laurenlikestocook

Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

Ate Days a Week

In Beans, Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Challenge, Fruit, Healthy Lifestyle, Holiday, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Nuts, Oats, Party, Pasta, Pizza, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Saving Money, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on February 24, 2015 at 7:04 pm

When it comes to healthy eating, I find there is a fine line between two philosophies: 1)Variety is the spice of life and 2)Consistency is key.  How does one stay in balance without getting bored of the same 10 meal repertoire?  When it comes to diversification, I’m always looking for inspiration.  I often look at healthy eating blogs/sites, fitness magazines, and even get sucked into the articles on the latest celebrity eating crazes.  There are definitely common trends (who else is sick of seeing kale everywhere?), but there is also a lot of differing and conflicting information.  Some people eat the same exact breakfast and lunch every day because it helps them stay on track, while others will cave into candy if they have another egg white fritata.

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Could you eat THIS every day?

Where do my habits fall on this spectrum?  It’s kind of hard to say.  There have been weeks where I definitely fall into the same lunch rut, and others where I order take out every night.  It really depends on what else is going on that hour/meal/day/week/etc.  In an effort to better answer this question, I decided a couple of weeks ago to keep a log of my food/water/alcohol intake every day for 7 days.  This practice helped me to reflect more accurately on my habits and identify trends, which is something I hadn’t done in several years.  Back in my days of working with a personal trainer, I had been required to turn in a nutrition log at the beginning of each session, which gave me so much anxiety.  If I was honest about every morsel, I’d get ripped apart for having even one cookie, even if the other 98% of my intake was perfect.   I would end up omitting anything that I knew was “inconstant” and veering away from my “goals”, just to avoid the wrath of someone who subsisted on protein shakes, whey, and hardly any fresh fruits or vegetables.

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Homework…

It’s been a long time since I’ve followed any sort of “diet” or meal plan, so this time I took a different approach to the journaling process.  I didn’t focus exclusively on calories, macronutrients, or obsessively counting and measuring.  While I did note approximate amounts (I have a very good sense of portions and volumes, so that’s how I was able to quantify all the ingredients), I didn’t use any measuring devices (scale/cup/calculator), except when required by a recipe (baking).    I just wanted to get a sense of 1)the main components of my meals, 2)some idea of ratio (is the meal 1/2 veggies, 1/4 each protein/carb), 3)how often/frequently I eat, 4)what kind and how often I was having alcohol and “treats”, and how 5)much water I was consuming.  For water, I used the same size glass throughout the day (usually a 17 oz size, which I’d note as 2 cups), and I didn’t include cooking water.  I also noted times I ate/drank to understand the frequency better.

Here’s a high level overview, which I’ll follow with more details and pics.  This particular week had a busy weekend (Valentine’s Day, birthday parties, 2 big family dinners), so it’s an example of more splurging than usual.

  • Breakfast is the most consistent, usually some combination of protein (eggs or yogurt) with whole grain (oats) and lots of veggies
  • Lunch is usually leftovers or a simple salad
  • Dinner is the most varied, usually freshly cooked, and has carb heavy options for the other members of my family
  • I’ll have 1-3 in between meal snacks or bites
  • I drink a minimum 12 cups of water a day, but usually 16+ (especially on days I exercise).  This equates to about a cup/hour.
  • 1-2 glasses of wine 4 times a week; 1 night of cocktails.  None of that bothers me. 🙂
  • A piece or two of chocolate 3x; ice cream 1x
  • During the week, frequency is 2-3 hours; Weekend eating frequency is less, but more indulgent

That’s the basic gist of the week’s trends.  Some of you may want more information, the same way I look at other blogs as I mentioned earlier.  For those who want more details, here they are, along with some photos when I remembered to take them.

  • Monday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 530: 2 cups water before/during barre workout
    • 7 am grande coffee w 1 oz milk
    • 7:45 am: 2 cups water; porridge – 1/2 cup oats, 2 cups water, 1.5 cups kale, 1 tsp miso, 2 eggs, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
      • 2 more cups water btwn meals
    • 11:15 Carob spirulina energy bite (1)
    • 12:30 pm: 2 cups water; salad of 3 celery stalks, 1 small gala apple, 1/3 cup chickpeas, lemon juice; 1 brown rice cake with 1/3 avocado and 1/2 oz sharp cheddar
      • 2:30 2 cups water
    • 3:15 whole wheat banana nut bread
      • 4:30 2 cups water
    • 6:00 low fat string cheese 1 cup water
    • 7:15 2 cups water; whole wheat pasta with honeynut squash olives capers and almonds (1 cup)
      • 1 cup water after dinner
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Porridge

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Lunch

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Whole Wheat Banana Bread

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Pasta.

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My itty portion.

  • Tuesday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 8:30 am: 2 cups water
    • 9:00 – pancake (1.5 eggs, 6 tbsp oats, 3 tbsp nonfat Greek yogurt, 1.5 cups flower sprouts [like kale]). 2 cups water
      • 10: stroller strides (interval full body workout) 2 cups water during workout
    • 11: 3/4 cup Greek yogurt with 1 tsp pb 3/4 apple and cinnamon
    • 11:30 – grande coffee w 1 oz milk
    • 1:00 pm – 2 cups water; 1 whole wheat pizza slice with broccoli and spinach topping
      • 2:45 – 2 cups water
      • 4:15 – 2 cups water
    • 5:15 – 1.5 clementine 10 raw almonds
    • 6:15 : 2 cups water, 3 bell pepper slices
    • 7:30 2 cups water. 2 (really big) glass red wine. 1/3 cup sprouted brown rice, 1/3 cup mushroom stroganoff, 1/2 cup roasted sugar snap peas in 1 tsp Evoo, 1 small bell pepper stuffed w 1/2 cup chickpeas w lemon zest and juice; 2 choc truffle
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Pancake with a hot sauce smile.

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Yogurt parfait.

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  • Wednesday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 9:15 am 2 cups water
    • 9:30 – smoothie (3/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1.5 cups broccoli, 1/4 cup oats, 1 tbsp pb, 1/2 cup water, vanilla and cinnamon)
      • 10:30 2 cups water
    • 11:15 cup of coffee w splash of milk
      • 11:40 2 cups water
    • 12:15 pm 1 cup coffee
      • 1:00 2 cups water
    • 1:15 leftover snap peas stroganoff and rice, kidney beans 1/2 cup each
    • 2:45 2 cups water. 1 oz sharp cheddar
    • 5:15 thin slice whole wheat banana bread
      • 6:30 2 cups water
    • 7:00 carrot ginger coconut soup (1 cup), sesame noodles (1/2 cup brown rice quinoa pasta with pb and sesame sauce (pb, molasses, sesame oil, ginger, garlic,etc), 2 cups water, 1 piece dark chocolate w raisins and pecans
      • 10:30 2 cups water
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Finished smoothie.

