Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book: Spaghetti Squash – In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael A. McLellan

Hello everyone! I hope you’re all doing well this week. It’s hard to believe we are in the middle of May already. Time is flying this year! I’m sorry I haven’t been doing many Breakfast and a Book posts lately, but life has been a little crazy. I hope to pick back up with more of these during the summer when I have a little more time in the mornings.

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I’ve had this recipe in mind for some time now. I cook it often, but the difference now is that I don’t have it with eggs like I used to. For breakfast, this can be served with fried eggs or scrambled eggs mixed in. Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book: Spaghetti Squash – In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael A. McLellan”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Coconut Date Rolls – Pukka Womankind Tea – Medical Medium: Secrets Behind Chronic and Mystery Illness and How to Finally Heal

Hello, lovely friends! How is everyone doing this week? I’m feeling pretty good myself and trying to stay caught up here. I may be cutting down to one or two breakfast posts a month as spring is coming in and I have much to do outside. My reading has slowed, but I hope to keep up to at least a book a week for now.

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This week I have a new recipe, new tea, and a new book to share!


Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Coconut Date Rolls – Pukka Womankind Tea – Medical Medium: Secrets Behind Chronic and Mystery Illness and How to Finally Heal”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Coconut Almond Yogurt – Chocolate Coconut Overnight Oats – The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

Greetings, friends! Happy Wednesday to everyone. 🙂  I hope you’re all enjoying the week so far. Today I have an awesome healthy breakfast recipe for you and also a new ARC that I’m reading for this week.

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This recipe came to me last night after talking with my friend Nel. We talk about food pretty much on a daily basis and she mentioned making this recipe for breakfast this morning. I was intrigued as soon as I opened the link! It includes five different ways to make overnight oats and I spotted one titled “Chocolate Coconut Overnight Oats” which screamed my name. I mean, any recipe containing chocolate for breakfast is pretty much going down in my book. Check out Nel’s blog this morning to see the one she chose to make–Berries and Cream!

Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Coconut Almond Yogurt – Chocolate Coconut Overnight Oats – The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Apple Porridge with Cinnamon and Raisins- Star Anise and Cinnamon Tea – Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Happy Wednesday, friends! How’s everyone doing this week? Are you all reading anything interesting? I totally went off my reading schedule to fit a new ARC in. I’ll be sharing that today and also a new recipe from the Thyroid Healing book by Anthony Williams that I talked about a few weeks ago. I hope you enjoy!

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I was a little late this morning and needed a quick breakfast. I’ve been thinking about this recipe since I first saw it and thought I’d give it a try. There’s no cooking involved and this was super fast!  Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Apple Porridge with Cinnamon and Raisins- Star Anise and Cinnamon Tea – Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage”

Saturday’s Kitchen: Tots! : A Cookbook by Dan Whalen – Book Review with Recipe Results – January 27th

Hello lovely friends! Welcome back to another Saturday’s Kitchen, where I share with you some recipes from our Saturday cooking adventures. Today I’m going to  talk about a cookbook I ended up requesting from NetGalley. We’ve made a few delicious recipes from this book and you can read my review of the book and see our recipe results below.

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Today I’ll be sharing my review of:

Tots!: A Cookbook

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Blurb: It’s a fact: Americans love tots, and last year consumed 3.5 billion of them. And not just at home. From fast-food joints to high-end restaurants, chefs are joining the tot trend, serving exotically spiced tots or fun mash-ups like Totchos, with tots replacing the corn chips in nachos. But now, prepare for TOT-al domination! Created by mad-genius food blogger Dan Whalen, Tots! elevates the friendly little tater to its place in the culinary spotlight.
This irresistible cookbook with a nubby tot-texture on the cover offers 50 delicious, playful, and surprising recipes for snacks, appetizers, inspired main dishes, and inspired sides, even desserts. (Yes, you could create an entire tot-centric dinner.) Here are party dishes like Buffalo Tots and Tot Poutine. A Tot Caesar for an elegant starter. Tots for breakfast, like Tots Benedict and a Tot Shakshuka, and tots for dinner—Moules Tots, Chicken Tot Pie, Tater Tot Pizza, and Bibimtot. Side dishes—next Thanksgiving, try Sausage and Tot Stuffing. And for sweets lovers, Tot Churros (deep-fried and dipped in chocolate ganache), Apple Tot Crumble (that crispy salty tot topping really plays off the warm sweet apples), and Tot S’mores—a heavenly melt of a dish.
Every recipe uses frozen commercial tots—but Dan Whalen also shows die-hard tot lovers how to make tots from scratch and then alter their creations with different spices (think Tots Vindaloo) and sauces. It’s TOT-ally awesome. – Amazon

My Thoughts:

My husband is what I call a ‘tot aficionado’ because he’s one of those people willing to stand every single tater tot straight up, perfectly spaced, to get nice crispy tots every time right out of the oven. So, when I saw Tots!: A Cookbook, I had to grab it. I’m always hopeful to impress my family with some new and fresh recipes, and these would include one of their favorite foods.
The book begins describing the different types of tots you can buy and how to cook them. I was already fascinated with just the simple tricks for getting the crispiest tots in the oven. No more standing them up! The author shares a simple little addition that gets your tots super crispy and it truly works! I was able to impress my husband and had a huge smile on my face when he said, “Wow, these are perfect.”
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Sections of the book include some basics, seasonings, sauces, dips, appetizers, breakfast recipes, main dishes, and desserts. There’s also a nifty ‘Timeline of the Tater Tot’ including some history which was fun to read. There’s even a recipe for making your tots from scratch.
I decided to start with the Chipotle Mayo for a dip. I ended up serving this with the super crispy tots I mention above. It was a huge hit! The dip turned out sensational and it was a nice change from ketchup or barbecue sauce.

Chipotle Mayo:

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It’s basically a mix of mayo, sour cream, and seasonings.
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Continue reading “Saturday’s Kitchen: Tots! : A Cookbook by Dan Whalen – Book Review with Recipe Results – January 27th”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – The Last Panther by Todd Mitchell – Raw Cookies & Homemade Almond Milk

Hello everyone! How’s your week going? Are you reading anything good? I’m back today with a book I’ve started this week and a recipe I’ve been wanting to share since last year! Hope you enjoy 🙂

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I decided yesterday that I wanted to have raw cookies for breakfast this morning. It’s been some time since I made these because my dehydrator was in the process of being fixed. I have a love hate relationship with my Sedona dehydrator because it functions very well, but it’s required repair three times since I got it five years ago! When I say fixed, I mean they send me the part and I fix it, haha. So, my warranty is up now and I’m hoping that I’ll at least get another good year out of it.

This particular raw cookie is my own creation. I’ve made so many different recipes and finally just decided to make them the way I want, with the ingredients I enjoy. Here’s what I did.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Almonds
  • 5 Dates (Pitted)
  • 2 TB Raw Honey
  • Half cup soaked raisins (soaked overnight in water – save the water)
  • 2 TB Coconut Oil
  • Half tsp. cinnamon
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • Cacao nibs (roughly 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • Chopped dark chocolate (roughly 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

The first thing you do is put your almonds into a processor and give a few pulses until you get a course meal.

Now add in your coconut oil, honey, a few tablespoons of your raisin water, and the dates. Blend this up until it gets nice and sticky.

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Dump this into a bowl and add in everything else until well blended. I use a microplane to grind up fresh nutmeg. Also, Bob’s Red Mill has a nice shredded coconut that doesn’t contain sulfites.

Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – The Last Panther by Todd Mitchell – Raw Cookies & Homemade Almond Milk”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Baked Oatmeal – One For Sorrow – The Tenth Circle

Howdy everyone! I hope you’re all doing well and having a great week so far. I’m doing pretty good and getting caught up on reading. I’ve added a few books to my challenge and seem to be on track for the most part so far.

