Wednesday, March 31, 2010

OOH!

In going through my pictures and recipes I realize now that I am REALLY behind in posting all the fantastic things that I have been doing in this household lately!!

Honey is on the phone with T-Mobile, trying to figure out his 'new' phone; and by 'new', I mean my 'old' phone which really isn't old, just annoying to me. Here's the story: in August, he wanted a new phone; we also had just gotten married so I talked him in to switching to T-Mobile (secretly he likes it) which he wasn't too keen on. So the switch came and he ever so graciously took my old blackberry as his new phone and let me have the upgrade; such a fantastic man :)

Eight months later his phone (my old one) is kaputsky (sp.) as if we're all surprised... it was old when I had it and it's a wonder it has made it this far. So he says that he's going to T-Mobile for a new phone and I say ok. Then he texts me and wants me to meet him. I have Noodle Nose which is ok but I hate to have Noodle just hangin' while we talk phone. I go anyway. We get there and he tells me to pick out a new phone because he's taking mine; oh honey...

It's kind of a good thing because I have complained about mine; come to realize my complaints stem from the fact that I never took off the 'original' screen protector which really isn't a screen protector. It's really the plastic meant to keep your screen in good tact until you open it and get a real screen protector!! I'm like that though.

Long and the short of it: we're both happy; I have the best husband ever who took my 'old' (not so old) phone and I took the upgrade to the new, ever so fancy phone (which by the way is faaaaabulousssss!!) and we both have 'new' phones and we're both happy!

Back to my original purpose: recipes. Yeah, I have a ton to post. And bread... what is it with bread?? I want to bake; yes I do! But bread is not on my side. I just baked two different batches tonight. Originally I wasn't pleased but now... hmmm... maybe. I'll keep you posted; if it turns out good I'll post it. If it turns out bad I'll post how bad it was!!

xoxo

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Heated Throw... everybody needs one of these


Unless you're prone to hot flashes that is!

I myself am cold all the time; well, strike that. I am cold unless I'm coming off my baby drugs. In those cases you can call me Miss. Hot Flash. I definitely won't need my heated throw during that time!

Until then, it's my new favorite thing ever. Bonus: the cat thinks it's his long lost mommy. He is even more in love with it than I am!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Superfood Salad

I posted this salad a while ago but didn't have a picture.

I made it the other day and so I'm reposting it with a picture. It is so so good for you and really easy. I like to make a lot of the ingredients then have it all week long. Can't go wrong there!




My new favorite salad happens to also be super good for you! In fact, it's super in many ways: super good for you, super easy, super versatile; all around and in general: super :) It's also a great salad because you can make all the 'goods' early and in bulk and eat it multiple times.
Need:
Spinach greens (I use the Organic Girl triple washed greens and then I wash them again!)
Shelled edamame beans, frozen or fresh. (of course, fresh is better but not always easy to find)
Sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
Protein (here is where you get creative!)
Originally the salad's 'star' was seared ahi tuna, which is indeed fantastic. I loved the salad so much that I have been experimenting with other types of protein. So far I have tried grilled tofu cutlets of my own making, marinated tofu (like the kind you buy alread marinated in the package) and a good old favorite from my London days: haloumi cheese. Oh haloumi cheese... I could (and just may!) write a post all about you!
For the dressing:
Blood orange vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
A dash of balsamic vinegar
Pinch red pepper flakes
Truffle salt (yet another blog post in and of itself!)
Do:
Bring two pots of water to a boil. One is for the sweet potato cubes and one is for the edamame. I don't do 'time' very well because I'm a very hands-on cook, so cook them until they're done. Please please do not over cook the sweet potatoes or the edamame. When in doubt, take them off the stove early. Even if you run icy cold water on them, they will still keep cooking unless you blanch them.
While those are cooking, prepare your protein:
If you're doing ahi tuna, I like to sprinkle both sides with a bit of truffle salt first. You will find that I'm not big on extreme 'dousing' of sauces or marinades... Get your grill or pan super hot and sear it up! I usually go for 1 minute on each side. The biggest mistake you can make with ahi tuna is to over cook it; seriously go with 1 minute, maybe even less. Honestly; less is more!

If you're doing tofu, use extra firm, not the kind in the tray; even their extra firm is too mushy. Slice it into 1/2 inch thick pieces and marinate it for 30 min or so in a little thai chili sauce. My favorite is from Pasta&Co. (http://www.pastaco.com/) can also do a mix of the sweet chile sauce you can find in a regular grocery store and thai chili paste, also probably in a regular grocery store. If not it is definitely at an asian food store; that's where I get mine. To cook it, get your pan hot like you would for ahi tuna. Sear it on either side so it's 'crunchy-ish'.

If you're doing haloumi cheese, get your pan hot and grill it up. I'll post something about haloumi cheese because it truly is fantastic and fun (and yum!).

