A New Look & Gingersnaps For The Hubby

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Ahhh…a new, refreshing, theme. I love how convenient WordPress makes it to change things around. For a while now I’ve been horribly bored with that very dark, very brown, theme I was using. At first I liked it because I thought it showcased the photographs well, but then I noticed reading the words in between all of the photos was hard on the eyes with that dark back ground. I’ve been waiting for a theme that I liked and ran across this one last night. I think it’s so much easier to read, certainly prettier…a refreshing change for spring and summer. Hope you like it too!

My husband went gluten-free a few months ago and has asked me several times to try to come up with a gluten-free gingersnap recipe. Gingersnaps are one of his favorites and one of my least favorites, which is probably why I kept forgetting that he wanted me to make him a gluten-free version. It’s hard for me to get excited about a gingersnap.

Although, that didn’t stop me from eating several of the them hot out of the oven. I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious they were both hot, and cooled.

Once cooled they are lightly crispy on the outside and nice and chewy on the inside. I should have been making homemade gingersnaps all along. Now I’m convinced I didn’t like them because the store-bought ones are much too crispy.

I converted and tweaked an old Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook recipe (1989). Used gluten-free flour of course, coconut oil instead of canola or vegetable shortening, added xanthan gum, and used fresh ginger root instead of powdered. Sprinkled them with raw sugar instead of rolling them in granulated sugar.

Easy, easy, easy. If you have just been relying on gluten-free and/or dairy-free recipes, don’t. Take a chance and start trying to convert “regular” recipes to fit your needs. I rarely have a failed conversion recipe, especially when it comes to cookies.

Gingersnaps

*makes about 48 two-inch cookies

~Preheat oven to 375 degrees~

2 Cups Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

1/4 Cup White Rice Flour (you could probably use brown)

1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, packed

1/2 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Organic Coconut Oil, solid

1/4 Cup Molasses

1 Egg

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

2 teaspoons Freshly Grated Ginger Root

1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon Ground Cloves

Raw Sugar

In a mixer combine about half the flour, the brown sugar, coconut oil, molasses, egg, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Beat on medium to high-speed scraping down sides once or twice until thoroughly combined. Beat in remaining flour.

Shape dough into about 1 inch balls. Place on parchment covered baking sheets. With a fork, lightly squish down the balls. No need to criss cross, as the fork imprints bake out. Sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake for 7 minutes (I use convection), remove to cooling racks and sprinkle with more raw sugar.

Braised Beef Over Garlic Mashed Potatoes

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We’ve had a few blustery, chilly, days in my neck of the woods. That usually automatically puts me into the comfort food zone. Yesterday I made a big pot of homemade soup with homemade bread. Today it’s braised beef with sun-dried tomatoes and roasted garlic, mashed Yukon gold potatoes.

Hopefully soon the weather will be so sunny and warm that we’ll be craving big salads with fresh tomatoes, marinated and grilled things, and light, fruity, desserts. But for now, it’s warm and loving comfort food.

Braised Beef with Sun Dried Tomatoes

1 – 3.25 lb. Cross Rib Roast, cubed

1 Large Sweet Onion, sliced

About 10 Cremini Mushrooms, sliced

4 Garlic Cloves, minced

1/2 Cup Sun Dried Tomatoes Packed in Oil, chopped

1 Bay leaf

6 0z. Tomato Paste

1 1/2 Cups Good Red Wine

4 Cups Gluten Free Beef Broth

1 Heaping Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary, chopped

1 Heaping Tablespoon Fresh Oregano, chopped

1 Heaping Tablespoon Fresh Thyme, chopped

Freshly Ground Pepper

Kosher Salt

Olive Oil

 Heat a dutch oven on medium-high, drizzle generously with olive oil. Brown cubed meat in small portions, removing to a dish or plate when finished. Reserving browned bits in the pan, drizzle a little more olive oil in the dutch oven and add the onions, mushrooms, and minced garlic. Cook until onions begin to caramelize and mushrooms begin to brown. Stir often so the garlic doesn’t cook too quickly or burn. Turn down heat if necessary.

