Tag Archives: do it yourself

Master Recipe: Reductions

Wait! Don’t let the word ‘reduction’ scare you away, it’s one of the easiest techniques to mater and will help you create deeply flavorful sauces for all kinds of dishes.

You simply start with a seasoned liquid, anything from balsamic vinegar to broth, boil it down to a fraction of its volume, and you’re done! What you will have is a concentrated sauce that’s naturally thick and redolent with flavor.

master recipe:
1) Sauté 1/4 cup chopped onion, green onion, and/or celery, plus 1 teaspoon ginger and/or garlic (optional) in 1 to 2 tablespoons oil or butter over medium-low heat until golden brown.
2) Add 1 cup broth, wine, or fruit or vegetable juice, plus fresh or dried herbs (sprigs work well) and/or spices.
3) Boil mixture, uncovered, until syrupy and reduced by at least half.
4) Strain, and discard solids.

Here’s a few reductions to get you started:

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 leek, chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 and 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup dry sherry
6 whole peppercorns
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves

To make Demi~Glace: Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add leek, carrot, and celery; sauté 10 minutes. Stir in flour; cook 2 minutes, or until flour begins to brown. Add tomato paste, garlic, broth, wine, and sherry and simmer 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool 30 minutes. Strain mixture through sieve, and discard solids.
**Demi-glace is a classic French brown sauce with hundreds of uses, it can be spooned over roasted-vegetable dishes or used to flavor soups.**

Balsamic~Agave Drizzle
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon plus 1 and 1/2 teaspoon agave
3 allspice berries
3 whole peppercorns
1 sprig fresh rosemary

To make Balsamic~Agave Drizzle: Bring vinegar, 1 tablespoon agave, allspice, peppercorns, and rosemary sprig to a boil in small saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes, or until reduced to 1/2 cup. Remove rosemary sprig and spices; stir in remaining 1 and 1/2 teaspoon agave.
**Gastrique is a culinary term for the reduced balsamic sauce, it can be drizzled it over parsnip fritters.**

Lemongrass~Orange Reduction
2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon minced fresh lemongrass
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 and 1/2 tablespoons tamari

To make Lemongrass~Orange Reduction: Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and pepper; sauté 3 minutes. Whisk in juice, broth, and tamari. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
**This bright citrus sauce makes a tasty topping for roasted squash.**

master recipe:
1) Combine 1 cup juice, wine, or balsamic vinegar
and 2 to 8 tablespoons agave, sugar, or maple syrup in small saucepan.
2) Add herbs (rosemary, thyme, lavender, and lemony
herbs are good choices) and/or spices (cinnamon,
nutmeg, cloves, vanilla).
3) Boil mixture, watching it closely to prevent
scorching, until syrupy and reduced by at least half.
(Sweet reductions will thicken as they cool.)
4) Strain, and discard solids.

Spiced Zinfandel Syrup with Fruit Compote
3 cups dry red wine
1/3 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
16 whole pitted prunes or dried plums
16 whole dried figs
16 whole dried pitted apricots
1/4 cup dried pitted cherries

Bring wine, 1 cup water, sugar, cinnamon stick, and vanilla bean to a boil in large saucepan. Add prunes, figs, apricots, and cherries, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 1 hour. Cool. Remove cinnamon stick and vanilla bean, and chill 3 hours.

Other Master Recipe Posts:

{Source: Vegetarian Times, October 2012}

Homemade Citrus Infused Household Cleaner

Citrus works great as a degreaser, stain remover and freshener.  Vinegar is also a great cleaning agent, breaking down mold, grease, mineral deposits and bacteria.  Combine the two and you have a great natural cleaner.

Citrus Collage // Herbivore Triathlete

This cleaner is eco-friendly not only because it is biodegradable and safe to use, but because it is making use of products that would otherwise be thrown in the trash.


