Extraordinarily long and delicious sandwich names

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Okay Peeps. Here are some interesting tidbits I’ve mentally noted over the last several weeks at work. They’re like… retail pet peeves and rules. Anyone who has ever worked in retail: you get this. Anyone who hasn’t… take mental notes!! Ha. I’m sure you’re a totally fab, contentious shopper though, right?? Right. As I thought (Otherwise we wouldn’t be cool internet friends, because I’m only friends with cool peeps).

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1. If I greet you all cheerfully three feet from the door, chirping, “HELLO! How are you doing today?”, the normal response is “Oh fine thanks, how are you?”. A normal response is NOT: a) staring blankly at me like I’m an alien; b) rudely ignoring me and walking the other way [look. I promise I won’t stalk you while you shop. I’m simply SAYING HELLO]; c) staring at me like I’m an alien for 5 seconds, and then tentatively asking, “Um.. do you work here?” … No. of course not. I just stand inside the doors of random retail establishments greeting people with a silly grin on my face. All day. For fun.

OF COURSE I work here. I also don’t fold massive stacks of pants or ring people up on the tills for funzies, so if I’m doing either of those things, pleeeeeease don’t ask me if I work here. Really. I do. I promise.

2. What is it about a freshly folded stack of whatever that just screams “I’M FRESHLY FOLDED! UNFOLD ME AND DUMP ME EVERYWHERE, INCLUDING THE FLOOR!”. WHY do people decide to rifle through the piles of freshly folded things when I am right there refolding?! You know, asking is awesome. I would be SO HAPPY to pull out that shirt for you, maintaining the crispness of my previous folding work, rather watch and seethe as the invasive hands come in and extricate the shirt third from the bottom, leaving the rest in questionable assorted piles.

3. Just because someone opens the door on their way out of the store after we’re closed, does SO not mean sneaking in to shop post-close is acceptable. It’s not. We’re CLOSED!! Closed does not equal private shop time. I have shit to fold, people! Remember all those nice looking piles?? Yep. Remembering is key since they soooo don’t look like that anymore.

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I do kind of laugh at all this, though… some of the weirdest stuff makes for the best stories anyway, so sometimes weird is good. But really. Retail. Oi. It is a beast unto itself.

Which is why I invented this:

To eat after a day of being stared at like an alien and asked if you work there elevendy billion times. Oh. And for those days when you dream of folding pants in your sleep…

So here is this epically fantastic sandwich that I made last night. For dinner. Because only really, really cool people eat this kind of thing for dinner. Aren’t you SO glad you’re friends with one?! Or at least we’re invisible internet friends. That’s a relief… otherwise, this might not exist in your life and then you’d be sad.

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Grilled Banana, Dark Chocolate and Pecan Butter Sandwiches

Clearly this needs a shorter name, but hoooomg I don’t care because it tastes so fantastic I needed to spell everything out for you. OH. And there’s coconut in there too, which obviously just makes everything amazing. This is in no way gluten free, vegan (hellloooo, butter) or savory, but hey. Life is all about moderation (and obvi subs can be made: olive oil or vegan butter, gf bread, etc).
I LOVE grilling sammies. They are SO much better that way. This recipe serves makes 2 messy, delicious sammies… I suggest eating them with someone who loves food, just like you!

  • 4 slices of sturdy whole grain bread
  • 4 tsp  good-quality salted butter
  • 8 tbsp chocolate pecan butter (recipe below)
  • 2-4 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut (Depending on how much you love coconut)
  • 4 tbsp dark chocolate (mine was 70%)
  • 1 banana

I’m going to assume you could figure this out, but just in case… Butter the outsides of two slices of bread, then flip one over and liberally spread 2 tbsp of pecan butter thoroughly over the side. Sprinkle coconut over it, then top with 1/2 a banana, thinly sliced, and 2 tbsp dark chocolate. Spread another 2 tbsp of pecan butter over the other unbuttered side of bread, then smoosh it all (carefully) together, butter sides out. Grill in a pan over medium-low heat until the outsides are perfectly browned (and a little burnt, if you’re me) and the insides are just perfectly melty. Repeat for a second sammie… then cut into triangles and indulge shamelessly.

