Cinnamon Blueberry Belgian Waffles

8 Comments

DSC_4026

I love waffles.

More specifically, I love waffles with my butter.

The only problem I have with waffles, is the waffle iron itself.

We used to have a relatively expensive waffle iron (about $100) that I absolutely hated. It cooked the waffles just fine, but if I didn’t spray it with non-stick spray the waffles were difficult to remove. The problem with the spray or any oil you put on a waffle iron is that it builds up and it’s very difficult to remove completely if you can’t take the plates out and wash them.

DSC_4037

So the last time we had waffles, I was at my limit with trying to clean it out with a skewer and a wet paper towel. Out to the garbage the waffle iron went because I was quite certain even Goodwill wouldn’t want it, and I began a search for a waffle iron that had removable, washable, plates.

DSC_4038

It’s not as easy as one might think to locate a waffle iron with removable plates.

I searched online and in stores for several weeks. Then finally, while I was wandering around Target one day, I ran across this:

The Breakfast Master

14247176_130311083000

It’s perfect. 

DSC_4028

And even better, it was only $39.99! Evidently you can do all kinds of things with it, but I have only used it for waffles. The cooking plates pop right out for easy cleaning…problem solved. The only thing I can think of that might be a negative is its size for larger families. It only cooks one waffle at a time. But heck, at that price, you could buy a couple and your pocket-book will still be happy.

DSC_4044

Cinnamon Blueberry Belgian Waffles

**1 3/4 Cups Artisan Flour Blend

1 Tablespoon Baking Powder

1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon

2 Eggs, separated (whites whipped to stiff peak)

1 3/4 Cups Almond Milk

1 1/2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla

1/2 Cup Dairy Free Butter, melted

1 1/2 Cups Frozen Blueberries

**I substitute the cornstarch with arrowroot flour, make sure you read the substitution directions

Preheat Waffle Iron.  Mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl. Add the egg yolks, almond milk, and vanilla and stir until combined.  Add the melted butter, stir to combine. Whip the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form, carefully fold the whites into the batter.  Fold in frozen blueberries.

Cook according to your waffle maker’s instructions. I cook mine until there is no longer steam coming from the waffle iron. I like them lightly crispy on the outside.

Top with dairy free butter, pure maple syrup, and blueberries.

This little neighbor joined me for breakfast this morning.

DSC_4048

Stuffed Yams

3 Comments

DSC_4004

I am saddened to say that for about the first 40 years of my life, I only had yams once a year. Typically on Thanksgiving and usually swimming in Karo syrup, brown sugar, and pineapple juice.  Just a little slice because I liked the brown sugar.

Now however, I could eat them every single day.

They’re delicious, what’s not to like? It turns out they’re extremely good for you and if you eat even one little cup once a week it has been shown to reduce the risk of lung, skin, and prostate cancer dramatically.

DSC_3984

They’re versatile.

You can stuff them with whatever you like or just have them with a drizzle of heart healthy olive oil and salt and pepper. You can slather them with dairy free butter and sprinkle them with brown sugar…my personal favorite, and they’re even good plain.

DSC_3979

DSC_3972

Have you ever been confused by the whole Yam Sweet Potato thing? We call the orange ones Sweet Potatoes. I don’t know why, but that’s how I was raised. I always thought the yellow fleshed ones were the Yams. Turns out I was wrong. If you don’t believe me, you can go here and scroll down for a visual and an explanation. So technically, that Sweet Potato pie that looks like pumpkin pie, is really made with Yams. Doesn’t sound as good though…Yam pie.

DSC_3990

Call them whatever you like, and make sure you don’t miss out on them for 40 years like I did simply because the sound of Sweet Potato or Yam grosses you out.

DSC_4012

Try stuffing them with all kinds of different things.

Then serve them with your favorite gluten free beer.

DSC_4015

You might just be surprised.

DSC_4009

Here’s how I prepared them tonight:

Lay the potato(s) on a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt, garlic powder, and oregano. Roll them up tight and place them in the oven seam side up. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Remove from oven and cool enough that you don’t burn yourself when you unwrap it and cut it. Once cooled, unwrap and slice vertically. Using a fork, rough up the flesh, sprinkle with kosher salt. Set aside.

