Thursday, May 4, 2023

On Vacation

Hi everyone- If you are reading this, I have already left for my Mediterranean Cruise and then trip to Israel.

 I'm not sure if I will be able to post while I'm traveling. If I can, I'll share my photos.. 

Thanks for stopping by and I'll be back in June!!

I will check the comments page!

person wearing red jacket and blue denim jeans pulling luggage bag while walking on pathway

Monday, May 1, 2023

Hummus Appetizer With Mushrooms, Onions, and Chickpeas

Food, Hummus, Parsley, Paprika

Hummus with warm chickpeas, mushrooms, and onions makes a tasty appetizer that will keep your guests coming back for more. 

hummus with mushrooms and onions
I forgot to take a photo when I made the warm appetizer;
this photo is after serving 

Sunday night we were invited to a cocktail party, and I was asked to make and bring "crispy mushrooms and hummus." I said that I would be glad to make it, but I wasn't familiar with how to make crispy mushrooms. The host shared that she had seen the recipe in the New York Times.

Onion, Chopping Board, Food, Vegetables

I was not able to locate the recipe, but I did find a few other recipes on the Internet that sounded similar.  This is my own recipe based on the sound of the name. 

My mushrooms and onions were sautéed and soft, but everyone seemed to like the final product. I also topped my hummus with chickpeas and pine nuts.

Mushroom, Mushrooms, Fresh, Meal

In the past, I've made a spectacular hummus appetizer that called for spreading the homemade hummus on a plate and then topping it with sliced olives, halved cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and pimentos. 

I now make a oil-free hummus that I used this time. 

I served this delicious warm appetizer with crudite of sliced cucumbers and baby carrots and some gluten free chips. 

How I made it:
  • First I made my homemade hummus. oil-free hummus
  • Next, I sautéed onions and mushrooms using vegetable broth 
  • When done, I spread the hummus on a flat plate  
  • Topped it with warm sautéed onions and mushrooms
  • Added pine nuts and served while warm 
  • For myself, I do not use oil- however I did drizzle with oil for the cocktail party 
I sprinkled with a little garlic powder, salt, cracked pepper, and cumin - I thought about about red pepper flakes but held back.

The hummus was room temperature and the toppings were warm.

White Window photo and picture

Friday, April 28, 2023

Our Favorite 3 Ingredient Salad-

tomato cucumber salad

Salad is a staple in our home. We enjoy a nightly salad with our dinner. Sometimes I use lettuce/greens as a base and sometimes I don't. This easy salad is one of my favorites and does not contain any lettuce greens and is made with just 3 basic ingredients. 

Vegetables, Greek Salad, Tomatoes

I originally started making this salad in the summer when tomatoes were flooding the farmer's markets, but I also find wonderful tomatoes "on the vine" available all winter in the supermarkets and Costco or I use flavorful cherry tomatoes.  They make a tasty salad as well. 

Tomatoes, Vegetables, Red, Ripe, Raw

I love the contrast of colors, the flavors, and ease of making this salad. It goes well with almost any meal and lends itself to adding other optional items such as olives, chickpeas, or even radishes. 

Cucumber, Food, Vegetable

I find that when I am in a rush or really hungry, I tend to want to forget about making salad because I don't feel like washing and drying the lettuce or greens. 
These few ingredients are easy to wash and cut up which makes salad making easy.

Free photos of Onion

tomato salad, onion, cucumber

tomato, olive, and onions

No need to skip a healthy salad when this one is so easy to make!

You can also add more items such as sliced olives, fresh herbs (dill, mint or basil) radishes, chopped orange peppers, avocado, or any other vegetable you like. 

I often eat it with my homemade Russian dressing

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Homemade Russian Dressing -Vegan and Oil-Free

salad, tomatoes, cucumber, onion

One of my favorite salad dressings is Russian dressing. When I was young, my mom used to make her own by mixing mayonnaise and ketchup. It was that simple! I loved the look and the taste of that creamy colored pink dressing.

Russian dressing; vegan, oil-free

I still do, but I no longer eat mayonnaise that is made from eggs. I've been making my own homemade vegan tofu mayonnaise that I literally whip up in seconds in my NutriBullet.

tofu mayonaise

One day I realized that I could use my tofu mayonnaise to make Russian dressing just like my mom used to make. I tried it, and was pleased with the results. Now, despite eating plant-based, oil-free, diet, I can still enjoy Russian dressing on my salads.

ketchup and mayo in a bowl

tomato, onion, olives

Russian Dressing is Not Russian, but it does have a history.

