Making Blueberry Coffee Cake Allergy- and Vegan-friendly

Here is the recipe I used from the Food Network for Blueberry Coffee Cake. But, of course, you have to make substitutions, and I will show you how to make this very un-vegan friendly coffee cake into one almost anyone can enjoy.

Ingredients that need substituting:
  • 5 tablespoons salted butter
I used Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks. They are much easier to measure out than from the tubs, but be warned - they melt fast!! I was baking in the summer, we don't have central air conditioning in our house, and the oven was preheating, so the kitchen was freaking hot. Even so, I was surprised to see the sticks melt on the counter before my eyes. And wow, is it ever buttery in flavor! Here is a good blog review at Go Dairy Free of the Earth Balance buttery sticks.
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
Ok, I like to take a short cut here and use gluten-free baking mix. I am far more likely to use a baking mix, which is pretty versatile and time-saving, than flour these days. Not all GF baking mix is created equal, though, so if you also need it to be vegan, check the ingredients list. Making your own GF baking mix can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. And, of course, for this recipe you can just use GF flour and baking powder!
  • 1 large egg
The egg substitute we usually use in this household is 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed and 3 tablespoons of cold water. A tablespoon of ground chia seeds and 3 tablespoons of cold water should also work. I like keeping chia seeds around because they are easy to add to smoothies to thicken them as well as add nutrients. 
  • 3/4 cups whole milk
My favorite cow milk substitute is unsweetened vanilla almond milk, preferably Almond Breeze. I find the vanilla flavor especially nice in baking.

I (and my mother) used to make blueberry coffee cake a lot while living in Southwest Michigan because so many blueberries are grown there. (Michigan is the third largest producer of blueberries in the US.) We usually picked them ourselves, too. Leduc of Paw Paw is my mother's favorite local farm, but there are several in the area, though many have been lost to housing and commercial developments. 

On a parting note, I want to leave a link to this Ultimate Vegan Baking Cheat Sheet. I have mixed feelings about PETA, but the substitution list is legit and helpful for food allergies in addition to vegan eating. 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Our Elders Love Ice Cream, A Food Poem

Today I have been working at Cream & Crumb in Ypsilanti's historic Depot Town. It's a great little coffee shop/ice cream parlor with tasty treats, and it was sure hopping earlier! I don't know what group was out and about, but this place was filled with retirees all anxious to get a dish or a cone of ice cream. Some cried for a cup of coffee, but mostly, the ice cream was the main attraction. I wrote a poem about it! I will be back in two weeks with a more substantial food update. Life has been pretty busy for me. Check out Life From A2 for updates on how.

Our Elders Love Ice Cream

In and out
Busy busy
Our elders love ice cream

Dancing and bouncing
Clustered in line
Gray, curling, or no hair at all

Our elders love ice cream

Thursday, August 16, 2018

From Our Garden

One of the things that excited me most about buying a house was having the space to plant a bigger garden! (When Greg and I first moved in together, we were in an apartment and had a balcony garden.) And since the backyard of the house we ended up getting was huge and empty, we also decided to plant two apple trees, the first two years ago (a Pink Lady), and the second (a Fuji) last year. We already had a flourishing mulberry tree in the side yard, and also last year we added two blueberry bushes to the fruit mix. (The birds loved them! I got to try a couple berries, too. Sigh.)

This year, we have more than tripled the size of our original plot and put in a strawberry plant, which we had some luck with in the old balcony garden. There are also: red bell peppers, watermelons, collard greens, chocolate cherry tomatoes, eggplants, pumpkins, snack cucumbers, tomatillos, okra, basil, parsley, dill, and lemon catnip.

What will I make with all of these fine food stuffs? Not really sure yet. Greg seems pretty set on gumbo for the okra. He doesn't like seafood, though, so I don't think he'll be keen on my shrimp and okra gumbo. Back when he and I first moved in together, a bag of frozen sliced okra came with him, and I made Spanish Okra Over Rice, which I remember being pretty tasty, and we might just have enough okra for it soon. Our one plant is producing like crazy.

If you have suggestions for okra, please comment below!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A Summer Treat: No-Bake S'mores Bars

I am sure that I do not need to tell you that this summer has been HOT. And out little house, with no shade trees and no central air conditioning, has been difficult to keep comfortable. (Just ask any of our guests on Cinema Guano.) Thus my husband Greg and I have been minimizing use of our oven, and old gas-powered number that takes a minimum of 30 minutes to heat up on top of a 30+ minute cook time. 

So when I was coming up for fun things to make for Game Night, I decided to look up no-bake desserts online. I soon hit upon a delicious-looking option, Easy No-Bake S'Mores Bars from Turnip the Oven (follow the link for the recipe). I followed their recipe exactly, minus a gluten free flour substitution for their conventional whole wheat flour, which worked out perfectly. (Always check your ingredients to make sure they are all GF if a person in your party is particularly sensitive.)

As many pointed out (including Turnip the Oven), it tastes remarkably like raw cookie dough, and no wonder with the first three ingredients being butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract, which you beat together until light and fluffy. It's a lot like making no-bake cookie bars, which is to say spreading raw cookie dough into a baking pan, only no eggs. (If you are allergic to eggs, but love raw cookie dough, this could be a good fit for you.)

I feel I should warn you, in case you couldn't guess from the high amount of sugar called for, these bars are SWEET. So sweet - and rich - that I could barely finish my first one, but also so delicious that I had to try for a second later in the evening (and only got through half before giving up and splitting it with a friend). I used milk chocolate chips, which are obviously richer than, say, dark or semi-sweet chocolate, so if you are looking to cut a little bit of the sweetness, the type of chocolate you use is something to consider.

They were definitely a hit, and I would consider making these again for a large gathering (family reunion anyone?). It is also a simple recipe that could be played with. Colored marshmallows? Throw in some chopped up dried berries? Chopped nuts? Butterscotch or peanut butter chips? Have fun.

Incidentally, if you have an insufferable sweet tooth, you can try putting a scoop of ice cream on top of your bar like we did. So rich. So much sugar. I would actually not do that again, it was just too much for me.

Friday, July 6, 2018

My Favorite Zucchini Recipes

I love zucchini (aka courgette and summer squash). It's possibly my favorite vegetable. (Technically, zucchini is a fruit, but for culinary purposes, it is a vegetable.) We are growing zucchini in our garden, and my mouth is watering just thinking about all of the delicious dishes I can make with it when it's ready to be picked.

I have collected here some of my favorite things that I have made with zucchini and blogged about here. If you love zucchini like I do, give these recipes a try!


This is a delicious and filling vegetarian casserole that is perfect for summer, when produce can be bought at peak freshness from the farmers market or picked from your own garden.

8 eggs, little bit of milk, shredded zucchini, shredded Parmesan cheese, and a little bit of salt all add up to one delicious zucchini and Parm quiche.

Garlic, potatoes, mushrooms, and zucchini - yes, please!!

Perfect for both camping and when it's too hot to cook inside your house.

Great for breakfast or just because. This recipe comes from the I Quit Sugar diet. 

If you want to check out every blog post about zucchini that I have posted, click this link right here.