Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tree upgrade!

This year's tree!



Last year as we browsed the Christmas tree lots, we were shocked at how pricey Christmas trees are!  Last week I was at the grocery store and saw that they were selling trees outside, and I was shocked at how not pricey they were!  Our 7 foot tree that we bought from the grocery store was the same price at the 2.5 foot one we got last year from a tree lot.  That was fantastic!

We also got the chance to go to my work Christmas party, Sam's work Christmas party, eat gingerbread and hazelnut frozen yogurt (ohmybestflavoursever), sing with llamas (Ialmostcried), finish finals, and have our last days of work on BYU campus.  We get to have a bit of an early Christmas tomorrow with the White fam, and then we get to head up to visit the Brooks side in Canada!

Not going to lie, I always cry when I cross the Canadian border.  I'm really excited to see the rest of my family. Those little kidlettes who look SO grown up in the pictures I've seen.  It's hard to believe that my nephew is now baptized, my oldest niece is so grown up, and my youngest niece doesn't even seem like a baby anymore!  It's also going to be so nice to take part in those family traditions that I grew up with in the same setting they've always had.  Christmas eve fondue, Christmas day gathering at Grandma Frache's, Boxing Day gathering with the Brooks fam, and everything in between.  

I could go on and on about nostalgic things and everything I'm looking forward to, but now I'm just getting weepy, so I'll just end for now and instead give a report on the goings-on once they happen.  I'll see you soon, homeland!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Carollamaing!

Sam used to be in the BYU Men's Chorus, and as such he still gets event update.  He sent me the information on a charity Christmas show they were putting on, and I all but demanded that we go!

The singing was fantastic:

But the event was certainly made MUCH more merry by the fact that I was holding a llama!
That's pure joy right there.
Wondering if I could acquire additional llamas.

Sam even gave in and let me take a picture.
A very merry llama filled Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Oh my lanta, this cheesecake was fantastic.  Sam is pretty picky about his cheesecake qualities and doesn't even enjoy desserts a whole lot most of the time, but he loved this one.  And I did too!  It had a really nice texture and taste to it.  In my own words when tasting it, "it's decadent, but not so rich that I feel like I'm going to die after eating two bites!" (*cough*cheesecakefactory*cough*).  Plus, everyone will be super impressed if you brought this baby to a Christmas party.  It would look fantastic with a whipped cream garnish around the edge and some chocolate shavings!


White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

  • 2 cups crushed oreos
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half cream
  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together cookie crumbs, 2 tablespoons sugar, and melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.
  2. In a saucepan, combine raspberries, 2 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch, and water. Bring to boil, and continue boiling 5 minutes, or until sauce is thick. Strain sauce through a mesh strainer to remove seeds. (OPTIONAL: Use 1 jar of raspberry jam instead of doing this process!)
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). In a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt white chocolate chips with half-and-half, stirring occasionally until smooth.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Blend in vanilla and melted white chocolate. Pour half of batter over crust. Spoon 3 tablespoons raspberry sauce over batter. Pour remaining cheesecake batter into pan, and again spoon 3 tablespoons raspberry sauce over the top. Swirl batter with the tip of a knife to create a marbled effect.
  5. Wrap the pan in aluminum foil to make it water-tight.  Place in another pan (such as a jelly roll pan).  Fill the bottom pan with water, being careful to not go over the foil around the cheesecake.  Bake for about 55 minutes, or until done.  (You will know it is done when you tap the side of the pan with a metal spoon, and the whole cheesecake jiggles "as one".  Do not overbake!  If it looks done in the oven, it will be overdone when it cools!)  Turn off the oven and let sit for an hour.  Place in fridge and let cool for at least 4 hours-- preferably overnight.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Turkey Tortilla Soup

This soup was super easy and really good!  It was perfect for using up some of our leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, but you could also just cook up your own chicken or turkey to use.  I added a bit more chili powder to make it spicier, but it was really good as is, too.  We ate it with a bit of sour cream, cheese, and tortilla chips. This one is definitely going into the regular rotation!


