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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hummus recipe amendment!

This afternoon, I discovered a delicious and unexpected addition to my hummus...Cauliflower! I had some steamed cauliflower left over from yesterday's cauliflower sandwich experiment, so I just threw it in the blender when I was making some hummus. The result was as delicious as it is unusual. The cauliflower doesn't add an assertive flavor. It mostly adds depth and complexity. Cauliflower basically takes a fairly one dimensional hummus and gives it three dimensions. Here's the updated recipe!

Liz's Red and White Hummus spread
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 ripe tomato
1C steamed cauliflower
3Tbsp tahini
1/4C lemon juice
1-2 cloves garlic
salt to taste
Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. I ate this with a cucumber tomato sandwich and corn chips. So refreshing!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cauliflower sandwich!

In my quest to eat less meat, I discovered this tasty sandwich filling! Cauliflower isn't extremely frugal, but it's definitely less expensive than sandwich meat, or cheese. Cauliflower is also rich in vitamin C, fiber, and calcium. Here's the recipe!

1 cauliflower, cored, chopped and steamed until tender
1/4-1/2C mayonnaise
seasoned salt
2 tsp lemon juice

Mash the cauliflower in a large bowl. Add the mayonnaise, lemon juice and salt, mixing until well combined. Serve on a toasted sandwich with tomato, or on pita bread! I ate this sandwich with a simple cucumber tomato salad.

I know cauliflower might seem like a strange thing to eat in a sandwich, but it really turns out great! I am so glad I decided to try this, because it has become my favorite sandwich. A mashed cauliflower has a pleasing "meatiness" to it without being heavy. The tang of the lemon juice marries well with the slight sweetness of the mayonnaise, the earthiness of the cauliflower itself, and the smokiness of the seasoned salt. Pair that myriad of flavors with a hearty grain bread and a simple salad for deliciously deceptive frugal dining!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Vegan Dinner Party!

Ever since my stomach condition has forced me to become a vegan, I have been worrying that I wouldn't be able to have friends over for dinner! All of my "company" recipes require meat and dairy products! Yesterday, though, I really wanted to have my friends Brittany and Michael and their daughter over, so I spent some time attempting to invent a frugal, vegan menu that they would actually want to eat! After some trial and error, here's the menu I came up with:

(I guess it's not technically vegan, because it uses butter, but I figure it's close enough!)
Double recipe shortening pie crust.(I use the shortening that doesn't contain trans fat.)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, minced
3C peeled potatoes
2C carrots (I used baby carrots)
3C broccoli florets (save the stems)
2C corn, cut from the cobb
1/2 tsp dried thyme or savory
sprinkling of seasoned salt
4Tbsp flour
2C cashew cream (recipe will follow!)
1 stick of butter

To make a shortening pie crust:
2 1/4C flour
14Tbsp shortening
1/2tsp salt
Ice water

In a food processor, pulse the shortening, flour and salt 4 or 5 times. Add the water 1Tbsp at a time, pulsing after each addition, until the dough comes together in a shaggy ball. Remove from food processor and knead briefly to form a dough ball. Wrap the ball tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

To make the filling:
Steam the potatoes and carrots in a vegetable steamer until fairly soft. Steam the broccoli for 5 minutes. I had to do this in batches, so it was kind of a hassle! Melt 1/4C butter in a large, heavy kettle. Cook the onion and celery until the onion is translucent. Add the potatoes and carrots and cook, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes. Make sure you stir a lot, because the potatoes will stick! Add the broccoli, reduce heat to low, and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the corn, thyme or savory, and seasoned salt. Remove from heat and let cool for about 30 minutes while you prepare the cream sauce.

Cashew cream is non-dairy, so it is much easier to digest than traditional cream. I am lactose intolerant, so that's why I use it. Heavy whipping cream can be used instead, if you don't want to make the cashew cream.
1/2C cashews
1 1/2C water
Blend on high for 1-2 minutes, or until a smooth, thick cream forms. Use as you would heavy cream.

To make the cream sauce:
Melt the remaining 1/4C butter in a medium saucepan. Add the 4Tbsp flour and whisk constantly until smooth. Slowly add the cream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Continue whisking constantly until the cream sauce thickens. It is ready when it's thickened to the consistency of runny pancake batter.
Pour the cream sauce over the vegetable mixture and stir to mix well. At first, it might look like too much cream sauce, but the mixture will thicken an absorb the liquid upon standing. Allow the mixture to cool for another 30 minutes. If you add it to the crust when it's really hot, the crust will melt!

