Hello everybody and long time no see! I wanted to give you an update about where I’ve been. I’ll no longer be updating StrivingBean.com. I love blogging, but have had some major events in my life that have prevented me from updating my blog on a regular basis.
Sadly, my father suffered from lung cancer most of 2010 and passed away at the end of the year. 2011 has been about adjusting to this new reality, rethinking, and prioritizing. I don’t claim to have life figured out – but I do know that my beloved blog Striving Bean has to be set aside as I readjust to life as it is now. Hopefully you understand – I think you probably do.
Despite this new reality, my life lately hasn’t been solely about difficulty. One bright spot is I’ve been fortunate enough to travel in 2011. Travel is a great love of mine that went by the wayside after our kids were born (see old French vacation photos here)! So far this year we’ve been to Disney World, I went to Maui with my mother-in-law, and my husband and I plan on going to Chicago for a weekend getaway. I’ve always loved to travel and have really savored my recent adventures!
I’ll be adjusting Striving Bean to make it a permanent web resource. And someday I’ll return to blogging – I like it too darn much. Who knows what the new subject could be? When I return I’ll be sure to keep it interesting (hopefully!) and I’ll be sure to let you know when I’m back.
In the mean time, you can find me tweeting at @micaelavega on Twitter. And thank you for reading – your support has meant so much to me. Let’s keep in touch!
– Micaela –
Eggs are a great way to get dinner on the table quickly. They’re fast to cook, inexpensive, and a great way to feed a hungry bunch.
Tortilla Española is the Spanish version of an egg and potato omelette. The Spaniards took this simple recipe to Mexico where it was named “tortilla española” since it was round like the Mexican tortilla. Then the name stuck in Spain. This tortilla can be eaten as a dinner, or smaller pieces can be served as “tapas” (snacks).
My grandmother Francisca from Spain cooked this dish often. My mother remembers:
My mom used a chunk of ‘unto’ with a fork stuck in to grease the pan . There were 7 to feed and not mucho dinero, but we always ate till we were full–no one ever went hungry. My mother must have been a good money manager. I remember grandpa making $25 a week forever!
My mom, one of the hungry 7, learned how to cook this and passed down the recipe down to me. This recipe is relatively fast, but you’ll need some cooking time for the potatoes. Some modern tips to speed things up – chop the onions and potatoes the night before – keep the potatoes submerged in cold water in the fridge, then drain before cooking. You can also cook the entire tortilla ahead of time and it will heat up nicely in the microwave.
Francisca’s Tortilla Española
- 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, thinly chopped
- 3 potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced, and halved
- 4 to 6 eggs
- Use a good pan that won’t stick
- Heat olive oil
- Add 1 large onion chopped. Cook on medium/high until translucent.
- Add sliced/halved potatoes
- Cook potatoes until tender but not falling apart
- Beat 4-6 eggs and pour over cooked potatoes
- Cover and cook slowly for 5-10 minutes until set
- Flip over with spatula or….flip by covering pan with a large dish. Turn pan over so eggs are on plate. Slide eggs back into pan. Try to not break the omelette
- Brown other side
This Tortilla Española recipe was originally posted on ModernMami.com
Have you ever had a Cake Wreck? A cake wreck is when a cake you make (or buy) looks a lot less beautiful than you had originally planned. My daughter’s birthday inspired me to make my first “cut-out” cake. It was supposed to be a pony. I’m not sure how I made it this long before I attempted one of these cakes, but let me assure you: This Pink Pony Cake from Family Fun is not as easy as it looks.
Here is a summary of the comments I received:
- “That’s not a pony.”
- “That’s not purple.” (True…It looked more gray in person)
- “It’s a turkey” (2 votes)
- “It’s a pigeon” (1 vote)
- “It’s a pig” (2 votes)
- “It’s a wolf” (2 votes)
- “What angle are you supposed to look at it from?”
I may submit it to Cakewrecks. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and check out the horrendous cakes!
Here’s somebody else’s cake wreck, just in time for Christmas. What’s up with the crazy Santa eyes? Thanks sarah_pants for the laugh!
This was updated from the original 2008 post. My pony cake was such a disaster I had to post it again for a laugh!
Aebleskiver (pronounced EB-el-sku-wyr) is best likened to a spherical pancake with a little delight inside – apple slice, jam, Nutella…let your foodie imagination run.
This morning I pulled out my Aunt Else’s Aebleskiver cast-iron pan and made us a breakfast treat. Learning how to make aebleskiver takes a little patience. My first attempt wasn’t too slick – there’s a certain technique using a skewer (you can also use a knitting needle) to turn the batter so it cooks on all sides. Watch this great video to learn how hone your aeble – skills!
I like making aebleskiver at home because you can control the quality of the ingredients and the amount of fat (oil) in the pan. Such a fun breakfast or brunch treat! Take a look at this homemade recipe for Aebleskiver batter: Danish Pancake Balls (Aebleskiver) from MyRecipes.com My kids prefer aebleskiver without the apple inside - just plain with powdered sugar or with maple syrup.
Several months ago, I won this unique pan by participating in a fun and informative phone conference by Kitchen Wizard Mari on how to cook this Danish treat. Aunt Else’s Aebleskiver didn’t ask me to write this post. It’s purely my opinion and I really like their product.
Would you like to make Aeblskiver? What would you put inside?
Since we’re in the thick of the holiday season, I’ve been thinking about how to “green” our holiday shopping. Many love to shop during this time – I get it. I’ve done it too and got some great bargains. Here are my suggestions as you venture out:
- Buying Food as Gifts
How about a bottle of fancy olive oil or vinegar for the foodie in your life? Check out farmer’s markets for small batch specialty foods. For Twin Cities residents, take a trip to Midtown Global Market and the Local D’lish happenings at Mill City Farmer’s Market.