Next, add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Add sun-dried tomatoes,wine, beef broth, bay leaf, and herbs. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Season generously with kosher salt and pepper.

Cover and simmer for 2 hours or until meat is fork tender. Taste and re-season if necessary. Serve over roasted garlic mashed potatoes.

Women, Power, & A Breakfast That’ll Knock Your Socks Off

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What is it about “those” women and power trips?

You know exactly the type of woman I’m talking about. The type of woman that makes us look at our close girlfriends and say, “She’s one of those”. There’s usually one on every committee, the grumpy one, the one that is such a stickler for rules that it surpasses logic, the one who always talks first and has the last word, the one who doesn’t like anyone’s ideas but her own, the one who the entire world revolves around, the one in every church bible study that thinks it’s a personal counseling session, that one overly enthusiastic, volunteer at your child’s school who the school loves, but the other mothers all roll their eyes at because they know what she’s all about. Heaven forbid you give them a title of head volunteer, president of such and such, or leader, then you’re really in for it.

The problem though, is that they’re sneaky. They volunteer for things that others don’t want to do. The things we think to ourselves, “There’s no way I’m doing that, I’m too busy and I don’t want to take on that responsibility.” And then… we find ourselves stuck with a highly annoying know-it-all that succeeds in being the thorn in everyone’s side.

You know the one?

What is it that we are lacking as women, that some of us need to have this control and this hunger for attention? This need to irritate everyone around us, even if it causes us give the rest of the female population a bad name? How is it that some of us are so focused on what we are doing that we don’t even notice how our behavior and attitude affects the people around us?

How it alienates us from each other?

We all like to have control over our lives. But when that need for control takes over your personality and turns you into a self-serving, unpleasant person, it spreads like a dark cloud around everyone you’re with. Something that those personality types don’t seem to understand…most people don’t like people like that. Sad really. Because their behavior just further alienates them from the very people from whom they are seeking attention.

What do we do about that? 

Well, I certainly don’t have all the answers, or even a few, but I can tell you what I did.

I woke up this morning. Did my morning routine and went straight to the kitchen and started baking. Some of my best work comes when I’m frustrated or annoyed and need to let off a little steam.

I’d probably be much thinner and in better shape if I liked to work off steam by running 10 miles or getting in touch with my inner calm self by doing 2 hours of yoga…but such is life. I prefer baking, cleaning, and gardening when I have a thorn in my side.

Apple Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread

4 Tbsp. Earth Balance Natural Butter Spread

1/2 Cup Sugar

1 Cup Almond Milk,warmed but not hot to the touch

2 Eggs

1/2 Cup Canola Oil

2 tsp. Pure Vanilla

1 1/2 Tbsp. Yeast, dissolved in the warmed almond milk

1 Cups Sorghum Flour

1/2 Cup Mama’s Almond All Purpose Gluten Free Flour

2 Cups Potato Starch

1/2 Cup Tapioca Flour

4 tsp. Xanthan Gum

4 tsp. Baking Powder

1 tsp. Sea Salt

Filling:

2 Gala Apples, diced (about 2 1/2 cups)

Juice of 1 Lemon

About 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup Dairy Free Butter

1 Cup Packed Dark Brown Sugar

3 Tablespoons Cinnamon

Pinch of Kosher Salt

Frosting:

1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar

About 3 Tablespoons Dairy Free Butter

1 1/2 teaspoons Almond Extract

About 2 teaspoons Cinnamon

Almond Milk for Thinning

Preheat oven to 35o degrees. Cream butter and sugar in an electric mixer on high until thoroughly combined and fluffy. Warm the almond milk lightly, not hot and add yeast. Stir and let rest while you’re measuring the flours, etc. The yeast/milk is ready when it is bubbly on top. About 5 minutes or so.

Measure the sorghum flour, almond flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, xanthan gum and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together. Set aside.

