Monday, December 31, 2012

A Time to Reflect

   Hi Friends!

   I'm sorry about the silence around here... 'tis the season' and all that.  I hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas if you celebrate, and if you don't, I hope you enjoyed the time off and spent it with your loved ones.  So far, my holidays have been fabulous and they're not even close to being over.  My parents are coming in to town today so that we can all be together for New Years and our Christmas on the 7th.  I'm super excited about that, even though they will be missing the New Years Eve celebrations because their morning flight was delayed until the evening.  Gotta love snow storms!

   As always around this time of year, I take a moment (or several) to reflect about what's happened this year and what I've learned.  I think it's important for me (and everyone, really) to take that time and slow down and look back on the year's events.
   What happened?  What didn't happen?  Where did you go?  What did you learn?  What mattered?  What didn't matter?  What did you accomplish and what do you still want to accomplish?

   This is also a time where I like to set goals for the year ahead.  I'm not a "resolution" kinda gal, but I do like to have a vision of what I want to accomplish.  I'm pretty happy with everything I've done this year, but to be honest, 2012 was a pretty mediocre year for me.  What's funny is that I've noticed a lot of my friends saying the same thing.  I wonder why that is?  I'm not really sure, but what I do know is 2013 is going to be a great year.  If for no other reason than it having my lucky number '13'... I can feel it. 

Cheers to a Happy New Years!

Ves xx

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

WIAW #23 OR Sweet Tooth Satisfaction

   Hello All!

   I don't know about you but, everyone around me has been super germy lately!  It was inevitable that I should catch whatever was going around (I work with children, after all).  I was attacked on Saturday with major body aches and since then I've been OD'ing on Oil of Oregano.  I forgot to take it the other day and I definitely think that's why I got worse.  I quadrupled my dose today and I can already feel myself getting healthy as I type this.  Ha! 

   Since I've been sick, my food has been a bit boring.  I haven't really had an appetite and when I do want something to eat, it's been the same thing:  soup.  orange juice.  toast.  That's pretty much all I've been craving.

   So, instead of What I Ate... I thought I would show you What I've Been Baking up this month.  Let's face it, baked goods are always more fun to look at than day to day meals.  That could just be my opinion but, I really do love dessert... WAY more than "regular" food.

Mmmm.... Cookies!
Cranberry Shortbread Cookies and Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles

Lemon Pistachio Cookies and my little Patchie Girl!

Chewy Fruit 'N' Nut Cookies

Spice Cake Cookies

Magical Coconut Bars
Stay tuned because I will be posting recipes for some of these cookies!

Until next time...
Happy Hump Day and stay healthy my friends!

Ves xx

Monday, December 17, 2012

Apple Buttah Jeans...

Ha!  Sorry.  Anytime I say Apple Butter out loud or in my head, I immediately start singing,"Apple bottom jeans... boots with the furrrr..."!  Anyone else?  No.  Just me?  Okay.... Well, I bet you're singing it now!  Ha.
As promised, I want to share my super simple and super yummy method for making Apple Butter.  I'm sure if you Google it you will get tons of different ideas (man I love Google) but this is my no-fuss way.  In the future, I would like to try making it using a Slow Cooker.  I don't have one right now, but the idea of "setting it and forgetting it" is very appealing to me.  

Without further ado, here is the recipe:

Start out by making applesauce (click here for the full recipe)

Add your chopped apples to a pot with a bit of water.
You can leave the peel on because that's where all the nutrients are... 
plus we'll make sure to smooth it out later!

After about 20 minutes or so mash up your apples.

Add the mashed apples to your blender.  You may want to do this in a couple of batches depending on the kind of blender you have.  Process until it's smooth - about a couple minutes.

At this point you will have super smooth applesauce.  Add this back to your pot, turn the heat down to med-low or low and let it simmer for about an hour or so.  Make sure to stir it constantly so it doesn't burn or stick to the bottom of the pot.

The apple butter is done when it's reached your desired thickness.

I don't know about you, but I always add too much water to my apples when I'm making applesauce.  I don't see this as a bad thing, though.  This liquid is super delicious - it's a mixture of water, cinnamon and the juice from the apples.  I save this and use it the next day as the liquid in my smoothie or to cook up some oats.  I love it!

In this batch of Apple Butter I used:
5lbs of apples (a mixture of Fuji and Gala)
3/4 cup of water
1-2 tsps of cinnamon
 (This made about 2 cups of Apple Butter)

I don't use sugar in my apple sauce or my apple butter and I think it tastes WAY better than store bought.  I actually never really ate the store bought varieties of either but ever since I've tried the homemade versions I find myself making them at least twice a month.  I love using applesauce in my baked goods or adding it to my smoothies but, once in a while I just like to eat it straight from the jar!  Ha.

Let me know if you guys make this!

Happy Monday!

Ves xx

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

WIAW #22 and Some Perspective

   Hi Friends!

   I hope you're all having a wonderful week.  It's been kinda strange over here at the L&L headquarters, aka: my apartment.  I've been busy baking away and will definitely be posting some recipes very soon!  I don't know about you, but this is my absolute favorite time of year to bake.  And I bake all the time, so that's saying a lot.  There is just a certain feeling that goes along with baking around the Holidays.  My heart just feels a little bit more full this time of year knowing that I'll be sharing these yummy treats with everyone that I love.

