Monday, October 29, 2012

Cheap, Easy Storage Solution: Hanging Kitchen Utensils Up

My kitchen drawers are few and small. They are so narrow that I cannot even fit a cutlery tray in any of them. I love my kitchen gadgets so I have a storage problem on my hands. Then I saw this on pinterest, the solution to my problem. I have the same weird doors. Instead of buying hooks I rigged some up with jewelry wire.


 Each hook is 18 cm of wire, folded in half then molded into a hook. They take no time to make and cost less than a penny each. The door has slits so the hooks just nestle into the slits. Now I have a bit more room in my drawers.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Healthier Version of General Tao Tofu


Healthier Version of General Tao Tofu

My husband and I love General Tao tofu from vegweb.com. This is such a great recipe on it's own with no modifications. We have made it countless times but not so much lately. The fried tofu is not so healthy and I have been trying really hard to get back to a healthy life style. Fortunately I figured out how to prepare it a great deal healthier so I will post the modifications here. The baked tofu turned out so well it was difficult to stop munching on them on their own.

Tofu Component

  • 1 package of extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 1/2 T tamari
  • 2 T mirin
  • Sprinkle of Salt and Pepper
  1. Mix the last 3 ingredients in a shallow dish. Mix cubed tofu so it is completely coated and marinate for a few hours, mixing every so often.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake in a pre-heated oven (400 degrees) for 20 minutes. Turn over and bake for 5 more minutes.
Seasoned Baked Tofu
Sauce Component (originally from Vegweb but slightly modified)
  • 3 T oil
  • 1 T ginger
  • 1 T garlic
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2/3 cup vegetable stock
  • 3 T sugar
  • 2 T tamari
  • 1 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1-2 T cornstarch mixed with 2 T water
  1. Add first 4 ingredients to small sauce pan on medium heat and fry until garlic is soft (about 2 minutes).
  2. Add next 4 ingredients and bring to boil. Add cornstarch-water mix and mix in to thicken. Remove from heat. 
Bringing It All Together
  • rice noodles
  • vegetables (I used snap peas here but many vegetables would work)
  1. Cook rice noodles according to package. Throw some vegetables into the boiling water. Drain when ready. 
  2. Put rice noodles on plates and top with baked tofu. Pour sauce over top and serve :) 

Make your Towels and Drawers Smell Great


Make your Towels and Drawers Smell Great
This was a quick easy project with lasting results. All you need is one of those scented packets that you can get at Pier One, coffee filters and some ribbon.


Simple open the scent packet, divide the contents between about 10 coffee filters and fasten each one with some ribbon. I put a bunch of these in between my towels to make them smell nice. I also put some in various drawers. You could use these in cars, shoes, anywhere you want to smell nice.



Quick and Easy, Vegan BBQ Tofu on Kale Salad

Quick and Easy, Vegan BBQ Tofu on Kale Salad

This is a great weekday meal. It was super fast, I had everything on hand and it incorporates a lot of kale which is just so good for you. I find it difficult to get enough greens, especially raw greens, but this is a great way to eat a whole bunch. The BBQ tofu idea is not my own, I saw it on Health.Happy.Life. I just used store bough BBQ sauce to make it easier.


Salad

  • a bunch of kale, de-ribbed, ripped into small pieces and washed
  • 2 carrots- shredded with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 ts salt
  • 1/2 lemon
Mix the kale with the salt and lemon juice. Squish it in well with your hands. This is an important step as it really breaks down the kale fibers making it less chewy and more enjoyable to eat raw. Mix in carrot and pepper. 


Simple Kale Salad

Tofu

  • extra firm tofu
  • BBQ sauce

Prepare as directed here. Allow to cool a few minutes before adding to salad. Serve on top of the salad and enjoy.
Easy BBQ Tofu

Vegan Mushroom 'Chick'n' Stroganoff

The picture does not do it justice, this turned out to be a really good. My husband was definitely a fan. I wanted to make something similar to a beef stroganoff we used to make with mushroom soup. Mushroom soup is not vegan so I substituted this with a mushroom "cream" sauce. I decided to cut up meatless chicken strips instead of using fake beef because I don't like fake beef but you could substitute it in if you prefer. Meatless chicken breast would be better but it was sold out. I get the President's Choice brand from the frozen meat section because it is priced much better than other brands and it tastes good.

Ingredients

  • 10 "chicken strips" baked according to the package
  • 1/2 large yellow onion or 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 3 T oil
  • 4 T flour
  • 1/2 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 cup almond milk (plain)
  • 3-4 servings of pasta, a long flat noodle is best
  • 1 package of mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 fresh sage leaves (or ground sage to taste)
  • squirt of lemon
  • sprinkle of dried dill
Directions
  1. Bake the "chicken" according to package directions.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of starchy pasta water
  3. Add oil and flour to a small sauce pan, heat on medium and stir. Add 1/2 stock cube and combine. Slowly add the soy milk a little at a time. Stir well each time to avoid lumps. Continue to stir until thick then remove from heat.
  4. Add 3 T oil to a walk and heat on medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until limp. Add garlic, stir until browned. Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Once the mushrooms have reduced in size, add cream sauce, sage, salt, pepper, a squirt of lemon juice and the pasta water. Remove from heat.
  5. Chop up "chicken". Mix pasta and chicken into the sauce and serve. A sprinkle of dill over the dish serves as both a garnish and adds a nice flavour. Enjoy!



