Friday Frolic #15 – No-Cook Vegan Oatmeal & Chia Seed Breakfast Pudding

Friday Frolic #15 – No-Cook Vegan Oatmeal & Chia Seed Breakfast Pudding

Good Friday morning, everyone! I hope this post finds each of you well and wending your way successfully through this last day before the long-awaited weekend.

As summer approaches, I find myself bidding a fond farewell to the hot, steamy breakfasts of winter yet needing to maintain my energy level with hearty breakfasts. As I have recently converted to a vegan / nutritarian dietary regimen (February of this year), I must admit to the challenge of remaining ‘full’ between meals sometimes. As I become more accustomed to the regimen, I’m learning different ways to sustain myself without adding steps or the need to ‘graze’ incessantly throughout the day. One of the things I’ve learned is eating a variety of whole grains and protein-laden seeds helps to keep me well-nourished and ‘full’ throughout the day. To that end, I’ve discovered the combination of whole grain oats and chia seeds for breakfast do the trick for me by providing the a long-lasting source of fuel without a complicated preparation process every morning.

This recipe works for non-vegans as well, simply substitute your regular dairy milk for the plant-based milk and you’re good-to-go – you can even add some yogurt if you’d like. I call it a pudding because of the consistency it takes on as it soaks overnight – creamy and delicious!

INGREDIENTS

½ Cup 100% whole grain old-fashioned oats (not quick cook oats)
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
2/3 Cups plant-based milk (soy, almond, cashew – you choose)
Sweetener to taste (honey, agave, raw sugar, maple syrup – you choose, just stay away from refined sugar)
Add-ins (raisins, fresh fruit, nuts, nut butter – you choose)

METHOD

Mix oats, chia seeds and milk in a container with a lid. Place in refrigerator overnight. In the morning, before serving, mix in the sweetener and add-ins of your choice. If you prefer your oatmeal warm, simply pop the opened container into the microwave for a minute before adding the sweetener and add-ins. Enjoy!

This is a terrific breakfast for the whole family because everyone can customize their own breakfast with their personal choice of sweetener and add-ins. It’s never the same breakfast no matter how many times you serve it because of the many variables available depending on what fruit is in season and what kind of milk or sweetener you use. Plus, since you do part of the preparation the night before, it’s quick and easy in the morning. This makes it the perfect weekend or busy weekday breakfast to get the family fueled up and out the door early. In fact, you can even mix in the sweetener and fruit and take it on the road when the need arises. No more excuses for skipping breakfast, the most important meal of the day.

Enjoy your weekend!

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Friday Frolics – Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Crispies

Friday Frolics – Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Crispies

Happy Friday! Just in time for the warm weather to roll in, here’s a no-bake cookie-like treat the kids can help make.

INGREDIENTS

2 Cups creamy peanut butter
3 Cups crisped rice cereal
3 Cups powdered sugar
¼ Cup melted butter
2-3 12 oz. pkgs chocolate chips (or a variety of flavors if you want to mix it up)
Parchment paper covered cookie sheets

METHOD

Mix together the peanut butter, cereal, powdered sugar and melted butter.
Form the mixture into balls – size of your choice, but I make mine the size of small meatballs.
Melt chocolate chips one package at a time in the microwave.
Dip the crispy balls in the melted chocolate to coat.
Place the coated crispies on parchment paper covered cookie sheets to harden in the refrigerator.

Baking chips come in a variety of flavors such as milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, white chocolate, butterscotch, and mint chocolate so it’s easy to have a variety that everyone will love. Try mixing up what type of nut butter you use – try almond or cashew butter instead of peanut butter to see what happens.

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday Frolic Post #13 – ‘Stained Glass’ Cake Plate

Friday Frolic Post #13 – ‘Stained Glass’ Cake Plate

Welcome to Friday Frolics on a rainy Friday in New Mexico!

This little project is fun and easy with delightful results using things available from the local discount store’s craft department. Cake plates have almost become part of a by-gone era but I challenge you to find uses for this little beauty in your everyday routine.

