Easy DIY succulent garden

Easy DIY succulent garden

I was recently part of a gift exchange with a $20 limit.  Being someone who hates excessive waste, the though of buying someone a crap gift just for the sake of buying it felt yucky. In this day there is not much, (aside from books) for $20 or less that isn’t objectively garbage.   I needed something that would not end up in the donation bin in a week.  Coupled with the fact that the exchange would be of a Yankee swap variety, my gift had to be something that would appeal to any member of the group. I was stumped. 

I started at the thrift store…just to get ideas, lol. I ended up leaving with a huge bag of new finds for the shop but I also came across a super interesting wood and glass bowl and the ideas started flowing.  Using a 3.99 thrift store vessel and a few $3 succulents I was able to create a gorgeous gift with mass appeal that everyone wanted to swap for!   

This is a fun easy DIY that is super giftable, gram-able and pinterest worthy.  Succulents are an amazingly easy way to add green to almost any living space.  All they need is a little sun and occasional watering.  You do not need a green thumb to pull this together or keep it alive. 

Just head to your thrift store to find a home for your plants and then to your local plant nursery for a handful of interesting succulents…the rest is easy.  Succulents don’t have a deep root system so a wide shallow container is the perfect vessel for showing them off.  A container with drainage at the bottom is optimal but if you can’t find such a container a thick of layer of pebbles on the bottom of your planter will give those roots some room to breathe.

Succulents prefer soil that is a bit dry and sandy.  You can purchase a bag of succulent soil at your plant nursery or just mix a bit of gravely sand in with whatever potting soil you use at a ratio of about 1:2 in favor of the soil.

You will need:

One pot/ vessel for your garden, thrift shops are the best place to find unique quality items for low prices.

5-6 small assorted succulents

A few cups of small pebbles (I grabbed some from a local park and washed them well)

Soil for succulents

 

Directions:

Fill the bottom of your succulent garden with a thick layer of pebbles an inch or two deep.

Add your succulent soil to the planter so it is about ¾ full.

Arrange your succulents while still in their plastic potting until you settle on an arrangement that you love.

Gently plant your succulents in the soil and fill the rest of the vessel with soil so that it is lightly packed and all the roots are covered.

Top with another fine layer of pebbles if desired.

Put it in a sunny spot and enjoy the view. Water infrequently…about twice a month is just fine

If you enjoyed this simple tutorial please pin and share and let me know in the comments if this inspired you to make your own succulent garden!

Peanut butter and jam cookies

Peanut butter and jam cookies

Peanut butter is one of those foods right up there with chocolate. Creamy, delicious, fattening and all over the place when it comes to health claims. Is it healthy or not? It seems every week new article are published citing health benefits and health concerns pertaining to the stuff.

I’m of the camp that believes a diet rich in variety is the key to health. As long as any allergies or intolerances are avoided, food should be explored, enjoyed and consumed with gratitude. Bottom line… peanut butter is delicious and a girls gotta eat.

These cookies are a childhood favorite reinvented into a perfect little dessert. As with most of my recipes they are free of gluten and dairy but can’t make the claim of being paleo due to the legume-iness of peanuts. They are simple to make, contain just 5 ingredients and come together in a snap.

The jam filling is optional. These cookies really are amazing all on their own, but this rhubarb vanilla jam from Worthy seriously takes them to the next level. This is the best jam I have ever tried. hands. down. and you can order it directly through my friend Ashlee’s etsy shop here. I am not an affiliate for her… I just really like her jam!

Ingredients:

1 cup natural peanut butter

3/4 cup coconut sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp baking soda

Directions :

Preheat your oven to 325

Cream the peanut butter and sugar together. If your peanut butter is unsalted or if you like a bit of extra salt with your sweet you can also add 1/2 tsp fine sea salt (recommended)

Stir in the egg, vanilla and baking soda. It should start to thicken up as it comes together.

Scoop out rough tablespoons of the dough, gently flatten them with a fork to about 1/4 ” thick.

