There are basic factors recipes must meet in order to be the Makeover Monday Meal:
It has to have a fairly short prep time, and the meal or dish should come together in less than an hour.
The ingredients have to be easy to find in your grocery store, freezer, or fridge. The use of pantry items is a plus.
The recipe has to be adaptable, even traditional meat recipes.
It should be healthy
This week’s recipe for Cast Iron Baked Ziti comes from America’s Test Kitchen. This is a wonderful weeknight meal that comes together quickly and is easily adapted for a vegan/vegetarian or gluten-sensitive diet. The sauce is a combination of fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, basil, mozzarella, and grated parmesan cheese. Moreover, as good as it tastes when you first make it, the leftovers actually taste better overnight in the fridge.
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 cup) (vegan cheese like Daiya Provolone or mozzarella shreds are quite good)
Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Heat 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Toss tomatoes with oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Add tomatoes to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly charred and blistered, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, tomato paste, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Off heat, coarsely mash tomatoes using a potato masher.
Stir in pasta and water and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to vigorous simmer, cover, and cook, stirring often, until pasta is tender, 15 to 18 minutes.
Stir in Parmesan and adjust sauce consistency with extra hot water as needed. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Transfer skillet to oven and broil until cheese is melted and spotty brown, about 5 minutes. Serve.
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Breakfast cereals have long been a big business. They’re a quick and easy way to enjoy a good breakfast on busy mornings. There are a number of delicious granola brands on shelves to choose from, but there’s something special about making your own. Not only can you make it any way you like, but it’s also economical and the recipe is fairly simple.
The best part is, granola isn’t limited to your breakfast bowl, it makes a great topping on yogurt or you can dress it up to top a fancy yogurt parfait.
I did love granola as a kid. Now, instead of buying granola, I’ve found it’s easier and more economical to make it. This way It allows me to make it my own. I hope this recipe will inspire you to do the same.
This recipe is based on a mash-up of Ina Garten and Catherine Fulvio’s homemade granola recipes.
Homemade Cinnamon Granola
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup quinoa
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup desiccated coconut, unsweetened
3/4 cup vegetable oil
½ cup liquid raw cane sugar or clover honey (liquid monk fruit sweetener)
1 cup raisins, soaked for 1 hour
1 cup dried cranberries
Cinnamon or Vietnamese Cinnamon (your taste)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Whisk the oil and liquid raw cane sugar together in a small bowl. Toss the oats, quinoa, cinnamon, and coconut together in a large bowl. Pour the liquids over the oat mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated. Pour onto a 13 by 18 by 1-inch sheet pan. Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even, golden brown, about 40 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees, then add the soaked raisins, toss with a spatula and continue to bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the granola from the oven and allow it to cool, stirring occasionally. Add dried cranberries. Store the cooled granola in an airtight container.
You can also add cashews, almonds, walnuts, or pecans, along with other dried fruits like cherries, figs, or apricots.
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It’s hard to believe that August is nearly over. School is already in session for some but will soon be in session for kids all over the country. As summer fades, so does summertime’s fresh produce, which gives way to fall staples like apples, pumpkins, and hearty butternut squash.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t still time to enjoy the berries of summer. Blueberries are a superfood. Packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, these berries are also high in potassium and vitamin C, making them a favorite of doctors and nutritionists. Moreover, blueberries don’t just lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, they’re anti-inflammatory. They are wonderful in muffins, buckles, coffee cakes, and pancakes. Or you can enjoy them by the handful.
Blueberry muffins have always been a favorite at my house. When you make them yourself, you are in control of the sugar, fat, and sodium content, unlike the muffins you get on the run from your favorite coffee place.
