Thursday, April 28, 2011

you can fit a lot of lessons in one blog post

My camera is full of pictures reflecting the wonderful things I've been doing lately and the wonderful lessons I've learned while doing them. So here is the whirlwind journey I've been on for a month or two...

My parents visited, and I learned that I would rather have pictures of them than of the fish in Haymarket...but the fish are still pretty cool.





I went to my second ever MLB game and learned that even a non-sports-enthusiast can enjoy a day at Fenway. (Especially sitting next to that cute boy.)


My high school friends visited and I learned that the best view of Boston is from the top of the Prudential Tower...and that there is nothing quite like a girls' night out with people who knew you when you were young(er).


I went home for Easter and learned that I've been creating recipes since I was quite small... 


I also learned that the best cheese I've ever had comes from Madison, WI.


And my excellent brother-in-law taught me that my dinky little camera has more potential than I realized...


And when I got home, I learned that this is the best recipe for homemade hand lotion ever. Amazingly easy, super cheap, and all natural...

















I hope your adventures have been as rewarding as mine!

Monday, April 11, 2011

learning to forgive yourself makes life so much better

This is a lesson that has taken me an entire lifetime to learn, and one that I still sometimes have trouble remembering. I am a classic perfectionist, and while I find it easy to let the mistakes of others go, I haven't always afforded the same compassion for myself.

This weekend, a very special Italian grandmother sent a very special Italian care package to our humble abode, and I let down my hair and ate an unreal amount of sponge cake, salami, biscotti and casatiello. And then, I felt bad. And after that? I forgave myself. I mean, I think it would be worse to let all this go to waste...






Thank you, Nonna, for the amazing food, and an amazing reminder...life is short...sometimes we must indulge...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

there's'more than one way to make a s'more

It is one of the most wonderful, and most confusing times of the year. A few days ago I was blogging about pea soup and fighting an urge to curl up in a reading nook and forget about responsibilities. I still want to forget about responsibilities, but with the sun shining outside and a beautiful breeze through our kitchen windows, I'm more inspired to drink lemonade, spring clean, and dream about sugar-free s'mores.

Or maybe I can do more than dream...

~~~

First you'll need a batch of homemade graham crackers (adapted from here), which J describes as "way better than the ones in the box."

Homemade Graham Crackers

Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup agave syrup

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix the first four dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Cut the butter into this mixture using a fork, until evenly crumbly. Then add the agave syrup and mix with the fork until dough is formed. At this point, I like to pick up the dough and smoosh in all the remaining flour until I have an even ball of dough. Split into two even pieces, and roll each onto one of the parchment papers, spreading as thinly and squarely as possible, and covering as much of the surface as possible. I needed to flour my rolling pin and dough a bit during this part. Transfer to the baking sheets and draw cutting lines with a butter knife. Use a fork to poke holes in each square. Bake for 20-25 minutes. I lean towards 25, because J and I both prefer these a bit crispier. After completely cool, break apart into individual crackers. We love these plain, too!



~~~

Next you'll need s'more filling. The chocolate part is my own invention, but the marshmallow recipe comes from here.

S'more Filling

Ingredients:
4 squares of unsweetened Baker's chocolate
1/4 cup coconut oil
10 drops liquid vanilla stevia

1 cup agave syrup
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp cold water
1/4 tsp salt

Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave. They don't mix easily, so you'll have to do a lot of stirring. When melted and smooth, add the stevia. Pour into a non-stick baking sheet and coat the bottom. Refrigerate until hardened.

Note: The original marshmallow recipe requires an electric mixer, which I don't have. I used a blender, which seemed to work ok, but if you have an electric mixer, it's probably worth using the original recipe.

Add agave syrup, salt, and vanilla extract to a blender. Dissolve the gelatin in the cold water, then microwave for 30 seconds. Add to the blender and blend on high until tripled in size. Pour over the chocolate in the cookie sheet and coat the bottom by tilting the pan (spreading will mix the marshmallow and chocolate). Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Cut into squares and lift out with a spatula. Note: In hindsight, this would work much better if I had lined the pan with something...parchment paper or foil. That way, I could lift it out of the pan to cut, rather than scraping the chocolate off the bottom.

These s'mores are super rich and sweet, so one should easily satisfy a sweet tooth!


~~~

Oh wait...I also mentioned lemonade, didn't I?


Sugar-free Lemonade (adapted from Stevia: naturally sweet recipes for drinks, desserts and more! by Rita DePuydt)

Ingredients:
10 ounces lemon juice
54 ounces water
1/3 tsp powdered stevia

Mix, refrigerate, and enjoy!

Friday, April 1, 2011

no food is as peasing as pea soup

Did you like what I did there? Ok, probably not. But I'm not above a bad pun every once in awhile. And "pea" is such an easy word to play off of...just don't take it too far!

I love sharing my dessert recipes on here, and that's really where I've gotten the most creative recently, since I have to adapt just about every recipe in the world if I want to eat something that resembles dessert. But with Maus recovering from a scraped paw pad (she's on antibiotics, but still yowls to play laser, and then limps around the apartment as fast as she possibly can) and the most depressing weather to ring in April (seriously, Boston, is this your idea of an April Fool's joke?!), we needed a little comfort food around here. And this pea soup is too good not to share.

Dried split peas are one of our latest health food kicks, since they are super high in both fiber and protein. This soup tastes delicious hot or cold, and is especially decadent served with a dollop of cream on top.


~~~

Creamy Split Pea Soup

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
3 large stalks of celery
3 small onions
3-5 cloves of garlic
salt, to taste
1 1/2 cups dried split peas
6 cups water
1 tbsp curry paste
a few sprinkles of dried parsley

1. Coarsely chop celery and onion and saute in the olive oil in a pot over medium-low heat. While sauteing, peel the garlic and slice each clove in half lengthwise. After the onions and celery have cooked for about 5 minutes, add the garlic and salt. Continue to saute until translucent, about another 10 minutes.
2. Add the water and then the peas to the pot. Increase heat to high until water is boiling, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until peas fall apart, about 45 minutes.
3. Remove lid, increase the heat, and add curry paste. Stir until well-mixed.
4. Turn off the heat, add the parsley, and use an immersion blender to blend the soup until creamy. Note: Make sure the blender is completely in the soup before blending, or you can count on hot peas all over!
5. Add more salt, if necessary, and enjoy!