Tiny Life Hacks

I seem to be having unexpected, tiny breakthroughs every day. Little things that make life easier. Tiny life hacks, I guess you could call them. It's like I've been going along for the past decade in one mode - an efficient one for the most part mind you - but then suddenly I get an insight into how to do it better, and that little thing changes everything.
Things like getting a new printer that I can actually print remotely from - it's wireless. Wow! Or, figuring out (duh) that a nice, wide heating pad in my bed will cure my cold feet problem (although it's the first thing to get violently jettisoned the instant a hot flash hits me).
And then one day realizing that a tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter + 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup is like CANDY. Now that might sound boring but it is HUGE. It's really changed my life! I used to crave chocolate. I was mad for it. If there was even a hint of a chocolate bar, drop, or tiny chocolate chip in the house, I would find it and eat it. That stuff is like heroine to me. But, wonder of wonders, since I've been having a tablespoon or two of peanut butter + maple syrup every day, I do not even think about chocolate. And the rare times I do think of it, I DON'T WANT IT!

Yesterday's tiny breakthrough: I finally made vegan parmesan. For some reason I had been putting it off, mostly forgetting about it, but then balking at the intimidation factor - I mean, it's an oxymoron, isn't it? Vegan Parmesan. Cheese. Not cheese. How could, a puny mortal like me make that taste good? But I did. And It's beyond easy. It's so easy it's almost an insult to myself that I put it off for so long. Although come to think of it, another tiny breakthrough might have had to happen first, in order to pave the way for the vegan parmesan attempt...I got a food processor! Until now all I've used is my trusty blender, which is kind of a be-yotch for making fine meal or flour, or to powder nuts, etc...it's hard to clean too. So when the old blender got a little worn I went to buy another and found a Black and Decker Food Processor for only ten bucks more, so I got that instead. Not only is it worlds better than the blender, but now I look, feel, and cook like the pros on youtube. :) And with the purchase making vegan parmesan instantly became more of an option. First try = perfection. Salty, savory, YUM. The husband loooooved it, and so did the teen!

I also made polenta for the first time. Also very easy! Why did I buy it all those years?! It's so delicious home-made and warm, and covered with this simple mushroom marinara, it's an easy, light-but-filling comfort meal. Delish!

First, the recipe for the vegan parm:

  • ½ cup blanched slivered almonds
  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder   

Simply put all ingredients into a food processor fitted with the "S" blade, and pulse until a fine meal forms. Voila! C'est fini! :)

Homemade Polenta With Mushroom Marinara Sauce 

6 cups water
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. vegan margarine
2 cups cornmeal
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
16 oz. marinara sauce
1 oz. vodka (optional)
10 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
1–2 Tbsp. vegan Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil, for garnish
  • Bring the water and salt to a boil in a large pot.
  • Add the margarine.
  • Gradually stir in the cornmeal and let simmer, stirring often, for about 30 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Saute mushrooms and garlic for 5 minutes.
  • Add marinara sauce and vodka if using, and let simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • Scoop the polenta into serving bowls and top with the marinara sauce, vegan Parmesan, and fresh basil.
Buon appetito!!! xoxoxo      (note: the above recipe is my adjustment of the original recipe.