Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Blood Orange-Whiskey Cocktail

Here's a cocktail recipe I made up last night using what I had on hand. I prefer recipes that are simple, require only a few ingredients and are easy to mix up quickly. If I were serving this to friends, I'd add an orange slice as garnish. The following recipe makes one drink.

Blood Orange-Whiskey Cocktail

1/4 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice (from 1 orange)
1 ounce whiskey (my choice is Knob Creek)
1 teaspoon honey
2 to 3 drops Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in a measuring cup and stir well so that the honey dissolves into the liquid. Pour over ice. Cheers! For more great drink ideas, check out my Beverages board on Pinterest!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Books: An Update

It's been a while since I've written a post about books I am reading or have read. Since that last post, I've completed seven or eight books, including a classic by Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, which I enjoyed. And I read a novella by Fredrick Backman called The Deal of a Lifetime. Backman is the author of A Man Called Ove. I read the novella in two days. It was an interesting little book.

I read a collection of short stories by Elizabeth Berg called Ordinary Life, which I really liked. It amazes me how a writer can tell a story in fewer than 20 pages. Some of the stories were so well written, they brought me to tears or really made me think about the characters long after I finished. I highly recommend this collection, even if you don't typically read short stories.

I read Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff, which I enjoyed. It was easy, light reading, but was also inspirational. Chip and Joanna Gaines sure do have an interesting life!

Other books I finished include Sight Reading by Daphne Kalotay, Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani and Faithful by Alice Hoffman. Hoffman's book The Museum of Extraordinary Things is one of my all-time favorite novels. I've read a few other books of hers, but none of them come close to The Museum, in my opinion.

I am now reading an interesting and short book called Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. I'm really enjoying it and will probably finish it in the next few days. Apparently a movie was made from this book last year starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford. I'm sorry I discovered this today because I prefer to develop my own picture of a character as I read a book rather than see them as a particular actor. I've been envisioning Addie, one of the main characters who is 70, as the attractive neighbor up the street from us who is probably a bit younger than that, but has pretty grey hair and a beautiful face -- much more interesting than Jane Fonda. The male character, Louis, I haven't yet formulated as strong an image of, but I would not picture him as Redford.

I am also reading The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg. This one is taking me a bit longer to get into, but I'll keep at it. It's a novel about the scandalous life of French author George Sand, a female writer who led a very nontraditional lifestyle in the 1830s and 40s. So, what's on your reading list? 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Homemade Granola Bars

Granola bars are fairly easy to make at home. I know, it's much easier to buy them at the grocery, but making your own means you can customize them with whatever nuts and dried fruits you like -- even mini chocolate chips! Homemade bars have no preservatives or artificial anything, so they are wholesome -- but don't consider them "healthy" due to the amount of sugar.

The other day, as I flipped through the pages of an old issue of Everyday Food, I spied a granola bar recipe I have been meaning to try. I made a couple of modifications, adding cinnamon and using dried cherries instead of raisins and pecans instead of slivered almonds. The next time I make these (they're so good I will make them again), I am going to cut back on the amount of honey used in step 3. I'll try using 1/4 cup rather than 1/2 cup. This should make the bars a bit less sweet.

Homemade Granola Bars

3/4 cup good quality honey
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/3 cups nuts such as slivered almonds, pecan or walnut pieces, or your nut of choice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Coarse salt
1 cup raisins or other dried fruit
1/3 cup creamy almond butter or other nut butter
1/4 cup light-brown sugar

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a small saucepan, heat 1/4 cup honey and the 2 tablespoons butter over low heat. Cook, stirring, until butter melts, about 2 minutes.

2) In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Drizzle honey and butter mixture over oats and stir to combine. Wipe saucepan clean. Spread oat mixture evenly on a large, rimmed baking sheet (Tip: I line the sheet with foil for easy clean up). Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool completely on sheet, 10 minutes. Return oat mixture to large bowl and add dried fruit; stir to combine.

3) Lightly spray an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray, or grease pan with butter. In same small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup honey, almond butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a boil and sugar dissolves, about 10 minutes. Drizzle over oat mixture and stir until well combined. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Firmly press mixture into dish with spatula or the bottom of a metal measuring cup (I used the measuring cup, which worked really well). Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Cut into 16 bars or squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Valentine's Day Chocolates and Flowers

I meant to have this Valentine's Day post ready for you on Friday, but the day got away from me, and so did Saturday. So it wasn't until Sunday that I found time to make these delicious dark chocolate-covered coconut clusters. I bought the red sanding sugar at Williams-Sonoma and used it in place of sea salt (but the salt would add a delightful taste to these sweet gems). 

