Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Matt and I discussed it, and decided that we aren't exchanging gifts for Valentine's Day. We're of the mindset that you should show your love every day, not just on a retail-driven holiday! I still like to have a day filled with cheesy lines, splashes of pink and red everywhere, and hearts all over... so here is my Valentine to you! Hehehehehe.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

The BEST Ooey, Gooey, Cheezy Hash Brown Casserole

Well folks, we are snowed in here in New Hampshire. Nemo has dumped 2 feet of snow on us, and its still snowing a little! All morning, the wind was howling, the snow was drifting, and my stomach was growling for something hearty and warming. A bowl of granola and a few berries was NOT going to cut it this morning!

So, what is else there to do, than jump on Pinterest?!

The original recipe came from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, but I modified it slightly here and there to accomodate what I had on hand (since I obviously wasn't going to the grocery store).

1 1/4 c water
1 c plain, sugar-free non-dairy milk
3/4 c nutritional yeast
1/4 c raw cashews
3 Tbsp arrowroot powder (or some other thickener)
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 kale leaves, stems removed and leaves chopped
16 oz. potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 15-oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Oil an 11x9" baking dish.
2. Place sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. NOTE: I used a food processor, and realized after the fact that I should have processed the cashews BEFORE adding all the other ingredients! Since I added everything at the same time, my cashews didn't get fully processed and there were some chunky bits. It still tasted delicious, but I'm telling you so you can learn from my mistakes. ;)
3. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, cooking until the onion is softened. Stir in the kale and a little bit of water, if needed, to prevent sticking. Cook until the kale has wilted.
4. Add the sauce, potatoes, and chickpeas. Stir constantly until the sauce thickens (it won't take very long!). I loooove how it gets super gooey, like real cheese!
5. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes, add some breadcrumbs on top (optional), and then bake another 20 minutes. I put it on broil for the last 5 minutes to brown the breadcrumbs.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Borrowed Books - A trip to the library, and my reading list

Today was a dreary, grey day. Matt had to work all day, so I decided to go downtown and do a little exploring. I had not yet ventured into the city library (why!? I have no idea), so today was a perfect day to do so.
As it turns out, the Portsmouth Library is amazing. They have an excellent selection of books, including my entire Amazon wishlist (!!!), and best of all, getting a library card was free. Oh yeah. I didn't want to be greedy, so I only checked out 3 books and 1 DVD. Matt hasn't seen my favorite movie yet, so I was super excited to find the DVD at the library. They also have a great selection of audiobooks that you can download right from the website. How awesome is that?
You can see what I borrowed in the picture above: The Life Aquatic (DVD), The Sexy Vegan Cookbook, New Hampshire Curiosities, and The Light Between Oceans. I'm going to start The Light Between Oceans as soon as this blog post is published....literally.
After I got home from the library this afternoon, I logged onto the website and made a "To Read" list. Here are all of the books I plan on borrowing in the near future:
1. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
2. The Round House - Louise Erdrich
3. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook - Deb Perelman
4. The Age of Miracles: A Novel - Karen Thompson Walker
5. The Night Circus: A Novel - Erin Morgenstern
6. Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs
7. Ghosts of Portsmouth, New Hampshire - Renee Mallett
8. Haunted Portsmouth - Roxie Zwicker
9. The Family Fang: A Novel - Kevin Wilson
10. The Happiness Project - Gretchen Rubin
11. Nature Walks Along the Seacoast - Julia Older
12. An Invisible Thread - Laura Schroff
13. Blog, Inc. - Joy Deangdeelert Cho
14. Super Natural Cooking - Heidi Swanson
15. Forks Over Knives - (no author)
16. The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia - Rebecca Wood
17. The Dog Stars - Peter Heller
18. Beautiful Ruins: A Novel - Jess Walter
19. The Orchardist: A Novel - Amanda Coplin
20. Tell the Wolves I'm Home: A Novel - Carol Rifka Brunt
21. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye: A Novel - Rachel Joyce

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Recipe: {Green} Black-Eyed Pea Soup

