Merry Christmas To All!

May your Christmas be full of loving, sharing and giving. Peace on Earth and good will to men. May your thoughts and words be full of cheer. May peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through!

Cooking Ahead: Mason Jar Meals

Looking ahead into each work week, I have to cook ahead. I may seem mad to some, but I promise, there is a method to my madness.

At the end of each weekend, if someone were to look into my refrigerator, they would think I need admitted for OCD. Each shelf perfectly lined with mason jars filled with food. Larger ones with grains or salads. Medium size with soups or stews. Small jars with sauces and sides. Tiny ones (on the lucky special treat weeks) with desserts, such as beetroot pots de créme.

Our little family just doesn't eat sandwiches. We're not the usual lunch suspects. Being a vegan is much more planning than that. Also, with our crazy schedules, as Husband and I pass in the night, we need meals that can be easily accessible and can grab on the go.

Back to my madness — each weekend I dedicate a {half} day to planning out a week of breakfasts (which almost always are steel cut oats), lunches and dinners; grocery shopping; cooking; and finally dividing each of the meals into individual servings, in mason jars. This is the perfect solution for our family.

Personally, I don't find this to be madness. I find my life prior to mason jar meals to be mad....Early morning before darting out the door, we would chop, mix and fly around the kitchen leaving it an utter mess for later on. That life was stressful. I like my mason jar life now.

You're probably also wondering why on earth would I spend a day off of work cooking. Why not just go out to eat more often or grab lunch in the cafeteria? Well, my answer for you is, this way I know my husband and I are eating healthy and delicious meals. It really is simple: prep and cook your meals, place into individual serving size jars, screw on the lid and TA DA! Ready for a week full of deliciousness. I've also found that we waste much less food when all the meals are prepped ahead of time, which makes my wallet smile.

I use a variety of sizes, as mentioned above. I purchase them at my local market but also can be ordered through  They're fabulous, dishwasher safe, doesn't contain funky plastic toxins, stain-proof, helps control portions, and just make life easier! I use mason jars for so many things, not just food containers. Use your imagination — there are so many uses!

How do you get your family fed and out the door during the week? Are you making a new years resolution to get a better system in place for feeding your family wholesome meals?

New Year Resolutions

Ahhh yes, the infamous "New Year Resolution" blog post. But this year it is different than before. Each passing year provides new perspectives. Thankfully, right? There are so many resolution lists going around and each about a page long...lose weight, improve your diet, hit the gym consistently, you know...the cliché lists...that really, if we're being honest, aren't very practical.

I want 2014 to be the year of the practical resolution.

I know, I know, "practical" sounds boring. Don't we want a life of adventure? Yes, but that is not what I'm talking about here. I am talking about improving ourselves each year. Finding ways to make ourselves better and in-turn creating a legacy for those who will follow us.


Have you ever taken the time to figure out what legacy you want to leave? A very long time ago, on my old blog, I wrote about the "dash story," you can read it here. What do you want your dash to be?

You tell me your resolution is to lose 10 pounds in 2014....what legacy will you leave? You want people to remember you as skinny? Don't get me wrong, a healthy weight is very important to our daily well-being but I encourage you...stretch yourselves in 2014. Think about your legacy. Think about your dash.

Maybe your resolution is to get your finances in order — or eliminate debt because you want your children to have successful and financially sound parents so they have a healthy view of money.

Or maybe you want to resolve to follow your true passion. I once read that the thing you do while procrastinating is maybe the thing that you should actually be doing. What do you do in your free time for pleasure? Maybe that small side project should be something bigger — start a small business! Show your kids that passions matter.

Or maybe...You fill in the blank: ___________________________________________.

Whatever your practical resolution is for 2014, I encourage you to share it with others. Keep yourself accountable.

For 2014 I am going through the Storyline program and putting myself on a strict schedule to keep track of my time. My goal is to create my life plan and create clarity. I want 2014 to be the year that I take my focus off all the life chaos and hone in on my blog work. 2014 will be the year that I keep a strict schedule that allows me to get the most out of each and every day.

Okay folks, there are only 15 days left until the New Year. What is your practical resolution? Share below, I'd love to hear what your plans are for 2014!


Vegan Mac & Cheese

Back when I was a simple lacto-vegetarian, I would usually make one or two dishes of mac & cheese throughout the winter...the perfect creamy comfort dish. After becoming vegan, quite a few years back, I had seen versions of mac & "cheese" and decided my hand at it. I poured over numerous recipes over the internet, headed out to Whole Foods and filled my basket with the necessary ingredients. I got home, made the dish but couldn't bear to take a bite. It looked a bit funny and the "cheese" smelled weird. Of course my dear husband was supportive and ate it all (by masking the taste with hot sauce). End of story, it was an awful experience and in all these years I have not even come close to trying another mac & cheese recipe...Until now.

