To Homemade Microwave Popcorn

Genius! That’s what this is – I saw this idea way back when (not sure where but if you know let me know and Ill change this) but didn’t have popcorn kernels so saw no need in using it. Well after my return from Memphis I realized that I was left with all the popcorn kernels which I don’t mind making stove top popcorn – you know the ole’ fashion way – but when in a rush it’s not ideal.

Thus you now can use those same kernels and have a snack to go in less than 3 minutes and no mess! What’s that you say – no mess?? Yep – no mess (:

Ingredients:

1/3 cup popcorn kernels

1 lunch size brown bag

Scotch Tape

Whatever toppings you want – salt, melted butter, sugar (for kettle corn), melted chocolate, etc. – get creative

Directions:

Pour the popcorn kernels in the bag

Fold over and tape shut

Put in microwave – push the pre-set microwave button and wait for magic to happen

Pul from microwave if there are more than 5 seconds between pops – my preset button worked perfectly – I think I only had to un-popped kernels – that’s better than when I use store bought bags.

Will be taking this to my evening class tonight – if it makes the walk!

Apart from figuring out a cheap way to microwave popcorn I was also able to get a 4 hour hammock session in, win tickets to a concert tomorrow night and get all my reading done for class #success!

PS – poured the popcorn out just for the pic and immediately poured it back into the bag for freshness – so I guess my mess was one bowl – apologies (:

Cheers to a great Tuesday

n

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To Hippie Loaf & Dirty Mashed Potatoes

Compliments to Happy Herbivore for providing me with these two rockin’ vegan recipes!

Sunday night I made the Hippie Loaf and by Monday I decided that I should make some mashed potatoes for the second round – great decision (:

Both recipes are super easy to make and can be experimented with in many ways – I made a few tweaks based on what was in my pantry and even though they weren’t exact to what the cookbook said they were still delish.

Hippie Loaf

Ingredients:

1 15oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 onion diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup carrot, peeled and shredded

1 tomato, diced

1 c cooked quinoa

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. crushed red pepper

3 tbsp. whole-wheat flour

2 tbsp. soy sauce

2 tbsp. ketchup

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F

Grease a standard 8-inch loaf pan and set aside

Mash black beans in a large bowl and combine all ingredients until evenly combined

Transfer to prepared pan and pat down firmly and tightly using a spatula.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until firm and brown on the outside

Allow the loaf to cool and firm up before s

erving about 15-20 minutes.

Dirty Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

2 medium sized potatoes

4 cloves roasted garlic (20-30 min in 400 F oven)

Misc. green spices to taste (oregano, parsley, tarragon, etc.)

1/4 almond milk

Directions:

Bring a pot of water to a boil

Add potatoes and cook until fork-tender but not waterlogged, about 8 minutes

Drain potatoes and return to the pot. Add the almond milk and preferred spices.

Blend everything together using an electric-mixer or potato masher.

Add more milk as needed to achieve desired consistency.

Enjoy with veggie of choice on side (mine was balsamic vinegar roasted brussel sprouts)!

Cheers

n

To Vegan Strawberry Pineapple Smoothie

Tofu in a smoothie?!?!?! That sounds very sketch. I’m pretty sure that was my response and thought up until I sipped on this.

After a week in Memphis with not the best and most healthy eating going on I felt like a semi-detox was needed, but with the weather still nice out and with a love for smoothies I wanted to mix it up and try something different, but healthy as an afternoon snack.Solution – tofu in my smoothie

This was super delish – nice and cool with a frothy and smooth texture – so delish I will probably have another today! Smoothies are appropriate each and every day…right?

Ingredients:

1/2 cup strawberries, fresh

1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks

1/2 cup almond milk

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup pom juice

3-4 tbsp. silken tofu

Directions:

Throw all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth. If you prefer a thicker smoothie just cut down a bit on the liquid.

Cheers to drinking your tofu too!

n

Memphis Photo Gallery

My trip to Memphis was all in all great with many memories – I highly recommend Memphis as a city to tour – plenty to do to keep you busy! During the day I volunteered at Community Gardens throughout Memphis and at night my group and I checked out the sights, sounds and tastes! Many nights were spent down on Beale St. eating BBQ, listening to live music and going on a trolley ride. We stayed right on the Mississippi River that was at the end of a river walk, making for a leisurely walk along it to get to downtown Memphis. And of course no visit to Memphis is complete without visiting Graceland and the National Civil Rights Museum (:

Sun Studio where Elvis Recorded

Graceland Tickets

Graceland Mansion

Living Room

Dinning Room

Pool Room (my favorite in the Mansion)

Grave of Elvis

The Pink Cadillac

The landscapers at Graceland used and still use John Deere Equipment – Nothing Runs like a Deere

The Motel where MLK was assassinated – now a part of the National Civil Rights Museum

A permanent wreath to mark the spot

How great is this?!?!

