Upcoming plans and chocolate waffles

With spring break over, the end of the semester is so close I can taste it!  Although I don’t take summers off, they do tend to be a bit less intense.  And with the end of this semester comes this:

Yes, I am participating this time.  I kind of burned out on the me-made challenges and didn’t do the last few.  But right now I feel like I need some accountability in how I dress – what with being in class with 20 year olds all the time, I find it very easy to just wear jeans and still feel overdressed (I don’t remember everyone wearing sweatpants when I was originally in school, but perhaps I didn’t notice, as I can’t remember what people wore at all.)

I plan to do weekly posts here, and to post daily to the flickr group.

I have a few things going on in may that I want new dresses for.  They are:

The Kentucky Derby: Yes, it’s true, as a local the derby is pretty unexciting to me.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have things to do!  I’m singing/playing for a fundraising brunch on Oaks day (the race the day before derby, or “derby for locals” as we usually call it.)  I also have a few Derby parties to attend, though those are more casual.  Here is what I’m thinking:

Amity at Amity Originals actually went back and reviewed this pattern for me, years after she made it.  Thank you so much – it did help, and now this is up next!  Assuming, of course, that I can actually figure out where my pattern is.  I think I cut it out, but now it is lost in my house (it’s just barely possible that I am not the neatest housekeeper ever…)  I’m hoping to find it soon so I can get started.  I’m planning to use self-fabric covered buttons up the back.  Don’t you think it will be very “day at the races” with a fancy hat?

Graduation: Next up, I need something to wear when I graduate (well, we are gowned of course, but there are other events!)  I want something fun and summery, but still dressed up:

Simplicity 1803 – As you can see, I was originally planning on this for Easter, but I never got to it.  I’m leaning towards the dots, which is becoming a bit of a theme for me.  The floral is a bit more faded looking in real life, but I like it!

These are hopefully my next two projects.  I should have considerably more free time in May, so I may get some more done (not before though – I have so much to do right now!)

Updates on my other random hobbies:

Yoga: Thank you for all your suggestions for yoga I might enjoy!  I ended up joining My yoga online – it’s only $10 a month, and they have a ton of very well produced practices.  I’m a fan of streaming services (we went all streaming last year, and don’t miss cable tv a bit!)  I hook my laptop up to my tv with an s-video cable, so it’s very easy for me to use these workouts.

Cooking: I’m still making an effort to cook more.  I have several days a week when I have to eat out due to my schedule (and because I want to socialize) so if I don’t make the effort to cook the other days then I never will.  I feel like I’m starting to get better at this!  Here are a few of my recent favorite recipes:

Tahini roasted broccoli over bulgur  from Vegetarian Times – I’ve actually made this twice now.  I replace the raisins with dried cranberries (I don’t like raisins) but other than that follow the recipe.  It seems simple, but it’s so good – and roasting broccoli makes it great even for broccoli haters (my husband calls this “hummus broccoli” because that’s what it tastes like.)  Broccoli is my favorite vegetable, so obviously I like it.

Chocolate coconut “luna” bars – I have an obsession with luna bars, but they are so pricey!  This is a great copycat, which I actually prefer to the luna coconut flavor.  My alterations: I used agave nectar instead of the brown rice syrup, chocolate peanut butter (Justin’s brand,) no protein powder, and dark chocolate chips (Hershey’s special dark) instead of the vegan ones in the recipe.  They turned out really well!

I also made up a recipe for chocolate waffles.  I love the chocolate chip pancakes at IHOP, but I prefer waffles, so I used a few different recipes to work with what I had to make my own.  I know the yogurt sounds weird, but I always use it in baked goods – it’s healthy, and it doesn’t alter the taste like applesauce does.  Yes, my parents were hippies, and I picked these things up from them!  My Mom used to make her own yogurt all the time.  I’m not that hardcore, but I usually have yogurt around.  I got so used to eating it growing up that I don’t like to be without.

