Tag Archives: chocolate

Vegan Chocolate Coconut Almond Ice Cream

ice-cream-3

Recently, we discovered that our son has become lactose intolerant. This is not really a surprise, as I’ve had this condition since my early twenties and it runs in my family. Lactose intolerance isn’t the same as an allergy – we just don’t produce enough lactase, the enzyme which breaks down lactose found in milk. An easy way around it if we still want to eat things with milk and cream in it is to take a lactase pill at the same time.

Another way is to just substitute non-dairy items into our diet. I love coconut milk and almond milk and often drink that instead. And we both drink lactose free milk.

My son also loves the flavor of coffee and he really wanted to make a coffee flavored ice cream. We decided on mocha, since I didn’t want to go overboard with the coffee flavor — even decaf. And we both wanted to add almonds and chocolate chips, because – why not!?

I based this recipe on a vegan one from thekitchn.com and altered it. To flavor it, I used Trader Joe’s Sipping cocoa, but I’m sure other cocoas would work. This is a seasonal item that we always buy and stock up on in the winter. It has a wonderful chocolate flavor and is not too sweet.

The result is a delicious, dairy-free dessert which is not too sweet, but very creamy and rich. The chopped almonds and chocolate chip add another layer of crunchy texture. Next time we make it, we want to add mini marshmallows and make it a Mocha Rocky Road number!

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Vegan Mocha Coconut Almond Ice Cream

2 14 oz. cans full fat coconut milk

1/4 cup agave syrup

3 tablespoons Trader Joe’s Sipping Cocoa or other cocoa mix

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon decaf instant coffee

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped roasted salted almonds

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Shake the cans of coconut milk very well. Measure out 1/2 cup of the coconut milk and set aside.
  2. Heat the rest of the coconut milk, agave, instant coffee, and cocoas in a medium saucepan on the stove. Whisk constantly until completely dissolved, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add cornstarch to remaining coconut milk and whisk until fully incorporated. Add to saucepan and cook stirring constantly for about 6-8 minutes until mixture is thickened. It should to thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add vanilla extract.
  4. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Cover with saran wrap, pressing to surface of chocolate so that a skin doesn’t form. Chill over night.
  5. Churn mixture in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s directions until you have a soft ice cream texture. Stir in chopped almonds and chocolate chips.
  6. Transfer to a freezing container and freeze for several hours to harden and serve.

Makes about one pint

ice-cream-1

 

 

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Filed under Children, Desserts

Chocolate Hardware Tools and Book Signing in Brooklyn

Melissa Iwai 2016

Melissa Iwai 2016

Anne Rockwell, the author of Let’s Go to the Hardware Store, and I will be at BookCourt (163 Court St.) in Brooklyn tomorrow  (March 26) at 2 pm to read and sign books. I will also talk a bit about how I created the artwork for the story.

I also made a bunch of treats to bring to the event!

First up are dark chocolate and milk chocolate tools. I bought a cute tool mold here to make the candies. I melted chocolate pieces in a heat proof bowl in the microwave at 30 second intervals (about 1.5 to 2 minutes). Mixed well to get rid of any lumps and poured into the molds.

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Getting the chocolate in the nooks and crannies takes a bit of time. You can nudge the chocolate with a spoon. Then, I wiped the edges clean with a damp paper towel and tapped the mold hard on the counter several times to get rid of any air bubbles. I found the dark chocolate to be easier to work with. Then I stuck it in the refrigerator to chill. The milk chocolate took longer to harden. Also, I discovered that the longer you let the chocolate chill, the easier it is to remove.

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To do so, you just turn the mold over and gently press on the shapes. The chocolate should snap out in one piece.

Finished tools -- they are so shiny!

Finished tools — they are so shiny!

I wrapped the chocolates in foil, and then printed out my illustrations of tools from the book and affixed them to the wrapped chocolates.

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For the toolbox, I made gingerbread. I used the same recipe I used for my Haunted Gingerbread House and Magna Tiles, but made one and half batches. I was inspired by this blogger’s cute tool box, but I made my own template, and I used a breadstick instead of a straw for the handle.

