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Posts Tagged ‘good eats’

  1. I Know Your “Chicken”

    December 21, 2015 by admin


    12341322_10208364235247228_2027019583423696611_nWinter is soup season, as much at the TR Home as anywhere.

    Chicken noodle soup is a classic that many people remember fondly from childhood, and treasure on a chilly day, or when they are a bit under the weather.

    But we’re a vegan/vegetarian house!  How can we have all the yummy of goodness of chicken noodle soup while staying within our dietary guidelines?

    Enter: “Chicky” Noodle Soup, a delicious version of the classic that can be made vegan or vegetarian while keeping all the yumminess you expect and remember.

    “Chicky” Noodle Soup


    1 Package Beyond Vegan Chicken Strips (or equivalent)

    2 Carrots

    2 Celery Stalks

    1 Onion

    2 Garlic Cloves

    4 -6 Cups Veggie Broth* (or Water)

    1 teaspoon Oregano

    1/2 teaspoon Rosemary

    Salt & Pepper to taste

    2 Cups Noodles**


    1.  Partially defrost vegan chicken strips, enough so they can be diced.

    2.  Saute Onions, Garlic and Carrots in bottom of soup pot for six minutes or so.

    3.  Chop or grind rosemary in a spice grinder or with a mortal & pestle.  Add to sautéed vegetables.

    4.  Add diced vegan chicken.

    5.  Add broth or water and bring to a simmer.

    6.  Add noodles and cook 10 minutes until soft.

    7.  Add Salt and Pepper to taste.


    Invite a friend over to share!

     *  Make your own veggie stock:  The next time you chop onions, peel carrots or use celery, take the peels and bits you don’t want (so long as they are not spoiled!) and boil in water for 45 minutes to an hour.  Things to include in your veggie broth: onions, carrots, celery, parsley.   Thing to avoid in your broth: potato peels, pepper innards, beets.   If you don;t have veggie broth, you can use a vegan vegetable bouillon, available in most groceries.

    **  What noodles to use:  For a more traditional ‘Chicky’ Noodle Soup, use egg noodles.  But these are not vegan.  If you like a vegan soup, we like to use bowtie pasta.  As it gets very cooked, the bowties partially unfold leaving large, flat noodles of deliciousness.

  2. Mocha Test

    August 11, 2015 by admin

    IMG_1498As you know, TRMom eased up dramatically on the vegan diet and now resides happily once again in a vegetarian space.  While vegan, TRMom couldn’t have the milk substitutes at most eateries due to a bad reaction with carrageenan.  This resulted in a gourmet coffee dry spell of over 6 months.  But now, TRMom is back in the espresso froo-froo drink saddle and living large!

    And her favorite drink is a hot Mocha, no whip.

    Tip1: It is not frugal to purchase coffee drinks rather than making them at home. There is really no way to argue out of this fact. But everyone needs a treat every now and then.  You can also save costs with coupons, membership clubs, etc.

    Here are our local determinations thus far:

    • Java Cat is the winner by far in the art of creating a Mocha. Whether serving up a hot or cold drink, they outdo their competition. You can actually savor the foam and there is no Mocha-sludge. It takes a bit of time to create this drink but the wait is worth it. Well done!
    • Moka is the runner up. They are about .50cents cheaper than Java Cat, but Moka struggles to deliver the same quality. Where they win over the competition is the incredibly friendly staff, the stickers on the lids, and the little candy treats.
    • Crema Cafe comes in third.  Honestly at times they seem just too busy to deliver a fantastic espresso drink.  It isn’t that their Mocha is terrible.  It just has no thought behind it.  It tastes fine, but more like a hot chocolate than a Mocha.  It isn’t memorable.
    • Starbucks trails well behind the pack.  The Mocha they deliver is sludgey and a little too sweet.  You don’t save on cost and there is no delightful staff interaction.  It is definitely a last choice destination.  Honestly, a Mocha from McDonalds is just as satisfying as the one you get at Starbucks but far cheaper.


    Tip2:  If frugality is key and you have access to a pod machine, you can find Mocha pods at any grocery.  The end product is quite satisfying and certainly cheaper than any coffee shop.  Of course, there is an environmental impact to pod usage.

