Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Crush on Cooking Channel

Recently The Cooking Channel began running the special The Veg Edge. It's all about the amazingness of vegetarian and vegan fare across America. What I loved so much is that they show a wide variety of eaters from meat lovers to flexitarians to vegetarians to vegans celebrating how freakin' amazing plant based meals can be. Vegetables are beautiful and delicious and give us everything we need. I even got to catch a glimpse of one of my vegan heroes, Isa from The Post Punk Kitchen, in action! Personally my spirit has changed since eliminating animal products from my diet. I feel a lightness I have never felt before! I also don't fear carbs or holidays anymore. I am overwhelmed and delighted that The Cooking Channel would devote a whole special to veggie cooking! I am crossing my fingers that they will receive enough postive feedback to bring in a vegetarian/vegan cooking show.

Please check it out. I dare your belly not grumble. You can still catch it January 1st at 9amEST and January 2nd at 7pmEST.

Eat your veggies in 2011 folks! It's easier than you think. At my Christmas dinner this year my in-laws had THREE vegan friendly dishes at the table without even trying!!! YES!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


So I am officially drowned. I feel neither holly nor jolly. I try to remember the reason for the season and play holiday music, but alas...stress has taken over! It blows my mind how I can be so inceredibly busy and not be working on a show. I have so many projects and tasks at my day job that are colliding. In order to have quiet uninterrupted time to get work done, I worked until almost 8pm on Friday. Saturday I had an audition then headed to the suburbs for a family Christmas event, returning home at 11pm. Today I wanted nothing more than to have a sweet sweet day of being a hermit and hiding under my favorite comforter watching Love Actually, but alas, I had errands to run, a personal project I must get finished, and basically had no choice but to go up to my day job office to get some work pounded out in the 2.5 days left before I am on Christmas vacation. I can't sleep because my mind won't turn off with all that I have to get done. I realized last week that what makes me so crazy is the fact that I used to be able to finish all of my daily tasks and come in the next day and start over again. Now there is so much to be done that  have an ongoing list that never seems to end. I like putting things to bed. I don't like not being able to wrap things up with a pretty bow and have it be done.

So, I crave things like salty baked Ruffles. Luckily I made the bag I bought last several days (which would have never happened before) so that is a win. However,with my new cleaner system, I have come to learn that my body can no longer handle Olean oil. I will spare you the details, but my body revolted. Yep. Even in my stress (and PMS) I am still keeping myself relatively in check. I need to watch reaching for the wine bottle to often, but really my vegan lifestyle helps at times like this. I simply can't have many off the treats overflowing at events and parties and instead stick with veggies and hummus. And no, I don't really deprived because I know all of those treats and eats would make me feel bloaty and weighed down and gross. 

I haven't been to yoga in three weeks and feel guilty and failurey about it. I've been working late most nights and even though I could rush and make an 8:30pm class, I am so drained I just can't do it. I am hoping to get back on the wagon the week after Christmas when I have some free time, but for now I am disappointed in the myself and the situation.

Off to work a project.

How do you beat holiday stress?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Curb Your Cravings: A Self Mag Article

Hmmm......visualizing yourself feasting on treats to keep from eating too many? I love all things Self Magazine so I am very intrigued. I wonder if this works for foods I no longer eat. Mmmm......cruelty free mind salmon .....nommmmm. Pass the mind queso....mmm.....

A surprising new way to curb cravings: SELF.com

Have you tried this? Does it work for you? I am giving it a whirl!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I am not a baker. Too many rules. If you don't follow instructions exactly you get a lopsided mess. Nevertheless, last week I happily baked.

Dec 6th 2007 is one of my least favorite days ever. My handsome Gramps left us too soon that day, and I don't like it one bit. Every Christmas my mom would make Gramps a pound cake, so I associate them with him. In 08 and 09 we drank a cup of coffee in Gramps' honor from his Fire King Anchor Hocking mugs. This year I wanted to add pound cake to the tradition. To the net! I found a simple vegan pound cake recipe on ehow.com:

Simple Ingredients:
2 c cake flour
3/4 c maple syrup
1 tsp salt
1 package (16oz) soft tofu
1 tbsp baking powder
1tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees if you are using a metal pan, or 325 degrees if you are using a glass pan.
2. Lightly grease a cake or loaf pan.
3. Mix together two cups of cake flour, one tablespoon of baking powder and one teaspoon of salt, and set aside.
4. Blend together 3/4 cup maple syrup, 16 ounces of soft tofu (about two cups) and one teaspoon each of vanilla extract and almond extract, using an electric blender.
5. Stir the flour mixture into the tofu mixture by hand until well blended. Add any additional flavoring, fruit or citrus zest, if desired.
6. Pour the batter into the cake pan.
7. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. When done, the cake will be golden brown and springy to the touch.

