September 29, 2012

Tasty Tidbits

I'm hoping for a nice relaxing weekend that involves biking, going to market, playing with Tink, & lots of reading.

Here's what we've been eating in the last week:



Cooking over the campfire!
  • The Pioneer Woman's Good Ol' Basic Mexican Rice - I used 1.5 c brown rice & .5 c wild rice, which worked well. I also used fresh jalapenos & tomatoes instead of the 2 cans of Rotel/tomatoes. It was hands off once everything was chopped & it made plenty for leftovers.
  • Sauteed zucchini, bell pepper, & black beans seasoned with chili powder
  • Jessica's Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes - Loved these! They take a bunch of chopping, but then they come together quickly. We used all basil instead of cilantro.
  • Heidi's Garlicky Greens made using kale - These were quick to make & had a ton of flavor! We'll be keeping this recipe to make again.
  • Spaghetti Squash & Eggplant Casserole topped with Broiled Cherry Tomatoes - I threw this together with veggies we had around. I think it could be a new favorite!
Traditional choir night dinner at Mom & Pops' house. 
  • Zucchini Pie
  • Tomato Salad
  • Mushroom & Zucchini Salad
  • Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Kale
  • Girls' night at a friend's house!

  • Banana soft serve
  • Mini canteloupe halves from our garden with mini chocolate cupcakes
  • Coconut Apple Crisp
  • Ginger Apple Squares

September 27, 2012

What's Growing Now: Early September

Our garden is still green & growing! We're getting end of summer tomatoes, eggplant, brussels sprouts, bell peppers, & jalapenos.

In the back bed, where the Bup put our last load of composted soil, we have a few head of lettuce growing. I was so excited to see them pop up, because I've been unsuccessful getting my seeds to start. It's been hot & dry the other times, so I'm hoping the last batch I planted will take.

The cherry tomatoes are still crazy. I'm getting tired of picking them!

Our purple bell peppers are still small, but they're ripe & ready to pick. I'm trying to leave some on the vine to see if they're change to red. You can see one in the top right that's trying to!

Baby squash! This plant is taking over, growing over the fence & out into the yard. I love squash, so I'm encouraging it.

Another part of the same squash vine has a spaghetti squash growing. I can't wait to eat it!

This bed has taken off in the last 2 weeks. There's beets, turnips, carrots, broccoli, & a random vine that might be cucumber.

The Thai basil we planted has taken off. It's so pretty with the purple flowers growing right by it.

Some bugs are eating the leaves of our eggplants, but they're still thriving. This has been the best year yet for us growing eggplants. We've even had enough to give a few away!

Kale & swiss chard, in all their glory. They just don't stop!

Amidst our sweet potato vines, we have another unknown vining plant. I think this might be a melon of some kind, but we won't know for sure until we cut it open.

I'm excited for winter, when the gardening slows down a little & we have some snow. In the meantime, though, we're enjoying the final harvests. It's great to have fresh produce even with the cooler weather that's here. Happy fall!

September 26, 2012

Cheezy Jalapeno Hummus

It's been awhile since I posted a hummus recipe! That's strange, because I make hummus just about every weekend. We love it. Since we eat at least 1 batch per week, it's a huge cost savings to make it at home. Tahini is the most expensive ingredient, & we've been having flavored hummus that doesn't require it. Perfect for keeping costs low!

We've been in a rut lately, but this weekend I decided to try something new. We have a vegetable drawer that is 1/3 full of jalapenos, so I need to start using them in everything I make! In the past, we've had a cheddar jalapeno hummus, so I did a twist on that to make a vegan version. 

It has a nice kick, but nothing too overwhelming. Our favorite dippers are spelt pretzels & carrot sticks, but crackers & blue tortilla chips are delicious, too.

