The Ascension House

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined." ~Henry David Thoreau

Grilled Tempeh & Veggie Fajitas w/ Homemade Cracked Black Pepper & Jalapeño Buttermilk Cheese

I’ve been slightly obsessed with simple homemade cheeses lately. It started with paneer, then ricotta, and now this easy buttermilk cheese. It’s hard to believe you can create amazing cheesy goodness with so few ingredients in such a short amount of time!

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This buttermilk cheese is made with 3 simple ingredients and sets up in less than 20 minutes! I added diced pickled jalapenos and cracked black pepper to this cheese, but you can omit those or come up with a variety all your own. (I bet it would be fantastic with sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil. Just sayin.) This cheese is also great plain, crumbled over a cracker and drizzled with some honey (as my sister and I ate Saturday! :) ). The best part of this cheese? It’s similar to Halloumi in that it grills beautifully. There’s nothing I love more than grilled cheese, of any variety!

Cracked Black Pepper and Jalapeño Buttermilk Cheese

You need:

  • 4 cups whole milk (hormone free, grass-fed, organic, raw – if possible)
  • 1.5 cups buttermilk (^again – if possible)
  • 2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
  • 2 tbs diced pickled jalapenos (optional)
  • 1/2 tbs cracked black pepper (optional)
  • candy thermometer (if possible, if not you can eyeball it)

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Add all ingredients to a large stock pot. Boil on medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Side Note: Milk does not boil like water. Instead of rolling bubbles, you will know the milk is boiling when it gets nice and frothy.) If you have a candy thermometer, check to ensure the mixture reaches 180 degrees F. Don’t worry if you do not have a thermometer, as you will be able to see the curds and whey. After about 8 to 10 minutes, check the curds with a spoon. Pour into a cheesecloth-lined colander or strainer over a large bowl (or directly into the sink). Add the jalapenos and cracked black pepper and mix well.

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Once the mixture is cool enough to touch, pull up each end of the cheesecloth. Twist and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. This is the whey. You can discard or save for other uses. (I’ve read people use this as a healthy addition to soups and sauces.) Once you squeeze out all the liquid you can manage, twist the cheesecloth and place cheese on the deepest plate you own. I like to layer all my other plates on top, but anything heavy will do. Let sit for at least 10 minutes and then allow to cool in the fridge. (If you’re in a hurry, you can even put the cheese in the fridge while it’s pressing, and it will be ready to use in 10 minutes flat!!)

cheesecollage2 Once cool, you can unwrap to see your beautiful cheese!!!! It’s great sliced, grilled, or crumbled on things. Which is why I made this spicy cheese to go with my grilled tempeh and veggie fajitas! :)

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Grilled Tempeh & Veggie Fajitas 

You Need:

  • 1 package tempeh (I used The Hearty Vegan’s Texas Tempeh - it’s locally made and my absolute favorite!)
  • BBQ Marinade (I used Stubb’s Green Chile Marinade – also locally made and delicious!)
  • Fajita Veggies (Sliced Red & Green Bell Peppers, White Onion, & Mexican Squash)
  • Tortillas (Homemade or Ezekial Sprouted Whole Grain Grain)
  • Cracked Black Pepper & Jalapeno Buttermilk Cheese
  • Salsa Verde (I used a Central Market variety)
  • Simple Guacamole (3 avocados, mashed + juice 1 lime + pinch salt)

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Marinate the tempeh and veggies 1 hour – overnight. The longer you allow the marinade to sink in, the better it will taste! Slice the tempeh into thin strips and marinate a bit longer while you grill your veggies. You can grill outside if the weather permits; I just used my new grill pan on the stove. (Did I mention my undying love for that thing yet?!) Grill veggies, tempeh, and cheese.

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Now, mash 3 avocados with the juice of 1 lime and a pinch of salt. (A pastry cutter works great for this!) Set aside. Now you can assemble your fajitas! Warm up the tortillas, then pile on veggies, tempeh, & cheese. Top with salsa and guacamole (and a bit more crumbled cheese). Devour!