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Sautéing veggies for the soup.

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Soups on!

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Sesame noodles, with some modifications on this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/cold-sesame-noodles-recipe2.html

  • Thursday
    • Water total: 14
      • 9:30 am 2 cups water
    • 10:00 1/2 cup oats, 6 oz baby spinach sautéd in 1 tsp Evoo and garlic, 2 scrambled eggs, 2 cups water
    • 10:45 2 cup coffee w splash milk
      • 12:30 pm 2 cups water
      • 1:30 2 cups water
    • 2:00 leftover carrot soup (1.5 cups) rice beans and mushroom (1/2 cup each;) 1 cup water
      • 3:00 1 cup water
      • 5:15 2 cups water
    • 6:15 2 cups water. 1 small sweet potato with skin and sprinkle cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup white beans cooked in sriracha sauce, 1 cup slaw (napa cabbage carrots onion pepper apple celery lemon juice avocado), 1 glass red wine
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Breakfast.

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Leftovers. Again.

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Slaw.

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BBQ(ish) Dinner.

  • Friday
    • Water total: 17 cups
      • 5:30-7am 3 cups water before/ during barre
    • 7:00 grande coffee with splash milk
    • 8:30 2 cups water. Miso soup (1 tbsp miso w 2 cups water) with 1/2 cup leftover sprouted brown rice, 3 cups flower sprouts, 2 poached eggs, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil and hot sauce
      • 9:30 2 cups water
      • 11:15 2 cups water
    • 12:15 2 cups water. 2 cups leftover slaw w 1/2 cup kidney beans, 1 small sweet potato w sprinkle cheddar
      • 4:00 2 cups water
    • 4:30 2 clementines 15 raw almonds
      • 530 1 cup water
    • 7:00 pm – FAMILY DINNER. 1 cup water. 1/4 cup guac w 10 scoops, 2-3 oz white fish, 1/2 cup black bean, 1/2 cup cabbage, 2 margaritas. 1 piece salted caramel dark chocolate, 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
      • 10:00 2 cups water
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Another take on Breakfast.

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  • Saturday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 9:45 am 2 cups water
    • 10:15 2 cups water. 1/2 cup oats cooked in water, 3 oz baby spinach in 1 tsp Evoo, 1/3 avocado, 1 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
      • 11:00 am – 1:00 pm 4 cups water before/during/after barre
    • 1:00 pm grande coffee splash of milk
    • 2:30 pm salad w romain eggplant roasted red pepper cucumber tomato chick peas fresh mozzarella 1 tbsp vinaigrette, 10 French fries, 5 bites broccoli cheddar omelet, 1 cup water
      • 7:00 pm 4 cups water
    • 8:30 VALENTINES. 2 glasses red wine, 5 slices baguette 1/2 inch thick,  5 crackers, cheese (3ish oz), cherry jam, 10 olives, 2 cups water
      • 1 cup water before bed
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More savory oats.

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VDay with my love.

  • Sunday (Busy day, no photos)
    • Water total: 12
      • 9:30 am 2 cups water
    • 10:30 am 16 oz americano w steamed milk (1/2 cup?), 1 slice whole wheat banana bread, 1 cup water
    • 12:30 pm BIRTHDAY BRUNCH PART 1. 3 cups water, 1/2 cup brown rice 1 cup sauted Chinese broccoli,  2 bites tapioca custard, 2 bites dessert bun
    • 3:30 BIRTHDAY BRUNCH PART 2.  1 cup water, 2 poached eggs, 1/2 biscuit, 1/2 cup sauted kale, 1 cup mixed green side salad, 1/2 Bloody Mary
    • 6:30. BIG FAMILY DINNER.  3 cups water, 2 glasses red wine, 1/2 cup mixed greens, 1/2 slice fresh mozzarella, 1 bite bread w butter, 1 cup whole wheat pasta w arabiata sauce, 1/2 cup green beans, 1/4 cup sauted spinach, small piece eggplant parm (3 bites), 3 bites sole oreganata
      • 9:00 pm. 2 cups water

To answer my initial question, what does all of this mean? After this experiment, I think I can say that I am consistent with adhering to the healthy habits I’ve developed over the years, all while spicing things up with twists and changes.  And even if I do indulge a smidge, I don’t have to worry about hiding it from anyone, because I don’t consider it something off limits.  How else do you expect me to muster up the energy to cook (or chase a toddler) without a glass or two of wine?

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And if you’d like to see any of the recipes from this week, comment and let me know.  They could be included in a future post.

Has it Really Been (Almost) a Year!!??

In CSA, Fruit, Holiday, Indian, Jewish, Mexican, Nuts, Party, Pizza, Sweet Potato, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on October 19, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Whenever I meet somebody new, while talking and getting to know each other, we inevitably talk about food.  Sometimes, the conversation will go something like this:

New Person (NP):  I love food, but I hate cooking.  The closest thing to a homemade dish I’ll make is something frozen from TJs.

Me:  It’s not that hard.  I find it easier if I do A, B, and C. (More tips ensue).

NP:  Those are great ideas.  Do you like to cook?

Me:  I do!  I even have a food blog…

NP:  Really, what’s it called?

Me: Lauren Likes to Cook.  Although, it’s been months since I’ve written anything.

NP:  You should write something new!

Okay, so not verbatim, but you get the idea.  The last time this happened, I decided to look back at my homepage and see how long it really has been.  Turns out, it was last October.  Now I know my life has different responsibilities than when I started this journey, but still, I couldn’t believe it.  This blog, the manifestation of my love for food, had been pushed to the back burner.  What, you say, has made its way to the forefront of my to-do lists?  Well, a lot happened this past year.

After 7 years (9 for Nick) of living in Brooklyn, we finally made the move to the ‘burbs.  We staged and sold our condo, moved in with my in-laws, bought a new house, and fixed/furnished the bare necessities of our new space – all while caring for an infant (who is now a bonafide toddler).  Spruced in with some firsts and milestones, here are some highlights (warning – there are a lot of baby pictures):

  • October 2013

    Rocco's First Halloween!  Charlie Brown (with Snoopy)

    Rocco’s First Halloween! Charlie Brown (with Snoopy)

  • December 2013
    Rocco's first solid food - Avocado

    Rocco’s first solid food – Avocado

    Good-bye view from our Condo.