Not too shabby folks. It sort of tasted like the cake version of a sugar cookie. I would definitely make it again and perhaps ice it. I love that you can change up extracts and add different zest to change up the flavor! It comes out perfectly moist too! No oil. No butter. Huzzah! Mr. BB30 and I ate some for breakfast with a special mug of coffee.

Here's to you Gramps!

Friday, December 3, 2010

My First Vegan Thanksgiving

Ok Blogger, I think I have your picture posting issues defeated. You've kept  me from my Thanksgiving post long enough!

I knew I'd nailed down one of my dishes for Thanksgiving (the oh so delicious glazed acorn squash), but I was still uncertain about the rest. While I was on vacation I caught an episode of Ellen (adore her) and she had her personal chef on making a faux turkey roast. As I am not the biggest fan of processed Tofurky I was intrigued. I made it the day after we got home and it was a winner. I made it again the night before Thanksgiving:

4 Cups vital wheat gluten
1 Cup bread crumbs
1 Cup nutritional yeast
3 Tablespoon dried thyme
1 large onion small dice and caramelized
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
½ Cup extra virgin olive oil
4 Cups strong No Chicken, chicken stock (veggie stock)
1 full sheet of cheesecloth
Butcher's twine
Paul Prudhomme's Blackened Steak Magic spices (couldn't find it-I made my own by Googling)
Earth Balance butter

Caramelize the onions over medium heat until they are golden brown. Add the onions to the dry ingredients and mix.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon (I used my KitchenAid mixer as you can see) until a loose batter forms. Shape the batter into a loaf.

Unroll about 24" of cheesecloth on to a clean dry surface. Unfold the cloth completely and then fold it in half to form a two-ply piece of cloth.

Place the loaf in the middle of cloth and roll it up, leaving enough space to tie off at both ends.

Now tie two more pieces of twine over the center of the roast.

Place the roast into a large pot of boiling water and simmer for at least two hours.

Carefully remove the cheesecloth and place the roast on a small sheet tray and rub the roast with Earth Balance butter and sprinkle with blackening spices. Bake roast at 350 for 20+ minutes or until golden brown. Allow roast to rest a few minutes before slicing.

It comes out juicy and delightful! Trust me! Trust Ellen!

I also made fresh cranberry sauce. I used my pretend friend Alicia Silverstone's recipe from The Kind Life as a guide.

Bag of raw cranberries (4 cups)
1/2 cup maple syrup (I used Trader Joe's Maple/Agave blend)
Juice from 1 orange (I didn't have OJ so I used 1/4c Pom Wonderful dilluted in 1/4c water)

Rinse berries
Transfer to large sauce pan and add syrup, juice and an additional 1/4c of water
Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stir often
When mixture comes to a boil reduce heat, cover, and boil gently until berries pop (10 mins or so)
Chill for an hour before serving

DELISH! This is a thick mixture, so it also makes for a yummy spread for toast! No need for processed canned cranberry sauce-EVER!

Glazed acorn squash, a refreshing fennel and spinach salad w/peach vinagerette (courtesy of my in-laws), and faux turkey roast w/fresh cranberry sauce. My mouth was happy and I didn't feel bloated, weighed down, or remorseful. Yay!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Week On the Beach

I'm baaaaack!

Seven days of sunshine and sand in Mexico have done this body good. I feel very blessed that my in-laws are members of a time share thus affording Mr. BB30 and I to get rad discounts for trips like this (I've mentioned before that I have been working hard on my savings). Otherwise, I would still be one very pale girl and my bikinis would still be in my dresser.

It actually took me a couple of days to relax and let the real world wash off of me, but I told myself that certain people, situations, and projects were not invited on my trip, and soon I was a vactioning pro.