The process for making these candies is a bit tedious. The mixture is so sticky that I couldn't use my hands to shape them into balls. I ended up using a small ice cream scoop (the kind you use for cookie dough) and a spatula. When it came to coating them in chocolate, I improvised by using a small seafood fork to roll them around in the melted chocolate. But as the process continued, the chocolate began to harden a bit (you may need to microwave the chocolate a few seconds more to soften it), so I switched to using a spoon to drizzle the chocolate over the coconut balls. The candy in the photo below was done with the drizzle method. Either way, they are delicious, and taste like Mounds only better!

Dark Chocoate-Coconut Clusters

4 to 5 cups unsweetened organic coconut flakes
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
12 oz. bag dark chocolate chips
Sea salt or colored sanding sugar

1) In a bowl, combine coconut flakes with sweetened condensed milk. Stir well to combine. Add more coconut if the mixture is too wet (I started with 4 cups and added at least another half cup).

2) Shape coconut mixture into balls (see text above) and put on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Put into freezer for 15 minutes. 

3) Meanwhile, put chocolate chips in a small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds; stir. Microwave another 30 seconds and stir. Continue microwaving in 10- to 15-second increments, stirring each time, until chocolate is melted. Be careful not to overcook the chocolate!

4) Remove coconut balls from freezer. One at a time, dip them in the melted chocolate or drizzle chocolate over each. Set on a tray lined with parchment and sprinkle with sugar or sea salt. Store candies in the refrigerator.

From chocolate to the another Valentine's Day treat ... flowers! In the spring, summer and fall, our garden provides a plethora of gorgeous dahlias that I enjoy cutting and bringing into the house. I love putting a small vase of flowers on the bathroom vanity for a pop of color.

In the winter months, I have started buying alstromeria at the grocery. This underrated flower is pretty, colorful and very well priced at only $4.00 a bunch. And I only need one bunch for the bathroom. They last a long time, too -- between three to four weeks if the flowers are very fresh when purchased. 

This red variety is a favorite; I had them in the house throughout the Christmas season. I have also bought yellow, white, orange and pink ones. Any color looks pretty in our white bathroom! Buying these flowers has become one of my favorite rituals.

I hope you and your special someone have a very lovely Valentine's Day! Thanks for visiting My Little Bungalow.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Potato-Chickpea Korma

Happy February! How are your 2018 resolutions coming along? One of my goals for this year involves cooking; in particular, I want to prepare more Asian meals at home from scratch. So far I've been doing pretty well with this goal! On the second day of the new year, I made hoisin-glazed tofu and green beans. Then I made peanut tofu curry. And last weekend I adapted a recipe for potato-chickpea korma served with naan, an Indian flatbread (for my husband who is not gluten intolerant). This korma is a delicious blend of veggies and chickpeas in a mildly spiced curry sauce.

Potato-Chickpea Korma

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium sweet yellow onion, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons garam masala*
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 (19 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups water
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 (7 oz) cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley


1) In a Dutch oven, heat coconut oil until melted. Add potato, onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, ginger, curry powder, garam masala and salt. Saute for 10 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften. 

2) Stir in chickpeas, water and lime juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in yogurt and parsley. Using an immersion blender, blend about a third of mixture to thicken. Stir well and serve with naan. You could also serve on top of cooked basmati rice.

* Garam masala is a blend of ground spices used frequently in Indian cooking. Garam masala can vary from one region to another, but a typical blend consists of peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, mace, cardamom pods, bay leaf, cumin and coriander. I have only recently started cooking with garam masala, and I can say it makes all the difference when preparing Indian recipes. Don't skip this ingredient. It really complements the curry. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Chili Con Veggie

We may not want to admit it, but we still have a month and a half of winter. On the plus side, this means there's plenty of time to prepare and enjoy a big batch of chili. Chili is one of my favorite healthy comfort foods. A large pot makes a great supper and provides enough for leftovers (it can taste even better the second or third day). 

On Sunday I made this chili con veggie recipe, adapted from Whole Bowls, a birthday present I received from a dear friend. I also made my new favorite gluten-free cornbread to go with it. 

I rarely follow a recipe when making chili, but wanted to try this one since everything from this cookbook has been great so far. The chili is very tasty, with a strong tomato base and chopped red bell pepper, which gives it a different taste. I didn't have tempeh on hand, so I substituted veggie "beef" crumbles. It was a hit at our house. I hope you give it a try. Enjoy!

