Sunday, August 7, 2011

Inspiration!

Hello out there! I know it's been a hot minute since I've posted. 
Work, school, et cetera have been keeping me very busy lately! The usual suspects, right?
In case you were worried that I haven't been cooking up a storm lately- don't fret, I have!
I've made flourless peanut butter cookies: 
There are so many recipes for flourless cookies online. I looked at a few, and made my own recipe using crunchy Skippy PB, stevia baking blend, brown sugar, and an egg. 
More sweet tooth goodies- tie-dyed cupcakes!
To round it out with some savory meals...
I recently made burritos with beans, pico de gallo, Raine's homemade super spicy salsa, cheese, lettuce, and a secret ingredient- French Fries!
Several years ago I went to El Paso with friends for a Texas Tech v. UTEP football game. We ate at a local burrito place and they put french fries in their burritos and it was delicious! This hit the spot.
I also recently made some summery gazpacho, using an Alton Brown recipe from Food Network.
Served with some crusty bread, it was perfect for the hot weather. The only change I made to Alton's recipe was to cut the olive oil in half, as the commenters suggested, and to omit the Worcestershire.
I've also been working on transferring my blog to WordPress and self-hosting! It is kind of a mess right now, but I'm hoping a new site will be up within a few weeks.
Until then, I have a (self-imposed) thesis deadline to meet- so I may be absent for a little while longer before I'm back full force
I made an inspiration board to get me going!

What inspires you to work towards your goals and make positive changes in your life? 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

18 Miles to Carbicide

On Wednesday, Raine and I both had a full day of no errands to run, nowhere to be, and not much to do. This happens so rarely that we decided to take advantage of every minute of our day...Starting with a 5:30am wake-up time!
We got our bikes together along with a backpack prepared with water bottles and 2 peanut butter sandwiches that we ended up not needing.
Then we hit the Lincoln Prairie Grass Trail.
A conservation group converted an unused railroad line into a biking/running/equestrian trail that goes from Charleston, where we live, to Mattoon, which is the "sister city."
We found a gazebo.
This would be perfect for picnicking! We didn't get hungry though...
We later found ourselves parallel to the movie theater we usually go to. It's the large building in the center...yes, our theater is in the middle of nowhere surrounded by soybean farms.
Hi Raine!
We rode up to I-57, which is the road that goes to Champaign, our shopping and Indian food mecca.
Then we turned back!
We'd ridden 9 miles into the trail and by the time we got home, we had made it 18 miles. 
I'm no biking fanatic and every other bike ride I've done recently has probably been under 3 miles. I was so worried that I'd be super sore after the ride, but it turned out to be fine! 
I smelled a lot of interesting scents on the ride:
-Mint
-Eucalyptus?! (Vicks?)
-Grass
-Manure/Farm smell
-Horses
-Sweet flowers
-Dust
-Cars
When we got home, we decided that we could have gone even further had it not starting getting so hot outside. 
After an ice-cold shower, I was ravenous! 
I had 2 peanut butter sandwiches, 2 apples, and a pile of raw broccoli that needed to be eaten. 
Several episodes of the Kardashians later, we took a power nap and woke up feeling refreshed (and hungry again!)
I needed more carbs. They came in the form of biscuits, Morningstar "fakon", gravy, and light beer...
I absolutely love biscuits and gravy! 
After this meal that felt like a snack we decided to go swimming (after waiting the requisite 30 minutes after eating, of course).
Wrapped up in my favorite towel, feeling hungry again!
We were having such a fabulous day that we didn't want it to end. So, we got dressed and headed to our favorite Charleston restaurant, El Rancherito.
They have the most authentic Tex-Mex that you could find in rural Illinois...
We got drinks...one tequila,
Two Tequila....
Three Tequila,
CHIPS!
I think we devoured 2 baskets of chips and salsa that was so delicious I could have drank it.
I also got a cheesy enchilada,
and a pile of soft, fluffy, muy delicioso rice:
all devoured!
By the time we headed it home it was almost 9:30 and we were tuckered out. 
What a perfect day! I am still smiling thinking about it (:

When was the last time you spent the day doing fun stuff with someone you love?
and, Do you like biscuits and gravy?!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pizza Pops!

