Sunday, January 6, 2013

Christmas Holiday, Part 1 (Chicago)

It is the start of a new year....gosh, where did 2012 go?!

We ended the year with a wonderful and relaxing Christmas season, beginning with a visit to Chicago with Tim's family to celebrate a very Polish Christmas Eve with the Styczenski's.

Merry Christmas!

We have a tradition right before Christmas Eve dinner, called "breaking Oplatek". Oplatek is similar to a communion wafer. You go around to each person and break off a piece of their wafer, while wishing them something lovely for the upcoming year.

While in Chicago, us girls (Andrea, Asha-Tim's little sister, who shares my name, Hannah, Sarah, and myself) decided to start an annual tradition of getting manicures for Christmas. It was a fun, relaxing, and memorable time together!

We visited Chinatown in Chicago along with Tim's dad and several Belsan siblings. It was pretty chilly outside, but we managed to have lunch and visit several little shops...who all seemed to be selling the same items. :)

Whenever I am at Tim's grandparent's house, I love going around looking at all the old photos of the Belsan kids. I especially liked this one of Tim, and couldn't resist sharing it! So adorable!

Since Tim grew up in Chicago, he knows the city quite well...but he wasn't very familiar with the local veg eateries! Luckily, with the help of the internet at our fingertips we happened to find several...our favorite being The Chicago Diner. Their slogan is "Meat Free since '83!", and the owner said approximately 75% of their customers are not vegetarian or vegan...the food is just that good!

We weren't even hungry when we visited, and only planned on getting dessert... but the menu looked so fantastic, we had to order something delicious! Tim got the Radical Reuben sandwich and I chose the Soul Bowl, which consisted of spicy charred tofu, quinoa, black beans, mashed sweet potatoes and balsamic-glazed brussels with chimichurri sauce.

Tim demolished his sandwich. I think I heard him say between bites, "thisisthebestreubensandwichihaveeverhad"

I had to pace myself so I could savor the flavors...I ate it all (well, I had a little bit leftover, but I COULD have eaten it all!)


 Early Christmas morning, we reported to O'Hare, ready to board our flight to Kansas to see my family. Because it was Christmas, security was a breeze, and we arrived at the gate in plenty of time for our 8:02am departure. However, right before we were to board, we were informed the plane did not have a pilot...apparently there was some miscommunication, so we waited for another pilot to arrive. We finally boarded the plane and took off, around 8:45. I was exhausted, so I quickly fell into my airplane half-sleep mode, planning on waking up in Kansas.

However, God had a different plan :) About 1/3 of the way from Chicago to KC, we suddenly heard a loud noise, and the oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling. None of the passengers put them on (they looked like they were manufactured in 1972 and had been in storage since then...), and everyone was just looking around, as we received no instructions from the pilot or flight attendant. I have to admit, my first thought was, "oh crap, I should have listened more closely to the safety instructions!"...and my second thought was, "gross...I don't want to put that thing on my face and breath into it if I don't have to!". We noticed there was a flight attendant passenger beside us, so Tim asked her if we were supposed to put the masks on. She replied, "Only if you can't breath!"

.... ?!!?

After what seemed like forever, the captain came on the speaker system and announced he was declaring an emergency, as we had lost pressurization. He assured us everything was under control, and that we would be landing in Chicago soon. Chicago?! Wait, we just came from there...?! Yep, back to Chicago we went! I was pretty bummed, being that it was Christmas, and no one had any idea when we would be able to get to KC.

As we were landing though, we started talking to the couple behind us, Jenni and Jonny. We found out they have lived in Hawaii for the past 5 years, and work for Youth With A Mission. They were super cool and we had a great time hanging out with them while we waited for United to find us a new plane. We finally got to KC, and then Sabetha, only 3 hours after our scheduled time. Not too bad! We were thankful that our delay and airplane scare turned out to be a blessing in disguise!

Hello, snowy Kansas!

To close this part of the Christmas recap, I wanted to share a few recipes I made over Christmas. These Eggnog Spiced Nuts were pretty delicious...I made them for Tim's co-workers, as well as my family. I like them because they are not completely coated in sugar like the nuts you get at the mall.

Oh and feel free to add extra rum...Yum! :)

Before we left for the Midwest, one of my veg friends made me some No-Bake Chocolate Peppermint Patty Bars...ohhh myyy...I had to hide them from myself in the freezer. Except they tasted better right out of the freezer. Dang it. I made them for both of my family Christmas dinners, as well as NYE. Sadly, they were not as much of a hit as I'd hoped...apparently many people don't like the mint-chocolate combo, plus these healthy/low sugar/low fat/vegan bars had to compete with all the typical holiday desserts, know how that goes! Anyway, I think they are fabulous, and you should give them a chance. :)

I actually made this delicious dish, Roasted Potatoes, Beets, and Kale before Tim and I left for our holiday. Tim isn't the biggest beet fan, but he still ate this. I substituted sweet potatoes for potatoes, and white beans instead of pinto beans. It was super healthy, colorful, and delicious!

Lastly, here is my version of Sloppy Joes, using TVP (textured vegetable protein). I don't like using processed soy very often, but occasionally I do. I had some TVP in the freezer that I bought quite awhile ago, so I decided to use it up in this recipe. To this recipe, I added more vegetables, BBQ sauce and extra mustard for a nice contrast of flavors. Tastes just like my momma used to make!

I will blog about the rest of our holiday sometime soon...until then, enjoy the beginning of this new year!

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