To the creamed mixture, add the eggs, oil, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly, scraping down the sides once or twice. Add milk/yeast mixture. Mix on medium speed until combined.

With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour and scrape down bowl. Mix on high until thoroughly combined (about 1-2 minutes). Dough will be sticky.

Next, flour a piece of parchment paper and scoop dough out onto paper. Flour the top of the dough and pat down. Flour a rolling-pin and roll the dough into a 24×15 oblong “ish” form.

For the filling, place the butter in a small dish and stir until softened enough to spread with the back of a spoon. Spread the butter carefully over the entire surface of the dough.

Sprinkle the apples as evenly as possible over the butter. Crumble the brown sugar over the apples evenly and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Carefully slice the dough into 4 rows lengthwise and 6 across. Spray a non-stick bread pan lightly with oil.

Stack the first row (lengthwise) on top of the second row. Stack the third row on top of the fourth row. Taking two slices at a time, hold the pan on end and begin stacking dough two pieces at a time until all of the dough is in the pan.

Spray a piece of plastic wrap with oil and cover the dough loosely. Allow to rest in a warm place for 30 minutes. Then remove plastic and bake in a preheated oven for 40 minutes. (I use convection.)

While the bread is resting, prepare the frosting.

Melt butter in a small bowl, add sugar, almond extract, and cinnamon. Whisk with a tiny whisk or fork until combined. Add almond milk a teaspoon at a time until it reaches drizzling consistency. But not too thin!

Remove bread from oven (you can even do a happy dance like I did, because I was so thrilled it turned out), allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slide a knife around the edges and carefully remove from pan onto a plate or board.

Drizzle with frosting and serve. Can be served warm (unbelievable) or at room temperature (still unbelievable).

(Megaphone photo courtesy of SheMarketer)

Sunday Dinner

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Sunday is my favorite day of the week.

I’m not sure what it is about it really, but I love it. Maybe it’s because we are saying goodbye to the week behind us, which was hopefully successful and peaceful, and preparing to say hello to the week ahead. Sundays are usually a slower day for us. We try to squeeze in a little more time with each other, hang out with the dogs, mill around the house and yard, I usually make a nice dinner and bake something for dessert, and then we just soak in the last day of the weekend. This weekend seemed to go slower than usual, which was an extra bonus.

I ran across this little guy while I was watering. They are so diligent. I’m sure in a day or two the wind or my cat’s tail will come along and de-construct the web. He’ll have to move along and find a better place. Right now, he’s just soaking up the sun like the rest of us.

 Loving the Lilacs. Cut a large bouquet for the dining room table and they are filling the whole house with the smell of spring.
After milling around the yard a little I set my mind to doing some more organizing and “streamlining” things for the big move. Tony was out and about taking his last H1 level hang gliding class so I had a little time on my hands to tackle our ever-growing “to do” list. I’m not a hoarder at all, but I still seem to manage to keep a few things I don’t really need. I went through closets, under bathroom cupboards, the pantry, and was able to purge quite a bit that we certainly don’t need to drag all the way across the country with us.
I am not typically a sitter, I’m usually a do-er. Someone who needs to feel that I’ve at least accomplished a few worthwhile things throughout my day. Occasionally, if my to-do list has been tackled, I don’t mine lying around reading a book or spending my day in the kitchen baking or cooking, it’s not like I don’t like to relax! But when there are things to be done, I need to get those off my mind so I can really soak in the day ahead. Once I had done a little organizing and purging of unnecessary “stuff”, I was able to come up with our Sunday Dinner & Dessert.
Steak Kabobs
Simple Spinach Salad
Cheesy Muffins with Roasted Red Peppers
&
Rustic Berry Tart for Dessert
Steak Kabobs
*Six Servings
2 Boneless NY Loin Top Steaks, cut into medium pieces
2 Bell Peppers, cut into large pieces
1 Large Onion, cut into large pieces
15 Cremini Mushrooms, stems removed
1 Cup BBQ Sauce, I used Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Chipotle
1/2 Cup Rice Vinegar, I used Nakano Basil & Oregano
2 Tablespoons Country Dijon, I used Grey Poupon
6 Skewers
 Place the steak, peppers, onions, and mushrooms into a medium bowl. Add the BBQ sauce, rice vinegar, and Dijon. Stir well until all of the meat and vegetables are completely coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Place on skewers and grill to medium rare.

