Thanksgiving 2012

Hello friends! Hope you all had a fantastic holiday (if you were celebrating) and weekend!

It was a quick trip home for me! I feel like I was just talking about how excited I was to be going home. and now here I am again, writing from the airport. 

It was great to be able to spend time with my family, and I am already counting the days until I am back for the Christmas holidays. It’s also hard to leave this weather behind…

Anyway, I am happy to report that the foods I made for Thanksgiving seemed to be a huge success with my mostly meat-eating family!

Here’s what I made…

Garlic Mashed Potatoes (w/lentils! – no one guessed  it :-))

Vegan & GF Crockpot Stuffing

Cinnamon Cider Brussel Sprouts w/ Apples & Pears < big hit, even with the brussel haters!!

Cranberry-Orange-Chocolate Chip Cookies

I used this recipe as the base, and made it a bit more Thanksgiving-appropriate by adding the cranberry and orange ingredients based on this recipe

BTW the recipe used as the base is literally the BEST chocolate chip cookie recipe I’ve ever made, by far. Including those made with gluten. If you are GF, you absolutely MUST try them.

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake (I left off the topping) 

When I made this, I got a chance to play with the new toy my dad bought.. amazing.com

I have a few more exciting things to share from the trip, but I am about to board my flight so they will have to wait until I’m back in Boston!

Baking w/Coconut Flour & Black Bean Soup (Panera-style)

I’ve seen coconut flour popping up all over the blog world for a while now, but just recently got around to trying it out. I kind of thought it would be an obscure ingredient I’d never use, but I was wrong! 

Coconut flour is becoming increasingly popular for those following gluten-free, low-gylcemic, and most recently, paleo diets. It is also a good source of both protein and fiber. If you’re interested, you can read more info about coconut flour here.

Though it is a bit pricey, you really get a lot of bang for your buck. For most recipes, you only need a very small amount, as it is very absorbent. This also means that you need a lot of liquid – the dry: liquid ingredient ratio is NOT what you’d typically find in baking recipes.

FYI – I used this brand. I’ve read that various brands perform differently, but I haven’t experimented with any others yet so I can’t say if this is true. 

I’d been using coconut flour for a few weeks to make microwave protein muffins at night, but this past week I finally tried it out for a real recipe – mini cupcakes for my roommate’s birthday!

I used this recipe, using Earth Balance for the butter/oil and subbing honey for agave. 

Pre-frosting

For the frosting, I kind of winged it to taste. I started out thinking I’d make vanilla frosting, but it tasted too much like straight butter, so I added cocoa powder and some extra stevia to try to balance out the flavor. It was something like this (feel free to add more/less to taste as you go…it’s a very flexible recipe)

  • 6 tbsp Earth Balance
  • 2 tbsp agave
  • 1 + tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 packet stevia

Necessary b-day sprinkles

Overall, I really enjoyed using the coconut flour. It gave the cupcakes a really nice flavor, but it was NOT a strongly coconutty one, so don’t worry about that if you don’t like coconut! I’d love to experiment with using it for some type of snack/protein bars in the near future.

So, onto the black bean soup… I LOVE Panera’s Black Bean Soup. Like a lot. But I never go to Panera. Based on Panera’s ingredient list (found on their website), I figured it couldn’t be that hard to recreate, so I did some googling.

Ingredient List

Low-Fat Vegetarian Black BeanLow fat black bean soup (water, black beans [may contain soy], onions, celery, vegetable base [cooked vegetables {carrot, celery, onion}, tomato paste, corn oil, yeast extract, potato flour, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, natural flavoring], red peppers, modified food starch, salt, spices, lemon juice, garlic powder).

I found this recipe on several sites, and decided it was the winner.

The soup was definitely tasty and easy to make, but I think the celery was really overpowering and it didn’t taste exactly like Panera’s. I think maybe the stalks I used were extra large, so maybe I’ll try again with some smaller stalks.

Def best topped w/avocado (not shown)

I am actually in the airport right now getting ready to head to the native land (Texas!). Can’t. Wait. To be home!!

Be back soon with a Thanksgiving Menu post!

Hope you are all off from work by now and relaxing for the next few days!

Recipe Share – Tofu Marinara Casserole

Just popping into share a recipe!

This is one I’ve made before, but not posted about. I prefer trying new recipes over making ones I’ve already made, as I am constantly bookmarking new recipes.

Anyway, the fact that this is my third time making this is an indication that it’s definitely a good one!

The link to the original recipe can be found here, and I am reposting it with some notes and the modifications I made. Enjoy!!

