Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bunco and Babyshower

Cravings: Marshmallow fondant, bunco, a Sunday of girlfriends showering Jaren and babygirl!

Saturday started with going to Whole Foods with my mom and volunteering to sign up for FUPI - Foreclosed Upon Pets. I had been volunteering with the Humane Society a few times but the adoptions are over 30 minutes from my house. Both organizations foster out their dogs and seem great.

We then met Katy at Cafe Manon, the French Bakery that made my birthday cake last year. If you live in Vegas and have not gone there, drop what you're doing and go now. NOW!

On our way home we saw there was a bridal show at the Marriott so we went in. Most of the vendors were a bit too "catering to the masses" for my taste. I don't mean to sound snotty at all, I just have a very specific idea of what the wedding will look like. There were a few great ones, and I got a good videographer rec. Unfortunately, they are totally booked on our date, so if you know of a videographer that does good reels please let me know. I found a baker that uses marshmallow fondant instead of regular, so that it's edible and yummy. She also can do exactly what I am looking for in the cake, woo hoo! Now if only Manon bakery could make it....Have you gone there yet? GO already!

We ran into Mrs. Nevada and approached her because I kid you not her ring was about a 10 carat center stone with probably about 10 carats of embellishment around it, and of course Katy and I wanted to admire it. She was super nice and mentioned that Three Square was her platform when she was doing the pageant. She wants to feature our wedding in the press because of the fact that it's benefiting them etc. :-)

Saturday night I went to Jaren's to pick her up for a spouse social at Alison's house. I got to see Roger and Clara for about ten minutes, and then the best part - Clara started crying "AGGIE!!!!!!" when we were leaving. I must be heartless, because the fact that she had a fit while I was leaving was the biggest compliment you can get from a 2 year old!!! I was so happy. I told you - heartless.

Alison had the place all set up for bunco:

In the kitchen, she had a cute food display set up including a cake of 3 pink dice!! And guess what she used? Marshmallow fondant!! I took a picture but she asked me not to post it, so I will respect that. Lame, Alison! The cake looked amazing and it was so delicious. Go marshmallow fondant.

Turned out I wasn't that great at bunco. I kept rolling absolutely nothing. It was probably statistically impossible how poorly I did, but I proved them wrong! One of my friends Nikki (the girl we went hiking with) won two prizes and felt so bad for me for how "hard" I was trying that she gave me one of her prizes - a very cute wine stopper. Perfect, because one of mine just broke!

I met back up with Katy that night for a drink at the Three Angry Wives Pub. It was fun to go out, but I am so glad that party of my life is mostly over. I am a homebody and love it!

Sunday morning I made several batches of "O.M.G." cookies, 

and mom helped make a veggie tray. We cut out a cabbage and a pepper for dip, 
BabyShower 022
and headed over to my friend Becca's house for Jaren's babyshower.

BabyShower 002

Becca is a therapist, and should be a party planner on the side. She did such an amazing job. Everything was beautiful and nothing was overdone. It just looked perfect.
BabyShower 003

She made those pink poms and all the food labels and ordered the flowers from a wholesale florist, and made a very cute diaper cake (below).

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We played a couple games, including this one:

BabyShower 039

which almost made Jaren cry! I tried to make mine a bit funny, and of course she guessed it was mine. What can I say? I'm hilarious!

BabyShower 048
This is my favorite - look how gorgeous she looks! This is the most pregnant Jaren has been (33 weeks), since Clara was born at 32 weeks. Jaren Jordanais Rabe - you better either have this baby in the next week or after July 19th. I want your uterus to hear me - no baby laboring while I'm in Alabama!

O.M.G. Cookies

I have posted the recipe for these before here when I first got the recipe from Ilana, but have very slightly modified them. I also have made these so many times by now that most people associate me with them!

The key to these cookies in order of importance:
1. Bread Flour
2. Refrigerating the dough
3. Browning the butter
4. Bread Flour
5. Bread Flour
6. Okay, whole wheat Bread Flour works too, but only bread flour!

These cookies come out big and thick and chewy, and stay moist and delicious for days.

