Category Archives: child’s play

Celebrating Dr. Seuss

Hey everybody! Did you know that tomorrow is Dr. Seuss’ birthday?! If you missed it last year, you gotta try our vegan version of “green eggs and ham” (pictured below)! I think our green eggs are especially special because they are made green with spinach instead of food coloring 🙂

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Make a tofu omelet & crack a book instead of an egg!

What makes this batter taste “eggy” is the black salt (a.k.a “kala namuk”) which you can order online, or find at a health food or specialty store. (FYI black salt has a sand-like texture and is dirty-pinkish in color. It isn’t actually black.) You could always leave it out as well, but it is the sulfur in the black salt that really gives it that eggy flavor.

So… in preparation for Dr. Seuss birthday, we made something to wear for our Dr. Seuss breakfast tomorrow… just some fun cutting & pasting, which the kids always LOVE!! Drum-roll please… announcing… Cat in the Hat HATS and Thing 1 & Thing 2 Popsicle Stick Toys!! The best thing about these 2 projects is that I already had everything in our art box to make them! 🙂

To make a Cat in the Hat hat: (2)

  • 1 sheet red construction paper, cut into 1″ red strips, lengthwise
  • 3-4 sheets white cardstock (this will make the hat, the bottom part of the hat, and the headband straps
  • glue stick

First cut one hat shape out of each piece of white cardstock. Then use another piece of white cardstock for the 2 bottom parts of the hat.  Then you will need several long strips of white cardstock that you will use to tape together for the headband part (last). Cut a bunch (like 10) of red construction paper stripes.

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Your basic hat making supplies… here is everything all cut out and ready to go! (note: we did end up cutting the bottom hat piece skinnier).

Now, the fun part! Let your kids glue the red stripes onto the hat! We used a glue stick to keep it from getting bumpy from using too much glue. Make sure the kids cover the strips completely and then smooth them down well. After all the stripes are glued on, trim the excess of the edges.

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My kids LOVE cutting and pasting!!

Next, I glued the bottom part of their hats on and set them under something heavy to flatten them while they dried.

Once dry, staple 1 headband strap to each side of the bottom of the hat with 2-3 staples and fold edge slightly (I stapled vertically)… and I ran out of staples, which is why my kids arent pictured together!

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Here you can see how i folded and stapled the straps to each side, and taped the middle after “the fitting”.

Fit your hat around your child’s head and tape the straps together where they meet!  Voila! Your kids look just like the Cat in the Hat (but without all the hair!). You could even paint their faces like cats, if you so desire! I know my little cat lovin’ girl would be all about that!

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There’s a spunky new cat in town, Dr. Seuss!!

To make a Thing 1 & Thing 2:

  • 2 big fat popsicle sticks, any color will do
  • blue yarn (cut into 2″ pieces) or some blue fuzzy hair
  • some little googly-eyes
  • two small white cardstock circles to label “Thing 1” & “Thing 2”
  • craft glue
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If you have this stuff, you can make a Thing!

First glue the yarn-hair on. I did this part myself because it was a little tricky and sticky. First generously apply glue (real glue, not a glue stick) to about 1″ of the end of the popsicle stick. Lay hair across it horizontally and then generously add more glue and lay more hair vertically. Tap it gently to push it down (be careful! It gets sticky fast and then it tries to glue the yarn to your finger!). Set aside until completely dry (several hours).

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First glue yarn sideways and wait several minutes

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Now carefully glue some yarn in the other direction. Let dry for several hours!

Next, decide where you want to glue on the googly eyes and the circular name-tags. You can add a mouth, eyebrows, etc. if you want to give it an expression! Voila! Your very own Thing 1 & Thing 2 to play with… guaranteed to be less trouble than the real ones!!

(The “Things” pictured below are still drying… which is why we havent drawn on faces yet. I just placed the eyes and nametags on in different ways so you can see different ways of designing your Things!)

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At first I thought the glued part of hair would be the back… but maybe not! The first one looks more like a  “wild thing” Thing! I like him!

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You could even position their name-tags up top of the yarn. You decide how you’d like your Thing to look!

I hope you liked our crafts today, it was too cold to go out and play!  So go buy your tofu & your kala namuk… cook up a green breakfast and then go read a book! Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!!

