Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The quest to bake without eggs

Another day of sickness today.

My eye is looking better - thank goodness. I can go to work if it only looks a little bad.

My cough. Oh my - it sounds horrible. So if you know me and hear me - no, I am not coughing up a lung. It only sounds like it.

I was under strict supervision at home - as is evident from the picture below.

One of my newest "vegan" ventures is beginning to bake vegan.

And for me one of the biggest hurdles is baking without eggs. Eggs are important for so many different reasons: they can act as a binding agent, help with color, they can thicken and reduce moisture loss. 

See?? They are important.

So, this is difficult. There are so many different options but everything I read pretty much says that it depends on what you are using the eggs for. Cookies. Cakes. Casseroles. It depends. 

Why does it have to be complicated??

I used banana in my Cherry Vanilla Baked Oatmeal which worked out fine. It gave me a thicker, tastier oatmeal - but it added a banana flavor. I also made these Whole Wheat Banana Bread Pancakes on Saturday for Preston. Of course there was banana - that's what it was supposed to taste like. (btw - he said it was like eating banana bread with syrup - WIN!)

Then I read that there are "vegan" egg substitutes. I have to research those. Or applesauce - but again with the flavor. Another option is avocado. Strange. 

So I tried it. I sure did.  Shhhh.....don't tell Preston. (wink wink)  Actually, once he ate one and said they were good I told him. So my secret is out! The only thing that would make this recipe not vegan are the chocolate chips. I found these chocolate chips on Amazon that I might have to try.

Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup flour (I used 1/2 all purpose and 1/2 whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable butter
1/2 cup Splenda
1/3 cup brown sugar/Splenda blend
2 tablespoons avocado (YUP!!!)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup chocolate chips (I use dark chocolate)
1 cup dried cherries (or cranberries)

Sift flour, baking soda & salt together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugars together.
Add the avocado and vanilla to the sugar mixture. Mix well. (no green)
Stir the flour mixture into the sugar/avocado mixture.

Stir in the the oats, chocolate and cherries until very well mixed.

Heat oven to 325 and bake 20 minutes.


Hugs & kisses!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

SO Delicious coconut milk products! YUM!!!

Last week was great. Once the detox was over I felt wonderful.

Then Monday came. And it wasn't enough that the weekend was over, no, it had to bring friends.

Pink eye.

And an upper respiratory infection.

So last week when I was giving Preston a hard time about being toxic. Yeah. I take that back.

I went to work yesterday feeling a little "crusty" and congested but knew I would be OK. By the time I left work my eye was starting to swell and it was nasty and red. By the time Preston got home it was almost completely swollen shut. Sigh.

I wore dark glasses when Preston took me to the Urgent Care. Very Audrey Hepburn. Complete with the black dress. Ha.

Eye drops. Z pack. Worked from home today. I ventured out to Wal Mart this morning for laundry soap and allergy medicine. I wore sunglasses. Yup. I have a feeling it will be another day at home tomorrow.

So, on to happier things.

I have a few new things in my refrigerator this week. I have been trying the SO Delicious dairy free products since last week. Overall I'm impressed.

First, the creamer. I started using the milk in my coffee at the beginning of last week but then I discovered the creamer. YUM. Creamy. Delicious. The serving size is 1 tablespoon which contains 10 calories, no fat and 1 gram of sugar. I saw on their websites that there are flavored varieties as well. On the hunt....
Next, the coconut milk. I liked it. Not sure I want to drink it straight but it was sweet and creamy. Might be yummy over cereal. Each serving has 80 calories, 6 grams of sugar and 1 gram of protein. There is also an unsweetened option as well as sugar free. Again, I'm still looking for these.
And the yogurt. The greek style. Y U M. Thick and creamy, lots of flavor. I had it for breakfast one morning, just like my normal greek yogurt, with added Grape Nuts cereal. Added some strawberries and it was awesome. They make regular yogurt too but I haven't found it yet. Still looking. The container had 140 calories, 27 carbs and 12 grams of sugar. Typical yogurt. It was not fat free.
And finally, the ice cream.
It was awesome! Very creamy, good flavor, little pieces of hard chocolate and lumps of cookie dough. And it was gluten free. The serving size was 1/2 cup and it was rich and filling. A serving contains 180 calories and 15 grams of sugar.

I'm excited about trying these products!

I'm excited because I have options.

Now I need to heal. Friday is Preston's birthday. Carrot cake cupcakes on the menu. Stay tuned.

Hugs & kisses.

Friday, March 23, 2012


Well, my first "vegan" week is almost over. And I made it - barely.

