Thursday, May 28, 2020

Easy and Delicious Cream of Artichoke Soup Recipe- Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly

Inspiration in the kitchen comes in all sorts of ways. Sometimes its by hearing what a friend made, seeing pictures of a food on facebook, or even going down the rabbit hole searching for food from specific cuisines. But sometimes its more interesting, like buying a 2 liter bottle of heavy cream, and trying to figure out how to use that up, remembering that I had a bunch of packages of frozen artichoke bottoms in my freezer, wondering if they could go together, googling it to see that such a thing exists, and then you end up with this most amazingly delicious soup with such little work.

So now that you know how this recipe came about, if you like artichoke, but even if you don't, try it out. It was nearly super easy to make- the one part that wasn't super easy to make is something you can skip if you want, it just makes it even better. My daughter who said she hates artichoke said this was delicious.

The ingredient list is relatively simple, so you'd expect the flavors to be simple and mild as well, but the flavor is incredibly rich and complex, I guess thanks to the artichoke which transforms what otherwise would be a relatively simple soup to something heavenly.

I have not tried to make this dairy free, but I plan on experimenting to see how it goes. If you want to try to make it dairy free, I'd recommend replacing the cream with coconut cream, or almond milk, or cashew milk, and use oil in place of the butter.

This recipe is gluten free and other than the dairy, is allergy friendly as well. Its also pretty frugal if you buy your artichokes at a decent price.

Easy and Delicious Cream of Artichoke Soup Recipe- Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly

How to Help an Elderly Person Plan Their Finances

If you love someone elderly, you may have tried to help them with their finances, or have considered it. If that is something you'd like to know more about, this post by Nancy Evans is useful and informative.

Whether you are busy learning how to avoid probate, or you are mowing the lawn after your parents retire, it seems like there is always something they need your help with. Planning the finances of a loved one who is elderly is an important and delicate process. They have bestowed you with a huge amount of trust and believe that you will help them. If you really want to help, it is important for you to take some time and learn the basics of elderly finance. It is very similar to normal personal finance, but there are a few things you need to keep an eye out for when you are working with an elderly person. One of the top concerns on most elderly people’s list is making sure that they do not have their estate sent to probate after their death. You can take concrete steps with them to make sure that this never happens.

Monday, May 25, 2020

How to Make Homemade Non Bitter Mung Bean Sprouts Tutorial

I have a love affair with east Asian cuisine, and bean sprouts play a big role in such food. I've known how to make sprouts since I was a kid, but though I love sprouts, I hadn't made bean sprouts in years, and instead bought them from the grocery store instead. 

You see, grocery bought bean sprouts, made from mung beans, are crisp, long and straight and thick with a nice bite to it, and lightly sweet with a very subtle bean flavor. My homemade bean sprouts were curly weird looking, without any of the thick parts, and bitter. There was no point in making bean sprouts at home if they left me with an inferior product. I mean, I like homemade stuff because they are better, and I won't make the effort to do something from scratch if what I made isn't even good.

But lately I've been ramping up my production of Asian food, and buying box after box of mung bean sprouts from the grocery store was annoying, especially since they don't have the longest shelf life. So I wanted to see if there was a way to make homemade mung bean sprouts that taste just like store bought stuff. Or at least very similar.

I took to the internet, read lots of articles, watched lots of videos, in search of how to make the perfect mung bean sprouts.

And finally, I hit the jackpot. Now that I did it, I wanted to share this knowledge with you, so that you could also make this yummy vegetable for pennies.

How to Make Homemade Non Bitter Mung Bean Sprouts Tutorial

Pet owners! Are you familiar with the dangers of driving with your pet on your lap?

I have a lovely dog, Snickers. I love her. I want her to be safe and for our family to be safe, so I never would drive with her on my lap. Unfortunately, there still are many people that do drive with them on their laps; this post submitted by a reader elaborates the dangers in doing exactly that. 

