Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sharing is caring

Overall, I would say I am a pretty giving person. I'd give up a seat or a close parking spot for the elderly. The shirt off my back if you ask. You get the point.

The one time though I DO have a problem with sharing is when it comes to dessert. I cringe a little on the inside when someone wants to have a bite of the delectable dessert I am trying to eat.

I have eyed Mama Pea's dough ball recipe many times. So many I could probably recite the ingredients by heart. Then she posted a new version of the recipe. Sadly, I had no juicy story to tell nor could I even think of a decent lie to enter her giveaway. I had come to the conclusion it was time to finally make my own.

Oh so delicious. Everything I could have dreamed of. But when it came time to follow through on my idea to share some of these yummy morsels with my coworkers (after I cooked a fresh batch on my lunch break) I couldn't. I'm too greedy.

At least i'll share my recipe.

Adapted from Mama Pea's recipe you can find here.
Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Dough Balls
Serves: Me (hehe just kidding I got about 30 from this batch)

* 1/2 c. Earth Balance
* 3/4 c. peanut butter
* 1/2 c. brown sugar
* 3/4 c. powdered sugar
* 1/2 t. vanilla extract
* 1 t. baking powder
* 1/2 t. baking soda
* 3/4 t. salt
* 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
* 3/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour
* 1/2 c. all purpose flour
* 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

~Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
~Beat margarine, peanut butter, sugars and vanilla until fully incorporated.
~In a separate bowl, combine baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder & flours.
~Add dry mixture to the "wet" ingredients in 3 stages. Mix until you have a dough.
~Add chocolate chips. Combine & chill for 30 minutes.
~Scoop dough with a large soup spoon and place balls on a cookie sheet.
~Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest/cool before trying to eat them all.

They will look like this.

or this..

Hopefully your clean pan will look better than mine. Let's call it "seasoned" shall we?

Once they've cooled, it's fair game.

I thought i'd be less tempted to eat them if I cooked them in small batches. Too bad I ate the raw dough as I was making them :) I suggest cooking them in 1 batch though as they were a little too crumbly by bake time #3. It's all good though, a splash of almond milk and they were morphed from dough ball to tender "normal" cookie.

Once I came to my senses that I wasn't being "nice" I took some dough balls to work to share. One for each of my coworkers.

Two for me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Easy Vegan Recipe~Cream of Broccoli & Spinach Soup~

Now, I can certainly appreciate that when the temps in the next few weeks will certainly be well into the 100's in some places (ahem, Florida) soup not be your go to meal of choice. However, I am the kind of person who enjoys soup all year long. The rest of your meals can be hot, so why not have a delicious bowl of soup? I have often heard that soup is merely a vessel for a warm & crusty baguette. I'm game.

I had some broccoli in the fridge to use up and so I decided to make a cream of broccoli soup. It is my FAVORITE soup to order at Panera Bread! Spinach was an addition merely to do the same-use up food in the fridge. This soup is so simple to make, I really don't know why I don't make it more often. Anyhow, without further adieu......

Cream of Broccoli & Spinach Soup *Serves 2~4*
1 T Canola Oil
1 T Earth Balance
1 leek, cleaned* & sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium carrot, peeled & chopped
3 c broccoli florets and stems (stems peeled & chopped)
3 c water
1 t vegetable base
1 bay leaf
3 c loosely packed spinach
1/2 c unsweetened almond milk
3/4 c nutritional yeast
S&P to taste

In a large stock pot, heat oil & margarine over medium heat. Add leeks and saute about 2-3 minutes until they start to get translucent. Add garlic and saute for about another minute. Be careful to not burn the garlic or it will get bitter! Toss carrots in the pan and saute for about a minute to start softening. Add broccoli to the pot and season veggies with salt and generous amounts of pepper as well as the bay leaf. Next, add water and veggie base, stir to combine. Cover and cook about 15 minutes until broccoli is tender. Add spinach to wilt~about 3 minutes. Remove pot from heat & remove bay leaf.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until creamy..be patient this will take some time. About halfway through blending, add almond milk to help move the rest of the veggies along. (You can also puree this in a blender, just be sure to do it in batches!). Once pureed, add nutritional yeast and salt & pepper to taste.