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I hope you enjoy this recipe! Keep your eyes peeled as more cheese recipes (with even more recipes to utilize said cheese) are on their way! Until next time… :)

Namaste.

xo

*This post was shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday!

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Chemical-Free Cocktail: 2 Part Organic Whiskey Sour (With Homemade Lemon-Lime Simple Syrup)

We live in a world full of chemicals, additives, and highly processed faux food and drink. I prefer to avoid as many of these unnecessary, and most likely dangerous, ingredients as often as I can. I consider myself an advocate for ‘real food’ and believe one of the most radical acts a person in our society can do is to take control of their food supply and purchases.

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A lot of people think they are too busy for real food, thus relying on pre-made convenience products to fill the void. The problem with this is that processed foods contain hardly any nutrients and are high in sugars, fats, sodium, chemical additives, and GMOs. The popularity of processed and fast foods has resulted in a nation of severely obese and unhealthy residents. It’s a shame that corporations would rather compete for capital than care about their consumer’s health.

However, this is the world we currently live in, and all you can do is be as aware and proactive as possible. Become an avid label reader and try to source foods with the least amount of ingredients as possible. If you’re new to ‘real food,’ you might get overwhelmed at first. All your favorite foods now mock you with their 50+ ingredients lists and multiple forms of sugar. My advice is just to take it one day at a time, and do the best you can. It took me many years to fully remove processed foods from my diet, and I still use some organic pre-made condiments and such. (If you’re lucky enough to live in Texas, HEB has just released a new line of affordable organics! You can find jams, salad dressings, mustards, ketchup, and more with organic, real food ingredients! Thank you HEB!!)

Besides the grocery store, there’s another place many adults visit that is filled with processed sugars and unknown additives. A place you might have overlooked: The liquor store. While the liquor is usually safe (given you’re sticking with plain spirits and not artificially flavored concoctions..), the mixes and mix-ins often aren’t. In fact, it’s incredibly difficult to find pre-made drink mixes and so-called ‘simple’ syrups that don’t contain corn syrup, dyes, and/or chemicals.

That’s why I prefer to make my own. :)

2 Part Organic Whiskey Sour with Homemade Lemon-Lime Simple Syrup

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Okay, I know what you’re thinking… That looks like THREE parts to me. But you’re wrong. The cherries don’t count because they are a garnish. They are also dye, preservative, & HFCS free!

For the cocktail:

  • 1-2 Shots Quality Whiskey (I use a Texas made brand, naturally.)
  • Organic Lemon-Lime Simple Syrup (Homemade, recipe below)
  • Ice & Cherries for Serving

For the Lemon-Lime Simple Syrup:

  • 5 organic lemons (or 1/2 cup juice)
  • 5 organic limes (or 1/2 cup juice)
  • 1 cup organic white sugar
  • 1 cup pure, filtered water

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In a saucepan over medium heat, add sugar to water and whisk until dissolved. Add the citrus and bring to a light boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat and allow to cool before use. (Unless you’re impatient like me. In that case, be prepared to use lots of ice.)

To make your cocktail, simply fill a glass with ice (whatever size – I won’t judge.) Add cherries and 1-2 shots of whiskey. Top off with your flavored simple syrup, stir, and get tipsy enjoy!

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xo

*This post was shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday!

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Devilishly Dark Chocolate & Fresh Ginger Bundt Cake w/ Pearlescent Blood Orange Glaze

I like big bundts and I cannot lie. Really, I can’t. So, when I discovered a large bundt pan (in PERFECT condition) among the many lovingly used kitchen items my sister gifted me, I was beyond excited. I needed to make a bundt cake RIGHT AWAY. (And I’ve been stuck on them ever since.) ;)

The first (of many) bundt cake recipes I’d like to share is my favorite of them to date. A delicious blend of dark, luxury French chocolate with just enough spice from freshly grated ginger. You know how I’m obsessed with ginger. If not, just stick around my blog long enough, and you’ll find out.