    TRMom is looking forward to digging into the local coffee scene even deeper.  What’s your favorite coffee spot, either locally or nationwide?

  3. Let The Sun Shine

    July 21, 2015 by admin

    IMG_3141Our new, sun-filled yard has allowed us to rediscover the joys of sun tea- and pass this pleasure on to our kiddos.

    Spending most of the day flooded in sunshine, our backyard is the perfect place for making sun tea!  You can make sun tea in any large glass jar- a throughly washed pickle or olive jar can work quite well.  But we picked up a sun tea jar at our favorite grocery for a few bucks – and it includes a dispenser tap at the bottom.  This way even our youngest can pour himself a glass of tea without difficulty.

    The recipe is simple: fill you jar with cold water and add a few bags of tea.  We use five with our approximately half-gallon jar.  Use more if you like a stronger tea.   You may find different tea flavors require different strengths to turn out the way you like.  Let the tea sit in a bright part of your yard for most of the day- the longer it sits there the stronger it gets.

    Tip:  If it gets too strong, you can water it down with water or ice cubes when you drink it.

    We keep our tea in the fridge and it cools down quickly to just the right temperature.  Add ice as desired.

    Our youngest loves watching the tea darken during the day, and particularly enjoys sampling the fruit flavored teas.  Try it out and find your favorite flavor!

  4. Confessions Of A Mostly Vegan

    July 12, 2015 by admin

    80841_asparagus_mdQuite a few months ago TRMom decided to embrace a switch from vegetarian to vegan.  The decision was 20% political and 80% dietary.  The main push was that TRMom just wasn’t feeling well and wanted to try and figure out why.

    And it worked!  We finally discovered after years of exploration that TRMom can’t digest carrageenan.  (If anyone else suffers from a similar fate, please share as TRMom feels rather isolated.)  Many new and delicious vegan foods were uncovered, and many new recipes tested out.  And the dedication to vegan eating helped her drop a few pesky pounds while feeling better overall.

    But TRMom isn’t 100% happy being a vegan.  It is restrictive in a way that is hard to currently balance.  And life is too short to suffer through something entirely under your own control.  TRMom has decided to be a “mostly-vegan.”

    And not to feel bad about it.

    This means that she won’t actively avoid dairy products or eggs. If there is a veggie burger on a menu, that is good enough for TRMom.  There won’t be a five minute ask and response with the server on whether or not the veggie burger has cheese or eggs in the recipe.

    And if TRMom feels like ordering a slice of pizza, then bring it on.  But there won’t be any compromises with vegetarianism.  The choice she made to not eat meat has been holding over three decades long and is a true part of what defines TRMom.

    No matter what your dietary choices from Vegan to Kosher to Meat lover, it should make you happy. As with most things in life, moderation can be the key to successful change and happiness. TRMom looks forward to maintaining a lot of her vegan ways- just not exclusively. And that is the right thing for her at this point.



  5. Come Kale Or High Water

    July 6, 2015 by admin

    IMG_1266We are always looking for ways to introduce nutritious snacking option to our kids.

    Kale chips are a low calorie, super easy, and very tasty choice that you can make at home in less than ½ hour.

    Pick up a good bunch of Kale from your local farmer’s market or favorite grocery store.  Wash the leaves and then dry all of them thoroughly.  Next, cut the leafy green away from the stalk.  But don’t just throw out those stalks!  You can save them for soup stock!  Or chop them down and saute them into your next stir fry.  Or feed them to bunnies!IMG_1263

    We hear kale is pretty easy to grow in your garden.  We haven’t tried that yet, but we’ll let you know when we do!

    Tip1: If you fold the kale along the stalk, you can easily cut straight down to separate both halves from the stem.

    Use your fingers to rip down the leafy parts into chip size pieces and put them into a large bowl.  Toss theKale with olive oil and coarse kosher sea salt and set aside.  Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil or parchment paper.

    Tip2: We put a coat of olive oil on our tinfoil.

