Monday, June 27, 2011

Seitan Tacos

Meatless Monday's around here are never going to be the same again! I have discovered Seitan! It is a sub. for meat made from wheat gluten. It's pretty fun to make and tastes really good. You can make it into lots of different things. I decided my first attempt would be to make taco filling.

I got out my trusty grain mill and milled up about 2 1/2 pound (weight AFTER milling) of whole wheat flour. I mixed it with water and made it into a dough. keeping the dough in the bowl I rinsed it in the sink with the water running. The starch and the bran washed away and left the gluten. It formed into a spongy ball. Once the water ran clear I cut the gluten into 2 inch pieces and rolled them out into a sort of cutlet type shape. I boiled them in broth (you can use any kind you want (beef, chicken, veggie, fish) for 1 hour. Then I drained them and chopped them up. at this point you could do just about any recipe that calls for ground beef. I decided to make taco filling. I sauteed the seitan with some mushrooms and onions, I added my taco seasoning and some water/corn flour mix and... bingo! Taco filling! The ladies at church tried the "meat" with some whole wheat tortillas I made. It got rave reviews! Everyone LOVED it! I hope you take a chance with this "wheat meat"! You won't be sorry! (unless you have gluten issues then this is totally not for you!)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Angel Food Cake!!

I have baked so many different things over the years I tend to forget there are some thing I still have never given a try, angel food cake is one of them. I have made it from a box mix many times and I have bought it from the store as well, but I have never made it from scratch. I have looked up the recipe several times but I just couldn't justify separating the 12 eggs it called for so I would go to the store and buy one. WAY easier! Well, this past week we has some people over for dinner and I made 4 kinds of pudding for dessert (butterscotch, chocolate, vanilla, and non-dairy chocolate). Each batch of pudding called for 3 egg yolks, so in the end I had 12 egg whiles sitting in my fridge just begging to be made into angel food cake. I had fun making it but was not expecting to sift the flour and powdered sugar THREE times!!! *hand cramp*

Click here for the recipe I used from the Betty Crocker cookbook

 I love love love this picture! I think I am going to use this picture for my facebook profile picture/logo.

I think the angel food cake turned out great! I am going to have to try to make a sponge cake again sometime!

have you had success with sponge cakes/angel food cakes?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Car Accident!!

Earlier this week while running errands the girls and I were involved in a car accident. A lady, driving a Suburban was texting (at least that is what we heard... I didn't see it with my own eyes) and hit a small car (an older Honda I think) and that car hit us. As with all car accidents it happened very quickly and without warning. Even though it was pretty scary and a few of us were hurt (very minor compared to some people out there) I can't help but think of how thankful I am for how things are turning out...

=I am so thankful we were not hurt more.

-I am thankful we bought such a safe van and that it protected us during the accident

-I am thankful for good car seats

-I am thankful the baby is ok.

-I am thankful my 2 year old is still rear facing in her car seat and she was unharmed. This is a hot button issue among some of my friends and family, but instead of throwing this in there face saying "na na na naaaa I was right!!" I am just going to let the experience speak for itself. The Police, the EMT's the ER DR's the Chiropractor all were so glad and relived that Iyla was still rear facing and all agreed that having her rear facing saved her from lots of hurt. I am so glad I found out about rear facing toddlers, the car seats are rated 40 pounds rear facing for a reason!!!

-I am thankful Isabella's injuries are minor and she will be feeling better in no time. I just wish she was still rear facing like her sisters. Then she would not have any hurts at all.

-I am thankful the accident happened right in front of the police station and less then 5 mins. from my hubby's work.

-I am thankful for the responding police officer, he has 4 girls of his own and was so so great with my girls, talking with them, holding their hand, he was awesome!

-I am so thankful that when I was freaking out the EMT that was helping us was so sweet and kind. He went to high school with me and it was so comforting to have someone I knew taking care of me.

-I am thankful the other party has insurance and that all the costs relating to the accident are being taken care of.

-I am so thankful the ER staff let the baby room with me so I could nurse her. Funny story- I was in the neck brace strapped down to the back board, waiting to get a CT scan and the baby was hungry. She has never had formula and has not even ever used a bottle so I needed to nurse her. So laying there on the board I nursed her with her laying on top of me. She was a little distracted with the angle but was hungry enough not to care too much. The ER nurse had a Medic student shadowing her that day. That kid was green through and through! I think it might have been his first day in the ER. well, he popped his head in to check on me, saw that I was nursing, and turned around rather quickly muttered something about coming back later and was gone! It hurt my ribs a little, but I laughed!! I don't think he expected to see that and I was not in the position to cover up! Hehehehe!!

