Lunchbox “Cowboy” Cookies

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Gluten Free Peanut Butter Ranger Cookies

  • ½ cup margarine (dairy-free)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups oats (gluten free)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 cups rice crispies (gluten free)
  • 1 ½ cups chocolate chips (optional)

Cream together margarine, sugars and peanut butter. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Mix soda, baking powder, salt, oats and coconut.  Gently stir in crispies and chocolate chips. Chill dough for at least 1 hour (overnight would be better). Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on pan and then transfer to cooling rack. Makes 4 doz.

I am in so much trouble with these cookies. I would eat these until I am sick. I have to put them into a secure container as soon as they are cool. I’ve already eaten four, before they were actually cool. I must remember I made these to put in my daughter’s lunch, not eat (all of them) myself.

This recipe has been modified quite a bit. It started out as a recipe that my mom’s friend got from a bakery in Sun Valley. They were called ranger cookies. I halved the recipe and added peanut butter to them. Then I wanted to make them gluten free so I changed just about everything from the original recipe. Then I added chocolate chips, because my daughter wanted chocolate chip cookies. That is often the way recipes work at our house. Pretty sure my mom’s friend would not recognize these cookies as being the offspring of her recipe. I guess adding the chocolate chips makes these more like cowboy cookies. Whatever you want to call them, they are delicious!

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I had to put the cookies in bags inside the canister so that I don’t eat them all. These are reserved for school lunches only. Seriously, I can’t stop eating them!

GF DF Brownies

GF DF Brownies

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup DF chocolate chips
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup GF flour blend
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Melt coconut oil and chocolate chips in microwave safe bowl.  Stir in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well.  Add vanilla and cocoa powder. Mix well, until smooth. Add GF flour, salt and baking powder. Gently fold flour in, until just incorporated. Pour batter into greased 8×8 pan. Bake for 25- 30 minutes at 350°.

 

So, I made these for my little GF girl to have in her lunch. BUT, they smell so amazing! AND they are brownies. I really don’t know it I can resist them. She can’t eat the whole pan. They will be stale before she could eat all of them. Right?

These brownies are pretty fragile. I can’t seem to get the first one out of the pan without some damage. I have been sending them to school, but I prefer them in a dairy free brownie sundae!

Not a good photo. I’m working on it.

Mini Donut Break

 

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It is fall break here and at our house any school break is a reason to make donuts. This time I had two requests from the children. The eldest asked for gluten free and the youngest asked for “no pumpkin”. But it is FALL! Fine, no pumpkin. I wanted to have spice donuts, but after I put hemp protein powder in these babies, I decided that chocolate would be better. My kids are pretty good at eating what I give them, but green donuts aren’t terribly appetizing. So a couple of tablespoons of cocoa and these donuts were perfectly chocolate. These are so good! I’m still so new to gluten free baking. I haven’t even begun to figure it out. These actually turned out. They were light and so tender. I was trying to find a substitute for rye flour and in a list I saw hemp flour. AND since gluten free products benefit from protein added to them I thought “hemp protein powder”. It worked. I am so happy.

GF DF Chocolate Donuts

  • ½ cup GF flour blend (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • ¼ cup hemp protein powder (Manitoba Harvest)
  • ¼ cup oat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup cane sugar
  • Pinch freshly ground nutmeg OR dash pumpkin pie spice
  •  ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder (or carob powder)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  •  1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk beverage
  •  ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Stir egg, milk, and vanilla together. Add wet into dry ingredients. Stir in melted coconut oil. Preheat oven to 400° while the batter rests. Fill greased donut (or muffin) pan 1/3 full. Bake for 6-10 minutes (depending on pan size, 6 min. is perfect for mini donuts). Cool on wire rack and shake in*/sprinkle on powdered sugar. Makes about 18-24 mini donuts.

I have tried filling the donut pan using a spoon because I think it will be easier or less wasteful or something, but using a pastry bag or sandwich bag with the corner snipped is the best way to fill the pan.

*My girls love to cover the donuts in tons of sugar. Put 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar into a (food safe) paper bag. Gently toss 1-3 donuts in the bag at a time. These donuts are fragile and one or two have been lost to overzealous sugar shaking.

