February 15, 2012

Spring Wreath

It may be February, but I've decided that Spring is starting. I'm sure I won't get too many complaints. It was time to take the Christmas wreath off the front door but I did not want to leave the door naked and so a spring wreath was created.

Love this wreath because it is inexpensive, easy, fast and no glue gun required. When I say fast and easy, I'm talking hit up Michael's on your way home from work and make this while your pasta is simmering...


3-5 strings of spring floral garland
1 woody wreath (mine is 21in)

Simply wrap the garland around your wreath, tucking the ends into the wood to secure. Try to space your flowers as evenly as possible.

Wa Lah! A spring garland!

I do know that it is voila not Wa Lah, but Wa Lah is just more fun.....

The Love Cookie

Have I mentioned to you guys that Thor and I are closet cookie monsters? Its true. In public we generally make very healthy food choices and never rarely order dessert, but at home, we sit down with with big piles of cookies. Just look at the picture below....

OK, so this was a special occasion... Valentines Day!! Thor came home from work and made me wait in the bedroom while he warmed up some yummy McKenzie River Pizza and set a table with a red table cloth, wine and candles. It was perfect! I took care of dessert by baking up a big batch of these dark chocolate, cherry, almond, oatmeal cookies. Then we snuggled on the couch, watched a romantic movie, drank wine and ate way too many cookies. Bliss.

This cookie might be one of my all time favorites. Chewy, sweet, nutty, chocolatey, vegan, whole wheat... whats not to love???

The Love Cookie

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup Earth Balance
scant 1 cup sugar
scant 1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp tahini, stirred into 1/2 cup almond milk
2 tbsp coconut milk (the canned stuff, not the milk replacement)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract (use all vanilla, if you like)
2 1/2 cups rolled or quick oats
2 cups semi sweet/dark chocolate chips
1 1/2 dried cherries
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda and powder, and the salt.  Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat the Earth Balance and the sugars until creamy. Add the tahini/almond milk mixture, then the coconut milk and the extracts.  Mix well.
3. With your mixer in low speed, add in half the flour mixture, mix well, then mix in the rest of the flour.
4. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips, cherries and nuts. Oil baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
5.  Drop by teaspoon on the sheet and bake for about 13 minutes.
You want them golden brown on the edges, so they stay chewy in the center. 

Cool on baking sheet for at least 1-2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

This makes kind of a lot of cookies... just under 4 dozen for me. Believe it or not we did not eat all of those. I have actually frozen over half the batch so will let you know how they do. Most cookies freeze really well.

I hope you all had a LOVEly valentines day. Love yourself a little and make some of these Love Cookies... 

February 5, 2012

Saturdays and Banana Nut Muffins

Lake Coeur d'Alene

 What is a Saturday like in our house? Well this weekend it consisted of waking up and doing some knitting, meeting a gal pal for a small hike on Tubbs Hill in Coeur d'Alene (above pic), vacuum shopping, and watching Inglorious Bastard (good movie but horribly violent) with a mug of hot cocoa. Nothing to spectacular but I think it was a pretty wonderful Saturday.

Almost every year for birthdays and Christmas, my little brother Blayne gets Thor some type of cleaning tool knowing how much Thor likes things clean. He was very happy today.....
Side note---- the clowny window trim was left in the house by the previous owners, I promise you its coming down soon!

Not in chronological order here but.....

Friday I visited Thor at work with some Banana Nut Muffins. They were a hit and since they are whole wheat and vegan and white sugar free, they were a guilt free hit!

Banana Nut Muffins

1 cup (appox 3 medium) mashed very ripe bananas
1/2 cup maple syrup ( can substitute with agave syrup) 
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup organic canola oil
1/2 tsp vanilla

2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg 

Brown Sugar for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
3.In another mixing bowl add the wet ingredients and mix well by hand or with an electric mixer. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.
4. Grease muffin tins or insert paper liners into the muffin cups. 
5. Spoon the batter into the cups and fill 3/4 full. Sprinkle tops with brown sugar and a couple of walnut pieces.

