January 12, 2010

The Voices In my Head

It doesn't take much for me to get a song stuck in my head. Even something as innocuous as my sister-in-law handing me a bag of oranges from the tree in her backyard sends me into a 24 hour loop of Lady Marmalade.

Me: What am I going to do with all these oranges? Her: Make orange marmalade! My Brain: Gitchi Gitchi Ya Ya Da Da

So, I spent the better par of yesterday cooking up a batch of fabulous Vanilla Bean Orange Marmalade courtesy of Always Order Dessert with a certain tune in my head (both versions). The addition of whole vanilla beans was so genius and made my house smell insanely good.

24 hours later with and still a "soul sister", I started researching vegan recipes. One of my resolutions is to eat vegan once a week and experiment with vegan baking. I found this great recipe on Nom! Nom! Nom! which sounded delicious and did not require ingredients I can't pronounce (sorghum? agar agar?) . Unfortunately, the recipe is entitled You Are My Sunshine Loaf. Seriously? You put the two together and now I have a Glee style disco/folk mash-up monopolizing most of my brain. It's worse than muzak, but the combination of wholesome, diet-friendly muffins and lip-smacking amazing orange marmalade is worth it. It will make you happy when skies are gray.

You Are My Sunshine Muffins (or Loaf)
adapted from Nom! Nom! Nom! Blog
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup shredded carrots
1 medium apple, peeled and shredded
1 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
¼ cup canola oil
zest of 1 medium orange
juice of one medium orange
½ cup raisins
½ cup walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl combine flours, sugar, baking powder and spices. In a large bowl mix carrots, apple and milk until well-combined. Add oil, orange zest and orange juice. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients until just combined. Fold in raisins and walnuts. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin (or loaf pan) and bake for 22-25 minutes.

Cool muffins on a wire rack. Store in an air tight container at room temperature.

For the marmalade recipe, go here.

January 9, 2010

It Only Hurts When I Detox

After all that Christmas cheer, coming back down to reality with a thud is a total bummer. While I do consider myself a realist, it still stings a bit, especially when I am forced to come to terms with all the poor nutritional choices I'd been making since Thanksgiving in the name of celebration. 2009's answer to all that over indulgence was a 7 detox- no sugar, caffeine, dairy, wheat or alcohol. I found the original version a little lacking in well, food so I upped the protein and added in more healthy snacks so I wouldn't collapse during all the exercise I planned to do. One week and 4 pounds lighter I felt pretty great- it even helped me kick a lingering bronchitis cough.

2010 began with mild sinus infection so with notes from last years detox plan, a recent viewing of Food Inc., and the added incentive of participating in Ten in '10 Healthy Challenge, I was ready to begin Week One. The first three days I had a 24/7 headache, a side effect I did not experience last year. Guess I'v been a very bad girl this Christmas. I finally relented and allowed myself a half a cup of coffee and kicked the headache about an hour later.

Since then I've been feeling pretty good and although I have no intention of saying goodbye to my vices altogether, this detox is a great way to reset my system and refocus my attention to more conscientious eating habits. For the remainder of Ten in '10 I plan to continue eating healthy and only treat myself on the weekends which means I can have a Saturday night date with sugar, but no going steady. I'll continue to meet my goal of exercising 6 days a week and Monday was the first of many "vegan once a week days. Eating vegan can be tricky but have been getting a lot of help by reading up on vegan recipes on blogs like Never Home Maker, We Haight Cookbooks, , Pink Stripes. I'm a big fan of homemade soup in general so Friday might I made Lentil, Kale and Potato Soup from Manifest Vegan. It fit right in to my eating plan and was a great way to use up leftover vegetables.

Thanks Lori for a great, healthy jumpstart in the new year! If you are interested in joining the challenge or just want to follow along, go here.

Lentil, Kale and Potato Soup
adapted from Manifest Vegan
2 yukon gold potatoes, chopped into small pieces
1 small brown onion, chopped
1 bunch of kale, chopped
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
3 1/2 cups water
handful of parsley, chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp cumin
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp coriander

Combine, potatoes, kale, garlic, bay leaf, lemon juice, water and broth in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Place onions, parsley, lemon zest, cumin and coriander in a saute pan and drizzle with olive oils. Saute until onions become slightly translucent then to the pot. Once the soup begins to boil reduce heat and simmer until lentils and potatoes are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

January 5, 2010

Commitment & Cake

What do you get a baking blog that has everything? The traditional 2nd anniversary gift is cotton but I opted for Cocoa Buttermilk Cake instead. Light fluffy chocolate cake and thick chocolate frosting with just a hint of malted flavor made me fall in love with Tuesdays With Dorie all over again.
Thanks to Dorie, Laurie, and to all the bloggers in this fabulous group for the recipes, photos, stories and inspiration you have shared with me these last two years. I would bake a mini cake for each and every one of you if I could. Happy Anniversary!

January 1, 2010

Off Sides

The holiday season is all about peace on Earth and good will toward men right? I mean that's what Charlie Brown tells us. Obviously he and Linus never had their alma maters play each other in a bowl game.
New Year's Day 2010 brought us blue skies, an open tennis court, and most importantly contract arbitration between Time Warner Cable and Fox which allowed for the Sugar Bowl to be shown on tv in our market. That meant my husband and I began this year watching football and for the first time ever, not rooting for the same team. University of Florida Gators (class of '95 thank you very much) v.s. Cincinnati Bearcats (he only went there his freshman year but Ohio U already lost to Marshall) and thanks to a recent Vegas trip we both had money on the game. It was not looking good for the Cats.
In the interest of marital harmony, I thought some team themed sugar cookies might lessen the agony of what I was certain would be Cincy's impending defeat. At halftime we had a little photo shoot with my new toy.

By the third quarter it was a blow-out and even I began to lose interest. We started scrolling through available movies on demand.
The final score was 51-24. I won $10 and he lost $10 but we were up overall thanks to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. And a plate of fabulous football cookies.