Going Green

Sometimes I get really tired of breakfast. I’m not really a breakfast food person, although I won’t turn down pancakes or crepes. I prefer leftover dinner for breakfast, but even that has me feeling “blah” lately. A smoothie is a wonderful way boost your vegetable, fruit, and protein intake. They are easy to make, convenient, and a light and healthy way to consume high fiber and nutrients that most of us have a difficult time getting enough of in our diets.

This recipe is adapted from Women’s Health Magazine. Theirs didn’t have protein powder, or pineapple. They also had two apples and ginger where I had 1 apple and no ginger (I love ginger, husband doesn’t). They also juiced theirs. I don’t believe in juicing. Although it looks gorgeous, whereas mine resembled a bit of pea soup, you miss out on all of that amazing fiber if you juice instead of simply blending. If you can, use all organic ingredients.

Pea soup look aside, this smoothie is delicious and fresh tasting. Sure to give you a light and energetic start to your Friday!

Going Green Smoothie

*Makes two 16 ounce smoothies

1 Large Packed Handful of Baby Spinach Leaves

2 Medium Carrots, peel on

2 Stalks of Celery

1 Apple, cored, skin on

1/2 Cup Pineapple

Juice of 1/2 Large Lemon

2 Scoops Protein Powder, I use brown rice protein

About 8 oz. Spring Water

About 8 oz. Ice

Place all ingredients in a heavy-duty blender and blend until smooth. You can add more water for whatever consistency you desire.

Go With Your Gut

Over the weekend I ordered a hot chocolate at a specialty shop downtown. I like to go to that particular shop because I know that their sipping chocolate is dairy free and they will make me a hot cup with almond milk.

Or so I thought. 

If possible, I usually watch people make my food and drinks. Because honestly, no one cares as much about my food allergies as I do. But on this occasion I was on a date weekend with my husband who has been traveling a lot. My focus was on him and we were chatting away, not paying attention to my favorite cup of sipping chocolate. As we walked out the door with my to go cup, I first put my nose to it and inhaled deeply as I always do. Ahhh…chocolate. Is there anything better on certain days?

Hmm…it smells different.

I stopped in my tracks. Took a couple of sips and again realized…something is different. I looked at my husband and said, “Do you think I should go back in and double-check if they made this with almond milk? I asked her to make it with almond milk right off the bat.” For whatever reason, I hate to be an alarmist. I hate to be one of “those” paranoid people who whine, or throw a fit when they think their order isn’t prepared properly. But my husband looked at me and said, “Just go back in really quick and ask. What’s wrong with asking?”

So I popped back in and nicely asked and… you guessed it. She made it with cow’s milk! I told them I was allergic to cow’s milk and that I had asked for almond milk. They apologized (kind of) and gave us a tiny little vegan caramel to share. How generous…and of course, made me another  sipping chocolate with almond milk.

Luckily, those two or three sips only resulted in mild stomach issues and a little swelling. There’s a theory that if you abstain from your sensitive foods and allergens that you can eventually add them back into your diet at some point once your gut has healed. Not so with me. My body now recognizes gluten and dairy almost immediately, where several years ago it would take 12-24 hours to appear.

This “accidental” exposure has happened to me numerous times with gluten and dairy. Seriously, more than I can count. It can make even the most anti-alarmist a little paranoid and skeptical. It has even happened in restaurants where I order off of the gluten-free menu and make sure there’s no dairy in my entrée.  As a matter of fact, sometimes when we are extremely busy, which we have been, we eat out a couple times a week. Even though I’m careful, very careful, I can tell after a few restaurant excursions that I am slowly being fed allergens in one form or another even if they tell me I’m not. Swelling joints, stomach issues, headaches, and if it’s really bad, shingles appear. Then I know for sure.

When we were standing at the counter waiting for my sipping chocolate, my  husband looked at me, shook his head, and said, “Always go with your gut.”

Wise words.

Always. Go. With. Your. Gut.

Who cares if people think you are an alarmist, paranoid, or just into the latest crazy diet fad? It’s your health and it’s important. A good reminder.

Here’s a very interesting article that popped into my email this morning. I am set up on Google Alerts for gluten and dairy intolerance articles. This article is very simple and informative in the way it explains the body’s response system to allergens, antibodies,  and how the inflammation process works. 

