女安慰自己动手图片

女安慰自己动手图片"An attitude of cheerful optimism, of seeing everything in an attractive, pleasant light"

女安慰自己动手图片

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Washington Tokyo Women's Club ~ board appreciation gift

This past year was my first year serving on the Washington Tokyo Women's Club (WTWC) board as Hospitality Chair along with my partner in crime Pam (right) and our Japanese counterpart Akie (center). What a year! It was really fun....after I recovered from the initial learning curve and got oriented with my job.



Photobucket
It was Akie who inspired me to get off my butt (because of how we take luncheon reservations, menu choices & table assignments) to finally learn Microsoft Excel...and as soon as I got a pretty good grip on the program, I bought my new MacBook Pro and have had to relearn everything I hardly knew to work in "Numbers." After about 293 more ONE TO ONE Apple classes this Summer I may have it down pat. Until then, I'm gonna cry every day that Akie left us to go back to Japan :o(



Photobucket
I wanted to share the beautiful (and creative!) gift that our WTWC President, Susan, gave each board member at our last meeting to thank us for serving on her 2011-2012 board.

This year was the centennial celebration of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. In 1912 the Japanese gave us 3,000 cherry trees from Tokyo, Japan as a reminder of international friendship and the peace between our countries.

Photobucket
The post office created a special FOREVER stamp commemorating the 100 year celebration. The scene above is actually TWO stamps that create a whole scene.

Photobucket
I went right away to get a few booklets and they were nearly sold out before the cherry blossoms even bloomed!

Photobucket
Susan took the 2-piece stamp and mounted it on a matte.

Photobucket
I believe she used scrapbooking dots (or square foams) so that the stamp is raised.

Photobucket
Here's one stamp ~ The left side

Photobucket
Here's the other stamp ~ the right side

Photobucket
I love the Japanese and American families in the scene

Photobucket
Susan painted the frame with chalkboard paint and then sanded it some to make it look worn.

Photobucket
Before it dried she scratched in "WTWC Board 2011-2012"

Photobucket
And the stamps are dated 2012. I love this idea! 

A memory of the 2012 Centennial Cherry Blossom Festival ~ The Friendship we have with Japan ~ and the year we served on the board.

Susan's a genius! I loved my first year on the board and all of the memories we made and I love my gift! Domo Arigato, Susan xo

Pam & I decided to serve on next year's board as the American Hospitality Team once again. We will miss Akie so much, but we also look forward to working with the new Japanese team and another great year in WTWC!  

I'd better go book another Apple class asap.


Photobucket

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Best [VEGAN] Chocolate Cake EVER!





Back in March my friend Debbie T (in the blue & white floral sweater) secretly got some of my girlfriends together to celebrate my 44th birthday at Celadon Thai Cuisine Restaurant. It was so fun and I was very surprised to see them all sitting there. I was speechless...and anyone who knows me knows that's a very unnatural state for me to be in. For realz.

I had a wonderful time. Completely blown away. Thank you Debbie T!!

Photobucket
I'm the birthday queen, crown and all. Felicia L (who's in the back left by me, balloons near her head), made me the best cake ever. And it's vegan! 

I'm 100% vegetarian, however, I'm completely fascinated (borderline obsessed) by vegan cooking. I love the idea that I can create simple, clean, environmentally responsible meals that are free of all animal products, contain no cholesterol and are also delicious.

Photobucket
I don't eat many sugary sweets or desserts, but I do enjoy a treat on special occasions - like birthdays!!

Felicia found this recipe through a google search and landed on www.instructables.com 
It's called The Best Chocolate Cake EVER and you can find the recipe --> HERE <--

I will also post the recipe at the bottom of this post, but I want to make sure I give credit where credit is due.






Photobucket
I'm stunned at what these 9 little ingredients can do: 

(dry) flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cocoa powder 
(wet) water, vegetable oil, vanilla extract & apple cider vinegar.

Photobucket
And these 4 ingredients are all you need for a glaze. DOH! I forgot vanilla. OK pretend there is vanilla in this picture~I'm too lazy on this Sunday evening to attempt to photoshop it in:

[non-hydrogenated] margarine (I use Earth Balance), sugar, cocoa powder, soy milk & vanilla extract.
(If you don't want to make it vegan you can use butter and dairy milk)

Photobucket
This recipe cannot be any easier and you can actually do the mixing in your 8x8 pan to save 2 bowls. I like to use a wire whisk so didn't want to ruin my nonstick baking pan. 

Preheat your oven to 350*
Dump ALL dry ingredients in.....

Photobucket
Mix well.

Photobucket
In a small bowl (or in the 8x8 pan if you choose), dump ALL wet ingredients in.

Photobucket
Mix well...

Photobucket
Combine (if you are using 2 different bowls, like me)...

Photobucket
Mix well....

Photobucket
See? Didn't I say it was easy? Pour into an 8x8 pan sprayed with nonstick spray.

Photobucket
Tap out some of the bubbles.

Photobucket
In you go! 350* for 30 minutes. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven begin your glaze.