If you have a dog, you'll know that they're not just a pet. They’re part of the family. They're like a child. We pamper them, feed them, cater to their every whim and love them unconditionally. And as owners, we get lots of love and companionship in return.

So, whenever we leave the house, the idea of leaving them behind simply won't be considered. And what dog doesn't love a drive in the car? Having your dog in the backseat of the vehicle is always the safest option, however, a staggering number of pet owners choose to drive with their dogs in the front seat and even on their lap.

But there's no harm in that, right? Wrong! Not only in some states is it illegal, but you're putting your dog's life and your own at risk – check out this website if you've been involved in an accident. Read on to discover the dangers of driving with your pet on your lap.

Tteokbokki, Korean Sweet and Spicy Rice Cake "Stir Fry" Recipe, Gluten Free, Vegan Option, Refined Sugar Free Option, Allergy Friendly

My last post here was about how I make homemade Korean rice cakes, called tteok, which have the texture of big chewy noodles. There are many different ways to use this tteok, but I have to say that this way, made into tteokbokki (pronounced dokbokki), by far, is my favorite way. Though it is called a stir fry, I wrote that in quotation marks because there is really no stir frying here at all. You end up with yummy chewy rice cakes, either in cylinders or medalions, in a delicious sweet and spicy sauce. 

There are many types of tteokbokki, but the sweet and spicy version is the most popular, and is commonly eaten as street food in Korea. Though the recipe I based mine off of uses gochujang, Korean chili paste, I don't have that, and honestly, my family  doesn't like things super spicy, so it works just fine with sriracha instead, though it doesn't have the characteristic red color you'll usually see in the spicy tteokbokki. 

I usually make mine vegan, though with fish cakes (here's how I make mine from scratch) is traditional. Tteokbokki often is made with soup stock, and I've made it with a variety of different types of stock, but lately I've just been making my stock by simmering up some dried shitake mushrooms in salted water, and then slicing up and adding the mushrooms to the final dish. This recipe is allergy friendly, and when made without fish and with coconut aminos is free from the top 8 allergens.

My tteokbokki recipe has been a hit with everyone who's tasted it (quite a few people by now), so I'm sure you'll love it as much as we all do.

TteokBokki, Korean Sweet and Spicy Rice Cake "Stir Fry" Recipe, Gluten Free, Vegan Option, Refined Sugar Free Option, Allergy Friendly

Tips To Help Your Child Save Money In College

Kids grow up so fast! My kids aren't yet college age, but they'll be there soon, so I appreciate this post from a reader on how to help kids save money in college.

Almost two-thirds of college students run out of money mid-semester, Financial Advisor reports. Generally high costs, unanticipated expenses, and lack of adequate financial aid are just some of the reasons for financial difficulty. While starting college is an exciting time for both students and parents, it’s also undoubtedly expensive. Fortunately, there are several ways you can help your child save money, avoid debt, and live comfortably through their college years.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Homeade Garaetteok, Korean Rice Cake Cylinders For Making Tteokbokki

I find when I'm looking for recipes to make, sometimes I end up going down the rabbit hole of recipes, usually from eastern Asia, looking at first one recipe and another and another, deciding that I needed to make every last one of them.

Tteok, Korean rice cakes, was something I discovered in one of these forays, when I learned about tteokguk, Korean New Years' rice cake soup, and garaetteok, the rice cakes that you use to make it. As someone who is learning names online, I must say I was pronouncing this wrong, and this video and others I watched corrected me. The garae is pronounced kara and the tteok is pronounced somewhere between tok and dok, so this dish is basically pronounced karatok.

Tteok is the name for Korean rice cake, and garae either comes from the word divide, or the word spade, according to Maangchi, the site that I learned how to make garaetteok from. People generally buy garaetteok from Korean stores, but I make it myself. I wouldn't say this is the easiest recipe, but it is a fun one to make.

Once you make the garaetteok, you can freeze it to use for another time. Or you can use it immediately. My favorite thing to do with them is making sweet and spicy rice cake stir fry, tteokbokki, generally together with eomuk, Korean fish cake, recipe soon to come on this blog.

