Funk

We are eight days away from Christmas and I am one bag of Dum Dums suckers away from being DONE with my Christmas shopping.  Literally, I have to purchase a bag of suckers to fill the remaining space in my child’s stocking and then I can finally relax.

Well…relax is a relative term.

In my last post I was gushing about ice cube tray truffles and how easy and delicious they are.  I decided I would make a platter of them to take to my office Christmas luncheon, and while I was at the craft store for some other things I found this silicone gingerbread man treat mold.

gingerbread

I will admit now that I know NOTHING about using silicone molds.  I read the label on this particular one and it mentioned something about being freezable, so I thought, THIS WOULD MAKE THE CUTEST LITTLE TRUFFLES!

Unfortunately I’ll never know whether or not this mold produces the cutest little truffles.  The last batch I made didn’t set–at all–and I still don’t know which wrong turn I took that ruined them.  The first two batches I made using the ice cube trays turned out fabulous.  Here’s what I did differently with this latest batch:

  • I used the silicone treat mold rather than the ice cube tray
  • I used caramel sundae topping as filling instead of cookie butter
  • I used milk chocolate instead of semi-sweet chocolate
  • I thinned out the melted chocolate using rice milk instead of full-fat coconut milk

It could be any one of those things, or all of those things, and maybe someone can tell me but I should know better than to pretend to know what I’m doing when it comes to cooking.

In other kitchen-related news, I’ve been in a bit of a cooking funk lately.  Without being able to use dairy or eggs, paired with the world’s pickiest husband and a toddler who hates something today that she loved yesterday, it feels sometimes like we eat the same thing over and over.  I finally told my husband that once a week I’m going to cook something I know he won’t like, to try and mix it up a bit for me and Emily, and he can eat cereal on that night if he so chooses.  I’ve also been brainstorming my own recipes to try and break out of the funk.

On top of it all, I’m trying to eat a little healthier these days.  It was the wrong time of year to commit to such a crazy idea, but I am FIFTEEN pounds heavier now than I was before I got pregnant.  Some nights I consider serving bowls of frozen peas for dinner.  And yes, my daughter would eat that.

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The chocolate is strong with this one

My toddler is a true chocoholic, much like her mama.  On the one hand it’s great because who doesn’t like having a chocolate buddy, but on the other hand it poses a challenge because most things chocolate also contain dairy.

For dessert on Thanksgiving I tried out a 3-Ingredient Dairy Free Fudge from the Pretty Bee.  It didn’t set as well as I’d hoped but popping it in the freezer helped in a pinch.  Emily LOVED it.  The best part was that it took five minutes to prepare.

Last weekend I took it a step further and made ice cube tray truffles.  If you’ve never seen these, they’re little truffle-like candies you make using ice cube trays.  I studied a few different tutorials and combined the steps/methods from several of them, but in a nutshell here’s what I did.  I melted dairy-free chocolate over the stovetop and filled each “cube” of an ice cube tray about 1/3 of the way with the melted chocolate.  Then I dropped a small dollop (about 1-1.5 tsp) of cookie butter into each cube, and then I filled them the rest of the way with more chocolate.  I put them in the freezer for several hours and took them out to thaw about ten minutes before serving.

THEY.  WERE.  AMAZING.

Keep in mind it was pretty dark chocolate, being dairy-free and all, but Emily took one bite and immediately demanded more.  She ate two full ice-cube sized truffles and sobbed furiously when I cut her off because her bedtime was right around the corner.

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The truffles, like the fudge, were a five-minute project.  I’m going to make more this week to give out as Christmas gifts and I plan to fill them with a variety of things, like caramel sauce and almond butter.

Clearly I’ve spent a lot of time cooking with chocolate lately.  I’ve considered making some vegan sugar cookies to decorate for Christmas but I tend to ruin them even when they’re not vegan so I’m still on the fence.

As if cooking from scratch daily and working full time and being a rockstar allergy mom all wasn’t enough, I recently opened an Etsy shop and also launched the Idaho Food Fighters Facebook page.  My husband just got sucked back into the Candy Crush realm and I refuse to go down with him, so I’m trying to be more productive instead.  *Laughs maniacally as I drink another pot of coffee*

And is anyone else floored by the fact there are only 15 days left until Christmas?  My shopping is DONE (it’s a Christmas miracle!) but I still have to wrap everything….or rather, I still have to double-wrap everything because the toddler is anything but gentle with the gifts currently under the tree.

Hope you all have a great week ahead of you!  If you have any good vegan sugar cookie recipes, send them my way.  I promise I’ll try not to ruin them.

Dad’s Day

Yesterday I succeeded in helping my fiance’s son make some Father’s Day cheesecake brownies.  Today, I once again wore my baker’s hat so I could make my dad some of his own yummy treats.  My dad loves Heath candy bars and as luck would have it, my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (damn it, there I am plugging it again!) contains a recipe for chocolate toffee bars.

I’d like to say things went off without a hitch, but I did have a knock-down, drag-out fight with the crust.  I had originally lined the pan with aluminum foil, but when I scraped the batter dough into the pan, the foil slid and turned every time I tried to spread any of the dough.  I ended up taking out the foil and chiseling away the dough that was clinging on for dear life.  Once I had all of the dough in the unlined pan, things went a little more smoothly.  I let it bake for 15 minutes and then sprinkled it with chocolate chips.

The recipe advised leaving the chocolate chips for two minutes and then spreading the chocolate over the entirety of the crust.  At two minutes, they looked like they’d hardly softened at all.  But as soon as the spatula touched the chips, they magically transformed into chocolate frosting that spread beautifully over the crust.

All that was left was the pièce de résistance:  the chocolate-covered toffee pieces.  My dad’s lucky these survived the 20-minute drive to his house!

When we cut into them for dessert after the AMAZING ribs my mom cooked, something miraculous happened:  they didn’t stick to the pan…AT ALL!  For me, this is huge.  Also, slightly off topic, but–tonight I learned how to turn on a grill!  (Making fun of me is not allowed.)  I also learned why and how wood chips are used in grilling.  Now I just need to actually cook something on a grill.  That will be a squealing moment for sure.

To wrap up this post, I’ll share with you my other feat of the day.  I made some spicy red bean and corn soup that calls for a cup of chopped carrots.  Following the advice of the video I watched after my last carrot-chopping attempt, I managed to chop a carrot somewhat decently.  I still need practice, as chopping three small carrots took me at least a good five minutes–but things are looking up!