Sunday, February 28, 2010

I swear...

... one day I will adopt a completely healthy lifestyle - balance, organic foods; exercise; happiness. Its a journey comprised of a long road with u-turns, detours, obstacles and mountains but I see a rainbow somewhere in there, and thats a good sign.

I'm recommitting myself as of tomorrow (March 1st) to live and be healthier. It seems to take so much active willpower and concentration to be healthy when you havnt consciously thought about it the majority of your life. Sure I've been on my share of diets, but we all know how that works. Weight goes down, then comes up. Why cant it be like the saying " what goes up must come down" instead?

Anyhow, look for a review of Amazing Grass in the coming week as well as a giveaway!  I know you are excited.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

For those who like to indulge in decadent colorful desserts...

TRIFLE
The hardest part of this dessert is actually making the creme anglaise sauce that goes on top of the fresh fruit and pound cake. Now, if you really have a lot of time, you could make the pound cake yourself -- but in this case I had already made two appetizers and a nice gourmet entree. In other words, I wanted something simple, but impressive.

Any fresh fresh berries will do. Here, I chose organic strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. The more the merrier.

I cheated a little, took a short cut, and purchased Sara Lee Poundcake. Its not my favorite because I always prefer home made, but it put a smile on every one else's face when they found out it was a component of their dessert.


Lastly, I topped it all with creme anglaise.  In reality, it is a very decadent vanilla sauce/custard.  The basic ingredients you will need are heavy cream, sugar, vanilla and egg yolks. Some people do a combination of milk and cream. But, obviously, the fattier option you choose the more "rich" or "Decadent" the resulting product will be.

Food and Wine has a good recipe.

The most important thing is to make the sauce ahead of time, allowing it to cool down. Personally, I got caught up with errands, and this dish was actually a last minute choice so the sauce didn't thicken as much as I would have liked. Next time, I will make the sauce the day before.






As a side note, still trying to find a new food lifestyle that will work for me, and with my family gatherings. I have definitely given up sweets. IE: no creme anglaise sauce or pound cake for me. But, I still need to figure out other changes which will work. For some reason, it's always a struggle.

With law school taking up more and more time, not to mention family/social obligations I finding less time to work out. The only option left seems to be 5 am. However, when I'm up studying till 1 or 2 am, a 5 am wake up call is depressing.

Suggestions?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Vegan Carrot Spice Cake

VEGAN CARROT SPICE CAKE
Adapted from 1000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp pp spice
1/2 tsp ginger
1 cup sugar
1/2 very vanilla soy milk
2 tsp vannila
1/2 canola/veggie oil
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup raw steel cut oats ( would be fine without outs, or with rolled oats)
10 dates , pitted chopped
2 cups finely shredded carrots

Frosting .
1 cup powdered sugar,
1/2 cup cocoa unsweetened
1/4 cup chocolate soy milk
1/4 oil
pinch cloves, pinch pumpkin spice

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, mix the honey, oil, sugar, soymilk and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and oats. Then, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing simultaneously. When combined, fold in the carrots and date. Pour into a lined cake pan and bake for 45 minutes.

For the frosting, simply whisk the ingredients together, adding the  powdered sugar gradually as a thickening agent. Pour over the baked cake and let it set. (Pics with Blackberry...sorry)


___________________________________
Curious... Is anyone else who is trying to eat vegan, or who has tried to eat vegan in the past noticed a change in hunger levels? Also, my dad is concerned i'll eat too many carbs on a vegan diet and since im not the skinniest girl on the block, I share the concern. The last think I want to do is gain weight.  So, now I'm considering switching to vegetarian but cutting out bread, rice (unless its brown), pasteries, sweets, and most processed foods. This would still be giving up things I like for lent, but hopefully healthier?
::sigh::

Monday, February 22, 2010

BRUSCHETTA

Ingredients
3 cups grape tomatoes, diced or halved
3 green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
several whole cloves of garlic
1 tsp lime juice
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped 2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 par baked baguette( I got mine form Trader Joes)
fresh slivers of Parmesan ( omit for Vegan option)




Combine the ingredients and let them marinate for at least half an hour. About 15 minutes prior to serving, slice the par baked baguette and bake in the oven at 400F ( or tempature specified on packaging) for about 8 minutes. After taking the bread out, rub with fresh cloves of garlic, top with Bruschetta and Parmesan (optional). 