The trick is to roll the dough out on the baking sheet on parchment.

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Then, using a template, score the dough gently with a knife. Bake for 15 minutes. While the dough is still warm, cut out the shapes. This ensures a sharp clean edge.

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Then I frosted the pieces using this recipe. I am not so great at frosting and made my flooding icing too thin. 😦 So my toolbox is not so pretty. But it holds my chocolates well. I made a divider out of card stock that is labelled “dark chocolate” and “milk chocolate” on each side so people can choose their favorites.

If you are in the Brooklyn area, please stop by and say “Hi” and grab a chocolate tool! 🙂

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Chocolate Candies

1 bag chocolate pieces

  1. Pour 5 oz. of chocolate into a medium bowl.
  2. Heat at 30 second intervals in the microwave oven, checking the chocolate each time. You don’t want to overheat it. When it is smooth and silky when you stir it, stop heating. For dark chocolate it was about 90 seconds. For milk chocolate it was a little longer.
  3. Pour chocolate into candy molds. Be sure not to overfill. Nudge chocolate with a spoon or knife into nooks and crannies.
  4. Wipe around mold if you got chocolate in between shapes. Chocolate will come out easier if all the edges are clean. Tap mold hard several times on counter to remove air bubbles.
  5. Chill in refrigerator until firm, at least 30 minutes.
  6. To remove, turn mold over and gently press on the bottom. Chocolate should pop out easily.

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Filed under Art Related, Children, Cookies, Desserts

Easy as Pie Ice Cream Cake

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Our son turned eleven while we were on our cruise to the Bahamas, so we decided to celebrate it at home later in the summer.  My son has never been a cake fan. From the time he was a toddler, he has been fobbing off remnants of cake for his mom and dad to finish at every birthday party. He and I decided an ice cream cake would be best for his birthday, because he loves ice cream — he always eats it with a fork even when it’s served in a bowl!

As usual these days, I was swamped with work and had a big book deadline on top of travel plans right before the celebration!  I found a solution, though, with this cake, which can be prepared days in advance.

The base is a brownie layer which you can make from a mix or from scratch. Here is my recipe for a decadent Truffle Brownie. Because I was pressed for time, I used Trader Joe’s Truffle Brownie mix. Then after I baked the brownie layer and let it cool completely, I spooned softened Cookies and Cream ice cream on top and smoothed.  I froze the cake until hardened, then melted chocolate chips and white chocolate chips in two separate bowls in the microwave.  The white chocolate chips did not melt properly, and I thought it was a fail, but I crumbled them on top, and it was actually quite tasty! I was able to wrap the whole thing pan and all in saran and foil and store in the freezer for a few days.

An important thing to note is to use a spring form pan — the kind used for cheesecakes. When you are ready to serve the cake, simply release the sides and remove the bottom.  If you don’t have a spring form pan, you could line a cake pan with saran and remove the cake and peel off the saran when ready to serve. But you won’t have as crisp an edge. Do not thaw this cake before serving!  It is best to serve immediately after removing from the freezer while the ice cream is hard.  Otherwise, cutting gets very messy!

The birthday boy blowing out the candles.

The birthday boy blowing out the candles.

The cake was a hit and there were no leftovers on plates for the parents, so we had to get our own slices!

Easy Ice Cream Cake

1 package of brownie mix

1/2 gallon container of ice cream

1 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup white chocolate chips (optional)

non-stick spray

whipped cream (optional) for garnish

  1.  Spray non-stick spray in spring form pan and set aside.  Or line a cake pan with saran.
  2. Preheat oven and prepare brownies according to package.
  3. Pour batter into pan and smooth top.  Bake brownie layer and cool completely.
  4. Meanwhile, let ice cream thaw for about 25 minutes while brownie layer is cooling.
  5. Spoon ice cream on top of brownie layer and smooth with an offset spatula or spoon.  Freeze until hardened.
  6. Melt chocolates separately in two bowls at 30 second intervals in the microwave, stirring occasionally. When completely melted, spoon chocolate in center of cake and smooth out.  Top with white chocolate crumbles.
  7. Wrap cake in saran and foil and freeze until hardened.
  8. When serving, do not thaw cake! Release spring form pan and remove bottom.  Or if using a cake pan, lift cake out of pan with saran and remove saran wrap.  Cut cake immediately while ice cream is still hard and serve. Enjoy!