My friend, Becca told me "I think you need to change the name of the OMG cookies to "D***it cookies" because that's what you say after you scarf them down and not even realize how many you had.

Here is the recipe:
-2 sticks of unsalted butter
-2 1/4 cups of bread flour (the last batch I made I used whole wheat bread flour from winco, it worked almost as well)
-1 teaspoon kosher salt
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/4 cup sugar
-1 1/4 cups brown sugar
-1 egg
-1 egg yolk (I have omitted this when I ran out of eggs once and they came out fine)
-2 tbs milk (I have used all sorts of milk - they all work)
-1/2 tbs vanilla
-2 cups chocolate chips (semisweet or bittersweet)

-Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium/low heat for 10 minutes, or until the foam has subsided. Stir every few minutes to ensure that it does not burn. Remove from burner and let cool completely.
-Add the sugar and brown sugar to the cooled brown butter, cream on medium speed with a hand or stand mixer. Add the egg and yolk, milk, and vanilla, and mix until combined.
-Add the salt, baking soda, and 1/4 of the flour. Mix until combined. Keep adding the flour 1/4 cup at a time.
-Add the chocolate chips and mix together.
-Refrigerate for AT LEAST one hour. Over night is fine too. I have frozen the dough as well.
-Using a 1.5 oz scoop, scoop onto baking sheets, about 6 cookies per sheet. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes (rotating halfway through baking, and switching oven racks). Ovens may vary - the cookies should be soft but cooked through, and slightly brown at the edges.

Once cool, put in an airtight container. The ones that are left that is!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mom's spinach/strawberry salad

Craving: Mom's spinach salad, of course

My mom is such a creative cook. In Israel you have very creative ideas for vegetable dishes and salads, and salad is basically served with EVERY meal. We would always have about 4 creative veggie dishes at a table. I get so upset with pot lucks that are all pasta based. Let's get creative people! It's not too difficult to make a side dish that is nutritious, creative, and delicious.

 A typical dinner at my house growing up was a fish or chicken, a whole grain, and let's say, 3 veggie side dishes. 

These are examples of dishes we had every night for dinner:
-sauteed green beans with spicy sauce
-broiled broccoli with soy sauce
-apple cider cabbage slaw with toasted pine nuts
-watermelon, feta, and mint salad with raspberry vinaigrette
-red cabbage slaw with pineapple
-steamed sweet carrots with sesame seeds
-"waldorf" salad - aka apple, celery, walnuts, pineapple
-roasted beets with balsamic vinegar
-eggplant with tahini sauce
-sweet potatoes stuffed with roasted grapes and goat cheese, topped with honey

and many more! Please be creative with your veggies, it's not that difficult.

This weekend Charlie has some of his best friends in town visiting for a bachelor party weekend. One of his best friends, Anthony, is having a baby in August, so he wanted to do the weekend before then. I cooked up a bunch of food for them and decided to make some healthy stuff as well (and then I ate a burger myself!).

I made two salads, both of which were delicious. When you have 4 big guys and you have one burger left but you finish a salad, you know it's just that good!

I forgot to snap a picture until we had already devoured some of it, but it still looks okay:

Here is her recipe for strawberry spinach salad:

-1/2 lb spinach leaves
-1/2 pint of strawberries, sliced
-1/2 cup (i just eyeballed this and used handfsuls) of candied pecans
-2 tbs sugar (you can use splenda)
-2 tbs white vinegar
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-2 tsp sesame seeds
-1 tsp poppy seeds
-1/4 medium onion, grated (you can chop it finely)
-1/4 tsp paprika (optional)

1. wash the spinach and mix with the strawberries.
2. In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients except the oil. Slowly whisk the oil in so it emulsifies.
3. Mix the dressing into the spinach/strawberry mix, and toss with the pecans.


Sidenote: do you have an ingredient that you always seem to buy, and then one day you find you have 4 open versions of it? One day my mom and I found like 4 bottles of white vinegar in her house!

