Monday, December 22, 2014

Sweet and Spicy Candied Pecans

I included recipe in my Christmas cookie boxes. I made a test batch for us of course. I upped the heat because I wanted to actually taste it. Maybe I should have changed the name to something more Texan-y. Pecans and peppers are very Texan. Bluebonnet? Mighty Bears? Remember the Alamo? I think Sweet and Spicy is a perfectly descriptive name for a really delicious treat.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

It's a Start Oatmeal

This a good basic oatmeal recipe, you can add fruit in the baking or when you reheat it, you can add nuts, yogurt, what have you. Really it is all about ratios. I make some variation every week but alter the volume depending on if DH is eating as well, if we're going out of town, etc. Everything after the flax is just to make a flavored base, I add allspice, clove, etc if I want more of a pie oatmeal, scale back the ginger for DH, stir in a heaping spoonful of nut butter or apple butter, add fruit puree (even sweet potato)...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Hearty Cajun Stew

I'm sure some would argue that this really isn't Cajun but I used blackening seasoning and the Cajun Holy Trinity so good enough for now, I guess. I used Serious Eat's Hearty Winter Vegetable as a base. This recipe produces a stew that I'm pretty happy with just broth (it would probably be better if I used SE's suggested broth recipe but I didn't want to buy more produce.) It definitely benefits from a nice sit after the vegetables all cook.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I promise I've been eating reasonably healthy* but most of our dinners lately have been repeats or duds. But I've also been baking. This is the first in a series for my Christmas cookie trays and may be my favorite. DH really likes these and I think I might make an extra batch to bring down to my in-laws since it seems right up their alley too.

We debated cranberries versus cherries and I'm glad we went with cherries, they give a brighter, sweeter pop to the cookies. You could leave them whole if you went with a bigger cookie of course, but at the same time, chopped gives them a more consistent flavor.

This recipe opens up to a lot of variations - I've provided alterations for a vegan version as well as a non-vegan version (what most people expect from a cookie.) It's the mix-ins that make it. It's really just a variation on my Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies but adapted to make it Christmas-y ... and to use up the several cups of mint I have frozen in the freezer (I underestimated the yield of one bunch and so bought extra.) You'll notice a halved amount of fat. I left 1/4 cup out by accident and it worked so I went with it.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Finally Finished!: Fox and Friends Quilt

It's not the prettiest quilt ever. Even though in theory the heavier quilting cotton should have held up just fine, there was a lot of easing going on and the hand quilting meant that it got stretched in placed. I really do not like the recommended fabric for the binding (Binding Architextures Cross Hatch in Black.) It jars with that solids and natural theme of the animals. I think a less industrial fabric would be better - there was a camping themed collection last year that might have something that could fit. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Power Pup Petals

After making pumpkin bars for thanksgiving (same recipe as I used for Baby Brother's Birthday Box, but with white chocolate and cranberries instead of mini chips) I had some leftover puree. I hate having ingredients go bad, even if it was around 3/4 cup of it. That coupled with really starting Olive's formal training, I decided to making training treats. She has some Petco Pal cookies that I break up but I wanted something I could break up as I went instead of breaking up ahead of time to prevent a delayed reward, also needed something high value that she only gets while training. After looking at a couple of different dog treat recipes and the nutritional information (yes, I'm concerned about my dog's nutrient intake, she's just as active as I am afterall) I came up with the following treat, which gets Olive super-focused...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal

I have a special place for quick breads like banana bread. Rarely has a recipe let me know and they're always well received by others. This combines my usual breakfast with one of my favorite quick breads.
I lightly topped each square with peanut butter

I wanted to switch up our routine and make baked oatmeal instead of my usual big pot of oats. I had made a batch of sweet potato pecan baked oatmeal but it turned out a little too savory for what I wanted. DH voted on this variation next. I won't be making this on a regular basis (there's something comforting about only really needing oats and liquid, although I add chia, cinnamon, and ginger.) This is a middle ground between healthy and dessert.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Baby Brother's Baked Birthday Box

My "baby" brother turned 22 right around the time I had a really bad need to bake, or at least to accomplish something productive (in college this mood hit right around the time of finals when I was slogging through term papers.) So I came up with a list of things I could make with mostly pantry staples (for us.) The results were delicious (we kept a few of each) and very unhealthy. I felt sort of bad sending it since BB has always been concerned with health. I figure he can share them at his weekly yoga/drum/slack line circle (when I wasn't looking he turned into a 6'+ hipster.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Empty-the-Crisper Soup with Pesto

