Wednesday, December 30, 2009

unrelated rambling

I wanted to blog this morning, but didn't have any interesting pictures to add to my post. Rats! Since I've had far too many pictureless posts in a row, I found a couple of things to take pictures of and tell you about. Here you go:

Thing 1:

While Dan was at band practice last night, I reorganized my spice rack! I know this seems like a very lame thing to be excited about, but I was getting to the point where I couldn't really find anything, and resultingly had multiples of certain things. Whew! I've also decided that I love the 1-ounce jars of spices from Penzey's, (I received a bunch from Dan's brother for Christmas,) and I think I'm going to start buying all of my spices there for convenience. Heck, the name of the spice is on the FRONT of the jar, so it can be easily read from the spice rack! Woo!

Thing 2:

I need to hit the store for a few things this morning; here's my list. My parents are coming to town today and staying (in a hotel down the street) until Friday, and I don' think any of us can handle eating out every single meal! Both our tummies and wallets would suffer greatly, so I'm planning on a couple of simple meals while they are here. I'm also having a few friends over on Friday night for potluck and board games -- woo cheap entertainment!

Monday, December 28, 2009

happy camper

I do think the only way I would be happier than I am now is if I was actually camping! (Well, and if it was warm out -- I'm kind of a "fair-weather" camper.)

How much fun have I been having??? Since my holiday break started, I've . . .

~ enjoyed delicious home-cooked meals made by Dan's mom (sometimes with my help)
~ gone hiking and snowshoeing in the woods
~ gone for several walks in the city (as well as one in the small town)
~ spent lots of time with old friends (one I see often, and a couple I only see once or so a year)
~ enjoyed pizza, a burrito, and a breakfast quesadilla "out" to eat
~ had fun caroling at our choir Christmas party
~ gone bowling! (And I ALMOST won! Conveniently, none of us broke 100.)
~ read a LOT (a whole book, plus started a new one)
~ enjoyed shopping for and watching people open special gifts
~ printed out 240 pictures for Dan from our 2009 camping/travel adventures (and stuck them all in an album, too!)

Currently, I'm sipping spiced hot apple cider and waiting to wind down for the night. Wahoo! What kinds of fun have you been up to?

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Anyone else feel like they've been eating too much junk food? My non-stop food fest has been going since Wednesday night, and I fear there's no end in sight any time soon . . . holiday treats, rich foods, going out to eat, parties . . . ack! I already feel icky, and we have several sets of plans involving eating out coming up this week.

I have a feeling a nice, healthy dose of yoga or a walk, oatmeal for breakfast, and a big, green salad will be items on my agenda for tomorrow! (I bought a HUGE bag of salad greens at the co-op today, expecting I'd need them!)

How do you combat the "post-holiday grossness?"

Friday, December 25, 2009

a very Minnesota Christmas

Hello blog folks! I left my camera at home, so I have no pictures to share of our holiday festivities, but I must say, I received the BEST Christmas gift a Minnesotan who loves the outdoors could get!


Am I weird? Dan, his brother Ryan, and I each received a pair from their parents today. Wahoo! We tried them out right away, and it's SO much easier than hiking in boots! (Even though I'm having some technical difficulties with mine -- they are whipping snow up my back and over my shoulders! Must experiment with adjustments further.)

What was your favorite holiday gift this year?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

meals and Merry!

Here's what we've been noshing these past few days . . .

"Jerk Tofu" and "Coconut Rice," with a side of kale, from Vegan with a Vengeance:

"White Bean and Garlic Soup with Greens," from Love Soup:

And "Smoky Grilled Tempeh," from Veganomicon, with roasted sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli, and leftover Coconut Rice:

And last but not least, just in case you haven't enjoyed enough treats yet, here are all of the cookies, arranged together to take to work:

I still haven't found out whether I won the second baking contest!!! We shall see. :)

Dan and I are headed out of town tonight, in an attempt to beat the winter storm headed our way. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate! (And enjoy your time away from work, to those who don't!)

