$40 CSN Giftcard Giveaway

Happy Cold Day! Is everyone prepared mentally for the so-called blizzard coming in by Wednesday? Supposedly we are to get hit with 1 FOOT of snow. Yikes. I am totally not looking forward to that, but I will be stocking up with water and other things in case anything happens. Am I wrong? I like taking precautions.

I wanted to start the week with a little giveaway. Actually, it is a great giveaway because a little money goes a long way!

CSN Stores has been kind enough to give a $40 giftcard to anyone in order to buy anything from any of their stores. CSN has over 200 stores and so many products to choose from.

I have purchased the following items and have enjoyed them very often as a satisfied customer.

Presto- Stainless Steel Deep Fryer

Paderno World Cuisine - Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer

Zojirushi - Mr. Bento Stainless Lunch Jar - 41.6 oz.

What can you get with your $40 giftcard?

Circulon - 80637 - Elite 11" Square Griddle

Nordicware - International Specialties Scottish Scone - Cornbread Pan


Farberware - Large Two Tone Bamboo Cutting Board Set

How good of deal is that?? Here is how to enter:

Mandatory entry: What is something you need or would want from any of the CSN stores?

Extra entries:(leave a comment for each)

2. Follow Opera Singer in the Kitchen by subscribing or through Google Friend Connect
3. Follow through Twitter @singerinkitchen
4. Like on Facebook
5. Follow CSN stores on Facebook
6. Follow CSN stores on Twitter
7. Post giveaway on your blog (leave a link)
8. Post giveaway on your Facebook page (leave a link)
9. Tweet message: " Enter to win $40 CSn giftcard and you could buy a deep-fryer or bamboo cutting board  http://bit.ly/f3kjyJ #win #giveaway"

Contest will run until Sunday, February 6th, 2011 and I will announce the winner on January 7th, 2011.

Terms and Conditions:
1. Gift Certificate Can only be used by residents of the U.S. or Canada
2. Code expires after first use.
3. Entire promotional amount must be used on first purchase.
4. If the total cost of basket exceeds the amount of money from the promotional code, you are responsible for the difference
5. Gift certificate code will be applied to all items in your basket
6. Codes CANNOT be used towards international fees. If you live in CANADA, please let me know.
7. Gift Certificate "Code" will be used during the last step of checkout under “Promotional Codes”
8. Expires March 1, 2011
9. This promotional code cannot be combined with any other promotional code or CSN Rewards Dollars


Zesty Orange and Dark Chocolate Scones

Vegan Nutella on Scone

Today has been a mighty happy and perky day despite the sunless day. Perhaps it is because I gave my body a rest from getting up at 6am. Perhaps. I do try to rest after 2 days of 6am workouts by adding an evening working, so tonight I will be going to zumba!

Despite the cloudy and cold day I decided to bring the mood music throughout the house and bake some pretty delicious breakfast or tea fare.

Have you ever listened to Anoushka Shankar and Sting's Sea Dreamer?

It is a beautiful work and the vocals are so perfect. It transports me across the ocean to a land I have never visited. It fills my imagination with spices and colors and lovely pictures of a beautiful culture. This is probably why I created a lovely smoothie this morning. It will be in my upcoming e-book! Ryan thinks it is this particular smoothie that made me hyper and perky this morning. :D

Spiced Smoothie

After that I continued my creations with veganizing a great recipe I found through Elana's Pantry which then lead me to Joy the Baker's post on Orange and Dark Chocolate Buttermilk Scones. What a way to get to a fantastic recipe! I recently added Joy's blog to my blogroll so I had missed this wonderful recipe.

The whole reason for me to try it was to finally find a recipe that sounded perfect for veganizing and that would not be like a dry biscotti. Ryan had yet to approve of a vegan scone so I decided to try my hand at it again.


Can I say something for a second? I REALLY REALLY like the orange and chocolate combination! Can anyone else say the same? I made my own buttermilk substitute by adding apple cider vinegar to SO Delicious coconut milk and I used Earth Balance instead of butter. I used very dark chocolate but not in morsels. I used 71% dark chocolate made by Equal Exchange. I chopped up the chocolate bar which caused the chocolate to disperse through the whole scone as opposed to finding the occasional piece of chocolate.

Ryan took a bite of these first and it took him a while to say anything even as he was making sounds as though he were approving of them. He thought these were SUPER delicious and flavorful. He said they were a keeper!

Vegan Nutella from Italy

How about adding some vegan Nutella? Thanks to Kris, @lavegetaliana, she sent me a bottle of vegan Nutella spread from Italy! I was VERY excited to finally try it so I slabbed on a bit on this scone. How about it? You can actually split the scone and add anything to it from more Earth Balance margarine to some delicious orange jam. Heighten the food senses!

