Labor Day Camping!

We are going camping! Would be an exciting 4 day camping trip except that we are spending one of those days traveling back and attending my sister’s “wedding”. I’m hoping we can use this camping trip to unwind a little from the summer and the busyness of the past few weeks as back to school craziness begins.

I’d love to say I have lots of pics of all the great food we are bringing because I have spent the past two days preparing it all. However, the truth is I do not. And my menu is not overly exciting because of the travel day on Saturday (and the “wedding” food). We are going to try to grill some pizza on Sunday, though. We’ve talked about making some camping pizza a lot in the past and we are going to give it a go. I made a pizza crust recipe specific to be used on the grill (slightly more durable than a regular crust) and we will see how it travels and how our always extra hot grill handles it. Oh, and per the girl’s breakfast request we are having biscuits and gravy one morning. These girls love their biscuits and gravy. I’ve got a great biscuit recipe made with chickpea flour so grains for breakfast will not follow pizza from the night before. Also, I did have to make more lentil wraps to use as buns for our chicken apple sausages (still can’t see another hot dog!).

While I have no pictures from today or from camping prep I do have a beauty of a cake to share. Brian’s mom is coming camping with us and her birthday is the day after we return home. Naturally, it is my duty to make her a cake! For awhile now (I don’t make cakes nearly as often as I used to) I’ve been wanting to make a Boston Creme Pie. Not for me because I am not a fan of custard or pudding or things of that nature. You know who is, Brian! So this cake should be a goody for him and hopefully will be appreciated by his mom too. I used a Martha Stewart recipe for the cake and some other recipe for the custard. Since I don’t like custard I’ve never made pastry cream before but I totally nailed it on my first attempt! And the cake came out yummy and more spongy than I’m used to making.

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Hullo, beautiful! You can never go wrong with a cake topped in chocolate ganache (or sprinkles!). We are bringing this lovely thing camping so the rest of the trip is very light on desserts, no cookies or bars (but s’mores of course!). Here’s to hoping the cake still looks this pretty once we arrive. Boston Creme Pie, I’m glad we’ve become friends.

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I do Exist!

Hello, blog! Nice to see you again. I have not been on here in awhile, not because I haven’t been making lots of yummy food for the fam but for who knows why. We’ve been off our schedule recently which means we’ve all been pretty tired and some things just haven’t been getting done. It may be that we are just trying to fit ever last little thing into summer vacation that we can and not getting enough rest or it may be that things are changing outside and it’s dark earlier and not as light in the morning (eek! already!). Or maybe we are all just tired.

Anyways, during my blogging hiatus I’ve made a lot of previously mentioned foods. Sticking to the tried and trues: cauliflower lentil tacos, living phad thai, green detox soup, almond flour pancakes, and peanut butter and jelly. However, I have made some rather exciting things in the past few days.

For breakfast this week the girls and Brian had this beautiful oatmeal bowl:

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Steel cut carrot cake oatmeal based off this recipe. It had shredded carrots, raisins, walnuts, and maple syrup cooked into it. I like to make my steel-cut oats with a mix of other things as well like millet, farro, and quinoa. We like the texture of the mixed porridge.

Last night we had broccoli and green bean veggie bowls with baba ghanoush on top. I’ve made baba ghanoush in the past but this recipe yielded much better overall flavor (except if you are the girls, they still didn’t like it). These bowls had so much goodness in them. The broccoli and green beans were roasted with coconut oil and curry powder and then we put that on top of sauteed onions, garlic, spinach, and purple cabbage. Plant power!

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Oh, and chickpeas, how could I forget those! Love me some chickpeas. Baba ghanoush (in case you don’t know) is a dip made from roasted eggplant. Similar in ingredients to hummus except instead of chickpeas you use the inside of a roasted eggplant. The mix of flavors was spot on!