For the glaze, I used a succulent blood orange, zest and all. Some icing sugar and a bit of coconut oil created a perfectly smooth, and surprisingly pearlescent, topping. Oh, and it’s PINK!!! <3 <3 <3

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Devilishly Dark Chocolate & Fresh Ginger Bundt Cake

w/ Pearlescent Blood Orange Glaze

Cake:

  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Valrhona cocoa (it was kinda pricey at Central Market, but soo worth it!!)
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pink salt
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 9 tbs coconut oil (in solid state)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsps fresh ginger (peeled & grated)

Glaze:

  • 1/2 blood orange (juice and zest)
  • 2 tbs coconut oil (melted)
  • 1-2 cups icing sugar (or enough to create a thick glaze)

(I just winged the glaze. Those measurements are ‘guesstimates.’)

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Sift the dry cake ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients and mix well. Pour batter into your beautiful bundt pan (that’s been rubbed down with coconut oil). Bake in the oven, preheated to 350 degrees F, for 35-45 minutes. I like to leave mine a little under-done, so that it remains nice and moist for days after.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes. Then, flip your pan onto a cooling rack and let the cake rest another 15 minutes (at least!). While you’re patiently waiting, you can assemble the glaze. Simply blend the listed ingredients until smooth. You can place in the refrigerator to thicken up a bit, if necessary. Pour onto your cooled cake and enjoy!

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I hope you love this delicious cake as much as we did! I’ll see you when baby gets back. ;)

xo

*This post was shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday!

 

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One Quick Dough, Two Delicious Ways: Navajo Fry Bread Tacos + Pita Pockets & Spicy Hummus!

Wow. It’s been quite the hiatus. I’m sorry I’ve neglected the blog for so long. I’ve been through a whirl-wind of emotions over the past few months and I can’t even begin to explain. So I won’t. Not yet. Instead, I have some exciting and easy recipes to share!

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First off, I’ve been DYING to try Navajo Fry Bread Tacos after stumbling upon their image on Pinterest. If you aren’t aware of their deliciousness, let me just give you the low-down: Fried, puffy dough piled high with all your favorite taco fillings. Don’t be fooled by the name, though. You’ll be eating this puppy with a fork and knife!

It was late Saturday night, I required something quick and easy to appease a hungry, video-game-playing boyfriend. Navajo Fry Bread called my name. I didn’t realize how easy they would be. But about half an hour later, we were basking in (and stuffing our faces with) their glory.

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For the dough, I used this recipe as a guideline. I tweaked it to suit my needs.

Navajo Fry Bread/Pita Pocket Dough:

  • 4 cups flour (I used 3 AP, 1 white wheat)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder (aluminum-free)
  • 1 teaspoon pink salt
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (cut in)
  • 2 tablespoons milk of choice
  • 1 cup filtered water (more or less, depending)

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar in a bowl. Cut in the coconut oil using a wire whisk. Add the 2 tbs milk (I actually subbed water because I only had date-sweetened vanilla cashew milk on hand!) and enough water to form a soft dough. Knead briefly and let rest for about 15 minutes. While you wait, you can assemble your toppings.

For the filling in the taco above, I used 2 Field Roast Mexican Chipotle sausage links (cooked and crumbled), 1 cup pinto beans, 1 can diced tomatoes, chili powder, garlic & onion powders, salt, and pepper. This was a delicious chili-like filling that I’m sure to use again in a variety of ways. It would be perfect atop some homemade Frito’s for a great from-scratch Chili Pie. Or poured over a seitan chili-cheese dog or homemade fries. Mmmmm.. Where was I? Right, the dough is ready now.

Heat your favorite frying oil (about 1/2-1 inch thick) in a shallow pan. Stretch your dough, or roll it out if you’re not lazy like I was. Either way you do it, the dough’s going to bubble up when fried. Carefully place the flattened dough in the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Flip and fry the other side another few minutes til brown. Remove with tongs and drain on a paper-towel lined plate.

Now, top the bread with a layer of the chili taco filling. Cover with your favorite cheese (I used an aged Havarti). Place in a pre-heated oven for a few minutes until the cheese is melted. Then add fresh veggies of your choice. I wish I was better prepared, because this taco is CRYING for some homemade guac and sour cream. Nonetheless, super delicious and oh-so-easy!

