Tag Archives: christmas

Weekly Eating – New Year 2019

 

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Boxing Day, Happy New Year!

Whatever and however you celebrate, I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. I know we did, even if the driving sucks it is always worth it to see family.

skyline in virginia

We also went to Niagara Falls, which was the boy’s first time seeing them. He thought they were “pretty cool”.   🙂

Niagara Falls

It was amazing being off Monday and Tuesday, and a rough reality waking up at 6am again come Wednesday. But at least it was a short week! Back to the usual grind come next Monday.

Monday:

Breakfast – I honestly don’t remember… we probably just slept in since we had driven home from Ohio the day prior!

Lunch – Leftovers from Christmas week. We came home with like 4 different meals  🙂  Several were not vegan, but I do not waste food if at all possible, so we ate them up this week.

Dinner – mom sent us home with a bag full of leftover turkey and gravy, so I added frozen mixed veggies and flour, topped it all with biscuits, and called it a pot pie

leftover Christmas turkey pot pie

We watched Bird Box on Netflix and drank fizzy wine for the New Year, and went to bed like the old folks that we are haha

Tuesday:

Breakfast – big smoothie of frozen mixed berries, amla powder, flax seed, and almond milk

Lunch – cooked a batch of sorghum and made a “everything in the fridge” lentil curry to go with it in the instant pot. And I thawed the leftover injera from Dec to make it more fun to eat.

sorghum curry

Snack – banana bread a friend gave us for Christmas

Dinner – I made a batch of saffron rice and a crazy lazy version of Hoppin John with black eyed peas for the New Year. No greens though, so this year might be disastrous for our finances haha

new years hoppin john

Wednesday:

Breakfast – big smoothie of frozen mixed berries, amla powder, flax seed, and almond milk

Lunch – leftover half of a tofu sofritas burrito from Chipotle on the drive home

Snack – hummus & cucumber slices

hummus and cucumber

Dinner – we tried jackfruit for the first time. The internet says it is a vegan superfood, and they are right! It doesn’t have much of a taste on its own, but it shreds just like chicken or pork, and cooks into whatever you want.

canned jackfruit

I made some rolls to put it on, and added some shredded carrots and cooked beans for bulk, and we had bbq sandwiches with baked sweet potato fries.

jackfruit bbq sandwich

Thursday:

Breakfast – banana bread from a friend & coffee

banana bread

Lunch – leftover mushroom soup from Christmas with a big salad of spring mix, blueberries, dried apricots, and walnuts.

soup and salad

Y’all this mushroom soup recipe has been in my family for generations, and we all wait all year for it. Is it vegan? Hell naw. Cause heavy cream and butter are lyfe in Ohio. But am I gonna let it go to waste? Hell. to. the. no.

Dinner – Pumpkin gnocchi with pumpkin I froze earlier, and thawed pesto, topped with cashew cream and hot sauce

pumpkin gnocchi with pesto and cashew cream

Friday:

Breakfast – big smoothie of frozen mixed berries, amla powder, flax seed, and coconut water

Lunch – a big salad, and leftover eggplant parm with frozen mixed broccoli and cauliflower

eggplant parm and veggies

Snack – Hummus & cut up cucumber

Dinner – I forgot to add one exception to my Veganuary rules… sushi. Sushi, wine, and popcorn are my kryptonite. So when a friend invited us to an over-due AYCE sushi night, I wasn’t about to say “no, put a pin in that until February please”. I had the most plates. 😀

The Weekend

The weekend will include cleaning the house from the tornado it has become. We need to put away Christmas things and generally tidy up the clutter. Mari Kondo has a show on Netflix now, so that’s hopefully gonna motivate me to keep purging clutter. I officially accepted the Dragons on Fire’s challenge to de-clutter and get rid of 1000 items this year!

shoes

I’m off to a strong start, decluttering 11 items starting with hats and gloves on January 1st. Then I tackled shoes, purging a total of 15 pairs and keeping another 28 pairs. Pretty sure the boy has maybe 5… (2 tennis, 1 formal, 1 hiking/snow, 1 slippers).

It’s not fair, for girls we have so many different styles compared to dudes, and need all the styles in different colors too! (Flats, flip flops, running shoes, ankle boots, tall boots, heels, formal or casual, black and brown…) But it’s a start.

quail

I’m also oh so happy to have my covey back! I missed these girls over break, and the pure jolt of joy when I find an egg. They had a great time on my friend’s farm, though one met a tragic end… the flock also accidentally expanded. Someone left a box with several quail, and the two groups were combined.