Turkey Tortilla Soup

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 (10.75oz) can condensed tomato soup
  • 1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 4 cups shredded cooked turkey
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 3 chicken bouillon cubes 
  • 1 (14oz) can black beans, rinsed, drained
  • 2 cups frozen corn
1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add minced onions and cook until onions begin to soften, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, and oregano and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
2. Stir in the water, tomato soup, diced tomatoes, salsa, turkey, parsley, and bouillon.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes or until bouillon dissolves.
3. Add black beans and corn.  Simmer 20-30 minutes
3.  Serve soup with sour cream, cheese, tortilla chips, chopped green onion, or other desired topping.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Vegetarian Noodle-less Lasagna

This lasagna was satisfyingly awesome.  You use zucchini and yellow squash sliced thinly lengthwise instead of pasta, fat free cottage cheese instead of ricotta, and delicious spinach instead of meat.  Even Sam, who is a big fan of classic lasagna, enjoyed it.  It's filling, delicious, and healthy.  I loved it and will definitely be making it again!

Squash Lasagna

  • 2 medium zucchinis
  • 2 medium yellow squashes
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 small carton of cottage cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded low fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1 package of frozen spinach (or 2 cups cooked)
Slice squashes very thin, lengthwise, using a very sharp knife (be careful, it's tricky!), vegetable peeler, or fancy-schmancy tool.  Cook very slightly in a frying pan to remove some of the moisture.  In a 9x9 dish, make a single layer of squash.  Cover with sauce, cottage cheese, shredded cheese, and spinach.  Make another layer running the other direction, continuing until you run out of squash.  On the top layer just put sauce and shredded cheese.  Bake at 350F for 1 hour, and then broil for a few minutes to brown the cheese on top.

Feel free to use whatever type of cheese you want, to add cooked ground beef, to add more or less of the ingredients to your layers (I had some leftovers of both cheeses!), or add other veggies!  The beautiful thing about lasagna is that you can do whatever the heck you want and it will probably still be good :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Overcoming and rising up


Most of you probably remember the Provo Tabernacle fire that occured about a year ago.  It was a very sad thing to see that beautiful building destroyed.  It paid a homage to the pioneers.   It hosted general conference a few times, back in the day.  It also held some personal significance.  Sam and I used to go sit on the grass in the park next to it and talk for hours.  We used to attend stake conference there.  It was where I first met his parents after a choir concert he was singing in.  It was just a very iconic building and the loss felt rather tragic.
reactions to the destruction from the fire
Recently I was talking to a friend about the purpose of weaknesses, trials, and heartache.  I feel like there are some challenges that we can see quite clearly how their will benefit us.  There are others that impact us so deeply and painfully that it makes it a lot harder to see the good in it.  My friend and I were trying to think of specific blessings that come through certain trials, but were struggling a bit.
I then though of the Provo Tabernacle.  How horrible and useless was it for fire to destroy tthat building?  What possible good could come from it?  Would they restore it?  Was it worth restoring?  What was the point?
rendering of the future temple
Last General Conference President Monson announced that the Provo Tabernacle would be rebuilt and restored as a temple. My initial reaction was excitement that our beautiful tabernacle would be put to such great use and not torn down!
Only just recently did it strike me how incredably significant it is that the tabernacle is going to be a temple.  The tabernacle was engufled with flames, and then left charred and of the verge of collapse.  How pointless and tragic it had seemed...  But from that tragedy came something amazing.  That damaged building will become a sacred, clean, holy temple-- dedicated to the Lord in the highest order.
How alike we are to the Provo Tabernacle.  We may endure the burning and pain, leaving us damaged and hurt-- on the verge of collapse.  It might seem pointless.  It might seem tragic and unfair.  But something great can come from our deepest weaknesses and heartache.  Something great will come if we rely on the Lord and let Him transform us into the great people we are meant to be.  Like the Provo Tabernacle, we have the chance to rise from the ashes of our own tragedies and rise to become something greater.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fresh Cranberry Orange Loaf

Up until last week, I had never tasted a fresh cranberry.  While I was at the grocery store I saw a big bag of them for pretty cheap, so I grabbed one and decided to try making something with them.  When I tasted one, I was expecting something sweet and tangy-- but it was so bitter!  I was surprised, but apparently that's just what fresh cranberries taste like.  I guess cranberry sauce just has a LOT of sugar in it ;)
I found a recipe for a cranberry orange loaf, and let me just say that it is FANTASTIC.  This is definitely going into the holiday baking rotation.  It's amazing.  If my ward would actually assign me some people to visiting teach, this is what I would take them.  For now I guess Sam and I will just have to work on eating large quantities on this beautiful thing.
Cranberry Orange Loaf

