first things. [almond butter cookies]

18 Sep

The very first first-thing: Thank you to EVERYONE who left very sweet comments on my last post. :) You guys are the greatest. Lots of cyber-hugs for all!

I’m a fan of firsts.

Whether it’s a sentimental attachment to the first book I read (“Are You My Mother?” by Dr. Seuss, in case you’re wondering) or a vivid memory of the first time I met my best friend in high school, they’ve always stuck out in my mind. Firsts are so full of the promise of something new and different, an adventure just over the horizon. They’re just exciting.

This week has been one for firsts as I’ve been moving into my new place for the school year.

We’re the first people to live in these apartments. The first laughs, the first fights, the first parties, the first all-nighters, the first breakdowns will all be on our watch. And it’s certainly comforting to know nobody has ever slept on my mattress. Or done anything else on my mattress. Ahem…

Here are a few of our house-firsts, christenings of the various appliances, etcetera. Along with what they may or may not tell you about my priorities ;)

First item in the refrigerator:

Not even mine, but I so appreciated how perfectly the Disney-themed apple-juice encapsulated my housemates’ general youthful spirit… and my Disney addiction. :)

First thing on my wall:

First thing I cooked on the stove… kind of.

First “gourmet meal” (ha!)

Um… so it turns out that like half of my boxes were filled with canned soup & these things, all of which I bought with my leftover meal points last year. I should probably open a soup kitchen. At any rate, I will be eating these for a few weeks… it happens.

First item on our couch:

My housemate embroidered it. It has polka-dots. I love it. 

And most importantly, the first use of my oven? You get three guesses… and the first two don’t count.

Cookies. Do I really need to interpret this for you?

I made these with a jar of almond butter I need to use relatively quickly before it expires… also found in the massive Hoarders-episode that is my pantry, along with some carob chips with a similar tale. I thought i may have added too much liquid, and while they definitely didn’t turn out as dense and chewy as I originally hoped, their pillowy softness and crisp edges made up for it. The entire (very small) batch was devoured by my mom and I within a day.

Almond Butter-Carob Chip Cookies
by me
Makes 8-12 depending on size

1/2 tablespoon ground flax
2-3 tablespoons hot water
1/4 cup almond butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
small pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
~3 tablespoons carob chips (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a cookie sheet.

Stir together flaxseed and water in a small cup or bowl. Set aside and allow to thicken for a few minutes. In a medium bowl, stir together almond butter and sugar. Add in flax “egg”. Stir in other ingredients; if the dough is too thick, add a small amount of water or oil.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until edges have set.

 

Now that my kitchen has begun to be broken in, it’s time for some sleep in my nice, new bed. Tomorrow’s the first day of classes!

What are your favorite firsts?

on tight jeans.

12 Sep

You know that feeling when you put on a pair of jeans you haven’t worn in a few months? How the starched-out cotton clings to your thighs & you have to wriggle around to get the zipper to zip, despite not having gained any weight? The way you awkwardly waddle from place to place as they reform to fit your legs?

Yeah, this feels a little bit like that. Awkward, stilted, starched, self-conscious. Like a high school reunion (not that I would know). But hi. I’m back.

I’m 2nd from the left in case you can’t remember what I look like.

I wish I could tell you that my two-month absence was because I was out living it up in the summer sunshine, but I’ve always been a pretty bad liar (no poker face to speak of, unfortunately). And while I have done my fair share of fun, exciting things this summer, the truth is that I haven’t posted because I’ve been in a bit of a “funk”.

I don’t usually get very personal on the blog not because I don’t trust you, but because I like my blog to be a “happy place”. But I figure at least a cursory explanation is in order.

This “funk” has really been a long time coming. For at least a year I’ve felt myself losing grip of my bits of exuberance and vivacity that used to define me as a person. I’m not sure if people can really tell from the outside, but mentally I get in very negative places fairly frequently. During the school year, I’m too busy to dig myself into mental trenches, but summer tends to invite brooding and the subsequent haze of negativity. I did a lot of questioning of my blog’s purpose and most of my evaluations came up negative. Not to mention that my overall motivation was at an all-time low.

And really, it’s easy to watch the time slip away. A day. A week. Two. Six. Two months. You fall into a rhythm of mediocrity and lackluster living that just isn’t worth it. But once you dig yourself fairly deep, it can be hard to get back out.

