Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holiday Planning Yumminess

Getting ready for the holidays....generating a list of things to make for our 3 holiday meals (not all three are the usual heavy Christmas meal though). We've also been busy in the kitchen! We love baking, but if we're in there too long, we get tired of standing and just plain pooped!

This is what we are planning:
  • spiced nuts - do any of you have a great recipe?
  • homemade yeasty cornbread sticks (not the typical cornbread; more like Pillsbury cornbread sticks)
  • homemade hummus with pita chips, Mary's Gone Crackers, and raw vegetables
  • broccoli wild rice stuffing (we've made this many times)
  • a vegetable side dish
  • White bean vegetable mix (white beans, green beans, red bell pepper, and other veggies) with pumpkin vinaigrette
Now onto this week's goodies:

We love Susan's Mexican Casserole, which we've made before, and decided to change it up a bit by using sweet potato puree instead of refried beans. It was a nice combination, with the sweetness and creaminess of sweet potatoes and the black beans and spices. Also nice, because it was not nearly as filling as the refried beans version.

Eat'nveg'n posted about making a lima bean casserole. We didn't have the exact recipe, so we tried to guess what would be in it and made our own delicious dish. We used 2 cans of butter beans; 1 can of lima beans; 1 can diced tomatoes; 1 1/2 cup quinoa, cooked; some onion, bell pepper, garlic, and mushrooms sauteed; lots of dried oregano and basil; and shredded carrots. It came out delicious! We really enjoyed it, because we could eat leftovers as a wrap or in pitas. We think that next time it will be even better with some tomato sauce poured over the top.
To accompany our bean quinoa casserole, we made oatmeal rolls. This was our first time to use wheat gluten, and it improved the texture and gluteniness of the rolls! They turned out very soft, with a hint of maple.

Our freezer is stock full of goodies, especially cookies and breads. We made two kinds of scones this week - one was a zucchini pineapple scone, which turned out more like a muffin in texture but still good. The other was our Graham scones with apple butter and currants! These were awesome! We like our scones dry, not like a soft biscuit, and the apple butter added a great flavor.

Another sweet treat we made was lemon tofu pudding pie, over graham cracker crust. It was very yummy, refreshing, and rich, but it turned out more runny than we thought. In the end, we just put them in small bowls and added sliced bananas, like a layered banana pudding or yogurt cup.

Start drooling now! haha....we made this fabulous pasta dish with creamy spinach asparagus sauce. It was very easy and flavorful. With garlic, onions, mushrooms, basil, oregano, and nutritional yeast, too!
Another great recipe from Susan - Carrot Hummus.

It was so simple and fresh, and much better than high-sodium, store-bought hummus. The cayenne pepper added a nice kick to the sweetness of the carrots. We used 1 tsp cashew butter instead of tahini, ginger powder instead of fresh, and no paprika. We will officially make homemade hummus from now on! This was actually good served with pineapple chunks on the side. And of course baby carrots and Mary's Gone Crackers.

Besides cooking/baking, we've been enjoying our time off from school. We forgot how wonderful pleasurable reading is, and now we are reading at any moment we can! We currently are finishing up Anne of Green Gables series (not entirely grown up books, but still beautifully written - one of our favorites!), and even borrowed the movie from the library.

We also went to Hobby Lobby and have some crafts planned. We found these fabric aprons and we are going to fabric paint them with a quote, such as "Veg Bakers", or "Meat Free Chef", etc. We've never stenciled paint onto fabric before, so it will be a lot of messy fun! We also got some fabric to re-fabricate our favorite slippers. I know you're probably laughing, but we've had these slippers since who knows when, and the Winnie the Pooh fabric and the foam cushion inside is torn and worn. We love them to death since they are not bulky slippers or too warm. We thought it would be fun (and cheaper) to pick out a new fabric pattern and repair them!

We won't post for a while, since we will be going home for the holidays on Saturday and won't be back till Thursday evening. We pray that your Christmas gatherings are filled with joy and peace, and lots of great veg-friendly food!
Celebrating Jesus' Birthday,

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Two Keen Sweet Chicks Ate Corn

Two Keen Sweet Chicks who ate corn?? What do you think this means?






