Tag Archives: apples

Chutney Chickpeas (and TEDDIE!)

I finally got the chance to play with my favorite little furry four-legged today!

…just a shame Vermont can’t plow roads this winter. I could have made it there much faster? Even in this picture you can see where someone started swerving!

With all the fashion blogs out there today, I thought I’d join in on the trend. Here I am modeling my gloriously fab boots, snow-pant breeches and Carhartt knock-off.

This is why I’m hot.

Naturally, being so bundled up didn’t make for optimum riding gear. So why not just hop on bareback (er…blanket-back…) and go for a snow ride?

That was Teddie’s thought as he took great joy in making me get an additional workout trying to climb atop him.

He may be short, but damn, when you’re wearing bulky clothing, you’re sinking up to your butt in snow, and you have an excited pony walking in circles around you because he wants to visit with everyone, it’s a lot easier to say “hop on” than it is to actually hop on.

When I finally got halfway on he was at least patient enough to stand still while I made like a seal as I flopped the rest of myself up and over.

We had fun. Maybe we’ll just become snow riders for the rest of the winter. Or pick up skijoring.

And in case you thought I was too hot to handle before, it got even better when I put my helmet on:

I realize I look like dorkus maximus, but look at Ted!

daaaaaaaamn! Oughta have put a warning sign on this blog.

See all that snow on his bridle? He took great pride in trudging along with his nose buried in the snow while I thought he was going to roll on me. Luckily, the only time I had to bail was when I accidentally steered him into a drift that was up to his belly. It was probably deeper than that, but his belly kept him from sinking further, luckily.

Sorry, Ted.

Oh,yeah…anyways. About that food thing.

Truth be told, when it came to dinner tonight, I almost just sauteed up some spinach, garlic and barbecue sauce with barbecue tempeh and called it a night. And if I didn’t have to work tomorrow, I totally would have.

Sauteeing spinach in olive oil with garlic and BBQ sauce is way better than it sounds, fyi.

But, I kind of like making enough dinner the night before working to be able to pack an easy lunch to bring the next day. Sauteed spinach wasn’t going to cut it.

Especially sauteed in garlic. I can still smell my breath from having it for lunch, and that was 5 snacks and a dinner ago.

I might as well just dedicate this post to Rachael Ray, what with using her bench scrape, knife and recipe.

They were Christmas presents! (…but I still love Rachael Ray.)

I’ve made this “Chutney Chicken One Pot” and posted about it before – well, raved about it before – but just linked to the recipe with all of my swaps written separately.

Well, usually I don’t break my “link-back” rule, but since this is one of my favorite meals (I’ve gotta go there) and I’ve made some substitutions over the couple times I’ve made it, I’m just going to go ahead and post how I make it.

Chutney Chickpea One-Pot

serves 2 as a side, adapted from Rachael Ray’s Chutney Chicken One-Pot

This dish is easily customizable to your likes and dislikes. Check out my notes after the recipe! Not only that, but once you’ve got everything chopped it comes together in a handful of minutes! And I know I just talked about a fear of long ingredients lists – and this one is…but it’s SO easy and you’ve probably got it all on hand.

  • 2 t. olive oil
  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled and diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 c. diced celery
  • 1/4 c. diced green or red peppers
  • 1/4 c. diced dried apricots
  • 2-3 dried Turkish figs, chopped
  • 1 c. chickpeas
  • 1/2 t. ground cumin
  • 1/8 t. curry powder
  • 1/2 t. allspice
  • 1/8 t. ground ginger
  • 1/4 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T. dijon or whole-grain mustard
  • 2 1/2 T. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 c. vegetable broth
  • 2-3 handfuls baby spinach

Heat the oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add in the apple, onion, celery and peppers. Saute until slightly soft. Add in the spices, dried fruit and chickpeas. Stir and then add in the broth, applesauce, vinegar and mustard. Reduce heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer about five minutes, until sauce thickens slightly. Add in the spinach, stir and cover. Remove from heat, leaving covered until spinach wilts.

Serve with some crusty bread or a grain!

Last time, I made it with tofu instead of chickpeas, and mixed in cooked bulgur instead of serving it with bread. There were other differences, but I also didn’t add the spinach. I much prefer it with spinach! I also think I preferred it with bread instead of a grain.

I love dishes that mix a sweet element with savory, and this one hits the nail on the head. Change it to your tastebuds, though. I chose to use applesauce instead of jam because I figured jam would be pushing the envelope on too sweet. You can also easily use a bit less dried fruit, and use what dried fruit you have on hand. I love apricots and figs, but raisins are good, too!