Well, yesterday my mom went to fresh and easy and asked if I needed anything and I told her hamburger meat (for the guys...and me), and candied walnuts. Well after I made the salad, I went to put the walnuts in the pantry and found three packets! Woops. Katy is over and I just had her take a picture, in front of my finished wreaths!


1. What creative foods will you challenge yourself to make this week?
2. Is there a food you always tend to overbuy?

Half of the weather!

Craving: weather moderation!

Okay, for those who read my unfortunate fiasco about passing out from the heat while trying on my wedding dress, may remember that the heat on Tuesday (4 days ago) was this:


Well, this morning I was up at 6 am and this was the weather:



Friday, May 25, 2012


Here is my neighbor's wreath as promised. I replicated this and will post pictures when they are both done (I have one complete and two clay pots of flowers ready). Mine are red/white/blue for the summer holidays!

If you like this let me know and I can make you similar ones with whatever colors you like!


This is a picture of all of it - I took it on my iPhone so the wreaths aren't clear but I wanted you to have the full effect.

Happy Wreathing!

Emily's pregnancy shots

Emily is one of my very dear friends. She was my sister's camp counselor years ago (I think I was 14, she was 17), and is the person who took me to get my tattoo when I was 15. Yup. 15. My how I have changed. She is like a big sister to me and although we don't get together often since she lives in a different state, we stay in touch a lot. She has given me life advice and career advice and is one of the most put together people I know, with the biggest and kindest heart. She was one of those geniuses that was in college by the age of like, 16 or something, and taught herself fluent sign language! She also is prettier than barbie with her blue blue blue eyes and blonde hair, and I will always remember the bright red lipstick she USED to wear every day. Remember that Em? She mentored me a lot when I was doing behavioral therapy (for kids with autism) since she is one of the best ABA consultants in the business.

Em has a daughter Shayna, who will turn 3 on our wedding day! (October 20th). Hopefully she will be able to be one of two flower girls (along with Clary). How adorable would that be?

Since Shayna was born in October, Em had a "pumpkin shower" for her and wore this:
Seriously, cutest idea ever.

Well, Em is pregnant with babygirl 2 and due in July. So no pumpkin shower, but look at the pictures she sent me the other day! 

Beach ball for a summer baby!

This got me thinking - what are some belly shots you could do? (Yes I know I'm nowhere near pregnant but I love thinking of themes etc).

Here's what I've come up with:
-basketball for march madness
-fish bowl
-Mickie/Minnie Mouse (if your guy has a beer gut....tell him to work out! Just kidding, he could be mickie and you could be minnie)
-man in the moon (or ET over the moon)

You could honestly paint anything on it but I was trying to think of things that are spherical so that it looks like you're actually holding it.

Anybody done something like this? Tell us about it!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The best brussel sprouts EVER recipe

Several months ago my good friend Haley had me over for dinner. She made these green beans wrapped in bacon. They were seriously the best thing ever. Charlie hates green beans and when I made these, he couldn't stop eating them. Now I know, bacon=not so healthy. But really, the trick to this recipe wasn't just the bacon, but the butter/brown sugar you drizzle on top!

So I started thinking, how can I healthify that? Well, instead of butter I used smart balance, and instead of brown sugar I used splenda brown sugar. Results? Just as good!

I had brussel sprouts yesterday and wasn't sure what to do with them.

One surefire trick to brussel sprouts, is peel the top layers off! I HATE brussel sprouts and think they are so bitter when the top layer is on. Peel them? Delicious.

I searched around on some blogs including and and then decided to combine several things I saw, including Haley's trick of butter/brown sugar. I didn't have smart balance but a different low fat margarine spread, so any would work (including butter if you want the real thing, but nobody could tell the difference).

 The result? The best brussel sprouts EVER recipe. They compete with my "oh my g-d" cookies!

1 bag of brussel sprouts, top layer peeled, and quartered
1/2 cup of cashews
1/2 cup of dehydrated shitake mushrooms (NOT rehydrated).
2 tbs vegetable spread
1 tbs splenda brown sugar mix

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Prepare your brussel sprouts so they are evenly cut (halved or quartered, and PEELED). Mix them with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Add your cashews and mushrooms to the mix.
3. Microwave your margarine/butter/spread for 30 seconds, add the splenda brown sugar, and mix in. You may need to nuke it for another 30 seconds. Spread it all over the brussel sprouts mixture and mix so it is even.
4. Transfer your mixture to a glass dish and cook for an hour, mixing it up every 20 minutes.