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 T grated orange zest
  • 1 1/2 c fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 c nuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 c margarine, softened
  • 1 c white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 c orange juice
    OPTIONAL GLAZE:
  • combine icing sugar and orange juice to form a syrupy consistency
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease and flour a 9x5'' loaf pan.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir in orange zest, cranberries, and nuts. Set aside.
  3. Cream together margarine, sugar, and egg until smooth.  Stir in orange juice.  Stir in flour mixture until just moistened.  Pour into pan.
  4. Bake 1 hour or until a knife comes out clean.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  (If desired, poke holes in the top, glaze and let sit another 5 minutes).  Remove to a wire rack and cool.
Tips:
I needed 2 large oranges to get the right amount of zest and juice.  To get more juice from your oranges, heat them up in the microwave for 10-20 seconds and then roll on the counter, applying enough pressure to soften it up.  Then cut in half and squeeze to juice it.
The glaze is delicious, but not necessary for it to be awesome :)
If you wait for it to cool completely it's quite easy to cut with a serrated knife.
Try making mini loaves to give as gifts!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cajun Baked Catfish

Normally we don't buy meat, but Smiths was having an awesome sale on fresh catfish, so I decided to buy some to try since I have never had it before.
One 5.7oz (159g) filet of catfish has 25g of protein.  It has healthy fats (including 4g of monounsaturated and 114mg of omega-3) and healthy nutrients like vitamin E, B-1, and B-3 (among others!).  It also has less mercury than other fishes. (source)

I got the recipe for this dish from allrecipes.com (one of my go-to recipe sites).  I liked that it was a fairly subtle taste so that you could still taste the catfish.  Sam didn't love it since he doesn't like the taste of fish, though, and probably would have preferred something stronger to mask the fishiness, haha.  This would work well with other fishes too, such as fresh tuna.



Cajun Baked Catfish
  • 1T canola oil
  • 1t garlic salt
  • 1t dried thyme
  • 1t paprika
  • 1/4t cayenne pepper
  • 1/4t hot pepper sauce
  • 1/8t pepper
  • 2 catfish fillets
Combine the first seven ingredients in a small bowl.  Brush over both sides of the fish. Spray a shallow baking dish with non-stick spray and place fish inside.  Bake at 450F for 10-13 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

We had ours with peas and coconut lime curry rice :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pumpkin Dessert

If you want to try a fantastic alternative to pumpkin pie, this is it.  I like it more than pumpkin pie.  It's easier than making pie crust.  It kind of rocks. By the way, Momma White has had great success with using a gluten-free cake mix to make it GF, and almond milk/less sugar/Smart Balance to make it a little lighter.


Pumpkin Dessert:

  • 28oz pumpkin
  • 160ml evaporated milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4tsp pumpkin pie spice (or combination of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 package of yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (almonds are my favourite. Pecans are awesome too)
Combine the first 6 ingredients then pour into a greased 9x13 pan.  Sprinkle the cake mix on top.  Evenly pour the melted butter on top.  Sprinkle with nuts.  Bake @350F for1 hour or until knife tests done/nuts are browned

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Parties of Halloween

Halloween really crept up on me this year!  All of the sudden it was only a few days away and we hadn't done anything "Halloweeny".
First we decided to throw an impromptu party.  Consequently, most people couldn't make it, but we were very glad for those who came!  I went a teeny bit overboard with the quantity of food, but it was mostly just for the fun of making it anyway.  A lot of it was pretty cheesy (not as in containing cheese).  It tasted good though!

My favourite pumpkin dessert.  It's better than pie!
Fruit salsa with homemade cinnamon chips
Caramel apple bites
Mummy dogs
Seven layer dip (with sour cream web and olive spiders :)
There was also a veggie platter with carrot organized to look like a jack-o-lantern, among other things.

On Saturday I paced the Halloween Half, which I already wrote a post about.  

On Monday I made cupcakes for a work meeting.  Sorry for the crappy webcam picture...   Unfortunately they got slightly destroyed during the transportation to campus so I couldn't get a better picture later when I found my camera :(    If you can't tell, the cake part is supposed to look like candy corn, and I used precious Halloween sprinkles on top.  I'd post the actual recipe I used, but they actually didn't taste very good.  They were very cute though! I'll probably just be lazy and make them with a cake mix next time.  


Monday night we went to the annual Halloween party that Mom and Dad White always have.  Sam and I came up with an extremely last minute costume:
Can you tell who we are?
We also watched a few movies-- The Exorcism of Emily Rose (decent movie, moreso just interesting imho), Hanna (very beautiful cinematography.  Seemed very European), and Devil (highly recommended).  

