Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Colcannon


I have to say, Tuesdays are probably my favorite day to post. Why? I love to cook and bake almost as much as I love eating. This week's recipe is Colcannon, a traditional Irish peasant dish, that is not only filling but seasonal and simple to make. Since we are a vegan household, we don't add any meat to the recipe. However, if you would like to, lamb is traditional, but bacon is more popular here in the States and is cheaper and easier to locate.

Ingredients

3-4 large Russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 head of cabbage (less if you are adding meat), shredded
1 tbsp olive oil (bacon fat if you are cooking with bacon)
1/4 cup almond milk (or heavy cream until desired consistency)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Boil your potatoes until soft, roughly 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a cast iron frying pan (or regular; we almost always use cast iron- it adds more iron to your food FYI) heat the olive oil. Next saute the cabbage until it starts to brown.
When the potatoes are done, drain the water and using a masher (not a mixer) mash the potatoes. Add the almond milk until desired consistency is reached. It should be soft but thick. Finally add the cabbage, salt and pepper to taste, and ENJOY!

Told you it was a simple recipe. This makes what should be 4 servings, especially if you are serving a side dish with the meal. With us, we just make the colcannon and eat it until its gone. I can put away some colcannon. The Mortician is usually full after a bowl to a bowl and a half depending, but me, I can eat more than two. What is also great about this dish is the fact that I don't have to make it. This is one of two meals the Mortician makes which is nice for when I want an evening off which as been more often since getting my new job than before.

What sort of traditional dishes do you and your family enjoy?

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife

Monday, November 28, 2011

DIY Christmas Cards



Holiday cards are always a big deal this time of year with thousands being sent all over the place. Kids write letters to Santa while families send photos to each other and their friends. I have never understood buying cards already decorated and filled in. A handmade card speaks loudly and only takes a little bit of time to make and is cheaper. I spent about 10 cents per card, if that compared to a dollar or more at the store. This year, I sat down and made 7 cards in less than an hour. Why not make some of your own this year?


Supplies

Plain Cards with evelopes
Scrapbook paper
Stickers
Glitter Glue or glitter
Markers
Craft Glue

Once you have everything, layout your cards and start decorating. I glued down my paper first then decorated the top with glitter glue and stickers and here is what I ended up with!




Pretty sweet, eh? We will be sending the cards out hopefully before we leave for vacation on Wednesday. We are still waiting for our engagement pictures to be printed so we card send them to the family.

Have you started your cards or mail any out yet? Its best to do this early so you beat the rush and your cards get there in time. Have fun crafting!

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife

Friday, November 25, 2011

Budgeting for the Holidays



Now that Thanksgiving is over, the December holidays are quickly approaching which means decorations, gifts, and food stuffs.  Getting these things of course costs money and, depending on how you shop, it can be pricy. In order to control your spending I created a free printable holiday budget! On top of it being free, it is also editable so you can add what you need and delete what you don't!

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/105165924/Holiday-Budget-2011

The Mortician and I tend to budget for food and decorations, but not so much for gifts. Its a general understanding that gifts should be smaller, meaning they aren't that expensive. Instead we put a limit on the number of gifts this year. We get 5 gifts each, but that doesn't necessarily mean we only get 5 things. For example, if I bought him under shirts I would probably get 2 packs instead of just one or if I bought candy I'd buy a couple Reese's instead of just one. But you get the picture.

Have fun budgeting for the holidays! Remember, sticking to a budget will eleminate frivolous spending, especially during the holiday. When picking out gifts, make a list first then go shopping. This will also stop you from buying needless gifts. Something to keep in mind: Always ask yourself "Is the So-and-So going to use this? Enjoy this?" If the answer is No, do not buy the gift. Sometimes we get so caught up in the gift giving season that we forget what people really want, need, or will actually use.

Have a Happy Holiday!

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Black Bean Chili

 

Well, its another Tuesday which means I have another recipe for you guys. This weeks recipe is Black Bean Chili. Normally this recipe would include some vegan beefless tips, but I haven't wanted to spend the money to buy them. Plus, the chili tastes just as great without them!