Last week the girls watched Rachael Ray make a chicken pot pie and requested that as a menu item. We’ve had a little too much meat recently (dinner guests and the grill= meat) so I made an all veggie version. Look at all these veggies going into this pot pie:

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If I can even remember everything that went in: cauliflower, asparagus, yellow squash, onions and garlic, peas, and kale. No bottom crust for this pot pie, but I wish there had been one. I used a grain-free crust for the top made with almond and coconut flour. My hubby who is not really the crust lover (that’s me!) was trying to take a whole chunk off another piece to eat (with his hand, no less!). Must be a winner.

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We had side salads with the pot pie and the salad topper you see there is the last bit of baba ghanoush. Soon the seasons will be changing and side salads won’t be eaten with every meal (I think) and I’ll actually have to cook a veggie accompaniment to the main meal. Our menus vary a lot based on the season and what’s fresh (or not). Salads are still a regular in my house during the winter but not a daily thing for the rest of the family instead we will transition to more cooked side vegetables.

Speaking of transitioning, we are going camping this weekend for the long weekend which pretty much leads into back to school. There is so much to do and not enough time to do it all! Even though we have a three-day weekend our camping trip is being segmented because my sister is getting married on Saturday. So we’ll go there for a night, come back for the wedding, and then go back out to the campsite. And as an added adventure Brian’s mom is coming camping with us. =) I’m feeling optimistic about the progress I’ve made so far but the day before is always a little wild with the final push to get us ready. The good news is we’ll only be gone for one night to start with so if I’ve forgotten something we’ll be back the very next day (there is a bright side!).

Enjoying my Girls

Yesterday the girls went to the dentist. Poor Izzy’s teeth are a mess and braces are definitely in her future. We took advantage of being in Tacoma on a sunny day and visited the Tacoma Nature Center. The place was really fun. We walked some trails, saw some turtles, and the girls played on a natural scapes playground. We finished our adventure with a picnic lunch alongside the beginning of the trail.

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I’m pretty lucky that I get to have lunch daily with these cuties. We packed carrots and cauliflower, grapes, yogurt with blackberries, and peanut butter balls. Once school starts I’m so going to miss this.

After all our outside time that morning you’d think the girls would be done but since it was such a nice day they wanted to run through the sprinkler. I got distracted being outside with them and came in to quick prep dinner. Dinner was going to be yellow squash pesto noodles which since there is no actual cooking required should have been a breeze to get on the table. I say should have because when I went to shred my yellow squash into noodles I found out it was much more like a winter squash than a summer squash. Meaning there were sizeable seeds inside and it needed to be peeled and cooked in order for us to eat it. Hmm… not quite the quick prep dinner I was hoping for. What to do, what to do? Well, I had some roasted cauliflower in the fridge so I changed dinner to roasted cauliflower, shredded carrot, and chicken pesto bowls.

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Homemade dairy-free pesto! This version was a little different since I used toasted walnuts and added some spinach. It’s been awhile since I made my own pesto and both girls noticed the difference immediately (read: didn’t love) from the store-bought variety they have become accustomed to (oops!). I loved the pesto and had some on my breakfast. Since there is no cheese the basil flavor comes through even more and I really like basil (and most other herbs!).

I am really relishing these last few lunches with both my girls. We had errands to do this morning but made it home in time for me to make salads to go along with the items I had hurriedly packed this morning just in case.

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These salads were so good loaded with veggies and next to them a hard-boiled egg, bean salad, and an apple.

Earlier this week I mentioned the girls requesting salads for this week’s menu. Lunch included both bean and greens salads so for snack I made fruit salad (Lexi’s request). The fruit salad has apples, nectarines, grapes, and blackberries. I drizzled a honey lemon dressing over the top and mix it all together. Fruit salad was topped a with a little yogurt and I baked up some homemade tortillas for little chips.

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Fruit salad is a big win. Homemade chips equally as good.

Last night’s dinner loss (i.e. yellow squash) was tonight’s dinner win. I cut and peeled the squash and roasted it. After a small break the veggie bowl made its way back into our lives. We grilled broccoli, okra, onions, and power greens to go with the squash. The bowls had barley at the bottom and were topped with a cherry tomato cilantro salsa. The salsa brought a fresh summer feel to the veggie bowls.

