I’d Be Taller If I Were Younger?

FOOD

Yes, I actually have a snack for you.  It’s an incredibly easy snack, and keeps for a few weeks.  The fun thing about making this snack is that it’s incredibly versatile.  Sometimes I throw greens in it, or horseradish, or I’ll play around with different spices.  I’m not actually posting the recipe because it’s too close to the Candle Cafe basic one, and I didn’t change it enough to make it mine.  But if you do a web search, a standard one is easy to find.  I did spice this one up a bit with cayenne, so it’s been fun not just as a dip, but in sammiches too!

no prepping – just throw everything in the food processor!
spicy hummus!!!

I’m heading out-of-town today for another trip (a week long this time), and am seriously thinking of bringing the rest of this batch with me!

FITNESS

This past week has been mostly about longer runs.  I know conventional logic says to run only one long one a week, but I was so missing just being home, that I’ve done three longer-than-normal runs since last Friday.  I’m planning to head out again in a few minutes so I get at least one more in before my flight this afternoon.

LIFE

I have an incredibly goofy family.  It makes them a lot of fun to be around, so I’m thinking I’ll keep them.  Last Sunday, we all went to Hunt Club Farms, a petting-zoo/farm most of the year, and the areas best haunted craziness during October.  We went Sunday, and went through the rituals of being scared silly though haunted hay rides and mazes like The Field of Screams.  Through all of this my 17 yr old was howling and freaking out, and my 15-year-old was even losing it a bit.  Me??  I turn into a big puddle of goo when I get scared, and have this bizarre nervous laugh that clearly indicates I’m scared, but still having fun.  Not R.  She’s a rock!  At 9 years old, pretty much nothing scares her.  Even one of the workers there told D that the little one was fearless.  R was very proud of herself.

D and I.  And M doing a photo bomb in the back
another goofy shot with M photo bombing
D and R
ready for the hay ride!
it was a little too intense for A….
yeah…I’m thinking it’s the little one protecting the big one here…

Fast forward 5 days, and just R and I headed to Busch Garden’s Howl-O-Scream (my absolute favorite thing!).  They have about 9 haunted houses/mazes and the entire park is decked out in the best display of Halloween fun I’ve ever seen.  Dressed up scary clowns (and I HATE clowns), werewolves, swamp people, zombies, creeps with chainsaws…you get the idea…they roam the park with the sole goal of scaring everyone silly.  It’s fantastic.

As we moved into the mazes, R would either lead the way (which would elicit chuckles from the grown ups around), or she would put her arm around me and push me through.  All the while, she’d point out the things I shouldn’t look at if I didn’t want to be scared to badly.  It was very, very cute.

Throughout the night, she did say a few things that were either hilarious or insulting, though she didn’t mean it.  Take for instance our waiting in line for a roller coaster when we first got there and it was daylight.  She was lamenting that she was too short to ride the big ones, and I said that’s okay because I’m short too.  She looked at me and in all seriousness says, “If you were younger, you’d be taller because, you know, older people shrink”.  I proceed to tell her I have about 40 years before I need to worry about that happening.

Later, we were walking through Germany, and she pointed to something and asked if I thought it was scary.  I said no, and deadpan she says, “if you don’t think it’s scary, then it’s definitely boring.  Since, you know, you’re a scardy-cat”.  Lovely, my child thinks I’m a wuss.

And finally, on our way out, she spent about 10 minutes describing to me how she’d design a haunted house.  At the end she mentions she’d play loud 80’s music, because that’s scary.

See….my family is hilarious 😉

Penance Post

So I’m not sure what to call the first post after 15 days!  I think with my schedule this month, I was overly ambitious to do 20 themed posts about snacks, but I’m going to try to make up for my lack of posts in the first 2/3 of the month.  We’ll see how that goes for me!

FOOD

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had snacks.  Yummy snacks – but not ones that I made myself.  I’ve been traveling a lot for work and when I AM home, I have 3 late nights per week when I don’t get home until after 10pm.  That doesn’t leave me much time for making my own snacks, and instead I’ve been buying up yummy snack food at any hippie grocery I can.  I think I will do a post on those in their own glory.

For today, I have a recipe.  It’s not a snack – it’s a stewp.  I suppose you can make it a full on soup by adding more broth, but I like it just the way it is.