Ingredients

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4-1/2 onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1/2 Jalapeno, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp red pepper or chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1 can chickpeas
1 can kidney beans
1 cup frozen corn
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes (hunt's is free of high fructose corn syrup)

Directions

Add oil, onion, carrots, zucchini, jalapeno, and garlic to stock pot. Saute until carrots are tender; about 5 minutes.

Add spices (red pepper to salt) and cook 5 minutes.

Add chickpeas, kidney beans, corn, black beans, and dice tomatoes, juice and all. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring often.

If you want to add Gardein's Beefless tips, do it 10 minutes before the hour is up. They will fall apart if cooked too long.

Enjoy!

NOTE: When you add the spices, mix them together in a small bowl and add them all at once. Cumin will act like mace when heated up, burning your eyes and throat. Last night when I made this I added cumin first and as it was cooking measured out the other spices one at a time and added them. I paid for it. I spent half the night coughing because the cumin had dried out my throat and was causing it to burn. Just an FYI.


This is a great dish for fall and winter not only because its hearty and includes seasonal vegetables, but because the spices and jalapeno add a nice spicy kick. I NEVER add the full 2 tbsp on chili powder or red pepper. Spicy food kills my stomach so I usually only add about a tsp. However, if you like it spicy, make it spicy!

I hope you have enjoy this recipe!

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Place Cards

I wasn't originally going to make any place cards for you guys, but I felt so bad about not posting as often this month that I decided to throw some together! Unlike my invitations, I formatted this one in a Word document. Since it was so easy, I think I am going to continue using Word to format my documents so you can edit them! These place cards can be easily edited in Word or another program that is compatible with Word documents

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0KnNmfNfzc8Q0VtcXk3X0tIU28/view?usp=sharing

I hope you enjoy these wonderful place cards! I advise you to print them on card stock so they hold up better. Feel free to edit the document so you can fold the place cards over.

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tatsty Tuesday: Maple-Roasted Sweet Potatoes

 

Well, it has already been an eventful morning and I've only been awake for 45 minutes! I completely forgot the electrician was coming out today and was not awake when I should have been. Fifteen minutes before they arrived, I sprang out of bed, took a shower and as I turned off the water, heard them coming up the stairs. "Wonderful!" I thought. So I had to run downstairs, tell them to give me a minute, and then come let them in. Once they got in the house, they fixed the downstairs plug, which should have fixed the upstairs bathroom plugs but it didn't. After a little digging, they found that the outlet on the porch was the source of the problem. Not only was water getting into it and corroding the wires (an obvious fire hazard) but there were too many wires run through it and it was hooked together wrong, clearly another fire hazard! I can;t believe it! You know, if the leasing agency had just sent someone out to look at everything when we asked them in September, we may not have these problems and wouldn't have gone without power for 2 days on my birthday. Ugh! I can't wait to get our own place. At least that way, when something is wrong, we can take care of it in a timely manner or fix it ourselves. Most of the repairs in this place could have been fixed by us or my dad. Oh well, what can you do?

Anyway, I'm not here to complain about my leasing company or the endless repair list for this place. Today is about recipes, and I have another great one for you guys. Unfortunately I couldn't take my own picture for this week's Tasty Tuesday as the sweet potatoes were gone by the time I remembered I had planned this recipe for today. Haha!

source
Ingredients

1 1/2- 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 in cubes
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp margarine
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Put sweet potatoes in a 9x13 dish or spread out on a baking sheet. You can line with foil if you like for easy clean up; this gets messy.
Combine syrup, margarine, lemon juice, salt and pepper. I heat this liquid up in a sauce pan in order to melt down the margarine. Pour mixture over sweet potatoes.
Bake in oven for 45-50 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent over cooking.

Very easy recipe! This makes for a great side dish in the fall and winter, especially with protabello steaks, salad, or burgers, whatever you fancy!

What do you like to do with sweet potatoes?