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Green Recipe Fail and Success: Perfect Green Coconut Chocolate Protein Ice Cream

My attempt at a green dosa

My attempt at a green dosa

I’m sharing with you a recipe (semi) fail today.  Sometimes life is not perfect.

I ate my first dosa from Dosa Royale eaten at the Brooklyn Smorgasburg.  I wish I had a photo to show it — it was huge and delicious!   A dosa is a savory crepe made from a fermented batter of rice flour and black lentils.  I was inspired to try making a savory zucchini one at home

zucchini batter

Zucchini batter

I don’t have a crepe pan — but that shouldn’t be the cause of my fail because I’ve made many crepes on a regular non-stick skillet.  Bu this time, nothing stayed together when I tried to flip it. 😦   Maybe I need a new skillet?  Or perhaps there wasn’t enough oil?   Wanting the salvage the remaining batter, I decided to try baking it in the toaster oven.  I had better luck with this, but who bakes a crepe!?  Anyway, here is the result.  It is crepe-like and similar to the dosa I had, but with a nice tea green shade:

zucchini crepe

I used it to make a breakfast burrito (with beans, egg, cheese, salsa, and onions).  The flavor is wonderful, even though it is not very “pretty”.

burrito

These days, I am so busy with my artwork, I don’t have as much time to noodle around experimenting in the kitchen, but it is a nice way to procrastinate!  For breakfast, I’m sticking with my perfected Green Coconut Chocolate Protein Ice Cream.  It is similar to my Green Coconut Chocolate Spinach Smoothie, but instead of psyllium husk (I know, I’m losing out on the extra fiber…!), I use a pinch of xanthum gum which I picked up at the health food store.  It gives it a really nice smooth and creamy ice cream feel.

AH... dessert for breakfast! I garnish it with toasted unsweetened coconut and sliced almonds and chia seeds.

AH… dessert for breakfast! I garnish it with toasted unsweetened coconut and sliced almonds and chia seeds.

This is the perfect light breakfast on a hot summer day.  If you can find xanthum gum, try it out — a little goes a lo..o.o…o..ng way!

 

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In other news, my son, Jamie and his friend have recently started blogging.  For a peek at what ten year old boys and girls are writing, check out their blogs at:

http://storiesonclouds.wordpress.com/ and his friend, P’s http://hefordandmelly.wordpress.com/ blogs.  Both are creative writing blogs. It is pretty obvious which one is written by the boy and which is written by the girl!

Perfect Green Coconut Chocolate Protein Ice Cream

2-3 ice cubes

1/4 frozen banana (I slice them and freeze, so this is about 4 slices)

1 cube of frozen coconut milk (or 2 tablespoons)

About 1/2 cup frozen fruit — I use blueberries and strawberries often

1 pinch of xanthum gum

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

a little less than 1/4 cup milk

teaspoon of toasted coconut and almond for garnish (optional)

1.  Crush ice cubes and coconut milk in blender.

2.  Pour in remaining ingredients and blend. Use a tamper to press everything down — I use a Vitamix.  If you don’t have a tamper, I would just keep stirring it every now and then by hand to remove clumps, and blend again.

3.  Pour into a  bowl and top with crunchy toasted coconut and almond topping if you desire!

Here is my semi-fail recipe if you are interested — still needs work!

Zucchini “Dosa”

1 medium sized zucchini

1 egg

2 tablespoons pancake mix (I used TJ’s multigrain)

1 tablespoons grated parmesan

salt to taste

about 2 tablespoons water to thin batter

non-stick spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut eight  5 x 5 inch squares out of parchment paper and lay four of them on top on baking sheet.  Spray paper with nonstick spray. Set aside.