I had a craving for a broth-y soup after feeling pretty run down. It was toward the end of the week so the pantry and crisper was starting to look a little bare. So this is a sort of everyday, empty the pantry sort of soup. It is exactly the sort of soup I crave when getting sick too, bonus it's low in FODMAPs so less likely to upset my GI.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Slightly-Southern Gluten-Free Cornbread

To go with my Smokey Quinoa Chili at the going-away party, I made a loaf of sourdough (King Arthur's Extra-Tangy, as written) and a skillet of cornbread. I'm calling this slightly-Southern because I'm not sweetening but I think the addition of oat flour means it's a little too out there to be true Southern cornbread. For reference, I warmed the loaves up in the oven for a few minutes, wrapped them in fabric napkins and placed them in a bread basket.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Smokey Quinoa Chili

I've been on a soup kick the last few months. We almost always have 2-8 (yes, really) types of soup in the freezer for lunches or a pick-a-soup dinner. This chili has been made quite a few times - at home, at my parents, on vacation with my extended family, for a potluck fiesta going-away party for church (talk about mixing cultures there.) It's not your typical chili, it has beans and no meat so it violates the Texan definition of chili (and the fiesta was for a couple moving back to Texas, oh well, I wanted something that I could eat.) All the same, it's very good, very filling, and I've even added some suggestions in the end to bulk it up even more that start to take it away from chili-land and into Tex-Mex stew land.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Super Autumn Stuffing with Wild Rice and Pomegranates

Stuffing is easily my favorite Thanksgiving dish. Particularly cornbread stuffing (mostly because we didn't really have another option growing up. I had planned on making a fall salad with pomegranates and squash but I was craving stuffing. This isn't cornbread stuffing of course but I like the added texture the rice gives. This is everything autumn stuffed (pardon the pun) into one vegan, gluten-free dish.* I ate it with roasted acorn squash (not a fan) but it would be delicious with really any protein. I think stuffed mushrooms would be fantastic. Or turkey or ham, I guess (do people have have with thanksgiving?) With the red and green aspect, this could definitely go Christmas as well... maybe not at my family's rømmegrøt, seafood chowder, and smoked meat table but at a normal table, sure.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Slow Cooker Dal with Chickpeas and Wild Rice

I've started developing a taste for at least mildly spicy food. I can't handle "Vietnamese Hot" level of spicy as we called at one of our favorite Waco restaurants (which now delivers! That would have been dangerous when we lived in the area, although there's nothing terribly unhealthy there) but one chili pepper level, maybe two. You can play around with the chiles, curry powder, and mustard powder for a spicier dish. I didn't want to have to make a separate pot of rice, so I include it here. It's probably not authentic but it works for a weeknight meal. I really like the texture of soaked chickpeas in this and the crunch of wild rice (the brown rice is for DH.)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Fruity Oaty Bars (Almond Butter and Jelly Bars)

DH insists on calling these Fruity Oaty Bars after the commercial in Serenity. I introduced them at church as simply Almond Butter and Jelly Bars. I don't think we have many Browncoats in our class...


Based off of Oh She Glows's Raspberry Chia Seed Jam Oat Crumble Squares

This was a slightly panicked creation when a Honey Nut Apple Cake was a spectacular fail. Lesson learned, only make one fundamental change in a recipe at a time, not 5. I made a couple changes here but they were much smaller (premade jam, added a dash of honey, used almond butter and vegan butter instead of brown rice syrup and coconut oil, a few measurements were slightly changed.) I needed something to go right that day - my Bears lost, recipe failed, didn't make either of the Howl-o-ween events we planned on going to, my sinuses starting draining the middle of my run making it impossible to breathe, and my previous go-to trouser pattern has completely the wrong curve for my now-much-fitter body. These bars made the day much better.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Olive's Howl-o-ween: Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

We went really nostalgic for this year's Howl-oween. While technically DH and I are the same millennial generation, we're enough apart in age that most of my childhood memories aren't his, with the exception of a a few shows like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? I credit this to the long run it had and the fact it was pretty ageless (we watched a few episodes on youtube and thoroughly enjoyed it, partly for the cheese factor.) I wanted something iconic (do you know how many CS costumes there are out there?) and pretty comfortable for Olive. Carmen's red fedora and trench and her yellow* turtleneck fit the bill.
Fun Fact: Season 1 of the game show was not entered into syndication, even though seasons 2 through 5 were. Why? Geography changed too much between Season 1 and 2... the Soviet Block collapsed.

