Warmth. Cinnamon. Vanilla. On a cold afternoon…yum!

Has this latest arctic blast hit you like it has Houston?  Brrr!!!  We are NOT used to subfreezing temps.  Not that I’m complaining; the brisk weather does make me move a little faster when outside, but I also find that I want to curl up on the couch with a good book and cup of hot cocoa.

Except I did that yesterday.  And the day before.  And with January diet resolutions and what not, I can’t drink gallons of hot cocoa every day and still fit into my new Christmas clothes.

Enter my super-simple low-calorie, dairy and gluten free, cinnamon/vanilla almond milk that is pretty much amazing and needs an amazing name to match (any creative minds out there?).

ingredients
ingredients

For the ingredients, I used

1 tbsp of almond butter

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 capsules lecithin (helps the almond butter dissolve, plus it’s a good source of choline for the nervous system)

4 cups warm to hot water

put all ingredients in blender and blend for 1 minute or until white and frothy.

IMG_3028serve in four cups and top with a dash of cinnamon.  My kids guzzled this down with their afternoon snack.  Next time I think I might try chai or pumpkin pie spice… Enjoy!

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My easiest (square) pumpkin pie

I love pumpkin pie, but I have never been a fan of, or  fast at making pie crusts.  Enter the press-in crust.  Put it in a square pan.  Voila!  Quick and easy pumpkin pie that anyone can make, and because it is cut into squares instead of wedges the crust is less likely to break off, making for a prettier piece served.

Crust:

1 cup almond flour (whole wheat flour works great too)

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup coconut oil

Blend dry ingredients.  Melt butter and coconut oil, then mix into dry ingredients.  Press into a 9×9 pan.  Place pan in oven, then start pre-heating it to 450.  Bake while oven is preheating for 15 minutes while prepping the filling.

Filling:

1 can pumpkin puree

3 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp cloves

if desired:  pecan pieces, instant coffee granules, or chocolate chips can be added for a fun, unique flavor

Mix together.  Pour over hot crust.  Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then reduce to 350 and bake for 40 minutes more, or until an inserted knife comes out clean.

Serve cool with a dollop of real whip cream.

Five-spice chicken noodle soup

Sometimes I throw together a few leftovers and it turns out better than expected.  This was one of those meals.  Initially I had planned on chicken tortilla soup, but I had forgotten to soak the black beans.  Monday I changed plans and we had steak and rice and steamed veggies because I didn’t feel like stir-frying meat and veggies for Asian stir-fry in the midst of the pre-dinner kid crazies.

Does anyone else find themselves re-inventing the menu at 5:30pm?

That left me with an extra bag of stir-fry veggies, fewer regular mixed veggies, as well as some chicken meat and broth that was ready to soup making.  Oh yeah, and leftover spaghetti noodles in the freezer from last week.

So here is last night’s soup, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.    Now back to my teething toddler who just wants to be held and cuddled…

1.5 cups cooked, diced chicken meat

1 quart chicken broth

1 bag stir-fry veggies, any kind

1 -2 cups cooked noodles (you could also use rice)

1 tsp Chinese 5-spice blend

1 tsp garlic

1 handful fresh spinach

2 tbsps chopped cilantro

Mix meat, broth, garlic, spices, and frozen veggies in a large pot.  Bring to a simmer.  Add noodles, spinach, and cilantro.  Take off heat.  Serve with Sriracha chili sauce on the side.