Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Little Something About Me

And first, a picture:

You say, "Oh! What is this?  I new icing?  A sweet dip?"  No!  It's homemade deodorant!

Okay, I've been using homemade deodorant for a little under a year.  I've only had to make it 3 or 4 times.  I think it's been three.  Anyway, it lasts forever, and it smells good, and I don't end up dried out like I did with store bought stuff.  I was skeptical at first, because it IS a little weird when you first think about making deodorant, but I'd suggest it to anyone now!  The only downer - and the reason I haven't been able to convert my husband - is that this is NOT an antiperspirant.  So, ready for a story?

It all started a couple weeks ago when I realized I was nearing the end of my tube of deodorant.  I thought about making some new stuff, then life happened.  I was lazy, hubby was sick, I had to fold laundry.... the list of excuses goes on and on.  Well, yesterday I used the last of my stick.  I had planned on making more last night, then I had a meeting.  Once I got home, I thought, "Hey, I don't stink that bad, I can wait to make more until tomorrow."  Fast forward to today.  All's well until about 11:30 when I become very aware of my self and the fact that I'm going sans deodorant.  I am SO glad I get out of the office an hour early today!  I am strong enough to admit that I smelled pretty badly.  Anyway, I got home and the very first thing I did was pull out my deodorant recipe and get to work.  I could NOT go another day like this.

The Recipe:

1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup corn starch (or arrow root)
4 Tbsp coconut oil
10 - 15 drops of essential oil (optional)

Now, you can play with the ratio of soda and starch.  Some people are more sensitive to one, so they will up the other... as long as you have 1/2 cup when you're done, no worries.   Also, I've seen recipes that call for solid coconut oil and others that melt the coconut oil... it's personal preference. I think that melted or semi-melted makes it easier to mix, but neither way is wrong.

The Process:

Mix all ingredients until well blended.  You can store your deodorant in a tub of sorts - like a face cream tub... something that closes.  Or you can do what I do - put it in an old (store bought) deodorant tube.  Makes for much easier application, in my opinion.  Just twist the knob all the way to the bottom and fill it up with your mix.  If you melted your oil, or if the mix has gotten soft from all the handling, you may want to stick your deodorant in the 'fridge to harden up a bit.

And that's all there is to it.  Now you know I use homemade deodorant.  And you know how easy it is.  Don't let the cost of the coconut oil stop you.  You'll buy one jar and - if you're only using it for deodorant - will use it for maybe 8 - 10 (possibly more) deodorant re-fills.  Think of the cost of your store bought stuff - $4 or $5 each.  I think it pays for itself pretty quickly :)

Random picture of my cat:

Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy (Late) Valentine's Day!

Have I mentioned that I have an amazing husband?  While most girls were breaking their diets (or postponing diets) for Valentine's chocolates and trying to find a vase for the roses, my amazing husband took me out to Barnes and Nobles and let me get any 2 cook books I want!  Isn't he great!?  So, I got The Happy Herbivore


And I had to order Betty Goes Vegan

I am so excited about both of these books!  I've already made several recipes from The Happy Herbivore and loved them all - Hubby did too!  I'm looking forward to trying out the recipes in Betty Goes Vegan too :)

While we wait, I'll share a couple of my recipe trials with you.  For dinner tonight, I made the fettuccine alfredo - except I used bow ties:

This isn't the BEST picture, but I just remembered to snap it as I was headed to take dinner to my husband at work.  This was SO easy.  The longest part was literally cooking the pasta.  I do suggest eating kind of immediately, as it got a little crusty by the time I was able to eat (about 30 - 40 minutes later).  It still tasted amazing, but it didn't look as appealing.

On Saturday, I decided to try out the black bean brownies I've heard everyone raving about.  We decided to use the "Mexican Hot Chocolate" version of the recipe - just add a dash of cayenne. They are amazing!  Hubby and I were both leery, "Beans in brownies?  Who does that?!"  Well, we do now, let me tell you.  They are also great as  a base for an ice cream sundae :)

Try out these recipes and others found on the Happy Herbivore website, linked above!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Something Warm and Cold-Weather Ish

  So, if you don't live in Texas, you may not know that the weather is unusually cold and wet.  Today is the second time this winter that I've seen snow - which doesn't come often to this small town.  Sometimes, when it's cold and wet, you don't want to cook, or leave home.  But when your dear husband is stuck at work and wants something to eat, what do you do?  I asked Dear Hubby what he wanted for dinner, to which he responded, "Something warm and cold-weather ish."  My mind begins to race, trying to think of the perfect something to make.  Then it hits me.  Potato soup.  TA-DA!!