Why, us two had Quinoa, Sweet Potatoes, Chickpeas, and Cornbread! (well here we have a pic of our two cats, but you get the point) :)

We tried the Green-wa Recipe from Yellow Rose Recipes. It was so unique, flavorful, and colorful. We used whole grain quinoa and pureed spinach, cilantro, and soy yogurt to make a creamy quinoa dish. Excellent! We served this with carrots of course!

At least one day of the week we seem to always have sweet potatoes. We made Lime Sweet Potatoes with cilantro and some jalapeño powder. A good Southwestern side served with Lime-Cilantro Black Beans.

Roasting Chickpeas was new to us, and we LOVED it - a great crunch and taste. Other reviewers mentioned that it was great as a snack while watching tv (an alternative to high calorie nuts during football game parties, for those who are football fanatics like our dad). Anyways, we used cayenne, chili powder, and garlic powder to spice up a can of chickpeas, and we roasted them for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. We served these with Roasted Cauliflower (which we roasted at the same temp for the same amount of time). Making the chickpeas tonight again!

And lastly, we adored the cornbread that we made - so flavorful, sweet, and soft! We used agave nectar in the cornbread, and loved drizzling agave nectar on our slice! We served this with Susan's Mexican Pumpkin Soup. The soup was good, just not our favorite. For leftovers we pureed the soup and it turned out much better. We used purple and gold fingerling potatoes, and the purple potatoes were starchy like a sweet potato. It would be good to make fries with them sometime!

This week we had our finals - very challenging and difficult, and we studied non-stop! Anyhow, we are relieved and excited for a month's break to bake and cook lots of goodies!

Here's an article on school without the stress - we wish we had yoga classes at our high school!

Have a good week - LK

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Advent Begins

Advent, which means "coming" has begun! During this Christmas season, we are filled with joy, hope, and anticipation. We should take the time out of our busy lives and reflect on all that God has blessed us with rather than get caught up in the hustle and bustle of shopping and planning for Christmas Day. We should dwell upon our lives and how we can be better prepared for the coming of Christ to save us and bring us eternal peace.
In some ways, advent is related to school (haha) since we are hoping for the end to come in sight...It's already the end of the semester; we are done with classes and just have finals next week. School has been long and challenging, and we still have next semester and summer school left! I don't know how we've gotten this far, and I don't think we could do it over is only with God's help, hope, and endurance that we can make it through the end of our college experience.

Now onto the food:
As the weather gets cooler finally and the spirit of Christmas is approaching, we keep generating creative ideas of desserts and meals to make. Hopefully during the break we can put a lot of those ideas into action! Not as exciting, here is what our meals for this week consisted of....

"Tuna" Mushroom Casserole - with celery, onion, garlic, mushrooms, peas, bell peppers, chickpeas, LOTS of nutritional yeast, and a little sage, thyme, and oregano. (Didn't use soy sauce, veg broth, or paprika, and substituted white vinegar for the lemon juice).
This was close to our old family recipe. We actually liked it without the bread crumb topping, and instead sprinkled some medium-ground cornmeal on top. Next time need to add more chickpeas, but overall it was awesome. The wheat spiral pasta gave a nice bite to the casserole.

Pumpkin Vinaigrette-Marinated tofu cutlets and broccoli - used up leftover pumpkin vinaigrette (from EatnVegan) that we made for Thanksgiving (posted in the last post). It was so tasty when heavily drizzled over the tofu and steamed broccoli. Yum!

Shredded Potato Pancakes - We were going for a simple German dinner, with warm applesauce and a slice of pumpernickle. The potatoes didn't wow us, though, as they were sort of raw tasting and hard work to prep. We added a lot of nutritional yeast, some thyme, and once in a while a drizzle of soy sauce to boost the flavor. Would just be easier to make roasted potatoes.

Tofu Scramble - with celery, bell pepper, onion, garlic, mushroom, tumeric, paprika, basil, and nutritional yeast. We served this with leftover potatoes and toasted sprouted English muffins.

Black-eyed pea cakes, modified from the black bean burger recipe posted here - This burger recipe is the best! It can be easily adapted for different beans and flavors, and it makes a large batch to freeze and keep on hand for quick lunches.

