Irish soda bread

Last year I made Irish soda bread for the first time and I really enjoyed it. It’s not sweet like corn bread, but it does have a subtle sweetness to it; which allows it to be used in a variety of ways. It get’s its name from the baking soda in it that is used as leavening agent instead of traditional yeast. It also bakes faster than yeast bread.

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My favorite way to eat Irish soda bread is with either a hearty vegetable stew or chili. It makes for some great comfort food; especially while being cooped up inside during a long freezing winter.

Another yummy way to enjoy it is toasted with a generous spread of marmalade or peanut butter. My hubby will even just eat it plain for a snack. What is your favorite way to eat Irish Soda Bread?

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Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups of flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 3 TBS of raw sugar
  • 4 TBS of vegan butter (Melted)
  • 1 flax egg ( 1 TBS ground flax seed + 2.5 TBS of water. Mix and let sit for 5 minutes)
  • 1 1/2 Cups of vegan buttermilk ( 1 1/2 Cups of almond milk mixed with 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar. Let it sit for 5 – 10 minutes)

Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 425º and grease a 9” round baking dish.
    2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, and sugar. Once the dry ingredients are all mixed in, make a well in the center. Add the wet ingredients to the well and then begin to fold it into a dough with either a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula.
    3. Once the ingredients are mixed in, turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead with your hands until the dough has completely come together. Then form the dough into a ball.
    4. Place the dough onto the prepared baking pan and score an X (about a half inch thick) through the top center with a knife. Sprinkle a dusting of flour on top.
    5. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350º and bake for another 40 minutes. You want the final color to be a golden brown.
    6. Let cool and enjoy!

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Classic pancakes and furry children

I love foods that are versatile. It makes it really nice for meal planning when you can keep making a favorite recipe and just play around with the flavors or ingredients a little bit to keep it interesting. And what is more versatile than pancakes? There are infinite ways to eat pancakes, but like with all versatile recipes you’ve got to start with a base first.

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My hubby and I eat pancakes just about every Sunday. It’s one of my favorite times of the week. Here is my classic pancake recipe that I make most often. It is like a blank canvas, now all you have to do is decide what you want to top them with. If you need an idea or want to try something new, I added a very simple recipe for a blueberry yogurt sauce.

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Classic Pancakes (vegan) + Blueberry Sauce

Makes 9-10 with a 1/4 measuring cup for a scoop

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups flour
  • 2 TBS baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Cups nut milk
  • 2 TBS maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Ingredients for the blueberry sauce:

  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • 1 container of vanilla dairy-free yogurt

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl use a sifter while adding the dry ingredients.
  2. Blend the dry ingredients then make a well in the center.
  3. Add wet ingredients to the well and whisk together with the dry ingredients.
  4. Place a frying pan on the stove at medium heat. Once heated add coconut oil or nonstick spray to the pan (REPEAT this step before every pancake).
  5. My suggested pancake scoop is a 1/4 measuring cup. For larger pancakes, use a larger cup.
  6. Pour the batter in the center of the pan. Wait 2-3 minutes, bubbles should start to appear in the batter. As soon as you see a bubble near or in the center of the pancake, it’s time to flip it. Let the other side cook for about 1 minute and it should be done.
  7. Top with desired toppings

Directions for the blueberry sauce:

  1. Add the yogurt and blueberries to a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth and pour on top of you pancakes.
  3. Enjoy!

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My Furry Children

Many people don’t know this about me, but for the sake of openness and relatability I will share. I cannot have children of my own without the help of special medication (I paused a really long time after typing that… Is this really something I want to share? Yes, I shared this for all of you struggling with infertility, you are not alone.). So aside from the fact that I already adore and respect animals, I truly consider my “pets” to be more like my children. I’d do anything for them. They are so faithful and giving. They love me unconditionally. If I am having a bad day, they are there for me. In fact they have been there for me in more ways than I could ever express. In some ways they’ve even helped save my life.

There may come a day when my hubby and I feel ready to shell out the cash to have a biological child or consider adoption, but for now we are more than happy to share our family and home with these four amazing furbabies. Allow me to introduce them.

Meet Harry Hopper

Harry Hopper

Harry came to us about a year ago and yes he is named after Harry Potter. He started his life at a petting zoo (which anyone who is familiar with rabbits knows what a traumatic experience that must have been for him.). Then he was sold to a rabbit breeder, who soon after adopted him out or sold him (idk) to a kindergarten classroom. I work at the school where he was the kindergarten class pet. He was still fairly small the first time I saw him at school, so he was exchanged quite a bit for the first year of his life. He spent quite a few months as the class pet. Then, knowing my love for animals I was approached about rabbit sitting while the teacher was out of town. I happily obliged.

We had a wonderful week, he got along with our kitties and was enjoying all the space to hop and jump around. When it was time for him to go back to school, it was expressed to me that he’d become a little more of a handful than expected and I was informed that he would be spending most of his time in his cage and weekends alone at school. This broke my heart. I happily offered to adopt Harry.

