What We Miss When We Move

For four years I lived in Anchorage Alaska. Yes, I was a short timer. When I first moved there I thought I would live there forever! Then winter happened! In October! And I found that cold weather makes me angry. If it is below zero, I hate you. I’m sorry, I don’t know you, but I hate everything and everyone when I am cold. It was horrible. I don’t like being angry. I like to be a nice person. Then I met a gorgeous fighter pilot and I didn’t have to worry about moving again. The Air Force decided when and where I was going to move. Easy! No more decisions.

There were times when Alaska was magical. And maybe it’s just that I’m nice and warm in my house in Idaho, but sometimes I miss Alaska. I would like to go ice-fishing again, ice skating on a pond, see the Northern Lights, go to Charlie’s Bakery. Ah, Charlie’s Bakery. Crazy craziness, only in Alaska. They have the most beautiful cakes and pastries, French baguettes, opera bars – glorious, yummy sandwiches and the best dim sum in town. One side of the menu is soups and sandwiches and the other side is traditional Chinese food. Sometimes it was so hard to decide if I wanted a sandwich or dumplings. I’m getting so hungry! One thing I always had was a coconut bun. So good. Probably full of dairy. Now I’m sad. Even if I go back to Anchorage I won’t be able to have a bun.

Coconut buns are a traditional item found in Chinese bakeries and not so traditional Alaskan bakeries. They take some time to make, with all the kneading and rising. I think they are worth the trouble, at least every other year.

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Dairy-Free Coconut Buns

1/3 cup white sugar
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk beverage (not canned)
1/4 cup dairy free margarine
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour, or more if needed

Filling:
1/4 cup dairy free margarine
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup soy milk powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup finely grated coconut

Directions

  1. Place 1/3 cup sugar and milk in a small saucepan, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add 1/4 cup margarine, and gently warm the mixture until the margarine melts and the mixture is warm but not hot (no warmer than about 100 degrees F (40 degrees C). In a large bowl, stir together the yeast with 2 1/2 cups flour until well blended, and pour the milk mixture into the flour-yeast mixture. Stir in 1 beaten egg, and mix until the mixture forms a sticky, wet dough.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and knead for about 10 minutes, gradually kneading in 1 cup of additional flour or as needed to make a smooth, elastic dough. Form the dough into a round ball, place into an oiled bowl, and turn the dough around in the bowl a few times to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with a cloth, and allow dough to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. I turned my oven to warm, turned it off and put the dough in to rise.
  3. Cream 1/4 cup margarine with 1/2 cup of sugar in a bowl until the mixture is light and fluffy, and stir in dry milk powder, 1/2 cup flour, beaten egg and the coconut until the mixture is smooth and well blended. Set the filling aside.
  4. Working on a floured surface, punch down the dough, and cut into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece into 8 equal-sized pieces (16 pieces total). Form each piece into an oblong bun, and flatten the bun with a floured rolling-pin or your fingers. Scoop up about 1 tablespoon of filling with a spoon, and place in the center of a bun. Pull and pinch the edges of the dough together to enclose the filling in the bun*. Repeat with all dough pieces, and place the filled buns, seam sides down, onto the prepared baking sheets. Cover the buns with a cloth, and allow to rise in a warm place 1 hour.
  5. Pre-heat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until the buns are golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.

*I flattened out the filling and then rolled the dough back over the filling so that there was coconut throughout the roll. (I should have taken a picture of that)

Also, the filling was sticky,really sticky.

The only thing I want to work on is the filling. I think the soy milk powder is too rich. I don’t care enough to make a yeast dough again right away though. And my kids weren’t impressed with these so I’ll be eating them all by myself. Maybe they freeze…who am I kidding? I’m sure I’ll eat them without much of a problem.

My Favorite Granola

I started with the Almond Joy Granola from Minimalist Baker, but I rarely follow recipes. I keep going to the Minimalist Baker recipe and then I try to remember the changes I have made. It can be a bit confusing and not terribly efficient. So, I will try to write my recipe here in the hopes that next time I make granola I will be able to find the recipe I actually use.


