Kung Pao Chick’n

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Another slow cooker specialty. All you have to do when you get some is cook some rice and your dinner is ready. Who doesn’t like that after a long day at work?

Ingredients

For the sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons Better than Bouillon vegetable paste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Ingredients

1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
5 ounces of mushrooms chopped
1 can water chestnuts, drained
4 Gardein chick’n scallopini patties, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons sesame oil

Directions

Make the sauce in a small bowl. Chop the bell pepper, mushrooms and chick’n. Combine with water chestnuts and sauce. Stir to combine and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Make a thickener by mixing the cornstarch with some of the sauce from the slow cooker in a small cup, then add it back to the slow cooker. Right before serving stir in the sesame oil. Serve over cooked brown rice.

Sweet Potato and White Bean Soup

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I am still at it with my slow cooker. Seriously, I use it so often I worry about it giving out but so far it is still going strong. Since this recipe calls for two canned items, make sure to watch the sodium content. I have discovered that organic canned goods have less sodium than big brands.

Ingredients

1 medium sweet potato, pealed and cubed
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can white beans
5 cups of water
2 teaspoons Better than Bouillon vegetable paste
2 cups chopped swiss chard
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
2 springs of parsley or 1 tablespoon dried
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Cut up vegetables and combine sweet potato, garlic, celery, diced tomatoes, beans, water and bouillon paste in the slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. About 20 minutes before serving, add the swiss chard, thyme and parsley. Cook until the swiss chard is tender. Add salt and better to taste and enjoy.

Split Pea and Apple Soup

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I love crockpot soups. Especially in the winter. I tend to work long hours and who really wants to cook all night after working all day. I love the feeling of putting together dinner in the morning. It gives me one less thing to worry about.
Split pea soup is one of my favorites and this recipe is especially great.

Ingredients

2 stalks of celery
2 medium carrots
1 medium sized apple
6 cups of water
2 teaspoons Better than Bouillon vegetable base
2 cups split peas
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
salt to taste
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, plus extra for drizzling

Directions

Cut up celery, carrots and apple. Combine them, water, bouillon, split peas, bay leaf, thyme, coriander, nutmeg and salt in your slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
Remove and discard the bay leaf. Add balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. Puree the soup with an immersion blender until smooth. Drizzle a few drops of balsamic on each serving and enjoy.

All natural hair care

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It has been a while since I have made any blog posts. Things have been crazy busy but I think everything is starting to slow down and my posts should be more regular in the future.

I love green products.  Most if not all cleaning supplies, etc in my house are green. But I do have two issues with green products. The chemical names are long and nearly unpronounceable, which makes me wonder what exactly the product is. And of course, green washing. You have to do your research into green products, many companies know how to word things to make you think you are buying green items when in fact, you are not.

Because of those two things, I try to add all natural products into my daily life as well. I was using a vegan pomegranate facial moisturizer. My face apparently did not like this product and ended up breaking out with pimples. So I started researching how to clear it up and I discovered baking soda. I make a soft paste, apply it to my wet face, let it sit for about a minute then rinse. While I was trying to clear up my face I used this wash daily. Now that my face is clear I do it weekly. I have also found a vegan facial moisturizer that my face likes.

My baking soda facial wash discovery had me researching everything else baking soda can do. I already knew about how well it cleans and was using it in showers and toilets, etc. But I discovered other uses as well. My favorite is shampoo. My hair is long so I have discovered two tablespoons in a cup of water works well for me. I mix it with water and pour it over my hair, especially my scalp and massage it in. Then I rinse it out. For conditioner, I discovered about a quarter cup of distilled white vinegar in a cup of water, again I pour it over my hair, let it sit for about two minutes, then rinse. A tip I quickly discovered, bring your cups of baking soda and vinegar into the shower and make your mixture with your warm bath water. The first time I tried this, I pre made my mixtures without thinking about temperature and the ice cold water was quite a surprise.

I am in love with my new hair care regime. I do not use product in my hair but I still felt my hair was cleaner, it was also much lighter and fluffier and so so soft. My hair also stayed cleaner longer. I wash my hair as little as possible, as over washing is very bad for hair, but I also will not walk around with a greasy head, so I was pleased my hair seemed to stay cleaner longer. It was also very shiny. What girl doesn’t love soft, shiny hair? Obviously, this left my hair scent free. I have no issue with this. Heavy perfumes are not good for our hair anyway. My hair smelled fresh and clean and that is good enough for me. But I did decide to see if I could add a scent. So I placed two drops of pure lavender essential oil into my vinegar conditioner mix. My hair, days later, still has a soft lavender smell.

I am sold. I love my new hair care regime. It is chemical free, all natural and works so well.

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Stuffed Blackberry Cream Cheese French Toast

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My husband and I enjoy what we call our splurge breakfasts on the weekends. Today was stuffed cream cheese and blackberry french toast. This recipe is simple and easy to make, so a great weekend splurge.

Ingredients:
4 slices bread (I used Ezekiel)
4 tablespoons plain vegan cream cheese (Tofutti)
2 handfuls blackberries
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons almond milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons earth balance butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Directions:
Mix flour, almond milk, cinnamon and vanilla in a shallow bowl. Spread cream cheese on two slices of bread, place a handful of blackberries on one slice and fold like a sandwich with the sides with cream cheese touching.
Heat one tablespoon of butter in a saute pan, dip both sides of the sandwich in the batter. Place in saute pan and lightly fry each side until golden brown. It cooks quickly, approximately two minutes on each side. Make sure to keep the pan on low to low-medium heat so you will not burn the toast. When done, slice and drizzle with maple syrup and enjoy. Repeat the same steps to make the second stuffed french toast.
Serves two.

