Thursday, December 29, 2011

Holidays Offline

Sorry I've been MIA over the past couple of weeks!! I've been taking a bit of an offline break, so that I can enjoy the holiday festivities to the absolute fullest.

My parents have just arrived for a visit and will be staying until after New Years and by January 3rd everything should be back to normal in the Vegvacious household.

The good new is that you must come back to visit me in 2012 because I have some great things planned! I am in the process of reviewing my goals in 2011 and making a new list for 2012. I have some great recipes that I'm going to be sharing and I'm going to be making some lifestyle changes to get back on track after all of the holiday indulgences. Derek and I also have a couple of trips in the works for 2012 and I'll be sharing all the deets on those with you very, very soon.

Oh.....and Derek got me a new 'toy' for Christmas which will hopefully improve the quality of the pics  on the blog {wink wink}!!! I can't wait for that!


I hope that you're having a wonderful holiday so far and I wish you a very safe & Happy New Year.

I shall see you in 2012!!!

Until then,


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What I Ate (the Week Before Christmas) Wednesday

Happy December 21st! It's hard to believe that this is the last What I Ate Wednesday before Christmas!!!

Thanks to Jenn for continuing to host such awesome eats parties every Wednesday!!!
Derek and I have been busy with Christmas shopping, parties, gift wrapping and decorating. There's also been alot of treats and temptations popping up all over the place --- cookies in the lunchroom at work, neighbours dropping over with baked goodies and wine and mixed drinks at all the celebrations. How do you handle all the treats and sweets at this time of year??

I have a hard time because I love Christmas goodies, but I do try to indulge in moderation. My rule of thumb is that I am going to enjoy the things I love. For me that includes shortbread, cheesecake and stuffing. I don't indulge just for the sake of indulging ---- if it's something that I can live without, then I can usually pass it by without too much trouble.

Since we've been so busy, I've been really bad about taking pics of my eats. It's not so much a 'day in the life' as it is some of the things I've been eating over the past week.

One of my fave things about winter is clementines. I betcha that I eat 4 - 6 per day!!

I've also been loving this homemade trail mix. This was a treat that was given to Derek and eaten by me ;-)

Yesterday I made an awesome Creamy Polenta with Artichokes, Carmelized Onion and Olive Ragout. It was the first time I ever had polenta and I LOVED this meal! It was healthy, comforting and really filling - a perfect combo for a winter dinner!

I've only made one Christmas treat so far. Let's just say I have a lot of baking to do between now and Sunday! This Chocolate Graham Toffee Bark is sooooo good. Instead of using semi-sweet chocolate chips, I used milk chocolate and I topped the bark with crushed Heath bits. It's to die for! It's easy to make and freezes well (which helps to keep my sticky little fingers out of it!)

When I find myself craving a piece of bark or other sugar-laden treat, I've been having a chocolate chai herbal tea instead. The chocolatey aroma of this tea while it's steeping is to die for! It's also a great pick-me-up in the middle of the afternoon when I'm having a lull at work.

So there are some of my eats this week; what have you been enjoying?
Do you have any tips on how to survive all the temptations of the holiday?

Have a great day!!!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

So it's taken me a week to get my post written and ready, but I'm finally going to share the crockpot potato soup that I promised you last week. Derek and I polished off an enormous crockpot full of soup over the past week and we both agreed it was an awesome recipe that we'll be using throughout the cold wintery months.

Would you believe it if I told you I found the recipe through Pinterest??? Hard to believe right {wink wink}?! I know I probably come off as a little obsessed over this whole pinning craze, but I have to tell you I have found SO MUCH inspiration. I've crafted a bit, baked some new recipes, found some new blogs and even tried out a hair tutorial for loose curls (which I happen to be sporting for the first time right now)!!

Anyways, I could go on and tell you about all my wonderful pinning adventures, but I'll try to stick to the topic of the day ---

Loaded Baked Potato Soup (crockpot recipe)
Recipe from Mama Loves Food (varied to make it vegetarian)
Makes A LOT!!!! I guestimate about 8-10 servings

This is a thick and hearty soup that is just perfect for those cold blustery nights when all you want to eat is something that will warm you from your toes to your nose. It's a delicious vegetarian soup and if you aren't a vegetarian, you could easily sub chicken stock for the veggie broth and add crumbled bacon as a topping.