This blueberry muffin recipe is quick. easy, and delicious. The recipe has been adapted for:
Gluten-Sensitivities, Celiac disease
Jumbo Blueberry Muffins
½ cup unsalted butter softened (vegan unsalted butter)
1 ¼ cups sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, monk fruit sweetener granulated, baker’s style coconut sugar, turbinado, or raw cane sugar pulsed)
2 eggs (1/4 cup Aquafaba, 1/2 cup silken tofu pureed with 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 2 flaxseed or chia seed eggs, vegan egg replacer)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
zest from one lemon
½ cup buttermilk (1/2 cup whole 2% or skim milk mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Mix and let sit for five minutes) (1/2 cup rice, almond, soy, or light coconut milk mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Mix and let sit for five minutes)
2 cups all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum, brown rice, quinoa, or millet flour)
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups blueberries; or 2 cups frozen blueberries, thawed; or 2 cups rehydrated blueberries
3 teaspoons sanding sugar, optional
optional: 2 tbsp melted butter
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cream together the butter and 1 ¼ cups sugar until it becomes light and fluffy, preferably in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer.
Add in the eggs, one by one, making sure you beat well after each addition.
Stir in vanilla, lemon juice, and buttermilk and mix well to combine.
Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder into the sugar, buttermilk, butter, and eggs. Using a sifter will help to reduce clumping and prevent you from overworking muffins.
In a small bowl, lightly mash/smush about half of the blueberries with the back of a spoon (sort of like muddling mint in a drink) and then stir into the batter.
Fold in the remaining blueberries. We also like to save a couple to drop right on the tops of the muffins.
Line a 6 cup jumbo muffin tin or 12 cups standard muffin tin with cupcake liners.
Fill with batter – leave ⅓ muffin tin/liner for muffins to rise above.
Sprinkle the 3 teaspoons sanding sugar over the tops of the muffins, reduce oven heat to 375, and bake at 375 degrees for about 30-35 minutes.
Optional: Reserve sanding sugar until the end of cooking. In the final 10 minutes of baking, brush tops of muffin with melted butter. Top with sanding sugar. Continue baking the muffins until l the toothpick inserted comes out completely clean.
Remove muffins from tin and cool for at least 30 minutes.
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One of the very best things about summer is the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables. With fruits like blueberries, cherries, and blackberries in season, berries are wonderful on their own, on top of yogurt with a little granola, or baked up in a pie.
The same applies to the bounty of fresh vegetables. You can find zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, green beans, herbs, and tomatoes (which are technically not a vegetable) in many backyard gardens, farm stands, farmer’s markets, and your favorite market or grocery store’s produce section.
Summer corn is found everywhere. It’s so delicious this time of year and there are so many ways to enjoy it besides boiling or grilling it to indulge in its sweetness. When I came across this recipe by Simply Recipes, which was touted as their very favorite, I was intrigued enough to put aside a few other recipes I’d been eyeing to give this one a whirl. I wasn’t disappointed.
Simply Recipes has this along with many other recipes that feature corn as the star of the show. Check out their website for more ideas to enjoy it to the maximum.
The recipe includes bacon and milk, which won’t work for vegans or vegetarians. I have adapted it so you can still enjoy this lovely bowl of soup.
Sweet Corn Chowder by Simply Recipes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter ( For the vegetarian or vegan chowder: 2 tablespoons unsalted vegan butter, plus 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin or virgin olive oil)
1 strip bacon, or 1 teaspoon bacon fat (omit for vegetarian and vegan soup)
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup small-diced carrot
1/2 cup small-diced celery
4 to 5 ears sweet corn, kernels removed from the cobs (about 3 cups), cobs reserved
1 bay leaf
4 1/2 cups milk, whole or low fat (soy or rice milk)
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and large (1-inch) diced (about 3 cups)
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
For vegetarian and vegan chowder, go straight to sauteing the vegetables in the vegan butter/olive oil)
Cook the bacon:
Place butter and bacon into a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot. Heat on medium heat until the bacon renders its fat, 3-4 minutes.
Cook the vegetables (except the corn and potatoes):
Add the chopped onions, red bell pepper, carrot, and celery, lower the heat to medium-low and cook until vegetables soften about 5 minutes.
Add corn cobs and bring to a simmer:
Break the corn cobs in half (after you’ve stripped off the corn) and add the cobs to the pot. Add the milk and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 20 minutes.
Make sure the heat is as low as can be and still maintain a gentle simmer (on our stove we had to use the “warm” setting) to prevent scalding the milk on the bottom of the pan.
