Monday, May 26, 2014

Easy Vegan Birthday Treat

Easy Vegan Birthday Treat
A while back, we had a friend's Birthday celebration at our house, but making a cake from scratch just wasn't practical that day.

A good friend contributed two Amy's Cakes - one Orange and one Chocolate (Amy also makes a Gluten Free variety!) We've found that they're extra good if you toast the slices before serving.

She added some Macerated Strawberries (Fresh Strawberries sliced & sprinkled with sugar, and allowed to stand till their juices come out)

And, I topped it with Vegan Whipped Coconut Creme and (because we have a little kid) Rainbow Sprinkles.

I have to admit, Whipped Creme is one of the few Omnivore foods I miss - and this makes an Excellent substitute. 

Here's how to make Whipped Coconut Creme
(This recipe is all over the internet - it's not my original idea)

Whipped Coconut Creme
Refrigerate a Can of Coconut Milk overnight or longer (I just store mine in the fridge all the time so it's ready to go on impulse)

Carefully open can, being careful not to shake
Scoop the thickened "creme" off the top with a spoon, but leave the thin milk in the can (use it for a smoothie or discard it, as you wish)
Put the Coconut Creme in a deep bowl, and mix with an electric mixer - like one you would use for making cakes - either a hand mixer or a stand mixer- for several minutes till it forms soft peaks.
I find it takes about 5 minutes.
Dash of vanilla (about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon)
A Couple of Tablespoons of Sieved Powdered Sugar (to taste)
Blend briefly to blend flavours & serve
This may also be stored in the fridge till serving time if made in advance. (I'm not sure how long it keeps, I've never had enough left over to try ; )

Easy, delicious, festive! Being Vegan doesn't HAVE to be a lot of work! : )

Monday, May 19, 2014

Easiest Homemade Silver Polish

Before & After Silver Plate Grapefruit Spoons
I have been using these Grapefruit Spoons since earliest childhood. I always loved Grapefruit! Our Grandparents used to bring us a big case of the Ruby Red stuff from Texas every year.

But, after many years of use and abuse, these spoons looked worse for the wear. They were always "everyday" spoons - kept in the same silverware drawer with stainless, and they were only Silver Plate - not expensive Sterling. But, they did have happy memories for me.

When I inherited them from my Mom, they had not been used in a long time, and had tarnished pretty badly. I wanted to polish them, but I didn't want to buy a commercial cleaner (expensive & chemical filled!), nor did I want to use the well-known aluminum foil method that would remove all the shadows and patina. I also didn't want something harsh that would polish away the old and damaged silver plate, and leave only the base metal!

I did an internet search, and discovered the super simple solution on more than one site:

Make a paste of baking soda and water (about the texture of hand lotion), and polish with a soft cloth!

So easy, so cheap, so delicate! I could polish just enough to remove the tarnish, but not remove the shadows, patina, or - most importantly - the silver plate! My little girl could help without any concerns of her getting exposed to dangerous chemicals, or damaging the silver.

Try it, you'll like it! : )

Monday, May 12, 2014

Raw (ish) Maple Walnut Squares

Maple Walnut Squares
These Maple Walnut Squares are the perfect whole-foods way to satisfy that sweet tooth without ruining your health. When you want a sweet treat, reach for these!

They're wonderful for a packed lunch or for travel, as well as for enjoying at home.

They're so simple to make:

Maple Walnut Squares
Chop till very fine in food processor
1/2 cup Raw Walnuts
1/2 Cup Shredded or Flaked Coconut
1 1/2 Cups lightly packed Deglet Noor Dates* (I use an 8 oz bag from the grocery)
3/4 teaspoon Maple Extract
When the mixture is properly chopped, you'll be
able to pack it together - much like making snow balls
from the snow.

Fruits & Nuts chopped just right for a raw (ish) snack
Press down firmly into a small plastic, glass or metal food container (I use a plastic food container of about 4" by 6") . After firmly packed, cut into squares. If you prefer, you can form the mixture into bite sized balls.

These can be stored in the refrigerator, or for a few days at room temperature. They also freeze well if you so desire.

*I prefer Deglet Noor Dates to the very trendy Medjool for a recipe like this. Medjool dates are outstanding for snacking on alone, but when blended to form a square, bar, or ball, they tend to be too moist and form a pasty texture. Besides that, they're more expensive. The Deglet Noor- which is the normal American Supermarket Date - is much better for a recipe like this one. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Easiest Healthy Refried Beans

Easiest Healthy Refried Beans
This SO easy to make - and tastes SO much better than that stuff from a can! My little girl tried this, and exclaimed, "This is WONDERFUL!"

This dish has no added fats or oils (and certainly not the Lard found in some commercial varieties!), and you control the salt, spices & additives. Best of all, it's almost no work!  : )

Easiest Healthy Refried Beans
Cook on High in Slow Cooker till tender (roughly 3 1/2 hours**)
1 Pound Pinto Beans, Sorted & Rinsed*
6 Cups Water
1 Scant Tablespoon Salt (Of course, you may vary this to taste - this is the amount I find produces the best flavour)
When Beans finish Cooking, Drain & Reserve the Cooking Liquid.
Add to beans
1 Tablespoon Taco Seasoning  (or 1/2 packet storebought)
Blend seasoned Beans in a mixing bowl with an Electric Hand Mixer (like the kind you would use to make a cake), adding a little reserved cooking liquid at a time, till texture suits you.

*That's right - it's not an oversight - no soaking required on those beans! : )
**These beans are SUPPOSED to turn out mushy - SO - I have been known to leave them wayyy too long and still had them turn out well.

This recipe doubles well if you have a larger slow cooker.

Hand Mixer

It's that easy! You're done!

Use these as you would any other Refried Beans - in a dip for Corn Chips, to layer in a Taco, Tostada or Burrito - etc.

This is being shared at
In & Out of the Kitchen
Best Recipes of 2014: Side Dishes