what’s on our table



Art comes in many different forms. For me, making a pretty plate with local food is one of the ways I unwind. When I try something new, and it looks appetizing on the plate, it makes something in my heart feel alive. Here’s what’s been on the table at the Brankshire home this summer. Best part? Most of the vegetables came from a tiny little patch right outside of my door. Can’t beat the flavor of food that was picked 10 seconds before it hit your table.

What’s been cooking for you guys this summer?

Quick & Easy: Burrito Shell Pizza


We love our pizza around here. Loaded with veggies and just enough sauce? It’s a perfect way to round out a day. But, cooking pizza from scratch can take a long time. Ordering out isn’t always an option with our budget. And I don’t always think ahead well enough to have pre-made crusts on hand for when we really want it right now. So I started making a little short cut pizza using burrito shells. We could have our pizza within minutes, and hardly heat up the house on a hot day. I’d say it was a win for us.

photo (5)

What You Need

  • Burrito Shells
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Diced veggies of choice (we will put just about anything on ours!)
  • Cheese of Choice
  • Oil
  • Herbs

What You Do

  1. Brush shells with olive oil and sprinkle garlic salt and dried oregano (or italian seasoning) on them. Put them in the oven to warm up.
  2. Spread pasta sauce on the shell.
  3. Top with your favorite veggies. We go for just about anything we have on hand: spinach, broccoli bits, asparagus, peppers, mushrooms, olives, onions and fresh tomato slices. But you can just use what you like in a pizza! Return to oven to let the veggies get tender.
  4. After the veggies are just about perfect, top with cheese of your choice. We’ve used soy cheese, nut based cheese or even crumbled, seasoned tofu as vegetarian options.
  5. Slide it onto your plate and enjoy your personal sized pizza


If you’re in a real hurry, you can start cooking the veggies in a pan on the top of the stove. This will cut down the time that they need to be in the oven and also can help keep the shell from getting too crispy!

Quick & Easy: Garbanzo Salad

I ate a bowl of garbanzo salad for lunch. For supper we had our version of fresh spring rolls. (for the third time in two weeks, I might add. Yum!)

What do these two meals have in common?

Both of them are simple, fast, and require minimal or no cooking. Those are the kinds of meals that I like to keep ingredients handy for on busy, summer days. When it is too hot to think of turning on the oven, and I’m too busy to spend much time on supper, it feels good to have some simple options that are delicious, cool, and quick!

Today I want to tell you about the first recipe in a mini series I’m starting that will tell you some of our favorite summer time menu items. Not all of them are cold, but they are all quick & easy! Some of them are simple enough that there’s no real recipe. Just a few ingredients mixed together and served!

Here’s the “recipe” for what I ate for lunch: Summer Garbanzo Salad


What You Need

  • Cooked Garbanzos
  • Fresh Tomato, diced
  • Fresh Cucumber, diced
  • Dollop of Mayo (or dressing of choice)
  • Mustard (just a tiny sneeze)
  • Fresh Parsley, minced (optional)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt

What You Do

Put everything into a bowl, season to taste. Mix and serve with lettuce or just buy itself. Yum!


Here’s another way I like serving this salad!  Before I add the veggies, I’ll sometimes lightly mash a few of the beans. Mix it up, and serve it with a little extra dressing and some finely shredded lettuce inside of a whole grain pita pocket. It’s perfect for a summer picnic!

What do some of your Quick & Easy Summertime meals consist of? I’d love to hear!

P.S Don’t miss out on this amazing Homemaking eBundle that’s on sale for just a few days. 97 eBooks for $29.97. There’s even some simple summer recipe eBooks in there!

linked up today with One Project At a Time

what’s cooking: luncheon meat

There are a couple things that I like to make ahead and freeze to make every day vegetarian cooking a little easier. They aren’t things we eat all the time, but they sure do make it handy on days when the clock speeds up and supper time is too close for comfort.

Sometimes I put it off because some substitutes are a lot of work and make a big mess. Sometimes I just tell myself that because I don’t feel like doing it. Really though, I like to keep it simple when it comes to cooking. And this luncheon meat is pretty much as simple as it gets.

There’s lots of room for experimenting with the flavor and texture. But it is pretty good in a sandwich just like this. Smile This is my mother in law’s recipe.

Luncheon Slices

Blend together:
3/4 cup soy (OR other bean flours e.g. garbanzo, black bean, etc., or  combination of) flour
3/4 cup ww flour
3/4 cup cashews OR sunflower seeds, or mix of both
2 1/4 cups canned tomatoes (with the juice)
2 1/4 tsp. salt
3 tsp. onion granules
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder OR 1 tsp. cumin + 1/2 tsp. paprika
3/4 tsp. oregano
1 1/2 tsp. sage
Blend all above ingredients together until smooth. Add water as necessary to make a pancake batter consistency.  Pour into bowl and stir in:
1 1/2 – 1 3/4 gluten flour. (You can experiment with other flours if you’d like to try to eliminate the gluten.)