On a gas grill or in a grill pan, grill boneless, skinless chicken thighs. The amount will depend on how many people you are serving. I placed 1.5 chicken thighs on each potato.

In a separate pan, saute onions, bell pepper, kale, and sun dried tomatoes. (Or any combination of any vegetable you like)

Layer the chicken on the potatoes first, then add the sauteed vegetables. Top with sliced buffalo mozzarella (made from buffalo milk), sprinkle with kosher salt, a few grinds of pepper, and dried oregano. Place under a pre-heated broiler until cheese is bubbly and begins to brown. But not too much or the mozzarella will become tough.

Serve with gluten free beer.

Things That Make Me Go, “Hmmm…”

14 Comments
Chocolate Dipped Baked Doughnuts

Double Chocolate Baked Doughnuts

Here’s a conversation my husband and I had while out to lunch last weekend.

It started off with us talking about the 90’s generation and how they seem to have a different take on the career world. Many of them aren’t quite as willing to deal with job stress or the daily pressure of a 9 to 5 as our generation. They are more focused on doing what makes them happy instead of conforming or caving into the career path pressure and doing what they feel society expects of them. They also seem to recognize stress a bit better than our generation and aren’t too shy or filled with pride to say “no, I don’t want to feel like that.”

Husband: “People don’t need as much money as they think they do. They can live on less.” (Discussing the choices of some who do not want to work toward a stressful yet lucrative career.)

Me: “Yeah, that’s true.”

Then we talked a bit more about the differences in generations…. and I added that it made me wonder if the 90’s male “kids” we know would choose to marry wives with careers and be stay at home dads. Something I’ve never really found appealing for myself. What can I say? I’m a traditionalist.

Husband: “I would stay at home, are you kidding me, that would be great.”

Me: “So you’re saying that if I had a career that would fund our life you would be happy staying at home?”

Husband: “Of course.” I can’t remember all the comments he made because the ground was beginning to shift beneath me as the world went wonky, but he also said a few more things pertaining to how awesome it would be and then something like, how he would love to… “do anything he wants every day”. That last part is a direct quote.

Me: “I don’t, by far, do ‘anything’ I want everyday.”

“So you would clean the house, do laundry, take care of the dogs, take care of all of our appointments, household issues, cooking, sit down and pay the bills, and anything else that came up and needed to be handled?”

Husband: “Well, I would do some of those things sometimes, sure. Of course.”

Me: “Some of those things. And who would do the rest?”

Husband: “I would hire a maid.”

Me: “Are you kidding me?”

Husband: “No. Can you imagine ME at home doing THOSE things?” (Laughs)

At this point I was wishing I had ordered that margarita the waitress offered after all.

Me: “There is no way that I would feel fine working day in and day out just so you could hire a maid to do all of the things that I do now and so you could hike with the dogs and mountain bike all day every day.”

Husband: “Really? Why not?”

Me: “What. Are you serious?”

Me: “So you’re telling me that you wouldn’t care if I hired a maid to do all of the things I do now… AND I didn’t work? If I took care of barely anything and spent my days gallivanting around doing whatever I felt like while you worked every day?”

Husband: “No, I wouldn’t care. Do what you want to do. Why wouldn’t you?”

Me: “What? Are you serious?”  

Why didn’t I order that margarita? 

Me: “I don’t believe that for a second.”

Thankfully, we were “saved by the bell” in the form of our waitress and a  huge plate of fajitas.

…Hmmmm

DSC_3780

Then I ran across this article yesterday on WordPress Freshly Pressed.

It’s a short read.

“Doing More Only To Do Less – Do We Glorify Busy?”

484666_10151401075783096_753254543_n

This article resonated with me.

Hmmm…

Did you see this quote? –  “But there is another aspect to it. Perfectionism – that shadow from our childhoods. We want to be excellent – because if we are, we will be worthy of love. So we take on anything and everything that is thrown us. Even when we are aware we are overwhelmed, we find it hard to say “NO”. Because we fear that if we do – people will think less of us.”

And this one? –   “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.”

Yikes.