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Filed under apple, beans, bread, chickpeas, cooking, equestrian, food, healthy cooking, healthy living, horseback riding, pony, recipe, snow, teddie, vegan, vegetable, vegetarian, veggies, vermont

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

I had a lot of decisions to make today.

Now before you go getting all concerned, relax! Relax. Fortunately for me, the hardest decision I have on days like today is what I’m going to have for dinner. Before you laugh, that’s a pretty big decision. I mean, it can make or break your day! …or maybe I’m just a little dramatic.

In case you haven’t heard, it’s snowing all over the northeast.

I’m guessing you’ve heard.

My first decision I faced was whether I wanted to call in to work or not. I’m guessing you can figure out pretty quickly that I called in.

Which meant that I decided sauteed apples were in the forecast for breakfast this morning. I was awed when I saw that my beloved Gala apples were on sale at Hannaford’s. Unless they’re fresh picked from the farm down the road, they’re the only apples I truly enjoy. (okay, so I probably prefer them over the local McIntosh apples, but I fear that might be un-Vermontan of me to admit, so I won’t. We have maple laws for Pete’s sake, I wouldn’t put it past us to have an apple law, too)

My, oh my, how I’d forgotten how amazing sauteed apples are.

I polished off the last of my bread yesterday, and knew I had to make more today. The decision?

Do I keep it as the original inventor intended, or mix it up again?

I kept it as intended, and think this loaf is a bit prettier (re: less embarrassing) and so won’t withhold the name of the kind woman who shared her recipe with me this time – it was the lovely Sarena, of course! I don’t think there is anything she can’t do in the kitchen. And if you don’t want to see really delicious looking pancakes with a beautiful pour of maple syrup, definitely don’t go to her blog right now.

While that rose, I faced another decision: strength or cardio?

Cardio won.

But these things can only keep me entertained for so long. It was 9:00 and I was already looking for my next project.

Biscotti or granola bars?

Biscotti, says mother – who also had a snowday.

Orange chocolate chip or cranberry almond?

Orange chocolate chip. Best biscotti I’ve ever made all thanks to Veganomicon. No I can’t share the recipe and no I can’t find it either. Buy the book. The biscotti and the chickpea-quinoa pilaf are worth that $15.

…but do I want peanut butter, jelly or maple cream on my hot-from the oven bread?!

Maple cream.

But what kind of nut butter do I want smothered into my date?!

It doesn’t matter because I’ll have another one in five minutes.

If I have hot cocoa in my Easter mug, will it be Spring tomorrow?

probably not, but you can try.

I love this Dagoba hot cocoa!

Should I shovel multiple times so that I only shovel a couple inches at a time, or once so that I’m shoveling more than a foot – but only one time?

Uhhh, well, I banked on multiple times, but this so-called “storm of the century” fizzled out, and I didn’t need to shovel after the once.

As it is, though, the snowbank to the side of our front porch is taller than the front porch, and if I venture off the beaten path I am up to my waist in the fluffy powder.

I hope I can go to the barn tomorrow so I can ride Teddie in it! Hopefully he won’t be like my Corona pony and decide it’s more fun to roll in said snow than it is to play in it. I’m not worried about getting rolled on, I’m worried about my saddle getting saturated. I paid more for the saddle than I did for the pony.

Do I make buffalo tempeh or barbecue tempeh?

Both! Sorry, guys – but I think I’m getting tempeh burnout. I’m sort of bored with it. When this block is done, I need to bid goodbye for a couple weeks. Needless to say, I do adore buffalo tempeh! Especially with the last of my caesar dressing and red onion (I heart red onion + buffalo + caesar)

I think I struggle making the decision between sweet potato fries or whole-baked sweet potatoes more than I struggle with the decision about what to wear.

It takes me a while to figure out what to wear in the morning. It’s too early to think clear, so I just stare into my closet for at least five minutes as if it’s some other-worldly realm.

And in case you were wondering, a whole baked sweet potato won, but I didn’t get to use this picture yesterday and was pretty proud of how perfectly baked and cut those fries are. Not to toot my own horn or anything.

Dinner was a big decision today, but I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

I knew I should use the eggplant I had in the fridge, but nothing was particularly speaking to me.

Yes, when I flip through recipes certain ones call to me. I can plan “ooh I want to make that!” until I’m blue in the face but I can never decide what I want for dinner until 3:00 that day.

What did speak to me was Chickpea Piccata. (< Lucky for you guys, Isa has the recipe for this one on her website!)

But what to have it with?

Eggplant!

But how?

My new favorite way ever, of course!

I was flipping through my binder of recipes,and saw this very plain-jane recipe for roasting eggplant originally from Cooking Light. I was a bit apprehensive that it would be all that great – it is basically eggplant straight up, after all – but combined with the absolutely amazing piccata, this meal was enough to make me fall head over heels in love with…well, everything in site. It turned me into a hippie peace-love flower-girl.

