Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Socksnatchers... you don't say!

I've been on a roll! Since Sunday night I've been making super nutritious dinners. After a weekend of eating birthday cake and PB cups I needed some hardcore nutrition. I've been really mindful in my sugar intake and feel amazing! It's astounding how sugar reacts in my body and how good nutritious whole foods feel. The sweetness of a fresh grapefruit is just perfect!

Sunday I made some beanie tacos, Monday I tossed together a crazy delicious and spicy stir fry and last night made up this vegetable mash. It's loosely based off of Chris and Carolyn Caldicott's book, World Food Cafe. I was at the library on Sunday afternoon and brought back a ton of cookbooks and one of my favorite children's book, The Socksnachers by Lorna Balian. I loved her picture books as a kid and she's from Wisconsin! Anyway, why on earth did a check out a children's book when Baker can't read... Well, in our house, we have a sock problem. Mates go missing and there is a growing pile of mismatched socks. What causes this? I don't know. Growing up, we always had a mismatched basket of socks. I figured this was the norm, but Baker's Daddy doesn't think so. I know other homes have this problem, too! When we were doing laundry on Sunday, I told him the Socksnatchers took our socks. He of course, had no idea what I was talking about. This drove me to the Brown County library to pick up a copy of it. The cookbooks were just a cover. :) Even though he read it, He's not convinced there is a family of socksnatchers in the basement...

Back to the food! This dish is amazing. The hot sauce which takes seconds to whip up offers such heat and complements the sweetness of the cardamom and sweet potato so well. I am pretty much in love with this dish.

Vegetable Mash
1 sweet potato
1 can garbanzo beans
1 package of chopped frozen spinach- thawed
1 1/2 cup lima beans
1 onion - sliced
1 teaspoon cardamom
salt n' pep to taste

Boil sweet potatoes as you prep the other vegetables. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand, it's pretty versatile. Mix spinach, lima beans and 'bonzos together over medium heat until incorporated and warmed through. Remove from heat. Add a little oil to the pan to heat, add the onion and saute. While the onions are sauteing, mash the sweet potato adding the other vegetables with it. When the onion becomes translucent, add the rest of the vegetables and spices. Stir together and get ready to chow!

Peppa' sauce
3-4 garlic cloves
3 serrano chilies
4 tomatoes- deseeded and chopped
1 onion
1 red pepper
lemon to blend
dash of salt n' pep

Chop up everything and place into a blender or food processor. You'll love the spice of this! We had plenty of leftovers which will be nice to accompany other dishes this week.

Together, the sweetness of the cardamom and the spiciness of the peppers makes this a delicious treat. Healthy and so darn flavorful! I made up some quiona to serve with it as a dish. It can easily be eaten alone, it's so filling!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

For the love of Peanut Butter!

Like I need any more fat, but frickin' A, these were amazing!

I was looking to find a rice crispy PB bar with chocolate on top- Scotcheroos I think they're called? I did find a recipe for them, but stumbled on a much betta' looking recipe and hoooole-e-cow! I might not need a boyfriend anymore!

You'll be far from Clueless if you whip these up in the kitchen. They are Alicia Sliverstone's peanut butter cup recipe. If you haven't made these yet, do yourself a huge favor and make them! Savor them and maybe even share them-- You will not be disappointed. Check out the recipe here.

Chocolate and PB lovers of all walks of life will fall madly in love with you if you make these for them. They are amazing. :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Happy Birthday, Chubby!

Baker's Birthday came and went. I am so happy that he's 11, healthy and still full of personality. I see quite a few birthdays in his future! Not a day goes by where I don't think I'm the luckiest for having him. He's the best companion and not to mention the cutest mutt around!

For his party, I made up a carrot cake and a spicy pretzel mix for our guests to nibble on. We gave Baker a piece of cake which he housed in three bites- a true chow hound!

Happy Birthday, Chunk!

Pretty sure he hated that birthday hat...

Pretzels and almonds... Yummm

Spicy Pretzel Mix
1 cup raw almonds or any nut
2-3 cups pretzels
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil

Mix everything together in a bowl and spread onto some parchment paper. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, stirring every 10. It will be a hit!

