Monday, October 31, 2011

Slime-green Halloween smoothie

Happy Halloween!

It's my favorite holiday and, honestly, I'm kind of bummed it had to fall on a Monday this year. Although, this weekend, we did have some Halloween fun.

Jon went as a tree (complete with leaves, birds, racoons, and a nest)

 I went as Sacajawea (minus the baby)

We had a good time with friends, played some games, had some drinks, ate some Halloween-themed cupcakes, and got home too late :)

The festivities will continue tonight with (maybe) a local ghost story walk, carving some spooky pumpkins, and definitely some of Southern Tier Brewing Company's Pumpking beer (review to come)!

 In honor of the holiday, I'm going to share a terrifying treat. It looks scary, but it's actually very tasty (and healthy!)
Slime-Green Halloween Green Monster 
You'll need:
1 cup almond milk
1 banana
2 pineapple rings
1 cup fresh baby spinach
1 t chia seeds (optional)
3 ice cubes

To make:
1. Peel banana, split in half, and put in blender
2. Add ice
3. Put in remaining ingredients
4. Blend first using the Crush ice setting until all ice is chopped
5. Blend on liquefy until ingredients are smooth and well blended

 The result is a slime-green colored smoothie that's frothy, sweet, and full of nutrition.

What are your Halloween plans? Do you have a favorite Halloween food? 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

You're spicy sweet, and you're my dinner!

I can't help but to think of this song whenever we make this dish for dinner...

Except, this dinner is not dirty and sweet - it's spicy and sweet!

This is a go-to meal when we put in a long day at work, a solid hour or so at the gym, finally come home around 8 p.m. and just want to make an easy dinner and relax.

We recently just discovered the wonderful world of curry this past winter and haven't turned back.  We curry up a good handful of our food, including our popcorn, but that's another recipe for another day. . .

Spicy Sweet Curry Bowl
You'll need:
1 box Near East Mediterranean curry couscous 
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large sweet potato, cubed
1 can chickpeas
1 t curry (we use Simply Organic curry powder)
1 t garam masala (this could be optional)
1/2 t cumin power
1 3/4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup golden raisins (I used regular raisins for the photo, but golden are WAY better)

To make: 
1. Follow box directions to make the 5-minute couscous. Place aside.
2. In a medium pot (or deep pan), heat olive oil. 
3. Add onion and cook for 10 minutes, until beginning to soften. 
4. Add sweet potato cubes and cook for another 10 minutes. 
5. Add chickpeas and spices, stirring to allow the spices to blend and sink in. 
6. Add broth, bring to a boil, then reduce and cover.  Cook for 20-30 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed and sweet potatoes are soft. 
7. Add raisins and cover for 5 more minutes.
8.  Scoop couscous into bowl, ladle curry dish on top.

The result is a flavorful (*ahem* spicy sweet), filling dinner that's ready in no time! 

 Do you like curry? When did you first try it?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

5 mile smoothie

I've been toying with the idea of running in my city's Turkey Trot this Thanksgiving. Buffalo's turkey trot the oldest known turkey trot footrace, dating back to 1896.
 Last year was the 115th annual race and it brought about 11,000 racers. Most people go to run the 5 mile course with just a low time score in mind, but some people have really gone all out and had a lot of fun with it.
 I've never raced before, but I think it would be a fun challenge. I have until Oct. 31st to make a decision.
As I think about signing up for this race, I've been pushing myself on my runs with the idea of training for 5 miles (in the Buffalo November weather) in under 45 minutes. I can currently do a 4 mile run (indoors, on a treadmill) in roughly 36 minutes -  I know I can do better than that! Bring on the miles!

One of the things that helps me get through my runs is the post-run smoothie I've concocted.
It's sweet, hearty, and definitely satisfying after a good run.
 5 mile smoothie
You'll need:
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or any non-dairy milk of your choice)
1 somewhat ripened banana
3 ice cubes (not shown in picture above)
3 T rolled oats
1T carob powder
1T cinnamon
1t chia seeds

To make:
1. Peel banana, break in half, put in blender
2. Add the oats, carob, cinnamon, and chia
3. Add the almond milk and ice cubes
4. Blend on the CRUSH ICE setting until the ice is completely broken up
5. Switch to the LIQUEFY setting until all oats are blended and the texture looks thick and smooth

The result is a sweet, hearty, guilt-free recovery shake that provides you with some good carbs and keeps you feeling full.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

"Oh the weather outside"

Who knows the quote? It's from one of the movies that always makes me really laugh out loud.
 Highly recommended.