 

Raco? Taco Rice

I was thinking of calling this Mexican dirty rice or taco rice. The “raco” name was suggested by my eight year old. My DH went further to suggest that we open a raco truck. Hmm, yeah that isn’t happening. I was craving taco meat and rice and tortilla chips; raco was born. I guess this is like hamburger helper, although I can’t remember ever eating hamburger helper.  I have no idea how I got through college without eating hamburger helper, but as I was dealing with chronic headaches and food allergies at the time, I just never bought the stuff.

Raco

  • 1-1 1/2 lbs Grass-fed Ground Beef
  • 2 Tbsp, Taco Seasoning (Azure Market, GF and no weird stuff)
  • 1/2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes (Natural Value Organic)
  • Tortilla Chips
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves, rinsed, stems removed

Brown the ground beef, season with taco seasoning. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add cooked rice and pour tomatoes over all. Cook until bubbly. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Top with cilantro leaves and serve with tortilla chips.

Probably best to serve this with a green salad, this isn’t really the healthiest recipe, not veggie packed or anything. Still, it’s easy and yummy and probably not at all original. Oh, well. I mostly wanted to write down the recipe for the next time I make it.

GF DF Coco-nutty Chocolate Muffins

Coco-nutty Chocolate Muffins

Makes 6 Jumbo muffins or 12 regular muffins

  • 3/4 cup GF flour blend (I used Montana Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix, it is mostly oat flour)
  • 3/4 cup ground flax seeds (remove and set aside 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup hemp protein powder (like Manitoba Harvest Pro50)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

 

  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup coconut/almond milk (any dairy-free milk)
  • 3/4 cup organic sugar
  • 1 tablespoon old-fashioned molasses
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Optional toppings:

  • sliced almonds
  • coconut chips (big flakes)

 

Preheat oven to 400°. Grease muffin tin or use paper liners.

Pour vinegar and dairy-free milk into small bowl or measuring cup. Set aside.

Mix that tablespoon of flax seed meal (you took out of the 3/4 cup) and mix with 3 tablespoons of water. Set aside

Combine first 8 ingredients through chocolate chips in large mixing bowl.

Stir together pumpkin puree, sugar, molasses, vanilla, flax mixture (egg replacer) and milk/vinegar mixture in a small(ish) mixing bowl.

Add wet ingredients to dry. Gently stir until combined. Divide batter into muffin tin. (I use a measuring cup.) Top with sliced almonds and coconut chips (optional).

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean (hard to avoid chocolate chips though).

Almond Joy Muffin

 

I have a problem with Almond Joy Granola (minimalist baker). Every time I make it, I must eat it until it is gone. I have one bowl for breakfast and another one for afternoon snack and one more before I go to bed. My children may get one bowl, if they are quick. Favorite granola, hands down! Now,we also have our favorite chocolate muffins, but they have whole wheat flour and wheat germ and I am trying so hard to keep my child gluten free. So, what if we substitute ground almonds for the wheat germ and add in coconut because coconut goes with chocolate and almonds? I’m thinking these could be the next favorite muffins. (wrote this before muffins were actually made)

(written after muffins made and eaten) These taste nothing like the Almond Joy Granola or the candy bar (from what I remember). These muffins are super chocolaty with coconut and almond accents. I’ll probably try again for a more pronounced coconut flavored muffin, but for now I’m happy with chocolate!

I made these muffins last night. After they had been baking half an hour, I turned off the oven and left them in there overnight. This morning I served my (wary) children, each half a muffin. One picked the coconut off of the top and left the rest crumbled on her plate. My other child didn’t leave a crumb. So a mixed review. I thought they were yummy. Gluten free, dairy free,vegan, high fiber, what is not to love? I’m thinking I’ll have another one for snack. Is it snack time?

Is It? Is It Here? FALL!

