Monday, February 28, 2011

Easy, healthy dessert: Blueberry Apple Crisp

Breakfast comparison.  His and Hers.  
I was feeling pretty off this morning...all I could muster was a plain bowl of oatmeal.  Yup, completely plain.  Just oats and water.  I ate an orange on the side for good measure.  I'm packing in the vitamin C just in case this feeling is leading toward something bigger.

Mr. Kummerow won out...the last pretzel was toasted and topped with jelly and TJ's Sunflower Butter.  I was jealous, but not in the mood!  Baking Soda is on my grocery list so I can whip up another batch of these pretzels immediately!

Since I'm feeling all weird and am also in a hurry to run out the door for a lunch meeting, I'm just going to share a quick recipe with you today and be off.  Have a good day!

Blueberry Apple Fruit Crisp

4 apples, cored and diced (skin left on)
1 pint blueberries, rinsed
Juice from one lemon
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp sugar (optional)
1/4 cup melted coconut oil

Prepare fruit and place in saucepan.  Sprinkle in the juice of one lemon and stir.  In saucepan, cook diced apples and blueberries over medium-low heat for 20 minutes until tender. 

Transfer fruit into a greased pie pan or tart dish.  

Melt coconut oil.  Stir together flour, oats and sugar.  Add in the coconut oil and mix together well.  Sprinkle the crumb topping over the fruit.  

Bake in 375* for 20-25 minutes until top is crispy but not burned.  Serve alone or with a scoop of banana soft serve for a healthy but sweet treat!
Don't be fooled, this dessert can also be eaten for breakfast!  Even with the banana soft serve!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Daily Twists

This morning's church service had a valuable lesson for me.  We are studying the book of John and discussing discipleship: learning from Jesus' first disciples and finding how that relates to our lives as Christians today.  Today we read about Jesus' first miracle, turning water into wine and the message that came out of it is that Jesus values us

At first glance it doesn't seem like a very profound message.  After all, would he have gone to the cross if he didn't value us?  So of course we can observe and believe externally that Jesus values each one of us, but this story gets more personal than that.  It tells us Jesus is actually concerned with the daily events of each of our lives.  His first miracle was at a wedding and the act probably did little more than to assure the hosts wouldn't be embarrassed when the wine ran out.  Of course, this miracle had larger consequences than just saving a family from shame, it began Jesus' path to the cross.  But because he chose to start his journey with a miracle that fixed a real problem for real people, we can be assured that Jesus is interested in our real lives, the lives we lead here on earth.

Many would suggest that somethings are inappropriate to pray about, or to concern Jesus with.  However, this message in the second chapter of John should place confidence in us that our Christ is one that is worried about what we are worried about.  A smart way of saying it is, if Jesus wasn't interested in the twists and turns of daily living then he wouldn't be interested in 90% of our lives!  I don't know about you, but the Jesus I believe in and know is concerned with 100% of my life...all the funky twists of my daily living!

Speaking of funky twists...check out these!
Mr. Kummerow's mom and step-dad came over for snacks after church and we served these pretzels along with many other great "nibbles."

Soft Pretzels
Recipe by Peas and Thank You 

Makes 4 large twists

3/4 cup warm water
2 tsp organic sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp active dry yeast (1/2 of a packet)
2 1/2 cups bread flour
2 tbsp vegan margarine (Earth Balance), melted
10 c. water
2/3 c. baking soda
coarse ground sea salt

In mixer bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup warm water, sugar and salt.  Sprinkle yeast on surface of water and allow to set for 5 minutes, until water becomes frothy.

Slowly mix in bread flour and melted butter until dough becomes soft but not sticky.

Transfer dough to oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel in a warm corner of the kitchen for 1-3 hours for dough to rise.  (We started our dough before church, and finished the pretzels when we got home)

Make sure to wear your apron if you are going to be cooking before church!  Don't want to dirty that pretty dress!

Remove dough from bowl and onto a lightly floured work surface (only if you need flour).  Separate dough into 4 equal parts.  Roll dough out into long strands (about 2 feet long).

Shape into pretzel twist using a little water to get sides to stick.

Heat 10 cups of water and 2/3 cup baking soda to boiling.

One at a time drop pretzels into boiling water and boil for 30 seconds.
Remove quickly from pot and place on greased baking sheet.  Continue one by one until all 4 twists are boiled.  Sprinkle pretzels with kosher salt (or perhaps cinnamon-sugar if you'd like!)

Bake pretzels on greased baking sheet at 450* for 13 minutes.

We enjoyed our pretzels with a delicious Wasabi Mustard dipping sauce!

Wasabi Mustard 

1/4 cup yellow mustard
2 tsp wasabi
2 tsp shoyu (soy) sauce

Whisk together all ingredients and use as a dip for pretzels or even a spread for sandwiches.  It'll add a nice kick to any meal!