After 20 minutes, add the potatoes, salt, and thyme to the pot. Increase the heat to return the soup to a simmer, then lower the heat to maintain the simmer and cook for another 10 minutes.
Finish the soup:
Discard the cobs, the bacon strip, and the bay leaf. Add the corn kernels and black pepper. Again raise the heat to bring the soup to a simmer, then lower the heat and cook for another 5 minutes, until the potatoes are fork-tender.
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It’s hard to believe that we are already more than halfway through the month of July. With summertime temperatures rising across the country, light, refreshing, and easy-to-prepare recipes are the order of the day.
In our search to find the best of light, healthy, and tasty, this recipe from Simply Recipes for Tex-Mex Chopped Chicken Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing fits the bill. Moreover, we were able to adapt it to add protein to fit with vegetarian and vegan diets too.
This recipe fits the dietary requirements for:
Low Sugar or No Sugar diets
Keto-Friendly (don’t add corn or tortilla chips)
Tex-Mex Chopped Chicken Salad by Simply Recipes adapted by Chamein Canton
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (2 medium ears) or frozen and thawed
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (1 package of extra-firm tofu, drained or 1 package seitan)
1 tablespoon taco seasoning mix (low-sodium taco seasoning or your favorite taco seasoning in the packet or homemade)
12 corn tortilla chips
1/4 cup crumbled Cotija cheese (Feta cheese or Cheddar cheese can be substituted) (For Vegans mozzarella or cheddar shreds are a good choice)
For the dressing
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, lightly packed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Combine salad ingredients:
Combine the lettuce, red pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, and scallions in a large serving bowl. Set aside.
Char the corn:
Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a medium or large heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the corn.
Season corn with 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until blackened in spots and tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Season the chicken:
Sprinkle the taco seasoning and 1/2 teaspoon salt over the surface of the chicken, rubbing it in and coating it so the chicken is fully seasoned.
Cook the chicken:
In the same skillet used to cook the corn add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and cook until deeply brown along the bottom and the flesh turns opaque about halfway up the side, 4 to 5 minutes.
Flip the chicken and continue cooking, until brown on the second side and fully cooked through another 3 to 5 minutes.
Cut the chicken:
Transfer the cooked chicken to a cutting board. Once it is cool enough to handle, cut it into bite-sized pieces.
Make the salad dressing:
Place the lime juice, vinegar, honey, cumin, salt, pepper, cilantro, and olive oil into a blender and blend until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of water, if needed, to get the blender going.
Alternatively, make this dressing by hand. Finely chop the cilantro and place it in a medium bowl. Combine all salad dressing ingredients and whisk until smooth.
Finish and serve the salad:
Add the corn and chicken into the bowl with the salad ingredients. Crumble the tortilla chips over the top.
Add about two-thirds of the dressing and toss to lightly coat. Add more dressing and toss again, if needed. Divide salad into 4 bowls, top with crumbled Cotija cheese, and serve.
Notes for Vegan and Vegetarians
To replace the chicken, you can use extra-firm tofu or seitan instead. Prepare it as you would the chicken, being mindful not to crowd the pan when sauteing in the pan. To keep it from steaming, cook the tofu or seitan in batches.
For those who don’t like Cilantro
You can use parsley to make the dressing in the same proportions.
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The fast-food restaurant wars are back! Only this time, it’s not to crown the best hamburger, it’s all about the best chicken sandwich.
According to QSR, roughly 65 percent of the U.S. population ordered a breaded chicken sandwich from a quick-service restaurant in the last six months.
Perhaps due to a frantic news cycle, around restaurants and across the country in general, it appears we’ve reached a lull in the chicken sandwich wars. But don’t expect that to last.
In Danny Klein’s April 2021 article, the reason brands jumped into the fray in the fall and winter of 2019 and over the duration of 2020, isn’t complicated. Ever since Popeyes’ August 2019 launch, quick-serves fixated on replicating its viral success. Even fast-food behemoth MacDonalds entered the wars with its chicken sandwich and saw a sizable boost in traffic in their restaurants.