The person watching them kept a few, but I ended up coming home with 11 rather than 9, of which 9 or 10 are girls! So I’m not mad, that means oodles of eggs come spring time.

Food Total: $66.95

No produce box, deliveries resume next week. I also forgot to cancel the Butcher Box subscription, so that charge will show up next week, oopsie… At least their meat ‘meets’ my strict criteria! So the boy will get one treat night next week.

By the way, the deal they are running now is $25 for Alaskan wild salmon. If you use my affiliate link –> http://fbuy.me/lwpAj <– and sign up, we both get 2 pounds of wild salmon free! I would keep going for another box for that!

Meats $7.08 Dairy $7.06 Staples $24.17 Fruit/Veg $25.55
vegan burgers x2 kinds 7.08 flavored Greek 1.58 org salsa mild med 3.78 org avocados 4 x3 10.47
plain Greek yogurt 32oz 3.49 coconut water can x2 1.96 frozen berries x2 3.84
organic hummus 1.99 1.99 coconut water box x2 4.98 sweet potatoes x2 bags 3.38
hot sauce 1.49 bananas 11 1.39
organic seed bread x2 7.98 blueberries 1.99
wraps x2 3.98 big box spring mix 3.49
seedless cucumber 0.99

 

How about you guys? Did you have a learning week or an awesome week of wins?

 

 

Merry Christmas & Happy New Years!

 

Wow!  2015 has really flown by.  I believe I speak for the majority of the north east if not the USA when I say; how in the heck is it nearly Christmas!  Totally snuck up this year.  The spring-like weather, while totally amazing, don’t get me wrong, I love 50/60s in December, has us all in a kerfluffle over it not feeling… well… Christmas-y.  Those who now or have always lived in warmer climates may not agree, but to those of us who are used to white Christmases, it is not quite the same feeling when it’s dreary & raining…

Also it seems like this year has had a higher than usual number of negative events.  Almost every person I talk to has had an illness, a job loss, or a death in the family.  People have not even decorated, grocery shopped, or bought gifts yet, let alone wrap them!

Amidst my own personal battle with what turns out to be an atypical sinus infection and a job transition, I have at the least accomplished gift-buying, but sadly neglected my writing. What seems like years (though in reality has been just over two weeks) of sore throats, incessant coughing, complete lack of sleep, and stuffy nose was caused by rude little bacteria, not the virus I suspected.  Though prudent in my desire to not abuse antibiotics, turns out in this case I needed it!  I am slowly on the mend, but about to get even busier.  So forgive me, but I will be taking a break from the blog for the holidays.

As such, please enjoy this lovely anthology of holiday articles past!

General Christmas/Holiday articles:

Christmas Cooking & Baking:

Gift Ideas & DIYs:

You will find plenty of last-minute, frugal, and/or DIY gift ideas for everyone from your artistic aunt to your rugged hunter cousin, recipe and cookie ideas to delight and nourish the family and friends, and plenty of history and reflections to ponder in your few precious moments of down-time.

And don’t forget the most important part of the holiday season: Love!  The love of friends and family, the love of community and neighbors, and love for yourself.  May your holiday season be restful, rejuvenating, and filled with love and laughter.

Merry Christmas dear readers! See you in 2016!

Christmas Tree Appetizer Tray

 

With the holiday season come holiday parties. From friends to family reunions, cocktail hours and work gatherings, the holidays are rife with opportunity to eat things we normally wouldn’t, shouldn’t, and far more of them. You could choose to just eat yourself into a coma every week and deal with the consequences later. You could live a puritanical existence for the next few weeks, exercising iron will over all sweets and tasty delights. Or…

You could choose better options. You could nudge family, friends, and co-workers in a healthier direction. You could provide healthy yet delicious treats, so you know you will always have something healthful to enjoy at any get-together.

I know which option I choose each year.

Would you like to know the answer to one of life’s biggest questions? How can you be both happy and healthy all the time? The key to health and happiness, is moderation. Go ahead and indulge in the things that truly bring you joy, like the cookies you look forward to all year, spiral-sliced holiday ham, or your aunt’s amazing casserole. But know that means you must cut back in other areas. Don’t have every appetizer offered, three cups of eggnog, seconds and thirds at dinner, followed by an entire angel food cake roll.