Supplies

2 Tubs Clear Multi-Color Plastic ‘pony’ beads (1500 per tub)
1 – 12” round cake or pizza pan (with lip)
1 – 3-6” glass candlestick
E6000 glue

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Pour beads into pan – spread out evenly. Make a design with the colors, if desired.
Bake beads for 30-40 minutes until they’re all melted.
Carefully remove the pan to a cooling rack – allow beads to cool in the pan (20-30 minutes).
Turn pan over to pop out the cooled disk.
Glue the candlestick to the center of the disk using the E6000 glue. Allow to ‘set up’ for 24 hours before use.

Enjoy your new cake plate this weekend!

Friday Frolics #9

Friday Frolics #9

The weather has been so nice here in New Mexico this week. I am starting to feel a lot like spring and summer are almost here. Last week for our Friday Frolic we were in the garden setting up some top soil planting beds. This week, let’s move back inside and play with our hair for a bit.

This week I’m sharing a couple of home hair remedies that have saved me buckets of money through the years. Now that I have very short hair, I don’t need them as much but they still come in handy in a pinch.

The first is the ever suspicious ‘dry shampoo.’ Many people suspect that it doesn’t do anything, but a good one will actually absorb excess oils and product build up extending the time between shampoos when needed. In addition to the suspicion that they don’t work, if you’ve ever tried one of the store bought kind, they stink (my opinion). Literally, they have an odorous quality to them so I was always self-conscious about using them. So, after much trial and error with various brands, I went back to a tried-and-true recipe my mother used on me as a child – simple, effective, and affordable.

D-I-Y DRY SHAMPOO

Ingredients

¼ cup corn starch

¼ cup baking soda

5-10 drops of your favorite essential oil (depends on how strong you want the fragrance)

Mix ingredients together well. Store in an airtight container until you’re ready to use it.

Instructions

Apply to scalp and roots of hair in sections with a big, fluffy makeup brush.

Let it sit for a few minutes to soak up the oils. Brush out thoroughly with a natural boar bristle brush.

Style your hair as usual. This process adds body to fine, limp hair too so it can be added to clean hair as well.

This second recipe is for ‘surf spray.’ This product helps make your hair have the ‘beachy’ waves like you’ve been playing in the surf all day. This works best on hair that has a bit of natural wave or curl but also works if you just want a scrunchy effect.

D-I-Y SURF SPRAY

Ingredients

3 squirts water-based hair gel (this can be the cheap stuff)

3 teaspoons Epsom salts

¼ cup (4 ounces) warm tap water (warm to dissolve Epsom salts)

Spray bottle

Instructions

Mix ingredients together in the spray bottle, making sure the Epsom salts are well dissolved.

Shake before each use. Spray on hair and scrunch to achieve the desired effect. If your hair tends to be on the straighter side, you can scrunch, then gently twirl sections to create the wave effect. Let your hair air dry.

Enjoy your weekend!

 

Friday Frolics #8

Friday Frolics #8

This week, my Tuesday Treasured Tidbit post was about my having planted my baby lettuce in bags of top soil instead of building raised beds or, alternatively, digging in tons of compost into the backyard of this rental house. Wow! What a response I received to that post! Since it received so much attention, and I received so many questions about details, I decided to make my Friday Frolic all about what I know about Top Soil Bag Gardening.

First of all, don’t over think it. Buy plain top soil – no additives necessary – which is usually fairly inexpensive. In my area, the 1 cubic foot bags are about $2.00 each.

Second, rough clear the area you’re going to use for your garden. By this I mean to clear large brush items but there’s no need to clear existing grass and the like. The bags will smother it out for you. During the growing season, just keep the pathways between the bags clear of weeds and trim the grass that grows.

Third, speaking of pathways, plan a bit before you lay down the bags and start planting so you leave pathways between the bags wide enough for walking and working. You won’t want to be stumbling around in the bags while trying to prune and harvest.

Fourth, puncture the underside of each bag six to eight times to allow for drainage. There are a couple of schools of thought on this subject. Some folks puncture first, then plop down the bags. Others, like me, puncture the bags after cutting out the topside just before planting using a long screwdriver thrust down through the soil and through the bottom side of the bag.

Fifth, just before planting, use scissors or other sharp blade to cut out the topside of the bag, leaving about a two-inch border all around like a frame (to hold in the soil and moisture). This is the point at which I plunge the long screwdriver down through the soil and the bottom side of the bag six to eight times to create the drainage holes.

lettuce

Sixth, start planting! You can plant seeds or seedlings – your choice. This style of gardening also allows you to start a bit earlier than planting directly in the ground because the soil is warmer because it’s above ground level.

