Thursday, March 29, 2012

French Toast Dippin' Stix

No NEW recipe today, just a pic of our dippin' stix.  I used my own homemade whole-wheat bread (borrowed some bread makers and cranked out 16 loaves in a weekend!) and the basic French Toast milk mixture from the August 21, 2011 post. 

I cut the bread THICK and then into strips. It holds together better if you go thick. If you don't have your own bread, I would recommend Texas Toast style loaf bread.  I sprayed the griddle with non-stick cooking spray and did a quick dip on the bread before browning it.  The kids loved it.  I actually made up an entire loaf of bread (one batch of milk mixture was enough) and then I let them cool completely.  I freeze them in a ziplock baggie and my own kids microwave them for a quick breakfast.  There's enough for both kids to eat them all week. 

I've also made this with my homemade cinnamon raisin bread and everyone likes that.

While I have you here.....  I'm ready to take on the challenge of new recipes for spring/summer.  What are your favorite spring/summer dishes that you'd like to see "veganized" here on the blog????  Send me your requests!!

Happy eating!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Not-cho BEER Cheese Sauce

I couldn't decide what to make for supper tonight so I asked my husband, "What are you in the mood for?"  (Those of you that know him can only imagine the many responses that followed.....)

BUT, he eventually came around to food and supper and mentioned that he had a hankerin' (yes, he actually said that) for some of that famous spaghetti restaurant's Beer Cheese Sauce on Pasta with Sauteed Mushrooms.  (That famous restaurant is the one on Court Avenue in Des Moines.)

I took the recipe for NOT-cho cheese sauce (post from earlier this month) and tweaked it a bit.  I left out the lemon juice and replaced it with 1/2 a beer.  I added in about 2 cups of the cooking liquid from the pasta to make it saucier, too. 

I actually recommend 3 beers for this recipe.  I used half  a beer in the recipe and then drank the other two and a half.  Now my husband's original suggestions are starting to sound like a good idea! ; )

There is some debate about cooking with alcohol and how long it takes to cook out.  I personally love cooking with alcohol and am not bothered about serving it to my family.  Use your own judgement on that one.

As for the mushrooms, all I did was throw some fresh garlic and button mushrooms in a pan with a little vegan butter, a little olive oil and a splash of cooking wine.  I seasoned them tonight with salt, pepper and some Italian seasoning.  I covered the pan and left them over medium heat while the pasta cooked.  That's it.

We ate our pasta tonight with a fruit salad and some fresh veggies.  It was quick and easy and oh, so yummy.

Now where did my hubby go....

Monday, March 12, 2012

Simple Salad

Most people think that the only food I eat is salad.  But the truth is we rarely have salads.  I picked up some mixed greens at the store the other day because one of the day care kids mentioned she likes salad for lunch.  So we threw one together today.  I was a few corn chips, some mixed greens and some leftover corn and bean salsa from a friend of mine.  I put some hot sauce on the side of mine for a little kick.  It was a super simple and very tasty taco salad.

Cooking vegan doesn't have to be difficult or time consuming or include expensive, "weird' ingredients.  This dish had veggies, grain, protein and lots of flavor.  Keeping it simple works so well for most vegans. 

Happy Eating!

Saturday, March 10, 2012


I am always shocked to hear from someone that they have read the blog or that they check it often for recipes. I was at a baby shower today and heard someone mention that they read it, so I decided to check on the stats for this blog. 
What did I discover?

Holy guacamole, Batman! 

 I could never have imagined the number of hits my blog has gotten, or the number of people reading, or that I have reached people from all over the world. 

I am truly humbled and inspired by the fact that you are reading and using this blog, and I can only hope that I have made some small difference in your health and in your lives. 

Please know that I am forever grateful for your time spent here reading my simple words.  So, to all of you out there in cyber-land, THANK YOU for your support!

Happy and Healthful Eating!!   Nanette

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

NON EDIBLES: Standard Playdough and Smelly Playdough

These are just a couple more of the non-edible recipes that are often requested.  I had a friend ask just this morning, so I thought I'd post it just to have it handy for anyone who wants.
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
2 cups water with 1/2-1 teaspoon of food coloring in it
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Mix all wet ingredients in one container and mix all dry ingredients in a saucepan. Then stir the wet ingredients into the dry.  Cook it slowly over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  You'll see it start to come together and get a bit darker.  Take it off just before all of it goes dark and just let it sit and finish cooking. It will be "globby" and salty, but let it cool for about 10 minutes and then knead it to soften it up.  It comes together nicely as you work it.  Keeps for a long time in a ziplock or tupperware.
You can also add 1 tablespoon of glitter if you like to the dry ingredients.  I have also added vanilla, orange, peppermint or almond extract to the water/oil for scented playdoughs.
2 1/4 cups flour
1 cup salt
1-2 packages dry kool-aid mix (the little packages)
4 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cup water
Mix all dry ingredients together well, then add the wet to the dry.  (Don't cook this one.) Stir and knead until firm and ready to use.  You may need a floured surface to knead this one.  Store in an airtight container.
This one smells great for a birthday party or sleepover, but only lasts a couple days before going bad. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

