Saturday, June 30, 2012

50 Things I’m Grateful for Right Now

Oriental Garden

  1. My health
  2. My family is ALWAYS there for me
  3. Having wonderful friends
  4. Waking up this morning
  5. My husband
  6. Knowing that I will meet new friends before the end of this week
  7. The drink I’m sipping as I type
  8. My Internet Connection
  9. My Beautiful New Home
  10. All the Websites that have helped me decorate my home
  11. All the times my mother allowed me to “help her” in the kitchen (even though it probably took at least twice as long to cook)
  12. The fact that my husband has a job in a time that so many people are without
  13. My passion for life
  14. The upbringing and safe environment my parents provided
  15. Charitable Organizations that help so many people
  16. The endless hours people put in to save the lives of strangers and animals
  17. The hand written good morning notes my husband leaves me for no reason except to say thank you or to let me know he is thinking of me
  18. Today
  19. The rain, sun, wind that all help the plants
  20. The four seasons
  21. My education, the blessing that I am fortunate enough to read and write
  22. The privilege of working for myself and from home
  23. My kitty cats
  24. Authors that inspire me to be a better person
  25. My computer that allows me to connect with the world
  26. Scientists who make my life easier
  27. You
  28. My straight teeth that my parents didn't have to pay for
  29. The chiropractor, dermatologist and plastic surgeon I have not yet met :-)
  30. Gluten-Free products, without I would be sick
  31. PETA, ASPCA, Humane Society and Animal Shelters that protect all animals
  32. Animal Rights' Activists
  33. Doctors, Veterinarians, Dentists
  34. Veterans who have or continue to fight for our freedom
  35. The opportunity to live in a country that has Religious and Political Freedom
  36. The First Amendment - Freedom of Speech
  37. Chocolate (not sure why this wasn't first on my list)
  38. Tequila
  39. The authors of all my favorite TV shows and movies
  40. The Public Library
  41. City Parks
  42. Gluten-Free Pizza
  43. Bike Paths
  44. Books
  45. Birthdays
  46. My sewing machine
  47. A good massage (my husband gives the world's best!)
  48. Feng Shui
  49. Clean Water
  50. Heat in the winter and Air Conditioning in the summer
"Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but how we react to what happens; not by what life brings us, but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst, a spark that creates extraordinary results." -- Unknown

What are you grateful for right now?  

Friday, June 29, 2012

Weekly Menu for 7/1/2012 - 7/7/2012

July 1, 2012 - July 7, 2012
Day Menu Item Shopping
Sunday
Minestrone

1 Onion
5 cloves Garlic
Celery
Carrots
1 Eggplant or Zucchini
1 Green Bell Pepper
Fresh Parsley
1 can Garbanzo Beans
Gluten-Free Pasta*
1 can Diced Tomatoes
2 cans Tomato Paste
Vegetable Stock
Dry Red Wine
Monday Pasta Alla Norma
  2 medium Eggplant
1 small Yellow Onion
Crushed Red Chile Flakes
5 cloves Garlic
1 28oz can Whole Peeled Tomatoes
Fresh Basil Leaves
1 lb. Gluten-Free Spaghetti
Ricotta or Parmesan Cheese
Tuesday
Creamy Pasta with Asparagus
Gluten-Free Linguini Pasta
Plain Soy Creamer
Lemon Garlic Cashew Cheese
12 Asparagus Spears
Fresh Herbs of Your Choice
1 cup coarsely chopped cashews

Lemon Garlic Cashew Cheese:
Plain Cashew Nuts
1 Lemon
Nutritional Yeast
2 cloves Garlic
Wednesday Vegan Tofu & Spinach Manicotti 8 Cannelloni/Manicotti Noodles (or thinly sliced eggplant)
1 16 oz. jar of Your Favorite Pasta Sauce
1 medium Onion
1 (10 oz.) package of Frozen Spinach or 1 bag of Fresh Baby Spinach
16 oz. Firm or Silken Tofu
Cashews (optional)
Carrots (optional)
Lemon Juice
1 clove Garlic
Nutritional Yeast
Thursday Gnocchi di Zucca
Baked Pumpkin Dumplings

2 lb Pumpkin or Butternut Squash
2 Onions
3 cloves Garlic
2 lb Tomatoes
Fresh Basil
5 oz Flour
3 oz Parmesan Cheese
Friday Fresh Tomato & Garlic Penne Penne Pasta
2 cloves Garlic
1 lb Roma Tomatoes
Fresh Basil Leaves
Saturday Tuscan Bean & Pasta Soup Dried Pinto Beans
Dried Lentils
Dried Split Peas
1 medium Red or Yellow Onion
1 or 2 Carrots
1 or 2 ribs Celery
3 cloves Garlic
Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
Vegetable Stockw
Dried Thyme or Fresh Rosemary Leaves
Small Shaped Gluten-Free Pasta
Parmesan or Romano Cheese


You will also need:

Vegetable Oil, Oregano, Parsley, Basil, Salt, Pepper, Salad, Salad Dressing, Olive Oil, Gluten-Free Bread, Milk of your choice

* Gluten-Free Pastas can be found in most grocery stores either mixed in with the other pasta selection or in a specific Gluten-Free area.