Photobucket
Mix the first 4 glaze ingredients in a small sauce pan (DO NOT ADD VANILLA EXTRACT).

Bring to a simmer. Turn down heat.

Photobucket
Simmer and stir for 2 minutes ~ glaze will get thick.

Photobucket
Remove from heat & stir continuously for 5 minutes.

(Here's where I forgot to show another photo...) ADD VANILLA EXTRACT. Stir in well.

Photobucket
Pour on warm cake.

Photobucket
Spread glaze evenly on cake (don't wait, icing sets quickly). 

Note: This is the point where you'd add some sprinkles or finely chopped pecans on top if you so desire. I will experiment in the future.

Photobucket
Now the hard part. Let cool for 1 hour.

Photobucket
I mean it. 1 hour.

Photobucket
Don't touch it. Don't even pick at the icing...Practice. Self. Control.

Photobucket
Stay away. Even though it's so tempting  and your kitchen smells heavenly. 

Photobucket
NOW! It's been an hour and the cake is nice and set ~ GO FOR IT!

Photobucket
My husband & I poured ourselves a glass of soy milk and got lost in this delectable dessert, neither of us speaking a word. Just sitting there. Glassy eyed. 

It's hard to believe this recipe has: no eggs, no milk, no yogurt, no butter, etc. It's as moist & flavorful as any cake I've ever eaten. Try it! You probably have everything in your pantry right now. 

Enjoy! 

Thanks Felicia L for bringing this treat into my life. It's here to stay xoxo

Thanks Alicia Katchmar for posting on instructables.com for us all to enjoy.

Best [VEGAN] Chocolate Cake EVER!
(Mix) Dry Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda

(Add) Wet ingredients:
1 cup warm water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Chocolate Glaze
1/2 cup sugar
4 tbsp non-hydrogenated margarine (such as Earth Balance) 
2 tbsp soy milk
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
(add AFTER removed from heat AND stirred 5 minutes) 2 tsp vanilla extract



Photobucket

Monday, May 14, 2012

Brenda's Vegan Pesto Pasta with Chickpeas & Avacado

Happy (day after) Mother's Day! 

I hope all of my Mommy friends had a wonderful day with your kidlettes or like me, thinking about your kidlett. I feel so blessed to be a Mom. I am missing my son so much these days. My GI Josh has been deployed to Afghanistan for 3 months now and not an hour goes by where I don't think of him, send up prayers, and worry...Some days my mind simply won't settle down so I keep myself busy by cooking. 

An itty bitty bit of history: Almost a year ago now (June 1, 2011) I went back to eating a vegetarian diet. I feel so much better since going back to plant based eating. The Summer was the easiest time for me to make the transition as all of my volunteer groups & women's clubs are on hiatus so I'm not off once a week (or more!) at a lunch, field trip, book club or party. I was able to focus on recreating recipes, shopping differently and reprioritizing my health & wellness.

I ate plant based all Summer and then on September 16th I ate my first, (since going back veg) and last turkey dog at Ben's Chili Bowl ~ a Washington DC landmark that I had read about in the papers and had wanted to go to for 10 years. I tried some of the chili fries and ate about 1/2 my dog, had a great time with my military wives friends and checked Ben's Chili Bowl off my bucket list.

The funny thing is; on my way out the door I read on the wall that Ben's served vegetarian chili dogs!  What a trip. Now I've added THAT to my bucket list ;o) Wish I'd have known before I ordered.....oh well, c'est la vie.

My son & I were vegetarians for 5 years before I met my husband in 1997....began dating....made my fiancé tofu-spinach enchiladas when all he wanted was a hamburger....got married....madly in love, I cooked all of his favorite foods....dedicated my life to making my son & my husband's belly's happy....didn't want to make TWO dinners every day....long story short: after 14 years of eating HIS way, I've gone back to eating MY way and it feels like 'coming home.'

And guess what? This time he likes my food. He's totally on board, eats my plant based meals and is 100% supportive. He eats what he wants at work and at restaurants, but at home he gobbles up my lentil stews, eats tofu, drinks soy milk and tries new things; like tempeh, lettuce & tomato sandwiches :o) Is that love or what? 




Photobucket

For Mother's Day I thought I'd post my pesto pasta recipe that I created ~ it only has 1 tablespoon of oil (which CAN be eliminated completely if you choose, but I love the taste of the toasted sesame oil and feel it adds a certain depth to the flavor). 

Also, I don't use dairy cheese in my pesto (at home I don't use any dairy milk products: no milk, cheese, sour cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.) Instead I use 1/4 cup nutritional yeast for that "nutty cheesy" flavor, but you can substitute parmesan if you want to. My husband sprinkles it in his bowl afterwards. He likes cheese :)

I will post the full recipe at the bottom of this post, but here are the ingredients that I use: 
Fusilli (spiral) pasta of your choice, toasted pine nuts, toasted sesame oil, juice of 1/2 fresh lemon, 4-5 cloves garlic, 1/3 cup nutritional yeast, 1 container of fresh basil leaves, 1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), 1 qt. container cherry tomatoes, 2 avocados, Himalayan pink sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste. (Also, 3-4T water to blend)

Optional: *Set aside 1T toasted pine nuts and a sprig of basil for garnish* 

Note: I use organic pasta, fruits, veggies, beans/legumes & grains whenever available.