Foodie Pen Pals – November

This was my first month with foodie pen pals. I really enjoyed the experience.  One of the things that I found very interesting about this project it is really fosters respect for different dietary habits.  Everyone participating has different food quidelines they live by.  My pen pal this month is from Herman, Nebraska.  Her name is Janell Carson.  I was so excited to receive her box.  Janell’s letter to me said she is a meat and potatoes kind of person but she was so respectful of my vegan diet and sent me some great treats.

Her first item is Dorothy Lynch dressing made in Columbus, Nebraska.  I honestly have never tried this before and I am looking forward to it.  I am trying to decide what I want to do with it.  I may marinate some tofu in it or drizzle it on some pasta.  I am excited to try it.

The second item was Aronia fruit chews.  In her letter she talked about Aronia berries being the new superfuit.  I try to keep up to date on the new super foods.  I really enjoy trying out new things, especially things that are so healthy for us.  I had never heard about aronia berries before and she letter made me dive into some research.  I am so glad that she sent me these and told me about the berries.  They will be a part of my regular diet now.  My husband actually snatched this bag out of my hand as soon as he saw it.  He told me they were delicious.  Haha! This picture is not the actual bag she sent me but instead a picture from the internet, as I have yet to get the bag back from my husband.  He said, “Thank Janell for me.  I love them”.  So thank you Janell.

The third item or items, and my very favorite, home dried herbs from her garden.  When Janell sent me her first email asking about my dietary habits and what foods I enjoy I did not even think to say spices.  She must have been reading my mind because I LOVE spices of all kinds, especially home grown and dried spices.  There absolutely isn’t anything better.  I was like a kid in a candy shop when I saw these spices.  There was actually more in each bag. I have already used some of them!

Janell also sent me a couple recipes.  She sent me a recipe for a copycat version of the Dorothy Lynch Dressing.  I loved this.  I love home making most of my foods so I was excited to see this recipe. She also sent me recipes for Tomato-Basil Soup and Mint Julep.  I am in love with tomato soup, especially in the winter.  It is my go to comfort food.  So this recipe made me smile.  As did the recipe for Mint Julep, we all need that perfect end of a hectic day drink and this will serve that purpose well.

So thank you Janell.  I thoroughly enjoyed receiving your package.  You were a great pen pal.  If you want to check out her blog here is it:  http://nellisredneckrestaurant.blogspot.com/

blogbadgeAPPLE Foodie Penpals

Vegan Reese’s Cups

 

I got this recipe from Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet.  I tweeked it just a little and doubled the recipe since I am taking them to a Thanksgiving Party.  I am very impressed and will be bringing them to many more parties. 

Ingredients

20 graham cracker squares (10 whole crackers)

1 cup earth balance butter

1 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter (unsweetened and unsalted, I used Adam’s since it’s only ingredient is peanuts)

1/2 cup raw sugar

2 cups vegan chocolate chips

1/2 cup vanilla almond milk

1/2 cup chopped almonds

 

Directions

Line two 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners.  Break the graham crackers into large chunks and put in a food processor.  Pulse on and off until they are ground into fine crumbs.  Measure out 1 1/2 cups of crumbs and set aside.  Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Stir in the peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs and sugar and mix well.  Remove the mixture from heat.  Evenly divide the mixture, approximately two tablespoons per cup, among the muffins.

At this point I put the muffin tins into my refrigerator.  The directions have you immediately putting the chocolate on the mixture but my chocolate plopped all the way to the bottom when I did that.  So I let the peanut butter mixture cool in the fridge for about an hour.  At that point they should be firm enough to spread the chocolate mixture on the tops.

Combine the milk and chocolate in another pan.  Stir over medium heat until the chocolate has melted.  Spoon the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter mixture.  Top with chopped almonds.  Place in the refrigerator to set for at least two hours before serving.

Vegan Ranch

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I used to order packs to make my own vegan ranch but then the lady I was purchasing them from went on maternity leave from her shop. So I was forced to figure it out on my own. I am proud to say my creation is every bit as good as hers.
Ingredients

1 cup veganaise
1/4 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons parsley
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Use immediately or store in your fridge for up to one week.

Smoky Mac and Cheese

Ever since changing my life style and turning to vegan eating, I have been trying to come up with a mac and cheese recipe that I really loved.  I was not pleased with any of the “cheese sause” recipes and I did not like the slimy texture of putting daiya cheese directly over hot pasta.  So I have worked and worked to find a recipe that I really liked.  I failed over and over again until this recipe.  I am offically in love with mac and cheese again.  Obviously, if you have read any of my other posts, you know I love my slow cooker.  Cooking it in your slow cooker will make the cheese mixture very soft and creamy.  And the added benefit is that liquid smoke in anything makes my house smell so cozy.  I love it. We all need those comfort food nights every now and then and now I can add this recipe to my “favorite” section.

Ingredients

4 cups non dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

1 cube of vegetable bouillon

8 oz whole wheat macaroni

2 cups shedded vegan cheddar cheese (I used daiya)

1 cup shredded vegan mozzarella cheese (again daiya)

1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

a couple dashes of chili powder

1 teaspoon corn starch

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Oil the crock of your slow cooker.  Toss all ingredients into the slow cooker and stir to combine.  Cook on high for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the pasta is al dente.  Stir the mixture every 20 minutes.  You want to make sure everything is thickening well and that the pasta is not over cooked. After about an hour the mixture should be very creamy and thick, continue to cook for another 30 minutes if the pasta is still crunchy. 

When done, plate and enjoy.  This recipe make four servings and reheats well for left overs.

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