{for the pasta}
2 t. sea salt
1 lb. pipette rigate or you can use the traditional elbow macaroni
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 t chopped garlic
2 T fresh thyme leaves
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

{for the sauce}
3 c unsweetened soy milk
4-6 sprigs fresh thyme
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3 T Earth Balance (vegan butter)
3 T all purpose flour
1 c savory soy cream (see recipe below)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2.5 c shredded Daiya vegan mozzarella cheese
2.5 c shredded Daiya vegan cheddar cheese
2 t crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 c panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

{for the savory soy cream}
1 c cold unsweetened soy milk
2 c canola oil
1 to 1.5 T apple cider vinegar
minced garlic, for seasoning

Savory Soy Cream
Put the milk in a powerful blender. With the machine running, drizzle the oil very slowly until it is thoroughly blended with the milk. Continue blending for another minute or so, until the mixture has the consistency of heavy cream.

Pour mixture into a medium bowl and whisk in the vinegar and garlic to taste.

For any savory soy cream that is unused: Store the cream in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge for up to a week. It will firm up to about the consistency of mayo. Re-whip it with a whisk to return it to its original texture, adding a bit more milk if needed.

Now onto the good stuff — mac & cheese — vegan style!

To make the pasta, bring a large pot of water and salt to boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions, until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and thyme leaves and cook for about 5 minutes or until the onion is soft. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

To make the sauce, in a small saucepan over medium heat, health the milk with the thyme and garlic until hot but not boiling, about 7 minutes. Strain out the solids using a fine-mesh sieve and set the milk aside.

Melt the Earth Balance in a dutch oven over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Make sure this roux doesn't darken. Turn down the heat if it's in danger of browning.

Whisk the milk into the roux. Continue to whisk over medium-low heat until the roux is smooth, about 1 minute more. Stir in the soy cream (recipe above) until it is thoroughly incorporated, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove pan from the heat.

Add the cooked pasta, 4 cups of the cheese and the red pepper flakes, and fold together until the pasta is coated. {If you made this in a pan, transfer into a large baking dish, if not, go ahead and bake in your dutch oven} Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese and onion mixture over the top, then dust with the panko and a shake or two of red pepper flakes. Bake until the mac is bubbly, crispy on top and heated through, about 30 minutes.

{see my new Le Creuset?!?}

Recipe is a variation from Makini Howell's new cookbook Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle's Plum Bistro.

Back to the beginning of this I made some bad vegan mac & cheese before. When I saw this recipe in my new cookbook I decided to take the risk because I haven't had mac & cheese in years and the photo looked SO good. I'm so glad I decided to re-venture out into the vegan mac & cheese world because this dish rocks! So creamy, comforting and satisfying. I think one of the biggest secrets is buying a good brand of vegan cheese.

Have you ever made anything that was just awful but decided to try it again and the dish was a success? Share your experiences, I'd love to hear!

A Family Christmas

Silence...the doorbell rings and then our home burst into noise and excitement. The tree twinkling, candles glowing, the table set, gifts wrapped and Christmas tunes floating throughout conversation.


This weekend Husband and I hosted our first Christmas in the new home. It was tight, it was loud but it was so yummy. We talked until all subjects were discussed. We ate until we couldn't move an inch. The kids played until meltdown. I'd say it was a fully lived out family Christmas celebration.

When it comes to holidays — it means eating. Especially when you come to my house, all guests must leave fat and happy. This year's menu was focused around warmth and heartiness. Nothing says cozy winter more than a creamy, steaming hot pot-pie or the smell of hot pear-cinnamon cider wafting throughout the air.


Pistachio Pomegranate Salad — an old recipe of mine

Crock-pot "Baked" Apples — this was an experiment that turned out well! I'll have to share the recipe soon.

And what is a holiday without a pup in an ugly Christmas sweater?

Well the sun is rising and everyone will be waking soon. Time to start another fun-filled family day! What do your family celebrations look like in your home? What is on your menu for holiday parties this year?

What is Christmas. It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace. — Agnes M. Pahro

Slow Season


People talk about their "slow seasons." Can someone please tell me when slow season is? Because if I knew I'd be jumping on that train — like today! Slow season...pffff...I think it must be a fictional thing. Or maybe I picked the wrong life. Or maybe slow season just isn't in my personality type. All I know is there is no such thing as slow season — ever. I look back about five years ago and I can see a glimpse of slow, but it is far in the distance, I can barely get a glimpse or remembrance of it.

People talk about "in the new year, when things slow down..." What?! Please sign me up for that life track. Really, slow? You're going to tell me that is still a thing?

As I type this blog post, I look around me...there is a pen, pliers, hammer, bills, a bag of chips, Christmas gift labels and a mug of lukewarm coffee. My life is anything but slow.

Rushing from crazy 2014 strategic planning at work to Thanksgiving travels to Christmas and straight into a brand new shiny year. Whew! Do you feel any slow in that?

My concern without slow season is that I may be missing the true meaning of the holiday season. Thankfulness at Thanksgiving. A Savior being born at Christmas. Time with loved ones. The splendor of it all.

Through this non-slow season I am trying to find a little bit of slow. In my current life, I need to create my own slow. Maybe it is only 30 minutes so sit down a type out a blog post or meet a friend for coffee or to sit in silence and trying revel in the meaning of the holiday season. But, I encourage you to step back for a moment and realize your current busyness and remember, holidays are about experiences and people. It is tuning in to the current moment. Don't focus on the mess and tasks all around you. Remember the reason for the season.

May God bless you during this holiday season and may we keep Him in our hearts all year long.