6. Bake for 20 minutes, the tops of the muffins should be golden brown. Let them cool for 10 minutes and enjoy these golden treats!

February 2, 2012

Holiday Soup

I can not believe that I have not blogged this soup yet. This is my go-to gloomy day soup. This is the soup that every time I make it Thor says "This is really good soup." (I think he forgets that he has had it before... ?!?)

The recipe is from one of my favourite bloggers Angie over at Oh She Glows. I am sure that she would be happy to know that her recipe has become a staple in my kitchen and that I am now sharing it with you!

This is the "Holiday Soup" because it contains spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and curry. I know you are questioning this, but somehow it all just works. I normally provide very generous measurements of these spices. Your house will smell divine and you will wish you had made a double batch. The soup freezes well so don't be shy about going ahead and doing just that.... 

Holiday Soup


1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup red quinoa, uncooked (I used the regular white because its what I had, be I recommend red)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 vegetable bouillon cube 
6 cups water, boiled
One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1.5-2 cups cooked black beans (about one 15oz can, rinsed)
1.5 tsp good-quality curry powder
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 cups baby spinach leaves, well rinsed and roughly chopped
1/2 salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent. Add the chopped carrots, chopped zucchini, and minced garlic. Continue to sauté for about 5-7 minutes.
2. Place your bouillon cube into a medium sized bowl. Boil 6 cups of water and pour over the bouillon cube. Stir well to dissolve. Add bouillon mixture, tomatoes, red quinoa, black beans, and spices + seasonings. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Add the roughly chopped spinach, stir well, and cover. Simmer on low for about 15-35 minutes. The longer you cook it the more the flavours will develop. Taste test and adjust seasonings if necessary. 

Serve with some warm bread and even maybe a side salad and you have yourself a hearty and healthy meal. You don't even need to tell your family what amazing super foods the quinoa and spinach are....

February 1, 2012

Lots of changes Max, lots of changes..

I miss you guys. Really, I do. You are my sounding board. My journal. My excuse to not feel totally crazy and narcotic cooking like a mad women and taking 20 pictures of a single dish of food. And like a true friend, whether I post daily or monthly, the relationship is much the same.

Well big news in my house.... its a new house!!! The beau and I moved out to Hayden, Idaho a couple of weekends ago and have been settling in nicely to our new home. Couple of points about the move..

1. Moving furniture is really not that much fun. Make sure you have a good solid relationship with the person you are moving furniture with and take a moment to make each other laugh at the craziness of it all.

2. Starting fresh is fun! Where should I put the plates? pictures? What kind of door mat do we want? It is a lot of questions and we spend a lot of time saying "we should get this", but at the end of the day it is so fun to make those decisions and get a fresh start.

The other thing that is getting a bit of a fresh start is my career. I decided that the hour commute to my former job was just too far to drive in a climate that can be snowy 5-6 months out of the year, and so I am currently job hunting here in Hayden, Idaho. I actually already found a little job teaching Zumba and yoga 4 times a week at a martial arts studio and got a call this morning from a bigger gym looking for Zumba subs.  In addition to teaching classes, I would also like to find another fun part time job where I can meet people and pick up some hours. I am thinking coffee but would be open to some other avenues too (dream job.....assistant vegan cook - not very probable in Hayden, ID).

Today on craigslist there was a job posting for a full time coffee shop manager. I am torn. I have done this before and enjoyed it but it was not what I envisioned for myself in Hayden. The job includes a salary and benefits but I would probably have to give up teaching group fitness classes to take the job.  Advise? Words of wisdom?? Should I just apply and worry about making the decision if I am actually even offered the job??


Well, that is something to think on for sure but let me leave you with a couple of pictures....

Hayden Lake - I live here!!!!!! OK, well I don't live on the lake but I do live in the town thats next to this lake...

Beautiful flowers sent to us from Thor's parents. Such a great surprise!

After YEARS of cooking with thrift store saucepans, I finally took the plunge and upgraded..the first meal? Pasta all Puttanesca of course!

Oops must go... the timer is beeping for "Holiday Soup for the Soul"... recipe coming soon!!!