To assemble and bake the pie:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Remove the dough from the fridge and remove the plastic wrap. Cut the ball in half, and shape each half into a disk. Roll out one half to make the bottom crust. Carefully transfer the bottom crust into a deep dish pie pan. Carefully cut away the excess dough so that there is only about 1 inch of overhang. Spoon the cooled filling into the pie pan, spreading it around so that it is pretty even. Roll out the other disk to make the top crust. Carefully lift the dough over the filling. Trim the top crust so that there is about one inch of overhang. Seal the top and bottom crusts together and fold them under, so that the edge of the crust is even with the edge of the pie pan. Cut some steam vents in the top.
Bake the pie for 5 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake the pie for another 35-40 minutes. After the pie is baked, remove it to a rack to cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting into it. Enjoy!

4-5 broccoli stalks
1Tbsp oil
1Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1Tbsp lemon juice
Peel the broccoli stalks and cut them into slices. Heat oil in a medium skillet. Add the broccoli and cook until crisp tender. Add the soy sauce and lemon juice and toss to combine. Remove from heat. This recipe is an awesome way to use up broccoli stalks.

2 ripe tomatoes
1 large cucumber, peeled and seeded
2Tbsp walnut or olive oil
1-2Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt to taste
Dice up the tomatoes and cucumber and place in a large bowl. Add the oil first and toss to combine. Add the vinegar and salt and toss again. Enjoy! Walnut oil makes this salad especially delicious, but walnut oil is also especially expensive! Olive oil works great, there just won't be a walnut flavor.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pink Hummus!

Today I was experimenting, and I came up with this tasty recipe!

2 cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/4C tahini
1/3C lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1 tomato, cut up
salt to taste

Place beans, tahini, salt, garlic and lemon juice in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Add the tomato and blend again until smooth. We ate this with corn chips and minced orange bell pepper!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Frugal water!

Whether you're frugal or not, water is definitely what you should be drinking. 70% of our bodies are made of water, and even a slight amount of dehydration can have serious consequences. Most people (me included!) don't drink enough water during the day. The ironic thing is that other types of drinks, like soda and coffee, actually make you need to drink MORE water, but we drink them INSTEAD of water! Luckily, water is practically free, so drinking more of it will also improve our budgets, as well as how we feel. Here are three awesome ways I've started preparing water to make it more appealing:

I know that water with lemon is really common, but how many of us bother to do it at home? I started doing it recently, and you know, I drink a whole pitcher (10C of water!) in one day! Something about having "special" water waiting in the fridge makes me want to drink it. All I do to prepare it is I slice up a lemon and toss it into an iced tea pitcher. Then I add water and ice and let it sit in the fridge for about an hour. After that I start hydrating my body! I re-use the lemon for one more pitcher of water, but after that, it starts to lose it's flavor.

I read that some people flavor their water with cucumber, so I thought I'd give it a try. Man am I glad I did! Cucumber water tastes really clean and refreshing. I just took two small slices of cucumber and added them to a glass of water. The cucumber flavor is subtle and crisp. It made me feel like I was at a fancy gourmet restaurant.:P I re-used the same cucumber all day with no loss of flavor. Talk about frugal!

Sometimes I need a lot of motivation to hydrate my body like I should. When those days strike I break out the big guns, which are ice cubes made out of juice, frozen into novelty shapes. I bought the ice cube trays on sale at Walmart last Summer to get my kids to drink more water, but then I thought, why should they have all of the fun?:P All I do is take any flavor juice (I prefer watermelon!), freeze it in the ice cube trays, and then pop out a couple juice cubes when I get some water. Even after a year, this treat hasn't lost it's extreme appeal.

I don't want to get on a soap box or sound preachy, but I do want to take a moment to detail why soda and "juice drinks" are something we should never drink ourselves OR give to our kids. "Juice drinks" are sugar water, chemical dyes, and harmful preservatives. Some examples are: Hawaiian punch, which contains corn syrup as the SECOND ingredient, red dye, blue dye, two different preservatives, sucralose, and something called, "glycerol ester of wood rosin." Sunny Delight contains only 2% juice along with corn syrup, preservatives and yellow dye 5 AND 6. These drinks are not just some harmless thing to give your kids on a hot day! Red, blue and yellow dye have been linked to behavior problems, allergies, hyperactivity, brain tumors and cancer! Corn syrup has been linked to type 2 diabetes, metabolic disorders and obesity. Sucralose was originally discovered by scientists who were trying to develop an ant killing insecticide. These are not substances that ANYONE should be consuming!
Soda is even worse than a "fruit drink." Pepsi contains: corn syrup, sugar, phosphoric acid, caffeine and colorings. Diet Pepsi is even worse, because it contains aspartame. Aspartame causes fibromyalgia symptoms, headaches, nervousness, depression, anxiety, and of course, cancer. Phosphoric acid is commonly used as a rust remover. It also causes low bone density and kidney stones.