(I will post more pics next time I make this dish. I only snapped the one before devouring!!)

I’m a huge fan of re-purposing, especially when it comes to food! I hate wasting, so the more uses I can find for leftovers, the better. After the Phenomenal Fry Bread Experience that was Saturday night, I again found myself needing something super quick for dinner on Sunday.

I had started a batch of homemade tahini (recipe below) in anticipation for the best hummus ever. I’ve made hummus in the past, but up til now, I used sub-par food processors and never bothered with the tahini (I was always too cheap to buy it! LOL), so it never turned out quite right. Now that I was gifted an AWESOME Cuisinart food processor (thank you again!), I can do things like make awesome hummus with homemade (and cheap!) tahini.

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Homemade Hummus:

  • 1 can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 1/2 small lemons (juiced)
  • One-time tahini (recipe below)
  • A few dashes of white wine vinegar
  • Salt, pepper, chili powder, and cumin
  • Enough oil to make a smooth consistency (I used grapeseed)
  • Hot Chili Sauce & Paprika for presentation

One-Time Tahini:

  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds (toasted)
  • Pinch of pink salt
  • Enough oil to create a smooth paste (I used grapeseed)

In your fancy food processor, add the toasted sesame seeds and salt. Pulverize and gradually add enough oil to create a smooth paste. Now, add the drained chickpeas, lemon juice, and vinegar, pulverize again. While the machine is running, drizzle enough oil to make your hummus as thick or creamy as you’d like. Add seasonings to your liking. Now you can pour into a serving dish. I made a little well in the middle and poured in some hot chili sauce. Sprinkle with paprika.

I was so impressed with the way the hummus turned out, I decided we needed to eat it IMMEDIATELY! I pulled the leftover dough from the fry bread and rolled it into four flat disks. I baked these at 400 degrees (F) for about 10 minutes (until light brown) and lo-and-behold, they puffed up JUST LIKE PITA! I did a little happy dance in my kitchen as I cut into the first one:

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Hello, Perfect Pita Pocket!! ^_^

I quickly cut into triangles and the non-stop dipping commenced.

I was thoroughly impressed at the versatility of this quick-bread recipe. Whether you fry it up or bake it, it’s definitely a great one to have on hand for hectic days. I hope you enjoy!

See you soon. I promise. ;)

*This post was shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday!

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Dear Tragedy

Sorry I’ve been absent lately. Tragedy has struck The Ascension House. As I sit here, picking up the pieces, I bid you a Happy New Year. I will be back in 2014 with much to share. Lots of love.

Namaste.

xo

 

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Cranberry (Not Can-Berry) Sauce

I’ve never really been a fan of cranberry sauce. For years, I passed on the holiday favorite without batting an eye. For some people, like my sister, cranberry sauce from a can is a comforting seasonal tradition. I’ve always thought it was quite gross. While the taste wasn’t terrible, the gelatinous slivers were not appealing to my personal palate. I have a weird thing about food’s texture. It’s a big reason why I don’t eat meat. Or eggs. Or that weird skin on pudding that’s been left out too long. This cranberry sauce’s texture is anything but that.

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The following recipe is made with easy to find ingredients and takes only minutes to come together. Really makes me wonder why fresh cranberry sauce hasn’t become a “thing.” While this isn’t quite as easy as opening a can and slicing a cylindrical mass of red gloop, it is very rewarding when you taste the hint of anise and sweetness from the local honey, knowing it was made with love.