    Good-bye view from our Condo.

  • January 2014 – Coldest and longest month ever.

    Running redefined

    Running redefined

  • February 2014

    Best Valentine's Day Gift - a juicer!

    Best Valentine’s Day Gift – a juicer!

  • March 2014
    We moved!

    We moved!

    New workspace.   Boo for Electric cooktop.

    New workspace. Boo for Electric cooktop.

  • April 2014 – The end of my 20s.  Starting my 30s off as a Lush.
    Mixology party for my 30th Birthday.

    Mixology party for my 30th Birthday.

    Best. Drink. Ever.

    Best. Drink. Ever.

New Kitchen Floor.

New Kitchen Floor.

First Family Vacation

First Family Vacation

  • May 2014
    First Mother's Day

    First Mother’s Day

    Starting my First Garden

    Starting my First Garden

    A garden grows in Garden City.

    A garden grows in Garden City.

  • June 2014
    Rocco Turns 1!

    Rocco Turns 1!

    New CSA

    New CSA

  • July /August 2014 – Beach vacations
    Playing on the beach

    Playing on the beach

    Summer Corn

    Summer Corn

    First backyard BBQ

    First backyard BBQ

  • September 2014
    Happy 3rd Anniversary, Nick!

    Happy 3rd Anniversary, Nick!

    Anniversary Dinner.

    Anniversary Dinner.

  • October 2014 – Back to Apple and Pumpkin Season!
    Pumpkin and Apple Pancake

    Pumpkin and Apple Pancake

    Lots of Apples

    Lots of Apples

    Apple and beet juice

    Apple and beet juice

    Apple cinnamon cocktail

    Apple cinnamon cocktail

    Slow cooker stew with what else - Apples!

    Slow cooker stew with what else – Apples!

    Apple multigrain Breakfast bars

    Apple multigrain Breakfast bars

There you have it!  Pictures worth thousands of words.  Now that life is a little less hectic and routines are rather consistent, I’ll have more time to blog about what’s cooking.  In the meantime, some more photos of last year’s concoctions.  Happy drooling!

Gold/Purple Cauliflower and Romanesco

Gold/Purple Cauliflower and Romanesco

Fish in a white wine butter sauce over wild rice, with roasted brussel sprouts, radish, carrots, and jerusalem artichokes

Fish in a white wine butter sauce over wild rice, with roasted brussel sprouts, radish, carrots, and jerusalem artichokes

Margaritas

Margaritas

Watermelon radish, red cabbage, avocado

Watermelon radish, red cabbage, avocado

Sweet potato gnocchi

Sweet potato gnocchi

Homemade Indian feast at the In-Laws

Homemade Indian feast at the In-Laws

Moscow Mules

Moscow Mules

Rocco eating dried Mango

Rocco eating dried Mango

Homemade Almond Milk

Homemade Almond Milk

Typical Lunch

Typical Lunch

Roasted veggies

Roasted veggies

Ratatouille stuffed pepper, truffle risotto, roasted green beans

Ratatouille stuffed pepper, truffle risotto, roasted green beans

Pesto Pizza

Pesto Pizza

Sweet potato with goat cheese and maple glazed nuts

Sweet potato with goat cheese and maple glazed nuts

Crustless quiche for Passover

Crustless quiche for Passover

Chocolate covered strawberries

Chocolate covered strawberries

Drunk kale quesadillas

Drunk kale quesadillas

Juicing cucumbers and lemons for cocktails.  Very healthy.

Juicing cucumbers and lemons for cocktails. Very healthy.

More roasted veggies.

More roasted veggies.

Nicoise salad.

Nicoise salad.

Roasted cabbage

Roasted cabbage

Rocco's story time choice - Eat to Live.

Rocco’s story time choice – Eat to Live.

Shana Tova!

In Fruit, Holiday, Jewish, Quick Meal, Salad, Vegan, Vegetarian on September 4, 2013 at 7:26 pm

I know it’s been a long time, but I wanted to jot down a few thoughts as the Jewish new year approaches.

Last year was the most remarkable year of my life.  I grew a beautiful baby inside my body, being mindful that what goes into, as well as what I do to, my body affects my little one’s.  I also nourished him outside of the womb during my “4th Trimester”, which may have been the most challenging part of this whole year.  I’ve learned a few tricks here and there that work for me, and I’m hoping to write about them this coming year.

13 Weeks - End of 1st Trimester

13 Weeks – End of 1st Trimester

26 Weeks - End of 2nd Trimester

26 Weeks – End of 2nd Trimester

39 Weeks - End of 3rd Trimester (and the day I actually went into labor!)

39 Weeks – End of 3rd Trimester (and the day I actually went into labor!)

52 Weeks - 3 month old Baby Rocco and Me

52 Weeks – 3 month old Baby Rocco and Me

I have a lot of ideas, recipes, and stories to share with you all!  At first I was hard on myself for not posting in quasi-real time, but what pregnancy and motherhood have taught me is that it’s okay to not be perfect –  I should focus on the positives of what I’ve accomplished instead of negatively harping on what I have not.  So instead of apologizing for my tardiness, or agonizing over writing the perfect blog post, I’m just going to share one little recipe with you that focuses on the now.

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, is often ushered in with greetings of a Shana Tova U’Mitukah.  This translates to a good and sweet year.  Interestingly, I was listening to Q104.3 this afternoon in the car, and the DJ played 3 songs with a common theme for callers to guess.  Today’s theme was Rosh Hashana.  But what was more interesting was his comment on the translation.  He said that although people translate Shana Tova to “Happy” new year, it actually means “good”.  The reason why good is used, rather than happy, is that happiness may be founded on material things, whereas good is an intrinsic virtue.   I thought it was a nice anecdote to set off this upcoming new year.  I have already learned in the past months that what made my past year great was not the things I acquired, but the good I did for myself and my family.  One of the most important contributions I’ve made is my focus on healthy nutrition, which can also tie into the “sweet” part of the salutation.

Traditionally, Jews will dip apple in honey to signify the sweetness of the new year, as well as consume other sweetened foods, such as raisin challah.  I have a recipe that I often make at the cusp of summer and fall which would provide a healthier twist to the apple and honey custom.  It’s a recipe I found years ago, and I’ve made my own modifications.