-I am so thankful I am receiving amazing recovery care at the chiropractor... Seriously the guy is amazing!

-I am thankful the ladies at my church are so supportive, I have received phone calls and one lady brought us dinner.

-I am thankful that even though I am hurt I am still functional. I know it could be so much worse. I have a hurt neck and upper back and some ribs are not too happy, and I have a huge bruise on the back of my head. Could be SOOOOOO much worse!!!

-I am thankful I have an amazing husband who is taking such great care of us.

Everything happens for a reason and even though I don't know why we were hit I do know that I am using the experience to better myself, to look for the blessings in my trials, to become closer to my Heavenly Father, who loves me and my children and sent his angels to surround us. I am so thankful for you, my dear readers who take time out of your lives to be there for us, supporting us and sending your love.

we are truly blessed even in our trials. I firmly believe that. Just know that we are ok, we are on the mend, and we love you all very much!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

I still have some lemon juice in the freezer so I thought I would make a dessert with them. I LOVE cheesecake but I never make it because my oldest daughter is allergic to dairy and I just don't keep cream cheese on hand anymore. It was fun figuring out these bars. They are cheese cake on the bottom and lemon bars on the top with a shortbread cookie crust...YUM!! I did do some research on how to make lemon bars (my sister was always the Lemon Bar maker in the family, I had never made them before yesterday!!) but I got the general idea and started baking! That is what I tend to do. If I don't know how to make something I study several recipes/variations. I want to figure out the chemical reactions with the different ingredients, the order ingredients are added and the methodology used in preparing the food. Like with quick breads, I loved learning about the baking powder/baking soda reactions and the acids used as well as the different methods (biscuit, cream, or muffin) used in making the quick breads. It's the process I love, figuring out why recipes are written the way they are... I know it's a little nerdy but hey, that's me!!

Well back to the yumminess at hand... The Lemon cheesecake bars!!!



2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup cold butter cubed
1/2 tsp salt
4 tablespoons ice cold water

In a food processer combine flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse a few times to mix ingredients together. add the butter and pulse until the butter is cut into the flour mixture and it looks like Bisquick/fine crumbs. Turn the food processor to 1 and while it is running add the water 1 tablespoon at a time. The dough will turn into little balls about the size of a pea. dump out the dough into a 9x13 pan and press down to form the crust. Bake at 350 for 20 mins or until light brown

Cheesecake layer

16 oz cream cheese (two boxes), softened
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice

combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl  and beat with egg beaters until smooth. Pour on top of crust and bake at 350 for 15 mins. Remove from oven.

Lemon layer

4 eggs
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1.2 cup flour

In a small bowl combine flour and baking powder, set aside. In the food processor mix the eggs and lemon juice and sugar and salt. while food processor is running add the flour mixture. Pour lemon layer on top of cheesecake layer and bake at 350 for 25 mins or until the lemon layer is set and a knife come out clean.

These are amazing!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ask Hona!!

Here are another round of questions... Keep them coming!!

Amanda M Asks from Hona's Helpful Hints Facebook Wall :

Hona I need help... my oldest daughter is having a hard time reading her reading level is a 2.9 from a 3.4 when we moved back from Rochester back to moms. is there a special book you would use to help her kick start her reading... Help... Thanks so much Love ya

Dear Amanda,

First I would start with something she is interested in, find a book about say, bikes. She is far more likely to want to read about a topic she is interested in. Summer is coming up and you will have more time to work one on one with her. Ask her teacher she is going to have next year what curriculum she is using and if you can borrow the text book over the summer to give your daughter a head start in the class so she won't be behind the other students. When I was a nanny I had a child who was poor in math and we got the math book for the next school year and we went over the whole thing during the summer and when school started she was more then prepared for class work and was caught up. Also the library has a summer reading program with lots of fun book lists by topic. Have her pick out some she would like to read that are a little challenging. Like I said before, play to her interests  and she will be much more excited to read. Good luck and let me know how it goes.


Arin E. writes from the Facebook Wall,

Dear Hona,

I have a life long question... how do u keep you’re house organized and still find room for the kids? Lol.

