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4.28.2011

Chocolate Coconut-Cashew Truffles

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Wednesday is almost over even though I feel like it should be Friday already. It has been terribly rainy here but hopefully after April showers are over May will bring us sunny days. We walked around the house to realize that mowing season is finally here. Once it stops raining the whole task of mowing will start by Ryan.


I have really not cooked this week yet...my post-nasal drip has really been quite annoying and has caused no desire to cook. Either way, I had excuses not to cook. :D I met with a friend for dinner on Monday and I had a giant dish of pasta that I promptly added half to a doggie bag. Those leftovers were then consumed on Tuesday with a green salad.


What did I cook yesterday? I DID make a vegan coffeecake that was delicious! I will be posting about that sometime this week.
In about a week I will be leaving for a quick trip to Houston. My sister is getting married and I will be the matron of honor! Thank God my dress still fits and that the weather will be perfectly hot while in Texas. I can't believe it has been in the 70s and 80s while we have been keeping bundled in our rainy 30s and 40s weather. It sounds like many people have been dealing with weather changes all over the US.


I also found out that my mother is putting an impromptu baby shower while I am in town so Ryan and I quickly put some stuff on Amazon and Target to get things started. Boy, was I a tad bit stressed. I was reading up on different carriers, strollers and pack 'n plays. Let's just say that even though we do not know the sex of the baby there was enough for us to place on our registries.


Since I was busy doing that today we decided to go out for dinner. A nice dinner consisting of burgers and beer-battered fries was perfect before going to zap some items to our Target registry. Have I told you I have been enjoying Arnold Palmers lately? They are so soothing and yummy! Although I need to remember not to down them so quickly before dinner because I then feel gross. During dinner Ryan mentioned that his dad had asked whether I was still getting nauseous over certain foods and he told him about my hummus disaster from last week. As soon as Ryan told me that, I remembered how I felt sick and I almost lost my dinner tonight. Ryan immediately told me to think about something else, QUICKLY!


Sigh...on another note, I finally purchased my first pair of maternity pants!


It took me a long time trying on clothing and making sure these would last me throughout my pregnancy but I finally decided to buy them especially since they were on sale. SCORE! Yes, I bought maternity skinny jeans. Even before I was pregnant I never owned a pair but somehow these were super comfortable and cute.


I am not usually a big online shopper when it comes to clothing but does anyone have GO-TO stores they like buying from for matenity clothes or bras? Any help would be great!


Anyway, down to what I am featuring today. Remember the Coconut-Cashew Cream Tarts?


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Well, I had a 1/2 cup left of this cream left and I decided to make some truffles. I froze 20-1 Tablespoon balls of the cream on a parchment-lined baking sheets and I froze them for an hour.


Meanwhile I prepared a hot water bath and melted half dark chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate. I removed the frozen cashew-coconut cream and dipped each ball into the chocolate, placing each of them back on the baking sheet. I then just placed them back in the freezer for quick solidifcation. These were delicious once they sat out from the freezer for about 10 minutes.


These are stored perfectly in the refrigerator for later consumption. Enjoy!


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Chocolate Coconut-Cashew Truffles


makes 20 truffles


1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chocolate chips
1/2 cup coconut-cashew cream (see recipe)


Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Add 1 Tablespoon of coconut-cashew cream on the sheet 1/2 inch apart, trying to create a ball. Place in the freezer for an hour until solid.


Meanwhile, in the top of a double boiler over hot water, not boiling water (don't let the bottom of the bowl touch the water, melt chocolate; stirring until smooth. NOTE: Be careful boiling water may cause steam droplets to get into chocolate which can result in "seizing," when the chocolate becomes stiff and grainy.


If you don't have a double boiler you can improvise one by placing a glass or stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water (don't let the bottom of the bowl touch the water). Thanks to whatscookingamerica for note)


Remove the coconut-cashew balls from the freezer. Using a fork place the ball in the chocolate, covering the entire thing. Use a spoon as well to help cover the cream ball. Place each of them back on the baking sheet and place them in the freezer to complete solidification.


Enjoy them at room temperature. Remove from the freezer for 10 minutes before consuming.

4.25.2011

Pretzel Rolls

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A new week! A new week! I pray that everyone had a beautiful Easter. It was wonderful having breakfast with our church family and then coming together to worship our risen Savior. The day was gorgeous and the company was pleasant.