For the eggplant, though:

Roasted Eggplant

slightly modified from cooking light, for one eggplant:

  • 1 medium eggplant, about 1 lb.
  • olive oil for brushing (I used basil oil)
  • pinch salt, pepper and herbs de provence

Preheat oven to 450*. Carefully slice your eggplant the “long way” into 1/4″ slices, leaving the end in-tact. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and fan out the eggplant. Brush with olive oil and bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly tender. Remove from oven, press down to fan out more, and brush again with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs. Bake 15-20 minutes more or until tender and skin is beginning to crisp.

My mom: “are you going to eat that whole eggplant?”

Don’t mind if I do!

Decisions – do you find yourself sometimes having a terrible time deciding over the silliest of things, too?! Please say yes so I’m not alone. And don’t ask me who you should marry. I’ll just say “everyone! peace and love!”

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Filed under apple, baking, bread, breakfast, chickpeas, cookie, cooking, dates, dinner, eggplant, food, food blog, healthy living, lunch, nut butter, pancakes, recipe, snack, snow, sweet potato, tempeh, Uncategorized, vegan, vegetable, vegetarian, veggies

Cornbread Stuffed Squash

Before I get down to the nitty gritty as to what I’ve been up to all weekend, I’ve got some serious thanking to do!! Everyone’s comments on the last post have been making my life everytime I read one. I would say they made my day, but they did so much more than that!! So, really…thank you. Each and every one of you. I can’t say I’m expecting much to come out of the challenge, but it sounds like fun at least, doesn’t it?! Sometimes it requires a “challenge” to get your gears turnin’!

So anyways…this weekend? Yikes, has it been busy!! I don’t even know where to start, so I’ll just start posting some photos and see where I go! I haven’t been a very good blogger and taking very good pictures – and in reality, haven’t been a very good eater, either. I’ve found myself “grazing” through lunch all weekend, but we’ll get to that.

I think I’ve discovered the no-fail overnight oats combination. Well, topping combination. It’s all about keeping it simple! That and…including figs, peanut butter, and walnuts 😉 Mashing a banana in with the base to sit overnight has also become a daily occurrence. This was so good I had it two days in a row! I had a Senior Portrait to shoot yesterday morning and wanted to sleep in a little later so decided overnight oats were the way to be 😉

Have no fear, though! Waffles came back this morning. With buckwheat flour! And “apple pie” on top. Note: I finally finished the awful banana peanut butter! hurrah for me. I think I ate it faster than ever just because I wanted it gone!! I knew if I dug into the “good” peanut butter, the banana peanut butter would just keep getting pushed to the wayside.

There was an apple fest this weekend that I couldn’t make it to, but my mom dropped by. We now have three huge bags of apples (for only $3, no less) waiting for use. I heard rumor of apple pie (and my mom even asked me to pick her up some Crisco when I went to the store last night. It almost pained me, but I did) though I’ll keep enjoying baked apples, I am sure!

I knew I was going to be getting home later than usual yesterday, so I packed a 9 Bar sent to me from Nicky. Naturally, it did not disappoint! Though, just like last time – left me full for the majority of the afternoon!

The detail in this photo almost creeps me out! I can never get such a sharp focus when I use my d40 – but I had the 50mm on my d90 while I was on the run and so just used that 😉

I needed groceries…and had the hankering to go to the Co-Op. Usually I limit my time there since it’s two things: a. expensive and b. tempting. A dangerous combination!! I tend to just want everything, so have been going when I’m on break from work…meaning, I don’t have time to drool 😉 I decided today would be okay, though – might as well reward myself for shooting so many senior portraits this summer!!

Sure, one could argue that money would be better spent on updating my severely out-dated wardrobe…but I had things in mind, and already sort of did that.

I won’t admit that by updating, I mean I splurged on some winter riding clothes and nothing that had to do with “normal” clothes. Oh, snap – I just did.

It was just my day, too. This coconut oil was on sale for $6.99!! I think usually it’s about double that, and I have been absolutely dying to try coconut oil. It’s in so many recipes, and I’ve always felt like it’s one of those oils that simply can’t be replaced by another.

I think I’m right, too – I made sweet potato “cookies” today and can’t imagine them without the coco-nutty essence that the oil gave them. And the aroma! Oh my word I just wanted to dive right in. Maybe I will be using it as a hair/skin solution?!

I got sort of creative with a Moosewood’s recipe I saw for Butternut Cookies, and crafted these sweet potato cookies. I guess to be truthful, they’re more like…cake bites? Or something like that…than cookies. They are definitely delicious and I am thinking about posting the recipe, but part of me wants to give them another try to get them a tad more cookie-like before I do so.