Eat immediately. There will not be leftovers, obviously…

Chocolate Pecan Butter

Not too sweet, with the emphasis on pecans—think along the lines of almond butter. Gluten free, dairy free, paleo, vegan. Yaddayaddayada… let’s just say it’s delicious, mmk?! Yield: about 1 cup.

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  • 1.5 c raw pecans
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • a good hefty pinch of sea salt

Process pecans in a food processor until a butter starts forming—-you’ll probably need to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, to integrate the really blended and not-so-blended stuff. Keep processing until the butter is smoother, about 2-4 minutes, depending on the strength of your food processor. Add in cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt, and pulse to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning to your personal preference! Maple would be good here, if you wanted it sweeter.

Store in a sealed jar in the fridge for a week or two (assuming it lasts that long. Mine lasted 2 days, ha).

Things that are shockingly savory and also green

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Shut the front door.

I spy something savory!!

What. Shocking.

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Good thing I balanced it out with those awesome fudgy brownie cookies I mentioned in the last post. But actually, this is delicious. AND savory. You must feel like a proud parent. Additionally, this flatbread is stupid easy. As in like, whizzbangboomLUNCH. Which is awesome because as we know I don’t really like waiting for my food. Which is why I am mostly too lazy to make yeasted breads even though they’re delicious and not entirely difficult. I’m just impatient. Sigh. Story of my life.

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Anyway. Want to know what happens nearly every time I photograph something?

Actually, maybe you don’t.

But… too bad. I’m sharing anyway [my blog, ha]… Ready?

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I drop my camera in my food.

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For reals. Like a child. A clumsy one, at that. I swear, that camera has three years worth of blog food residue on it (EW GROSS I promise that isn’t true. I totally clean it off after I drop it. Like an adult. Ish.). But in the last few weeks it’s come into closer contact than I suppose it wishes with some really awesome guac, some flan (twice on the same photo shoot you ask?! Um yes. Welcome to my life), and most recently some cookies. No, I did NOT drop in in the flatbread. Ha. At least I am sort of winning at my own game… or not.

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So anyway. Make some of this deliciousness. I’m pretty sure no one is entirely positive where this originated… some say Egypt, the French say France, and no doubt the Italians say Italy. I don’t much care, as long as I can eat it. Mine is a little thicker than the variety you can find in France, which is more like a crepe, but I like it heartier because then I can get creative with what goes on it. I’ve made it once before, Italian-style (here, disregard mildly awful photography), but this one is my new favorite.

Besides that, I made an awesome green sauce to go with it. It’s like pesto, but lighter. And greener. Because, obviously.

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Mushroom and Rosemary Socca

Recipe inspired by Food 52, here! Serves 3, roughly, for an appetizer or a light lunch. Gluten free and vegan.

  • 1 c chickpea flour
  • 1 c water
  • 1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra [divided]
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ~1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • a good handful of white button mushrooms
  • 1 chunk of frozen basil, or a few good sized leaves, chiffonaded
  • a splash of good balsamic vinegar
  • a glug of avocado oil (or other high heat oil)

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In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, water, 1.5 tbsp olive oil, sea salt, and rosemary. Set aside for about 30 minutes, more or less is not a big deal.

Heat a bit of olive oil and basil in a sauté pan over medium. When oil is hot, sauté mushrooms until they begin to release their juices and turn that great shade of golden/brown/sautéed mushroom color. Splash in a bit of balsamic, and cook for a minute more. Remove pan from heat, and pour slightly cooled mushrooms into the batter.

Preheat the oven to 450, and muscle out your cast iron skillet [mine is about 11″, so my socca is fairly thin]. Stick the skillet into the preheating oven for a bit so it gets hot enough that you need an oven mitt to take it out. Pour that glug of avo oil into the preheated skillet and swirl it around so it evenly coats the bottom. Pour the batter into the prepared skillet, and place it back into the oven. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until the top is just firm. Remove and let rest for a few minutes before cutting and serving. I took all of mine out of the skillet and let it cool on racks for a bit, as I didn’t want it to overcook. Keeps fairly well in the fridge for at least a day, but is best served right after it’s made.