My Favorite Granola

2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup 9 grain flakes (Azure Standard)
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup coconut chips (large flakes, Azure Standard)
3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey

  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 340°.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients together in large bowl.
  3. Heat coconut oil, peanut butter and honey in microwave safe bowl (1 min high) or heat on stove, until melted. Stir to combine. Caution! the honey will be HOT! Once the honey is melted it will be hot enough to melt the other ingredients.
  4. Pour melted mixture over dry oat mixture and stir until all dry ingredients are moistened.
  5. Spread on cookie sheet in thin layer.
  6. Bake for 11 minutes. Stir and bake for another 11 minutes (20-25 minutes in total)
  7. When the granola is browned remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet.
  8. Once cooled, break apart large pieces and use parchment like a funnel to pour granola into airtight container.20190109_082836.jpg

I usually top each bowl with a small handful of chocolate chips. I don’t add them to the container because 1. they all fall to the bottom 2. I don’t want my kids asking for granola so they can pick out all the chocolate chips 3. this way I can use the granola in a fruit parfait and not pick out chocolate chips 4. more chocolate when you want it and none when you don’t. (I think AA Milne would be proud of that sentence.)

*Note to self: Make when Josh is out of town or he may eat all of it straight from the container.

Are We Done Here?

Does anyone even read blogs anymore? I haven’t followed anyone for years. This blog is rather like my MySpace account. Does MySpace even exist anymore? I tried to stop using FB because it’s for old people, but I really didn’t get into twitter or instagram. I’m pretty sure I’m old. Anyway I read a fluffy little novel about a girl fighting for an IT job with a blog: whoever had the most followers won the job. Crazy how fast our world changes. Eh, well, now my blog can be my personal diary. Not that I ever had over 30 followers anyway.

I have been having a bit of a hard time remembering where I have certain recipes. It seems like I get into ruts in my cooking. I’ll cook one recipe several times in a matter of months and then I never make it again. Or I want to make it again the next year and have no idea where the recipe can be found. How do I tackle this problem? My mother had a recipe card with a list of where to find her favorite recipes. I started this blog so I could gather all my recipes in one place. I’ve gotten a bit lost and the last few years have barely written anything. Back to it then!

Easy Cream Cheese Danish 

2 cans refrigerated crescent dough sheets
1 (8oz) tub of Tofutti cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Tofutti sour cream

1 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon almond milk
1 tablespoon dairy free butter

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line 9×13 pan with parchment paper.
  2. Roll out  one dough sheet and lightly press into pan.
  3. Mix together cream cheese, lemon juice, sugar, vanilla, and sour cream. Spread filling evenly over dough.
  4. Roll out second dough sheet and lay on top of filling.
  5. Bake for 22-27 minutes, until golden brown.
  6. Stir milk into powdered sugar and margarine to make a glaze. Drizzle over slightly cooled pastry.

*optional: top with strawberry jam

 

Did you know that Pillsbury Crescent Rolls are dairy free? Chock-full of chemicals I can’t even pronounce, but dairy free! YES!

 

 

Easy Ramen Broth

This post is for my kids. They love ramen noodles. They also love having me make it for them. Well, no more. They are old enough to boil water, they are old enough to make their own ramen. But “I don’t like the seasoning packet” whines one child. “Can’t you make the broth for me?” whines the second child. I will write down the “recipe” and they can look it up next time they want ramen. I love them so much! I want them to have some life skills.

 

EASY Ramen Broth

2 Cups water
1 tsp chicken flavored broth (powder, Azure Standard)
1 tablespoon shoyu (Kikkoman soy sauce)
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ginger

Bring to a boil and add noodles.

I love you, my darlings!

Easy Hummus

I told a couple of my friends that my hummus recipe was on my blog, but… I can’t find it. If I can’t find it, they probably can’t find it. Also, it might not be here at all.

 

Hummus

adapted from the Vitamix cookbook

15 oz can of garbanzo beans with liquid
15 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained
1/8 – 1/2 tsp granulated garlic, to taste
1 tsp cumin
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp olive oil
salt to taste
paprika

Put the two can of beans in Vitamix or food processor. Blend into a chunky paste. Add seasonings, and lemon juice, blend until smooth. Drizzle in olive oil while finishing up blending. Garnish with olive oil, cumin and paprika.