We started out on a early flight out. I was intrigued by the individual movie/tv situation on the plane and had to give it a try. For some ridiculous reason I thought My Sister's Keeper was a good choice. Dumb move. I call the following picture: Why Am I Watching A Cancer Movie on Vacation?

I hate spoilers, so I don't want to ruin it for anyone else. Please private message me if you read this book and also saw the movie. I did and I have things to say!

Finally we arrived and were greeted with a hibiscus drink.

My best guess at the formula was one part flower and one thousand parts sugar. Holy Diabetes Batman! I enjoyed a couple of sips, but that was good enough for me.

C'mon BB30, get to the food! Did you starve to death?

Our room had a small kitchen in it and a little grocery store in the complex so this was our first stop after dropping our bags off in our room. Not only was the situation great for my wallet, but it was great for my health! Magically, they had my high protein/high fiber Kashi cereal AND almond milk. I was actually very surprised. We tended to make a bigger breakfast and have a snack in the afternoon, so my morning meal mostly consisted of cereal, a corn tortilla with vegetarian refriend beans and a cup of cinnamon coffee.

We didn't realize this was cinnamon coffee when we bought it, but it turned out be a delicious treat!

Much to our dismay, the we learned that the trip we booked did not include use of the fitness center without extra fees. Yipes! Extra fees? I'm on a budget people! When we went to this resort for our honeymoon we had nailed down a great routine of working in a midday trip to the gym to work off all of our guacamole y cervezas. It was great and we didn't return home feeling tubby. However we didn't let this get us down and committed to finding fitness alternatives. So each day (some times a couple off times a day) we went for a walk on the beach. We would walk for a few miles in the ocean and let the water work as resistance and turn around and make our way back. We would play in the ocean, read, rest, snack (usually the aforementioned guacamole), walk, hit the pool for laps and order some half price happy hour drinks and walk some more. Basically we adhered to the rule that if we ate or drank then got up and moved afterward. One day we decided to rent bikes (super cheap) and rode all over the resort's country club. It was so great to be getting exercise and fresh air and getting an up close and personal look at some of the gorgeous modern Mexican architecture.

You: So you just ate cereal, torillas, beans, guac and booze the whole time?
Me: Heck no!

One day we ventured into downtown Puerto Vallarta (we were staying in sort of a suburb where a string of resorts are). We stopped for lunch at a little open air restaurant and of course nothing was immediately animal product free. I talked to our nice waiter and asked if I could have some pasta and vegetables sauteed with oil (not butter) and he happily obliged. It was a delight! I call this picture: Suuure, Vegans Can't Eat Anything Good.
I kept myself in check (it was pasta after all) and took about 2/3rds of it back with me. We returned to our home base, took a walk and soaked up the rest of the day's sun, and Mr. BB30 suggested we stay in and cook up a vegan feast. I was so thrilled and touched that he wanted to share a vegan meal with me (we typically cook side by side and eat different things). We added a little extra pasta and more vegetables (carrots, zucchini, onions, mushrooms) to my leftover lunch and the result was muy delicioso!

Other great dinners I had were vegetable fajitas (para no queso) and a yummy lighter take on a veggie burrito that was full of meaty grilled eggplant and bell peppers. Super flavorful even without cheese. But speakingof cheese, oh how tempting was all the fresh cheese Mr.BB30 got at the grocery store!

All the cheese was so tempting but I stayed strong. One night I had a few bites of mussel that were underwhelming. I thought maybe the protein would do me good and I reasoned that they don't think or really feel. Blech. No thanks, I'll stick to how I am doing things.

On our bike riding adventure we stopped off at a little roadside restaurant we enjoyed last time we were there so Mr. BB30 could enjoy some tacos.
I really thought I wouldn't be able to get anything, but when I asked if there was a taco they could make me the man asked if I would like portabellos and spinach and onions sauteed in olive oil on a corn tortilla. Si, por favor! Was I really at a roadside eatery? Behold:
These were small little guys, only about six inches across and a few bites each so it made for a perfect little lunch and fueled us for the rest of our bike ride. So well seasoned and so well appreciated! Oh wait, I am not done. They brought out some freshly concocted salsa/relish hybrids. I must create these on my own!
This one was sort of a pickled relish and salsa combo with marinated cucumbers, sunflower seeds, bell peppers, whole peppercorns, onions, and crack.

