Cooking Vegan for the first time

Cooking new ways and using new ingredients is the best way of understanding people and cultures.  Though we are not a vegan family, I am intrigued by the lifestyle and food options.  So, naturally, when my daughter invited a few friends for an Independence Day celebration and one happened to be vegan, it gave me the opportunity to try something different.

These tacos are made with Tempeh, which is a fermented soybean product, sort of in a pressed cake-type thing.  I’ll admit it does not look very appetizing, but I’m game to try most things, so why not?  Besides, every year I have a list of foods to try and this was number one!36580986_10212644190325790_1342196345359826944_n

I used a recipe from Thug Kitchen.   Breakfast Tempeh and Potato Taco Bar.  The link will take you to the recipe, which is copyrighted, and I respect other people’s creations too much to steal them.  However, here is what the filling looked like going into the oven. 36640267_10212655711653816_2212548511294029824_n

See?  All nice and soaking in that spicy liquid, which is vegetable broth, (easy to make from scratch and freeze for when needed), and spices!  The broth cooks into the tempeh and softens the potatoes so nicely.  I made this slight in advance and put in the slow cooker so our guests could help themselves.  Here is the finished taco! 36753588_10212655711453811_1613652739621912576_n

Not only did our lovely vegan friend eat about 4 of them, but our other guests, who tried them out of curiosity originally, kept coming back for more!  These really were simply fabulous!

So what did I learn from this?  Tempeh, despite its appearance, is really versatile and I can’t wait to try it in other things.  Wouldn’t you think this old broad would know not to judge appearances?

The Thug Kitchen books are delightfully fun.  However, I should add a caveat.  If you are a bit sensitive, be warned, there is lots of bad language in them.  As for myself, I swear like a sailor, so I find the books quite amusing!   It’s up to you, however.  Don’t let a few cuss words having you leaving a valuable vegan resource behind!

Now I can say, confidently, to my vegan friends, Let me feed you!

Foods for the Fourth

fac221cd242cba33646eb653a12b7a09 My daughter has decided to have few college friends over before they head off to fireworks and festivities, so I wanted to make a few small things to tide them over before they go eat carnival food. (which is what summer is all about, right?).

I slapped together this quick fruit salad, with cherries, (because they are my favorite summer fruit and I always have them on hand), pineapple, (69 cents each!!!!!) and mint, (growing in the yard.)  I added a dash of lime juice and will let it sit for a bit before serving.  36591781_10212643309063759_4854018694721830912_n

The sales on fruit now are incredible!  I found raspberry pints 2 for a dollar!  I KNOW, RIGHT?  They made their way into my cart, despite having no clear plan for them.  I had a vague idea of making a fool or something, so some whipping cream was added to my list.  Upon arriving home, I thought, “Why not make a semi-freddo?”  My hubby loves them, so I invented the following recipe for the day.

Rose-Raspberry Semi-Freddo

  • 2 pints raspberries
  • 2 t. rose syrup (simple syrup made with rose water)
  • 2 c. whipping cream
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 2 T. powdered sugar + 1 T. powdered sugar
  • splash of wine

Prepare a loaf pan by covering it with foil and letting ends overlap.

Add raspberries to a blender and process until smooth.  Press through a sieve to remove seeds.

In a large mixing bowl, mix cream cheese with 2 T. sugar, until smooth.  Add raspberries, rose syrup and wine.

In another mixing bowl, that’s been chilled, beat cream until stiff, add 1 T. sugar.  Then gently fold in the cream cheese/raspberry mix.  Don’t mix it together until it’s uniformly one color.  You want a bit of that contrast!

Pour into prepared pan and freeze at least 6 hours.  Eat within the next day or so, but if you are like we are, that should not be a problem!

Here’s the finished product.  I like to drizzle a bit of chocolate sauce on top of each serving! 36598099_10212643309263764_7782789750364045312_n

Hope you enjoy it!   Happy Holidays!<a href=”https://www.bloglovin.com/blog/19518133/?claim=hhwzqyrks7v”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

 

 

Too hot to cook

Cooking seasonally is very important to me.  I like to feel in touch with the seasons and buy things when they are at their best and most fresh, not to mention cheapest!  I found this cool summer recipe in a cookbook that I was just gifted for my birthday, Dinner Special. I love this cookbook!  So many fun ideas!  So tonight I made the Avocado and Shrimp Salad because it is 90 degrees here and that’s TOO HOT TO COOK.

