Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lemon Pistachio Cookies + Crazy Weather

   Hi Friends!

   I hope everyone enjoyed the lovely spring day we had yesterday.  Or as I like to call it, my California winter day.  We reached an insanely out of season temperature of 15C here in Hamilton.  I wore my spring coat but wrapped a scarf around my neck because I didn't believe the weather people on TV.  I promptly removed my scarf as soon as I got outside.  How is it possible that it was 15 degrees yesterday with rain, and Monday my school was closed due to a snow/ice day?  I officially live in crazy town.

   In honor of the spring weather, I thought I would finally share this fabulous cookie recipe with you.  I got this recipe from my mom who made it for her baked goods stall at the farmer's market in her town.  The original recipe calls for oranges but the organic oranges at my local store looked really sad around the time that I wanted to make these cookies so I subbed in lemons.  At some point I will have to try this recipe using oranges, but for now, I absolutely love it with lemons.  I am offering this up as a "springy" type recipe because lemon's remind me of springtime (even though I consume them all year long).  Plus, I promised to share this recipe around the holidays, which is when I made these cookies, so I figure it's about time.

On to the recipe...

Icebox Lemon Pistachio Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen

3/4 cup Earth Balance Coconut spread
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp. Chia seeds + 3tbsp water
1 tbsp. lemon rind
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 cup arrowroot
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup finely chopped pistachios (I took a ziplock bag, put the nuts in there and then pounded them with my rolling pin.)

Whisk together chia seeds and water in a small bowl.  Place the bowl in the fridge for at least 15 min. 
Cream the butter and sugar for 2 minutes, then beat in the chia mixture, lemon rind, and vanilla. 
Whisk together flour, arrowroot and salt and add to the butter mixture and blend on low speed until combined. 
Divide dough in half and roll each piece into a log about an inch in diameter and roll the logs into the pistachios to coat.  Wrap in plastic and put in freezer for a few hours.

Preheat oven to 350.  Slice each log into cookie rounds and bake for 10 minutes.  They should remain light colored on top but a little golden on the bottom.

For Frosting:  2-1/4 cups icing sugar, 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1 tsp melted coconut oil or Earth Balance butter.  Blend together and ice the cookies when they've cooled.  Decorate with a little chopped pistachios.

I didn't really change the recipe except for making it vegan.  So thank you, mom, for sharing it with me so that I can share it with everyone else!

Ves xx

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WIAW #24 - It's Been a While!

   Hi Friends!

   It feels like forever since I've done a WIAW post.  Not surprising since I've neglected my blog for pretty much the entire month of January.  In my defense, January was a busy month around here.  New Year, Christmas, my baby niece's Christening, my parents were in town from Nova Scotia and I may or may not have had a few Vampire Diaries marathons thrown in the mix.  I think the neglect was a tiny bit justified, don't you?  No?  Okay, sorry.

  Here's my eats for the day:

{Breakfast} lemon water; oatmeal with bananas, flax and nut butter; COFFEE; {Lunch} salad with spinach, avocado, roasted red peppers, nutritional yeast and salsa; {Snack} green smoothie with spirulina, bananas, spinach, blueberries and hemp protein powder; {Dinner} a giant bowl of my Root Veggie Soup from last night plus another salad (not pictured); {Drinks} lots and lots of water; coffee; and more water; {Music} I've had Tegan and Sara's new album Heartthrob playing on my iPod all day.  I love it!  Sample it here.

   I've been trying to eat really well lately because I feel like I have indulged in so much scrumptious food during the holidays.   It's time to get back to simple, clean eating again and it definitely feels really good.

How have you been eating lately?  Click the link above and ogle the yummy WIAW food pics over at Peas and Crayons.   And thanks to Jenn for hosting this link up party.

Happy Hump Day!

Ves xx

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Slow Cooker Kinda Day

   Hi Friends!

   Yesterday I woke up to the best text ever from my coworker:

   I love my job, but I love unexpected days off even more!  That's one of the perks of being a teacher, you still get to feel like a kid when schools close due to the weather.  We didn't get a whole bunch of snow but we did get some freezing rain which resulted in bus cancellations and some school closures.  I'm so glad that mine was one of them.  I was not looking forward to my drive in to work if I had to deal with slippery roads.

   I spent a good chunk of my morning trying to go back to sleep, giving up, and then cuddling with my Patchie girl while having a FaceTime session with my Godson.

Patchie's idea of cuddling: staring me down until I get out of bed and feed her.

   Whenever I have a "free" day off I always face the dilemma of what to do.  Do I treat it like an extra day where I get to do whatever I want or do I use this day to catch up on everything I didn't do during the weekend?
   Because truth be told I did nothing this weekend except for maybe this:
Girl Time!

