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Island Life. Recipes. Frugal and Sustainable Living.

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Sustainable Island Living

Sustainable Island Living

Perhaps I’m being partial, but I feel that our island is truly the best place for my particular lifestyle. I love the diversity of the island’s landscape and climate and year-round growing seasons. It seems like we are always planting something in our yard and […]

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Fruit & Cheese Platter Ideas

Fruit & Cheese Platter Ideas

I’ve really got a thing for healthy grazing platters, especially since I’m trying to eat better while I attempt to do multiple things at once. A while back, I posted about an easy-to-make veggie platter with figs and melon, and although a vegetable-based platter is […]

Vegan Fajitas

Vegan Fajitas

I feel like I’ve cracked some mysterious code to preparing dinner with this fajita recipe. Bold Tex-Mex flavors seem to be an all-around crowd pleaser, and these fajitas are no exception. This recipe was so ridiculously easy to make, and there was not one single complaint from the dinner-time peanut gallery. We even have a mushroom hater at the table that happily ate several of these without the world coming to an end. Oh-Em-Gee, I think I’m going to faint.

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For the fajita part of it, you literally have three ingredients, not including the seasoning and oil for frying. If you buy the vegetables already sliced, you have almost zero work to do, aside from the cooking. Anything additional you want to add to the “meaty” part, like tofu crumbles or sweet potato, is entirely up to you. BTW…IF you decide to add sweet potato, I suggest roasting slices separately, then adding near the end of cooking with the other vegetables to incorporate all the flavors.

Vegan Fajitas

We kept our spread simple and vegan, with whole wheat tortillas, white rice, salsa, chopped olives, lettuce, and avocado. Fresh is best when deciding on your toppings, and it doesn’t necessarily require large amounts of prep before hand. You could buy pre-made guacamole and salsa, and pre-shredded lettuce or carrots. In addition to what you see in my photos, you can also include shredded cheese, sour cream, roasted chilies, Spanish rice, and a squeeze of lime to add more depth of flavor.

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Regardless of weather you use veggies or a meat base for your fajitas, having a good spice blend is key to optimal flavor. If you do not have any fajita spice mix on hand, it is easy enough to make your own, and I have included an example of how I make mine. I usually triple this recipe and store the excess in repurposed baby food jars for the future. This amount of spice mix will season two batches of fajitas for the following recipe.

Fajita Spice Mix

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Hawaiian sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Mix everything together and store in an airtight container.

Vegan Fajitas

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 8oz. package of mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 large red pepper, sliced in long strips
  • oil for frying (1 tablespoon), fajita seasoning to taste, 2 tablespoons water

Directions

  1. In a cast iron skillet or heavy frying pan, heat oil on medium-high heat.
  2. Add onions and cook until soft, stirring continuously so they don’t burn, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add peppers and mushrooms and cook for 3-4 more minutes. It’s okay to not stir the vegetables this time and let them get charred a little bit in the pan. (It adds a little bit to the flavor.)
  4. Sprinkle water and fajita seasoning over vegetables and quickly stir. Cover and cook for 2-3 more minutes then remove from heat. Serve immediately with warm tortillas and condiments of your choice.

*This recipe utilizes the two tablespoons of water near the end of cooking to steam the vegetables the rest of the way. By using the water and covering for a few minutes, this helps to cut down on the use of oil and makes it just a little bit healthier. ENJOY!!

Vegan Fajitas

Spooky Potion Bottles

Spooky Potion Bottles

For our 2018 Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fun to honor the 20th anniversary of our beloved Harry Potter, and of course, have a Hogwarts-themed dinner, complete with the most wizardly decorations. I wanted to get an early start on making the decorations because […]

Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough

Like a taco salad, pizza is the kind of thing that you can dress up anyway you want. It is a clean slate onto which you can build a slice of perfection to your own personal taste. It was especially helpful this past ‘Mostly Vegan […]

My Love for Pinterest

My Love for Pinterest

 

Ah, yes, it’s that time of year when being “busy” kicks into overdrive, and so begins the start of numerous birthdays, office parties, Fall Equinox, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Winter Solstice and Christmas. The last quarter of the year is kind of crazy for most of us, and it is especially busy for me. One of the things I rely on everyday to keep myself organized during all of the chaos is my beloved Pinterest.

