Saturday, July 30, 2016

Best Loved Black Beans: Free Book Giveaway

Sometimes I hijack this blog for my own greedy purposes. Which is what I'm doing today. Well, sort of. Because this isn't really for me; it's for you.

I'm doing a giveaway of my new YA book, Grey Stone. You get a free copy of the book plus a $10 Amazon gift card.

So hop on my cheapalings. You know you love useful, free things. Find the link for the GIVEAWAY right HERE.

And because you also deserve a recipe, I'll give you a super cheap one in honor of the character (from Grey Stone) Pietre. In Grey Stone, the humans are the lowest of the races, forced to try to live and farm on the most destitute and sterile lands in their world. Pietre gets pretty hungry at a certain point in the book. Bet he wishes he had the internet so he could look up this recipe and make it.

Lucky for you, you do. I'm giving you the easiest tastiest black beans ever. I don't looove black beans. I like them fine. I eat them in certain recipes. But I rarely just make black beans and eat them. Correction: I used to not just make black beans and eat them. Now I do. Because these are delicious, super quick, and super flavorful. They can be eaten with rice or tortillas or chips or thrown into salads or just spooned out and snacked on. Enjoy.

Best Loved Black Beans
adapted from Food Love
makes about 4 C
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cost: $1.70 (that's about $.45/serving)
beans: 1.20, tomato juice: .30, seasonings: .20

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp taco seasoning
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 15.5 oz cans black beans (drained and rinsed)
2/3 C tomato juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 fresh chopped cilantro (optional)

In a skillet, heat the olive oil, then add all the seasonings (except cilantro if using). When they're fragrant, add black beans and tomato juice.

Simmer for 8-10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Remove from heat. Add cilantro if using and spoon away.


Monday, July 25, 2016

Dumb Easy Dessert: 3-Ingredient No Churn Peach Mango Ice Cream

I was going to do shameless marketing post using a recipe inspired by the characters in my book, but then I made this and, since it is 100 and trillion and bazillion degrees here (and humid), I just had to post it.

Shameless marketing for my book will just have to wait for my release date on the 28th. Or, wait, I can work some shameless marketing in right now by inviting you to join the giveaway I'm hosting. Win a free book and a $10 Amazon gift card! Go here to sign up.

Okay, marketing is done. Now make this ice cream. If you've got frozen fruit on hand, it takes only five minutes to make. You only need a good blender or food processor, some frozen fruit, and a can of sweetened condensed milk. For this, you get cold beautiful perfection.  Now I call this Peach Mango (and that was a very good combination), but the first time we made it just with peaches, which also blew us away. I imagine it could be made with a variety of other frozen fruits although peaches and mangoes do give it a creaminess that you might not have with, say blueberries or something like that. My point here is that you should feel free to experiment and if you don't have a bunch of frozen peaches on hand, you shouldn't be afraid to try this with another fruit.

But we had farmer's market peaches that I'd bought for $.50/lb and $.50 mangoes, so we went with this combination.  

3-Ingredient No Churn Peach mango Ice Cream
adapted from Saving Room for Dessert
serves 4-6 smallish portions
prep time: 5 minutes
Cost: $4.00 (less if you use cheap farmer's market fruit like we did)
peaches: 2.00, mangoes: 1.00, sweetened condensed milk: 1.00

Note: You can buy these fruits pre-frozen at the store. No shame in that. But I got a steal on my fruits and froze them myself. As a bonus, the peaches particularly were super fresh and amazing.

Note: When this is first done, it will be a creamy soft-serve texture. After it sits in the freezer for a day, it will look more like the pictures above. Both are amazing, but we ate almost all of ours in soft-serve state.

3-4 peaches slices and frozen (skin can be left on or peeled off)
1-2 mangoes, frozen
1/2-1 can sweetened condensed milk

Add fruits to a food processor (or a good blender). I added about half, pulsed and chopped, then added the other half, pulsed and chopped, so that I had some chopped up, icy fruit. Then I added the sweetened condensed milk and pulsed, then just let the processor run. I did not need the full can of sweetened condensed milk, but if your blender or food processor is struggling, feel free to add some more. This might make for a slightly runnier finished product, but I'm pretty sure you still won't regret this dessert.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Double Chocolate Scones

Ah my friends. In addition to this blog, I've spent the last few years doing a whole lot of novel writing. This month some of that work is coming to fruition and my teen/YA fantasy novel, Grey Stone, is being released. Today it just went up for pre-sale. The only thing better than celebrating with food is celebrating with food made by one of the characters in my new book.

(Isn't it lovely? Click HERE to pre-order.)

Zinnegael is a young witch with a bunch of cats, a slightly enormous vendetta against the shape-shifting king, and (naturally) a love of baking.

When she first meets one of our heroes, she brings him a tray full of goodies. Here's a sneak peek at that scene:

"Wittendon noticed the faint smell of smoke as he and the cat entered the clearing. No one else seemed to notice or care. In front of him, the table was set for tea. Two cups rested on saucers and several cookies sat on a tray as though travelers stumbled to these haunted woods every day. Sprawled behind the table lay two large white cats. They sat up when the newcomers entered, but did not bother to look in their direction.

“Good afternoon, prince,” said a voice that came from a little hut to the right of a large garden. “The scones are a bit dry today; I do hope you will forgive that. Don’t worry, I’ve spread them with chocolate to make up for any lack.”

A girl entered the garden, stepping across the stone path as though every bump had been memorized a lifetime ago, though she couldn’t have been more than fifteen. In one hand, she held a tray that was piled so high with pastries he could not see her face; in the other she carried a vase with pale purplish-blue roses."