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Veggie bowls were a welcome change from all the raw salads we’ve been having. Cilantro salsa helped take these bowls from fall to summer. The squash did have me thinking ahead to fall and I can’t wait for veggie bowls to make a regular appearance on our menu.

Eggplant Burgers and Zucchini Bread Oatmeal

This morning I felt like making oatmeal. Not the kind you make from little packets, not even microwaving individual servings of oatmeal. I wanted to cook oatmeal on the stove. Weird, right? I gave the girls two choices: apple pie oatmeal or zucchini bread oatmeal. The unanimous choice was zucchini bread oatmeal. Yay! I’m all about eating veggies with breakfast (and I do pretty much everyday).

The oatmeal has zucchini, chia, lots of cinnamon, pecans, and raisins cooked into it. It really doesn’t take too long to make and was a real hit with the family. It smelled amazing cooking and I couldn’t stop sneaking spoonfuls!

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We added chocolate chips because zucchini and chocolate chips just go together.

After breakfast I packed up leftovers from yesterday and we headed out for a family bike ride. Since the girls are young family bike rides are short. However, we are at a brief stage where Brian and I can actually ride our bikes while Lexi rides with her training wheels and Izzy continues to improve on two wheels. It’s been years since I have been able to get on my bike and ride with them because it seems we are always at a stage where someone is learning. Next year it will be Lexi’s turn to learn on two wheels so I’m trying to fit in my bike riding time during this short season.

We had a nice sunny day and grilling on Sunday seemed like a good choice. I’d bought an eggplant to make these burgers. It’s one of those rare eggplant burger recipes out there that doesn’t require you to add meat. Hello! I’m making eggplant burgers I do not want eggplant on top of my regular burger! I modified the recipe to use sunflower seed meal in place of breadcrumbs. They cooked up beautifully on the grill, nice and crisp.

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We topped the eggplant burgers with hummus, onions and tomatoes. Next to our burgers we had grilled corn and chard. There were lots of ooohhh and ahhhs about this dinner. Lexi even finished hers in a regular amount of time, including the chard. Chard is my current obsession. I wish I had bunches and bunches of the stuff. I’ve been stealing leaves to use in my salad all week and would love to have eaten an entire plateful. We tried really hard to figure out what else I could grill after dinner but came up short. By the time I was committed to something (apple and blackberry cobbler) the temperature was already too low. Oh well, no cobbler tonight! But likely another peanut butter chocolate lettuce wrap. Yum!

Saturday – Low Key

Saturday was not very eventful. It has been awhile since we have been at home on Saturday with nowhere to go so we focused on accomplishing some things. Brian worked on the trailer, I mowed the lawn. The girls and I took a walk and played with the neighbors. I attempted to plan out the next few weeks with summer coming to a close and our upcoming end of summer camping trip followed by the start of school. On the night of the first day of school we have a little family celebration where the girls get to pick what we have for dinner and dessert. So far they haven’t come up with any ideas. I’m just waiting for the macaroni and cheese card to be played.

Dinner was not too different from what I’ve been making recently and I almost didn’t take a picture to share. However, when I sat down to eat I was struck by how pretty our plates were, filled with plant-based food.

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We ate speedy three bean salad, lettuce salad, zucchini bites (they were like little zucchini tater tots!!), and slices of baked potato. During lunch I had asked the girls if there was anything they wanted on our menu plan for the weekend. Their responses were salad and bean salad. Ok then!

Here’s what I had for an after dinner snack:

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Why yes, that is peanut butter and melted chocolate on lettuce! It was so good! You can’t go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate. Put it on anything and you are good to go. The lettuce adds crunch without the additional fullness of say a wrap or toast.

Outdoor Movie Fun

My lentil loaf dinner from the other day turned out to be a delicious consolation prize. God is good and my plans not working out was for the better since Brian had worked in the middle of the night and would have been very tired during our date night. It’s the same things I’m always telling my girls, you don’t know what I have planned so don’t be disappointed. And so God is continually reminding me of the same. Well, with my consolation lentil loaf dinner we had side salads and roasted yellow beans. Can I just say I would eat a mounding plateful of roasted green or yellow or purple beans if it was acceptable. Seriously, I didn’t want to share the yellow beans, they were so good.