  I was inspired by a Pampered Chef recipe: Loaded Baked Potato Chowder.  Sounds amazing, no?  Obviously, there were some changes to make it vegan.  First - no butter.  It's not needed.  Even a vegan sub.  I suppose it could make it richer, but I don't think it's necessary.  Second, use your favorite plant milk in-place of the dairy milk.  I used almond milk.  Make sure you have regular, unsweetened milk.... I can see the recipe going bad fast with vanilla flavored milk.  bleh.....  Thirdly, use vegan cream cheese sub.  I used Tofuttie garlic and herb.  Very yummy.  The bacon and cheese are totally optional to this recipe.  I can see that they add to it, but no need to add them if you don't want to.  Add all the veggies you like.  I just put sliced green onion in mine.  But you could do mushrooms, corn (would make it a corn chowder though, instead of potato soup.  Which is still good), spinach, onion, carrots - the list goes on and on.  And now, time for a picture.

  Okay, now to make the soup.  I used all my nifty Pampered Chef tools, but you could easily do this on the stove with fantastic results... it just would take longer.
  So, 3 large potatoes, sliced into quarters.  Put the potatoes and milk in your Deep Covered Baker (DCB) and microwave for 13 minutes.  The recipe on the PC website says to move the potatoes around a bit in the cooking time.  I didn't bother with that and it came out fine.  After the potatoes cook, remove the DCB from  the microwave and mash the potatoes with either the Mix n' Chop or Mix n' Chunk (pictured).  This takes, literally, all of 2 minutes - if that long!  Love these tools :)
While the potatoes were in the microwave, I cooked my bacon and green onions.  

I also mixed the milk and cream cheese in the Manual Food Processor.

  Once the potatoes are out of the microwave, you add your milk / cream cheese mix.  This looks super wet, but trust me, it thickens up pretty quick.  Just stir it all up a bit.  The recipe says to microwave again, but my potatoes were still hot enough to warm the milk up, so I didn't bother.  I also added my bacon and green onions here.

I obviously got some soup on my camera....
  Stir up all the goodness, and serve.  This soup will go fast.  Hope you made enough.  But even if you didn't, it's so quick to make, you could easily whip up more :)  Enjoy!!

  If you have any questions about the Pampered Chef products I've shown here, feel free to email me :)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Soup. It's What's For Dinner

Happy Monday!  Man, I'm slacking again.  Last we were here, I promised to blog again on the next day.  Here we are... I think a week or 2 later.  Here's what you missed:

Photo from: Vegan Richa

I was in a rush to make lunch for Hubby, so I forgot to take pictures.  Sorry :(
While I am not a huge fan of buffalo, Hubby and I both enjoyed this.  I think we should have done more buffalo sauce in the cooking millet, and less on the sandwich.  But that's just my opinion. 

Now, for today.

Soup.  I've never been a huge fan, but in the past few weeks, I have been craving soup almost as much as my husband - which is a lot.  I am making soup every chance I get!  Tonight, Hubby isn't feeling well and requested soup for dinner, so off to the internet I go, in search of a delicious sounding recipe.  At last, I prevailed and found something that sounded good to Hubby AND to me.   

Enter quinoa and veggies, stage right.

These are not the exact veggies in the recipe found at Oh She Glows.  I had made some roasted veggies for the Super Bowl party at my In-Laws last night, and this is mostly what was left over.  A mix of squash, onion, eggplant, bell pepper, and mushrooms.  I had carrots in the 'fridge, so I cut up a couple of those also.  I could not find my garlic press (very sad, since I love my PC garlic press... ) so I didn't add any garlic here. 

