Adaptable Recipes, Makeover Monday Meals

Makeover Monday Meal- Copycat Breakfast Edition

Even though the official beginning of fall is still a few days away, many of our favorite coffee shops and/or coffee houses have begun to offer fall-themed, or more specifically, pumpkin-spiced hot and cold beverages. The pumpkin theme also extends to donuts, muffins, and quick bread. If you would like to try something a little different that’s easy to make and save you a little money, we have two terrific recipes for you to try.

At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a banana bread baking movement that seemed to be everywhere. As time went on, interest in making banana bread waned. Many people enjoy Starbucks banana bread, so we made a concerted effort to find a recipe that most closely replicates the taste. This recipe was found on the Butter Your Biscuit Blog.

If you are not into pumpkin-spice flavored coffee, we came across a recipe for an Iced Maple Frappe Coffee by Dan McLaughlin on TikTok. It’s super easy and if you’re into maple this is a wonderful twist on a delicious fall-themed beverage.

Both of these recipes are quick and easy. Start the week off on a deliciously thrifty note.

The recipe has been adapted for:

  • Vegan/Vegetarian
  • Gluten-Sensitivities
  • Low Sugar diets

 

Copy Cat Starbucks Banana Bread recipe by Butter Your Biscuit adapted by Still A Chick Lit

  • 2 cups flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum, sweet or brown rice flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg (2 tablespoons Aquafaba, 1/4 cup silken tofu pureed with 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, 1 flaxseed or chia seed egg, or vegan egg replacer)
  • 1 1/8 cup sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, monk fruit sweetener granulated, coconut sugar, turbinado, or raw can sugar, pulsed fine)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (Canola oil)
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk (dairy: whole fat buttermilk or low-fat buttermilk)  (non-dairy: 2 tablespoons rice, soy, almond, or light coconut milk mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, let sit for 5 minutes before using)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 extra ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, spray an 8 x 5 loaf with nonstick spray and line it with parchment paper if desired.
  2. In a medium bowl add flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and whisk just until combined.
  3. In another medium bowl add egg, sugar, and oil and whisk until combined.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well, the mixture will be thick and dry.
  5. Add in the buttermilk, vanilla, and mashed bananas and mix until combined.
  6. Pour into a loaf pan, sprinkle walnuts over the top.
  7. Bake on the center oven rack for 60-75 minutes or until the knife comes out clean.

NOTES

 

  • You can adjust the cinnamon to up to 1 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, depending on your taste.

Maple Greek Frappe by Dan McLaughlin @softpourn on TikTok

1 tablespoon maple sugar

1 tablespoon light brown sugar (Swerve brown sugar substitute)

1 tablespoon good quality instant coffee

Cold Water

Ice

8 ounces of Milk (Whole, Low-fat, 2%) (non-dairy: Almond, Rice, Soy, Oat, Light Coconut, or hazelnut milk)

  • In a glass or travel mug add the maple sugar, brown sugar, and instant coffee.
  • Add enough cold water to cover, but don’t add too much
  • Using a frother, a small immersion blender, blender, or something like a Nutri-bullet. Mix the ingredients together until it’s thick
  • Add ice
  • Pour in your choice of milk, stir, and enjoy,

 

 

 

Sign up to stay informed about new blog posts, articles, book excerpts, authors, bonus recipes, and women in business profiles, the schedule for our Still A Chick-Lit Podcast, and so much more.

Select list(s) to subscribe to




By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Still A Chick Lit, Broadway, Amityville, NY, 11701, https://stillachicklit.com/. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

 

Original Recipe on:

Homepage

 

For more coffee beverage ideas, follow Dan on TikTok @softpourn

 

Adaptable Recipes, Food Glorious Food, Makeover Monday Meals

Makeover Monday Meal- Dinner Edition Unstuffed Peppers Skillet

 

 

 

We are always on the lookout for delicious recipes to start your week off right. To that end, we came across this lovely recipe by the Real mom Kitchen for an unstuffed peppers skillet. Many of us know and love a version of stuffed peppers made by our moms or grandmothers. The presentation was always as delightful to the eye as it was the palate.  Laura Powell’s unstuffed recipe is a great take on this classic.

