Carrot Oatmeal Cookies (V)

I have made these twice now, and they might be my favorite cookie–not too sweet, vegan, and totally gluten-free if you choose (I used gluten-free oats and gluten-free baking mix; these are both readily available many places now). Here is the recipe from my go-to food blog, 101 Cookbooks.

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20130324-162557.jpgYou can press the cookies down a bit if you don’t want the round shape.  I used a coffee scoop–it’s the perfect size.  I used pecans today, and added a dash of cinnamon.  I also didn’t use the maple syrup, but instead used raw honey and agave.  They are SO good.  Enjoy!

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Roasted Tomato and garlic soup (v)

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The tomato does not get enough credit!  I’ve been sick for the last few days, and this is the first time I have felt like getting up and making something, and even though it was a lovely 75 today in San Diego, the fog likes to roll in early on days like this, and so I thought soup was the right choice. 20130313-172644.jpg

And what is better with tomato soup but grilled cheese?  Well, grilled “cheese” is:)  All vegan people, all vegan.  The bread too!20130313-172957.jpg

Added some olive oil, additional seasoning, soy-free earth balance (you could use almond or coconut milk, but I am fresh out–except for the vanilla kind), some pinenuts…a little fresh basil would be nice, too.20130313-173632.jpg

Topped it with some organic bean sprouts…20130313-173754.jpg

Golden Globe Dresses, or Who Looked Stunning and Who Looked Awful

I DID cook, but my Quinoa with Shitakes, Garlic, Broccoli, and Almonds is NOT the topic of conversation tonight. (I’ll post the recipe tomorrow, and bonus!, I am making soup, too.)

So, on with the show.  I love awards shows.  Mostly for the dresses, but I still like watching them.

And who doesn’t appreciate some gorgeous gowns?  I grew up reading Vogue magazine, so my love of fashion is rooted in classic, couture, high fashion.  Here are a few of my favorites tonight:

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I am leading with Garner because red is my least favorite color, but she really does look good in this dress.  She just looks good, period.

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Julianne!  I have to say, this is probably the most age-appropriate, elegant look I saw all night.  Now, don’t take age-appropriate for “dowdy” or “boring.”  Not at all.  She really is very pretty, and I love this on her.

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Emily!  I need to borrow this, call me!

Shoulders!  She pulls this off like gangbusters.  CLASSIC.

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Naomi, not sure the color is EXACTLY right, but you wear it well (the whole thing, that is).  Nice keyhole–not too much showing, very classy.

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Jessica might win the evening because this color is PERFECT for her.  She looks stunning–the hair, lipstick, that NECKLACE.  Killer, girl.

Michelle Dockery

Michelle Dockery makes the grade mostly because Downton Abbey might be one of the best shows on TV (PBS!).  This shoulder look is killer–I seriously love it.  I love the high necks.  I almost wish the bottom wasn’t white, but the gold is OFF THE CHAIN.  Well done!

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Adele knows how to dress. Maybe because she’s a Brit, maybe because she knows what looks good on her body, I don’t know.  She looks fantastic tonight.  Really nice.

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I can’t leave Kate Hudson out because she is just so cute.  However, something isn’t jiving for me with this dress.  I love the shoulder and the long sleeves.  Obvi.  I don’t know if the combo keyhole/gladiator belt is too much, or what, but let’s just say HONORABLE MENTION for this look.  Almost, Kate.  Almost.

And, the worst of the night: well, it’s a tie.  I couldn’t decide who looked stupider.  So, here are the picks for “My Five-Year Old Niece Could Have Picked a Better Dress. Blindfolded.”

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Lucy.  Oh. My. GOODNESS.  The Palace at Versailles called, and they want the Queen’s drapes back.  Someone please remind Ms. Liu that it’s 2013!

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Jennifer, Jennifer.  NO.  Just, no.  I saw you on stage, and you couldn’t even WALK in this monstrosity.  We get it, it’s an illusion…you’re not really naked under that lace.  And your boyfriend is like 18 years old.  WE GET IT.  Stop trying so hard!

AND just because I want to, here is a picture of Amy Adams (who looked so-so tonight in a peachy/nude colored strapless number) from the 2011 Oscars.  This is an Oscar de la Renta, and it is hands down my favorite color/look ever.