   So why has it been strange?  Well, I'm glad you asked (ha).  I found myself without heat and hot water on Monday evening.  It turns out it was just my hot water tank malfunctioning, but it was kinda stressful not knowing what was happening and if I would get any heat back that night.  I called my parents and other family members to ask what I should do (since I've never been in that kind of situation before), and while they were very helpful (thanks mom and pop!) I found that the more everyone was worried about me, the more I felt like a big suck.  Everyone I spoke to wanted to make sure that I wasn't going to spend the night without heat.  I tried to reassure them that if that was the case, then I was more than prepared with plenty of blankets.  But, at the same time, I couldn't help but think about the other people around the city who might be spending the night without heat.  How lucky am I that: 1. It was just a malfunction that was fixed by the gas company that evening.  2. I live in an apartment with plenty of linens, blankets, clothes, etc. to keep me warm.  And 3. I have family and friends all around me that will offer me a place to stay without batting an eyelash.  There are other people living in this city who are not as fortunate and I just want to make sure that I am not taking anything I have for granted.  I don't really have a moral to this story, I just wanted to share what happened and how it affected me.  I didn't really see my reaction coming but it must be because the weather is getting colder and my mind has been on those less fortunate who are spending their nights in less than cozy warm spaces.

So, what about the food?

  Needless to say, I haven't been taking too many food pictures lately.  However, I had a really yummy meal at my sister's house on Sunday that I wanted to share with you.  We made supper together which was really fun and this is what we ended up with:

{Mashed sweet potatoes, edamame, Brussels Sprouts, tomatoes, pepperoncini's, olives, and vegetarian chicken.}
   We rounded out the meal with some white wine and a Christmas movie.  Perfecton!

My latest obsession...

{Sweet and Salty Popcorn}

   I can't get enough of this stuff!  I literally ate half the bag tonight standing at the sink.  Man I hate when that happens.  Ha.  But I can't help it. I love the perfect combination of salty and sweet.  It's like they read my mind when they created this delicious snack!

   Well, that's my contribution to this weeks WIAW.  Thanks, as always, to Jenn over at Peas and Crayons for hosting this foodie party. 

   Stay tuned for some holiday recipes that I'll be sharing with you soon!

Til next time....
Ves xx

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

WIAW #21 It's All About the Leftovers!

Hi Friends!

It seems as though I've been on a leftover kick lately.  I've been doing a bit of entertaining and as always, I make too much food.  But then, it also means that I don't have to cook for a day or two!  I love those days.  I don't have a microwave either, so I get a little creative when it's time to reheat my dinner.

Check out my scrumptious meals and leftovers....

Breakfast:  Coffee!  Toast with Peanut Butter and leftover homemade Apple Butter, and a glass of almond milk.  (I am totally going to have to write a post about my homemade apple butter.  It is so freaking good and so easy to make!  Way better than store bought, IMO.)
Lunch/Snacks:  Grilled Cheese and Apple on Cinnamon Raisin Bread with dijon mustard.  YUM!  Sweet & Salty Popcorn - I can't get enough of it!
Dinners:  the LAST bit of leftovers from Thanksgiving; the spread that I made for a girls night at my house + wine because you can't have girls night without it! Ha.; a quick meal of sausages, tomatoes, peppers, and leftover baguettes; Vegan Sheppard's Pie - made by my sister; sheppard's pie leftovers with some sauteed kale;

   What have you guys been eating lately?  I hope you're staying on track with your healthy eating!  I just realised that I haven't had a green smoothie in a while.  Yikes!  But, that's one of the reasons why I love doing these posts - I get to keep track and see what my eating habits have been like.
Until next time have a great day and stay tuned for some holiday recipes coming soon!

Ves xx

Monday, December 03, 2012

You Mean I'm Not From the South?

   Hi Friends!

   A couple of weeks ago, when I was gearing up for Thanksgiving, I got a huge craving for Mac 'n' Cheese.  I blame it on Carla Hall and all the other Southern Chef's on Food TV.  It seems as though Mac 'n' Cheese is a staple on Thanksgiving tables in the South.  Well, it turns out that I'm not from the South but, that didn't stop me from getting a craving for some cheesy macaroni!

   I took this as a sign that it was time to taste test one of those Vegan boxed mac 'n' cheese that I see at the store.  I have never had one before so I have nothing to compare it to but, I have made Vegan mac 'n' cheese from scratch twice.

This is the brand that I tried:

First, I made it according to the package instructions...
And then I tasted it... Yum!

After that, I decided that I wanted a Baked Mac version.
So, I put the Mac 'n' Cheese into two small casserole dishes, added a tiny bit of Daiya Havarti, crumbled some Bean Chips on top, and put it in the oven.  
Much better!

   All in all, I enjoyed this version of Vegan mac 'n' cheese.  I don't think it tastes anything like I remember Kraft Dinner tasting, but the flavor does resemble my versions of vegan Mac from scratch.  So if you don't have time, or a recipe, I would recommend this if you're craving some cheesy macaroni.
   Oh, by the way, I do think that it's yummy enough to serve to non-veg people!

Happy Monday!
   Have you ever tried boxed Vegan Mac 'n' Cheese?  
What brands do you like?
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