That probably says more about me than I should really reveal, but that’s how I feel about it. I like sexy, not slutty. I like covert, not overt. Serving bananas like that is just too obvious! For me! So I’m going to take overt down a notch.
semi-sweet chocolate if you have it
solid oil like coconut, palm shortening or even cocoa butter (food grade) if you have it
honey or agave nectar
toppings of choice like:
nuts or seeds
leftover chocolate chips
“Lean to the left, lean to the right, peel your banana and….cut into pieces!” You know you remember that cheer!
Place your sticks in now if you’re using them and place pieces on a parchment or foil- lined plate or cookie sheet and freeze for at least 30 minutes.
Melt your chocolate in a double boiler. Just put a bowl over a small saucepan filled with water. Let the water come to a low boil.
If you are using cocoa, melt two tablespoons of your hard oil (I had coconut) in the microwave in a bowl. Add two tablespoons of cocoa powder and one tablespoon of honey or agave nectar. Stir until smooth.
Coat bananas in chocolate once. Let cool. Coat again, then immediately roll in topping of your choice. Put pieces back in the freezer. Put the frozen treats in an airtight container if they are not going to be devoured in one sitting.
I have mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day. It’s history is not very sexy. The commercialism is ridiculous. And how are you gonna express ALL of your love for someone in ONE day with a measly, poor quality, store bought box of chocolates? Or a meaningless card? Or a bland pre-frozen cake? Why are we letting a day on the calendar tell us when and how we should express love?
On the other hand, I’m aware that Valentine’s Day is just the reminder that some people need to show the one they love a little more appreciation. I knew an old man who hated holidays, but always celebrated Valentine’s Day because “everyone needs all the love they can get.” I totally agree with him on that!
So if you want with all your heart to participate in the holiday for your cutie, but don’t have enough green, this week is full of low cost ideas with a whole lotta heart!
Let’s start with the obvious: Chocolate!
I need chocolate sauce, and I’m not going to buy any. I don’t eat it that much, and the stuff in squeeze bottles in too junky! I have cocoa though, and I know that you can add an oil to it as a substitute for baking chocolate. I did a little more digging, and I found a few good recipes.
Drizzle this on a store bought cheesecake, homemade cookies, or various body parts. Just don’t limit it to February 14th.
I was inspired by Dana’s original recipe on her site MADE. I couldn’t have seen it at a better time. I had just gotten 4 pounds of broccoli on sale, and a BOGO bag of potatoes. I knew I would eventually tire of broccoli stir-fry and homemade potato chips, and this idea definitely fit the bill for variety.
It’s also super easy and quick! My version is vegan, and uses the ingredients I have on hand (like white beans instead of corn). I don’t buy commercial soup stocks, (there are too many chemicals and additives despite being overpriced!) so I have my own method of adding flavor to soups, without adding meat. If you run out or don’t happen to have any stock, you can use this method and still have a soup that’s flavorful.
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 pound potatoes (2 large or 3-4 medium)
1 pound broccoli (about 2 broccoli crowns)
1/3 cup flour
4 cups water
2 cups beans (I used white beans that I froze)
salt and pepper to taste
In your soup pot, saute your onions in your favorite oil or butter or both! Add your potatoes. Let them brown and start to stick to the bottom just a bit. Add your broccoli. Sprinkle your flour over the vegetables and toss to make sure the veggies are coated with the flour. Add your water, making sure to run your spoon over the bottom of the pot to release all of the crispy bits (flavor!). Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender. Should take about 10-15 mins. Add your beans and let them warm through. Season to taste.
Since it’s so easy to make, it may become a go-to recipe long after the holidays have past.
Acorn Squash Olive Oil Cake
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 cups cooked pureed acorn squash (roast in the oven cut in half 350 F for about 30 min)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
1/4 cup milk (set aside)
Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan (I used olive oil spray). In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine all of your wet ingredients, except for milk. Whisk your wet ingredients into your dry ones, making sure there are no dry streaks in the batter. Add in milk one tablespoon at a time if you need more liquid. Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 mins, or until cake is nicely browned and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for about 10 mins. Run a butter knife around the edge of the cake. Transfer cake to a wire rack, then place wire rack on top of the loaf pan (loaf pan stays right side up!) for the cake to cool completely.
With it’s sheer abundance during this time of year, potatoes belong on the holiday table. Everybody has their own way of fixing them. There’s everything from mashed potatoes to sweet potato and pecan casserole. You’ll have some sort of fancy spud before the end of the year.
I wanted to try something different. I tried a layered potato cake. It looked pretty, but it turned out too greasy for me. Then, I saw a method of slicing the potato in thin slivers not all the through the skin, and topping with a little olive oil. That worked great! So simple and easy. Top with some coarse salt and freshly cracked pepper and it looks so fantastic!
Next time, I’ll try a Potato Tian. Same concept with slices, but the presentation is taken up a notch.
That’s my picture, but it’s not my recipe. You can get it here. I like this one because it doesn’t use so many eggs, so much milk or cream, and it’s still so good! I did saute my corn with red onions and added some chili powder and cayenne pepper, but everything else I kept the same.
So…you’ve been mooching off other people all year and they are just sick of it. So they are eating at your house to eat up all your food! Or, you’ve been passing up social outings cause you can’t afford them and decided to redeem yourself. Or you are always the one to host holiday dinners and need to figure out how you’re going to do this AND stay in your budget.
Food is one of those many areas where we tend to let it all go. With three holidays in such close proximity, that’s alot of money! This feature is for recipes that stay in my 99 cents/pound or under rule. The food is cheap, but it doesn’t taste like it.
Winter squashes are great. They’re not only cheap, but very versatile. In my opinion, everyone needs a good butternut squash soup recipe. This one has fresh ginger and nutmeg. I use coconut milk for creaminess, but you can use whatever creamy liquid you like.
Butternut Squash Soup
2 tablespoons oil
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 small white onion, chopped
3 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
5 cups of water or stock (vegetable or chicken work fine)
1 cup of coconut milk (or whatever creamy liquid-evaporated milk, half and half, etc.)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
In your large soup pot, heat your oil on medium heat. Add your onions. Cook until they soften and are translucent. (If you don’t have any stock, let your onions cook down until they are golden brown and leave brown bits in the bottom of your pot. When you add the water, you de-glaze your pot and get all the flavor!)
Add your squash and your ginger and nutmeg. Toss to coat in the oil and onions. Add your water or stock, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook about 20-30 minutes or until squash is fork tender.
Remove from heat, and blend with a stick blender, or a regular blender in batches. Add your coconut milk and salt.
Serves 6 as a starter