The cake went too delicious and went fast to take a picture of it finished and individually sliced! It was that good!

Carrot cake sliced in half, ready to be frosted!
Batch of cream cheese frosting- delicious and very unhealthy!

Prepping the cream cheese frosting
Frosting in process!
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Getting it right.

It feels like I've been playing around trying to find the perfect granola bar recipe for years. However, this week I had a breakthrough. I made delicious bars that turn out pretty well! As good as they were, I think they need a bit of tweaking, they were a lil' too soft and gooey. I'll be modifying the recipe in the upcoming weeks to get it right to post it!

Barley malt syrup bound everything together and made it a bit sticky. I'm thinking about adding less next time, another grain or maybe even some flour. If anyone has a spectacular, to die for recipe, let me know! Or if you have any other tips on how to make granola bars stick, with out being too hard or soft without being too gooey.

On another geeky note, we're having a birthday party for Bakie's today! He'll be 11! Whaaat a sweetie. :)

Isn't he handsome?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I take my spinach blended

Since I had my Monday bug, I've been trying to be more healthy. Most people I tell that to say, 'you're already healthy, you just eat vegetables'. Yes, this is true, but anyone can always do better. I'm not talking crazy amounts of change, just little things that I think will help my health in the long run. All week, I stayed away from any refined sugar, alcohol and anything that came in a package. So far, I feel amazing and it was such a little adjustment.

I know my personality and know that I won't be able to completely avoid these things, I just need to listen to my body. One glass of wine is better than the bottle, sometimes... Whatever, I'm feeling better, getting more exercise and feeeeeelin' fine! Healthy vegans unite!

Yesterday for lunch I was feeling too rushed and indecisive to make anything for lunch before heading to school. My body was craving nutritious and health things so I decided to toss what I had into a blender. Absolute deliciousness! I hardly ever make smoothies and outdid myself. They're more than easy to make, nutritious and so adaptable. Three things I love in a recipe! This smoothie fueled me all afternoon. I liked it so much I made it again for breakfast today!

Can you see spinach in that? Didn't think so, you were too busy looking at my Lambeau glass.

Baker's daddy took one look at me making this smoothie this morning and asked, "spinach? In a smoothie? Really?' Heck yeah! For those of you who already incorporate greens and other vegetables into fruit smoothies know how good it is. The spinach helps add iron, calcium and lutein and is pretty much undetectable in taste and texture. Do something good for you body that tastes great! I promise you won't be let down.

Blended Goodness
1 1/2 bananas
1/2 cup or more frozen blueberries
1 handful of spinach
splash of almond milk or water
a few ice cubes

Toss everything into the blender and blend. If you don't have any almond milk, water will do the trick, too. The almond milk just makes it a tad creamier.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bread making and the student

Success in making homemade bread, again! I don't want to jinx myself, so I won't get too high n' mighty. I know those of you who have had unsuccessful loafs of bread know the feeling; carefully mixing a yeast mixture, waiting with anticipation as your yeast rises only to find that no reaction what so ever has happened. Yeah, that was my familiar experience with bread, too.

I'm blaming some of my success on my new KitchenAid mixer. The dough hook is ammmaaazing! When I read through a bread recipe and it says 'knead for X amount of time', I just let the hook do the work! How easy is that?

Kneading dough in the KitchenAid

I followed a whole wheat recipe and added flax seeds to it. The loaf came out light, fluffy and quite nutritious. I was just so tickled to see my loaf rise and actually become bread! Eventually, I want to play around with gluten-free loafs.

Dough after kneading and resting

Dough punched down and ready to be rolled to place into the pan

Dough rolled and placed into the pan - my first attempt was a lil' sloppy...

Bread making is perfect for the student. Since there is an hour or so of rising time, it is a great opportunity to hit the books. When the timer goes off, work on the bread, toss it into the oven, get back to the books, etc. In the end, school work is underway and there is a beautiful loaf of bread waiting to feed a hungry brain! How smart is that?