Simple Spinach Salad
*I didn’t measure anything for this, but it was about 3 servings.
About 2 Handfuls of Spinach Leaves
1 Tomato, diced
About  1/4 of a Red Onion, sliced
About 4-6 Slices of Bacon, diced and cooked
Olive Oil
Rice Vinegar
Freshly Ground Pepper
Warm the olive oil and vinegar in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Place all of the vegetables in a medium bowl. Drizzle dressing over the top and toss. Sprinkle with bacon. (Don’t dress the salad until you are ready to serve.)


Cheesy Muffins with Roasted Red Peppers
*Makes 9 Muffins
1 Cup Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour
1/2 Cup White Rice Flour
1/2 Cup Brown Rice Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Cup Roasted Red Bell Pepper, diced
2 teaspoons Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon Fresh Oregano, chopped
2 Tablespoons Red Onion, diced
1 Cup Daiya Cheddar Style Cheese
1 Cup “Buttermilk”, 1 cup almond milk with 1/2 lemon squeezed, sit 5 minutes
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 Large Egg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with muffin cups or cut parchment into squares and line. Spray each cup lightly with non-stick spray. Set aside.
Measure the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum into a medium bowl and whisk together. Add the herbs, onion, and diced peppers.
Pour almond milk and juice of 1/2 lemon into a measuring cup and let sit for at least 5 minutes. Add the olive oil and beaten egg. Stir, pour over dry ingredients. Add the cheese.
Fold together until fully incorporated but do not over mix.
Fill each muffin cup evenly.
Bake for 22 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean.


This is one of my all time favorite desserts. Incredibly simple to make, but beautiful and delicious.
Rustic Berry Tart
2 – 16 ounce Bags Frozen Mixed Berries, or fresh mixed berries
3 Tablespoons Minute Tapioca
1/2 Cup Sugar
Gluten Free Flour for rolling
1 Egg, beaten with a few drops of water for brushing
Raw Sugar for sprinkling
Dairy Free Ice Cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place berries in medium bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and tapioca. Toss well and allow to sit out on counter for about 1 1/2 hours (if you’re using frozen berries).
Cut a piece of parchment to the size of a baking sheet. Flour, and roll dough out to “fit” parchment and pinch the rough edges. I rolled mine a little over the side edges. You will fold it over anyway so you don’t need to worry about fitting it exactly to the parchment. However, gluten-free dough isn’t as elastic as gluten dough so your edges may break when you transfer it to the baking sheet. If this happens just pinch them back on.
Transfer the dough with the parchment onto the baking sheet.
After the fruit has rested and melted for a while, gently stir to evenly distribute the juices. Spoon fruit into the middle of the dough.
Fold dough over carefully, long sides first, then ends. Crimp with fork, brush with egg and water mixture, and sprinkle with raw sugar.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until crust is lightly golden.

A few more pictures from the garden…

Happy Monday and have a lovely week!

Starting the Day Off Right – My Corner Of The World

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We have a beautiful trail not even fifteen minutes from our house. Lots of wonderful things to see and hear. Wildlife for one. We’ve seen Moose, Deer, many different species of birds and water fowl, and we’ve seen the work of some very busy Beavers but have never seen the hard workers themselves.

As summer approaches there will be all types of flowers and even wild roses. It’s quite lovely and one of my favorite places to walk the dogs. It’s about a 5 mile or so trip up to the Cedar Forest. I have yet to do the whole thing up to the top past the Cedar Forest, which I think is about 8 miles. After the Cedar Forest it gets much more difficult but I will definitely do it before we leave for New Hampshire. Evidently there’s a gorgeous waterfall and a cool Boy Scout cabin up there.

