Author Archives: jessicakwolek

About jessicakwolek

Photographing Vermont.

More Blueberry Love

Did everyone incorporate lots of red into their days today?

…I didn’t. Unless you count “red” bananas.

I had to run to the co-op and Hannaford after my failed shopping trip the other day. I saw these adorable little babies and read:

slightly sweeter than a yellow banana, red bananas also have a subtle raspberry taste…

I was sold. I’ve never had a red banana.

…and I still haven’t had a red banana, but would it be weird if I’m psyched for breakfast tomorrow already?

I’m going to be so disappointed when I unpeel one of the precious little babies and discover it looks that same as a yellow banana, aren’t I? I’m imagining it to be…I don’t know…fuchsia or something.

Luckily, the co-op is never in short supply of dates.

Thankfully, they even stock the vegan ones.

It’s hard to find non-vegan dates these days, let me tell you.

Speaking of odd labeling tactics, though – my mom (cute as she is) was telling me how the peanut butter she always buys tasted different to her, and when she looked at the label realized she bought the “vegan” one.

Mom, a lot of peanut butter is vegan anyways…”

(p.s. can I get a high five for only buying what I need at the co-op today? I swear, that store is a booby trap. So much temptation. I do not. need. a giant tub of carob powder. I do not. need. more flours until I finish one up. I do not. need. any of these fancy granolas.I do not. need. one of every dried fruit/nut/jam known to man)

Anyhow. My day actually had nothing to do with Valentines day, pink or red. It didn’t feel very Valentines-day to me this year.

I’m not sure what Valentine’s day “feels like,” but apparently it’s something more than an ordinary day.

Or maybe I’m just still a little bit bitter about my failing and flailing Bruins.

Or the fact that I had to function on about 6 hours of sleep today because a. this sinus congestion is a total PITA at night, leading me to wake up about every two hours to blow my nose, b. I happened to get a little enamored with the Grammy’s when I realized they were on, and c. I’d keep trying to fall asleep and I’d have a million and one ideas flood my brain.

But first thing’s first. First, the breakfast I woke up to.

While I was blog-surfing last night, I saw Averie’s newest microwave banana oat cake – a blueberry banana oat cake! The oat cakes sort of remind me of a quicker banana scramble…and so when I saw the addition of blueberries, figured why not make a blueberry banana scramble?!

To make things super streamlined (and allow myself an extra twenty minutes of sleep in the morning) I mixed everything together before I went to bed. This left me with a consistency very similar to that of a breakfast cookie come morning. I added a bit more milk and then plopped it in a pan.

Lets pause and think about how cool the word “plopped” is. It gets my vote for best onomatopoeia. Say it with me: “…plop.”

Blueberry Banana Scramble

with coconut and ginger and a cashew-blueberry sauce

  • 1/3 c. quick oats
  • 1/2 a banana
  • 1 T. wheat germ
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 t. ground ginger
  • 1/2 T. shredded coconut
  • 2 T. blueberry yogurt
  • 1-2 T. milk of choice
  • 1 t. chia seeds
  • 1/4 c. blueberries (I used frozen)

Mash everything together. If preparing this the night before, you will need to add a bit more milk come morning. Transfer mixture to a greased, preheated pan and flatten. Cook until golden on both sides.

See here for the blueberry-cashew butter sauce

As for that tofu? Well, I’m muddling through it still. Another scramble, this time with pasta sauce instead.

You would think that with all of the things I make myself, I would make my own darn pasta sauce, but no. I still buy the jars.

And yes, I burnt my onion rings.

Okay, so I need to know your favorite onomatopoeia. Just because.

Ever had a red banana?

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24 Comments

Filed under banana, banana scramble, breakfast, dates, dinner, healthy living, recipe, tofu, vegan, vegetarian

WINNERS! (and Blueberry Yogurt Pancakes)

I think my butt hurts from sitting on it so much today.

Usually if I say that, I’m half kidding, knowing I didn’t just sit all. day. long. But that’s really the extent of what I’ve done, save for the 15 minutes I decided to do random workout moves so I could regain feeling in my limbs.

I had a bunch of work to get done today for one class in particular, a ton of work on a top-secret mission of mine that is proving to be quite a project as well as designing some things for a couple of lovely bloggers, and add to that the fact that we had company coming at 11:00 and a Bruins game on at 12:30, I knew I was going to have to work hard to make the most of my morning.

Yes, the Bruins game does take precedence over everything else on that list. D’uh!