The weekend went by so quickly, because I still had to work on Friday. I hope everyone had a beautiful and restful weekend too! I know I said I would be blogging but I see that I posted last Monday and I wondered where the whole week went by. It is amazing the amount of work that can get done when one not on the computer, go figure, but I also think that nursing a cough and cold also did not make me feel like blogging about it either.


Out went the first trimester and in came the second trimester. Thank God for helping me because the 24/7 nausea has disappeared. Don't get me wrong. The nausea and vomiting has not disappeared. I am still sensitive to the smells and my tummy is now deciding what it wants and what it will reject.


Remember when I was sick back in February? Yeah, it seems like I relapsed. I don't know where it came from or how I got it but it was REALLY frustrating not being able to take medications. I mean, the doctor's office gives you a list of "Approved" medications a pregnant woman can take but in reality, who wants to give that to the baby?


I spent the whole week drinking hot teas made of fresh lemon juice, fresh grated ginger, cardamon, cayenne pepper, and honey. I really really think it helped me fight this cold because this is the shortest it has ever been. I also did some steam inhalation therapy with peppermint and eucalytus oils and I also rubbed the oils on my chest, neck, and the bottom of my feet. I also had a humidifier too. I think these all saved me, for real! It is pretty amazing how quickly natural therapy can heal.


Well, despite being sick, I DID cook. I managed to really cook 15-30 minute meals this week which really made for light dish washing and more time for chores. Ha!

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One of the most exciting recipes was making pretzel rolls. Last Monday I read Jessica's step-by-step post on Tasty Kitchen on making pretzel rolls and I was sold on making them. I am finding my fear of making bread is quickly subsiding because the more I make homemade bread, the quicker I find how easy it is to make and prepare.


We had friends visit and when I realized I was all out of bread and all out of budget money I turned to making my own rolls for lunch. I planned making egg salad sandwiches witht the rolls hopeing the combination would proves successful.


The step-by-step process is EASY and fun. Once the dough is prepared and it has been given time to rise, the dough is placed in a baking soda bath before baking, causing the dough to expand. Ryan was REALLY impressed by the rolls because I surprised him with sandwiches and he took one look at them and said "You made these????" I like impressing my husband, don't you?


I made a spread consisting of egg salad sandwiches, fresh carrots, lettuce for the sandwiches, celery, and a nice fruit salad. It was a great lunch and a quick one too! I really hope you make these because they are perfect for everyday and even for company or as dinner rolls.


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Pretzel Rolls


for step by step pics visit Jessica's post

1 ½ cup warm water (110°F)
1 package (1/4 Oz. Packet) active dry yeast (not Quick Rise Yeast)
2 teaspoons agave nectar
4 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
4 Tablespoons Earth Balance margarine, melted
¼ cup baking soda
For the wash: 1 Tbsp melted Earth Balance + 2 Tbsp non-dairy milk
Pretzel Salt, To Sprinkle On Top

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water and the yeast and let rest 5 minutes until foamy.

Add the agave nectar, flour, salt, and butter; mix with the dough hook until thoroughly combined.

Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.

Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.


Cut the dough into 18 pieces (2 ounces each). To shape, take a piece of dough and start forming a round, smooth ball by pulling the sides to the center and pinching to seal. Place, pinched side down, on a counter and lightly cupping your hand around the dough ball, rotate your hand in small circles lightly rolling the ball around the palm of your hand.

Place the ball on the baking sheet pinched seam side down, with at least 1” between each roll. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes until doubled.

Preheat oven to 425°F and place oven racks on the lowest and middle positions.

In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a low boil. Add the baking soda and lower heat to a simmer. Put the rolls into the poaching liquid, seam side down. Poach for 30 seconds then carefully turn the roll over in the liquid. Poach other side for 30 seconds then remove with a slotted spoon to the same prepared sheet pans, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining rolls.

With a pastry brush, glaze each roll with the melted Earth Balance and milk mixture, making sure to coat all sides completely. Top each roll with a sprinkle of pretzel salt (I used kosher salt).

Bake the rolls in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.


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4.18.2011

Fruity Coconut-Cashew Cream Tarts

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What? It is snowing this morning???? Well, after an hour of light snow, most of it is melted now. The strange thing is that it really is not that cold today. How about starting a Monday morning like that?