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Startlingly Green Sauce

I apologize in advance for the vagueness of this recipe. It’s really up to your taste, so use what sounds good and tastes appealing to you! I use whatever I have on hand, but typically the base ingredients are the same. Incidentally, this makes an excellent pasta sauce… Gluten free, vegan. Makes about 1 cup.

  • two good handfuls of mixed greens
  • 1 c frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt+pepper to taste
  • ~1/4 c nutritional yeast
  • ~1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c raw cashews, soaked for a few minutes for easier blending
  • 2 tsp frozen basil, or a good handful of fresh
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano or diced fresh
  • perhaps a splash of Bragg’s liquid aminos, if you’re feeling it

Chuck the load into your food processor, and blend the crap out of it! Taste. Like what you taste? Fab! Eat! Not so much? Adjust as needed. More salt… more nutritional yeast… garlic? Why not. The green sauce is your oyster. Spread on whatever it needs to be spread on, i.e. socca and pasta and other delicious things.

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Nutty shenanigans involving chocolate

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Hello!!

Happy Rainy Wednesday, wheee!!! I LOVE rain. So does my cat, apparently, since he spent the majority of the morning outside in it, little furry twit. And now he’s sitting on me and purring, all pleased with himself. And damp. I am apparently a fab kitty towel… (not that I mind. He’s adorable).

But anyway.

This morning I skinned hazelnuts and listened to really loud opera and the rain. The opera was L’elisir d’amore by Donizetti, one of my favorites. What did you do, invisible internet friends??

Why did I skin hazelnuts, you ask? Funny you should ask…

Because, THIS.

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And then THIS.

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And then all of this will become COOKIES as of tomorrow and well… it just obviously doesn’t get much better than that (Don’t fret. I will also share the cookies).

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And also. Can I just say refined sugar free?! Yep. This is nutella. Except it isn’t, because it’s unprocessed and refined sugar free! Boomshakalaka. I just blew your mind, right? It’s okay, five minutes ago I blew mine too by tasting this. Just sit down for a minute, you’ll be fine. Deep breaths… Right. See? Now you feel recovered enough to trot into the kitchen and whip this up for yourself. Just be sure to hang onto at least a cup so you can have your mind blown all over again when I share the cookies for tomorrow.

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You know what’s funny about hazelnuts? I absolutely love them, but the taste takes me back immediately to my trip to Europe when I was 10. At some point in Austria, I was given a couple of Mozart Balls (I kid you not, that’s what they’re called), which are these chocolate-hazelnut truffle thingies. And guess what. I disliked them with great intensity. Apparently, something about the nuts in chocolate combo really turned off my 10 year old self. But oddly enough, that prejudice didn’t stick around (thank goodness), and now I love hazelnuts with reckless abandon. ESPECIALLY when paired with chocolate. But that smell and taste totally takes me back to Europe. Not saying that’s a bad thing in the slightest..

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But anyway. Hazelnuts!!! In CHOCOLATE!! Doesn’t get much better.

Also ps. The weather is doing that crazy spring thing where it’s SUNNY!!! and then it’s RAINING!!! and then it’s SUNNYYYY!! RAININGGGG!!! SUN! RAIN!SUNRAINSUNRAINSUNRAIN! You know exactly what I’m talking about… it really reminds me of the weather in Salem. I remember one particular day where it rained, was sunny, hailed, and I think probably snowed. All in one day. Don’t even ask. An umbrella becomes exceedingly useless at a certain point…

So anyway. Enjoy the nutty springtime weather and some homemade, garbage-free chocolatey hazelnutty goodness.

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Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Recipe loosely adapted from Living Healthy with Chocolate, here! My batch yielded about a cup and half. Vegan (sub maple for honey), gluten free, refined sugar free, and paleo! Winner, winner. Also, if you’re allergic to/can’t have chocolate, this could be done with carob powder/carob chips.

  • 2 c hazelnuts, dry roasted
  • 3.5 tbsp dark chocolate, chopped (choose something above 70%–mine was 73%)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • 1.5 tsp unrefined coconut oil*
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • a pinch of fine sea salt
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened almond milk

*hate coconut? (though I’m not sure we can be friends if that’s the case…)(just kidding!) Use olive, avocado, hazelnut–whatever oil floats your boat.