Zesty Orange and Dark Chocolate Scones

Zesty Orange and Dark Chocolate Scones

adapted from Joy the Baker

makes 8 scones

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegan granulated sugar +1 Tablespoon for sprinkling
1 Tablespoon organic orange zest
2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold Earth Balance margarine, cut in 6 pieces
1 flax seed "egg"
  • {1 Tablespoon flax seed milled meal + 2 Tablespoons water}
1/4 cup plus 4 Tablespoons "buttermilk"
  • {So Delicious Coconut Milk + 2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar}
3 ounces Equal Exchange 71% dark chocolate squares, coarsely chopped
     or 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Using a pastry cutter, cut in margarine until mixture resembles wet sand.  In 2 small and separate bowls, prepare the flax seed "egg" and set aside for 3 minutes. Repeat with "buttermilk" process. Combine both ingredients into the flour mixture all at once, stirring enough to make a soft dough. Use your hands to bring the dough together. Fold in the dark chocolate.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead about 15 times.  Roll or pat out into circle to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into 8 small  triangles. Place on prepared baking sheet. Brush some non-dairy milk on top of each scone and sprinkle with some vegan granulated sugar.
 Bake at 425 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until slightly browned on the tops. 


Mushroom Medley over Greens and Creamed Butternut Squash


I think I finally got back into the groove. Can I say that even if the month is almost over?

It has been hard to get used to the winter this year especially after having been out of my exercise routine at Christmas. It is all good. I am embracing my 6am workouts and getting in some great smoothies and hearty breakfasts.

What has been your New Year breakfast go-to recipe?

My body naturally wants to hibernate and stay indoors but I am fighting it folks! I find that my day really DOES go better when I wake up at 6am and have a workout. I feel like I am able to get more done too! I think the Navitas Maca powder has been helping too! It is a nice superfood that will reduce stress levels and keep you energized.

I do not know about you but it is hard to be energized sitting at a desk doing a day job. I wish I had several  adjustable bar stools and a bar for that matter to sit up high, but then my legs would be dangling and my blood circulation would be bad. No worries, I get up throughout the day and stretch the legs out so that my energy continues going.

As I was perusing my recipe archive I realized I had forgotten to share a great recipe I created a while back. When we went to a fundraiser at a nice in-season restaurant in Holland I noticed there were only two choices for a vegan. Sauteed veggies over rice or mushrooms over pureed butternut squash were the options.


I naturally went for the mushroom dish. Does it not look delicious??? I simply had to recreate the dish when I got home.

I have a friend that gave me a nice butternut squash from her garden and I quickly peeled it and planned this dish.


I also hoped and prayed there would be some wild mushrooms available at the store. Sometimes they are hard to find but I had no problems this time around. How about it? A restaurant blend for me to use. Anyone care to join me at my home restaurant? ***smiling****


I detected a sweetness in the creamed butternut squash so I had to make sure I did not overdo it. Let me tell you that this is the perfect way to get your greens. It is placed right in between the squash and the mushrooms so it is completely possible to enjoy it fully. The chewiness and flavor of the mushrooms is out of this world.

This is a QUICK dinner and very filling. I am sorry if anyone is allergic to mushrooms because this was a very savory dish. Another protein can always be substituted for the mushrooms, like tempeh or baked tofu. GO ahead, try it. I dare you!

Enjoy this dish!


Mushroom Medley on Greens and Creamed Butternut Squash

print recipe

serves 2

Mushroom Medley
6 ounces of mushroom mix or just fresh shitakes or oyster mushrooms
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance margarine
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon water

4 cups collard greens, stems removed

On medium heat, heat Earth Balance margarine in a large skillet. Add mushrooms and saute' for 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper, garlic, water and vinegar and cook for another 10 minutes until liquids slighty evaporate. Liquids with thicken and slightly evaporate.

Place mushrooms in a bowl leavinga bit of mushroom juice in pan. Add collard greens to the same pan and saute' in residual liquid until softened (about 3-5 minutes).

Creamed Butternut Squash
1 butternut squash, seeded, peeled and diced in 1/2 inch cubes
  (6-7 cups worth of squash)
1/4 cup unsweetened So Delicious coconut milk
2 Tablespoon maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Chop squash and place in a medium bowl. Add olive oil, salt, pepper and maple syrup and toss well.

Pour squash mixture onto baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until roasted. Remove from oven and place back in medium bowl. Add So Delicious coconut milk and using an immersion blender or blender, cream the squash. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.


Divide the creamed butternut squash on 2 plates, then divide the greens between both plates and place on top of the squash. Finally, add the mushrooms on top of the greens. Devour!


Blueberry Oatmeal Smoothie


My Monday has started cold and dreary with an almost accident this morning.

I have not been driving long distances in the snow, since Ryan does most of our driving when we are going out of town, but boy was this morning a mess!

I woke up at 5:30am to go to my workout and it was a chilly 7degrees!! It felt like it was below negative something, but I was nice and bundled up and went for my workout.

No, it was not then when I almost slid. It was when I came back and then took Ryan to school. I was happily driving down our street and as I came to the stop sign, I started slowing down, but the car started skidding and sliding forward. If the car did not stop I would hit the car coming perpendicular to me. I kept pressing the pedal down and harder. Ryan held my arm and told me to stop.

Yikes folks. It was scary! It finally stopped and I suppose I was going too fast for the fresh snow that was coming down and slicking up the streets. Stress number 1 of the day!

What relieved my stress though?  My new yummy smoothie.