Now, time for Thanksgiving to creep up on me!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Taking a study break:

  • Was working with partner for presentation on teaching students with hearing impairments.  Suggested we use braille as a visual example of a way to make accommodations.  I am brilliant. 
  • Lady at work said "Hello, Michael" to me when I was slightly turned away.  Michael is a very male looking coworker.  I had my hair down (which goes down to the middle of my back) and was wearing a purple cardigan.  I don't know what to think.
  • Why do people push the pedestrian button right after I just pushed it? Do I just have this look that says I suck at pushing buttons? I got this, guys.  Trust me.
  • Picture of the day:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Race Pacers

For longer distance races, such as half or full marathons, there is someone called a pacer.  What they do is run the race in a set amount of time, so that if you have a specific race goal all you need to do is stick with them and you will cross the finish line at the right time.  Or if you wanted to break a certain time you just need to cross before them.  They're basically a fancy watch.
I have always thought that pacers are so cool.  They all have their matching pace shirts so you can pick them out of the crowd and carry a sign with the race time and pace on it for the whole race.  I always thought, "Oh man, I hope I'm legit enough one day to be a pacer!".  Well guess what, folks:  either I'm legit now, or pacers aren't as legit as I thought they were!

A runner friend of mine (who is truly legit.  He wins marathons. No big deal.) offered me the chance to pace the Halloween Half Marathon in Provo this past weekend.  My PR is a 1:45, and I would be pacing at an easy 2:20 (pacers run at a time quite slower than their current ability, just to be sure that they will make it and still have energy to encourage people :).  I was also put in charge of recruiting someone else to pace with me, so I got Poppa White on board!


I had a blast pacing!  There was actually a third lady pacing with us who has run a lot of races.  She had a very different method than I would use in the future, so I'm looking forward to trying out some new things. But it was a lot of fun talking to her and my dad-in-law about different running stories and race experiences! I am so grateful to have a  DIL who has all of this running knowledge and experience.  I have sure needed it as I have gotten more into racing!
I'm already signed up to do pacing for a half marathon in January, and there are several other halves in the works throughout 2012.  I also might even get to pace a full in the summer.

Anyway, I'm pretty excited!  The great thing about pacing is that you get to run the race for free, you can just have some fun, meet some people, and get more involved in the race community :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

White Chocolate Cranberry Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Man, that's a mouthful of a name!
The unique thing about these cookies is that they don't use flour!  Thus, gluten free, for those of you who are after that :)  Just make sure your oats don't contain trace amounts of wheat!  Last time I checked, Quaker does.  Bob's Red Mill is safe, though.  They're super tasty, and I loved the white chocolate/cranberry combination, but you could use any mix-ins.  The original recipe used m&ms, chocolate chips, and candy corn.  I can think of so many combinations that would be fantastic with these!



Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. white cugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. peanut butter
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 4 1/2 c. quick oats
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • Approx. 2 cups total of add-ins

Beat the eggs and sugars.  Add the salt, vanilla, butter, and PB and whip.  Add the oatmeal and baking soda. Gently stir in add-ins.  Form balls of approx. 1/4c and flatten slightly.  Bake at 350F for 12 minutes.
Do not overbake!  They will seem too soft at first, but they will firm up more as they sit.  Don't bother trying to remove to a wire rack for a few minutes!

**EDIT:
For the person asking about dairy and egg free, you could use something other than the chocolate chips (nuts, coconut, etc) and a margarine/veggie spread fat, and for the eggs, here are a few different options:

  • 1 egg = 2 Tbsp. water + 1 Tbsp. oil + 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg = 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed simmered in 3 Tbsp. water
  • Ener-G egg replacer (you can buy it at most natural food stores and some grocery stores)
  • 1 egg=1/4 c applesauce
I haven't tested any of those substitutions with this recipe, so I'm not sure if it would change the taste/result, but you could try it!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dresses!

I'm in the market for dresses.  Most of mine don't fit anymore, so I think that's a good excuse to shop ;) I have my eye on a few different ones, and Shabby Apple is currently doing a $10 gift card giveaway (if you have a blog, check out their facebook page to participate!) so I figured I would take them up on that by showing you guys a few that I'm interested in ;)

This one, Washington Square Park, has been around for a long time in the history of Shabby Apple, and I have always loved it.  I love the fuller skirt and the cinched waist with the interesting gathers.  The colour also looks fantastic.  













This next dress is called After Class.  I love the neckline and the details, and the colour is fun.  There is also a mustard yellow version though, so I'm torn between the two!














