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Lentil Apple Walnut Loaf

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I bought a new cookbook sometime in the past few weeks. Clean Food is just one item that Brent has pointed to as evidence of me having an online shopping problem. He may be right. I may be too bored for my own good. All that is irrelevant, however, because this book has recipes that I wish I ate more of. I was entranced while reading through it, and I began cooking from it as soon as I had time, which was today.

I chose to make Lentil Apple Walnut Loaf along with Winter Green Salad with Sugared Walnuts, Crispy Pears and Pomegranate. Let’s start with the salad, shall we? Today was my first time ever disassembling and eating pomegranate. It was interesting, and man, pomegranate is gorgeous, right? Look at that color!

I loved this salad! One note about the walnuts – I baked them for 15 minutes (the author suggested 20), and they were on the edge of burned, so watch out for that if you cook from this book. I have leftovers of all the ingredients, so I’m making this salad again sometime this week. It was definitely delicious.

On to the lentil loaf. I think I’ve made lentil loaf in the past, and thought “Yep. This tastes super healthy,” which is not a bad opinion, but it doesn’t necessarily make you reach for seconds, you know? Well, maybe lentils aren’t loaf-worthy. This recipe was fine. I thought it would be more flavorful, but was kind of disappointed in that regard. The glaze was delicious, but the rest of the loaf was kind of bland. Brent had seconds, but I attribute that to be a hungry dude, and not his love of lentils. He said it was fine and that “lentils are a nutritional powerhouse” but he did not request it be made again.

Overall, I’m excited to cook more from this book. I love that it’s organized by seasons, as Brent and I are trying to eat more seasonally. I’m making another dish from the winter section tomorrow.

The job search is on! I’ve got a few applications in for nurse residency programs and I’m hoping to hear something back soon! (If you’re a healthcare professional or nurse in the Seattle area, or know someone who is, I would love to connect with you!) In the meantime, I’m cooking and baking and generally enjoying my downtime. I made bagels for like the first time in a year today! Brent was super excited when he got home from work. 🙂 Got to get to bed now! Be back tomorrow with another seasonally appropriate, vegan dinner!

Stuffed Peppers with Millet

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I cooked last week! I even have photos to prove it.

I made Emily’s curried stuffed peppers, which turned out really well. It was actually our first time eating millet, and I was pleasantly surprised with how much Brent liked it. He’s not huge on most of the “weird grains” I bring home, but this was a winner. It was super quick and easy to make. I actually made the mix and stuffed the peppers earlier in the day and then just baked them when we wanted dinner.

I really liked the raisins in this and I actually wish I had added more! I may make this again, given that Brent enjoyed it and I have more millet to use. I actually have a whole bookcase (which I use as a second pantry) full of grains and dried beans to use before we leave! Feel free to suggest uses for: wheat berries, brown rice, quinoa, wild rice, kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils.

Life Updates

Well, you can definitely continue to expect a lack of posting. We’re moving in 3 weeks! We leave from Chicago Monday December 27th after spending the holidays with our families, and I can’t believe how close it’s getting. We’re doing something crazy – Driving!! It’ll be me, Brent, Larry, Lucy, my beloved cooking tools, and some clothes. And that’s it. We’re not moving our furniture, knick-knacks, TV, etc…  The way our relocation is structured is that we could have his company pay to move all of our possessions across the country, OR they’ll just give us a lump sum. We’ve discussed getting a new bed, and a new couch because our current one is a huge sectional that was purchased for a 2200 square foot home, not a city apartment, so we just decided to take the lump sum and use it as an opportunity to simplify. It’s going to be a 3 day drive, but luckily we’ve already found and leased an apartment, so once we arrive we’ll be “home.”