I left out the Green Monster and went with a cereal in smoothie form. I made Ryan his favorite oatmeal and I decided to drink mine.


It was creamy with protein and fiber and fruits! I normally like fresh blueberries on my oatmeal so I added some to the smoothie. It was a thick and creamy smoothie that was perfect for my post-workout snack!

I hope you try it out!

Blueberry Oatmeal Smoothie

print recipe

serves 1

1/2 cup gluten-free oats
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup almond milk, or non-dairy milk
2 dates
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
ice (optional)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 scoop protein powder (optional)
1 Tablespoon flax seed oil

Blend all ingredients in a blender or high-powered blender until smooth and enjoy!

ATTENTION!!!! If you want a chance to win one of these glass straws check out Hungry Vegan's post! Contest ends 1/31/11. Good luck!


Hearty Italian Spaghetti Marinara and Meatballs


Wednesday is over and the weekend is almost upon us. My energy level is being tested, but what can I say? Here I am writing this post at almost midnight. Shame on me, I know.

I know I have not been posting yummy goodies since last week but my attention has been set on learning music and solos for the next couple of weeks. How did I all of a sudden find myself singing in close to 5 ensembles with my 6th ensemble invitation coming in JUST today?

I am afraid that choices have to be made for the sake of sanity and balance. Have you found that to be true? I really have never been the one who has had such a hard time saying no to something but lately I have been most obliged to agree to everything.

I know what it is. I am subjecting myself to my old schedule before getting married. After graduating from college in 2002, I started singing with Houston Grand Opera chorus and I got a new position working for a great hospital. Yes. I got 2 jobs and they almost consumed my days, but they balanced each other out. I worked 6:45am to 3:15pm and then go to opera rehearsals from 6:45pm to sometimes 11:00pm.

A friend asked me yesterday how I now deal with JUST sometimes sleeping an average of 5 hours. This woman is having a hard time! My body from 2002 to 2007 dealt with it, but after getting married and moving away, I started a whole new schedule. Now I crave my beauty sleep in order to be balanced and to be sane.


Something that has become VERY therapeutic and more than a hobby has been my joy for cooking. Even Ryan knows that it is relaxing for me to go to the kitchen and create something delicious for any meal of the day. He knows that if I take on too much that other areas of my life will suffer.

Today I recited "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me." It is true. Yes, I can have a disciplined life, eat well, keep a schedule, but at the end, it is my focus on God that sustains me and gives me hope for a new day.

On that note, today I decided to take a break from recipe creations for my e-book to make a lovely and tasty recipe that I read on Kelly's blog, Vegan Thyme. Last week I saw a most scrumptious recipe for meatballs and from that day on I have had a hankering for them!

Lightlife makes a meat free ground beef style option for vegans and vegetarians alike but I had not had a chance to try it. It was $3.50 for a pound for this meat substitute for which I had no problem shelling out money for since it was a meat option for me. As you know and if you have noticed, I hardly use meat substitutes containing vital gluten, but on occasion I indulge especially when I crave a meaty texture.

This meal is SUPER quick to prepare. I added all the spices to the ground "beef" and blended it well. I then formed the meatballs and cooked them. Meanwhile I made a quick marinara and boiled pasta. C'est tout mes amies! Ryan took a bite and another and asked what the meatballs were made of. He thought the texture was almost like one of his meatball recipes. He WIPED his plate clean and claimed it was a nice and tasty meal!

Thanks Kelly for a great recipe and weekday meal. Check out her slow cooker sauce for another sauce option. Enjoy!


Hearty Italian Spaghetti Marinara and Meatballs

meatball recipe from Vegan Thyme

makes 16-18 golf-size meatballs (serves 4-6 people)

print recipe

1 16-ounce package Gimme Lean Ground Beef-style
4 Tablespoons garlic minced (about 6-8 cloves)
1 Tablespoon powdered onion
1 Tablespoon powdered garlic
1/4 cup fresh basil OR 2 Tablespoons dried basil
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons of Italian bread crumbs or Panko breadcrumbs

In a large mixing bowl, add the package of Gimme Lean ground "beef." Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and using your hands, incorporate all ingredients. Mix until well blended.

Let the mixture set for about ten minutes. Next, roll the mixture into balls about the size of golf balls. Set aside.

Next, heat a medium saute' pan with 2 Tablespoons of canola or olive oil. Add the meatballs to the pan when the oil is warm. Using a wooden spoon, rotate meatballs often to prevent from sticking to pan (if you do not have a non-stick pan). Allow them to brown slowly for about 15 minutes--checking every few minutes to turn the meatballs to cook the other side. Remove from heat until ready to use.

Meanwhile, make marinara and boil water for pasta.

Marinara Sauce

2 -28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes in heavy puree
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, diced (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon Italian seasonings
1/2 Tablespoon basil
1/2 Tablespoon agave nectar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspooon fine sea salt

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onions and cook until somewhat transparent for about 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, water and seasonings. Simmer sauce for 10 minutes. Add agave and salt and set aside until meatballs cooked.

Add cooked meatballs and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

Option: If you like drier, crispier, firmer meatballs then do not place meatballs in sauce.