This one was a pineapple salsa with onions and hot orange peppers, onions, and magic.

I could have taken a fork to these two condiment bowls and been happy. The flavor was just ridiculous and everything was so fresh!

We returned our bikes and spent the rest of the afternoon swimming and sunning. We decided to cook another dinner in our room. I volunteered to be the chef so Mr. BB30 could relax.

I chopped some potatoes, onions, garlic, and pablano pepper to sautee...
...thinly sliced some zucchini to pan fry/grill....
..and steamed carrots and mixed them with black beans. Voila! A hearty vegan feast!
Yep, that's chips and guac. I was on vacation!

Oh...and I wore a bikini everyday!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Oh Blogger

Dear Blogspot,

Really, why oh why must you make posting pictures so difficult now? I have spent hours trying to deal with you and get my vacation post up. Please go back to normal so I do not have to move to another blog server.


Friday, November 12, 2010


Soon I will embark on my trip where I will wear a bikini every day and all of my hard work will be fully realized. While I feel like I am constantly working my way toward my best body and self, it will be scary and exciting and hopefully supremely rewarding to walk a warm beach in a bikini for the first time. I got a little warm up this summer for a few minutes on Lake Michigan, but soon, THE BIG TIME.

I'll be sure to share pics when I return!

Love to you all!



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thanksgiving Test Drive

Blogger was on the fritz yesterday and unable to load pictures, so I was sad not to get to share this yesterday. It's back now, so here we go! Drumroll........One of my Thanksgiving dishes has been solidified!

Sunday night after arriving home an hour later than expected (grr), I got to work on Fast, Fresh & Green's Vanilla and Cardamom Glazed Acorn Squash Rings.

1 small acorn squash (1 to 1.25 lbs)
2 T. unsalted butter, plus 2 t. more if needed (I used Earth Balance)
2 t. pure maple syrup (I used a Trader Joe's Maple Syrup/Agave blend)
1.5 t. vanilla extract
1/8 t. ground cardamom (I didn't want to spend $15 on something I would only use 1/8 teaspoon of, so I googled alternatives and used cinnamon)
Kosher salt (I used sea salt)

1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Line a large (18x13x1-inch) heavy-duty rimmed sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper.

2. With a sharp chef's knife, cut the acorn squash in half lengthwise (though both the stem end and the pointy end). Scrape out the seeds and fibers with a spoon.
2. Put each half, cut side down, on a cutting board. Slice off about 3/4-inch from each end, and discard. Slice the squash crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick half-rings. If you want, you can trim away any remaining fibers from the rings by running a paring knife around the inside of each. Put the half-rings on the parchment paper.
3. In a small sauce pan, melt the 2 tablespoons butter over low heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the maple syrup, vanilla, and cardamom. Stir well. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the squash pieces with a little less than half of the mixture. Season the pieces very lightly with salt and turn them over. Brush this side with more of the mixture, but reserve about 1 tablespoon for brushing on after cooking. (If using a larger squash and you wind up with less than 1 tablespoon of liquid, add 1 to 2 teaspoons more butter to the saucepan). Season the tops very lightly with salt.
4. Roast the squash for 12 minutes. Use tongs to flip the pieces over. Continue to roast until they are nicely browned (the bottoms with be browner than the tops) and tender when pierced with a paring knife, 10 to 12 minutes. Flip the piecces over again when they come out of the oven so that the browner side is up.

The squash was in the oven for only a few minutes before the essence of fall filled my kitchen and livingroom. It was heavenly!

5. Reheat the butter mixture briefly over low heat if necessary (or to melt the additional butter). Brush the butter mixture over the squash slices and serve.....and submit to the mind numbing goodness....
I think next time I make this I will trim the skin. It softens up and is edible, but it was a tad weird texture wise so I peeled it off. This squash is so delicious it's criminal! Plus, it so easy and fast to make and now that I have my agave/maple blend this dish will only cost me a few dollars to make each time depending on how much squash is going for. Right now at most groceries stores it very inexpensive. Tis the the season for hard squash. I think the glaze would be brilliant on other veggies as well like carrots, sweet potatoes and butternut squash.

When the amazing smell hit the air the uncontrollable urge to have stuffing took over. So, I used this recipe from Savvy Vegetarian as a guide, cut it down and made a little stuffing using a leftover baguette I had.

