Sunday, September 28, 2008

How Do Your Rate Dishes?

Me and Savanah are now walking on the wild side and trying new dishes as long as we have more than 80% of the ingredients. And we are having a BLAST. We made quesadillas on the stove top thanks to Tara AKA Cooking Simply , we were filled to the rim. We did substitute the black beans with kidney beans, but my tummy ain't a complainin'.

As we sat there eating our quesadillas, it hit me. It is so much easier for us to throw together a dinner. There is not much canned meat out there, but there is plenty of canned veggies, beans and even soup. But the guys in this house have to thaw out their meat and you have to plan in advance. Not us, we can throw together a meal lickety split.

Well, to the point of this post. Savanah and I rate the new dishes we make as:

1) A keeper-no explanation there
2) A tweaker-something that needs some work or changes but we can eventually keep
3) A tosser-It hits the skids and we never see it again

We were wondering how you girls(and guys) rate the new dishes you all try in your home. Let's hear it ladies.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Autumn Salad

On my previous stint as a vegetarian, I had ordered a boxed set of recipe cards. They were colorful and broken down into categories. Wonderful for this scatter-brained woman. I go by the name of Cooking Lady for a reason. Within our homeschooling community, we, as parents, offer to teach classes at our co-ops(bi-weekly classes offered to students). When we entered homeschooling five years ago, I know right away what I wanted to teach. Hands down, it was going to be cooking. I... or at least my cooking class was an instant success.

I have tweaked my class and pretty much have it down to a science. I know the right amount of students to have, as not to be stepping on one another whilst cooking. And last year(2007-2008), I decided to show these children(who range in age from 5-12) that you can most definitely put dishes on the table and them not have any meat, not even by-products.

There is a recipe here, trust me. One of the salads I made, trying to show them there is more to salads than iceberg lettuce. With that said, please enjoy this wonderful salad.

1t djion mustard
2T minced garlic(or to taste)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2T lemon juice
2T tomato juice(you might be tempted to leave this one out...don't)
1t tamari(soy sauce)
1/4 t ground black pepper or cayenne pepper

1/4 cup cooked beans of choice(my photo shows a white bean, but black bean would be so pretty here)
1/2 cup thinly sliced cucumber
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1t drained capers
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup fresh or frozen(thawed corn-kernels)
2 lettuce leaves
Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl or blender, and whisk. Ina medium bowl, combine beans, cucumber and 1/4 cup vinaigrette. Cover and let marinate for 1 hour in the frig. After beans and cucumbers have marinated, add tomatoes, capers, bell pepper and corn. Toss well to coat. Place lettuce leaves on two salad plates and spoon bean-vegetable mixture in top of lettuce. Serve immediately.

So good and simple! Enjoy!

Martha's Cuban Black Beans

Many of you may or may not know that I am married to a Cuban. I was blessed with a wonderful mother-in-law and one that can also cook up a storm. Granted, she cooks with meat as her main course and fries nearly everything, but man oh man her beans. these black beans are the only ones she makes without a meat additive for flavor(ham hock, salt back, slab of bacon). But these beans are to die for, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I have over the last 27 years(Yikes, that is a long time!)

2 cups of dry black/turtle beans(picked through and debris removed)
8-10 cups of water
1 teaspoon salt(maybe more to taste)
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup sofrito
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cumin(do not omit)
1/4 cup cooking wine(whatever you have on hand will do)
I used to pressure cook these beans and that is all fine and well, but I have learned to embrace my slow cooker/crock pot. Something every kitchen should not be without, especially if you have a family.

Start these beans the night before, you will thank me at dinnertime. Place cleaned, rinsed black beans in slow cooker with water and salt. Set it on low and let it be.

In the morning if you need to add any extra water, do so, but only enough to keep beans covered. This dish is supposed to be on the thick side.

Once you have your beans covered with enough water(If it was necessary) then get out a small frying pan. Heat pan and add your oil. once it is hot over a medium-high heat then add your sofrito. It will pop and splatter a bit. Saute it for about 2-3 minutes, but stir nearly continuously. Once the sofrito is heated through add to beans...oil and all.