A week from tomorrow is also my last day of nursing school! I cannot express how truly excited I am, not only to be done with school and all that goes along with that, but to be a nurse! I really can’t wait to take boards and start working. I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to go back to school and go into a profession that I really love. 🙂

I Have Been Busy

Very busy! In the past couple of weeks, I’ve gone to The Rally to Restore Sanity in DC…

where I found the long-lost twin of Jerry Garcia…

and dressed as a double rainbow with my best friend.

That wasn’t enough traveling for me, so I also headed to Chicago to pick up my mom so that we could roadtrip to Wisconsin to see family. I hadn’t seen my aunt Sherry and cousins in 5 years!!

It was such a great visit, and definitely worth the 16 total hours of driving.

This past Sunday, Brent and I headed to Kalamazoo, MI on another mini roadtrip for All Stouts’ Day at Bell’s Brewery. I love stouts! The Double Cream Stout was definitely my favorite.

I’m finally back home now, and easing myself back into my routine of blog-reading, cooking and , oh yeah, studying – 4.5 more weeks!

Brent is on me again to cut down our eating out budget, an idea that my waistline can certainly agree with, so I’ve made the effort to cook at home this week. Tonight’s meal was the first “new to me” thing I’ve made this week. I tried the Orange Pan-glazed Tempeh from 101 Cookbooks, which I saw on (never home)maker last week.

I forgot the lime and cilantro because Brent and I were too hungry by then, but both would have been very good I’m sure. My only note on this recipe was that it took me 20-30 minutes for the sauce to reduce down to a “thick glaze,” but it worked well nonetheless. Tempeh is one of those foods I don’t eat or make frequently and I’m still on the fence about whether or not I like it. I found it super filling though! I ate 3/4 of mine and Brent finished the rest.

Have I mentioned that I finally bought a rice cooker a few weeks ago? I freaking love that gadget! So worth it. 🙂

Zesty Wheat Berry-Black Bean Chili

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As I said, I went to visit my parents this weekend, which meant I needed to stock up on things unavailable in the Fort. Essentially this means that every time I go home, I go a little crazy at the bulk bin section in Whole Foods. This past weekend was no exception, and I left the store with 3lbs of wheat berries, among other things. Now I just needed a way to use those wheat berries, without Brent objecting too much. Brent has already made it clear he is not a fan of the “weird chewiness” of wheat berries, so I sought a way to disguise them a bit.

One of my favorite recipe sites is Eating Well, and so I checked there first. One of the first recipes that came up was this chili recipe. I like beans, chili and wheat berries, so it sounded like a good fit to me. The only change I made was to use fire-roasted diced tomatoes because I love them in a big way.

Loved, loved, loved the flava of this chili. It was a total winner. Even Brent said “Yeah, the flavor is really good. I can tolerate the wheat berries.” Praise of the highest sort, obviously.

Things are going pretty fantastic here at casa Monroe, so to celebrate, I dragged Brent out for a drink. We went to Old Crown which is definitely my current favorite place for cocktails in the Fort. In fact, when we sat down, the bartender said “Hey. You guys were here last week, right?” Guilty.

After a magnificent whiskey sour, we got back home in time for The Biggest Loser, and I’m going to hang out with Brent and catch up on some Hulu shows.  🙂

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!

Grilled Peppers & Lentil Salad

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On the way back from Chicago Brent drove while I menu planned for the week using the new issue of Cooking Light. Nearly all the recipes in the Enlightened Vegetarian section sounded wonderful, including tonight’s dinner: Grilled Peppers & Lentil Salad.With so many flavorful ingredients, I thought this salad would taste delicious, or be too weird. Lime juice, cilantro, olives and fennel are not necessarily ingredients I would put all in the same dish.

I was really impressed! I thought it was really bright-tasting and I loved it. Brent “liked the flavors, but just doesn’t like lentils that much.” I did, however, have to change the recipe. Since moving into our townhouse, Brent and I don’t have a grill anymore, so rather than grill the peppers, I broiled them and proceeded with the recipe, and it worked just fine for me! I’m sure a charcoal grill would add even more flavor with smoky deliciousness.

