Despite most of the winter being on the warm side of things, the polar vortex has decided to remind Minnesota who reigns supreme this time of year. With the thermometer dipping below -40, I’ve been appreciating all things warm, comforting, and cozy. It’s been a struggle to get out of my warm bed and write in the mornings, but I’ve been doing it. Curled in my overstuffed armchair with my fuzziest blanket, dragon slippers, and a hot beverage, I’ve been scratching out a decent amount of words. I am proud to say that I have succeeded in writing for at least five minutes every day. Though some days it feels like I’ve made only a little progress, but it is progress all the same. Between the long hours of homework, projects, and writing, I have managed to have a bit of fun as well. Here are some of my favorite things from the past week:
There’s nothing that can warm me up and make the day better like a frothy mug of hot chocolate. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with different recipes for a homemade mug. I’ve tried everything from melting chocolate chips in milk to trying to make my own cocoa mix, and I must say that all variations are pretty darn delicious. The most recent combination I’ve been sipping is coconut milk, cocoa powder, coconut oil, cinnamon, and stevia to taste. It is creamy, delicious, and, most importantly, full of chocolate goodness! The coconut oil adds healthy fats and is supposed to boost metabolism. On the taste side, it gives the hot chocolate a super creamy texture and a slight nutty taste. The stevia keeps it sugar-free, so it makes a perfect bedtime treat!
It’s no secret that I love cheese, the more the better. When the temperature dips, I start craving baked Macaroni and Cheese, Pizza (when do I not crave pizza?), Lasagna Soup, and Manicotti. While these dishes are wonderful and staples in our household, it isn’t good to eat them as often as I want to. This week, I’ve been experimenting with vegan dishes in an attempt to incorporate more healthy, veggie-based dinners. The result of all the experiments was a delicious vegetarian feast full of protein and taste. My favorite dishes were a savory lentil-nut loaf with balsamic glaze and mashed cauliflower with mushroom gravy. The lentil-nut loaf is packed with green lentils, veggies, and had a satisfying texture with a tangy-sweet glaze. I got the recipe from my favorite cookbook–the Oh She Glows cookbook–but you can also find it here. If you try the recipe, I recommend doubling the glaze and mixing in half into the loaf because the glaze is just that freakin’ good (and so easy to make!).
The mashed cauliflower and mushroom gravy are out of this world. I prefer the taste of this mashed cauliflower to traditional mashed potatoes–and I grew up hating cauliflower. This meal not only made me feel good, it was comforting and satisfying. Whether you are a vegetarian, looking to eat healthier, or perhaps needing some meatless recipes for Lent, give them a try!
I am obsessed with all things Poirot. Last week, I mentioned that I picked up the new Poirot mystery, The Monogram Murders. I am happy to say that this book has well exceeded my expectations! I have been devouring the chapters, staying up waaay later than I should because I am hooked on the mystery. Sophie Hannah does a great job with the beloved character of Hercule Poirot, and her story is ingenious. I can’t wait to get to the end to see how it all comes together. If you love murder mysteries, pick this one up from your local library.
When I haven’t been sneaking in a few chapters late at night, I’ve been watching the thirteenth and final season of the Masterpiece Mystery Poirot series. I have seen every episode of this brilliant series, and am sad to think there won’t be any more Poirot after these last five mysteries. However, Shane and I are enjoying them while they last, using the excuse of the cold weather to snuggle under blankets with popcorn and a good mystery.
Think warm thoughts!