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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Weekly Menu

Here's what's on the menu at the Hive this week.

Monday - Te-Man was sick...So we literally had french fries for dinner.  I thought about feeling guilty about this...and then I thought screw that. :)
Tuesday - Salads, Homemade Roasted Garlic Whole Wheat pretzels (Keeper? Wolverine says yay...I say nay.  We'll see if I can make them better.), and Plant Based Spinach Artichoke Dip
Wednesday - Red Beans and Corn Bread (I'll take a picture tonight and post this one soon!)
Thursday - Black Bean and Quinoa Burgers with Oven Baked Beans and salads
Friday - Coconut Curry Noodles (this one is amazing! I can't believe I haven't posted it yet! Soon!!)
Saturday - Vegetable Pot Pie
Sunday - We're going to the Rams Game!!!

What are you eating this week?

Do you have any tricks to share about how to make dinners throughout the week easier?  I love freezing a second dinner's worth of meals - it is awesome to know that a simple opening of the freezer door means dinner!

You know how they say to have all of your basic veggies and fruits washed and prepped for easy meal prep.  They aren't kidding!!!  I have started recently dicing/slicing/cubing/etc peppers, onions, cucumbers, zucchini, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, etc. on the weekend so that during the week all I have to do is grab the containers from the fridge.  This week I took it a step further and actually combined all of the vegetables in the specific amounts each recipe called for.  Then I just labeled the top with some masking tape and a marker.  So I have a container marked Red Beans, Baked Beans, Curry, and Pot Pie.  Then all I have to do is grab the one dish and add the remaining ingredients.  So awesome!!!
I do this with my granola bars, cookies, and pumpkin bread too.  When your recipe calls for sometimes 10 different types of nuts, seeds, oats, etc. it can be a pain digging everything out of the cabinet each time.  So I just pre-measure all of my dry ingredients into sealed containers and then when I want to make something I grab it back out, add the maple syrup, applesauce, etc and BAM into the oven! :)

I also dice and freeze left over fruit before it goes bad - instant smoothies or Popsicles!

I have also been lately cooking off three to four times the amount of beans I need and then freezing them in 15oz portions so I can just grab a bag of beans without having to have the forethought of soaking them the night before.  I guess normal people would just use a can not really a time saving tip unless you're looney like me. :)

Have a wonderful week!!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Be in Love...

With Your Life...Every Minute of It.

I need to have this tattooed on my arm.  I so often fall victim to the I'll be happy "when" sickness.  My life is amazing - right now.

I need to stop worrying if have met all of my imaginary deadlines, if I accomplish everything on my completely ridiculous to-do list, if I have "done enough" today, if I have done enough for everyone else.

I need to start doing more for me, being in the moment, realizing our world will not end if things get put off until tomorrow, next week, or never get done, realizing that doing things with people is usually better than doing things for them.

Today, there were probably 15 things my brain was telling me I "should" be doing...but instead I took my blanket and my coffee outside and sat on the bench in my yard surrounded by my garden and the birds and watched the sunrise.  It was awesome.  Then I walked around the garden and inspected all of my beautiful seedlings that are just coming through the might not have been the most productive activity in terms of getting my to-do list done....but it definitely was productive in filling my soul with the beauty around me.

Be in love with your life...every minute of it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Komen Race For the Cure

Wolverine's mother lost her battle with Breast Cancer when she was just a few years old that I heart aches every day that I will never get the chance to meet the mother of the most amazing man I have ever met.

This October, I am doing my part.  I am donating 25% of my Premier Designs jewelry sales and my Honey Bee Bottoms sales to Komen Race for the Cure.   If you spend $100 on jewelry or diapers, I will give you a Courage bracelet as my thank you to you!
If you are interested in seeing a catalog for the jewelry or have any questions, please feel free to contact me!
Let's all do a little to make a BIG DIFFERENCE!

