A home for all things crafty, health-conscious, cake-related, or in need of a wagon!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Beauty of Organization

A few weeks ago, I started using a notebook to help me organize grocery lists and food for the week. This one has several dividers, so I have organized it by groceries, recipes, and holiday stuff. I cannot take full credit for this idea on my own, I actually stole it from Katy of My Vegan Weightloss Journey. However, my notebook is ultra cute!

On one side, I list the foods that I have already that need to be eaten up. Then I can decide what I want to make for dinner during the week, and what other things need to be bought to make those dishes.
I also list my dinner plans on the bottom, in case I forget what I wanted to make by the time dinner rolls around. Then I know for sure that we have enough ingredients to make those things, even if it ends up being a different day that we eat them. (i.e. tonight? We're having Joy the Baker's soup that I'd planned for Saturday. I'll tell you more about that later!)

This notebook has really helped me stay more organized, and have less produce go to waste. When I don't use it to prepare the week, we end up with a lot more trips to the grocery store during the week. I fully recommend using something like this if you'd like to save some shopping trips and money!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I love cranberries this time of year. This is probably most well-evidenced by the fact that I have found a total of 4 bags of them in my freezer, in various states of opened-ness, over the last few days. This one is still whole though: You should notice the small print on the right hand corner that says, "Buy two, freeze one!". It's clear I've bought into that marketing tactic. Last night, I decided to make this crazy holiday madness bread from Joy the Baker. Oh, is it fabulous! (and vegan too!) When I make it again, I will probably reduce the oil a little bit though. Really really tasty! Now, onto today's recipe: Cranberry Orange Waffles! (warning! These are kind of killer awesome, but also have about twice as many calories as most waffles I make. I'm not sure why, but I think it's the extra flour.)

Cran-Orange Waffles: 
1 1/2 c. soy milk + 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar (add to soy milk and let sit for a few minutes) 
3 c. all-purpose flour 
1/3 c. sugar 
2Tbsp. baking powder 
1/4 tsp. salt 
1/3 c. vegetable oil 
1/4 c. oatmeal 
zest and juice from 4 mandarin oranges 
1 c. cranberries 
1/4 c. walnuts (optional) 

Mix together the soy milk and vinegar and set aside. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the soy milk and the oil, and mix well. 
Get ready to zest your oranges:
This is the best way to zest a citrus product; upside down, so all the zest is caught inside. Genius, right?

Add it and the oatmeal and orange juice to your mixture. Throw in the cranberries and walnuts too. Mix it up, mix it up!
If it is too firm and won't pour well, add a bit more soy milk, about 1/4 c. at a time. Add to your pre-heated waffle maker, and bake according to it's directions. (That means, wait until it dings.)

Remove and eat! My only warning is that sometimes, the delicious cranberry goodness likes to escape and get stuck to the waffle iron. It's part of the price we pay for yum.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Baked Apples

Looking for something easy and healthy to make for the holidays? Well, look no further, because Baked Apples are here to save the day!

Baked Apples:

3-4 large apples
Ground ginger
1/4 c. juice (I've used orange or apple, or even orangina!)

Chop up your apples into pieces, leaving the skin on. Douse a baking dish in cooking spray, and place the apples in it. Sprinkle with spices, as much as you would like. (I usually use about 1 tsp. cinnamon, and a few dashes of ginger.) Pour the juice over the top. Bake in a 350* oven for
45 minutes to an hour. About 30 minutes in, flip the apples with a pair of tongs so that they are all skin-side up. This will help them to get all the way done and mushy.

You can serve them by themselves or with a little ice cream on top. Delish!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Perfect Fried Tofu!

Yes, it can be done! There are two tricks:

1.) Heat your pan up really hot with some oil. (I used vegetable oil, but we used olive the other night and it worked well too.)

2.) Put the tofu in there and leave it. Walk away. Do something else, like cook the rest of your dinner. After a few minutes, turn the tofu. Walk away again. Then it is done!!

It's like little tofu croutons. :) Drain well with some paper towels, of course! Tomorrow? Something else yummy to do with this tofu...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mashed YUMS!

I mean, yams! When we were in Boston, I had some really awesome mashed yams, and decided to try to make them again today. Super easy, and super yummy!!

Mashed Yams:

4 yams, peeled and chopped
2 tsp. pure maple syrup
1 c. coconut milk (see below)
2 Tbsp. margarines
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Peel and chop up your yams. Then add to a large pot of boiling water, and cook until soft. Drain. Return to the pot with the margarine. Start mashing! Add the maple syrup, and mash some more. Then add some coconut milk, about 1/4 c. at a time. Mash! Mash! MASH!

Grate the nutmeg over the top, and mix well. Trust me here, the nutmeg really makes this dish!

Serve hot

Now about these ingredients...

Once you start using real maple syrup, you will never look back to that crap that's mostly HFCS. I kid you not. It may be really expensive, but it's the ONLY thing to put on waffles, and it adds just a tiny bit of maple flavor to this dish.

This stuff? Is great. I found a coupon for it the other day and decided to try it out. I used it instead of coconut milk+ agave necter+ water in the curry we made last night (Posting to come), and it was perfect. You can drink it, and it's just like the "vanilla milk" my mom used to make when I was a kid. Really tasty!

Some yams... not done with the mashing quite yet.

All done!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mushroom Risotto.. I know, right?

