It's a tradition in my family that the day after Thanksgiving is 'Candy Making Day'. As far back as I can remember we did this. Both of my parents came from large families so there were lots of cousins, aunts, and uncles.  Most lived close together so the day of candy making was usually well attended. We were even featured in the Toledo Blade one year, when I sent a letter to the food editor telling her about our fun tradition of making candy all day on the Friday following Thanksgiving day.

We usually ended up with over 100 pounds of candy, each family taking home samples of each kind made. They included almond roca, buckeyes, peanut sticks, peanut brittle, white chocolate crunch delight, over 6 flavors of hard candy each a different color, caramels, church windows, peanut butter and chocolate fudge, and some I may be forgetting! For the kids, it was usually just a day for playing together, but as we got a little older we would be delegated to wrapping caramels in wax paper or rolling hard candy in powdered sugar to prevent sticking. 

For my family, most of this candy was given away as gifts at Christmas in special candy boxes or fruit baskets. Another tradition in our family would be to go out Christmas caroling the week of Christmas. We would put together beautiful gift basket with fruit and candies to give to those we sang to.  It was so much fun!

Today as we made candy, we had fun remembering those times. Traditions are such an important family activity, and we really are never too old to establish new traditions! These are some of the special times that bond our families together for life. I hope you enjoy some of the pictures of our Thanksgiving day and Candy making day.

The candies we made today were- white chocolate crunch delight, peanut brittle, chocolate covered peanut sticks, almond roca,and buckeyes and one of our favorites-ritz crackers sandwiched with marshmallow creme and peanut butter then covered in chocolate. I made a large batch of cut out cookies earlier in the week and the granddaughters all worked together and decorated the cookies. We were all able to take home a nice variety of all we made. I'll most likely make more as the days and weeks go by but this day spent with family is always a great start to our holiday baking!



Today was a WIN WIN!! I tried two new recipes and they are both keepers! My good friend Jim Schoch posted a picture on his facebook page, of a loaf of bread he had made. It looked amazing so I  asked for the recipe. It's one of those 'no-knead' breads. I've never tried them, but have checked out the recipes numerous times. After seeing the end result he posted, I decided I had to give it a try. It's very easy, and the bread tastes so amazing.  Ciabatta is known for all it's litle holes...which hold melted butter so well!!

In the fall, we use a large cast iron pot to cook soup over an open fire. I don't use the pot for anythinng else, because quite frankly, it's like lifting a tank! It's very heavy. I knew that it would be perfect not only in size, but it heats well and would make a nice free form loaf.  I sprayed the pot with oil, then dusted heavily with corn meal.  You can use flour if you would rather, but we like the added crunch of the corn meal.  The bread has just four ingredients!! You can speed along the process of rising by adding a couple of tablespoons of sugar or honey. I used agave nectar-just use your choice of sweetener to give the yeast an added kick if you so choose.

2 c. warm water
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dry yeast
4 c. flour
(opt. 2 Tbsp. honey)
Mix ingredients to incorporate flour into liquid. The dough with be very wet.
I let my kitchen aide mixer do the work! But it would be easy to mix by hand.
Cover the bowl, and allow to sit for 8-12 hours. By adding sugar, you can shorten that
waiting time.  Mine sat for about 7 hours, and had doubled in bulk.
Prepare a baking stone, sheet pan, or large kettle (I used cast iron) by spraying
with oil and dusting with flour or cornmeal. I believe you could use a cast iron skillet
(I'm going to try that next time!)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  DUMP bread batter into pan and bake for  25-35 minutes,
until nicely browned. The original recipe said 25 minutes, but mine took 35.
This bread has a wonderful yeasty smell due to the hours of sitting time!
I had planned to try a new recipe called Mushroom Stroganoff from a vegetarian cookbook and knew this bread would be a great compliment. Beef stroganoff used to be one of our favorite meals and I hadn't come up with a good alternative since changing to our vegan/vegetarian lifestyle.  When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to give it a try right away! It ... was  ... AMAZING! Richard actually said "did you put sour cream in this??", knowing that we don't eat dairy normally. It really tastes like sour cream, I was very surprised!! 
Not only is this recipe low in cholesterol, it's also high in protein. I'll be making this again. It's a great dish for either a pot luck or if you are having guests. It  makes a lot which is nice if you have a crowd. 
Cook noodles al dente and drain. Set aside. I used No Yolks noodles to cut down the cholesterol.
I think the recipe would be suited to rice or quinoa as well.
Did you know you can saute in a small amount of broth to eliminate fat?
Your choice-saute in olive oil or broth:
1 large shallot, diced
Then add:
16 oz. white button mushrooms, sliced
4-6 oz. shitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced thin
4-6 oz. baby bella or cremini mushrooms sliced thin
Add 1/2 c. white wine or broth, cover pan, and simmer 10 minutes.
Drain liquid from 1 package Silken Tofu, and process in food processor
until smooth. I added 1 1/2 tsp. dry thyme at this point-but you can eliminate if you want.
Combine tofu and mushrooms, S & P to taste, and the juice of half a lemon.
Pour over noodles to serve!
Easy Peasy and so delicious!
Served with a salad and bread it's a delicious, and  easy meal!
This dish could easily serve 6, possibly 8.
Another meatless, healthy meal!