  1. Place the leftover rinds from any citrus fruit (orange, grapefruit, lemon, etc) into a glass jar.
  2. Pour white vinegar over top of the rinds until vinegar covers the rinds.
  3. Put a lid on it and let it sit for 2 weeks.
  4. Remove rinds, strain liquid through a sieve, and store in a glass jar.
  5. Use diluted 1:1 water to citrus vinegar in a spray bottle.

Remember the dishwasher detergent I made? I told you then that the vinegar works as a rinse aid and that citric acid is what keeps deposits and buildups off your dishes. I know sometimes I miss the lemon-y smell of store bought dishwasher detergent. Now, I’ve got a solution! Use this simple, 2 ingredient cleaner as the rinse aid. Perfect!

Check out my other Do It Yourself posts!

Weekly Rewind~St. Patrick’s Day Edition

rewind st. pats

Pro Compression Marathon Shamrock Socks-Experience maximum benefit with the Marathon full-length, graduated compression sock. Compression technology helps improve blood flow, resulting in better, more consistent performance with less fatigue and faster, more efficient recovery. In addition to improving vascular performance, Marathon compression socks provide support to critical muscles and tendons, helping reduce inflammation and soreness.


Lucky BIC Bands-Don’t get pinched this year, with our LUCKY BIC Band in a versatile emerald green. Great for your St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock run!

clover bic band

Do It Yourself Fabric Paint St. Patrick’s Day Towel-Add just a touch of St. Patrick’s Day to your kitchen with fabric paint. It’s easy to make up quick dish towels to celebrate any event with a little fabric paint and a whole lot of imagination!

handpainted St.Patrick's Day Towel

Leprechaun Prints-You know those leprechauns are up to nothing but trouble when this time of year rolls around.

leprechaun prints

Shenanigans T-Shirt-There is just one question have you tried a Crazy Dog T-shirt yet?  Just Wait until you slip on one of these super soft tees.   You’ll instantly fall in love! Not only are they printed on super soft cotton but the tees fit great on too!

shenanigans shirt

Green Powerhouse Pesto Plate-“This isn’t actually “pesto” per say since it’s nut-free, but it’s close enough. I adapted my beloved creamy avocado dressing for this one. It’s a simple blend of avocado, basil, extra virgin olive oil, lemon, sea salt, and garlic. The dressing has a nice zip to it, kicking up the dish several notches which is always a good thing when cooking with millet.” -Angela Liddon


Colcannon-Colcannon is really just mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage mixed in, but it’s one of those concoctions where the sum is equal to more than the parts.


Leprechaun Grilled Cheese-Grilled Cheese sandwich with broccoli pesto, your kids will love it!

grilled cheese

Shamrock Shake Up-Mint leaves, simple syrup, vodka and soda are shaken up for a fun adult beverage.


Shamrock Juice-Pineapple juice, sparkling lemonade, sparkling white grape juice
lime Popsicles, & green apples are all you will need for this fun drink!

shamrock green drinks

Mint Chocolate Chip Frosting Shots-Chocolate Covered Katie does it again! “This mint-chocolate cream is great for any of the following; as a frosting for cakes or cupcakes, for peppermint ice cream sundaes or brownies, as a rich and decadent pudding or mousse, to make friends with leprechauns!”

frosting shot

Minty Grasshopper Pie-“Layers of green soy-based mint-vanilla pudding mingle with a chocolate cookie crumble crust and minty white, whipped fluff on top. All vegan. And that mint green color with tiny mint-colored specks is 100% natural. It was achieved by blending in a pinch of baby spinach (but don’t worry, you can’t taste it). This silky, creamy, cloud-like pie will refresh your palate and make all your mint chocolate dreams come true!”-Kathy Patalsky

grasshopper pie

For even more St. Patrick’s Day ideas and inspiration check out my Pinterest board!

Disclaimer: The cookies and food on my Pinterest board are not all vegan, but they are all vegetarian!

Master Recipe: Vinaigrette

I love a good homemade salad dressing, don’t you? For a smooth sauce that clings to leafy greens and has the right balance of creaminess and tang, follow the master vinaigrette recipe below. Feel free to play around with the basic ratio using different acids, binders, flavoring, and oils. There is no limit to the endless and tasty possibilities!

