Tag Archives: food

Biscuits & Sausage Gravy: Vegetarian Style

One of my absolute favorite breakfast dishes in the whole-wide world is biscuits and gravy. My Dad would always make it for me on my birthday when I was little. He would even make it for my friends when I would have sleepovers. (What a great Dad, huh!?!)

When I moved out, I would still crave this comforting dish. Unfortunately for me, I found out I’m highly allergic to cow’s milk, specifically the protein casein. I’m not the typical “lactose intolerant” gal. The type of allergy I have wreaks havoc on my digestive tract days after consumption. This prompted me to find an alternative that was just as tasty as the original. Hence, this recipe was born.

My Sweetie now begs for this dish like I used to as a child. I smile with the thought that I have passed on my love for this dish that will always remind me of my Dad. Recently, when my family (Dad included) visited for the holidays, I made them my version, and everyone ate it up like the recipe hadn’t changed. Woohooo! I call that a success!

Serves two.

Adapted from a recipe by Chez Bettay, original recipe found here:

Biscuits:

Makes 4 biscuits.

Get out a food processor or mixing bowl (it can be done both ways – just be sure not to over-mix). 

Add the flour to your food processor with the coconut oil, sea salt, and baking powder. Pulse until slightly combined.

Add the goat milk to the flour mixture. Pulse to combine. 

Now add the apple cider vinegar to your soymilk to create a vegan “buttermilk.” Slowly drizzle this into the food processor to gently combine. Being careful not to over mix. 

Turn out onto a floured board.  If slightly wet, knead in some more brown rice flour. You want the mixture to be slightly wet, but not falling a apart. 

Pat dough into a 3/4in to 1 in thick. Slice into 4 parts. Take each part and form into a biscuit. Or use biscuit cutters.

Place onto a greased cookie sheet. Brush tops with a little more melted coconut oil.  Bake for 13-15 minutes.

Sausage Gravy:

While the biscuits are baking we can start making the gravy.

Brown the sausage over medium high heat.. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium/medium-low. Add the coconut oil and flour to the pan and cook to make a roux. Cook slightly to get rid of the floury flavor. 

Add the soy milk, and whisk quickly to combine. One combined, turn up the heat to medium high. 

Add a ton of fresh cracked pepper (to your taste), add some salt and a little sprinkle of sage. 

Bring to a simmer and cook until thick. Add the sausage back in, and stir to combine. Check your gravy for seasoning … add more salt, pepper, and sage to your liking. 

Keep some extra soy milk on hand if the gravy begins to thicken too much. You will be able to thin it out by adding a tiny bit of soy milk at a time until you get the gravy consistency you like.

Slice open your biscuit, butter it, and then top it with heaping spoonfuls of gravy. Now eat up!

What is your all-time favorite breakfast? I would love to hear about it in the comments.

I will note that you can make your own “veggie sausage” with TVP by moistening the TVP with water or broth and then seasoning it with sage, salt, and pepper (which I did in this recipe since I was short on sausage patties). If you would like to know more about how to cook with TVP, please let me know in the comments section.  

Until next time, I send you peace, love, and good energy.

~Sharon

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BBQ Chik’n & Smashed Potatoes

Last week, I was in a time crunch. I only had 45 minutes to get a full meal on the table, and I didn’t have time to go shopping and it had to be a tasty and satisfying meal. Also, I was craving comfort food (Fall/Winter always makes me crave comfort foods!) I had to work with what was in my house … luckily, this is my specialty. This is the magical meal I came up with.  Serves two.

What you will need:

  • 2 Quorn Chik’n Cutlets
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of vegetable broth
  • BBQ sauce
  • salt, pepper, poultry seasoning
  • 6 medium to small organic red potatoes
  • broccoli florets

First, I switched the oven on to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, I quickly grabbed a small glass baking dish, threw down the cutlets, added the vegetable broth around the cutlets, seasoned the cutlets with the salt,pepper, and poultry seasoning, and then topped it all with a good pour of BBQ sauce over each cutlet. I then threw that in the oven. I simultaneously threw the cast iron skillet into the oven as well to warm it up. 

Next, I filled a large pot with water, seasoned it with salt, and then threw in the red potatoes which I poked with a fork. Turned, the burner on high and brought that to a boil. 

Next, I threw the broccoli florets into the steamer pot. (notice the amount of “throwing” in this recipe … it denotes just how fast I was working). However, I did not turn on the burner to the broccoli. That will happen when there is about 10 minutes of cooking time left. 