Hello all! Tragedy has struck my apartment. No internet for almost a week!
As much as I hate to admit this, I am too technologically challenged to install my camera software on the Mac I use at work. Thus posting has been delayed which is a shame because I have so many wonderful new recipes to share with you.
Luckily, I managed to get some pics taken on Raine's iPhone of my latest creation.
May I present to you:
Pizza Pops!
These would be so perfect for any potluck or get together where a simple mess-free appetizer is needed.
I based my recipe off this one: Pizza Skewers
Mine were not nearly as photogenic, but they sure were delicious!
I didn't even make my own crust so they were super easy to prepare. 
I used:
1 package of pre-made pizza  dough (the kind that is near the biscuits and cinnamon rolls in the refrigerator section of the store)
Mushroom marinara sauce
Parmesan/Romano blend of shredded cheese

To make these, I simply rolled out the dough to about 18 X 12 inches. Then, I spread the entire surface with a thin layer of sauce, and sprinkled with cheese. 
I would use more cheese than that...
Very carefully roll up the dough like a jelly-roll. Roll it from the long side so the finished roll will be 18 inches long. 

There may be some sauce spillage out of the sides. Don't worry about it. Carefully make slices that are about an inch thick.

 Then, set them cut side down on a greased baking pan.
Top with a bit more cheese, and sauce if they look dry. 
Bake as directed, stopping about 5 minutes before the recommending baking time to check on them. I ended up using the full time + 2 minutes.
This is what they look like in real life.
Stick a skewer in them!
Display them prettily on your balcony. Do not let them fall.

Devour.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some Google Reader to catch up on.

Do you like to eat food on a stick?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Food and Fashion

Hi friends! Thanks for the coffee suggestions- I am surprised that there are so many non-coffee drinkers out there...where do you get your energy?! I think I will try the Starbucks VIA suggestion as well as start looking for a French press. I have tried Folgers, Maxwell, and a few off-brands in the past and did not like them.
Every week I love reading WIAW, but I never have time to post during the middle of the week! So I decided to give you a glimpse of what I ate today...
I woke up craving broccoli.
I had about 4 cups of steamed broccoli with some leftover garlic mashed potatoes. Yes, for breakfast. This is probably why I don't blog my meals every day!
I went to my practicum afterwards and enjoyed a few pieces of chocolate and some coffee while there. I came home for lunch and whipped up some Peanut Butter Pumpkin curry!
This was a spur of the moment meal, and it came together really well!
I sauteed a quarter cup of minced white onion in one tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of curry powder. Once the onion was translucent, I added 1 cup vegetable broth, 1 cup pureed pumpkin, and one quarter cup crunchy peanut butter. Then I brought it to a boil and added 2 cups mixed vegetables. Add cumin, red chili powder, salt, and pepper to taste, and dig in!
The veggies I used were a frozen broccoli stir-fry mix that included broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, water chestnuts, corn, and bell pepper.
 It was delicious. Alongside a not-so-photogenic Morningstar Chik Patty...
Dinner consisted of oakleaf salad, with kohlrabi, carrots, and broccoli.
Tossed together in Newman's Own light honey mustard!
With a side of roasted plantains + black beans, and corn...smothered in verde salsa.
A satisfying day of food! 
This is what I wore to my Practicum today:

Top and headband: F21
Skinny jeans: Banana Republic
Heels: Nine West
Watch: Nordstrom kid's department!
I loved the sleeves on this top.

Finally, check out these macaroons!

I made them for the first time for a potluck I attended recently, and they were a hit!
Do you like coconut? I adore it- but I find it's a very polarizing food- people love it or hate it!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Caffeine Conundrum

^^Doesn't that title sound like it could be an episode of The Big Bang Theory?
A terrible thing happened in my apartment recently...I ran out of my favorite instant coffee. It is called Bru and  is made of instant coffee + roasted chicory. The taste is like no other coffee and apparently it's a rare find?! The one I had was purchased in Texas and it doesn't seem to be available where I live. They don't even have a website!
(attempted sad face)
I'm such a Bru fiend that I poured boiling water into the empty jar to get the last of the powdery coffee that was stuck to the inside walls of the glass. It's available for purchase online but it's way expensive with shipping & handling. 
So I need your help- what is your favorite instant coffee brand (if you have one)?! I cannot handle making coffee in my coffee maker because if I do, I will drink the entire pot of coffee and my right eye will start twitching. True story.