This next dress is called Bookworm.  The bow is adorable, it's wool herringbone, and it's lined.  Kind of awesome. There is also a checked brown version.














Well, those are three of my dress/love interests!  There are like 9 others on my pinterest that I also love, though!  How's a girl supposed to pick just one!?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Oh dear...

I started writing about someone who was being all passive aggressive about something I posted, but then I realized that I was being passive aggressive by writing about it, so I won't.  Is it passive aggressive to even mention it?  WELL I'M TALKIN' TO YOU!
I thought I left high school like 4 years ago.

Uhh.... Anyway.... It's taking longer than we wanted to get everything all organized and moved into our new place.  We've had midterms, illness, and have been generally busy all month.  Today I was planning on getting a ton done, but then we accidentally slept in, went to the temple, and then had lunch.  Then I wanted to get to the store before the football game got out and the roads became unbearable, but the fabric/craft store was insane.  The Saturday a week before Halloween is the worst time to go.  Saturdays are usually bad in general, but the wait to get fabric cut was over an hour and a half.  I wish I took a picture of the huge crowd at the cut counter.  I'm so glad that they do a ticket/number system so that I could at least go look at some other things while I waited.  It prevents riots from breaking out between soccer moms.  People sure get catty at craft stores.  MAKING CENTERPIECES IS SERIOUS BUSINESS.
Anyway (again)... After I finally got home I hustled off to the gym, got home, showered, and now it's night all of the sudden.  Forget actually unpacking!  Maybe if we wait long enough we can just still have a bunch of stuff in boxes for the next time we move.

Deep Dish Skillet Cookie

I think that the secret to a maintaining a healthy diet is just that:  making it something you can maintain.  It doesn't work to go on constant juice cleanses and decide to never eat pie again if your favourite thing is pie.  You'll make these huge changes, stick to it for a bit, and then it all falls apart.  That just makes for a feeling of failure and disappointment.  My philosophy is eat healthy, but allow the occasional treat.  If you know that you still get to have that thing you really enjoy now and then, you aren't tempted to totally crash and burn with your whole healthy eating  plan because you think you'll never get to have it again.
Anyway... On to the main point.  There is a time and place for crazy dessert, and that night was tonight.  I was really wanting to try this recipe that I found on pinterest, so I did :)  It's called a skillet cookie, and oh man, it was a beast of a fabulous thing.
Oh yeah.

That's one big cookie.
So it begins.
In case you were wondering, Graham Canyon ice cream from the BYU creamery is the BEST ice cream flavour in existence.  For reals.  (the best sherbet is lime, and the best frozen yogurt is pistachio. FYI).

No regrets.
Seriously, this thing was the bomb.  You also only need to wash the skillet, spoon, and whatever measuring cups you used.  Seriously, it's way better than individual choc.chip.cookies, in my opinion.  Go check it out!  I'll just link to the original, since I made absolutely no changes besides doing half white chocolate and half milk chips.  I'm tempted to try doing an oatmeal/raisin/coconut version, though!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Cornbread

This little guy is an adaptation from Sugar Cooking.  It has a really subtle pumpkin taste, and is very filling!  I used whole wheat flour, I added wheat bran, and used apple sauce instead of oil.  I also used 3 egg whites instead of 2 whole eggs.  
I had to leave before it was done baking so I got Sam to take it out.  While I was at my meeting, I got a text from him: "Wow, this pumpkin stuff is a keeper".  I got home and tried it with some honey, and it is definitely a keeper!  I would love to try this with a squash-type soup, but unfortunately it was gone before I got the chance! I guess I'll need to make more ;)

Pumpkin Cornbread:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbps wheat bran
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 c applesauce
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 1 Tbsp honey
Preheat oven to 400F and grease an 8x8 baking dish.  In a medium bowl combine the flour, bran, baking powder, salt, spices, sugar, and cornmeal.  In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and stir in pumpkin, applesauce, milk, and honey. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until just combine.  Pour batter into pan and smooth out as well as you can.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a fork tests clean.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Healthified Corn Chowder

I love soup, but especially cream based soup.  Unfortunately my slight lactose intolerance and general health do  not appreciate frequent indulgences.  The other day I found a recipe for corn chowder, and it saddened my heart to see the LARGE amount of butter, flour, and cream in it.  Then I remembered the leek soup that I made a while ago and how it was quite cream-like while using a cauliflower puree.  Thus, I decided to combine various ideas and come up with my own corn chowder recipe.  Tadaaaa!