Here's yet another soup recipe. This one I made up all by myself, because...well, I needed to use up some veggies from the fridge.  I had some black-eyed peas leftover from New Year's Eve, a bunch of cilantro that was on the verge of being yuck-ified, and half of a bunch of kale that was started to wilt. So.... what better way to clean out the fridge than by making soup???
Green Black-Eyed Pea Soup:
Makes about 3 servings
1 small bunch of kale, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 to 2 cups of black-eyed peas (cooked)
1 few handfuls of cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 cups of vegetable broth
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp chopped onion or shallot
1 scallion, chopped
Olive oil for sauteeing
Salt and/or pepper, to taste
1. In a medium saucepan, saute the garlic, onion or shallot, and scallions in olive oil until the onion is translucent.
2. Add the broth, about 2/3 of the pre-cooked black-eyed peas, and kale. Simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and transfer the mixture to a blender, and blend until smooth.
4. Transfer back to saucepan and stir in the remaining 1/3 of black-eyed peas.
5. Add salt and/or pepper to taste, garnish with a little bit of cilantro, and serve!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

{{5 Senses Saturday}}

     Hello there! How is everyone? I am so excited to introduce a new weekly blog feature today, called 5 Senses Saturday. Most of us are blessed enough to possess all five of the senses we learned about back in kindergarten. But how often do you really sit back and take note of all of the things you are simultaneously sensing? I love to indulge in my senses: smelling scrumptious scents, tasting delicious foods, hearing beautiful music, feeling buttery-soft fabrics on my skin, and seeing beautiful things all around me.
Here are the 5 things I am sensing right now as I write this post:
Peaceful No.8 aromatherapy candle by Illume (at Target last spring)

Peppermint Tea
"Compliments" by Band of Horses
Cozy piles of pillows and dogs snuggling at my feet ♥
An image taken by the Hubble on my desktop
Take the time to indulge in your senses.
What do you smell/taste/hear/feel/see?

Friday, January 4, 2013

2013 Goals

I'm not normally one to make New Year's resolutions. In theory, I like them because I think its good to have goals and to work toward things and make progress. But resolutions (typical ones, anyway, like "lose weight" or "save money") just seem to set people (me, anyway) up for failure. There's a destination, but no procedure for getting there. Instead, I like to make attainable goals for myself, and then make a plan of attack for achieving them. It makes goals feel so much more in reach, instead of like some lofty ideal that I will inevitably shove aside or put on a back burner "until I have time".

So this year, I made a short list of goals to start with, and see where it takes me. The list is short and sweet, but made-up of things that I can continually work on. I like making these kinds of goals, and then crossing them off my list as I accomplish them. It gives me immense satisfaction to see how much I can accomplish when I put my mind to it!

My goals for 2013:

1. Create, and stick to, a budget. We're already off to a good start on this one. I'm working on putting together some tips and resources that are working for us to share in an upcoming post, so check back!

2. Work on paying down my credit card debt. This one ties into goal #1. Unfortunately, I have more credit card debt than I'd like to, as a result of being a student for 5 straight years and not having a job for half of that time. I'm proud to say it wasn't 'frivolous' spending on clothes or shoes, but its debt nonetheless

3. Become a dedicated Yogi. I've always been fascinated with yoga, but never had the time, money, or resources (ie a local studio) when I was living in PA and was a student. Since moving to New Hampshire, I've been realizing that the opportunirty for me to try yoga has finally presented itself. My employer (and friend!) have me a 10-class pass to a local studio, so now my goal can be realized. I just have to stick with it and see where it takes me!

4. Drink more water. This one is so easy, yet its always on my list of goals each new year. I am TERRIBLE at remembering to drink water! I think I'm probably always a little bit dehydrated, which is really terrible. I just don't really like "plain" water (I know, I know), so I've taken to carrying around a travel mug of water with a little NOW Vitamin C powder in it. It gives it just enough tangy flavor, sort of like a squeeze of lemon.

5. Start blogging again. This one is HUGE for me. I really love blogging, and while I was in school, I just didn't have the time to create quality posts (and to be honest, my whole life revolved around school so I just didn't have anything interesting to say). Now, I finally feel like I'm getting back into the groove and finding my voice again. And it feels good.

6. Open an Etsy shop again. This is another big one. I have missed creating these past few years. I'm finally at a place, both physically and mentally, where I CAN create. I'm just itching to draw again. There's nothing solid in the works yet, but its a goal that I intend on working toward much sooner than later.

7. Make small goals every month. Can making goals be a goal? I like to have shorter-term things to work on, whether they be to save a certain amount of money each paycheck, or to blog X number of times each week, or whatever. This one is non-specific so I can make goals as the opportunity presents itself.