If you want a taste-bud teaser, though – they’re sweet potato based but combined with (among other things) whole wheat flour, coconut oil, maple syrup, coconut, dried cranberries, and dark chocolate chips. And vegan. Just ’cause. I’m thinking next time = add some oats.

Aha…sorry for this wretched photograph. I had decided to take some shots of a factory building to compile an HDR photograph, so my camera was set on bracket…I completely forgot to take it off, though – so every shot I took afterwords, was either a normally exposed shot, and then underexposed, and then overexposed. This one…was very verry underexposed. I tried brightening it in photoshop but you can still tell 😛

Anyway – I am a Kefir n00b, believe it or not!! I finally decided to give it a try, and picked some up at the co-op. I was tempted by some of the fruity flavors, but then realized I’d probably be using it for peanut butter sauces and just opted for plain! I haven’t used it yet, as I’m finishing some OV pourable yogurt first, but am eagerly anticipating it. And a little frightened.

Speaking of peanut butter…my last splurge was on some more crazy peanut butter. I know, I know – I’ve already determined that Price Chopper brand is a-okay by me…but I just had to make sure that Vermont could produce some good peanut butter! Call me daring, but I tried the exact same brand of the stuff I last detested…but let me say, Mad River MoJo = winner! It’s perfectly nutty, seedy, and made in Vermonty 😉

Last night consisted primarily of killing time in Rite Aid, Price Chopper, and McDonalds parking lots. Eh?! Yeah, a real spitfire I am, huh?

Okay, backtrack to my yummy dinner first – a wrap with grilled tempeh, hummus, mozzarella cheese, feta cheese, and tomato sauce with a side of roasted butternut squash and an ear of corn fresh from our very own garden 😉

Anyways. I wanted to take some time-lapse photos at night of like…people driving through the drive-through, people milling about Price Chopper, etc. I realize this could probably pass as illegal, but I wasn’t intending to capture people’s phases! And either way…my idea didn’t quite play-out. I haven’t gone through them yet, but to make a long story short, I left way too early and got tired of waiting for dusk to come.

That said, that means I spent a lot of time milling about Rite Aid and did my grocery shopping very leisurely. It was sort of nice. You know how, usually, even if you’re not in a big hurry – you sort of are? Well, it was a bit different to want to be held up. I think I humored the cashier at Rite Aid by being so eager to save $2 if I signed up for a Rite Aid card.

And my cashier at P-Chop was precious…as usual, I had a boatload of veggies and I think she was new, so I had to keep telling her what it was.

“Yes, that’s kale.”

“Yep, that’s a rutabega.”

Uh, yeah…I bought a rutabega. Now what in the hay do I do with it?!

Similarly, I was really excited to introduce kale back into my life. And find that P-Chop has (almost) all of the new Larabar flavors!! (I almost did a happy dance right in the aisle) Oddly, they didn’t have carrot cake. I’m Lucky Rebekah‘s got me covered 😉

It’s sort of weird that I get so excited about these things when I know perfectly well I can make them myself and save money.

OH and by the way. Libby’s has got you all wrapped around their little finger. I was happy to see that they had small cans back in stock, but of course now Price Chopper isn’t stocking their store-brand pumpkin anymore. Which is much cheaper. Sad face. So now I’m wondering if it’s just that Libby’s doesn’t produce in the off season even though P-Chop has theirs year-round? Is pumpkin pretty well readily available to everyone else now, too?

Sweet potato fries, coated with a mix of peanut butter, flax seed, and sweet-n-spicy bbq rub. With cranberry jelly for dipping.

Today was a bit of a bum day I didn’t go to see Teddie (as is becoming routine on a Sunday) because I wanted to play with “the girls” and also had to finish going through the senior portraits and do school-work.

Of course, I managed to fit baking cookies in there, along with baking a pretty fine dinner 😉

Ironically, the class I signed up for so I’d have enough credits and not necessarily because I want to be a major in it is the one that’s the most complicated and tedious. I thought Animal Behavior would be really interesting and I’d have a good time learning about it, but so far it’s a ton of work. I don’t think it’s just because it’s online, either – I think it’s mainly the teacher! I’m hoping it gets interesting, though. All my others (including Intro to Business!) are really fun/interesting, though.