Whichever protein you use, it's easy, as you can see.
Dressing:
In a shaker, I use one from Tupperware. If you don't have a shaker, use a leak free container. Combine 2 parts blood orange vinegar and 1 part oil. Yes, I know it's usually the other way around but I'm not a big fan of oil, let alone excessive oil. Add your 'dash' of balsamic vinegar, pinch of red pepper flakes and a good healthy couple of pinches of truffle salt. Seal up your shaker/container and shake the dickens out of it! I mean really go for it... the best part of it is the fact that it's emmulsified. I get tons of compliments on the dressing and I feel kind of guilty because it's really easy!
Serve:
In a large bowl, toss spinach with dressing. On a lovely plate, arrange your spinach. Then top first with sweet potatoes and then edamame. There are no measurements for any of this because you get to decide how much you want! Roughly, I do about 3/4 cup of sweet potatoes and 1/2 cup of edamame beans. You can add more dressing if you want, but I usually just put it out so individuals can decide themselves if they want more. On top of your sweet potatoes and edamame, add your protein. You can now sprinkle with a little more truffle salt if you like.
This is pre-protein:


And this is post-protein:



Voila! Serve and enjoy :)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Portabello Mushroom Pasta - Meatless Stroganoff!


This was super tasty and unique. Honey's only complaint was that it needed some protein. True; however, it was truly tasty and I think you could easily add some seitan or tofu to give you the protein! I'll try that next :)

Need:
about 3/4 package of linguini (I used florentine, so half whole wheat half spinach)
4 teaspoons oil
1 lb portobello mushroom caps (sliced into about 1/2 inch pieces)
Salt and pepper
2 cups sweet onions, chopped
10 cups baby spinach (that's about 2 reg. size packages)
1 cup greek yogurt, fat free or low fat (I'm thinking you could also use tofutti sour cream... I'll try that next too!)
2 to 3 Tablespoons dijon mustard

Do:
Boil salted water in a pot for your linguini. When boiling, cook pasta to al dente. Drain and set aside.

Heat some of your oil in a pan. Saute the onions on high, until tender. Add the portobello mushrooms and continue to cook, stirring every once in a while, until tender and liquid free.

While onions and mushrooms are cooking, add the dijon mustard to greek yogurt container and mix well. You can use another bowl if you want but why dirty it when the yogurt container works just as well?

Back to your onions and mushrooms: Add salt and pepper to taste. I did about 1/2 teaspoon of each. Once tender, add spinach, mix well and let wilt.

Reduce heat to low and add in the pasta. Mix well, add in yogurt mix and let cook on low until everything is warmed. Add a little more salt and pepper if you like.



Serve:
On a plate or in a bowl... it's fantastic either way! Very flavorful and fun. My non vegan/veggie friends raved about it :)


Enjoy!

Portabella Mushrooms

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Detox Foot Bath


Yesterday, upon the advice of a friend, I tried out one of our local salon's Detox Foot Spa. It was such an interesting experience and I loved it so much I truly want to buy one for home!

If you're in Bellingham, check out Zazen Salon; that's where I had my treatment. After I was done I loved it so much I bought a package! Soooo, I think I'll ride out my package before I buy. I think there is also something to be said about the benefits of the spa experience, no matter how quick and simple :)

The spa, of course, uses one that is much more high tech and expensive I'm sure, but this one is similar to what they used:



Basically, the machine runs positive and negative ions thru a normal tub of water. The ions detox your body through the thousands of pores on your feet.

The color of your water determines where you are detoxing from. My water was a gross orangey rusty color with chunks and bubbles. Sounds gross, right? It is. But think: all that is detoxing from my body. I could do it every day!

The information I read while my feet soaked mentioned headaches and migraines a lot and that the detox helps with that along with weight loss, energy and a whole list of other things.

This is definitely on my 'want' list!

Waffle Batter - make your next morning sunny!


I had a dream last weekend about a waffle sandwich. This waffle sandwich was of my dreams; meaning I didn't dream about a waffle sandwich I had had in the past. I woke up craving waffles and this dreamy waffle sandwich.

So Sunday I wake up inspired and pull out our waffle maker from the wedding. Our neighbors gave it to us as I had always wanted one to inspire me to make 'mama breakfasts'; you know, the ones we all (hopefully) had, where you wake up on the weekend to the smell of pancakes (or waffles), syrup, eggs, bacon (back in the day!), etc..

I tried my waffle maker out a few months ago but had no luck. I had used the Batter Blaster stuff; the kind you get in the store... batter in a whip cream container. Genius idea but you have to have a very hot pan and even then, it's pretty finicky.



Back to my waffles: So I conjure up this waffle recipe and go to work... the sandwich part actually came at the last minute because I was sure I didn't have any fake meat or other 'needs' in the house. Low and behold I found fake sausage to take the place of my dream waffle's bacon and Auntie Erin had just given me fresh eggs so we were set there.



I hope you try the batter... it would make great pancakes too!

Need:
1 cup all purpose white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 1/4  cup soy milk (I used vanilla b/c that's what I had... sure you could use plain or almond milk too :))
1 egg (for me, I only use Erin's eggs or the certified humane handled and treated... otherwise it's egg replacer, which I haven't tried with this mixture... I'll do that and let you know)
3 T oil
For the dream waffle:
2 eggs for scrambling
2 or 3 'sausages' (I used vegan sausage but you can use something else if you have it)
3 slices tomato
3 or 4 whole basil leaves

Do:
In small bowl, mix together both flours, baking powder, salt and sugar. In another larger bowl, mix egg, oil and milk and whisk together. Add the flour mixture in about four separate parts, mixing a bit in between. Each 'mix' does not need to be fully mixed together and only mix the entire batch until just mixed, otherwise the waffles will be doughy and flat.