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Lentil loaf is a favorite in our house. This version is adapted from Oh She Glows and has toasted walnuts, almond meal, celery, broccoli, onions, and garlic in it. Additional yum comes from the apple balsamic glaze on top and yep more onions.

Tonight’s dinner is tortilla soup. It’s one of those soups I didn’t have growing up and so coming into it late in the game I could eat it a lot. Our version is made with beans and vegetables instead of the traditional chicken. My favorite part is topping the bowls with the little extras: avocado, chips, lime juice, cilantro, more spices. I’ve tried a few different tortilla soup recipes and don’t have one that I prefer exclusively over the others. As long as the cumin and chili powder spice is there mixed with some vegetables, tomatoes, and broth I’m in.

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We attempted an early dinner because we are going to see an outdoor movie in the park (c’mon no rain!). There will be concessions but if you’ve been following me for any amount of time you know we will be bringing our own snacks. For the festivities I made some popcorn to mix in with out leftover baseball game popcorn (uh huh, I’m the mom that saves stuff like that) and cookies! I am having a love affair with cookies. I used to be a cake kinda gal and cookies on occasion but I’ve found it so much easier to make a healthy cookie so I’m all about the cookies. No bake cookies, raw cookies, cookie bars it’s all good. I pulled out an oldie but goodie recipe that I haven’ t made in probably a year. This recipe is so simple and I totally underestimate the simplicity. Almond meal/flour, coconut oil, honey, sea salt, chocolate chips. Done! That’s it! For these cookies I did elaborate on the add-ins with chickpeas and a small section with butterscotch chips and sprinkles (the girls will go gaga over that!). I’m also bringing carrots and peanut butter since I did a longer run this afternoon and don’t want to be hungry and tempted to eat so much popcorn.

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Not As Planned

I am on a streak. A streak of things not going as I hoped they would. Time to adjust my expectations? Possibly. Little things not going as planned are an inevitable part of life (I keep telling Isabelle the same, she is so much like me). It gets a little sticky when little thing after little thing keeps getting messed up. What I try to remember is that my life is pretty darn amazing if i can stress the little things, so I should not stress the little things! That being said disappointment is disappointment no matter how small.

Brian and I planned on finally using a restaurant voucher that we got for Christmas tomorrow night. We had his mom lined up to be with the kids and I was very, very excited to finally get to go with Brian out to this amazing restaurant. We originally planned the outing for May but life got in the way and we rescheduled to this Thursday. Well, we may have rescheduled it on our calendar but when we called to schedule it on the restaurant’s calendar they had no tables for tomorrow! A Thursday evening and no tables?! What?! So no dinner out with the hubby tomorrow and I’m pretty bummed about it.

As a consolation we will be eating the lentil loaf I intended on cooking for dinner tonight (it better be some very good lentil loaf to console me). The recipe is from Oh She Glows. I’ve made it in the past and it usually is pretty delish. Unfortunately, unlike meatloaf it does take some extra prep work. That’s what I did this afternoon, prepped it so we could enjoy it tonight for dinner. I was feeling so on top of it for having it all ready and in the pan to pop in the oven this evening. The girls and I were just going to go to the store and pick out a new outfit for each of them for back to school and be back in time to cook up the lentil loaf. I had hoped to have a somewhat early dinner so everyone could go to bed early tonight. But then, we didn’t get home from shopping until 6! Lentil loaf takes an hour to cook, that is not an early to dinner and bed. I improvised (actually, I improvised after being unhappy about the late hour and still unhappy to be missing out on my outing tomorrow and realizing that instead of goey cheese and chocolate I’d be eating lentil loaf). What can I make that is fast?! Eggs, that’s what came to mind.