I was fueled by the best, however. Maybe it’s weird, but I hate using this yogurt as a snack/part of a meal/whatever. It just seems too expensive to eat all at once. Is that normal? Instead, I like to make “sauces” with it for pancakes. Or heck, add it to the pancakes.

Usually I get vanilla, but they were out of stock of it last time I went. Major bummer. Either way, I also put off eating these for the said price reason. The best-by date was nearing, though, and I figured that it being blueberry flavored and the fact that I caved and bought frozen blueberries the other day was pretty much destiny.

I am frugal. Slash cheap. Sue me. I have high hopes for this summer’s show season with the boy.

Oh, right; the recipe. Because you’re not sick of my pancake recipes yet. (that’s a joke.)

Blueberry-Spice Yogurt Pancakes

  • 1/4 c. flour (I used graham, based on my obsession)
  • 1 T. (generous) cornmeal
  • 2 t. chia seeds + 2 T. water (mixed in a small cup)
  • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 T. shredded coconut
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 c. seltzer water
  • 2 T. blueberry yogurt
  • 1/4 c. blueberries (I used frozen blueberries that were uuuuber tiny – you might need more/less)

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add in the chia egg, seltzer and yogurt. Fold in the blueberries.

Pour onto a preheated, greased skillet and cook until golden brown on both sides.

Blueberry-Cashew Butter Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 T. cashew butter
  • 3-4 T. blueberry yogurt
  • almond milk, to thin as desired

Whisk everything together. That is all.

The seltzer water is a baking trick I learned from Sarena. I wouldn’t say it is critical for the recipe – if you don’t have it, just use a milk of your choice (don’t sub plain water!) The carbonation makes them a bit lighter than they would be otherwise, though.

Does life get any better than blueberry pancakes?

No. Well, maybe it would had I used fresh lemon zest and juice – but I’m saving the lemons I have in case I need them to make lemon poppyseed cookies for a winner.

Yes, I’ll get to the winners.

But first: I think I’ve deduced that the Nasoya tofu is better when you are looking for more of an eggy-type dish. For me anyways – everyone else seems to love it so I think I just have high tofu standards.

There could be worse personality traits, don’t you think?

Barbecue scrambled tofu a la Matt.

Of course, after I added spinach, shallot and garlic, I realized I essentially made a deconstructed BBQ Spinach and Tofu Sammie.

Old loves die hard.

Onwards and upwards: The real reason you’re all reading this/”reading” this but really just skipping down to this part:

Did you know that wordpress has a little “hide/show kitchen sink” button in the add new post screen? I never had any idea, and had been missing Windows Live Write solely because I knew how to change font color and size as I saw fit.

Oh, right. Giveaway winners.

First winner issss…

Comment #45, Averie!

And secondly…

Comment #54, Mary!

And seriously, wordpress needs to number their comments or something. There’s nothing like counting down 50 comments on a computer screen.

ANYWAYS! Congratulations, ladies! Your wish is my demand. Shoot me an e-mail with your choice and I’ll hop-to.

Thank you to everyone for entering, though – I was shocked at how many people got involved with this giveaway!! So I will definitely be doing another one sooner rather than later 🙂

19 Comments

Filed under blueberries, breakfast, coconut, dinner, healthy living, pancakes, recipe, tofu, vegan, vegetarian, veggies

Drunk on Brownies

It’s a heat wave!

I think I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel that is the deep-freeze of January and February. It reached 30* today, and isn’t supposed to be below 20* (during the day) all week.

I am a happy girl.

Who had a wonderful ride on a happy pony.

Life is good.

And so is BBQ spinach and tofu.

My white balance, however, is not so good. Just pretend otherwise for the time being, m’kay? Please?

So remember how I’ve been saying I was now only going to buy the Vermont Soy tofu that I’ve proclaimed my love for?

Well, I guess I lied. For the sake of convenience (as well as the fact that I’m cheap and had a $1 off coupon thanks to the heads-up from Matt) I picked up some Nasoya Plus on my shopping-trip-gone-wrong yesterday.

I’m not gonna lie. I think I’m a Vermont-Soy-only kinda gal. Nasoya just doesn’t hold a candle. I’m not sure if I’m just spoiled or what. But the Vermont Soy tofu is so much easier to work with. I’m not sure that the taste is a huge difference, but at least I don’t need to press it for about five hours with my body weight in paper towels. And it gets a better “crust” and has a better texture all around. I’ll step off my soapbox now. One last thing, though, since every story has a moral…

Moral of the story: Vermont Rawks.