View of the Mississippi River

Old and Quaint Neighborhood

A house along the River Walk that overlooks the Mississippi River

A door that I absolutely love

Blossoms

View of New Bridge from the River Walk

Bridge on the River Walk that goes over Beale St. that I ran in the mornings

Trolley Station

Purple Trolley

Beale St. in the daytime

Bailey a long haired dachshund that belonged to one of the carriage drivers

One of the many awesome signs on Beale St.

The Bar that inspired the infamous movie

Live Band that we listened to while eating Memphis BBQ

Awesome Creole Restaurant on Beale St. that we got Beignets from

Fried Pickles that some of the others got that I tried – the dipping sauce made these super delicious

Order of Beignets that I split with two other gals – these were utterly amazing!

The promoter of the restaurant!

The whole group on Beale St. at night

Angelus St. Garden – one of the sites we volunteered at

Cheering our lunch of watermelon quarters!

Watermelon quarters all gone – done without any cutlery..quite the task!

Jumping on my pitchfork!

Some of the beds were raised to be wheelchair accessible

Everything we harvested at Angelus

The whole group at Angelus St. Garden

Get Well/New Will Community Garden – we worked on clearing out all of the grass, aka weeds

Wheelbarrow rides for fun!

Frog Friend!

To Running for Charity & Memphis

This post serves two purposes:

1) To share with y’all my first ever attempt at race fundraising

2) And to let ya know why I really haven’t been blogging

I will be running in my third half-marathon at the end of April and wanted to add an extra dimension of commitment. I’ve never fundraised for a race before, let alone solo, but I have faith and perseverance and know that I will be able to make greatness happen – not to mention it is all for the kids!

St. Jude’s Children Hospital has teamed up with races around the nation for runners to be heroes for the kids. Even more fitting is that Danny Thomas who started the idea of a children’s hospital got its roots in Memphis, Tennessee – where I currently have been for the last 6 days!

If you are interested in checking out my fundraising progress here is the link to my personal page!

My time spent in Memphis has been fantastic. I’ve been volunteering in community gardens here (which are a phenomenon that the city has leached onto to help and combat poverty and turn around deterioration in neighborhoods). I have also had the chance to check out many tourist attractions like Graceland, The National Civil Rights Museum and of course the infamous Beale St.

In fact this is my first actual blogging since coming to Memphis since my Key Lime Energy Bites Post was actually pre-blogged because I had a hankering that I wouldn’t be on my computer much when in Memphis.

I will be sure to upload a photo gallery (working on it currently) for my time in Memphis – it truly does have great sights and of course sounds – blues and rock n’ roll!

Until then stay spring-y (:

Cheers

n

 

 

To Key Lime Energy Bites

I love key lime…pie. It is just so darn good. I like it so much it is the dessert I use to request for my birthday (when I still lived at home). While key limes are not the same as limes – I used regular limes in this recipe since that is what I had on hand (not to mention key limes are not so easy to find in stores right now).

These have a great combo of tart with sweet that will be sure to jolt you with the energy you seek (:

Check out my Cranberry Energy Bites for more flavor inspiration!

Ingredients: (Makes 10-12 bites)

1/2 cup dates

1/4 cup cashews

2 tbsp. shredded unsweetened coconut

zest of half a lime

juice of half a lime (a little less than a tbsp)

2 tbsp. flax meal

1/2 tbsp. water

Directions:

In a food processor, blend the dates until they come together into a single mass. Set aside in a bowl.

Food process the cashews until they are tiny chunks – you don’t want a paste because you want some texture.

Add in the dates, coconut, lime zest, lime juice, flax meal and water and pulse a few times until you have a homogenous mixture.

Shape into 1 in. balls (bites) and refrigerate.

Cheers

n

To S’mores Brownies

Today was 80 degrees! 80 DEGREES! That is pretty much unheard of in mid-March in Illinois. It truly feels like I go to school with 40,000+ because there are people everywhere. Nothing brings people out of winter hibernation like warm weather and sunshine. Add that with the week before spring break and you have the perfect equation for a stir frenzy.

Yesterday I was tired – mentally and physically fatigued. Today, I felt like a new being and was inspired to bake, but not that inspired – I relied on my stashed box of Ghirardelli Brownie Mix – call me a brownie snob – so be it.

Brownies are the one thing that I still have no shame in making from a box (and Ghirardelli knows what’s up). Put a cool topping on them and well you have magic baking up in your oven.

I took some to my friend b since she has to teach two classes tomorrow and take a mid-term so I felt she needed a social visit and a pick me up.

So there I was walking to her apartment with containers of brownies and a half gallon of soy milk – I definitely got a few crazy looks – but you can’t eat a brownie without a glass of milk.

The brownies were so good that my friend said “I’d date you” for personally delivered baked goods.