I know people have definite favorites. Some love Popeye’s, while others head to Chick-Fil-A. There are a few new faces like the Florida-based PDQ, which recently opened a location in Farmingdale, New York.
While the fast-food chicken sandwiches are good, there is nothing like homemade fried chicken. There are countless recipes that all claim to be the best. As for this home cook, I prefer my grandmother’s recipe, but I am always up for a challenge. So, when a recipe says Best Ever Fried Chicken, I have to put it to the test.
The Woman’s Day recipe has all the essentials of southern cooking, buttermilk, and spices. However, the difference is in how the chicken is coated. The recipe works for a 10-piece chicken assortment or for the revered chicken breast. Not to mention when you make it home, you can add the spices you like. What’s not to like.
Is it the best ever fried chicken, no, but it is pretty good. You should give it a whirl.
Best Ever Fried Chicken Woman’s Day Recipe
1/4 cup sugar
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6 cups low-fat buttermilk, divided
4 tbsp. celery seeds, divided
Kosher salt and pepper
1 whole chicken (5 to 6 pounds), cut into 10 pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. cayenne
4 cups peanut or canola oil, for frying
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In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, garlic, 4 cups buttermilk, 2 Tbsp celery seeds, and 1/2 cup salt. Add chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together flour, cayenne, 1 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp pepper, and remaining 2 Tbsp celery seeds.
Attach a deep-fry thermometer to a large Dutch oven and heat oil on medium to 325°F. Place remaining 2 cups buttermilk in a second bowl. Working with a couple of pieces at a time, remove chicken from marinade, letting excess drip off. Coat in flour, shaking off excess, then coat in buttermilk and in flour once more. Shake off excess flour and add chicken to oil.
Fry chicken until golden brown and cooked through, 4 to 10 minutes depending on piece. Repeat with remaining chicken, adjusting heat to keep oil between 300°F and 325°F.
PER SERVING: 485 calories, 27.5 g fat (6.5 g saturated fat), 37 g protein, 1,005 mg sodium, 21 g carbs, 1 g fiber
COST PER SERVING: $1.83
WD TEST KITCHEN TIP: Dip chicken in marinade and flour twice before frying for a shatteringly crisp crust. Switch it up by adding sugar, salt, and other seasonings to the buttermilk marinade. Remember, the temperature of the oils changes when the chicken is added. Be sure to temp the oil between batches to make sure it stays at 325-degrees.
Welcome to the premier posting for Monday Meal Makeover. Here we will try to up your Monday meal game for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, or snacks. All the recipes that can be adapted will include:
Gluten-Free, Celiac Disease
Low Sugar/ Low Carb
Lactose Intolerance/Egg Allergies
For what I hope will be the first of many, welcome to the first Monday Meal Makeover.
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Blueberry Muffins by Tastes Better From Scratch adapted by Chamein Canton
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum, millet, sweet or brown rice flour)
3/4 cup granulated sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, coconut, raw cane, or turbinado sugar, pulsed fine)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons grated lemon or orange zest
1/3 cup oil (vegetable or canola oil)
1 large egg (2 tablespoons Aquafaba, ¼ cup silken tofu pureed with 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, 1 flaxseed or chia seed egg, or egg replacer)
1/3 cup buttermilk (dairy: full-fat, low-fat, or light) (non-dairy: almond, rice, soy, or light coconut milk with 1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, mixed. Let stand for at least five minutes before using)
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon lemon or orange extract, optional
1 cup blueberries , fresh or frozen
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, coconut, raw cane, or turbinado sugar pulsed fine)
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar (Swerve brown sugar substitute, organic light brown sugar)
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum, millet, sweet or brown rice flour)
2 Tablespoons cold unsalted or salted butter, chopped (vegan unsalted or salted butter)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a standard size muffin tin with liners, or grease well with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt, orange or lemon zest, and baking powder.
Add oil, egg, buttermilk, vanilla, and orange or lemon extract (if using), and mix just until combined. Don’t over mix (the batter doesn’t need to be “smooth”)
Toss the blueberries in a spoonful of flour. This will help them not to sink to the bottom of the muffin. Gently fold blueberries into the batter.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.