Pour about 1/2 cup of batter onto your pre-warmed and sprayed (oil) waffle maker. Close the lid and let sit. Each waffle takes about 5 to 6 minutes, but you can check it about half way through.



Serve:
For just the waffles, spread with Earth Balance margarine and agave nectar and enjoy!

For the dream waffle, do as follows:

Scramble one or two eggs as you choose. When I scramble, I do it on low and then when it's pretty solid I kind of push it together to cook on one side, then flip the whole scramble over to finish cooking. Then it's 'scrambled' but still sticks together.

Cook your meat or 'meat' as you choose. I used vegan sausages and then cut them in half lengthwise. If you just have to have nasty bacon, do it but don't bring it in my house! :)

Break a whole waffle in half, top one half with the egg, then put the fake meat on top. Put a little agave nectar on top of the 'meat' egg mix.



This is where I stopped since I was really just making it for my husband... (I'm trying to watch my food intake) However, my dream waffle also had tomato and basil on it. I'd do that too!



Enjoy!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tomato Goat Cheese Polenta Tart (party menu 4 of 4)


Now, I have made several variations of this super simple 'tart' type meal. This one was quite good! I will post my variations so you can try them all. I love this because it can be an appetizer or main dish, it looks like it was super hard to make but in reality it's really easy.



Need:
1 1/2 cups finely ground polenta (dry, not the pre-cooked kind)
2  cups cold water
1/2 teaspoon salt (for water)
1/2 cup grated goat cheese (I get the kind that comes pre-grated)
1 small pkg chevre goat cheese (soft)
1 pint sliced cherry tomatoes (this is also another great use for the 'almost gone' cherry tomatoes!)
1/2 jar julienned sun dried tomatoes, drained from their oil
About 15 large leaves fresh basil, rolled and sliced (about 1/2 cup)
Olive oil for pan oiling

Do:
Preheat the oven to 375. Oil your pan. I used a glass baking dish. You can also use a tart pan... I have used both.

In a pot, add water, salt and polenta. Bring to a boil then turn heat down to low. Make sure you are continually stirring; I have had to throw out more than one batch of polenta because it cooks really fast and you have to stir it.

Stir in your grated goat cheese, continuing to stir for another 3 or 4 minutes. Now pour your polenta into the prepared baking dish. Spread over the bottom of the pan and partly up the sides. Note: the polenta will be a bit sticky and your spread will be thin across the bottom of the pan.

Put in oven for about 15 minutes, or until polenta is dry and crispy on the edges.

Take polenta out of the oven and spread a healthy layer of goat cheese onto your polenta. Add your chopped cherry tomatoes and sun dried tomatoes on top of the goat cheese layer. Sprinkle a little truffle salt or sea salt over the top and put in the oven for another 5 minutes.

Remove from oven, sprinkle julienned basil over top, drizzle with olive oil and enjoy!

Serve:
If it is an appetizer, I cut it into small squares, remove from baking pan and put on a nice tray. If it is a main course, I will cut it into larger squares and put on individual plates with my side dishes.



So good for you and super easy!

Curry Dip, tofu style! (party menu 3 of 4)


This dip was delicious! And, as my nanny pointed out: it can be used to dip anything! Even non vegan stuff like calamari. I enjoyed this one the day after the party with cucumber and red bell pepper spears. The best part? It's packed with protein because it's made with tofu! Perfection :)

Need:
1/2 pound silken tofu
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon curry powder (use more if you really want a kick)
1 Tablespoon agave nectar
1 1/2 Tablespoons reduced sodium, gluten free tamari (if you're not gluten intolerant, you can use reg. tamari)
4 + Tablespoons chopped chives
Chive or green onion sprigs for decoration

Do:
In a blender or food processor, mix together the silken tofu, olive oil, lemon juice, curry powder, agave nectar and tamari until smooth. Transfer into a mixing bowl and fold in chives.

Serve:
Transfer into a good looking serving bowl, top with some chive or green onion sprigs, for decoration and chill until ready to serve.

Serve with assorted sliced vegetables, pretzels, bread... go crazy, it goes great with everything!

Note: I didn't get a picture of this one at the party but I'll take one and post it soon :)

Tofu

Sweet Potato Pita Canapes (party menu 2 of 4)


This one was a big hit! Easy to make, easy to eat and the taste is a surprise!




Need:

For Sweet Potato Mash:
2 medium sweet potatoes, roasted, peeled and mashed
1 blood orange, zested and juiced (you can use regular orange too)
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped fine
Salt and pepper to taste (preferrably truffle salt, if you have it)

For Pita:
1 pkg pita bread
Garlic powder
Truffle salt
Truffle oil
(you see a truffle pattern, I know. If you don't have truffle, use sea salt and olive oil)

Do:
Preheat oven to 375. While it's heating up, cut your pita into 8 'pizza slices', like you're cutting a pizza. Arrange on a baking tray, lightly drizzle with truffle oil (or olive) and sprinkle with garlic powder and truffle salt (or sea salt). Bake for about 10 minutes, or until crispy and golden... do not over bake! I've done it before and it's just not good.

