I recently found a list of Life Lessons on the Huffington Post....we should really train ourselves to unlearn these. I'll put my own spin on them here.
1. Problems are bad. Drama. The dreaded word I loathe. People create it. Some relish in it. I look at problems like it's math...they must be solved. It's not always a bad thing....they're learning experiences. Dr. Phil always talks about 'right fighters' on his show....I, un-apologetically, say that I am a right fighter. When I'm right...watch out...because I will have almost forensic evidence to prove my argument. Why let those who lie, cheat and steal in any aspect get off scott-free just for the sake of saving face? In more serious problems, finding the answer (math-solution) is what makes you get the Gold Star! Right?
2. It's important to stay happy. We have to stay happy...right? Staying happy is healthy....it makes everyone around you feel good...right? I say, who cares. Feel what you need to feel. Give yourself permission! Work through things. Move through issues. Faking happiness is just that...fake. Don't be a fake....that's too stressful.
3. I'm damaged by my past. And? So what? I am damaged by some parts of my past. Most of us are. It's not a bad thing. Personal tragedies do leave scars. I've learned to wear them proudly. Because of my past, I am who I am today. Some people call it baggage in a derogatory term. So be it...for them. My baggage is carried as lessons, reminders. I can't help that these things happened, but I won't allow myself to forget them. If I forget them, they never happened. And it's because they happened that I learned a lesson.
4. Working hard leads to success. Not necessarily. Playing hard is just as fruitful. I'm not saying be lazy and play and wait for positive results, I'm saying don't forget to play. Playing is also learning, whether it's work or social....you're always learning.
5. Success is the opposite of failure. Relax. "Success is built on failure." Truer words were never spoken. We constantly set ourselves up for failure. Then see failure as a bad thing. Try, try again.
6. It matters what people think of me. Wrong again! Do you really care what people think of you? Why? Why do you stress yourself out so much about what others think of you? People are going to think what they want regardless of how hard you try to convince them that you're awesome. All that work and for what? Be you. Live you. Love you. But, do it with honesty and integrity. Sometimes we work so hard trying to impress people, we lose who we are.
7. We should think rationally about our decisions. Pshaw! Our innate ability is much older and stronger than your rational abilities. Go with your gut. Thinking rational isn't always a bad thing....I'm just saying live a little. Pay attention to your physical response to decisions rather than your brain....sometimes.
8. The pretty girls get all the good stuff. Ugh. How ignorant is that thought? I personally never really had this thought. There was a time where I was the pretty girl, but didn't know it. So goes the lives of many pretty girls. I've always said that those girls who think this way may be pretty on the outside, but inside they're a cesspool of stinky tar that has the depth of a mirror. It may seem the 'pretty girls' get 'stuff'...no one really sees them for who they are, only what they are or what they project. I think people seeing you for who you are and what you've done is far more important that flawless skin and bouncy hair and a rockin' figure. I can say that now, as an adult. Our soul. Our being. That's what counts.
9. If all my wishes came true, life would be perfect. Perfection has side effects. Those who have everything generally are lacking in a lot of departments that you have in abundance. The perfect life is boring, in my opinion. My life is a learning process which is never boring. The 'things' are just that...inanimate tangible unfeeling things.
10. Loss is terrible. I do have to agree, loss is terrible, but it also teaches us to appreciate. Even in the worst of situations, people and things...there is learning. When I first discovered loss in my life I thought it was the end of the world. I thought I'd never amount to anything and fall flat on my face. I was never so wrong in my life. I learned from that loss. I grew. I did have plenty of pity parties for myself, I am human afterall. But I grew. I learned, while it took forever it seems, to not lose myself in someone else. And in the end, I learned that it was so much a loss but a triumph. I triumphed.
I love making soup. Soups, for me, are so easy to make. I start with a base, then build it. The end is just letting everything marry and cook through. Then the decision to serve over rice or noodles...or nothing...is the last step.
I've been asked by many how to make this soup or that soup and I will give away my recipes because I love that someone wants to make something I cooked! I wanted to do this post as a catch-all for basic vegetable soup.
You can add anything...beans, noodles, potatoes, onions...any in season vegetable...even frozen or canned veggies if you want. But the base is what's important. I like to start with a tomato base.
Firstly...I'll apologize for the photos. They were taken with my phone as an after-thought about this post. I just wanted to do this blog post for those of you who making soup doesn't come natural.
For a tomato based soup, take your tomatoes, I used Roma, and cut an 'X' at the bottom and toss them in some boiling water for a few seconds...or until you see the skin peeling away. Then put them in an ice water bath and take them out to remove their skins.
Then I take the tomatoes and give them a rough chop. At this point you can choose to remove the seeds or keep them, then throw them back in the pot you had the water in. I remove the water and add some olive oil. The pot's already heated so there's no waiting.
I use my hand potato masher and squash the tomatoes, add a little salt and stir.
Then slice some onions and chop some garlic and stir. Cover for about 7 minutes and stir again.
Once everything is kind of cooked down, add your water!