If you are making the crumb topping:
Add all of the ingredients to a bowl. Use your fingers, pastry cutter, or a fork to work the butter into the mixture.
Sprinkle crumb mixture over the tops of muffins in the pan.
Bake for about 5 minutes at 400-degrees, then reduce the temperature to 375-degrees. Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs.
Remove muffins from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
The bake time may vary by ovens. It may take a little longer or a shorter time depending on your oven. I tend to err on the side of a toothpick coming out clean or with a few crumbs when inserted in the center of the muffins.
I don’t recommend using shortening or butter-flavor shortening. It makes the batter heavier and the muffins oily.
Cast Iron Roasted Chicken- Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen adapted by me
1 whole chicken. Fryer or young chicken
Canola or vegetable oil
This is the seasoning rub I use, adapt it to your likes and measure it out to the size of the chicken.
Paprika sweet or smoked
Remove the chicken back. Set aside to make stock
Combine the seasoning in a bowl
Tie the legs together with kitchen twine.
Season the chicken skin side down
Place into a cast iron skillet
Make sure the skin of the chicken is dry. Rub the skin with oil. Season liberally and tuck the wings underneath. Roast In hot oven 450-475. Make sure there’s about seven inches from the rack to the top of the oven.
Roast for about 1 hour. It could be more or less depending upon your oven. So keep a watchful eye. The temp of the chicken should be about 160-165 degrees from the thickest part of the chicken.
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion finely chopped
3 cloves of chopped garlic
1 cup of ketchup
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup molasses * (sorghum syrup)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire
1 teaspoon mustard powder
pinch of cayenne
1 tablespoon chili powder
pinch of allspice
In a saucepan over medium heat, saute onions until tender, about four to five minutes. Add garlic, and stir for one minute. Add the tomato paste, and carmelize it stirring for two minutes. Add the ketchup, molasses, cider vinegar, and brown sugar. Stir for one minute. Add the chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, pinch of cayenne, and allspice. Stir. Add 1/4 cup water and cook stirring for four minutes until thickened. Take the sauce off the heat and let cool. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. You can also use a blender or food processor, but be sure it’s cool. It will make for quite the science lesson and a mess.
Spruce Eats list of molasses substitutes
If you don’t have molasses, you can make one of several quick substitutes. Replace one cup of molasses with one of the following: 1 cup dark corn syrup, honey, or maple syrup. 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/4 cup water
These substitutions may alter the taste of your recipe a bit. If the molasses flavor is vital to the success of your recipe, try the brown sugar substitute. Since brown sugar is granulated sugar and molasses it’ll be the closest flavor match. Maple syrup or dark corn syrup would be the next best choice.
If you have to use granulated sugar or honey as the substitute, consider increasing the spices in the recipe a bit to make up for the flavors that the molasses would have contributed.
The first week after Daylight Savings Time is usually pretty hard for most people. However, the arrival of spring helps make the time change a little more bearable. The days are longer and we begin to see more spring vegetables and fruits in the market.
I love blueberries. They are rich in antioxidants, sweet, and a good source of fiber. I am always on the hunt for a good blueberry muffin recipe. Luckily, the majority of the recipes I’ve tried have turned out well.
I’m sharing this recipe from the Life Made Simple blog. I adapted it for vegetarians, vegans, gluten-sensitivities, low and no-sugar diets. It’s a tasty way to get more fiber in your family’s diets. I hope you try this recipe for one fine spring morning at your home.
Blueberry muffins by Life Made Simple adapted by me
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum, or brown rice flour)
1/2 cup cake flour ( ½ cup gluten-free all-purpose less 3 tablespoons, then add 3 tablespoons gluten-free cornstarch, sift together)
1 cup sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, coconut, raw cane, or turbinado sugar, pulsed fine)
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk (3/4 cup of soy, rice, almond, oat, or light coconut milk with 1 ½ teaspoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, combine and let stand for five minutes before using)
2 eggs ( ¼ cup Aquafaba, ½ cup silken tofu pureed with ¼ teaspoon baking soda, 2 flaxseed or chia seed eggs, or vegan egg replacer)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
11/2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 2 lemons or the zest of 1 lemon and 2 teaspoons of orange zest
1 1/4 cup blueberries – fresh or frozen
3 tbsp coarse sugar or raw cane sugar – optional topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 12 standard muffin cups with liners.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, lightly beat together oil, butter, vanilla, eggs, and milk.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt.