And by bringing healthier options to any party or gathering, you virtually guarantee yourself at least one option that will be “safe” and you can indulge as much as you like. You are also giving everyone else at the party a healthy option they may not have considered previously.

Christmas tree healthy appetizer tray

This is an appetizer tray my mother had made for a party last year.  You will notice that it not only looks very appealing, with its holiday themed tree shape, but it also has a whole cornucopia of options from broccoli to cheeses, to olives and grape tomatoes. This would be awesome to serve with a healthful dip on the side such as Black Bean Hummus, Lean Green Guacamole, or Radish, Onion & Herb cream cheese dip.

How to create an appetizer tree:

  • 1 large head broccoli
  • 1 can black olives
  • 1 small jar green olives
  • Assorted cheese cubes
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • Handful of pretzel sticks
  • Any other dipping veggies, cut into cubes or sticks

Step 1: Dice all your veggies into bite size pieces, and cube the cheeses.  Drain the olives.

Step 2: In a large pan or on a serving platter, arrange the cheese and vegetables in layers, including at least 2 large layers of broccoli for the green color. Finish with a handful of pretzels on the bottom for the tree trunk.

You could get very creative with this, for example by including “ornaments” on the tree by using different colors of vegetables or fruits, or making different shapes.  You could use cauliflower, red bell peppers and tomatoes to create a santa hat shape, or other types of finger foods arranged to look like wrapped gifts.  Let your imagination run wild, and watch as the crowd gobbles up healthy nibbles happily!

Easy Christmas Cookie Recipes

 

COOOOOOOKIES!!!

‘Tis the season to bake cookies, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la. Then we eat them by the dozen, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.

As December marches by and we scramble for last-minute gift ideas, deck the halls, and trim the tree, we also spend more time in the kitchen whipping up seasonal sweets and indulging in others at the office, family parties and get-togethers.

Some are ambitious and organized and already have seven dozen of seven different kinds stocked away in the freezer. Others whip out the plastic at the bakery to save themselves time and hassle. 

This tree gave its life to make our living room look awesome last year.

But if there’s anything my family rocks at, it is Christmas baked goods! I was raised in a sugar-filled, flour-covered kitchen during the holidays and would have it no other way. We have plenty of unique cookies due to our Hunkie heritage (is that a real word? It means Slovak/Polish/Hungarian) like the finger-scalding Lily my aunt and brother sacrifice layers of skin for each year, the much-fought-over Clothespins using actual wooden clothespins which have the spring air of yesteryear soaked up inside them, the hours-long, love-filled process in which you can NEVER have too much apricot filling that creates epic Kolachi rolls,  and my personal favorite sugar-filled and sugar-coated diabetes-inducing dream, the simple, buttery, Cracker Cookie.

Christmas dessert spread, awwyeah.

I personally have assisted in the making of each of these treats in years past as well as several others, and as I’m sure you know there is quite a variety of difficulty levels in cookie-baking. But let me assure you that no matter how pressed for time, nor how tiny your kitchen, you can create some Santa-worthy treats in no time.

Pre-mixed dough

Your first option is of course the pre-mixed dough you cut and stick in the oven. I am definitely not going to scoff at that, most are darn tasty, plus you can save some in the fridge to just nibble on. Chocolate chip is of course a favorite, but sugar and other types have a strong presence too. They have rolls of it, blocks, whole tubs if you have an appetite or lots of guests. You can get creative with cut-outs and shapes, add your own mix-ins like coconut, mint, or toffee, or just go old-school.

Brickles and Brittles

Brickles and brittles are typically any liquid syrupy mixture poured over a solid base. The syrup hardens, and you then break it apart into chunks. There are many variations, and most are quite simple and quick. Here are three favorites:

Saltine cracker simple brickle
This disappears faster at our house than the paper wrapping off of gifts. It is overwhelmingly rich and sugary. You might want to make two batches…

Ingredients:
1 box of saltine crackers
1 cup sugar
1/2 pound butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups chocolate chips

1. Line a pan with heavy-duty foil and preheat oven to 350. Lay out the saltines in a single layer.
2. Melt the butter and sugar in a pan, stirring constantly. Once smooth and bubbling, remove from heat and stir in vanilla, quickly pour over the layer of crackers. 
3. Bake for 7 minutes, the sugar and butter will melt and bake into the crackers. Spread the chocolate chips evenly over the hot butter with a spatula and it will melt. Bake another 2 minutes, then let cool. Place in the freezer overnight, then break into pieces. Store refrigerated or frozen.