Apple Coleslaw

Addapted from All Recipes

3 cups sliced cabbage (I used purple)
1 gala apple, diced
1 granny smith apple, diced
1 carrot, grated
1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup mayo (I used light)
1/3 cup brown sugar (can sub agave or honey)
1 tbsp lemon juice
Handful chopped cilantro (optional)

It’s really simply – chop all the veggies, put in a large bowl.  Mix the last 4 ingredients to create the dressing and pour over the veggies.  Very pretty, refreshing, sweet, and healthy!

Much prettier in person.

Much prettier in person.

This is a great recipe to bring to a party or bbq, but even better to add to your holiday table.  Wishing you all a very sweet new year filled with lots of goodness!

Pseudo Sufganiyot

In Bread, Breakfast, Fruit, Holiday, Jewish, Quick Meal, Vegetarian on December 11, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Happy Chanukah everyone!  For those who don’t know, it’s a big tradition to eat foods fried in oil.  This custom serves to commemorate the miracle of 1 day’s worth of oil burning for 8 nights in the Temple.  Last year, I spun this tradition by baking a commonly fried falafel ball, although falafel isn’t really thought of as a Chanukah food.  The two most common fried foods for this holiday are potato latkas (pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts).  Both are delicious, but definitely not figure or digestion friendly.

Last week, I wasn’t in the mood for my usual oatmeal breakfast, so I decided to make some healthy french toast using sprouted grain bread, a mixture of whole egg and whites, and a schmear of pb&j.

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As I ate it, I thought “this kinda (barely) reminds me of jelly donuts.”  Then it occurred to me to try it again for Chanukah, only as a stuffed french toast instead.  This is by no means a dessert substitute, but it still gives you that hint of jelly donut flavor.

PB&J Stuffed French Toast

1 whole egg + 2 whites, beaten (you could cut the fat even more by using 4 whites instead)
1 capful vanilla extract (about 1/2 tsp)
Ground cinnamon to taste
Orange zest, optional
2 slices whole grain bread (I used Ezekial 4:09 Sprouted Grain)
2 tsp natural peanut butter
1 tbsp fruit preserves (I used strawberry)
Nonstick cooking spray

The first step is to prepare the egg batter.  My general rule of thumb is 1 egg (or whites equivalent) per slice of bread.  However, for this stuffed version there was a smidge left over.  To the beaten eggs add vanilla, cinnamon, and orange zest if you have it.

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Then you prepare the sandwich part.  If you wanted to make it more jelly donut-like, just use jelly/preserves.  I really dig the pb&j combo.  If you wanted to be even healthier, you could use fresh sliced strawberries instead.

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After sandwiching the two pieces together, I let the bread soak in the egg batter for at least one minute each side.  You really want to wait as long as possible so that all the egg is absorbed.

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Then comes the “frying” part.  Usually french toast is fried in tons of butter, but I just use non-stick spray.

You can see some of the extra egg batter.

You can see some of the extra egg batter.

I just scrambled the excess and ate it plain.

I just scrambled the excess and ate it plain.

After 3 or 4 minutes, it was time to flip.

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2 or 3 minutes more, and the stuffed toast was done.  I cut a little bit of the corners to make a rounded donut shape (don’t worry, I ate the corners, too).

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Here’s how the stuffing looks.  Not too shabby, huh?

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This breakfast treat is really filling, and doesn’t give you the traditional sugar headache of either donuts or syrup doused french toast.

A typical jelly donut (such as one from DD) can run you high in bad nutrition:

Calories: 290
Calories from fat: 130 (almost 45% of the calories!)
Total fat: 14 grams
Saturated fat: 7 grams
Total carbohydrates: 36 grams (~50%)
Fiber: 1 gram
Sugar: 6 grams
Protein: 3 grams (~5%)

Basically super high in fat, barely any protein.  There is some sugar, but not awful.  And that is just for a snack or non-filling breakfast.  Here’s how my recipe stacks up:

Calories: 354
Calories from fat: 90 (~25%)
Total Fat: 10 grams
Saturated fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 39.5 (~45%)
Fiber: 7 grams
Sugar: 8 grams
Protein: 25 grams (~30%)

Seems pretty well balanced, don’t you think?  Healthy fat mostly from peanut butter (instead of hydrogenated oils), tons of fiber from whole grain bread, and the same amount of protein you’d find in a 4 oz piece of chicken breast.  It may be 65 calories more, but you’ll feel satiated for hours without the sugar crash of processed refined grains.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me a fried donut or latka.  But with this recipe, I don’t feel like I’m missing much, other than the fat deposits on my ass and thighs.   Freilachin Chanukah!

Thanksgiving 2012

In American, Beans, Dessert, Fruit, Holiday, Vegan, Vegetables on December 5, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Although I haven’t been cooking as much lately, I managed to conjure up a few new dishes for Thanksgiving week.  To contribute to the family meal, I made both a main dish and a dessert.  I find it’s always challenging as a vegetarian to eat during this holiday (unless you are fortunate enough to attend a non-turkey table).  As a result, I try to bring a dish that will not only supply me with protein and/or veggies and/or whole grains, but will also provide the other guests with a new delicious combination of flavors and textures.

The past couple of year the New York Times has posted a gallery of vegetarian and vegan recipes to make for Thanksgiving.  Aside from a tofu/tempeh concoction, or a huge lentil soup, there were mostly veggie and grain sides.  I found one recipe for a Cajun cornbread casserole that had a filling of red beans and veggies, and is topped with a ground cornmeal crust.  Back when I ate meat, I would make something similar using chicken instead of beans, but either way they are both delicious and hearty.

Cajun Cornbread Casserole

Adapted from Everyday Happy Herbivore

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 small onion, diced
2 celery stalks, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning (commercial blend, or make your own)
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 to 2 tablespoons raw sugar (optional)
3/4 cup nondairy milk
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

Since I was making this at my in-laws, I had to pre-measure the cornbread ingredients.  The other ingredients were prepared on site.  First I chopped all the veggies.  Then I sauteed in a pan with water and the juice of the canned tomatoes.

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After a few minutes, I turned off the heat, added the tomatoes, beans, and seasoning.  Then I layered the filling into a pie dish.

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Just before hitting the oven, I mixed wet and dry cornbread ingredients.  Then I baked at 400 for 35-40 minutes.

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Leftovers, since I forgot to take pics day of.

I thought the casserole was really delicious.  The only qualm I had with it was that it didn’t really match the traditional flavors of stuffing, mash, and turkey/gravy.  It did, however, taste amazing with cranberry sauce.

