Monday, September 30, 2013

Assembly Lasagna

This weekend was FUN. My camera stayed in my purse the whole time, so you'll have to take my word for it. Last weekend was all about grocery shopping and deep cleaning and food prep. This weekend was about eating, drinking and seeing friends. That's a good balance! 

Not much cooking happened, until last night and you have to wait a bit longer for that one, so I'm going to share a recipe from a few weeks ago. 

Lasagna was a regular on the table when I was growing up, but can you believe I've never made it myself? Not once. I decided it was time to come up with my own version and give it a try. I had a few criteria- I didn't want to use meat and I couldn't use diary (unless I wanted to eat an entire tray of lasagna by myself). Enter- lasagna, Daiya mozzarella "cheese" and Angela's tofu ricotta.

I ended up making the noodles myself, due to DC's apparent lack of interest in Italian staples, but it would be easier to sub in whole wheat lasagna noodles. You could also use regular dairy mozzarella and ricotta. That said, I did a rough estimate and by following this recipe exactly, you would eat almost 1/3 of the calories than if you were eating a regular meat and dairy lasagna. So there's that. 

The tofu ricotta is 100% "real food" in my book, but Daiya doesn't make the cut. It's processed. I considered making the lasagna without it, but I'm glad I didn't. Daiya is one of those things that I think is perfectly fine to eat every so often, so I wasn't worried.

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Vegan Eggplant Lasagna

Serves 6 (large servings!)

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F
  2. Slice your eggplant into thin 1/8" inch rounds and lay on a greased baking sheet. Cook until soft, or about 30- 35 minutes
  3. If you're making tofu ricotta, this is a good time to make it!
  4. Reduce oven temperature to 350F
  5. When the eggplant is ready, grab a deep 9 x 13 casserole dish and spread a spoonful of sauce in the bottom
  6. Place three noodles on top of the sauce, covering the bottom of the dish
  7. Cover the noodles with slices of eggplant
  8. Spoon 1/3 of the tofu mixture on top of the eggplant and sprinkle about 1/4 cup of Daiya shreds on top
  9. Add a thin layer of sauce
  10. Repeat steps 5- 7 two more times
  11. Finally, cover the top layer with three sheets of lasagna noodles, sauce and the remaining Daiya cheese
  12. Cover the casserole with foil and cook for 25 minutes; remove foil and cook 10 more minutes
  13. Heat remaining sauce in a pan over low heat until warm
  14. Allow casserole to cool for 10- 15 minutes before serving with sauce

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As you can tell, this recipe is more like assembling a bunch of other recipes. It's good to plan ahead!

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This is such a winner. We both liked it and I ate all of the leftovers. Mmm.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Moroccan Lentil Stew

We have to continue this slow cooker theme. I've been relying on it all week and I don't see any signs of slowing.

Conveniently, I have been able to schedule all of my recent doctors appointments near Brian's office. This means that after I go to the doctor, Brian takes me to lunch! Isn't that nice? Our typical plan is to grab prepared foods at Whole Foods. It's not Wegmans, but it's pretty good. They have a bunch of soups to choose from, one of which is a Moroccan Lentil Stew.

Yum. It's delicious and super filling. The only thing is that is super spicy and I don't love that. All I needed to do was make the lentil stew on my own, and make it less spicy. 

Mission accomplished:

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It only makes sense that I would love this stew. Did you know that I took Arabic? For two years? And almost went to Morocco for a study abroad program? 

Sadly, my Arabic was not that great. It was actually horrible. The class made me want to cry. One time I DID cry. Enough said- now I enjoy the culture of Morocco by eating their food. 

Moroccan Lentil Stew

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 carrots, chopped
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups lentils (I used small green)
  • 8 cups vegetable broth (about 2 cartons)
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 bag (about 2 cups) fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • juice of half a lemon

Directions

  1. Prep the veggies (onion, carrots, cauliflower and garlic) and toss into the slow cooker
  2. Add spices and diced tomatoes
  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours
  4. Add spinach, cilantro and lemon juice- stir and serve

Tip: I chopped up all of the veggies the night before. I put them into a gallon size Ziploc and even added the spices so I didn't have to do any measuring in the morning. I just stored the bag in the fridge and put the broth, lentils and tomatoes next to the slow cooker. In the morning I didn't even have to think!

