I don’t know about where you live, but here in San Antonio, it’s been rainy for a couple of weeks. While we’re glad for the rain, it can make going out difficult. I’m the sort of person who loves rain and rainy days (when I don’t have to be out in it), but rainy spring days are different to me than rainy fall/winter days. In the colder months, I like to spend my rainy days watching old favorites, reading cozy books, drinking hot drinks, and eating comfort food. While I still like to laze around on rainy spring days, it’s not quite the same. I still like watching favorite movies and reading favorite books, but I’d rather eat lighter food, and I might even feel like accomplishing a (fun) project. Today, we’ll discuss some of the things that I’ve done during this past week of rain.
I’ve recently become captivated by a book series that you may have heard of: The Guardians of Ga’Hoole series. I’d heard of the movie, but the premise of the first book captured more of my attention than the movie previews had. After zipping through the first book in a day and a half, I was officially hooked. The books are easy to read with characters that are easy to relate to and situations that make you want to stay up til 3 AM to see how it ends (not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything). I’ve already read the first 3 books (there are 16), and am eagerly awaiting when I can start the next.
We’ve been eating a lot of Mexican food lately, so I’ve had some extra tomatoes to use up. I love lightly toasting a piece of bread and spreading it with whipped cream cheese or ricotta and then topping it with the sliced tomatoes that have been sprinkled with salt and freshly cracked pepper. I also want to try this with cool cucumbers! (Update, it’s amazing with cucumbers and with radishes. Yum!)
Tonight, we had tacos, which gave me the opportunity to try DIY taco seasoning. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m trying to slowly start making many of the items that one would normally buy from the store. I figured that if I make it as I need it, it won’t be too overwhelming. I know that taco seasoning is not expensive, but it does seem just a little silly to buy those little packets when I already have all the same spices in my spice cabinet. My husband said that it was really tasty, and he liked how it didn’t taste really salty like some of the packets do. I quintupled the recipe, which should give me around 10 servings (I think). There are a lot of recipes out there, but I went with one from a popular food blogger.
Taco Seasoning (from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)
1 tbsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1 pinch cayenne (Or a little more if you like spicier food like we do.)
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1. Mix all the ingredients together. Use 1-2 tbsp. per lb. of meat.
(Note: If you’re using this on meat for a sauce, measure the taco seasoning into 1/2-3/4 c. of water, then add in 1-2 tbsp. flour and whisk it together. Then when you pour it over the meat, it’ll thicken up to make a kind of gravy that will cling to the meat. It really enhances the flavor.)
This week’s movie choice would be perfect for a rainy day: Miss Congeniality. (Trailer aqui.) In this oldie, but a goodie Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) is a tough, tomboy FBI agent who is married to her job. Unfortunately for a fellow agent (Benjamin Bratt), she’s also his only choice to go undercover when the Miss United States pageant is threatened by a terrorist organization . With the help of a retired pageant coach (Michael Caine) she is visibly transformed into a beauty queen, but it’s the new friends she makes that really change her life. As you can imagine, it’s a hilarious movie that also contains many touching moments. Some of my favorite moments are her fight with agent Matthews, her makeover, and her second talent show. The movie is chock full of funny lines, but here are some of my personal favorites: “Is this you not arguing? Because you suck at it.”, ”Yeah, I’m gonna get chip-faced.”, ”What was the question? I was distracted by the half-masticated cow rolling around in your wide open trap.”, ”It’s all in the buttocks. Don’t I look pretty?”, ”Hey! I’m gliding here.”, and everybody’s favorite, ”I’m in a dress, I have gel in my hair, I haven’t slept all night, I’m starved, and I’m armed. Don’t mess with me.”
There wasn’t a lot of food in this movie, but her talk about getting chip-faced (gorging on Ben & Jerry’s chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream) reminded me that I’d been wanting to try some of the chocolate chip cookie dough dips that I’ve seen floating around on Pinterest. I actually decided to try 2, because one of them is made from a special ingredient. The first dip comes from a great blogger that I follow, the Brown Eyed Baker. This is the one my husband preferred, but I actually found it to be a little too sweet.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip I (from the Brown Eyed Baker)
1/2 c. butter
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar
3/4 c. mini semisweet chocolate chips
1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Stir continuously til the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, whisk in the vanilla, and set aside to cool.
2. In a bowl, beat the cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar for 1 minutes. Slowly beat in the cooled butter mix and beat for 1 minutes. Stir in the chocolate chips and refrigerate til serving.
The second dip is from a healthy dessert blogger and is made from ….. wait for it …..chickpeas! I was actually a little skeptical, but I figured that I already liked hummus, so it wouldn’t be a big loss if it didn’t taste great. Surprisingly, it was good, but the texture was kind of funny and you’d occasionally get hints of chickpea. Around 3 PM today, I was scrounging through the cabinets to find something to munch on. Suddenly, I remembered that I had made these dips. I pulled the chickpea one out and was super pleasantly surprised to find that the texture and taste were both much better after having sat in the fridge overnight. I am definitely a big fan, and find it hard to believe that it’s pretty healthy for you. The only change I made to it was using mini chocolate chips instead of regular. Since the recipe didn’t specify what sweetener to use, I used a little brown sugar and a little maple syrup.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip II (from Chocolate-Covered Katie)
1 15 oz. can drained chickpeas (In the future, I’d skin the chickpeas first for a better texture. See here for an explanation.)
1/8 tsp. + 1/16 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. peanut butter
Up to 1/4 c. milk
3 tbsp.-2/3 c. sweetener (You can use whatever you like: sugar, brown sugar, agave, honey, maple syrup, etc.)
2-3 tbsp. oats
1/3 c. chocolate chips (I really liked using the mini chips.)
1. Put all of the ingredients except for the chocolate chips in a food processor (start with less milk and sweetener, then add more, if necessary, after tasting) and blend til very smooth. Mix in the chocolate chips and refrigerate.
I am telling you, you HAVE to try this dip! Make it, let it hang out in the fridge for several hours, and then feed it to a loved one without telling them what’s in it. You’ll be amazed at their response and its decadent taste. Then you can come back here and share your experience.