Bread cooling out of the oven

So, if you're like me and need to take breaks when you study and enjoy baking- try to make a loaf! It will help keep your brain and belly in check when you are studying hard!

Bread sliced and ready to be snacked!

Monday, February 15, 2010

wasabi + the flu = nasal discomfort.

I pride myself in my health, it is rare that I get sick. Sure enough, I have some bug. I don't know if it was something I ate or what, but I can't keep anything down. It's not the achiness all over my body, or the uncertainty that I'm going to poop my pants or throw up before reaching the bathroom that bothers me. No, none of those things are causing disease into my day. What gets me the most is that I made a really spicy wasabi-teriyaki stir fry last night and now my nose is paying for it after I heaved most of it up. Wasabi and the flu do not go together.

After class this morning, I came home and crashed. I think Baker is diggin' me as a napping companion. As you all know, he is a semi-pro napper and one of the biggest joys in my life. I'm moving a little too slow and feel too weak to go mix ink for m print making class. I hate missing class, especially when I am sick. I think I'm doing the right thing. Last fall, I saw so many students come to class ill and it would drive me crazy. Sometimes it's hard for me to take my own advice and rest.

Rule #1 to a good nap:
Take up the wholeee couch. Learning from the best!

Nothing sounds good to me. Eating, drinking water, moving - tell it all to wait 'cause I'm not doing any of it! I am forcing myself to sip water, but kind of wish I had an IV to hook myself up to. Baker's Daddy told me he'd pick me up some popsicles on his way home from work. What a sweetie, eh?

I wish I had a new recipe to post or food to talk about rather than my fever and chills. Well, I'll leave you with a lil' recipe. A recipe to cure any ailment- compassion and a lil' love. Take care and enjoy your day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bean there and loved it!

I've been a lot of places. Mexico, Ireland, Italy, Montreal, scary basements at 3 am... Okay, my blog title today is a little more than lame.

Really, I've had the coolest experience baking with some lil' black beans. I am sooo in love! I followed Lindsay's recipe at Happy Herbivore for her Black Bean Brownies and wow-e these puppies are a dream! The limited ingredients make it healthy and so easy to make! It's basically just bananas, black beans, cinnamon and some maple syrup or agave with cocoa powder. They turned out so lovely. They are fudgy, sweet enough with out the added buzz and as far as brownies go, so friggin' healthy!

I brought them to the fabulous artist I am interning for this afternoon and she loved them, too. If you make these, you could definitely turn any omnivore or health nut on to them no problem. Goodness, I'd pair them up with some rice ice cream as a lil' brownie sundae... It might not make the brownie as healthy then, but still delicious! If you want to keep it healthy, pour yourself a cupa tea and sip as you nibble these glorious guys!

Enjoy your weekend and even though I'm not that into it, have an awesome Valentine's Day! Love is for everyone, not just couples! Spread your love thick and far. We all know we need more of it in the world, not just on Valentine's Day-- Every day! Smoooch!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thawin' all Yous out!

Whether you're stuck in snow on the east coast, freezing in the midwest or dodging the rain out west, this soup is for you! I call it an all-area code soup. The nutritional benefits will have you feeling fantastic and its spiciness will help warm up even the coldest bodies!

Besides the fact that it's freezing, snowing and dark out, this soup frickin' rocks. It's simple, spicy and so healthy.

Spicy Collard Vegetable Soup
2 carrots - chopped
3 celery stalks - chopped and diced
3/4 bunch collard greens - any kind will do
1 package baby 'bellas
1 can white beans
1 bunch whole wheat pasta- broken into smaller pieces - optional
2 scallions - thinly sliced
5-6 cups vegetable broth or water - I used a lil' of both
1 teaspoon oregano and thyme
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
3 whole red chili peppers crushed - about 1 1/2 teaspoon crushed will do, too.
salt n' pepper

Gently saute the celery and carrots. Add the beans and the 'bellas. When the 'bellas start to turn to a darker color, add the water, collards, broken pasta, scallions and seasonings. Let simmer until the pasta is cooked.

Serve with some crusty bread or rolls. If you're really down because your car is stuck in the snow or just really sick of winter, pour yourself a glass of wine. Remember-- it's only temporary!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Get up Granola!