Busy Beavers. There are a few of these dams along the trail.

I love to just stand and look at them. Such amazing workers they are!

I’m thinking this is where they live…their condo with waterfront property.

This is Romeo. He’s searching for a stick for he and Abigail to play with.

He is terrified of bugs and our new tile floors, but doesn’t think twice about plunging his head into dirty swamp water.

Found it.

Best Friends Forever.

More Beaver magic.

And Romeo grazing on grass that I will surely be pulling out of unsavory places later.

Timberrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Welcome to the Cedar Forest

Water in the mountains is like a melody to the soul.

And back down the trail we go…

5 1/2 inches. 

Ahhhh…sunny skies. 

Getting ready to take the allergy level up a notch.

Tranquility

Enjoy your day!

Mother’s Day 2.0

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Why Mother’s Day 2.0 you ask?

Well, I gave myself food poisoning after our Hors d’ oeuvre & Cocktail night. I spent about 8 hours of Mother’s Day in agony and had to re-schedule my own mother!

Before you’re afraid to try any of my recipes, let me just reassure you that it wasn’t anything that went wrong in the cooking process. After we had our snacks we wandered over to the neighbor’s house to visit and drink some of my favorite wine. I didn’t think we’d be gone long so I just left everything out in the kitchen thinking I would come home and get it into the fridge before too long. Well, a couple of hours later we arrived home, I cleaned up the kitchen and decided I wanted another little spinach tart. They had been sitting in a warm house on top of a warm oven… “I’ll just microwave it for a minute or so and it should be fine”, is what I told myself. Well, it wasn’t, and about 8 hours later I was reminded why you don’t leave anything that even resembles a Quiche out for very long and then eat it.

Luckily, when Monday rolled around I was feeling much better. Still a bit wonky but believe me, lesson learned…the hard way.  I re-scheduled everyone and we gathered for dinner at our house.

We have a thing for Mexican food in my family. Who doesn’t really? Even though we had a delayed version of Mother’s Day, it still turned out just fine and everyone enjoyed themselves and we walked away from the table stuffed with chicken and beef tacos and two lovely, fruity, tarts.

I hope all of you moms had a lovely Mother’s Day…even if it was the 2.0 version like ours.

Key Lime & Coconut Tart

I made the Key Lime Tart and a Lemon Tart. You can find the recipe for the Lemon Tart Here.


 For The Tart Shell:

1 Cup Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

1/4 Cup Rice Flour

1/3 Cup plus 1 Tablespoon Granulated Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

1/2 teaspoon salt (I used table not sea because I worried that the sea salt was too large)

3 teaspoons Coconut Extract

1 Teaspoon Lime Zest

1/2 Cup Dairy Free Butter, cold

In a small bowl add both flours, xanthan gum, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside. In a mixer, add the butter and sugar, beat for 30 seconds and scrape down the bowl. Add the coconut extract and zest, beat until thoroughly combined and mixture is fluffy. Add the flour mixture and beat on medium for 30 seconds, scrape down bowl. Then beat for about 1 minute or until the mixture begins to almost pull all the way away from the sides of the bowl.

Scoop mixture out into a tart pan with removable bottom.

Press tart crust dough into the tart pan quickly, you don’t want the butter melting too much because it makes the dough too soft. Trim edges on an angle with a very sharp knife, prick with a fork all over including sides. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours.

Preheat oven to 325°. Line the tart crust with parchment paper and baking beans and bake in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove beans and parchment paper and allow to cool while you get the remaining ingredients ready.

You can go here for detailed pictures of the tart shell.

For The Filling:

7 ounces Almond Milk (I like to cook with Almond Breeze because it’s thick)

2 teaspoons Dairy Free Butter

3 Eggs plus 2 Egg Whites

1/2 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar

Zest of 18 Key Limes Lemons (tedious but worth it)

Juice of 18 Key Limes

Powdered Sugar

Toasted Coconut

Zest and juice the Key Limes.

