Sunday, November 27, 2011

Preparing Asparagus

Ever notice that fresh asparagus can be a little woody? It's hard to know exactly where to cut each stalk. If you cut too far up, you're wasting precious, delicious, usable asparagus, but if you cut too far down you are likely to find a nice bite of too much fiber in your dish, then later in your napkin. To avoid the problem of not knowing where to cut, just snap the son of a gun! Take the root side in one hand and the tip side in the other (midway down the stalk), and snap downwards, as you would when preparing fresh beans. The breaking point will be where the woody part ends and the tender part begins.

Also, if you're using frozen asparagus in a recipe that calls for it to be cut into pieces, cut it while it's frozen. That way it stays firm and doesn't smush apart when you bring the knife down on it.  You can also snap it into pieces of a desired length using your hands while it's frozen.

Pasta con i Fagioli della Soia e Asparago

 Pasta with Soy Beans and Asparagus
P.S. I used mostly yellow tomatoes that were left over from my garden, 
so your pasta dish will come out looking redder.

Personally, I don't really like thick, sweet marinara sauce most of the time. I prefer the light and tangy sauce made by combining fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil. The lightness of the sauce below really lets all of the flavors shine through, the pesto adds a creaminess and the edamame adds a nice nutty flavor. As a side note, cooking veggies in olive oil with lemon, pepper flakes and a little bit of salt, as below, makes a really great side dish.  Buon appetito!

Serves 3

Ingredients:
10 Roma Tomatoes, Roughly Chopped
4 Tbsp. Pesto (I'll try and post a recipe for some pesto soon!)
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Small Handful (about 12) Pitted Mediterranean or Kalamata Olives, Roughly Chopped
1 Bag Frozen or 1 Bunch Fresh Asparagus Chopped into 1" Lengths (see this tip on preparing fresh & frozen asparagus)
1 Bag Frozen, Shelled Edamame,
1/2 Tsp. Pepper Flakes
Juice of 1/2 of a Lemon
1/2 Box of Penne, Farfalle (Bow Tie), or Fusilli Pasta ***for a gluten free option, be sure to use pasta marked gluten free.
Salt to Taste
Water for boiling

Heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a deep sided frying pan over medium heat. Add in the tomatoes and pesto and stir until mixed well. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. In a separate frying pan, heat one tbsp. of olive oil over medium-high heat. Thaw the edamame and asparagus (if using frozen) then toss into the pan along with the pepper flakes and lemon. Cooking the veggies over medium-high heat allows them to caramelize a little, which adds great flavor to the dish. Once a bit caramelized (browned in spots) add the veggies to the tomato sauce, along with the olives. Stir well, taste, and add salt, if needed. Cover again. Reduce the heat to low and allow the sauce to simmer and reduce. While the sauce is simmering, fill a medium sauce pan half way full with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Add in pasta and boil until al dente. Drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce. If your pan is big enough, add the pasta to the sauce and toss in the frying pan, otherwise, return the drained pasta to the sauce pan and pour the sauce over it, tossing in the sauce pan. Buon lavoro! Mangiamo!




Saturday, November 26, 2011

Quote of the Week 11/26/11

Om is the sound of the Universe singing!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Dreams can Come True!

Hi Everyone! My friend is trying to win a scholarship for Yoga Teacher Training in Guatemala! Please help her by watching her video, "Liking" it and commenting! The video can be found HERE. Thanks!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Quote of the Week- 11/18/11

Here's to embarking on a new project! Quote of the week! (Which hopefully won't turn into quote of the month, or quarter for that matter)
This blog has yet to show the Yoga aspect of the Yum, Yarn and Yoga. I'm hoping that the Quote of the Week can be an inspiration for people to practice yoga on and off of the mat!

This first quote is from Peace Pilgrim, who walked across America, with little more than clothing, a toothbrush, comb and pen, to spread the message of peace. I highly recommend reading the book about her life. An online copy of the book is available at http://www.peacepilgrim.org/book/index.htm, or a free copy can be requested at the below address, although I'm sure a donation would be appreciated.

Friends of Peace Pilgrim
PO Box 2207
Shelton, CT 06484
tel. (203) 926-1581


"If only you could see the whole picture, if you knew the whole story, you would realize that no problem ever comes to you that does not have a purpose in your life, that cannot contribute to your inner growth. When you perceive this, you will recognize that problems are opportunities in disguise. If you did not face problems, you would just drift through life. It is through solving problems in accordance with the highest light we have that inner growth is attained."

Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Works in Her Own Words - Pg. 9-10

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Give it Away, Give it Away, Give it Away Now!