For dessert, I made the pumpkin brownie from last year.  Earlier in the week, I made some amazing blueberry brownies from Veganomicon, but I didn’t bring those to dinner.  Half were in my belly, the other half pawned off on my coworkers.  I didn’t eat the entire half at once, just a brownie or two (or 4) each day.  It was a nice treat to have lying around.  I’ve been better lately about the quality of ingredients I’m consuming, so I actually eat fewer treats, sweets, and packaged products.  Especially with chocolate, since the majority of products not certified organic contain GMO soy (in soy lecithin), as well as HFCS, hydrogenated oils, or “natural flavors and colors”.

This recipe is also a great use-up for extra blueberries in the summer.  Although if you’re like me, you couldn’t bare to spare a single berry!  I made a slight variation by subbing unsweetened applesauce for half the oil.  I didn’t notice a difference, so hooray!

Fudgy Wudgy Blueberry Brownies

Adapted from Veganomicon

2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
10 ounces blueberry preserves (spreadable fruit, smooth, no whole blueberries)
1/4 cup almond milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh blueberriesIMG_0364

I combined the blueberry preserves, almond milk, sugar, canola oil and extracts with my handheld mixer.

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Then I sifted in the flour, sugar, baking power/soda and salt.
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After feverishly mixing the wet and dry, the batter was ready for some melted chocolate chips.

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Mmmm, fudgy batter.  But oh wait, I still had to add more choc chips and blueberries.
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I spread the batter out in a 9 x 13 tin.
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While I let these babies bake at 325 for 45 mins, I had plenty of time to lick the bowl.  Bonus, no raw eggs so no problem!  Then it was time to take them out, and set to cool.
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Here’s one lonely brownie on a plate.  Don’t worry, it wasn’t lonely for long :).
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They were so moist and decadent.  I’d definitely recommend whipping up a batch if you want to impress someone.  Or just stuff your face with fudgy goodness.  Just another great thing for which to be thankful.

Hooray! It’s May! And I Completely Passed Over April

In Greek, Holiday, Jewish, Quinoa, Salad, Shopping, Soup, Sweet Potato, Vegetables on May 1, 2012 at 2:31 pm

It’s been a while.  I think that’s mostly because the thought of how long it’s been since my last post made me even less inclined to want to write, even though I have PLENTY of reserved material to use.  It’s probably the perfectionist in me, trying to do everything right or not at all.  Looks like I better realize it’s better to chip away or do something partially, lest risking my momentum to keep on keeping on.

Anyway…a quick synopsis of the past 5 weeks or so.  I went with Nick to Aruba for a very necessary vacation.  I only took photos of food, especially because nobody wants to see me in a bikini after all the drinks and crap I ate.

The day after we got back, it was cleaning and prepping for Passover, followed by cooking the day after.  And what do you know, I got sick (probably from the plane ride) and had to do all of that work while feeling pretty crumby.  Instead of taking it easy, I opted to run a 10k race, which made me even worse, keeping me out of commission from exercise and cooking for over a week.  I was even sick on my birthday ( April 9th – in case you need to send me a belated gift).  Instead of birthday cake (even the Passover kind), I was eating whole wheat matzah with avocado, tomato, and cucumbers.  Even though it was tasty, it wasn’t exactly how I wanted to celebrate.


I barely make it through half a box of matzah usually, but since I was feeling so awful all week, I ate my fare share.  It was all whole wheat, of course .  Matzah gets a bad rap from the white flour kind, which causes some “irregularity”, especially combined with the mass quantities of meat, eggs, and processed passover convenience products most observers consume.  I treat Passover as a time of rebirth; it is known as Mezeg Ha’Aviv, which means holiday of the Spring.  This season is synonymous with trees blooming, crops growing, and getting a fresh start on reinvigorating your routine after a winter of hibernation.  Thus, I like to use the dietary restrictions of Passover as an excuse for a “cleanse” or “detox”.  I don’t buy any boxed or packaged processed products, and eat mostly fruits, veggies, some dairy/eggs, nuts, and quinoa (which I know is controversial, but as a vegetarian and sometimes vegan ashkenaz Jew, I have to put my foot down somewhere against the semantics of modern rulings).  There was even one year when the only matzah I ingested was at the seder, and it was literally a bite.  The rest of the week was very clean, and I dropped the last few lbs stored up from the winter.

This year, I had such low energy.  My muscles ached, my head was hot, my nose was stuffed, my nose was running, I sneezed all over everything.  I felt (and looked) AWFUL.  Thus, my surrender to everything matzah.  I even made what I call matzahkopita, a version of spanikopita using whole wheat matzah instead of filo or pastry dough.  At least I made it with salad :).

I did end up making a lot of soup.  The lack of vegetable broth available for the holiday made that a smidge challenging in the flavor department.  I was perfectly happy to eat bland soup, but that’s not really fun for anyone else joining me.  I made a pureed butternut squash soup, similar to this one, except using water instead of broth.  I also added more sweet potato and carrots, which helped the flavor a lot.  When it came time to puree, I realized I didn’t have a blender for Passover, so I had to mash everything up with a wooden spoon.  That was not so much fun.

Another soup I made with a twist on a roasted mushroom recipe with garlic and fennel.  I figured it was a good base with lots of flavor.  I actually took some photos…

I used white mushroom because they were on sale for 99 cents.  For those of you who don’t shop for groceries, that is a super good price!  I rubbed them with a wet towel, and then sliced them up to saute in EVOO in a pot until nice and brown.  Just an FYI, all EVOO is kosher for Passover, so no need for the often marketed cottonseed oil, which is AWFUL for you.

Another note, my kitchenware for Passover is rather collegiate – most pieces are from a cheap set from Target.  I just wanted to point that out because if anyone reads my blog and wonders how to cook without fancy equipment (which I do have year round), it is definitely possible.  I also have to hand wash everything, which makes it challenging for the cleanup process, so I completely empathize with those who don’t have a dish washer.

While the mushrooms cooked, I cut up the fennel bulb, onion and some garlic.  I took all these photos with my phone, so not all came out so clear.  Here’s the fennel.

The mushrooms browned up, and I added the other veggies.

After mixing for a few minutes, I added about 7 or 8 cups of water, salt and pepper, and let it boil, then reduced to simmer for an hour.

