Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Veggie Curry for Meatless Monday

Another option for Meatless Monday - Veggie Curry, we are serving it with Black Bean Spaghetti but it's also delicious over rice
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped yellow squash
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1 1/2 cup cauliflour 
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspons Sambal
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, use with juice
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 lemon

The video below shows the simple steps for this one pot meal.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Multi-Seed Bread Maker Load Recipe

I have been in search of a loaf of bread I can make at home for hubby's sandwiches that's just a little better for you than but still tasted amazing. After some trial and errors, the following recipe has been celebrated by everyone in the house. As a bonus this recipe is vegan, no dairy or eggs. Flour, water, salt, yeast and SEEDS! Simple and delicious! 

Before I start, this is the bread maker I am currently using - Cuisinart CBK-100, available on Amazon Prime under $90. It's easy to use and has proven to be a workhorse with some weeks producing several loafs a week (both for us and to share with family).
  Recipe - 2 lb Loaf Size
  • 1 1/2 cup room temp water, not hot
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 cups of unbleached bread flour (King Arthur Flour is my fave)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds
  • 2 tablespoons roasted golden flax seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup toasted unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
Place all ingredients in order above into your bread maker mixing/backing bowl. If your bread maker has an 'add to' setting where you can drop in additional ingredients you can add all the seeds at that step. I've tried both and find it easier to add everything at once. Bake on White Bread setting typically between 3.5 to 4 hours for mix, knead, proof/rise and bake.  Our preference for crust (3 choices available on my bread maker) at Dark which makes the thickest crust available. My machine has an audio notice (6 beeps) when the mixing is done so the blade can be removed. I simply pull up the kneaded bread, pull off the blade and reshape the bread to replace into the bread maker. An end of bake signal prompts immediate removal of the bread pan, once able to be handled with protection, take the bread out and place on cooling rack. The longer you leave the bread in the pan, the less crispiness to the crust due to condensation.

I use organic seeds and store them in glass upcycled jars (from Marzetti salad dressing) in a handy basket that can be pulled out from the pantry with one grab. Simplifying tasks in the kitchen will lead to greater and easier use.
A closer look at all the seedy goodness inside the loaf, don't slice open till completely cooled to ensure even slices that don't rip or crumble. You can use a long serrated knife or an electric knife. To avoid a tirade of profanities when hubby makes his sandwiches, I slice a few at a time off the load for him and store the entire thing in a zip lock bag, pushing out as much air as possible. Since there are no preservatives in this bread, it's really only at it's optimum flavor and freshness for several days.

My favorite application for the bread is Avocado toast with cherry tomatoes, a must try if you have not already.
As mentioned earlier, the bread is preservatives free so after several days if there are any leftovers, I dice them up, pop them in a bag and freeze them. Great to pull out as needed to make croutons, savory bread pudding or homemade stuffing. No waste so every bit is utilized. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Health Challenge, Yes in December

I was thinking that so many people start up New Year's resolutions in January that I would get a jump on it and start in December instead so that by January it will feel like a part of my routine rather than something new.

It all started with my new phone, Samsung Galaxy Note 5, which was a gift from Paulie and my in-laws. One day after poking around the available apps I noticed there was a health tracker called S Health (all Samsung smart phones have it pre-installed).

The first few days after this discovery were no different, I saw the number of steps I took but made no additional effort in upping my activity. Then I realized that the expecting a different outcome when I've done nothing differently would be insane. That day I publicly announced, via my YouTube daily vlog, that I was starting a Health Challenge - Walk 5 Miles a Day by the End of December! Let me tell you, no one was more shocked then me. But now that I've said it out loud I had to take steps, literally, to change my activity level and even more so, my mind set.

As a work from home full time employee by daily commute is mere moments and would not yield anything in way of exercise so I had to think bigger. I own a treadmill but like millions of others, it has only served as a room divider for a long time and a place for our big dog Chester to create a sleeping space behind. (sad but very true). I asked Paulie to give me the gift of a fully functioning treadmill as my present for the Holidays.... time went by and nothing was happening so I took things into my own hands.