But I made do with what I had.

I hate to make a big deal out of a sandwich, but this simple combination is stupid good. And with it having a combination of onions and enough garlic to kill a cow, it lets you see who really enjoys your company enough to still hang out with you after eating it.

For one sandwich:

  • 1/4 of a small yellow onion, sliced
  • olive oil, for sauteeing the onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 “serving” (a.k.a. however much you want) tofu
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • hefty handful spinach
  • 1-3 t. barbecue sauce, to taste
  • 2 slices bread
  • earth balance/butter/whatever for grilling the bread

For maximum efficiency, you can do everything pretty much all at once: preheat a small pan over medium heat, adding enough oil to thinly coat the bottom of the pan. Add the onions and sautee, stirring occasionally, about 7-8 minutes, or until golden brown/beginning to get carameliz-y. Or just a little burnt if you’re like me…anyways. Meanwhile, preheat another large pan or griddle over medium heat. Place the tofu on the pan and spread a little earth balance/butter on one side of each of your slices of bread. Add to the pan with the tofu. Cook the tofu until it gets a little bit of a crust on it, and the bread until golden.

When the onions are done, transfer to a dish and add the spinach and garlic to the same hot pan. Cover and allow to wilt, stirring in the BBQ sauce. Once good and sloppy (trust me, it will be) assemble your sandwich by layering the onions on top of the bread, followed by the spinach and then the tofu.

After eating this, you’ll be a greasy grimy mess, but you’ll still have the satisfaction of knowing it’s really not all too greasy and definitely not grimy.

And because I wanted to be really stinky when I start sweating tomorrow, I decided to polish off the day with onion rings in which I used garlic salt in the breadcrumbs instead of regular salt.

And thanks to L, I even had real breadcrumbs to complete this mission with! I was as happy as a kid in a candy shop.

Who’d-a thought this turned out to be way easier than crushing a bunch of pretzels.

Oh, and by the way – cutting that onion totally reduced me to tears. I have been so sensitive to cutting onions lately. I don’t remember always being this way but I guess I should just be happy that I’m getting pretty skilled at slicing onions with my eyes clenched shut. I even got them nice and evenly sliced!

I’m kidding.

I am now proclaiming myself an onion ring fiend.

It’s just a shame I can’t find them this good anywhere else.

Badoom-chh!

Luckily for you guys, this is a recipe that Isa chose to share on her website.

Second on the plate: no, I will never tire of sweet potatoes.

I’d call it a rut, but I prefer to call it a groove.

That gross looking yellow plop?

Curry hummus. Oh kale yes I went there.

I can’t take the credit for this genius, though – I saw it whilst flipping through Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. I did simplify it, though:

  • 1 can chickpeas (I used a 19 oz. can which I think is a little larger than most?)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 t. curry (the curry powder I have is a sweeter curry, I think. I’m not a curry connoisseur, though.)
  • pinch salt
  • hefty pinch dried chives
  • handful raisins

Drain the chickpeas, reserving the liquid in a cup or bowl. Add all ingredients except raisins to processor. Blend until smooth, adding in the reserved liquid as necessary. At the end, add the raisins and pulse a few more times to combine.

The “reserved-chickpea” trick is from Appetite for Reduction. I am a cookbook fiend lately, obviously.

By the way, try to stop eating this by the spoonful after your tenth spoonful straight from the processor. It’s really good on sweet p’s or onion rings and does deserve to show you that.

And since I was on a pieces-parts theme for dinner, tofu also made an appearance. Kind of.

Most of it was eaten before it made it to the plate. Sorry. I was waiting for the onion rings to finish cooking and it was right there! I couldn’t resist.

I followed the concept of this recipe for the ‘fu, but basically just reduced it to a combination of cashew butter, lime juice, salt, pepper and dijon mustard. It needed a hint of honey, but was otherwise just as good.

Rounded out by a spot o’ wine.

Okay, so maybe not quite. This cabernet brownie was in the Foodzie box I received yesterday. As you know, I’m usually saying I’m not a brownie person, but lately I’ve come to appreciate chocolate rather than feel it’s overrated.

See guys, there’s still hope for me!

I was surprised to discover I actually really liked it! Probably because it uses a weird flour. I’m a sucker for any  kind of different flour.

Like most things like this, though, it was so sweet after a couple of bites! Mreh, well.

At least if you have it you can say your drunk on brownies, whether you are or not. It’s got a ring to it, don’t you think?

