Monday, June 29, 2015

Cool, Creamy, Maple Sunrise Breakfast Bowl

Easy, Cool & Creamy Maple Sunrise Breakfast Bowl
If you're tired of the same 'ole breakfast, and want something different, cool, creamy & summery -
loaded with nutrition & tasty - this is the breakfast for you!

This can be assembled as a Parfait- layered in a tall glass, or as a simple bowl, with all your ingredients piled on. Either way, you have a delightful flavor & texture contrast - cool and creamy with crunchy, sweet, sour & chewy. This is easy enough to grab as you run out the door on a busy morning, and fancy enough to serve at a brunch.

This is made to taste, simply toss in a little of this & a little of that.

Maple Sunrise Breakfast Bowl
Blend in food processor or blender until creamy
1 Package Silken Tofu
Stir in
Maple Flavoring or Extract (about a capful)
Apple Juice Concentrate to desired sweetness (usually about 1/2 cup)*
Layer above creamy mixture in bowl or glass with
Diced Apples
Raisins
Pecans or Walnuts

Serve immediately & enjoy! : )

*I like to make ahead and keep the blended, seasoned tofu mixture in the fridge, that way throwing together breakfast is as easy as dicing an apple & throwing in some nuts & raisins.




Monday, June 22, 2015

2 1/2 Minute Homeschool Lesson Planning

Our 2 1/2 Minute Homeschool Lesson Planner
A while back, my close friend at "Adventures with My Kids" posted about how she schedules her boys' days. She made more than one post on the topic, and her posts inspired me.

I've always been a "teach by the seat of your pants" sort of homeschool Mom. I've taken out a stack of books and taught a lesson from each one till we were done. It worked. And it was easy. But, it had a few flaws:

1) My daughter couldn't see how far she had come and how much she had to go. School seemed eternal till Mom (seemingly arbitrarily) said, "We're done. Say your end of day prayers and you can have privileges."

2) It was totally dependent on me. If I became sick, no one could fill in.

3) My daughter was not learning how to be self-disciplined, and how to teach herself and be motivated in her own learning. While she was young, that was okay, but it's getting to be time to develop that skill!

4) If I walked out of the room, school had to stop.

5) Sometimes I would forget to teach a certain topic or use a certain material for a while.

6) It was easy to finish a LOT of work, but still feel like we had done nothing!

I mulled it over. My friend's system, while perfect for her family of several kids, needed some tweaking for my family. At this point, I only wanted school subjects on my schedule, not all of our chores.  I also wanted to order the day by subject.

A side note: I have NO desire to plan a whole year's worth of lessons. To me, that just doesn't make sense in a homeschool setting. I don't need to mesh with other classes in other years (after all, I am next year's teacher, too!) but I DO need to be able to speed up or slow down our progress through material on a day-by-day basis, according to my daughter's comprehension on that day. An entire year's schedule would not produce the best results for my family. 

So, I mulled it over, and looked for a way to create a system that would work for us. I scoured the shelves of the thrift store till I found it. A jewelry organizer! (similar to this one)



I used 3X5 cards, cut in half. Colored ones for the subjects, then white ones for each assignment within the subject. I make a stack of assignment cards, so I remember which materials to rotate through. For instance, in Math, we have Ray's Arithmetic, Khan Academy, Xtra Math, ICT Games, IXL, a Workbook, various videos, etc. But, we don't do them all on the same day! I put the ones for the day across the math row, and the extras I tuck behind the colored "Math" card. On the back of the assignment card, the last assignment can be crossed out, and the next one written down at the conclusion of that assignment. Or often, a simple bookmark will do.

A close up of a few rows of our schedule


It takes two and a half minutes at the end of the school day to put away today's cards, and select the cards for the next day! (I actually timed it!)

Supplies for making new cards stash easily at the bottom of the organizer


So, now, we both have a clear idea at the beginning of the day of how much work we'll need to accomplish, what that work will be, and a feeling of accomplishment when it is done!

And, added bonus? On the flip side, this great organizer has my Monthly Menu that only took 10 minutes to plan! : )






Monday, June 15, 2015

Couscous Fattoush Salad

Couscous Fattoush Salad
I love the traditional flavors of Fattoush! The combination of fresh, summer vegetables with Mint, Sumac and Lemon is just unbeatable!

Fattoush is traditionally made with Bread, but I decided to merge the Fattoush flavors with a Couscous Salad - and it worked great.

Couscous was a huge food fad before Quinoa became such a hot trend - and I kinda miss it. It's SO easy to work with. You simply take 2 parts boiling water and 1 part Couscous, put them in a bowl and wait 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and you're good to go.  It's an INSTANT food that is still a traditional food - originally from Morocco - and quite wholesome : ) EVEN BETTER ? You really don't HAVE to boil the water - it still works with cold water! Just wait about 1/2 hour.