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This smelled SO good when I got home. Sorry, steam doesn't photograph all that well!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Slow Cook on Sunday

My Wednesday was much better than my Thursday. I was a little worried when I started the day off learning not to put my contacts in after chopping onions (let's just say it was better than the time I learned not to do that with jalapeƱos). The tears passed and the rest of the day went smoothly. 

What was I doing chopping onions in the morning? Another crock pot recipe. I've been using the crock pot like crazy lately.

I was craving some chili this weekend and I usually make chili on the stove top, but I wanted to be able to enjoy the aroma of my chili for several hours so I decided to take it slow.

My mom always made chili with two types of meat- ground beef and chunks of stew meat. It's a fabulous combination. So meaty and delicious. After an afternoon in the crock pot, the chunks of beef were so tender.

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Slow Cooker Sunday Chili

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound stew meat
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 (15 oz) cans of beans- I used 1 kidney and 1 pinto
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water

Directions

  1. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and add the stew meat
  2. Give the stew meat three minutes to cook on its own, then add the ground beef and garlic and and cook for another two minutes
  3. Add the meat to your crock pot, then add remaining ingredients
  4. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or high for 4-5 hours
  5. Serve with toppings!

I used low fat Greek yogurt and cheese for my toppings, but you could do sour cream instead of the yogurt and I love avocado on chili too!

I served some corn bread muffins on the side.

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Gosh, they were SO bad. I followed the recipe on the bag of corn flour. I  could tolerate them covered in chili, but when I tried to eat one the next day on its own I had to throw it out half-eaten. Never again!

The chili though? I will make this again… and again… and again. Try the two-meat-chili and I promise you won't regret it! Thanks mom :)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

One of Those Days

Yesterday, I woke up, put in my contacts and headed out for my run. The whole time I was super annoyed that I couldn't see very well. I got home and tossed the left one and swapped in a new contact. Much better.

Then Brian starts to get ready for work. He comments, "My contacts are missing!"

Whoops.

The morning continued beautifully. I got ready for work and glanced in the mirror one last time before heading out- I looked a little dull and began stressing about my aging skin (25 is OLD, my friends)- before I realized that I forgot to put on make up. Phew, problem solved. Then I just pranced out the door to work… and left it wide open. Luckily, Brian left a few minutes after me (he usually leaves before!) and saved the day. 

I'm losing it. Probs because I'm old, right?

Lunch to the rescue. Do you know what's good for your brain AND your skin? Salad. Especially one with tons of toppings.

I've recruited Brian to my salad lunches and packing salads for him has reinvigorated my creativity. Now I'm way more committed to making delicious salads with fabulous toppings. It's been fun coming up with the combinations.

This salad is pure fall. 

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Lettuce, cucumber, tomato, diced apples, dried cranberries, cheddar cheese cubes, pumpkin seeds and roasted sweet potato.

So good. I keep the sweet potato in a separate container and heat it up in the microwave before eating. I don't even need dressing on this one because it's so good, but you can make a quick dressing of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, Dijon and s+p if you think it needs something extra. 

Good for your skin: Tomatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin seeds

Good for your brain: Tomatoes, leafy greens and pumpkin seeds

And that's the salad of the week! So far so good…. and many more ideas to come!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Perfect Pumpkin Muffins

Mondays are never my favorite day of the week. It's my busiest day at work though, so the day went quickly and soon I was walking home in the gorgeous fall weather. 

When I arrived home, it got better.

Candy mail

A letter AND a package. A party invite from Brian's family and pumpkin soap and lotion (for me) and candy (for Brian) from my mom.

Not only that, but dinner was ready and waiting (and smelling amazing) when I walked in the door.

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Steam just does not photograph well. This recipe is coming later, but it was so easy- I even chopped all of the vegetables the night before and put them into a Ziploc so that all I had to do was toss it in their yesterday morning.  Easy peasy.