Neither me nor my husband had ever had a pet rabbit before. We were two cat people deep in a whole new terrain. Having a rabbit is a lot like having a puppy. They pee and poop everywhere, they dig at carpets, they chew on furniture, remote buttons, cords and clothes. But like puppies, they can be trained (FYI: they have to be spayed or neutered first.).

We got Harry neutered almost immediately and then started potty training shortly after. We decided “who needs a dinning room?” and my hubby built him a large 7’x5′ playpen. He’s out of his pen while we’re home to mingle with the rest of the family.

In the beginning, Harry did not like to be picked up. He would jump if he even thought I was going to pick him up and then once I would get a hold of him he would frantically fight his way out of my arms (for months I had scratches all over my arms). After several months of building a trusting relationship, I can honestly say that now Harry actually looks forward to me picking him up. We even have a morning routine, I greet him at the door of his pen every day and scoop him up. He nuzzles his face into my neck and we hug for a short while.

I love this little guy, he has taught me so much, and I am so happy to be able to give him a safe home and a family.Soaking up the sun

Meet Gimli

Gimli is the newest member of our family and yes, he is named after a dwarf from “The Lord of the Rings”. We adopted Gimli when he was just a month old. We adopted him with the hopes that he and Harry could become companions. We were concerned that Harry was feeling lonely. Nearly ten months later they still have not bonded and we have to keep them separated at all times or they will fight.

Gimli was neutered when he was 6 months old and we waited a month for his hormones to level out and then we tried to slowly introduce him to Harry. It went horribly and every attempt since has been just as ugly. Poor Harry is so submissive and patient (he so badly wants a roommate) and Gimli is just out for blood.

Gimli himself is a wonderful little rabbit. He is so sweet and loving. He’s also very clever. My hubby built him a large pen like Harrys and he has figured out at least a half a dozen ways to escape. He can also be mischievous and feisty at times, but he is learning. He’s our binkier (if you don’t know what a bunny binky is, go look it up on YouTube. It is adorable.). When it’s his turn to be able to run around the house, he’s all over the place! He loves running back and forth at top speed, got to get that exercise. But don’t take your eye’s off him! Trouble.

While it has been incredibly frustrating that he won’t bond with Harry, we’re hoping with a little maturing and time he will learn to accept Harry. I certainly won’t give up on him. *If you’ve ever bonded two rabbits successfully I would love some advise.

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Meet our twins Haylie-May & Butters

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We adopted Haylie and Butters over six years ago during our first year of marriage and believe it or not, they are from the same litter. It’s hard to put into words what these two mean to my hubby and I because they literally mean the world to us. They have been through so much with us. When we moved from New York to Montana, I refused to leave them behind, so they and my other kitty at the time (who has since passed on… ♥) made the 1700 mile road trip with me. They’ve moved six times with us, that’s nearly once per year they’ve been alive. They’ve lived in small cramped houses and they’ve lived in big nice houses. They’ve helped us through so many trying times and have even had to endure some themselves, from freezing temperatures (because of a broken heater) to numerous surgeries. There is such a bond between us I can’t gush about them enough, but I will certainly try.

Haylie-May

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Haylie-May is our little sweetie pie and chatter box and my only girl (We have to stick together.). When we brought her home for the first time she was just a little ball of poof.

Haylie has the spirit of a natural nurturer. She loves all the other animals, she gives them all kisses. She’s never scratches or gives my hubby and I attitude. She loves children, whenever we have little visitors she beelines straight for the door to greet them.

She’s only done it for me a couple of times, but she gives my hubby back messages all the time! I get so jealous, but she really has a soft spot for him. She’s a daddy’s girl. Her routine with me is to always be the first one to greet me when I come home and she’ll lay down in front of me and ask for belly rubs. Our cats are not like other cats, they LOVE belly rubs! They can’t get enough of them.

A unique characteristic about Haylie is her fluffy toes. It’s like she has hobbit feet. It is also like she is always earing socks, so this makes her kind of clumsy sometimes. When she’s running too fast she’ll skid across the floor as she tries to come to a halt. And sometimes she slips if she’s running too fast up her cat tree.

To an outsider it may seem odd to say that Haylie has a great sense of humor, but she makes me laugh on a daily basis. It’s a telepathic understanding and with just one look we both get it. She always brightens my day!

Butters

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The biggest baby in the house is Butters. No one ever told him to grow up and stop being a kitten, so he never did. He is the embodiment of innocence. As our most photogenic baby it could be misinterpreted that he is the favorite. As a mommy I do not have favorites. But there is no doubt that I am Butters favorite (hubby is in denial.), he is the biggest mommy’s boy and honors me with unyielding love and attention every day.

Butters is the most peculiar cat I have ever encountered. First of all, he has thumbs. I realize that’s a fairly common occurrence for cats, but he will actually use his thumbs to pick up toys.

