Hot Chocolate (dairy free)

It took me a while to get this right. Hot chocolate, even instant, has a consistency that it really needs to have to feel like you’re drinking hot chocolate. I originally started out using rice milk and I was never quite satisfied with the results. It wasn’t until I tried the Ripple Half & Half did it taste and feel like real hot chocolate. Feel free to use less or more sugar to get it to your liking. I highly recommend adding the coffee extract or espresso powder. It really enhances the chocolate flavor. That’s why I almost always use it whenever I make something chocolate.
 

 
 
     NOTE: I receive no compensation for mentioning a specific product. I find I get the best results with these products and I want you to be able to achieve the same results.

Dairy Free New England Clam Chowder

You will not miss the dairy in this soup at all. It’s thick, rich, and creamy. If possible, I would highly recommend using the Ripple non-dairy half & half (original flavor)*. It really makes the difference. If you do not want to use xanthan gum, then just use a little more corn starch. If you can’t use the Ripple non-dairy half & half, then use the diary free milk substitute of your choice and add another ½ tsp of xanthan gum or 1 tbsp more of cornstarch. The xanthan gum really helps recreate the creaminess of milk.
 

The Ultimate Oatmeal Cookies

While I still enjoy the traditional oatmeal raisin cookie, this one just takes it to the next level. Toasting the nuts and oatmeal really brings out another layer of flavor that only enhances the cookie.  Of course, you can substitute raisins (cranberries) or any nut you prefer (or no nuts at all). You can also use Equal Exchange Chocolates semi-sweet chocolate chips if you prefer. They aren’t bad, but my husband prefers the Dark Chocolate Dream chocolate. The Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine sticks give you almost the same results as you would get with real butter. It’s the best for baking, hands down! Let me know how you like them.

Change in Format

Hi there! I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I was also focusing a lot on my photography (www.rebekahlacountphotography.com). I still plan on working on my photography, but I do want to get back to sharing my recipes with you. I’ve decided to change the format of how I present my recipes. I know most recipe blogs usually have a long story/info at the beginning of the post and you have either read the info or scroll through it all to get to the recipe. Now, don’t get me wrong, I sometimes enjoy reading behind the scenes of the making of the recipe or maybe the history of it or what it means to the blogger, but sometimes I just want to read the recipe. So, unless it is necessary for you to read prior to making the recipe, I will post the recipe first and extra info after the recipe. I hope you like the new format.

~Rebekah

Carrot Cake

It’s been a very long time since I’ve attempted to make a carrot cake. Without the cream cheese frosting it just doesn’t taste the same. I made one a little over 10 years ago and the cake was fine, but the frosting pretty much sucked. I made cream cheese frosting about a year ago. It was close, but it still wasn’t quite right. Lately, I’ve been craving a piece (or two) of carrot cake. So, what is a girl to do? Well, make it herself! I did and I am very happy with the results. This cake is light and rich at the same time. The frosting is about as close to the real thing as I can remember. The key to the frosting is to use the Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese. The consistency and taste is the best that I have found so far.

Blueberry Muffins

There is nothing like the simplicity of a blueberry muffin for breakfast (or anytime for that matter). Frozen blueberries will work, but fresh really are best because the cell walls haven not been broken down by ice crystals, so you get this glorious burst of blueberry when you take a bite.  The nutmeg is optional, but I highly recommend you try it. It’s a subtle flavor that goes very well with the blueberries. One of the things that I like about these muffins is that they have a very light texture.

