Vegan Mac n’ Cheese

vegan mac n' cheese
Going gluten free and dairy free hasn’t been all that difficult.  There are a lot of GREAT options now to replace foods that contain gluten and dairy foods.  I expected it to be a lot harder and I expected going dairy free would be the hardest.  It turns out that I don’t miss dairy.  It has been going gluten free that has been the hardest.  I LOVE bread and pasta.  I have since discovered gluten free pasta.  For a pasta that is most like wheat pasta, my favorite is Barilla gluten free pasta.
I made this mac n’ cheese this week.  I served it in my favorite Le Creuset mini cocettes.
And I added fresh, seeded, and chopped jalapeños from the garden.  Yes, it’s December 5th and I still have peppers growing!
The day I made these, my youngest son (he’s 18) came home from school and these were sitting on the counter.  He asked if he could have one.  I of course said, “yes”.  I didn’t offer that they were dairy free and gluten free.  He picked one up and headed off to his room with his after school snack 😉  15 minutes later he was back downstairs asking if he could have another one or if these were supposed to be for dinner.  I told him “no, I just wanted to try to new recipe out today because these are gluten free and dairy free”.  His reply was, “Wow! really.  I liked it a lot and I had no idea!”  I smiled and gave myself a check mark for a “mom win”.
Give this a try.  Finding nutritional yeast can sometime be tricky.  I order mine from Amazon.  I like the NOW brand.
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (do not substitute with any other yeast)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard (dijon or yellow)
  • 16 ounces Elbow or shell pasta of choice (gluten-free, if needed)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • paprika , for garnish

Optional:

  • seeded and chopped fresh jalapeños
Instructions
  1. Prepare the pasta according to package directions.

  2. While the pasta is cooking, combine the cashews, lemon juice, water, salt, nutritional yeast, chili powder, garlic, turmeric, cayenne (if using), and mustard in a high speed blender and blend until silky smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add 2-4 more tablespoons of water and blend again.

  3. Once the pasta is tender, drain and rinse it, then return the pasta to the pot and stir in the cheese sauce (and optional fresh jalepenos). Season to taste and serve warm!

    Recipe from Detoxinsta

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Chocolate Coconut Almond Cookies (GF, DF with vegan substitution)

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Chocolate Coconut Almond Cookies (GF & dairy free with vegan substitution)
Ingredients:
• 1 ¼ cup almond flour
• 1 Tsp. cacao powder (I used Viva Naturals)
• 1/3 cup coconut sugar (or light brown sugar)
• 1/2 tsp. baking powder
• ¼ tsp sea salt
• 1 Tsp. unrefined coconut oil
• ½ tsp. vanilla extract
• 1 Tsp. pure maple syrup
• *1 egg
• ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
• ½ cup almond slices
Instructions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F
2. In a large mixing bowl (or stand mixer bowl) stir in almond flour, baking powder, cacao powder, light brown sugar, and sea salt
3. Add in vanilla extract, maple syrup, egg, and coconut oil. Mix on medium speed in stand mixer until dough clumps together (it will be like 2 clumps)
4. Add in shredded coconut and almond slices and mix in on low speed.
5. Shape dough into approx. 1” balls and place on baking sheet with a silpat mat or on parchment paper. Press down to flatten the balls to about ½” thickness.
6. Bake until edges begin to brown. Took about 10 minutes in my oven.
7. Remove and let cool.
*Substitute the egg with 2 Tsp. chia seeds soaked in hot water to soften

December 5th, 2017

Hello!  My gosh, it’s been 4+ years since I have posted!  So much has changed in the last 4 years.  We moved from our suburban PUD home to a fixer upper farmhouse just a few months after my previous blog entry.  We have been busy fixing it up.

As you can see from the 2nd picture below, the exterior has had quite of a bit of work done.  The front is a recent picture.  It too has had a lot of work done.  The 2nd picture was mid renovations.  We screened in the rear porch, added an outdoor living area with a ventless gas fireplace and a tv.  We also added a grill area outside the screened patio.

The interior has had even more work done than the inside.  Hope over to my IG page to see more pictures https://www.instagram.com/thefarmhouserenovations/

We also are now grandparents of a beautiful, almost 2 year old little girl named Scarlett.  And we are expecting a grandson in early April!  We are so excited and blessed to have these babies in our family.

As for gardening and cooking.  I still garden but on a bit larger scale then I had at the previous house.   Though I have had some health issues.  What started as an injury from a fall almost 2 years ago has grown into several issues.  Turning 50 was not joke.  We really do not heal or bounce back from injuries and illness as quickly as we did when we were young.  The struggles with the daily pain has caused me to limit my gardening a bit, sell off most of my farm animals, and (here is the good part) make big changes in the way I cook.  So, most of my recipes from here on will focus largely on healthy cooking with options for vegan, gluten free, and dairy free.  If you do not avoid animal fat, gluten, or dairy, I will when I can offer alternatives to DF, GF, and vegan.  But, you might want to give the healthy options a try!  You might find that you cant eat a cookie and it be healthy!