Crissie’s Butternut Squash, Lentil, Rice, and Greens Stewp

Ingredients

*1 medium onion, chopped

*2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

*1 tbsp olive oil

*4 medium red potatoes, peeled and cubed

*1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed (same size as potatoes)

*1/2 cup lentils (I used French lentils because they hold their shape well, but brown or green would work here too)

*1/2 cup rice (I used brown jasmine rice, but any will work)

*4 cups vegetable broth (or water mixed with bullion)

*2 bay leaves

*1 tbsp lemon pepper (take note that ANY spice blend here would work.  I used the Penzy’s salt-free lemon pepper blend, but I think Italian would be good, or even a sweet blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and garam masala or even curry!)

*5 oz kale (I bought a 10 ounce bag at Trader Joe’s and used half)

*1 tsp salt (may need to adjust based on how salty your broth is.  I used water with a vegetable paste base which was fairly high in salt, so I didn’t feel the need to add a ton after it was cooked).

Directions

*in the base of the pressure cooker, saute the onion, carrot, and garlic in olive oil.  If you’re not using a pressure cooker or your’s doesn’t have a saute option, use a skillet on the stove top.

*add the lentils, rice, potato, butternut squash, broth, bay leaves, and lemon pepper.  Add the lid, and cook on High Pressure for 10 minutes.  Let the pressure release naturally (about another 10 minutes).

*open the lid carefully (away from your body as there will be a ton of steam), add the kale and close the lid.  Bring to High Pressure for 2 minutes, and release the pressure manually (quick release).

*open the lid carefully, add the salt, and stir it all together.  STEWP!

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you could likely cook on the stove by brining the stewp to a boil after step 2, add a lid, and bring to a simmer for 45 minutes, until lentils and rice are cooked.  When you add the kale, stem for about 10 minutes with the lid on.  It’ll be just as yummy, but not as fast!

I was so glad I made this – it turned out great.  It made an easy 6-8 servings, so I’ll be set for the week.  I threw some into a thermos to take with me to R’s swim meet, and 3 hrs later, I was enjoying a steaming bowl of it.

it would have been a prettier picture if it were actually in a bowl and had I used a real camera and not my phone….but wanted to share anyway!

And for fun, here are some other random food pics from the past several days!

stuffed bell peppers at a Mediterranean restaurant in Madison, WI called The Nile. It was fantastic!
D took me out on my bday for lunch at a place at home called Hell’s Kitchen (no relation to the Gordon Ramsey show…this is a place that broadcasts a radio punk show every Sunday night!). I had a grilled bbq vegan burrito!
dinner on my bday every year is at Geisha’s. Here’s my veggie sushi platter – sweet potato, avocado, and broccoli. YUM.
I went to a really lovely local/organic/veg friendly restaurant with my parents called CafeOne24. I had the quinoa salad with roasted veggies, a big Portobello mushroom, and a champagne citrus dressing. It was delicious!

FITNESS

I have been traveling a ton in the past few months, and the majority of my workouts have been runs and yoga (thankfully these can be done anywhere), and a few weight training workouts in hotel gyms.

I can say I’m totally excited to hit up crossfit this week with M before my next trip (which is next Saturday).  The next month is going to be hectic – I have several trips in that month alone – but I’m really looking forward to a bit more stability in being able to just be home and have a normal routine.

I’m proud of this project I’m working on, but I’ll admit that I’m sick of living out of a suitcase and missing my family so much.

LIFE

Life is good, if not completely frenetic.  My most recent trip was short, but riddled with issues.  Flight delays got me stranded in Detroit (on my dime) and showing up 2 hrs late in my final destination for a training class.  Then it was fast paced all week (like driving 3 1/2 hrs round trip just so I could have a mid-week dinner with my parents!), and then more travel delays trying to get home Thursday night.  I eventually made it, but it was one rough week.

The weekend, however, was fantastic.  I took off on Friday (it was my bday), and had a really nice day.  I did laundry, dishes, went for a long run, and then had lunch with D.  Gotta love a restaurant that offers a free bday shot instead of cake!  Sadly, I had to decline since it was only 1 in the afternoon and I had stuff to do!