That night, I paired the soup with a take on Israeli salad, which included tomato, cucumber, red onion, carrots, avocado, and pickles.  I squeezed some fresh lime, and used salt, pepper, onion, and garlic powder.

This photo doesn’t do it justice, but the soup was really good.  I know it appears a lil “oily”, but I only used about 2 tbsp for the whole pot, which made about 6 servings.

The soup was better the next day, and even better the day after that.  Nick added some feta to his to bump up the protein, but I was perfectly happy with my surprising vegan Passover meals.  Even my salads weren’t boring this year.  My favorite was this one, which is the most prismatic I’ve ever made.  Ain’t it purty?

Now that that’s all out of the way, I can trace back on my tangent and continue the rest of my synopsis.  Once Passover was over, it was time to celebrate Nick’s birthday and my birthday, both with friends and family.  This turned into a week long celebration, which meant no cooking for moi!  That leaves one more week, which also rendered no cooking because I was lazy.  By the end of the week, I had to buckle down and go food shopping.   And there you have it.  Here’s to chipping away at the month of May and getting back into the groove – both cooking and writing!

…and I Thought I Wasn’t Crafty

In American, Breakfast, Fruit, Holiday, Oats, Saving Money on March 22, 2012 at 4:51 pm

I’ve always been a great gift-giver.  I think long and hard about what the recipient doesn’t have and would surely want or need (Ferraris excluded), and their satisfaction with my efforts makes me feel good about myself.  What I suck at is “packaging” – a word that reminds me of the 4 Ps of Marketing 101’s past.  You can have an awesome product, but if you don’t package it well, you’re brand can be doomed to failure.  And I want to be an Oreo, not a Hydrox.

I constantly try to improve my wrapping and bow-tying, paying close attention to the gift wrappers during the holiday season.  However, my packages never look clean, crisp, or pretty.  It basically looks like my husband wrapped it.  I never get the tissue paper in a gift bag perfectly angled and crinkled.  I can’t even curl ribbon with a scissor.  I am in awe of people who can do all of that.  Or scrapbook.  My ideas of creativity flow through my fashion and my food.  The latter medium actually does involve some re/construction (unlike my sister, I have not successfully mastered turning old jeans into jean shorts).  Unfortunately, a plate of hot food doesn’t stay hot for very long in a gift box.

Last month was a friend’s birthday, and I struggled to think of what to gift her.  Like with many of my friends, we often talk about food and what we love to eat.  She was a particular fan of Starbucks oatmeal.  I would constantly tell her how she could make it herself for a fraction of the price and calories, but like the rest of busy professionals she couldn’t find the time.  Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  I know; I’m in the future also.

I figured I could assemble a mix of oats, fruit, nuts, and spices that my friend could easily pour into a cup and nuke at the office while checking emails.  However, I wanted to make this look pretty.  There’s a big difference between wrapping a box of instant Quaker and packing wholesome ingredients in a pretty container.  Thanks to Google, I found this recipe as a base: http://blogs.familyeducation.com/parenting/moms/sweet-pea-chef/gifts-from-kitchen-20.  I changed up some of the ingredients, subbing dried blueberries for cranberries, and dried dates for brown sugar.  Anyone can use cranberries, but blueberries are so much more special!  They are also full of fiber.  Same for dates.  I also made 1.5 times the quantity, because bigger is better.  Except for your tush.

Using my faux slap chop, I chopped up the walnuts.

Then I finely chopped the dates with a knife.  They are way too sticky for the chopper.

I measured out the rest of the ingredients and created an assembly line.

Then I grabbed a large mason jar and added one third of the oats.

Then I added 1/2 of the blueberries…

…nuts…

…dates…

…and cinnamon.

I repeated the layers again, and then topped it off with the last third of oats.  Look how pretty the layers look!

Then came the craftiest part…the label…and a bow!  I fumbled around in Word to find the pretties font and type uo the instructions.  I also typed up the ingredients and nutrition information.  Then after 5 attempts with templates, I finally got the business card stock to print out right.

I found a piece of ribbon to use (must have been from a gift I received) and looped it through the hole I punched in the tag.  Then I wrapped it around the rim of the jar and tied a bow.  I cried I was so proud.

When I met my friend for dinner for the birthday celebration, I passed her a gift bag filled with this jar and some other goodies.  She was so happy and couldn’t believe how crafty it was.  She said she wished she could be so creative.  I laughed and said I wish for the same thing.  She even applauded me for adding the professional touch of including ingredient and nutrition labels, just like a real retail product.  I didn’t take a photo of this info.  However, I did save the Excel spreadsheet I used to calculate the nutritionals.  Just for my own curiosity, I also summed up the Starbucks version with all the addins.


Can you believe it?  Not only do they steal your hard earned 3 dollars, but they also add in a bunch of sugar and calories to boot.  If you want to spare yourself from highway robbery (exaggeration, I know), just spend 5 minutes prepping a jar at home and keep it at your desk.  And if you want to be a good friend, you can do the same for your pal at holiday time.  You don’t even need to have good handwriting (another skill a lack) or REALLY know how to tie a bow.  All you need is some TLC, the internet, and a big smile.  It worked for me :).

Happy (Very, Very, Very) Belated New Year!

In Beans, Bread, Dessert, Holiday, Italian, Pasta, Potato, Vegetables on January 13, 2012 at 2:08 pm

It’s still the first half of the month, so I suppose this post can still pass for a New Year’s edition.  I know you all are probably well into considering giving up those resolutions, but here is a reminder of the foods the drove you to go on your January diets.

We had our annual New Year’s Eve party, so the whole week before was super busy preparing the apartment, doing the food shopping, experimenting with drinks, etc.  Hence, the lack in posts the week before, and also the week after (I told myself I get a few days off after working 2 days non-stop cooking for the party).

Every year, we choose a different theme for the party.  This year was an Italian theme.  We got red, white, and green decorations/plates/napkins, made a delicious Italian meal, and served this amazing Italian fruit punch.  It is Giada’s recipe, and everyone loved it so much that I had to make 5 PITCHERS WORTH.  Here’s a snap of the first batch.

For those of you who want to make this recipe, I actually used half the amount of seltzer recommended and substituted with proseco.  I also added maraschino juice because the liqueur I got was clear, and not red.

For the appetizers, we of course had slices of Italian bread, bruschetta crackers, and bread sticks.  Italians love their bread.  We also had an antipasto platter that had prosciutto, salami, fresh mozarrella, parmeggiano reggiano, and pecorino romano.  The pecorino was soooooooo good, and VERY expensive.  But it was really worth it!  There was some roasted red peppers, marinated veggies, and crudités serve with a cannolini bean and roasted garlic dip.  I forgot to take pictures of each step, but here is a photo of the spread.

