19. keep calm and grow on.

The baby shower is almost a week away, so I’m working on wrapping everything up. I found some frames at the thrift store this weekend and threw together this silly design to play off the moustache theme. I made them different sizes and plan to put them on various tables at the baby shower. Hopefully she will want to keep one to hang in the baby’s room too!

18. pickles

I have never made any kind of pickles before. Today I made these and they were so easy and really delicious. They were a breeze to throw together!

1 cup white vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1-2 teaspoons celery seed (I use 2)
1 teaspoon salt

3 cups sliced cucumber
3 small onions, thinly sliced

Place sliced cucumber and onions in a large container or bowl. In a separate bowl, stir vinegar, sugar, water and salt together until dissolved. Add celery seed. Pour mixture over cucumber and onions and refrigerate.

Keeps for 2-3 months.

I keep adding new cucumbers to the mix as we eat them. Its like the never ending supply of pickles! YUM!

17. tortilla soup.

Tonight I tried another recipe from the Vegan Slowcooker book. I made a crock pot full of tortilla soup. It was really tasty. So tasty that milo ate three bowls of it. I definitely added my own touches to this and I think it contributed to the recipe nicely. Other than a little bowl of soup for me to have for lunch the next day, Milo and dj finished this whole crock pot off in one evening!

1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
3 T tomato paste
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tspn cumin
1/2 tspn chili powder
1 tspn agave or maple syrup
1/4 cup tequila (optional)
1 can black beans
1 cup frozen corn
1 to 2 cups uptons chorizo
salt and pepper to taste
avocado, chopped and tossed with lime juice for serving
Tortilla chips, crushed, for serving

The night before: heat oil and saute onion and garlic until translucent 3-5 minutes. Store in airtight container in fridge until ready to use.  Saute your chorizo and store in a seperate container.
In the morning: combine sauteed onion, tomatoes, tomato paste, water, lime juice, tequila, agave, and seasonings in slow cooker. Cook on low 6-8 hours.
Puree the soup with immersion blender. Add seitan, black beans and corn. Turn slow cooker to high and cook until warmed thoroughly. Top with avocado, tortilla chips and fresh cilantro.

16. crayon valentines. part 1.

I saw this post and other posts on pinterest about melting down your old crayons to make multi-colored new ones. Milo has a big bag of random crayons that his grandma gave him, but the problem is we needed a silicone baking pan. I thought maybe I would keep my eye out at the thrift store one of these days and when I found one give this a try. Turns out they had one in the dollar section at target, and a heart shaped one to boot! This was a great project to work on with milo too. We started by peeling all the paper off the crayons. He did this while I sliced the paper open. Then we broke the crayons into small pieces and put them in a bowl. We then took the small pieces and color coated them into the baking pan. you bake it in the oven at 300 degrees for 15 minutes. Let it cool completely, remove and let it cool on a rack. It was really easy and worked great. We plan to put turn these into valentines day gifts for the kids at milo’s daycare. Now I got to figure out how to attach these to a little valentine card that I also plan to make. Any suggestions? I thought about hot glue, but I don’t want you to crack the crayon trying to get it off the paper…

We tested one out, but milo didn’t quite understand why I was coloring with it. He kept asking me, ” Can I eat it now?”

15. chewbacca.

A few months ago I saw this pattern for an adorable chewbacca plushie doll. I saved the pant legs that I cut off my pants from my halloween costume just for this. The instructions looked pretty easy for a beginner like me, so I knew one day I could try to make this happen. I needed pinking shears to give the face that cute effect, which I finally got for christmas. Milo helped me cut all pieces (well he just dumped out my pins and kept picking them up with my magnetic pin cushion thing and kept talking about how I was going to make a chewbacca for him). It was a pretty fast project to complete. I had a hard time figuring out what to do with the step about the face and pondered on this for probably longer than necessary.  I read and re-read that part over and over and just figured out something on my own. I also didn’t hand sew the arms and legs on like the pattern says to do; instead just sewed them on with the machine and then tucked them in the body like I would do for tote bag straps, then sewed the seams shut and turned it right side out. This way was definitely possible, however, the arms and legs are bulky, so I probably should have been more careful and strategic when I did this. It made for a really messy outcome, but now I know if I ever make one again. Overall I’m pretty happy with the way this turned out. And you know who’s even happier? Milo. He loves his chewbacca. He kept calling him his buddy. And he has brought him to school with him every day this week. He goes to bed with milo at night and when milo makes his way into our bed in the middle of the night, chewbacca usually comes along too.

This project was especially great because it didn’t require a trip to the fabric store….I bought the pants at the thrift store for my halloween costume and then used the remnants to make this happen. So in the end it only cost me about around $1 or so to make. Yay!

14. vegan deep dish pizza.