Sautee basic onions, celery, and garlic.
Tear up baguette in awesome 1970s tupperware.
 Mix cooked veggies together with bread using your trusty Princess spatula.
 Add veggie broth, let it soak into mixture, bake, and voila!
Fall Sunday supper!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Recap of My Week

I present to you my week:

Leave home 7:45am
Day Job (a long offsite event)
Day Job evening team building event
Arrive home at 10pm

Leave home 7:30am
Day Job (another long offsite event)
Rush home for a snack and changing clothes
Bikram Yoga Class
Arrive home at 8:30pm

Leave home 7:45am
Day Job
Day Job After Hours Event
Attend play and pre-show gathering
Go to grocery store
Arrive home at 10:45pm

Leave home 8:15am
Site visit for 100 person work function I am planning
Day Job
Rush home for snack, pick up Mr. BB30, pet dog
Career Job-Performance
Attend cocktail gathering for our friends getting married on Saturday
Arrive home at 11:15pm

Leave home 7:45am
Day Job
Rush home for snack, pick up Mr. BB30, pet dog
Career Job-Performance
Attend closing weekend party
Go to Grocery store
Give friends rides home
Arrive home 1:15am

Make breakfast
Give my dog lots of love
Get dressed for wedding
Leave house at 12pm
Attend monthly women’s meditation seminar (dressed for a wedding)
Attend wedding ceremony
Leave wedding festivities and high tail it to show
Career Job-Performance
Return to wedding reception
Grab a drink with after party-ers
Arrive home 2am

zzzzzzzzzzzzz, love dog
Make breakfast
Leave house 11am
Grocery shop
Return home for shower and snack, blogging
Career Job-Final Performance
Go to drugstore
Arrive home aprox 5pm
Clean apartment
Make lunches for the week
Cook Dinner/Thanksgiving Test Drive

I am tired just reading that. Yes, there is only one day of Bikram in there. Bbut hey, with my schedule, that's pretty darn good. I realize that there are many fun things on my agenda from the past week, but really, there are just too many things. It's always bittersweet to close a show, but it's time to put this baby to bed and get some more personal time back. I'll be test driving some Thanksgiving contenders this week so I'll be excited to share that. Then..VACATION!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Whatcha Eatin'?

Some things I am enjoying lately:

Trader Joe's Chili and Cumin Chickpeas These used to come in a can and I have been mourning them-welcome back delicious friends! I mix some with a little tofu and veganaise and make a ridiculously good sandwich spread. That may sound like a weird combo to you, but it is DELISH!
Z Best Italian Bread After my beloved soy flour low carb awesome bread changed it's formula to inlude eggs, thus breaking my heart, I needed a new bread in my life. While this one isn't low carb, it toasts so beautifully and I've made several killer light and healthy paninis with it. Seriously, best-toast-ever. At 50 calories a slice, it's loaf to be reckoned with it! There are Z Best bakeries in a few different cities. Chicago Whole Foods stores buy from a shop in Evanston.
What are YOU eating lately?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weekend Yumminess

I know I sound like a broken record when I report over and over again about my seemingly unavoidable tendency to run myself into the ground. My lifestyle has been taking a toll on me more than ever lately and Saturday it reared it's ugly head full force. Mr. BB30 and I headed to a family event (a Christening for one of the cutest babies I have ever seen). I woke up with a head ache and thought, "Oh no, I must be overdoing it with caffeine and am having withdrawals." So, although I knew I needed to address this issue since caffeine dependency is definitely not healthy, I also knew I needed to make it through the day. So we stopped for caffeine. Nothing. Head still hurt. Not good. Riding in a car for for over an hour on bumpy roads. Super not good. Incense. Mega not good. After the ceremony at the luncheon, I found someone with ibuprofen, drank water and tried a little cranberry juice. Uber not good. I was instantly nauseous. My head was splitting. I was so warm. I couldn't focus. My neck ached. I tried some bites of salad. More nausea. My only choice was to make my way to the car and lie down. Mr. BB30 and my sister-in-law made their way to the car and we went to a store to get more headache medicine. Mr. BB30 found an amazing patch for migraines that we stuck to my forehead, and I slept all the way back to to city. How embarrassed am I? SO EMBARRASSED. We are so busy we don't get to make it to many family gatherings and then when we do, this happens. Ugh. Luckily I snoozed off most of the headache and was able to function for my show on Saturday night.