Today I wanted to share a recipe I found online for baked oatmeal. I’ve been aiming to try baked oatmeal for some time after chatting with my friend Jennifer about it. Can you believe I’ve never made it? Well, here’s the recipe that I found, but I ran into some problems.

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Baked Oatmeal II

Recipe Credit: BLANCHL from allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Beat in milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Stir in dried cranberries. Spread into a 9×13 inch baking dish.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

—–

So the issue I had with this recipe is that I can’t use dairy, eggs, or butter because I’m working on sticking to the protocol in the Thyroid Healing book I discussed last week. So, I got online and found a link at sheknows.com for egg substitutes. Here’s what I found out!

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I decided to substitute the eggs with applesauce. Then I went over to Dr. Axe’s site ❤ to find some good butter substitutions. I decided to sub the butter with coconut oil and I used almond milk in place of cow’s milk. If you don’t have issues with dairy, eggs, and butter, just make it the way it appears above! I just know this is going to be delicious either way.

Here’s what I did:

I put all my dry ingredients in a bowl and mixed it up a bit.

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Then I added in the wet ingredients and mixed it well. This includes the vanilla which isn’t pictured.

 

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I mixed in the raisins last. The recipe calls for cranberries, but I’m not a huge fan of cranberries when it comes to oatmeal, though I do use them occasionally.

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I put the mix into a 13×9 glass pan and baked at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. I set the timer for 40 minutes, but it needed extra time to crisp up at the top.

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It pretty much came out looking the same way it went in.

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I cut it into pieces and served with a drizzle of honey and fresh almond milk.

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This was pretty good even with the substitutions, but looking back, I think an hour in the oven would’ve been better. It had a crisp top and was quite soft on the bottom. It sort of reminded me of a soft, warm granola bar.

Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Baked Oatmeal – One For Sorrow – The Tenth Circle”

Saturday’s Kitchen: January 6th – Sally’s Cookie Addiction by Sally McKenney – Book Review and Recipe Results!

Hello friends! I’m here today with another Saturday’s Kitchen where I share with you some recipes from our Saturday cooking adventures. Today I’m going to  talk about one of my new favorite cookie books. We’ve made some scrumptious cookies from this book and I think you’ll be pleased with our results. You can read my review of the book and see our recipe results below.

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Sally’s Cookie Addiction: Irresistible Cookies, Cookie Bars, Shortbread, and More from the Creator of Sally’s Baking Addiction

by Sally McKenney 

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Blurb: Bake exquisite cookies, bars, and doughs perfectly every time with Sally’s Cookie Addiction. A world of baking wonder awaits you and all the lucky people you’ll share them with.

Are you ready to sink your teeth into Brown Butter Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies? How about Peanut Butter Nutella Swirl Cookies or Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cookies? Featuring a mouthwatering selection of cookiescookie barscookie dough dipsslice-and-bakesno-bakes, and more, Sally’s Cookie Addiction features dozens of exciting flavors, including chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter, sugar, coconut, lemon, s’more, and oatmeal, oh my!

The best part? Sally’s Cookie Addiction, Sally will tell you how to make each and every cookie in the book ahead of time. So, if you want to start preparing for the holidays, or if you just like keeping cookie dough in your freezer for those critical cookie emergencies!

Complete with tips on how to bake the perfect cookie and gorgeous photographySally’s Cookie Addiction is the only cookie book you need on your shelf. Get ready for your kitchen to be the most popular room in the house while the smells of Warm Chocolate Chunk Skillet CookiesLemon Crème Sandwich Cookies, and Soft-Baked Sugar Cookie Bars emanate from the oven!

My Thoughts:

I was browsing through some cookbooks at my local library a few weeks ago and came across this cookbook in the new section. The cover spoke to me and I had to grab it. My family loves cookies and I’m always interested in trying some new recipes and was I ever surprised!

This cookbook has over 80 different cookie recipes. The author covers the basics, frostings, equipment, and includes helpful tips. There are tons of beautiful photographs too. What surprised me? There are some gluten free recipes in here too which is exactly what I needed! There’s even a dog biscuit recipe for your pups. This is pretty much a ‘something for everyone’ cookie book.

We ended up making a handful of cookie recipes from the book. Here are a few below with our reviews of each recipe.

Jude and Franklin’s Favorite Dog Biscuits:

What dog wouldn’t love some homemade peanut butter and pumpkin treats? These were so easy to make and my kids loved helping make them. All it takes is six ingredients! Dogs love pumpkin and peanut butter and they make the whole house smell wonderful when cooking.

We only had cat shaped cookie cutters which worked out perfect. Our dogs love cats!

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They loved these and could barely wait.

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You can see Bowie licking her lips in this picture.

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Speaking for my dogs, I’d say this recipe gets:

5*****


Giant Funfetti Cookie Pizza:

I’ve never had luck with cookie pizzas. Most times they just don’t come out soft enough. This recipe is a new keeper.

This giant funfetti cookie pizza is in the sprinkle chapter, no surprise. It calls for 2/3 cup sprinkles!

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I cooked this on a pizza stone because I don’t use pizza pans much and usually end up using cast iron. I wasn’t sure about that, so we went with a stone. It turned out perfect!

We ended up using 1/3 cup of sprinkles in the recipe and then added on some more for decoration.

I used a 1M wilton tip as suggestion in the recipe for the icing. I had to sneak a bite of this! It was delicious and there wasn’t anything left of it!

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This recipe also gets:

5*****


Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies:

Cookies with only five ingredients always catch my attention. These are made with mainly peanut butter! I even used Skippy crunchy natural peanut butter which isn’t recommended, and they still came out perfect.

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These were delicious and I didn’t feel guilty eating a few because they’re gluten free. This recipe gets:

5*****


Continue reading “Saturday’s Kitchen: January 6th – Sally’s Cookie Addiction by Sally McKenney – Book Review and Recipe Results!”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – N. N. Light’s Book of Daily Inspiration – Gluten Free Biscuits – Sherwood Forest Tea

Hello everyone! I hope everyone is having a great week. I’m back today for Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book with a new recipe, tea, book, and update!

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It was -17 degrees yesterday morning and with all the snow and cold weather, I was really craving biscuits. I don’t know what it is about a hot drink and biscuit in the morning, but it’s what I was craving and because I’m gluten free, I had to figure something out. I’ve been trying to go completely 100% gluten free for some time now, but sometimes I slip up and have wheat. The truth is, I love wheat, but my body doesn’t and it makes me so sick. So, here’s a gluten free biscuit recipe that I found online. It’s pretty good. This is the second time I’ve made it and this time they came out much better. I did learn a few things this time around that I need to improve on. Gluten free baking isn’t always easy, but I’m learning.

GLUTEN FREE BISCUIT RECIPE  from Spinachtiger.com   by Angela Roberts

Author: Angela Roberts
Recipe type: Biscuit
Cuisine: American
Prep time:  
Cook time:  
Total time:  
Serves: 8
INGREDIENTS
  • 6 tbsp Butter, unsalted
  • 2¼ cups (342 grams) plus more for dusting I recommend Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 Flour order here
  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons of golden flax meal (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoon sugar (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk (see notes for substitutes)
  • 3 tablespoon whole milk ricotta cheese (see notes)

Instructions:

  1. Cut butter into small pieces. Freeze for 15 minutes.
  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients, flour, salt, baking powder, golden flax meal, sugar.
  3. Add in butter with your hands or pastry cutter. (The Video shows how to do this).
  4. Mix Ricotta Cheese with Buttermilk. Add egg to the milk mixture. Stir.
  5. Add in to mixture. Use a wooden spoon.
  6. Mixture should be wet. Put some more flour on bottom and top of sticky dough.
  7. Form into a disc. Cut Biscuits.
  8. Put on a baking dish separated.
  9. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
  10. Let them cool at least 5 minutes or longer. Until they cool, the biscuits are gummy. They get better as they cool, very different from biscuits with gluten.
NOTES
If you don’t have golden flax meal, you can leave it out.
However, if you are skipping the ricotta cheese, adding the two tablespoons of golden flax meal will make a difference.Milk Substitutes: You can use water with a teaspoon of vinegar. Some have also been successful using coconut milk. (Still use vinegar). Vinegar is a tenderizer.