What’s a simple sandwich combination that you love?

*****

DON’T FORGET! You have until tomorrow to enter my giveaway!!

24 Comments

Filed under baking, chickpeas, cooking, curry, dessert, dinner, food, foodzie, healthy living, hummus, indian, lunch, recipe, sandwich, sweet potato, tofu, vegan, vegetarian

Trendy Tofu

Alright. So here’s the deal. Remember all of those times I declared I didn’t care for tofu?

Forget it. Lately, I’ve realized something: I love tofu.

I’m not sure if previously I just wasn’t preparing it to my liking, or I just wasn’t buying good tofu. Not to mention the fact that I had negative thoughts associated with tofu anyways. Every time someone would see me cooking or eating, I was obviously eating/cooking toe-fu something. And I never was. So just to spite them, I would declare “I don’t even eat toe-fu!”

And yes, I would always say it toefu, as if it was fu from somebody’s toes. I was also skeptical of how much conflicting information is out there re: the possible hazards of non-fermented soy products.

Anyways. I found this locally-produced tofu, and I’ve done all sorts of things with it and now I have dreams of tofu, I love it so. Maybe it’s just the fact that it’s really fresh tofu that makes all the difference? Or maybe I’ve just finally figured out what to do with it? I don’t know.

First thing’s first – buffalo tofu. I knew I loved buffalo tempeh, and thought maybe buffalo tofu would be a good way to give tofu yet another chance.

I didn’t allow much marinating time – just simply sliced the tofu and placed it in a baking dish, pouring a mixture of Frank’s, olive oil, garlic and water over the top of it, and baked for about an hour. To get a little crispy-crusty action going on, I pan-fried it prior to smacking it in a sandwich filled with fresh herb lettuce, hummus, tomato and pickles.

Oh, yes, please.

After that experience, I knew tofu might be earning a spot in my heart.

My next tofu experiment came from my little black book:

Er, okay, maybe it’s a bulky blue binder. This is where I keep recipes I clip from magazines and such. It’s much more practical than keeping a bajillion magazines around for just one recipe that I don’t even remember seeing.

However, it tends to be put on the backburner for “real books.”

Was there a recipe for sweet potato gnocchi with lemon-basil sauce and panfried tofu with onions and mushrooms? Absolutely not. Did I develop a recipe for gnocchi with lemon-thyme sauce into the aformentioned gnocchi dish?

Why yes, yes I did. I feel like I’ve been eating too well lately. Why am I this lucky? Anyways. This is adapted from a recipe out of Cooking Light.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Lemon-Basil Sauce

served with onions, mushrooms, peas and grilled tofu 

For the gnocchi:

  • 1 medium sized sweet potato
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • water (for boiling)

Bake (microwave or oven) the sweet potato. When cooked, allow to cool a few minutes before removing skin and mashing in a bowl. Add in the flour and salt. Stir to form a dough and then turn out onto a clean surface that’s been dusted with flour, adding in more flour until you get a smooth dough. Divide into four pieces, and roll each piece intoa 10″ log. Cut into 1″ pieces. Press against a fork to get indentations on one side (your thumb will lightly indent the other side)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add in 5-10 gnocchis at a time, and leave in the simmering water for 2-3 minutes. When they’re ready, they will float to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon, and place in a strainer. Repeat until all are cooked, and move onto your sauce.

For the veggies and sauce:

  • 1/2 block tofu, sliced into 1/4″ slices and then triangles
  • 1 t. earth balance or butter
  • 1 t. basil oil
  • 1 t. dried basil
  • 1 lemon – you’ll need the juice and the zest
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c. frozen peas
  • 3/4 c. sliced mushrooms
  • salt and pepper (I used lemon pepper)

In a saute pan over medium heat, warm the oil and butter. Add in the onion and cook until softened. Add the mudhrooms and cook until almost softened. Season with salt and pepperAdd in the lemon zest, lemon juice and dried basil.

In a tupperware or bowl, place a layer of tofu and then veggies, repeating until used. Cover and allow to sit at least an hour.

When ready to prepare, heat the skillet and add in the veggies and tofu. Make sure the tofu is lying flat in the pan. Cook until golden on both sides, removing from heat when done. Add in the gnocchi (you might need to add more oil at this point) and cook just until they get a deep golden crust on both sides. Add in the frozen peas halfway through.

When done, serve over a bed of herb salad.

I’m not sure which dinner I liked better – that one or this one:

Chutney “Chicken” One-Pot.