Rub the skin off the hazelnuts using your palms. You can buy pre roasted ones, and most of the time the skin is already off 3/4ths of them, or you can roast your own for about 10 minutes at 350, then rub the skins off while they’re still warm. Either way, make sure almost all of the skin is removed. Toss the two cups of skinned hazelnuts into a food processor (or a vitamix, if you’re lucky), and process until they start to form a buttery consistency. You’ll probably have to scrape down the sides of the food processor a few times. This should yield a cup of nut butter—do try not to eat it all in advance since you need it later…

Using a double boiler, melt the dark chocolate until it’s completely melty. Take the double boiler off the heat, and stir in the hazelnut butter, cocoa powder, honey, coconut oil, vanilla, sea salt, and almond milk until smooth. Adjusting to your personal taste preferences is obviously totally acceptable.

Store in an airtight jar in the fridge. Mine will be going into cookies tomorrow (get ready for epicness in the next post), but I would assume it would stay good in the fridge for a week or two.

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Dowager Lady Grantham and Date Caramel

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Hmm. Monday things.

1. DOWNTON ABBEY. OMG. I’m. OBSESSED. Maggie Smith has hands down the best facial expressions. Ever. “That will be an easy caveat to accept, as I am never wrong”… the dowager Lady Grantham is now my role model for getting old. Machiavellian and meddlesome. Heaven help whoever is supposed to be “taking care” of me…

2. Working out is amazing. I was about ready to crawl out of my skin today but then Marilyn kicked my butt and I lifted lots of heavy things and now I feel much better! Time to go eat [cookies, preferably  a sensible post-workout snack].

3. I’m now Mat Pilates 1 certified! Wheeee! Watch this space for further developments.

4. I know this is a little delayed, but too bad because it’s funny anyway. This is what I looked like when I got to Disneyland:

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… annnnnnndddd 13 hours later. Winning.

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6. And yes. I bought myself a princess crown. You should be very jealous. Now I can wear it whilst cooking!!! Because… I’m a princess. Obvs.

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7. Date caramel. There are no words. It’s amazing, you’ll just have to go make it immediately. But before you go, admire the photo up at the top. That little blob? Yep. Amazing. Make it. Thank me later. Okay? Okay. Good. Bye bye, off to the kitchen you go.

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Raw, Vegan and Clean Date Caramel

Ever so slightly adapted from Food Doodles, here! I got about a cup, ish, of caramel, maybe a bit more. This stuff is amazing on pretty much anything you could dream up… like ice cream…whirled with frozen banana….on a spoon….in cookies…. whatever. I put some of mine on cookies (underwhelming cookies, so no recipe), and I’m hoarding/rationing the rest. No big deal.

The what:

  • 2 c pitted organic dates
  • 1/2 c + 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • scant 1/2 tsp sea salt

*dates+water+vanilla make the basic caramel. You can leave it like that, or add cinnamon, salt, maple, or whatever your heart desires to taste for something different.

The how:

Firstly. PIT THE DATES. Do not murder your food processor, pretty please… Mine made unhappy noises at first but I promise I got all the pits out of there. Once pitted, chuck them all into the bowl of the processor. Pulse until they form a ball. Add in the water and vanilla, and blend until smooth. This took me about five minutes, and I still have a few very small pieces of date left. Scrape down the sides as necessary. Add in whatever spices you want, and pulse again to incorporate. I keep mine in a sealed jar in the fridge, and I’m sure it’ll keep for a good while, but good luck keeping it around longer than about three days…

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Not really relevant at all but awesome. Who doesn’t love Disneyland at night?

My kitchen smells like sunshine!

Lemon-tastic day!

Saturday was a good day indeed… life handed me Meyer lemons! Or rather, Trader Joe’s handed me lemons. Or at least put them where I would see them and then pay for them, and THEN they were handed to me.

And then. They were mine. Citrusy goodness, miney mine mine. (And Kira’s. Sharing is caring!)