I went to Trader Joe’s (Whole Foods is opening in 4 more days!), picked R up from school, and went home.  Once everyone got home, we went out to dinner at my yearly favorite, Geisha.  I had sushi and a bday pineapple, and opened my presents.

D’s made me cry.  He had each of the kids pick out their favorite baby pics, and he had them all framed together.  A and M were each about 2 in theirs, and R was 1.  It was just beautiful and thoughtful.  A made me a really gorgeous dress that I’m going to have to wear to work this week!  I can’t get over how the quality of her work has just shot up in the past 6 months.  R got me a pretty necklace, which I very much need (I lament my lack of jewelry often)

Yesterday was R’s very first swim meet!  She competed in 4 events; freestyle, relay, backstroke, and butterfly.  She did well, and more importantly, she had fun.  She was really nervous, but I’m so incredibly proud of her.

warm up is over…let’s get this started!
ready to dive in and race!
freestyle
resting up between events

Today is going to be my typical cooking for the week day, and hopefully a movie if I have time!

Dips…The Busy Girl’s Answer to Life

FOOD

For the past few days I’ve been grateful for the never-ending dip supply in my house!  My last dip was perfect for pretzels and crackers, and today’s dip (which I really made on Wednesday) is perfect for veggies or even salads.

I was never a fan of ranch dressing on salads as a kid, but always loved it as a veggie dip.  Over the years I’ve experimented with various options, all with some mixed results.  This is one that I’m really enjoying and will make often – and I hope you will to!

For this one, I use a Green Goddess spice blend from Penzy’s.  Here’s the link if you’re interested.  It’s essentially a combination of green onion, dill, garlic, celery flakes, basil, and sugar.  You can mess around with creating your own blend, or just use there’s or one that’s similar!  This recipe is very slightly modified from Penzy’s version, and of course veganized.

Ranch Dip

Ingredients

*2 tbsp spice blend

*4 tbsp water

*1 tbsp white vinegar

*1/2 cup vegan may

*1/2 cup vegan sour cream

Directions

*mix spice blend with water and let sit for 5 minutes

*mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl.

*let sit in the refrigerator to firm up if desired.

*if you want this to be a salad dressing instead of a dip, thin it out with a few tablespoons of water.

That’s it!  Again, a simple dip that makes munching on your daily veggie servings just a little bit more fun!

I really didn’t eat it this way….truth be told, I threw all the veggies into one big container and stuck it in my bag with the dip! This would be a nice way to serve at parties though 🙂

FITNESS

My run on Thursday was awesome.  It was one of those mornings where running was exactly what I wanted and needed to do.  It was early still, so the temps were still cool (we’ve been in a warm patch lately – like Mother Nature forgot to tell Virginia it’s fall), but it was really muggy, so I was a sweat ball as soon as I left the driveway.

I’m listening to an audio book that I’m not quite willing to say I don’t like, but I don’t think I really like it.  I’ll stick it out to see how it ends, but it’s been a bit weird.

Yesterday I was looking to do something different for a workout.  After checking the Y sites around me (we have a boat load of Y’s, so the variety of classes is killer).  I found a 12:10 spinning class at the Y just a couple of miles from my office.  Woo hoo!  With my now super short hair, mid-day workouts don’t scare me.  And it was a 45 minute class, so that was a perfect length to get it, sweat it out, clean up, and not be gone a ridiculously long time.

The first 10 minutes I wanted to cry.  My lungs were burning and we’re not even going to talk about my legs.  I seriously wanted to walk out, but of course I’m too prideful to do that!  Glad I didn’t, as once I was warmed up well, the class was really good.

LIFE

What can I say, it’s been one busy week!  The first week back after being off is always a scramble to feel caught up.  I had several really late nights, and I have a sense that’s going to be the new normal for the next couple of years as we do this new project.

Adding to my added work complexity, my family has gotten busier too.  With R on the swim team now, she’s at practice or a meet 5 days per week (we’re getting ready to head out here soon for Saturday practice).  And as of yesterday, my eldest A has a job!  So on top of her already being at school until 5pm, she’ll now have work obligations as well.  Thank goodness for D, who’s totally the rock in all of this!