Tofu Marinara Casserole

Makes 5-6 servings, which I love because leftovers are my fave :-)

Ingredients

  • 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed for at least 2 hours
  • 2 tsp freeze dried basil
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves fresh garlic, grated
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can pizza sauce (can sub tomato sauce) – I used tomato sauce this time around, but in my opinion it is WAY BETTER w/ pizza sauce, so use that if possible!
  • 2 cups of steamed spaghetti squash
  • 4 oz whole wheat pasta of any kind, I used TJ’s Brown Rice Fusili 
  • as much parmesan cheese as you want I used Nutritional Yeast
  • salt & pepper

Directions

***I pre-cooked my spaghetti squash and pasta, but feel free to do those steps at any point if you are good at multi-tasking (I’m not)

1.Heat oven to 375. In a bowl, shred tofu into crumbles using a fork or grater, then add the basil (in my pictures you will see I tried to use a food processor…don’t do that, it gets too creamy)

2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet (medium heat). When hot, add onion and garlic.

3. After onion and garlic are soft (5-10 min), add the tofu to the skillet

4. Add tomatoes and pizza sauce to skillet, season with S&P

5. In a bowl, combine skillet mixture, spaghetti squash, pasta, and nutritional yeast.

6. Dump this into an 8×8 pan and bake for about 20 minutes 

Surprise, Surprise!

I’m BACK!

While I’ve missed writing, I feel like I just haven’t had the time these past few months. I do really enjoy writing though, so I’ve decided to reprioritize to make it a more frequent activity in my life.

Since it’s been so long, I’ve updated all of my pages (About, My Story, Recipes, and Running/Races)

Before I fell of the face of the blog world, I was getting ready to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Providence Half Marathon. I was feeling very apprehensive about this race because I was coming off a knee injury (patellar tendonitis) and hadn’t done much distance since taking a break after my marathon in June.

However, I am happy to report that the race went REALLY well! I finished in 1:55:05 and felt pretty decent the whole time. I am convinced that the credit for this goes to 2 things.

  1. These shoes. SO glad I switched.
  2. I have really changed my running form these last few months by focusing on running on my toes. Hugely helpful indeed!

Continuing on the running front, I also ran the Bay State Half-Marathon in October and PR’ed! My final time was 1:48:49. I am really happy I decided to run this at the last minute. I had some friends who were running as well, which made it really fun. The course was super flat, and much appreciated by my legs.

I also ran my first 10k a few weeks ago with a friend. It was Halloween themed, and while many people were in costumes, we chose to keep it simple and rock the knee-high Halloween socks (aka we didn’t have costumes). I have no idea how people were running in some of the costumes that they were… one guy was in a suit with a horse attached to it?!

Anyway, the 10k might become a new favorite distance for me. My final time was 49:46 and I’d love to start doing some speed work to see how fast I could get. I do still have strong feelings for the half marathon as a distance, though.

My running page  has been updated with a few future races I have on my mind…but I am still in the thought process regarding next year’s schedule!

In other life news…

In September, I started working at a different school. This year I am at a middle school working as a behavior therapist for a program for children with Asperger’s. Basically, I go to the students’ academic classes with them, help them with organization and stressful situations, and teach social skills in 1:1/small group settings. I’m enjoying it a lot so far. The group of people I work with is AWESOME, the program is one of the best in the area, aaaand I can’t say enough good things about the school in general – I wish I had gone to a middle school like it! I will reflect/elaborate more about this on a future post…

I also started an internship at Children’s Hospital Boston. It’s at the Lab of Cognitive Neuroscience and I am LOVING it. It’s very part time (5hrs/week) but it’s great experience and it’s definitely a good way to get my foot in the door. I am getting to do a lot of data analysis/review on my own, and observing some studies when I can.

Even though these two things are going great, I’m feeling pretty stuck about my career plan in general. I am so more than ready to be back in school, but I’m still having a tough time figuring out exactly what I want to do with my life. I am loving the research aspect of my internship, but I also really enjoy working with children in a more direct way. I also have some interest in the field of nutrition, but I literally know nothing about that field as far as careers go. I feel like everything sounds so interesting. Clinical psychology, school psychology, nutrition etc., etc….what to do?!?

Another aspect that’s really tearing me apart is whether or not I want to stay in the Boston area for school or go back to Texas. I have so many pros/cons for both locations. So basically, I haven’t narrowed it down at all and I’m mega-stressing about it. I did get a GRE book, as I would like to take the test in the next few months, so I guess that’s a small step in the right direction.

Ok, well I think this post has been more than sufficient for catching up, so I think I am done for now….be back soon :-)

Sorghum Flour Birthday Cake!

Hi friends!

Hope you are having a nice weekend!

I am currently blogging from my grandparents house, because my family is in town. They arrived in Boston late last night and are renting a lake house in NH for a week starting tomorrow, but came to good ole’ Dartmouth for today/tonight. My aunt and other cousin also drove over for the day, so we had a nice little family reunion.