5lbs yellow potatoes, washed and diced (you do not have to peel)
1 lg yellow onion, diced
10 cloves of garlic, minced
8 c vegetable broth or chicken stock
12 oz cream cheese cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tbsp Spicy Mrs. Dash (you can use your fave seasonings)
sea salt & pepper to taste

Must have toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, chopped green onions or chives, crumbled bacon (for the meat eaters)

Combine the potatoes, onion, garlic, seasoning and vegetable broth in the slow cooker. Cook on high for 6 hours or on low for 8 - 10 hours. Once the soup is done cooking, keep the crockpot on low and mash up the potatoes using a potato masher. I just partially mashed the potatoes and left lots of chunky bits.Add the cream cheese and  and then use a hand mixer to combine. Let simmer, as it will probably take 10 - 15 minutes for the cream cheese to be completely melted in.

I was a little skeptical when the soup looked like this.....

...but thank goodness for the cream cheese, which gave the soup a nice creamy colour....

Top with your choice of toppings and serve immediately.

I give you the epitome of comfort food!!!

Have a great day,

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wordless Holiday Weekend

WELCOME and won't you come in!!!! We've been busy little elves in the Vegvacious house --- when we weren't out enjoying ourselves at Christmas parties, we were home geting our house all gorgeous and festive.
I think we did a pretty fabulous job.

...would you believe me if I tell you I made the wreath and outdoor arrangement????

Now get going and enjoy the last few hours of sweet freedom before the work week is upon us!!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What I Ate Wednesday

Happy Wednesday!

I made some really great recipes this week, so I'm going to cut the chit chat short and get right to all my yummy eats.......


Greek Yogourt sweetened with honey and topped with Pumpkin Harvest Granola


Loaded baked potato soup. This is a crockpot recipe that will be coming very, very soon! We think it tastes even better the second day, so we've had this for a couple of lunches now :-)


Honey mustard roasted veggies over quinoa (recipe by Kris). Best veggie recipe I've tried lately!!! If you love honey mustard, you will LOVE this recipe --- I took the leftovers to work the next day and had them in a wrap for lunch. SO. GOOD!

So there you have it! Short and sweet and sooooooo delicious! If you're looking for more meal inspiration, head on over and check out Miss Jenn's What I Ate Wednesday page.

I suspect we might even find some awesome recipes for the holidays over there!!!

What have you been munching on this week?

Have an awesome day,


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Cookies

I love to eat all the Christmas baking that is shared through the holiday season, but last year was the first time I actually did some baking myself. I've  always said that I wasn't a baker, but I had so much cookie success that I've decided I'll make an exception at Christmas.

As a kid, my all-time favourite Christmas Cookie was a buttery shortbread. I still love me some shortbread, but I've gotta spread that love around to a whole bunch of others too. I'm not great at coming up with cookie recipes myself, so I browsed the blog world last December and found these amazing recipes.

Oreo Balls (recipe by Jessica) - You're going to notice that a lot of my recipes came from her last year, but every single thing she makes is just so good, I can't resist her recipes! These were like mini oreo cheesecakes and were my absolute favourite cookie last year!

Soft Gingersnap Cookies (recipe by Maria) - Ok, so Maria is an awesome baker too! I never had a real love for gingersnaps....until these!

Gingerbread Men - I think the secret ingredient in this is butterscotch pudding!

Peanut Butter Blossoms - Who doesn't love a peanut butter/chocolate combo??

Holiday Thumbprints (recipe by Mother Lovett/Jessica) - simple, traditional and delish! I coloured the coconut red & green and that made these a huge hit with my neices and nephew.

Shortbread Cookies - These are melt-in-your mouth delicious! I didn't add anything to fancy them up because they are perfect all on their own.

Last year, our freezer was filled with these delicious little bites and they all froze really, really well.

....and this year, I'm planning on adding these bad boys to the list:

Vanilla Pudding Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe by Maria) - I'm going to use Christmas M & Ms in place of the chocolate chips

Cookies and Cream Oreo Bark (by Naomi) - Okay, so I love oreos especially when you add chocolate! This is one of my "pins" on Pinterest.

White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge - I confess this is another Pinterest find! You've gotta have a little peppermint included in your Christmas baking --- it's just one of those unwritten rules!! :-D

So is your mouth watering yet???
Do you have some Christmas baking that's become a tradition in your family?
If you have some great family recipes that you'd like to share, attach a link so I can check it out!

