Tag Archives: beans

That’s Totally Okay

Looking back through today’s pictures, I still don’t know how I was as productive as I was.

I guess that explains how it’s already 6 pm, though. Last I checked it was 10am!

There was lots of learning to be done, though. Both of the educational sense as well as the personal sense.

Like how it’s totally okay to completely mess up your pancakes, only to discover they’re the best you’ve had all week. Even if they look like they’ve already been digested once or twice.

…and it’s also totally okay to realize that maybe the only reason you make mini loaves of bread is not because you like it better fresh – but because it’s so much fun to make and smell.

Sarena’s bread has yet to disappoint. I don’t think it’s possible for it to. It is so quick, so simple and so delicious.

Roasted Red Pepper & Garlic hummus from Appetite for Reduction

Realize you’re home alone for 25 minutes? Well – it’s perfectly reasonable to go on an insane food-processor rampage, right?

For some reason, I can’t get the rest of my family to welcome with open arms the amount of noise required for making hummus and nut butters. On a Sunday morning, no less.

When people should be waking up to the smell of bacon, not the sound of hummus.

And yes, it’s totally okay to combine hemp seeds, sunflower seeds and peanuts in your quest to make the perfect unsweetened peanut butter. Just don’t forget the pinch of salt!

But hey – why not try a flavored cashew butter for once? I’ve never had anything other than “normal” cashew butter, so I decided to give it a try. Verdict? totally okay.

  • 2 c. roasted & salted cashews
  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 1 t. date syrup
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 – 1/4 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. golden raisins

Method: Process the cashews until they form a ball. Break it up and add in the oil, syrup, extract and cinnamon. Process again until smooth. Add more oil depending on how runny you like it. Add in raisins and pulse a few more times to combine.

And by the way…if you just so happened to have made peanut butter before this…and didn’t feel like washing and trying your processor…it’s totally okay to just use the processor with the peanut butter residue still in it.

Not that I would have ever ofund myself in this situation or anything.

Haven’t done laundry in two weeks? Totally okay – it just makes you find all those old clothes you don’t know why you still have…but then realize why when you have nothing else to wear.

Again, not that I would know anything about that.

Yes, it’s perfectly fine to consider your workout for the day simply walking up a hill.

…but it’s probably easier to buy when the snow is up to your waist, and your dog might hate you for it.

Sorry for the butt shot…but this just had to be done. Kaia found that it worked best if she just tried dragging herself along on her belly.

We have so much snow right now. And we had a thundersnow storm last night!

It was kind of creepy and I was ready for the apocalypse.


I also realize that lately I’ve been hardly creative in the kitchen on my own, but rather have been making recipes out of books like it’s my job.

Well, I do wish it were my job…

But hey, that’s totally okay. I’m calling it “fine-tuning my technique.”

Because really, I don’t actually know anything about cooking or baking.

It’s totally okay to instantly think of your childhood when creaming “butter” and sugar.

Isn’t it a requirement of growing up to eat the butter and sugar when making cookies?

Not quite enough dried figs for your homemade “Fig Not-Ins” after you absent-mindedly munched on a few?

Using some golden raisins as filler is perfectly okay.

Adding anise extract, on the other hand? Totally not okay. Sambuca has ruined anise extract for me for the rest of my life, I think. I can’t have peppermints anymore because of peppermint schnapps, either.

Luckily, the anise was just an accentuating flavor, not a main player. I followed Vegan with a Vengeance‘s recipe because I wanted to have a more dough-like newton. The recipes I found online were more like a date bar – but with figs. I wanted more of a distinct fig newton! But, adding the anise idea came from this recipe.

Ironically, rolling the dough out for this was very time consuming and difficult and it will probably be many moons before I do it again. That and the directions confused me. I don’t think they were confusing, I think I was just having a “moment.” A “what the kale?” moment.

And if you lose patience with it, it’s totally okay to end up just making two giant tarts with the last of your dough.

And by the way – taste-testing your fig filling? Perfectly fine. In fact, I think it’s required. Mainly if you have some fresh bread and cashew butter to accompany it. D’oh.

