Tuesday, October 30, 2012

o well

Let me apologize for lack of posts. Life has been very busy recently. The husband has a lot of homework (I know we are too old to be doing homework) and I have my dissertation and other projects to work on. There has been little time for writing cooking or let alone grocery shopping. The only reason we will actually run to the store is because we are out of cat food...

I promise we will be back soon with posts and recipes and hopefully a fridge with stuff in it (we are even out of garlic, I don't remember when that happened last)...

On a side note, I got a real job! Full-time with benefits and all. After years and years of education finally a real proper income. :)

Take care and be safe!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Soup, Soup, Cauliflower Soup: Recipe Monday

On Sunday, the temperature suddenly dropped in the heart of Texas and we got the chills. The husband and I spent some time outside mowing the lawn, then grocery shopping, and then it was time for dinner. I felt like soup, well because I WAS COLD. And we had a head of cauliflower in the fridge that needed to be eaten very soon. I had recently read/watched a recipe for Cream of Cauliflower soup over on Food Wishes and I thought I would give it my own vegan twist. The soup was creamy, filling and made me feel so much more comfortable.

Here is what you will need to make this comfy fall soup:

  • a glob of olive oil
  • 1/2 a onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 potato, peeled and quartered
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cleaned (remove outer leaves) and cut into chunks
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or stock
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • a splash of soy milk,about 1/3 cup (or regular milk if you prefer, you can also use cream)
  • salt
  • cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  1. In a large pot, heat up the olive oil over medium heat and add in the chopped onion and celery with a generous pinch of salt. Let the veggies soften for about 5 minutes.
  2. When the onion is translucent, add in the garlic (no need for chopping), potato and cauliflower. Add the veggie stock/broth and the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Then let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes until the potato is soft.
  3. Use a stick blender to puree the mixture to a smooth soup. We don't own a stick blender, so I used a regular blender to puree the soup. For that make sure to follow this method so that you and your kitchen don't get hurt*: Fill the blender only half way, put the lid on but remove the lid cap. Fold a couple sheets of paper towel and place it over the small opening in the lid. Now start to pulse the mixture in very short bursts so that the heat can escape. After pulsing the mixture about ten times you can carefully blend it on a slightly higher setting until smooth. I pureed the soup in three stages. After everything is nice and smooth, pour the soup back into the pot and return it to the stove over low heat.
  4. Season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste, add the pinch of nutmeg and the soy milk, stir and then taste to see whether you need to adjust the seasoning.

And there you have it. Serve it with toasted bread and enjoy :)

* The husband and I got burned pretty badly a couple of times when I made broccoli cream cheese soup a few years back. We used the blender and did not remove the little lid cap so the steam in the blender built up and eventually lifted the lid off the blender splashing us (and the kitchen) with hot green soup. It was a mess...   Eventually I stopped making the soup although we both enjoyed it, because it was just not worth the pain and the clean up was awful (when we moved out of the apartment where the exploding soup incident happened, we found soup residue on the inside of one of the cabinets...). With the method described above you should be safe. Just make sure to be careful when pureeing hot soup in a blender!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Net Debt - October 2012

Student loans: -$81,318.21 (-$2,710.61)
Car loan: $0
Revolving Credit card debt: $0.
Mortgage: -$135,393.86   (+$212.22)
Total Debt: -$216712.07 214,213.68 (-2,498.39)

After some further digging around, it seems that one of my student loans have jumped up about $2,700 for no known reason. The only reason I can think of is that I've received a letter stating my loan was sold to another company. I'll have to get back to everyone on this next time around to see if this is the source of the spike.  But this is why it's so important to keep on top of your loans and see what's going on with them all!

We're still plugging away putting money away on the student loan, about $100 a month which isn't much right now, but it all helps and I can't wait until the day it is all done and gone!

Last month we were saving for a new garage door opener from amazon, the Chamberlain Whisper Drive Garage Door Opener.  And last month, I found a rock thrown at our car while it was parked in the driveway and while I'm sure it was an accident, the dent is small in the side of the car and wasn't seemed to be aimed at a window to steal things, I decided to push forward the savings and do with what we had and I'll try to offset the rest later. So in the few month experiment, we were able to save $164.93 ($124.93 from CC rewards and $40 from surveys). And I'm confident I could have saved maybe an extra $10-20 more if I was more active with the surveys, however, I was overworked and didn't have the time to continue.  The end result is that the opener actually cost $248, so we 2/3 of the cost in a relative short period, which isn't too bad I think.  In the next week or so I'll install it and we should be good to go!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Homemade Vegan Ice Pops - Recipe Monday

Do you feel guilty when you walk to your freezer with a spoon and take out that half gallon of ice cream? Well, forget the spoon and forget the guilt and make these instead: Mostly guilt-free ice pops with way fewer ingredients (and calories) than your regular ice cream. It's so easy, plus you not only get ice pops you can eat in a few hours you also get a milk shake you can indulge in right away :)

Here is what you will need:
- 2 handfuls strawberries & raspberries (or your choice of fruit - I currently have strawberries & banana ice pops in my freezer)
- a splash of Maple syrup (or honey if you prefer)
- plain soy milk (I am sure vanilla would be great, too or almond milk)

- A blender
- ice pop molds (we bought ours at our local grocery store for less than $5, have a look around)

How to make yummy ice pops and a very yummy milk shake/smoothie, too:

  1. Prepare your fruit. Wash the berries and remove the stems from the strawberries and then cut them in half. Put the berries in the blender.
  2. Add some soy milk (start with half a cup) and start to blend the fruits and milk together until smooth (you may have to add more milk depending on the power of your blender).
  3. Add a drizzle or a splash of Maple syrup depending on how sweet you would like it to be. Then add more soy milk and blend until it has reached the desired consistency. You want it to be smooth and drinkable but definitely not too runny. - Taste as you go.
  4. Pour mixture into the ice pop molds and pop them into the freezer. In a couple of hours you can enjoy your homemade ice pops :)
  5. Drink up the rest of the mixture as a yummy and healthy treat.

This is very easy and if you are willing to experiment a little you will end up with an awesome treat. The smoothie/milk shake on it's own is very satisfying and the ice pops make a great and refreshing treat.