 

Here’s what I did:

I mixed together all the dry ingredients. I used Namaste Foods Gluten Free Flour that I picked up at Costco.

I didn’t have ricotta cheese, so I used cottage cheese that I pulverized in my Vitamix. I also didn’t have fresh buttermilk on hand, so I added a little vinegar to the milk and let it sit for about 5 minutes or so. I chopped up the butter into dice sized pieces and froze it for about 10 minutes.

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I mixed the butter into my flour mixture and used my hands to break up the pieces into crumbs. I ended up using a really large fork to help out.

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I whisked in the egg and cheese into the milk and added it all to my flour mixture, turning with a wooden spoon until just mixed.

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The dough was very sticky and I couldn’t get a picture with my hands so messy, but basically, I patted it out on the counter with a little flour underneath and on top.

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I put them in a nicely greased cast iron pan, sides touching. I had four extra biscuits and put them into a separate cast iron pan, sides not touching, just to sort of experiment a bit.

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I baked these in a  475 degree oven on convect, which means the oven was lowered to a temp of 450 degrees. I could tell that the separated biscuits looked a little more brown with nice edges at around 17 minutes.

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The other pan turned out okay, but the edges were more soft. These biscuits also didn’t cook as quick and I ended up cooking them another five minutes or so. We completely cooled them before eating as Angela suggests with her recipe.

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The family consensus was that you really need jam, peanut butter, or butter to make these taste great. They were sort of bland without something on them. The consistency is definitely not like a wheat biscuit, but it was pretty good! I think Angela did an awesome job creating this recipe. I had my biscuit with homemade plum jam.

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Next time, I’ll make it with the ricotta cheese and I’ll cook them on a cookie sheet with sides not touching. I think this will make a huge difference. The consistency of this biscuit sort of reminded me of a English muffin, which I love!

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Tea:

For my tea this morning, I used this little packet of herbal tea that I received in my Owlcrate a few months ago. It’s an Owlcrate exclusive from Riddles Tea Shoppe and Curiosities titled Sherwood Forest, which is decaf Ceylon tea with sweet blueberry.

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Here are the ingredients below. This is a new favorite! The blueberry aroma when steeping this tea was so enticing. You could smell it throughout the kitchen.

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Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – N. N. Light’s Book of Daily Inspiration – Gluten Free Biscuits – Sherwood Forest Tea”

12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge – Day 12 – What’s Christmas Like Where You Live?

I came across this wonderful 12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge over at Abbey’s blog threecatsandagirl earlier this month. It was originally introduced by abbeycoseattle when she presented it on her blog. As soon as I saw this, I knew that it would be so much fun. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for to share some Christmas cheer on my blog. I’d like to say thanks to both of these wonderful ladies!

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~Rules~

  • Link back to Abbey’s original post here so that way she can see who all is joining and she can follow along.
  • Link back to any one of my posts in the challenge so that way I can follow along too
  • Save the image and join in for the fun!

12 Days of Christmas

Today is the final day of the 12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge. Christmas has come and its already passed. I can’t believe it. I’ll admit that I’m both excited for the New Year, yet saddened because I don’t want it to be over. I love this time of year.

For day 12 the question is: What is Christmas Like Where You Live? 

I live close to Lake Michigan which means Christmas is generally frigid, in fact, it’s near zero degrees this morning and it’s very white outside! Growing up in this geographical location meant a white Christmas nearly every year.

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Where I live there are many Christmas activities to participate in. Roughly 30 minutes from our house is a designated area where everyone decorates their homes with stunning Christmas lights. You can simply drive through the neighborhoods or even get out and walk through all the decorations if it’s not too cold. It really is a site to see.

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A few years ago, we went to Chicago and visited Winter Wonderfest at Navy Peer. That was fun! You get to make a cookie, ice skate, visit all the different vendors and witness tons of Santa’s from around the world. There are even a few rides and a train for the kids to ride. Chicago in the winter is splendid. They don’t call it the windy city for nothing, even though that’s not why Chicago earned that name. 😁

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In our town there are many churches that offer Christmas Eve candlelit services where you can go and sing with others. There’s also a tree lighting where all the different community groups decorate their own tree. It’s so much fun to stand in the park and wait for lights to come on. Then Santa shows up with the parade and you can chat with him. After, everyone gathers at the fire dept. for hot chocolate and cookies. It’s a fun community event.

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At my house, Christmas starts on Thanksgiving day. We put up decorations and watch the parades. It brings in the Christmas spirit and the rest if the month we listen to Christmas music, watch Christmas movies, read Christmas books, make Christmas cookies and do Christmas crafts–pretty much everything Christmas. On Christmas day we open gifts, eat lots of food, and enjoy family time together.

Continue reading “12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge – Day 12 – What’s Christmas Like Where You Live?”

12 Days of Christmas Blogging Challenge – Your Christmas Dinner Menu & Decorations – Silver and Gold or Red and Green?

I came across this wonderful 12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge over at Abbey’s blog threecatsandagirl.  It was originally introduced by abbeycoseattle when she presented it earlier this month. As soon as I saw this, I knew that it would be so much fun. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for to share some Christmas cheer on my blog. I’d like to say thanks to both of these wonderful ladies!

christmas-blogging-challenge

~Rules~

  • Link back to Abbey’s original post here so that way she can see who all is joining and she can follow along.
  • Link back to any one of my posts in the challenge so that way I can follow along too
  • Save the image and join in for the fun!

12 Days of Christmas

Christmas is upon us and I still have 3 days to post on the 12 Days of Christmas Challenge. For days 10 & 11, I’m going to talk about #10 Decorations – silver and gold, or red and green, and also #11 Your Christmas Dinner Menu.


 

#10 – Decorations – silver & gold, or red & green?

I started thinking about this question a few days ago. I realized that our Christmas decorations are pretty much every color under the sun, and yesterday, I shared some of our decorations. I’ve included a link for you here.

I don’t feel like we’ve never gone with a color theme, but we do have more red and green decorations than silver and gold. I truly love decorating with traditional Christmas colors like blue, red, green, gold, and even purple. Gold hasn’t been a favorite, but when I see decorations like these in the following pictures, I want to switch it all up and go with silver and gold forever. These are stunning to me…

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I’d love to have a tree like this one below next year. What do you think? I love the way they incorporated the blue ornaments.

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Continue reading “12 Days of Christmas Blogging Challenge – Your Christmas Dinner Menu & Decorations – Silver and Gold or Red and Green?”

12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge – Day 6 & 7 – Favorite Christmas Cookie and Holiday Tradition

I came across this wonderful 12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge over at Abbey’s blog threecatsandagirl.  It was originally introduced by abbeycoseattle when she presented it earlier this month. As soon as I saw this, I knew that it would be so much fun. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for to share some Christmas cheer on my blog. I’d like to say thanks to both of these wonderful ladies!

christmas-blogging-challenge

~Rules~

  • Link back to Abbey’s original post here so that way she can see who all is joining and she can follow along.
  • Link back to any one of my posts in the challenge so that way I can follow along too
  • Save the image and join in for the fun!

12 Days of Christmas

I totally missed day six yesterday and because I’m a little behind, I decided to combine day #6 & #7 together for this post. I’m going to start with #3 – Favorite Christmas Cookie and then #1 Favorite Holiday Tradition. Tomorrow, I’ll share some of my Christmas decorations!