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Touching and Seeing Sensory Activity

Image courtesy of posterize /FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Today I brought my little guy a few crayons and an extra large piece of paper. He explored the crayons a bit, licked them and tried scribbling on the paper. He tried red and green. After scribbling for a while he discovered he could rip the paper. He really enjoys ripping paper. I have to watch him carefully but he was good about not eating the paper. I also ripped the edges off the paper to prevent paper cuts. I don't think he is ready to write letters with the crayons but it is a good way to work on colours. I bought triangles crayons so it is easy for him to grip. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Home Schooling! Sensory Activities for my Little Man

Now that my little guy is a one year old I have been thinking a lot more about his education. Though I do intend to put him in preschool soon I will be supplementing his school learning with some home school learning as well. I have been excited about teaching him things since I learned I was pregnant. Because he is so young I have mostly been reading to him up until now. My approach is evolving to include a few more things now.

The Alphabet
To teach him the Alphabet I have been doing the following...

  1. Reciting the alphabet and singing the alphabet song.
  2. ABC day App on Blackberry
  3. Dr. Seusss ABC book
  4. Foam Letters ($1 at the Dollar Store) he plays with them and I tell him which ones he's playing with.
  5. Flash Cards . These were also $1 at the Dollar Store. I will spread a few out on the floor and encourage him to pick out a specific letter. He has done it a few times. 
Auditory Activities
  1. Piano- he smashes the keys mostly. He really likes making noise. After a while I will play a not a few times and then he will play that note. I say the note name as I play it.
  2. Sing Songs- we have been doing this since he was born. At baby group, songs really seem to hold his interest.
  3. Toys- most of his toys play music or make some sort of sound. 
  4. Listen to different instruments online- http://www.dsokids.com/listen/instrumentlist.aspx
Visual Activities
  1. Pet Store- a great place to see fish, birds, rodents, cats and sometimes dogs. The little man loves animals. He can say catee and doeee. His only other words are mama and daddy so animals seem pretty significant to him.
  2. TV- unfortunately. I didn't want to be one of those TV families but we kind of are. He watches some cartoons in the morning. 
  3. Toys- lots of his toys are bright and colourful. Some even light up.
  4. Books- he looks at the pictures as I read them.
  5. Blackberry ebooks by ickypen. These are great. I downloaded both to my playbook. If he is too excited to eat or sleep we listen to this book and he calms right down. The app reads the book so this would be an auditory activity as well.
  6. Walks at the park. He gets to see lots of neat stuff outside and some horses at the stable. We often hit up the dog park to watch the dogs as well.
  7. Fish, frogs and snails in a giant fish globe.
Touch 
  1. Texture Sampler. I gather a bunch of objects with different textures and let him touch them all. If safe to do so he can explore the object in his mouth as babies do. I watch him very closely to make sure he doesn't eat anything he shouldn't.
  2. Food- I give him different food textures to play with and squish in his hands. We have tried purees, fruit chunks, smoothie, cheerios, rice crispies, water, etc.
Smell
I haven't done much with small. I think I will try putting essential oils on cotton balls and sew them into socks as mentioned here.

Taste I don't worry about. He gets to try lots of different tastes and he puts everything into his mouth. 

I'm on the look out for other sensory activity ideas. If you have any ideas, I invite you to leave suggestions in the comments section. As I come up with or find more I will post them. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Asian Inspired Warm Black Bean Noodle Salad

Asian Inspired Warm Black Bean Noodle Salad
This is what a had for lunch today! It was a nice, light and healthy salad. I cheated a bit by using bottled black bean sauce. If you are a purist you could probably substitute in any type of sauce.

Ingredients

  • large hand full of thin Asian noodles (the kind that cook in 3 minutes)
  • black bean sauce
  • Flax oil (for omega 3's)
  • sesame seeds
  • Lettuce
  • red pepper
  • green onion
  • peanuts (a kick of protein)
  • salt n' pepper
Directions
  1. Cook up the pasta and drain. Mix in a bit of black been sauce (not too much as the noodles are thin and easily flavoured), flax oil and some sesame seeds. Leave aside to cool a bit.
  2. Line your bowl with lettuce leaves. Chop up the red pepper and green onion. 
  3. Place your noodles in your lettuce bowl and top with the red peppers, green onions, peanuts, a few more sesame seeds and salt n' pepper. Enjoy!