I recommend sticking with the almanac recommendations as far as planting goes. For instance, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, some hardy herbs, and potatoes are some plants that I can start this early in my area. I need to wait until mid to late spring to put in my peppers, tomatoes and squash transplants.

Finally, after the season, just pull out the dead plants to dispose of them. Lift up the bags and dispose of them. If you happen to be in a rental property and leaving before the next season, spread out the soil to enhance the surrounding area and leave an improved space for the next tenant. If you’ll be there for the next gardening season, bank up the piles to overwinter so you’ll have rich, ready-to-go platforms on which to place your bags for the next season. After a couple of seasons, all you’ll need to do to have ‘real’ raised beds is build the surrounds for them!

Other questions I received pertained to how much can be planted in each bag. There’s no one answer to that question because it depends on the plant. Heavy feeders like tomatoes need to be limited to one plant per 1 cubic foot of soil. If you’re using larger bags of soil, you can put more plants in each bag. The best advice is to read the tag that comes with the plant or the instructions on the seed packet. Now, having said that, keep in mind, those spacing recommendations are based on average soil nutrients. Packaged top soil is a bit richer than that so you can space the plants/seeds a bit closer. I usually go by the recommendations given in my ‘square foot gardening’ book. I’ve been a proponent of square foot gardening for years because the principle is that if your soil is good, you don’t need a lot of space to have a successful garden. Besides quite a few good books out there, great information is available on the internet including planting charts. Using bags of top soil is a great, informal, low commitment way of getting started with that style of gardening without all of the digging. Just keep your mind open as you consider how to set up the ‘square foot grid’ to identify how and where to plant each type of plant. As the seasons go by you will be creating the perfect, amended soil base for a more formalized arrangement.

square foot

Whew! I feel like I crammed a lot of information into this post. I hope it helped those of you who were hungry for more information about this simplified gardening method. Let’s keep the conversation going – enjoy your weekend!

 

Friday Frolics #7 – Comfy Crockpot Rice Pudding

Friday Frolics #7 – Comfy Crockpot Rice Pudding

One of the downsides of living with chronic illness/pain is some days, it’s too much to do much of anything, even sit at a keyboard. Yesterday (Friday) was one of those days. I managed to get the one sentence and photo up for the Photography 101 assignment and run one errand, then crashed for the rest of the day.

In recompense, today I am sharing with you one of my all-time favorite comfort food recipes: Comfy Crockpot Rice Pudding. It’s a bit different from what most of us think of as Grandma’s Rice Pudding because, first of all, it’s made overnight in a crockpot and, secondly, it’s made with brown rice, not white. OK, before everyone groans at once, you won’t even know it when you dive into this scrumptious delight the morning after, I promise. Let’s get started:

COMFY CROCKPOT RICE PUDDING

Ingredients

1-1/2 Cups Brown Basmati Rice

3-1/2 Cups Water (or soy or almond milk)

A drizzle of olive oil (trust me)

1-1/2 to 2 Teaspoon Cinnamon (to taste)

1/2 Teaspoon Cardamom or Mace (if you can’t find Cardamom)

1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg

1/2 Cup Raisins

2-1/2 Cups Milk, Heavy Cream, Almond or Cashew Milk

Honey for drizzling

Garnishes (if desired): toasted coconut, almond slivers, chopped walnuts, pecans or cashews

 Instructions

Place rice and water (or milk) in crock pot insert, cover, and cook on low overnight (about 8 hours).

In the morning, about 15 minutes before serving, stir in ½ cup milk of choice and cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and raisins. There will be a bit of crunchiness around the edges – scrape it off and stir it into the mix.

Divide pudding into four servings, pour ½ cup milk of choice over each serving, garnish as desired and drizzle with honey for sweetening.

Enjoy to your heart’s delight. See you next Friday.

 

Friday Frolics #6 – Cleopatra Face Masque

Friday Frolics #6 – Cleopatra Face Masque

Winter be gone! I, for one, am fed up with the torture my skin is going through with the blasts of cold air outside and the dry air inside. My heart goes out to the people who live in parts of the world where the weather is harsher than where I live. People assume New Mexico doesn’t experience four seasons; they’re wrong. We have all four seasons – many times in the same week!

