Vegan Sugar Cookies with Icing

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Some vegans don’t eat cookies too often, unless they bake them at home. They are hard to find in the stores and always a bit pricey. If you can find any, they will usually be peanut butter or chocolate chip, but very rarely a sugar cookie and a great tasting one at that. In fact my daughter prefers these over the non-vegan ones!

I made this batch of cookies for the First Annual Veg-Fest in Sonoma County last month. Since these needed to look pristine, I ended up with some rejects left at home. My friend was visiting a few days after the event and ate the rest of my cookies, he claimed they were so good he couldn’t stop eating them. Today he asked for the recipe because he just needed to make some vegan cookies and he thinks I can go into business with these and sell them to places like Whole Foods or other vegetarian friendly places.

I hate to even call these a “Sugar Cookie”. Most sugar cookies are hard, chalky and dry. What makes these so different than a traditional sugar cookie, is the flax-seed meal and the cream cheese. Those two items give this cookie a much better texture and flavor than the old fashioned ones. To change it up once in a while, you could add some lemon or orange zest to the cookie dough and icing for a different taste.

These cookies are just as easy to make as any other cookie, with the added fun of cutting out different shapes and decorating them.  If you are not an artist, then no worries, you can just spread the icing over the tops then devour. If you are more artistically inclined, then you can pull out all the stops and really make some fun and gorgeous cookies!

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* VEGAN * ROLLED *SUGAR *COOKIES *

Ingredients for cookies:

  • 1 Cup Golden Flaxseed Meal
  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Vegan Margarine – such as Nucoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1.5 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer
  • 2 tbls water
  • 1/2 container of Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
  • 1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract (or Lemon or Orange zest/extract)

Directions:

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  This should take about 3 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, combine together the dry ingredients and set aside.
  • Prepare the egg replacer  by mixing replacer with warm water and whisk until frothy
  • Add egg replacer, vanilla and almond extracts to mixer and beat another minute or so.
  • Add the flour mixture slowly, mixing after each cup is added.  (Be careful not to add too much at a time.
  • Blend until all of the flour is incorporated and the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  • Take the dough out of the bowl and place it on a piece of parchment paper.
  • Place the dough in a large plastic (zip-lock type) bag or Tupperware bowl with a lid and refrigerate for about 2 hours or overnight.

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  •  Take about half the dough at a time and roll it out until about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick.
  • Carefully stamp each cookie cutter until that piece is full. (If cookie cutter starts to  stick, dip the edges in flour.)
  • Prep an area to roll out the dough. I use a roll out mat, and a little flour. If you don’t have height guides for your rolling pin, you can use two wooden spoons of the same height as guides as shown above.15 min before you remove the dough from the refrigerator, preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
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  • Pick up the scraps and re- roll the dough, continue to stamp cookies until full, then repeat.
  • Place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet (you can use parchment paper or a silicone mat on top of the sheet if you prefer) and place in the freezer for about 5 -10 minutes. This assures that the cookies stay very cold and will help prevent spreading.
  • Take the other half of the dough and repeat the process until all cookies have been stamped.
  • If you don’t have enough cookies sheets you should leave the unrolled dough in the fridge until your first batches are completed.
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    PRO TIP: Place similar sized cookies on the same cookies sheet. That way all the cookies will cook evenly and you won’t have some cookies under-baked and others to crispy.

  • Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the cookie.  Bake until they are just barely beginning to take on a golden tone.  They will continue to bake as long as then are on the pan, so don’t let then get too brown.
  • Cool for just a minute or so on the pan, then carefully remove cookies from the baking sheet and place on a cooling rack.

This recipe yields about 28, 2 1/2 inch cookies or 16, 3 1/2 inch cookies.

Once cooled, the cookies can be decorated with frosting, royal icing or rolled fondant.



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* VEGAN * ROYAL * ICING * RECIPE*

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (organic) powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp of non-dairy milk
  • 2 tsp of light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract (or Lemon or Orange zest/extract)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

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See my Sugar Cookie Extravaganza Post for all the details and tools used to decorate cookies. COOKIE DECORATING TOOLS NEEDED

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Directions:

  • Using Kitchen-aide mixer, add sugar, non-dairy milk and whisk until smooth.
  • Add in extracts and corn syrup.  Whisk  until icing is smooth, shiny, and a little runny.
  • Pour in all the icing sugar at once and place the bowl on the mixer.
  • You will want this to be thicker at first so you can use this for your borders. So add more powdered sugar until icing is thick enough to hold its shape. (You will add water as needed later for the flood fill.)
  • In the icing bottles, place some of the white frosting in each one. Tint with food coloring or thin the icing with small amounts of warm water to reach the desired consistency. For the borders, you want it to be stiff and thicker, but still able to squeeze out.
  • Once your desired colors are mixed, then fill each bottle, or parchment bag.