I am glad that I had a restful weekend because activities are going to start picking up here in the next 3 weeks. The end of the semester means a lot concerts for Ryan and some singing for me, but most of all, is not being able to do anything to help him out with his work load. I can make sure the house is cleaned, meals are prepared and any house-related issues are taken care of, but sometimes I just want to be able to help him.


That is what the weekend was mostly about. I took care of the house and errands and he was busy with rehearsals and performances. I am hoping he can have some downtime soon. This past Sunday I sang the Mozart "Alleluia", which went pretty well. I have Easter Sunday solo, so I will be singing this song for my church.


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Easter is such a beautiful time of year. It always reminds me of the sacrifice that Jesus made for our lives. I sometimes take each day for granted, not thanking God for the amazing blessings he has bestowed on our families and our lives. If you are not familiar with Easter is celebrated I encourage you to read about Holy Week leading up to Easter HERE.


My mother would be so proud of me this weekend. She has been great about reminding me about making sure I eat my greens. Since getting pregnant, I have not had a desire for greens, so I have been putting them in mt smoothies. Yesterday I decided to made veggie enchiladas with dinosaur kale.


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I pureed black beans and then placed warm tortillas in the beans and heated them. I then placed one tortilla at a time on my plate and filled them with flash-fried garlicky kale, red onion, and red pepper. I topped it off with avocado and some queso fresco. It was the quickest lunch and most satisfying too!


I also was inspired to make a raw dessert too! I really wanted fresh fruit and some sort of creamy filling so I created a cashew-coconut cream filling, made a raw nutty crust and refrigerated the tart and then added some pineapple and blackberries as a topping. It was SO GOOD!


I can feel as though summer is approaching so I was inspired to make this raw dessert because I have not really desired it. I was excited and sad that I have not been creating too many raw desserts so I will be focusing more on that now that the season for fresh fruit is here.


I really recommend this combination of cashew cream made with coconut because it creates a creamier cream and it adds a tropical flair to it too! I hope you can make this! It can be doubled or tripled for Easter lunch or dinner too!
Are you looking for other Easter RAW desserts or treats? You should check out Better Raw's newest e-book called Seduced: Raw Chocolate Recipes. More people should know about Tanya's story and website. She has amazing recipes using all natural ingredients. I mean you really cannot go wrong with chocolate for sure! I can't wait to try several of her recipes!

20110418_19

Fruity Coconut-Cashew Cream Tarts

Own creation: raw, vegan, and gluten-free
makes 2 tarts

Crust
1/2 cup raw almonds
8-10 Medjool dates

Cream Filling
makes 1 1/2 cups cream

1/2 cup raw cashews
1 cup dried unsweetened coconut chips, or shredded coconut
4-6 Tablespoons So Delicious vanilla coconut milk
2 Tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 Tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
1/4 cup agave nectar or maple syrup

Fruit of your choice or
10 blackberries and 8 pieces of fresh pineapple.

Soak the cashews and coconut in water for 6 hours. (Make sure water covers the nuts)

Meanwhile prepare the crust in a food processor. There is no need to soak the nuts or dates. Process the almonds and dates until the mixture resembles wet sand. Divide mixture between 2 small tart pans (size 4 1/4 inch with removable bottoms) Press the mixture into the bottom making sure it is even in the edges as well. Refrigerate until coconut cashew cream is prepared.

After the cashews and coconut has soaked, DRAIN the liquid and place the nuts into a Vitamix or other high-powered blender. Add the coconut milk, and the rest of the filling ingredients. Blend until mixture is smooth.

Add 1/2 cup cream into each tart pan. Use the 1/2 cup reserve for dipping strawberries or other fruit. Refrigerate tarts for no less than an hour.

Remove from refrigerator and decorate with desired fruit. Devour quickly!

4.16.2011

Natural Products Expo Giveaway Winner

Hi all! I hope you are having a great weekend. Mine has been filled with a little drama. I have always heard about people having issues with website, domain names, and such. Well, I learned a little after I found out that the hosting site migrated my site and my husband and I talked to numerous people until I finally talked to someone today that made sense of the mess. Thanks to him the issue is solved!Thanks for your patience!!