Brent’s company does a “Corporate Challenge” in conjunction with our local YMCA, and the team competes in a bunch of sports, like flag football, basketball, dodgeball, etc… Well apparently they did not have enough women for the requirement, so Brent got recruited so that I would play. I have football practice on Wednesday. This should be pretty interesting – I am, by far, the least coordinated person I know, but I think it’ll be a lot of fun!

Orecchiette with Cherry Tomatoes and Kalamata Tapenade

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Brent picked tonight’s dinner from Vegan with a Vengeance. Dude loves anything with a brine so he was all about a sauce made entirely from olives and capers. I, being the ever-loving wife that I am, was happy to oblige. The recipe is easy. Makes some tapenade, saute some tomatoes and onions, cook pasta and mix it all together.

I like this pasta, and the orecchiette was a new shape of pasta for me to use at home (always fun), but I kind of hated the tomatoes in it. Everything was tasting all briny and delicious and then suddenly there’s a large hot, bursting tomato in my mouth spoiling the party. That could just be me. I’m not so much into just a cooked tomato. Tomato sauce is all well and good but the tomatoes in this situation really did nothing for me. I would make this again, but maybe (probably) do something different with the tomatoes.

In other exciting news, I’m going to the Healthy Living Summit in Chicago! I”m very excited and totally nervous about it at the same time! If you’re going and have a blog leave a comment in the comment section so I can read up on everyone I’m going to meet!

A Fresh Start

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The past month has been insane. From the listing of our house to the closing and moving out of our house, only 30 days elapsed. I’ve basically been one giant ball of anxiety that entire time, which obviously impaired my ability to live a normal, healthy life. This past Friday we closed and moved (with the help of some friends) across town to our townhouse rental, where we will be staying at least through the end of the year. I worked like a madwoman to unpack and get my life organized so that I could go back to cooking, working out and watching bad reality television on a regular basis.

My new kitchen may not be ideal (it’s like 1/3 of the square footage of my old one), but it works and I finally have the time and energy to use it! To psych myself up for homemade meals and healthy eating, I’ll show you what I managed to prepare today.

Breakfast involved my 3 cholesterol-lowering F’s: Fiber (in the form of oats), Flax (in the oatmeal), and Fish Oil (that big red pill). The oats were made with half a cup of unsweetened soymilk, 1/2 cup oats, 1 tablespoon ground flax and a banana, topped with some fresh raspberries and served with coffee.

I’m on school break for one more week, so I had time to lift weights in our “home gym” (second bedroom) after dropping Brent off at work. It kind of sucked – I have let myself get ridiculously out of shape in the past month or two.

Morning snack was a cup of fruit salad made with strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and kiwi – basically all the fruit on sale at the store this week. Eating fruit that’s been chopped up and mixed together makes me feel much more satisfied than just eating an apple or banana. Weird, I know.

Lunch was a big salad composed of organic spring mix, carrots, roasted beets, chickpeas, radish, cucumber and avocado, dressed with olive oil and red wine vinegar. This salad took me over an hour to eat. I think I was distracted by Gmail chat.

I had to go to my school to get a new entrance code for my school gym — which I am much closer to now! and while I was there, I decided I had time to spend an hour on the elliptical watching the Maury Show. I like to do that sort of thing, especially when it is summer break and I’m the only one in the gym. It’s tragic – all the dudes that want to be the father never are and the jerks denying it always are.

After that I was starving. In this situation, the starvation was probs related to the exercise, but generally I’m starving all day long and eat like 6-8 times a day, so it’s hard to say for sure. I came home and made the quickest snack I could think of – toasted half of a pita pocket smeared with Barney Butter and raspberry green tea because it was raining and I was freezing.

I’m usually pretty whatever about the flavored green teas, but I really liked this one. I chowed this in like 2 seconds flat while a maintenance guy came to fix my oven (it wouldn’t close all the way – the horror!). As a side note, I love that Brent and I can just call someone to fix stuff now. Definitely one of the perks of not owning your home.