Now begin to add your other spices, cumin, oregano, and cooking wine.

Now here is the odd part but a must if you want the consistency you would get at a Cuban home. Take a sturdy metal spoon and take the back of the spoon to gently smash some of the black beans against the wall of the slow cooker. Do this with about half of the beans you have cooked. Remember that you only want about 1/4 of an inch of water on top of your beans. If it is any higher, then you will have gloopy(I made that word up) runny beans, and that is a no-no in the Cuban realm.

Please, if you have any questions ask away in the comment section. And as always, enjoy this dish.


This recipe is common in the Latin cooking world. How do I know this? Well, being married to a Cuban for 27 years is a big plus. The portions can change from region to region and home to home, but the outcome is the same, to space a pot of dry beans. Use this in any pot of beans that require a Latin flavor.

1/2 small-medium onion(give or take and roughly chopped)
1/2 small-medium green pepper(give or take roughly chopped)
1-2 cloves of garlic peeled
Food processor or blender
Small amount of water; set aside
Place all ingredients in the blender/processor except the water. Puree all ingredients. If it is too thick, then slowly add water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time. You want it to have some substance, but not thin like pancake batter. Once the sofrito becomes pourable(I made that word up) then you are ready to go. Here is a great tip I have learned over the years. Silly as it may sound when you read it, it has been how a judge a good batch of sofrito.

If you look at your batch and smell it. It should be a nice Kermit the Frog green and smell wickedly like onions. If it is the other way around then you need to make adjustments. It has gotten me through many a great pot of beans.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chocolate Chip Scones

Edit it: Savanah and I wanted to show you our work. Please be kind, our digital camera is older than the Mona Lisa. But trust me when I say these scones were delicious and we would make again in a heartbeat.

OK, I swear River is not paying me to give her a plug. My daughter was the one who wanted to make these. So blame Savanah. With that said, these scones are wonderfully delicious. Not overly sweet, which is right up my alley.

So go visit River and enjoy this dessert.


Add in: The Patty Melt is not toasted bread...duh to me. It is grilled like a grilled cheese sandwich. It was my lovely husband who informed me, since he was the Denny's cook that I ended up marrying.

For those of you who read regularly, I have made the switch to vegetarianism (bows deeply to her adoring fans). But in doing so, I will openly admit to missing some things. And come on girls(And any guys who read and are vegetarians) that there is something you miss form the carnivore world.

Well, I miss hamburgers. Yep, the drippy messy ones that roll down the side of your arm and sometimes makes it all the way to your elbow. But rest assured, I am steadfast and resolute in leaving meat behind. So with that said, I am exposing my daughter to three burgers I was in love with as am omnivore. And here they are for those who may want to try an new style(or old in some cases) of burger. Hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

Circle D Burger

First off, I cannot take credit for this burger. This was a popular burger when I worked at Denny's in the early 80's(Cringes at that number) and I don't remember if it was a grand seller, but I loved it. I would order that thing every shift I worked...morning shifts included. So I hope you ladies(And men) enjoy this burger.

Hamburger buns(Whole wheat preferred)
Burgers of choice(we use Boca Burgers mostly, but will purchase many different ones to try)
Slice of cheese(we use cheddar)
Onions(Grilled, they must be grilled)
BBQ sauce**
Condiments of your own choosing
Cook/grill your burger as you see fit or follow thee instructions. Place the slice of cheese on the burger so you get a good melt. Then start to construct your burger. Add condiments as you see fit. The burger goes on(with cheese) then your grilled onions, and then the BBQ sauce. Place the top bun and have at it.
**Due to the fact that I have given up HFCS, I no longer purchase store bought BBQ. So if any of you ladies have one form your recipe cards, I am all ears.

Burger Italiano

Another burger from my days as a Denny's waitress(which is how I met my husband), but this one is on the simpler side.

1 slice of Sourdough bread(I actually buy the packaged bread for this. Yeah I know, but we all choose our battles, so for a once a year burger...I digress)
Burger of choice
Spaghetti sauce
Slice of mozzarella cheese
Cook your burger, and while doing so toast your bread. You can use left over spaghetti sauce our use jarred, again, your choice. Lay toast on your plate, place burger on toasted bread, then ladle on your heated spaghetti sauce, and top with mozzarella cheese. This is an open faced sandwich but oh so good.