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DECORATING : See my Sugar Cookie Extravaganza Post for links, ideas and more how-to’s.

  • While the borders are drying, use the same bowls as before to mix your thinner flood fill icing. This needs to be thin enough to “set” itself in about 10 seconds. Add only a few drops of water at a time. If it’s too runny, then you will had to add more powdered sugar and mix again.
  • Fill squeeze bottles with flood will icing. Use a toothpick or bamboo skewer stick to help move the flood colors to cover the surface area and reach into the corners.
  • Once your borders are set and dry you can begin filling in all your designs and colors. The possibilities are endless, so watch the videos for inspiration.
  • In-between uses, cover the bowl of plain white icing with a dampened tea-towel to prevent crusting and drying. You can also cover each bottle with a tip or damp cloth to prevent them from getting hard or clogged.

It took a little time to get used to the vegan royal icing.  It’s not bright white like the traditional recipe is, but its a lovely off-white color that still takes gel coloring well. I was able to paint on the dried icing  as well as add edible glitter, and fondant flowers. By the time I decorated a few cookies, I was used to it.  The cookie at the bottom right corner of the photo below is bright white, because I rolled out white fondant and used the same cookie cutter to cut a square shape, iced cookie with the flood fill icing, then stuck on the fondant. The icing acts like glue and worked great. Fondant will give you a smoother canvas to work on, as well as giving it the pure white color. Some people love the taste of it and some hate it, I personally prefer the icing flavor over the fondant, but its great to use as an accent such as the flowers.

 

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** H A P P Y * B A K I N G **

How to Bake the PERFECT Chocolate Chip Cookie

Originally Posted on http://www.ozy.com

I have often wondered myself how people get that PERFECT chocolate chip cookie. I like them a little chewy, soft center, with a crisp edge. Looks like the cookie marked BOTH is the one for me! My daughter on the other hand loves the kind marked MORE FLOUR.  Now I will be able to fine tune my cookies to fit exactly what I am craving. Now if I only had some chocolate chips  ….

 

You like soft and chewy. He likes thin and crispy. If only there were a chocolate chip cookie recipe that pleased everyone…

There is! And, no, it’s not Martha Stewart’s. It’s science.

We’ve taken our cues from a few spots: a bioengineering grad student named Kendra Nyberg, who co-taught a class at UCLA called Science and Food, and chef and cookbook author Tessa Arias, who writes about cookie science on her site, Handle the Heat.

There’s also an illuminating Ted Talk animation on cookie science. And if you really want to go nuts (or no nuts, your call), Serious Eats offers 21 painstakingly tested steps for the Perfect Cookie, including kneading times and chocolate prep techniques.

“Even though I can describe what I like,” says Nyberg, “I didn’t know the role of each ingredient in the texture and shape of cookies.” So she looked into it — as only a scientist can.

(MORE: His Grandfather Invented Doritos But Tim West Prefers Kale)

Here, relying on the experts’ help and based on the classic Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, OZY presents no-fail tips for baking your perfect cookie. (You’re welcome.)

Ooey-gooey: Add 2 cups more flour.

A nice tan: Set the oven higher than 350 degrees (maybe 360). Caramelization, which gives cookies their nice brown tops, occurs above 356 degrees, says the Ted video.

Crispy with a soft center: Use 1/4 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.

Chewy: Substitute bread flour for all-purpose flour.

(MORE: Food Waste – There’s (Finally) An App For That)

Just like store-bought: Trade the butter for shortening. Arias notes that this ups the texture but reduces some flavor; her suggestion is to use half butter and half shortening.

Thick (and less crispy): Freeze the batter for 30 to 60 minutes before baking. This solidifies the butter, which will spread less while baking.

Cakey: Use more baking soda because, according to Nyberg, it “releases carbon dioxide when heated, which makes cookies puff up.”

Butterscotch flavored: Use 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (instead of the same amount of combined granulated sugar and light brown sugar).

Uniformity: If looks count, add one ounce corn syrup and one ounce granulated sugar.

More. Just, more: Chilling the dough for at least 24 hours before baking deepens all the flavors, Arias found.


