Memorial Day: Freedom Isn’t Free

May 27, 2013

Memorial Day Freedom Rock

Photo of Freedom Rock by Don3rdSE via Flickr

On this Memorial Day 2013, we are beyond thankful, and we honor the sacrifices made for us. We don't express our gratitude often enough or loudly enough.

  • Thank you to everyone who has served our country and given their lives.
  • Thank you to all of the veterans who have protected us and made it back home safely.
  • Thank you to all of those servicemen and women who were wounded or disabled on our behalf.
  • Thank you to all of the families who kept the home fires burning while their loved ones protected us.
  • Thank you to everyone who is serving our country now; defending our freedom in the crazy dangerous world we live in. We pray for a hedge of protection around you.

Thank you all. We thank God for you.


Patriotic Dessert: Red, White & Blue Fruit Flag

May 26, 2013

Patriotic Dessert: Red, White, & Blue Fruit Flag

This no-fuss, festive Fruit Flag is the perfect patriotic dessert to take to your Memorial Day or 4th of July celebration!

I found this idea on and it was super easy and fun to make.  You could make your flag larger or smaller, depending on the size of your platter. My platter was approximately 12″ x 16″ so I used fourteen 10″ bamboo skewers. To make this size, you'll need 9 or 10 bananas, a couple of quarts of strawberries and one quart of blueberries.

Wash the strawberries and blueberries, cut the top off the strawberries and cut in half lengthwise. Cut the bananas into about 2″ slices and put a little lemon juice on them to keep them from turning brown so quickly.  Put the fruit on the skewers, line up your fruit kabobs nice and pretty on your platter, and your Red, White, and Blue Fruit Flag is ready to go!

(I made four extra skewers with just the blueberries on top and laid those in between the others to fill in the blue part of the flag.) You could also use large marshmallows for the white stripes instead of the bananas, if desired.)

We hope everyone has a very safe and Happy Memorial Day!


Vegan Ranch Burgers

May 28, 2012

Yesterday's burger – the U.S. Navy Bean Burger – got two thumbs up! Next on the menu…Vegan Ranch Burgers.

LilSis' Spinach Turkey Burgers looked really tasty to me, and I thought they'd be pretty easy to veganize. I found this recipe for Vegan Ranch Burgers on VegNews and thought it would be the perfect place to start.

The base for the burgers is TVP (textured vegetable protein) and wheat gluten with a little panko. Flavors come from onion, mushrooms, garlic, dill, chipotle, parsley, nutritional yeast, tomato sauce and tamari.

I followed the recipe pretty exactly except for reducing the tamari by 75%, and adding a couple of big handfuls of fresh spinach. Sounds good, right?

Somehow I managed to mess this up. 🙁  Badly.

I started out ok. I got my mise en place done and started the mushrooms, garlic and onion sauteing. The TVP was nuked in veggie broth for a few minutes, and was standing by. Then everything went into the blender to whiz around. Sweet, this was going well! I'm kind of proud at how efficiently I'm cooking. Maybe I should do a cooking video?

Why isn't this working? Maybe I need a little water; I did leave out 3 tablespoons of the tamari since it makes my eyes uber puffy. I add a couple tablespoons of water, and then a couple more, and a couple more, but the blender still won't budge. Crap! What's wrong?

Oh, oops. The directions say to use a food processor. Not a blender.

I dump everything into the food processor, and put the blender in the sink to soak. Now the concoction seems too wet. Maybe I added too much water? 🙁

Did I also process too long? The mix seems really really gluten-ish. Not in a good way.

I scrape everything out of the food processor, and put the processor in the sink to soak. Maybe the mix will come together if I just chill it for a while. That's the ticket. I'm sure that'll work. It works for cookie dough!

Half an hour later, I take the burger stuff out of the fridge and portion into 6 patties. I'm still hopeful that this is going to turn out well. I'm so confident that I even pull out my scale and weigh the burger balls so they're all equal in size (5.25 ounces, if you care).

I don't have a grill pan, so I oil up a couple of Green Pans, and plop the perfectly-shaped and evenly-weighed patties in. I set the timer for 10 minutes per side, as per the recipe.

So now the patties are sticking? I guess I needed more oil. I used my Green Pans though. For cryin out loud, stuff ain't supposed to stick in a Green Pan!

I add a bit more oil and try to swish it under the sticking patties. The timer goes off so I flip the patties over, and set it for another 10 minutes on side #2.

I'm noticing that these guys are getting pretty dark. Too dark. They're still way mushy though. I'm sure they aren't done. I keep cooking. And cooking. Now they're really getting dark. And they're still wiggly.