I realized that although I have still been eating relatively low cal for the most part, my diet of the fast go-to-foods cereal, tofu "egg" salad, sandwiches, hummus, and popcorn is not well balanced at all. My body was crying out for the vegetables and nutrients it is used to. It was crying out for rest. I wasn't giving it what it needed so it rebelled and took me out!

Saturday night I got some much needed sleep and Sunday my husband and I headed to The Chicago Diner where I got big beautiful salad and a side of scrambled tofu for protein. According to our nice server it was a bit larger than the standard Chicago Diner Garden Salad. I felt rewarded for my good choice. This salad was so good. I ate every last bite and felt so nourished. Look at this beauty!

The beets were so sweet and earthy. The greens were so fresh. Bliss.

We stopped by the produce store on the way home and I picked up some veggies to create a big pot of soup goodness for lunches the week.

I chopped up:
1 small sweet potato
1 medium zucchini
1/2 of a large purple onion
1 small parsnip
1 giant carrot
1 large red bell pepper
1 medium tomato
3 stalks of celery
7 large cloves of garlic
This carrot was as big as my dog. Please pardon his privates.
I sauteed my veggies.

For the broth I added 4 cups of vegetable boullion and seasoned with salt, pepper, dried thyme, cumin, garlic powder, and cajun seasoning for kick. Then I added in about 1/4 cup homemade tomato sauce dilluted in a cup of water.

Of course this recipe (if you can call it that) is nothing genius, but a great basic veggie soup . This batch made six substantial servings that I've already separated into individual containers. Each day I'll add something to it to make it a little different and bulk it up. Today I added soy crumbles and fresh basil and sage that I picked from my garden this morning. I may add cilantro and tofu one day, noodles the next, possibly a scoop of instant cous cous or black beans. This soup will give me lunch all week long and cost about $6 to make (and I still have a full red bell pepper, half an onion, and lots of celery left). Can't beat that!
Tonight after Bikram I sauteed up some veggies and spinach and kept riding the vitamin train! I feel better already! Now for some sleep!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bob Harper Is On My Team

Today my pretend friend Alicia Silverstone posted a link on The Kind Life to the adorable Bob Harper discussing Farm Sanctuary and his transition to a plant based diet. I wanted to share this, because he is more articulate than I could ever be (as in-he won't break into tears).

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Test Kitchen

First of all, last night I had a triumphant return to Bikram after several days away. Thanks to the holiday for some (not for me-boo), class wasn't as jammed as it usually is. I am glad that I will have more time to devote to class. I only have about a month until my beachy vacation, so I have to tone all I can! It's great motivation not to sink my weary self into the couch never to return. I've also licked my nasty cold! Triumph!

A week ago, with only a little time to spare I knew I had to get a grab-n-go lunch soup made for the week, and I needed to use up a beautiful butternut squash I had. I decided it was the perfect time to test out the Thanksgiving Contender of Ina Garten's Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and Curry Condiments.

The Recipe:
For the Soup:
3 to 4 pounds butternut squash, peeled and seeded
2 yellow onions
2 McIntosh apples, peeled and cored
3 tablespoons good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (I used Knorr Vegetable Boullion)
1/2 teaspoon good curry powder

For the Condiments:
Scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and sliced diagonally
Flaked sweetened coconut, lightly toasted
Roasted salted cashews, toasted and chopped
Diced banana

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the butternut squash, onions and apples in 1-inch cubes. Place them on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Divide the squash mixture between 2 sheet pans and spread it in a single layer. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, until very tender. I tried peeling the squash to cube it per Ina's instructions, but I am pretty sure peeling hard squash is one of the most tedious, dangerous, and awful tasks ever, so I roasted it the standard way. Split down the middle, seeds scooped, face down. I also just used one sheet pan.