Patty Melt

I know some of you are Ooohing and Ahhhhing. This brings back so many memories, so I hope you enjoy this as much as I have over the years.

2 slices of rye bread(I have made it from scratch but we are out of rye berries, so store bought it is)
Burger of your choice
Grilled onions
American cheese for this one is my choice, but use what works for you
Cook your burger as you see fit with your cheese. Place on toasted rye bread and add the grilled onions and slap on your condiments. This has to be one of my classic favorites.

***As always, vegans do your thing and use your vegan alternatives. And as always, enjoy!!

They Did What?

OK, I will openly admit I am by no means a chocolate fan. All of you ladies please close your mouths now. That is not to say I wont try it, but if I have a slice of cheesecake in front of me and a slice of chocolate cake. I am all over that cheesecake, calories be damned. (Sorry, I usually don't swear)

But I came across a blog recently that has me mortified for all you chocolate lovers. Hershey has decided to eliminate cocoa butter from many of their candies. Read the article here. I read most of the article to my daughter(Who could not live with out her chocolate) and she was austered for sure. How dare her chocolate company do that to her and not send her a personalized letter(An E-mail would have sufficed), but no, she has to hear it via a web-blog I read. The More, The Messier went off on Hershey, and as well she should. How dare they attempt to pull the wool over our eyes. Just read Messier's blog and you will see why she feels like she does. No one likes to be lied to.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Call Me Cheap

Well, please remember that we are a single income family that is stretching a dollar so far to its limit that the Stretch Armstrong company is calling us. So we are learning not to waste in the house and especially in the kitchen. We do not overfill our plates, we cook enough to make for leftovers the next day(Hubby and son take their lunches to work).

But I have discovered a new way to make soup base. But my inspiration came from Cook, Study, and be Crafty but there are times we do not have enough to buy all of the veggies needed to make said soup. Fear not, I am Mrs. Frugal. We(My daughter and myself) are saving our scraps. What I mean is that when we peel off the outer layers of cabbage, we throw it in the freezer style bag and we keep filling it with items that we used to throw away.

Examples of what we used to throw away, but now throw in a freezer bag:
Carrot ends
Celery ends and leaves
Outer cabbage leaves
Peels of carrots when we peel them(Redundant...I know)
Onion skins
Bits of potatoes

Once we have two bags filled, we plan on trying out our little venture. When we do, you all will be the first to hear about it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Three Grain Pancakes

One of my readers tried my oatmeal pancakes and loved them...right River? But wait until you try these puppies. If my husband could eat only one pancake for the rest of his life, it would be these, bar none. So here is for all you lazy Sunday morning brunch eating fools. Once you try these please do not bombard me with a kazillion thank yous, I know already. Enjoy! I know we do!!

2 egg whites**
2T oil
3T honey**
1 cup milk**
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup corn meal
2T baking powder
Combine egg whites(I give the yolk to my dog. I hate waste), oil, honey and milk. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Let batter rest for 5 minutes. (Go set the table) Drop pancake batter onto a hot skillet(We use our huge flat griddle). Cook until bubbles begin to form around edges of each pancake. Flip and cook 1-2 more minutes. Serve hot.

** Vegans, use your substitutes.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

You Say Potato I Say...

My daughter has experimented recently with roasted veggies. She did a very green version, which consisted of celery, green peppers, carrots, potatoes, and onions. I love all of these vegetables I love...I swear, but not roasted. OK, get this. I did not eat them after I tried them. And this was not even a dish that could be tweaked. As far as I was concerned, it needed to be trashed.

And yet I knew our roasting days were not over. I watch enough Food Network and read enough blogs to know we could prevail. Well tonight was out night. I had bulk cooked black beans yesterday, so all they needed today was whatever spice I so chose, I went Cuban style. My daughter made a improv version of green bean almondine(sp?)...minus the almonds and then there was our roasted vegetables. DUN DUN DUN *Insert hokey TV drama music*

Well, if any of you fellow bloggers ever come for dinner, I am slap up going to serve you roasted vegetables. We nailed. I was helping my daughter some of her online highschool courses and I was also surfing food blogs, and low and behold(I say that a lot don't I) I found a recipe for roasted vegetables. But could I find it at dinner time? NO!. But we winged it, and let me tell you I went for seconds but could not finish them and had to put them back, but as my daughter was putting the vegetables away I snagged a few crispy potatoes, so much for being full.