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife

Monday, November 14, 2011

Grocery Sale Cycles- When Things Go On Sale

One of the best ways to save money on groceries is to stock up on items when they are on sale. Grocery stores tend to follow a sale cycle meaning an item will go on sale every so many weeks. It is during these sale times that you should stock up on the item. It has been suggested on more than one occasion that you stock up enough to last you until the next sale. But how do you know when items will be on sale? I have complied a list of when basic items go on sale based on the month. However, your best bet is to watch the sales in your own store. For example, January is National Oatmeal month, so oatmeal is on sale. February is National Hot Breakfast Month, so once again oatmeal is on sale. However, after February, there are no more food "holidays" that will almost guarantee the item will be on sale, so you'll have to keep an eye out. To help you get started, I have complied a list for you guys! As I mentioned, this is not exhaustive and may not be entirely accurate for your area. As a New Year's Resolution, I suggest you start keeping track of when items go on sale. Obviously you won't have to worry about EVERY item or even EVERY class of items because you don't buy the products. I will NEVER have to worry about dairy sales or meat sales because, obviously, we don't buy dairy or meat! Keep your sales list catered to you!

source
January

National Oatmeal Month: Oatmeal, especially Quaker
Diet Foods: Lean Cuisine, Special K, Kashi, 100 Calorie Packs, Yogurt, Healthy Choice, Smart Start, South Beach, etc.
Super Bowl Sunday: Pop (aka Soda or Coke) Products, Chips, Dips, Sandwich Items, Crackers, Cheese, Wings, and other Snack foods
Seasonal Produce: Pears, Oranges, Tangerines, Grapefruit, Broccoli, Carrots, Chard, Collards, Celery, Kale, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Spinach, Avocado, Kiwi
Flu Season: Cold Medicines and Vitamins

February

National Canned Food Month: Canned Food Items (Meats, Fruits, and Vegetables)
National Hot Breakfast Month: Oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, Malt O Meal, Waffles, Syrup, Pancakes
Chinese New Year: Soy Sauce, Canned Water Chestnuts, Noodles, Teriyaki Sauce
Valentines: Candy, KY Lubricant (no joke...)
Seasonal Produce: Artichoke, Potatoes, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Collards, Chard, Kale, Celery, Asparagus, Avocado, Spinach, Kiwi, Strawberries, Raspberries

March

Frozen Food Month: Frozen Meals, Vegetables, Waffles, Pizza, Ice Cream, etc
Seasonal Produce: Asparagus, Avocado, Cabbage, Carrots, Artichoke, Broccoli, Celery, Collards, Fennel, Chard, Cauliflower, Leek, Kale, Mushrooms, Spring Onions, Radish, Spinach, Rhubarb, Lemon, Lime, Orange, Rhubard, Strawberries, Tangerine, Peas

April

Easter: Ham, Eggs, Baking Supplies, Spices, etc
Earth Day: Organic Foods, Reusable Items, Energy Savers, etc
Seasonal Produce: Asparagus, Beets, Cabbages, Broccoli, Artichokes, Carrots, Avocado, Mushrooms, Onions, Peas, Grapefruit, Rhubarb

May

Memorial Day: Cook Out Supplies and Foods including Paper Products
Cinco De Mayo: Salsa, Tortillas, etc
Seasonal Produce: Asparagus, Avocado, Artichokes, Beans, Beets, Carrots, Onions, Peas, Potatoes, Blackberries, Raspberries, Strawberries

June

National Dairy Month: Dairy Products
Forth of July Sales (end of the month): Cook Out Items
Seasonal Produce: Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Potatoes, Red Onions, Summer Squash, Onions, Apricots, Blackberries, Blueberries, Boysenberries, Cherries, Grapes, Honeydew, Nectarines, Peaches, Raspberries, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Watermelon

July

National Ice Cream Month
Forth of Jule Sales
Back to School Supplies (end of June)
Seasonal Produce: Green Beans, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Garlic, Red Onions, Sweet Peppers, Bell Peppers, Potatoes, Summer Squash, Pears, Blueberries, Figs, Grapes, Nectarines, Oranges, Peaches, Plums, Tomatoes, Watermelon