Recipe: tricolor pasta with veggies and chicken

Usually pasta dishes are super simple, and this one was, but for some reason, it took me forever to get all the veggies ready. I am sure there are people who are quicker in the kitchen who could get it done in no time.

1 package of tri color spiral pasta
1/2 bag of frozen broccoli
2 cups of chopped kale
1 cup of mushrooms
1 yellow pepper
1 zucchini
1 jar of low sodium tomato sauce
1 chicken breast

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, chop your zucchini and pepper and put it in tinfoil with a little bit of salt and olive oil.
Seal up the foil and cook for about 45 minutes. When this is complete, open the bag and broil for 10 minutes. It should look like this or more browned (I got impatient).
2. Cook tri-color spirals as indicated on box. The last 5 minutes of cooking, add the frozen broccoli to the cooking water. Drain, and put back in the pot with half of the jar of tomato sauce. Add the pepper/zucchini mix.
*Note* I used dehydrated shiitake mushrooms since I have a big jar of them. I added them to the cooking water as well. If you are using fresh mushrooms, I recommend adding them to the zucchini/pepper mix.
3. While the oven is on 400, cook a chicken breast for about 25 minutes. I didn't marinate it, but cooked it with salt and other dried herbs.
The chicken won't be cooked through. In a small saucepan, cook the other half of the tomato sauce on medium heat. (I also added a bit of water). Cut up the chicken into bite sized pieces and add into the tomato sauce. Cook for ten minutes on medium. Add to pasta mix.
4. Steam your kale (you can do this in the microwave by putting it in tupperware with a tiny bit of water and sealing with saran wrap. It takes about 2-3 minutes in the microwave. Chop it up really small and add it in. 
5. Stir it all up, and serve yourself a bowl!

This pasta is FILLED with veggies, and everything is bite sized, so you are getting in a lot of nutrients, as well as eating less calories per bite because of the volume the veggies take up. Enjoy!

Spinach Smoothie with ginger and lime and other things I did on Wednesday

Cravings: An overall healthy day, plus a donut :-)

Yesterday I woke up and had a spinach smoothie. It was delicious! I added fresh ginger and a squeeze of lime, which I did not picture in the ingredients. Next time I will add a handful of fresh parsley or mint (whatever I have on hand, but I had neither).

2 handfuls of spinach
1 can of pineapple chunks in juice (pour the whole thing in)
1.5 cups of no sugar added vanilla almond milk
1 cup of frozen strawberries
1 tbs chia seeds
half an orange pepper
1heaping tablespoon of greek yogurt

I blended all of it and then added the ginger and squeeze of lime:

Roughly peeled and sliced ginger.

Squeezed the lime in.

Re-blended. Poured into a cup. Put the rest in the fridge for later!
Yum..... (excuse the extremely tired/puffy eyes and no make up, I woke up with a massive headache).

After I made the smoothie I was in a cooking/healthy mood so I decided to do some cooking. Charlie said that he had been craving pasta since I made the beet gnocchi, so I whipped up a big pot of tricolor spirals with tons of vegetables and chicken.
Recipe coming soon.

I also started a batch of sweet potato gnocchi, but I decided to refrigerate it before rolling it and cutting it. Recipe and pictures when it's complete.

I also made a batch of brussel sprouts that are seriously the best thing I've ever had. My mom came over for a moment and couldn't stop eating them, and Katy came over and liked them, and she doesn't even like brussel sprouts!
I'll post the recipe later today.

After lots of cooking, I went to the gym with my friend Haley. I did a short cardio workout and then bodypump. Bodypump is my favorite class. I try to do it 2-3 times a week, although I had been slacking and hadn't been in a few weeks. Haley and I are both sore today. But I love it!