Bake 10 minutes.

Allow to cool fully before spreading with jam and assembling your ‘sandwiches’. They are crumbly when warm but cool into the perfect hold-in-your-hand, soft, chewy cookies that you would expect from even the most glutenous and refined sugar rich recipe.

Some other delicious filling ideas are; Nutella, coconut whip cream or even more peanut butter. If you’re a pb fan, get into the kitchen and make these asap! And if you love them please pin and share.

Tangy vegan cheeze queso

Tangy vegan cheeze queso

This cheezy queso is so good. Flavor wise it’s as close as cheesily possible to the real thing. My kids gobble it up without comment, so it’s definitely good enough to fool the palette of ten years olds. Their dad has them convinced that ‘vegan’ is a homonym for ‘gross’ so I let them happily believe my queso is made with all the animal products and they don’t complain one bit.

When I was young and nutrition was the farthest thing from my mind, I would frequent a popular convenience store for hot dogs and absolutely crush them with chili and queso.  Now I wouldn’t touch a convenience store hot dog if you paid me, and store bought queso is not something you will ever find in my pantry, but that doesn’t mean I cant dip things into a velvety bowl of cheeze sauce when the mood strikes.   

Cutting dairy from my diet has led me to better skin and fewer digestive upsets but I am only human, and sometimes I find myself craving the savory taste of cheese.  Miyokos vegan cheese cookbook is the very first book I ever purchased on Amazon. I’ve played around with a variety of vegan cheeses trying to recreate that authentic cheese flavor.  Some have been pretty good and some have been worthy of the compost bin.  But this queso…this is the business.

Both vegans and non vegans LOVE it.  It can be easily be customized and used as a cheeze sauce for veggies, or vegan mac and cheeze.   It’s not as nut heavy as some other vegan cheeses, making it lower fat and easier on the wallet.

If you have been disappointed with other vegan cheeze sauce or are looking for a new recipe that really is hard to screw up, this is the one.  It is tangy, creamy, smooth, satisfying, and CHEESY. This right here is the answer to all your dairy free prayers.

Tangy vegan cheeze queso

Ingredients:

2 medium potatoes peeled and cubed

1 carrot peeled and cubed

1/2 cup soaked cahsews

2 cups veggie or mushroom stock

1/8 cup nutritional yeast

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp arrowroot starch

2 tbsp canned chillies

1 tbsp chopped pickled jalapenos

Directions:

Peel and cube the potatoes and carrots and simmer in the 2 cups of stock for about 30 minutes or until softened

Use a slotted spoon to remove the boiled veggies from the broth and place in a high powered blender. Allow to cool slightly

Add all the remaining ingredients except for the jalapenos and chilis to the blender and pour 1/2 cup of the reserved stock over the ingredients

Blend on high speed until all the ingredients are combined and become velvety and cheesy in texture.

Season with additional salt, pepper, nutritional yeast and acid to your taste if needed

Pour into a serving bowl and stir in the pickled chilies and jalapenos (feel free to omit for picky eaters)

Serve immediately and enjoy

Sweet and spicy red snapper ceviche

Sweet and spicy red snapper ceviche

My city is going through a major heat wave and cooking in my hot kitchen has become a torturous event.  I woke up this morning dreaming of crisp autumn days which is crazy considering every year winter nearly kills me and spring can’t come soon enough.  Us humans are so hard to please. 

Yesterday I made dinner in the slow cooker but found even just having the appliance running seemed to add unwelcome warmth to an already sweltering kitchen.  Tonight, I decided, dinner will be cold.

People in hot climates understand the misery of cooking on hot days.  Ceviche is a dish commonly enjoyed in South America where days are hot and fish are a’plenty.  It is one of my favorite fish dishes that I find just as satisfying as any hot meal. 

If you are a person who is afraid of sushi or gets squeamish at the though of raw fish, don’t fear.  The fish in ceviche is technically cooked, though no heat is used.  The citrus in the recipe denatures the fish to the point where it becomes texturally similar to cooked fish. 