For those of you curious as to how I made the bean dip, here are the steps.  The night before, I soaked 2 cups of dry cannolini beans.  The next day, I drained and rinsed them, and cooked until tender.

At the same time the beans were cooking, I roasted a whole head of garlic in the oven for an hour.  To prepare the garlic, you stand it up, and slice off about 1/2 a centimeter on top.  Then you place it on a sheet of aluminum foil, and top with some EVOO, and wrap it up tightly.  When the garlic is ready, you have to unwrap the foil to let it cool to the touch.

The other element to the dip is sage.  Sage and cannolini beans are a perfect match!  I used about 6 big sage leaves, pulsing them in a large food processor.  Then, I added the beans and about 1/2 cup of the liquid.  Finally, I grabbed the garlic by the bottom and squeezed out all of the gloves, which had cooked to a paste consistency.   You could also use the roasted garlic as a spread on a sandwich or in mashed potatoes.  Adding some salt, I blended the ingredients in the food processor until smooth.  It was so yummy!

For the main course, we made the gnocchi and chicken dishes from our cooking class.  This time the gnocchi came out so soft and delicious, it was definitely restaurant quality.  We also baked it with some fresh mozzarella for an added special touch.

I also made some sauteed spinach with garlic.  It’s a typical contorno in Italy.  I used very little EVOO (maybe 2 tbsp for 2 lbs of spinach) in a pan with some crushed garlic cloves.  Then I added the spinach, which wilted down to a rich, green, delicious masterpiece.  Everyone was pretty full, so there was plenty leftover for me to use for the week.  I probably had a spinach omelet 4 days last week.  Here’s one of the first.


For dessert, there was tiramisu.  We made a double batch from the last time, only this time we layered the lady fingers and cream in a rectangular tin.  Unfortunately, people were really full and there was a good half of it left.  Looks like the resolution was going to be delayed a few days…

 

Having a Happy Chanukah (Falafel) Ball!

In Beans, Bread, Greek, Holiday, Jewish, Salad, Vegetables on December 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Don’t judge me.  I cannot find my menorah that my grandmother got me from Israel.  In fact, I think I go through this same panic every year after having moved back from college.  Yet, have I looked in my mother’s house?  Have I considered buying a new one?  Do I have time for either of those options?  I always seem to find the time to call my mother for her Latke recipe, but never remember to also ask about my missing menorah.  I guess you can can see where my priorities are.

In the spirit of this Holiday, I decided for the first night to cook something that can be found on both Jewish/Israeli and Greek menus: Falafel.  I think it fits the theme of the holiday very well!  I know it’s not traditionally served on Chanukah, but I suspect nobody would object to another deep-fried delicacy during this eight-day-miraculous-oil celebration.  Plus, there are only so many fried latkes and sufganiyot I can handle.

If you know me, and you read my blog, you might be surprised to find that falafel would warrant a wholesome, healthy blog post.  The key to enjoying this treat-in-a-pita-pocket is to make some slight modifications.  First, serving in whole wheat pita is a step in the right direction.  Second, filling it up with tons of fresh veggies adds bulk and nutrition.  However, saving the best for last, baking the falafel instead of deep frying will turn this drunken street food into a nutritiously delicious weeknight meal.  I actually found this recipe through Hunry Girl.  I’m not usually a fan of her recipes, because everything is substituted with chemical non-fat cheese, splenda, or other low-calorie/high chemical ingredients.  However, I really liked this recipe because it was all wholesome ingredients.  I really wish she would put out some more like it!

When I make this dish, I usually serve it with an Israeli salad – small diced tomato, cucumber, pepper, onion, parley, and lemon juice.  However, I decided to try something different this time.  At a lot of falafel joints, there is usually a salad bar, which will include the Israeli salad as well as pickled veggies, fried eggplant, and coleslaw.  I generally love to use the purple cabbage salad, because it is so bright, crunchy, and has the least amount of mayo or oil.  Here is my attempt to recreate that salad.

I cut the head of red cabbage into quarters, and then I cut out the core.

Then I shredded the cabbage, some carrots, and celery in a food processor using the grater blade.  The best invention ever.

I mixed the shreds in a bowl with some thinly sliced scallion.

Then, to make the salad more crispy/less soggy, I massaged in about 1 tsp salt.  Then I grabbed a handful at a time, squeezed out the liquid, and placed the dry cabbage in another bowl.  Look how much water came out!

To ensure no excess fluid was left behind, I topped the salad with a plate, and then pressed with a tea kettle.

After about an hour, I removed the pressing equipment, and there was no extra liquid.  I guess I did a diesel job squeezing with my hands.

Okay, so now on to the falafel.  The recipe called for 1 can (15.5 oz) of chickpeas.  I haven’t really been buying canned beans, so I had to actually soak and cook the chickpeas.

I added everything to the food processor, except the chickpeas.  This included a whole onion, about 1/4 cup each fresh cilantro and parsley, a squeeze of lemon, some cumin/parika/salt/pepper, baking powder (NOT SODA my friend MG – which is what most people have on hand, used in the fridge for freshness – powder is found in a tin can), and I subbed garbanzo/fava flour for whole wheat flour.

It turns into a paste (like pesto).

Then, I add the chickpeas, and just pulse a couple of times.  You want to be able to see some of the chick pea pieces still intact.

I transferred the batter into a bowl, and then divided the contents into 8 even sections.

Each section yields 2 balls.  Just a warning, you may want to take off your rings to roll the balls, as it can get pretty messy.  You basically grab a section, divide in half, and then press one of the halves between your hands until firm, and roll like you would a meatball.  Then you place the balls on a pre-sprayed nonstick baking tray.  Because it was so messy, I couldn’t take pictures of the process.  Here is what they all looked like before being cooked.



You top off the balls with another spray of olive oil spray.  Yes, it is still olive oil, but you don’t really use that much.  Much better than the deep fryer!  Baked at 375 for 15 minutes each side, they come out just a little bit browned, so don’t worry if you still see green when they’re finished.

What falafel dinner is complete with hummus and babaganouj?  I got this awesome hummus quartet from TJs, and each flavor is so good.

I had a lot of cabbage salad, some falafel, and a couple spoons of hummus and baba.

For Nick, I warmed a whole wheat pita, and cut it in half.  Each half I spread some roasted red pepper hummus and baba.