These help. :)

I really don’t want to bore you to tears with yet another sob story, nor do I particularly want to garner any pity, but the point is that I’m reviving myself, one small step at a time. It might start with just getting out of bed for a workout. Just stepping outside for a ten-minute walk. Just getting enough momentum to do one small thing. But eventually those become easier, and eventually you can move on to the bigger things.  Eventually that stilted, awkward feeling gives way as the cotton bends & stretches & everything becomes second nature again.

These too!

This conveniently is coming just before the start of the school year when I’ll probably be slammed with work, so I can’t promise how often I’ll post. I also am still kind of evaluating the direction of my blog, but that’s a story for another time.

The point of this lengthy, wordy, and probably overly-personal post is twofold. Firstly, to kind of say hello and offer a meager justification for my extended absence. Secondly, to remind anyone and everyone out there who’s having a bad day, week, month, year, that it can and will get better. I don’t really have a lot of answers about how, but I’m always open to discussing my experiences more via e-mail (and possibly on the blog if anybody really wants to know, though it admittedly makes me a little nervous).

So here’s to softening jeans & remembering how to smile & finding those bits and pieces you think you’ve lost along the way. They’re always there. You just have to find them.

How do you get out of funks?

Anything in particular you want to see on my blog? I have a million pictures from the summer that I’ll be releasing in doses, but I’m sort of rethinking my general formula… Sometimes I feel like I just write fluff. Maybe that’s just me being negative though!

Personal stuff on blogs: yay or nay? 

the boy who lived [universal studios]

21 Jul

I still remember when we first met.

I was probably in second grade, and as an avid reader was perusing the many aisles of books in my elementary school library. As I scanned the multi-colored shelves, a glint of gold lettering caught my eye. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”, the title read. It looked as good as any of the books I spent my time poring over, so I checked it out.

A few weeks later, in our class library session, the librarian pulled it out to recommend it to the class. Some years later, the book exploded with a popularity unlike any I’d ever seen. Some fourteen years later, I sat in tears as the curtain closed on the final installment of the movie series.

I could sit here and talk about the movie and the books coming to an end, but let’s be honest, everyone else has already done that. Did they cut some things that I wish they hadn’t? Yes. Did I love it anyways? Of course. And did I feel like some part of my childhood was coming to a close as I saw my favorite characters projected into the future with children of their own, and careers? Yes. But ultimately, the magical creations of J.K. Rowling will live on in the books and movies for more people to enjoy, & rather than bore you while I wax poetic about what a genius that woman is, I’ll just show you some pictures of my OWN trip to Hogwarts. :)

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando

The humidity also gave me Hermione-hair… fitting, right?

I’m not the hugest fan of Universal Studios in general; it lacks the attention to detail and overall magical aura of its Disney counterparts. Their homage to Harry Potter, however, was rife with such detail and, as such, attracted zillions of people. Yes, zillions. Technical term. We were there right as the park opened and within 30 minutes the most popular ride already had a 45 minute wait. Of course, the line is actually vaguely entertaining as it takes you on a tour through Hogwarts, but still.

The dilapidated buildings and cobblestone streets all look perfectly straight out of the movies and books. Zonko’s is fantastic, with the shelves piled high with all sorts of useless but utterly amusing toys & tricks.

The adjoining Honeydukes is similarly colorful, and they do sell every-flavor beans & chocolate frogs.

However, it’s all rather small. There are only 3 rides, the main one being “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey”, housed in the replica of Hogwarts castle.

But the admission to the park is totally worth the one ride; it’s unlike anything I’ve ever ridden. You’re basically attached to a robotic arm that swivels and takes you through scenes from the movies, sometimes in physical form and sometimes projected on a big screen. You actually feel like you’re darting through the castle on a broomstick; it’s absolutely incredible. As mentioned, the line is obscenely long (2 hours at its longest when we were there) but you can get on within 30 minutes on the single-rider line, though this does mean you miss the tour through Hogwarts.

I will say that the “storyline” of the ride is a little unclear; it basically just feels like you’re following Harry on some nameless journey going through a few of the scenes. But it’s all still fairly magical, so it’s forgiven.

My parents fail at focusing with my DSLR…

The other ride worth mentioning is the Dragon Challenge. It’s a moderately intense roller coaster where you’re hanging DOWN from the tracks rather than riding on them, which also lends itself to a feeling of flying. I really enjoyed it, though a lot of the views you see are just industrial buildings (which doesn’t really add to the aura much). Still worth riding. We didn’t even do the Hippogriff ride; it’s basically just there so the little kids have something they can ride and isn’t anything particularly special.