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

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You Need:

  • 24 oz fresh cranberries (rinsed)
  • 4 inches fresh ginger (grated)
  • 1 local, chem-free orange (juice & zest)
  • 2 Ceylon cinnamon sticks
  • 10 whole allspice (ground)
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cup organic brown sugar
  • dash of pink Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 cup local honey
  • 1/2-1 cup filtered water

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Add all ingredients to a large pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and allow to cook until berries have popped and sauce thickens. You can test the sauce by placing a small amount in a spoon, then put in the freezer for about one minute. If the texture is thick enough, remove from heat, fish out the cinnamon sticks & anise, and carefully pour into a large (quart sized) canning jar! :)

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This cranberry sauce can be made ahead and stored in the fridge, in an air-tight container (unopened) up to 1 month. That means, there’s no excuse not to have this amazing, homemade from fresh-berries sauce at your holiday table! Skip the HFCS-laden jelly from a can and make your own sauce (and memories) this year!

Wishing you Happy Holidays from The Ascension House! xo

Namaste!

*This post was shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday’s Special Christmas Edition!

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Italian Eggplant Hoagies on Homemade Rolls

Do you ever find inspiration for a meal, and then it stays in your mind until you finally create it? This meal is courtesy of one of those lingering ideas I had last week… I was poking through my freezer one day and came upon a bag of frozen, breaded eggplant slices. (I like to make these in advance for easy weeknight meals like Eggplant Parmesan. Just dip thinly sliced eggplant into flour, milk of choice, and then Panko breadcrumbs. Fry on both sides until very light brown. Allow to drain and cool, then freeze for future use!! When ready to use, simply remove from freezer and fry 2-3 minutes on each side.) I was thinking of another way to use these delicious rounds and thought they would be delicious as the focal point of an Italian inspired sub sandwich.

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First, I decided, I would have to choose a bread. It couldn’t be too soft, or else the sandwich might get mushy. Mushy eggplant is a definite no. I figured an authentic crusty style hoagie roll would be perfect, with just enough crunch to complement the eggplant and other goodies I hadn’t yet planned on filling it with. As usual, I searched Pinterest for a recipe and came upon this. The picture wasn’t completely selling me, as I couldn’t tell if the texture of the outer roll was as crusty as I wanted. I decided to give it a go, though, as the ingredients were super simple and I was hungry!

Italian Eggplant Hoagies on Homemade Rolls

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Ingredients:

Hoagie Rolls -

  • 2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  • 4 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 cup grapeseed or melted coconut oil
  • 3 cups organic all-purpose flour + 1 cup white wheat flour (or all 4 cups AP)

Sandwich -

  • Homemade Hoagie Rolls
  • 2 Fried Eggplant Slices per Sandwich
  • Pre- or Homemade Pesto (I use this pesto from Central Market that is super yummy.)
  • 1 Head Roasted Garlic per Sandwich (Mashed into a spread, like this. I added a little S&P.)
  • Roasted Yellow & Red Peppers (Roasted @ 400 degrees about 20 minutes with oil, S, & P.)
  • Sliced Cheese of Choice (I had Swiss on hand. Provolone or Mozzarella would be perfect!)

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I used my bread machine on the dough setting to create my dough. You can make it by hand just as easily. Simply mix all ingredients so they are incorporated and knead until soft and pliable. Allow dough to rise until it’s doubled in size. Next, you can separate into quarters (or 6, if you want smaller subs) and roll out. Then shape your loaves by rolling one end up and pinching the layers together.

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Now allow the shaped rolls to rise again for about 20 minutes. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, until browned. Allow to cool (as long as you can!) and slice lengthwise. You can now assemble your amazing sandwich. I did a thick layer of pesto on the bottom, topped with the fried eggplant slices and melted cheese. The roasted garlic spread is on top, along with the sweet oven-roasted peppers. Together, this sandwich is absolute Italian bliss. Molto Delizioso!!

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I hope you love it as much as I do! Namaste! xo

*This post was shared on Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways and Wildcrafting Wednesday!

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Prettiest Pickled Watermelon Radishes

Every week, the Producer’s Market provides a substantial amount of my produce for home-cooked meals, smoothies, and snacks. This trip, I picked up some gorgeous watermelon radishes (among many other delicious things). I’ve seen them in the supermarket before, but never of such large, voluptuous quality. Local is always better, watermelon radishes are no exception.

