Saturday, November 30, 2013


Happy Hanukkah everyone!

Very quick post today.  Just a recipe.  These are a pain to make but they are worth it.


2 cups flour
1 cup margarine
8 oz vegan cream cheese
1/3 cup vegan sour cream

1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Preserves (our favorites are raspberry, apricot, or blueberry)

In a food processor pulse the flour, margarine, cream cheese, and sour cream until crumbly.  Shape it into 2 disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  We usually leave it over night.  

Combine the sugar, cinnamon, walnuts and chocolate chips.

Sprinkle some of this mixture on your board.  Place the first disk on the mixture.  Top it with wax paper and then roll it out to a 9 inch circle.  Spread the preserves in a thin layer and then top with about 1/4 of the cinnamon mixture.  Cut the disk into 8 equal slices using a pizza cutter.  Roll the wedges from the widest edge to the point.  Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Chill for 20 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for for 22 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.  Continue with the remaining dough, keeping it cool between batches.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Raspberry and Chocolate Granola

Granola is one of my favorite healthy treats to have on hand for snacking. I never completely trust the store-bought kind though.  There were always all those stories about how people think they are eating something healthy but it is actually loaded with fat and you'd be better off with a candy bar.  My granola has fat in it as well, but I feel better knowing exactly what is included.

My mom had something like this for chopping nuts when I was little and I loved it so much, I had to get one.

I have a standard recipe that I follow with general categories.  This is my latest favorite version though.  It is in weighted measure which I know some people hate.  I really think it works best for things like this though.  I put the big bowl on my scale and re-set it after each addition.

This flax seed mixture turns into nutty clumps in the granola.

I like this mixed with silken tofu that I blend up into a yogurt-like think but it is just as good with a little almond milk.  And of course I add chocolate chips because a snack isn't a snack without chocolate!

Raspberry and Chocolate Granola

3 tbsp ground flax seed
3 tbsp water
280 g old fashion rolled oats
80 grams chopped walnuts
50 grams raw pumpkin seeds
20 grams sesame seeds
20 grams sliced almonds
30 grams unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp seedless raspberry jam
3 tbsp agave nectar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
sprinkle of salt
1 tsp almond extract
60 grams chocolate chips (I was just thinking that chocolate covered dried cherries would be really good!)

Mix the ground flax seed and water.  Set aside for 15 minutes.

Mix remaining ingredients except chocolate chips together in a large bowl.  Add the flax seed mixture.  Mix everything together with a fork and spread it on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake at 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Allow to cool then stir in the chocolate.  Store in an air tight container at room temperature.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

New Goal

One thing I know about myself is that I'm very goal oriented.  Lately I've had a lot of headaches and problems sleeping and just generally not feeling well.  A big reason for this is that I have a stressful job that only gets more stressful at year end.  But I think another big issue is that I haven't been exercising.  I keep wanting to get back into it but then I'm so tired, I decide not to. That makes me even more tired and it gets into a never-ending circle.

This morning I managed to get on the treadmill for 30 minutes.  I had planned to just walk but then a good song came up and ended up running for 5 minutes in the middle of it.  Of course, today is Sunday so I have more time to fit in a workout.  The problem comes during the week.

That is why I've decided to set a specific exercising goal from now to the end of the year.  I thought it would work best to set it as a weekly goal so that I have some flexibility in my week.  I went through several ideas but I've decided to keep it simple and aim for 2 hours total exercising during the week with at least 4 miles of running.  It doesn't sound like much but it is way more than I have been doing.

I'm going to monitor my time from Sunday to Saturday so each Sunday I'll post my results for the week.  I'm hoping this will get me back in the habit and then I can set a new goal after the new year.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Garlicky Butternut Squash with Pasta

Another recipe.  I'm still slacking on my exercising but at least I'm eating well!  This was the first way I ever had butternut squash and instantly fell in love with it.  Bill and Kayleigh have been a little slower to warm up to it but Bill is starting to enjoy this recipe.

I've heard that you don't have to peel butternut squash but I always do.  There have been a few times that a little bit of peel gets left on accidentally and it is edible but I don't like the texture of it.

This recipe is really good if you can get the butternut squash a little crispy but don't worry if it starts to get mushy.  It still tastes good.

Garlicky Butternut Squash with Pasta

3 tbsp olive oil
4 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground sage
1 tsp dried parsley (if you have fresh, use about 1/4 cup)
salt & pepper
1/2 cup water
1 pound pasta (penne, rotini, and farfalle are my favorites)

Cook the pasta according to the package.

Heat the oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the butternut squash and cook for about 5 minutes, until it starts to brown.  Toss it and cook 5 more minutes.  Add the garlic and spices and cook 2 minutes.  Add the water, mix everything together, and cover the pan.  Reduce the heat to low and cook 15 minutes.

Add the cooked pasta to the butternut mixture.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Kay's Pumpkin Cupcake with Cinnamon Frosting

Last year for Thanksgiving, I challenged Kayleigh to make up a new cupcake and this is what she came up with.  We all enjoyed them so this year I had her make one batch for a meeting at work and Bill had her make another batch for his bowling team.  They are delicious - and vegan!

1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together the pumpkin, oil, sugar, milk, and extract.  In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.  Put the dry ingredients in with the wet.  Stir with a fork until combined.  Fill up cupcake liners half way and put in the oven for 22 minutes.