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See you tomorrow…with some food posts:)

Sprouted Bean and Quinoa Patties

As I was reading through the quinoa recipes on one of my favorite blogs, 101 Cookbooks, I showed my sister (who I am visiting right now), who had a burst of cooking energy and the idea to add beans to these wonderful Quinoa Patties that Heidi makes.

So, we went ahead with it, but tweaking it slightly to create some of the most delicious vegetarian (we used eggs as a binder, so it was almost vegan) multi-bean and quinoa patties!

Here is what we started with:

photo (1)These came from Costco, but if you buy in bulk from a store like Sprouts (I do), you can use whatever you have at home.  The bean trio has lentils, mung beans, and adzuki, which was nice and easy.  And they have really good flavor just cooked and tossed with some fresh onion and other spices!  Anyway, here is the recipe:

Quinoa and Multi-Bean Patties

1 cup of dry quinoa

1 1/2 cups of bean mix

5-6 eggs (6 if they are on the smaller side)

2 cups of breadcrumbs (any kind you like)

1 teaspoon bakin powder

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin (or more if you have a cumin addiction like I do)

1 teaspoon dill

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground pepper

1/2 large onion finely chopped

a couple (or four) garlic cloves finely chopped

2 kale leaves finely chopped (we both have a Pampered Chef hand chopper which makes things super tiny, and if you have kids around, they can help pound on it)

After cooking, allow beans and quinoa to cool, and place in large bowl.  Add everything else–this is very easy!

Combine with hands until you’ve got a slightly sticky mix.

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Here’s where we deviated a little further: we just fried them in some olive oil on the stovetop.

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And let me tell you, these were absolutely FANTASTIC.  We dipped them in a few sauces to see what tasted good: sweet chili sauce, BBQ sauce, ketchup (kids’ favorite).  The chili sauce kind of gave it an asian-y flavor, and the BBQ was super good, too.  Try them with any of your favorite sauces!

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YUMS.

The BEST Stuffing EVER.

This is my mom’s recipe–it is seriously my favorite thing she makes for Thanksgiving.  I’m making it, too!  She came up with this about 30 years ago.  I am JUST NOW starting to see recipes for stuffing that includes most of these ingredients (namely the sausage and wild rice).  She is one of the reasons I am a good cook.

Ingredients:
One box of Mrs. Cubbison’s cornbread stuffing mix (Vons, Ralphs or Stater Bros should have this)
CAVEAT: you can make this with day old cornbread that you have made (that’s how I do it)–make your cornbread from scratch if you can using real cornmeal.  Make cornbread up to two days earlier, set it out on towels and break it up.  Leave it uncovered to get it stale.  If you do it this way, you will probably need a 9×13 size cornbread.  
IT IS TOTALLY FINE TO USE THE MIX, JUST DON’T GET THE CUBED CRAP.
One cup of cooked wild rice
1/2 pound sweet italian sausage removed from casing
1 small onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 med apple diced finely (green or yellow)
3/4 cup chopped mushrooms
1 egg
1/2 cup slivered almonds
sage or thyme or poultry seasoning (not a lot)
black pepper
1 stick of butter
1 cup chicken broth (you may need a little more, so have a little extra on hand)
Cook your rice–you will probably only need a 1/2 cup to yield 1 cup+
While the rice is cooking, dice your onion, celery, apple, mushrooms
In a deep frying pan (the biggest one you have), over medium-high heat, melt the whole stick of butter, and add sausage (make sure to break it up so it’s in small pieces), celery, onion, apples, mushrooms.  Saute until sausage is cooked.
Add chicken broth to make sure all the good stuff on the bottom comes up.  TURN HEAT OFF.  Then add stuffing mix, rice, and almonds.  Add seasoning now, too.  You will not need salt for this recipe! Combine all until it is the consistency of slighty tacky meatball mix.  You don’t want it drippy, but it needs to be saturated.
Put in large baking dish, 9×13.  HERE’S the MOST IMPORTANT PART: crack and beat one egg in a small bowl, and add it to the baking dish, incorporating it with your hands.
Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until crispy and brown on top.
I think you will love it as much as I do:)

Radical Education

Yesterday, while on lunch duty with the K-3 crowd, I asked one student what she had for lunch.  Before she answered (this being a first grader, so you know the answer is never the FIRST thing they tell you), she proceded to let me know that the hot lunch was chicken nuggets.  The following conversation ensued:

Me: Don’t you like chicken nuggets.