Chili Con Veggie

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (6 oz) can no-salt-added tomato paste
1 (28 oz) can whole plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 (15 oz) cans beans (choose from black beans, cannellini beans, red kidney beans and/or pinto beans; I used one can of black beans and one can of cannellini beans)
1 cup frozen veggie "beef" crumbles (I like Beyond Meat brand which is soy-free and gluten-free)
3/4 cup water

1) In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, salt, coriander, paprika and oregano; saute for 8 to 10 minutes.

2) Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add the tomatoes and their juice, breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Add lime juice, beans, "beef" crumbles and water; stir. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring a few times. Ladle into bowls and serve with cornbread.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Cookbook for My Birthday!

My friend Rhoda sent me a wonderful cookbook for my birthday called Whole Bowls. Written by Canadian food blogger Allison Day of Yummy Beet, the book's recipes are gluten-free and vegetarian I've been thinking for a long time how much I'd love to find a cookbook like this. Gluten-free cookbooks tend to have a fair number of recipes with meat, and vegetarian cookbooks often feature recipes with pasta and other gluten-filled grains. It's so nice to know that all the recipes in this cookbook are both gluten-free and vegetarian. In fact, many are vegan, making them super healthy.

I've already made two recipes from this book. First I made a dish called Emerald Bowls with Mozzarella and Pea Hummus, which I made just days after my birthday. The bowl was a delicious combination of textures and flavors. The pea hummus is wonderful, but a warning: It is made with a whole garlic clove, so don't consume before, say, going to church (trust me on this!).

Sorry for the poor-quality photo below. It reminds me of those bad photos you see on cheap take-out menus. I photographed it at night just before supper, so I blame the artificial lighting. Nothing like artificial lighting to ruin a photo.

I took a bit of a chance making the Peanut Tofu Curry. This is because my husband does not like peanut butter in his savory dishes. He loves the stuff on crackers and in desserts, and eats it like it's going out of style, but has said many times that he doesn't care for it (at all) in supper dishes. I took a chance and made it anyway, knowing he might have opted for "Plan B." But he surprised me when he said it was fantastic. Next time I'll make it with broccoli or green beans instead of cauliflower. (Notice the next photo was taken during the day with natural light. What a difference! It actually looks appetizing.)

Some other Whole Bowl recipes I'm looking forward to making:
  • Everyday Bowls made with roasted sweet potatoes, beets and kale, quinoa and chickpeas, feta and a dressing made of apple cider, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and two kinds of mustard 
  • Black Beans with Butternut Squash, Black Rice and Chimichurri (a sauce made of garlic, cilantro, parsley and scallions)
  • Tuscan Bean Stew with Kale
  • Chili Con Veggie with cornbread (but I would make this cornbread recipe instead)
There are a few breakfast bowls I'm anxious to try, too, like Pear Muesli (my friend made this and said it was terrific); Danish Grød with Cardamom Berries; and Sweet Potato with Gingerbread-Pecan Crisp. 

I'm super psyched about this cookbook. Thanks for the great gift, my friend!

For more recipe ideas and inspiration, see my gluten-free savories board or my food board on Pinterest.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Turning 50

I turned 50 last week. The big 5-0 had been looming over me for a few months leading up to my birthday. I just couldn't wrap my head around the fact that I was leaving my 40s (which had been good to me) and entering my 50s! The day itself was wonderful, though the weather was strange (a day of pouring rain and 60-ish-degree weather sandwiched between days with highs in the 30s). My husband took the day off, treating me to lunch at a snazzy restaurant, then to an afternoon showing of the movie The Darkest Hour (the irony of seeing a movie with that title on my 50th birthday is not lost on me). 

Now that my actual birthday has passed, I feel no different than before. Of course I don't. What had I expected? 50 is just a number. I still feel young and think of myself as still in my early 40s. My husband says I act younger than my age. Most people tell me I look much younger ... one woman recently said she thought I was kidding when I said I was turning 50; she thought I meant I was turning 40! I'm sure she was just being nice, but oh how lovely it was to hear.

So really, what's bad about turning 50? Nothing. In fact, I feel blessed to have lived 50 years. Two people I know -- one a coworker, the other our dentist -- both passed away in the past two months, both at the age of 47. I'm sure they would have given anything to have celebrated their 50th birthdays, and beyond. 