Now I give up. I put/slam a couple of patties on a paper plate and nuke the daylights outta them. You just try being mushy now, you stubborn veggie patty nemesis of mine!

Finally! The patties seem firm. Only problem is, now they look like beef. And feel like beef. And they look nothing like the pretty photo on VegNews.

Vegan Ranch Burger Pile


I try to make the patties look pretty so you don't see my disaster…

Vegan Ranch Burger

…but all I've really done is cover up the patty with avocado and tomato. The ugly is still lurking there in-between the avocado and the collards.

The bright point is that the flavors were pretty good. It didn't taste “ranchy” to me, but it was tasty. Not hot and not too spicy; just a nice balance of flavors.

The main issue I had was the texture. First it was mushy, then it was too beefy. I know I took a bunch of wrong turns with this burger, so I can't fault the recipe (I love you, VegNews). I'm finding though that my taste tends away from beefy texture that is too realistically meat-like. I probably am better off with burgers that don't contain TVP or wheat gluten.

Vegan Ranch Burger Close

The other issue is that I dirtied up a ton of dishes, wasted some good ingredients, and took a big chunk of time out of my day that I could have spent on Pinterest! 🙂

And the worst part? It was all my bad. I'm sure this recipe works beautifully when the cook doesn't screw it up!

The bottom line? I'm not gonna lie…I'm a better baker and LilSis is a better cook! I bet she could take this recipe and throw these dudes on her magic grill and they'd be freakin awesome! I'm gonna go make brownies now…this mess was stressful.


U.S. Navy Bean Burgers

May 27, 2012

Before I went vegan a couple of years ago, I had been vegetarian for over 16 years and had consumed more than my share of Morningstar Farms frozen meat substitutes. I don't really do that any more since I try to eat as few processed foods as possible and less soy, and most of the frozen veggie burgers, patties, and sausages aren't vegan anyway. I'm not really a fan of most of the ones that are vegan, so it works out.

I do get plenty of protein, thank you for wondering. 🙂 One of the ways I do that is through beans, so I was intrigued by this recipe for a burger made with white beans. It's from one of my cookbooks called The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions by Celine Steen. It's a fabulous little cookbook that I've glanced through several times, but this is the first time I've made anything from it.

Celine calls this recipe White Bean Cutlets, and says you can use any white bean. In honor of Memorial Day, I made this with navy beans, and am proclaiming it the U.S. Navy Bean Burger!

This is my own little tribute to my nephew and niece-in-law who are serving in our Navy right now. At this minute, they are separated from each other and from their little baby boy, so a big thank you and God bless you goes out to them.

Now for the burgers…

Navy Bean Burger

U.S. Navy Bean Burgers (vegan, soy-free, corn-free)

1 15 oz can navy beans, drained and rinsed
1 tblsp minced garlic
1 tblsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp Beau Monde
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Oil for sauteeing

In a large mixing bowl, combine the beans, seasonings and olive oil. Mash all together with a fork until few whole beans are seen. Add in the panko and mix together well. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes.

Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions, and shape into burgers. Saute in a small amount of oil over medium heat for 4 or 5 minutes per side, until golden and crispy on the outside.

 Navy Bean Burger Closer

I loved these burgers! You can tell how quickly the recipe comes together. In literally 30 minutes (including sitting time) you can have dinner on the table. You've also spent maybe $2 on entrees for 4 people. You can't even do that at Taco Bell!

My cooking style is usually pretty spicy with big flavors, so this mild flavored burger was a departure for me, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The recipe lends itself to a wide variety of variations. I think you could add some cooked chopped mushrooms to the mixture, along with any spice combination you like. I followed Celine's recipe pretty closely this first time, just subbing Beau Monde for celery salt, and omitting 1/4 cup of water I didn't need.

So how do you serve these? I'm not big on bread these days (these already have bread crumbs in them too), so I'm into making collards wraps with anything I'd put in a sammie or on a bun. The bean burgers are delicate in flavor, almost like a fish would be, so I added some Veganaise tartar sauce to my wrap, along with avocado and tomato. With a sprinkle of salt and a dash of Frank's Red Hot Sauce, this is a delicious, quick, inexpensive, and healthy lunch for 4.

I'll be back tomorrow with another Memorial Day vegan burger that's the polar opposite of this one. Did I like it as much? Hmmm…we'll see!


Spinach Turkey Burgers

May 25, 2012

It's hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that Memorial Day is just a couple of days away.  In celebration of  the upcoming holiday, this weekend will be filled with family get-togethers, cookouts, relaxing by the pool with friends, picnics, and trips to the lake or the beach.