NON EDIBLES: Baby Wipes, Disinfecting Wipes and Laundry Soap


I try to be GREEN whenever possible.  I use cloth napkins and wash clothes in my home instead of paper or disposable. I keep a basket of napkins and cloths right on the kitchen counter for kid fingers and faces and paint spills and whatever else life throws at me.  I also keep a laundry basket by the kitchen door so I can just throw the dirties there and add it to whatever load of laundry is up next.  I don't care that my napkins aren't perfectly white or creased, because they are intended for formal use.  I use them to be GREEN.  So they might look a little stained, but the family and day care kids know to use them instead of throwing out disposables.  

But even I think there are times when a disposable wipe is a good idea.  And it is certainly more green to make them than it is to purchase all the plastic packaging.  So I still feel good and green even when I use my disposable wipes.  And I love making laundry soap instead of buying those large plastic or hard cardboard containers.

I make homemade baby wipes from paper towels.  It saves a ton of money and I can decide what goes in them.  They do not dry baby/kid skin the way the purchased wipes do so I feel good using them on faces and hands whenever needed. In the summer time I keep a big container in the van for all our road trips.  This is a basic "recipe" that you can adjust.  I used to add fresh aloe to it for my son who had sensitive skin.  I have also added essential oils for scents.  You can try other "add-ins" if you like.

Buy a good quality paper towel that has no designs or color.  If you use the choose-a-size paper towels you get smaller wipes, but I still find those to work just fine. Purchase a container that is tall enough to fit a half a roll of paper towels.  I found mine at Target, but I'm sure there are others.  I cut a hole in the top of mine so that I can pull the wipes out one at a time.  You don't have to do that, but it does make life a little easier.  I also go through a lot of wipes, so I don't worry that mine will dry out. Once you have a good container, you are set for years of environmentally friendly, inexpensive and good smelling baby wipes for far less than you can purchase in the store.  This container in the picture (that I took today as I made wipes) is almost 10 years old. 

2 c. warm water
2 T. baby oil or lotion
2 T. baby body soap
(any add ins you prefer)
Whisk all together in the container. 

Then cut a roll of paper towels in half with a large, serrated bread knife and pull out the center cardboard tube.  Stand up one half roll in the liquid, put lid on top and flip over.  (If you cut a hole in the top, just use some plastic wrap under the lid to seal it while it soaks up the liquid.) Let sit up-side-down for about 1 hour so all liquid is absorbed.  Depending on the type of paper towels, you may want to adjust the water a little bit.

Use the same process/techniques as the baby wipes.  Just carefully measure about 2 t. Lysol or other disinfecting cleaner into the 2 c. of warm water instead of the baby soap and lotion.  Whisk it together well before adding the half roll of paper towels.

I keep a container of these in the kids' bathroom for those little boys who have a trouble hitting the toilet! : )   Please note, though, that these are not flushable.  Also, you may want to clearly label these wipes and keep them behind closed doors where children cannot get to them. 

This one is the easiest of all and I can't believe I haven't been using this my whole life.  Very easy to make a large batch about once a month.  This method costs less than 3 cents per load, while the brand name laundry soaps cost about 74 cents a load (in my town at the time I'm typing this at least).  Plus, the homemade method saves so many plastic containers and unnecessary waste.  It basically has no smell (unless you add scented oils safe for soap).  So we buy the "outdoor fresh" dryer sheets to add that fresh scent to our clothes.  This soap WORKS.  It gets clothes clean.  I still use bleach occasionally on the whites, and I often times still add a little Oxy Clean to those kid clothes that are covered in mud and grass (and who know what else) stains.  I usually make a double batch (2 gallons) at a time.  If you have a 5 gallon bucket, that will work as well.  The basic list I gave is for 1 gallon of finished laundry soap, so adjust it accordingly if you are making a large batch.  If you add a scent to it, be sure that you are adding oils meant to be used in soaps.  You don't want oil stains on your clothes, so be careful what you add. 

Borax and Washing Soda were easily found in my local store right with the other laundry detergent.  I know there are many slight variations to this basic recipe. If something works particularly well for you, let me know!

Basic Ingredient List for 1 gallon of laundry soap:

1/4 c. grated bar soap--use a natural, no dyes, no scents soap like Ivory
a heaping 1/4 c. Washing Soda
a heaping 1/4 c. Borax

Use a metal pot that IS NOT COATED with non-stick surface.  The soap gets into the non stick and your food will taste soapy!  Use metal utensils, too, since the soapy taste can permeate wooden spoons or plastic utensils.

Bring about 3 cups water and the grated soap to a boil  in the pot.  Let boil about 1 minute until soap is all dissolved.  Turn the heat off and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir it well. This may cause a bubbling, so be sure your pot is big enough to handle that without spilling over.