 

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If you don’t use Pinterest, you’re missing out on something useful and wonderfully inspirational. It is a visual search engine, rich with colorful images that are web links, which you can save. When you click on something of interest, each visual search will produce similar suggestions below it. (Like Google, with never ending pictures.) You can save any images/links that you like, and these are called PINS. The pins typically go back to, or in someway link to the original source, such as DIY plans or a beer making recipe. You can keep these pins organized into categories called, BOARDS, to come back to later. You may even take it a step further by arranging your boards into sections when you begin to accumulate a lot of pins.

 

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The board, ‘Best Vegan Recipes’, has nine sections.

 

My passion for how useful Pinterest can be is due to my ever-growing recipe collection. I’ve pinned recipes that stretch across the global culinary and diet spectrums. My Pinterest boards contain everything from elaborate holiday meal plans and spicy Indian, to island style food and impressive appetizers. My most popular recipe board to date, is Best Vegan Recipes where some of my own recipes are pinned directly from this website, as well as many others from talented foodies and chefs from all over the world.

When it is Mostly Vegan Monday’s at my house, I normally look to Pinterest for inspiration. I recently searched for something using butternut squash, and within minutes, had found the perfect recipe based upon the ingredients I had on hand. The recipe turned out amazing, and so I saved it to my Best Vegan Recipes board, under the section, Soups, Stews and Chili’s.

 

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Different sections within a recipe board.

 

Another bonus with Pinterest, is that I’ve avoided multiple near-disasters by having the app on my phone, and was able to quickly pull up saved recipes at the grocery store. If your local store or market is out of an ingredient, you can also do a quick search for a substitute recipe. Remember how I mentioned that all pins have similar suggestions below it? Click on your recipe, scroll down, and you’ll see similar suggestions that might be just what you need. Boom. Pinterest just saved the day.

 

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The delicious soup recipe I found in minutes.

 

It’s true that we’ve all have busy days ahead of us, and who has the brain-space to remember every little thing that you need for that up coming party you’re throwing? Just save all of your favorite search ideas, recipes and plans by pinning them onto a board titled, “Parties”. An added bonus by having the app, is that you will now have a portable party planner on your phone. Genius!! Graduations, baby showers, birthdays, and weddings just got a whole lot easier with this little bit of Pinterest organization in your life. Hmmm… want a Nerf gun themed party, with obstacle course, bulls-eye cake and targets? Got it right here:

 

You can have as many sections as you want within your boards. So handy for quick access.

 

Pinterest is a lot of useful things, but keep in mind, it is not like FB because it isn’t necessarily a verbal social interaction tool. It’s more like a briefcase of images and ideas that you save. There are areas on Pinterest for comments and leaving feedback, but again, it is not as much of a verbal exchange platform as it is a visual one. For a visual person like myself, I’m obsessed with an app like this, and can happily do without the negative banter and vitriol you’ll find elsewhere. Just show me the pretty pictures, and my creative brain starts running full speed ahead.

 

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My Best Island Life Pinterest page has so many great pins for island life, food, DIY, frugal living, travel and the outdoors. (And many more!)

 

Pinterest is my daily go-to app for activities I do throughout the day and functions as a highly beneficial tool for my lifestyle. It’s my meal making guide (recipe box), gardening & plant guide, craft idea vision board, DIY catalog of plans and ideas, as well as the keeper of other saved ideas and inspirations. Our teenager likes to save beauty related pins and create boards about make-up tutorials, fashion, and style ideas. The best part about Pinterest is that you can do whatever you want, there is no right or wrong.

If you haven’t tried using Pinterest, I recommend giving it a try. If you just want to check out what mine is like before you start to build your own, go to my home page to look at the inspirational pins and boards I have saved. Who knows, you may get hooked on Pinterest too.

Ulu (Breadfruit) Burgers

Ulu (Breadfruit) Burgers

Ulu, also known as breadfruit, is a versatile fruit beloved in many areas of the world, including Hawaii. I was excited recently to be able to harvest some for making these burgers, not just because it is a beloved local staple, but because it is […]

Taco Salad Basics

Taco Salad Basics

It seems like I tend to have small flashes of culinary brilliance on Mostly Vegan Mondays, and today was no exception to that. I am finding more and more, that having a lot of vegetables on hand really saves the day when Monday rolls around. […]

Hurricane Bagels

Hurricane Bagels

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When I woke up yesterday and realized that I would be stuck inside for a few days because of Hurricane Lane, my mind went immediately to bagels. On holiday mornings, our family indulges in eating bagels with smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, fresh tomato, and onion. When it’s a holiday, we are normally distracted by gift-giving and meal preparation, but this time, the situation was different, and I actually had time to think about what I could do. Since bagel making is no easy feat, I decided that I could take my time and not rush the painstaking bagel process. I’ve had many bagel disasters that turned out to be dense, rip-your-teeth-out, pucks of hard tack.