With mixing speed on low, slowly add dry ingredients. Mix until combined.
Remove bowl from stand, gently fold in blueberries. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups, filling 2/3 of the way full. Sprinkle with sanding sugar.
Place into oven and bake for 24-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Place muffins on wire rack to cool completely.
I used a combination of orange and lemon zest in this recipe. I also prefer adding the zest to the flour. I find that even when you mix the wet ingredients well, the zest has a habit of clumping together. If you add the zest to the flour mixture, it gets evenly distributed, and you don’t run the risk of clumps or over-stirring your batter.
We are nearly three months into 2021, and while life is beginning to show signs of being on the path to being normal, it seems that we still have a ways to go. While it’s been hard for everyone, if you’re a working mother with a career, job, or business of your own, you are likely burning the candles at both ends. On its face, it seems like working from home should be an ideal situation. You don’t have to deal with traffic, or long lines at your favorite coffee or breakfast place. There are different wardrobe choices to make when working from the waist up. Thankfully, there are ways to make lounge or active wear look more professional than sweats.
There are definite advantages to working from home, but one of the biggest drawbacks is defining the boundary lines between our home and professional lives. It’s easy to fall into the role of mother/wife/girlfriend/partner/daughter very easily. So many women find their work flow interrupted by hungry children, spouses, or even calls from family because you are at home, because they don’t see the line. To that end, there things you can do to remind people you are working from home. It’s not a day off with occasional bursts of work.
Most women are natural multitaskers and it’s easy to slip back into that mode. The problem is once you do, you’ve taken care of one thing, while leaving more for you to do in the end and it will be frustrating. As much as I don’t like to admit this, we are often our own worst enemies. So, it’s worth taking the time to really figure out how you can make working from home truly work for everyone, especially you.
Last year Healthline had some great tips at the beginning of the pandemic (April 2020). Here are just a few:
Designate a workspace
Set up an area of your house to use as a workspace. Sitting down in this space sends a clear signal to your brain that it’s time to focus. Stay away from your designated workspace when you’re not working.
Once you’ve completed your workday, resist the urge to check in with any professional obligations until you begin work again.
If creating a mobile workspace helps you concentrate, set up a few spaces in your house where you can work. This may help your posture since you’ll change up your seated position. Giving yourself a set amount of time in each location may help you manage your time.
Make sure that your workspace is ergonomic. This will remove risk factors that lead to musculoskeletal injuries and allow for increased performance and productivity. While sitting on a comfy couch or your bed may sound nice, typing on your laptop while doing so for a long time could strain your back or neck.
Get ready for the day
Take the time to go about your normal morning routine, take a shower, and get dressed for the day. If you normally go to the gym, supplement your routine with exercising at home with weights for strength-training and cardio.
Designate some work clothes, even if they’re more comfortable than your typical professional attire. If you prefer to do your hair and makeup, then go for it, even if it’s only for you.
Or allow your skin to breathe and use this time to improve its health by applying only serums, toners, or masks.
Set a schedule
Instead of having a vague plan, create a daily schedule and put it in writing. Generate a digital schedule or jot it down with pen and paper, and stick it in a visible place. Come up with a detailed to-do list that’s broken down into categories based on importance.
Create an eating plan
Plan out your meals and snacks ahead of time, such as at the beginning of the week or workday. This prevents you from working to the point of hunger and then scrambling to decide what to eat. You should also avoid eating at your workstation.
Choose foods that boost concentration, try to avoid refined carbs, processed foods, and sugary drinks. These types of carbs lead to the afternoon lull, when many find themselves struggling to stay alert. Look to food that aid in alertness with the protein needed to fuel you through the rest of your work day.