    Distribute the Kale in an even layer on the cookie sheet.  Cook at 350degrees for 10 minutes.  Rotate your tray and perhaps flip your kale.  Cook for an additional 10 minutes or until you’ve got your desired crispness.


  6. Stok It!

    June 28, 2015 by admin

    IMG_1123We had been discussing the purchase of a grill now that we had our own property and yard. And with careful planning, we had some money stashed away for these types of bonus purchases.

    Our STOK drumgrill is a welcome addition to our new home!

    We stumbled upon this orange beauty on a recent trip to our favorite box store. A quick google search proved their price (with 5% off and Redcard member discount) was not to be beat. We eagerly purchased it.

    We so infrequently grilled out in the past, that we were a little apprehensive about the functionality of the STOK and the ease of preparing our meals. But our new grill outperformed all our worries.

     Assembly – under ½ hour with the need for a screwdriver.

     Initial heating – discovered that we needed a few applications of lighter fluid to really bring our grill up to temp rather than simply lighting paper as the instructions recommended.

     Performance – We had a nice distribution heat on the main surface with no hot spots. But we highly recommend the purchase of a heat glove to handle the various accessories and lid.

     Clean up – It was a breeze. The entire grill was cooled down in less than 3 hours.

    Tip: Briquettes are a fire hazard. Be sure to properly handle their final disposal.

    We enjoyed our STOK grill meal so much that we are already planning future meals and an entire season of enjoyment.

    We did establish safety rules for our kids. Our grill is set up on a small concrete patio and our TRFamily rule is that when we are grilling, you are NOT allowed on the entire concrete area without asking permission of an adult first. Be sure to discuss safety and grilling with your family, too.

    Enjoy the summer!

  7. Hip To Clips

    June 22, 2015 by admin

    1-1232906989AtaJOur cupboards have numerous opened bags of chips, cookies, crackers, and nuts.  It is an epidemic of partially consumed snack foods that typically turn stale before anyone finishes an entire bag.  We favor Ball jars for a lot of snack foods, like nuts, some crackers, and cookies.  But chips just don’t work well in our glass Ball containers.

    We tried rubber bands to keep bags closed.  And it worked for a while.  But the kids tend to struggle with the bands or flat out refuse to use them after getting painfully snapped on occasion.  (Also, loose rubber bands in our house present a health hazard for our cats who will try to eat anything they can get their little claws upon.)

    The big clips labeled for chips in most box stores just don’t last long and they tend to slide off the bag.

    And then we discovered binder clips- regular office grade binder clips.  A box of 12 large binder clips cost around $3.50.  Compare that to a decorative selection of “chip” clips priced around $7 for just 10 clips.  Binder clips are definitely the frugal choice.  And binder clips stay put in place!IMG_3162

    Tip1:  Your unused binder clips can be stored right on the shelf where your chips are housed.  Just clip over the shelf and fold back the arms.  So not only do they work well, but they are always on hand!

    They even come in fancy colors (though that typically raises the price) and an assortment of sizes.

    Tip2: The smaller sized clips are perfect for bags of frozen vegetables stocked in the freezer!

    What are your food storage life hacks?

  8. Mac & Cheese: Variations

    April 15, 2015 by admin

    IMG_3001 Our TR family loves comfort food!  Our feel-good dishes bring a satisfying end to a hard day or a work great as for rainy day pick-me-up.

    One of our longtime favorites is Macaroni & Cheese.  Everyone in our family can dig deep into a piping hot casserole of cheesy noodles any day of the week.

    We long ago perfected a satisfying, quick and easy homemade mac&cheese.  It tastes fantastic and goes together in just a few minutes.

    TRMom’s recent shift to a vegan diet may seem like it spelled the end of mac&cheese night, but it did not.  We just reworked the recipe a bit and use two separate casserole dishes.  We can easily make two versions of mac&cheese: the traditional favorite and a vegan version that TRMom adores.