I did get a chance to try both pumpkin juice AND butterbeer; normally I’m not big on park food (not tasty, and exorbitantly expensive) but I was DYING to try both, so I did. :)

I loved both, and kind of want to try and make some form of Pumpkin Juice myself.

The Butterbeer tasted like a butterscotch candy in liquid form. Yum.

Overall, I loved the park, especially when it wasn’t overly crowded in the early morning (by afternoon there were lines to get into shops). Oh, and I guess there’s something cool at Ollivander’s wand shop but we were too lazy to wait in the line, so I’m not even sure what it is! I would say that I wish it were bigger; I think there’s a lot more room to expand and create all kinds of different rides and experiences and my head was spinning with new ideas as I left.

Recommendations: Get there early & go through a somewhat shortened version of the Forbidden Journey ride, then go back for seconds & thirds via the single-rider line :) And fork up the money for some pumpkin juice!

Other notable attractions at Universal are the E.T. ride in the main part of the park, and the whole Dr. Seuss section which was freaking adorable.

Yes, I AM four years old.

Thoughts on Universal Studios?
Who here is a Potter fan? :) I’m actually not a die-hard… read all the books at least once or twice, and LOVE them, but I’m not obsessive. I do think J. K. Rowling is ridiculously creative though; how she came up with all of those details is totally beyond me!

WIA[WDW]

19 Jul

a.k.a. What I Ate at Walt Disney World!

I’m a few weeks behind (um, obviously) but I figured I’d do a special WIAW post on how to eat at Disney. :)

Note: We were fortunate enough to have a full kitchen at our hotel, which influenced the way we ate somewhat. I’ll still chat about some of the park options though I definitely didn’t photograph everything we ate! Also some of the photos are of less-than-stellar quality since I took them with a camera phone… sigh.

Breakfast:

Not photographed, but I basically had oatmeal every single morning; I had the foresight to bring some packets with me, and when we went to the grocery store we stocked up on a canister of oats for my dad & mom. If you have a microwave in your hotel this is a much cheaper, healthier option than eating at the parks!

Lunch/Dinner:

Usually we ate one meal at the park and one at home (which was usually some variety of sandwich, often with boiled eggs… I would have loved to actually cook something, but we didnt’ want to buy cooking spray/oil or furnish the kitchen for 10 days, so we stuck to some simple stuff).

Animal Kingdom

We ate at Pizzafari and I got some kind of salad that had a bunch of random stuff on it… including salami, which I gave to my father (I was trying to not make a huge fuss and just go with the flow, but I wasn’t really interested in cheese pizza).

Epcot

Epcot DEFINITELY had the best options. My favorite was inside “The Land”; there was a little “food-court” type area called Seasons that had a variety of vegetarian options and was generally much healthier than the rest of the food in all of the parks.

I had a fabulous vegetable soup with a cracker.

My mom had a grilled veggie and hummus pita (well, I helped :) )

My dad had a beet & feta salad… and a huge piece of chicken but I left that out.

There were fish options, stir fries, and a cold case full of different to-go wraps and even some gluten-free bars.

Definitely the most health-friendly spot I found.

Epcot’s World Showcase

This had the most INTERESTING eats, though we barely touched most of it. The World Showcase has mini areas devoted to a number of major countries, and each one has restaurants for that particular country’s cuisine. All of them looked fantastic, and if I’d had loads of time I probably would have gone through methodically and sampled a bit of everything on different days. As it was, we just wound up eating at the French bakery one day.

While they didn’t really have a vegetarian sandwich, they did have a cheese plate that came with a loaf of bread… Not exactly the most balanced meal in the world, but it worked.

Of course we saved room for dessert. :) We actually saw a few families walk out with trays FULL of desserts as their entire meal… I wish ;)

I love berries. And my camera lens. Swoon.

Personally I wanted to eat some of the falafel in Morocco, but we never got a chance. Oh well!

Magic Kingdom

We ate at the Columbia Harbor House, which was probably the best option within this park that I found… They had a good Hummus sandwich on thick, hearty bread. It had a kinda weird broccoli slaw, but it was still pretty good (if not photogenic).