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This little trickster cat looks ready to get into SOME kind of trouble!

P.S. I tagged this in the “Dinner and a Movie” category since there are several Dr. Seuss movies you could use this food/craft with (including the Cat and the Hat cartoon and/or the Mike Myers version)!! 🙂

Apple Rosemary Scones

Since we have a seriously enormous rosemary bush growing in our front yard, I am always wondering what I can make that includes this delicious aromatic herb. Our rosemary bush is so large, in fact,  that it is now blooming in age with beautiful purple flowers. We use rosemary regularly in pastas, sauces & in general cooking… sometimes we even place a bunch of stalks of rosemary in a jar of water to freshen up the room, but… in a scone?  I admit I was a bit hesitant to try this combination (which you can guess means made my kids extremely hesitant to try it!), but, how will you know if something is for you or not unless you give it a try, right?!  Once again, an important lesson I try to teach my kids daily comes out through baking! (One more reason to love the kitchen!)

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Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh rosemary?!

Warning: The wonderful aroma of these scones will fill up your house and make your tummy growl! These scones are perfect for spring or fall. They are light & crispy on the outside, & soft on the inside. I think they are best served warm. Add butter if you like.  If your kids are anything like mine, they love to help in the kitchen  – so send them out to help pick the rosemary… or perhaps even the apples, if you are so lucky!!

Tip: If you make big scones, you can heat them up the next day in your toaster oven, carefully cut the scone in half horizontally and add a soysage patty to make a mini biscuit-sandwich! Can you say “Wow?!” Oh sorry!… I didn’t realize your mouth was full! Mmmmmmmmmm………….. Delicious!

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Apple Rosemary Scones

  • 1  1/4 cups non-dairy milk
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed gently
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (I use Spectrum)
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1  1/2 cups diced sweet red apples (about 3 small apples)
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 Tbsp dried & crushed)
  • a little sugar for sprinkling (raw sugar or brown sugar)

1) Preheat oven to 375. Mix the milk and vinegar in a large measuring cup. Set aside.

2) Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Add the shortening in clumps, mixing in well with a pastry cutter, a fork or your hands. Break it up until it is in little pea like crumbles. Add the rosemary and apples.

3) Mix the oil and vanilla into the milk/vinegar mixture. Create a well in the center of the dry mixture and pour the liquid into the center. Mix until it is all just moistened, flipping and folding the batter this way and that, trying not to overmix.  A few dry-looking spots are okay.

4) Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop & drop the scones onto a parchment covered baking sheet.  You should get 12-16 scones, depending on the size you scoop them. Sprinkle the tops with some sugar, then bake 18-22 minutes until the tops & sides are lightly browned. Transfer to cooling rack to cool and enjoy warm! Devour!

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Apples + Rosemary = Heaven (who knew?!)

Christmas Gingerbread Cookies… & Chewbacca too.

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So this is Christmas… and what have you done? Another year over, a new one just begun…

I really can’t believe another year has come and gone.  Every year, each of us have personal resolutions, goals to achieve, things we want to cross off our to-do lists or our bucket lists… but what have we really achieved as a whole? Are we kinder people? Are we living the lives we were meant to?  Are we believing in and helping each other? These are among the questions I am personally asking myself on the eve of a new year. I don’t mean to give myself a hard time, but I can’t help but feel there is always more that can be done.  There is always more a heart can grow (remember that the Grinch’s heart grew 2 sizes just in one day alone!), more a soul can aspire to, and there is always more help that can be given!

I hope to do more volunteering and things to benefit others this year. I really respect my mom for doing Habitat for Humanity every Saturday. I can tell how very fulfilling it is to her. She just returned from a trip to Haiti where she helped build several houses. (I’m so proud of you, mama!)

One of my goals this year will be to blog more often, since I believe that eating vegan & sharing these recipes is definitely as step towards living a kinder life in general. I also want to play more music (namely the ukulele, guitar and the piano) and letting my emotions out through art.  I used to achieve those two goals rather easily before I had children, but now, my kids take up a lot of my free time. (Even though “more sleep” should be on my list for the upcoming year, I may end achieving more of my resolutions by going to bed later & getting up earlier! I have been meaning to see more sunrises…) What are some of your dreams for the next year?