Having paprika that’s older than you are? Well, that’s probably not okay, but I use it anyway. It probably doesn’t taste like…well…anything…to be perfectly honest with you.

I kid you not, I remember having this paprika when I was, like, three.

Because I was definitely using paprika as a wee little three year old. I distinctly remember burping “mo’ papriikay!” a time or two.

But until I finally remember to buy new paprika, this old stuff had to do for the mushroom and cannellini paprikas in Appetite for Reduction.

And in case you were wondering – it’s also totally okay to have sweet potato fries with every meal…and still not know whether you prefer them with barbeque sauce or hummus.

And lastly – it’s perfectly fine if you just watch the Superbowl for the commercials. I’m not a football fan…I prefer real sports.

Other things that are totally okay:

  • Realizing you haven’t gotten out of your pajamas all day. Which probably means they’re really gross considering the fact that I was definitely sweating walking up that hill.
  • Not putting away your laundry even if it’s all done.
  • Realizing you sort of enjoy the reading for your recent classes.

What was your “totally okay” moment of the day?

And I’ve gotta ask…Superbowl – yay or nay?

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Filed under baking, bread, breakfast, cookies, cooking, dessert, dinner, food, healthy living, hummus, lunch, musings, nut butter, pancakes, photography, recipe, snow, sweet potato, vegan, vegetarian, veggies, vermont

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

Funny Things

Tastebuds are funny things, don’t you think?

I mean – we may start out hating one thing, but before you know it – we’re in love. In a way, I think this is a good thing. We can “train” our tastes to prefer less sugar, less sodium, more fruit and more vegetables and reap the benefits from the change.

Lately, I’ve been wanting to cut back on the sugar I consume that is in food. I mean – I’ll never dismiss my love for spooning maple syrup or date syrup over a couple of pancakes, or preference to have a sweet fruit over a vegetable snack. And I’m okay with that. But little things, like sugar in peanut butter or almond milk? Well, those can be eliminated and still enjoyable, right?

My initial answer was a flat-out “no,” it couldn’t still be enjoyed. But considering the fact that I’m not about to chuck an entire jar of peanut butter or carton of almond milk, I got over it and eventually realized I do enjoy it.

Peanut butter that’s just peanuts and salt? Mreh…was my response at first, as I’d add it to any sort of baked good I could in attempts to get rid of it STAT. My response now? Well, lets just say I’ll use any excuse to spread it on something.

And I disctinctly remember telling you all how much I disliked the unsweetened almond breeze. But, I’ve kept with it – and now? The original sweetened kind is too sweet! My mom picked it up for me the other day thinking it was the kind I used – and of course I used it – but plain? Too sweet.

Pancakes? Oh, I’ll have them sweetened with some banana if I’m in the mood, and always a little drizzle of maple or date syrup on top – but I’m noticing that I love the natural sweetness and nuttiness of the whole grains themselves whether or not there’s anything on top.

Not to worry – by no means have I gone to extremes, nor am I starting some sugar free diet. I am just enjoying the simplicity of foods not too sweet or overly seasoned, I suppose. Like this cranberry-orange bread I made from a recipe the wonderful Tatianna shared with me. It is hardly sweet, with only a little bit of honey and a wonderful orange essence, neither of which mellow down the tartness of the cranberries. Spread with a little bit of almond butter, this is a perfect snack.

And as we talk about molding our tastebuds, expanding mine has been another mission I’ve been on. I used to always try a new fruit or vegetable while at the grocery store, but lately I’ve mellowed out.

I don’t want to be mellow!

It may take me five minutes to decide what shape pasta I want – but it took me five seconds to land a yucca in my cart. I didn’t know what it was, the sign offered no explanation, and I had absolutely no plans, but apparently picking up a yucca root on a whim is my idea of living life on the edge these days.

Apparently, I should have just asked my mom before I did any research, because when I told her it was a yucca that I was slicing and dicing, she spouted off all sorts of informationa bout it “being a medicinal cure for foundering horses, originating in Arizona.” There you have it. Apparently I’m a foundered horse.