 

 Check out more about the PERFECT COOKIE on this BLOG:   H A N D L E **  THE ** H E A T

 

 

 

 

Mustardy Maple Pecan Brussels Sprouts

Today’s blog is short and sweet. We have so much going on with the end of school next week, it’s kind of insane. I am planing the end of school party for my daughters class, making a movie (iMovie) from their awesome “Age of Sail” overnight historical field trip we went on earlier this year, and trying to prepare for summer break by planning activities, our first ever Mother-Daughter Road Trip, went out of town for 2 Dance Competitions in a month, and keeping up with housework, cooking, major cleaning projects and normal life. I am not sure how I would have done all this when I worked a full time (commuting) job. Perhaps I just missed out on all this stuff when I was stuck in traffic or at work late to close the month or meet a deadline.  Somedays I think I work harder now than when I was in the office 45-55 hours a week.

So with all of this hectic energy swirling about me like a mini tornado, I wanted to share something so easy, that is so simple, yet mind blowing amazing and all you have to do is throw all the ingredients into a slow cooker, give it a good stir, then and press “on” and spend the next three hours doing whatever it is you are behind schedule for. (Or take a break and watch that TV episode you have been wanting to catch up on, or give yourself a manicure, or take a relaxing bubble bath!)

These are such a nice change from the butter, bacon and deep fried brussles that have been all the rage over the last few years. Slightly sweet and savory, I guarantee that even non brussels sprout loving kids, will at least entertain the idea of eating one or two of these.


 

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::: Mustardy Maple Pecan Brussels Sprouts :::

Ingredients

  • 1 stalk fresh Brussels sprouts (about 2-3 cups) or one bag of pre-washed whole
  • 2 Tbls Dijon or yellow mustard
  • 2 Tbls butter (vegans can use olive oil)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbls pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tbls lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. If you are using fresh brussels sprouts, trim from stalk and remove any outer layers that don’t look good.
  2. I prefer to cut my brussels sprouts in half or quarters depending on how large they are. If you have walnut sized ones, halved is perfect. If you have larger ones, then quarter them. This helps all that yummy sauce get deep into the leaves.
  3. Add all ingredients except the nutmeg to your crock.
  4. Stir well and make sure the sprouts are covered.
  5. Cook on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours until al dente.
  6. Adjust salt and pepper and add nutmeg.

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Be a Tourist in Your Hometown – Part 1 West Sonoma County

:::  BE A LOCAL TOURIST :::

I bet many of you are probably a lot like me. You have lived in your city for years, but rarely go out and explore your domain. When you do go somewhere for a day-trip, it’s usually to San Francisco or the East Bay, or maybe a jaunt out to the coast. I mean who doesn’t love Bodega Bay or Pier 39, right?  We tend to go to places that we have been before, locations that are easy to find.

I challenge you to take at least one day this spring or summer and try out something new. Go be a tourist in your county. Get off the beaten path and go explore. Take a road you have never driven before or have no idea where it will lead to. (No cheating using GPS or Googlemaps.) If you are an obsessive planner, like me, you might want to choose your direction first, then search the net for at least one or two new places to stop at. Then let the rest of the day’s activities just happen.

I know what questions are roaming around in your head right now: “I am not spontaneous”, “I like to have a plan” or “What if sucks and it’s a huge waste of time?”. Or you might be saying:  “What if the food is disgusting?” or “I am awful with directions, what if I get lost?”  Well, the answer is quite simple: TAKE A CHANCE – DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT – HAVE AN ADVENTURE !  Seriously when was the last time you just got in your car, picked a direction and then went off to explore? No timelines, no GPS, just drive and see what happens? I guarantee even if the places you go are terrible, the adventure will become a fond memory.

If you are seriously nervous about this concept, then you can do a little research before heading out. But to save you time, I have already done some research for you. I will be posting separate blog entries by region with a list of my top must-stop locations. All you have to do is pick at least one of them, then jump in the car, and go enjoy. So what are you waiting for?

I find it best to take a friend with you. You will want someone to experience this with; to share in the triumphs and the defeats; to laugh when you get lost, and to be there to push the car if you run out of gas. A group of 2-4 people is perfect. I prefer a smaller group. Sometimes the more people you have the more opinions you get and the more stress you can have. This is meant to be fun. As adults we think we can’t have fun anymore, and boy we could not be more wrong. [ Note: taking silly photos of you along the way makes the trip even more fun!]