The recipe originated in New Hampshire in the early 1920's and had nothing do with Russia.  The grocer who introduced Russian dressing waJames E. Colburn  who sold it to hotel chains. 

The recipe possibly may have been called "Russian dressing" because a tablespoon of caviar was sometimes added to the recipe.

I made my dressing vegan and oil-free with just tofu mayo (quick, easy, recipe) and ketchup. I love it on salad. 

This recipe is perfect if you or your guests eat plant-based, egg-free, dairy-free, or oil-free. 

slice tomatoes and onions

2/3 cup of tofu mayonnaise
1/3 cup of ketchup (I buy sugar-free)

Blend the tofu mayo and ketchup with a spoon until creamy. Use with your favorite salad. 

Did your mom make Russian dressing when you were young? 

Ceramic, Teacup, Tea, Cup, Drink

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Pack in a Carry On For a 5 Week vacation

How Do I pack in a carry on for a 5 week vacation? 

Very carefully and minimally. Less is better! I am only using one carry on and a personal bag! 

a couple of luggage bags on a table

My friend Noreen is a world traveler and very experienced packer. She has been coaching me about which essentials to take and how to pack most effectively, efficiently, and all in one carry on and personal bag. At first I thought it couldn't be done, but I'm now convinced not only that it can be done- I'm doing it! 

Dresses, Apparel, Clothing, Clothes

I know I always bring more than I really need yet I tend to gravitate to my favorite outfits multiple times and come home with pants I never wore but still carried for the entire trip. We will do laundry and make it work.

Makeup Brushes, Makeup, Brushes

Neither my husband or I are in any condition to carry heavy suitcases or large suitcases, so we have to make this work.

Guell Park, Barcelona, Spain, Catalonia
Guell Park- Gaudi 

Our first stop will be Barcelona (we have been there before). I am spending an overnight in Barcelona and then boarding a Celebrity cruise ship for a 16 day cruise in France, Italy, and Spain. 

Cruise Ship, Night, Port, Ship

The cruise will end and deliver us to Rome where we will spend 3 days exploring the beautiful famous city. 

Rome, Vatican, City, Italy, Tiber
Vatican City at night

 From Rome we are flying to Israel for 2 weeks. 
 Total Trip : 5 weeks

  • Underwear: Wash it every night. 
  • Noreen suggests 3 pairs of underpants (2 white, 1 black) and two bras (white and black). If I wash it in the sink every night, it's plenty!

  • Pants: 
  • 1 white , 1 black, 1 jeans (which you wear on the plane and don't pack)

  • Dresses: 
  • Only light simple material -I packed 3 which is too many I'm sure (according to Noreen) 
  • 2 black and one white
  • 1 black, 1 white, 2 multicolored design
  •  4 dressy tops for the pants for dinners 
  •  5 t- shirt types for skorts for day activities
  • Wear my walking sneakers
  •  Pair of low heals, pair of sandals, pair of water shoes
Hair Blower: 
  • This is a splurge- I have a hair blower with a brush attached to it that is an absolute for me- no questions asked. I is a game changer for my hair.
  • blush, moisturizer with tint, mascara 
  • vegan multi vitamin
  • Zicam (a zinc and vitamin C supplement) that works for me at the start of a cold. Love it!!I take it before boarding a plane, cruise, or 1st sign of a sore throat or sniffle. 
Alcohol wipes, purse size hand sanitizer, Advil, thermometer, 4 laundry pods, a travel size container of liquid laundry detergent for underwear washing. 

What's your view? 
How do you pack ? Do you pack light or do you like to bring lots of stuff? 

Tips for light packing: 

Packing in a carry-on is not only convenient, but it can also save you money on checked baggage fees and prevent lost luggage.

  1. Check the cruise line's dress code: Check the dress code for the cruise line you will be sailing with. This will give you an idea of what to pack and what to leave behind. Most cruise lines have formal and semi-formal nights, so be sure to pack a dressy outfit or two.However, I am finding that dress up nights also have more casual options. My husband in not bringing a sports jacket- just too bulky.

  2. Stick to a color scheme: To make it easier to mix and match your outfits, stick to a color scheme. For example, you could pack mostly neutral colors like black, white, and beige, and add in some pops of color with accessories like scarves or jewelry. I'm doing black and white color scheme. 