Sorry that's not ready to share yet, but I have something else to make it up to you.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

(adapted from Oh She Glows' Mini Whole Wheat Blueberry Breakfast Muffins)

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • Coconut oil/ oil mist/ muffin liners
  • Decorating sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Line your muffin tin or mist/spread on oil
  3. In a small bowl, combine milk and vinegar and allow to sit
  4. In a second bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt
  5. In a third bowl, combine melted coconut oil with pumpkin puree, maple syrup and vanilla
  6. Add milk to the other liquids then slowly add all of the liquids to the dry ingredients
  7. Once combined, stir in the chocolate chips
  8. Evenly distribute the mixture to make a dozen muffins
  9. Sprinkle on the decorating sugar
  10. Bake for 15 minutes at 375
  11. Allow to cool completely before carefully removing from tin

I love these muffins. I used the vegan muffin base from Oh She Glows, so if you use non-dairy milk and chocolate chips then you have vegan muffins. Eat the batter freely!

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The 'buttermilk' (milk & vinegar) ensures that these are light, fluffy and delicious.

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Lately, I've been needing snacks (adding extra miles to my runs is my excuse!). I make a batch of muffins on the weekend and wrap them individually so that during the week I can grab one as I pack my lunch. For a morning person, I'm surprisingly slow to get ready in the morning so if its not easy, its not going to make it into my bag 50% of the time.

These are the perfect fall snack. And, they get the Brian seal of approval too! Mission accomplished.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sprint Four the Cure

Happy Fall! Yesterday was the official first day of my favorite season. I can only hope that the summer heat is behind us and I won't have to see that again until June 2014.

The weather has been fabulous. I arrive at work without looking as though I traveled through a swamp to get there and we can leave our windows open at home and enjoy the fresh air. I can bake all I want without making our apartment feel like the inside of the oven and there is apple cider at the market again.

I'm a happy girl.

Running is also 1,000 times more pleasant. I love running in shorts and a long sleeve shirt- for me, that indicates that the weather I'm running in is perfect- and I've had a lot of opportunities to do that lately!
On Saturday, I even ran a race! I haven't been training for anything, but my friend Liz was helping out with the race and putting a ton of work into it so I figured I'd go to support what she was doing. The race was the Sprint Four the Cure. That 'four' is not a spelling error- this race was organized by the Four Seasons to raise money for cancer research and it was absolutely a Four Seasons caliber event.

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I loved that they had coffee, water, tea and fruit available before the race. I'm not one to eat or drink much before a run, but its nice to have the option.

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And, after the race? There was this:

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Yes, that is a full on Four Seasons buffet breakfast. This is my kind of race.

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I had eggs, a little bit of hash browns, one of the macaroons, a mini croissant and the OJ. Paul's bakery provided the macaroons and croissants and that "Hippie Crack" granola on the side is from Baked & Wired. I haven't gotten to the granola, but I'll probably be nice and split it with Brian.

The race was in Georgetown, so it was only fitting that Georgetown Cupcake make an appearance. Free cupcakes!

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Yum. I grabbed a chocolate hazelnut. I wasn't really in the mood for dessert that early (surprisingly), so I didn't finish it, but it was great. Reminded me of peanut doughnuts- my favorite!

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blurry :(

As for the race itself, I was pretty happy with my time. I haven't being making any effort to run miles below 9 minute pace since my lung collapsed and so a time of 24:24, at 7:52 pace, was pretty good. The course was a little hilly, but it was a lot of short hills so I didn't have too much time to think about how awful it was before I was already headed downhill.

I'm definitely running this race next year!

The rest of the weekend was fairly boring. Brian was out of town visiting a friend and I did a lot of errands and cleaning. I think our weekends are packed until Christmas, so I was glad to have a chance to get organized.

I have TONS of recipes to share with you, but this post is already a monster so I'll just leave you with a few more pics.

There was a GIANT egg in the carton I picked up at the farmer's market this weekend, so I abandoned my plan to make pumpkin pancakes and decided on eggs. This happened:

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That is ONE egg. I was pumped. Turned it into this to use up some market veggies leftover from the week before:

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Eggs, summer squash, tomatoes, bacon and ketchup on homemade whole wheat tortillas. Coffee on the side. Yum!