And by chicken, I mean tofu. Since it wasn’t marinated and simply added in towards the end of cooking, the tofu was a wonderful way to “cool down” my mouth from the gradually increasing heat of the dish from the ginger and cumin.

I omitted the parsnips and apple fromt he original recipe purely because I didn’t have one, and instead subbed half of a roasted butternut squash and carrots. I also didn’t use quite as much dried fruit, used nutmeg and clove in place of the allspice, candied ginger instead of fresh ginger, regular balsamic instead of white balsamic, applesauce instead of apricot preserves and vegetable broth instead of chicken stock. I also added a pinch of white bean flour to thicken a touch.

I think this dish would be superb with figs, too – and maybe fig preserves instead of apricot? Either way – it was a serious winner, in my book. I love you, Rachel Ray.

In other news?

My computer is toast. Well, let’s classify it as burnt toast. I sort of like toast, so just calling it toast is sort of putting it lightly. That’s why blogging’s been a bit sporadic lately – it takes so much more time, and my mom is usually on her computer at night, anyway. I’ve had almost the whole week off from work (hence being so productive in the kitchen) so I have a bit more time for blogging in the afternoons for the time being.

Of course, that’s only after my Teddie time and walks with Kaia, which we’ve been doing lots of lately. We both love it 🙂 And Teddie? Man, that pony is rockin’ lately! I am so proud of him – but I let him gloat about that on his own blog now 😉 (even though he posts pictures where I look like a dorkus.)

Anyways, what I’m trying to say is that I’m a proud new Mac momma…but it’s not getting here fast enough!!

Do you like tofu? What’s your favorite way to prepare it?

And/or – what’s something you thought you didn’t like, only to find out you actually do?

20 Comments

Filed under cooking, dinner, foodblog, health, health food, healthy living, lunch, recipe

The Baking Blog

You guys must wonder if all I do is bake and eat sweets these days! Yesterday, I mentioned baking as being my boredome-buster for being snowed in. I guess that’s not so surprising considering…well, I bake when I’m not bored, too. In fact, at this very moment, all I can think of is what I want to bake. And so, I’m sitting on my hands (or, typing this blog post if you want to be literal) because we have plenty of food in this house, and I know I have Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday to bake. Four days in a row without baking won’t be happening, so I figure I might as well give myself until Thursday to eat through Super-Charge Me cookies, cookie dough balls and muffins.

Had I mentioned how, after baking so much for friends and co-workers, all I wanted was some Super-Charge Me cookies? The craving was pretty intense, and I figured I had to make some for Santa on Christmas Eve so that he could be charged for his long night delivering joy and presents.

While nosing through my cupboard to see what I had in terms of dried fruit, I was reminded of an old obsession I had; dried apricots. I used to have dried apricots on a daily basis -how did I forget all about them?! They wound up being paired with roasted almonds in some good old-fashioned Super-Charge Me cookies. Hit the spot.

Is there something you used to have all the time, only to completely forget about it all of a sudden?

And yesterday, I made muffins. Mini muffins. When Ipopped these littlebabies out of the tin, I couldn’t stop ooh-ing and awww-ing, even shoving them in my mom’s face proclaiming “loooook at these little babies they’re so adorable!

I am officially wierd. You knew this.

My mother gave me Vive le Vegan! for Christmas, and naturally – I had to test it out. I was thinking muffins, and settled on the Orange-Poppyseed Muffins, but then when I was flipping through the desserts section, I saw coconut-lime cookies.

…Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Do you see where I’m going with this?

It had to be done, folks. I mean – who doesn’t cook with coconut and limes while there’s a blizzard outside? I realized afterwards how backwards I am. Here, in the middle of a blizzard, I am cooking coconut-lime poppyseed muffins while I should be standing over a pot of bubbling chili.

Ohhh, my life.

Before we get started, a few notes, mainly because I have this sudden obsession with bulleted lists lately:

  • They aren’t very pretty because I never bother smoothing out my muffin tops. Note to self: smooth out your muffin tops! We’ll just call them rustic.
  • If you bake these in mini-mini muffin tins you’ll probably die at the cuteness.