Healthified Corn Chowder

  • 3 cups cauliflower
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 medium potato, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
Place cauliflower and liquid from the corn in a microwave safe dish and cover with saran wrap.  Cook for about 9 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender.  Carefully transfer cauliflower and liquid to a blender.  Add about 1/4 cup of corn.  Puree until smooth.  Transfer puree to a medium saucepan.  Add broth, garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and gradually whisk in 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour. Return to a simmer.  Add remaining ingredients.  Cook for about 15-18 minutes or until vegetables are tender. 


Notes:
You can garnish with basil or more thyme or serve with garlic toast!

You can use corn starch instead of flour if you're going for GF.  It's just for thickening :)


And here is my crappy picture =D

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Banana Poppyseed Muffins


These muffins are special because there is no egg, no dairy, and you use avocado as the fat.  They’re also tasty!  They’re kind of the bomb!  I’m also pretty proud of myself because I came up with the recipe from scratch ;) 
Banana Poppyseed Muffins
1/4 cup mashed avocado
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup stevia
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 tsp wheat bran
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 ripe banana, mashed
2 T poppy seeds
Cream together the avocado, lemon juice, stevia, and honey.  Add flours, wheat bran, baking soda, and salt and stir until just combined.  Stir in banana and poppy seeds.  Bake at 325 until center tests done (about 20 minutes).
Keep in mind that avocados in baking will cause more browning, so the outside might look done while the inside isn’t.  Just test one after 20 minutes and wait longer if you need to!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Breakfast Quinoa

here
This is another recipe that I found on pinterest. We tried it out tonight, and I was very impressed!  Sam loved it too!  It tastes very creamy, it's quite filling, <350cal (without adding agave, which it really didn't need), and it's very healthy!  The original recipe called for pecans, but I switched it for slivered almonds.  It also had both regular and red quinoa, but we only had regular and that worked great :)  Give it a try! (Picture/original recipe found here)

Breakfast Quinoa
1 cup quinoa
1 cup skim milk (almond, coconut, whatever)
1 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups berries
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 Tbsp coconut
Agave or honey, if desired
Combine quinoa, milk, water, and salt in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover.  Let cook 15 minutes, stirring often.  Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes.  Stir in cinnamon.  Top with fruit, almonds, coconut, and agave.   
(We actually had it for dessert, it’s that good!)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bountiful Basket!



Bountiful Basket is fan-flippin-tastic.  It's like a co-op order that you place with people in your community for a bunch of local, seasonal fruit and veggies.  All of this was $15!  I ordered this one a few weeks ago. Yesterday we got an order, and it was bananas, plums, apples, pears, grapes, avocados, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers-- in even greater quantities than the above things.  You can also order organic, bread, "theme" baskets (Italian, Mexican, etc), pumpkins/gourds, tortillas... Kind of the bomb.  Anyway, if you live in the states, they do it all over the country.  Especially with winter coming it can really save you money on produce: the best tasting produce I've ever had.
I'm going to use the cauliflower to make a base for a healthy chowder or cream soup.  Stay tuned! If it's a success, I'll post the recipe ;)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

What the heck are teenagers watching these days...

I'm taking quite a few Secondary Education classes right now.  One of my teachers suggested that we watch a few shows that our students are interested in just to see what is going on, what they are identifying with, the messages they are receiving, etc.  Well, I've watched several "Secret Life of the American Teenager" episodes, and it basically just makes me want to punch somebody in the face.  Oh. My. Gosh.  There are four seasons and I'm barely in the first, so maybe it changes but as of right now, I just don't get it.  I enjoy some less mature shows, but this is ridiculous.  What writers and producers think that this is appropriate material for a middle schooler?  Who picked these horrible actors?  Why is the scandalous sex addict and the emotional little sister the only ones with with any common sense whatsoever (including adults)?  I must say, I do enjoy the guidance counselor because he is willing to tell the 15 year olds who are trying to get married that they're being idiots, because that's what I feel like saying about to the characters, but it's still not the best way to respond in an authority position over young teens.
I looked up the rating and it got 5/10 stars.  I looked at the rating breakdown, and as I suspected, it's mostly people giving it either 10's (OH EM GEE BEST SHOW EVER!) or 1's (What the crap is going on?).
Summary of how I feel about this show:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Big ol' bag of taters!

