Thursday, September 12, 2013

Hooray for September!

It has been raining cats & dogs here in Denver!  I've been loving every minute of it too.  I got up early today, put on my rain boots and my rain coat, and went splooshing in puddles.  It was awesome. 

It was like the weather thought "Huh, it's September now.  Maybe I should cool off?"  And it sure did.  And I'm a happy girl. 

My schedule has been pretty insane lately, and I'm not sure how I'm going to make it all work.  I may need to figure out yet another strategy, and that is more than a little frustrating.  But I'll find a way and come out stronger in the end.  A little spoiler of what I'm working on... a new blog that's all about FOOD!  It's going to be a big project but I'm so totally excited about it.  More info to come soon. 

I am also still very happy that I (usually) get weekends off too, and that means a little extra time to enjoy the changing of the seasons.  

And to enjoy the little things, like this... 

...and this...

...and this...

...and this...

...and this...

Hello, September!  So nice to see you again. :) 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Banana Cashew Muffins

I decided to make a new muffin recipe to start off the week right.  I love having ready-made breakfasts on hand so that I can just grab something healthy before I leave the house for the day.  It just starts my day off on the right foot! 

I adapted this recipe from my favorite cookbook of all time, How It All Vegan.  Their recipe calls for blueberries and bananas, but I figured I'd leave the fresh berries to serve on the side with yogurt (my favorite way to eat a muffin!) so I substituted nuts instead.  

I also added in Wheat Bran for a little extra fiber, and some spiced tea for an extra kick.  

Banana Cashew Muffins
Adapted from the recipe in How It All Vegan
Makes 9 muffins
Time: About 1 hour

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup dry sweetener (I used whole trade sugar)
1/2 cup oil
1 cup soy, almond, or flax milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp maple extract (optional)
1 banana, mashed
2 Tbsp ground flax seed
2 Tbsp wheat bran
1 cup raw cashews (or any other kind of nuts you have on hand!)
1 black tea bag (any kind will do, but one with vanilla notes will work best)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and sweetener.  Cut open the tea bag and dump the contents into the mix.  

This is the kind of tea that I used, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand!  I think anything with vanilla in it is just an added bonus. 

Your dry mix will look "peppered" when you add the tea bag - but it just makes it even prettier!

Add the remaining ingredients and stir together gently until "just mixed".  

Spoon into lightly oiled muffin tins. 

You can fill 'em up pretty high, they don't rise too much.  You can use muffin liners too if you'd like, but I like to crumble my muffins, so I didn't use them.  You can also sprinkle some brown sugar or extra nuts on top at this point if you'd like something a little extra!

Bake for 35-40 minutes.  Test with a knife to see if done.  

Easy peasy, huh?  I love recipes like this that you can just throw together and keep munching on the rest of the week.  The added fragrance of the tea really brought out something special in these guys.  I can't wait to have them for breakfast again tomorrow! 

As a note, I would recommend storing these in the fridge in a container - it'll make them last longer!  Take one out when you first get up and let it come to room temperature as you get ready for the day.  Or zap it in the microwave / give it 5 minutes in the oven at 300 degrees, so it's toasty. Yum yum!  

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Roasted Patty Pan Squash Soup with Beans

When I went to the meeting for the Sunshine Project, I came home with this beautiful UFO-shaped squash...

...and no freakin' idea what to do with it!

I started Googling "UFO-shaped squash" because I didn't even know what type of squash it was - turns out it's just a really large Patty Pan squash.  It also turns out that I did not know how many varieties of squash there are out there!

Today I was pondering what to do with it, and after some thorough searching I realized that there are about 3 ways people make Patty Pan Squash in a recipe:

1.) Stuffed.
2.) Cubed in a casserole.
3.) In a curry.


Naturally, I decided to make soup. :)

Since I love roasted squash SO MUCH, I decided to incorporate that into my recipe since I wasn't exactly sure how this type of squash would taste - and roasting seems to bring out the best in things.  As it turns out, when it's roasted it turns into a buttery savory bundle of deliciousness, so I know I made the right choice!

I threw in a few cloves of garlic while roasting too, because really, who doesn't love roasted garlic?

Roasted Patty Pan Squash Soup with Beans
Cook time:  About 1 to 1 1/2 hours
Serves:  About 4-6

- 1 large Patty Pan Squash (peeled, seeded, and cut into 1" cubes)
     If you only have small Patty Pan squashes you can definitely use those too!  I'd recommend about 5 total.
- 6-8 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/3 cup brown rice
- 1 can Great Northern Beans (I used canned)
- 2 cups Vegetable Broth
- Olive oil
- Sea Salt & Pepper
- 1 tsp Sage
- 1 Tbsp Braggs Liquid Amino Acids (or Soy Sauce)
- Shaved Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

Set oven to 400 degrees F, and spread the cubed squash on a large cookie sheet.  Throw in the garlic cloves, and douse everything with olive oil.  Season with salt, pepper, and sage. 

Roast in the oven for about 30-45 minutes, turning once halfway through.  Everything should be pretty evenly browned when they're done. 

Pretty gorgeous, huh??

In the meantime, heat the veggie broth in a large pot on the stove to medium-high until boiling.  Dump in the brown rice, reduce the heat, and cover to let simmer for about 20 minutes.  The rice will not cook all the way through.  

Dump in the roasted squash & garlic and stir.  Reduce heat to medium-low, and let simmer for another 10-15 minutes.  

Add the beans, and stir until everything is heated through.  You may need to add a little more hot water or broth at this point to make sure everything is submerged. 

Remove from heat and use a hand blender to blend everything together.  I left some big chunks in there still, just for texture. 

Serve with some crusty bread, and top with Parmesan cheese if desired! 

This turned out so delicious and creamy (without any cream!).  This soup would be beautifully accompanied by a bright & fruity green salad to counter the salt.