Thursday, January 28, 2010

Warm Chickpea, Spinach and Bulgar Salad

Oh, how I love to bake....not cook. But, I am beginning to enjoy it more! This recipe was the brain child of trying to figure out what to do with the bits and pieces we had in the fridge before I did the grocery shopping. It is such a simple recipe, and filling! Hubby likes to take the leftovers to work the next day for lunch and eat them cold; I prefer to reheat it in a skillet. Whatever your preference, you will enjoy how easy this meal is. Be sure to let me know how it goes!

Warm Chickpea, Spinach and Bulgar Salad

1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup Bulgar
1 Can Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6 cups washed baby spinach (you can chop this up a bit if you would like, but I kept mine whole)
3 cloved garlic, minced
1 tsp Cumin
1-2 Tomatoes, diced (I used one, which works fine, but I love tomatoes and I think adding a second would be great!)

2 green onion, diced
pepper to taste
1 tbsp lemon juice

1: Put vegetable broth into small pot and bring to boil
2: Add Bulgar to pot, stir once, remove from heat and cover for 15 minutes.
3: Place large skillet on warm stove burner and fill with 1/4 cup water. When skillet is warm, add garlic and cumin. Cook for 5 minutes over medium high heat. Add chickpeas. Cook for 5 minutes. Add Spinach. Cook for 5 minutes. (**Note: keep an eye on your water amount, you may need to add a little bit more if your food starts sticking. You can use oil if you want, but it can make your chickpeas taste a little greasy)
4: When Bulgar is finished cooking; add Bulgar AND the broth that was not absorbed to the skillet. Mix together and remove from heat.
5: Add Green Onions, tomatoes, lemon juice and pepper before serving.

Happy eating!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Learning to balance the little things

I have a new goal.

It will help me realize how good I am at balancing things.

It's a simple goal.

But here, in Holland, it is the difference between arriving at my destination soaking wet or stylish and dry.

My goal is......

To learn to ride a bike one handed while holding an umbrella with the other hand, and still remain balanced.

Okay, so I just made a big deal out of something that seems pretty petty. But, next time you are out riding your bike and get caught in the pouring rain (which happens more often than I care to admit), I bet you'd wish you could do it too.

I have terrible balance. Wish me luck!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Why I {heart} Holland

Today I biked to Hubby's work with our Little Man to go for lunch. We have lived in Holland since September and everywhere we go I am continuously amazed by the people and places around me.

Here are some things that I love about living here that stood out to me particularly today:

I love passing the neighborhood school and seeing 25-30 adults lined-up outside....on bike...waiting for their child to get out of school. I love seeing moms bike their children to the grocery store in these:

{It's a Bakfiets (box bike)}

I love that we have a windmill in our neighborhood.

{yes, this is down the street from our apartment}

I love that when it snows they don't shovel the sidewalks. Instead, they clear off the canals, strap on their skates and away they go. I also love that it is January 20, the snow has melted and Spring is on it's way.

I love that I can look out our living room window and see this:

I love how friendly our neighbors are.

And I absolutely love seeing the look on our Little Man's face as he takes in all the incredible sights and sounds around him.

There is plenty more that I could list, but in the essence of time I'll just say:
I am happy to be living here with my two incredible boys; Hubby and Little Man.
(and I don't care how cheesy that sounds)

So, what do you love most about where you live?


Monday, January 18, 2010

Vegan Artichoke Pizza with Cheesy Sauce

DH and I looooooooove pizza. We love it so much that we dedicate every Friday evening to homemade pizza. Since I am a foodsnob slightly picky eater, we challenged ourselves to come up with a new combination of toppings each Friday. This challenge began in September and I can happily report that we have NOT repeated a combination yet.
 There have been mighty triumphs that we cannot wait to try again and some monumental failures that we cannot wait to forget.

Our latest creation was Vegan Artichoke Pizza with Cheesy Sauce. We started with a Whole Wheat Thin Crust Pizza dough (recipe included; adapted from a recipe that an awesome friend passed along to me); used Vegan Alfredo Sauce for the base; and baby spinach, tomatoes, red onion and artichokes for the topping. The recipe that I used for the sauce was okay, but I think I will keep experimenting.

If you try it out, let me know what worked and what didn't for you!

Vegan Artichoke Pizza with Cheesy Sauce

1 jar marinated artichokes, drained and coarsely chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 cup baby spinach, washed
1/4 cup vegan cheese sauce (I used this recipe, substituting half the water for soy milk, and adding cumin)
sprinkling of oregano
sprinkling of cayenne pepper
1 Whole Wheat Thin Crust Pizza (recipe below) or pizza crust of your choice

Preheat oven to 200 C (390 F). Spread sauce evenly over prepared pizza crust. Add oregano and cayenne pepper, as desired. Place layer of baby spinach, top with artichoke, tomato and  red onion. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until crust is a golden brown.