And all the talk about chocolate milk in my nutrition class gave me the craving! Especially because I wound up with more unsweetened vanilla almond breeze (I had a free coupon that I needed to use before I would be able to get to the store that sells the original kind). Just some almond breeze, hershey’s unsweetened cocoa, and a drizzle of honey. Warmed for a bit. Love hot/warm cocoa 😉

And, finally, dinner. A cornbread-stuffed acorn squash! As I was looking for an apple pie recipe for my mom, I found this. (Because, you know…squash has a lot to do with apple pie?) I’d like to think I took it to the next level, though…the original was mainly just stuffing a squash with some cornbread. Mine is…stuffing a squash with some cornbread, veg, chickpeas, and hella good seasonings 😉

Cornbread-Stuffed Acorn Squash

adapted from The Healthy Cook

pardon the rough measurements!

  • 1 acorn squash (or any squash, I’m sure – I bet butternut would be lovely, though I’m still a squash n00b)
  • drizzle olive oil
  • 3 large leaves kale
  • handful of spinach
  • 1 T. cranberry jam
  • 1 T. maple mustard
  • 1 T. balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. chickpeas
  • 1/2 c. frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2-3 pieces of cornbread (I made some a week or two ago and froze what I didn’t eat within a day or two – remember?! I recommend that recipe, or whatever you’ve got. or, heck -this is worth making some!!)
  • 2 T. dried cranberries
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • chopped walnuts

Bake the acorn squash: cut in half, deseed, and then place face-down in a baking dish. Fill so there’s water about an inch up the sides, and place in a 375* oven for about 40 minutes, or until tender.

Prepare the filling: while heating the olive oil in a medium sized pan, combine the vinegar, jam, and mustard. Thin a bit with a splash of water. Add the kale and spinach to the pan, season with cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and pour over the dressing you just combined. Allowe it to cook down a bit, and then stir in the chick peas, cranberries and mixed veg. Shut off the heat and let sit.

When the squash is done cooking, spoon out some of the inside and add to the veg mix. You’ll want to leave about 1/2″ around the outside, though. Mix in to the veggies, and then crumble in a large piece of cornbread.

Place the acorn squash shells back in the baking dish (dumping the water out first, of course) and sprinkle with salt (or not, if you’re not like me and don’t feel the need to salt everything) and then spoon in the veg/cornbread mixture.

Crumble more cornbread over the top…

…and then bake for about ten minutes in the 375* oven. Top with some shredded mozz cheese and wlanuts, bake until melted, and then plate!

At first I felt like it needed something more…a sauce, a side, I don’t know. Something. It just seemed sorta lonesome. Feeble, even.

But I mean, it’s got everything you need! Protein, fiber, carb…perfection. It really didn’t need anything! And holy moly, is it filling. I’m glad I didn’t listen to that little voice in my head, because I was stuffed after this!

If I had much more cranberry jam and any maple mustard left, I probably would have made a little sauce by combining that and the mustard and some balsamic. Not because it was dry…but because it would have looked prettier. And it’d have been good.

Does anyone else feel like they need to add more even while knowing something probably just enough?

And what should I do with my rutabega?

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

Everybody Loves Herbs

Thank you all for the well wishes, storm stories, and plantain ideas! I picked up another plantain today to experiment with, as a matter of fact 🙂

I’m going to try to keep this short yet again, at least photo-wise. We still don’t have our wireless working. I really wish I knew even a little bit about computers, because then I may have at least a 50% chance of getting it to worked. Unfortunately, I am one of those people that just pretends to know the basic things like the difference between a hard drive and whatever else is important in a computer. Therefore, my shots at troubleshooting a wireless situation are nil.
Luckily, I know how to leech.
Not so luckily, that means uploading and waiting for photos to load rivals the pace of a snail, maybe if I’m lucky a turtle. So while I’m seriously jonesin’ to read about what is going on in all of your lives – it’s just not workin’ out for me. I promise I’m not ignoring any of you – I’m just really impatient, and even when I’m patient, the photos don’t load 😦 Maybe tonight will work out better – we’ll see!
But, moving on.

Oats were welcomed back this morning – in the form of apple cranberry oats.
The base:

  • 3 T. Kamut hot cereal, 1 T. peppy kernels, 1 T. wheat bran, 1 T. Ruth’s Chia Goodness (cran-ginger)
  • 1/2 c. water, 1/2 c. PureAlmond
  • drizzle maple syrup, cinnamon
  • 1/2 chopped gala
  • dried cranberries

And then topped with:

  • chia icing
  • chopped mixed nuts
  • Mighty Maple
  • and a chutney/compote ish thang of the rest of the apple and some dried cranberries, simmered with maple and almond milk.

After a long time away from each other, I can say that the love is still there – but I am excited to keep experimenting with waffles!

Need Saturday’s  funny story? I slept so late this morning that my mom actually came in and started poking the blanket to make sure I was alive. The funny part isn’t that this happened – the funny part is that it was still only 6:40 am.