Being blessed with extremely mild weather, I decided to use what I had at my disposal - my driveway and more specifically my Toyota Sienna as the base around which I would walk. It has since become known as Hensel Track. I started with a few laps at a time to see just how much I could do but quickly realized that my Birkenstocks were not going to cut it, sore spots and blisters at the end of my second toes were glaring signs that it's the wrong footwear.

A simple Amazon search later and 2 day shipping and I was a proud owner of my first pair of walking shoes (my high school pair of pink Reeboks were laughing at me when I attempted to put them on, they were 'retired' shortly there after).

Now with the correct shoes, a desire to change my activity level and the beautiful weather worked in my favor. Starting on December 3rd, I set my goal at 3,000 steps a day. Not going to kid you, initially I was not even sure how many steps an average person takes but sitting on my butt for 10+ hours a day in front of the computer for both work and fun was not adding any for me.

To keep myself honest and accountable I decided to share my progress on Social Media and in my vlogs on YouTube. On the first day I only reached a little over 1,000 steps but in a matter of a few days worked my way up to near goal of 3K. December 6th was 2,983 steps, that annoyed me more than anything so I promised myself to never let the day get away from me.Since the 7th, I've met or exceeded my daily step goal and starting on December 13th I upped my goal by a 1K each week. Finally on December 15th I started reaching my 60 minutes of activity a day goal. It's exciting to be able to accomplish my daily goals and I've noticed some interesting side effects - cleaning up after dinner sooner than later, doing laundry without getting grumpy, offering to let the dogs in/out without a stare down with hubby.

Since starting this Health Challenge, I've reorganized the walk in pantry, went to the store multiple times just to window shop and have had friends join me in making even small changes like adding more water intake or making better food choices. You just never know where inspiration comes from, mine was from a phone app and that's pretty incredible.

Here is last night's goal and targets:

How are you planning on being better to yourself?

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving Food

Gorgeous spread at my sister's house who hosted Thanksgiving this year
Shrimp Appetizer with homemade cocktail sauce (our contribution)

Moist and delicious turkey, expertly carved 
The BEST green beans ever and no gloppy 'soup' out of a can in sight 
Roasted butternut squash 
Stuffing Muffins (our contribution) 
Mashed Potatoes

My Plate - a bit of everything 

Spectacular desserts - pumpkin muffins with no crust and Dutch Apple Pie with homemade salted caramel

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Longan Fruit

The 'cousin' of Lychee, Longan fruit is milder, less messy with delicate white semi-translucent flesh and when you bite into it the nickname of 'Dragon Eye' is completely understood
Outer skins peal easily with nails or a small pairing knife, discarded in a pile like this they look like small egg shells
I might be officially in love with the cute pits, looking like jewels with a shiny skin and exotic tiny chestnut similarity.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Cannoli Cream Cookie Sandwishes

I craved a cannoli but did't feel like going to all the effort of getting in my car and driving to the wonderful Italian bakery or even more involved of making them from scratch at home so these are a great alternative.

Cannoli Cream Cookies:
  • 1 cup whole or part skim milk Ricotta
  • 3-5 tablespoons of powdered sugar, depending on your sweet tooth
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • Vanilla wafers or Tea cookies
Drain a cup of Ricotta is water logged in a paper towel lines strainer for several hours or overnight. Place the strained Ricotta in a mixing bowl, add vanilla, powdered sugar and almost all of the mini chocolate chips (reserve enough in a plate to roll the edges). Mix well with a fork and spoon cannoli cream on a cookie evenly, cover with a second cookie and roll in the reserved mini chips. If ships are not your 'thing', chopped pistachios are a great alternative.

These can store in the fridge for a few hours so if you are making just enough for a snack or a treat at tea time, keep the cannoli cream in an airtight container in the fridge till needed (image below)
Lucky for everyone, they accompany tea as well as coffee equally deliciously! What would you like to enjoy these with?