Thank you!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday Meal Menu

Well...after we stopped getting the reclaimed produce boxes, we started getting weekly boxes of vegetables from a local co-op.  It was fun, but we decided that we could get a better bang for our buck if we just purchased it ourselves (or grew it!!)

I have been busy prepping and planting in the garden.  So far, we have carrots and beets growing strong, kale and swiss chard from summer plantings, as well as the green onions, lima beans, peppers, green beans, and okra from this summer.
So far this fall, we've planted more beets, radishes, peas, turnips, more kale, lettuce, more swiss chard, and spinach.

I planted a package of bok choy seeds...though they were definitely not bok choy.  It's some kind of lettuce...not sure what it is, so we just call it not-bok-choy. :)  It's actually a really nice and buttery lettuce. :)

So...I'm not sure if you saw my ridiculous pepper harvesting that I've been doing, but I've harvested 3 batches of peppers this large in September alone!  My freezer is filled with bags of peppers (not to mention all the fruit I froze over the summer, the corn, the kale I've been freezing, the beans that I make in huge batches, or the 27 bags of candy roaster pumpkin I have in there! :) ).

I was laying in bed this morning and I was craving Baked Beans! I told you I LOVE them. :)  So, that's dinner tonight.  Baked beans, potato wedges, and salad.

Yesterday I chopped up a ton of peppers to rotate through the freezer on cookie sheets to freeze before bagging.  I pulled out the bowl from the fridge this morning and I suddenly realized I should make Black Bean and Corn Salsa!  It would go great with the left over rice from yesterday's Red Beans and Rice.   Well, I threw it all together this morning, so now tomorrow's dinner is already done!
Then I was thinking about the huge container of spinach I bought on an impulse last week and the $1 mushroom containers I picked up also.  Then I thought - yeah, Lentil Loaf! :)  We love Rip's from My Beef With Meat.  So lentil loaf and roasted veggies sound perfect for Wednesday.  The lentil loaves taste even better when they are made a day or two in advance, so they are in the oven as I type this.  It smells amazing in here!!!  

Now I felt like I was on a roll so I was thinking about what to have the rest of the week, I'm going to try Fat Free Vegan's Mac and Cheese with a salad on Thursday.  I'm so excited about it!!

That brings us to Friday - which is our anniversary, so I'm thinking we'll go out to eat. :) If not, I think Pad Thai would be delicious.

Saturday will be left overs.
Sunday I think some Sweet Potato Chili that I have in the freezer sounds fantastic.  And that gets me through the week!!! :)

And dinners are actually made for every day except one - heck yes to free time in the fall to enjoy the beautiful weather with my Te-Man!!  :)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

One Pot Wonder

Sometimes I want spaghetti, but not regular spaghetti - I used to make a dish in the oven called "fresh spaghetti" that I think of it, I haven't made that in a LONG time...I'll have to come up with a way to make it plant based and share it with you all! :)

Anyway, anything that cures my spaghetti craving while simultaneously curing my need for something different and tastes amazing and is met with noodle filled "mmmm"s and slurping - must be a winner! :)

And....wait for this only you One Pot! What?!  After the insane mess I usually make in the kitchen with every dish in my cabinet (i.e. Black Bean and Quinoa Burgers), one pot? That's fantastic!!!

One Pot Wonder
What's In It:
4 c vegetable broth
1 12-13oz box of spaghetti (or angel hair, fettucini, etc)
8 oz spinach, sliced (or swiss chard, kale, etc)
1 medium onion, diced
2 28oz cans diced tomatoes (do not drain)
4 cloves garlic
1 t dried basil
2 t dried oregano
1 t dried thyme
nutritional yeast (optional)

What To Do With It:
Add everything to the pot, break noodles in half and add them last.

Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce heat to medium, remove lid, and boil 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle with nutritional yeast or your favorite spaghetti toppings. :)


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Black Bean Quinoa Burgers

Did you wake up today thinking I NEED to find a better meatless burger recipe?  Te-Man just told me he did. :)  
Maybe you're looking for a veggie burger recipe and you didn't even know it. :)  

I was searching for a recipe that made me forget I wasn't eating a regular burger - or as close to that as I can get. This is hands down the best veggie burger I have ever made - and it's for that reason that I don't mind making ever dish in my house dirty to make them.  Well - I guess I mind a little, which is why I always double this recipe and freeze the burgers.  I get anywhere from 50-60 burgers from a double batch, so I don't make them very often, but we get to eat them whenever we want! :)

Now you have the burger...are you looking for something to pair it with?  How about these Oven Baked Beans


Black Bean Quinoa Burgers
What's In It:
2 c water
1 c quinoa
1 c whole wheat macaroni (uncooked)
2 c black beans (canned or cooked)
2 c red beans cooked
1 1/3 c bbq sauce
1 medium onion
1 t garlic, minced
2 t chili powder
1 t mustard powder
1/2 t hickory salt (or regular salt)
1/2 t pepper
2 c whole wheat bread crumbs

What To Do With It:
Bring the 2 cups of water to a boil, add the quinoa, stir, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer  for 20 minutes.  Set aside when finished.
Meanwhile, in a seperate pot, boil the macaroni until over done.  Drain.
Using a food processor, process the macaroni until you can no longer see any whole noodles.  Add the beans, bbq sauce, seasonings, onion, and garlic.  Process until smooth.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the bean mixture, bread crumbs, and quinoa and mix well.
Shape into burgers and freeze or cook.

To cook, heat skillet over medium high heat and cook until browned on both sides and heated through. 3-5 minutes per side.   If using frozen burgers, be sure to thaw them before cooking.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Oven Baked Beans

I LOVE beans and these baked beans are my all time favorite.

I can eat these for days on end.  Seriously.  I buy enough beans to make this at least 3 times a month and I definitely have the largest serving at dinner and then I eat them for lunch for at least the next two days.  And then I cry a little when the dish is empty. ;)

I LOVE these! You can play with the sweetness by adding less bbq sauce or maybe using a mustard or vinegar based bbq sauce.

Or leave them as is and savor every bite.

Bean Crock :)

Oven Baked Beans
What's In It:
28oz can Bush's Vegetarian Beans*
16 oz can chili beans
16 oz can kidney beans
1 c bbq sauce
1 c ketchup
1 bell pepper, finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
1 T brown mustard
1 T onion powder

What To Do With It:
Mix together and bake in a 9x13 in pan at 350 degrees F for 1 hour.

*Or your favorite baked beans

Monday, September 23, 2013

Wow - Chipotle Nails It!

This video is amazing.  Makes me cry every time I see it.  I feel like this is exactly what I want to scream from the top of my lungs every day!

Watch it.

Watch it again.

Share it.

Talk about it.


Blueberry Breakfast Tarts

Let's start the return to blogging off right with some super delicious, surprisingly easy, and crowd pleasing Blueberry Breakfast Tarts.
Before I get to the recipe, it's confession time.  Do any of you remember the friends episode where Monica says, "And the fat girl inside me of really wants to go.  I-I owe her this.  I never let her eat."  This is the only line from that show that I remember.  I guess it really hit a nerve with me. :)  I'll tell you a secret - not many people know this....but I think I had a poptart addiction as a child.  I would sneak extra of those crazy space-ready-tinfoil packets out of the cabinet and I would hide them in our downstairs couch and eat them when I was down there by myself.  Maybe I was a squirrel in a past life and I just have this need to store food - that could explain my insane canning situation. haha.
 I was a rather overweight child and have struggled a bit as an adult as well.  Since going plant based, I find myself eating until I'm full and being very content with that.  Sometimes that means 3 bowls of chili other times, it's just a salad.  I think that listening to when my body is really hungry and not being ashamed or afraid to feed that hunger until it is gone (even if I get some weird looks - yes, this is all for me!) is such a liberating feeling.  I'm not afraid to down two entire plates of food because I know the food I'm eating is almost always fruits and vegetables or whole grains.  I haven't been exercising the way I should (read that as not-at-all) for probably 2 months, but I haven't gained a pound and believe me...I have been EATING! :)

So, now that I've gone on and on about eating whole unprocessed foods, let's slip in a treat.  I made these about a month ago and they barely survived the first 30 minutes. :)  Delicious!!