To make this recipe a little more inclusive, we have adapted it for vegans and vegetarians too. Remember, you can season it your way. The seasonings used in Ms. Powell’s original recipe work nicely, but feel free to go with your own palate. It can easily be more Italian with the addition of dried oregano, basil, or parsley too. For an Indian flare, a little curry or Garam Masala might be nice. You get the idea, make it your way and enjoy.

Unstuffed peppers skillet recipe by Real Mom Kitchen adapted by Still A Chick Lit

 

3 bell peppers, diced (I used one green, 2 red)

1/2 onion, diced

1 lb ground beef or sausage (beef 80/20 or 85/15, 90/10) (Chicken: ½ pound ground chicken breast, ½ pound ground chicken) (Turkey: ½ pound ground turkey breast, ½ pound ground turkey)

(Beyond meat, ground, Gardein ground, Impossible Plant-Based Burger Ground, Farmland Protein, ground, Good and Gather, meatless beef style ground)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes

1 (14 oz) can beef broth (chicken or vegetable unsalted stock)

1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce

1 tsp salt

pepper, to taste

1/2 tsp sugar

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 cup uncooked extra-long grain rice

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (Daiya cheddar cheese shreds or vegan cheese shreds of your choice)

additional diced peppers and/or green onion for garnish

3 tablespoons canola or olive oil, divided

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large skillet with 1 ½ tablespoon of oil, add onion and peppers and sauté until tender. Remove from the skillet and wipe clean. Brown the ground beef or sausage until cooked through. Drain off any excess fat, then add the vegetables back in. * If you are using chicken, turkey, use 1 ½ tablespoon of oil to cook the meat thoroughly until no longer pink.  For the vegan ground, you can cook the onions, peppers, and vegan ground together in the oil until the vegetables are tender.

Add garlic to the meat or meatless mixture and cook for a minute until fragrant. Drain off any excess grease (meat).

Add tomatoes, beef broth, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, sugar, Worcestershire, and rice to the skillet.

Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cover. Cook for about 20-30 minutes until moisture is absorbed and rice is tender. At 20 minutes check and give a stir and continue cooking if needed.

Once the rice is tender, sprinkle cheese over the mixture and cover to get the cheese melted.

Once melted garnish with chopped peppers and /or green onion and serve. Serves 4-6.

For more Makeover, Monday Meals and other fabulous topics subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to stay informed about new blog posts, articles, book excerpts, authors, bonus recipes, and women in business profiles, the schedule for our Still A Chick-Lit Podcast, and so much more.

Select list(s) to subscribe to




By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Still A Chick Lit, https://stillachicklit.com/. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

 

Original recipe adapted from Real Mom Kitchen  http://www.realmomkitchen.com

Food Glorious Food, Makeover Monday Meals

Makeover Monday Meal-Veggie Edition

An Easy and tasty way to get more veggies in your family’s diet

 

July is nearly over, but as the calendar changes to August with the heat still on in much of the country, you want to keep your time in the kitchen to a minimum.  This recipe comes courtesy of my sister, who spotted it in her Google feed just before Independence Day.

The recipe for this Cowboy Caviar is from the Dinner At The Zoo Blog. It works great as an appetizer, with a salad, or your favorite tortilla chips. The recipe requires a little knife work, but you can find a number of the ingredients pre-chopped at most grocery stores.  Low-sodium versions of the canned beans are widely available too. If you aren’t a fan of cilantro, you can use parsley instead. If you like it hot, add more jalapenos. If you don’t like heat, leave it out. Play with the recipe until you get it to suit your palate.

 

It’s one healthy bite that I am sure you and your family will enjoy.

Prep Time 20 minutes

Cook Time 1 minute

Total Time 21 minutes

Servings 8

Cowboy Caviar by Dinner at the Zoo

Ingredients

1 can of black beans rinsed and drained (low-sodium)

1 can black-eyed peas rinsed and drained (low-sodium)

1 cup tomatoes seeded and finely diced (plum, cherry, grape tomatoes are great to use)

1 jalapeno seeded and finely diced

1 cup corn can be fresh, canned, or thawed from frozen

1 avocado chopped

3/4 cup red and/or orange bell pepper seeded and finely diced

1/2 cup red onion finely diced

1/3 cup cilantro leaves chopped

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lime juice

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Place the beans, black-eyed peas, tomatoes, jalapeno, corn, avocado, bell pepper, onion, and cilantro in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, honey, chili powder, cumin and salt, and pepper.