We are under a winter storm warning... whatever that means. I guess that means were in for some snow. Well, whatever storm chasers, it's beautiful outside!

In the winter months, it can get very hard to drag my lil' butt outta bed. It's dark, cold and usually there is a cute boy next to me. Who would voluntarily pop out of bed in that situation? Since school started and I've started interning, I've been pooped. It doesn't help knowing I have loads of work to do! To help this scenario I found one thing to help me get up and get movin'. Granola! I'll get up and out of bed for a delicious breakfast anytime. This super healthy cereal is easy and lightning fast to toss together.

Get Up Granola

1 1/2 cup rolled oats

3 cups puffed millet

1 cup rolled rye flakes

1/2 cup wheat bran

1/2 cup raw sun flower seeds

1/2 to 3/4 cup dried fruit

1 tablespoon cinnimon

1teaspoon ginger

3/4 cup applesauce

1/4 cup flax seeds -- added after heated

While you mix the dry ingredients together, preheat the oven to 350. Add the applesauce until the mixture is moist. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes, checking to stir it every 10 minutes so it doesn't get stuck.

This lighter version of an ol' favorite will have your rollin' out of bed and get your lil' belly sining with delight at any hour in the morning!

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Super Bowl

Baker is probably more excited than anyone what football is now over. He puts up with grown men 'hootin' n' hollering' at the TV on Sunday and Monday for a good 5 months. The loud obnoxious clapping and cheering usually drives him to hide behind me. Especially when our team scores. It's boarder line pathetic. But we love him!

I like the cultural aspect of football. But besides that, I really have no interest in it. I love any excuse to get friends together to snack and chat. Who wouldn't?

For the game, I made a true Super Bowl of dip. I should have used a bigger pan to present it in, but I knew we'd be transporting it to a friends' house. I went with a deeper dish which I knew had a lid. But really, since it is so delicious, people won't care what you serve it in!

Super Bowl Dip
1 can refried beans
1/2 red onion - finely diced
1 tub toufutti cream cheese- the yellow tub
garlic, chili and cayenne
2 avocados
a dash of lime juice
black beans
1 good sized tomato
1 jalapeno pepper sliced thin
pepper to taste

I guarantee it's fast to toss together. Spread a layer of refried beans at the bottom of the pan. Chop and place the onion on top of the beans. In a microwaveable bowl, transfer the tofutti and warm until it is more pliable. Then, mix in as much garlic powder, chili powder and cayenne as you wish to the cream cheese. Place the cream cheese on top of the onions. Mash the avocados with some lime and spread over the cream cheese. Toss the remaining ingrdients over the avocados. Dust a lil' pepper and dried cilantro before serving.

This is fine served cold, or heated up. Do what you like! Serve with some beautiful tortilla chips and a cool beverage. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Stickin' it to the Man.

Oh, boy. Oh, boy. I've been fooled.

Natural Ovens claims to be a natural whole grain bakery. They are stationed out of Manitowoc in Wisconsin. I used to loveee their products and please let me emphasize, loved their products.

Last night, I was making up some black bean burgers. Earlier in the day I attempted to make some whole wheat buns. They kind of flopped and were more dense like a biscuit than a bun. I'm planning on making some chili to accompany them so we can still use 'em up. Anyway-- I needed some buns! I sent Baker's Daddy to the store to get some. He acted on behalf of me, saw Natural Ovens, knowing they are a respected local company and purchased some whole wheat buns. When he returned home, I checked over the ingredients and was appalled to find high fructose corn syrup in a product that claims to be "100% WHOLE WHEAT"! What the fuck, I do apologize for my language, but really?! I am just astounded. I still am!

I wrote them a letter and posted a note on their Facebook page which probably has since been deleted. But really? Most people don't know what they're buying. Most people don't care to even look. But with health so closely tied to what we put in our bodies, companies should never claim something they are not to sell a product.

This has only made me want to make more of my own food and rely less on companies that use false advertising to sell their crap.

Natural Ovens, we are so over.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

He's Famous!