Bran Carrot Bars with currants, adapted from Easy Pleasin' Oat Bars that we posted about here. Actually made this on a spur-of-the-moment to take a break from studying. These are soft healthy bars with a nice cinnamon, carrot, sweet flavor. Used wheat bran instead of oats, and added shredded carrots, currants, and 1/4 c. carrot juice. The bran and carrot give a chewy, coconut-like texture. (Sorry for the blurry picture)

Pumpkin Cinnamon Orange Rolls, adapted from Don't Eat off the Sidewalk's recipe - used all spelt flour, more cinnamon, and an orange glaze instead of vanilla. These are fantastic! Soft with a nice crumb, and the pumpkin, although subtle in flavor, boosts up the nutrition value. Way better than store bought cinnamon rolls. Like every cinnamon roll, they take work and time and, therefore, are only made once in a while for special breakfasts. We made enough that we could freeze the rest to have on hand for easy snacking!

Whew....such a long post!
Wishing everyone a happy Advent season full of the joys of cooking and baking veg-friendly!
Peace, LK

Some Organic, Vegetarian Product Reviews

Product Reviews:

Whole Soy and Co. Soy Yogurt - recently discovered this at the store. Overall a good alternative to yogurt, which is what is currently restricting us from going vegan. They don't have too many flavor choices, but we've tried the blueberry, strawberry, and vanilla flavors and they are better than other soy yogurt brands we've tried. The vanilla so far is our least favorite, as it was kind of tangy, and the blueberry is our current top choice, which is surprising since we usually are prone to strawberry and not fond of blueberry flavored foods.

Blue Diamond Original Almond Milk - very light and nutty! It's interesting, because some cereals it tastes very good and nutty, while some cereals mask the flavor of the milk...otherwise it is so tasty and our favorite non-soy milk drink! (Although we haven't tried hemp milk yet because we can't find the brand that VeggieGirl raves about)

Amy's Tuscan Rice Soup - With brown rice, carrots, beans, celery, onions, and spinach, it was a tasty minestrone type soup, although slightly high in sodium. Good for a quick and easy meal, but would be awesome when we recreate it at home with fresh ingredients.

Kozlowski Apple Butter, no sugar added- we've tried their pumpkin butter before, and both the apple and pumpkin are so creamy, nicely spiced, and natural. We use the apple butter on English muffins, Tofurky sandwiches, rice cakes, and a lot of great snacks!

Weetabix Crispy Flakes by Barbara's Bakery - Barbara's is one of our favorite cereal brands, and this cereal is as great as the others. It is way better than Wheaties flakes, which are so thin and crumbly and get soggy fast. These are hearty, thick, and give a nice crunch.

Good Health Natural Foods, Inc. "Low Sodium Quilts crackers" - A healthy wheat cracker that isn't salty. Good with cheese alternatives or bean dip or hummus or avocado or salsa, etc! A nice choice when in the mood for healthy "triskets".

Lundberg Organic Brown Rice Cakes - these are a nice alternative to Quaker's sugar rice cakes, and they have the fiber, too! They are good as a sweet treat, for example, when spread with nut butter and apple butter. They would also be good with avocado or nutritional yeast for a savory twist.

Country Choice Oatmeal Squares- we definitely want to find out how to make these on our own! They are hearty, chewy, and good for breakfast, lunch, snacks, dessert, etc!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Gratitude Feast (and food this past week)

Happy Belated Thanksgiving Fellow Bloggers!
It was an enjoyable few days to visit home, cook and bake lots of goodies, and see family. (We are not looking foward to going back to school tomorrow:) )

On Thanksgiving we felt thankful for family and enjoyed the day despite a not-so-vegan/vegetarian feast. It was difficult to get a full plate of goodies that were filling enough, vegetarian, and healthy. We had lunch with our Dad's family and most of it was not vegetarian. We managed to scrape up some cranberry sauce, red cabbage cranberry orange slaw (that we made), mashed potatoes, and a roll. We weren't thrilled, however, with the potatoes and the roll, because we assumed the potatoes had milk and butter, which we are trying to avoid, and the roll was entirely made from white flour (not whole wheat that we prefer). Never-the-less, we maintained a positive attitude and tried to make the most of the few hours we had with the family. For dinner, we had another feast with our Mom's family, and we were much more pleased with the food. We had sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, red cabbage slaw, and broccoli (and the cranberry sauce was the only item we didn't make ourselves). Anyhow, it's great to have these big get-togethers that you'll remember for years :)