Place the mixture into oiled large tall cans – (the size of a large can of pumpkin or tomatoes). You want to fill about 2/3 full.  You can then cover the top of the can with a piece of wax paper and then foil over that to keep the foil away from the mixture.  The cans are then placed on a rack in the bottom of a large pan with few inches of water in the bottom of the pan.  Cover the pan, and bring to a boil.  Adjust the heat to keep at a slow boil, and let steam slowly for about 1 1/2 hours – be sure that the pan doesn’t run out of water.

After time is is up, remove the cans from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.  When cooled and if the pans were oiled well, the loaf can be removed from the cans.  You can slice and use once cooled, or place in refrigerator and let chill. 

It took me about five minutes to collect and blend the ingredients and maybe 2 or 3 to put them in the pan. They are now steaming happily on the stove and my kitchen is almost clean again. Simple as that, I now have luncheon meat to eat and enough to freeze.

every day life: a tortenelli experience

There was a day when Russian Borscht & black bread were a regular part of my diet but I’d never tasted a mango. There was another day, when I’d tried ethnic bits of goodness from places around the world, but I’d never tasted a single bite of tortenelli. That day was yesterday.

I find it incredible that we live in a country and a generation when we can pop over to the grocers, and pick out the ingredients to make countless dishes in the flavors of the nations of this world.

We can eat sushi, pickled okra, Chipattis and tropical fruit all in the same week—or even the same day, I suppose, if one had the notion to. We can fix a meal of Phad Thai, and enjoy good ol’ American Apple pie in one sitting. We can make our Borscht just like they do in the old country.

The adventures that we can experience through the foods we explore are likely endless. We may not all have the privilege of seeing the World with our eyes, but we can certainly choose to taste it.

I’m not an expert on foods, and I’m not one to go out of my way to experience new ethnic foods all the time. But every time a chance to add a new food to my “tried list” comes around, I do get excited.

Today, I have not only enjoyed many more bowls of Russian Borscht, devoured countless mangos, but I’ve had my first tortenelli experience. It wasn’t as exotic as the Indonesian Wedding Cuisine (with names I never could figure) that I was generously (over)served, or as unique as some of the tropical fruit I’ve been able to enjoy. In fact, I don’t really know why I never tried it before. But I’m happy to say it is an experience worth repeating. Maybe even tomorrow!

What has your most unique food experience been?

31 days: 5 minute bread


Since all of us kids left home, my dad has discovered a new talent. He makes the most beautiful, and tasty whole grain breads and rolls you could imagine. I am convinced that he could be a pro if he wanted to. His precision and attention to detail make him an ideal candidate for taking up baking, and it pays off with almost always perfect looking products. Growing up, I was the family baker. While I am not as concerned with following the recipe to a T as he is, the love of baking is something we share.

For the past few birthdays, he’s picked out artisan baking related items for me. This year, he and mom bought me this hefty volume called Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I’ve been itching to try it out, and it just seemed like a good day to do it. It really does only take around 5 minutes to mix it up and set it aside to do its thing. Talk about appealing on overly busy days!

I think I’m going to work my way through the book and try out as many of the recipes as I can. Perhaps I’ll report about it here as I go.



linking up with The Nesting Place with my take on October’s 31 days. This is day nine.

Keeping it Simple Soup

I grew up in a home that used a lot of herbs. We had an overflowing spice cabinet that was used regularly. Sometimes I forget that keeping it simple doesn’t mean it won’t be flavorful. My man reminds me of this, unintentionally, all the time.

I married the easiest man to please when it comes to kitchen creations. Of all the recipes I try, and the yummy ideas I experiment with he is rarely happier than when I fix a big pot of veggie soup and serve it with salad and bread.

Not only that, but when I asked what he wanted for lunches, he suggested that I should fix a big pot of the simplest soup I’ve ever made.


Chopped Vegetables.

  •  Potato
  • carrot
  • onion
  • corn
  • green beans
  • I had asparagus this time so that went in too.


Drizzle of Olive Oil when it is cooked.

And that’s all. 


I’m the one who has to have variety. I’m the one who thinks elaborate meals=a point on the check list of being a good wife. 

And yet…if it was up to him, as long as there is plenty of bread and tomatoes, he’d probably live on two or three things indefinitely. How’d I get so lucky? I’m not big on using processed foods very often, and I don’t think cooking can get any more unprocessed than chopping a handful of garden veggies and adding the tiniest touch of salt and oil.

Plus, it is delicious. I can’t wait for supper!

Real {Fast} Food + a giveaway!

Cover2[2]What’s cooking? is a question I’ve heard a lot of over the years.

I’ve always cooked quite a bit, but the day I got married, was the day that I not only took a new last name, and a new role as wife and helpmeet,  it was also the day that I became the full time chef in our newly established home.

That first year, I spent time learning what kinds of food my husband and our housemates liked best. I tried out new things and made menu plans and shopping lists like a pro. After all, I’d grown up cooking from scratch and feeding four was suppose to be easier than feeding six or eight! In all actuality, it took a whole year to figure out how to cook small enough portions that we could eat in a reasonable time frame, but I enjoyed it all.