Heat the almond milk and dairy free butter on low in a small saucepan. Once it was hot I kept mine on warm until I finished the remaining ingredients. Next, in a medium bowl, add the eggs and powdered sugar. Whisk until there are no lumps remaining.

Add the lime zest and lime juice and whisk until thoroughly incorporated. Slowly, drizzle the warm milk and butter mixture into the egg mixture whisking quickly the entire time.

Pour the liquid into a measuring cup and place the tart pan in a preheated oven. Do not pull out the shelf, because when you pour the liquid into the tart and then have to push the shelf back in, it will slosh all over the place and your beautiful tart will be in the bottom of your oven. Unless you have a shelf that automatically comes out when you open the door like I do…then, just close your door very slowly. Pour the liquid slowly into the tart pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes and no more. You want it to have a soft jiggle in the middle about the size of the palm of your hand when you remove it from the oven, similar to jello, but not too much movement. You’ll know if you’ve overcooked it because it will crack and start to pull away from the sides of the tart shell.

Allow to cool on the counter and then dust with powdered sugar if you want to eat it at room temperature, or allow it to cool on the counter and then refrigerate it for a couple of hours if you want to eat it cold. If you’re serving it cold, wait until you remove it from the fridge to dust with powdered sugar. I prefer it chilled.

To toast the coconut: Place a couple of handfuls of coconut in a medium skillet and heat on medium to medium high. Flipping the coconut every couple of minutes (like an omelette) as it browns. I like mine lightly browned so there are chunky bits and soft chewy bits. Remove from pan and allow to cool on a plate.

Once the tart has chilled for at least two hours, sprinkle generously with powdered sugar (the key lime tart is…tart) and top with the toasted coconut.

Saturday Night Special – Hors d’ oeuvre & Cocktail Night

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We’ve dubbed Saturday nights our hors d’ oeuvre & cocktail night.

I make fun little meals that can be enjoyed in the backyard with our feet up.  We’ve worked hard to make our backyard our little sanctuary and once the nice weather arrives, we try to enjoy every second possible!

Italian Stuffed Mushrooms

*Makes 20

1/2 Package Ground Italian Mild Sausage

1/4 Cup (heaping) Sweet Onion, diced

1/4 Cup (heaping) Red Bell Pepper, diced

1 teaspoon Garlic, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons Dried Oregano

1 1/2 teaspoons Dried Basil

1/4 Cup Kalamata Olives, chopped

1 Tablespoon Vegan Parmesan plus more for topping

Parlick Fell Sheep’s Milk Cheese, crumbled for topping

20 Cremini Mushrooms, stem scooped out at base

In a large skillet on medium heat, saute the sausage, onion, bell pepper, garlic, oregano, and basil. When sausage is done add the 1 Tablespoon of vegan parmesan and the olives. Stir to combine. Set aside.

Place the mushrooms on a baking sheet lined with parchment, hole side up. Fill each mushroom with stuffing.

Crumble a little Parlick Fell on each mushroom and sprinkle with more vegan parmesan. Bake at 325 for about 30 minutes.

Spinach Tart

*Makes 4 personal sized tarts

1 Portion of Gluten Free Pie Dough

10 oz Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed & drained

2 Cups Raw Spinach Leaves, packed

4 Cloves of Garlic, chopped

3 Tablespoons Dried Parsley

1 1/2 Tablespoons Dried Dill

1/4 Cup Sun Dried Tomatoes Packed in Oil, chopped

1/4 Cup Roasted Red Peppers, chopped

10 oz of Sheep’s Milk Feta

2 eggs

Roll out the chilled pie dough and fill each tart pan, press in, and trim edges.

Place remaining ingredients except the feta in a medium bowl and stir to combine thoroughly. Fold in the crumbled feta.

Fill each tart pan.

Place on a baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for about 35 minutes or until the edges of the crust turn golden.