Hummus often gets a bad rap as being high calorie, or high fat, but if you make it yourself, you can limit both. This recipe, divided into 8 servings, has about 100 calories per serving (about 1/4 cup). Compared to a serving of commercially prepared hummus, with 70 calories for 2 tablespoons (or 140 calories per 1/4 cup), it's much lighter. It's a win-win: save money, save calories/fat!


Cheezy Jalapeno Hummus
Inspired by Eat Live Run
Serves 8

1 - 14.5-oz can chickpeas, drained & rinsed (1.5 cups cooked chickpeas)
1 jalapeno pepper, halved & seeds removed
3 T nutritional yeast
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1-2 T warm water, as needed

Place all ingredients except for water into a food processor. Process until combined. If mixture is dry, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, combining until smooth. Store in a airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Hummus, previously:
Basil Lime White Bean Hummus
Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

September 24, 2012

3J's Coffee

Our favorite way to spend Saturday mornings is with a bike ride to the farmer's market, then to 3J's Coffee for breakfast, & then out on a 10-14 mile bike ride. It's a great way to start the weekend!

We really enjoy going to 3J's. I can't believe I haven't blogged about it before. Their food is delicious & we always find something new to try. For awhile, they had an Almond Coconut flavored coffee that was fantastic. Then they switched to Whoopie Pie flavored, which we bought a bag of to enjoy at home. It smells like you're brewing a whoopie pie!

The Bup's favorites include the Vegetable Breakfast Pizza above & the Very Veggie Omelet. He's less adventurous with flavored coffee than I am, so he gets the house blend coffee. It's strong & fragrant - just what he loves.

I've tried something new every time we've gone. This trip, I had the Haitian French Toast, which was a French baguette dipped in orange & cinnamon, topped with orange marmalade. The orange flavor really stood out. It was pretty sweet (I didn't need to add any syrup!), but delicious! This time, I tried the Pumpkin Chai Tea instead of my usual ice coffee. It was perfectly spiced for this fall weather we're having.

Past breakfasts I've had include the Baked Oatmeal, Buttermilk Pancakes with the Fresh Fruit Bowl (you get tons of fruit!), & the Fruit Parfait. I also had one of their French toast specials that included Macadamia Nut topping. Yum!

Part of what we love is that the owners always recognize us & come over to say hi. They even know that we ride our bikes there! Little touches like that keep us coming back even more than we might otherwise.

We went for dinner one Friday night, also, & enjoyed some of the live music. It was a relaxed atmosphere & we had fun. I do like their breakfasts better than the dinner, but breakfast is my favorite meal, so I'm biased! If you have a chance, I highly recommend trying 3J's.

September 22, 2012

Tasty Tidbits

I really can't handle the cuteness of our kitten! Tink just tucks herself in wherever we are. And she's so tiny that she can't help but be adorable.

When I was saying bye to her one morning, I jumped back into a plank position to be down on her level. The Bup was making fun of me, so he did the same thing to mock me. Tink came right over, faced us, & jumped all of her paws out just like we had done. Yoga kitty!!!

Her interest in yoga was confirmed the next morning when she joined me on the yoga mat. She got a better workout than I did! She was running & pouncing all over the place, especially on the shadows that my arms were casting on the carpet. Downward-facing dog was her favorite move; she was intrigued & kept attacking my feet.

We're going hiking with friends this weekend. Can't wait to spend the day outside in the fall air!

Here's what we've been eating in the last week:

  • Pumpkin baked oatmeal with peanut butter & Trader Joe's Cranberry Apple Butter
  • Pineapple yogurt with homemade granola
  • Marla's Peanut Butter Pumpkin Muffins (gluten free & vegan!) - I love the texture that the almond flour adds to these!
  • Cereal: Puffed Millet, Puffed rice & Puffed Kamut with vanilla almond milk on it.
  • Fresh fruit: nectarines, bananas


Cooking over the campfire!
  • Tofu dogs on whole wheat potato rolls
  • Vegetable foil packets (zucchini, bell pepper, red onion)
  • Roasted cherry tomatoes