I used Whole Wheat Couscous in this dish, but the White stuff will work just as well - they can be used interchangeably, and the preparation is the same. If you do use the Whole Wheat stuff, make sure you smell it before preparing it. It goes rancid quite easily, and since it doesn't move quickly on store shelves, it is very easy to get a bad batch.

I don't measure for this recipe (except the Couscous & Boiling Water), I simply toss everything in a bowl - so all amounts are approximate.

Couscous Fattoush Salad
Combine in a large bowl, and leave for 5 minutes while you chop veggies (if you use cold water, simply do this step well in advance of serving time)
1 Cup Couscous
2 Cups Boiling Water
Chop Veggies:
1 Large Fresh Tomato
1/2 Large Chopped Cucumber
1 Chopped Scallion (optional)
1 Large Yellow or Orange Bell Pepper (yes, Red is okay here too - it just will not be as pretty!)
Fluff Couscous with a fork, and add the veggies.
Add
1/4 Cup Simply Greek Dressing (see below for substitute)*
1 teaspoon dry Ground Sumac
2 Tablespoons Dry Mint (of course - if you have fresh - use it! : )
Toss & Chill before serving.


* If you're fresh out of Simply Greek Dressing, add 3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice, 2 teaspoons Olive Oil, Generous Garlic Salt & Pepper to taste.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Toaster Waffles (Vegan, Whole Wheat, No Oil)

Toaster Waffles
I have to admit that I've always had a fondness for the "Toaster Waffles" from the grocery store. The taste - and especially the texture - combined with the ease of preparation just draw me in. The only problem? Well, I can eat a whole bag full and still not feel full - and on top of that, I know I've eaten a bunch of processed, refined, less than good-for-me food. And, they're overpriced to boot!

These are the perfect solution. Since these are made with Whole Wheat, they're healthy, and more filling than their commercial counterpart. I can make them when I have the time, cool them, and stack them in a freezer container between waxed paper sheets. Then, whenever I want a toaster waffle, I can pull one of these out and pop it in the toaster oven!

These are Whole Wheat, but since my stuffedveggies Pancake & Waffle mix uses Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, they're not at all heavy : )

Here's how it's done:

Toaster Waffles
Stir Together Dry Ingredients:
1 Cup stuffedveggies Pancake & Waffle Mix
2 Tablespoons Tapioca Starch (Cornstarch or Arrowroot Powder can substitute)
Stir in:
1 Cup Water (approximate, may take a tad more water or more mix to achieve Pancake & Waffle batter texture)

(These are a Non-Sweet Waffle - although there is a bit of sugar in the mix, it's not enough to make these as sweet as the commercial variety. My little girl likes them this way. If you prefer a sweeter taste, don't hesitate to add a bit of your favorite sweetener.)

Prepare according to directions on your Waffle Iron.

Just to be clear: Although I call these "Toaster Waffles," they're delicious fresh, too! Although I do find a more delightful crispy-edged texture after toasting : )

Here are a few tips that work with my Waffle Iron:
I brush the Iron with a little oil from a pastry brush before each waffle is made.
I use a 1/4 cup batter per waffle.
I spread the batter around in the form with the back of a spoon before I close the Iron.
I wait until the light has gone off AND the steaming has almost completely stopped before I open the Iron to remove the waffle.

*The Tapioca Starch helps provide a nice crispy edge to the waffle without the addition of oil to the recipe.

Freezer directions: These are VERY freezer friendly! I let them cool on a wire rack
, and put them in a plastic freezer container with a sheet of waxed paper between each one. When I want Waffles for breakfast, I simply remove the desired number from the box, and heat them in the Toaster Oven. They actually are better after toasting than they are fresh out of the Iron! 





Monday, June 1, 2015

Banana Bread Waffles

Banana Bread Waffles
Well - the name says it all! Banana Bread Waffles. Yummy, Banana-y, delightful.

These are healthy, whole wheat, Vegan, no oil. They're not as sweet as traditional Banana Bread. If that bothers you, you can toss in a little of any favorite sweetener that bakes well (if it is a liquid, like agave or honey, you might want to very slightly reduce the water). But, in our family, we like these just this way.

Banana Bread Waffles
Stir Together
1 Cup stuffedveggies Pancake & Waffle Mix
1 Tablespoon Tapioca Starch*
Then Stir in:
1 Mashed Ripe Banana (1/2 cup mashed Banana)
1 Cup Water

Prepare according to the directions for your waffle maker.

Here are a few tips that work with my Waffle Iron:
I brush the Iron with a little oil from a pastry brush before each waffle is made. A non-stick spray should also work.
I use a 1/4 cup batter per waffle.
I spread the batter around in the form with the back of a spoon before I close the Iron.
I wait until the light has gone off AND the steaming has almost completely stopped before I open the Iron to remove the waffle.