Our local newspaper asked readers to submit pictures of their pets. Of course, I jumped on it right away! Baker is practically famous! Not really, but I'm sure proud of him! Check him out here! He's number 53. :) Peace.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Behold da Powa'!

Beans! These lil' legumes have more power than you know! Well, some of you might know and I'm not talking about their reputation of making people toot excessively. Let me help you understand why these babies are so great.

They are cheap! Lately, I've been buying a majority of my beans in bulk, soaking and cooking them. Doing this takes a little more time and planning, but it's so worth it. Some organic beans cost $1.45 - 2.00! Buy a big ol' bag of dried beans and you'll save more than you know!

Lentils, kidneys, fava beans, etc. all are loaded with protein, fiber, calcium and plenty of vitamins and minerals. They're great to satisfy a hungry belly for hours, I guarantee these lil' buggers stay with you longer than a bowl of oatmeal. They're delicious and quite nutritious!

Beans are so versatile, too. Use them in a salad, soup, mash them together to make a burger or use them just as a side. Whatever, try something new- Make spaghetti and bean balls!

I had leftovers from making enchiladas earlier this week and thought to put them all together in a black bean soup. I wouldn't necessarily categorize this a 'garbage soup', which has anything and everything from your refrigerator in it, but pretty it's close. You could make this with plenty of variations.

Leftover Black Bean soup
1 1/2 cup black beans
1 onion- chopped
1 tablespoon oil
1 can chopped or diced tomatoes
1 cup corn
1 jalapeno- chopped with it's seeds
Crushed red pepper to taste
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
salt n' pepper
a little juice from a lime

Saute the onion with the oil. I added a bit of garlic powder in this phase, too. When the onions are translucent, toss in the beans, tomatoes, pepper and all the spices. Simmer for a bit and before serving add the cilantro.

Garnish with fresh cilantro, avocado and a lime wedge. I was just so happy that I made another whole meal from the leftovers of another- and it was far from being sloppy seconds!

Monday, February 1, 2010


Winter is remarkable. It can be cold, beautiful and a bit dangerous. More than dangerous, especially for my waist line. It's easy to follow suit and stay inside, drink cocoa with peppermint schnapps and live a pretty sedentary life. I received a North Face coat filled with PrimaLoft and I'm no longer afraid of staying outside-- I'm so warm! I sweat when I go snowshoeing! Warm clothes make all the difference in the world. It's gotten better, but there are days when I wish I could take a dose of HiberNol with Chris Farley and call it quits 'till spring. If you get the winter blues, laugh a lil' and know you're not alone!

Now, to the food! Casseroles, stuffed pastas and traditional comfort foods are great to help the winter blahs. They're warm, full of nostalgia and calories. Growing up, I loved stuffed shells and any kind of pasta. When I was 9 and learned that some runners "carbo-load" before a race, I remember asking my mom if I could run in one. Oh, I was a silly, silly kid.

Since I am concerned with the nutritional value in pretty much everything I eat, I made sure to make this "oldie" a new and healthy favorite. We had some leftover frozen squash in the freezer from the fall that I wanted to make some kind of ravioli with. Stuffed shells are kind of like ravioli, but the shells seemed easier at the time. Manicotti could easily be used in place of the shells.

Acorn Squash Ricotta
1 lb firm tofu- pressed
1 1/2 acorn squash - that's just what we had, You could get away with just one or use two.
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 of a lemon- squeezed
1 teaspoon basil
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
dash of salt and pepper
a few dashes of nutmeg

In a large bowl, mash the squash together. Crumble to tofu into the bowl with the squash. Squeeze lemon over 'ricotta' mixture and add in the dry spices. While you are mixing the Acorn mixture, boil the water and cook the shells. When the shells are to that al dente point, strain and shock them with some cold water to prevent them from cooking more.

Then, stuff the shells! Place them into a pan that has a bit of marinara on the bottom of it to reduce any sticking. Cover with marinara and a little nutritional yeast and put them into a pre-heated oven at 370 for about 45-60 minutes.

I guarantee, people will think this is ricotta.