  • Hersheypark for the evening!
  • Broccoli & tempeh stir fry
  • Green Salad
  • Use Up the Veggies Soup
  • Jenny's No Knead Sourdough Bread - This has a wondeful crust! Nevermind that I set off the smoke detector while preheating the oven...oops...
  • Green Salad
Traditional choir night dinner at Mom & Pops' house. 
  • Cooking Light Magazine's Tomato and Asparagus "Carbonara", with eggplant instead of the asparagus - We all agreed this is a keeper recipe!
  • Green Salad
  • Kale, beet, carrot & apple medley


September 20, 2012

Pizza Party!

We had a fun night last Friday visiting with my aunt. Since we only see her once a year, we always have a lot to catch up on! This time, we made pizzas on the grill while we talked. As usual, we had a lot of fun & a night full of laughter. After dinner, we walked to our house to visit Tink.

Starting the evening off with some bubbly.

Appetizer: Crispy provolone cheese, cooked on a skillet.

White wine from a fancy bottle

Toppers: sauce, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, spicy sauce, pesto, oregano

Assembly line ready to go

My pizza, loaded with broccoli

Mom's pizza

Aunt Beth's pizza

Back on the grill

Deep in grilling mode


Dinner is served!

Funny face


September 19, 2012

Vegetable Foil Packets in the Fire

I think we've started a new Sunday night tradition: Cooking over the campfire! It was so relaxing to be outside & apart from everything going on in our busy lives. We took about 2 hours to cook/eat, relax, talk, watch the fire, & stare up at the stars. It was a little getaway on our own patio!

To keep things simple, we cooked our veggies in foil packets right in the fire. I thinly sliced zucchini, bell peppers, & red onions, layering them & sprinkling them with salt, pepper, & garlic powder. Foil packets can be super versatile, so whatever veggies are in season will work. I carefully wrapped up the foil so it was firmly closed, & we were ready to cook.

On the menu: Tofurky hot dogs, veggie foil packets, & cherry tomatoes.

A note about the hot dogs: Neither of us is really into hot dogs, even before becoming vegetarian. I kept hearing about tofu dogs, though, so when I saw them at Whole Foods, I decided to check out the package. While the ingredients aren't completely clean, they are suprisingly decent, especially considering what regular hot dogs have in them! These were pretty good - better than what we remembered hot dogs being. I don't think we'll get them often, but it was fun & nostalgic to roast them on sticks over the fire.

We just tucked the foil packets along the sides of the fire. After about 15 minutes, we flipped them over & rotated them 180 degrees to make sure all sides were cooking evenly.

On a whim, I thought we should try roasting the cherry tomatoes. We love them roasted in the oven, so how could we go wrong? It was fun watching them burst when the fire hit them! I asked the Bup what he thought after he ate a few & he said, "They taste like warm tomatoes with a little char." Hah! 

Finished veggies - they were a little softer than we usually cook our veggies, but the flavors melded & they were delicious.

Vegetable Foil Packets in the Fire
Serves 2

1 medium zucchini, sliced thinly
1 bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
salt & pepper, to taste

Tear off 2 sheets of foil, about 1.5' long each. Spray the center of each sheet lightly with cooking spray. Layer the vegetables in the middle of the sheets. Sprinkle with garlic, salt & pepper.

Fold foil around the vegetables by folding up the two sides & rolling the edges together down to the vegetables. Then fold the open ends up, rolling until they are close to the vegetables. (See pictures for what it should look like. The goal it to make sure the edges will not come apart.)

Place foil packets onto the coals in a campfire, or grill over medium heat. After about 15 minutes, flip packets & rotate 180 degrees to heat evenly. Cook for another 10-15 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Open packets & enjoy!

Note: You can use any combination of vegetables and seasonings. Potatoes will work, too, just make sure to slice them very thinly. They may need to cook slightly longer.
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