Our weekend will also include lots of pre-Senior Prom picture taking. 🙂

No matter what you're doing this weekend, I'm sure there's some grillin' goin' on! What are you having? Brisket? Hot dogs? Burgers? A little bit of everything?  Instead of a traditional beef hamburger, how about trying a healthy Spinach Turkey Burger instead?

Before you poo-poo the idea as dry and boring (like most turkey burgers), hear me out!

Spinach Turkey Burger

I'm the first to admit that I love sinking my teeth into a fat, juicy, double bacon cheeseburger but, since I'm trying really hard to eat healthier, I've eliminated almost all beef. We may make a pot roast on a cold day or grill a nice tri-tip for a special occasion, but other than that, we aren't eating much beef. I'm substituting turkey for beef in almost all my recipes, including spaghetti sauce and chili.

The guys had their burgers on a bun but even if I wasn't watching my carbs, I'd still rather just eat mine on a plate with tomato and avocado on the top and on the side.

Spinach Turkey Burger

When shopping in Trader Joe's this week, I couldn't resist buying these gorgeous heirloom tomatoes. I got 2 pounds of a nice variety for a great price and they were the perfect addition to my Spinach Turkey Burgers.

Heirloom Tomatoes

I've played around for a while with different variations of turkey burgers in an attempt to come up with a tasty and juicy burger. By combining the spinach and the mushrooms with the turkey breast, these burgers stay nice and moist.

Spinach Turkey Burger

Spinach Turkey Burgers

1 1/2 lbs lean ground turkey breast
8 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed
4 oz chopped mushrooms (I used Crimini)
1 egg
1/4 c bread crumbs
1 shallot, grated
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Drizzle of olive oil
Pepper to taste
Salt to taste

Mix together in a large bowl the spinach, mushrooms, egg, bread crumbs, shallot, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce.  Add that mixture to the turkey breast and stir together with a fork just until combined.

Divide the mixture and form into patties. Before putting the patties on a plate, drizzle a little olive oil on the plate. This will keep the patties from sticking to the plate and the grill.

Grill for 4-5 minutes on each side, depending on size. Turn as soon as the burgers look white around the edges and release easily from the grill. Let rest for 5 minutes.

(Note: For 1 1/2 lbs of turkey breast, I made eight burgers, but you can make them smaller and they will cook even quicker. The most important part about grilling these is to not overcook them.)

Check back on Sunday for another healthy burger. Since this one is coming from BigSis, it'll be vegan, of course.

No matter where you are or what you're doing this weekend, be safe and have a Happy Memorial Day!


Happy Memorial Day

May 30, 2011


We wish everyone a safe and happy Memorial Day!

Last weekend, I attended a function called Operation Appreciation which was held at the Oceanside Pier in honor of Military Appreciation Day.

It was a great day because I was able to watch my son, Bry, with his Naval Unit working on the beach during the LCAC demonstration.

Here are just a few shots that I wanted to share today.

Our entire family is extremely proud of our newly-promoted Petty Officer!

We want to thank everyone

who has or is serving in our U.S. Military for sacrificing

their lives each and every day

to protect our country.

And, we honor all who have made the ultimate

sacrifice and lost their lives while serving our country.

Today is a day to remember them all!


Memorial Day Prayer

May 31, 2010

American Flag

On this Memorial Day, we take a moment to remember the service men and women who have given their lives defending our country and protecting our freedom.  We thank you.

We ask for God's blessings on the families who were left behind when their loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice.  We thank you.

We appreciate the service of all of our veterans who did make it back home; some physically injured and some emotionally wounded.  We thank you.

And we think of our military personnel who are unselfishly serving right now all around the world.  We thank you.

Tomorrow, we'll get back to work and our daily business, and we probably won't think of you in gratitude as often as we should.  Today though, we thank God for you all and lift up this prayer on your behalf.

Dear Heavenly Father,

As we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, we think of how they have followed in the footsteps of your son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Please hold our service men and women in your strong arms. Cover them with your sheltering grace and presence as they stand in the gap for our protection.

We also remember the families of our troops, and ask for your unique blessings to fill their homes and your peace, provision and strength to fill their lives.

May the members of our armed forces be filled with courage to face each day and may they trust in the Lord's mighty power to accomplish each task. Let our military brothers and sisters feel our love and support.

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

~Memorial Day Prayer by Mary Fairchild


Happy Memorial Day

May 25, 2009

We've talked about food and drinks for Memorial Day, but we know those are just minor things in the big scheme of things.  They're fun things, but they are trivial.  Memorial Day is all about gratitude.

