Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tempeh, Spinach, and Tomato Sandwich

The warm weather is here! Along with it has come lots of work and until our 2014 OutDoor Project is done we will continue to be busy. It doesn't help that I also decided to start painting our kitchen/dining/living room. Yep, apparently we feel like we need to have 5 projects going on at once for it to feel normal around here.
Working Hard

Mark has been hard at work on the deck and it is going very well. With him being busy doing that after work I had to come up with some quick dinners that I could make when I got home from the office. Mark usually makes dinner those nights. 

To me an easy dinner means sandwiches. Something that I can whip together in 15 minutes flat. The sandwich that I loved having for dinner when I was little was a BLT. I mean really who doesn't love bacon? We do eat bacon occasionally once every 6 months because the nitrate free bacon is really expensive. Also, bacon really does not fall into the healthy food category, but the occasional is OK category.
Ashlyn likes her deconstructed.

This is my way of being able to eat bacon more than every 6 months. This really is one of our families favorite recipes. Ashlyn loves it, downright asks for it all the time and gets a big smile on her face when she finds out this is what is for dinner. This really is my kind of dinner; fast, simple, and something my entire family eats without a battle.

Tempeh, Spinach, and Tomato Sandwich
-this makes enough tempeh for 4-5 sandwiches

8 oz Tempeh
2 Tbs olive oil
1/4 c reduced sodium tamari (or soy sauce)
1 Tbs Worcestershire
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
Baby Spinach
Tomatoes sliced
Bread, toasted
Mayo (optional)

-Add the olive oil to a skillet and heat to medium.
-Slice your Tempeh into 1/4 inch strips.
-Once the oil is hot place your tempeh strips into the pan. Watch out the oil may splatter. Cook until golden brown on one side then flip.
-While the tempeh is cooking whisk together the tamari, Worcestershire, and liquid smoke.
-Once the tempeh is golden brown on both sides add your tamari mixture to the pan. The mixture should boil up right away.
-After about a minute flip the tempeh over so it gets covered in the mixture.
-Once the mixture is absorbed remove the pan from the heat.
-Assemble your sandwich by placing mayo on the toasted bread and topping with the tempeh, tomato, and spinach. Top with the other piece of toasted bread with mayo.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cherry Almond Granola

I seriously cannot believe that it is almost Memorial Day weekend already. Where has the month of May gone? Oh yeah, a lot of it has been spent in our backyard working hard on our 2014 Outdoor Project. All three of us now have bumps, bruises, calluses, scrapes, and anything else that comes along with having a construction site in your backyard. We are getting there slowly but surely and we will continue to plug away until we are finally done.

In the meantime I decided to sneak away into the kitchen while Ashlyn was taking a nap this last weekend. When we made our plant based switch one of the things we had to give up were the boxes of processed sugar laden cereal. Now, I have never been a big fan of the stuff. I was the weird kid that preferred Raisin Bran over Lucky Charms. Mark on the other hand liked his cereal. Luckily in his old age he has come to appreciate the taste of cereal that has a little more nutritional value than just sugar covered marshmallows.

I was looking for a substitute for our boxed cereal when I realized that granola is cereal that is not processed. Seriously it was a total DUH moment. I guess I always ate granola with yogurt, but never considered pouring milk on it (almond milk in our case). Let me tell you it is a fantastic substitute for boxed cereal. I was searching around for a granola recipe that our whole family could enjoy and came across this 100 Days Granola recipe. This has been our go to for at least 6 months now with a few changes that I made to suit our family.

We all really like this recipe, (I make a double batch every week if that tells you anything) but I felt like a little change up was in store. I decided to make a little variation on it. I had some cherries in my freezer that I needed to use up and decided a cherry almond version of this granola definitely needed to happen this weekend. This one is for sure a winner in my book and with cherry season coming up I know that I will be making this variation again very soon.

Cherry Almond Granola

3 1/2 cups rolled oats*
1 cup walnuts chopped*
1 cup pecans chopped*
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups frozen pitted cherries (thawed)*
1 1/2 Tbs lemon juice (1/2 a lemon)
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt

-Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
-Mix the oats, walnuts, pecans, coconut, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
-Place the cherries and lemon juice in a food processor. Puree until the cherries are completely broken down and look almost like cherry juice.
-Place the honey, olive oil, almond extract, and salt in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute until warm and able to whisk together.
-Pour the honey mixture and cherry puree onto the oat mixture and stir together until evenly coated.
-Spread the mixture onto the prepared pan in one even layer. Bake for 2 hours.
-Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes. Break up the granola into chunks and store in an air tight container.
-Enjoy with almond milk, yogurt, over ice cream, or even on top of a salad!

*Do not use quick oats.
*Use any nuts you would like. I only had walnuts and pecans on hand but obviously almonds would be fantastic in this.
*I used frozen cherries, but i am sure fresh would work as well.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Our 2014 OutDoor Project

Oh my goodness gracious I am finally able to take a breath for a minute today. It feels like we have been going non stop for the past 2 weeks. Mark and I are both exhausted and we still have a long way to go. What am I talking about? Well, we decided to replace our deck. Last year we updated the landscaping in the front of the house, this year is a much, much bigger project. I really wanted to post a new recipe and I have been meaning to for the last two weeks, but it is just going to have to wait right now.

Back to the deck. Isn't it funny that when you start a DIY project it always becomes a lot bigger than what you think it will be when you start? That has been our experience so far with the few DIY projects that we have tackled. I guess this is what happens when you own a house that is older than you.
This is what we found after tearing the decking off. Gross!
OK, Mark is not gross, just the wood.
This is the biggest beast that we have slayed yet. OK, we are still in the fight, but we are starting to win. It is kind of like in the Hobbit when they are fighting the trolls. At one point it looks like it is hopeless, but then Bilbo starts to outsmart them. Yep we are now outsmarting this beast and that reference definitely showed my how big of a nerd I really am.

This is part of the reason we had to replace the structure.
We really thought that we would just have to replace the decking, stairs, and railing, but we would leave the structure. Little did we know that the structure was done wrong when the deck was built. The scary part is how wrong it was done and that it was probably not safe to be using it.

Yep, more structure issues. Just like a construction job, two guys standing around while one does the work.
After more materials than we planned on in the beginning, not to mention the million and one trips to Home Depot and Menards we are feeling a little more confident. We are slowly but surely making progress and thank you to some of our friends otherwise I am not sure what we would have done when it came to the structural issues. That part was way above Mark's pay grade anyway. We will keep you updated on our progress.

Our new deck sitting on our lawn.
The old deck. It is my job to break down this pile. I get to learn how to use a circular saw this weekend!
Making progress.
We are finally structurally safe.
Do your DIY projects always turn out to be a bigger project than you originally thought? Anyone else have to take a million and one trips to Home Depot during a project?