Cook 1 pound of thin spaghetti pasta according to packaged directions. Drain and serve pasta on each plate and spooning 4 meatballs per plate.

Leftover meatballs perfect for a meatball sandwich! Yum!


Renée Fleming in Ann Arbor

I can't believe it is Tuesday.

Last night I was having trouble keeping up with the date and the day of the week. Was it Sunday?

Even though we had a long weekend, it went by fast. It always does. SO what did I do this weekend?

Well, Saturday was a blur...wait...I had a 3 hour rehearsal with a chamber ensemble and then I came back home and got caught up with chores. Grocery shopping on a Saturday in a university town is seriously painful but I had to do it.

After getting all the necessary cleaning done I prepared for dinner and a new recipe. I decided to work with Ryan's recipe for deep-dish pizza. The crust was already vegan but I made it half whole wheat and veganized the filling.


I will be sharing this recipe soon. It was delicious, but I think I will be reducing the amount of Daiya cheese I used and just keep a white crust for the next pizza. I am so glad I can be in this test kitchen, right?

Remember that January 29th is Vegan Pizza Day so make sure to plan on making pizza then!


On Sunday, Ryan and I headed out to Ann Arbor since he suprised me with tickets to hear Renée Fleming in recital. I was very excited to hear her. When I sang with the Houston Grand Opera chorus I did not get the one contract she was performing so I missed performing alongside her but I still got to hear and see her. We had wonderful seats in the performing hall at the U of M campus but imagine me running in HEELS with a nice dress trying to get to the recital on time. Not good. I was sad that Ryan had to park and possibly not arrive on time to get in to the beginning of the performance but thanks to God he made it quite fine.

The hall was completely packed! I had yet to see any performance hall as fully occupied as I saw this one, but I knew full well that noone would be silly enough to miss this performance.

Ms. Fleming sang for almost an hour and a half and selections I have really not been exposed to. She had 3 encores consisting of 3 crowd-pleasing arias like “O mio babbino caro” from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Strauss’s “Zueignung." The third encore piece Ryan and I both agreed that “Marietta’s Lied” from Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt was the winner of the program despite her having to introduce new pieces to the crowd.

The most unique songs performed by Ms. Fleming were pieces composed specifically for her by Brad Mehldau called “Book of Hours: Love Poems to God." The pieces had jazzy aspects mixed in with sultry sounds. As usual, Ms. Fleming delivered a spectacular performance. She wore 2 couture gowns that were sparkly and gorgeous.


What I found out before I left the performance as that I totally missed the fact that Ms. Fleming came out with a new CD this past June that is completely different music than she normally sings. It is called Dark Hope and if you listen to this excerpt from YouTube you will be amazed by how she took on this project. An opera singer crossing over and singing pop tunes definitely not in her range but totally doable and professionally done.

My favorite peice is Hallelujah. Listen to it on Playlist.


Jumbo Jalapeño Poppers


Happy wintery day to all! Despite it being quite nippy up here, we are trying to stay warm inside.

Over the past few days I had been complaining to Ryan that it has been too darn cold in our duplex. Well, the thermostat was lower than usual in order for our bill not to be so high but still, it still seemed so cold indoors.  I started putting a space heater where I work just to stay toasty.

This morning, things changed. I woke up feeling REALLY warm and toasty without a space heater. I brushed it off thinking maybe it was me, but after I returned from my workout, the house was REALLY hot. Ryan loudly proclaims that he jacked up the heater just to show me it worked. Silly hubby. I believe him now!  Love that man. 

Anyway, if you are having heater problems or are trying to save money this month, forget the heater and try my new appetizer.

Yes. Super Bowl is around the corner and good appetizers are important to have on your menu. Well, even though I did not have a party at the house, I made it a personal party. He he he.

I made these appetizers for dinner 2 nights ago with a big salad to go with it. Since I seeded the LARGE peppers I figured they would not be spicy. Whoops, I forgot to devein them too. LOL. The poopers were HOT but not enough to NOT eat them.

Ryan and I really liked these poppers and they had no dairy. They looked cheesy and were topped with breadcrumbs. I really wanted to add tempeh bacon, but my package had gone bad in the fridge over the holidays. BOO.

Please taste these. Make them and let me know how you like them. They will sure warm your whole body through and through and bring a party to the house. :D Enjoy.


Jumbo Jalapeño Poppers

print recipe

makes 20 halves

10 large or jumbo jalapeño peppers, seeded and mostly deveined
(or 20 small to medium peppers)
8 ounces Tofutti cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 Tablespoons miso paste
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon tumeric powder
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
paprika for sprinkling
1/2 cup tempeh bacon, cooked (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and position rack in center of oven.

Picture from Double Danger
Wash the peppers first. Using gloves, slice the stem of each pepper. Slice the pepper lengthwise and using a small paring knife, remove seeds and white ribs. Peppers will have sufficient heat as far as spice goes.

Mix the cream cheese, miso paste, cumin, garlic powder, and tumeric powder.

Option: Mix in cooked tempeh bacon into cream cheese.