Finally, Good luck deciding to move on to dinner, or simply restraining yourself from this appetizer so that you actually have room for dinner :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lent : Days Three and Four



Day Three
I think I can get used to this vegan thing if I get to have smoothies like this every day.
I went to Vons today to get some soy milk and wouldn't you know my luck, Silk was on sale!! To make it even better they had a flavor I hadn't seen before, " Very vanilla".  ( photo courtesy of Silk website).


When I came home, I apprehensively took a sip of the very vanilla... and O . M. G.  -- heaven in a glass.

Then, inspired by the 80 degree weather I decided to make a smoothie.

Ingredients
1 orange, peeled
1/2 cup frozen berries
1/2-3/4 cup Silk - Very vanilla

Blend and enjoy :)




___________________________________________

Daily Eats:
honeycrisp apple
Banana
Cashew Tofu w/ rice( side salad, side veggie soup) -- I was starving, but don't worry, I didn't eat all of it.
Red Rice with Green Beans

Daily Drinks:
Water
Orange Berries and "Cream" Smoothie 

Observations: Wow, I am super thirsty , all the time. Has this happened to anyone after they changed their diet?

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 I experimented.... made a Vegan carrot spice cake with a vegan chocolate frosting/glaze. I am kinda scared as to how it will taste, but it smells amazing. If it survives tasting by family tomorrow, I will post the recipe.

 
Day Four

Daily Eats:
small honeycrisp apple
banana
trail mix of cashews, dried cranberries and almonds
Vegetarian Bento Box
Bruschetta with a bit of lavash

Daily Drinks:
Home Brewed Coffee w/ non dairy creamer 
Soy milk
water

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lent : Day Two

Gotta be accountable somehow.  So I had one of my flourless chocolate cakes sitting at home and I can't eat it anymore. So what did I do? Took it to school of course.

There I sat, working on my law journal assignment all day, smelling the tempting odor of chocolate for a good 10 hours, meanwhile attempting to cajole my peers into devouring the chocolate abomination.

It is now 7:45 pm, and 3/4 of the cake is gone. My only hope is that the boys in Trademark Law will be seduced by the cake as others were and finish her off.

My goal: to go home with an empty plate and happy customers.

Daily Drinks:
Soy latte
Orange juice + soy protein "smoothie"
Water....

Daily Eats:
banana
cashews and dried cranberries
two small honeycrip apples
Pasta w/ sundried tomato and herbs
mixed greens with balsamic vinegar

Observations: Smells are much more pungent, whether it is the loner smoking a cigarette outside of the building, the smell of my chocolate cake, or the wavering perfume on a class mate. Tastes too are much more vibrant -- when cafeteria food actually has variance in flavor you know something odd is going on. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lent : Day One

 CUCUMBER MELON SALAD

 Light and refreshing; vegan; lent approrpiate Makes 6-7 servings

Simply dice 1 honeydew melon and 5-6 persian cucumbers. Dress the mixture with the juice of 1 lime. freshly cut mint, and a spinkle of sea salt.

                                                                                               
Day one was a success! So far so good.

Daily Eats:

A couple steamed chestnuts
small honeycrisp apple
red lentil stew with rice

fat free popcorn
lavash with pumpkin butter and almond butter
Avocado Roll & Sesame Tofu

Daily Drinks:

Pomegranate White Tea
Smoothie ( 1 orange, frozen berries, 1 banana)
Senna tea
Earl Grey Tea
 

Armenian Orthodox

Lent Officially begins tomorrow. Traditionally in the Armenian Orthodox Church, followers abstain from meat and all meat products for 40 days -- basically adopting a vegan lifestyle.

