Potassium Punch

One of my favorite restaurants in Nashville is Wild Cow. It’s a vegetarian restaurant and it’s delish. The have lots of smoothies (vegan style) on their menu, one of my favorite being the Potassium Punch. The menu says it includes banana, avocado, kale and coconut water. Simple enough…so simple that I decided to try making it at home.

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The only problem is that the Wild Cow menu does not state how much of each ingredient they use. I had to guess and play around with the fruits and veggies until it tasted right. I used one banana, one 16.9 oz container of coconut water, 1-2 leaves of kale and half an avocado. I also added flaxseed and chia seeds to mine because I had them and I figured, why not?

ingredients
woops, misspelled avocado!

Then, I just blended it up…

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And, voila! Delicious and healthy smoothie!

potassium punch

After this batch I added lemon and it made it even better! The little zing it added was a nice and needed touch. Any of you have a good smoothie recipe you like to make at home? I’ve been smoothie crazy lately!

OH and BTW, my Dad’s surgery went really well! They got the whole tumor out, they are 99% sure it’s benign and it went much faster than predicted. The recovery is going to be long, and it’s pretty painful so far, so keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you all SO MUCH for the MANY kind messages I received all day yesterday. It truly made a difference!

Cheers!

Monday Funday

You probably know now that my weekends consist of Sunday and Monday. I actually had to go to work both Sunday and today (only for a couple of hours), but that didn’t ruin my weekend. Husband has been out-of-town, as well as sister-in-law, so I decided to use the weekend for some much needed relaxation, organizing and cleaning. Fun right? I had a great brunch yesterday with several relatives and spent the rest of the day shopping (only for necessities of course…yes, Husband, Sephora is necessary).

Today, I had a doctor appointment,  a little work, but the rest of the day was glorious. I woke up to snuggles from my love pup and a very sunny city.

photo IMG_4852Belle and I took a nice walk, searched for new homes, played with her new toy (Petunia the porcupine) and bought some Gerber daisies to brighten up the desk.

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After I left the doctor, I rewarded myself with Starbucks, a great phone conversation with one of the best girls I know, and a coffee date with another good friend.

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Got to love the trains.
Got to love the trains.

I also got to snuggle my cat-nieces to death today. I’m the best sister-in-law ever and I’ve been cat sitting for Zoey for the last four days. These cats are super needy, but I still love em’.

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Now, I’m home eating delicious delivered vegan food (“chicken” and avocado sandwich, fries and a butterfinger “milkshake”) and watching the worst guilty pleasure, The Bachelor. Belle is busy being a Diva and hogging my favorite pillow.

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It’s been fun, but I can’t wait to see Husband tomorrow!

Cheers!

Never Know What to do With Squash

I must be sick. Over the last month I have been cooking. Not like, toast and microwavable nuggets cooking, like real chop-up-the-veggies and use the oven cooking.  I don’t know what’s come over me, but I’ve come home from work a few times in one week and started slaving away in the kitchen like I’m Donna Reed.

I made a huge Mexican feast one night and I did not even use canned beans or instant Spanish rice! Do you know how long it takes to cook dried beans and real Spanish rice??? A long-ass time! It was delicious though, so I guess it was worth the time it consumed; I felt incredibly accomplished when I finished eating and Husband did the dishes.

We order most of our groceries online from Fresh Direct, and have them delivered to our door because we are real New Yorkers, and real New Yorkers get everything delivered. (Also, it’s actually a little cheaper to get them online, and it’s worth having someone else carry all your groceries up four flights of stairs!). The one problem with online grocery shopping is not being able to see the immense pile of groceries flowing over your virtual shopping cart.

It is too easy to just “click, click, click” away, and end up with items you will never actually eat. I try to avoid over shopping by keeping a list on the fridge that I update anytime I notice we are out of something, or need something specific. That way, when it’s time to order more, I have an exact list to follow. Although, somehow, those sneaky little “On Sale Summer Clearance Fresh Super Cheap Items” advertisements always overpower my list and I still end up with 36 bottles of seltzer water at my door the next day.