That didn’t tell me much about what to do with it, so Google was my friend and a quick search told me that yucca, also commonly called cassava, “is very rich in starch and contains significant amounts of calcium, dietary fibre, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin b6 and vitamin C.” [source]

Oh, and that they are commonly made into fries, too.

I wasn’t sure I was a fan at first – but by the time I had my fourth or fifth one, I definitely was. They are very similar to a white potato, but better – my common complaint with white potatoes is that they’re too dry. The yucca fries didn’t have that complaint.

Oh, and those green things?

Collard greens – another veg I’d (embarrassingly enough) yet to try. Gabriela inspired me to finally try a green other than kale and spinach, and I’m glad she did! I loved these collard leaves as “wraps,” with baked beans inside. I wasn’t brave enough to try them raw quite yet, and instead “marinated” them with a bit of lemon juice and salt before running them under some super hot water for a couple seconds and then really quickly pan-frying them once stuffing them with the beans.

Speaking of beans…no, they didn’t help the B’s last night. Bummer.

Other things:

  • I’m really glad I’m not the only crazy one with a computer screen  bigger than my television.
  • A lot of you were wondering what I stuffed my hummus crepe with, and silly me for forgetting to say! I don’t know what I was thinking, but apparently I had too much a. bruins and b. iMacs on my mind. But, inside my hummus crepe was boiled tempeh, iceburg lettuce (blech) tomato and a pickle. Oh, and red onion.

Have you tried anything new lately?

What’s something you’ve noticed your tastebuds adapting to lately?

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

Hummus Crepes

UHHH…apparently I’m a little…greedy.

21″ computer screen sounds totally reasonable, right? Larger than most, even?

But bigger is better, right? Go big or go home? So why not just get the 27″ screen, right?

I’ll show you why not – because 27 inches of computer screen is totally unnecessary and no one needs a computer that large. This could serve as my television, for Pete’s sake! Oh, well.

I’ll probably have a crick in my neck for the first week of iMaceration (uh, that was intended to be the conglomeration of the words iMac and operation, but it turned into maceration, as in to chew, not as in iMac operation as intended.) but at least I finally have my iMac, after years of threatening to throw my “i-hate-life” PC off the deck after working with the happy-go-lucky Macs at work and school all day.

…but of course there’s the desk dilemma, and since ms. Mac has no place to live until Thursday, she’s living in her cardboard box and I’m using my mom’s i-hate-life PC still.

Name suggestions for the new baby are welcome.

How does one celebrate new motherhood? Hummus crepes, that’s how.

Because the only thing better than hummus in its’ natural form is hummus in crepe form. d’Oh.

I saw the idea for hummus flatbread while I was browsing Food Network magazine last weekend. I’ve been sort of phasing out of bread lately for reasons unbeknownst to me, but there are still times that call for a bread-like-vessel. Like today. When I arrived home from the barn, I was hangry, and really wanted to try the hummus flatbread but didn’t have the patience to flip through my giant blue-binder-of-recipes where the recipe resided.

So, I just mixed some hummus with some flour, nooch and water and prayed to the hummus Gods that it would at least sort of work. The worst that could happen was I’d have hummus mush, right? Not so bad, right?

Alright, so I got too zealous withthe fillings to make a real wrap – but it still worked! And was pretty amazing. It actually got crispy, which I wasn’t sure would happen. Crispy on the outside, with a creamy hummus inside. el perfecto! Next time I’d probably just use a bit larger of portions so I can get a full wrap 😉

I whisked together 3 T. forty spice hummus, 2 T. oat flour, 1/2 T. nutritional yeast and probably 3 T. water while preheating a skillet over medium heat. Greased the skillet with a little earth balance before pouring on the hummus mixture and spreading it out pretty thin. Before flipping, spray the top with a little cooking spray so it doesn’t stick. Cook until golden on both sides.

The mixture should be similar to the consistency of a crepe – not too runny, not too thick.

And remember how last time the B’s playedI mentioned how I almost made Boston baked beans to jingle good vibes? Well, I didn’t end up making them. And they didn’t end up winning.

They play Montreal tonight so I knew jingles were necessary. Enter: Veganomicon’s cheater baked beans. I entertained the thought of another recipe, bt if there’s one thing I’ve learned about baked beans, it’s that you dn’t mess with a good thing.