Return the pot to the stove and then add your veggies. I added spinach, carrots, more onions, zuchinni, peas and some vegetable bouillon and cilantro bouillon. I covered it, lowered the heat to medium-ish and let it all cook for about twenty minutes or so. Just until the carrots were done.
And here you have it! I added sliced avocado on top....
I totally forgot that I had to post this last Sunday! Better late than never!
I've been to New Orleans several times. I always loved those trips. The food. The colors. The music. The atmosphere. I've gone several times with family. We'd stroll up and down Bourbon Street. Eat the most delicious food. I went in college once and sang in a bar, took the haunted home tour, danced the night away in one of the most awesome gay bars...then woke up with gum in my hair. Still...always fun.
And, of course, the beignets.
My kids love beignets too. I've made homemade ones before and they turned out great. But now that I'm cooking vegan, I was on the hunt for a recipe. I found a couple that I liked then whittled it down to one. Then, as I do, tweaked it to suit the vegan needs.
Remember, for recipes calling for eggs...1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce counts as one egg. It works great, you never know the difference.
These beignets are like puffed pillows of fried goodness. They're not heavy like traditional beignets, but they are delicious! I won't tell you how many our family inhaled, though.
This recipe will make a lot of beignets..if you want to half the recipe, be my guest. I froze about half of the dough .. so I'm curious to see how it turns out this Sunday after being in the freezer for a week.
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs active dry yeast
1/4 cup applesauce
2 Tbs melted coconut oil
1/2 cup soy creamer or soy milk
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
Oil for frying
In a mixing bowl, combine the water, sugar and yeast. Allow to sit until the yeast gets bubbly and has woken up, about 5 minutes.
Add in the coconut oil and the applesauce and beat until combined.
Add in the soy milk and half the flour and beat for 1 minute.
Add in the salt and the rest of the flour and finish with the dough hook. If you don't have a dough hook, knead the dough by hand.
Spray cooking spray or a light bit of oil into a bowl or dish with a lid. Add in the dough and turn to coat. Cover and allow to sit in the fridge for 8 hours, or overnight.
Heat your cooking oil to 360 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough to approximately 1/4 to 1/3 inch thickness. 1/2 inch thick is too thick.
Cut the dough into 3" x 3" squares or diamonds.
Place into the hot oil carefully, making sure not to crowd the oil. The beignet should float to the surface almost immediately. Cook on each side for about 20-30 seconds, or until a rich golden brown.
Once golden brown on both sides, remove from oil and allow to rest for about 1 minute.
Here's a little video of how they puff up like magic!
But, excuse the quality..I was filming and frying at the same time.
With a sieve, sprinkle the powdered sugar generously onto the top of the beignets.
Pay no attention to my Christmas mug...I use them year around.
It's Valentine's Day....and that means CHOCOLATE! Instead of buying...or even trying to attempt to hunt down...vegan chocolates...I hunted for recipes....as I do.
I found a lot...but chose one that was easy (Because, as usual, I was doing this around midnight). Easy or not, it turned out DELICIOUS! I made sure that all the chocolate I got was vegan...no dairy...no animal products. Believe it or not, HEB had them!
So, here we go. (I don't have process photos....it was midnight..give me a break)
3/4 cup coconut milk (not “light” or low-fat variety)
*This is like the vegan equivalent to the PET or condensed milk
10 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (make sure there are no animal products for vegan truffles)
1/4-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 bag of vegan chocolate chunks, or chips
Place the finely chopped chocolate in medium heat-safe bowl and set aside. Place the coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Heat the coconut milk until it is just under a boil—bubbles should appear along the sides of the pan, but it shouldn't be bubbling vigorously.
Pour the hot coconut milk over the chopped chocolate and allow it to sit for one minute to soften the chocolate, then gently whisk them together until the chocolate is melted and it becomes a smooth, shiny chocolate ganache.
4. If you leave the ganache plain, it has a subtle fruity flavor from the coconut milk, but it is not extremely noticeable and you could add other extracts or additives to make other flavors of vegan truffles. If you want to increase the coconut flavor, add 1/4 tsp of coconut extract to the ganache. Taste it and add up to 1/4 tsp more if you prefer a stronger coconut flavor.
Press a layer of cling wrap directly on top of the ganache, and refrigerate it until it is firm enough to scoop and roll, about 1 hour. t took about an hour and a half for mine to set enough for making the balls. If you wait too long it will get very stiff and hard to work with, so it’s best to check it after an hour to make it easy to shape the truffles.
This next part is iffy. I didn't use cocoa powder....to be honest, I cannot stand a mess, crumbs....anything really on my hands. Call it OCD or my Aspie Powers...can't do it. So, I wore throw away rubber gloves and no cocoa powder and just rolled the cold ganache into balls. ** Pour the cocoa powder in a shallow bowl. Dust your hands lightly with cocoa powder. Use a spoon or a small candy scoop to form small balls from the ganache, and roll them between your hands to get them round. You can finish them by rolling them in a thin coating of cocoa powder, or rolling them in shredded coconut, toasted or untoasted. If you would prefer to dip them in chocolate, continue on to the next step.