We were done eating and I was about to snap a picture of our casserole and my sweet husband had already dished the leftovers in a container for his lunch tomorrow along with a couple extra containers for the next couple of days! So, no picture this time. I'm really bummed, too, because it looked great!

As you know we are eating as many vegan meals as possible. This dish would be very easy to make strictly vegan. I used a small amount of butter, however, but it was still vegetarian.  Since we are being strict with our fats, macaroni and cheese is certainly a dish that is not on our menu!  I ran across this recipe on Pinterest, of course, and this is the second time we've had it.  Tonight was the first time our picky eater Cole tried it. I talked it up, calling it a 'Mac n Cheese' dish.  It looked enough like baked mac n cheese that he didn't question it. I like ketchup on mine (so sue me) so I suggested he try that because I knew it would give it even more of an authentic taste.  He loved it and went back for seconds THEN thirds!!  I kept asking him if he wanted to know what was in the dish and he insisted that I do not tell him. That drove me nuts and we all got a laugh out of the fact that I wanted to tell him so badly!
So, are you curious now to know what the secret recipe/ingredient is?  Butternut squash.  I don't know if squash has ever even crossed Cole's lips! LOL! He hates squash. Well, until tonight!! He still doesn't know what was in the dish! The actual recipe name is ROASTED BUTTERNUT SAGE PASTA.

Here is the recipe if you would like to try it. If you are vegan or lactose intolerant you can easily replace the butter in the recipe with a small amount of vegetable broth. It will effect the taste a little, but certainly not enough to spoil the dish.

First, melt 1/4 c butter slowly until the foam disappears. Add 1 chopped onion and a stem of fresh sage leaves and saute for a few minutes  and 1 lb. of diced/cubed butternut squash and 1 1/2 c. water. Cook until the squash is cooked through. You can omit the butter and add some vegetable broth to saute the onion in. Once the squash is cooked well,remove the sage leaves and  puree in either a blender or use an immersion blender. The result will be a smooth puree. S & P to taste.

While the squash mixture is cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil and add a good amount of salt to the water before adding your pasta. I used farfalle or some other similar type of pasta. Use a pasta that has curls or edges to help hold the sauce. When it is cooked al dente, drain water reserving 1 cup of liquid. Add the pureed sauce to the pasta and add extra water if needed to make the mixture moist, not dry. At this point, you can serve it like it is, or place in a greased casserole and top with bread or cracker crumbs that are sprayed lightly with cooking spray.  Bake in 400 degree oven about 15 minutes, just long enough to brown the crumb topping. Serve (with ketchup!). It truly has a cheesy flavor! It looks like a deep cheddar cheese sauce.

It goes to prove that we eat with our eyes first! If it looks like mac n cheese, it's easier to convince a picky eater that there is cheese in the dish!