For your sweet potatoes: wash them, slice them in half and stab them with a fork a lot. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and bake in the oven for about 1/2 hour or so. Keep an eye on them; cooking time depends on their size. You just want them soft enough to scoop out the meat.

Once sweet potatoes are done, remove from oven and scoop 'meat' out into a mixing bowl. I used a kitchen towel to hold the sweet potato while scooping so as to not burn the heck out of myself :) Mash the sweet potatoes a bit.

Zest your orange directly into the bowl, then juice your orange directly into the bowl. Add your chopped parsley and salt and pepper. Mix everything together so you have a nice chunky/smooth mixture. Taste the mix and add salt and pepper as needed.

Spread a bit of the sweet potato mix on top of each pita.

Serve:
You can sprinkle a bit of chopped parsley on top for looks, then put on a cute tray and serve.

It is super easy and you can make all or part of it ahead of time which is a great time saver!

Eastern Guacamole (party menu 1 of 4)

One of the menu items for the Stella and Dot show...

This guac was a big hit! I have made it twice in the last couple of weeks and the extra spices really give it a special kick. I love making guacamole because you can experiment with all kinds of ingredients and it's hard to mess up... unless you're adding chocolate chips or something weird like that!



Need:

For guacamole:
3 medium haas avocados (ripe please... makes it so much easier!)
1/2 sweet white onion, diced small
2 medium cloves of garlic (either crushed or diced small)
2 t ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala spice
1/2 tsp hot sesame chili oil
3 tablespoons cilantro leaves, chopped (fresh is best)
Juice of 2 small limes
Sea salt and ground pepper
4 green onions, cut in half
more cilantro, whole, for decoration

Do:
Dice your 1/2 sweet onion and add to a mixing bowl. Halve your avocados and scoop the goods out into the bowl with your onions. Mash avocados until fairly smooth. I don't like 'pureed' guac; I like a little chunk.

Add garlic, cumin, garam masala, chile oil, chopped cilantro, lime, salt and pepper and continue to mash/mix until fully combined. At this point, taste it... you may need to add salt/pepper as you desire.

Serve:
Transfer into a clean serving bowl. In the center of your guac, add some cilantro sprigs and a few of your green onions. Note: for the green onion, cut it in half and put the end (white part) face up so it sticks out... it makes a nice presentation.

Another note: this picture doesn't have green onion in it; the other guac I made did and it was beautiful! But I was running late as per usual and didn't have time to snap a shot :)



Stella and Dot Trunk Show


Last Thursday, before my neverending headache turned into a migraine, I hosted a Stella and Dot trunk show at my house. Sara, la Stella and Dot gal brought over all her fantastic jewelry and I made some yummy treats for my girlfriends.

The food turned out great, as was the jewelry and conversation.

If you haven't had a chance to check out Stella and Dot, you should...

http://www.stelladot.com/

As for the food, here is what I served: (I'll post recipes individually)

La Menu
Eastern guacamole and tortilla strips
Polenta tart with tomatoes and goat cheese
Pita chips with sweet potato mash
Tofu curry dip

Now, all of the recipes are super easy and quite tasty. I encourage you to try them all!

xoxo

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Apologies for no post...


Sorry everyone, for not posting in a couple days...

I have been having a headache/migraine for the last two weeks off and on. Last Friday (week from most recent) I was stricken so badly I could barely drive home. This Friday it was the same; and I have spent the majority of the weekend either in bed or on the couch with hot wraps or cold wraps trying to get rid of it!

I have had migraines/bad headaches since I was 8 yrs old so I know how to deal; or at least, I knew how to deal when I had them all the time. After Noodle Nose was born I really didn't have them very often, which was fine with me! Now that they're back I wonder how in the heck I was able to cope with them before!!

The sad part is that I know why I'm getting them and there is 'nothing' I can do about it. I say 'nothing' because I don't have to take the baby drugs, but hey, sacrifices, you know. My husband can only do so much for me in the adjusting department. It is nice to have him here but I don't get the relief that I normally do because and adjustment can only help so much when it's caused by chemicals. This makes it even more frustrating. I keep telling myself 'it's all chemical. Once I'm done with the baby drugs I won't have such a problem.' Let's hope it's true.

Oh and p.s., the hot flashes? yeah... they're pretty hilarious. Yet another fantastic side effect :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ginger Cashew Broccoli Tofu


Tonight's dinner was an experiment... The end result? Different, good, tasty, gingery deliciousness. If you ask me, anything with broccoli is fantastic. I hope you try it :) It's also quite light, despite the 'thick' looking sauce.