It's my first give away! Anyone who "Likes" this page on Facebook or signs up to follow it on blogger between now and December 15 will be entered into a drawing for an eye pillow and 2 crocheted produce bags or a flower head wrap, all made by me! Also, to say thanks for supporting my lil 'ol' blog to all of you who have already signed up, I'll be doing a separate drawing for the same goodies! Pass the word along and cross your fingies!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Spicy and Savory. A Perfect Way to Spice up a Cold Night.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 Small Onion, Diced
1 Poblano, Diced
1 Clove Garlic, Finely Diced
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Can Tomatoes With Green Chile (Like Rotel)
2 Medium or 1 Large Zucchini, Chopped
1 Can Pinto Beans, Rinsed and Drained
1/2 Tsp. Chipotle Powder
1/2 Tsp. Chili Powder
3 C. Water
Salt to Taste (Approx. 1 Tsp.)
Crushed Tortilla Chips, Grated Cheese* and Sliced Avocado for Topping
*Leave the cheese off to make the soup vegan
*If you are on a gluten free diet, check your cheese label(especially on shredded cheese) to ensure that no wheat products have been used

Combine olive oil, poblano, onion and garlic in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute until onions are translucent. Toss in the chili & chipotle powders and continue to saute for 1 more minute, stirring frequently to ensure that the spices don't burn. Add zucchini and saute for another 2 minutes, still stirring often. Add tomatoes, beans, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until zucchini is tender, about 30 minutes. Dish into bowls and top with crushed tortilla chips, cheese and avocado. Enjoy the warmth!

White Sauce for Tacos

This sauce is perfect in burritos and on tacos. If you're not vegetarian, give it a try on fish tacos. Muy Perfecto!

Ingredients:

1/4 C. Sour Cream (Check the label, if you're on a gluten free diet!)
2 Tbsp. Mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. Finely Diced Cilantro
Juice of 1 Lime or 1/2 Lemon
Salt to Taste, if Needed

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Add salt if needed.

Black Bean Tacos

 Perfect for a fast and easy dinner!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

8 Warmed Corn Tortillas
Shredded Cabbage
Diced Tomatoes
Chopped Green Onion
Shredded Cheese

Put everything out in bowls and let everyone go to town making their own tacos.   Ole'!

Un-Refried Beans

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 Cans Black or Pinto Beans, Rinsed & Drained
2 Tbsp. Salsa
Juice of 1 Lemon
1/2 Tsp. Mexican Seasoning
Salt to Taste (Approx. 1 Tsp.)


Combine all ingredients in a food processor, blender, or as always...my favorite, a Magic Bullet. Blend until relatively smooth.

Green and Red Salsa

 My Version of Salsa Verde, With a Red Pepper Added for Taste and Color.


Ingredients:
10 Green Chiles, Roasted, Peeled, Seeded and Stemmed
1/2 Lb. Tomatillos, Husked and Roasted
1 Large Red Bell Pepper, Roasted, Peeled, Seeded and Stemmed
4 Green Onions (Roots Removed...duh), Chopped
1/3 C. Cilantro Leaves (That's a packed 1/3 C., not a fluffy one.)
Juice of 1 to 2 Lemons
Salt to Taste (Approx. 1 Tsp.)

Roasting:
To roast the red pepper and chiles, place them in the oven close to the broiler and broil on high until the skin is charred and pulling away from the pepper, or place them on the grill over over a high flame. Turn until charred on all sides. Be sure to check them often, as they can roast pretty quickly. Put the roasted peppers in a lidded container to sweat for at least 10 minutes. To roast the tomatillos, I just put them on a lower rack while the chiles are roasting in the oven. If you're roasting the peppers on the grill, you can wrap the tomatillos in an enclosed pocket of foil and roast them to the side of the high flame.

Salsa: Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Give it a taste and add more salt and lemon if needed. Puree for an extra 15 seconds if you add more salt or lemon.



Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Homemade Hot Cocoa with Fresh Whipped Cream for Two

 Hot Cocoa...Homemade Whipped Cream...Need I Say More?


Hot Cocoa:
Makes 2 Big Mugs

Ingredients:

2 1/2 C. Milk (Anything from Skim to Whole will work just fine)
1/4 C. Cocoa Powder
1/4 C. Sugar
A Dash of Cinnamon

Combine ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Stir often and heat slowly to ensure that the milk doesn't get scorched. Stir well and make sure that all of the clumps of cocoa powder have dissipated and that the sugar is dissolved. Once the cocoa is thoroughly heated pour it into mugs leaving about 1/2" of headspace for the whipped cream. Top with as much whipped cream as will fit and sprinkle with cinnamon or cocoa powder.