This was a somewhat lazy costume compared to her BUGWB uniform. Lazy in that I used a commercial pattern as a base for the jacket and legwarmers for the turtleneck dickey. The hat was not lazy but I now have a go to for canine fedoras should I ever need it (because everyone needs one of those, right?) The jacket pattern needs more tweaking, you'll notice the fit issues in the profile shots.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Turtle Cake

I try to make a cake for DH's birthday every year. Past few years it's usually been the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake that has become the go-to for my family. However that is very much not new diet-friendly. But DH loves pecans... and he loves chocolate, so why not a turtle cake? Caramel is traditionally made with cream which is never a goo idea for me. So it took a little creativity and internet searching.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Moroccan Shepherd's Pie (Vegan and Traditional Versions)

I think I've mentioned before how fantastic our local farmer's markets are. The one we go to is in Falls Church and always has great produce and several stands for fish, meat, cheese, bread, pickles, yarn, and even two soap/skin care stands. We've rarely gotten anything outside of produce but there's a Mennonite family who has a baked goods and meat stand that I knew stocked lamb and DH loves lamb. I've gotten whoopie pies from them before when I didn't want to bake a whole batch but had a craving. I was very pleased, tasted A LOT like home. They also have sticky buns, which are apparently a regional thing? Anyway, lamb, DH loves it, they had it, this seemed the perfect recipe to make that allows us each to have our dietary preferences.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Vanilla Bean Maple Applesauce

 Left is purred, Right is left fairly chunky and with a dash ground cinnamon

This is not the kind of applesauce you typically get in the store, for good reason. Now I could have gotten an excellent jarred sauce from the stand where I bought the apples, or the other good apple vendor next to them, but I wanted homemade applesauce. Now that I have it out of my system, I'll pick up a jar or two once these are polished off. That shouldn't take too long. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Eggplant Rollatini with Roasted Vegetables

Influenced by Veggie Belly's Vegan Eggplant Rollatini with Couscous and Pinenuts. I can't leave well enough along and wanted more fiber, protein, and texture to the dish. DH wasn't thrilled about the fiber idea, he had a bad run-in with Thai Spaghetti Squash dish I need to tweak a little more, but in the end it worked out. I was going to serve a salad on the side but I think with the all the vegetables in the middle, that's just overkill for the two of us. If I were to make this for a dinner party or for family, I would add a side green salad, maybe some sort of crusty bread, and maybe a chickpea salad.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

This was influenced by The Food Lab's Science of the Chocolate Chip Cookie and Half Baked Harvest's Mom's Simple Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. The only other chocolate chip cookie recipe I liked used pudding mix and I needed to use only what we had in the pantry- and allow for experimentation with the Food Lab article I had read that afternoon. This is the result. Poor Olive was going crazy hearing "cookie" mentioned over and over. Note, these are definitely on the cake-y side of the cookie world, if you prefer a gooier, flatter cookie, melt the butter substitute and use baking soda instead of baking powder.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Baked Falafel and Homemade Tzatziki

I've tried fried falafel, both homemade and at restaurants and while they're good - the oil upsets my stomach (no surprise there, what doesn't these days.) There are a number of recipes out there for falafel both baked and fried, so I cobbled a number together to make a mostly baked version. DH and I both liked the result. I had mine on a salad but DH had his on tortilla (I know pitas are traditional but I didn't want the extras hanging around the house and we needed tortillas for another meal that week.) Using Tori Avey's notes on cooking chickpeas, I used only soaked chickpeas for this recipe to let them have a better chance of holding together. I've made this with canned as well but tried frying them, let's just say our frying technique needs a little (lot) of work, not something we'll probably get around to improving unless I'm really craving fasnachts one year.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Super Rich Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

This is another not-quite-healthy quick breads. The texture is akin to a very soft cake really. I made this for church the same week I made the Stained Glass Cake-Bread. No one thought it had zucchini bread, in fact one person who said she hated zucchini bread said she loved it, even after hearing there was zucchini in it! (might have something to do with all of the chocolate- just a thought) It's a really simple bread to throw together. If it were a bit more substantial I would suggest it as a bake sale item, I think with almond meal instead of flour it could go gluten free, and it's already vegan (if you use a vegan brown sugar.) I wonder how it would go in a muffin pan instead...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Stained Glass Cake-Bread