I have decided to adhere to this traditional standard as opposed to the more modern lenient one this year. So.... 40 days of veganism begins tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

PURE. CHOCOLATE. DECADENCE


Flourless Chocolate Cake
adapted from Cocao Web

2 sticks ( 1 cup) unsalted butter
Milk Chocolate ( 10 squares of the Traders Joes 1lb block)
Dark Chocolate ( 10 square of the Trader Joe's 1lb block)
1 inch of vanilla bean
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
5 eggs, separated

Ganache
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
5 sqaures milk chocolate
10 squares dark chocolate

Directions
 Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a cake pan with wax parchment paper, or grease and dust the pan with cocoa powder.

Melt the chocolate with the butter in a double boiler along with the scraped interior of the vanilla bean.  In a separate bowl whisk 1/2 cup sugar with the egg yolks ( keep the egg whites in the fridge for now). Then, slowly add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg yolk to temper, and prevent it from scrambling. Whisk it in well.





Next, whisk the egg whisk the egg whites, slowly adding the other 1/2 cup of the brown sugar until it has stiff peaks.

Now, slowly fold the egg whites into the chocolate/eggs. Simply put, its beautiful.


Once the two have been successfully combine, pour it into the cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.

The cake will come out with a crust, you can choose to leave it on or take it off. I chose to take it off in order to get a certain look. 

Make the ganache by melting the chocolate in the heavy cream in a double boiler. Once melted let it set for about 5  minutes, then pour over the cake.

 If you like chocolate , you will LOVE this cake. Perfect for Valentine's day ;)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

International Wine Festival (Part II)

The food table which occupied the center of the banquet hall was plentiful -- of both food and people. The line seemed to be never ending and honestly I was more interested in the new drinks being offered than the cheese, fruit and fondue. Nevertheless, I snatched a couple pictures of the "dippable items"
Self explanatory??? Brownies and Marshmallows :)

 But, chocolate makes almost anything better, right?
















Lots of people, lots of food, lots of happy faces. Either food induced or alcohol -- take your pick.





The wine to the right comes from the country of Georgia.  For those who are unfamiliar with the geography, it is located in the Caucuses region. It is to the east of Turkey and north of Armenia. In fact, as a former republic of the Soviet Union it has been suffering an atmosphere of tension and war in an battle between the effort to regain national borders and maintain ethnic integrity of its many indigenous peoples. ( I happened to write a 25 page law article on the subject matter, proposing a solution)

Anyways, back to the wine. The wine was uniquely pleasant. Sweet, but not overly so. However, interestingly the distributor said they had not been able to categorize it in any already existing bracket. Perhaps it will blossom into a category of its own soon?







I also had the opportunity to try Penfolds Wine from Australia. Though it wasn't my personal favorite, I still suggest you give it a try. I believe with the appropriate food pairing, it would have a more appealing draw on one's palate. I, however, did not try it with food and as I have admitted, I have a bias towards sweeter/fruitier wines. I reserve most all other wines for cooking, and truly special occasions.

Though I sampled several other wines, including proseccos , none of them were particularly amazing. However, the experience was definitely unique and I would love to attend another wine festival in the future. This time however, I will do more research on the wines offered, and try to go before the festival officially opens so I can have easier access. ( wishful thinking)


Finally, as mentioned in the first post, there was a catering company present " Viva LA Foodies". I had an opportunity to speak to the owners and found them to be not only very pleasant individuals but also very passionate about food.  In fact, they are also foodbuzz featured publishers!  Their sampling ( if I remember correctly, and I hope I do) was a crostini topped with marscapone and an apricot chutney. A very pleasant amuse bouche.