I clearly remember the first time I found that I liked Fall. It was my freshman year of college. School didn’t start until the end of September, so for the first time in my life I could see Autumn coming. I wasn’t dreading the beginning of school. I enjoyed the weather getting cooler and the leaves changing. Plus, after school began I felt pretty collegiate walking around campus under the canopy of colorful foliage. Now, holy cow, people are going crazy over fall. Were people always crazy about fall, but because we didn’t have Pinterest we didn’t know? I like pumpkin, but get a grip! Pumpkin doesn’t have to be in everything! So, I’m gonna share some pumpkin recipes. Just kidding, no really I am. Only my favorite one though. I found I don’t care for savory pumpkin. Pumpkin soup, pumpkin chili, pumpkin pasta, pumpkin pasties? I found a whole page of savory pumpkin recipes from the Huffington Post, go ahead knock yourself out. This recipe is from Grandma Velma. She wasn’t really my grandma. My dad called her Aunt Velma, but she wasn’t his aunt either. Grandma Velma was vaguely related to us. Her family and my grandparents came out to Oregon from Arkansas about the same time. She was a character. She sewed quilts and watched soap operas all day. I have five quilts in my closet she made, plus an afghan and we were barely related! Just imagine how many quilts her actual grandchildren have! She was a great, old-fashioned, Southern gramma. And a great cook.

Pumpkin Cake Roll-From Grandma Velma

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 8 oz vegan cream cheese (like Tofutti)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter (like earth balance)

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease and flour a jelly roll pan and line with wax or parchment paper.

Beat eggs on high for 3 minutes. Gradually beat in the sugar. Stir in pumpkin and lemon juice. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients, fold into pumpkin mixture. pour batter into prepared pan. Top with nuts.

Bake for 15 minutes. Lay out a tea towel and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

When the cake is done carefully turn it out onto the sugar covered tea towel. remove the paper from the back of the cake. Roll the cake in the towel and let it cool.

Beat all the filling ingredients together until smooth.

Slowly and carefully unroll the cake. Smooth the filling over entire cake and roll again (with out the towel).

Chill and slice to serve.

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Gluten Free Dairy Free Tuna Noodles

GF and DF Tuna Noodle Casserole

  • 1 half medium onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 quarter bell pepper, diced (I use red)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning or salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2-2  cups unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup vegan cheddar cheese shreds
  • 1 tablespoon potato flour
  • 1 or 2 7 oz cans tuna, drained
  • 3 cups (dry) gluten-free elbows
  • crushed potato chips or vegan Parmesan to top (optional)

Cook noodles according to package directions. Saute onion, celery and pepper in olive oil or vegan butter in a medium sauce pan. Add seasoning and milk. Heat through. When little bubbles form around edge of pan, stir in potato flour. When most of the lumps have disappeared (don’t worry, it will be fine, just keep stirring) add in the cheese shreds. On low heat, stir until cheese is melted. Remove from heat. Stir in tuna. This is the time to add more milk, if it looks too dry/thick. Mix tuna sauce into cooked and drained noodles. (OR now you can add more milk, if it looks too dry.) Pour noodles and sauce into 2 qt casserole dish. Top with crushed potato chips or vegan parm. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes, uncovered.

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There it is. Up at the top so you don’t have to scroll through all my story-telling to get to the recipe. I hate when you have to search to find the recipe. (I know I am guilty of doing this.) I don’t care about your husband or your cat. I  really don’t want to hear about your fabulous trip to NYC. And I don’t want to see your gorgeous photos because I am jealous! (I have no talent in photography) I just want the recipe! So, now I can story-tell to my little heart’s content and it won’t be in anyone’s way.

I have a recipe for DF tuna and noodles, but now we are trying to be gluten free for my sweet daughter. This girl is a trooper. She has had so many health problems and I am just amazed at how she handles them. The only times I have been in the ER have been with her. I think that because her birth was so difficult, I am more nervous for her. I feel like she needs more protection. I also feel like I have let her down. I should have been more in tune to her body. I know I can’t make sure she doesn’t get sick, but oh, I want to do just that! Anyway, in my attempt to be a more overbearing mother I have decided to eliminate gluten from her diet. Now we are going to be dairy AND gluten free. I am praying that it makes a difference in her health. I am going to be super vigilant for 6 months to see if it makes any difference. Then I might relent and let her have Chick-fil-A nuggets because I hate to deny her of her favorite things. This is where my darling husband would say “Are you the mom?” Yes, I am the mom, but I also know how hard it is to not eat your favorite food. I so wanted my children to be able to eat whatever they wanted, but being healthy is more important. And that is the moral of today’s story.

