not mom’s chocolate pudding

Tomorrow is my 20th college reunion. Twenty years, that’s crazy. It feels more like eight, maybe ten, but no way twenty years! When I think back to meals in college a few in particular stand out; chicken ‘n cheese from Paulie’s, pizza from G & G’s, beers on North Ave. (yes once upon a time that could have constituted a meal) and of course fries and gravy at the Thru-Way Diner. Oh yeah, those were our “glory days” of unhealthy, unbridled and unapologetic pleasures.

Flash forward twenty years and I couldn’t, wouldn’t even imagine subsisting on such a diet. The very thought of it gives me heartburn! But I suppose there’s a time and a place for everything. Now I’m more about trying to eat and feed my family as much healthy and unprocessed food as possible, which leads me to this weeks post… I recently started testing some recipes for Clean Eating Magazine and I currently happen to have some ingredients in my kitchen that I wouldn’t ordinarily have. Two of which are arrowroot powder and a carton of unsweetened coconut milk. Not wanting perfectly fine ingredients to go to waste I did a bit of research and decided to try making dairy-free, gluten-free (and if I’m correct, Paleo) chocolate pudding. Arrowroot powder is a naturally gluten-free thickener (similar to cornstarch) and coconut milk can stand in for dairy in many recipes. I figured it was worth a shot, any dessert with honey and dark cocoa powder in the ingredient list couldn’t possibly taste all that terrible. Right?!? As it would turn out, at the same time I was contemplating making this out of the ordinary creation both of my children came down with strep throat. In my mind sick kids always need something chocolatey to make them feel better, so off I went to make a batch of “chocolate pudding”.

So how’d it come out… The kids liked it and I ate two bowls myself, but it wasn’t the rich and indulgent dessert you equate with homemade chocolate pudding. It was creamy and it was chocolatey, but it wasn’t soul-satisfying. If you’re not eating gluten-free, dairy-free or a Paleo diet, then feel free to skip this recipe and go make yourself (and your kids) some good ‘ol fashioned chocolate pudding. However if your diet is more limited (or cleaner) than ours, then by all means give this one a try. This pudding won’t be like Mom’s, but it won’t be all that terrible either.

Dairy-free Gluten-free Dark Chocolate Pudding
Adding whipped cream (dairy-free or regular) is entirely optional, but I thought it helped make the dessert seem a bit more traditional and decadent.

arrowroot choc pudding

1/2 cup arrowroot powder
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
4 cups unsweetened coconut milk (or almond milk)
2/3 cup honey (raw if possible)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
whipped cream (non-dairy or regular), optional

  1. In a medium saucepan whisk together the arrowroot powder and cocoa powder. Add the coconut milk and stir until all the lumps are gone.
  2. Place the pan over medium heat, add the honey and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or until thickened. (The pudding will stay pretty liquid for the first 9 minutes then suddenly it will thicken up.)
  3. Once thickened, remove from heat and add the vanilla. Stir to incorporate and pour into individual serving dishes.
  4. Allow to cool on the counter for 20 minutes before placing in the refrigerator to set and cool the remainder of the way. Serve with a little whipped cream and enjoy!

*adapted from food renegade

little loves lemonade

My husband and I hold a garage sale every year and last weekend lemonade standwas it. At past sales we’ve sold everything from bikes and bassinets to the kids barely broken in winter boots and a first generation iMac. We’ve become something like pros at hawking our junk and keen negotiators with the hard-core pickers always looking for the best price. But this last sale was unlike any other we’ve ever held in that the kids decided to participate. How… with a good ol’ fashioned lemonade stand of course!

My little loves (that’s them at their stand) sold cups of homemade lemonade and mini chocolate-chocolate chip muffins to nearly everyone who visited our sale, not to mention a few unsuspecting individuals just out for a walk. They worked hard promoting their product and played the cute kid card big time— it totally payed off for them. Their little enterprise was such a huge success that not only did they sell out of 4 gallons of homemade lemonade and 48 mini muffins, but they did so way before the garage sale was over! Not everyone bought from us, but almost everyone bought from them.

So if you’re contemplating a garage sale over the next few months I highly recommend encouraging the kids to run a lemonade stand as well. And if you’ve got some Amway products, Girl Scout cookies or a little Avon you’re looking to move fast, I just may have the salespeople for you!

Classic Homemade Lemonade
This is lemonade is super easy to make and tastes nothing like the powdered stuff in a can. Give it a try once and I promise you’ll never go back!

lemonade2

Lemonade
2 cups simple syrup (see recipe below)
2 cups fresh lemon juice* (about 12 lemons)
4 cups water

  1. In a large pitcher stir together the fresh juice and simple syrup. Add the water, tasting as you go, until the lemonade is as sweet/tart as you like it.
  2. Serve in tall glasses garnished with a sprig of mint or a slice of fresh lemon and enjoy.

Simple Syrup
2 cups water
2 cups sugar

  1. Add the water and sugar to a pan and heat. Stir frequently, until sugar fully dissolves and the syrup becomes clear, about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Let cool and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

*When lemons are on sale I buy and squeeze enough for 2 cups of juice, but when they’re not I use half fresh juice and half bottled. It’s slightly less amazing than entirely fresh squeezed, but still miles better than the “just add water” canned stuff.

*adapted from whats cooking america

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins
These mini muffins are truly the perfect one bite chocolate fix. However the same recipe can be used for full sized muffins, simply adjust the baking time.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tbsp. red wine
1 tsp. vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and mini chips in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the egg, water, oil, wine and vanilla. Add oil mixture to flour mixture and stir until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  3. Place the liners in the muffin pan and lightly coat with cooking spray. Add a dollop of batter to each prepared muffin cup and sprinkle a few mini chips on the top of each.
  4. Bake mini muffins for 12-14 minutes (full size for 18-22 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire rack.

*adapted from cooking light

chocolate + nutella = love

A few weeks ago my son had a lesson on Cinquain Poems at school. He was so taken with the project that he came home and decided to compile an entire book of poems. Most of the poems revolved around food (he is the son of a food blogger after all) and this one was my favorite:

Pizza.
Very tasty.
Cook it well.
It is very greasy.
Pepperoni.

I was so inspired by his poetry that I decided to write a few Cinquain Poems of my own. I hope you enjoy them and I wish you the sweetest of Valentine’s Day’s!

Chocolate,
My weakness.
Dark or nothing.
Don’t think I’ll share.
Delicious.

Valentine,
My love.
You’re the one
That makes me smile.
Chocolate.

Cookies.
Plum out.
Wanna bake some?
Let them cool down.
Crumbs.

Chocolate + Nutella Shortbread Sandwich Cookies
If you have a special valentine and they happen to love chocolate and hazelnut, then you absolutely must bake them a batch of these. They’ll love you forever!

hearts5

2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 small jar homemade Nutella (or store-bought)

  1. In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix confectioners’ sugar, butter, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt on medium low speed until creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour one cup at a time. Continue to mix on low until the flour is completely integrated.
  2. Form the dough into a ball (it will be a bit dry) and divide in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap, flatten into a disc and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  4. Take out the dough, sandwich between plastic wrap and use a rolling pin to roll it to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out cookies with a cookie cutter and place on baking sheets. Bake 8 minutes, or until firm.
  5. Repeat with remaining dough but cut the centers out of the second batch, making sure you have equal numbers of tops and bottoms. (If dough becomes too soft pop it back in fridge for a few minutes to firm up.) Let the baked cookies cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.
  6. Once cookies have fully cooled spread a thin layer of Nutella onto each of the cookie bottoms. Sandwich together with the top cookies and serve or chill for a later date.