Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankfulness: The Big, Non-Traditional Day

Well, Happy Thanksgiving, people!

With all those happy-bloggers out there blogging their thankfulness, I figured a nice, warm, deep-dish of reality would be a nice change of pace.  Hey, we're not eating the traditional turkey, so why not keep with the theme? 

Here are some poorly written musings from our non-traditional day...

Expecting lots of sub-par photos of vegan food?

Sorry about your luck, but the old $50 digital from Aldi is nowhere to be found. 

The funny thing about this is that there have been more hilarious photo ops in the last 24 hours than have ever before and I have no way to document said occurrences. 

Like right now Little B is wedged on the couch with two sleepy Maltese puppies curled up on her lap.  In fact, she just politely asked them to move. 

Across from them on the other couch my Little Green Machine is laid out because some dog (mine) served up a little Thanksgiving yak. Fun times.

Or last night, when Mr. B. returned from choir rehearsal, I heated up the dinner he missed, which included homemade rosemary-basil potato wedges.  The look on his face when he finally understood that I made them and they didn't come from a bag in the freezer - priceless and a little offensive.  At least I got a high five out of it. 

And to for an extra dose of thankfulness, I managed to get another ridiculous haircut.  I would totally put up a picture, but no camera.  The funny thing is that the actual cut is fantastic; the girl did an amazing job.  It's just that I look like a questionably gay, overweight, soccer mom.  Just looking in the mirror makes me want to go buy turtlenecks, boxy vests and high waisted jeans with a tapered ankle.  Gah.

Being distracted by the new 'do has kept me from cooking today (and from writing with any recognizable coherence)Noodles, mashed potatoes, seitan cutlets, roasted brussel sprouts and impossible pumpkin pie are on the menu.  Mr. B is off playing in his annual Turkey Bowl at some soccer field behind a Super 8 motel.  Doesn't that just sound like a horror movie waiting to happen? He's been awake since 5:30am, too excited to sleep. 

I am sure he'll be home around 11:30, just in time for Packers/Lions kick-off.  Husbands.

But in all honesty, I do have so much to be thankful for in my life: family, friends, and all that good stuff. 

Including another missed photo op - Little B walking into the living room dressed in a very short white skirt, white tank top, and ponytail.

Forget, anyone? 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankfulness: Pumpkin Soft Serve

It is November.  I have one more day of school before Thanksgiving break. The mere thought of 6 hours and 15 minutes of student contact time remaining makes me want to shout from the mountain tops. 

Don't get me wrong. I love my kids. They are sweet, smart, funny, and vivacious. 

I just need a break - a loooooong one. 

I've got a lot coming up here in the next few weeks.  Mr. B. & I are doing live commercials for the Little Theater's Holiday production of It's a Wonderful Life, there's auditions for my show (I'll be shamelessly plugging that in a future blog), my Tech Fair presentation, Board of Education presentation and last, but certainly not least - I'll be taking back my classroom from my student teacher. 

I get sweaty just thinking about the last one. 

I am fortunate enough to have a super-fantastic-uber-patient intern from Kansas State, Mrs. Berns.  She has kept me sane an I teetered on the the brink of insanity this semester.  She has listened to one too many stories about why I'm late, my sad history with socio-pathic beauticians, and on numerous occasions, watched me gorge on pomegranate blueberry rice cakes.  She is a saint.  Our school is very lucky to have her join our staff as a para for the rest of the school year.

