Sunday, September 4, 2011

Day 1 of Long Weekend

Happy Labor Day Weekend! It feels great to have a 3 day weekend. It has been beautiful outside. Not too hot. Sunny. Nice breeze. Yesterday we enjoyed the day by working out in the yard. LT was unable to do any yard work for 2 months so things got a bit overgrown. It looked a little like a jungle in the back yard. The dogs had a love hate relationship with the tall grass. I'm imagining that they played games like hide-n-seek and capture the flag. Then there is the hate....

Here is buddy covered in little grass seeds after a morning of fun in the jungle. Doesn't he look like he's annoyed? (It could be because I was taking a picture of him while he was trying to eat breakfast. he he) He is soooo cute!
After many hours of hard labor the yard looks awesome! The puppies won't be able to hide anymore but I'm sure they will be happier now that grass doesn't tickle their rear when they potty.
It was way past lunch time when we got done. I thought I was going to starve to death..... LITERALLY! We had planned to go to my favorite restaurant, Simon's but since it was late and we were all tired, we opted to stay home. Luckily my fridge is stocked full. I made Egg"less" Salad Sammies. YUM! I was a little worried about LT but he said, "This is awesome! MMMM." I was so proud.

It was delicious. It felt and tasted very similar to real egg salad.

Egg "less" Salad Sammies
heavily inspired by Healthy Happy Life
Makes 4-5 sammies

 Toasted Ezekiel bread

1 block extra firm Tofu drained and cubed

1/2 cup Veganaise
1/3 cup yellow mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp maple syrup
1 cup chopped sweet onion
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegr

salt and pepper

Alfalfa sprouts
Sliced tomatoes - salted and peppered

Wisk up dressing. Toss in tofu and mix very well. Assemble sammies. So simple, quick and delish!

I plan on having leftover sammies for lunch today! :)

Well I got to go! I'm headed to kick my butt in Pure Barre class. Have a great day!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pecan Crusted Tofu Salad with Tangy Maple Dressing

When I moved away from home nearly 10 years ago, I didn't have a whole lot of cooking experience. When I was 8 or 9, my dad bought me an apron, kids cookbook and a few kitchen tools, such as pans and spatulas. I think I made pancakes once or twice but other than playing around in the kitchen once in a while, I did not have much common sense in the kitchen.  When I got my first apartment, I remember being so excited to make my first trip to the grocery store by myself. I had cut coupons for all of the staples. Windex, bathroom cleaner, wood cleaner, Lysol,  toilet paper, paper towels, milk, fruity pebbles, peanut butter, jelly, bread, Kraft Mac and Cheese, Jar of Marinara sauce, Angel Hair pasta, salt and pepper, butter, etc...  Very basic. One night I boiled pasta and heated up marinara and was thrilled that I made spaghetti. About a few months or so, my mom came over and was looking in my pantry for the marinara sauce and open the lid to find 3 inches of mold growing in the bottle. She was cracking up and I was so confused! I bought the marinara off the shelf and not in a refrigerator section. Yes, it clearly said "refrigerate after opening," but I didn't read it. I just assumed it was like the peanut butter. There are several stories like this. Once, I made a batch of cookies and I said (to my coworkers) something like, "I'm not sure why they aren't turning out very well, it must be the high altitude." I had gotten this idea because I was in a  2nd floor apartment and on the box (yes, I managed to screw up a boxed cookie recipe) it gave special instructions for high altitude. There is no high altitude in Dallas, TX. I was clueless (and sheltered).  

Thank goodness for Rachael Ray. I just loved her show, 30 Minute Meals. It was on several times a day so I would watch and take notes so that I could learn how to cook. I even bought a knife like hers so that I would be fast at chopping veggies like her. I would say things like Yum-O and EVOO. Every birthday and Christmas, I would get at least 1 of her cookbooks from my family. I would get so excited when I would hear her 30 Minute Meals jingle on the TV every day after work. It would be the motivation that I need to get in the kitchen a whip up a meal in 30 mins (more like 60 minutes for me). As cooking became a little easier for me, I found that I loved cooking. I loved researching recipes. I get excited when I get a new cookbook. I wish I had more time, discipline, talent to be a full time food blogger. Ha ha. Lately (since June 2010) I started cooking Vegan/Vegetarian. I find that it takes a lot of planning and creativity but I really enjoy it.

The other day, I was thinking about all of my dusty Rachael Ray cookbooks and decided to pull out an old favorite.  RR's Pecan Crusted Chicken Tenders with Tangy Maple dressing. It was always a crowd pleaser so I decided to try it out with Tofu and it turned out pretty well.

I used Almond Milk instead of eggs which worked very well. I also used whole wheat flour to try to make them a little healthier. Pan frying was where I think I made a mistake. I should have baked the tofu. The tofu was a little soft and the pecan crust started burning. That's ok though because I loved it and so did LT. He went for 2nd and 3rd helpings of the tofu.

I tried to take better pictures by using my aprons to block out the clutter in the background. LOL. I realize I am an armature. I wonder if there is such thing as food photography lessons???

On another note, the wedding plans are coming along nicely. We purchased my shoes, the table decorations and our sand ceremony items.  :) Not much left to do!  47 days!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I've abandoned my post...

Where has time gone?

So much has been going on in my life and it's about time I update my blog.

The most exciting news of all is that I am engaged!

Our engagement story:
Christopher Columbus Park, Boston Harbor. The weather was mild, slight breeze and overcast. We strolled through the park as sailboats cruised through the harbor and families played in the grass with their dogs. It was a few minutes before 7 o'clock, May 12, 2011. We took a moment to sit and relish the surroundings. It was here that LT asked Ashley to take his hand in marriage. A beautiful evening on Boston Harbor, followed by a wonderful celebration on October 15, 2011.  - LT wrote this for our wedding website. Isn't he sweet!

Here I am moments before he popped the question...

It was so romantic! I felt like I was in a movie! I was so excited that I forgot to take any more pictures that night. Can you believe it?

Here we are the next day.

We have set the date for Oct 15th. It's less than 3 months away but we are doing very well with planning. We have our pastor, venue, caterer, dj, my dress, his tux, bridesmaid's dresses ordered, tuxes ordered, and our honeymoon planned. Tonight we are doing our cake tasting! I'm super excited about this! I've chosen to taste Champagne, Mocha Fudge, Strawberry and Red Velvet. No they are not vegan but that brings me to the next topic.

Battle with being Veg.

I went back and forth between Vegan, Vegitarian and Pescatarian (a pescatarian is someone who abstains from eating all meat and animal flesh except for seafood).

Vegan Pros:
My body felt the best
Weighed the least
Had less guilt
Felt I was helping the environment more

Vegan Cons:
Socially difficult
Cost a lot for convience foods
I felt guilty about not knowing how to be a perfect vegan.

Vegetarian Pros:
Cheese plates
Lot less expensive

Vegetarian Cons:
A little guilt

Pescatarian Pros:
More fun to eat at restaurants

Pescatarian Cons:
More tummy aches

So bottom line is that I have decided that I will eat Vegan for the majority of the time, Vegetarian in social situations and rarely I will enjoy a little seafood. This has created some balance in my life. =)

Here are a couple vegan recipes I made last week.

Protein Power Goddess Bowl
Cookie dough "blizzard" ~ LT loved this one!
They were delish! =)
Well that's all for now. I will try to be better about blogging. ;)