You could definitely adapt this recipe by leaving it a bit chunky or adding fresh herbs (thyme would be lovely), subbing some or all the broccoli with cauliflower, puree peas in to the mix instead of spinach (i'd add mint too). Melt in some daiya cheddar cheez or swirl in some pesto.

So I encourage you to not turn your nose up at a delicious bowl of soup simply because it's summertime. This a great make ahead meal, perfect for those long work days when you are too hot to slave over the stove :)

What is your favorite soup? Is there any soup that you'd like me to recreate? Leave a comment below :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

What a weekend..

I certainly needed it.

My bestie Angie invited me up to her family's house in Gainesville for a weekend getaway and I had a blast.

Let's rewind to Friday, shall we?

*5p~end of the work day.

Not good times. The state of Florida has had 3,427 fires that have burned more than 194,000 acres across the state thus producing a crap ton of smoke. No Bueno.

Despite blankets of smoke, we arrived safely around 9p. Prior to our trip, she had told me about a great restaurant called 'The Top' that served great vegetarian food. And it did not disappoint. But first, can I just share a very interesting photo?

Guess that's how they do it in the country :) I was seriously so excited to see cops on horseback!!

Anywho, back to the 'The Top'. It was love at first bite, err site? :)
Check out the decor!

They even had a photobooth..LOVE :)
Back to the real reason, the food.


Corn nuggets with garlic dip & quite possibly THE best mojito on the planet!


Black bean burger with Seitan bacon, blue cheese & fried onions on a pretzel bun.

The pretzel bun was a serious food revelation for me. I will soon be making this recipe here.


Crack cake. AKA Vegan Coconut Rum Cake

It was a close call between this and their vegan chocolate cake..but I always order chocolate cake so I chose this and I am SO glad I did.

Despite getting home around 1:30a, we managed to drag ourselves out of bed for some kayaking.

Good morning!

Off like a herd of dirty turtles.

Speaking of turtles...

So gorgeous!

A few blistered thumbs & sore arms later, we loaded up the kayaks and headed back to her parents house for her future sis~in~laws baby shower. Side note, I love baby showers :) I've lost track of how many i've been too hehe. Though, no photos :(

After all the shower guests had left, we had a music jam session :) Angie, her dad & brother were on guitar. Ang, her friend Elizabeth and I on vocals. It was my first time as a guest at their music jam and I had such a great time!! I cannot wait to do it again and it really makes me want to pull out my guitar and get to practicing!! Though again, no photos :(

Angie had pre~arranged plans with a friend of hers to go to a country bar. Something I have never done before. I don't listen to country. I don't dance country. But I had an awesome time. I even got out on the floor to dance a few times (I LOVE dancing). I am amazed that so many guys can and want to dance! Oops, no photos again. I stink.

Another late night led to another early morning with a big breakfast. A lack of sleep combined with a full belly is also no bueno so I suggested we take a walk to help ease the food coma. This time I brought the camera :)

Cows 15 ft from her house....I know i'm in the country :)

Say hello to my little friend.

Happy Trees

And finally a piece of history in someone's front lawn

Such a great weekend, but I definitely left feeling like this guy..

Angie's beloved, Roscoe.

Anything stand out for you this weekend?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Happy Birthday, Baby!

Yesterday was my Bf's 32nd Birthday! I surprised him with a new paddle for a kayak he'd recently acquired :) He was so excited he packed up and headed out to take a little trip. Said it was awesome...can't wait to try it :)

We like to take each other out for birthday dinners so I surprised him with a trip to one of our faves~Cafe Tu Tu Tango! We don't get to frequent too often because of the 1 hr drive but I was more than happy to make the trek to surprise him :) It's such a fun atmosphere~live band, local artist paintings hang from the walls and there is even a tarot card reader on some nights lol The food is served tapas style (small plates) which I enjoy so we can sample lots of yummy food!