I kept checking on the chik’n to make sure I wasn’t burning it. After the potatoes were fork tender (about 20 minutes or so), I drained the potatoes, and took the cast iron skillet out of the oven and put the skillet on a burner set to medium. NOW turn on that burner for the broccoli to high to get the steaming going.

Put a couple tablespoons of oil or butter in the skillet, and then add the whole potatoes. Get out your potato masher, and squish the potatoes so they look something like this.

You’re going to fry the potatoes on both sides so they look like this:

Now take the bbq chik’n out of the oven, and plate up that dinner! I added some more bbq sauce on top. 

Who says quick can’t be delicious and satisfying?

What are your favorite go-to meals when time is on the line? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.

Until next time, I send you peace, love, and good energy.

~Sharon

Vegetarian Comfort Food: Beef-less Beef Stew

Fall always makes me crave comfort foods, and that includes rich and hearty stews. I wanted to take this all-American comfort-food classic and turn it into a vegetarian/vegan friendly dish that would satisfy beef-eaters, too.

What you will need:

In the bottom of a large stock pot over medium heat, swirl a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add onion, celery and mushrooms.  Cook until slightly browned. 

Add carrots, green beans and season with salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Add water, stock, and garbanzo beans. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes and mushroom base. Boil for 15-20 minutes.

In a separate skillet with a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil, brown the beefless tips over medium to medium high heat, being careful not to burn.

Once potatoes are tender, whisk the 1 cup of red wine with the three packets of vegetarian brown gravy and arrowroot powder. Add to stock pot. Add the browned beefless tips. Cook for 5 minutes until thick and the flavors have married.

Serve it up with toasted and buttered chunks of french bread and enjoy your hearty meal! My Sweetie exclaimed that this is what he always wanted beef stew to taste like. So – that’s one testimonial for you.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Have you tried turning old favorites into vegetarian/vegan -friendly meals?

Until next time, I send you peace, love, and good energy.

~Sharon

Zucchini Chips!

So, ever since I figured out I could dry stuff in my oven … I’ve been on a drying kick! I invested in some racks, I’ve been day dreaming of things I can dry, and even had some mess ups. Hooray for mess ups! If you’ve read my post on Apple Chips this is the same thing but with zucchinis and a savory twist. 

What you’ll need:

  • 2-3 zucchinis thinly (preferably large in diameter … you’ll see why later)
  • 1-2 T. safflower oil, or vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper
  • nutritional yeast
  • plastic bag (I used a produce bag)
  • cooling racks or a baking sheet lined with parchment/wax paper

How to make it:

  • Heat oven to 200 degrees F
  • Put the slices into the bag, add the oil, salt and pepper.
  • Twist the top of the bag closed to form a balloon full of zucchini and shake, shake, shake! …until evenly coated.
  • Lay in a single layer on the racks or baking sheets.
  • Sprinkle with the nutritional yeast

  • Bake for about 3 hours, checking frequently.

Okay, so here’s why you want to use zucchini that is large in diameter. The ones I used were skinny – so I got tiny chips. Still tasty – but tiny. I ate all of them the next day. True story.

Things not to dry: potatoes. Unless you wanna break your tooth and taste raw potato – don’t do it. I know from experience … minus the broken tooth – but I’m sure that would have happened if I bit a thick one.

Other flavors I want to try:

  • Chili Lime
  • Taco
  • Salt & Vinegar
  • Cumin

What else could I dry? Hmmmmmm? What do you want to turn into “chips?” Please comment with any suggestions, thoughts, or ideas.

Until next time, I send you peace, love, and good energy.

~Sharon

Crispy Tofu Bowl

Recipe inventing comes naturally to me … I am constantly thinking of new combinations in my head. Sometimes, I challenge myself to make an exciting dish out of what’s already in my kitchen/garden. I also don’t have much time, so I usually come up with these ideas when I’m at school or work … I jot a few things down, use some of the cooking techniques I’m familiar with, and then throw in a new twist.

Here’s yet another one of those concoctions … I wasn’t sure about it at first, but it turned out splendid and it got the stamp of approval from my Sweetie.

What you will need:

  • 8 ounces of tofu, thinly sliced.
  • a cup of broccoli florets
  • 15-20 shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
  • 1 lb or green beans, washed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • skillet
  • oil or butter
  • salt and pepper
  • Blue cheese crumbles for garnish

Saute` tofu over medium heat until crisp, season with salt and pepper, remove from pan and place into a bowl until later. 