Whipped Cream:
Makes a pretty big batch, but c'mon...you know you'll find a way to use it up.

Ingredients:
8 oz. Container of Heavy Cream
1 to 2 Tbsp. of Powdered Sugar (See Tip for How to Make!)
1 Small Pinch of Salt
1/2 Tsp. Vanilla


Combine ingredients in mixing bowl and mix on high (using the whisk attachment if you have one). Continue to beat until soft peaks form. Be careful not to over mix or you could end up with butter! Remove the whisk attachment or beaters and lick clean. Store left over whipped cream in the refrigerator and re-whip if the leftovers go flat.

How to Make Powdered Sugar

Powdered sugar just isn't something that I keep on hand, but regular sugar is! In addition to the fact that I don't really use it that often, I don't keep powdered sugar on hand because I don't trust it. If you are vegan or vegetarian, you may like to know that some sugars are filtered through bone char as part of the bleaching process. Additionally, powered sugar can have corn starch or tapioca starch added, which is fine, I guess, but not necessary to me. When I make powdered sugar, I like to used turbinado sugar or other unrefined or unbleached sugars (which is what I have in the house anyway). As a sugar in general I think that raw has a more complex flavor and well...it just tastes better to me. 

To make powdered sugar, all you need to do is is toss some (at lease 1/4 c.) in a blender, or my personal favorite, a magic bullet. Blend on high stopping every 15 seconds or so to give the sugar a shake, mixing it up. Process until very fine and powdery. Tah-Dah! Super easy.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Page Recommendations

If you like my page, check out my friends' pages. 

Fig and Walnut has great recipes for both food and drinks and was created by my lovely Australian cousin, Lani. I can tell you from experience that she is an amazing cook!

Gluten Free Gluttony, started by my friend Michelle, is a great resource for those of you on gluten free diets. She has product trials and recommendations and tips on living a gluten free life.

Enjoy!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Crochet Produce Bag


 Who needs plastic produce bags, when you've got your very own homemade bag!





It may look little...but it can really hold a lot! What's that in my bag you ask? Well let me tell you.
3 Grapefruits
3 Cuties
and a Tangelo

Better yet, you're bound to get compliments as bountiful as the produce you're purchasing.










Click here for the Printable Pattern

You'll need 1 crochet hook, size I(9), and a skein of cotton yarn. I like to use Lily Sugar N' Cream. Wait for a coupon or a sale from your local craft store, then stock up!

Pattern:

Chain 13

  Single crochet(sc) to the second to last chain(ch). Sc 3 in the last chain. Do not turn (when you turn the piece in regular crochet, you flip it over and crochet back in the opposite direction), instead, turn the piece upside down and single crochet in the underside of your original chain. Sc 3 in the last stitch. Instead of crocheting back and forth like normal, you will be crocheting in a counter clockwise oval.

 Continue to sc around the piece 2 more times, crocheting 3 sc in the stitch at the end of the row on each side. After the last round is complete, slip stitch(sl) into the next stitch.

Ch 3, skip a stitch, and sc into the next stitch. Repeat all the way around.

 Double Crochet into the next loop (this is the first loop of the round you just completed). Ch 3 then sc into the next loop. Repeat all the way around: Ch 3 then sc in the next loop.

You will double crochet into the first loop of the round you just completed each time you begin a new round. Continue to ch 3 then to sc into each loop for each round.


 Continue around until you have reached just below the desired height of your bag (you will add 2 rows of single crochet. Plus, don't forget the bag will sttrrreeetttcchh). I like to keep it at about 15-16 rounds.
 Sl into the next stitch, then ch 1. Sc 2 into the next loop then sc 1 into the stitch just after the loop. Repeat Around: Sc 2 into the next loop then sc 1 into the stitch just after the loop.
Sl into the first stitch of the round when you come back to it, then ch 1. Sc all the way around.

