Thanksgiving Challenge

Last year at this time I was in full-out Thanksgiving dinner mode. See last year’s post here. This year I thought I was going to cruise through the weekend with absolutely no stress in sight. Alas, here I am on Thanksgiving Monday in the throes of assembling something “wow-worthy”. If not for my family’s enjoyment then at least my own sense of accomplishment. Here’s the thing…since we went to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving for a couple of days I figured that I wouldn’t feel like preparing one myself so I didn’t fill my fridge and pantry with any of the necessary ingredients. This Thanksgiving Day I have decided to challenge myself by putting together a full spread with a near empty kitchen. I seem to like this type of challenge since I do this type of thing frequently. I cook with the spirit of adventure – trying new things is great fun and I seldom use recipes except to bake.  I am sticking to an Autumn harvest theme in celebration of the season.

 

At present I have a luscious smelling pot of pumpkin and roasted garlic soup simmering on the stove. It is chock full of delicious organic ingredients and fresh herbs from my garden. In the oven is a cauliflower roasting away with real butter (mmmm…) and a sweet mesquite spice blend.  I have yet to sort out a main dish but I suspect a chickpea something or other is about to be concocted.  I’ll report back on that if anyone is interested in the comments below.  Cyndi over at Healthy A-Z inquired as to whether I would be making the gluten-free pumpkin pie that I made last year. She inspired me to do so. Sadly, my cupboards were void of the necessary items so I have decided to whip up a spiced custard and serve with baked apples. 

 

This time of year encourages me to get busy in my kitchen and get back to the simplicity of great food using what is being harvested. Soups and stews fill my foodie brain and I enjoy the run out to the back garden to snip herbs for whatever is in the works on the stove. I am usually hopping from stone to stone down the garden path in my bare feet and quickly darting back into the warmth of my fragrant kitchen with my arms full of healthy goodness.  

 

To all of my fellow Canadians, may you be filled with thanks for all of your blessings and enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family. To all the non-Canadians, let the spirit of gratefulness bring you peace at this splendid time of year.

 

 

 

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”  – Oprah Winfrey

 

 

 

 

Let’s Eat Cake

In conclusion to my post The Countdown Is On ,  I have decided to invite you to share a piece of birthday cake with me and a few friends. To enjoy my 40th birthday even more – and drag it on even longer – I decided to throw myself a party. Why not, right? The premise of the party was to celebrate friendship. To have an evening to enjoy each others’ company, have some laughs and savour a few glasses of wine. Oh, and eat birthday cake of course!  Only a couple of photos were selected due to a fun wine tasting where all bottles were consumed plus a few extra. I’m sure you catch my drift. Let’s eat cake!

 

 

 

birthday girl cutting the cake

birthday girl cutting the cake

 

 

 

 

Normally birthday cake does not thrill me. Unless it is a unique flavour or light and airy. I decided against heavy chocolate or something sickeningly sweet and decided to make my own cake. In my 40 years on earth I have found that the best way to get what I want is to do it myself. Don’t you agree? So, I searched high and low (ok, I scoured through tonnes of cake recipes on pinterest) for just the right one. Here is the recipe I decided upon if you are interested – there were a few of you that have asked for the recipe after eating your slice – Orange Layer Cake. The homemade orange curd (filling) was delicious. This recipe is definitely a keeper.  I didn’t use the frosting recipe included but opted for a light cream cheese icing instead. My daughter was given creative license to add embellishment as she saw fit and put hot pink candy-covered chocolates and a fresh cherry on top for good measure.

 

 

 

Cake anyone?

Cake anyone?

Would you care for a slice?

This year, something changed inside of me. I realized that a birthday is no longer just about the person that was born on that particular day but also about those that they choose to share their days with. Those individuals that make us happy and that it feels good to be around. In the name of friendship, thank you.

`The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.` – Oprah Winfrey

Greening It Up for My Blogiversary!

One year ago today I decided to give WordPress a go, encouraged by my friend Crystal over at Change My Body, Change My Life. I am so glad I took her advice. Over the past year I have grown immensely (not in size, but in self-confidence and spiritually) thanks to making myself find words for what I was thinking and experiencing. Thank you to all of you that have read my blog and encouraged me. WordPress bloggers are an incredible group of individuals and I thoroughly enjoy the camaraderie that takes place. I have even made a few new friends to boot! So, once again thank you to all of you that not only visit me here at Live Love Be Green and/or on my Facebook page Live Love Be Green but that also create your own fascinating blogs that capture my imagination and that makes time well-spent reading what you have to say.