Place about 3 cups cold water in the bottom of your 1 gallon container.  (I stole a couple of these 1 gallon ice cream containers after a party at a friend's house one night and they work great.)  Add the hot liquid slowly.  You do not want the hot liquid to melt your plastic container.  Add enough water to the container to make 1 gallon and stir lightly.  Cover and let the solution sit overnight.  It will gel slightly when cooled and will be a little "chunky" like a thick soup.

Use 1/2 cup detergent to a normal size load of laundry.  For particularly soiled loads, I use 3/4 cup.  Add the soap to the water and let washer fill most of the way full before adding clothes.  This solution is safe to use with bleach or Oxy Clean.

Maria B's Green Enchilada Soup (V and GF)

I got this recipe from my sister-in-law.  She made it for my family when we visited a few weeks ago and it was AWE (wait for it...) SOME. We all loved it so I asked her for a list of ingredients.  Well, I scratched down what was IN the soup, but didn't really write down amounts or measurements.  So I decided to give it a go this past weekend.  Turned out pretty nice, if I do say so myself.

I used dried navy beans in my recipe.  I soaked and rinsed them according to directions, then just added everything together in a pot and cooked at a simmer/low boil for about 90 minutes.  Cooking from dried beans gave the soup a creamy texture and really left no need to thicken it all.  If you use canned navy beans, go ahead and rinse them first.  You may want to thicken the final soup with a flour or cornstarch slurry.

Using the canned enchilada soup makes this super easy and fast to throw together.  Put it on if you have guests joining you for supper and no additional work is needed.  Serve it up with some corn tortillas (warmed), some corn bread or just some tortilla strips.  It has a little heat to it (even though it was all "mild") so a little salad on the side would compliment it nicely.  If you like more heat, serve it with some freshly diced jalapeno.

I had a little leftover and froze it for today's lunch.  One little day care girl ate 3 bowls of it! 

SIDE NOTE: As I was eating it, I felt inspired me to make a new enchilada dish.  I think I'll work on a new recipe for White Bean Enchiladas with Green Chili Sauce.  I'll let you know when I get a good recipe worked out for those.  But, for now, on to the soup!

1 bag (about 3 cups dried) Navy Beans, soaked and rinsed according to package directions
6 c. Veggie Broth (I used No-Chicken Broth)
2 c. water
1 large onion, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (4.5 oz) cans mild chopped green chilis
2 t. cumin
1/2 t. oregano
1 (28 oz) can mild green enchilada sauce

Add all ingredients to soup pot.  Bring to a low boil then turn down heat.  Simmer with lid tilted for about 90 minutes or until beans are desired doneness.

Serve with fresh cilantro, lime wedges and chopped green onion for toppings.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Not-cho Cheese Sauce (GF and V)

Hee-hee!  Get it?  NOT-cho cheese sauce!  You know, because it's NOT cheese.  Because vegans don't eat cheese.  So it's NOT-cho cheese sauce.  Get it?  I know.  Hilarious. 

Steak fries with cheese sauce.  Roasted veggies on the side.
 Okay, I'm over it. My family LOVED this cheese sauce.  I made baked potatoes with broccoli, cauliflower and carrots and smothered it all in this sauce as a one bowl meal.  So yummy.   My hubby ate THREE potatoes with this sauce.  That's how good it is.  My kids were licking the bowls clean, literally.  (Note to self--work on kid's manners.)

And it's not just me.  I gave some to a friend who is going vegan and is trying to transition her family into eating a little healthier.  They loved it, too! 

I used our leftover baked potatoes tonight.  I tossed them with a little olive oil and baked them for about 25 minutes. Then I served the steak fries with the cheese sauce.  You can serve it up over any tators or use for nachos.  Use it to make that famous salsa and cheese dip, or add in a cup of broth and use it to make baked macaroni.  Drizzle it over your veggies.  Use it anyway you would use melted cheddar/American cheese sauce.  I like to stir in a few jalapenos for a little heat.

It's a pretty easy recipe, so hopefully you give it a try.  Soaking the cashews first makes it a creamier texture, but if you don't soak them you can just process it longer in the blender and it will have a slightly different texture.  I actually couldn't find raw cashews in our local, small town grocery so I used the lightly salted and soaked them longer in hot water.

I looked all over on the web to find a good vegan nacho cheese, but ended up just using those as a guide.  I put my own spin on it and I hope you enjoy it.

1/2 - 1 c. raw cashews (soak in warm water for at least 1 hour)
1 1/2 c. cold water (plus more for desired consistency)
2 slices of roasted red peppers (jarred) or 1/2 red pepper that you roasted
2 T. cornstarch
2 T. Nutritional Yeast (Nooch)
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. onion powder
juice from 1/2 lemon
Salt to taste
2 T. vegan butter

Drain the cashews and then place all ingredients in blender and process for 1-2 minutes.  Whisk sauce in a saucepan over medium high heat until thickened and bubbly.  Add water to desired consistency. Serve warm.  Stir in a small can of diced chilis or some chopped jalapenos if you like.