Complete Knife Skills

knifeskills If you have read my blog for any amount of time you know I have a passion for two things sewing and cooking. One skill they have in common is accuracy.  Have you noticed I rarely post pictures of my veggies cut up? Well, that’s because my knife skills are lacking! Ummm, actually lacking is probably an understatement.

Are you wondering why knife skills are important? I mean it’s all going to be eaten , right? Well,  aside form presentation the way a food is cut affects how it cooks and the length of time needed to cook. This is really important when it comes to pot pie, soups, stews and casseroles.

Since I eat a lot of soups, salads and other fruit and vegetable based dishes I often feel like my lack of cutting skills leave me at a disadvantage if for no other reason than I think my dishes don’t look as pretty as they could.
So you can imagine how excited I was when I received an e-mail from Craftsy announcing their latest FREE mini class Complete Knife Skills. Here is the class description:

“ Become faster and more accurate with your knife work, and create dishes that cook evenly and look truly professional. Guided by chef Brendan McDermott, you’ll explore proper hand placement and the four fundamental cuts. Learn to dice, mince and julienne a range of produce. Find out how to chop herbs without bruising them or losing flavor, and never again cry when cutting an onion. Uncover Brendan’s favorite shortcuts for working with butternut squash, pineapple, chiles, citrus and more. Discover the four knives every chef needs in their kitchen, and finish the course with a lesson on honing and sharpening your knives at home!”

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? I signed up and am starting the course this week-end, be prepared to see a lot more food pictures on the blog in the near future!

DIY Egg Replacer for Vegan Baking – Flax Seed ‘Eggs’

DIY egg replacer for vegan baking using flax seeds

I have been really itching to bake lately, but after my last failed attempt at baking cookies using powdered egg replacer, I have been sort of avoiding it (unless the recipe is totally egg-free in the first place, like this yummy vegan coffee cake).

I was SO excited to find a recipe for an egg replacer I could make myself in Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s The Joy of Vegan Baking that I just had to try it out! It’s so easy and I just happened to have the ingredients already on hand – flax seeds and water.

Vegan baking experts seem to all agree that it’s not a good idea to try to replace more than 3 eggs in a recipe – the results will usually be disappointing. That is possibly what my problem was using the powdered egg substitute, though I honestly don’t remember which recipe I tried or how many eggs needed replacing. I do seem to remember a funny after-taste, though.

I found a new oatmeal raisin cookie recipe that only had one egg in it, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I’ll share that recipe another time, but let me just say they turned out perfectly using this homemade flax seed egg replacer!

How to Make Flax Seed Egg Replacer

(makes 1 ‘egg’):

1 TBS ground flax seeds + 3 TBS water

It’s recommended that you grind your own flax seeds instead of buying them pre-ground* (in the form of flax seed meal). You can use a coffee grinder, or do it by hand with a mortar and pestle.

DIY egg replacer for vegan baking using flax seedsOnce your flax seeds are ground into meal, add the water and whisk until you get a gooey consistency.

You could also use a blender. Either way, be sure to clean up right away – this stuff dries hard as a rock!

You may need to let the mixture sit for a few minutes to thicken up before using it.

Store the flax seed egg replacer in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

How Much Flax Seed Egg Replacer to Use in a Recipe

3 Tablespoons = 1 egg

Remember, try to avoid replacing more than 3 eggs in any recipe for best results.


* I will admit, I used flax seed meal because I already had it, and it worked great. The reason it’s recommended that you use freshly ground whole flax seeds is because apparently in ground form, the exposure to oxygen breaks down the oils and releases free radicals much faster – in other words, it will go rancid very quickly. Good to know!

If you grind up more flax seeds than you need, you should store the flax seed meal in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer instead of the pantry.

Recommended Reading:

The Joy of Vegan Baking

Chloe’s Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way 

Related Posts:

Delicious Vegan Coffee Cake

Vegan Vegetable Lasagna

Delicious Vegan Coffee Cake

Vegan coffee cake recipe - with delicious crumbled topping. Even non-vegans will enjoy this one!

A friend of mine used to bake for a small coffee shop, and she shared this coffee cake recipe with me. She said it’s the kind of vegan recipe that even non-vegans will enjoy, which usually means it tastes pretty darn good!

Sometimes it’s not easy to find vegan desserts that will satisfy a non-vegan palate, so I had to give it a try. And it’s a hit at my house, so I’m passing along the recipe. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it too!

3 cups unbleached flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
3/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup organic coconut oil*, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

3 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups soy milk
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

* Extra virgin coconut oil tends to have more of a coconutty flavor than regular coconut oil, so keep that in mind if you don’t want such a strong coconut flavor. If you don’t like coconut at all, 3/4 cup of margarine will work fine too. If you’d rather stay away from the hydrogenated fats then a great alternative to margarine is Earth Balance Buttery Spread.

Either option can be melted on the stovetop over low heat or in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until liquid.


Preheat oven to 375˚.

Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, coconut oil (and nuts, if desired) until all flour is incorporated. It should be crumbly, but break up any lumps larger than a dime. Set aside 1 cup of this mixture to be used for the topping.

Vegan coffee cake recipe crumbled topping

Mix the remainder of the crumbly stuff with the baking powder, soy milk, and raisins (if desired) to make the batter.

Grease a 8″ nonstick spring form cake pan, pour in the batter, and sprinkle the topping evenly over it. The mixture won’t take up much of the pan, but it will rise a little during baking.

Vegan coffee cake recipe - with delicious crumbled topping

Bake the coffee cake at 375˚ for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 20 to 30 minutes and then remove the spring form part and let it cool further until it is a temperature that is comfortable enough to eat!

Vegan coffee cake recipe - with delicious crumbled topping

Have you tried this recipe? I’d love to hear what you thought! And do you have a favorite vegan dessert that you like to bake?


More vegan recipes: 

Vegetable Lasagna

Strawberry, apple and pear juice

If you are looking for a balanced juice this one is it! Not too sweet but not bitter either.
1 cup strawberries, leaves and hulls removed
1 Granny Smith apple, stem removed
3 small ripe pears, stalks removed
1 large handful of spinach

Process through juicer and serve.

Vegetable Lasagna (Vegan)


This vegetable lasagna is the best I have ever had! I have used the recipe three times now and it is a hit every time. The original recipe does call for 2 sweet potatoes mashed and added to the second layer but I leave it out.


1 onion, chopped

1 small head of garlic, all cloves chopped or pressed

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1 head broccoli, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped

1 can corn, rinsed and drained

1 package Silken Lite tofu

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon basil

1 teaspoon rosemary

2 jars pasta sauce

2 boxes whole grain lasagna noodles

16 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained

6 roma tomatoes, sliced thin

1 cup raw cashews, ground



Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.Sauté the onion and garlic on high heat for 3 minutes in a wok or nonstick pan. Add the mushrooms and cook until the onions are limp and the mushrooms give up their liquid. Remove them to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Reserve the mushroom liquid in the pan. Sauté the broccoli and carrots for 5 minutes and add to the mushroom bowl. Sauté the peppers and corn until just beginning to soften. Add them to the vegetable bowl.

Drain the silken tofu by wrapping in paper towels. Break it up directly in the towel and mix into the vegetable bowl. Add spices to the vegetable bowl and combine.

To assemble the vegetable lasagna :
Cover the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch casserole with a layer of sauce. Add a layer of noodles. Cover the noodles with sauce. This way the noodles cook in the oven, saving time and energy. Spread the vegetable mixture over the sauced noodles. Cover with a layer of noodles and another dressing of sauce. Add the spinach to the second layer of sauced noodles then cover with more veggies.  Add another layer of sauce, the final layer of noodles, and a last topping of sauce. Cover the lasagna with thinly sliced roma tomatoes.

Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle with the cashews, and return to the oven for 15 minutes. Let lasagna sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 10 – 12 servings

Meal Plan Monday 2-20-12

Monday ~ Minestrone recipe below

Tuesday ~ Homemade chicken strips, green beans and mac-n-cheese (I’ll post my chicken strip recipe soon)

Wednesday ~ 
 Breakfast: Waffles, eggs and fruit

Thursday ~ Black Bean Tacos and rice

Friday ~ French bread pizza and salad

Saturday ~ Salmon (still looking for a recipe, any suggestions?)

Sunday ~ Mostaccioli with roasted tomato and garlic (didn’t make it last week)



  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 5 carrots, sliced
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 small can (6 ounces) of tomato paste
  • 1 medium can (16 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup canned kidney beans, drained
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups baby spinach, rinsed
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup dried pasta
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for topping
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. In a large stock pot, over medium-low heat, heat olive oil and saute garlic for 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion and saute for 4 to 5 minutes. Add celery and carrots, saute for 1 to 2 minutes. 
  2. Add broth, canned tomatoes and tomato paste, bring to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and add kidney beans,  spinach leaves, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, the longer the better.
  3. Add the pasta and cook 30 more minutes
  4. Once pasta is cooked ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. 

Looking for more recipes? Be sure to visit the other sites I am linking up to: Menu-Plan-Monday, Homestead Revival Barn Hop  and Monday Mania

Clean Eating Meal Plan 1-9-12

The first meal plan of 2012! I started the new year juicing and eating mainly raw foods. I did slip twice but overall I stuck to the plan. 

My schedule at work is now fairly consistent which has made meal planning easier. To make things easier on me I am using some premade meals on the nights I work.  I hope to buy some smaller pans so that I can freeze up some quick meals but for now Sams is taking care of it for me. 