*Favorite Christmas Cookie*

How can anyone choose their favorite Christmas cookie? There are so many delicious cookies at Christmas time. This year, we made cookies for friends and neighbors. We kept it simple by choosing to make easy sugar cookies, chocolate chip, and of course, baklava! I grew up having baklava for pretty much every holiday due to my Syrian ancestry. My uncle was always the one to make it for get-togethers. Luckily, I expressed interest in the recipe just before he passed away and this is now a tradition to make it every year and sometimes in between. 🙂 I’m so thankful that he shared the recipe with me and think about him every time I make it.

Baklava is made using filo dough sheets and sandwiched in between is a walnut mixture with cinnamon and sugar. You basically butter your pan well and start with a half package of filo on the bottom. You have to butter the sheets well as you layer. You then add a layer of the walnut mixture, then 3-4 more sheets of dough and continue the process until your mixture is gone. Finish with another half package of filo dough and butter well. I like to have some larger pieces and some smaller pieces. Usually I cut diagonals first, then verticals.

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After you cut the whole pan, you bake it around 325 degrees for about an hour. When you take it out, it’s nice and brown.

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Now you add the sauce which is made of honey, sugar, and water.

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It sizzles up after you add the sauce as the pan is super hot. This is my favorite part! Cool it completely before cutting and keep it in the fridge so you can eat it all week long. 🙂

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If you’d like my special family recipe for this baklava, contact me and I’ll send it to you!

Continue reading “12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge – Day 6 & 7 – Favorite Christmas Cookie and Holiday Tradition”

Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa Book Review – Plus How to Make Dorayaki!

Earlier this year I came across a book on Goodreads titled Sweet Bean Paste which was recently translated into English. I added it right away and then received a tip from a Goodreads friend and fellow book blogger Evelina@ Avalinahsbooks that it was available on Edelweiss. Luckily, I was approved for it, because it turned out to be one of my favorite books of the year.

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Sweet Bean Paste

by Durian SukegawaAlison Watts

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The story begins with Sentaro, a man who was previously in jail and is now working in a little confectionary shop to pay off some debt. He makes a Japanese sweet called ‘dorayaki’ every day but puts no heart into it at all. He works in a depressed part of town and feels quite depressed himself. He doesn’t have much appreciation for life while spending most evenings drowning his sorrows with alcohol. He’s always wanted to be a writer, but just doesn’t know what his purpose in life is at this point.

One day, he puts an ad out for a helper. A little old lady named Tokue comes to visit Sentaro and begins to chat about his red bean paste. She wants the job, but Sentaro is hesitant to hire her because there are differences in Tokue’s appearance which make her different than other people. Her fingers are disfigured, but after Sentaro tastes some of her sweet bean paste, he begins to question in his mind how he can hire her without offending customers because her sweet, rich bean paste is like nothing he’s ever tasted, and he has to learn how to make it. As time moves on, Tokue becomes part of the shop and enjoys meeting with some of the customers, until a rumor starts and people become afraid of something they don’t truly understand.

I loved the characters and cherished Tokue’s wisdom. Besides teaching Sentaro how to make the best bean paste, she helps him on his journey of self-discovery and teaches him how to truly listen and to be patient.

“We were born in order to see and listen to the world.”

Reading about Tokue’s harrowing past was difficult, yet the unlikely friendships formed between this small group of people is heartwarming. Each of them has something to give one another and as they connect, Sentaro finally begins to see the light from Tokue’s teachings.

After reading the book, I sat for awhile and reflected on Tokue’s suggestions to Sentaro and found the book very educational because of it–from her messages about listening and seeing to also learning about Hansen’s disease in Japanese history. I absolutely adored reading this wonderful book and appreciated the author’s note at the end which explains the author’s experience with Hansen’s disease and the inspiration for this story. This is a book anyone can enjoy and I highly recommend it. My rating is 5*****

I’d like to thank Edelweiss, the publisher, and the author for sharing a copy of this book with me in exchange for an honest review.

5 Sterne

Find this book on Amazon and Goodreads

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (November 14, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1786071959
  • ISBN-13: 978-1786071958

I was so excited to learn that this book has been adapted to film and it’s available on Netflix. I haven’t watched it yet, but plan to this weekend and I’ll share my thoughts after. Here’s the trailer…


All this reading about Dorayaki and sweet bean paste really sparked my interest. I’d never had dorayaki or even heard of it. I went straight to Amazon and ordered some adzuki beans so that I could experience this Japanese treat with my family.

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What is dorayaki?

Dorayaki (どら焼き, どらやき, 銅鑼焼き, ドラ焼き) is a type of Japanese confection, а red-bean pancake which consists of two small pancake-like patties made from castella wrapped around a filling of sweet Azuki red bean paste.


Making Dorayaki

The first thing I did was soak the beans. I put about a cup of adzuki beans in a jar with water and let them soak overnight. I rinsed them once before and then again in the morning.

 

I decided to make the paste first. I started by putting the beans in the pan with water to cover and brought them to a boil and boiled them for a few minutes. Then I rinsed them completely. I put them back in the pan again with plenty of water to cover and brought them to a boil again. This time, I let them simmer for about an hour until they were soft.

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Once they were soft, I drained the water and blended them up in my Vitamix.

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I blended them until fairly smooth.

Next, I added the paste back to the pan with a heaping half cup of sugar. I stirred it and cooked this down for about five minutes on low heat.

 

I ended up with a nice smooth paste that was thick and not runny.

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Continue reading “Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa Book Review – Plus How to Make Dorayaki!”

Saturday’s Kitchen – October 21st – Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Icing

On the weekends, I barely make it out of the kitchen. I love spending some free time cooking for my family while watching my favorite cooking shows. I thought it would be fun to do a post once in awhile to chat about some of the recipes I made over the weekend and share some of these recipes with you!

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My original plan was to start this on October 21st, and because we ended up hosting an unexpected birthday party for a little girl that we care for that day, the recipe I have to share is my all-time FAVORITE chocolate cake recipe with homemade buttercream icing. Because this was not planned, I used what we had on hand for decorating. It’s also the only recipe I’ll have to share from this particular weekend because we were so busy.

I’ve been talking about sharing this recipe for some time now and here it is! The original recipe is by Robyn Stone from addapinch.com, but I did a little modification on it. Robyn’s original recipe uses expresso power and water. I like to use straight coffee in place of these two ingredients.

Chocolate Cake:

This can be used for cake or cupcakes, whichever you prefer.

Ingredients for 24 cupcakes or a two-layer cake

  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup hot coffee (decaf is fine)
  1. Preheat oven to 325º F.
  2. Place cupcake liners in muffin tin. If making a cake, lightly grease and flour the pan.
  3. Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
  4. Add milk, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add hot coffee to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
  5. Evenly distribute cake batter. Each cupcake liner should be about ½ full, or divide among pans.
  6. Place in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. If making in cake pans, it takes a little longer. Check it with a toothpick to be sure it’s cooked through before removing.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow the cupcakes or cake to cool completely. A nice trick for cake pans is to use a circle of parchment paper at the bottom. Grease the bottom and top. The cake comes out perfect every time.

Buttercream Icing:

Ingredients: Icing for 24 cupcakes or a large cake

  • 2 cups butter (4 sticks), softened
  • 4-8 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted  *tip below – You can use less sugar to your preferred taste and consistency.
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla
  • Dash salt
  • 5-6 tablespoons whole milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half
  1. Place softened butter into the bowl of a stand mixer that has been fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on a medium setting and cream the butter until it is smooth and has lightened in color, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add confectioner’s sugar, ½ a cup at a time. After each cup has been incorporated, turn the mixer onto the highest speed setting and for about 10 seconds to lighten the frosting.
  3. Add vanilla and a pinch of salt and combine until well-incorporated.
  4. Add milk, heavy cream or half-and-half until the frosting has reached the preferred consistency. For a firmer frosting, add more confectioner’s sugar, a ¼ cup at a time. For a softer frosting, add more milk or cream, a tablespoon at a time.