Need:
1 medium onion, diced large
3 medium/large heads fresh broccoli (in my eyes there is no such thing as too much broccoli)
1 pkg savory flavored tofu (or use plain tofu and marinate it with a mix of ginger, tamari and chili paste... I'll post that!)
3/4 of a bag egg noodles (I used the yolk-less kind... not vegan but very light)
1/2 cup unsalted cashews (unsalted is definitely key, otherwise the dish gets too salty with these and tamari)
about 4 Tbsp freshly chopped ginger
2 Tbsp tamari
1 tbsp fresh chopped garlic (you can also use 1 1/2 Tbsp of the jarred already chopped kind)
Sesame oil
Sesame seeds

Do:
Bring water to a boil and steam your broccoli until it's al dente. Please don't over steam your broccoli! This is a comment for this dish and others in general. When in doubt, under steam. When broccoli is finished, transfer into a bowl for later.

Add some more water to your 'broccoli water' and boil again. I like to use the broccoli water because it has all the fantastic vitamins, etc.. from the broccoli. When boiling, add egg noodles and cook. These are light noodles so keep an eye on them. When they are finished, strain and set aside.

While your noodles are cooking, in a food processor or blender, add the fresh chopped ginger, tamari, cashews and garlic and pulse until blended smooth.


In a large pan, heat a bit of sesame oil and saute the chopped onion until just translucent. When so, add tofu, steamed broccoli, cooked noodles and cashew paste and stir to combine. Let cook on low for a minute, just to get everything mixed together and then you're ready!


Serve:
Spoon on to a plate or in a bowl, top with sesame seeds and enjoy!


Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Healthy Blueberry Muffins


In the last four or six weeks I have found myself craving random foods; foods that I normally have no interest in. Not that I don't like them, I just don't seek them out.

Last week it was peanut butter. Not just any kind of peanut butter, it had to be the kind that's really bad for you, like Jif or Skippy. We never have even good peanut butter in the house, instead I grind my own almond butter at the co-op or at home; but almond butter just was not going to cut it.

This week it's blueberry muffins. I don't even necessarily like blueberry muffins but Monday came along and all I could think about was eating a delicious blueberry muffin. Instead of buying a partially hydrogenated, calorie packed, mass produced muffin, I decided to make them.



This gets better... (hey, I think it's pretty industrious of me!) last night I did not sleep more than three winks. I tell you, whatever it was, I could NOT stay asleep! So when my daily alarm went off at 4:40 am (yes that's right) for boot camp, I was cursing up a mental storm. Then I go downstairs and I have no clean work out clothes. How? I don't know... I have a ton of work out clothes. So I'm sifting through the dirty laundry trying to find the least dirty thing to work out in (yeah, kind of gross), but I cannnot for the life of me find a bra. Ok, so I decide to forgoe the bra. I can do this to some degree thanks to my teeny tiny... you get the idea.

Ok so I'm finally ready and still not pleased about it, pick up my BFF and off we go. Long and short of that part of the story, we were both glad we made the effort, as we always are. Heading home I get this crazy idea that I should use the rest of the am time to do more laundry, empty the dishwasher, clean the kitchen, pick up the legos that I keep stepping on and, yes, you guessed it: make blueberry muffins. From scratch.

My mom does this kind of stuff: baking pastries and full on meals at 6:00 in the morning. Guess I'm a chip off the!

So I threw some things together and the muffins were so incredibly perfect and delicious. Noodle Nose loved them, I loved them and the people at work were loving on them too. They didn't last but five minutes before total annihilation. I think I may try some tweaks tonight, or maybe tomorrow morning if I feel the urge again!



Need:
1 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup oat bran
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Earth Balance 'butter'
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 eggs (note: I used to NEVER eat eggs. In general I do not eat eggs; however, my brother and sister in law have been raising chickens for eggs. They have six chickens and an abundance of eggs from VERY well cared for free range run of the farm chickens... sooooo, I do consume eggs from their chickens because I know they are very happy chickens that have no prospect of making babies :)) Another note: I have made this recipe with egg replacer and it works quite well also so the prospect of these muffins being vegan is definite!
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (please use the real kind... it really makes a difference; and this is coming from a gal who used to use imitation all the way)
2 cups frozen blueberries

Do:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and put liners in your muffin tins. Next time I'll make my own liners but it was 6:15 am and I was on a bit of a crunch :)

In a bowl, whisk together flour, oat bran, baking soda, and salt.

In another bowl, or your Kitchen Aid (best thing ever) beat the 'butter' and sugars until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, continuing to beat.

When smooth, add milk and vanilla.

In another bowl, mash the bananas with a fork (end up with about 3/4 cup)

Kitchen Aid on low (or your hand) alternately add flour mix and banana mix to your main butter mix. Make sure to start and end with the flour mixture and only mix until just combined.

Fold in frozen blueberries. Note: if you're using a Kitchen Aid, now is the time I go manual... I use a spatula to fold in the blueberries.

Spoon the batter into the lined muffin tins, going all the way to the top of each one.
 
Bake for 25 minutes, then check with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, you're done; otherwise bake for another couple minutes until your toothpick comes out clean.
 
Once done, take out of oven and let them cool for about 10 minutes in the pan; then let them finish cooling on a cooling rack.
 
 
 
Serve:
Slice down the middle and put a little more Earth Balance 'butter' and maybe, if you're feeling frisky some jam/jelly or even cream cheese. They're great by themselves too... just enjoy!!
 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tomato Balsamic Reduction


Last summer I had a serious abundance of cherry tomatoes in our garden; like so many we couldn't eat them fast enough! As they started passing their peak, I felt guilty for having so much extra that would go to waste, so I picked them all and brought them into the house.

