October 29, 2012

Cherry Walnut Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

The best thing to do during a big storm is bake cookies! The warmth of the oven, plus the comforting smell of them baking, makes for a cozy afternoon.

These cookies are full of natural, healthy ingredients. Spelt flour, oats, cinnamon, cherries, & walnuts all add health benefits. Everyone loves eating a cookie & still feeling like they put something healthy into their body!

Enjoy & stay dry. My thoughts & prayers are with everyone as Hurricane Sandy comes through!

Cherry Walnut Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from Cooking Light
Makes 32-34 cookies

2/3 c (3 oz) spelt flour (or sub white whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 c old-fashioned oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 T organic butter
2/3 c sucant
1 tsp. vanilla
1 organic egg
1/2 c dried cherries (or sub raisins or dried cranberries)
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/3 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Mix together flour, oats, baking soda & salt in the bowl of a mixer. Stir to combine.
Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Once melted, watch closely until butter begins to brown. Remove browned butter from heat & add sucanat. Add to flour mixture and beat at medium speed until combined. Add vanilla and egg; beat until blended. Fold in cherries, walnuts, & chocolate. 

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets. Cookies will only spread slightly. Bake for 12 minutes, then remove from oven & cool on pans for 3 minutes before removing. Finish cooling on wire racks.

October 27, 2012

Tasty Tidbits

It's weekend time again! Time flies. The days may stretch on a little, but the weeks fly by! This was a tiring week, so I'm glad that tomorrow will be pretty laid back. I'm not going to go to the grocery store, no matter what, because I'm sure it will be packed with all the people picking up last minute items before the big storm that's on its way.

I'm going to do some experimenting with my ice cream maker this weekend, plus make some other staples for the week, like more granola, hummus, & bread. I'd also like to finish The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week) (long title!!). It's an inspiring book about a woman who does a lot of cooking/preserving & does it all from local sources. She has a lot of great facts about eating locally & about various foods, plus recipes for the things she mentions.

Hope you all enjoy your weekend & stay dry!

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

  • Cherry Protein Smoothies
  • Peach yogurt with Cherry Almond Granola
  • Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal with peanut butter & apples/bananas
  • Leftovers
  • Cauliflower mash topped with steamed kale, roasted butternut squash & peanut sauce
  • PB & Apple Butter Sandwich
  • Mama Pea's Chex Mix - A couple times a year, I make this as a special treat. It's SO good - much better than bought chex mix, or any other recipe I've tried.
  • Apples


  • Pumpkin Chili
  • Homemade Whole Wheat Bread
  • Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Sauce
  • Sauteed Brussels Sprouts & Red Onions
  • Tuscan Kale & Bean Soup
  • Homemade Whole Wheat Bread
Birthday dinner with my in-laws at The Hershey Pantry
  • I ordered the Eggplant Stackers (one of the specials) with a sweet potato seasonal salad. The eggplant was delicious! The salad was mayo based - blech - so I scraped off the mayo as best I could & ate the cubes of sweet potato. Yes, it was messy. :-)
Traditional choir night dinner at Mom & Pops' house. 
  • Lemon Lentil Soup
  • Green Salad
Dinner with friends
  • Out at Chalit's Thai Bistro - I looooove Thai food!


October 24, 2012

Birthday Weekend

Last Friday was my birthday & the Bup & I took off work to celebrate with a 3-day weekend. We met my grandparents at Shady Maple to take advantage of my free birthday breakfast. Whew they have a lot of food there. I'm overwhelmed everytime we go. The main reason I like to go is for the fresh pancakes. This time, I got 2 small pumpkin pancakes - one with coconut & apples, the other with pb & choc chips. So good!

After breakfast, we went to the market next door. Look at these crazy huge, "overly obese" pumpkins!

Such abundance! We bought some produce off of the $1/bag rack, plus a few other things. They had avocados for 77 cents each!

I was drooling over their almond & coconut milk selection. None of the stores around us sell So Delicious brand. Plus, they also had rice milk & flax milk. I didn't get any, but now I know where to go if I want to.

We spent the afternoon around the house. I finished my book (Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir) - for a snippet, go here & prepare to laugh!). Tink curled up with me & was being so sweet.

My parents had us up for my birthday dinner. Mom & I split a Blue Moon Caramel Apple Spiced Ale. It was really good, although not as caramely or appley as I expected.