This week we are tapping into the Italian in each of us.

Those of you who have been fortunate to live or visit the beautiful country of Italy know the wondrous tastes that abound the regions.  Back home and faced with reality, we have one major trick up our sleeves.  On any given night we can be in Italy if only for a few hours with a few simple modifications.  We can listen to our favorite opera, cover our table with a checkered cloth, eat out doors or by candlelight, drink Italian wine and savor the bounty from our kitchen.

These recipes provide great week-night meals for your family but they are also perfect for entertaining or special occasions.  If you or anyone has a special dietary need, these recipes are also easily adapted to Vegan, Gluten-Free, or Vegetarian.  An example of changing out ingredients in a meal to make it Vegan is to use soy or another nut milk, vegan cheese, vegan sour cream, vegan mayonnaise, or vegan Parmesan cheese.

At the end of the week, or sometime during, please sound off about this week's menu.  Did you enjoy the websites?  How were the recipes?  Were they easy to follow and the ingredients easy to find?  Did you have quite a bit of the ingredients already on hand?

Did you find cooking different meals having similar items easier?  Were you able to prepare multiple meals at once?

What would you like to see on future menus?

P.S.,  Please share your family's favorite quick and easy meal.

Please share me with your friends! Please forward this post to your friends or better yet share on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  THANKS!  Your comments and help in spreading the news about this site is ALWAYS appreciated!  Be sure to sign up to receive future articles delivered directly to your inbox.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Your Amazing Mind!

I received this brain teaser via email the other day and thought of you.  I've seen this type of quiz where the letters are out of order or missing and somehow our incredible brain can still read it.

This is a good example of a Brain Study:  A nurse friend of my mother's said that if you can read this OUT LOUD you have a strong mind and that Alzheimer's is not lurking around the next corner.

7H15 M3554G3
53RV35 7O PR0V3
H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N
D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5!
1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5!
1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG
17 WA5 H4RD BU7
N0W, 0N 7H15 LIN3
Y0UR M1ND 1S
R34D1NG 17
4U70M471C4LLY
W17H 0U7 3V3N
7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17,
B3 PROUD! 0NLY
C3R741N P30PL3 C4N
R3AD 7H15.
PL3453 F0RW4RD 1F
U C4N R34D 7H15.

I'm not qualified to say if this is truly a test for Alzheimer's but it is amazing what our minds can do.  If we can read words that aren't really there, what else can our minds do?!

How do you keep your mind sharp?  I've heard crossword puzzles, math problems, sudoku, are very good at exercising our mental acuity.  Two of my favorites are where I have to find clues within a picture or figure out what is different between two pictures.

P.S.,  If you have a blog with brain teasers, please link to this post.

Please share me with your friends! Please forward this post to your friends or better yet share on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  THANKS!  Your comments and help in spreading the news about this site is ALWAYS appreciated!  Be sure to sign up to receive future articles delivered directly to your inbox.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Apple Cobbler



Apple Cobbler

This has to be the easiest apple cobbler I’ve ever made!

2 Granny Smith Apples
1 T Tapioca
1 T Lemon Juice
1 t Apple Pie Spice
1 C Graham Cracker Mix
2 T Butter

Apple CobblerSlice (I like the skins so I don’t peel) the apples.  In a soufflĂ© dish combine the Apples, Tapioca, Lemon Juice, and Spice.  Cover with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes at 375F.

Mix the Graham Cracker Mix (you can use graham crackers and break them into crumbs for the mix) with the butter until crumbly.  Place in the refrigerator to keep chilled until ready to use.

Remove the Apple dish from the oven and crumble the Graham Cracker Mixture over the top.  Recover the dish with the tin foil and continue to bake for another 20 minutes.

Wheat-Free / Gluten-Free Apple Cobbler with Vegan Topping
Remove the tinfoil and bake another 10 minutes to brown and crisp up the top a bit.

Serve warm.  Will keep nicely in the refrigerator for a couple days - if it will last that long!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Chipotle Potato Soup

Inn on the Creek Potato Soup

I'm not usually a fan of soup that comes in a can or premixed because of the sodium content.  In fact, this one has 630mg of sodium per cup, which I feel is still too high.

Chipotle Potato Soup

A few reasons I do like this particular mix is because:
  1. It's made in the USA.
  2. It cooks in 15 minutes.
  3. Individual portions can be made.
  4. It's all natural.
I also like this mix for all its applications.  Not only am I able to serve this as a hearty soup, just by mixing water, to my family I can also add vegetables and use the mix as a base.  When we are lucky enough to have leftovers, we use it as a gravy over baked potatoes or enjoy it for lunch with a sandwich or salad.

This particular soup shown was made as part of a themed potluck dinner.


