Bright Eyed & Bushy Tailed

I was awakened this morning at 5:00 AM to the sound of a tail thumping by my head and my face being covered with good morning licks. Evidently Abigail was way ahead of me in the energy department and was already getting excited for their morning walk.

Romeo was still lounging at my feet stretching and groaning. “I’m with you, Romeo,” I said. I rolled over and tried to ignore Abigail but she already had her morning agenda planned and wasn’t going to put up with Romeo and I lounging around lazily. So she laid on more kisses and more tail wagging and then started to jump around on the bed…

“OK, OK, I’m up…let’s get ready to go!” So I dragged myself out of bed and whipped up a quick breakfast I could drink on the 20 minute drive.

Quick Morning Smoothie

1/4 Cup Fresh Pineapple

1 Cup Frozen Organic Mixed Berries

1 Cup Organic Almond Milk

1 Heaping Tablespoon Organic Raw Almond Butter

1/2 Cup Ice

Place all ingredients in mixer and blend until smooth.

This morning’s walk was along the river by a nearby airfield.

The water looked very inviting. Next time I’m wearing my suit!

These were right next to the boat launch where we were standing. I was trying to get a good shot of the lady bug but she wouldn’t cooperate. Then I did some further investigating and realized that half the bush was covered with wasps. EEEeek!

All smiles.

“Are you coming? I’ve got places to go and things to sniff!”

Another plane coming in for a landing. Kind of cool to watch them come and go. Notice how hazy the mountains are in the background? We have a couple of wildfires burning in our area. Not unusual for this time of year especially when we have very wet springs that allow things to overgrow and then very hot summers that dry things out.

We’re back home now and I suppose I should finish my to-do list from yesterday. I had big plans to clean and organize and run errands yesterday, but visiting with neighbors and making a Luscious Lemon Cake seemed like so much more fun.

Hope you have a great day!

Succulent gâteau au citron

Or otherwise known as ~ Luscious Lemon Cake

This is a French angel food cake. According to Laura Calder from French Food At Home, it’s French because Americans use just egg whites and the French use both whites and yolks.

Have you seen French Food At Home on The Cooking Channel? Love, love, LOVE it! She always has gorgeous and amazing recipes that look extremely fancy but are usually pretty easy to attempt. I even love the music. She has a little bit of a quirky personality and it’s fun to watch her mannerisms and hear her formal way of speaking. The music is very French and fun and her whole show is just a nice, relaxing, treat.

Laura Calder’s a Canadian who was in the corporate world in a high stress job and in a relationship, etc., etc. She said one day she woke up, decided enough was enough. Quit her job, dumped the boyfriend, and enrolled herself at Dubrulle Culinary Institute in Vancouver. Then moved to France and honed her skills at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne. Can you imagine? What excitement!

This cake is simple, so simple in fact that it freaked me out a bit. But only because cakes in the gluten-free world are a little touchy and temperamental. They can come out dense and grainy, or fluffy and dry. This cake was neither.

French angel food cake doesn’t puff up quite like American angel food cake and it’s not as sweet. It’s amazing. In fact, I like it better than American angel food cake. It’s not sticky like a lot of angel food cakes and doesn’t smoosh down when you slice it. It remains fluffy and moist with a tiny bit of slightly crispy crust on the outside.  It’s delicious and I am now addicted…for life. I’ve already had two slices. Before dinner. Like grown ups have the right to do!

This recipe is adapted from Laura Calder’s original recipe: Angel Cake with Blackberries and White Currents.

Luscious Lemon Cake

6 Eggs, separated

1 Cup Sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons Pure Lemon Extract

1 Cup Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour, sifted

Lemon Glaze:

1 1/2 Tablespoons Dairy Free Butter

About 2 Cups Powdered Sugar

Zest of 1 Lemon

Juice of 2 Lemons

Almond Milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees for convection, 400 degrees conventional. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9 inch springform pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with parchment and butter the parchment.

Beat egg whites to stiff peak in a bowl with a whisk or in a mixer. I used a mixer. Not too stiff! Just enough that the peak stands without falling. Whisk the egg yolks and pour all at once into the batter.

Beat until thoroughly combined and with the mixer running, add the sugar and lemon extract. Beat until combined.

Remove beater. Sift flour. Fold flour into batter carefully. Pour into springform pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cooking times may vary if you are using a conventional oven. Her cooking time was 60 minutes.

Woops, I was a little overzealous when giving the cake the finger touch test. But it turned out OK after all because once it cools for 15 minutes the top cracks anyway. Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes and then remove the sides of the springform pan and place the cake on a serving platter or cake plate.