Now, this is not the most appetizing picture in the world, but trust me, it smelled amazing.  I was missing diced tomatoes and spinach, so I didn't add them (obviously). Instead, I used broccoli.  Steamed broccoli, to be exact.  I didn't steam it all the way done, since I didn't want it to turn to mush in the soup.  At this point, I added some granulated garlic.  I did not use salt or pepper.  I avoid any added salt whenever possible.  I was also missing nutmeg - which I mostly only use at Christmas time with egg (now egg-less) nog.  I can see how it would have added to the flavor, but I don't think it turned out bad without it.  I let this simmer for about 15 minutes before I couldn't wait any longer.

I took Angela's advice and added some walnuts.  I think it gives the soup a well-rounded, robust taste.  This soup is seriously good.  See I couldn't even wait until I was done eating to tell you guys:


Now, I have a question.  For you guys that ARE actually reading this (thank you, by the way), what would you like to see?  I am willing to try most recipes... plant based, that is.  Let me know :)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Best Husband IN THE WORLD!

Tonight, Hubby decided to cook.  I will now tease you all with his amazing skill :)

It all smells AMAZING, and I snagged one of the eggplant fries - it TASTE amazing too.  :)   I know, I'm one lucky lady.  I'll post more probably tomorrow about my adventure in bread making and what other goodies I made today :)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

"Meat"loaf and Pudding

So, nothing new for dinner.  I made the "No-fu Loaf" from a few posts back.  Made a sandwich with some Go Veggie (purple) cheddar.  Instead of ketchup for the topping, I used some Annie's BBQ sauce.  Very yummy, I think I want seconds!

A few nights ago, I was craving something sweet.  I decided I wanted chia seed pudding.  If you've never made chia seed pudding, it's ridiculously easy.

What you need:
  • Chia seeds
  • Milk (I use almond, but you can use any milk you want!  I've made it with coconut milk before and it's amazing too!)
  • Whatever spices you want
  • Sweetener, if you want
If you are unfamiliar with chia seeds, let me enlighten you.  Yes, this is the same chia seeds as Cha-cha-cha-chia.  Yes, the same as the sculptures heads with grass growing from them.  Per Wikipedia: "Chia, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family ... according to the USDA, a one ounce (28 gram) serving of chia seeds contains 9 grams of fat, 5 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of dietary fiber and 4 grams of protein. The seeds also have 18% of the recommended daily intake of calcium, 27% phosphorus and 30% manganese,[7] similar in nutrient content to other edible seeds such as flax or sesame."  This is pretty amazing stuff.  I use it in stir-fry, salads, smoothies, all sorts of stuff.

So, pudding.  You take some chia seeds - as much or as little as you want.  Then milk - you want 5x the amount of milk as chia seeds.  So if you use 1/4 cup chia seeds, you would use 1 1/4 cup milk.  Next add what ever spices.  I suggest about 1 1/2 tsp vanilla, just for a little flavor.  Then you could add cocoa powder to make chocolate pudding (yum).  Some cinnamon and honey (or Honee) for a simple pudding.  I decided to do a chai pudding :)  I have there ground clove, ground cardamom, and ground cinnamon.  Very small amounts  of these spices are needed.  1 teaspoon of each, at the very most.  I think I used 1/2 tsp of cardamom, 1 tsp of cinnamon, and maybe 1/2 tsp of clove.  ( I did this a week ago, so forgive my bad numbers.)

Once you mix all the ingredients, you will need to put a lid on your bowl and refrigerate.  You need to go and shake the bowl about once or twice every ten minutes for the first 45 minutes.  The chia seeds will get stuck together if you don't, and that's not a very appetizing pudding, trust me.  Keep this in the fridge for about 24 hours.  You can break into it after 12 hours, but trust me, it's better after a whole day.

Chia seed pudding has a consistency similar to tapioca pudding.... not the same, but similar.  Don't be freaked out if you take a bite and it feels like you're chewing little eye balls :P

Unrelated to the rest of the post - I had a couple friends at work that had birthdays this past week.  I decided I would make them each their favorite cakes.  Now, before I decided this, I'm not sure I ever baked a cake before, let alone a vegan cake!  But the power of the internet is fantastic.  You can find just about anything.  I found a pretty great red velvet cake (lost the link now, but I'll try to find it), and an equally amazing vanilla cupcake recipe converted into a regular cake.  I used the recipe found here and just baked it in my circle Pyrex instead of a cupcake pan.  Here are my cakes:

With that, I bid you all a good evening.  Feel free to leave comments or questions! 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dinner and Cleaning As I Go

Okay.  Dinner was not as pretty as I had hoped.  But it actually tasted pretty amazing.  I mostly followed the recipe on Fat Free Vegan.  I really love all the recipes I've tried from this site.  They are all pretty simple and EASY to follow.  Obviously my stuffed seitan didn't turn out quite like Susan's did, but I'm sure the taste was pretty close. 