At which point I was confronted with a dilemma. What to do with these rare gorgeous lemon specimens?! Since Meyer lemons have such a ridiculously short season, I wanted to do something with them that would stick around for awhile. But what?! Soooo many options. Thus it happened that while I was dutifully thesising this morning (which, by the way, is 54 pages and winding down, hooray!) that some devious part of my brain escaped to Meyer lemon land to ponder the myriad possibilities of four lemons and a relaxed Sunday at home. At which point it apparently decided that lemon curd was the way to go! Mmmm, good work, brain. (Though I must remember to chastise it for skipping out on me, and leaving me to thesis with only partial brain cells. Psh. If I have to concentrate, EVERY cell up there has to be involved, it’s only fair)

glowing lemon curd :)

So after I finished up writing for today, lemon curd happened. And oh man, am I glad it did… there was not a drop spilled that wasn’t immediately swiped up and eaten. And the food processor that was very thoroughly “cleaned”… and the spoons…. and the spatulas… Well. You get the idea. I’ve loved lemon curd since I went to high tea with my lovely Mutti, and we found ways to put it on everything! Now all I need is some clotted cream and scones… hmm.. next weekend’s project?!

BUT. Surprise, surprise! Lemon curd only used TWO of my lemons. Which meant that I had an unexpected bonus of TWO MORE! So I made Sunday muffins… with lemons! (and chia seeds, natch) I’m sure they’ll be fab with the lemon curd. And then, when I was done with these, I realized that I still have one lemon left! Wow. This is even better than dead banana surplus… What to do?? Something to ponder in the next few days :)

mmm, sunshine in food form!

Meyer Lemon Curd

Curd. Such a *ahem* LOVELY word. Like, move one letter and it spells crud. But hey, don’t knock it till you try it: this is good enough to eat with a spoon. Oh wait, I already did that… Your turn!

From the Pastry Affair, here! I got… half a peanut butter jar’s worth?! Sorry for the inexact measurements… I would guess between one cup and 1.5 cups.

  • 1/2 c sugar (I used turbinado, which is why my lemon curd isn’t bright yellow)
  • zest of 2 Meyer lemons
  • 1/2 c Meyer lemon juice (I used the juice of the 2 I zested)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp butter (Mine was salted), softened and cut into chunks
spoons are a perfectly acceptable vehicle for lemon curd

In the bowl of a double boiler, combine sugar and lemon zest, and rub it together with your fingers until combined and smelling tasty. Whisk in lemon juice and eggs.

Over medium-high heat, whisk constantly as the curd cooks. (Think of it as your arm workout for today). It will begin to thicken: cook it until you see whisk-tracks, and then remove from the heat and let cool briefly. This took me probably about 15 minutes.

Scrape the curd into a food processor or blender (Strain first, if you want to eliminate zest pieces—I don’t mind the zest, and I don’t have a strainer… so I skipped this), and blend until smooth. Once smooth, add in butter chunks, a few at a time, blending after each addition, until all of it is fully incorporated.

Let chill in the refrigerator before using. Keep it in an airtight container (I use jars for EVERYTHING). Eat with anything, or just off a spoon!

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Meyer Lemon, Cardamom and Chia Muffins

I made 6, as per usual: double if you want a normal sized batch! This makes 6 huuuuge muffins. They’re not very sweet, which I like for snack muffins, but I’m sure the lemon curd would add just the right amount of sweetness :) Those who prefer sweeter muffins, make sure your bananas are super ripe, or else add a few tbsp of honey or brown sugar. *Update 3/14: These need lots of work—Kira and I aren’t super fans, we’ve decided. They need more flavor and more moistness… but that’s a project for another day! Adapted from Bright Eyed Baker, here!

  • 1.5 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 c meyer lemon juice
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c yogurt (I used plain, lowfat)
  • judicious sprinkle of chocolate chippies and frozen huckleberries (or frozen berry of choice, blueberry would be good too)
the muffins are so BIG!

Preheat the oven to 375, and grease yo’ muffin tin.

In a largeish bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and soda, salt, cardamom, and chia seeds. In a smaller bowl, mash bananas, and then vigorously whisk in (your second arm workout for today: your biceps can thank me later) egg, vanilla, lemon juice, and yogurt until thoroughly combined. Add wet ingredients to dry, and fold in chocolate chippies and huckleberries.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Mine went for 15 and came out perfectly.

Mmm. Enjoy your lemon-tastic day! My kitchen smells like sunshine now :) (And I have the added bonus of having sunshine in a jar in my fridge for later consumption, wheee!!)

like sunshine in a jar :)