Monday, March 25, 2013

Vanilla Pancakes with Apple Compote

I just made this recipe up Sunday morning for a nice treat. It's easy and came together quickly. I used the Mexican Vanilla my mom brought back from her trip to Mexico.  I make small pancakes because they are easier to manage.

This recipe makes two servings, 5-6 small pancakes total.

Vanilla Pancakes
1 cup Bisquick
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup applesauce
2 tsp Vanilla

Spray a pan with cooking spray.

Heat the pan over medium heat.

While it heats, mix together all the ingredients in a bowl. Mix just until combined, it is okay to have a few lumps.

Once the pan is hot, pour about 1/6 of the batter into nice circle on the pan.  Repeat 2 to 3 more times, depending on how much space you have on the pan.

Once the bottom browns lightly, flip and brown lightly on the over side.

Repeat the previously two until all the batter is gone.

Apple Compote
2 Honey Crisp apples, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1.5 cups water
1 tbs cornstarch
Dash of salt

In a small sauce pan, add the chopped apples, sugar, and water.

Bring the pan to boil over medium-high heat.

Continue to boil until the apples soften slightly and turn a light golden color.

Reduce the heat and add the cornstarch and salt.

Cook for a few more minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Then remove from the heat and top your pancakes with it.

Flavorful and fluffy pancakes with sweet crisp apple compote, good way to start the day! I had some soy bacon on the side.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Oil Face Wash

A few months ago I found a something on Pintrest about washing your face with oil. At first I thought it sounded weird, but the more research it, the more it made sense.  Like dissolves like. Ever notice that soap is actually made from oil? Palmolive---made from palm and olive oil.

As a teenager, I had HORRIBLE acne and no product I tried worked. Also, I have very sensitive skin, so most products irritated my skin so much that it would peal (most prescription topical creams) or swell (Proactive and Clearasil).  I had no choice but to accept my acne. I started washing my face twice a day with plain soap and used a basic moisturizer. I still had acne, but it stopped getting so inflamed. And to be honest, the thing that really cured my acne was growing up and going vegetarian (which both happened round the same time). When I went vegan, my skin completely change. I have GORGEOUS skin now. Like people stop on the street and ask me about my beauty routine---no joke. However, I still had the occasional pimple. It is mainly just hormonal acne or from not taking my make-up off before I went to bed. It would go away quickly, but I still did not like it.

Then I read that article about washing with oil and it all began to make sense. Oil is gentle enough to not inflame my sensitive skin. Oil will cleanse my face and get all my make-up off. And oil will nourish my skin. And, the article stated that it can lessen the appearance of scars. I have a two large chicken pox scars on my face (I did not listen to my mom when she said not to scratch), and liked the idea of reducing them. Then I realized the best part, it's cheaper than cleansing products.

So I deiced to give it a try. After researching the net, I decided to try the combination of 3 part castor oil to 1 part olive oil.  This combination is best for combination-oily skin and for reducing scars.  I just mixed the oils together in a clean, empty bottle. The cleansing process goes like this:
  • Pouring about a quarter-sized amount of the oil in your palm
  • Rub your hands together to warm the oil
  • Massage the oil into your face, really working it in the pores, but be gentle (especially round your eyes)
  • Take your time, enjoy the massage, release some tension
  • Your skin will feel softer and the oil will feel thicker between your fingers once it all worked it 
  • Next take a clean washcloth and soak it very warm water---enough to be steaming but not enough to burn---and place it over your face
  • Leave it on for 30 seconds, this will open your pores to remove oil and the gunk it grabbed
  • Rinse the washcloth in warm water again and gentle wipe all the oil off your face
That's it! Your skin should be soft and supple now. If you have very dry skin or just was a little extra moisture, you can apply a small about of Vitamin E Oil as a moisturizer. But most of the time you should not need it after this cleansing process. 

Do some research of your own and figure out what combination of oil works best for you. And tweak the process to suit your needs as well. But this is a great way to save money, use less chemicals, and get gorgeous skin! 

Michael and I both started doing this and it has worked great for us. I am still using the same bottle of oil I made 3 months ago too. I do not have any more hormonal acne breakouts, and my skin very so smooth and soft. I do get a few pimples when I do not take my make-up off, but I bought some witch hazel and use that to take off my make-up quickly when I am lazy. Check out this pictures I took the other day at work. I only had on a light layer of powder and mascara. Who needs tons of make-up with skin like this?