As I embark upon the holiday season with all this business on my plate (and no student teacher to help me manage), I am thankful for that special food we reach for when we are stressed (and sweaty):

I was never much of an ice cream fan, so the following recipe for pumpkin ice cream is great for me.  I wasn't looking for it to live up to Ben & Jerry's. It doesn't, but I don't care!
Vegan Pumpkin Soft Serve

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (fresh is best)
1/4 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
2 T. agave nectar (or other sweetener, like maple syrup)
1 cup pumpkin puree, frozen
1 small banana, frozen
coconut milk, as needed.
Set out your pumpkin puree to let it soften a bit. Throw all the ingredients except the almond milk,  into your food processor and let her rip.  Scrap down the side as necessary. Depending on your preference of texture, you can add small amounts of coconut milk to achieve the desired consistency. 
Feel free to use whatever dairy-free milk you have on hand.  Any will work, but I think coconut adds the most creaminess.  The cardamom is optional.  I am addicted to it like I am reading, so I find a way to add a dash into whatever I am baking...or destroying in my food processor. 

This is a recipe I made up as I went, so looks like I am thankful for me today.  That wasn't ever my plan, but alas, here we are.  I am so grateful for myself. I am so glad there is a me who can randomly throw stuff together and have it taste good 5 times out of10 9 times out of 10.

I promise to be much less self-absorbed and referential tomorrow...
depending on how I am feeling. 

Ha. Ha.

 Maybe tomorrow I can be thankful for my sense of humor.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thankfulness: Good Reasons

Want to know why I skipped my homage of Thankfulness yesterday? There are so many reasons. 

Well, not really. There are actually six, but they are perfectly good reasons.

I greatly value the ability to not play slave to an alarm clock at least one day a week.  This day is Saturday and I love Saturdays. Yesterday was Saturday. Have I made myself clear?

I read like Charlie Sheen drinks. Book Club is like therapy for me.  There is a group of five smart, well-educated, well-read ladies who get together once a month and talk about books.  They let me come. They are soooo nice...and brilliant, and pretty, and fashionable, and amazing mothers. 

Seitan - one of the holy meat-alternative trinity along with tofu and tempeh.  You can buy it in the store, but I prefer to make it at home. It's significantly cheaper and with my Kitchen Aide mixer for kneading, it's easy as pie (which I don't think is easy, but that's not the point).  Turns out that you don't need a Kitchen Aide at all for homemade seitan, just a willing six-year-old. 
Note to self: Add hairnets to Christmas list.

I went to see it on Saturday afternoon.  Yes. I've read all the books.  Yes. I've read the entire series more than once (see #2 above).  If I tell you how many times, I would have to kill you. The movie was terrible, but I was with a friend, which improved the viewing experience significantly.  We found Edward's make-up during the birth scene to be reminiscent of a first grader eating pizza. 

Okay, so it wasn't so much the Taco Bell as much as it was having their sweet baby Sawyer fall asleep on my shoulder.  Outside of your bias toward your own child, have you ever seen anything cuter?

I didn't think so.
He got a nap on me and a nap on Mr. B.  We don't really look to make friends with people who have boats or vacations houses, just sleeping babies.  We are such simple people. 

If you ask Mr. B or I if we watch TV, we will tell you no.  This is a half-truth.
It is half true because we don't actually watch the television.  It is a half-lie because we watch several televisions shows on The Office, Grimm, Once Upon a Time, and The Sing-Off.  I can add Parenthood and Glee to my personal list. Too much TV rots your brain.  I read more than an hour every day (see #2 again).  I figure this balances things out. 
So, in a nutshell, those are the reasons for not blogging yesterday.  Completely reasonable, don't you think? 

Seeing as I only care about my own opinion, this question is rhetorical. 

Notice how me blogging about yesterday is basically skipping today too?

You're so clever.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thankfulness: Vegan Xpress

Can you all say TGIF? Amen, Hallelujah! I am doing my Friday dance right now. 
Can you say, "Double Dream Hands?"

That just never gets old. 

I usually cook on Friday nights, but our friends, the Hamms, asked us out for dinner.  We love the Hamms and we love to eat, so off we went to...

It isn't the restaurant I am most thankful for, but seeing as I was about ready to chew my arm off from hunger - it fit the bill tonight. 

What I am actually thankful for isn't a recipe at all; it's an app on our iPod called Vegan Xpress.