Probably because we had a busy day ahead of us – of yard sailing, gardening, shopping, and spring-flinging. The yard sailing and spring flinging portion were relative fails, except for the library book sale. Yes, this is probably sad, but I found three cook books that I figured – for $1, why not?

And the gardening was also a huge success. First, though, we had lunch.

Bean & egg wrap with spinach, yellow pepper, garlic, and feta. My favorite bread was gone and I forgot to pull the second half of the loaf out of the freezer. Bummer. Wraps are still a large part of me, though, I do believe.

And then we gardened our lives away.  So far, we have planted:

  • eggplant
  • spaghetti squash
  • some other form of squash (butternut, maybe? acorn? not sure – my mom did it the other day)
  • lettuce (not sure what kind)
  • spinach
  • sweet corn
  • tomatoes: 1 yellow boy, 3 Romas, 2 Beefsteak, 3 Early Girls, 3 Jet Stars
  • basil
  • oregano
  • chives
  • parsley
  • red peppers
  • green peppers

oh and my blackberry bush 😉 Keep your fingers crossed that something decided to grow! I was so stoked to find roma tomatoes, and I think my mom was more excited to see the spaghetti squash plant than I was! I think I’d still like to get some more herbs – just because they’re so expensive to purchase fresh at the store, but cooking with fresh is so much more enjoyable than dried.

Anybody else growing green thumbs this year? Do tell what! I’d also like to grow kale, but I don’t think that’s until August or September.

Aaaaand, eventully it was dinner time. Speaking of spaghetti squash, I made us another spaghetti squash primavera with a boatload of random veggies from the fridge and some chickpea cutlets I still have left.

In there, you see fire-roasted diced tomatoes, fresh corn from the cob, portabella mushroom, yellow pepper, onion, garlic, basil, salt, and pepper. Well, and spaghetti squash, of course. I even saved some of the seeds to dry and try planting. I hope we can grow ‘sghetti squash. And eggplant. And red peppers. I want to roast my body weight in red peppers and have roasted red pepper, eggplant, hummus, and feta paninis for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Not really, but it sounds nice.

But anyways. Here’s to hoping I can catch up on some of your lives tonight. Fill me in – any fun stories or memorial day celebrations? Is everybody grillin’? I picked up my portabella grillers today! And yes, I am switching back to calling them portabellas.

_______________________________

Everybody Loves Herbs!

This may get a little boring – I’ll be honest, this isn’t  little blurb about some interesting health fact, some new food that is the cure-all…but instead just a fun little take on cooking with herbs! I mean, why not? I love health – but I also love cooking, and showing people that the two really can go together.

What helps that most?

Herbs, of course! Who wants to eat a bland, unseasoned dish? I’ve gotta say – I’ll hula hoop for fresh basil or garlic in a dish or on a sandwich, and I don’t hula hoop for anybody.

Fresh herbs have a much more vibrant taste and the right ones will enhance anything!  It is important to remember that fresh herbs must be kept cold, if you are purchasing them from the grocery store. It’s also important to make sure they are dry before you stow them away – if you store them when wet they are sure to spoil even more quickly! The finer you chop your fresh herbs, the more flavor they will release into the dish. Likewise, for the strongest flavor, add fresh herbs late in the cooking stage. Otherwise, the flavors may dissipate, and your expensive & delicious fresh herb flavor will be all for naught. One example where you may not want to do this is when you’re making a cold salad-like dish. In this instance, adding before refrigerating will allow them to mingle – flirt, if you will.

When it comes to dried herbs, you will have the most luck if you add them early in the cooking stage. The more heat, the more flavor they release. And make sure you keep your dried herbs sealed tightly! When properly contained, they can stay potent for six months to a year.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • You can easily dry your own herbs. Simply rinse, pat dry, and either hang to dry for 3-6 days, or lay out on some wire mesh for several days. You’ll know when they’re dry – they’ll crumble easily!
  • The worst place for herbs, spices, and seasonings is above the stove, where heat shortens their lives.
  • Shaking directly into a hot pot or pan is a no-go, too – steam could get trapped into the bottle and turn the herb/seasoning/spice moldy.
  • If your garlic clove is sprouting – go ahead and plant it for some garlic chives

What are some of your favorites? I loooove fresh basil, chives, cilantro, dill, garlic, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme – just to name a few! And I think this east coast grill spice mix sounds lovely with some chickpeas or sweet ‘taters – or to season a veggie burger! Simply combine 2 tablespoons each of: ground cumin, paprika with 1 tablespoon each of: crushed coriander seeds, ground ginger, and ground cinnamon in addition to 1 teaspoon each of: turmeric, ground red pepper, and dry mustard.