Ceviche can be made with any white fish, prawns or scallops. Fresh is always better than frozen as it retains a better texture and wont turn mushy on you. I went to my local fish monger for a recommendation and she suggested some fresh red snapper. My ceviche turned out beautiful and was a lot less expensive than some other potential varieties.

I love to eat ceviche with plantain chips or tostones.  Plain old tortilla chips or beans and rice can be a lovely pairing too.  If you’re super low carb or keto, just dig right in with a spoon and enjoy… it’s so good. If you’re vegan, omit the fish and you have a killer pico de gallo on your hands. This is a very versatile recipe that will hit every inch of your taste buds.

Sweet and spicy red snapper ceviche

Ingredients:

3 fillets of snapper or 2.5 cups cubed white fish

4 limes juiced

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tbsp finely diced red onion

2 minced cloves of garlic

1 cubed avocado

1 diced red bell pepper

1 diced jalapeno

1 diced roma tomato

a handful of chopped cilantro

1 cup cubed pineapple or mango

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Season and cube your fish into 1/2 inch peices

Juice the limes and mix with orange juice in a glass or porcelain bowl. There should be about a cup of citrus juice

Add the fish to the citrus, stir to combine, cover and refrigerate for 4-5 hours

An hour before eating chop up the remaining ingredients into a fine dice

Using a slotted spoon scoop the fish out of the citrus juice and toss in with the diced veggies

Spoon 4-5 tbsp of the citrus liquid over the ceviche and stir to combine

Return to the fridge for about an hour to combine the flavours

Season once more with salt and pepper to taste

Serve and enjoy

Raspberry lemon crumb pie – gluten free vegan and paleo

Raspberry lemon crumb pie – gluten free vegan and paleo

Sometimes Vlad and I both buy groceries without consulting each other first and our fridge ends up a packed-to-the-brim disaster. This leads to the inevitable act of forgetting about certain ingredients that get shoved to the back. Shameful, I know. So I’m trying to do better, and have been doing weekly clean outs of the fridge, making sure I use what I have on hand before I purchase anything new.

On my most recent fridge-job I discovered a pint of organic raspberries that had been sadly neglected. They weren’t moldy – yet, but were lacking the fresh firmness I expect of my berries. In other words they were perfect for baking with.

I love a crumble, but classic crumbles are typically filled with flour sugar and butter so I skimmed through a few recipes and came up with a version that would suit my dietary needs. This crumb pie is gluten free, grain free, paleo and vegan. It is also contains the perfect ratio of lemony tartness, raspberry sweetness and buttery pastry. It’s a dessert made for rushed mornings or lazy summer nights. Serve it with a scoop of coconut whip cream for something truly indulgent.

Lemon Raspberry crumb pie

Base ingredients:

2 cups almond flour

3 tbsp coconut flour

1/2 cup melted coconut oil

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

zest of 1 lemon

Filling ingredients:

1.5 cups fresh or frozen rasberries

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp tapioca

juice of the zested lemon

1/4 tsp of salt

Topping ingredients:

1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts are great)

1/2 cup reserved base dough

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325

Mix all the base ingredients until well combined and a crumbly dough forms

Reserve 1/2 cup of the mix for your topping and press the remainder into the bottom of a pie pan

Bake at 325 for 10 minutes

While the base is baking, heat the raspberries in a sauce pan, add the remaining filling ingredients and cook on low heat pressing and squishing the raspberries into a jam.

Chop the nuts and mix in with the reserved dough until crumbly.

Remove the base from your oven and allow to cool 5-10 minutes.

Cover the base with the layer of cooked raspberries and then top with the crumbly nut mix. Gently press into the berries.

Return to the oven for 20 minutes. (Perfect chance to whip up some vegan whip cream!)

Allow to cool and serve.

Enjoy!

If you like this recipe let me know in the comments and/or pin it!