Life presents us with so many moments that help us gain perspective. When I'm feeling down or focusing on the small stuff, I try to step back, count my blessings, pray for those who are truly struggling, and thank God for all He has given me. 

With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.
Psalm 91:16

Sunday, January 14, 2018

What's a Breakfast Martini, You Ask?

Wine is our typical adult beverage of choice, but sometimes it's just fun to mix up a special cocktail. I wonder if I was a bartender in a previous life ... (just kidding). Over the years, I've progressed from buying those "old school" cocktail mixers (ugh, those artificial ingredients!) to buying more natural mixers sans preservatives or, better yet, making my own from scratch. Simple syrup is, as its name suggests, simple to make. Squeezing fresh lemons, limes and oranges is easy too, as long as you have them handy in the fridge. And using fresh juice makes a huge difference in a cocktail's quality and taste.  

Gin is one of my favorite liquors. Recently, I was in the mood for a new gin cocktail, so I did a search online and found one called a "breakfast martini." It most certainly is not for breakfast, but the drink is called that because it has orange marmalade in it. And I love orange marmalade!

Tanqueray is my gin of choice, but use whichever brand you prefer. Cointreau is an excellent orange liqueur, but you could substitute triple sec if that's what you have on hand. Go easy, though. A martini is a strong drink, and if you're s lightweight like me, you'll feel it after just one!

Breakfast Martini

In a cocktail shaker, combine:
1 teaspoon orange marmalade
1-1/2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice

Stir with a bar spoon to dissolve the marmalade. Add ice, cover shaker with lid and shake well. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a strip of orange zest. 

My one complaint about this recipe is that most of the orange peel from the marmalade stayed in the cocktail shaker. That simply was not okay -- it's the best part, after all -- so I used a long cocktail spoon to scrape all those yummy bits out of the shaker and into my drink. Will this cocktail become one of my go-to libations? Probably not, but it was a fun change of pace. 

For more cocktail and non-alcoholic beverage ideas (coffee drinks, hot chocolate), visit my Beverage board on Pinterest. Cheers!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

DIY Vanilla-Mocha Sugar Scrub

I'm a sucker when it comes to luxurious bath products in gorgeous packaging. But the prices can be outrageous. Take sugar or salt body scrubs, for example. They can cost as much as $40 or $50! Why not make your own for a fraction of the cost? It's super easy to do.

I was rummaging through some old clippings last weekend as I was hunkered down trying to stay warm, and I came across some instructions on how to make your own body scrubs. I had the items needed to make a vanilla-mocha sugar scrub, so I gave it a shot.

To make your own body scrub, purchase a skin care oil (for massage and moisturizing) such as sweet almond oil or jojoba oil. You can find these oils in the health and beauty section of stores like Whole Foods. Don't use cooking oil -- it's too sticky for this use.

The exfoliant base for your scrub can be sugar -- granulated, organic cane or brown turbinado, for example -- or salt, either coarse or fine. Sugar is gentler for most skin types, while salt is good for smoothing rough, dry skin, but may be too harsh for sensitive skin. Don't use these scrubs on your face, only on your body. And avoid any areas that are sensitive. I, for example, can only use the scrub on my arms, legs and feet.

In addition to the skin care oil and exfoliant base, you'll need ingredients such as essential oils or spices. This scrub calls for ground coffee, cocoa powder and vanilla.

Instructions: Vanilla-Mocha Sugar Scrub

Step one: Put 1 cup of sugar in a clean, sealable container. I used granulated sugar. Pour 1/4 cup sweet almond oil over the sugar and stir using a spoon or wooden stick until well combined.

Step two: Add 1/2 teaspoon of real vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon ground coffee and 1 teaspoon cocoa powder. Stir to blend. If needed, add another tablespoon oil to get the desired consistency, but don't use too much oil. You want the texture to be granular. Use in the shower for a moisturizing, exfoliating experience that smells wonderful. The scrub will last about 3 months in a well sealed container.

Vanilla-mocha is just one idea. Try using different essential oils such as lavender, orange or peppermint; finely ground citrus peel; or spices like cinnamon and ginger. Have fun experimenting. Recipes can be found online -- Aura Cacia is a good source -- or make up your own. Homemade scrubs make great gifts, too. Indulge this winter and treat yourself or someone you love to a homemade body scrub -- and save money in the process. Enjoy!