The most recent order I made, I “accidently” bought 2 pounds of squash. I like squash, but really, what the hell was I thinking buying 2 pounds of squash and nothing else to compliment it? It wasn’t like I had a squash recipe idea in mind.

Eventually, the dreaded end-of-edible-groceries-in-the-fridge-time came, and all that was left was the squash and a few random ingredients. I decided to google a recipe for squash casserole….hoping we’d have enough to make something work.

I ended up combining about 3 different recipes, picking and choosing the ingredients we had, and invented my own casserole recipe. Because casseroles (like soup, sandwiches, and salads) are the kind of dishes you can just add random ingredients too, and they will still turn out decent. I half followed each casserole recipe, threw in a few of my own ideas, and came up with a pretty yummy dish.

First, I sliced the all the squash and boiled the slices until they were tender.

 

Next, I drained the water and mashed all the squash slices with my potato masher.

 

Third, I added about a cup of milk, about a cup of vegetable broth, and a couple handfuls of shredded parmesan to the mashed squash.

 

After this, I beat one egg, and added it with some of my favorite seasonings to the mixture.

 

Then, I coated a casserole dish with olive oil and put the casserole mixture in the dish.

I’m such an olive oil snob, and this is amazing olive oil!!!!! You MUST try it.

 

I topped off the casserole with 3 different toppings because I couldn’t decide which would taste butter. On one third I used crushed croutons, another third I used crushed tortilla chips, and on the last third I used some left over crumbled cornbread.

I cooked the casserole on 375 degrees for about 35 minutes, and tada!

 

Just call me Hilarie Crocker.

I don’t know what’s come over me, but I hope this cooking phase doesn’t last too long…I’d hate for Husband to lose his touch.

Cheers!

Husband’s Surprise

As previously mentioned, I am TERRIBLE at surprises. I always get too excited and spill the beans way beforehand. A typical conversation around Christmas would sound a lot like this:

Me: I went shopping today!

Husband: That’s cool.

Me: I got you a surprise…

Husband: Uh-huh.

Me: ……soooo, you want to know what it is??!!??

Husband: You don’t have t…

Me: Okay fine! I’ll tell you!

So, when I found out husband was less than thrilled to swim with manatees(wtf?), I had to very quickly plan a last-minute surprise for his wedding present. This turned to be a blessing because it gave me very little time to keep the surprise a secret, which I did! Yay me!

Last Thursday, I got off of work at lunch time, ran home, and told Husband to get ready for a special date. I decided to make a full day of my surprise. Since Husband loves going on new walks around the city, our first stop was “The Jewish Lower East Side”. I walked Husband around while reading him the description of what used to be the largest Jewish neighborhood in the world.

Our 2 mile walk ended at Essex St, and we just happened to end right in front of a restaurant that Husband has been dying to try, Beauty and Essex. Beauty and Essex is a really cool restaurant that fronts as a hip pawn shop full of guitars and vintage toys. At the back of the pawn shop is a large door that opens up the secret lounge/bar/restaurant in the back.

(I stole these pics from their website. They were just so much better than mine.)

The pawn shop
The restaurant
The upstairs lounge

The food was DELICIOUS…though very little available for vegetarians. The decor and ambiance were really unique and fun. We felt like we were eating in Casablanca and thought Humphrey Bogart could walk in at any moment. The service was pretty crappy though. All the waitresses were very pretty and young girls, dressed in sexy little numbers and five-inch heels, but they hung out in the corners on their cell phones the whole time. Which would have worked out fine if I could have texted them my order.

After dinner was the grande finale! I took Husband to see the 2012 Tony award winner for “best play”, Clybourne Park. 