You should 100% take a few minutes to make these - but don't hide any under your couch. :)

Blueberry Breakfast Tarts
What's In It:*
1 1/2 c blueberries
1/4 c sugar
1 T lemon juice
1 T cornstarch

2 pie crusts**

What To Do With It:
Stir together berries, sugar, and lemon juice.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir in cornstarch and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes or so until the mixture gets nice and thick.  If it's too thick, add a little water.  Once you reached a spreadable consistency, set it aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet.

Roll out half of your dough into a thin rectangle.  Cut into smaller rectangles about 2.5 in x 4 in - the size here isn't really important, just however big you want your tarts.

Place half of your rectangles on the baking sheet (or as many as will fit - I had to do 2 batches)

Take a heaping tablespoon of blueberry filling and spread onto each rectangle on the baking sheet.

Top each rectangle on the baking sheet with another rectangle of dough. Slightly crimp the edges with a fork. 
Sprinkle with a bit of sugar if desired.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges just start to turn a light brown. 

Allow to cool on the pan for a few minutes before serving.

**If you are really crunched for time or just don't have any blueberries, you can always use jam as the filling instead.  I ran out of blueberry filling and I still had 6 rectangles left, so I used some homemade peachsauce (like applesauce but made with peaches) as the was fantastic! 
*Use your favorite recipe.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

First Day of Fall

Happy Fall everyone!  It is officially my favorite time of the year!  I could sit here and list all of the reasons for you, but that would take FOREVER so I'll just highlight a few.

My Anniversary with Wolverine - it'll be 5 years this year. :)
Annual camping trip with the Super Parents to Tellico Plains, TN
Ze-Ra's Birthday
General Fall Awesomeness! :)

I'm going to try to be on here a bit more...definitely been neglecting the blog these days.  I guess all the summer activities got in the way. :)  I'll do my best. :)

Have a wonderful fall!!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

It was good while it lasted!

The end of the Reclaimed Produce has arrived.  :(

Produce Guy informed me a few weeks ago that his company had recently released new guidance on changes to store policies and included in that memo was that the produce and bakery departments are no longer allowed to give away food to anyone other than a registered food bank.

He was so apologetic and really felt terribly.  I assured him that I understood completely and that I appreciated being able to pick up the produce that I was able to over the past almost year. that grocery budget that I was so proud of reducing......well that's about to go through the roof! UGH.

We eat a TON of plants around here.  I mean - a ton!  When I go to the grocery store and get asked if I am a caterer or if I own a restaurant - I think that tells you how many vegetables and greens I buy - and that's with having a garden!

So...out comes the Menu Planner.   It was so hard to use it when I didn't know what food I would be getting each week in the boxes, so it was always a "fly by the seat of my pants" kinda thing when it came to planning dinners.  We've only been using it again for 2 weeks and this thing saves me so much money!!!

I "liked" BackYard Produce on facebook a few months back and I love their recipes/ideas they post all the time.  They also deliver customizable boxes of fruit/veggies/meat/cheeses/etc to your house once a week.  They post what is in the next week's box on Thursday and you have until Saturday to customize your box.  Then it just shows up at your house! :)

We are getting our first box today and I am so excited! Even with getting the super-jumbo-you-eat-an-insane-amount-of-produce sized box - it still isn't enough.  But I am so happy that we can provide our family with almost exclusively local grown, organic produce and then I simply have to supplement throughout the week.  This week, I plan on having to buy limes, cilantro, and of course more bananas - we eat them like they are going out of style! I will be continuing to use tomatoes, peppers, beans, okra, kale, etc from our garden as well as all of the tasty canned goods I've been so busily putting up for the past month or so.  I also have some left over apples, potatoes, and oranges that I bought last week, so we'll be set for a bit.