    Jewelry: I never bring expensive jewelry. I buy a wedding band in TJ Max that I won't care if I loose and a cubic zirconia necklace for nightwear. 

  3. Pack versatile clothing: To save space in your carry-on, pack clothing that can be worn in multiple ways.

  4. Bring comfortable walking shoes: You'll likely be doing a lot of walking during your trip, so it's important to bring comfortable shoes. Sneakers or comfortable walking sandals are a good choice. Wear the sneakers on the plane since they are the heaviest shoes.

  5. Pack travel-sized toiletries: To save space in your carry-on, pack travel-sized toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. You can also purchase these items when you arrive at your destination.

  6. Use packing cubes: Packing cubes can help you organize your clothing and maximize space in your carry-on. Roll your clothing tightly and place them in the cubes, then stack the cubes in your bag. Rolling really creates more space!

  7. Laundry: If you're going to be on a 2-week cruise, you may have access to laundry facilities. If not, you could consider packing a small amount of laundry detergent and washing your clothes in your hotel sink.

  8. Pack a collapsible tote bag: A collapsible tote bag can be a lifesaver for carrying items on excursions or carrying souvenirs back to your cabin. When not in use, it can be folded up and stored in your carry-on.

  9. Travel documents: Make sure you have all the necessary travel documents, like your passport, visas, and cruise itinerary

    If needed, the cruise ship and all of the ports sell clothing. My husband likes to buy a hat or t-shirt as a souvenir from the trip- so we do not pack any.

Monday, April 17, 2023

75% OFF EASTER Cookies and Candy

Can you divide by 2 in your head? 
This post is a rant, so if you are not in the mood just skip it!

This morning I entered our local supermarket and saw a large display of Easter candy and related items spread across a large table with a sign that read 75% off! 

I like a bargain, so I stopped and took a look. I found some cute boxes of cookies that were originally $4.48 marked down price of $2.24. 

When it rang up at that price, I mentioned to the 19 year old (-ish) cashier that $2.24 was only a 50% reduction off of $4.48, not the 75% as marked. 

Woman, Girl, Percent, Prices, Shopping

She looked at the item and said, "no- that is the 75% off the original price of $4.48" We went back and forth a few times and I was AMAZED that she was not able to calculate that $2.24 was 50% of $4.48. She insisted that it was 75% off of the original price of $4.48. She was very pleasant and nice about it- but she was also convinced it was the right price. She did suggest that I could talk to a manager. 

Just, Split, Through, To Divide
Is it me?? Will this new generation not be able to do ANY math in their heads? I don't think she even knew that dividing by 2 is the same as 50%

Calculator, Numbers, Accounting, Finance

As I said, this post is a  rant -but I am curious if you have any thoughts to share. Thanks.

In case you are curious. I did not buy the cookies. We are better off not eating them, and I didn't want to wait for a manager. It was 7 AM and staffing was light, if almost not existent. 

I am assuming that the sign for 75% off was recently changed from 50% off, but no one bothered to reprice the merchandise. 

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Egyptian Lemon Zucchini With Mint and Wilted Cherry Tomatoes

zucchini, vegan, cherry tomatoes

Do you love zucchini? This lemony zucchini with mint side dish is a unique family recipe which I consider company worthy. 

I know it sounds odd to use mint with zucchini, but together with the lemon, it creates a wonderful flavor. You'll have to trust me on this one.
Zucchini, Green, Vivid, Vegetable 

Zucchini with mint is a specialty dish in Egypt called Kousa NaNa. My mother-in-law, from Cairo, Egypt, introduced me to this amazing dish when I first joined the family. 

Vegetable, Zucchini, Organic, Healthy

I make it in a rimmed skillet with garlic, lemon juice, cherry tomatoes and fresh and dried mint. 
Sautéed onions are optional- I don't use them.
 I use green or yellow squash- whatever is available. 

kousa, vegan, vegetable,

It cooks quickly and tastes delicious. Zucchini is low in fat and calories but high in valuable nutrients. 
Everyone can enjoy this gluten-free, vegan, oil-free recipe.

yellow squash, vegan, vegetable

Simple vegetable sides can be delicious, healthy and require minimal effort such as this zucchini dish! Make green or yellow squash or mix the squash together. 

