Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Dinner

Ok, I think I know what I'm making for Christmas dinner. Of course, knowing me I'll be changing my mind right up to setting the table. But for now:

Au Gratin Herb Scalloped Potatoes from Vcon (I should have opened the book to find out what they were actually called first). I made these before when I had some friends from high school stay with us a few days. I was the only vegetarian out of the four of us, and everybody loved these, so I think they're family safe.

My Spinach-Artichoke Dip. Not for dinner exactly, but for snacks before dinner, or at the very least for New Years.

Turkey Roast. Just saw this on EverydayDish and thought it looked really good. I might go with something else though....

Mushroom gravy. Because it isn't a holiday meal without buckets of yummy gravy.

And of course there should be plenty of stuffing and vegetables and rolls and possibly sweet potatoes floating around the dinner table, but Grandpa is in charge of all that, because he makes the best stuffing and sweet potatoes ever. Not the sweet potatoes with the pineapple in it though (or is that the one my dad makes...), the kind with all the yummy pecans on top. Mmmm. Hopefully he can use some EarthBalance and Veggie broth and my sister and I can enjoy all of it too.

And just for kicks, I found this in my picture file the other night and thought it was great. My mom would kill me if she knew this picture was on here, so everybody pipe down. This was taken a couple of years ago before her work's themed Christmas party. Nevermind my dad's shoes and the cat beds.

My mom is a hottie.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mmmm...Spinach-Artichoke Dip

I am a huge fan of dips. HUGE. I have been known on many occasions to make dip and eat it for lunch with crackers. New Years and Superbowl Sunday are my favorite days of the year because they are "snack-um" days, where my family and I eat nothing but appetizers and finger foods all day. So, when I say this is in the top 5 best dips ever, you need to take my word for it. And if that isn't enough, this dip was devoured by my ocean club, most of whom refuse to believe that vegan food can be any good at all. So I waited until they had all eaten half the bowl and then spilled the beans :-)

This recipe is a combination of this one, and one given to my family by some friends.

Spinach-Artichoke Dip

2 cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 small package frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. vegan cream cheese
8 oz. vegan sour cream
3/4 cup soy parmesan cheese (or ground almonds)
1 small can mild diced chiles
oregano and paprika to taste.

Mix everything together and bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, until bubbly. Or dump everything in a small crockpot and warm on low heat.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Weekly Meal Wrap-up

This week was finals week, so I didn't really make a menu at all. But it's all over with now and I'm free from classes until January 20th. Like everyone else, we're also a little short on cash (nothing major, just not a lot left over for extra things), so I've decided to try to use up my massive stock-pile of food in the pantry and only buy fresh fruit and veggies from the store. So far, so good. This week we ate:

Navy Bean Soup. It never got made last week, so I made it this week. I added some liquid smoke to the recipe, and ended up adding a lot of extra salt, but it was great!

Homemade Bread. This loaf didn't raise very well, but I think my yeast may be dead. We ate it with the navy bean soup.

Vegan egg-salad sandwiches. I need to experiment a little more, but it was pretty good between slices of homemade bread.

Sausage, potato, and cabbage soup. I had some leftover homemade vegan sausages, half a head of cabbage, and some potatoes left over from the last farmers' market. Not the best soup ever, but it was warm and filling and a great way to use up some odds and ends.

Eggplant Parmesan. This would have been absolutely wonderful, except for one thing. I forgot that I'm not a fan of eggplant. For some weird reason I was craving eggplant though, and since it was on sale at the co-op, I figured it was perfect to use up some odds and ends. I'll probably try the recipe again as lasagna or with zucchini and summer squash.

Tonight and tomorrow David is at work, so I'll probably just be using up more leftovers and cleaning out the fridge. We're traveling to our respective parents' houses on Monday or Tuesday to spend Christmas with our families. I haven't decided what I'm making for Christmas dinner, but for sure there will be at least a couple of cookies and spinach-artichoke dip.

Now that I've realized that Christmas is less than a week away, I need to go finish preparing gifts and pick up a couple of gifts still.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Looking Back

Before I started writing here exclusively, I kept a blog on livejournal. Last year, I wrote this post that I pretty much forgot about until yesterday:

Just like everyone else this time of year, I've started to reflect on how far I've come this year and where I want to go next year. I never really make resolutions, because it seems like they never really last past Jan. 15th anyway. But I got an interesting e-mail the other day from one of my vegan newsletters, and it's stuck with me. Basically the jist of it is this:

If you had to pick just one word to focus your life for an entire year, what word would you choose?

One word to summarize and reflect on for a whole year. There's thousands of words in the English language, and many of them are good ones to focus on. But eventually I narrowed it down from the e-mail's list of 65 words to three related words to focus my life on for an entire year:




Health is not just losing all this extra weight, but focus even more on healthy eating. Pay attention to serving sizes, make a real effort to eat a vegan diet for the majority of the time, exercise so I don't feel my heart pounding after climbing stairs or so I can lift equipment, drink at least 2 liters of water a day, use lotion on my hands, feet, and face, make a bigger effort to stop using chemicals on my body and in my house. These aren't all resolutions, but just things that I want to give a bigger focus on in my life and even if by next year I'm just a little bit healthier, it's better than nothing.