I feel like River now, but here goes.

5-6 potatoes, roughly chopped but small enough to cook quickly
4 carrots peeled and again, roughly chopped(I did this pretty diagonal thingy)
1 onion quartered(This went in the last 10-15 minutes
Olive oil to coat veggies
Paula Deens House seasoning(1 cup salt, 1/4 cup pepper, 1/4 cup garlic powder) Not all on the veggies at the same time. Use the seasoning at your discretion. I truthfully love the stuff and if I ever meet Paula, I will hug her for that alone.

Cook your veggies in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes, remember to put the onion in the last 10-15. Life is good when you eat roasted veggies.

I had them tonight for dinner and you didn't. Nani nani boo boo! *Does the nani nani boo boo dance*

Corn Dogs, Brownies and Salad... Oh My

Well, I have tried to post this at least 4 times, but my main computer does not like Blogger, go figure. So my daughter has let me borrow hers while she takes a break form her online highschool courses(That was tough for her, thanks Savanah). As I am embracing this vegetarian lifestyle, I promised myself I would not fall into the same old routine and make the same boring dishes. In walks the blogging world.

I thought life was grand with just the Internet, but low and behold, we have the blogging world, and man oh man has my recipe book gotten a wee bit fatter. And that is a good thing. My daughter likes having meat analogs handy for that rare emergency occasion that there is nothing to eat(Very rare in this house, since we do not eat out). And we know that those foods are processed. And we also know that if she chooses to stay with meat analogs that she will have to put up with some processed foods. With that said, we are trying to find ways to cut down on processed foods in general and we have found a way to do that. A big round of applause for Wing it Vegan. She has given us some wonderful recipes. We use our dairy where she uses her vegan ingredients, but man, are her dishes fantastic.

Two in particular that are a big hit are These Two. If you have not made these two recipes, then get off your hineys from reading this blog and go make them. Corn dogs and meal is complete. We threw in our Asian Slaw salad and bada boom bada bing, life is grand. I am extremely glad I entered the blogging world, but moreso with this blog. I have learned so much about new and different foods, and the support form fellow vegetarians is unbelievable.

Thank you River and keep the recipes coming!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Asian Cabbage Salad

I am in love, and it ain't my husband. We at this house love cabbage. Fix it any way and it will be eaten. I personally love the core, you all can fight over the rest. Well, if you go to any major grocery store, you will find, usually in the produce section a little twirly thing that holds recipe cards. We look at what we think we will like or the ingredients we have and go for it. My daughter asked me to make thins Asian salad and I had no clue what she was referring to. So she dug up the card that came from I believe Walmart, but do not quote me. This salad was jam up great. Make it and then make it some more. Hope you all liked it as much as we did.

Asian Cabbage Salad

1 head napa cabbage cored and shredded(Thanks for my Rachael Ray knife)
1/2 cup sliced green onions(We used plain old yellow onion)
1 cup shredded or grated carrots
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro(We did not have any)
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
2T lime juice(We used lemon juice)
1T ginger grated
2T light brown sugar
1T soy sauce(We use tamari)
1T toasted sesame oil
In large bowl, toss cabbage, onions, carrots and cilantro together until evenly mixed.
In small bowl, whisk together vinegar, lime juice, ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil.
Pour dressing over cabbage mixture and toss to coat. Serve immediately or chill, covered, until ready to serve.

Wow, did I mention I was in love?!

This Is For You Moo-Moo

My daughter is a major inspiration to me. She may not know she is, but after reading, I am guessing she will find out. I tell her how proud I am of her and that she made such a major decision at 8&1/2 to become a vegetarian. Who does that? She does and did.