These waffles are nicely chocolate without being too sweet.  If you like, you can use chocolate chips in the batter instead of mixing them in, to get chocolate chip waffles.

Chocolate yogurt waffles (makes 4)

1.5 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

6 oz vanilla almond milk or soy milk

1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

5 Tbsp cocoa powder

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract (omit if using vanilla milk)

2 oz greek yogurt (I used Stoneyfield farms Oikos chocolate flavor, to give an extra chocolate boost to the batter.)

2 Tbsp chocolate chips (I used Hershey’s special dark)

Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions

Preheat dry waffle iron.

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside

Whisk together almond or soy milk and vinegar in another bowl.   It will curdle – do not be afraid!  Let this sit for a few minutes.

Combine cocoa powder and chocolate in a bowl. Stir in 1/4 cup boiling water in until melted. Stir milk mix into chocolate.  Add in brown sugar, vanilla, and yogurt.  Add the dry mixture to this bowl and stir until combined.

Spray waffle iron with non-stick spray.  Cook 3 minutes or until done (my waffle iron has a light that goes off.)  Dust with powdered sugar and serve!  These go really well with a berry topping (I like raspberries.)  Mmm… breakfast for dinner.  My favorite!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Recipe: Chocolate coffee smoothie

No, this is not a cooking blog, but I’ve been cooking all the time lately.  For instance, today I made the Beef curry wraps here.  (They were very good, I replaced the peas with frozen edamame and ate the filling on the flatbread like a pizza!)  I think I will occasionally share a recipe here.

I have never been a big fan of breakfast.  I’m not a morning person, and I don’t want to socialize early in the day (and trust me, no one wants to socialize with me then either!)  I also don’t like many breakfast foods – bacon, sausage etc, they aren’t foods I really eat.  I do eat waffles and eggs, but I like to eat them for dinner (at least once a week!) because they make me sick in the morning.

Having said that, I’m trying to eat more often, which is really making me feel better (I am prone to blood sugar swings.)  Breakfast was a challenge though.  Here is what I try to do: I get up, have my coffee, and then I do my workout.  After that, I’m awake enough to have a little something, which these days is usually a smoothie or some kind of energy bar if I’m leaving for the day.  I buy various energy/food bars at Whole Foods, so what I eat there varies (I don’t like the raw ones though, like Larabars, which everyone seems to love… they all taste like dates to me, yuck!)

On the days I’m working at home, and on weekends, I have a smoothie.  I was never into them, but I’ve discovered a few tricks that makes them much easier at home, so I thought I might share one of my recipes!  I’ve had this one three days in a row, which I’m pretty sure makes it my favorite.  I even made it for my husband today, and he loved it!

Ingredients (Makes one 16 oz or two 8 oz smoothies)

1.5 cups of unsweetened Almond Milk (you can use any milk you like, but I like the texture of almond milk in smoothies)

1 frozen banana (these go in almost all my smoothies – I peel, cut and freeze them when they start to get too ripe.  Be sure to pre cut them unless you have a better blender than I do!)

1 Tbs dark chocolate peanut butter (Peanut Butter & Co Brand. Whole Foods and my local Kroger both carry it..  It is pretty much the best thing ever.  The white chocolate is also great!)

1/2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder (Raise this to a full tablespoon if you aren’t using protein powder)

1 scoop chocolate protein powder (I like the Designer Whey brand.  It isn’t gritty and tastes great in smoothies.  You can also use vanilla, just add extra cocoa powder.  I like to add this because I am mostly vegetarian, and in the course of tracking my nutrients I realized that I don’t eat enough protein.  I try to eat more now, but I also like to supplement.  I notice a difference if my protein levels are really low!  You can, of course, leave this part out.)

1-2 scoops coffee beans, finely ground

1/2 tsp Xanthan gum (more below on this!)