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I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them at first. Other than stare, that is. Upon the slicing of the first root, I was flabbergasted. The colors were so vibrant, I couldn’t believe it was REAL food. It’s amazing to me that food scientists will use all kinds of artificial dyes and additives (bugs even!!) to create colors that we can already find elsewhere… You just gotta know where to look. ;)

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My phone doesn’t even do these beauties justice. They remind me of tie-dyes or gemstones.. Both things that are all too precious to my heart. Not to mention this electric pink has always been one of my favorite colors. Watermelons my favorite fruit. Radishes one of my favorite… Sorry, I digress..

I found a very simple pickling recipe for the watermelon radishes on Pinterest. This recipe is no boil (which is great when your bf haaaaates the smell of vinegar!) and about as easy as it gets!!

Prettiest Pickled Watermelon Radishes

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You need:

  • 1 bunch medium local organic watermelon radishes
  • 1 cup white distilled vinegar (You can also use white wine or rice vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1 tbs sea salt
  • 1 tbs organic sugar
  • 1 tbs red pepper flakes

Slice your radishes as thinly as possible. I used a knife, but a mandoline slicer would work excellent! (Just be careful!!!!)  Add the vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and pepper flakes to a large glass jar. Shake until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add your radish slices until the jar is filled, making sure they are covered with liquid. Tighten on the lid and refrigerate for several hours (or overnight).

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The color will bleed out of the radishes, leaving you with fluorescent pink pickles and juice! You can add red or white onions, jalapenos, or other spices to create a unique tasting pickle if you prefer! They are spicy, delicious, and I cannot wait to eat them atop some tacos or tucked into a sandwich!

Let me know what you think! Namaste!

*This post was shared on Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways and Wildcrafting Wednesday!

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Immunity Boosting Kimchi Noodles

For the first time in several years, I caught a cold. Or maybe it was allergies. Whatever the eff it was, it wasn’t fun. It’s also been lingering the past week. I’m not sick, but a little sniffly in the early mornings and late at night (along with an occasional cough). To combat it, I’ve been drinking loads of Prevention Tea and cooking with shit-tons of fresh garlic, onions, and ginger. Today’s recipe showcases all of the above, with the added benefits of homemade Kimchi.

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Kimchi is a fermented Korean side dish made of cabbage, carrots, garlic, onions, and plenty of spice!! Traditionally, it’s made with fish sauce, though, being the veggie I am, I omit that and it tastes just as good! (My kimchi is Korean-friend Approved LOL!!) I made the kimchi in this recipe well over a year ago, and it’s still just as delicious, if not more so. Some things just get better with time..

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During my kimchi research, I found that the older kimchi and it’s juices are often reserved for use in soups and stews. Thus, today when I set out to abolish my Ramen-noodle craving (I don’t eat the stuff, but I make a homemade version that is just as good-without the chemicals and MSG!), I decided to add the rest of my old fermented goodness. I make my kimchi with red cabbage, which is abundant in Iron, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A. Iron assists your body in creating the cells that fight viruses, while Vitamin K is excellent for bone health, and is especially important for women. Vitamin C is a well-known combatant against colds and viruses; it also helps to neutralize free radicals in the body. Vitamin A provides you with the much needed antioxidant Beta-Carotene (also found in carrots!), which helps boost your immune system and is wonderful for eye health!

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Other health-boosting ingredients include a nutrient rich, low sodium organic vegetable broth, organic tamari (which can help with digestive health), and lots of sauteed garlic, onions, and ginger. The three above superfoods have great anti-inflammatory benefits. Garlic and onions are both anti-viral and anti-bacterial, as well, which increase immunity to help kick whatever is keeping you down.. and FAST!!!!

Immunity Boosting Kimchi Noodles

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 white onion (chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (finely diced)
  • 2-3 inches fresh ginger root (peeled and grated)
  • enough grapeseed oil to saute all of the above (about 1-2 tbs)
  • 1-2 cups organic vegetable broth (you want roughly twice the amount of liquid as noodles)
  • 1 handful spaghetti noodles (I’m not sure what the best way to accurately measure spaghetti noodles is.. but it was about 1/6 of the package. LOL)
  • Splash of organic tamari (to taste)
  • Paprika, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup homemade (or store-bought) Kimchi w/ juice (recipe for mine soon!!)