So now it’s off to really get my busy weekend rolling.  I was supposed to have a golf lesson at 715 this morning, but my instructor never confirmed the time, so we have to reschedule.  A is off taking her SAT this morning, I’m about to go to a run and then take R to swim.  Then shop – because just last night R presents D and I with a party invitation for TONIGHT that’s a costume party!  So we have to find a costume and a birthday present for another 9-year-old.  Oh, and then D and I have a party to go to.  That’s just today.  Tomorrow, R is having HER birthday party….so what I’m saying here is that I need a few days off to recover from my weekend.  And more dip.

How To Stop A Meeting Mid-Discussion – EAT MY SNACKS

FOOD

I have to say “thank goodness for snacks” today.  Seriously – I slept for poo last night and didn’t have the energy to cook.  I had a BAS for breakfast (for newbie readers that’s a Big A$$ Salad) and have basically been living off my snacks the rest of the day.  Morning snack?  Pretzels with my spicy cream chz dip from yesterday’s post.  Lunch?  Potato samosa pot pies from Monday.  So yay snacks!  They’ve got your back in a pinch!

So you must be wondering what today’s snack is!  It’s an edamame-inpsired cauliflower and carrot popper snack.  I’m sure you’re wondering how the heck it was edamame inspired when there’s no edamame in it, right?  Vegas baby.  Last Saturday night we dined at Yellowtail at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.  One of the appetizers we ordered was a duo of edamame – one being some amazingly fantastic chili one that was sweet and spicy at the same time.  I wish I had paid more attention to the ingredients so I could replicate it, but alas – I didn’t.

Instead, I made up something and decided to roast what I had on hand – cauliflower and carrots!

Crissie’s Sweet and Spicy Cauliflower/Carrot Snack Poppers

Ingredients

*1 cup small cauliflower flowerets

*1 cup baby carrots that are cut in half

*1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil

*1 /2 tsp chili oil

*1 tsp mirin

*1/2 tbsp maple syrup

*pinch of sea salt

Directions

*mix all the ingredients into an oven-safe dish

*preheat the oven/toaster oven to 375 degrees

*roast for 40 minutes, stirring after 20

veggies I prepped on Monday for the week (awesome veggie keeper containers courtesy of my Aunt J!!!)
my made-up marinade ingredients – it works!
my “before roasting” picture. Totally forgot an “after” picture because I threw it in a container and left!

That’s it.  Aren’t snacks easy?  Eat warm or room temp or cold.  Doesn’t matter as it’s all fantastic.  Or be like me – eat them in a meeting and have everyone stop the conversation because they’re more interested in your food than talking about anything work related.

On another note – here’s the link to all the MoFo posters this  year!  We’re talking hundreds of vegan food bloggers from around the world.  Seriously – how cool is that??!?!  Check it out – there’s really something for everyone.

FITNESS

So I had a strange experience today.  I met with a personal trainer early this morning who runs a gym only 2 minutes from my house.  D and I are both interested in working out with a professional for a few months, so I thought I’d go check him out.

I will say that I had a billion red flags going off in the hour and a half we spoke.

On the positive side, he had a nice physique and has been running his own gym for 13 years.  He seemed positive and encouraging, which is always something you want in a trainer.  That said, I was disturbed by a few things…

1 – I asked what his certifications were, educational background in exercise science and nutrition, and what his continuing education was.  His answer was that he found certifications to be a waste of time and that he doesn’t need it.  His experience is all that I should worry about.  He trained under “old school former military types” and learned all he needed to 20+ years ago.  That will work for some people, but it doesn’t for me.  If I’m going to PAY you, I want to know you have the backing of some type of education behind you and not just a good body.

2 – he feels that my Vegan diet is a problem and that I could never be truly athletic/lean/have muscle.  I argued with him and he just kept saying “it’s the science”.  But since he doesn’t keep current on innovations and discoveries about nutrition, I know he’s full of BS and his science is crap.

3 – he persistently spells my name wrong in emails over the past few days.  Pet peeve of mine (no, I didn’t make up the spelling of my name) – if I write it in an email and you can’t be bothered to notice how to spell my name (especially since it IS my email address), then you lose points with me.  It’s the small things that can make a big difference.  If you think I’m going to pay you $500 a month and you can’t get my name right, you have another thing coming.