* If you don’t have confectioners sugar, you can make your own in a high-speed blender. I like to use my Vitamix for this. Insert a few cups of regular sugar and blend on high. It will get really hot, so give it a break after 10-15 seconds. Just keep going until you reach the desired consistency. It doesn’t take long at all! If the sugar gets hot, let it sit out on a plate to cool before using. Otherwise, it will melt the butter and ruin the icing. *


 

The birthday girl was turning three years old and she LOVES dresses. I thought it would be cool to make a dress out of cupcakes and adorn it with a crown and wand. I’ve seen them before and it looks fairly easy with just some rosettes on the cupcakes and decorations. Here’s what I did.

First, I lined a board with some purple easter wrapping. It’s all I had and doesn’t really match, but I think it worked out okay. Then, I placed the cupcakes in a dress shape like in the photo below. I did end up removing the cupcake on the bottom left side to leave only five cupcakes on the bottom. My board just wasn’t big enough.

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I wanted the dress to have an ombre look to it. I started with a very dark pink color for the top of the dress. As I moved down, I would remix a little white icing in and pipe some more. Each time, you just add a little bit of white to the dark that you had left and the result is quite amazing! You get a light color every time you mix. Continue until you’ve used all the white icing. This is so much fun.

Make your darkest color and use it. Whatever’s left, squirt it back into the bowl and add some white. Use the new color and repeat the steps above until you’re done. I had just enough icing for the cupcakes, I was literally scraping for more to do the belt and necklace.

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Watch this video to learn how to do a rosette. Lindsay Ann shows how it’s so simple, yet impressive! I ended up using an open star tip, but I’m going with Linsay Ann’s idea of using the closed star tip next time because it’s true that it looks more like an authentic rose.

 

I do wish that I would’ve had pink easter paper instead of purple, but she really didn’t care! She just wanted the tiara and the wand. I went with pinkish icing because it’s her favorite color.

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I didn’t have a necklace to add, so I ended up just some decorations and icing to make a heart necklace. I also didn’t have any chrome decorations, so I used a few silver beads. We just removed those before people started eating them. 🙂 Everything else on the cake was edible.

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The tiara and wand can be purchased at most dollar stores for very cheap. This worked out well for being a last minute cake. We used some happy b-day candles that we had and she was extremely happy with it.

Continue reading “Saturday’s Kitchen – October 21st – Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Icing”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – The Spell of the Horse – Vegan Breakfast Cookies

Hello, everyone! I caught up on most of my reading and made it back this week with a new book and recipe to share with you this morning.

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The recipe I’m sharing is a basic breakfast cookie recipe that I modified to make gluten free. These are delicious, healthy, and so easy to grab on busy mornings. They’re honestly wonderful any time of the day. I have to credit TheMinimalistBaker for this basic recipe even though I modified it. You can see the original unmodified recipe Here.

Ingredients (modified for gluten free +) – Makes about 18

  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (gluten-free)
  • 1/2 cup gluten free flour (coconut, arrowroot)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 Tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 Tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tbsp lightly chopped walnuts
  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free semisweet or dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C).
  2. In a large bowl or mixer, mash the bananas, almond butter, pumpkin puree, oil, and honey until it’s a fairly smooth batter. A mixer works perfectly.
  3. Stir in vanilla, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  4. Add oats, almond meal, and flour. Mix well.
  5. Add chocolate chips, cranberries, and walnuts. Stir until well combined.
  6. Drop cookies by large scoop size on a baking sheet and press down slightly to flatten.
  7. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until the cookies are slightly golden brown.
  8. Rest on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Store in an air-tight container to keep fresh for up to 5 days.

Here’s how I made them: I doubled the recipe…

I make my own almond meal. In the processor, it’s so easy. Add in your almonds. About a cup or so.

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Process on high until a meal has formed. It takes about 1 minute.

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This is what I love about this Cuisinart processor. You can use the two top plastic inserts and the full processor remains clean.

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Another tip is to buy your nuts in bulk and keep them in the freezer. Then you’ll always have them when you need them. I just store mine in gallon freezer bags.

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Chop up about 3-4 Tbsp of Walnuts

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I’m using this local nut butter company in Michigan. This stuff is delicious, or you can make your own in the processor the same way you do the meal. It just takes about 12-15 minutes to make. If you have a Vitamix, you can make nut butters in that as well.

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Add in your honey, bananas, pumpkin, and coconut oil. If you’re using a mixer like a Kitchenaid, you don’t need to mash the bananas first.

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Whip it up for a minute until everything is blended and smooth.

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 Add in the vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix it well.

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Now we’re going to add in the flour. I went gluten free on this recipe using a 50/50 mix of arrowroot and coconut flour. Add it in the bowl.

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Coconut flour is very fibrous and can be tricky. Doing a 50/50 mix with another gluten free flour does the trick.

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We’re going to add the flours in the bowl with our almond meal and oats.

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Mix it in good.

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The last ingredients are dark/dairy free chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and walnuts. Mix that up and we’re ready to form the cookies.

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I’m using a regular ice cream scoop to make the cookies very large.

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Evenly space them, press them a little flat, and bake for about 17 minutes.

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These are so delicious.

Crispy on the outside while soft on the inside.

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They are so moist and aren’t dry at all!

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With these breakfast cookies, I’m having a favorite tea by Pukka called “Womankind.” The cranberry, rose, and vanilla flavor goes well with these cookies. If you’d like to see my previous post on brewing perfect tea, click HERE.

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Hope you enjoy!

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Continue for this week’s book!

Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – The Spell of the Horse – Vegan Breakfast Cookies”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Blueberry Pancakes – The lost Boys Vol. 1 – The White Raven

Happy Wednesday! I have a delicious breakfast recipe for you all today and a few new books to share. I woke up this morning and had a taste for blueberry pancakes!

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So the original recipe is titled “Fluffy Pancakes” and it’s from Allrecipes.com. I’m making this recipe exactly how it’s listed below, except I’m tripling the recipe ingredients to cook for the eight people in my house. The original recipe you see below serves four.

Fluffy Pancakes:

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • cooking spray

Directions

  1. Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to “sour”.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into “soured” milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.

Sausage:

I’m using this all natural sausage I picked up from Costco. It’s made by Jones Dairy Farm. We’ve been buying this sausage for years and it’s the only link I like to buy because it’s nitrate and msg free. I’m not big on eating meat, but my family is, and I like to pay attention to the ingredients I’m feeding them as well. The ingredients are pork, water, salt, and spices. There are no antibiotics or hormones and it’s pork raised on a vegetarian diet. This company makes chicken and turkey sausage too, which is equally delicious. You can click the link above to visit their website.

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This sausage is brown and serve. I just add it to my preheated cast iron pan.

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Cook them on medium heat until they’re browned and cooked through.

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For the pancakes…

I like to make my pancake batter right in my Vitamix because there’s less mess, it’s easy to mix, and it’s simple to pour out the batter.

First, I add the milk and vinegar and let it sit for a few minutes to sour up.

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After 2 or 3 minutes, it’s ready. I added in the eggs and melted butter.

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Turn it on low and start adding all your dry ingredients.

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Turn it up to medium or so to get a nice thick batter. You don’t need to mix it much.

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Grease and heat your pan over medium heat. Pour the batter evenly, roughly 1/4 cup at a time into the pan. Immediately add the blueberries.

 

You can even use chocolate chips, nuts, or other fruits.

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Cook lightly on each side until cooked through.

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I served ours with butter, syrup, and sausage.

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Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Blueberry Pancakes – The lost Boys Vol. 1 – The White Raven”

Pup Treats: Homemade Chicken Liver Brownies For Your Pups!