Add about 1 Tablespoon of the cheezy mixture to each pepper. Top with 1/2 Tablespoon of panko breadcrumbs to each half of each pepper and sprinkle each pepper with paprika.

Place on the baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and enjoy!


Baked Apple Napoleon with Cashew Cream {The Sublime Restaurant Cookbook}


It is a bleak wintery day and all I want to do is be wrapped in a warm blanket drinking hot coffee and enjoying this lovely dessert.

Yes, it is only 11:00am but I still want to have some.


Yesterday afternoon I received several cookbooks in the mail from the Book Publishing Company and I immediately skimmed through The Sublime Restaurant Cookbook. I had heard lots about this restaurant and had even read some reviews on how wonderful their food tasted.

I am so excited to try MANY recipes from this book and share how you definitely need to get a copy of it ASAP! The book has 12 chapters on different dishes, from appetizers, drinks, and desserts, to sushi, pizza, and sauces. The book has great pictures to go with many of the recipes, so when I came across the recipe for the Baked Apple Napoleon, I stood in my kitchen staring intently on the picture.

I wanted this as soon as I coould bake it. It also included a recipe for Cashew Cream. Can you say, "Yes, please?"


Before I left for the holidays I left behind LOTS of apples in the refrigerator. Yes. I still had them and they were still only good for baking. Thanks to Specialty Produce for supplying me with a variety of apples but I used them up ALL for this recipe.
  • King David apples
  • Grimes apples
  • Spitzenberg apples
  • Northern Spy apples
  • Belle de Boskoop apples
Yes, this a long list of different apples to use, but they HAD to be used. The recipe calls for Granny Smith apples but I am sure the napoleon would have come out a little tarter.

I am glad that I used sweeter apples because this dessert was indeed what I thought it was. Comfort food. Dessert in its finest moment using such simple ingredients. I only made slight variations to reduce the amount of fat this dessert asked. The result was still as tasty. I only imagined the original recipe would have been a little greasier.


Baked Apple Napoleon with Cashew Cream

from The Sublime Restaurant Cookbook

Print recipe

serves 8-10 (using a 9x13 dish)

1/4 cup vegan margarine (reduced from 1/2 cup)
2 pounds of apples, cored, peeled, & sliced (original recipe called for Granny Smith)
1 cup dark rum
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed (use 1 cup w/ Granny Smith)
1 cup currants
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 box (20 sheets) phyllo dough, thawed
1/2 cup vegan margarine, melted (original recipe for 1 cup)

Melt the 1/4 cup of the margarine in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the apples, rum, and sugar and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the apples are tender. Add the currants, stir, and remove from the heat. Stir in cinnamon and let the apples cool to room tempeature.

Preheat the oven to 350 degreesF. Remove the phyllo dough from the box and unroll it. Remove half the sheets and lay them into a flat stack on a cutting board. (Refreeze the unused sheets.) Cut the stack into four 2x12inch blocks. Peel off strips of the phyllo dough from the blocks and place 10 overlapping strips in a 9x13 (original recipe called for a 4x12x5-inch baking dish). Brush the strips with some melted margarine.

Layer one-quarter of the apples over the strips and then layer with another 10 strips of phyllo dough over the apples and brush with more melted margarine. Repeat this process until the apples are in the dish and a final layer of phyllo is on top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes (original recipe called for 12-15 minutes) until top layer of the phyllo dough is golden brown. Serve with a dollop of cashew cream.

Stored in a covered container in the refrigerator, the dessert will last 3 days.

Cashew Cream

yields 3 cups

2 cups raw cashews
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup (my adaption)

Blend ingredients in a high-powered blender (like a Vitamix) and blend until smooth. Store in a tight-sealed container in refrigerator. Will last for 5 days.


Burnin' Love Chili and Chili Cook-Off

Chili Cook-off 2011

Happy 1-11-11! I like being able to be living during times with excellent dates like this. Know of anyone getting married?

Well, we were out this weekend and half of last week rehearsing with the Holland Chorale and learning new music for our next concert. Even though we have some people think it has been a long time since our last concert, I cannot believe we are looking at new music and that we will be performing next month! We learned that we have to have 6 pieces memorized out of the 12 pieces Ryan gave all of us. You could hear the gasps out of this group. MEMORIZE???  Seriously people. I think it is hard for a group that is becoming more and more professional to think that they can even achieve such a goal.

IF you did not know this, our choir is performing at Carnegie Hall in March 2011. We will be singing Haydn's Mass in Time of War with 2 other choirs and then we will have our own solo performance. Check out the date and if you live in New York, come out and watch our performance. Scroll to the very bottom of MidAmerica's page for details.

One of the breaks we got this past weekend while we rehearsed was to have a chili cook-off between the choir members. Of the 70 members, only 12 brought chili. I actually had not been planning to make chili but was asked last minute to bring a vegetarian / vegan variation, so I did.


My chili was the only vegan or meat-less chili there so I was glad I had something to eat. Some were made with chicken and others with beef. The night before, I asked Ryan to help me pick out a name for my chili. I had researched all about chili and the best chili powder to use. I went with ancho chili pepper powder, which is actually dried poblano peppers and gives chili a smoky flavor with a mild to medium spice.