Flatten the bag out, so that it's lined up with the length of the bottom oval (like above photo). Find the middle stitch on top row of single crochets on the side of the bag that you're crocheting on (just approximate it by eyeballing it). The base of the handle will be 12 single crochets, so count 6 stitches from the center stitch towards the right to find out where the handle will begin. It may not be exactly where your hook is. If it's not, then just slip stitch over to where the handle should begin.
At the starting place for the handle, ch 1, then sc 12 across.  Ch 1 and turn (now you're crocheting back and forth, instead of in an oval). 
Sc 2 together, sc 8 across, sc 2 together. Ch 1 and turn.
Sc 2 together, sc 6 across, sc 2 together. Ch 1 and turn.
Sc 2 together, sc 4 across, sc 2 together. Ch 1 and turn. .
Sc 2 across, sc 2 together, sc 2 across. Ch 1 and turn.
Sc across, ch 1 and turn. Repeat 19 more times.
Sc 2 across, sc 2 into next stitch, sc 2 across. Ch 1 and turn.
Sc 2 into first stitch, sc across, sc 2 into last stitch. Ch 1 and turn. Repeat 2 more times.
(sorry I don't have pictures for the handle!)


To find the center for where to attach the second handle, count the number of stitches from where the first handle attaches around to where it ends (there should be somewhere around 40 stitches). Divide the number by 2 and that will give you the number of stitches to count from one side of the handle towards the other side to get you to the center. Turn the bag inside out and match the center of the handle with the center that you just found. Your hook will be facing the wrong way, so flip it around the right way and put it back through the loops. Crochet the handle to the bag, matching the stitches of the handle up with the stitches on the bag as you go. After crocheting across, hold up your bag to ensure that the handle is centered. If not, pull out the stitches, recenter and crochet it on again. Tie off and work the tail into your work (I like to weave it in to where I crocheted the handle on, making little knots as I go for added reinforcement). 

You're done! Turn the bag right side out and go shoppin', or, if you're feeling really fancy, embellish your bag with a cute flower.


Apple Crisp

Hooray for fall apples!!!

Serves 6

Ingredients:

8 Medium Apples, Peeled, Cored and Sliced (Use a tart variety. Pink Lady is my favorite, but Granny Smith are good too.)
1 1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon (I cannot recommend Penzey's China Cinnamon enough. It is ahhhh-mazing!)
1/2 C. and 2 Tbsp. Turbinado Sugar
1 1/2 C. Quick Oats (Be sure to check the labeling on your oats if you are on a gluten free diet!)
1/2 Stick Unsalted Butter, Softened
1 Pinch of Salt

Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, toss the apples with 2 Tbsp. sugar and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the oats, butter salt and remaining sugar and cinnamon. Pour the apples into a low wide baking dish (a Pirex casserole dish work well) and pat down. Pour the oat mixture on top and spread out to cover the apples evenly. Bake on the lower middle rack until the apples are soft and the topping is browned. Serve hot and, of course, with ice cream.

Vegan Mac and "Cheese"

No Velveeta here! Although, I wouldn't really be surprised if Velveeta didn't actually have any cheese in it...

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 Medium Head of Cauliflower, Rinsed, Cored and Cut Into Approximately 1 1/2 Inch Pieces
1 1/2 C. Water (plus water for boiling the pasta)
2 Tsp. Veggie Better Than Bouillon 
1 Bay Leaf
1/4 C. Nutritional Yeast Flakes, Plus 1 Tbsp. for Sprinkling on Top (You can buy Nutritional Yeast in bulk at health food stores. Don't buy the kind in a box or you'll end up spending a lot more!)
1 7oz. Package of Elbow Macaroni or Shells (I like to use La Moderna. It's the perfect sized package and it's cheap too!) ***If you are vegan, be sure to read the ingredient list on your noodles to be sure that there isn't egg listed!***
1 Tsp. Dijon Mustard
1/2 Tsp. Paprika
2 Handfuls of Baby Spinach(Optional)
Salt to taste
1 Tsp. Olive Oil, for greasing baking pan

Preheat your oven to 350. 

"Cheese": In a medium sauce pan, combine 1 1/2 c. of water, the better than bouillon. Add in the cauliflower and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the cauliflower is very, very tender (about 30 minutes). Remove the bay leaf and add the mustard and paprika to the cauliflower. Using an immersion blender or a food processor, puree the cauliflower mixture until very smooth and creamy. Add in the nutritional yeast and mix until incorporated. Add salt if needed.   

Mac: After the cauliflower has been cooking for about 15 minutes, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente (Don't over cook it or it will turn to mush when you bake it!!!). Drain pasta completely.

Mac N' "Cheese": Use the olive oil to grease a deep medium sized baking dish. Stir the pasta and spinach (if using)  into the cauliflower mixture and stir until the pasta and spinach are completely coated and evenly distributed. Pour into the greased baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining nutritional yeast. Bake until browned on top. Mmmmm...

P.S. Don't be surprised if yours comes out looking lighter in color. My camera made the mac n' "cheese" look much more orange than it was.