Coconut-Lime-Poppyseed Muffins

  • 1/2 c. + 2 T. ground oats
  • 1 T.  poppyseeds
  • 1 T. (generous) sugar
  • 1/4 c. shredded coconut
  • zest from one lime
  • 1/8 t. sea salt
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1/4 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 2 T. coconut flour (or another 1/4 c. white whole wheat)
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • juice from one lime
  • 1 T. milled flaxseed
  • 1 t. chia seed
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 T. almond milk
  • 1 t. vanilla extract (I bet coconut extract would be good, though)
  • 1 T. coconut oil
  • 1/4 c. dried cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 375*.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, flaxseed and chia seeds.
  3. In a large bowl,combine the ground oats, poppyseeds, sugar, coconut, lime zest, salt, nutmeg, flours, baking powder and baking soda. Tip: sift in the coconut flour and baking powder and soda.
  4. To the lime juice and flax mixture, add your remaining wet ingredients, stirring to combine. Stir in the coconut oil. Combine everything and stir until well combined. Fold in the dried cranberries.
  5. Spoon the batter into sprayed/nonstick muffin tins until 3/4s of the way full. Bake for 20 minutes (longer or shorter is depndent on the size of your muffins. My baby ones were pretty crispy on the outside after 17 or so, while the large ones I left in for twenty.)
  6. Now, pop those little babies in your mouth like they’re popcorn, while watching the violent snowstorm from inside your safe and humble abode.

Oh, and for what it’s worth – sitting on my hands to prevent myself from baking totally didn’t work. I started writing this post shortly after lunch to keep myself entertained. It’s not 3:35 and I had to do something. It’s still frigid outside, I did all of my cleaning yesterday, and I don’t feel like going out again, either. I’m still chilled from being at the barn all morning.

So, naturally, I convinced my mom she wanted a dessert. She didn’t really, but I needed an excuse, you know. I convinced her she wanted date squares. And when I mentioned it, she realized she wouldn’t mind some date squares after all.

Touch-dowwwwwnnnnn, Jessica!

She’s used to this game I play by now – me suggesting she wants a dessert or a snack or something. And then I play a guessing game, until I say something that she actually says “oh, yeah, okay!” to. Her mom used to make date squares, I guess – so I hope these are just as good!

I followed the recipe in Vive le Vegan, however I used orange zest instead of lemon, coconut oil instead of canola, and date syrup instead of molasses. I quite like them, myself – they are not too sweet, and have the subtle tones of orange in the creamy date layer. The oats in the subtly sweet crust are a nice touch, too.

My thoughts on the cookbook? Another great one to add to my collection! None of the recipes are so complex that they are off-putting, nor are any so simple that I sort of laugh and say “well gee, maybe I should write a cookbook.” They are all health-conscious but not in a restrictive way, and there is a good, diverse selection, too. Lastly, the ingredients are all pretty easy to find, save for tamari and barley flour – though I think I could find both of those things if I knew to look for it at the co-op. The author does give subs for the barley flour, luckily – but it does make me want to try baking with it!

Have you “read” any new cookbooks? What’s your favorite one, or a favorite “kind”? I enjoy reading my cookbooks from cover to cover, not just skimming recipes. I find it really gets my creative juices flowing, and helps to teach me what works with what, too.

I’ve also found that I enjoy all types – not necessarily just vegan cookbooks or just “healthy”cookbooks. In fact, I love flipping through magazines with recipes for meat or things that aren’t trying to be healthy, too – because it’s another take on marinades and dishes!

23 Comments

Filed under cooking, foodblog, healthy living, recipe, Uncategorized

English Muffins and Stuff

Question: Was I looking forward to going to work today after finally having time to relax?

Answer: No. So I didn’t. I’m sick, can’t you tell?

…just kidding. More like…I didn’t want to risk life or limb driving in. It’s a wonder I haven’t blown away yet. In fact – it feels like today has been twenty different days all wrapped up in one.

  • Started off listening to wind howling, saying “oh hail no, I’m not driving to work,” and wondering when the roof was going to come off.
  • Realized it was going to be a long day not being able to a. go anywhere, b. bake (…much…), or c. get things done on the computer (due to aforementioned problems). So instead, started cleaning. A little obsessively, I might add. In my mother’s words, the kitchen sink is now shinier than she’s ever seen it. And she’s a good cleaner.
  • Listed stuff I will never use again on eBay. Like old show clothes so that I can buy new for (hopefully) next show season!
  • Mourned the loss of power and started layering up. Just in case, you know, we were out for three days again. Sorted through recipes.
  • Did an electricity happy dance when it came back on an hour later. Oh thank you lord.
  • Shoveled. A lot. There’s a lot of snow. It’s also really windy. Every time I’d throw the snow to the side, it’d just blow back onto what I was shoveling. It took some crafty maneuvering, but ultimately – I came out on top. You will not hinder me, snow.
  • Baked anyways.