In 2014 so far I have been exploring the towns of Sebastopol, Bodega, Sonoma, and some locations in Napa County. I have mainly gone out on weekdays with one or two friends at a time.  If  you can take a day off work I highly recommend this. For one, there are less crowds and you tend to meet more locals that are really friendly. I tend to get more tastes at wineries because they are slower, and I have often received complimentary snacks as well. The pourers are chattier and I have met several wine makers and got to talk to them about their products. I was lucky enough to get a photo with a winemaker, have him sign the bottle, and got to experience the bottle of wine he personally bottled only 6 hours earlier that same day. You won’t usually get these opportunities on the weekends.  If there is a special place you really are dying to try, make that your focal point, then see if you can find some surprises along the way.



WEST SONOMA COUNTY – Sebastopol, Forestville, Bodega Bay



::: Wild Flour Bread :::

::: Hours: 8:30am to 6:30pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday
::: Location: 140 Bohemian Hwy, Freestone, CA 95472

Wild Flour

The glorious selection of fresh bread

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Yummy samples to try

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Myself in the garden

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Audrey & Melody in the garden

 

What’s Awesome about them: If you are heading out to the coast or just happen to be in Sebastopol, you should stop in here at Wild Flour for some truly remarkable crusty bread. All their bread is baked in a wood fired brick oven, that has pretty much stayed lit for the last 10 years. They offer free samples of lots of breads, you can eat in the beautiful garden where they grow vegetables, herbs and flowers.  They have many vegan items including scones, and they  have coffee, tea and other beverages, Be sure to check out all the beautiful murals inside.

Best Bets:  The (ginormous) Sticky Bun, Fougasse, Goat Flat and the scones {Please note they only take cash or checks.}


::: Enduring Comforts :::

::: Hours: not 100% sure – but seem to be open when Wild Flour is
:::  Location: 142 Bohemian Hwy, Freestone, CA 95472

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{From L to R: Audrey finds the hats : Melody admiring the wares : My friend Dusty looking dapper in a top hat}

What’s Awesome about them: Enduring Comforts is located right next to the Wild Flour Bread. They have a unique selection of new items and antiques. Its fun to stroll over and try on hats and scarves and then browse through the store checking out some of the more interesting antiques. Prices are reasonable, but I am not sure of the days they are open. I did go once when Wild Flour was closed on and they were also closed.

Best Bets:  Fabulous bar soaps, fun hats, jewelry, silly photos

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{Photos above: Some of the antiques and unique items in Enduring Comforts}


::: Patrick’s Salt Water Taffy :::

::: Hours: Mon-Thurs 10AM-6PM / Fri-Sun 10AM-7PM 
:::  Location: 915 Hwy 1 Bodega Bay, CA 94923

Patricks Salt Water Taffy

Best taffy on the whole West Coast!

What’s Awesome about them: If you are out at the Bodega coast, you just have to stop here at Patrick’s (look for the pink and white stripes). They seriously have the BEST salt water taffy I have ever devoured. And so you don’t wind up with a bag full of a flavor you hate, just ask for a (free) sample. Their prices are very reasonable. A small bag runs about $1.50, while larger bags are about $3.25. All taffy is sold in pre-portioned bags, some are one flavor per bag, but they also have great mixed bags as well. They have other candy for sale if you are one of the few people who do not like taffy and they do accept credit cards. There’s also a neat little eclectic shop next to them in the same parking lot. They carry a lot of nautical treasures, including mermaids, anchors, picture frames, pj’s, sweatshirts,  etc.

Best Bets: Chocolate mix, birthday cake, caramel swirl and rum


::: Red’s Apple Roadhouse :::

::: Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.
::: Location: 4550 Gravenstein Hwy. N (next to Mom’s Apple Pie) Sebastopol, CA

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{From L to R: Dusty at the entrance : Checking out the awesome menu }

What’s Awesome about them: If you are heading out Sonoma County’s west side (towards Forestville), Red’s Apple Roadhouse is a tasty stop to grab some of the best homestyle comfort farm-to-table food out there.  They also recently added a small tap room, so you can grab a local beer (or wine) with your meal. Some nights they have live music and they have seating inside and some outside on thier deck. I heard their Apple Cider doughnuts are to die for, but I have yet to order them.

