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Vegas Monsoon

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Dairy Free Almond ‘Milk’ Chocolate Spread

I have a slight obsession with Nutella, which unfortunately has milk in it.  I’ve been playing with mixes and trying things out to see if I could make a spread that really satisfies the Nutella craving.  Today I made a spread with raw almonds that is actually sort of amazing, now if I ever manage to find some hazelnuts I’ll add those in and see what happens!

Almond ‘Milk’ Chocolate Spread:

1c raw almonds, soaked overnight then drained

1/4c raw sugar

1/4c natural cocoa powder

1/4c coconut oil

1tbsp soy lecitin(optional but helps emulsify)

pinch of sea salt

Pulse in blender or food processor until combined, then blend until smooth and creamy.  Refrigerate for best results.  You can roast your almonds if you prefer but I find roasted almonds don’t have that pronounced ‘milk’ flavor I like.

Oh my, Banh Mi

Where have you been all my life?  I tried my first banh mi today, and I am ashamed to admit I didn’t even think of taking a photo before devouring it.  We frequent this place and I have never really given the little sandwich menu a second glance as we’re usually there to get pate chaud and croissant for the kids.  Today my dad convinced me to try one while reminiscing about Vietnam and their amazing sandwiches.  How did I never know how amazing these things are?  I am one of those people that usually custom order (probably excessively so) to overload their sandwich with veggies because I crave those differing textures and freshness, ask for vinegar to add tang, beg them not to put an ice cream scoop full of mayonnaise on my sandwich, yeah I’m that customer(sorry!) - this was perfect, no tweaking or custom ordering required.  It was warm, thinly sliced barbeque pork, a generous handful of pickled daikon (oh wow is THAT stuff amazing), carrots, cucumbers, cilantro, peppers, the thinnest layer of mayonnaise and this amazing foot long warm, crusty baguette.  The best part?  It’s $3.  THREE DOLLARS.  Suck on that, Subway.  And if you buy four, you get one free … though come to think of it I can’t imagine many instances where you could deal with that much sandwichage.   This is a serious sandwich, like a bigger than my forearm kind of sandwich.  It is a little on the spicy side with a few pepper slices and a handful of cilantro so if you’re not looking to clear your sinuses or you’re a wuss you may want to leave those off.  

So if you’re in Las Vegas and near Chinatown or feel like a drive, try something a little less ordinary and a whole lot amazing check them out.   If you’re not in Vegas, I am sad for you.  

They’re located inside S F Supermarket on the corner of Spring Mountain and Decatur.  I love their place, everything is super fresh, very inexpensive(yay big, hot loaves of crusty baguette for $1) and always delicious.  And if you see a pink haired girl wrangling a towhead toddler that’s trying to shove an entire pate chaud in his mouth, say hello!

Vegan Nutella!

For those of us that can’t have dairy, the avoidance of Nutella is a sad fact of life(and in moments of weakness I still go for it, then regret it, hah!).  Even the Nutella-esque offbrand ones all contain milk.  My solution?  Make my own Nutella substitute.  And since I love dark chocolate I’ve totally fallen for this.

1c hazelnuts 

1/4c cocoa powder

1/2c powdered sugar(you can substitute with a syrup type sweetener and lessen your oil amount accordingly)

4tbsp coconut oil

1/4tsp salt

I like to roast my hazelnuts lightly first, I just put them into a dry nonstick skillet on medium heat until I smell them(this only takes a couple minutes), shake them a bit and then toss them into the food processor. Put the coconut oil in over the warm hazel nuts and add everything else.  Pulse until very well blended.  Depending on the nuts you use your mix may need a little adjusting, sometimes you’ll get nice fresh and oily hazelnuts and then sometimes get ones that just go to powder in an instant.  If mixture is too dry, add a couple drops of your oil of choice (I like sunflower) and blend well.  I recommend just a drop or two at a time because it’s very easy to over-do the oil, and impossible to go back.  I also like to add a teaspoon of soy lecitin to mine, it stabilizes it and keeps the oil from separating back out but it is not needed.

The stuff tastes like a wonderful, dark chocolate hazelnut truffle.  In fact should you want to make some truffles you can melt some dark chocolate and incorporate it into the mix, then chill to have a firmer texture that you can roll into balls.  Nom.

Homemade Hot Pockets with Turkey, Brie and Cranberry

Although that’s sort of an insult to these little pouches of awesome, I really don’t know what else to call them.  They had a wonderful, light crust and my daughter liked them so much she demanded I write down the recipe so we can make them again(I am bad about experimenting, then forgetting what I did).  It was a great way to use up a lot of leftovers!

So disappointed in my photo, not adjusting well to life without my favorite lens :(

The dough is super soft and easy to roll out, I made some breakfast ones with egg for my son’s breakfast tomorrow, broccoli and cheese for my daughter and for myself - turkey, brie and cranberry sauce with a thin layer of creamy horseradish.  I ended up cleaning out the fridge more or less, my roasted portabello leftovers went in a pocket, so did some deli meats … though now the fridge is full of pockets so mission maybe not so accomplished?  The kids loved them, especially Caira who packed away two of her broccoli ones.

Dough:

2c all purpose flour

1c potato starch

1 egg yolk (keep the egg white to brush on the outsides, makes em shiny!)

1/4c butter or oil

1 tablespoon dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

pinch of salt

1/4c warm water plus more to add while mixing(I never know how much I use, probably almost a cup)

Filling:

Whatever is in your fridge.  Really anything with a moderate moisture content will work, just don’t do anything too wet or your dough will turn to mush.  Don’t use any raw meats either, it wont have time to cook through.  All fillings should be precooked, even veggies since they tend to release a lot of water if you try to do this with fresh ones.  

Combine everything for your dough in a bowl, adding water a tablespoon or two at a time until you have a nice sticky ball of dough.  Turn it out into an oiled bowl then cover with a damp towel and put somewhere nice and warm, I like putting mine on the stovetop while I preheat the oven.  It should double fairly fast, once it does turn it onto a floured surface and knead it a bit with well floured hands.  I cut mine into handful sized balls and left them to rest for another ten minutes before I started rolling them out.  You don’t really want round, more oblong.  Place filling on one side, then use either water or egg was around the edge and pinch to seal.  Bake at 375 for 14 minutes or until browned.  

Best thanksgiving leftovers so far.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll stuff some of the sweet potatoes, dressing and turkey in a pouch … nom.