Three additional items that we happened to have on hand were added.  This dish was a big hit and one of the easiest recipes I've ever given out without having to write it down!
    Chipotle Potato Soup
  • 1/2 T crushed chipotle peppers
  • 4 sweet peppers
  • 2 C Frozen Home Fries
When we attend a potluck, I like to print out recipe cards for the dish.  That way those who want to make the recipe at home can pick up a copy without us having to ask for a pen and paper or my trying to remember who wanted the recipe and getting it to them.  I like it when people have their recipes available as well because I'm always looking to increase my personal recipe file.  Also, the recipe now has a history.  Each time I prepare the item for my family, we will remember that party or event.

Can you see all the ways this soup can be used?  What about adding broccoli or using this as a base for corn.  Salmon chowder!  If a little less water is used then the soup would be a little thicker and would be great over rice.  I can see adding some frozen sweet peas and albacore tuna to the mix and ladling it over toast.

Soup is one of those great meals I enjoy making.  No two soups are ever the same.  Whatever is in the freezer or refrigerator that needs to get used up typically goes into my soup.  Somehow, and I don't really understand, they turn out yummy!

How do you use a pre-made soup to enhance your meals?  What amazing meals have you made by shopping your pantry?  Isn't it great when you can stay home, save money, and still serve a delicious meal?!
 
P.S.,  Please share your family's favorite quick and easy meal.

Please share me with your friends! Please forward this post to your friends or better yet share on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  THANKS!  Your comments and help in spreading the news about this site is ALWAYS appreciated!  Be sure to sign up to receive future articles delivered directly to your inbox.

Monday, June 25, 2012

7 Ways to Save Thousands Every Year!

homemade popcorn

Watch your savings GROW!


Try one of the following items for a month or a couple months and then add another item.  You can experiment and celebrate by showing your family how much you've saved or bring them into the planning stages.  They might find it a challenge to replicate their favorite pizza or meal at home.  With creative ideas saving money can actually be fun.

These are some items we have tried and incorporated into our savings plan.  We often find that the planning for the evening is almost as fun as the event itself.  It's pretty cool knowing that we are using technology to make our lives easier and a little less expensive!

  • Use subscription based or FREE access to watch your favorite TV programs or movies instead of paying for premium cable services. 
  • Use a VOIP (voice over internet protocol) phone service.
  • Use coupons for restaurants, events, amusement parks, and groceries that you purchase anyway.
  • Plan and run all your errands at once.
  • Pay CASH. If you can’t pay cash today then save the money until you can and who knows, the urge for the purchase might not be there anyway.
  • Dine on your favorite foods at home. Stay in and cook as a family.
  • Movie Night at home!

Here’s the key to making all this really work.  Take the amount of money you would have spent on an evening out or the difference between what you paid and the full price and put that in a “Vacation” or “Addition to House” jar.

We were able to save enough to pay for the closing costs on our new house!



nostalgic popcorn maker
Make staying in for “Movie Night” an evening everyone looks forward to.  Change your living room into a theater cafĂ© and offer cheese fries, nachos, popcorn, soda, and adult beverages or have a theme where the food matches the feel of the movie.

Another big way to save money and have fun is to entertain at home.


How do you save money and what do you plan to do with your “loot of cash”?  Do you have a “Vacation” jar?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wheat-Free / Gluten-Free – Now What?

How will I eat? I will starve! What? No bread, pasta, cakes, cookies, pastries?!


wheat-free/gluten-free chocolate cake



This is one of those cases that you can actually have your cake and eat it too.


I’m not a doctor; nutritionist, dietician, or chef but I have an intolerance to wheat and gluten.  The main reasons, from what I’ve been able to gather, people are eliminating wheat and gluten from their diets is due to allergies.  Basically their bodies react to wheat, gluten, barley, and rye.  The other reason, which seems to be a growing trend, is the fact that people are finding out that they are losing weight; lowering their sugar level, have more energy just by eliminating wheat and gluten from their diets.

The super sneaky thing about wheat and gluten is that one or the other is in just about everything!  It’s in pasta sauce, cereal, soup, vitamins, cosmetics, and practically anything that needs a thickener or held together.

As always, do your research and read the labels.  Here are some additional sources to aid in your research:


Your new life is blossoming before your very own eyes.  Revel in your gluten-FREEdom.  If you are new, please share your adventures.  If you are a wheat-free/gluten-free warrior, please share your conquests and recipes.
 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

My (Makeshift) Pantry

When we moved into our cute apartment while searching for our new home, a few things - the pantry being one - were not high on our list.  Once we moved in, it became apparent that unfortunately our temporary home doesn’t have what one would call a pantry.  So, we have truly combined our dining room and kitchen.  I suppose our storage system is much like open-cupboard cabinets.  Very pretty to look at but function and storage must be taken into consideration.  Luckily we had some nice storage pieces.  Glass containers are so much prettier to look at than a box.  So, cereal and pasta went into pretty containers.





The metal shelving found its way into the kitchen from the storage closet to hold the canned goods and coffee maker.  These larger coffee makers really are great for company or quickly making a large pot of tea.
 



The island cart came in from the screened-in patio to hold some extra dishes and non-canned goods.


Sneak peek into the cabinet under the counter.