2.  Blend ingredients in a blender.

3.   Spoon batter onto parchment and spread into circles or squares.  Bake for about 10-12 minutes.  Cover each square with paper then flip pancake so that the cooked side is down.  Bake for another 5-7 minutes until pancake is done.  Cool and store in refrigerator or eat immediately.

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Filed under Breakfast, Desserts, Uncategorized

Coconut Chocolate Chia Pudding and Almond Chia Pudding

Coconut Chocolate Chia Pudding

Coconut Chocolate Chia Pudding


This is my newest obsession:  Instant Chia Puddings!  I have seen chia puddings all over the web, and this Vanilla Chia Seed Parfait with Fresh Berries and Tsubuan (Japanese Red Beans) made by my friend, Judy, at Bebe Love Okazu really stands out.  I haven’t made it yet because I need to go to a special store to get the red beans, but it looks amazing.

While shopping at our local Trader Joe’s recently, I was compelled to buy a bag of chia seeds on display strategically near the cashier stands.

chia bag

On the bag, there was a recipe for a simple pudding:  Chia seeds, milk, and agave syrup.   I thought it would be fun to make a coconut chocolate one since I had a lot of lite coconut cubes in the freezer (for my morning Coconut Chocolate Spinach Smoothies).  I defrosted two cubes in the microwave and added a tablespoon of chia seeds, cocoa powder, stevia, vanilla and a pinch of instant coffee (to bring out the chocolate flavor).

 

 

chia in cup

I don’t know if it’s because I used coconut milk or because when I defrosted it in the microwave, it was slightly warm, but the chia pudding set in literally 2 minutes!

chocolate chia

Right after mixing….

Coconut Chocolate Chia Pudding

Coconut Chocolate Chia Pudding

…and two minutes later!

 

I loved it so much, I started making them every afternoon for a snack.  The texture is similar to a rice pudding.  The chewiness reminds me of tapioca pearls in bubble tea.  And I love the coconut chocolate flavors.

Then, I thought I would experiment a bit and try making it with regular milk (I use Lactaid) and almond extract.

The consistency was a lot thinner:

almond chia

This one took a lot longer to set — about three hours (which is what it says it will take on the bag).  The texture is lighter and less dense than the one made with coconut milk.  But it is equally delicious!

almond chia set


There are so many health benefits to eating chia because they are high in protein, fiber and omega-3s as well as other nutrients.  So if you want to try something different and a lot healthier, try making some chia seed pudding!

 

Note:  I’m happy to make my single servings of chia pudding, because it is so easy to make, and I prefer to eat it the day I make them.  But the recipes I have here can easily be doubled and quadrupled to make 2 – 4 servings.

Coconut Chocolate Chia Pudding

1 tablespoon chia seeds (15 g)

1/4 cup coconut milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cocoa powder

stevia or other sweetener of choice

pinch of instant coffee (I like decaf VIA from Starbucks)

1 teaspoon dried coconut

Serves 1

1.  Mix all ingredients together.
2.  Chill until set.  EAT!

 

Almond Chia Pudding

1 tablespoon chia seeds (15 g)

1/4 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

stevia or other sweetener of choice

Serves 1

1.  Mix all ingredients together.

2.  Chill until set — about 3-4 hours.  EAT!

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Filed under Desserts, Gluten Free, Vegetarian

Double Chocolate Plantain Bread (Gluten Free) and Book Events

At Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn

At Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn

This past weekend I had back to back book events.  On Saturday, I read B is for Bulldozer and Truck Stop  at Greenlight Bookstore.  I also did this  ultra cute, fun collage project (from No Time For Flashcards) with the children.  Check it out — it is perfect for pre-K and Kindergarten aged kids!

Collage made by me and Jamie

Collage made by me and Jamie

I precut the shapes out of construction paper.  Jamie was my helper and passed them out.  I brought pieces of brown paper bag for “dirt” and encouraged them to tear it up into pieces and glue to their collages.