I realized I hadn't gotten an oil change or anything checked on my car in far too long, so I called the mechanic and he told me I could drop my car off in the evening. My dad then met me and drove me home. I was going to drop him off and take his car to go to a DG alumni event at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art but by the time we left the mechanic it was 7, and the event started at 7, and I would have been at least 45 minutes late. 

My dad suggested we go to the farmer's market on Rampart and Vegas drive. I see it every Wednesday and can you believe I haven't gotten? I was in Heaven! My dad definitely got irritated that I was taking so long and waited in the car. I did get him to snap a picture first:

I bought yummy strawberries, amazing apricots, some white peaches, parsley (for my smoothie, and some fish I have in the fridge), and beet hummus. The beet hummus is slightly sweet and delicious.

Speaking of apricots, my sister and I would eat them constantly when we were little, when we would visit Israel for the summers. Every time we had one (and I am talking at least one or two a day), we would open it first in half and check for worms. For some reason, we believed that worms often lived in apricots. I guess this was before pesticides if we were that paranoid about worms!!!

After the farmer's market my friend from the DG alumni group texted me that they were having snacks and drinks at FIX at Bellagio after the gallery, so I took my dad's car after all and joined them. I had a glass of red wine, and then we ordered fresh donuts and I am SO glad I had one - it was definitely worth it!
We had two for the table :-)

It was so good to see some of my friends that I hadn't seen in a while. I am actually meeting up with my friend Jodi who was there to work on a red/white/blue wreath for Memorial Day!

I dropped my dad's car off at my parent's house and Katy picked me up. We stopped at the store and I bought HUGE avocados and made more chocolate/berry avocado pudding. This batch is definitely the best so far! It's also really filling.
Recipes and other fun stuff to come!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wedding dress fitting fiascos are for real life too!

Cravings: Cooler weather!
Random fact of the day. Apparently in NV, you have to undergo more training etc to become foster parents than to adopt kids. I had lunch with great friends today who are becoming Daddy and Daddy to two wonderful kiddos in the next few weeks!

So. Back to topic. Ever seen that Sex and the City Episode where Carrie gets a major panic attack in the wedding dress she tries on with Miranda? Or the episode of Greys Anatomy where the exact thing basically happens? Or in Bridesmaids where the unspeakable happens?

Well this is what happened in Vegas today:

That's right, it's only May. Ugh.

Well, yesterday and today I wasn't feeling 100%, but not "sick" per se. Just sort of headachy, allergies type of things.

At my fitting today, I decided to keep my leggings on. I have a very small waist but my body more than makes up for it in booty/thighs. Last time I wore it, my thighs got a bit "glowy", so I decided to see if "biker shorts" on the wedding day would be a smart idea (stop eating cheerios at night and lose your thigh fat, Avigail!).

Well, we were in the main display room where everyone walks in and the front door is, and all of a sudden I felt extremely HOT, and very slightly dizzy. I asked my mom if I could have my water bottle and she said no, not to risk spilling (I had my favorite Arizona Iced Tea mix in there). I sort of pouted in the typical Avigail fashion and carried on with the alterations. Less than a minute later all the color drained from my face, and thank goodness my seamstress just called it, because I would have probably cracked my head fainting! I caught myself with her help and that feeling quickly passed - but I felt like I was going to throw up all over my dress!!!

Geez I am so difficult.

We pulled up all the layers and took my leggings off - somewhat of immediate relief. Poor mom, felt so bad not giving me my water! They ran to get me COLD water and we went to a private room in the back of the store, away from the front door bringing in 110 degree weather. My poor mom was freezing through the rest of the appointment, but I felt super! I guess super besides the humiliating experience of being a fainting bride. At least I have the 110 degree weather as my excuse, because I know marrying Charlie in that dress is the best decision I will ever make! (Better even than my Brazilian blowouts!)

We decided to shorten the heavy silk lining of my dress so at the bottom, only a lace layer shows. This way you can see my hot pink shoes, and I don't overheat. We also shortened it in the back, but it's still long and elegant with a great lace train.