Today we don't have to worry about the scones being dry (they're not). And we're going to do more than spread the scones with chocolate. We're going to make them with chocolate and then put chocolate bits inside. It's a tiny bit like eating brownies for breakfast. Zinnegael would totally approve.

If you'd like to pre-order the book, check it out HERE. And expect some more news about the book as well as some fantastic Zinnegael-inspired baked goods. Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Scones
adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
makes 8 scones
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Cost: $2.60
flour: .10, whole wheat flour: .10, oat flour: .05, cocoa: .20, sugar: .10, butter: .60, cream: .50, egg: .10, chocolate chips: .85

Note: To healthy this up just the slightest little bit, I couldn't help but use some whole wheat flour and oat flour (Zinnegael would never have done such a thing, but I did). They were delicious and while the oat flour makes it a tiny bit crumblier, I think it also helps it stay moist and gives it a depth of flavor that is fantastic.

1 C all-purpose flour
1/3 C whole wheat flour
1/3 C oat flour
1/3 C cocoa
1/2 C sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 C (1 stick) butter (frozen or cold)
1/2 C plus 1 Tbsp heavy cream
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 C semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (oh, and we were short, so we threw in some white chocolate chips too)


Note: This glaze adds more sweetness, but it also sort of seals the scone so that it doesn't dry out. The original recipe recommends dipping them in this glaze, but I just drizzled it rather thoroughly over the top of the scones, and that was way easier. (Yay for laziness and stuff.)

1 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 oz water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put baking rack in middle-low position. Line it with parchment paper (seriously--this is a good idea).

In a bowl or food processor (I use a food processor and it makes things like this so fast and easy), combine flour, whole wheat flour, oat flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

Cut the butter into chunks with a knife and toss those in. Give the food processor several pulses (or mush them into the dry ingredients with your hands, or a pastry cutter if you must).

In a small bowl, whisk the cream, vanilla, and egg. Pour it into the food processor and process until combined. Don't overmix it. A bit crumbly here is better than being it to death.

Dump out your mixture and press it together until it forms a bit of a ball. Knead it 10-12 times. Don't knead the heck out of it. You just want it to come together and be combined. That's all. Scones are sensitive little things and if you overmix or overknead them, they will be dry. So err on the side of underdoing it. You won't regret it.

Form into a ball and roll or press it into a nice circle that is about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Cut this into 8 triangles (like cutting a pizza).

(Sorry that this pic is a little blurry, but wanted to show you the correct thickness)

Put these on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or just until they lose their shiny look. Again, err on the side of too little. Cook too long and they dry out.

Remove and let cool slightly.

Prepare glaze by mixing all those ingredients together and drizzle thoroughly over scones (or use a pastry brush, which is easiest). You want the glaze to pretty much cover the top and sides as much as possible (you're welcome).

Eat warm or not. They're delicious.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Secret Recipe Club: Avocado Banana Bread

Before I blab further, I will introduce my Secret Recipe Club blog this month: Making Miracles with Rebekah. Rebekah has lived a fantastically interesting life--enjoying her own children and family and being a surrogate mom to four other little girls. She's traveled the world and enjoys a lot of the same foods I do--quick, family friendly, and delicious. (Note: I'm also itching to try this casserole.)

I think that today's recipe perfectly showcases that. And it's barely even green. Greenness was one of my main concerns when I found this recipe. I knew that it would be my soul recipe regardless, but if it came out bright green I knew it wouldn't have a prayer with the minions. It's only just vaguely tinted, so no one was the wiser. I got my soul mate food and the kids spared me from eating the whole darn thing.

It's delicious, beautiful, healthy (if a little on the sweet side), moist, and a perfect summer breakfast. Especially if you've got those spotty summer bananas.

Avocado Banana Bread
adapted from Making Miracles
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 65 minutes
Cost: $2.05 ($2.90 with chocolate chips)
flour: .50, sugar: .15, bananas: .25, avocado: .50 (aldi price), honey: .40, oil: .15, eggs: .20, chocolate chips: .85

2 C whole wheat flour
3/4 C sugar
1 tsp baking powder
 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 C (about 2) very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 C (about 1) avocado, mashed
1/4 C honey
1/2 C oil
2 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 C chocolate chips, optional

Preheat oven to 325. Grease a loaf pan.

Combine dry ingredients (unless you're too lazy for words, like me. Then you throw them in at the end, drag a fork through them, and hope for the best.)

Mash bananas and avocado. Then beat it to get it a little smoother. Blend in honey, oil, eggs, and vanilla.

Stir in the dry ingredients. Add chocolate chips if using.

Bake for 60-75 minutes (mine took 64 on the dot).

Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so, then turn out of the pan and allow to cool further.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Pumpkin Refrigerator Oatmeal

Refrigerator oatmeal is the best thing ever in the summer when it's too hot to even think about waking up and ingesting something steamy. Also, they're dumb easy and ready for your to stumble into in the morning. I love this recipe because it also packs this huge Vitamin A, beta carotene pumpkin punch.

And mixed. Not as pretty, but still delicious. 

Pumpkin Refrigerator Oatmeal
adapted from
Prep time: 3 minutes
Cost:  $.57
oatmeal: .05, yogurt: .25, pumpkin: .25, other stuff: .02

Note: The sugar will be high for this if you're used to sweet breakfasts and/or sweet yogurt. Rest assured that if you used sweetened yogurt, you'd be eating at least this much sugar.

1/2 C Greek yogurt (regular works too)
1/2 C pumpkin puree
1/4 C oatmeal
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1-2 Tbsp sugar

Combine all ingredients. Leave in refrigerator overnight. (Note: If you use quick oats, you can leave it for about 30 minutes and eat this.)


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