What does your pantry look like?  Do you have a “real” pantry or a makeshift one like us?  Do you use alternate storage items for your staples?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Weekly Menu for 6/24/12 - 6/30/12

June 24, 2012 - June 30, 2012
Day Menu Item Shopping
Sunday Vegetarian Chorizo
Firm Tofu
Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)**
Low-Sodium Vegetable Broth
1 can Diced Tomatoes
1 small Yellow OnionSmoked Paprika Powder
Cumin
Thyme
Ground Allspice
Marjoram
Xanthan Gum
Soy Lecithin
Cayenne Powder
Red Chili Powder
1 Red Ancho Chile
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
White Vinegar
2 cloves Garlic
Shallot
Monday Enchiladas
 1 can (15 oz) Enchilada Sauce
1 can (15 oz) of Vegetarian Refried Beans
1 Onion
1 Bell Pepper
6 to 10 Mushrooms
Cheddar Cheese
6 Flour or Corn Tortillas
Tuesday
Tofu in Apricot Tamarind Sauce
Extra Firm Tofu
Cremini and Shiitake Mushrooms
Dried Apricots
Tamarind****
Piloncillo or Brown Sugar
Lime
Chipotle Chilis in Adobo Sauce
Apricot Preserves
Rice
Wednesday Flautas Vegetarian Refried Beans
Shredded Cheese
Mini Corn Tortillas
Thursday No-Queso Quesadilla Nutritional Yeast
Cornstarch
Lemon Juice
Mustard Powder
Turmeric
Tahini Paste
Salsa
Flour or Corn Tortillas

optional fillings: spinach, mushrooms, olives, peppers, onions, potatoes, black beans, Soy Chorizo*
Friday Quick Appetizer Platter Tomato
4 oz panela (queso fresco)
Avocado
1 small Quesadilla
Refried Beans
Black Beans
Guacamole
Flautas
Sour Cream
Salsa or Pico de Gallo
Cotija***
Saturday Tortilla Soup Vegetable Broth
1 White Onion
1 Anaheim Chile
1 Serrano Pepper
1 can Whole or Diced Tomatoes
1 can Garbanzo Beans
  Chile Powder
  Ground Cumin
Fresh Cilantro
Corn Tortillas
Avocado



You will also need:

Vegetable Oil, Salt, Pepper, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Oregano, Cinnamon Powder, Salad, Salad Dressing, Olive Oil, Mayonnaise, Gluten-Free Bread, Milk of your choice

* Soy Chorizo is available in the fresh vegetable area of most grocery stores.
** TVP - Textured Vegetable Protein usually has gluten but there are some brands that are made Gluten-Free.
*** Cotija can be substituted with Parmesan or Romano cheese.
**** Lemon Juice and Water or Vinegar can be used in place of Tamarind


Fresh Mexico Fare from your Kitchen to the Table.

Mexican food offers many quick and easy meals.  Try these recipes and add some new favorites to your already delicious repertoire.

These recipes provide great week-night meals for your family but they are also perfect for entertaining or special occasions.  If you or anyone has a special dietary need, these recipes are also easily adapted to Vegan, Gluten-Free, or Vegetarian.  An example of changing out ingredients in a meal to make it Vegan is to use soy or another nut milk, vegan cheese, vegan sour cream, vegan mayonnaise, or vegan Parmesan cheese.

At the end of the week, or sometime during, please sound off about this week's menu.  Did you enjoy the websites?  How were the recipes?  Were they easy to follow and the ingredients easy to find?  Did you have quite a bit of the ingredients already on hand?

Did you find cooking different meals having similar items easier?  Were you able to prepare multiple meals at once?

What would you like to see on future menus?

P.S.,  Please share your family's favorite quick and easy meal.

Please share me with your friends! Please forward this post to your friends or better yet share on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  THANKS!  Your comments and help in spreading the news about this site is ALWAYS appreciated!  Be sure to sign up to receive future articles delivered directly to your inbox.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Are You Hungry? - Food Ministries

At a time when our Nation needs to believe in someone or something our Government Officials, Corporate Leaders, Churches, and Charity Organizations are being scrutinized.  Our leaders should be teaching us how to live without fear, prejudice, and greed.  Yet, here we are reading daily about our Country’s finest leading us down paths of homelessness and hunger.

Our leaders should be held to a higher standard and live accordingly to their preaching/teaching.  When an elected official says that we all need to tighten our belts and band together, then they too should curtail their spending.  When one of them gets caught using tax payers’ money for their personal gain then they should be removed from office and not receive their benefits such as medical and retirement.

If we can’t trust those telling us to trust them, then whom can we trust?  If a church official asks for donations to feed the hunger, then why isn’t he/she held accountable when that same money leaves the country or pays for other items?   Isn’t that the same as paying into Social Security and learning that the money isn’t there?

The first non-profit organization I remember hearing about that was in the headlines for fraudulent behavior was the United Way.   Not everyone at United Way was bad, only a small number.  Then again, it only takes one bad apple in the basket to ruin the rest.  This behavior, stealing or “cooking the books”, is especially despicable because of the number of innocent people that were affected.  All the charities and recipients were hurt because now people give less if they give at all.