Lately, though, I’ve gotten out of my cooking groove. Somewhere along the way, I stopped planning menus and writing shopping lists and just sort of started cooking on the spur of the moment. I was deep into Chef’s burnout when I finally opened Trina Holden’s eBook, Real {Fast} Food, and began to read.

Trina’s book was fabulous. It started out right with what I needed to hear the most: what makes real food, “fast” food isn’t necessarily the ingredients, but the planning ahead. It reminded me of all the reasons why menu planning is the “stitch in time that saves nine” in the kitchen, and why it will make my life and yours so much easier if we will just take the time to do it.

Trina, in her book, not just told me why menu planning would save me time in the long run, but she made menu planning for an entire month sound so easy, with step-by-step instructions on how to make it work. There’s even printable in the back to write on!

She talked about master shopping lists & buying in bulk. She shared tips for cooking extra for later, and saving time with organizing your day so that you spend less time in the kitchen with greater results. She shares simple recipes and tucked in things that gave me some good food for thought about sprouting and soaking grains more regularly.

Trina used Real {Fast} Food as a way to inspire busy housewives like myself with tips for successfully feeding our families well, and having a life outside of our kitchens and away from washing dishes. And that’s exactly how I felt when I got done reading it— truly inspired.

Scott and I are vegetarians, mostly vegan, in fact, and thus while not every little detail of Real {Fast} Food applies to the way we eat personally, the principles of eating healthfully, and as close to the way God created food as possible, and the methods for planning that Trina shared are all things that I could relate to, and use in my own kitchen. There is no pressure whatsoever that one way of eating is the only way to eat. As a vegan-Vegetarian, whose dietary choices are often misunderstood, it was refreshing to read another perspective without feeling like the main point of the book was to tell me that I was wrong. Instead, Real {Fast} Food is all about sharing, and encouraging all of us to make better choices for the food we put on our tables whenever possible.

(Watch for a post in the near future on how I use the cooking in bulk and other principles that Trina shares to make my Vegetarian and Vegan cooking faster and more simple on a daily basis.)

Planning ahead is a must for every kitchen, no matter what the particulars of your diet and lifestyle are.

If you are looking for inspiration and how-tos for cooking more healthfully, and for feeding your family more real food, you need to read this book.

Available in PDF, Nook & Kindle Formats, you can read it on the go or print it off to pour over in your kitchen. If you have an iPad or smartphone, consider getting the kindle app. It makes it super easy to refer to no matter where you are!

Best of all, you’ll have a chance to get a copy for free!

Trina is giving away a PDF copy of Real {Fast} Food to a reader of life, laughter & little things.

  • Just leave a comment telling me about one of your favorite “real” foods to enter.
  • Giveaway ends May 1st at 11:59p.m EST
  • Enter some of the other giveaways on the Real {Fast} Food Blog Tour for more chances to win this book!

from Gretchen at Little Pink House (ends April 30th!)

from Jessica at Something Simple (ends May 2nd!)

from Laurie at Homemaker’s Challenge (ends April 26th!)


  • Read more reviews of Real {Fast} Food:

@ the Young Ladies Christian Fellowship

@ Homemaker’s Challenge

@ Dandelion Haven

@ Life in the White House

@ To Live for Him

  • Be sure to “like” the Real {Fast} Food Facebook Page for all sorts of real food tips and photos.
  • Buy a copy for yourself or a friend! At only $6, it makes a great, affordable gift!

on Trina’s website (PDF format, and links to nook and kindle versions)

on amazon.com (iPad and smart phone users, don’t forget you can use the kindle app to get this!)

on nook.com

with my affiliate link

Supper’s on the Stove



Tonight it’ll be chickpea a la king over pasta or maybe rice. It is simple, healthy and so very yummy, and I haven’t made it in a very long time.

The chickpeas were grown in the fields around my in-laws home back in Idaho and are absolutely amazing. I can tell you I’ll miss them when I run out. I soaked the beans a few days ago and stored them (drained) in the fridge until I was ready to use them. The peppers and celery needed to be used up and this was a perfect chance. I can’t wait to eat!

P.S Meet my chef companion, Mr. Ko. He needs a better name. Any suggestions for a good Japanese name that would suit him?

a little bit of my today

+ sleeping in. It felt luxurious

+ starting to write up a post about my first experience with no knead bread, but getting sidetracked with most of the following:

+ discovering that some of the design techniques I’m only just mastering are already going out of date. It’s the nature of the business.

+ reading relative mountain loads of techy articles about <*div> based sites and liquid layouts; I think my mind expanded a good deal, in spite of feeling like at least 3/4ths of of it zipped right over my head. Discovering later, I actually did know what they meant most of the time, just not what they said. Why must everyone use such technical terms for everything?

+ talking recipes with a sister and adding another successful crock pot experiment to my list

+ (almost) finishing a book

+ having fun with creating ylcf graphics, and deciding that I’d better make myself a calendar…or something, if I ever plan on keeping things straight.

+ cooking up supper


Now, I get to snuggle with my sweetie and call it a night. <3