Saturday, August 30, 2014

Spiced Roasted Chickpea Variations

When I started my diet change I bought a bag of spiced roasted chickpeas. They were okay but it wasn't amazing. A couple of months ago, I decided to give them a second chance. It was worth it. Usually I have a problem of struggling to make sure the chickpeas make the dinner table. Not sure that's a bad problem to have. There are endless variations too. We've only made savory variations but I imagine sweet variations might be a good option (cinnamon sugar, maybe?) I made a list of so-far untested (by me) variations to get you going on thinking of your own.

Roasted spiced chickpeas offer a variety of variations - Crossing the Delebear

What you need:
Cooked chickpeas (I soak, cook, and freeze my own according to these instructions)
High smoke point oil (I use sunflower oil, many recipes call for olive oil but you're losing the nutrients and flavor and risk smoke cooking at this high of a temperature)
Silpat or Tin Foil on a jelly roll pan (DH informs me calling it tin foil is a regional thing, whatever you call the silver-colored metal sheets, use that)

Basic Instructions:
Pre-heat your oven to 400F.
Place your chickpeas in a medium bowl
Drizzle a little bit of oil over the chickpeas (I use maybe 2 tsp for 1.5 cups), toss to coat.
Sprinkle your spices over the chickpeas. Toss to coat. You want to be able to see the seasoning.
Dump the chickpeas on your lined pan, spread out.
Bake for 20 minutes, shake to roll the chickpeas around
Bake for 20-25 minutes more. I found a longer bake time keeps the chickpeas crunchier longer
Let sit for 5-10 minutes before eating.

Oh She Glow's Salt and Vinegar Chickpeas - I felt the vinegar could be heavier but still good
Greek Dressing Chickpeas- Italian Herbs, Dried Basil, Salt, Pepper
Felafel Chickpeas- Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Dried Parsley, Cumin, Paprika, Salt
Basic Spiced Chickpeas- Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Salt, Pepper, Oregano

Untested Variations:
Sour Cream and Onion - onion powder, garlic powder, dried parsley, dried green onion and/or chives, nutritional yeast or cheese powder
Cinnamon Sugar - cinnamon, sugar (watch this one for burning, maybe hold off toss them in sugar until partly baked)
BBQ - liquid smoke, onion powder, garlic powder, sweet paprika, chili powder, salt, smidge brown sugar
Crab Bake- Old Bay or follow this recipe to make your own (
Curry- Yellow Curry, Garam Masala, Paprika
Gumbo- Bouillon cube (crushed for powder), onion powder, garlic powder, file, celery seed, cayenne
Japanese take out - crushed nori, ginger, garlic powder, sesame seed

I think taking inspiration from your favorite potato chip flavors would be good, maybe not the weird Lay's flavors they have out but then Japanese take out could be like their Wasabi Ginger so who knows

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Stuffed Monsters

Easy to design and sew - Crossing The Delebear
My cousin's angel of a daughter turns one in September. Seriously, this child is perfect. We went on vacation with them and her fussy is a normal child's good day. This is the who my mom and I made this quilt for last year (part one, part two.) So when my cousin asked if I would be willing to sew a couple of stuffed monsters for a Pink Monster themed birthday party, I was happy to. It helped that I was waiting for fabric for a quilt to arrive and I had nothing better to do with my time.

She asked for bright versions of yellow, purple, blue, and pink. She had a couple of requests in terms of what some looked like but otherwise I had artistic freedom. The dog-earred monsters were closely based off a commercial brand but the others are looser. My favorite is the cyclops and the sort of adipose-like ones. My cousin seems really pleased, my parents visited them the other week and she told my mom I should market them. I don't think that's going to happen as straight plushies but maybe one day I'll open an etsy shop selling dog accessories and plush chew toys.

I made my own patterns but I can walk you through the process.

For 8 stuffies here's what you'll need:
1 1/2-2 yards of fleece, I used polar and non-pilling. You will have left overs
Sheets of craft felt in accent colors (black, white, and whatever compliments your fleece colors)
8-10 oz poly-fil
black embroidery floss
variety of thread to match fleece/felt
stuffing stick (comes with the poly-fil)

To make a pattern:

The basic shape for half of the monsters were pear shaped. The top shape varies depending on how many eyes you want the monster to have. Plan on loosing 1-1/2" in height and width to the stuffing. I made my pattern 8 1/2" high
Plan out what features you want the monster to have - horns, eyes, mouth, spots, hands, feet, etc. Decide if you want them attached (harder to turn and stuff) or flat sewn (easier but maybe harder for little hands to hold onto.) Sketch those onto the pattern.
Add a 1/4" seam allowance.

