How Do I Love Thee, Almond Milk

I’ve been making the tapioca pudding lately with half almond milk and half whole milk.  At this concentration, it is indistinguishable, at least to me, from having used all whole milk.  Even when using ALL almond milk, there is not a lot of difference.

But the difference in calorie count is astounding!  Whole milk is 160 calories a cup and almond milk is thirty.  Add in the caloric value of the tapioca itself (1/3 cup is 180 calories), and the two eggs (approximately 150), and nearly a QUART of this delicious dessert is right at 500 calories.  If I use all almond milk, the calorie count would be an astoundingly tiny 370 calories, or about 100 per cup of finished pudding.

I checked out the calorie count in a Starbucks Latte, and noted that a 16-ounce size, made with 2% milk, is 190 calories.  So these two treats are very close in calorie count.  I drink my share of coffee, but I think I’d rather have the nutrition involved with the milk and eggs in the tapioca than an extra cup of coffee from Starbucks.

Every time I make this delicious treat, I hold back about a quarter of a cup –  strictly for experimental purposes, you understand – as I pour it into the refrigerator container!  Today I added a generous spoonful of orange juice concentrate and a tiny sprinkle of coconut sugar, and gave it a taste test!

YES!  it was like a liquid Creamsicle!

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First Asparagus

I hadn’t really contemplated dinner, so when it came time to do some serious thinking, this is what I came up with.  I’d been to the grocery store the afternoon before, so there was plenty to choose from.

I started with the asparagus; then plotted the rest of the menu.  What you see above is the simple version of pork scallopini.  I just dredged these thinly-sliced, boneless pork chops in some highly seasoned (thank you, Penzey’s) flour and quickly sautéed them in avocado oil.  I seldom fry anything with a coating like this, but the avocado oil is just so good for a quick fry like this.

The Spanish rice was a snap.  I had leftover rice (a planned over, of course), so added a few spoonfuls of the deli Mexican salsa that is a staple around here, and some chopped tomato and red pepper that had been left from lunch today.  A few shreds of cheese to give the rice some body without making it all sticky.  Clearly a generous sprinkling of thinly-sliced scallions or Mexican onions would have been appropriate, but alas, I had forgotten to buy any the day before.

Despite this glaring omission, the meal received repeated rave reviews throughout the evening!  Even though his taste buds are all but obliterated, DH certainly does enjoy my offerings, and is not shy in heaping on the praise!  ;->

This week “off” each month from the chemo infusions brings about a bit of an improvement in his appetite, and the ability to taste individual nuances, so it was nice to see him able to enjoy these subtle flavors.

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Pizza Quick

I’ve seen tiny packages of snack pizzas that purport to be the same as – for instance T.G.I. Friday’s offerings – but the price, the extraneous preservatives and other “enhancing” ingredients, plus the need to keep a fairly large paper package frozen, have always seemed to bring me to a screeching halt.  The premise seems good, i.e. a quick, satisfying snack that doesn’t take much effort on one’s part.

There are so many ways to produce this same pleasure with simple items that you no doubt already have – or can easily acquire and keep on hand.  Think:  bread, meat, cheese, herbs, veggies.  Almost any combination done this way is wonderful, but – well, back to pizza!!

First assess what makes pizza a pizza – the essence of tomato, garlic, Italian herbs, and cheese – on some sort of firm bread base.  Then you can work from there to produce something that will make your taste buds very anxious for you to finish the task.

Above you see two French bread rolls cut into halves and spread with tomato paste, which I then sprinkled with a good dose of Italian herbs and some extra oregano.

Next up – slices of fresh mozzarella.  Regular mozzarella is perfectly acceptable, too; I was just fortunate enough to have found some on sale at 50% off, which made it almost painless to purchase and enjoy.

Then I added some thin slices of pepperoni.  This is a cakewalk, as pepperoni lasts basically forever.  I buy it unsliced to keep down the exposure to air, and just slice off a bit at the time of need.

Now comes the fun part.  What else goes on there?  Well, just about anything that will stay put once the cheese melts, and that tickles your fancy.  Here I’ve used a bit of jarred roasted red pepper, and a sprinkling of scallion slices.

A favorite, though, is the red, yellow, and green bell peppers that come frozen and are frequently enough on sale for a dollar a pound to make it worthwhile to keep a few bags on hand at all times.  They are wonderful for all sorts of uses.  And black olives . . . don’t count them out.  They add a lot to a small bit of food like this.

Another favorite is mushrooms.  Fresh is best, of course, but they should be precooked because of the excess moisture that cooks out of them when exposed to heat.  “Cooked” mushrooms come in cans and jars, and are acceptable enough for this sort of quickie snack.