And do u have any advice for my 2 year old and home schooling him? I want him to have a head start...

Dear Arin,

That's what ceilings are for right?! Hehehe!! Here is a blog post I did a while back on my family blog about how we got started home schooling. I think it will be helpful.


Nicole D asked via e-mail:

Dear Hona,

I have a problem and I was hoping that you would know the answer. My dishwasher smells. I have tried bleach, baking powder, Lysol spray but nothing helps. Every time I run the dishwasher, my dished come out smelling nasty. Do you have a suggestion?

Dear Nicole,

there are some dishwasher cleaners you can buy in the dish soap section. Finish brand has one we liked. You could also try adding a rinse aid to the wash like jet dry.


And one last question from Kelly C. also from the facebook Wall:

Dear Hona,

I have many recipes that call for vanilla which I cook on the stove (no bake cookies, syrup, etc) and I was wondering why you cook all the other ingredients and THEN add the vanilla after removing from heat. Does the heat change the effectiveness of the vanilla or something like that?

Dear Kelly,

Pure Vanilla extract contains Alcohol and you have to add it off the heat so it won't catch fire. also it evaporates fast and if you want it to keep the flavor in the cooking you need to add it last.

Thanks for the questions And if you have a question you would like me to ask I have set up an e-mail account:  I am hoping to make this a more regular part of my blog and facebook page.
Untill next time... Get Cookin'!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Kitchen Confessions- Green Smoothies Not So Smooth!

So I don't know if it's because I am nursing my baby or what but I have been craving spinach like crazy! I even had a bowl of fresh spinach for breakfast the other day. I have been sneaking it into most of our meals as well. Chopped up in mac and cheese, pureed in spaghetti sauce, that kind of thing.  I have read on Facebook from my friends that are drinking "green smoothies" and I thought I would try to make my own. I have a small personal blender (a knock off of a magic bullet) and thought that would work OK to make it. So I put in a banana, some frozen blueberries, frozen strawberries, orange juice, probiotic powder and a big ole' handful of fresh spinach. I blended it up as well as I could and took a drink... YUCK!! It was awful! I read that drinking veggies is better so you can get the max amount without having to eat veggies all day long but man that was not what I thought it was going to taste like. I also think I should save up for a Vitamix or something like that so I can get a better blend. This smoothie has good sized leaf chunks in it. YUCK!!

Next time I will just eat a big bowl of spinach!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

If your Neighbor Gives You Lemons...

You get to develop lemon recipes! My neighbor lady was sent a box of fresh lemons strait off the tree from a friend of hers in California and she gave some to us. They smell so amazing and are HUGE! So I thought I would take the opportunity to develop a few recipes using these lemons. Kind of an Iron Chef type of moment but with 3 little ones a time limit of an hour just ain't gonna work!

Ok so I am having a blast with this one. I am doing Grilled Lemon Chicken and Lemon Orzo Pilaf. Sounds good huh?

Grilled Lemon Chicken with Orzo Pilaf

4 Chicken Breasts
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
the zest of 1 lemon
the juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tablespoon sugar
 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp soy sauce
2 garlic cloves crushed
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Combine ingredients and Marinate Chicken for 30 to 40 minutes flipping chicken over halfway. Cook chicken on grill or pan fry or broil, 20 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temp of 165 degrees.  Meanwhile, take used marinade and boil it in a small sauce pan for 5 minutes (this will ensure that all the chicken "stuff" is cooked all the way, also it will reduce down and thicken a bit. pour the sauce over the chicken when it's done.

Lemon Orzo Pilaf
1 cup orzo pasta
1/2 onion diced fine
1 stalk celery diced fine
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 carrots diced fine
1/2 cup diced bell peppers (any color you like)
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/8 tsp turmeric
3 cups chicken stock or 3 cups water and 2 bouillon cubes
1 Tbs. Fresh parsley chopped for garnish

In a large skillet saute the garlic, onions, peppers and celery in the olive oil until almost done. Add the Orzo pasta and saute until the pasta is a light golden brown color. Add spices and chicken broth. Cover and let simmer on low for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and pasta is tender stirring every few minutes so it won't stick to the pan. If you run out of liquid before the pasta is done, add more chicken broth, 1/4 cup at a time. Garnish with Parsley.

We had this for dinner and it was super yummy! Not tart at all. I hope you enjoy these lemon recipes.


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