Pour the dressing over the bean mixture and toss gently to coat. Serve as a salad or with chips.

Notes

Make-ahead instructions: Assemble according to instructions, except omit the avocado. Refrigerate for up to 8 hours. Add the avocado right before serving.

 

For more recipes and to keep up with Still a Chick Lit, subscribe to our free newsletter

Sign up to stay informed about new blog posts, articles, book excerpts, authors, bonus recipes, and women in business profiles, the schedule for our Still A Chick-Lit Podcast, and so much more.

Select list(s) to subscribe to




By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Still A Chick Lit, https://stillachicklit.com/. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact
Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Makeover Monday Meal- Dessert

Time

When the temps begin to rise, it’s time to move the cooking outside. There is something about a grill that turns people who don’t normally cook inside into grill masters. Steaks, burgers, chicken, fish, and pizza are made more delicious under the watchful eye of the king or queen of the barbecue. What about dessert? Well, you can grill stone fruit like nectarines and peaches with a little sugar, then serve it with ice cream or frozen yogurt. Smores are always a hit with the crowd and the kids love it.

As someone who loves to bake, even I won’t turn on the oven with the mercury rises. Okay, that’s not completely true, I get up super early to bake during the coolest part of the day. If you don’t want to lose any sleep and you don’t feel like heading out for ice cream after a long day at work, no-bake desserts are the way to go. Mix it, pour it, put it in the fridge to chill. That’s it.

This recipe comes to us from Martha Stewart. It takes about 25 minutes to make, and even less time if you decide to buy a ready-made graham cracker, Oreo, or a chocolate cookie crust.

This recipe include adaptations for vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, low-sugar, and no sugar added diets.

No Bake Cheesecake- Martha Stewart adapted by Chamein Canton

2 packages (20 sheets) graham crackers (gluten-free graham crackers or chocolate wafers)

11 tablespoons (1 3/8 sticks) unsalted butter, melted (unsalted vegan butter)

2 tablespoons sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, Monk Fruit granulated sweetener, coconut, raw cane, or turbinado sugar, pulsed fine)

2 8-ounce packages full-fat cream cheese, room temperature (1 package light cream cheese ** plus 1 package regular cream cheese, vegan cream cheese)

1 14-ounce can (1 1/4 cups) sweetened condensed milk (Vegan condensed coconut milk)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

** It’s important to use light cream cheese and not Neufchatel. Although Neufchatel is slightly lower in calories, it’s a bit more watery than light cream cheese, which can affect how it sets once the cheesecake is chilled. If this recipe used agar-agar or gelatin, it wouldn’t be a problem.

Directions

Step 1

Put graham crackers in a large resealable plastic bag, and crush them with a rolling pin until very fine crumbs form.

Step 2

Pour crumbs into a medium bowl; stir in sugar. Add butter, and stir until well combined.

Step 3

Press the crumb mixture into a 9-inch springform pan, spreading it 1 1/2 to 2 inches up the side; press flat. Chill crust in freezer at least 10 minutes.

Step 4

Meanwhile, make the filling: Using an electric mixer set at medium-high speed, beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in the condensed milk a little at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl, as necessary. Beat in the lemon juice and vanilla.

Step 5

Pour the filling into the crust; smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Step 6

Unclasp sides of pan, and remove cheesecake.

Variations

Skip the crust: use cheesecake filling in a parfait and invent a whole new “layer cake.” Mix the filling, then put some in a glass. Top with broken-up cookies (such as chocolate or vanilla wafers) or graham crackers, and add fresh fruit (such as raspberries or blueberries). Alternate layers. Refrigerate parfait for 30 minutes, and serve.

Don’t have time to make a crust? Use a ready-made graham cracker, Oreo, Nilla Wafer, or chocolate wafer pie crust. They also have gluten-free graham crackers and chocolate wafer crusts.

Variations

Chocolate cheesecake: make the crust with chocolate wafer cookies (10 ounces, or about 50 cookies) instead of graham crackers. Once you’ve mixed the filling, gently stir in 1 cup mini chocolate chips, and then fill the crust. Sprinkle more chips on top of the chilled cake.

Sign up to stay informed about new blog posts, articles, book excerpts, authors, bonus recipes, and women in business profiles, the schedule for our Still A Chick-Lit Podcast, and so much more.