*Photo courtesy of DrOZFans.com

Herb Cheese Logs

Guess what? You can freeze goat cheese. Who knew?

I had no idea. According to the internet, soft cheeses freeze quite well, actually. This opens up all kinds of ideas for different types of goat and sheep’s milk cheeses. This cheese is mild and delicious. Not overly “goaty” like a lot of aged goat or sheep’s milk cheese. Perfect on crackers, toasted baguette slices, on top of a baked potato, in your favorite salad, sprinkled over your favorite pasta dish…the options are endless. You can make it sweet with zest and agave nectar or savory with herbs and spices. I’ve used sweetened goat cheese with breakfast crepes and it was amazing. Get creative!

Goat’s Milk Cheese Logs

*Makes four 4-5 inch logs

1 Gallon Raw Goat or Sheep’s Milk

3 Tablespoons Kosher Salt + more for seasoning later

Juice of 10 Organic Lemons, about 1 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice

About 2 Tablespoons Organic Chives, chopped

About 2 Tablespoons Organic Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped

About 1 1/2 Tablespoons Organic Thyme, chopped

About 2 teaspoons Chopped Garlic ( I used the organic garlic that comes in the jar)

Ground Pepper

I have a new obsession. Making my own goat’s milk and sheep’s milk cheese! Once you try it, you won’t believe how incredibly easy it is.

I’ve read that it’s important to use raw milk because pasteurized milk doesn’t clot the same way. If you’re able, I would suggest trying to find a local organic farm where you can buy the raw milk.  And then of course, use organic lemons and organic herbs. I buy organic and all natural whenever possible. It just makes sense to eat pure, clean, food as much as I can.

But as you probably already have experienced yourself…pure, locally grown food comes with a little sticker shock.

I paid $16.58 for 1 gallon of raw goat’s milk. One gallon of goat’s milk made into cheese gives you about 12 ounces of cheese. That’s about $1.38 per ounce. Expensive, but really no more than you pay in a grocery store. And the satisfaction of making it yourself and knowing exactly what is in it and where the ingredients come from…priceless!

So give it a try, you won’t be disappointed, I promise:

In a large dutch oven or stainless steel pot (do not use aluminum) add several inches of water and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes to sanitize.  I carefully sloshed it up and around the sides. Drain, add the milk and salt, stir. Heat to 185-190 degrees stirring frequently. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t scald on the bottom of the pan.

Meanwhile, line a large strainer with the cheesecloth. I used all of the cheesecloth in the small package I purchased. Just fold it over and make sure it drapes over the sides. Place the strainer over a deep bowl.

When the milk reaches 185-190 ish degrees, remove from heat.

Slowly stir in the lemon juice. It starts to curdle right away.

Add a pinch of parsley, chives, and thyme, reserving the rest for after the cheese has drained. Allow to rest for 25 minutes in the pan.

After it has rested, pour slowly into the cheesecloth. Allow to drain for about 30 minutes.

Do yourself a favor though…keep an eye on it and don’t go check your blog or your Facebook page while you’re waiting for it to drain. Because you’ll end up with this:

And more importantly this…

Carefully pull the sides of the cloth in and twist into a ball, carefully squeezing out some more of the liquid. Allow to rest and drain for another 25 minutes or so checking and draining the bowl every so often so that it is not sitting in its own liquid.

Remove the cheesecloth from the strainer and scrape the cheese off with a spoon into a bowl. Add the remaining herbs and garlic and stir to combine.

Taste and add a bit more kosher salt and a few grinds of good peppercorns.

On a clean working surface pull out a piece of plastic wrap and fold in half. Spoon goat cheese onto the middle of the plastic wrap in a small row.

Gently roll up one side of the plastic wrap and snuggle it over the log. Roll the log to the other end of the plastic wrap, twist the ends tight and tuck under.

Continue to do this with the remaining cheese or if you’re going to use it within a couple of days, you can also make it into one large log or any shape you like, really.

Once all of the cheese has been rolled, refrigerate for three hours. Remove from fridge, roll in one more layer of plastic wrap, cover in tin foil, enclose in a freezer bag and freeze up to one month.

A New Look & Gingersnaps For The Hubby

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

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

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

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!