To make the glaze: Simply melt the butter in a bowl, add the powdered sugar a bit at a time and alternate with the lemon juice and powdered sugar. Once it’s combined, add almond milk a teaspoon at a time to get a thick “ish” glaze consistency. Smooth it over the top while the cake is still warm and allow it to drizzle down the sides.

Coupe une belle pièce, offrez-vous un bon livre, une tasse de thé, et profitez de votre journée !

Cherry, Walnut, & Dark Chocolate Bites

These are low in fat, high in fiber, and packed with antioxidants.

A perfect little snack for an hour of reading and a nice cup of tea.

Cherry, Walnut, & Dark Chocolate Bites

1 1/2 Cups Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

1/2 Cup Gluten Free Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

1 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/4 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

4 Tablespoons Dairy Free Butter

1/2 Cup Packed Dark Brown Sugar

1 Large Egg

1/4 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1/2 Cup Walnut Halves, crumbled

1/2 Cup Dried Cherries

1/2 Cup Dairy Free Dark Belgian Chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine all of the dry ingredients (minus the nuts, cherries, & chocolate) in a medium bowl and whisk together. In a mixer, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add the egg, applesauce, and vanilla, mix thoroughly.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet mixing on stir setting until just moistened. Add the nuts, cherries, and chocolate and mix on low until thoroughly combined.

Place by heaping teaspoons onto baking sheets and bake for about 12-15 minutes depending on your oven. I use convection.

*This recipe was adapted from Health magazines’ Supercharged Cherry Almond Cookies.

Grilled Cheese with Spinach, Chicken & Pesto

I’ve been trying to stick to salads for lunch to up my daily veggie intake, but yesterday I had almost an entire vegetable day purely by accident. I love vegetables, but all day? I must have had a lot going on because typically I’m a protein lover.

After walking the dogs late this morning I couldn’t get my mind off of a grilled cheese sandwich. I also had chicken breasts that needed to be grilled and leftover vegan pesto from the sandwiches I made over the weekend. After the dogs got their “you were good on your walk” treat, I rummaged around and also remembered I had organic tomatoes and a nice bunch of organic flat leaf parsley. I’m crazy for parsley. I don’t know why, but I’ve been that way since I was a kid. I used to eat everyone’s parsley off their plate when we went out to dinner.

So, once I realized I had the makings for a delicious sandwich, I shoved the salad I made yesterday to the back of the fridge and told myself I would eat it for dinner instead.

Grilled Cheese with Spinach, Chicken, & Pesto

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

Slices of Grilled Chicken Breast

Spinach Leaves

Vegan Pesto

Diaya Cheese

Dairy Free Butter

Fresh Tomatoes

Flat Leaf Parsley

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Pepper

I’m sure you know how to make a grilled cheese so I will just give the basics. Grill the chicken first, or use leftovers, your preference. Spread pesto on the insides of both pieces of bread. Place the cheese on the bottom piece of bread, closest to the heat. Layer everything else however you like and cook until nice and toasty.

Vegetable Stuffed Portobello For One

A very long time ago I said we were going to go to “Meatless Mondays” . We never quite made it. Although, we have cut back on our red meat consumption dramatically, I find it hard to stick to one thing on a specific day of the week. Partly because I haven’t put much effort into figuring out enough meatless meals and also because my husband travels so much that I rarely exert a lot of energy into figuring out what I’m going to make myself for dinner when he’s away.

Last night, it was black bean re-fried beans, dairy-free cheese, and Tabasco that I heated in the microwave. Then I ate it while reading a book.  Don’t scoff, it was quite enjoyable.

But, tonight, in an attempt to get my daily recommended allowance of vegetables, I thought I’d put in a tad more effort. But not so much that it would be too complicated to eat while reading my book.

Grilled Vegetable Stuffed Portobello with Sautéed Rainbow Chard

1 Portobello Mushroom

1/2 Orange Bell Pepper

1 Small Sweet Onion

About 3/4 Cup Broccoli

About 6 Sugar Peas

Rainbow Chard, about 8 leaves, stems removed

Olive Oil

Garlic Powder

Kosher Salt

Diaya Cheddar Style Cheese, optional

Drizzle the mushroom with a little olive oil and rub to coat, set aside. Add the cut vegetables to a bowl, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and garlic powder, and toss to coat. Add everything to a grilling pan and grill on medium-high until mushroom is cooked and moist and vegetables are tender and browned on the edges.

While vegetables are grilling, coat a saute pan with a little olive oil. Heat on medium-high and saute the chard until it is wilted. It will wilt a lot, just like spinach does, so if you’re cooking for more than one, you’ll need to use a full head or more.

If you would like to top yours with dairy-free cheese, you’ll need to melt it under the broiler or in the microwave.

Bits & Bites

I keep trying to imagine Fall in New Hampshire.

We’re hoping we can get there in time to see it in its full splendor and glory. 