One thing I didn't know about going into this was "vegan detox". I think I will dub it "what the heck was I thinking sickness" but now that it's over I'm actually glad it happened.

Let me explain.

Wednesday started out like a regular day. My energy levels were high and I felt great! Lunch came and I was once again satisfied by its deliciousness...

About 2 pm I started feeling bad. It began with a sore throat. My wonderful FB friends and I agreed it must be those nasty allergens that blew in with our little cold front. By 3:15 or so I felt like someone had scraped my throat raw and then started beating me with a stick. Seriously - I felt just plain c r a p p y. Ugh. I left a little early determined to go home and sleep until it all went away. Once home I tried to play with my hyper puppy but literally felt like someone had sucked every ounce of life from my body. I ended up on the couch with a glass of ice water contemplating how pitiful I needed to sound so I didn't have to make Preston dinner. Turns out I didn't really even have to try, I just said I couldn't. He understood.

Of course he turned the tables on me after his pink eye/sore throat ordeal last week and immediately asked upon arriving home "What have you taken to help this?". My big, green doe-eyes said it all....nothing. Sigh.

He quickly dosed me with 500 milligrams of acetaminophen and pronounced me healed. Uh huh. This is what was happening: some unknown, outside force was pulling my body apart - at the joints. I felt like I was getting the flu or possibly being possessed by pain demons. Bed at 10 pm but sleep, for some odd reason, hung just out of my reach until sometime after 1am. It was a rough few hours.

3:30 am - I woke myself up because I was crying. In. My. Sleep. Crying. I got up and could hardly walk and then the chills hit me. After waking my sweetly dreaming husband he determined that my fever was over 100. Sigh. Some unknown medication and gentle orders to relax, calm down and go to sleep. Which I apparently had no problem with. I woke at 8:45 am the next morning DRENCHED in sweat. Thank goodness.

Apparently I suffered what is know as "vegan detox". Flu-like symptoms. Migraine-like headache. Body fatigue. All of the above. Thankfully I somehow avoided the odd body odor. Thank you Lord for small miracles. I spent my day on the couch with almost no appetite and that nasty "sick" feeling you get after you have a fever. Ugh. Happy to report that today, Friday, I felt amazing. Yup. You heard me. That might possibly be because the "meat" toxins in my body were leached out by a fever (yeah, pain demons or maybe meat demons).

And another big bonus? Changes in my blood sugar. I have been really struggling with my blood sugar - ALL DAY, EVERY DAY for the last 6 months. Short version: Dr. A changed my meds several months ago and apparently the new medicine did NOT work and my glucose levels skyrocketed. Uncontrollable. Fast forward to now: He put me back on the previous meds and we have seen some progress. This month he changed a twice daily injection to a new weekly form. Yay, fewer needles. Again, Thank you Lord. Current status: My doctor's biggest concern is that my blood sugar in the morning is SO high. I average anywhere from 197 to 250 in the morning. Yeah, not good. What my doctor and I finally determined on my last visit is this: how in the HECK am I supposed to have normal blood sugar at any time during the day if I have such a bad starting point. So true. So this morning, after my "detox", any guesses about my starting blood sugar?? A glorious 157. I almost fainted. Really. Never went over 175 ALL DAY. For me lately, that's amazing. Tonight when I got home from work it was 107. Which for you, whoever is reading this, is probably normal. Yeah, not me. I cried. I sure did and I'm not embarrassed one bit. Miracles. They happen.

So there you go!! I am almost all of the way through the first week and I have lived. Like I said, barely, but I survived!!

Tomorrow is another day. I'm actually going to eat salmon for dinner. Saturday is my only "meat" day. Not sure how I'm feeling about it but we will see how my body reacts.

I have some yummy new, non-dairy products to review next time I post.

Hugs & kisses!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I made it through the first day!! And the second! Yes!!

I know, it's silly. I was so proud of myself that I called my sister and told her I was still alive. Ha.

My energy level is good today and I feel great!

I started my day yesterday (and today) with my Baked Oatmeal (see my previous post), had a super yummy wrap both days for lunch and Lentil Chili for dinner. I ate some strawberries and frozen grapes for "dessert" last night and, although a delectable Cadbury Egg was screaming my name, I persevered and remained true to my cause. I checked the scale this morning too - I will share those results on Friday.

Oh, and I miss cheese. I heart cheese.

Onward I forge though....

Today I was going to take a beautiful picture of my wrap but I was so hungry I forgot. Epic fail. So here is a picture of the last few bites.