So impress…with minimal effort

Ingredients:

Box of Brownie Mix

1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

4 graham crackers, broken into small pieces

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat temperature according to the brownie mix.

Lightly grease a 9×9 pan and set aside.

Mix up the brownie mix according to the box and pour into your prepared pan.

Bake according to directions or until they pass the toothpick test.

Pull from oven and switch to broil.

Sprinkle the brownies with the marshmallows and then the graham crackers.

Put in the oven until the marshmallows start to puff up – for me it was about 3 and a half mins with me checking on them every 10-15 secs (I left them on the middle rack).

Pull from oven, sprinkle with the chocolate chips and let cool for a good half hour – the longer you let them cool the easier they will be to cut (and the more melty the chocolate will get).

The result sticky deliciousness that your friends will love you for.

Another thing that is great for impressing with minimal effort – instagram!

Cheers

n

To Spinach Turkey Pinwheels

This past Sunday I made these pinwheels for a potluck I attended. Since I left with only 1 pinwheel left, I’d say they were a crowd pleaser.

Now I know that today is Pi Day but I had a ridiculously long day and with beautiful weather outside, turning on the oven seemed like the worst idea ever. Not to mention it is already toasty in my apartment and extra heat is definitely not needed.

They were pretty easy to make and are a nice spring food. We’ve been having an absurdly warm March – 75 degrees today! The warm weather sure does bring out the best in everyone and I don’t think I’ve ever seen my college quad as packed as it has been this week! I finally got to lay down and chill on the quad for a good half hour today since a class let out early. I soaked it all up!

Ingredients:

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

3 oz. feta cheese

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. oregano

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

cucumber, thinly sliced

spinach

red pepper, chopped

deli turkey meat

6 multi-grain tortilla wraps

Directions:

Mix the cream cheese, feta and spices into a creamy spread.

Spread an even, thin layer on each of the wraps.

Cover the wrap with spinach and deli meat (omit on a few wraps for a veggie option).

In a row near an end of the wrap lay the cucumbers down follo

wed by the red pepper.

Tightly roll together and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.

Cut the end off of the wraps and then slice in to 6-8 sections depending on desired thickness.

Plate and serve!

note: you could also leave these full and eat as wraps – what I did Monday night for a friend and I to accompany our guilty pleasure watching of The Bachelor Finale – typical female, I know (:

Cheers to quick and easy crowd-pleasing potluck dishes

n

To Indian Spiced Cauliflower

Sometimes you want some Indian that is quick simple and not loaded with calories. Solution – this cauliflower! Cauliflower is used in many Indian dishes. In fact, while I was in India I visited an agriculture farm that was working on ways to successfully grow different vegetables throughout India. One of the vegetables they were working on – broccoli – or as they liked to call it American Cauliflower. Every time I see broccoli or cauliflower I always think of India.

This dish is superb and goes great as a side veggie to any meal. Many people don’t like cauliflower and it took me quite some time to give it a real honest try – so go ahead and give cauliflower a real honest try with this dish (:

Ingredients:

3/4 tsp. curry powder

1/4 tsp. cumin

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. paprika

1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil

1/4 tsp. minced garlic

2 cups cauliflower florets, cleaned

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 and spray a baking dish

Mix the spices together in a medium bowl.

Add in the olive oil and garlic. Mix well.

Toss in the cauliflower and evenly coat all of the florets.

Pour the cauliflower into the baking dish and bake for 30 minutes

Let cool 2 minutes before serving

Cheers to spicing up your veggies

n

To Cranberry Energy Bites

These are pretty much Larabars in bite-size form. Last year I got hooked to Larabars, but with a college student’s budget doom quickly set in and I wasn’t going to be able to have one every time I craved one. Thus, googling of homemade Larabars ensued and almost a year later I still find enjoyment in mixing up the flavors.

I went to Aldi the other day (super college budget friendly) for general shopping and to see what good finds I would stumble upon and low and behold I found a great deal on dried cranberries so I swooped in and got some. My best find however were blackberries for 69 cents!!!! Waddup berry people – that’s a steal!!!! I’ll be poppin’ those little berries like pez for the next couple of days (:

Back to energy bites

Post my 8 mile run yesterday I was needing a quick source of energy and these did the trick! You can play with the flavors to please your tastebuds or depending on what you have on hand. As long as you have dates and nuts you are sure to make a great pseudo Larabar. Stay tuned for more flavors!

Ingredients: (12-15 bites)

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup dates, pitted

1/4 cup cashews

1/4 cup almonds

2 tbsp. flax meal

1 tbsp. water

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

In a food processor, blend the cranberries and dates until they naturally form into a single mass. Set aside in a bowl.

Process the cashews and almonds until chopped close to fine – but now powdery – you want a bit of texture.

Add in the cranberry/date mixture, flax meal water and cinnamon. Pulse a few times until it all comes together.

Then form into 1 inch balls

Store in the fridge.

Cheers to raw energy

n