Tag: Hercule Poirot

20
Feb

Friday Favorites

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:

Hot Chocolate

Check out the Caretactics blog for more information on the health benefits of coconut oil!

Check out the Caretactics blog for more information on the health benefits of coconut oil!

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!

Comfort Food

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!).

Veggie-licious comfort food!

Veggie-licious comfort food!

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!

agatha-christie-s-poirot-series-13_acorn.tv__2703Hercule Poirot

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!

11
Feb

Creativity Inspiring French Toast

apple french toast

I love breakfast. I can’t help it–I wake up starving. Some people don’t eat much in the morning; my stomach, on the other hand, often wakes me up before my alarm demanding food. Yesterday morning, Shane and I woke up to a lovely snowstorm (and I say that without any irony at all. I. love. snow.). As the flakes flew by our window, I popped a pan of cinnamon apple baked French toast in the oven that I prepped the night before and snuggled back under the covers while it baked. The warm, cozy aroma of caramelizing apples soon filled the apartment and reminded me why I love cold weather months.

Mornings were made for this recipe. Warm, gooey, sweet, and wholesome, it is made with a shockingly short list of ingredients. As a bonus, it is also free of refined sugars and oils. Below is the recipe I adapted from the Minimalist Baker. I used a whole wheat French loaf and two Fuji apples because that’s what I had on hand. Almost any kind of bread/apples will work! Have fun and enjoy your morning (no matter how much grad homework awaits)!

 

What You’ll Need:

9×13 inch glass pan

Enough Earth Balance (or butter) to coat the pan

1 loaf French bread, torn or cubed into bite-sized chunks

2 apples, diced

​2 cups skim milk

6 eggs​

​1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tablespoons cinnamon

A few shakes cardamom and nutmeg (optional)

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

A Tablespoon or two of Sucanat for sprinkling (optional)

  1. ​Tear up bread directly into the baking pan and press down gently.
  2. In a mixing bowl whisk the eggs, milk, maple syrup, cinnamon​, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt​. Pour over the bread as evenly as you can.​ ​Get in there with your hands and mix it up so all the bread is moist.​ If some pieces look a little dry, I usually just add a little more milk to the pan.
  3. ​Add the diced apples and walnuts, saving a few of each for later. Mix them in well with the bread and egg mixture.​
  4. ​Lay the remaining apples and walnuts on top and sprinkle with Sucanat (optional)​.
  5. ​Cover with aluminum foil and let sit overnight in your refrigerator.

​Next morning:

  1. ​Preheat the over to 375 degrees. Uncover the pan and bake on a center rack for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. ​Crawl back into bed and dream of baked apples frolicking in a field of cinnamon and maple trees.
  3. Wake up to a dream come true! Remove from the oven and serve immediately with pure maple syrup. ​You’ll know when it’s done because the bread and apples will be golden brown and the egg mixture will no longer be wet. When in doubt, jiggle the pan back and forth​. If the mixture wobbles, it needs more time.​
​So good and seriously easy. Baked French Toast makes any weekday special, is a great fancy brunch dish, and would be a romantic Valentine breakfast.

​Suggested Pairing:​

A cup of organic Ethiopian Peace Coffee, snowflakes, and a good book

Monogram-Murders_612x952

This week I’m reading The Monogram Murders, A BRAND NEW mystery by Sophie Hannah featuring Agatha Christie’s beloved detective Hercule Poirot. I love Poirot mysteries, and this new story is fully backed by the Christie family. I’m so excited! It is the perfect snowy day read, and I’d like to think Hercule Poirot would be delighted with Baked French Toast.

What’s your favorite cold weather treat?​