Monday, December 21, 2009

a very nice Sunday

Since we had such a nice day yesterday, I'm compelled to share . . . !

I started my Sunday by hauling myself out of bed and trudging through the snow to church. Sounds miserable, I realize, but it was actually quite worth it -- the handbells had several parts in the service yesterday, so the choir only had to sing one anthem. Woo! And we got to sit with the congregation, instead of being stuck up in the choir loft! Plus, our Advent theme this year is "Welcoming the Wild One," and to celebrate the theme, our senior pastor spiked his hair and temporarily dyed it "Advent blue." Man, that was funny!

After church, I made us some soup for lunch, (photo soon, I promise,) and then we headed out on the town. We made stops at both of our banks, saw the 8th Floor display at Macy's, spent an eternity at the library picking out new books, stopped at Pizza Luce for slices and some coffee for Dan, saw the movie "Precious," and then hit up Target for a few things before coming home. Whew! But we had so much fun!

Even though it's a three-day week for me, I wish I was already on vacation like Dan! I want more fun!!!!!

How was your weekend?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Just say "yes" to treats!

(UPDATE: Shout out to Dan's Aunt Mary! Unbeknownst to me, she's been following my blog and Christmas cookie debate since Thanksgiving, and I've added links to my recipes on this post, since she's faced with the challenge of baking for her mother-in-law's 35 closest friends! Go Aunt Mary!)

'Tis the season for dessert after every meal, including breakfast! My selection:

Anise Tea Crescents

These are such a nice surprise -- good anise flavor without being overpowering, and they weren't nearly as fussy to shape as I thought they were going to be. Nice change from the predictable (yet very tasty) Russian Tea Cake/Mexican Wedding Cake.

Mexican Chocolate Cookies

I chanced making these again this year, since I wasn't totally pleased with them last year. Important lessons learned this year: DON'T freeze the dough balls before baking, (the cookies dried out too much last year,) DON'T overbake (again, too dry last year,) and I also doubled the amount of pepper (both types) called for in the original recipe. Wahoo! That's what I'm sayin'! Spicy, rich goodness!

German Honey Cookies

I haven't made these in years, and am very glad to return to this recipe. Dan LOVES these -- they have a good honey flavor, without being oppressive. You sort of have to stop and think while you are chewing, to figure out what you are tasting. A nice, soft, chewy, homey, satisfying cookie.


Crowd-pleaser, and dead easy. Recipe from Betty Crocker is as follows: combine 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cook to "hard crack" stage (300 - 310 degrees Farenheight.) Add 1 cup chopped pecans, then quickly pour into a very well-greased pan. (I own an 8-inch square silicone pan purchased especially for candy-making. Very handy. Saves lots of time in not having to pick bits of greased foil from the bottoms of things.) Top with 1/2 cup chocolate chips, and cover until the chocolate is melted. Spread the chocolate evenly over the toffee, and cool. Remove from pan and cut into small bites. Yum!

Lemon-Rosemary Butter Cookies

A repeat from last year, since I can't get enough of the slightly-sweet, slightly-lemony, slightly-pine-y flavor and dry, almost sandy texture. Very much a "grown-up" cookie, I think!

my grandma's Christmas cookies with buttercream and sprinkles

Smells, looks, and tastes like childhood. I make vanilla-mint buttercream every year, but the traditional vanilla or almond-flavored frostings are also delicious.

Gingerbread Cutout Cookies

I doubled this recipe, and have an army of ginger-vegans! (Except there's an egg white in the decorating icing. Sorry, vegan police.) Tasty, spicy, molasses-y goodness! I love gingerbread people, but until now, had not found a recipe for gingerbread dough that I actually liked eating. (They are always too dry or too sweet, if you ask me.) Soft and chewy but still sturdy, these dudes rock!