So this one time, Sam and I went to Buy-Low and they had a 10lb bag of potatoes for $1!  How could we pass that up?  
  I already made mashed potatoes (just potatoes+skim milk+peas+corn, so not that interesting), and Sam made delish stir-fried style (but that was a little of this, little of that method).  I already posted gnocchi, but be prepared for more potato recipes coming your way!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gnocchi

Yeah, I'm a pro food photographer. Hello there, webcam.

I love gnocchi.  If you've never had it, you're seriously missing out.  It is a dense potato dumping from Italy, and there are a ton of variations of what to put in it.  I haven't had it in ages because it's so darn expensive at the store!  Then I said to myself, "DUH! Make it yourself!".  Little did I know that it is also CRAZY easy.  Seriously.  The plain recipe has 3 ingredients. No kidding.

Basic Gnocchi Recipe:
  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 egeg
Cook the potatoes, either by boiling or microwave.  Mash in a bowl and let cool slightly. Stir in most of the flour and egg. The dough may seem quite dry at this point, but just try squeezing it together with your hands until it makes a firm, dense dough.  Add additional flour if necessary.  Heat a large pot of water to a boil.  While the water heats up, form your gnocchi.  Roll a portion of dough into a snake about 1.5'' thick.  Cut into bite size piece and roll into an oblong shape.  Once water is at a rolling boil, insert gnocchi and stir immediately to prevent sticking. Stir every few minutes, cooking until the gnocchi floats to the top. Cover with your favourite pasta sauce!

These little guys are filling.  I would say that this recipe could feed 3-4 people easily.  

Now, these obviously aren't the healthiest in this form.  But hey, this was my first shot and I was going for something basic.  Next shot, I'm going to try it with wheat flour and chopped spinach. And I really want to try doing it with sweet potatoes... How awesome would that be?  Other variations include adding ricotta, ground meat, fun Italian spices... Good stuff.
You can also use gnocchi in soups (like at Olive Garden), casseroles, etc. 

Moving ^

Sam and I had been in our little 1 bedroom, 0.25 kitchen for over a year. The place was close to campus, very inexpensive, and not a grungy basement, and all around a good starter apartment.  Then one week we lost a blender, measuring cup, all of our glasses except for 2 because there wasn't even enough space to fit out kitchen stuff (let alone do anything in there).  If you know me, I spend a lot of time working on things in the kitchen.  I spent a year with an oven that didn't fit my pans, a range that usually didn't start, a fridge shorter than me, and about enough counter space for a toaster.  We decided that we had lived out our newlywed-starter-place, and decided to upgrade.  Within, oh, a week, we had found a new, fantastic place.  We sold our other contract in a couple of hours (to an engaged couple also looking to start out :)  Thanks to the help of family and friends (thank you guys SO MUCH) we got everything moved and cleaned in one afternoon.  Now we are in our new place, and holy smokes, it is the bomb.  Unfortunately we are still very in the process of organizing everything, but I'll give you guys a tour once it's all settled ;)  I didn't even know that places this nice existed near BYU.  The first time I walked in to check it out I literally gasped.  I had better stop bragging until I can prove it, though, so until then, here's a youtube video (better muted, imo):
(Why won't apartments let us have a dog? This one is cleaner than kids ;)

Monday, October 3, 2011

St. George Marathon recap


Overall, running my first marathon was a great experience.  I made some big mistakes that likely cost me a lot of time, but I learned a ton from this race.  I'm really looking forward to my next marathon and hopefully seeing some improvement :)


We stayed in Cedar City the night before.  Sam, poppa White, and I got up around 3:30am and Sam drove us down to the buses.  We loaded up, and rode up to the middle-of-nowhere starting line.  I was so impressed with the organization and thought that was obviously put into this race. Even with all 7400 runners, things we run very smoothly and they didn't run out of anything, there were plenty of bathrooms, etc.  The only thing I didn't like was how cheerful the announcer was when he told us that it was going to be "unseasonably hot today, with some headwinds!" ;)


Doesn't it look like fun?
After waiting in line for the bathroom, I made it in the nick of time to line up with the 3:45 pace group.  My plan was the stick with them for a while, then drop back to the 4:00 if I needed to.  For the first 7 miles I was ahead of them and just going along pretty steadily.  At Veyo hill- the steepest incline of the race-  I slowed down but kept a steady pace.  A bit after the hill the 3:45 group caught up with me, and I stuck with them for the next 2 miles of incline.  Around mile 12 I had to stop for the bathroom, but could still see them ahead of me on the course when I came out.  I had planned on steadily catching up to them, and was doing well at getting gradually closer for the next mile or so.  Then I realized that at some point I had accidentally stopped my GPS watch. Very bad news.  This made it much more difficult to figure out my average pace, when the next aid station would be, and how I was doing.  I was able to kind of mentally calculate what it should be, but then I accidentally stopped my watch again at mile 16, and again later on.  There was no hope of redemption, and it really made it hard for me to pace myself properly.
I carried on pretty steadily until mile 18, when my quads started cramping from a particularly steep downhill.  At the next aid station I got a volunteer to hook my up with some Icy Hot which helped a lot.  I got a second wind from then until mile 23, which is when things really got difficult.

