Monday, August 26, 2013

Kale Avocado Salad

Kale is so good for you, but honestly, it isn’t easy to eat in the same old way every day. This easy salad – it is too easy to call a recipe – is a sure-fire way to make anyone a believer in the tastiness of kale. With only a few simple ingredients, this is so easy that it will likely become a dinner favorite. Kale Avocado Salad 2 cups coarsely chopped Italian kale (large ribs removed) Juice of 1 lemon 1 ripe avocado 1/4 teaspoon each, salt and pepper 1. Mix all ingredients together and massage the avocado into the kale leaves. Coat thoroughly, then let sit for 5 minutes. This can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.

Bacon Cheeseburger Skillet Casserole

As a vegetarian, I know that I can’t exactly be a card-carrying member of the bacon fan club. With this delicious skillet casserole, however, I can come pretty close to it. This is easy and tasty – the perfect combination for a weeknight dinner. You are welcome! Bacon Cheeseburger Skillet Casserole 2 teaspoons vegetable oil 1 package (16 ounces) frozen potatoes, peppers, and onions (I used Trader Joe’s brand, but any Potatoes O’Brien style mix would work) 1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded, cored, and diced 1 cup vegetarian beef-style grounds 5 slices tempeh bacon, diced 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper 1/2 cup dairy-free cheddar shreds 1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add potato blend, cooking from frozen, and bell pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes. 2. Add in grounds, tempeh bacon, parsley, and salt. Stir, and continue cooking until the potatoes begin to turn golden, about 8 minutes. Top with dairy free shreds, and cook for about 1 more minute. Serve while warm.

Natural Cleaning Products

With a busy family, a Great Dane, and summer just beginning, I was thrilled to have a chance to try Unique Natural Cleaning Products. They are all natural, safe for use around children and pets, and have no harsh chemicals or scary ingredients. Plus, they are so reasonable and easy to use. I had a chance to try the Pet Odor & Stain Eliminator, Unique Complete Stain & Odor Remover, and the Super Digest-It Safe Drain Opener. The Super Digest-It was simply wonderful. I have longer hair and tend to shed a lot in the summer (sometimes it feels like it never ends). Sadly, this means that I often have to deal with a slower sink. The Super Digest-It Safe Drain Opener, however, worked like a charm and cleared out our sink so easily (just put it in the sink at night with some water, and when you wake up in the morning, you have a clean, clear drain). The Unique Complete Stain & Odor Remover was awesome as well – I was shocked at how well it worked at cleaning up the dirt that my dog tracked in from the back yard. The natural formula can clean up everything from grass stains and red wine to coffee and body odors. It is ultra concentrated, so a little goes a long way. Because I loved the other two products so much, I am pleased to offer a giveaway of the Pet Odor & Stain Eliminator. Just subscribe to Shelfishness e-mails (make sure to confirm your subscription in order to be eligible), or leave a comment on any post this week to get an entry. All entries must be received by June 20th and only U.S. residents are eligible for this giveaway. There will be one lucky winner of the Unique Natural Pet Odor & Stain Eliminator, but all others may visit Unique Natural Productsto explore the other products.

Always Watching

In Always Watching, Dr. Nadine Lavoie works in a psychiatric hospital in Victoria, B.C. where she moved after losing her husband to cancer and her daughter to drugs on the street. Although Nadine is confident and capable, she is caught off guard when a patient, Heather, is brought in after a suicide attempt. Heather, a beautiful young woman who recently left a commune and experienced a miscarriage, captures Nadine’s attention. After deep conversations with Heather, it becomes obvious that the commune which she fled from is the second iteration of a commune that Nadine’s mom had brought her as a child. Nadine never fully recovered from the methods used at the commune, and has had intense claustrophobia since that time, so when Heather begins to explain her concerns and fears about leaving the commune, Nadine’s interest is piqued. After a tragic event involving Heather, Nadine becomes determined to unravel her own feelings and secrets from the past, but quickly realizes that she may be in over her head. Nadine realizes that there may be a connection between the commune that Heather just left and hear early childhood trauma, centering around the charismatic and demanding leader, Aaron. Nadine is a character who is both hard to like and incredibly relatable; she is brilliant and foolish. Although Chevy Stevens wrote Always Watching to be a compelling read, and it will keep you up at night, it is also is easy to get frustrated with Nadine and view her as selfish. Always Watching is a good story and is original in that it blends some hard-to-tackle themes into a suspenseful story. Plus, having been to Vancouver Island, it was wonderful to see the local flair throughout the story.

Plum Blueberry Smoothie

Since recently getting a Vitamix, I have been thrilled with all of the yummy concoctions that we have whipped up. This one, though, is a new favorite because it blends veggies and fruit into one thick, creamy, smoothie that is better than dessert. Plum Blueberry Smoothie 3/4 cup non-dairy milk 18 to 20 red grapes 1 apple, quartered 2 cups baby kale 1 medium carrot, cut into 4 pieces lengthwise 3 purple plums, halved and pitted 1 cup frozen blueberries 1 frozen banana, halved 1 cup frozen pineapple 3 to 4 ice cubes 1. Pour all ingredients into a high-powered blender in the order listed above. Slowly turn through to high and blend for about 1 minute or until smooth.

Sparkle Factory

Tarina Tarantino has built an empire on glitz and glamor, so it is no wonder that her book The Sparkle Factory reflects this. With how-to’s, brilliant photos, and lots of charm, The Sparkle Factory is a gem of a book. Walking readers through her business from the time it was a dream to today’s global accessories brand, Tarantino shows how simple and inspiring making jewelry and accessories can be. You are led through the inspiration, design, planning, and creation stages; before you know it, you are making dazzling and totally unique pieces. Using simple finds (dollar store barrettes, thrift shop costume jewelry, polymer clay, etc.), anyone can fashion bracelets, necklaces, headbands and more. Plus, Tarantino shows how easy it is to make your own unique pieces. Even first time crafters will find something that they must make whether it be the Tokyo Toy Store Matinee Necklace, the Sweet Shop Earrings, the Jubilee Stretch Ring, or the Sparkle Factory Spectacles. The Sparkle Factory is a great guide for both the dreamers and the doers!

Vegan Slow Cooker

As many of you know, the easier it is to make a healthy and delicious recipe, the better. That is why when I had a chance to read Vegan Slow Cooker: Easy Delicious, Nutritious Hands-Off Cooking for Busy People by Dana Winters, I was thrilled. It is jam-packed with simple slow cooker recipes that are amazing and well worth trying, and even though we are getting into summer, there is nothing better than being able to enjoy time outdoors and come into a meal ready to go at dinner time. Recipes like Vegan Hot and Sour Soup, Garden Green Tea Soup, and Smoky Refried Bean Soup lead the way, but the book is not just a bunch of soup recipes. It also features Vegan Irish Stew, Sweet Potato Chili, Vegan Mac and Cheese, and Quinoa Casserole. My favorite section, however, would have to be the desserts which are so easy because they are made in your slow cooker and cook while you are outside enjoying the summer sunshine. The Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Slow Cooker Cake is so yummy and the Stuffed Baked Apples make the whole house smell delicious. Because this book is available in e-book format from Amazon, it is super portable and you can take it with you when heading over to a summer cabin or to stay with family and friends. With recipes this good, everyone will love eating vegan.