This leads me into the discussion of The Angel Food Ministries and its founders Pastor Joseph Wingo (aka Pastor Joe), wife Linda along with sons Andy and Jonathan Wesley Wingo. Pastor Joe started The Angel Food Ministries around the Atlanta, GA area in 1994 and from that date through September 11, 2011 they helped feed families in 45 states and approximately 500,000 families across the country.   The Ministry also helped out non-profit organizations such as churches and senior centers by donating $1 for every box they sold each month. Unfortunately, according to Wikipedia, “In December 2011, the Wingo family and two others were issued a federal indictment for 49 counts of fraud."

In the wake of The Angel Food Ministries closing there is light ahead.  We need to maintain our faith in humanity.   As long as we continue to help others through donating our time, household goods, food, money, or whatever way we can, there is still hope.

We can change a nation one person at a time.


Two non-profit organizations that have stepped up and are helping many families are Smart Choice Food and Giballi.  They offer restaurant quality foods, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, family packs, products of USA or grown locally, and senior (diabetic friendly) prepared meals.  The menus change monthly and they also offer holiday menus.

These two programs work similarly to the way The Angel Food Ministries worked, and that you can order your boxes from their websites or from a local hosting site and then pick up your order on a specific date(s) each month.  There is no membership fee and everyone is eligible for purchase.

I hope these two organizations can help you or someone you know by reducing their grocery bill each month.  Have you purchased from either of these groups?  Do you know of any organizations that are helping out with groceries or feeding families?   If you know of programs that are helping families please let us know below.

Thank You!

P.S.,  A special thank you to Sheila M. Poole of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, wikipedia, Jeff Schapiro as well as Barry Bowen of the Christian Post Reporter for bringing to light what actually happened to The Angel Food Ministries, who “At the peak of the oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, Angel Food fed 40,000 people in Pensacola, Florida, for free on one day."

Please share me with your friends! Please forward this post to your friends or better yet share on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  THANKS!  Your comments and help in spreading the news about this site is ALWAYS appreciated!  Be sure to sign up to receive future articles delivered directly to your inbox.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Preparing Dried Beans

Black Beans - Dried


Did you know that in the nineteenth century, prior to the mass production of meat processing, beans were the primary source of protein for Americans?

If you are trying to include more sources of protein to your diet other than meat or if you are a vegetarian, thinking about becoming one, or a vegan, increasing your consumption of beans or adding bean dishes to your meals will help in caloric and nutritional needs.


Beans, peas, soy, and other legumes are a great source of low-fat, low-calorie, and no cholesterol protein.  Many also contain zinc, calcium and iron.


Is it really worth buying dried beans and peas?


Mixed Dried BeansI suppose it is if you want to reduce sodium consumption and eliminate a lot of the words you can't pronounce (at least I can't!) in addition to all the preservatives.

Another really good reason to buy dried over canned is the cost savings!  Here's a little math for you:  1 pound dried = 7 cups cooked (approximately, depending on the type and size of beans) and 1 can = almost 2 cups (15 oz).  That means one pound dried = 3 and 1/2 cans!  That's a savings that can add up.

Getting back to basics is really a lot easier than it seems at first glance.  It takes a little extra thought but once you get into the routine, it's so much better and a whole lot more fun.

Types of dried beans that are typically found in local grocery stores include:
    Lentils - Dried
  • Black Beans
  • Black-Eyed Peas
  • Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)
  • Lima Beans
  • Lentils {Do NOT need to be soaked}
  • Mixed Variety
  • Navy Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Red Beans (these look like kidney beans but smaller)
  • Red Kidney Beans
  • Split Peas (Green, Yellow and sometimes mixed) {Do NOT need to be soaked}



Depending on the type and size of dried beans:
One pound equals approximately 2-1/4 cups dried
or
6 to 7 cups cooked
or
3 to 3 1/2  - 15 ounce cans.


"Okay Marie, I bought a pound of dried kidney beans.  Now what?!"


Ahh, you made me smile on that one because I've been there.  I would normally open one or two cans of beans depending on what I'm cooking.  We know that is 2 to 4 cups of cooked beans.  So, I will now take 1 cup (1/2 a pound or 1/2 of the bag) dried beans and allow them to soak.  The result will give me about 3 and a 1/2 cups cooked.  Beans, peas, etc. will typically double (or more) in size by the time they are done soaking.


3 SIMPLE steps for Preparing Your Beans:


  1. Spill your beans into a cookie sheet or colander and sort through them looking for any small pebbles or other natural debris that shouldn't be there.
  2. Shower then Bathe your beans.
    • Quick Soak:  For every 1 cup of dried beans add 3-4 cups hot water in a large pot.  Allow water to come to a rapid boil for about 2 minutes and then remove from heat.  Keep covered and let stand for 1 hour.  Drain and rinse.
    • Overnight Soak:  For every 1 cup of dried beans add 3-4 cups of cold water in a bowl.  Let stand overnight or at least 6-8 hours.  Sometimes, if there are a lot of bubbles, I will replace the water and allow to continue soaking.  Drain and rinse.
  3. Cook your soaked and rinsed beans (1 cup beans to 3-4 cups water) by allowing to simmer slowly with the lid slightly tilted on the pan until desired tenderness is achieved (about 1-2 hours). 
Now your beans are done and you can either cook with them as you would after opening a can of beans or divide the beans and freeze some for later use.