Ice Cubes (start with 2, but you may need more)

Optional: 2 cups fresh spinach (I promise you will not taste it!  I was out, so none for me today, but I usually add some for the extra servings of veggies.)

Instructions

You will want your coffee beans ground extremely fine – either buy them this way at the store, or use a burr coffee grinder set to really fine (that’s what I do.)

Add all ingredients to the blender except the xanthan gum

I usually pulse a few times to break up the ice, then use the mix setting until I don’t hear any more chunks.  At this point you will add xanthan gum.  This is optional, but I find that it makes a huge difference in the texture of smoothies.  Ever wonder why yours turn out watery?  Many restaurants use this ingredient (which is natural, not scary and chemically like it sounds!)  It’s in lots of other products (salad dressing, toothpaste etc.)  You can buy it at any health food store (I use Bob’s Red Mill brand, which I got in the natural section of my local supermarket.)  It thickens and holds the mixture together.  However, you don’t want to use too much!  I start with 1/8 of a tsp, blend on liquify a few seconds and then check, adding more until I get the texture I want (this is generally around 1/2 tsp for me.)  You may need to add more ice.    That’s all – then it’s ready to drink!

Doesn’t everyone drink their smoothies out of a chalice?

 

I added 2 sweet n low packets, but they probably aren’t necessary.    The coffee grounds add an interesting texture (similar to oreos in a shake) and aren’t bothersome at all.  You could use decaf if you are concerned about caffeine, but I am pretty much on a caffeine drip all day (between coffee, black tea, and my sad Coke Zero addiction) so I barely notice.

My blender is a really nice KitchenAid, but I still lust after a Vitamix.  I was at Whole Foods last week and they were doing a demo, and it was totally amazing!  I have to tell you, I will be giving some consideration to buying a refurbished one down the line if I keep making so many smoothies and shakes!

Nutritional Info:

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday parties

There has been a distinct lack of sewing and blogging here this week.  We threw a holiday party of sorts for my chamber group last night, so my week was consumed by planning and cleaning for that.  Hosting parties always makes me nervous – I usually spend the days leading up to the affair convincing myself that no one will come, and that I will end up having to consume an entire Crockpot of Swedish meatballs and a case of wine all by myself.  Luckily, the party was a success, and I actually didn’t get any meatballs because they were consumed so quickly!  The meatball recipe I use is always a hit, and it takes about 15 seconds to prepare (minus the crockpot time!)

2 lbs of frozen meatballs (the best ones are the swedish meatballs from Trader Joe’s, but any frozen meatballs will do.)

1 can of Campbells cream of mushroom soup

1 packet brown gravy mix

1 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a crockpot and mix.  Set the crockpot for 6 hours and go away.  I usually avoid anything having to do with cream of something soup, but I swear to you, these are the best meatballs ever.  People never believe they were frozen.  Lots of people make BBQ meatballs for parties, but I’ve never liked those.  I bring these instead!

Now that the party is over, I can finish my holiday dress!

This actually only took me one day of sewing.  It’s completed except for the hemline – the pattern says to let it hang to stretch the bias, and believe me it is necessary!  The sides are noticeably longer, possible due to the yoke piece.  I will have notes about this pattern later, but I really like it.   I hope to have finished photos soon – I’m planning to wear this for Christmas eve!

 

Recipes from the past

It seems as though the less time I have for actual cooking, the more time I spend on the internet searching for recipes.  My standard cooking varies from Italian to Chinese and doesn’t include much else.  I’m a good cook, I just have this obsession with rice and noodles you see…

I’ll be on winter break from my job starting December 15th, and while the holidays are going to limit my cooking experiments, I’ve still been searching for recipes I want to try soon.  We are, for example, going to have some of our vegetarian friends over so that I have an excuse to cook vegetarian.  Given the choice I think it’s highly likely that I would slip into vegetarianism.  I was raised on a healthy diet, and meat doesn’t usually appeal to me all that much.  Marc doesn’t feel that a meal is complete without meat of some sort.  He tolerates my veggie cooking, but I occasionally catch him over at the fridge after dinner, eating a slice of lunch meat to round things out.