Eating healthy was hard on the days I worked nine and ten hour shifts. I often found myself ordering a to-go salad from Chili’s since they are in the same parking lot as JoAnn’s. The cost and inconsistent quality aggravated me so two weeks ago I bought some cool salad and soup containers. Now I can make my own salad! 

breakfast~  Mock V8 Juice
lunch~ tomato soup and veggies
 black bean tacos and rice

breakfast~ Apple, pear, spinach and carrot Juice (my favorite
lunch~ salad with boiled eggs and grilled chicken
dinner~ Cilantro Lime Chicken Cacciatore 

breakfast~ Juice
lunch~ Pitas and fruit
dinner~ Angel Hair with cherry tomatoes and basil and salad


breakfast~ Crepes
lunch~ quesadillas
dinner~ Spicy Southwest Chicken soup. Recipe from Food Network

breakfast~ fruit smoothie
lunch~ Salad
 Weight Watchers zero point soup 

breakfast~  fruit
lunch~ salad, fruit and grilled chicken
Guiltless chicken Parmesan and tossed salad 

breakfast~ Oatmeal
lunch~ Left-overs ( I work all day)
dinner~  Ratatouille Stew  and French Bread

Looking for more recipes? Be sure to visit the other sites I am linking up to: Menu-Plan-Monday, Homestead Revival Barn Ho  and Monday Mania

Broccoli Soup Recipe

I have made this recipe four times now and it has come out delicious each time. The last three times I have increased the broth and decreased the milk; no one noticed.

I like my broccoli soup chunky so I don’t blend all of it. Leftovers freeze and reheat without any problems.


2 tsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1 clove of garlic crushed
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cubed
4 cups fresh broccoli, including stems, chopped
2 cups low-sodium, fat-free chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil on medium heat in a soup pot or Dutch oven. Gently sauté onion, garlic and celery for 3-4 minutes, until onion is softened. Add potato and chopped broccoli, followed by the broth and milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
Allow soup to cool slightly, then transfer to a blender in 2-3 batches, and blend until smooth. Return soup to pot and heat gently until ready to serve.

Serves 6.

Per Serving: Calories 88, Calories from Fat 16. Total Fat 1.8g (sat 0.3g), Cholesterol 1mg, Sodium 83mg, Carbohydrate 13g, Fiber 3.1g, Protein 4.9g

Clean Eating Meal Plan 10-31-11

I can’tr believe I actually have about three weeks worth of menus planned out right now! I started working part-time last week and the first thing I knew I had to take care of was meals. 

My schedule will overlap when I normally make dinner sometimes so I will be relying on my crock-pot and the timer on my oven a lot more. I think I have only used the hold and cook feature on our oven twice so hopefully I will not mess anything up as I get use to it. 

I am still trying to eat as clean as possible even though I can’t work-out right now. 

breakfast~ shredded wheat cereal, blueberries 
lunch~ tomato soup and sandwiches
dinner~ Meatball 
(made in crock potsubs and tossed salad 

breakfast~ scrambled eggs, bananas
lunch~ salad with boiled eggs and grilled chicken
dinner~ Tacos, black beans and rice.

breakfast~ Oatmeal, bananas
lunch~ Pitas and fruit
dinner~ Angel Hair with cherry tomatoes and basil, salad and French bread

breakfast~ scrambled egg with applesauce on the side
lunch~ quesadillas
dinner~ Spicy Southwest Chicken soup. Recipe from Food Network

breakfast~ fruit smoothie
lunch~ sandwiches and left-over soup
dinner~ Pizza Margherita

breakfast~ cottage cheese and fruit
lunch~ salad, fruit and grilled chicken
dinner~ Bean burritos with rice and all the fix’ins

breakfast~ Oatmeal
dinner~ Sweet and Sour Chicken

Looking for more recipes? Be sure to visit the other sites I am linking up to: Menu-Plan-Monday, Homestead Revival Barn Hop  and Monday Mania

Clean Eating Meal Plan 10-10-11

It felt good to sit down this week-end and look for some recipes. I ordered The Homesick Texan Cookbook last week and it arrived Saturday. I have to say just like her blog the cookbook does not disappoint! I plan on adding a recipe to each meal plan starting next week.

breakfast~ shredded wheat cereal, blueberries 
lunch~ sandwiches and fruit
dinner~ Sweet and Sour pork chops, grilled vegetables and tossed salad

breakfast~ scrambled eggs, bananas
lunch~  Chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese 
dinner~ Beef and Bean Burritos and Spanish rice

breakfast~ Oatmeal, bananas
lunch~ Pitas and fruit
dinner~ Sticky Chicken, mashed potatoes and peas

breakfast~ scrambled egg with applesauce on the side
lunch~ quesadillas
Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff

breakfast~ protein shake

lunch~ left-overs
Dinner~  Chicken Tostadas, black beans and Spanish rice if there is any leftover from Tuesday

breakfast~ cottage cheese and rice cake with peanut butter
lunch~ Grilled sausage and corn on the cob
dinner~ Tortellini, salad and homemade French bread

breakfast~ Oatmeal
lunch~ Sandwiches and fruit
dinner~ Roast, potatoes, green beans and rolls

Looking for more recipes? Be sure to visit the other sites I am linking up to: Menu-Plan-Monday, Homestead Revival Barn Hop  and Monday Mania