I requested pizzas, & Mom came up with some tasty topping. The one on the left has a pumpin parmesan sauce topped with bell peppers & artichoke hearts. The right pizza is fresh smoked mozerella with thinly sliced lemons & fresh basil.

The third flavor was basil-lemon balm pesto topped with broccoli, jalapeno slices & mushrooms.

I couldn't decide which one I liked best. I kept alternating bites, trying to decide. So delicous! We also had a big green salad with dinner - yum!

Before we had cake, we played a game of Farkle. We played another game afterwards. I didn't win either, but it was still fun.

My cake was Happy Day cake with chocolate icing - my favorite!

Mom swapped a few ingredients & made the cake with whole wheat flour & coconut oil - just how I love it. It was fantastic.

We tried for some nice family photos afterwards, but everyone was being a ham. Here we are, all in red.

My family. <3

When we got home, the Bup hung my final b-day present. He made me a rack to hang my necklaces! The free necklaces I got from my jewelry party this summer didn't fit in my little box. I think I tripled my necklace collection at that party! Tink kept trying to play with them, so this was the perfect solution.

On Saturday, we went for an hour long bike ride & then worked a little around the house. We stopped to play a round of mini golf (I had free coupons - can't let them go to waste!) on the way to my friend's birthday party. This pic makes me laugh - he looks sorta short. We were a little dressed up for mini golf.

Celebrating with the birthday girl!

The Bup bought his own bottle of wine because the wines offered were sweet. They made sure that they knew it was his! I was surprised by how much I liked the dry wines offered. My tastes are changing!

Sunday was pretty quiet. We went to church, had lunch, took a walk, worked in the garden, did some cooking for the week, cleaned out part of the basement, & watched a little Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix. It was a relaxing final day of a great weekend!

Thanks to everyone for all of the birthday wishes!

October 20, 2012

Tasty Tidbits

I'm celebrating my birthday weekend by spending time with family & friends. I'm trying to give myself some time to just relax, not worry about anything, & enjoy life! 

Last weekend, I made pumpkin cinnamon rolls & I was loving the way the light coming through the kitchen door created a rainbow on my breakfast. Such a great reminder of the way God's creation is all around us.

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

  • Mama Pea's Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls - These were amazing! They came together pretty quickly (especially for a yeast dough), and were the perfect combo of dough & sweet cinnamon. We topped them with Raw Cinnamon Creamed Honey instead of the glaze.
  • Pumpkin Protein Smoothies
  • French Vanilla yogurt with Cherry Granola
  • Ashley's Apple Spice Buckwheat Protein Bake - I love making her breakfast bakes as a change of pace from my usual breakfasts. They're filling, tasty, & a great base for all kinds of toppings. I topped this with pumpkin butter, peanut butter, & chocolate almond butter.
  • Pumpkin Brown Rice Porridge, topped with a dollop of peanut butter
  • Bananas

[Sweet potatoes as big as my foot!]


Friends over for a campfire
  • Mountain Pies over the campfire
  • S'mores
Traditional choir night dinner at Mom & Pops' house. 
  • Cabbage Soup
  • Green Salad
Birthday dinner at Mom & Pops' house. 
  • Homemade pizzas on the grill
  • Green Salad


October 18, 2012

Mac 'n Cheeze Vegetable Casserole

On Saturday at market, they had broccoli on sale, 3 head for $5. So far, I've used 1 head; it was large enough for us to have steamed as part of our rice bowls on Saturday night, added to this casserole, & eated for lunch on Monday. I have 2 heads left. I think tonight we'll have broccoli soup. Maybe tomorrow night we can roast it. Good thing I love broccoli!

This dish is a lighter take on macaroni & cheese. While it is admittedly less creamy, you can always double the sauce recipe to get more of a traditional casserole. The flavors are delicious & it has the added benefit of being very healthy. We love this pumpkin cheeze sauce & I was so excited to have it for the first time this fall! I discovered it from Angela's blog last fall & we had it many times, but then we moved on from pumpkins & sort of forgot about it until now.

Even if you're skeptical of this, just try it. I think you'll love it! It tastes decadent, even though it's full of healthy ingredients. The pasta to vegetable ratio is perfect for me (about even). If you prefer more veggies or more pasta, just tweak it to your liking. It's easy to mix up this dish.