Eating out can be frustrating, difficult, annoying and nearly impossible. Did I mention frustrating? And we aren't even the most particular kind of vegans. 

With a quick tap on Olive Garden, we could see the animal-free items that they have on their menu. This little app is especially useful when traveling to Ohio to visit family.  It helped us decide to starve a little longer because the only thing we could eat at Long John Silvers was a rubbery corn cobbette. Mmmm...tasty.

Vegan Xpress doesn't just include restaurants, but food, beer and wine lists.  The food list is much more helpful than you could imagine.  Did you know that only Willy Wonka Smarties are vegan? Who knew?

The Vegan Xpress app knew!

So tonight, with my vegan belly full of vegan goodness from Olive Garden, I am super thankful for this handy little app. 

It may be a stretch, but I am guessing that you aren't super thankful for this lame-o post. But look at the bright side - you got to watch Double Dream Hands. I also shared that I actually do a Happy Friday Dance.  My butterfly and freestyle are as exceptional as the Vegan Xpress app.  

I hope your Friday has been as exceptional as mine.
Two pats. Shoulder. Double dream hands!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankfulness: My Nutritional Boyfriend, CLIF.

It is a bit of a fuzzy memory, but I think I actually used to get right out of bed when my alarm went off - with a spring in my step and a smile on my face.  

Not anymore.

I'm not sure how my process of 'waking' evolved into the diabolical disaster it is nowadays. When I was sick, it had a lot to do with the fact that I never felt rested.  Waking up exhausted is something I never imagined possible.  But now, it is more like a challenge to see exactly how long I can stay in bed and still get to where I need to be without being late in a reasonable amount of time. 

This past Tuesday was a rough day a work.  (I'll bring the story back around, I promise!) I needed to go to the grocery store immediately after school, but had to go home and decompress first. Some people shouldn't go to the store when they are hungry.

I shouldn't go when I am stressed. EVER.

I hit Dillons promising I would stick to the list and not venture out.  No two liters of cream soda, no bags of buffalo pretzels, no 3lb tub of hummus, or Double Stuffed Oreos.

But in lieu of grocery therapy, I was already planning to push my alarm further than I ever had before. When it is 4:30pm and you're already trying to figure out how much time a dry shampoo will shave off your morning routine - you know it's bad.

Knowing I would definitely sleep away my breakfast time, I headed straight to the aisle with granola & energy bars. This brings me to what I a VERY thankful for...

Clif Bars are all kinds of awesome.  I am no stranger to breakfast bars. It's not like the snooze button issue is a new thing. I've tried lots and been left grossly unsatisfied. Until I ventured across my first Clif bar.  It was a Chocolate Chip and it was delicious.  Then came Clif Kid Z Brownie Bar, a hit with the whole family.  Our favorite is probably White Chocolate Macadamia. Whether bar or crunch, it's amazing

My most recent thrill came from this...

"It’s chock full of whole nuts, pretzel pieces and other tasty morsels. Crunchy & chewy, with a sweet & salty taste, it’s a perfect snack. And since it’s made with 70% organic ingredients, it’s good for the planet too."

Please don't worry about my new gourmet beau and me.  Mr. B is okay with this little love affair of mine. It creates no friction in our relationship, except when there is only one bar left. 

Oh, Clif Bars, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

In fact, I think I will...tomorrow morning after I hit the snooze button. Who's got two thumbs and will be counting Clif bars to fall asleep...and then eating one when she finally gets up?

This girl. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thankfulness: Banana Pecan Rice Pudding

Today I was almost too weary to remember to be thankful. 

When the little cry of pain from the next room hit my ears at 11:45pm, I knew it was going to be a long night. 

Little B has always had ear issues. She had many recurring ear infections, most always double and finally got tubes at 18 months.  Since abandoning dairy, the frequency of ear infections has drastically decreased. But still, there are nights like last night. 