A Misuse of Power – A 13 year old faces being sent to juvenile detention for not seeing her father

I don’t share much of my life history. It’s really not related to writing a food blog, but sometimes you have to step outside your box. When I was 3 my father left my mother, my infant brother, and me for another woman. He did not really want much to do with us kids. My mother had to beg him to come see us. He once tried to get custody so he wouldn’t have to pay child support. It wasn’t much and he was a chemist who made decent money. When I was 6, he told me that I could not keep going back and forth between him and my mom like a yo-yo. That’s exactly what he told me. I wanted to see my dad, but I was terrified of never seeing my mother ever again. She was the one who was always there for me and took care of me. Sometimes there was yelling, but it never escalated beyond that. When I heard about the following story it really touched me deeply and I feel the need to share it.
A fellow mom in a mothers group on Facebook will get the opportunity to watch her 13 year old daughter be arrested and placed in juvenile detention because her daughter does NOT want to see her father, a law enforcement officer, who kicked her out of his house at age 12. It was her 12thbirthday and when she told her father that she wanted to spend her birthday with him and not his new wife, he flipped out and kicked his 12 year old daughter out of the house and disowned her. Last year this same man videoed his wife while she shot herself in the head and killed herself to avoid abuse charges! The judge told the father that the mother could not force the daughter to see him, so the father asked the court to arrest his daughter if she won’t see him. The damn South Carolina judge agreed to do so. So a 13 year old girl who has done nothing wrong other than not wanting to see the father who kicked her out of his home on her 12th birthday will go to juvenile detention.  It’s not that she hates her father or doesn’t want to see him; she’s terrified of him. She’s scared of him retaliating against her for not seeing him. He apparently leaves guns all over his house in case someone breaks in. Even her therapist believes that it’s a bad idea to have the daughter and father in the same room. Unfortunately, the judge doesn’t care about that. Obviously this is not about wanting a relationship with his daughter, but about wanting to control her.  It makes me sick, sad, livid, and broken hearted. I understand that there are instances where there is parent alienation, but this is not one of those cases. I really have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that a judge would arrest a child for not wanting to see a parent.
Please share this story.

Random Thoughts Pt. 6

This is a post is a shout out to several of my friends and their blogs, pages, and businesses. Check them out when you get a chance. I get nothing from sharing this info and these link other than knowing that I am sharing their awesomeness with you all.
Writing a blog is an easy thing for some people and for others it takes much more effort.  For me, creating recipes and putzing around in the kitchen come much more easily than writing. Even when I was in school, I hated the page/word requirement that teachers and professors often put on a writing assignment. I would usually struggle to meet said requirements. It was so frustrating because I could say want I needed to say in fewer words.  I have a friend is a writer by trade and she has this amazing, funny, witty, and moving blog about her experience as a mom with two special needs children. Under her blog title she refers to herself as a “not-so-special mom” and I beg to differ. She is an amazing mom and friend! When you have a moment, head over to her blog and check it out. You won’t be disappointed. Unexceptional Parenting 
Many kids will eventually attempt to climb out of their cribs and at some point they will be successful in their endeavor. My very creative friend came up with a way to keep her daughter in her crib without impeding her mobility. She recently has become aware of someone who has copied her work and not only that, but created an Etsy shop and copied and pasted her story as well. Check out my friend’s shop. She makes a quality product. The Naughty Monkey
As we transition into fall, our thoughts start to think about the upcoming holidays. Check out Made by Katy Craftsfor fun, affordable jewelry. She even does custom pieces. If you have a friend or family member who has a chronic illness or lives in chronic pain, she has spoon necklaces that represent the Spoon Theory.
For those of you who live in the Charleston, SC area or if you are visiting Charleston, SC, check out Jody Mack Photography. She is an amazing photographer. She’s great a catching those natural moments where everyone looks at ease. The picture of me in the “About Me” section was taking by her. It is one my favorite pictures of me.