Avocado and Shrimp Salad

  • 1 red bell pepper, roasted
  • 1 minced shallot
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 3 T. plain greek yogurt
  • 1 T. apple cider vinegar, ( I used black vinegar from Mitsuwa)
  • 1 t. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • head of lettuce, torn into large pieces
  • 1/2 lb cooked shrimp
  • 1/4 c. fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 t. lime juice
  • 1 avocado in wedges

In a blender add ingredients up to lettuce.  Set aside.   In large bowl toss lettuce, cilantro, lime juice, a splash of olive oil.  Add shrimp, avocado and either serve dressing on the side or drizzle it over individual servings.

I just finished making the dressing and I can tell you it smells amazing.  So now dinner is made, fuss-free, healthy and cool.  I can’t wait to enjoy it!36641765_10212637645642177_8043965706611458048_n

Come on over!  I have plenty!  Let me feed you!

Bubble Tea!

36575347_10212630930314298_8323437407496044544_n Bubble teas are everywhere, but they are pretty pricey indulgences, so why not make them at home?   My philosophy is “If someone can make it, so can I.”  So today was experiment day and it was a success.  Give this a try!

Mitsuwa is a local Asian market near my house, so I purchased these there.  If you don’t live anywhere near an Asian market, MOVE TO MY CITY!  No, I’m kidding, you just be happy where you are and buy them on Amazon.  It’s fine.   If you do live near one and have never gone before, please do so.  It’s fun!  I like to challenge myself to get at least one new ingredient to play with every time I go.  I’d also recommend picking up a few fresh tropical type juices.  I bought one in Mango and one in Lychee.  The tea pictured above features the Lychee juice.           \

Bubble tea

  • 10 cups water
  • 1 cup pearls
  • Sugar syrup or honey
  • 2 tea bags
  • juice, your choice
  • Big straws!

Boil water until a rolling boil, add pearls, boil 3 minutes, turn down the heat, simmer 3 more, turn off heat, let sit 3 more minutes.   Remove pearls from hot water and immerse in cold water for 30 seconds.  Pour sugar syrup over them.  In the meantime, add tea bags to 1/2 cup of hot water.  Let tea cool.  Add a few spoonfuls of pearls to bottom of a glass, add some tea, add juices and straw and enjoy!

The bubble tea itself is super easy to make and you feel so accomplished when it’s done.   The tapioca pearls are super delicate and they dissolve in cold water, so first, you want to get your water boiling.  Soon, they come to the top.  36577284_10212630931834336_4754285680048209920_n

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Use 10 cups water to one cup pearls.  Also, I let my pearls soak in the sugar syrup for a little bit too, to add some sweetness.

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 I made two drinks, one with Mango for my daughter and one with Lychee for myself.  They turned out great and made a fun summer treat!

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, remember, if someone can do it, so can you.

Crepe bar

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     It’s fun when the gang has guests sleepover!  When the kids were little, sleepovers were very carefully planned.  They tended to be full-blown productions, loud and chaotic.  Now that my kids are college-aged, they tend to be much more sedate, usually because it was a late night or a night of indulgence and I insist they not drive home.  Either way, I like to feed whoever stays the night with us and my favorite way to do that is with a Crepe Bar.  Crepes are really simple to make and if you set out a few extra ingredients, your guests can customize their breakfast!  36598405_10212621973210376_8746434386993348608_n

  The recipe is a basic one, you can find anywhere on the internet, reproduced here for your use.

                                       Crepes

  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c. milk
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1/2 t. vanilla

   Mix all ingredients in a bowl until smooth.  Spray small fry pan with oil or melt a pinch of butter.  Heat.  Pour scant 1/4 cup batter into pan and swirl with wrist until batter coats pan evenly.  Cook about two minutes, flip and cook the other side quickly.  Place finished crepe on a plate and cover with a clean dish towel until ready to serve.  Add favorite fillings and toppings.

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You can make these right as the gang is waking up and by the time they are all finished, the kids are up and eating and you can polish one off yourself.  Also, leftovers, if there are any, keep nicely in the fridge for a few days.

Happy hosting!

 

 

 

 

When good intentions go “bad”?

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Recently I found strawberries on sale and I thought I’d do that thing where you buy fruit and keep it available so that you snack on that instead of chips or cookies.  You know.  You see the fruit in the fridge or on the counter and you are just the most healthy thing ever, snackin’ on your fruit.

