In Part 2 of my Fast & Easy Valentine’s Day Dessert Recipes (If you Missed Part 1 with Vegan Fudge or Chocolate Covered Strawberries, Click Here) but yesterday I made Peanut Butter Cup & Dark Chocolate Carmel Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Cup & Dark Chocolate Carmel Chocolate Chip Cookies in muffin tin
Cookies stacked in clear container

Non-Vegan with Reese’s Cup Centers

Non-Vegan Cookeies with Reese's Cup Centers
Close up of cookies
Cookies stacked in clear container

And Non-Vegan with Dove Dark Chocolate Caramel Centers

Non-Vegan Cookies with Dove Dark Chocolate Caramel Centers
Close up of Non-Vegan Cookies with Dove Dark Chocolate Caramel Centers

And Vegan Options too!
Whip up some high Raw Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Raw Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

And then make some Raw Vegan Chocolate for the Centers using the my Recipe for making homemade Raw Vegan Chocolate

Raw Vegan Chocolate in bowl with spoon

Or make up a batch of homemade Recipe for Homemade White Vegan Chocolate Sauce

Homemade White Vegan Chocolate Sauce in bowl with spoon

Or just stick with high Raw Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls.  I always love balls! TWSS!

Raw Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls on white plate
Close up of Raw Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

I also mentioned that over the weekend I am doing a 2 Hour Live Cooking Demonstration and Q & A Session with Yoga Students and those in Teacher Training this weekend. I want to gear my presentation to things that are useful and asked you what you’d like to know about raw foods, raw cooking, what tips and tricks you’d like to hear about and you came through with everything from “Make Sure You Mention the Raw Vegan Avocado Chocolate Mousse Recipe” to Getting a little tripped up On What is Raw and Make it Easy!, to Are Grains Raw, and that type of thing.

Check out the newly working comments if you’d like!  And Thanks for Your Suggestions about Presentation Topics!!!!

Now that we’re all caught up, Today I want to talk about

A Few of My Favorite Kitchen Things
1. First, Coffee Maker.  This is a no brainer since I love my coffee. I’ve had this machine about 9 months.

Cuisinart Coffee Maker

And this mug about 2 days.

Homemade Painted Mug

They both are working perfectly.  Together.

Coffee Maker Brewing coffee into Homemade Mug

2.  My Espresso Maker

Espresso MakerDigital Display on espresso maker

You Can Read All About the Finer Points of It Here

Espresso maker box

Seriously, it came with pH testing strips for the water to help it “know” how to brew the espresso better.

Booklet ant package with PH testing strips
One PH testing strip

I have perfected a Vegan Caramel Macchiato and it makes me happy & warm inside.

Vegan Caramel Macchiato

The drink makes me happy and warm inside. In addition to the fact that I don’t have to rely on Starbucks’ overpriced drinks also makes me happy inside!

Overhead of Vegan Caramel Macchiato

3. My Microwave. I use it.  I like it. And although in a perfect world, I’d prefer not to use it as I’ve mentioned before, but there are times when it’s easiest, fastest, the and most convenient option. Katie (and oh yeah, it’s Vegan Thursday!) got alot of great comments on the Are microwaves safe issue, and, I know Heather’s not a fan, and I don’t love the nuke box either, but it’s a tool in my kitchen that I use!

Stainless Steel Microwave

How else would I melt the chocolate for my Raw Vegan Peanut Butter Cups??!!

Melted chocolate in bowl with spoon
Split Raw Vegan Peanut Butter Cup on top of itself

4. Next Up is my Dehydrator

Dehydrator
Excalibur Food Dehydrator logo

You can Read all About What Model I Have Here

Dehydrator with tray pulled out

My Favorite Recipe to Create in it is Kale Chips

Kale Chips on Dehydrator Trays
Overhead of Kale Chips on tray

I’ve Got 2 Kale Chip Coating Recipes: One for a Moderate Bunch of Kale
and This One for a Really Big Batch of Kale Chips

Close up of Kale Chip

Thin-n-crispy raw vegan kale chip

Hand holding Kale Chip
Little Noochy Covered Tree
Cheese sauce covered Kale Chip
Kale Chip covered with cheese sauce
Close up of Kale Chips stacked

Skylar begs me for kale chips.

Young girl eating plateful of Kale Chips

We are the cloth napkin using, re-usable stainless steel non-BPA sippy cup drinking, yoga doing, crunchy kinda crowd…

Young girl with plate of Kale Chips smiling

…that stuff our faces with kale chips!

Young girl eating a kale chip

However, as I have mentioned before, You Don’t Need a Dehydrator! For recipes that call for a dehydrator, use a 200F oven or as low as your oven goes, keep the door ajar if you want to lower the temp even more, and call it good. I usually dehydrate in the 140-150F range because I don’t have the patience for 105 or 118F. Not to mention, as Noni Shannon has written about, it can be a Food Safety Issue keeping wet produce at such a low temperature for dozens of hours at a time so it doesn’t bother me to jack up the heat a little bit.

