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Catching Up is Hard to Do

I always find it difficult to muster up the motivation to blog after an absence, even one as short as a week. It’s not that I don’t want to blog; it’s simply that I don’t know where to start. I hate trying to squeeze everything into a massive post, but I don’t blog frequently enough to update you on everything, so alas. I usually just jump into it and skip what has already passed.

Brent and I ate wheat berries for the first time last week. Brent was not a fan. He referred to them as “weird and chewy.” I don’t know what his problem is. Weird and chewy are two of my favorite adjectives when it comes to food! I wasn’t sure what to do with them, so I made them into a salad with black beans, red bell pepper and mango. The salad recipe is a quinoa salad recipe from Veganomicon, but I just subbed wheat berries. I thought their chewiness went well. I really loved it.

What is perhaps even more exciting, is that I made my first soup of the fall season this weekend! I was so excited about the cooler temps, I was determined to celebrate by making soup. So glad to have it back in my life! I made some of my minestrone along with some unpictured Artisan Bread.

I’ve been busy with things other than soup-making as well. School is starting to pick up the pace, and today I spent the day volunteering at the MDA Telethon. Unfortunately one of the things keep me busy has been our German Shepherd, Lucy.

That photo cracks me up every time I see it! Lucy has developed an ear hematoma, which means her ear has filled with blood, as a result of her chronic ear infections (she was abused when she was younger, and has a “broken” ear, which is prone to infection as a result), and she’ll be going in for surgery tomorrow morning. She’ll have to be put under general anesthesia for the surgery, which is always a little worrisome. I’m hoping the procedure goes well and will prevent the hematoma from recurring. Wish Lucy good luck for tomorrow!

Falling off the face of the Earth

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I’m back! I spent all of last week visiting family and friends in Chicago. I was originally planning on attending the Healthy Living Summit, but I sold my ticket a few weeks ago and decided I wanted to use what little time off I have spending time with people I don’t see enough. I had a lot of fun, but by the end of the week, I was ready to get back home.

I acted as my family’s personal chef for the week and cooked a few of their usual meals for them, including chili, tostadas, and I introduced them to roasted broccoli with shrimp. I don’t have many pictures from the week, but I did manage to take one of the gazpacho I made.

Sorry for the blurry iPhone photo. This was my first time making and eating gazpacho, and I was impressed. I’m not a huge fan of raw tomatoes, so I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but I did!

I’m spending this week getting my life in order before my last semester starts next week, so I’ve got a lot of errands to run and cleaning to do. I hope everyone’s be enjoy the last few weeks of summer!

Dinner, Dessert, Drinks & Dancing

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This weekend my friends Tessa, Greg, Kathryn, and Jesse came to visit us in the Fort! I love getting together with my friends, and I was so excited this time because we planned on going dancing! I am quite possibly the world’s worst dancer (Brent tells me I should hate dancing because I’m so bad at it), but I enjoy it so much! Before the boozin and groovin, I fed the troops. I made a batch of Teany’s Top-Secret Chili from this book. This is probably my favorite chili recipe. I love the seitan in it.

Everyone enjoyed dinner, as I knew they would (Tessa’s the one who gave me the recipe. She loves it). I also had a pitcher of pre-made POM margaritas, which were also a big hit. No meal, especially one for my friends, is complete without dessert! I made a batch of Mucho Margarita Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I once again used my tequila-lime buttercream frosting. So deliciously sweet and tart!

After some dinner, dessert and a few drinks, we were off the the bar. I made a fool of myself, had way too much fun, and stayed out way too late! Luckily, once we were at the bar, I managed to have equal amount of water and booze so I woke up feeling as close to normal as I could hope for.

I’m glad I got in a fun weekend with friends because I start back at school on Wednesday, so the rest of my summer may be a whole lot less fun. I’ll leave you with a photo of Kat, Tess, and I from the cab ride (love college roomies!).

A Soup Kind of Day

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It’s been drizzly, cold and grey for the past couple of days. It makes me want to curl up on the couch with a blanket and a cup of beer cheese soup. There’s no cheese in the house and I probably ought to eat more well-balanced food anyway, so tonight I made Baked Bean Soup, another recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special.

Brent thinks I may have made this before, and he’s probably right. It sounds like something I’d make. He particularly likes the broth of this soup. What was especially exciting about tonight’s dinner is that I made my first loaf of bread in my new kitchen! I’ve been missing homemade bread. This is the Idle Loaf, after all. I was worried about my super old and pretty tiny oven holding the heat and producing the crispy crust I love, but it worked really well. I went with the Artisan Bread master recipe, because it’s nearly foolproof. Crust is delicious dunked in broth. Yum.

Now I’m drinking a POM and club soda and getting ready for Lost. Good night!