Enough talk about that. I want to announce the winner of the wonderful goodies that the Natural Products Expo included: one month supply of Popchips and $25 worth of SO Delicious coupons. Drum roll.........

Janice said...
following @popchips as @cappytweet

Thank you all who entered! It was definitely exciting so stay tuned for the next giveaway folks.

4.13.2011

Baked Tofu and Veggie Egg Rolls with Sweet and Sour Sauce

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It seems like spring is finally here friends! The sunshine has been shining and the weather has been gorgeous. I think it is still trying to make its mind up though. "Dear God, can we not have snow this weekend? Thanks!"


Today is day 3 of no nausea. The books were not kidding when they said that nausea should subside by the 13th week. Woohoo. Granted....I must eat at my right time or else nausea DOES set in. At least it is not constant nausea, you hear? Or the other stuff....


I had a wonderful voice lesson yesterday and the question came up from my teacher, "How ya been feeling?" When I told him I had been throwing up, he told me that was not so great for the vocal chords. Oh, did I not know that! Yuck! Even so, it was not happening everyday, but I vocalized and he promptly told me that I sounded great! Always good news.




I am working on the "Alleluia" from Mozart's Exultate jubilate for a service next week and for Easter Sunday for my church service. I am so excited to add this to my repertoire. I have not forgotten though, I will be adding TWO recordings soon from my last performances. It has been a great joy to sing while being pregnant, especially to see how my breath support will change.


How about food? Eating has been an obstacle lately. Here I just mentioned that even though my morning sickness seems to be subsiding then I start losing my appetite. Everyone knows I enjoy cooking and baking but lately, it has been the last thing I really want to do. I was good though in being inspired to make egg rolls.

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I know there are egg-free wonton wrappers out there but I used Nasoya egg roll wrappers for my egg rolls. I cut up a lot of veggies and pressed some tofu to make the filling. It definitely required seasoning for the perfect flavoring. Even though I have been enjoying some fried foods, I wanted to make these egg rolls baked instead. Fewer calories, ya know! UPDATE: I have purchased egg-free wrappers at Asian or international markets usually labeled Gyoza wrappers or egg roll wrappers even though they are egg-free.


I made a killer sweet and sour sauce with some added fresh ginger and fresh pineapple. Forget buying the bottled stuff with who knows what in it. Make it at home! This indeed was a SIMPLE dinner. Of course you can make a fried rice or a soup on the side, but I was super happy to have this made within an hour! Enjoy!

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Baked Tofu and Veggie Egg Rolls

adapted from All Recipes

2 1/2 cups shredded cabbage (about 1/2 a head)
1 cup shredded carrots (about 8 carrots)
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped white onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons grated fresh ginger
4 Tablespoons sesame oil
14 ounce extra-firm tofu
1 1/2 Tablespoons arrowroot starch (or cornstarch)
2 Tablespoons agave nectar
1/4 cup soy sauce, (or liquid aminos)
21 Nasoya egg roll wrappers (or vegan wrappers)

Press tofu for 30 minutes before cooking. Meanwhile prepare your veggies.

Coat a large skillet with the sesame oil; add the first seven ingredients. Cook and stir over medium heat until vegetable are crisp-tender, about 7-10 minutes. Add tofu; heat through.

In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, arrowroot starch and agave nectar and mix well; stir into tofu and veggie mixture. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes; remove from the heat. Spoon 1/4 cup of mixture on the bottom third of one egg roll wrapper; fold sides toward center and roll tightly. Place seam side down on a baking sheet covered with parchment papaer. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.

Brush the tops of egg rolls with sesame oil or olive oil. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

I preferred by a little golden brown and crunchy. Make the sweet and sour sauce.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

adapted from About.com

makes 1 1/4 cups

2/3 cup white or rice vinegar (Note: rice vinegar gives better results)
8 Tablespoons agave nectar
2 Tablespoons ketchup
3 teaspoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons arrowroot starch mixed with 8 teaspoons water
1/4 cup fresh pineapple, diced
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, diced

Mix the vinegar,agave nectar, ketchup, and soy sauce together and bring to a boil in a small pot. Mix together the arrowroot starch and water, add to the other ingredients and stir to thicken.

After the sauce has thicken, add the pineapple and the ginger and remove from heat. The sauce can be eaten at room temperature or warm depending on tastes.