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Sunday was an amazing event at Books of Wonder on 18th Street in Manhattan.  If you have never been there before, it is a fantastic independent bookstore devoted solely to children’s books.  They do not carry any licensing products — you will not find any Disney or Nickeloden books here!  All the picture books are arranged alphabetically by illustrator, rather than author.  It’s the only bookstore I know of that does this!

>We love it there and go often for events of which there are many.  It’s been a wonderful opportunity to meet legendary book people, like the late Tomi Ungerer or Chris Van Allsberg as well as newer, well-known authors and illustrators.  One of our favorite events was listening to Nortan Juster and Jules Feiffer talk about creating The Phantom Tollbooth last year in celebration of its 50th anniversary.

This Sunday, though, I was on a panel there!  My panel mates are all exceptional picture book creators.  I was honored to be included in the group.

With Brian Floca, Anne Rockwell, Robie Harris, Chris Raschka, Deborah Heiligman.  Not pictured are Leyuen Pham, Doreen Cronin, and Betsy Lewin.

With Brian Floca, Anne Rockwell, Robie Harris, Chris Raschka, Deborah Heiligman. Not pictured are Leyuen Pham, Doreen Cronin, and Betsy Lewin.

I was totally nervous before the event – I am not so comfortable speaking in public anyway, but my anxiety was heightened by the stellar company I was keeping.  Anne Rockwell, who is the most sweetest, generous, warmest person ever, put me at ease.  I was so thankful she was able to make it.  She is a “living legend” as Peter Glassman, owner of Books of Wonder, said in his introduction of her.  She has written over 100 books, many of which she herself illustrated.  You can imagine my immense relief when she told me she love the illustrations for her warm story, Truck Stop!

Anne and I both spoke a bit about how the book came to be and our process of creating it.  Brian Floca spoke about his amazing book, Locamotive.   He actually got to drive an old fashioned locamotive for an afternoon as part of his research.   Robie Harris and Chris Racshka discussed writing and illustrating a book about child fears, When Lions Roar.  The challenge was creating something that wasn’t too scary, but scary enough, and what a delicate line that is.  Deborah Heiligman and Leuyen Pham talked about their book on the life and work of Paul Erdos (The Boy Who Loved Math)  as well as the esoteric system of Erdos numbers.  The wonderful Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin of Click, Clack, Moo! fame have been collaborating for 18 years.  Their newest is Click, Clack, Boo! They spoke about their collaboration and how much trust and respect they have for each other — also how they both share the same sense of humor (obvious if you’ve ever read their hilarious books about duck and Farmer Brown).

Everyone had such an interesting perspective on the work of picture book creating. It was really fascinating and inspirational.  I was so happy to meet finally Chris Raschka and Betsy Lewin  whose illustrations I adore and whose books Jamie grew up with (along with many of Anne’s).

Anne Rockwell and me outside of Books of Wonder after the event.  Do I look relieved?

Anne Rockwell and me outside of Books of Wonder
after the event. Do I look relieved?

It really is such a gift for kids to be able to meet authors and illustrators of the books they love.  If you ever have the opportunity, please do so!  Not every place is like  NYC where there are book events all the time, but in cities across the country, especially at independent book stores, there are events taking place often — and they are free!

With all these book events (not to mention deadlines and travel), this fall has been really busy.  It’s always a pleasure then to find a really, super easy recipe — especially one that is tasty, healthy, kid-friendly, and in this case, gluten free!

Double Chocolate Plantain Bread

Double Chocolate Plantain Bread

I have several people in my life (friends, my niece, Jamie’s friend) who are gluten intolerant.  So I am always on the lookout for some yummy gluten free recipe I can pass onto them or make.  I saw this TWO ingredient plantain bread on purelytwins.com recently, and I’ve been making it and experimenting with different variations and flavors.  The twins recommend using yellow plantains with a few brown spots, as they are less starchy.  But if you want a sweeter, less tangy flavor, the dark ones work too.

plantains

I came up with this Double Chocolate Plantain Bread Mini Loaf that is so moist and delicious.  It’s a nice snack cake for after school or even for breakfast.  I added vanilla, sugar, cocoa powder and chocolate chips to the two ingredient aforementioned plantain bread.  I baked it in a mini loaf pan.  I made the batter in my Vitamix, but any blender or food processor would work just fine (I’ve also made it in a food processor but the Vitamix is easier to clean!)

chocolate plantain bread 2

Double Chocolate Plantain Bread Mini Loaf

non-stick spray

1 large plantain, either yellow with a lot of brown or all brown

2 eggs

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1 tablespoon (or more depending on your taste) sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line the bottom of a mini loaf with parchment and spray with non-stick spray.  Set aside.