Select list(s) to subscribe to




By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Still A Chick Lit, https://stillachicklit.com/. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact
Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Monday Meal Makeover

https://stillachicklit.com/food/

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:

  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Gluten-Free, Celiac Disease
  • Low Sugar/ Low Carb
  • No Sugar
  • Lactose Intolerance/Egg Allergies

For what I hope will be the first of many, welcome to the first Monday Meal Makeover.

Sign up for our newsletter to get these recipes and more

Sign up to stay informed about new blog posts, articles, book excerpts, authors, bonus recipes, and women in business profiles, the schedule for our Still A Chick-Lit Podcast, and so much more.

Select list(s) to subscribe to




By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Still A Chick Lit, https://stillachicklit.com/. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Blueberry Muffins by Tastes Better From Scratch adapted by Chamein Canton

Ingredients

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

Crumb topping:

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

Instructions

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.

Notes

  • 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.

Dinner

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

Onion powder

Granulated garlic

Black pepper

Chili powder

Kosher salt

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.

Barbecue Sauce

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.

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Spring is in the air again. Why not put blueberry muffins on the table?

https://stillachicklit.com/for-serious-foodies/

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

 INGREDIENTS

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)

1/4 cup vegetable oil – or coconut oil

4 tbsp unsalted butter – melted (vegan unsalted butter)

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

INSTRUCTIONS

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.

  • Notes
  • 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.

Recipe adapted from Life Made Simple blog

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Fighting for my right to write in peace

Whether it was life before Covid-19, most of us probably had some issues carving out time for ourselves. Although, I am very sure that men have as much responsibility and pressures as women, when dad sets aside time and he doesn’t want to be bothered, people listen. As a daughter, girlfriend, significant other, and fiancée I tried and still try not to bother the man in my life when he needs to work, write, or watch football, NCAA basketball, or the PGA,

I have found that as a woman I have a harder time setting those boundaries, but I won’t blame all of it on everyone else. I’ve been at my mother’s (whom I refer to as her mothership) and she tends to walk in while I’m writing and start talking or telling me about something that she wants me to do. Instead of telling her to please give me a moment, I am an oldest child. Most firstborns are what I like to call starter children. We are the kids parents get to practice on until they figure out their parenting style. Traditional, bohemian, militant, or a combination thereof. We are the ones who weather the trial period. That is not to say that we don’t have a right to ask for a little time to ourselves as adults, but it can get a little tricky.

All of that aside, writing is a part of my life every day. Even when I don’t have a pen and paper in hand, I’m thinking about different topics, memories, or funny stories I’d like to incorporate in a blog post or as a part of a novel, or the cookbook I’m working on about my grandmothers’ and their cooking.

More than that, writing is more than just thoughts on paper, it’s the way I can redirect nervous energy when I’m worried. It’s also the way I’ve been able to deal with MS for the past twenty-five years. Chronic diseases and conditions like MS can engulf your life. It can dominate every corner if you let it. My dad told me when I was first hit with the diagnosis, that as long as I had MS, it could never have me. I’ve lived by that creed ever since and it has served me well, in addition to saving me from going into a self-pity hole.

That is why I believe that it’s important to fight for your right to write. If you’re a writer, it’s a part of who you are, which is an artist. And artists over many different mediums from paint to clay to, cameras to musical instruments and more need to exercise that right to keep it strong. Whatever moves you to write, scope out the place and set the time aside for yourself.

Part of my right to writer includes being in the kitchen, which includes going into the test kitchen to work on recipes. I love to work on adaptations of recipes to be sure it’s tasty enough to pass muster. To that end, I am posting a recipe for shepherd’s pie with meat and vegan ground meat. This is a recipe I came across in my Google feed, I’ve tweaked it a bit.