On September 1 I took a vegetarian challenge. which I swear I saw on some veggie blog, but for the life of me I do not remember where I saw it. It said something to thee effect to 'Take the Veggie Challenge'. So I did. I wanted to see if I could do the vegetarian lifestyle for one week, and save for a bite or two of steak off my sons plate, that one week has turned into two weeks ans darned if I don't give a rats backside if I eat meat again or not. I truly do not miss it the way I thought I would. I took a few bites off my sons plate, but it did not thrill me like it used to. Do I miss some meats? Darn skippy. when I smell a BBQ from someones backyard, I get a hankerin', but I have done it now, for two weeks. Ad there are some things I have discovered.

I am more tolerable of other peoples long as they respect mine. the minute they dog me about my choices, or throw me the lame tofu's on like Donkey Kong. I don't start attacking you about you eating dead animals, don criticize me for opting not. I am choosing a healthier lifestyle(Notice I did not say diet) and you have the brass ones to come down on me. I am little Miss Muffet, until you cross the line into my world, then we will definitely duke it out.

I cannot thank my daughter enough for setting me in a direction I am all too familiar with, but needed to be kicked in my complacency and find where I know I should be and feel like it is old home week.

We as vegetarians usually do not have to wait for our meat to defrost before we start dinner. throw some rice in the cooker, saute some veggies and that's dinner for me. While you poor carnivores are heating up an oven to cock the meatloaf for an hour. I am done and cleaning my kitchen. I am not on a crusade to convert...if you will all the meat eaters out there. Most people know about vegetarians. And you can see right off the bat if they are genuinely interested or it is their intent to ridicule. I do not have time for those people. they are closed minded and do not deserve my time. I have bigger fish to fry...I made a funny.

So to end this on an up note. Thank you to my wonderful daughter, who I fondly refer to as not ask!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Russian Dressing By Any Other Name

Some know this dressing as Thousand Island. But whatever you know this by I have found a homemade version of this. It is my goal to rid my frig of bottled dressings. I have a great Italian dressing, already on my blog and now I am going to add this one. My daughter and I happened upon this one while watching Ellie Krieger on the Food Network. Now I know the Food Network is not known for making veg friendly dishes and some you just can't cut out all the meat, but this was grand. And for you vegans, you can use your vegan friendly products. See...everyone is happy. So on to the dressing. Make it and enjoy!

Russian Dressing
1/3 cup yogurt(Greek was used by Ellie Krieger)
2T mayo
2T catsup(Yes I spell it that way)
2t white vinegar(We were out so we used rice wine and did fine)
2T chopped gherkins(We used sweet relish and did fine)
Mix all together and serve over any salad of your choice. This has good memories for me, for my mother is a huge fan of Thousand Island dressing and I now feel confident she will enjoy this whenever she visits. Enjoy!

So You're a Vegetarian

Well when I first took my adventure about 15-16 years ago I had no clue what I was doing. And at that time, meat analogs were up and coming but not what they are today. I panicked about what I could and should eat and did not see what I had been cooking for years.

So I lived on boxed macaroni and cheese for days until I figured things out. Now, you have to remember this was before the age of the Internet and looking up new recipes with Orzo, or Wheat Berries was out of the question. You had old cookbooks from your mother and grandmother and then you had to vegetize(I made that word up) them, substitute bacon with Bacos, or dare I say liquid smoke.

I mean think about all the main dishes that were now off limits to me because I was making a choice. OK, so I chose not to eat meatloaf, my choice, I completely get it. So, now I know I can survive on side dishes. I can live with that, or could I? I was born and raised in the South, by Southern women, so bacon drippings was considered a food group in our home. If the dish did not have bacon in it, why bother eating it.

I had my work cut out for me. Now, I was a good vegetarian, asking if there was any meat in dishes when we did go out for dinner. I knew to ask about what the base of the soup was and if those bacon bits were real, but what I did know was the hidden animal by-products. Oh yes, you heard right. There are tons of things that come from animals, and in order for it to get to said product that poor animal had to die.

My first encounter with this little scenario was with gelatin. I had no blessed clue it came from collagen inside animals connective tissue. Correct me if I am wrong, but that animal had to die to get that to us. So out the window Jello went. I had to educate a woman one time, for she told me that it was only an animal by-product. I then informed her that thee animal had to die in order for us to actually get gelatin. I think I made her her...or so I hope I did.