When you blend vinaigrette ingredients, an emulsion is created that suspends droplets of acidic liquid in the oil. Sooner or later, the vinaigrette will separate, but a binding ingredient such as mustard can slow down the process to keep the dressing blended longer.

master recipe:
Combine1 part vinegar (or another acidic liquid, such as citrus juice)
1 teaspoon mustard.
Whisk, shake, or blend  3 parts oil
into vinegar mixture. Toss with salad.
Use about 1/4 cup vinaigrette for every
6 to 8 cups salad.

basic-vinaigrette // www.herbivoretriathlete.wordpress.com

{Source: My Recipes}

Here’s a few vinaigrettes to get you started:

Walnut~Tarragon Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons walnut oil
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot or red onion

Miso Dressing
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 and 1/2 teaspoon miso paste
3 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil

Cracked Pepper Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 teaspoon red or white wine vinegar, optional
1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1 and 1/2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional

Peanut~Lime Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons grapeseed or peanut oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional

Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional

Wasabi Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon white rice vinegar
1 teaspoon wasabi paste
3 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
1 and 1/2 teaspoon minced gari (pickled ginger)
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional

{Source: Vegetarian Times, September 2012}

What’s your favorite kind of dressing? Do ever make your own at home? I like to keep mine simple and play around quite a bit with different combinations.

Sunflower Seed Butter {homemade, vegan}

Have you ever had Sunflower seed butter? Who ever thought of this is a genius!

My kids’ school offers this delightful spread instead of peanut butter since it seems so many kids are allergic these days. My kids love sunflower seed butter and will often choose it for their lunches at school and have requested that we buy some to have at home as well.

I thought it may be difficult to find in our local grocery store since we live in a very small town, but lo and behold, I was able to find it. But holy cow, is it expensive! I took a peek at the ingredients list and thought to myself that I could probably make sunflower seed butter at home easily and for much cheaper!

I could not find any unsalted or un-roasted seeds in this particular store so I went ahead and bought the roasted and salted kind. All this means is that I won’t be adding any salt when combining the ingredients. I also happened to find small packets of vanilla sugar and picked those up as well. You could just as easily use plain sugar and vanilla extract. Two ingredients and I was well on my way to homemade sunflower seed butter!

seeds and sugar collage
Ingredients: Makes about 1/2 cup sunflower butter


  • 1 cup sunflower seeds (I used roasted and salted)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla sugar


**Notes: You can use plain sunflower seeds and simply add salt to taste. You can also use 1-2 teaspoons cane sugar and 1 teaspoons vanilla extract in place of the vanilla sugar.**

Sunflower Butter Collage


  • Add 1 cup sunflower seeds into a food processor and blend. Scrape down sides from time to time to ensure all the seeds get blended. This will take some time, mine took about 5-10 minutes, however, I have a very small food processor so if you have a larger more powerful one, this will likely go much quicker.
  • Once a smooth buttery consistency is reached add up to 2 teaspoons of vanilla sugar (or cane sugar plus vanilla extract). Blend until well combined.
  • Transfer sunflower seed butter to a glass jar with a lid.
  • Enjoy on toast or straight from a spoon!

**Store sunflower butter in fridge for up to 2 months. Do not freeze!**

Homemade Veggie Wash

Should you wash your fruits and vegetables before eating them? I know I do!

There are several reasons why you should take the time to wash your fruits and veggies before eating them.

To begin with, unless your fruits and vegetables are organic, they grew up in fields covered in pesticides and herbicides. Although the pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables are considered to be at safe levels for human consumption, do you really want those extra chemicals on your food? Once your fruits and vegetables were ready for harvest, they were handled by several different pairs of hands in the fields and orchards, then in the warehouses, and finally again in your grocery store. Bacteria such as ListeriaSalmonella and E. coli may all be lurking on your produce, whether they are organically grown or conventionally grown. These bacteria all cause food-borne illness and need to be washed away.¹

Maybe you only buy organic fruits and veggies, so you don’t believe there’s a need to wash your produce, well think again!

