Tuesday, July 31, 2012

just do it (a deck building realization)

this past weekend my husband, craig, and i, along with the much-needed help of my father-in-law and my parents, added a deck onto our cottage.  we have over an acre of land, and love spending time outside with our little dog, olive, but we didn't really have an outdoor space that we could enjoy.  so, after a few years of talking about it, we finally planned it, got our zoning permit and broke ground.

it's funny how we put things off that we know we will enjoy.  (sure, it took a weekend and about $700 in materials to make our 18 ft by 12 ft deck come together, but the enjoyment we'll get out of it is truly priceless.)  so, why do we put off things that will ultimately bring us more happiness and enjoyment?  perhaps we're waiting for the "right time" or for the moment when our to-do list is done, but unfortunately, those moments never arrive -- they are forever in the future.

there's a lot of truth to nike's slogan...just do it.  if there's something you've been putting off (it doesn't have to be as grandiose as a weekend-long deck building project) put it on your calendar.  schedule yourself a manicure, go to a yoga class or plan lunch with a friend you haven't seen in a while.  replenish yourself instead of depleting yourself.  put as much energy into the things you love as you do your responsibilities.

olive enjoying the deck

isn't she adorable?!!

so, what are you going to do that will increase the joy in your life?...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

foodie: squash "pizzas"

inspired by this recipe and with a gorgeously round summer squash in need of use, i set out to make my very own version of squash "pizza".  the buttery squash made for a delicious (though not so stable) crust, and the fresh marinara, parmigiano reggiano cheese and garden basil, made it all the better!  the result was quite tasty, if i do say so myself.

here's what you'll need for pizza for two...

1 round summer squash
cheese of your choosing
olive oil
fresh basil

preheat oven to 400

1. cut the squash into 1/2 inch thick rounds, and place on an oiled baking sheet. drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping once, until both sides are lightly browned and the edges begin to curl up.

2. remove from the oven and top as you see fit!  caramelized onions, chopped kalamata olives and homemade pesto could be delicious, too.

3. bake for another 10 min or so, until the cheese begins to melt.

enjoy with a side salad and a glass of wine :-)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

yogi: what does namaste mean?

if you've ever wondered why "namaste" is often said at the close of yoga classes, wonder no more!  check out my brief video that explains it all.


namaste :-)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

foodie: homemade "ice cream" (and you don't need an ice cream maker!)

whenever i see recipes for ice cream on other blogs or on foodgawker, i always pass them over because (1) they often are labor-intensive, and (2) i don't have an ice cream maker.  so, you can imagine how excited i was when i found a recipe for "ice cream" with just one ingredient...yes, just one!  and, to top it off, it's healthy.  go figure.

if you're craving the cold, creamy goodness of ice cream, it's only a few simple steps away.  and, you don't even have to feel guilty about it.

here's what you'll need for one bowl of homemade ice cream...

1 banana

cut the banana into 1 inch coin, put on a plate covered with plastic wrap and put into the freezer for at least 2 hours.

put the cut, frozen banana into your food processor and blend until it magically begins to resemble a scoop of hard ice cream.  amazing!

(i jazzed mine up by adding 1 tbsp peanut butter into the food processor with the banana, and also topping my finished ice cream with another tbsp of melted pb.  delicious!  did i mention that i ate this for breakfast?!)

after getting bit by the "ice cream" bug, i decided to try another combo.

1/2 banana (i used fresh, which gave it a more sorbet-like consistency, but you could use frozen, too)
1/2 cup cherries, frozen

same deal.

and again, peanut butter makes everything better!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

foodie: cookie dough dip (and it's healthy!!!)

if you're anything like me, cookie dough has an almost magnetic appeal.  why does the dough taste even better than the cookie?!  well, as you might imagine, i was delighted when my sister shared a recipe for healthy cookie dough dip with me.

the dip has a very special secret ingredient, that perhaps you best not share with your fellow eaters until after they've tasted the delicious dip.  any guesses???...

the secret ingredient is chickpeas.  yes, that's right...beans!

i made two cookie dough dip variations (both inspired by this recipe).  here's what went down...

peanut butter chocolate chip

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
1/4 cup no-sugar-added peanut butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp soy milk (skip for a thicker dip)
1/3 cup chocolate chips

put all the ingredients (except the chocolate chips) into your food processor, and pulse until it resembles the texture of cookie dough.  mix in the chocolate and serve with fresh fruit like sliced apples and strawberries or graham cracker dippers.