Best Bets for Breakfast:  (Juicy & flavorful) Chicken & Waffles, Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
Best Bets for Lunch:  Pulled Turkey Sandwich, Pastrami Burger, don’t forget the onion rings!
Best Bets for Dinner:  (Juicy & flavorful) Fried Chicken Southern Dinner, Red’s Hot Brown


::: Kozlowski Farms :::

::: Hours: 9 am – 5 pm 7 Days a Week Closed:New Years, Easter, Thanksgiving & Christmas  
:::  Location: 5566 Gravenstein Hwy N (Hwy 116) Forestville, CA 95436

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{From L to R: Dusty at the entrance : Audrey with a trio of mustards to sample}

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{From L to R: Selection of wares : It’s the best chocolate sauce – TRY IT OR ELSE :  Delectable Pies }

What’s Awesome about them: If you are heading out Sonoma County’s west side (towards Forestville), past Red’s Apple Roadhouse, be sure to stop at Kozlowski Farms Visitor Center to try all sorts of jams, jellies and sauces!  They have a larger variety of flavors than you can find in the grocery store. You can pick up a few jars or make a custom gourmet gift basket with all sorts of goodies. They also have amazing PIES (better than Mom’s Apple Pies) and they come in two different sizes. Grab a smaller hand pie so you can get a variety of flavors and they are more portable. I tried almost everything they had out to sample, and when I asked about a few flavors that were not available to try, the clerk opened the fridge and let me pick out of all the ones I wanted to try that they had not put out that day!

Best Bets:  My favorite jams are the Apricot & Mango, Pear Butter, Pineapple, Blackberry, Fig & Muscat Wine, and the Strawberry Rhubarb. All of the pies are great and the Oatmeal Fruit bars are da bomb!


::: Russian River Vineyards  :::

::: Hours: Tasting room is open daily from 11 am to 5 pm
:::  Location: 5566 Gravenstein Hwy N (Hwy 116) Forestville, CA 95436

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What’s Awesome about them: At Russian River Vineyards, you will be treated to a beautiful location and greeted by Chester the sweet rescue dog, who also graces the label of one of their zinfadels. Also if you go to their website, they have a coupon for a free wine tasting for up to 4 people. This is one of the oldest vineyards in the region and they have been slowly upgrading the property to be 100% organic & green. Love the purple front door, and the tasting room staff is very friendly, knowledgeable and they have some really great wines. Also if you unable to drive after tasting so many scrumptious wines, you can stay there and grab a bite to eat at Cork’s. I have not have the chance to eat there yet, but I have heard the reviews were great. Be sure to ask about the bats in the belfry!

Best Bets: 2013 Sonoma Coast Gewurztraminer, 2012 RRV Chester’s Zinfandel, 2011 Estate Grown Pinot Noir


::: SUB ZERO Ice Creamery :::  

::: Hours:Mon-Thur: 12pm-9pm, Fri-Sat: 12pm- 10pm Sun: 11am-9 pm
::: Location: The Barlow @ 6760 Mckinley St. #11, Sebastopol, CA 95472

Sub Zero

The entrance to the most glorious ice cream in all the lands

What’s Awesome about them: So if you haven’t heard of the BARLOW yet in Sebastopol, then click here to find out all about it. It’s a new concept bringing together the community with artisans, wine makers, art and food.  They still have many open spaces just waiting for the right tenants to sign their name on the lease. SUB-ZERO  is one store within the complex that already has a line out the door most of the time. Don’t worry its usually not a long wait, and even if it is, I promise it will be worth it.

So here’s how it works (click here for the  MENU). They have no pre-made ice cream here. It’s all made fresh right before your very eyes using the highest quality and freshest ingredients. You start of by selecting a cream base, an ice cream flavor, and things to blend in (“toppings”), then sit back and watch as your bowl of ice cream is made instantly with liquid nitrogen!  Its dessert and a science lesson, how cool is that? You can even choose how soft or hard you like your ice cream. The flavor combinations are endless and you can’t go wrong with adding a freshly made waffle bowl or cone.

I have to admit that I am totally spoiled now, and no other ice cream compares to Sub Zero. It’s literally the creamiest, richest, smoothest, ice cream you will ever experience in your lifetime. Additionally, if you’re looking for a low-fat alternative, They are very smart and also have soy and rice milk on hand for anyone that is lactose intolerant or vegan. They have something for everyone! Also Friday nights beginning at 7:00 pm they have Fire-pit Fridays. Sit out by the pit and chat with the locals while you slurp up your delicious concoction. There’s also a bocce ball court next to the pit for anyone who wants to use up their energy.