Vegan deep dish pizza sounds crazy right? Try more like CRAZY DELICIOUS. We burnt out on this a while back, but its been months, so I figured I’d give it another go. Man, did it hit the spot. The crust only needs to rise for 30 minutes, and it only bakes for about 15-20. Can totally be done on a weeknight if you wanted to.

Recipe is here: but here’s my modified version.

1 tsp sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour1/2 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp yellow cornmeal & flour (used to dust counter to roll out dough)

Pizza Filling
1 package Upton’s Naturals All Natural Italian Sausage
1 package mozzarella flavored Daiya
Baby spinach
your favorite pizza sauce

  1. In a separate bowl, combine water, sugar, and active dry yeast to activate yeast and let sit for at least 5 minutes.
  2. In a mixer, add the dry ingredients and mix on a low setting using a bread hook. When the yeast is ready, add it to the mixer with the olive oil. Let the dough form in the mixer until it forms a uniform ball and starts to climb the bread hook. (If you do not have a mixer, then combine the dry ingredients with the bowl of yeast, kneed until smooth.)
  3. Remove and let stand for at least half an hour or until it doubles in size.
  4. While waiting for the dough to rise, prepare the other ingredients.
  5. In a lightly oiled skillet, add the seitan and lightly brown. Prepare the toppings you want to include.
  6. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and then use the the cornmeal and flour to dust the counter. Form an even roll and cut in half. Lightly oil one half and place it in a zip lock bag in the freezer for another day.
  7. Roll or press out the dough into a circle that will fit in a round, 9 inch cooking pan (I used a spring form pan for this). Lightly oil the baking pan and lightly dust with flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Place the dough in the pan so that it climbs up the sides to make a wall.
  8. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  9. Begin layering the ingredients. To keep it authentic, add the seitan sausage first, then the vegetable toppings.  Sprinkle a layer of vegan Parmesan cheese if you prefer. Add the daiya cheese. Sprinkle oregano and basil over the cheese for a little added flavor. Add the pan to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove and add a layer of the sauce. Place in the oven again and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
  11. Remove and let cool enough that you can handle and remove from pan. Place on a cutting board, slice, and serve.

13. slowcooker pot pie.

Hoping to cook more healthy, homeade meals, I picked up Vegan Slow Cooker. I feel like other than oatmeal and chili, I dont ever know what to make in my crock pot. This book definitely breaks that mold; there are lots of stews, casseroles, breads, and even seitan recipes. I was very intrigued. The first thing I attempted to make was this pot pie recipe. I don’t know that I ever even had a pot pie before. What was really interesting about this recipe is right before you are done cooking it all day, you roll out some biscuits, throw those on top and you have a biscuit-like crust to serve with your pot pie. This was really comforty, perfect for winter, and it felt so healthy to be eating lots of fresh vegetables. The recipe calls for frozen vegetables, but other than corn, I used all fresh. Don’t leave out the green beans; those were my favorite part!

Heres how you do it:

Cut up onion, 2 cloves garlic, carrots, celery, green beans, peas, corn, etc (it also says to use leftover beans, tofu, or whatever else you have on hand) and dump in crockpot. Add 1 cup water, 1 veg-chicken bullion cube, 1 teaspoon dried thyme. Cook this in your crockpot for about 4-6 hours. (add a little more water if you are going to be cooking longer)

Once its almost done cooking, add 2 tablespoons of flour and mix.
Saute some seitan (I use uptons original style) and add to the crock pot.
Prepare your biscuits: Combine all biscuit ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork until it comes together in a dough.
1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 tspn salt, 1/2 tspn thyme (optional), 1 1/2 tspn baking powder, 3 Tablespoons olive oil (i think i only used 2), 1/2 cup unsweetened non dairy milk

Turn this mixture onto a floured surface and roll out about 1/2 inch thick and cut into circles with the rim of a glass. Place in the slow cooker on top of the filling. Turn the slow cooker up to high and cook about 30-45 minutes.

13. tofu sandwiches.

I love a good sandwich. When I saw that photo above, I knew I needed to make something similar.
The recipe is from based on this one, but I made some modifications.

Your favorite bread
Extra firm tofu
Baby spinach
Vegan ranch dressing
Non dairy milk
nutritional yeast
Salt & pepper

 Slice up your tofu and press it for at least two hours. I usually press mine overnight.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Dip your tofu in the non dairy milk, then bread with crumbs, cornmeal, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes (or until golden brown), flipping half way through.

To assemble, warm up your bread slices and spread them with a generous amount of hummus.  Place your bottom slice on a plate and lay the tofu, plenty of baby spinach and avocado slices on top. Top with vegan ranch dressing. Cover with the other slice and enjoy. Yum!

12. bjork.

Today is the day I made plans for a trip with one of my favorite friends to see the ever amazing bjork in one of my favorite cities – New york! Thanks for the crazy idea Danielle….can’t wait!