Mr. B, the amazing husband that he is, offered to stay up with Little B while she cried until she fell asleep.  Wonderful right? I could sleep.


How many mothers do you know that can sleep through their child's cries of pain?

So around three o'clock, I drifted to sleep.  I promised Little B the next day that we would do whatever she wanted.  Yes, I suffer from that very special guilt that plagues mothers who can't be with their children when they are sick. Don't get me wrong - I am very fortunate my Mr. B's job is flexible enough for him to stay home with her and cart her to the doctor, but this doesn't mean that I don't wish I were the one caring for my baby girl.

Her first request was to play Harry Potter Lego on the wii. Our good friends, the Petersons, let us borrow their game when I was sick with mono.  Now Little B thinks this is some unalienable right when one is under the weather.

Yes, the pastor's wife and her kid played a video game about wizards and magic.  And yes, I have turned a post about ear infections into one about young adult sci-fi/fantasy novels.  Hey, at least I'm not taking her to the midnight showing of Breaking Dawn tomorrow night. I don't need her thinking I am a vampire because I never age and am indescribably beautiful.
Breaking Dawn Movie Poster

To sidetrack you from the hilarity of the previous comment, I will tell you what I'm thankful for today!

Banana Pecan Rice Pudding Pie
by Dreena Burton

Pudding Mixture:
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
2/3 cup coconut milk (regular or lite for lower fat)
¼ cup brown rice syrup
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ – ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
¼ tsp sea salt (rounded)
3 cups cooked short-grain brown rice (see note)
1 cup ripe (but not overripe) banana, sliced (one small-medium banana)

¼ cup pecans, crushed
3 tbsp unrefined sugar (see note)
¼ – ½ tsp cinnamon
couple pinches sea salt
½ – 1 tsp organic canola oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, first combine the arrowroot with a few tablespoons of the coconut milk. Whisk through until the arrowroot is fully dissolved and incorporate. Then, add the remaining coconut milk, and stir through. Whisk in the brown rice syrup until mixed through. Stir in the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and then stir in the brown rice and sliced banana. Transfer mixture to a lightly oiled (wipe bottom and sides with a smear of canola oil) 9 ½” glass pie plate. In a small bowl, combine topping ingredients, working mixture with your fingers until a little crumbly. Sprinkle topping over rice mixture. Bake for 17-20 minutes, until bubbly and thickened. Remove from oven and let cool for about 20 minutes or longer. (The pudding will thicken more as it cools.) Spoon out mixture into bowls and serve, surrounded by a little vanilla non-dairy milk if you like. Serves 4-6.


If you are not salivating, you are ridiculous.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thankfulness: Pumpkin Spice Latte

Ha! Three days in a row! I am a little amazed at myself.  Since I am spending the rest of the month tooting the horns of others, I figured a personal toot is permissible.

If you are my mother: insert a fart joke HERE.

When mornings are cold and I have obsessively scraped down the sides of my food processor the previous evening, there is always a little pumpkin puree left over for these...

Pumpkin Spice Latte
by Mama Pea
Ingredients (serves 1)
1 c. strongly brewed coffee (can use flavored variety, if desired)
3/4 c. non-dairy milk
1 T. non-dairy vanilla creamer
2 T. canned pumpkin
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ginger
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
dash garam masala (optional; this is an Indian spice that gives it a nice little kick)
stevia to taste
Brew your coffee using 1 T. of ground coffee for each 6 oz. of water. Be generous. If this is going to take the place of espresso, we’ve got to use all the help we can get. I also use the strongest setting my coffee pot allows.
Combine remaining ingredients in a microwave-safe measuring cup.
Heat milk/pumpkin/spice mixture until it is very hot, about a minute and a half in the microwave.  You could also do this on the stove-top, but I’d rather risk radiation exposure than dirty a pot. I’ve got my priorities in order.
Pour mixture into a high speed blender.
Blend on high until mixture is fully incorporated and frothy.
Pour frothy pumpkin milk into a large coffee cup.
Pour freshly brewed coffee into pumpkin milk and gently stir.
Top with pumpkin pie spice, if desired.
So on this fourth day of thankfulness, I am showering my pumpkin-flavored gratitude on Mama Pea and her delightful latte. If you want amazingly good recipes, an awesome cookbook, and an ab workout from laughing at her hilarious blogs, check her out at  
See you tomorrow...I hope!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thankfulness: Impossible Pumpkin Pie

I am relatively sure that no one thought I would blog two days in a row.  I am sure I thought I wouldn't do it two days in a row.