Hello friends! I’m excited to share this wonderful homemade dog treat recipe with you today! I’ve been making this one for years and my dogs always love them. They’re super easy to make and all natural!

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in the store buying dog treats and the treats that I want to buy include ingredients I don’t want to feed my dog. Not only that, they are expensive. This recipe is a great alternative to buying store treats and it’s quite versatile. They’re cheap to make and you can switch up the ingredients if you’d like by using beef liver or even peanut butter.

Homemade Chicken Liver Brownies

Ingredients:

  • Roughly 5 cups of oat flour
  • 1 Container of Chicken Livers – about 2 1/2 cups
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • Roughly 1/4 cup cheese (Parmesan or Mozzarella, whatever you have on hand)
  • 2 TB Olive Oil

Continue reading “Pup Treats: Homemade Chicken Liver Brownies For Your Pups!”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Unicorn in the Barn – See What I have Done – Dairy Free Biscuits & Gravy

Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope everyone is having a wonderful week so far. I have two new books to share and an interesting recipe for dairy free biscuits and gravy that’s quite delicious! 25-Inspiring-Happy-Wednesday-Quotes-To-Share-6338-9.jpg

This is a recipe that I can eat any time of the day or night. I’ve even made biscuits & Gravy for dinner recently and it’s always so delicious!

Let’s get started…

I learned how to make biscuits & Gravy from my Stepmother Laurie. Just a few weeks before she passed away, she told me she wanted to show me how to make her biscuits and gravy recipe so that I would always know how. I’ve made this recipe ever since and my family loves it. I’m going to give you both recipe versions so that you can choose which one you’d like to try.

Laurie’s Biscuits & Gravy Recipe

My Stepmom loved using Grand’s Butter Tastin’ Biscuits with her gravy. Her gravy recipe is as follows:

1 – TB Bacon Lard

1 tube of hot ground sausage

1 tube of regular ground sausage

1 cup of whole milk

1/2 cup of flour

Salt and Pepper

Additional milk for thickening

So, my version of the recipe is made the same way as Laurie’s biscuits & gravy, but using almond milk. I used to make this with traditional cow’s milk, and in my opinion, it does taste best with real whole milk and even a splash of cream. I’m always searching for dairy free versions when it comes to cooking because as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not supposed to be eating dairy and do much better without it.

My dairy free version…

Ingredients:

My favorite biscuit recipe which you will find HERE. (Omit the butter and use Crisco for dairy free! Also use almond milk which works great)

1 TB oil or lard – whichever you like

2 tubes of ground sausage of your choice (I like Farmland MSG Free)

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1 cup of almond milk (or milk of your choice)

1/2 cup of flour

Salt, pepper, and a dash of ground cayenne pepper to taste (Farmland doesn’t make hot sausage that I can find so I use a little dash of cayenne pepper)

Additional milk to use with thickening

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Directions: 

Heat your pan to medium and begin breaking up the sausage while frying until cooked through. I love using cast iron for this…

As the sausage is frying, prepare your milk by adding it to a jar or bowl. I like to shake my milk and flour in a jar because it makes it easy. You can also whisk it.

1 Cup of Milk

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1/2 Cup of Flour

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Shake it up real good!

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Once the sausage is cooked through – Drain the fat

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Now you’re ready to add your milk mixture to your drained sausage over medium heat. Pour it in and start stirring it up until it gets thick which is almost instantly.

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Add in more milk. I don’t measure on this. I just add a little slowly over time until I get to the desired thickness.

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Just keep stirring and adding in small amounts of milk over high heat. Once it starts to boil turn it down to a simmer. Don’t forget to add in your spices!

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This is why I love cast iron – It’s naturally non-stick as you can see in the picture below.

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After simmering for roughly 10-15 minutes, it’s done.

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Serve with your fresh biscuits!

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Delicious!

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Continue reading for this week’s books!

Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Unicorn in the Barn – See What I have Done – Dairy Free Biscuits & Gravy”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Orange Sweet Potato Smoothie – The Girl in the Tower (The Bear and the Nightingale #2)

I have to apologize for posting so late this morning, but I had my entire post typed up and ready to go, posted it, and there was nothing on the post. I’ve never had that happen before, but let’s try again!

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I’m super excited to share a new smoothie recipe and a new book this week! I had a bunch of Japanese sweet potatoes and garnet yams that needed to be used and decided to go with an orange sweet potato smoothie for breakfast. This recipe is great anytime of year, but reminds me of fall which is approaching at an alarming rate. No complaints here!

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Why sweet potatoes? 

  • They’re super cheap
  • High in vitamins A, B6, and C
  • They contain potassium and magnesium
  • They boost your immune system
  • Great for the skin
  • They taste great!

Here’s what I did below…

Ingredients:

1/2 cup almond milk

1 Japanese Sweet Potato (super sweet and white inside!)

2 Garnet Yams

1 banana (optional, but you can barely taste it)

1 Orange

1/4+ tsp of cinnamon

1/4+ tsp of ground ginger

1 TB of Honey or syrup of your choice

1 cup of ice – If you’re using frozen ingredients, omit the ice

Directions:

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Put the sweet potatoes in a pan with some water. The water doesn’t need to cover the potatoes. Bring it to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes.

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When they’re done, take them out and peel them. The peeling comes right off.

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I like to cut them up into chunks and cool them. In the winter, I’ll put them in hot. There’s nothing better than a warm smoothie like this in the winter…If you’d like to freeze a bunch of these, just lay them out on a cookie sheet and freeze for about 4-5 hours. Take them out and store them in a freezer bag for later use. This is super convenient!

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Prepare your orange – Leave on as much pith as you can as it’s FULL of vitamin C and adds more fiber. This works best with a sharp knife and mine is a tad dull.

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After the sweet potatoes have cooled, put everything in the blender in the order listed. It’s important to load it in the order listed by starting with liquid, adding the foods, and then topping off with ice. It makes the blending go very smooth without the use of a tamper stick.

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Blend starting on low, and increasing to high. Here’s a video of me making this smoothie this morning. I love my Vitamix because it tears through anything and makes the smoothest smoothies ever.

It’s worth every penny! It’s so easy to stay healthy when you have the right tools…

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Add in your chia seeds and enjoy!

 

Continue reading for this week’s books!

Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Orange Sweet Potato Smoothie – The Girl in the Tower (The Bear and the Nightingale #2)”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Egg Muffin Cups – Ready Player One – The Pull and Kick Murder

 

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Good morning everyone! I’m excited to share a new breakfast recipe and two new books that I’m reading this week. Last week my health took a little turn on me and I’m sort of catching up this week with posts, tags, and awards. I hope you’ll be pleased with this week’s post!

I decided to make something fairly easy this morning. I ended up with a ton of eggs and thought this recipe would help use them up. Let’s get started!

Egg Muffin Cups

Ingredients to make 24 muffin cups – Easy to cut the recipe down to half if this is too many. 

1 Pound of bulk sausage of your choice (I like farmland sausage because it’s MSG free)

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24 Eggs

Roughly 2 1/2 cups of finely chopped onion and bell pepper (I used green & red)

1/2 tsp of salt – less if your sausage is heavily salted

3/4 tsp pepper

1 heaping cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. I used convection because I’m cooking two trays and want them to be evenly cooked. Grease your pans or add liners.

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Cook your sausage in a skillet. Break up the sausage into small little chunks. While the sausage is cooking you can chop up your onion and pepper and prepare the cheese and spices. Drain the sausage.

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Beat all the eggs in a bowl and then add everything else in.

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Measure out into the muffin cups. I used a ladle and left about a half inch space from the top of the pan.

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Bake for 22-25 minutes in the oven, or until solid and can be removed whole.

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Take them out and let them cool just for a few minutes. Remove and serve.

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I would recommend using liners with a square pan as a few of mine were difficult to remove, even after spraying.