Photobucket
Cook pasta according to package directions.

Photobucket
Drain & rinse the garbanzo beans. Add to pasta. Set aside.

Photobucket
Put 1/2 cup pine nuts in a nonstick skillet on medium heat and keep a watchful eye.

Photobucket
When you hear them "sizzle" stir constantly for a minute until golden and toasted. The toasting process changes the taste of your pesto to a delicious, deeper nuttier flavor. You don't want to skip this step. Trust me. You're welcome.

Photobucket
In a food processor, pulse fresh garlic & toasted pine nuts until crumbly. Your kitchen will smell amazing at this point Mmmmm. 

Photobucket
Add 1/2 avocado (this is why you don't need tons of oil!), 1T toasted sesame oil, fresh basil with 3-4 T water.

Photobucket
This is where I add 1/4 cup nutritional yeast ~ however if you prefer, you can add 1/3 cup fresh parmesan cheese, shredded or grated.

Photobucket
Add salt & freshly ground pepper to taste (I like to use Pink Himalayan sea salt).

Photobucket
Process until smooth but still slightly textured/nutty.

Photobucket
Have you used one of these to squeeze fresh lemons? Oh my....it's one of my favorite kitchen gadgets!

Photobucket
The key is to put the 1/2 lemon in upside down then squeeze.

Photobucket
You will love it! It's gets ALL of the fresh juice out. Limes too...

Photobucket
Stir in the 1/2 lemon juice. At this point the lemon keeps the pesto nice & green and you can store it in your refrigerator to add to pasta later in the day>>it's a great make ahead time saver. (If you're not making it early and putting the pesto in the refrigerator, then simply add your fresh juice to the food processor and save yourself a dirty bowl!)

Photobucket
So cut each of your washed tomatoes in half. 

Photobucket
Add the halved tomatoes & pesto to your pasta & garbanzo beans.

Photobucket
Mix well.

Photobucket
Your remaining 1 1/2 avocados are waiting...there are cool kitchen gadgets that can do this for you, but it's very simple to just cut a grid into your veggie (don't cut through the skin!) and use a teaspoon to scoop out the soft center.

Photobucket
It's easy! See?

Photobucket
Do all 3 halves and scoop into bowl.

Photobucket
Mix well. There is the perfect 'bite' right there...a few chickpeas, tomato, pasta & a chunk of avocado. Oh my.

Photobucket
This is where the few saved toasted pine nuts & basil leaves that you set aside come in...

Photobucket
Even 2-3 slices of avocado work well for garnish.

Photobucket
With the fresh veggies & the garbanzo beans as an excellent source of protein, you're all set for a healthy, delicious meal. You can add a warm, whole wheat crunchy bread too. Yum!
 
Photobucket
Mmmmmm  :)

You know, I'm not sure I'm ever going to figure out the white balance settings on my Nikon.
I digress.

Photobucket
On Saturday my husband & I had lunch out on the deck & then took our evening walk with our chihuahuas. The weather was perfect. 

Photobucket
Johnny loves his shaved parmesano reggiano cheese :)

Photobucket
And he always adds more fresh cracked pepper. See that face? I think that's the face of a happy man. I wonder if he's wishing he had a hamburger with his pasta haha. 

P.S. Johnny lost 12 pounds and wasn't even trying to lose weight. Are you kidding me?!?

----> I'M <---- the one who desperately wants & needs to lose 30 pounds to be healthier and Mr. Show-Off Skinny-Pants just lost his weight like THAT.

So frustrating, lol. Oh well, I keep pressing forward and keep my mind & heart focussed on health, exercise, wellness & compassion. It's all good. Happy Mother's Day xoxo

Brenda's Pesto Pasta

1 pound fusilli pasta, cooked according to package directions.

PESTO:
1/2 cup pine nuts (toasted)
3-5 cloves fresh garlic - to taste
1 T toasted sesame oil
1/2 avocado
1 pkg fresh basil leaves (about 2C packed), rinsed.
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (for vegan) or parmesano reggiano cheese (vegetarian)

3-4 T water
1/2 tsp sea salt - or to taste 
juice of 1/2 fresh lemon (Either added to food processor or mixed in a bowl, if making ahead of time. Either way is fine)
fresh cracked pepper - to taste


1 1/2 avocado, cubed (the remainder)
1 qt container cherry tomatoes, sliced in half.
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)

Cook pasta according to package directions, set aside. (I would NOT recommend the brown rice pasta shown in my 1st photo. I wanted to try it, but I found that after I added pesto, the noodles turned 'gooey.' They did not hold up well. I'm going back to regular spirals or a whole wheat version.)

Add everything in PESTO group to a food processor and process until nearly smooth.

Add pesto to pasta with garbanzo beans, avocado & cherry tomatoes. Mix. Adjust salt & pepper to taste.

I hope you enjoy my simple (nearly oil free) pasta as much as we do!


Photobucket