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4.08.2011

Portabella Burger with Russian Dressing and Onion Rings

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I finally prepared a meal that did not upset my tummy. I am 12 weeks pregnant and have been really nauseous and sick to my tummy. The past 2 days have been filled with emptying the tummy and going to sleep with just fluids. Not good, I know.


When I woke up this morning I felt queasy and immediately stuffed 1/2 a banana in my mouth before getting ready to drop Ryan off at school. The banana definitely helped for a bit but then I had a bagel and later had an egg. Blech....my stomach rejected these foods today even though I had been enjoying them the last few weeks.


After a choir rehearsal, I decided I would try a green monster smoothie. I knew I needed greens and protein so I packed in coconut milk, water, spinach, blueberries, protein powder, flaxseed oil and blended away. My tummy was soothed! Yay!


The key then was to know what to make for dinner. When I quickly went grocery shopping in the morning I saw items to make veggie egg rolls. As the morning went by I was not feeling that anymore but I was still debating it because then I ran across a post at Clean Green Simple's website talking about portabella burgers! I have become so indecisive lately especially since I have been really nauseous, so menu planning has been so hard!


Thank you Facebook fans for helping me make up my mind for tonight's dinner. It was perfect and it settled really nicely in my tummy. Sigh...


I made some crunchy baked onion rings for the FIRST time! I am so sad I just tried making them because I could have been making them all this time. Nevermind that. Now I can make them often. It was a quick and savory recipe thanks to Isa Chandra's recipe.


I also made a Russian sauce to add to the sandwich that kind of reminded me of a Thousand Island dressing. Since I did not add too much spice on the portabella cap, I decided to make a sauce. Ryan thought it was flavorful and interesting. I am glad I have leftovers because I have 2 more mushroom caps left!


Enjoy this quick dinner!


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Portabella Burger with Russian Dressing

makes 2 sandwiches

For the Burger:
Two portobello mushrooms, stems removed
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 hamburger buns
2 romaine leaves
1 tomato, cut into 1/2 inch slices
4 Tablespoons of Russian Dressing

Russian Dressing

adapted from All Recipes

makes 1 1/2 cups

1 cup Vegenaise (vegan mayo)
3 teaspoons minced onion
1/2 teaspoon wasabi powder (or prepared horseradish)
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3 tablespoons sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup


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Oven-Baked Onion Rings
 
 
2 large vidalia onions (about a pound)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour (I have used brown rice or amaranth flour to make this GF)
2 tablespoons arrowroot starch (or cornstarch)
1 cup cold So Delicious coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons olive oil

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

Combine flour, arrowroot starch, coconut milk, and apple cider vinegar in a medium bowl.

Slice onions into 3/4 inch thick rings. Separate the rings and place in a bowl. In the other bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and salt. Drizzle in the oil and use your fingertips to mix it up well.

Line up each bowl in order:
  1. Bowl of onions
  2. Bowl with flour mixture
  3. Bowl with breadcrumbs
  4. Baking sheet
Dip onions into flour mixture with one hand, shaking excess, then place the onion in the breading. Using a fork, sprinkle breadcrumbs onto onion until fully cover. Place onion ring on baking sheet. Repeat process with the rest of the onion rings.

Bake for 8 minutes on one side, flip, and bake for an additional 6 minutes on the other side, or until they are golden brown and crisp.


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While the onion rings are baking, heat your grill to medium and brush your portabellas with balsamic vinegar. Oil your grill and cook them for 3-5 minutes per side or until they are slightly softened and browned. You can also toast your buns by putting them on the grill for about 30 seconds, if you want.

Once your onion strings and portabellas are done, assemble your burger – Add 1 Tablespoon of Russian dressing, portabella,lettuce, and tomato and serve with crispy onion rings.

4.06.2011

Natural Products Expo Prize Pack Giveaway


Happy mid-week everyone! I think it has gone by so quickly already and before you know it the weekend will be here already! :-)


As you can see it has been a little slow around here due to a change in life. Thanks for being patient and coming to read whatever I post. I miss posting more often but I am hoping once this morning sickness bit leaves me, I will be more inspired to cook more meals and to post them. Ironically enough, I have made more desserts lately because the smell does not bother me. Once they are baked and ready though, I am totally not in the mood to eat them. I gave more than half that pan of Crunchy and Fruity Shortbread Bars away! Don't you just wish you lived next door to me?  I need more food takers!