August

Back To School Items
Disinfectants
Seasonal Produce: Avocado, Green Beans, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Onion, Bell Peppers, Summer Squash, Tomatillo, Tomatoes, Apple, Berries, Figs, Melons, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Raspberries

September

Back to School Supplies (ends Labor Day)
Diabetes Items
Baby Items
Seasonal Produce: Artichokes, Beans, Bell Peppers, Chili Peppers, Cucumber, Eggplant, Onion, Squash, Tomatillo, Tomatoes, Winter Squash, Apples, Grapes, Oranges, Pears, Pomegranate

October

Halloween
Baking Supplies (especially canned pumpkin)
Daylight Savings Time: Alarm Clocks, Batteries, Smoke Detectors, etc
Adopt a Shelter Dog Month: dog food
Seasonal Produce: Artichokes, Arugula, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Chard, Parsnip, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin, Spinach, Winter Squash, Turnips, Yams, Almonds, Chestnuts, Apples, Cranberries, Lemons, Pears, Pomegranates

November

Hot Cocoa, Tea, and Coffee
Baking Sales (in full swing now)
Canned Foods: Soup, Vegetables, Fruits, Spaghetti Sauce, Broth
Thanksgiving Items
Seasonal Produce: Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Potatoes, Squash, Yams, Pears, Cranberries, Kiwi, Lemons, Oranges

December


Holiday Dinner Items
Baking Items
Canned Foods
Seasonal Produce: Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Avocados, Kale, Cabbage, Sweet Potatoes, Rutabaga, Spinach, Winter Squash, Yams, Turnips, Potatoes, Pears, Dates, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Kumquat, Lemon, Oranges

Woo that was a long list! Want a printable version? Well, you got it!

I hope this comes in handy for everyone. If you are going to shop the cycles, keep this list handy and add to it to suit your needs. Good luck saving money and shopping the sales!

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Give Thanks: Mantle Banner

As I mentioned in a previous post, my family celebrates Thanksgiving. I'm actually thankful (no pun intended) that we do because November is too soon to start decorating for Yule/Christmas. Thanksgiving allows for a nice break up between fall and winter. Despite how I feel and many others, it isn't enough to keep the Christmas decorations from taking over the stores already. Blah! Don't get me wrong, I love Yule, but only in December. Haha!

To give our house a little Thanksgiving cheer, I created a banner to hang around the mantle. This is probably as far as I'm going to go for the time being because Thanksgiving is not being celebrated at my house. This is a really easy project and took maybe 30 minutes total to complete. And since I love sharing my projects, I'm passing on my idea to you!


Supplies

Cream Card Stock
Straight End
Brown Marker
Tape
Fishing Line or Twine

Directions

Fold the card stock in half (hamburger style). Using a straight end, cut triangles out of the pieces. You should get 2 triangles or flags per piece of card stock.


Outline each flag using the marker and give each flag a letter. If writing "GIVE THANKS" you will need 10 flags, each with a letter.

Next cut the twine or fishing line the length of your flags. Make sure to evenly space the letters and put a larger space between words. Next, layout the flags, face down, and tape the twine/fishing line to them. You need to tape on either side of the flags (left and right side) instead of in the center. If you tape in the center, the flags will not hang right.

Finally, hang up your completed banner and enjoy!


See, I told you it was simple!

How are you decorating for Thanksgiving?

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Apple Bundt Cake

 

I have a great surprise for you guys today; three recipes all wrapped up in one! I bought a ton of apples last month and have been having fun making new things. Yesterday I decided to make a bundt cake. I bought a bundt cake pan at a garage sale a month ago and have been itching to use it; this was the perfect time. Apple bundt cake was the perfect recipe, and it incorporated my homemade apple cider and apple sauce!