 

 

 

So, since it is not only my one year anniversary of blogging but is also St. Patrick’s Day I thought I would try something new and fun with a poll. I am just trying to get the idea of how to create a poll so bear with me if it is lame.

 

 

For our St. Patrick’s Day celebratory dinner I made a vegetarian shepherd’s pie (yum) with a fresh mesclun salad and a mouth-watering pint of Guinness for me. For dessert I lovingly baked a Chocolate Guinness cake with salted caramel drizzle. Holy heaven on a dessert plate! I shall leave you with thoughts of Guinness Cake. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Chocolate Guinness Cake with salted caramel drizzle

Chocolate Guinness Cake with salted caramel drizzle

“May you live a long life Full of gladness and health, With a pocket full of gold As the least of you wealth. May the dreams you hold dearest, Be those which come true, The kindness you spread, Keep returning to you.”  –  Irish blessing

Snack Attack!

I love snacks but they have to be worth having or forget about it. I have learned the hard way about choosing wisely when it comes to snacking. This time of year is especially difficult for me to snack wisely since all I really want to do is what Nature intends for us to do and pack in calories to get us through the winter here in this chilly climate.  I have started making my own healthy snack options for a couple of reasons.

1: I don’t want to munch on crappy junk food.

2: Eating something just because it’s “healthy” is pointless unless you actually like it.

3: Cutting out extra sugar and sodium is easy when you are the one to decide how much to use.

4: There is nothing wrong with being frugal.

5: I really, really like to cook and bake.

One of the latest snack crazes that has risen to popularity in our house is  Roasted Chickpea Bites. These little guys pack a serious nutritional one-two punch while satisfying the need for salty or sweet (or both). One cup of chickpeas contains 10 grams of protein, approximately 15% of your RDA of iron, 6% of your RDA of calcium, 7 grams of fibre and 0 mg of cholesterol. I’m in love. Sure the calories may be on the high side at 220 calories/cup but I’m okay with that. Everything in moderation, right?

Chickpeas

Chickpeas

 

 

 

I thought you might enjoy these tasty morsels as well so I am going to share with you so you can snack-on without guilt.

Roasted Chickpea Bites

large 796 mL (28 oz ) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

olive oil

seasonings of your choice

Preheat oven to 350*F.

After rinsing the chickpeas well, pour them into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with approximately 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil,  add your seasonings (today I used 1 tbsp of my favorite madras curry powder and 2 tbsp maple syrup), and stir.

Gathering the ingredients.

Gathering the ingredients.

 

 

Mix well to ensure each lovely little orb is coated with deliciousness.

Pour the chickpeas and any liquid onto a rimmed baking sheet. Don’t use a flat cookie sheet without a rimmed edge or you will have chickpeas all over the place, no matter how steady your hand is. I know this from experience!

Chickpeas on baking tray.

Chickpeas on baking tray.

 

 

 

Put the chickpeas into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes. Wiggle the tray around every 10 minutes or so just to ensure even cooking and so the chickpeas  don’t stick to the tray. I like my chickpea bites to still be soft in the centre but crispy on the outside so after 25-30 minutes I put the oven onto broil for about 5 minutes. Watch them carefully because you can quickly gazorch (okay, burn) things very quickly under the broiler. This I also know from testing the reaction time of the smoke alarms.

Remove from the oven when they feel crispy and are dark golden brown. They will start to “pop” when they are perfectly cooked to my taste. Allow the chickpeas to cool on the tray. Don’t try to eat them when they are first out of the oven. You will burn your mouth. Yup, done that too. Once your mouth is burned you won’t be able to enjoy the yum-factor as much so please try to be patient.

Voila! Here is the finished Roasted Chickpea Bites ready to snack upon. Dig in!

roasted chickpea bites

roasted chickpea bites

 

 

 

I recommend storing the Chickpea Bites in the fridge once they have cooled down. Since there are no preservatives they will go bad quickly. These are scrumptious cold by the handful or tossed on top of salads.

“When baking, follow directions.  When cooking, go by your own taste. ” 

 ~Laiko Bahrs

A Few of My Favorite Things

I am going to veer off my Festive Mode momentarily and jot down a few of my favorite things. It seems appropriate to this time of year.

A Few of My Favorite Things:

wonderful hiking terrain - escarpment

wonderful hiking terrain – escarpment

– without a doubt, at the top of my list are my children. That goes without saying, though.