Organic fruits and vegetables may not be grown with pesticides, but they’re still susceptible to “pesticide drift,” which is what happens when the wind blows chemicals from a nearby conventional field. Pesticide contamination can also happen during packaging, since many produce companies use the same warehouses to package both organic and non-organic produce.

But the biggest reason to wash your fruits and vegetables is to get rid of germs, according to Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with the Environmental Working Group

But I’m eating an orange/banana/cantaloupe you say, there’s a peel on it, I don’t need to wash that! Wait, do I?

The fact is, yes you should even wash produce that have inedible peels such as bananas and oranges. The reason is this: As you peel them, your hands can get contaminants — such as pesticides or bacteria — on them, and this could transfer to the fruit inside. Another thing to remember is that you should wash produce immediately before serving (rather than before you put it away), because washing produce can actually shorten the shelf life of the product.³


Mix ingredients listed below then pour in clean spray bottle. Spritz on fresh produce generously. Sit for 5 minutes then rinse off well.


1 cup water
1 cup vinegar
2 TBS baking soda
2 TBS lemon juice

Note: Make sure to first combine ingredients in deep container since there will be some fizzing action.

Still not sure about the right way to wash fruits and veggies? Read this article from Huffington Post.

Check out my homemade detergent and dishwasher “recipes” as well.

¹ About.com
² The Kitchn
³ The Fun Times Guide

Kitchen Scraps Homemade Vegetable Broth

I eat a lot of veggies, it’s kinda what us veg*ns do, and therefore I have a lot of vegetable scraps. I also like to use veggie broth when I cook, either because the recipe calls for it, or to add nutritional value to things like pasta, rice, and other grains. Sure, I love Rapunzel bouillon cubes as much as any other vegan, and yes, it’s convenient to buy a box of veggie broth in the store from time to time, but with as much broth as I use, the cost quickly adds up.

Solution? Make my own vegetable broth with all the vegetable scraps I accumulate when cooking or even from making salads.

Here’s what you do; every time you have any kind of vegetable scraps place them in a reseal able plastic bag and either store in your fridge or your freezer, depending on how long it will take you to collect about 4-6 cups of scraps, and when you plan on making your broth. About a week is the longest I would keep the scraps in the fridge, I put mine in the freezer.

You can pretty much save any veggie for the broth as long as it’s not rotten or moldy. Here are some suggestions:

Veggies You Should Save:

Onions, carrots, celery, garlic (I leave the peel on but do give the clove a good whack before adding to the pot), leeks, scallions,fennel, chard, green beans, pea pods, zucchini and other squash, bell peppers, winter squash skins, and herbs like dill, thyme, parsley, cilantro and basil.

Veggies You May Want to Save:

Potatoes; Potatoes seem like they would be a great thing for stocks, but they release starch and thicken the stock — not to mention they make it cloudy and look very unappetizing, even though it will taste fine. Potato peels, on the other hand, are just fine. Parsnips, eggplant, mushrooms, lettuce, asparagus, corn cobs~I don’t use these myself, and am not sure of the end result if you choose to use them.

Veggies You May Want to Skip:

Cabbage, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, rutabagas, artichokes.

**You can use beet root scraps and onion skins but be aware that they will make your stock either a deep red or a deep brown so you may want to skip them.**

Making the Stock

  1. Place roughly 4-6 cups of scraps in an 8 quart stock pot. Add 2-3 bay leaves and a few peppercorns (I used a melange because I had it and was feeling fancy, but black is fine).
  2. Cover it all with cold water then bring it to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer uncovered for about an hour. Any more than an hour and the flavor will begin to deteriorate.
  3. Strain vegetables using a fine mesh strainer or a colander and giving them a press to make sure you get all the broth. Let cool then pour into clean containers or freezer bags. Let cool completely in the fridge and then freeze, or store for up to five days in the fridge.

For the broth in the photos I used carrots, celery, onion (yellow, white and red, skins and all!), garlic (see note above), parsley, basil and rosemary stems.