The play is about a neighborhood in 1959 who is debating selling a house to an African-American family. Act 2 takes place 50 years later, and the neighborhood, now predominately African-American, is trying to keep a white family from moving into the same house and gentrifying (is that a word?) the neighborhood. There are some obvious serious tones and themes throughout the play. Some scenes were even tear-jerkers, but most of the play is pretty darn hilarious. It’s a must-see.

Husband loved his surprises, and I love that I actually managed to pull off a surprise. I’ll have to try surprising him more often.

Cheers!

Vegan = Yummy

Vegan food can be delicious. There is an FANTASTIC vegan restaurant right around the corner from us that serves up some really incredible dishes that do not have meat or dairy. I don’t know how they do it, but I’m pretty sure it’s magic. I am lucky enough to know the owners (I teach their grandchildren), and they are the nicest, most down to earth, most generous people, and the most loving grandparents, which just makes me love their restaurant that much more.

I am not a vegan, just wish I was. I am a vegetarian, and I am also (unfortunately) lactose-intolerant, so I am pretty dang close to vegan. And when I eat vegan food I feel super healthy, like I am somehow beating all of the terrible diseases I fear I may have. Stuffing my face with animal-free food will somehow fend off all illnesses right?

I think so.

Anyways, I am happy that NYC offers us some delicious vegan options. It tastes way less healthy than it is, which is a plus in my book. Just take a look at some of the great dishes we ate over the weekend.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Lemonade strawberries, rhubarb, lemon, agave, ice
MOROCCAN SPICED CHICKPEA CAKE
seasonal vegetables, red pepper-coconut curry, date-apricot-ginger chutney, toasted almonds
MOROCCAN SPICED CHICKPEA CAKE
seasonal vegetables, red pepper-coconut curry, date-apricot-ginger chutney, toasted almonds
SPAGHETTI & WHEAT BALLS
truffled tomato sauce, roasted garlic, spinach, cashew parmesan
TEMPEH VEGETABLE TAMALE
quinoa pilaf, sautéed spinach, pumpkin seeds, chocolate mole sauce, guacamole, sour cream, mango salsa
GRILLED KALE
haricots verts, beluga lentils, red onions, turnips, avocado,sunflowerseeds,speltberries, chive vinaigrette
STUFFED AVOCADO
baby greens, quinoa, zucchini, spring peas,
cucumber, radishes, toasted pumpkin seeds, grape tomatoes, chipotle-avocado dressing
GUACAMOLE TIMBALE
chipotle black beans, caramelized onions, cucumber-mango salsa, tortilla chips, ranchero sauce

And that was only a fourth of what was on the table. It was way too much, but we ate it all and are healthier for it I am sure. I am pretty positive that Vegan food burns calories while you eat it.

Has anyone else tried a vegan diet? Anyone know of any easy vegan recipes? If so, please share! Until then, I’ll be eating some vegan chocolate bars and ordering some delivery vegan pizza. Gotta love NY!

Cheers!

Best Sandwich Ever

For about two days I did not eat out,  buy Starbucks, online shop, or anything else at all. I was still feeling guilty about my shopping spree that I did nothing to earn, so I thought I’d save some money by making myself meals and coffee for a couple days.

Venturing into the kitchen can be an extremely messy and frightening experience for me.

Every morning, I blindly stumble into the kitchen, and manage to start a pot of coffee with just the mere memory of where everything is placed in my kitchen. I then shower*, and it’s around the time that I dry my face off that I feel like my eyes are open and the smell of coffee reminds me that I made coffee and that I do have a reason to get up at such a painful hour.

After drinking a pot of coffee, and finally waking up, I look around the kitchen….horrified…then turn to Belle (who is whining for breakfast) and say, “WHO made this mess Belle?!?!”

The kitchen looks as if a mad person sprinkled coffee grinds on every inch of counter space, dripped water on the floor, the rugs, and down the side of the coffee maker, and took out 3 different coffee mugs.