Mac 'n Cheeze Vegetable Casserole
Sauce inspired by OhSheGlows.com
Serves 6

1 box whole wheat elbow macaroni
1 large onion, sliced
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small head of broccoli, chopped
1 T organic butter
1 1/2 c unsweetened original almond milk
1 T cornstarch
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
8 T nutritional yeast
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. dried ground mustard
1 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4-1/2 c panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 9"x13" baking pan with cooking spray. Prepare pasta as indicated on the box. While the water boils & the past cooks, prepare remaining ingredients.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook onions until soft, about 4-5 minutes. Add peppers, jalapeno, & garlic. Cook for another 4 minutes, then add zucchini & broccoli. Cook just until tender.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add milk & cornstarch, whisking until smooth. Stir in garlic powder, nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, dried ground mustard, and pumpkin. Combine, then add salt & pepper, adjusting to taste.
Once everything is ready, combine pasta, vegetables, and sauce. Stir until noodles are all coated with sauce. Pour into the prepared baking pan. Top with panko bread crumbs. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until heated through and the top is browned.

Alternately, you can skip the baking step and serve as a stove top mac n' cheeze. I like the baking step because the flavors have more time to meld & the top gets crunchy, but for a quicker meal, it's still tasty pre-baking!

October 16, 2012

Tink's Blessing

On Sunday afternoon, we took Tink to a Pet Blessing Ceremony at our church. We thought she'd look so cute with a bow on, but she didn't agree. This was the first one we tried, but the ribbon was so long that she immediately attacked it & undid the bow. After that, she wasn't letting any ribbons come around her neck, so we gave up after a few attempts.

She was really wound up. My dad gave her this climbing post & she's just loving it.

The Bup was playing with her ball & got her to stand on top of the post.

After that, though, she just sat & watched it, probably laughing at him for trying to get her to jump up again & thinking, "Daddy, I'm smarter than that!" Haha.

She doesn't mind the cat carrier & went right in when we threw a ball in. This pic was taken after we walked to the church. She was a little scared at that point because of hearing all the traffic & feeling so much movement from us carrying her & walking.

It was Tink & 5 dogs at the ceremony, so she was pretty content to snuggle in with the Bup & sit it out.

During the ceremony, our pastor came around to each pet & gave them a blessing. Tink hissed at her repeatedly! She did not like a stranger talking to her like that! But she made it through the blessing & settled back down quickly.

The pastor passed out doggie treats & Tink really liked the smell. She was licking it a lot, but couldn't get a bite out of it. We donated it to Tank, one of the dogs at the ceremony. He ate it up in one big bite.

It was fun taking her outside & visiting everyone & their pets. Congrats Tink! You are blessed!

October 13, 2012

Tasty Tidbits

Fall sky in the morning. So peaceful!

Tink had her first vet appointment this week. She came out unscathed & just as energetic as before. The only sign of a vet visit was a small patch of shaved fur on her leg.

Wednesday's garden harvest: lettuce, a bit of kale, tomatoes, bell peppers, & Swiss chard.

We're clearing some of the end of summer plants out of the garden this weekend. Things are slowly winding down. I moved our basil plants into the sunroom & they're looking good. We're hoping to turn that into a greenhouse of sorts so that we can have fresh lettue & herbs during the winter.

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



Mommom's birthday dinner
  • Rigatoni with Tomato Sauce
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Onions
  • Green Salad
  • Fresh homemade applesauce

  • Spaghetti Squash Casserole (I made this one up based on what was handy. In the mix: roasted cauliflower, diced tomatoes, bean sprouts, bell pepper, jalapenos, onions, cherry tomatoes)
  • Green Salad with Rossetti's Italian Vinaigrette
  • Pesto Eggplant Spaghetti Squash Casserole (Tuesday's leftovers, repurposed by adding roasted eggplant & tossing with homemade Basil Almond Pesto) - Even though we were eating leftovers, this was completely different! It's amazing what a few added ingredients can do.
Traditional choir night dinner at Mom & Pops' house. 
  • Pumpkin Soup & Green Soup
  • Apple Cinnamon Muffins
  • Green Salad
  • Roasted Zucchini Quesadillas with Guacamole
  • Broccoli

  • Chocolate Coconut Cake - Mommom's birthday cake
  • Trader Joe's Sipping Chocolate
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