Yummy Molasses Crackles

I love molasses spice cookies so much, I just HAD to make these this year, even though the gingerbread people have all the same flavors. Chopping the candied ginger requires a little extra work, but it's SO worth it. A "light" cookie that certainly doesn't taste like it sacrifices a thing! Good job, Eating Well!

Oh yeah . . . and don't forget about the caramels, too!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Can you believe it? I finished ALL of my holiday baking today! I must have hit some sort of pre-holiday baker's time warp, because I made seven different cookies and my toffee in less than 24 hours! (That's including icing and decorating the sugar cookies!)

I've also washed all of those dishes, and took time out to read for a while this afternoon, and to go out for dinner with Dan and his bro!

A "Christmas miracle," if you ask me!

Photos soon -- it's too dark now to get decent shots. More later!

Friday, December 18, 2009

delicious dinners

Monday night:

Spinach Lasagna with Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce, from The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook. I was pleasantly surprised by the filling richness of this dish, being from a "healthy" cookbook and all, plus the portion size was just right! Yum. Next time, I need to work on finding whole-wheat lasagna noodles. (I think my co-op has them in bulk . . . !!)

Tuesday night:

"Brooklyn Pad Thai," round 2, from Vegan with a Vengeance. I've been pulling that cookbook out more and more lately . . . I forget how fantastic many of those recipes are! You'll see more from V-WAV this weekend. :)

Thursday night:

Cannellini Beans with Wilted Greens, again, from The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook. Served this one over a quick, homemade soft polenta. Polenta falls into the same category as couscous, in my book -- quick, simple, tasty foods that I tend to forget about! :)

As you can see, I've really been trying to amp up our veggie and lean protein servings lately, to counteract all of the holiday junk food that we've both been around lately. :) Also, I was so proud of Dan yesterday -- he was tempted to go out and get himself a sandwich or burrito or something after work, but instead he came home and made himself a spinach and cheese omelette! Yay Dan!

In other news, we had a holiday baking contest at work yesterday, and I WON! Woo! 8 extra hours of PTO for me! Wahoo! My sea salt caramels were the winning entry -- everyone kept joking about how they were going to pull their fillings and other assorted dental work out, but it didn't stop anyone from eating one! :)

I'm very excited to tackle my cookie-baking this weekend, and I also have several more delicious meals on our agenda. Until then!

Monday, December 14, 2009

not a lot of cooking

Until I finally managed to get back into my kitchen yesterday, it had felt like I hadn't cooked in a week! (Really, it was more like a few days, but, you know what I mean.) Towards the end of last week, we were subsisting on leftovers and the ever-reliable pasta and burritos:

I swear, you could put guacamole on a rock and I'd consider eating it. :)

Friday, I picked up a few small things during my break so I could officially start my holiday baking and candy-making Friday night:

One down, eight to go!

Saturday morning, I woke bright and early, and decided to get the shopping over and done with for the next two weeks. After visiting THREE different grocery stores, (Asian market, Middle Eastern market, and the co-op,) I was much poorer, but had a carload of food, including all of my holiday baking supplies.

The baking is going to have to wait until next weekend, though, because it was time to make some REAL food!

"Old-Fashioned Cream of Mushroom Soup," from Love Soup, by Anna Thomas:

Yummy! Additionally, I'm not typically much of a broth fan, but I couldn't get enough of this one. Practically licked my bowl clean!

AND, it was time for "Brooklyn Pad Thai" again:

Broccoli has become a requirement with this recipe lately, and that's a good thing!

I'm SO excited to get busy baking this weekend! Watch for the finished products later this week!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

kids say the darndest . . .

We've had a bit of a cold snap in MN this past week, and consequently, our attendance has been low at school. (I assume car problems, not "having" to go out means not going out, etc.)

Today, we had only five kids show up! Low attendance days usually mean our schedule is more "laid-back," and we're able to do all sorts of special stuff with the kids -- more labor-intensive projects, longer play times (since transitions are shorter,) extra songs during group time, etc.