Sweet Potato Puree with Rosemary and Onions
- We had tons of garnet yams
(15-20 small to medium sized) from the local natural foods store, which were the best tasting yams/sweet potatoes ever! Everyone loved these!
- We just sauteed some diced onion and added the onion and dried rosemary to the mashed sweet potatoes

Broccoli with Pumpkin Vinaigrette
- followed
EatN'Vegan's recipe but reduced the oil to 1-2 Tb and added some water.
- Everyone loved this - thanks aTxVegn!

Cashew Butter Puffs
- added cashew butter, honey, vanilla, and puffed wheat
- easy no-bake treat, but was slightly too sweet, so next time we'll reduce the sugar.

Soynog Almond Cookies
- followed a chocolate chip cookie recipe, didn't add the chocolate chips, and instead added some Silk Soynog and chopped almonds.
- turned out like a soft cake-like almond sugar cookie. The soynog flavor is subtle, and these are pretty good for a simple cookie, but it wasn't our favorite.

Maple Oatmeal Cookie Bites
(we mentioned these at the end of this blog)
- This time, we didn't use coconut, and we used canola oil and almond extract instead of margarine and vanilla extract.

1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour or spelt flour
1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
3 c. rolled oats or multigrain oats
1/2 c. shredded coconut
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. maple syrup
6 Tb or more water
5 Tb margarine melted, or canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp or more cinnamon
optional: walnuts, almonds, raisins, chocolate, nutmeg, or allspice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, oats, coconut, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, water, butter, and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture. Add any optional ingredients, then mix until well blended.

Drop spoonfuls of dough 1-2 inches apart on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Flatten each cookie slightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Makes 20-22 cookies.

This week we also enjoyed stir fry with veggies and pineapple sauce, pita pockets stuffed with herbed mushrooms with white wine, and bread and lentil soup ready in the bread machine and crockpot.
Stir Fry:

Wheat Oatmeal Bread and Lentil Soup

So, back to school tomorrow, but only 3 weeks left! We'll be busy studying, but hopefully we can post weekly. Hope you all have a great week!

"Gratitude is miraculously infectious. The more you think about it the grander it becomes. The more you recognize the things you are thankful for the more thankful you become for the things you have." - Barbara Shanahan

Many blessings,

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Vegetarian's Food Diary

This post will be our "food diary", posting pictures and short comments on them. We've been so busy the past few weeks, that this is our update post, and we have a lot to post about! So here goes...
  • Spanish 'Fiesta': Black beans, sauteed veggies, & homemade Spanish rice.
    • Added cumin, garlic, onion, and spicy-ness (cayenne or jalapeno powder).
    • This was so much more healthy and tasty than those cheap Mexican restaurants we used to go with our Dad when we were kids.
    • Used dried lima beans though, so technically it wasn't "fresh", but it was still good, creamy, and flavorful.
    • Didn't have celery or savory, but it would be good next time with celery, and maybe some spinach.
    • It could almost be turned into a bean was good dipping in thick slices of homemade bread.
    • Used Arrowhead Mills whole wheat bread mix, and made it in the bread machine, because we were just too short on time to make bread from scratch. We added some wheat bran for a bigger boost of fiber.
    • Made before, but this time bought Spectrum's Eggless Vegan Lite Canola Oil Mayonnaise (instead of Nasoya's Nayonnaise), and added more spicy mustard.
    • Mix in some mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions, top with nutritional yeast, and eat with cucumbers, and you have a great healthy sandwich!