What I love about these is that you can add what you want to. I was thinking next time I might add in some tomato. You can omit the sausage and add something else. Experiment with the ingredients you like.

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Garnish if preferred. I used some chopped green onion and fresh cracked pepper.

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Super simple and yummy!

Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Egg Muffin Cups – Ready Player One – The Pull and Kick Murder”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Warm Rice Cereal – Please Excuse This Poem

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This week I’m playing catch up with my reading due to the 4th of July holiday and the fact that I started reading an epic fantasy last week that demanded my full attention. So, I only have one ‘new’ book to share with you that I just started a few days ago. Let’s get to the breakfast first.

I’m excited to share with you an amazingly easy breakfast cereal that can be partially prepared the night before. It’s a simple rice cereal recipe and reminds me of my childhood. As a child, my grandfather would occasionally take us to this amazing Greek restaurant that was a hop, skip, and a jump from our home. I loved that restaurant because after my meal I knew that I was going to get a delicious cup of rice pudding afterward. It was always served with real cream and an extra dollop of whipped cream on top. I literally think this restaurant is where my addiction to rice pudding started. I’ve made rice pudding at home since, and this breakfast cereal is similar in taste, but fairly healthy.

Warm Rice Cereal –

This is actually a quite common recipe. What makes it a little different for me now is that I use almond milk with it and I prepare it in my Vitaclay cooker the night before. Here’s my recipe…

Ingredients:

1 cup of rice (I used Jasmine)

1 1/2 to 2 cups of almond milk (or cow’s milk)

1 – 2 TB Butter (Make it dairy free by using oil)

1/8 Cup Honey (Use 1/4 cup sugar if you don’t have honey)

A few dashes of cinnamon

You can make this in a pan very easily just like rice. I used my Vitaclay. I’m also doubling the recipe to feed more people. I added all the ingredients in and stirred.

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I used the regular RICE cooking mode, covered it, and set the clock to start at 5am. This way I could wake up and breakfast would already be waiting for everyone. That’s always nice!

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Here’s what it looked like this morning after cooking.

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I seemed to be a little on the dry side, so I added a little more almond milk and stirred it up.

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After adding to my bowl, I added some fresh organic cherries with a little extra almond milk added and an extra dash of cinnamon. It came out perfect and it’s a very filling breakfast!

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Continue for this week’s books…

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What To Do With All Those Cucumbers and Zucchini!

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It’s normally this time of year in July that we have way too many cucumbers and zucchini. I love sharing with the people who live in my area, but most of them have their own gardens and they are sharing some of the same harvests with me. Every year I tell myself to cut down on the number of plants, but I’ve found multiple ways to use these two veggies up quickly. Most of the ways I use are raw, but there are a few of my favorite canning recipes I do yearly included here as well.

First, I took a trip out to the garden this morning to pick some cucumbers and a few zucchini. I had to pause to take a video because all the birds sounded so beautiful this morning. The bees were flying around and pollinating all the flowers.

It’s wonderful to be in nature and to reconnect with our natural environment. It’s too easy to become distanced from nature with our busy lives. All it takes is a trip outside to be grounded again. Even if you’re in the city, you can stop and look up at the sky and just take a deep breath and remind yourself how lucky we are to have this beautiful home we call Earth.

Cucumber Salad:

This is a simple salad that uses up a good number of cucumbers quickly. It’s not a super healthy recipe as it does contain mayonnaise, but what you’ll notice is that much of the dressing is left in the bottom of the bowl after all the cucumbers are gone and you’ll need to add more. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

5 good size cucumbers

1 cup of mayonnaise

4 tsp. Vinegar

1/4 cup sugar or 1/8 cup honey

1/2 tsp. Dried Dill weed

1/2 tsp. Seasoned salt

Make the dressing first in a large bowl. Mix up all ingredients minus the cucumbers until a nice dressing is made.

Slice the cucumbers and stir them in. It’s that simple!

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There’s always dressing left in the bottom, so cut a few more cucumbers afterwards and add them in if you need to. You can also store the dressing in the fridge for later. This is best eaten fresh when the cucumbers are crunchy. Yum!

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Now if you want, you can use a  processor to slice the cucumbers. It’s not necessary, but nice if you’re making a huge batch.

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Set the blade to the thickest slicing.

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Pile in the cucumbers by standing them straight up, and push them down through the blade as it’s turning.

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Perfectly sliced cucumbers!

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If you’re interested in buying a processor, I would recommend the Cuisinart 14 Cup Processor.  It’s a real workhorse and has worked well for me for years. I’ve even made nut butters in it. You get a shredding tool, slicing tool, and more.

Sometimes if the cucumbers are really large, you can slice them again. It really doesn’t matter.

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Continue for more recipes!

Continue reading “What To Do With All Those Cucumbers and Zucchini!”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Syrian Cooking

Today I have a very strange breakfast to share with you and some great books! For breakfast today, I’m having stuffed grape leaves. It’s not really a breakfast food, but I eat these anytime. I’m Syrian from my grandfather’s side and stuffed grape leaves are something I grew up eating. When grape leaves are in season I try to make as many as I can because they’re fresh and taste delicious. I was always told not to cut leaves after July 4th because they are tougher. I have cooked them after this point, but they’re so much better in June. I made these yesterday and will eat them a few more times throughout the next few days. I might only get one more cutting.

Orlando1lbJar_large.jpegAs a child I never really enjoyed going out to pick grape leaves. I grew up in the city and when it was time to pick leaves we would go out and do some searching, often finding good vines on the side of roads. There was a huge area that would grow right on the edge wall of our church parking lot. I always thought this was ironic! If you can’t find them fresh, you can buy them in a jar. I’ve done this many times and they taste great.

When I moved to the country, I couldn’t understand why we didn’t have any grape leaves growing in our woods. I knew so many people around our area who would have them growing up a single tree on their properties and I didn’t have one vine. I started looking online to see if I could buy some seeds. I couldn’t find anything. Then one day while I was walking around outside, I found this vine growing up alongside this small dead tree. I couldn’t believe it. They were small and new, but the following year they would be perfect, and they were wonderful and huge that following year. As time has gone by, there are more grapevines growing all over around my house. I think this is the coolest thing. They come up every year and I look forward to it. Here’s a picture of the first vine. It’s growing beautifully on this dead tree. I think it’s so beautiful the way they grow up and then cascade down again.

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Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Syrian Cooking”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book

I have two awesome recipes to share with you today along with two great books I’m reading this week. First, let’s get started on the breakfast!

It’s strawberry season and one of the reasons I love June so much! This will be a two part process because I’m showing you how I make my fresh homemade strawberry jam. Here’s my recipe:

Ingredients:

9 cups of whole strawberries – Remove tops and rinse – Here’s my video of my favorite tool for topping strawberries! Watch how fast it works…

7 cups of sugar

2 packages fruit pectin ( I use two packages, but you can try one for a thinner jam)

4-5 pint size jars with lids and caps

Equipment: Canner with lid, jar lifter, cooling rack, canning funnel

 

Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week. I’m excited to share Wednesday’s breakfast and reads with you all!

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This morning was a bit chilly and I really had a taste for oatmeal. I know, it sounds boring, but you might actually like this recipe! It’s quite good and a healthy start to your day.

I have to admit that the way I used to make this recipe isn’t the way I make it anymore. I’ve added the original ingredients below in parentheses.

Ingredients: Serves 3-4

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3 1/2 cups almond milk (cow’s milk preferred in original recipe)
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • TB of Brown Sugar
  • Original recipe calls for 1 TB of butter (omitted in my version)
  • Extra milk for serving

Directions:

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Add oats and milk to a pan with a dash of salt.

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Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 5 minutes. The oats will start to thicken, so at this point add the raisins and simmer for a few more minutes. Stir a few times.