You can find the recipe for this here: Florida Avocado Summer Wrap. I used regular avocados and I'm pretty sure today's hummus was Sabra's Sun Dried Tomato Hummus. I also used a red onion instead of a sweet onion - glorious!! I marinated my onions and tomatoes in the vinegar and lime. They were perfect. Next time I make it I promise to take "preparation" pictures.

Last night I made Vegan Lentil Chili with Roasted Red Peppers, Olives and Green Onions. Another YUMMY recipe and again - no pictures. But it absolutely made enough for me to eat for the next few nights so here is a picture of it ready to serve.

The main change I made was I added garlic powder because I, the genius, forgot to buy garlic at the store. How could I, the woman who always triples or quadruples the amount of garlic forget the garlic. I mean I sometimes buy it just because I think I might not have enough which usually means I have a TON. But nope. One small clove. Disappointment.  Either scenario is possible. I also couldn't find red lentils so I just used extra green lentils as she suggests. I honestly thought this was SO good.

I would like to find a low-sodium chili powder. I swear I had one but I either used it all or I just imagined it.

So tomorrow is another wrap - which I will take pictures of and share.

Hugs &  kisses

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Vegan and Cherry Vanilla Baked Oatmeal


Just the word makes me cringe.

Changing my eating to vegan totally intimidates me.

No meat. No dairy. What am I supposed to eat?

Strangely enough, lots of stuff!

I'm trying it for 2 weeks. 

Today I made my breakfast for the week. Baked Oatmeal. 

You can find the original recipe at Dessert For Two. I made changes to make it "vegan" and I will give my version below. I also doubled the original recipe and instead of baking it in ramekins I used a casserole dish. I was thinking I would get 4 servings but it is honestly enough for 5 days. I packaged it up in individual containers and I'm good to go for the week!!

Over the next 2 weeks I will be sharing my recipes, my thoughts and hopefully my successes as I "go vegan". So stay tuned!!

Cherry Vanilla Baked Oatmeal (makes 4 to 5 servings)

2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
4 tablespoons brown sugar (I used 2 tablespoons Splenda brown sugar)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 banana, mashed
3 tablespoons vegetable based "butter", melted

1 cup dried cherries

Preheat the oven to 350. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

Spray a 9x9 inch casserole dish with canola spray. Spread the dried cherries on the bottom of the dish. Pour the mixed dry ingredients evenly over the cherries.

Mash the banana. In a large measuring cup whisk the 3 cups almond milk, the banana and the melted "butter" together. Pour evenly over the dry mixture.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the oatmeal is evenly baked. You can sprinkle extra brown sugar on the top and broil. Serve warm.

Hugs & kisses

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day

Are you wearing your green today?? Kaitlyn was practicing on Thursday. :)

Silly girl. 

Her green tongue was compliments of the batter for our Green Velvet Cupcakes. They are a beautiful kelly green color. The original recipe can be found on A Bitchin' Kitchen. I also used her frosting recipe that can be found here. I followed the original frosting recipe and left out the cinnamon and the food coloring. These turned out gorgeous!!!

I love a good Red Velvet cake. My Mother makes one a year for my Dad on his birthday. She doesn't use cream cheese frosting - instead it's a delicious butter icing. The weather has to be just right or it gets "melty". So I thought I would try these velvety green beauties.

So here we go.

We mixed our wet ingredients and added the leaf green coloring at the end. We used half of this container of coloring.

Once you combine your wet ingredients, beat in your dry ingredients and get a bright green batter.

It was super thick and tasted yummy!! (just ask Katie)

The frosting is a cream cheese frosting with powdered sugar. I used ALL 2 pounds of powdered sugar to get it thick enough to make the cupcakes pretty.

They turned out so pretty!!! Pretty enough to eat. 

Green Velvet Cupakes

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

2 eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ounce green food coloring (or half of a container of gel coloring)

Lightly beat the eggs. Then add the other ingredients and mix until blended.

Add the dry ingredients TO the wet ingredients and mix on medium for about 1 minute.

Bake at 350 for 17 - 19 minutes.

This recipe makes 24 regular size cupcakes.
Cream Cheese Frosting
2 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter, softened
2 lbs powdered sugar

Cream the butter and cream cheese together. Slowly add the powdered sugar.

Hugs, kisses & Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pi Day

So today was fun.

Not really "fun".....

Preston woke up this morning with his eye swollen and "goopy". Yup, that's the term.

Diagnosis - Conjunctivitis aka pink eye.


Yay Spring Break.