Then I added the falafel and cabbage.  So pretty.

I did the same for the second half, and served it on a plate to Nick.  He loved it, but also doused it with hot sauce and complained his mouth was on fire.

You can also see that this whole process makes your kitchen very messy!  All that batter falling all over the place.  Even though it’s messy, it’s really fun to make and even funner to eat.  Hopefully you cook this for someone on cleaning duty so you can have your falafel and eat it, too:)

What’s your favorite messy food to eat?

A Second Helping of Holiday Goodness! (Unless, of Course, You’re Still Digesting)

In American, Dessert, Fruit, Holiday, Rice, Vegetables on November 29, 2011 at 2:22 pm

It’s been nearly a week since my last post, but fear not blog followers!  This does not mean I haven’t been slaving away and taking photos for your visual pleasure.  With a four-day weekend nudged in between, it was difficult to find the time (or a working computer) to be so diligent.  I hope you find this post meeting your approval!

Ah, Thanksgiving.  It is my favorite holiday, and I am not alone in this favoritism.  I think the reason why is that it’s all about eating, relaxing, showing off your newest and fiercest fall outfits, and all without the guilt or obligation of religion.  My mother always made a big deal about this holiday, and with every year came more and more dishes and variations.  The tried and true in my family are Empire BBQ Turkey (I know it sounds weird but everyone loves it), potato pie, steamed green beans, corn, and luction kugel (hey, we are Jewish after all).  Last year was really hard for me because I was full-on vegan and I could only eat steamed veggies, but my mom made some yummy apps of guac, hummus, veggies, crostini, etc.  This year I just couldn’t eat the turkey and stuffing, so I had plenty to work with.

Usually, my only contribution is dessert (which until recently I would buy from a bakery).  This is because 1) there is already an abundance of food and 2) there is only one cook allowed in my mother’s kitchen (as I grow older, I realize the apple does not fall far from the tree).  I decided this year to not only bake a dessert, but to also make a side dish.  Last year I made this vegan pumpkin cheese cake with a chocolate cookie crust.  This year, I kept with both the vegan and pumpkin themes, only not so tofu-centric.  In fact, I waited to tell everyone it was vegan after they tasted it.  I wanted some sort of pumpkin swirled brownie, but when the Martha Stewart version came up first in Google, I couldn’t bare to use that much butter and sugar.  Instead I used a recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World for pumpkin pie brownies.

Just a note, I multitasked this recipe while cooking my side dish, but for the sake of continuity I will post pictures and steps after the dessert.

The first step was to create a double boiler using a regular sauce pan filled with water, covered by a metal bowl.

I measured out the 4 ounces of chocolate chips from the recipe.  I used a scale to make sure it was perfect.  I get very nervous with baking so try to be as accurate as possible.

I poured the chips into the bowl of the boiler and let it slowly melt away while I prepared the rest of the ingredients for the brownie layer.  When it was all melted it looked like this.  I wish I could bathe in it.

Then I combined all the wet ingredients – the pumpkin, sugar, oil, and vanilla  – into a mixing bowl.

I pulled out my pink hand mixer that my mom got me as a bridal shower gift.  She also got me a really cute apron that says “kind of on a diet”, which I was wearing while making this recipe! (Sorry, no photo of myself, as I was not having a good hair day.)

I mixed all the wet ingredients, and then sifted in the dry – flour, cocoa powder, arrowroot, baking soda, and salt.

After it was all mixed, I added the melted chocolate, and mixed some more.  I used a rubber spatula to spoon the mixture into the greased pan.  This was what the brownie layer looked like.

Then I prepared the pumpkin pie layer.  I used the rest of the canned pumpkin, some unsweetened vanilla almond milk, sugar, arrowroot, vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spice blend.  I could have measured out what the recipe asked for, but I figured McCormick does a good enough job on its own.

I cleaned the whisky things on the hand mixer so I could use them again to mix the pumpkin pie layer.  Tada!

I poured the layer on top of the brownie.

I baked according to the recipe directions, then let it cool and topped with mini chocolate chips.

I took a picture of a cut up brownie at the dinner table, but I think my camera had beer goggles on.

Everyone loved it!  Even more than the bakery Peep with a turkey on it!

Okay, so now back to the side dish I talked about earlier in the post.  I had made this dish last year for my in-laws, so figured it was okay to re-purpose for my family this year.  It uses a wild rice blend, but mixed with butternut squash, apples and walnuts.  The original recipe was from the Lundberg website, but I can’t seem to find it.  Here’s a version that I also found on the Kind Life website.  The only additions I made were to throw in some dried cranberries.  I think it’s 1) pretty and 2) very Thanksgiving.

I cooked the rice in the rice cooker while I had been preparing the dessert.  When it was done, it looked like this.

Luckily, I had cut up all the butternut squash the night before, because I was using some for the Thanksgiving pizza the other night.  I had stored the remainder in a tupperware, and I chopped up some apples and diced some onions.

I used red onions instead of yellow/white because it’s more mild and prettier.  I sauteed them for a few minutes in EVOO.

Then I added the squash, apples, and 1 tbsp thyme.  I know it sounds like a lot, but it really works well with this dish.

During the 5-minute saute, I chopped up some parsley to top the dish with before baking.

I deglazed the saute mixture with 1 cup of vegetable broth.  After a minute, I turned the heat off, and added the veggies, rice, and cranberries to a greased baking tin.

After it was mixed up, I reserved some on the side for my grandmother.  She can’t eat nuts, so I wanted to ensure that there was some untainted rice for her.  I know, I’m so nice.

I topped the main portion with some walnut pieces, and then sprinkled some parsley onto both.  I also added salt, because I forgot to add it to the saute pan.

When it was all done, it looked like this.

I love this dish.  Not only is it beautiful and bright, but it tastes really yummy!  I make it all fall/winter long, but whenever I eat it I think of Thanksgiving.  My whole family loved it and requested that all leftovers remain there.  This applies to the dessert, as well (duh).

Thank goodness I ran the Turkey Trot that morning, because I don’t know how I would have been able to eat all the festive food.  Even so, I still managed to fall asleep at 8:30 and not wake up until 9 the next morning.  I’m blaming it on the wine.

Friday I had a wedding, so no need to cook!  Saturday we had an early bird’s special with the in-laws to recover from 2 straight days of eating and drinking.  The next meal was Sunday, so I’ll be happy to share that with you in the next post!  Let’s just say I got by with a little help from my friends.