It may seem strange or even unbelievable to some people that those of us who stay at home and don’t have a career could ever be so busy or have so much on our plate that we think we need to do, that we feel overwhelmed. But it’s true. I’m still busy even though there are only two of us left at home (well…5 counting the dogs and cat), and sometimes, often, it seems like most of my days are taken up by chores and to-do lists or other things that come up and need to be handled immediately, or things I think I absolutely must do to feel productive. And I try to hurry and get the chores done so I can squeeze in the the things I love to do but inevitably, a wrench gets thrown into the mix. There’s a hiccup and all of the sudden you’re left thinking, “Where did my day go?”  You’ve experienced it. You know the old saying, ‘the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry’. Like the other day when I was in the middle of  doing our household bookkeeping (my least favorite job) as fast as I could so I could spend some time in my craft room when I was done, and Abigail came running in with Porcupine quills stuck in her tongue.

DSC_3782

After reading this article I thought about all of  the things behind why some of us keep ourselves so busy all the time. I’m sure there are more reasons than I can count but I’d be willing to bet that many people equate busy with productive. And the problem with having the need to be productive is that when we’re not feeling productive then we feel guilty, anxious, and have a hard time focusing on the moment and taking time to do the things we really enjoy. Being busy is not the same thing as being productive.  And being busy does not reverberate the same kind of happiness as being productive. A simple concept but clearly one that many people battle, including me. Maybe some of those non-conformist “kids” from the 90’s  are onto something?

 Regardless of what some people’s perceptions are when it comes to “stay at homers” (believe me, I’ve heard them all over the last 24 years), I of course do not sit around doing nothing, I don’t do “whatever I feel like doing every day”, and I actually do have a brain in my head, and it works quite well.  Even though all these years I’ve prided myself with being a “productive” (too busy?) human being, I think I could benefit from a little more relaxation and fun. I started to think about that conversation with my husband and that article.

Hmmmm….

DSC_3786

 I can tell you in all honesty and I’m pretty sure my husband would agree with me, that he would NEVER. EVER.  EVER… choose laundry, cleaning, bookkeeping, yard work, etc. if he had the opportunity to go for a mountain bike ride, run, hang gliding, hiking, or a motorcycle ride if he was able to stay home every day and not work a job outside of this house. In fact, in most things, I’m pretty sure he’s immune to guilt and that niggling I feel to be “productive” and the choice to have fun would be clear to him. It’s a man thing, I guess.  He would think that daily chores could be saved for another time. (Or his maid would do it for him I suppose.)

And if he feels fine thinking that way, in fact, guilt free…why don’t I?

DSC_3791

Why don’t I set aside one or two hours a day when possible to do something that I absolutely love? You may be thinking, “But April, aren’t you doing that right now? You’re sitting down and creating a blog post.” Food blogging is part of that attitude of setting aside time to do the things I enjoy, of course, but I don’t do it nearly as much as I would love to. And many times I’m in a rush because there are other things that I feel are more important that need to be done and I don’t think I’m reaping the full enjoyment of the moment.

Although I’m not into all of the adventure sports my husband likes, there is a long list of things I love to do that I haven’t been doing. Maybe there’s something to that article? Why do I allow my day to be caught in a swirl of “busy”? Guilt because I don’t feel productive if it’s not? Worry that I may appear as if I’m not doing my part? Lack of time organization? And yes, there are definitely important things that need to be accomplished every day, but maybe that list of “important things I need to do” needs to be reorganized and tweaked, just a bit?

DSC_3807

So a few days ago, I made a pact with myself to be a bit more organized when it comes to doing the things I really enjoy. And to feel less of whatever it is that’s making me feel the need to be busy with tasks all the time and feel guilty if I’m not. Beat it down with a proverbial stick if need be. Of course, I won’t be hiring a maid. (I mean seriously….really?)  But slowly, I’ve been sneaking into my craft room and starting a few things, reading those few extra pages in the bathtub, lingering over my morning bible study.  Trying not to fret if I haven’t made it into the shower before 9:00, there are dishes all over the counter from my morning blog post, and my husband can’t find his brown socks.

DSC_3811

It’s baby steps, sure. But it’s progress.

Here’s a little proof of my progress. I left a mess on the counter for an entire hour and a half while I typed up this blog post…

Just because I felt like it. Uh huh, that’s right.

DSC_3797

And I made these a couple of days ago for our bathroom. Floral pictures cut out of an art book I bought at the local bookstore and placed in shadowbox frames that I found for $3 each and antiqued.