Please also see this post for updated thoughts about my dehydrator (November 2011)

5. Moving Along, a Dehydrator is Fun, but save your money and Buy a Vita-Mix long before you buy a dehydrator.  Or buy any kind of food processor. Buy something to blend and pulverize!

Vita Mix Blender disassembled

I make Everything from Vegan Gluten-Free Pancakes in it

Ingredients for Vegan Gluten-Free Pancakes in blender
Blended up Vegan Gluten-Free Pancake batter
Vegan Gluten-Free Pancakes with butter, blueberries and syrupClose up of Vegan Gluten-Free Pancakes with dripping syrup

to high Raw Vegan Peanut Butter Vanilla Balls

Vegan Peanut Butter Vanilla Balls
Close up of Vegan Peanut Butter Vanilla Balls

to Raw Vegan Chocolate Peppermint Donut Holes

Raw Vegan Chocolate Peppermint Donut Holes

…You Do Need a Good Blending Device. For me, it’s my Vita. For you, get whatever your budget allows and pray that Santa is good to you next year!

Bottom of Vita Mix Blender

6. My Spiralizer.  The one I have and use is the Paderno World Cuisine model from Amazon

Spiralizer

I created this recipe with it…

Raw Vegan Feast: Raw Spiralized Zucchini Noodles Tossed with Veggies and Homemade Peanut Sauce

This Meal is a Keeper!
Raw Spiralized Zucchini Noodles Tossed with Veggies and Homemade Peanut Sauce
Especially because it’s tossed in Homemade Peanut Sauce
Close up of Raw Spiralized Zucchini Noodles Tossed with Veggies and Homemade Peanut Sauce

7. All the equipment in the world, however, can’t compare with good knives.

Knife blocks

I use my knives more than anything else in my kitchen and my cutting board. I have 2 favorite cutting boards and both of them are so cut up, relayed, and parlayed, they aren’t photo-worthy, at all.
For my knives, I love my HencklesWusthof is another great brand.  And if I had an extra hundred bucks, I wouldn’t buy a pair of Rock & Republic Jeans (they’re more than a hundred anyway), I’d buy a knife! That came out a little funny, but it’s true!

There knives on countertop

There is no possible way to be a good cook without decent knives. The first thing everyone should buy to outfit your kitchen, in my opinion, is a good knife.  A 6 or 7 inch chef’s knife or a Santoku Knife is the first investment I’d recommend anyone making.

Close up of one knife

And Last But Not Least, My Favorite Kitchen Thing Person is this Peanut: Skylar!

Young girl standing and smiling in kitchen

Who dances around like a Nut and makes it more interesting, no doubt, in the kitchen!

Young girl dancing in kitchen

Dinner Was Mixed Greens, Asparagus, Brussels, Tomatoes, Carrots, and Cukes

Green salad with mixed vegetables

With a Fresh Batch of Vegan Slaw Dressing that I made.

Vegan Slaw Dressing in jar
Lidded Jar of Vegan Slaw Dressing
Mixed salad with Vegan Slaw Dressing

Dessert was Vegan Fudge

Vegan Fudge
Slice of Vegan Fudge with sprinkles
Close up of cut piece of Vegan Fudge

and Chocolate Covered Strawberries.  What can I say, Valentine’s Day with the choc-n-berry action came a little early for me!

Container of Strawberries
snack bites

Yoga Today is Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana (One-Legged Upward Facing Bow, or One-Legged Backbend)

Woman doing Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana yoga pose

 

Questions:
What’s your Favorite Thing in the Kitchen? What do you use multiple times every day and cannot imagine not having?

What item do you want?  Why?  How would you use it? Trust me, if I have tons of readers all tell me they want a VitaMix, I may write to VitaMix and mention this as a Give Away. Don’t get your hopes up or anything, but hey, I’d try it for you guys!

Do You Consider Yourself to be Good in the Kitchen?  Are you a good cook? A bad one? A work in progress?  Are you scared of cooking or of messing things up so you don’t even try?
I know when I was growing up, my grandmother and mother were phenomenal cooks. To the point, I actually avoided cooking and the kitchen at all costs. And when I was in my early to mid 20s, many dinners included Triscuits, Peanut Butter, and copious amount of Kettle One.  No cooking involved! I was so clueless in the kitchen, I didn’t know up from down.  Then my lightbulb moment came: I realized that in order to be optimally healthy, get a handle on my food allergies, save money, satisfy my desire to be creative, to create, to make, that I needed to find my way around the kitchen. And I think I have. However, like with any art, and cooking is definitely an art, there is a lifetime’s worth of knowledge to learn.  We never master it all.  Yoga is like this, too; always room for growth.
Tell me your thoughts on being a good cook or learning to cook?  What has helped you?

 

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