Me & the Birthday Boy

We started off with a decanter of the house sangria (which I am not a huge fan of cold wine but made the sacrifice for the bday boy ;)

Along with delicious hummus

Next came Saganaki (Greek flaming cheese)

OPA! :)

The manager stopped by our table to chat to see how we were enjoying our meal so far and what we were planning on ordering. By the end of our conversation she was offering to send out more hummus & their spinach dip on the house. SCORE!

For our "main dish"
I ordered macadamia crusted mahi skewers

oops almost forgot to take a picture lol

And Phil ordered
Mushrooms Rockefellar

Both were SO delicious. We were so stuffed by the end of the meal but they offer a free birthday dessert of choice from their lovely menu...could never say no!! lol

Isn't their menu adorable?!?

I picked the Chocolate Covered cheesecake bites with raspberry sauce and fresh whipped cream. Mmmm mmmm mmmm! Must try to make these at home sometime!

This was probably the best birthday celebration by far! Can't wait to go back there soon!!

What has been your best birthday celebration?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Saturday, Saaaaturday

That was my attempt at Elton John singing my blog title. :)

Anywho, what a great saturday it was. Gorgeous, sunny. I'm really enjoying biking in this weather :) I started out with a quick 30 minute ride. Decided to ride up to my office to pick up something I left there and made my return journey along the river. The water was sparkling despite being murky blue :)

After my walk, my pups were anxious to get outside too so I had two quick walks as well. Taking the two together is impossible. For me anyway. They are only this big...

...but they are strong little stinkers and when they try to run towards something, it feels like they are about to pull my arms out...so, ya. I will walk them one at a time. Plus I get more activity :)

After I ate and showered, I headed out the buy the BF a birthday present (his birthday is Tuesday~which will remain a secret until then in case he happens to read) and headed down to see my friend Dani (who just found out she is having a baby boy in the near future~congrats!!). She had some clothes she was getting ready to donate and was kind enough to offer first dibs to me :) Got some new-to-me workout gear out of the trip so I was a happy camper! She and her fiance has just purchased a new harley which was shipped since my last visit. I've only been on a motorcycle once and really enjoyed it so I casually mentioned i'd like to ride :) Clay came home from work before I was planning to head home so he agreed to take me out (yippee).

I will now insert some nerdy photos of my very biker friendly outfit (complete with flip flops) and the massive & heavy head gear Dani gave me to wear....

It was so much fun..I can't wait to do it again. I unselfishly offered to be Clay's riding buddy as Dani can't ride due to being prego ;)

I had my heart set on making a curry dish this week but things get in the way so it got pushed off until today. This is in no way an authentic curry but it turned out delicious just the same....

I'll call this one, Cauliflower Curry :)
2 T Canola oil
2 t minced garlic
1 t minced ginger
1/2 t coriander seeds
1 T cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 t fennel seeds
1 T dried cilantro
2 T turmeric
1 t sea salt (to taste)
2 T curry powder
1 T ground cumin
1 T garam masala
1 can coconut milk
1 can no salt added fire roasted tomatoes
3- 3/1 c Mixed veggies (I used cauliflower (mainly), carrots, green pepper & asparagus)

In a saute pan, heat oil over medium high heat. Once oil is hot add garlic, ginger & spices through fennel seeds. Allow them to "fry" in the oil until fragrant. About a minute or two. Add veggies and toss to coat. Next, add remaining spices, tomatoes & coconut milk. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook 20-30 until veggies are tender (I like my vegetables "al dente" so I cook on the shorter time frame).

Don't mind the color, it tastes good :)

Garnish with lime wedges & serve with Naan bread or rice. Enjoy.