DSC_3821

DSC_3812

And…I’m ever so slowly but surely getting back into jewelry making and am dabbling in making my own clay beads and such. Did you know I used to make jewelry? Yep. Even sold quite a few pieces.

Now though, it’s going to be just for fun and relaxation. 

DSC_3819

I also made a wreath for the guest bathroom window.

DSC_3826

So there ya go. If I can do it, you can certainly do it.

We’ll do it together.

An old dog can be taught new tricks, it just involves patience. Double chocolate doughnuts help too.

We’ll beat down the “glorification of busy” and take the time to live in the moment and enjoy the things we love to do, one. day. at. a. time.

Double Chocolate Baked Doughnuts

Makes 16 doughnuts

*This recipe is adapted from Silvana Nardone’s Chocolate-Dipped Chocolate Doughnuts. Do you have her cook book? If not, you should! It’s filled with fantastic gluten-free recipes.

doughnuts:

1 1/2 Tablespoons Instant Coffee Granules

3/4 Cup Boiling Water

2 Large Eggs, room temperature

6 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil

1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1 1/2 Cups Silvana’s All Purpose Flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill products and Kosher salt)

1/2 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder

3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda

3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt

3/4 Cup Packed Dark Brown Sugar

3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar

glaze:

1/4 Cup Boiling Water

6 ounces Dairy Free Semi Sweet Chocolate, chopped or shaved

2 1/4 Cups Powdered Sugar

1 1/2 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1 Tablespoon Hot Water

Colored Sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two non-stick doughnut pans (I used non-stick mini bundt cake pans) well with non-stick cooking spray. Whisk the coffee and boiling water; let cool completely. Whisk in the eggs, oil, and vanilla.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Fill each doughnut or bundt cake cup 3/4 full and bake for about 13-15 minutes. Should be springy to the touch. Don’t over bake.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in pans for 10 minutes. Carefully loosen the sided with a fork and using the fork to help lightly remove them from the pans, transfer to a cooling rack.

For the glaze, in a medium bowl stir together the boiling water and chocolate until melted. If it doesn’t melt all the way, microwave at 20 second intervals until smooth. Stir in the powdered sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Add the 1 Tablespoon of hot water and whisk until smooth and of dipping consistency.

Carefully dip each doughnut in the glaze, return to the cooling racks and top with sprinkles

Pumpkin Biscotti with Drizzled Belgian Chocolate

13 Comments

DSC_3778

Biscotti is incredibly easy to make. If you haven’t made your own, you must!

Put it on your “to-do” list and I promise, you won’t be disappointed. It’s the perfect afternoon snack with a cup of coffee or tea.

Pumpkin Biscotti with Drizzled Belgian Chocolate

*This recipe makes 10 servings

1 1/4 Cups Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour Blend

3/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, lightly packed

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice (or make your own with this recipe)

1/4 Cup Pureed Pumpkin (I used organic canned pumpkin)

1 Large Egg

2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (I use convection)

In a medium bowl measure the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla extract. Next, right on top add the flour brown sugar, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum, and pumpkin pie spice.

Stir with a spoon until ingredients are moistened and come together. This will take a minute or so of stirring.

DSC_3743

With your hand, knead the dough lightly and form into a ball.

DSC_3746

Place the dough ball on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper that is cut to fit your baking sheet. Roll the dough around a little in the flour to make it easier to work with and shape it into a kind of log/loaf shape. It will be small.

DSC_3750

Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Lower the oven to 325 degrees.

DSC_3751

Slice carefully with a serrated knife by sawing back and forth. Cut into 10 servings and lay each piece on its side on the parchment covered baking sheet.

DSC_3754

Bake the first side for 8 minutes, remove from oven and turn over each piece. Bake the 2nd side for 10 minutes.

Remove to rack and cool completely. They will feel rather soft when you remove them from the oven but will crisp right up as they cool and will have a slightly soft center.

DSC_3760

Once they’ve completely cooled, melt 4 ounces of 70% Belgian chocolate in the microwave in 30 second increments. Stir with a spoon and drizzle over each piece.

DSC_3765

I like just a hint of chocolate on mine, if you like more, you can melt a larger quantity of chocolate and dip half  (or all!) of each biscotti instead of drizzling. I stuck mine in the fridge for 10 minutes to set the chocolate quickly.

DSC_3776