Monday, July 27, 2015

Methods for Adding Mileage to your Freezer Cooking Plan


There are a few special types of recipes that really add a lot of mileage to your freezer cooking plan - they can be prepared in minutes, but save a lot of time later. Try using just one or two of these ideas next time you freezer-cook, and watch the return on your investment of time multiply!


Seasoning packets 


Mixes like homemade Taco Seasoning can help you create a meal in minutes later.


Once you have the seasoning made, you're ready to make any of these quick dishes:
Black Bean Enchiladas
Chili Cornbread Casserole
Chili-Topped Potatoes
Fill Your Own Tortilla Night
Guacamole, Super Simple 
Refried Beans, Easiest Healthy
Veggie Fajitas
Southwest Black Bean Burgers
Mexican Haystacks
Black Bean & Corn Salad

Pantry Mixes


Homemade Corn Bread Mix, Muffin Mix, Pancake Mix, Cake & Cookie Mix and French Breakfast Mix can be prepared quickly (perhaps while waiting for another dish to simmer) and make for a quick meal or snack later.

For complete variations on each of these ideas, check out the Make Your Own Vegan Mixes tab 









Burgers 


These can be mixed up & formed in patties, but require no cooking until the day they're eaten (though they can be cooked ahead for microwaving on the day they're eaten, if you prefer)

Burgers & Fries Vegan Style

Vegan Sausage Patties

Southwest Black Bean Burgers   








Sauces


Some sauces can be prepared on cooking day, and then make dish preparation almost instant.

Yachni Sauce
Make Sauce Tonight, Have Easy Meals for a Week


Bread Dough


Having a dough on hand like this one can take 10 minutes of hands-on time, and allow you to have four nights of fresh, homemade bread over the course of a week or two.

Your simple double


If you're going to all the work to make a dish, doubling it means you can eat it twice for the same amount of work. If your family likes a dish a lot, and if you have the freezer space, this is a great way to go.

Cooking Ingredients for later use


Some ingredients take a long time to cook, but can be combined into a dish later quite quickly. For Vegans, cooking Beans, Grains, Lentils & even Pasta or Rice in advance for the freezer can prepare you for a lot of instant meals. This is especially helpful if you cook for one, and can freeze these ingredients in single portions. Many Omnivore cooking plans are centered around roasted meat for this reason.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Zucchini Bread Waffles

Zucchini Bread Waffles
If you love Zucchini Bread, and you love Waffles - this is the perfect Waffle for you! It is made from your own mix, so it comes together quite quickly : )

Zucchini Bread Waffles
Stir Together in mixing bowl
1 cup Shredded Zucchini (approx. 1 small)
2 Cups Stuffedveggies Pancake & Waffle Mix (see below)
2 Tablespoons Tapioca Starch*
4 Tablespoons Sugar (more or less to taste)
2 Tablespoons Orange Juice Concentrate
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 1/2 Cups Water (more or less as needed for proper batter consistency)

Prepare according to Waffle Iron Instructions

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! 


Mix in a labeled container. This recipe may be doubled if you have a larger family, or like to have pancakes often.

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (also known as Graham flour) OR White Whole Wheat Flour*
1-3 tablespoons sugar (white, or raw/turbinado sugar)
1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder, tapioca starch, or cornstarch (acts as vegan egg-substitute for dry mixes)
1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

*Note Edited in December 2014: For a long time, I only made this with Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, but then recently I couldn't get to my favorite specialty shop, and was forced to try subbing the White Whole Wheat Flour. To my delight, it worked as well or better than the Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. This is great because White Whole Wheat - while still 100% whole grain, is easier to find and cheaper! : )

For LOTS more recipes from this mix, check out my Make Your Own Mix Tab





Monday, July 13, 2015

Zucchini Mini Muffins (Whole Wheat, Oil Free, Vegan)

Zucchini Mini Muffins
Zucchini Mini Muffins are a real delight. And, when you have your own mix, they're SO easy to make! Even better, these are much healthier than many other Zucchini Muffins, since they have no animal products, no oil and they're whole wheat (but not heavy)! This is my own recipe, inspired by the Make a Mix Cookbook.

Zucchini Mini Muffins
Preheat oven to 400 Degrees Fahrenheit
Stir together, till most lumps are gone, but a few remain

1 Cup stuffedveggies Muffin Mix
1/2 Cup Shredded Zucchini
1/2 Tablespoon Orange Juice Concentrate
I label my mix canister with the recipe for easy refills
1/2 Cup Water
Small Handful chopped Walnuts (optional, but tasty!)

Fill prepared Mini Muffin Pan. Sprinkle with Cinnamon Sugar (optional).
Bake until done, approximately 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy!

(For Regular Sized Muffins, Double the Batch and bake at the same temperature for approximately
10 additional minutes)


Versatile Vegan Mini Muffin Mix

Just fill with mix ingredients & shake.
Mix together

8 cups whole wheat pastry flour *
2 cups turbinado sugar or other sugar of your choice
4 Tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons Salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 Tablespoons Tapioca Starch or Arrowroot Powder (Cornstarch may be used as an emergency substitute)

After all the ingredients are in your chosen container close securely and shake well to evenly distribute contents.

Store in pantry in cooler house temperatures, or if mix will be used in a month or less. For longer storage, or in very warm weather, store in fridge or freezer.

* The King Arthur website says Whole Wheat Pastry Flour & Graham Flour are the same thing. It's a lower-protein whole wheat flour, that produces a lighter, more tender product than traditional whole wheat flour.




Monday, July 6, 2015

Delightful Vegan Brownies

Perfect Vegan Brownies
Brownies are, perhaps, my biggest weakness when it comes to desserts. For years, I've been looking for a Vegan recipe that would really satisfy. I thought I wanted one that tasted exactly like the boxed mix my Mom made when I was a kid. Then, I serendipitously created this one, and discovered that it is WAY better than what I thought I wanted!


These are an easy to make, one bowl sort of brownie, they're fudgy, but still tender and somewhat cakey - but not TOO cakey. They're much lower fat than nearly every brownie out there, and they have no animal products. They're adapted from this one, but they turn out quite differently. They're the PERFECT thing to pair with Ice Cream - whether the Vegan or Dairy variety. 

Perfect Vegan Brownies
Oil a 8 x 8 square pan, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stir together in a mixing bowl
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Applesauce
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 Tablespoons Oil (I use Sunflower)

Then add & Stir
1/3 Cup Cocoa (Sieved to remove any small lumps)
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Stuffedveggies Cookie & Cake Mix (see below if you don't want to click)
1/2 Cup Vegan Chocolate Chips (many national brands are vegan - just check the ingredients)

Pour into prepared pan. Bake 30 Minutes. Cool (at least enough that you don't burn yourself!)
 & enjoy! If you like your brownies with Ice Cream (Vegan or otherwise) this one will work well in that capacity.

Stuffedveggies Cookie & Cake Mix
Shake together in large Canister or Zippered Gallon Bag:
9 Cups All Purpose Flour*
4 Cups Sugar*
2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt

This mix also makes:
       Vegan Brownie Snowball Cookies
       Cashew Cardamom Cookies
       Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
       Vegan Gingerbread Crunch Cookies
       The PB&J
       Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies
       Pineapple Upside Down Cake
       Vegan Russian Teacakes ( Vegan Mexican Wedding Cakes )
       Vegan Slice and Bake Sugar Cookies
       Snickerdoodles
       Strawberry Celebration Cupcakes
       Vegan Thumbprint Cookies
       12 Children's Vegan Mixes for Toy Ovens
       Make One Mix, Make Ten Different Cookies 

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.


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