Self-Love is a big one that I need to focus on. I'm sure most of you know, I don't have a very good self image. Although part of me tells me that how I feel isn't true, a large part of me assures me that I am fat, ugly, stupid, lazy, worthless, selfish. And for as long as I can remember, I've always felt this way about myself. I want to focus on loving myself the way I am now, with the extra weight, hang nails, zits, dry skin, not working a "real" job, putting my schooling as a priority over supporting myself and I want to focus on and find more self-love as I lose weight and become healthier. Stop letting my baggage get in the way of what I want to do; surf, kayak, hike, swim in a bathing suit, mountain bike, rock climb because I'm too fat or not in shape enough to do these things.

Release closely follows Self-Love. I want to focus on releasing all the baggage that I've been carrying around for years, all the stuff that's made me resent people, allowed little things to hurt me because they just pile on top of other little things, made me sabotage relationships and friendships and opportunities because they can't really be what they seem to be. I also want to focus on releasing all the habits and emotional baggage that has contributed to my health being the way it is. And release all this weight :)

So I cheated a little by picking more than one word (although the e-mail said that it was OK to pick up to three if you just really couldn't narrow it down), but I think that they're all closely related and feed back into one another. By working on one, I should begin to work on the others, etc. And it's better than a resolution since I'm not setting myself up for failure by saying I have to lose X amount of weight, or work out so many times a week or whatever.

Looking back at that post, I can help but be a little awed that the focus words I chose truly were the main themes of my year. I was preliminarily diagnosed with metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes), which set me on a course to figure out if I actually have it or not (it's still up in the air), become fully vegan, and I ended up losing about 25 pounds so far this year (mostly during my Alaska road trip, in which our stove broke and we were forced to live off trail mix, rice cakes, and peanut butter for several days until we could get it fixed). I can't say when it happened exactly, but I have found a great deal of peace with myself over this year. I still have my bad days when I beat myself up about things that aren't true or possible (trying to be superwoman/perfect), but overall I have become very happy with myself and my decisions that I've made in my life. I've also found that things don't bother me as much anymore. I can let things go more easily, and while things that are said may still hurt, and I might still be upset by them, I get over them faster and easier.

It's amazing how at peace I feel. Sure, I get incredibly stressed out by classes, midterms, projects, and now finals, but I've been getting better and better at accepting the stress (maybe crying for while), and then moving on and using that energy and stress to get things done. I've learned to accept that everything happens for a reason, and to release my desire to control everything in my life.

I will be doing this again for the new year. I haven't decided what my new word(s) will be; I will get done with finals and then spend time meditating on this to figure out where I need the most work, or to find a word that feels right at this time. I think this is much better than a new years resolution, and maybe I will get one of Beautythatmoves' mantra quilts to display my word over the year. I can't remember (or find) the e-mail where this idea came from, but if anyone does, please let me know and I will link to the original authors. If you would like to participate, here is the list of words to get you started:


































































Sunday, December 7, 2008

Menu Plan Monday (well, Sunday really)

This next week is a little less stressful than last week, but it's the week before finals, so it's not entirely stress free. There's a lot of crock pot meals this week, and lots of yummy comfort food. Be sure to check out Menu Plan Mondays and Veg*n Menu Plan Mondays for more ideas!

Sunday: A big pot of Apple Cinnamon Amaranth Grits for breakfast/brunch and Cheesy Bean and "Cheese" enchiladas and Spanish rice for dinner. Making snickerdoodle cookie dough, freezing some and baking some for Wednesday. Also baking Hannah's garlic bread for tomorrow night.

Monday: Leftover Amaranth grits for breakfast, leftover enchiladas and rice for lunch. A slight variation on my usual baked penne, salad and garlic bread for dinner. Putting 5 Grain Cereal into the crockpot for breakfast tomorrow.

Tuesday: 5 Grain Cereal for breakfast, leftovers for lunch. Making Almond Tofu for dinner again (I can't get enough!!!)

Wednesday: Leftover 5 Grain Cereal for breakfast, leftovers for lunch (I may actually take 2 small "lunches" since I'm at school from 8am-8pm). Taking snickerdoodles and maybe popcorn to Oceanography club after class. If David and I are hungry when we get home, we'll have nachos.

Thursday: Leftover 5 Grain Cereal for breakfast, leftovers for lunch. Bringing snickerdoodles or some other snack to share to class. White Bean Soup in the crockpot with leftover garlic bread. I used to love my grandpa's white/navy bean soup in my pre-vegetarian ham eating days, so hopefully this will taste just as good. I may add a little liquid smoke to the soup.

Friday: Early morning class today, so probably nothing or just a granola bar for breakfast, same old leftovers for lunch. If we don't have mass amounts of leftovers still in the fridge, I'll make myself some rice salad (cutting that recipe at least in half) and baked tofu for dinner.

Saturday: Lots of chemistry studying happening today, so just leftovers for breakfast and lunch. Mashed potatoes, squash, and Smothered Tofu Steak and Onions for dinner.

Because I'm a stressed out college student going into finals, I don't have a lot of time to do a bunch of baking for Christmas parties and gifts, so I'm planning on making up a batch or two of cookie dough on the weekends and freezing them to bake up real quick throughout the week.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Back soon

Wow, it's been almost a whole month! School has gotten the best of me and unless I get a few short minutes this weekend to write (not looking good), I will probably be hidden away in my textbook hidey-hole preparing for two presentations next week and finals after that. I'd write more tonight, but I just finished a 15 page scientific research paper that I am using for both a class project and my senior thesis proposal, so my little fingers are bushed.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and are enjoying the beginning of the holiday season!