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Saturday, June 09, 2018

Double Trouble

It's been an incredibly long time since my last blog post, and I have nothing to say for myself! I will, however, offer two rather large, furry excuses for my absence - their names are Bella and Pixie:

I took responsibility for these girls about 18 months ago, and they have been both a delight and a challenge! While incredibly fun and loving, they are also a bit like having toddlers that can climb just about anywhere and get into everything. Such a change from my older girl! Xena has spoiled me for nearly two decades with her calm, intelligent, sensible approach to life. As one friend noted, she's been more like a housemate than a pet:

Now that she has attained "little old lady" status, I try to keep Xena as safe and comfortable as possible, which also means keeping her separated from the younger two. It's been quite a learning curve, but we've (thankfully) reached a point of stasis that seems to suit everyone. Mind, all three would each prefer to be the only cat in the house and the center of all my attention, but they'll just have to go on sharing ;-)

To celebrate my two younger ones, here's a recipe with twice the chocolate to keep you (and me!) going for the long haul:

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups almond flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup honey (local, if available!)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (mini chips like these work nicely)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, stir together almond flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt until combined. In a large bowl, cream butter, honey and vanilla together until smooth, then add dry ingredients and stir until completely incorporated. Gently stir in chips. Using a Tablespoon scoop or measure, drop onto lined cookie sheets and bake, one sheet at a time, for 10-12 minutes (you should get about 24 cookies total). Although they will puff while baking, the cookies will flatten as they cool. Transfer pans to racks and let cool completely before removing with a spatula (the cookies will still be very soft). Store in an airtight container at room temperature, or refrigerate for firmer cookies.

Notes: These cookies are a great choice for anyone with egg and/or wheat sensitivities. They will remain soft and chewy if stored properly, and also freeze well. Substitute any flavor chips for the chocolate chips, or replace with chopped dried fruit or nuts. And just three more words: ice cream sandwiches!


Friday, February 03, 2017

Double Dip

Let's face it: sometimes a delicious, creamy dip makes all the difference when trying to eat your raw veggies. But what if that dip already had veggies in it? I'd call that brilliant! As a bonus, this dip just happens to be dairy-free, perfect for sharing with anyone who might need to avoid it. With beans for a boost of protein, and heart-healthy olive oil as well, go ahead -- keep dipping!

Baby Greens and White Bean Dip

Extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, sliced lengthwise (remove "sprout" in center if starting to turn green)
5 oz. baby spinach, baby kale, baby Swiss chard, or a combination
1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Red wine vinegar (or fresh lemon juice, if you have it)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, gently sautee garlic in a few Tablespoons of oil until fragrant, then add beans and stir to coat and warm through, absorbing the garlicky oil. Add greens in batches and wilt, seasoning sparingly with salt and pepper with each batch, until all the greens are cooked (at this point, you actually have a nice little side dish of greens and beans - keep that in your back pocket for another time!). Let the mixture cool.

In a blender or food processor, blend greens and beans with a few more Tablespoons of olive oil, a splash or two of vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. The dip should be creamy, but still retain some texture. Serve with veggie sticks, pita chips, or use as a spread on sandwiches!

Notes: Adapted from this recipe, which is extremely delicious in its own right :-)


Friday, September 16, 2016

Bar None

The best part about pie is the contrast between that sweet, tangy filling and the flaky crust. My favorite part, especially with pumpkin pie, is where the filling meets the back corner of the pie, when there's just a bit of it left to go with the ever-so-slightly salty crust holding it up. It might not be for everyone, but thankfully, you get to choose - lots of filling, less filling, it's all up to you! I've experimented with these bars several times, and I had only one rule: the crust had to be sugarless, to mimic that pie-like flavor. But I must warn you, these bars are somewhat addictive, and frighteningly easy to make!

Pumpkin Butter Bars

1/2 cup very soft butter
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2-2 cups pumpkin butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream butter and salt together, then add flour and stir to combine as much as you can. At that point, scrunch the mixture between your fingertips to ensure the butter is evenly distributed and there are no dry pockets of flour left. Reserve 1/2 cup of the crumbs, then spread the remainder evenly into your prepared pan and press firmly to form the base. Bake for 15 minutes to set, then remove and (carefully) spread the pumpkin butter over the base, and sprinkle with the reserved crumbs. Return to the oven and bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until just slightly golden and the edges of the filling start to bubble. Let cool completely before cutting into squares. Cover and store any unused portion in the fridge, but let the bars come to room temperature before trying to cut them again.

Notes: Use whatever fruit butter, fruit spread or preserves you like best - and feel free to use half as much filling if you prefer, as the sweetness will still carry through quite well. You can easily double the recipe, reserving a full cup of crumbs for the top, and bake in a 9x13-inch pan for the same times as given above. What flavor will you try?