*The Tapioca Starch helps provide a nice crispy edge to the waffle without the addition of oil to the recipe. It can be omitted or cornstarch may be substituted, if you cannot find Tapioca Starch.

Freezer directions: These are VERY freezer friendly! I let them cool on a wire rack, and put them in a plastic freezer container with a sheet of waxed paper between each one. When I want Waffles for breakfast, I simply remove the desired number from the box, and heat them in the Toaster Oven. They actually are better after toasting than they are fresh out of the Iron!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Easy No Knead, Vegan Crescent Rolls

Easy No Knead, Vegan Crescent Rolls
I love Crescent Rolls, but don't want the hassle of making them the old fashioned way. I also don't like the guilt of feeding my family food that comes out of a just-pop-to-bake can that probably has a lot of chemicals in it, and really doesn't taste homemade. And, I like my baking to be Vegan.

This recipe is the answer to my dilemma - super easy to make, and super tasty - and Vegan! : ) They're tender, moist, and pull apart in layers.

I always make bread by the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day method  (and, I think EVERYONE should own their book!). But, they didn't have a Vegan Brioche-type dough, so I created my own recipe using their method : )

The use of Tapioca Starch, Potato, and Sugar tenderizes & moisturizes the dough, and make a moist, tender, fluffy loaf without the use of oil or eggs. 


It is SOOO easy to make - and produces such spectacular results! This recipe produces about 3 dozen Crescent Rolls (if you'd like a smaller batch, scroll down)

This is the same dough I will be using for several other breads on this site, so you can make a big batch and use half for, say Challah, and the other half for Crescent Rolls, if you like (other recipes still to come in future months! : )

Easy, No Knead, Vegan Crescent Roll Dough **** (Scroll Down for Smaller Batch)
This recipe makes about 3 dozen rolls, or 18 rolls & 1 large Challah.
Measure into a 6 quart container*, in this order
3 Cups Warm Water (baby bath water temperature. If in doubt, make it too cool rather than too warm)
5 1/4 Cups Unbleached, All Purpose Flour
1/4 Cup Tapioca Starch
1 Cup Potato Flakes (yes, that's right, the stuff people use to make Instant Mashed Potatoes)
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon Yeast
1 Tablespoon Salt
Stir well with a spoon till no patches of dry Flour remain.

The dough should look like this right after you stir it.

Cover loosely with lid (don't fasten so securely that it cannot "breathe")
Leave it on the counter for 2 to 5 hours.
Now, put it in the fridge till you're ready to use it **

The dough should look like this after it has sat out on the counter for 2 to 5 hours.


Note - do not "Punch Down" this kind of dough. 

When you're ready to bake the bread, remove it from the refrigerator and dust it VERY WELL with Flour. This is a moist, sticky dough, so don't be afraid to use lots of Flour!

Oil your pan (I use a Perforated, Non-stick Pizza Pan, like this one for baking)

Take one pound of dough (1/4 of the large batch or 1/2 of the small batch) and roll out in a rectangle that is approximately 8"x12".

Roll Dough out into Rectangle.


Cut in long, thin triangles. A pizza cutter works great for this job, or just a large Chef's knife that you can press down and cut the dough without pulling.

Cut Dough in long, thin triangles.


Roll each triangle up and place it on the pan.

Roll up triangles.


Leave to rise for 30 to 60 minutes (the last time I made these, I only let them rise about 15 minutes - they were still great : )

Allow Rolls to rise for 30-60 minutes before baking.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake in the middle of the oven, without steam for 35-40 minutes.

Upon removing from the oven, you may brush with a buttery spread, if you desire. 

For best results, cool before serving.

Easy, No Knead Vegan Crescent Rolls


Small Batch Easy, No Knead Vegan Crescent Rolls
 (Makes about 18 rolls)
Follow above directions, but use these amounts
I prepare a batch this size in an 8 Cup Container - the one in the above pictures.
Be sure to add in this order:

1 1/2 Cups Warm Water
2 1/2 Cups + 2 Tablespoons Unbleached, All Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Tapioca Starch
1/2 Cup Potato Flakes
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 Tablespoon Yeast
1/2 Tablespoon Salt

Stir well, then follow above directions - the same as for a large batch.

* For my 6 Quart Container, I use a new plastic shoe box from the Dollar Store.
** This dough CAN be used the day it is made - but it is a tad easier to shape after it is refrigerated. It is lightest and fluffiest when used within a day or two of when you make it, but I have used it several days later  - a week or more - and still had very good results.
*** If you bake two large pans of rolls at the same time, put one loaf on the middle rack, and one on the bottom rack. Then, set a timer to switch their positions half-way through baking, so that they brown evenly both on the top and on the bottom.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

3 Minute Asian Peanut Sauce & 3 FAST Meals ( Vegan, with Omnivore & Gluten Free Options)

3 Minute Peanut Sauce & 3 FAST Meals!
Asian Peanut Sauce is delicious - and SOOO easy to make - and SO much cheaper than the store bought bottles.