4 – he admitted he doesn’t keep current information on his website because everything he loaded there 8 years ago is so rockin and perfect, nothing needs to evolve.  Yeah.  I’m a tech person by profession and that’s just lame.

In other fitness news, I wanted to cry when I put shoes on today (dumb blisters), but when I finally got running I didn’t notice.  No skin graft needed.  I seriously would make a fortune if I could create a company that made killer hot yet comfy shoes.

LIFE

Last night was a rough one.  While I went to bed at a fairly decent hour (11 ish), I was up at 3 and couldn’t fall back asleep no matter what I tried.  Bizzare dreams and regular old crappy insomnia and I were getting well acquainted at ridiculous hours this morning.

Sammie feels the same way about crazy early mornings as I do. NO THANKS!

Most of the day I’ve been fine since when I work, I get focused and don’t think about how tired I am, but those moments between meetings were tough today!

Tonight is R’s swim team and then straight to bed for me!  I really want to take her since D does most days of the week due to my schedule.  Wednesday nights are really the only time I can go, so I don’t want to miss out on watching her practice.

On a fun note, D took the kids to the used book exchange when I was in Vegas.  It’s amazing the literary differences between my youngest child and my husband…

these look like the books of a young child right? NOPE. This are D’s new books….
this stack is R’s 🙂

 

I Dip, You Dip, We Dip

If you don’t remember that late 90’s gem of a song Da Dip, I’m sorry. It’s kind of catchy!

FOOD

If you haven’t guessed it yet, today’s Vegan MoFo 2012 snack is one of my favorite dips! It’s easy, and who doesn’t love a good dip? It’s another reason to eat food with my hands instead of silverware, and that always makes me happy.

This simple dipping snack has only two ingredients, but has possible endless combinations depending on your fancy at the moment. Spicy? Done. Sweet? Why not! My favorite is this spicy one right here.

Crissie’s Spicy Snack Dip

Ingredients

*1 tub of vegan cream cheese

*1 1/2 cups of pepper jelly (or any other jelly, or pumpkin butter, apple butter, cranberry chutney…you get the idea).

Directions

*scoop the cream cheese out of the tub and put it into a microwave safe dish.

*nuke for about 30 seconds to soften

*mix in the jelly

two ingredient snack! Couldn’t be simpler!

Yep. That simple folks. D’s favorite way to eat this is with pretzels. I like that or some yummy flax crackers. You can eat it warm or not…depends on how much willpower you have after mixing it. I put it into small containers and pop it into my purse with some crackers, and snack whenever the urge hits.

DIP!!!

FITNESS

All I managed today was yoga. Yesterday I was overly jet-lagged and tired and whiny. I did a hell of a number on my right foot in Vegas by hiking all over in (really cute) heels. Didn’t notice it at the time, but tore the skin right off. Shoes suck (yay for warm weather and flip-flops).

I seriously need to travel with more comfortable shoes. Or band-aids. Or the ability to self-administer a skin graft….

I must deal though, since I have a workout scheduled tomorrow that I just can’t put off anymore without feeling like a slug. I need a good run, even if it hurts!

LIFE

I had a great night’s sleep yesterday and didn’t oversleep today (that’s progress, baby!). I actually woke up 15 minutes early when I heard Sammie walking around downstairs. I freaked – woke D up to check it out – who reported that the dog woke up when the coffee pot started (15 min before scheduled alarm going off), and was waiting for someone to feed her. Oops.

Also, I clearly haven’t finished unpacking yet. Just enough for Bumble to stake her claim for a place to sleep….and to ensure I don’t leave without her yet again.

Today was a conference day and all regularly scheduled meetings were canceled. Woo hoo!

Tonight will be a late one (R’s swim practice time has been pushed out a half hour due to moving to the indoor pool and scheduling lanes). That’s okay though. It’s still awesome to be home.

MoFo is BACK! And You’re Gonna Love It :)

FOOD

Okay party people, it’s October.  The best month of the year!  Why???  Well there are a lot of reasons (my birthday, Halloween, cooler temps)…but what I’m talking about here is the kick off of Vegan MoFo 2012!!!

This is my second year participating, and I’m totally excited.  If you’re a new reader….get your head out of the gutter.  Mo Fo stands for MOnth of FOod.  So buckle up and get ready for 30 days of MoFo food fun.