Universal Studios

I originally wanted to partake in Harry-Potter themed goods at their restaurant, but none of the options looked especially good, so we wound up walking out of the park to Moe’s at citywalk where I had a delicious taco salad (I’m obsessed with salads with beans & tons of salsa!)

Other goodies

I just love going around to all of the bakeries and admiring their beautiful cupcakes & cookies & caramel apples. We didn’t really have any, but they’re so colorful & fun!

We did, however, end up going to Ghirardelli for ice cream on our final day, at Tara’s recommendation. :)

And one of my personal favorites are the chocolate covered frozen bananas they sell throughout all of the parks, though I didn’t ever photograph any of them!

General recommendations:

  • If you have a fridge, go out and buy some bread & cheese/peanut butter and bring sandwiches some days. It gets extremely expensive to just eat at the parks; each meal is $8+
  • If you DO have to eat exclusively their food, look into the Disney Dining Plan. We didn’t use it, but it seems like a decent deal.
  • Go to a grocery store and stock up on some easy snacks. The Publix that’s 2 miles away had really great prices, while the other grocery store (Good’s?) that was closer was unkempt and exorbitantly expensive.
  • Only semi-related, but drink lots of water! Preferably by reusing waterbottles; there are plenty of drinking fountains.
  • It’s kind of hard to find healthy food or vegetarian food in all of the parks. A lot of the salads have chicken, though you might be able to ask them to leave it off. I’ve heard if you’re on top of things you can call in advance and they’ll accommodate almost any dietary restrictions, but we basically played it by ear. It turned out okay, but there weren’t a ton of options.
  • At Universal, they have a special key for restaurants with healthy/vegetarian options. Unfortunately, their idea of a healthy option is a Ceasar salad. And vegetarian = cheese pizza. Sigh.
  • If you get a chance, eat your way through Epcot. LOTS of options there, and the food is not just typical-park-food. :)
  • It’s easier to eat 1-2 good-sized meals rather than lots of mini-meals like I’m used to, and ends up being less expensive. You’re on vacation and walking a TON, so give yourself some slack and enjoy what you eat! :) My general thing is if I’m going to be spending lots of money & eating more calories, I damn well better be eating something delicious ;)
  • Try eating at some places outside of the parks themselves, as I think a lot of times they’re a little bit cheaper. HOWEVER, do not deny yourself the experience of having a truly Disney-ish meal; I think having at least one sit-down dinner in the parks is fun & worth the money. Might as well do it while you’re there! :)

Any experience eating out at theme parks?

How do you deal with eating “healthy” on vacation?

walt disney world: epcot’s future world

14 Jul

Hi, sorry I’m still failing at posting regularly. To be honest I’m in a bit of a funk (Disney withdrawal? :P haha) but I’m trying to revive my motivation. :)

Boys on the bus!

Our first full day at Disney was spent mostly at Epcot.

EPCOT originally stood for Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow; apparently Walt Disney wanted to create a small utopian society and dabble in city planning. What we ended up with is a fusion of “Future World”, which features a bunch of techy & space stuff, and the World Showcase, which is a tour through some major countries in the world all within one park (which will be covered in another post :) ).

We started our morning out with Mission: Space.

See, none of us knew that this was probably the most intense ride at Disney; it’s a spaceship simulator involving a centrifuge. It was incredibly realistic-feeling (not that I’ve ever actually been launched into space) but I was definitely weaving a bit afterwards and my stomach was less than pleased. Still worth trying, but there’s a lighter version if you’re not up for the crazy spinning.

Of course, we also did Spaceship Earth (as photographed above, that big ole ball!). It goes through a bunch of animatronic scenes in the history of our planet and then speculates about the future. I just love animatronics, so while this is decidedly not a thrill ride, it’s still beautifully done and I enjoyed it. At the end there are also lots of techie futuristic toys and such you can play with…

Brother is focusing intently on racing.

But I just took pictures. :) Typical.

Similarly, there’s a place called Innoventions that has a bunch of different geeky things, including one of those design-your-own-coaster contraptions (though this one features physics), and a place where you can record your body movements and make a video game with yourself as the main character.

Play mine here! haha :)

Nifty, right?

Also within Future World is a little section called “The Land”

This is kind of their “agricultural-hippie” section, but it also features the ever-popular “Soarin’“.

What I liked best was my dad and brother’s worst nightmare… A little boat ride through some of the agricultural research labs they have onsite.

They were growing all kinds of vegetables and fruits and apparently experimenting with state-of-the-art technologiest, all of which was pretty neat to see.