Anyway, enough jibber jabber. I think I know what you are really here for… (oh- one more thing- sorry about the annoying blue-highlighted drop down ads. They are NOT there by my choice!)

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No kid can turn down a Wookie-cookie!!  Just try!!

“Traditional” Gingerbread Cookies

These “traditional” gingerbread cookies are easy and yummy. And since they contain molasses, they are high in iron – which makes them the perfect cookie for little vegans! I put “traditional” in quotations because I’m not sure how “traditional” Chewbacca gingerbread cookies are! This is our first time making them, but they will surely be a X-mas tradition in our house from now on! (We got Star Wars cookie cutters & pancake molds from Williams-Sonoma as an early Christmas gift.) This dough cuts best when cold, so roll it out in sections and keep the rest refrigerated until your ready to use it!

  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup soy milk
  • 2  1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • for icing: 1 cup powdered sugar + 2 tsp soy milk

1) In a large bowl, stir together the oil, sugars, molasses and soy milk.

2) Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and mix until well combined.

3) Collect the dough into a ball, or 2-3 flattened discs, and wrap in parchment or plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

4) Preheat the oven to 350. Roll out the dough. Make it thin for crispy cookies or make it thicker for chewier softer cookies.

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Here are our Chewbacca cookies, before baking.

5) Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 9 minutes (for soft and chewy) to 12 minutes (for thin & crispy).  Transfer to wire rack and cool. Ice the cookies when cooled.

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To make icing: mix the powdered sugar and soy milk in a plastic baggie by massaging it around until it is thick like toothpaste consistency. Then cut off a tiny tip of one of the corners and ice those cookies! Then sit them aside until they the icing hardens.

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There is (what I’m sure is) another great gingerbread cookie recipe here. Also, these sugar cookies are easy and great for any occasion. We will be making them in a day or two. I am also hoping to get around to making some of these cookie jars & these coffee fudge brownie jars as gifts! Mmmmm!!

With all the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping and things to do, it’s easy to forget that Christmas is the season of giving… so be sure to spread love, kindness, & peace on earth everywhere you go. Make it your mission to remind others who may have forgotten… It IS a wonderful life!!

Fruit Crisp

Summertime… and the livin’ is easy.. at least that is what they say, right?! Well, having a garden or yard that’s producing fresh vegetables & fruit sure make living seem easier!  There is nothing quite like being able to go out to the garden and get some fresh vegetables when they are needed!

Something that always makes me think of summer is fruit.  Fresh fruit… grilled fruit… fruit cobblers… apple, peach, blueberry, strawberry-rhubarb pies… mmmm I just love anything to do with fruit! There is absolutely nothing like being able to pick fresh fruit right off the tree or bush and eat it.  We currently have 2 peach trees, a fig tree and 3 blueberry bushes.  We had a small pear tree last year but it got some weird disease and we had to pull it up.

If you are a mommy, this recipe is one that the kids will definitely have fun helping with. They can pour in the fruit and help crumble the topping over the top, which practically makes it for you!

This is such an easy and delicious recipe it is one that everyone should have on-hand because anyone can make it, and like I said, it’s easy and delicious!  I decided to try using spelt flour this time (usually I use unbleached flour) and it turned out beautifully!   It’s good to know this quick dessert is tasty using spelt flour for those times when you need to whip up something quick for an unexpected gluten-free guest**(see note).  As long as you have some frozen fruit in the freezer (which we always do, since we are big smoothie makers over here) you should be able to throw this in the oven by the time it preheats.

** NOTE: Spelt flour is practically wheat free, which makes it a good substitute for people with a low intolerance for wheat, though some people with serious wheat allergies, such as those with celiac disease, are also allergic to spelt. In that case, you should try replacing the flour with a 100% gluten-free baking mix (most grocery stores carry a blend for general flour replacing). Please check if you are making these for someone who is gluten-free.