Question, can anyone recommend a good salt substitute? I don't mean something like Mrs. Dash but an actual salt substitute. I would like to cut back but I really feel it makes food taste better.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fabulous Sunday Part 2...on a Thursday...

What can I say i'm a busy gal ;)

So where was I? Oh yes, gorgeous sunny day. Energizing bike ride. Delicious breakfast. What more could one want?

Well, my answer is a picnic. With good company.
Wish granted :)

My friend Angie just returned from a 3 month stay in Holland (lucky!). Missed her so much and we had so much to catch up on so we decided to spend the afternoon together. We had such a good time~chatting, drinking wine, painting our nails with some new crackle nail polish I just bought and listening to PBS opera. A Chinese American political opera...who knew?

Before we headed out to get food for our picnic we decided to play America's favorite board game...

What's that you say? Scrabble is not America's favorite board game?!?! A triple letter and a triple word score on the word 'zebra' might persuade you, no? :)

After a riveting game, we headed off to pick up some goodies for our picnic.

On the menu:
Warm (fresh from the oven!) French Baguette from Panera's mmmmmmmm
Goat cheese
Strawberry Jam
Sundried tomatoes
baby carrots
pineapple & blueberry fruit salad
VINO! of course ;) {It was supposed to be reminiscent of a picnic we had in France at the Eiffel Tower :)

Grabbed our food & drink and headed out to a local park to enjoy. It was a gorgeous breezy, sunny afternoon..couldn't be happier.

I sometime forget how gorgeous Florida is...

I am extremely happy when surrounded by trees & greenery. Something new I am learning about myself. But then I am reminded that trees have nothing on a delicious dessert. Few things in the world bring me happiness more than a delicious dessert. One of them being Two delicious desserts ;)

Eclairs for our time in Paris. Chocolate covered Tiramisu for our time in Italy.
La Dolce Vita.

It was a wonderful end to a wonderful day. Looking forward to many more.....

Do you have any special foods that bring memories of a special event/time in your life?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Perfect Sunday~Part 1

Happy Sunday everyone! I hope everyone had an amazing weekend! Today has been just that for me..amazing.

Started out the morning ambitious. I have been CRAVING bagels like mad and just haven't stopped to grab one (not a huge fans of the pre~made ones at the grocery store). So today I thought I would treat myself to a delicious bagel from one of my favorite cafes....as long as I biked there. I figured, they cancel each other out, right?

So, we took off...

As you see, I am the more leisurely rider of the two of us..

So pretty :) And not too bad for one handed shots while riding hehe

It's a short ride from the house so we got there pretty quickly. When we pulled up I thought, boy it's really dark inside. Lo & behold....

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I was heart broken. This poor bakery. So lovely but has opened and closed 3 times at different locations in the last 6 years. I blame dunkin' donuts (whose bagels don't hold a candle to this bakery). As bummed as I was we still needed to eat breakfast but our town severely lacks decent breakfast restaurants. I had heard about this small restaurant on the beach side called The Cracked Egg Diner (ever in Daytona, check it out :) Since we were already on bike we decided to keep on riding. Around 5.5/6 miles to be exact. It was a great ride though. Can't complain too much aside from the massive bridge that I had to walk the bike up over (thankfully noone was a jerk and yelled at me for walking~yeah, people do that). But the sight at the top, beautiful.

Breakfast was just as beautiful. The restaurant was adorable too!! Tons of fun wall art everywhere.

I started out the meal with the BEST bellini I have ever had!

Bellini= Peach puree & sparkling wine (generally prosecco as this is an italian drink)

And had a belgian waffle with strawberries & whipped cream

mmm mmm mmmmmmmmm

It was truly a great way to start the day except I was kinda full and my legs were starting to get heavy on the way back. Note to self, need to ride more!

What's your idea of a perfect Sunday morning??

Well, it's getting late and unfortunately I have to work tomorrow so it's off to bed. Part 2 will be up tomorrow. Sweet dreams :)