Weeknight Date

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Today was gorgeous in Fort Wayne! Nearly 60 degree and sunny and flowers are starting to bloom! My appetite was still a bit wonky this morning. I couldn’t decide what to eat for breakfast and I didn’t really feel like making anything so I just reheated some channa masala from last night. Along with some coffee it made a delicious, if slightly nontraditional, breakfast.

I spent most of the day studying for my maternity class, making bread, and taking walks.  For lunch I, again, didn’t feel like putting much effort into preparing something. I heated up a Morningstar Riblet (I can’t decide if I like these), and made and salad with spring mix, carrots, cucumbers, red bell pepper, roasted beets, olive oil and white balsamic vinegar. The riblet is certainly not attractive, but it was easy.

While I was eating lunch, I had two loaves of whole wheat bread baking in the oven. One for Brent’s breakfasts and one for the freezer. I just love the smell of baking bread!

After an hour and a half of daydreaming/walking this afternoon, I started making dinner. I made Mushroom Barley Soup, which was quite good. I had a bowl along with the heel of one of the loaves. It makes such good toast!

A little while after dinner Brent and I took a 30 minute walk to 800 Degrees for some drinks. I had a pint of Rogue Dead Guy Ale and we split the bruschetta, which was so delicious! It came with lots of pesto, which is one of my current favorite things. I love midweek date nights! 🙂 After another walk, we’re back home and on the couch watching Lost. Gotta go!

Baked Potato Soup

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Doesn’t just hearing the words baked potato soup make you feel warm? I saw baked potato soup on some show Brent and I were watching, and immediately all I could think about was making it. That happens to me sometimes, quite frequently actually. Anyway, I made this soup and it was delicious. With a Vermont Cheddar roll of course! 🙂

The sour cream made the soup. This soup is clearly not “good” for you, although I did use smart balance instead of butter, 2% milk, light sour cream and reduced fat cheese, mostly due to what was on hand, not purposely trying to lighten it up.

Normally I don’t really worry a ton about the fat or calories in something because I figure I eat OK enough on a day to day basis and as long as I’m feeling fine, it’s all good. I’ve been thinking about it more and more recently though because I know I’m not perfect, and my eating habits have gone downhill with school starting, and I do have a serious family history of heart disease and high cholesterol. With that in mind, I’m getting my fasting lipid profile done in two weeks. I’ve been meaning to do it for awhile, but I’m always so lazy about these things. Recommendations are to get a baseline when you’re 20 (I’m only 4.5 years late on that) and then once every 5 years after that if results are within a normal range. I’m actually kind of nervous about it. 😦

Anyway, make some baked potato soup, because even “lightened up” it made me so happy to eat lunch every day this week! 🙂

Food Catch-Up

I’ve been cooking, but not posting about it. Here are some reviews of recent meals. Last week I made Bok Choy and Rice Noodle Soup with Turkey Meatballs. Sounds good right? And the picture in the cookbook was pretty convincing too. The ingredients smelled wonderful and I was convinced it would be one of the best meals I’ve made at home. Ehhh, not so much.

It didn’t taste bad. It just didn’t really taste like anything. I liked the idea of making the turkey meatballs with some tofu as well, but those just feel completely apart. They definitely needed some type of binder. It was definitely a disappointment. I can’t really recommend it. They can’t all be the best meal ever, I guess.

Earlier this week I made a Tuna Casserole from Rachael Ray. I rarely make tuna casserole and this one sounded like it could be a winner – lots of spinach and no cream of whatever soup. The only change I made to the recipe was to use vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth.

The recipe made a ton, but I decided I might as well make the whole thing and hope the leftovers would be good. It came out pretty well. While I was making it, I told Brent it looked more like spinach casserole. I loved the combo of the tuna, creamy cannellini beans and tuna. And anytime I can throw this much veg into a single dish, I’m pretty happy.

Brent commented that he could do without the beans, but I really liked them. We’ve eaten the leftovers, which were pretty good as well. I think I would definitely make this recipe again.

Today was my last day of clinical for the semester, so afterwards my clinical group had a potluck (so much food!!) and finally got a group photo after putting in a full day.

Only two more days of school! I’m already making lists of things to clean and things to cook over break! Can’t wait!

It’s Cold Outside

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With the recent influx of below freezing temperatures and my accompanying seasonal cold, I’ve been wanting nothing more than to curl up on the couch next to the fireplace with something warm (and carby) to eat. This past week, I made use of the Thanksgiving leftovers and made some Turkey Noodle Soup for Brent and I to enjoy while riding out our colds.

Maybe it was the sickness talking, but I thought this soup was amazing. It was just onions, carrots, celery, parsley, shredded turkey and egg noodles with some stock made from the turkey. We ate this for like 5 days straight.

Last night, craving another warm meal, I made Leek and Bean Cassoulet with Biscuits from Veganomicon. A million others have made this too, so you should probably be able to find one who has posted the recipe.

