Meatless Monday – July 4th Ice Cream

Tween had cake for breakfast. To be fair, it was packaged and presented as a “muffin,” but I say we should call a chocolate-chocolate chip “muffin” with cream cheese filling by its true name: cake.

Whatever. He’s 12 and it’s a holiday.

Full disclosure, I had ice cream for breakfast.

Actually, I had coffee before my morning run, and couldn’t make my usual post-run green smoothie because my blender was full of ice cream base. I’d hoped to complete the ice cream making process last night, but got a late start and the ice cream maker hadn’t fully frozen. So I stuck the blender of base + the prepared swirl in the fridge overnight.

Which meant I had to get things going post-run, and so of course I had to dip a spoon. The recipe suggests the churning time will be 45 minutes, but mine went much faster, less than 25 minutes. So there was more spooning and stirring and churning to get the swirl mixed in. And then there was the transferring of ice cream to container, and it didn’t all fit, so…

Enough excuses already. It was delicious!

I used Minimalist Baker’s recipe for Raspberry Ripple Coconut Ice Cream and couldn’t be happier. Although I’d call it Coconut-Berry Ice Cream. It reminds me of one of my childhood happy food traditions, frozen yogurt for lunch after Sunday church. If it was available, I always got coconut, and then swirled it up side-by-side with either a fruit or chocolate flavor–YUM!ice cream

Some thoughts on the recipe: I used a can of Trader Joe’s coconut cream which I chilled in the fridge prior to opening. I also used less than 1/4 c natural sugar and less than 1/4 c maple syrup for sweeteners–I figured the fruit would add its own sweetness so I didn’t want to overdo it. And I used the coconut oil since I’m all about the coconut.

The base is delicious on its own and I think you could vary your swirls to include chocolate, chocolate-mint, nuts, you name it. I used just under a cup of mixed berries, frozen and defrosted, + topped off the 1c mark with unsweetened coconut flakes. Some people like their ice cream smooth, but I like mine with chunks (same goes for nut butters).

When Guy and I were first married, we’d make ice cream for each warm warm weather holiday. Eventually our ice cream maker broke and we fell out of the habit. The more I’ve leaned into a plant-based lifestyle, the less I have wanted ice cream (tastes change, and these days I find myself more inclined to a savory snack); and when I have wanted it, it has been less available. Thankfully, ice cream manufacturers are catching on that there is, in fact, a market for vegan ice cream, and yet it’s expensive. One more great thing about this recipe is that I already had all the ingredients on hand.

I’m thrilled to have an easy-to-make warm weather holiday treat as we celebrate the gift of living in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Happy 4th of July!fireworks

 

Happy Leap Day!

For most of us, today probably feels like an ordinary Monday. I’m doing my normal Monday routine – working from home, an extra load of laundry spinning as I type. But this Monday is a once-every-four-years event and for some reason this year I feel a particular urge to celebrate.

Probably because Leap Day only arrives every four years, it doesn’t have as many time-honored traditions, no special foods or colors or parties. At one time, culture encouraged women to turn the tables on gender roles and propose to their man on Leap Day, but times have changed and now women can take the relational lead any day of the year. As the New York Times declared on February 28, 1976, “In these liberated times, every day is Leap Day.”

When Teen was in kindergarten, he asked for Froggy Cupcakes to share with his class for his December birthday. If I still had littles, I might feel motivated to make dessert. Maybe we’d even play Leap Frog. But as I have adolescents, probably not on both counts.frog cupcakes

Instead, we’re trying something else. Like New Year’s but better, Leap Day give us an opportunity to consider: Who am I becoming? Who do I want to be in four years? More than What do I want to be doing?, be(coming) is the operative verb. Tonight after dinner I’ll pass out blank cards and envelopes and each of us will write a letter to our 2020 self.

Yes, this trick has been done so many times before. But in less than four years, Teen will be in college and Tween in high school. As a family we are in a highly transitional lifestage and it seems timely to think about who we want to be and how best to achieve those goals. Not this or that college, or straight A’s, or even Man of the Match, although some of that will surely happen along the way. Instead, thinking ahead to what we will be doing in four years, who do I want to be as I engage in those activities? Kind, brave, creative, thoughtful, a good friend… And what can I do to become those attributes, starting now?

The real trick for this disorganized mama will be: where will I put the letters so I can easily find them again in four years? Hmm…maybe one of my becoming goals should have to do with organization?

How about you? How will you celebrate the gift of an extra 24 hours, and more importantly, how will that contribute to who you are becoming?