Jambalaya My Way

Marrying someone from a different ethnic/geographical background than your own expands your horizons. Learning to cook Louisiana style foods has been a learning process for me. I haven’t heard of other people making Jambalaya this way, but I think it works best. Most recipes call for cooking the rice in the same pot with the meat and tomatoes, but I had a hard time with my rice sticking or becoming a gummy mess. So I decided to cook my rice in the rice cooker and then just stir it in to the cooked meat and veggies.

Jambalaya

2 cups uncooked rice (cook in rice cooker)
1 lb chicken (breast, thigh, combo)
12-16 oz anduille or smoked sausage
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 ribs celery, diced
1/2 Bell pepper, diced
1/2 bottle Gluten Free beer* (like Omission)
16 oz canned tomatoes
2 tsp Garlic
2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/4 tsp Basil
1/4 tsp Sage
salt and pepper to taste (or cajun/creole seasoning)
2 tsp tamari* (gluten free soy sauce) optional

So, what I do is cook the rice in the rice cooker and while that is going I start the chicken in a deep skillet on the stove. I usually cook it frozen (because planning ahead is not my forte) and then chop it up and plop it back into the pan. Then I add the sausage and brown it up a bit. Next comes the veggies. When the onion is translucent I deglaze the pan with beer.  Let the beer cook down a bit. Add the tomatoes and spices. Stir it all together and let it come to a simmer. Pile the rice on top and stir it all together. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.

It may not be the traditional way to make Jambalaya, but it works for me.

*If you aren’t GF just use regular beer and soy sauce.

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Easter Dinner Plus

I tend to over-cook on holidays. Growing up, our holidays were so focused on food that I feel like my children will be missing something if I don’t have a feast for them every holiday. So, Easter.

Brunch Menu:
Deviled eggs
bacon
sausage links
poppy-seed muffins
fruit and juice

Dinner Menu:
Roast Pork
mashed potatoes
carrots
potato salad
spinach salad
green beans
lemon meringue pie

This is what I planned for my family. Me, husband, two girls. Four people.  I was the only one to eat the roast on Sunday. Apparently, I should have assumed that my children would prefer left-over chili-mac to a roast dinner. The dreams of sitting down to a well laid table with flowers and candles and children in their frilly Easter dresses was dashed. The reality being children gobbling up chili-mac surrounded by pastel colored tin foil candy wrappers. And my husband sitting in his chair in the living room, eating only potato salad and sausages. That seems to be the way holidays go in our house. If I really cared I would force my family to change, but if they are happy, I’ll leave it alone.

I might have got a bit carried away, but, BUT I learned something! I put two small roasts in the crock pot and I have three different meals. After I had my roast dinner, I put the left over meat in Ziploc bag and stuck it in the fridge. The next day I took out the bag and kneaded the meat until it was shredded. I love to use a mixer to shred chicken when it is hot, but this was even easier. You just need more time. So, after I smooshed the meat around the bag I took out half and warmed it up with BBQ sauce (recipe below) and served pulled pork sandwiches. The other half I warmed up with salsa verde (Herdez brand) and made pork tacos. And tonight my family can decide if they want BBQ or tacos. I love left overs.

I did make a change to my menu; I made a chocolate chess pie instead of the lemon meringue. I wanted something a little easier, with fewer steps. Here are a couple of recipes so people like me might actually read this post.

 

Sonny’s BBQ Sauce
Ingredients:
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (scant)
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or less for the kids
Several dashes liquid smoke

Whisk it all together and heat on the stove if you want.

Chocolate Chess Pie

½ cup margarine
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup cocoa
3 eggs
1 tsp. cornmeal
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. vinegar
Unbaked 9” pie shell

Cream margarine and sugar. Add remaining ingredients, mix well. Turn into pie shell and bake at 325º for about 45 minutes or until firm. Let cool before serving. If it is still warm at serving time add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This pie is also yummy the next day just out of the fridge. It is chocolate pie, it’s just good.