Instead of rolling them in the cocoa powder.....I melted the chocolate chunks/morsels in the microwave until it is smooth and fluid. I then spooned them over the balls I made earlier.
Vegan Chocolate Coconut Truffles can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 weeks, and are best served at room temperature.
They are decadent.....they are rich....they are easy.....they are delicious and I dare anyone to eat these and bitch about them being vegan.
It was 2am and I remembered that I wanted to find a recipe. Since I am a chronic insomniac, it only seemed fitting to do this all right then.
A friend had posted a recipe for oatmeal made overnight in the slow cooker. As I usually do, I research and tweak. I wanted to firstly make it vegan, so eliminated the milk and butter with recipes I found. So, here's what I put together.
Steel cut oats – 1 cup
Water – 3 cups
Soy Milk – 1 cup
Melted Coconut Oil– 1 tbs.
Apples, peeled & chopped – 2
Brown sugar – ¼ cup
Kosher salt – 1 tsp.
Cinnamon – 1 tbs.
Put all ingredients in a slow cooker...no need to stir. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or 4 hours on high. Top with nuts, yogurt, fruit, jams, coconut shavings!
Here are all the ingredients before I turned on the pot.
And here it is in the morning!
It was really good! Creamy, not too sweet and filling!
**You can use any combination with the liquid – water, soy milk, almond milk, milk all work
My Italian grandmother always made the best Italian dishes.
Fried Chicken with Spaghetti.
I could go on.
Eggplant is one of my favorite veggies....stewed...fried...baked...any way. Tonight I wanted to do a take on Eggplant Parmesan. Being that I have to cook vegan...there would be no Parmesan...we have vegan shakable parm cheese, though.
I simply made some linguini for the base...I love linguini noodles but I hardly ever buy them! Luckily, I saw some on my last trip to Aldi and snatched 'em!
For the eggplant, I sweated them as normal but made sure I made thick slices. After sweating them, I soaked them one at a time in soy milk, then through a dredge of flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper and fried them in a mix of coconut oil and olive oil. Basically it's almost a 50/50 mix of cornstarch and flour...the cornstarch really makes is crisp.
Here's the Eggplant Station. :)
Dip them in soy milk.
Dredge them in flour mix.
Fry them up.
Then let the oil soak out of them.
Don't they look beautiful!?
I topped it all off with a tomato sauce. Delish AND vegan!
Sunday in our house is usually the day I make a big breakfast. Migas. Pancakes. Breakfast casseroles.
Tradition. It's how I grew up and I enjoy making things for lazy Sunday mornings for my little family.
My vegan child was wanting donuts. I know of no place around here that sells them, nor do I want to know what someone is charging for store bought vegan donuts. So I do what I do and searched for recipes to make some. I've made regular donuts before, but needed to make it vegan for her. I found a recipe online and did a little tweaking.
Did you know that you can substitute eggs with unsweetened applesauce? We keep a big jar on hand just for this reason.
3 tsp yeast
3 tbsp warm water
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup applesauce
3 tbsp shortening
2 and 1/2 cups flour
1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp coconut water (add more if it's too thick)
1. In a small bowl, pour warm water over yeast. Let sit until bubby (2 – 3 minutes). Combine coconut milk, sugar, salt,
applesauce, and shortening in a large bowl. Stir until smooth. Add in
yeast/water mixture and stir. Add flour and stir until combined (add more flour in tablespoons if dough is too wet. It should be moist, but not sticky.) Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Let rise for one hour, or until doubled.
As I usually do, I put the covered bowl in my laundry room with the dryer going. And, as usual, I had laundry that I was doing.
After an hour, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. The dough is beautifully light and airy.....I just love working with it! I used a cup to cut the donuts, then an apple corer to make the hole. It worked great, and made cute little donut holes for popping in your mouth!
I placed the donuts and holes in a cookie sheet lined with wax paper to let rise one more time for about a half hour.You can really see the difference!
After 30 Minutes
Heat the oil in a pan or pot to 350°. Make sure you have enough oil to cover at least half the
thickness of the doughnuts or the middle will be raw! Slide in doughnuts and fry about one minute on each side, until golden brown. I used our stainless steel chopsticks to flip them and put them on a cooling rack.
I'll let you in on a little secret... To check if the oil is hot enough for cooking, take a
wooden spoon and put the end in the oil. If it bubbles, it's ready.
This saves you from constantly throwing in
flour to check it.
Here's the 'station' I set up for cooking the donuts.
While donuts are cooling, put together the
glaze. To the coconut water, add powdered
sugar, vanilla extract. Stir with a whisk to remove any lumps. (Note: for a thicker, whiter glaze, add more sugar and less liquid.
For a lighter, clearer, glaze add more liquid and less sugar.)
Here is soy milk/sugar glaze.
Once donuts are cool, dip them in glaze or brush it on....I dipped them face down and put them back on the rack. If you want, you can even turn them over to coat both sides. Add sprinkles if you so wish.....I couldn't resist! I used blue sugar sprinkles and the girl child wanted chocolate.
You can also make a chocolate glaze, which I'll do next time, by adding about a tablespoon or so of cocoa powder to the glaze.