Any seasonings you wanna spill?

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    Great Dates

    One day closer to the weekend…one day closer to ponyville! I’m not excited or anything, hmm? 😉

    This morning, day off in mind, I lolly-gagged out of bed at the late hour of 6:20. I do what I can.

    …and in the kitchen went through a life-changing event. It was a little thing called Mighty Maple that triggered it. I finally broke into the PB & Co mighty Mapes that’s been hiding in my cupboard to replaced my beloved cinnamon raisin. I had high expectations, being the maple head I am. I mean, not just any maple is mapley enough to meet my expectations. Take Justin’s Maple…I could hardly even detect maple!

    The only way to induct such a nut butter would be through figgy apple oats. And so, the base for this morning consisted of:

    • 2 T. Bob’s Grains & Nuts, 3 T. Peppy Kernels, 1 T. Wheat Bran
    • 1/2 c. water, 1/2 c. PureAlmond
    • 3/4s of a small gala apple
    • 1.5 dried chopped Turkish figs
    • drizzle maple syrup
    • cinnamon
    • 1 T. chia seeds

    and then topped with:

    • chia-flax icing
    • honey roasted peanuts
    • PB & Co Mighty Maple
    • and a chutney of the rest of the apple and figs, simmered in some almond milk, cinnamon, and maple syrup.

    So, what did I think? Oh, I think I died and went to heaven. I don’t think PB & Co has disappointed me yet. And they’re pretty inexpensive. And I can buy them locally. I should just stick to PB & Co! What’s your favorite brand?

    It was so perfect that it reminded me immediately of my childhood days, when we would go out for ice cream, and share cones of homemade maple walnut ice cream. Yes, I realize that doesn’t make much sense considering the fact that we’re talking about peanut butter and not walnut butter – but just work with me here.

    I enjoyed the beauty of this bowl while contributing to Heifer International, by sipping on some Green Mountain Heifer Hope. Don’t get that twisted, though – I don’t hope to be a heifer.

    I comically watched an infomercial for the same blender I have (my blender/processor is really bad, guys – this infomercial makes it look like it’s a miracle, sent from heaven even) before getting my groove on. And by “groove” I mean getting groceries and an oil change for Gertrude. The groceries happened, Gertrude didn’t. First, though, I had to find my shoes.

    Not staged. Am I the only one laughing? Probably.

    My mom didn’t even let me take my shoes off when I walked in the door last night, and apparantly just walked right out of them in the most random of places.

    Finally found them, though. And why no oil change? Well, the sun was shining…it was beautiful…who wants to get an oil change? I’d rather do some yoga if you ask me. Jenny warned me – but that vid kicked my booty. I loved it. I was hangry after, though, and feulage in the form of cottage cheese, greek yoga, strawberries, and honey roasted almonds was a necessary. Drizzled with some irish cream agave and a boatload of cinnamon, to boot.

    I used up the last of my chickpeas to make some chickpea cutlets for dinner for le madre and I. I used balsamic rather than soy sauce, eliminated the thyme and sage but used fresh basil, and added some scallions. And made my own homemade breadcrumbs. I’m going to go ahead and give myself a pat on the back for ending up not wasting any of my homemade loaf of bread. I thought for sure I would, but – no wastage after all!

    Anyways – I took the opportunity of the oven being on to roast an eggplant, red pepper, and a sweet potato, too. Does anyone else feel the need to go on a roasting rampage once the oven gets turned on? I hope so. Eggplants and peppers would find use another day, however – and I went the route of a goat cheese, apple, spinach, and tempeh panini on multiseed whole grain bread for the lunch-age.

    Low and slow sweet potatoes joined me in my voyage. The first time I had these, I thought they were life changing. Same goes for the second. and third. This time and the last time, however – they sort of reminded me of baby food. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. Yet. I don’t think. Just sorta…weird.

    Of course, that’s probably okay because I’m just sorta weird, too. Case in point? I can’t sit down to eat until everything is just so. I can’t eat and leave the kitchen a mess. And if I have any thoughts, I need to do them and get them out of the way so I can just enjoy the food. After I made this and photographed it, I notice the horses begging to be put out on grass. Sigh. Let horses out. Come back in. Realize the kitchen is messy. Organize kitchen. Wonder if mail came. Get mail. Realize lunch is cold. Microwave lunch. Eat.

    The reading material for the lunch?

    Oh, yes – so glad I checked the mail because look what I found getting melty! Nicole noticed I was eyeballing the Boomi and Prana Bars and sent me a bunch to try! And, amazing flavors, might I add. I am sure I will have no trouble enjoying these, and I cannot wait to try one tomorrow! The ingreds in these puppies are nothing short of stellar, and I love the unique, new flavors!!