 

When I came up with the BBQ sauce recipe Sonny’s wasn’t selling their sauce except at their restaurants. When we lived in Florida we went to Sonny’s quite often and we always had sauce packets in the fridge. BBQ isn’t so popular in Idaho. We have a couple of places that we like to go, but (even though it’s a chain) I miss Sonny’s. Now I see that you can buy their sauce on Amazon, but I like the recipe I use. I really don’t feel compelled to spend $17 on BBQ sauce. If you have never been to a Sonny’s, the sauce is sweet, a little tangy and a little spicy, but mostly sweet. I like it that way. We once went to BBQ in Alabama and there was no sugar in their sauce; tomato base with mustard, vinegar and no sugar. No thank you. Yes, I am from the Northwest and no, I don’t know anything about barbecue, but I know what I like. (And that wasn’t it!)

The chocolate chess pie recipe is from my mom. You can leave out the cocoa and have a plain chess pie, which I love covered in fresh blackberry or raspberry syrup. THE taste of summer! Better make a note of that and make some chess pie and berry syrup in a few months. I love summer.

Re-boot camp

It is hard to eat healthy and exercise ALL the time. Sometimes I want chocolate cake more than I want to fit in my new little black dress. However, I don’t want to go through the hassle of returning my new LBD, so T-Tapp re-boot camp it is!

I read Extra Petite blog occasionally for fashion ideas.  I am fashionally challenged. I’m a mom, I live in Idaho, I don’t work outside of my home. I would like to be fashionable, but I don’t have much inspiration. Anyway, I finally decided to buy a good LBD and bought one from Ann Taylor. I usually buy my clothes from Old Navy or Land’s End, on sale, on clearance, I want a whole ton of clothes for $100, so buying a dress that was on sale for $100 was a big deal for me. (Yes, I am thrifty cheap) I knew I had been slacking off on my diet and exercise regime, but I didn’t want to buy a bigger dress, I bought the size I should be. I was able to zip it up and everything, but walking was a little difficult and the back was all lumpy above my (slightly inflated) bootie.  My husband thought I looked hot. I really shouldn’t ask him for fashion advice. I don’t need to loose 20 pounds or anything I just need a little adjustment. I think it was good that the dress didn’t fit. I can lie to myself about gaining a few pounds, I can find clothes that still fit me in my closet, but new clothes don’t lie. And plus expensive clothes are usually bigger than cheap clothes. Whatever, if I can’t fit myself into this dress in two weeks I’ll return it.

Spring break is in three weeks, my family and I are going to relax at a couple of our favorite hot springs. Idaho is full of hot springs. I think I’ll write something just about hot springs next time. Anyway, in three weeks I will be in a swim suit, in public, so I think that is a good incentive for my re-boot camp.

T-Tapp is my go-to exercise program. It isn’t glamorous, or sporty, or popular, but it works for me. My sister gets bored doing the same exercises over and over, but I like that I can memorize the moves. I also like that the workout is in a flowing sequence that I can do in 15-20 minutes. For my re-boot camp I am going back to the instructional videos. Slowing down and focusing on form will help my mind and body reset. I could just go back to my 20 minute daily work out, drink green smoothies and keep track of my calories on myfitnesspal.com, but I think I need a new beginning. I’m ready for Spring. Well, I’m ready to get ready for Spring!

Today’s Plan:

T-Tapp instructional video #2
Strawberry Lemonade Smoothie
Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
Vegetable Minestrone Soup
8 glasses of water
Early to bed

 

Strawberry Lemonade Green Smoothie


1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup water
2 tablespoons raisins
4 tablespoons hemp protein powder
2 cups baby spinach
2 cups frozen strawberries
juice of 1 lemon
2 small bananas

Blend ingredients through spinach, when the spinach is blended add rest of ingredients and blend until smooth. I divided this into three servings at about 200 calories per serving (according to myfitnesspal.com).