Tips to Save Money on Eyeglasses

As a glasses wearer, I know that many times you feel the need to decide between looking good and saving money, but it isn't an either/or thing. Here's ways to save money on your glasses, from a reader.

Certain necessary aspects of life will follow you around and cost you money and there’s nothing you can do about it. From car insurance to mortgage payments and even buying your weekly groceries, money comes in and money goes out. That’s why today, we’re going to look at how to save money on something that some people have to live with: eye glasses.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

West African Chicken Suya Recipe- Spicy Skewered Meat with African Pepper Sauce

After making delicious sosaties, Afrikaans skewered meat, the last time I made a barbecue, I decided I wanted to explore different skewered meat recipes from around the world, so see which is my favorite. As I looked through my list of recipes to try, I was trying to find something without any special ingredients, using just what I had in my cupboard. This recipe for chicken suya fits the bill.

Also known as as agashe in Sudan, suya is spicy skewered meat dish from Western Africa, with origins in Nigeria. Suya can be made with beef, chicken, lamb, but I chose to use chicken since that is cheapest. There is no one set recipe for suya, with different regions having their own recipe, but common ingredients in the marinade (called yaji in the Hausa language) are peanuts, oil, onions, and spices. I based my recipe on this one, and as they suggested, served it with a pepper sauce. Because I was serving it with a hot pepper sauce, I decided to leave the cayenne pepper out of the marinade, and let whoever wanted to dip their suya into the spicy hot pepper sauce.

My kids all enjoyed this, but my kids said that the sosaties recipe was even better.

I had extra marinade after making the chicken suya, so I used it to marinate zucchini and mushrooms before grilling them on skewers, and it was phenomenal that way as well.
This recipe is gluten free and cheap, as well as allergy friendly if you're not allergic to peanuts. And if you are allergic to peanuts, I'm sure you could also make this with sun butter.

The African pepper sauce is a vegan condiment and can be used as a topping for anything you like, sandwiches, proteins, etc... Apparently, the blog of the person where I got the original recipe from actually likes to eat it with Nigerian donuts.

West African Chicken Suya Recipe- Spicy Skewered Meat with African Pepper Sauce

The Effects of Sexting on Teens and Ways to Combat It

As parents of soon to be teenagers who have smart phones, I, and many others are concerned about our kids' safety online, especially when it comes to things that have long term repercussions. Teens sexting, for example, can be very problematic with life long effects. Here's some tips from a reader on the potential issues and how to combat them.

Receiving and sending sexually explicit images or messages is quickly becoming the new normal for many teens. Parents tend to freak out when they first find a sext in their teen's phone. Sexting doesn't mean that your kid is deviant or they possess bad behaviours, it may simply be a way of exploring their sexual identity which is a healthy way of growing up. Sexting has some harmful effects on teens and parents need to employ parental control apps such as FamiSafe to track all the kid’s activities while online and offline.

The negatives simply outweigh the positives when it comes to sexting. The main issue according to various studies is that many teens aren’t able to discern between sexts that are consensual, non-consensual or those that are coerced. This makes them vulnerable and an easy target to cyberbullies and pedophiles. Below are some of the negative effects of teen sexting.

Homemade Corn Schnitzel Recipe -- Gluten Free, Vegan, Frugal, and Delicious

I am not quite sure why, but locally, there is this food dubbed "corn schnitzel". No, its not chicken or meat mixed with corn and made into schnitzel. In fact, it doesn't have any protein in it, but many people eat it as a protein substitute in vegetarian meals, since it is meat free. I have no idea where this dish even came from (but I'm sure there's a reason historically) but it is popular among the locals for whatever reason.

The one thing about corn schnitzel is that it is always sold frozen for ridiculous prices- I don't think I've ever purchased it since it costs so much for something that is essentially a crumb covered corn patty. But my kids told me they liked it, and I decided to see if I could make it myself at home, frugally, of course. And while I'm doing that, might as well do it gluten free and vegan to boot.

