Things Making Me Happy

It gets a little rough here by February. Don’t get me wrong, I was always (and still am, a little) offended inside by people talking about how hideous February is in Ohio. My birthday is at the end of the month, and when you add in Valentine’s Day to break up the monotony, it’s not so bad, right? Hmmm. I haven’t seen the sun since last Wednesday I believe. I know there was some Friday, but I arrived to and departed from work in darkness…Definitely not a ray detected in the past 3 days. I think I’m just trying to see if we’ll break the record that I tracked a few years ago when we went 9 days without noticeable sunshine! All of this calls for me to internally review my personal philosophy–just hang on for spring, stay busy, and keep taking Vitamin D. After all, it would be worse in Alaska or Greenland, I suppose.

So, in the spirit of February (love it or hate it) here are 5 things I am pleased with right now. I hope you might pick up a tip or two along the way!

1. This snow was pretty today. It came down in huge flakes (look in the upper right corner of the tree picture!), and fast. I caught my tree with my neighbor’s tree just behind it.

tree Feb 2013

2. This French Lentil Soup with Tarragon and Thyme was out of this world. I finally cooked a full recipe from Veganomicon. I fully recommend you try to find this recipe and make this…or buy or get the book from the library. This is a superb cookbook to have, whether you eat vegan or not. This recipe was not as detailed as some of the Veganomicon recipes appear to be.  As I mentioned in the past, I have used this cookbook quite a bit for basic knowledge in cooking veggies. Oh, how I just wanted to inhale this soup in between gazing at how pretty it looked in my red pot.

PPK Lentil soup







3. This greens mix is contributing to my Zen attitude. I noticed the Power Greens mix (also by Earthbound Farms) was out at the store. I like this better anyways. I found this at Whole Foods. The greens (all young) are spinach, Asian mustard, Kale, Chard, and Mizuna.

Zen Blend










4. Cast iron pan. I’ve always been frightened of these things…certain that everything would stick. Believe me, I could make butter stick (back when I used it). I had looked at Lodge brand pre-seasoned cast iron on Amazon before, but was still skeptical. I found this Lodge skillet at Home Goods for only 14.99, and the seasoning looked reasonably likely to work. I just got it out today and look how pretty it is.  I feel confident I can use it for most tasks. The care is simple, wash and use a stiff brush only with hot water. Lightly oil with a paper towel after each cleaning.

Red pepper in Lodge cast iron pan

5. Recipe from Happy Herbivore Abroad cookbook by Lindsay Nixon, for “Nona’s Chickpeas”, using cast iron pan. All for me!! My significant other hates green olives. I find most of Lindsay’s recipes are on the easier (quicker!) side–and if I haven’t made it clear over the past year, that is a good thing. They are super healthy, fully plant-based, and don’t even use oil. They fit into my meal planning pretty easily. The truth is, I do have to alter some things for the boys, but that’s to be expected in my world.

HHA recipe-"Nona's Chickpeas"

6. Ok, there’s a quick 6th. Have you seen the movie The Blind Side? The real-life main character was on the winning Baltimore Ravens in the big game last night. They featured him with his adoptive family on the news tonight. I just love that story and movie. Truthfully, I would really love to meet the real-life mother, Leigh Ann Tuohy. Read/watch the above link and you probably would love to as well… If you haven’t seen the movie, you should. I think I’ll be watching it again soon…Distraction in February is the key…

How’s your winter going? Or if it’s your summer, please fill us all in. Give us hope!


Greens and more greens…and a recipe

I hope you had great holidays; it seems that all of us get some time off from the regular routine, no matter what we are celebrating. Personally, the whirlwind of the week before Christmas just about did me in. I had a huge amount of work due the 21st on a project related to my job, and a million other things to do. I’m glad that’s over. Now I feel peace…

Extra free time is such a gift, seriously. I have so enjoyed using my WordPress blog reader and checking out old and new blogs that I have not had time for.  I’ve had time to delve  into recipes without worrying about time requirements or rushing somewhere…

I received a new cookbook from my mom, which I love-Wild about Greens, by Nava Atlas. This is such a beautiful book. If you are a book lover, you will relate…pleasing green colors on dust jacket (color green enhances serotonin production in the brain, you know), nice feel to the pages, illustrations throughout that help me with identification of my greens, and easy to follow directions, with tons of tips. I made a few recipes already which turned out well. I think she has set me straight on kale chips…they definitely turned out better than my past attempts.

Here is a picture of her Kale Salad with Dried Fruits and Nuts in a fun container I found at TJ Maxx. This was still delicious 2 days later! In Wild About Greens, Nava gives basic directions for massaged kale salads and easy variations. I used Craisins and walnuts. Although I had made a variation of this in the past, she provided the best instructions I have seen. Click here for Nava’s quick video on making a massaged kale salad, which I got from her website VegKitchen.

kale salad in frigoverre container


I’ve also meant for a very long time to share the following recipe I developed. I can’t believe I found this picture of it too. Just before I started this blog in March 2012, I was building confidence with cooking quinoa and greens. I saw an email at work that our hospital was having a cooking contest for Nutrition Month. I think the top meal would be served in the cafeteria. I tinkered with this recipe a bit and submitted it, sure that I would be in the top few. It is a quick, well-rounded, gluten-free, plant-based meal. It was not meant to be, and I will admit I was disappointed that I never heard back from them. But here it is.  I like to think at least one of the folks that judged the recipes took this one home and is using it…He, he, we all have our daydreams…




Easy and Colorful Spinach and Quinoa (Entrée)


1 c quinoa grain

2 c water

1 vegetable bouillon cube (use cube designed for 8 oz of broth) if desired to add flavor to the water–can be omitted if desired

1 TBSP +1 tsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

2 tsp minced garlic from jar (approx 4 small cloves)

¼  cup pine nuts

8 packed cups washed and ready to eat fresh spinach (approximately 10 oz in weight). You can add in more if desired because it will reduce down significantly in cooking.

1/8 tsp kosher salt

1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup Original flavor Craisins (or any sweetened cranberries)


  1. Using small sauce pan, bring 2 cups of water to boiling, then add the bouillon cube and stir to dissolve. Add the quinoa, stir, and reduce to simmer. Cover and simmer according to package directions, until water is absorbed (usually 10-15 minutes). Fluff quinoa, remove from heat, and keep covered.
  2. As the quinoa is cooking, heat olive oil in large non-stick skillet on medium until hot. Add garlic and pine nuts and stir for 1 minute. Keep the skillet on medium for the remainder of cooking.
  3. Add about ½ of the spinach and stir constantly to coat and distribute the oil mixture.
  4. Once spinach is mostly wilted, move it to the outside of the pan and add the remaining spinach in the open “hole” in the center. Stir the fresh spinach in the middle for 1-2 minutes. Stir the entire pan as needed to evenly cook the spinach.
  5. Stir spinach mixture frequently and once nearly fully wilted, add salt, pepper and Craisins.
  6. Stir another 1-2 minutes to warm but do not overcook the spinach. Add more pepper to taste.
  7. Serve the spinach (with some of the toppings included) on top of a large spoonful of quinoa. Combine them if desired.

Recipe is easily adjusted to add more spinach, pine nuts, or craisins if desired.

Serves 3-4

Entire recipe takes 25-30 minutes.


Have you ever entered a recipe contest? Do you like to fix greens?

Have a great week!