At this point we had reached the city, and there were a ton of people lined up in the street for the rest of the race.  They even had school bands playing.  For some this probably would have been really helpful and encouraging, but it actually made it harder for me.  I have my music playlist all with a specific BPM, so I run in cadence in order to maintain my pace.  With all of the noise I couldn't hear it anymore, and after running 23+ miles, that was not so good.  My calves started getting charley horses, my quads began to seize up more severely, and even my forearms started to cramp.  Then the 4:00 pacer caught up with me.  I realized that this was not a good thing at this point:  since I had crossed the start line before him, there was no way I was going to get far enough ahead to actually break the 4:00 time.  We were also at mile 25.2 around this point.  After running that far and being in that much pain, "only" needing to run 1 more mile was a horrible feeling.

Finishing strong.
I've mentioned before that I get all philosophical and emotional during runs (especially races) sometimes.  At this point I had to make a decision.  I wasn't going to make my goal time.  I could have said "nuts to this!" and just walked the rest of the way since I wasn't going to get what I had wanted anyway.  Or I could keep pushing with everything I had left and finished strong, regardless of time.  I'm proud to say that I gave it all I could.  With some help (yelling) from the pacer, I made it my new goal to just beat him to the finish line.

Right after finishing.  I don't remember
this picture being taken!
When the balloon arches of the finish line came into sight, I ran my very, very fastest that I could in that moment.  I don't know how fast it really was, but I know that I did all that I could.  As soon as I crossed the finish line and they started herding us into the runners' area, I pretty much wandered aimlessly through the crowd trying to find my family and hoping that I wouldn't collapse somewhere that they would't be able to find me.

My official time was 4:01:46

The good ol' race motto
There is something significant and meaningful to me about "missing the mark" by that small margin.  In my nature it would be extremely easy to feel regret about the mistakes I made that caused me delays.  I could be extremely dissatisfied and write off the entire race over that 1:46.  I made mistakes with food, fluids, pacing, my watch, and so many other things.  But the fact that I am trying (and mostly succeeding) at being satisfied with how I did-- and what I did-- is actually quite outstanding.  But it's less than two minutes.  Over 26.22 miles. That's kind of a big deal that I just did that.  Plus, for being my first marathon, there is definitely a learning curve.  I learned a lot and will be able to take what I learned and use it for my next marathon (in June!).



Friday, September 23, 2011

Salt and Vinegar Roasted Chickpeas

Such a yummy snack, full of fiber and protein!  Better for you than S&V chips ;)


Salt and Vinegar Roasted Chickpeas
Recipe from “Oh She Glows
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 2(ish) cups white vinegar
  • sea salt
  • Non-stick spray (canola or olive oil)
Rinse chickpeas, then place in a pot and add enough vinegar to submerge well.  Add about 1t of sea salt.  Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.  Let sit for 30 minutes.  Heat oven to 425F.  Drain chickpeas, then place in a tinfoil lined baking dish.  Give them a quick spray with the oil, then sprinkle more sea salt all over, stirring to cover well.  Bake for 45 minutes, making sure to watch carefully after the 35 minute mark (they can burn quickly!).  Roast until browned and crunchy.  

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ranch Cream Cheese Veggie “Pizza”


Ranch Cream Cheese Veggie “Pizza”
(courtesy of Pillsbury :)
makes 4 servings, 325 calories/serving
  • 1 can reduced fat crescent rolls
  • 4oz (1/2 a block) fat free cream cheese
  • 1/2c low fat sour cream
  • 1/2 pkg ranch dressing mix
  • Chopped veggies (cucumber, broccoli, peppers, carrots...)
Preheat oven to 375F.  Unroll dough and separate into 4 rectangle.  Place on greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let cool.
Combine cream cheese, sour cream, and ranch mix.  Spread on cooled dough.  Place chopped veggies on top and enjoy!