Saute` mushroom caps until brown, season with salt a pepper, remove from pan and place in bowl with tofu. 

Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the green beans and broccoli and char.  Season with salt and pepper. This will cook the vegetables slightly while giving them a nice smoky flavor. 

Now push the vegetables to one side of the pan and add the tofu and mushrooms back to the pan to warm them through. 

To plate: Place a large scoop or two of vegetables to a bowl. Then put down a layer of mushroom, top with the tofu and then sprinkle on the blue cheese. The blue cheese gives a nice creamy element to the crisp veggies and tofu while adding a nice punch of flavor to the dish.

Please let me know what you think in the comments section. I always love hearing feedback.

Until next time, I send you peace, love, and good energy.

~Sharon

Cornbread Breakfast Skillet

Cornbread for breakfast? Yes! I just said that. I have an on-again/off-again relationship with eggs, and I want a healthy meal that’s not the same old boring breakfast items you can find anywhere.This is what my silly brain came up with this morning while I was drifting somewhere between sleep and consciousness.

I will note I was under a bit of stress as to what to do with the large amount of leftover cornbread from last night’s vegan chili extravaganza – which explains my wierd dreams of cornbread for breakfast today.

What you will need:

  • Some left over cornbread
  • 3 eggs
  • vegetarian sausage
  • 5 mushrooms, sliced thick
  • a bit of onions, sliced
  • 2 T. soy milk (or whatever milk you like)

In a skillet on medium, add some oil or butter. Then add the sausage, mushrooms, and onions to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. 

As you can see, I had two morning star sausage patties, and two links … I just used a mixture. Once everything is nice and brown and yummy, remove from the pan and set aside to be added back in later. (I chopped up the sausage into bite-sized chucks).

Next, scramble the eggs in a bowl with the soy milk. Season with salt and pepper. Then, crumble the cornbread into the bowl in bite sized chunks. This sort of reminded me of making french toast. I mixed the chunks around until the cornbread had absorbed most of the egg mixture (there was still a bit of egg at the bottom – no big deal)

Now be sure to add a pat of butter or some more oil to your pan before you put your egg-cornbread mixture in there. Add the mixture, and fry up over medium to medium low heat. You want the eggs to cook, not burn.

Once the eggs look cooked, and the cornbread is a bit toasted looking, add the mushrooms, sausage, and onions back in. Mix to combine and warm through.

I plated mine by topping it with grated cheese, some green onion, and added some hot sauce to the side. It was savory, satisfying, and filling! This is definitely not a boring breakfast.

How do you spice up your breakfast? Please tell me in the comments.

Until next time, I send you peace, love, and good energy.

~Sharon

Creamy Potato Soup (Vegan)

Over the last week it got very cold here in Nevada. We even had some snowfall in the mountains (hooray for ski season!) Although – it did botch my plans for a mini motorcycle trip on Friday. I’ll get over it – there will be plenty of opportunities to take Black Beauty out. (I call my bike Black Beauty, I’m a dork, I know – it’s awesome.)

What goes great with chilly weather? Fluffy sweaters, flannel blankets and warm creamy soups! I came home yesterday and whipped up this little number. I hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 3 celery stalks washed and sliced
  • 2 carrots cubed
  • 5-7 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 8 cups of vegetable broth, I used 1/2 mushroom base 1/2 veggie bullion cubes
  • 1 T. Rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed bay leaves
  • 2 T. brown rice flour (or whatever flour you want)
  • 2/3 c. unsweetened soy milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
  • 2 T. Nooch (optional)
  • Vegan sour cream for garnish
  • salt & pepper to taste

Serves 4. Use organic ingredients when you can.

First, give the bottom of your soup pot a good swirl or two of olive oil. Add onions, cook for 3-5 minutes, add celery, carrots, cook for another 3 minutes. 

Then add the broth, garlic, rosemary, bay leaves, and about half of the potato cubes. If you don’t want your potatoes to oxidize, cut and cube half of your potatoes for this part. Then we will put the other half in towards the end of the cooking process. 

Cook for 30-45 minutes. I had time to kill until my sweetheart got home so I cooked mine for about an hour. I’m sure this recipe could be cooked in under an hour.

Then get out your stick blender or regular blender and blend it all together to create the creamy base for your soup. If you use a blender, make sure to cool the soup slightly before blending. I used my stick blender and shoved it right into the pot on the stove.