Breakfast for dinner is fun, right? Breakfast for dinner is fast (in theory). I made scrambled eggs with spinach and onions topped with a tomato, cucumber, carrot, radish, and oil salad and hummus. To go along with the eggs I made a speedy (see: microwaved to warm/soften and broiled to add the crunch) apple oat crumble (less sweet more breakfasty).

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As you can imagine the breakfast version of apple crumble was gobbled up immediately and the eggs were good too. All’s well that ends well; however, you can be sure that we’ve already made reservations for next week for our dinner out and I’m sure I’ll be happy tomorrow that my lentil loaf is prepped and just needs to be baked.

No Toast French Toast

French toast, a kids favorite. I have very fond memories of eating french toast for breakfast as a kid and it was a regular on our breakfast rotation in times past. Nowadays the girls will randomly suggest it for breakfast but I often shut it down so we don’t start the day off on a bad note (see: tummyaches before lunch!). I wondered if there was a way I could make french toast without actually using toast and I stumbled upon a Pinterest pin for squash french toast. It’s basically zucchini pancakes but with cinnamon and vanilla to up the french toastness of it.

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The girls called it pancakes but they did really like it. The egg and cinnamon really do add to the french toast flavor even if it doesn’t look like french toast.

For lunch we had vegetable tacos. Cauliflower, broccoli, onions, and peppers with taco seasonings. We ate these in lettuce with a side of lentils and some mango.

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Lunch love! The girls managed to eat these without making a huge mess and Lexi was convinced she needed more.

Over the weekend we camped for one night in Yakima. Since we were in eastern Washington there was a no campfire burn ban in effect. Nobody really talked about s’mores but on our drive home the girls kept playing that they were making s’mores and marshmallows for their toys. I think they realized they had missed out on some camping s’mores. Since then, I’d been thinking how we could recreate them at home (and no, not in the microwave). I searched my recipes and found this for peanut butter s’more bites. It’s marshmallows cut in half, spread with peanut butter, and dipped in chocolate. I coated our bites with actual graham cracker crumbs.

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In addition, I made some apples the same way. These were tasty but maybe a little too indulgent. I guess that is what s’mores are all about.

Tonight was girls only dinner. Brian got Mariners baseball tickets from work so he ate dinner there. It’s been a little while since we had a girls only dinner and nobody had ideas of what they wanted. Eventually, we came up with chicken nuggets. Not just any chicken nuggets, homemade chicken nuggets! The chicken nuggets are coated with almond and walnut meal, flax seeds, and some herbs. Also they were baked and not fried.

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Since I was baking the chicken nuggets I made some kale chips to go with it. Raw vegetables rounded out dinner. The girls have finally come around to homemade chicken nuggets! They used to not really like my homemade ones and preferred the store-bought junk filled kind (story of just about everything!). The less I feed them that stuff the more they come around to the homemade stuff. Macaroni and cheese, though, that is a battle I may never win. Kids and their love for chicken nuggets, macaroni, and french toast. What’s with it?!

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

The girls and I went to the Tacoma Rainiers game today. We’ve been waiting for a day game that worked for our schedule all summer and today was the day! I love watching baseball! It’s more of an outing for me that the girls can have fun at too. The game was at 11:35 am so there was no way around lunching at the game.

Before we could go anywhere we had banana nut porridge for breakfast. There are very few ingredients in this porridge. Some soaked nuts, a banana, almond milk, and cinnamon. All that gets processed in the food processor until smooth and then warmed up. While it’s warming the porridge thickens up a bit.

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This breakfast tasted similar to cream of wheat (in texture too) but it was wheat free (yay!). The girls liked it and I like that the recipe makes enough for two days worth of breakfast. So we started the day off right in anticipation of the goodies we would get at the game.

As I said, being an 11:35 game, there was no way around eating lunch at the stadium.