    I grabbed a homemade laraball for dessert and sat out on the porch with Kaia browsing through random Hannafords magazines. They put together a pretty mean magazine, you know. But – I desperately need to sit down and read a book this summer. First on my list? In Defense of Food, or something along those lines. Any suggestions?

    I browsed tack catalogs, moseyed outside, and did relatively useless things including nomming…

    Dr. Kracker, Sunflower Seed Butter

    …until my Mom got home from work, and we went for a ride. I grabbed a banana to share…

    It was pretty warm today – at least in relation to how it has been recently – so we didn’t go too far, but it was a really great ride! Jiggy was one tuckered puppy (uh, appy) afterwards though. We gave them a nice hose-down and he was incredibly greatful – I felt it in the way he sipped water straight from the hose 😉

    Dinner tonight was new in all sorts of ways. First time trying spaghetti squash! First time eating/making chickpea cutlets! And it was a major success – both in my eyes and mi madre’s. I took hint from Nicole once again – sheesh, I think everything I make lately is either Veganomicon or Making Good Choices! Anyways – I remember her posting a bit back about a spaghetti squash primavera. Yes, Please.

    • spaghetti squash
    • canned diced tomatoes – basil, garlic, and oregano flavor
    • zuchhini
    • roasted eggplant
    • roasted red pepper
    • artichoke hearts
    • garlic
    • scallions

    It was fantasmic. Seriously. I wasn’t sure I’d care for the spaghetti squash, hence why it’s taken so long to try it. I thought for sure it’d be too squash-y. I’m not much of a squash kinda gal. I mean, it even sounds funky. Squash? sqqqwaaassshhh. But it definitely surprised me and was incredibly reminiscent of real spaghetti. I even just microwaved it for speed and to eliminate turning on the oven.

    mmm- Loved all those veggies! This was definitlely my kinda meal. The cutlets were great too – though I think next time I’d love to make them with some fresh basil, sundried tomatoes, and more garlic – and yes, there will be a next time.

    ____________________________

    What’s So Great about a Date?

    Jenny’s ode to maple syrup this morning got me thinking – what else do I eat on a daily basis that I don’t necessarily eat with benefits in mind, but moreso because it’s a great, tasty snack – and of course, also better than it’s mass-processed counterparts? I was shocked to read all of the goodies in real maple syrup – I honestly just thought it was a great alternative to refined sugar! Now, I’ll be strong like maple tree. Definitely give it a read!

    Anyways –  The first thing that came to mind was: dried fruits and nuts. Now, we all know these foods are beneficial, but to be honest, I never really stopped to see how beneficial. Maybe I didn’t much care – I mean, I’ll keep eating them either way, right? My first order of business, though- What’s so great about a date?

    Dates are, most likely, the most common of the dried fruits I’ll have. I mean – how many are in a Larabar alone? They are also perfect stirred into oats or used for baking – they tend to get this delicious, sweet meltiness to them when heated. And though I’m not a huge “sweets” fan by common terminology – I do love the natural sweetness that just popping a plain ol’ dried date brings about. That being said – dates are a great form of natural sweetener. There are date sugars and date syrups, but for some reason, I don’t find these to be as widely available or known about as stevia or sucanat.

    But aside from being a great sweetener and just plain great snack, the health benefits of dates are a mile long! Want a quick peek?

    • Low in fat and cholesterol, and due to the high fiber content actually help to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. Round of applause for cardiovascular health!
    • good amounts of potassium, which is known to help to maintain a normal blood pressure level
    • high in iron
    • good source of magnesium, which studies have shown helps to relax muscles and thus relieve fatigue
    • good source of copper, which reduces your risk for developing an inflammatory disease, such as arthritis, working to maintain the elasticity of your muscles and joints
    • B-group vitamins are found in large quantities in dates, which helps your body to get all of the energy production out of the foods you give it
    • dates are also a great source of dietary fiber (which – doesn’t it seem like everything is nowadays? but that’s another post, another time.) promoting satiety and regulating blood glucose. Annnd, you know that “beans, beans” song? Well, I guess it could also go “dates, dates, the magical fruit…the more you eat…”

    So, lets hear it for dates as a great, high-energy, nutritious snack. What’s you’re favorite way to enjoy them? Here are some of my faves:

    • chopped and mixed into savory-sweet salads
    • whole dates stuffed with some nut butter (and I need to follow Nora’s footsteps and microwave them like this!)
    • in a hot applesauce mess – i swear they just get all melty and sweet in the most beautiful and delicious of ways
    • homemade laraballs
    • real Larabars
    • mixed in to baked goods and oatmeal – once again, helloooo sweet melty deliciousness!


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