We also, may or may not have purchased 80 pounds of organic Vidalia onions that are now adorning my canning shelves....we go through at least 1- 1 1/2 five pound bags of onions a week, so I hope those will last us a bit! :)

Not too bad of a start for getting back to the real world of having to purchase your produce - if you ask me!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

HH Plant Based Blueberry Muffins

Did I mention that I LOVE Lindsay over at Happy Herbivore?  I am not kidding when I say that every recipe I've tried of hers is FANTASTIC! Seriously people, Julia Child and Martha Stewart should step aside, because this lady has GOT IT!

These muffins are phenomenal.  I mean, pay $5 at Starbucks without thinking twice good.  I think they are, in fact, the best blueberry muffin I have ever had.  They are a little sweet, a little chewy, more dense than a cupcake - but in a good way!

Excuse me, I'm going to have to go wipe up the drool from my keyboard, be right back. ;)

Maybe I'll whip up a batch of these while I'm in the kitchen and then give myself a high-five for being totally awesome! :)

HH Plant Based Blueberry Muffins
What's In It:
1 1/2 c wheat flour
1/2 c oats
3 t baking soda
1/4 c brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
1/4 t salt
1 c unsweetened applesauce
1/4 c maple syrup
1 T lemon juice
3/4 c frozen blueberries

What To Do With It:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 12 muffin, muffin tray.
Whisk dry ingredients together.  Add wet ingredients, stirring until completely combined.
Fold in frozen blueberries.
Divide between 12 lined muffin cups.  Sprinkle with extra oats and brown sugar if desired.
Bake 15-23** minutes.

*I don't buy baking powder and I've been out of cream of tartar for a month, so I improvise a bit and use 3 teaspoons of baking soda and a tablespoon of lemon juice.  I don't know how this recipe works using the originally called for 2 t baking powder and 1 t baking soda, but I'm sure it's awesome! :)
**The original recipe says to bake them for 15-18, but mine always take at least 22, so I'd say use your best judgement on the temperament of your oven.  It's always easy to add more time! :)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen....are your paintbrushes ready?

Because we are about to get our PAINT ON! :)

I had tons of random pieces of wood in the garage that were driving me crazy...but the hoarder in me couldn't throw them away - so I had to find a use for them.  In comes pinterest. :)

The projects were all super simple and I did all three of them in about a day and half and that's only because I had to wait for paint to dry. :)

I'm sure you've all seen this one online - I LOVE it! :)

This one I painted based off of something I found in a magazine years ago and I kept the page this whole time....I decided I just needed to DO IT! :)  It hangs in our kitchen right next to our back door. :)

These I made this past fall for Halloween.  I am too much of a cheap-skate to buy Halloween decorations, so I made a few of my own...I think they looked pretty cute out there with the pumpkins and gourds. :)
I just free handed everything - but it was so fun!  I put tea-lights inside of the mason jars and they looked great!

Then this last one I think is my favorite.  We each have a name board - I screwed little eye hooks into the top edge and then it just sits on 2 nails in the board.  I did try to make my own chalkboard paint, which was a HUGE mess - not sure what I did wrong, but my paint was the consistency of play-dough.  I made sure I added the exact amounts and then....who knows what happened, but I totally went with store bought.  :)
Anyway, it is so fun to see what Ze-Ra and Wolverine write on here! And I see everyone check it in the morning when they come downstairs. :)

I would love to see your craftiness!!!  Feel free to post away on the Facebook Page or even send me an email and I can post it if you'd like! :)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Kid's Table Cover

My Grandpa was a wood working magician.  He was the most good-hearted man I have ever met.  He was a salt of the earth farmer and could make everything from china cabinets to benches to wall-hanging crescent moons to my personal favorite...Bunny Furniture!