These pretzels were so delicious!  I can't get enough of them!  I want to run inside (yes that's right, I'm sitting outside and working right now!) and make another batch right just looking at them.  Of course I wanted to hog them all to myself...but I shared.  Alina and Ron really enjoyed them along with the other snacks we set out.
These are pineapple oranges.  I had never heard of them before but they came in our produce box this week.  They are deliciously sweet and juicy!
Mr. Kummerow whipped up some more Naan to go with our leftover Sweet Potato Hummus.  We got our Naan recipe from here, but had to add an extra 3/4 cup of flour to make it work.
All together now!  It was quite a spread.  Alina also brought guacamole with tortilla and pita chips.  Our nibbles were quite delightful, but nothing was better than the pretzels!  So good!
Doug pointed out one other important message today in the story of Jesus' first miracle.  He chose to transform water into wine and it serves as a parable for Jesus' real purpose on the cross: to transform our lives from something bland to something spectacular (I don't know about you but I find wine pretty spectacular!)  Jesus released us from the debt of sin and gave us the opportunity to live a fulfilling and transformative life.  What are you doing in your life to show that you have been transformed by Jesus?

But It's My Birthday

You are going to hear this phrase a lot over the next week! But it's my birthday! That is how I will manage to get my way all week!  So last night's But it's my birthday featured take out from my favorite sushi place, Joel's.  It all began on Friday when Susan put out the teaser, "We were going to go to Joel's but..."she casually mentioned.  I couldn't get the craving out of my head all weekend!  Finally last night we broke down and ordered in.  Is it really eating out if you order in?  Yes, yes it is.  We cheated.  And I'm ok with that.  Because it's my birthday!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Vegan Faith Week in Review

It's that time again...time to review this week!


Sunday- Rest (as always...gotta love the Sabbath)
Monday- Spin class, swim 1000m
Tuesday- Run 2 miles, lift
Wednesday- unexpected rest day...hung out with the hubby all day!
Thursday- Pilates, 20 minutes on a stationary bike
Friday- lift, swim 1500m
Saturday- run 3.2 miles

Favorite Recipe this week:

This is such a hard one...I have to admit there were several great ones this week.  Ok, ok , I will narrow it down:

Sweet Potato Hummus

This was a winner in my book.  Doesn't get much better than this stuff!

And I have to pick a runner-up because they were all just so good!


This stuff has changed my life!  You have got to try it!

Favorite Post of the Week:

I can't pick just one here either.  It was amazing to get several things off my chest this week.  I told you my worse news ever and my best news ever in a series of posts on Thursday.  If you missed them, catch up here:

First Thing
Second Thing
Third Thing

Favorite Photo of the Week:
Mr. Kummerow caught this corn kernel popping in mid-air!  How awesome is that!?

Today is the start of something B.I.G.  It is Birthday Week!  The Kummerow's love a good celebration and birthdays are no exception!  Starting now, expect lots of fun birthday celebration posts all week, culminating in a really fun week of celebration review next Saturday!  I love birthdays!

How do you celebrate birthdays?  Simple, extravagant?

Man I like Saturdays!

Goodmorning (even though it is afternoon!)  I still feel like it is morning.  This morning brought two great surprises.  First, an amazing waffle recipe that I believed was a complete failure at one point.  Second, I ran 3.2 miles this morning--confidence that I can complete the 5k next weekend. 
Mr. Kummerow and his running buddy and good friend Pat are running with me and we are all hoping to hit 9 minute miles.  It's a lofty goal but we are so excited!  Anyone is welcome to run with us.  It is my birthday and after we are going to hit up a veg-friendly restaurant in Plaza Midwood for brunch, Zada Janes.  I would love for everyone to join us.  We are running the "Get Your Rear in Gear 5k."  Registration is still open...and you don't have to run 9-minute miles to come out and have a good time with us!
Speaking of Mr. Kummerow and Pat they are out tackling a 6 mile run as we speak!  I am so proud and excited for them and their work toward the half marathon!  It has motivated me to get out and run again!

So back to that breakfast recipe I was mentioning.  This is like a bowl of oatmeal in waffle form.  So healthy and good for you! 

Blender Food Processor Oatmeal Waffles
4 cups oats
2 cups water
1 banana
1 tbsp sugar

In food processor (or blender) process 2 cups of oats until it turns into flour like substance.  Add the other 2 cups oats, water, banana and sugar and process until batter forms. 

Heat waffle iron and cook according to appliance directions.  Ours makes small squares and we used about 1/2 cup batter  for each waffle. 
These waffles were hardy and good!  You must try them!  They have got to be the healthiest waffles around!