This is not a sponsored post.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Yellow Split-Pea Soup

To quote one of my favorite holiday songs, "Baby, it's cold outside!" Temperatures and weather conditions along the east coast have been brutal. This morning it was 13 degrees here, and our high today is only expected to reach the mid-20s. It's unusual for us in the Southeast to have these kinds of very cold temperatures for a prolonged period of time. I've been hibernating, not wanting to venture out at 5 am to go to the pool before work -- and I'm missing my morning swims!

Today I'm taking it easy after having had a headache the past three days. I believe it was a sinus headache caused by the cold, dry air. We don't have a humidifier at home, but we're improvising by keeping a pot of simmering water on the stove to add some humidity to the house. It is helping. Paul and I have both been feeling like we could be coming down with something, so we're taking extra vitamin C, drinking water to stay hydrated and resting.

Making homemade soup is another way to stay warm and healthy during these cold winter months. I recently made this easy-to-prepare split pea soup. I added cayenne pepper to give it some zing. I hope you give it a try! Stay warm and safe, and if you're a pet owner, please remember to bring your dog or cat indoors during this dangerously cold weather. There are too many heartbreaking stories of dogs being left outdoors and freezing to death. If it's too cold for us, it's too cold for them!

Yellow Split-Pea Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
16 oz. dried yellow split peas
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
2 bay leaves
A pinch or two of cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1) In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, another minute.

2) Add broth, water, split peas, carrots, bay leaves and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3) Remove bay leaves. Let soup cool slightly. Puree soup in pot using an immersion blender, or in a blender in batches (be careful when blending hot liquids). Season soup with cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper to taste. Top with spicy pumpkin seeds; you can find the recipe here.

A note about the broth: I like Trader Joe's organic low-sodium vegetable broth. It's gluten free, too. If you don't follow a vegetarian/vegan diet, you can use chicken broth in place of the veggie broth.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Hoisin-glazed Tofu and Green Beans

Hello, friends, and Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. Here we are in 2018. Holy cow, where does the time go! 

So, do you make New Year's resolutions, or set goals for the year ahead? One thing I'd like to do more is to cook Asian dishes at home. Paul and I love Asian food: Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, you name it, we love it! But with my sensitivity to wheat, eating out can be challenging. So one of my goals is to make more Asian meals at home. It's healthier than eating out, too, since you can better control the amount of sodium and avoid preservatives like MSG.

When it comes to wheat, reading labels and understanding ingredients is key. Soy sauce, which is commonly used in Chinese cooking, contains wheat. Tamari sauce, used more often in Japanese cooking, is made of soy beans and is typically gluten free, but can sometimes contain wheat, so it's crucial to read product labels. I buy San-J Organic, Reduced-Sodium, Gluten-free Tamari. It is thicker than soy sauce and lower in sodium.

The recipe I'm sharing today features hoisin sauce, which I hadn't used a few weeks ago. This product can contain wheat, so I looked for for a gluten-free variety. Fortunately, I was able to find one at my local grocery made by Kikkoman. The bottle is clearly labeled "Gluten Free" and "Preservative Free." Can I just say how nice it is to see "gluten free" clearly labeled? My eyes aren't what they used to be, and It's such a pain to have to search the small print for this information. I really appreciate it when manufacturers prominently put "Gluten Free" on the front of their products.

Hoisin sauce is the star of this recipe and gives the tofu its flavor. The Kikkoman product is made with sugar (unfortunately, it's the first ingredient), miso, plum puree, garlic and molasses, among other ingredients. It has a sweet, somewhat smokey aroma and taste. I found several recipes online for homemade hoisin sauce, if you prefer to make your own.

Instead of regular green beans, I used the "skinny" French green beans and stir-fried them 4 minutes as directed, then set the covered pan aside, off the heat, until the rice noodles finished cooking, about 5 minutes. Be sure not to overcook the beans. You want them to be crisp-tender, not soft.

Our only critique of the recipe was the skimpy amount of sauce it made, barely enough to coat the tofu and beans. The sauce is delicious and we wanted extra to lightly coat the rice noodles. In the recipe below, I doubled the sauce ingredients. If you like your dishes spicy, use the 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. For less spice, try 1/4 teaspoon, or omit them.

A note about vegetable oil. When cooking over medium-high to high heat, I opt for avocado oil. It has become my go-to oil for cooking. I like Chosen Foods brand (our Walmart grocery has the best price). Canola would also work; just don't use extra virgin olive oil for higher heat cooking.