  • To all of the men and women who have given their lives in the service of our country, we say thank you.
  • To the families and friends of service men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice, we say thank you.
  • To all of the men and women who are defending our country this very day and this very minute all around the world, we say thank you.
  • To the loved ones who are living their lives thousands of miles away from their family members who are serving now, we say thank you.
  • To all of the veterans who have returned home after serving in the military, we say thank you.


Happy Memorial Day, everyone.  And thank you.  We appreciate you.


Patriotic Cocktails

May 24, 2009

Anyone who knows us, knows that we take any opportunity we can to get together with friends and family. Unfortunately, our family can't be together this Memorial Day so we'll be getting together with friends. I thought it might be fun to serve up some festive Patriotic Cocktails so here are just a few ideas.

Here's an easy, Red, White, and Blue Cocktail.

Red, White, and Blue Cocktail

Red, White, and Blue Cocktail

Red, White, and Blue Cocktail

1 part grenadine
1 part peach schnapps
1 part blue curacao

Simply pour each part slowly into a shot glass in order:  red, white, and blue.

Here are two more really easy, yet very colorful cocktails.

Yankee Doodle

Yankee Doodle

Yankee Doodle

1 part blue raspberry flavored vodka
2 parts sour mix or lemonade
1 part tonic water

Just pour into a rocks glass, stir and serve over ice.

Patriotic Punch

1 part red cherry flavored vodka
3 parts lemonade

Pour into a rocks glass, stir and serve.

And, I really like this one. I'm sure you could substitute vodka for the gin, if you're not a gin lover.

Blueberry Cobbler

Blueberry Cobbler

Blueberry Cobbler

1/4 c. fresh blueberries
1 small lime wedge
1 1/2 t. sugar
1 1/2 oz. gin
2 oz. club soda

In a cocktail shaker, muddle 15 of the blueberries with the lime wedge and sugar. Add the gin and ice and shake well. Strain into a highball glass half-filled with ice, top with the club soda and garnish with the remaining blueberries.

And, how about some red, white, and blue jello shots? Find all three recipes here on recipezaar.

I always like to serve up a festive cocktail, or two, for whatever the occasion may be, so maybe this gives you a couple of ideas.

Of course, this Memorial Day, we will be remembering what our service men and women do for us every day.

And, we will be remembering those who served our country that are no longer with us. SirHoney's brother was a Marine and served our country in Vietnam. We will definitely be thinking of him this Memorial Day, as we do every day.


A Vegetarian Memorial Day Menu

May 23, 2009

I can't believe that Memorial Day is here already, that is; summer is here already.  Wasn't it just Christmas, for cryin' out loud?  Seriously, time is going by scary fast and it freaks me out.  The next time I turn around I'm going to be on Social Security, when I still feel like I should be on Spring Break instead.  How does life get by us so quickly?

So.  What I was about to talk about before I wigged out?  Oh yeah, food for Memorial Day.  Alrighty then.  We're supposed to have rain here the whole DING.  DANG.  WEEKEND.  The whole weekend.  My first reaction was to be hissed off.  We work all week long, and then when the long holiday weekend comes along, we get rain?  3 days of rain?  Seriously?

But then I got a grip on my attitude and decided that I would make the best of the weather, whatever it was.  I can't control it so there's no point in getting worked up about it, right?  We still have 3 days off work.  Hallelujah!  So I vow to whine no more this weekend, even if I get mildewed by Tuesday morning.

However, with the weather being so sketchy, I haven't wanted to commit to any plans that rely on a sunny day so I'm not doing the cookout thing.  That doesn't mean I can't think about what I would make for a Memorial Day soiree if I was having one.

Memorial Day is traditionally a burger/hot dog grilling kind of a day.  But maybe some of you are looking for ideas for Monday, and maybe you're like me and want suggestions that don't involve eating critters?  Allow me to give you a sample menu that I would make if I were making it.  I'm going with a Mediterranean theme, up until dessert when it's unapologetically patriotic all the way!  Check out this menu, and enjoy your weekend…soggy or not!  I'm reminded by my conscience that this weekend is about the sacrifices made by our military men and women; NOT about whether I get to sit by the pool or not!

  • Olive Garden's Bruschetta from Todd Wilbur's “Top Secret Restaurant Recipes” via Cooking with Good Morning America
  • Grilled Portabella Mushroom Burgers with Tarragon Mustard Aioli from DIY Network

Red White 'n' Blue Salad from Taste of Home

Red White 'n' Blue Salad from Taste of Home