Meatless Monday – Cauliflower Soup

A year ago I wrote this post about lining up my expectations with my Quirky Christmas reality. Always a struggle, during this month between Thanksgiving and Christmas the house has been clean for about three-quarters of one day; the cards still haven’t been mailed; worse yet, the packages will cost us a mint to ship overnight; and the tree was up and lit for three weeks (as opposed to last year’s one week) before the kids had time together to decorate it.

You know what? Oh well! I’m not Pinterest Perfect, and that’s alright with me. The house is festive, the kids clean and fed, and we’re focusing on joy. Today, in fact, was downright close to perfect: I got up before the guys and reveled in morning quiet with coffee and a book. I met up with friends and kids for more coffee and belly laughs. Guy took the day off work and, because it’s raining and we’d originally planned a hike or a walk on the beach, we went to an indoor archery range and discovered a super-fun new family activity we can all enjoy; we ate a late lunch out; and now we’re cozy at home. And a cup of tea and another good book await me at bedtime.

There is beauty in brokenness

There is beauty in brokenness

Yes, it’s Christmas week and I have yet to plan the holiday menu and shop and slowly begin to prep ingredients over the next few days. But some days you just want something simple, quick, and healthy. A sweet friend who is way closer to Martha Stewart-dom (or her French counterpart, whoever that may be), introduced me to this recipe years ago when I thought cauliflower could only be endured in small florets doused in Ranch dressing presented on a party veggie tray. That is, in fact, how I introduced my kids to it. Later I took Tween to a farmer’s market where he discovered purple and peachy-orange cauliflower; of course we bought them and he ate them, still raw but relishing every bite. Since then we’ve added it to mixed roasted veggies and stir fry but most often in this soup, which looks like caramel and tastes like comfort.ingredientscauliflower soup

Cauliflower Soup
Serves 4-6

½ white or yellow onion, diced
1 large potato, diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 head cauliflower, chopped
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
Salt/pepper to taste
4 c veggie broth

Sautee onion, potato and garlic in a large soup pot, stirring occasionally. Chop cauliflower. When potatoes start to soften, add cauliflower, rosemary, salt/pepper, and broth. Cook over medium-high heat 15-20 minutes or until veggies are very soft. Use an immersion blender (or transfer soup to a blender) to blend completely. Homemade rustic bread croutons are a nice addition.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy Day! Put on your hats. Work together to solve the clues. Split the pot o' gold. Luck o' the Blarney Stone be with you!

“Happy Day! Put on your hats. Work together to solve the clues. Split the pot o’ gold. Luck of the Blarney Stone to you!”

The leprechauns stopped by to lead the boys on their annual treasure hunt. Our leprechauns don’t come in the wee hours, and we have never tried to trap them. Their only mischief is to create silly clues that have the kids running from side-to-side of the house, laughing all the way.

We started this tradition when Teen was in 1st grade and Tween a toddler. Teen’s school had a book fair, and we decided we could justify buying more books if they were gifts for an occasion. The next holiday on the calendar was St. Patrick’s Day, which worked for us, especially as both of our kids have Irish names. We bought a few books for each boy, wrapped them in different paper, created a series of pictographs, and send the kids on a hunt working together.

The tradition stuck, but over the years the gifts have changed. One year Teen got a crepe pan and Tween got music for his iPod. This year they both got new boxers. They always get chocolate coins, because of course!

See if you can solve the clues: Cat Tree Harry Potter Roomba

See if you can solve the clues:
Cat Tree (an easy one)
Harry Potter (kids checked all the potted plants, especially the hairy ones)
Roomba (kids thought this was Tree House)

Practical items can make funny gifts but need a little sweetness.

Practical items can make funny gifts but require a little sweetness alongside.

The treasure hunt ended with a veggie shepherd’s pie, with Irish soda bread for dessert.

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/4 c white whole wheat flour
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c+ organic sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
3 Tbsp vegan butter (Earth Balance)
1 c non-dairy milk + 1 Tbsp lemon juice – combine and set aside
2/3 c raisins, craisins, or dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375. Spray 8-inch diameter cake pan. Whisk flour, 1/4 c sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips (or tines of a fork) combine until coarse meal forms. Make well in center of flour mixture and add milk/lemon juice. Gradually stir to combine (batter will be thick). Mix in final ingredient of choice.

Transfer dough to prepared pan and flatten slightly (I use fork tines and it makes an interesting pattern – Tween says, “Like birds’ feet!”). If desired, sprinkle dough lightly with additional sugar (I find about 1 tsp sufficiently covers the dough).

Bake until lightly browned, about 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, and preferably with a spread of vegan butter or jam.

This recipe comes together so quickly that I made two loaves, one with chocolate chips and the other with craisins. I sprinkled the craisin loaf with sugar and left the chocolate loaf plain. Both turned out delicious.

An Old Irish Blessing
May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!