After picking Brent up from work, I spent only 20 minutes making dinner. I made the Classic Sichuan Noodles from the Moosewood Daily Specials cookbook. I can’t find the recipe online, but I highly recommend the book. I totally love it, and these noodles were delicious. The peanut sauce was made with peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, Sriracha, and warm water. For the noodles I used whole wheat spaghetti, which was tossed with bean sprouts and julienned cucumber. After tossing with the sauce, the noodles were sprinkled with scallions, and sesame seeds. I would definitely make this again, and probably throw in a few more veggies too.

Brent liked it too, which is always a plus. Now I’m munching on some of these veggie sticks (which I love) and getting ready to watch House.

My new goal is to be in bed by 10pm to make waking up a little bit easier. One day down so far. Hope I can keep it up. 🙂

Spring is Coming

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I’m nearly on spring break! That means I’m also done with my Med-Surg II clinical rotation on the neuro/spine unit, and I start my OB/Peds rotation in 2 weeks! That makes me kind of nervous — I guess just because I really can’t relate, although I love cute baby faces just as much as the next 24 year old female.

Anyway, my point about spring break is that I’ll be able to cook and bake soon! And actually enjoy it and not stress out about how I should be writing a careplan or reading a textbook. 10 glorious days off. Although, I won’t be home for all of it. Brent and I are going to Chicago next weekend, so I can spend some long overdue time with my friends. I can’t wait! Part of spring break will also be spent cleaning and getting the house ready to go on the market again. Hope we have better luck this time around!

Tonight’s dinner was super simple. I bought 2lbs. of asparagus on Saturday, and I was basically just trying to find something to add to make it a complete meal. I used some Artisan Bread Deli-Style Rye dough to make a small English-muffinesque bun on the griddle (I prefer doing this for simple one-meal buns because I can control the shape a bit better), and just heated up a GardenBurger as well. I roasted the aspargus with a bit of canola oil and garlic in the oven and that’s it. A burger and asparagus fries. Super simple.

Also, I wanted to mention this Linguine with Cilantro-Basil Pesto and Artichokes that I made for the second time last week. My first attempt was more attractive, but this time I just used whole wheat spaghetti, and halved the recipe, but kept the whole can of artichokes. I still love it. I need to eat more artichokes.

That’s all I’ve got for now folks. I’m going to finish making some granola, and maybe try to study a bit before bed. SPRING is almost here! 🙂

A Variety

We’ve actually cooked a few meals at our house lately (except for the super boring pizza we ordered tonight, but oh well). This weekend, with a few overripe bananas on my countertop, I finally found time to do a little bit of baking. I made vegan banana muffins based on the lower-fat banana bread in Veganomicon.

Notice the chunks of ripe banana? These were perfect as snacks to take to class this week.

Next up, some sort of stir-fry with tofu, broccoli, some Chinese cabbage type vegetable and pearl barley. Brent was responsible for making this one, and he did an excellent job. This was actually my first time having pearl barley (I’ve only had the quick cooking kind before), and I really liked it!

I really like “Meal in a Bowl” type meals like these. We made another one this week, a Mexican-themed bowl, based on my loved of the vegetarian fajita burrito bowl at Chipotle. This was brown rice with cilantro and lime juice mixed in, topped with sauteed peppers and onions, crock-pot black beans, and diced avocado.

Delicious. Brent actually poured blue cheese dressing on his! Boys are so gross sometimes.

I was telling Brent that lately I’ve felt so “whatever” about cooking and grocery shopping. It’s a shame. I know some of it is because I just don’t have the time to be super into it anymore, but I think it is also because I haven’t made anything fun and new recently. I think I really need to try to make time once a week to try a new recipe, or a new ingredient. Just something to keep me from forgetting why I like cooking. So if you have an idea for me, let me know!