Randomly, I put them on the stove with some balsamic vinegar. Not knowing at all what it was, how it would turn out or what I would do with it, I just let it simmer on the stove. For like 45 minutes. The end result was what looked to be a lovely contribution to compost; and it didn't smell that great either.

That evening we were having friends over; menu? Homemade pizza grilled outside. I made so much pizza; seriously, like 7 pizzas for 4 adults and two and 1/2 children!! The were so good and fun to make... all different flavors and shapes.

After a couple glasses of wine I decided to add the 'paste' stuff as base for the pizza and low and behold! Amazing deliciousness! Especially with the grilled prawns and caramelized onions (I'll post a picture).

So, the other night I discovered that our Costco size cherry tomatoes were reaching the end of their life (Noodle Nose loves them as snack but we weren't getting to the end). So I tried it again... I soon realized I had put too much balsamic, which was easily 'fixable' by ciphoning some out. There they sat a simmerin' away on the stove for again, another 45 min until it was this nasty thick tomato pastey type matter. Husband came home and immediately commented 'what is that smell?' I explained and told him it would be delicious so he needed to stop complaining.

What to do with them?? I don't know... so I let it cool and put it in the fridge. Pizza? Perhaps.

So last night turned out to be one of those evenings where my sister in law came over, then my girlfriend needed a break so she brought her kids over to play and Husband and I just ended up entertaining which is not uncommon at our house! What is uncommon is entertaining with no wine (tear) and no food in the house! (I say that as anyone does with a pantry full of food... why DO we do that?)

Luckily my fantastic girlfriend brought some wine over... Now, my turn... what to cook? I ended up making the most delicious spaghetti and meatless balls (:)) on the planet! Recipe to come, but I wanted to explain the wierd pastey tomato matter... if you try it, you will find will give amazing flavor to so so so many things! (And it's easy!)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Vegan Vichyssoise ... pronounce it if you can


Vichyssoise: (vih-she-swaa): A thick creamy potato soup with leeks and onions, usually served cold. I havae heard if you serve it hot it's just called potato and leek soup, which is much more boring.

Growing up in our house, dinner was always something different. I mean that literally; we rarely, and I mean RARELY had a meal twice. We all had to love it, otherwise it was always something different. I, of course, thought this was how everyone did dinner, so when I went to my friend's house one day and had spaghetti I didn't think too much of it. A couple weeks later I went again and we had lasagne. Another couple weeks go by and we had spaghetti again and of course, the last time I ate there we had, you guessed it, lasagne! I, at the ripe old age of 16 feel the need to say something (the food was great by the way) so I say 'wow, what a funny coincidence that the few times I've eaten here we've had spaghetti or lasagne!' My friend's mom laughed and said 'no, it's not a coincidence, dinner is either spaghetti or lasagne!'

I tell you this story because vichyssoise may not be something that you grew up eating in your household. In ours though, it was one of those meals that we all raved about and therefore had more than once!

I tweaked this recipe a bit because 'real' vichyssoise has cream and butter and I don't do cream and butter in our house.

Also, I didn't get a 'finished' picture again because we had guests and I was busy entertaining!



Need:
7 or 8 medium yukon potatoes (the smallish golden ones), diced
3-4 large leeks, white part only, sliced
4 + cups vegetable broth
1 onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons earth balance margarine
Splash of your favorite white wine
2 cups soy creamer
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh chives, chopped (for serving)

Do:
In a soup pot, melt the margarine and saute onions and leeks until soft. Do not let them brown. This takes about 8 min.

When soft, add vegetable broth and diced potatoes. Make sure the potatoes are just covered by the broth. You may need a bit more than 4 cups depending on your potatoes. Cover and simmer until potatoes are soft, stirring occassionally.

When potatoes are soft, stir in salt and pepper, add your splash of white wine and puree. To puree: I use a had blender and I wouldn't do it any other way. It saves you the duty of having to clean a blender or food processor and it's way cleaner! If you don't have a hand blender, transfer the soup, in small batches into your blender or food processor. When all pureed, transfer back into your original pot.

On pureeing: I like a tiny bit of 'chunk' to my soup so I don't emmulsify it, but I'll leave it up to you as to how pureed you want it.

Salt and pepper: like some past posts, you will want to add salt and pepper to this. It will bring out the flavor a ton! I suggest adding it in slow portions and tasting as you go. Husbands work well for tasters and they're usually happy to do so. As an added bonus, if you have truffle salt, add some of that. It gives it a more 'rustic' flavor.



Serve:
Ladle into a bowl of your choice and sprinkle with some freshly chopped chives, preferrably from your garden (mine sit right outside my door for easy access), add some delicious crusty bread and a salad on the side and enjoy! (I'll add the salad and dressing soon too)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Roasted Asparagus and Sun Dried Tomato


This is an oldie but a goodie. An oldie in our house because it's our 'always favorite' standby. I haven't ever posted it though, so it will be new to you!

It features roasted asparagus, sundried tomatoes and vegan sausage, all tossed with pasta and terribly delicious!!