3 medium green or yellow zucchini, washed and sliced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
optional: 1 cup of sliced (in half moons) onions 
2 cups of cherry tomatoes of any color or shape
1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice 
Salt and cracked pepper 
1/2 cup of chopped fresh mint (of 2 tablespoons of dried mint) 

Use a large skillet with rim. Place skillet over medium heat and add garlic (and optional onions).  Stir for a few minutes to sauté in 1/4 cup of water. Add cherry tomatoes, lemon juice, and fresh mint. Add additional water by the 1/2 cup as needed to prevent burning. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on medium heat to allow zucchini to soften. When done, sprinkle with dried mint and serve. 

The other night, we had an arugula and tomato salad with a tad of gluten free noodles at a new local Italian restaurant from Naples. Delicious.. 

Free Salad Food photo and picture

Monday, April 3, 2023

Spring Asparagus Soup - Instant Pot and Vegan

Do you love asparagus? 
Make this asparagus soup to celebrate the beginning of spring. 

I was shopping in the local supermarket and noticed that asparagus were now in season and on sale! I got a little carried away and purchased more than I really could use up. We had them as a side vegetable two nights in a row but I still had a pound and half left over.  I decided to make soup.

Asparagus, Vegetables, Food

With a growing season of about 6 weeks, asparagus are in their prime in the early spring. I love to advantage of them while they are still tender and crisp.

Potatoes, Root, Vegetables

I developed this soup recipe using asparagus, zucchini, onion, and potatoes. When blended, the soup comes out creamy, green, and flavorful.

Potato Soup, Potato, Soup, Wild Garlic

It's a wonderful group of vegetables that are low in fat yet high in valuable nutrients and of course is gluten-free and vegan.

I simply toss everything into the Instant Pot, secure the lid, set it to cook for 10 minutes. When done, I remove the lid and blend with an immersion blender. EASY!!

I'm thinking about making this plant-based soup for Passover this year. It would also make a wonderful soup for Easter. 

1.5 pounds of asparagus, washed and stems snapped
2 cups of chopped potatoes
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 bay leaf
4 cups of vegetable broth
3 cups of water
Salt to taste

Toss everything into the Instant Pot. Secure lid. Set to pressure cook for 10 minutes. When done, allow to sit for 5 minutes. Then release steam manually according to manufacturers directions. When all steam is released, remove lid and using an immersion blender ( remove bay leaf first) blend until creamy. 

Flowers, Landscape, Nature, Seasons

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Pineapple Confetti Salsa Served In A Pineapple

Got a pineapple? It's party time with pineapple confetti salsa served in a scooped out pineapple!!

Free Chips Tortilla photo and picture
This interesting salsa goes great with (gluten-free) chips, mixed with cooked rice, or as a topping for grilled tofu. 

Doesn't it look pretty and perfect for holiday entertaining ? Whether for Easter or for Passover, your guests will love it! 

I love it because it's full of healthy ingredients such as enzymes for digestion, antioxidants for immune boosting, and valuable vitamins.  

Fruit, Golden, Healthy Food, Pineapple

I very seldom buy a whole pineapple because I find it difficult to cut and serve. But this wasn't too unmanageable. I simply cut the pineapple in half lengthwise and then used a paring knife to cut around the edges before I scooped out the pulp. The empty pineapple became a serving piece.

Pineapple, Sweetness, Yummy, Dessert

This delicious pineapple salsa is a simple recipe calling for a variety of fresh vegetables such as chopped tomatoes, chopped red onion, diced orange or yellow bell pepper, chopped cilantro (or parsley), some optional fresh lime juice and optional jalapeño peppers. Of course, don't forget the diced pineapple.

Tomatoes, Red, Vegetable, Healthy

I like to make this salsa mixture and then combine it with cooked brown rice for a tasty vegan side dish. Traditionally this type of salsa is eaten with fish - such as salmon.

Red, Pepper, Yellow, Orange, Bell

1 large pineapple
2 cups of pineapple, diced small
2 medium tomatoes, diced small
1 cup of diced yellow or orange bell pepper, diced small
1 cup of diced red onion
1/2 cup of chopped cilantro or parsley
Optional: 1/4 cup of diced jalapeño peppers 
Fresh lime juice if desired (I didn't)
Cut a pineapple lengthwise and cut out the pineapple pulp leaving the pineapple shell for serving.  
Assemble all of the ingredients in a bowl. Toss well and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes. Stuff the pineapple before serving, draining any liquid if necessary. 

My friend Noreen made this pineapple salsa at a dinner party at her house.