Shepherd’s Pie

Meat Filling:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped yellow onion

1 lb. 90% lean ground beef -or ground lamb

2 teaspoons dried parsley leaves

2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 garlic cloves -minced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose or 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup beef broth

1 cup frozen mixed peas & carrots*

1/2 cup frozen corn kernels

Vegan Meat Filling

1 pound or package of Vegan ground meat Impossible Burger Ground, Farmland Protein Starters, Good and Gather Ground, Gardein The Ultimate Beefless Ground

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped yellow onion

2 teaspoons dried parsley leaves

2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon Vegan Worcestershire sauce

2 garlic cloves -minced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup vegetable broth

1 cup frozen mixed peas & carrots*

1/2 cup frozen corn kernels

Potato Topping:

1 1/2 – 2 lb. russet potatoes -about 2 large potatoes peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

8 tablespoons unsalted butter -1 stick (vegan butter, margarine)

1/3 cup half & half (rice or soy milk)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup parmesan cheese (Thrive Vegan Parmesan-Style Cheese Alternative, Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free Shredded Parmesan, Vegan Soy Free Grated Parmesan Style Topping)

Instructions

Make the Meat or Vegan Meat Filling.

Add the oil to a large skillet and place it over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the onions. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the ground beef (or ground lamb or vegan ground) to the skillet and break it apart with a wooden spoon. Add the parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir well. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the meat is browned, stirring occasionally.

Add the Worcestershire sauce and garlic. Stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute.

Add the flour and tomato paste. Stir until well incorporated and no clumps of tomato paste remain.

Add the broth, frozen peas and carrots, and frozen corn. Bring the liquid to a boil then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Set the meat mixture aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Make the potato topping.

Place the potatoes in a large pot. Cover the potatoes with water. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are fork tender, 10-15 minutes.

Drain the potatoes in a colander. Return the potatoes to the hot pot. Let the potatoes rest in the hot pot for 1 minute to evaporate any remaining liquid.

Add butter, half & half, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mash the potatoes and stir until all the ingredients are mixed together.

Add the parmesan cheese to the potatoes. Stir until well combined.

Assemble the casserole.

Pour the meat mixture into a 9×9 (or 7×11) inch baking dish. Spread it out into an even layer. Spoon the mashed potatoes on top of the meat. Carefully spread into an even layer.

If the baking dish looks very full, place it on a rimmed baking sheet so that the filling doesn’t bubble over into your oven. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.** Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Notes

*You could use 1/2 cup frozen peas and 1/2 cup frozen sliced carrots.

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

It’s about time. Hurry up and wait. It’s a part of more than just a day in the life of a writer or literary agent

The clock is always ticking

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

Your next big book idea could be a brushstroke or stir away

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)

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 ounces (1 sticks) cold unsalted butter (vegan butter)

1/4 cup ice water

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

black pepper

1 large egg, whisked (or 1 tablespoon Aquafaba plus 1 tablespoon water, whisked)

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Add the garlic in, and cook for thirty seconds. Stir in the cubed chicken and cook stirring until no longer pink and cooked through.
  4. 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
  5. Let the chicken filling cool before filling the pasties.

INSTRUCTIONS

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.
Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Taking the garden path in 2021 and what’s better than a revenge body

I am still not one for resolutions. To me, the minute folks mention the word, it begins the usual graph chart. Most people are highly motivated in the beginning, then after a few weeks their enthusiasm wanes as winter’s long dark nights take a toll on workout schedules. Finally, most people drop off the chart altogether.

The better idea to me is substitutions instead of resolutions. You can begin making the changes you want to see in yourself by changing your mind set. The focus should be on a healthy body, mind, and spirit. I hear a lot about revenge bodies from people who want to get some sort of cosmic payback on an ex. Since revenge is defined as the action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands. To me, that means it steeped in hate.

The word to substitute in place of revenge is empathy. Although usually applied to others, t it’s important that we empathize with ourselves and come from a place of love. The best revenge might be looking good, but , loving, looking and feeling good about yourself, can’t be topped and unlike revenge, can be served cold, hot, or never.

Now many of us north of forty and fifty chicks are making changes in our diets include more vegetables and/or lean proteins. A salad can combine the best of both in a bowl or on a plate topped with homemade dressing that allows you to control the sodium, sugar, and taste.

One of the most raved about salad dressing is from the Olive Garden. Many people love to fill up on their soup and salad. To that end, I discovered a copycat recipe for it some years ago that I have tweaked a bit. However, you can feel free to make it to your taste.

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

3 small or 2 large garlic cloves

2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

1/4 cup fresh grated or shredded Parmesan Reggiano (Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free Parmesan, Go Veggie Vegan Parmesan grated, Go Veggie Vegan Soy-free Parmesan grated topping, Violife Parmesan Wedge)

2 tablespoons Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (Field Roast Chao Cheese Creamy is the closest in mimicking the funky saltiness of romano.)