Believe me, this is hard on the skin and it doesn’t get any easier the older one gets. So, I thought now was a good time to share what I like to call my Cleopatra Face Masque. I feel like a queen afterwards because my skin feels so smooth and silky and the fragrance is divine – after all, it contains frankincense and lavender! Don’t worry, you can pick these up at your local health food store and a little goes a long way. By the way, this is not just for the ladies out there – the gentlemen in the crowd will benefit from this treatment and enjoy the fragrance as well. This might even be a good couples’ activity, if you think about it.

The masque is also a scrub for exfoliation and can be used on your face, hands, pretty much anywhere you have skin that needs softening. Additionally, honey, lavender and frankincense are all naturally antiseptic / antibacterial agents so this is a very ‘clean’ concoction for your skin. The recipe I share here is for a portion size I use on my face and hands so if you need more for larger expanses, just adjust the ingredients in relative proportions and you’ll be fine. If you are sensitive to fragrances on your skin, you can leave the frankincense and lavender out of the masque itself. Put a couple drops of each in some water warming on the stove while you sit with the masque on to experience the aromatherapy benefits they impart.

CLEOPATRA FACE MASQUE

Ingredients

1 Tbsp Baking Soda
1 Tbsp Honey (raw is best)
2 drops Frankincense Essential Oil*
2 drops Lavender Essential Oil*

Instructions

Mix Baking Soda and Honey together into a paste adding more Honey if needed to make it creamy enough to apply to the skin. Add in the Essential Oils and mix well. *To be sure you get the right formulation, when you purchase the Essential Oils, tell the salesperson at the store you will be putting them in a masque to apply to the skin, not using them in candles.

Massage the masque onto the skin (avoid eyes and lips) and relax for 10 minutes. Personally, I like to kick back in my recliner with lovely music playing and cucumber slices on my eyes. Oh yes! I go for the entire spa treatment when it’s my turn, people!

Apply warm, moist cloth over the masque to loosen, then wipe it off. Splash face with lukewarm water to remove any remnants and pat dry with a clean towel. The skin will be rosy, slightly tingly, and refreshed. Because the essential oils are so relaxing, this is an excellent treatment to do at bedtime after a stressful day.

If you have any of the masque left over, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Since honey doesn’t spoil, it will keep indefinitely as long as it isn’t exposed to the air to become granulated.

Enjoy your pampering session and your weekend – until next time…

Friday Frolic #4 – A Spicy Blend

Friday Frolic #4 – A Spicy Blend

Welcome to another Friday Frolic!

Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of articles, news stories, and blog comments about minimizing salt in our diets. Combining that with my recent health scare, I’ve been working furiously this week to revamp my cooking style, including my myriad of spice blends. In addition to minimizing salt, I’ve been seeking out and eliminating MSG (monosodium glutamate) and HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) from my diet as I have discovered they are, indeed, poison to my system. The results? Salt-free, gluten-free, healthier food.

To that end, the first spice blend I revamped is my favorite – my Spicy Blend, which started out as a taco seasoning, then was tweaked here and there until I realized I used it on everything from chicken to vegetables – raw and cooked – so I changed the name to Spicy Blend.

It’s very simple and can be changed up in many different ways to suit your own tastes – if you like more or less cumin or oregano, by all means, make those adjustments. If you’d like some salt, throw some of that in too. I did originally come up with this as a salt substitute, which is why there’s no salt listed. I would suggest if you are going to add salt, add sea salt, as the sodium content is lower so it doesn’t have the same negative results as plain table salt. Additionally, as you’re purchasing your spices to assemble this blend, please check the labels to ensure there are no unnecessary additives such as MSG or HFCS hiding in any of them (you may be surprised – I was).

SPICY BLEND

Ingredients

1 Tbsp Chili Powder
1-1/2 Tsp Cumin
1-1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder
1 Tsp Paprika
1/2 Tsp Oregano
1/2 Tsp Onion Powder
1/4 Tsp Black Pepper
1/4 Tsp Crushed Red Pepper

Instructions

Stir together all the ingredients.
Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

This recipe yields about three to four tablespoons, which is a good place to start until you figure out what adjustments you want to make. Once you have fine-tuned the recipe to your liking, increase the quantities to accommodate how much you’ll need for a three to six month period to save time in the kitchen.

Enjoy your Spicy Blend weekend…