Technically this one is a hybrid of the original concoction. I got frisky last night and decided to switch it up. The end result? We both decided we kind of like it this way better. Either way, you will see that I put the 'old' ingredients in parentheses where applicable. I encourage you to try it both ways and see which you like better!



Need:
Bunch asparagus
1 jar sun dried tomatoes (SDT) (Note: get the julienned version and save yourself some trouble)
Oil for cooking - I use the oil in the jar of SDT because it works and I don't have to waste it
2 leeks, just the white part cut down the middle and chopped; so you have half circles (in the original version I used a sweet white onion, chopped)
3 cloves garlic
1 package Tofutti sun dried tomato italian 'sausage', sliced into rounds (really high in protein!)
Linguini pasta (this version is made with linguini. In the original version I used farfalle, the big kind. Last night we decided that we kind of like it with the linguini, but either way is good!)
Salt and pepper to taste
About 1/2 cup fresh basil, julienned (this will go in your dish and on top and in my mind there is no such thing as too much fresh basil!)

Do:
Preheat your oven to 375 and put a pot of salted water on the stove to boil. Once boiling, add your pasta and cook until al dente, or however you like your pasta. The oven is for your asparagus (see below).

Wash the asparagus and cut the bottom 2 (or so) inches off and throw away. Cut the rest of it on the diagonal. I usually get two or three cuts from each piece, or three or four 'spears' from each long piece It kind of depends on your asparagus. A good rule of thumb: you want your pieces to be substantial so when in doubt, cut bigger. Once cut, arrange on a baking tray, drizzle with some of the oil from your jar of SDT and add a little salt and pepper to the top. Roast them in the oven until barely tender. You don't want to over cook because you're going to add them to the mix and you don't want them to fall apart. All you over-roasters: refrain! :)

While asparagus is roasting, sautee the leeks and garlic in a little more oil from the jar of SDT. Cook until tender. Once tender, add the sun dried tomatoes and continue to sautee on medium low heat.

On basil: take the washed leaves and stack like-size leaves on top of each other, about four or five at at time. Roll them all up on top of each other and slice. Voila! perfect little julienned pieces of basil!

When your pasta is done, drain and set aside for use in a minute.

After cooking SDT with leek/garlic mix for about 3-5 min, add your sliced 'sausage' and roasted asparagus, jack up the heat just a tad to med/high heat and cook for about another 5 minutes. Eyeball it. Keep in mind, the 'sausage' is not raw so you don't have to worry about 'cooking' it necessarily.

Once everything is mixed and cooking, add the cooked pasta and fresh basil, turn down the heat again and mix well. Here is where you will want to add salt and pepper.



A result of learning how to cook from my mother (a great thing, not a bad thing) is that a lot of meals end up salt-less and pepper-less until the end. We feel it gives you more control on the flavor. I find with this dish that you will need to add some salt, to bring out the flavors and some pepper because it's peppy. Just work with it... add some, taste, repeat.

Serve:
We use bowls a lot but you can use plates; whatever tickles your fancy. Start with the pasta. I found with the linguini it was quite easy to get it out of the pan first. Then make sure you get a lot of the goodies to go with. To finish the dish, top with a bit more fresh basil, serve and enjoy!



Add ins:
I love recipes that allow you to be creative, imagine that! This one is so simple and versatile, I have found that you can add/do a lot with it! For instance, once I added sliced shitake mushrooms to saute along with the leeks. It gives the whole meal a 'nuttier' flavor. To go greek-ish, you could also add artichoke hearts; although I probably wouldn't add both at once, save them for a star appearance.

A no go...


After all my hemming and hawing, my dreaded monthly visitor showed her face today :)Well, I suppose I shouldn't be too disappointed. It would have been fairly miraculous for it to stick the first time around.

In the ever so intelligent analogy of my mother: "It's like a new pan. When you make pancakes for the first time, the first batch is always a throw away batch." She's so smart :)

Making lemons out of lemonade, I do have to say that it's kind of fun actually having a cycle. This coming from a girl who literally maybe has it two times a year. At least this means something is going on, right? :)

xoxo
more later

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I broke down and did it today...


Ok, I'm not supposed to test until Saturday but I have spent some small portion of the last few days reasoning with myself about taking vs. not taking a test.

This morning my husband found me standing in the kitchen staring out the window while I was reasoning with myself about taking one. Mind, I had already peed about four times before I decided to reason with myself. Probably not the best time to take a test but my reasoning was, if I really am pregnant, it won't matter when I take it or how many times I have peed.

For goodness sake, when I found out I was pregnant with my little Noodle Nose, I had been at dinner with friends where I enjoyed a couple beers; we got home and I jokingly took one with my friend who thought SHE was pregnant (I had no idea I was!). Joke was on me: she wasn't and I was! My point being, it was not early in the morning or the first pee, as the test instructions suggest.

So my husband finds me in deep contemplation this morning and so I tell him what I'm thinking and he (probably because he is sick of listening to me) said do it. Of course, I don't... I go upstairs, pee and take a shower. THEN after I get ready I have to pee again so THEN I decide to take one; telling myself the entire time that it's going to be negative.