~Fruit Crisp~

  • 3/4 cup flour (unbleached all-purpose or spelt flour, both work well)
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • about 4 cups frozen fruit (fresh fruit should also work fine)
  • 1 stick vegan butter (I like EarthBalance soy margarine)

If using fresh fruit, wash and cut any fruit you like and sprinkle it with lemon juice.  Frozen fruit works great (no need for lemon juice) and that is usually what I use. Some good combinations I like are peach/blueberry or apple/pear.

1) Preheat oven to 375 F.

2) Combine the flour, sugar and salt.  Using a knife, cut 1 stick ( = 1/2 cup) of cold soy margarine into bits and add it to the flour mixture, crumbling with fingers or fork until thoroughly mixed.

3) Pour the fruit into a square 8×8″ baking dish and sprinkle the topping over the top.  Bake for about an hour, when crisp will be bubbling hot and golden.  Let cool about 5-1o minutes. Enjoy hot or cold! (Try this with ice cream for a real treat!)

We grew these peaches in our backyard!

Crumble the topping on over the fruit…

After baking, let it cool at least 5 minutes!

Enjoy hot or cold!

Vegan Strawberry Shortcake 1 (biscuit style)

If there is anything I remember seeing at the Farmers Market lately, it’s berries – especially strawberries.  Go grab yourself some strawberries or blueberries this weekend and surprise your loved ones with this amazingly simple shortcake. This recipe can be used with either strawberries or blueberries… or even peaches, though I’ve never tried those… yet!  I would recommend making the vegan whipped cream ahead of time to get it nice and cold in the fridge.  It will last up to 5 days!… If it lasts that long!

Vegan Strawberry Shortcake

To make the biscuits:

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or use 1 cup whole wheat pastry + 1 cup unbleached flour)
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder (non aluminum kind, like Rumford)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup water (using warm water makes it mix easier)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, combine the coconut oil, water and extracts.  Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just mixed but no floury pockets.

Carefully pat the dough out about 1/2″ thick onto some parchment paper.  (I almost just used my 1/4 cup to scoop the biscuits out because the dough is very delicate, but if you have some parchment paper, you should be able to pat it out very gently and use a biscuit cutter okay.  I got 8 biscuits but could have gotten 9 if I had made them a teency bit smaller.)

Bake 12-14 minutes on a parchment lined baking sheet until golden and allow to cool.

Shortcake biscuits, waiting to be cut and served!

Make the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup of chopped berries
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Place maple syrup, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup of the berries in a saucepan.  Simmer on low, stirring, until the mixture thickens, crushing some berries during the process.  Set aside to cool slightly.

To serve:

Cut a biscuit in half, top the bottom piece with whipped cream, then sauce and then garnish with fresh berries.  Top with remaining biscuit (opt). DEVOUR!  (If your little one likes to help in the kitchen, stacking these sweet treats together can be quite a sweet treat for them!)

This biscuit was made with tofu whipped cream

Oh yeah… one more thing – I ran across this great little article on vegan baking tips from Vegan Pastry Chef Fran Costigan.  It’s a quick, print-worthy/stick it in your cookbook – kind of read! Check it out!

Peanut Butter Pancakes

People are often prone to thinking that vegans have a hard time getting their protein, when in fact, I don’t seem to find this the issue at all.  It is easy to eat plenty of protein (and iron as well) on a vegan diet. Tofu is a great source of protein, as are nuts, seeds, peanut butter, beans, soymilk, and LOTS more… There is a list of vegan protein examples (and lots more about vegan nutrition) here  if you want to check it out.

Basically to ensure you and your kids get all your needed nutrients, just eat a wide variety of foods… sneak nuts, fruits, nutritional yeast & ground flax on as toppings… & have everyone (including yourself) try new foods for fun! This is one thing being a mom has quickly taught me – kids learn best by watching your example!  If the kids are always seeing mom give new foods a try and eating her veggies with gusto, they will want to follow (most of the time)! And if you are still not confident on meeting your nutritional requirements, have everyone take a multi-vitamin to cover all the bases! My favorite vegan kids multi-vitamins are made by Gummi King and Nature’s Plus Animal Parade.

This easy pancake recipe is a great source of protein and is also fast & delicious… Using soymilk, peanut butter, chopped nuts, ground flax & fresh bananas, no kid can turn down this yummy breakfast and no mother can deny the nutritional goodness!  My kids really liked these!