To be honest, I don’t know what classifies baked beans as Boston or otherwise, but lets hope this works.

Or maybe you can hope it doesn’t – because if they win tonight I’ll probably decide eating baked beans every night we have a game is the way to go. Not only will you guys get sick of seeing baked beans, but my family will probably get sick of me eating said baked beans.

I don’t think I’d get tired of eating them, though.

I feel like all I talk about lately is hockey and Mac computers. Maybe tomorrow I’ll tell you about how I found Teddie dressed up in a penguin outfit today.

(p.s. You have until noon tomorrow to enter the date syrup giveaway!)

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

Gingerbread Muffins

I’m really glad everyone enjoyed yesterday’s post!! I enjoyed writing it, too – I was actually a little surprised that I had to reel myself in a few times. Before moving onto a normal post, one thing Daniel pointed out that I should mention is that ketones actually occur when carbohydrate intake is less than 50-100g/day, not when protein intake is too high, which is what I had said. Another thing I forgot to point out is that yes – ketones are in our body naturally. The only difference is that if we’re eating a diet that is well balanced, everything in our body should be relatively well-balanced, too. So when there are carbohydrates consumed only in minor amounts, less fatty acids are being broken down and excess ketones build.

I was sure I was missing something 😉

But anyways. This weekend has been busy! Good busy, but still busy. Yesterday morning I had  a senior portrait to shoot bright and early…well, it was supposed to be bright and early. I ended up having to wait for the girl an extra half hour which was sort of frustrating, but I dealt.

I was probably so understanding because my breakfast was simply outstanding. It must have put me in a good mood 😉 Well that and I’m pretty easy-going, anyways 😛 I ended up taking so many pictures on this shoot – I am still going through them. I don’t do much usually, but she specified she wanted a “scene-vintage” type senior picture, so I’m doing some funky editing with color and such on some of them.

Since I was parked within walking distance of the co-op, there was no way I could just not go. I mean, hello! I was so stoked to see they had this coconut milk kefir! Ironically – I usually hate strawberry flavored stuff.

I was debating as to whether I wanted to try it for a good five minutes, literally standing there with a bottle of kefir in one hand, and this in the other.

I’d put one back, then change my mind.

I think the people there thought I was crazy.

Obviously, you see which I chose 😉 I think I just have a bad mental image of strawberry flavored things since I’d remember strawberry flavored ice cream, yogurt, etc. taste so artificial-like. I tend to forget that stuff like this doesn’t taste artificial because it uses real fruit!

So I was quite pleased with the taste. I had it over some of the best waffles I’ve ever made…mashed banana oat bran. It’s really good on its own, too.

That said, I really hope the co-op gets the plain or at least vanilla in stock…strawberry is good, but I doubt I’ll always want strawberry.

Especially with my ginger-kick! Speaking of which…

I ran completely out of ginger, but guilt-tripped my mom into getting me some while we were at the store 😛 She made me return a bunch of nasty cans and bottles for her.

As in, that she finds. It doesn’t sound too gross…but they’re not all rinsed out, the bag smells, and the beer slime gets all over your hands.

Though it is sort of comical as little old ladies watch as you feed the machine with gigantic empty 40s.

Anyways. Ginger kick. With my new ginger, I could now attempt gingerbread muffins. I guess attempt is an unfair adjective, though – I succeeded, after all!

Seeing as how it was basically impossible to find a recipe that did not require at least a cup of sugar, I decided to just wing it based on a banana bread recipe, because I also had some ripe bananas to use up.

Gingerbread Muffins

yields 6 muffins

  • 3/4 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 c. oat bran
  • 1 t. ground ginger
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. ground clove
  • 1/4 c. blackstrap molasses
  • 1/3 c. + 1 T. almond milk
  • 1 medium-large ripe banana
  • 1/4 c. raisins
  • 1/4 c. walnuts

Preheat oven to 350*

Combine the flour, oat bran, ginger, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and clove in a large bowl. Set aside, and in a medium bowl, mash the banana with a fork. Stir in the molasses and almond milk.