  • The BEST Sweet Potatoes (actually garnet yams) with tofu apple granola topping (from Veg. Times Magazine Recipe)
    • So creamy, soft, and flavorful!
    • Nice combination with the topping - cinnamon, diced apples, granola, and maple syrup.
  • 'Fall Slaw': Red Cabbage Cranberry Orange Salad
    • We modified the Cooking Light recipe Red Cabbage Cranberry and Apple Slaw and decided to add refreshing orange instead.
    • Red cabbage with red wine vinegar, freshly squeezed orange juice, orange zest, a pinch of sugar, Eden Food's fruit juice-sweetened dried cranberries, and some chopped walnuts!
    • Wow! (Although not a pretty picture.) We are planning to bring this for Thanksgiving.
    • First time to try cooking with lentils, and they were good. This recipe tasted more like chili, with lots of spices, such as paprika, cumin, chili powder, garlic, with a pinch of cocoa powder. It's way better than regular tacos (greasy, meaty, and salty), but it needs some work.
    • We REALLY liked it with lime. When heavily squeezed with lime juice, sprinkled with nutritional yeast, layered with avocado and tomatoes, and topped with Natalie's spicy Edamame Vegetable salsa, it tasted great!
    • Served with homemade corn tortillas baked in the oven. Made both chips and 'attempted' taco shells.

  • Other foods to mention:
    • Mrs. Dash Original Blend Seasoning! We've been putting it on everything - from raw cucumbers to peas to soup to sandwiches. Different flavors from the different herbs/spices come out in different foods. For example, with peas, the seasoning has more of a lemon taste. With soup, the garlic and herbs came out more.
    • Fantastic Foods black bean mix. We turned it into soup and added balsamic vinegar and spices to enhance it. What made it taste less like a mix was adding freshly steamed zucchini and red bell pepper.

Anyways, we're getting ready for Thanksgiving and going down to Houston to visit family. Two Thanksgivings actually (one our Dad's side of the family, the other our mom's). Hopefully with two Thanksgivings we can find some vegetarian food to nibble.

It helps though, that we are making some food - like the cabbage slaw mentioned above, as well as a sweet potato dish (haven't decided yet) and broccoli with pumpkin vinaigrette (posted by EatN'Vegan). Oh, and can't forget about those cookies! We are going to experiment with Eggnog Almond Snickerdoodle Cookies and Cashew Butter Puffed Wheat Squares.

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope it's a compassionate one with lots of veg-friendly food! Giving thanks for all of the vegetarians and vegans out in the world!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

On Overload

So this week we are suffering from brain overload! If you are in school, a word of advice - try to avoid biochemistry! We have an exam next Monday, and it seems like it covers a whole semester of information - 5 thick chapters of information! Not to bore you, but it covers graphs, calculations, molecular structures, and memorizing other stuff...Yuck! Those of you who have a college degree, how did you ever get through all of the stress? We are surly ready to graduate, but have to endure school through summer 08! It is especially unappealing to have to be in school here in Texas for that long, because it is STILL so HOT. (was about 85 today) :(

The only good thing to look forward to - Aggie Ring Day on Friday and Thanksgiving next week! Aggie Ring Day is a special occasion for seniors at Texas A&M University in which they receive their college ring. It is a symbol of prestige (that we are "seniors" or "graduates") and of pride for our school. Gig'em Aggies!

Anyways, with all of the upcoming stuff we have going on, this post will be a short post. We will be back, though, after the exam, and write a normal post next Tuesday.

What's one of your favorite winter seasonal foods you look forward to? We love anything orange, so sweet potatoes and pumpkin are great! But, we also look forward to egg nog and cranberries and Holiday baked goods! We bought Silk Egg Nog this week and it is even better than regular egg nog!

We also bought Odwalla Soy Protein Pumpkin Seasonal Flavor Drink. It is also very good! Like creamy pumpkin pie thinned out into a soy milk drink. We also used it in a pumpkin banana smoothie. Pumpkin makes things rich and decadent.

Also, we recently got introduced to pomegranates, as we have never tried them before. They are SOO good. The only bad thing is that they STAIN and the inside looks like honeycomb layers. Once we got the hang of getting out the seeds, they taste great - juicy juice and chewy seeds. We splurged and had So Delicious Pomegranate Chip soy ice cream for a snack today, and it was yummy.

Do any of you know how else to use pomegranates besides just eating them as is?

