Like the combination of salami and okra, this blog is dedicated to recipes that are born from sometimes unusual mishmashes of leftover ingredients we have on hand at home. We both work full-time so there is always time pressure, especially on weekdays. I do most of the daily cooking, and together my husband and I try to create meals for our family that follow three basic guidelines:

1. Delicious and nutritious.

2. Frugal use of ingredients

3. Edible to everyone in the family

We try to limit takeout food to once or twice a week because it's not good for our waistlines, the cost adds up and can put a strain on the family budget. At the end of the day, I just want to go home and stay home after work. I've found that in the time it takes me to drive to the store and pick up ready-to-eat takeout, I can usually put together something quick at home.

David and I grocery shop together for the entire week. Sometimes we impulsively buy an interesting ingredient at the store with no plan for cooking it, and later I'm not sure how to incorporate it into our meal plan. Thus, by the end of every week, I'm inevitably left with only a few ingredients, many of which do not traditionally go together.

These recipes are a result of those experiments. Some combinations work unexpectedly, some combinations may not appeal to you -- they don't all appeal to us!

When writing up these recipes, I try to be accurate, but often I put together these dishes by sight or taste or availability of ingredients. Most of the photos are David's. We'll note it when someone else contributes a pic.

The wins come when my family says, "I thought this dinner was going to be crazy, but it's actually good."

We hope you'll have the same reaction!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Time for Dessert!

Jenny is not allowed to have any.  But that doesn't stop her from trying.

Chocolatey Almond Chocolate Chip Cake
My family and I love chocolate cake.  Actually, we love just about anything chocolate.  So I picked up a carton of chocolate almond milk.  Sounds good, right?  How could you go wrong with the combination of chocolate and almonds?  Turns out, unsweetened chocolate almond milk didn’t satisfy anyone’s chocolate cravings around our house.  Here’s a recipe I came up with to use up the almond milk.   This one DID satisfy everyone’s chocolate cravings without being overly sweet or decadent.   
Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare a 9x9 cake pan with cooking spray.
In a stand mixer (or a large bowl and hand mixer), combine:
3/4 cup plus 1 TBL sugar
1 cup flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ cup canola oil
¾ milk unsweetened chocolate almond milk
1 tsp almond extract
Beat on high for 2 minutes.  Add:
1 egg
Beat on high for another two minutes.  Fold in:
½ cup chocolate chips (we like Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chipsPour batter into prepared baking pan.  Bake for 25-30 (if the top cracks or if the edges look hard, remove from the oven immediately!).  Cool in pan and serve. 
Variations:  if you don’t have any almond milk, regular cow’s milk works fine!  If you don't have any almond extract, vanilla extract works fine, too.  Here's the difference.  You won't have an almond essence to the cake.

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