2.  Peel and slice plantain. Put in a blender or food processor with eggs, cocoa, and sugar.  Puree until smooth.

3.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Drop chips evenly on top and stir gently to incorporate.

4. Bake for 25-35 minutes, checking with a skewer.  If it comes out clean when poked in the center, the loaf is done.  Check at around 25 minutes.  The center can be very moist and pudding like.  If you like that texture, take it out.  If not, bake a bit longer.

5.  Let cake cool in pan for about 20 minutes, then remove and cool completely.

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Filed under Books, Desserts, Snack, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Princeton Children’s Book Festival and Chocolate Protein Mini Muffins

Denis and I signed Hush Little Monster together

Denis and I signed Hush Little Monster together

This past Saturday we participated in the Princeton Children’s Book Festival.  It was a  beautiful day for celebrating children’s books!

We met a lot of interesting authors and illustrators and wonderfully supportive parents buying books.  It was also great to see old friends.

With Anne Rockwell, author of Truck Stop, and her daughter and illustrator, Lizzy Rockwell,

With Anne Rockwell, author of Truck Stop, and her daughter and illustrator, Lizzy Rockwell

With Denise Dowling-Mortensen, author of Good Night Engines and Wake Up Engines--we met in 2004, the year Jamie was born and when Good Night Engines was released. :)

With Denise Dowling-Mortensen, author of Good Night Engines and Wake Up Engines–we met in 2004, the year Jamie was born and when Good Night Engines was released. 🙂

I made mini donuts to hand out — they looked like these and the recipe is here:

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Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of them — I was too distraught over finding my cake stand had broken en route! The good news was that the pile of donuts quickly disappeared within the first couple of hours.

Jamie was a trooper and didn’t mind having to be with us at the festival all day long with no playmates.  He wandered about the four tents of 20 authors and illustrators and looked at books, sampled treats, and had his program signed by all 80 of them!

Table seating of each tent

Table seating of each tent

He also scored  cute drawings from Dave Roman (author/illustrator of the Astronaut Academy series) and Alexis Fredrick Frost (of Adventures in Cartooning fame):

dave roman sketches

By Alexis Fredrick Frost

By Alexis Fredrick Frost

Thank you so much for being so kind to my son!

Jamie also got to choose a couple books for himself and a friend which he had signed by Dave Roman and Fiona Robertson.  It’s so special when you can give and receive an autographed copy!

By Dave Roman

By Dave Roman

By Eva Ibbotson, Illustrated by Fiona Robertson

By Eva Ibbotson, Illustrated by Fiona Robertson

I knew it would be a long day of meeting people and signing books, as well as traveling to and from the event.  It’s the kind of situation where you never know if you’ll get really hungry in a place where there might not be healthy, portable options available.  In preparation, I made a dozen Shelly’s Chocolate Protein Mini Muffins to bring with us.

Chocolate Protein Mini Muffins

Chocolate Protein Mini Muffins

This recipe is from The World According to Eggface — a fantastic blog with lots of great recipes.  These muffins came in handy when we were stranded on the platform after just missing our train back to the city!  It was dinner time and we had to wait for the next train–in the end we were kind of glad we did, because we got to ride with more of our festival compatriots who arrived at the train station later.  Plus, we weren’t hungry anymore!

This coming weekend, I have more book events.  If you are in the NYC area, please come join me.  I will be at Greenlight Bookstore (686 Fulton Street at South Portland, Brooklyn, NY)  on Saturday, September 28 from 11- 12, reading Truck Stop and the board book version of B is for Bulldozer, which was just released this month!  On Sunday, September 29, I will be on a panel with Anne Rockwell and several other authors at Books of Wonder (18 West 18th street between 5th and 6th Avenues) from 1-3 pm.