Best Bets:  Specials of the month are pretty much always going to be a win win (February’s flavor was stellar), but another favorite was Marshmallow Custard Cream, with graham crackers and chocolate chips. It tastes just like a s’more.

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{From L to R: Melody, Audrey and myself with our amazing treats : Looks like a zombie movie, but nope it’s just the liquid nitrogen }

So Many Recipes, So Little Time

Back in January this year, my life drastically changed. The decision was made for me; I was laid off from my full time Accounting Manager position due to budgetary cutbacks.  So what’s a creative person to do with all this sudden time on their hands?  1. Organize  2.  Be the best “Soccer Mom” or in my case “Dance Mom” I can be   3. Surf the internet  4. Catch up on 4 years of TV shows I missed   5. Start watching “Downton Abbey” and  6. Go back to cooking real, fresh homemade meals, the kind that take all day to prepare and days to plan, why? Because I can.

I have always loved reading and researching recipes.  Clipping them out of a magazine, printing them from online, hand copying  family or friends ingredients and instructions, because it was just so good I had to take the time to scrawl it on some scratch paper.  What always ends up is a pile of papers, in no particular order just sitting in a binder calling me, whispering sweetly to me, “Tikaaaaa…. Tika, TIKA! Come create me.” Then my regular life takes over and I just stick to the basic meals I know.  When you only have 20-30 minutes to get some food on the table for your clan, you tend to choose what you know and what’s easy.  Let’s face it I have stuck my fair share of microwave frozen meals the speedy machine to cook up a super fast meal.

For the past few years I have started to adopt the thinking that we need to eat freshly made, unprocessed foods like our grandparents and great grandparents used to eat. While I have a huge challenge in that regard, because my husband is a vegan.  I grew up with a mother who cooked home homestyle comfort food and I still crave things like meatloaf, pot roast, roasted chicken and spaghetti & meatballs.  I do like to use some vegetarian mock meat options when cooking to substitute for the real thing. When cooked properly, they taste great and work well in most recipes. Out of respect for my husbands beliefs we eat mostly vegetarian at home, only cooking fish once in a while for my daughter and myself.  But after 4 years of dedicating a lot of time to my past employer, I realize that when I did have time to cook  (when I was not too exhausted from a 1-2 hour commute each way), I would choose one of about 10 standard meals we all liked.

  1. Spaghetti & Meatless Meatballs
  2. Taco/Burrito Night
  3. Falafels
  4. Chinese Chicken-less Salad
  5. Make your own Pizza night
  6. Stir Fry
  7. Tortilla Soup/ Chili
  8. Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes
  9. Coconut Pineapple Curry
  10. Baked Potatoes with all the fixin’s

To be honest, we really like all the choices above.  And there were days when I would have more time, or get more creative with things like Vegan Shepherds Pie,  Lasagna with Tofu Ricotta,  Enchiladas,  Roasted Vegetable Bruschetta, or Caramelized Onions & Mushrooms Tartlets.  But one can only have so much of the same thing and when your brain is drained, it is very hard to be inventive. I have already tried several new recipes since my recent friendship with unemployment began and my family and I have been loving it.

I have recently decided that I really want to start to get away from canned goods. I realized most of what I bought in cans was beans and corn.  Well, it turns out with a little foresight, homemade beans are pretty dang easy and they taste 100 times better then what comes in a can. Also YOU choose what goes in your food, no extra sodium or chemicals lining the walls of a can leaching into your food.  I really try to buy organic when possible, call me a chemical snob, but I truly think that most organic foods simply just taste better.  Here is a link on how to make your own beans from scratch.  It’s so easy a monkey could do it!  Here is a link from Simple Bites on to how to make beans from dried: http://www.simplebites.net/a-simple-guide-to-cooking-dried-beans 

This new blog is only the tip of the iceberg for me. I want to share my creativeness, ideas, fabulous finds with all of you, especially for the extremely busy, working or stay at home moms, dads, college student, who just need a little inspiration or push in the right direction.  I have so many recipes that I will try out for you and give you advice or my take on. Also when I discover a restaurant or store, I love to share the experience with my friends, especially when they go above and beyond what is expected.

I have always (seriously always – at least as long as computers have been around) wanted to have a blog. I feel that I have a lot of different skills, talents, and information to share. Some I learned on my own and some if it researched, explored or learned from a friend. If you choose to take this journey with me,  we can learn all about the so many wonderful things our modern world has to offer.

So raise a glass or high five someone in the room with you, and lets get going on my biggest adventure yet. As they say, “When one door close, another door opens!”