This took a bit of time, but it was really simple to make and we got quite a few meals out of it. At first I thought, “Yeah this is a decent meal. Comforting but nothing out of this world.” But it was one of those times where I just kept eating and eating and really enjoying it. Brent and I both went back for seconds (which I deeply regretted because I was uncomfortably full for the rest of the night, and we both enjoyed leftovers for lunch today.

Full disclosure: I unveganized the recipe to use what I had on hand: butter in place of the shortening and fat free milk in place of the soy milk.

I definitely think I’d make this dish again. It was a perfect meal for our first snowfall of the year. I can’t believe it’s already the second week in December! This coming saturday is cookie-baking day! and the week after that is my finals week. I’m looking forward to some down time over the holidays.

And finally, here are the winners of the Alouette giveaway:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

5	7	11	2

Timestamp: 2009-12-07 20:57:59 UTC

So that would be: Mara, 3carnations, Hannah, and chau chu. Send me your address theidleloaf@gmail.com and I’ll send out your coupons!

Date Night

Earlier this week Brent suggested we make Saturday night “date night” and he was going to cook for us. I was shocked because I didn’t realize date night was in his vocabulary, and I was also surprised Brent was willing to do something so nice, given my complete craziness as of late. Occasionally I catch myself acting crazy and realize how hard I must be to live with sometimes. Only 3 more weeks or so in the semester!

Anyway, back to dinner. Brent used our “fancy meals” cookbook to come up with some meal ideas. He decided on a “simple” soup and salad combo.

First up we had Frisee Salad with Baked Goat Cheese and Bacon. Goat cheese… on bread!! This salad course was all kinds of amazing. A wonderful pick by Brent. The man knows what I like.

The goat cheese was a necessary and delicious addition for cutting the tartness of the vinegary dressing. The bread was an artisan Bread dough baguette I made this morning. The only change Brent made to the recipe was to use canola oil in place of walnut oil because (his words), “walnut oil is balls expensive.” I support that decision. Salad was delicious regardless.

The second course was equally, if not more delicious. Brent and I tend to enjoy a lot of the same foods, but I think he’s more adventurous than I am when it comes to cooking. He often picks out recipes that I might not pick, assuming they may not turn out well if I made them at home. I’m glad he choose this Portuguese Clam and Chorizo Stew.

For the stew, Brent made a few substitutions. Fort Wayne isn’t a super foodie-friendly town, so we had to make due with what Brent could find:

  • In place of smoked chorizo, he used some type of Boar’s Head spicy Italian sausage with paprika in it.
  • He couldn’t find 4 dozen little neck clams, so he used half fresh clams, half canned clams.
  • In place of piquillo peppers, he used roasted red peppers with a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Everything was wonderful, and I greatly appreciated Brent’s suggestion for date night. Now we’re resting on the couch watching some Netflix movies.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

Soup, Salad and Cupcakes

I promised myself I would cook more meals at home, and I’m definitely trying to keep my word. I’ve noticed my meals are getting a lot simpler now, but I’m actually appreciating them way more. My dinners for the past two nights have been quick, simple and super satisfying.

A few months ago I discovered that I love Greek salad, and have been making variations using the basic ingredients. I was craving a Greek salad when I was doing some grocery shopping this week so I added it to the menu for Monday night. It was delicious. I just used homemade red wine vinaigrette for the dressing, and I made a couple of artisan bread rolls for Brent and I because in my mind, a salad feels more like a “meal” if it has a piece of bread with it. 🙂

IMG_0448Tuesday night dinners are hard for me. I have clinical from 6:30-4:30, and when I finally arrive home I’m exhausted, kind of cranky, and STARVING. I was craving some comfort food (and red wine!) big time so I went with an old standby: tomato soup and grilled cheese.

For the soup I sautéed half a yellow onion, three cloves of garlic, salt, black pepper, thyme, marjoram, and red pepper flakes in a tablespoon of oil. When the onions were soft I added in a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes and half a cup of veggie broth, brought to a boil and simmered about 15 minutes. At this point I tasted and noticed it was a bit acidic for my taste so I added a teaspoon of sugar, and simmered another 5 minutes. I transferred the soup to a blender and blended until smooth. While the soup was simmering, I baked some flat artisan bread, sliced it in half, added some swiss cheese to each piece and broiled until melty.

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This meal took half an hour to make and I cannot express how comforting it was to eat. I enjoyed every bite and then promptly passed out on the couch. Classy, I know.

One last thing I wanted to mention was that last night I made cupcakes to celebrate the birthday of one of my classmates. When I asked her what she wanted, all she requested was lots of chocolate. Always happy to comply, I made some basic chocolate cupcakes and chocolate buttercream from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. After working at clinical all day followed by a math/dosage competency, these were much appreciated at our post-conference today!

IMG_0454I’m off to work on a careplan! I can’t believe how quickly time is passing. I am in shock that Thanksgiving is pretty much two weeks away. Guess I better start planning that too!