If you have a chance, I posted a questionnaire on my Facebook page with 5 options as answers. Please take a quick look and see what is most attractive. It would really help me out. Thanks a bunch.


Before I left for New York, I was contacted by the amazing people at So Delicious asking me if I could host a giveaway centered around the recent Natural Products Expo that happened in Anaheim, California. When I perused the website and watched a youtube video highlighting some of the products featured at the expo, I was a bit jealous that I was not able to be there. The Expo is where the newest healthy foods and environmental products are launched and if you couldn't make it to Expo yourself - you can take a quick peak at some of the fun things that were happening in Anaheim California at the trade show.

Featured on the video is celebrity nutritionist Christine Avanti (she has overhauled diets for Chelsea Handler, Jeremy Piven, and Jason Statham to name a few) was touring around Expo and included So Delicious in a video of her favorite finds.



It is simply amazing the amount of new products being created for those with food allergies and sensitivities. We are no longer living in a society where gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegans is considered something strange and alien.

Here is an example of new products to come from So Delicious alone! They will be coming out with a new No Sugar Added Coconut Milk Frozen Desserts (only 1 gram of sugar)in May, a new dairy-free Greek yogurt (vanilla, chocolate and strawberry) arriving in stores this summer, and an outstanding vegan Nog (no eggs here) coming out for holiday in November.


How exciting is that? I am VERY excited.


So Delicious has a great giveaway for you. If you were not able to make it to the expo, ONE lucky reader can feel like they went to Expo because So Delicious will send them some products that were found at Expo. 


They are going to give ONE reader a great Natural Products Expo gift package complete with $25 worth of So Delicious treats, a months worth of vegan Popchips (worth $30) and some other fun goodies that they picked up in California.

This is only open to US readers.

Mandatory entry:
  • From the video, what new Popchips flavors are coming soon? (2 answers)
Extra entries (Leave a comment for each) (make sure to leave you email, if not shown on your blog or elsewhere!)
The last day to enter will be Wednesday, April 13th at midnight, EST. I will announce the winner on Friday, April 15th.

4.04.2011

Crunchy and Fruity Shortbread Bars {Gluten-free & Vegan}

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Happy Monday everyone! I woke up fully energized after a nice long weekend. It has been almost a week since we returned from New York and I think I am FINALLY caught up on my sleep from that trip! I probably will not feel rested until I have this baby of mine, but I can say for sure that I feel wonderful today. That is all that counts. Living one day at a time and with purpose.

Saturday morning was spent cleaning house. After being away from home, there was plenty of unpacking, cleaning, and washing to be done. Saturdays were usually cleaning days but who wants to be doing that during the weekends? Ha ha ha, right, I know.

Well, I got up at 8:30am and had many plans. I left the house thinking I could do errands for a quick 30 minutes and then return home and have breakfast. WRONG. Waves of nausea attacked me and I had to pull on the side of the road, enter the supermarket parking lot and heave. How embarassing! What can one possibly have in their tummies just after waking up? Yeah, you DON'T wanna know.

I quickly bought an egg sandwich to get some protein in my body. Yes folks, I have been eating more like a vegetarian lately. Well, all in all, I have needed to eat meat since I have not been able to stand the sight of beans, tempeh, or tofu. I am seeing this as a stage where my hormones are raging against me but I know I still need to eat. I know I need to do what is best for my body and my little figgy at this moment.

Anyway, I learned after getting sick in the parking lot, that I should not leave home without forcing myself to eat something AND to take some snacks with me. I am so slow, but eventually I will get there. Good news though! I am 11 weeks into this pregnancy which means I have one more week until I am past the 1st trimester, which means that morning sickness should be gone. Please Lord it needs to be gone.

The rest of the day was focused on cleaning the wood floors, dusting, laundry, and making dinner for company. Wowzers, was I ever tired by the end of the day! Ryan suggested I take a nap before I put in some pies to bake and before company arrived. He is so sweet and thoughtful. I am blessed to be married to such a great guy!

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Strawberry-Rhubarb Orange Pies
Onto my post. I think the next several posts are going to be focused on desserts, since those are all still vegan and mostly gluten-free. If it is one thing, I have hardly craved anything sweet and if I do it is all natural sweetners.