No doubt you will have favorite bread “bottoms” (English muffins, leftover hamburger or hot dog buns, French rolls, bolillos, etc.).  All work well if you take care not to load the softer breads with too many goodies.

Now I toast these up in my Cuisinart Oven Central, but this can be accomplished easily in a toaster oven, or even in a heavy frying pan (with a cover) on the stove top.  This isn’t a “shove it in and walk away” method, though.  Your attention should be somewhere nearby at all times.

I’ve done it all three ways with success.  It takes just slightly longer than reheating leftover pizza that you may have brought home from a restaurant, and a lot less time and fuel than firing up a stove oven to fix the frozen variety.

It’s pretty easy, too, to enlarge on this method by using eggplant slices as the “bread”.  This is a definite favorite here for a regular dinner.  I slice the eggplant long ways, and cook them a bit before adding the rest of the ingredients.  If there is a smidge leftover, then the whole of it can be plopped atop a sturdy piece of bread for an excellent lunch.  Yup – just heat and eat!

Clearly this method lends itself to any combination of foods that pleases you, not just pizza.  It is really quite satisfying to bite into these treats knowing that everything is fresh, delicious, and nourishing!

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It started out as Split Pea Soup, but things have a way of morphing in my kitchen.

I had a lovely vat of home brewed chicken broth, and it was a chilly (for Arizona !) day, so a nice bowl of homemade soup seemed appropriate.  DH loves split pea soup, so the above result revealed itself.

I had made some beef and veggies (beef, carrots, celery, onions, potatoes) in the InstantPot the night before, and had the veggies and some of these lovely rigatoni noodle-y things left over.  A plan was forming.

When hams are on sale around holidays, I always get one, whack it into meal-sized pieces and freeze the pieces for occasions such as this.  This gave me plenty of generously-sized ham pieces to brown up separately and add to the soup.

Then I raided  the carrots, celery and onions and added them to the split pea soup, along with some of the rigatoni that I heated separately so it wouldn’t cool the soup too much.

I always keep the pasta (or any other addition like this) out separately from a dish because they soak up all the juices whilst in the refrigerator.  Bonus:  This allows me to vary the starch in any given dish for variety.

The Penzey’s Vindaloo addition was really nice.  I’m not a big fan of curry, but this is “curry light” – just enough bite to be interesting, but not the overwhelming feeling I always get from a traditional Indian dish.

In fact, yesterday I made a batch of barley in the Nissan vacuum bottle and then added that to the same soup, for an entirely different feel.  By this time, the split peas had turned to complete mush and were just part of the broth, so the barley turned the whole thing into a completely different soup.

I misjudged how much we would eat of the soup, and put barley in all that was left.  And then we didn’t eat it all.  So, now I will have another thick soup.  Barley doesn’t soak up as much of the fluid as either noodles or rice, but does its share.

I have several cups of soup left, so we’ll see what lunchtime brings today.


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Five-grain Cereal with Almonds

The tapioca experiments are ongoing, and you will be hearing a lot more about them, but meanwhile, I wanted to share this bowl of cereal that I am, at this very moment, consuming with great joy.

If is our usual five-grain cooked cereal, but with a bit of a different twist today.  Usually I cover it with cut-up fruit, orange juice concentrate, turmeric, yogurt, and chia, sesame, and sunflower seeds, .

Today, it was sliced almonds, almond-coconut milk, concentrated pomegranate juice, and cinnamon.  A nice change.  I’ll eat an apple later.

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I’m not as sure footed as I once was, so when I go out to fill the water pond for the animals, I always take my phone in case I slip and fall.

Good thing I had it today because this wonderful creature crawled out from under the log when the water came near him.  I’m not sure if he was trying to get away from the water, or closer.

He posed for me for quite a while.  I got bored first!  Isn’t he bee-yoo-ti-ful?


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Peanut Butter Pudding

Continuing with my experimentation with Tapioca Pudding . . .

Some iterations are bound to be more aesthetically pleasing than others, and this one was so delicious, it is almost indescribable.  Think “peanut butter cup” – only a lot more delicious, and satisfyingly good for you.

I hadn’t quite decided if I had time right then to experiment with this batch, so I just poured it into the quart container to let it cool a bit before putting it into the refrigerator.  There was a small bit of grated chocolate sitting on the counter, so I sprinkled that down the center just for fun.

I got busy, and kind of forgot about experimenting, but then I got hungry . . .

A small scoop of the still warm tapioca mixed with about a tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter, and the tiny bit of chocolate that came off the top produced a taste treat that surprised even me. The cinnamon was handy, so why not?  What a fabulous addition!  ;->

Maybe it was because everything was kind of warm, but the flavors melded together in a most heavenly way.  Because it was still warm, the pudding ran a bit onto itself in the refrigerator container, but that was of no consequence.

Don’t be shy; give it a try!  ;->

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