1 tsp. olive oil
2 c. savoy cabbage, chopped
(or regular cabbage very thinly sliced)
2 c. shredded carrots
2 c. bean sprouts(I used 1 can)
1 can water chestnuts, chopped
2 TBSP. green onions,sliced (I used shallots)
1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
2 TBSP. soy sauce
1 TBSP. corn starch
1/4 c. water
14 egg roll wraps
1 pkg. tofu angel hair pasta-MY addition
Sweet chili sauce or sweet and sour sauce
(for dipping)
 Step 1 - make the filling
 This is the package for tofu noodles. It's found in my grocery store in the organic section along with the other tofu products. This item is OPTIONAL.
 Step 2 - Place filling on egg roll wrap
 Step 3 - Bring up bottom of wrap first
 Step 4 - Bring sides over bottom sealing with a dab of water
 Step 5 - Roll up and seal top edge
 Step 6 - Place on cookie sheet/baking pan and spary with cooking spray
 Nicely browned after baking 15-20 minutes
Dip in sweet chili sauce and enJOY!
We really like asian inspired foods. Since converting to a vegetarian diet, we eat stir fry, rice dishes, and tofu dishes quite frequently. We all like egg rolls and until recently, I would fry them in a small amount of oil until nice and crispy brown. I try not to fry anything anymore, so when I saw this recipe I had to give it a try. The outcome was really great. I do think they were a little bit 'tougher' than a fried egg roll, but not so much that they were off-putting.
I baked them until they were nicely browned on all sides. This is going to be a repeat recipe. Recently when buying tofu, I saw a new product that I had to try. It's a tofu product that looks just like angel hair pasta. I used it once in a soup, which was very good, and had it on hand so I decided to add it to the egg rolls. By adding this, it gives the egg roll a protein which just makes it that much better for us! The tofu pasta has to be drained and 'dried' the same as when using a block of tofu. The noodles tend to stick together unless they are very dry.
Here are the directions for the recipe if you would like to give it a try:
Cook cabbage, sprouts, carrots, chestnuts and ginger in hot olive oil for 4-5 minutes, until veggies become limp but still slightly crisp.  Mix the corn starch and water together and add that along with the soy sauce to the pan along with the green onions. This is where I added my drained tofu noodles.  Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes to thicken the sauce.  Remove from the heat and let cool.
Place 2 TBSP. of mixture in the center of the egg roll wrap. Fold the bottom up over the filling and the sides in over the bottom like an envelope. I use a small dish with water to the side to dip my fingertip in before wrap edges meet to 'seal' the edges together. Roll up, seal top edge, and place on a cookie sheet for baking. I like to use my stonewear cooking sheet for even heating.  Spray the egg rolls with cooking spray, turn and spray other bottoms. 
Bake in  preheated 400 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or til nicely browned, then turn and cook an additional 5-7 minutes. You want them to brown, NOT burn.
Don't try to eat them hot of the oven... believe me it's not fun!  I could hardly wait to try them.  I used a sweet chili sauce to dip them in.  They....were....scrumptious!!!! The leftovers were even good warmed in the microwave the next day.  No, they aren't like fried egg rolls, but I can forgo the oil treatment and extra fat for a very good BAKED egg roll!  I'll be making this again!
Since we are trying to eat a strict vegetarian and NOT-so-strict vegan diet, finding those tofu noodles was very exciting. They are delicious in soups and other dishes and add a nice amount of protein and no cholesterol!


She's Back!

Wow- it's been one whole year since I've posted on the blog! I basically lost interest and moved on to other outlets. I had a friend recently encourage me to pick this back up, since we've been doing some VERY thoughtful eating. The past 6 months have been pretty interesting here on the home front - dietarally (is that even a word?) speaking.

I'm reminded of one of my favorite quotes:

 I love to sit quietly and enjoy each bite, aware of the presence of my community, aware of all the hard and loving work that has gone into my food. When I eat in this way, not only am I pysically nourished, I am also spiritually noursihed. ~
Thich Nhat Hanh

Six month ago we found out that Richard-the husband-had very high cholesterol.  His mom and brother also do, so it wasn't a complete surprise that he would, too.  Both his mom and brother experienced bad side effects from the medication, so the last thing we wanted was that!  His Dr. gave him 6 months to work on changing his numbers or he would need to go on the meds.  I spent a considerable amount of time on the internet searching out information about treating high cholesterol 'naturally' - you know - withOUT meds! 

There is a lot of information and studies that show that eating a vegan diet will lower your cholesterol.  I didn't jump on that bandwagon with the first report I read. I kept looking, and kept seeing more and more studies to support this! I mean, if you are considering a drastic change like that, you want to be pretty sure there is some valid reason to do it! While it is a drastic change, it wasn't too foreign to us.  For the first 7 years or so of our marriage we were vegetarians, and even after becoming meat eaters we didn't eat a lot of meat. Chicken was our main meat, with ground beef coming in second, used mostly as a seasoning and additive in dishes. We were not big beef eaters as many are in this part of the country.  We love our veggies and ate several meals a week meatless anyway, so we both felt it was something worth trying. Couldn't hurt!! 

Of course, there were the skeptics who didn't think it would work, and even my Dr. at one point sort of 'raised his eyebrows' at me.  I'm always surprised how quickly those in the medical field choose the 'drug route'. Wouldn't it be so much better if we were able to get the same results without putting all those chemicals in our bodies?