I’d like to blame this behavior on the fact that I make coffee while still asleep, but my own Mother and Fiance will be all too happy to tell you that this is always how I behave in the kitchen…no matter what the hour. “If you follow any trail of crumbs it is sure to lead to Hilarie.” ~Mom

Even when I try extra hard to be neat while cooking, someone else will walk in and immediately have a look of shock upon their face. “How did you get avocado in your hair?” ~Fiance

Even though I am an obvious mess, I stuck with my plan to cook for myself. (You should know that Fiance was out of town for the weekend so I was really left to fend for myself.)

My first meal was what I will call “The Best Damn Vegetarian Sandwich You Will EVER Have – made by Hilarie”. That’s right I made it, and it was FANTASTIC. Here’s how I did it.

Ingredients:

wheat bread, mayonnaise, cilantro hummus (but any hummus will work), arugula, vegan pepper jack cheese, cherry tomatoes, orange bell pepper, cucumber, avocado, vegetarian chicken nuggets, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and some random seasonings

Directions:

I pretty much treat my sandwiches like my soups…I just throw all my favorite things together and wish for the best.

First, cook four fake chicken nuggets on a skillet. They turn out crunchy this way, the microwave just makes them mushy. I typically still make them in the microwave because I am impatient, but I was trying to be a real chef this day.

Next, toast the bread. Then, spread the mayonnaise and hummus. After these grueling steps, just toss all the veggies on (after you chopped them up of course), put on the hot nuggets, and add the cheese.

The last step is to add the extra flavor. I pretended to be a Subway sandwich maker and top off my sandwich with olive oil and vinegar, and some seasonings that I like…I think I used some Italian seasonings and pepper.

Viola!

Best sandwich ever

It was so good it was even worth the disaster left in the kitchen. If it wasn’t for my very strong fear of roaches, I would have left the mess until Fiance returned from Pittsburgh.

I hope you enjoyed my super easy vegetarian cooking lesson.

Cheers!

*This is kind of a lie. I do not shower every morning…In fact I only wash my hair every 2 or 3 days, BUT I do wash my face every morning, which can often take as long as a shower.

Dinner Time!

It’s no secret that I am not a very good cook, nor do I enjoy it much. Every once in a while though, I get hungry, and Fiance refuses to cook. Often when this happens we just order delivery. Tonight though, I had inspirateion from Pinterest…Pinspiration as I’d like to call it!

I found a recipe on Pinterest for Taco Soup. I LOVE tacos! And, the one thing I can kind of cook is soup! Soup is so easy, just throw some stuff in a big pot, add a bunch of seasoning, and voila! Soup!

This recipe sounded super simple (right up my ally), and was really easy to turn into a vegetarian dish. (Did I mention I’m a vegetarian?) Anyways, here’s what I used to make my soup.

I would have used garlic, but we were out and neither one of us was willing to leave the apartment and walk the 40 feet to the grocery store on the corner.

First I chopped all the veggies with my new veggie chopper (God bless wedding registries!). As you can see I do not allow cooking to make me miss out on anything. This includes the premier of Fashion Star, so I chopped on the living room rug.

Next, I sautéed the veggies in olive oil until they were squishy and a little brown. When the veggies started to cook a little I went ahead and added my fake ground beef (Morning Star). It’s already cooked, but it’s frozen, so I let it heat up with the chopped veggies.

Then, I rinsed the beans and added them. I added the cans of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, corn and seasonings  at the same time. Lastly, I added about a cup and a half of water.

I stired, put the lid on, and let it cook on low for a while so that all the seasonings would soak in. I tasted it about 20 minutes later. It was good, but needed to cook a little longer. I let it keep cooking as I left to do better things. That’s the great thing about soup.

About an hour later I remembered I was cooking… woops. Soooo the bottom of the soup was a little burnt.

Eh, it’s not mine if it’s not a little burnt! It was still great, and we added some cheese to top it off. (Soy cheese for me.) I ate the next day on top of a plate of kale to make an extra healthy taco salad. Yum!

You know what the best part of the whole endeavor was???

Fiance got to do the dishes, woohoo!

Cheers!