Cozied up on my couch in an oversized wool sweater watching Christmas movies, admiring our lit up Christmas tree, enjoying a freshly made raw date square in my left hand, a cold glass of almond milk in my right, and a warm and fuzzy feeling running around inside of me...I.absolutely.LOVE.the.holidays. Despite the one too many alcoholic beverages (including peppermint patty shots whoops) and brie dip I had at Colby's Christmas party last night, I am loving life right now.
A little blurry, but here's me and Eric at the party. Adorbs, right? Especially JC in the background!
Thanksgiving really kicked off this holiday season with a bang - the whole shebang - me, Eric, Colb, Claire, my parents, Eric's parents, Eric's brother, and Claire's parents traveled to Naples, FL for Thanksgiving dinner at my Mom and Dad's house. It was a family affair, to say the least and a damn fun one. From ping pong and wakeboarding to shopping and cooking to golfing and fishing, we checked off every activity in the book. The only thing unmarked was “Play my Dad in tennis (real tennis, not table tennis)”, but I'll face him on the court at Christmas. Look out Daddy-o!
I wanted to contribute to Turkey dinner so I looked pass the eyerolls, mostly from the boys, and made a healthy dish to accompany the standard Thanksgiving feast. My Mom had the table filled with veggies, too because she's good like that. I made a quinoa dish with butternut squash, apricots, pistachios, deliciousness and more deliciousness. I scarfed that puppy down and sadly might have been the only one to have done so. I subtly scoured everyone's plate purposely looking to make sure nothing was left (cough, cough, the quinoa, cough). Much to my dismay, the ONLY thing left on their plates was a few bites of MY dish. How rude, right?! At least wash it down with the wine or something! And don't worry I made a big deal of it. :-)
Isn't it pretty though? You would have loved it. I just know it.
Oh, and how pretty was our table setting? Martha Stewart has nothing on my Mom!
Oh, and one more pic from Thanksgiving. Just love my cute fam.
I have kept the “holiday cheer” momentum up in the city by checking off my own list of fun activities.
Celebrating the beginning of December with my girlfriends. Check.
Walking around Union Square Holiday market on a gorgeous, brisk day. Check.
Decorating our "Christmas tree". Check.
Finding ways to indulge without the bulge during the holiday season. Check and check.
Consider these “indulge without the bulge” recipes an early Christmas present from yours truly. Feel like you're being naughty, but don't worry, Santa will still be squeezing down your chimney if you stay this nice to your body.
Butternut Squash is on the brain. It's just too damn good to not enjoy it to its fullest capacity during the winter season. And I'm ready for revenge since my Thanksgiving dish was a bust.
Butternut Squash Macaroni and “Cheeze”
(Vegan and Gluten-free)
1 fresh butternut squash (peeled and chopped)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Earth Balance (or other non-dairy butter)
3/4 cup unsweetened/unflavored almond milk
1 tbsp arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
6 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt (or to taste) & ground black pepper, to taste
4 servings of quinoa pasta, or whole grain pasta of your choice
Oh hello Butternut squash...
1. Preheat oven to 425F. Cut squash in half, clean out the gooeyness, and chop squash into cube-sized bites.
2. Mix chopped squash with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for about 40 minutes, uncovered, or until tender.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the “cheeze” sauce in a pot on the stove. Add Earth balance over low-medium heat. In a bowl, whisk together almond milk and arrowroot powder (or cornstarch or flour) until clumps are gone. Add into pot and whisk. Stir in remaining ingredients (nutritional yeast, Dijon, garlic, S & P) and whisk over low heat until thickened (about 5-7 minutes or so). This pic doesn't do it justice.
4. Cook your pasta according to package directions.
5. In a blender, blend the sauce with 1 cup of roasted squash.
6. Combine cooked and drained pasta with "cheeze" sauce, leftover butternut squash and anything else that tickles your fancy. I added kale, but I think spinach would taste better. Enjoy.
More Butternut Squash? Yes please.
On Friday night, Eric and I stayed in, watched Friday Night Lights DVDs and cooked Butternut Squash Soup. Yum, yum, and yum. Besides the small little incident we had with the blender...
As you know, I love a blender, but his not so much.
The soup burnt him and an emergency break was needed to purchase some aloe nextdoor.
When it finally came time to enjoy it, it was AMAZING. And guess what, no milk, no sweeteners, just amazing, no bulge, ingredients.
Butternut Squash Soup:
tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 teaspoon curry powder
6 cups (about 2 1/2 pounds) diced butternut squash
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 15 ounce cans white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 cup baked cinnamon aple chips
1. In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and curry powder and cook 3 minutes. Add the butternut squash, apples, thyme, white beans, salt and vegetable broth and the 2 cups of water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until squash is very tender, about 15 minutes.
2. Working in batches, puree the soup in a food processor or blender until almost smooth. (you get the point from the pic above)
3. Garnish with baked cinnamon apple chips.
Warning: Soup is hot and crappy blenders can't handle it.