Girl: Well, I do, but I don’t eat them.

Me: Why not?

Girl: They have nitrates.

Me: (Knowing this, of course) Do they?  What are nitrates?

Girl: They’re a chemical that’s in some meat.

Me: Did your mom tell you about this?

Girl: No, my dad did.  He’s pretty smart.

Me: I’ll say!

Personally, I don’t think she’s missing out on her childhood because she doesn’t eat chicken nuggets (I am guessing that’d be some people’s argument to this little story).  We never had the luxury of eating out while growing up, so my mom made everything we ate.

I know I didn’t miss out on my childhood because I didn’t have chicken nuggets.

Kids say the funniest things, don’t they?

Stop the Presses! I Used a Crockpot

Youguyssss…I am not a fan of the crockpot.  Why?  Because I CAN’T CONTROL IT.  But seriously, I love cooking, and that involves more than just ingredients.  It’s the process, the prep work, the timing, everything.  And, I fancy myself a really good cook.

But this post is to inform you that I, the only person I know who doesn’t own a crockpot, actually used one.

I put a beef loin in the crockpot.  Then I dumped (super appetizing word, huh?) a jar of peperoncinis in the crockpot. I turned it on, and walked away.

BUT I KEPT THINKING ABOUT IT ALL DAY LONG.  Is that supposed to happen?  Because everyone I know who “cooks” in a crockpot says they just forget about the thing as they go about their day.

I actually made THREE trips home to check on it throughout the day.  Which, I suppose was totally unnecessary  but I couldn’t help myself.  I felt like I was cheating.  Cheating on my kitchen, my food, myself.

I was definitely having a hard time with this.

I mean it smelled good and all, but it always smells good in my house because I am always cooking.

Was I missing something about this so-called glorious cooking device?

The beef came out great–very tender, and a little spicy–and it made for some great sandwiches.  A little mustard, some onion, but I have to wonder, can I really say I cooked it?

It’ll be a while before I use that sucker again, methinks.

Fitness Fail–When a Favorite Exercise Just Doesn’t Work Anymore

I was thinking the other day about how much I used to run…at my peak, I was logging 35-40 miles per week.  I ran four half-marathons and one full marathon in just under 2 1/2 years.  Coupled with my 3-4 cycling classes, plus at least an hour of weightlifting a week, I was working out A LOT.  I loved it, but I was going pretty hard.

And then the knee pain started.

It didn’t go away.

So, in June of this year, I started something I thought I always despised (or, at least thought was not a real workout): yoga.  Hot yoga.  Everyday.  Sometimes twice a day.

Let me say this, I have more muscle mass, more LEAN muscle mass than before when I was running, cycling, and lifting like a crazy person.

I still go for occasional runs, but yoga has become the predominate form of exercise for me.  Also, at almost 33 years old, I just think my body wanted a change.  And, my yoga studio offers a multitude of classes–even one using lighter weights–that have just completely changed my body.

I am ten pounds over my weight from when I was running, etc., but I look and feel

better than I ever have.

I’ll take those ten pounds.

You guys, cooking is super easy.

I often wonder if anyone appreciates a cook anymore.  I am not talking about someone who can pull a recipe book off a shelf and follow it to a T, no, I am talking about someone who can look in a refrigerator, see six random items, and create a delicious, healthy meal from them.  I do this everyday.  The problem is, most people don’t think they can.  But, I am here to tell you it is possible, and you might be surprised at how easy and FAST it is to cook at home with what you already have.  I mean, you will have to go to the store, obviously, but I recommend going a few times a week–that way you know what you’re cooking with is fresh, and actual food.

Which brings me to a big no-no of this site.  And yeah, I am already telling you what to do.  Stop buying packaged food.  Right now.  Stop it.  It’s not real food.  I promise.  There is a whole back story to this, which I will let you know about as I post different ideas.

So, here is my 1 in a billion shot at conveying what I think a pretty brilliant way of doing things in the kitchen.  I hope you enjoy it.

-Noelle