Non-food related, isn't this the cutest thing? This is one of our parent's cats, Joey chilling out in the bathroom sink.
How do you all stay upbeat in times of stress and overload?

Wishing everyone peace of mind,

Monday, November 5, 2007

Simple Tasty Foods

Been busy this week as usual, but enjoyed meals that were simple but delicious.

Sorry for a late post - we've been studying for an exam, and then we went home on Saturday and went to a surprise birthday party for our step-dad, who's turning the big 50 on Wednesday. He had a great time celebrating with family and friends.
(Our mom and step-dad)

Glad to be back cooking in the kitchen after this weekend though (the Mexican restaurant wasn't that vegetarian/vegan friendly).

Last Monday, we tried Polenta, and served it with a mushroom gravy and sautéed zucchini. We prepared the polenta via the microwave and baked for 6-7 minutes in a 375 degree F oven. The polenta was crispy on the outside and creamy in the middle. The gravy made it more flavorful, and this meal reminded us of cornbread dressing but more crispy. Next time we may broil the polenta to make it more crispy and then try a tomato sauce. Overall, it's always great to try something new!

We LOVED the pizza that we made on Tuesday! It's been too long since we made homemade pizza and pizza crust. LOVED the soft wheat herb pizza crust that we made. We tried a recipe from King Arthur's Whole Grain Cookbook (we basically love all the recipes we've tried from that book!) and the crust came out the softest we've ever made. Usually it get crispy on the edges. Anyways, we made the pizza simple but loaded with flavor - sliced tomatoes and mushrooms, fresh basil, and diced bell peppers and onion (the bell pepper was fresh from our grandparents' garden). For the sauce we just added a can of tomato sauce, 2 cloves of garlic, and some black pepper.
Another fresh creation - Potato Salad. We followed this recipe from vegweb, using lots of celery, no pickles, and some tumeric and nutritional yeast. We used golden new potatoes and they were creamy, not too starchy. Had lots of leftovers, great for a quick lunch!

Two weeks ago we made spinach mushroom-tofu fillo pockets; with the leftover filling, we used over angel hair pasta - yummy but very filling.

Today we made another simple but quick meal - something that even students living in a dorm could do. We microwaved green beans with red bell pepper, heated up butter beans in the microwave, and then mixed the beans with the green beans and had a tasty Bean-and-Bean dinner. We sprinkled some garlic, sage, and oregano too.

Speaking of beans, last Saturday, we made Black Bean Burgers and Carrot Fries (that we've mentioned before) for our mom and step-dad. They came up last weekend for the Texas A&M and Kansas football game. Too bad the Aggies didn't win. Our omni step-dad loved the burgers and even complimented that these were way better than the Morningstar Black Bean Burgers that he likes.

For our weekly baked goods:

Banana Pancakes

Graham Scones with Pecans and Maple Frosting
(we made these for our Nutrition and Dietetic Association Bake Sale)

No Bake Oatmeal Cookies
(Cocoa and Raisin Spice)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
- We just made these and are enjoying them hot out of the oven! MMMM!
- Used Sunspire Tropical Source Dairy-Free Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (really good!)

Anyways, this week we also tried Blue Diamond Almond Milk and we loved it with cereal, especially with Barbara's Bakery Shredded Spoonfuls and Nature's Path Heritage Flakes. We also made a smoothie with almond milk, peach yogurt, frozen bananas, some flax meal, and almond butter. Yum!

When we visited home this weekend, we stopped by the new HEB market (similar to their Central Market). We LOVED all of the produce, especially all of the apples. This week we've gotten Jazz, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Fugi, Ambrosia, Sonya, Granny Smith, and Rome apples. We love our apples! We also tried an Asian Pear that was as big as a softball! For a week we were waiting for it to ripen, but it was still so firm; well, we found out that these pears don't soften, but rather are crispy and juicy, great on salads. We shared one huge pear and it was soo good! At HEB we also sampled their bread - here's a picture of one of us at the bakery area. This market was the busiest market we've every been too. It was a great grocery store, but too crowded to enjoy it to its finest.
So, we enjoyed baking and cooking this week and we are already planning for what to make for Thanksgiving. What are your favorite foods for the holidays?