Mom snapped several pictures which I obviously won't post, but I did edit one of me sitting down cooling off so you can see just the bottom (a sneak peak) and my shoes and the lace layer over the lining!

pink shoes

Well, what can I say? Beauty is pain; in the movies, it is humor; in my case, beauty is fainting and almost throwing up on your dress! Can't wait for October 20th, you ready bridesmaids?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rest of the weekend part 2: Smoothies, Winco, and Cooking!

Cravings: Healthy smoothies, homemade wreaths, bulk foods, and cooking!
Fact: Did you know that you can toss in spinach or kale to most smoothies and not even taste it? You can also add in herbs like parsley or mint that give it a great flavor. Adding a touch of citrus like lime, or even grating up some ginger into it gives it that touch of oomph it may be missing!

On Saturday morning Katy came over for a walk. I decided to make a spinach smoothie drink. I used two big handfulls of fresh spinach, one can of pineapple chunks with the juice, half of a yellow pepper, half of an avocado (I was out of bananas and wanted some creaminess), about 1/4 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and a dash of agave nectar, and a squeeze of fresh lime.
Yes I realize my shirt is brighter than my smoothie. But I love it!

Katy and I went for a walk in my neighborhood, and I decided to stop at the last house I pass almost every day, and ask how she made her wreaths. They are absolutely beautiful. Katy was mortified, but the Israeli in me decided to just knock and ask! So glad I did because she showed us her collection and how easy it was to make them. When I make them, I'll post the tutorial.

Later that day, I went with my mom to Winco. I highly recommend people check this out! A few things to note.
1. They do not accept credit cards, only debit cards.
2. It is HUGE. I mean Costco size massive.
3. The butchery and deli will really do anything for you. Find a block of cheese you like? Take it over there for slicing. Find the perfect meat you want but it's not cubed just right? Take it over and they'll do it. No extra charge.
4. They have the most incredible bulk selection. I was in Heaven.

They had rows and rows of this. Flours, nuts, seeds, rices, pastas, candies, etc!

I had two great finds.
1. Short grain brown rice. Why is this so great you ask? Well, risotto is made from short grain rice. I have been searching for short grain brown rice ever since I watched an Alton Brown Good Eat's episode that featured it. I didn't need it so desperately as to search online, so I never used it. Later I will feature my brown rice risotto recipe.
2. Whole wheat bread flour. I did not know this existed!! Bread flour is what makes the "oh my g-d" cookies so amazing! Whole wheat bread flour? Trying this as soon as there is room in our tummies.

I didn't need any spices but know where to go next time I do!

They even had some bulk goodies for your furry best friend:

Over the next two days I cooked the beet gnocchi I had previously prepared with some vodka sauce and shredded turkey (foster farms turkey breast in the slow cooker with one bottle of beer). I alo made

Brown rice risotto:

Chili (with the green chilis the Mountains left for us)

Avocado based pudding:

And a few other random things that I forgot to snap pictures of. I made mom a yummy grilled cheese combining fresh mozzarella from Costco and the sliced one I got at Winco. Also, I found a new cereal and we already finished the box - chocolate chex!

One of Charlie's best friends Mark came to visit because he has a convention here that he comes for each year (wow I cannot believe it's been a year since the last time he was here!). We enjoyed a dinner and I enjoyed a glass of red wine that I really enjoyed. I photographed it so I'd remember when I want to buy it again. Knowing me, this bottle will stay on the counter with one glass gone for about 2 weeks before I realize it's gone bad! I must remember to enjoy a glass of wine soon!

Last picture to share: on a walk on Sunday we ran into this lady. I got so excited since Eden's favorite dogs have always been shnauzers. I hope it was a sign that I'll see her again soon!

I finally worked out again after a short hiatus (2 mile run, in intervals, again not much but better than nothing), and am off to go see a chic flick with my fellow 18th RS spouse friend Alison. I love me some Jason Segel!

Bachelorette tonight! Prediction is still Arie!

Chili Verde

I have several bags of frozen green chilis in my freezer that our friends left us when they PCS'd to a new base. (PCS means permanent change of station for the military and happens every few years).