We had a really nice morning! At lunch, one of the kids asks me, "Ms. Catherine, is today a fun day?"

Hello! I hope they have at least a little bit of fun EVERY day! :)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

a great weekend!

I really have had a great weekend! Let's recap . . .

Friday night, my friend Ann met me at work and we walked to the Cheeky Monkey Deli for dinner. YUM YUM YUM! I've walked by this place a bunch of times, and finally ventured in, based on a recommendation from my boss. I had a side salad, pressed brie and roasted mushroom sandwich, some chips, and split a sour cherry mascarpone rice pudding with Ann for dessert. I'm still dreaming about that sandwich . . . this may be my new "go-to" place when I fall through packing a lunch for work! (The harder part will be NOT eating there once a week!) After dinner, we went to Penumbra Theatre and saw "Black Nativity," which was excellent, and helped finally shove me into the Christmas spirit! ;)

I spent Saturday morning sitting around on the couch, clipping recipes out of food magazines and drinking tea:

Yeah, that's a lot of tea. I had, ahem, an impulsive trip to the co-op on Friday afternoon during my break! (Hey . . . they were all on sale!) I made it my mission to try all FOUR flavors of holiday tea, just so I could post a short review here:

Candy Cane Lane: One of my favorites of the bunch. Decaf green tea with peppermint and vanilla flavors. I found this tea benefited greatly from an extra minute of steeping, and a teaspoon of sugar stirred in before enjoying. Brought out the vanilla flavor a little more. Delicious, especially if you love mint tea as I do!

Sugar Plum Spice: My other favorite. Fruity and spicy, sweet without adding any additional sweetner, and delicious! Bright pink in the cup, too. Leave the teabag in a long time, (I usually let my herbal teabags sit in the cup until I've finished drinking,) because the spiciness becomes more present the longer it steeps.

Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride: I have heard wonerful, rave reviews of this tea, but I must confess . . . my socks weren't knocked off. My first cup was sort of blah -- the tea smelled AMAZING, but didn't taste like much. After experimenting a little bit, I found this tea required doubling up on bags in my cup, a LONG steep, (up to 30 minutes,) and a teaspoon of sugar for best flavor. After my initial disappointment, I've been pleased -- imagine sweet sugar-cookie flavor and aroma, with a hint of orange. This would make a fun after-dinner treat on a day you don't want many extra calories!

Gingerbread Spice: I almost didn't buy this tea because I was afraid it would be too . . . spicy. "Spice" tea usually means overpowering, almost bitter cinnamon flavor, in my opinion, and I was a little worried . . . but the sale price made this box jump in my cart, and I'm glad it did! This is a nicely balanced tea, spicy but not overwhelming, and enjoyable even when I forgot and left the tea bag in for fifteen minutes. :)

So . . . if you're a fan of herbal teas and like holiday-inspired flavors, check these out! I think they might still be on sale at Mississippi Market, too! (Maybe even the Wedge? I've seen them on display, but didn't pay attention to the price.)

After my morning of tea and lounging in my jammies, Dan and I decided to head out on foot and "play" -- we went out for lunch, went to the library, hit up a couple of stores, (smoked paprika from Penzey's, a few holiday baking essentials from Kitchen Window, a quick grocery item I forgot on Friday, etc.), got Dan a haircut, a short browse at Cheapo, and then took the bus home. Whew! We were tired!

When we got home, Dan napped on the couch while I made cookies:

Dan complains that I can't ever make "regular" chocolate chip cookies, (i.e., no oats, nuts, dried fruit, etc.,) and unfortunately for him, this batch wasn't "regular." I threw in a bunch of peanuts and a teaspoon of coarse sea salt, which I'm thrilled with! And, well, Dan did confess that he actually liked them. :) (He's not anti-nut, just anti-walnuts and pecans, which I tend to use most often.) I'm going to take some to work tomorrow to share with my boss -- she's had an overwhelming couple of weeks, and deserves a treat!