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All together, I’ve had some recipes that were great, and some that were complete disasters. Part of the biggest challenge with making perfect bagels lies in my environment, which is at a tricky and humid ‘4000 elevation. If you’re like me, it may take you a few tries to find the perfect recipe for your cooking environment and particular culinary taste. The preference of bagel texture and tastes are often very personal and/or rooted in tradition, and I tend to prefer a New York Jewish-style bagel  and consider anything else blasphemy.

One of the better bagel recipes I’ve come across, is this one by Peter Reinhart. This recipe makes a good-sized batch, and has more of the chewy, mildly, dense texture as opposed to the more bread-like texture of the store bought varieties. Since I did not have bread flour like stated in the original recipe, I added vital wheat gluten and also switched out a cup of white for wheat flour. **If you have bread flour on hand, you can skip the wheat gluten in this recipe. Overall, this is a good base to start with, and you could add savory flavors to the dough, like sundried tomatoes or chopped Kalamata olives. You could also just as easily turn these into cinnamon raisin bagels by adding 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and a cup of raisins.

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Bagels ready for the oven. Lightly misted with olive oil and topped with garlic powder, black and white sesame seeds, and Hawaiian sea salt.

Hurricane Bagels

  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients

    SPONGE
  • 1 teaspoons yeast
  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • DOUGH
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 4 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup or honey
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda (set aside)
  • TOPPING SUGGESTIONS: Garlic, sesame seeds, caraway seeds, poppy seeds, sea salt, cracked pepper

Directions

  1. Make the sponge in advance by combining the yeast, AP flour, wheat flour and water in a large bowl. Cover with a towel and let rest for about 1 1/2 hours, or until expanded and bubbly.
  2. In the same bowl, add the remaining yeast, additional AP flour, vital wheat gluten, salt and agave. Carefully knead the mixture to incorporate all of the flour, about 8-10 minutes. The dough should feel firm, but smooth. If dough is too sticky, add a few tablespoons of flour until it feels somewhat firmer. (This is not as soft as normal bread dough, but should not be too stiff either!)
  3. Divide dough into 12 or 24 evenly sized pieces and roll around in your palm until smooth, and then place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Let the dough balls rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper and begin shaping bagels by poking a hole into the center of the piece. Gradually widen the center hole to approximately 1 1/2 inches. (It should look a lot like a donut.) Then, place 12 bagels per large sheet, a few inches apart. Let bagels rest again for 30 minutes at room temperature and them put in the refrigerator (for at least two hours) or overnight. I did mine overnight for this.
  5. When you are ready to begin cooking the bagels, preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and make sure to put the oven racks in the middle of the oven for even baking.
  6. Bring a very wide pot, filled with several inches of water, and the remaining teaspoon of baking soda to a boil. Using a wide, slotted spoon or spatula, carefully slip the bagels into the boiling water. Flip each one gently over after 1-2 minutes and boil each side.
  7. Remove bagels from the boiling water back onto the parchment lined baking sheets. If you can, do this as quickly as possible so that you can start putting on the toppings while the bagels are still sticky.
  8. Brush the tops of each bagel with olive oil and heavily dust your toppings over the top of each one. Place them in the oven and bake for 5-6 minutes on 500 degrees. Turn down the temperature to 450 degrees and rotate sheet pans so that they cook more evenly. Cook for another 5-6 minutes or until light brown and remove from oven. I like to leave them on the trays until they are completely cool because I like the bottoms a little more crisp, but you can remove them from the trays right away of you prefer.

Pickled Watermelon Rind

Pickled Watermelon Rind

My mantra has always been to use everything and waste nothing. This is especially true with food, and part of my frugal living lifestyle is to try to use kitchen scraps whenever I can. Last month, I had a 4th of July post that featured […]

Fresh-Is-Best Platter

Fresh-Is-Best Platter

Is it Monday already? Oh yes, I guess it is. Since there is a slew of tasks for me to do today, I wanted to throw together something easy for the family to graze upon as we go about our duties on this Mostly Vegan […]


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