Oh yeah, and was greeted at lunch time by THE best gift ever.

Jess sent me cookie dough balls!! It made me realize how I’m always the one giving away baked goods – and receiving baked goods from someone else (especially a wonderful friend!) was really exciting for me.

And my mom and her boyfriend. I’m told I’ll be making these soon. And I agree – they are phenomenal. See, for some reason I just kept putting off Mama Pea’s cookie dough balls (I don’t know why)…and Jess definitely found a way to suck me into the cookie dough cult! I’m not sorry.

Can you tell what else has gone on in my kitchen? Well, besides the gnochhi, various tofus, polenta-chickpea bake and cranberry-lime-coconut muffins?

You win…English muffins! Ever since buying the spelt English muffins that the Vermont Baking Company produces, I’ve been reminded of my slight obsession with English muffins. I mean, think about it…they’re soft, doughy, perfectly sized, crusty exterior and you can do anything you want with them. (oooh, racy.)

Add to that the fact that I had more fun making them than a cat has with a laser pointer.

Oh, and they’re easy. And now I have homemade English muffins. na-na-na-na boo boo!

I followed this recipe, though I think I ended up using 2 c. white whole wheat flour and only 1/2 c. bread flour.  Oh, and used honey instead of sugar. The only problem I had was that the baking soda was really difficult to mix in, and they could be a little sweeter. (well, according to my mom, it doesn’t bother me any.)

Of course, I don’t consider myself an English muffin conniseur. I enjoy them, but I don’t really care about nooks and crannies. I’m perfectly happy being handed a Thomas English muffin. Although these are way better, so that could change in the future.

I made some of them cinnamon-raisin, too. Though it didn’t backfire, next time I’ll have to remember to just create two separate batters from the get-go. Stirring in cinnamon and raisins after the dough had formed was also tricky…even if I did get sort of neat swirls of cinnamon 😉

And what better use for my homemade english muffins than to make flaxy french toast for breakfast?!

Oh, how silly of me – of course you can have better than flaxy french toast. Like when it’s smothered in maple peanut butter, grilled banana, raisins, maple syrup and sunflower kernels.

D’oh.

Santa brought me this peanut butter in my stocking. While I may have been on the fence about the previous Vermont Peanut Butter Company flavors – this “Harvest” peanut butter is a real winner. Like…I would take a bath in this if it was socially acceptable. Why bathing in peanut butter isn’t socially acceptable is a debate for another day.

Anyways. Does anyone else think grilled/caramelized bananas sort of resemble tongues? Because I do. And if I just ruined grilled bananas for you, I sincerely apologize, but I don’t mean it in a gross way.

Personally, I think it’s kinda cute! And you probably think I’m on crack right now, but it’s really just good old-fashioned time off that’s making me this loopy.

And in case you were wondering how I made my flaxy french toast (you probably weren’t) I’ll tell you.

I mixed together:

  • 1 tablespoon milled flaxseed
  • 2 T. So Delicious coconut milk yogurt
  • 3 T. unsweetened almond milk
  • hefty pinch of cinnamon

before halving an English muffin and soaking each half in it, on both sides, and poking the bejeebus out of it so it’d soak up the maximum amount of goodness.

I’ve also got a thing lately for grilling stuff in Earth Balance (or butter could be the alternative). It owns non-stick spray anyday of the week. Well, depends on the circumstances I guess because sometimes it’s just plain easier to use spray (like for muffins, or when you’re sauteein onions in olive oil…work with me here)

Anyways. I think you’ve heard enough from me for one day, even though it feels like I’ve got a whole load of recipes to share with you.

What’s your favorite snow day activity?

OH!! And because I forgot yesterday and was unable to deliver the message prior, Teddie says Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays:

…I don’t humiliate him or anything…not at all!

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…and a Partridge in a Fig Tree…

Ways to Enjoy a Christmas Weekend:

  • Be awoken by a wet-nosed dog jumping on your bed and sticking its’ nose down your covers and then your shirt.
  • Rub Frank’s Red Hot in your eye after marinating tofu in it and not washing your hands well enough after handling it.
  • Frantically wrap all of the presents you’ve collected but had no time to wrap.
  • Frantically clean and do laundry that you’ve had no time to do.
  • Make Super-Charge Me cookies for Santa. I am Santa in that sentence.
  • Lots of nature walks in the woods.
  • Wake up before anyone else and decide to kill time until everyone is up by making cinnamon rolls and surfing the web.
  • While surfing the web, get the blue screen of death from your computer. Start freaking out about it, but don’t really have time to be worried because then everyone else is up.
  • Enjoy a wonderfully relaxed holiday with family. And feel incredibly lucky for the wonderful company and the opportunity to finally slow down.