I don't think it's a surprise that the Library is one the
most popular place on campus for weddings
, when it's full of
windows like these

I call it the Stained Glass Cake-Bread for two reasons:

1. I agree with Big Bear's Wife that it does look a bit like stained glass and I think of three places with stained glass- the chapel where DH and I had our ceremony, our current church, and the Armstrong-Browning Library at Baylor. I was going to call this the Armstrong-Browning Cake-Bread but somehow that seemed like more of a mouthful.
2. The batter isn't quite a straight quick bread. It reminds me a lot of a shortcake. But I baked in a loaf pan and it was originally labeled bread, so I'll call it a Cake-Bread.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Spaghetti Squash with Oyster Mushrooms and Artichoke Pesto Tomato Sauce

We had this as a first dinner after getting back from Labor Day. While we didn't eat as unhealthy as we usually do on family vacations*, it was nice to have something healthier and lighter and full of veggies when we got home. It's not the prettiest because of the mushrooms darkening the sauce to a muddier color but this isn't a dinner party meal anyway.

This recipe is a bit seasonally confused. Winter/fall spaghetti squash and artichokes, summer tomatoes and seasonless oyster mushrooms.  Our Harris Teeter stocks spaghetti squash year round and with the freezer and canning most stores stock artichoke hearts in some form. The tomatoes came from my aunt's garden and the mushrooms from the HT produce section but normally I would use mushrooms from the mushroom stand at the farmer's market (found out it is/was ranked top in the country in it's size category- totally deserved, it has a fantastic selection.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Grilled Med Salad with Greek-inspired Dressing

During this diet change, I've discovered I really like international foods more. Sure before, we had Chinese take out and went to Bangkok Royal and Clay Pot in Waco but I always got Pad Thai and the Chicken Clay Pot. Even "Mediterranean", which admittedly isn't often that crazy as far as difference goes, was snubbed beforehand. I still don't have a container of pomegranate molasses in the pantry but we do have two overflowing racks of spices on the counter now. I will say going mostly vegan has caused a greater appreciation for the use of spices.

Vegetables marinated in homemade greek dressing make a fantastic base for a filling dish - Crossing The DelebearGrilled Mediterranean Salad, based loosely off of 

 This is not a pretty salad once all combined but it tastes fantastic, it also looks much nicer when just the veggies are laid out fresh off the grill. I did make quite
 a few changes to the recipe to reflect our tastes and where I saw some gaps.

First things first, thanks to the Oh She Glows cookbook, we've started marinating veggies for at least 30 mn before grilling to get better flavor. So usually around mid-afternoon I'll chop or slice the vegetables as needed and pour the dressing over everything and let them stew, turning carefully every hour or so, as time allowed.

We discovered the other week that we love artichoke hearts. It's a sweeter vegetable and tastes *fantastic* grilled so we doubled the amount of artichoke hearts.

The dressing I made is based off of Zoe's Kitchen but minus the canola oil and with a lazy herb mix. 

Instead of using just plain chickpeas, I make spiced roasted chickpeas using the same spice blend as the dressing. 

I also tossed the farro in garlic and salt. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Smokey Barbeque Chickpeas and Zucchini Corn Fritters

I'm proud of this recipe. I took a couple of recipes floating around and tweaked them, especially for the fritters. The chickpeas were based off a recipe from The Salad Ninja. I bulked up that recipe with onions becuase why not? The fritters remind me of a no-cholesterol version of Texas Corn Pudding (which I miss so much.) One of the nice thing about cutting out meat and eggs is I rarely have to worry about cross contamination or E.Coli from undercooked eggs (E. Coli is a concern with mung beans, sprouts, and similar though.)

This isn't a super quick meal unless you prep the fritter batter the night before. Definitely drain the onion and zucchini well. Extra liquid makes it hard for the fritters to hold together. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fox & Friends Quilt

This spring I wanted some sort of sewing project but since I wasn't at my goal fitness (right around where I am now) I didn't want to sew anything since my size was changing and I was mourning the loss of several pieces to being too big to even bother altering. My cousin has an obsession with foxes and really, I wanted a fun light project, so this seemed like a good pattern to try out.

Fox and Friends Pattern by Sew Fresh Quilts, purchased as a kit through Mad About Patchwork

I haven't bound this quilt yet for whatever reason but I can at least comment on the pattern.

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

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.

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.

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.