Chickpeas - Dried


Wait a minute!  What about those bubbles?  What are they and why are they there?  They are antinutrients such as phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors.  If you didn't see the bubbles that would mean they will be releasing in your body causing gas.  The other good reason for seeing those bubbles is knowing that digestion and nutrient absorption will be increased.

How do you store your dried beans?  Have you noticed a difference since switching from cans?
or
Are you still hesitant to switch from using canned beans to dried?  Do you have additional questions?

P.S., If you liked this post please share it with your friends and be sure to sign up to receive future articles directly to your email inbox.  Oh, and of course, your comments are ALWAYS appreciated!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Vegan Queso Dip

 
Mock Mozzarella
Mock Mozzarella
Vegan Queso











This recipe started out as a Mock Mozzarella by Cindy Demmer.  I followed her recipe except for two minor changes.  First, I halved the recipe and Second, I used flax seed instead of whole wheat flour.

I'm not really sure I can agree with her assessment of this cheesy spread being a "mozzarella".  It really is good except DH and I kept comparing it to mozzarella cheese and we couldn't get past what we were thinking it was supposed to be.  To us, mozzarella cheese is white, thick, stringy when melted, and a very mild flavor marrying it up with other ingredients perfectly.  We agreed with her that this could be addictive on pizzas.

However, I'm more inclined to agree with Joanne Stepaniak, author of "The Nutritional Yeast Cookbook" and that this is more of a cheese spread.  In fact, Joanne calls this her "Melty Nutritional Yeast Cheese".  This, I concur whole heartily!

Vegan Queso Dip
Vegan Queso Dip

Moving forward, we wanted to make this cheese something we would use everyday and not just for pizzas.  So, we played with the recipe, made some changes and came up with this delicious Vegan Queso Dip.

 Ingredients for the Vegan Queso Dip:

  • 1/4 c Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/8 c Cornstarch
  • 1 T Flax Seed
  • 1/2 t Sea Salt
  • 1/4 t Garlic Powder
  • 1 c Water
  • 1/2 t Mustard
  • 1/4 c Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 t Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 t Agave
  • 1/4 t No -Salt Seasoning (something like Mrs. Dash)
  •  1/2 c Salsa
  • 1 can Diced Organic Tomatoes with Juice
Just like Cindy says, Mix the dry ingredients in a saucepan with the water whisking constantly until it thickens.  Remove from heat and add the oil and mustard.  Put back on the burner and slowly add the remaining ingredients.

With all the liquid, it will seem really runny.  Continue to simmer over low heat until thick (the consistency of nacho cheese spread).
Vegan Queso Dip
See all the tomatoes and peppers!

The first night we ate this with chips.  The next afternoon we added it to our fish for lunch.  Then we tried it with a grilled tuna melt (this was the melt).  YUM!!! in each case.

Cindy, you're right - This is addictive!  We're now wanting to try this with everything.  We will have to make your "Mock Mozzarella" for our next pizza night.  Thank you for sharing your recipe.

P.S., What is your favorite Vegan cheese recipe?

Please share me with your friends! Please forward this post to your friends or better yet share on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  THANKS!  Your comments and help in spreading the news about this site is ALWAYS appreciated!  Be sure to sign up to receive future articles delivered directly to your inbox.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Art of Receipt Collecting

We've had two full weeks of receipt collecting with the June 2012 Money Management Challenge.  Hopefully it's starting to become second nature remembering to keep the receipt or to ask for one.  What system did you choose?  Are you separating your receipts by week, putting them all in one envelope, or sticking them all on your refrigerator door?

You've seen the commercials or magazine ads for Neat Receipts and the cool things it can do.  But do you really want to spend about $200 or more on a scanner or another piece of office equipment?  Probably not.


Since the object of our goal is to save money, we tend to agree with Jack Busch at GroovyPost when he said, "Why not use my iPhone and Google Docs’ OCR capabilities and roll my own digital receipt filing system?"   So here are some ideas to help you continue collecting receipts for budget purposes, work, or taxes without having to spend more money.

One of the larger organizations online is Mint.com.  Mint is a secure and free system that enables you to track your spending habits and help you achieve your savings goals.


A special thank you goes out to Bakari Chavanu for the reminder of Mint and also for introducing us (me) to  Lemon.  It's a free service and App for your Android or iPhone that helps you keep track of loyalty cards, receipts, business cards, or anything else you might keep in your wallet.

Erin at Unclutterer has a few ideas for handling receipts and whether they should be kept long-term.

Also, Susan Ward explains how she keeps her receipts organized for monthly bookkeeping and year-end taxes.

These are only a handful of ideas.  There are so many different methods of record keeping and Apps available but hopefully these can get you started.

Do you have a preferred method of record keeping or an App that you use?


P.S.,  Stay tuned for more Money Matters Monday updates.