3 tablespoons mayonnaise (regular, light, vegan, olive oil)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a small food processor or mini-chop, pulse the garlic a few times. Add the vinegar and lemon juice. If using sugar, add it with the Italian seasoning, parmesan, Romano, and mayonnaise. Pulse the mixture a few times. Then with the processor running, pour the olive oil. The dressing will appear thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your taste.

  • If you don’t want to use Romano cheese, you can add more parmesan cheese
  • Asiago, Grana Padano, or even Taleggio cheese are great substitutes. Use the kind of cheese you prefer
Adaptable Recipes, Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

A sweet way to celebrate Chanukah and the holidays with the kids

If you are like me, when you get up in the morning you feel like you did any other day when you were say thirty-three. In my mind that’s how old I am. Then I get up in three moves more like a faulty lawn chair, than a nimble thirty-something. However, there is a bright side for those of us who are north of forty and fifty plus. We are at an age when we can enjoy children as parents, or as dare I say Glam-parents. I have yet to find the appropriate word that doesn’t evoke visions of rocking chairs and knitting needles. Although, I have a few friends who have been creative when it comes to how their precious grandchildren refer to them. One of my favorites is Gigi.

That said, it’s the time of year when all the wonder of the world is in a child’s eyes. Granted, we are in the midst of some very trying times with the pandemic, but we can find ways to share the joy with our families, show our love, and face these challenges with resilience. One way to do that is in the kitchen. This recipe is for Sufganiyah. It is a round jelly doughnut eaten in Israel and around the world on the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. The doughnut is deep-fried in oil, filled with jam or custard, and then topped with powdered sugar. The doughnut recipe originated in Europe in the 1500s and by the 1800s was known as a Berliner in Germany.

The recipe for Sufganiyot is from The Children’s Jewish Holiday Kitchen by J Nathan. It was released by Random House in 1995. I’ve adapted the recipe for other dietary needs like gluten-sensitivities, low or no sugar diets, vegetarians and vegans.

Sufganiyah or Sufganiyot recipe by J Nathan adapted by me

INGREDIENTS

  1. 1 scant tablespoon (1 package) dry yeast
    4 tablespoons sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, Golden sugar, coconut, turbinado, or raw cane sugar pulsed, )
    3/4 cup lukewarm milk or warm water* (dairy: whole, or 3/4 cup of 2% plus 2 tablespoons of half and half or light cream) (almond, soy, rice, or light coconut milk)
    2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, sorghum, brown or sweet rice flour, almond flour works when combined 1 1/2 cups almond flour plus 1/2 cup corn flour)
    Pinch of salt
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    2 eggs, separated (for the yolks 1/2 cup silken tofu plus 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, or 2 tablespoons of soy lecithin) (whites 1/4 cup Aquafaba)
    2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter or pareve margarine, softened* (vegan butter or margarine)
    Apricot or strawberry preserves
    Sugar (Granulated or confectioner’s sugar, Swerve confectioner’s sugar substitute)
    Vegetable oil for deep-frying

*Use butter and milk if serving at a milk meal, and water and pareve margarine for a meat meal

  • The reason for the use of the combination of almond flour and cornflour is so that the doughnuts will be light and airy. Almond flour is essentially ground almonds and nuts don’t lend easily to being fried. The addition of cornflour lightens it to make it easier to fry. You can also use arrowroot.

PREPARATION

Child: Mix together the yeast, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and the milk. Let sit to make sure it bubbles.
Child: Sift the flour and mix it with the remaining sugar, salt, cinnamon, egg yolks, and the yeast mixture.
Adult with Child: Knead the dough until it forms a ball. Add the butter or margarine. Knead some more, until the butter is well absorbed. Cover with a towel and let rise overnight in the refrigerator.
Adult: Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch.
Child: Cut out the dough into 24 rounds with a juice glass, or any object about 2 inches in diameter. Take 1/2 teaspoon of preserves and place in the center of 12 rounds. Top with the other 12. Press down at edges, sealing with egg whites. Crimping with the thumb and second finger is best. Let rise for about 30 minutes.
Adult: Heat 2 inches of oil to about 375°. Drop the doughnuts into the hot oil, about 5 at a time. Turn to brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
Child: Roll the doughnuts in sugar.