Luckily, the coffee at the student union is drinkable so I've been limping by on that for a few days. I had a cup this morning with what is turning into my weekly Wednesday croissant.
Of course, I got it at the farmer's market! 
I also got some (more!) kohlrabi, and a new-to-me lettuce called oakleaf. Speaking of the kohlrabi I got last week, I tried eating it 2 ways. 
First, I had it raw in a salad. It is the thin white strips you see below:
Also I used corn nuts as creative croutons- yum!
I also sliced the kohlrabi into thin rounds and made veggie chips with it and a sweet potato!
Some were a little "well done."
It was delicious both ways, and I think I will eat the ones I got today raw in salad again. It tasted like a very mild turnip. 

Side Note: have you seen these new Sally Hansen nail effects? I love them- so easy to use and such fun prints. Right now I have Kaleidoscope on my nails...

Help! I am desperate for instant coffee recommendations... Please let me know of any brands you prefer- Thank you!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Red White and Blue

Happy 4th of July!
My friends and I planned a BBQ at the park :)
I made a fruit salad:

and I also tried a new recipe from Healthy is Happy: Sugar free Coconut Truffles

I used Truvia as the directions called for erithrytol, but I had a really tough time working with it! As soon as I added it to the other ingredients, it crystallized and formed huge chunks of sugar.

They were super pretty, but tasted extremely chemical-y for some reason...I think I will try them out with regular sugar next time. They definitely have potential! So, I didn't end up bringing these to the party.
I dressed up in red, white, and blue for today's holiday :)

Pardon the mess in the background- I was working on a paper for my Career Counseling class before the BBQ!

How did you celebrate America's Birthday?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Farmer's Market Wednesday & Vegan Lasagna

This morning started with another glorious trip to the farmer's market.
I feel so GREEN an environmentally friendly when I buy locally grown organic goods. Coupled with the fact that Raine and I have been biking around a lot more recently, and driving less than 10 miles a day-and less on weekends- I think we're doing a good job to reduce our carbon footprint.
This is what I got today:

A white onion, 2 bell peppers, a plum, and kohlrabi - all for $3! I've never had kohlrabi before- the girl at the stand said she likes it raw but that most people use it in stir-fry.
I also got a mammoth zucchini...

Have you ever seen one so huge (TWSS)? It was organic and it was only $1! I can't wait to eat it up (TWSS?).
In the meantime, I'll use it for tricep exercises...

It was heavy!
I had to go to work right after we went to the farmer's market, but we found time to enjoy a croissant from the market and some coffee from a local shop before I left.

I had an iced Americano and Raine had an iced latte. I've said it before and I'll say it again- nothing compares to my beloved Starbucks! Yes, I'm one of those people...any other Starbucks lovers out there? Also this Americano was weak and cost almost twice as much as my Starbucks Americano. Humph.
That didn't stop me from gulping it down though ;)

I also wanted to share a new recipe with you:
Vegan Farmer's Market Lasagna
This was so simple! 
All I used was:
3/4 jar of Prego Mushroom Heart Smart Sauce
A ton of veggies: garlic, broccoli, zucchini, carrots, spinach
6 No-Boil Creamette lasagna noodles
Tofu Ricotta (recipe follows)
Nutritional Yeast

I sauteed all of the veggies (excluding the carrot) and set them aside first.
Then I made the Tofu Ricotta:
1 block of firm tofu, drained and mashed by hand
2-3 TBSP nutritional yeast
herbs de provence (to taste)
garlic powder (to taste)
salt (to taste)
juice of half of a juicy farmer's market lemon
lemon zest
I added some sauce to cover the bottom of the pan, then added noodles, more sauce, tofu ricotta, and veggies. Then repeat! (I only ended up using about 4/5 of the tofu ricotta)
I topped the last noodle layer with more sauce and a generous dusting of nutritional yeast, then baked it according to the package directions. 
Got too excited to photograph it before I cut a slice!
This was amazing! So satisfying and it tasted super fresh too. The veggies from the farmer's market totally taste better than grocery store veggies and I love it. 
In the morning I used the leftover tofu ricotta to make scrambled tofu.
I enjoyed it with a whole thinly sliced bell pepper and a Boca chik'n patty. Then covered it with hot sauce!
Dare I say this was a balanced meal?
How funny...I don't usually track every single thing I eat, but I happened to track this breakfast and thought the breakdown was great!

Have you ever tried kohlrabi? What is the most exotic vegetable (or fruit) that you've eaten? 
and,
Starbucks: Yay or Nay?