"I think that one of the most effective ways to improve your life is simply to think in a more positive way."- Henrik Edberg, The Positivity Blog

(See here for a great post on becoming more positive!)

Kind regards,

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fall Weather

What can we say about this week? Well, it was BEAUTIFUL and RELAXING!

First of all, California came to us this week, as we finally have cool, clear blue skies, sunny, and DRY weather! We have enjoyed keeping our screen door open to feel the nice fresh air blow through the apartment.

It is making us, however, excited and antsy, just thinking about the possibility that we will be living in this weather hopefully everyday, once we graduate and move to the West coast! Our dream is to work for an organic food company in Northern California, Oregon, or Washington state.

Another great thing about this week was that our Dad came up on Sunday to celebrate his 47th birthday. It was so nice to see him and make lunch for him. We made him a vegetarian lunch and, even as a huge meat eater, he overstuffed himself! We have been slowly bringing our Dad to trying new things, such as Sushi and Vegetarian food.We made our Dad sauteed vegetables and bean burritoes with homemade wheat tortillas, which we posted about earlier and are really awesome! With all of the fixings-avocado, tomato, lettuce, salsa, and jalapeño powder (our dad is the king of spicy!), the burritoes came out very tasty and filling!

For our Dad's birthday dessert, we made Maple Lemon Cranberry-Date Bars on oat crust. All I can say, is WOW. This is one of our favorite recipes!

We modified it slightly by substituting half of the dates for some dried cranberries. The filling is so flavorful, with a lot of great flavor dimensions and textures. The zing of lemon, nuttiness of pecans and oats, sweetness and tartness of the dried fruit, and buttery flavor of the crust!

Part of his birthday gift was a creative "goody bag" of snacks - Honeycrisp apple, jalapeño powder, Organic Endangered Species Chocolate Bar with Peanut Butter, and the Date bars.

We also enjoyed this week Roasted Vegetables - Cauliflower, Delicata Squash, and Red Potatoes with garlic. The cauliflower and potatoes taste so nicely when roasted in the oven. The delicata squash was new for us to try. It was ok- similar to acorn. We like sweet potatoes and carrots better than winter squashes.

Here is a great lunch idea - Almond Butter Wrap with shredded carrots and currants. The carrots add a nice freshness with a slight sweetness, too. We will make this lunch often, because it is a way to incorporate one of our favorite vegetable-the carrot!

(Forgive us for those awful plates in the picture - they are from when we were very young, and we still have them! haha...)

Another meal we enjoyed was Mediterranean Chickpeas over whole wheat angel hair pasta. It was like jazzed up spaghetti because of a hint of lemon juice that made it very flavorful, yet it was so simple to make. We didn't follow the recipe exactly (it had a lot of onion and spinach, etc), but made a spaghetti sauce (with our usual squash, bell pepper, onion, garlic, and tomatoes) and tweaked it slightly. Next time we will try tofu or white beans instead of chickpeas.Today for lunch we just threw together hummus mix, some leftover green chiles, oregano, jalapeno powder, and cumin and made a great bean dip. It was quite good when dipped with raw broccoli flowerets, cucumber slices, baked blue corn chips, crackers, and diced tomatoes! Earlier in the week we used the green chiles by mixing it with soft tofu and enjoying it in a sandwich.

And, for dinner this evening we tried something today that we were very unfamiliar with - filo dough. We made Spinach Mushroom & Tofu Fillo Triangles, using "The Fillo Factory"'s Organic Whole Wheat Fillo Dough.

It was fun to make - place filling on a fillo sheet, roll up, and bake for about 10 minutes. Fillo is so thin and crumbly like thin cracker sheets. It was fun to eat, too- as we bite into the pastry, the sheet is so delicate that it breaks and gives this cool texture in your mouth. We enjoyed them by dribbling some balsamic vinaigrette over the pastry as we took each bite! Yum, spinach, mushrooms, tofu, onion, garlic, and herbs!

As you go out into the new week, remember to embrace your family and celebrate life! Also, celebrate the beautiful Fall season and every weather God blesses us with!

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather." - John Ruskin

Kind regards, LK