Dad & Tracy

This was an especially exciting trip because my step-sister and her cousin came and, neither of them had ever been to New England or on a plane before! I am so excited for them to see this area of the country – I know they’re going to love it ;-)

It was actually two of my cousin’s birthdays this weekend, so I capitalized the opportunity to bake them a cake. I had quite a few things going on for this cake: one cousin requested vanilla with chocolate icing. The other has an egg allergy. I wanted it to be gluten free. Thanks to some quick googling I found a cake recipe that suited all needs!

Fresh out of the oven

Frosted

I used this really easy recipe for the frosting.VERY chocolatey :-)

Decorated

Candled

Singing

And cut! Mmm!

The cake turned out pretty well! It was a little gummy, but I’m thinking it may be because I couldn’t work quickly enough because I was making two batches of the recipe at the same time to be able to make it a 2-layer cake (I read in the comments that doubling the recipe would have messed up the proportions for it being gluten-free).

This recipe called for sorghum flour, which I have never used before. Tracy (step-mom) and I were both curious of what it actually is, which lead to some more googling later tonight. Apparently, it is a grain that is primarily grown in Africa and India, and now also the U.S., as it has become an increasingly appealing alternative grain.

Running Stuff 

Interesting stuff. Tomorrow, I am attempting a 9-mile run. Last weekend I ran 7, and although it was slow, I recovered okay and feel pretty good about trying for 9. This is a good thing because my race is only 3 weeks away!!! Where is the summer going!?!

I’m off to bed…fingers crossed the rain we’re having clears up by the morning…I’m looking forward to a run near the water! :-)

Beach Lovin’ & 5 mile success

Hello all!

Sorry it has been a rather long time since I last checked in. This is kind of going to be a random post, just FYI.

I have been busy with/ exhausted from camp, but am really happy that it is going great this summer. I LOVE my group and the other counselor I am working with, and things are just a lot less stressful compared to last summer.

I have been to the beach the past 2 weekends in a row, which I am super happy about because as close as I am, beach opportunities just don’t happen that often!

Last weekend, I headed down to the Cape to visit some of my family. It was an excellent beach day!

Cousins!

Today, I went to Crane Beach (North Shore) with a friend. The water was COLD, but very refreshing because today was super hot!!

In other news, running has been going pretty well! For the past couple of weeks, I’ve run a few times (just 2-3 miles at a time). Although my pace is super slow, I’ve felt very little pain in my knee!

Today, I made it my goal to run 5 miles…I figure I do need to start doing a few longer runs if I’m going to attempt my race in August. Well…….It was slow, it was hot, but it WAS 5 miles. Fingers crossed my knee feels a-ok tomorrow!

Also, recently made Mama Pea’s  Thai Crunch Veggie Burgers and they were delish! Highly recommend – great flavor and texture. I got the recipe from her cookbook, but I’ve seen it posted here.

Ingredients

Processed

Pre-flip

Done!

Goodnightttttt!

Things I’m Loving Lately #2…w/recipes!

Hi everyone! Hope you had a fantastic Fourth of July!

I had a pretty nice day, although I wasn’t feeling well the past few days and of course Wednesday was the day my voice was totally gone. Oh, well! I’m planning to make up for it with the fun things I have planned for this weekend. :-) 

I thought think we are long over-due for another Loving Lately post. Let’s get right into it!

1. Iced coffee. Both of the homemade and Starbucks variety

2. On the same note, Starbucks Gift Cards. I’m lucky to have quite a few at the moment thanks to some generous students (end of the year gifts)

3.  Riding my Bike

4.  Watermelon

5.  Homemade Quinoa Chocolate Chip Protein Bars. Made using this recipe (w/ chickpea flour and vegan rice protein). I stored some in the fridge and have been enjoying having them as a snack.

6. These Veggie Burgers. Again. 

7. New Salad Spinner! I bought a salad spinner at the recommendation of the girl who sold me a head of lettuce at the farmer’s market. Why did I not have one before?! Fresh, crisp lettuce for days without the hassel of washing it each time. Duh!

8. Big pans of Roasted Veggies. I love roasted vegetables and am loving making huge pans of them to use throughout the weeks in wraps or on salads.

Just olive oil, salt, pepper, (and maybe another spice or two) roasted at 375 until tender. Turn once after about 15 minutes. Enjoy!

9. And last but not least, Warm Hot Weather and Summer CampMy camp started on Monday and so far I am loving my new group of kiddos and co-workers. Good times!

Plans for this weekend include relaxing the rest of the evening, Farmer’s Market trip, Magic Mike matinee, and Country Night tomorrow, and a Cape visit Sunday!

Have a great one, friends!