After simmering, I like to shut off the heat and let it sit for about 10 minutes. The raisins will get nice and plump and the oats will be very creamy.

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Add your brown sugar to the bowl and butter if you’re using it.

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Stir it all up in your bowl and add more milk if desired. Sprinkle on your cinnamon and your good to go. It’s a fairly easy and healthy recipe! It does taste better with butter and cows milk, but without the dairy, it’s still delicious.

 


This week’s reads:

I finished Luke Narlee’s book The Appointment which I’ll review later today. I started two new books and so far I like them both. 

First, let’s start with Tuesday’s Promise. I reviewed two other books about Tuesday and Luis Carlos Montalván last week. I couldn’t wait to get Tuesday’s promise and I also picked up Tuesday Takes Me There which I’ll review later this week as well. Their story has really touched me and I’m so glad to have learned about these two. You can see my original post on those books HERE. Here’s the blurb on this one…

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Blurb: Luis and Tuesday are winning hearts again. With his captivating New York Times bestseller Until Tuesday, Iraq War veteran Luis Carlos Montalván furthered America’s conversation about the need to care for first responders suffering from the effects of PTSD, especially highlighting the near-miraculous benefit of service dog companionship.

Now, in this spectacular follow-up, Luis and Tuesday rescue a forgotten Tuskegee airman, battle obstinate VA bureaucrats and bring solace for troubled war heroes coast-to-coast. All this, while Luis’ personal battle intensifies; while Tuesday has helped him make immense mental strides, the chronic pain of his injuries threaten to leave him wheelchair-bound. In a grave decision, Luis opts to amputate his leg, and learn how to live with a prosthetic.

As Luis regains his athleticism, 10-year-old Tuesday enters new phase in life; due to his growing age he will soon need to retire. Together, these two friends begin the tender process of welcoming a new puppy into their pack. SINCE TUESDAY is an inspiring story with an unforgettable message about love, service, and teamwork.

I had no clue what was in store in this follow-up to Until Tuesday. I’m learning a lot more about both Tuesday and Luis and the book is even more heartbreaking than the first. I’ll review later this week. 

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The Immune System Recovery Plan by Susan Blum, M.D., M.P.H. & Saturday’s Special -Stew-

A few years ago I started doing a ton of research on how I could stop my immune system from killing me. I wound up purchasing a myriad of books ranging from cookbooks to self-help books and even books by authors telling their own stories on how they cured themselves. I was on a mission and came across some really great books that helped me get my mind in order. I will have a post in the future which outlines everything that I’ve done to keep myself healthy. For now, you can read about one of my favorite books that I keep on my kitchen shelf.

The Immune System Recovery Plan by Susan Blum, M.D.,M.P.H. is the one I’ll be covering today. You can see my review below as well as my favorite recipe from the book which I make all the time.

The Immune System Recovery Plan by Susan Blum is one of a myriad of books I purchased after I was diagnosed with not one, but two serious autoimmune disorders. I was on a mission to cure myself and this book was just one of my tools.

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The book is a doctor’s 4-step plan to overcome autoimmune disease. The author, Susan Blume, was suffering from an autoimmune disease and shares with readers what she believes are the answers to living a healthy life after autoimmune disease.

The four step plan includes: 

  • Using food as medicine – I believe this is a proven method in my own case. The author offers self assessments for foods that can trigger issues with our bodies and helps create a plan for discovering these food sensitivities. She also covers the “good stuff” and highlights a healthy diet by telling readers what they should eat with recipes included.
  • Understanding the stress connection – It’s no surprise that in our world, people are stressed. It’s known to cause scads of issues including some less serious symptoms like fatigue to more serious diseases like autoimmune disease and cancers. The key is removing the inflammation from our bodies by destressing our lives, something many people could benefit from. How stressed are you? Take the self assessment to find out your stress number. This section includes some recipes to help counteract stress as well.
  • Healing your gut – This section covers the importance of intestinal bacteria and what happens when your flora is out of order. She covers leaky gut and how we can heal our digestive tracts. There are more self assessments and a treatment program included with recipes.
  • Supporting your liver – In this section you will learn all about toxins and how our livers simply can’t keep up with the amount of toxins we ingest everyday from our skin, breathing, eating and drinking. The author covers some of the most problematic toxins and discusses how to remove them from our bodies. Another self-assessment is offered which will help you discover if you’re dealing with toxic overload.

This book, in my opinion, would be good for anyone suffering disease in general. The steps that she outlines including healing the gut and supporting the liver can make anyone feel better and will also help to ward off disease before it strikes. I love most of the recipes in the book and use them on a regular basis. My rating on this one is:

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Now for my favorite recipe in the book…

Continue reading “The Immune System Recovery Plan by Susan Blum, M.D., M.P.H. & Saturday’s Special -Stew-“

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book

I’m back on track this week and have an awesome smoothie recipe for you! This is one that I’ve been making for years and comes from one of my favorite raw food advocates, Paul Nison. You can find him on Goodreads by clicking HERE. He’s written a handful of books. The one I’ve read is:

The Raw Life: Becoming Natural in an Unnatural World

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-Click the cover to add to Goodreads-

Blurb: This Book will help you learn about health and to achieve your goals. It will simply teach you the way to get the results you desire with the raw food diet. It’s an easy book to understand why and how to eat with simple recipes to help you on your path. Many people who start out on a raw food diet have started with this book. Others who have been eating a raw diet for many years love the interviews in this book with long term raw fooders.


Bahini Smoothie – This is how I make it…

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 Bananas peeled – Frozen Bananas are best!
  • 1/4 cup Tahini
  • 1-2 TB Coconut butter or manna – (flaked coconut works too)
  • 1-2 TB Raw Honey
  • Dash of salt – Himalayan or a salt with minerals preferred
  • Dash of Bee Pollen (optional)
  • 1 TB Barleymax Powder (optional – You can use any ‘green’ powder or fresh greens) I used a tsp of Moringa
  • 1 cup of ice or more depending on how much you want. If you use frozen bananas, you barely need any ice at all.
  • Paul uses a good amount of water, I only use about a half cup or so. I like my smoothies thicker, if you want it thinner, just add more water.

You can watch Paul make the smoothie in this video, or scroll down to see mine…

This will make roughly 40 ounces or so. 


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-Add all the ingredients in the order listed to the blender-

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-Start blending slow and then increase to high speed-

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-Blend until smooth-

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-I added in some chia seeds as well-

-Just be sure to stir the chia seeds in and they’ll become gelatinous-  Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book

Today for breakfast I made chocolate chunk banana nut bread. It’s not a healthy version or anything, but so delicious. It’s nice to have a treat once in a while. Here’s the recipe below if you’re interested in trying it. It turned out perfect!

I started by using a basic recipe that I love in my trusty All Recipes cookbook called “Banana Banana Bread.”

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The recipe above is delicious the way it is, but I modified the recipe today. Here’s what I did. The ingredients are all the same except for:

  • Instead of butter I substituted coconut oil
  • Added a Tablespoon of Raw Honey (optional)
  • 1 tsp of added vanilla extract
  • Added an extra 1/4 cup of flour
  • Added in roughly 3/4 cup nuts (walnuts & almonds)
  • Added in some Hershey’s chocolate chunks. Roughly 1 1/2 full size candy bars chopped up

It turned out very well. Here’s how I put it together:

Mash up the banana. I used my KitchenAid, but you can easily mash them with a fork or other utensil.

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Add in the vanilla, eggs, brown sugar, 1 TB Raw honey (optional), and coconut oil. Mix until combined. Then, add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

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Chop up the chocolate into chunks. Chop the nuts as well by using a processor or by hand. Here’s a tip from Martha Stewart- use two knives and it helps to keep the nuts stable, plus gets the job done faster. Thanks, Martha!

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Add in the nuts and chocolate chunks. Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book”