Add the wet to the dry, and stir until just combined. Fold in the walnuts and raisins.

Spoon into sprayed muffin tins and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

And if you want to play a trick on someone, tell them it’s chocolate!

Okay, that’s just a little bit mean.

Next time, though, I’d love to add fresh cranberries rather than dried raisins. ooooh! ahhhhh!

I also tried my first carnival squash this weekend! I was expecting it to taste a lot like an acorn squash, but it’s actually so much better. A lot sweeter than I was expecting (because, as I said, I was expecting acorny!) but purely delicious, especially with cheater baked beans.

I tried a different baking method, too – rather than baking face-down in a pie plate with water for an hour, I just put it on a cookie sheet and baked it face-up at 450* for…I don’t know how long.

I will definitely buy this guy again! It made for a great easy dinner last night, and easy lunch today – which is saying something, because you know I love me a good sandwich for lunch!

like this. My mom broke out the “let it snow” placemats already. Uhhh, let’s not.

Anyways. This was a “grilled cheese,” the cheese being humnut cheese! It was just what I was craving.

It was, however, the last of my bread. I really enjoyed that loaf of honey whole wheat, but I wanted to try something new this time.

My initial plan was to make a bread that required I be of legal drinking age for the key ingredient, but we didn’t have any in the house, so I settled on spelt bread. I really love spelt – but you might not know that because I can’t remember the last time I bought a loaf/made a loaf.

Spelt is similar to wheat in appearance. However, spelt has a tougher husk than wheat, which may help protect the nutrients in spelt. Spelt flour has a somewhat nuttier and slightly sweeter flavor than whole wheat flour. Spelt contains more protein than wheat, and the protein in spelt is easier to digest.
It is that nuttier flavor that makes me really love it, I think!
Except…every time I’ve made spelt flour, I get a flat-top! I followed this recipe with some tweaks.
Next time, I’d just bake it for 35 minutes or so at 400* rather than 15 minutes at 480* first, and then 45 minutes at 380*. I think the high temperature first gave it a really crunchy crust. While the inside is still moist and flavorful, it’s really hard to cut through!

And hey..might as well wrap this up with a quasi-fail, right?!

I wanted to try making my own “KIND” bars – but my binding method needs tweaking 😛 The flavor is delicious – it’s a mix of cashews, dates, puffed millet, date molasses, flax and sunflower butter (well, primarily) – but I couldn’t get them out of the pan in one piece. I formed some of the “scraps” into balls!

This blurb is horsey, read or picture-read, just giving you a warning!

And I know, I know – it’s been ages since you’ve seen Teddie photos! My mom hasn’t come out with me recently, but she wanted to come see him this morning. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to go (since I haven’t been on Sundays) but then I realized I got all of my homework done yesterday and there was no way I was going to just sit and edit photos all day.

I’m so glad we went, though – it was a nice enough (by that I mean it’s getting too cold already!!) morning and since we got dumped with a tooon of rain the past two days, I knew we’d have to work in the indoor. I wasn’t sure how he’d be, so I was more willing to go knowing I’d have help available on the ground if necessary.

See, I took a lesson with A last week and we worked on going forward – meaning, hello, Teddie, yes leg means go! I’m fairly certain he knows this, just likes to try and get away with not doing it – namely, in the indoor. So the second he’d pull his “I’m going to stop” move, she’d be right there and quick little pop him in the butt with a lunge whip.

Before you go calling PETA, we weren’t beating him into submission, merely politely reinforcing the rules.

And he’s actually been really good since then! He’ll still randomly try it one or two times – usually if we’re crossing through the middle of the ring – but it’s not a huge issue. Knock on wood. We now have a nice, forward marching walk and trot. I was surprised at how much he’s stepping up in some of these pictures, actually!

I’m seeing our mini-dressage pony potential coming through again, which makes me happy 🙂 He’s such a stinker…love him!

And on a completely unrelated note…

I also loved tonight’s dinner.

But, since I’m one for cliffhangers lately, you’ll just have to wait and see what it is. I promise it’s pretty ridiculously yummy, though!

What was your highlight of the weekend?