Now go grab a snack {wink wink} and have yourself an amazing day!


Monday, December 5, 2011

Pumpkin Harvest Oatmeal

Happy Monday Morning.

Did you all have a fabulous weekend? Our weekend didn't go quite the way that I expected, but it still turned out to be pretty darn good. Yesterday we were supposed to put up our Christmas decorations, but sadly it was pouring rain and very muddy and we decided to put if off a few days because all of our decorations are stored in the shed in the backyard. Derek has some down time this coming week, so fingers crossed that our house will be completely "Christmas-fied" by the time next weekend rolls around. Have you decorated your house yet???

Since decorating was delayed, I decided to get busy in the kitchen and make a couple of things that had been brewing in my head. The first thing I did was to get a baked potato soup together in the crockpot for dinner. It  was really yummy and I'll be sharing the recipe with you later this week.

Once the crockpot was ready and simmering away, I got busy making a new granola. It's been a while since I did a batch and I've been dreaming about a pumpkin-flavoured granola since I was at my parents for Thanksgiving. So, I pulled out everything I had that would go great together and got to work.

Pumpkin Harvest Granola

This is a great granola that encompasses all the flavours of Fall. The nice thing about granola is that you can customize it to include anything you have in the cupboards. You also can sweeten it up to your liking and use any add-ins that make your mouth water ;-)

3 c old fashioned rolled oats
1 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp dried cranberries
1/4 c pepitas
1/4 c. pecan pieces
1/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
1.5 tsp cinnamon
heaping 1/2 c pumpkin pie filling*
1/4 c tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla

*Note - After posting this recipe, I've made a couple of minor changes to make it even better! I increased the amount of wet ingredients because I found that the granola wasn't quite as sweet and sticky as I would have liked. The recipe now reflects my changes.

Pre-heat your oven to 325. Line a large baking pan with parchment paper.

Combine your dry ingredients (oats, chia, cranberries, pepitas, pecans, coconut & cinnamon) in a large bowl. Stir to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk together the  wet ingredients.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients until well combined.

Pour your granola into your baking pan and spread out evenly.

Bake for 25 - 35 minutes. I've had many accidental granola burnings so I bake my granola at a low temperature and I stir every 5 to 7 minutes. It's ready when the granola is baked to a golden brown.

Store unused granola in an airtight container.

*Note - I thought that I bought pure pumpkin, but discovered it was actually pumpkin pie filling. You could easily use pure pumpkin and your own spices, but then you would have to sweeten it up with more maple syrup.

I'm really looking forward to eating this granola on top of some Greek yogourt sweetened with honey. Breakie is going to be goooo-ooood this week!!!

This would also make a great hostess gift if you stored it in a mason jar wrapped up in your fave ribbon.

Don't you love my fabric/ribbon choices???
This is a hint of what my new garland looks like :-D

Have you ever made your own granola before? If you have, what's your fave add-in?

I hope you have a fabulous start to your work week!


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Grilled Cheese Extraordinaire

When you think of your favourite childhood foods, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? For me, it was all about homemade mac 'n cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches.

As much as I still love both, I can't help but to try to fancy them up now and again.....what can I say, I've become a true foodie :-D

Lately I've seen several variations on a grilled cheese and I wanted to get in on the fun. I added a few of my fave things and the result was pretty fantastic. I hope you love it!

Grilled Cheese Extraordinaire
Makes 1 sandwich

This is a great way to 'fancy up' an old childhood favourite.

2 slices bread of your choice (I used 12 grain)
Earth Balance (or butter)
shredded mozzarella cheese
2 - 3 slices avocado
3 - 4 slices of tomato
pinch of salt

I assume we all know how to make a grilled cheese, so I'm not going to go into great detail on how to make it. Simply butter your bread and assemble your sandwich by layering the tomatoes, avocado, cheese and a pinch of salt. Grill in a small frying pan.

All it takes is a simple cast characters for this sammie.

There is so much deliciousness packed in there!

Remove from the skillet and serve. I made a side of kale chips to go with my sammie. It was a perfect Friday night dinner! The only thing that would have made it better was a glass of merlot; sadly, there was no wine to be found in the Vegvacious household :-(

So now I better be off. You know there are only 3 weeks 'til Christmas right?! I have TONS to do!!! I'm even trying my hand at getting making some new decorations. Here's a hint of what I've been working on.....