8. Make fitness a priority. I've never been one to exercise on a regular basis. i'm mot terribly athletic, and I don't really enjoy running....but why should that stop me now? Before I went vegan about 6 years ago, I was on the heavy side. After going vegan, I lost a lot of weight and was really happy with my body. But over the past year or so (because of grad school and the beer that comes along with it), I've put a few pounds back on. I'm definitely not complaining about my current size (I'm 5'2" and a size 3 or 4), but I'm not as FIT as I used to be. I don't even know how much I weigh, and I really don't care. I care more about how I feel...and right now, I don't feel as sexy in my skinny jeans as I did just 1 year ago. I don't want to be out of breath after just a quick jog, or feel sluggish like I have been. So I want to make fitness a priority in my life, whether that means jogging with the dog every day, exercising for 20 minutes each morning, or simply making yoga a part of my life. One thing I'm going to try to do every day is keep track of my calories using the My Fitness Pal app. Its simple, but effective in making you think before you eat. I guess I could say "eat mindfully" is goal 8.1.

I feel like I'm off to a good start in working toward my goals so far. I'd love to know, did you make any New Year's resolutions? Or do you set goals like I did?

What do you want to accomplish in 2013?


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Soup Binge

I've been on a bit of a soup binge lately. Its no coincidence that the weather has been especially cold this week (the low last night was -10 F!!). What could be more satisfying on a bone-chilling day than a steamy bowl of soup?
The night before last I made Potato - Asparagus Soup, inspired by a recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance and the need to use-up some asparagus left over from New Year's Eve dinner. The result was delicious, and dare I say, even a little bit fancy? It reminded me of something you'd eat while sitting outside at a cafe table at a little bistro. Plus it was green, which made it automatically more awesome. Even Matt, the consumate carnivore, said "it isn't hateful" (which, in Matt-speak, is the equivalent of saying, "This is totally awesome and I will eat it when you cook it.")

Last night, still craving soup, I made a Panera-style Black Bean Soup.

As a side note: I LOVE Panera's black bean soup, but it seems that they never have it anymore?? Every time I've been in a Panera over the past year or so (which hasn't been a whole lot, admittedly), its not on the menu. Therefore, this is one of the reasons my Panera attendance has been so low (the other, of course, is that I can't afford it!)

Anyway. The black bean soup turned out AMAZING. I had it for dinner last night, lunch today, and will probably have totally had it for dinner again tonight.

But enough rambling. Without further ado, here are the recipes:

Potato - Asparagus Soup
serves 1-2

1 potato (russet, yukon gold, etc.)
5-6 asparagus stems, cut into smaller pieces
2 cups vegetable broth
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
About 1 Tbsp of finely-chopped shallot (or onion, if thats all you have)
1 scallion, chopped
1/2 Tbsp olive oil, for sauteeing

1. Cube the potato and boil it until it is soft. Add the aspargus for the last 3 or 4 minutes of boiling. Drain and set aside.

2. In a saucepan, saute the garlic and shallots (or onion) in olive oil until the onion is translucent. Add the scallions and sautee a minute longer, then add the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.

3. Put the potato and aspagus mixture, and the broth, garlic, and shallot mixture in a blender. Blend until smooth.

4. Garnish wirh some ground black pepper and a few chopped scallions, and enjoy!

Black Bean Soup
Serves 2-3

1 29-oz can of black beans
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp onion or shallot, finely chopped
1 scallion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional)
1/2 Tbsp olive oil, for sauteeing

1. In a saucepan, saute the garlic, shallots (or onion), and scallions in olive oil until the onion is translucent. Add the scallions (and jalapeno, if using) and saute a minute longer, then add the vegetable broth. Simmer for about 5 minutes, then add about 1/2 of the black beans. Simmer another couple of minutes.

2. Pour the contents of the saucepan into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the blended mixture back into the saucepan (not over heat; only for the purpose of mixing). Add in the remaining black beans, stir, and serve.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 in pictures






2012 was a good year, full of big life changes.
We finished school.
We moved to New Hampshire!
And, we got a pet fish. Named Ed.
I can't wait to see what wonderful things 2013 will bring.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Getting into the Christmas spirit

Yesterday, Matt and I put on some holiday tunes, cranked up the oven, and made Christmas cookies all day. None of our cookies turned out quite right - my snowball cookies (which are supposed to be little, round balls of dough that get rolled in powdered sugar) flattened out, and Matt's spritz cookies just wouldn't cooperate. The cookie gun (purchased yesterday) wouldn't work right, then his cookies flattened out and lost their shapes. We gave up after a couple of hours of frustration. Luckily, the cookies tasted pretty good, and that's the best you can hope for sometimes, right? I didn't make my {vegan} spritz cookies yet. I might try today. Fingers crossed that they turn out right!

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