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 🙂