When my daughter was in the school system, she hing out with a little Muslim girl. And during Ramadan this little girl came to school with a list of food items she could not consume, due to the fact that these said items had gelatin in them, and they could not be certain that they did not come from pigs, and pigs being thee main animal that Muslims and Jewish people avoid gelatin. So this little girl avoided them all together just to be safe. My daughter found out that gelatin was in Skittles, one of her then favorites, it has since disappeared from the candies that she eats.

Now, some who are reading this blog find this a bit extreme. I used to feel that way about vegans and raw fooodists. But I am older and hopefully a bit wiser(That is up for debate as far as my children are concerned) and I hope I have become more understanding in my vegetarian community.

So my daughter has taken on the task to eliminate any hidden animal products in the food we eat and any items we may purchase. We gave up liquid fabric softener, due to the fact that it contains tallow, a rendered fat in soaps, candles, and lubricants. Let me just show you a list of things we get form animals that you may not know about, and are hidden in the foods you eat and the products you purchase. You make the choice.

Gelatin (made using meat byproducts)
Lanolin (made from wool)
Rennet (an enzyme found in the stomach of calves, young goats, and lambs that's used in cheese-making)
Honey and beeswax (made by bees) **To me this is still up for debate since no bees actually die in the process, it is what they do naturally**
Silk (made by silkworms)
Shellac (the resinous secretion of the tiny lac insect)
Cochineal (a red dye derived from the cochineal insect)

So there you have it folks... a list of things to look for, and there be more, but that is all I could find for the time being. As I find them, I will post updates and let you all know, thee unsuspecting public, of what is hidden in our food and products.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Who Are They Kidding

I had seen the first commercial and just could not believe it, then my daughter told me there was a second commercial, and Wow, these people have brass ones. I mean come on. I am doing everything possible to rid my home of HFCS(High Fructose Corn Syrup) and these people come on and tell the world it is fine and dandy. Give me a break. And yet, there will be those who are sitting on the recliners with soda in hand and candy bar in another and say, You see honey, there ain't a thing wrong with that extra sugar stuff they are puttin' our food."

All the while, Bubba is 75 pounds overweight and desperately needs to visit the dentist.

I for one know that if it is factory made, then it does not fall under the category of being natural, at least not in my book. My girlfriend was the one who opened my eye to explain it to those who may not get it. And I already knew it, but explaining it without getting on a soapbox was beyond me...imagine that, me having problems getting off a soapbox.

My friend holds her hands out as if she were a scale, trying to balance two different things. then she says to said person, "Factory made, or nature made?" For this example she was referring to butter and margarine. He mothers doctor had told them years back to use artificial sweetener for their beverages and margarine *Shudders* for their fat as substitutes. I have not used margarine, which I was told was good for us...pfffft, in about 15 years.

We were on government help when I was pregnant with my daughter and we had access to butter. I have never looked back. Margarine...I get goose flesh. But to get back on topic, this organization is trying pawn off to thee unsuspecting public that HFCS is AOK. Helllooo, who are they trying to kid. I will tell you. The uneducated who sit and use the television as their source of information. If it's on the news, it must be right. Think again Bubba. It is sad to see that people buy into what the media tells them, and you have to wonder. Why isn't the media trying to uncover the truth? Are they afraid of the possible ramifications? I am glad that I am slowly but sure finding out what Big Brother is not telling us, and to know that I do have a mind of my own(Even if my children think otherwise) and can make decisions for myself.

Check out this farce of nutritional information. It is from the Corn Refiners.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

12 Foods to Purcahse Organic

I found this on The Daily Green and I was wondering how many of my fellow bloggers can afford to purchase any organic foods. I am a single income family and we barely skim by. We are hitting such hard times, that we take a calculator to make sure we do not go over our budget, which is less that you readers would believe. And my next question, which I was going to blog about, is how do you people who are tight in the money department stay healthy when there is so little to spend in the grocery store. When the fresh fruit and veggies run out here, there is no going to the store to pick something up. If we run out...that is end.