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hawaiian "Chicken"

I saw a version of Hawaiian Chicken in crockpot on Pintrest and loved the idea.  I never  saw something exactly like this anywhere in Hawaii, so I cannot say it is an authentic dish. However,  almost every party I went to had BBQ chicken or pork, fresh pineapple or other fruits, and plenty of rice.

I used soy strips instead of chicken, which does not need to cook very long, so I did not use a crockpot.  I used canned pineapple, but if you have fresh, use it.

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Hawaiian "Chicken"
1 tbs olive oil
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 medium onion, cut into strips
1 bag of Gardein Chick'n Strips, minus the sauce
1/2 cup Teriyaki sauce
1 tbs white vinegar
8 oz can of Pineapple chunks in 100% juice
2 tbs soy sauce
1 clove of garlic, minced
Cooked rice

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat.

Once the pan is hot, add the chopped bell peppers and onion. Cook until tender.

Add the chick'n strips and heat through.

Add remaining ingredients (including the juice from the can of pienapples), except the rice. Cook until the sauce thickens slightly.

Serve over some rice and enjoy some (maybe not authentic) Aloha!

I miss Hawaii so much. I can't wait until Michael and I can take a vacation back to the Big Island!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Vanilla Apple Pie

What does a nerd do when it is her day off and Pi Day? Make a Pie to celebrate!

Speaking of work, you may have noticed that I have not been posting as much lately. I got a new job, and it is great but very busy. I will get better about posting as I settle in more. Michael started a new job too, so I decided to make us both something special tonight for all our hard work.

I thought a pie for Pi Day would be nice, but a giant pie for the two of us is just impractical. So I made two mini pies. Michael requested chocolate or apple pie, and I went with apple because it is easier to make.  My parents went on a trip to Mexico a few weeks ago, and my mom send me some Mexican vanilla extract, and I have been wanting to use it all week.  I thought it would be a nice addition to classic apple pie.

Vanilla Apple Pie
1 pie crust, frozen or homemade (I used frozen)
4 Fuji apples, pealed and cubed
1.5  tbs vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tbs cornstarch
Pinch of salt

If using frozen pie crust, let it thaw first.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray two small ramekins with cooking spray.

Roll out the pie crust on a well floured surface. Cut circles out of the pie crust that are a half inch larger than the radius of the ramekin. It's okay if they are not perfectly round and there should be left over crust pieces.

Press the crust circles into the ramekins, reshaping them to fix it if need be. Make sure you press them in firmly and seal the edges as best you can.

In a small bowl, mix together the cubed apples, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, and salt. Taste and adjust as necessary to your tastes.

Fill each ramekin with half of the mixture. They should be filled to the very full.

Take the remaining crust pieces and shape them into two circles large enough to cover the top of the ramekins with some overlap.

Now cover the ramekins with the pie crusts and seal the edges firmly. I crimped the edges with a fork to  make sure it seals properly and to make it look pretty.

Cut a small X on the top.

Sprinkle the crust with a little extra sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling starts to bubble up.

Let cool and enjoy a piece of 3.14159265....that's as far as I know off the top of my head!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

"Cheesy" Pasta with sliced "Hot Dogs"

I do not believe that majority of children are natural picky eaters. I believe it is parents themselves setting the bad example of not eating their veggies. Why would they want to eat something that their parents do not want to eat? And, of course it will be hard to break them of bad eating habits later. If they are used to eating fatty, oily, high carb foods, they will resist wanting anything else. So it is important to teach kids from an early age the importance of whole foods like fruits and veggies----and eat them yourself to set the good example.

That being said, there is nothing wrong with making healthy versions of the things all humans are love: carbs, protein, and fat. All animals crave carbs because they fill you up, protein because it sustains you, and fat because it has calories to keep you going. But, we are evolved animals with big brains that we can use to make smart choices about our cravings. 

This recipe is healthy version of a kid friendly dish, mac and cheese with sliced hot dogs. It uses soy cheese, vegan butter, and soy hot dogs. I used star stelline, a star shaped pasta, to make it more fun for kids.

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Cheesy Pasta with Hot Dogs Slices
8 oz stelline pasta (I used Barilla)
4 vegan hot dogs (I used Smart Dogs)
2 tbs vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1 cup vegan cheddar cheese (I used Daiya)
1 tsp dried parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Add the pasta and cooking according to the directions on the package.

While pasta cooks, heat the hot dogs. You can either microwave or pan fry them according to the directions on the package.

Cut the hot dogs into desired sized slices. Make sure you cut them small enough so your child does not choke. Check out this link for advice.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pot.

Add butter and cheese. Mix together well.

Add the hot dog slices and parsley. Mix together well.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Quick and easy lunch that kids (and you) will love!