Please share me with your friends! Please forward this post to your friends or better yet share on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  THANKS!  Your comments and help in spreading the news about this site is ALWAYS appreciated!  Be sure to sign up to receive future articles delivered directly to your inbox.
Substance of Living

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I am my Father’s Daughter


Harley Davidson
Although I look more like my mother, I am truly my father’s daughter.  He taught, and continues to teach, me to believe in myself and fear not what lies ahead.  One of his favorite quotes is “I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today” by William Allen White.  Not only is this one of my dad’s favorites but he also lives his life in this manner.

Daddies should be every little girl and boy’s hero.


My dad is still my hero. 

I remember my dad removing a splinter from my finger and all the while talking to me so that I didn’t even know he was done.  I still smile at this memory.  As a teenage girl, my dad was the one that I went to when I needed advice about boys.

These days there are a few miles and a phone between us but I still run to my dad when I need advice or to discuss my bountiful load of ideas.  I am very fortunate that my father is still alive and very much a part of my life. 

“I have a premonition that soars on silver wings.  It’s a dream of your accomplishment of many wondrous things.  I do not know beneath which sky or where you’ll challenge fate.  I only know it will be high.  I only know it will be great!” – Anonymous

Dads, Fathers, Daddies – none of you have an easy job and yet you make it look effortless.  You stay up late worrying about your family, work hard all day long, and somehow still have enough in you to sample our newest gastro-invention, play games with us, help with homework, and listen to our problems.

Honda Shadow 750This day is not about my dad but all daddies that continue to live in our hearts and memories.  Perhaps you are a dad, and for that accomplishment alone, you will forever be remembered and loved.








Before I was myself, you made me, me

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Letting Go of the Past

Acknowledge The Mile Markers in Your Life – Now Burn Them!


Write down every major and minor accomplishment on a separate piece of paper.


  • Graduate from High School, College, Trade School – Write each down
  • Win a Championship Title? – Write it down
  • Have Children? – Write it down
  • Make Partner in the Firm? – Write it down
  • Survive an Illness or Accident? – Write it down
  • Start a Business? – Write it down
  • Master the Zen of Making Bread? – Write it down

You get the idea; write down every accomplishment.

This is a time of celebration or contemplation.  You choose to make this moment private or gather your friends and make this a yearly event.  Either way, you will pick a time to throw each piece of paper that holds your accomplishments into the fire.  Watch them burn and as they do, feel the change and growth within you.  You are not defined by past moments of glory.  They have helped shape you into the person you are today but they are not who you are.

Allow yourself to become who you are meant to be today.  Living in the past is much like driving a car by looking into the rear-view mirror.  It’s nice to see where you have been but the future is so much more exciting.

The act of writing down our accomplishments is to give them proper acknowledgment while the burning is symbolic of their release.  If the option to burn is not available, tearing, burying, or flushing the paper will serve the same meaning.



How do you release your past?  Do you use a similar method for other past events in your life?  Is this a private moment or public sharing?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Weekly Menu for 6/17/12 - 6/23/12

June 17, 2012 - June 23, 2012
Day Menu Item Shopping
Sunday Vegetarian Cassoulet

1 (10-ounce) package Blue Corn Tortilla Chips
1 (24-ounce) package dried Cannellini Beans
Garlic
2 Yellow Onions
3 cloves
10 ounces tomatoes, blanched, peeled and diced
Fresh Oregano
Fresh Thyme
1 (12-ounce) package Soy Chorizo*
Soy (imitation) Bacon Bits
Baby Carrots
Celery

Emmental (Swiss Cheese) Cheese
Monday Miraval's
Vegetable Pot-au-Feu
Vegetable or Chicken Broth
2 Skinless Chicken Breasts (Tempeh or Tofu)
Couscous (Quinoa)
Zucchini
Carrots
Mushrooms
Turnip
Green Beans
Asparagus

Small Pumpkin or 4 Acorn Squash for Serving
Tuesday
Vegetarian Salad Lyonnaise
Frisee Lettuce**
Croutons
Egg
Shiitake or Portabella Mushroom
Onion or Shallot
Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Wednesday Honeyed Fruit Salad Dry White Wine
Honey
1 Lemon
1 Pint Strawberries
2 Pears
2 Peaches
Cherries
1 kiwifruit (optional)
Thursday Cauliflower Gratin 1 Clove Garlic
Cauliflower
4 oz Smoked Tofu
Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs
Friday Mushroom Parmentier
6 Yukon Gold Potatoes
2 lbs Mushrooms
1 Large Red Onion
Garlic
Red Wine
Vegetable Stock
Fresh Thyme Leaves
Fresh Parsley
Saturday Vegan Galette des Rois
(Kings Cake)
  Vegan Margarine
Firm Tofu
Almond Extract
Kirsch (Cherry) Brandy***
Almond Flour
All-Purpose Flour
Flaxseed Meal
Puff Pastry or Gluten-Free Pie Crust


You will also need:

Vegetable Oil, Cloves, Oregano, Thyme, Bay Leaf, Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg, Garlic, Salad, Salad Dressing, Olive Oil, Mayonnaise, Gluten-Free Bread, Sugar, Butter, Milk of your choice, Baking Powder

* Soy Chorizo is available in the fresh vegetable area of most grocery stores.
** Frisee Lettuce can be substituted with escarole (milder flavor, different texture), radicchio, dandelion greens or mustard greens.
*** In place of the Kirsch Brandy, cherry syrup may be used.