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Filed under Art Related, Books, Breakfast, Children, Snack, Travel, Vegetarian

Green as a Coconut, Spinach, Chocolate Smoothie

Topped with toasted coconut and sliced almonds

Topped with toasted coconut and sliced almonds


So this is only day 2 of my weaning myself off of caffeine, and I feel like this:

Copyright Melissa Iwai 2005

Copyright Melissa Iwai 2005

All I want to do is sleep.  Which probably means I am sleep deprived.  Which is why I decided to stop drinking coffee in the first place.  I have been struggling with insomnia and stress, and hopefully this will help with that.  Unfortunately, I have a lot of work to do, and my daily coffee seemed to help make me so much more productive!  Have any of you dealt with this issue?  Any advice or tips you can give?

In the meantime, I’m still trying to keep a healthy lifestyle.  I’m still drinking my smoothies.  Jamie too.  Remember this one?  It’s his favorite Chocolate Banana Smoothie (with Secret Ingredient).

These days, I drink one daily and it’s a riff on Jamie’s Chocolate Banana Smoothie and my Strawberry Bliss Smoothie.

Strawberry Banana High Fiber Smoothie

Strawberry Banana High Fiber Smoothie

It has the frozen fruit, spinach (whoops! there goes the secret!), and pysllium husk that those have, but I’ve also added protein powder and coconut milk as well.  I often try to make it as thick as possible so I can eat it with a spoon.  I top it with a little toasted coconut and almonds, and it makes me feel like I’m eating a soft serve ice cream for breakfast.  This is especially nice in these hot summer months!

I toast unsweetened coconut and sliced almonds on foil in the toaster oven.

I toast unsweetened coconut and sliced almonds on foil in the toaster oven.

I keep frozen banana, various fruits, frozen spinach in a bag, and frozen coconut milk in the freezer at all times.

One can of Trader Joe's Light Coconut Milk fills one ice cube tray. How convenient!

One can of Trader Joe’s Light Coconut Milk fills one ice cube tray. How convenient!

I freeze the coconut milk in an ice cube tray.  One cube equals 2 tablespoons, if you are curious.  When it hardens, I transfer the cubes to a ziploc freezer bag and store for future use –i.e. almost every morning.

This is what I put in the blender:

ingredients

The fruit I used this time was nectarine, but that varies.

Frozen Coconut Milk, Banana, Nectarine, and Spinach

Frozen Coconut Milk, Banana, Nectarine, and Spinach–pretty!

I know it looks green and icky, but it is SOOO good!

I know it looks green and icky, but it is SOOO good!

Here's a more Martha Stewart photo for ya!

Here’s a more Martha Stewart photo for ya!

Coconut, Spinach, Chocolate Protein Smoothie

2-3 ice cubes

1/4 frozen banana (I slice them and freeze, so this is about 4 slices)

1 cube of frozen coconut milk (or 2 tablespoons)

a handful of other frozen fruit — I use nectarines and strawberries often

1 teaspoon psyllium husk (if you want more fiber — also it acts as a thickening agent.  You could also use Chia Seeds)

a little less than 1/4 cup milk (or almond milk if you want to keep it vegan), depending on how liquid you want the final to be

teaspoon of toasted coconut and almond for garnish (optional)

1.  Crush ice cubes in blender.

2.  Pour in remaining ingredients and blend. If you make it thick, like mine, you need a tamper to press everything down — I use a Vitamix.  If you don’t have a tamper, I would just keep stirring it every now and then by hand to remove clumps, and blend again.

3.  Pour into a wide rimmed glass or bowl and top with crunchy toasted coconut and almond topping if you desire!

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Filed under Beverages, Breakfast, Vegetarian

BookCourt and Mini Donuts Three Ways

5 dozen Mini Muffins and 7 dozen Mini Donuts

5 dozen Mini Muffins and 7 dozen Mini Donuts

Last Saturday we had our book launch at BookCourt in Brooklyn.  We’re so lucky to have such a fantastic independent bookstore in our neighborhood!