Anyway, the weather this past weekend was HORRIBLE for any living creature 'round these neck of the woods; Read: Lake effect rain storms.
You know what makes a rainy weekend even worse? Camping in rainy weekend weather. Yup. We booked a cabin in Letchworth State Park waaay back in the summer, hoping to enjoy the fall leaves and some of that Indian summer I mentioned. Well, we spent a total of 4 hours outside in the 3 days we were there. Oh well, make the best of the situation, right?
 We went into town both nights to watch the Buffalo Sabres and have a couple brews :)
But, in the time we did get to enjoy the park, we took some photos, did a little hiking, and enjoyed the fresh air. Here are a few of my best shots:
Did you get out to see some foliage? What's your go-to rainy day activity?

Monday, October 17, 2011

First-time applesauce!

Hello! I've been away for a few days in Letchworth State park, enjoying the Fall splendor (in between the frequent bursts of lake-effect rain storms) to come!

Last night,  decided those apples couldn't wait any longer. Time for an adventure: applesauce!

While the task read easy in most recipes, I'm always still a little nervous in making such a mass quantity of something I've never made before. What if it tastes bad? What if I over cook it? I hate wasting food...I try to cook a portion that is reasonable for us to manage to eat.
How could you waste such a beautiful fruit?!?

I looked over a few varations of recipes and decided to wing it. Without further ado, my first attempt at applesauce:

Alyssa's homestyle applesauce
You'll need:
5 Red delicious apples
5 Crispin apples
2 T maple syrup flavored agave (or you could use regular maple syrup)
2 t lemon juice
1 t cinammon
1/2 t gound cloves

To make:
1. Core all apples and chop into chunks. I opted to keep the skins on for added nutrition and to keep some heartiness (i.e., chunks).
2. Put all apple chunks into crock pot along with all the ingredients above. Stir all the way through.
3. Set crock pot to HIGH and let cook for 3 hours.
4. After 3 hours, turn off heat and mash apples (in pot) with a potato masher.
5. Stir and let sit in crock pot for another hour with heat off to let spices really set in.

The result is a hearty, sweet and spicy applesauce. I was pleased with my first attempt.

Do you get  nervous when making huge batches of a new recipe?
How do you prefer your apple sauce: chunky or smooth?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

The best part of a morning workout is getting to come home and drink a smoothie. Most always, this is how I conclude an a.m. trip to the gym.

My smoothies are usually some variation of a green monster, but this fall, I've become slightly obsessed with decided to experiment with pumpkin.
I messed around with a few different ways to make this smoothie, but I think I nailed it this morning.

People seem  to go pumpkin-flavor crazy once October rolls around, and then after Thanksgiving, they're done with it. They move on. C'est fini.
 This makes me sad. Why can't pumpkin be enjoyed year round? Most coffee shops don't even carry the flavor once December hits. Pumpkin is packed with vitamins and keeps you feeling full. I say viva la pumpkin!

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

4 ice cubes
1 yellow (not over-ripe) banana
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 T cinammon
1 T pumpkin pie spice
(optional add-ins: brown sugar, chia seeds, vanilla extract)

To make:
1. Put all ingredients in blender
2. Use "crush ice" setting for about 45 seconds to...well...crush the ice
3. Use the "liquefy" setting for another 45 seconds until it looks thoroughly blended

The result is a healthy, thick, smooth, not overly sweet pumpkin spice smoothie!

Do you drink/eat/make pumpkin-flavored items after the pumpkin is out of season? What is your favorite pumpkin item?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wanna date?

Yesterday, I received a package in the mail from the people of Bard Valley Medjool Dates. As a thank you for submitting a recipe (that uses their dates) and picture of the finished product, they sent me samples of their dates!
I was moseying around in Facebook when I saw that Bard Valley had posted a status update: "We love hearing about the interesting ways you use Medjool dates. So send us your favorite recipe and we'll send you a sample pack."

...Free stuff? I'm in.
I dug through my recipe folder to find my go-to recipe that uses dates - Raw, vegan brownies with frosting.

I entered the recipe just hoping they might see it and give me a few free dates. I actually kind of forgot about until a few days ago, I was trolling the Facebook wall and saw a post from Medjool dates...then I saw my name...then I realized it was my raw, vegan brownie picture they posted...they chose my recipe!