- Making Food as Gifts
Try your hand at homemade chocolate truffles and chocolate dipped pretzel rods. A lot of holiday treats freeze well so you can make them ahead of time. Buy some little boxes and bags at a craft store for fancy packaging.
- Remember reusable bags
Check out the huge and convenient IKEA shopping bags for 59 cents and use them during your shopping spree. I’ve got 3 of these and use them all the time for shopping and for makeshift laundry baskets!
- Shop locally
If you usually shop at big box stores, try at least one stop at a locally owned store. You will likely be amazed at the selection that you can’t get in any big box location.Some of my Twin Cities local favorites are: Patina, Nokomis Shoes, Bibelot, Electric Fetus, Cooks of Crocus Hill and Creative Kids Stuff. Be sure to check their sites – some have online deals if you can’t shop in person.
- Buy consignment & reused
Turn Style and Half Price Books are great places to browse and pick up something for yourself too.
- Skip the drive-through
Eat at at a locally owned restaurant after you’ve shopped. Buy some gift certificates for your friends and family if you like the place.
- Buy original art as gifts
Artists will appreciate your business and you’ll give something unique to the person who has everything.
- Give the gift of a cultural experience
A gift certificate to a world cuisine restaurant or tickets to a cultural event that heightens your interest. If you don’t know where to start, check out event schedules from local colleges and universities.
- Invest in rechargable batteries
We haven’t done this yet. This might be the year!
- Order online
My favorite way to shop – it saves gas and time. The Post Office, FedEx, and UPS know the most fuel efficient routes, much better than we do.
- Think about last year
How did you handle holiday shopping last year? Did you like your choices? Did it make you cringe? Remember what you liked and didn’t like and set some green improvement goals.
- Last and most importantly – if you’re heading out holiday shopping
- Be kind to others
- Be polite to the store staff, and
- Give a smile to those around you.
A little kindness goes a long way.
What are your suggestion for “greening” the holidays?
This was originally posted in 2009 and updated. Lovely snowy river photo by rkramer62
You have the turkey, the stuffing, the cranberries, the potatoes, and the pumpkin pie all planned out. But what about the green beans?
Do you love green bean casserole like I do, but don’t like the calories in that innocent looking dish? Give this lighter and simpler recipe a try: Thanksgiving Sesame Green Beans. And don’t save it for just Thanksgiving – this side dish is easy enough for any day.
You can sometimes find bags of fresh (not frozen) green beans in the produce section that say “steam in bag”. I bought a bag and used it for this dish.
Thanksgiving Sesame Green Beans
Recipe by Striving Bean
- Fresh green beans (not frozen). As many as you think you’ll need for your guests.
Snap off ends of green beans.
- 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (or toast your own from these instructions).
Can add more if desired.
- 2 Tablespoons sesame seed oil
- Sea salt to taste
- Boil a pot of water, large enough for the green beans
- When water is boiling, carefully place green beans in pot
- Blanche (boil) green beans for 2 minutes. This is to quickly soften the texture of green beans. Don’t skip this step.
- Drain green beans.
- Heat sesame oil in a pan, medium high heat.
- Place well-drained green beans in pan.
- Add sesame seeds and sea salt.
- Sautée for a few minutes.
- Serve warm.
Our family weighs in:
- Everybody like this easy side dish, my husband especially.
Will you be making green beans for Thanksgiving?
How do you make donuts healthier? You bake them instead of deep frying! Honey Pumpkin Baked Donuts are an experiment born from a snow day at home. Mid-November brought us snow in Minnesota. Lots of snow – so no driving, no errands. Baking, playing in the yard, and hot chocolate.
These Honey Pumpkin Baked Donuts are a cinch to make. I used a Norpro 6-Count Nonstick Donut Pan, which forms nicely shaped donuts.
If you don’t have a donut pan, you can easily make a donut by squeezing out the dough from a pastry bag, or a Ziploc bag with the end cut off. Form the best circles you can on a baking stone or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
When you squeeze out the dough on a baking sheet, try to form better circles than I did!
Honey Pumpkin Baked Donuts
Makes about 16 donuts
Recipe by Striving Bean
- 2 Cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (0.25 cup) ground flax seeds
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon (0.50 teaspoon) baking soda
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup pureed pumpkin
- 3/4 cup (0.75 cup) honey
- 1/4 cup (0.25 cup) milk
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 Tablespoon butter, melted
- For optional honey glaze, you’ll need: Honey, butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract. See Martha Stewart’s Honey Glaze
- If using honey glaze, you can sprinkle on toppings: sliced almonds, flaked coconut, sprinkles, etc.
- You can roll donuts in powdered sugar too.
- Cream Cheese “Frosting” – mix together cream cheese, finely chopped walnuts (or pecans) and honey.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
- Lightly grease donut pan. If using cookie sheet, use parchment paper. If using baking stone, no greasing necessary
- Mix together dry ingredients.
- In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix
- Carefully scoop dough into pastry bag
- Squeeze out dough into circle shapes
- Bake 12- 16 minutes until donuts spring back when touched
- Cool slightly before removing from pan/cookie sheet
- Optional – Top with Martha Stewart’s Honey Glaze and other toppings or cream cheese “frosting”
- Optional – dip/roll in powdered sugar (no honey glaze needed)
Our family weighs in:
- The kids loved the plain donuts best.
- Husband loved the honey glaze.
- My fave was the cream cheese “frosting”