Here's where the worst part comes in... I think this is the reason they tell you to wait so long: inconclusive results! Inconclusive results make for a much more anxious gal! The results being.... drumroll... there was a very very VERY faint line.

Now, that could mean a lot of things. So, here goes my brain again... Had I taken it early in the AM, before I had peed five times, as the test instruction suggest, would it be darker? Is it just 'leftover' HcG from the shots I have been taking? Because remember the shots? The ones my husband was ever so enthusiastically shooting me up with? They were HcG, the exact hormone that these fabulous little tests test for! The last one I took was last Wednesday, so how long does this stuff last?

So basically I'm back to square one: I still don't know only now I'm wracked with even more anxiety! Saturday can't come soon enough, unless my period comes first :(

And speaking of all ladies' favorite visitor, yesterday I felt so yucky and crampy. Who knows if it's THAT or THAT... today I feel the same, but it could be because I'm wearing nylons. :) They're so tight. (I'll hold the 'that's what she said' joke :))

Monday, March 8, 2010

Platy Preserve for wine


Love these! If you drink red wine but don't want to drink the whole bottle in one night, (come on guys, it does happen every once in a while!!) these are fabulous!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Acting like you're pregnant


It sounds easy to act like you're pregnant, right? Replace wine (sniff, tear), soft cheese (sniff, tear also) and sushi (you get the idea) with food you might normally think twice about, having an excuse to NOT exercise, reasoning that this must be why your clothes don't fit anymore... you get the idea. I'm not too disappointed about any of this; however, if it turns out I'm not pregnant after all then what the heck?!?

On weight gain: It doesn't help that my doctor told me to stop running, which, if you know me at all is basically taking away one of my passions! I LOVE running! AND then I have to start eating ice cream. No wonder my clothes don't fit!

I am in the 'waiting' process of our valliant attempts to get me knocked up. I could be pregnant. I could. But I can't test yet. Well, I could test but it will more than likely be positive; not because of an actual pregnancy, but because of the hcg shots my husband has ever so enthusiastically (maybe a little too enthusiastically) been shooting in my bum for the last couple weeks.

So I find myself in an odd spot: acting like I'm pregnant but trying to not be too hopeful to avoid severe disappointment when I am finally able to test. I don't want to get my hopes up too much! During my waiting period, I have found myself searching the internet for anyone who has anything to say on the subject. I spent at least an hour and a half on one thread at the 'soul cysters' site yesterday. I totally bonded with these girls that are (or were) doing the same thing I am. Then they started a new thread and I couldn't find it. Either way, I don't think it's making things easier; I think it's making it worse. I seriously wonder with every little cramp, twinge, headache, etc.. if it's because I'm pregnant or not.

I know another week doesn't seem like very long to wait, but when your clothes don't fit, you feel fat and gross and you have all the symptoms (quite possibly from the shots), it's hard; oh so hard to wait! I laughed at myself last night when we were at the movies and I just HAD to unbutton my pants because they were too tight! Ha! Little miss exercise obsessed me who counted every morsel that touched my lips now doesn't fit into my perfect 25 jeans... boo! At least if I am pregnant I have an excuse for all of this :) I guess 'coping' with the emminent weight gain of a pregnancy is a whole other can of worms for me!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

Posted at the request of my good friend Rebecca...

These are the BEST! Ok, sometimes I call them enchiladas even though they're not really enchiladas because they don't have enchilada sauce... They would actually be good with enchilada sauce. Hmmm, maybe I'll try it out and let you know :)

Our fantastic chef for our wedding, Chef Alex Chavez made an even better version of these, which were highly spoken of and GONE at our wedding! This is my attempt which isn't too shabby. It's no Chef Alex but it's pretty darn good :)

I didn't take a 'finished' picture of this one last weekend; I was too busy eating :)

Need:
4 medium sweet potatoes, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 cups vegetable stock
1-2 T chili powder (use your discretion; as I always say, we like things hot. This amount is marginal for us)
3 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
1T cumin
1 1/2 t corriander
1 t salt (use your discretion)
Flour tortillas (I usually end up using 6 to 8)
Vegan Cheese (vegan gourmet works great!)
Salsa!!

Do:
Boil the sweet potatoes. Keep an eye on them; they don't take long to cook. Meanwhile, heat some oil and saute onions and garlic. Add black beans, veg. stock, chili powder, cumin, corriander and salt; mix and let cook on med/low.

When potatoes are done, drain them and add to your bean mix. Mix it all up well and then use a potato masher to lightly mash everything together. Don't go crazy, you want a little texture. At this point you can turn off the stove. Preheat oven to 375. While oven is preheating, take your tortillas and fill with your potato black bean mix and cheese. Wrap tight with the ends open and line up in a 9x12 glass baking tray. Continue until your pan is full then cover with more cheese.



Before putting in the oven, cover with tin foil. Bake for about 15-20 min with tin foil on then take off for another 5 or 10, just to melt the cheese on top.



Note: I frequently have a small amount of sweet potato black bean mix left over. I just 'tupperware' it and put it in the fridge for later; it makes great quesadilla filling or you can just eat it with chips.

Serve:
Top with salsa, vegan sour cream, guacamole and a sprinkle of cilantro, for looks.

Enjoy!

Sweet Potato
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