If you don't like tofu, you could substitute tempeh to keep the dish vegan, or use shrimp or cubed chicken. I hope you give this recipe a try, and if you do, please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Hoisin-glazed Tofu and Green Beans

14 oz. package extra-firm organic tofu
6 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (such as avocado oil)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
8 oz. fresh "skinny" green beans (the French type), trimmed and halved
Hot cooked rice noodles, or white or brown rice

1) Cut tofu lengthwise into four 1-inch thick slices. On a cutting board, lay tofu slices on triple layer of paper towels. Top with another triple layer of paper towels and another cutting board. Top the cutting board with something heavy and sturdy to press out excess water from tofu. Let stand a few minutes. After this, I like to also individually squeeze each slice between more paper towels to remove even more water. This produces a less spongy finished product. Cut each slice into 1-inch cubes.

2) In a bowl, combine the water, hoisin sauce, tamari sauce, ginger and red pepper flakes, if using. Whisk well; set aside.

3) In a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add tofu cubes and cook, without stirring, until tofu begins to brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn cubes and cook, repeating this process until browned on all sides.

4) Transfer tofu to a plate. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan. Add the sliced garlic and the green beans and cook, stirring, about 4 minutes or until beans are barely tender. Return tofu to pan. Add the hoisin sauce mixture and bring to boiling, stirring to evenly coat the tofu. Serve over cooked rice noodles or white or brown rice.

Bon appétit! Thanks for visiting My Little Bungalow.

This is not a sponsored post.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Simple Christmas Supper

It's hard to believe Christmas day has come and gone. I hope it was a good day for you, filled with family, friends, good food and laughter. Ours was wonderful. We attended church in the morning, then Paul's family came for supper. After, we played a few rounds of Scattergories, a fun game that gets everyone laughing.

Unlike last year's menu of boeuf bourguignon and Danish risalamande for dessert, I kept the meal simple this year. I threw together a double batch of this three-bean chili with fire-roasted tomatoes, tried a new cornbread recipe and baked a pecan-chocolate-bourbon pie, which I made the day before Christmas.

To me, the star of the meal was the cornbread, which everyone said was delicious -- and no one thought was gluten free. It's a pretty big deal when I find a great bread recipe that is gluten-free and tastes fantastic.

I found the recipe here on the Cup4Cup flour website. I followed it exactly, and the bread turned out moist and delicious, with a slight sweetness we all liked. Plus, the taste and texture are equally as good for days after it was made, which can't be said for all gluten-free baked goods. This will be my go-to cornbread recipe, for sure.

Go here for the recipe on the Cup4Cup website.

Wishing you and yours a very happy, safe and healthy New Year! Thank you for sticking with me this past year -- my seventh year of blogging! I can't believe it's been that long. Whether you've been following My Little Bungalow for several years or are a new reader, I hope to hear from you in the year ahead!


Friday, December 15, 2017

Christmas Decorating with Plants

Hello! I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season. I recently shared with you a local nursery that specializes in poinsettias -- they grow 80 varieties! Today I wanted to show you the four plants we purchased and how we've used them to decorate our home.

But first, I'd like to show you a photo of our first snowfall of the season, which happened last Friday, Dec. 8. It's fairly early in the season for us here in the South to have snow. I wasn't aware of the forecast, so it came as the most pleasant surprise! Here is a photo taken that evening from our dining room window. Of course by now the snow is long gone.

The candle in the window is a battery-operated Luminara candle. We have four of them in our home, and we love them. They have built-in timers, so I set them to come on shortly after 5 pm and they turn off automatically six hours later. It's so lovely to come home to flickering candles in the windows. And they're safe!

Now on to our poinsettias. As mentioned previously, the selection at the nursery was mind-boggling. I don't do well when faced with a huge number of choices. My husband was wonderful though, weighing in on his favorites, then waiting patiently while I made my final selection. Just when I thought I'd made up my mind, I'd see another type that was gorgeous. It was a tough decision! We don't have much room in our house, so I knew I had to limit the number of plants we brought home. Each plant, by the way, was only $9.50 and the little baskets I chose were $4.00 each.

In the living room I set two plants in front of the fireplace. I don't know the name of the white variety (the nursery had nine or ten different white varieties alone). The vibrant pink one is called Ice Punch.

For the dining room we chose a true orange plant called Orange Spice. I thought the color would complement the color of the walls in that room.

And a beautiful, compact red plant called Orion Red I've placed on my bedroom dresser (next to another faux candle) to add a pop of holiday color to that room. This is a more traditional looking poinsettia. Which one is your favorite?

Thanks for visiting My Little Bungalow! Have a blessed Christmas season.
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