This year, I’ve decided to go with a theme.  All my MoFo related posts (at least 20 in the month of October) will be snacks!  Yes, you heard that right.  Because I love snacks and eating with my hands.  Nothing is more fun than portable food.

Your first snack of the month is an Indian-inspired potato pot pie.  You’re welcome.

Crissie’s Samosa Snack Pie

Ingredients

*2 pre-made

*4-5 sm-med russet potatoes, peeled and chunked

*1 tbsp veggie or canola oil

*1/2 yellow onion

*1 tsp fresh ginger root (ground, minced, etc – I put it pureed already in a jar)

*1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds

*1/2 tsp ground fenugreek seeds

*1 tsp turmeric

*1 tsp Baharat spice

*1 tsp Vadouvan spice

*1 tsp hot curry powder

*1/2 c silken lite tofu (the tofu is really optional, but I like the nutritional kick it gives.  If you skip the tofu, you’ll need to add a bit of soymilk, broth, or water for added moisture)

*1 cup peas

*1 tsp salt

Directions for Filling

*boil potatoes in water for about 20 minutes until soft.  Drain

*(using the same pot) heat the oil over medium.  Add onions and begin to stir fry

*add the mustard seeds and stir until the seeds start to pop.  Add the garlic, and continue to stir fry for 2-3 minutes, until soft, translucent, and maybe starting to brown a little.

*add the fenugreek seed, turmeric, baharat spice, vadouvan spice, and hot curry powder.  Mix well, and stir fry for one more minute.

*remove from heat, add potatoes back to the pot, the salt, and the tofu.  Mash the hell out of it (I use a kitchen mixer)

*Stir in the peas.  Try not to eat all the filling at this point.

Directions for Pies

*you can certainly make your own pie crusts if that type of thing amuses you.  Me?  Not so much.  I buy in bulk at Sam’s Club, and they’re vegan and easy.  You can cheat on this and still feel good about yourself.

*open the crust and spread it out.  Cut into circles to either fit in a muffin or (my personal favorite) a Babycakes muffin maker.

*put the bottom into the muffin tin.  Scoop filling until level.  Add another circle of crust and seal the top.

*if using Babycakes like I did…plug it in for 8 minutes and you’re done.

*if cooking in a muffin tin, bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 min, until golden brown.

You will use about half of the filling to make 8 pies.  I put the rest of the filling in the fridge to make wraps or really just eat with a spoon when the urge hits.

But seriously…splurge the $45 on the Babycakes because it’s the coolest, and I can just bet many of this month’s snacktastic recipes will be made in a Babycakes!

Do not be overwhelmed by the steps.  It looks like a lot, but it’s not.  You’re basically making mashed potatoes and sticking it in pie dough.

Also don’t be discouraged by the type of spices.  You can use whatever Indian-inspired spices you may have.  Everything I used is available online (or store front if you’re lucky enough to live in Milwaukee) at The Spice House.  Check it out and become a spice snob like me.

Babycakes mini-muffin maker. Makes more than desserts, as today’s recipe clearly shows. Get one…they’re fun and easy to clean.
cheater pie crusts
SPICES
Penzy’s has some of these too (but not all), and is a store more widely available across that US.
final mashed filling
pie crusts! Oh, and the babycakes maker comes with a little form thingy, so there’s really no effort here.
put one circle down, and fill it with potato fun….
add the top circle
all 8 ready to go in no time!
golden cakes in 8 minutes FLAT
SNACK TIME

LIFE

I’m seriously going to try to keep this short since the food section was so gloriously long.  And admit it…it made you just a little bit hungry, right?

We left Vegas yesterday.  The airport was shut down a bit for Pres Obama’s arrival, so we took off about an hour late.  Still made it to Baltimore in plenty of time to catch out connector.  So we thought….we had “tons” of time, stopped for some Mexican food and a beer, and was suddenly being paged overhead to hustle our you-know-what’s to the gate or miss our plane.  At least we ran off the guacamole.

Got home around 1130ish, and while I wanted to go to bed, in my head it was only 830 pm Vegas time, and I should be putting on make up and getting ready to go out with the girls!  Alas…I slept eventually and was highly grateful today was a work from home 1/2 day.