The Fantastic Friday Five is a weekly series featuring odds and ends from my everyday life – food, running, gardening, home-ownership and more!
Happy Sunday everyone! Yeah, that’s right – I’m still doing a “Fantastic” post even though it’s not Friday. It’s my blog and I can cheat if I want to. :) Here’s what I’ve especially enjoyed this week:
#1: Black beans and salad with balsamic vinaigrette
I love love LOVE making black beans from “scratch”, and Elise’s recipe from Simply Recipes is my absolute favorite way to prepare them. I served them with warmed corn tortillas, corn bread, and a fresh salad made with local lettuce and tomatoes. We’ve been using a fabulous balsamic vinaigrette from Chinese Grandma. Make this dressing. And make those beans. Uh oh, now I’m getting bossy…
#2: Guilt-free “2-ingredient” cookies
So. I’ve learned something mind-blowing this week. You can make a fantastic (and healthy!) cookie base with mashed banana and “quick” oats (pulse regular rolled oats with a blender/food processor if you don’t have any). Really – it worked! Find the recipe/method here at The Burlap Bag. I chose a few “add-ins”: a touch of vanilla, a drizzle of maple syrup, chopped walnuts, and smattering of mini choco chips. They didn’t photograph particularly well (in part because they were my last 2 and I was anxious to eat one of them…), but trust me that they are super delicious. Go make these TONIGHT. Apparently I’m passionate about my picks this week. :) Special shout-out to my friend Wendy for turning me on to these cookies – she’s always finding great new cooking ideas!
#3: Classic (NOT guilt-free) chocolate chip cookies… vegan-style!
Although healthy cookies are amazing, sometimes you just need a full-fat, full-sugar, classic chocolate chip cookie. Travis is a sweetheart and he claims to love all of my creations (including the ones I’m not a huge fan of, which initially made me a little suspicious… but no, he’s just really that easygoing), but he hinted recently that good old-fashioned chocolate chip cookies are one of his favorites. When he had a super late night at work last week I knew I could cheer him up with some fresh-baked cookies waiting for him when he eventually got home (at almost 11, ugh.). It worked! The trick was that I used a recipe I’ve been pining after for all of the glowing reviews it gets: “THE chocolate chip cookie” from Sally’s Baking Addiction (love her site!). I subbed out the egg for one generous flax egg (1 TBS ground flax seed whisked with 3 TBS warm water, then left to set for at least 5 minutes), and I used vegan butter (Earth Balance) instead of dairy butter, making them vegan. I used dark chocolate chips (that were not certified vegan, but I easily could have used vegan chips). And I had to settle for some hearty (a bit grainy) whole wheat flour. Well. WELL. They were most definitely the BEST cookies I have ever made! I’m admittedly not the best baker, but I can tell you that these cookies, even with my ingredient modifications, can stand up to any chewy cookie out there! Well done, Sally. :)
#4: Garden update – ready to plant!
I finally got the part of the garden I am going to use this year ready to plant, and that painstakingly sloooow process had me overwhelmed and doubtful of my ability to pull off the garden I want. But then I pulled out the box of seeds and super helpful notes from my sister, Mia (AKA gardeness extraordinaire – check out her blog on gardening and parenting, Living in the Shoe!), and I went nuts making a garden plan! I did research on companion planting (basically which plants are friends and which are enemies), and I know what I can plant now, and what needs to wait until the soil warms up a bit more. Oh, and I’ve already tackled my first pest problem with some aphids on the pepper and tomato seedlings I bought from the Farmers’ Market. Problem is, now that I’m feeling pumped and ready to go, we’ve had rain for about a week straight here in northern New England… It looks like tomorrow will be warm and sunny, though, and it’s a holiday here in the US, so wish me luck as I tackle planting!
#5: When a trail run turns into a mud run…
My sister, Beth, and I ran another race this weekend, the Pineland Farms Trail Running Festival 5K. We went into this race never having visited Pineland before, so we had no idea what the course would be like. Well, first of all, it was more hills than I’ve ever run at one time in my life, especially not crammed into 3.1 miles. On top of that, remember that rain I mentioned above regarding gardening woes? Yeah, that. It was downpouring right before our race, and a balmy 45 degrees. We were freezing and SOAKED before we even started. The trails themselves were a muddy mess. Like, suck your shoes off your feet, 1/2-inch of muddy water in your shoes at all times kind of muddy. There were a couple hills we didn’t dare run up (believe me, we did try) because it was so slippery we were afraid we’d fall flat on our faces. All that slipping around and hills was brutal on our bodies (and we’ve both been under the weather lately), so it was not a pretty time. Upside? We had tons of fun regardless of the pain and the discomfort. :) And the rain did slow to a drizzle toward the end of our race so we were able to fully enjoy the potluck cookout and free beer. Hehe.