The first bite I took of my results, I thought to myself that it was a good start, but I didn't think I should share the recipe, but then I kept going back for another and another bite. It was addicting. I had my kids try it and they couldn't stop gobbling it up. It really is that delicious. They told me I absolutely must post it on my blog, so here it is.

These should freeze well as long as you heat them up in the oven or toaster. Unfortunately or fortunately, I haven't been able to have any of these last long enough for me to freeze them- my kids devoured them and then asked me to make more, which they then devoured as well.

While this recipe is totally gluten free, feel free to replace the gluten free flours and xanthan gum with gluten based flour if you desire. This recipe is also allergy friendly, not to mention pretty darn cheap. Just don't use it as a protein replacement since there is very little protein here. Use it as a starch in a meal, with a protein on the side.

Homemade Corn Schnitzel Recipe -- Gluten Free, Vegan, Frugal, and Delicious

Smart Financial Decisions to Make Going Forward

It can be tough to improve your financial situation, enough so that you can have a better financial future. People may be helpless and not know where to start. Here's some tips from a reader on things you want to keep in mind to improve your financial standing.

Having a playbook for how to manage life would be nice, but life doesn’t work that way. It is easy to slip through life unsure how to manage the next emergency and just living paycheck to paycheck. While there are plenty of things you cannot control, there are some steps you can take that put your finances on a more secure footing.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

How to Order Quality Foods Online During COVID-19

Online shopping. It's a new norm. But for many it can be stressful, because how do you know if the quality of what you're getting is good, especially since you can't inspect it before it arrives? This is especially true with food. So here's some tips from a reader to help you ensure that you don't get scammed when it comes to online grocery shopping.

Things changed in 2020. While we were all still in the hype of the new year, life on our planet as we knew it was changing. When COVID-19 finally launched us into quarantine, the pandemic left many of us without the luxury of open access to our favorite stores.

Those who were already ordering food, groceries, and pretty much everything online, weren't as affected. But for those of us who were used to shopping at the open markets and getting fresh foods from grocers bi-weekly, things came to a halt.

If you're still struggling to order groceries online, here's a guide to finding foods you'll enjoy during this time.

Know Your Options

Homemade Iced Chocolate or Iced Mocha Slushy Recipe, Vegan Option

Its been getting hotter lately here and my kids wanted to have a nice cool treat. My son, Lee, had brought up that he loved iced coffee, something that a neighbor of his dad's used to make him. So I made him iced coffee, not just iced coffee, but an icey coffee slushy, but then I thought to change it up. Why not make something like that but with chocolate? Why do we have chocolate milk and hot cocoa, but not iced chocolate slushies?

This recipe is yummy and even cheaper to make than chocolate milk or hot cocoa, because the milk is stretched with ice and water, as it is in coffee, but it tastes just as flavorful. And you can make this vegan using a dairy free milk instead of the dairy milk. I make mine with homemade almond milk and make the kids' using regular milk.

Sometimes I add a little instant coffee powder to it to give it extra oomph and make it ice mocha instead of ice chocolate.

It's such a perfect treat. Just beware brain freeze.

Note- you do need a strong blender for this, one strong enough to blend up ice. I use my Biolomix blender for this.

Feel free to play around with recipe with different sweeteners, or other additives (try adding mint extract for a peppermint iced chocolate), just keep the ice to liquid ratio the same, so that it has the perfect slushy texture.

This makes 6 cups of iced chocolate, which means each of my kids get one serving and then there's enough for them to each have a second half serving.

Homemade Iced Chocolate or Iced Mocha Slushy Recipe, Vegan Option

Friday, May 8, 2020

Easy and Delicious Romanesco Broccoli Recipe- Vegan, Paleo, Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly

Have you ever heard of romanesco broccoli? It's one of the weirdest but also one of the most beautiful (in my opinion) vegetables available out there. I had heard of it and seen pictures of it but never bought it since I didn't see any available, but recently I was given a few heads for free, and it made me really excited.