I want to make these Hungarian Hamburgers though.  I could not tell you how authentically Hungarian these are, but I can tell you that this recipe is a variation of my most requested food at my Grandmother’s house growing up.  I’m pretty sure she used ritz crackers instead of the bread, but other than that it’s her mother’s (my great-grandmother’s) recipe for hamburgers.  I had completely forgotten about these, and I’m so happy that I found the recipe.  They manage to be even worse for you than regular hamburgers, but I think they’re worth a splurge (and how happy Marc will  be when I cook them!)

Whew…

It’s been unseasonably warm here for a week. Last night we walked to trivia wearing short sleeves. I like warm weather as much as the next person, but enough already! I’m getting tired of having to keep all the windows and doors open. Tomorrow they’re predicting snow, which I’m not so happy about either. How about a comfortable medium?

Last night at work I had two cancellations, presumably because the weather is making everyone sick. In my free time then I gave the Jaywalker socks another try.

The yarn is Lorna’s Laces sock yarn in Lucky Stripe. Here’s a gratuitous yarn close-up.

They’re slightly more pink and less orange than they look here, but it’s pretty close. The pattern is going fine now that I got over my stubbornness and divided the stitches among 4 DPNs like the pattern calls for. I really prefer three, but after the laddering fiasco on Marc’s hat I think I’m going to learn to love using 4.

Marc is going out of town tomorrow, and since that’s my day off I’ll be bored. My friends are all busy, so in consolation I’m going to try to finish some Christmas shopping. I still need to buy for my Mom and get a few baking items to make cookies. Does anyone have a good cookie recipe they’d like to share? I’m open to anything except nuts.

I also realized that there are two LYS that I’ve never even been to, so tomorrow may be the day. One of my Mom’s friends recommends the Grinny Possum, which is in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Since we live downtown, Indiana is just a short little jaunt over the river. I also haven’t been to Sophie’s Fine Yarn shop. It’s in middletown, which is on the far east end of the city, and a good 25-30 minute drive. So I don’t know if I’ll make it there, but I was happy to see that the Grinny Possum carries Cherry tree hill and SWTC -yarns, neither of which are carried by “my” LYS. I love my LYS, but they have no sock yarn. Ok, they have wildfoote and Lorna’s laces, but not the Lorna’s colors I really want. They also have some of the self patterning yarn, but I’m not really into that. Of course, I may have to go there to fondle the Rowan Tapestry, since I’m not sure any other store in town carries rowan, and I’m still considering buying some. Hee… it always sounds so dirty when we talk about yarn shopping doesn’t it?

I spent 5 hours yesterday trying on everything I own and then sending 5 garbage bags of clothes to consignment or goodwill. Now we have room for my clothes, and I no longer am holding onto things that I feel guilty for not wearing. I personally think this achievement deserves yarn, but then I think every achievement deserves yarn.

Tonight we’re going out, since Marc will be in Lexington tomorrow. I’m trying to decide on a place. Nothing too crazy expensive, because I am cheap when it comes to food. I like good food, but I also like to cook, and I know how cheap pasta is. We were going to try Volare, but I decided it was too pricey. I would feel guilty. Instead I think we might go to Maido. We went there for Valentine’s last year and it was fabulous. It’s a sake bar, and sort of a Japanese Tapas bar if that makes any sense. You can get lots of little things, and they have great sushi too (just not a sushi bar to sit at). Japanese is by far my favorite food, and I’m glad so many new places have opened around here lately.

There is progress on the Clapotis, but I’m not taking pictures until I drop my first stitch, which should happen tonight. I want it to be finished for wearing around Christmas, so I’m going to focus on that (my poor socks will only be worked on when I’m out of the house.)