I'm hoping I can share the finished product on Sunday or Monday.

Until then, have a great weekend.

What are your plans this weekend?
Favourite childhood eats?

See ya real soon,


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What I Ate (When I Got Home from Vacation) Wednesday

Happy Wednesday!!

I hope you are doing amazingly well because it's been a long time since
I visited you on a What I At Wednesday!

As you know, I've spent the last week with my family in Tennessee and Kentucky. Derek had to work, so sadly I had to leave him and the dogs behind. It's safe to assume that I was absolutely gluttonous during the time I was away....because I was :-) All I wanted when I got home on Monday night was some fresh fruits and veggies. All I found was some old chicken wings, cheddar cheese and some very overripe pears.

Ugh!!! What the heck was I going to eat????

Luckily, I had picked some things while I was away that aren't so easy to find in Canada. They helped to tide me over until I had time to hit a grocery store.

For breakfast I had chocolate peanut butter Puffins. Can you believe that this is the first time I have ever had Puffins??  LOVE THEM ~ especially the peanut butter ones!

I also scored some Key Lime Larabars. Best flavour ever!!! And really, really hard to find! Thankfully I've now stocked up.

For dinner, I improvised and ended up with something pretty delish. In a wok I combined a package of Green Giant Vegetable Rice Primavera (whole grain rice, zucchini, broccoli and red pepper), a can of chickpeas, 1.5 cups of diced tomatoes, a pinch of cumin and tumeric and salt and pepper to taste. I let it simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes and then served. For a quick on-the-fly dinner it was really, really good!

And I absolutely CANNOT leave without giving some honourable mention to something my neice and I made while I was away. I found it on my beloved Pinterest. This Popcorn Cake is a fun dessert to make with the kiddos in your life and it tastes as sweet and sinful as it looks!

So there are some of my recent eats. What have you been munching on lately? If you're looking for more foodie inspiration head on over and visit Miss Jenn at Peas & Crayons.

What kind of eats do you come up with when the fridge is totally empty?

Happy Wednesday. I hope you enjoy your day!


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Being Thankful for What You Have

Happy Sunday folks! So, I had this post scheduled for posting on Thursday. Obviously something went haywire with the scheduling and I find my post never actually posted. So....I apologize for the delay, but I want to share this post even though it's late. Better Late Than Never :-)

Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend!!!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American friends and family!!! To my fellow Canadians...Happy Thursday!! (sorry kids, I'm off on vacay and that's all I could come up with {wink wink})

Yesterday I arrived safely in Nashville where I met my dad and we headed on out to my sister's place in Jackson, TN. We bought groceries, I had a quick hair appointment with my sis (have I ever told you how awesome it is to have a hairdresser in the family??), I met my nephew Bentley (cutest baby ever!!!!!) and spent time with my 4 year old neice, Reese AKA Reese-a-roni.

Today it's all about cooking, family and mapping out our Black Friday plans.

Life is good.

The only that would make it better was if Derek was here. Sadly he had to work and miss out on this little vacation of mine.  

Before I get into today's post, I just want to say thank you so much to Kelly for her guest post yesterday. She and I think so much alike and I loved her reminder that we should be grateful for all the wonderful things in our lives whether they be big or small.

Her post was a really great intro to what I wanted to chat about on this fabulous Thanksgiving morning.

Today I am thankful for many things......
  • my hubby who had to stay home this weekend because he has to work
  • my health and the fact that I am strong and able and independent
  • my happy and healthy neices and nephews - our family is blessed with 4 awesome kiddos!!!
  • all 4 of my grandparents who are healthy, able-bodied, awesome individuals
  • my job - they're pretty hard to come by these days so I consider myself to be really lucky to have a steady and secure position where I work with lots of really, really great people
  • my house and the fact that I am lucky enough to own it
  • my dogs who give me unconditional love 100% of the time
  • my country who provides me with safety and security and gives me the right to speak and think freely
So as you can see, I'm pretty freakin' lucky and I have alot to be grateful for. It has taken me a long time to actually see all the greatness that is my life. Today I am happy to say that I am PRESENT and AWARE and even though Derek & I have our share of hard times (like any of you out there I am sure), I am still able to appreciate what I DO have.