Ryan helped me pick out names but one stuck out in particular. He did not think I was going to have to be required to my chili, but I did. That morning, there were tags waiting for the contestants and I immediately wrote down the name that Ryan had suggested, Burnin' Love Chili. Yes, so the title implicates this chili being very spicy but it was a dark red with medium spice. For Michigan, this WOULD be hot. Little did I know that Elvis' birthday was on the Chili Cook-off day. :)

I was worried that perhaps it would be too hot, but everyone tasted my chili and complimented me on the flavors. They wondered what the meat substitute was and the actualy ingredients. I was SUPER happy that people were genuinely asking me how I could make chili vegan.

The ballots were cast and there was tie! I tied with a non-vegan chili and funny enough, I got a Chili's giftcard as a prize. I thought that was cute.

I would like to say that I would love to share this chili recipe with you but I am preparing my e-cookbook!

I am trying to get this together as quick enough for everyone to enjoy. I have a wonderful outline and great recipes to share SO...........

If you want to make this Burnin' Love Chili tonight, then you can pre-order my e-book and get this recipe immediately emailed to you!

Pre-Order E-book and/ or Chili Recipe

If you have liked all the recipes I have posted as of yet, I know you will be excited with the recipes I will include in my e-book. Here is the outline:
  1. Smoothies
  2. Breakfast
  3. Lunch
  4. Dinner
  5. Desserts
  6. Drinks
I cannot wait to have this completed! I know you will not be disappointed.


Creamy Baby Bella Green Rice {Gluten-Free}


The school year has yet to start but that does not mean we are not back to being busy. Holland Chorale is back in session with a 3 day rehearsal schedule introducing the new music for our upcoming concert.

How many hours of rehearsal is this? Well, I am also in a chamber choir that rehearses an hour before chorale rehearsal, so I am looking at 4 hours for each rehearsal for a total of 12 -14 hours this week and weekend. Yes, this is a lot!

I finally feel like my body is slowly healing itself after that massive workout that I explained on my last post. My body still feels great so I am glad. I also feel like I am out of my slump. This wintery weather has been making me feel REALLY sleepy but I have finally been getting a little more sleep too.

Today I get to prepare a vegan chili for a chili cook-off that the Chorale is hosting so I am hoping it turns out really yummy. People will have to vote on the most flavorful chili so I am debating whether to truly make a Texan Chili with lots of spice or just keep it mild for the group.  We do need to rehearse after eating though, so I guess I answered my own question. ;-)

I have not prepared anything fancy because we had been busy packing and heading out to Holland, so on Wednesday night I quickly prepared a Mushroom Marinara to go with some thin spaghetti served with a spinach salad. I have to tell you that both Ryan and I thought that it was SO good! How can something so simples as sauteeing baby bella mushrooms with onions and garlic be so fantastic? It is almost great comfort food!

One of my new comfort meals is a faux alfredo sauce I made with the Creamy Broccoli and Mushroom Bake I prepared back in December. As a vegan, I desire something filling and creamy but not high on calories. This nutty sauce is full of protein and essential vitamins that it makes the dish a complete meal!

I took that recipe and really modified it to make my own recipe using rice and spinach. Ryan and I were having a discussion whether the original recipe for Green Rice used broccoli or spinach. I said spinach and Ryan said broccoli. Well come to find out, it was broccoli, but I had grown eating it with spinach and with lots of cheddar cheese. Total comfot food people.

My version is creamy and cheesy too but without any dairy! The nutritional yeast gives it that cheezy factor coupled with cashews for a creamy mixture. This is such a QUICK meal and very filling especially if a green spinach or salad is prepared to go with it.

I do not repeat too many recipes because I am just that type of person. Ryan has to remind me to make his favorites, but this dish needs no reminding. I am making this VERY often and you should too.


Creamy Baby Bella Green Rice{Gluten-Free}

print recipe

serves 6

For the casserole:
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups baby bella mushrooms (or any other kind), cleaned
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 1/2 cups white or brown rice, cooked
2 cups frozen spinach, semi-thawed

For the sauce:
1 cup  So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk, or non-dairy milk
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup raw cashews,( I did not soak and just used Vitamix)
2 1/2 Tablespoons arrowroot (or cornstarch)
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance margarine
3 Tablespoons Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos (Bragg Liquid Aminos or soy sauce)
2 1/2 Tablespoons tahini paste
1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, peeled

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Chop mushrooms, carrots, and onions and add to the olive oil and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5-7 minutes.

Add spinach and cook for 5 more minutes, allowing the spinach to thaw and cook in veggie mixture. Reduce the heat to medium and add the rice. Mix well.

While the veggies are cooking, combine all sauce ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. Add the sauce to the rice and veggie mix and cook for 10 more minutes until the sauce thickens.

Ready to serve with a big green salad. A very filling and most delicious meal.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Green Monster Smoothie and Workouts

Chocolate Peanut Butter Green Smoothie

The past 2 days I have been experiencing HARD workouts at a local gym that was offering a free 3 week trial to what their classes were like. I have had the option to do group training or semi-private training, which I have yet to try.