So how to you eat healthy and be frugal all at the same time?

Not all of us can afford to go 100% organic. The solution? Focus on just those foods that come with the heaviest burden of pesticides, chemicals, additives and hormones. Whenever possible, deploy your organic spending power to buy organic versions of the following foods (in no particular order). Can't find organic versions of these foods? In some cases, we've listed safer alternatives that contain similar valuable vitamins and minerals.

1. Meat. Contrary to a widely reported "fact," meat typically contains less pesticide residue than plant-based foods, according to Debra Edwards, the director of EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs.
That said, raising animals with conventional modern methods often means using hormones to speed up growth, antibiotics to resist disease and pesticides to grow the grain fed to the animals. As the EPA puts it in an Ag 101 feature, "Antibiotics, pesticides, and hormones are organic compounds which are used in animal feeding operations and may pose risks if they enter the environment."
Consumers looking to avoid meats raised with these substances can seek out certified organic meat. To meet USDA standards, this meat can come only from animals fed organic feed and given no hormones or antibiotics.
Publications as varied as the Wall Street Journal, in its 2007 When Buying Organic Makes Sense and When It Doesn’t, and Consumers Union, in its 2006 Tips on Buying Organics Without Breaking the Bank, recommend seeking out organic meats when possible.

2. Milk. Pesticides and other man-made chemicals have been found in human breast milk, so it should come as no surprise that they have been found in dairy products. While any residues detected have been rare, and of low concentration, milk is of special concern because it is a staple of children's diets.
Organic dairies cannot feed their cows with grains grown with pesticides, nor can they use antibiotics or growth hormones like rGBH or rbST.

3. Coffee. Many of the beans you buy are grown in countries that don't regulate use of chemicals and pesticides. Look for the Fair Trade Certified Organic label on the coffee package or can; it will give you some assurance that chemicals and pesticides were not used on the plants. It will also mean that fair prices were paid for the end product in support of the farm and that farm workers are treated fairly.

4. Peaches. Multiple pesticides are regularly applied to these delicately skinned fruits in conventional orchards. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: watermelon, tangerines, oranges and grapefruit.

5. Apples. Scrubbing and peeling doesn't eliminate chemical residue completely so it's best to buy organic when it comes to apples. Peeling a fruit or vegetable also strips away many of their beneficial nutrients. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: watermelon, bananas and tangerines.

6. Sweet bell peppers. Peppers have thin skins that don't offer much of a barrier to pesticides. They're often heavily sprayed and victim to pesticides commonly used to keep them insect-free. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: green peas, broccoli and cabbage.

7. Celery. Celery has no protective skin, which makes it almost impossible to wash off the chemicals that are used on conventional crops. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: broccoli, radishes and onions.

8. Strawberries. If you buy strawberries out of season, they're most likely imported from countries that use less-stringent regulations for pesticide use. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: blueberries, kiwi and pineapples.

9. Lettuces. Leafy greens are frequently contaminated with what are considered the most potent pesticides used on food. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

10. Grapes. Imported grapes run a much greater risk of contamination than those grown domestically. Vineyards can be sprayed with different pesticides during different growth periods of the grape, and no amount of washing or peeling will eliminate contamination because of the grape's thin skin. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: blueberries, kiwi and raspberries.

11. Potatoes. America's popular spud ranks high for pesticide residue. It also gets the double whammy of fungicides added to the soil for growing. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: eggplant, cabbage and earthy mushrooms.

12. Tomatoes. A tomato's easily punctured skin is no match for chemicals that will eventually permeate it. Can't find organic? Safe alternatives: green peas, broccoli and asparagus.
If the cost of buying all organics isn't within your budget, fear not. Check out The Daily Green's top ten list of fruit and vegetables you don't need to buy organic, with tips for buying and how to clean, store and use them in delicious recipes.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Yummy Brownies

Savanah(My daughter) made these fab-u-loso brownies tonight. Now, I found this via Nikki. She has tons of bloggers she reads so I scan her roll sometimes, or her replies and Viola...I found River. Now, for those of you who follow this blog, you know that my daughter is a vegetarian, but not a vegan, but we try anything and we will even vege-tize a meat dish, if we can.