You don't have to believe me, read these facts for yourself!

In my experience, most kids prefer juice and milk to sugary "juice drinks" and soda. Also, if you don't have harmful beverages in the house, they won't drink them! Instead of giving your child bone destroying phosphoric acid, why not offer bone building milk? Instead of giving them obesity causing corn syrup, why not give them a glass of slimming water with colorful juice ice cubes? Instead of giving them a dye that causes cancer and hyperactivity, why not offer a glass of vitamin filled 100% juice? Or better yet, a smoothie! You and your kids deserve to be healthy and happy!
And before you think that it's too expensive, remember that my grocery budget is $50 per week for 4 people. If I can afford it, anyone can!

Thursday, July 22, 2010


The mangoes I love are FINALLY in season! I know that mangoes are always around, but not all of them are created equal. There's the commonly available yellow and red skinned ones with the pale orange, stringy flesh, and then there's the dark green and red skinned ones with the dark orange, deliciously smooth flesh! As you can see, I love the latter kind. Unfortunately, they are only available July through September, so I have to gorge myself while I can!:P Mangoes are not only the best tasting food ever, they are also one of the most nutritious foods ever! Just one mango has 2 vitamin C servings, two yellow fruit servings and a ton of other vitamins and minerals, including folate!

Mangoes really are the perfect food. They are sweet and rich enough to be tastier than most baked desserts, they add richness and smoothness to every blended drink, AND if you are fortunate enough to get a lot of them, they make a fantastic pudding! Here are my favorite ways to eat these luscious fruits!

Pretty much nothing is more delicious than a sliced, raw mango. (Remember, though, you want the big mangoes with the dark green and red skin!) I often times will cut up like 4 mangoes to take with us to the bookstore, or to the movies. My kids will sit there quietly, as long as they are tasting that sweet mango nectar!:P

I drink smoothies pretty much constantly, and I can say hands down mangoes are the best smoothie ingredient ever. A strawberry banana smoothie is wonderful, but add a mango to it and you have a treat so sinfully delicious, you may never want to eat anything else again! A mango adds thickness and a smooth texture to smoothies that is just addictive. And the taste! I've tried on many occasions to imagine something else on Earth that tastes like a mango, but so far, I've never found anything. My kids beg me for mango banana strawberry smoothies every day. Here is my recipe:

(For 4 people)
4C almond milk
2 frozen bananas
2 peeled and diced mangoes
16 strawberries
2Tbsp maple syrup (I'm also addicted to maple syrup, so I add it to pretty much everything!)
Place all ingredients in the blender and blend on high until smooth. Sometimes I add a handful of baby carrots to the mix!

This pudding sounds strange, but it's actually really delicious! Mango pudding is a sensuous delight of taste and texture that I've never had replicated in any other food. Best of all, it's so fabulously good for your body, you can enjoy these delights every day! I know I do!

2 avocados, peeled and pitted (chilled)
2 ripe green skinned mangoes, peeled and pitted (chilled)
1/2C-1C maple syrup (chilled) (try the smaller amount and then add more if you want)
1/4C soaked and drained almonds (optional)
Blend until light and fluffy!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Carrot Ginger Milkshake?!

I was experimenting today with my vitamix and I came up with this tasty treat to ward off my nausea. I get nauseated a lot, because I suffer from IBS. Luckily, you'll want to drink this even if you're feeling great. I sure felt great after I drank it!

Carrot Ginger Milkshake
1C almond milk
1 1/2C baby carrots, or 1C carrot juice
1Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 inch piece fresh peeled ginger
1 frozen banana

Place carrots, ginger and almond milk in a blender and blend on high until smooth (about a minute). Add the maple syrup and banana and blend for another 30 seconds or so. If you are using a fresh banana, I would recommend adding ice and blending again until smooth.
This shake really tastes great and has a nice thick texture. Almond milk is really easy to make (1C almonds and 4C water blended on high for 1 1/2 minutes when using a vitamix!), but you can buy it as well. This shake would probably taste great with cow milk or soymilk as well. By the way, my kids LOVE this shake! I tell them it's dessert.:P

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tomato Hornworm

The leaves were gone this morning
Devoured with roiling ecstasy.
The smooth bodied green
to the underside
Of the last full leafed branch.
The smooth bodied green
A fat belly dancer
All the time in the world
Nothing prods, no sense of time
No poisonous burning
The green belly alive and
Stretching to reach
Every leaf, every stem
Every spiked yellow bud.