I was suprised that after the holidays I was able to go back and wake up at 6am for my morning workouts. IT has come with some repercussions. My body has been tired and been wanting to hibernate. Even though I worked out some while in Texas, it was not nearly the same regimen as I was following back home.

I have been feeling tired and sore, but then OH so GOOD! I checked out a Total Body Transformation class where I was thought how to correctly stretch for 5-7 minutes. This class was also going to teach me the basics for all other classes. I was already sweating within that time! BY the time we got into the workouts, I truly felt that my body was warmed up.

You know you have been the one to get on the treadmill or the elliptical machine without stretching because I have done it too. It is the worst thing for the knees. Anyway, our trainer really showed how to work ourown bodies using our own strength. Even though weights and machines are great, it is AMAZING how much more of a full workout it is when using your own strength to get the work done.

This all included planks, bands,TRX suspension training, balance balls, and pushups. Yes, it was amazing how I felt after my first workout. What I totally did not expect was how I was going to feel the next day.

The trainer told me after class that he totally thought I was ready to try the group classes and/or semi-private classes. He could tell the stuff we were doing was easier for me than others. It was GREAT to know I have been in better shape and health to be able to progress further in my routine and workouts.

IN comes TODAY. Group class with the same trainer.

I did well the first 15 minutes and then thought. "Oh my goodness, I have 45 more minutes!" LOL

I partnered with a gal who had been doing the classes for a while. We did circuit training with a variety of methods. I also worked with kettlebells for the FIRST time.

I was huffing and puffing at the 45 minute mark and we still had 15 more minutes of intense workout. CRAP

Yes. It was good. I worked my booty hard and even though I was offered lighter weights or easier ropes (for arm workouts), I refused. I did not want to be a slacker. I did reach the point where I modified 2 different steps in order not to get overheated.

Silly me had coffee in th evening. BIG bad NO NO. I was dehydrated in the morning and my breathing was belabored. I know the difference. I live and learn.

What I forgot was to have a bit of protein before going to my workout so I was also getting nauseous and slightly dizzy.

Once I got home from my CRAZY workout I was starving.

I craved a GREEN SMOOTHIE! Yes, I have had one since coming back from my holidays, so this was my second one and I really craved chocolate and peanut butter. This has been a first friends.

Note to all. This smoothie was definitely a MEAL REPLACEMENT. I calculated the calories and have planned accordingly for my day.

It really hit the spot and tasted more like a shake than anything. If you are reading this now and have never had a green smoothie before, try this one.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Green Smoothie

Chocolate Peanut Butter Green Monster Smoothie

Print recipe

serves 1 (16 ounce) or 2 (8 ounces)

total (500 calories in the 16 ounce serving)

1 banana (frozen or fresh)
2 Tablespoons Trader Joe's smooth peanut butter
2 Tablespoons organic cocoa powder
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup SO Delicious original coconut milk
1 scoop protein powder
2 cups packed spinach
1 Tablespoons flaxseed oil
1/2 Tablespoon agave nectar or maple syrup

Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth.

I left out the ice so I would not get cold but Adding ice is an option or using a frozen banana is good too.


Mediterranean Lover's Pizza {Hummus included!}


The snow has finally decided to come back to us. As I sit here writing this post, the beautiful snowflakes are coming down.

Since the new year has arrived and holiday binge eating no longer exists, we have been focusing on delicious vegetables and salads in our home. It seems as though these foods do not look quite attractive while traveling but once in the comfort of one's home, all is well.

I probably should be working on soups and warm foods, but my body has been asking for salads and Mediterranean fare. We are actually have had this yummy fare twice this week already!

Every time I venture making this meal I seem the make the same recipes over and over again.
  • Hummus
  • Roasted Potatoes
  • Fattoush
  • Tabbouli
  • Pita
When we were in Houston, Ryan and I and my in-laws all had a chance to eat at California Pizza Kitchen. I know many of you like this place, and who wouldn't? It has SO many choices, and mostly all for the meat lover.

As I searched for options, I realized I was complicating it. Have you found, as a vegan, that we tend to be the most creative when there is something you have not quite seen on a menu? I do this ALL the time!

I noticed on the menu an option for Greek Salad Pizza, but it had feta, chicken and pesto. I liked the salad part. I quickly decided I would ask the waitress if they could make the pizza with hummus instead of the pesto, and she gave me a quizzical look and said "Are you sure?" and I assured her I had eaten it like that before.I then asked her to leave the greek salad and to add to mentioned avocado.

When I received the pizza it looked delicious, but somewhat bare. I wondered where the lettuce was. The waitress said it did not come with lettuce. Sigh. All is well. She brings me lettuce and I am happy.

Well folks, I decided that when I got home I would make my own creation based on my own creation from CPK with my own flatbread recipe and yummy ingredients.

The result: The recipe made 2 flatbread pizzas for 2 people, enough for a whole meal. I asked Ryan whether he enjoyed and if it was enough and he said he really liked it! Ryan is not a chickpea lover but he has learned to really like hummus. Thumbs up!

I hope you make this pizza. It really is very healthy and very satisfying.