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Here’s the girls with their “main” portion of lunch. Lexi had a bunless hotdog and Izzy got the best deal in the park, a beef taco (fresh lettuce, cheese, salsa that they put on right in front of you!) for $2.50. Seriously, they sell anything in the stadium for $2.50?! It looked amazing but I didn’t get a bite so I’ll take her word that it was good. I snuck in (yep, I’m a rebel) an apple and a small bag of raw veggies. It’s not like there is anywhere you can purchase those items in the park. In addition, we snacked on popcorn and peanuts (peanuts were my lunch, ha, that’s how many I ate). Popcorn was crazy salty and we could only get through half of it. It also is what I believe did in Lexi’s tummy. She had a slight tummyache when we got home.

For dinner we did a repeat of tuna salads from last week. There was a little wild caught tuna leftover from last week so I added that and some avocado with pretty much the same stuff as before. Nobody minded the repeat since it was so yummy the first time. Plus, with Lexi’s tummy and our baseball food, salad seemed like the best option. Raw food helps heal the tummy.

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Sadly, that is all the wild caught tuna we have so we won’t be experiencing the yumminess of this salad again in the near future. Do you think I will be more inspired this week to make something other than salad for my family? I’m not sure, I don’t have a meal plan yet but in the morning I am going to try my hand at french “toast” with no toast and squash instead. We will see if it is kid approved or not. Seems like not, but since going mostly grain free the girls are much more open to my kitchen creations. Squash french toast, oh yes I’m going there!

The Wonders of Cauliflower Rice

Last day of vacation bible school today meant that I got to have both girls home for lunch. Yay! Lexi requested peanut butter and jelly. To up the satiety of these “sandwiches” I added smashed chickpeas to the peanut butter. Chickpeas and peanut butter are meant to be! The chickpeas disappear into the peanut butter but add an additional protein boost and fullness. I’ve been known to mix the two together and add a few chocolate chips for a sweet protein snack. Mmmm!

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Next to their “sandwiches” they had carrots and peaches. I don’t know if it was the chickpeas or just lunch at home but both girls talked about how amazing lunch was today.

So I had a duh moment today regarding dinner. We are big fans of cauliflower rice (i.e. shredding cauliflower in the food processor until it resembles rice and then cooking briefly). My go-to with cauliflower rice is fried rice, which is delicious and versatile. I’ve also made Mexican cauliflower rice with good result. However, it never occurred to me that I could make paella with cauliflower rice. I’ve been missing out!! I love paella, my family loves paella. During college I spent a month in Spain and grew very fond of paella. I later began making it at home to recreate my memories of eating the magnificent dish . It is one of those dishes that I basically chalked up to a very rare to never indulgence because the base is grains. How could I not realize that cauliflower rice would make paella?! And boy did it! I told the family it was paella never mentioning the cauliflower part and nobody questioned me. It was so good and very paella like. The recipe was for seafood paella but since we had tuna salads earlier this week we were over seafood. This paella was vegan! It had onions, garlic, tomatoes, mixed colored peppers, yellow squash, peas, artichoke hearts, and wilted super greens. Just as good.

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Cauliflower rice paella, where have you been these past few years?! You bet this meal will be seen again. I’m ecstatic about the paella breakthrough (cauliflower rice, can’t believe I didn’t think of that!).

To finish up my weekend prep I made chocolate chili cranberry cookies to bring on our adventure as a treat. These cookies have a secret. They are hiding a very special and unique ingredient. First off, let me tell you there is absolutely no flour in these cookies or nuts. They are sweetened with honey, dark chocolate chunks (72% cacao), and dried cranberries.

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They are beautiful dark chocolate cookies with a hint of spiciness from adding cayenne pepper (I love spicy with my chocolate!). And the secret ingredient and base for these cookies is……..black beans!! Yeah it seemed weird processing them up with cocoa powder in the food processor. Once they are combined with the other ingredients you don’t even notice the beans at all. After they are cooked and cooled they are soft and don’t have any remaining bean flavor. Seriously, black bean cookies?! And seriously, delicious black bean cookies?! Oh yes, I did do that (well someone else did, I just followed their directions). As I said with the thumbprint cookies these are very satisfying because, well, they are made with beans and therefore have a lot of sustenance to them.

Quite the cooking day for me. Cauliflower rice paella and black bean chocolate cookies. Ha, ha happy Friday!