Another week and weekend have sped by at what seems like a million miles an hour.

Our house is still for sale and my husband is still traveling extensively. I am still having to live moment to moment in case someone wants to see the house…at which time everything has to be spotless, all pet evidence hidden, every light in the house on, and the dogs and cat and I have to drive around aimlessly or invade my mother’s house while waiting for strangers to critique our home.

We are still trying to cram everything my husband wants to do, everything I want to do, and everything that needs to be done that I can’t do myself into a tiny, 28-30 hour period of time. I will use the word “adventure” to explain how it feels, but really, we’ve come up with a lot more colorful verbs and adjectives lately, because frankly, we’re tired. We’re feeling a little old and worn out and we’re ready to get this show on the road.

So worn out in fact, that my memory seems to be shot. When my husband left for his 6:00 AM flight this morning, I thought, “I am just going to lounge for a while and catch up on all of the blogs I haven’t had time to read and comment on and put-put around the house.” It was all lollipops and rainbows until 8:00 rolled around and I realized someone was parked in front of our house…

Oh yes, and then it dawned on me.

“OH, NO, NO, NO!!!” I yelled running around the house, locking dogs in crates and trying to find pants. I had forgotten that I have two appointments for estimates with moving companies today. One at 8:00 and one at noon. So when the doorbell rang I had to answer it with raccoon mascara eyes, a rat’s nest on my head, my nightgown tucked into a pair of sweats, and a sweatshirt with the pulley thing that had gone missing that I had replaced with a large safety pin.

Classy.

And the worst part…to add insult to injury, it was already hot, so I was already sweating, breathless from running around like a maniac, and…bra-less.

Luckily, our weekend wasn’t quite as hectic. Saturday I was coming off of a four day migraine (horrible!) so we didn’t do much. I was able to rally enough to go out to lunch with my husband after his hang gliding lessons, thank goodness. Then we did a little shopping, and headed home to watch the Olympics for the evening.

Sunday it was supposed to get up to 100 degrees so we headed out early to a street fair in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. It’s a lake city, fun and gorgeous, and just a really nice place to mill around, take some time, and see what’s what.

This is a picture that proves that there are still wonderfully kind people in this world. As we were headed to the kiosk to pay for parking a lady yelled after us asking if we wanted her all day parking pass. She had come to the fair first thing for one specific item and had only been there for 30 minutes. So this lovely lady, handed us her pass and told us to have a great day. That’s Tony headed to our car with our free pass. It’s the little things in life and it’s amazing how one kind person can make such a difference in your day and your view of mankind.

There were lots and lots of vendors. Some of the usual and some new ones. I bought a few items at Blue Creek Apothecary. All lovely, all natural, pamper yourself, smell good, kind of things. You can find her on Etsy & Facebook.

Loved this…it’s SO true! Well, for those of us who love to read anyway… This booth belonged to Sassy-Sisters. You can find them on Facebook.

There were so many beautiful booths with different types of glass-work and sculptures that would have made for gorgeous pictures, but some of the vendors wouldn’t allow me to photograph them and show them to you. Guess they thought I’d run home, blow my own glass, get my blow torch out and fashion some metal for sculptures and copy their creations…

And of course, along with street fairs comes some interesting people watching. There’s always at least one that has the ability to crack you up.

We opted to forgo the street fair food, which I can’t eat most of anyway, and headed home with our treasures to relax and nibble on fresh veggie sandwiches with homemade pesto & goat cheese spread.

You can find the recipe for my homemade vegan pesto here. Then, simply add two Tablespoons of it to a small package of creamy goat cheese and two Tablespoons of olive oil mayonnaise to make an unbelievable sandwich spread.

Next you’ll need a beautiful tomato, an English cucumber, a ripe avocado, and a few slices of gluten free bread, toasted.

Then, you just lovingly slather, spread, and layer until you have something that makes your mouth water and your significant other “ooohhhh and ahhhhhh”.

Bird’s Nest

I thought it was a good idea to eat something somewhat “healthy” for dinner last night after indulging in fried chicken livers three meals in a row…

This is an incredibly simple and gorgeous meal.

It looked so pretty I hated to poke my fork into it…

But that didn’t last long.

Bird’s Nest

Gluten Free Spinach Pasta (I use Tinkyada)

Vegan Walnut Pesto

Organic Red Chard, sautéed with organic olive oil

Squeeze of Lemon

Organic Egg (s), over easy

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Pepper

Saute the chard in olive oil until wilted, squeeze about a Tablespoon of lemon over it, and set aside. Take the finished pasta and place it in a saute pan over medium high heat and toss with the pesto. I used about 1 1/2 Tablespoons for one serving.

Arrange the pasta on the plate in a “nest”. Top with the wilted chard. Top with an egg, over easy, and finish with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.