I love Jamie Oliver. I think he is great, and has really done a lot as of late to get people to eat better; specifically kids. This morning, I was dismayed to read that LAUSD (probably the biggest school disrict in the country) has decided to not let him work with them and make a second season of Food Revolution. (Link here) Having worked in that district for three years, I can safely say that they probably would have benefitted from his help. (Um... nachos every day for months, while the cafeteria was repaired? While that was a semi-temporary situation, if I'd still been teaching there then, I think I would have been hosting lunch out of my classroom.) Anyway, I digress.
What I was really going to tell you about is mushrooms. I have hated mushrooms most of my life. I hated them as a kid. (I'm sure this has nothing to do with the fact that when I was about two, we were camping and my grandma gave me some crackers and I was eating them outside. I happened to be standing near some mushrooms, and the adults thought I was eating them. I was rushed to the hospital to get my stomach pumped. Totally coincedental.)

I only started to tolerate mushrooms a few years ago when someone made this most excellent mushroom/wild rice/white wine soup at my job, and now I re-create it every fall without fail. Yesterday I upped my game, and made a mushroom risotto! It was, to say the least, AMAZING. I adapted it from the Risotto Bianco in Jamie's Italy, and here's what I did....

Mushroom Risotto:

2 cups arborio rice (was SO excited to see this at TJ's for under $2.50. Seriously!)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
a dollop of butter
1 large onion, diced
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1/2 c. lentils
1 cup mushrooms, diced very small (that's how I can eat them!)
4-5 c. vegetable broth
2 glasses of dry white wine (I assumed that 1 glass=6 oz, so I did 1 1/2 c. total)
4 oz. freshly grated parmesan cheese
Fresh basil, to garnish

(I ended up not using the artichokes, but I had been totally thinking about it!)

Heat up your broth in another pan or the microwave. If you are a cheater like me, use the "near boiling water" faucet from your sink. That's how I save dishes, people!

Heat your pan with the olive oil and butter. Add the garlic, onions, celery, mushrooms, and pepper, and cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes. Add the rice and let it fry for just a minute or two. Then add the wine. Jamie says, "It will smell fantastic!" and he's not wrong.

Add the lentils, and a ladle or two of the broth. The key to risotto is near constant watching and stirring. This watched dish will boil! Add more broth as it gets absorbed, but NOT ALL AT ONCE! The key is to add it gradually. It takes 15-20 minutes (unless you make the mistake I did when I made this the first time; I used wild rice, and it took over an hour.) for all of the broth to get absorbed. Taste the rice and lentils to see if they are done. The lentils will stay slightly firm, so if you don't like that, you might want to cook them seperately or leave them out.

When it gets like this, remove it from heat and add the cheese. Stir it around and add some more. Mmmm...

Top with some fresh basil, and enjoy!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Gluten-Free Lemon Cupcakes

I'm hosting a kids' birthday party tomorrow... and we're doing everything gluten-free! I adapted this recipe a little bit from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, and it's really great! (see that empty space over there? Yeah, we've already eaten half the batch.)

The only slight problem I had with these (aside from buying like 4 different flours) was that they didn't really brown on the top. Usually when this happens, I bake them a few more minutes... but this time, I just turned on the broiler for 3-4 minutes. Worked like a charm!

Lemon Cupcakes (gluten-free)

  • 3/4 c. soy milk
  • 1/3 c. canola oil
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 c. tapioca flour
  • 2 Tbsp. ground flax seed
  • 1/3 c. corn flour
  • 1/2 c. white rice flour (I'm guessing brown would work as well)
  • 1/2 c. quinoa flour (this is the expensive one)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice (about 2 1/2 lemons)
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350*. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. In a large mixing bowl, combine together the soy milk, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Mix until combined, then add the tapioca flour and flax. Mix and then add other flours and remaining ingredients, lemon juice last. Fill each muffin cup until it's about 3/4 of the way full since they won't rise as much as traditional cupcakes. Bake for 20-23 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Broil the tops if necessary. (see above) Let cool, and frost with icing.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Broccoli Soup

Sometimes you are in the mood for healthy food that also warms your tummy. This is for one of those times...

Broccoli Soup with Brown Rice
2-3 heads of broccoli
1 small onion
1 can of white beans, drained and rinsed
2 portions of veggie broth (cubes or what have you)
1/2 c. milk

1 1/2 c. brown rice
water to cover

In a large stock pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the chopped broccoli, onion, beans, and veggie bouillion.

In another pot, boil some water and add the rice. Cook for 40 minutes or so, until it is done.

When the broccoli is starting to get soft, blend the soup in a blender, about 3 cups at a time. Be careful! It can get very hot!

Return soup to pot, and keep blending, until it is all blended. (wow, I'm great with the details here!) Add the milk after it is all incorporated together.

Serve over brown rice, with salt and pepper to taste, or maybe some cheese on top.

Party Aftermath

I took this after our Halloween brunch last weekend...

The best thing about it is... I washed NONE of these dishes! Bwahahaha!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The last vegetable harvest

I cleaned out the whole front yard garden today (and planted over 40 cloves of garlic. Yes, this means that I'll never have to buy garlic again after next year!) and here's what I found:

Some mini-rainbow carrots, 4 potatoes, 1 green tomato, 2 peppers

3 beets...

And a PILE of tomatillos! We're totally making salsa sometime this week!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Granola, Part Dos

I made another batch of granola last night! It was even more delicious than the first, so here are the changes (in italics):

Trail Mix Granola
4 c. oats
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/3 c. maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. spanish peanuts
1/3 c. sunflower seeds
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. coconut
1 tsp. vanilla

Bake at 350* for about 50 minutes (it took longer with more oil, methinks.) Around 30 minutes, you can stir it up to make sure it's browning evenly. Plus, with more oil, THERE WERE CHUNKY BITS!! Really, the best part of any granola is the chunky bits!