When we adopted him he had a strange head tilt, that we found out soon after we brought him home, was from an unattended ear infection. With antibiotics and ear drops his head tilt eventually went away.

Butters also has a very rare condition called Stomatitis, which means he is allergic to his own teeth (roots and all). It was clearly causing him a lot of pain, so the vet recommended his teeth be removed. It was really scary and heart breaking to do, but he’s no longer in pain from it and we won’t have to worry about infections spreading into his throat. Now we call him our gummy bear.

Butters has so many quirks it’s difficult to figure out which ones to share and which to not. He is just so wonderfully odd and really uncat-like. For example, he has the heaviest feet, cats are known for their stealth quiet nature,  but you can hear Butters walking around in the next room.

More than anything, Butters loves to snuggle. I can not sit down without him crawling onto my lap within a minute or two. He can never seem to get close enough either; during weekend mornings, when we sleep in he will literally wrap his body around my head. He’s even tried to wrap himself around my face.

The secret to getting butters to fall asleep is to rub his belly. It’s a nightly ritual. He has his own bed above my pillow. He crawls into his bed when I crawl into mine and I rub his belly until he falls asleep. When we travel away from home, I’ll sleep with my hand above my head without even thinking about it, subconsciously wishing Butters was with me.

I could type on and on about how this little guy brings so much joy into our lives. He just has so much love to give and I am so blessed to be his mama.

Some more snaps of my furbabies

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Sweet Potato “BLT”

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Welcome 2018! I am so excited for my first blog post of the new year. It’s a healthier twist on an old classic, the BLT. For this recipe I’ve substituted bacon with sweet potato and the results are savory! Whether your are trying to start the new year with healthier choices, trying to give up meat, or even just looking for a new recipe for your meatless Mondays. I highly recommend giving this recipe a try. It’s easy, quick and most importantly it’s delicious!

Sweet Potato “BLT”

Makes 2-3 sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/4″ slices

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS of tamari
  • 1 TBS vegan Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 TBS Maple syrup
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • pinch of salt

Other Ingredients for assembling you “BLT”:

  • bread of your choice
  • tomatoes
  • lettuce
  • onion
  • avocado
  • vegan mayo (Can be found easily in any grocery store recommendations *not sponsored* JUST MAYO & VEGENAISE)
  • Mustard

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425º
  2. Slice the sweet potato
  3. Whisk all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl
  4. Cover baking pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray
  5. Place the sweet potato slices on the baking sheet
  6. Brush the potato slices with the sauce, then flip them over and brush the other side
  7. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, take them out of the oven and flip them over (brush with more sauce if they’re looking too dry.).
  8. Place them back in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes
  9. For extra crispy sweet potatoes: After they’re done baking in the oven, toss them in a frying pan until they are slightly brown and crispy.
  10. Assembly sandwich with desired fixings.

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New Year means new chapter

Our Christmas season was very quiet. We decided to stay home for the holidays to save some money. It was a very difficult decision and I hope in the future I won’t have to choose between family or money.

Hubby, Butters, and IMy hubby and I have lived in Montana for nearly five and a half years now. We’ve done a lot of growing, living so far from home and family. Our marriage was still a baby when we moved to Montana, the experiences we’ve faced here could be a challenge to even the most seasoned of marriages, but I am so thankful for these challenges that have helped us build a stronger marriage.

It’s been difficult to face that I needed Montana (I have been homesick for New York more often than not), I needed it to help me grow individually and my marriage needed it so that we could learn to be a proper team. But I can’t help but feel like this chapter of our lives may be coming to an end soon. I certainly find myself more than eager to find out what’s next for us. And I am far less eager to miss anymore Holidays with our families. I have learned my first decade as an “adult” that life doesn’t go in the directions you expect or even hope for, that being said, I do carry high expectations for 2018 and I won’t sit around waiting for my dreams to fall into my lap. It’s time to make shit happen!

So on a lighter note (I can be so intense sometimes) here are some highlights from our Christmas.

Christmas eve Tradition: It’s a wonderful life and pizza (*Daiya did not sponsor this, I just really love their food and love to share my favorite things!). I have watched It’s a wonderful life every Christmas for as far back as I can remember and I cry every single time, without fail!

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Christmas morning we had traditional pancakes with coconut whipped cream on top. Then throughout the day we grazed on a Mexican feast. I had taco soup all warmed in the crock-pot, chickpea/avocado taquitos, mini tacos and of course chips, salsa and guacamole. I decided on a Mexican feast when I was looking for a pick me up, because I was sad about not being in New York. What I ended up with was a new Christmas tradition. Forget all that old outdated traditional Christmas food, a Mexican fiesta is where it’s at for sure!

Over all it was a pretty lazy day, we even ended it by watching the original IT movie (Not very Christmasy). I won’t complain, I love lazy days with my cats and my hubby. I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday season! Here’s to an amazing New Year from our family to yours, Happy New Year!