95% Plant Powered

It is my goal for my diet to be 95% plant based. The last time I changed to a plant based diet I was focused on eliminating animal protein. This time I want to focus on what I am eating. I like to read/watch Chris Wark occasionally. And something he said stuck in my brain. Totally paraphrasing “If you are eating 10-15 servings of fruit and veggies everyday, you don’t have room for junk.” So, instead of trying to find vegan substitutes for meat, I am going to enjoy eating fresh fruits and vegetables. At every meal I want to have 3 to 5 servings of fruit and veggies. Green smoothies for breakfast. Salads for lunch. What have I been eating for dinner? Seriously, I should think about that.  Okay, Monday I made burgers, used a Minimalist Baker recipe (here), Tuesday I made chili, and Wednesday we had leftovers. Last week I made my husband halibut cakes and I had zucchini patties. I also did a mixed grill over the weekend. Chicken, shrimp and sausages for the meat eaters and zucchini, bell peppers, onions and beets for me. I ate those veggies on top of couscous. Writing about all this food is making me hungry! My green smoothies is wearing thin. I better think about a salad for lunch.

Yummy Salad

2 cups leaf lettuce
1 cup baby greens
1/4 cup shredded red cabbage
1/4 cup leftover brown rice
1 leftover grilled beet (pickled works too!)
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons almonds roughly chopped (pick a flavor for more fun! I like smoked almonds)

I really hope I can keep this up. So, 95% means I’m going to focus on plant based foods, but occasionally I will eat fish, eggs, maybe some chicken. I will have turkey on Thanksgiving. Can I do this until Thanksgiving? Yes! Good attitude! Eating salad can get old after awhile, but so can being unhealthy and feeling miserable.

Vegan Fajitas

I am making an effort to eat more veggies. So far the only meals I have come up with are stir fry and fajitas. I can cram a ton of veggies into stir fry and my kids will eat them all (they might pick out the onions, but if they eat the rest, I’m happy).

Fajitas are usually meat, onions and peppers. I know there are recipes out there subbing mushrooms for the meat, but I am not a mushroom fan. So, I put zucchini in my fajitas. I saw a tip (pretty sure it was Rachael Ray) to scoop out the seeds of zucchini before you cook them so they don’t get mushy and it totally works.
Vegan Fajitas

1 med yellow onion, cut into wedges

1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips

1/2 red or orange bell pepper, cut in strips

2 small zucchinis, cut lengthwise with seeds removed, then cut into strips

Salt and pepper to taste

1/8 tsp liquid smoke (or less to taste)

1/2 tsp chili powder

Saute everything in olive oil over med-high heat. I like my veggies a little charred, but still crisp. Season with salt, pepper, chili powder and liquid smoke. Serve with tortillas and beans and rice on the side.

 

Seriously, my husband loved this. This is a great meal when you want something comforting without the meat. I don’t know that that makes sense, but I know when I cut out meat I just feel lighter. This filled me up without making me feel slow and sleepy. Good stuff!

Healing Hot Chocolate

I take gelatin every day. I usually have gelatin tea. I dissolve one tablespoon of gelatin in hot water and then throw a tea bag in to steep. Tea is not the best for covering the gelatin flavor. If I was a coffee drinker it would be much easier to drink my daily gelatin. Coffee completely masks any unpleasant flavor. I have coffee on occasion, but I would rather have hot chocolate for something special. There are times when I want something more decadent than tea.

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Single Serving Healing Hot Chocolate

  • 1 tablespoon gelatin*
  • 2 tablespoons organic sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 12 oz unsweetened almond/coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Stir together gelatin, sugar, cocoa and salt in a large mug.  Stir in one tablespoon of milk to make a paste. Slowly stir in rest of milk. Microwave for 1 minute, stir and heat one more minute or until desired temperature. Stir in vanilla and enjoy.

*For fabulous vegan hot chocolate just leave out the gelatin.

Hot chocolate and toast (sigh)

Hot chocolate and toast (sigh).

We used to have hot chocolate and toast on Sunday evenings. We would have a large Sunday dinner in the afternoon and then hot chocolate, fruit and toast for supper.

 

 

 

Super Fondue Party

There will be no football watching at our house on Sunday. I like to watch football. We watch football every Sunday during football season. However, my husband will be watching Super Bowl with his buddies and I really don’t care about the game. I follow the Saints and the Seahawks so this year I don’t need to watch the “big” game.

