Overdue Christmas Post

So, it’s been a while!

To be honest, I didn’t really feel much like posting while I was home. And the past few days I’ve been back have been insanely busy. Oh well, better late than never, right?!

Christmas

christmastree12/25/12

I had a really enjoyable Christmas morning at home with my immediate family and my grandparents, who came to stay with us for a week. I was so happy they were able to come – they hadn’t been to our house for the holidays since I was little!

G-ma & I

G-ma & I

Stockings are totally my favorite part of the gift-opening festivities.¬†I was so excited to play Santa this year for everyone…with the help of a big Target shopping spree ūüėČ

Stuffed and left by the chimney with care

Stuffed and left by the chimney with care

Amazingly, we had a White Christmas in Texas! We typically get about one snow “storm” per year, but it was such a coincidence that it happened on December 25th this year. It was beautiful. The only downside was that I couldn’t go see my mom for a couple of days because the roads were too icy (Texans don’t know how to deal with that stuff!). However, in some ways it was really nice to be forced to truly¬†relax and do nothing.

Crazaaay

Crazaaay

Anyway, back to the day’s recap…after a relaxing Christmas morning, we got ready for our guests (mainly my step-mom’s family) and main meal. Here are the recipes I contributed to the day’s feast…I sort of forgot to take pictures before we dug in!

christmasmains12/25/12

Top: Basic Roasted Brussel Sprouts, left: Cranberry Orange Lentil Loaf, right: Sweet Potato Grits

Full spread

Full spread

I was shocked¬†almost all of the lentil loaf got eaten! Most of my step-mom’s family members are more traditional meat and potato eaters, but I guess it looked appetizing?! Everyone said it was good ūüôā

Personally, I really liked the grits! We ended up having a lot left over, so I ate them throughout the week with some eggs on top – delish.

For dessert, I made this Carrot Cake 

carrotcake12/25/12

I have no idea why, but it didn’t rise…like at all. It still tasted great, though! I used Tofutti Cream Cheese to make the frosting, but accidentally added a bit too much almond milk so it was bit too runny.

My step-sister and I also made a LOT of Christmas cookies. We have started a great tradition of staying up late and decorating them together on Christmas Eve ūüôā

x3 = a LOT of decorating

x3 = a LOT of decorating

I have used this recipe¬†(gluten free!) the past couple of years, they turned out a little crisper than I would have liked this time around, but I think that’s just a personal preference. No one could tell they were GF!

Finally, I went the homemade route for some of my gifts this year, and was very pleased with how they came out! I followed the directions here exactly, doubling the recipe to make a total of 8 jars.

homemadesoupjars12/25/12

Ok, well I think that’s enough recapping for now… New Years’ and half-marathon recaps coming soon!

Like a Scene from a Movie & Recent Recipes

Lately Saturdays have not been the greatest conditions for running! Last week snowing, this week raining. It’s a little annoying. But also kind of makes you feel like a bad ass, so there’s the upside.

I ran about 10 miles today, and stopped halfway to take a Gu. I was on the side of the sidewalk for a few minutes, and just about ready to start running again, when a car sped by and DRENCHED me. Like a scene from a movie.

I had been standing there for a while and it’s a busy road (along the Charles River) so I don’t know how it didn’t happen sooner. I was totally shocked and annoyed, and just as I was recollecting myself, it happened again! Needless to say, I then took off in a SPRINT. Definitely fastest mile of the run.

Unfortunately, I was literally the furthest away from my apartment as possible because I was just doing an out-and-back, so I had to go about 5 miles with drenched socks and gloves. I hopped in a steamy hot shower as soon as I got home and the numbness was gone within 10 minutes, but boy was I miserable for a bit there.

In other running news…I was planning to run this race¬†¬†on New Year’s Eve while I am at home (thus the reasons for the long runs – loosely training, haha). Anyway, I went to sign up a couple of weeks ago and it was full!! So bummed. I am on a wait list (#5), but I have no idea what the likelihood of me actually getting in is. Fingers crossed!

Moving on, I have some recipes to share with you!

First up: Almond Flour GF Chocolate Mint Cookies

These were delicious!! I followed the recipe exactly, with the exception of using coconut oil instead of butter.¬†¬†Next time would add some mint extract to the batter vs just the coating, as they were a little more coconutty than minty. Also, I must find an easier way to dip things in melted chocolate – it was so thick and hard to work with! Maybe next time I’ll add some oil to the chocolate?

Ingredient Set-Up

Ingredient Set-Up

almondflourthinmints12/1/12(2) almondflourthinmints12/1/12(3) almondflourthinmints12/1/12(4) almondflourthinmints12/1/12(5)

Next, an Italian Tomato Soup! I followed this recipe¬†but didn’t add the water because there was so much liquid already. ¬†It was VERY tomatoey, but I liked it. I added several extra shakes of Italian Seasoning at the end. The leftovers were better than the night of, I think because the flavors got to meld a little more.

This was my first time to cook with fennel! Because the first step is to saute it, I tried it on its own first. It was GROSS! Like black licorice!! However, I enjoyed its flavor in the soup once everything was together.

italianwhitebeansoupfennel11/29/12

Finally, Tempeh  Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans from Whole Foods. I really liked the sound of this recipe based on its ingredients, however I realized after I bought all the ingredients that its reviews were less than stellar.

I decided to stick with it, but made a few changes, which I’ve noted here. The directions are the same, just click the link above to view!

  • 1 cup long-grain brown rice ¬† 1/2 c. quinoa, cooked according to package directions
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (8 ounces) package tempeh
  • 1 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth¬† 1c. vegetable broth
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger¬† 1 tbsp ground ginger¬†
  • 1 tablespoon ground curry powder¬† added to taste, probably 2 tbsp?
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin¬†added to taste, probably 2 tbsp?
  • 1 (13.5 ounces) can light coconut milk
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, divided¬†¬†6 dorot cubes (~2tbsp) USE LESS if you don’t like cilantro – this was VERY strong
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt + A LOT more
  • 2 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)

tempehcurrywsweetpotatoandgreenbeans12/7/12

As with the soup, the leftovers were definitely better! Leftovers round 2 is calling my name now.

Enjoy, and have a great weekend! 

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! Рno 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 ūüôā

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¬†

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 ūüėČ

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 ūüôā

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! ūüôā

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!