How to Sew:

Trace the pattern on to the fleece and cut.
Cut out the felt for teeth, iris, eye whites, mouth, arms, hands, etc. You need double layers of felt for horns, and flat limbs
sew teeth and iris to the mouth and eyes respectively. I hand stitched these but you might be able to machine sttich them.
Machine stitch the spots, mouth, and eyes to the body.
Sew the horns inside out, turn and stuff. Sew the end shut for ease of attaching.
Sandwich the horns and limbs so that they point toward the center of the fleece sandwich (remember you're turning it inside out).
Stitch all the way around, leaving ~1 1/2-2" unsewn to turn.
Stuff the ears and arms as you're sewing, it's easier, trust me.
Turn the whole plushie and stuff.
Secure the opening with a ladder stitch.

Each monster takes about an hour start to finish but I did it assembly line style broken up over a week. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Philly Portobello Steak Sandwich

Starting off again with a recipe that should make both veggie lovers and people like my dad (who rose a fuss if a meal doesn't clearly contain MEAT, in all caps) happy. I say should because some people just can't be pleased. 

Easy and filling weeknight dinner - Crossing The DelebearThis is based off of Veggies Don't Bite's Philly Portobello Steak Sandwich, though I didn't change that much from the original recipe in all honesty.

DH had a mushroom craving so he really wanted this, especially since it was easy to un-veganize (he added provolone slices to his sandwich.) I never had a taste for the real cheese steak- never being a steak fan and not agreeing with cheese so I can't really compare to the real deal (I also don't like going into Philly so...)

We used Harris Teeter wheat rolls but I found them dry and not crusty enough to hold up. I think a whole wheat french loaf or some sort of hearty bread would be a better option. Next time I think I'll use a modified version of the Basic Bread from the Soup and Bread Cookbook.  Made a whole wheat oatmeal loaf variation the other day that had a fantastic crust.

Here's what you need for 4 generous servings or 5-6 reasonable servings:

1 tablespoon olive oil (give or take)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4 portobello caps, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 small green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
3 cups baby spinach, thinly sliced
1-2 Anaheim peppers, thinly sliced 
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
pinch salt
pinch pepper
2-3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast*
2-3 tablespoons of whole wheat flour
1/2 cup vegetable or no-chicken broth
4 hearty, crusty rolls
2-3 slices Provolone per sandwich (for those that can have dairy) 

In a large skillet heat the oil over medium, to medium-high heat. 
Saute the garlic for 2-3 minutes. 
Add all vegetables/fruit. Cook, stirring occasionally until the peppers look on the softer side of tender crisp and the mushrooms have released most of their liquid. 
Add the parsley, salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast. 
Add broth and flour. Cook, stirring regularly until the sauce is fairly thick. The thinner the sauce, the soggier your roll (this is personal preference, I hate soggy rolls.)
Cut your rolls to personal preference. DH likes a trencher like cut with the cutout wedge being placed on top of the pepper mess, I like a side wedge cut out and more of the filling pulled out for a better bread to pepper ratio. 
If you want cheese, place that down before the peppers, an additional slice can be placed on top to hold it all in. Wrapping the rolls in waxed paper wouldn't be a bad idea.

*I used homemade vegan parm, made of mostly equal parts nutritional yeast and raw cashew, processed together, but the cashew didn't really add to the recipe so straight nutritional yeast should be enough.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An End to the Radio Silence

On Monday I had my 9 month follow up with my PCP and realized I've left this space vacant for pretty much that entire span. I didn't mean for 9-ish months to go by without posting anything new. Oops...
First things first, I finished my master's program this spring!

It would be nice if graduation robes had more defined sizing other than "<250lbs"

The last nine months saw weight loss in both DH and I (he's been averaging about a pound a week for the last year and a half- meaning his ideal weight is less than a year away!), severe drop in my cholesterol (125 points off my total, 85 off my triglycerides, and 105 off my LDL), an increase in fitness (the last time I was this in shape was when I was training as starting midfield- over a decade ago), and... an increase in Olive's weight. Her allergies got so bad that she was put on prednisone based pill so she puffed right up to a very unreasonable weight which refuses to go away with diet and exercise changes.