Now add the milk, nooch and the rest of the potato cubes. Next, you’ll want to make a slurry in a jar using the 2 T. of flour and about 3 T. of water (or milk). A slurry thickens the soup, so you want to put the water and flour in a jar, put the lid on tight and shake it up, now add that to your soup. 

Cook for about 20 minutes until the potato cubes are soft and the soup is slightly thick and creamy. Make sure to check your seasonings … I found mine needed some additional salt and pepper.

Ladle a good amount into some soup bowls, top with a dollop of sour cream and enjoy the creamy goodness. I served mine with some toasted naan bread for dipping. It was delish! Bowls were licked clean last night – hooray for no dishes! (Kidding!)

What’s your favorite way to stay warm? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Until next time, I send you peace, love, and good energy.

~Sharon

Practical Ways to Be the Best You

The main reason I started this blog was to show people how easy it is to live healthy. Most people use the convenience of fast foods, prepackaged meals, and lack of time as excuses to lead unhealthy lives. I’m here to tell you that there are little things you can do everyday that lead to a healthier life style.

I am just a busy as next person: I work part-time as a paralegal, go to school full-time and still have time to maintain friendships and spend time with my Sweetheart. This “healthy life” does not happen over night. I certainly do not advocate drastically changing any habits – things just don’t stick well when you do it that way. My philosophy is to take small steps everyday … if you keep doing it long enough, they become habits, and habits turn into a lifestyle.

Starting a healthier life takes time and dedication. It has to be a personal decision to take care of yourself and be the best you can be. After all, the only people we can ever change is ourselves.

For me, it started with eating healthier. I enjoyed my new meals, cooking them, not having junk in my house, not drinking soda … it was great! I felt better, and I was sick less-often. Then I started exercising – and I hate, hate, hate exercising. Ask my Sweetheart – it’s still a struggle some days just to get me to go for a walk (I get very exhausted from school). I’m not an expert at being healthy, I just know the practical, rational, and easy ways to take steps towards the lifestyle that I wanted. What I see as a healthy lifestyle may not be for everyone, but it could give you some ideas.

So, how did I go from eating fast food and drinking soda to making my own toothpaste and talking smack about GMOs? Like I said – small steps everyday. This is a list – pick one and do it for a week, then add one more thing, and do that for a week … (that’s my secret to getting healthy)

  • Change what you are putting in your body. I went from bacon to turkey bacon to veggie bacon. (Yeah – I just said BACON)
  • Stop drinking soda – it’s killing you. Trust me.
  • Drink more water. And if you think you’re drinking enough … drink more.
  • Stretch! We hurt, achy, and sore from lack of movement.
  • Exercise. Walking, bike riding, yoga, hiking, martial arts, jumping jacks – whatever form you like. Do it!
  • Be spiritual. Whether that is church, praying, or meditation … take time each day to honor your family, think of the ones you love, be grateful for all of your blessings in life, and ask for the courage and strength to make it through the tough times.
  • Recycle. I’m not going to give you reasons – it is just the right thing to do. (Karma points!)
  • Think deeply about what you put on your body: lotions, shampoos, etc.
  • Love yourself enough to do what’s best for you. And don’t give up just because you slip up. Admit you slipped – or made the conscious decision to slip, move on, and get back on track.
  • Put down the alcohol or limit yourself.
  • Relax and breathe … from the belly.
  • No prepackaged or prepared foods.

From here you can move into the more advanced versions of healthy … or as some of my friends call it … I’m being a “hippie.” I would really like to think of my self as a modern-urban-hippie. I’m not sure that nickname will catch on.

Let me press this upon you once again, if you’re trying to get healthy – take small steps. If you try to do it all at once – you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Whatever you choose to do to make the step toward a healthy life I wish you the best of luck!!! You can do it!!!

Please comment with any questions or suggestions you may have for me. I love hearing the feedback.

If you want healthy recipes, want to try something new, or want natural alternatives to everyday products – feel free to peruse the rest of my posts for some fun ideas.

Until next time, I send you peace, love, and good energy.

~Sharon

Warm Homemade Apple Cider

Fall is one of my favorite times of year – it is full of great smells: frosty air, wet leaves, apples, and cinnamon. I love it!

As most of my followers know … I’ve been trying to get rid of a whole lot of apples… and I didn’t want to do just one recipe with apples because that would be boring. You know what else would be boring? If everything turned out right the first time. Right?! Right. /sheepish smile

Soooooo … I wanted to make apple cider. I love going to Apple Hill, they have some fantastic fresh ciders out there. But since I missed a lil trip out there this fall I thought it would be nice to make my own.