It also ended up on my plate at the “Seasons” food court door (but food will be covered in another post… but here’s a sneak preview :) ).

And for the little ones, there’s THE CUTEST Finding Nemo ride… which I may have gone on twice.

My little cousin is adorable… and a GREAT excuse to ride all the kiddy rides ;)

So here’s the general breakdown.

Most popular (aka get a Fastpass or get there early!): Soarin’, Test Track (which was a lot of fun but I didn’t really get pictures of it).

My Highlights: The Seas with Nemo, Spaceship Earth, Test Track, Living with the Land (that boat tour)

Lowlights: Captain EO. Great dancing (Michael Jackson), decent special effects (Spielberg), apparently NO screenwriting/plot.

Recommendations: If you want to go see Soarin’, get there early. Even Fastpasses go REALLY quickly. Also, Test Track closes when it’s raining, so you’re probably better off doing that fairly early too. And Epcot has the best food. At least in my opinion. :)

Any fun experiences with EPCOT?

Do you use your younger relatives as an excuse to go on kiddy rides? I totally do… But I also shamelessly go on them myself anyways. 

disney shenanigans: the beginning

11 Jul

You want Disney? You got Disney. ;)

On Friday or Saturday I finally got through all 1900 of my pictures and somehow selected only 400 to put up on Facebook (I’m atrociously indecisive, okay?). Don’t worry; I won’t bombard you with ALL of them.

I’ve decided to mostly do it by park (though some parks will take more than one day), and my Disney posts will be somewhat interspersed so I can pretend like I’m still a “food” blogger (but what’s in a name, really?).

We’re going to get the boring-er stuff out of the way, so some of the logistics and my first day of Disney magic!

The Trip

I woke up at 3:30 to get on a plane at 6:30. Only for Disney, people.

Probably the best part of the flight was seeing the gorgeous mountains out my window when flying over Washington. What a lovely state.

The worst part? No food for, like, 8 hours. Well, we bought overpriced snacks on the airplane (no free pretzels or anything, American Airlines is no fun!) and our connection Dallas was INCREDIBLY tight. So no food there either. Not the most fun I’ve ever had on a plane, but I was asleep for a lot of it so I couldn’t hear my stomach gnawing itself to pieces.

The Hotel

After a nice little thunderstorm as we were landing (definitely saw a lightning bolt from the plane…) and a pit stop at a trashy, cheap gift shop for a Disney princess lanyard (completely necessary), we finally arrived on Disney territory.

We stayed at Disney’s Old Key West Resort. The line the buses always played when we were getting there like to say something about how it “brings the gingerbread architecture and whimsical charm of the Conch Republic right here to Central Florida.” (Can you tell we rode the buses a lot?)

It was rather cute though, I’m not going to lie. And there are lots of benefits to staying in a Disney hotel, even if it is more expensive (we have a timeshare thing that we exchanged for part of the price, or something to that effect). Namely that you can get in for early and late hours at different parks, you have an easy bus ride to all the parks, oh and there are random Mickey Mouses everywhere.

And the best part? They’re villas. Which means there are kitchens.

We didn’t do a whole lot of cooking, mostly just sandwiches and boiled eggs. But it was nice to be able to buy yogurt and such.

First Night Out

Even though I was positively exhausted, we wanted to make the most of our vacation and decided to head out to Magic Kingdom for a few hours that night (we had “Extra Magic Hours” since we were staying at a Disney hotel, so the park was open later for us… until 3 AM.)

Oh, did I mention it was pouring rain? Hello ponchos.


Florida rain is DRASTICALLY different than Seattle rain. I actually much prefer the warmer, denser rain in Florida to the cold nagging drizzle in Seattle. Much better to dance in. :)

After a rather annoying 30-minute wait for the bus, we FINALLY arrived at the Magic Kingdom!

I’ll go into excruciating detail about the absolute wonderland that is the Magic Kingdom at some point (I have 474 pictures of that park alone), but that’s a whole post of its own. Mostly I just adore my the castle. Oh, to be a Disney Princess…

Yes, this was my favorite park. :)

Do you like flying? I go back and forth. I HATE how dry it is in planes but it’s so fun to see a birds-eye view of everything… Assuming it’s clear, that is. :) And I hate being hungry, soooo the lack of even pretzels on a 4-hour flight was not my cup of tea.