My girls and I are going to have a fondue party and watch old movies. If it is a hit we might invite some girlfriends over next year. I think Super Fondue Party could be an annual thing.

Starters:
Welsh Rarebit fondue
Vegan cheese fondue
sourdough bread
Granny Smith apples
olives
baby dill pickles
French Fries

Main:
Beef
Chicken
Ham
potatoes
broccoli
carrots (veggies lightly steamed or roasted)

Dessert:
Chocolate fondue
sugar cookie dippers
brownie bites
marshmallows
apples
pineapple

 

Welsh Rarebit Fondue (original recipe)

  • 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • dash hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

Have cheese at room temperature. In a small bowl beat the cheese on low with a hand mixer gradually add beer. Mix at medium speed until fluffy. Add Worcestershire, mustard, garlic and hot sauce. Beat well. Melt in fondue pot on stovetop. Blend cornstarch and water, add to fondue. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.

This is an old fondue recipe from my mama. We had fondue on New Year’s Eve when I was growing up. I have seen several recipes for fondue broth floating around and I know it would be healthier than frying, but I don’t want boiled beef. I just don’t. We don’t have fondue all that often anyway. I think the last time I had fondue was in college.  Can that be right? My husband has moved my fondue set (including pottery plates) all over the country for over ten years and we have never had fondue? That can’t be right.

Chocolate Fondue (adapted from the Gourmet International Fondue cookbook, vintage-super fun)

  • 2 tablespoons of honey or light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dairy free coffee creamer (nutpods)
  • 1 cups allergy free chocolate chips (Enjoy Life or similar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons Amaretto (after the kids go to bed)

Heat honey and creamer on stove, when honey is melted lower heat and stir in chocolate. Stir constantly until chocolate is melted. Stir in vanilla and liquor (if using).

I haven’t made the vegan cheese fondue yet and I have a couple of recipes I want to try before I post one. Here are the contenders:

Easy Vegan Fondue

Vegan Fondue

Melty Stretchy Gooey Vegan Mozzarella

I’ll let ya know how it goes. I’m also thinking of making my mom’s Welsh Rarebit with Dayia or Follow Your Heart vegan cheese. Sometimes commercial vegan cheese turns to liquid when you melt it though. Tricky.

I can’t seem to do anything without making a Pinterest board for it, so here is my fondue party board:

Yea for Pinterest and people who take pretty food pictures!

How-ya-like-it Halibut Chowder

How-ya-like-it Halibut Chowder

  • 1/2 pound bacon
  • 2 cups cubed ham (optional)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 6 potatoes, pealed and cubed
  • 1 carrot, shredded (optional)
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk beverage
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2-1 cup white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp dill weed
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne (to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons potato flour
  • 2 pounds of halibut or other fish
  • 2 cups broccoli, steamed
  • parsley

Preheat oven to 400°. Lay bacon flat on baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until it is done to your preference. Set bacon aside, use 1-2 tablespoons of drippings to saute onion and celery in a large pot. When the onion is translucent stir in the chicken broth, milk and wine. Add potatoes, carrots and spices. Bring to a simmer, cook for 20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. While soup is cooking put halibut skin side down in a baking dish. season with salt and pepper. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until fish flakes. Back to the soup- stir in potato flour, don’t be too worried about lumps, just keep stirring. Make sure to taste the soup and see if it needs more salt or spices. Serve soup with broccoli and halibut arranged on top. Sprinkle with parsley.

 

One of my children loves fish and broccoli, the other child acts as if I’m trying to kill her when I even mention fish. Serving chowder this way means that my husband can have as much fish as he wants and the children can have theirs on the side if they want. I also like that I don’t have to skin the fish first. Baking is the easiest way to make fish. AND I only cook bacon in the oven. I got so tired of fat popping on me that I decided to never make bacon on the stove again. I made this soup in the crock pot. So, I didn’t saute the veggies, I  just dumped everything in the pot and turned it on. About an hour before dinner, I turned on the oven and cooked the bacon. Then I baked the fish. While the fish was cooking I prepped the broccoli and set it to steam. I added the potato flour last. It sounds like a lot of work when I write it all out, but it was really easy.

I love the way the wine and spices compliment the fish in this recipe. If I could order chowder in a restaurant, this is the way I would want it to taste. So yummy served with sourdough bread.