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We are back from our week-long adventure in the Berkshires and the Catskills.  We had a wonderful time (thanks to Marc who planned the whole trip) exploring (read:  natural bridge) and relaxing (read:  napping)  and being inspired (read:  Mass MoCA) as a family.  Enough with the laundry, the vacuuming, cleaning, and work…! We really needed this.

One of the places we stayed at was the beautiful, storybook property of Santarella, Tyringham, MA’s gingerbread house.

We actually slept in what used to be the sculpture studio, now used as the “honeymoon suite”.  If you’ve got a chance to visit the property or are looking for a romantic getaway, check this place out.

Today, I am happily back in my kitchen, though, and I am ON FIRE! Perhaps it was because I ate more mediocre meals on the trip than yummy ones.  Although, there were some meals well worthy of note like the field greens, fig, almond and orange salad at The Lion’s Den in Stockbridge, MA and the veggie burger at Karma Road in New Paltz, NY.

It started with these cucumber avocado boats, an idea that I got from Kristen Suzanne of Kristen’s Raw.  There is something really special about the salty-lime combo of the mashed avocado on top of the cucumber.  Try them.  What a great five minute snack for the kiddos!

Then, I spent some more time breaking in my Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker – a new purchase I’d been eyeing up for a long time, recommended by Renee of FIMBY.  Check out Renee’s recent post about her favorite kitchen tools.  I think we are kitchen soul sisters.

Back to the pressure cooker…I made chick peas in 10 minutes (soaked overnight).  No longer will I cook my beans for a whole day in the slow cooker.  Then, I made short grain brown rice in 20 minutes.  Talk about a great way to save energy and reduce the heat from cooking in this hot weather.

For dinner tonight, we had the most awesome rockin’ Spicoli Burgers (red peppers, onions, brown rice, hemp seeds) from Dreena Burton’s Eat Drink and Be Vegan.  Wow.  I used those luscious chick peas to make Dreena’s Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (also from Eat Drink and Be Vegan) to put on the burger, which was topped off by an Ezekiel sprouted grain burger bun (I discovered this bun at Eden Cafe in Scranton, PA on the way home).  Yowza.

This burger is worth two pictures.

Before the burger is topped – look at that creamy hummus!

And…topped with bun.

As a sweet ending, I offer you a creation all mine:  pina colada ice cream.  As we ate this ice cream tonight, Donnie Iris’ Ah Leah played in the background (doesn’t everyone need a little 80′s rock to end the day?).

And now – a recipe for you, my friends, so you can forget about the sing-song Mister Softee and Blue Bunny trucks because there really is no comparison.

Pina Colada “Ice Cream” (serves 4)

  • 1/4 cup Raw Cashews
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Milk
  • 2 cups Frozen Pineapple
  • 2 cups Frozen Mango
  • Mint leaves (optional, for garnish)

Add all the ingredients to a blender or food processor.  Blend or process until rich and creamy.  Add a mint leaf or two to the top and voila! (The mint is optional, but it’s so delicious with the sweet ice cream.)

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