So, when I came across these brownies at Wing it Vegan well...that was right up my daughter alley. She is the one with the sweet tooth. so we had all thee ingredients and there you have it, yummy brownies. The only difference was we had crunchy peanut butter and the recipe called for smooth. We adapted. But smooth peanut butter is on our list for the next shopping list.

These did not grab hubby so much. Too bad, so sad, more for me and Nana. Hah! And get this, my daughter put the peanut butter frosting bowl in the kitchen sink before she offered me to lick it clean. That's it she is grounded for a month. Thee only time she will come out is too cook them brownies again. Just kidding.

Savanah and I sat at lunch this afternoon and tried to figure out how many new dishes we make in a given month. And we came up with about one per week, give or take. now these new dishes do not have to be main courses. They can be soups...thanks Tam. Desserts...thanks River, and to the many others we have borrowed or adapted recipes from.

I love my new found world of blogging, and more so with my cooking blog. I am enjoying foods I never thought I would try and or like. So, to all my fellow bloggers, thanks for what you have given me and my family, even if you did not know you were helping us out!

Now go cook something!!

P.S. We have not tried the corn dog recipe as of yet, for Savanah and I have eaten all of our veggie dogs this week. They will definitely be on the list and we cannot wait to fry this up. I have had a hankerin' for some fried food, so here is my chance.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Cheese Muffins

This recipe is not for the faint of heart or anyone watching their waistline. This recipe drips of the South. I swear this could have come straight out of a Paula Deen Cookbook. But alas, I found this one at one of my fellow bloggers site. I saw this one as she posted it and drooled then. I swear I almost had to buy a new keyboard there was so much drool on it.

So take a gander over to The Pioneer Woman Cooks and check out her cooking. She is a simple down to Earth type of woman. I will warn you though, she has plenty of meat recipes, but surf her site and it will be well worth it. Some of her dishes we have just veggie-ized(I made that word up). If her dish calls for bacon, then we substitute it with faux bacon. So there you go, we improvise. I hope you enjoy this recipe and her site as much as I have. And check out her side dishes and try her Crash Hot Potatoes. My oh my!!! To die for.

Figs Cheese Muffins

1&1/2 cups flour(We used our own ground wheat)
1&1/2 T sugar (We use Turbinado)
1T baking powder
1/2 t salt
3Cups shredded Colby-Jack cheese
1cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
Whisk together the dry ingredients, and then stir in the cheese. In a separate bowl, whisk egg, milk, and butter together. Pour milk mixture into dry ingredients and stir with a spoon to combine. Bake in a greased muffin tin at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Makes 12 muffins

**We used out own whole wheat flour and it did make them a wee bit denser, but not enough to stop me from having seconds...OK thirds, but that is all I will admit to*

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pressure Cooking or Crock Potting

Is Crock Potting even a word? But I guess most of you knew exactly what I was referring to, so that by law of cooks united...makes it a word.

I was wondering which you ladies...or men prefer. I grew up on both. My mother knew how to work with both, but in my honest opinion she did not utilize either one of them half enough. I use both my Slow Cooker and pressure cooker at least once a week. My mother-in-law uses her pressure cooker all the time. To her it is second nature. So when I married my husband, I watched and learned how to better use this scary kitchen tool. They are both my friends.

But, do I have a preference? Well yes, I do...I'm glad you asked. My personal preference is my Slow Cooker. Do not get me wrong, I love my pressure cooker and they soften up a mess of greens like nothing else I have ever seen. But oh my Slow Cooker. It's like that Ronco commercial, "Just set it, and forget it."

But there are a few things that do not do well in the Slow Cooker, unless prepped. Such as Chick peas, garbanzo beans. Them puppies are so hard to crack, if they are not pre-soaked, they take days in the Slow Cooker, and then they taste like me, I know this from experience.

So just remember, if you have a tough cooking bean, then pre-soak before subjecting them to the slow cooker. You will thank me in the morning.

Pressure cooking is near and dear to my heart, but slow cooking is the way to go for me. So fess up folks, where does you food rest?