At least he was able to spend the day with Kaitlyn. Of course no touching, lots of hand washing and hand sanitizer - but together.Well, actually it was a lot sleeping for Preston but at least he was home with us.

I love my husband - even when he's toxic and infectious.

So tonight Kaitlyn and I celebrated National Pie Day (you know, 3.14) by making Black Bottom Banana Cream Pie.

<insert gratuitous cute puppy picture> What???

Start with 38 vanilla wafers.

Crush them.

Combine the crushed wafers with butter and sugar.

Mix completely - set aside 2 tablespoons - and press the remaining wafer mixture into the pie plate.

Melt semi-sweet chocolate and butter and spread on top of the crust. Top with sliced bananas.

Mix instant vanilla pudding and spread over the bananas.

Top with fresh whipped cream and the remaining 2 tablespoons of the crust mixture.

Yummy. Simple. Divine.

You can use Cool Whip but Kaitlyn asked "can we please have the cream you make yourself - it tastes SO much better than the stuff from the store". Why of course!! Fresh whipped cream it is!!

Black Bottom Banana Cream Pie

38 vanilla wafers
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar (or 2 tablespoons Splenda)

4 1 ounces squares semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons butter

1 to 2 bananas

Instant vanilla pudding (I use sugar free)
1 3/4 cups milk

1 8 ounce carton whipping cream
1 tablespoons sugar (or Splenda), or to taste

Crush the vanilla wafers. Mix the crushed wafers, the 4 tablespoons melted butter and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the crust mixture. Press the crust mixture into and up the sides of a 9 inch pie plate.

Melt the 4 squares of semi-sweet chocolate with the 2 tablespoons of butter in a microwave safe bowl. Spread over the crust.

Slice the bananas and place in the chocolate layer before it hardens.

Mix the instant vanilla pudding and the milk until thickened. Spread over the bananas.

Whip the cream and sugar until fluffy and spread over the pudding. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of the crust mixture over the cream.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Hugs & kisses

Monday, March 12, 2012

Nature, Dinosaurs and Parmesan Pork Chops

Happy Spring Break!!!

I'm exhausted and it's only Day 1. Sigh.

Kaitlyn and I were up early for pancakes (pancakes for her not for me!). We then drove to Boerne and spent part of the morning at The Cibolo Nature Center with Mom, Sondra and Olivia.

This place is beautiful, free and a great place for an adventure. We walked a trail, looked at butterflies and flowers, saw some poison ivy (or oak - not sure which), skipped rocks in Cibolo Creek and walked in dinosaur tracks. Did you know there were dinosaur tracks in Boerne, TX? I sure didn't so I learned something today!

Then we had ourselves a little picnic, hit a few shops in Boerne and headed out with a sleepy baby in tow. And a SUPER sleepy Marisha. Being on "vacation" allowed me to delve into the fabulousness that is: the afternoon nap. Ah yes.

Whenever Kaitlyn is here I am trying to let her spend time in the kitchen helping me. She has always asked in the past and I think it's a great way for her to learn.

Dinner tonight included one of my favorites, Parmesan Pork Chops. 

It is one of my favorites because it's SUPER simple!! This is Kaitlyn breading the pork chops and then I cooked them.


Parmesan Pork Chops

Center cut pork loin chops
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 egg
1 - 2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
Olive oil

You will need 2 plates and 1 small bowl. Place the whole wheat flour on the first plate.

 In the small bowl mix the egg and the water.

Combine the whole wheat bread crumbs and the Parmesan on the third plate.

Coat both sides of the pork chop with the flour, dip in the egg mixture and dredge in the bread crumb/Parmesan mixture.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, non stick skillet. Brown pork chops on each side until cooked completely, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Serve warm!

More updates for Spring Break as the week progresses.

Hugs & kisses

Friday, March 2, 2012

Eating in Fort Worth - Blue Mesa

Eating in Fort Worth. I think I'm loving it more. 

Today was "go home" day (YAY) but it was also our department's "Annual Statement Lunch". I usually miss the lunch because I'm in San Antonio but Shannon planned it this year so I could be there. Thanks Boss!! 

Today's lunch was at Blue Mesa Grill

I LOVED it. Not just the food either! The company was awesome too. I don't get to spend a lot of time with my Fort Worth coworkers so it was fun to laugh and talk through lunch.

I started with iced tea - seemed simple enough but nope. Theirs is Passion Fruit tea and it was yummy! Then we munched on some chips with salsa. They had both white corn and blue corn tortilla chips AND sweet potato chips. Awesome. 