When Dan got up from his nap, he made his famous tempeh stir-fry for dinner:

Yum! Spicy, salty, and delicious! (And I love all of that broccoli!)

After dinner, we watched part of "The Last King of Scotland" before I practically had a meltdown due to tiredness. :) Early to bed for me!

Today, I went to church, and then made pizza for lunch:

Dan and I had a funny discussion about how much we both love pizza, and never seem to get sick of it. Probably why we have it a couple of times a month! :)

After lunch, we finished the movie, then put up our tree:

Wee Christmas! Now the trick is to keep the cat from tearing the whole thing apart before Christmas actually arrives!

Off to finish the laundry, wrap some presents, and make bean burritos for dinner. Anyone have an amazing refried bean recipe they love? I haven't been happy with the experiments that I've tasted to date . . . I guess I'll just have to search for a recipe!?!?

Saturday, December 05, 2009

loads of food

Sorry for the delay . . . I had three nights in a row of busy-ness this week, which means not a lot of cooking. :) Here are some meals from this past week, in no particular order:

A simple polenta dish, topped with black beans and spinach, and queso fresco:

An old Cooking Light recipe, I believe, and a winner! The only changes I would make would be to double the polenta and triple the topping -- we polished off the entire recipe in one sitting! We ate some of the polenta with the topping for dinner, then each had a bowl of the polenta with maple syrup and milk for dessert. :) Yum!

Curried tofu with roased sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts, and couscous:

Very yummy, and very easy to make ahead. I prepped all of the veggies and marinaded the tofu over the weekend, so all I had to do when I got home from work was throw everything in the oven/skillet!

French Lentil Soup with Tarragon and Thyme:

A recipe I got off the PPK originally, (but I think the recipe may have found its way into VCON,) totally easy and totally delicious. This time, I threw all of the ingredients into my Crock Pot and let it cook away while working on other things last Sunday -- best lentil soup to date, in my opinion!

Cranberry-Orange Sour Cream Coffee Cake:

Thought we needed a fun breakfast treat this week, and this has fit the bill. I followed the basic sour cream coffee cake recipe from Betty Crocker, omiting the cinnamon streusel layer and instead adding orange juice (in place of some of the sour cream,) orange zest, and a 2-cup bag of fresh cranberries. Delicious holiday flavors!

And last but not least, Tuscan Poached Eggs with Parmesan:

A VERY easy meal, and when you add sides of greens and homemade Artisan Bread, extremely nutritious, too! We really don't eat eggs all that often, (I don't really care for them,) but this is one recipe that I LOVE!

Not pictured was a batch of Black Bean and Chipotle Soup, from Moosewood. The soup turned out just okay, (I was really disappointed -- I've made this soup in the past and LOVED it!), and photographed horribly. I think this is one bean soup recipe that doesn't translate well to the Crock Pot. (That, or I added too much water, and should stir the OJ in at the end next time!) Oh well! Hasn't stopped us from eating leftovers for lunches this week. :)

What kinds of recipes/foods serve you well during very busy weeks?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

kids say the darndest . . .

From lunch today . . .

One of the kids was pouring himself a glass of milk, and misjudged and overfilled the cup. (Milk spilling everywhere, you get the idea.)

Another child gently slaps himself in the forehead, shakes his head, and says,

"Help me, Lord Jesus!"

Sunday, November 29, 2009

the final decision.

Ha. I say "final decision" with such certainty! There's always a possibility I'll change my mind on this list again, since I do have nearly three weeks before the baking extravaganza, but I decided to take Courtney's advice and scrap both bar recipes, since bars tend to get squished in transport. I also axed the malted chocolate cookie since it called for several ingredients I don't typically keep on hand, and would find using up the leftovers difficult. However, one cannot have Christmas without a little bit of chocolate, so I added the Mexican Chocolate Cookies I made last year to the list -- an easy drop cookie with fancy flavors!!