Get a little help from your friends
Whether it’s a coworker or a longtime bestie, your friends are always there to lend an ear. They can help talk you through a work issue, or give you a laugh to make the day better and lighten your mood. This kind of playing hooky has its benefits. It gives you a chance to reset.
Communicate with your spouse or partner
It is easy to fall into the roles of mom and dad or even husband and wife without ever really taking about the things that are actually on our minds. Set aside a time when the two of you can talk without distractions. No cell phones, children, or television. Communication is the life’s blood of relationships, but you must have conversation (s) to keep it flowing.
Working with a baby
Use a baby carrier or wrap so you can keep your child close to you. To keep your hands free, use a dictation app. If you’re on a call, you can let your recipient know that you have a baby at home in case there are any interruptions or noises.
Use their nap times efficiently, and try to schedule work that requires intense focus or conference calls during these times.
You may want to have a conversation with your boss about a modified schedule that works for both of you while working from home with a baby.
7. Working with older children
If you have young children, you’ll want to focus on their needs. But if you have an older child that can take on some extra responsibility, you can set them up with some very clear instructions and activities for help taking care of younger children or completing household chores.
You may want to work in the early morning or late evenings while your children are sleeping, especially when you need to focus on complex tasks.
Balance structure and play
Encourage your kids to entertain themselves, but help them manage their time wisely. Set up activities to engage them.
Children can also be overstimulated, so limit their screen time and allow for occasional boredom to arise. Be firm in your approach and set clear boundaries, expectations, and consequences.
Finding your work/life balance is a work in progress. Some days it will be blue skies and sunny. Conversely, there will be times when you’re ready to pull your hair out. Remember to take a minute, breathe, and let it pass. It’s okay if your plan goes awry, it doesn’t have to be perfect, and the best part is that tomorrow is another day.
If you’re like my family, everyone eats bananas, but there’s always one lonesome banana left behind. Here’s a quick recipe that uses one banana to make a delicious muffin.
Banana Nut Muffins
Servings 4 muffins
1 ripe banana
1 egg (2 tablespoons Aquafaba, 1/4 cup silken tofu pureed 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, 1 flaxseed or chia seed egg, or egg replacer)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons olive oil (virgin olive oil or olive oil, not extra-virgin)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, coconut, turbinado, or raw cane sugar pulsed)
1/4 cup brown sugar (organic brown sugar, Swerve brown sugar substitute)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Instructions: Preheat oven to 325-degrees
Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners or spray with canola or vegetable spray
In a medium size mixing bowl, mash the banana. Then stir in the egg, vanilla extract, and oil until combined. Then add all at once the flour, sugars, baking soda, and salt. Fold until combined. Then stir in the chopped walnuts gently. Do not over-stir. Pour the batter into the muffin tin. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for five minutes before turning out onto a rack. Enjoy warm. Muffins will keep for three days at room temp lightly covered
A day in the life of a writer can be filled with many things. We have appointments, errands to run, kids to raise, meals to cook, and dry cleaning to pick up. Mix in a day job, career, or business to run, and we have more than enough to keep us occupied. However, I have discovered that in the midst of it all, I find time to write. Most of the time, it’s a welcome relief and a way to put the worries of the day out of my mind. Then there are times when literary inspiration comes at a bad time, particularly when I need to focus on something else that’s pressing. Nevertheless, I’ve got that figured out for the most part.
The most difficult aspect of writing is when we have to cool our jets waiting for an answer once we have had our work submitted to an agent or a publisher for review. No matter the subject, fiction or nonfiction, writers pour a piece of themselves into every page. In fiction, we know every character intimately, the emotions in every sentence, the setting, and every verb. For nonfiction, we have researched the subjects thoroughly, done our due diligence, used our experience in an authoritative yet approachable manner. The work put into it is all about love. Writers love to write and we accept that all the time we put into our writing, may or may not be rewarded with an offer to publish.