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp almond milk
2 tsp cinnamon

Beat together the shortening and margarine.  Add the vanilla.  Add the cinnamon.  Slowly add the sugar, about one cup at a time.  When the sugar is completely added it will look dry.  Add the milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.  Store covered with a damp cloth in the refrigerator until ready to use.  If you are piping it, let it come to room temperature.

Kayleigh used a Wilton 1M open star tip for the cupcakes pictured.  Any large open star tip will work well according to her (this kind of decorating is beyond me!).

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Starting over

This is going to be two posts in one.  I'll start with what I had planned but then I have to end with some bragging since Kayleigh just walked in from her school sports banquet.

First things first though.  I have been slacking like crazy with my workouts.  I had convinced myself that running around at cross country meets and being generally active would keep me in shape.  I was wrong!  Tonight since Bill was on a bike ride and Kayleigh was at her banquet, I decided I should work out instead of my normal sit-on-the-couch evening routine.

I started with a basic 10 minute ab workout that I used to do like it was nothing.  Just a minute in, I knew I was in trouble because it was hard!  Then I went down to the treadmill.  I walked for 5 minutes, ran for 10 and then walked 5 more.  After how my workout started I was really worried about running but it felt great.  It was hard but I actually ran faster than I thought  I would and generally felt good throughout.

The best part is knowing I actually did something worthwhile tonight.  I'm going to have to remember this feeling and do this more often.
Kayleigh with her hair down.  She NEVER has her hair down!

Now on to Kayleigh.  She did so good in Cross Country this year.  For the last two years she had been the slowest on the team by quite a bit.  She tried so hard and she was slowing improving but then this past summer she made a huge leap forward.  The team had a lot of new members this year so she had to compete to make varsity, which she did.  That earned her and "M" which means she gets a Letterman's jacket as one of her presents this year.

She also got a patch for Scholar Athlete.  She should have had this every year but she always had one class that would cause her problems and drop her GPA just below the required 3.5.

But the one I'm most excited about is the "Most Improved" award.  I was hoping she would get this but I wasn't sure how much the other girls improved this time.  When her coach announced this award he said "This runner knocked 5 minutes off her 5K time.  You may not understand what that means but it is a really big deal."  I'm ridiculously proud (and happy I ran tonight or I'd have felt extra lazy!).

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Happy Memories

Guess where we were last weekend!

Kayleigh was on fall break so right after cross country semi-state on Saturday, we left to spend a few days in Bloomington.  Up until a year ago I never really thought much about trying to persuade her to go to the same school as me but then she decided to major in Marketing.  Seriously, if you live in Indiana and want to major in business, you go to IU, right?  She has been hesitant to even consider it though mainly because she wants to follow her own path.  But the great thing about such a large school is that you can make it whatever you want.

So I decided to win her over to IU by taking her to visit the campus in the fall.  It is beautiful down there all year long but in the fall, the campus outdoes itself.  We were hoping to go for a run but never found time to fit one in.  We did plenty of walking though.

Apparently Kayleigh has never seen a chipmunk in real life.  Lucky for her, there must have been a chipmunk convention going on while we were there.  We couldn't turn a corner without seeing them!

I was actually a little nervous about the visit.  I have such great memories and I was afraid that seeing the campus again might tarnish some of them.  It has been about 21 years since I have been there but I immediately felt and home and remembered my way around just fine.  I loved it.  I felt like I got to go back in time for a few days.

Kayleigh seemed to like the campus and had a good time walking around Bloomington but she certainly wasn't going to act too excited!  She bought plenty of IU items though so I'm hopeful.  We'll just have to see.

One of the shocking things that has changed about Bloomington is all the vegan options.  I became a vegetarian while at school.  I started researching it my sophomore year (which wasn't so easy before the Internet!) but had to wait until my junior year to actually change my diet because it would have been impossible to be vegetarian in the dorms.  Now not only does Bloomington have a vegan restaurant (which we tried to go to but it was always packed), there were vegan options at every restaurant we visited.  It was fantastic.

 On Sunday we went to Scholars Inn Bakehouse for lunch.  We first went to The Owlery but didn't want to wait 45 minutes.  This restaurant was just down the street so we decided to try it out.

I got this veggie sandwich.  It was good.  Overall this place reminded me a lot of Panera.  My husband was quick to point out later that they sponsor a local bike racing team.
 After walking around for hours and hours, we decided to grab some ice cream before heading back to the hotel.  Is that vegan ice cream?  Yes it is and it was delicious!  We got this from Hartzell's where the people were unnecessarily rude but the ice cream made up for it.

 On Monday, I wanted to walk through the campus so Kayleigh could see how crowded it is during classes.  Unfortunately it was so crowded, we couldn't find any parking spaces and it took us forever to just drive around the outside of the campus.  So instead we went back downtown.  Kayleigh went to a running store and then we grabbed some soup at this restaurant to eat back at the hotel while we packed up.

Kayleigh's soup is the very non-vegan chicken tortilla but I got lentil spinach.  The portions were so large that I had half mine left over for lunch at work on Tuesday.

I really hope that Kayleigh ends up at IU so that I have an excuse to keep visiting for 4 years.  I forgot how much I loved it.  It is a long drive but completely worth it.