Here are all nine final contenders:

sea salt caramels
my grandma's Christmas cookies with buttercream and sprinkles
Gingerbread Cutout Cookies
Lemon-Rosemary Butter Cookies
Anise Tea Crescents
German Honey Cookies
Yummy Molasses Crackles
Mexican Chocolate Cookies

If only I could hit fast-forward, because I can't wait to tackle all of this baking!

What are your holiday baking plans this year?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

V.V. important question re: cookies

I posed my Christmas Cookie baking plan a few days ago, and as I've started to get a little bit more organized, I'm realizing something . . .

I'm crazy.

ELEVEN different cookies/bars/candies?? WHAT? The "20 cups flour" item on the shopping list put me over the edge a little bit!

So, here's what I need from you . . . what would you cross off the list? Please check out the following recipes and suggest cookies to eliminate from the lineup, or alternately, cookies you insist I make:

(I only reposted the "maybe" cookies, since I'm unwavering on a few varieties.)

Cream Cheese-Swirled Brownies (I'm going to add some peppermint extract to the cream cheese layer)
Fig and Cream Cheese Bars
Gingerbread Cutout Cookies
Chocolate Malted Cookies
Lemon-Rosemary Butter Cookies
Anise Tea Crescents
German Honey Cookies

Thank you! All opinions welcomed and appreciated!

Friday, November 27, 2009

food for 2, for 2

Continuing our attempt to shop for the two of us, for two weeks at a time, I had one major haul to walk home from the co-op tonight! (Dan's busy recording with one of the bands, and has the car.) Forgive me for not laying everything out pretty-like, but I was mighty tired by the time I arrived home!

organic French green lentils
local slivered raw almonds
local raw walnut pieces
local, organic cornmeal
locally-roasted, organic, fair-trade coffee
local, organic yellow popcorn
organic, fair-trade, natural granulated sugar

local queso fresco
local part-skim mozzarella
local sharp cheddar

organic orange juice concentrate (local company)
organic cookies & cream ice cream

Preserve razor refills

locally-bottled, organic curry powder
kava kava root

chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
organic ginger tea
locally-bottled, organic vanilla extract
organic diced tomatoes
organic, fire-roasted, diced tomatoes
harvest whole wheat crackers (like Triscuits)
Seventh Generation dish soap

local, organic broccoli
organic celery
local, organic carrots
organic cucumber
organic bananas
organic avocado
organic brussels sprouts
organic green kale
organic spinach
local, organic white button mushrooms
local, organic yellow onions
organic green onions
organic green bell pepper
local, hydroponic lettuce
local, hydroponic tomatoes
local cranberries
organic navel oranges
local, organic apples
organic mini sweet peppers

local sour cream
5-grain tempeh
firm tofu
grapefruit juice
local, organic plain yogurt
organic flour tortillas


I am super-proud of this grocery shop! We came in WAY under budget, still managed to buy mostly organic, got everything on the list except maple syrup (I'll pick some up at the FM tomorrow, since it's much cheaper,) and saved a TON of money on sale items! Woo! Oh yeah, and we managed 46% local, even though our growing season is definitely over.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

cookie plan, as requested . . .

Lauren, this one's for you!

Here's my Christmas Cookie plan for this year:

sea salt caramels
Cream Cheese-Swirled Brownies (I'm going to add some peppermint extract to the cream cheese layer)
Fig and Cream Cheese Bars
my grandma's Christmas cookies with buttercream and sprinkles
Gingerbread Cutout Cookies
Chocolate Malted Cookies
Lemon-Rosemary Butter Cookies
Anise Tea Crescents
German Honey Cookies
Yummy Molasses Crackles

Yes . . . call me crazy . . . but I'm having an impossible time narrowing down the list, so I'll probably make all ELEVEN different things! (If anything gets the axe, it will be the brownies and/or the chocolate malted cookies. Weird that I'd cut both chocolate recipes I chose!)