   My sister was watching her friend's daughter this weekend so I went over to her apartment and we had some good old fashioned girly fun.  We watched movies (Parent Trap: the Original), ate junk food (chips and salsa), and did our hair and nails.  Actually, I did our hair, and the little one's nails.  She returned the favor by playing with my hair, too.  Did I mention that I've secretly adopted her as my little sister?  She is too cute.

   Anyway, I decided that I would do a bit of both: a tiny bit of chores, followed by whatever else I felt like doing including: not getting out of my pajamas, reading magazines, taking a bath, and watching a movie (Elizabethtown <-- I'm probably the only person who loves that movie.).  I also felt like cooking.  It was a soup kind of day so that's what I made.  But, I wanted my whole apartment to smell like soup so I turned on the slow cooker and threw all the veggies in there.  Mission accomplished:  my whole apartment smelled amazing.  I love using my slow cooker but I think I'm one of those people that should only use it when I'll be out for the day.  I must have checked on it a thousand times before it was done.  Don't worry, I didn't remove the lid.  <--- I had to add that because it's something that I would probably do and I know my mom would ask me after reading this.  Ha.  You know the saying "good things come to those who wait?"  I don't think I got the memo.  When I was little I used to sit in front of the oven waiting for cookies to finish baking.  That is, until my mom would tell me to get up off the floor.  But that's another therapy session story.
Read on for my recipe:

Root Vegetable Soup - Slow Cooker Style
Makes 6 servings
It's party time!

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup carrots, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
2 cups parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp herbamare (or sea salt)
1/4 tsp each: dried oregano, thyme, and rosemary
cracked black pepper to taste
2 cups kale, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped

Place the oil, carrots, onion, and celery in a 4-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on high to soften slightly while you prep the remaining ingredients.
Add the rest of the ingredients, (except for the kale and tomatoes) and stir.  Cover and cook on high for 4 hours until the veggies are tender.  Carefully stir in the kale and tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes.  Turn off slow cooker and serve.  Enjoy!

*By the way, next time I would cook this soup on low for longer but like I said above, I'm not really good at waiting!

Til next time...

Ves xx

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Little Inspiration + A Twisted Recipe

   Hi Friends!

   Confession:  January has been my worst.blogging.month.EVER.  Now that that's out of the way let's get on to the good stuff.

   All month long I've been seeing this UnderArmour commercial on TV that totally "speaks" to me.  Has that ever happened to you?  You see something on TV or read something and it makes a huge impact on you or inspires you to make changes.  Well, that's exactly what happened to me.

   Before I go any further, here's the commercial:

   Tell me that didn't just inspire you to get up and move?  Yeah, me too.  I've been really slacking lately in the fitness department and this clip gives me so much motivation.  Truth be told, I'm not a huge fan of working out "hard".  I like cardio, especially when I'm listening to good loud music like this, but when it comes to strength training, ugh... so not a fan.  BUT, I love kickboxing classes and any kind of exercise that makes me feel strong without making me feel like I'm going to gain a bunch of bulky muscle.  Ha!  If you knew me you would know that this would take years of weightlifting to achieve but, in my twisted mind if I lift anything over 15lbs I will immediately end up looking like Popeye the Sailor Man.  No joke. 

   At least he eats his spinach, right?  Speaking of healthy eating, I have a really yummy recipe to share with you.  I indulged quite a bit during the Holiday's so it feels really good to eat healthy whole foods on a regular basis again.  This recipe is dedicated to all of you pasta lovers out there.  Give this a try the next time you get a craving for the starchy stuff.

Twisted Pesto Pasta with a Rustic Tomato Sauce


For the Pasta
1 Spaghetti Squash

For the Spinach Pesto Puree
4 cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon pine nuts
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
pinch sea salt
lemon juice/water, optional

For the Tomato Sauce
1 tablespoon extra-virgin coconut oil
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
1/2 tsp sea salt
cracked black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Prepare the squash by washing the outer skin, cutting it in half lengthwise and removing the pulp and seeds.  Place it in an oven safe dish, cut side down, and add about an inch of water to the bottom of the dish.  Bake for about 30 - 45 minutes or until tender.  Set aside and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the tomato sauce. Heat the coconut oil in a large pan on med heat until hot, then lightly cook the garlic. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, and cook for about 10 minutes until tomatoes wilt a bit.
While the tomato sauce is cooking, prepare the spinach pesto puree.  Add all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender (starting with the oil) and process until smooth.  If you're having a hard time processing the ingredients you can add a bit of lemon juice or water (starting with 1 tablespoon at a time) to the blender/food processor. 
Using a fork, scrape the flesh of the squash to produce spaghetti-like strands and add them to a bowl.  Toss the spaghetti squash with the spinach pesto and top with tomato sauce.
Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Happy Monday everyone! 

Ves xx

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year!

Hi Friends!

I just wanted to take a minute to wish you all a very Happy New Year!


I hope this year brings you nothing but health, happiness and love.  May your best of 2012 be your worst of 2013

Ves xx
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