For lunch today I made a quick wrap utilizing the leftover Sweet Potato Hummus.  And guess what, I still owe you that recipe!
Sweet Potato Hummus

1 baked sweet potato (skin removed)
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed (liquid from can reserved)
5 tbsp tahini
1 tsp curry powder

In food processor, process chickpeas until a mash forms adding a the tahini as you go.  Mix in the sweet potato and curry powder and continue to process.  Add 1 tbsp of liquid at a time until hummus reaches desired consistency.  Some like it super thick, I prefer mine a little creamier.
Garnish hummus with a sprinkle of paprika and serve with carrots and pita!  Mmmm-mm!  So delicious!  You will turn your nose up at traditional hummus from now on.  This stuff is good.

In other meal are yesterday's eats:

1/4 cup cooked oats topped with a carrot cake cookie, a few spoonfuls of the fruit tart from Friday night (I promise you can have that recipe soon too!), 1/2 a banana sliced, and a dollop of Trader Joe's Sunflower Butter.  I poured just a little Almond Milk on top of it all and it was so good!

Leftover Chickpea and Greens Curry with naan on the side and 1/2 a banana wrapped in collards with Trader Joe's Sunflower Butter. 

Spaghetti with leftover Mushroom Alfredo with roasted veggies on the side. 

For dessert last night I ate 3 Lemonade Girl Scout Cookies while watching a DVR copy of the Vegan Oprah show.  Eh.  I had mixed feelings about the show...however, my feelings about the cookies were undeniable.  Oh Lemonade cookies, will you marry me!?  (Sorry Mr. Kummerow!)
Mr. Kummerow just walked in from his run!  The sun is shining and we've got stuff to do!  So have a great weekend!  I'm off!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tanya vs. Artichoke

This vegetable got the better of me yesterday.  I'm not sure what went wrong, but it was an utter failure.  Better luck next time artichoke.

The directions seemed easy enough.  I even watched a video.  Actually I watched three.  How to prepare, cook and serve artichokes.  I chose the baking method so I could multi-task.  I trimmed the stem and the tops and the pointy ends from the leaves.  I drizzled olive oil and balsamic vinegar just as the video recommends.  Against my better judgment, I wrapped each artichoke in two pieces of foil (such waste) and I baked.
After an hour and fifteen minutes at 400* I removed the artichokes and let cool completely.  Naturally I had to taste test so I peeled off a piece and chewed.  And chewed.  And chewed.  And chewed.  It wasn't going anywhere.
Why then did I decide to serve these up for my guests, I'm not quite sure.  I suppose I thought it was just one bad piece and the rest of the leaves (is that what they are called?) would be softer.  Easier to chew.  The video made it look so easy.
It was a great dish in theory...use the baked artichokes as a soup bowl of sorts.  I have to admit it did look rather pleasing to the eye, all laid on a bed of Cauliflower Rice.  It was innovative, fun, unique and delicious.  Except for one thing.  That darned artichoke.  My poor guests were not sure what to do.  I was not sure what to do.  But we all attempted to eat the artichoke.  And one-by-one we began pulling pieces of un-chewable artichoke out of our mouths and while attempting to be graceful, set it back on the side of our plates. 

What did I do wrong?  Any artichoke experts out there?  Did I overcook the vegetable?  Did I undercook the vegetable?  The video showed using the artichokes for "chips" for dip and so many other wonderful uses.  I would love to know how to do it right and utilize this delicious vegetable!
While the artichokes failed, the rest of the meal was spectacular.  It was one of the easiest dishes I have every put together and the flavors did not disappoint!  My guests were very happy (at least that's what they tell me!)

Chickpea and Greens Curry Stew

2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 cups (or one bunch) collards, or other green (spinach, kale)
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can lite coconut milk

In large stock pot or crock pot heat coconut oil.  Stir in seasonings with 1 tbsp water until it creates a nice paste.  Add in chopped greens and saute until wilted (5-10 minutes).

Add in diced tomatoes and drained chickpeas and coconut milk with about a cup of water (more or less to bring soup to desired consistency).

Heat to boiling, and reduce heat and simmer for an hour.  Serve over a bed of rice or grain or change it up and serve over Cauliflower Rice like I did!

Cauliflower Rice

1 head cauliflower

Chop cauliflower into florets.  Place in food processor and process until it resembles rice, about 1-2 minutes.
The cauliflower rice is so delicious, so healthy and just so much fun!  We all enjoyed it!
As I mentioned above,  I placed an artichoke over a bed of cauliflower rice, and poured the stew right into the artichoke, allowing it to fall out the sides and cover the cauliflower.  It was an amazing mix of flavors and such a fun dish.  Now, I just need to get the artichokes right!
But now, here's where I have gotten ahead of myself...I am forgetting all about the amazing appetizer I created for last night's dinner.
Sweet Potato Hummus and Homemade Naan.  This was the best hummus I have ever had!  This hummus kicked regular hummus right out the door!  (Recipe coming soon)

Dessert was also another major hit.
A simple fruit crumble.  We served this with a side of banana soft serve and our guests were amazed.  The best part about this dessert, you can even have it for breakfast.  Which is what I am about to do now!  So you will have to wait for this recipe as well!