So, we began eating vegan in May of this year.  Richard has, for the most part, been very strict and I have from time to time eaten an egg or cheese.  I don't have the high cholesterol that he does, but certainly could lose some weight.  We didn't start this diet with the intention of losing weight, although his Dr. did tell him he could lose 20 pounds - which I just laughed at when he told me - because he's always been tall and slim. He usually puts some pounds on over the winter, but loses them in the spring, but he was carrying more weight than he had ever before. 

It was amazing, but as soon as we began to eat a vegan diet we both started to lose weight, even with no change in physical activity. When we first started Richard felt like he just couldn't eat enough, and the weight started to fall off, until he had lost 30 pounds! He would go to work on  Monday and weigh himeself and come home and report that the past week he had lost another 4 pounds...give or take! It was making me feel frustrated, until, I had a check up and discovered that I had lost weight too!  What a surprise, because I didn't feel hungry or deprived at all. We were enjoying this new way of eating. 

Well, I won't bother you with all the boring details, but at the end of our 6 months, when we both had a recheck , my choesterol had dropped 20 points, even though it wasn't high in the first place, and his had dropped 100 points!! Really?? 100 points?? His Dr. said he's only seen those results from a vegan diet one other time! He was very impressed and told him he was healthy and didn't need to come back for a year "I can't make money on people like you!" was his exact words!  My Dr. was interested to hear our results and said he would be talking to some of his patients about what we had done. He mentioned that his daugher is a vegan so he was well aware of eating that way. Both of our doctors spent a considerable amout of time asking us questions and taking notes about the way we were eating.

When I had my 3 month blood work done, my protein numbers were pretty low and my glucose levels had gone up a little so I've added nutritional yeast to our diet, and cut back some on carbs, adding instead, tofu at least once aweek. After a recheck 3 months later all things looked good.

So that is just a little background on why all of my food posts will be vegetarian or vegan.  It really is a whole different way of planning, eating, and thinking about food! It's challenging to come up with creative ideas, and it makes it pretty difficult to eat out. We hardly ever eat out anymore, which isn't a bad thing, but on occasion it's nice if we can find a place that has good vegan offerings!  We do eat fish (not vegan I know!) maybe two or three times a month.  Mostly we eat salads, beans, rice, legumes, and veggies, veggies, veggies!

I'll be sharing vegetarian dishes that we have found that are delicious and fit into this new lifestyle. Yes, it is a lifestyle for us. Why would we go back to eating the way we did before?  I'm continuing to lose weight. Total so far since starting I've lost just alittle over 45 pounds! I'm still losing, but I don't weight myself at home. It just keeps my  focus on eating healthy not getting hung up on numbers. It's a treat now to go to the Dr. for a blood pressure check every three month to find that I've lost more weight, and my blood pressure is great. I have a lot more weight to lose, but I'm doing my darndest to not think about that. It's too easy to be discouraged when youlook at the big picture. 

Do we feel better? That is the question we get asked all the time. Richard says he doesn't feel much different. I always say that I DO feel different.  We never feel stuffed after a meal. It's a lighter way of eating and it just feels better.  So I'll begin posting pictures, recipes, and stories about our new way of eating and you can give the recipes a try!  I think you'll be surprised just how satisfying and delicious they are and you may even decide to add a few 'meatless' days to your week!  I mean, really, can it hurt?

Just so you won't get bored with this blog, I'll also post other material besides foodie stuff! You know....interesting stories for instance, like today when I drove both TO and FROM work on a flat tire! Richard just shakes his head at me. I said "don't cars TELL you these days if they have a flat tire?"  When I got in the car to go to work right away the steering wheel had a strange vibrating feel. I called R to tell him what was going on and after about 1/2 mile from the house it stopped. He told me I probably should check for a flat and then when it stopped he said maybe it was just mud on the wheel that came off.  Well, I didn't realize he actually MEANT for me to check the tire...duh Teresa...yeah he DID! So on my way home, as soon as I started driving on the 65 mph 4 lane highway, it had a strange sort of 'swimmy' feeling to it. I had the 'thought' that maybe I actually DID have a flat, but then decided there was no way that could be true or it wouldn't steer. It did steer a little funny and I decided maybe the tire was just low and I drove conservatively the whole way home. After I got here I told Richard about it, he went out and looked and came back in and said "Yeah! you have a flat!"  OMG...I could NOT believe it!! He wasn't all that thrilled that I hadn't checked it....and I was VERY happy that I made it home ok!! Crazy huh?

I'll have to start taking pictures of our food again so you can see what we are eating. I hope to hear from you!