Whole Wheat Thin Crust Pizza (makes two crusts)

4 cups whole wheat flour
1 packet dry yeast
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp garlic powder
1-1 1/2 cups warm water
2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Combine all dry ingredients in bowl of electric mixer. Using dough hook attachment, set mixer on low, slowly add water until dough forms a soft ball (dough should be slightly sticky). Continue to knead for 10 minutes in mixer.  Pour 1 Tbsp of olive oil over dough and coat all surfaces. Put bowl in warm spot, covered with clean towel for one hour.

After one hour.... remove dough from bowl and place on lightly oiled pizza pan. Cut dough in half. Leave one half on the pan and spread out over pan surface using lightly oiled fingertips. Dough should be 1-1.3 cm thick. Drizzle remaining 1 tbsp Olive Oil over pizza dough surface. Place in preheated oven (200 C) for 10 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE! Remove and add toppings as desired.

What to do with the second half of dough:
If you don't need two pizzas then take the extra dough, wrap it tightly in a layer of plastic wrap, THEN a layer of tin foil and place it in the freezer. The dough will store in the freezer for up to 6 months. When you want to use it thaw it in the fridge the night before and then follow baking directions.
***TIP: Put your wrapped dough on the counter 1-2 hours before you intend to bake it. This will make your dough a little easier to work with.

Happy baking!...and eating.

Friday, January 15, 2010

News from Haiti - Ways to Donate

Chances are, you have heard about the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti recently. Today, while reading the news I learned that somewhere between 45,000-50,000 people are estimated to have died. They are in need of aid. There have been many resources set up to donate money to humanitarian aid. Many countries have already pledged money to help:

Aid pledges to Haiti

Country Pledge
Canada $5 million
European Commission $4.52 million
Spain $4.52 million
The Netherlands $3 million
Germany $2.3 million
U.S. $100 million US


$1.03 million

source: CBC News

If you are interested in helping there are many options. One popular choice is The Red Cross (donation form can be found HERE). There is also the LDS Humanitarian Aid Fund (more information can be found HERE). I particularly like this organization as "[o]ne hundred percent of all contributions are used to help the needy—the Church uses other funds to cover administrative expenses" (LDS Humanitarian aid website). If you would like to donate to this organization an online donation form can be found by clicking HERE.

Whichever way you chose to donate, you are helping! If you are unable to donate monetarily, you could pass along donation information to others. It is about awareness. Don't let these people be forgotten.

Love and prayers.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies....vegan style

Show me someone who doesn't love classic chocolate chip cookies and I will show you someone who is completely crazy...seriously. Who doesn't love warm, moist, chewy, melty, chocolate chip cookies?

So, why do them vegan style? Well....the story goes like this....

Serving my family nutritional meals is very important to me, such that I have spent the last year scouring books to find how to serve my family home cooked, healthy meals that don't require me spending more time than I would like in the kitchen.

I found numerous books and internet resources on healthy living/eating that all said exactly what I expected to read; "eat a well balanced diet; low in fat, whole grains, vegetables, white meat and desserts in moderation"...pretty standard stuff. However, during my pregnancy the sight, smell and taste of meat or fish made me ill; anything with sugar gave me heart burn and, eventually, without intending to, we had become vegetarian.

Going vegetarian isn't an easy step to take, even if you plan to do it, so my search for nutritious meals got a whole lot harder. But, I love a challenge! (since then I have learned a lot more about nutrition and about how BAD meat and meat products are for you...not to mention how bad it is for the environment...but that's a story for another blog on another day..)

We loved having dinner guests over so that I could try out a new recipe and see what kind of reviews it got. Eventually, making vegetarian meals wasn't a challenge anymore and that's when I discovered these....

moist...chewy....and...wait for it...

gooey...chocolate chip cookies.

Yes, I know, there are hundreds of different chocolate chip cookie recipes and I had been making the one on the back of the chocolate chip bag since I was old enough to hold a mixing spoon. BUT, these were different. These had no butter, no eggs and no diary...also known as vegan. And they tasted just as good as (and possibly better than) their fatty, dairy counterpart. I was hooked.

So, I am going to save you a lot of trouble and just tell you...make these...your chocolate-chip-cookie-craving soul will love you for it (promise). There is even an option to make them wheat-free. These cookies are compliments of Dreena Burton, who has quite the talent for vegan cookies. You can check out the recipe by going to her blog here:

Enjoy. And you are very welcome!