Basil Pesto Shrimp

 

Several weeks ago, my neighbor’s daughter brought us a large bag of basil from their garden. Naturally, I was excited. Unless you are growing your own basil, it can get expensive buying that much basil. What to make? There was no way I was going to make that much pasta sauce. Pesto! For those of us that are allergic to dairy, store bought pesto always has cheese it in. The pesto that I made for this dish is great and it’s quite flexible if you need to make changes. If you don’t have, don’t like, or allergic to pine nuts then use walnuts. If you don’t have any nuts or you’re allergic to all nuts, then double the amount of the diary free Parmesan cheese substitute. If you can have dairy, just use your favorite Parmesan or Parmesan/Reggiano cheese. Serve with a light salad and some garlic bread and you’re set! Also, the shrimp marinated in this pasta is great by itself and would be an awesome appetizer.
 
pesto divided
2 lbs peeled and deveined shrimp
1 lb box of thin spaghetti
 
·      Mix 2 tbsp of pesto with the peeled and deveined shrimp.
·      Let sit for 5 minutes.
·      Heat a stovetop grill pan or a skillet on medium high heat.
·      Let the pan get really hot.
·      Brush the pan with some olive oil.
·      Place the shrimp in a single layer on the pan (if you’re pan isn’t large enough, then do the shrimp in batches).
·      Start your pasta water. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil and make sure it’s well salted.
·      After about 2-3 minutes or after the bottoms are caramelized, turn the shrimp over.
·      Remove the shrimp to a bowl or plate.
·      Once you’re water is boiling add your pasta.
·      Cook pasta for 1 minute less than the suggested time. 5 minutes for the thin spaghetti.
·      Transfer the pasta to a large bowl. (save about ¼ cup pasta water).
·      Toss the pasta with the pesto.
·      Add the shrimp.
 
 
Pesto
 
4 cups (3oz.) fresh basil, loosely put in cup. (don’t pack it down)
3 cloves of garlic
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
2 tbsp Go Veggie grated Parmesan style topping*
zest and juice of 1 lemon
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
⅛ tsp crushed red pepper (more if you want it spicier)
 
·      Rinse the basil and place in the food processor.
·      Add all the ingredients in the food processor EXCEPT the olive oil.
·      Pulse the food processor until the ingredients are smooth.
·      Very slowly pour the olive oil down the chute of the food processor lid until incorporated and smooth. Set aside.
 
 
 
~If you have leftovers, pour the reserved pasta water into the food processor to collect the residual pesto. Save and use when you reheat the pasta in a skillet.
 
* There are 2 kinds of Go Veggie Parmesan style topping. One is casein free and the other has casein in it. Here is a picture of the casein free one:
 
 

 

 
 
 

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

One of the few recipes that I tried recently is a peanut butter swirled brownie. Chocolate and peanut butter are one of my favorite flavor combinations. I tried doing a peanut butter swirled brownie, but the peanut butter was completely overshadowed by the rich chocolate brownie. Tonight, I decided to keep the peanut butter and brownie separate by layering them and topping them off with a layer of chocolate. The result was truly like a merging of a brownie and a peanut butter cup. I highly recommend you try this brownie!
Brownie Base
4 ounces Dairy Free Dark Chocolate Dream
 cup regular olive oil
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp Dutch cocoa powder
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coffee extract
Peanut Butter Filling
6 oz Dairy Free Dark Chocolate Dream, melted (for chocolate topping)
·      Preheat the oven to 350°F.
·      Grease and flour a square 8 inch cake pan.
·      In a medium bowl, combine and whisk the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
·      Melt the chocolate with the oil over low heat.
·      Once melted, turn of the burner and add the sugar.
·      Quickly stir in the eggs.
·      Add vanilla and coffee extracts.
·      Gently add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated.
·      Pour into the prepared pan.
·      Bake 23-25 minutes.
·      While the brownies are still hot, gently spread the peanut butter filling.
·      Melt 6oz. of chocolate and spread over the peanut butter layer.
·      Cool until the chocolate is firm.
·      Cut into 16 squares and remove from the pan.
Peanut Butter Filling
cup peanut butter
1 tbsp dairy free margarine (I use Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine Sticks)
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 tsp rice milk
·      Combine all the ingredients until smooth. It will be very thick.