Thanks, for reading.  Here’s to a re-new of this blog.  I look forward to hearing from you!

~Tracy

farnhouse

Back of the farmhouse

 

In the garden. Week 5.

It has been several years since I had a vegetable garden.  I enjoyed it when I had one previously, but life got really busy while I went back to school for my RN degree and then we moved out of the big house on 3 acres.  I completed nursing school several years ago, and we moved one more time, this last time to regular suburban home and lot.  I guess you could say I just sorta moved out of gardening.  In the past 1.5 years I found myself changing careers again.  I left nursing to pursuit hardscape and landscape design for construction business.  Designing landscapes brought me back to gardening.  I spent all of last year changing my own yard (still a work in progress) from what was mostly grass and few hedges to something looking a little more inviting and planned.  So, naturally I started thinking about vegetable gardening again.  I will admit that it was first my husband’s idea, that we put in a vegetable garden.   He knows how much I loved it and he loved the fresh veggies that came out of it.   In addition, I have moved us away from eating non-organic, GMO, and processed foods.  So, 5 weeks ago we broke ground for a raised vegetable bed.

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Our lumber is delivered.

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Layering compost and soil with newspaper as bottom layer.

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I particularly like that these were not only free it is the “Greensheet”.

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Raised bed ready for planting.

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Initial planting.  I thought this was all I would plant in the bed.  Oh boy, was I wrong!

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I have added several more plants to my initial planting.  Merlot grape vine, 3 artichoke plants (which I will move to a bed all their own soon since they take up a lot of space), and lots of scrap vegetables such as lettuce, onions, leeks, and celery.

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I love scrap gardening.  Several plants, will re-root.  I planted the carrots, and only one survived.  But I have a lot of green onions growing  from scraps, in a pot on my porch.   I don’t know if the carrot top will actually grow another carrot.  I’ve read that it will and I’ve read that it won’t.  I’ll keep you posted on that.

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My container garden is doing well.  I keep adding plants here too.  I have recently battled aphids and white moth larva on my kale.  But other than that, no issues really.  Nothing that a little organic insecticidal soap won’t handle.    I am really looking forward to harvesting vegetables.  It looks like a race between a few cherry tomato plants and my yellow squash as to which one will be ready to pick first.

Now that I have the garden in and going well, I want to get a couple hens.  I miss having hens and the fresh eggs they provided.  I know that I am not supposed to have poultry per our HOA rules.  But I seriously don’t see the issue with a couple hens in a well maintained chicken coop.  Hubby wants to agree with me but he’s really concerned that it will upset neighbors.  I think all he remembers from our past with chickens was the occasional pullet that turned out to be a rooster not a hen, and the subsequent 5am cock-a-doodle-do that occurred.    Yah, that would likely upset a few neighbors.  So, until I break and just come home one day with a couple pullets and a chicken coop, I found an answer to my longing for a couple hens.

Meet Olive

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and Lola.  So far these girls haven’t disturbed any neighbors and it makes me long for a couple hens even more each time I see them.  I’ve got a serious case of chicken fever which leads to something called, chicken math.  Which is like that saying about potato chips “You can’t have just one.”

 

Asian Lettuce Wraps

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These are quick and easy lettuce wraps.  I came up with this recipe after seeing a similar ready to make meal on a local organic food delivery company, where I occasionally order farm fresh veggies from.  I needed something to make that would be quick since we had a meeting in the evening to get our youngest son registered for high school next year.  And in keeping with trying to incorporate more fresh vegetables into our diets, I also needed something that would accomplish that goal.

I will apologize in advance for this recipe.  I tend to be a “little of this and a little of that, and oh a little more of that” person when I cook, especially when I am creating something without a recipe.  I think these amounts are really close to what I actually used.  You can adjust as needed to suit your taste.

Ground Turkey with Coconut Rice Asian Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients for the wraps (minus the stir fry sauce ingredients – they are listed below)

  • 1.5  lbs ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup chopped cashews
  • Head of butter or bib lettuce
  • 1 14 oz Can of sliced water chestnuts (opt)
  • 1/3 cup thinly shredded carrots
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onion tops
  • 1.5 cups uncooked Jasmine rice
  • 1 can coconut milk (1 can is just less than 2 cups)

Stir Fry Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons crushed garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon  cayenne powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder

Mix together the ingredients for the stir fry sauce in a bowl.   Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in fridge to marinate for a least an hour.  This can be made the night before.  Once sauce has marinated at least an hour, brown the turkey on medium high heat.  While the turkey is browning, put uncooked rice in a pot, pour in the coconut milk and the water, bring the rice, coconut milk, and water to a boil and then reduce heat and cover rice to cook until done.  Once the turkey is cooked add in cashews, the water chestnuts and the stir fry sauce.  Cook together on medium high, stirring frequently, until sauce is completely absorbed. Remove from heat.