Peppermint Bark
For those who like white chocolate and enjoy the minty symbol of the season, the peppermint, this is a perfect present. With only five ingredients and two steps, you can have a batch of this made in about two hours. Just in time for guests to arrive, or to wrap up some in pretty packages for a party hostess gift.


Ingredients:
2 tbsp oil, divided
8 oz semisweet or dark chocolate
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
8 oz white chocolate, divided
25 crushed peppermint candies or 10 canes

1.  Grease a 9×9 pan and line with wax paper. In a double boiler melt the dark chocolate and 1 tbsp oil until smooth. When completely liquid, add 1/4 tsp peppermint extract and pour evenly into the covered pan. Spread half the peppermint over the chocolate and refrigerate until hard. 
2. In a double boiler melt the white chocolate and other tbsp oil. When smooth, add the other 1/4 tsp peppermint extract. Pour over the dark chocolate layer, and add the rest of the peppermint and press in. Refrigerate until fully hardened, and break into small pieces.


Peanut Brittle
This one is a bit more time intensive, but still simple. It is also a great frugal gift, everyone loves homemade candy. Be sure to have all the ingredients ready and measured out, you have no time to waste once begun. From BettyCrocker recipes.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup water
3 tbsp butter
1 pound unroasted peanuts
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp water
1 tsp vanilla

1. Mix 1 tsp water, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 1/2 tsp baking soda and set aside. Heat oven to 200 and keep two cookies sheets warm inside the oven. 
2. Mix sugar, water and corn syrup in a pan. Stir over medium heat until 240 or a small amount dropped into cold water forms a ball. 
3. Stir in butter and peanuts, cook further until 300 degrees or a small amount dropped into cold water forms brittle threads. 
4. Remove from heat, and quickly stir in baking soda mixture. Pour half mixture onto each heated cookie sheet, and let cool completely. Break into pieces and store in air-tight container.

My favorite no-bake recipe:

This chocolate peanut butter no-bake cookies recipe from AllRecipes is one of my favorites.

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
4 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 cups quick-cook oats
1 tsp vanilla

1. Combine sugar, milk, butter and cocoa in a pot and bring to a boil for 1 1/2 minutes. The recipe cautions against boiling too long, or not long enough.
2. Remove from heat, stir in the peanut butter, oats and vanilla. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper and let cool.

Simple chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate chip, the classic all-American cookie. Amazing any time of the year, they are a crucial part of any holiday dessert spread. You can use semi-sweet, sweet- or dark chocolate chips, or get real crazy and use butterscotch, white chocolate, or a mixture. This quick recipe from Cookie-Smart makes about 2 dozen.

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup chips
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 375. Mix the flour, sugars, chips, salt and baking soda in one bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the egg, melted butter and vanilla.
2. Mix both bowls together well, use your hands if you don’t mind. Dough should be slightly sticky yet firm. 
3. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheet or wax paper. Bake at 375 for 8-9 minutes until golden brown.

Simple sugar cookies  

Endlessly versatile, sugar cookie dough can have any number of mix-ins added to it. But it is also a classic on its own. Adapting to cookie cutters as though made for each other, sugar cookies can become blank canvases for snowmen, Santas, wreaths, and tree creations. This recipe from RealSimple is real simple.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups flour plus extra
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

1. In a bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar until smooth, then whisk in the egg. 
2. If you have a stand mixer, lucky you! Use that and slowly add in flour while mixing. Otherwise, loosen up those biceps and slowly mix the flour into the sugar/egg/butter mixture. Dough should be stiff. Refrigerate about an hour before rolling out to 1/4 inch thick and cutting into shapes.
3. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes, until beginning to brown. Let cool and decorate.

Turn round sugar cookies into snowmen with big marshmallows and creative decorating!

What about vegetarian/vegan goodies?


In case you are vegetarian/vegan or someone in your family is, there is this vegan, gluten-free version from TwoPeasAndTheirPod. By using almond milk and coconut oil it eliminates the butter and dairy products. I think shredded coconut comes from the devil, but if that’s your thing then enjoy!

The website OhSheGlows also has oodles of vegan, raw, lowfat, gluten-free, etc recipes so check it out!


Do you have any simple to make holiday treats you wait all year long to indulge in?