Anne reading Truck Stop.

Anne reading Truck Stop.

Anne Rockwell, the author, came all the way from Stamford, CT to be there!  It was nice to see her again.  If I had any brain cells I would have had Denis take a picture of us in front of the store!

Talking about how I made the artwork.

Talking about how I made the artwork.

It was well attended and a lot people ended up staying a long time even after the reading was over (that’s a sign of a good bookstore!)

I made mini donuts and mini muffins for the occasion.  Luckily there were no leftovers to bring back home…  A big THANK YOU to all those who showed up!

Cinnamon sugar, chocolate, vanilla with chocolate glaze, and vanilla with sprinkles

Cinnamon sugar, chocolate, vanilla with chocolate glaze, and vanilla with sprinkles

 

Note:  I used a mini donut pan.  You could make regular sized donuts instead.  You will have to bake them for about 15 minutes and it will make about 1 dozen for each recipe.

Baked Vanilla Donuts with Vanilla and Chocolate Glaze (based on this recipe from theKitchn. I used a different method for the glaze because I wanted to make sure the glaze would be firm enough for transport)

Non-stick spray

2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)

2 tablespoons warm water

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 large eggs

1 cup plain yogurt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Vanilla glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

water

Drop of food coloring if you want!

sprinkles

Chocolate glaze:

2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

milk as needed (about 1-2 tablespoons)

Cinnamon Sugar:

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

sprinkles

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Spray donut pan with non-stick spray.

2.  In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water and set aside.  In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

3.  In another bowl, whisk the eggs, yogurt, melted butter, vanilla extract, and yeast mixture until combined.  Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until incorporated.

4.  Spoon batter into donut pan –just a little bit — about half way.  With the mini donut pan, you don’t need much! It will spill over and look like a muffin.

5.  Bake donuts until puffed and golden, about 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 5 minutes on rack.  Transfer donuts to rack to cool.

6.  For vanilla glaze, I just added vanilla and a bit of water a little at a time to sugar until the consistency is opaque but still wet.

7.  For chocolate glaze, melt chocolate and butter together in microwave in 30 second intervals.  Stir until smooth.  Add sugar gradually.  Add milk if it is too thick.

8.  For cinnamon sugar topping, mix sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.

9.  To decorate, dip donuts in glazes and sprinkle with sprinkles if desired.   Dip on both sides in cinnamon sugar mixture.

Baked Chocolate Donuts (based on this recipe on Mom Advice

Non-stick spray

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

4 teaspoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons coffee

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 325 F.

2.  Coat donut pan with non-stick spray.

3.  Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

4. In another bowl, whisk milk, sugar, egg, butter, coffee, and vanilla until smooth.

5.  Add milk mixture to flour mixture.  Whisk until fully incorporated.

6.  Fill donut pan a bit less than half-way full.  Bake for 8 minutes or until donuts spring back when touched.

7.  Cool in pan for about 5 minutes on rack.  Remove donuts to cool on rack.

8.  Dip in vanilla glaze (see above).

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Filed under Art Related, Books, Breakfast, Children, Desserts

My Life Will Go Back to Normal after Valentine’s Day!

Melissa Iwai 2013

Melissa Iwai 2013

Other than being completely sleep deprived (I stayed up until 6 this morning and 5:30 a couple of days ago– they all seem to blur together), and not having left the house since last Saturday, I am still alive.  I have been living in a strange universe where Denis is doing all the child care, cooking and cleaning!  I’m not ill so no worries, just consumed with an out of control job I would normally never take, involving a lot of computer/tech issues, major pressure, and not enough time to do it all. Hence the staying up all night working….  It’s brought back memories of when I lived in an adrenaline infused haze when Jamie was an infant and didn’t sleep for more than two hours at a time.

It will all be over after Valentine’s Day, though, so I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I hope everyone has a lovely one with your lovelies, and hope you all get a lot of chocolates!

I’ll be back to the blog then.

🙂

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Filed under Art Related