Monday, November 23, 2009

I did yoga tonight!

It was much needed. :)

I probably won't be posting again until after the holiday, so happy Turkey-Free Day to all!

Friday, November 20, 2009

meals from the week and a mini-shop

Many of you out there can probably relate to the beginning of this post -- I've learned over the past six months or so that it takes a LONG time to adjust to living with a partner. Don't get me wrong -- I wouldn't go back to living alone if you paid me -- it's just that we're still working out the "kinks." For example, how in the HECK are we supposed to get all of the laundry, cleaning, dishes, whatnot done, and still have time left to hang out together, (AND see family and friends,) with my long work days and Dan's busy schedule??? We thought a little more about this issue this week, and have sorted out a couple of potential solutions, including doing the grocery shopping during the week, Dan being responsible for a little more of the housework right away when he gets home from work, (since he gets home so much earlier than I,) and both of us focusing on staying on top of the "clutter" in our teensie-tiny apartment. We are also seriously considering shopping every other week, and last weekend was kind of a trial effort. Here are meals from week one of this experiment:

A simple casserole to throw together the night before and pop in the oven after work:

VT's recipe for Asparagus Mushroom Bread Pudding pleased both the lighter eater (me) and the pig-out guy (Dan) in one pan! Even though I don't care much for eggs, I loved the light texture and load of veggies in this one, and Dan loved the filling bread and layer of goat cheese on top! Side salads rounded out our meal, and it also made fine leftovers for lunches the next day!

I've been working the Crock Pot more than ever these days, and managed to forget to snap a picture of a sweet potato stew I loaded in there on Tuesday night for Wednesday's dinner. (The busiest night of my week -- fifteen minute turnaround between getting home from work and having to leave for choir practice!)

The butterscotch pudding was such a hit, I made a batch of vanilla-chai pudding later in the week:


Thai Soup with tofu and lemongrass is a frequent request of Dan's:

Even though this recipe has a couple of major steps to it, (including straining the broth before adding the mushrooms and tofu,) it's pretty quick to the table -- only about an hour!

I used a lump of Artisan Bread dough and some leftover fresh basil as excuses to make pizza:

Mmmmm Margherita!

AND, since we polished off such a huge grocery shop last weekend, our list was so short this week I was able to sneak off to Mississippi Market during my break and fill in the gaps for this week:

(Pardon all of the lettuce -- we're bringing a green salad to Thanksgiving!) I picked up red and gold beets, organic baby mixed greens, local hydroponic lettuce, parchment paper, parmesan, goat cheese, fresh mozzarella, pecans, non-GMO cornstarch, whole-wheat pasta, and locally-roased, organic, fair-trade coffee! Even though I had to haul the groceries home on the bus, it's nice to have that errand out of the way so we can enjoy our weekend a little more!


We're taking a beet and goat cheese salad to Thanksgiving. The great debate is . . .

Walnuts vs. Pecans.

Please offer your opinion!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"I always have time for garlic".

To explain the title of this post . . .

Dan has a habit of asking if I need help with anything in the kitchen, listening to a job/assignment I offer, then stating, "I just have to _______ first." (Insert whatever you think appropriate in that blank -- finish this newspaper article, go to the bathroom, check email, etc!) By the time he's ready to help, I'm usually past the stage where I'd need that job done, so I do it myself.

You'd think I'd find this behavior frustrating; I just think it's hilarious!

So, this afternoon, as I was busy making pizza for our lunch, I exclaimed that I had forgotten to slice up a few garlic cloves to top our pizza; Dan immediately hopped up from the computer, grabbed a cutting board and knife, and went to work.

Needless to say, I was surprised, especially since Dan HATES peeling garlic. When I described my surprise, Dan's response?

"I always have time for garlic."

You'd think he was of Italian ancestry or something.