Oh, one more thing, please do these pancakes justice and use real peanut butter – when I say real, I mean natural.  Don’t use Jif or Peter Pan or super processed peanut butter that is full of oil and sugar.  Look for a peanut butter where the ingredients look closest to this : peanuts, salt.  (P.S. I feel the same way about maple syrup – you GOTTA use pure maple syrup!)

Vegan Peanut Butter Pancakes

  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 “egg” (I like to use 2 Tbsp ground flax + 3 Tbsp water, whisked)
  • 1 1/4 cup soymilk
  • < 1/4 cup water (add if needed to thin batter a little)
  • topping: sliced bananas, chopped peanuts or walnuts

In large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  In a separate small bowl, whisk the flax egg together, then add the peanut butter, oil, soymilk, and a bit of water if necessary.  Mix wet into dry by whisking until no clumps remain.  Pour batter by using a 1/4 cup measure onto a hot skillet.  Flip when bubbly.  Top with bananas, nuts and pure maple syrup.  Devour.

(One more thing – If you want to be bad – make that very bad – try adding one more thing –  chocolate chips – and you will turn this nutritional breakfast practically into a dessert! Anyone for a Vegan Reeses-Pieces Pancake?!)

Soysage Casserole

This is a great breakfast or dinner casserole.  I could literally eat this for every meal – and so could my kiddos 🙂  It can also be made ahead of time, which is great if you are a busy body.  I included this in the “child’s play” category because it’s easy to assemble, but mainly because the kids love helping tear up the bread (though obviously they can’t help cook the “soysage”!).

For this recipe, I prefer using Lightlife Gimme Lean “sausage”, though any other kind of vegan sausage would surely work (though I have never used another kind).  Some people don’t care for all these “fake meat” products, but for the most part, I find them tasty and a quick healthy source protein.  Having been vegan for 10+ years now, I have tried almost every brand of fake meat, cheese & other non-dairy products out there and I’m always open to trying anything new that I see. Some faux-foods have been not-so-great, but I definitely also have ones that I truly enjoy & find delicious!  If you ever want to know my opinion on a product, don’t be afraid to ask! (P.S. I do not get paid by any company whose products I show… If I am endorsing it, it’s because I truly think its great to use in my recipes.)

That being said… onto the bread!  I find that the heartier/granier the bread the better the casserole.  I would not recommend using a really soft bread, as I have found through experience.  I really like using Masada 6-Grain bread. I cannot stress this enough-  a thick, hearty (or grainy) bread makes the best casserole!

This recipe has been adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegan Planet, though I have made several changes to the original recipe.

~Soysage Casserole~

  • roughly 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cups crumbled soy sausage (I like to use two tubes of Lightlife Gimme Lean Soy Sausage, prepared as directed below)
  • 2 blocks soft or firm tofu, drained and then crumbled
  • 2 cups soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp ground or whole fennel seeds (if using whole, chop them up into little bits – this is usually what I do)
  • salt and pepper
  • 8-10 slices of bread

1)  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the soysage* and cook, stirring until browned. This will take several minutes.  Once browned, remove from heat & set aside.

*If you are using Gimme Lean Soy Sausage, do this by tearing it into little bits (roughly 1/2″ – 3/4″ pieces) and throwing them right into the skillet.  It’s a little sticky and mushy… just keep ripping it into small pieces (you can chop them up further with a spatula if necessary while you’re stirring them around with the onion) then continue following recipe above, cooking until lightly browned.

2) In a large bowl, combine the crumbled tofu, milk, thyme, fennel, and a little salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well, then mix in the sausage mixture and set aside.

3)  Tear the bread into bite-sized pieces and place in a lightly oiled shallow 9 x 13″ baking dish.  Pour the sausage mixture evenly over the bread and set aside several minutes until the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes or overnight. If it looks a bit dry anywhere, it doesn’t hurt to add a splash of soymilk where needed.  (If you do refrigerate until morning, let it come to room temp before baking.)

4)  Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake until the casserole looks puffy and lightly browned, about 45 minutes.  Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.  Let cool slightly. Devour!

Mmmmm! I could eat this for every meal!