First, you want to saute the onions until they are translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for about 1 minute. Pour in 1-2 cups vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Add the noodles (I always break mine in half first for easy handling) and cook til tender. Now you can lower the heat, add the seasonings, and stir in your kimchi! Enjoy with a large glass of water, because this shit is HOT!! :)

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Stay healthy this cold/flu/allergy season! xo

Namaste!

*This post was share on Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways and Wildcrafting Wednesday!

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Easiest Fruit Preserves (Plus: No-Peel Grape Jam!!)

I remember when I was a child, there were few things I hated more than jam on toast. Peanut butter and jelly? Just fine. But for some reason the thought of putting jam or preserves on toasted bread with butter was absolutely repulsive. It’s funny how things change with age. Flash forward to my mid-twenties, and I am OBSESSED with this simple delicacy. Mostly because I’ve found the easiest, most delicious way to make fresh jam and preserves.

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Jam and preserves are essentially the same thing. Both can be made with or without pectin (I go without, relying on the fruit’s natural pectin to do my bidding). The only difference, really, is a slight change in texture. Jam tends to be thicker all around, while preserves are left chunky in a more syrupy mix. Both are super simple to make, and take less than a half hour to complete!

First off, you can make jam or preserves with just about any fruit. So far, I’ve had wonderful success with pears, nectarines, grapes, cherries, strawberries, & apples. (I’ve been dying for blueberry, but haven’t had success finding any good deals all summer on organic berries! LAME!) The other 2 ingredients, that’s right, JUST 2, are raw, organic sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Combined, with a little patience and love, you can create the most luxurious jam you’ve ever tasted!

Easiest Fruit Preserves & No-Peel Grape Jam

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You Need:

1 lb organic, local fruit (Or however much you have on hand. I just use whatever fruit is about to go bad and add sugar/lemon accordingly. I rarely measure, so these are ‘guesstimates’ at best!!)

1 cup raw organic sugar (Use the best quality you can afford! Add more sugar as necessary!)

1/2 organic, local lemon (juice) per 1 lb fruit

Optional Add-Ins: fresh ginger, cinnamon, vanilla beans, cayenne, ect! Be creative!! :)

The Process:

Dice the fruit however you desire. Place fruit in a saucepan, along with sugar and lemon juice. Heat on medium-high until fruit is heated thoroughly. Use a potato masher, or similar device, to break up the fruit. The juices will begin to release and the texture will already be noticeably different. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer and stir for about 20 minutes or so, until you get the thickness you desire. (Jam generally takes a bit longer than preserves, and you’ll want to mash the fruit up a little more!) Pour your preserves into a sterilized canning jar. (Sterilizing is as easy as washing it and then rinsing the inside with vinegar.) Your preserves are now ready to eat!!

*You can prolong the shelf life of your preserves by giving the jars a water bath in boiling water for about 5 minutes. (If you are unfamiliar with this technique, you can watch a video here.) If you don’t want to go through the trouble, just make sure your jam is eaten within a month or so. I’m not sure exactly how long it lasts, because in my house, it’s only around a couple of days!!!

toastandpreserves

Upon researching how to make grape jam online, I became slightly perturbed. All the recipes I came across called for silly sounding things like steaming the grapes first, and then removing all of the skins individually. Or, you can cook the grapes down and run them through a food mill. I don’t have the time, nor patience, (nor food mill!) for all that jazz. So I just decided to make grape jam the same way I make the above preserves. And guess what? It turned out perfectly. The skins aren’t at all slimy or gross like I had read about. They actually melded quite well into the overall texture of the jam. I quite like it. Quite. Try it out yourself and tell me what you think!!

(I love it spread on top of my sandwich bread as toast or paired with some homemade nut butter. It’s also amazing warmed up and poured over coconut milk ice cream. Mmmmm!)

Enjoy & Namaste! <3

*This was shared on Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways & Wildcrafting Wednesday!

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