white chocolate ginger coconut

1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (you could also use chickpeas)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
scant tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup shredded coconut (i used sweetened)
1/3 cup white chocolate chips

again, put all the ingredients (except the white chocolate chips) into the mixer and blend.  add in the chips and serve with fruit, graham crackers...or a spoon!

not only is this dip delicious, it's pretty healthy (compared to the real deal), and it's gluten-free, grain-free and vegan.  not too shabby!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

foodie: roasted kohlrabi & sauteed garlic scapes

our csa veggies never cease to impress!  this week brought us kohlrabi, colorful carrots and garlic scapes, plus much more :-)

flowers from the csa
i must be honest, prior to this week i had never cooked or eaten kohlrabi before.  it's a slightly sweet yet earthy root vegetable that is great cooked or raw -- roasted or in a salad or slaw.

i decided to roast the kohlrabi along with the gorgeous carrots i got from the barefoot gardens csa.  then, i sauteed up the garlic scapes with some onion until they were buttery, soft and delicious!

veggies for two...

2 medium kohlrabi, majority of outer skin removed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3-4 medium carrots, prepped and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
olive oil

preheat oven to 375/400. arrange carrots and kohlrabi on a baking sheet, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. roast for 30 minutes or until veggies are tender and begin to brown.

more veggie ideas...

1 vidalia onion, chopped
handful of garlic scapes, cut into 1 inch long pieces
olive oil

while the other veggies roast, saute the onion and garlic scapes in olive oil until onions begin to caramelize and garlic scapes are tender.  season with salt and pepper.

once cooked, the kohlrabi becomes slightly sweet, while still remaining earthy and hearty.  the garlic scapes (basically baby garlic), are subtly garlicky and very buttery!  yum!

serve the veggies with brown rice and a salad for a complete meal.


and, just to make you smile, here's a pic of olive enjoying her baby-size vanilla ice cream :-)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

foodie: rainbow chard pesto

my husband and i recently joined a csa (community supported agriculture).  basically it works like this, you pay a lump sum at the beginning of the season (which generally breaks down to $25-40/week) for fresh veggies, fruits, flowers and herbs from spring through early fall!  not only are the fresh pickins' beautiful and delicious, they force you out of your culinary rut when things like kohlrabi and rainbow chard find their way into your basket...

we were heading to an outdoor concert -- concert under the stars put on by the riverside symphonia -- last weekend, and i had offered to bring a crudite platter with hummus and pesto for dipping.  so, i decided to put some of my csa finds to good use!

vegan rainbow chard pesto

1 cup no-salt cashews
1 small bunch rainbow chard or swiss chard (csa)
1 cup basil leaves (csa)
1 tbsp garlic
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup almond milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

clean chard and basil, and but everything into your food processor.  blend until a thick, creamy and relatively smooth mixture develops.  it's that simple!

enjoy with fresh veggies, on a homemade pizza, with polenta, or on a sandwich!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

foodie: polenta pie with cashew "cheese"

this simple, yummy recipe was inspired by the feel good guru's recipe in her forks over knives cookbook. not only is this polenta pie hearty, filling and delicious, it's also gluten-free and vegan!

here's what you'll need for polenta pie for 2...

12 oz polenta (for simplicity sake, i used 1/2 a store bought log of polenta)
toppings -- like sauteed veggies (i used onions and red peppers with garlic), marinara sauce and herbs
olive oil

for the "cheese":
1 cup no-salt cashews
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp minced garlic
herbs of your choice
1/8 to 1/4 cup of water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional) -- this adds a tangy, cheesy flavor

cashew "cheese" balls
preheat oven to 375 degrees

1. spray baking tray or pizza stone with olive oil.  spread polenta onto tray (1/2 inch thickness).  i had to add a bit of water to the polenta and mash it a bit before spreading it out.  bake for 30 minutes or until edges are crispy.

2. as the polenta crust bakes, saute your veggies and make the cashew "cheese".  in your food processor, combine cashews, lemon juice, salt, garlic, herbs and yeast (if using) -- blend.  add water little by little until you achieve a thick cream cheese-like consistency.  roll cheese into balls.

3. once crust is done, take it out of the oven, and top it with marinara (or pesto!), veggies and about 1/4 of the "cheese".  i sliced up a few of the cheese balls and then pressed them flat on top.

4. put pie back in the oven for another 10 minutes or so.

allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing.  this pie, though delicious, does not hold-its-own -- you'll have to enjoy it with a fork and knife :-)

bon appetit!

on a different note, here are a few pictures of our dog-baby, olive, in the back yard.  she's such a cutie!!!

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