I wanted to make a dish that show cased its unique taste, sort of a cross between broccoli and cauliflower, with some nuttiness and a bit sweeter, while also showcasing its beautiful, strange, and unique appearance. This recipe was the result, and while it's simple, it ended up being the perfect thing to do with it. This recipe is naturally vegan and gluten free and paleo and allergy friendly, and though simple, it tasted terrific.

Easy and Delicious Romanesco Broccoli Recipe- Vegan, Paleo, Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly

How to Save Money with an Eco-Friendly Home

Sometimes, being "natural" costs money. But most of the time, frugality goes hand in hand with green living, because the same things that save money tend to be good for the environment. This article from a reader explores more on how exactly that works.

Becoming more eco-conscious will not only reduce your carbon footprint, but it can also save you significant amounts of money. Luckily, there are various affordable ways to make your home greener, minimize your environmental impact, and cut your monthly energy bills. Here are some of the best ways to create an eco-friendly home and save money:

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Pasta con Finocchietto Selvatico Recipe, Pasta with Wild Fennel Fronds and Homemade Sausage, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Frugal

My back yard, though I'd planned to take care of it and turn it into a pretty little something, was overgrown by what most of the world knows as weeds. As a forager, I know these plants are mostly edible and delicious, and I made sure to use the mallow overtaking most of my yard in many recipes, but eventually they started to mature and not be so good to eat anymore, so my kids pulled them up before our recent barbecue. However, I told my kids that though they are pulling up the mallow, there were two plants they couldn't touch- my wild swiss chard, officially called sea beet, and my wild fennel plants. Those two are some of my favorite wild edibles, and I wanted to make sure to always have a supply of those plants in my yard, so I wanted to leave enough that they'd go to seed and be able to grow there next season too.

The other day, I had very little produce at home, because I desperately needed to go grocery shopping. I was trying to figure out what to make, and then figured that I could make something with my mountain of wild fennel fronds there, and remembered a dish that I made years ago, a traditional Italian recipe, using wild fennel, pasta, and sausage. I didn't have sausage, so I decided to look up a few recipes for Italian sausage and use some of that seasoning with my ground beef, minus the fennel seeds, because no need to add that since I already will be having that via the wild fennel.

The dish came out really amazing. As in, it was probably my favorite way I ever had fennel, and was a true balm to my soul. But a caveat- it has a very, very strong fennel taste. Which is great if, like myself, you absolutely love the flavor of fennel, that black licorice taste, but if you're only meh on the taste of fennel, you probably won't be such a fan. I also used a ridiculous amount of fennel in mine- a large enough bunch that I couldn't get my hands around it, so if you like fennel but don't want an overpowering flavor, I can also suggest simply using less fennel than I did. 

If you don't have wild fennel, you can use the fronds from store bought fennel, but you'll need to use them from quite a few bulbs to get enough for this.

If you have ready made Italian sausage, you can just use that in place of the beef and all the spices, but if you don't, make this as written.

I made mine dairy free, but feel free to use Parmesan in place of the nutritional yeast if you don't avoid dairy.

Pasta con Finocchietto Selvatico Recipe, Pasta with Wild Fennel Fronds and Homemade Sausage, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Frugal

10 Micro-Trends of Quarantine

Corona, corona, the world is abuzz with corona. (Sing that to the tune of "Maria" from West Side Story. That's the tune I wrote it to.) Life has changed for pretty much the entire world, and because of that, lots of people are experiencing similar things. And because of these similar situations, there are trends that are happening now. Who knows how long they'll last? Here's a post from a reader exploring some of the interesting and cool and even fun new lockdown trends. 

People will always find something interesting that will keep them sane in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis and continuous quarantine. When a trend starts to pique your curiosity and everyone out there is doing the same stuff, the next thing you know is that you’re trying it too.