Meanwhile, heat the stock to a simmer. When the vegetables are done, put them through a food mill fitted with the medium blade. (Alternatively, you can place the roasted vegetables in batches in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add some of the stock and coarsely puree.)
When all of the vegetables are processed, place them in a large pot and add enough stock to make a thick soup. Add the curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Taste for seasonings to be sure there's enough salt and pepper to bring out the curry flavor. Reheat and serve hot with condiments either on the side or on top of each serving.
I couldn't wait until the next day to taste it! I made a baby bowl in one of my favorite sauce dishes and garnished with green onion and banana. I didn't have cashews or coconut, but I am certain they are delicious as well. (Seriously, I use these Crate & Barrel sauce dishes all the time for food prep, making flavored Earth Balance butters and to control portions with snacks.)
As with most recipes I try, I would have preferred some garlic, but overall, this soup was a sweet and savory delight. The next time I dished up a bowl, I added some cumin for extra spice and even more green onion. In true soup fashion this was even yummier the next day.

*Recipe from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Unavoidable and Another Thanksgiving Contender

What's unavoidable when you work yourself silly and people around you are irresponsible? GETTING A COLD FOR YOUR OPENING NIGHT. I am so exhausted that my immune system is shot. Other than not getting enough sleep, I pack healthy food for the day and take care of myself, but alas, no ZZZZs=open door for germs. On I trudge with my quest for work/work/life balance. Thank you for bearing with me! I will get this down yet! I have been downing hot tea to sooth my throat and have plenty of my favorite cold medicine, but alas, I'm sick. All went well and the powers of adrenaline powered me through. One secret weapon when my voice gets worn out from drainage is gargling several times with an apple cider vinegar/warm water solution. Apple cider vinegar is magical. Seriously. Google it. There are websites devoted to its many uses. So, if you ever lose your voice, gargle with an apple cider solution-you'll get your voice back for a while...at least I do.
I call this stuff Liquid Magic!

Awesome husband alert: On his way home Mr. BB30 ordered me some healing spicy brothy thai soup for dinner last night and had it waiting for me! Huzzah!

Enough about my snot. Let's talk Thanksgiving!
Meet another contender:
Vanilla and Cardamom Glazed Acorn Squash Rings

A salty squash with a syrupy vanilla glaze. *Drools* This recipe is from page 51 of Fast, Fresh and Green by Susie Middleton and looks so simple and so flavorful!  

It supposedly serves 2 to 3 (but mostly likely 1 if you are me- hahahaha)

1 small acorn squash (1 to 1.25 lbs)
2 T. unsalted butter, plus 2 t. more if needed (I will use Earth Balance.)
2 t. pure maple syrup
1.5 t. vanilla extract
1/8 t. ground cardamom
Kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Line a large (18x13x1-inch) heavy-duty rimmed sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper.

2. With a sharp chef's knife, cut the acorn squash in half lengthwise (though both the stem end and the pointy end). Scrape out the seeds and fibers with a spoon. Put each half, cut side down, on a cutting board. Slice off about 3/4-inch from each end, and discard. Slice the squash crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick half-rings. If you want, you can trim away any remaining fibers from the rings by running a paring knife around the inside of each. Pout the half-rings on the parchment paper.

3. In a small sauce pan, melt the 2 tablespoons butter over low heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the maple syrup, vanilla, and cardamom. Stir well. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the squash pieces with a little less than half of the mixture. Season the pieces very lightly with salt and turn them over. Brush this side with more of the mixture, but reserve about 1 tablespoon for brushing on after cooking. (If using a larger squash and you wind up with less than 1 tablespoon of liquid, add 1 to 2 teaspoons more butter to the saucepan). Season the tops very lightly with salt.

4. Roast the squash for 12 minutes. Use tongs to flip the pieces over. Continue to roast until they are nicely browned (the bottoms with be browner than the tops) and tender when pierced with a paring knife, 10 to 12 minutes. Flip the piecces over again when they come out of the oven so that the browner side is up.

5. Reheat the butter mixture briefly over low heat if necessary (or to melt the additional butter). Brush the butter mixture over the squash slices and serve.

YUM!!!!!!! Look at that color! They look like fall leaves! Sweet and savory fall leaves!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Final Stretch!

I am in the final stretch of getting my current show opened, and Saturday I will perform in a one night only show and bust out some Janis Joplin. All this of course is being done on top of a full time day job. I have to admit, I am starting to feel this current lifestyle wear on me more than ever before. Sometimes I wonder how much longer I can take it. It can't be good for me to work so much (as I noted when I did not recognize my dull face in the mirror this morning), but alas, one job pays the bills (which I am very grateful for), the other doesn't YET. I will get back my Sun-Wed evenings beginning October 11th. So, 2.5 weeks! (Although with a Sunday matinee-Sunday night doesn't really count.)