Ingredients- Apple Bundt Cake

1 tbsp margarine + flour for dusting
4 medium apples, shredded (I used Rome Apples. They are softer)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 cups flour (I use whole wheat)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup homemade apple sauce
Egg replacer equivalent to 4 eggs (or 4 eggs if you aren't vegan)
1/2 cup homemade apple cider
2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions- Apple Bundt Cake

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Prepare the bundt pan using the margarine and flour.
Next mix the shredded apples, lemon juice, and 1/3 cup sugar. Set aside.
Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
In a large bowl, mix together brown sugar, vegetable oil, homemade apple sauce, egg replacer, homemade apple cider, and vanilla. Next slowly add the flour mixture to the brown sugar mixture. Once fully combined, add the apple mixture.
Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Ingredients- Frosting

1/2 cup margarine
1/4 cup homemade apple cider
4 cups confectioner's sugar

Directions- Frosting

Cream together margarine and apple cider. Next gradually beat in sugar. I heated mine up in a sauce pan so I could pour it over my cake. Normally you would want to pour the frosting over your cake when while its still warm, but I didn't have confectioner's sugar on hand.

Ingredients- Apple Cider and Apple Sauce

10 apples
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp allspice

Directions- Apple Cider and Apple Sauce

Place apples in large stockpot. If you are making apple sauce, I suggest cutting the apples up and disposing of the cores. I did not do this and I ended up with core pieces in my apple sauce. Cover the apples with at least 2 inches of water. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. Boil, uncovered, for 1 hour. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 2 hours. Strain using a cheese cloth. I used a noodle strainer which made for a thicker apple cider. Set aside the mash as apple sauce and the juice as cider!


I hope you enjoy the apple recipes. The bundt cake turned out amazing. It is extremely moist and has a wonderful hunt of apple without being too overpowering.

Have you been baking with apples this fall?

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thanksgiving Invitations

With Thanksgiving right around the corner and parties already underway, I decided to whip up some invitations for everyone. These invitations are fairly simple and, as with my Halloween invitations, are easily printable. I know not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving during November, but its a family tradition and I like to participate. The Mortician, who previously didn't celebrate any holidays (personal reasons), has actually taken a liking to Thanksgiving since joining my family. Its a pretty big deal to my parents, and we tend to have a large gathering. When I was little, we had VERY large parties, but over the years jobs, life, and, well, family feuds, have separated the family, shrinking our party. All the same, its still great to see everyone, enjoy some great food, and watch Michigan play football!

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/101625712/givethanks

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/101625948/thanksgiving

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/101625874/gobble

Each of these is easily printed onto card stock. Just print, cut, and fill out! You can save the images, place them into word, and place a word box over the image to type in your own text. This is why I left left of them blank. For the "Gobble" invitation, I suggest printing it on cream card stock.

I hope you enjoy my invitations! Do you celebrate Thanksgiving? Is it a big event in your family?

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Portabello Steaks and Asparagus

 

Welcome to another Tasty Tuesday. The Mortician and I try to eat seasonally because its healthier and cheaper. One of our favorite fall/winter dishes apart from soups and stews is portabello steaks and asparagus, which is the recipe I'm sharing today!


For mushrooms:

Ingridients

2-4 portabello mushrooms
1 shallot
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 white cooking wine
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 cup water
Steak seasoning of your choice

Directions

Saute the shallot and garlic in olive oil. Once slightly transparent, add the cooking wine, vinegar, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover for 20 minutes. If it starts to simmer down, add more water, vinegar, and cooking wine at your discretion.
While marinade is cooking, wash mushrooms. If you want, you can scoop out the frills. Add to marinade and simmer on both sides for one minute. Remove from heat and place in a container. Pour marinade over mushrooms. Let sit for 1 hour, covered.
Heat up some oil in a pan. Place mushrooms in pan and lightly cook on each side. Sprinkle steak seasoning on each side and continue to cook until tender all the way through and warm. Remove from heat and enjoy!

For asparagus:

Ingridients

1 bunch of aspargus
olive oil
salt to taste
vegan Parmesan

Directions

Heat olive oil in a pan. Meanwhile wash and trim asparagus. Add asparagus to pan and sprinkle with salt. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side or until tender. Sprinkle with Parmesan and enjoy!


I hope you enjoy my recipes!

Do you have a favorite fall/winter dish? I'd love for you to share!

Look Alive!
<3The Mortician's Wife
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