When you’re obliged to stay at home, you have no other option but to do everything on your own. Make your own coffee, prepare your own food, watch movies at home, exercise at home, etc. You can’t go to any restaurant, coffee shop, gym, mall, or cinemas. Not at the moment. But the good news is, do-it-yourself things have evolved into “quaranthings.” These are the micro-trends that everybody shares on the internet.

If you want to do something new, fun, and healthy at home, try the following micro-trends of quarantine 2020:

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Easy and Delicious Chicken Sosaties Recipe- Afrikaans Skewered Meat Dish, South African and Namibian Shish Kebabs, Without Apricots

My friend Izel is from Namibia, a country that I really wasn't familiar with at all, but soon learned that it used to be part of South Africa, called South West Africa, until its independence. Its filled with similar types of people that live in South Africa, with a lot of Afrikaaners, and the Namibian dishes that my friend Izel talked about are also traditional South African foods among the Afrikaaners (and others). I'd wanted to try to make my kids South African foods, because of their South African heritage, but didn't know of many. However, most foods my friend Izel talks about are foods I can't eat, because they are gluten or dairy or eggs or a combination of all three (milktert I'm looking at you) or foods that I can't buy locally, like springbok.

From my friend, though, I learned about a South African and Namibian dish, a skewered meat dish, called sosaties, from the word sate, skewered meat, and saus, spicy sauce. This dish was brought to the Afrikaaners (the descendants of the Dutch Settlers in South Africa) by the Cape Malay ethnic group who were of various Asian descent, and while its usually made with lamb, it can be made with any meat. Other common ingredients are dried apricots, peppers, and onions.

Chicken is the cheapest meat I can get, so I decided to make those, and I didn't have apricots or apricot jam like many recipes I saw called for, so I was happy when the recipe I got from Izel didn't have any of that, just with various ingredients and spices I already had in my house. Because I have some kids that hate cooked peppers and other kids hate cooked onions, I decided to make them separately, some with just peppers, some with just onions, and some with both. By stretching them with peppers and onions, this recipe was able to make 14 or 15 sosaties with just one package of chicken breast. It was a big hit with my family, and a great way to make fancier food on a budget. (I mean, at least in my opinion, food on skewers just seems so much fancier than food off a skewer.)
I told my kids that these are South African shish kebabs, which is kind of silly, because so many cultures around the world have skewered meat recipes, but still these things are known by their Turkish name. This post has actually inspired me to make a series of posts on skewered meat dishes from around the world, because my family loves them so much, and so do many other people.
While you can cook these by pan frying them, roasting them, or cooking on a grill pan, I did this the more traditional way and made them on a barbecue, or as its known in South Africa and Namibia, a braai.

This recipe, as written, is gluten free, paleo, and allergy friendly. If you're vegan, you can probably do something similar to this by using firm tofu cubes instead of the chicken breast, and another sweetener instead of the honey.

Easy and Delicious Chicken Sosaties Recipe- Afrikaans Skewered Meat Dish, South African and Namibian Shish Kebabs, Without Apricots

First Time Mom? Here’s How to Get More Things Done

I'm already a few years past the newborn stage, but I remember those days like it was yesterday, those tiny little beings that rely entirely on you, entirely helpless, and often parents feeling helpless as well because those little creatures don't have many methods of communication with their caretakers beyond crying, so its often hard to figure out what they want. Add to this being hormonal just after child birth, and trying to fit a kid into your kids- this is a very challenging time, whether you're a first time mom or even third or fourth time around with a newborn. These ideas sent in by a reader are great ways to help keep your sanity as a new mom.

The experience of becoming a parent for the very first time is more than just a little overwhelming. Suddenly, there is a tiny little person who is depending on your for absolutely everything. You put so much time and effort into caring for them that countless other priorities, including self-care and housework, automatically take a backseat.

As you stare at the pile of dishes lying in the sink while breastfeeding your baby, or when you realize that it has been three days since your last shower, you may find yourself desperate to find a way to get more things done.

Here are some essential tips to help you multi-task with confidence.