Clean and separate the lettuce leaves while the rice and the turkey are cooking and lightly pat dry.  Once the stir fry sauce has completely absorbed and the rice is complete, scoop the turkey meat mixture and the rice onto the lettuce leaves.  Top with the sliced carrots and green onions.  Wrap up or hold like a taco to eat.

If you make these or adjust the recipe, please let me know what you changed and how you liked these!

Goodbye winter, it was fun, but I’m seeing another season now.

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I always welcome winter.  I guess having grown up in South Florida, where it is always summer weather, I am ready for boots, sweaters, gloves, fuzzy hats, and a break from gardening and yard work.   And winter means making and eating lots of yummy soups, stews, and hearty meals.  But at a certain point, enough is enough.   Time to move on winter.

Our weather started warming up, forcing many of my plants to start budding out.  I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to plants.  I could spend, and have, all day working in my yard.  So, as you could guess, spring is, for me, a bit of a gift.  With this change in weather, I have come down with a cold that has also resulted in laryngitis.  My husband loves my new raspy Demi Moore(ish) voice.  I just want to be able to talk at a normal pitch and without pain.    In the last year, I started buying more organic vegetables.  And recently, I added more organic products to my pantry.  This work well with my love of gardening and nature.  And we  get the benefit of eating foods that are not filled with antibiotics, growth hormones, or treated with pesticides.  Last week while shopping at Trader Joe’s, I picked up some raw organic honey.   So, last night when my throat felt so raw that even breathing through my nose, was painful.  This would also induce coughing which caused even more pain.  I remembered the jar of raw honey in the pantry, and all the health benefits of it.  Most important one last night was it’s anti-viral effect, it’s ability to promote healing, soothe sore throats, and quiet a cough.  So, I heated up water in my tea kettle, waited for the hiss of the kettle, and then made a cup of hot tea.  I added 2 teaspoons of the raw honey to it and proceeded to sip it.  It felt wonderful on my throat!  And it worked,  it did reduce the pain and my cough went away.  The only downside was the caffeine at 10pm.  Upside to the caffeine was that I got all the laundry done and I re-watched a Discovery Channel documentary on possible real life mermaids.  Raw honey has loads of health benefits, and it tastes yummy.  But please do not give it to young children, especially babies, as just as pasteurized honey, it may contain botulism toxin.

So, cheers to spring!  Bring on the flowers, the bees who pollinate the flowers, and the beautiful raw honey that bees give us.

Chicken n’ Dumplings

There isn’t much better than a hot bowl of soup after a cold winter day.   This January we’ve seen some of the coldest days ever in this area of Texas.  So, it seemed fitting to add this to our meal plan for the week.   I’ve never followed a recipe when making chicken n’ dumplings but I need to write down what I did last night because the soup was the best I’ve ever made.  All that was left per my husband was the metal shaving from scraping the pot for every last drop possible.  I hope you enjoy this as much as my family did.  Sorry, there is no picture of the soup.

Chicken n’ Dumplings

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 cups baby carrots

4 celery stalks

1 medium yellow onion

2 tablespoon olive oil

1  26oz chicken stock (I use Swanson)

1 tablespoon paprika

2 tablespoons salt

½ cup (1 stick) butter

8 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon corn starch

2 ½ cups Bisquick

2/3 cup milk

1 cup half n’ half

Place chicken breasts in a large pot and cover with water, bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium, cook chicken for about 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked all the way through.  Remove from heat and let the water and chicken cool (keeping the chicken in the water helps keep it moist later).

When the water and chicken are cool enough to handle.  Remove the chicken form the pot and cut into pieces.  Do not discard the water the chicken boiled in.  Set chicken aside.  Chop the celery and baby carrots and dice the onion.  Put the olive oil in a large frying pan.  When the olive oil is hot, put the chicken in and brown the chicken a little, then add the veggies, and 1 ½ cups of the water you boiled the chicken, reduce heat cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are soft.  Add more broth if needed if it evaporates out before veggies are cooked. Once veggies are cooked, put the pot of chicken broth back on stove and add the chicken stock (reserving ½ cup of the stock for another step) and the chicken, salt (you can use less or more salt to suit your taste) and veggies to the broth; bring to a boil and then reduce to medium-low heat.

When the broth has boiled; in another frying pan melt butter and quickly stir in the flour and paprika (stir out all the lumps), making a roux.  Place the reserved ½ cup of chicken in the roux and add in the corn starch, stir until thickened and then add your roux mixture to the pot of chicken and veggies.  Stir well.

Mix the Bisquick and milk together.  Roll dough into walnut sized balls.  If the dough is too stick to roll, add a little more Bisquick.  Roll all the dough into balls and add the balls in to the pot all at once.  Cover the pot and cook on medium-low for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove from heat, and stir in the half n’ half.

Serve in bowls and enjoy!