Mediterranean Lover's Pizza

makes 2 individual pizzas

Print recipe

1 1/2 cups whole wheat white flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
6oz plain SO Delicious coconut yogurt (or any other dairy-free version)
Olive oil (for grilling)

Sift first 4 ingredients into medium bowl. Stir in parsley and garlic. Add yogurt and stir with fork until small clumps form. Knead mixture in bowl just until dough holds together.

Heat pizza stone in oven on 450 degrees or heat olive oil on stovetop grill on medium heat.

Divide dough into 2 portions. Sprinkle cornmeal on flat and clean surface and roll out dough until close to 12 inches in diameter.

Add dough to pizza stone (sprinkle cornmeal on pizza stone before placing dough on stone) and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Or, add dough to stovetop grill and grill pizza for 7-10 minutes, flipping flatbread after 5 minutes. When completely cooked. Place in warm oven to keep warm. (Option 1: add hummus at this point and heat in oven at 350 degrees while making the other flatbread pizza) Make the 2nd flatbread.



Option 2: Add 1/2 cup cold hummus to each flatbread and slice in 4.


Make Mediterranean salad and add 2 Tbsp of salad to each slice and serve.


Mediterranean Salad
1 cup romaine lettuce, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
4 radishes, diced
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 English cucumber, chopped (1/2 inch)
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced in half and pitted
1 lemon, juiced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 Tbsp Za'atar spices (or 1/2 teaspoon salt and oregano)


makes 1 1/2 cups

1 16 ounce can chickpeas, reserve 2 Tbsp of liquid
1 Tbsp Tahini butter (sesame seed butter)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp cumin
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
olive oil for drizzling

Place chickpeas in processor and add chickpea liquid, garlic cloves, lemon juice, tahini, and spices. Process until combined.  Keep processor on and little by little add the olive oil until the mixture becomes smooth. It should not be grainy.

Do you have any favorite Mediterranean recipes that you make often?


Happy New Year! {Monkey's Cocktail & Chilean Fruitcake}


Happy New Year friends! I scarcely can believe that a new year is upon us! As Ryan was reading a satire on the events that transpired in 2010, I forgot several events. Whoa, lots happened this year!

What will the year 2011 hold for us? Even though we have lots of events and trips planned this year we ask God to bless our plans because plans can change.

Yesterday we went to a New Year's Eve party and we played a game called Two Truths and a Lie and used New Year's resolutions as the theme. My three were the following:
  1. Write an e-cookbook
  2. Learn conversational German
  3. Learn how to crochet
Can you guess which one is the lie?



It was great celebrating New Year's Eve amongst friends with laughter, games and some yummy appetizers and champagne. I told Ryan that I would like to celebrate by going to a ball and dressing up really fancy like in When Harry Met Sally, remember?

I was surprised to celebrate the last day of 2010 with no vision of snow. Apprently we brought the warm weather from Texas because a rain hit Michigan and melted the snow and the temperatures rose to the 50s. No worries. Today is the 2nd and it is back to snowing! I hope it has made its mind up.

When I was preparing for the New Year's Eve party, I decided I would arrive with 2 traditional Chilean recipes usually eaten on that evening.

Cola de mono

Cola de Mono, or otherwise known as Monkey's Tail, is usually consumed at parties and is usually so heavily spiked with pisco (Chilean liquor) or aguaardiente (a grape-distilled spirit) that it would have everyone acting crazy like monkeys. Yes. Well pisco is usually is hard to find outside of Chile so I decided to use rum even though vodka or brandy could be used. I made a veganized version using So Delicious Coconut milk.

This nog is like a spiked coffee beverage similar to Bailey's but BETTER! It has several spices and lots of love in it.

My grandmother would normally have this prepared by the time we came around the house so it was chilled and ready to be sipped, mind you, sipped! Another recipe she would have prepared is Pan de Pascua, Chilean Christmas Bread.

After 25 years of living in the states, my grandmother started cutting corners and made the bread using cake mixes. I am shocked even to remember that fact because I believe after a certain time WE can all do that. Cooking is hard work especially when it is made from scratch. I actually had to look up several recipes and compare and remember how my grandmother made it. I came up with a veganized version.


Pan de Pascua resembles fruitcake and stollen and makes a perfect accompaniment with the cola de mono.
I was glad to be able to use al natural dried fruits and none of that candied crap you see at the stores. I liked my version and I believe it is a keeper!

I will not be sharing these recipes because I am going to feature them in my cookbook. Yes. I know everyone and their mom is coming out with their own cookbook, but I am hoping to add a little twist and incentive for presenting my cookbook so stay tuned! I WILL need recipe testers.

This is one of my goals for this year. Want to see some more?
    • Finish Lord of the Rings books
    • Learn 5 new arias or more
    • Record a CD
    • Learn conversational German
    • Document the year with one picture a day (365 project)
    • Read God's word daily
    • Make more jewelry
    • Lose more weight
    • Continue a disciplined workout schedule
These are just some of the things that have been in my mind lately. As I write this, a verse came to mind from the book of Proverbs, 19:21 "Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails."

Ultimately, God knows all that will happen and if it is His will these thing will come to pass. Here is to a blessed New Year!
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