    First up, the Vegetarian Version:


    1/2 Pound dry macaroni pasta

    1/3 Cup Cream Cheese

    3 T Butter

    1/2 to 3/4 Cup Shredded Cheddar

    Salt & Pepper to Taste

    1/4 Cup Bread Crumbs


    1.  Bring a pot of water to boil.  Add dry pasta and boil for ten minutes.

    2.  Drain pasta and return to the same still-hot pot.

    3.  Mix in Butter and Cream Cheese, and stir until fully melted.

    4.  Mix in shredded cheddar and stir thoroughly.

    5.  Transfer to an oiled casserole dish.

    6.  Sprinkle bread crumbs on top, and bake at 350 for fifteen minutes.IMG_3002


    The Vegan Version:


    1/2 Pound dry macaroni pasta

    3 T Earth Balance

    1/2 Cup Teese

    Salt & Pepper to Taste

    1/4 Cup Bread Crumbs


    1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add dry pasta and boil for ten minutes.

    2. Drain pasta and return to the same still-hot pot.

    3. Mix in Earth Balance and stir until fully melted.

    4. Mix in Teese and stir thoroughly.

    5. Transfer to an oiled casserole dish.

    6. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top, and bake at 350 for fifteen minutes.

    We usually make a much smaller portion of vegan mac&cheese, since it is for one serving.  You can scale down or up as necessary to feed your hungry crew.

  9. Healthful Eating

    March 13, 2015 by admin

    In a recent issue of New Scientist, we read an article about eating that echoed points we’ve made ourselves: if you want you and your family to eat healthy food, have healthy food around you.  Now our point is backed up by Science!

    NEw ScientistThe article, “Easy as Pie” summarized some research by pychologist Brian Wansink.  Dr. Wansink put a lot of study into what people do that helps them eat healthier meals. Even if we don’t always do these things ourselves, it all made perfect sense.

    Although we don’t obsess about portion sizes and such at our house, we do try to encourage healthy eating habits. Too much snacking and too big portions can really add up. Spoiler Alert! We’re not twenty any more, so those extra bits tend to stick with us a bit more easily than they did when we were young’uns.

    Some of the research really triggered our interests in psychology:

    • Plates.  We love our Fiesta plates.  But did you know which color plate you use might affect how much you put on it.  It depends on the food and the plate.  If you have high contrast between your plate color and the food, you’ll take less.  So use light colored plates for dark meals, and dark plates for light colored foods.  It will help resolve any issue with too large portions.
    • Where you serve from makes a difference too.  If you keep your dinner serving dishes on the side-boy or on the stove, you’ll take less than if you pass the food at the table.  Also, smaller serving spoons helps you take a smaller portion.  This could come in handy, if you have unexpected guests and need to stretch a meal.
    • The food that’s in sight is the food you’re more likely to eat- a point we’ve raised in past posts. So fruit on the table becomes a snack, chips stashed in the cupboard- maybe less so. Salad greens that are out at dinner are more likely to be eaten. Sugar on the counter is more likely to go into your coffee than sugar stored out of view.
    • If over pouring alcohol is a concern for you, consider buying taller, skinnier glassware.  Even pro bartenders over-pour when given short, wide glasses of the same volume as tall skinny ones.  The bartenders will do this even after you point out their over pouring.  So if you want to keep the drinks light, use taller glasses.

    These little tips won’t instantly turn us all into svelte gods and goddesses, but paying some attention to where and how food is served and stored in your home might help you stick to whatever healthy eating goals you want to reach.

  10. Most Important Meal of the Day

    March 8, 2015 by admin

    TRDad is a professional chef part time and a stay at home dad full time. He is a the foundation of this family.

    IMG_9862Beyond cooking, TRDad is also a chauffeur, nurse, disciplinarian, teacher – the list goes on. He is always quick with a hug and loves heading out on a family bike ride.  We are blessed in countless ways but TRMom considers not having to prepare dinner after working all day as one of her favorite blessings.

    Since TRDad is so selfless, weekend breakfasts are one small way that TRMom tries to give back to him. This simple gesture of is now a tradition in our home.

    While TRDad is out walking our pup in the morning, TRMom gets to work. Typically, eggs are served up over easy or as an omelet, on top of or with cheesy toast. A hot cup of coffee on the side, and TRDad is ready to welcome another day.

    It may not seem like much but the tiniest acts of kindness can make a huge difference to someone!