This week is all about French Cuisine.

Have you been afraid to try French cuisine?  Not sure you're all about the cream sauces, pate, or snails?  How about the cost?  All pretty scary, right?  Nah!  French food is much like Italian, Indian, or American fare in the fact that the food varies by the season and region of the country.  You can make French food at home, make it as elegant or family oriented as you like and all within budget.

These recipes provide great week-night meals for your family but they are also perfect for entertaining or special occasions.  If you or anyone has a special dietary need, these recipes are also easily adapted to Vegan, Gluten-Free, or Vegetarian.  An example of changing out ingredients in a meal to make it Vegan is to use soy or another nut milk, vegan cheese, vegan sour cream, vegan mayonnaise, or vegan Parmesan cheese.


At the end of the week, or sometime during, please sound off about this week's menu.  Did you enjoy the websites?  How were the recipes?  Were they easy to follow and the ingredients easy to find?  Did you have quite a bit of the ingredients already on hand?

Did you find cooking different meals having similar items easier?  Were you able to prepare multiple meals at once?

What would you like to see on future menus?

P.S.,  Please share your family's favorite quick and easy meal.

Please share me with your friends! Please forward this post to your friends or better yet share on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  THANKS!  Your comments and help in spreading the news about this site is ALWAYS appreciated!  Be sure to sign up to receive future articles delivered directly to your inbox.

Linking with: StoneGable's On The Menu Monday

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Flag Day - June 14, 2012



"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America,
and to the Republic for which it stands,
one Nation under God,
indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all."


Tomorrow, Thursday, June 14, 2012 is Flag Day.  When I was growing up, I don’t ever remember hearing about this day.  As an adult, I’ve grown to appreciate this day more than July 4th.  There isn’t a National Holiday, parade, or even a neighborhood celebration and yet the flag, along with the Bald Eagle, is a symbol of freedom recognized throughout the world.


The Star Spangled Banner


by Francis Scott Key
O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming;
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say, does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On that shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam--
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream;
'Tis the Star-Spangled Banner; O long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where are the foes who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave;
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war desolation;
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just,
And this be our motto, "In God is our trust";
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


No one can take away our pride in this country or our God.  Enjoy this day and every day that we live freely and are able to speak without fear of retribution.  So wave your flag with honor and pray with thanksgiving during your moment of solitude.

In closing, please visit The Jersey Journal to read this beautiful poem "It's Only a Piece of Cloth" written by Carl Shapiro. 

Two other websites you might enjoy are The History of Flag Day and National Flag Day Foundation.
 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Anytime Tea Cake

Anytime Tea Cake

I'm so happy to be able to share this newest recipe with you today.  I'm happy because whenever I start changing ingredients to fit my dietary needs, it's anyone's guess whether it will turn out or be one of those mad scientist experiments.  I, like I'm sure you, have revisited the kitchen counter many times to try again.

I've learned to keep the original recipe in tact, take notes of what was changed, the date, and any comments as to how it turned out and thoughts of what to try next time.

Anytime Tea Cake

Mix together in a medium bowl

2 T Vegan Butter
2 T Olive Oil
1/2 C Dark Brown Sugar, packed
1/4 C Sucralose type sugar
2/3 C Plain Soymilk
1/3 C Orange Juice
1 t Apple Cider Vinegar

Allow to sit for five minutes.

Mix together in a small bowl

1 1/2 c Gluten Free Flour Mixture
1/8 c Flax Seed
1/4 c Vanilla Soy Protein Powder
1 t Baking Soda
2 t Baking Powder

Mix in with the wet ingredients

1 Ripe Banana
1/2 C Coconut Rum
1 t Vanilla Extract
1/2 t Almond Extract

Gently Fold Dry Ingredients in with the wet


Lightly Grease an 8 x 4 inch loaf pan and Bake at 350 degrees F

Bake 30 minutes.  The cake should be nicely brown.  Loosely cover the top of the cake with some aluminum foil to prevent from browning too much.

Bake and additional 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the pan.  Enjoy!

This recipe started out as Marzipan Tea Cake by So Delicious Dairy Free.  If you do not have gluten issues, this cake sounds absolutely delicious.  That's why I adopted and adapted it to my needs!  lol

Anytime Tea Cake

Doesn't it look beautiful and perfect for an afternoon tea or to serve at your next book or garden club meeting?

P.S., You might have to play with the amount of flour you use because every mix is a little different.  You're wanting the batter to be that of cake when you pour it into the pan.

Please share me with your friends! Please forward this post to your friends or better yet share on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  THANKS!  Your comments and help in spreading the news about this site is ALWAYS appreciated!  Be sure to sign up to receive future articles delivered directly to your inbox.