Welcome to a parallel universe.

A parallel universe made of pumpkin in which pumpkin is valued more highly than gold.

Remember Little B's pie pumpkin I baked? Well, I was lucky enough to snatch one, too, so there was another round of pumpkiny goodness going down at our house.  Ever since the first go-round, I heard more requests for a pumpkin pie than anything.  But with those sketchy eggs, which I have discovered are nearly impossible to replace when the recipe calls for 2 or more, I wasn't sure what to do.

Now I do, thanks to Susan Voisin over at The Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
Today I am thankful for her and for this...

Impossible Vegan Pumpkin Pie


1 1/2 cups soymilk
1 tbsp. Ener-G egg replacer
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups pureed or mashed cooked pumpkin
1/2 cup rice flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. ginger powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9-inch deep dish pie pan with cooking spray.A deep dish is recommended because this pie will rise a lot during cooking but will fall back down as it cools.
  2. Put the first five ingredients in the blender, and blend well. Add the pumpkin, and puree. Add the remaining ingredients and blend on high for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape the sides a couple of times to make sure everything is thoroughly blended. Pour into a pie pan and bake for about 60 minutes. The top and edges should be brown, but the edges should not be over-done. (Since this is a custardy pie, using the standard toothpick or knife test does not work; it will remain somewhat moist in the center, but it shouldn’t be uncooked.)
  3. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the counter. For best results, refrigerate until chilled before eating.

I can describe this pie for you in 3 words: breakfast, lunch, or dinner.


Wait...does that count as four words? I think I'll go ponder that over the last slice of pie.

One more time for good measure.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thankfulness: Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

I am thankful for a lot of different things: amazing husband, incredible kid, extraordinary family, wonderful friends, great job, home sweet home, and all that other good stuff.

Today I am thankful for other vegans.

Especially other vegans who are brilliant in the kitchen and create amazingly delicious recipes when I don't feel like trying to concoct one of my own.  (Please read as: too cheap to waste my own ingredients trying to get it right.)

So, in honor of November, and in the style of the Facebook frenzy of saying what you're thankful for everyday, I am going to post a recipe I am thankful for everyday.

So I would be remiss if I weren't thankful for these:

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies
 by IsaChandra
Makes 4 dozen cookies

These are soft out of the oven, but as they cool they are nice and chewy.
They are a serious crowd pleaser, for crowds with taste buds.

Note: I use flax seeds because they make the texture a little chewier,
but I’ve made them without and they’re still good!

 baking sheets
 2 mixing bowls

 2 cups flour
 1 1/3 cups rolled oats
 1 teaspoon baking soda
 3/4 teaspoon salt
 1 tsp cinnamon
 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 2/3 cups sugar
 2/3 cup canola oil
 2 tablespoons molasses
 1 cup canned pumpkin, or cooked pureed pumpkin
 1 teaspoon vanilla
 optional: 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds

1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
 1/2 cup raisins

 Preheat oven to 350. Have ready 2 greased baking sheets.

Mix together flour, oats, baking soda, salt and spices.

In a seperate bowl, mix together sugar, oil, molasses, pumpkin and vanilla (and flax seeds if using) until very well combined. Add dry ingredients to wet in 3 batches, folding to combine. Fold in walnuts and raisins.