They also served two different salsas. One was their basic salsa and then a roasted version of the same. Both were HOT but good! There was quite a debate about which one was hotter - we just ate more chips with salsa but never really came to decision.

I wanted to order something healthy but also something that wouldn't cause my blood sugar to spike super high while driving 4 1/2 hours home. I ordered the Red Chile Crusted Salmon - "pan seared fresh salmon filet with a mild chile crust, lime butter sauce and mango relish. Served with ginger rice and grilled asparagus." Feast your eyes on this delicious goodness!!

Yes, it was as amazingly delicious as it looks in the picture.

I also saw Street Tacos, the Navajo Chicken Salad, Smoked Chicken Enchiladas and the Blue Mesa Churrascaritas. The Churrascaritas were served with these super thick, doughy looking tortillas but after reading the menu I discovered these were actually their Mesa Panna Bread. Everything was very colorful and I think almost everyone enjoyed their food.

After my two little food adventures in Cow Town this week I have decided to try and find at least one place that is "native" to the DFW area when I visit and blog about it. I honestly don't really leave the Fort Worth area but who knows how adventurous I might get!

So now I'm back home and hopefully this week will bring more cooking. I might possibly be making some BIG changes to my diet in the next week so I will keep everyone posted.

Hugs & kisses!

Eating in Fort Worth - Oliver's Fine Foods

I'm going to start this by saying I LOVE DOWNTOWN FORT WORTH. Love it.

Filled with old buildings, cobblestone streets. shady trees and plenty of yummy places to eat I would love to work down here every day. I hear that sometimes they even run the cattle through downtown reminiscent of the old "cow town" days. Awesome. And when I stay down here at night I feel safe enough to walk to eat dinner or just to pick something up to bring back to the hotel. 

Sometimes I'm lucky enough to stay at the Hilton Fort Worth (right next door to the building I work in). I love this hotel and it's remembrance of JFK. This hotel was formerly the Hotel Texas where JFK stayed the night before he was assassinated in Dallas. Such an amazing piece of our history. This time I wasn't staying downtown but enjoyed my week anyway. 

Lunch on Thursday was with my wonderful boss and our HR girls. We don't all get to go together very often so it was a highlight of my week! We ventured out into a sunny and mid 70 degree day in downtown Fort Worth. Complete with a wonderful breeze it made for the perfect day to walk through downtown. After walking a few blocks we ended up at Oliver's Fine Foods. Apparently this little deli/mini grocery store caters to those who are financially able to live in downtown Fort Worth. I. LOVE. IT. Not only did we have a great lunch we had extra time to walk through the "grocery" section, check out their "prepared foods" display and gaze longingly at the desserts. The grocery section came complete with samples of some delicious queso and a red pepper creamy dip. Awesome to have samples while waiting to order at the deli counter! I also found these SUPER CUTE treats to take home to Shiner (I promised to bring him something).

It was a good lunch with great friends who I miss when I'm in San Antonio. 

I had a super yummy Chicken and Artichoke Press with NO fries or chips (YAY me!!). Also at my table were the Cheeseburger with fries, the Gyro with fries and the Greek Salad. No one had food left so I am going to say we all enjoyed our meals. We did notice, after ordering, the presence of Sweet Potato Fries on other people's plates and swore to return and enjoy that yummy goodness. So I'm happy to report that I highly recommend Oliver's Fine Foods in downtown Fort Worth.

Hugs & kisses!


Traveling. I seem to have a love/hate relationship with it.

I love it because I get to sleep in a big, soft, comfy bed with fresh sheets.

I don't like it because I get to sleep in a big, soft, comfy bed with fresh sheets - all alone.

I love it because, thankfully, I have family where I go and it is always fun to see them when I'm here. I don't get to see them often enough and I love catching up.

I don't like it because I don't like being away from Preston. I don't like being away from Shiner. I don't like being away from my kitties. I just don't like to be away from home.

I also love traveling because it's a week away from cleaning house or making dinner (sorry Preston).

I don't like it because I have to eat out. I'm a person who already struggles with making sure I'm eating right so throw in an entire week of take out or restaurant food and I'm not struggling anymore - I'm simply drowning!

Traveling gives me too much time on my hands and not enough to fill it. This week has been pretty productive. I have exercised every evening, tried VERY hard to get caught up on reading emails and blogs, actually worked on crocheting a scarf I have been TRYING to finish, and did a little shopping. I wasn't able to spend time with family because I worked a little longer than normal but I know I will be back soon!

But honestly, the BEST thing about traveling? Going home.

Hugs & kisses