I'm not sure if he saw this pattern somewhere or if he created it, but either way, this stuff is hand made, stained, and painted.  Each of my Aunt's have one and each of us grandkids does as well. I remember being a kid and seeing rows and rows of bunnies hanging to dry from the basement ceiling. :)

So you can imagine this piece of furniture is near and dear to my heart - but I still want my kids to use it....what to do...what to do....

Ah ha! I made some fitted sheets for Te-Man's bed (using this tutorial over at DanaMadeIt) when he was younger (because I refused to pay $40 per sheet for a baby!) and I thought I could use that same idea, but use laminated fabric to make it waterproof.

I am totally thinking about making one using the measurements for a standard picnic table so that when we got to a park or camping we don't have to worry about the table cloth blowing away or remembering clamps/etc. :)

Plush Alphabet

This is the very first thing I ever pinned on Pinterest.  I made these for Te-Man over a year ago and he plays with them quite a bit.  It is fun to choose a letter and go find things that start with that letter or we hold and trace them while we read his Star Wars Alphabet Book.  I also made him a simple little drawstring sack to keep them in.

If I had it to do over again, I think I'd make them a little thicker with either thicker batting or two layers.  Other than that, we love them!

Here's the whole Alphabet and numbers 1-10
Here's a close-up so you can see how imperfect my sewing was...this one is probably the worst - as far as my stitches not even staying on the fabric. Sheesh - I must have been in a rush (or since it's a U, maybe I was getting tired of going all the way through the alphabet! haha). Also, if you have a serger you could serge the edges so they don't fray - but I wasn't going for perfect (clearly!) so I didn't mind the frayed threads.

Also, you can see that the batting is exposed, so like always, watch your kids with these. :)

Here's my Te-Man and Wiley Kat's son enjoying some snacks :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cave Fort

Have you seen the pictures on pinterest of the sheet/fan fort?  It looks pretty awesome and I was thinking that of course, the Z-Squad needed to have one. :)

I went to thrifting and found some sheets - in fact, I got a california king set and 2 flat full sheets for less than $4. :)

Then I went to sewing.

First, I sewed the two full sheets together along their "long" side.

Then, I laid the king sheet out flat on the floor and laid the sewn together full sheets on top of it.  They didn't quite match up, the full sheets were a little longer, but I figured that's ok because the fort will just have more space, so I kind of "pleated" the top fabric...I just folded it over every once in a while to pick up the extra slack so that when I got to the corner they matched up. If you are wanting your fort to be beautiful or your sheets have patterns, you might want to make sure that you have the "inside"sides facing.

Now....just sew 'er up.  You'll want to leave a space of about 3-4' un-sewn at one end to allow access (by people) and to allow room to fit in your fan.  

Spread the fort out, put in the fan, and BAM Instant FUN!!

We had a little picnic, did some reading, even had a small pillow "fight".  Lots of giggles and all kinds of fun memories!

**Of course, any time kids are involved with something like a fan - parental guidance is necessary to protect their little curious fingers! But who wouldn't want to hang out in a fort all day? :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

SuperHero Capes

Have you ever stumbled upon a website and thought to yourself - this person is a GENIUS!!  That is the exact thought I had when I found Vanilla Joy.  I am almost speechless about it because it is just so awesome!   She's on Facebook too!
She has some Superhero Cape Patterns available for FREE and they are AMAZING! Super easy to use, work perfectly, look FANTASTIC, and kids LOVE them!
I have had more than one person tell me (and Wiley Kat) that I should sell them.  I don't think that would be right because I didn't create the pattern, but I can sure share it with everyone!

Every kid needs a cape and who better to make them one, but you?!