It didn’t quite work out that way.  Oh, sure, I’d occasionally grab a berry, but I realized that the poor strawberries were not looking so fresh anymore, so what to do?  I HATE wasting food.  Did you know that In the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply?  That drives me insane!  So much discarded food waste.  Usda  

It’s important to try to find ways to use the food you buy.  I decided I needed to do something quick with those berries.  Now this recipe has been floating around the internet for ages, but I think because of its simplicity, everyone disregards it.  Simple is great, though!  I mean, I love to work through a complicated recipe, but it’s summer, it’s hot and I’ve got berries to use!

Cheesecake Berries                                                                                        I don’t have measurements for this.  If you have that partial block of leftover cream cheese from another recipe, just take that, add a few spoonfuls of powdered sugar, a splash of vanilla and mix it until smooth.  Remove the stem section of the berries and hollow them out just a bit.  Then spoon the cream cheese filling into each berry and then I whipped a bit of cream that I had leftover (see, no waste!),  and sprinkled graham cracker crumbs on the top.

Do I have to mention that I no longer have strawberries rotting in the fridge?

Why “Food Mom 4 Life”?

The reason for the above-mentioned blog title and also my Pinterest and Instagram name is simple.   Food is my primary way of showing affection.  I am not the most demonstrative person.  Hugs and Kisses come naturally to my Italian husband and his family, but my German family is not quite so lovey-dovey!  That’s not to say we don’t love you!  We certainly do, but the way you’ll figure that out is by how much food I offer you.  Interestingly, my daughter recently posted on my Facebook, a delightful birthday wish, in which she mentions that I taught her the value of an always open door and hot food.  True, if you come over to my house, I will either offer you something I’ve just made, invite you to stay for dinner, or make you a cocktail with liquors I just bought and am dying to try out on someone.

Then the 4 Life part.   Food is so important to our good health.  The temptations to eat fast food are so great, but it’s so crucial to eat right and avoid them if you can.  Hopefully, this blog is where you can find quick and easy, tried and true, recipes that will help you drive right on past that Mickey D’s.

So visit with me often, let me feed you or offer you a beverage.  My specialty is a lovely Irish Coffee.   Do come over and try one.

 

 

 

What do I do next?

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A friend of mine recently mentioned to me, after seeing my Instagram posts, that I should start a blog about my adventures in food.   I laughed at that.  See, I know nothing about blogging or writing.  I’m not a college grad.  I’ve only been a mom for 20+ years and soon I will be empty nesting.  What on earth could I talk about?  I do know a few things about cooking.  I don’t mean from formal classes, but from day to day mistakes and successes.  I know about cooking on a budget and experimenting with new ingredients.  Now I need to learn about cooking for 2 and not for 5.

I’m passionate about making things from scratch when possible and I try to cook seasonally and locally.  I also am not afraid of new foods and will seek out fun combinations, then try to reproduce them at home.

Maybe you are the same.  Maybe you are like me and empty nesting, looking for something new to try, or maybe you have kids and you want them to learn to love new foods.  Whatever it is, come on along my food adventure.  Let’s make some mistakes and mess up our kitchen.

Let me feed you.

Messy Mulberries

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Mulberry trees are considered an “invasive” where I live.  It’s true, they really do pop up in inconvenient places, but honestly, how can a tree that produces food really be that problematic?  The berries by themselves are delicious, however, they cannot be saved.  They start to break down almost immediately, so what to with so many?  Why not make muffins?  I like to get my batter prepared first and then run out to the trees and grab as many as I can, then plop them into the batter and bake them.  This is such a nice summer treat, and very inexpensive!  Those of us paying for college educations can appreciate that!  Here’s the recipe I use.  It’s just a standard muffin recipe and can be used for any berry you have on hand.  My blueberry bushes are almost ready and I’ll use this same recipe for those!

Berry Muffins

  • 7 T. softened butter, unsalted
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 t. baking powder
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • As many mulberries as you can find!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar together.  Mix flours, salt, and baking powder together.  Add flour mixture by halves to butter mixture and add the milk and vanilla between flour additions.  Do not overbeat or you get tough muffins.  Stir in Mulberries.  Sprinkle tops with a cinnamon-sugar mix.  Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes.   Serve with honey, butter or jam!