Here's what they posted:
"Here's a recipe sent in by our good friend Alyssa. She has sample packs of Bard Valley Medjool dates on their way to her as a thank you. Would you like some Medjool Dates? Send us your recipe and we'll send you medjool dates as a thanks you too. More details at

Raw, vegan brownies with frosting

Ingredients : Brownies
1 cup walnuts
1 cup Bard Valley Medjool dates, pitted
1/3 cup cocoa powder

Ingredients : Frosting
1 avocado
2 tbsp + 2 tsp raw honey (for just raw) or agave nectar (for raw and vegan)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
dash salt
dash cinnamon

To make:
1. Combine walnuts, dates, and the 1/3 cup of cocoa powder in a food processor and process until the mixture has a fine, grainy texture. Pat this into a 8inch x 8inch pan.
2. In a mixing bowl, blend the avocado, honey or agave, second bit of cocoa, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon until smooth.
3. Spread the icing over the brownie base and then put in the freezer for about an hour to set. The brownies keep well in the freezer (never freezing solidly) for about a week.

I was very excited that they chose to post this recipe - it's so easy to make and really very delicious.

Have you ever baked/cooked/used dates in a recipe? What is you favorite is your favorite way to eat dates?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hockey and apples and beer (oh my!)

Saturday's Pucktoberfest was a great time (and not just because the Sabres beat the Kings 4-2). It was kind of surreal watching the game on the jumbotron and cheering on the players with an empty ice rink below. Nonetheless, it was a good way to get together with other fans and show the boys some support while they played overseas.      


Today, we went apple picking at Becker Farms. It was my and Jon's very first time picking apples. It was about 85 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. The smell of dough was wafting out of the farm's bakery, there were plenty of pumpkins scattered about, and screaming children everywhere...haha, no it wasn't bad at all.

My little sister and her boyfriend came with us.
We bought our bags and took a short tractor ride to the orchards to pick. There were rows and rows of trees with different kinds of apples. I was set on getting golden delicious and crispen, but also mosied on over to the red delicious. We had a blast - there may even have been a fallen apple war...those suckers hurt when chucked.
Even some of the fallen apples were in prime condition.
This bird had the right idea. Who wouldn't love a home that constantly smelled of fresh apples and afternoon sunshine?
I find U-picks to be such a humbling experience. For me, it really amplifies the idea of the natural food chain and how we once were as humans - we thought and prepared for planting, we worked and cared for crops, we harvested and preserved for the future. People were always thinking one step ahead. I have such a respect for farmers as they carry on this tradition.

All in all, the 4 of us brought home 5 overflowing bags of apples...
...and a growler of Becker Farm's own brewed Octoberfest.

So, what should I make with all these apples? What's your favorite recipe with apples?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Indian Summer

The weekend weather perdiction here in Western NY is supposed to be lovely ("Look, ma! No snow!").
Buffalo gets a bad reputation for being such a "snowy" city - it's really not that awful. Buffalo is not a constant snow storm city, we just mainly get freakishly huge flash stroms, where Lake Erie decides collect and dump it's unwanted participation on us. But, when life gives you lemons (or a ton of cold, white fluffy stuff) the only thing to do is snowmobile, ice skate, snowshoe, and dog sled in it!
                  (Jon and me in Vermont, dog sledding with Montgomery Adventures)
But, I'm getting waaaay ahead of myself here...the leaves are only just starting to turn.

Today, the Buffalo Sabres have their second offical game of the season. While they are overseas in Berlin playing this game, it's going to get quite rowdy arond these parts. We sure do love our hockey in this city.
Jon and I are going to check out the Pucktoberfest going on at the First Niagara Center (or the FN center - pronounced "effin center" - that's not official. Ha.)
"The festivities begin at 11:30 a.m. in the plaza outside First Niagara Center as the Auslanders, Buffalo’s premier German band, take the stage to perform traditional authentic German music as well as popular cover songs. Dancing to the Bavarian sounds will be the Schuhplattlers, a traditional German dance group from Western New York.

At 2 p.m., fans can head into the arena to watch the Sabres play the Los Angeles Kings in Berlin on the HD video board. The game is part of the NHL Premiere Series and is the second of two games the team is playing during its nine-day trip to Europe."
Woohoo! Indian Summer weather, beer, Sabres can't get any better...actually, it will when I hear Rick Jeanneret call the game.

How's the Fall weather where you are? Participating in any fall festivities?