-About 3-4 pounds of any stewing meat, cubed. I used pork chuck, but you can use chicken thighs, beef chuck, even turkey loins!
-One bottle of beer. I used miller light because we have it around, but you can use any!
-One small can of tomato paste, plus 2 cans of water
-Salt and pepper, to season the meat
-2 tbs Chili powder
-1 tbs Cumin
-1 tsp cinnamon

1. Season both sides of the stewing meat with salt and pepper. Sear for about 3 minutes on high heat on both sides.
2. Transfer to a crock pot. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
3. Enjoy!

*This can be a healthy recipe if you use lean meat such as chicken or turkey breast, or a lean pork loin*

Brown Rice Risotto with Vegetables

Do you ever crave something that tastes creamy and fatty? Well, if you do, but want something healthy, with literally NO butter, NO cream, and NO cheese, you have to try this recipe. I have always said risotto is one of my best dishes. Once you have the basics, you can make any variety you want. I make butternut squash risotto for Thanksgiving each year for exmple. I also love it with corn and pine nuts. Mmmmm. My sister's boyfriend, Jason likes to make it with tomatoes and basil. They are both med students and so it must not be that complicated of a dish for them to be able to make it!

They key to risotto? Short grain rice!

When I found short grain brown rice at winco, I was super stoked. It didn't work as well as I thought, and took a really long time, but it eventually worked, I just had to be patient.

1/2 large onion, diced
Extra Virgin Olive oil, to cook the onion in
Kosher salt (measurement unknown)
3/4 cup of short grain brown rice
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup of wine (I didn't have white which I would recommend so I used red, it worked fine)
1 32 ounce box of chicken broth (I use low sodium from costco)
1/2 cup dehydrated shitake mushrooms, rehydrated (you can use fresh, but I have a huge box of dehydrated ones)
1/3 cup of green beans, chopped into 1/2 inch slices
1 cup of fresh spinach

1. Sprinkle enough olive oil in a small pot (with a lid) to sautee half of the onion. Add salt to flavor the onion (I have no idea how much I used, probably 1/2 a teaspoon, but honestly, just eyeball it). Let it cook for about 10 minutes on medium, until it soft and slightly browned.
2. Add your rice and let it cook with the onion for about 5 minutes, to toast the grains. Add your chopped garlic cloves and let cook for another 2 minutes.
3. Pour in the wine and stir constantly until the liquid evaporates.
4. Start pouring in chicken broth a bit at a time, about 1/4 cup or so. Stir constantly. When the rice has soaked in the liquid, add in more.

* I realized after about 15 minutes of adding liquid, that it wasn't being absorbed by the rice like in regular risotto. Realizing it was brown rice which needs to steam, I shut the lid for about 10 minutes,  while on medium heat, and then stirred and added using that technique. When I was about 3/4 of the way with the chicken broth, I did not have to continue to shut the lid*

5. When there is about 1/2 of the broth left, add in the mushrooms. Continue as normal.
6. At about 1/4 of the broth left, add in the green beans. Continue as normal.
7. When all the broth has been absorbed, add in the spinach and stir it in.

Best served immediately.

Chocolate/Berry Avocado Pudding

My first little, Caroline Gilger, has a healthy living blog I highly recommend you follow. She posted about chocolate avocado pudding, and later posted about raspberry avocado pudding. I made the chocolate version and it was a bit too bitter for Charlie. So he suggested dipping berries into it. I did so and he liked it, so I just added in about a cup of them. Voila!

2 ripe medium/large avocados
5 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbs stevia
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup frozen berries (I used a mix of strawberries and costco's antioxident mix)
2 tsp cinnamon
cayenne pepper (to your discretion)

1. Put all ingredients except berries in a food processor. I suggest doubling the recipe
2. Mix for about a minute. Scrape the sides, mix again. Make sure the avocado is fully creamed into the mixture.
3. Take out of food processor, put in the frozen berries, leave out so they defrost. After they defrost (about two hours), mix it all in together. I like the fruit a bit chunky in it, but you can also put it in the food processor if you want it more smooth.
4. Don't tell your children it's based off of avocado!
5. Make another batch immediately, because you'll finish this one.