My mother got me a gluten-free cookbook at Christmas called Great Gluten-free Baking by Louise Blair that I had not made anything out of yet. It is not a vegan cookbook so when I came across a tantalizing recipe for shortbread bars, I jumped at it. The recipe is originally called fingers, but they did not look like fingers at all. I think they also should have been called Crunchy and Fruity Shortbread Bars because it has lots of cornflakes on top of these bars.

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These shortbread bars taste buttery even though I used Earth Balance margarine and they are more like a trail mix bars but with a shortbread crust. They are super lovely, even Ryan said that they tasted buttery! 2 thumbs up! They are really easy to make and they are a great snack or dessert. I hope you enjoy these as much as we did.

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Crunchy and Fruity Shortbread Bars

adapted from Great Gluten-free Baking

makes 12 bars

Bars
7 Tablespoons Earth Balance margarine, softened
1/4 cup palm sugar (or vegan granulated sugar)
2/3 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup corn flour
1 cup dried dates, roughly chopped
grated rind and juice of 1 orange
4 Tablespoons water

Topping
1/4 cup agave nectar
3 Tablespoons Earth Balance margarine, melted
1 1/2 cups gluten-free cornflakes, roughly crushed
4 Tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
4 Tablespoons mixed seeds (such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the margarine and sugar in a large bowl and beat together until light and fluffy, then stir in the flours until well combined. Press the shortbread into an 11x7-inch baking pan and place in the preheatted oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the dates, orange rind and juice, and water in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer gently until pulpy. remove from heat and let cool a little, and then spread the mixture pver the shortbread layer. Be careful with this. Make sure to place dollops of the pulp over the shortbread so as not to mess up the bready layer.

Place all the topping ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Spoon mixture over the date layer and press down gently. Place in the oven for 15-17 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven, let cool a little, then cut into 12 bars and let it cool completely before removing them from the pan.

4.01.2011

New York and Carnegie Hall

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I finally feel like I can take some time to write about all the wonderful experiences we had while in New York. Even though it has only been 2 days, it feels like I just got back. Ryan told me he was ready to go home, but I almost felt like not going home. There was still so much more in New York!

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After a whirlwind of rehearsals for 2 1/2 days and then the performance, I sure felt wiped. My feet hurt from standing during performance and from all the walking we did during the evenings. I was mentally and physically exhausted because we were going to sleep at 2am almost every night (or morning). New York sure did keep me on my toes.

One of the things I was asked often was, "How are you feeling?" I am now almost 11 weeks pregnant and the little kumquat has taken its first trip and been at Carnegie Hall!

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Our first day in New York started early. We took a 6am flight from Michigan to LaGuardia and arrived at 8:15am. Ryan and I promptly check our bags, since check-in was not possible at the time, and headed out to find a place to eat. I totally forgot my map marked with the places to try, but I remembered one place. Ryan did not care where we ate since he was ravenously hungry so I was in charge of the place. We took a subway to the Eastside and waited 45 minutes to eat at Clinton St. Baking Company, where they served us the best pancakes and breakfast. We technically had brunch! We walked around the area and walked 42 blocks back to the hotel because it was the BEST sunny day ever.

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Ryan met some folks in charge of our tour and then we were able to check in. I promptly plopped on the comfy bed and slept for 2 hours. I woke up and we had to get ready to head towards the Theater district for our show Anything Goes. I asked Ryan where we should eat but he was not hungry yet. Hmm, was this pregnant lady hungry? Maybe I should not be? I ate some trail mix and an apple and got dressed.

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The show was really great but it lacked more dancing numbers. I love watching tap numbers and imagine myself being up on stage...sigh! During intermission, two couples got in a nasty altercation just as the curtain was going on. It was scary but it was over in 3 minutes, which felt like 15 minutes! After the show got out, we both realized we were REALLY hungry. My in-laws got into town that very evening so we decided to go out to dinner after the show. This lady was getting nauseous because she was hungry! 10 hours without a proper meal did not cut it. We headed to Lombardi's Pizza after I got us lost for a bit, only 5 minutes before they closed. We order one large pizza only to find out it was not enough, and too late to find out that the kitchen had been closed. Oh well, the thin crust pizza was DELICIOUS!