I used to be a person who had the bad habit of "wanting what I don't have." I still find myself longing for "more" but not constantly like I used to. My old way of thinking used to go something like this - "Sure I have a house, but I want a bigger house with a bigger yard; and yeah I have a decent job, but I want to a position that's more exciting where I can make a boatload of money" see where I'm going with this???? Now, don't get me wrong I think it's great to have dreams and goals and to work hard to achieve them, but that's not really what I was doing. I would constantly compare myself to others and wish that I had it as good as they did.  I had a bad case of "Keepin' Up with the Joneses."

Why is it so hard to really open our eyes and see the blessings that are laid out in front of us? Accepting the hand you've been dealt in life does not mean you are resigned to be unhappy and unfulfilled. What it means is that you stop wasting time thinking about what you don't have and start enjoying what you DO have.

Today, as we give thanks for our daily bread, I want to issue a challenge to each and every one of you.
I challenge you to LIVE IN THE MOMENT!!!

Stop worrying about what you don't have and focus on what you do have. You might be surprised at how many blessings are in your life right now and I promise you that you are going to find a lot more happiness in the things you can enjoy in the present rather than always waiting for that day in the future when you think you'll have what you want.


Take a moment everyday for the next week and write down one thing that you are thankful for. Start making a list....let's call it our "I Am Thankful Journal".


 After you jot down what you're thankful for, take a few minutes to reflect on how it makes your life what it is today.

What are you thankful right this very minute?

Have a Happy Thanksgiving/Thursday and enjoy the day!!



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Being Thankful

Howdy y'all. So it's Thanksgiving Eve (for all my American friends & family) and as you read this, I am probably high in the sky and bound for Nashville. Today you are in for an extra special treat....a guest post by Kelly, from Laughter, Strength and Food. She is one sweet chickie and I know you are going to love what she has to say. 

Hi Vegvacious readers! Open-mouthed smile
My name is Kelly and I blog over at Laughter, Strength, and Food. I would like to thank Andrea for giving me the opportunity to write a guest post for her! She is a pretty awesome lady…which I’m sure you all know since you are here reading this!
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and it is truly one of my favorite times of the year. Aside from it being the official start of the holiday season (!!!), it is a holiday that has an amazing meaning that I think everyone can believe in and benefit from…
…and that is the meaning of being thankful.
I think that many times it becomes too easy to forget about all that we have and to be thankful for it each and every day. I know, first hand, how the chaos of life can sometimes act as a blinder and shield us from seeing the good that we have directly in front of us. I used to be one that usually had a pessimistic view no matter how much I told myself I had to be optimistic. A little over a year ago, I felt like I was in a bad place in my life. I had some personal things going on that I just didn’t know how to handle. Instead of using the good around me to bring me to a better place, I just focused on the bad and let myself believe that nothing was going to get better and that my life was at its worst point.
Sound a little dramatic? It was. I pushed away not only any positive thoughts I had, but also the positive people that I had in my life. Looking back, I can’t believe the way I let my negative emotions take over every aspect of my life. Thankfully, I had amazing people surrounding me who didn’t give up on me and refused to let me continue to be unhappy.
Am I thankful for those people?
Absolutely.Do I thank my lucky stars everyday that I have two supportive parents and an incredible boyfriend?
You better believe it.
It may sound cliché to be thankful for family and friends, however, I have learned that these key pieces of life can make all the difference in the world. More importantly, I‘ve re-learned how important it is to see the good in all every situation and to be thankful for those small things that make me smile everyday.
So, with that dramatic background into my life…let’s move on to the main point of what I want to share with you all!
Be thankful for everything you have…no matter how small it might seem.

Be thankful for your family, your parents, your friends, your significant others.
Be thankful for your job, your house, your car, your loving pets, the food you have on your table.
Be thankful for your favorite pair of comfy jeans, your old worn out slippers, your snuggly pajamas.
Be thankful for that workout you pushed yourself to complete.
Be thankful for your ability to laugh.
Be thankful for the ability to wake up and make each day the best it can be.
As we celebrate this Thanksgiving holiday, let’s think about all of the wonderful things in our lives that we can be thankful for and let’s carry those thoughts with us throughout the entire year. There is nothing more important that loving ourselves, loving others, and loving everything that makes us who we are.
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!!
P.S. I am thankful for all of the delicious turkey, stuffing, and potatoes I’ll be eating tomorrow!!