While I have been pretty good about getting in a Bikram class at least once a week during September, it's been tough. I have to force myself to go because the lure of my sweatpants and many backed up hours of fall television is so strong, but I do it. I know I owe it to myself and I owe it to my body that I've worked so hard on not to neglect it when the going gets tough and time gets crunched. I also know I feel 10 times better about everything after I go. It clears my mind and I sweat out my toxins and stress. My plan is to get to class as much as possible most likely three times per week (Saturday midday, Monday nights, and Wednesday nights). While I could smush in two more on Sunday morning and Tuesday night, I know that is a bit crazy and a recipe to get sick. I will use Sundays and Tuesdays as back up classes or for I-am-feeling-great-ambitious-week-rockstar classes. Three cheers for me for not going overboard. It's hard for me to reign myself in somtimes and not go crazy with diving back in to more agressive exercise. My immune system will thank me.

I have been craving food lately when I am not hungry-a definite sign of stress (and exhaustion as well).
Things I crave lately:
Salsitas live in the vending machine at work and I rue the day I tasted of them!

Diet Coke
Chocolate Chips
(Nope, not all chocolate contains milk.)

Wild Berry Skittles

Salt, Salt, and More Salt
I have kept myself relatively on track which is a miracle.
My weapons include:
  • Lots of breathing
  • Water (I make myself drink 32 ounces before I make a decision to have a DC-works well, and I usually get distracted during that time and forget about the DC....but I admit that sometimes I just gotta have one.)
  • Hot Tea
  • Not beating myself up when I indulge a bit (no sense in that!)
I will prevail!

What are your biggest cravings when you're stressed? What are your tips to fighting them?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dreaming of Thanksgiving

I know....it's two months away, but seeing all of the delicious looking root vegetables and squash hitting the markets is making my head spin with all of the possibilities for my Thanksgiving Feast! After nine months on a plant based diet, I find that very few imitation meats actually taste good to me. After cleansing the ol' pallette for a while now I taste the processed-ness (I made that word up) of fake meats so much more. I still enjoy some of them of course (I'm looking at you Trader Joe's Vegetable Massala Burgers and Chicago Diner's Stupidly Delicious Gyros), but Tofurky-meh. I think I will pass this year, because there are many more new dishes I would rather try!

Meet some early contenders:
Guacamame (Guac-ah-mom-ay)
Oh yes, this is a combination dip of avacado and edamame that comes from Robin Robertson's Carb Conscious Vegetarian Cookbook. As we know I think edamame hummus is divine (you can buy it at Trader Joe's if you aren't into making your own). I am excited to try this. I like the twist, and it seems like a great dip to bring to a party. Frankly, it just has a fun name.

Ina Garten's Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and Curry Condiments

Source and Recipe
Is she trying to freakin' kill me with sweet and savory delightfulness?! I am almost scared to try this because I may die of happiness! A simple switch of chicken broth to veggie broth and this soup will be mine!
Root Vegetable Cassoulet
Apologies for the blurry pic. This dish is one of my pretend friend Alicia Silverstone's featured Thanksgiving dishes on The Kind Life. It was shared with her by the folks at Foodink Catering. Haven't you wondered what you could do with those adorable mini pumpkins you see everywhere this time of year (besides sit them on your desk or dining room table or mantle until they rot)? You can stuff them with vegetable goodness and fill your belly, that's what!
Maple Giner Roasted Vegetables with Pecans
This recipe came to me via the archives of an awesome mom/gardening/crafting/artist blog called Dig This Chick (a pal of the life-loving and inspriational Kelle Hampton.) Look at those beautiful brussel sprouts! It is of course apparent that I want almost everything I eat to be sweet and savory. NOM!

One thing to note about all of these delectable looking dishes is that they are all made with clean natural ingredients. While I don't need to down a ton of maple syrup, it's such a wonderful natural sweetener that won't wreck my system. I won't feel a trace amount of guilt eating any of these dishes. Beautiful.

Stay tuned for more contenders as we count down to Thanksgiving!