Category Archives: Cookbooks

♥ In The Mood . . . For Cacao

Looking for something different this Valentine’s Day? How about whipping up an aphrodisiac in your kitchen blender for you and your beloved? Rest assured, no eye of newt is required for this love potion.

“What the h—?” you may be thinking. And rightfully so. Truth be told, I stumbled upon this recipe a couple of years ago and, of course, I was intrigued. How could I not be?

“You have to try it to believe it! Every ingredient in this beverage is an aphrodisiac designed by nature to enhance your senses. This elixir is a marriage of flavor with none overpowering the others. Don’t omit the salt; it is the spark that lights the fuse.”

Does it work? Hmmm . . . maybe. 🙂 It’s a tasty beverage nonetheless. And different. Different, but ‘good’ different. Be forewarned, though: this recipe makes 4 cups. Wow, that’s a whole lotta aphrodisiac!

♥     ♥     ♥

Cacao Aphrodisiac Elixir

Recipe from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Raw.

Ingredients:

1 cup raw almonds

2 3-inch cinnamon sticks

1/4 teaspoon whole cloves

6 green cardamom pods

1 Tablespoon ginger, minced

4 cups filtered water

4 dried Kalamata figs, soaked in 1 cup of filtered water

2 Tablespoons raw cacao powder

1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon rosewater

Pinch of salt  (I used Fleur De Sel)

Directions:

Place the almonds, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom pods, ginger, and 2 cups water in a blender. Blend, gradually going from low-speed to high-speed, for 20 seconds. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Rinse the blender well and return the spiced water to the blender.

Add the figs and the fig soak water, cacao powder, vanilla extract, rosewater, salt, and the remaining 2 cups water. Blend on low-speed for 20 to 30 more seconds or until the figs are well blended.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer again and serve.

Happy Valentine’s Day . . . don’t stay up too late. 😉

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♥ Turkish Spinach And Lentil Soup

Baby, it’s cold outside. I know I sound like a broken record, but we are still snow-less here at Lake Tahoe. If you ask me, the lack of snow hardly makes the freezing temperatures worthwhile.

I like winter for the simple fact that I am able to justify serving soup for dinner for days on end. I love soup. In fact, I could live on it year-round. It’s the ultimate comfort food, as far as I am concerned. There’s nothing better than a bowl full of hearty and belly warming soup after coming in from the cold.

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Turkish Spinach And Lentil Soup

Adapted from Sundays At Moosewood Restaurant

Ingredients:

1 cup dried lentils, rinsed

5 cups water

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 red onions, roughly chopped

4 medium carrots, chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

2 teaspoons dried rosemary

1 Tablespoon Mediterranean oregano

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, depending how spicy you want it

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 bay leaves

1/4 cup chopped parsley

2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

6 to 8 cups No-Chicken or vegetable broth (depending how thick you like it)

1 cup quinoa, soaked for 15 minutes and rinsed

1 16-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed

Directions:

Rinse the lentils and bring to a boil in the water. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes. Drain, rinse and set aside.

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onions and carrots until the onions just begin to soften. Add the garlic, oregano, rosemary, cumin, cayenne, sea salt and bay leaves. Cook for a few minutes, but don’t allow the garlic to brown.

Meanwhile, begin soaking the quinoa in water.

Add the parsley and the tomatoes; stir and cook a few minutes. Then stir in the tomato paste until blended.

Add the broth, the lentils and the drained quinoa to the tomato mixture and lower the heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes until the quinoa is cooked.

Add the spinach and cook another five minutes or so until the soup is heated throughout.

Serve with a side salad and crusty bread.

♥ It’s A Boy!

Meet Rock, our new greyt boy. Rock is short for Rockstarangelou, his name from a former life. Rock is now happily retired after 5 long years as a racing dog. Seriously, how adorable is he?!

Rock is adjusting well to his leisurely retirement. For the first time in his life, he knows soft comfy beds to rest on, his own toys to play with whenever he wants, and treats galore . . . just because. He will never spend another day locked in a cage again.

With every passing day, Rock emerges a little more from his shell. He’s so sweet and timid, but there is a loving and affectionate boy lurking just under the surface. It won’t be long before he is headbutting us for affection like his new greyt brother. Although, unlike his greyt brother, he is still a bit camera-shy.

If Rock could talk, I know that he would tell us that he much prefers walks along the trails and beaches to life at the track. Come to think of it, who wouldn’t?

The beach at Tahoe Keys.

In fact, we’re all enjoying the best thing about autumn in Tahoe: beaches devoid of tourists.

Kiva Beach.

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The one-week anniversary of a new forever home and a new best friend calls for a special kind of treat. Beside that, today is Halloween and dogs deserve treats, too. The ‘trick’ part is how fast these treats disappear!

Canine Cookies, made with unsweetened carob, from Hannah Kaminsky’s  Vegan Desserts are the boys’ new favorite treat. The greyhound shape is optional, but there seems to be a theme here . . .

After an action-packed day comes bedtime for the greyt boys. Retirement clearly does not suck.

♥ I Feel It In The Air

Okay, the summer is not quite out of reach yet, but the last few mornings I’ve been remembering one of the best songs (and videos) that I recall from my teen years (I’m showing my age here). If my life had a soundtrack, this song would definitely be on it.

I actually had to pull my fluffy robe out of the closet this morning.  The sun is setting earlier as each day passes and the mornings are coming later. With some regret, I’ve begun closing the windows at night before going to bed since the weatherman has issued freeze warnings this week. Freeze warnings. Before Labor Day. Big sigh.

As if the need for a warm robe in the mornings isn’t indicator enough, Music On The Beach held its last concert of the season last night. I think this free event is one of Tahoe’s best kept “secrets”. So, Thursday evenings, all summer long, we hauled our beach blanket, a bottle of wine and snacky foods to the shores of Lake Tahoe to enjoy a spectacular sunset.

And some fine music, too.

The music venue, clearly, did not suck. Did I mention it was free?

Our favorite portable picnic dinner is Chicken-Out Salad from Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook. There are variations of this recipe posted all over the web, so I won’t bother posting it here. But, I suggest omitting the salt and reducing the Vegenaise in the recipe. Folding halved red grapes into the salad makes it extra special. We like to “Chicken-Out” with assorted crackers, sliced vegetables and pita halves.

Lately, I’ve been perusing Middle Eastern cookbooks. I adapted this recipe from Secrets of Cooking: Armenian/Lebanese/Persian. This dip is a nice break from the usual hummus and it’s a perfect picnic snack with sliced veggies and plain rice crackers.

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Mouhamara (Red Pepper And Walnut Spread)

Ingredients:

2 cups walnut pieces

1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs

1/4 to 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 16-ounce jar roasted red bell peppers, drained

2 Tablespoons minced onion

1 large clove garlic, crushed

1 to 2 Tablespoons pomegranate concentrate* (I bought mine at Whole Foods)

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 to 2 Tablespoons pine nuts to garnish along with a drizzle of olive oil, if desired

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to mix. Finish mixing by hand for a coarse texture or continue to pulse for a finer texture.

Spread in a shallow serving dish and garnish with pine nuts, if desired.

*Note: Use less pomegranate concentrate if you prefer your Mouhamara a little less sweet.

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Fare thee well, summer. I miss you already.