Drop by tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets. They don’t spread very much so they can be placed only an inch apart. Flatten the tops of the cookies with a fork or with your fingers, to press into cookie shape. Bake for 16 minutes at 350. If you are using two sheets of cookies on 2 levels of your oven, rotate the sheets halfway through for even baking. You’ll have enough batter for 4 trays.

Remove from oven and get cookies onto a wire rack to cool. These taste best when they’ve had some time to cool and set. They taste even better the next day!

These are seriously good. I had baked a small pie pumpkin Little B got on her trip to the pumpkin patch and made my own puree. Much cheaper than a can at the store and though it takes longer, the warm, delicious smell of baking pumpkin curling it's way throughout my house is totally worth it. 

Make these, you'll be thankful you did!  And to be honest, you'll be thankful if you make any of Isa Chandra Moskowitz's recipes.  Serious genius.

So here is to the beginning of my Recipe Thankfulness Series.  One recipe everyday though the end of November.  It might be important to say that my definition of 'everyday' is sort of like 'God created the world in 6 days.' Was is six 24-hour days? Was a day one million years? Who knows? Unlike the Biblical situation, you won't have to wait to see Jesus to ask him about it - you'll know when the next post appears.

Just imagine, a post more frequent than bi-monthly (or quarterly to be truthful)! You best buzz on over to Facebook and say you're thankful for that!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


It doesn't matter whether you are vegan or not, dinner - or deciding what to have for dinner - can be stressful.  Our evenings tend to be very busy, so many nights I am rushing around like a mad woman trying to throw something together so Mr. B and Little B don't have to eat ketchup sandwiches, applesauce and canned green beans for dinner.

Well, tonight, I happened upon something so easy and so comforting.

I ran to the store after school since the Bees were expecting a dinner guest. I needed something quick, but wasn't in the mood for chili or spaghetti. I am always game for macaroni & cheese, but have yet to force my Daiya on visiting omnivores. Good vegans don't scare omnivores with cheese alternatives.  I think it's some sort of unwritten vegan rule of etiquette.

Then suddenly, out of nowhere, our local grocery store has EGG FREE NOODLES. I grabbed a bag in nervous anticipation, because if I've learned one thing it is that you NEVER know what's going to be in that ingredient list, no matter what the package says. 

Only four ingredients, which is nearly a miracle and NO EGG. Yay for me.

As soon as I dropped those bad boys into the cart, I nearly left skid marks as I high-tailed it to the frozen section.  Because you know what goes best with noodles?

Mashed potatoes.  Duh.

Now some of you food purists out there would have headed the other way to grab potatoes and do it the old fashion way. Not me, not today.  Yesterday was Halloween people and I teach first grade, remember? Needless to say, I won't be interested in over exerting myself for the next 3-5 weeks.  So  I bought the ready-to-mash. Genius.

So once I had the goods, here's how it all went down...

1. Water in giant pasta pot with Veggie Better than Bouillon, dashes of salt, pepper, onion powder & garlic salt.
2. When boiling, add noodles and a generous squirt of Bragg's.
3. Throw bag of frozen potatoes in the microwave: 10 minutes.
4. Throw bag of frozen broccoli in the microwave: 4 minutes.
5. Partially drain noodles. 
6. Mash potatoes with Earth Balance, almond milk & pepper.

If you are feeling fancy, feel free to put the above mentioned foods into different dishes to fool your family into thinking it was all from scratch.  Or serve as is. 

Can you guess what I did?

So simple and so easy. I would add stress-free, but I forgot to run the dishwasher this morning, so I was left with a grotesque number of dishes to wash by hand.  But after eating my weight in noodles, I needed to remain active - even if I had to undo the top button on my pants.

That was going a little far, wasn't it? Sorry.

Now, as I hunker down for the night, I imagine that there will be visions of sweet carbohydrates dancing in my dreams.  Did I mention I made enough noodles & mashed potatoes to feed 10 people?

Leftovers.  Goodnight.