{sms} Coconut Cream Pie

This post is actually about the pie crust. A chocolate pie crust. The Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe for this week is Chocolate Pie Crust. I decided to make a Coconut Cream Pie. The recipe for the coconut cream came from The Essential Baker.

I made 1/2 a recipe of both the crust and the filling, which made enough for three 4-inch pies. My trusty side kick Diego helped me with pies. Paula worked diligently on the computer as our tech specialist.

I did not try the pies, but my taste-testers all approved. Thank you to Donna of L’Amour de Tarte for hosting this week’s selection. If you would like the recipe, visit her blog or buy the book. The recipe for the Coconut Cream Pie is HERE.

Ten in 2010: Two Healthy, Vegan Salads

I stayed on track this week with my Ten in 2010 goals. I did my runs and yoga classes, I exercised 6/7 days, and ate 100% vegan AND healthy. I also lost a 1/3rd of my vacation and holiday weight gain.

The secret to eating healthy (and vegan) and maybe just life in general, is to plan ahead and always have food you can eat available.

This week to help me along I made two healthy, vegan salads. The recipes come from the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart. The first recipe is Couscous Confetti Salad. A colorful mix of whole-wheat couscous, chopped vegetables, and golden raisins.  The dressing is seasoned with curry powder to give a bit of a kick and the flavor combines well with the sweet raisins. This was a big hit, not just with me, but with my friends too.

The second recipe is a Hoppin’ John Salad. Made with black-eyed peas (the first time I’ve had them!), Hoppin’ John is a traditional New Year’s dish. This version was made with brown rice and served cold with a lemon-garlic dressing. This was a big hit too, but only with me. Because I didn’t share it. 😛

I also made a big pot of Cinnamon-Raisin Oatmeal for breakfast. When I didn’t have my oatmeal, I ate fruit with a non-dairy yogurt and 7-grain puffed cereal.

If you would like to join the the Ten in 2010 group, visit Lori at the RecipeGirl blog HERE.

{bba} italian bread torpedo rolls

Life got a little too busy or too complicated or maybe I just got a little too lazy. For whatever the reason, I decided to join the Slow & Steady group of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge.When I joined the group, I already baked the breads they were baking and blogging. I had a good chunk of time before the bread I needed to make next–Italian Bread.

Ha ha! I sat on my duff too long. The Italian Bread was due the first week in December! I didn’t realize this until this week. But luckily, the some of other Slow & Steady Bakers got thrown off track because of the holidays and Nancy of The Corner Loaf (our fearless leader) is revising the schedule with the Italian Bread due in two weeks. So it seems I’m ahead again 😛 .

Shaped and ready for proofing

I made the bread for my supposed-to-be vegetarian Christmas Eve dinner and shaped them into torpedo rolls. The rolls rose and baked beautifully.

Fresh out of oven

My family loved the bread. My Mother couldn’t stop talking about it. My Mom is big on bread. She always used to say to me, “The key to a great dinner party is good wine, good bread, and good conversation”. All the other stuff is incidental.

{twd} two for the price of one

This week marks the second anniversary of Tuesdays with Dorie, the awesome blogger baking group that is baking it’s way through Dorie Greenspan’s Baking…From My Home to Yours. To celebrate the occasion Laurie, the founder of the group, let the bloggers decide which recipe to make and chose a second one  as another option.

I made the Tarte Tatin for the non-chocolate dessert option at my supposed-to-be-vegetarian Christmas Eve dinner. Darn, those parents! Anyway, the tarte was easy to make and used simple ingredients.  You caramelize apples in a pan and then cover the apples with puff pastry (what I used) or tart dough and bake it in the oven. Once done, you flip it and the apples are on top. And, YAY!, all my apples behaved.

I, of course, served it with homemade ice cream. I made the Vanilla Bean Ice Cream from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert. See the flecks! Love it.

I really liked the Tarte Tatin. It wasn’t too sweet and it was light and flaky. I’ll definitely make it again, maybe using different fruits.

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I made the Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake for Olivia’s first birthday party. Olivia is my best friend’s daughter. I made it for the sole purpose of destruction.  I made half the recipe and baked it in three 4-inch round pans. I froze two of the little cakes and split the third to make layers. The cake was a big success with Olivia. See the photo montage below.

Thank you so much to Laurie for starting Tuesdays with Dorie 2 years ago. It’s been so much fun and I’ve met and have become friends with so many new people since I joined. If you would like the recipes for both, please buy the book or visit Laurie’s blog.

Ten in 2010

Social networking is awesome. In 2009, I made a lot of new friends through Twitter and Facebook and blogs. One friend, Lori of RecipeGirl, with the support and encouragement of Twitter friends has started a challenge for the new year. One quick side note. I’ve met Lori in person. She is beautiful both on the inside and outside. She was actually one of my tablemates that encouraged me to ask Rocco DiSpirito out. 😛Lori’s challenge is Ten in 2010: Ten Weeks to Healthy in 2010. I’m always up for joining groups and have some goals I want to reach this year, so I jumped right in. It’s so open and really there are no rules. You pick your own goals. As of this writing, there are over 230 participants from all over the world. See the list of participants HERE. Anyone can join! You should too!

My Goals

  • Lose my vacation/holiday weight gain. Really it’s mostly holiday. I didn’t really gain anything on vacation. I think wearing a bathing suit every day kept me motivated. I gained an embarrassing number of pounds since I returned home smack in the middle of the holiday season.
  • Eat vegan at least 3 days a week. Last year I successfully ate vegan on Tuesdays for my Vegan Tuesdays. Some days easier than others. This year I want to expand it to three days a week, but rotate the days depending on my schedule. There’s nothing like being stuck in the Dallas airport on a Tuesday trying to find vegan food.
  • Participate in the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart. Starting on January 1, I’m participating in the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart. Check it out! There’s lots of recipes, information, and a meal plan. Once the 21 days are over, I’ll start my 3-days a week vegan eating.
  • Train for my half-marathon. Every year I run a half-marathon, but don’t train for it. This year, because I don’t want to be in pain for a week, I’ve actually decided to train for. I’m pretty fit, but not much of a runner. I may even try trail running this year!
  • Re-commit to yoga. Last June I started attending evening yoga classes, I stopped going in November and want to start up again. It makes me feel great!

I go to the gym very early in the morning before work. I usually just grab a bar and eat it on the way. Here’s a great recipe for you to try. Chia seeds (the same ones as Chia Pets) are a great source of omega fatty acids and contain a bunch of good-for-you minerals and vitamins. They actually have more antioxidents than flaxseed and are an excellent source of dietary fiber.

Raw Chocolate-Chia Energy Bars

From the January 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times.
  • 1 1/2 cups pitted dates
  • 1/3 cup raw unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup whole chia seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup raw slivered almonds
  1. Purée dates in a food processor until a thick paste forms. Add cocoa, chia, and extracts. Pulse until all ingredients are combined. Add almonds and pulse until nuts are chopped and well-distributed.
  2. Place a piece of parchment paper on work surface and transfer date mixture to it. Using your hands, press mixture into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Wrap tightly and chill overnight.
  3. Unwrap block and cut into 8 bars.

Nutrition: 195 calories, 5 grams of protein, 8 grams of total fat, 7 grams of fiber.