Notice as always how there are no photos of people!  I am failing big time at my New Year's Resolution!

Despite the lack of photos, Mr. Kummerow and I enjoyed a wonderful evening with the Hudson's.  They are a couple that we really admire and strive to emulate.  While Mr. Kummerow and I were going through some rough times this past year, our pastor Doug (I know I've been talking about him a lot lately!) suggested we seek out mentors that will be there to pray with us and for us and encourage and support us.  It is so important to have good examples of healthy Christian marriages and relationships in life.   And having a support team behind us 100%.  (Kay, Toby I'm not sure you are aware that that is now your responsibility!  Your payment is yummy vegan dinners whenever you want!)

It really isn't just about marriage either, it's about our own personal relationship with Christ.  And Kay and Toby are strong, mature Christians that really inspire Mr. Kummerow and me.  We had such a wonderful evening with them discussing our church, our families, our lives, and of course Africa!  It was a such a blessing to have them over for dinner.

This morning as Mr. Kummerow and I were reading our "Outlive Your Life" workbook we found this quote from Max Lucado, "It's no accident that hospitality and hospital come from the same Latin word, for they both lead to the same result: healing.  When you open your door to someone, you are sending a message: You matter to me and to God.  You may think you are saying, Come over for a visit.  But what your guest hears is, I'm worth the effort."

Do you know people who need this message?  I have several in mind that I am anxious to have over for dinner.  While it can be a lot of work to prepare a dinner party, it is always so worth it!  I get caught up trying to impress my guests with fancy meals (enter artichoke failure here) but I need to remember it really isn't about the food, it is about the fellowship.  Most likely your favorite tried and true recipe is the best to serve to guests because it is practiced and signature to you.  I encourage you to use your homes as a place of healing by opening your door for fellowship and relationship building.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Third Thing...

This is what I found on my camera just now!  Isn't he sweet?

Three posts in one day...aren't you lucky?!

Ok, I'm sorry to leave you hanging...twice.  But it is time to share the best news of all.  It is obvious that I have been feeling quite restless with life lately.  Despite having an amazing job, a wonderful husband and a great relationship with Christ, I still feel unfulfilled.  Daily I wonder what is the missing piece.

Recently Mr. Kummerow and I have dedicated  more time serving and finding ways for God to use us. 
On our anniversary trip last year, we had a lengthy conversation about our goals over the next few years.  It seems we always say, "Someday we would like to..." but rarely do we every say yes to the opportunities that come our way.  We made the decision then to stop saying someday and start saying today.  When we are given an opportunity, we no longer want to put it off.  We want to say yes.  We want to say "Here I am God, use me!"

We met with our pastor last week to discuss options for the youth group and one topic led to another and soon we were approaching a subject that I have only dreamed about--in my wildest of dreams!

Each year our church visits Mwandi, Zambia (that is in Africa).  We send a team each year and those that go serve in a variety of ways.  In Mwandi we help support a very large mission including a hospital, orphanage, school, homeless shelter, and agriculture project.  Mr. Kummerow and I always say we want to go but it always turns into "maybe next year."

So last week we said YES to an opportunity.  We said YES to Africa!  It just so happens there are two spots available for this summer and we have enough savings to make the deposit that is due this week!  We are throwing caution to the wind, putting our faith in God, trusting that this is his will and we are saying YES.

This decision is so exciting for us and I am anxious to share with you more details.  However, since we just found out we are going, we hardly have any details.  We know we are going this summer- June and July.  We know we will be gone for about 3 weeks and we know that we can get the time off work.  That is about all we know so far.  I am excited to take this adventure with Mr. Kummerow and I am also excited to share it with you!  This is a chance of a lifetime and I could just pinch myself to realize that it is going to happen!  In just a few short months!

So now you have, two, three.  (Ok, one is still in the works!)  Here's another 1, 2, 3 for you:
This was my very late lunch today.  I hardly have an original thought these days so I must credit the creator here.  Thank you Gena for this fabulous idea!  I have been holding out for months, questioning the combination.  But I'm here today to assure you it is a winner.  Of course, this is coming from the girl who tops her chili with peanut butter.  However, collards, bananas and Trader Joe's Sunflower Seed Butter is definitely a winning combo!  Trust me!
Good night!