Anyhow, here's that glorious pizza:

AND, the baked mac and cheese with broccoli I made for dinner:

I promise you we each consumed two side salads over the course of the day, too! One cannot survive on cheese and carbs alone. :)


Not much to look at, but this was some fantastic homemade butterscotch pudding! Yum, yum, sweet and caramelly goodness!

I'm thrilled to report that today I also prepped a bunch of greens for consumption later this week, washed and spun a bunch of lettuce for salads, whipped through a batch of granola, baked a pan of oatmeal-raspberry bars, and made our ENTIRE dinner for tomorrow night, save baking it off and making a salad. Woo! I love being prepared for the week!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

boiling whole grains

To answer your question, Crystal, some whole grains stand up really well to boiling, just like pasta! I mostly do brown rice, but I think this would work well for oat groats, wheat berries, rye, any other sturdy, usually long-cooking grain. How to do it?

1. Bring a pot of water with a pinch of salt to a boil. (Covering the pot obviously makes the water boil faster.)

2. Add whole grains. Return to a boil. Stir. Lower the heat a little so the grains don't boil over, but keep at a near-rolling boil, until the grains are done. I don't usually cover the pot at this point, 'cause I don't cover pasta either. Brown rice takes 20 to 25 minutes, depending on how fresh it is.

3. Drain grains in a colander and serve!

And don't worry, I didn't come up with this on my own -- Mark Bittman rocks.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

fast food . . .

. . . FOOD SNOB style!

Fast food #1:

Tortilla, cheese, leftover beans and rice, fold up, bake until crispy, voila! Nearly instant burritos. And we all know it takes less than five minutes to make a salad. :) Feel free to top your burrito with extra salsa -- I just happened to have purchased "extra hot" salsa at the FM last weekend, so the beans and rice were plenty spicy for me without anything extra. (The man who sold me my salsa said, "You like spicy? You will like this -- it will take you to Mexico!" Awesome -- I need a vacation anyway!)

P.S. Aren't you proud of Dan for picking up whole-wheat tortillas?

Fast food #2:

I can have curry on the table in the time it makes to make a pot of brown rice. (And mind you, I boil my whole grains, so brown rice takes at most 25 minutes.) Fry up the pressed tofu in hot oil, pull it out so you have room to quickly cook the veggies and ginger, add coconut milk, curry paste, low-sodium soy sauce, and a little sriracha, (water, too, if needed,) and simmer until thick. Stir the tofu in at the end, and dinner's served! Yum.

We've been enjoying a lot of squash curry lately, since squash is plentiful, cheap, and local. What "unconventional" ways have you been enjoying squash this fall?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

unseasonably warm weather

We've been having unusually warm weather these past few days, (highs in the 60s!) and since Dan was trapped inside the recording studio all day yesterday, we decided to go for a hike this afternoon, even though it was kind of cloudy and threatening to rain. We drove north and west to Lake Maria State Park, which we visited last on my birthday in May! A few pretty shots from the afternoon:


I've been cooking like a crazy person as usual this weekend, but I have few photos to show for all of my efforts! I somehow managed to make pizza AND chocolate chip cookies, and forgot to take pictures of each! Disaster! Here's what I did manage to capture . . .

Lunch today:

ACH. Blogger is rotating pictures that I did not rotate! Anyhow, tilt your head to the side and feast your eyes on this feast! Tofu Mom's Lentil Loaf, (vegetarian version,) roasted fingerling potatoes, and steamed brussels sprouts doused in garlic butter. I was initially disappointed in the lentil loaf because it did not set up or hold together well for me, but after my first bite, I'm in LOVE. Amazing, amazing, amazing!!!!! I think if left unattended, I could have eaten the entire pan myself. Make this now!!!! Total veg comfort food -- not going to fool any die-hard meatloaf fan, but this is its own fantastically delicious, rich, tasty creation. YUM!

And, dinner tonight:

More fried rice! Yum again! Dan's brother came over for an impromptu get-together tonight, and this simple, delicious meal made everyone happy. Both guys went back for seconds! Alright!