Still as scruffy as ever

Also because of the combination of new diet and exercise, none of my me-made clothes fit. In fact, I've replaced 95% of my wardrobe since the beginning of the year. It was jump started by AA losing my luggage over Christmas and doing some emergency shopping to not wear the same shirt and jeans for a week and a half (luggage eventually showed up.) Some of my patterns have a restricted size range so I need to replace those as I find time (first was my Smooth Sailing pattern, I miss those trousers a lot.) Part of this process of replacing my wardrobe is really looking at my career goals and how I want to be perceived. I mostly replaced my clothes with second hand clothes since:
A. I have no idea what kind of museum I will be in - or in what level of position (I've applied to everything from local farm museums to federal museums to private art collections)
B.  I have no idea what the climate with be like where we are living (applied to all four corners of the continental US)
C. A & B throws out most of my expectations a year ago.
D. My body is still changing and I'm getting used to a new shape (proportions changed a little.)
E. I'm still wrestling between how to blend my ideal with my reality (vintage and practical don't always got hand in hand, especially when reality is moldy books, grave wax, and chain grease.)
Because these will change as time goes on and I find out where I'll be working, garment sewing has been put on the back-burner. Instead, I've worked on more quilting and some small sewing projects, . Also, DH and my dad built me a fantastic sewing table. Pictures have to wait for that as they built it at my parents' house.
You'll meet these guys in a little bit
I promise I have some posts written already so there should be less radio silence, at least for a little while. At worst I can ramble about my decorating plans for our new house (we are getting a house, I'm very much done with our condo HOA, sharing walls, and multi-unit fire protection systems*) and review Olive's training gear (yes, she has gear.) Expect a good number of colorful meals, that are low cholesterol, low processed carb, and very filling (even meat-lover DH is okay with most of them.)

*There were quite a few 3-5am fire alarms this summer, some went on for hours. The fire department won't even come for the first 45 minutes, they're so done with it all.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Butternut Squash and Sage Pasta

Historically, I haven't been the biggest squash fan. I was talking to the other intern the other week who is vegetarian and she was appalled. I decided to give it another try. And now I love it.

I didn't change that much to the recipe from The Kitchn. What I did change:
- Added a little more sage to the roasting mix
- Extended the roasting mix by 5-7 minutes
- Used a nonstick dutch oven for frying
- Cut the pasta frying time from 5 to 3 because I didn't want too much oil
- Eliminated the cheese (I suppose I could use nutritional yeast but I haven't yet picked it up yet)
- I did not salt the fried sage

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pecan Pie Muffins and Apple Pie Bars

These will probably some of the last normal recipes I'll be posting/reviewing for the next few months. I have to go essentially vegan until at least mid-February for my cholesterol (yes, at 23, I won the genetic lottery) so that means a lot creative food planning.

Anyway, these two recipes are not so healthy, but they are delicious. We brought snacks in for church and I wanted two different types of treats (plus fruit). They even got rave reviews from the self-proclaimed foodie in the class.

This is what was left after class.

So first, pecan pie muffins. I would say these are significantly healthier than actual pecan pie. My conservation group was my guinea pigs and they all liked them, so I figured they were safe for church. I used the recipe from Mennonite Girls Can Cook (the name makes me giggle growing up in LancCo)

Things I changed: I doubled the recipe and used a Calphalon mini-muffin pan. It didn't make a full pan, I think I was 2 short. 

The Apple Pie Bars are from Smitten Kitchen, she calls it a slab pie which might be more descriptive but oh well.

Things I changed: 
I used store bought dough (4 disks) because I realized the muffins weren't enough and there was no way I was making pie dough at 9 at night. 
I also used a slightly smaller and deeper pan, creating a deeper, slightly goopier pie.
I played around with the Apple Cider Drizzle because I couldn't get the right consistency.
I crimped the pie edges with a fork. 
DH ate the leftover raw dough (I think that's gross and weird)

Other Thoughts: Use the parchment paper! Made cleanup - and serving - so much easier.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

So things got a little busy....

So here's what happened-
I have yet to finish Olive's Sherlock costume, the fabric for Carment Sandiego is still on the roll, and Olive rewore her BUGWB uni for trick or treating (no dedicated contests this year)
I registered for my last semester of grad school, I have 2 days left in my last internship, and I'm finalizing the edits on my writing requirement (my program's version of a thesis)
I had some less than stellar news from my physical that further constricts my diet, but knowing family history it really shouldn't have been a surprise
Olive competed in two Herding Instinct Tests and Q'd on Saturday. While I think she did better on Sunday, it wasn't enough for a second Q and we may just leave that title unfinished; the trials are kind of far away (out past my barn) and she's not going to competitive at herding. Upside is the first judge called her "The Pretty One!"

This is her "I want that cookie your promised" face

I now have a sewing list of fabric and patterns I already have on hand:
1. Mom's flannel nightgown
2. DH's plaid negroni (sort of regreting my choice of fabrics but we'll see how it goes)
3. Altering a knit skirt and breeches
4. Olive and my Sherlock Holmes pieces
5. Spring 1930s blouse for me (using a Miss Depew pattern)
6. Olive's Carmen Sandiego costume

I also have a couple of recipe reviews to post, too