I’m going to be honest with you right now … I made apple cider … but it was a journey to put it nicely … so I will share with you the recipe I used and what I would do differently next time.

I used this recipe. Which is a great recipe … but since this was the first time, I ran into a few hitches. Nothing I couldn’t overcome! 🙂

Here is my journey in pictures: (if you read the recipe you’ll see what I’m doing … I just didn’t want to repeat it all since I followed that recipe)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cooking part was fine. I probably doubled the recipe.

Here are my thoughts on this process:

  • Have lots of cheese cloth on hand. I don’t think I had enough to properly strain the apple mush.
  • Apples have a lot of silt … I’m not sure if that’s the right word for it – but it perfectly describes the natural sediment that is produced from the process – so be aware that you probably won’t make a clear product.
  • I got sick of squeezing the apple mush through the cheese cloth (because I don’t think I had enough of it to do it properly) so I ran the rest of the apple mush through my juicer … which I’m not sure if it helped. But I did it and I wanted to confess that part. And then I ran it through a fine mesh sieve as I poured it into my glass containers. (Kind of a pain as I had to constantly keep rinsing out the sieve to remove the silt)
  • I wish I hadn’t added 1/2 cup of organic sugar. My cider turned out to be a little too sweet for me. I think it would have great flavor without it – but it’s up to you. I add a little water to mine when I warm it up.
  • This is time consuming, but a fun adventure if you’re just hanging around the house on a crisp fall weekend.
  • Your house will smell amazing while this is cooking!!!
  • Enjoy the fruits of your labor – because they were worth it. Even better – share this with the people you love … because there is nothing better than making something fun and sharing it.

What is your favorite part about fall? Do you have a special recipe? Share your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Until next time, I send you peace, love, and good energy.

~Sharon

Chipotle Burger Topped with Creamy Lentils on a bed of Baby Greens

I’ve been on a no-wheat kick recently. I’ve been trying to cut out bread, crackers, pasta, etc. I think the refined wheat might be destroying my digestive system… 

Trying to cut out pasta for a Sicilian chick is like asking me to rip my heart out and stay alive. Just not going to happen. But! … because I love my body and it was the only vessel I was given to live in … I might as well listen to it and take care of it. Right? (pause) Right. /sigh

Well, I already failed miserably this morning when I opted for fluffy blueberry pancakes for breakfast. (But, see … I don’t like eggs right now, and it was either the eggs or the pancakes … and I can rationalize behavior until I’m blue in the face…) Okay, I admit my failure, and the only way to make up for it is to make a delicious gluten-free dinner, no wheat allowed to this party. And since I just like to fly by the seat of my pants in the kitchen, this is what I made:

What you’ll need:

  • 2 Morning Star Black Bean Chipotle Burgers – or any veggie burger of your choice. These just have incredible flavor.
  • 15 to 18 ounces of lentils. (cooked/drained/rinsed)
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1/3 c. chopped roasted red pepper
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • 2 c. vegetable stock (I used mushroom stock base)
  • spices: I used thyme, rosemary, and a bay leaf
  • 2 ounces of goat cheese
  • mixed salad green of your choice
  • dressing of your choice

Note: All veggies are organic. Serves two.

  1. Chop up the onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Put in the bottom of a heavy stock pot with a turn or two of olive oil. Cook on medium until onions are translucent. Then season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook for a few more minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the stock. Since mine came from a base, I needed to reconstitute it with water. I added about 1.5 tsp. of base to 2 cups of water. I then added 1 bay leaf, and 1/2 tsp. each of rosemary and thyme.
  3. Add the roasted red peppers, stock,
    spices, and lentils. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook until lentils are tender but not mushy.
  4. Then grill or pan fry your burgers.
  5. Put the goat cheese in a small bowl and warm at 20 second intervals in the microwave to get it all creamy.
  6. Take your plate and make a bed of the greens on it.
    Drizzle with dressing. I drizzled mine  with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and then seasoned it with salt and pepper.
  7. When your burgers are done, place them on the bed of greens, then spread a layer of the creamy goat cheese over the top.
  8. Finally, top the burger with a scoop of lentils and serve.

I threw this together on a whim and had no idea whether it was going to be tasty. Luckily, my Sweetie approved it! And once again, there were no leftovers except for a bit of lentils.

Do you like to just whip up meals without a recipe? Or do you have to follow a recipe? Please comment.

Until next time, I send you peace, love, and good energy.

~Sharon