That night, we slept like babies especially since we had an 8:30am rehearsal the next morning with close to 200 people!

Saturday morning was tough. Who wants to get up at 7am and shower? I did, so I could wake up. I only had a bagel for breakfast which I later found out was not going to cut it. I made sure to eat protein the rest of every breakfast during the trip. We had a 4 hour rehearsal with a 15 minutes break, rehearsing Haydn's Mass in Time of War. It was really great to be singing with 4 other choirs in addition to our choir. After that rehearsal our choir had a break for lunch.

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Lunch was a blogger meet-up 5 blocks from my hotel at Josie's where I met JL from JL Goes Vegan, VKO from Lifestyles from the Chic and Vegan, Birdy27, Barbara from Gone Pie Bakery, and Andrea from Celery in the City. We had such a great time getting to know each other over really bad vegan food. Come to find out that the restaurant was for both vegans and non-vegans alike so the vegan food really lacked flavor. No matter, because we had each other's company and it was the best!

After lunch I went back for our choir's 1 hour rehearsal before having the evening free. After our rehearsal we rested a bit and met up again with my in-laws for dinner. It was great seeing them since it had been since Christmas we last saw each other. We hiked to Chinatown to Joe's Shanghai Restaurant which came recommended. There are probably lines to wait for dinner all over town but we were happy to wait for ours. The restaurant was packed and it was all served family-style so we sat with 3 other parties. Our meals were flavorful and delicious. We were NOT disappointed!

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Sunday was another full day of rehearsal while our in-laws went to see Wicked in the afternoon. our time flew so quickly that Ryan and I decided to just take it easy and not really plan to see landmarks or museums. We were more interested in seeing the area and neighborhoods we had not visited on previous trips.

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Sunday evening dinner reservations was at one of Bobby Flay's restaurants called Mesa Grill. It was definitely fancy and really great food. There were sides that were vegan but most of every dish except for one could be vegan. At this rate, my tummy has not been acting well so I have been eating what protein I can get. I still opted to get the Cornmeal-Crusted Poblano Pepper filled with eggplant, manchego cheese and more. It was DELICIOUS! It was served with a red pepper coulis and a balsamic vinegar reduction. I have to say that Bobby has great dishes.

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After dinner we decided to take a stroll down to the Empire State building at 10:30pm. It was FREEZING, but it was a great view! We took lots of pictures because we kept getting blurry ones but the wind gusts were painful cold we quickly headed out of the cold and headed to Times Square.

Are you still with me?

Monday was our performance day. We had until 2pm to rest up, sightsee, and catch up on music before our dress rehearsal. I took a brisk walk and met Leinana from Vegan Good Things for 30 minutes. I originally thought we could make lunch but then during our trip learned that it was going to be too hard to fit that in. Either way, we were still able to meet and chat and enjoy each other's company. It was great. She has such a sweet personality and it was sad to leave but it was nice to have the time we had.

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I checked out Union Square and then headed to One Lucky Duck for a Blueberry Sunset smoothie, a mallomar, and a moon pie. I have had so many people rave about these goodies that I was so happy to finally try them. I saved the moon pie for dessert later, but I had to eat the mallomar since the cream was melting. It was SO SO SO WOW-melt-in-your-mouth good! I want to learn how to make them for sure!

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I headed back to the hotel and got ready for dress rehearsal. We got dressed for the rest of the day and headed to Carnegie Hall. It was such an amazing experience to be in the building again despite my NOT remembering the last I had been there. Who cares? This was going to be more memorable for Ryan and me. Dress rehearsal went by quickly and then our choir, the Holland Chorale headed out to a reception hosted but a donor. We took some great pictures, ate great appetizers, and sang 2 pieces for the company/ We promptly got back on our buses and headed out to Carnegie Hall again for performance.

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It was a long evening folks but it was a memorable one. The house was full for a Monday night and Holland Chorale's solo performance was perfection under Ryan's direction and Haydn's Mass in Time of War, was superb under our friend, Jason Paulk's direction! Our performance was from 8pm until 10:15pm. We then headed out to a party cruise on a private line that cruised by the Statue of Liberty at night. Wow, it was cold but it was definitely worth the picture.

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We are glad to be home even though we would have like the experience to last longer. It was a blast and I can assure you that everyone else had a great time too!

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