Sugar Plum Tomato & Cucumber Salad

Sugar Plum Tomatoes

English Cucumber, peeled and sliced

About 6 Basil leaves, torn

Ground Pepper

Olive Oil

White Balsamic Vinegar

Pinch of Kosher Salt

Place desired amount of tomatoes and cucumbers in a small bowl. Add the basil and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic. Season with ground pepper and kosher sat. Toss to combine.

Of course, no snack night would be complete without a cocktail or good wine and a delicious dessert.

My favorite wine from the Methow Valley.

Chocolate Mousse with Coconut Cream

*This recipe was adapted from the Black Dog Food Blog

(This recipe makes 4 – 1 cup servings. It is very rich and could easily be made into 8 – 1/2 cup servings)

24 oz of silken tofu, blended in food processor or Vitamix until very smooth

20 oz of Dark Belgian Chocolate, chopped & melted

1 1/2 teaspoons Espresso Powder

1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

3 Tablespoons Raw Agave Syrup

2 Cans Full Fat Coconut Milk, refrigerated upside down overnight

Pure Vanilla Extract

Powdered Sugar

Raspberries & Apple Mint for garnish

Scrape the blended tofu into a medium-sized bowl. Add the melted chocolate, espresso powder, vanilla, salt, and agave. Whisk until thoroughly combined and very smooth. Set aside.

Remove the coconut cream from the fridge carefully as to not allow the coconut milk on the bottom to mix with the coconut that has settled on top. Remove the lids (which is actually the bottom of the can). Very carefully, scoop out the solid coconut cream stopping as you get close to the liquid and add to an electric mixer. Do this with both cans.

Pour 1/2 Cup of the clear coconut milk into the chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Spoon chocolate mixture into dessert dishes.

To the solid coconut milk, add about 3 Tablespoons of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix on high with the whisk attachment, for about 2 minutes. It won’t get as firm as whipping cream made with cow’s milk, but it does set up a bit and will set up even more when refrigerated for a couple of hours.

Spoon the coconut cream on top of the chocolate. Garnish with raspberries and mint.

April’s Gone Crackers

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Not really, I’m still “normal”, I haven’t lost my mind. Yet.

These crackers? These crackers have me jumping for joy. They have me thinking about all of the yummy food combinations you can eat on a cracker that I haven’t been able to eat in years.

To Die For

So yesterday on just an average grocery shopping trip I ran across these amazing little table crackers from Schar. I thought…”Hmm…table crackers. Do I dare?”

Typically gluten-free crackers are either very dense and kind of pasty chalky or very crunchy, like in the form of those round rice crackers you see. Those rice crackers kind of resemble “diet” crackers. They taste like it too. Or how about that certain brand that looks like something you should feed your horse and is likely to send you to the dentist needing a crown and at the very minimum gives you heart burn for a good five hours? We eat them anyway, because really, sometimes life just calls for crackers and how many choices do those of us with multiple food allergies really have?

So after I scanned the ingredients I took a leap and thought, “Why not?”. If they end up tasting like any other gluten-free cracker so what.

Well, let me tell you something…they are amazingly delicious. Hands down the absolute best gluten-free cracker that I have ever had that does not taste GF DF and has perfect texture.

They are kind of a half way point between the texture and taste of a Saltine cracker and those Club crackers we’ve all served at parties. Perfect texture, lovely “normal” cracker flavor. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.

So delicious in fact, that I cannot stop thinking about them. I opened them immediately after loading my groceries in the car. Ate 6 of them on the way home and made tons of “I’ve died and gone to Heaven” noises that quickly irritated my son who was along for some visiting time.

Then, I ate another one while putting groceries away. Then, I ate three more at 10:00 PM before bed with that amazing Parlick Fell cheese that I’ve told you about. And this morning, it was all I could do not to eat them for breakfast with peanut butter slathered all over them. So, I settled for an almond milk yogurt for my breakfast and then counted down the hours until I could make lunch with my new-found crackers at a reasonable lunch time.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Or maybe not, because then that just leaves more for me!