Thunderstorms: yay or nay? I like them well enough, except that stuff shuts down. Like I said, though, the really intense summer showers are amazing; they have them in Brazil too and dancing in that kind of rain is SO much fun, and you don’t feel like you’ll freeze afterwards!

updates & foodie guest post!

8 Jul

Hey guyyyys

I’m back! Well, actually, I landed on Monday evening so I’ve been a bit delinquent. But to be fair, I got home on Monday at 10, had two days to hang out with my best friend/sleep, and then yesterday came back to school for summer research & classes. 

Here is one of the fab guest posts I’d hoped to get up while I was gone… unfortunately I had no internet access except my mom’s phone so I was only able to bring it to you now! I’ve spent a lot of today working through the ~2000 pictures I took at Disney (um, seriously) soooo be prepared (ha, Lion King reference!) for some recaps in the near future. 

Let’s give it up for one of my favorite blends (blog-friends, get it?!), XC Foodie! She’s bringing us a little bit of Cookie and a little bit of Carrot (um I NEED to make that dip, stat!)… what a cutie :) And speedy to boot… check her blog out! ;)

—————————–

Hello Everyone! I’m Tara from XCFoodie.

I’m a track and cross country runner with a huge appetite for food. I love to bake and cook to offset the energy expenditure of running. I eat a mostly healthy, vegetarian diet, but I think balance is important. Today I want to do a tribute to two of Nicole’s favorite things. What are they? Cookies and Carrots of course! This is the perfect example of balance between nutritious and delicious (not that carrots aren’t delicious!).

COOKIES:

Well, technically these are blondies. But blondies are cookie bars. Therefore they count as cookies. I put together this delicious recipe for my track team. Since we’re runners we eat… we eat a lot. You should see our psyche parties. Dessert is a mad house. I made these for practice though, and we enjoyed them after a long, strenuous speed workout. Not a crumb was left, and people were attacking me for seconds and thirds!

Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Toffee Blondies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter (2 sticks)

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons agave nectar

3 eggs

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup butterscotch chips

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup toffee bits

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 inch pan.

Cook the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it turns brown (see browning butter tips here if you are unfamiliar with the process), and then remove it from the heat. While it cools, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.

Combine the brown butter, agave, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, and stir with a wooden spoon until they are combined. Add the eggs to the bowl and attach the bowl to the mixer. Beat the mixture at a medium setting for 3 minutes using the paddle attachment. Add the vanilla and continue beating it until the vanilla is incorporated. Add the flour mixture and mix just until combined.

Remove the bowl from the electric mixer. Fold in the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and toffee bits. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the center. Take out the blondies and let them cool before cutting.

CARROTS:

I’m a dried-bean-phobic. I had a bag of red lentils in my pantry for about a year before I decided to use them. One night, I got this intense craving for hummus, but all I had was lentils. My fridge was also overflowing with carrots that I needed to use up. I decided to combine the lentils with carrots, and they complimented each other nicely in this spicy, satisfying dip. It may not have been hummus, but it was just as delicious!

Moroccan Carrot Lentil Dip

1/2 cup dry red lentils

1 1/2 cups water or veggie broth

9 oz. carrots

1/4 cup chopped onions

1/4 heaping teaspoon of each of the following: cumin, cinnamon, coriander, turmeric, and allspice

1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne

salt to taste

Add the lentils and water in a saucepan. Heat on high until the water boils. Reduce to a simmer and cover, leaving the top slightly ajar. Simmer for 30 minutes, checking every so often (I checked every 5 minutes) to stir and add additional water if necessary. After 30 minutes, remove from the heat and cover completely. Allow it to absorb any leftover liquid for at least 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute the onions in a small frying pan on medium heat, approximately 3 – 5 minutes or until translucent. Steam the carrots (I used the microwave method, 1/4 cup water and microwaved 2.5 minutes or until soft).

Combine the lentils, carrots, and onions in the food processor. Process until smooth. Add spices and salt. Process for about 30 seconds or until they are thoroughly distributed.

What is your favorite cookie?

What is your favorite way to use carrots?

Nicole’s Question: How much do you want to hear about Disney? Be honest, I kind of understand if you don’t want to hear me babbling about how much I love Disney Princesses because I’m about 4 years old. I have a zillion pictures and don’t want to bore anyone to tears. In fact I may do it in installations. I’m not sure if I should put it chronologically or by park… Any ideas/suggestions/etc welcomed :)

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