– unsolicited hugs from my children. There is nothing like the hug of your own child that is infused with love, trust, and adoration to make you realize how much you impact another Being.

– laughing a good, deep laugh right from the belly. Laughter is so rejuvenating.

– standing with my face to the gentle breeze, closing my eyes and just feeling the sensation of the wind on my face and in my hair.

– a cold, refreshing beer on a hot summer day. Or a sumptuous glass of red wine while sitting by the fireplace on a cold winter’s night.

– the smell of fresh-cut grass.

– aloo gobi. The thought makes my mouth water….mmm…

– great tunes cranked up loud!

– the plant world. Truly fascinating.

– Brussels sprouts

– water. Fresh, clean water

– baking

– Get Clean products. The ONLY cleaners I allow to enter my home because they are safe and work like nobody’s business (check them out via the link to Live Love Be Green at the right side of this blog).

– my phenomenal family and friends. I love that we have a mutual respect for each other’s individuality. There is no need for us all to be clones of each other!

– Glorious coffee. You make my morning.

– muscles. No explanation necessary. (I felt it necessary to add this)

– the different terrain in the area I reside. Rocky escarpment, lakes, forests, vineyards and orchards, to bustling city. I love the contrast and the unique beauty of each.

– the Christmas and holiday season

Of course, there are many other things I could add to my list because this world offers so much bounty. However, I must stop somewhere! These are just a few of the things that make each and every day a bit brighter in my world. No, I don’t consume aloo gobi every day but honestly, I could.  I reserve the cold beer to occasional consumption which allows me to enjoy it even more when I do have it. I try to amalgamate most of these things into my every day.

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“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”  – Charles  Spurgeon

‘Tis the Season

I must admit that the Holidays turn me into a child again. The baking – oh, the baking! The decorating. The time spent with friends and family. A reason to wear sequins and bling at any time of the day or night. The way the stars in the sky seem to sparkle just a little bit brighter when the night air is cold and crisp.

Here’s the part that transports me back to childhood though. I confess that it is just a teeny bit embarrassing. I am a sucker for a really good Santa…I always get teary eyed and on the verge of crying when I am near one. Don’t ask me why. My only explanation is that I had such a memorably happy childhood that was steeped with Christmas magic. I’m sure onlookers must think I’ve gone off the deep-end but frankly, I’m not too concerned. I feel sad that they can’t feel the intensity of emotion that I am experiencing in that exact moment. This has absolutely nothing to do with reality, certainly, but the images of festivity and magic that the moment conjures up. Forgive me if this sounds utterly lame…I’m a dreamer.

“Santa is our culture’s only mythic figure truly believed in by a large percentage of the population. It’s a fact that most of the true believers are under eight years old, and that’s a pity.”   – Chris Van Allsburg

There is one aspect of this season that I wish would just evaporate into thin air though. This would be the frantic pace at which society seems to deem necessary. In this chaotic speed, people forget how to be kind and seem to transform into rudenicks (no, it’s not a real word, however it fits so I shall use it!)  I have noticed this year seems to be the worst yet for pushiness. There has been a total lack of concern for safety as well. Honestly, I have never noticed so many people running red lights while speeding. Almost every stoplight I am at I notice someone blatantly run the red. Scary. Yesterday, I stopped for a light that was red way before I got to it and was nearly rear-ended…then honked at! Seriously. I pretended not to notice when I really felt like giving the person a piece of my… festive cheer. I am certain his name must have been Dominic for he put me in mind of a Christmas donkey. Hee HAW!

I try to focus on keeping a smile in my eyes throughout the day. No frowning allowed. This keeps me feeling joyful and less stressed. I have even noticed plenty of people making a point of smiling back then keeping the smile after we have passed. I have to wonder though, do people see innocence or mischief in my smiling eyes?  I must think pure thoughts…I must think pure thoughts…

Mischief or purity?

Mischief or purity?

I am just finishing my preparation for the Holidays. Shopping is nearing completion and I only have a few more items on the list to bake. My freezer is full to overflowing, even after entertaining friends with an annual holiday party. It was heart-warming to spend the evening with friends old and new and welcome them into our home. For me, this seems to kick-start the Season. I am now in full-blown Festive Mode!

“At Christmas play and make good cheer, for Christmas comes but once a year.”   – Thomas Tusser

What is your favourite thing about the Holiday season?