I did my filling a little different than the recipe, simply because I HATE celery.  Will.  Not.  Eat it.  My mom tried everything she could think of, when I was a kid, to get me to like it.  No luck.  I love carrots instead :)  Anyway.  I used double the amount of mushrooms and no celery.  I also added 2 small jalapenos, because I like a little spicy.

In case you all didn't know, you do not need to use oil to saute your veggies!  Just pop your veggies in your pan, as if you were going to saute or stir fry with oil, and let them get all yummy smelling and soft, stirring occasionally.  Then add about 1/4 cup water or veggie broth to get up any of the brown, cooked on bits.  There you go.  No oil saute. 

I was just about to toss this thing the other day, since I don't eat eggs anymore.  Now I'm glad I didn't!  I used it to cut my mushrooms, just the way I used to cut my eggs!  It made quick work of an otherwise time consuming task.  I sliced all of my 8 oz of mushrooms this way and it took may 7 minutes.  That includes the time I paused to take a couple pictures.  One draw back - As you can tell from my counters, this isn't the "cleanest" way to slice mushrooms.  I had little mushroom bits all over the place after this.  Not to fear, I got them all cleaned up :)

So, I mixed up the veggies to saute, then worked on the seitan.  Now, this seitan recipe has a few.... "different" ingredients that you don't find in just every seitan recipe.  Not that it's a bad recipe - it's actually delicious!  I was just a little surprised to see ground flax seed and oat meal on my ingredient list :P

I am pretty sure I made mine just a little too wet.  It was not holding shape well, and I should have stopped and added some more dry stuff, but I didn't want to stop.  So, I rolled it out, spread my filling on it, and rolled it up.  That's when the first sign of trouble came up.  But I was not to be deterred!  I pressed on, with my floppy seitan and overly mushroomy filling.  As I plopped the ever-shifting mass into my pan, I was almost lead to throw the whole thing away:

It was coming apart all over the place.  I was a little depressed :(  But!  I had come this far, so I said, "What the hell, let's finish this thing."  So I did.  And I'm glad I did.  But I wasn't glad until I tasted the thing.  At this point in the process, I was still a little depressed.  I added the roasting liquid, and it came apart even more.  But, I was determined.  So I wrapped it up like a present and popped it in the oven.

After baking and basting and baking and basting and baking again, I had a pretty decent smelling kitchen.  It didn't look too hot though :(

I started kind of cleaning after I got my "roulade" in the oven.  I was surprised at how quickly it came around.  Mine you, I'm not one that "likes" to clean, I just like my house to be clean.  I swear, I would love little brownies to come clean the place while I was asleep.  Alas, I don't live in fairy tale land.... *sigh*  So, I set about cleaning it up all by myself. 

I'm not sure if I've mentioned, but I clean better when Hubby's home.  We split the duties, each taking what we're good at - me vacuum, Hubby dishes - and at the end, we have a clean apartment.  So just imagine my sense of sinking when I stepped back from cooking and saw this kitchen.  Bleh.  It looks worse than what it really is because my stoneware lives in my oven, so I had to take it out to make dinner.  Once I took that into account, it was a little better.  Then I realized there are clean dishes ready to be put up, so I did that.  Then everything went nicely into the dishwasher, ready to be cleaned, once we have a full load.  :)  Easy clean up! 

So, dinner was great.  Had "roulade" (I keep putting quotes around it, since it didn't really roll up) and fiesta corn. 

I finished my evening with a lovely Earl Gray/lavender tea that I got from a friend at work.  If you should find yourself in possession of such a tea, I suggest you only steep it for about 3 minutes.  The longer it steeps, the soapier the lavender flavor gets.  But when you get the time just right, it's amazing :)

Good night!  Hope to see you all again soon!  :)