Does anyone know of a good “nutrition tracker” or recipe-calculator website? I have to track three days of eating to analyze for nutrition for class…and while I’m really excited for the project, it’s also going to be a bit of work considering how much I make from scratch. I’m trying “SparkPeople” at the moment, but I’m not sure I trust all of the calculations since some of the foods are entered by users.

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

Butternut Squash Shepherd’s Pie

I’m not really sure what constitutes the difference between  calling a dish shepherd’s pie and a casserole. Yes, shepherd’s pie has a top layer of mashed potato (or, in this case, squash) whereas not all casseroles do.

Which begs the question: maybe shepherd’s pie is a casserole, but a casserole is not necessarily a shepherd’s pie?

Whatever the answer, the one thing both casseroles and shepherd’s pie have in common is that they’re ugly. Well, except for my mom’s shepherd’s pie. I think that was my favorite meal growing up. Ironically, it was also my sister’s nemesis.

It’s debatable as to whether or not I truly loved the shepherd’s pie, or if I just wanted to get her upset. Hey, it’s fair; her favorite was cube steak, and that was always my nemesis.

For whatever reason, my mom hasn’t made shepherd’s pie in eons. I’ll have to beg her to make her original shepherd’s pie (sans hamburg) and enjoy a big bowl.

Until then, though, I think this butternut squash shepherd’s pie is a pretty good substitute. It’s a warm bowl of cozy comfort! Perfect for a chilly fall or winter day.

This is also pretty easy to make. Ironically, I had more plans – like using the frozen mixed vegetables  in addition to the broccoli, but I completely forgot about that sentiment.

I used White Bean Flour to thicken and make a bit of a gravy. I’m guessing everyone doesn’t have white bean flour hanging out in their kitchen cupboards, though.

The mild-flavor of white beans makes this flour ideal for sauces and gravies. It can also be used to thicken soups.  Add herbs and spices to reconstituted white bean flour for a flavorful white bean puree.

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Bean flours are probably overlooked too often – but they’re really a great source of protein and a great gluten-free option, too. But, if I still haven’t convinced you – you could probably just sub the 1/2-3/4 c. water + 2 T. white bean flour for as much gravy, or veg. broth thickened with…cornstarch?

And, without further ado: Butternut Squash Shepherd’s Pie. Unless it should technically be called a casserole. Call it what you will. (What you will!) Name that song.

First, though: Don’t doubt the cranberries.

Butternut Squash Shepherd’s Pie

for 2-3 servings

  • 1 medium butternut squash, halved and baked
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 medium head broccoli, chopped
  • 1/4 c. diced red onion
  • 1 small can of diced mushrooms (only lightly drained)
  • 1/3 c. frozen cranberries
  • 1/4 t. maple pepper
  • 1/4 t. salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 c. black beans
  • 1/2-3/4 c. water
  • 2 T. white bean flour
  • walnuts – optional, for topping

1. Heat the oil in a nonstick pan, and add in the diced onion and broccoli. Cover and sautee until the broccoli is bright green.

2. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in the mushrooms, beans, and cranberries. Leave over medium heat until the cranberries begin popping. While that cooks, work on the butternut squash topping by scooping the flesh into a medium sized bowl. Mash and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. When the cranberries have begun popping, add in 1/2 – 3/4 c. water, followed by the white bean flour, adding it 1/2 T. at a time and stirring well after each addition.

4. Once you’ve added the water and flour, cook over medium-low heat until it has begun to thicken. Once it has, pour into a medium-sized casserole dish, and top with the mashed butternut squash. Sprinkle the top with paprika, and bake in a preheated 400* oven for 40 minutes, or until top has begun to brown and bubbled are forming along the sides.

5. Allow to cool before serving – it’s hot! Garnish with chopped walnuts.

This. is. so. good. I think the combination of mushrooms, cranberries, and broccoli in the creamy sauce is just too perfect for words.

So. try it. But let me know what you think. You can let me know about the name verdict, too.

And what your favorite childhood meal was, especially if it was just your favorite if it irritated your beloved siblings 😉

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Filed under dinner, health, lunch, recipe