Friday, March 23, 2012

Brownie Bites

Normally, when my husband travels for work, I drop him off and pick him up at the airport.  It's always wonderful to be the first person to see him when he returns.  Today, though, I can't get away from work in time to get him.  Since I won't be able to greet him with a hug and kiss at the airport, I decided to bake him something sweet for when he arrives home to show him I love him.  These poppable bites are like little kisses of fudgy flavor.  The small size and use of Just Like Sugar, along with the sugar, also bring the calorie count down.

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Just Like Sugar (a sugar substitute)
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spritz a mini-muffin pan with non-stick buttery spray.
  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  • Distribute the brownie dough evenly in the mini-muffin pan.
  • Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Let cool in the pan for 2 minutes; then turn out onto a baking rack until completely cooled.
Makes 24 bites.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Vegan Split Pea Soup

I am constantly learning new and wonderful things about this Las Vegas community in which I've lived for nearly 11 years.  There's so much more to us than gambling and partying on the Strip.  We are a vibrant, passionate city full art and culture and a love of real food and real community.  An example of this is Vegas SOUP, a grassroots micro-grant program hosted by the Vegas Roots Community Garden (formerly the Tonopah Community Garden).  I had the privilege of attending the second Vegas SOUP dinner on March 18th, and it was a delicious and heartening event.

For a $10 donation, you get a dinner of soup and breads, and you get a vote. Community organizations present their projects, and dinner guests pick which one gets funding. Eat, listen, and vote.  We listened to four presentations that evening, and there were two winners.  The first place winner took home a grant of $400.  The second place winner walked away with a grant of $200.  Yeah... you figured it out; at $10 a pop, that place was packed!  Not only were the organizations inspiring, but the food was inspired.  We enjoyed an appetizer of Raw Tortilla Soup, made in a Vitamix right in front of our eyes.  The main course was Vegan Split Pea Soup, served with bread. As if the event's food and funding weren't enough, we received a lovely parting gift: a tree to plant AND the recipe for the split pea soup.  Talk about an hour and a half well spent!

I loved the soup so much that I stopped on the way home to pick up the ingredients and make my own batch that same night! The top picture is my version of the soup.  The bottom picture is the soup we enjoyed at the event.  As you can see, mine is quite a bit chunkier.  I also left the skins on the potatoes because there's great nutrition in them.  Either way you prepare it, you'll love the way it tastes. 

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (I used the jarred version.)
  • 2 cups dried split peas
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 7 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock (I used half water and half organic vegetable stock.)
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 potatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons soy margarine

  • In a large pot over medium heat, sauté the oil, onion, bay leaf and garlic for 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.
  • Remove the bay leaf.
  • Add the peas and water/vegetable stock.
  • Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.
  • Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the carrots, celery, potatoes, parsley, basil, thyme, salt and pepper.
  • Simmer for another 30-40 minutes, or until the peas and vegetables are tender.
  • Add margarine and allow to melt.
  • Stir well and serve with fresh bread.
Serves 8

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spicy Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork

I saw the Pioneer Woman make this on the TODAY Show, and I figured it'd be a fun recipe to try for my husband.  I decided to make it on Saturday night when he was in between work trips, hoping to make our one evening together extra special.  I changed things up just a bit by using the slow cooker.  It took a bit longer, but the pork still tasted great.  I think, though, that I'll do it in the oven next time because I bet it'll look prettier... and maybe have a thicker sauce.

  • 1 whole large onion
  • 1 whole pork shoulder
  • 2 cans Dr. Pepper
  • 1 11-ounce can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Peel the onion and cut it into wedges.
  • Lay the wedges in the bottom of a large slower cooker, set on low.
  • Salt and pepper the pork roast and set it on top of the onions.
  • Pour the chipotle peppers and sauce over the roast.
  • Pour in the Dr. Pepper and the brown sugar, stirring to combine.
  • Cook for six to eight hours, turning the roast two or three times during the cooking.
  • Check the meat after six hours.  Use two forks to test pulling the meat off.  If it's not falling off, continuing slow cooking for another hour.

I served this on buttered, toasted buns with a side of veggie chips.  It was very tender.  The meat itself was not overly spicy; the heat and spice is contained in the sauce.  My husband apparently liked it quite a bit because he asked for a second sandwich!