Moreover, even if a writer gets a literary agent who is going to represent them to publishers, there is more time built into that proposition as well. Publishing is notoriously slow when it comes to reviewing manuscripts and that’s not a dig about editors. These days the business of publishing in terms of reading manuscript submissions is something that happens outside of business hours. That is true of literary agents as well and I can speak to that as an agent. I almost never have an opportunity to review a submission during business hours. I read in the evenings before and after dinner. I also spend weekends reading as well. This is an industry filled with hurry up and wait
I understand the frustration from both sides. I try to let writers know that the best thing they can do is to keep on writing. It’s also a good idea to incorporate other creative outlets to help ease anxiety. Cooking, baking, painting, sewing, or drawing, are just a few things that let you focus creativity and nerves in a productive way. I have several personal projects happening at the moment and if I stay too focused on them, I will drive myself crazy. As it is the winter, it’s not like I can go out and take a walk like I do in the warmer months. I use my kitchen as my ashram and experiment with different recipes or work on adapting recipes to make them healthier, gluten- free, or no-sugar. It keeps my mind busy. It wasn’t long before some story issues I couldn’t figure out, became clearer and I picked back up writing again. So, time does have its advantages
My advice to writers is always to write. However, when your mind needs a break, use the time to do something else productive. That said, spend time with the people you love, that helps. A little face time with a nephew or a daughter can do wonders. Attend your family’s next Zoom, call a friend, grab a coffee, bundle up and take a walk if it’s a nice, moderate day. Just take a couple of beats. It won’t derail you, but it will help you take your eyes off the clock.
Working on recipes is what I like to do. I also like to share them.
Pasties Pastry Recipe Recipe from New Orleans Kitchen Queens
1 cup all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum, sweet rice, or brown rice flour)
In a large bowl combine the flours with the salt. Dice the cold butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture. With the back of a fork press the butter into the flour until the butter is incorporated (there will still be small pieces of butter in the mixture). Make a well in the center of the dough and pour in the ice water. Gently blend the water into the dough until it forms a solid ball. Wrap the dough ball in plastic and refrigerate for at least on hour before rolling.
Chicken Filled Pasties Recipe adapted from Healthy Nibbles
½ pound chicken breast or tenderloins, cubed
1 large- sweet onion or 2 medium sized onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 large Russet or Yukon potatoes, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium sweet potato, diced
1 teaspoon ground thyme
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
generous pinch of salt
1 large egg, whisked (or 1 tablespoon Aquafaba plus 1 tablespoon water, whisked)
Add diced Russet potatoes and sweet potatoes to a sauce pot. Cover with water, then add a pinch of salt. Cook the potatoes on medium-heat until they are fork tender. Drain and set aside.
In a large skillet, add oil over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the carrots and onions. Cook until the onions begin to soften, and the carrots are getting a little tender.
Add the garlic in, and cook for thirty seconds. Stir in the cubed chicken and cook stirring until no longer pink and cooked through.
Add the potatoes. Sprinkle the thyme and rosemary over the chicken mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook through until heated adjusting seasoning as needed
Let the chicken filling cool before filling the pasties.
Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Divide the dough into 4 or six pieces on a well floured surface. Use a floured rolling pin to roll into discs about 8 1/2-inch circles. Turn the dough over frequently to prevent it from sticking to the surface. You can roll all the circles out at once, or do it one at a time, depending on your counter space. If you choose to roll out one at a time, refrigerate the dough in between in circle. Cold is essential for flaky, crumbly, pastry without soggy bottoms.
Take a small handful of filling and place it in the center of the rolled out dough. You want to make sure that there is about an inch of clear space around the edge of the dough. Brush the egg white along this empty space.
Fold the dough over the vegetables to create a semi-circle shape. Do this with confidence! Seal the pastry. You can crimp the edges with a fork or fold it like I did. When I folded the edges of the pasty, I brushed some egg along the edge so that the folds stayed put. Brush some of the egg wash over the entire pasty. Repeat these steps for the rest of the dough.
Place the prepared pasties on the baking sheets and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until the pasties are golden brown.
You can make these vegan. Just omit the chicken and replace with more vegetables. Feel free to add traditional swedes (rutabagas) or other vegetables you enjoy.
I’ve tried this with shortening and it doesn’t come out the same. It’s a little heavier. Stick with vegan butter, even non-dairy margarine is a good choice.