You can whip it up in three minutes flat with ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen. And, I made this recipe versatile - so that you're less likely to have to go out to the store to buy a special ingredient. You can mix & match what you have to make it work : )

Best of all, this sauce can be used to make a salad and three meals & that are nearly instant. Just use Pre-chopped veggies from the Produce Section or Supermarket Salad Bar, or even leftover salad veggies from the fridge, and a base starch like Pasta, Rice or Tortilla. (Many Grocery stores actually sell pre-cooked, frozen rice in the freezer section if that is your preference) These are the perfect meals for busy nights - whether you're a college student, a Parent with an evening meeting, or just someone who just doesn't like to cook.

Heat (whether Sriracha or other Hot Sauce) is completely optional - you can just use the Garlic & omit heat if that is your family's preference.

If you wish these recipes to be Gluten Free, it is easy to do. Check ingredients like Soy Sauce (Kikkoman now makes a "Blue Label" Gluten Free Variety), Vinegar, Tortillas & Pasta and make sure they're Gluten Free, and you're good to go! 

If you keep cooked leftover Pasta or Rice in your freezer, this meal is already almost done!
3 Minute Peanut Sauce & 3 FAST Meals!

3 Minute Asian Peanut Sauce for One (scroll down for bigger batch)
2 Tablespoons Peanut Butter *
2 teaspoons Lime Juice (or Lemon Juice, OR Rice Vinegar**)
2 teaspoons Soy Sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons Sugar (to YOUR taste - add 1 tsp & taste before adding more)
Sriracha to taste (I use about 1/4 teaspoon) (OR 1/4 tsp Garlic, and an optional dash of your favorite hot sauce)
Water to desired consistency - about 1 - 2 Tablespoons
Gradually add liquids to Peanut Butter, stirring constantly till smooth.
 - If you like, you can add a pinch of Basil or Mint for a more complex flavor
This can be made with a fork and a small bowl,
or you can make a larger batch in a food processor if you really hate to stir : )




OR A Big Batch
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter *
2 1/2 Scant Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 1/2 Scant Tablespoon Lime Juice or Lemon Juice or 2 Tablespoons Vinegar **
4 teaspoons Sugar (more to taste)
Sriracha Sauce, or 1 teaspoon Garlic with a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce.

3 Minute Asian Peanut Sauce

OR Customize Your Own Batch of Asian Peanut Sauce
Use
3 Parts Peanut Butter*
1 Part Lime Juice (or Lemon Juice, or 3/4 Part Vinegar**)
1 Part Soy Sauce
1/2 Part Sugar
Sriracha to taste (or Garlic & Optional Hot Sauce)
Water as needed



* I use Krema Smooth Natural Peanut Butter, but any kind will work. If you use a commercial brand like Jif or Skippy that is pre-sweetened & has added fat, you may find that you prefer to decrease the sugar ever so slightly, and increase the Soy Sauce & Citrus Juice just a tad to compensate, but if you make it just as the recipe is written, it will still be very nice - I tested it : )

**If you prefer to use a stronger vinegar - such as White or Apple Cider Vinegar, you may want to just use a little less, 1/2 to 3/4 the amount the recipe calls for

Asian Peanut Noodles
Toss above sauce with prepared Spaghetti or other noodles (cold, hot, or leftover - your choice) & Fresh veggies from the list below. Devour

FAST Asian Peanut Noodles!



Asian Peanut Rice Bowl
Fill a bowl half way with rice (leftover or fresh -your choice) and top with  Veggies of your choice from the list below. Make sure there's a little something crunchy like shredded cabbage or carrots. Top with Peanut Sauce. Devour.

FAST Asian Peanut Rice Bowl!


Asian Peanut Wrap
Fill a Tortilla with some Rice & Crunchy veggies. If you like, you can add cubed, sauteed or marinated tofu. Top with Peanut Sauce. Wrap up & Devour.

FAST Asian Peanut Wrap!


Asian Peanut Slaw
If you want a Super-Quick Slaw, just toss this sauce with a couple of handfuls of Bagged Coleslaw Mix from the Grocery.


American Supermarket Veggies that go well with Peanut Sauce:
You can chop these yourself, or get them from the supermarket salad bar or Produce Section.
Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, Celery, Cucumbers, Snow Peas, Shredded Cabbage, Broccoli, Bagged Coleslaw Mix, Fresh "Stir Fry Vegetables." You can also choose to add cooked veggies such as corn, peas, or crisp-tender Broccoli or Bok Choy.

Tip for Dining with Omnivores:
If you have an Omnivore at your table, Cubed Chicken would make a welcome addition to any of these meals.

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