Grilled Flank Steak Sandwich with Parlick Fell Cheese, Spinach, And a Cute Little Salad

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Grilled Flank Steak Sandwich

2 Slices Gluten Free Bread (I used Udi’s)

Dairy Free Butter (I used Earth Balance Soy Free)

Country Dijon Mustard (I use Grey Poupon)

Trader Joe’s Parlick Fell Sheep’s Milk Cheese from England (Unbelievably good!)

Organic Spinach

Leftover Organic/All Natural Grilled Flank Steak

Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place one slice of bread butter side down in a small skillet. Layer cheese across the bread, top with very thinly sliced grilled flank steak, top with a generous amount of spinach leaves. Spread a generous layer of the mustard on the non-buttered side of the second piece of bread and place it mustard side down on top of the spinach.

Toast on medium-low until bread is golden brown on both sides. I cover mine with a lid for the first side so the cheese will soften and the sandwich will warm all the way through. I remove the lid for cooking the second side of the sandwich as to not build up too much moisture. Soggy sandwich = yuck.

Persian Cucumber, Sugar Plum Tomato, & Basil Salad

1 Organic Persian Cucumber, sliced

About 1/4 cup Sugar Plum Tomatoes

2 Basil Leaves, torn

About 1 1/2 Tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar

Freshly Ground Pepper

Place all ingredients in a small bowl and toss.

The Early Bird Gets The Worm

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Extra healthy sustenance for an early morning and a productive day in the garden.

Power Packed Breakfast Granola

I haven’t had to use an alarm clock to wake me since I was a teenager. It’s wonderful not having to be awakened by a horrible buzzing sound if I have something important planned for my day. Typically, this “inner alarm clock” works in my favor. I’m a morning person and enjoy getting up quite early and doing my own thing for a while before the rest of the house starts to stir.

However…

Sometimes this inner alarm has a sense of humor and gets stuck on east coast time or something and decides to wake me way, way earlier  than any “early bird” would like.

For the past week and a half it’s been 2:30 in the morning. On. The. Dot. 

Yep, not really the ideal time.

So to fix my inner clock I try to just remain in bed with a blank mind (yeah right!), and try my hardest to fall back to sleep until my inner alarm remembers that I am to wake up at 5:00, not 2:30.

This lying in bed with a somewhat blank mind (imagining myself soaking up the sun on the beach in Kauai), had worked until this morning. So after an hour of staring at the ceiling and twiddling my thumbs, I finally just got out of bed.

It ended up being a very productive morning, actually. I was able to catch up on blog posts from my fellow bloggers, ooohhhinng and awwwwing over all of their amazing recipes upon recipes upon more recipes, stories and more stories, and gorgeous words, photographs and beautiful music to start my morning. Then, I wasted an incredible amount of time on Facebook looking at posts and chatting with other early birds. Finally, I snuggled into my favorite chair to do my morning bible study and journal. I started journaling again about 8 months ago after not doing it for about 25 years. I love it. I can’t imagine beginning my day without it. It’s just me and God, having an incredible conversation. Right now I’m also reading two devotionals. Jesus Calling and The Confident Woman. Such insight. And such an incredible way to start the day. On the right footBecause we all know how the day can go when we start off on the wrong one.

Here’s a little something to give you some extra energy for your day, in case your inner alarm is also playing tricks on you:                                                                                                                   

Extra Energy Smoothie with a side of Granola

*Inspired by Yes I Want Cake

(This makes 2 – 16 ounce servings)

1 -1 1/2 Cups Almond Milk

1/2 Cup Fresh Organic Strawberries

1 Cup Mixed Organic Frozen Berries (Blackberries, Blueberries, Raspberries)

1 Cup Pineapple TidBits

1 Organic Banana

 2 heaping Tablespoons Organic Raw Almond Butter

2 Nice Sized Handfuls of Organic Spinach

Ice

Place in a heavy duty blender and blend until smooth. Serve with a side of granola to sprinkle on top or mix in for extra oomph and texture.