Ah, yes. Aside from the couple mis-haps…I’ve had a wonderful weekend “detoxing” from all the insanity leading up to Christmas. I really hope everyone else has had time to rewind and enjoy themselves and the company of loved ones, too!

As mentioned, Christmas this year was really laid back. We didn’t even do anything special for dinner last night or Christmas Eve. We had a more formal breakfast/brunch as usual, but that was it. And I am certainly not complaining.

…even if I did have to break in to one of my stocking stuffers to tide me over to breakfast. Hey, eating breakfast at 9:30 is a new concept to me. And I love cookie buttons.

Anyways. I mentioned baking cinnamon rolls, didn’t I?

My mom always makes a sausage strata fro Christmas, and not much else. Strata is pretty filling and with just the four of us, there’s not need for more food. Since I wasn’t going to have any, I was almost just going to make my usual breakfast since there wasn’t the need for another big dish to be on the table.

I suggested I could make baked oatmeal, but my mom said she didn’t like oatmeal…only for me to remember how much she enjoys oatmeal on her breaktime.

“If you don’t like oatmeal…why do you eat it at work?”

Oh, that’s microwaved oatmeal.”

“…and…?”

It’s got…apples…and stuff…”

Oh, I guess you’re right…because I’d just make something bland and tasteless.”

I didn’t press the issue, though…and even though I really wanted to make cinnamon rolls, figured I’d just take things as they came. I wasn’t too worried about the food situation this Christmas, I guess.

And then of course, the next morning, I just had to make Veganomicon’s cinnamon buns. You can only put off a recipe for so long, and the Maple and Brown Sugar Pinwheels have been calling my name for a while now. Okay, only since last weekend when I did all the baking, but a week is long enough.

I ended up switching the flavor notes around a little, by really playing on the orange zest in the original recipe. I added dried cranberries to the brown sugar filling, and for the 2 cups of flour, used 1 c. white whole wheat, 1/2 c. graham, and 1/2 c. unbleached all purpose. For the spices in the dough, I added cinnamon, nutmeg, ground clove and ginger…and put a big ix-nay on thie icing-ay.

…and some walnuts in the filling, too.

These were delicious and loved by all, and you know what? They’re really not even all that bad for you! Gotta love it. I could easily have them with less sugar, too – even though for 8 buns only 1/3 c. sugar was used, I think I could easily halve it and the filling would be sweet enough to make up for it.

I spooned some coconut milk yogurt over mine because I was afraid it would be too dry otherwise, but that really just caused it to be a bit too sweet.

I’ve had worse problems.

Like the fact that, as mentioned, my computer has pooed in its bed. Everyone cross your fingers that I can at least do a harddrive recovery and get back the senior portraits and pictures on there! I wouldn’t mind a new Mac, though…even if I do mind shelling out that cashmoney.

This dilemma is currently making blogging rather difficult, as I’m just now realizing how streamlined Windows Live Writer is, after all. I didn’t like it at first, but I think I just hate change until I get used to things. Using my mom’s computer and blogging from the wordpress dashboard? Yeah, it’s sort of like making a meringue without a mixer. You can do it, it just ain’t pretty or efficient.

Oh yeah, look at my new Fig trees. Yes, trees is plural. Lets do a fig-tree dance for a full harvest next summer!!

This was a hoot to open. I think we were all in tears from laughing.

Anyways. Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrated this weekend – and enjoy the last of your holiday weekend! If you’re getting a crazy blizzard right now, please stay safe!

Most random present you’ve ever recieved?

Mac or PC? If Mac – iMac or Macbook? I love and far prefer macs – I’ve just never owned one myself since they’re so daarn expensive. I figure this time, though, if I need a new one, it’s go big or go home, right?

ALSO – edited to add – that the pictures of me making the cinnamon rolls, my sister so graciously took for me. I am not magic, nor am I so into my food photography that I set up a tripod and put my camera on timer 😉 (not saying there’s anything wrong with that, I just don’t see myself ever getting any baking done if I were to do that 😛 )

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Filed under breakfast, health food, healthy living, recipe